Tag Archives: horror

Author Showcase / Interview / Review – Andrew Cull (Knock and You Will See Me)

Welcome, Andrew Cull!

 

 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Andrew) Hi there! Thanks for having me. I’m a horror writer and feature director. I started out writing and directing in the theatre while I was at Uni. From there, I moved to writing for TV and film. I returned to directing in 2007, when I created the Louise Paxton mystery for YouTube. Following on from that, I wrote and directed The Possession of David O’Reilly. Recently, I’ve written my first novel, Remains, four novellas, and a new feature film which I’m hoping to get my teeth into soon.

 

Based on actual events, THE POSSESSION OF DAVID O’REILLY is a terrifying supernatural shockumentary about a demonic presence in a young couple’s home in London.

US – Amazon Link

 

UK – Amazon Link

 

 

(KAM) Oh my goodness gracious, this trailer scared the $#*! out of me! 

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Andrew)  I think I’m really lucky when it comes to writer’s block. It’s not something I tend to suffer from. In fact, I often have too many ideas and not enough time to write them all! But, if I ever get stuck plotting or find a scene’s giving me problems I take a train journey. By the time I’m half an hour into the journey I’m normally filling my notepad with thoughts and ideas about how to move forward or what to write next.

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Andrew)  I’m primarily a horror writer. I believe that horror is much more effective if it’s believable and so my stories tend to be grounded in reality, sometimes focusing on urban myths and legends. I’ll always choose suspense over gore. I’m a huge Hitchcock fan.

When I’m not writing I’m a big gamer. I’m a screenarcher, which means I shoot the worlds and characters of video games. I have a Flickr page with all my screenshots on it.

flickr link

 

I also study Taekwondo and try to fit in some reading. I’m almost always the last person to watch any given horror movie as I have trouble finding the time to fit everything in! I’m still trying to find time to watch Get Out!

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Andrew)  All my friends and family know I’m a writer. I’m very lucky in that, even through the tough times (and there have been plenty) they’ve always been very supportive of my work. I’ve never had anyone suggest I give it up and do something else.

I think if you’re a writer you should be proud of it. Success shouldn’t be something measured in book sales or income. Every day you sit down to write you’re a success.

 

~~ Another short story to check out! ~~

Print Length: 23 pages

 

That summer should have been filled with laughter, with slip n’ slides in the yard, lazy afternoons lying watching ice cream clouds swirling through the blue sky, melting in slow motion. I watched a plane rising high above our house. From the ground it looked completely still, as if it hung suspended in the air, a model on a string. I wished I was on it, I wished I could escape. I was seven and that was the summer death stalked our home.

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  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Andrew)  That is a tough question. It’s an eclectic list. OK, here goes…

 

10. Koji Suzuki

9. Arthur Conan Doyle

8. Roald Dahl

7. H.P. Lovecraft

6. Chuck Palahniuk

5. JG Ballard

4. Richard Matheson

3. Shirley Jackson

2. Stephen King

1. James Ellroy

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Andrew)  I’d really like to direct an adaptation of my forthcoming novel, REMAINS. I’d cast Gillian Anderson in the lead. I wrote the novel with her in mind. She’s fantastic, one of my all-time favorite actors.

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Andrew)  I’m working on a new horror feature script, a new novel and a number of shorter stories. One of them is a new novella based in the same town as HOPE AND WALKER.

Print Length: 29 pages

 

“We were both 10. But he was dead. And I sat drawing him.”

Em Walker is just like any other 10-year-old girl growing up in the small, outback town of Hope. That is, except for the fact that her Dad runs one of the town’s two funeral parlours, and the dead have just started speaking to her…

When Hope is rocked by a terrible crime, Em, stubborn, scared of spiders, and with a temper that’s likely to get her into trouble, will find herself thrust into the middle of a dangerous hunt for the truth.

“Being scared’s good,” Grandpa Walker had told me once. “Stops us from doing stupid things.” 
It hadn’t stopped me.

 

Praise for Hope and Walker:

“An exceptional short story.” – Frank Michaels Errington.
“Andrew Cull proves himself.” – Eddie Generous, Unnerving Magazine.

 

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  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Andrew)  My novellas are available exclusively through Amazon at present. When REMAINS is released, it’ll be available worldwide through most bookstores. There’s no a specific order to read my stories in at present, although some of the characters from my books will cross paths in the future. I’m probably the worst person to ask about which story to read first as I’ll always recommend the one I’ve just finished. That’s always the one I’m most excited about. I would say though, that if you pick up any of my stories I’m very grateful to you for doing so, and I really hope you enjoy the book. Thanks for checking out my work.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Andrew)  I’m always open to anyone who’s read my stories or seen my movies getting in touch. I love to hear what people make of my books and films. I can be contacted via my Facebook page, my Twitter, or directly via email. I try to reply to all the messages I receive. Sometimes it takes me a while, especially if I’ve got my head down on a project, but I do get around to all of them eventually.

Website Link

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Andrew)  Well, I’d like to say thanks for hosting me and reading my work. It was great to talk to you!

 

 

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

First, I would like to thank Andrew Cull for partaking in this interview and for inviting me to read Knock and You Will See MeIt will haunt my dreams, much like Ellie’s dad haunted her and her children. 

Continue reading below to catch a sneak peek of  Knock and You Will See Me and to read my full review on this nightmare-inducing tale. 

 

 

Now, lets check out the frightfully good read….

Print Length: 77 pages

 

“We buried Dad in the winter. It wasn’t until the spring that we heard from him again.”

Knock and You Will See Me is a new ghost story by award winning writer-director Andrew Cull.

When grieving Ellie Ray finds a crumpled, handwritten note from her recently deceased father, hidden behind the couch, she assumes that her middle boy, Max, left it there. It has a single word written on it: WHY. But, as more and more letters begin to appear throughout the house, Ellie and her three boys will find themselves dragged into a deeply sinister mystery surrounding her father’s death.

“Dad? I looked down at the scribbled note in my hand, at the words torn into the paper. What had started as a whisper had grown louder, more desperate. The words had been screamed onto the page. Dad? Please. What’s going on?”

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

When I was much younger, I was captivated and freaked out by two blockbuster movies — The Sixth Sense (1999) and the original Flatliners (1990). The very notion someone could see dead people, the dead could interact with the living, scared the daylights out of me. This gift of seeing, hearing, or interacting with the dead was frightening, much like Knock and You Will See Me. 

When we bury a friend or loved one, we hope he or she is going on to a better place. Our wish is for their suffering to be finally over. If that’s not the case, it makes you rethink dying and those we’ve buried. Also, if Death comes after you or someone you love, who can really sleep soundly at night. 

Eerie notes, knocking noises, maggots, and black ooze would be enough to send chills down anyone’s spine but Andrew took it a step further. He tapped into the unknown and brought the boogeyman to Ellie Ray’s door… literally. She fought it. Her children fought it. In the end, I didn’t feel like their story was truly over. Death never goes away; therefore, I can see why Knock and You Will See Me didn’t end with a typical conclusion. 

Some readers might be hoping for a more complete ending. Actually, I was expecting more as well. I tapped more than once on my kindle thinking this can’t be the end. It didn’t feel like it should be the end. Yet, it was over… for me. For them, their nightmarish tale continued on. Maybe in another tale? We shall see. 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Author Showcase / Interview / Review – A. A. Medina (Siphon)

 

  1. Welcome, A. A. Medina! For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business? 

(A. A. Medina) To start with the basics, my full name is Adrian Alexander Medina. I was born and raised and still reside in Phoenix, Arizona with my lovely wife, Samantha, our cats, Ishtar and Monkey, and our puppy, Sansa.

