anthologies

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Tuesday Teaser: Curious Incidents

Published August 8, 2017 by admin

So I haven’t been completely nonexistent during this past stretch of self-reflection. I’m way late on this, but hey, promo is promo, amiright? So one of the projects I had the challenge of working on is a paranormal Sherlock Holmes anthology called Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures.

 This was not the easiest story for me to write – I hadn’t read Sherlock since Jr. High, when I’d binged as much as possible during free time during homeroom, a trait that obviously made me insanely popular and all the cute dudes in my class fall at my feet. Obviously, I had to be careful, because the pure power in that knowledge is obviously very potent, so I kept it locked away for a long time.

And if you’re new to this blog, welcome to the sarcastic portion of the evening.

Anywho, I’ve seen the show, but was warned against doing anything too close to that. Besides, these were alternate universe adventures – put Sherlock and Watson in another time period, place, get them out of the comfort zone, anything but Victorian England, please!

And because I am an editor’s nightmare, I put Sherlock on a futuristic space station after the end of planet earth, and just to be a brat I added in a lot of Victorian England via holodecks.

Also, Sherlock is an AI. Kinda. And there’s a new medic character named Jane that has her own mystery to solve. And a monster shows up murdering people in the holodeck nightclubs because it’s me, so of course it does.

So it’s out and there are a lot of fantastic authors in this one. It’s gotten some great reviews, and I’m admittedly pretty proud of my contribution, which is titled Reborn.  And because I love you all and don’t feel like thinking up original content, here’s an excerpt:

curious incidents

The halls of the space station Reborn were pristine and bright, a maze of metal and plastic sterility. They were in sharp contrast to the illusion gardens in the various sectors, of which Clapham was one. Though it was late, enough people were still enjoying the night’s entertainment. The theme was Old England, so couples enjoyed quaint hologram theater shows and others, like Lucy Scaleton and Alsop Addison, soaked up the unusual experience of walking nighttime streets.

“Let’s move away from the urchins. I know they make things realistic, but they’re creepy,” Lucy murmured. “We need to find the exit before things shut down and the security mechs scan for the night.”

Alsop nodded and they increased their pace. “I’m almost glad we don’t have to deal with streets. The hall layouts are much simpler.” She hissed when her foot brushed through the long skirt, sending ripples through the false image that revealed her jumpsuit underneath. “Clothes today are easier, too.”

“It’s all so realistic, though. Especially with all the scents and sounds piped in, never mind the temp changes. Holo-tech has come such a long way.” Lucy took hold of her friend’s arm with a sheepish expression. “I know we’re safe, but…”

“Let’s get home before they turn everything off for the night and ruin the fun!” Alsop tugged her down an alley. “I think this shortcuts to the exit.” She trailed frowned when they hit a dead end.

“Al—”

“I could’ve sworn this was an exit.”

“’Scuse me, miss, but spare a quid on a cold night?”

The pair jumped, then shared an exasperated look. Alsop turned to address the fellow behind them, tossing her blonde curls. “Stupid programming,” she grumbled before addressing the image. “It’s late and we need to get home.” The looming form didn’t budge or disappear. “Hey, I mean it. Bugger off or we’ll just go through you!” The shadowed gentleman’s shoulders bobbed in a silent laugh.

“This isn’t Jack the Ripper night, is it?” Lucy whispered, hand clenched tight on her friend’s arm.

“Don’t be silly. It can’t hurt you. It’s just another damn hologram!” Alsop snapped and strode right into the moving shadow.

Silver flashed and rippled. The blonde jerked with the impact, her holo-costume fading away to reveal her slashed jumpsuit. She stared at the ripped fabric, dumbfounded. “What on earth?” The concept of actual danger was so foreign. Instinctively, still expecting the shadowed mass to dissolve into static and code, she struck at it and felt her stomach drop when it touched real fabric and something warm underneath.

The looming figure that was now too real, too threatening, too substantial pounced again. The shadowed figure grabbed the blonde and silver lashed out, sending crimson spraying right through the false images of the ancient London alleyway, spattering the metal projection walls underneath. The holograms couldn’t fully form with the intrusion, making the length of the alley a flickering, macabre trap. Alsop’s painful scream tore through the nighttime sounds and distant music.

