All posts in the mystery category

Juniper Grove Presents: Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek

Published May 27, 2016 by admin


It’s book blast time! Let’s see what new title we’ve got in store for us today.


Author:   Michele Pariza Wacek

Published:  May 27th, 2016

Publisher:   Love-Based Publishing

Genre:  Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense


Which would be worse: knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer, or that someone else is the killer… and that person is you?

Six months after Linda’s sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy. Until a killer appears who is stalking men … a killer who resembles Elizabeth … a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.

And to make matters worse, Detective Steve Anderson, her old high school crush, is assigned to the case. He’s asking Linda all sorts of questions – questions she couldn’t possibly have an answer to.

There’s no reason for him to be investigating Linda. She couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this.

Could she?


When Elizabeth was born, her mother knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hospital had made a mistake.

It had been a difficult pregnancy. Marie spent most of it in bed, nauseated, uncomfortable, exhausted. She barely kept anything down, subsisting mostly on tea and saltine crackers. When the time came to deliver, the doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section, so she wasn’t able to actually watch the birth.

She couldn’t explain it, but the first time the nurses presented her with Elizabeth, she refused to even hold the baby. “There must be some mistake,” she insisted.

“There’s no mistake,” the nurses said, their approach firm and no-nonsense.

Blond and pale, Elizabeth looked nothing like the other dark haired members of the family. But it was more than that. Elizabeth felt wrong. Marie sensed it every single time she looked at Elizabeth, touched Elizabeth, smelled Elizabeth. The baby was alien to her. Elizabeth was not her baby.

But she could do nothing about it. Her husband hadn’t seen the birth. He had refused to attend any of his children’s births. The nurses kept assuring her that no one had made, could possibly have made, a mistake. So Marie had little choice but to bring her home.

Elizabeth was different, always — strange. Marie hated to use that word about any of her children, especially her youngest, but she could find no other word to describe her. Elizabeth was strange. Period.

From birth, the baby kept quiet. Rarely fussed. Hardly cried. She started talking at six months, much earlier than the rest of her children, and started forming full sentences at just over a year old.

She spent most of her time alone or, once she learned how, reading. In fact, Elizabeth remained such a quiet child, Marie could easily forget about her. It made her nervous. Elizabeth was too quiet.

Even her scent was all wrong. Babies smelled warm and sweet, of milk and talcum powder. Elizabeth’s scent reminded her of meat just beginning to spoil: thick and rotten.

But there was something else wrong with Elizabeth, something more serious than her near silence, her behavior, her scent. Even more serious than that alien feeling, which Marie had tried to dismiss as simple post-partum depression, although it never did go away entirely.

When Marie was really being honest with herself, which didn’t happen often, she could admit what really disturbed her most about her daughter.

Her eyes. Elizabeth had silver eyes.

Not always. Most of the time they looked gray. But sometimes, they changed to silver. Occasionally, Marie even thought she could see them glowing, like a cat’s. Especially at night. There Elizabeth would be, lying on her back, perfectly quiet in her crib, her eyes strangely open, shining faintly in the darkness. Marie would tell herself that Elizabeth’s eyes merely reflected the nightlight in a bizarre fashion. After all, none of her other children’s eyes ever glowed. But it still didn’t make her any easier to face, late at night, as silver eyes stared at her from the darkness. They seemed so old, so ancient. Eyes that had seen thousands of years and hundreds of lifetimes. Those eyes peered out from her newborn’s face, watching her every move, strangely calculating, full of adult understanding and knowledge. She felt afraid, if she were being honest … all alone in the room with those peculiar silver eyes watching, watching, always watching.

Nonsense, she reassured herself. Surely, she could not be afraid of her own infant daughter! What would her husband say? Plenty probably, and most of it with his fists.

Still, she found herself checking on Elizabeth less and less. She argued with herself: Elizabeth didn’t fuss much anyway. Marie didn’t need to check on her so often — not like she did with her other, noisy, “normal” babies.

