Free Fiction Friday: Angelus Rose by Loren Rhoads and Brian Thomas

“If Romeo had wings and Juliet a barbed tail, could they find happiness in the City of Angels?”

Author Loren Rhoads gave us an exclusive excerpt of her new book, Angelus Rose.

After their escape from the ashes of Lost Angels, the succubus Lorelei and the angel Azaziel want nothing more than to enjoy each other’s company. Unfortunately, Asmodeus, the Demon Prince of LA, has threatened to devour Lorelei’s new-grown soul if she doesn’t bring about Azaziel’s downfall. Meanwhile, Aza is keeping secrets of his own that threaten the tenuous peace between Heaven and Hell. 

Three archangels come to town to try to set things right, but friendships are fracturing. The demon in charge of fallen angels is sniffing around. And Los Angeles is about to catch fire between a devil and the deep blue sea.


Azaziel fights the ash wraith. Excerpt from Angelus Rose by Loren Rhoads & Brian Thomas

Summoned by a sense of terrible wrongness, Aza dropped through a hole punctured through the columbarium’s roof. Animate powder fogged the heavy air. The room clattered as the metallic urns danced in their niches. Some urns had already smashed through their glass partitions, adding sharp fragments to the swirling filth.

A pair of bodies lay crumpled near a stained glass window. Sweat pasted a coating of ash to their skin. More ash obscured the colors of their clothing. These mortal warders were dead, lungs clogged with bone grit and ash. Noc, the Cambodian cook, lay where he fell, his shirt wrapped around his face in an impromptu mask.

The woman had been Dolores Gutierrez. She lay curled around a book-shaped urn that held the soul of Willy Goldenstern. Aza could feel the boy defying the evil which tried to pry him out and carry him away on a wind of damnation.

Other souls also barely held out. Despite their makeshift containers, each was battered by the growing whirlwind of fouled remains.

Aza wondered how the other angels could have overlooked this possibility. Even if the niches in the columbarium around him weren’t hallowed ground in and of themselves, they were surrounded by it, ideally presenting a safe haven for the loose souls. But no one seemed to have considered removing the urns spaced throughout the structure that had contained the unredeemed dead. Perhaps there simply hadn’t been time.

As the General of Hell drew closer, his influence called to the dust of once-damned flesh. The mausoleum hallway hissed with the sound of whispering voices as the damned entreated the children to join them.

A shape swept up to meet Aza, coalescing into a twisted starfish of soiled gray. Nebulous and solid by turns, the ash wraith struck, attempting to suffocate the angel as it had the mortals.

In the cemetery outside, Aza could have dispelled the wraith with a few powerful strokes of his wings. In the narrow confines of the columbarium’s hall, he had no room for that. Instead, Aza approached the creature, speaking a banishment to drive it back.

The wraith fled around the corner of the columbarium’s corridor, before melting into the wall of niches. It rattled among the urns, trying vainly to open them before its destruction.


Don’t miss out on a chance to chat with the author April 11th, 2pm PST on Facebook

African American Multimedia Conference, Feb 13-17 THIS WEEKEND!

AAMMC 2020 Schedule

Workshops, Panels and Book Signings

“In order to rise from its own ashes,
a Phoenix first must burn.” ― Octavia Butler

African American Multimedia Conference Presenters:

Sumiko Saulson, Linda Addison, Nisi Shawl, Rappin 4Tay, Kevin E. Myrick, Karen Junker, Crystal Connor, Simon Says, Scott Saulson, V’Launce Davis, Lil Twain, Precious Chambers, Lil 4Tay, Franchesca Saulson, Amy Holloway, Kevin Craig West, Meosha Bean

Thursday, February 13, 2020 (Free!)

Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. Berkeley, California, 94703 | 510.644.4930

Pre-Conference Kick-Off with Silent Auction!

Free and Open to the Public, Food and Beverages served.

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm           Sexy Sci-Fi Sisters Book Chat and Signing Event with James Tiptree Award Winner Nisi Shawl, Crystal Connor, Linda Addison, and Sumiko Saulson

Friday, February 14, 2020 (Free!)

