Check These Out : Available from A. Craig Newman

Our friend A. Craig Newman invites Horroraddicts.net readers to enjoy these books:

Modern Myths and Fairy Tales https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0864X2V64/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_L15GEbNQX7CKN

Four stories of sex, madness, magic, and murder:

CIrce’s Music Shop – Sorceress makes music with a mobster.
Randall’s Visit – A ghost interrupts a patient’s visit to his therapist.
Archer Nash – Archer says to the dead what he can’t seem to say to the living.
Dierste Hamelin and the Pied Piper – DIerste thought she was playing The Piper until it was time to pay him.

Wages of Sin

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848T49V4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_X25GEb6NCGGNB

Anne Marie Thomas and Tonya Jacobs are lovers who were caught in the act, a crime under the law of this warped future. Each will face unspeakable punishments designed to correct their errant behavior and adopt ways that will conform with society. Neither will ever be the same.

Burn

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084G7NYVL/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_n35GEbF1BGMR0

A lonely, heartbroken man’s world is afire. With the right drug, it freezes solid. In this drug-addled state, he goes home to confront the man who has taken his life.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

A. Craig Newman ~ Writer of short stories, screenplays, and poetry. Genres include horror, sci-fi, fantasy, action, comedy, and erotica. 

My Darling Dead: Bastards Episode 3/ Council Rules

Orteg’s favored tavern was situated in the forest proper. A small dirt road led from the stone-paved thoroughfare to its front doors, the road flanked by huge trees older than time itself. A bird familiar with cartography would see the tavern at the center of a hundred little paths wending their way towards it through the forest, like the center of a spider’s web. It was down one of these paths that Zavier and Orteg now walked, away from the main thoroughfare. 

Orteg gaped. “Who are you? How do you know of all this?”

“I am the son of the counsel to King Wendell, the wizard Sapius was my father and shared with me your entire pathetic history,” Zavier said, waving a hand impatiently. “I have long been searching for you to tell you this, and to tell you: you must be made king!

“When the princess Alasin, your half-sister, was born, she was the recipient of a dreadful curse by a fairy at her christening ceremony. As revenge against the king for two-timing the fairy, the princess was doomed to continually suffer the loss of the one she loved most, which, at the time, was the king. He died as a result and the steps the queen took to preserve her own life ultimately drove the princess mad, though she was none too stable, to begin with. 

“Alasin took a love potion before looking in the mirror beside her mother, and, falling in love with both of them, sealed their fate. The curse dispatched them that night but was never broken by her dying a natural death. Which is the plague, the rat creatures, rampant filth, all the side effects of the curse, are going to continue on and on until a new king is christened, properly. You are that king!”

Zavier halted, breathing heavily, staring at Orteg with hot, unblinking eyes.

“So…what am I supposed to do?” asked Orteg, feeling foolish. 

“You must get to the castle. The council which has attempted to govern in light of a real king will be gathered. In their presence, I will perform a spell which shall reveal your lineage. They will have no choice but to crown you king!” Zavier cried, spittle flying from his mouth in his ardor. “The entire kingdom will fall under your rule, with your divine right as Wendell’s heir a new era will come to the kingdom, one of lawful productivity rather than the dark squalor of insanity, a strong, new…”

They continued down the path, Zavier extolling the upcoming Orteg Era of the kingdom as its namesake listened in a daze, only catching half of what was being said. As the wizard’s voice began to fade, in the foliage of one of the branches looming over the forest path, what had once been a human female crawled from a tree limb. Her eyes glowed with a crazed fire and her matted hair was crusted with dirt and sticks. She had long ago lost the power of speech, but her subconscious retained enough of the language skills she had learned as a child to understand it. She knew the information she had heard would be worth something to the council, and that meant food. After waiting for the sound of footsteps to die away, she slithered headfirst down the tree and set off in the direction of the castle, giving the two men a wide berth. 

The Honorable Prefect Mosh Barris sat at the head of the long council table in the courtroom of the castle, pulled up to the table as close as his ample stomach would allow. Three of his six chins wobbled as he chewed the mouthful of roast oxen with relish. Six men sat to his left and six women sat to his right, making up the government of the kingdom. All were well-fed, though none so well-fed as Barris himself, all were wearing wigs and all were staring down their noses at the little man cringing before them, wringing a filthy hat in his equally filthy hands.

“Farmer Ellis,” Barris rumbled after swallowing, taking care to keep the smile from his meaty features, “The effects of the rat creatures upon your farm is not the concern of this council. The pestilence is your responsibility to control to the best of your ability and is not to interfere with your tithings. Therefore, your request for an extension on your land tax is denied.” 

“But… Your Honor, my entire family has been taken by the pox or the rat plague. It is only me to care for them all and to maintain the farm.” Tears were coursing down his gaunt cheeks as he fell to his knees, beseeching each member of the council in turn. “I beg of you, have mercy.”

“Exceptions cannot be made,” said the woman immediately to Barris’s right. “Any exception would result in the same request being made a thousandfold.”

“Quite right, Agathas,” said Barris, favoring her with a thick-lipped smile. “At any rate, the kingdom needs taxes, not excuses. You may go, Ellis.”

The farmer got to his feet and jammed his hat on his head. Turning to go, he was halfway to the door, before he spun around and threw his hat to the ground.

“Barris! You and your council of toads are nothing but bloated bags of gas feeding on the misfortunes of others! May you one day face the same mercy you have shown!” Ellis shouted, his voice shrill. “There will be others, and before long, you will be buried by them! Selfish pigs—”

“BAILIFF!” screamed Barris, crashing to his feet, his own large features turning a dark purple. “Take this man away and execute him for treason! To speak against the governing faction of the kingdom is to speak against the kingdom itself.” He slumped back in his chair, breathing heavily. 

Before Ellis could react, his arms had been pinioned behind his back by a hulking man in a gray smock who had been standing unnoticed in the corner. The hulking man gave a sharp jerk upward and a wet popping sound filled the room as the farmer’s arm was broken from its socket. Ellis screamed still louder. The woman Agathas watched with rising color of her own, her tongue moistening her lips. Barris could feel himself getting aroused. 

“On second thought, bailiff,” Barris said with a grin, watching Agathas. “Execute him here, for our amusement.”

Ellis began to blubber through his tears and screams, begging and pleading, words about his family, sick and dying without him. The hulking man stunned him with a rap to the back of the head. “As you wish, sir. Would you like it to be quick, or slow?”

Barris looked at Agathas and raised his eyebrows inquisitively. 

“Slowly,” she said. Her hand was already between her legs and her breathing ragged. “But not too slowly.” 

 

 

HOW Con: New 2020 Workshops!

If you can’t take time out to be part of the Live Shout Box Events happening at the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 25-27 never fear! Our forum based conference has numerous workshop for your Publishing, Writing, and yes, Horror inspirations!

In addition to our Previous Articles and Video Panels from last year that attendees can still access, New Workshops for our 2020 Conference include:

Speculative Author Diane Arrelle Interview

Using the Imagination Game to Inspire Ideas by Emerian Rich

How to World and Character Build in Horror by Charles F. French

What to do When Real Life Interferes with Writing by Kristin Battestella

Back to Basics: Writing Prompts Like We’re 10 Video Exercise

10 Things to Remember when Planning a Writing Event

How to Plan Workshops and Oral Presentations

And MORE!

Remember to Sign up and Log in so you can experience all HOW has to offer! 

#HOWCon 2020: Live Shout Box Events!

It’s that time of year again! Time for the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference! Take a little winter time out with us February 25-27 at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/ to focus on YOUR writing thanks to our writing articles, author interviews, and publisher how-tos. Browse at your leisure regardless of time zone or pajamas, or join HOW for our Live Shout Box Chats featuring noted editors and horror authors!

 

Here’s the Schedule for our Live Shout Box Events:

Tuesday, February 25 8 p.m. est/ 5 p.m. pst HOW Shout Box Welcome Party

Tuesday, February 25 9 p.m. est/ 6 p.m pst NGHW Winner Jonathan Fortin.  Jonathan is a winner of The Next Great Horror Writer Contest. His LILITU: THE MEMOIRS OF A SUCCUBUS will be available on March 27th, 2020, on both Paperback and Kindle. It’s being published by the award-winning horror publisher Crystal Lake Publishing. Visit www.facebook.com/pg/JonathanFortinAuthor for more!

Wednesday, February 26 12 noon to 1 p.m. est / 9 a.m. pst Horror Author Charles F. French. Charles is a college professor and the author of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1; Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2; The Investigative Paranormal Society Cookbook; and French On English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays. For more information about Charles visit
www.charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com

Wednesday, February 26 9 p.m. est/ 6 p.m. pst Naching T. Kassa Chilling Chat Hostess and HorrorAddicts.net Publishing Editor

Thursday, 2 p.m. est 11 a.m. pst Horror Author Nancy Kilpatrick. Nancy has been a 4 time Bram Stoker Award finalist, a 7 time Aurora Award finalist, a 2 time Paris Book Festival winner for anthologies, the ForeWord Reviewers Award silver winner for collections, the winner of the Murder, Mayhem & the Macabre award; The Standing Stone short fiction winner award; Interzon winner; and winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for best mystery story. For more information, visit nancykilpatrick.com/

Thursday, 12 est 9 p.m. pst Shout Box Late Night Finale Party

See you at #HOWCON2020!

Mocha Memoirs Press : Tell Your Story Regardless

Telling Your Story Regardless
by Nuzo Onoh

A while ago, a lovely literary agent had this to say about my manuscript when I contacted him for representation. It is impressively wrought and fully realized. I am sorry to say that I don’t have a clear vision for how to break it out in a very crowded and challenging market for fiction.

Ouch! Needless to say, I was gutted by the rejection. Without him telling me, I knew without vanity that my story was indeed impressively wrought and fully realised, but just like several other agents before him had stated, they all lacked the courage to take on something so different from the current market trend, that it was simply easier to pass.

Did I sit down and fold my hands and cry, chuck my manuscript into a drawer and leave it to collect dust and wallow in hopeless despair? Hell no! What I’ve done is take control of my writing and my destiny. I knew I had a story to tell, a rich African culture to share with a wider audience through the medium of horror.

Growing up, my earliest African horror influence was a book by Amos Tutuola titled, The Palmwine Drinkard. The book was a brilliant narrative of folklore, told in the authentic pidgin English of the average uneducated Nigerian, and it resonated so much with me that I knew I wanted to write and tell my own story, one laced with African lore but embodying all the modern elements of a good horror story. I wanted to write African ghost stories, supernatural narratives that will induce feelings of dread, suspense, terror, revulsion and shock, stories that are unsettling and unexpected, yet showcasing African culture and lore.

In time, as I started discovering other works of regional horror, from Japanese horror to Scandinavian horror, I realised there was no market for African horror in the literary field, even though there were a few results for African horror film, thanks mainly to the Nigerian Nollywood industry and the South African horror film fest. It wasn’t because Africans weren’t writing horror; rather, it was simply because no African writer had opted to market their work under that genre. Worse, the popular press had already cannibalised the phrase so negatively, that a google search for African Horror inevitably came up with negative results about the African continent, covering stories about wars, famine, Aids and every other evil they could report. Needless to say, similar or worse events taking place in Europe and America were never covered under the heading of American Horror, British Horror or Spanish Horror etc.

So, when I started writing my stories, I decided to reclaim that heading and turn the phrase, “African Horror” into something horrifically positive. Firstly, I set up my own publishing company, Canaan-Star Publishing, UK. I had no idea about publishing. It wasn’t one of the things we were taught during my masters degree programme in Writing. But I was determined to tell my story nonetheless and so, spent endless hours poring over internet articles on publishing and marketing.

My first African Horror book, The Reluctant Dead, was finally published in 2014 and I undertook a vigorous marketing strategy using the phrase, African Horror” for my book’s category. It worked. By the time I’d published my third book, The Sleepless, in 2016, not only was my name coming up in google searches, but other African writers were now using the same category to market their work! I have since been invited several times to either give talks, deliver lectures or contribute to anthologies by people who googled the phrase, African Horror and discovered my name.

My journey is not over yet. My story is not done yet. I still have many characters begging me to tell their stories, to bring them to life in the pages of a book. My stories may not be commercially viable for agents to represent, but as long as I have a story to tell, I will continue writing. The good news for me is that today, almost 6 years since I first wrote and published my first African Horror book, and despite the fact that I’ve not carried out any promotions or published a book in two years due to some health problems, my books continue to sell and my desire to share my unique story remains as strong as ever. This just shows that a good story will always connect with someone, somewhere, somehow.

So, if you have a story to tell, if you hear the voices of those characters who won’t give you any rest till you tell their stories, then just write. Just write regardless of rejections, regardless of financial constraints, regardless of self-doubt and regardless of the commercial market. Just write because if you don’t, you’ll never know what could have happened if you’d taken the risk and followed your dream.


Nuzo Onoh is a British Writer of African descent. Popularly known as The Queen of African Horror, Nuzo is the writer of horror fiction from the African continent. Her works have featured in multiple anthologies and magazines, promoting her unique genre, African Horror. Nuzo holds both a law degree and a Masters Degree in Writing from The University of Warwick, England. She lives in Coventry, from where she runs her own publishing company, Canaan-Star Publishing. Now recognised as the front-runner of African Horror, Nuzo is the author of the bestseller, Unhallowed Graves, a collection of African ghost stories, amongst other works. Her books are available from Amazon.

February Theme : Black Horror/Women in Horror/ Horror Online Writers Conference

February promises to be a full month here at HorrorAddics.net!

First, for Black Horror History Month, we have special guests, Mocha Memoirs Press.

Mocha Memoirs Press is a publisher whose mission statement reads: We believe representation in speculative fiction (science fiction, horror, fantasy) is not only important but a necessity. We publish engaging stories that amplify diverse experiences with vivid storytelling, robust protagonists, and fearless voices.

We here at HorrorAddicts.net enjoy bringing diverse voices to you, but this month, we reach further to find out more about black history that maybe you did not know. Not only will we have articles from some of the authors of Mocha Memoirs Press, but we’ll also have historical pieces by returning authors.

Second, as you may know, February is also Women in Horror Month. We’ll be exploring some of the women horror writers that you’ve come to enjoy, as well as some you may not have encountered before.

To round out the month, our very own Kbatz has created the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writer’s Conference (HOWcon) from Feb 25th-27th. To find out more, got to: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net

We hope you have a very spooky Valentine’s Day and enjoy our February month exploration.

~Nox

Blog Editor

It Came From the Vault: Traditions by Stephen Kozeniewski

vault

TRADITIONS

by Stephen Kozeniewski 

Granny clattered on the counter with a wooden spoon until the children stopped squabbling. When they finally turned to pay attention, she smiled, baring each and every bright white denture with joy.

“All right, little nuggets,” she said, “Now granny is going to show you what to do. Come up here.”

She lifted two-year-old Benji and planted him on the counter beside the sheer metal stockpot that was almost as tall as him.

“Now, Benji, this wax is very hot so don’t put your fingers in it and don’t splash.”

“Yes, grandma.”

“Now start to feed the coil in slowly and let me know when you run out of length.”

Giggling, Benji did as he was told.

“Granny, why do we wax the decorations?” little Suzie asked, her pinky hooked into the corner of her mouth.

“So that they last, my dear.”

“And why do we want them to last?”

Granny crouched down to Suzie’s level, even though it pained her ankles.

“Because it’s a tradition, my dear.”

Little Suzie’s eyes lit up with the wonder of excitement and recognition.

“A t’adition?”

Granny nodded.

“Like when we invite a homeless person in for Christmas?”

“That’s right.”

“All done!” Benji announced, clinging to the last link of this year’s holiday visitor’s small intestine.

Together, as they did every year, they draped the wax-dipped organ around their tree of horrors. The attic was starting to overflow with their collection of decorations.

“God bless us every one,” Benji said joyously.

******************

Kozeniewski Author PhotoStephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. Find out more at: www.amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

My Darling Dead: Episode 12/The Fairy’s Return

For years, Hespa had been plagued by stories of the rat people. She had forbidden their mention in her court, but updates and rumors still flew through the castle in spite of (or perhaps because of) her edict. She knew, for example, that the rat people were taking over her kingdom at an astonishing rate, replacing her subjects with feral monstrosities which fed on death and decay and were eager to spread their disease. She knew that the rat people now outnumbered those not so afflicted and that within weeks if not sooner she would be the head of a kingdom consisting of nothing but rat people. Already several had been found inside the walls of the castle, one of them only a few floors down from her private chambers. Hespa shuddered and drained the wine from the glass she held. She extended her arm and immediately the empty glass was replaced with a full one by her handmaiden. 

“Leave me,” the queen snapped. The handmaiden was happy to do so.

Hespa also knew that the humans still under her rule were muttering and that their mutterings had grown loud enough to be heard clearly by spies and castle guards. The word “rebellion” had not yet been uttered, but any fool could tell that it was on the minds of many. Hespa had witnessed castle guardsmen holding her eye contact longer than was proper, staring back at her insolently until she was forced to drop her own eyes, hating herself as she did so. She had never felt so vulnerable as these past months, surrounded by inhuman things and resented by those in whose hands she placed her life. 

The mid-morning sun reflected from the armor of the guard on duty at the front gate of the castle. He belched and squinted into the sun, straining to discern mirage from reality as a figure approached the castle gate. Or was it two figures? No, just one. 

No…

His eyes widened. 

“Halt and be–”

Esemli raised her left hand and the guard was thrown into the nearest wall with such force that his breaking bones were heard hundreds of feet away. He screamed and she winced. 

“No,” she said, and waved her hand again. The guard continued screaming but no noise came out, eyes bulging as he attempted to cradle his broken parts and give voice to his hurts. The other guards stampeded each other trying to get out of Esemli’s way. She swept through the gate and past them without a look. In her right hand she held a leash and to her leash was attached one of the rat people, a woman who had perhaps once been plump but now appeared emaciated to the point of death. 

