David’s Haunted Library: The End Is All We See

The End Is All We See  contains two horrific stories from M.F Wahl and A.J. Brown. The book begins with intros from each author saying that when they met they wanted to try an experiment together. This book became that experiment. Both authors felt that their writing style complimented each other nicely and they both had story ideas which happen after an apocalypse.

The first story is Purple Haze by M.F. Wahl. It follows a band of survivors who left Earth in a spaceship in order to find another Earth-like planet to live on. The ship crash lands on a beautiful looking planet but there are only three survivors. The crew realizes their situation is bleak and things get worse as they explore outside the ship and discover something in the air is making them want to harm themselves and each other. Purple Haze becomes a blood bath with a shocking ending. M.F. Wahl uses vivid imagery to describe her characters situation and the planet they are exploring. What happens to the explorers is described so well that it’s enough to make you thankful for the air you breathe.

The next story is Run For The Flame by A.J. Brown. It starts simply enough with a bunch of teenagers behind a protective wall, about to race up a snow covered hill. There is more here than meets the eye though, they are living through an ice age and the wall they live behind is breaking down, their only hope is a tower on top of the hill.  The teenagers have a short period of time to retrieve a flame in the tower before they freeze to death. The problem is nobody has ever survived the run and without the flame, the community will die. This was an excellent story, the ending was a little confusing but I love all the characters. They are in a race against time, facing an impossible task but each one has a different emotional reaction to the situation. You feel for all of them and watching them go through what they do is excruciating.

What both of these stories have in common is a fresh spin on an old idea, they both take place after a catastrophic event and what transpires next is something that I haven’t seen in Science fiction or horror. Both authors tell an excellent story and the length of each one can be described as perfect. They’re short but pack a punch that you might not recover from.  To say their experiment worked is an understatement and I hope this isn’t the last collaboration between these authors.

 

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Clockwork Wonderland Author Guest Blog Post: Michele Roger

 

Alice in Wonderland: the Bridge Between Reality and Fantasy

By

Michele Roger

 

It’s a Fine Line

           I discovered Lewis Carol and “Alice in Wonderland” later than most children.  While many of my friends tell me they read it with parents as a childhood bedtime story, I didn’t read the classic tale until high school.  Admittedly, by the time it was assigned to me, I was resentful.  Why was an Honors English class reading a kids book?

 

Thankfully, I was a goody-two-shoes and wanted to impress my teacher.  I dug into the story, assuming it would be a quick read, an easy paper and take me that much closer to kicking off my Spring Break.  Like so many things in my teenage life, I was wrong.  Alice in Wonderland consumed me.  It resembled many aspects of my real life and the people in it.  Epiphany hit me somewhere in the wee hours of the drive from Michigan to Florida as I sat reading in the car on a family Spring Break trip in April of 1988.  I was suffering the microcosm of my dysfunctional family crammed in the confines of a compact Ford Escort for eighteen hours when it hit me.  Lewis Carol took the extreme personalities of people he must have met somewhere in his life and turned them into the most fantastic creatures/characters to help tell a story.

 

I knew people like the caterpillar. I had parents of friends who smoked hash and made it look enlightening.  Caterpillar people loved parties, where jazz played softly in the background and martinis, were served in the library or study where guests could check out all of the books they had read.  These same people rarely spoke to their kids (my friends), drove expensive cars and paid for things with large wads of cash from their wallet.  All the while, they seemed to sit in a lofty leather chair and do nothing.  How they made their money was a mystery to me.  Caterpillars seemed addicted to the excitement of impending metamorphosis and bragged about their state of great change, telling their children they should aspire to it.  In reality, caterpillar people never turned into anything beautiful; much to the disappointment of their children.  I, on the other hand, thought they were entertaining.

 

The rest of that sophomore year and through my first summer job, I decided to find fantasy characters in my own reality.  There was no option out with a glass that said, “Drink me”,  to avoid driving in a hatchback with my parents, younger sister and two German shepherds to go places.  Heading to summer family events certainly felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole at sixteen.  I had the same tumbling feeling when I got my first summer job testing water samples and writing mind-numbing reports for the State of Michigan.

