Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tarotsphere by Jeffery X Martin

I use my blog for many things. Book reviews, my insatiable, odd interests, writing about monsters, and also to help other writers by promoting their work, to name a few. This post is dedicated to the latter. My very good friend, Mr. Jeffery X Martin, has a fabulous new book release titled, Tarotsphere, which is an in-depth study of the Tarot, written in his infamous and entertaining style of prose. And did I mention there's a CONTEST? Read on to find out more about the man, the myth, the X...



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Hello.
I am not Amber. My name is X. However, if you would like to call me Amber, that will be an extra five dollars.
The Real Amber (whose real name is not Amber, but oddly enough, is also X) has let me commandeer her blog for a little minute so that I may tell you a little about myself and my new book, Tarotsphere. There’s a contest, too, so make sure you’ve got your decoder rings ready!

You can buy the book here.


Tarotsphere is a storybook for adults, an absurdist look at the Tarot deck people are familiar with, in which I’ve given every single card its own back story. You’ll meet characters like Tremulous, the Barber and Kimmy, the High Priestess. It’s all in good fun, of course, but it isn’t disrespectful. There’s still enough insight into the inherent wisdom of the cards themselves that you could interpret a Tarot reading using the book. You’ll have to use your imagination. A gallon of cheap red wine helps, too.
Right now, Tarotsphere is available in electronic form only. You can read it on your Kindle or your Nook. You can download a free app from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble to read it on your PC! We’ll think about physical copies if the demand for them is great enough.
Oh, the contest? Right. The contest. I’m giving away three Tarot readings to be done over video Skype. All the details are over at my blog, which I’m thinking about letting Amber run for me. You’ve got until Halloween at midnight to enter.
What else do I do? Well, I run a movie and music site and I write scary stories. I’m currently working on a horror script for Bluetrane Productions and developing a project that I can’t talk about yet. Except to say it’s awesome.
So now that you know a little about me, I know you would like nothing better than to become one of my internet stalkers. Let me give you the information to do precisely that.  You’ve already got my website addresses… oh. Here’s my Amazon author page. You can buy my stuff from there. If you want to do it all for the Nook, here’s the link for that. You might as well follow me on Twitter, too. I’m there a lot and I’ll talk to you if you follow me and talk to me, unless you’re an asshole. Find me: @X_the_Unknown.
Buy my books! Be my Twitter friend! Become a fan now, while interest rates are low and you can still get in on the ground level!
Ugh. Amber wants her blog back now. Fine. Whatever. Anyway, thanks for your time and attention. I’m gonna go do some stuff. Important stuff. Like, play Bejeweled or something. For research.
-X-

If you have any questions for X about the book or his writing, please use the comments below. Thank you for visiting!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Guest Post by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

I would like to welcome guest and fellow horror author, Kathryn Meyer Griffith. She has a little tale to share, one of a Halloween from years passed. This is the perfect time of the year to snuggle up near a fire with a steaming mug of hot chocolate or apple cider and listen to ghost stories. Kathryn has just the tale for us. It's one of a Halloween from years passed. Without further ado, I give you Kathryn.




