Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Short Story: The Victorian Room by Donna Davies

The first time I saw that monstrous room, it gave me the creeps. It’s a dark and dismal place filled with ornate antiques perfectly arranged for maximum dread. Now, I have to make my way past without looking in.

I wonder what it means to be an antique, I thought to myself. Antiques are things that belong to dead people— that's what they are; and now they have a new home in my aunt’s Victorian room residing in the blackness at the top of the stairs.

It’s time for bed. As I make my way toward the stairway of fear, I can see the reflective glow from the floral glass lamp bounce off an old portrait hanging in the dimly lit hall. The golden light reflects on the white-haired man’s face warming his ivory flesh-toned skin and rosy pink cheeks. It’s the eyes that get you. His black eyes follow you up the stairs as if he knows it’s bedtime.

The aged pine staircase leads to the second floor of the renovated farmhouse. I rest my bare foot on the first step and wait. The parched wood winces under the pressure. My heart leaps into my throat. I take a deep breath and put a death grip on the darkly stained railing. Taking the remaining steps two-by-two, I slip around the sharp corner rail and make a giant leap into my bed. Whew! I made it, but I am not free from my overactive imagination. My headboard shares a wall with that room. It waits to invade my thoughts—creating an inevitable nightmare—haunting me while I am under its control.

I shoved a timeworn portable radio beneath my pillow, but static interrupts the music and prevents me from putting my mind to rest. I could only think of delicately carved faces of the little cherubs dancing on the enormous cherry headboard. I can hear them giggling to the devious dolls seated in the elaborately embellished wing-backed chair that sits solitary in its corner. 

The dolls have had a long, hard life. Their attractive faces and porcelain skin bare the cracks of time. They want you to love them, but their cold dead eyes deter you from being part of their evil plan to escape from that sorrowful room.

A musty smelling paper covered globe sits next to a small writing desk. The world looked strange back then. The ancient worlds had strange names that I don’t recognize. I envision the previous owner sitting in the matching velvet chair planning a trip to exotic lands in a steamer headed across the Mediterranean. Perhaps he is sitting there right now!

Burying myself deeper into the thick and cozy feather quilt, I find the floral scent calming and comforting. My body starts to relax and my lids start to get heavy.

I just have to make it through the night.


Hudson Valley, NY resident Donna Davies, dubbed the “Halloween Queen,” divides her time between authoring children’s books, lecturing to both adults and children, and curating several web sites dedicated to the holiday.
Ms. Davies’ first picture book for children, The Halloween Queen Who Lost Her Scream, thrilled audiences from 6 to 60 upon its release last October and earned her numerous opportunities to present the book at libraries across the region.
She has  released her second children’s book, Sleepy Hollow and the Road You’d Better Not Follow through her publishing company All Hallows Eve Press .

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Life Amongst the Vampires - Guest Post by Inanna Arthen (Vyrdolak)

My Life Amongst the Vampires.

In Chapter Fifteen of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we briefly meet "an old student" of Professor Slughorn named Eldred Worple, who earnestly attempts to persuade Harry to share his life story for a biography. Worple's current claim to fame is his book, Blood Brothers: My Life Amongst the Vampires. He has come to Slughorn's Christmas soiree at Hogwarts—presumably with Dumbledore's permission—with one of his "blood brothers," a vampire named Sanguini. Most people don't think of Rowling as an author who writes about vampires, but they're mentioned in two other places in the series, and Sanguini is clearly "domesticated" enough to be trusted around Hogwarts students (provided that he has a chaperone). I always wondered if Dumbledore was attempting to befriend as many vampires as he could, along with giants and werewolves, in order to prevent their joining forces with the Death Eaters, but Rowling never mentions it.

I have to admit it: if I were transferred into the Harry Potter universe as a wizard, I would be Eldred Worple. My life has pretty much been spent among the vampires, for something like four and half decades by now.

I was not a fan of horror fiction or movies until I turned 11 years old, although I liked fantasy and science-fiction. I still remember the very first vampire movie I ever saw. It was on TV during the afternoon, one of those 4:00 p.m. matinee slots, probably in early 1968. It was the 1962 Hammer movie The Brides of Dracula, and I'm sure it was ruthlessly edited. But I was utterly mesmerized by elegant, supercilious David Peel with his Byronic wavy blond hair, sweeping gray cape and long fangs.

My vampire mania popped into existence fully-formed, and I have no idea where it came from. I was an avid reader, checking out the maximum six books from the branch library a couple of times a week and inhaling them (I read every gothic romance the library owned and everything Zane Grey ever wrote—not a word of which I can now remember). But I had to go to the main library downtown to find grown-up vampire books, and then I had to wheedle the librarian into letting me check out adult books with my juvenile library card. I took out Bram Stoker's Dracula and Montague Summers' foundational compendium of vampire folklore, The Vampire in Europe.

I read Dracula straight through in one sitting without stopping. I still think it's the greatest thriller ever written in English. The Vampire in Europe took me a little longer, but I was just as enthralled with it. Those two books launched me on a life-long obsession, for which I intensively researched obscure nonfiction and articles, collected everything I could find related to vampires in print, read every vampire themed piece of fiction I found and saw the movies that I was able to get into. In October of 1968 I first heard of the daytime serial Dark Shadows. I hurried home after school to see if I could find it on TV, and from that day until its cancellation in April 1971, I was one of those fanatical viewers who planned her day around getting home by 4:00 p.m. to watch Dark Shadows. Only play rehearsals got higher priority.

