Friday, 31 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 8: Ravens for Halloween

It’s Halloween my ghastly ghouls! And today I conjuring some grave magic with a creepy story, and a bit of Poe in the form of a video I made. I hope you enjoy this last offering, and...

 Happy Halloween!





Ravens


A raven flutters from the burnished sky to settle atop her gravestone; an avian silhouette against the twilight. The creature stares at me with yellow eyes and caws, its squawk a guttural noise, harsh against my ears. It hops once, and flaps its wings, before it flies away.
“No.” The gasp escapes my lips. I recognize the creature. A spy for the Cabal.
A shiver of dread shakes through my bones. I kneel beside the grave marker, and place my trembling hand on the earth that conceals so much more than a mere body.
“They have found us, Mistress, sooner than I hoped.”
The thought of how flits through my mind. A misstep on my part, or perhaps they simply grew smarter over the years? It matters little, though, the reason. This struggle will soon end, most likely with my demise. But I don’t fear death, no, we are old companions. I fear failure, however. If I die before resurrection , they will control her forever.
I must not let that happen.
I must finish the ritual before the Cabal soldiers arrive.
The wind ruffles my hair, as a mother might a child, and I take reassurance. My efforts will not be in vain.
“No, Mistress, I have not searched for one hundred years, evaded the Cabal, protected our secrets and your burial site to fall short now. You will be set free from your prison, that wretched corpse where they trapped you.”
I glance at the sky. The sun paints the clouds a deep crimson, and dusk lengthens the shadows in the graveyard. I smile. That tonight, All Hallows Eve, will be the time of her resurrection seems appropriate. People used to believe the ghosts of the dead roamed on this night. I can only hope they will do so once more.
I pull the bag I brought with me closer, and open it, removing the necessary ingredients. I arrange them carefully—three glass jars, a black feather, and a pouch—and begin the spell.
I burrow a small hole in the loose earth, the dirt cold under my finger tips, the pungent smell of decay and filth scenting the air. Dusting off my fingers, I pick up one of the jars and pour the contents—dried twigs from an oak tree—into the hole I dug. Rummaging in my pocket, I remove my lighter and pick up the second jar. Then I set the twigs aflame as I recite the words embedded into my memory.
Awakened in Fire.”
I open the next jar and spill out the hallowed earth of a thousand graveyards to bury the flames. Smoke plumes from the dying embers
Strengthened in Earth.”
I lift the feather and drop it through the dissipating smoke, over the now filled hole. It drifts slowly to the ground.
Air to give you wings.
I raise the last jar and douse the feather in a cascade of liquid.
And Water to set you free.”
I feel the ground shudder and the air splinter with a frisson of electricity.
It’s working.
I snatch at the pouch, spilling its contents into my palm. The pieces of bone feel glacial against my skin, their inscribed runes shimmering a faint red. Carefully, I place the bones on the grave in the correct pattern, the symbol that will summon her back, and then survey my work.
I let out a sigh. “It is ready, Mistress.”
Only one more thing to accomplish, and I reach into—
My hand never finishes its task. I feel the bullet rip through my abdomen before my mind even realizes it heard a shot. I pitch forward, but quickly halt my fall by seizing the edge of the gravestone. I laugh, though I hear running footsteps, shouts and caws behind me, for my blood drips into the earth, and onto the bones. They are too late.
I roll away from the grave as tremors crack the ground and dirt spews upward. The stone marker splits and an intense, crimson light erupts, illuminating the sky. I shield my eyes against the glare, but I cannot block out the screams.
When I once again venture to look, I see her. She crouches on the ground, her black wings unfurling, and around her lay the bodies of Cabal soldiers, their own ravens scavenging among the dead.
I rest my head upon the ground and gaze at her daunting presence. “Welcome back, Mistress.”
She twists her head, staring at me with her fierce, obsidian eyes. In a voice both forbidding and soothing she speaks, “Thank you. For releasing me, and for your sacrifice.”
I nod, emotion robbing me of a reply, and see her rise toward the clouds, soaring high above the sanctified graveyard, her obsidian wings of bone and skin stretching wide, trailing smoke and aether. I smile as I watch her fly away, the ravens following, a magnificent black shadow against the sunset, and I wave farewell.
“Goodbye, my mistress.” My whisper catches the autumn breeze and chases her into the sky. I lower my hand, weakening from the pain and injury.
My breath slows, and my blood seeps into the dark loamy earth, but I do not care. My fading life does not matter, in fact I welcome its end. My demise means I succeeded. She is reborn, and this unnatural, immortal world will know the touch of Death again.




Now here's a bit of a salute to Poe...









Be sure to check out the rest of the Coffin Hoppers on this last day at http://coffinhop.com/

And if you haven’t yet, please enter my contest before it disappears.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 7: An Interview with Balthazar

A strange indulgence today Coffin Hoppers, as this odd transcript of an interview came into my possession, and I felt I had to share…



“Welcome everyone, to another Fireside Chat. I’m Richard Dale, your host. Today, the demon Balthazar (from the Killers and Demons series) has stopped by and kindly consented to talk with—”

“I have not consented to anything. I was ordered here by… never you mind who. I rather be anywhere else. Even watching one of those insufferable reality TV shows would be preferable to this torture.”

Unnerved, Mr. Dale fidgets. “Very well, then. I’ll try to make this as quick as possible—”

“Please do.”

Richard Dale frowns, but continues. “First, tell our audience a bit about yourself.”

