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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Horror, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 215
26. Call for Submissions: Crooked/Shift

Crooked/Shift, a brand new journal, is “officially” launching March 7, 2014.

Submissions link.

Crooked/Shift is an online literary publisher dedicated to horror, humor, the absurd, and the strange. We are currently looking for flash fiction, short stories, prose poetry, and essays for inclusion in our first issue slated for July 1, 2014. We invite new and seasoned writers alike.

This is a great opportunity for first time publication!

Submissions are free, though we are not paying writers at this time. Hopefully that changes soon with your support.

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27. Graphic Novel Review: Attack on Titan Vol 3

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Well, Attack on Titan just isn’t doing it for me.  I have one more volume checked out of the library, and after reading that, I am more than likely done with this series.  The art is so painfully awkward and this installment was slow and dull.  I don’t know how that’s possible, considering that the remaining humans are making a last stand against the Titans, but I just did not get caught up in the plot.

After Eren regains his human form, he is accused of being a traitor to the human race in a tense standoff with a military commander who is cracking under the pressure of the latest Titan attack.  He is more than willing to kill Eren and then ask questions about how he changed into a Titan afterward .  Commander Pixis arrives just in time to save Eren, Mikasa, and Armin from being blown to itty bitty pieces.  Pixis sees how useful Eren can be, if he can change into a Titan at will.  They decide that Eren will plug the hole in the wall with a huge boulder, while splitting their forces and drawing the enemy Titans away from Eren so he has a clear shot to the wall. 

Things go wrong from the get go; the other soldiers don’t trust Eren, and when he transforms into a seemingly mindless beast, they want to abandon their posts.  Pixis recognizes the huge risk he has taken, but if they lose yet another wall, there won’t be enough resources to support them all, and sacrifices will have to be made.  He would rather die making a last stand than being sent out on a suicide mission later, and he convinces his men that they feel the same.

The only plot aspect that I found remotely interesting was Eren’s sudden memory of the key his dad gave to him before he disappeared, and the room in the basement of his old house.  That is the answer to everything, he was told, just before his father injected him with something to make him forget he was ever told that.  I am curious to know what’s in the basement, and the fate of his dad, but I don’t know how willing I am to keep reading the series to find out.

Grade:  C-

Review copy provided by my local library

From Amazon:

TRAITOR
The last thing Eren remembers before blacking out, a Titan had bitten off his arm and leg and was getting ready to eat him alive. Much to his surprise he wakes up without a scratch on him, with a crowd of angry soldiers screaming for his blood. What strange new power has he awakened, and what will happen when the boy devoted to destroying the Titans becomes one himself?
Includes special extras after the story!

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28. The Night Gardener - a review

A short review today.  I rushed to finish, as I knew the kids in my book club would surely want to get their hands on it last week.  I was right.

Auxier, Jonathan. 2014. The Night Gardener. New York: Amulet.

Set in England aground the 1840s, The Night Gardener features an Irish gal with the gift of  blarney, her10-year-old brother with a lame leg and stout heart, a mysterious storyteller, and a strange family inhabiting a creepy mansion on an island in the middle of the sourwoods.

Separated from their parents and forced to flee Ireland due to famine, Molly & Kip have no choice but to accept employment with the Windsor Family, the only inhabitants of the only home in the sourwoods,

At the far end of the lawn stood Windsor mansion.  The house had obviously been left vacant for some years, and in that time it seemed to have become one with the landscape. Weeds swallowed the base. Ivy choked the walls and windows. The roof was sagging and covered in black moss.
But strangest of all was the tree.
The tree was enormous and looked very, very old. Most trees cast an air of quiet dignity over their surrounding. This one did not. Most trees invite you to climb up into their canopy.  This one did not. Most trees make you want to carve your initials into the trunk. This one did not. To stand in the shadow of this tree would send a chill through your whole body. 
Even Molly's indomitable spirit and knack for storytelling cannot shield Kip and the young Windsor children from the horrors that lurk within the shadow of the giant tree.

Historical fiction and horror intertwine in this absolutely gripping story. With similarities to Claire LeGrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, The Night Gardener is the stuff of nightmares.

Coming to a bookshelf near you in May, 2014!


Notes:

My Advance Reader Copy was thrust upon me by none other than the wonderfully funny, Tom Angleberger (of Origami Yoda fame), who insisted that I read it.  Thanks, Tom!

Also by Jonathan Auxier, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which I reviewed in 2011.

The book's cover was drawn by Patrick Arrasmith and designed by the talented Chad Beckerman, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a while back.

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29. Call for Submissions: Devilfish Review

Devilfish Review is a quarterly online magazine focusing on, but not limited to, speculative fiction, horror, and fantasy. We are currently reading fiction and poetry submissions for our March issue, but our submission box never closes. 

Submissions can be made at Submittable. Submissions representing those who are marginalized in mainstream fiction are especially encouraged, as we do not get nearly enough of them and it makes us sad.

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30. Call for Submissions from Kids and Adults: Visionary Press

Visionary Press is looking for submissions for its Kids Write anthology. Submissions will be accepted by both adult authors and children and should be no more than 1,000 words and no less than 500. We are looking for stories that spark the imagination and would be entertaining for children in a wide variety of genres, from sci-fi to fantasy and even a little horror, but not too scary. Think age appropriate. We are particularly interested in stories written by children and stories co-written by parent and child.

We also will be accepting artwork for the anthology, along with your stories.

Reading period will run from February 1st through July 1st. We are looking towards a September release.

Stories that are accepted will receive payment of $5.00, along with a contributors hard copy and a digital edition of the book.

Mail submissions to:

visionarypressATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)

with the heading, Kids Create Anthology.

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31. The Lodger

Marie Belloc Lowndes’ The Lodger has been on my TBR list for a long time, but I tend to avoid horror fiction, and all I really knew about The Lodger was a basic synopsis, that it was based on the story of Jack the Ripper, and that it had been made into a Hitchcock movie.

I don’t feel like I know a lot more about it now.

The central character is Ellen Bunting, a former maid married to a former butler. The Buntings live in a poor but quiet neighborhood in East London, and rent out rooms. Only no one’s wanted to rent their rooms for a while, so they’re on he verge of starvation when the story opens. Then a gentleman arrives, eccentric but respectable-looking, with no luggage and a pile of money, and rents — well, basically all the rooms, so that he will remain the Buntings’ only lodger. He seems weird, but he’s also quiet and well-spoken, and they do desperately need money.