Her other children. Such a joy they were, her four boys and other girl — Peter, Mark, Mike, Chad and Linda. All healthy, regular children, with coarse dark hair, brown eyes and a little bit of baby fat on their bones. They looked the way children should look, the way her children should look, like their parents. But more importantly, they acted the way children should act — loud, boisterous, rough, needy. Marie loved them for it, loved how she couldn’t get a moment’s peace when they played together. Even when their play turned to fighting, she still preferred it to Elizabeth’s silent, eerie presence.

But Marie loved Elizabeth, too. Loved her fiercely, with the same passion she felt for her other children. Marie knew she did. She told herself she did, time and time again. The fact that she felt relief when Elizabeth wasn’t around meant nothing. She just needed time away from her children, after all. Almost all mothers welcomed the time they had away from their constant, children-related responsibilities. It didn’t mean she loved them any less. It didn’t mean anything at all.


When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (she’s published two psychological thrillers/mystery/suspense novels “The Stolen Twin” and “Mirror Image” so far) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie and is hard at work on her next novel.

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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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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

Happy Halloween!


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

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.”

TCM Presents: Hades’ Disciples by Michael West

Published July 7, 2014 by admin



I’m really excited to finally (FINALLY) get my bud Michael West on here to talk about writing. Before I ever met him I was orbiting him for years, and I’m pretty sure there was at least one convention where I was too scared to death to talk to him because he was so far ahead of me and I never thought I’d ever get a project picked up by a publisher, let alone be able to sell anything. And now he has to talk to me every week, mwahahahaha. This is all part of my master plan…

Anyway, he has book 2 of the Legacy of the Gods series out (finally :D), and he is here today!



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Terrifying creatures exist all around us, hiding in plain sight. Ancient. Deadly. They gather in secret, conspiring, dreaming of nothing less than humanity’s destruction, and their numbers are growing.

Earl Preston knows the danger all too well. After tangling with a horde of mythological sea monsters in Colonial Bay, he has been tasked with finding these beasts and exposing their plans whatever they may be. But Earl is not the only one with a mystery on their hands. At the very top of the world, Carol Miyagi has stumbled onto an artifact from Earth’s past, something magnificent held captive in a prison of ice and snow. Now, Carol and Earl must work quickly to decipher the will of the gods–a plot that defies imagination–and to stop their followers from carrying it out.

They thought the nightmare was over, but they are about to discover that the horror has only just begun.

Hades Disciples is Book Two in the Legacy of the Gods Series.



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?

MW: I do a bit of both, actually.  I do some outlining, but the characters really dictate what happens.  In the past, I’ve planned to kill off characters only to have them do something totally unexpected and live.  And in one case, my novel Spook House, the intended victim ended up being one of the stars of the story.

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?

MW: Nothing too weird, but I do like it to be as dark as possible when I write, so I close all the blinds and turn out all the lights.

SJ: Do you believe in the muse?

MW: I do.  My muse is very temperamental, and she comes and goes as she pleases. 

SJ: 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?

MW: I do dream some ideas, and many of them come to me in the shower, in that foggy twilight between sleep and being totally alert.

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?  

MW: She’s a spirited redhead with fairy wings, and she likes to read a lot.

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?

MW: I don’t really play favorites.  I always think that the last thing I wrote is the best thing I’ve ever written.  That said, however, I do have a special place in my heart for the story “Jiki.”  And my story “Goodnight” is one that I read aloud a lot when asked to do readings.  As far as novels go, The Wide Game captures my teenage years pretty well.  There were no demons or murders, mind you, but it is probably the closest thing to an autobiography that I’ve ever written.

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

MW: I write Sci-fi and Fantasy, but Horror has always been a part of my life.  It’s what I love to read, what I like to watch, and what I will always love to write.

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?

MW: I hate clumsy dialogue and weak female characters.  I think everyone has an inner strength, they just need the right circumstances to bring it out.  And people who write bad dialogue have either never heard people talk, or they never took the time to read the words out loud.  I always read my dialogue aloud.  If it doesn’t sound real, I re-write it until it does. (Ed. from SJ- THIS – SO THIS! TAKE THIS TO HEART, WORLD!)