Her skin was caked with filth and blood was smeared around her mouth. Her clothes were rags, held together mostly by luck. Her eyes darted this way and that and she never seemed to stop licking her lips. Part of her bottom lip was gone from a time when the woman had been so desperate for meat that she had begun eating her own face. Half of her teeth grinned through her cheek at anybody who looked at her. On all fours, she scuttled behind Esemli like a dog which has been beaten often enough to fear its master but not often enough to attempt escape. 

Esemli did not appear even to notice the creature in her wake. She mounted the stairs to the queen’s chamber with the rat woman at her heels. Raising her left hand, the queen’s chamber door slammed open with such force that the metal handle cracked the stone wall. Hespa whirled as Esemli let the leash go and snapped a word in a strange language that meant nothing to the queen, but the rat woman clearly understood. Still on all fours, she made straight for the queen, a horrifying grin etched on what remained of her features as she snapped her teeth. 

Hespa was frozen only for a moment before countless hours on self defense spent with Bortix the Captain of the Guard leapt to the forefront of her mind. The queen whirled, seizing a long metal spike from beside her window and as the rat woman leaped, Hespa extended her arm and set her feet. The rat woman collided with the spike, the force of her attack impaling her upon the spike through one of her crazed rolling eyes. 

The fairy laughed. “Well done, Queen Hespa. Perhaps you should be standing guard over your castle rather than the bumbling fools currently there.” 

Hespa did not hear. Her eyes were locked on the rat woman’s face, overcome with horror as the woman’s eye ran down her hollow cheek. She had heard of the rat people, yes, but she had never seen one, much less this close. The humanity she could still detect beneath the dirt and waste was worst of all. Now that the woman was dead, Hespa could see the peasant woman who had once resided behind those eyes. Her face was relaxed, her eyes no longer rolling. But for the spike through her eye and half her lip being gone, she could have been asleep. 

Esemli closed the door behind her. “Queen Hespa, you forget your manners. I have brought you a gift, the least you could do is offer me some of your wine.”

This time, the words sunk in. Hespa tore her eyes from the rat woman with an effort and dropped the spike. “Fairy, your presence here is less welcome than the plague. I would sooner spit in your face than offer you wine.” Pasting a sneer on her face, Hespa moved to where her goblet stood and drained it before refilling it from the crystal decanter. 

A flicker of annoyance flashed across Esemli’s face and she moved her left hand, ever so slightly. The decanter overbalanced and splashed wine all over the queen. Hespa swore and drained what was left in the decanter before throwing it out the window in a blind fury that abated as she heard the crystal smash on the stones far below. She did not look at the fairy, sipping her wine from the goblet as she wrestled back control. 

“Decades I have been gone from your eye,” Esemli said, her voice quiet but with an intensity Hespa could hear across the room. “But I have not been gone from this realm. I have watched your daughter grow from innocent child to petulant woman, never able to love her mother because you have made it impossible. I have witnessed your subjects regress and devolve until the wisest of them is merely a few steps above yonder wretch.” She gestured at the rat woman’s body which lay in a puddle of her own blood, eyes still open, one staring at the spike which had impaled its mate. “Your husband’s disrespect was not forgotten and as your daughter was cursed, so was the entire kingdom, to descend slowly into bestial madness. The suffering of the monarchy and the collapse of the kingdom have been a pleasure to behold for all of my kind.” The fairy laughed. 

“Why did you bring that…creature, Esemli?” Hespa asked, staring at her kingdom. 

“Bringing you what hath been wrought, Your Highness,” the fairy said, and sank into a deep and mocking curtsey which was wasted on the impassive queen. “This is one of your subjects with all the trappings of décor stripped away, exposed for what they are. Nothing but a pathetic, slavering, mewling–”

The door slammed open behind Esemli. Her eyes widened and she was halfway through turning toward the door before Princess Alasin’s poisoned dagger buried itself in the fairy’s throat. The blood which spurted from the wound was not precisely red but nearly purple and seemed almost to glow. 

The queen turned just in time to see her daughter lunge through the door. The goblet of wine fell from Hespa’s numb fingers. Her feet seemed rooted to the spot. Her glass shattered on the stone floor as the fairy fell, her throat gushing strange blood.

Esemli sank to her knees, one hand reaching to the handle in her throat. The glowing purple blood coated her fingers and she grimaced as she touched the blade. 

“Guh…” she said and wrapped her fingers around the handle sticking out of her throat. She pulled, the sound of the blade sliding through her flesh sending the queen’s skin crawling as fresh gouts of blood poured from her mouth. “Guh…” she said again, her hand dropping from the handle with the blade still buried in her throat. 

“Isss… too…toooooo…” she said, her words obscured by the blood which flowed, faster now, out of her mouth. The color was draining from her face. “Toooooo…” she moaned and fell forward. She landed on the handle of the dagger and with a horrid squelching sound the point of the blade stabbed out the opposite side of her neck. 

My Darling Dead: Episode 5 – The Suitor

Prince Heyworth had come from the kingdom of Duyuwan, over a hundred leagues away, in troll country. He had grown into a tall strong man and had made quite a name for himself in his home kingdom thumping trolls before turning his attention to a far more unwinnable prize: the princess Alasin of Dandoich. Over a dozen suitors had left the kingdom with their hearts in tatters after attempting to tame the princess. Heyworth had been at the task for a week and was unable to admit, even to himself, that his goal was likely to be a doomed one.

The first night, he had arrived to a feast in his honor. The queen had seated Heyworth and Alasin together and, installing herself on his other side, proceeded with an interview clearly meant to highlight his virtues to the sullen princess to his right who was doodling on a scrap of parchment with a quill she had brought to the table. The queen continued in this vein for some time, making it difficult for Heyworth to consume any amount of food set before him, he was so occupied with his narrative. By the end of the feast, the princess had met his eyes once, and she retired early to her bedchamber without inviting him to join her. Each night had ended thus, and he felt as though he had spent the week trying to woo a brick wall.

Now it was approaching the evening meal and he had not laid eyes upon his target since that morning when, in response to his inquiry, she had curtly told him she was going out and would be back later. He had spent the day wandering the castle, yet again. He had gathered some knowledge from questioning the farrier as to the shoeing preferences of the castle’s horses, admired the swords in the armory and endured a highly uncomfortable tea with the queen, at which she had hinted extensively that any prince worth his salt should have her daughter smitten by now. He was just about to go up to the tallest tower and start counting the trees he could see through the gathering dusk in the distant forest when he heard the lookout’s shout.

“Princess Alasin returns! Have open the gates!”

An unconscious set to his jaw, Heyworth strode to the battlements overlooking the gate, watching the princess’s litter draw closer up the roadway leading to the castle. He tapped his fingers, glancing to the sunset. Nine hours she had been gone.

If he was to win her, he would have to instill respect.

He started down from the battlements as the drawbridge clanked down, the gate clanked up, then the process reversed itself as the litter came to a stop in its accustomed place near the stable. Without delay, the litter bearers dispersed, eager to put as much distance between themselves and its inhabitant as possible. As Heyworth stood there, waiting for the princess to emerge, he could hear a loud sniffing sound, as though one were sampling the fragrance of a good meal. No sooner had the sound dissipated than the Princess Alasin emerged, eyes streaming and a manic grin on her face that only fell slightly when she beheld him.

“Hey…it’s you…Haystack, am I right?” Alasin giggled, nearly losing her balance as she stepped down from the litter.

Heyworth reached out a hand to steady her. “Princess…please allow me to assist you.” He stepped forward, intending to put an arm about her waist. She pushed him away.

“No touching! Seriously, Haystack, I require no assistance. Please leave me.”

He caught her by the upper arm, tightening his grip so she could not pull away. “Well, my lady, I would like an explanation where you have been lo these many hours with no word of your whereabouts to your mother or suitor.” His grip tightened further.

Alasin snorted, her gaze sharpening. “I’m not sure who you think you are, by the gods, but I owe my mother nothing, and you less than that. Unhand me this instant!”

Heyworth felt a minor explosion in his chest as rage flooded through him. He grabbed her other arm. “That is all the disrespect I will tolerate from you, princess or no!” Digging his meaty fingers in, he pulled her toward the door leading to the castle’s sleeping quarters he was currently occupying. Alasin scratched and bit but Heyworth’s muscles had grown up fighting trolls and she was dragged, cursing, up the stairs toward his bedchamber. Fight though she did, the thought of screaming never entered her mind.

Slamming his chamber door behind them, Heyworth threw her from him, sending her flying across the room and knocking her head into one of the four poster bed’s pillar. She sat down hard, swaying. The world swam before her as the rug beneath the bed came into focus. She could see clumps of dust clinging to the fibers and she thought dazedly, must remember to thrash the cleaners for that.

She heard the sound of panting, like a dog’s. He was breathing fast as his hands worked his belt buckle and there was an ugly glint to his eyes. “Need a lesson in manners,” he muttered as he jerked the belt from his pant loops and adjusted himself. “Respect. Deference. You WILL give them to me.” Snapping the belt between his balled fists, he started toward her. “Princess, I regret that you’ve made me do this, but if you just–”

He stopped, mid-stride, narrowed eyes taking in the small blade poised to throw in Alasin’s hand from where she crouched on the floor beside the bed frame. Now she rose to her feet, keeping the blade leveled at him.

“Listen, cretin,” she said flatly, her breathing rapid, “the only reason you are not dead where you stand is that the fact of your death would benefit me less than your survival. Depart from here immediately and never darken the land near me for the remainder of your days. I am the princess of the realm and I have spoken. Now depart, before I am forced to end you regardless of the ramifications.”

Heyworth licked his lips, feeling the blood drain a little from his loins. The belt drooped. He attempted a sneer. “You’re just a princess. You haven’t got what it takes.” He stood a little taller to enhance his stature. “I have single-handedly slain more trolls and enemies than I can recall if–”

“Listen to me Heyworth,” Alasin said, stepping closer to him, her teeth bared. “You have no idea of who I am, nor what I am capable of. I suggest you leave, before I show you. You have no more warnings.” Her eyes never left his.

In other circumstances, this may have worked. But Heyworth’s trollish pride had been wounded, and the ugly look returned to his head. A grin that may have been a leer appeared on his face. He raised the belt and took a step closer as well. “Listen here, brat, wave that knife of yours in my face and your mother–”

Quicker than the eye could follow, an expression of fury flashed across Alasin’s face and letting out a scream, her arm flicked out and she cut his throat as deeply as she could, scraping her knife on his vertebrae. Blood spurted across her face and she wiped it from her eyes as Heyworth sank to the floor, dropping his belt and clawing at his throat as though he could mend the damage she had done. Alasin smirked as she sank to her knees, her eyes following those of the dying Prince Heyworth, waving the blade in front of his face as it drained of color.

“I told you, pig,” she hissed, wiping the knife on Heyworth’s cheek, leaving a bloody smear and a fresh gash as the keen blade kissed his cheek. “I owe my mother nothing.”

She pushed him and he fell backward, striking his head hard against the stone floor. Dazed and struggling for breath, he sank back, his view of the ceiling impeded by the large dark circles that had begun to spin in the forefront of his vision. He remembered hearing rumors throughout the kingdom that the princess carried a poison blade. He had discounted it as just the rumors of common folk. Now as the dark circles claimed him, for the first time, he wondered if he could have been wrong…

“Princess! Princess Alasin!”

The door crashed open. Alasin looked up to see three of the castle guards struggling to be the first through the door. The first guard came forward, uncertainty on his features. “Lady, the wizard bade us come to aid with the greatest of speed. Do you require assistance?”

She rose to her feet, looking disdainfully down at the dead prince. “Yes,” Alasin said, and prodded Heyworth’s corpse with her foot. “Remove this from the castle and inform the queen that her latest suitor is rejected.” She felt the bottle hanging between her breasts and her pulse quickened in anticipation as she hurried out the door.

The three guards looked at each other and at the body on the floor of the bedchamber. Together, the two older guards looked at the youngest. The eldest guard gestured at the corpse as they took their hasty leave of the room.

“Mind you soak up the blood after you move him.”

Guest Blog: From Beast to Man and Back Again

From Beast To Man And Back Again by John C. Adams

Evolutionary impulses drag us back to when we came. Whether we like it or not, they’re always there. There’s only so much we can do to fight against them. We both hope and fear that the natural human impulse to regress will take over. Even worse, in horror fiction, modern science seems to be getting in on the act.

In the 1984 film The Company of Wolves (dir: Neil Jordan), the childhood tale of Little Red Riding Hood is given a modern makeover. Red drifts into the forest and meets a handsome stranger, whereupon Granny’s advice goes right out the window. Well, sexual appetite does that to you. It’s a shame that Red can’t remember the cautionary element of Granny’s werewolf tale, as Angela Lansbury is quick to point out: not to trust a man who’s too proud to piss into a chamber pot. Let’s just say that in Granny’s tale the young bride’s new husband answers the Call of Nature in more sense than one.

The prime mover of sexual appetite is as good a reason to junk steady adult advice as any.

Fairy stories and folk tales abound with examples of spontaneous changes in shape from man to beast and back again. Those old tales are so central to our cultural identity, developed over hundreds of years in writing and for much longer before that via the oral tradition, that it’s no surprise that they are still cropping up in films and TV today.

If it’s natural for us to long to return to our genetic origins, it’s no surprise that modern science isn’t slow in embracing the opportunities to engineer this for us. And big business being what it is, the profit motive lies right at the heart of it.

In Graham Masterton’s novel Flesh and Blood, the Spellman Institute of Genetics is conducting experiments to implant human genetic material into pigs. Animal rights activists have plenty to say on that subject and are lobbying for a US-wide law banning testing on animals. The pig research (Masterton says his wife always called this book ‘the pig novel’) becomes a cause celebre for them. The pig, Captain Black, is as terrifying as you’d expect:

“His body was awesome enough, but his face made Nathan swallow in discomfort. It was more like the face of a giant werewolf than a hog: it was covered all over in thick glossy black hair, with a hideously flattened snout. Two curved incisors rose from his lower jaw, and strings of drool swung with every step he took.”

Mankind just can’t seem to help themselves from meddling in the mix of human and animal DNA when there’s a commercial excuse for it. But in the 2009 film Splice (dir: Vincenzo Natali) the insanity of experimentation mixing human with animal DNA reaches new heights when two leading scientists splice the DNA of a bird with that of a human. Yikes!

As a species, we are so prone to egotism that we want to be the ones to push the boundaries of creation. Like modern-day Dr. Frankensteins, it’s all about power over the hideous monstrosities we generate.

Like any form of meddling, the best lesson of all is just to leave well enough alone. If only it were that simple…

John C Adams is a horror and fantasy writer. ‘Souls For The Master‘ is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Short Bio

John C Adams is a Contributing Editor for the Aeon Award and Albedo One Magazine, and a Reviewer with Schlock! Webzine.

You can read John’s short fiction in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, and many others. 

A non-binary gendered writer, John has also had fiction published in The Horror Zine, Devolution Z magazine and many other smaller magazines.

John’s fantasy novel ‘Aspatria’ and futuristic horror novel Souls for the Master are both available on Kindle and via Smashwords.

John lives in rural Northumberland, UK, and is a non-practising solicitor.

Irish Horror Writers Interview With Sean Murray

Irish Horror Writers Month – An Interview with Sean Murray

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country?

Hello, my name is Sean Murray and I am from New York.

What is your connection to Irish Heritage?

My family is from Cork.   I live far away in the US.  I haven’t visited yet, but I plan on it!

 

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing at the age of 14, short stories and lyrics. The themes usually leaned heavily toward the macabre.  After writing many songs for bands such as HERSISTER and Black Cat Sessions, I switched gears and began writing screenplays.

Why write Horror?

I’ve been a fan of the genre since I was a kid. In all forms:  movies, books, magazines and beyond.  I write other stuff as well, but horror is my usual output.  I’ve always been drawn to explore the darkness.

What inspires you to write?

Ideas flow through my head all the time, I’m not sure what it is that makes me write, but just being alive is inspiring. I don’t know why I feel the need to write stuff out,  I just do it.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

I feel that is connected in ways that are really hard to explain, but yeah. Certain characters and settings are based on my personal cultural experiences.

What scares you?

What scares me most is the fragility of life. How any one of us can go at any given time.  Life can change in the course of a second, and to me that is terrifying.

Who is your favorite author?

Mary Shelley. Frankenstein was emotionally brutal.  For me that’s where horror works best-when it’s emotionally driven.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I write everyday, usually at night. I get ideas all the time, and I let them spin throughout my mind over the course of the day.  When I hit the keyboard in the evening, I refine those ideas.  For me the process is pretty smooth, as I’ve already worked the idea out in my head.

Tell us about your current projects.

Interment – a horror film, currently in post production, which will be released later in the year. This film is also my directorial debut.

Unto Decease – currently filming.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

Interment , which will be released in April, 2019. This is a horror film which was                                                   produced by MDMN Films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt865664

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Sean Murray is an actor/writer-director from upstate NY.  Early roles in horror films such as “Sociopathia”, and When Blackbirds Fly” led to a desire to work behind the camera as well as in front of it.  After serving as assistant director on the films “A Line Between All Things”, and “Crush”, Sean focused on directing.  The feature film “Interment” is Sean’s directorial debut, and will be released later this year!

Chilling Chat: 4 Quick Questions with Naching T. Kassa, Daphne Strasert, and Jess Landry

chillingchat

Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She also serves as Head of Publishing for HorrorAddicts.net and as an intern for Crystal Lake Publishing. She lives in Eastern Washington with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

Daphne Strasert is a horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction writer from Houston, Texas. She has been published in several anthologies including Crescendo of Darkness and Postcards from the Void. 

Jess Landry’s fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Fantastic Tales of Terror, Monsters of Any Kind, Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road, and the forthcoming Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles, among others.

1) What did you learn from participating in the contest?IMG_1979

NTK: I learned so much from the contest. Most of which is detailed in my little op-ed in the book. But, if I had to pick one thing it would be learning how to submit a novel for a publisher’s consideration.

