Thursday, October 26, 2017

Guest Post by Sarah Jones - Running in Horror Movies!

Why the Victims Always Run but Still Get Caught in Horror Stories

Do you love a good scare?  The horror genre has an avid following and as one of those followers you will get a kick out this discussion.  From the likes of Stephen King or many other well-known horror story writers, their tales will send shivers down your spine and make you jump at every sound. There are certain things that constitute the makings of an excellent horror story, and you may have noticed a few elements that almost every scary story has.

The Horror Genre

Horror stories are meant to cause anxiety, stress, fear, suspense, tension, and many other highly-charged emotions. Many horror tales can be quite morbid, with evil creatures, horrible deaths, demons, and other elements that are sure to keep you awake at night. Not only are the characters memorable, but there are often surprising and shocking plot twists that can catch the reader off guard. There are also a few elements that are common in horror stories, and the plot wouldn’t be the same without them.

What to Expect

Scary horror novels, stories and films tap into our human fears. It could be natural disasters, murderers, clowns, sharks, snakes, or anything that would normally send us shrieking. It also uses the use of tragedy. Many books and movies have a hero or heroine, who, throughout their entire ordeal are strengthened as they overcome all obstacles and tackle their destiny. 

Horror often has the main character failing, or in some cases, dying. People close to them perish as well, but that is what makes the books so wonderfully terrible. Tragedy can trigger fear and shock, especially in these types of books where the characters make huge mistakes or wrong decisions which can lead to their ultimate doom. 

It is terrifying because we can relate.  What if we hadn’t stepped back to the curb in time and the vehicle hadn’t missed hitting us? It opens the doors to terrible possibilities that make the perfect horror story.

Hope You Can Run

One of the classic horror elements is the art of the chase.  It wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t some terrifying pursuit where screaming victims were trying to run for their lives.  Many times, in scary stories, the people get caught and are killed. The thrill and suspense of the chase while hoping the victims make it out alive are often dashed due to a well-placed trip or stumble by the author or just plain slowness.  Many of us wonder, could we outrun the evil? Why didn’t they run faster? They had to trip at the perfect moment?

The Perfect Catch

Our minds often go down the thought process of “what-if,” in horror stories.  What if the person had worn better running shoes? Read this for a break away from the horror story and some advice on which running shoes to wear when running from a horror villain. Getting back to it, what if they had actually tried to run faster? What if they hadn’t kept looking back at their attacker and just focused on running?

We tend to analyze the details, but keep in mind it’s the shock to the senses that keep us entertained and horrified. Of course, we may wonder if they hadn’t had flip flops on, would they have been able to outrun the pursuer and possibly live to tell the tale. But if that was the case, then it wouldn’t be a horror story, would it?

The horror genre can get our hearts pounding and increase our blood pressure. A good scare is fun, and many enjoy the thrill and the suspense of such stories. Some of greatest fears come to life in the horror genre. We can see where the characters went wrong, and make mental notes of what we would do in that sort of situation. Just be sure to wear some good running shoes, and don’t look back.

Bio: Sarah is the author of Whether it’s a horror story in books or in real life, she will help you decide which running shoes to wear to run away from all the baddies.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Guest post by Rose Martin - 8 Scariest Books That No One Should Read Alone!

Do you watch scary movies and TV shows? Do you watch them alone or with someone? The latter, we are sure. When it comes to reading books, we all want to be alone, don’t we? That’s because book-reading, especially at home, is a solo activity, unless you’re reading to a child. Well, here we have 10 scary books that you’ll definitely not want to read alone. We mean it. We dare you to read them on your own, and not grab for your phone. Go on. We double dare you.

1. Christine by Stephen King
2 young friends, a car and the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere of the ‘70s – what could possibly be wrong with this picture? The car turns out to be haunted, that’s what. The thing with a premise like this is the abject disbelief that sets in even before one opens the book. Not with Christine, however. So cunningly does Stephen King present the vehicle’s malice that Christine becomes a character in the milieu, not just a car. This book will keep you up nights, and when you walk to your car in the morning, just for a moment there, you will wonder if the headlights are following you …..

