Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Goodreads, Indeed

One thing I've sworn to myself this year was to grow more interactive with my fellow scribes. The thing with authors' groups that puts most people off (including myself, having witnessed it firsthand too many times) is the inherent politics which can undermine the core principle of a writer's association: to promote, aid, rally and critique mutual authors in the spirit of fellowship.

To live under the paranoia that writers' groups can either be pandering or combustive is detrimental to the growth of an artist, regardless of experience and level of achievement. At the core, it is a passion of the word that first lured all of us to books and henceforth a yearning to take up the cause. Sadly, this is not a world where words and merit alone automatically equate into success, thus we need one another. Writers achieve in tandem, despite the strange paraodox of self-isolation required of the creative process.

Via Twitter, I was invited to drop by Goodreads, the James Mason Community Book Club. With more than 5,600 members and growing, this is an online group of readers, writers and film fans who congregate to discuss literature and entertainment arts in remembrance of the late character actor, James Mason, who appeared in such notable films as North By Northwest, Lolita, 'Salem's Lot, The Verdict and the 1954 version of A Star is Born, plus television roles in Dr. Kildare, Playhouse 90 and many other series from the fifties and early sixtes. Moderated by Rick F. (as he signs online), this is a diverse collective of authors inclusive of established leaguers and up-and-comers.

If you're looking to toss your name out there to a rock solid digital community of writers, I recommend visiting www.goodreads.com. Membership is free and you can have a blast posting and rating your virtual library under your profile. I have 130 books or so up already, which is just skimming the surface. Rick F., who has more than 4,200 books in his online stash, is supportive of the site's authors and he'll warmly invite you to tout your wares, loud and proud. Now that's my kind of writers' group; a support system without the undisclosed drama.


  1. Thank you so very much for the wonderful article Ray! I have tried to make The James Mason group into a true virtual community of readers and writers, who discuss all things books and entertainment in a friendly, supportive and respectful manner. While we are large in number- that sense of community and closeness has only grown since I started the Group in October of 2009.
    It is si very important to have a "home away from home" online where writers and readers can feel a connection to so many diverse folks (friends really) from all over the world- over 25 countries actually.
    Supporting our member writers is a key tenet of James Mason - and all members are so very welcome to post about their writings, blogs and links- because as a "community"- supporting our fellow members is paramount to me!
    Best to you!
    Rick Friedman

  2. I always liked reading about how JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis use to converse about their own projects and how Robert E Howard and HP Lovecraft would exchange letters and stories with each other.

    Not so much writers groups then boys clubs or simply friends, but serving the purpose of support for each others projects.

  3. Dpth, neat anecdote. I do believe our interests are best served through the service of colleagues.

    Rick, my pleasure. I'm impressed with the versatility and dexterity of the site. It really is more than just a chat board and that's faboo you've boomed it to such strong numbers in three years. Happy to be amongst you fine folks.