 

Mad Tea Party

The summer of 1988, I met my own personal Cheshire at a beach party. While drinks were flowing under the cover of darkness, I was drunk on a boy. One part bad boy, one part overwhelmingly charming and kind, stunningly handsome one minute, gone the next, not to be seen for weeks; leaving me with the memory of his smile.  He was well read but only shared his love of books quietly, unlike the caterpillars.  As I waited for him to materialize, I read books in his absence, hoping it would give us a chance to have something to talk about.

With all of the reading of classics and sci-fi, something inside me stirred, I was afraid to leave the safety of summer and high school.  Wonderland, Orwell’s versions of earth, the worlds of Omni magazine short stories had become a refuge.  Every college application, scholarship essay and step towards graduation, college and looming adulthood threatened to take my fantasy characters and imaginary places away.  My parents were pushing hard that I change my major from special education to law.  Secretly, I longed to be a writer.

One simply didn’t spring changing my parents well thought plans for my future.  They had their hearts set on a family lawyer.  I couldn’t just change and be a writer. Suggesting such a thing took cunning and skill.  I took an assessment test and had it sent to my mother at home so she would open it.  I waited until the weekend when I knew the cocktails would be flowing and pressed her about my results.  In reality, the school librarian had already informed me of the results, but I wanted to present my case with hard evidence.

As she stirred her drink, prepping dinner, she told me that she nor my father believed in such tests.  It said I should become a writer or a journalist.  Everyone knew girls couldn’t make any kind of living doing either of those things.  All the big work went to men.  I sighed.

 

Return to the Realm of the Queen of Hearts

It’s fair to say that I didn’t understand the Queen of Hearts and the notion of yelling, “Off with their heads!” until I heard my inner motherhood scream, “if I see that kind of behavior again, young lady, heads will roll.”  Fast forward to 2009, I was a mother of young teenagers and unknowingly, I had returned to Wonderland.

As an act of preparation for life, I read Alice in Wonderland to my kids.  We had moved into an old farmhouse in the country.  It was easy to see the characters that real people could be. Raising teenagers required escape.  I began to write, using everything I had learned from my trips down the rabbit hole.  Parenthood was the white rabbit, always in a hurry but never the less, magical and maddening and a beautiful chaos.  Lines between reality and fantasy were blurred from exhaustion but it made life all the more like Alice’s; adventurous and full of discovery.  Three novels and one children’s book later, I am thankful for Lewis Caroll.  I would have made a lousy lawyer anyways.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493493560&sr=8-1&keywords=clockwork+wonderland

 

Michele Roger is the author of the Sci-Fi novel, “Dark Matter” (2009), “The Conservatory” (2013) and “Eternal Kingdom: A Vampire Story” (2015).  She is also the author of the “Mr. Kiwi” Children’s book series under her pen name, Michele Beresford.  When she isn’t writing, she is a harpist; performing and teaching in Detroit.

https://www.amazon.com/Michele-Roger/e/B00FJQIMJ6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1492955702&sr=1-5

 

David’s Haunted Library: Greylock

David's Haunted Library

27108969Alexei Georg was born to be a famous musician, his father was a pianist and Alexei’s only desire was to follow in his footsteps. Alexei has created a name for himself by writing and performing a sonata called October. At least that’s what people believe, Alexei has a dark secret. He found the sonata in an old 19th century Russian sea chest. When he performs it a dark creature appears and stalks him and now his career is going downhill.

To make matters worse Alexei is having an affair and his wife has been murdered with the evidence pointing to him. In order to revive his career Alexei plans to write a symphony based on the songs of the beluga whales while in isolation on Mt. Greylock. Though even alone on the mountain he can’t escape the creature that he has brought into the world or the accusations of murder. Alexei must face the darkness he has unleashed or it could use him as a conduit forever.

Greylock by Paula Cappa is a supernatural murder mystery where mythology and music create a dark mood. The music itself is like a character and what and how something is being played has an effect on everyone else in the book. It’s through the music that evil gets unleashed, but it’s also how Alexei expresses his emotions. Music is his life and it’s what makes him happy, even if some think he is not really that good at it. Alexei is a complicated character, at first I found I didn’t like him because he is having an affair, talks about murdering his wife and he is lying about the music he creates. Though as you get to know him you see him as someone who wants to live up to the family legacy and is willing to do anything to do so. This is a need that’s easy to relate to. By the end of the book you see a very different Alexei then you see a the beginning and its the character’s transformation that makes the book memorable.