“Why would I do that?”

“If you don’t answer, it will just prolong this interview.”

Balthazar sighs. “Oh, very well. If I must participate in this inane ritual, I must. I’m a demon, and a bounty hunter for Hell. I track down escaped souls and send the worthless wretches back where they belong. Satisfied?”

With a smirk, he replies, “Very. Now do you have any hobbies?”

“Killing, maiming, disembowelment, incinerating humans with Hellfire.”

A rather frightened look passes over Mr Dale’s face. “Um, very cheery pastimes. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?”

“Interviews.”

He swallows, turning slightly pale. “Which living person do you most despise?”

“Must I pick just one? I quite despise your whole race.”

Mr Dale weakly laughs. “Well, you must be fun at parties. Next question:  What do you consider the most overrated virtue?”

“Mercy.”

“Of course.” Richard Dale loosens his tie, smiles briefly and continues. “What is your idea of perfect happiness”?

“What kind of a question is that? Happiness is for weak humans… ” Balthazar pauses, and an unsettling smile crosses his lips. “Although, I rather miss my days as a pirate, during the early 18th century. Such good times back then. The smell of salty sea air mixed with blood, the cannon fire, the killing, and generally wreaking of havoc. Yes, such good times.”

Mr Dale pushes his chair backwards, away from his guest. “What is it that you most dislike?”

“Humans.”

A tiny gasp escapes Richard Dale’s lips, and his hands tighten around the arms of the chair where he is seated. “What one word best describes you?”

Balthazar snorts. “Where do you come up with this drivel? Who goes around describing themselves? But to answer the question, I’d use the word ruthless.” He smiles again.

Trembling, Mr Dale squeaks out a final query. “Last question. What is your first memory?

“Wonderful, it’s over.” Balthazar reaches down and pick up his hat. “My first memory is snapping the neck of a lesser demon and eating its bones. I was two years old by demon standards and my father was so proud. May I leave now?”

“Yes please do. I think I need a drink, anyway.”

“I recommend the whiskey. I had some before you arrived. Goodbye. I hope we never meet again.” In a cloud of smoke and the stench of brimstone Balthazar disappeared.

Richard Dale fainted.






I hope you enjoyed this adventure, and don’t forget to keep hopping for more fun. You can find the list of participants at  http://coffinhop.com/




And here’s my contest.



Wednesday, 29 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 6: Dark Drabble Wednesday

I've lured my new Drabble Wednesday feature into the Coffin Hop, along with guest writer Michael Brookes, author of The Cult of Me, Conversations in the Abyss, and other chilling books. So come and join with me in reading Michael’s scary offerings…




China Doll

Her cold lifeless eyes are staring into mine. Her perfect porcelain features, without expression, hold me transfixed where I stand.
"Genuine haunted doll", was the description on eBay. Of course I thought it was a gimmick, just something to push up the price. I thought it was pretty cool, so I bid and won.
It arrived yesterday, it looked pretty creepy. I placed it on the table and here I am. I cannot move. I'm hungry and thirsty. I can't even look away; I'm locked in this death stare.
Oh God! Will anybody find me here? Before it's too late?


Clowns

Lying on my bed and see my room full of clowns. Happy clowns, sad clowns, laughing clowns, even
a tall gaunt clown with spindly legs. My mummy thinks I like them and keeps buying me more. I wish I could tell her how much they frighten me. Everywhere I look, I see another clown's face.

One hundred different clowns, none of them the same. I say my prayers with mummy then count them before I sleep. Snuggled in my duvet I count them once again. This time the number comes up short and there's a rustle under the bed.


Dirty Shoes

Will you look at that? A spot of blood on my finest shoes. I spent a fortune on them only a few years ago. Finest Italian craftsmanship.

It's my own fault, I'm normally more careful. I wear those elasticated baggies so I don't spoil them. But tonight I gave into temptation. I spotted a delicacy so sweet God himself surely put her on that path.
She didn't hear me creep up behind her and with a savage motion sliced open her throat. I pushed her away quickly to avoid the arterial spray. Not quickly enough. I've ruined my favourite shoes.



Are the chills creeping up your spine yet?
My thanks to Michael for stopping by and sharing. 



And don’t forget to enter my contest, or creep over http://coffinhop.com/ and check out more of the Coffin Hoppers.



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 5: Thoughts on Horror and Halloween

Today I’m bringing you some ghoulish ruminations on horror and Halloween, and some delightfully dark novels by some very talented authors. Come in, read, browse, just be careful what you touch…




My name is Julianne Snow and I love Horror.
I’m not ashamed to admit that either. Some of my earliest experiences are entrenched in the seat of all that horror entails. My first memory is of opening my eyes as a young toddler and witnessing the underbelly of a large Daddy Long Legs spider; its eight legs radiating outward over my field of vision. I can remember being frozen, unable to move, unable to swat the spider off of my face.
To my young mind, it was agonizing hours before that spider moved. Paralyzing hours before my limbs became mine to control again. Harrowing hours before my lungs could propel the pending scream past my trembling lips. I was terrified, but once the spider had moved off of my face, the moment of fear passed and I was okay again.
Believe it or not, the resulting rush from the adrenaline coursing through my body was addictive, even as a young child. Not that I would have realized the addictive pull for what it was at the time; that realization came much later… Now I’m a junkie and I’m always looking for my next hit!




