Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Shall We Dance With The Angels: A Poem


I had a bit of poetic inspiration today and I thought I'd share.






Shall We Dance With The Angels

Shall we dance with angels
far above the velvet clouds
where the stars whisper light
and cast it to the eyes below

Far above the velvet clouds
to the Heavens wide and infinite
with angel song in splendour

Where the stars whisper light,
that radiance from our dreams,
to the wayward, celestial corners

And cast it to the eyes below
that rarely see the beauty born
of gossamer and winged grace


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Books for Christmas

Since the Holiday Season is upon us again, I thought I'd make a list and recommend some books for possible gifting. So here's my Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers.

First up are two charity anthologies (disclaimer: this is a bit of self-promotion since I do have stories in these anthologies, but they're great books and worthy causes):

Christmas Lites III
Stories of the season, with strange and unusual twists.
Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.
Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces.


COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN
The first collection of stories from the ranks of the annual Coffin Hop online horror extravaganza. Brains from Space! Robot Squids Gone Wild! Radioactive Microwave Men! Monster Mash Massacres! Crotch Tentacles! Werewolf lovin’! Vengeful Gods! Hot-Rod Hauntings! Alaskan Apocalypse! Vampire Seduction! Man-eating Toilet! Robot Lincoln & Zombie Jackson! Featuring interior art by the legendary Nik Seizure and an introduction by B-Movie expert and cult classic Stink of Flesh director Scott S. Phillips!
Get your popcorn ready and dim those headlights.
The Dusk ‘til Dawn is about to begin, and it’s gonna be killer, baby!
All profits from the anthology will be donated to LitWorld.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization supporting child literacy and social improvement the world over.


Okay, the good folks at Xchyler Publishing have a nice variety of books for the sci-fi, YA and fantasy fan. Here's a list of some of their latest:

A Midsummer Night's Steampunk by Scott E. Tarbet:
Pauline Spiegel, a master artificer like her mother before her, wants just one thing: to wed the love of her life, Alexander MacIntyre, a lowly undersecretary of the Royal Household. However, a long-term pact between her parents, and a noble House, stands between her and her happily ever after. When a priceless mechanoid of unfathomable power is stolen, Pauline finds herself entangled in skullduggery and international intrigue, upon which the fate of nations rest. Only with the help of her friends, and a brilliant scientist with a swarm of micromechanical insects, can Pauline survive the dark forces determined to destroy her. But will her betrothed and his rag-tag band of semi-mechanical soldiers reveal Alexander’s secrets as well?
Immerse yourself in this Steampunk retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, replete with the newfound wizardry of alternative Victorian technology, mistaken identities, love triangles, and deadly peril, set against the backdrop of a world bracing itself for war, and Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

Mr. Gunn and Dr. Bohemia by Pete Ford:
Victorian London . . . but not one in any history book. In an alternate 1858, England has entered a golden age of technology, of steam and electricity. Airships fill the skies, mechanical computers command the trains and trams, and a country-wide communication network reaches into every home and office.
Newspaperman Cornelius Gunn investigates a series of thefts across London. Someone is stealing inventions and designs—for what purpose, Gunn can’t even guess.

While attempting to identify the criminals, he and his feisty wife, Sophie, meet the enigmatic Dr. Bohemia. Before they know it, they're on the trail of a conspiracy, and swept into an adventure that carries them to Paris and back, and a fight against a mysterious and powerful enemy. The stakes are high. If they fail, all of Europe will be plunged into war.


Shades and Shadows:
In the dead of night, you sense something other beyond your sight, out there in the darkness. You feel a breath upon your neck, cold and clammy, fecund with mold and decay. Your hair stands on end from no random chill. The air is still. No one is there.
Travel with nine talented writers into their paranormal world, but don’t disregard that inkling that niggles somewhere in the pit of your stomach to leave the light on, to shun that dark room, and to pull the covers over your head.
Whatever you do, don't look under the bed.


A Dash of Madness:
One man’s crazy is another man’s norm.
Inside, eight bizarre stories explore twisted perceptions and challenge conceptions about right and wrong. With a fascinating dive into several unstable minds, the authors examine different avenues for exposing warped cognition and mutilated logic. Each delivers a disquieting glimpse of reality.


Now for some books recommended at random:


Grave Situation by Alex MacLean:
Halifax cop Allan Stanton is a troubled homicide detective who has lost everything, including his family and his sense of justice. When he finally decides to leave the force and start over, he's assigned a string of murders that all bear the signs of a serial killer collecting trophies. As Stanton unravels each grisly crime scene, the mounting evidence points uncomfortably close to him, forcing him to confront a past he'd rather forget--and a dangerous future when the killer targets Stanton himself.

And the sequel to Grave Situation, One Kill Away, will be out soon.



The Chosen Chronicles by Karen Dales:
This excellent vampire series includes the award winning books, Changeling, Angel of Death, and Shadow of Death.





The Seacrest by Aaron Paul Lazar:
They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Finn McGraw disagrees.
He was just seventeen when he had a torrid summer affair with the girl who stole his heart—and then inexplicably turned on him. Finn may have moved on with his life, but he’s never forgotten her.
Now, ten years later, he’s got more than his lost love to worry about. A horrific accident turns his life upside down, resurrecting the ghosts of his long-dead family and taking the lives of the few people he has left.
Finn always believed his estranged brother was responsible for the fire that killed their family—but an unexpected inheritance with a mystery attached throws everything he knows into doubt.
And on top of that, the beguiling daughter of his wealthy employer has secrets of her own. But the closer he gets, the harder she pushes him away.
The Seacrest is a story of intrigue and betrayal, of secrets and second chances—and above all, of a love that never dies.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Interview With Author Kit Campbell

Today I'm chatting with Kit Campbell, author of the urban fantasy, Shards. Come join in as she chats about her books and stories, and writing:


Interview with Kit Campbell


Why don't you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Sure! I’m Kit Campbell and I write mostly fantasy, though I stray into science fiction, horror, and straight paranormal from time to time. Besides that, I wrangle a house of ever-increasing chaos and occasionally make up fictional creatures over at my blog.