Another thing I liked about Greylock was how the mystery unfolds. there are two different mysteries going on at the same time and in the case of the murder mystery there were times in the story where I was pretty sure that three different people were the murderer but I was wrong each time. This was enough to hold my interest throughout and the other mystery of who the dark entity is was just as compelling.

Greylock is not your average horror novel, it’s more personal. There is no over the top violence but you see Alexei deal with such personal horrors as abandonment, betrayal, wanting something he can’t have, his own insecurities as a musician and his need for fame. On a smaller level we also see the other characters in the book deal with the same issues and see what different paths their choices lead them in. Greylock is the kind of book you may have to read twice to catch all the subtle details, it’s about creating a mood and not in your face like some horror is. If you enjoy a good supernatural mystery then you should check it out.

David’s Haunted Library: Of Foster Homes And Flies

David's Haunted Library

51-jpmrearl-_sx311_bo1204203200_12-year-old Denny has not had an easy life, his father died and his mother is an alcoholic but he believes in keeping a positive outlook and doesn’t let it get to him. What he really wants in life is to accomplish something and for Denny that comes in the form of a spelling bee. He was too scared to sign up for it last year so to redeem himself this year he signed up and has been practicing non-stop. Life happens though and one week away from the spelling bee he wakes to find his mother has died.

Denny and his mother have had a complicated relationship that borders on mental abuse. Danny wants to do the right thing and call 911 but he doesn’t want to get stuck in a foster home and never compete in the spelling bee which to him is more than a competition. Denny decides that the best course of action is to keep his dead mother a secret until after the event which won’t be easy with the hot weather in New Orleans.

Of Foster Homes and Flies by Chad Lutzke is a brilliant coming of age story. This isn’t your average horror book, it’s more like a human drama with elements of horror in it. Denny is a child but is suddenly forced into an adult situation and isn’t sure how to handle it, but he does what he feels he has to do with a guilty conscience eating away at him the whole time.

Denny is a kid that you have to love, what he really wants is to be a normal kid but that can’t happen so he feels the least he can do is become spelling bee champion before he starts his lonely existence in a foster home.  Denny isn’t totally alone though, he has a friend named Carter and meets a hitchhiking girl named Sam. Denny never lets on what he’s going through and both characters still manage to help him in their own ways. I got the feeling that Chad Lutzke really understood how kids would act in this kind of situation because all the characters came across as real kids.

Of Foster Homes And Flies is a masterpiece, the length of the story is perfect and the main character may not be the kid next door but he wants to be. Denny is growing into a man but has no one to help guide him so he tries to figure out things on his own. He does a good job wrestling with his emotions and taking care of himself. I could hardly put down this book. I love the thoughts that Denny deals with along with the choices he has to make while feeling completely alone.  You have to feel for the character and I love how even when he does something bad he feels shame but sees it as something he must do. Of Foster Homes And Flies is a beautiful story that fans of all genres of books will enjoy.

David’s Haunted Library: Writers On Writing Volumes 1-4

David's Haunted Library

writers-on-writing-omnibus-193x3002xHave you ever thought about being a writer? There are lots of places where you can go to get advice on writing. You could take classes, buy books on the subject or find websites dedicated to the craft of writing. With all the different places to go for information, it may be hard to find what works best. That being said, the best place to go for advice is to authors that have already been published. Writers on Writing Volume 1 – 4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide from Crystal Lake Publishing is a great resource for newbie writers.

Some of the subjects covered in this book include how you can learn from rejection, making time for writing, character building, finding your voice, how to network, what to expect from writing your first novel and much more. In Brian Hodge’s article, The Infrastructure Of The Gods he gives tips on getting started. Such as getting rid of distractions like turning off your wi-fi and remembering that instant gratification is not something you get from writing a novel. Brian also gives good advice on never giving up because new authors are always breaking through into the mainstream.

Another one I liked was What Right Do I Have To Write by Jasper Bark. Jasper talks about how the circumstances are never right for writing. There are always excuses not to do it but the only thing you can do is make the time and let nothing get in your way. I also like how he shoots down the fantasy that writing is a dream job. He says its fun sometimes but you are working under nightmare conditions, you may spend up to a year completing your first work and even the pros laugh at the idea that writing is a dream job.