From the mind of Julianne Snow comes an undead collection of stories that feature the gamut of emotions and situations. Presented in flash fiction and short stories, the tales are sure to leave you wanting more and checking over your shoulder.

How would a group of children handle an uprising of the undead? What would you do to save a loved one only to find out that you’re facing a different threat altogether? How would a country react to a timely warning at the end of a war? What happens when a vampiric Romeo hits on an unsuspecting human? In a world where the undead are common place and protected, what happens when speed dating produces a love match?


Featuring:
The Treehouse
Kamikaze
Vanier’s Blueprint: A Zombie Tale
Must Love Zombies
Flash Fiction Duo: Fight and Hunger
EXIT
BITE
FLICKER
HORSE
BELOW
AGONY
BLOAT
ELBOW
Love Bites: A Valentine’s Day Misadventure
An Excerpt from Days with the Undead: Book One


  


How can I not write horror? There are monsters among us: real ones. There is homicide, matricide, patricide and infanticide, as well as domestic violence and abuse of all kinds. Any being perceived as vulnerable often suffers abuse and that certainly includes animals. Along with terrorism, our world is a pretty grim place sometimes. We can choose not to think about it, but it’s there, waiting. And the very fact that we know it is, scares us.

It has been suggested that horror films and fiction cause violence. I don’t agree. I think we write about it and make films about it because (sadly) it’s part of our world. It always has been and it always will be. Writing about what we fear helps to exorcise some of those fears. If our world knew no violence, I don’t think horror as a genre would exist.




This anthology is packed with stories of vampires, zombies, murderous midgets, demon clowns, evil dolls, haunted cemeteries, a real shop of horrors, taxidermy gone haywire, serial killers and more! Your worst fears and nightmares dished up for you with extra helpings of blood-curdling terror!

By the way, Circus of Horrors, a novel based on some characters in this anthology, will be released soon. 







October is the month for horror writers. All year long, we endure sideways glances and polite smiles when people learn that we write stories of demons and witches and things under the bed. But when October rolls around, we are all suddenly in demand, praised, not condemned, for our delight in the macabre. As December’s festive mood culminates in Christmas, so October’s darker whispers deliver us to Halloween, the high holy day of all things ghoulish. I like to celebrate with a few new novels, something to get the chill bumps raised. A dark night, a warm fireplace, a spooky tale. That’s a celebration.




The heroes from DARK INSPIRATION are back, and new trouble is brewing in Moultrie.


A coven of witches has moved into the tiny Tennessee town. They plan to sacrifice children and resurrect a long-trapped Mayan being, the longarex, to renew its hunt of mankind.  Only Laura Locke and Theresa Grissom have the skills to defeat this supernatural danger.  But their last brush with death has shattered their relationship, and a widow in town has her own gruesome plan for Laura.  If they can’t stop the coven in time, hundreds will die, the first being Theresa’s kidnapped son.







I'd like to thank the authors for taking part today, and for their pondering on all things ghastly. Be sure to keep hopping for more horrific treats. You can find the complete list of Coffin Hoppers over at: http://coffinhop.com/


And don’t forget to enter my contest.

Monday, 27 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 4: Bête Noire

For today's dark offering, I bring you writer and senior editor at Bête Noire Magazine, Jennifer L. Gifford, with an excerpt from her story, The Dollhouse, and also a bit about the magazine itself...