In high school and college I had a friend who shared my enthusiasm. We called ourselves "vampiromaniacs" and signed letters, "Bloody Bites!" One Halloween—yes, just one—I dressed as a vampire to answer the door for the trick or treaters. I took such care for authenticity with my makeup, my Dad was totally creeped out and wouldn't look at me, while one little tot paid me the highest honor: a round-eyed, "You look really scary."

But my obsession had a down side. When it came to vampires, I was a connoisseur, not a gourmand. Nothing was ever good enough. I studied the folklore with a critical and comparative approach, aligning it with my other studies in the areas of the occult, paranormal, folklore, fairy tales and history. I soon figured out how much misinformation and sloppy scholarship there was in the field and grew impatient with it. I found myself in the frustrating position of being a vampirophile who hated most vampire fiction and just about every vampire movie.

I wasn't alone. You'd be surprised how many authors of vampire fiction were inspired to write their own stories because they didn't like someone else's and said to themselves, "I can do better than that."

My fictional universe started evolving in the 1990s when I was a member of an active writing and vampire fan egroup called Vampyres List. Vampyres was filled with passionate and prolific writers who posted original fiction—from short drabbles to serialized novels—by the ream. A popular pastime among list members were virtual parties, or "v-parties," massive co-written improvisational marathons that ran for 24 hours a day and as long as a week at a time. A big v-party was like being on creative fire, non-stop, for days on end.

This was where I hammered out my vampires' unique qualities. I wanted to write vampires that were true to folklore, rather than fictional clichés (so, no fangs, no problems with sunlight and they can eat and drink ordinary food and have sex, all of which folklore vampires did with gusto). I wanted them to seem so real, you wondered if they were living next door, and I used details from other paranormal tropes to make their abilities plausible. For example, my vampires are able to "open" their victims to get blood, in the way that "psychic surgeons" were believed to open and close wounds. I'm also a trained psychic and an initiate of a magickal order, so those life experiences were woven into my books, as well. My novels are more accurately categorized as “magical realism” than conventional fantasy or horror.

I wrote half of The Longer the Fall for Vampyres List and got stuck. I never expected to write Mortal Touch at all. I wrote Mortal Touch for National Novel Writing Month in 2005, an experience which reminds me of doing a v-party all on one's lonesome, but which works very well for me as a writer (I'm about to use NaNo for the third time to pound out the fourth book in the series). After Mortal Touch was finished and published, I solved the structural dilemmas which had been hanging up The Longer the Fall, and I resigned myself to the fact that I was writing a connected but non-chronological series, like The Chronicles of Narnia. After Book 4, however, I expect the narrative timeline to be more straightforward.

Now I run a small press, By Light Unseen Media, dedicated to fiction and nonfiction on the theme of vampires, as well as writing my own novels. Vampires not only accompany my thoughts and fill my imaginary worlds, they pay the real-life bills. I've gone from vampires as an avocation and enthusiasm, to vampires as a professional resource. I really do have a life amongst the vampires, imaginary and otherwise—and I feel amazingly fortunate. I wouldn't want to be living anywhere else. (Mortal Touch)

Inanna Arthen (Vyrdolak) is an author, artist and actor who runs the independent press By Light Unseen Media ( The third novel in her open-ended Vampires of New England series (Mortal Touch, The Longer the Fall and All the Shadows of the Rainbow) will be released in 2012. She is a member of New England Horror Writers, Horror Writers Association, Broad Universe, Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) and Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), and a contributor to For more information about her writing and events, see

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Review by Emma Rae Curtis: Silk

Book Review: Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan By Emma Rae Curtis

SynopsisThey are the young misfits...society's castoffs...urban strays looking for a thrill. Something cheap, anything to get them through the night. Sleepwalking on caffeine, nicotine, and drugs, they wait out the dawn in death-rock clubs and shadowy back alleys...  Then into their midst comes the enigmatic Spyder. A patron saint of the alienated and lost, she invites them into her mesmerizing world-but has she been sent to redeem them or destroy them?
Caitlin Kiernan doesn’t like people calling her a horror writer. She said in a 2007 interview, “I think ‘horror’ is surely the most indefensible of all genre categories. It’s an emotion you may try to elicit, but it’s not a genre. And my novels are always about a lot more than ‘horror.’” However you may feel about Kiernan’s take on the classification of horror, her debut novel Silk definitely lives up to her claim about her own work.

Silk takes place among a group of outcasts and misfits in Birmingham, Alabama. Daria Parker is struggling to get somewhere with her rock band Stiff Kittens and to make her guitar-playing junkie boyfriend Keith straighten up and fly right. Lila “Spyder” Baxter wrestles with the memories of her traumatic childhood and acts as a mother of sorts to a small circle of “shrikes”: prissy drama queen Byron, slumming suburban spawn Robin and awkward, love-struck drug dealer Walter. Niki Ky arrives in town from Georgia, hoping to escape the guilt of her boyfriend committing suicide (she withdrew from him after he told her that he wanted to go through a sex change). The plot really gets rolling when Robin arranges her own version of a Native American Ghost Dance ritual in the basement of Spyder’s house using some peyote that Walter has procured. This starts a chain of events that sets all of these people on a collision course with each other.