San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street, 12-5pm

12:00 pm     Registration

12:30 pm     Welcome Speech by Linda Addison

12:45 pm     Remembering and Honoring Our Elders Past

1:15 pm       Narrowing the Digital Divide

2:15 pm       San Francisco Pioneer Awards

2:45 pm       Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror Short Preview

3:15 pm       Dollars to Diversity: Hollywood’s New Black Blockbusters

4:15 pm       Meet the Authors! Book Signing and Book Chat with

Saturday, February 15, 2020 (Free!)

Melrose Branch, Oakland Public Library, 4805 Foothill Boulevard, 2-5pm

2:00 pm       Welcome Speech by Nisi Shawl

2:15 pm       Creating Diverse Sci-Fi & Horror Characters and Worlds (Nisi Shawl)

3:00 pm       So You Want To Be a Rapper or a Rock n Roll Star? (Rappin 4-Tay)

3:45 pm       Krishna Awards for Black Excellence in Multimedia

4:45 pm       Closing Statements by Crystal Connor

Sunday, February 16, 2020 (Free!)

Marcus Books, 3900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA, 1-2pm

1:00-2:00 pm         Scary Sisters Horror Book Chat and Signing Event with Bram Stoker Award Winner Linda Addison, Nisi Shawl, Crystal Connor, and Sumiko Saulson

 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

81st Avenue Branch, Oakland Public Library, 1021 81st Avenue, 2-5 pm

Kids 12 and Under

2:00-5:00 pm         Art Circle: Afrocentric Coloring Time!

PG-13

2:00 pm       Welcome Speech by Amy Holloway

2:15 pm       Why Do People Tell Stories about Monsters?

3:00 pm       Making Beautiful Music, Movies, and Books

3:45 pm       Beyond Us Short Film Festival & Talk

4:45pm        Closing Remarks by Kevin E. Myrick

Pride at the AAMMC! Sunday, February 16, 2020

Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, 3207 Lakeshore Avenue

3:00 pm       Reframing the Other – Writing the Other for Black and Queer Authors (Nisi Shawl, Sumiko Saulson)

3:45 pm       Writing While Black, Queer Edition: (Sumiko Saulson, Nisi Shawl)

Pride at the AAMMC! Monday, February 17, 2020

Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, 3207 Lakeshore Avenue

3:00 pm       A Nu Way: Creating Magical Melanated Spiritual & Safe Spaces (Hosted by Irene McCalphin)

3:45 pm       Manifesting from the Margins (Hosted by Irene McCalphin)


Self-Publishing – A Three Class Series at Eastmont

By Sumiko Saulson

Eastmont Branch, Oakland Public Library, 7200 Bancroft Avenue, Suite 211

Monday, February 10, 2020, 5-7 pm Preparing Book Interiors

Monday, February 24, 2020, 5-7 pm Exteriors, Covers, and Ads

Black Goth Takeover at Club Vantablack ($10)

Stork Club Oakland 2330 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, California

Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 9:00 pm – 1:30 am
Performances by M-Lamar, Stagefright, Protea and In Retrograde

Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror ($10 per night)

Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA

Curator & Horror Host Crystal Connor
Sunday, February 17, 2020, 7 pm – 10pm, Special Guest Kevin Craig West

Monday, February 18, 2020, 7 pm -10pm, Special Guest Meosha Bean

Film Fest: Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror

Spoiler alert: The Black Guy Doesn’t Die First!

‘Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror,’
a collection of films curated
by award-winning horror author
and HorrorAddicts.net Staff,
Crystal Connor,
will screen Feb. 16-17

by Sumiko Saulson

“Suffering from multitudes of negative stereotypes, minorities have not traditionally fared well in horror movies. While these negative interpretations still exist, things have begun to improve. Thanks to creators of color, and voices from other marginalized communities, we are now the heroes of our own stories … and no longer are we the first to die,” says Crystal Connor, curator of “Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror.”

“Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror” takes place Sunday, Feb. 16, and Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, over the President’s Day Weekend at Artists Television Access, 992 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-824-3890, from 7 to 10 p.m. on each night. It is a part of the Bay Area Black Independent Film Festival (BABIFF), which is one of Iconoclast Production’s February offerings, along with the African American Multimedia Conference.

During the two-day film festival there will be two special guest filmmakers: Kevin Craig West, flying in from New York, and Meosha Bean, flying up from Los Angeles. Organizer and horror video blogger Crystal Connor is flying down from Seattle. We are still raising money to cover travel and hotel funds for these participants. Email the organizer at sumikoska@yahoo.com if you are willing to help.

Sunday, Feb. 16

7:00 p.m. Special Guest Kevin Craig West

Award winning actor-filmmaker and proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. When not on camera or stage, he enjoys producing, directing, writing and coaching. He also enjoys sharing his talents as a teacher-artist and has worked with many arts in education groups including Theatre for a New Audience, Only Make Believe and Symphony Space. Kevin is the owner of the production company, MoBetta Films, an advisory board member of WAM Theatre as well as Lake Placid Film Forum, former president of Upstate Independents and has served as assistant director of FilmColumbia Festival.

7:15 p.m. ‘The Groundskeeper’

Kevin Craig West stars as “The Groundskeeper” in this short film by Nichole Eckenroad, taking place in Pearl River County Lunatic Asylum, Mississippi, in 1920. Run time: 11 minutes

7:26 p.m. ‘Distractions’

A suspenseful short – in this Twilight-Zone style parable about distracted driving, Dick just can’t stay off the phone. Run time: 6 minutes

7:32 p.m. ‘I Hate Being Black’

Drama short – a conversation amongst buppies about the struggles associated with blackness. Run time: 11 minutes

7: 44 p.m. ‘Orphaned’

After being missing for almost a year, Allen McAvoy returns home to find a family falling apart, and his adopted brother Steve taking care of his wife. The death of his adopted parents sparked his disappearance, and now everyone wants answers, including his biological sister. As a fight over the family inheritance brews in the background, both brothers are thrust into a world where their loyalties to one another and their country are ferociously challenged. Will they be able to mend their own small world, or be a part of the destruction of the world at large? Run Time: 85 minutes

9:00 p.m. ‘Colors in Darkness’

“Colors in Darkness” is an experimental award-winning documentary by Sy Shanti that’s entirely composed of stock footage, stock images, stock sounds and self-recorded interviewee videos of African American authors, writers and content creators discussing the genre of Horror in books, TV and film. Run time: 1:01:51 minutes

Monday, Feb. 16

7:00 p.m. Special Guest Meosha Bean

Meosha Bean is an award-winning actress and filmmaker, voted best upcoming director in 2012 at the New Jersey Film Festival. Owner of MVB Films, established in 2003, her projects include “Dark Rises” (2013), which has an all-star cast, and “Miss Pepper” (2013), a short film that gained almost 30,000 views in one week upon release. Join her for a series of shorts and Q&A.

“Mr. Nightmare: Nightmares That Read into Reality” is directed by Meosha Bean. Run time: 3:12 minutes

“Nightmare at the Cinema: Scary Stories”: We all enjoy going to the cinema to watch a good movie, but let’s not forget about the creeps that go to the movies to watch us instead. Director is Meosha Bean. Run time: 4:55 minutes

7:30 pm ‘Danger World’

In “Danger World” by Luchina Fisher, a 13-year-old girl and her grandpa struggle to survive in a zombie-infested world. Run time: 18:41 minutes

7:50 p.m. ‘White’

In “White” by A. Sayeed Clark, it’s another 120-degree day with five more days to Christmas and hot is the only season left in New York City. Global warming has become a tangible threat and everyone is creating new ways to protect themselves from the sun. Bato and his wife Gina are expecting a baby, but they weren’t expecting it so early. Although they planned to have the baby at home, Gina now requires the services of a clinic for the premature delivery. With no money for the clinic, Bato enters into a race against the sun, the birth, his community and even his own identity to save his family. Run time: 15 minutes

