Fright Before Christmas Anthology

It’s the most wonderful time of year…or is it?

Christmas Eve is a night of mystery and magic, but not always in ways we expect. Things lurk in the shadows and they’re not the least bit jolly or merry. Let’s just say some presents are better left unopened.

‘Tis the season to be screaming along with our thirteen tales of holiday horrors. Ghosts. Monsters. Demons. And more!

This Christmas, be careful what you wish for…

Author List:
Richard Ankers
Jackie Horsfall
Boyd Reynolds
Lea Storry
Ally Mathews
Laura Pauling
Ty Drago
Jessica Bayliss
Judith Graves
Andrea Stanet
Patrick Hueller
Dax Varley
Medeia Sharif

Pre-Order Sale and Book Links:
Goodreads

Pre-Order ebook sale for $1.99 – regular price $3.99
Amazon
B&N
iBooks
I’m very excited to be a part of this anthology. It promises to be lots of fun!

New Adult Paranormal Anthology Lacing Shadows released!

lacing shadows official cover The NA Paranormal Anthology, Lacing Shadows, is finally available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Lose yourself in the Shadows.

Five young women each encounter a different supernatural force: seductive werewolves, shadowy vampires, dangerous fae, mysterious ghosts, and nightmare creatures.

Lace yourself in scintillating tales of fated meetings, undying love, and eternal life…

Lacing Shadows features New Adult paranormal tales from five talented authors.

 

My story, “Spirit of the Wolf,” is featured along some great stories by some of my very talented colleagues. So exciting!

Spirit of the Wolf
Asia, a young college student, struggles between two seductive temptations—her boyfriend, Jesse, and a new friend, Nati. Meanwhile, hidden forces strive to draw out the wolf spirit inside her. Will she embrace her nature…or have it driven out against her will? In the end, the spirit of the wolf may be the only thing that can save her and those she holds dear.

Check it out, and when you do, please remember to leave a rating and/or review! Thanks & enjoy!

Brief Reflections on 2013

214px-Adult_deer_tick

I try to avoid all the usual end-of-year trends toward lists and replays, but when the alarm went off this morning, I started thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish today. This led to the realization that 2013 has been a year of some high highs and some devastating lows. I’m typically a middle-of-the-roader, so for me, these extremes are noteworthy.

Personally, on the most positive end of the spectrum, I had three stories published and actually got to see my name in physical print book form twice. When I saw the print version of Stalkers, I won’t lie, I nearly (very nearly) cried. These were huge accomplishments for me, and they gave me the confidence and drive to think of “novelist” as an actual job title and a real possibility. So there was that.

At almost the same time (I think it was literally a week after my first acceptance), my whole little house-of-cards life was collapsed by a stupid, six-legged beast the size of a pinhead. Ugh. I have developed an undying hatred of all tick-kind. While I won’t get into all the details of all the ways Lyme disease ruined the past six months, I will say that I have sworn off card-house building and anything domino related. And I’m recovering, so there’s that.

A small consolation from the Lyme debacle was that it inspired a mini story. When I started the first course of antibiotics, a friend showed me a contest prompt: write a 40-word story that begins and ends with the same word. I had nothing else to do but lay in bed in pain, so I transferred all my negative feelings of the moment into a story. I never submitted it because, at the time, I was mentally incapable of figuring out the hows.

But here is the mini-short that Lyme made:

Tick needed a human to pass the lyme to. He waited on a blade of grass, hitched a ride on Deer, and hopped on Cat’s scruff. A human appeared.

Chicken chomped the insect. “You’re not giving my human lyme, Tick.”

 

Clearly, I was not in my right mind, but it made me smile for a bit. I wrote two versions. This seemed the stronger of the two.

 

Ironically, I had written a novel several years ago in which one of the villains used a tick-like weapon. I wonder if I was having some kind of premonition.

 

Anyway, overall, 2013 taught me a lot and assigned me lots of work to do for 2014. Hopefully, I’m up to the tasks. I don’t do resolutions, but I have some goals in mind.

  1. To sell or indie-publish a novel this year
  2. To transition from “freelance writer” to “author” as a job title
  3. To get on solid financial footing

 

Do you have any major accomplishments or lessons to share from the past year? What are your goals for 2014?

Thousand Prompts Contest Entry

A snippet for the 1,000 Prompts, $1,000 Writing Contest:

 

An explosion rocks the castle as a boulder crashes into a wall below the south tower. Several books from the uppermost shelves fall helplessly to the earth. Emilio manages to duck out of the way of one musty volume, but another hits his shoulder, deflected by his blood-streaked armor. Emilio’s chest and back plates are dirty and dented, his helm lost hours ago. He shakes a sweaty clump of dark hair out of his eyes.