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

MW: I would love to be one of Poseidon’s Children or Hades’ Disciples, be able to change shape at will and swim into the depths or take flight.  I think that would be amazing.

SJ: If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why?

MW: I would probably pick “Goodnight,” because that has a very positive message on love and everlasting life.  Or maybe “Hell’s Hollow.”  I think it would be fun to visit that festival once in a while.

SJ: An enemy?

MW: I would love to feed them to Jiki, my Japanese demon.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

MW: I don’t think there is a sure-fire formula.  There are hacks who have become wealthier than Midas, and great artist who have never seen their works published.  I just write what I want to read, and I have worked hard to find the right homes for my creations, supportive editors and publishers who are as passionate about my work as I am.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

MW: Writing is hard work.  You have all of these people in your head fighting to get out, and you constantly question whether or not what you are doing is working.  Unlike actors or musicians on a stage, there is no instant feedback.  It may be days or weeks or months before anyone gets around to reading what you’ve written and can give you any comments or suggestions.  Even then, the chances of finding a good publisher are very slim, and the chances of landing those six-figure deals you read about are even slimmer.  Sometimes I find myself wondering why I do what I do, and the answer is simple: because I’m a storyteller, and I have to tell these stories or go insane.  As I tell my wife, writing stories is much cheaper than therapy.  

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

MW: Horror, Sci-fi, and Fantasy allow us to make observations of our own world and comment on various important issues without sounding obvious or preachy.  We can turn a fun house mirror on ourselves and show readers how ridiculous certain practices and prejudices are, and because we are talking about ghosts or monsters or aliens, people who would otherwise be turned off by an issue or a theme may get to see and experience another point of view.

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

MW: I want people to see my name on a book cover and know instantly that, no matter what the story is, they are in for a great ride.

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

MW: My latest novel (which is my favorite right now) is The Legacy of the Gods Book Two: Hades’ Disciples.

Terrifying creatures exist all around us, hiding in plain sight. Ancient. Deadly. They gather in secret, conspiring, dreaming of nothing less than humanity’s destruction, and their numbers are growing.

Earl Preston knows the danger all too well. After tangling with a horde of mythological sea monsters in Colonial Bay, he has been tasked with finding these beasts and exposing their plans whatever they may be. But Earl is not the only one with a mystery on their hands. At the very top of the world, Carol Miyagi has stumbled onto an artifact from Earth’s past, something magnificent held captive in a prison of ice and snow. Now, Carol and Earl must work quickly to decipher the will of the gods–a plot that defies imagination–and to stop their followers from carrying it out.

They thought the nightmare was over, but they are about to discover that the horror has only just begun.

I am also working on a short story collection, Straightjacket Memories, due out this fall, and the next novel in the Legacy series, Zeus’ Warriors.





Michael West is the bestselling author of Cinema of Shadows, Skull Full of Kisses, The Wide Game, Spook House, and the critically acclaimed Legacy of the Gods series. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their turtle, Gamera, and their dog, King Seesar.

West avoids manhole covers and sidewalk grates whenever possible. He just doesn’t know what’s down there, and he’s not sure he wants to find out.


 Twitter: @bymichaelwest



Available Now: The Realm Beyond Issue 5

Published July 1, 2014 by admin

I’m always thrilled when I get to participate in different projects with other authors. I’m also always humbled when people approach me. A while ago, the good people at The Realm Beyond sent me a gorgeous image they’d wanted to use for a cover and asked if I’d write a story to go with it. “Uh, yeah,” was my immediate response. While I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, it definitely spoke to me. There was something alien yet fragile about the creature in the picture, and I found myself wondering what kind of a being she was.

Somehow, my love of history, interest in Lovecraft, and love of fairy tales all had a questionable night together and produced the story Marina, which is featured in this issue. It’s part The Little Mermaid, part eldergod lore, and part 1800s economic collapse in American industry. I don’t know about you, but that says good time to me!