Her friend screamed with her, the sound shrill and useless against the assailant. “No, no! Let her go, this isn’t supposed to happen! Security!” Lucy panicked as she struggled with her the other girl’s falling body, frantically looking for the cameras and police units. Unhindered, the thing shoved Alsop away. The gasping blonde fell back into her friend, sending them both to the floor, revealing metal underneath the cobblestones. Cold laughter prompted them to look up and when they did, the alley was nothing but screams and blue fire.

***

Want to find out more? How about stories where Sherlock and Watson deal with vampires or find themselves in other time periods? You can find all of that in Curious Incidents, available here on kindle or here in print!

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Southern Haunts 3: An interview with Alexander S. Brown

Published May 8, 2016 by admin

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It’s blog tour time! Today I have an interview with not only a fantastic editor and author, but one of my favorite people and podcasting co-host. But first, ze book.

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Genres/Subgenres: Horror, Short Story, Paranormal, Occult, Folklore/Southern Regional

Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.

From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.

These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.

Authors:

Alexander S. Brown

Angela Lucius

  1. H. David Blalock

C G Bush

Della West

Diane Ward

Elizabeth Allen

Greg McWhorter

John Hesselberg

Jonnie Sorrow

Kalila Smith

Linda DeLeon

Louise Myers

Melissa Robinson

Melodie Romeo

J L Mulvihill

Robert McGough

Tom Lucas

***

SJ: Tell us about SH3.  What makes it unique compared to 1&2?

ASB: Actually, each vol. of Southern Haunts is unique, as the subjects vary with each book.  Vol 1. Spirits that Walk Among Us, focused on ghosts.  Vol 2. Devils in the Darkness, featured on demonic entities.  Vol 3. Magick Beneath the Moonlight, regards witchcraft and cursed objects.

SJ: Why witches?  What attracts you to the theme?

ASB: I have always been attracted to the occult.  I find the whole subject fascinating and since Spirits that Walk Among Us was published, it was only a matter of time before we released an anthology about magickal persons.  But for this to happen, I had to wait.

For vol. 3 to be about witches, there is a great significance to the vol. number and the subject matter.  In the occult, there is the belief that what one puts out into the world comes back to them in triple abundance.  Also, in paganism, the maiden, the mother and the crone are recognized and honored as a trinity. These reasons are specifically why this vol. could be none other than occult related.

SJ: What makes for a good southern horror story?

ASB: Multiple elements can make a good southern horror story, such as elaborating about the habitat, cultural development, history, verbiage, and so forth.  But personally for me, what makes a southern horror story great, is the way that it is told.

Many times during childhood, I had found myself at family gatherings and I would overhear elderly relatives speak of infamous legends from the region.  The richness of their slang and phrases, made their ghost stories all the more horrifying, because it seemed more personal.  It seemed like the story tellers weren’t utilizing proper words and phrases to identify something infamous, they were using an age old southern dialect that seemed even more tangible.

SJ: Why do you think readers gravitate to themed horror like this, especially in short form?

ASB: I think the majority of readers are under attack from having a short attention span.  Because of life being so hectic, short stories can allow readers to enjoy complete stories in minimal time.  With the subjects being themed, it lets the reader know immediately what they are in store for.  This can result in a quicker purchase.  For example: Southern Haunts 3 is about witches, the title and cover image are self-explanatory.  If the reader loves witches, they are more likely to purchase.  If that reader is not a fan of magickal themed stories, then perhaps Southern Haunts vol. 1 or 2 is more their preference.

SJ: What are the benefits of anthologies?  Any downside?

The biggest benefit for an anthology is that it presents readers with a diversity of authors who they may not have read before.  This works well for the author because it can help them gain new fans.

The downside to anthologies is that no one really makes money, as book royalties are normally split between 15 to 20 creators.

SJ: Was it different wearing the editor hat compared to being an author?

ASB: It was quite different.  After finishing Southern Haunts vol. 1, I had a new respect for editors.  To me, writing is simple and relaxing, editing is time consuming and feels like work.  Although I prefer writing more than editing, editing the Southern Haunts series has improved my writing skills.

SJ:What is the best thing about putting a book like this together?  The most difficult?

ASB: The best thing about constructing an anthology is seeing likeminded authors come together and submit their creativity.  It is a good feeling to know that other names in the profession want to work with you and contribute stories that might have been stuck in their head for quite some time.

The downside is when I have to reject stories.  I can understand how an author might think that it’s so easy for an editor to dismiss a story, and this isn’t the case.  For me, sending a rejection email, hurts me just as much as it does the author.

SJ: Any advice to authors who are interested in submitting to anthologies?

ASB: First, research the publisher before you submit.