THE DOLLHOUSE
By Jennifer L. Gifford


I’m an artist. I confine myself to one simple medium, but my art is one of a kind. Working in fear and pain, much the way Picasso worked in oils, I utilize whatever tools I have around me to complete my dark masterpieces. I specialize in the macabre, emulating the dark essence of it, capturing it in all its dark twisted beauty. Death, sweet death, is my greatest creation.
My pieces are never seen by others, and while one day I hope that my creations bring me notoriety, I make them for the soul purpose of my own enjoyment. They are my creations, though they didn't start out that way. At first they belonged to God, but I stole them from Him, and I made them my own.
My pieces, as a novice, were rough, choppy, and out of proportion with the form. But over time I learned to correct the broken limbs, the pasty complexions, and yellowish skin that had once been a drain on my energies, not to mention the scarcity of my precious resources. Much like any other hobby, it takes practice, dedication, and commitment.
Helena was my first success. She was so breathtaking, and still is, that I sometimes sit in awe of my own handiwork. She was handpicked from hundreds of others. It was her face that captivated me, drew me to her. Helena was special.
She had a heart shaped face, soft and round with the cheeks of a cherub. Her hair flowed around her feminine features like spun corn silk. And the eyes, oh the eyes, so full and round--like her lips--were deep pools of cerulean.
I took her one night, bringing her to my studio, where I do all my work. I prepare them there, before putting them in the dollhouse. The building is old, a three story brick structure down along the Detroit River, and I own the whole thing. It’s in a seedy part of town where everyone minds their own business, and doesn't ask questions. But its quiet and I need quiet when I work.
The dolls always seemed so shocked to find themselves my helpless guest. I believe it’s because they have never been in the presence of a true artist before, so I imagine that is where their anxiety comes from.
I gave Helena a lethal dose of sedatives. It’s my own personal blend of prescription painkillers and good old fashioned laudanum.
It’s best to wait until they are fully asleep before inserting the thick embalming needle into the side of their neck, near the carotid artery. Sometimes a dolls eye’s will flutter open catching sight of the needle sticking out of her neck. It’s intoxicating to watch as the fear washes over them in their last moments. 
The needle is hollow, and with it at the neck, it’s easier to elevate the doll to let the blood drain. I empty it of blood, but not completely. That small amount of life left in them keeps them warm just long enough for me to prepare them.
I must also admit, it’s here that I get a rush knowing that their last precious drop of divinity is controlled by me.
Before the body’s temperature cools, I slowly inject heated rubber cement in the joints of the body. Several smaller injections into each of the major muscle groups of the skeletal system, allows me to move the limbs of my doll however I want them. As precious as my dolls are to me, I still like to take them out of their box from time to time and play with them. When I do, the rubber cement gives the flesh a firm, supple feel that bends, but never damages the body.
I remove all the unnecessary hair from the body. I like my dolls to have skin as smooth as porcelain. I use large strips of wax I purchase at a local beauty supply store, and strip every inch of my new doll’s precious form. It’s during this process that I start to get intimately familiar with every crevice and line of her delicate form, and in that very moment, I own my doll, body and soul. I have thought about branding my dolls, burnishing my initials onto their cool flesh, but the thought of that dark blemish, that blight upon my perfect canvas, is almost more than I can bear.
Through trial and error, I discovered that by spraying a thin coat of silicone floor sealant over the body carefully, the sealant acts as a protective barrier and completely closes the pores on the body. It also prevents the often inevitable darkening and rotting of the flesh. It’s so heartbreaking to painstakingly toll over such a magnificent body of work, only to have it wretched from your desperately clinging hands by the cruel ravages of time.
Starting with her lips, I formed the full oval into a tempting pout. Next I slowly bathe her form from head to toe before spraying her with a painting primer that serves as a sealant and top coat.
Using a small butane kitchen torch, like the ones the chefs use for making Crème Brule, I apply a small localized amount of heat to her cheeks, to naturally and permanently heat her cheeks to a pleasant rose hue.
It is here in this process as well, that my dedication, handiwork, and artistic abilities often lull me into a restful daze as my new doll, my muse, inspires me into artistic daydreams.
From past experiences, I force myself to pay close attention to the methods in which I use in my erotic taxidermy. Too much heat can blister and blacken the skin beyond all recovery. I have ruined several earlier dolls that way.
I use spray paint as a foundation. It’s cheap, and it comes in a lovely variety of shades that I can match to any of the dolls’ skin tones. After, I painstakingly airbrush on all the subtle lowlights and glowing highlights their natural skin tone had.
While the paint dried, I started on her hair. I always like all my dolls hair to have loose curls that frame and accent the face. I want to show off the natural beauty of my dolls, not hide it. I think that’s what makes them all lifelike. The rest of the embalming process is completed while I finish the hair.
Next, I use a light finishing sandpaper before applying her make-up. I want the face to be smooth. When my fingers caress her cheek, and stroke her swan-like neck, I want the cool flesh of my doll to be as freshly spun silk.
I artfully made up her face. Dramatic eyes, like a movie star. I injected super glue into the eyeballs themselves, at the corners. It keeps the eyes from decomposing, and gives their eyes that glow that seems to gaze at me with longing.

Jennifer L. Gifford is a writer and senior editor for Bête Noire Magazine




Bête Noire is a quarterly print magazine headed by authors A.W. Gifford and Jennifer L. Gifford, along with its sister publication, Dark Opus Press. 2014 sees Bête Noire Magazine celebrating its fourth anniversary, continuing to publish the best in dark speculative fiction that showcases the creative talents of both new and established authors, Bram Stoker award winners, Pushcart prize nominees, and Nebula Award winners.
Blending a mix of horror, science-fiction, Victorian, gothic, suspense, and steampunk, Bête Noire Magazine creates a unique mix that’s redefining the speculative fiction realm.
Bete Noire magazine is also a platform for photography, original artwork, and poetry that encompasses the subgenres of dark fiction, striving to uphold the talents of reputable authors, while bringing new authors to the forefront.
Remember, fear is just a point of view.


And don’t forget to enter my contest, or creep over http://coffinhop.com/ and check out more of the Coffin Hoppers.


Sunday, 26 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 3: Dark Poetry Corner

Dark Poetry Corner






Every year I post a dark poetry corner for Coffin Hop, and this year is no exception. However, for 2014, I've given it a bit of a twist. Included in the poetry this year is a group poem, a collaboration I did with some poets over on Facebook.
Also on deck are two deeply disturbing bits of verse written back in April for National Poetry Month, and a more recent poem.






First the group poem:


A Walk to Immorality




Going out for a twilight stroll to refresh and regenerate. The night reveals its onyx veil dashed with stars to see what's beyond my door. Passing by a memorial park, looking over to catch a glimpse of the souls inside. The wind rises up and pushes me down an untreated path doing a makeshift pirouette to catch balance. Recovering, I look up and see an abandoned cottage. 

The shutters hang from glassless windows. Curtains, tattered and stained, beckon me on the breeze, as if ghostly fingerlings calling me home. Will we have tea? Me and whatever is setting the table behind that heavy, dark door. Will it light a fire to take the chill from my bones, and should I bring a gift? Wildflowers, perhaps? I gather handfuls of Queen Ann Lace from the front yard on my way up the porch, soundlessly begging the door to open as I approach. Already, I am under its spell. 