As far back as I could recall, I leaned toward the creative side. Whether it was drawing, music, or writing; however, I never really focused on one. To make a long story short, after my father (somewhat abruptly, i.e. long story) passed away in October of 2012, it was like getting hit by a train while skipping nonchalantly in an open field. Weak analogy, but I hope you get the drift.

After the shock and awe and soul-crushing nature of the loss, I reflected on my life and realized I was kind of just floating along. Sure, I played and wrote in bands, we played lots of shows and released albums, but my heart was never truly “in it”.

I don’t remember my thought process at the time, but I decided I wanted to focus the rest of my life on storytelling. I knew – being a person that easily jumps from one idea to the other without completion – that if I didn’t find a way to light the proverbial fire under my ass, I would let that decision fall through the cracks when the next shiny thing came along. So, I enrolled in school, figuring the hard deadlines and financial burden could be that fire.

Many things about the craft I could have learned on my own, but what the school did teach me was a deadline oriented work ethic and a sense of community and networking. That is where I met my business partner for Aphotic Realm Magazine, Dustin Yoak.

@DustinSchyler (Twitter)

@AphoticRealm (Twitter)

 

We graduated in March of 2017. Overall, I think my plan worked out.

(Until the debt cripples me)

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(A. A. Medina) First, I just try to push through it with force.

If that doesn’t work, I go on a walk or bike ride and try to work it out in my head.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll usually keep the document/notebook open next to me while I do something mind-numbing like chores around the house or videogames and if something comes – and idea, scene, piece of dialogue, or otherwise – I’ll jot it down.

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(A. A. Medina) I like to try my hand at everything, but much of my stuff falls into the “Transgressive” genre. Looking back, there are a lot of crime and/or thriller elements to my stories.

When not writing, I’m usually working on Aphotic Realm. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading or playing games with the wife and friends – both video and tabletop. And if I’m not doing that, I’m being an utterly useless sack of garbage on the couch.

(Kam) It sounds like you lead a busy, fun life. Congrats! 

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(A. A. Medina) If they didn’t know before, they do now due to social media. Many say it is a fitting path for me, many say they’re proud, but most just reply, “That’s sweet, dude.”

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(A. A. Medina) I, as well, have a long list. However, I’ll just keep it to my recent favorites. I tend to consume mostly science fiction, with that said, my two current favorites are John Scalzi and James S.A. Corey (technically three because James S. A. Corey is two people: Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck). I haven’t read anything I haven’t loved by them in the recent years.

 

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

 (A. A. Medina) I love this game!

I’ll choose Siphon since this is why I’m here to begin with.

First, I think Dr. Gary Phillips should be played by Gary Oldman (circa 1998). That man can transform into any character almost flawlessly. I would like to see Wendy Carter played by Sharon Stone (circa 1990). Francis could be played by Rip Torn. And Snowflake could be played by Kate Beckinsale (circa 2003).

Could you tell I’ve never thought about this?

If it were a current production let’s say, respectively, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alison Brie, still Rip Torn, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

(Kam) Siphon definitely left a lasting impression on me. (Review posted below.) 

 

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

 (A. A. Medina) Besides a bunch of things over at AphoticRealm.com, I am outlining what you could call the spiritual successor of Siphon. I don’t want to release the actual title just yet.

 

AphoticRealm.com

Book_Skull

 

Our Approach

First and foremost, we are here for the love of the craft. In addition, there are a lot of young, talented writers that struggle to find a home in a very competitive market. We wanted to provide such a home and from that desire, Aphotic Realm was born.

Our Story

Adrian and Dustin met during their studies at Full Sail University and quickly gravitated towards each other due to their similar tastes in dark fantasy, humor, sci-fi, and more. A short time later, they were critiquing each other’s work and collaborating on projects. After graduation, they decided to combine their talents to form Aphotic Realm.

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(A. A. Medina) You can find Siphon on Amazon and all those other places people find books online. But, if you really want to be a winner, you’ll buy a physical copy from HinderedSoulsPress.com

I don’t have too many stories floating around, but that will change soon.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

 (A. A. Medina) You can follow/contact me on Twitter: @UglyByProxy

 

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(A. A. Medina) Check out AphoticRealm.com where we have some upcoming publications and online stories by a plethora of amazing authors! Go to HinderedSoulsPress.Com and pick up everything in stock and if it is not in stock, email them and complain.

I hope everyone who read, or plans to read, my work enjoys it.

Thank you for your time!

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

And thank you for joining me here today.

Folks, now for the grand finale….

Let’s check out Siphon, the story that will creep you out (but in a good way). 

 

THERE IS AN URGE INSIDE YOU…

Dr. Gary Phillips, the resident hematopathologist at Claybrook Medical Center, is a lonely man struggling with the duress of an all work and no play lifestyle.

Burdened with an unhealthy infatuation with his co-worker, a burning disdain for his boss, and an abusive relationship with his grandfather, Gary just can’t catch a break.

That is, until a workplace accident ushers in a bizarre, but empowering experience that evokes a new sense of self, forcing repressed memories to surface while encouraging him to pursue his fantasies with unconventional methods.

 

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Excerpt from Chapter Three

 

I was exhausted. It was about the time I would usually lay my head in my arms and close my eyes to kill a few hours. The centrifuge hummed and I turned off half of the overhead lights. It gave the room a warm, soft, luminescent glow. Instead, I hustled.

When handling sensitive material—blood in glass tubes and crucial information about the livelihood of people I’d never meet—I knew I had to work slow, careful, with grace, without shaky hands, with a keen eye and a sharp mind. So, there I am, excessive fatigue and under the influence of downers. And jittery from the uppers.

Amid retrieving multiple vacutainers from the refrigerator, I dropped one. It shattered, and chilled blood oozed onto the dirty linoleum floor.

Cursing through my clinched jaw, I squeezed the bridge of my nose and accessed the damage. I slid the other two vacutainers I was holding into my lab coat pocket and reached for the paper towels. Quilted. I knelt to clean it up, but then something happened.

I leered at the human oil crawl toward me. In that moment, my mind was empty. Not a loss-for-words empty or nodding-off empty. But, empty. No worries, no feelings, no opinions, no identity. No longer was I tired, but I was not awake either.

A comfortable void.

Nothing mattered. Not I or anyone else. I wasn’t sure how long I must’ve been on my knees as I gazed at the pool of vital, room-temperature fluid. My mind was a dark abyss, my body was a barren cavity. I’ve heard of out-of-body experiences before, but I’d never experienced one myself. I, or – for lack of a better word – my soul, watched as my body was taken hostage by another being. A stronger being. A godly being. And then it pulled me back in with it.

The stillness was broken and the vacuum was filled as I jolted back into my body, yet I was still unable to move. My eyes forced to fixate on the blood that had started to congeal. At first, the voice was just a whisper. It was confident, omnipresent, and not after long did it feel like a loudspeaker was installed inside my skull. A mantra, it repeated:

 

                                        There is an urge inside you…

                                                   … which cannot be satisfied…

                                                                  … with conventional methods.

 

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(review request submitted by the publisher for an honest critique)

 

Whether you label Dr. Gary Phillips a psychopath or sociopath, everyone who reads Siphon will agree Gary is a total whack job. There were a few scenes, so vividly written, I actually felt the urge to vomit. Example: Consumption of blood is gross enough but swallowing vaginal blood and getting aroused by it simply made me want to hurl. Other sections involving blood, gore, and violence were also very descriptive and thus showed the true depth of Gary’s warped mind. 

