publications

All posts tagged publications

TCM Presents: Haunting Blue by RJ Sullivan

Published July 17, 2014 by admin

HauntingBlueTourBadge

 

 

Woo, blog tour time! Let’s hear it this week for Mr. RJ Sullivan and his book Haunting Blue!

 

HauntingBlue_Cover

Kindle     Print

Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.

Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer

***

And now, a post by RJ that I may have had a facetious hand in <g> Although I admit to nothing that I am implicated in in regards to convention discussions or behavior, heh……

***

Just Don’t Bore Me

 

So Selah and I are friends, storytellers, and writer peers. We’re occasionally found at conventions together cackling over a nerdy joke or dirty joke–usually a dirty nerdy joke. Monday evening she private-message-ed me and asked if she had assigned me a topic. She had not. She replied, in part, “Just don’t bore me.”

Which got me thinking about how those words are the mantra of every audience, and the challenge of every storyteller, since before the invention of the printing press. The only thing that’s changed is how the storyteller meets that challenge.

Boredom is the death of any storyteller. A writer can be provocative, edgy, safe for all ages, retro, whimsical, dark, funny, depressing, ironic, and even get away with being ignorant, offensive, sexist, crude, and politically incorrect (we’ve all read those blogs…yes, you have, too), but the one thing they cannot EVER be is boring.

I have a theory. I doubt it’s just mine, but since I don’t know exactly where I first heard it, I’ll throw it out there without attribution. There’s a simple reason classic literature so often fails to hold a modern reader spellbound, even books that were hugely popular when they came out.

Personally, it took me about eight false starts and most of my life to finally read Bram Stoker’s Dracula from beginning to end. And I consider myself a pretty rabid Dracula guy. I’ve seen all the significant the films (even that painful new TV show already slain with a stake in its heart, and good riddance), know the plays, and own most of the movies. But the original novel was…a chore.

A little research reveals that Dracula, when it was first published in 1897, was thought of as a naughty little book–a phenomenal bestseller whose public reception in modern times would compare more accurately to 50 Shades of Gray rather than a more respectable bestseller such as The Fault in Our Stars.

Many modern readers feel–with some justification–that the material fails to engage them, and they put the book down , frustrated and bored, many unwilling to give the novel a second chance.  By today’s standards, it’s slow, clunky, with lots of historical minutiae, descriptions of mansions, gardens, walls, beaches, and the British seaside, and spends a lot of time with two ditzy women who babble on about their fiancés and knitting and tea and things.

So what happened?

Dracula was first released in England. The 1890s were, to put it frankly, a time when ladylike outward appearances and social ediquette were the law of the land, and Britain was the place that invented those laws and enforced them most strictly in all occasions. It was also the time of the industrial revolution, and new thinking and mores were starting to clash with traditions.

Dracula told the tale of a group of modern people, those who were achieving modern economic prosperity through modern careers, options achievable to many readers and romanticized about. Consider references to Van Helsing and his Victrolla, the earliest form of voice recording device, modern cars are used to chase horses and carriages, ancient magic and sorcery does battle with an early form of psychology.

Dracula included scenes of a vampire lord and his three vampire brides, women who he commanded, who then in turn, seek out a male victim. In a striking scene in which a skeptical reader suspects the man doeth protest too much, the three brides drop to their knees and “penetrate” him with their fangs. Premarital kinky oral with four participants. There’s not much to figure out here. In the meantime, the vampire lord is busy every few chapters arriving uninvited through various women’s bedrooms, where those victims submit to the same “unnatural” attacks, sometimes with only the most surface protest.

To a modern reader and vampire fan who has seen and read every media re-enactment of the vampire orgy in all its graphic glory, these quaint little moments are mostly read over, unnoticed. But in its day, Dracula was the book that “no one was reading” to the tune of millions of copies sold, and “no one” most likely read the novel by candlelight after everyone else in the house had gone to sleep.

Which brings us to today, where the modern reader peruses the latest releases by today’s authors, readers who have seen and read it all. Readers who utter the same mantra as all readers throughout the ages: “Just don’t bore me.”

The next time you’re reading a truly engaging novel, remember to leave a review or an email of thanks to that author. Tell your friends about that author. Tell them you found a storyteller who answered the challenge and answered it well.

Whether it’s Bram Stoker or Arthur Conan Doyle or Edgar Allan Poe or (if I may make a few recommendations) Selah Janel or even little ole’ me, R.J. Sullivan, storytellers have been answering the same call for as long as an audience has longed to hear a story. How they go about it may have changed, but the challenge remains the same. “Just don’t bore me.”