In the hands of a lesser writer, all of this might have turned groaningly melodramatic or sensationalistic—some snickering, throwaway piece of exploitation. In Kiernan’s hands, however, Silk becomes so much more. It’s an effective horror story, sure, but it’s also a fiercely empathetic portrait of lonely, damaged people.

A good deal of the novel’s power stems from the specific, concrete details that Kiernan layers in about her characters’ lives. They have families, jobs they have to go to, co-workers they can’t stand, etc. In addition to this, Kiernan shows how, as members of a subculture that allows a broad range of preferences and experimentation (chemical, sexual, etc.), living in a fairly conservative community leaves her protagonists open to ridicule and potentially worse from jocks and others in the mainstream. By grounding Silk so firmly in the real world, Kiernan makes the supernatural elements of her story that much scarier.

However, this brings up a big question regarding the storyline of Silk: does anything supernatural actually happen? Going over it again, it occurred to me that all of the horrifying stuff could just be occurring in the characters’ minds (as I mentioned earlier, they experiment with quite a few substances). Indeed, Kiernan indicates as much by starting the book with an epigraph by Schopenhauer about objectivity and subjectivity. She also drops little hints throughout the novel (“Can’t even tell the difference between a goddamn dream and what’s real.”).

While you can debate whether the novel’s events have a supernatural or a psychological basis, you can’t deny the “reality” of the characters. As I mentioned earlier, Kiernan goes to great lengths to make her characters and the world that they inhabit feel real. She goes a step beyond that, however: she clearly cares about her characters (even the less appealing ones like Keith and Robin), and she makes you care about them too. This is even true—especially true, in fact—of Spyder, the character who may or may not cause the deaths of some of her friends. Instead of serving as a two-dimensional villain, she comes across as a human being who desperately craves what we all want and need: love, understanding, acceptance.

In some ways, Silk reminds me of Cat People (the Val Lewton original, not the Paul Schrader remake). Both feature realistic characters caught up in ambiguous, terrifying situations. Both center on a tormented figure who is both unsettling and heartbreaking. Both transcend the boundaries of genre and haunt you long after they finish.

Emma Rae Curtis has loved Halloween and everything that goes with it (costumes, scary movies, scary books, etc.) since she was a little girl. You can find evidence for her insanity hearing at her blog Emma Rae’s Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Release Announcement - Darling by Brad C. Hodson

Announcing the release of Darling by Brad C. Hodson, a new tale of dark horror from Bad Moon Books!

Darling by Brad C. Holdson
Publisher: Bad Moon Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 386
Release Date: October 26, 2012
Price: $18.95 (paperback)  
Plot Description: Raynham Place has been home to a number of mysterious occurrences. From its start as a battlefield through its time as a tuberculosis hospital and even in its current incarnation as an apartment complex, the grounds here have been awash in blood and instability. When two friends decide to move in to Raynham together, a wound that they share opens wide and threatens their sanity. But they’re not alone. Something is off here at Raynham, something that goes beyond the local legends of ghosts and serial killers and Black Hounds, something that gets inside of everyone who ever lives here. When a sacrifice is made, the first freely given in ages, the truth behind Raynham’s legends finally surfaces and the building fills to bursting with all the dreams of Hell…

Here is a preview of Chapter One from DARLING by Brad C. Hodson
The man in apartment 333 stopped scrubbing. He rinsed the chemicals from his hands and scanned the bathroom. It wasn’t clean enough (it could never be clean enough), but it would do. The cracks separating the tiles were the worst, but the bleach had worked well.

In the kitchen he rooted around on his hands and knees with an old toothbrush. Confident that the hidden dirt had been exposed, he swept and mopped again. He scrubbed every dish to a shine. He rubbed the silverware down with an expensive metal cleaner. He packed his wife’s remains into a large garbage bag. He cleaned the windows.

He stopped long enough to stare at his hands. White spots scattered across patches of reddened skin, a road map of the cleaning fluids he had used. His fingers were raw and bled around the nails. His palms burned from the bleach and the knot of muscle at the base of his thumbs screamed at him. He supposed he was finished with the apartment.

He sat on the couch and pulled the checkbook from his suit. He wrote a check for the next month’s rent and drew a smiley face next to his signature. The check went into an envelope along with his keys.

Leaving his apartment, garbage bag in tow, he climbed into the elevator at the end of the hall and mashed a button with his thumb. The doors rattled shut and the box threatened to break apart as it descended.

The shaking stopped and the doors creaked open. He stepped out, slid the envelope into the superintendent’s mail slot, and left by the back door.

Under the yellow light of the porch he felt disoriented. His head swam. Shadows writhed at the corners of his vision.

It passed and he stared into the night. Ahead of him, past the tacky lawn furniture and broken propane grill, the grass grew wild.

The wind danced through the field and praised him with dry, rustling words. He brushed his hand through the waist high growth. It was damp and cool.

He removed his jacket, folded it, and placed it on a lawn chair. His shirt followed, then his shoes. Socks. Pants. His boxer shorts were last. He rolled them into a ball that he slid inside one of the shoes. He placed the bag next to his clothes, his wife collapsing to one side.

The breeze came to him, took his hand, and led him in its dance. He smiled and walked naked through the field.

The supermarket rising from the grass was a black void absorbing the moonlight. It wasn’t until he was close that he could make out the cracked and vine covered facade, could read the faded nonsense spray-painted onto its side.

