Sorry!

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My apologies for dropping the ball on this blog. I am currently changing jobs in RL and have not had the time needed to take care of things here. Everything will go back to normal in a week, two at the most, and I will continue with the regularly scheduled posts. Again I’m sorry I’ve let everyone down.

New This Week 04/05/2021

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Clicking on the cover image will take you to the books amazon sales page.

Terror in the Shadows: Various Authors

Synopsis:

When you play hide and go seek in the shadows, you never know what will find you…

A cartoon character’s crazy antics take a sinister turn when viewers become trapped in his sadistic show. Matrimony turns deadly as a husband and wife compete in a grisly game of confession. And a young child unleashes the beast within after he discovers his neighbor is not what he seems…

Scare Street is proud to present thirteen tales of supernatural horror in one volume. A cornucopia of nightmares that will capture your imagination. And it won’t let go until the final scream rings out…

As the sun sets, darkness crawls across the land. You’ve lost track of time. The witching hour has begun! Evil creeps and slithers from the shadows, and the only thing you can do now is hide.

Footsteps shuffle closer. A child’s eerie laugh echoes through the night. You close your eyes, praying they don’t see you. But deep down, you know it’s already too late.

And once you let out your final scream, the game is over…

Negative Space: Mike Robinson

Synopsis: Twilight Falls is just your standard northern California town, right? It’s not a playground for anything dark and unfathomable, right?

A provocative painter named Max Higgins is on the verge of local fame. What is the secret to his work’s haunting allure? He collects photos of missing persons and incorporates them into his paintings, giving the faces, as he puts it, a “new home in his work.” This fascination stems from the bizarre disappearances of people he knew growing up, including his father.

When someone recognizes a face in one of his paintings, he’s suddenly thrust into a journey as surreal as anything from his brush, a journey into his past that will irrevocably determine his future.

Wind Catcher – Demon in Exile: Rory Surtain

Synopsis: Don’t confuse insanity for intent.

Colivar is a Kingdom plagued by attacks from the Infernal Domain. For centuries, the Order of the Vigil has fought to stem the demonic tide and preserve the Realm, but politics and uncivil wars have depleted their ranks. For reasons unknown, the High Prince of Hell has decided to lend them a hand in the form of a demon in exile.

Politics and purpose draw a demon-slayer into a distant valley plagued by the black winds of war. In his bid to stem the dark tide of a demonic horde, he soon finds that the only path forward offers madness with every step that he takes.

In this genre-bending fantasy series, coming of age takes on a whole new meaning for a young man grappling with his inner demons as he learns to battle the fiends that are plaguing his land.

The Monsters of Chavez Ravine: Debra Castaneda

Synopsis: Before Dodger Stadium, dark forces terrorized Chavez Ravine

Los Angeles, 1952. When her father is attacked under mysterious circumstances, 22-year-old Trini Duran must return home to Chavez Ravine, a neighborhood mostly abandoned after the government sent letters to residents demanding that they leave.

Only two hundred stubborn holdouts remain.

While the Mexican American community fights to save their homes, they face a new threat that is even harder to combat than the politicians who want them gone.

Trini discovers the city and the supernatural have joined forces against her old neighborhood—monstrous creatures emerge at night, terrorizing the holdouts.

Trini, a handsome community organizer, a healer with dubious skills and a ragtag group of fighters, take up arms against the elusive enemy.

But to stop the demon invasion, Trini must decide how far she’s willing to go to save the place she once left behind.

Fridays 5 04/02/2021

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This week I ask: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Clicking on the authors name or image will take you to their website or amazon author page.

Eric A Shelman

A: In 1992, I sold a short story called The Crossing for $2.00. That was the moment I felt I was a writer.

Bio: Eric lives in southwest Florida with his wife, Linda. A fan of horror since he was young, he’s been writing since his teens. Growing up his room was filled with monster models, including The Wolfman, Dr. Phibes, Frankenstein’s Monster, and many others. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, was about a serial killer before he moved on to his true passion with The Witches of Laguna Beach. In 2009, after a 12 year hiatus, he wrote Dead Hunger. He currently has over 20 books to his credit, all but two of which are novels.

Phil Yang

A: I guess in 2012.

Bio: Phil currently lives in Florida and is a Stetson University graduate. In his free time, he likes to watch YouTube, surf the internet, play video games, eat new food, travel and take pictures.

Mike Sherer

A: When I wrote my first rock lyrics in junior high.

Bio: I live in the Greater Cincinnati area of southwest Ohio. My screenplay ‘Hamal 18’ was produced in Los Angeles and released direct to DVD. My paranormal suspense novel ‘A Cold Dish’ was published by James Ward Kirk Fiction. I have also published 4 novellas (including Under a Raging Moon) and 18 short stories.

Lee Taylor

A: That is a tough one. Consider because I got paid? or because I wrote something? I think most writers consider themselves a writer after writing something but for me, even though I’d been writing since a child, I never thought about considering myself a writer until I started getting positive feedback from readers. My mind changed from – I like writing to Wow! people like what I write –

Bio: Lee Taylor was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, UK, in 1969. He moved to Bedworth, Warwickshire at the age of 9. All his life he’s had a passion for creating things, whether it was new games to play with family and friends, drawing, or creating a story.

Thomas F Montelone

A: When I was 12 years old and spent a summer’s worth of lawn cutting money on a Royal manual typewriter.

Bio: Thomas F Monteleone has been a professional writer since 1972, and 4-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. He has published more than 100 short stories in numerous magazines and anthologies. His stories have been nominated for many awards and have appeared in many best-of-the-year compilations.

Start your adventure today!

An endless night is closing in and only the strong will survive.

Amazon

Weekly Writing Challenge 03/31/2021

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As is normally the case when doing this I only uncover the title for a story as I near the end of it. This week the title presented itself to me as I was writing the last segment. Permit me to introduce you to ‘The Line’. As noted before I knew this would be brief as was its nature that you will become aware of momentarily.

The Line

Part 3

Chastised I returned to my work, but thoughts of what I wanted to do to Simon, and his wife, never strayed far from my mind. I threw myself into my job, working twice as hard to regain the respect I lost over my earlier failures. It wasn’t long before the line was humming along as it should, and my welds improved to their former beauty.

There’s something spectacular about a good weld that those who have never welded would understand. Like Rembrandt, Picasso, Steinbeck, and Dickens. Artists in their own right who understood the medium they worked in, just as I understood my chosen medium. I was meant to weld, and I had the talent to be the best, but that didn’t mean a damned thing on the line. On the line the only thing that mattered was keeping to the schedule, and the schedule was brutal. There was little time for anything other than hitting your welds and moving onto the next piece, and on to the next, and the next. A never-ending line of steel stretching beyond forever.

Walking the line was Simon, always watching over our shoulder, never letting up. Push, push, push, that was all he did. Meet that quota. Beat that deadline. Give yourself to the line only to make him look good. He got all the credit, and rest of us got nothing. No recognition, no praise, just more work slammed down our throats until it felt like we were going to choke.

I couldn’t take it anymore. The line was my world, my life, and my nemesis. I felt him behind me, Simon, always checking always watching what we were doing, and I felt myself coming apart at the seams. It wasn’t fair he should get all the credit for our hard work. The life we worked for and deserved. He stepped around to my side, inspecting my work and I responded.

It was an accident really, my response to his presence was mostly reflex. I shifted and spun around. When I did, I inadvertently knocked him into the line. The line was no place for soft flesh and fragile bone. Blood sprayed the base of the pillar I operated from, alarms sounded, and for the first time in my memory, the line stopped.

Voices and footsteps raced to my position. One of the technicians knelt down and grabbed my power cord. I tried to stop him, but he was too fast. He yanked the cord before I could intervene and the power supplying my brain was interrupted. A system wide shut down went into effect and the world around me dimmed as electronic circuitry stopped functioning.

The last thing I saw was Simon’s lifeless body trapped in the mechanism of the line. The carrier after the one I’d been working nearly decapitated him and for the first time in my miserable life I felt a moment’s joy. Then I felt no more.

The End

I know, it needs some extensive editing. I’ll let it rest for a few weeks before I tackle it again. So what do you think?

New This Week 03/29/2021

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Click on cover image for more info or to order.

Eidolon Avenue – The Second Feast: Jonathan Winn

Synopsis: Eidolon Avenue: Where the secretly guilty go to die.

One building. Five floors. Five doors per floor. Twenty-five nightmares feeding the hunger lurking between the bricks and waiting beneath the boards.

The sequel to Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast (“a great read…powerful and jarring” – Cemetery Dance) returns to the voracious Eidolon as it savors The Second Feast.

A narcoleptic man in apartment 2A battles a vengeful past determined to rob him of everything as he runs from the barbaric disaster of a delusional love. A woman in 2B, reinventing herself to please a callous boyfriend, discovers the horrors that wait in the shadows of her self-renovation. The man in 2C, a teacher at the nearby Catholic girl’s school, collapses beneath the brutal consequences of his lecherous desires. An older woman in 2D, after decades dedicated to the church, is cornered at last by the grisly carnage beating at the hollow center of her faith. And a college student in 2E, hungry to escape an ignored life of invisible anonymity, finds herself captured between the pages of a ravenous book.

All thrown into their own private hell as every cruel choice, every drop of spilled blood, every silent, complicit moment of cowardice is remembered, resurrected and relived to feed the ancient evil that lives on Eidolon Avenue.

A New Death – Director’s Cut: Josh Vasquez

Synopsis: Jeremy Riggins seems to be going nowhere fast. Until the zombie apocalypse floods into Savannah, Georgia. Now, the 19-year-old grocery clerk finds himself fighting for his life against the undead horde.

As he journeys across the southern city, he’ll team up with other survivors, fight off the living dead, and go toe to toe with sociopaths created by the zombie madness.

The Fearing – The Definitive Edition: John FD Taff

Synopsis: What if all humanity’s fears were unleashed on the world…all at once?

A series of cataclysmic events are felt around the globe, and throughout the United States the last vestiges of society band together in rag-tag groups to face off against the ghastly horrors of their shattered world.

Opposing them is the enigmatic Adam Sigil—a man seemingly able to inflict others with his own darkest fears—and his equally mysterious companion Jelnik.

As the world slips into darkness, the survivors of the onslaught struggle with the new normal of their now-dystopian lives amidst ongoing skirmishes with mankind’s nightmares. With devastation and atrocities continuing to escalate, and hysteria threatening to rip their tenuous society apart, they find themselves on a collision course with this malevolent duo, headed toward a terrifying showdown that could ultimately signal the end of humanity.

Nana: Mark Towse

Synopsis: Meet Olly’s nana, Ivy. It takes more than clean dentures, brandy, and bingo night to keep this one happy!


Nana Ivy lives in Newhaven Crescent, where most of the other residents are past their expiry date and all kinds of batshit crazy, the kind of place where you hang your sanity up at the door.
Being the matriarchal type, Ivy cares for the other residents as though they were kin, so of course, it’s of enormous concern when their veins begin to blacken and they start shedding skin, not to mention the glistening things crawling out of their hair. They’re pushing their luck, and Nana Ivy knows it.
Did I mention she has a dark secret?
Young Olly doesn’t know what to make of it when he comes to visit, but he’s about to find out there’s more to his nana than cough drops and slippers. Oh yes, he’s in for a long night.

Fridays 5 03/26/2021

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This week I ask: What is the hardest part of writing?

I’m honored that Thomas F. Monteleone , and Eric A Shelman have agreed to participate. If you write horror, sci-fi, or fantasy, and would like to join in, follow this link Fridays 5. Click on the authors name or photo to be taken to their website or amazon author page.

David A Simpson

A: Finding the time and still having the energy to pour into it.

Bio: David A. Simpson is an Amazon bestselling author of the Zombie Road and Feral Children series. He loves to travel and has a long list of places to visit on his bucket list. He likes weird things and will drive a hundred miles out of his way to see a weird sculpture made from junkyard parts or a Bonnie and Clyde museum.

Graham Masterton

A: Continuously thinking about plot developments night and day. The world inside a writer’s head is just as real as the world outside it.

Bio: Graham Masterton has published more than thirty-five horror novels and three short story collections: his debut novel, The Manitou, was an instant bestseller. He is an Edgar Award and Bram Stoker Award-winner and a World Fantasy Award-nominee. Born in Edinburgh in 1946, he lives in Surrey in England where he is currently working on his next horror novel. 

Eric A Shelman

A: The hardest thing about being a writer is finding the right story. A story you’re not excited about will not inspire you to write.