Halloween Memories

Treat or Treat, Robots and Candy Corn

By author Kathryn Meyer Griffith


I believe I’m lucky. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Halloween was so different back then. Simpler. More innocent. Exciting. A true holiday for children. And I have memories I’ll cherish my whole life.
My family was large. I had six siblings, three sisters and three brothers, and we never had much money. My dad was a salesman and my mother, like a lot of women during that time, didn’t work outside the home…she was busy enough raising seven children. We were the poor family down the street with too many kids living in the shabby two-story spooky looking house. Our neighbors shunned us or felt sorry for us. But I didn’t care, I had my family to love me. I had Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother, to fill our bellies with food when the table was a little too bare. I had my ambitions and dreams, science fiction and scary library books to read and pictures to draw (I wanted to be an artist from the age of nine). I frolicked in the empty fields riddled with deep gullies beside our house with my brothers and sisters or ran the dark streets and woods playing hide-and-go-seek. Sang to the moon on our rusty swing set in the backyard with my brother, Jim. Or, on a black and white TV set, watched Zorro, the Twilight Zone or The Lone Ranger on swelteringly hot nights in a house with no air-conditioning. Sweet days and nights. Poignant memories now that many of my family are gone.
Halloween was my favorite holiday, next to Christmas. I remember one, when I was about ten or so, vividly. It was cold and raining, but nothing stopped us four older children (the rest were too young that year) from going out into the neighborhood and collecting big brown bags of free candy. No, not when candy was so rare for us. My parents could hardly keep enough food in the house, much less buy us sweets. So Halloween meant a windfall of treats. Nothing kept us home on that night. We’d quickly eat the bowls of chili Mom would insist we eat as the sun went down. Another tradition. So we had some real food in our stomachs before the glut of candy came.
My mother, money being sparse as always, dressed us two girls up as gypsies, using her old costume jewelry and tying bright scarfs around our heads and waists. My younger brother Jon, wore an old sheet with cut out eye slots. A ghost. My other brother, Jim, had outdone himself that year and, out of two cardboard boxes and paint, had fashioned himself a robot. Wasn’t bad for an eight year old, either. Made it hard for him to walk, though. He stumbled a lot.
That night we traipsed through the wet woods, a short cut, to the rich subdivision down the road that – oh, my – gave out those huge candy bars at each door, enormous homemade popcorn balls or bags of candy corn, my favorite. My grandmother had taught Jim and I a catchy song…G-i-n-g-a, G-i-n-g-a, G-i-n-g-a…Ginga was his name. Never understood that song but I think it was about a pet dog or something. Jim and I got so much good feedback, so many treats for belting it out, though, that at Christmas we were performing The Little Drummer Boy for anyone we could corner and sing to. The beginning of our later singing folk duo (so big in the 60’s) and then my short (my brother kept singing out as I began writing my novels) singing career, no doubt.
We had a great haul that night. Cold and rainy as it was. Frozen as our faces and fingers became. Maybe got even more goodies because it was so inclement. We went to all the houses, collected our booty, and ecstatic at our bulging bags, at the end of the night, ran through the trees toward home. Trying to beat the rain, which had become a deluge, worst of the night. With noisy thunder, and spectacular lightning. It was sooo spooky. In the spirit of the night, we were sure something bad was following us. We ran faster. Our paper bags getting soaked as we cradled them against our shivering bodies.
Then, clumsy in his robot disguise (he kept bumping into trees because he couldn’t see) Jim fell over a tree limb and spilled his candy everywhere. As he cried, we scurried around trying to salvage what we could. Didn’t do much good. Too dark. The rain was too heavy. So the three of us promised to share our booty with him and we led him home.
As we were drying off and warming up, Mom and Dad smiled at our stories of singing for our candy and all the strange ghouls and monsters we’d met on the way; laughed over Jim’s mishap and gave us hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows to drink.
Then there was a knock at the front door and when we looked, there was Grandma Fehrt, dressed as a wicked witch, complete with tall black hat and long dress, cackling at us. Trying to fool us. But we all knew it was her. She dressed up every year and knocked at our door. Always a witch.
We kids hugged her and laughed, then sat at the table counting out (and oohing and aahing with glee) over our candy haul. We shared it with Jim, of course.
To this day I remember that Halloween with a wistful smile. Such good times from so long ago. I see my brothers and sisters young faces through the mists of time, remember the thrill of singing with my brother for the first time and the delight of the people giving us the candy in exchange for the song. I remember my parents and the love in that drafty old house we scampered back to. I remember my grandmother with her smiling witch eyes and painted face. Remember going to bed with a stomach ache because I’d eaten too much candy. Heck, I always did. And I remember those no longer with us. My father, my mother, one of my brothers and all of my grandparents.
My childhood, when I think of nights like that, is just a moment away. The dead are with me again. Ah, I’d give anything to go back in time and be with all of them once more. The way we were. Young and hopeful and with our lives ahead of us. Enjoying each other’s company…and all that good candy.
Anything.