Meanwhile, someone calling himself “The Avenger” has been murdering drunk women (for “drunk women” I read “prostitutes”) all over the East End. As Ellen notes her lodger’s nocturnal trips out of the house, his fixation on all the most misogynist bits of the Bible, and the disappearance of the leather bag he brought to the house with him, she begins to suspect that he’s the Avenger. But she doesn’t know for sure, and she’s also just gone from being too poor to buy food to relative financial security. So while on one hand you want her to go to the police with her suspicions, on the other hand it’s hard to fault her to not being sure, and not wanting to be sure.

And that’s it, really. That’s the book. I mean, there’s also Mr. Bunting, and the suspicions he eventually forms. And there’s the unromantic background romance of their policeman friend Joe Chandler and Daisy, Mr. Bunting’s daughter from his first marriage. And there’s the complete letdown of the ending. But mostly The Lodger is Ellen having lots of suspicions she can’t quite voice and stuff happening to cause her to have more of them.

It’s perfectly serviceable psychological suspense, I guess. I mean, I felt uneasy and slightly apprehensive for most of the time that I was reading, which I think is how you’re supposed to feel when you read about someone possibly being a serial killer. It’s only now that I’ve finished it that I’m feeling kind of meh about it, and I’m inclined to blame the ending. When you’re waiting on some kind of impending awfulness, and then nothing in particular happens, the looming fear seems silly in retrospect. So, it’s hard to tell now, but I think the rest of the book was pretty solid, and I almost recommend it.


Tagged: 1910s, horror, london, marie belloc lowndes

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32. Call for Submissions: Pedestal 73 and Pedestal 74

Pedestal 73 will be posting on December 21, 2013, in conjunction with the journal's 13-year anniversary. Deadline for current submissions is November 30. No restrictions on length, theme, style, or genre. All submissions should be sent via the link provided on the site. Please see our guidelines for further information and to send work.

Re Pedestal 74, which will post in June 2014:

John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris will be receiving hybrid and/or multi-genre work. No restrictions on length, style, genre, or thematic directions; however, each piece must include elements of 1) poetry and 2) prose as well as 3) at least one original or copyright-free image (photograph, art work, etc.). Submission period: April 1-May 31. Please do not submit prior to April 1.

Bruce Boston and Marge Simon will be receiving speculative poetry. Speculative includes science fiction, fantasy, supernatural horror, science, surrealism, and experimental. No restrictions on length. Submission period: April 1-May 31. Please do not submit prior to April 1.

See the guidelines section of the site for more detailed information.

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33. Coming Soon from Clean Teen Publishing: River of Bones by Angela Townsend

bones

When seventeen-year-old Dharma Moore moves to Bayou country so her scam artist mother can work as a Paranormal Investigator, she discovers that more than ghosts haunt the abandoned plantation they now call home.

Centuries ago, a voodoo curse was placed on the swamp waters surrounding the old plantation by a murdered slave. This terrible curse ensnares Dharma with its deadly effects. To save herself, she must face the terror of the haunted waters, find the dead woman’s skull, and convince the slave’s soul to release her from its torments. When Dharma discovers an ancient secret that links her to the property—a secret kept from her by her own family—she realizes that the curse is more personal to her than she ever imagined.

To survive, Dharma must accept the help of the locals, and put her trust in the handsome gardener, Wolf Bodine—who is the only one crazy enough to come near the plantation. With his help, Dharma must learn to embrace the truth and accept that magic is not only real… but that it can be very, very deadly!

EXCERPT:

My cheeks blazed, I opened my mouth to speak, fighting for words that wouldn’t make me sound like a fool, when something shuffled upstairs again.

Wolf stared at the ceiling, his brow creased. “What’s that?”

“I don’t know. I heard it just before you came in. I was going to ask you to come with me to check it out.”

He walked from the kitchen to the foot of the stairs and peered into the dark stairwell. I put Benny into the playpen with his sippy cup and toys before following Wolf up the stairs. Just as we reached the landing, the hollow footsteps sounded again. Wolf glanced over his shoulder and whispered, “It might be the pipes rattling. Old houses can make all kinds of random noises.  Stay close and let’s do some exploring.”

We checked out each room, finding nothing but dust and building materials from half-finished renovations. Then we came to the second staircase, which led to the third floor. Steep and narrow, it swept much higher than the one leading to the second floor. I held tight to the handrail, following Wolf to the third floor landing. Five doors, all closed, lined the narrow hallway, two on either side and one at the end.

“Let’s hurry. I have to get back to Benny,” I said, taking a giant step and tripping over my own feet. I landed hard, spraining my wrist.

“Are you all right?” Wolf said, scooping me up. I started to dissolve in his strong arms. He stared into my eyes for several seconds, then grabbed my hand and placed it against his lips. His mouth parted under my hand and his breath danced across my fingertips. I could hardly breathe. Heat seared into my face.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” I said softly.  I pulled back my hand–my body tingling in places I didn’t know I had.

The footsteps sounded again. Wolf helped me to my feet, his eyes wide and alert. “It’s coming from down the hall. Stay behind me.”

We tiptoed to the end of the hallway to the last door. Wolf gripped the glass doorknob. “Who’s in there?” He called. A faint flutter or shuffle could be heard on the other side of the door. Wolf turned the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. “It’s locked.”

Whispering voices traveled under the threshold. Footsteps sounded again.

“Open up, we’re coming in!” Wolf said. He glanced at me, his eyes hard. “I’m gonna break it down. Stand back.”

I took a step away and Wolf shoved hard on the door. It flew open and every ounce of me begged for it to be closed again.

Coming 10/30 from Clean Teen Publishing!

JOIN THE RIVER OF BONES SP00K-TACULAR REBATE PARTY. FIND DETAILS AT https://www.facebook.com/events/172301326298935/angela

Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, Angela grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places. Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, Angela became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulations, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, Angela divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.

Angela’s first novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Her newest novel, Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, was signed for publication with Clean Teen Publishing in 2013.

Angela resides on a ranch, in rural Northwestern Montana, with her two children Levi and Grant.