Bio: Eric lives in southwest Florida with his wife, Linda. A fan of horror since he was young, he’s been writing since his teens. Growing up his room was filled with monster models, including The Wolfman, Dr. Phibes, Frankenstein’s Monster, and many others. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, was about a serial killer before he moved on to his true passion with The Witches of Laguna Beach. In 2009, after a 12 year hiatus, he wrote Dead Hunger. He currently has over 20 books to his credit, all but two of which are novels.

David Winset

A: The first draft when I have to start with nothing and create the initial story and characters. Once that is down, the second, third and so on drafts are much easier.

Bio: David A. Wimsett’s stories contain female and male characters who examine themselves and their place in the world. He is the author of the women’s fiction novel Beyond the Shallow Bank and The Carandir Saga, an epic fantasy series consisting of Dragons Unremembered and Half Awakened Dreams. The third volume, Covenant with the Dragons, will be released for Christmas of 2021.

 He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Freelance Guild and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia where he sits on the Writer’s Council. He lives in Nova Scotia, Canada near the sea.

Thomas F. Monteleone

A: Forcing yourself to do it every day… even on the days when you have other stuff you must do or don’t feel the urging of the muse.

Bio: Thomas F. Monteleone is an American science fiction author and horror fiction author. His first novel, Seeds of Change was the lead-off title in the critically unsuccessful Laser Books line of science fiction titles, but he went on to become a popular writer of supernatural thrillers.

Monteleone has been a professional writer since 1972, and 4-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. He has published more than 100 short stories in numerous magazines and anthologies. His stories have been nominated for many awards and have appeared in many best-of-the-year compilations.

Click on cover for more info or to order.

Cursed

“…a page turner that’s extremely hard to put down.”

“A great story that integrates true love and loss into a folk tale.”

“…creepy and exciting.”

“..cleverly plotted and well-paced.”

“…a story line that had me engaged from the start.”

“a cool, old fashioned ghost story.”

Weekly Writing Challenge 03/24/2021

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I know where I want this story to end, and I believe I have a plausible ending figured out, but we’ll see. I do know this will by its nature be a short one. I managed another 409 words and I estimate the story will come in at a little over 1200 words. So next week should be the last segment.

I’d spend my nights dreaming about what could have been. One day Simon’s wife showed up along with their son and my dreams drifted into more erotic territory as I imagined what I’d like to do to her. She was a short little blond with a heart shaped face, full red lips and a pert little nose turned up a little at the tip. She wore a tight-fitting dress that accentuated her curves and fueled my fantasies as I imagined what it might be like to unwrap that present.  

It was Simon’s birthday and she had come to surprise him. Some of us on the line caught a glimpse of her in the hallway that led to the break room. Several of the less couth offered up lewd suggestions of what they’d like to do to her. Going into more detail than was necessary and it made me just a bit uncomfortable. She deserved better than that. Hell, she deserved better than Simon. Were she my wife I’d never let her near this place. But Simon took the comments in stride, and I believe he was a little proud of the fact her presence had elicited such a response. It was sad really. The only way he could earn respect was by letting those on the line talk about he woman he was supposed to love.

There was no love there, and that would be my way in. Get Simon out of the way. It wouldn’t be too hard to stage an accident on the line. Wait till he was distracted and knock him into the rails that carried the work to us. The line didn’t stop for anything, and it wouldn’t stop for him. The more I thought about my plan the more it looked like it would work without a hitch. But it was these thoughts that proved to be my downfall. I became so focused on getting rid of Simon my work started to suffer. My dimes were not as nice as they once were, and I was leaving small gaps I my welds.

It wasn’t long before they pulled me from the line, and I had to endure my first ever quality interview as they tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I could have told them easy enough what was wrong, but they wouldn’t have listened. The inspectors have only one thing on their mind, getting the line moving as it should.

To be continued!

Have you read All Roads Lead to Terror?

Book 1 This Lawless Land

In a chaotic, post-apocalyptic world, an endless night is closing in, and only the strong will survive. In the midst of the turmoil, fourteen-year-old Meat, and his three closest friends, embark on a mission to rescue kidnapped children from the compound enslaving them.

Battling their way through treacherous terrain and immeasurable odds, the boys must learn to lean on each other if they hope to survive. Little do they know fate has far greater plans for them. For they represent the trinity, a symbol older than time itself, that keeps the darkness at bay.

They are three, bound by a fourth, destined to save mankind.

With time running out, and the cloak of eternal night descending, can the boys find a way to turn the tables on evil?

Or will they be the next to join the growing legion of the dead?

You can check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016MLXM32

New This Week 03/22/2021

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Click on the cover image for more info or to order.

The Night Stockers: Ryan Harding & Kristopher Triana (03/26/2021)

Synopsis: Attention shoppers!

The employees of the Freshway grocery store aren’t too happy about having to do an overnight shift, but they’re about to be even unhappier. Their rival store, Devil’s Food, is about to lay siege upon them with extreme prejudice. This is no ordinary grocery chain. Devil’s Food is run by a cult of murderous Satanists committed to killing the competition—literally.

Armed with hatchets, knives, maces and motorcycles, they enter the store and start picking off their victims in the most ghastly and depraved ways possible. The Freshway’s only chance of survival is to fight, and this leads to a bloody battle royal of crazed cashiers, knife-wielding demo ladies, brutal butchers, and teenage clerks determined to make their favorite death metal albums come true.

The Night Stockers is a gory horror comedy by Splatterpunk Award-Winning authors Kristopher Triana and Ryan Harding, the men who brought you Full Brutal and Genital Grinder. Filled with bone-crushing carnage and the heaviest metal, this one promises customer satisfaction.

Halloween Land: Kevin J. Kennedy

Synopsis: An action-packed, coming of age horror tale, full of twists, turns and unexpected adventures.

Zak and Wendy are a couple of horror buffs who love Halloween.
In their sleepy, run-down little town, an exciting attraction promises to inject some life into the place for one special night only. A travelling carnival, making its debut on Halloween.

Anticipation builds, and the mysterious ‘Halloween Land’ carnival is the talk of the town; the calliope music, bright lights, and sweet and savoury smells from the pop-up carnival lure in the crowds flocking to the pier. The two teenage friends Zak and Wendy are eager to be among the first.
Revelations unfold, mysteries peek from the outer limits. The kids have to think and act fast to defeat the evil that’s come to town and it’s nothing like in the movies!

This tale is full of mystery, fun, magic, tension and dread.

Step up for the ride, give your ticket to the clown, she’ll show you a good time; no one can say where you will end up, but it’ll be a wicked ride!

A Predisposition for Madness: Aurelio Lopez III

Synopsis: The indication of suffering with madness under peculiar situations; dire consequences and a baggage of other genre bending horror verse with a propensity of violence. This substantial collection depicts a deathly theme that arrays in no particular order and inks madness in all its forms. Aurelio’s lunacy is sometimes gruesome, haunting, or cadaverous—the tendency that something is likely to happen is heavy and leaves no burdens behind.

The cover images contain affiliate links that help offset the cost of maintaining this website. If you see something you like I’d appreciate it if you used the link provided for your purchase. I don’t earn much from each click but every little bet helps. Thanks.

Fridays 5 03/19/2021

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How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

Authors name and image links to authors website or amazon author page.

Graham Masterton

A: I was a newspaper reporter before my first book was published and so loads of articles and features had been published with my byline every week for years, so not particularly thrilled.

Bio: Graham Masterton has published more than thirty-five horror novels and three short story collections: his debut novel, The Manitou, was an instant bestseller. His more recent critically acclaimed novels include The Chosen Child, Trauma, Spirit, and Prey. He is an Edgar Award and Bram Stoker Award-winner and a World Fantasy Award-nominee. Born in Edinburgh in 1946, he lives with his wife Wiescka in a Gothic mansion in Cork, Ireland, where he is currently working on his next horror novel. 

https://www.grahammasterton.co.uk/

Pete Mesling

A: I’ll go back to my very first short story publication. It was actually my first time publishing a poem, too. Both appeared in the very last print issue of Black Petals Magazine. I was pleased to have my first publishing credit in a print publication, especially since I had submitted my work by snail mail. I felt like I got the classic writer’s experience out of the gate, and of course times were about to change drastically in the publishing world, so that was becoming an unlikely scenario by 2007.

Bio: Pete Mesling has published poetry and fiction widely, including two highly regarded horror collections, a book of poetry, and a novel of intrigue and suspense. Other publishing highlights include All-American Horror of the 21st Century, the First Decade: 2000 – 2010 (Independent Legions Publishing); Survive the Night: Three at Dusk, Two at Dawn (forthcoming from Dark Regions Press); Shallow Waters, Vol. 3 (Crystal Lake Publishing); and two of the Poetry Showcase anthologies put out by the Horror Writers Association. Mesling is the official Clive Barker proofreader for Gauntlet Press.

http://www.petemesling.com

Justin Boote

A: Coinciding with my answer to question no.1, I would say it made me feel that maybe I was capable of writing something that not only people enjoy reading but that publishers are prepared to pay for. That made a big difference as opposed to just hearing friends tell you they love your work. It was a confirmation of sorts.

Bio: Justin Boote is an Englishman living in Barcelona for over 25 years and has been writing horror stories for 5 years. In this time, he has had around 40 short stories published in a variety of anthologies and has published 4 short stories on Amazon plus 2 story collections and now dedicates his time to writing novel series. In the summer he hopes to release the first of his series on Amazon-The Ghosts of Northgate.

https://www.facebook.com/BooteJustin

Diane Johnson

A: I was nervous with my first publication. I’m sure everyone is. I’m not good at self promotion, and it was a self published book, so there’s a little bit of a stigma with that. Imposter syndrome is real! But I was also excited to get that first book out there, to have something finished and in my hands.

Bio: Diane graduated from Binghamton University with a B.A. in Film Theory. She first embarked on her storytelling journey as a screenwriter, and she apologizes. She has a husband. And kids. And if this writing thing takes off, maybe she’ll invest in a dog. A rescue, of course!

https://dj-screenwriter.blogspot.com/

Alice Sobo

A: Ecstatic! I think it was an essay for a local free magazine – small beans in the writing world – but it was a thrill. I snatched a ton of copies and mailed them to all my friends.

Bio: Alice Sabo is the author of character driven stories in post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy, and mystery series. Across genres, her characters deal with trying to make positive choices in difficult and often dangerous situations. Whether seeking lost cultures in an unforgiving galaxy or finding a murderer on the streets of LA, her books have strong world building, multi-layered characters, and a satisfying culmination.

https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Sabo/e/B006VG041W

Weekly Writing Challenge 03/17/2021

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Real life has intruded once again and I was unable to update the current story in progress. I believe it has a lot more to do with the fact I’m trying something new with this story, stretching my literary muscles if you will. I lack the confidence to continue, but continue I will. In its place I’m sharing a snippet from my current work in progress, my novel, Bitter Hollow. I’m shooting for a late summer release for this one. I’ll keep you posted. Here is a little taste of chapter 2.

A shadow washed across Harold’s face, contorting his features. The dog barking in the back yard came to me as if from a million miles away. The old man smiled and opened his mouth to speak, darkness escaping the prison behind his teeth as I fired again, aiming higher this time. Harold’s head whipped back, a bloody wound forming a third eye in the center of his forehead. Something old and terrifying crawled through my belly when Harold lowered his head to look at me with those flat, dead, eyes. A wicked smile bisecting the bottom of his face.

The old man fired a third time, the round embedding itself in the wood at my feet as I returned fire. Harold took another staggering step, driven by an unseen darkness that wrapped him in its embrace. The pistol, a well-worn .22 revolver, slipped from Harold’s hand and fell to the surface of the deck. He took another step, reaching for me with bloodied hands as blind panic overwhelmed reason.

“Why won’t you die?” I screamed as the old man crumpled to the deck.

The world shifted around me and I realized I’d fallen onto my ass, sitting with my back against the railing as Harold pulled himself towards me. His fingernails, dirty and cracked, dug into the wooden surface softened by past rains and the passage of time. Harold’s hands flexed, each finger digging into the wood. Several nails had broken as a result, peeling back from his fingertips, blood spotting the wood a soft pink.

I realized Harold was looking at me, his eyes filled with an impenetrable emptiness that reached out to envelope me in an endless despair.

I tried to warn him, Harold’s words whispered in my mind.

 Laura’s face swam into view, her features twisted into a grimace of pain and terror, and it filled me with a blind rage. From somewhere a dog barked hysterically and I searched for the source, only to find a vast emptiness that lay spread out all around me. I felt like I was lost,

The sound of a distant siren was punctuated by that frightened whiny bark. I looked back at the old man sprawled out before me. One hand outstretched, the fingers curled into a partially closed fist, and in it I spotted an object that glittered with a light all its own.

