Monster’s Ball/Through The Looking Glass at Burning Life

•October 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Me and my friend Penelope Parx are participating in BURN2- Carnival of Mirrors 2015 which is the SecondLife incarnation of BurningMan.

(from the Burn2 – Carnival of Mirrors Website):

BURN2 Carnival of Mirrors Event

BURN2 2015: Carnival of Mirrors will open on Saturday the 17th of October at noon SLT with a procession by the Lamplighters, beginning at their Village which is not far from the Welcome Gate where you arrive. You are all invited to explore, experience and express the joy of the Burn and revel in the music, art and colourful constructions born out of the imaginations of creative Burners. And, of course there will be fire!

More information about the event can be seen via the menu at the left side of the home page here on

We invite members of the press to come and visit on Friday, the 16th of October, before the opening of this festival of fire that is an echo of Burning Man in a virtual setting, so they may pass along a teaser of what has been prepared for the celebration of the Burn. With a Press Pass you will be able to visit from 10:00am to 8:00pm SLT. BURN2 Staff and creatives will be on hand to answer questions and share information. Apply for your Press Pass! We look forward to seeing you and saying, “Welcome Home!”

Monster’s Ball/Through The Looking Glass

by Penelope Parx and Miki Bizet

Monsters Ball Through The Looking Glass_004The Monster’s Ball is a “Through the Looking Glass” duality themed dance illustrating the tension between how we view ourselves and how we are viewed by others. Penelope Parx’s sculpture depicts a mirror which, viewed from one side, shows ordinary people viewing themselves as monsters – from the other, monsters who view themselves as quite ordinary. Inside of each of us is a monster,and each of us can be viewed as monstrous by others.

Miki Bizet’s contribution to “The Monster’s Ball takes place in a crazy alternate version of Death Guild’s Thunderdome, a fixture at the real Burning Man. In the Looking Glass world, all of the battles are out on the dancefloor. In the central feature, “Love’s A Crazy Ride,” a spinning carousel invites people to dance in groups and pairs. On the exterior, singles spin on their own rather than in tandem, because even monsters are out seeking kindred spirits.

I have a couple of friends who go to Thunderdome in real life regularly, most notably Marisa Lenhardt, an opera diva Thunderdome-Burning-Manwho (from her website) “has had the honor of appearing at multiple performances with world-famous diva Frederica von Stade, has performed with the Chris Brubeck trio and the Oakland.”  My friend Porter Venn also regularly BurningMan and goes there regularly- maybe we can build PlanetEarth, his 80s themed dance club on the Playa, in SecondLife some other year.

Back to the virtual world at hand: the freebies at the Monster’s Ball are plentiful and surreal, mostly wearables: a Sharktopus plushy, a crate of t-shirts (thanks to Hekate Galatea for the “Secret Chicken” ones), a mutant zombie costume, a pet snake, and a pet rat.

I will do my best to stop by during the press junket today, unless life intervenes.

Monsters Ball Through The Looking Glass_001

Lots of Freebies!

Vampire Culture in Our Society (Guest Blog by Maria Ramos)

•October 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Prof Pic 1Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy.

You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889

Find her earlier guest blog about Bram Stoker’s Dracula here..

Vampire Culture in Our Society

Bram_Stokers_DraculaThe myth of the vampire has existed almost as long as civilization has existed, and longer than just about any other monster myth. Whether tagged with the label ‘vampire’ or not, creatures with the telltale characteristics of rising from the dead and having an insatiable lust for blood have populated the mythologies of various cultures back hundreds of years.

Today’s vampires are a far cry from their historical counterparts, having evolved over the years and with the times, as any enduring monster myth is prone to do. Still, with the abundance of today’s vampire stories catering to a younger and more mixed demographic by portraying the creature as sexy, brooding, and sometimes essentially good, it’s refreshing to see a series like The Strain with its at times ridiculous and slightly silly portrayals of the monsters who are nonetheless the scary monsters they were always meant to be.

Vampires, like zombies and other mythical monsters, have come to represent the fears and threats of whatever times in which they are created or resurrected. Our modern ideal of the vampire can invariably be traced back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, composed in 1897. Even then, Stoker’s creation was a reflection of the fears of the times, both a commentary on the negative repercussions of sexual promiscuity within the strict Victorian society and a representative of the monstrous Jack the Ripper, who was haunting London streets at the turn of the century. What the original Dracula was not, until further evolution at the hands of later pop cultures, was sexy or alluring.