Seriously, I’m really proud of this story of a girl with amnesia who hears strange voices in her head, prompting her that she only has so many days to resolve a problem she’s not sure about. When a wealthy but troubled family of industry take her in, she finds herself at the center of something much bigger than she initially realizes. Can kindness and love help overcome enormous problems and odds, or will both the family in question and Marina be left to drown in their troubles? You’ll have to get the issue to find out, and I urge you to because there are some fantastic authors in this one, including my pal L. Andrew Cooper!



Order your copy of The Realm Beyond Issue 5 here!

And in case you’re curious, here’s a little bit of an excerpt of Marina to whet your appetite…


The voices rushed into her ears, ebbing and flowing like a tide.

There’s no place left for you.

Will you live? Will you die? Only time can tell and fate knows for sure.

All will be decided in three days.

Her eyes snapped open.

Sunlight filtered between heavy squares of hanging cloth. Even that sliver of light was blinding and she lifted a heavy hand to shield her eyes. Her head was supported by soft…pillows? The word was strange and unfamiliar, but felt right. She was in a bed. Her body ached. When she moved her body felt awkward and foreign.


Before she could add to the thought, an entrance appeared at the far end of the room. Two figures approached, tiny sparks in their hands. Her fingers clenched and she braced to…to what? Cold fear swept over her, smothering knowledge that was just out of her grasp.

“She’s awake,” a soft voice said.

“It was bound to happen soon,” another voiced answered. It was older than the first and full of knowing humor. A silhouette came closer and the dancing spark – a tiny flame on a lamp – crept closer to her face. It wasn’t as bad as the sun, but still she winced. “Close the curtains, Ida. It could well take time for our guest to adjust to bright light.”

“Yes, Mother.” The blinding sliver was covered. The little flames leapt and spread throughout the room, springing up again on new lamps until she had a better view of her…what? Captors? Rescuers?

“That’s better, isn’t it?” the older voice asked and a round face leaned close. It was marred by the wrinkles and spots, and framed by yellow-white hair pulled back in a severe bun that contrasted the woman’s gentle demeanor. “Poor thing. Feeling better at all?” She smoothed her large skirt as she settled into a chair. Her words were thickened with an accent that was much lighter on the younger woman’s words.

“Yes.” The girl in the bed struggled to say the word. She knew it, yet she didn’t quite know it. “I think so.”

The younger woman was also dressed in finery and wore her hair up, but her skin was still smooth. Her grey eyes and dark hair danced with a fire that was still childlike though she was obviously a lady. “You gave us quite a scare, especially Adam.”

The newcomer’s confusion must have been palpable, for the old lady took pity on her. “My son, the head of the family now that my Emile is gone. He found you in the river by his sawmill. Poor boy thought you were already drowned.”

“The doctor said you just needed rest. Nothing appeared broken or harmed, but are you all right, otherwise? Are you in trouble with someone? Only the workers go to the mill, and they can be a rough group. Did something happen to you?” the younger woman pressed.

The girl shrunk back against the pillows, feeling small and vulnerable, a combination that disgusted her for a reason she couldn’t fathom. “I…” She searched her memory, but the past events kept slipping out of reach, drifting deeper and deeper away.

Every gift has a price to pay, the voices chortled.

“Now, now. It isn’t good to press her too fast.. Poor thing was found nearly drowned, washed up at the river’s edge. Is it any wonder she doesn’t know her past from her future?” the older woman soothed and placed one trembling, ancient hand on the girl’s smaller one.  A soft jolt like the sting of a jellyfish startled the girl. More confusing was that she could feel the life pulsing in the old woman’s veins, robust for the moment yet frail in the long-term. There was a subtle power that flowed in her blood, though, the power of what? Determination? Belief? Disturbed, the girl slid her hand out from under the gnarled one, shivering.

The old woman smiled. “Don’t worry, dear girl. Everything will be sorted out. You may call me Elise and this is my daughter, Ida. Now we must have something to call you.”

Panic swelled up with the confusion. “But I don’t know—”

Elise waved it away as though it was a minor ripple. “For now, you can be Marina. A good name for one found in the water.”