It held all the answers, and I wanted it. I leaned forward to retrieve the object as the siren filled the world around me. Running steps and voices came as a hand pulled me back until I was resting against the railing. I glanced into Sheriff Burris’s face, noting the worry in his eyes, then looked at the shimmering object as others gathered around the body.

It knew the answers to all my questions. Why Laura left. Why I’d been fired. Why Harold did what he’d done. Everything I needed to know lay hidden in that soft glow.

I tried to reach the object, only to be pushed back by a paramedic working on my wounded shoulder. Someone was shouting my name and I glanced at Sheriff Burris, then back to the glittering object in the old man’s hand. I had to have it.

Something poked me in the arm, and I was overwhelmed by a desire to lay down and take a nap. But I couldn’t. I had to have it. Michaels knelt next to Harold’s hand and retrieved the shiny object. No, that’s mine, I wanted to scream but found no voice as a mind-numbing cloud enveloped me. I’ve earned it, it’s mine, the thoughts whispered as the world dimmed.

New This Week 03/15/2021

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Click on the cover image to order.

Howls From Hell (Assorted Authors)Available 05/18/2021

Synopsis: Spacefaring researchers disturb an ancient horror. An enchanted object curses a grieving widow. A haunted reel torments a film student. A murder trial hinges on a chilling testimony.

In Howls From Hell, sixteen emerging horror writers pave the way for the future of the genre. Fans of dark and macabre fiction will savor this exhibition of all-original tales born from one of the fastest-growing horror communities in the world: HOWL Society.

With a foreword by GRADY HENDRIX, this anthology unveils the horror writers of tomorrow with spine-tingling stories from:

P.L. McMillan, J.W. Donley, Shane Hawk, Christopher O’Halloran, Alex Wolfgang, Amanda Nevada DeMel, Lindsey Ragsdale, Solomon Forse, Justin Faull, M. David Clarkson, B.O.B. Jenkin, S.E. Denton, Thea Maeve, Joseph Andre Thomas, Joe Radkins, and Quinn Fern

The Devil’s Mistress: David Barclay Available 03/16/2021

Synopsis: Virginia, 1705

Darkness has come to the town of Blackfriar. The beloved millwright, John Ashford, has been poisoned. His daughter, Isabella, stands trial for murder. Rumor has it that she consorted with the Devil to do the deed. That she’s become a witch.

The worst thing, however, is what the townsfolk don’t know: Isabella is innocent.

After visiting the local enchantress for a simple love spell, her life is beset by catastrophe. Her father turns up dead. Her sadistic fiancé spurns her. Now in shackles, Isabella faces torture and death. Her only friend, the enchantress. The old crone offers Isabella a new choice: continue to suffer at the hands of her tormentors, or become the very thing they fear.

Agoraphobia: A Short Story: Rami Ungar Available 03/16/2021

Synopsis: Peyton fears the outside world. It has brought him nothing but pain and misery. He even bought and renovated an entire house to get away. However, when a hurricane threatens his home, he must contemplate leaving for the first time in years. Especially when the hurricane throws something living into his sanctuary. Something with teeth and claws.

Fridays 5 03/12/2021

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In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

Click on authors name or image to be taken to their website or amazon author page.

Pete Mesling

A: Music, especially writing acoustic guitar music. It’s been one of the sacrifices I’ve had to make in order to bring fiction writing front and center, but I hope to be able to return to making music in a more serious way again. Music is really the other side of the coin for me, on par with fiction. And I’m talking about reading/listening as much as writing/composing.

Bio: Pete Mesling has published poetry and fiction widely, including two highly regarded horror collections, a book of poetry, and a novel of intrigue and suspense. Other publishing highlights include All-American Horror of the 21st Century, the First Decade: 2000 – 2010 (Independent Legions Publishing); Survive the Night: Three at Dusk, Two at Dawn (forthcoming from Dark Regions Press); Shallow Waters, Vol. 3 (Crystal Lake Publishing); and two of the Poetry Showcase anthologies put out by the Horror Writers Association. Mesling is the official Clive Barker proofreader for Gauntlet Press. Learn more at http://www.petemesling.com.

Diane Johnson

A: I have a passion for movies. As I said, my writing focus began with screenplays. I’m a big fan of the TV series Supernatural, no longer in production. I even wrote a few spec scripts that did well in competition—the Austin Film Festival, for one. But the underlying theme of that horror series was about family. I have two boys, and I wish the best for them everywhere and always.

Bio: Diane graduated from Binghamton University with a B.A. in Film Theory. She first embarked on her storytelling journey as a screenwriter, and she apologizes. She has a husband. And kids. And if this writing thing takes off, maybe she’ll invest in a dog. A rescue, of course!

David A Simpson

A: Cars. I have entirely too many and I want entirely too many more. I do a bit of racing and have held a couple of world records. I seem meet up with car community guys a lot more often than I do the writing community folks.

Bio: David A. Simpson is an Amazon bestselling author of the Zombie Road and Feral Children series. He loves to travel and has a long list of places to visit on his bucket list. He likes weird things and will drive a hundred miles out of his way to see a weird sculpture made from junkyard parts or a Bonnie and Clyde museum.

David Wimset

A: I am a composer, an actor, a film maker, a photographer and a journalist.

Bio: David A. Wimsett’s stories contain female and male characters who examine themselves and their place in the world. He is the author of the women’s fiction novel Beyond the Shallow Bank and The Carandir Saga, an epic fantasy series consisting of Dragons Unremembered and Half Awakened Dreams. The third volume, Covenant with the Dragons, will be released for Christmas of 2021.

 He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Freelance Guild and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia where he sits on the Writer’s Council. He lives in Nova Scotia, Canada near the sea.

S. J. Krandall

A: In addition to writing I am most passionate about my family. Family life is important to me and I enjoy spending time with my sons sharing their interests as well. I have also worked for many years with children so I advocate for students in need when given the chance.  Photography and art is another passion of mine and I will often be found working on various projects.  I have many passions and enjoy life to its fullest. 

Bio: S. J. Krandall is a horror author whose recent work was published in summer of 2020.  She was born in Florida but raised in New Jersey where she still resides with my husband, their two sons and two dogs. For more than twenty years she has worked with children with varying abilities as both a teacher and an aide. Now, a stay a home mom, she cares for her family and takes time to enjoy other interests. Her work in progress includes her second book to her series and a variety of short stories. 

Weekly Writing Challenge 03/10/2021

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This week I’ve rolled the dice and I’m starting a new story. No title yet but the roll is as follows.

Character roll: Clock face, time? Maze? Machinery. Is my MC a factory worker? An assembly line drone? Factory worker on the graveyard shift. Infestation? Reminiscent of night shift. Don’t want to go in that direction. Gonna try something different. Main Character is a disgruntled worker pissed at being passed over for a promotion.

Story roll:

Beginning: Question mark / theater faces, happy, sad / Insect, bug

Middle: Moon / Eye / Sleeping figure

End: Fire / Embarrassed expression / Scales

You’re welcome to use the roll to create our own story. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Managed 514 words, I’ve an idea of where this is headed, but I’m not sure if I can pull it off. We’ll see.

It was the story of my life, a day late and a dollar short. Take my job for instance, I’m a welder on an assembly line. I’m the fastest they’ve got and can lay a line of dimes that would make any welder worth his salt jealous. Every weld, every time is as near perfect as possible. Yet when they needed someone to oversee the line, who do they get? Not me. That’s for sure. No, they gave the job to that pencil neck Simon. All he does is wander the line with his hands in his pocket, making sure we do our jobs right. The bastard doesn’t even know how to weld. I’ve never seen him weld anything and I’ve been here since the beginning. Why don’t they give the job to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, instead of a college kid whose only smarts come from between the covers of a book.

In a way you could say I shot myself in the foot. After all those who can do, and those who can’t, oversee the rest of us. I understand why they wouldn’t want to pull me from the line. I mean since I’d been here over ninety percent of my work has come down the line like it’s supposed to. In the beginning it wasn’t like that, we call gotta start somewhere, but I proved to be a fast learner and picked up the knack for welding pretty quick. But now I’ve got this wannabe watching over my shoulder and it more than a little irritating. The thought has crossed my mind to screw up a few times, just to see their reaction, but it’s not in my nature to do that. I guess the best thing I can do is let this all blow over, but still, it irks me no end.

I can’t believe this asshole. He came to me today to tell me, in front of everyone else, that I needed to adjust my welds. They were a tad bit off, he said. Little pencil neck prick couldn’t tell an undercut from an underfill and he’s gonna tell me I need to adjust my welds. I had half a mind to walk right into the CEO’s office and tell the whole board to kiss my rosy, red ass. But I didn’t, I took it like a man, and turned back to the line to adjust my weld as he said. But I will tell you this. If I see the prick outside of work, I’m not gonna be so kind.

One day led to the next and I kept my head down, focused on the work at hand. Simon wandered the line every day, a constant reminder of my failings, and my thoughts, I’m ashamed to say, drifted into more frightening territory. The line’s a dangerous place to work. You’ve got heavy equipment moving about, the line itself moves of its own accord and there have been several instances in the past when hapless workers became distracted long enough for the line to get them. It was never a pretty sight, but I couldn’t help smiling at the thought of Simon falling victim to the line.

To be continued.

New This Week 03/08/2021

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Click on the cover image for more info or to order.

His Own Devices: Douglas Wynne

Synopsis: In 2016 an occult cabal activates a psychic trigger in a popular video game and a countdown to chaos begins.


While her husband is deployed in Afghanistan, Jessica Ritter finds herself navigating the pitfalls of parenting on her own. That includes moderating her ten-year-old son’s screen time—an obsession that hits a fever pitch when YouTube sensation Rainbow Dave releases an addictive new iPad game. Gavin knows he isn’t supposed to keep secrets from his parents, but when his achievements in the game unlock personal messages from Dave instructing him to embark on real world mini-quests, he can’t resist.

In the aftermath of an ambush that leaves her husband missing in action, Jessica grapples with fear and sorrow while clues to a threat closer to home evade her detection. Rainbow Dave, the charismatic host of Scream Time, is America’s cool big brother—a gamer who built a video empire on the strength of his personality. He is also the focus of a shadowy conspiracy hell-bent on sowing chaos with vast technological resources. Dave’s anonymous benefactors have granted him a glimpse of paradise between the pixels, and the real world hasn’t looked the same since. Now, wired with a head full of unholy revelations and a crate full of dangerous devices, he’s on a mission to help his fans “level up” at a live event. Scream Time is coming to town, and it may be too late to stop a deadly game.

The Feverish Stars: John Shirley (Collection)

Synopsis: New and uncollected stories by Bram Stoker Award Winner John Shirley. From the Introduction by Richard Christian Matheson: “In the brooding precincts of dark fiction, Byronic gangster John Shirley’s writing is distinguished by swans and knives of style; divine menace. Twenty of his finest stories are gathered in this volume of poetic distress calls and whether horror, artful heresy, or a cosmos seeping bleak karma, Shirley’s visions autopsy and awaken. Amid such torrents, the many addicted to his brilliance savor Shirley’s work as sodium-pentothal and grace, ground zero of the real deal.” Cover art by Luke Spooner.

Always Beside You: Damir Salkovic

Synopsis: Help her open the door. It wants to come through…

First, the dream. Now this message from the mouth of a stranger. It was too much of a coincidence for Nate Carver, and has him dropping everything to help a woman he hasn’t even thought about in eight years, not since the overdose that almost took Cathy Deveraux’s life.

The prison escape of Thomas Elbert stirs up memories for Detective Alec Palmer, and the man’s death raises questions. Why would a catatonic convicted killer suddenly wake up and escape, only to commit suicide days later? Or was it murder? And what connection did he have to Nate Carver, a man on the run with a daughter he never knew he had?

All roads lead to Boston, where, in their search for answers, they will be drawn into the dark world of the occult and mysticism. Of parallel worlds and alternate realities. Of doors that open onto other times and other worlds. Of dreams that won’t be denied.

By the time they realize they are merely pawns in a much bigger game, a game where the fate of the world is at stake, will it be too late?

Fridays 5 03/05/2021

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If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

Click on the authors name to be taken to their website or amazon author page.

Alice Sobo

A: That’s a tough one. It would probably be the author of the last book I was reading, and my question would be – “And then what happened?”

Bio: Alice Sabo is the author of character driven stories in post-apocalyptic, space opera, fantasy and mystery series. Across genres, her characters deal with trying to make positive choices in difficult and often dangerous situations. Whether seeking lost cultures in an unforgiving galaxy or finding a murderer on the streets of LA, her books have strong world building, multi-layered characters and a satisfying culmination.

Dave Wimset

A: I would ask J.R.R. Tolkien about how he created the many elements of his world.