 ***

 I wholeheartedly approve of this post, and I really like what he brings up about Dracula. Thanks, RJ!

RJSullivanPhoto

 

Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.

Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer

 

Author Links:

Website: http://rjsullivanfiction.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/R.J.SullivanAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5199299.R_J_Sullivan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rjsullivanauthr

 

 

Advertisements

It’s the MMP Anniversary Sale!

Published July 13, 2014 by admin

Looking for some e-books to fill your Kindle or Nook? Want to stock up on romance and select horror and holiday titles? Want to be considered for some great giveaways? Then look no further! Mocha Memoirs Press has got you covered!

For information on the giveaway (which includes select horror and romance titles, as well as swag), and select sales on parts of the catalog, be sure to check out this mmp blog link!

 

For information on the sale on speculative titles, check out this link!

 

Now  Mooner and The Other Man are MMP titles, but my story, Holly and Ivy, is on sale for $0.99 as part of the Christmas in July sale! Check it out now to beat the heat, or save it for December!

HollyAndIvy72dpi (1)

Amazon     Barnes and Noble   Mocha Memoirs Press Store

After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong oninions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keepinga promise to an old friend?

Coming Full Circle

Published July 10, 2014 by admin

So I realized that in my ramblings about Evillecon and all that in March, I left out a huge part of that weekend.

We all know I love books, but I really have a mad addiction to libraries. I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid. I still remember the very first library trip I ever went on in Illinois that was converted from an old house. My parents checked out There’s a Nightmare in my Closet for me and I made them read it over and over, amazed that I could hold a book I didn’t own as long as I promised to bring it back. I was actually accidentally locked in that same library years later. Like all kids, I freaked the hell out until I realized that I was in a library, then attempted to read as much as humanly possible in like ten minutes. My mom was with me and managed to get the librarian to come let us out, so my fun time didn’t last too long (This also leads to a tangent thought that it must run in our family that kids get themselves locked into places because family mythos also involves quite the tale of The Sibling getting stuck in a bank vault, but that’s another story…)

By the time I lived in Indiana, I was old enough to go to the library on my own, and I went All. The. Time. Not gonna lie – I was one of those kids that walked through the awkward forest and got hit by every falling leaf on the way through, so it was the perfect place to escape and dream, all the while pretending I really wasn’t learning anything. When I was dealing with bullies or family stress or school pressure or a thousand other stupid little things that don’t matter now but hurt a lot back then, I ran and hid in the shelves. I went back and forth between levels, partially because of the younger sibling, but partially because sometimes I needed a break from heavy stuff. It’s a habit I still invoke from time to time.  I realized I hated the teen books most of my friends liked there, got turned onto nonfiction there, devoured the entire music section there, read way too many Star Wars titles there, listened to my first Bowie cds there, and discovered folklore there. I still remember a book of Irish ghost stories that shook me up and I  came across two major influences there: Women who Run with the Wolves, which I’ve read countless times and probably inspires some of my more emotional fiction, and the collection of Cinderella Stories that I reference in Olde School. That book would not have been written had it not been for the Alexandrian Public Library, so it was a thrill when they let me come back and do a signing. I remember seeing Stephen Kellog there, and Nancy Carlson, Gary Paulson, Tales and Scales, and local storytellers. Those people were magic-makers to me, people I wished I could be when I thought that I was limited to what I was at that moment.

However, I totally snuck into Mt. Vernon a few days early just to orient myself and banish any residual emotions and ghosts. As I’ve alluded, since I hadn’t been back in like fifteen years, there was a lot of memories and emotions welling up. As grateful as I was to spend time with all who I visited with, it was important to me to have some private time on my own terms, to go through all the changes in front of my eyes and reconcile them with what was in my heart and in my head. Life has changed considerably between now and the Bronze Age, and it was good to walk the hills where I use to sled and dodge tomb stones, drive by the cemetery I learned to drive in (I swear that isn’t like a total life theme), meander the streets…

and yeah I totally snuck in and stalked the local library. The playground is way better now than when I was there, but everything else is just the same. It’s crazy. It even smelled the same, from the little annexes to the kid’s area with the walk-in train engine. The only thing that’s really different is the giant Arthur statue I helped make as a kid is gone, which is probably for the best. It was strange walking the stacks…I felt like  a ghost. I half expected to see fragments of memories running by me, playing out some distant time which had already taken place. I actually remembered where most everything was. No, seriously. The only things I couldn’t find were the music books, and that’s because the nonfiction sections were rearranged.

swbooks

These books have not moved in fifteen years. Seriously, my teen paws were all over these things. I don’t know why I found that so funny, but it really amused me, especially since I have a somewhat different opinion of the EU than I did as a kid. I immersed myself in that series as a teen, though, wanting to will myself into a hero that could face everything head on and win within three hundred pages until the next adventure.

rockstarbook

 

This book was new when I was like nineteen, twenty. I was so pumped when it arrived and I POURED over it. The only book that would have been better was a hardback collection of Rolling Stone interviews where I read my first David Bowie interview and decided that he was well and truly IT. All the sheet music I used to borrow for school events are still there. All the series I used to love – still there. Like I said, I felt like a random ghost walking the aisles and getting strange looks.

oldeschool flyer

 

Yeah, never thought I’d see this coming when I was ten.

meandflyer

I totally texted this to everyone I could that evening.