The-Strain-Worm-PosterEven though Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in the 1931 movie of the same name had already begun to change the original character into a younger, darker, and more aristocratic version of the monster – but he was still a monster in his own right and reflective of the fears of the times, including a fear of foreigners infiltrating and destroying all in their path. Fast forward several decades to the cold war era in which Christopher Lee’s version of Dracula was considered the epitome of all things foreign and evil, to the vampires of the 1960’s and 1970’s, enjoying sexual freedom without morals or discrimination, on to the Anne Rice vampires of the 1980’s, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer versions of the 1990’s, and to the True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and Twilight series vampires of today, looking so much like us but yet not us at all.

Given the influx over the last couple of decades of vampires geared toward a mostly teenaged and twenty-something audience featuring vampires that are defined by their brooding good looks and attacks of conscience, the creatures depicted in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogy turned television series are refreshingly monstrous throwbacks to the legendary roots of the vampire – while still maintaining a side that’s unique and original.

The vampires of The Strain don’t look like us (I mean, just look at that tongue, for instance) or act like us, and they certainly16164-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-poster don’t maintain any type of sexual appetite after the disease effectively removes all trace of sexual organs as it runs its course. And yet they are supposedly mutated from human beings by way of a parasitic infection. Moreover, the infection of vampires in the novels have lead to a highly polluted New York in which the sky is dark all the time allowing the vampires to roam freely.

In a way, these vampires potentially represent our very real fears of the spread of global illnesses or epidemics and the effects on humanity.Many speculate that human activity, if left unchecked, could lead to a world like this of substantial pollution and quickly dwindling resources. Unless humanity starts paying closer attention and takes action in common sense situations, such as recycling and seeking renewable resources from energy providers and gas companies, we could end up in a post-apocalyptic society ourselves.

With the ongoing success of such franchises as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, there’s no denying the audience appeal for vampires that resemble darker, scarier, and less inhibited versions of today’s teenagers, college students, and young professionals. But, just as with any mythical monster, as times change and global issues continue to evolve, so too will our vampire fictions.

Sentiment (Poetry)

•October 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment


Artwork "Single Room Occupancy" by Sumiko Saulson

Artwork “Single Room Occupancy” by Sumiko Saulson

In a quiet place
Far away from the superficiality
Of exterior opinion
Where I and eye
Look into and without
From the place of our own
Soul dominion
I have become circumspect
With my own introspection
And upon redirect
Asked myself
A few questions
The answers were so obvious
When all around me was silence
It made me wonder why I ever found it
Necessary to speak
Wanting to be understood
Could be the undoing of us all
It’s a need to be loved
That has laid many low
My love was thoughtful
And quiet
was silent and sweet
So I slew her for the benefit
Of a world that finds all things feminine
Soft and weak
I broke her trembling hand
I burst her smiling lips
I turned and walked away
With my hand upon my hips
Some would call me strong because
I shot down the woman in me
But I could have been braver
I do understand
I do what I can
You’ll have to forgive me

I am only a man
I am only a man

What Lives In The Darkness? Guest Blog by Tom Obert

•October 6, 2015 • 2 Comments


Welcome to Fall Into Horror with Mocha Memoirs Press!

Mocha Memoirs Press is celebrating the new Fall season by showcasing their love of horror and the authors who write it. Please welcome TOM OLBERT as he shares his thoughts on fall and horror.



And fall is here. Only just, but its chill fingers can already be felt creeping up our spines. Before we know it, the leaves will turn, the days will shorten, and the shadow of the equinox will creep in silently in summer’s wake. The time of transition, when, it is said, the veil between this world and the next runs thin, and spirits walk the earth. Time for tales of horror to slip under the wire of our reason and stoke the fires of our nightmares.

Horror takes many forms, both subtle and gross. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves and ghouls. The shadows of arcane superstition that never stop haunting us, even into this digital age. The unknown touching our primal fears from the inky blackness of the dark.