You have a new book coming out on Dec. 1st, Shards, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Care to share a bit about your latest book?

Shards came to me in a dream. I know how corny that sounds, but my brain does this weird thing where, when I realize I'm dreaming, I start to try and organize the events into a narrative. And for some reason, a lot of times I have third-person dreams, where I’m watching, rather than being directly involved.
Shards straddles the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, in that there is a strong romantic subplot, but there’s also a lot of external factors making life difficult for the main characters. And it twists in a variety of different mythologies, though most of it is based on early Bible mythology and various cultures’ beliefs that accompany that mythology.


You've written several short stories and a novella in the fantasy genre, and have a love of mythology. What draws you to these fantasy settings and mythology?

I've always been more attracted to non-standard settings—fantasy, science fiction, etc. It’s not that I don't think real life can’t be interesting, but it's more like, I know what to expect from real life, so I'd rather explore what would happen if things were different, whether that be magic or technology or changes in society, for good or bad.
As for mythology—these are stories that people made up to explain how the world worked. Why some things were good, and some were bad. Why weather did what it does and where people came from, and where they went after they died. These were stories that people believed. And I think it's really interesting to look at mythological stories and characters and see how they can still be relevant today.


Do you have a preference for writing short stories, or longer works such as novellas and novels? And do you find one form easier to write, or do they both have their own unique difficulties?

If you asked me this a few years ago, my answer would have definitely been that I preferred writing longer works, but since then I have started writing short stories on a more regular basis, mostly for anthologies and to squeeze in some writing when I'm in an editing phase on a bigger project, and they've grown on me. That said, I have to write longer and short fiction completely differently, and I still feel a novel is easier to do.


Can you tell us about your writing process?  Where do your ideas originate?  Do you have a certain writing routine?

For a novel, I normally start with a premise, and then I find some characters and a vague idea of plot, and off I go. And then, about halfway through, I’ll sit down and outline the rest of the story so I can make sure all my loose threads are tied up. Between drafts, I do extensive character and plot work, and I do a lot of rewriting in my edits. As far as a routine, I just try to get a couple thousand words a day, and I never edit during a first draft.
As for my ideas, they come from all over. Dreams, like Shards. A line of dialogue from a TV show, or the chorus of a song. Myths and legends. Photographs and magazine articles. I tend to be drawn to things that can hide mysteries, like old keys, mirrors, overgrown mazes or ruins—things of those ilk.


What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

I learned the hard way that you need to do your world-building before you start writing, at least to some degree. Otherwise you just flounder around, and it shows, because the underlying structure needed to make your world feel real is missing.


What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

I'm a bit slow. A first draft may only take a few months, but I often spend six-plus months on edits, so I'm not as prolific as a lot of other authors. Also, description and I don't always get along.


Who has inspired you as an author?

My mother has been hugely influential to me as an author. When I was little, she wrote children's novels, and watching her write, I think, is a large reason why I started myself. And she still is incredibly supportive of me today—she's never afraid to tell me when my plot or characters are weak, or when something is confusing, and she lets me hash out plot issues with her as needed.


What’s next for you?

I have a high fantasy trilogy I've’ve been working on for, oh, nine years or so. I think it’s finally time to start trying to get it out into the world, so that ought to keep me busy for the near future.



Author Bio:

Kit Campbell has never met a mythology she hasn't liked. This sometimes leads to issues, such as the occasional Norse God of Thunder showing up in the Garden of Eden. She adores weaving in the possibilities forgotten magic can bring to a story, and enjoys making up new creatures, such as large, venomous monsters that hunt in packs.
Kit’s stories have been published in half-a-dozen anthologies, and her YA novella, Hidden Worlds, was released by Turtleduck Press in 2010. Shards is her first full-length novel.
Kit lives in Colorado in a house of ever-increasing chaos.

You can find out more about Kit and her books at these sites:

Website: http://kitcampbellbooks.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/KitCampbell
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KitCampbell


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Christmas Lites III Release Day



Today’s the official release of the Christmas Lites III charity anthology. Twenty-one authors have come together in the spirit of the season and written a creative Christmas themed book for your enjoyment. And the best part is the all the proceeds go to help the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Here’s the blurb and a list of the authors in the anthology:

The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing. Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.
Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.



Anthology Authors:

Addison Moore
A.F. Stewart
Amy Eye
Angela Yuriko Smith
Ben Warden
Cassie McCown
Elizabeth Evans
J.A. Clement
JG Faherty
Jonathan Tidball
M.L. Sherwood
Monica La Porta
Ottilie Weber
Patrick Freivald
Phil Cantrill
Robert Gray
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
Tricia Kristufek
Vered Ehsani
*Brandon Eye bonus story

Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing
Cover Design Kyra Smith

Link to the charity: www.ncadv.org


As you can see I'm one of the authors and my story, Once Upon a Christmas Eve, is a strange Victorian tale of Christmas in the village of Westerly. The story features Ginny Peabody and her family as they attempt to make through another Christmas season.

Christmas is coming to Westerly, and the Peabody family are preparing for the holiday. Wrapping presents, baking cookies, staying cheerful… because bad things can happen if they don’t.

The town of Westerly always celebrates Christmas… or suffers the consequences.


I hope you’ll check out the book, and my story, as well as the tales from the other talented authors featured in this anthology.