SJ: Second, follow the guidelines.  Sometimes guidelines are overly specific with their requirements, even down to spacing, font, and letter size.  Obey all of these rules.  A lot of times, editors will use these demands as ways to see if the author payed attention, or cares about their work.

SJ: What’s next for Southern Haunts? For you as an author?

ASB: For Southern Haunts vol. 4, we are anticipating creature stories.  We haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will follow the theme of its predecessors, but with monsters.

I have a few books that are in the works.  One of which is in the final edit stage, and is being published by Pro Se Press, this will be a collection of Halloween stories called The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.  I have one story left to write before Traumatized pt 2 is complete, and The Looking Glass Creatures is currently undergoing a massive edit.

AlexanderSBrown

Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Visit Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.

 

Getting Started: Anthologies

Published April 15, 2016 by admin

This goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post, which is why I’m yammering about it here. So you want to get started writing stories, but you just have no idea what to write? You’re overwhelmed looking at magazine listings but don’t have a novel in you yet?

May I make a suggestion? Anthologies.

About half of you just knee-jerked and threw holy water at me and the other half of you fist-pumped in the air. I get it. It’s divisive territory. Here’s the thing: you probably aren’t going to make a ton of money off the antho market.

The thing is, though, is that you will reach different types of readers. Exposure isn’t a dirty word, especially if you’re making some money off it here and there. And if you’re a brand new author and need some credits, this is a great way to learn to write for a market.

Everything is an anthology these days. Seriously. I’ve seen anthologies for genres (horror, sword and sorcery, sci-fi), I’ve seen them for themes (gaming, vampires, halloween, faeries), I’ve seen them for what would happen if you went on a honey moon with a paranormal creature or had a paranormal creature as a teacher. The territory is endless. They also usually feature small word counts (anywhere from 3k to 10k, depending), and force you to be specific. They’ll also get you used to working with an editor and all the other little ins and outs of the publishing world.

I love and hate the small word counts and rigid themes, personally, but that’s my problem. I love a challenge but I don’t always like to be made to behave. Story of my life.

These tend to be more specific than a magazine market, they get you out of your comfort zone and may get you breaking bad habits or doing things that you wouldn’t naturally include in your usual bag o’ tricks. Sometimes you’ll luck into a higher paying one on a listing. As you do more and get more published, you’ll slowly get invites to these things, which is nice (though my editors may think otherwise).

I’ve had some of my more intriguing ideas come from anthology submissions, and it’s nice to be put through my paces on occasion. Plus, this seems to be where a lot of people get to know my work. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve read me in something then started getting into my standalone work. You just never know.

 

Theme is the Hairy Spider Hiding Inside Your Pumpkin by Adrian Cross

Published November 10, 2015 by admin

I’m pleased as punch to be bringing to you a book with a great theme and a great collection of stories today. You might even say they’re improbably good… (okay, yeah, I know, I’ll shut up and get to it…)

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Amazon   B&N    MMP Store    Smashwords

When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable characters in Western literature.  Conan Doyle’s inimitable detective has been the subject of literally thousands of books, movies, television shows, plays and even songs.  With the rise of the BBC series and the release of most copyrights, the beloved character has found a new life among modern audiences.   In An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most terrifying adventures.  A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages.  Curl up with a warm cuppa and leave all the lights on.  This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes.

***

Joining us today is contributor Adrian Cross with a guest post and an excerpt from his story, Time’s Running Out, Watson

***

pumpkin and spider_adrian

Theme is the hairy spider hiding inside your pumpkin.

By Adrian Cross

It’s almost Halloween. I’m allowed to stretch a metaphor, right? But remember that spider and pumpkin. I’ll explain later.

So who am I and what am I talking about? I’m a new author, with my first published story, Time’s Running Out, Watson, coming out in An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (woo hoo!). In the last month, I’ve also earned an honorable mention in the very competitive Writers of the Future contest, and I spend a lot of time on the OWW (online writing workshop) boards, critiquing other people’s work and getting my own work beaten up. So I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on writing short stories and what makes them gel–not that any story is easy to execute well. But if there is one weakness that I think plagues a lot of short stories, including my own early efforts, it is a lack of cohesiveness and professionalism, even if the idea is a decent one.