Despite the grotesque content, I have to commend A. A. Medina on creating a story that came alive on the pages even as characters were falling prey to Gary’s delusional mind. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Horror Anthology Showcase: Hardened Hearts: Unnerving Magazine

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.
 
Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless. 
 
 

Foreword by James Newman

“It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot” by Somer Canon

“What is Love?” by Calvin Demmer

“Heirloom” by Theresa Braun

“The Recluse” by John Boden

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste

“Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous

“The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady

“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” by J.L.Knight

“Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam

“Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani

“Class of 2000” by Robert Dean

“Learning to Love” by Jennifer Williams

“Brothers” by Leo X.Robertson

“Porcelain Skin” by Laura Blackwell

“The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

“Meeting the Parents” by Sarah L. Johnson

“Matchmaker” by Meg Elison

 
 
 
 
 
 

Excerpt from “Heirloom” by Theresa Braun

 

Rachel took her seat. As she glimpsed the antique mirror, the glass appeared to tremble. It wasn’t the first time her mind had played tricks on her under duress, so she dismissed it.

She tapped the pencil on her lips. “By now, you know how this works.” Earlier in her career, she would have started with something simple like whether or not he easily found her office, or maybe how long he had lived in Ft. Lauderdale. That only wasted the appointment. The goal was to expedite wellness. “What brings you in?”

He crossed his arms. “Got to be here, else I won’t see my kids.”

Rachel sat stiffly upright, hands folded. “Okay, so tell me more about that. Why is it mandated?”

His face relaxed and his eyes softened. Her directness disarmed him. “Maybe I have mommy issues.”

Rachel’s eyes widened. “It appears more serious from the documents I have here.” She tapped the pad and folder in her lap.

“It’s complicated.” He twisted the old-looking silver ring on his pinky, his eyes narrowing.

The fact that he possessed the air of a mafia boss planning his next hit amused her. The way he kept playing with the ring made her think that either he had a form of OCD or it was an extension of his presented manliness.

The mirror jangled on the office wall, putting it off kilter.

“Did you see that?” She leapt up to prevent her family heirloom from crashing to the floor.

Her client might have continued speaking, but Rachel didn’t hear it. The room was like a wind tunnel. She slowly put one foot in front of the other until she faced the mirror. Her reflection stood in a charcoal gray pantsuit, her straight chestnut-colored bob curled up at her sharp jaw. An unseen hand pulled her through the mirror. Her vision blurred—everything was funhouse trickery, colors and shapes morphing, until the world crisped and focused once again.  

She stumbled onto the dirt, now in sandals, kicking up grit between her toes, and looked down to see her usually pale skin was bronze. Thick, wavy brown hair cascaded over her shoulders.

She blinked. Her bosom was more ample and her hands lacked the pink polish she always stared at while on the phone back in her office. Supple suede covered her body. Silver armbands coiled around each bicep.

Sweat pearled all over her.

The day was sunny. A market bustled to her right, and an open plain lay silent to her left. Thatched roof buildings dotted the horizon. A wicker basket dangled on her arm. A horse-drawn wagon heaped with fruits and vegetables hurtled past her, the gravel stirred by the hooves and wheels disappearing in the distance.

Only a few steps away, a burly man emerged through a dust cloud. He wore a dark and tattered robe. His skin was tan, or grimy, and so were the rest of his features, his eyes shadowed by his protruding brow.

Weathered hands with dirt-encrusted nails swiftly gripped her by the arms and forced her over his shoulder. She dropped the basket and screamed. He scurried to the covered wagon rolling closer and threw her inside. Her legs brushed something hard suspended at his waist.

Then everything was like scraps of memory…

 

Excerpt from “Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam

 

She spends twenty minutes stuffing a bra for a chest that will never grow. Not unless she can convince her parents to invest her college savings into hormone therapy or two mounds of silicone.

She peers out her window at the suburban neighborhood lined with maple trees and street lamps illuminating the May evening.

He’ll be here any minute, her best friend Andrew.

He agreed to be her date for the spring dance.

As Samantha. Not as what the kids at school call her—Sam. Not as the name her parents gave her the day that she was born with a body that never quite felt right.

Samantha. Not Sam. Not ever again.

She gazes into the mirror, adjusting her neon blue wig. Her hands tremble as she stares back at her carefully-shaven face and lips painted aqua. She tries not to think of the stares she’ll receive. She tries to think of slow dancing with Andrew, her head buried in his chest, taking in the smell of his cologne.

~

He’s a little late. Not by much. The dance doesn’t start until 7:30. Andrew will be here. That’s what matters. Yesterday, he held her hand in the backseat of the school bus.

~

She pulls at the hem of her little black dress—practices walking back and forth across her room in heels. Straight and tall. She likes how the heels make her calves look.

Samantha hears the growl of an engine. Peering out her bedroom window, she sees Andrew in his father’s Camaro. Her flesh shivers and little bumps rise on her arms. She checks her makeup one last time before leaving her bedroom.

She lingers at the top of the stairs as she waits for Andrew to ring the doorbell. Her mother glances up at Samantha, a daughter that her mother never knew she had. She smiles thinly then pretends to tidy up the foyer.

Samantha spies wetness in her mother’s eyes. Her dad didn’t even bother sticking around. He said that he didn’t want to see his faggot son dress up like a slut. He said that he’d be drinking at the bar with this golf buddies and that Sam had better be in bed by the time he got home.

The doorbell rings, and Samantha’s stomach clenches. She grips the railing. Her mother opens the door and Andrew walks in wearing a charcoal sports jacket over an electric blue shirt. Tall and lean, a runner’s body. His chocolate brown hair cut short. Samantha’s hand on the railing becomes wet with perspiration.

He raises his eyes to meet hers, waving a bouquet of flowers in her direction, a spring mix, and flashes that half smile of his. The smile that made Samantha’s knees shake the first time she saw him at musical try-outs.

Samantha descends one step at a time, her gaze transfixes on Andrew. When she reaches the bottom, he presents the bouquet to her. She presses her face into the daffodils, peonies, and baby’s breath and inhales the fragrance…

 
 
 
 

James Newman

James Newman is the author of the novels Midnight Rain, The Wicked, Animosity, and Ugly as Sin, the collection People are Strange, and the critically-acclaimed novella Odd Man Out. Up next are the novels Dog Day o’ Summer and Scapegoat (co-written with Mark Allan Gunnells and Adam Howe, respectively). @newmanjam

 

Somer Canon

Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo. When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother. @SomerM

 

Calvin Demmer

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com@CalvinDemmer

 

Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her stories appear in The Horror Zine, Schlock! Webzine, and Sirens Call, among others; upcoming stories will be published in Bards and Sages and Strange Behaviors. Twitter  / website

 

John Boden

John Boden lives in the wilds of central Pa, with his wife and sons. A baker by day, he writes unique fiction in whatever time is left. His work has received kind words of praise from some.

 

Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, among others. You can find her online at gwendolynkiste.com.

 

Eddie Generous

Eddie Generous is the creator, editor, designer, and publisher of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. In early 2018, Hellbound Books is publishing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always, and also in 2018 he is teaming up with Mark Allan Gunnells and Renee Miller to release Splish, Slash, Takin’ a Bloodbath, a collection of short stories. @GenerousEd

 

Tom Deady

Tom Deady’s novel, Haven, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and he released his second novel, Eternal Darkness and a novella, Weekend Getaway, in 2017. Tom also has a Young Adult series he is seeking agent representation for. He resides in Massachusetts where he is working on his next novel. @DeadyTom

 

J.L. Knight

J.L. Knight lives in Kentucky and works at an antiquarian bookstore that is probably haunted.