DS: The Next Great Horror Writer Contest was my first time making short stories. I learned about keeping my writing tight and making sure that my stories had no extra fluff that they didn’t need–especially for a short story that really needs to keep the tension high.  I learned how to proof my writing (especially on a deadline) and make sure that I was submitting my absolute best work.

JL: As cheesy as it sounds, I learned that if I put my mind into something, I can do it. It was daunting at first—we basically had 1-2 weeks per assignment to whip out a smorgasbord of different stories…albeit not all at once, but still. My brain can pretty much only concentrate on one idea at a time, so the struggle was real, y’all.

2) Would you do it again? What would you do differently?

NTK: I wish I could. I loved the challenges and I miss them. Receiving an assignment from Emz was like the prelude to a writing adventure. Unfortunately, I won’t participate in another #NGHW contest. As a staff member of HorrorAddicts.net, I’d have to recuse myself from it. But, even if I weren’t part of HA, I couldn’t do it. I had my chance. It’s time to step aside and let others step up. I’d love to be a judge though.

As to what I’d do differently, researching more comes to mind. Some of my work suffered because I didn’t know what to write. I’d never written a full blog piece before. If I’d been smart, I’d have gone to the HorrorAddicts.net website and studied the pieces they’d accepted in the past. This is a big mistake we writers make. We submit to magazines, anthologies, and publishers without studying what they produce.

Daphne StrasertDS: I would do the contest again in a heartbeat, if HorrorAddicts.net would let me (though I’m sure they’d rather have a whole new batch of newbies!). Maybe if the contest runs again, I could act as a judge or a writing mentor.

For what I would do differently, I would spend more time prepping my novel through the duration of the contest. When I was lucky enough to present to Crystal Lake, I wished that I’d had more time. Even if I hadn’t been in the top three, the work on the novel never would have gone to waste.

JL: Heck yes. It was a great all-around experience, and – most importantly – it got me writing. A lot of the work I created during the contest has gone on to find wonderful homes, so I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.

3) What inspired your piece?

NTK: Like most of my ideas, it came out of the blue while I washed dishes. Dishes are boring. So boring, I have to distract myself with stories to get through them.

I think I was washing a big pot with spaghetti noodles stuck to the bottom when Father Lopez’s character came to me. But, I could be wrong. It might’ve been macaroni.

DS: “Audio Addict” was inspired, in part, by the Crescendo of Darkness prompt itself Jess Landrywhere it mentioned “the lack of music”. That inspired the idea of a world in which there was no music, or at least, not pervasive the way it is in our world. Once I hit on the idea of music as an illicit commodity, the structure of “Audio Addict” was almost fully formed.

JL: Wesley Snipes. In particular an interview with Patton Oswalt where he said that during the filming of Blade: Trinity, that Mr. Snipes stayed in character the whole time, even signing notes he had for the director of the film as ‘Blade.’ I thought, hell, if he’s that in character, does he keep his teeth in when he goes to sleep? Or when he goes out to get gelato? Wouldn’t he want something with a little…sparkle? From that train of thought, FangBlingz was born.

4) What does the future hold for you? What do we have to look forward to?

NTK: I’m editing an anthology called, Dark Divinations, for HorrorAddicts.net. We’re accepting submissions until Halloween. Each story must be set in the Victorian age (1837-1901) and involve some element of divination.

I have a few stories coming out too. My story, “War Beads,” will appear in the Dead Light Publishing anthology, Not Just a Pretty Face. “Phantom Caller” will appear in Kill Switch. And, “Second Strike,” will be published in the anthology Dark Transitions by Thirteen O’clock Press.

nghwedpsmDS: I have a few stories slated to come out in 2019, including one for the HorrorAddicts.net anthology Kill Switch. I will also be completing a mystery novel and submitting to publishers.

JL: The future is full of deadlines, glorious deadlines. I have several new stories scheduled for some awesome anthologies coming out later this year (my lips are sealed on the specific details!), and one of my short stories, “Mutter” (from Crystal Lake Publishing’s Fantastic Tales of Terror), has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Short Fiction category, which is exciting (beyond exciting, really. I’m just trying to contain myself).

You can find Naching on Facebook and Twitter.

Jess can be found on Facebook.

Irish Horror Author : Emerian Rich

 

 Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Emerian Rich

Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country?

I am Emerian Rich and I live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. I write Horror, Romance, and ever so often SciFi. I’m the Horror Hostess for HorrorAddicts.net and am also an artist, graphic designer, and book designer.

What is your connection to Irish Heritage?

I am 5 generations from the cross-over, but it’s a part of our heritage we’ve kept pretty close with it.

 

Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from?

County Down in Northern Ireland.

Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?

No and no. It’s one of my live goals to travel there.

How and when did you start writing?

I started writing stories when I was in Middle School. I had received a journal for Christmas. I started writing about my own life, but by half-way through I was so bored of my own life, I decided to write how I wished my life would be. This new me got to go on adventures, solve crime, and experience things I could only dream of. My first novel was when I was 13. 89 pages of big, bubbly cursive in pencil on white, lined notebook paper. However, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until in my 20’s.

Why write Horror?

There’s something special about a story when it can horrify you and make you feel safe at the same time. I enjoy creating stories and characters that people can experience horrific situations through without leaving the comfort of their reading nook. Most people’s lives are nice and safe—which we want them to be—but there isn’t much excitement in living our daily lives. We need to escape every once in a while and dream the impossible. Sometimes the trauma the characters go through can help us work through our own.

What inspires you to write?

Beautiful locations, interesting history facts, and most of all, my dreams. Day dreams of what I wish I could do and sleeping dreams where my subconscious goes off the rails.

Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?

As far as it being part of who I am, it’s all in my writing. My heritage did inspire one particular character most of all. The Irishman, Markham O’Leary, in my Night’s Knights Vampire Series is a direct inspiration from my own family heritage. I patterned him loosely off of my grandfather and his family.

What scares you?

What scares me in a good way is Classic Horror or Horror with a classic slant. Movies like The Woman in Black, Crimson Peak, and Ghostship have the mysterious darkness to them that I have enjoyed all my life.

What scares me in a bad way is the real-life trauma our world is going through right now. Hate crimes, domestic violence, mass murder, and the simple fact that a large part of the population no longer has respect for life in general.

Who is your favorite author?

I can never name just one. Anne Rice has been a favorite for a long time along with Andrew Neiderman and Jane Austen, but recently I’ve been delving into horror classics like The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell, and The Willows by Algernon Blackwood.

What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?

I generally have so many ideas I can’t possibly write them all down fast enough. My novels are big, enormous ideas that simmer in my head for quite a while before I actually start writing them. If I’m writing a short story, I usually get the email from the publisher or see the call and get inspired by the idea or the cover. Then I think about it for a few days. In a day or two I’ll think of something awesome I want to do. I usually get the beginning and the end and write it down (long hand) as much as I can. When I have a pretty solid first draft, I read it into my phone and email it to myself. Once it’s on my computer I make it pretty, flesh out the descriptive parts, sure up the dialogue and fill in the missing bits. Then it’s ready to send to my betas.

Tell us about your current projects.

I have just finished a modern rewrite of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It’s sort of a Clueless-meets-Lydia Deetz-from-Beetlejuice YA Romance about a Horror Addict who falls in love over winter break in New York City.

I am writing my third vampire novel, Day’s Children, and have a few other short Horror stories coming out in anthologies this year.

What have you written and where can our readers find it?

Readers can find out about my vampire series, Night’s Knights, and all the other fun stuff I do at: emzbox.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net. You can connect with her at emzbox.com.

#HOWConference – Last chance to chat?

 

Join us tonight
Thursday, February 28
for our LAST CHANCE CHAT
Live on ShoutBox Chat
9 pm pacific / 12 mid eastern

You can still chat with HorrorAddicts.net year-round by…

Joining our FB group

Women Writer’s Group

Following us on Twitter

Subscribing to our blog

Listen to our podcast on iTunes

Hope to see you tonight!

And if you’ve missed any of our awesome articles/panel discussions, check out:

Scare Yourself and Your Readers – Dina Leacock

How to Make Your Horror Tourniquet Tight – Laura Perkins

The Embodiment of YA Horror – Laura Perkins

Gary Frank Author Interview

Overlooked Elements of Promotion – Loren Rhoads

Christine Norris Author Interview

Brainstorming 101 – Laura Kaighn

Brian McKinley Author Interview

Importance of Networking – Ilene Schneider

Of course, our HorrorAddicts.net staff has come through with several horror articles and general writing tips, too:

Submitting Your Short Story – Naching Kassa

Self-Publishing Checklist for Newbies – Emerian Rich

How Not to End a Sentence with a Preposition – Kristin Battestella

Getting Out and Staying Out of the Slushpile – Emerian Rich

Vampires versus Vampires – Kristin Battestella

Baby Steps for New Authors – Emerian Rich

There’s just so much to see and do out HOW! We’ve already decided to keep using the Forum and the ShoutBox Chat for more HorrorAddicts.net perks and events! Browse our Online Conference today, tomorrow, at your own pace anytime – and be sure to tell us What You Think of HOW!

#HOWConference – Welcome Our Guest Authors!

 

 

The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference has several workshops, videos, and inspirations from locals near and far! Here’s a list featuring some of our Guest Authors:

 

Scare Yourself and Your Readers – Dina Leacock

How to Make Your Horror Tourniquet Tight – Laura Perkins

The Embodiment of YA Horror – Laura Perkins

Gary Frank Author Interview

Overlooked Elements of Promotion – Loren Rhoads

Christine Norris Author Interview

Brainstorming 101 – Laura Kaighn

Brian McKinley Author Interview

Importance of Networking – Ilene Schneider

 

Of course, our HorrorAddicts.net staff has come through with several horror articles and general writing tips, too:

 

Submitting Your Short Story – Naching Kassa

Self-Publishing Checklist for Newbies – Emerian Rich

How Not to End a Sentence with a Preposition – Kristin Battestella

Getting Out and Staying Out of the Slushpile – Emerian Rich

Vampires versus Vampires – Kristin Battestella

Baby Steps for New Authors – Emerian Rich

 

There’s just so much to see and do out HOW! We’ve already decided to keep using the Forum and the ShoutBox Chat for more HorrorAddicts.net perks and events! Browse our Online Conference today, tomorrow, at your own pace anytime – and be sure to tell us What You Think of HOW!

 

 

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: Chat Transcripts!

 

Did you ever want to start a podcast but don’t know how?

Do you want to submit material but don’t know what the editor wants?

Never fear! At The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference, our Podcast Hostess Emerian Rich and our Head of Publishing Naching T. Kassa have answered your questions in two live chat sessions via our HOW Forum.

 

Missed the chats, did you say? HOW Con has you covered once again with our chat transcripts! Emerian discusses podcasting, publishing, and the changing trends in horror while Naching, editor of the upcoming Dark Divinations anthology, shares insights on the submission process and the Next Great Horror Writer Contest.

Both transcripts can be found in HOW’s Horror Workshop section alongside more articles and tips from authors including Dina Leacock and Mercy Hollow and video interviews with witch author J.L. Brown and vampire writer Brian McKinley. There’s so much to see and read at HOW!

 

 

HOWConference: Live Chats!

The HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference is offering Several Live Chat Events with our Publishers, Editors, and Staff. Join us at HOW to ask Your Questions!

Sunday, February 24
CHAT with AN EDITOR!

Sunday February 24 4 p.m. Pacific/ 7 p.m. Eastern Naching T. Kassa, Horror Addicts.net Publisher and Dark Divinations anthology Editor will be chatting with HOW!
Naching is a wife, mother, horror writer, and Head of HorrorAddicts.net Publishing. She’s created 17 short stories, two novellas, a poem, and co-created two children. She lives in Eastern Washington State with Dan Kassa, her husband and biggest supporter. Naching is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a contributor to the Demonic Visions series. She took second place in Horroraddicts.net’s Next Great Horror Writer Contest and one of her poems was included in The Horror Writers Association’s Poetry Showcase Vol. IV.

 

To chat with Naching, join us in the Shoutbox at the bottom of the #HOWConference Front page. If you have a question for Naching, post a “?” comment during the chat hour and the moderator will call on you.

Monday February 25 we are having not
One but TWO Live Chats at HOW!

First on Monday February 25 10 a.m. Pacific / 1 p.m. Eastern join Emerian Rich, HorrorAddicts.net Publisher & Podcast Hostess for Publishing 101

Creator and Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net Publishing Emerian Rich created HorrorAddicts.net as a place for horror addicts, by horror addicts, glorifying every aspect of the horror lifestyle. Emerian is the author of Night’s Knights Vampire Series, the Sweet Dreams Novel Series, and has been involved in dozens of podcast and story projects. She was the editor of the horror ‘zine DarkLives for ten years starting in the mid-nineties. To find out more about Emerian, visit her site at: emzbox.com

Next we are having an Evening Welcome Party!

Monday February 25 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific it’s a Shout Box Welcome Night Party with Kristin Battestella, Dark Fantasy author and HorrorAddicts.net Staff Writer. Yes, Yours Truly!

When other kids were playing with dolls and teddy bears, this South Jersey born and bred addict KBatz was watching Price, Lee, Hitchcock, Dark Shadows, Alien, anything and everything in analysis of what was scary and why. Be it vamps, scares, or weres, you name it-freaky or macabre and she is there-regardless of how you pronounce macabre. For more bent paranormal fiction and horror film, television, and literature reviews, find Kbatz’ insanity on the web at: vampfam.blogspot.com

Can’t Wait to See You at HOW!

 

Horror Addicts Online Writers Conference – A HOW How-to Video!

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz answers Your Questions about the HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference and explains some of the Forum Technology and Live Events happening at HOW.

 

 

Join us February 24-28 for Writing Workshops, Author Videos, Publisher Chats, and More. It’s Free to sign up and So Easy you can do it in your Purple Peter Cushing PJs – say that Three Times Fast!

 

See YOU at the Conference!

 

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

HOW Facebook Event Page

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Be a Panelist!

Authors, Presenters:
Want to panel at HOW Con? Participate in 4 easy steps.

Step1: Join the free forum.
http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

 

Step 2: Figure out what you want to do.

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
~ Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level.

~ Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc.

~ Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event.

~ Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors.

~Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc.

 

Step 3: Submit ideas /worksheets, etc to our email.

“Don’t forget if you are interested in presenting a workshop as part of the HOW Conference, you should submit your materials to horroraddicts@gmail.com.”

Step 4: Wait for peeps to go and read your stuff during the con and answer the participate in forum discussion.

FRIGHTENING FLIX: Revisiting Poe Video Review

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz (and a special feline guest) discusses new appreciations in revisiting the short fiction of Edgar Allan Poe including The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell Tale Heart in addition to comparing and contrasting the Vincent Price and Roger Corman Poe Film Adaptations.

 

 

Thank you for being part of Horror Addicts.net and enjoying our video, podcast, and media coverage!

Horror Addicts.net – By Addicts, for Addicts!

 

Get involved: https://www.facebook.com/groups/208379245861499/

HorrorAddicts.net Online Writers Conference: http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net/

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference Feb 24-28, 2019

Attention Literary Horror Addicts, Wicked Women Writers, Masters of the Macabre, and any fellow demented author folk!

HorrorAddicts.net is having our very own Online Writing Conference in February 2019!

Authors, Editors, Agents, Publishers, Readers, and Writers are invited to take part in the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference and learn HOW to hone their literary craft thanks to interactive online forums, live chats, writing exercises, and more FREE opportunities to sharpen your skills wherever you are and whatever you write. Yes, the HOW Conference is open to any genre and general writing topics, not just horror!

What kind of workshops are we looking for at HOW, you ask?
  • Interactive forum based workshops, worksheets, writing exercises or prompts in any genre or writing skill level
  • Articles and essays with writing tips, experiences, or references, again in all genres or on technical tips, formatting, grammar, etc
  • Editor, Agent, and Publisher essays, experiences, or feedback
  • If you are an author, editor, agent, or publisher and would like to do a Q&A, chat, or live audio/visual event
  • Articles and tips on marketing, networking, promotion, and social media for authors
  • Genre-specific essays, tips, trends on world building, characters, genre perimeters, etc
Have an idea? Don’t hesitate to ask! If it is technologically possible, we want to do it at HOW!

Register now on our Free Forum at http://horroraddictswriters.freeforums.net for more Information or to chat RIGHT NOW in our open Pre-Conference area with your fellow writers!

To participate in HOW,  you must register at our Online Writers Conference Forum. Don’t worry, it’s free and Easy! During the week of the conference February 24-28 2019, the Workshop boards will be open. Each board will contain the workshop threads, conveniently sorted by genre so our experts can present their tips, worksheets, brainstorming, and more. All you have to do interact – host your workshop, browse the forum, participate in one, two events or as many aspects as possible and get inspired with HOW!

Workshop Applicants should submit their workshop proposal no later than February 1 to horroraddicts@gmail.com. Please use the subject heading Horror Addicts Online Conference Query so we recognize your message.
A general outline of your workshop should be included in the body of the email, along with details about any worksheets or technical materials you may need or will be using. If you would also like to schedule a Shout Box chat as part of your workshop or any other kind of live or daily event rather than or in addition to a stagnant forum workshop, let us know.
Of course, please include your contact information so we can respond with any questions about your workshop or confirm your approval as part of HOW.  Please allow up to a week to reply to your application query. If you don’t hear from us by February 7, please contact us again or join the Pre-Conference area of the HOW forum for the latest information.
Thank you for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the Horror Addicts.net Online Writers Conference!

Paranormal and Horror Author Panel – South Jersey Writers Conference

Moderator Brian McKinley joins authors William Gold, Christine Norris, J.P. Simmons, and J.L. Brown to discuss vampires, science fiction, young adult, paranormal, steampunk, urban fantasy, witches, and much much more on the writing process, world building, social media marketing, and author brands at the South Jersey Writers Conference November 10.