But, there’s another kind of horror, too. The horror of the dark places within the human mind and the dark places buried deep in the human soul, where we fear to look, perhaps even more than we fear the darkness outside. The demons we carry within are the ones we can never escape. Such evil can take many forms. Like the shadowy figure of Jack the Ripper skulking in the shadows of dark, misty, gas lit midnight streets, transcending time and space, a seemingly eternal horror that will always be with us. Because such evil is waiting to be born in the depths of each human soul, and will never die.

In my novella “Black Goddess,” I tried to explore those dark depths we call evil. The evil of the torturer. Of the murderer. The evil of hate and revenge and unimaginable cruelty that defies all reason and devours the soul of both victim and victimizer. Such darkness has been with us from the beginning, in particularly dark chapters of history, taking on forms of evil so pure, so horrific that our darkest dreams pale in comparison.

The eternal question presents itself to a troubled young man who has seen evil up close and intimately: Is evil merely a random perversion of human emotion spawned by violence and chaos, or…is evil a primal force, like a dark infection stealing its way into the human soul, feeding on it from within like a parasite, until nothing beside remains?

The protagonist of “Black Goddess” becomes obsessed with the nature and essence of the evil that has destroyed his life and his faith. His search for answers evolves into a dark quest that is destroying him, little by little. The closer he draws to the dark, forbidden cosmic truth at the heart of the darkness, the more he hungers for it to the exclusion of all else, like a drug addict endlessly seeking his next fix. He has given his life, and possibly his soul to a dark experiment through which he reaches closer and closer to the center of time and space. What will he find at the center of creation? God, or Satan? When he looks into the mirror of the first moment of time, will he find light or darkness at the core of his own soul?

What can any of us expect to find, when we peel back the layers of sanity we show to the world, and face the darkness we carry inside?



Comment below and click on the rafflecopter options below for a chance to win the tour prize, a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
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Continue on with this FALL INTO HORROR. You can join Mocha Memoirs Press authors and share in their love of horror on Facebook. You can also click on the links below to meet other horror authors:



Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC is a genre-oriented publishing company. Their vision is to provide an outlet for outstanding speculative and romance stories that often fall beneath the radar of traditional publishing houses. They seek to provide quality stories that invigorate the reader’s literary palette like a good, strong coffee. Like great coffee houses, they offer a variety of flavors. They publish stories in the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance, including the sub-genres of steampunk, cyberpunk, diesel punk, alternate history, weird westerns, and mash-ups.


Women and Agency in Opposite Sex Pairings

•October 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

screaming mikiOne interesting thing that came up near the end of the “Women of Marvel” panel was the observation (made by the only man on the panel, as it so happens, and yes he was white) that female characters, upon entering a romantic involvement with a male character, tend to lose all of their personal agency and become an adjunct to this man.

Well, I think in this situation, it’s sadly a case of art imitating life. Social norms dictate that a woman, once involved with a man, is communicated to through this man instead of directly. Male-female coupling often leads to a lessening of personhood for women. That puts women in a situation where we feel we have to choose between romance and independence.

I feel sorry for a lot of men – especially ones who aren’t so bright who wind up involved with a very ambitious or driven woman. A lot of the reasons I broke up with Greg had directly to do with his male chums playing into his male ego and the idea that as a man, he was not only entitled to, but honor bound to speak for me.

Well, I’ve got 18 years and about 60 IQ points on the dude, I didn’t want him speaking for me. I didn’t want my choices to be determined by a man who – not only I – but everyone else – knew was much worse at decision making than I am.

Now lot of people are telling me that I need a smarter man to make decisions for me. And I keep saying, “No. What I need is to make my own choices. I love men, don’t get me wrong – I just don’t want them making choices for me. Is that OK?”

dads tombstoneNow that I am single, I notice that people are constantly trying to suss out whether or not I may be involved with some man who has the power to tell me what the fuck to do. People are all like, “Oh… maybe she likes him. Maybe we can get him to put her in her place.”

Not sure where my place is, by the way. But wherever it is, it’s probably under some guys, who are protecting me from other guys (in their minds) because you know, the big bad boogieman other dude is the reason you need to control women. For our own protection. From other men who might be trying to “use us” for our bodies, or our money, or whatever things that are ours that you need to control for us because we can’t be allowed to control our own bodies, or our own money.