“Are you insane, old man? I can’t leave! What about my father? My mother?  My brothers might be falling in battle while I am shut in here listening to your madness. I won’t run.”

“Highness, your father has ordered it. And if you do not, your beloved family will be doomed. You must return the artifact before the next full moon rises over Umberdon. Otherwise, Milton will be invincible.”

Emilio grips a handful of his own hair and squeezes, wishing to tear it from his head along with everything Astrark has said in the minutes since he captured Emilio, spiriting him away from the fight. The silver edge of his wrist gauntlet feels cool against his forehead. As much as he wants to choke the old scholar, Astrark is right. There is no one else with Emilio’s abilities. Not here, and not now.

He crosses the room. The volume of steel clanging on steel increases, assaulting him in a roar as he opens the balcony doors to take one last look at his family before accepting his duty.

The field is a mess of bodies, mud, blood, and weaponry. At the edge of one garden hedge, Emilio’s eldest brother holds off two opponents with a short spear in one hand and a flail in the other. Not his usual combination—he must have lost his sword and dirk. Emilio last saw his younger twin brothers heading into the forest, longbows slung over their backs. He looks down, and on the stone patio, his father hurls conjured balls of ice at the invaders.

For a split second, King Tomas looks up. His eyes meet Emilio’s, imploring his son to make haste. The full moon is only two weeks coming. The king’s guards will hold the castle.

His head drooping, Emilio pounds his fist into the railing. His hands clench, dirt-packed nails digging into rough palms. After a moment, he turns to the scholar. “All right. Tell me again, quickly, what to do.”

Following behind Astrark, Emilio catches a glimpse of himself in one of the castle looking glasses. His dark hair curls and mats in places. A pendant of the family standard—three swirls, symbolizing the wind, circled by seven stars—hangs around his neck, a gift from his mother last year when he finally reached the age of manhood. A brownish-red slash divides his bottom lip in two, and his normally tan skin is mottled with black, blue, green, and red stains.

Emilio chuckles at the memory of Darnel, one of Milton’s newer captains, delivering the blow that split his lip. Emilio could easily use magic and avoid marring his pretty face, but honestly, there’s nothing like a good brawl to get the blood pumping. He recalls the satisfying crunch of Darnel’s nose under the impact of a well-placed elbow.

He touches his medallion and hurries after Astrark.

They travel through hidden stairwells that are unknown to Emilio. How much had the scholar been keeping from the royal family? Down and down, through the cellar, past unfamiliar rows of cells.

“Ast, what is this place? A dungeon beneath the dungeons?”

“Magical prisons, Highness.”

Emilio would have to ask Father about this place later.

“Where are you taking me?” the prince grumbles. The heat of battle is starting to cool, and his wounds and aches begin to complain. Not badly yet, but it won’t be long until they are screaming bloody hell.

“My lord, precision is key, and according to my calculations—”

“All right, I understand. I’m just anxious to get there and return. You’re sure time will move differently there?”

“Just a guess, my lord. I may be mistaken. Time may move at the same pace or faster. Best to find the medallion as quickly as possible. Ah, here we are. Are you ready?”

A rickety wooden ladder leads up to a square door.

“Where will this take me?” Emilio asks, looking up at the hatch in wonder.

“Er…the gazebo, my lord. A hidden trap door.”  Astrark fidgets with his fingers.

“What?” Emilio shouts. “Why not walk straight out the back door and paint a bull’s eye on my chest? I’ll be right in the middle of the battle!”

“Yes, my lord. Your father is aware and says that he will take care of it. Do you trust him, even if your trust in me has wavered?”

Emilio scowls at the man who has taught him since childhood. “I never said—”

“No, and now is no time to discuss it. I assure you, this is absolutely necessary.”

“Fine. Let me be gone, then.”

The ladder creaks and lists with Emilio’s weight as he climbs to the top. The trap door sends down a shower of dust, adding layer of gray over the other colors painting the canvas of his face. He eases the door open. Milton’s forces are held at bay.

Light streams down over Emilio, temporarily blinding him after spending so long in the catacombs of his home, the home he might not find when—and if—he returns. He takes a deep breath. With a nod back at Astrark, he pushes up through the opening.

No one notices him. Emilio has a moment to take in what will be his last image of home for a while. A line of bodies tangles together through the tree line. Every few seconds, a green-clad figure falls with an arrow sticking from it. Apparently, one or both of the twins are still alive,  probably engaged in a morbid contest to see how many men they can assassinate before they have to relocate.