Follow Angela on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaJTownsend

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaTownsendAuthor

Follow her blog at http://angelatownsendbooks.blogspot.com/


1 Comments on Coming Soon from Clean Teen Publishing: River of Bones by Angela Townsend, last added: 10/24/2013
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34. Where’d she go?

courtroom_xs_25248150

She got summoned for jury duty and never came back . . . well, it felt like that for a while at least. I got called in for jury selection on the morning of September 18 and wasn’t released until the afternoon of October 3rd. Would you believe I was juror 46 out of 51 and I still ended up sitting as an alternate for the trial? I think by the time they got to me, they were desperate.

And what a trial. 1st degree murder. I won’t go into the details because honestly, the people involved don’t need any more publicity. AND the sooner this event fades from my own memory the better. Let’s just say I know more about deciphering blood splatter evidence than your average citizen. For all you fans of trigonometry, this is your field!

So, I’m back going through the motions of my normal routine, thirteen dollars a day richer, with the thanks of the county, worn out and weepy, trying to catch up on the mountains of grading that piled up unattended while I was attending to my civic duty.

You see, substitute teachers teach, they don’t grade, so tests, reports and assignments waited patiently for me to get back and NOW THEY ALL NEED TO GET DONE. Yikes! 112 hours got sucked out of my life; it’s already two weeks later, and still I haven’t figured out how to squeeze them back in.

Photo © Aleksandar Radovanovic

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35. John Dies at the End by David Wong

If you're a fan of the movie, this book has everything you loved about it: the gut-wrenchingly funny juxtaposition of lowbrow humor and surrealism, the gore, the impending sense of doom that soaks the narrative until you're coated in a sticky quagmire of horror and humor. All of that is here only amped up by [...]

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36. Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

Atmospheric, dreary, hallucinatory. This is a story told with an English sensibility of calmness set against a backdrop of impending horror. You can see it coming, but logic tells you it can't be real. No blood, no gore, just terrifying imagery and psychological shivers. However, the 2012 movie starring Daniel Radcliffe... not remotely scary or [...]

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37. Misery by Stephen King

Of course, Misery the movie is fabulous; Kathy Bates can do no wrong. But in the book, every brutal aspect of Annie Wilkes's psychopathy and horror are just a little more, to quote the book, "oogy." You'll be surprised by what this gosh-darn sweet lady can do to all the "dirty birds" she meets. Two [...]

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38. It by Stephen King

Far more intense than the movie, Stephen King's It is structured to create great suspense. The book emphasizes the hopelessness of the situation — in which unarmed children are up against an unknown, demonic force — along with the relationships developed by the children. Books mentioned in this post It Stephen King Used Mass Market [...]

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39. 2013 Cybils Awards: Suggested Nominations

There are only about five more days to nominate for the Cybils Awards, and while there are some great books nominated, I'm surprised at some of the books released in the last year that haven't been nominated yet. If you haven't nominated yet, here are some suggestions for books that you might want to nominated in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category. I don't have the patience to compile a comprehensive list like Charlotte's Library's amazing lists for Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction, (here and here) so these are just some books that I'd like to see nominated. Some of them I've read, but most I haven't read yet, but would like to. Don't forget that the deadline to nominate is October 15 at 11:59pm (Pacific). More information on how to nominate is on the Cybils blog, and please do read the eligibility rules and category descriptions!

Suggested Nominations

Sylo
MacHale, D J 
Rebel Heart ( Dust Lands Trilogy #2 ) 
Young, Moira

Raven Flight ( Shadowfell #2 )
Marillier, Juliet
Obsidian Mirror ( Obsidian Mirror - Trilogy )
Fisher, Catherine
Fire & Ash ( Rot & Ruin #4 )
Maberry, Jonathan
The Shade of the Moon ( Life as We Knew It )
Pfeffer, Susan Beth
Icons
Stohl, Margaret
Shadow on the Sun 
Gill, David Macinnis
The Madman's Daughter
Shepherd, Megan
The Final Descent ( Monstrumologist #4 )
Yancey, Rick
The Watcher in the Shadows 
Ruiz Zafon, Carlos

For more YA Speculative Fiction suggestions, see Finding Wonderland and Miss Print

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40. Flashy Fiction Bundle Now Available! Save 25%

Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales volumes 1 and 2 are now available in a bundle! Not only do you get both books together, you save 25% too!

 

Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales (Bundle Vol 1 & 2) 

by Jen Wylie and Sean Hayden

Anthology Bundle

Published March 17 2013

Price: 2.99 (save 25%)

Available at [Amazon]

IT’S THE BEST OF BOTH BOOKS!
Okay, technically it’s just BOTH BOOKS in ONE seriously funny and scary easy to read, purchase only once, compendium of the deranged! And you save almost a WHOLE DOLLAR! Do we rock or do we rock?

An anthology of the strange, bizarre, and just plain weird.

Zombies, vampires, ghosts, and …crickets? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to twisted, there is something for everyone.

Unicorns, zombies, devils, dark whispers, teddy bears, and …fireflies? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash fiction stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories (both flash and longer short stories) from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to horror, sweet to twisted, there is something for everyone.
~*~

Note: Some stories contain adult language.


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41. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi

danceparty tsurumi inorder lowres 7 425x550 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi

Andrea Tsurumi is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist working on a number of platforms. She’s a Harvard graduate currently pursuing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts, but in the meantime her work has been published by Penguin Books and The New York Times. Her long work DANCE PARTY (featured above) appears on her  website, and shorter comics work YAKITORI can also be found there. She also contributes, with Keren Katz, to the site UNCANNY EATING, documenting the metamorphic and bizarre qualities of food across cultures. Recently, she’s also started blogging about comics events for THE RUMPUS. Tsurumi’s style is innovative and expansive, taking in the bizarre and grotesque while infusing them with a sense of humor. Her panel designs often break the frame and expand into full page spreads populated with active figures and mysterious vistas. She draws influence from film, pop culture, and the world of illustration and has a lot in common with a multicultural weird tales tradition in her art.

 

 

1 Comments on 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi, last added: 4/9/2013
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42. Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: An Interview with Philip Athans

the-guide-to-writing-fantasy-and-science-fiction

With the release of our updated edition of Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, I figured it was the perfect time to catch up with one of our newest contributors to this classic tome from Writer’s Digest Books—the right honorable Philip Athans.

Phil was one of the first people we reached out to when we contemplated updating the book, and as the editor who worked with him, I must say I was highly impressed with his knowledge and passion for fantasy and science fiction, and also highly entertained by his advice and observations! Here are a few more questions I threw Phil’s way, and if you like what he has to say, you’ll find his contact information below, and you can read all about the newest, most exciting developments in the fantasy and science fiction genres in his chapter in Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

—available now!