 

 

Videos also available from the South Jersey Writers Conference include Networking Night with mystery author Ilene Schneider and the NaNoWriMo address from speculative writer K.A. Magrowski.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/southjerseywritersconference/

Fiction and Genre Panel – 3rd Indie Author Day Event

Moderator and horror author Brian McKinley is joined by science fiction writer William Gold, humorist Loretta Wish, mystery and thriller author J. Lauryl Jennings, dark fantasy author Kristin Battestella (yes that’s me! Your trusty Kbatz!), and urban fantasy storyteller Laura Kaighn for the Fiction and Genre Panel at the 3rd Indie Author Day hosted at the Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.

You can see the entire 7 part video below or also view the Childrens and Non-Fiction Panel from the Indie Author Day.  For more photos and author events, visit the South Jersey Writers Conference, Facebook Page.

 

 

 

Classic Horror Summer Reading – A Video Recommendation

 

Hello, Horror Addicts! Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz here again on video, braving the sunshine poolside to chat about why you should be revisiting some Classic Horror Reads this Summer!

 

Press play for some thoughts on Dracula, Anne Rice, Shakespeare, Stephen King, The Bronte Sisters, and more!

Don’t forget you can be part of the conversation – By Horror Addicts, for Horror Addicts! – on our Facebook Group. Tell us what kind of videos, media, and Horror coverage you’d like to see and what scary stories you’re reading!

Author Interviews at the Mount Holly Book Fair Part 2

 

Witches, Time Travel, and Shapeshifters!

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz was on the windy scene April 29, 2018 at the Mount Holly Book Fair to interview several Local Horror Authors…

 

Author JL Brown talks about her book The Burning Arbor, witches, tarot, and magic on and off the page. For more visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJLBrown/

 

 

Author Gary Frank talks about his book Forever will you Suffer, short fiction versus novels, time travel, the business of writing, and horror. For more visit http://authorgaryfrank.com/

 

 

Native American Storyteller Laura Kaign chats about her Earth Child series, science fiction, natural versus supernatural, dreams, YA, and storytelling. For more visit http://ladyhawkestorytelling.com

 

 

Special Thanks to the Mill Race Arts & Preservation for hosting The Mount Holly Book Fair.

 

Stayed tuned to HorrorAddicts.net for more Author Interviews and let us know what kind of video/media content you would like to see!

Author Interviews at The Mount Holly Book Fair Part 1

Vampires, Magic, and Steampunk!

 

Kristin Battestella aka Kbatz was on the windy scene April 29, 2018 at the Mount Holly Book Fair to interview several Local Horror Authors…

 

Author Brian McKinley chats about his Ancient Blood series, vampires past and present, psychological horror, thrillers, Hitchcock, and zombies. For more visit http://www.brianmckinleyauthor.com/

 

 

Author Char Webster talks about her Gifted Series and The Runes Universe, paranormal, magic powers, and marketing. For more visit http://www.charwebsterauthor.com/

 

 

Author Christine Norris talks about her Athena series, Middle Grade Fantasy, mythology, Young Adult versus New Adult, Magic, and Steampunk. For more visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChristineNorris

 

Special Thanks to the Mill Race Arts & Preservation for hosting The Mount Holly Book Fair.

 

Stayed tuned to HorrorAddicts.net for more Author Interviews and let us know what kind of video/media content you would like to see!

Follow Crystal Lake Publishing!

Crystal Lake Publishing is the sponsor of our Next Great Horror Writer contest and we’d like to share their vision with you.

With unmatched success since 2012, Crystal Lake Publishing has quickly become one of the world’s leading indie book publishers of Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Dark & Speculative Fiction, and Suspense books with a Dark Fiction edge. Crystal Lake Publishing puts integrity, honor, and respect at the forefront of their publishing operations.

They strive for each book and outreach program that’s launched to not only entertain and touch or comment on issues that affect their readers, but also to strengthen and support the Dark Fiction field and its authors.

Not only do they publish authors who are destined to be legends in the field, but they also look for men and women who care about their readers and fellow human beings. They only publish the very best Dark Fiction and look forward to launching many new careers.

Crystal Lake Publishing is and will always be a beacon of what passion and dedication, combined with overwhelming teamwork and respect, can accomplish: unique fiction you can’t find anywhere else.

They do not just publish books, they present to you worlds within your world, doors within your mind, from talented authors who sacrifice so much for a moment of your time. You, the reader, is what it’s all about.

Crystal Lake Publishing is one of the best small presses out there. So how can you support Crystal Lake?

Support their Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/CLP

Purchase some of their books: http://www.crystallakepub.com/book-table/

Subscribe to their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/CrystalLakePublishing

Subscribe to their newsletter: http://eepurl.com/xfuKP

Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/crystallakepub

Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Crystallakepublishing/

Thank you for supporting Indie Publishing.

Author Interview: Lily Luchesi

 

Who doesn’t love a good vampire novel? If you enjoy reading horror stories with strong female characters, lots of action and maybe a little romance, then you should check out the books of Lily Luchesi. If you’re not convinced then check out our interview with Lily:

When did you start writing?

I started writing with the goal of making it my career when I was eight years old. I had a teacher who inspired me and made me want to pursue it. I’ve always been creative, though. When I was little I used to draw quite a bit, and act out scenes with my “imaginary friends”. As I got older, I just started writing them down instead!

What are your favorite topics to write about?

Well, I will always love writing about monsters and creatures. They’ve been an obsession for me since I was a toddler and saw a vampire on an old Scooby-Doo rerun on the Cartoon Network. But I write about many deeper subjects, disguising them in between horror and action. I write about unconditional love, xenophobia, racism, LGBT+ issues, women’s rights, and the growing violence in America (particularly in my home city of Chicago).

I like strong female leads who don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models, and male co-stars who support and encourage them. Real people are flawed in many ways, so I believe characters should be as well.

What do you like best about vampires?

You know, that’s harder than you might think for me to answer. I don’t know what initially attracted me to vampires, but now that they’ve evolved so much, I think it’s an unnatural allure for danger. Even if a vamp is sexy, they’re still deadly. They might be the deadliest creature of them all, yet humans are undeniably attracted to them. I love that power they have over the human heart.

What was the first horror movie or horror novel you read?

The first horror movie I watched could be considered the cartoon version of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, or possibly Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Non-animated, that would be Carrie (the original version) when I was twelve.

My first horror novel was YA horror when I was ten, and that was The Cirque Du Freak Series by Darren Shan (also about vampires, you can see where my tastes ran). Adult horror was also Stephen King, I got a used copy of Rose Madder for free and fell madly in love with his writing.

What are some of your influences?

Stephen King is definitely a big influence. I love how so many of his books are interconnected (like with towns, characters, even plots) and that he can bring fear over seemingly innocuous things like those wind-up monkeys with the cymbals, or a painting, or even your own grandmother. It takes great talent to be able to do that.

Other horror authors who have influenced me are Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Thomas Harris, and Darren Shan.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

The fact that there are so many ways to scare people! And that fear doesn’t just come from gore and violence. It comes from the shadow outside your window at three in the morning, or the scraping sound you hear inside your walls when it’s quiet, or a strange car following you down a deserted road. Fear is the core of humanity, because fear fuels every emotion. Fear spiders? Kill them. Fear losing someone? Hold them. Fear failure? Work harder. Fear is everything and to be able to bring it, even a little, is power.

What are some of the works you have available?

I am the author of the Paranormal Detectives Series published by indie horror/UF great Vamptasy Publishing. The story follows mortal detective Danny Mancini as he discovers that monsters exist and are everywhere. In the first book, Stake-Out, he finds a vampire murdering a human and it sends his life into a tailspin. Angelica Cross, my female lead, recruits him to help the FBI apprehend the offending vampire and the series goes from there.

It’s not strict horror: there is a romantic subplot that plays a big part that readers discover slowly as they go through to book five, Last Rites. It deals with destiny and humanity and the true meaning of what constitutes a monster.

There are four books: Stake-Out, Miranda’s Rights, Life Sentence, Right To Silence, and Last Rites. The series is complete as it is, with book five being the “end of an era”, so when the series picks up again next year with book six, Skin Deep, it will be set further into the future after book five ends and won’t affect those original five books.

What are you currently working on?

Well, I just released my fifth book, Last Rites, on June 14th, and am now working on editing my December WWII urban fantasy release Never Again, which is a standalone spin-off of the Paranormal Detectives Series. It follows male siren Sean Wireman (whom you’ll meet in Last Rites) as he discovers his powers, and moves on from 16th century Israel, traveling over Europe, and eventually fighting for America in WWII, where he finds terrifying monsters being controlled by Nazis. It will feature some cameos of other PDS characters, too, for faithful readers, but will hopefully appeal to an entirely deeper demographic.

Where can we find you online?

You can find my books at http://smarturl.it/LilyLuchesiAmazon (I have plenty of other stories in anthologies, all of them horror)

You can find me on social media or my official site:

http://lilyluchesibooks.wix.com/lilyluchesi

http://facebook.com/lilyluchesi

http://twitter.com/LilyLuchesi

http://instagram.com/lilyluchesi

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7369101.Lily_Luchesi

It Came From the Vault: Traditions by Stephen Kozeniewski

vault

TRADITIONS

by Stephen Kozeniewski 

Granny clattered on the counter with a wooden spoon until the children stopped squabbling. When they finally turned to pay attention, she smiled, baring each and every bright white denture with joy.

“All right, little nuggets,” she said, “Now granny is going to show you what to do. Come up here.”

She lifted two-year-old Benji and planted him on the counter beside the sheer metal stockpot that was almost as tall as him.

“Now, Benji, this wax is very hot so don’t put your fingers in it and don’t splash.”

“Yes, grandma.”

“Now start to feed the coil in slowly and let me know when you run out of length.”

Giggling, Benji did as he was told.

“Granny, why do we wax the decorations?” little Suzie asked, her pinky hooked into the corner of her mouth.

“So that they last, my dear.”

“And why do we want them to last?”

Granny crouched down to Suzie’s level, even though it pained her ankles.

“Because it’s a tradition, my dear.”

Little Suzie’s eyes lit up with the wonder of excitement and recognition.

“A t’adition?”

Granny nodded.

“Like when we invite a homeless person in for Christmas?”

“That’s right.”

“All done!” Benji announced, clinging to the last link of this year’s holiday visitor’s small intestine.

Together, as they did every year, they draped the wax-dipped organ around their tree of horrors. The attic was starting to overflow with their collection of decorations.

“God bless us every one,” Benji said joyously.

******************

Kozeniewski Author PhotoStephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. Find out more at: www.amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

Guest Blog: The Box Jumper Review

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Guest Blog : The Box Jumper Review

by Theresa Braun

Plot: This story takes place in the mind and memory of Leona, Harry Houdini’s onstage assistant, or box jumper. The protagonist’s dreams and memories also jump through the span of the magician’s career in America during the early 20th Century. It is worth mentioning that Mannetti’s thorough research of Houdini and his world is beautifully evident in the narrative.

Hypnotizing images and emotions are expressed by Leona as she recounts her bittersweet connection with Houdini that transcends the conventional relationship. As the novella progresses, I became immersed in the passion that plummets into a haunting possession, and even heart-breaking madness. Without realizing it, I found myself unable to put the story down because I was so emotionally invested in Leona’s journey.

Houdini passionately wants to debunk spiritualists swiftly acquiring notoriety for their outrageous séances. He uncovers all sorts of hidden secrets behind their chicanery, all with Leona’s help. Together, they navigate social scandal to uncover the charlatans in their midst. We are left wondering if he will escape from his enemies as easily as escaping from one of his illusionist stunts. In addition, Leona begins to wonder if there are dark supernatural forces at work, leading to the tale’s shocking conclusion. It was one of the best endings I’ve experienced in a long while.

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My Favorite Character: Although my first reaction would be to reiterate Leona’s likeability as a character, I have to say that Mannetti’s love for Harry Houdini and the compassion for him as a person is wonderfully portrayed through the eyes of Leona. We really get a sense of how complex he was as a person.

Favorite Scene: By far my favorite was the final one. It kind of snuck up on me. I felt like I was following Leona off a cliff. Before I knew it, I was dangling in mid-air, about to drop to my death. And then she was gone. I can’t say anything else without giving it away, but the conclusion delivered.

Best line: “The shadow shot filthy black tendrils that swept the very air aside, sinking downward like corpses hurled into the sea—and, stunned, with my mouth gaping, I felt the stinging vine-shape hurtling down my throat and anchoring deep inside me.”

What did you like best as a reader: Mannetti’s writing is mesmerizing. Her sentences are powerful and gripping. Part of what kept me flipping the page were her descriptions and words choice. She is a must read for that very reason.

What did you like least as a reader: The novella’s narrative construction is not for everyone. It’s told in a stream of consciousness, which always left me asking if it was the past, present, or future. Then, I began to wonder what was real, a dream, or if the memories Leona shared were mere fabrications. That is precisely the author’s intent, since Leona is an unreliable narrator. I will tell you that if you stick with the story and just keep reading, things fall into place. The pieces will make sense. Just be warned that you will be giving your brain a workout.

Rating : 4 out of 5 here. There is definitely a dark tone throughout much of the story, woven into this historical fiction. For me, it’s the descent into madness and the flirtation with the spiritual realm earn this “scare score.” Although the extreme terror doesn’t hit until the final portion of the story, I feel the build-up is definitely worth the wait. It’s a satisfying read that will leave you deliciously disturbed.

*********

Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame. Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and her latest short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine.

Contact info: Twitter: @tbraun_author  Facebook

An Interview with Valarie Kinney

Our Featured author for episode 131 of the HorrorAddicts.net podcast is Valarie Kinney. Valarie is a writer, fiber artist and Renaissance Festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction.  Recently she talked to us about her work:

What will you be reading for episode 131?

25848622I will be reading an excerpt from my novel SlitherSlither follows the story of Zari, who is on the run from her family of snake-god worshipers. She has run away, gotten married, started a business, and thinks she is safe. Suddenly, her family and Slither are back in her life, threatening to harm her husband if she doesn’t submit to their will.
Zari’s husband, Emmett, has a past as dark as her own. He is ready and willing to stand between Zari and Slither, but first she has to be honest about the threat that is coming for them.

When did you start writing?

I wrote a lot in junior high and high school, took a pause for a time while raising a family, and came back to it about six years ago.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

My favorite things to write about are difficult topics, such as pain, addiction, struggle, and heartbreak. I really enjoy digging down beneath the surface to find the reason people act the way they do in a given situation.

Could you tell us a little about your book Kapow?28176119

KAPOW (Kick Ass Powerfully Original Women) is a collection of stories about super chicks presented in literary form. This is the first book in a dual anthology, and shows us the “bad girls” who get into some trouble. KAPOW 2 is when the “good girls” come in to save the day (we hope.) My bad girl super chick is Copper, a nearly seven-foot-tall redhead with a talent for breathing golden lightning. One thing you don’t want to do is make her mad. All the authors for these collections are female.

What is Dragons of Faith?

Dragons of Faith is a collection of short stories revolving around dragons who all have different belief systems. When the fate of the world is at risk, they must learn to work together to save the world. I didn’t write a story for Dragons, but I wrote the poetry at the beginning of each story.

Who or what inspires you?

I am often inspired by authors who write about difficult or uncomfortable topics. Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Diana Gabaldon all come to mind.

What fascinates you about the horror genre?

28495292My favorite thing about writing horror is that it is such a departure from my everyday life. In real life, I work from home, have four kids, and spend a lot of time washing dishes and doing laundry. When I write horror, I can live in a world where evil, talking snakes are real; where I can murder a character and describe the scene in detail; where the creepiest of monsters might be your next door neighbor. Often, the stories I write are just plain weird and often gross, and that’s what I enjoy writing the most. It’s fun.

What are some of the other books you have available?

My first book, Just Hold On, is a drama/romance.

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Hold-Valarie-Savage-Kinney-ebook/dp/B00JLUHRD8?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

My latest release, Heckled, is a psychological thriller.

https://www.amazon.com/Heckled-Valarie-Kinney-ebook/dp/B01ADXRSCQ?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

Where can we find you online?

On Twitter and Instagram @kinneychaos

My blog https://organizingchaosandothermisadventures.wordpress.com/

FB https://www.facebook.com/ValarieSavageKinney/

http://www.amazon.com/Valarie-Savage-Kinney/e/B00KIQE17E

I’m also on Wattpad and Pinterest

 

 

 

 

Find What Works For You

updated serial scribbler

 

 

Finding what works for you as an author is the first step in also finding your voice. It takes experience, time, exploration, and trying different techniques that will keep you motivated to write.

The Ritual:
This is something that successful writers create for themselves. A ritual gets your mind ready to switch into “creative work mode”. This is similar to a bedtime or waking ritual. If you need to work with a cleared space, you could start there. Clean your workspace, or wipe down your desk. Add some music, or turn everything off. Whatever it is, do it religiously. This will trick your mind into getting ready for your word count.

Aromatherapy:
Believe it or not, this ties in with ritual…and not in the witchy-burn-small-animals-at-the-stake kind either (unless that’s your thing, which I hope it isn’t). Having the same thing to drink (coffee, tea…whiskey *cough*), keeping a snack, and even lighting a candle will tell your brain, “Hey! It’s time to work. Let’s get down to business.”

Goals:
Man, do you know how many times I have talked to authors that don’t have goals before they sit down at the laptop? While this may work most of the time, it won’t always. Having a finish line keeps you focused. Again, most successful authors know this. They set either a timer, or a word count goal. Definitely put this on your “I should try that” list if you haven’t incorporated it, yet.

Outline: (Optional)
Some authors find that an outline helps them organize their thoughts. It doesn’t work as well for me, but if I start to drift or lose the story, I do try to outline it so I can stay on track. An outline isn’t set in concrete. You can move things around if they don’t work, or delete them. It’s up to you (and your editor).

Force it:
Yeah, I said it. Force yourself to write. You don’t have to force yourself to write your current work in progress, but find something else to rinse your palate. Do a writer challenge, find an interesting picture and tell the story you see, rewrite an old short story, or just blog about how you don’t feel like writing.

And last but not least…

Do not give up. No one sits down all the time and writes. Even Shakespeare took some personal time (hello? muses?). Just make sure that you come back to it and don’t stop. The more you write, the more your brain fires up, and the better you get at your craft. Whatever it is that works for you? Do it.