A creaking hinge whispers, hollow and hoarse, the noise inviting, yet forlorn. Come in, come in, chimes the echo metallic as the door swings wide like a maw. A firefly dances, inside the dark, a pinpoint of light to show me the way. A furtive stirring of air tickles my skin cold with goose bumps. I step forward, strangely hesitant, but I cross the threshold, floral offering outstretched. A murmuring resonates, from the deep black, rising slowly to words: “Enter and be welcome.” Behind me resounds a thud, as the door slams shut.

I am left in the dark. Sweat trickles down the sides of my face. I grope my way forward, seeking a chair. My knees are weak. I. Must. Sit. There are no sounds now, but in the silence I can feel someone near. Then I see him in my mind: his dark brooding, his ebony waistcoat, his white shirt open at the neck, his sophisticated walking stick. Click. Click. Click. He’s walking toward me now. I flatten myself against the wall, cling to the shadows, but know that he needs no light to see. Oh, I begin to crave his touch. What is happening? His breath is hot and so close, so close. I welcome the teeth. Immortality has found me, blood stains my collar. Tomorrow the sun will burn my skin.

Poem written by:

Rene Schwiesow



And now my solo poems:



Wild Born




Born on the untamed storm, black wind in the blood
Cold eyes of green, with a scream to shatter bone
Awake the dead, raven shadows call the flood

Red moon fears the surge, shrieking her tempest moan
A veiled gaze, darkened haze, in the endless howl
Bring the last, come the heir, to the thorny throne

Soar the bleak hurricane, rip the realm a scowl
Cascade forth the fury, nothing stands the wake
Fall to the oncoming rage, let life befoul

Wide rivers will burn and fair mountains will quake,
each in measured doom, blazing width and the depth
Child of the feral storm, all mercy forsake

Run to the edge, chased by the dark mist of breath
Run in vain, escape shall transpire in death




Another Day

Shadows lift with the morning sunrise, to unveil its kiss to the morning mist draped upon the mountains. Radiant sparkles flutter in the surface of the lake, as the birds chirp their song to the day.


The bells peal a dirge
The shuffle of feet stir dust
On an open grave










The Devil’s Deal

A sly tongue,
silver some may say
and falling lies
wrapped in tiny silvers
of truth…

…and moonlight at the crossroads

Don’t say yes,
Don’t sell your soul

But if you do,
and you hear
the yowl
of the hellhound
coming in the night

Run

Even if you won’t escape






Hope you enjoyed the poetry.
If you'd like to read more, try the Kintsugi Poets Society, another Coffin Hop participant.

Don’t forget to enter my contest, and creep over http://coffinhop.com/ 
and check out more of the Coffin Hoppers.




Saturday, 25 October 2014

#CoffinHop Day 2: Legends and Lore Spotlight

For Coffin Hop today, dear readers, we venture into the land of myth as I present a new anthology that I am privileged to be a part of, Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions. I have a spotlight, the book trailer, and I do quick review of the book. So enjoy...




Delve into myth and legend, where the Fates force post-modern man into a world of the unknown—a world long since dismissed as ignorant superstition.

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

  • The Brother-Sister Fable by Alyson Grauer: a young boy disappears into a realm where only his sister can follow.
  • Faelad by Sarah Hunter Hyatt: Claire Whitaker didn’t even know she was Irish, let alone The Morrigan, the goddess of war.
  • By Skyfall by Emma Michaels: a mer-couple from Atlantis find themselves in the middle of a human murder investigation.
  • Charon’s Obol by. R. M. Ridley: Jonathan Alvey didn’t believe in gods, until he helps a lost child find her all-powerful parents.
  • Peradventure by Sarah E. Seeley: a jinni must choose between the woman he loves and destroying the city that persecuted her.
  • Natural Order by Lance Schonberg: when Carlos Vasquez is kidnapped, he discovers powers within himself to change the world.
  • Two Spoons by Danielle E. Shipley: A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron.
  • Grail Days by A. F. Stewart: Living forever has its drawbacks, especially when you spend it clearing away the messes of other immortals.
  • Downward Mobility by M. K. Wiseman: they say love conquers all, but can it save a Valkyrie when she breaks all the rules?



Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

If you like your paranormal and urban fantasy chocked full of gods, goddesses, and legends then this anthology is a perfect fit. Nine talented authors bring ancient myth into the modern era, deftly mixing magic into our everyday reality and beyond. All the stories have a unique voice, from a touch of fairy tale in The Brother-Sister Fable to detective noir in Charon’s Obol (think Harry Dresden meets Phillip Marlowe for that one), and much, much more.
My favourite tale in this anthology (and that was a difficult choice) would have to be Two Spoons. I loved the soft, well-crafted atmosphere of the narrative and the setting, and the creative take the author used for a distinctive “deal with the devil” story.

Legends and Lore is a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it.


 Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportion


Charon’s Obol

She came further into the room and stood beside the chair on the other side of his desk.
“I just want to be with my mom and dad. Please, Mr. Alvey?”
“Why did you come to me, kid?”
“Because you’re my best hope of finding them.”
He leaned against the side of his desk.
“And why’s that?”
“Because you’re a magician,” she stated as calmly as one might when talking about the weather.
“Magicians pull rabbits out of their hats. I don’t own a hat.”
“Then, a sorcerer, wizard, conjurer—you’re a Magos, Mr. Alvey.”
He wondered how she knew the ancient Greek term. The accepted term for the past few centuries was practitioner, but what did names matter?
“There’s no such thing, kid,” he lied to her.
 “Sure there is,” she chirped.
“What makes you so sure?”
“Because you are one. It’s obvious to anyone who looks.”