Broken pavement bit into his foot. One of the parking lot’s busted lights flickered to life over him. He stood there for a long while, staring into the blackness behind dusty glass doors.

He took a step forward. The doors slid apart along broken mechanical tracks. His view of the shadows was unhindered.

Without looking back, he stepped inside. The doors screeched shut behind him.

The light in the parking lot flickered once and went black.

Across the field, Raynham Place was quiet. His apartment sat, clean and empty, and waited for its next occupant.

About the Author: Brad C. Hodson is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He bounces between horror and comedy with a few stops in between. He’s also the Administrator for the Horror Writers Association. Visit him on the web at


Blood Brothers.

Title/Author: Blood Brothers (Sign of Seven #1) by Nora Roberts.

Narrated by: Phil Gigante.

Genre: Paranormal Romance.

Publisher: Brilliance Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Quinn.

All in all: Between Meh and Okay.

Synopsis: Every seven years, there comes a week in July when the locals do unspeakable things--and then don't seem to remember them. The collective madness has mad itself know beyond the town borders and has given Hawkins Hollow the reputation of a village possessed.

This modern-day legend draws reporter and author Quinn Black to Hawkins Hollow with the hope of making the eerie happening the subject of her new book. It is only February, but Caleb Hawkins, descendent of the town founders, has already seen and felt the stirrings of evil. Though he can never forget the beginning of the terror in the woods twenty-one years ago, the signs have never been this strong before.

Cal will need the help of his best friends, Fox and Gage, but surprisingly he must rely on Quinn as well. She, too, can see the evil that the locals cannot, somehow connecting her to the town--and to Cal. As winter turns to spring, Cal and Quinn will shed their inhibitions, surrendering to a growing desire. This will form the cornerstone of a group of men and women bound by fate, passion, and the fight against what is to come from out of the

My Thoughts:  I took this out of the library because the synopsis sounded promising and to be honest, the pickings are getting slimmer regarding the audio books at my local branch.  I was hoping for some horror scenes and scary moments, but this book is mostly about main characters Cal and Quinn researching the evil in the town and their romance. 

I like Quinn Black, the female protagonist. She is a strong, funny character and the fact that she is kind of pushy adds to her personality. She knows what she wants and her confidence is admirable.

The romance is at times sweet.  I'm not one for heavy mush in books, but I liked that Quinn told Cal she loved him simply because she thought he should know.  Her feelings came off as very sincere and so did most of the romance.  It is a little corny for me, but still romantic. Their banter back and forth is cute and fun.   (Just a silly side note, the term "frothy underwear" made me laugh and took me right out of *that* moment.) 

The book has some really nice creepy moments and elements and the dilemma is interesting, but in the long run, it felt like a long set up to me.  It was a bit too convenient and predictable.  Three men, three women and they all have backgrounds and secrets that have to do with this tale.  I already know who will end up with who in the next books and I'm sure they will defeat the evil and break the curse.  There was also some "As you know..." moments to recap, which worked as a plot device but didn't feel organic.

The narration of Quinn, Leila and Sybil also did not work for me.  I understand that male narrators may have trouble with female voices and unfortunately, the young women in this production sound falsetto.  Also, Leila is supposed to be from New York, but the accent was forced and at times sounded comical.  The male voices were much better, with Cal sounding normal and Gage sounding like Sam Elliott.  However, Fox's voice didn't work for me either.  Sometimes it reminded me of a stereotypical surfer and sometiems it reminded me a little of Don Knotts. 

I think the story is kind of fun, but the execution and characters could be richer.  Nora Roberts fans may like this because they know what they are getting.  But it is a bit formulaic and predictable to me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Meme #4

Welcome to my Halloween Meme! Each Thursday in October I will be asking a Halloween or Horror related question.

Feel free to simply answer the question in the coments below OR grab the button to create a post on your blog and don't forget to come back and leave your name/url in the linky.

Check out other blogs for their posts.

Question: You have the ability to contact any Horror or spooky author that has passed away.  Who is it and what do you talk about?

Answer: Edgar Allen Poe.  I would love to talk to him about about why he is so tortured!  I would also love to know his opinions on scary stories and how and why they effect people.  I would really just love to talk to him about anything. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guest Post: Halloween To Me by My 5 Monkeys.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love being able to dress up into something new each year. I have been a Beefeater, vampire bride, Superwoman, and this year I am going to be Kitty Martini.

I am more of a horror fan than my husband. I love to watch Saw and even Hostel. One of my favorite series that I have watched from the beginning and it has zombies is Resident Evil. Alice is a strong kick butt female, and at times it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. I love that she fights zombies and still looks good.

I also love to watch Witch movies. My favorite televsion show growing up was Bewitched. I loved that she could do magic. My other favorite movie is Practical Magic. I enjoyed the book more by Alice Hoffman.

I love that through books I can get some great ideas for Halloween. We just took the kids looking for Halloween costumes and the verdict is a singer, popstar, Jasmine, Spiderman, Batprincess.

I think my DH will be going as his old stand by costume of Superman/ Clark Kent.

Thanks to Midnyte Reader for having me here today.

Thank you Julie for visiting.  When Julie sent me her photo, I kept looking for cat ears because she told me this was her "kitty costume."  She finally clued me in that she was Kitty from the Alien novels by Gini Koch.  Then it all made sense!

Please visit My 5 Monkeys HERE.

Witch Bracelet Giveaway!