Christmas Lites III is available on Amazon and Smashwords.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Cover Reveal for Christmas Lites III

On Dec. 3rd, the book, Christmas Lites III, will be released. It's the third in a series of charity anthologies, where proceeds go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This year, another bevy of talented authors have come together (including me) to celebrate the season with their tales, sometimes in strange and unusual ways. And today I'm happy to show you the stunning cover art for the book, so on with the reveal:





About Christmas Lites III:

The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing. Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.
Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.

Authors in this anthology:

Addison Moore
A.F. Stewart
Amy Eye
Angela Yuriko Smith
Ben Warden
Cassie McCown
Elizabeth Evans
J.A. Clement
JG Faherty
Jonathan Tidball
M.L. Sherwood
Monica La Porta
Ottilie Weber
Patrick Freivald
Phil Cantrill
Robert Gray
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
Tricia Kristufek
Vered Ehsani
*Brandon Eye bonus story

Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing
Cover Design Kyra Smith

Link to the charity: www.ncadv.org

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Spotlight on Waking Up Dead

I'm showcasing a book today, the paranormal mystery, Waking Up Dead by Margo Bond Collins:




Waking Up Dead by Margo Bond Collins

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, when she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex, she went to Alabama. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up dead in Alabama?






An Excerpt from Waking Up Dead :

When I died, I expected to go to heaven.
Okay. Maybe hell. It’s not like I was perfect or anything. But I was sort of hoping for heaven.
Instead, I went to Alabama.
Yeah. I know. It’s weird.
I died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a knife--and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was, I’d go haunt his ass.
At any rate, by the time death came, I was ready for it--ready to stop hurting, ready to let go. I didn't even fight it.
And then I woke up dead in Alabama. Talk about pissed off.
You know, even reincarnation would have been fine with me--I could have started over, clean slate and all that. Human, cow, bug. Whatever. But no. I ended up haunting someplace I’d never even been.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, right? Ghosts are supposed to be the tortured spirits of those who cannot let go of their earthly existence. If they could be convinced to follow the light, they’d leave behind said earthly existence and quit scaring the bejesus out of the poor folks who run across them. That’s what all those “ghost hunter” shows on television tell us.
Let me tell you something. The living don’t know jack about the dead.
Not this dead chick, anyway.


Waking Up Dead is available on Amazon
And for your Goodreads bookshelves





About the Author:

Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.

Connect with Margo:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/margobondcollins
Website: http://www.MargoBondCollins.com
Twitter:  @MargoBondCollin
Google+: https://plus.google.com/116484555448104519902
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins
Facebook Novel Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waking-Up-Dead/502076076537575
Tumblr: http://vampirarchybooks.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/


Monday, 11 November 2013

Poems For Remembrance Day

For this Remembrance Day, some poems in memory of the fallen:





Through the Eyes of a Soldier

One breath, one individual breath,
exhaled slowly across the arena of battle.
A small impulsive act, to muster your valour,
before you step into war, into the killing field.
Where bodies drop upon the trampled ground,
where you will choke on grime and acrid smoke,
as the earth grows sodden, drenched with blood,
and the air will hum, unreal, with lingering death.
Pain is the final sensation your body will know,
before you succumb and fall, with one last breath.



In Memoriam

Battlefields of scarlet
where the flowers grow
and the wind blows past
the fallen soldiers.
Where the flowers grow
with memories of soldiers;
ghosts not forgotten.
And the wind blows past
rows of weathered stone,
that mark their graves.
The Fallen Soldiers;
lives given, sacrificed
in war, in honour.



Soldier Boy

Play me a tune for Death;
he has passed this way.
A sad lament, for those
who shed their final blood
on this forlorn battlefield.
Play a song of sorrow
for your fallen friends.
Each and every soul
who shall never grace
again, this vibrant earth.





Friday, 1 November 2013

The Winners Of My Coffin Hop Contests



The moment has arrived folks, drum roll please...

The Contests Winners

Okay first up the three winners of my supplementary contests:

For the free e-copy (via Smashwords) of my book, Reflections of Poetry, the winner is: Jolie Du Pre

For the free e-copy (via Smashwords) of my book, Gothic Cavalcade, the winner is: Aspen deLainey

For the free e-copy (via Smashwords) of Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In, the winner is: Popple


And now for the Rafflecopter Contest:

1st Prize: Jeanette Jackson

2nd Prize: Sheila Deeth

3rd Prize: Skye Callahan

Congratulations to all.  I've sent out emails to the Rafflecopter winners already, and will be in touch with the rest shortly, or you can email me (you can find my email here on the blog).

Thursday, 31 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 8: A Halloween of Villains

On this, the last day of Coffin Hop, I present to you a little song I composed. Just don't ask me to sing, it won't be pretty.


This one is for the geeks…

This ditty is to be sung as a duet, with one singer crooning in the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas style, and the other doing spoken asides of the words in brackets. The first line should be sung together, and the last two lines are to be spoken.


On the Dark Eve of Halloween, my true love gave to me...

Twelve Trolls Fighting (Over who gets the last holiday cookie)
Eleven Witches Brewing (And it wasn’t coffee)
Ten Lords a-Sithing (Sithing, really? That’s not even a word. They’re Sith Lords; it’s a title)
Nine Nazgul Riding (Run, Frodo, Run)
Eight Wicked Pirates (Sorry, no Captain Jack Sparrow)
Seven Zombies a-Snacking (Brains! Braaains!)
Six Borgs assimilating (Resistance is futile)
Five Golden Dragons (A hot time in the old town tonight)
Four Arkham Escapees (Batman’s got his hands full)
Three A.I.’s (It’s HAL, the Matrix, and Skynet)
Two Malicious Mutants (Call the X-Men, quick!)
And an Evil Queen with an Apple (Poisoned, of course)


I'm going to need more room on my collectables shelf (you got that right).