2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ holds far more subtlety and terror than all haunted house movies put together. Jackson’s book isn’t all about horror through and through though – there’s humor too, and very approachable characters. Still, right underneath it all, running like a fine line of blood under the nails, is the subtle horror that’s tailored into the text. Get this book from holocaust books and approach it with great respect, and in company.
3. The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

The scariest part about a haunted house isn’t just what haunts it – it’s the house itself. Mark Deneilewski understands this in his bones, as you can tell from this book. The Navidson family can tell that something’s not ok with their home when they return home. They see doors where there were none and sinister passageways open.  The house itself is turning into a live, sentient creature, full of miasmic malice. Mark Danielewski’s use of blank spaces and other visual cues bring forth such a chaotic sense of suspense, you’ll be biting all your nails by the end.
4. The Shining by Stephen King

The premise is simple – an alcoholic father, an abused mother and a psychic son, a ‘shiner’, and therefore the title of the book. The father takes up a winter caretaker’s job at a hilltop hotel, which is haunted with many ghosts. This book’s beauty lies in the way King makes every room and every corridor in the hotel vibrate with tenseness. Supernatural events occur when you least expect them, hitting you in the solar plexus, robbing you of your breath. After sometime, you start doubting your own grip on sanity. The book shocks you at many levels – the supernatural presences, the human-on-human violence and the little boy witnessing his father descend into madness.

5. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Exorcist is a true classic, but don’t be hasty and derive comfort from that. Just imagine your little girl possessed by an unimaginably malevolent entity that will not rest until it has fully devoured her soul. The exorcist begins mildly, taking you through sweet glimpses of the child’s life, till you cannot turn a page without the horror seeping into your very bones. This book deals with the concept of a god who allows an innocent to suffer needlessly. It makes you ponder your own vulnerability and question everything you’ve taken for granted till now.

6. Rustication by Charles Palliser
This book revolves around a junkie teenager, Richard Shenstone, who lives with his newly-destitute family in an old rambling mansion. Richard’s world is one of murder, sadistic letters, sexual obsession and delusions. Make what you will of the reality that Richard sees there – beds made for people who don’t exist, weird noises and inexplicable whispers. The house isn’t evil in this book, but you’ll have a hard time discounting that. It’s just as evil as the evil in it. It’s hard to see if Richard is just a kid or the root of the evil in the house.

7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Water
Ever dismissed creepy noises or scribbles on the wall? Read this book and you’ll wish you hadn’t. The book is about a former aristocratic family that’s residing in an old 18th century mansion. Events occur, such as a young kid being mauled by a complaisant family dog for no reason, and childish scribbles appearing on walls. All these spooky events are explained away by the narrator Dr. Faraday. However, it’s all going beyond the realms of science and the grasp of logic. The reader is left trying to make sense of scorched walls, strange noises and other events with no explanations. Unsettling is the word we’re after.

8. The Mist by Stephen King
Consider this – life is going on as usual, and you kiss your wife goodbye and head out to the store with your kid. Then an abnormally thick and very unnatural mist descends all over town. That’s when people become aware of the otherworldly predators coming out of it. The whole book moves slowly, yet seems to race along. A group of people bar themselves into the store, hoping to survive the mist. People turn against people, and chaos results. This is a book that will rob you of sleep for weeks to come.


Cinematic representations of horror stories are well and fine, but it is books that let the horror seep into your bones. That’s because it’s your imagination bringing the environment to life. The more books you read, the more imaginative you become. So try it! Give some of these scary books a try, and tell us what you think.

Rose Martin loves blogging on lifestyle, self-improvement, women, parenting and travel. Rose is also interested in music, fitness and art. In spare time, she loves to spend time with family and friends.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Excerpt from The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards.

Back in her room, she was about to start unpacking her suitcase, trying hard not to think about Liam or the gift she’d turned down, when a scream came from the room next door. 