I made this bracelet using ceramic witch beads, Swarovski crystals, and sterling silver beads.  This has been strung on  Stretch Magic and just slides on your wrist.

To Enter:
~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Leave a comment below and tell me what you are doing this Halloween. 
~That's it! No need to follow, tweet, or like unless you want extra entries.

~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~This contest is international!
~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on October 29, 2012 at 12:01am. 
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Title/Author: Rotters by Daniel Krause

Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne.

Genre: Dark Fiction. 

Publisher: Listening Library.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Joey and Baby.

All in all: Dark and twisted.  Engrossing.

Synopsis: Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.

Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.

Daniel Kraus's masterful plotting and unforgettable characters make Rotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.

My Thoughts: I had thought a book about a son who goes into the family business of grave robbing was going to have a dark sense of humor.  I mean, how else can you cover this kind of subject?  My first thought about the narration was "Why so serious?  Shouldn't this be tongue in cheek?"  Well, I soon discovered that it was meant to be taken as it is presented -- dead serious. 

At first, I wasn't loving Rotters.  It is dismal and I felt like I was sinking into Joey's depression and dismay along with him.  He couldn't seem to get a break and I couldn't sympathize with him.  But then I realized that I needed to find out what happens to him.  I needed to find out how he handles his new situation, his father's secret calling, the one that soon becomes his own.  With his mother gone, his bully target status at school I needed to know how he survives.  He not only survives but he grows.  Maybe it's not a direction that anyone would want their child to go in, but he becomes  self reliant and strong.  With each day that his father tests him, to each day that his classmates test him to each "job" that challenges him.  He realizes a kind of twisted potential. The darkness that he comes to embrace and the secrets that he holds make him stronger.

I never connected with Joey's father, Ken Harnett, or with what he does, but the details and the research that have gone into this are apparent.  The images are stark, yet Harnett treats his calling with reverance and teaches his son the same respect. 

The narration is amazing.  One of the best interpretations and performances I've heard.  To be honest, I don't know if I would have been so engrossed in this book without Heyborne reading it.  His dramatic and subtle nuances are perfection.  All the voices are different and strong.  From Ken Harnett, who sounds like a tired Clint Eastwood, to Baby, whose southern charm oozes snakelike and insidious.  

The plot is unique and the events that occur circle around.  There are surprises and culminations and events I did not see coming.  Good ones, bad ones, ones that had me literally covering my mouth in shock.  I learned things that I really would have been okay not knowing.  Like a Rat King.  I would have been okay going through the rest of my life not knowing what that is. 

Rotters is not really for the faint of heart and although I found it a bit slow at times, especially in the beginning, I found a story that although is painful and extreme, is also complex, absorbing and powerful. 

Other Editions:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post by Sophia Hobbs - Southern Gothic: The Best Horror Writers, Stories and Series from Darkest Dixie

The illustrious Southern Writer Flannery O’Connor (more on her later) once said that “Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” Those of us down under the Mason/Dixon line may understand her sentiment better than our Northern counterparts. Maybe it’s the spare, endless austerity of the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas that gives you chills or the Spanish moss-draped, darkly Victorian plantations and crumbling cemeteries of New Orleans- its watershed prone to giving up the bones of the dead. Whatever the particulars, you may have experienced a certain venerable-seeming eeriness that feels particularly southern; one perhaps pronounced around the Halloween season. After all, there is no literary genre for “Northern Gothic”. So here is a Halloween-jitters-guaranteed collection of work from southern writers all too familiar with the dark side of Dixie.

Poppie Z. Brite; Calcutta: Lord of Nerves. Poppy Z. Brite is one of modern horror’s most skilled practitioners of putting the gory to legitimately scary use. Much of Brite’s gender-bending dark fiction takes place in her home city of New Orleans; although Calcutta: Lord of Nerves doesn’t. This Indian zombie-apocalypse tale is tinted darker by its comment on (in)human sexuality in its sometimes terrifying permutations.

Truman Capote; Tree of Night. Truman Capote is an excellently appropriate post-Poppy Brite inclusion. Both are New Orleans natives; both famous for the employment of the identity crises, confusion and panic engendered by sexuality as themes in their writing and both craft legitimately frightening fare. Although better known for his true-terror best-seller In Cold Blood, Capote’s short story collection A Tree of Night is a great one for the self-scare. Master Misery, about a man that buys (steals) dreams, is excellent but the collection’s eponymous short story about a young woman encountering a freakish couple on a train (they make their living reenacting the death and resurrection of Lazarus) who finds her evening increasingly descending into a cold, dark slip from reality is the creepiest of the lot.

Steve Dillon and Garth Ennis; The Preacher series. The Preacher graphic novel series by (the surprisingly) UK-stationed Ennis relays the journey of Jesse Custer- a Texas preacher unexpectedly possessed by a mad half-divine/half-diabolic entity which grants him a god-like power. Furious at the possession and state of the world, Custer sets out to scour the earth for God (Who’s fled heaven). The Preachers is accompanied by his reluctant hit-woman girlfriend and a hard-drinking, hard-brawling Irish vampire. They, in turn, are pursued by the Saint of Killers- the embodiment of vengeance- and The Grail, a secret society of immense power intent on both perpetuating the bloodline of Christ and concealing the fact that millennia of inbreeding have left Christ’s sole remaining descendent a developmentally-disabled sadist. A must read for fans of irreverent horror/humor.