A strong, frosty wind kicks up around Emilio, blurring his view. He spins to see his father chanting, hands outstretched toward him as if longing to embrace his middle son. Green-clad soldiers, led by Darnel, rush toward Emilio. He has been spotted. He spares a wave to his father, his king, and then turns away to concentrate.

He has spent countless hours training for this. Emilio blocks out the impending attack and sounds of battle, staring straight ahead until he visualizes the rectangular space, opening and widening before him. He does not know where or when it will take him, but if Ast is right, it will lead him to the object of this quest.

The pounding of his heart in his ears creates a rapid drumbeat. Marching drums. He only needs to step forward into the unknown.

The ground beneath him shakes. Darnel and his men arrive at the base of the gazebo. As the first boot stomps on the bottom step, Emilio turns to fix Darnel with a smirk, a wink, and an obscene hand gesture. He steps through the portal. It blinks shut behind him, stifling Darnel’s frustrated howl.

He focuses again to find the miniscule glimmer of white that will show him a way out of this emptiness. There is no sound or sensation. The darkness closes in. Emilio’s breath constricts. He reminds himself that this is just an illusion as the first fingers of fear tickle his consciousness.

What if you don’t find it fast enough, Emilio?  Will you be lost forever in nothingness? Will you fail before you even begin?

He controls these thoughts and pushes them aside. Squeezing his eyes shut, he struggles to feel something. To feel some sense of power within this void that always reduces him to a small, helpless speck.

Opening his eyes again, he scans ahead. And then he finds it. The light. Such a thin sliver it might be his imagination. It isn’t. He reaches for it. Power surges down his arm, beyond his fingertips. The light grows into a door. Emilio steps through and studies the surroundings.

It is daytime and noisy. The air holds a crisp bite. Sharp stinks make his nose burn. He seems to be in a tunnel yet above ground—he can see daylight.

He can turn toward the portal or continue in the direction he faces. Looking back is not an option. Emilio walks forward and begins his search.

 

Here is a link to the prompt I chose:

7. Create your own fantasy world using any of the following elements: magic, elves, secret dungeon, a captured prince, and a self-replenishing bag of gold.

 

And here is a link to the overall contest.

 

Wish me luck & feel free to leave constructive feedback!

Guest Author: Jodie Pierce

In Vein Best 3crime bites and so do i 1

I have had the recent pleasure of becoming acquainted with and working with author Jodie Pierce. She is coordinating the upcoming Supernatural Writer’s Group charity anthology, Wild Cards. In August,she released the paranormal thriller, Crime Bites and So Do I. Here, Jodie shares some thoughts about her work and writing in general:

Bio:

Jodie Pierce is married to her hubby, John who gave her a storybook happily-ever-after. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio but traveled to Brasil when she was 16 years old as an exchange student and she continues to travel the US with her hubby. Jodie started writing as a teenager and even wrote for her schools’ newspaper and yearbook.

She has had a fascination with vampires since they were introduced to her as a child so she’s had a long history with them. It wasn’t until she started reading the Anne Rice vampire books in college that she was truly inspired to stop writing sappy teen romance stories and focus on the vampires she loved. You will find some of her experiences from Brasil in her stories. Many of her stories have historical or researched facts as she also enjoys research and learning about new places.

She has published four short novels (Eternal Press), a short story in “Midnight Thirst 2”, an anthology (Melange Books), has five self-published books (with 3 more charity anthologies by the end of 2013). She’s published her first charity vampire anthology book with various Authors named In Vein, where all the proceeds of the book went to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She loves helping out other new Authors, runs blog hops and Facebook events for them to help market them. She has her own small publishing company named Vampirical Lyrical Publishing where she takes on new Authors and helps them see their creations come to life. She’s always busy with the next great vampire story as her mind is non-stop and even plagues her dreams. She’s co-manager of the Facebook Supernatural Writer’s Group where they put together 2 charity books a year where all proceeds will be donated to a special charity.

 

On what sparked her passion for books and good stories:

My parents were always good readers and I picked up the hobby from them. I just started writing short stories about my life, moved to romantic fiction and then was inspired to write about vampires. After years of trying to get published, I was finally introduced to publishing houses and later on, self-publishing. I was ecstatic to see my stories come to life and to be able to share with others.

On the books that inspired her:

Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned were the first books to inspire me. I then read Anne Rices’ erotic novels and found that I could also write stories that were similar though I preferred the vampire romance genre.