What things do you include in your writing ritual to get you in the mood? If you listen to music, what music is your “go to” when you write? How do you get over the writer’s blues when you fall into the pit?

You Have To Make Up Your Mind

SerialScribbler

As a publisher, I see this every day. People making excuses for not writing.

“I’m very busy.”
“I have kids.”
“I have a full-time job and go to school.

Stop.

No, seriously. Stop. If you have time to post status updates, and catch up on DVR’ed shows and/or movies, you have time to write. I challenge you today to find out how many minutes you spend posting, typing statuses and how many words you’ve typed in the Facebook (or other social media) vortex.

Is that number over ten? You have time.

Are you watching at least one show a night? You have time to write.

Are you vegging out doing nothing for thirty minutes a night? You have time to write.

The real question is, “Is writing a priority to you?”  That’s where you need to make up your mind. Writing takes hard work, dedication, and commitment. There’s no boss over your head most of the time making sure you’re not slacking off. You have to be in it, every spare moment that you have. If you can DVR a show and catch up with it at night or for a few hours on the weekend, you have time to commit, you just aren’t doing so.

If you sit down to write and someone can talk you out of it, you’re not committed to it. They don’t believe it’s a priority because you haven’t set the standard or the boundaries.

Writers that are serious about their craft do not allow interruptions. Friends and family will learn that it’s “Do Not Disturb” time and eventually, you will have time to write.

Recently, with my publishing company we held a meeting and discussed what our slogan for the month would be. We chose, “Are you all in?”

Well, are you?

Serial Scribbler Series: Master Your Craft

 

SerialScribbler

 

In this world of indie publishing, creating a book is as easy as point and click. This convenience has led to an overwhelming issue that all “indies” are facing these days. Something I like to call complacency.

We all know that it’s hard to find someone to show us the ropes when we first start out. Some indie authors who have found a measure of success are very tight lipped about how they’ve done it. Whether they feel that revealing their how-to methods will create competition or they just aren’t sure, themselves.

Being an independently published author comes with some major perks, like getting to keep your royalties for one. But that perk can quickly turn out to be your demise. This is why you hear so many traditionally published authors looking down on the “indies”.

In my last article, I spoke about book covers and the importance of them. In this article I’d like to continue with Mastering Your Craft.

What does that mean, exactly?

You’re a published author now! So what. Yeah, I said it. So what. I want to know what you plan to do next. And if you haven’t answered this question – or let’s be frank – if you haven’t asked yourself this question yet… you have much to learn.

You owe it to yourself and to your readers, to get better. No one’s first book is perfect. If they tell you it is, they’re lying. Your first book is where you cut your teeth in this industry. Anyone can write stories. Yep, I said that, too! ANYone can write a story. Will you like it? That depends. Some people have this amazing ability to weave words and tell a tale that sucks you in and makes you want to know more. But is everyone an author?

Here’s the distinction:

A writer, writes. Maybe it’s their job. Maybe it’s something they do as a hobby.

An author is someone that considers this his/her trade, craft, passion, career.  If they’re not writing, and perfecting each story than they aren’t really happy with it. These people want to hear more than, “Oh this is really good!” They want to hear in-depth critique, suggestions, questions, and to discuss their work.

In their head, these worlds are real and they mean something to them because when they wrote it, they put something of themselves into it.

There are writing groups, guilds, Facebook groups, Meet-Up groups, etc. Go to them. Get your work critiqued by someone you trust to be brutally honest with you. This is something else you owe to yourself, and your readers.

Being an author is hard. If this is something you want to do outside of a hobby, you need to constantly evolve. In my next article, we’ll discuss other ways to do that.

For now, keep the horror in the story, not in your end product.

 

KIDNAPPED BLOG: Lovecraft’s Legacy: A Chat with Ashley Dioses and K.A. Opperman by Alex S. Johnson

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ADAshley Dioses and K.A. Opperman are a young couple making waves in the contemporary Weird Fiction scene. I recently sat down with the two for a chat via Facebook Messenger to pick their brains. Gently, of course.

Alex S. Johnson: My first question is how you two first became involved with weird fiction–who were the authors that did it for you?

Ashley Dioses: Actually Kyle got me into weird fiction. I have always been a horror and fantasy fan but I didn’t know there was a weird genre and when he first introduced me to it, I knew that I was greatly missing out.

KAOK.A. Opperman: H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith are my two foremost influences. Lovecraft came first, and solidified my desire to become a horror writer. I think he’s had a greater impact on me than any other writer. Smith, however, first fostered my love for poetry, specifically–but that’d be a long conversation!

ASJ: Right, the complete CAS poetry collection is what, 800 bucks and five volumes or something. Where would you recommend starting with Smith’s poetry?

KAO: Haha, not that bad. It’s $75, three volumes in paperback.

AD: Hippocampus has three volumes and the third is translations he did. The Last Oblivion is where I started with CAS poetry and I was mesmerized by it. I’m just now working through the first two volumes of the rest of his poetry volumes.

KAO: Those new to CAS will want to seek out Penguin’s breakthrough volume The Dark Eidolon and Other Phantasies. The Last Oblivion (Hippocampus Press) is an excellent intro for his poetry, specifically.

ASJ: Do you think there’s a resurgence in weird fiction fandom, and if so, to what or whom do you attribute it?

KAO: There is certainly a growing interest in Weird fiction, in part due to the Internet and increased networking. The flourishing of small press publishers like Hippocampus Press, which focuses on Lovecraft and all things related, has something to do with it.

lastoblivinAD: I think there’s a resurgence because I believe a lot more people, even younger people like ourselves are starting to discover CAS. Possibly HPL because of how you can find references to his work through other venues such as games, movies, and other written work. By learning about HPL, you would learn about CAS, which are two great weird fiction writers right there.

KAO: There is also the stalwart efforts of luminaries like S. T. Joshi, who continue to edit excellent Weird volumes, which subsequently reach a wider and wider audience.

ASJ: you were both involved with a new documentary on CAS. Wow did that come about, and when do we see it?

KAO: Darin Coelho Spring contacted me out of the blue. He ultimately chose Ashley and I due to our relatively young ages (I’m 28), as he wanted to touch on CAS’ ability to reach successive generations.

ASJ: Why did he choose you?

AD: He had heard about us from Spectral Realms and when he found out how young we are, and poets ourselves, he wanted to touch on that type of audience. He wanted to cover that every generation finds CAS and loves him even though he’s so obscure.

KAO: He has seen (correctly) that we are fast working our way into the Weird Circles, and are students and burgeoning scholars/writers/enthusiasts of the Weird. We’ve made some great connections, and are authors ourselves. He also wanted our poetic expertise–I am primarily a poet for the nonce.

ASJ: How does one work their way into Weird Circles?

KAO: You have to be really Weird…. One must be bold, and unafraid to meet such formidable persons as populate the field–gigantic minds, scholars of the first rate, connoisseurs of the outré, savants of the first rate. And then, once you’ve befriended the right people, you have to have the skills to hang! Haha.

AD: Just people to know, I suppose. Spectral Realms was something I only knew about through other people, same with Weird Fiction Review by Centipede Press. The more people you know involved with the Weird world, the more opportunities you get, whether it’s being invited to submit somewhere or being invited to check out local places of note that involved authors or places stories took place.

ASJ: Are there initiation rites one should know about?

KAO: Blood was drawn, sacrifices were made, Cthulhu was raised for a brief time–I can say no more….

ASJ: who are some other authors of the Weird that may be more obscure to fandom but merit another look?

AD: Wilum Pugmire for sure! Ann K. Schwader is another good one, for poetry as well.

KAO: Wilum Pugmire deserves FAR more recognition. He’s a Weird Lovecraftian writer of the first rate. I also want to mention poet D. L. Myers, whose verse is somehow redolent of Lovecraft, yet somehow even more twisted in it’s sheer ghoulish energy. Adam Bolivar, too, writes some darkly strange Fairytale Weird material, and is a first rate balladier of the macabre.

ASJ: What do you make of Bizarro fiction and its being hybridized with Weird?

KAO: I think Weird and bizarro are kissing cousins…who am I to stand in the way of such amor?

AD: I actually don’t know much about Bizarro to be able to compare the two.

ASJ: I think there was a panel at Necronomicon called the Future of Weird Fiction that addressed this question, is why I’m asking.Kanyeweird

KAO: I think there’s plenty of overlap. Some of what you find in Smith is, I think, Bizarro worthy. “Empire of the Necromancers,” for instance, and so much more….

AD: I heard of that panel but have not been able to find video of it.

ASJ: Kanye West, Reanimator is one of the titles I was thinking of.

AD: That sounds a bit too silly for my tastes.

KAO: One of Smith’s chief attributes was his vast imagination. He thought up scenarios and images almost impossible for the average person to fathom. Such is the nebulous borderland verging on the shadowed land of Bizarro….

ASJ: I’ve heard several commentators say Smith is difficult. Maybe he uses some recondite vocabulary, but his prose is clear and even gripping. thoughts?

AD: Other than his vocabulary, I don’t think Smith is difficult to read at all. I found HPL far more difficult to read than Smith.

KAO: He IS difficult–that is beyond doubt. His vocabulary is a real test even for some of the academic elite. BUT–it was all for *effect*–the sounds of words, the sonorous rhythms, the bewitchment factor. Some enchantment is too high for average person to fully grasp. And so it is sought by savants, poets, and devotees of the strange and fantastic–though even they, at times, perish on the purple paths of lamia-haunted Averoigne….

ASJ: How long have you two been writing, and what have you had published? crimsontome

KAO: I’ve been writing since my early 20’s, so–6-7 years, perhaps. My crowning achievement, to date, is The Crimson Tome (out now from Hippocampus Press). It is full of rhyming, metrical poetry heavily influenced by CAS and HPL, all covering the many shades of horror and dark fantasy. Weird poetry is the technical term–the same meaning as with Weird fiction. I’ve a scattering of other publications, fiction and poetry, but none equal the release of The Crimson Tome!

AD: I started writing since I was in middle school, but I didn’t get published until the end of 2010, I believe. I was first published in the Horror Zine with two poems. It wasn’t really, until last year that I got on a roll and started getting published in more places: Spectral Realms No. 1-3 from Hippocampus Press, Weird Fiction Review from Centipede Press, Weirdbook issues 32 and 33 from Wildside Press, Xnoybis 2 from Dunhams Manor Press, Gothic Blue Book Vol 5 from Burial Day Books, and Necronomicum Issue 4 from Martian Migraine Press, among others.Necronomicum_title

KAO: Look for Ashley and me in Spectral Realms, Necronomicum: The Magazine of Weird Erotica, Weirdbook 31, Ashley in Weird Fiction Review 5, me upcoming in Nameless Magazine and Weird Fiction Review 6, and the both of us in the upcoming Gothic Bluebook. I’ll also add that I wrote an article for this month’s HWA newsletter, on my poetry and it’s Gothic elements. Oh–and we have articles in Hippocampus’ new edition of the infamous Book of Jade–mine’s on necrophilic imagery and it’s symbolic importance! Lovecraft praised The Book of Jade as a Decadent/macabre volume of unusual morbidity and merit. Personally, it is one of my top favorite books of poetry–once I have lovingly read several times.

KIDNAPPED BLOG: Echoes in Purgatory by Alex S. Johnson

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Echoes in Purgatory

by Alex S. Johnson

Her face swims in front of him. Curly red hair, green eyes, a concerned expression. In the next second she will touch his hand and it will all come back.

Every scarlet detail.

He wonders if she’s actually there with him, or just a projection of his subconscious. Whatever that might refer to here, in this unstable realm.

Shane knows what the priest would have called it, in Catechism classes. Purgatory. Limbo. The place in between.

Or just some extremely fucked up remake of Groundhog Day.

It amazes him that he’s held on to his sense of humor. But Shane’s ability to laugh at things that should, by all accounts, pin him to his mattress in the iron grip of depression, or catatonic shock, continues into the afterlife. This hinterland, where the only constants are frustration and despair.

She touches him. He glances up, looks into her eyes. She’s about to ask him what’s on his mind.

Honey,  you have no idea.

They’ve been friends since the previous semester, when she rescued him from an awkward moment with his Psychology professor. Which was around the same time he’d seen the flyer on a bulletin board at the Student Union.

Test Subjects Wanted For Clinical Trial.

And there was money attached, not a lot, but sufficient to cover his tuition. They hadn’t renewed his scholarship after his grades slipped at the end of Freshman year. Too much partying and not enough diligence in the library. Since then it had been touch and go, living off credit cards and dreading the prospect of spending the remainder of his professional life paying off the interest. Never mind the principal.

“What’s wrong, Shane?”

“Nothing.”

“Look, we’ve known each other for a while now, and something’s bothering you. Is it the money? Because I can always…”

He headed that one off at the pass. “I can’t, I just can’t. Just be my friend.”

“Of course. That’s a given. But honestly, I can afford it. And it would just be a loan. You can pay me back when you’re able to. I know you will. I trust you.”

The way he’d trusted the men and women in sterile whites. At first he’d been given to understand that the trials were for some kind of new drug, an anti-anxiety medication. But as the weeks passed, the little white paper cups with the tiny red pills gave way to tests. Tests that strained his nerves to the breaking point, induced anxiety rather than dialing it down. They assured him that everything was proper, in order, that they were following strict scientific protocols. But he left the lab feeling like a toy that had been hammered to bits. Or a lab rat that had pressed the wrong lever one too many times. The smell of scorched flesh in his nostrils. His own.

Shane never remembered the sequence of slaughter until he’d been engaged. That was one of the terms they’d used, one of the words that floated around in his head like a dead leaf in a pond. Engaged, or cut into the narrative.

They might just as well have called it being possessed, like the film he’d seen in Cultural Anthropology of the Voodoo Priestess ridden by the Loa. That was what it felt like, a dark imp pressing against his back and shoulders. Razor sharp claws scratching at his skin.

After waving goodbye to Lara he’d dashed across the quad, total tunnel vision, focused on breaking out the weapons cache in the utility cabinet in back of the gym.

Even now he wasn’t sure what the weapons were, just that they fit his hand and he knew how to fire them.

“I trust you too.” He trusted that she would never fully understand why he’d snapped. Neither did he. All he knew was that he’d slung the machine gun around his neck and started in with the pump-action rifle, picking off members of the varsity basketball team before charging into the cafeteria. Then he’d opened up with the machine gun. Shane was just as shocked as the onlookers as the bodies slammed to the floor. As he looked down at his hands, which had never handled anything more dangerous than a slingshot as a kid, briskly slamming off rounds like a professional mercenary.

It was like watching a silent movie after awhile. Deadly quiet, only the noise of his breathing and his thundering heart. Scraps of dialog fluttering by him, around him. The pools of blood spreading on the yellow tile. Sirens. His own voice breaking through, ordering them face-down on the ground. Knowing they would never rise again.

The warmth of her fingers cut him out. He started.

“I’m really worried about you,” Lara said. “You look absolutely exhausted. You really need to start taking better care of yourself.”

In a moment he would jump to his feet and plead some inane excuse. He picked up a single French fry and dabbed it in the ketchup cup. Feeling the surge come on him, fighting it back, hoping somehow that with all his prayers, this moment would be different. With God’s help, he might cut himself out of the narrative entirely. All a bad dream. Waking up in his student apartment with the Bowie posters on the ceiling and the metallic balloons, half-deflated, that bumped about the ten foot square space as a reminder of his drunken homage to Andy Warhol.

“I’ve got to get to my tutorial,” he burst out, looking at his watch as though it were a prop. He slicked his fingers through coal-black hair and regarded Lara with warm brown eyes that now looked black.

“I thought your tutorial was Friday,” she said.

“They changed it around. Look, I’m an absolute idiot at math and I really need to pass this course.”

As he ran across the quad, he looked back and saw her gazing at him through the cafeteria window. Her last sight of him alive.

And he was cut back in. Game on. Behind the walls he saw the green gridlines as they’d flashed to him through the Google glasses, over and over, until they haunted his dreams. Yet until some internal switch clicked, and the clock was running, the grid existed only as a faint flicker at the corners of his eyes, detached from the physical environment of the school, from the trials, from the before and after of his tenure as a lab rat.

Because there was a before and this was definitely an after. It started like a sickness, with Lara’s look of concern, her offer of financial help, wiping off the grease of the meal with a napkin, wadding up the napkin and pushing it into the cup of ketchup, dumping out the red plastic baskets into the trash, Lara half getting up, then sitting back down again, his forcing a smile and a wave as if everything was actually going to be ok, this time.

Shane’s glasses have misted up, but they’re another prop. That morning he’d put on contacts, automatic pilot, as though he wore them every day.

He sheds his t-shirt and dons the bullet-proof vest, puts on the black trenchcoat, slams shut the cabinet door and heads for the gym. His progress is inexorable, his will not his own.

And thus it runs until it stops and begins again, like a tape loop, a film, a memory of the future that slips relentlessly into the past as the past melts into the present.

There would always be echoes in Purgatory.

Always.

An interview with Chantal Noordeloos

Our featured author for episode 120 of the Horror Addicts podcast is Chantal Noordeloos. Chantal is a member of the Horror Writers Association and one of her hobbies is board games which you can read about here. Recently Chantal answerd a few questions about her writing:

When did you start writing?

deeplytwistedThat’s one of those ‘tricksy hobbitses’ questions. I can’t tell you when exactly I started. I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, and even wrote some of them down when I was six or seven (much to the frustration of my mother, who was trying to get me to keep a journal of our holidays) I was also partial to essay writing at school, but I remember in my teens that I thought writing was a bother. I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until I turned fifteen, and my English teacher, Bob Harrison, made us do a lot of creative writing. That’s when I knew that this was my passion above all others.

Now, had you asked me “When did you start getting your work published?” I would have had a more straight forward answer *cheeky grin*. My first short story was published in 2012 (unless you count the stories I used to write for my school newspaper) My first novella came out in 2013, and my first novel in 2014.