Sophie jumped up, yanked the door open and peered out. Several other girls had done the same. 

Becky stood outside her room, both hands held to her mouth, eyes stretched open in horror, fingers clawing at her head like the character in that painting, The Scream. All the blood had drained from her face. Her bulky pink suitcase lay at her feet. She was staring at the room like there was a monster inside. Or a corpse. She made little gibbering noises, unformed words, like the sound of her sanity shattering into tiny fragments.

Sophie reached her first. ‘What is it?’ she asked in a soothing voice. ‘What’s happened?’ 

‘My. Room.’ That was all Becky could say. She pointed a shaking finger at the closed door then sank to her haunches. She stared up at Sophie, her eyes empty. What had she seen in that room? Sophie didn’t want to know. 

Two other girls had reached them, Jenny and Ameera, the latter crouching and putting an arm around Becky, who was making the awful noises again, noises that penetrated Sophie’s skull, made the inside of her head itch. Sophie guessed that not many people had returned yet or the whole corridor would be filled with gawping, concerned students. 

‘Go on,’ Jenny said. ‘Take a look.’ 

Sophie turned to her. ‘Me?’ 

When she realised no one else was going to make a move, she approached the door, gripped the handle and pushed it open slowly, sticking her head inside then immediately withdrawing it. 

‘Oh, God, it stinks in there.’ 

‘What of?’ Jenny asked, clamping her hand over her nose as the smell escaped the room and reached them. 

It smelled like a cut she’d once had that became infected, sweet and rotten. 

‘What did you see?’ whispered Ameera. 

Sophie had been hit so hard by the stench that her other senses hadn’t kicked in. She moved back towards the door and pushed it open. 

‘Oh, my God,’ said Jenny, as Becky began to wail.

All the clothes and possessions that Becky had left behind were strewn around the room – clothes and underwear on the floor, CDs and books smashed and ripped and scattered. A large cuddly rabbit lay in the middle of the floor, its belly slit open, stuffing bulging out. Its eyes had been pulled out and there was a vibrator stuck into one of the holes, still buzzing. Photos of Becky which were stuck to the wall had been defaced – devil’s horns drawn on her head, red pen slashes across her face. A family photo had been torn to shreds and a picture of a woman who was clearly Becky’s mum had been rendered obscene, saggy breasts and a dense pubic triangle drawn over her clothes, a crudely rendered penis spurting close to her lips. 

That was far from the worst of it. 

A washing line had been strung across the room, tied to the wardrobe handle at one end and attached to a nail in the wall at the other. Dead mice had been attached to it by their tails, their plump white bodies hanging motionless, little black eyes open, staring sightlessly. Their stomachs had been slashed open like the rabbit toy beneath them. Stepping closer, forcing herself to confront the horror, Sophie could see that wire had been wrapped around the tails and the washing line to pin them to it. There were seven of them. 

‘I’ll call Security,’ Jenny said quietly from the corridor. 

Sophie looked back. Becky sat on the floor, arms wrapped around her legs, rocking back and forth, her expression glazed and slack. Her sleeves were pulled up and Sophie was shocked to see scars criss-crossing Becky’s forearms. She realised she had never seen Becky in short sleeves. There were no fresh cuts but the scars were evidence that Becky had, at one point, self-harmed. 

‘Take Becky to the kitchen, give her something to drink.’ 

The other two girls nodded and led Becky away, leaving Sophie on her own in the room, trying not to look at the dead mice, focusing on the bed.

Photos of Becky and Lucas lay on the pillow, ripped in two. A used condom lay unfurled on the quilt, apparently still containing sperm. She turned her head away. Someone had scrawled words on the mirror in red lipstick. 



Small words designed to cause maximum pain. 

Next to them were more photos, dim and underexposed, of Becky pressed up against a wall, face screwed up, a man entering her from behind. 

Sophie left the room. Her head felt light, legs shaky. The urge to be sick bubbled up through her but she fought it. A minute later, one of the caretakers arrived along with a security guy. Sophie drifted away towards her room. She wasn’t going to be sick. She wasn’t. She had a horrible feeling about who had done this. She remembered hearing Liam say that Becky needed to be taught a lesson, recalled Jasmine’s threat to Becky after she revealed her identity. 