On the challenges she’s faced in her writing career:

Marketing and promoting have been the thorn in my side. Even with the publishing company, the marketing was left up to me.

Best moment as a writer?

The best moment was when I got the email stating they wanted to publish my book. Nine months before, I had sent my manuscript to them and they refused it. The, Twilight broke out and I resubmitted it to them upon the request of my hubby. They took it and when I read the email, I thought someone was messing with me. It turned out to be real and I was really excited

Author idol?

Anne Rice is my first idol. J.K. Rowling is a close second but she doesn’t write about vampires which is unfortunate. Christopher Paolini gave me inspiration for fantasy and the Anne Rampling series encouraged me to write the one erotic book I wrote as well.

On seeing herself in her characters:

Absolutely. Most of my characters are based on the people that have come into my life in many different ways. Sometimes, just their personality or physical traits are included in my characters.

Any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Absolutely! Fear of rejection can cause many authors to give up and quit their dreams. Also, as in my case, I’ve typed for so long that I now have Carpal Tunnel and have to limit my typing each day which just kills me. I have to write and I enjoy it so it’s very hard to stifle my creativeness. I’ve started writing ideas down in that notebook I mentioned so I can write a little more later.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?

I have never wanted to quit. Rejection at first made me feel horrible but as time went on, I learned it’s all part of the process and can brush it off as it comes along.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Write what you want, not what you think publishers want. Write from your heart and the creative juices flow more easily. Jump in with both feet and bring your ideas to life through your writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up and support your fellow authors. You can learn a lot from them and it will make you a better writer. If I gave up every time I was rejected, I wouldn’t be published. Take the bull by the hands and make your career what you want it to be.

Where to find Jodie:

www.thevampirequeen1@gmail.com

www.thevampirequeen1.blogspot.com

www.vampiricallyrical.blogspot.com

www.thevampirequeen1.weebly.com

www.facebook.jodie.pierce779

www.amazon.com/authors/jodiepierce

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=the+vampire+queen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/supernaturalwritersgroup/

 

It’s Official!

Urban Harvest Cover

I’m a bona fide published author of fiction! Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City is now available at Amazon. The anthology features stories by Laurie Wenham, Laurie Treacy, Tara Hill, Don Corcoran, Saif Ansari, Donna Ansari, Alex Shvartsman, Sean Sakamoto, and me. I’ve read a few of the stories, and they are quite good. I hope to do a review shortly. Anyway, please check out the book and I hope you’ll support it. All proceeds go to City Harvest and will help feed the hungry in New York City.

August 2013 News

Stalkers cover by Rene Folsom

Stalkers cover by Rene Folsom

I have had a few exciting events recently. I submitted two stories for two anthologies, and was accepted to both. Yay!

The first is a paranormal short story, “Under the Mattress,” that will appear in the anthology Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in NYC. The proceeds from this collection will benefit the organization City Harvest. The expected release date for this eBook is September of this year.

The second story is titled “Lucid” and will be part of the Stalkers anthology edited by Cynthia Shepp and Rene Folsom. I’ll update when I know a release date.

I’m very excited about both these projects and can’t wait to read the other stories in the collections.

On a slightly separate note, I got the notion to try my hand at writing a comic script. At the moment, I’m converting a short children’s story I wrote a while back. The process is much harder than I expected, and I never thought it would be easy. But the conversion process is showing me where the story is lacking in detail or where it includes unnecessary detail, so I’m glad I decided to do it.

Keep your eyes peeled for information about the publications and have a great day!

 

A Free Write and a Glimpse into the Process

kitties 2 editedAbout a week ago, we had some time to kill in my writing group, and we decided to do an impromptu exercise. One of our members gave us an opening line, and we wrote for 10 minutes. The following was my result. Whether or not it turns into anything longer remains to be seen.

The kittens were the first to sense it coming.

Mango’s orange fur puffed out, her tiger-striped tail swished, and the black spot on her back arched upward. Chutney crouched low. His green eyes dilated, and his paws spread, unsheathing sharp claws that gripped the carpet beneath him. Mango growled. Chutney hissed. I turned my head toward the window.

“Shh…” I cooed at the kitties who were my only companions at the moment. “Easy now. Let’s not panic.”

I thought of calling Ray. He should be in his room at this hour. I didn’t want to wake him if he was sleeping. I knew he had an early day at the conference where he was presenting his paper on the failings of The Dark Knight movies.

No, I wouldn’t bother him.

Outside, the outlines of the trees whipped side to side, and the wind beat the metal chimes into a squealing frenzy.

“Maybe I’ll just check the storm windows,” I said to the cats that were still in their battle stances, yowling at me to “Do something, lady!”