One way to get better at this (although not the only one) is to consider theme. Theme is the big picture stuff, the moral question, interesting concept, or emotional flavor you’re trying to leave the reader with, whether you realize it or not. And I know that as an early writer, I cringed at the very mention of it. Ooops. J

At first glance, Time’s Running Out, Watson (the story mentioned above), which pits Watson and Holmes against a deadly inventress with a time-twisting device, may not appear the strongest example of a theme-driven piece, partly because I’m stepping into a well-worn world and characters, with its own appeal. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any theme, or that finding it didn’t add value. I’m convinced it did.

The big picture idea in that story was time, not surprisingly. And I also realized that I could deepen that theme by working in some small details. So I added a puddle of water that faded from sight, leaving no sign behind. I gave Holmes a closing line that played on the word ‘time’. And I changed a sheathed dagger on the table, which played no real role in the story, into a desk clock with a pendulum, realizing as I did that I could incorporate that into the plot itself.

The more tangential elements that you can tie into the themes of your short story, the more powerful and professional its impact. It’s the little details that impress, even if the impact is almost too subtle to notice. It’s not the candle-lit pumpkin on the window that scares the jaded trick-or-treater.

It’s the hairy spider crawling up their leg.

See, I got there eventually. 😉

All the best in your Halloween treats, and writing efforts. If you’d like to peruse more of my writing musings, feel free to visit at www.adriancross.ca.

Happy Halloween!

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When Adrian Croft was a teenager, his mother told him in a hushed voice that she’d talked to her hair dresser and learned an unfortunate fact: that reading fantasy and science fiction wasn’t a phase that you grew out of. All those assassins and dragons decorating his bookshelf might be… permanent. Adrian didn’t see it as unfortunate at all and has since then enjoyed many more speculative stories. More recently, he’s expanded into writing and illustrating fantasy as well. ‘Time is Running Out, Watson’ is his first published piece, but hopefully not his last. You can find him at http://www.adriancross.ca

From “Time’s Running Out, Watson” by Adrian Cross

A woman took form from the shadows beside the hearth. I realized that Holmes, through coincidence or design, had faced her the entire time. Thick-bodied, with hard fingers and eyes and a smock that still glistened with rain, she held a small device in her hand. It was twin to the one that Holmes had shown me, except that no bullet hole marred it.

“Lower your pistol,” she ordered, her voice deep and commanding.

I tightened my grip. “I surely will not. Drop the device and step away.”

She chuckled.

A hot flash of pain slashed my wrist and the pistol fell from it, but skittering away before it ever touched the rug, as if kicked by an invisible foot. All I’d seen was a dark afterimage, as if my eyes had registered a movement too quick to be seen.

The woman hadn’t appeared to have moved. She smiled.

“You are not in control here, sir.”

My wrist ached. I rubbed it. “Who are you?”

Holmes answered. “Mrs. Angela White. Is that not correct?”

She looked surprised. “How did you know that?”

“It was hardly difficult. Reynold White obviously didn’t design the object in your hand. No, the handwriting of the plans was feminine, bold and patient, with no quaver of age. He had no sister, and a grandmother would be too old, although that may not have been absolutely out of question, given the circumstances. But the papers also mentioned that Mr. White’s father was an engineer of wide renown, who in turn credited his greatest achievements to his wife, Angela White. So Reynold’s mother. Not much of a gamble in the end.”

“Caged mice,” she snarled. She took a step closer and a fire burned in her eyes, a banked rage that made the hair on the back of my neck rise in response. “None of the other measly intellects in the government’s offices could hold a candle to me, but still they refused to see my value. Mr. Holmes, you may be a great detective, but your deductions will not save you tonight. You should never have tangled with my family. You are as guilty of my son’s death as if you’d pulled the trigger yourself. You will both suffer greatly for that.”

Excerpt: Real Wild Childe (or street vamps falling in love)

Published September 12, 2015 by admin

I do a lot of writing in anthologies, and this is probably one of my favorite pieces that has shown up in them. It also apparently made John Hartness lose his ever-loving mind and not hunt me down for breaking all his rules, so there’s that, too. This is one of those stories that incorporated some older work I’d played around with early on and hadn’t done anything with. I’m hoping eventually the characters in this story will get their own longer work, but we’ll see.

Rave and Asha are vampire siblings on the run from their sire, While she wants to settle down and settle the score once and for all, Rave is in love with the bad boy lifestyle. When a confrontation becomes unavoidable…Asha decides to go shopping. It’s after breaking in a local Addington dress shop that Rave meets Sin, a human who’s completely different than the vampire fangirls he takes pleasure in killing. Unfortunately, he’s not sure how to deal with how much she’s piqued his interest, and it isn’t exactly the most convenient time…

This bit is from the middle of the story, a nice little exchange as vamp and human try to wrap their minds round each other. And yes, while technically you could say the story has romantic elements, it is definitely put through the Selah filter, which means the actual ending of the story will pull the rug out from under you and no one is safe. Heh.