Writer’s Digest: What are some of the things that an apprentice writer within the genres of science fiction and fantasy typically “gets wrong,” or at least gets under your skin? Or, to put a positive spin on the question, what should a padawan scribe focus on if he or she wants to “get it right” when it comes to speculative fiction?  

Philip Athans: Your own rules you must follow, young Skywalker!

In terms of the SF and fantasy genres in particular, consistently applied internal logic is absolutely essential. Genre readers want to believe, and your readers are happy to suspend their disbelief while your characters travel through hyperspace or battle the twenty-headed liger, but where they’ll start to turn on you and begin to complain that your SF and fantasy is “unrealistic” is when your characters spend three days in hyperspace to travel eight light-years in chapter one then get home again in fifteen minutes in chapter nine. You’ve established that the trip takes three days, how can they suddenly go faster and why didn’t they do that before? Now our entirely created FTL drive is “totally unrealistic.”

And beyond the SF, fantasy, or horror genres, I continue to advise authors of ANY genre to spend real effort learning the CRAFT of writing. I’ve seen some manuscripts come across my desk that have interesting characters, unique settings, and creative original ideas, but the author obviously has no idea how to punctuate a sentence, the manuscript is riddled with run-on sentences and/or sentence fragments, and spelling and style rules are out the window. And honestly, there are very few (read: NO) editors and agents willing to wade through a sea of errors to discover the heart of your story. Read newer published books with an eye toward where the commas go, where the quotation marks come in and out, or better yet, find a good English class either at your current school or at your local college’s continuing education program. A lot of the rules of English grammar and usage are “made to be broken” but there’s a big difference between intentionally bending or even breaking a rule, and just not knowing the rule in the first place.

 

WD: If given the power to greenlight a summer blockbuster, what unrepresented or “unknown” (to the mainstream, at least) science fiction or fantasy book or series would you love to see on the big screen?

PA: In honor of the great Frederik Pohl, who just recently passed away, I’d love to see a $200 million dollar version of his classic novel Gateway, but that’s hardly “unknown.” In general I think that in the same way that special effects have finally caught up to the vision of the comic book writers and artists, there’s now a huge backlist of classic SF and fantasy novels just begging to be filmed. I could probably rattle off a hundred off the top of my head. But as for the more obscure or older titles, I’d love to see a TV series that mines the classic Ace SF Doubles for Twilight Zone-style episodes. Tonight’s episode… “Gunner Cade”!

Get goin’ Hollywood!

 

WD: Which speculative theme do you feel is the most played out at this point: zombies, vampires, or superheroes? Or do you think these still have a leg to stand on?

PA: To some degree, every trope is equally played out or fresh. I’ve been saying for almost twenty years that we need a ten-year moratorium on vampires, but then there’s 30 Days of Night and Let Me In, and I think, okay, THOSE were fantastic, but the rest are … whatever. Zombies had lost it for me, too, until The Walking Dead hit AMC. I’m starting to see an awful glut of minimally-creative post-apocalypse stories now, but again, it’s not the fault of the genre or the sub-genre but the author. If all you’re doing is assembling Teen Vampires vs. Zombie Apocalypse in a ‘one from column A, one from column B’ sort of way, then you’re going to end up with a lifeless blob of text. But if you have something original to say and use those archetypes in a fresh, creative way, nothing is ever entirely out of style or off limits.

 

WD: Who is the greatest science fiction or fantasy villain who has yet to become a household name in mainstream pop culture? Do you think this dog will have its day?

PA: The bigger mainstream audience has yet to be really effectively introduced to the drow of the Forgotten Realms world. With Hasbro now a force in the movie business post-Transformers, there’s more reason to hope for a Drizzt movie now more than ever, and I think that’ll be what it takes to make the drow, and in particular characters like Matron Baenre and Malice Do’Urden, into pop culture icons beyond the Salvatore/Forgotten Realms/D&D fan communities. These are smart, sexy, powerful, and Evil (with a capital E) women that, if portrayed correctly, will knock people’s socks off.

 

WD: What is the first book you read that made you think, “I have got to write something like this someday!”

PA: I had this great illustrated SF anthology when I was a kid and in it was a short story by Harlan Ellison called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” that literally made my head spin. That single short story took me from a kid who loved space opera entertainment and wrote and drew his own comic books to someone absolutely obsessed with the full spectrum of the genre. Harlan Ellison didn’t just raise the bar for writers of speculative fiction, he stole the bar, used it to beat people up, then jammed it into the genre sideways to permanently prop it open.

 

WD: Are there any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!) have you excited? What are you reading right now?

PA: I’m always reading multiple books, jumping back and forth from five or six, and one of them tends to be some classic, golden age SF novel like Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars, which I’m reading, and loving all over again right now. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Paolo Bacigalupi might save science fiction. If you haven’t read The Windup Girl, consider this an assignment. On the fantasy side, I’m eagerly awaiting the third book in J.M. McDermott’s Dogsland Trilogy and I will read anything by Catherynne M. Valente.

 

WD: Any new projects of your own around the corner?

PA: I’m hard at work on The Guide to Writing Monster & Aliens, a follow-up to The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction that’ll concentrate on monsters (of course). I love monsters of all genres and media, and I’m having a ball putting this together. My other current work-in-progress is a dark high fantasy that I have high hopes for. It’ll be full of demons, and I plan to take all my own advice on creating great monsters, and get as much additional advice as I can from some friends and associates, too. Writing the novel and the monster guide at the same time should make both of them better!

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and more than a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the recently-released How to Start Your Own Religion and Devils of the Endless Deep. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (http://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/

) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.

 

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43. Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Outside

Author: Laura Bickle

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?      In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?


Review:

Last year, I read The Hallowed Ones, and it totally creeped me out.  It was scary and suspenseful, and protagonist Katie was brave, level-headed, and firmly grounded by her Amish beliefs.  I eagerly awaited The Outside, the next book in the series, which picks up right where The Hallowed Ones left off.  The end of the world has come, in the form of a terrible sickness that turns its victims into blood sucking monsters.  Katie, her English boyfriend Alex, and Ginger are trying to stay alive after being expelled from Katie’s Amish community.  They have no shelter, dwindling provisions, and the vampires are dogging their every step.  Only sacred ground is keeping them safe at night, as they trek north to find Alex’s family.  Winter is coming (sorry GoTs fans!), and the odds of their continued survival are bleak.