Rising from my favorite spot in the recliner by the fireplace, I grabbed a crutch, settled it under my arm, and hopped toward the windows. When I reached them, I shrieked and fell onto my butt. There was a face on the other side of the glass.

Not the worst thing ever for 10 minutes. If I were to continue the story, I’d stay away from making it scary – at least not at this point. Maybe it’s Ray at the window and this could turn into a sweet romance. Or maybe it’s the neighbor’s dog, and the kittens will go to war with him. Or maybe, I don’t know…dragons.

I heard or read somewhere today (not for the first time) that people often ask where authors get their ideas. Well, there it is – it starts with an image or a line and stories just kind of evolve from there. That’s the easy part, when the imagination runs wild. The work comes after you get the ideas out and you have to craft them into something.

If I ever decide to take this to a conclusion, maybe I’ll post the finished product.

Tell Me What You’re Reading 2/21

Open_book_01Because it’s Thursday, so why not?

I have a tendency to read multiple books at once, and while I read mostly Fantasy, I love to branch out. So I’m always looking for recommendations.

This week I have read/am reading:

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

    While I have read the HP series about a billion times, my daughter has recently taken an interest in the series. Since this is her school’s month-long reading program, PARP (Parents As Reading Partners) and she tackled the first three books on her own, we decided to read this one together. It’s a whole different experience reading it aloud with her and watching her discover the world I fell in love with years ago. We’re having a blast with it. She particularly enjoyed doing the voice of the Sorting Hat.

  • Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

    I just finished this one last night and although I started reading it with no expectations, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much this YA Paranormal resonated with me. It was a quite moving examination of the bonds that hold humans together even beyond this life. I especially appreciated that the love stories were not all romantic, but delved (to use Kim’s language) into friendships, sibling relationships and mentor/mentee bonds. A beautiful story.

  • A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson

    Our library decided to run a program this month—have a blind date with a book. They wrapped up a bunch of books from all genres and you just pick one up at random with no idea what you are going to get. It’s meant to get readers out of their comfort zones, so of course I jumped right in. Hmm…it’s a little farther out of my comfort zone than I was expecting, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but I will finish it. From the 32 pages I’ve read so far, there seems to be a romantic element and there is a motif of describing East African birds as the main characters are bird watchers. The writing is actually engaging, I’m just finding it hard to connect to the characters so far. But I will persevere.

     

  • The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

    I’ve had this one on my Nook for a long time, and I just happened to glance at the prologue today. That was all it took to suck me right in. I have no idea where the story is going, but it seems there are angels and demons. Color me sold.

So that’s what I’m reading at the moment. How about you? Throw some recommendations my way!


The Beauty of Dragons

blue dragon

Why must those westerners tell such terrible stories about me?

An electric blue, red-eyed dragon, crawling up my right forearm, wings spread as if about to launch into flight. My husband and I agreed I could get that tattoo once I accomplish a specific goal. I can’t wait. I’ve always found dragons beautiful, especially blue ones. So imagine my shock last week when, during my writers group, one of my friends said, “But dragons aren’t really beautiful, are they?”

Having never considered any other possibility, I had to think about it. Who wouldn’t find them beautiful, and what would affect the beholder’s perspective?

Culture would have to factor in. While dragon legends show the creatures along a diverse continuum, the polar opposites are the eastern and western views. Eastern cultures revere dragons as lucky, protective, magical and heroic. Old western lore tends to depict them am as monstrous, winged killers that burned innocent villages and hoarded treasure. In the latter light, there is certainly little to see as lovely, right? Who in their right mind could appreciate a reptilian bat likely to toast the skin off your bones? These western images illicit fear, not admiration.

Although I’ve been subject to the Smaugs and the Reign of Fire mean dragons, I still can’tcannot bring myself to imagine then as anything less than majestic. If anything, I find the badass dragons as awesome as the nice ones. Killer whales and tigers are amazing despite the fact that they could make a meal of me without batting an eye. You’d be hard pressed to get me close to one, but I love to watch them from a distance. (I might not be able to resist a trained tiger if I ever had the chance to pet one, but an Orca? No way.) I suspect if I ever found myself in a world were malicious dragons exist, I’d probably feel the same way. They’d be incredible…from the other side of a 100-foot pole. However, if I were lucky enough to encounter benevolent dragons, you wouldn’t be able to get me back to planet earth. Until that day comes, I will enjoy immersing myself in and creating tales of sleek, powerful, flying beauties that reflect every color and hue.

And I’ll keep working toward that tattoo.