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Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.
All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith



           
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615722327http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615722327
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)
Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615724253http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615724253
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615722075http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615722075
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZU77j_q4S8http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZU77j_q4S8
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)
Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615723553
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615723201
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)
Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615725007
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003…soon to be an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…soon an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Eternal Press buy link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724437  My self-made
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cogCNYKzPqc
Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724604)
You Tube Book Trailer address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZYCs2DVhHg
The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615725182
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28HZqu-my1g
Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3q9rZryFMo
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422
BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)
Damnation Books buy link: httphttp://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721313
You Tube self-made Book trailer with original song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0-U9c2Lwfo
The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615721979
You Tube Book Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcRBvDI5G4Y
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)
4 SPOOKY SHORT STORIES (Amazon Kindle 2012)

My Websites:
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
http://www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG
http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486
http://www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.goodreads.com/profile/kathrynmeyergriffith

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity






Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity from Sirens Call Publications…
Ever wonder how the ancient myths would unfold if set against the backdrop of modern day? Would monsters still hold the populace in an icy grasp of fear? Twelve talented authors took on that challenge, crafting tales of horror and intrigue mixed with the lore has withstood infinite retellings.
Myth or reality…
Explore the twelve tales of horror and intrigue in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity and ask yourself, what would you consider a fair price to pay for life immortal... or the chance of life at all?
Would a young woman pass up a shiny bauble if she believed it to be nothing more than a harmless trinket? What transpires once a year in a peaceful and remote village that no one will ever speak of? What better way for a broken man to honor a crippled existence than with a memorial of blood and vengeance? How could a disfigured woman ever dream of chancing across an object that would restore her beauty - and at what cost?
Follow the twists and turns of each writer as they delve into the legends of days gone by, as well as the consequences that are wrought when myths and monstrosities collide with our world.
Contributing Authors include:
Thomas James Brown, Nina D'Arcangela, K. Trap Jones, Amber Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Edward Lorn, Alexa Muir, Kate Monroe, Joseph A. Pinto, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Julianne Snow, and Jonathan Templar

These modern myths from Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity are available from:
eBook: Amazon, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, Amazon.es, Smashwords (Nook, Kobo, Sony and Kindle eReaders)

A selection of three superbly crafted tales of mythological horror from the twelve contained within Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. For a preview of all 12 stories, please go to SirensCallPublications.com
Hades and the Hydra – Amber Keller
It was business as usual. The day had started like any other. New York City was bustling with the normal activity of the big city at dawn. People already crowded the streets, business owners were busy with opening the many stores, and the street was filled with a never-ending stream of taxis and other vehicles. The cornucopia of smells that completed the city wafted in on a cool breeze. There was nothing different, as far as anyone knew. But in truth there was a sinister plan nearing fruition underneath the unsuspecting city.
In the depths of the Underworld, Hades sat in the vast expanse of a large, dark, cavernous room, on a throne built of obsidian bones. Cerberus, the three-headed dog, lay at his feet. snoring.
“Persephone, come to me.” Hades cracked his knuckles as he issued the command.
Persephone glided into the room, her head down. She crossed the expanse and knelt beside him.
“Today is the day that I shall finally have some fun,” he said as he stroked her silken hair.
Keine Solche Sache – Edward Lorn
"Parthenogenesis is a dream. Or a nightmare, depending on who you are talking to." Johan Schmidt said. "Christians call this The Immaculate Conception. They believe that Mary, the mother of the baby Jesus, had never known the internal touch of a man. I believe the lady just cheated on her husband."
The hotel banquet hall livened with short bursts of nervous laughter. Johan waited for them to subside before continuing.
"No other religion has this belief. Allah didn't impregnate some unknowing woman. Buddha didn't tiptoe through the tulips to drops seed in some impoverished house wife. And don't get me started on Shiva! The Jewish community doesn’t even believe Jesus was the son of God. So, if you're hearing this, and you are, in fact, Jewish, you think Mary was an unfaithful wife, too. Don't you? That's what I thought."
More sporadic laughter.
"I may be German, but even you must admit I have a point. The Nazis - and yes, my family tree does contain one or two - researched the possibility of this Parthenogenesis. They wanted to make the super soldier, as it were. A cloned man, or woman - they were not sexist - with infinite powers. They theorized that if they could map and control the human genome, then they could unlock the ninety percent of the brain us normal bipedals could not."
A Fair Price – Alexa Muir
A splash sounded to Hannah’s left. She swung her head, her copper hair cascading over her neck, but saw only ripples in the water by the side of the pool. Puzzled, she got up from her comfortable perch and walked over to the pool’s edge. Though she peered intently into the pool’s depths, she saw nothing; the water was clear and sparkling all the way to the mosaic bottom. With an internal shrug, she decided to seek out Matt for herself.
Studying her nails as she wandered past the lounger, Hannah reached down one handed to pick up her book, only for her fingers to meet the wooden tabletop with a scrape. It wasn’t there. Grumbling, she went onto one knee and peered under the table, and then under the lounger. Still no book. She could have sworn she put it there. A little worm of unease slinked into her guts, but she decided to ignore it and continued her way around the house. She could hear Matt laughing and knew that Jess would be the source of the amusement.
“Jess, stop, get off, stop it!” The words came fractured between Matt’s laughter, and when Hannah came round the corner she saw that he was having a tug of war with Jess for the hose he’d been washing the paving with. It looked like Jess was winning.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Of Mice and Minotaurs...


