On Craft, Characters, and Likeability…

Sadist's Bible PMRC

Kevin Pinkerton’s Fun, Post-Controversy Tweak of the Cover

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in two recent interviews that asked great questions about craft, violence, characterization and likeability. Both of these interviews were completed before the recent controversy about The Sadist’s Bible, but I can’t think of a better time for them to be posted!

Critic Karl Wolff’s interview with me was just posted today over at his blog. This is the interview where I talk the most about the likeability question. (We also get into a related discussion of Poe’s concept of “the imp of the perverse”.)

Last week, Jackie Chin and I did a video interview on her weekly You Tube show, Zombiepalooza Radio Live. My interview starts at the two hour mark and lasts roughly until the three hour mark of the video, but there are plenty of other interesting guests before and after me, too.

StokerCon 2016 Wrap-Up

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I had a blast at StokerCon 2016. Obviously, the awards ceremony was a highlight of the con for me. But I also taught a workshop, had two positive pitch sessions, and connected with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Here are pics from the event. (Most, but not all, taken by Hubbie Cushing. The pic of me holding the Stoker award in the ballroom was taken by my friend Rhonda Rettig, and the official Stoker winners photo was taken by S. Scranton Photography.)




Disclaimer: Actual TANGENT ONLINE reviewer not  pictured.


For the first time in my career a reviewer has seen fit to slap a trigger warning on my work. And what a trigger warning it is: “Trigger warning: extreme lesbian sexual imagery, torture, blasphemy.”

Hell…that’s not a trigger warning. That’s a tagline!

Here’s a link to the entire review. You should check it out. It’s a fun read.

By the way, the ebook costs $1.99. So if you want to go ahead and skip the review and see what all the pearl clutching is about, you can buy it from Amazon or directly from the fine folks at 01 Publishing.


Thank You

Stoker Cushing 1

Photo by Rhonda Rettig

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has congratulated me for winning the Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. I’ve always been proud to be the author of Mr. Suicide, but now I’m even prouder. Kudos to all the other winners and nominees!

I look forward to going home, getting some rest, then focusing on my new projects. But I’ll always treasure the memories I’ve made here in Vegas.

The Weirdest Thing to Happen So Far at StokerCon

God Wants Us BrokenThose of you who have read The Sadist’s Bible know that it describes a fictional, bizarre religious pamphlet that figures into the plot. The good folks at 01 Publishing have partnered with artist Patrick McEvoy to produce real-life versions of this tract for free distribution at StokerCon as a unique collector’s item.

Apparently, Patrick did such a good job of replicating the artistic style of gospel tracts that some participants haven’t realized that they’re a tie-in promo for The Sadist’s Bible! Many folks think that real religious crackpots left these at the literature table at StokerCon in an attempt to convert horror writers! What a hoot! (Or, as certain characters in Mr. Suicide might say, “a hoot and a half.”)


My StokerCon Schedule

StokerCon-logo-red-whiteSo on Wednesday I’ll be traveling out to StokerCon in Las Vegas. I arrive Wednesday evening (Vegas time). However, I’ve been known to be tired and grumpy right after flying. So, if I’m not out and about Wednesday night, assume I’m hibernating until Thursday.

My involvement in convention programming is (for no particular reason) confined to Saturday and Sunday.  Here are the details.

Saturday May 14, 8-10 a.m. — I’ll be teaching my workshop “Goal Setting for Your Writing Career (or Hobby)” in Virginia City 3

Saturday May 14, 3:00 p.m. — I’ll be signing books in the Dealers Room, alongside Marge Simon and Janet Joyce Holden. (The signing event is open to the public. So if you’re in the Vegas area but can’t do the con, stop by just for the signing.) Copies of my Bram Stoker Award® nominated books Mr. Suicide and The Mirrors will be on sale through the official convention bookseller, Barnes & Noble.

Saturday May 14 7:30-10:30 p.m. —  Bram Stoker Awards® banquet. Win or lose, the meal will likely be scrumptious.

(I also have a couple of pitch sessions scheduled on Saturday afternoon. I’m very much looking forward to them.)

Sunday 10-11 a.m. — I share a reading slot with John Urbancik. I’ll be giving away a free book or two during this reading, and (if I recall correctly) John will, too.

A note to media folks: if you’re interested in interviewing me at StokerCon for your podcast, YouTube show, magazine, etc. feel free to ask me at the event. If you’d like to set up something ahead of time, email me at nicolecushingwriter (at) gmail (dot) com.







Interviewed by the StokerCon Folks About My Workshop on Goal Setting for Writers

StokerCon-logo-red-whiteIn 2008, when I first started out, I found this plethora of (often conflicting) advice overwhelming. Like many newer writers, I lacked confidence and so I tended to glom onto whatever bit of advice was fashionable in my local writers group or on the blog of Big Bestselling Author Dude. I wasted time chasing other writers’ definitions of success, but didn’t know it was okay to create my own…Since that time, I’ve figured out a lot about what I want out of my writing career. But I don’t want other writers to go through what I did. So I want to demystify the whole process of coming up with goals and demystify how we define success.

