Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Keep the Beat

Crescendo of Darkness from Press.

“Keep the Beat” by Calvin Demmer

A young girl questions why her tribe plays the djembe drums every night and finds it may be more than just a tradition.

Calvin shares his thoughts about his story with us below.

“Keep the Beat” Inspiration

By Calvin Demmer

Being from South Africa, I wanted to remain on the continent for the main flavor of my story “Keep the Beat.” I didn’t zone in on one specific culture, but tried to see what most of the tribes in Africa had in common in their past. Some of the habits they shared were the various rituals they practiced and their unique beliefs in spirits or the afterlife. I immediately knew my story would have a strong supernatural angle.

To incorporate the music theme, I wished for the instrument to be something interesting that would work well with the ideas I had for rituals; and fortunately I quickly knew what I would use. Then it was all about creating my own world, tribe, and specific reason for the instrument. This all actually came together pretty easily and the “Beat” part was somewhat inspired by an earlier short story I’d written called “Forbidden Fruit.”

As I worked on the story more, and through various early drafts, it kept taking a darker and darker road. The stakes needed to be high for my main character and I wanted there to be a harsh penalty for ill conceived actions.

Overall, if a supernatural African world, where spirits linger and time honored rituals must be obeyed to avoid great consequences, is what intrigues a reader, then “Keep the Beat” will definitely be a fun and interesting experience.


Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at or follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.


Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Become the Music

Crescendo of Darkness from Press.

“Become the Music” by H.E. Roulo

A cellist would do anything for her child, even give up music, but that might not be enough to stop a curse from consuming her baby.

Heather shares her thoughts about her story with us below.

The Brutality of Music

By H.E. Roulo

It’s easy to forget that when we sing, hum, or hear a soundtrack, we’re experiencing the power of music. If a soundtrack is good, my dog will understand something important is happening on screen and look at the television. For suspenseful parts, she’ll stand and growl, even when nothing menacing appears visually. That communication with another species happens at a level beyond a spoken command. She understands the intent of the music.

Have you been transported by music? Heard people claim they’re transformed by music? What if the apparent latent power in music were real? It’s possible music binds the world together across language barriers and species, perhaps even at a metaphysical level. This forms the premise of my short story “Become the Music.”

In a wild rural area, where more things are possible, a musician draws something new into existence with her playing. She wouldn’t be able to put her power  into words, but music doesn’t require that. Unfortunately, that new entity’s potent mix of music, power, and possibility becomes a curse. What she’s made can’t exist alongside the casual musical brutality of our everyday world.

In a world where we can record and play music anywhere, we are casual about a powerful force that can heal, create, and transform. Emotion coded into music reaches deep into the subconscious. How can such a potent force become the simple everyday buzz and background to our lives? Are we made numb by the ubiquity of music? What happens to someone who isn’t?

Something that can be primal or civilizing, evocative of the human condition, and communicate with an infinite number of people who don’t speak the same language, can also be debased into throwaway notes given no care or notice. Wacky childrens’ toys chime on shelves. The music of the current generation’s rebellious prime becomes the background of a supermarket. These highs and lows—without bias for genre so much as intent—became the focus of my story.

In my Crescendo of Darkness story, the musician’s life is upended. Music becomes a threat. Seeking escape, she drives to a remote location seeking peace, solitude, and most of all silence.

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Last Lullaby

Crescendo of Darkness from Press.

“Last Lullaby” by Emerian Rich

An opera diva is haunted by a dangerous secret which threatens to end her career and her life.

Emerian shares her thoughts about her story with us below.

I have a confession to make. I’m a choir geek. Yeah, before Glee and Pitch Perfect made it “cool” to be in choir (But did they really?), I was a nerdy choir chick. It went way beyond just taking it as an elective. No, I was a Jazz Choir, harmonizing, Sinatra-adoring, music dork. Still am if I’m being completely honest although my dream of being a singer has faded into a vicarious, middle-age musical adoration.

I remember the first time I heard The Phantom of the Opera lyrics. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t a music fan. With great music, the melody plunges into your ears and creates a sort of euphoric experience. It spirals down your spine and into your legs. It raises goosebumps on your arms and—at times—brings tears to your eyes. That’s how I felt listening to “The Music of the Night” for the first time. In that moment, I knew what great music was.

In my short story “Last Lullaby,” Claire encounters her own “Phantom” of the opera. She is an opera chorus girl when fate—or perhaps something more sinister—rockets her into diva-hood. For a girl such as her, who loves music with her whole being, what will happen when the gift is ripped from her? Will she survive? Or will she put her life at stake to sing one last time?

Find out by reading “Last Lullaby” in Crescendo of Darkness. Sometimes, it’s better to travel the hard road to gain respect than to make a deal with a demon.

Find out more about Emz at:

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Crescendo of Darkness Tour: Circe’s Music Shop

Crescendo of Darkness from Press.

“Circe’s Music Shop” by A. Craig Newman

A music store owner, who won’t be bullied into submission, teaches two hitmen the meaning of pain.

A. Craig Newman shares his thoughts about his story with us below.

When I wrote “Circe’s Music Shop”, I did not plan to publish it.  In all honesty, in my head, I wasn’t writing. I was practicing. 