 I really never jump on here and just talk. With the title of my blog, I thought it was fitting that I put up this post on, well, some late night ramblings. And so it begins...



Every decision we make takes us to a different path, a different place. We are faced with these decisions every day, sometimes many times a day. The big decisions, the ones that are significant life markers, or changers if you will, will set us on a bigger branch that has many smaller branches, an infinite number of them, coming off either sides for its duration. The bigger branches are sometimes there, and sometimes they can simply appear. It all depends on the choices we make each time we are faced with a decision. 

A decision can be one as small as “what do I want to eat?” because in this choice we may have to, for instance, leave our destination to go forth and find food. If this happens, there is the possibility that circumstances out of our control can occur, which could alter the path and potential decisions we would be faced with hereupon. To see this is to envision an endless, complex system of networks of branches. It is ever changing, never static; a dynamic flow of roads and networks that are shifting and turning like a Rubik’s Cube of life. We play the part of a wizard, or a marionette handler, in this case. We have the ability to make these decisions, and cause the changes that will occur from then forward. The mere fact that we have memory, the ability to recall our past experiences, and to apply this knowledge so that we may make a more educated choice, is fascinating. However, there are those who do not seem to be able to, or use this applied knowledge. 

Why is that? 

If you can harken back to a time, an experience, that may have even the smallest degree of similarity or parallel, you could use that information to make a better informed decision. Although, there are those, the dreamers if you will, that live life in a constant newness, as if each experience, each decision, each choice they are faced with, is a new one, never before experienced, not needing or perhaps wanting to apply any learned behaviors or experiences to any choices they may have in the future, or maybe not even aware this is an option, or let’s even say that they may not have been given the ability to do this at all. 

Again I have to ask, why is that? 

These (poor ? - you decide) individuals could save themselves much pain and suffering, potentially, by utilizing this most basic of human ability. Or maybe that is all a part of their life plan, their path, but to think of their path in this unknown, is a bit confusing and muddles the mind. Maybe they simply aren’t meant to. In order for us, as a species, to have a rich, mixed and complex race, we would need to have all representation of all gamut’s, correct? If so, then that would mean that, unfortunately, there would be some individuals who would not have the means to use this method. These people, would their lives be harder, filled with more tribulations, more failures, repeated failures even, necessarily?

Or, would their lives be filled with richness…




I kind of think of life like the great labyrinth in Crete with its vast twists and turns, dark corners and endless maze, and lest we not forget the epic minotaur who resides in the center, waiting for someone to stumble upon him and be his next sacrifice. Theseus slayed the Minotaur, and followed the string he had left behind him back to the entrance. In life, we face our own Minotaur. Some may have more than one, some just the one. Whether we win the fight is up to many variables. If we do not win, do we die? I don’t think so, necessarily. It may hinder a part of us; render it inert, if you will. Maybe a certain area of us will be crippled. Maybe it will be become unusable. Maybe it gets buried deep down inside of our innermost recesses, hidden in the dark folds of our gray matter itself, locked away in a box. Who’s to say? But if we are victorious, it would give us strength and cunning, agility and temperament. The ability to fight another day and use the new found skills to enhance our lives. Maybe. Or maybe we go on to another day as if it’s completely new, and face the next Minotaur with a clean slate.