While I didn’t think The Outside was as suspenseful as the previous book,  I still had a hard time putting it down.  This outing is all about the running.  Running from vampires, running from the weather, running from the knowledge that the world has ended and there few survivors of whatever horrible virus has turned humanity into monsters.  Along the way, they meet some of the desperate survivors, and Katie and Alex are at odds about what to do with the weapon they receive to alter themselves to survive the fight with the Darkness.  Alex jumps at the chance to save himself and have a better way to protect Katie, but Katie struggles with her decision about what to do.  She has already gone against her belief system so many times, and she’s afraid that this measure of self-defense will steal away whatever humanity that she has left.  I thought that this method of battling the vampires was genius, in a Ha! Take THIS evil vampires!! kind of way. 

What I enjoyed best about The Outside was Katie’s struggle to accept the bad things that had happened to her.  She made some choices in both books that had very serious repercussions for both herself and for Alex and Ginger, and while she regretted some of the outcomes, she never regretted the initial decision to save Alex.  That one choice was the catalyst for everything else that happened; being shunned, being forced from the protection of her community, seeing the terrible things she saw while she was Outside.  She is angry with the Elders for not believing the Hexenmeister, and for how their treated Ginger.  She’s hurt that her parents did nothing when she was kicked out of the community, yet she can’t stop worrying about them.  Even though her friends and everyone she knows have turned their backs on her, she is still willing to give up her life to save as many of them as she can.  She’s a very admirable character.

One quibble with the book, and it’s the same quibble I have with most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, is how quickly they start to feel repetitive.  The steps are always similar to this – travel as far during the day as possible, forage for food and water, seek a safe place to sleep, encounter monsters and life-threatening events along the way.  Stop to rest after finding a safe haven, then gear up and get back on the road, facing even more danger than before.  The pattern and the pacing occasionally frustrate me.  Katie was an interesting enough character that I remained engaged in this story.  With her Plain upbringing, she’s even better prepared for the end of the world than most heroines.  Katie hasn’t been exposed to modern conveniences, so she’s used to a more rugged life-style.  She knows the land, and knows how to forage.  She hasn’t had a cushy life, but instead had chores and obligations to her family and her community.  I thought this gave her a huge advantage that made her survival more believable.

I enjoyed Laura Bickle’s foray into YA, and look forward to her next project.  I like her voice and I really like her characters.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

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44. Review: Bleach Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

 

Title: Bleach Vol 1

Author:  Tite Kubo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach, has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.


Review:

Bleach is one of my favorite series, and I realized with a great deal of dismay that I am far, far behind in my reading of this title.  I don’t think I’ve reviewed many of the volumes, so I opted to take advantage of a comp copy through Vizmanga.com to reacquaint myself with Ichigo, Rukia, and the rest of the gang.  This is a very fun series that features a ton of action, surprisingly touching emotions, and fan favorite protagonists in both Ichigo and Ruikia.  If you enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth or The Curse Workers by Holly Black, I think you should give Bleach a try.  Admittedly, the length of the series is daunting, and it’s still being published, but there are enough volumes released in English that you can read it in manageable chunks by utilizing online sales and trips to the library. 

Ichigo Kurosaki is 15 years old and he can see ghosts.  His sisters can too, though all they can see are faint outlines.  Ichigo can see, touch, talk to, and channel these pesky spirits that he thinks are a pain in the butt.  He just wants to be left alone to mind his own business but NOPE!  That’s not happening.  Ichigo also has a high moral obligation to help anyone in trouble, even those troublesome ghosts.  When an evil spirit threatens to hurt his family, he’s forced to borrow Soul Reaper powers from Rukia, a Soul Reaper who was badly injured saving his bacon.  Too hurt to fight, she offers to lend Ichigo half of her dark powers so he can save his family.  She’s dismayed to discover that he’s so spiritually powerful that he steals all of them, and now she can’t get them back!

I love the relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.  Their back and forth banter is humorous and full of snark.  While Ichigo isn’t exactly disrespectful, he doesn’t understand the need to put himself in danger, fighting the Hollows, regardless of the obligation he acquired when he snatched away all of Rukia’s power.  When the chips are down, though, her forceful prodding  makes him realize how important a Soul Reaper’s duties are.  If he doesn’t take care of the restless spirits, they will eventually turn into Hollows, and once they become these evil monsters, they lose their last shred of humanity.  There is no going back, and the Hollows have an insatiable need to feed on souls.   Rukia put her life at risk to save Ichigo and his family, so he acknowledges that he has a duty to help Rukia until she can figure out a way to get her powers back.

Ichigo is one of my favorite characters because he can’t stand to see an injustice and not want to correct it.  He and One Piece’s Luffy have a lot in common. Both of them will give their heart and soul, not to mention their life, to defend those needing help.  They are white knights in attitude.  Ichigo can’t turn his back on bullying, or just stand by when someone is about to get hurt.  He’s not perfect, and there are many times when he should learn to keep his mouth shut, but he can’t do it.  He is fiercely devoted to his friends and family, and he won’t let anyone hurt them.  Now that he’s a Soul Reaper by default, he can’t ignore when a soul is in danger, either.

The first volume of Bleach is fast-paced, brimming with frantic action, yet it doesn’t let the characters and their interactions take a back seat to all of the fighting.  That is what I enjoy most about Bleach.  The character come to life for me, and I so badly want Ichigo to master his new powers so he doesn’t come to harm.  It’s hard watching such a likeable guy getting the crap beat out of him, even though I have few doubts that he’ll always persevere.  That assurance is the main appeal of manga for me.  I know that even as the protagonists are facing certain doom, they will eventually find a solution to all of their problems.  Reading along as they figure that out is what makes reading them so rewarding.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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45. Ever After Release Blitz and Giveaways!

To celebrate the beginning of the scariest month of the year, I wanted to share news about Entangled’s Ever After releases for October. They are all keeping with the creepy Halloween theme, and you can enter a bunch of giveaways! I’m planning on reading all of these – let’s see how many I get through!


Find Your Ever After in Under An Hour
 
Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.


One Thousand and One Nights by Ruth Browne

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.

When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.


Mercy by Jan Coffey

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away. Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago. And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.


Haunted Chemisty by Lindsey Loucks

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.