 

What do you like to write about?

I like to write about ALL THE THINGS *insert little comic meme here* Sorry, I couldn’t control myself there for a second. Ehm… I’m a genre floozy (I don’t just write one genre) and a slipstream Sally (I mix genres) to boot, so I could go in very many directions with this question. I do have some preferences, I guess. I am a big fan of ‘epic stories’. I like to write about angels and demons and the apocalypse. Go big or go home… (not really because I enjoy small stories too, it just felt appropriate to randomly write that) Most of the time I incorporate some sort of mythology or fairytale into my work. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s very subtle. That’s just a little thing I do.

In truth, it sometimes feels like the story finds me, rather than me finding the story. Sometimes a thought just hits 23456349me out of the blue, and if it clicks… it’ll become a novel. For me it’s important that I have some sort of connection with my characters. If that works, I enjoy writing.

 

Who are some of your influences?

My main influences are the brothers Grimm, Hans Christiaan Andersen, and all those people who have written down old myths. That’s where my passion started. More contemporary influences are Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Joss Whedon, though I am more influenced by my environment than I am by other writers. I think writers are more of a stimulant to each other, than they are an influence. I could never write like any of my heroes, their voices are their own… as is mine.

 

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

Horror has a macabre beauty to it. Death is the biggest mystery of them all, because no-one ever lived to tell the tale *grin*. There’s something elegant about horror, even about the gory part of it (though I believe horror is so much more than just gore). To me, as a writer, it’s a challenge to find out what frightens people. There’s something very intriguing about fear. There are also a lot of taboos in the world that are broken by the horror genre, which in a way feels very liberating.

 

What will you be reading for episode 120 of the podcast?

I’m going to read a story called ‘Little Death’. It’s a story I wrote after I saw a real item on the news about a mysterious illness.

 

Where can you we find you online?

*whispers* I’m everywhere…

*serious face* I’m really not, though I do spend a lot of time on facebook, and I’m trying to figure out how to do this twitter thing (does that make me a twit?). So you can find me: https://www.facebook.com/ChantalNoordeloosStoryteller

Or on twitter: https://twitter.com/C_Noordeloos

My website can be found here: www.chantalnoordeloos.info

And of course my favorite hang out is here: http://amzn.to/1NLVtZt

 

Thanks for having me on your show! It’s been a hoot!

 

Meet our Judges for the WWW and MMM Contests

On the next episode, 119, we’ll be announcing the winners of the Wicked Women Writer’s Challenge and Masters of Macabre Contest. But first, we want to introduce you to the judges.

Audio Judges:

evo (2)Evo Terra is the founder and president of Podiobooks.com. Since 2005, Podiobooks.com has made available the best serialized audiobooks in the world, all of them available for free. He’s one of the original group of podcasters and has been deeply involved with independent authors of genre fiction since the early 2000s. He’s a published non-fiction author, penning titles in a variety of topics, including social media, craft beer, and two books in the “for Dummies” series. These days, he’s traveling the world as a digital nomad, telling the story of his travels on The Opportunistic Travelers.

willoWillo Clare Hausman is a director of both stage and screen, with a special emphasis on gothic fairy tales, haunting ghost tales, spiritual quests and intriguing mystical beings.  4 creative endeavors are currently in active development, including a sitcom set in an occult shop, a play called Grimm and 2 feature films, one revolving around a clan of modern day witches, the other set in Barnum’s wild American Museum circa NYC 1846. Find out more about Willo at: www.gryphonpictures.com

tinyDanDan Shaurette is a goth-geek and a fan of horror, especially vampires, ever since seeing Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” as a young child. While vampires are his horror addiction of choice, Dan does not limit his preternatural proclivities to them. He is a fan of most sub-genres but prefers those that have a dark tale to tell versus pure shock-schlock. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You can find him online at http://www.DanShaurette.com.

Text Judges:

head shot2014Dario Ciriello is a professional author and freelance editor. His nonfiction book, Aegean Dream, was a UK travel bestseller in 2012. His first novel, Sutherland’s Rules, a crime caper/thriller, was published in 2013. Free Verse and Other Stories, a collection of Dario’s short Science Fiction work, was released in June 2014. He is currently working on his second novel, another thriller. Dario, who has also edited and copyedited over a dozen novels, as well as three critically-acclaimed novella anthologies, also offers freelance copyediting, critique, and author mentoring services. He lives with his wife in the Los Angeles Area. For more information on Dario, go to: https://dariospeaks.wordpress.com

pic of meLucy Blue has been writing and publishing gothic horror-flavored romances since 1998 when she co-authored These Our Revels, the last tie-in novel for the vampire TV series Forever Knight. She amassed her dazzling fortune (hahaha) as sole author of the Bound in Darkness vampire series for Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster. She is currently an author/publisher for Little Red Hen Romance, which publishes short, relationship-centered e-books in a wide range of genres, including horror, urban fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction. For more information on Lucy, go to: lucybluecastle.wordpress.com

BioPicSandra Saidak graduated San Francisco State University in 1985 with a B.A. in English. She is a high school English teacher by day, author by night. Her hobbies include reading, dancing, attending science fiction conventions, researching prehistory, and maintaining an active fantasy life (but she warns that this last one could lead to dangerous habits such as writing). Sandra lives in San Jose with her husband Tom, daughters Heather and Melissa, and two cats. Her first novel, Daughter of the Goddess Lands, an epic set in the late Neolithic Age, was published in November, 2011 by Uffington Horse Press. http://www.sandrasaidak.com

And YOU,  The Horror Addict

Although we’ve added professional judges this year, that doesn’t mean you don’t get your say! 1/3 of the vote was decided by listeners and readers like you!

Thank you to all our participants and judges.

Tune in to episode #119, premiering August 22nd, for the winners announcement!

Meet Artist Bill Rude and Author Emerian Rich

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Meet author Emerian Rich and artist Bill Rude

HalloweenThis weekend, ScareLA, the first Los Angeles convention dedicated to celebrating Halloween (and from my knowledge the only one in California) will commence. On August 8th and 9th at the Pasadena Convention Center, the event will feature top attraction designers and operators, manufacturers, artists, filmmakers and more. The weekend-long Halloween season teaser will celebrate California’s hottest scary faire with attraction unveils, workshops and classes, top industry panels, haunt experiences, screenings and activities.

FinalFrontCoverBill Rude is allowing me to sit at his table for awhile to promote the HorrorAddicts.net Press book, Horror Addicts Guide to Life. Bill was interviewed in the book and I wrote several parts, so you will get signatures of two contributors if you stop by the booth between 1p-2p, August 8th.

Not only will I be meeting all of you fine folks during the con, but I am excited to check out this huge Halloween-inspired convention! I am also looking forward to seeing Bill’s Ho-Ho-Horrifying Holiday Cards in person. 🙂 And he has buttons! I know I won’t be able to resist grabbing a few.

Come share the SCARE with me and my Halloween-inspired friends.

See you there!

ScareLa
August 8th
1pm-2pm @ booth 213
Meet Bill and Emerian
Mention code: Boo2015
to get a discount on the
Horror Addicts Guide to Life book.

7 Hells (booth 213) is ready to go all out to make it the best one yet!

scare la– The EXCLUSIVE vendor of official ScareLA t-shirts and prints featuring the illustration by Bill Rude!

– More featured 7 Hells artwork in Evil Twin Studios’ ‘VAULT OF DARKNESS’!

– Celebrate the The Hatbox Ghost’s return with original Haunted Mansion art and prints!

– NEW: 7 Hells buttons, including original Krampus and Haunted Mansion artwork!

– Vintage movie posters that never were!

– Terrifying Monster T-Shirts!

– Gallery of Original Artwork!

– And ALWAYS your #1 stop for original Ho-Ho-Horrifying Holiday Cards!

Free Fiction Friday: Griddlebone by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Griddlebone
By Debbie Manber Kupfer
The werecat padded silently across the cobbles of the dark Vienna street. It was deserted now, but Griddlebone knew it would soon be filled with bootsteps and cries, gunshots and blood. They were slated to come at dawn, to cleanse this last Jewish neighborhood of its vermin, so that the proper folk of Vienna could finally live Judenfrei.
Inside the darkened houses, the residents huddled in fear. The news of the transport had only come hours before, and some still couldn’t believe it. They had been fooling themselves for months, believing this one insignificant street could survive in its own little bubble, that somehow God would protect them.They readied themselves with what few valuables they had left. Maybe they could still bribe the Nazi soldiers. Maybe there was still a way out.
The werecat flexed his claws, as he waited in the shadows. Griddlebone wished he could rescue them all, but his orders were clear. He could only take one. They needed to be the right age too – a teenager would be good, strong enough to fight, strong enough to survive the turning.As the first rays of light caught the cobblestones, Griddlebone felt the bootsteps echoing down the street. Soon. His tail swished back and forth in anticipation. Within minutes, the first soldier came into view. The werecat was all but invisible to the soldiers, his mottled grey coat blending perfectly with the cold grey street.At the same time as the first soldiers appeared on foot, a silver-grey truck arrived on the street and parked in front of the buildings, waiting for its human cargo.
As the Gestapo soldiers marched past the werecat’s hiding place, he longed to dig his claws into their ankles, to hear them scream with pain. Not yet, Griddlebone, not yet.
The soldiers reached the first house. They banged on the doors.

“Juden, Heraus, Heraus! Schnell, schnell! – Everybody out of there, quickly, quickly.”

At first there was silence. Griddlebone held his breath, waiting. And then, slowly, they came out, squinting in the light of the dawn. They had been inside for so long, sitting in the darkness. They looked like ancient patriarchs held in suspended animation from biblical times. The man had a long white beard and was wearing a prayer shawl. The woman had her head covered and bent. She held out something to the soldiers. The werecat stole closer to get a better look. It was a silver candlestick. The frightened woman offered it to the soldier.

The soldier laughed. He grabbed it and shoved in his bag, then roughly pulled the old woman forward. She tripped and fell onto the hard cobble street. The soldier kicked her, and she cried out in pain. Throughout this, her husband was bobbing up and down in prayer, praying that God would take them before these Nazis did. His prayers were not answered, and the soldiers forced the old couple into the waiting truck.

More soldiers had arrived now and pushed their way into the buildings. The next house held a young family, a mother and father, with two small terrified children. The mother clutched a baby girl in her arms. As they boarded the truck, the baby started crying. The nearest soldier grabbed her from her mother’s arms and flung her with full force into the solid concrete wall. The baby stopped crying. The mother screamed. A Nazi soldier silenced the mother with his gun. The father and his remaining children climbed quietly into the truck, trying not to look back.

The werecat stalked over to the baby. He nudged her gently with his nose, but it was too late, and, in any case, how would his clan have been able to care for a baby? They could barely find enough food for their own kittens these days.

Griddlebone continued watching the parade of Jews being evicted from their buildings. They had been told they were being rehoused, that their homes were needed for the war effort. As patriotic Austrians, surely they understood?

Griddlebone knew that most of these Jews would end up in the concentration camps, if they even survived the transport. A second shot filled the air; a young man this time. He had tried to run, but the soldier had used him for target practice.

Still the werecat watched and waited.

—–726——

Read the rest of the story in Sins of the Past – http://www.amazon.com/Sins-Past-Chasity-Nicole-ebook/dp/B00P2MZLUA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428337336&sr=8-3&keywords=Sins+of+the+Past

**********
Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Darkly Never After, Sins of the Past, and Heroes & Villains. She also created the puzzle book, Paws 4 Logic together with her son, Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!Links:
Blog – http://debbiemanberkupfer.wordpress.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DebbieManberKupferAuthor

Kbatz: Vampires versus…Vampires?

Vampire versus…Vampire?

by Kristin Battestella

book3 200x300So often vampires and werewolves are pitted against each other in the battle of the genre beasties.  However, more often then not, these terror titans work in tandem in fiction and media, creating a broader, richer tug and pull sharing in the horror medium.  My 2008 Eternal Press novel The Vampire Family has a family of vampires that can shape shift and transform into wolves and scary weres- and scary werecats, too.  My follow up series Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family serves up vampires who prefer their wolf shapes in Book 3 Struggle. 

While it is easy to have books and ebooks either have all the monster magic together or for readers to find literature specific to vampires and werewolves and all the mixes in the spectrum, films have also scored on the presumed animosity.  The Underworld franchise tells of ancient vampire and werewolf wars- but fans of either creature can get their fill in these features.  Likewise Twilight has made the Team Edward and Team Jacob themes top sellers.  Vampires versus werewolves ideologies are good for business, simply put.  Whether for or against, reluctantly working together or struggling to love or hate one or the other, in the end, vampires and werewolves are good for each other.

Unfortunately, the current subdivision of the vampire genre is getting too divergent for its own good.  The watered down, lovely dovey, youth and glitter love vampire movement spurred by the Twilight craze has helped the vampire literature and media culture just as much as it may have damaged the genre.  Book, television, and movie markets are now flooded with vampire material- all in the same youth, teen romance driven trends.  As knock off begat knock offs, the quality pool has dropped considerably.  People are tired of vampires.  They think horror has been played, and all the sudden the same editors, publishers, and powers that be are now turning on the massive overdrive they helped to create.  Backlash is inevitable.drac_1513745c1

Soon people even forget what came before the glitter vampire.  Readers are afraid to take on another vampire story because ‘they all suck now’.  (No pun intended) The quality vampiric horror gets lumped into the problematic downward glitter spiral.  And when you the writer submits your hard worked, scary horror, medieval furthest thing from contemporary teenage vampire vampire manuscript, what does the publisher tell you?  The worst thing a writer can possibly hear:

No.

And it isn’t just the ‘no’ that is the worst part.  It wasn’t that your story wasn’t well written or not just good enough.  It might be damn decent perfection and fit in just perfectly with what this publisher’s interests are.  But no, it is the fact that the marketing, timing, and overblown played mayhem of that other vampire type has just ruined your publication chances.  Well, doesn’t that just suck? (Pun intended)

So then, you see, the vampires versus werewolves theory is not what hurt your novel’s chances.  Rarely does a publisher say, ‘we already have a werewolf book, so we can’t take your vampire story.’ In fact it is quite the opposite, editors often look for both together to balance out  their catalogue and reader varieties.  They might even prefer books or series dealing with both monsters so they can cross reference all their categories.  How many times have you clicked on a publisher’s store links for both ‘vampire’ and ‘werewolves’ and seen the same books? Quite a bit I suspect.

Now, have you ever seen separate links for ‘vampire horror’ and ‘vampire romance’? The breakdown between the vampire medium is almost nonexistent in appearance, even if those readers and writers and vampires lovers in the know immediately know there is a difference.  How many times have you been in conversation with a fellow vampire lover and they say either ‘oh, that was too scary for me!’ or ‘This vamp was too lovey dovey for me.’  What’s sad is how many times has a reader passed on your book because they like one or the other and dismissed your book as being the wrong vampire type for them.

What then, must a vampire author do to remain relevant in a subgenre at war with itself?  Keep writing damn good copy!  Whichever side of vamps your on- either pure horror or paranormal romance- keep it good.  Keep your universe, characters, and tales true to what the manuscript needs to be its best.  Don’t give in to the mislabeling and trends.  Vampires rise and fall, go underground and subculture or rise up from the dead and reign supreme over media. Not too long ago, everyone wanted exclusively paranormal light and vampire romance, now call outs are returning to pure horror and uniqueness.  Make your creatures of the night stand out from the pack.  Keep them worthy of the hand in hand werewolf antagonism.  Good competition is healthy in fiction, writing, selling books, and reader’s choice.  Write crap copy and no creature wins!

To read more about Kbatz’ vampires, read her contribution to The Great Vampire Dispute.

Zomedy – Dark Humour of the Undead Kind by Chantal Boudreau

Zomedy – Dark Humour of the Undead Kind

by Chantal Boudreau

Zombies are funny.  They may be gross, frightening and tragic, but there is still something ridiculous about them, something that makes you hold back a laugh when you should be shocked or terrified.   You’ll find amusing events in even some of the goriest, angst-ridden zombie stories, usually for the sake of comic relief and to give viewers or readers a moment to catch their breath.  In some cases, like “Fido” and “Zombieland”, the entire premise of the tale is based upon dark comedy, with a variety of images of zombies doing crazy things, or constant references to silly but effective rules created to address the dangers of the apocalypse.  In the more dramatic movies, it may be just the odd moment, like when the people shooting zombies from the roof in “Dawn of the Dead” identify the zombies as celebrities like Burt Reynolds.

Zombies have always made me laugh and when I started writing zombie stories, I found humour leaching into my writing in one form or another.  My first story featured a woman feeding brains to her undead husband with a pool hook, a visual that always makes me smile.   Zomedy has become an accepted term to describe a zombie spoof, or comedic zombie film, but I think the humour of zombies goes beyond the obvious laughs and the campy (a la “Weekend at Bernie’s II”).  I thought it might be interesting to look at the more common tools of zomedy, both in written and cinematic comedic forms as well as in those genre pieces intended to offer a more serious approach to the undead.  I’ve come up with a dozen that are prevalent and easily identifiable:

Zombie puns

A good pun is the true essence of humour; even a bad one will at least elicit a chuckle or a groan.  Titles of zombie movies and stories are notorious for using puns. One of the classic zomedies, “Shaun of the Dead,” used a pun in its title as a humorous way of paying homage to the legendary George Romero. This tool is even more prominent in the written zombie genre, at least in the aspect of a good play on words.  One example of this is “Married with Zombies” by Jesse Petersen, with sequels “Flip This Zombie” and “Eat, Slay, Love.”  Not only does it capture the domestic element of the zombie stories, it also links the stories to items in current culture.

Zombie animals

Another tactic used to lighten the mood in genre books and movies is the inclusion of zombie animals.  I discovered after writing my novelette, “Shear Terror”, that there was a movie from New Zealand with a similar theme called “Black Sheep”, one involving crazy evil scientists, a wealthy farmer, animal rights activists, a man with an ovine phobia and a combination of zombies and lycanthropes (in this case were-sheep).  While the humour was cheesy in places, the gory zombie sheep attack scenes were so bizarre that they were down-right hilarious, perhaps because sheep are typically non-aggressive, so the attacks were totally uncharacteristic.  Then again, perhaps it was because sheep already have a herd mentality so becoming a zombie throng just seemed so fitting.