Is life, then, an endless torrent of fights and challenges? If we look at it that way it’s enough to exhaust and wear down the spirit. Well, let's not.

So which one fares better - the one who learns and applies that knowledge or the dreamer? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed


Sirens Call Publications has recently released their first Anthology titled

“Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed”

Childhood Nightmares is a collection of twelve tales of youthful terror spun by twelve different authors recounting the horrors that creep and crawl through a child’s imagination in the darkest hours of the night. Or is it? Perhaps one of these so called ‘imagined’ tales is similar to one of your very own. Has an unwitting author inadvertently tapped into your psyche without you knowing it? You’ll have to read the stories to find out…









Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.


We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?


Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again...


Tell us, who is Under the Bed?


Contributing Authors:  Colin F. Barnes, Nina D'Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller,
Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott,
Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen


Pick up a copy of Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed as either an eBook or in print format from:

                  Samshwords.com (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)
Print:     Amazon.com, CreatSpace.com



 



An excerpt from each of the stories in “Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed

 ‘Madeleine’ - Julianne Snow
“Mommy.”
Nothing.
“Mommy?”
Still nothing. No tell-tale shuffling sound of socked feet on the hardwood floor.
“MOMMY!”
Nothing… Where was she? How could she have not heard?
“MMOOOMMMMMYY!”
With tears streaming down her cherubic face, Stella wondered if her dream had come true. As she debated running the short distance over the oaken surface to her parent’s room, she listened intently for the sounds of her mother’s imminent stirring.
Finally.
Stella heard the soft sounds of her mother’s footfalls in the hallway. She was coming.
More tears welled up in her young throat.
As her door burst open, she was surprised to see the form of her sister in the light of the hallway, a smell pervading the room unlike anything she had ever smelled before. Burnt. Wet…”

 ‘Telling Tales’ - Phil Hickes
“She’s here for yet another visit with her cat, Demdike. None of which sounds too bad, you say? Lots of young boys have stuffy old grandmothers and aunties that they have to put up with. And cats are cute and fluffy.
But Peter’s Aunt Alice scares him. In fact, she frightens him to death. And her cat is just as bad, with fur as black as its soul.
That’s why he’s reluctant to go upstairs; because soon, Aunt Alice will be up to tell him a bedtime story. It’s become something of a custom. Peter was delighted when she first offered to come and tuck him in. Despite feeling a little nervous in her presence, and a tiny bit afraid of her pinched, lined face, white hair and bony limbs, she was a welcome female presence. For the first few minutes it had been enjoyable too. She wrapped the sheets tightly around him, clicked off the overhead light and turned on the lamp. He felt warm and snug…”
But then she began to tell him the stories…”

‘Excess Baggage’ - Lisamarie Lamb
“And now Nigel could see someone. A small, round man in a pair of white trousers and a deep blue shirt, sweat circles staining his underarms, his stomach straining the buttons running down his chest, down his stomach. The man’s curly dark hair rippled in the sunlight as he bobbed his head up and down. He was peering out of a small gap between two houses. He was smiling, beckoning to Nigel; and when Nigel moved towards him his smile began a grin, all teeth and harmless joviality.
Nigel went to the man against his better judgment. He went against his worst judgment, feeling strangely calm about it all, despite thinking he had wandered far too far, into a bad area. Into the sort of area a tourist shouldn’t go. And he had been caught. He felt rather stupid about the whole thing, and rather sad about leaving Maggie and Bob. But there was a certain inevitability about it all.
Even if Nigel couldn’t quite remember why…”