Wish Upon a Star by Michelle McLean

Ceri McKinley never stopped wishing that her ex-fiancé Jason Crickett would come back into her life. But when he finally does, he comes with a request that puts them both—and all of humanity—into jeopardy.

Jason only wants two things: to bury his brother properly and to convince Ceri to trust him again after he jilted her. But when Ceri agrees to help him get his brother back, they end up fighting for their lives as a zombie uprising threatens them all.




Northern Light by E.J. Russell

Nothing gives art fraud investigator Luke Morganstern a bigger rush than busting forgers, the low-life criminals who dare victimize true artists. But when his latest job sends him to a remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, he’s stunned to discover the alleged forger is his former lover, Stefan Cobbe, the most gifted painter Luke has ever known.

Stefan, left homeless and destitute after the death of his wealthy partner, doesn’t exactly deny the forgery — he claims he doesn’t remember, an excuse Luke can’t accept.

But Luke’s elderly client suggests Stefan may be telling the truth and presents another possibility – a dark presence in the woods, a supernatural fury simmering for decades. Luke must face down his fear of the uncanny – and admit his feelings for Stefan – if either of them is to survive.




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46. Spotlight and Giveaway! Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

Guest Blog: Thrills & Chills While Doing Laundry (Wait. What?)

By Lindsey R. Loucks

Instead of taking one of the buses speeding through campus during my college career, I always walked, my gaze aimed at the ground for anything shiny and round. If I found treasure in the form of a quarter, it was well worth the few bumps on the head or rude comments I got from not looking where I was going. Like most college students, I was poor.

But I became a pretty successful quarter tracker, and when I’d find one, I’d add it to my carefully stacked pile with the hope I’d have enough to do laundry soon. With all that walking around campus, there were days when I came home smelling a tad ripe.

The washers and dryers were located on the basement floor of my apartment building, and let’s just say that going down there, alone, was the equivalent of walking into a dragon dungeon with my arms loaded with raw meat. That’s what it felt like anyway.

Storage cupboards took up the far wall that led from the stairs to the laundry area, each one about three feet long and three feet wide. Sometimes one of them would be open a crack. The single overhead light only cast a faint orange glow, deepening the shadows inside that open cupboard to an inky black.

Whenever I’d see one of those open cupboards, I’d stop in my tracks while my imagination tumbled over everything that could be lurking inside. Usually the things I imagined involved segmented legs, machetes, Brazilian poison dart frogs, porcelain dolls, or a combination of all of the above, just waiting to spring out.

My pulse racing, I’d give my laundry bag a squeeze and check to make sure I still had my quarters. Then, with my breath held, I’d race past the open cupboard, dump all my clothes into the washer, throw in some soap, push my quarters into the slots, start the machine, and sprint back out before I’d used up all the stored air in my lungs.

It was such a rush! It made laundry day pretty much the best day ever! Of course, I’ve always lived for that pump of adrenaline that fear gives me. I watch scary movies alone in the dark by myself on purpose. I guess I’m weird like that.

On one of my trips to the laundry room, my boyfriend’s brother went with me (I can’t remember why exactly, but I may have told him about the spooky basement). When he saw the wall of cupboards, his exact words were, “A serial killer stores his victims in these, huh?”

And that’s when I stopped doing laundry in that apartment building. Nah, just kidding. I still did. Remember that adrenaline rush thing I was talking about? Yep.

All of this was the fuel I needed to eventually write Haunted Chemistry. Who knew laundry could be so delightfully scary?

How about you? What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you while doing laundry? Have you ever done laundry in a particularly frightening place?

Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

ISBN: 9781622662982

Book Description:

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.

Amazon BN Goodreads

Excerpt:

“Uh, Alexis?”

My name on his tongue sounds amazing, but I try not to notice. I turn, the bulk of my laundry bag holding the door open for me. “What?”

He swallows and glances at his black boots. “It’s great to see you again.”

I nod. It’s great to see him, too, but I’m not the one who didn’t show up for our date at the end of last semester and who vanished for an entire summer with no explanation. Maybe he forgot about our non-date, because he sure isn’t trying to explain himself. But why didn’t he call to tell me he wouldn’t be coming instead of making me wait for him?

My bag bites its weight into my shoulder. When I shift it to the other one, the door creaks closed in Ian’s face. I wince. I didn’t mean for that to happen.

“Well.” He frowns through the broken squares in the window. “See you.”

“Yeah.” With a sigh, I watch him walk away. I’ve missed our group study sessions where we’d always sit next to each other and accidentally nudge each other’s knee or foot. I’ve missed how easy it is to be with him. I’ve missed him. He doesn’t seem like the type who wouldn’t call to say he couldn’t make it. But he didn’t.

About the Author:

Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she’s not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she’s dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she’ll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.

She’s been with her significant other for almost two decades.

Website: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com

Blog: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com/my-blog

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LindseyRLoucks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindseyRLoucks

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6151511.Lindsey_R_Loucks

Giveaway:

$50 gift card. Winner’s choice of Amazon or B&N

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47. Review: Bleach Vol 2 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol. 2

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Y?ichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved. By far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date, Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood

Review:

I loved this volume of Bleach!  Picking up right where the first volume left off, Chad  is in oodles of trouble because of a possessed parakeet.  Housing the soul of the a young boy, Chad has promised to keep him safe, unaware that a Hallow is hot on their heels.  It’s a good thing that Chad is a strong, sturdy fellow, because the evil spirit does its level best to thoroughly annihilate him.  Rukia tries to race to the rescue, but without her Soul Reaper powers, she’s even more helpless than Chad and the parakeet!  Ichigo is temporarily out of the picture.  His sister Karin is very ill, and he’s been tasked with seeing her home safely.  Will he get to Rukia and Chad in time to save the day?

I thought this story arc was very entertaining.  It revealed that Chad has some spiritual energy, and even though he can’t see the Hallow, he can pummel the heck out of it, holding it off until Ichigo’s arrival.  While creating a tense and exciting action sequence, Tite Kubo manages to sneak in some humor to the heightened emotions and make the action even more memorable.  I think that’s what I like best about the series; while things are fraught with stress and impending doom, the mood is altered ever so slightly with quick bursts of humor.  The opposite happens when the mood is light and Rukia and Ichigo are joking around.  The reality of their responsibilities intrudes, if just for a moment, causing a complete shift in tone.  The emotional roller coaster makes this a very engaging read for me.