For more scary stuff on this last day, scroll down for the list of Coffin Hoppers, and don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter contest, it’s your final chance. Winners of all the contests will be announced tomorrow.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 7: Inhuman

We are taking a break from the creepy world of fairies today and trekking back to the world of monsters, human or otherwise, with a guest post by fellow Xchyler Publishing author, (and fellow Canadian), R. M. Ridley. Here’s his take on the things that give us shivers…


Inhuman – a phrase used often in horror. A term which can be used to convey so much, in only one word. It evokes a visceral reaction without providing any details. What is it about that one word which makes us flinch? Why does it sum up horror itself?
I believe that word holds power, in part, because it gives no particulars. By saying ‘What he saw beyond that door was inhuman’ allows the readers to envision any, and all, possibilities. ‘Inhuman’ may call to mind an amorphous blob waving tentacles to one and a chitinous tube with a gaping mouth to another.
The vagueness of ‘inhuman’ conjures the primal fear buried deep within the reader. It is fun to write the thing you see in your own head. It is natural to want to convey the wrongness of your own imagining to your audience. However, there is purity in the works of those authors like Lovecraft, who leave the horror to the readers own worst nightmares.
‘Inhuman’ can strike a different note of fear as well. When used not to describe a creature from some dark dimension but the behavior and actions of one that is, in all other ways, all too human, such as the fascination with the individuals and characters that are killers – serial killers being a prime example.
These incarnations of the term ‘inhuman’ fascinate and scare because not only do they blend in - seem like one of us - but because in their apparent humanity, their inhuman actions become even more horrorific.
A demon from hell eating the neighbor is understandable to us because they are not human. These creatures that we create to scare us are expected to be heartless killers. We understand that, because that’s why we imagine them. But, when it is one of our own – when it is a person – it becomes harder to understand, to figure out the why.
This fear goes far beyond that it will be our own neighbor who ‘seemed so nice’ but then ate the mailman. It is, in fact, the fear that within each of us there is the possibility to be ‘inhuman’.
Tapping into that fear, making each reader question their own interior darkness, is something I have yet to achieve - but I strive for it. I want to write that story that makes each and every reader shiver in fear as they touch their own inner ‘inhuman’.


R. M. Ridley lives with his wife on a small homestead in Canada, raising chickens and sheep. He has been writing stories, both long and short, for three decades, the themes of which range from the gruesome to the fantastical. As an individual who suffers from severe Bi-polar disorder, R. M. Ridley is a strong believer in being open about mental health issues and uses his writing to escape, when his thoughts become too wild.


R. M. Ridley’s ‘The Cost of Custody’, a paranormal P.I. story about a kidnapped child, magic, and a father’s love, is one of nine short stories in ‘Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology’ – available now:  http://www.amazon.com/Shades-Shadows-Paranormal-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00FRS9CA4/




And in honour of today’s post, one lucky person who leaves a comment will win a free copy of Death by Drive-In, the Coffin Hop Anthology.

You can find out more about the book at the Coffin Hop website
All profits from the anthology will be donated to LitWorld.org, a  non-profit organization supporting child literacy and social improvement the world over.


Plus, don't forget to scroll on down for the list of more Coffin Hoppers to visit, and enter the Rafflecopter contest.








Tuesday, 29 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 6: Beyond the Gloaming

For today I have a creepy little tale of the Faerie…


Beyond the Gloaming


Bran trudged wearily along the mountain path, tired, but determined. He needed to reach the hollow before dusk, or wait another year. He glanced at the ever sinking sun; his time grew short.
“A strange journey you're on, young man. Best think twice before continuing.”
Bran stopped, his path now blocked by a stooped old hag of a woman, dressed in a grey cloak and an odd looking four cornered hat. She smiled at him, an unsettling grin that made him shiver.
“Who are you and where did you come from?”
“Never you mind the answer to either question, young man. Just listen, and if you have the sense, heed my advice.” She took a step closer to him. “What you seek is not what you will find. What you had is lost, swallowed whole. Do not meddle in affairs of the Seelie Court.”
Bran balled his hands into fists, her words sparking his anger. “I will not be dissuaded. They stole from me. I will have what is mine.”
“You cannot steal what was freely given, young man, but no matter. I see you are unwavering. Be on your way.” The old woman stepped aside and allowed Bran to pass, casting parting words as he left her behind. “Don't drink their wine.”

