Horror University 2019


Horror University is one of the most successful and popular aspects of StokerCon™. We are proud to present another great series of workshops for StokerCon™ 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Horror University furthers the Horror Writers Association’s focus on education with a curriculum run by some of the best and brightest in the horror field.

HORROR UNIVERSITY offers a series of two-hour workshops. They are not your typical workshop experiences—they are hands-on, intensive classes that include interactive activities and exercises. Workshop registration will open when the full programming schedule is announced.


To register for Horror University workshops, click on this link:  https://horror-u.org/

You must pay for each workshop you wish to attend. If you purchase four, don’t forget to add the discount code HORRORU to get $20 off your purchase.

Squarespace will email you a receipt at the end of your purchase. If you do not get a receipt from them, you are not registered. We recommend you print out your receipt and bring it with you to StokerCon™.


Workshops are presented in alphabetical order by the last name of the instructor. Horror University instructors and courses for 2019 are:

  • Linda Addison / More Scary Forms: The World of Structured Poetry for All Writers
  • Michael Arnzen / Making the Reader Squirm
  • J.D. Barker / From Indie to Traditional: Every Dirty Little Secret You Need to Know
  • Jennifer Brozek / How to Pitch a Story
  • Nicole Cushing / Beyond Branding: Discovering the Writer You’re Meant to Be
  • Patrick Freivald / Saying More With Less: Word Economy in Writing Genre
  • Steve Hopstaken / Novel Writing with Scrivener Software
  • John Edward Lawson / Writing Characters of Color
  • Angel Leigh McCoy / Audiobooks: Another Revenue Stream for Writers
  • John Skipp / The Master Plotting Crash Course
  • Tim Waggoner / The Art of Suspense
  • Kevin Wetmore Jr. / Research and Write Horror Non-Fiction

More Scary Forms: The World of Structured Poetry for All Writers / Instructor: Linda ADDISON

SATURDAY, May 11, 12 to 2 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

For poets, fiction, and non-fiction writers: a workshop to play with different forms of poetry and increase your ability to use fewer words to say more, heighten a reader’s emotional reaction, clarify your style/voice, and handle writing blocks. We will explore several poetry shapes and their rules to understand how they are created. Time will be available for attendees to practice writing, including creating writing “seeds.”

INSTRUCTOR: Linda D. Addison is a four-time recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®, including for her collection How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend. She’s received the 2016 HWA Mentor of the Year Award and the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Linda has taught a version of this workshop for two prior StokerCons, and some attendees have published their poems from the workshop. Her site is www.lindaaddisonpoet.com.

Linda Addison

Making the Reader Squirm / Instructor: Michael ARNZEN

SATURDAY, May 11, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

This two hour workshop will cover insider tricks and tactics for crafting horror imagery—not just by employing familiar horror tropes, but by making direct appeals to the reader’s sensorium—and generate feelings that really hit readers in the guts. It will include a live writing activity with the aim of improving your description of a gory or scary scene. Open to novelists, poets, flash fiction writers… anyone looking to sharpen their writing skills, from the crafty suspense writer to anyone eager to “go for the gross out.”

INSTRUCTOR: Amityville-born horror writer Michael Arnzen holds four Bram Stoker Awards® and an International Horror Guild Award for his often funny, always disturbing fiction and poetry. In addition to his creative books—like the novel, Grave Markings, or the short story collection, Proverbs for Monsters—he published a helpful collection of “story starters” for dark fiction authors called Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side and co-edited the anthology, Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. Arnzen holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon and since 1999 has taught full-time at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, in their MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. Learn the latest at http://gorelets.com.

Michael Arnzen

From Indie to Traditional: Every Dirty Little Secret You Need to Know / Instructor: J.D. BARKER

SATURDAY, May 11, 2 to 4 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

J.D. Barker successfully published his debut novel as an indie and sold enough copies to land on the radar of traditional publishers in a BIG way, including seven-figure advances, two feature films, and a television program. He’ll open his toolbox and explain exactly what he did to make it happen. His sessions are not to be missed by the aspiring author or the seasoned veteran trying to find their place in today’s publishing world.

INSTRUCTOR: J.D. Barker is the international best-selling author of numerous novels, including Forsaken and The Fourth Monkey. His latest novel, Dracul, co-authored with Dacre Stoker, was released in October 2018. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, and his daughter, Ember.