No. Surely not. Liam was a self-proclaimed rebel, but she couldn’t believe he would do something this hateful. Beneath the pose, he was a nice guy. She had to believe that. Jasmine too. She could be hot-headed, had told Becky she’d cut her tongue out, but there was no way she would do this, surely? 

It had to be Lucas, Becky’s betrayed boyfriend. Apart from seeing his band play once at the Student Union she didn’t know him very well, but he came across as pretty intense on stage, his lyrics all about S&M and suicide. She had thought that was just him playing at being a rock star but maybe it went deeper. And besides, jealousy could turn the mildest people into monsters. The room was full of vile sexual imagery, including the shots exposing Becky’s betrayal of Lucas, plus naked photos that had probably been taken for Lucas’s benefit. Everything in the room spoke of revenge for Becky’s betrayal of her boyfriend. It had to be him.

Excerpted from THE DEVIL'S WORK © Copyright 2016 by Mark Edwards. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards

A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies.

It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.

About Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which terrifying things happen to ordinary people. His first solar novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon UK as did his third novel Because She Loves Me (2014).  He has also co-written various crime novels with Louise Voss such as Killing Cupid (2011) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). 

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and started writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end-jobs.  He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing.  As well as a full-time-writer, Mark is a stay at home dad for his three children, his wife and a ginger cat.  


Twitter: @mredwards



Monday, September 19, 2016

Guest Post by Tade Thompson - Horror as a Reminder.

Horror as a genre exists in part to remind us of fear. Fear is an emotion essential for survival because it indicates danger and triggers fight or flight. On a primal, lizard-brain level, for horror to work it must evoke an existential threat of some kind. This threat is of harm to the self, if you can indulge me as I stretch the definition of ‘self’ to include the individual or the group. When executed properly, all horror emanates from here.

If I were more web-savvy I would have an info-graphic here, but this is what I’ve got: Predators trigger a direct danger to the self. The unknown triggers the idea that it might be a predator, and tracks back to danger to self. In evolutionary terms, it is smart to consider the unknown dangerous until proven otherwise. To understand the danger to children you’d have to see that in some way children are the means by which the self propagates or transmits to the next generation. To transmit your DNA (or cultural/psychic DNA if adopted) to the next generation is important to the self, therefore to endanger children is to endanger the self. Evil children in horror fiction represent a form of contaminated seed, which is a danger to the self.

Horror is a big part of my literary DNA. Shirley Jackson, Henry James, Mary Shelley, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and others, I read their books to pieces. ‘It’ by Stephen King is probably my most re-read book. I do write straight up horror (the short stories Monkey House, Slip Road, and the novella Gnaw, for example) but I also see horror as in integral part of the fantastical fiction storyscape. To me, the best sci-fi works with a horror element (like Aliens, for example). 

In my novel Rosewater there are several scenes of full-blown horror. In the contaminated biosphere there are several alien creatures, often used by criminals. Kaaro, my protagonist, is captured and held by a criminal who has a carnivorous alien for a pet. I took time to design the monster. Aliens trigger the fear of unknown, and in addition, this monster is a carnivore, a predator. Floaters are used by gangsters for body disposal. Floaters use protein breakdown products to produce a gas which they use to inflate biological bladders harnessed for flight. It also stinks and remains suspended in the air even after death.

Imagine if you will, a man walking down the street peacefully, when a hungry floater descends like a hawk, grabbing the man with clawed limbs, lifting the person into the sky silently and eating the man during ascent. The next time the man is seen is when the stripped skeleton falls to the Earth, forty minutes later. Imagine swarms of these creatures haunting the rooftops of your city.  Imagine their mummurations at breeding season.

Welcome to Rosewater. I hope you enjoy your stay. Don’t get eaten.