Practice makes perfect, or so we’re always told. And I want to be a great writer so I figure the only way is to write a lot. But the results of practice are usually riddled with mistakes.  A painter practicing the challenge of rendering eyes or hands will fill sketch pads with dozens of aborted attempts to get it right. A cook perfecting a recipe will throw away countless full and aborted attempts before hitting on the exact combination of ingredients and time and technique that gives the correct results.  So, I figured, and still do, that most things a writer writes should not be published but should be considered practice. 

With this in mind, I give myself challenges to practice with.  One challenge was to go to my friends and ask them what type of character they’d want to be they could be anyone at all in a story.  My best friend, Tamisha, said she wanted to be a sorceress.  Because I have a love of classics and myths, I immediately thought of Circe from “The Odyssey“.  I don’t remember how turning men to pigs became turning men to instruments. I do remember that I wrote the story quickly because I wasn’t stressing myself over a practice piece. 

Since writing this story, several have come and gone where I would consider myself having done some “real writing”. Ideas I mulled over and cultivated into complete premises.  Pieces I wrote and rewrote trying to infuse the work with everything I’ve learned about symbolism and artistry.  Real writing took real work and countless hours of time and effort and frustration. 

There are two things I learned from writing “Circe’s Music Shop”.  First, a writer can never tell where a good idea will come from.  Second, for me, “underwriting” is not a bad thing. Those other pieces that I mulled over and reworked about a dozen times have yet to become anything.  This piece that I just had fun with and tossed onto the paper has gained me more attention, praise, and success as a writer than anything else. 

So, what does this all mean?  How do I apply this in a practical sense?  I have no idea.  I’m still trying to figure that out.  I’ll let you know when I do.  

A. Craig Newman
Author and Instructor

Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.

Guest Blog: Crescendo of Darkness

Dave M. Strom: author of Holly Hansson, superheroine & writer

I was asked to post a guest blog on May 19 for Here it is now (a little late, darn it)! As a writer getting into making audio stories, this is educational! (I will be voicing a nervous teenager for an upcoming anthology by Emerian Rich, one of the editors and story contributors for Crescendo of Darkness.)

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction. is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.

Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.


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BayCon Events!

May 25 – 28, 2018

San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport will be attending BayCon, the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Writer’s Convention in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Saturday May 26th
Imagination Fair
Free to the public

Join us at the Imagination Fair. Take selfies with Inkjet, the incredible cepholopod, chat with authors, get freebies, enjoy face painting, and answer trivia questions to get awesome swag from CometTV, like Tank Girl T-shirts, The Craft protection sachets, and alien gifts.
Authors present will be: Laurel Anne Hill, Sumiko Saulson, J. Malcolm Stewart, Loren Rhoads, Emerian Rich, Mercy Hollow, E.M. Markoff, Trinity Adler, and more!

This is a free event with swag to spare!

Sunday May 27th Panel Come discuss musical influence on horror and dark fantasy literature, movies, and lifestyle. Hear authors read their horror stories and enter to win door prizes. Musically inspired horror favors free until they run out!
Authors present will be: Laurel Anne Hill, Sumiko Saulson, Jonathan Fortin, J. Malcolm Stewart, Loren Rhoads, Emerian Rich


Crescendo of Darkness Tour: While My Guitar Gently Bleeds

Crescendo of Darkness from Press.

“While My Guitar Gently Bleeds” by Benjamin Langley
A rock musician is visited by an undead band member and forced to pay for his crimes against rock ‘n’ roll.

Benjamin shares his thoughts about his story with us below.

Of all the stories I have written and submitted, none have spent as much time under consideration with editors as ‘While My Guitar Gently Bleeds.’ Finally it has found its home in Crescendo of Darkness and I couldn’t be happier.

The first place it was submitted was to a university tutor. This story was one of two I handed in for a second-year short story writing module. Given the way that horror was frowned upon, it wasn’t as well received as the literary story that accompanied it. (‘I Am Roadkill,’ published by Flash Fiction Magazine in 2015.) Why did I write quirky horror story about aging (and undead) rockers for a tutor I knew wouldn’t like it? It was the story I wanted to write at the time, and was never a fan of playing it safe.

The first time I sent it out seeking publication it was shortlisted from more than 500 submissions. Eventually, it did not make the cut, but the fact that had been close brought me comfort. I took it back in gave it a polish, and sent it on its way again. A number of editors seemed to like it, but claimed it didn’t quite fit and I could see their point. Yet again I took it into the workshop, and gave it another going over. It was changed from present tense to past, which seemed to give it more of an edge. Key parts of the story where slowed down, allowing for tension to build. Extraneous parts of the text were cut away. The story of former band-mates Dallas McCann and Tyler Gunn was stronger, scarier, and dare I say, gorier.

I was sure that when I sent it out again, to a well-selected publication, they would be sure to take it.

Not so. But again, it was close. I got one of those rejections that made me feel positive, that made me feel like I was getting somewhere. The rejection note stated that they had to cut some stories that they loved. The final line was great: “We’re sorry for sitting on it for so long, but these last few cuts caused us real pain.”

I knew the story was good; the trouble was that it was rather niche. Imagine my absolute joy when I saw the submission call for Crescendo of Darkness, an anthology seeking to combine horror and music. Perfect. So I sent the story, and again had to suffer the agonising wait.

Finally it was accepted. I was elated. Every time I see the cover to the anthology I think about what a perfect fit the story is. I can’t wait to get hold of my own copy now, and I’m looking forward to hearing readers’ reactions.


Crescendo of Darkness

Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press


Let music unlock your fear within.