J.D. Barker

How to Pitch a Story / Instructor: Jennifer BROZEK

THURSDAY, May 9, 6 to 8 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

In general, there are four basic pitches you can do to help sell both short and long fiction: two verbal, two written. We will discuss how and why each pitch is used and when. This is a workshop where participants will be asked to present both verbal and written pitches during the workshop based on prompts given

INSTRUCTOR: Jennifer Brozek is a multi-talented, award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. She is the author of, Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy, both of which were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award®. Her BattleTech tie-in novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, won a Scribe Award. Her editing work has netted her a Hugo Award nomination as well as an Australian Shadows Award for Grants Pass. Jennifer’s short-form work has appeared in Apex Publications, and in anthologies set in the worlds of Valdemar, Shadowrun, V-Wars, and Predator. Jennifer is also the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions, and was the managing editor of Evil Girlfriend Media and assistant editor for Apex Book Company. She keeps a tight schedule on her writing and editing projects and somehow manages to find time to volunteer for several professional writing organizations such as SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. She shares her husband, Jeff, with several cats and often uses him as a sounding board for her story ideas. Visit Jennifer’s worlds at jenniferbrozek.com.

Jennifer Brozek

Beyond Branding: Discovering the Writer You’re Meant to Be / Instructor: Nicole CUSHING

FRIDAY, May 10, 8 to 10 a.m., Heritage Hill Room

While the development of an “author brand” can be helpful for many writers, it can also be restricting and reductive. This workshop will help participants discover (or re-discover) their unique creative identity, and how to use that identity as a guide to developing meaningful writing goals.

INSTRUCTOR: Nicole Cushing is the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of Mr. Suicide and a two-time nominee for the Shirley Jackson Award. Various reviewers have described her work as “brutal”, “cerebral”, “transgressive”, “taboo”, “groundbreaking”, and “mind-bending”. This Is Horror has said that she is “quickly becoming a household name for horror fans”. She has also garnered praise from Jack Ketchum, Rue Morgue, Thomas Ligotti, John Skipp, S.T. Joshi, Poppy Z. Brite, Ray Garton, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and Ain’t It Cool News.

Nicole Cushing

Saying More With Less: Word Economy in Writing Genre / Instructor: Patrick FREIVALD

SATURDAY, May 11, 8 to 10 a.m., Heritage Hill Room

Writing styles are as varied as writers themselves, but a common complaint among editors and publishers of horror fiction is that writers use too many words to say what they mean to say. This interactive workshop will focus on squeezing every ounce of meaning from each word. Participants should bring a 500-word prose sample from a work-in-progress.

INSTRUCTOR: Patrick Freivald is a four-time Bram Stoker Award® nominated author, a high school teacher (physics, robotics, American Sign Language), and a beekeeper specializing in hot pepper infused honey. He lives in Western New York with his beautiful wife, three parrots, two dogs, too many cats, and several million stinging insects. A member of the HWA and ITW, he’s always had a soft spot for slavering monsters of all kinds.

Patrick Freivald

Novel Writing with Scrivener Software / Instructor: Steve HOPSTAKEN

FRIDAY, May 10, 12 to 2 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

A general overview of using Scrivener software to research, outline, write, and compile a novel. Attendees will learn the basics about the novel-writing software and how Steve Hopstaken and his partner used it to write their novel, Stoker’s Wilde. Attendees will also receive free trial software for Windows or Mac, a horror novel template, and tips and tricks to get started on a new novel or import a work-in-progress into Scrivener.

INSTRUCTOR: Steve Hopstaken is a Minneapolis-based writer. He is the co-author of Stoker’s Wilde, scheduled to be published by Flame Tree Press in 2019. In addition, he has sold two screenplay options: Let’s Rob Fort Knox, to Sixth Sense Productions, and SEX to Make Magic Productions, both of which are stuck in pre-production hell. He and his writing partner, Melissa Prusi, are currently working on a sequel to Stoker’s Wilde and their young-adult novel, I Was a Teenage Cell Phone.

Steve Hopstaken

Writing Characters of Color / Instructor: John Edward LAWSON

FRIDAY, May 10, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

As our world is diverse, our writing should reflect that diversity. This workshop is designed to help you write fleshed-out realistic characters of color by building a complex backstory, while avoiding stereotypes.