8:05 p.m. Intermission

8:20 p.m. ‘Penelope’

“Penelope,” dreamed up by Maris Wilson, is a modern-day witch – a Venefica, to be exact. Today, in the middle of an isolated forest, she must endure the mystical rite of passage that determines whether her abilities will be used for good or for evil. Run time: 7:29 minutes

8:28 p.m. ‘Wake’

“Wake” by Bree Newsome tells the tale of a repressed woman who murders her domineering father, then, using a local folk magic called “root work,” she conjures a demon to aid her in creating the man of her dreams – but soon finds herself in a waking nightmare. Run time: 21:29 minutes

8:50 p.m. ‘Gorenos’

In Clarence Williams’” Gorenos,” a young man becomes haunted by a supernatural entity in the wake of his 18th birthday. Influenced by films like “Scream,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Paranormal Activity,” Gorenos is a fresh and self-aware entry into the horror genre that boasts a hip and diverse cast of new and established talents. Run time 1:21:29 minutes.


Bestselling author Sumiko Saulson writes award-winning multicultural sci-fi, fantasy, horror and Afrosurrealism. Winner of the 2017 Afrosurrealist Writer’s Award, 2016 HWA Scholarship from Hell, and 2016 BCC Voice Reframing the Other Award, (he)r monthly series Writing While Black follows the struggles of Black writers in the literary arts and other segments of arts and entertainment. (S)he is gender non-binary. Support (he)r on Patreon and follow (he)r on Twitter and Facebook.

African American Multimedia Conference, Feb 13-17

AAMMC 2020 Schedule

Workshops, Panels and Book Signings

“In order to rise from its own ashes,
a Phoenix first must burn.” ― Octavia Butler

African American Multimedia Conference Presenters:

Sumiko Saulson, Linda Addison, Nisi Shawl, Rappin 4Tay, Kevin E. Myrick, Karen Junker, Crystal Connor, Simon Says, Scott Saulson, V’Launce Davis, Lil Twain, Precious Chambers, Lil 4Tay, Franchesca Saulson, Amy Holloway, Kevin Craig West, Meosha Bean

Thursday, February 13, 2020 (Free!)

Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. Berkeley, California, 94703 | 510.644.4930

Pre-Conference Kick-Off with Silent Auction!

Free and Open to the Public, Food and Beverages served.

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm           Sexy Sci-Fi Sisters Book Chat and Signing Event with James Tiptree Award Winner Nisi Shawl, Crystal Connor, Linda Addison, and Sumiko Saulson

Friday, February 14, 2020 (Free!)

San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street, 12-5pm

12:00 pm     Registration

12:30 pm     Welcome Speech by Linda Addison

12:45 pm     Remembering and Honoring Our Elders Past

1:15 pm       Narrowing the Digital Divide

2:15 pm       San Francisco Pioneer Awards

2:45 pm       Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror Short Preview

3:15 pm       Dollars to Diversity: Hollywood’s New Black Blockbusters

4:15 pm       Meet the Authors! Book Signing and Book Chat with

Saturday, February 15, 2020 (Free!)

Melrose Branch, Oakland Public Library, 4805 Foothill Boulevard, 2-5pm

2:00 pm       Welcome Speech by Nisi Shawl

2:15 pm       Creating Diverse Sci-Fi & Horror Characters and Worlds (Nisi Shawl)

3:00 pm       So You Want To Be a Rapper or a Rock n Roll Star? (Rappin 4-Tay)

3:45 pm       Krishna Awards for Black Excellence in Multimedia

4:45 pm       Closing Statements by Crystal Connor

Sunday, February 16, 2020 (Free!)

Marcus Books, 3900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA, 1-2pm

1:00-2:00 pm         Scary Sisters Horror Book Chat and Signing Event with Bram Stoker Award Winner Linda Addison, Nisi Shawl, Crystal Connor, and Sumiko Saulson

 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

81st Avenue Branch, Oakland Public Library, 1021 81st Avenue, 2-5 pm

Kids 12 and Under

2:00-5:00 pm         Art Circle: Afrocentric Coloring Time!