That’s a quote from an interview I recently gave to the StokerCon folks about my workshop “Goal Setting for Your Writing Career (or Hobby)”. Although we’re now just a week away from the convention, there are still spaces available for this workshop (which will be held on the Saturday of the con, May 14). Click on the interview link to find out more.

The Indiana Primary Election

I Write and I Vote

I voted this morning in Indiana’s primary election, where there are important races going on. (From the presidential primaries all the way down to county council.)

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, but I want to urge all my fellow Hoosiers to educate themselves about what’s going on and vote according to what they think is best for their country, state, and county.


My StokerCon Workshop on Writing Goals and Defining Success


StokerCon-logo-red-whiteWhen I first started pursuing a writing career eight years ago, I found myself deluged with advice from self-appointed experts. You find these kinds of folks everywhere: local writing groups, podcasts, the blogosphere, convention panels, you name it. You can even find them at late night con parties. (I will always remember the time I was at a party in 2010, stone cold sober, while one completely shitfaced superstar explained to me that I wasn’t a “real writer” because I didn’t have an agent.)

So yes, some people will say you need to have an agent. Others will say that only fools get agents and that you should pursue self-publishing. Some will say success means writing full time. Others say that it is nearly impossible to do so in today’s publishing world. Still others will tell you that you should focus your efforts on the small press and work your way up. Others dismiss the small press entirely.

And so on…

I wasted a lot of time, early on, trying to find the one, true path to publishing success. A lot of time.  Eventually, I found that no such animal exists.

It’s a mistake to look at publishing as a single, monolithic entity. It is, instead, a million different activities taking place in an arena that’s as long and wide and deep as the Pacific Ocean. Asking “How does one find success in publishing?” is a bit like asking “What’s the temperature of the Pacific Ocean?”.  There’s no one, correct answer.

However, finding what the answer is for you is essential. Too many writers fail to achieve success (or fail to enjoy it once they achieve it) because they aren’t able to be brutally honest with themselves about who they are and what they want. I was able to eventually get to the point of defining my writing goals, but I never want anyone else to have to go through the years of uncertainty that I did.

My StokerCon workshop: “Goal Setting for Your Writing Career (or Hobby)” will help students begin the process of defining their own writing goals. I’ve taught this workshop before at the Indianapolis Speculative Fiction Guild’s retreat and have received some great feedback on the evaluation forms. (Some of which I’ll be sharing at the end of this post.) I’m now stoked (see what I did there?) to be bringing my Hoosier know-how to the bright lights of Vegas!

The workshop is divided into two parts. In the first part, I focus on introducing you to three written self-assessment exercises that we’ll complete in class. (Don’t worry…your responses to these exercises will not be shared with me or the other students. I encourage you to simply use them for your own, individual guidance.) These exercises will help you identify:

  1. Your unique obsessions. Those topics, experiences, and fascinations that stir your soul and would make great material for stories. (Regardless of which path you take.)
  2. Your unique strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Your honest ambitions.

The second part of the workshop provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the current publishing ecosystem and the pros and cons of various publishing paths (large New York publishing, small press publishing, and self-publishing). At the conclusion of the workshop, students will be provided with a list of websites, books, and podcasts they should check out to find out more about achieving success in each path. (And of course, you’ll be keeping the self-assessment exercises for future reference as well.)

My strategy for this workshop is to have you increase your knowledge of yourself (in the first hour) and your knowledge of the publishing business (in the second hour) so that you can eventually determine how the two can best connect with each other (when you arrive back home after the convention).

Sound interesting? Spaces are still available. Click the link to register.

Students Praise “Goal Setting for Your Writing Career (or Hobby)”

“Nicole rocked it at the Speculative Fiction Guild retreat with her workshop on setting goals, addressing an audience of writers at various stages of their journey, from new to several years.”

“Interactive exercises helped make it personal and focused.”

“Very informative workshop.”

“Nicole is an engaging speaker who shows she understands the perspective of her students by relating personal experiences related to the subject matter.”

“A great tool for examining our goals and motivations.”

“Very focused.”







Spilling the Beans to LitReactor…


Sadists_Cover_digitalThis morning my interview with Christopher Shultz of LitReactor went live. So far, there seems to be a number of readers who dig it because I go into a lot of detail about my creative process. And if that doesn’t convince you to take a look, Christopher and I also chat a bit about Svengoolie, the future of transgressive fiction, and The Sadist’s Bible.

Where’s the link, you ask?

Right here, ladies and gents. Right here. Step right up!



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