© 2016 by Tade Thompson

Tade Thompson lives and works in the south of England. His first novel MAKING WOLF won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel. He has written a number of short stories including “Budo” at Escape Pod. His horror novella GNAW will be released in December from Solaris Books. ROSEWATER comes out 15th November, but is available for pre-order now.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Vanishing Girls

Title Author: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver.
Read by:  Saskia Maarleveld, Elizabeth Evans, Dan Bittner, Justis Bolding, Tavia Gilbert, Joel Richards.

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery.

Source: Library.

Synopsis: Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged.

When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick things Dara is just playing around.  But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked.  Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.  ~Goodreads.

Midnyte Musings: Vanishing Girls caught my attention from the beginning, and held it throughout the story. 

I liked main character Nick and felt kind of sorry for Dara.  The dynamics of the two sisters were interesting.  They are envious of each other because they see in each other what they do not see in themselves.  Nick was athletic and smart and Dara was pretty and popular.   Mix that with the boy next door and the jealousy, insecurity and resentment escalate.  

But Nick also discovers that Dara holds a secret and it might be the key to not only Dara's strange and distant behaviors but also a missing child.   The plot was intriguing and at times exciting with the twists and turns.

I did like the alternating pov's of the two sisters telling the story.  It gave insight into the characters and even more once you get to the end.  Oliver also has a lovely and haunting writing style and the chapters flew by.

I admit it, I did not predict the mystery/ending.  A lot of people did, but I guess that was good for me in that I was surprised.  However, I was also annoyed.  I don't mind unreliable narrators, but for some reason, my reaction was less than positive.  I really wonder if Oliver didn't intend to have Dara be dead at first, because it really read like that.  I know this is part of the twist and drama, but it felt a a cheat?  

Narration:  The narration was very good.   No complaints.

Enjoyable.  Worth the read.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Guest Post by Erica L. Satifka - Stay Crazy.

I like killing things.

Not real things, mind you. In person, I'm a pacifist. But fictional things? I'll happily send wave after wave of troops toward certain death in Civilization, usually in the direction of my spouse Rob's cities.

Writing characters, though, is a little different from clicking a mouse on a unit and pushing them into battle. While there are certainly a lot of lighter moments and clever zingers in Stay Crazy, the central conflict is grim: an alien entity that is attempting to destroy the universe by sucking the life energy out of workers at a big-box store. When the victims are depleted, they commit suicide, bringing the world one step closer to annihilation.

Stay Crazy is also the story of a young woman haunted by her neurological issues. Em, our heroine, is faced with such an improbable situation – a second, helpful paranormal being contacting her via the RFID chips in frozen foods – that she's not sure whether or not she's falling back into illness. Like nearly all people with schizophrenia, Em is not violent, and I worked hard to tell her story respectfully and not buy into false stereotypes. (No "psycho-killers" in this book! Or any of my books, ever!)

Even though the two otherworldly beings in the book manifest mostly as disembodied voices, the self-inflicted human deaths are all too real. And it's all massively triggering for Em, who at the start of the book has just gotten out of a mental hospital. Because of the gravity of the overall situation, I didn't want the deaths in Stay Crazy to be mere cannon fodder, and I thought long and hard about the consequences for the plot. Who was this character in relation to Em? Would their death matter? Was I falling into any of the tropes I hate most as a reader? One important character in particular came in and out of my focus as a person to murder. I almost felt like I had them at the edge of a plank on a pirate ship, hovering between life and death, waiting to be rescued (or not!) by my keyboard strokes.

Ultimately, I won't be the final arbiter of those questions. Readers will. But I'd like to think that I took death seriously in Stay Crazy, the same way that I took Em's mental illness seriously, working hard to ensure I captured the nature of her struggle while still creating a compelling narrative.

As for the character I mentioned above? Did they live or die? I guess you'll just have to wait until August 16th to find out!

Erica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Lightspeed, and Intergalactic Medicine Show, and her debut novel Stay Crazy will be released in August 2016 by Apex Publications. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats.

Preorder Stay Crazy at Apex Books

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