Natural Order

Carlos hissed as the wound burned for a moment before a roar washed over his ears, a thousand years of wind rustling through the trees drowning a stream of curses from Megan. His vision narrowed to the string of blood extending from the wound, bulging at the bottom as it stretched, reaching for the stony beach below them. The second drop came faster, racing to catch the first. As the third slipped free, one joined it from Megan’s hand, the two drops striking rock together just before the leading edge of a wave licked high enough to catch them. The wave pulled back, tiny swirls of blood leaving with it.


Peradventure

Delilah stood rooted to the gritty mud floor of her hut with a mixture of awe and terror as a goliath of a creature with pointed, bat-like ears and glowing yellow orbs for eyes reached for her with a massive hand through the night’s darkness. That hand could have easily crushed her throat or broken her neck before she could think to scream. But she didn't scream. And the giant, claw-like fingers merely stroked back the hair that had fallen into her face.


Two Spoons

“What can I get you?” he asked.
The Black Man answered, “The girl.”
The pen over the notepad in Tidbit’s father’s hand paused in the air. “I don’t believe we have any girl on the menu.”


Grail Days

She waded back into the lake and slowly levitated above the surface until she hovered about three feet in the air. Above us, the sky darkened, the clouds turning the shade of soot, and the air thickened with the smell of ozone. Vivienne moaned, a hoarse, guttural sound, and began to spin violently. A whoosh of lake water ascended, sucked into a gyrating whirlwind, a waterspout funnel that surrounded her. Lightning flashed, the air temperature dropped, and the howling wind bent the trees. I could barely breathe, and I saw Morgan crouched nearly double.
Then the tempestuous weather ceased abruptly, and the sun warmed the cerulean sky again. Vivienne stopped whirling, and water plunged down in a cascading splash that sent a spray of mist over the shore. She faced us, her arms outstretched, and her eyes shone with an unnatural silver light. I knew she’d connected with . . . something.





Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions



On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson GrauerAlyson Grauer

Alyson Grauer is a storyteller in multiple mediums, her two primary canvases being the stage and the page. On stage, she is often seen in the Chicago area, primarily at Piccolo Theatre, Plan 9 Burlesque, and the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Her nonfiction work has been published in the “Journal for Perinatal Education” for Lamaze International. Her short fiction can be found in Tales from the Archives (Volume 2) for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and in one other anthology from Xchyler Publishing, Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology. Alyson is a proud graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and hails originally from Milwaukee, WI. Her debut novel, On The Isle of Sound and Wonder, will be released in November 2014 from Xchyler Publishing.

A Dash of Madness: A Thriller AnthologySarah Hunter Hyatt

Sarah Hunter Hyatt grew up outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. As a child, she kept notebooks of stories that she would share with her little sisters at bedtime. Now, an adult, her stories have matured but still occupy her thoughts (and notebooks). “Faelad” is Sarah’s second short story for Xchyler Publishing, her first being “Stunner” which appeared in A Dash of Madness: a Thriller Anthology. Along with writing, being a mom to three wonderful kids, and a wife to a patient husband, she also dabbles in graphic design.

Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is a cover artist, blogger, and author of the Society of Feathers series. Her love of blogging started when she created a book blog in 2009 which gave her the courage to finally submit her own novels to publishers. Emma Michaels’ publications now include Owlet and Eyrie (Tribute Books), Holiday Magick Anthology (Spencer Hill Press), and Cirque d’Obscure Anthology, and Cogs in Time Anthology (Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly). To find out more stop by www.EmmaMichaels.com

Tomorrow Wendell, Book 1 of The White Dragon Black seriesR. M. Ridley

R. M. Ridley lives in rural Ontario on a small homestead, raising a menagerie of animals, including a flock of sheep and a swarm of foul. 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 bipolar disorder, Ridley is a strong believer in being open about mental health issues because myths should be kept to stories. Ridley's first short story featuring Jonathan Alvey, "A Case for Custody," appeared in Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology (2013), followed by Tomorrow Wendell, Book 1 of the White Dragon Black series (2014). He has two works slated for release in 2015, including Books, Bourbon, and Blondes, an anthology of White Dragon Black short stories, and another full length novel, Book 2 of the White Dragon Black series.

Sarah Seeley

Through two wonderful mentored research experiences, Sarah E. Seeley had the opportunity to work with dead sauropods and ancient odonates while acquiring her undergraduate degree in geology from Brigham Young University. She hopes to study more dead things in the future and contribute to scientific discussions about what makes life on Earth so amazing. In the meantime, she explores the bright side of being human by writing dark fiction. Sarah’s independently published works include Maladaptive Bind and Blood Oath: An Orc Love Story. Another short story, “Driveless,” appears in “Leading Edge Magazine” Issue #66.
You can learn more about Sarah on her writing blog at www.SlithersOfThought.com.

Lance Schonberg

In the middle of lecturing one of his children on the importance of following dreams, Lance began to wonder why and when he’d stopped following his. Gathering up a few salvageable shreds of unfinished stories, he began his first novel. He’s written several novels and many shorter works in the years since, and has had twenty or so stories see publication. At any given moment Lance is working on a novel and at least one short story—probably more—most of which fall into the broad buckets of science fiction or fantasy.
Lance can be found lurking on his blog at www.lanceschoberg.com, on Twitter as @WritingDad, and sometimes even on his Facebook author page.

Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley's first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. . . . Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She's also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble.
Danielle blogs at www.EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

A. F. Stewart

A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A.F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author she’s published novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry and nonfiction. Stewart's first published work with Xchyler Publishing, "Our Man Fred," appeared in Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology (2013).
SMechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthologytewart is fond of good books, action movies, sword collecting, geeky things, comic books, and oil painting as a hobby. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

M. K. Wiseman

M. K. Wiseman is a librarian who recently decided that it would be fun to try her hand at the creation of books instead of mere curation. A 'method' writer, she likes to first try out the worlds that she builds. This has, admittedly, led to some strange results. (For example, she once elicited funny looks at her daily coffee shop by adopting a British accent for one day. We're all in trouble once she decides to write a space novel.) Wiseman's first short story for Xchyler Publishing, "Clockwork Ballet," appeared in Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology (2013).
In addition to the dozens of stories currently marinating on her hard drive, she maintains two blogs, Flying the Blue Pigeon and Millicent and Rue.

 Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

So that's all for me today, be sure to come back tomorrow for my annual Dark Poetry Corner; I have some delightfully dismal ones this year, plus a group poem.


And don't forget to check out the other Hoppers at http://coffinhop.com/ where you'll find the Official List. (Oh, and there's also my contest; one of the prizes is a paperback of Legends and Lore).




Friday, 24 October 2014

Crawl Out Of Your Graves, It’s #CoffinHop 2014

Welcome to the Dark Side!


It’s that time of year again, when the ghouls come out play and so do we horror writers. Yes, boys and girls it’s Coffin Hop Time

For those of you not in the know, here’s a brief explanation of what will unfold:  Every October a horde of horror writers get together for an annual event and turn the last week of the month into the spooky festival of terror called Coffin Hop. It is a Halloween and horror themed blog hop that runs from Oct. 24th until the 31st. We have stories, trivia, ghoulish delights, and tons of contests. You can check out the official rundown here: http://coffinhop.com/what-is-coffin-hop-2/

For my participation, I have daily posts planned, with two book spotlights, a dark poetry corner, an excerpt by guest writer Jennifer L. Gifford, a multi-author spotlight, some scary drabbles by guest author Michael Brookes, a interview with my character Balthazar, and a Poe inspired story for Halloween. In addition, my blog is part of Melissa Smith’s scavenger hunt, so be sure to check out her blog for details: http://melissasmithbooks.wordpress.com/

Plus, I’ll be running a Rafflecopter contest all week, with lots of great prizes (see the bottom of the post for the contest).

So that’s the scoop on Coffin Hop. And after you’ve read this post, you can pop over to http://coffinhop.com/ to find out who else is hopping by checking out the Linky list.




Now join in today’s devilish fun…

I’ve recently published my newest horror story collection, Killers and Demons II: They Return, a book that (as you may have guessed) focuses on villains. So today, I’m starting off the Hop with a book spotlight and a bonus Villain List.


Killers and Demons II: They Return




Evil is back, with a greater appetite for death.

Killers.
Demons.
They lurk forever in the shadows, smile at you in the morning, and haunt your dreams at night. You can’t hide, you can’t run, and there’s no escape. You can only scream when they come for you.

Killers and Demons II:  They Return is a collection of thirteen tales, blending short stories and flash fiction, tales where the blood lingers on your tongue or spurts quickly from the swift cut.









The Villainous Roster:

Wade, every parent’s nightmare
Hannah and Mr. Greeley. Who is the victim and who is the villain?
Simon and Zoe, a married couple who are dying to be single again.
Norman and his "cookie" of a wife, Mabel.
Millicent and Jane, a delightful duo you shouldn’t invite to your Regency tea party
Amanda, who literally has a skeleton in her closet
Balthazar, the demon bounty hunter on the hunt once more.
Sarah, a young woman going through some changes and craving new tastes
Emmeline, hanged as a witch, now back from the dead for revenge
Gabrielle, a woman haunted by shadows
The Dollmaker, she showers death, and an umbrella won’t help
Nightmare Demons, bent on driving a town insane

And then there’s Alice, a little girl locked in the basement by her Daddy…


Together they form a spine-chilling cadre of predators.


Find the book at:

Kobo


Plus, download the first book in the series for free at Smashwords until Halloween:
Killers and Demons






On to the contest. I have three prizes up for grabs:

  • First Prize: An autographed (by me) paperback of Legends and Lore and Smashwords copies of Killers and Demons and Killers and Demons II
  • Second Prize: Mini potion bottles and a pouch
  • Third Prize: A Smashwords copy of Killers and Demons II: They Return 

(Note: There will a small delay in delivery of the Legends and Lore paperback, as it is being shipped to me from the publisher before it continues on to the winner.)

Here's some photos of the prizes:








Now here’s that added bonus, a quick list of some of my favourite sci-fi/fantasy/horror villains on TV:
  • Crowley (Supernatural): He’s the ever-so charming King of Hell, what more do you need?
  • White Walkers (Game of Thrones): In a show simply overflowing with nasty types, these guys are downright chilling (pun intended).
  • Hydra (Agents of Shield): What could be better than mad scientists and ruthless sleeper agents.
  • The Daleks (Doctor Who): One word – Exterminate.
  • The Headless Horseman/Henry Parish (Horseman of War)/Moloch (Sleepy Hollow): With this trio, the coming apocalypse is in very malevolent hands.
  • Samaritan/Greer (Person of Interest): Creepy AI and his handler that are puppet masters for human security and covert spy operations. Nothing could possibly go wrong there.
  • Hannibal Lector (Hannibal): Suave, elegant, and totally creepy.