Bio: David A. Wimsett’s stories contain female and male characters who examine themselves and their place in the world. He is the author of the women’s fiction novel Beyond the Shallow Bank and The Carandir Saga, an epic fantasy series consisting of Dragons Unremembered and Half Awakened Dreams. The third volume, Covenant with the Dragons, will be released for Christmas of 2021.

 He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Freelance Guild and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia where he sits on the Writer’s Council. He lives in Nova Scotia, Canada near the sea.

A. M. Harte

A: To Neil Gaiman: Would you give me your brain?

Bio: A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.

Justin Boote

A: The one thing I’ve always wanted to ask Stephen King for example is how they would go about things today with how big and easy self-publishing has become. Still continue submitting to publishers or go the self-publishing route?

Bio: Justin Boote is an Englishman living in Barcelona for over 25 years and has been writing horror stories for 5 years. In this time, he has had around 40 short stories published in a variety of anthologies and has published 4 short stories on Amazon plus 2 story collections and now dedicates his time to writing novel series. In the summer he hopes to release the first of his series on Amazon-The Ghosts of Northgate.

Pete Mesling

A: This is the kind of question that makes me slap my forehead. I’ve probably come up with a couple dozen beautiful hypotheticals in this vein over the years. Can I think of a single one right now? No. But I can say who I’d most like to meet: Charles Dickens. All the Victorians would be amazing company, I’d imagine, though they wouldn’t know what the hell to make of me. Poe would also be great fun. Maybe I’d ask Poe if he’d like to collaborate on a story.

Bio: Pete Mesling has published poetry and fiction widely, including two highly regarded horror collections, a book of poetry, and a novel of intrigue and suspense. Other publishing highlights include All-American Horror of the 21st Century, the First Decade: 2000 – 2010 (Independent Legions Publishing); Survive the Night: Three at Dusk, Two at Dawn (forthcoming from Dark Regions Press); Shallow Waters, Vol. 3 (Crystal Lake Publishing); and two of the Poetry Showcase anthologies put out by the Horror Writers Association. Mesling is the official Clive Barker proofreader for Gauntlet Press. Learn more at http://www.petemesling.com.

Weekly Writing Challenge 03/03/2021

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I suspected I knew where the story was headed when I first started. In that lonely elevator, but at the time I did not have a firm handle on my character. Now I do. When I do the rewrite, I’ll cast Nick as the overly possessive, extremely jealous type who happens to be rich. An untouchable character who believes the legal system is powerless against him. Who discovers in the end that some legal systems exist beyond the mortal plane.

Next week we’ll start a new story. I’ll share the roll of the dice at that time. Anyone who wants to participate is welcome, I’d be delighted to see what you come up with. Without further adieu I give you, the conclusion of,

Third Times a Charm

After being cuffed and stuffed into the back seat of a patrol car Nick was taken downtown and left alone in one of the interrogation rooms. He called his lawyer from the patrol room and was waiting for his arrival. No one had told him what was going on and his thoughts were a whirlwind of questions spinning endlessly around one another.

The wall opposite from where he sat was a mirror that he knew from past experience hid several detectives who could watch his every move while they remained undetected. Inside he was seething at the injustice he felt at what was going on yet outwardly he remained silent, his hand folded before him, his unwavering gaze fixed on the mirror. He knew it wasn’t doing him much good to act as he was, but what else was there for him to do?

Detective Martin stepped through the door, closing it behind him before he crossed to the only other seat directly across from Nick.

“Would you mind telling me why I’m here?”

Detective Martin settled into his seat without a word, opened a manila folder, and slid several photos across the table to him.

Nick was shocked by what the photos contained. Denise lay face down on the kitchen floor, a pool of blood around her body, the handle of his butcher’s knife protruding from the center of her back.

“I didn’t do that,” Nick said.

Detective Martin slammed the table with his open hand. “Bullshit. Your fingerprints are on handle of the knife. You were seen rushing from the apartment shortly before she was found by your neighbor. I have numerous witnesses who place you at the scene of the crime when it occurred.”

“But it wasn’t me.”

“Then who was it?”

Nick almost said his dead wife’s name but stopped at the last moment. “I don’t know,” he answered instead.

Detective Martin scowled at the knock at the door. “Come in.”

“His lawyer’s here.” Someone at the door said as Nick’s lawyer stepped into the room.

“Don’t say another word Mr. Morton, we’ll take care of this. Were you questioning my client without me being present?” Nick’s lawyer turned on Detective Martin.

“We were just chatting, passing the time until you arrived.”

“I see,” Nick’s lawyer glanced at the photos on the table, “I do hope you read him his rights.”

“Crossing my t’s and dotting my I’s is all part of the job.”

“Come along, Mr. Morton, let’s get you out of here.”

“Now wait one minute, your client is the prime suspect in a woman’s murder.”

“And I’ve already spoken to Judge Timmons who had released Mr. Morton to my custody, now if there’s nothing else?” Nick’s Lawyer motioned to the handcuffs holding Nick.

Detective Martin shook his head as he released the handcuffs binding Nick to the table. “Don’t leave town.”

“Or course not detective, now if you’ll excuse us,” Nick’s lawyer led him from the room.

His lawyer had agreed to wait in his car while Nick ran up to retrieve a few things. The officer on duty had been informed of his arrival and was waiting for him. In the elevator car Nick watched the screen indicating the floor when he realized it had gotten so cold he could see his breath. He was rubbing his hands together when he became aware of a presence behind him. A chilled hand rested on his shoulder as an icy breath enveloped his ear.

“Third times a charm,” Mona whispered behind him as a cold blade slid between his third and forth rib and his earthly worries came to an end.

New This Week: 03/01/2021

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The Sins of the Past: Eric Butler

Synopsis: Once an ancient race of supreme beings ruled over the earth. Banished by the light centuries ago, one has returned. With the help of its disciples, it desires to plunge the world into a new age of darkness and horror.

Ephraim Godwin is searching for the truth about his family’s disappearance. After conventional ways failed, he turned to the world of spiritualism, only to discover it filled with charlatans and tricksters. As a known skeptic, Ephraim fights to shine a light on those who prey upon others as he searches for the truth.

As Ephraim attends another séance, he discovers not everyone is a fraud and is drawn deeper into the world of the supernatural. With the help of noted spiritualist Zona Whitlock and famed explorer Doctor Livingstone, he hopes to stop this evil from consuming the world.

It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Dies: Anthology

Synopsis: We all know the games. The ones we played as kids. The ones we all have fond memories of, crowded around a kitchen table with family, piled in the floor with friends around the tv, or standing in front of the flashing lights of an arcade game. The games that when we look back at our childhood, we have at least one memory of. But what if, those games turned sinister? What if they were real and out for revenge? In this story collection, the games are taking over and they’re out for blood.

The Occupation: W. J. Lundy

Synopsis: A world turned sideways by pandemics, war and debt. Nations make the extraordinary move from individual rule to corporate outsourcing. The change came quick, and not without controversy. Some complied, some just wanted to be left alone. 

When noncompliance becomes criminal one man finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

John Warren has sacrificed in his life but is now resigned to a quiet existence in a secluded home in Northern Michigan. All of that changes when he is falsely accused, with everything taken from him. Now John Warren will fight to prove his innocence and to save the Country he loves.

He can never go home, but he can still ensure his life amounts to something.

A Baptism for the Dead:  Charles Bernard

Synopsis: In the 19th Century American frontier, powerful forces gather to counterpoint the golden trumpet song of destiny.

Pursued into a landscape of death and madness, what can salvation mean?

Leonidas Pyburn and his heirs seek wealth and power in the west but are diverted by a strange and sinister encounter.

As journeys intertwine, fortune, fate, and fell circumstance combine to produce a rarefied tincture, rich with an identity belonging only to the Mountain West.

Fridays 5 02/26/2021

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When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Click on the authors name or image to be taken to their amazon page.

Pete Mesling

A: Garrison Keillor once remarked that an artist is someone who gets up in the morning and does art. By that definition I remain something of a failure. I get up most days and go to work like a schmuck. The writing I do when I can, and that means lunch breaks evenings, and weekends, folks. But publishing has done a lot to make me feel like a proper writer, especially having some books out there with only my name on them. Writing every day is important for me, too. I’m not masochistic about word counts, and I’m happy to let blog posts qualify on a slow day but having my head in the game more or less daily keeps me going—and feeling like a writer.

Bio: Pete Mesling has published poetry and fiction widely, including two highly regarded horror collections, a book of poetry, and a novel of intrigue and suspense. Other publishing highlights include All-American Horror of the 21st Century, the First Decade: 2000 – 2010 (Independent Legions Publishing); Survive the Night: Three at Dusk, Two at Dawn (forthcoming from Dark Regions Press); Shallow Waters, Vol. 3 (Crystal Lake Publishing); and two of the Poetry Showcase anthologies put out by the Horror Writers Association. Mesling is the official Clive Barker proofreader for Gauntlet Press. Learn more at http://www.petemesling.com

A. M. Harte

A.)  I’ve been writing for far longer than I can remember, but I honestly never seriously thought of myself as a writer until recently.

 I started out as a voracious reader. I lived books, breathed books. Writing was something I did on the side, for myself, a clumsy attempt to emulate the books that gave me so much pleasure. A way to get those characters rattling around in my head out onto a page, to live out my dreams.

 Throughout my late teenage years, things changed. From emailing chapters to my sister, I progressed to posting work online. I gained readers — readers who came back every week for more. Their encouragement and support made something click in my head. It confirmed to me that I wanted to be a writer, wanted to keep writing and sharing stories.

 That’s when I started thinking of myself as a writer.

 See, despite the romantic ideal of the lonely author locked up in a cave somewhere, inscribing words on a stone tablet fueled only by alcohol and caffeine, I ultimately believe that writing is for readers. If you don’t want someone to read that story one day, why write it down? I think that’s why I only recently began to think of myself as a writer, because previously I wasn’t really writing to share.

Are you a writer if you don’t have readers? If a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound?

Bio: A.M. Harte is a speculative fiction enthusiast and chocolate addict. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and enjoys procrastinating.

An avid reader, she’s been writing fiction far longer than anybody’s been paying attention. Her work includes the dark fantasy novel “Above Ground” and the zombie love collection “Hungry For You”. Some wonderful places that have featured her short stories are: Best of Friday Flash Volume 2, Flashes In The Dark, 12 Days 2010, The Random Eye & the charity anthology Tales for Canterbury. 

WEBSITE http://amharte.com

Wednesday Lee Friday

A: From age 5-11, then not again until my 30’s. There was this whole, wide swath of time when I didn’t think I could ever “really” be a writer. I thought I needed someone else to tell me I was a writer, instead of just getting the hell out there and writing. Glad I finally figured it out—but wish I’d started 20 years earlier.

Bio: Wednesday lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and two crafty cats. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, and also enjoys Shostakovich, Dexter, loom knitting, The Simpsons, crafty things, quality horror of all kinds, and kettle cooked potato chips. She covers TV and movies for 411Mania, sexy stuff at Kinkly.com, and has done a ton of ghostwriting…though not about ghosts.

David A Simpson

A: Hard to say. Even though I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid and I went full-time for about a year until Covid hit, I’m still not sure if I consider myself a “writer”.  So far all of my releases have been self-published. I have a New York literary agent and a Hollywood film agent, and I’ve sold 100,000 copies but I still don’t consider myself a writer. Is that the imposter syndrome, I’m pretending to be one although I know I’m really not?

Bio: David A. Simpson is an Amazon bestselling author of the Zombie Road and Feral Children series. He loves to travel and has a long list of places to visit on his bucket list. He likes weird things and will drive a hundred miles out of his way to see a weird sculpture made from junkyard parts or a Bonnie and Clyde museum.

S. J. Krandall

A: I first considered myself a writer as soon as I began to filling pages with stories. I believe that if you are enjoying it and you write often then you are a writer no matter what you produce. Whether it be poetry, blogs, short stories, graphic novels, or anything else you are writing… have fun with it! 

Bio: S. J. Krandall is a horror author whose recent work was published in summer of 2020.  She was born in Florida but raised in New Jersey where she still resides with my husband, their two sons and two dogs. For more than twenty years she has worked with children with varying abilities as both a teacher and an aide. Now, a stay a home mom, she cares for her family and takes time to enjoy other interests. Her work in progress includes her second book to her series and a variety of short stories. 

Webpage: sjkrandallbooks.com

Weekly Writing Challenge 02/24/2021

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Managed another 620 words even though I was tired after a day shift at the hardware store where I work. But it’s what you gotta do when you’re a writer. You have to develop the habit of consistency, and the only way to do that is to write every day whether you want to or not. I’m far from perfect when it comes to that, and I’ve let distractions take me from my work, watching TV or playing games when I should be writing. It is what it is though, and for me the writing itself is the best reward. To see the story come together in the readers mind and know I’ve touched their life no matter how brief is what drives me.