***

For two nights they kept Sin company while she worked. At first Rave had stayed only to make sure Asha didn’t try to walk away with half the inventory—or at least that’s what he told himself. Maybe it was a girl thing, maybe he’d just been expecting more chit-chat, but sewing was really freakin’ boring to watch. He couldn’t even relax with a good skin mag for fear Asha would read him the riot act, and he’d be damned if he’d sit there watching Sin mumble to herself and fuss with fabric doing whatever weird sewing voodoo that was required. Maybe Asha cared, but he didn’t. The only saving grace was that Sin shared his taste in music. When she’d gotten him into a debate about the merits of G’NR vs. Aerosmith, he’d been intrigued, but then she’d gotten lost in her work and went back to ignoring him.

It shouldn’t have rankled him so much. What did he care if she ignored him? She was doing her job and she had nothing to do with him! Still, her sitting there so alive yet so oblivious was infuriating. In retrospect, going out to make a few kills and work off some tension probably wasn’t the best idea, especially since he re-entered the small shop trailing blood and a few leftover chunks of intestine, but nobody was perfect. Better Sin understood what had come calling on her doorstep so she could be properly scared instead of…whatever it was she felt.

That was the other thing: she just didn’t react to him! He’d always gotten the girl right off the bat, had always known what to say to get legs and throat open. Fine. She wants to be all calm and aloof? Let her deal with this! Rave smirked as he trudged into the back room, boots squelching. At this rate I won’t have to feed for a week, he mused. He stretched contentedly before flopping onto the small couch that sat beside the large square cutting table and the small counter of sewing machines. He wriggled when his shirt and jeans rode against his skin like a swimming suit after a long day at the pool, and purposefully made a big deal of getting comfortable.

Sin didn’t look up once. She was bent over the machine, her full lips pursed into a slight frown. She had a mouth that could do a lot of good as a human woman or a lot of damage if she’d been undead. Stop it! Where the hell did that come from? You don’t notice things like that! She’s cattle and a chick, so she’s good for two things. Well, three if you count sewing.

“I never realized making a dress took so much time,” he finally offered. He wasn’t one for real conversation, but it beat sitting there playing warden or babysitter.

“It does if you want to get it right. And since I don’t want to see my insides on my outside, I figure I’d better get it right,” she mumbled, teeth clenched around a mess of straight pins.

Rave admired her focus and attention to detail. Still, he’d been around long enough to know that most obsessive people didn’t obsess without a reason. “Not everyone does. A lot of people these days just bust somethin’ out and figure someone’ll pay for it. What’ve you got to prove?”

Sin’s shoulders raised and her face momentarily crumbled in on itself. She carefully spit the pins onto the counter and glanced up at him. “Look, I get that you’ll probably kill me when this is over. It’s what you do. I just want you to know so you don’t think I’m spillin’ my guts to you for no reason. You think I like working for a self-important has-been in a nowhere town?”

“Then why do it?” Rave asked and squished back into the couch cushions. He made no attempt to correct her assumption; he hadn’t figured out what he was going to do with her afterwards, himself. “The pay can’t be that great. Dalia keeps you hidden. You obviously aren’t selling a lot in a place like this.”

“I do okay online. But…D has contacts from back in the day. She could set me up if she saw something in me. She probably never will, but…I need to work my way up somehow. I don’t want people to think…” Sin paused and bit her lip. “I made some mistakes when I was younger. I wanted to get out and see the world, so I took a gig dressing a local band. Not local to here—I grew up in St. Louis. It didn’t occur to me that they could pick their own clothes and I’d been brought on for other reasons until I was there and decided to…make the most of the lifestyle.”

Interesting. Now that was a tidbit worth perking up for. “So you’re afraid to go back to those contacts because you want to be seen as a designer and not—”

“Yeah, she admitted and sighed. “I just feel stuck. Dalia’s so in love with Dalia and her own version of small town haute couture that nothing else matters. I think she gets off on baiting me with the promise of bigger things, full-well knowing she’s not gonna do it. I’d kill to have her address book,” she sighed and ran a hand through her short hair. The delicate two-toned spikes rippled under her fingers and Rave found his own hands clenching against the urge to see if they were soft and supple against his hands or hard from product. “I hate being caught like this.”