William Faulkner; Sanctuary. There’s a widely agreed-upon distinction made by writers of the macabre between terror and horror and their individual merits; terror being preferable to horror. One of those writers described terror as the stomach-knotting, palm-sweating, teeth-grinding anxiety one would feel when knowingly about to discover a corpse. Horror is finding it- anticipation vs. revelation. Faulkner’s Sanctuary, about a woman taken captive by a sadistic and brutal bootlegger, is not a light-hearted gore-reveal horror story. It’s a perusal of terror and human weakness punctuated by moments of horror. It’s also William Faulkner and therefore excellent.

Charlaine Harris; The Southern Vampire Mystery Series; or the Sookie Stackhouse Novels; or their HBO adaptation True Blood. Of those in the list, Harris probably has the most public exposure and cachet at the moment because of HBO’s adaptation of her series about buxom, blonde psychic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. Harris follows Sookie’s (mis)adventures, romances and clashes with the vampiric, lycanthropic and magical denizens of (the mythical) Bon Temps, Louisiana. Fans of the show should read the books and vice versa.

Joe R. Lansdale; Duck Hunt. Texas native, Joe Lansdale is another master of capturing the creepiness of the Southern milieu. And he’s never better than in the shocking study in male machismo, violence, coming-of-age and… duck hunting found in Duck Hunt. Excellent.

Flannery O’Connor; A Good Man is Hard to Find. O’Connor ranks among the true masters of the Southern Gothic- Capote, Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Cormac McCarthy, Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams. That her fame is well-deserved is nowhere more apparent than in A Good Man is Hard to Find in which a selfish, judgmental grandmother dooms her family and herself upon encountering an escaped killer.

Edgar Allen Poe; The Gold Bug. This tale of pirate treasure, possible insanity, cryptography and a gold bug is set on Sullivan Island in North Carolina and was written by Edgar Allen Poe. Enough said.

Sophia Hobbs, who can often be found performing poetry and attempting to manage a little rugrat, all the while still maintaining her work with and assisting her brother with his company which handles damage restoration in Dallas and Fortworth.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Coffin bracelet giveaway!

Not just for Halloween, this bracelet can be worn anytime...

I made this using Swarovski crystals, sterling silver beads, ceramic coffin beads and glass black beads. This has been strung on Stretch Magic and just slides on your wrist.

~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Leave a comment below and tell me where you would like to visit for some Spooky Fun and why.
~That's it! No need to follow, tweet, or like unless you want extra entries.

~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~This contest is international!
~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on October 25, 2012 at 12:01am.
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Virtual Zombie Walk - Author Interview with Dr. Steven Schlozman: The Zombie Autopsies.

As the walking dead rise up throughout the world, a few brave doctors attempt to find a cure by applying forensic techniques to captured zombies.

On a remote island a crack medical team has been sent to explore a radical theory that could uncover a cure for the epidemic. Based on the team's research and the observations of renowned zombie expert Dr. Stanley Blum, THE ZOMBIE AUTOPSIES documents for the first time the unique biology of zombie organisms.

Detailed drawings of the internal organs of actual zombies provide an accurate anatomy of these horrifying creatures. Zombie brains, hearts, lungs, skin, and digestive system are shown, while Dr. Blum's notes reveal shocking insights into how they function--even as Blum and his colleagues themselves begin to succumb to the plague.

No one knows the ultimate fate of Dr. Blum or his researchers. But now that his notebook, THE ZOMBIE AUTOPSIES, has been made available to the UN, the World Health Organization, and the general public, his scientific discoveries may be the last hope for humans on earth.

When I contacted Dr. Steven Schlozman for a speaking engagement over the summer, he accepted immediately.  I was touched by his enthusiasm and friendliness and impressed with his kindess and generosity.  I was intimidated at first (okay I still am a bit, because I mean, look at his credentials below), but Dr. Schlozman (who our organization nicknamed "The Zombie Doctor.") is also extremely down to earth and approachable.  I thought he would be a perfect candidate for an interview for the Blogger Virtual Zombie Walk and he once again eagerly agreed. 

1. How did your interest in zombies come about? Were they always your favorite "monster?"

I don't think zombies were my favorite, but they were "a" favortie. When I was a kid, I watched what they used to call the "Creature Features" on Saturday morning television. I remember they were on the UHF stations, and they were a campy mix of the classics along with the Hammer Horror stuff and some more modern stuff. I loved the wolf man back then, and had that gypsy curse memorized as if it held real power. I started liking zombies a lot with the Evil Dead movies, even those aren't really zombies. They just got called zombies, and that brought me back to watching again as a young adult some of the zombie movies that basically scared the poop out of me when I was a kid. I distinctly remembering sneaking in to see Dawn of the Dead and then not being able to get home on my own from the theater. (I had to call my folks). Now I see zombies as a great proxy for all sorts of difficult questions - how do you define being human, when, or is it ever worth giving up, how can we better understand the marvels of the brain, and so forth.

2. What led you to write The Zombie Autopsies?

Actually, I was sublimating after I found out my wife had Breast Cancer. She's fine now, but at the time I was super-scared, so I stayed up late and watched whatever was on TV. The original Night of the Living Dead was on one night, and I realized that the "zombies" had diagnosable symptoms - in other words, you could assign brain dysfunction to much of their behavior, and you could at the same time examine the way fear makes non-zombie-like characters act with the impuslive rage of the classic zombie. That brought me to a fake medical paper which I presented at the Coolidge Corner Theater before a showing of Night of the Living Dead, then contact with folks in Hollywood, and eventually the book contract. I also had lots of inspiration from Max Brooks, George Romero, and Matt Mgok, all zombie enthusiasts who were kind enough to allow me to befriend them.