Zombie dogs are the most common animals in zombie movies, with “Resident Evil” and “I Am Legend” immediately springing to mind, but they don’t tend to tap into that humorous element, likely because people are more attached to dogs in general, and they can be very frightening without being undead.  The comedy comes from the unexpected, like the deer in “Slither”, another example of a zombie animal behaving in an uncharacteristic manner.  And then there are the animals that are just funny to begin with, like cows, who are popular humorous zombies in the gaming world as well as in movies like” Dead Meat.” There is even a very funny zombie cow scene in A. Lee Martinez’s book, “Gil’s All Fright Diner.”

Slapstick

Let’s face it, the walking dead are hardly coordinated, at least the shamblers aren’t, and they can take damage and still keep moving in ways a normal living human couldn’t. The physical malleability of zombies makes them a prime candidate for slapstick.  Throw them down the stairs so that their head ends up backwards or blow a gaping hole in their torso, and they keep on going, like in “Death Becomes Her.”  Apologize severely for breaking their ankle in the door, only to have them limp hungrily after you, like in “Zombieland.”  The possibilities for his type of humour are endless.  This is the true form of zomedy however, and you are less likely to see a version of this in a dramatic zombie flick.  It does not translate easily to the written page, either.  This is one of the cheapest forms of humour going, and while some movies like “Zombieland” apply it sparingly and appropriately, it is one of the fallback forms of comedy that the low budget zombie movies resort to for cheap laughs.

One-liners

No proper zomedy exists without at least one or two stinging one-liners, “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness” are rife with them, but you can find the occasional witty and sarcastic zinger in even the hardest and nastiest of zombie tales.  The one-liner is as much a weapon as it is a method of adding humour to the scene.  It captures the real personality of the character speaking it in a few short words, it sometimes rebuffs a snide remark made by a lesser antagonistic character, or serves as a coup de gras when the hero has just conquered the enemy.  For example, the one-liners from Columbus in “Zombieland” are self-deprecating, but amusing nonetheless, whereas Tallahassee’s zingers are cool and over-confident.  Some critics see them as cliché or gratuitous, but I see the one-liners as a staple of the genre.

Zombie fighters with funny obsessions

Speaking of characters, it is usually the unruly and often unsophisticated survivors in the zombie apocalypse who are at the root of most of the humour.  Some of us can sympathize with their quirky yet familiar traits, and we are laughing as much as ourselves as we are at the characters.  Perhaps there is something about being particularly driven that has allowed these characters to survive in the first place, and it contributes to their appeal.  I added that obsessive element to my veteran ranch-hand, Rudy, in my tale “What a Man’s Gotta Do.”  The thing he craves would likely surprise you, but it is no stranger than Tallahassee’s yearning for Twinkies in “Zombieland.”  The heroes’ obsessions with things like video games or zombie movies often give them the kind of knowledge they need to hunt and fight zombies in the first place – a suggestion that it will be those on the fringes of society who could end up rising to the top when all goes to pot.

Over-the-top zombie hunters

Every zombie story seems to have a character who is at least a little crazy, or who has a personality so loud you have to laugh in response to their antics.  The true zomedies take that one step further and either all of the characters match that description (e,g, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland”), or there is a character so outrageous that the humour is built entirely around them, like Ash, in the “Evil Dead” series.  Then there are those in possession of some unbelievable trait, perhaps something like a gun serving as a prosthetic leg like in “Planet Terror.”  You don’t get much more over-the-top than that.

Characters in zombie books are no different.   Jenni, one of the female protagonists, earns the nickname “Loca” from one of the other characters in Rhiannon Frater’s “The First Days” because she is crazy, albeit in a likable way.  Witnessing the death of her children at the hands of her once abusive, zombie spouse is enough to drive the victimized woman over the edge.  Although she recovers from a near catatonic state, she is never quite normal after that.   She takes a perverse pleasure in picking off zombies with her gun, and the image of her swinging wildly over a group of zombies to play bait for the kill is one that makes you shake your head and grin.

Laughing in the face of sure doom

There is a scene in “Dead Snow” where the characters are facing down swarms of Nazi zombies and they resign themselves to defeat but with an edge of humour, intending to take as many with them as they can.  These scenes are commonplace in zombie films and sometimes in books, where characters realize that they are about to be overwhelmed, but instead of panicking or becoming morose, they grin and lash out, prepared to die fighting.  This resolve is admirable, but at the same time, funny.  It’s a heroic gesture, but a crazy one too.  You laugh with them as they fall, drawing satisfaction that they weren’t truly defeated, at least on a spiritual level.  The humour in this act sometimes comes from a sense of irony in written works, as those falling to the zombies contemplate their fate and find something oddly amusing about their situation.

Zombie love/camaraderie

Another comedic plot device in the zombie genre is where people are unwilling to let go of friends and loved ones after they have turned, and find ridiculous ways to cling to them after the fact.  They tie or chain them somewhere, and perhaps even allow them to play video games, as in “Shaun of the Dead.” This is one of the darkest forms of zomedy, since many people can relate to the idea of not being willing to let go of a loved one or close friend who has died and risen again.  Woman writers in particular seem to be drawn to this type of black humour, the comedy present because the viewer or reader can recognize that the zombie is nothing like the living person, but blinded by love and a sense of dedication, the character cannot see this.

Random zombie pieces in odd places

Dismembered zombie bits are plentiful in genre movies and books, but the humour comes when they end up in odd places, or take on an undead life of their own.  Some might suggest that the movie Idle Hands is an example of this, although others might argue that they are more like hands possessed as opposed to undead hands.  Nevertheless, there’s something just plain goofy about a lone finger or toe wriggling along all by itself, or a single eye peering at you from some unexpected place.  Viral zombies generally don’t exhibit this type of behaviour since they are subject to the “head shot” rule, but the supernatural ones often persist beyond amputation, as do ones reanimated by scientific means.  The Re-Animator has various body parts scuttling around independently, in one of those instances where the head shot does not necessarily signal the end for a zombie.  It’s creepy but funny, reminding us that zombies are definitely no longer human.

Zombies doing non-zombie things

Witnessing zombies doing things that should be reserved to living breathing humans is equally funny, also because they lack something essentially human and we are reminded of that by their shallow and obviously forced charades.  In “Fido,” and a select number of short stories, the power of the zombie has been enslaved to benefit mankind, and they are recruited to do the mindless drudge work that most people don’t want to do.  The zombies of “Fido” are controlled by a special technology, a collar that keeps them in check, and owning a zombie servant becomes a status symbol because of the expense involved – an amusing notion. Some people even use their zombie servants to service their romantic or sexual needs – gross, but hilarious.  The same type of humour is evident in the spoof “Zombie Strippers!”, another case of zombies doing people work with a “ha ha” factor along with the “ew” factor.

Tales from the zombie’s point of view

You would expect this kind of story to be sad, or just disgusting, but sometimes it is the lack of understanding on the part of the protagonist, or their state of denial, that brings in that component of dark humour.  In some instances, a story like this is so well-woven that it even draws on the sympathies of the readers, like the funny tale of a handicapped zombie in the story “The Hungriest Zombie”.  His state is pitiful, but laughable, and by the end of the tale you are rooting for his success.  “Ahh, Zombies!” presents this concept from a cinematic approach, a quirky but amusing zomedy. There are entire zombie memoirs out there, and even *ugh* paranormal romances centred on zombies.  I don’t think I could keep a straight face while reading one of those.

Braiiiins!!!

And finally, truly the zomedy piece de resistance, there is the familiar catchphrase or trademark cry of the zombie – brains!  This hungry plea can be found in practically every proper zomedy out there, such as “Return of the Living Dead,” and can also be heard uttered by a zombie Homer Simpson in one of the classic Simpsons Halloween episodes.  This groaned demand is not reserved for strictly humorous fare.   It sometimes serves as a moment of comedy relief in the more dramatic genre works, a chance for the viewer or reader to have that breather before returning to more serious and frightening things.

These are probably the most common comedic tales used in the zombie genre, but there are a plethora of others, many of them original and darkly delightful.  They all tend to serve similar purposes – defining the protagonists and making them seem human and likable despite the fact that they are blowing away one zombie after another, allowing for a break in the action and tension so the viewer/reader can recover from the violence and gore before charging in for more, or even allowing the viewer/reader to distance themselves from the story altogether so they can grasp the “bigger picture” often a particular social or cultural message.  The best way to get a proper sample of exactly what’s out there is to explore a variety of zomedies that the genre offers and to observe the assortment of black humour first hand.

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zombiemepic

Aside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

 

My End Was Not My End by Chantal Boudreau

My End Was Not My End

 by Chantal Boudreau

 

One briny blip

Ocean of gore

Lurching shuffles

Breathing no more

Here’s not the place

I’m meant to be

Undead flotsam

Zombie sea

 

Craving Endless

Ear-rushing roar

Starving for flesh

Longing for more

This not the way

I’m meant to be

Urgent hunger

Takes hold of me

 

Torment constant

Can’t ignore

Forced still forward

No change in store

If I could pray

I’d beg for peace

One headshot brings

My sweet release.

************

zombiemepic

Aside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

A Zombie Resolution by Chantal Boudreau

A Zombie Resolution

by Chantal Boudreau

Mzombie2aking New Year resolutions has long been a tradition with the living, but shouldn’t the undead have the opportunity to better themselves as well?  We would expect their resolutions to differ somewhat from the norm, however.  While the average person might resolve to join a gym or spend more quality time with their family, such things might prove less than practical for a zombie.  Considering their nature and properties, here’s what a top ten list of zombie resolutions might look like:

  1. BRAAAAIINS!!!

Everything begins and ends with this in the realm of zombie, so would this be that big of a surprise?

  1. A regular routine of shambling

No one would envision the walking dead taking to the treadmill, but they could at least get out there and shuffle and moan more often.  They don’t have to master the Thriller routine, but practicing it could improve their coordination.

  1. Lose weight

Zombies don’t do diets – they aren’t exactly known for their impulse control – but they could shed a few extra pounds through rot and ruin.  Drop a few fingers and toes, maybe your liver or spleen,  and it’ll show the next time you step on the scale. Just don’t lose your head.

  1. Make time for the mob

Zombies don’t tend to have a family once the apocalypse strikes (although there has been the occasional exception,) not in the ordinary sense anyway.  Their new family is the zombie mob, with whom they can spend more quality time.  Avoid being the straggler left behind or you could miss out on all the fun.

  1. Become more spiritual

Zombies don’t pray or meditate, but they could hang out by the nearest church and chow down on a priest, minister or Bible study group.  That way, in addition to finding religion, they can also eat it.

  1. MORE BRAIIIINNNS!!!

Considering that this is a focal point in a zombie’s existence, it had to show up on this list more than once.  Am I right?

  1. Quit smoking

In zombie terms, this means staying clear of any open fires, flame-throwing survivalists or the odd villager’s torches. Burning is baaaad.

  1. Volunteer

zombie1While you won’t find zombies ringing a bell by the charity kettle or scooping casserole in a soup kitchen, there are ways they can make a difference.  They can be one of the select few at the forefront of the mob trying to push down a chain link fence, getting crushed up against the wire, or the unlucky shambler first in line to set off the survivor booby trap.  Come on all you zombies – step up.

  1. Be a better person

The only way this can be achieved is by zombies working harder to hide their undead state.  Hang out in shadowy areas so food in transit might not notice you’re undead until it’s too late.  Hover by water fountains, crowded parking lots and in grocery aisles with your most gory bits sheltered from view.  Or better yet, hang out behind curtains or under the blankets until prey comes to you.  Think less “zombie” and more “zombie in disguise as people.”

  1. And, of course, EVEN MORE BRAAAIINNS!!!!

To repeat, everything begins and ends with this in the zombie realm.  ‘Nuff said.

************

zombiemepic

Aside from being a long-time fan of the zombie genre via books, movies and now TV, Chantal Boudreau began her existence as a published author with a zombie short story named “Palliative” in an anthology called “Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts – Oh My!” published by Notreebooks.  This was followed by the publication of several other zombie shorts: “Just Another Day”, “Waking the Dead”, “Escarg-0”, “Life and Undeath on the Chain Gang,” and “One Lonely Night” in the May December Publications’ anthologies “First Time Dead, Volume 1”, “Hell Hath No Fury” (all women writers), “Zero”, “Zombie Lockdown” and “Let’s Scare Cancer to Death” as well as “What a Man’s Gotta Do” in the anthology “Undead Tales” from Rymfire Books and “Deadline” in the anthology “Zombie Buffet” from Open Casket Press.  She has done extensive research for her blog series “Chantelly’s Field Guide to Zombies” and a non-fiction article on Zomedy – the dark humour in zombie fiction.  She is currently shopping a full zombie novel, Sleep Escapes Us, set in ancient Thrace and involving the myths surrounding the death god, Zalmoxis.

 

Last Chance! Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline:
December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 10 in 2015.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, can be any part of the novel, but a short (100 word) synopsis should accompany it.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

Reminder: Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement

Horror Addicts Writer’s Workshop Announcement!
Deadline:
December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

This is an opportunity for aspiring horror or like-genre writers to have their work critiqued by professional writers based on story structure, plot, style, and character development. One lucky writer will have their work produced for a HorrorAddicts.net show for Season 10 in 2015.

Submission criteria:

1)      This workshop is free

2)      You must state you if you are under 18 at the time of submission. We will not accept stories from children younger than 15.

3)      By submitting to the workshop, you are stating this work is yours and yours alone and that you may submit it legally without publication ties. The work cannot be previously published in any form.

4)      Stories must be Gothic, Horror, Steampunk, Clockpunk, Fetish, Dark Fantasy, Horror Romance, or have a horror element of some kind.

5)     All submissions must be emailed to horroraddicts@gmail.com no later than December 31st, 2014, 11:59pm PST.

6)      Submissions can be excerpts from a novel, up to 4,000 words, or can be a complete short story, no more than 4,000 words. Excerpts from a novel, can be any part of the novel, but a short (100 word) synopsis should accompany it.

7)      Manuscripts must be presented in the following format:

a)      Font size 10 or 12 point

b)      Font style Courier or Times New Roman

c)      Double spaced

d)      1st page header to state: author name, email address, type of story, and word count.

e)      Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

f)       Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF Format.

g)      No more than 4,000 words.

h)      In the body of the email, give us 100 words or less about you – a bio.

i)       In the subject of the email state: HA WRITER’S WORKSHOP

8)      We will review the first 20 manuscripts absolutely, after that, it is based on the number of pros available. Manuscripts are first come, first serve. If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks, please send a polite query to:  horroraddicts@gmail.com.

9)      For any other questions, please leave a comment here or email:  horroraddicts@gmail.com

All I Want for Christmas by Chantal Boudreau

All I Want for Christmas

by Chantal Boudreau

“Chris – did you eat any of these Christmas cookies?  I told you they were for a work function and that you absolutely were not to touch them.”

“I didn’t touch them.”  Christena tried not to sound indignant, but she hated being accused of something she hadn’t done and Ben did that to her all the time.

“Well then explain why there are three missing.  I brought home two full dozen from the bakery, but I’m short three.”

“Are you sure the bakery didn’t short you?”  The moment the words escaped Christena’s lips she regretted them.  Ben never would have left the bakery without counting and double counting them, obsessive compulsive as he was.  Even suggesting otherwise was new cause for strife.  He gave her a harsh glare.

“Do I even have to answer that? How could you do this to me?  I had one for every person at the office party.  I could have forgiven one – I would have foregone my own, but three?  Now what am I supposed to do?”

“Buy a box of doughnuts on the way in to make up the difference?”

That response was met by a disgruntled huff and the slamming of their front door as Ben stormed out.

Christena slumped into the couch.  It was her day off, even though her husband had to work.  Unlike Ben she was never guaranteed that her free time would fall on a weekend.  As a personal caregiver, she couldn’t keep regular Monday to Friday office hours because people needed care seven days a week.  Ben had often belittled her for it, suggesting a real job would pay more and offer set hours – as if somehow crunching numbers the way he did was more valuable than caring for the sick and elderly.

As soon as she was sure Ben was long gone. Christena spoke out.

“Peeve? Peeve – come on out.  I know you stole those cookies.”

Two beady eyes peered at her overtop one of the branches of the Christmas tree.  Peeve, or that was what Christena had taken to calling the gremlin-like creature, had started appearing shortly after Ben had completed his internship and had gotten his current job.  Since then, every time Ben treated Christena with any disdain or talked down to her as if he were more important than her, Peeve would exact some sort of revenge.  It was getting worse, as was Ben’s treatment of her.

“You have to stop doing these things.  I end up getting the blame for them and he leaves here irate.  When he gets home later, he’ll be a grouch for the entire evening.”

Peeve blinked at her and grinned, as if he enjoyed being the instigator of Ben’s foul moods.

Christena heaved a gargantuan sigh.  Things were bad enough between her and Ben without Peeve complicating them – not a welcome intrusion at all.

Life had been different while Ben and Christena were in college. He had been more relaxed then.  After setting his sights on her, he had broken out the charm that he now saved only for networking.  He had romanced her very diligently, with promises of a family and a pleasant future and he had kept it up until she had agreed to marry him.  She realized now that his courting had all been a calculated ploy to get himself the pretty, docile wife he saw as a requirement for a successful businessman.  She was just another notch in the post where he marked his achievements in life.

Since then, Ben had been constantly pressuring her to give up her job and find one that would better support his work hours – office work perhaps.  She had actually suggested the night before that she would do that if they finally started trying to conceive the first of their planned children, offering him a trade-off, something he wanted in exchange for something she felt she needed.  That was when Ben had dropped the startling bomb on her.  He had changed his mind.  He no longer wanted children because he expected they would interfere with his career.  He had already scheduled a vasectomy that was to take place first week in January.  Christena had been heartbroken.  She wanted children more than anything else and she didn’t believe in divorce.  It was another reason he had chosen her.  Ben considered divorce scandalous, another form of failure.