 

Scott Hallam

Scott Paul Hallam is a short story author living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has been published in Cease, Cows and Night to Dawn magazine. He earned his Master’s in English Literature from Duquesne University and first fell in love with the written word when his dad would read him stories by Edgar Allan Poe as a kid. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottHallam1313.

 

Madhvi Ramani

Madhvi Ramani grew up in London. She writes short fiction, articles, essays, children’s books, and drama. Her work has been published by the BBC, Asia Literary Review, Stand Magazine and others. She currently lives a thoroughly bohemian lifestyle in Berlin. Find out more www.madhviramani.com or follow her on Twitter @madhviramani.

  

Robert Dean

Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven was called “rich in vivid imagery, quirky characterizations, and no holds barred violence and mayhem. I never knew what the word romp really meant until now, but in case you’re wondering, this is it” by Shotgun Logic.

His essays have been featured in Jackson Free Press, Victoria Advocate, and The Austin American Statesman. He’s also been on NPR.

Robert is finishing a New Orleans-based crime thriller called A Hard Roll. He lives in Austin and likes ice cream and koalas.

Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean.

 

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is an author, editor, cat lady and coffee enthusiast. Her fiction has previously appeared in Women of the Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica edited by Cecilia Tan, Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes, a collection of zombie poetry edited by A.P. Fuchs, and most recently in A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld and Comic Publisher Gary Reed edited by Lori Perkins. You can find her on Twitter at @JenWilliams13.

 

Leo X. Robertson

Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has work most recently published by Helios Quarterly, Unnerving Magazine, Expanded Horizons and Open Pen, among others. His novella, The Grimhaven Disaster, was released by Unnerving earlier this year. Find him on Twitter @Leoxwrite or check out his website: leoxrobertson.wordpress.com.  

Laura Blackwell

Laura Blackwell’s speculative fiction appears in the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows anthology, Hardened Hearts, and Strange California, among others. She is Shimmer’s copy editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @pronouncedlahra

 

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Erin Al-Mehairi is the author of Breathe. Breathe., a collection of dark fiction featuring short stories and poetry, also published by Unnerving. She is a marketing and public relations professional, journalist, and editor of over 20 years and lives in rural Ohio. You can hear her #marketingmorsels segment on The Mando Method podcast on Project Entertainment Network, and besides on all the other social media outlets, you can find her on her blog at www.hookofabook.wordpress.com@ErinAlMehairi

 

Sarah L. Johnson

Sarah L. Johnson lives in Calgary where she’s mastered the art of the writerly side hustle, working in a bookstore, teaching creative writing, and freelance editing. Her short story collection Suicide Stitch (EMP Publishing) was published in 2015 and her debut novel Infractus will be released in April 2018 by Coffin Hop Press. @leadlinedalias

 

Meg Elison

Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. She has been published in McSweeney’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Catapult, and many other places. Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. @megelison

 

 

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Review of “Sugar Skulls” – M.R. Tapia

“Life is a matter of death. Death is a matter of fact.”

Micah DeAtta learns this as he awakens with Death seated across from him, whetting his sickle. Micah has no choice but to converse with Death in order to figure out his own demise. As their conversations become a battle of wits, Micah is forced to relive prominent deaths of family and friends before learning of his own. Each death happens in real time, each correlating with the nine levels of the Aztec underworld. Before it is said and done, Micah will have been forced to face his fears, his losses, and the fact that although life may be too short, death is forever.

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(Chapter 13)

 

When Mama died, I died. Mama died of cancer. I can’t exactly remember how I died.

Now I’m sitting here with Death as he takes me back to these deaths. This whole experience is infuriating. He talks to me as if he cares while making it clear that he doesn’t.

I murmur, “You’re Death,” saying it more to myself than to him.

“I’m sorry?” he asks with confusion.

I quietly shout, “You’re Death. You—are—Death.”

I look up at him in anger.

He stares at me, blankly. Dead.

“What the fuck do you pity the lives you end for?” I point my finger and tap the air as if it were his chest. “You don’t know, do you? You don’t realize what you do to the family and friends of the person. You don’t know what sorrow feels like. Grief. What pain and heartache feel like.”

There’s no stopping me now. Not even his calm and bone-collected self. Sitting there nice and composed. Asshole.

“You don’t know what it feels like to have someone ripped away from you. You never held your sister in your arms while they cry violently, asking why God took her baby. But it was you. You took her baby. You haven’t watched a teenage family member on a hospital bed being kept alive with beeping machines and wheezing pumps. Being held away from you. Feeling helpless as you watch the Nurse’s assistant gently wipe away dried sweat and drool and blood from their inflamed face.” Sweat and drool and blood also smear my face.

“Micah—”

I cut him off, “You’ve never sat and watched as your mother was lowered beneath the ground. No. You just do the dirty deeds, don’t you? You’ve never had to repeat ‘I’m okay. Hanging in there,’ to everyone asking how you’re doing.”

I grunt, “You’ve never listened to the broken record of ‘they’re in a better place now; they’re resting in peace now; there’s no more suffering where they are now’. You’ve never had to turn your back on those attending a loved one’s funeral to keep from blowing up on them because they’re there to be nosy.”

Death sits there as tears stream from my bloodshot eyes. “Do you know how many funerals I’ve been too? What about you? You may be the reason behind the grieving families at funerals, but how many have you actually been too?”

He stands, tall and erect. “You fool!” The boner’s voice enters my soul with loud impatience. He slams the butt of the scythe’s handle to the ground and I feel my world tremble like a tremor. “Do you know how many I’ve caused? How many funerals are of my doing? The funerals you’ve been to, they’re because of me.”

My eyes are forced shut, the force of his shouting reaching my core like an explosion.

As I hold them shut I sense a breeze brush along the beads of sweat on my forehead and forearms. I’m frightened to open them. I struck a nerve now.

I remember wanting life the day after pleading for my death, but right now I want nothing more than life and Mama’s warm, reassuring embrace. Besides an ominous breeze, I feel and hear nothing. I concentrate on my panicked breathing. My heart rate high, pounding behind my eyes. That’s when I hear the voice.

“We commend unto thy hands of mercy, most merciful Father, the soul of this thy child; and we commit her body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.—”

My body is still as a gambling addict whose life’s savings are wagered in the hopes of early retirement, awaiting the judge’s results for the boxing match.

What am I awaiting? Sitting here, eyes clinched. Body, clinched. Am I waiting for Death? Confirmation of Death? Something’s out of place.

“—judgement shall come which thou hast committed to thy well-beloved Son, both this child and we may be found acceptable in thy sight. Grant this, O merciful Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our only Savior, Mediator, and Advocate. Amen.”

I slowly open my eyes and realize that I am no longer in front of Death. Another memory. Now, I am tight within a crowd of people. People who are dressed mostly in black, or in dark shades. I nudge forward through the darkly dressed crowd.

My feet are inches deep in sod. As I stretch my calves, peering over shoulders, a priest comes into sight. He is closing a bible, placing a holy kiss on the cover, and hugs it tightly against his chest.

A man and woman make their way forward, leaning over in front of him. But they aren’t taking communion or asking for a blessing. They’re giving a kiss to a glossy, pink box. The box is about the size of a large sack of potatoes. I’m about as clear minded as those same potatoes.

This is all familiar. Even the man kissing the box. He is dressed in a charcoal grey suit. I recognize him as my brother.

Cheecho straightens and turns away from the box. It’s not just any box. It’s a casket. A casket holding my stillborn niece.

The box jerks immediately as it descends into the earth. Feet away from her angel-daughter—my angel-niece—my sister jerks in unison.