During the battle over the little boy’s soul, we also learn what happens to people who were evil when they were alive.  Ichigo’s  zanpakut? can’t cleanse their souls of the evil they carry, and they are dragged down to Hell.  Wah!  That’s pretty scary!  Some of the Hallows weren’t decent people when they were among the living, so it’s somewhat gratifying to see them get their just rewards in the afterlife.

This volume also introduces one of my favorite characters, Kisuke Urahara.  He doesn’t seem like much here, other than a shifty merchant peddling in questionable Soul Society goods, and one all too ready to take advantage of Rukia unfortunate circumstances.  There’s also the hint that things in the Soul Society are not all rainbows and unicorns.  Experiments with dubious moral implications are just the start.  I like how these tidbits are scattered like so much bird seed throughout the chapters.  Both Rukia and Ichigo have a lot to learn about what’s really going on in the Soul Society.

This series is highly recommended if you enjoy action, gripping storylines, and likeable characters.   Yes, yes, the fact that it’s at 60 volumes and counting is a little daunting, but on the plus side – you won’t run out of new story for a long time!

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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48. Ask a Book Buyer: Scary Stories, Calligraphy Books, and More

At Powell's, our book buyers select all the new books in our vast inventory. If we need a book recommendation, we turn to our team of resident experts. Need a gift idea for a fan of vampire novels? Looking for a guide that will best demonstrate how to knit argyle socks? Need a book for [...]

0 Comments on Ask a Book Buyer: Scary Stories, Calligraphy Books, and More as of 10/4/2013 2:00:00 PM
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49. Spotlight and Giveaway! Wish Upon a Star by Michelle McLean

Interview with Michelle McLean

Do you write in different genres?

I do! I love writing in different genres. It lets me explore different aspects of creativity and work out different parts of my brain. I write historical, paranormal/urban fantasy, and contemporary romances, and educational non-fiction. Along with a bit of poetry and a picture book or two :)

If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

I really don’t have a favorite, unless you count romance :) But sub-genre-wise, I love them all. Historicals allow me to delve into the past which I absolutely love (my bachelors degree is in History). Paranormals and urban fantasies allow me to play around with the supernatural and other-worldly things which I also absolutely love. Contemporaries allow me to switch up my every day world a little. And my non-fiction allows me to tap into my analytical side and help people with educational matters, which I also really love. I’ve penned poetry since I was little, and have written several picture books for my kids that I still read to them. I can’t imagine not writing any of these.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

Wish Upon a Star was originally a fairy tale retelling that was a mashup of Pinocchio and Rumplestiltskin. Most of the fairy tale elements were taken out in edits, but my main character was based on the blue fairy and spends a lot of time wishing on stars :)

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

I almost always title the book afterwards. I like to use a line or some words or a theme that is special to or prevalent in the book to use as a title and often that doesn’t come across until it is finished. The one exception is a novella I’m working on. I heard a line in a song that I just loved and built a book idea around it :)

What books/authors have influenced your life?

Victoria Holt has been my biggest influence. She was my first authorial love :) Once I graduated to novels (at a fairly young age) I read everything I could get my hands on. I was always raiding my mom’s shelves and she had a ton of Victoria Holt’s gothic romances. I fell in love with the genre immediately. And when I decided to write my own first novel that type of story was in my head. A historical romance full of romance, danger, and mystery :) I write other genres as well, but historical romances, especially gothic, will always be my first loves.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

One of the books I’m working on has several shape poems in it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep them in there as it won’t show up correctly on all digital devices, but they are really fun to create. In the book, I have poems shaped like an hour glass, an ankh, a lightning bolt, a broken heart, a pyramid, an eye, a music note, and several others. Here is one, shaped to look like a drop of blood.

He holds

my face so tenderly,

in hands that had killed.

For me. Fingers gently touch

my cheeks. His lips kiss away my

tears, my blood. “Breathe,” he whispers.

His lips brush mine. “Just breathe.” I shudder,

my breath escaping at his command. “If you insist,”

I try to joke. Fail. Shouts fill the night air. “Go!” I cry.

They mustn’t find you with me. Go!” He freezes, his storm

gray eyes on our hands, clasped between our pounding hearts.

The horror on his face mirrors that on my own. One last caress, so

bittersweet. He wavers. “Go,” I breathe. He steps back, back, raised

hand stained black with blood. Mine, his, theirs. His pained howl rips

through me, burning his image on my soul. “For you I’ll live,” I whisper,

unwilling to breathe, unable to stop. They will come for me, their hands

grasping, to return me to my clan. “Go!” I plead. One last look and he

runs, his tortured fury echoing through me, his pain my own. They

come, see me bathed in blood. “Who did this?” they ask. I shrink

from their touch. Gently they lift me, murmuring, “Let us help

you.” I swallow my protests, settle into their strong hands.

They ask, over and over, but I don’t speak. And they

don’t suspect. They take me home. I care not.

I’ll breathe because I promised I would.

But oh how it hurts. He is gone…

And…I…can’t…breathe....

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The first draft. I’m horrible at first drafts. Editing, I love. I can revise very quickly and enjoy doing it. Pulling a first draft out of me is like yanking my own teeth. I’m not sure why, because I really love to get the stories down on paper. But those blank pages just staring at me are hard to fill sometimes. Give me a completed manuscript to polish up any day :D

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

Mostly, I read :D I used to do a lot of cross-stitching and I play the piano. I love movies and spend a lot of late nights with my favorites. But mostly, I read :)

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

I have a non-fiction book on how to write poetry that should be releasing at the end of the year. And next year, the last book in the Blood Blade Sisters trilogy will be releasing, along with a new historical romance set in the 1920s that will come out next summer. I’m also working on the book with the shape poems and have a fairy tale retelling series I’ll be shopping around soon :)

 

Wish Upon a Star by Michelle McLean

ISBN: 9781622663323

Book Description:

Ceri McKinley never stopped wishing that her ex-fiancé Jason Crickett would come back into her life. But when he finally does, he comes with a request that puts them both—and all of humanity—into jeopardy.

Jason only wants two things: to bury his brother properly and to convince Ceri to trust him again after he jilted her. But when Ceri agrees to help him get his brother back, they end up fighting for their lives as a zombie uprising threatens them all.

Amazon BN Goodreads

Excerpt:

Jason sank down beside me and pulled me toward him, pressing a kiss against my temple.