INSTRUCTOR: John Edward Lawson’s novels, short fiction, and poetry have garnered nominations for many awards, including the Bram Stoker Award® and Wonderland Award. In addition to being a founder of Raw Dog Screaming Press and former editor-in-chief of The Dream People, he currently serves as vice president of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction.

John Edward Lawson

Audiobooks: Another Revenue Stream for Writers / Instructor: Angel Leigh McCOY

SATURDAY, May 11, 4 to 6 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

Do you have a box of short stories, novelettes, or novels that you’d like to resurrect? These days, you can do so without having to pay any money up-front. Learn how to get your works into the audio format and added to the Audible.com/Amazon.com catalog as audiobooks! We’ll go over what it takes to have someone else record your book, or what it will take for you to narrate it yourself. Bring an excerpt. Everyone will have the opportunity to practice narrating with a session director.

INSTRUCTOR: Angel Leigh McCoy got into story narration in 2012 when she launched Wily Writers, her speculative fiction e-zine. As the executive producer, she directed other narrators as well as producing stories she narrated herself. These days, she narrates novels and short stories for authors. Among her narration credits are The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror 3 by Comet Press and Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions by Meerkat Press. She has a page dedicated to her audiobook narration, with demos: www.horrorvoice.com

Angel Leigh McCoy

The Master Plotting Crash Course / Instructor: John SKIPP

FRIDAY, May 10, 2 to 4 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

Learn Skipp’s ultimate tag-team storyboarding technique. You’ll uncover more about your next novel or screenplay in two short hours than you can possibly believe, and walk away with huge chunks of your outline in hand. The tricks you learn in this class will last you a lifetime. Attendees must bring a pack of at least 100 3 x 5 index cards, a bold Sharpee, your best penmanship, and a story you’re excited to tell.

INSTRUCTOR: John Skipp is a New York Times bestselling author, editor, film director, zombie godfather, compulsive collaborator, musical pornographer, black-humored optimist, and all-around Renaissance mutant. His early novels from the 80s and 90s pioneered the graphic, subversive, high-energy form known as splatterpunk. His anthology Book of the Dead was the beginning of modern post-Romero zombie literature. His work ranges from hardcore horror to whacked-out Bizarro to scathing social satire, all brought together with his trademark cinematic pace and intimate, unflinching, unmistakable voice. From young agitator to hilarious elder statesman, Skipp remains one of genre fiction’s most colorful characters.

John Skipp

The Art of Suspense / Instructor: Tim WAGGONER

THURSDAY, May 9, 4 to 6 p.m., Heritage Hill Room

In this workshop, you’ll learn techniques to create pulse-pounding fiction that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. Topics covered include creating dilemmas for your characters, creating memorable villains, developing unpredictable plots, and using suspenseful pace.

INSTRUCTOR: Tim Waggoner has published over forty novels and five collections of short stories. He writes original dark fantasy and horror, as well as media tie-ins, and his articles on writing have appeared in numerous publications. He’s won the Bram Stoker Award®, the Horror Writers Association’s Mentor of the Year Award, and he’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Scribe Award. He’s also a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.

Tim Waggoner

Research and Write Horror Non-Fiction / Instructor: Kevin WETMORE, Jr.

SATURDAY, May 11, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thornapple Room

This course will review the different types of non-fiction, examine the different venues in which such material can be published (magazines, websites, journals, blogs, publishers of books, etc.), review research processes, examine the pitfalls and challenges, and consider the actual process of writing non-fiction. Participants will walk away with a list of potential markets as well as the beginnings of a piece of non-fiction writing to be developed for publication.

INSTRUCTOR: Kevin Wetmore is the author of ten non-fiction books including Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema (Continuum), Back from the Dead: Remakes of the Romero Zombie Films as Markers of Their Times (McFarland & Company), and the forthcoming Eaters of the Dead (Reaktion), as well as editor of fifteen non-fiction anthologies. He has written over one hundred book chapters, magazine and journal articles, and book reviews. His work has appeared in Rue MorgueHorror StudiesGothic Studies, and Fanbase Press.com, among many others. He is a professor at Loyola Marymount University, where he has taught horror theatre and horror cinema for over a decade.

Kevin Wetmore Jr.