I’m anxious to get to the end of this one so I can start the rewrite, and add the emotional elements to the skeletal structure of the story. So without further adieu I give you the next installment of

Third Times a Charm

“I’m fine, I’ll be right back.” He wasn’t sure what was going on, how could Mona be here? He killed her. He saw her die with his own eyes. Was someone playing games with him. Was it her brother?  Her Sister? They had never liked him, believing Mona was too good for the likes of him. That’s what it was, wasn’t it? Her siblings were playing mind games with him. He’d show them. He waited for the elevator, watching the light above the door as it counted down to his floor. The doors opened with a ding and he stabbed the button for the lobby with his thumb. He’d show them.

Reaching the lobby he raced out the front doors and stopped. The flow of pedestrians had dwindled to a trickle and he stood on the sidewalk, looking first one way, then the other. A siren wailed, its warbling voice getting closer with every passing moment and he ignored it. Focused on trying to find the person or person responsible for this little game. From his right came a familiar sigh and he swiveled his head in that direction, catching sight of Mona as she slipped into the alley.

He followed, one hand on the butt of his pistol as he raced down the garbage strewn street. A couple of vagrants were arguing over the contents of a garbage pail. He paid no attention to them as he walked by, his gaze scanning every possible hiding place for his target. He imagined they were watching him while he searched. Probably laughing at his futile attempt to find them. Reaching the end of the alley he was forced to admit defeat and turned back to return to his apartment.

Coming around the front of the building he saw a police cruiser and an ambulance parked at the curb with their emergency lights flashing, a small crowd gathered around them. It was a common enough sight for this area so he didn’t pay much attention to what was happening as he entered the building. When the elevator doors slid open he knew he was in trouble. The hallway was filled with the other resident that lived on his floor, all eyes fixed on the police officer at Nicks door, whispered questions followed him to his apartment.

The policeman held up his hand as he approached. “You can’t come in here, sir.”

“It’s my apartment, what’s going on?”

The police turned to Nick’s open door. “Detective, the occupant of the apartment is here.”

“On my way,” a young Latino dressed in a suit said. Nick recognized him as the detective that originally questioned him when he shot Mona, but he couldn’t recall the detective’s name.

“Nick Falon,” the detective said, extending his hand, “strange we should cross paths like this again.”

“How’s that, Detective, I’m sorry I seem to have forgotten your name.”

“It’s detective Martin, do you know a Miss Denise VanMeter?”

“She’s my neighbor from across the hall, why? Is she okay, Denise? Is everything all right?” He tried to see what was happening in his apartment but there were two other people standing at the doorway to the kitchen, blocking his view. What is happening?”

“That’s what I was going to ask you. Did you invite Miss VanMeter to your apartment?”

“Of course I did we were going to have dinner, I had to run an errand.”

“I’m going to need you to come down to the station.”

“I can’t, not until you tell me what’s going on.”

“We’ll talk about it down at the station.”

“I’m not going, not until you tell me what’s happening.”

“You don’t have a choice,” Detective Martin said, nodding at the patrolman behind Nick.

To be continued!

I know it’s too early to say, but what do you think?

New in Horror 02/22/2021

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Hallucinations (Trigger Warning) Anthology

It is important to remember that we are ruled by our minds. Our reality is our perception. How can we move forward when that becomes untrustworthy, how do we move forward when we become aware that our perception is different than that of everyone around us?

Our very sanity comes into question; we can’t shake the notion that we might be mad. Or worse, what if we aren’t insane. What if everything we see exists?

Included in this anthology are 13 stories of shifted perceptions by up and coming horror authors. You’ll find the stories inside bizarre, bloody, and upsetting. But before you open this collection and enjoy the stories inside, remember…

You were warned.

Bow-Legged Buccaneers from Outer Space: David Owain Hughes

The year is 2082—the not-so-distant future—and Chinatown is a prison. One hundred years ago, between 1980 and 1990, hardcore arcade gamers, cinemagoers, TV freaks and comic book nerds took over the large oriental area and turned it into a no-go zone. The streets became violent, corrupt and the powers that be lost control. A large wall and river were constructed around the city; the waters were filled with sharks and patrolled by the government’s secret police, who had more artillery than Rambo.
Paul ‘Frank Castle’ Hoskins is one of the good guys, doing his best to keep the streets clean and the innocent people safe. When Chinatown comes under attack from space pirates, will Frank have finally met his match? Will he be able to protect the woman he loves and save his beloved home? Bullets will fly, blood will be spilt, and vengeance will be sought.
Includes the bonus short stories Sticky Buttons and The Last Freakshow on Earth!

Cult Cinema: Howard David Ingham Non-fiction

Religious extremism is one of our most acute current anxieties, but it has been with us for centuries. And from the birth of Christianity right through to the post-Trump era, it has always been tied to personalities and the cults they inspire. And the stories we tell about them reflect that. Cult Cinema uses cinematic and televisual depictions of isolated sects, self-help pyramid schemes, pagan village conspiracies, evangelical grifters and more to shine a lens upon what happens when belief goes bad. Drawing from sources ranging from situation comedy to exploitation horror and beyond, this book examines why people join abusive religious groups, what we really mean by “brainwashing”, and what it means to escape. Howard David Ingham has been writing about media, horror, the occult and the storytelling of religious belief for two decades. Their last book, We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror, was nominated for a 2018 Bram Stoker Award (Superior Achievement in Nonfiction). “A personal and cinematic journey through the strange and terrifying world of cults, this is a deeply honest and empathetic look at how people fall into – and escape from – damaging group dynamics. Cult Cinema is a breathtaking achievement…” Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens

Imperfect Lodgings: Pete Mesling Poetry

“The most important thing about dreams is the existence in them of magical emotions, to which waking Consciousness is not ordinarily sentient. Awe of vast constructions; familiar eternal halls of buildings; sexual intensity in rapport; deathly music; grief awakenings, perfected lodgings.”
—ALLEN GINSBERG, JOURNALS: EARLY FIFTIES, EARLY SIXTIES

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may become as he is.
—WILLIAM BLAKE, THERE IS NO NATURAL RELIGION

Fridays 5 02/19/2021

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What is the hardest part of writing?

Clicking on the authors name will take you to their site.

Rick Hautala

A: Ideas are easy for me. And writing is a struggle, but a fun one. Revision is always fun. And editing is tedious but necessary. But the absolute hardest part of writing for me is developing the ideas once I get them. That’s where you have to fill in the blanks and piece the story together to get an outline or, at least, a clear idea of where you’re going. That is the worst and hardest. After that, it’s easier … but never easy.

Bio: Rick arrived on the horror scene in 1980 with many of his early novels published by Zebra books. He wrote and published over 90 novels and short stories from the early 1980s on. In 2011 the Horror Writers Association awarded Rick and Joe R. Lansdale the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Sadly, on March 21 of 2013 we lost Rick to a heart attack. For me personally he was a writer who was always willing to help those of us starting out, and though I never met him personally I counted him among my friends.

Jo-Anne Russell

A: The hardest part of writing for me is getting started. Social networks are my drug of choice, and make for many a day wasted – to a point. Other than that, knowing when to stop going over a piece is hard for me.

Bio: Jo-Anne Russell is a horror writer, and publisher, living in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Her stories have appeared in anthologies by Brazen Snake Books, Static Movement, Wicked East Press, and Hidden Thoughts Press, just to name a few.
Her taste for the macabre has provided her imagination with a feast that fuels her writing and creativity. If you like horror, the bizarre, or you just don’t like to sleep at night, give her books and short stories a try.
Her debut novel The Nightmare Project is the first in the shocking trilogy called Dangerous Minds, and is now available.

William F Nolan

A: Sitting down in front of a sheet of blank paper (or a blank screen nowadays) and filling it with good words is the hardest part.

Bio: With 85 books to his credit, plus hundreds of scripts, articles and short stories embracing a dozen genres, William F. Nolan is an official Living Legend (voted that honor by the International Horror Guild).
As a noted pulp historian, he is a recognized authority on Black Mask, Dashiell Hammett, and “Max Brand” (Frederick Faust). Nolan has edited six collections of Faust tales, has written Max Brand: Western Giant, and is the author of the forthcoming biography King of the Pulps: The Man Who Was Max Brand.

Wednesday Lee Friday

A: The obvious answer is finding the time to write. For me, it was also believing the work is finished enough to let it be seen by other people. And of course, finding people who actually want to read what you’ve written. Turns out, writing a novel is the fun, easy part.

Bio: Wednesday lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and two crafty cats. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, and also enjoys Shostakovich, Dexter, loom knitting, The Simpsons, crafty things, quality horror of all kinds, and kettle cooked potato chips. She covers TV and movies for 411Mania, sexy stuff at Kinkly.com, and has done a ton of ghostwriting…though not about ghosts.

A.M Harte

A: Finishing!

You start off in that wonderful honeymoon phase, where your idea is wonderful and amazing and smells like roses. Then halfway through you hit that slump. It hasn’t met your expectations, it’s horrible, you’re wasting your life with this writing malarkey. You can’t possibly inflict this crap on anyone. This is when a lot of people give up. But you need to persevere, dig in your heels. If you don’t finish the book, it’ll haunt you.

You muddle your way through to the end of the book, and finally realize that it’s not so bad after all. Sure, not as amazing as you’d originally thought, but passable. Phew…. Except you’re not done yet. Then comes the dreaded revision. Edits. Rewriting. The story loses all meaning and becomes a string of words.

Finally, finally, you hand the book over to your readers. Then you start the next book, and go through the entire cycle again.

Bio: A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.

Weekly Writing Challenge 02/17/2021

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This week I’ve managed 750 words and the end is in sight. I know exactly where this story is headed now and I’m looking forward to the big reveal. I hope you’ve been enjoying my posts, and I’m always looking forward to your thoughts on my work. It’s taken me years to come to the conclusion of why I write. Before I would always answer that question with, ‘because I must.’ Now I realize I write to entertain. I only hope I’m achieving that goal. Without further adieu, I give you the next installment of Third Times a Charm.

Third Times a Charm

Where could he even begin? Hell, he wasn’t sure where to start, maybe at the beginning. “I grew up in a small place called Borden right outside the town of Frostburg in western Maryland. Me and my friends would sled ride in the winter and play in the woods during the summer. Went to Mountain Ridge high school and served four years with the Marines, joining right after I graduated.”

“That’s a start I suppose, it is nice to know you care enough to not brush me off. So, are we eating at your place tonight?”

What could it hurt? Didn’t Dr. Morrison say Mona’s presence was nothing more than the guilt he felt at taking her life? If that were true, and everything he’d experienced since her death was a result of his own feelings of guilt, why not bring an outside influence into his life.

“Like I said, it’s cramped, but if you’re willing to overlook that you’re more than welcome to come over.”

“Would seven be good?”

“Works for me,” Nick said, following her into the crowded elevator. They silently rode to the first floor, Denise’s arm wrapped snugly around his own. There they parted to go their separate ways. Nick felt a spring in his step as he crossed the lobby and stepped out into a spring day. It was beginning to look like all the despair that had been his life was finally passing, like dark clouds breaking up under the sun a smile spread across his face. Tonight would be the first step into a new life and he was really looking forward to the change.

The day passed slowly, uneventfully, his mind focused on the evening with Denise. For the first time in a long time he was looking forward to the end of the day and that expectation seemed to cause all the clocks to grind down to a snail’s pace. It was so different from the past when the day seemed to speed by him, the sensation Mona was watching his every step never far from his thoughts. Doctor Morrison explained that his feelings were guilt speaking to him the only way it knew how.

Eventually the day came to an end and he was able to escape his office. His takeout order was waiting for him at Mario’s and with a spring in his step he made his way back to the apartment building where he lived. A block away from him, the sidewalk around him filled with pedestrians taking advantage of the early spring day, he was brought up short by a familiar shout. He scanned the crowd ahead of him and spotted her at the entrance to his building. Mona stood with her arms wrapped about herself, her eyes scanning the crowd flowing around her.

No, it couldn’t be, it wasn’t possible for her to be here. She was dead. He killed her. A single shot to the forehead, the look of surprise on her face as death claimed her never straying far from his thoughts. Another thought bulled its way through. Denise? Where was she? Was she okay?

Ducking into the alley he made his way to the service entrance and slipped inside. Impatiently he waited for then elevator to take him to the seventeenth floor.  Once inside he struggled against his panic as the car slowly rode up, stopping occasionally as passengers got on and off. Finally, he reached the seventeenth floor and bolted from the elevator. At his door he slipped the key into the lock, the door behind him opening.