Behind her, my family, and others, lies a field of tombstones. Precious Moments sculptures decorating a few of them, crucifixes and Jesuses and saints and Virgin Marys adorn the majority of the rest.

A shadow meanders through them. It holds what appears at a glance to be a Johnny Appleseed knapsack.

I know what it really is, though. A sickle.

And I know who he really is.

Death.

He stops behind a tombstone and his head turns in my direction as if mourning alongside my family and I.

Some Taiwanese funerals have professional mourners. People hired to speak, and mourn for the deceased. Women with makeup streaking down their faces with tears.

The clinks of the gears lowering my niece are loud as an interstate highway accident.

My sister, she wails. Her makeup streaks down her face with tears. She attempts to tear her heart out through her black dress, mascara-tears clogging random pinholes in her black veil.

Then I look at the graceful pace of Death.

I panic.

It was hard enough the first time. This time only reiterates the fact that I can’t help her. I know this isn’t real. Just another Death joke. I do an about face, allowing my feet guide me away. But they guide me into the backside of a woman.

“—earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.—”

The words enslave me. Over the shoulder of a woman before me I again see a priest with his hand sprinkling Holy water over a casket. This black casket is tailored for an adult.

“—Grant this, O merciful Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our only Savior, Mediator, and Advocate. Amen.”

I push forward again and see Ronnie’s mother wiping tears away from her cheeks. That’s Ronnie’s casket. This is Ronnie’s funeral.

My attention is returned to Ronnie’s mother and others from their family as they all wail a song of heartache as Ronnie descends into the earth. The melody is in Spanish. The singer is wailing, singing Entierranme Cantando. Sing while you bury me.

As turn away in anguish, and I see AJ texting away on her phone, her hands resting upon her fat belly that my child temporarily calls home.

I glance at the priest and his bible. Death peeks over his shoulder, looking at Ronnie? At me? It’s hard to tell with his empty eye sockets. Patches of skin flail with the misty breeze.

Panic turns to anger. Anger toward AJ’s ignorance. Anger toward Death. Anger due to me being forced to relive these moments, as if the pure memory and loss isn’t enough.

I do a half turn to escape Death’s sadistic joke. Maybe even Death himself. I stop before running into the back of another priest. Or is it the same one? I don’t know. But the casket before him is different.

The picture on the stand is one of Gabe. He’s dressed in a black cap and gown with crimson stitching and a sash and cord to match. It’s Gabe’s funeral.

I panic is turning into a frantic movements like a slow internet connection. I juke to my left and see another framed picture. This one of Artie standing next to his first car. I refrain a shout, turning once again to get out of here. Out of this moment- these moments. My past. My future. My Death. But I am stopped short by the sight before me.

A glossy, deep forest green casket sways upon thick green straps, hovering above a rectangular pit. Pictures of Saints adorn the sides of it. The centerpiece is a beacon of Mexican culture. It is a picture of the Virgen de Guadalupe. A beacon of Mama’s faith. It’s my mother’s casket.

A shadow crosses on the other side of Mama’s casket. My head jerks upward and instead of Death’s black shadow, I see a white owl with golden eyes perched atop a tombstone.

Gears crank and I look at Mama’s casket. Tears cascade from my eyes as my mother is lowered.

This is pure agony, although I know this has happened before. I know this is a part of Death’s torture. I also know that the pain I feel is real. Maybe even more painful because I am forced to relive it. Relive the fresh pain, peeling back the scab far enough that skin also rips away bringing forth more anguish.

This time, I involuntarily change a detail. While kneeling by the platform’s metal bars that support Mama’s body, my muscles contract, readying themselves. The green, thick, wide straps give way to Mama’s physical existence, lowering her to her final destination, I rise to my feet.

My core burns with the intensity of a forest fire. My weight leans forward. My feet part ways with the earth, where Mama’s body shall rest.

Earth to earth.

I chase my freefalling tears down into Mama’s resting site.

Ashes to ashes.

The damp air graces my skin, and I fall, closing my eyes, peacefully.

Dust to dust.

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My Review

Death is inevitable. Some depart this world peacefully in their sleep and some pass on painfully. We’ve all heard stories depicting angels, bright light, but no one really speaks of “Death” himself. In Sugar Skulls, Micah has quite the lengthy conversation with Death. I agree with Micah, Death behaving more like Sigmund Freud than the thing of nightmares was quite unnerving. I can see why Micah mouthed off to him. Death was basically acting like a shrink and not everyone is comfortable with a head doctor, let alone one looking like DEATH. DEATH made Micah relive the best and, more importantly, the worst moments of his existence.

 

In doing so. certain points in Sugar Skulls proved quite informative and/or fascinating. 

1.) Mictlan (underworld of Aztec mythology) and its 9 levels.

(Each level was described and integrated into the storyline very smoothly.)

 

2.) Death’s reaction to taking some lives but not others. 

(Many have pondered the question if DEATH views all his “victims” the same. Does he regret any lives taken? No regrets whatsoever? His response might amaze you. Tapia clearly didn’t want DEATH to be a silent player in this story. DEATH certainly had depth to him.)

 

3.) The ending. 

(The closer the end came, the less surprised I was by the turn of events. However, I must say, the end was pretty damn good.)

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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M.R. Tapia has had his short stories appear in various publications including Schlock Webzine, Deadman’s Tome, Empty Sink Publishing, and Hindered Souls: Dark Tales for Dark Nights. His short story, ‘Stella Reign’ is a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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Author Showcase / Interview / Review – M.R. Tapia (The Die-Fi Experiment)

Welcome, M.R. Tapia!

 

 

For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

Hello! My name is M.R. Tapia. I am a dark fiction writer, as well as the owner/operator of Hindered Souls Press. Ever since I was in elementary school, I have always been a big reader since I was young and tended to enjoy my fiction on the dark/horror edge. Even in school, I had always excelled in English/Language Arts. Math, not so much, FYI I don’t math very well, ;). Once I “grew up” and started working full time, the construction field took over my life. In the late 2000s, I was a victim of the collapsing economy and lost my job. I couldn’t find a job in my trade even at gunpoint (I didn’t try this, but felt like that was a nearing option.) Finally, I applied for grants and entered into college. Like most places, I was given a placement exam. I tested low for math, but fell into the highest English courses they offered. Luckily, my instructor was awesome and throughout the course he really helped expose me to my own love for writing. Within a few months of completing the course, I attempted my hand at fiction and submitted a short story to a local arts/entertainment magazine and was happy to hear they had accepted it for publication. I’ve been in love ever since.

(Kam): Like you, math wasn’t my strong suit but English proved a better fit. You should be proud of how far you’ve come in life and all the trials and obstacles you faced and overcome. Congrats! 

 

 

All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(M.R. Tapia) Ah, dreaded, indeed. For the most part, I attack this fiend known simply as, Writer’s Block, one of two ways: I open a separate page and write ceaselessly about the scene which has me in creative silence, explaining to myself all of the possible routes and outcomes which are possible, usually I can get some creative juices flowing. Another way to combat it is to simply step away and take a break by watching a movie, going for a walk, READING, or anything to take the stress of Block away. I find that lots of my creative ideas/thoughts come when I’m nowhere near my laptop. So, no matter where you go, you should always have a place to jot notes down, even in the shower :). Of course, there are endless ways to combat it, these are some methods which work for myself.