One beneficial article in this collection is Finding Your Voice by Lynda E. Rucker. I would  have thought that finding your voice would come natural but in reality it takes awhile. Lynda mentions that it took a long time for her to create a voice that wasn’t an imitation of another author’s voice. She then states that finding your voice is the same as finding your identity. The way to find it is by realizing you have something to say and what you think is important. One thing I learned here is that there are several important aspects to writing.

Even if you’re not a writer and read this book you can get a lot out of it, such as a whole new respect for writing as an art form . My favorite part of this book was entitled A First-Time Novelist’s Odyssey by William Gorman. William takes you all through his five-year journey in writing his novel from doing research, living with the characters in your head, and getting their story just right. He talks about the struggle to find his voice and the massive amounts of revisions before the book was finally published. Writing maybe the most complex art form there is and Writers On Writing is a book that can help you on the path to being a better writer and possibly getting published too.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

David’s Haunted Library: The Human Condition

DavidsHaunted

28368109Terror, murder and madness are all part of the human condition. We try to hide the fact that we have evil thoughts inside us and we don’t speak about the things that scare us the most. Like what bad things a person can do to another or even to themselves in a desperate situation. The Human Condition by Mark Taylor is a collection of 17 stories that have to do with the dark side of life, such as what happens when a person is driven to madness or faced with their worst nightmare.

The first story in this collection and one of my favorites is Christmas At The Mill. The story is about a man named Jimmy who gets trapped in a room at his work over the holidays. He wanted some peace and quiet and got much more than he bargained for. I love the simplicity of this story, it’s just one character and his struggle to escape his situation. I loved how the tension builds in this story and how everything was described. Mark proves here that you don’t need a lot of elements to tell a great story.

Another good one was Bobo. This was about a man named Tim who works as a clown on a famous children’s TV show. Things start to go bad for Tim as he starts having visions of everyone in the studio audience dying. Is Tim going insane or is his subconscious trying to tell him something? Once again I loved the storytelling here, I liked how Tim sees himself as crazy, but as the story moves along you see that’s not the case. I especially liked the ending to this one.

Each story in this book is well written and focuses on characters that are just average people put in gruesome, horrifying situations.  I love character driven fiction so I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology. Mark Taylor made me like every person in this book, which made it that much scarier when they were put in danger. When I finished reading this I wondered if Mark Taylor can make short stories this good, then his novels must be excellent.

David’s Haunted Library: A Stitch Of Madness

David's Haunted Library

28473957What do you get when you have a man driven to madness by an old urban legend, a girl who owns a rag doll that might contain the spirit of her dead mother and a man who may have just gotten a visit from the devil? You get A Stitch Of Madness by A.J. Brown. This anthology contains three stories that all have to do with someone going insane and having to deal with the consequences.

The first story and my favorite  in this book is Catherine’s Well, it deals with a man named Johnny who goes to prison after being accused of killing his best friend Buster. As Johnny tells his story we see that the truth behind the murder is much more complicated. What I liked most about this story is seeing how Johnny reacts to Buster’s decent into madness. At one point Johnny asks himself why he can’t leave his friend as he goes insane and he remembers how Buster was always a good friend through good times and bad. The tragedy in this story is Johnny is punished for his loyalty and witnesses something so horrible that he will never forget it.

The second story is Stitches which is about an abused girl dealing with the death of her mother who owns a rag doll that speaks in her mother’s voice. This is psychological horror at its best because there is a mystery to what is really going on in this story. The imagery in this one was great with the description of the doll’s eyes and her stitches. I also loved the dark mood of this story as it shows what a history of abuse can do to a person. One line in Stitches which describes the main point of the story is: “It’s hard to fix torn material.”

The last story is called A Sickly Sweet Scent which deals with a man who may be the devil looking for work on a farm and maybe a soul also. This story had a Twilight Zone feel to it. I liked the dialogue between characters and the way the story gets more complex as it moves along. In the beginning I thought this was going to be a story of good versus evil but the author took a different approach with it. This tale might make you hate grapes when you’re done reading it

I listened to the audible version of this book read by John Malone and I felt that John’s narration added a lot to each story. John’s deep voice added a sense of menace to the scarier parts of the stories and his delivery was perfect. Each story here reminded me of Stephen King because they are all character driven tales. You feel for all the characters here, when bad things happen to them it’s terrifying, even though the characters are flawed and might have deserved what was coming. A Stitch Of Madness is an example of great horror storytelling that you should put on your to be read list.