“Hey stranger, is that dinner?”

Plastering a smile, he didn’t feel on his face he turned around to Denise and held up the bag from Mario’s. “Gimme a couple of minutes and we can eat.”

“I can’t wait,” she said.

Nick slipped into his apartment and crossed to the bedroom. From his nightstand he retrieved his pistol and slipped it into the waistband of his pants. As he was crossing back to the door it opened to reveal Denise dressed in a flowing sheer robe that clung to every surface of her body.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“I’ve gotta take care of one little thing. I’ll be right back.”

“You mind if I wait here?” She looked around the small apartment.

“That’ll be okay, I’ll be right back.”

She grabbed his arm before he could get away. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

To be continued!

What do you think so far?

This week in horror 02/15/2021

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Tales from the Gulp: Alan Baxter

Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it.

The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don’t even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.

A truck driver thinks the stories about The Gulp are made up to scare him. Until he gets there.
Teenage siblings try to cover up the death of their mother, but their plans go drastically awry.
A rock band invite four backpackers to a party at their house, where things get dangerously out of hand.
A young man loses a drug shipment and his boss gives him 48 hours to make good on his mistake.
Under the blinking eye of the old lighthouse, a rock fisher makes the strangest catch of his life. 

Five novellas. Five descents into darkness. Welcome to The Gulp, where nothing is as it seems.

Moon Child: Gaby Triana

As the only daughter in her Cuban-American home, 18-year-old Valentina Callejas has been raised to do what her Catholic grandmother and mother say to do. But Valentina feels a different pull–an affinity with nature, a desire to read tarot cards and study the occult. After ditching her church’s retreat and fighting with her family, Valentina flees her Miami home and ends up five hours away at Macy’s house, a sister she’s never met until now.

When a mysterious wolf leads Valentina to nearby abandoned Sunlake Springs Resort, she meets the “clairs,” young psychics drawn to the hotel’s haunted history. They’ve been waiting for her, they say, to open a magical entryway to the spirit world. But Valentina’s sensitive hands tell a different story–of anguished spirits, menacing cracks, and hooded ghosts of Florida’s hateful past. Even the local legend, the beautiful Lady of the Lake, all hint to the hotel’s sinister history. To protect her new friends from the horrors awaiting them on the other side, Valentina must use her growing powers and decide, once and for all, if she’s the witch she was always meant to be.

Severed: Joshua Marsella

In this prequel to SCRATCHES, the members of Third Squad are sent on a recon mission to Northern Vietnam in 1967. Their squad leader, Sgt. George Hanscott, has to make the difficult decision to disobey his unit’s direct orders putting his squad’s lives at risk, or help a local fishing village end the terror that’s been plaguing them for over a century. Will his decision backfire or will his squad of US Marine’s be able to destroy the evil entity they don’t quite understand?

Will we find out how George became such a heinous monster? Do we really want to know?

Fridays 5 02/12/2021

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Author names and photos serve as active links to their website or author page.

How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

David Simpson

A: It was fantastic. I loved holding it in my hands. For me it was a lifelong goal and I didn’t care if I sold books or not. I mean of course I wanted to but to hold that paper back was a great feeling. I wrote it for me and told a story I wanted to tell. There were no considerations about what others would think or tailoring the story to a certain market.

Bio: David A. Simpson is an Amazon bestselling author of the Zombie Road and Feral Children series. He loves to travel and has a long list of places to visit on his bucket list. He likes weird things and will drive a hundred miles out of his way to see a weird sculpture made from junkyard parts or a Bonnie and Clyde museum.

Thaddeus White

A: Relieved that Bane of Souls was out there, but also immensely nervous of public reaction. Getting the first few reviews was cathartic. I also felt very keen to get cracking with the next book.

Bio: Thaddeus White is a pen name for someone else. He’s a Yorkshireman, and as well as being an avid fantasy reader/writer enjoys classical history. In addition to his fantastical writings, he offers tips on F1, with varying degrees of success.

S. J. Krandall

A: I felt really proud upon publishing my first completed project.  I set out to do something fun and it turned out to be an amazing experience for me.  I could not wait to share it with others and am looking forward to doing more. 

Bio: S. J. Krandall is a horror author whose recent work was published in summer of 2020.  She was born in Florida but raised in New Jersey where she still resides with my husband, their two sons and two dogs. For more than twenty years she has worked with children with varying abilities as both a teacher and an aide. Now, a stay a home mom, she cares for her family and takes time to enjoy other interests. Her work in progress includes her second book to her series and a variety of short stories. 

Scott Nicholson

A: I had a number of short stories published before my first novel, so I had my stack of rejection slips to dance upon. But I also knew there was a lot of hard work ahead.

Bio:  Nicholson has written hundreds of songs and poems and was a musician in a former life. As a newspaper reporter, he won three North Carolina Press Association awards. He’s had the usual collection of odd jobs: dishwasher, carpenter, painter, paranormal investigator, baseball card dealer, and radio announcer. Now he haphazardly trades words for magic beans and uses “haphazardly” as often as possible while decrying the overuse of adverbs.

Craig Saunders

A: My first published novel was Rain, and I cried like a baby – it had taken me seven years to get my first novel published (or thereabouts)…I still didn’t feel like a writer, though.

Bio: Since his first novel acceptance ‘Rain’ over ten years ago Craig’s short fiction has been published in periodicals, magazines, podcasts, ‘Best of’ anthologies, and his novellas have won a couple of awards. He’s been a top 100 bestselling author in horror, fantasy, and science fiction categories on Amazon, but it isn’t the New York Times so he doesn’t make a big song and dance about it.

If you’re an author who works in horror, sci-fi, or dark fantasy, follow this link to participate.

Fridays 5

Weekly Writing Challenge

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Real life intruded this week and prevented me from adding to the ongoing story. I’ve chosen instead to share the first chapter of my current work in progress. BITTER HOLLOW. I hope you enjoy it. Like the story, the cover below is a work in progress. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

The past bleeds through.

It didn’t matter how high, or how thick we built the walls around the memories that gave us the most pain, one way or another they found their way through.

Laura left three months ago, and the pain of her leaving was as fresh as the day it happened. One moment she was there, in the next she was gone. There’d been no goodbyes, no enraged notes blaming me for all my shortcomings, or any drawn out arguments punctuated by the slamming of the door.

It was the opposite in fact.

A silence that spoke with the finality of death.  While I was working she left, moving to her sisters in Baltimore, back to the hectic pace and the bright lights of a lifestyle that blinded both of us to the truth when we were first wed in a union doomed to failure the moment we said, I do.

For Laura’s family I was from the wrong side of the tracks, a point they tried to drive home, but in the beginning her love for me blinded her to our differences. Though I was a beat cop with no education beyond high school, filled with rage at the people of a country I once tried to help, we managed to keep our marriage together for seven years. In that time her family started warming up to me, so much so that her dad invited me to a round of golf.

I declined, I’d never been interested in golf, couldn’t see what was so competitive about chasing a little white ball around. My refusal to join her dad on the links proved to be the first chink in the armor that was our marriage. It wasn’t long before others followed, spreading out from that first little crack like a spider web to culminate in the chasm that opened between us when we were forced to move to the mountains. Here the slower pace removed the blinders the bright lights and fast tempo of life in Baltimore put in place. For the first time she saw me for what I really was, and she didn’t like it.

It didn’t matter that in sixteen years with the Baltimore police I rose through the ranks from patrolman to lead detective heading up the major cases bureau. I was just another poser trying to be something I wasn’t, and I’d invaded her space, tricking her into believing I was something I wasn’t. At least to her way of thinking. She made that quite clear the last time we spoke. Argued would be a better description.

“Patrol six, this is base, over.” A feminine voice came from the radio mounted on the dash.

Keying the mic, I responded. “This is patrol six, go ahead, over.”

“Hey Bill, on nights again I see, over.”

“Story of my life, whatcha got Rosie? Over.”

“It’ll get better, it always does. They hit the circle K again in Red House, over.” Everyone in the office knew about Laura leaving, a couple even blamed me for what happened.

“That’s the second time this month, they need to close after midnight. I’m on my way, over.”

“Roger, Bill, this is base, out.”

There was no need for lights or sirens, the culprits were probably already in West Virginia, so I pulled a U-turn in the middle of 219 and headed south.

The road ahead lay shrouded in shadows as the ridge above burned with the light of the approaching day. Laura always liked the sunrise. Especially in the mountains when the first fingers of morning ignited the ridges in a fiery glow as the night sought refuge in the valleys below. There was something primal about the rebirth of the day, and how the darkness retreated before its approach, seeking refuge in secret places the light dare not follow.

Every morning she’d sit in her favorite chair on the deck as the last of the night fled from the dawn. It energized her in a way I never understood, and to be honest I was a little jealous of that private time she shared with the morning.

When I was home, I’d either be asleep, or would watch from the kitchen as I got ready for work. After she left I wondered what would have happened had I joined her. Would it have given us something in common, a private moment we could share that might have saved our marriage?

Or would my intrusion drive a deeper wedge into the emptiness between us. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason I stayed away. To be honest the night scared me. Things lived in the dark, old things without a care that would devour your sanity given half a chance. I’d seen them in Afghanistan and locked away the memory, but like I said, no matter how high and how thick you build those wall, sometimes the memories escaped.

The past bleeds through.

With the memory I saw her eyes again, ringed in black to ward off evil spirits, too bad it couldn’t ward off incoming fire, and my stomach cramped at the thought.  

The Circle K convenience store came into view, the lights over the gas pumps formed an island of safety, a beacon to weary travelers passing through the night. Why anyone would put a convenience store here, especially one open twenty-four hours a day, was beyond me. It made no sense. There wasn’t enough traffic to warrant the hours, but the owner persisted, so greedy he was afraid he might miss a buck if he locked his doors.

The remote location made it an idea target for those with less than honest intentions. It wasn’t like the convenience stores in Baltimore that were built like a bank with a thick walls of bullet-proof glass protecting the clerk. If you tried to shoot the clerk you ran the risk injuring yourself with a ricocheting bullet.

This circle K convenience store was like any other, a non-descript box sitting at an angle to the intersection. Over the pumps a large canopy with the Circle K logo at each corner provided protection against inclement weather. I pulled in beside an old pickup truck parked next to three farm tractors, the mud still fresh on their tires.  

Inside and to the right, several tables were set up to serve as a small dining area. One was occupied by four old men who spoke among themselves. They held styrofoam cups of coffee in aged hands seeking relief from the morning chill. It was as typical a scene as one would expect in such a place and I noted that the old men were the farming type, judging by their mud-covered boots, and the rides waiting outside. 

Still visibly shaken by his encounter, the young man at the counter, whose name tag happily identified him as Donald, stuttered as he struggled to answer my questions.

“Did you get a good look at him?”

“I couldn’t see his face clearly, he wore a ski mask,” the not so happy Donald replied.

“Did you see which way he went?”

“To the left I believe,” Donald answered after a moments consideration during which he stared at the front door as he struggled to remember, “but I’m not sure, I was afraid he was going to shoot me.”

“I understand.” I placed my hand on Donald’s shoulder, I needed him to settle and focus before he lost what little information he might have.

“It’s important we know which way he went when he left.” I reassured him, though it really didn’t matter. It was doubtful the direction of the robber’s escape would make much difference in the ensuing investigation, but I needed Donald to believe this so he could focus on what happened. I glanced up at the sign hanging over the register.

Smile, you’re on camera! It exclaimed in bold type beneath a smiley face. 

Under the sign a closed-circuit camera pointed down at the register, the red light below the lens dark. I’m sure the culprit knew the security camera was not working. It was a poor man’s security system only effective with those who had no intention of robbing the place to begin with.

“I don’t suppose there’s a video?” I asked anyway, feeling just a bit foolish for doing so, but you could never be sure when something might break your way.

Donald’s dispirited shrug was answer enough and I turned my attention to the conversation among the four old timers. A conversation centered on a woman it appeared each of them had known at one time or another.  One of them might have noticed something the others missed, I’d have to talk to them, but first I needed to call this in so we could get some of the state boys down here to take over. 

As a detective it would have taken an act of god to get me to turn a case over to another agency, the fact I was so anxious to do so now was just another indication of the new direction my life had taken. As a sheriff’s deputy with over six hundred square miles to cover and more than thirty thousand residents I didn’t have time to conduct a thorough investigation. I needed to be on patrol.

“Almost got him,” one of the old timers said and the comment drew my attention to outside. A white van was racing down route 219 towards us. It wasn’t the van that stood out. On the driver’s side, a bright red smear of what looked like blood ran from the front bumper to just before the rear wheel.