Historically, women who were no longer under the control of men – mostly childless widows, or widows without male heirs to take control of their estates – were considered so powerful and dangerous that witch hunts were used to divest them of their property.

Nowadays we just prematurely age women – men my age literally run the world, but you want to tell middle aged women we are in our dotage. Seriously? Tell it to Obama, he’s considered extremely freaking young for a president. Tell it to Donald Trump.

The average lifespan for women is 86 now. That means the middle of your life is 43. People in their 40s are only half way through their lives. If you are a man, that means you are coming into your own.A woman in her 40s can come into her own, too, but not without a fight.

mikinronnieI admire and respect women who are successfully able to conduct relationships with men without losing their personal identity or sight of their own ambitions. It’s a little late in life but, I suppose it is time for me to admit that I have ambitions and dreams of my own. I want to be more than someone’s wife, someone’s daughter, or someone’s fiancee.

None of this is easy for a very romantic person. It’s not easy for a girl who is prone to smiling and laughing in the rain for no reason. I’m so used to sucking up the smallest drop of a man’s love like a flower trying to grow in the desert. I am used to allowing the need for that love to interfere with everything that means anything to me. I’m just a girl who misses her daddy sometimes.

Before my dad died, he told Greg he was glad he was there to take care of me. The last words my dad said to Greg were, “Get off the couch. Miki has to drive.” Greg was passed out. My dad wasn’t perfect, but he loved me. My dad knew how I was – an emotional chick who always liked to have someone there to hold my hand. It’s like the premium for hand holding got too high. I was going to have to pay through the roof for hand holding.

I still want someone to hold my hand. I just want to be treated as an equal – not inferior because I’m human and I need some affection. Is that really too much to ask for?

One good thing about dating is, you can send these guys back to their homes afterward and they don’t stick around trying to run your life. So if you see me out and about with a man and we’re doing our thing and having a good old time, do him a solid: don’t start trying to determine what his relationship to me is, and whether or not you can use him to control me. If I start feeling like a dude is being used to put me in my place, I am going to run away from him screaming, like he’s made out of chains and trying to trap me somehow. I just need me right now.

I hope that’s okay.

Guest Blog Fall into Horror Alexandra Christian

•September 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment


Welcome to Fall Into Horror with Mocha Memoirs Press!

Mocha Memoirs Press is celebrating the new Fall season by showcasing their love of horror and the authors who write it. Please welcome ALEXANDRA CHRISTIAN as they share their thoughts on fall and horror.

Why Characters are So Important


So I’m known for writing romance and I’m okay with that. Romance has given me a lot in the last several years. Even if it’s tragic, I love a good love story. Which surprises a lot of people who know me personally. I’ve been described by my family and friends as weird, morbid, and dark. My bookshelf looks like some kind of monument to Stephen King. So to the outside world, the fact that I write and read romance novels probably seems slightly off-kilter. Shouldn’t I be a horror novelist? I’ve often asked myself that same question. But truthfully—the procedures are quite similar if you think about it. Both horror and romance are fueled by the love between the characters. At least, they should be.

Take Stephen King’s The Shining. On the surface that story is about a man who is half-crazed with desperation losing his mind in a haunted hotel. That is NOT what The Shining is about. It’s about a little boy who loves his father and knowing that something terrible is happening to him. It’s about a man who loves his family so much that he’s willing to go to any length to support them. It’s about a mother who is at the end of her rope but still praying for a miracle because she loves her husband. In fact, Wendy is almost as perceptive as Danny. She knows something terrible is happening to her husband but because of her love for both him and her child, she’s trying to make the best of things. The love between those characters is what holds that story together. Without it, the whole thing would just be bland.

So many people think that horror is about scaring or hate or monsters and to an extent it is. Horror is often dealing with our deepest fears and the monsters are usually outward personifications of those dark things within ourselves that we’d like to forget. But at the center of any good horror story, there has to be a complex character(s) that the reader can care about. At least to some degree. Otherwise, what’s the point? Who cares if the monster eats Johnny’s face if Johnny is a flat character with no relationships and no personality? That’s why the climax of Dracula is Lucy’s very gruesome death. Once Dracula kills Lucy—devoted friend of Mina—the intensity of the story grows to a fever pitch, making it imperative that they slay the vampire. And then at the end of the story when Dracula is ultimately destroyed—we actually feel bad for him. Stoker spends all that time building the characters through those journal entries so that we care when bad things start to happen. And that’s what makes a good horror story.