Feel free to add your own villain to the list in the comment section. And be sure to pop back tomorrow for a peek at the Legends and Lore anthology, full of gods, mer-people, Valkyries, and my own contribution, Arthurian witches.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tomorrow Dawns Darkly! #CoffinHop Begins!



Yes my minions, you lovers of the ghastly and the ghoulish, another Coffin Hop commences tomorrow. This year I bring you more delightful dreadful treats of horror with a double theme of Myths and Villains.

This year’s agenda will bring frights and chills, terrors and thrills. I have in store for you:
  • Spotlights on my two latest books: Killers and Demons II: They Return and Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions.
  • Guest authors, bringing their stories, their books and their thoughts on horror
  • My annual dark poetry corner, with lots of dripping blood
  • A reluctant interview with Balthazar, everyone's favourite demon bounty hunter.
  • A Poe inspired tale for Halloween
  • A great contest.





So join in the horrific fun, and return here tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Released Today! Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Today's the official release day for Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions, and the last day of the fabulous blog tour. My story, Grail Days (a modern day tale of Arthurian Legend), is part of this anthology, and I'm proud to be included with this group of fantastic stories and talented authors.

Here's a quick look at the book, and an interview with one of the authors, M. K. Wiseman.  Plus, you can check out the book over on the Xchyler Publishing page (along with any tour stops you might have missed):
http://www.xchylerpublishing.com/site.cfm/Our-Books/Legends-and-Lore.cfm 

And be sure to attend the book launch party over on Facebook starting at 7 PM Eastern. The authors will be there to chat, and there will be games and great prizes.

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions


Delve into myth and legend, where the Fates force post-modern man into a world of the unknown—a world long since dismissed as ignorant superstition.


The Brother-Sister Fable by Alyson Grauer: A young boy disappears into a realm where only his sister can follow.

Faelad by Sarah Hunter Hyatt: Claire Whitaker didn’t even know she was Irish, let alone The Morrigan, the goddess of war.

By Skyfall by Emma Michaels: A mer-couple from Atlantis find themselves in the middle of a human murder investigation.

Charon’s Obol by. R. M. Ridley: Jonathan Alvey didn’t believe in gods, until he helps a lost child find her all-powerful parents.

Peradventure by Sarah E. Seeley: A jinni must choose between the woman he loves and destroying the city that persecuted her.

Natural Order by Lance Schonberg: When Carlos Vasquez is kidnapped, he discovers powers within himself to change the world.

Two Spoons by Danielle E. Shipley: A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron.

Grail Days by A. F. Stewart: Living forever has its drawbacks, especially when you spend it clearing away the messes of other immortals.

Downward Mobility by M. K. Wiseman: They say love conquers all, but can it save a Valkyrie when she breaks all the rules?





Interview with M. K. Wiseman

How did the idea for this story come to you?
“Downward Mobility” actually grew out of a different story that had been rattling around my hard drive for a little under a year. What I ended up actually writing drew inspiration from my time working in a law firm. I guess I just let my imagination run with the idea of a very tired Valkyrie.

What makes your main character unique?
Honestly, I don't view Amelia as all that unique. While that may not come off as a ringing endorsement, it is nice to have a relatable, down-to-earth character. Even with her supernatural background, Amelia has a human boldness, humor and capacity for love with which we 'mere mortals' can identify. Perhaps a thousand years amongst our kind has given her more humanity than even she expected.

Is this part of a series?
Not at this time. Unless . . .  

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I'm still not sure I am one. :) In all seriousness though, I have always wanted to tell stories. Animation was actually my first love and writing simply grew out of that.

What have you written?
I've published “Downward Mobility” as well as another short story in Xchyler Publishing's Mechanized Masterpieces Steampunk Anthology. In the hopper: I've over a dozen longer works in various stages of completion and I maintain two active continuing story blogs.

What are you working on?
I'm currently trying to put the finishing touches on a rather massive steampunk/fantasy novel while also trying to work out the bugs on three different short stories. 

How do you write? Longhand, typewriter, laptop, tablet?
I write near everything longhand; little yellow legal pads in a leather carry case. (Yes, I now have an entire desk full of filled notepads.) I type everything into the computer later—generally creating more typos than if I'd started digital.

What is your writing zone and how do you get there?
The zone is whenever I write and the results aren't total garbage. The aforementioned yellow legal pads have scores of pages with lines through sections I have deemed 'unworthy' of seeing the light of day. Sometimes the act of writing is just getting pen on paper, while other days the results are pure magic and I know I have found my groove.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?
The time spent. It really does take massive amounts of time. 

What’s the easiest thing about writing?
The ideas. When I started out I had one idea and worried that it was all my brain was ever going to produce. Then I had another idea, and then another one . . . which, of course, leads directly to the hardest thing about writing for me. ;)

What are you currently reading?
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. Fantastic book.

Do you prefer reading eBook or paperback?
I have a Nook and have sometimes read on my phone but prefer paperback.

What advice do you have for fellow writers?
Keep at it! Embrace what creative avenues your brain goes down and be true to yourself. Don't write a thing just because it's in style, write it because you'd love to read it, because the world needs that story. (Oh, and the librarian in me says: read a lot!)








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