 

 

Contrary to what some people envision about a romance writer’s life, it’s not all glitz and glam. Well not for the majority of us. With that bubble sadly busted, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(M.R. Tapia) First comes the ghastly Day Job. Aside from that, I love spending time with my two spawns, one of 12 and the other of 3. I spend as much time allotted reading, whether it be paperback, kindle, or audiobook, one must always read, then read some more. I’ve always been a movie buff, favorite genre is, of course, dark/horror. I also try and stay as active as possible, aside from what I tell everyone, I’m not getting any younger. I’m actually going to be in a volleyball tournament with my girlfriend in August, and yes, she’s an actual human being. Most importantly, I live as spontaneous as possible, getting as much enjoyment out of life as possible, it truly is a short ride.

 

 

I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(M.R. Tapia) All of my family and close friends have known about my writing since my first short story was published. Since day one, I have received nothing but support from them. I spent a little more time in my acknowledgements section of my recent novella to thank all of the families, (I hope I didn’t miss anyone. If I did, I’m sorry, I’ll catch you in the next project.) In construction, I believed I’d come off as bourgeois’ or something of the sort by saying I’m a writer, so I didn’t really hide it, I just never talked about it, that is, until lately. It leaked out and surprisingly, I have received much support from my coworkers, as well. The majority have told me they’re not readers but would still purchase copies and read my work. I appreciate all of the support I receive and couldn’t thank everyone enough.

 

 

Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(M.R. Tapia)  In no particular order: Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk, J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Matheson, Chuck Hogan, Charles Bukowski, everyone in my writer’s group (you know who you are), newly added CV Hunt and Joe Hill, and what’s a list without the honorable mention of Stephen King.

 

 

If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(M.R. Tapia)  I have to be arrogant and say my novella, The Die-Fi Experiment, but, please, let me explain why. I would love to have Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston play the lead couple, give her a reason to inflict some suffering and pain upon him, ha! Seriously, imagine how awkward being on that set would be…

(Kam) You have one wicked sense of humor. 🙂

 

 

Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(M.R. Tapia)  *whispering* I am preparing my novel, Sugar Skulls, for a November release. Can you guess what day? That’s right, El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead.)

 

 

 

Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(M.R. Tapia)  Hinderedsoulspress.com has a page to preorder/order signed copies of Dark Tales for Dark Nights, as well as my solo projects, as well. My latest short story ‘Bloodstream Revolution’ can be found in the recently publication from Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist. You can also find other short stories in Schlock!, Hindered Souls: Dark Tales for Dark Nights, and Empty Sink Publishing to name a few.

 

Hindered Souls is a collection of twenty-five stories from twenty-one of the brightest emerging authors from all around the world. The stories within are surreal, mind bending and soul wrenching.

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Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(M.R. Tapia)  I can be found within the realms of Twitter: @m_r_tapia, and Instagram: @mrtapia. I can also be contacted at hinderedsoulspress@gmail.com

 

 

Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(M.R. Tapia)  I’d like to thank everyone for reading through my ramblings! Please don’t forget that my novella, The Die-Fi Experiment, is available in ebook/paperback pre-order at Amazon; signed paperback copies can be purchased at Hinderedsoulspress.com. Look for my novel, Sugar Skulls, in November. And please continue supporting independent authors! There are many great ones out there! More importantly, pass the joy of reading on to the next generation! Thank you again for your time.

 

 

~~ Closing remarks ~~

First, I would like to thank M.R. Tapia for partaking in this interview and for inviting me to read The Die-Fi Experiment. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to give this horrific, shocking, spine-tingling novella a shot. You’ll be on the edge of the seat the entire 65 pages. Oh and stick around after the shocking ender because you’ll be treated to a sneak peak to an upcoming release. 

 

 

Now, lets check out the frightfully good read….

Print Length: 65 pages

Publisher: Hindered Souls Press (July 21, 2017)

 

“I would like to welcome the world to The Die-Fi Experiment. Please join us in the fun that is the deterioration of the world by means of social media.”

Marie and her husband are spending their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan. While strolling the downtown streets, they are hoaxed into a chance at winning the latest cell phone: First to get through a maze of doors wins! Only they both awaken amidst a sadistic live-stream gameshow. Marie competes against a man while both of their partners are strapped down to chairs. The winner of the deranged challenges imposes extreme pain for their own partner while the loser receives their own form of demented punishment. As it goes on, more and more people around the World Wide Web tune in. The winner of the entire competition gets the chance to fight one last time for their ultimate chance of survival against their own partner…to the death! Will Marie and her husband get the chance to have their first fight as a married couple, and if they do, who will be the last one standing?

(CONTAINS EXCERPT FROM M.R. TAPIA’S FORTHCOMING NOVEL ‘SUGAR SKULLS’)

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

M.R. Tapia sure did not pull any punches in the making of The Die-Fi Experiment. From #chapterone to #chapterten, he delivered nonstop torture scenes using everyday devices such as shears, surgical spoon, sledgehammer and so on to elicit fear in the hearts of the recipients. This novella exuded real terror. A story not so far-fetched when you consider all the inhumane and shameful videos shared on social media these days.

People will post anything for likes, shares, retweets. The uploads are becoming more vicious, more violent, more out of control and it seems to have no end in sight. However, the couples on the Japanese game show did see the endgame barreling towards them and the path to it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pain free. It’s not anything I would like to see firsthand, unlike all the live streaming viewers from the story. 

This story is gruesomely plausible and that’s what makes it even more frightening. 

Well done, M.R. Tapia. You’ve shown us the lengths people will go to entertain the world and how they will keep upping the ante to stay one step ahead of their “competitors”. 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

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Review of “Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist” – Horror Anthology

Editors: Mr. Deadman & Theresa Braun

 

From the time we are young, we fear the monster under the bed or in the closet, making it impossible to sleep without a nightlight. Then, we hear stories of Bigfoot, and maybe even the Mothman around campfires. When we are adults, we wonder if there might actually be supernatural creatures lurking in the shadows. Are these tall tales and urban legends only metaphors for what horrific things humanity is capable of—or do monsters exist?

Go to some terrifying places with this cast of authors. You will be dragged into mystifying realities where demonic fairies hide, where devil monkeys lure carnival-goers to their demise, where Goatmen seek to destroy their prey, and where the goddess of death puts out a hit on victims of her choice. These shocking tales will have you biting your nails and locating that childhood nightlight. Because, in the end, we all know monsters do exist.

 

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(review request submitted by the author Gary Buller for an honest critique) 

 

Upon the pages of Monsters Exist, a reader will embark on spine-tingling adventure where some stories are full of immense blood and gore. Some are so damn freaky but I was shuddering in my seat. For example, the first short story “Master Vermin” by Wallace Boothill, there’s just something about rats that just gives me the willies. If one average size rodent doesn’t make you scream and go running for the hills, then try being surrounded by tens of thousands of the beady-eyed vermin. Some rats were as big as cats. Oh and don’t get me started on the Rat King. Seriously, I’d move….. like far, far away and never look back!

Another story that had my skin crawling was “Bitten” by Christopher Powers. Christopher tapped into a common fear, arachnophobia. Little itty-bitty anthropoids scare me enough but Christopher’s twist on the arachnids will probably have me cringing for days. I won’t tell you why but this short story is a CAN’T MISS! Be warned though, it WILL FREAK YOU OUT if you have the slightest fear of the 8 legged fanged beasts. 

They were also stories such as “Never Sleep Again” by Calvin Demmer and “Legend Trippers” by Theresa Braun who had gore, blood and moments where I was happy I wasn’t reading their tales after sundown.

Sylvia Mann, she literally made my skin crawl with “Eclipse At Wolfcreek” while Gary Buller’s “Wicked Congregation” ending touched me the most. It was like the rest, spooky, but the final moments of his paranormal tale was just unexpectedly moving.