This month I get to make my debut as an editor with the release of An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries that are also horror stories. There’s a wide variety of stories there. Everything from zombies to werewolves and even a vampire story, but the one thing they all have in common are great characters. Beyond the mystery, Holmes and Watson have an interesting relationship that really plays into putting them in horrific situations. Not only that, but my authors have introduced some original characters that add depth to the stories that rival Conan Doyle’s—in my humble opinion. A pair of scheming old lady novelists, a brother and sister desperate to retain their immortality, a fallen nobleman who is so frantic to regain his former glory that he’d resort to extreme measures—these are just some of the characters that you’ll encounter.

So when the autumn chill is upon us, curl up with a cup of tea and a great horror story. Mocha Memoirs Press is spotlighting their horror titles this month and I’m sure there’s something there to tickle your fancy. Vampires, aliens, werewolves, or real-world monsters—there’s a book for every taste! Happy reading!

An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Comment below and click on the rafflecopter options below for a chance to win the tour prize, a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Continue on with this FALL INTO HORROR. You can join Mocha Memoirs Press authors and share in their love of horror on Facebook. You can also click on the links below to meet other horror authors:



Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC is a genre-oriented publishing company. Their vision is to provide an outlet for outstanding speculative and romance stories that often fall beneath the radar of traditional publishing houses. They seek to provide quality stories that invigorate the reader’s literary palette like a good, strong coffee. Like great coffee houses, they offer a variety of flavors. They publish stories in the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance, including the sub-genres of steampunk, cyberpunk, diesel punk, alternate history, weird westerns, and mash-ups.


Sumiko Saulson panel/appearance schedule at Con-Volution

•September 11, 2015 • 5 Comments

This takes place October 2 – 4, 2015

Sumiko at San Mateo Fair

Get your creative juices flowing: what inspires you to Art?

Friday 14:00 – 15:15, Oak (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Discussion of what inspires the artists to create as well as their chosen medium. What can new artist do to get past their artist blocks?

Anna Warren Cebrian (M), Carolyn Jones, Sumiko Saulson, Landry Walker

Women of Marvel

Friday 15:30 – 16:45, Oak (Hyatt Regency SFO)

From Sue Storm to Gamora, the women of Marvel have been complex and controversial. Whether they are in the lead or supporting characters, Marvel women have a range of personalities and goals that defy simple categorization. Let’s talk about our favorite Marvel women and why we love them!

Carrie Sessarego (M), Tyler Hayes, Sumiko Saulson, Linda Kay Silva, Ms Brianna Wu

Autograph Session: Sumiko Saulson

Friday 17:00 – 18:00, Autograph Table (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Sumiko Saulson

What the Superhero Movie Got Wrong

Saturday 10:00 – 11:15, SandPebble D (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Ever sat in a darkened theatre grumbling at the screen, “That’s NOT how that goes…” and getting weird looks from those around you? Yeah, us too.

Ric Bretschneider (M), Steven Mix, Sumiko Saulson

Secret Panel

Saturday 11:30 – 12:45, Harbor B (Hyatt Regency SFO)

If we told you, it wouldn’t be a secret, now would it?

Steve Libbey, Matt Marovich, Steven Mix, M Christian, Jennifer Nestojko, Emerian Rich, Sumiko Saulson, Linda Kay Silva, Frank Wu, Carrie Sessarego

Diversity in Speculative Fiction

Saturday 14:30 – 15:45, Pine (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Gregg Castro (M), Jaymee Goh, Thaddeus Howze, Bradford Lyau, Balogun Ojetade, Sumiko Saulson

Reading 3

Sunday 13:00 – 14:15, Oak (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Kyle Aisteach, Sumiko Saulson, Ms. Amy Sterling Casil, Bryan Thao Worra, Jaymee Goh

Women Who Rarely Make History

Sunday 14:30 – 15:45, Sumac (Hyatt Regency SFO)

Sumiko Saulson (M), Kyle Aisteach, Carrie Sessarego, Ms. Amy Sterling Casil


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