~*~

Bran entered the hollow—a clearing nestled in the forest—with the first touch of dusk, and left the safety of the woodland path. In the gloaming he waited for them.
As silhouettes cast against the fading sunlight they appeared, one by one, laughing, shimmering, the host of Faerie, come to play in the world of mortals. Shadows danced around them, scattering light and air, the trees whispered names in the old tongue, and the sky turned cold.
“Who have we here, come to call this night, on the Seelie Court?” A tall Fae, with pale, blond hair and a crown upon his head stepped towards Bran. “Come human, state your business.”
Bran swallowed, both spit and fear. “I am Bran. I've come to retrieve what’s mine.”
The Faerie smiled. “You have spirit little human, but have a care. You address a Prince of the Faerie. And it sounds much as if you accuse the Court of thievery.”
Bran summoned his courage. He would not fail now. “I do accuse you. You stole my wife, Eva. Spirited her away with you a year ago, from this very glade. I’ve waited long enough, return her to me.”
“Ah. That puts a different spin on the matter that does.” The Prince snickered. “A husband come to fetch a wife.” He spun about to address his subjects. “Do we have a wife for him?”The Faerie Host laughed, an indifferent, harsh noise.
The Prince swiveled back to face Bran. “A brave soul you may be, but a foolish one. You can’t have her back, not as the woman you knew. She belongs to us now. See for yourself.”
With a wave of the prince’s hand, the Host parted to reveal the figure of a woman. She shimmered, a vision of beauty, her skin, pale, shining, nearly translucent, and her fair hair glowed in ethereal grace. But her eyes held a vacant, pensive stare, as if she gazed at something just beyond the edges of the world, and her smile held no kindness, only dissipation. In her hands she held a golden goblet.
Bran stared. “Eva?”
The woman gazed at him. “Yes. That’s my name. At least I think it used to be, perhaps not anymore.” She laughed, a mad, echoing sound. “Do I know you?”
“Eva, it’s Bran. Your husband.” He reached out his hand to her.
“Oh, I don't have a husband. I had one once, but I misplaced him. I don't mind though, because I’ll have a new one. Soon. Not yet, but soon.” She took a few steps forward. “Would you like to be my new husband? Join me. Have a drink.” She held out the goblet.
Bran felt a hand on his shoulder and the cold breath of Faerie in his ear. “You want to be with your love? Join with us, taste of our wine. You can leave this world and be with her in ours. Take the cup and drink.”
Bran reached out his hand, his fingers brushing against the gold. It would be so easy.
“No.” He let his hand fall. “I won’t. She’s mine, not yours.” He grabbed Eva by the wrist, turned and ran, pulling her along in his wake. The goblet dropped, spilling the wine.
He sprinted for the clearing edge, dragging Eva behind him. He raced for the woodland path, beyond their circle of power, but never reached it. The Faerie blocked his course, surrounded Bran, captured him, and snatched Eva from his grasp.
He stretched out his hands, as they pulled them apart, trying to hold on to her, to touch her. “No, stop it, let her go. Give her back to me.”
The Faerie Prince stepped between them. “You had your chance. You refused us, human. Now you lose the game and pay the forfeit.” He smiled. “But I'm not heartless. One last look, perhaps.”
The prince turned and took Eva’s hand, drawing her forward. “Do you have anything to say to our erstwhile guest, my dear?”
“Am I supposed to say kind words? I don't have any.” Eva smiled.
“Eva, please. Remember me, I'm your husband.” He struggled to break free of his captors.
“No. No husband tonight. You didn't join us. A shame, you seemed nice until you tried to run.” She turned to the prince. “Can I play with him instead?”
“Of course you can, my dear.” The prince clapped his hands. “Did you hear? Eva wants to play. Form a circle.”
Suddenly Bran was free. He watched the faerie as they moved silently, toward the edge of the glade. He stood alone with Eva, encircled by Faerie.
“What’s going on?”
Eva laughed. “They're making certain you can’t escape.” From a sheath attached to her belt, she drew a silver dagger.
Bran backed away a few steps. “Eva. What are you doing?”
She smiled. “It’s time for fun. It’s time to play. It’s time for you to bleed.” She laughed, with the Seelie Court echoing the sound.

~*~

The old hag of a woman hobbled into glade with the first rays of the morning sun. She shuffled to Bran’s corpse where it sprawled on the trampled grass. She chuckled as she took her knife from her belt and opened her bag made of hide. Then she knelt down beside the body.
“Told you she was lost, and not to meddle. Though I suppose, it was bad advice to tell you not to drink the wine. Teach you to listen to strangers.” She chuckled again.
“Leastwise you won’t go to waste.” With her blade, she cut open his stomach and torso. “Your body parts will make powerful spells, they will.” The old woman hacked out his organs and tucked the fresh meat into her sack. The last thing she did was scoop out his eyeballs. Then she closed her sack and rose.
Outside the glade the old woman could sense the animals. They were hungry. “I’m done. Come and finish the rest.” She turned and walked away, leaving Bran’s remains for carrion.


Now keep scrolling for the list of more Coffin Hoppers to visit and don't forget to enter my Rafflecopter contest.

Monday, 28 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 5: Finding the Unicorn

Another story for today, this time a tale that didn't make the cut for Fairy Tale Fusion (mostly because I forgot to include it):


Finding the Unicorn


On a windy evening in October, Sammy the Troll stomped into the Monster’s Bar and Grill, with a scowl on his face and anger in his heart (or at least that tiny shrivelled mass of muscle he called a heart). He scanned the twisted and misshapen faces in the bar, looking for the particular mug of Oscar the Fairy. Oscar was an investigator, of the private variety, and the toughest, meanest fairy this side of the Seelie Court. He was exactly who Sammy needed.
Sammy pushed across the crowded bar, knocking over a few tables and a hoard of pixies that stood in his path. Upon reaching Oscar he demanded, “I want you to get my unicorn back!”
Oscar slowly sipped his whiskey before replying. “Details, you pug ugly. What happened to the unicorn?”
“Emily the Ogre took him when she left me. The stupid beast took him for spite and I want him back.”
“Oh yeah, I heard you and Miss Nasty Ogre checked into splitsville. Tough break, her taking your precious unicorn, but it seems to me this is a domestic thing. I don't do domestic.”
“I'll triple your normal fee.”
Oscar whistled softly. “Okay, for triple, I'll do domestic. You care how I get the unicorn back?”
“Nope, do what you got to do. I just want my baby back.”
Oscar smiled. He figured he'd get free rein. Everybody in the Worlds knew how Sammy felt about the unicorn. “If I get my money up front, you can have your unicorn back by midnight.”
“Done.” Sammy slammed a thick wad of cash onto the table.
Oscar smiled wider and picked up the money. “See you later tonight, pug ugly.”

A few spells later and Oscar stood face to face with Emily inside her lair. She had planted herself between him and the unicorn. “Hand him over, sweets, and nobody gets hurt.”
“Try and take him, fairy, and I'll rip off your wings.”
“Don't say I didn't warn you, sweets.”
Oscar opened his hand and showed her the dust. She screamed, but it was too late. He tossed the fairy powder into her face, she went “poof” and shrank down to the size of a pixie. A very angry, yelling, pixie-sized ogre. Oscar bent down, scooped her into a sack on his belt and then retrieved the unicorn. He gave it a squeeze.
He shook his head in disbelief. “All this fuss over a plush toy.”