‘Timothy’ - Joshua Skye
Quivering from fear, her teeth rattling in her little head, hands trembling, she stared into the deep darkness to catch any movement; the twinkling of an eye perhaps. Anything to let her know where he was, out there in the darkness. There was nothing for a long time.
“Where are you?” she muttered in a squeaky voice. Something moved in her peripheral vision. She turned. Fast, but not fast enough. Perhaps it was nothing more than a shadow that had just blended with the dark. “Timothy, you stop it. You stop it right now.” She tried to sound like her mother, to mimic her authoritative tone, but it hadn’t worked. Her voice had cracked and it trembled with her apprehension. “I know it’s you,” she whispered, more to herself than to him.
She started to cry, she couldn’t help it. Her tears streamed down her tiny face and there was a lump forming in her throat. She had to fight to swallow; she had to fight to breathe.
Timothy began to mock her. “Timothy, please. Stop it, Timothy! Go away, Timothy.” The sinister, scratchy voice seemed to come from everywhere, the shadows, the darkness, under the desk, from behind the stuffed animals, under the bed…”

‘Show and Tell’ - Kate Monroe
He belatedly realized that tonight, there had still been no answer, no response. He leaned over the edge of the bed and cautiously lifted the sheets.
“Are you there?”
A blast of fetid air; putrid, repellent.
Satisfied, Tommy continued.
“I wish they’d bloody die.” Awestruck by his bravery in making the grand pronouncement, he allowed himself a few moments in which to savor the forbidden words on his tongue before he spoke again. “Yeah, I do. I wish they’d both just shut up and die.”
A sigh, no stronger than the breeze outside, lifted up the bed sheets and danced around Tommy’s bare feet, curling up his toes as he pursed his thin lips.
“What do you think, then?”
Before any answer could come from under the bed, shuffling footsteps announced his great-aunt’s arrival in his room…”

‘The Confession of a Confirmed Has-Been’ - John McIlveen
“I behaved for the first three months. I simply observed the Hansons’ way of life, as I had with the two previous families. In my condition I witness traits and habits often unnoticed by people in a more physical state, like Scott's insistent nose picking and compulsion to wipe his findings on my fireplace, or Bruce’s fixation with himself. If he spent any more time flexing in front of a mirror, I fear he'd get himself pregnant.
I do grant people the privacy of their bedrooms and the facilities, I’m not immoral - though discovering that Karen roams the house in nature's garb when alone was pleasing. I may be dead, but I’m still a man.
My condition is also what allows me to view Kimberly with utmost anonymity. In my spectral cloak, I track Kimberly about the house, watching as she involved herself in childhood fantasies, oblivious to all else. I walked with her through the garden, rejoiced with her, celebrating each discovery with open-eyed wonder. I wallowed in that beautiful youthfulness that fades as we become involved in the trivialities of adulthood…”

‘Seeing is Believing’ - Amber Keller
“At supper no one mentioned what had happened, and that was fine with Timothy. It was strange, but he felt like if he talked about it, it would make it more real.
When his parents went to bed, he stayed on the couch, saying he would go up to bed soon, that he wanted to finish this television show first. It was an easy lie, and they seemed to be happy that he wasn’t bringing the rat back up, so they allowed it.
He went to the closet in the hall and scooped up a blanket and extra pillow to take back to the couch when he noticed his bedroom door was shut. It had been open when he went to the bathroom after supper. Looking back he paused before going back to the living room.
From sitting on the couch, Timothy had a view of his bedroom door in his peripheral vision. He couldn’t help but be aware of the door since it was odd that it was shut…”

‘Bent Metal’ - Nina D’Arcangela
“I’m now in full blown panic mode racing down the stairs to the echoing sound of the police dispatcher screaming into the phone “stay in the house - don’t go near the corner!”
I hit the front hall and see that the door is wide open… oh, God please, oh please, oh  no… don’t let Alan be out there, please let the door be open for some other reason – maybe mom or dad went out to help, please let that be it.
I’m only three houses from the corner; three houses from the wreckage in the street; three houses from my own sanity shattering…. The second my bare foot leaves the safety of the house and hits the front porch I know something is horribly wrong. Somehow I know its Alan, and he’s in trouble.
The dread that overcomes me is suffocating. I can hardly breathe as I try to run towards the street… but my legs feel like I’m running in quick sand. I’m moving as hard and as fast as I can, but the corner may as well be a mile away in my distorted perception.
Oh God! My head is spinning as fast as my legs are churning, someone is screaming – I think it might be me! Finally I make it to the corner and see what an unholy mess of tangled metal the two vehicles that couldn’t avoid each other have become…”