3. The Zombie Autopsies is more of a diary, an account...what made you choose this style to tell your story?

I wanted a kind of versimilitude - the sense that the documents were found and had to be pieced together. I wanted the reader to feel just like the protagonist; getting sicker exactly as the mystery is being solved. The most facile way to do this seemed via the first person format.

4. What kind of research did do for it?

Fun Research! I had to bone up (no pun intended) on infectious diseases, epidemiology, religious dogma, and history. I had to see how the UN writes treaties, and I had to better understand that notions by which we define humanity. This brought me to doctors, scientists, philosophers and writers.

5. Did you find anything that surprised you?

I was suprised by how many zombie fans there are! I'd call folks out of the blue and sheepishly explain to them why I was calling and what I was researching, and then we'd spend the next 20 minutes just reliving our favorite zombie films. I also found what I guess I expected but was happy to have confirmed - that fans of the genre are largely non-violent, fascinated by the intellectual questions that the genre evokes, and consistently nice.

6. How did you find the illustrator?

My editor found her. Isn't she awesome? The book wouldn't be the same without Andrea.

7. What do you want people to take away after reading The Zombie Autopsies?

I want them to see how tenuous our definitions are...what makes us sick, what makes us well, what makes us alive, what makes us dead, and how badly we can behave in the face of stress and fear, but how ultimately were pretty special as a species.

8. Does your work as a psychiatrist somehow tie in to your zombie hobby?

I work with kids. To that end, the playfulness of being a child psychiatrist lends itself to taking outlandish concepts and making real use of the ideas they bring.

9. Why do you think there is such a huge trend toward zombie entertainment today? Do you think it will change? Lessen? Go away?

I think fear and uncertainty, just like the shambling body walking towards you in movie that might be your injured grandmother or might be a zombie, lend themselves to this genre. Zombie are so deceptively impersonal...if that grandmother is a zombie, she doesn't know you, though she looks like she should. Sort of like banks...if that bank says it has a loan but really takes your money, then we react badly and frenetically. That seems not a bad way to describe our drift towards impersonal modernity.

10. If there was a zombie apocalypse what would be the first thing you would do?

Write stories. That's how Homer stayed alive!

11. Can you share your exciting news about The Zombie Autopsies?

Well, it's been optioned by George Romero and the first part of the script is done. Fingers crossed that it'll make it to the big screen. I'm currently working on the sequel.

Steven Schlozman, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Lecturer in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his Medical Degree at the Brown-Dartmouth Program in Medicine, and completed his training in general psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and his Child Psychiatry Residency at the MGH/McLean Program in Child Psychiatry.

He is currently the Associate Director of Training for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program at the MGH/McLean Program in Child Psychiatry, and Co-Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry for Harvard Medical School. Clinically, he works with children, adolescents and adults in both psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic treatment settings, and he serves as the pediatric psychiatry consultant to the pediatric transplant unit at the MGH Hospital for Children. His academic work focuses on curriculum reform and educational endeavors at the medical student and post graduate levels, as well as on the psychiatric treatment of medically ill children. His first novel, The Zombie Autopsies, was published by Grand Central Publishing in March 2011

For another terrific article that delves a little deeper into Dr. Schlozman's research, check out this post by Mark Strauss HERE.

To purchase The Zombie Autopsies, click HERE.

~I am giving away three (3) copies of The Zombie Autopsies to three (3) different winners.

~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Leave a meaningful comment below about something from this interview.
~That's it! No need to follow, tweet, or like unless you want extra entries.

~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~This contest is international!  As long as Amazon or Book Depository delivers to your address.
~Winner may choose Hardcover, paperback, kindle or audio edition.  (Price not to exceed $16.00)(Audio edition from Amazon only).

~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on October 25, 2012 at 12:01am.
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thanks to Zombies Everywhere for organizing this Zombie Walk. Don't forget to visit all the other blogs that are participating!

Zombies Everywhere
Halloween Blues
The Southern Northerner
Martha's Journey
Annie Walls
GingerRead Review
App'y Talk
Kweeny Todd
Jenny's House of Horrors
Bubba's Place
Fictional Candy
herding cats & burning soup
Author Sherry Soule Blog
Paranormal research Group Blog
Adult Urban Fantasy by Sherry Soule
Moonlight Publishing Blog
Candid Canine
Ghost Hunting Theories
Above the Norm
A Dust Bunny In The Wind
Faith McKay
Zombob's Zombie News & Movie Reviews
Flesh From The Morgue
The Living Dark
Some One Else's Cook
Stumptown Horror
Forget About TV, Grab a Book
Zombie Dating Guide
Strange State
The Paranormalist - Renae Rude
Idée Fixe
Random Game Crafts
WhiteRoseBud's Tumblr
Book Me!
Carmen Jenner Author
Sarasota Zombie Pub Crawl
Not Now...Mommy's Reading
Love is a Many Flavored Thing
Its On Random
Ellie Potts
Attention Earthlings!
Horror Shock LoliPOP
The Spooky Vegan
The Story In...
DarkSide Detectives Blog
Something wicKED this way comes....
Julie Jansen: science fiction and horror writer
Author/screenwriter James Schannep
The Zombie Lab
Creepy Glowbugg
Sharing Links and Wisdom
Midnyte Reader
This Blog Has A.D.D.
Carol's Creations
Jeremy Bates

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Meme #3

Welcome to my Halloween Meme! Each Thursday in October I will be asking a Halloween or Horror related question.