The van jerked right, then left, crossed the center lane as it left the road and shot across the small parking lot, bearing down on the pumps.

“Shut em down,” I shouted as I spun around. Donald was oblivious to the danger as I leaned across the counter. I shoved him out of the way with my shoulder as the image of a rising fireball filled my mind. Just like the FOB when rockets rained down from the mountain peaks above. I smacked the shut off and turned to watch, hoping I’d been fast enough.

The old men at the table were unable to react in time to save themselves as the gas pump crumpled beneath the bumper of the mini-van. There was a moment when I was confident the entire place was going to go up, a moment that thankfully passed as the van came to rest against the second pump after shearing the first from its mount, trapping it between the nose of the van and the second pump.

I raced outside, followed by the others. A woman sat behind the wheel staring straight ahead between the peaks of her white knuckles, her expression dazed.

She had been pretty once, when she was young, before the effects of gravity and indifference from the man she married had their way with her. Her cheeks were streaked with mascara, her eyes confused as she stared into the distance, her hands held the steering wheel in a death grip that made her knuckles stand out like jagged peaks. Reaching for the door handle I realized how fresh the blood was.

“Are you okay, Ma’am?”

She turned to look at me, her head moving so slow I imagined I could hear the creaking of her muscles. She carried a confused expression on her face, a thousand-yard stare that cut through me as she looked at something that wasn’t there. A memory possibly. I’d seen that look too many times before, the survivors of violent crimes wore a similar expression as their minds forced them to relive their terror.

“Where’s Harold?” she said, the blonde hair framing her face damp with sweat.

“Who’s Harold, Ma’am?”

“Harold, my husband,” one of her hands flew to her face and she gnawed on a knuckle as her eyes widened. “No, don’t,” she cried out, “please,” she pleaded.

“What happened?”

“No,” she moaned, closing her eyes and covering her face with her hands.

“That’s Harold’s wife?” one of the men behind me said and I spun around, a thousand thoughts ricocheting through my mind. Questions mostly, with why leading the pack.

Why was she afraid? Why was she running? It was obvious she was running from something, a hastily packed suitcase sat on the back seat, bits of clothing peeking out from around the edges. Where did the blood come from? Was it Harold’s? Why would she run her husband down?

“Harold who?” I asked instead.

“Harold Felton, he runs the vegetable stand on 219 every fall.”

That Harold, I realized as I recalled several run ins with the crusty old man whose customer service skills were in serious need of updating. That brought me back to why. A question I intended to answer.

New in Horror 02/08/2021

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A Variable Darkness: John McIlveen

From the award-winning, best-selling author of Hannahwhere and Inflictions, John McIlveen offers his latest collection, A Variable Darkness, thirteen tales of his trademark blend of heartache, humor, horror, and a ton of humanity. Inside these pages you will meet a captivating girl who is the embodiment of all female youth and the registrar of broken hearts. You will travel to 1693 Massachusetts, where a suspected witch mentors a teenager. You will meet Ricky Briggs, who wakes up without a spine, join in on the craziest Yankee Swap imaginable, and ride along with a cantankerous old spirit in a 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis.

The Guardener’s Tale: Bruce Boston

“The Guardener’s Tale” is a dystopian novel of the future in which everything is controlled and perfect, from work to sex. Unemployment does not exist. Stimulants and holograms enhance the sexual experience. One man, Thorne, searches for something more. He learns that there is a subculture which is able, to some extent, to avoid the trappings of the perfect society…for a while. Interested in the past, Thorne learns the deadly psychological secret of the perfect society. But the past, as they say, is prologue, as is Thorne’s future.

Friday Night Massacre: Michael Patrick Hicks

After succumbing to a deadly virus and incurring the wrath of voters in the 2020 election, the president of the United States makes a deathbed deal with the devil.

Imbued with supernatural power, President Tyler Coleridge refuses to surrender office after being defeated by his rival candidate and rings in the new year with a White House bloodbath.

After Coleridge turns against the press and his own Secret Service detail in a violent display of savagery, it’s up to the lone survivor of the president’s protective detail, Mike Hutchinson, to put a stop to Coleridge’s reign of madness before the nation is utterly crippled.

Inspired by the events of 2020, Friday Night Massacre is a splatterpunk horror action novel in the grindhouse fashion, with a dash of comic book sensibility.

Fridays 5 02/05/2021

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This week I feature more of my older posts while I gather answers from a new batch of writers. If you write horror, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy why don’t you pop over to the Fridays 5 page to check it out. You’re more than welcome to submit your answers and I’ll gladly get you into the Que.

In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

William F Nolan

A: I love cartooning and sports car racing, and the work of Max Brand.

Bio: William writes stories in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. He is best known for coauthoring the novel Logan’s Run, with George Clayton Johnson. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1976 horror film Burnt Offerings which starred Karen Black and Bette Davis.

Scott Nicholson

A: I was a painter and rock musician, and now gardening is one of my passions, but I could see getting back into painting.

Bio: Scott haphazardly trades words for magic beans and uses “haphazardly” as often as possible while decrying the overuse of adverbs. He had 105 rejections before his first story sale and over 400 before he sold a novel. He hasn’t learned much from his mistakes but thinks he’ll probably improve with practice. If nothing else, he’s become a better liar.

Rick Hautala

A: Reading, of course. You can’t be a writer and not read–good books, bad books, indifferent books … every kind of book to see and learn what the craft is all about. Other than reading and writing–my family and politics. My friend Tom Monteleone calls me a “leftie, liberal, tree-hugging, granola-crunching, long-haired hippie.” That works for me … and my politics reflect that.

Bio: Rick arrived on the horror scene in 1980 with many of his early novels published by Zebra books. He wrote and published over 90 novels and short stories from the early 1980s on. In 2011 the Horror Writers Association awarded Rick and Joe R. Lansdale the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Sadly, on March 21 of 2013 we lost Rick to a heart attack. For me personally he was a writer who was always willing to help those of us starting out, and though I never met him personally I counted him among my friends.

Craig Saunders

A: Not much…I like to read, a little, PC game, a lot, and drink coffee and smoke! I’m the epitome of dull, really!

Bio: Craig Saunders is the author of around fifty novels and novellas, including the Amazon bestseller ‘Vigil’. As ‘Craig R. Saunders’ he penned the seven-book fantasy saga of the world of Rythe, beginning in ‘The Outlaw King’ and culminating with ‘Beneath Rythe’.

Jo-Anne Russell

A: I am passionate about reading and horses. I own a beautiful white appaloosa mare named Whisper. It is because of her I put together a charity anthology called Scarlet Whispers, that benefits a local equine rescue called Hilltop Haven. I even board my horse there – at least until I find my new country home.

Bio: Jo-Anne Russell is a horror writer, and publisher, living in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Her stories have appeared in anthologies by Brazen Snake Books, Static Movement, Wicked East Press, and Hidden Thoughts Press, just to name a few.
Her taste for the macabre has provided her imagination with a feast that fuels her writing and creativity. If you like horror, the bizarre, or you just don’t like to sleep at night, give her books and short stories a try.

Weekly Writing Challenge

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Third Times a Charm

The story is coming together in my mind. I know where it’s going to end, it’s just a matter of putting my butt in the chair and getting it there. 689 words this week. Pretty good for an hours work. Too bad we can’t do that all the time.

He persisted as was his nature, getting dressed for work, going through the motions of a regular life that was far from routine. Beyond his bedroom window the world continued to follow its own course, seemingly unaware of the drama that was his life. The sound of traffic on third avenue reached his room as he gazed into the mirror, adjusting his tie. He never could get the damned thing to work right.

The thought sparked a memory of Mona reaching around his neck to fix his tie, joking with him about his inability to do something so simple. Can’t even tie a knot, she’d say with a sparkle in her eye as his love for her swelled in his chest until it felt like he was about to explode. Her missed her so much he sometimes wished he would have never pulled the trigger. So what if she killed him, at least he wouldn’t have to live without her.

He pushed away the sorrow, refusing the acknowledge its existence, moving through the small apartment to the tiny living room with a kitchen in one corner. At the door he paused, slipping on a happy face to show the world before opening the door and stepping into the hallway. Out here, in the world, the memories were not as strong, and he found he was able to function. The door across the hall opened and Denise stepped out, pulling the door closed behind her.

She slipped her arm into Nicks. “Good morning stranger, what happened last night?”

“I’m sorry, got tied up in a meeting at work, then my boss wanted to have a couple of drinks.”

“I heard you stumbling in around two, did you get enough sleep?”

“You were still awake?”

“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Nick was touched by her concern, had it not been for Denise he might not have made it through those first few months. They’d become fast friends after he moved in across from her and that friendship was slowly evolving into something more intimate. They’d shared a few dinners, and he had slept over in her place twice, but they were far from taking the big step of moving in together. It was mostly a friends with benefits arrangement, but he sensed Denise wanted to take it to the next level.

It was a step he was far from prepared to take. For starters he had yet to tell her the truth about what happened between he and Mona. As far as she knew they were divorced, and nothing more.  He was worried about how she would respond if she knew he killed his first wife in self-defense and he wasn’t entirely sure how to broach the subject with her.

“I’m all right. You want to try for tonight?”

“I’m up for it if you are.”

“It’s a date then, I’ll pick up from Mario’s on my way home, you grab the wine. Some good food, some good wine, we’ll see where the night leads.”

“I know where I want it to go,” she said, tightening her grip on his arm. “The only question that remains, your place of mine?”

“I’m sorry, it’s just so cramped in my place, can’t we eat at your place.”

“Are you sure it’s because your apartment is so small?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re not hiding anything from me are you?”

“What would I be hiding?”

“I don’t know, the fact you’re still married, maybe you have kids you don’t want me to know about. I don’t know that much about you aside from where you work, and what you do for a living. I don’t know where you grew up, if your parents are still alive, does your ex come around. I poured my life out before you and you’ve yet to tell me where you’re from originally.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just.” He hesitated. Denise was right, she deserved to know more about him and his past. But that past included the death of his first wife by his hand. It wasn’t a subject you simply dropped into polite dinner conversation.

So what do you think about the story so far? Keep in mind this is raw, unedited work.

This week in Horror 2/1/2021

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Family Solstice by Kate Maruyama

The Massey family loves their house. It’s been in the family for generations, and the land on which it sits has been with them even longer. In the summer everyone comes through to visit and the house is alive with family friends, barbecues and lobster boils. But come fall, the mood shifts as all of the kids start training for their turn in the basement.

Shea, the youngest Massey is training extra hard. She’s thirteen and that means this is her year to battle on Solstice. Her older siblings won’t tell her exactly what’s in the basement, you don’t know until you’re fighting it. She’s excited finally to be in the know.

She does know that whatever happens in the basement every December 21 makes it possible for the Masseys to spend the rest of the year enjoying their home and all that it brings. It is her family duty.

But something about this year is different. Mama’s extra quiet this fall, and the house is breathing early.

Beyond Rainbows by L.C. Mortimer

Tiffany Erickson is nobody special.

She’s just an ordinary person trying to live an ordinary life, but that’s nearly impossible when you live in a world ravaged by the undead. She roams through the free realms, hiding and living in the shadows of the impossible cities, until one day, everything changes.

A lost child.

An unimaginable note.

A plea for help.

Tiffany has a choice to make, but no matter what she chooses, she’s about to discover that she can no longer stay hidden in the shadows as the world rots away.

She has to fight, but it could cost her everything.

Outside by Artyom Dereschuk

The town has been evacuated.

Strange beasts roam the streets outside.

Our only choice is to wait for the rescue… But will it come?

Yuri – a young man from a backwater Russian town – wakes to find the doors to his crumbling apartment complex welded shut… from the inside.

Before anyone can make sense of it, something not from this world kills a postman stranded on the other side of the door. And when the town’s old evacuation sirens begin to blare, Yuri and everyone else in the building realize an impenetrable door could be the least of their worries. In fact, it could be the only thing standing between them and the otherworldly creatures roaming the now deserted streets outside…

Someone in the building knows what’s going on. Now, it’s up to Yuri to figure out who it is, what they know, how these events are linked to their town’s past, and how to lead everyone to safety – before the threats lurking outside find their way in.

Fridays 5 1/29/2021

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January 29, 2021

If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

William F Nolan:

A: Bradbury said that he wanted to be buried on Mars in a Campbell soup can in the “Bradbury Abyss”. I’d ask Ray Bradbury if he found his way home to Mars.

Bio: William writes stories in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. He is best known for coauthoring the novel Logan’s Run, with George Clayton Johnson. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1976 horror film Burnt Offerings which starred Karen Black and Bette Davis.