Still muttering about the foibles of trolls and ogres, Oscar headed to his client’s den and returned the unicorn to Sammy who was all smiles.
“My baby snookums is back.” Sammy hugged his toy. “Now get lost, fairy. I need my rest. I haven't had a good night’s sleep since my baby got stolen.”
Oscar watched Sammy snuggle into his bed of leaves still clutching his precious toy, and as he left, he could hear the sound of the troll’s snores. Oscar went back to his house, counted his cash and put an ad up on the internet: For Sale, One Angry Shrunken Ogre. Needs a Good Home.


Thanks for reading. Anyone who leaves a comment today gets a chance to win an e-copy of my book, Gothic Cavalcade (via Smashwords).

Now scroll on down for the list of more Coffin Hoppers, and continue down the dark path… and don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter contest. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 27 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 4: Dark Poetry Corner

It’s time for my poetry corner, where I dig out the dark shards of inspiration…

These two poems were originally slated to appear in Fairy Tale Fusion, but alas didn't make the final cut.  But you do get to enjoy them as part of Coffin Hop.



Little Red Riding Hood... Don’t Go into the Woods

Once upon that haunted time,
a land flowed bitter in foul crime.
The woods, such a dangerous place,
travellers learned to quicken their pace.

One day, a girl with a hood of red
went off to Grandma, who lay abed.
The young lass was charming, but plain
with modest sense and little brain.

She went unaware, through the woods,
bearing her Granny a basket of goods.
While the Wolf Clan tracked every tread
their vile intentions to inspire deep dread.

Poor old Granny they dispatched
and a wicked plot straight away hatched.
Gullible Girl Red stepped into a trap,
that Wolf Clan scheme to kidnap.

She disappeared from the world that day;
there was no Huntsman to help her stay.
She ended in a dank, dark pit,
roasting on the Wolf Clan spit.



Briar Rose

A curse, time and beauty enfold her fate...

Smoke and dark magic
waft in the ether
as a small baby cries
her first breath.

Darkness rises, tendrils curling, entwining...

The past cannot be hidden,
hate seeks retribution.
Blood calls to blood,
even ichor black as pitch.

On the first moon the blight is cast to fall...

A singular unwelcome guest
spewing sins and venom.
The noxious web begins,
the magic spun along the path.

One prick upon the finger, a drop of blood...

A dream of immortality
as she slumbers, imprisoned
behind walls of razor thorns
fed by princely flesh and bone.

A rider comes, the destined last hunter...

Following the fabled prize.
He prevails, a quest fulfilled
her dreams disturbed with a kiss.
And her life becomes his,

still not her own...



This next poem appears in the Twisted Shorties II anthology (free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/329697 ):

In the Mirror

Reflection of light, illusion in grey,
Oh, mirror, mirror tell me true,
Who is fated to die this day?

A flicker of magic, come what may,
for kings, princes, and courtiers too,
Reflection of light, illusion in grey.

I smile, I laugh, with words betray,
Should I whisper that spell anew?
Who is fated to die this day?

A timely curse, enchantments sway;
Pawns that topple, and blood I drew.
Reflection of light, illusion in grey.

Have your children gone astray?
Perhaps a part of someone’s stew?
Who is fated to die this day?

Witches are calling, come join the fray,
To pirouette with Death, will you?
Reflection of light, illusion in grey.
Who is fated to die this day?



Thanks for reading, and be sure to comment, as one person who leaves a comment will be picked at random to win a free e-copy (via Smashwords) of my book, Reflections of Poetry.

Hope you enjoyed this shadowy sojourn, please continue down the dark road and visit some of the other hoppers  (scroll down, way down, to find the list) and don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter Contest (see below).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 26 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 3: Fairy Tale Confessional

Another day, another coffin. This time it’s Sleeping Beauty’s…


An Excerpt from Fairy Tale Fusion:


I Cursed Sleeping Beauty... And She Deserved It

So you want to hear my side of the story? All the dirt behind the scoundrel of the Sleeping Beauty Tale?
Well here’s the scoop...