“You do good work,” he offered. Why the hell am I bothering to be nice to her? I should be out raising hell or plotting a way to take down Amanda, not comforting some random human who probably wouldn’t even make a good blood slave. It was bad enough he hadn’t spared Amanda a thought in the last two days, but to occupy his thoughts with a random human girl? Not his style.

“I know,” she agreed. It wasn’t an arrogant comment by any means, just an acknowledgement of her effort and potential. “But it’s all about connections. No one cares if you’re killing yourself to make something amazing. I guess I’m getting used to no one noticing and I don’t like that.”

“I’ve noticed.” Sin looked up with a surprise that Rave felt, himself. They stared at each other, neither one able to come up with a reply.

“Your sister’s gone out to feed or hunt or whatever you call it,” Sin finally offered and turned back to the machine. “Or is it gettin’ lucky?” she added with a wry smile.

How long had it been since met a girl with a similar sense of humor? “Depends on the day,” he admitted. “She’ll be back soon.”

“She’s sweet. A good kid.”

He snorted. “One of the few times I’ve ever heard her called that.” He shifted his weight. There was already a sizeable stain underneath him. “Sorry ‘bout the mess.”

Sin shrugged and grabbed up a different color thread. “I smelled you when you came in. I figure it’s what you do. It’s all good as long as it’s not me.” She paused and bit her lip. “Is it hard to kill?”

It was Rave’s turn to stop and think. She’s got balls, that’s for sure. “At first it was. We were turned in the fifties, so it was a different set of rules then. It took a long time to get out from under that way of thinkin’. After a while it’s not hard.” He pressed on at her tentative expression. “Haven’t you ever gotten so fed up at petty people or all the little, stupid things they do? Isn’t there someone that’s gotten under your skin and made your blood boil so bad you can’t think of anything else? You just have to focus on that until it becomes habit. Then, it’s just like sittin’ down to dinner.” He expected her to be put off by his flippant attitude, was almost looking forward to it. While she considered it, Sin didn’t look particularly disgusted.

“I guess that makes sense,” she finally admitted. “I guess it’s something anyone could get used to if they wanted to.” In all his years Rave had never had anyone agree with his philosophy, especially not someone who could easily become his next meal. “So are you looking forward to this party thing, then?”

He snorted. “No.”

Sin blinked and tried to smile, though the look on his face killed her efforts pretty quick. “C’mon. A party with your own kind? That must be fun.”

He stared down at the little puddles oozing out of his boots. “I’ll look forward to seeing Amanda dead on the floor in front of me. If that happens, I’ll have a blast.”

“Is that like a thing, to hate your sire?” He could have gutted her for even trying to pursue the conversation; he probably should’ve. Things had gotten way out of hand fast. Still, she’d shown him hers, so to speak…

“She’s a psycho. Remember, it was the fifties. People were getting edgy about the Cold War and were desperate for ways to avoid any doomsday threat.” The actual memories were blurred out by decades of hard living, but the emotions still stung deep.

“You were turned to survive nuclear fallout?” Sin whispered, horrified. “Would that even work?”

Rave shrugged and twisted a chunky ring he’d acquired from one of his victims. “People thought it would. No one really knows for sure. It was yet another way to preserve the American Dream. Keep your family close and instill your values for all eternity. Or something.” He hesitated.  “Amanda got interested into that line of thinking, went to meetings, and decided to sign us up.”

“But why would some random…wait…” Sin trailed off, looking up from the fabric in her hands at last. Rave nodded at the realization in her eyes. “She’s your mother?!”

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For more of Rave, Sin, and Asha, be sure to check out their full story in…

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Everybody loves bad guys, and these are some of the baddest of them all. Forget the rules. There aren’t any heroes. No one is going to save you from the wickedness in the darkness. Monster hunters can easily become the hunted. Twisted perverts can find themselves on the receiving end of their own deviant desires. No matter how big and bad someone or something may be, there is always something bigger and badder just waiting. Even the classics like a dragon, werewolf, or supernatural being can fall victim to something even more evil. Take a peek, if you dare, inside the malevolent world of super-villains, monsters, demons and just plain evil folk. Be careful, what you see there might be disturbingly familiar …