Whether I was reading about monsters swooping down from the sky or grabbing onto a victim from below, all the contributing authors in the anthology, Monsters Exist, stayed true to one fact —- every creation showed their love of the horror genre by creating HIGHLY DESCRIPTIVE MONSTERS that’ll surely make for some interesting dreams…er, nightmares later tonight for many readers. So I say to you, be ready for some blood, gore, dismembered bodies, and some scary ass creatures because these 14 authors held nothing back. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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 Let’s Meet The Authors………

 

 

 Wallace Boothill: I write horror/supernatural fiction for whoever will read it. Looking for the right beach for the Haunted Luau. Published in Shotgun Horror Clips and Deadman’s.

Twitter Link 

 

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides with her two fur babies, who are her creative sidekicks. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Traveling is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and the occasional romance. Oh, and she likes to guest blog about writing, television shows, movies, and books, mostly in the horror genre. Her short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in Hindered Souls, and “Dead over Heels” is soon to be published by Frith Books.

Twitter Link  / Facebook Link / Website Link

 

Hi my name is S.J.Budd, I live in London but grew up in Cornwall surrounded by beautiful wild lands and ancient Celtic legends and folk tales which had a big impact on my eternal fascination with everything out of the strange and ordinary. Like seriously who wants to be normal? Not me!

Website Link /Twitter Link 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Buller is an author from Manchester England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, and his daughter Holly. He is a huge fan of all things macabre having grown up reading King and Koontz and loves a tale with a twist.

Twitter Link  / Website Link

 

 

 

S.E. Casey is a writer of the weird, the grotesque, and the darkly wonderful. His speculative fiction focuses on a collection of oddities, forgotten places, and fallen characters. The horror isn’t in the blood on the knife, but in the loneliness of the void. In vacant corners of empty alleyways does this existential madness collect and fester. 

Website Link.  / Twitter Link 

 

 

Mr. Deadman: Owner of Deadman’s Tome – a site for scary stories and demented horror.

Website Link / Twitter Link 

 

 

 

Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

Website Link / Twitter Link 

 

 

 

Philip W. Kleaver lives with his cat in Baltimore, Maryland, where he works as an educator. He is a too-competitive player of gin rummy and an avid collector of horror and science fiction paperbacks (preferably the musty, yellowing kind). 

Twitter Link  / Website Link

 

 

Sylvia Mann: Fiction writer. Teacher. Musician.

Twitter Link 

 

 

 

 

William Marchese: Horror Writer, Horror Writers Association supporting member.

Website Link / Twitter Link

 

 

 

 

John Palisano: Vice President of Horror Writers Association, Bram Stoker Award winner, FANGORIA writer.

Website Link / Twitter Link 

 

 

 

Christopher Powers: Writer of horror and dark fiction.

 Twitter Link 

 

 

 

Leo X. Robertson: I’m a fiction writer from Glasgow, Scotland, currently living in Oslo, Norway. I also run the Losing the Plot podcast, where I talk to editors, authors and other favourite people of mine about reading, writing and just about anything!

On my site you’ll be able to find out about my latest news, events, publications and hear the latest episodes of the podcast.

Website Link / Twitter Link 

 

M.R. Tapia: Head editor at Hindered Souls Press. Author of dark fiction. The Die-Fi Experiment, and debut novel Sugar Skulls coming this fall.

Twitter Link 

 

 

 

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Author Showcase – G. E. Stills (Empress of Evil)

For 18+

Aiden is on the run from a dangerous cult who wants him dead. While hiding in a rundown mansion in a Louisiana swamp, he stumbles across two beautiful women, but these two are not ordinary women. From the beginning, he discovers they’re sassy, ornery, and powerful witches from another world. They join him and they bond in ways he could never have imagined. Aiden knows he can’t run and hide forever, and now there are two others included in the deadly cult’s crosshairs.

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~~ MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY ~~

(Excerpt Empress of Evil. Aiden meets Raine and Sierra)

 

Aiden read the note again as he peered down at the warning engraved on the box lid. “Humph…I’m not superstitious and never had much fear of curses.” He lifted the box and removed the key which he put in his pocket then opened the lid.

A puff of air, probably from the box having long been sealed, caused Aiden to jerk his head back and close his eyes. When he opened them again he scrutinized the two tiny beds and chairs inside. “Miniature doll house furniture but otherwise nothing, just as I thought.”

He turned to enter the opening on the other side of the fireplace, intent on exploring other parts of the house. Behind him two columns of smoke blipped into being. The smoke quickly dissipated. He spun quickly at the sound of the female voice. “Thank you for freeing us, Aiden,” it said.

The one who had spoken had brunette hair with blue streaks. The woman standing beside her had blonde hair with red streaks.

“About damn time someone set us free,” blondie said. “This place is a fucking mess, by the way. I can hardly wait to get the hell out of here.”

“Great, I’ve loosed two sawed off little runt ghosts to add to my misery and one of them has a smart mouth.”

Brunette scowled at her companion, and said, “I’m Sierra and this is Raine. We’re not ghosts, we’re sprites.”

Aiden took a closer look at the two. True, they didn’t wear billowing shrouds as he’d expected from descriptions he’d read of spirits, nor were they semi-transparent. Instead, Sierra wore a blue corset and Raine a crimson one. Both wore collars around their necks and had mittens on their hands. Aiden snorted at the skirts they wore. Hot pink tutus. “You may be short little shits, five-foot-nothing I estimate, but you’re taller than any fantasy pictures of sprites I’ve seen. I have to admit your assets are wonderfully displayed and the hot-pink tutus are a nice touch.”

Raine gazed down at the garment and shrieked. “This had to be Pequa’s idea. She knows how much I detest pink. Fucking bitch.” She ripped it away and flung it to the floor. Sierra calmly removed hers and dropped it beside her.

Aiden turned his back to them and dismissively waved his hand in the air. “Go away, spooks, I have other more important things to do, like checking out the rest of this dump.”

The block of wood, a piece of the crumbling furniture he decided, struck his back moments later with a thud and stung. Aiden spun in time to see Raine pick up another piece.

“Hey, we weren’t done talking to you,” she said.

“That hurt. Don’t do it again. So you have the ability to move objects. I’ve heard some ghosts can do that. What makes you think it’s your decision to make whether our conversation is over or not?” he asked.

“Raine—” Sierra started.

Raine stamped her foot in anger. “We’re in charge here, not you.” She flung a second piece. This one struck his thigh just to the right of his balls.

“You little shit,” he shouted. “That was too close. A little more to the left and you’d have hit something I don’t want hit.”

Raine smiled. “You’re lucky my aim is off from being imprisoned so long or you’d be lying on the floor doubled up in pain. I won’t miss the next time. You’re lucky I’m wearing this collar or you’d get a taste of my lightning magic.”

“Thank you for that bit of information. It reinforces my decision to keep this key I have in my pocket.”

Sierra shot a frown of disapproval at Raine.

“You’re infuriating,” Raine said. “You…you…despicable…human.”

Aiden laughed. “Well now, I’ve been called a lot of less than complimentary names in my life, but I’ve never been called a human in a derogatory manor. Fucking pesky ghost!”

In answer, Raine flung another block of wood at him. Aiden put up his hand and splayed his fingers wide. The block of wood stopped in midflight and everything else in the room, including Raine and Sierra became motionless, frozen in time. “I’m human but not the powerless type you take me for. I have the ability to stop time for five minutes and also to become invisible.”