The fact is I've gotten a bad rap. I've been branded the bad guy because I put some prissy, pink-cheeked spoiled princess under a curse and she fell asleep for a century. Big deal, so she took a nap. She woke up eventually and now she’s got her happily-ever-after and a dreamy prince. Plus, she’s over a hundred and she still looks like a teenager. I bet she'll be wishing she was still snoozing when things start to sag.
Yes, dear little Sleeping Beauty’s got it good, and what did I get? Bad PR, that’s what. Of course nobody ever looks at it from my side. It’s all, well, “she’s the bad fairy.” Was it my fault that fate chose me to be the keeper of the darker things in life? No it wasn't, I was born into it; I've been up against it since I came into this world.
A numbers game, that’s what my life started as, a freaking unlucky chance of being born the thirteenth heir of the ruling fairy families. All my life I knew my destiny would be to follow the path of Dark Magic.
As a child, I was sent to magic school with my cousins. I learned curses and poisons while the rest of my family made love potions and fancy fairy dust. On the playground they shunned me, taunted and teased me. I toughened up quickly in that school.
I spent my teen years crawling around swamps for toads and lizards while the other girls dreamed about boys and lacy dresses. No one teased me anymore, though; you turn one girl blue for a week and that sort of thing stops cold.
After graduation (head of my class, but I never got credit for that) I found myself at loose ends and an outcast in my own family. I went to live on my own, shut myself away in a lonely tower, while my twelve cousins went on to fame and fortune. They flitted about, bestowing beauty, happiness, and charm on the world; I dished out warts and bad luck spells. Is it any wonder I'm a little bitter?
It’s not like I looked for any trouble, I just did my job. I went out of my way to temper all that evil I was in charge of and make the best of it. All I asked for was some respect. Not too much to request, but still I got shafted.
You see, there’s a part of my story that tends to get glossed over, you know the part about me being snubbed, publicly. They knew the tradition, that a royal child is christened in attendance of all the fairy houses, even the Dark Fae. I wanted to go, to have a new elegant dress, and maybe dance a waltz at the after party. I picked out the right gift—nothing too ostentatious, just a touch of temper—a flaw to give her a rounded personality. I figured with all those other gifts like wit, charisma and beauty she needed a little something to make her more human.
But the King and Queen couldn't bear to have their precious daughter marred (their word, not mine) so they made the wrong decision to change the centuries old custom. Did those royals ever consider my feelings? No, they went and left me out of the christening party. An oversight they said later, they simply forgot to dispatch my invite. Yeah, right. And I was supposed to stand back and suffer that slight, take the insult? Well, not this gal, I can tell you. I had a reputation to maintain.
So I crashed their soiree and cursed the little princess. Sure, I went a little overboard with my original, “prick her finger and die” proclamation, but I've always had a tendency to overdo when I'm mad. It’s not like she died or anything. And maybe I did cheat a little on her sixteenth birthday to ensure my curse, but hey, a bit of chicanery is my trademark. I needed some insurance, to show those royals that I was still in control.
I stand by my actions. I was justified and they all had it coming. What did they expect for offending the Queen of the Dark Fairies? It’s the spin that bugs me, this whole “wicked fairy godmother” crap. Where do they get off judging me? A bunch of snooty royals screw up and for that I get labelled a villain!
Life just isn't fair.



Fairy Tale Fusion is available at:









Don’t forget to scroll down for the list of more Coffin Hoppers, and enter the Rafflecopter contest before you turn out the lights. See you tomorrow …I hope.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 25 October 2013

#CoffinHop Day 2: Into the Woods

Into the Woods


Once Upon a Time…

If that phrase conjures up image of Disney Princesses and happy endings then you’re missing out on the delightfully dark aspects of fairy tales. The ones that come with the original versions of the stories, where sinister woodlands held wicked witches, vengeful spirits, cannibalistic queens, murderous ogres and all manner of things out to kill you. Even the princes had a sinister edge, with not-so-charming intentions.

Now I love the Disney animated films, but my childhood involved reading more nasty versions, namely Grimm’s Fairy Tales. These are the stories that bite, where menacing things prowl in the darkness, behind the trees and even invade your home. In these stories bad things happened, and even the happy endings could seem rather imperfect.

These stories had a spooky ambience and a lurid nature, dark and dripping in blood and terror, but being a main character in one of these fairy tales wasn't easy. A walk in the woods could get you eaten by wolves, captured by witches (who wanted to cook and eat you) or turned into some kind of animal. Even family wasn't safe. Step-mothers, mothers-in-law, fathers and siblings could all conspire to kill you. They could be hungry for your flesh, jealous of your beauty, or just greedy for your gold.

And those Not-So-Charming Princes I mentioned? Well, they tended to scoop up their Princesses without so much as a by-your-leave (I mean who whisks off girls they've just met in a forest?) and marched them to the altar as quick as they could (or do even worse, as in the original Sleeping Beauty tale). Happily ever after for these heroines often meant being forcibly snatched from the life you knew and wedded to a stranger (and sometimes being persecuted by his crazy witch mother).

So the next time you think of fairy tales, don't imagine pretty princesses, shiver in horror.  And remember:  death (and a witch) lurks around every corner, family can't be trusted, and stay away from princes.


I hope you'll visit some of the other hoppers  (scroll down, way down, to find the list) and don't forget to enter my Rafflecopter Contest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Beware, Coffin Hop Begins!

Beware, Coffin Hop Begins!


Yes, Dear Readers, it’s that time of year again. When all the naughty and nasty things crawl out the ground (or the woods) to play…

Welcome to Coffin Hop 2013!


Every October a Halloweeny hoard of horror writers get together and turn the last week of the month into a scarefest, with the blood dripping Coffin Hop. This blog hop runs from Oct. 24th until the 31st, Halloween, and is always tons of fun, with contests, stories and ghoulish delights from all the participating writers. Plus, this year Coffin Hop is proud to present its first anthology, Death by Drive –In. All profits from the COFFIN HOP: DEATH BY DRIVE-IN anthology will be donated to LitWorld.org to help encourage children’s literacy throughout the world. 

So on with the creep show...

This year I'm doing a Dark Fairy Tale Theme, in honour of my just released book Fairy Tale Fusion.  For the next week this blog (mostly) belongs to the darker side of Fairyland; there will be a book excerpt and fairy tale poems, some stories and a guest post from writer R. M. Ridley.

There will also be contests.  One mega Rafflecopter Contest running all week long, with three chances to win, plus a couple of mini contests for free books, including the Coffin Hop anthology, Death by Drive –In (where I have a story, yay!). 


To kick things off I'll be introducing my new book, Fairy Tale Fusion:


Welcome to Fairy Tale Fusion.
Where things get messy in the Riding Hood.

What if the characters in Fairy Tales existed? What if they lived and breathed in a place called Fairyland, a setting not too divergent from our world, situated next to Wonderland and down the lane from Camelot?

Meet Detective Piper, member of the Fairyland Metro Police. His job, to ferret out the suspects and investigate crime on the streets and in the lanes of Fairyland. Along with Officer Simon, he’s hard at work, searching for a missing pumpkin, hunting for an arsonist, wondering what the future holds in a series of crystal ball robberies, and dealing with spells, curses and other strange happenings.