‘Shades of Red’ - Colin F. Barnes
“Two thuds come from beyond the door. Probably just his mother falling, dropping the bottle.  Hollow rasps come from the corner of Mitchell’s dark bedroom: between the old, rickety wardrobe that creaks if you walk too close to it, and the dresser with the broken drawer front.
Mitchell conjures images of Scamp, their pet dog: a mongrel of various terriers and common working dogs. He pictures his little whiskery face, his excited panting. Anything to stop thinking about…the Shade. But it won’t go away. It’s stuck in his mind like a leech. Growing fat on the fear.
Is it darker in that corner than normal? Is that an outline of something…is it…moving?
Mitchell whirls away and pulls the duvet over his face. Sweat forms quickly on his forehead as he breathes hot air under the stifling cover. It’s not real, just your imagination. It’s not—
A quiet laughter. The voice muffled as if obstructed. Mitchell raises the duvet slightly. Just enough so he can peer out and check that corner again. He wishes he hadn’t. A pair of red orbs float in the gap. He screams for his mother. No answer…”

‘Socks’ - Brandon Scott
“A dull thump came from across the room.  Arthur's eyes shifted from the empty cup to the dresser standing against the far wall.  He swallowed the water in his mouth; it felt like a brick sliding down his dry throat.  He was feebly attempting to put the glass back on the nightstand when the thump came again.  The cup slipped from his fingers and tumbled to the carpet below.  A barely audible thunk filled his ears as the carpet cradled the falling glass.  He peered over the edge of the bed to confirm the glass hadn't broken but, didn't bother picking it up.
His eyes returned immediately to the drawer across the room.  When his grandfather had given him the dresser, it came with strict instructions that the drawer in the upper right hand corner was to be used for socks and socks alone, and was never to be empty.  A minimum of one sock was to be kept in the drawer at all times.  The other five drawers could house anything Arthur's heart desired, but that drawer was to hold only socks.  His grandfather made him promise that he would abide by the one and only regulation before unloading the dresser from his truck.  When the boy asked why this was his grandfather had replied with the simple phrase, "because that drawer is for Socks."  Arthur didn't know it at the time but, his grandfather was referring to the creature, not the item of clothing that shared the same name…”

‘Forgotten’ - Jack Wallen
The haunting started just a few days ago. It was the evening of June sixth ... Dylan's sixth birthday. His mother had made his dreams come true and allowed him to invite his best of friends over for a slumber party. To that day, sleepovers were forbidden. That was before the boy's father had left. Since the departure, everything seemed so much easier. The yelling ceased. The crying stopped. The bruises healed. The night of the slumber party, Dylan heard the first gentle whispers.
The other boys were fast asleep, after too much candy and too little control. They had enjoyed cartoons, video games, and shrieks of laughter only young boys could produce. But once the celebration was little more than a fading memory, some other joy came out to play.
The sound was little more than a soft wind breezing underneath his closet door. The melody of a light wind buzzing through Halloween trees or winter snowscapes. His ears were the only ones to take notice. No other sleep was threatened by the soft sound…”

‘Baby Teeth’  - Kim Krodel
She adds every tooth she gets to her disgusting smile.  But the screws keep growing out of her gums.  She never runs out of space for more teeth.”
“Why does she want them?”  Brian’s voice was small.  His eyes bugged, as if the skeletons stacked in God’s closet were tumbling out at his feet.
“For biting, Dummy.  She likes to eat little kids.”  Cal grinned as he spoke.  "If she bites you with her screws, your skin gets stuck to 'em, so she likes teeth better; so she doesn't have to floss so much."
“No, she doesn’t.  She’s nice—she gives presents!  Mom said!”
“That’s what Mom wants you to think.  Otherwise you’d freak out about it.”
Brian blinked, staring and processing; weighing his brother’s words against those he had gathered from adults.
“See this?”  Cal rolled up a pant leg to reveal a jagged run of lumpy, silver skin.  “She bit me hard the first tooth I lost ‘cause I didn’t know what was coming.  Now I’m big enough to fight her off.”  Calvin posed like a weight-lifter…”