“Just stop it – alright?” she told Peeve.  “Unless you can fix what he’s about to do to me, you may as well just go away.  I’m the one who has to live with him.”

For the first time since he had begun causing trouble, Peeve emerged from the shadows.  His impish form dropped down from the tree, where it began to grow and change.  By the time he was done, the only recognizable difference between Peeve and Ben were those beady little eyes.  The monster in the shape of Christena’s husband walked over to their bedroom and paused in the doorway, gesturing for her to follow before proceeding into the room.

Christena hesitated for a moment before following, but only long enough to consider the potential consequences.  Ben would never request an abortion – that was beneath him – and as long as the child was conceived prior to his operation, he would never try to suggest it wasn’t his, especially if it looked like him.  Condoms weren’t 100% effective, and he knew it.  She told herself she would be doing this as a gift for herself… much better than the practical, emotionless, although expensive, gift she no doubt would be receiving from Ben.

“Merry Christmas,” she said, visions of a rounded belly followed by baby smells, sights and sounds filling her head.

Peeve was about to provide Christena with the best act of revenge in the face of Ben’s heartlessness yet.  And she would enjoy every minute of it.

*********

Snapshot_20140802_2Chantal Boudreau is an accountant by day and an author/illustrator during evenings and weekends, who lives by the ocean in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. She writes and illustrates horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and along with her Fervor Series and her Masters and Renegades series, she has had many of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies, online journals and magazines.  Find out more at: http://chantellyb.wordpress.com

The Elf by Christine Morgan

THE ELF

by Christine Morgan

It started last Christmas, that must have been it. Weirdest thing that ever happened to me in my life – or so I thought at the time.

Now, this Christmas, I know a little better.

My name’s Belle, Clayton Belle, and I always hated this time of year.

I blame it on my folks. Sure, everybody blames their problems on their folks, but you should have seen mine.

My dad’s name was Jim Belle, but from after Halloween until round about New Year’s, he told everyone to call him Jingle. Dressed in red and green every chance he got. Decorated the house like you wouldn’t believe. My mom was just as bad, and she had no excuse … her given name was Carol.

They wanted me to swap “Clay” for, can you guess? Sleigh. No joke. I tell you, it was enough to drive a kid crazy. Here I was trying to be normal …

That was why, as soon as I was old enough to get out on my own, I gave up on Christmas. No, that’s putting it too lightly … I went out of my way to avoid the whole thing.

Maybe that’s why it happened. Maybe it was some strange message, some sort of off-the-wall Christmas revenge. Like in the story about Scrooge, except I didn’t get three ghosts. Didn’t even get one.

What’d I get? Some little freak with rabies …

I’d done pretty good at getting away from it all. I’d finally saved up enough to move out of the apartment into a house, tiny but my own. I had a telecommuting job, which spared me the yearly hassle of office parties, Secret Santas, holiday music over the intercom, and all that.

So, for the first time in years, I was expecting a nice, stress-free December.

Then it happened. Christmas Eve.

That was when I heard the bells.

Jingle-jingle-jingle, clanging and grating on my nerves, bringing back all my tension like it had never been away.

I shot to my feet, fists curled. If this was the preface to a spontaneous outbreak of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from trespassing carolers, I was going to blast them with the hose and 20-degree temperatures be damned!

Stalking to the door, I yanked it open. But already, the sound was receding, dwindling into the distance … and even then I remember thinking that it almost seemed to be receding upward … but of course I didn’t give that idea a moment’s serious consideration.

Not then.

The people across the street were the Jaimesons. I’d seen them come home a week or so ago with a tree

lashed to the roof of their car, but they were good about it, and kept their stuff private. If they wanted to be as looney as my parents in the privacy of their own home, that was their business, and they didn’t try to inflict it on the rest of us.

But now, something was hanging on their door. Even at midnight, every house on the street dark and sleeping, I couldn’t miss it. The full moon and the snow conspired to make it almost as bright as day, and the wreath that now hung on the Jaimeson’s door was twinkling with tiny red and white bulbs, like holly berries amid the shiny green leaves.

And there was something on the porch … from here, it was a bump of scarlet and white in an uncertain shape.

I couldn’t help it … anger set in. Some nerve the Jaimesons had, sneaking out in the night to put up that wreath, thinking no one would notice. Before I fully knew I meant to, I was striding down my walk, slippers crunching through the crust of the snow. I crossed the icy street and marched up their lawn, driving deep tracks. They’d see, they’d know, but I didn’t care.

The crumpled shape was recognizable now, a stocking. A plush cranberry-red velvet stocking with a ruff of white fur. It was lumpy … it was moving.

A nasty spear of fright jumped through me before I realized that the movement was due to nothing more than a toy, a child’s wind-up toy that had been jogged by the fall to the porch.

I could see it easily in my mind – Hank Jaimeson in full Santa regalia, smuggling in the sacks of goodies he’d had hidden in the garage, but dropping a stocking as he paused to put the wreath on the door.

My intent was to pull it down and pitch it, maybe onto the roof, maybe into the bushes, I don’t know. But as I reached for it, I heard a high mewling sound from inside the stocking.

My first thought was that it was a kitten, that old Hank had gotten his daughters a kitty but didn’t notice when it fell from his bag.

My second thought was that it would serve them right, a nice gruesome Christmas surprise to find frozen solid on the stoop.

But I may have been a Scrooge, I may have been a Grinch, I may have been a sour old jerk, but I wasn’t a total bastard. Couldn’t leave an innocent kitten to freeze to death in the night.

I bent down and scooped up the stocking. It squirmed in my grasp, and yes, there was something warm, something alive, in there.

“Hey, kitty-kitty,” I said.

I reached in, meaning to pet the soft bundle of fur.

Instead, my fingers found skin.

And an unbelievable explosion of pain.

It was like a spring-loaded beartrap of needles, sinking into the tender web between my thumb and index finger.

I screamed or cursed, or both mingled, and flung the stocking away from me. It flew off into the snow, but the biter held on, dangling at the end of my arm. My flailing motions made it clamp down tighter, and now rockets of pain were shooting up my arm to my head, where they burst like the Fourth of July – a holiday I’ve never had a problem with.

But I did have a problem with what I was seeing. A major one.

An elf was battened onto my hand.

An elf, yes, that’s what I said.

He was about eighteen inches high, maybe two feet, it was hard to tell. Built like one of those pudgy little gnome you sometimes see on the lawns of people who should know better, but light as a feather. He was wearing short pants (winter-white), a red vest, and those dorky curled-up shoes with bells on the toes. If he’d had a hat, it had fallen off, because his pine-green hair was blowing free around a set of ears that would have made Mr. Spock blush.

His eyes were the huge winsome adorable eyes of a cartoon character, but no cartoon character’s eyes had ever glittered with such a hard and flat hatred. A snarl, muffled by his mouthful of my hand, issued from the back of his throat.

I screamed again, this time more in horror than pain, though there was still pain, plenty of it. With my other hand, I grabbed him around his potbellied middle and tried to tear him loose.

It didn’t work. Those fangs were embedded like a snake’s. But abruptly, the elf let go of his own accord. He scrambled up my arm, headed for my face.

My third scream broke decibel records. I reeled and staggered, trying to knock this deranged thing off of me. The backs of my legs hit the Jaimesons’ planter and I toppled over backward, feet flying. My breath was jarred out of me in a huge frosty cloud.

The crazed elf skittered onto my chest, his impish face twisted in pure madness. I didn’t know what he was going to do, and suddenly had a bizarre vision, one that might have been funny if it hadn’t been so hideous – my disembodied head impaled on the top of a Christmas tree in place of a star.

The Jaimesons’ door banged open, throwing a fan of light onto the snow. The elf hissed and was gone, springing from my chest in a bound that carried him into the concealing bushes.

The next thing I knew, Hank Jaimeson was there, in a robe, his eyes puffed from sleep and wide with shock. His wife and kids crowded into the doorway, all babbling at once.

Calls were made, to the police and to an ambulance. I was taken to the hospital because they thought I was having some sort of a breakdown. They had to think that, because I wasn’t wounded. The bite-mark on my hand was gone, except for a semi-circle of tiny white scars that almost looked like snowflakes.

I did some time under observation, and more time in court-ordered therapy. The consensus was that I must have snapped under the holiday strain. When I finally got home, the neighbors treated me with caution and even more distance than before.

The Jaimesons moved out that spring, the whole turn of events having been so traumatizing for their kids – waking to my panicked screams on Christmas gave little Amber Jaimeson nightmares for weeks.

But eventually, things got back to normal. Or so I thought.

I was fine until around October.

That was when I started to feel restless. Itchy, almost. Impatient, dissatisfied. I didn’t know what I wanted, but something was missing. Something I needed.

A few days after Halloween, as I was lugging the shells of my jack-o-lanterns out to the trash, I caught myself humming.

Humming a Christmas carol.

Appalled, I stopped then and there with my feet buried in a drift of leaves and a slightly mushy pumpkin sagging in my grip. I silently asked myself if I’d really been doing that, but I’d heard me. I could even Name That Tune – it had been “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

About a week later, I saw that they’d stocked the shelves in the dairy section of the local market with the first eggnog of the season, and my heart took an unprecedented and distinctly unwelcome leap of joy.

When I got home from my errands and started unloading my groceries, I found a carton of eggnog.

I wasted no time but raced right back to the market. The cashier who’d checked out my purchases was still there, and I stormed up to her, not sure if I meant to apologize for taking the eggnog by mistake or to berate her for mixing it in with my order.

But she told me that I had bought it, and had even remarked on how glad I was that they finally had some in the store. And that when she had replied with something to the effect of how it seemed the holiday season started earlier and earlier every year, I’d said ‘good!’

Good!

I had no recollection of that at all, and would have never said such a thing! Not me! Not Clayton Belle!

I decided she must have been having fun at my expense, and put it out of my mind. I planned to dump the eggnog down the sink and forget the whole matter.

I drank it instead.

I didn’t mean to … I just took the carton out of the fridge – and only then did it occur to me to wonder why I hadn’t returned it to the store and gotten my money back – and opened it.

And the scent hit me in a great rolling wave of creamy, nutmeggy temptation … and before I knew what was happening, I was guzzling it straight from the carton with such gulping greed that overflows were running in rills down my chin.

I leaned over the sink, nauseated and afraid, wondering if I was going to bring it back up. But it stayed, a thick liquid weight in my stomach, and I imagined I could feel it spreading out in there, sending out tendrils of itself, into my veins, coating my organs, being carried to every cell of my body.

Another week passed, and I was cranky all the time, missing something, needing something, not knowing what it was. Little things kept happening, distressing little things. Nothing big, nothing like the Great Eggnog Experience, but upsetting ones all the same.

Being at the drugstore, having to walk down the seasonal aisle to reach the pharmacy, and lingering over the cards and garlands that had begun to creep in among the turkeys and harvest decorations.

Shopping a catalog for some new clothes and only realizing when my order arrived that some of the things I’d bought were eerily familiar – winter-white pants, a red cardigan vest. And a green knitted cap, where had that come from?

Waking in the middle of the night with the most terrible craving for cookies, not just any cookies but specific kinds. I had to have the butter-shortbread ones crusted with colored sugar … I had to have gingerbread.

Then things started getting worse.

I bought a box of candy canes and ate them all in the car, the entire sticky red-and-white dozen of them, until my tongue and lips were bright pink and the taste of sweet mint seemed to permeate my entire being.

I found myself taking long aimless drives around town to look at the holiday lights and decorations … I even went to the mall and stood amid a smiling crowd as little kids waited for their turns on Santa’s lap.

I was humming again, and then singing low, and finally singing aloud, whenever I heard the carols … and I knew every single word.

I had been flipping channels and happened across a Christmas movie, the one about the boy who wanted a BB-gun. And, telling myself that nothing else good was on, wound up watching it. And then, worst of all, realizing it was a marathon, 24 hours of that same movie, and I stayed up all night watching it and fell asleep in my chair and woke up and kept watching it, until noon the next day.

The day it all came crashing down on me, I was at the park. It was December 22nd and I’d gone for a long brisk walk, hoping that the cold air and exercise would snap me out of this constant state of alternating trance and terror.

A woman said ‘Merry Christmas!’ to me, and I said it right back at her.

She passed without looking back, which was good, because my expression would have horrified her. It horrified me and I didn’t even have to see it; I could feel it. That was the first time those words had passed my lips in almost twenty years, but I hadn’t just been saying them.

I’d meant them!

I uttered a rusty screech and ran for home. Something was happening to me … I had to get help … there had to be something they could do …

I reached my yard and the strength ran right out of me like water through a sieve.

Lights sparkled along the eaves and around the windows of my house. More lights, string after string of them, wrapped the fence and the tree in the front yard. A red ribbon had been wound around the post that supported the mailbox, giving it an effect that could be construed as barber-pole but I knew better! A plastic reindeer with a red lightbulb for a nose stood beside the walk, and a wreath hung on the door.

It was the wreath that pushed me over, because it was practically identical to the one that had been on the Jaimesons’ door last year. Their house had sold but the current owners were spending the winter in Arizona with their grandkids, and thus hadn’t seen the terrible thing that had taken place across the street.

Someone had decorated my house!

No … I had done it. And couldn’t remember doing it.

Haltingly, scared to death of what I might find inside, I went up to the door. The wreath seemed to stare at me like a big round eye, laugh at me like a big round mouth.

I wanted to rip it down, rip all of it down. What would people think if they saw this? What would they say?

I steeled myself and plunged inside.

If I could have drawn breath, it would have been last year’s business all over again, for I would have screamed and screamed until the neighbors called 911. But my breath was stolen from me by the sight of the interior of my house.

It was a nightmare made real. That’s all I’ll say. I can’t bear to describe how tall the tree was, how many garlands festooned the stairway banister, what horrors awaited me on the mantle. I can’t stand to think of the candles, the presents, the three-tiered tray of cookies and fudge and divinity.

Even the bathroom wasn’t safe, because the shower curtain, the towels, even the toilet-lid cover, had been replaced by new ones in a poinsettia pattern. But despite that, the bathroom was still the least objectionable place in the house, and it was there that I collapsed in a dead faint.

I woke over twenty-four hours later to unbelievable pain in my hand and arm. Dimly sure that I must have been laying on them, I pushed myself up and looked.

The scars … the tiny semicircle of snowflake-shaped scars … they had faded nearly to invisibility over the year but now they were back. Standing out in vivid relief, almost seeming to wax and wane in time with the throbbing I felt in every nerve.

And yet, even with the throbbing, even with an ache that seemed to burrow into my bones, I felt full of a hectic, wild energy. Mania, almost. No, not almost … it was mania. I wanted to do something, had to get up and get moving, but I didn’t know what.

I tried to rise, shakily got as far as the sink, and caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.

But at first, I didn’t know it was me … I had never in my life worn a silly little pointy cap with a bell on the end.

I cried out, thinking it was a stranger, an intruder, that I’d surprised in my home. My reflection reacted along with me and then I knew, but that knowing was untempered with relief.

I looked … different. It wasn’t just because of the cap.

My hair looked wrong. Longer.

My eyes were huge, but I attributed that to shock and fear.

My ears …

I didn’t want to see any more, and fell back onto the bathmat.

The ache intensified. I could hear the radio playing in the other room, tuned to the nonstop holiday music station.

I felt as if I was being crushed, slowly crushed under an impossible weight. I imagined I could hear my bones crunching, feel myself being squashed, compressed. An appalling, stretchy sensation tugged at my ears.

A dark corner of my mind knew then what was happening to me, but the rest of my mind rejected it. Ignoring the pain and the horrendous things that were going on in my body, I got up to splash cold water on my face …

And couldn’t reach the sink.

I was standing, but I was on eye-level with the cabinet where I kept the cleanser and spare rolls of tissue.

Very, very slowly and very much against my will, I looked down at myself.

Yes, I was standing … assuming those were my feet in the curly-toed shoes about eighteen inches below my head. Assuming that was my torso I was seeing, pooching out into a potbelly.

A wavery, uncertain noise came from my throat. I started to bring up my hands, to explore my head, but paused and let them drop. I had to see.

With strenuous effort, I clambered onto the toilet, and from there onto the counter. I edged out around the basin, keeping my eyes on my shoes – my horrible curly-toed shoes – until I was there.

Then I looked.

An elf looked back at me.

It had my blond hair, only grown long and silky. My brown eyes, cartoon-character cute. My features … changed and made sharper, fairer, more … elfin.

I opened my mouth to finally voice the scream that would rouse the neighborhood, maybe even the town. But before I could finish drawing my breath, my gaze fell on what was also shown in the mirror, the reflection of my dining room beyond the half-open bathroom door.

The table was covered with things. With tools, and paint-pots, and lengths of wood, and stuffing, and wheels. Half-finished toys were scattered all over the table, and a box of finished ones rested underneath. The mania that had been surging in me now came roaring up full-force.

Because time was short! Time was so very short! Tomorrow was Christmas Eve!

Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and I was behind in my work!

I yipped in alarm, sprang down from the sink in a sprightly hop, and rushed to my workbench.

And I knew, as I picked up my paintbrush to apply rouge-spots to the cheeks of a dolly, what I was. I knew what would happen to me this time every year, not ruled by the phases of the moon but by the seasons, when the change would set in.

Helpless to resist, caught in the grips of the dreadful transformation, compelled by my hungers and driven to do unspeakable things … with no folklore, no gypsy woman, no one to help me or tell me how to break the curse …

The terrible curse of the were-elf!

*******************

christChristine Morgan works the overnight shift in a psychiatric facility, which plays havoc with her sleep schedule but allows her a lot of writing time. A lifelong reader, she also reviews, beta-reads, occasionally edits and dabbles in self-publishing. Her other interests include gaming, history, superheroes, crafts, cheesy disaster movies and training to be a crazy cat lady. She can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/christinemorganauthor