Real Wild Childe

Rave isn’t interested in examining his soul or atoning for his misdeeds. He’s a bad boy vampire and determined to enjoy every kill. The only romance he’s interested in is the kind that gets him laid before getting his fangs into an artery. Unfortunately, he and his sister, Asha, are on the run from someone older, someone that they barely escaped once. To make matters worse, Asha is determined that they settle down in Addington, Indiana, once and for all.  When an unfortunate invitation leads them to Sin, resident outsider and human seamstress, Rave’s life is about to get a lot more complicated as he struggles to sort out his feelings and decide if he’s finally ready to grow up and stand his ground. To read an excerpt, go here

SJ’s Writing: Anthology Answers

Published July 15, 2015 by admin

It occurred to me that like so many things, my perception of my creative life is way different than everyone else’s, because I actually know what’s going on behind the scenes. I’ve been asked if I’m still writing/working on things, and the answer is a resounding yes. I took a bit of a break last year for various life reasons, but I’m slowly getting back to fighting form, and will at least have a few things out in the somewhat-near future. At the moment, most of these are anthology projects of various types, ever-proving that it is my life purpose to destroy all the genres.

Hookerpunk – post apocalyptic look at the oldest profession in the world, if the world depended on it as currency. I don’t remember how I was talked into this one, but Sean Taylor allowed me to put a more literary spin on things, for which I am grateful. He’s also probably weirded out at my futuristic concept of ATMs.  I’ve been told it’s in the editing stages and I’ve seen early cover art, so progress is being made!

Carpe Noctem: Truly, Madly, Deeply (Charon Coin Press) – Jerry’s mysteriousness on the Star Chamber Show weeks ago is confirmed – I actually have a piece in this anthology! The book focuses on what a relationship between a human and paranormal entity might actually like. It also proves that Siobhan Kinkade is the only person alive who can incite me to write vampire romance. Sigh. Yeah, I know. To my credit, my vampire does use his teeth, and it’s a very unusual take at a vampire/human relationship in that the female lead is middle-aged and is also dealing with her ex-husband who is the most prominent slayer in America.

State of Horror: California (Charon Coin Press) – Just turned in the contract for this one, and am surprised and delighted at the acceptance into this amazing series. Obviously this volume focuses on California, and my story takes on all the weird, interesting, and macabre goings-on throughout Santa Cruz’s history. I also feel like the subtitle to my story should be Google is my friend, but that’s another tale, entirely.

I’m still waiting to see where it’s going so it’s not official yet, but I’ve been in discussions about a piece of mine being used in another horror anthology as well. Let’s just say, with my story, you’ll never look at a woman’s view of westward expansion the same ever again if this comes into being.

Otherwise, I’m fussing with a few solo projects, researching stuff for the next Kingdom City book, and am otherwise keeping busy and trying to keep putting stories out there!

Juniper Grove Presents: Twists in Time Anthology

Published July 2, 2015 by admin

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It’s a double blog tour week! I wish I had a drumroll sound effect that would make sense in a context like this…

Twists-in-Time-Antho

Title:  Twists in Time

Authors:  Various

Published:  June 16th, 2015

Publisher:  Clean Teen & Crimson Tree Publishing

Genre:  Science Fiction, Time Travel

Content Warning:  Some stories may include mild violence and language.

Synopsis:  What would happen if time, the fragile thread that both leads and binds us, could be unwound as simply as untying a knot? Would we go back, charging through our own history, changing and tweaking, plucking at that fragile thread until time itself unraveled all around us? Would we create countless universes through which we could live our fantasies—or would we become our own nightmares? Would we blaze ahead, reckless and wild, into our own futures? Would we become our own heroes, or would we become villains?

Join us for a series of stories that explore time, through the eyes of those bold enough to conquer it, and foolish enough to try to control it. From the award-winning team of authors at Clean Teen Publishing, Twists in Time will both entertain and challenge the way you see the world around you. Because when one finds a way to break the barrier of time, endless worlds of possibilities emerge.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

I’ve hijacked asked one of the authors to join me here today to talk about the book and writing, so give a big bloggy hand for Amanda Strong!

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process.  Give us a glimpse into yours.  Do you meticulously outline?  Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

AS: I wish I outlined more, to tell you the truth! Probably would keep me from getting into trouble.  Sigh… Unfortunately, my process is a bit more unorganized.  Depending on if it’s a first book in a series for me, or a follow up novel, also determines how I approach it.  If it’s a first, brand new concept, I tend to let myself just go with it. (For about 50 pages.  Then I have to regroup and figure out what the heck I’m doing with the hair brained idea I just came up with 😀 ).  If it’s a second or third book in a series, I start out the gate with a vague outline of where I want to go with it.  Usually after 50 pages or so, I will firm that outline up quite a bit, getting the general idea of where the story is heading.  I really like to leave some things open, right up to the ending scenes.  I love when I can throw some unexpected twists at the readers because my characters threw some unexpected stuff at me.