Please visit the Sirens Call Publications web site for an extended preview available for download.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z


 This is the last post of the April A to Z blog challenge. It's been a ton of fun, and even more work, but very much worth it. I hope you've all enjoyed my posts on horror and science fiction films. If I've spurred just one person to watch something new, I'm satisfied.

Being that this entry is for Z, I had to go with a cult fave. Enjoy and please stop back in to see what I'm writing about next.


Zombie
An Italian horror classic released in 1979, Zombie was directed by Lucio Fulci, who is now known for this film in particular. There are other titles in connection with the movie such as Zombi 2, Island of the Living Dead, Zombie Island, Woodoo and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Known for its extreme gore, the movie is about a tropical island where the dead walk and eat the living.  The movie was banned in several countries because of the gore. Even with the resistance, it grew a huge fan following, and spawned one official sequel and several others. There is no link to the George A. Romero zombie films and Zombie. One of the many memorable scenes involves a zombie taking on a shark under water. Fulci cemented his status in the horror genre with this film.

I will leave you with the above mentioned scene...



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y




You Better Watch Out
A lesser-known slasher film, You Better Watch Out may also be known as Christmas Evil and Terror in Toyland. It was released in 1980 and directed by Lewis Jackson. Harry had a traumatizing childhood experience one Christmas. As an adult, Harry works in a toy factory and takes extreme care in his job and he has an obsession with Santa Claus and Christmas. Believing himself to be Santa, he watches the neighborhood children to see if they’re being good or bad. One night Harry loses his mind and truly becomes Santa. He builds toys and begins to drop them off for children, breaking into homes sometimes to do so, and shows a homicidal side that seeks revenge on coworkers and others who have done him wrong resulting in a killing spree. The movie has gained a cult following over the years, and director John Waters is an enthusiastic fan. Factoid: If you watch the credits to the end, you will hear the filmmakers yell “Merry Christmas”.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X





The X-Files
Originally the pilot episode of The X-Files episode aired September 10, 1993 on the Fox network. The show was a creation from screenwriter Chris Carter, who envisioned the two main characters, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as being the two voices inside himself that represented his skepticism and faith. Mulder and Scully are FBI special agents who have been put together to work as investigators of the X-Files, unsolved cases involved with paranormal phenomena. Mulder is a believer whereas Scully is a physician, and remains skeptic and true to her scientific background, always searching for a logical reason behind the phenomena. Over the course of the nine seasons, sexual tensions between Mulder and Scully build and they become romantically involved. The X-Files gained a huge fan following and cult status quickly, basing many of the episodes on what is termed the mythology of The X-Files. Some of these mythologies include the “Monster-of-the-Week” and government conspiracies. Carter’s influences for the show were Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Darkside to name a few. Some of the influences from the producers and writers were Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Silence of the Lambs. The last episode aired on May 19, 2002. There have been two films in conjunction with the series, and a spinoff series briefly aired titled, The Lone Gunmen. The opening sequence along with the theme song, many different slogans including "The Truth Is Out There" and the prolific characters have become an important part of pop culture over the years. The series won many awards over the years and generally has high respect from the industry for its influence on television.



X
A 1963 horror film, X was directed and produced by Roger Corman. Dr. Xavier, a scientist, is experimenting with enhancing the range of vision by formulating a special eye drop. He finally tests the eye drops on himself. The longer he uses them, the bigger the effect is. At first he can see through clothing and bodies to the skeletal structure, and later he sees only forms of light and texture. Dr. Xavier ends up on the run after an accident and not only is his vision changed, but also the outward appearance of his eyes, going eventually to an all black look. He struggles with his vision and what he sees as it continues to enhance. The movie was made on a small budget and filmed in only three weeks. The special effects used to show what Dr. Xavier can see have made the film memorable over the years.