PG-13

2:00 pm       Welcome Speech by Amy Holloway

2:15 pm       Why Do People Tell Stories about Monsters?

3:00 pm       Making Beautiful Music, Movies, and Books

3:45 pm       Beyond Us Short Film Festival & Talk

4:45pm        Closing Remarks by Kevin E. Myrick

Pride at the AAMMC! Sunday, February 16, 2020

Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, 3207 Lakeshore Avenue

3:00 pm       Reframing the Other – Writing the Other for Black and Queer Authors (Nisi Shawl, Sumiko Saulson)

3:45 pm       Writing While Black, Queer Edition: (Sumiko Saulson, Nisi Shawl)

Pride at the AAMMC! Monday, February 17, 2020

Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, 3207 Lakeshore Avenue

3:00 pm       A Nu Way: Creating Magical Melanated Spiritual & Safe Spaces (Hosted by Irene McCalphin)

3:45 pm       Manifesting from the Margins (Hosted by Irene McCalphin)


Self-Publishing – A Three Class Series at Eastmont

By Sumiko Saulson

Eastmont Branch, Oakland Public Library, 7200 Bancroft Avenue, Suite 211

Monday, February 10, 2020, 5-7 pm Preparing Book Interiors

Monday, February 24, 2020, 5-7 pm Exteriors, Covers, and Ads

Black Goth Takeover at Club Vantablack ($10)

Stork Club Oakland 2330 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, California

Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 9:00 pm – 1:30 am
Performances by M-Lamar, Stagefright, Protea and In Retrograde

Beyond Us: Black Minds in Horror ($10 per night)

Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA

Curator & Horror Host Crystal Connor
Sunday, February 17, 2020, 7 pm – 10pm, Special Guest Kevin Craig West

Monday, February 18, 2020, 7 pm -10pm, Special Guest Meosha Bean

Book Review: Buffy, Return to Chaos by Craig Shaw Gardner

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Return to Chaos
Reviewed by Sebastian Grimm

Buffy fans out there who are craving more Buffy, this will be a fair read. Not a masterpiece, but a good tale that flowed okay.

In Buffy universe context: No Spike, no Angel. Oz and Willow are together, as are Zander and Cordelia. Willow is the nerdy, giggly Willow we remember, so that is fun. Giles is Giles.

It seems like a normal time in Sunnydale when Willow and Giles come up with some weird computer program that can spit out possible dangers based upon what I’m not sure. It seems like they feed in past situations and magic book content and get a printout of what evil is coming. Sort of a much-less cooler Weird Science scenario. No Barbie, no missile. A printout. But the printout seems to confuse matters more than help. Meanwhile, an old Druid and his three young nephews, also Druids, come into town.

The three young guys are interesting and provide the Scooby gang with some playmates. Oz is interested in them because they may be able to cure or at least tame his werewolf nature. Zander likes them because they treat him like one of the cool guys he always wants to be. Buffy even gets to experience a little romantic chemistry with one of them. However, I tend to think of all of the guys as one entity. None of them really stood out as his own person. They came as a package deal. Three for the price of one sort of thing. 

The Druids coming to town was an interesting concept. There was never really anything like this in the show. The new vampire “Eric” was interesting but we didn’t see him too much. I wished there was more of him. I found the older Druid uninteresting. He was trying to do this top-secret mission and captures Willow and all, but his whole concept seemed out-dated and rudimentary. 

A side plot where Cordelia is under a vampire’s spell was weird and maybe not needed. Her ex-boyfriend, an undead quarterback who she affectionately refers to as a “muck monster” was odd and had no real resolution. An annoying cheerleader-turned-vamp was so annoying, I almost put the book down a few times. The vampire controlling the vampire (yes, it’s that confusing) could have been also combined with the annoying cheer girl because they were so similar.

There were a few interesting parts when the gang was together, doing what they do and making plans. I also enjoyed a particular spell occurring in the graveyard where Buffy is attacked by growing vines.