Aiden crossed the room and stepped up behind Raine. “Time you learned some manors you little minx,” he told her. Without thinking, he aimed a smack at her bare ass only easing up his strike when he thought of how her body was just a mirage. His hand would sail through the illusion in the air, causing him to lose his balance. To his shock, his hand contacted soft, pliable skin. The splat reported through the room loud as a gunshot. So you are material after all and not just an illusion. Well then deal with this you little shit. He pulled her panties down around her ankles and grinned. “That spank is going to turn red and sting, then you’ll hopefully find your lowered underwear embarrassing. Serves you right you little minx.”

 

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G.E. Stills is zany but has a serious side. He lives in the southwest with a wife and two fur babies. He cares deeply for his friends and hasn’t met an animal yet he didn’t like. He lives in the southwest but often longs to live by the sea. He frequently says, “We have the sandy beaches but where is the water?”

Most days will find him hovering over his keyboard putting to words the stories of the many characters that pace into his mind. Their tales are both serious and humorous. A multi-published author, his stories cover many genres including contemporary, paranormal, and science fiction. Most of his stories have action, adventure, and humor. Some of them are erotic and some are not, but all have romance. His paranormal stories normally involve witches, demons or vampires with an occasional shape shifter thrown in for good measure.

G.E. Stills loves to hear from his readers and can be contacted at any of these sites.

Website / Blog / Youtube
Personal Facebook Page / Facebook Author Page
Twitter / Amazon Author Page  / Goodreads / Google+

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Review of “Gallowglass” – Jennifer Allis Provost

Publisher: Bellatrix Press; 1 edition (April 13, 2017)

 

Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.

After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.

In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.

As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.

Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

I’ve always longed to visit Scotland. It appears to be a magical place where all your worries are washed away once you get a glimpse of it and all its splendor. I know Karina was thinking the same thing until the unthinkable became real. When the idea of magic and magical creatures wasn’t so far-fetched after all.

While attempting to work on her thesis, Karina and Chris’s lives took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a quiet, explorative trip for Karina’s  doctorate became so much more. Instead of unearthing rocks, they unearthed things of legend: fuath (water demons), fey, wights (pixies) and much more. Some beings were grotesques monsters and some otherworldly beings were sweet and friendly. Unfortunately, Karina and Christ had run-ins with rather unsavory beasts.

Jennifer was very descriptive in the construction of the various creatures and the battles Robert faced during their meet ups. For instance, imagine running into this: 7 to 8 ft. tall being with thick gray hide and covered in lesions. Would you run away or scream like your hair is on fire? Me…. I’d probably faint on the spot. And that is only one beastie Karina saw after Robert applied the fairy ointment to her face. BTW: the fairy ointment allows normal people to see beyond glamour and spells. In one hand, wicked cool. On the other hand, the ointment is more of a curse than a blessing.

Speaking of curses: The Seelie Queen cursed Robert but, in true romantic fashion, the curse will be lifted by the time Jennifer ended this magically marvelous book. Love will be tested and I mean TESTED. After all is said and done, neither Robert nor Karina will question their love for each other….EVER!

As for Chris, well his story took quite a surprising turn. A twist I didn’t see coming. BRAVO, Jennifer! At the end of the day…err book… it is apparent his binge drinking days are over and his life is forever changed. FOR THE BETTER! 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction.

Find her on the web here: http://authorjenniferallisprovost.com/     

Friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennallis

Follow her on Twitter: @parthalan

 

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Review of “Mechanisms of Despair” – Gary Buller

Length – 75 pages

Shawn Langley (Illustrator)

Deadman (Editor)

 

Welcome to the Mechanisms of Despair. In this chilling collection of horror shorts, you will find tales of the macabre, stories of suicidal tendencies, and moments of acute psychological torment.

 

“The Way Out”

“Escape’

‘The Way In”

“The Blackout”

“Into the Fire”

“The Present”

“A Friend in Need”

“Dog of the Day” by Holly Buller

This collection will raise money for two very good causes- the publisher is donating its proceeds to The Alzheimer’s Foundation in the USA, and Gary Buller will be donating his to Sarcoma UK- A charity that helps people suffering with bone and soft tissue cancer- people like his mum.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Horror movies draw audiences because people love to be scared. People read thriller novels for the same exact reason. When you sit down to read the haunting short stories in Mechanisms of Despair, you definitely will be creeped the eff out by more than one story. For me, I am so glad I read the hair-raising tales in the light of day. 

Ok, I might spook easier than most people but a couple weirded me out big time. Take for example “The Way Out” and “The Way In”… Those two spine-chilling stories have me rethinking staying at any hotel this summer that I haven’t researched thoroughly first. Seriously, if there’s one hint of anything remotely supernatural happening there (past or present), any deaths, murders, suicides, then it’s on the NO WAY IN HELL I’M STAYING THERE list. Shoot, I don’t want to spend a minute in a HOTEL FROM HELL. Would you? Ok, maybe some supernatural thrill seekers would but I am not that adventurous. 

My other favorite short tale was “Into the Fire” because it pointed out monsters can be made of flesh and bone. Those are the scariest ones of all. With 7 creepy tales by Gary and one bonus shorty by Holly, I will say folks will find multiple stories that’ll leave a lasting impression on them. For me, I found enjoyment with half and that ain’t too shabby in my mind.

Word of warning, as of April 24th, Amazon listed this as a children’s book but I don’t agree with that sentiment. When I think children’s book, I envision anything deemed appropriate for the under ten crowd and these stories are definitely not suited for my youngster. Teenager, yes. Younger child, no.

With that said, mature audiences….. ENJOY! 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score:❤❤1/2

 

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Gary Buller is an author from Manchester England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, and his daughter Holly. He is a huge fan of all things macabre having grown up reading King and Koontz and loves a tale with a twist.

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Review of “Pumpkin Farmer” – Michael Hughes

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The year is 1979. Malaise, stagflation, turmoil in the Middle East, and a gas crunch; these things are but background noise for what unfolds when a lovesick businessman and a sociopathic drifter cross paths. John Nix, business manager of a Silicon Valley semiconductor startup, picks up Horace Fullworth, a ne’er-do -well heir of a wealthy California family, who has returned to San Francisco after surviving the Jonestown Massacre.

After John discovers his girlfriend cheating, he drives to a bar in the small rustic town of La Honda. He meets Ellie O’Neil, a pretty young woman he offers to drive home. Feeling misled by her, he leaves her on the side of the road, where Horace finds her. John hears that Ellie has gone missing and is overcome with guilt. His struggle with his conscience leads him back to those rugged coastal foothills of the San Francisco Peninsula.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

It was fascinating witnessing the ways Horace and John’s paths keep intercepting each other’s. With the level of detail surrounding their daily lives and happenings, you almost feel like you are watching these two men through binoculars. Let me tell you folks, these two gents weren’t sitting around watching pumpkins grow. There was a lot more going on at the pumpkin farm than meets the eye. 

In Chapter 34, the story really picks up steam —- the unthinkable happened. Be prepared for more than one shocking development, which included a surprise revelation. Yes, we had to wait until almost the end of the book. Yes, the big game changer could’ve been touched on a bit more and way sooner. Yes, I would have most definitely altered John and Ellie’s roles at the end.

When you think of sociopaths (Horace), when you read what became of Ellie, and Horace’s discovery, you’ll probably understand my cryptic meaning more clearly. I could describe my plot twist in more detail but I’m afraid it would give away spoilers which I won’t do.

But I will say this, those ending chapters were freaking fabulous and had me saying, “What the f*ck?!” and not in a bad way. Seriously, nice twist!  

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤1/2

 

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michael-hughes-author-pic

I’m 25 and currently work for a bank in compliance in Los Angeles.  Pumpkin Farmer and The Crimson Shamrock are my two published paperback novels; I also self-published a novel titled Loafing by La Brea. 
 
 
 

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