His cases, and others like them, are the headlines of the day, brought to you by FTN news anchors Spider Bramble and Aurora Gossamer, with entertainment correspondent Lucinda Lovedust and reporter Chip Charming. Keep up-to-date on the latest information out of Fairyland and its adjacent suburbs, and the recent hubbub with trolls, princesses, fairies and their ilk. 

And after leaving Fairyland, you'll journey to a place where toys are born… to be bad.  When spells go wrong and playthings turn mean, where clown dolls would kill to meet you and a Rubik’s cube holds a cosmic secret.

If you survive the toy box, then head out to party with some elves (if you can outlast the celebration), battle in a far, far away galaxy, play “find the dragon”, and discover how they do crime and punishment in Oz.

And remember, always be nice to your Fairy Godmother.



Fairy Tale Fusion is available at Smashwords and Amazon.





Now for the Rafflecopter Contest. You enter via the widget below, and there’s no mandatory entry, just click the ones you want.
Here's what the prize packs consist of:

1st
Free Fairy Tale Fusion ebook
Autographed paperback copy of Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology
Digital artwork
PDF Wanted posters
Postcards

2nd
Free Fairy Tale Fusion ebook
Pen and Notepad
Digital artwork
PDF Wanted posters

3rd
Free Fairy Tale Fusion ebook
Pen and Notepad
Digital artwork 

(A Note: the pen/notepad bear the original name of Fairy Tale Fusion, which was Fractured Fairy Tales; apparently that happens when you order prizes in advance and then change the name of your book.)
You can check out photos of the artwork prizes here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151843612673540.1073741827.18416128539&type=3



That’s it for today, but come back tomorrow for a trip into the dark woods. And visit the other Coffin Hoppers  (scroll down, way down, to find the list).


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fairy Tale Fusion Launches Today!



Today's the day for the official launch of my new book Fairy Tale Fusion, and there's a big celebration going on over at Facebook this afternoon at 4 PM Atlantic Time (that's 3 PM Eastern) until 7 PM Atlantic (6 PM Eastern). There will be trivia questions, chatting, and free swag, plus I may even bring some virtual chocolate, and peppermint daiquiris.

It all happens here: https://www.facebook.com/events/446300328811870/449328735175696/

And don't worry if you can't make it because the dark fairies are heading to this very blog tomorrow, Oct 24th, for the start of Coffin Hop 2013. Yes, that's right it's that time of year again, when Halloween starts early. So, please join me until Halloween for Dark Magic, Creepy Creatures, and the Seelie Court...

Oh, and did I mention there will be contests with lots of free stuff.



Fairy Tale Fusion

What if the characters in Fairy Tales were real? What if they lived in Fairyland, a place not too dissimilar to ours, next to Wonderland and down the street from Camelot?  
Come follow the exploits of Detective Piper of the Fairyland Metro Police, the Fairy Tale News updates and more cracked characters taken from the world of childhood.  

When you are done dancing with Cinderella and her cronies, open the lid of a very scary toy box to find where children’s nightmares begin... and end, badly.




Book Links: 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Inspiration by Tolkien: A Guest Post by Sheila Deeth

Today, author Sheila Deeth stops by on her blog tour to talk about Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and how it connects to her Five-Minute Bible Story Series and her new book, Bethlehem’s Baby.


How the Silmarillion inspired a book of Bible Stories


Once upon a (student) time I got a copy of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion for Christmas. I took it back to college with me as term began, and rationed myself to reading one chapter a day—kind of like rationing chocolate to two pieces a day (which I also did), and cake to one slice. It was hard to read so slowly though. I really loved the book and was hooked right from the first tale—the Music of the Ainur. What a wonderful “creation” story! What a haunting blend of weighty prose, musical language, and thrilling fantasy. “Never since have the Ainur made music like to this music,” the author writes, “though it has been said that a greater still shall be made before Iluvatar by the choirs of Ainur and the Children of Iluvatar after the end of days.” The words begged to be sounded aloud, and the press of eternal meaning bore into me. But I was a mathematician, studying the logic of number systems and the vagaries of function and form. I was already a “mongrel Christian mathematician” though, so Tolkien’s Biblical hints dug deep. I went to Christian Union meetings, represented the Catholic Chaplaincy, and wondered—oh heresy of heresies—why didn't God use interesting authors like Tolkien to write the scriptures?

I was kind of an accidental mathematician really. When it came to a choice between studying mathematics or writing, I chose math because at least when you're right you're right and no-one’s going to tell you you're not good enough. In contrast my son, when faced with the identical choice, plumped for writing because those who judge words can only give opinions; they can't definitively declare your answer’s wrong.

So what’s an accidental mathematician, with a love of writing, a sudden total addiction to Tolkien (especially The Silmarillion), and a deep Christian faith to do? In my case, dreaming was way easier than doing, so I dreamed a set of Bible stories, written so kids (and teens, and students too) might actually want to read them, written to be fun and spoken aloud and shared, and going all the way from creation to revelation—from that first music of Tolkien’s Ainur until the end of days. Then I got a job and wrote computer programs, got married and had kids, got another job and broke computer programs, became infinitely more mongrel, learned tons of stuff about the Bible and Biblical times, lost my job… and then I started writing those stories I'd dreamed of long ago.

The kids are grown, and one of them even writes. So now the Bible, science and history feed my muse, Tolkien and faith inspire my intent, and the Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series keeps growing, though Creation to Revelation’s already taking six books with Bethlehem’s Baby’s recent release, and many more in the works.

Meanwhile I still love The Silmarillion best of all my Tolkien books. I just found it again while tidying up the shelves, so please excuse me while I curl up and read.

Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog, Anita.


Links:
Find Bethlehem’s Baby at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EY172MA/
More of the Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series on the publisher’s website: http://capearagopress.com/Five-Minute.html

Connect with Sheila at:


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