SJ: Bonus question- Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything?  Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

AS: Well, much to my husband’s chagrin and my children’s delight, I do wear a cape while writing.   I feel it really clears the mind, frees the hands, and warms my back 🙂  Okay, maybe I don’t sport a cape, I’m afraid I’m much more boring than that.  I usually make sure I have all my things handy before I begin a block of writing:  lots of water, chocolate of some sort, cell phone (on silent if I’m being really good), paper, pens, extra snack, empty bladder, and if it’s just one of them days, a big diet Dr. Pepper.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse?  Where do your ideas come from?  Do they filter in through your dreams?  Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head?  Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

AS: Ahh…such great questions!  Where to start?  First off, you probably already can tell from my first answer, I’m not a meticulous planner.  I’m not sure if I’d call it a muse, but all my stories have come from different sources of inspiration.  Music plays a HUGE role in my writing.  I have literally reworked an entire characters, scenes, and even a few plot twists from songs I’ve heard.  I wish there was a way I could insert the songs titles after each chapter in my books!  With The Watchers of Men series, the beginning premise began with a dream.  I followed that up with tons and tons of research!  With Hidden Monster, I had a few of those wham-hit-me-in-the-head experiences 🙂

SJ: Bonus question- If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto?  A sharp-tongued rogue?  A reptilian alien?  Do they have a catch phrase?

I had to answer this one with pictures.  Here are a couple of my muses 🙂

Dragonfly3   Gabriel 3

SJ Note to Self: Campaign for Amanda to let me hang out with her muses…

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you?  Do you play favorites?

AS: That’s such a tough question.  I recently did a radio interview where I was asked which of my books was my favorite. I only have three, so that made answering a little easier. (A little.)  Truth is, I love each of my books for different reasons. The more I thought about it, though, I told the interviewer Watchers of Men series will always be special to me.  Book one, The Awakener, will probably always be closest to my heart.  The main character, Eden, is so me in High School.  (Minus the amazing, supernatural abilities of course!).  I was extremely shy, terrified of boys, and socially awkward. If my few close friends didn’t show up that day, guess who ate her lunch in the library with a book (which these days doesn’t sound half bad 😀 )

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

AS: I would say Young Adult Paranormal.    I love all things fantasy, Sci-Fi, super natural, etc…  YA is all about firsts, and it’s so enjoyable to relive and recreate those moments through writing.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer?  What do you consider the downside, or is there one?  Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

AS: I’d say finding the time to actually write books!  Being a writer/author is lot more involved than just typing ideas out on the keyboard.  Finding a balance between marketing and writing is tough, plus throw real, everyday life into the mix, and you’ve got yourself running in circles at times!  I think as a writer, I need to refocus my energy now on just that, writing 🙂

Note from SJ:  THIS. SO THIS. Amanda, we need to form a support group together. 

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or work mentioned?

AS: I hope they think of books which excite and surprise them, characters they can relate to and empathize with, and plots that keep them turning pages way past their bedtime.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work, or a little bit about what you are working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

AS:  I’m super excited about this Twists in Time Anthology!  I’m grateful I had the opportunity to collaborate with eight other amazing authors!  My own short story, Kiss of Time, was such a new concept for me to play around with.  Now I want to make it into its own series J  Right now, I’m working on Inner Demons, book two in Monsters Among Us series.  I can’t wait to get it out to my readers who have waited so patiently for the return of Sam and Blake.

Thanks for stopping by, Amanda! It was super fun to hear your answers, and your stories sound way interesting! Be sure to check out her tale in the book, folks!

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  Featured Authors and Stories:

“After Time” by Sandy Goldsworthy

“The Fall” by Holly Kelly

“The Kiss of Time” by Amanda Strong

“With a Grain of Sand” by Kathy-Lynn Cross

“The Before Sky” by Sherry D. Ficklin

“What You Wish For” by Kelly Risser

“Tides of Time” by Julie Wetzel

“It’s The Little Things” by Jon Messenger

“Romeo and Juliet Times Infinity” by Kasi Blake

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • A bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook, and a $15 Amazon gift card.

Giveaway is International.

Enter Here!

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