Despite the confusion, the name pleased her; a soft flush rose to her cheeks as she studied the wizened face at her side.

They’ll forget about you like everyone else.


Curious? Be sure to check out issue 5 to see how things are resolved, as well as check out more intriguing stories by some talented authors!


Available again! Mooner

Published June 28, 2014 by admin

It’s back it’s back it’s back! I’m so very excited to have Mooner back in print through Mocha Memoirs Press. Not only did it give me a chance to tighten up parts of the story, but I’ve also been able to include a glossary of Lumberjack Vocabulary, as well! For those who aren’t familiar with the title, this is my take on historical vampire fiction via 1800’s lumber camp life. It combines my love of history, my love of vampires, my love of creepy, slow-burn stories into something that I’m really quite proud of. So let’s take a look, because it’s my blog and I can totally do that.



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Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?

And now, let’s have an excerpt since it’s been so very long…

Nancy shuffled back towards the bar, casting a wary look over her shoulder. “Red, he’s back,” she breathed as she scooped up another tray and fled to the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection the youth realized that it wasn’t a pile of something. It was a figure draped in a patchwork of skins then cloaked with half-torn, moldy furs. Most who passed his way quickly avoided him, though whether it was because of his odd looks or his smell it was hard to say.

Red hissed through his teeth and ran a sweating hand through his thick, flame-colored mane. “Tom Haskins,” he mumbled under his breath for the benefit of those crowded around him.

“I thought he lived on the edge of town,” Jack replied, equally low, and glared down the length of the bar.

“He tried to start a dry good store and it didn’t go over too well. He had it in his mind that he could make up his loss with fur, though he ain’t no trapper. Moved out to the woods weeks ago and comes into town every so often to hang round and get his fix. Just when I think he’s finally died out there he comes round again.”

Not once did the saloon proprietor take his eyes off the body hunched over a table. Every breath made his ragtag cloak shudder and every moldy hair on him quivered.

“You want me to kick him out?” Jack offered, already shifting his weight.

“Nah, let him warm up at least. He doesn’t do much; just pesters everyone for drink now that he can’t afford it for himself. Give him time and he’ll be up to his tricks.”

Bill couldn’t stop staring. The pile of sloughed animals slumped as the man’s head rose. His skin was a cold gray and stretched taught across his face and hands. His hair had all but fallen out, but what was still left of it hung in clumps of long, ragtag strands that were paler than dried straw. His thin-lipped mouth was open and he sucked in air in painful, erratic pants.

“Look at ‘im! Actin’ like a piglet pulled away from its ma’s teat!” Big John sneered. “I bet his clothes are fulla maggots!”

“It’s too cold for maggots,” Ben snorted. “His clothes are thin. Wonder how the hell he stands bein’ out in the woods in weather like this.”

“We do it,” Bill muttered.

The recluse’s head jerked at the sound of his voice. The young man immediately snapped his mouth shut.

“Yeah, but we’re used to it! And younger’n he ever was!” John’s voice was purposefully loud and it carried the haughty tone that won him admiration from the other loggers. “He’s durn crazy, that’s why he don’t notice. All that time on your own turn you yaps, man?”

Tom’s head very slowly shifted towards them and Bill shuddered. There were days he’d survived the logging camp and the extreme conditions by willpower and prayer alone, all the while wondering in the back of his head what it would be like if he didn’t have even that. Looking at the vagrant, he knew.

Ben was cursing behind them. “I saw him not more than a month ago and he didn’t look like that. Solitary life don’t turn a man in that short a’ time! Maybe he’s got rabies or fever ‘n’ ague.”

Tom’s eyes sat so far back in his skull that it was impossible to tell what color they were, though they harbored a steady, unsettling gleam. They roved over the huddled group, searching hungrily for an easy mark. Bill’s heart plummeted to his boots when the hollow glitter locked onto him. He was suddenly as cold as he was when a seventh-year blizzard hit. All the frustrations and hell he’d endured since joining the logging team, all his good intentions and reasons, all that he was trying to move forward to swelled and jumbled together in a brief, howling wind of thought. The two distant stars in Tom’s eyes were the only thing that pegged him as a stable man in his otherwise rotting and dozy appearance.