I love libraries. To me, they’re filled with countless portals to countless possibilities. You can learn anything, find things that make you feel harder than you thought you could. Maybe I’m a romantic at heart, but there is something important about these meeting places that are slowly being forgotten. I get the internet and buying books online have their uses, but to have a place to escape among other people who are also looking for something more than themselves in simple pages…there’s power there. There’s possibility. The Alexandrian is where countless bound stories intersected with my personal one, and I’m all the richer for it (except for all the money I’ve spent on overdue fees through the years, though that was well spent in the scheme of things).

I was extremely lucky to have people that I grew up around and were influenced by come to see me. Since most of the librarians who moved me aren’t there any longer, that was also what I was most nervous about. Let’s face it – no one is who they are a year ago, let alone fifteen  years ago. I’m not the loud but shy egocentric I was at nine, I’m not the naive idealist I was at fifteen, I’m not the embittered but determined girl of eighteen or nineteen. I’ve seen a lot of life since then, yet I’d also forgotten that everyone else has, as well. It’s amazing how places stay as time capsules in your mind, so it was just as big of a shock to me to see that everyone else had moved on, as well (I know, that’s vain of me, to think I’m the only one with any sort of a life, but it’s easy and convenient to forget these things, isn’t it?).

In some ways it was a relief to see that people had grownl up as well, that I wasn’t a total outsider. That theme was reflected in visiting my old college campus, as well, and staring at some of my mentors across desks again. Strange how different it feels when the pressure of grades and graduation is off, but it can also leave one fumbling for things to say.

Sure, we may not understand every part of each other, but the willingness to come together and catch up and to see what I’ve been up to, the willingness to listen…that was amazing at that library signing. Okay, so I’m no Gary Paulson. I’m not JK Rowling or Neil Gaiman. I never claimed I was – I’m me. I want to be myself as an artist, and I want people to embrace my work because it is from me. The utter outpouring of love, joy, and curiosity – it was what I’d needed after some heavy thinking holed up in a motel a few nights before. In a lot of ways it’s made me turn and face myself and accept that I’m more capable than I’ve allowed myself to believe. It’s freed up a lot of headspace to move on and see what happens next – all the while not forgetting that I’ve got people to catch up with when I roll through town again.

I was nervous as hell all through the event, but the fact that people were there and willing to see this part of my life was empowering. It was necessary. And for a brief moment I almost saw the gangly, pimply, awkward kid running around the carpeted aisles or poking around at some after school activity or trying to carry a gigantic stack of books that was way too tall for her.  It was one more chapter in the story of me, and that is the power of libraries.

library signing

 

library talk

 

A huge, huge thank you to those that came – even if it was just to say hello. And for those that didn’t get the chance…I’ll catch ya next time, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

TCM Presents: Hades’ Disciples by Michael West

Published July 7, 2014 by admin

HadesDisciplesTourBadge

 

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!

 

Final_Hades_Disciples-3

print               kindle

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.

 

***

MichaelWestAuthorPhoto

 

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.

Website:  http://www.bymichaelwest.com

 Twitter: @bymichaelwest

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bymichaelwestpage

 

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!

realm5cover

 

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.

Where…?

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!

 

WeWriWa: Mooner

Published June 29, 2014 by admin

I’m once more trying to get back in the swing of things after a fairly busy past few months. Today’s eight is from a re-release of my historical vampire story, Mooner. This bit is when Bill, the naive upstart in the lumber camp, notices Tom, a reclusive, down-and-out  fur-trader, in Red’s Saloon. While Big John and the others make fun of him, something about the older man seems off and not quite right. He’s not going anywhere, though, until he gets what he wants…

***

“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.

“Pardon?”

“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.

For More Snippets of Stories, Check out Weekend Writing Warriors!

Mooner72dpi

Kindle         Nook      MMP Store

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?

 

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.

 

Mooner72dpi

Kindle         Nook      MMP Store

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.

“Pardon?”

“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