“Are you okay?” he asked, brushing soot and a few burned leaves from my face and hair. The smell of burned plastic and singed hair coated everything. But it could have been worse.

I leaned against him for a moment before trying to push to my feet.

Jason stopped me. “Rest for a minute.” He reached into my backpack and pulled out another bottle of water.

I took it gratefully, gulping down half the bottle before handing it to him to finish off. When he was done, he bent down, kissing a drop of water from my lips. His hands cupped my face. “I’m sorry. For everything. All of it. Everything I put you through. These wasted years without you.”

“I’m sorry too.” I pulled away and looked up at him. “If we get through this—”

“When we get through this. Not if.”

I gave him a small smile and nodded, knowing he knew what I wanted to say without having to voice the words. “When we get through this, maybe we can talk. About things.”

He gave me one more lingering kiss. “I’ll hold you to that.”

“But for now,” I said, brushing a lock of hair from his forehead.

“Rain check?”

“Rain check.”

About the Author:

I grew up in California and have lived everywhere from the deserts of Utah to the tropical beaches of Hawaii to the gorgeous forests of the east coast. The oldest of five children, I am generally an organized mess with slight Obsessive Compulsive tendencies. I have a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, an insatiable love of books, and more weird quirks than you can shake a stick at.

I am the author of Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers, (Career Press Jan 2011), To Trust a Thief (Entangled Scandalous Jan 2013), a historical romance trilogy Blood Blade Sisters (Entangled Scandalous 2013), and a zombie fairy tale retelling Wish Upon a Star (Entangled Ever After Oct 2013). In addition to my novels and non-fiction work, I write picture books and a bit of poetry. If I’m not editing, reading, or chasing my kids around, I can usually be found in a quiet corner working on my next book.

I currently reside in Pennsylvania with my husband and two young children, an insanely hyper dog, and two very spoiled cats.

Website: http://www.michellemcleanbooks.com/

Blog: http://michellemclean.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michellemclean

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.mclean

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4253087.Michelle_McLean

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$20 Gift Card (Winner’s Choice: Amazon/B&N) & a “Wish” Necklace

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50. What’s The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read?

October marks the time of year when I go out of my way to read something scary, and not in a “Why did any publisher support this hot mess of a novel?” way, but in a “When am I ever going to sleep without the lights on again?” kind of way. I haven’t selected this year’s addition to that annual bookshelf, but if I had to choose the scariest book I ever read, I’d pick Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror.

I know it’s now generally accepted that Amityville is a fake “true story,” but that didn’t make it any easier to descend into the basement after reading the book in the 9th grade. We had an old garage door opener on the wall down there with two red dots that glowed like the eyes of an evil doll, spirit, demon, the Devil, or what have you. The book—absurd as it was in spots—combined with those lights and a creeping dread that my mother’s house might contain a secret red room created a cacophony of horror in my brain, and the side effects manifested in equally absurd habits of safety and precaution for months afterward.

Since that first sample of terror, I became a fan of thrills, chills, and things that go bump in the night—be it eerie fiction, true crime, or the paranormal unknown—and when deciding what book to tackle this October, I grew curious about what other authors and editors I know would select as the scariest book they ever read, and so I asked…

What was the scariest book you’ve ever read, and how did it affect your writing and/or your life after you put the book back on the shelf?  

Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi. When I was a kid, my best friend didn’t read fiction, and I rarely read nonfiction, so we made a pact to exchange books we each thought the other would like. I gave him IT. He gave me Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi’s account of the Manson Family murders. No offense to Stephen King, but Helter Skelter messed me up in ways IT never could. Both books deal with the madness that lurks beneath the thin veneer of modern society—but while King wrote of monsters, Bugliosi convinced me that the monsters were us.”

Chris F. Holm

, author of The Big Reap and Dead Harvest

 

“It was the right book at the right time—1968: I was 22, doing my student teaching, and my supervising teacher lent me I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Utter claustrophobic terror—zombie-vampires—some of whom might happen to be your friends, loved ones, etc., back from the dead to get you. I’d read and loved Matheson’s collections of short horror stories, but this short novel built the nightmare and sustained it and sustained it until you were saying, “I want out of this” even as you knew you’d stick with it to the bitter yet triumphant end. Once I knew that a “modern writer” could do it without ghosts or ghoulies or an English moor and Gothic trappings, I was there. It was an epiphany, and strengthened the desire I’d had to write horror, which began in grade school with “The Pit and Pendulum” and “Tell Tale Heart.”

Mort Castle

, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning New Moon on the Water and the upcoming Dracula: The Annotated Classic, from Writer’s Digest Books

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood horrified me. The scariest part is that it becomes more and more evident that Atwood may have been forecasting the future of the North American female experience. The thing I take with me after I set it down is always the same: I should keep writing my experience, and never let the bastards shut me up.”

Dena Rash Guzman

, author of Life Cycle

 

“Aside from the user’s manual for the first printer I got, I’d say the scariest book I ever read was James Dickey’s Deliverance. I was really too young when I first read it (about 14). My mom, a high school English teacher, had brought it home and told me not to read it, so of course I grabbed it and read it in secret as soon as I could. The impact on me was: the world is a much more dangerous place than I’d thought. Since then, as an author, I’ve remembered it and tried to write as well and as frankly as Dickey. And to not shy away from uncomfortable scenes and topics!”

Elizabeth Sims

, author of Holy Hell and You’ve Got a Book in You

 

“Horror’s like Erotica—imagination is key. Don’t rob it by giving every last grisly detail. Exercise some subtlety and restraint. As a writer, I learned this and more from Henry James’ truly haunting The Turn of the Screw.

David Comfort

, author of The Rock & Roll Book of the Dead and An Insider’s Guide to Publishing, coming soon from Writer’s Digest Books

As you can see from the answers above, there are all kinds of ways we can scare ourselves—everything from hack-and-slash stories to tales that make us see the horror in our ourselves and in our potential futures. Tell us what you think in the comments below…did we select your favorite frightful tome? Is nonfiction scarier than fiction? Is there a book we should consider reading that will keep us awake in the dead of night?

James Duncan is a content editor for Writer’s Digest. He is also the author of The Cards We Keep: Ten Stories

, and is in the process of submitting a handful of novels to agents for traditional representation, just like everyone else on the planet. For more of his work, visit www.jameshduncan.blogspot.com.

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