Feel free to simply answer the question in the coments below OR grab the button to create a post on your blog and don't forget to come back and leave your name/url in the linky.

Check out other blogs for their posts.

Question: Who is your favorite Horror or spooky character (from a book)?

Answer: There are just so many!  I love Nick from The Stand by Stephen King.  Although being a deaf mute has probably effected him emotionally, he is still an upstanding person and honorable.  I also adore Cas from Anna Dressed in Blood.  No one is cooler!  While nothing supernatural happens in Gillian Flynn's Dark Places, the main protagonist, Libby Day is an amazing protagonist.  She is damaged - physically and mentally, yet she is tenacious, honest, and while not always the most likeable person, I couldn't help but care about her deeply. 

First Grave on the Right.

Title/Author:  First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Narrated by: Lorelai King.

Genre: Paranormal Romance.

Publisher: MacMillan Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: U.B.

All in all:  Light and fun.

Synopsis: Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

My Thoughts:  Although the events in this book put the main protagonist Charley in danger, the humor that comes through puts the reader in a receptive mood to the probability that that events will work out, at least for Charley.  I also like how the opening of each chapter is a funny t-shirt, bumper sticker saying.  Charley is vulnerable and uses humor and sassy quips when she feels threatened or defensive.  Charley does reveal some sadness, fears and misgivings, but sometimes as she tries to brush things off with her humor, it comes off as someone who feels sorry for themself.  This is not a horrible quality in a character, in fact it makes her more real and believable.  The problem for me was that I didn't feel as connected to her as I would have liked. 

The plot and sub plots were interesting and well done.  They tied into each other because Charley has a paranormal protector who shows up when she is in imminent danger and that is part of the mystery she is trying to solve for herself personally.  There were some definite surprises and revelations.  What I really liked about Charley is that she is NOT a kick-ass fighter.  She doesn't know Karate or use numchucks or even really how to fight.  It was kind of a nice change of pace from a lot of UF/PNR books out there.  She is a normal woman who just happens to have a paranormal calling. 

The narration is done very well.  Lorelai does humor and snarkiness perfectly.  She captured Charley's character very well and had a smart ass innocence that was clear in her tone.  She also did a lot of other voices very well including male voices.  There were never any times that I felt taken out of the story because of the narration. 

There is romance and some sex scenes but nothing over the top.  So, I was good with with this aspect.  The romance is also paranormal in scope so that was, umm, interesting to say the least.  But it does not take away from the story. 

I also really liked Charley's relationships with her father and her uncle.  The one with her step-mother is a strained and I would actually like to have explored that more.  I'm thinking that in the sequels the author may get more into this family dynamic.

The other small issue I had is that for the most of the book it is pretty light paranormal.  Then, it goes into much deeper and darker stuff at the end.  Although I like my books deep and dark, it just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story to me. 

Okay, the cover?  At first glance it says "Summer beach read" to me.  You have to look closer to see the skulls on her sandals and the scythe in the corner.  I like that it's a bit different from a hot babe on the cover and kind of lighter, like the book itself. 

If you like fun paranormal romance on the lighter side, I think you will like this book.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romancing the Vampire Giveaway!

Romancing The Vampire: From Past to Present by David J. Skal.

Long before Edward Cullen and the Twilight phenomenon, there was Angel, Barnabas Collins and Bela Lugosi, and many others in between. They are vampires — the undead. Add an infusion of Bella, Buffy and Carla Laemmle, then sprinkle in unforgettable characters such as Renfield and little Eddie Munster, and you have a capsule of how cinematic vampires are viewed by today’s world. But there were vampires walking this earth long before the invention of movies and television. In this book, author David J. Skal weaves a narrative history of vampirism, from the ancient Aztecs through the writings of Bram Stoker, Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer. But what makes this book even more unique are the replicas tucked inside sleeves and pockets. There are removable photos of Bram Stoker, Carmilla and Lord Byron. For movie buffs, it has posters from Nosferatu, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave starring Christopher Lee, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula — along with a replica of Stoker’s “Dracula” notes. It also has photographs from Forks, Washington, where the Twilight series is based. Take a walk through the history of the undead, with romance, horror and blood along the way. 

Foreword by Nina Auerbach, author of Our Vampires, Ourselves. Afterword by Rosemary Guiley, author of Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other

This is a gorgeous book that I picked up especially for Halloween Hootenanny when Borders was closing.  I didn't get a chance to give them away last year so here they are for 2012.  I didn't realize just how cool it was until I got home and opened one up. First of all the book itself comes in a sleeve cover.

Then the inside is full of information and pictures in a scrap/memory book type form. You can actually touch and take out elements.

I admit I picked one up for myself too!

~I have six (6) books to give away to six (6) different winners.  (Yes!  That's right!  Six!)

To Enter:
~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Leave a comment below answering the following question: Would you like to be a vampire or a vampire hunter?
~That's it! No need to follow, tweet, or like unless you want extra entries. 

~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~This contest is international!
~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on October 24, 2012 at 12:01am.
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

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