Scott Nicholson:

I’d like to ask Mark Twain what he thinks of the 21st Century. I am sure he’d have a grand time making sport of Facebook!

Bio: Scott haphazardly trades words for magic beans and uses “haphazardly” as often as possible while decrying the overuse of adverbs. He had 105 rejections before his first story sale and over 400 before he sold a novel. He hasn’t learned much from his mistakes but thinks he’ll probably improve with practice. If nothing else, he’s become a better liar.

Rick Hautala:

A: I’d ask Shakespeare not where he got his ideas, but how he developed them … or I’d ask Hawthorne why he seemed to be depressed all the time …

Bio: Rick arrived on the horror scene in 1980 with many of his early novels published by Zebra books. He wrote and published over 90 novels and short stories from the early 1980s on. In 2011 the Horror Writers Association awarded Rick and Joe R. Lansdale the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Sadly, on March 21 of 2013 we lost Rick to a heart attack. For me personally he was a writer who was always willing to help those of us starting out, and though I never met him personally I counted him among my friends.

Craig Saunders:

A: Joe Hill…when’s the next book coming out!? haha – I love Joe Hill, since reading Heart Shaped Box.

Bio: Craig Saunders is the author of around fifty novels and novellas, including the Amazon bestseller ‘Vigil’. As ‘Craig R. Saunders’ he penned the seven-book fantasy saga of the world of Rythe, beginning in ‘The Outlaw King’ and culminating with ‘Beneath Rythe’.

Jo-Anne Russell:

A: I must say, this is one of the hardest questions I have ever had to answer. To choose only one is torture. However, it would be Ray Bradbury, and I would ask him;  “What is it like on the other side?”

Bio: Jo-Anne Russell is a horror writer, and publisher, living in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Her stories have appeared in anthologies by Brazen Snake Books, Static Movement, Wicked East Press, and Hidden Thoughts Press, just to name a few.
Her taste for the macabre has provided her imagination with a feast that fuels her writing and creativity. If you like horror, the bizarre, or you just don’t like to sleep at night, give her books and short stories a try.

Calling all authors of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. If you’d like to participate in Fridays 5, follow this link.

Fridays 5



Weekly Writing Challenge

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I managed another 490 words in the hour I allotted myself. A couple of things emerged in my mind while writing. The first is the emotional aspect. Honestly I can’t wait to finish the first draft and get into the rewrites where I can layer in those emotions. Some came through but nowhere near as powerful as what they can be.

The second thing to emerge is a possible title. Third Times a Charm. You’ll see why when you read this segment. Has anybody else tried following along? If so leave a comment, I’d love to read what you’ve come up with.

Without further adieu I give you part two. Tell me what you think, but please keep in mind this is raw work with only minor editing.

Third Times a Charm contd.

He’d had many of them over the past six months, his nights filled with dreams of Mona coming at him with a butcher’s knife. Stalking him while he slept, a ghostly killer lurking in the shadows lying just beyond view. He knew it wasn’t possible for her to be there, but the knowledge never lessened the terror he felt in her presence.

There had actually been a time when they loved one another, when they were first married and the future was bright ahead of them. He remembered looking forward to a long happy life at her side. They hoped to have kids but after her second miscarriage they decided it would be best to put aside that dream. There would always be the option to adopt, and they had even gotten to the point of starting the paperwork.

But Mona was persistent, she wanted to try one last time before they threw in the towel. He was hesitant, not wanting her to go through all that again, but she persisted and in time he relented. Third time’s a charm she always said, and at first it seemed like she might actually make it this time. Each time before she lost the child in the first month. On her last try she made it to the second trimester before everything went south.

The day was permanently etched into his memory. She had a morning appointment with her doctor and he had his own appointment with a new client at work so he wasn’t able to go with her. Maybe if he had things might have turned out differently. But it still wouldn’t have changed what happened.

Nick didn’t know about it at first, but later, after everything happened, he found out she lost the baby in the doctor’s office. Like many expectant parents they read everything they could find about their growing child. By week sixteen their baby was able to blink, the heart and blood vessels were fully formed, and their fingers and toes had fingerprints. It was at that point it really began to sink in they might succeed, that it was true, that sometimes the third time was a charm. 

Mona even got to the point of considering baby names, she bought several baby naming books and pored through the pages every day in search of the perfect name for her miracle child. She was so excited and some of that excitement found its way to Nick who started looking forward to having a newborn in the house. They’d gone through so much disappointment already he was afraid to hope. Worried that by doing so fate would intervene. He even let his guard down and allowed himself to be dragged along by Mona’s happiness. 

Too bad it didn’t last.

The memories followed him as he started his day. A cold shower did little to alleviate the weariness that consumed him, and coffee couldn’t even begin to touch the fatigue.

End Segment!

This week in Horror 1/25/2021

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Creepy Nightmares by Bryce Nealham

A place can get cold, dark and lonely when terror comes to visit.

Creepy Nightmares presents a collection of strange, dark and mysterious short horror stories that are so chilling that they will no doubt keep you up at night.

This book of short creepy stories contains three terrifying tales of horror and suspense beyond your imagination.

Here is a horrifying peek into the shadows of pure fear…

A true story of a mother and her two daughters being terrorized by something unseen and evil that lurks in their new home. Creepy noises, objects moving around the place, tall dark figures appearing out of nowhere and discoveries in the basement that someone tried to hide.

Another true story of a family who just moved into a remote piece of farmland. They quickly discover that at night, large wolf-like creatures roam the fields on the hunt for something to eat.

A tale of a teenager who wanted to spend one last time in the cabin his father bought for the family before he died. However, on the last night the teenager would be terrorized by something stalking the property…trying to get in.

The Big Book of the Masters of Horror by Assorted authors

If you were looking for the Holy Bible of the horror anthologies, consider yourself lucky, because you just found it!
Cosmic horror, supernatural events, ghost stories, weird fiction, mystical fantasies, occult narratives, this book plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities.

This collection of the greatest mysterious dark tales gathers together more than 100 authors and more than 1000 short stories (!), which makes it truly unique in its kind.

Be aware that this book includes a big amount of stories that appear for the first time in digital print.

Night Terror by H.C. Townes

Blake, a small town firefighter, meets the woman of his dreams on the most tragic day of his life. He soon finds himself head over heels for this mysterious woman. However, he quickly learns true love isn’t all he thought it would be.

Weekly Writing Challenge

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January 20,2021

For Christmas last year my wife gave me a complete set of Rory story cubes and I was inspired to get back into trying to write short stories. I’ve always been a long form writer, able to create novel length works much easier that I can create short stories. Every so often I come up with a good one, but in most cases my shorts need a lot of work.

A couple of years ago I started a weekly writing challenge on my blog. The intent was to create a story whose title started with a letter from the alphabet. The rules were simple. Every week I’d allow myself one hour to write the selected story with the goal of writing at least 250 words. Whatever I accomplished in that hour I would share on my blog that Wednesday. Raw, unedited, and would continue doing so until the story was done.

I managed to finish all the way up to E before real real life forced me to shelve my plans. This year on January 1st, I retired. I still work three days a week but I now have time to jump back into my weekly challenge. This time instead of limiting myself to the alphabet, I’m going to use the Rory story cubes to create each story.

Monday I rolled the dice and came up with the following.

Character roll:  Planting. Burying. Running. Walking.

Opening: Carrying a box.  Turn.  Pushing a button, elevator possibly.

Middle: Two people agreeing, thumbs up, shaking hands. Something broken, something fragile. Throwing a ball, catching a ball, playing sports.

End: Jumping from one level to the next, jumping down. Headphones, listening to music, overhearing a conversation, eavesdropping. Knocking on a door, pounding on a wall, looking for something.

After some thought here are the first 380 words of the yet to be titled work.

Nick was asleep when the sound disturbed him, a crashing rumble that drove him awake and he sat up in bed looking around the cramped bedroom.  Her perfume filled the room provoking the last image he had of her. She came in low across the bed, staring at him with a murderous gaze, the tip of the butcher knife in her hand drawing a line in the sheets. She was going to kill him, he was sure of it, and he rolled away, off the side of the bed. He yanked the drawer of the nightstand open. She lashed out with a furious cry, the tip of the blade passing over his shoulder, igniting a burning line of pain as his hand closed around the butt of his pistol. He bought it to protect them from intruders, unaware it’s eventual use would be to defend him from his wife. The same women he’d sworn to honor and protect, to give his life to, was trying to kill him.

The memory faded into the dark recesses of his mind as he reached out for the nightstand and turned on the light. A soft yellow glow filled the room, casting the small dresser into deep shadows. It was then he realized someone was in the room with him, watching him from the deeper night gathered at the far edge of that small pool of light.

“Who’s there?”

He slid open the drawer of the nightstand and removed his revolver. The police had given it back to him after he was cleared of any wrongdoing in his wife’s death. In the shadows near the window, he saw what looked like a person standing with their arms crossed over their chest.

“Mona?” As soon as he said her name he knew it couldn’t be right. No way she could be there with him. She was dead and buried, her new residence at Parkview cemetery courtesy of the weapon he held in his hand.  

The lid of the toilet slammed down, and he jumped back as the shadow at the window faded into the night. He rubbed his eyes and swung his legs out of bed, noting that it was now a little past three am and it was going to be another sleepless night.

End segment!

So what do you think?

If you’d like to follow along and do the challenge yourself by all means you’re more than welcome, and I’d love to read what you’ve written. If you’d like to grab your own set of story cubes they’re available here.

New in Horror

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January 18, 2021

Masquerade: A Supernatural Thriller

The first in a series of Beth Harper books, Masquerade is a dark supernatural thriller set in a remote North Yorkshire village. Following a whirlwind re-location for a live-in job at the local inn, Beth quickly realises the whole village is thoroughly haunted, the people here fearful and cowed. As a spiritual medium, her attention is drawn to Scarsdale Hall nearby, the enormous stately home dominating what is undoubtedly a wild and beautiful landscape. Built of black stone with majestic turrets, it seems to drain the energy from the land. There is, she feels, something malevolent about it, as if time has stopped.
With the help of her spirit guides and the gift of astral travel, she will soon face the most daunting task of her life. Why is she being shown images of expressionless children gripping the bars of fairground wheels, forever going around and around? And why are the lines of women and children walking to Scarsdale Hall each day, silent and grim-faced? Barely a word is spoken here. There is no joy, no life…
Past and present are as entangled as a box of ribbons, her task being to unravel the darkly disturbing truth laid down centuries before. But are the embedded secrets too horrific for those involved to ever admit, even to themselves? As the enormity of the task unfolds and Beth is pitched against one of the most powerful families on earth, she considers this may be too much for her. Ultimately, however, this is her journey, too. And she will be pushed to the limit of her abilities. Besides, as her spirit guide, Billy, says, ‘They’re still doing it…’

The Ticking Ghost by Phil Miles

Somewhere in London, a device lies hidden. It contains a virus whose means of contagion is unique, astonishing… and devastating. For now, the virus is secure. But soon the device will activate, and its deadly payload will be unleashed.

The key to finding it lies on a remote Scottish island, in an empty house at the end of a pier. Drew Turner, a talented but volatile detective, has been tasked with discovering this vital clue. Accompanying him is Megan Mallory, a prickly MI5 operative. They must work out their differences and work together if they are to avert the imminent catastrophe.

But the house at the end of the pier is not as empty as it seems…

Three Cold Hours by Jonette Blake

POISON IN THE POND
Karen Malcolm believed her terrible ordeal was over. Instead, it plunged her into a supernatural nightmare where even the monsters are afraid of the dark.

THE UNHEARD
When Jenny Abercrombie finds out what really happened all those summers ago, she will have to choose between believing her sister’s side of the story, or believing the ghosts who want revenge.

STRANGE LEGACY
Elijah Brooks discovers something sinister is behind the disappearance of stagehands at his Wild West recreation show: a strange legacy that has been in his family for generations.

The Bayou by Arden Powell

Small-town Louisiana, 1935.

When Eugene was twelve, a girl from town disappeared. Everyone said the gators must have got her when she strayed too near the bayou. No foul play, just a terrible accident. But Eugene can’t shake the conviction that Mary Beth’s death had something to do with the man who used to haunt her—the man no one else could see.

Now, nearly two decades later, there are more dangerous things than gators in Chanlarivyè. People are disappearing again, and this time, no one can find the bodies. As the town’s unease grows, charismatic fugitive Johnny Walker arrives on the scene, shedding bullet casings and stolen bank notes in his wake.

He tangles himself up in Eugene’s life and awakens memories Eugene thought he had laid to rest years ago. Memories of the mysterious man who followed Eugene into his dreams, and memories of the bayou—and of the horrifying entity that lurks beneath the water’s surface, slowly seeping into the town like a stain.