Overall, I missed Spike in this book because he could’ve added some much-needed comedy and coolness to the book. 

This is a 3 ☆☆☆ on the scale. For hungry Buffy fans, it will be a watered-down snack between the rewatching of the series. 

Sebastian Grimm signing off.

 

HA Movie Review: Crawl

Jaws meets Gatoroid in Alligator Eco-Terror Film Crawl

By Sumiko Saulson

Beautiful cinematography, over-the-top acting, and bad writing make the action-packed alligator horror-thriller Crawl seem like the bastard love-child of Steven Spielberg and Roger Corman.  Cormaneseque is an adjective coined to describe movies like the campy 2011 SyFy Made-For-TV Movie classic Mega Python vs. GatoroidCrawl manages to successfully blend the high-budget, high tension, fast-paced, action-packed jump scare a minute drama of eco-terror classics of the seventies like the 1975 Steven Spielberg classic Jaws with a decidedly Cormanesque plot.

Lush cinematographic values and convincing creature effects sell this frightening Florida monster masterpiece about giant, bloodthirsty, frighteningly coordinated packs of hungry gators hunting down college athlete Haley (Kaya Scodelario) and her backstage parent and semi-absentee father, Dave (Barry Pepper). While the special effects and camerawork are all on-point, they don’t completely make up for what the movie lacks in storyline and dialogue.

Dave tells his daughter, competitive swimmer Haley, she is an “apex predator, all the way.” The personal tagline resurfaces several times as she dives in and out of increasingly risky situations. Like her father, Haley is an impulsive risk-taker. That is why, when she finds out that Daddy has gone missing in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane, against all reason and sisterly advice, she runs right out there to save dear old Dad.

Haley finds Dad trapped in a flood-devastated basement with giant alligators circling. The basement area is called a crawlspace, and that, along with the creepy crawly critters that are snapping and biting at Dad, serves as inspiration for the title Crawl.

For about the first half an hour, this seems like a regular eco-terror film with normal alligators and everyday heroes. It’s just then that Haley, Dave, and the gators get progressively surreal and badass. At first, it’s just sort of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in Speed badassery, with Haley being Reeves and dear old miraculously still not dead Dad Dave as the Sandra Bullock damsel in distress badass. 

At this point, Sugar, an adorable fluffy family dog played by Cso-Cso, joins the cast.  From here on out, the film becomes a tense contest to see if Haley, the clear star, can escape with Dave and Sugar. We also cringe and wait to see if this adorable pup Sugar or badass, yet Refrigerator-Girl-Vibe-Dad Dave will die in a bold sacrificial act. Unlike the adorable dog, Dave is picking up injuries like Carl on the Walking Dead. The addition of the family dog slightly reduces the Dad-is-doomed cadence of the whole production.

Spoiler Alert… there is a gas station/liquor store robbery occurring during the trapped in the basement crawlspace scene. Without getting into the fate of America’s Dumbest Criminals, let’s just say, there is a speed boat involved in the heist. During the scene where Haley literally outruns alligators to capture the boat, the film escalates into territory so improbable and badass it’s bad, like Jaws 3D. The Jaws 3D level jump-scare to insanely unlikely outrunning of apex predators ration increases exponentially.

 Then, at some point, cinematic magic occurs. The film achieves an off-the-wall, roller coaster ride of improbability for the remainder of the film of such epic proportions that it seems more like the Evil Dead franchise or House in the Woods than a serious horror film. And guess what? Crawl really works as a parody of every eco-terror action-adventure horror ever. At this point, it’s achieved true greatness, where even the preposterous parts are so bad they’re good.  It gets more and more over the top until the Starship Troopers like ending, where you will swear that Haley is a superhero of some kind who stands for apex predator superiority, American ingenuity, truth, justice, and the American Way. Is it pandering? Or is it brilliant satire?

I give it Four of Five Stars 

(If it’s pandering and Five out of Five, if it’s the brilliant satire it at times, appears to be)