All around the little group the saloon’s weekend life went on. The distant sound of swearing and dice clattering across the floor mixed with discordant harmonies and a half-hearted mouth organ. But in the area by the bar, all was muffled and still. It was like the snows had come without warning over the forest, smothering everything in their path with chilled silence. Bill shuddered and out of the corner of his eye he noticed Red do the same.

“You want I should knock his ears down, Red?” John’s bravado was the sudden yell that knocked the snow from the treetops, for good or ill. He had the relaxed look of a man who’d been in his cup just enough to throw caution to the wind. “I’ll toss him out and give ‘im a case of smallpox he won’t forget!”

“Leave be, John,” the barkeep muttered. His hand never stopped wiping down the bar and though his head was tilted down to his task, his eyes were set on their target across the room.

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that Tom had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.


“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word. Otherwise, it was hard to say how he’d made it into the saloon; he looked more than a little dim.

The rustle of skirts made Bill look behind him. Nancy had come around once more and was sliding her empty tray on the bar with more hesitation than usual. “Don’t you boys take the bait. Last time he came in here he swallowed a handful of live spiders. I’ve seen him gulp down tadpoles and minnows, too.”

“Why?” Bill breathed, though the word was a vague whisper in his own ears.

“The woods didn’t make him picky, that’s for certain,” Nancy muttered.

“I’ve seen him bite the heads off rodents, and even a chicken. The body still wriggled for a good minute after,” Red agreed. “When he says he’ll do anything, he means it.”

John’s rugged, dirty face lit like a beacon that was up to no good. “Will he now?”

The vagrant scratched himself somewhere under the skins and let himself be regarded by the knot of loggers.

“Whatever you’re planning to do, leave be!” Nancy hissed. “Red, can’t you just pour him somethin’?”

“If I do that for him I’ll end up startin’ a riot.”

“Then we’ll settle this like men,” John breezed, rolling up the sleeves of his mackinaw to show the lines of scars received as proof of his time on skid road. “So what, exactly, will you do for a shot of ol’ Red’s firewater, huh Tom?”


What, indeed, heh.

Also, feel free to check out some blog posts relating to horror and  Mooner that I’ve done lately.

A post talking about the different sorts of vampires that I like in fiction and film, with some recommendations is here 

A post talking about how family vacations, a love of vampires, and my love of history warped me for life can be found here

And, slightly related, I’m talking about being a woman and writing horror here

Olde School Bitten By Books Release Party RSVP!

Published May 18, 2014 by admin

Yep, we’re gearing up for a lot of talk about Kingdom City in the near future! First up is an online release party at Bitten By Books this Wed, May 21! If you want to kick it Olde School with me all day Wednesday, make sure you show up! If you want extra entries to the contest for a $30 Amazon Gift Card (and why wouldn’t you?), though, hit the link below, RSVP, and get yourself entered!


And, as always, sharing is caring 😀


To RSVP for the Wednesday Olde School Release Party, Go Here!



Kick it Olde School and join the tour!

Published April 21, 2014 by admin

So Tomorrow Comes Media is doing a blog tour for Olde School, and we’re looking for people who might want to participate! Book Bloggers, Reviewers, etc – if you like different types of fantasy, paranormal titles, fairy tales, silliness, a dash of horror, and a blend of all of the above, please check out the link and sign up! It’s going to be a blast – guest posts, interviews, promo stuff – I’m open to it all. Maybe Clyde will even deign to grace certain blogs with his presence. 🙂

If you’re not but know of people who might like to get on board the tour or help promote the title, please feel free to share the link with them and spread the word!

If you’re interested in signing up for the tour, the form is here!


If you’re not sure you want to do the tour, but are interested in reading the book for free in exchange for an honest review, feel free to do that, instead! To be part of Seventh Star’s Read to Review program for Olde School (and other titles if you like!), email


Thanks to any and all participants, as well as anyone else who recommends the title to their friends!