Who You Gonna Call?

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This week’s flash fiction comes from a recent picture prompt. It’s included for emphasis … Enjoy!

Catharus sat upon the lilting tombstone singing. Normally her melodic echoes wrought joy from even the hardest heart or saddest soul. A thrush’s song worked wonders; miracles even. Things, however, weren’t working in her favor today. Scooting closer to the girl, she let loose another shrill trill of flute like music, certain this time she would obtain the reaction her tiny heart desired. Still, she got no response.
The girl had been sitting for hours, head hung low atop another slightly altered gravestone. Catharus watched her cry, feeling the need to offer the weeping child her exuberant thrush-like cheer with a tune of triumphant jubilee. Her kind were known to be exceptional singers, but apparently this young ghost of a girl had not been taught the ways of the thrush. After being ignored for several more songs, Catharus broke the cardinal rule. She spoke in the language of humans.
“Dear child, what ails you so that not even the majestic melodies I offer can’t bring a moment’s peace from your crying? There, there, dear … It’s okay. You’re going to be okay … ”
Expecting some sort of bewildered reaction at hearing a bird speak, Catharus once again dealt with the total disregard of her presence. Graveyards had long ago become her favorite pastime, for she loved nothing more than to aid in healing those broken hearted mourners who showed up to lay a loved one to rest. Often times her songs soothed random visitors on a rainy evening. Today none of her charms allowed for success.
As the sky darkened, the girl at last broke her heaving sob and spoke. An eerie grin rushed her face, and eyes of pale gray began to shine as the sun set. Her head twisted, and bile colored saliva splashed all about Catharus as the girl broke her unnatural vow of silence.
“Foolish bird! I am no child. You break God’s law by speaking, but your words are wasted. I am no human, nor am I am some pathetic soul lost wandering the earth. I am Nazrohath, Queen of Petulance! I rule over demons who rule over demons! You’re not the hapless mortal I’d hoped to dine on tonight, but I hear your kind tastes like chicken. I’m starving, so I guess a bird will have to do … ”
Catharus fluttered her wings, hovering slightly above the fallen monument where she had recently perched. Singing halted, and as the freshly revealed demon stood herself, sudden flashes of light birthed from the source of the bird wreaked havoc on the creature of darkness. The songbird spoke again, this time during a transformation.
“Well, it’s about time, Nazrohath. I’ve been waiting on you to open that filthy mouth of yours for hours. Seems you’ve been a naughty demon, and Gabriel got wind of it. God doesn’t like you very much, you know. And I’m sure Lucifer won’t very much after this … In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, I condemn you, Nazrohath, back to the eternal lake of fire from whence you came.”
Standing before the demon, the bird headed angel smirked, her speckled wings nestling behind her as the surprised and horrified demonic entity began to swiftly dissipate from the realm of the living. Light broke heavier, and in a final whoosh, Nazrohath disappeared completely from the cemetery. Her work done, Catharus looked about to ensure nothing had been seen or recorded. You could never be too sure with cell phones and all. The full moon bathed down, almost seeming to say the coast was clear. Shifting back into the tiny form of a thrush, she fluttered off, humming what seemed to be the theme from the movie, “Ghostbusters.”
James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Mattbyers40/
Wordpress: http://jamesmatthewbyers.wordpress.com

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A Taste of “Raising Hell”

“Give me your name, Shakespeare?” the horned brute demanded. Apparently, he was the guy (or goat) in charge.

I swallowed and tried not to shit my pants. “Dusty.”

The beast found this amusing and laughed. “Dusty, eh? Lots of dust where I’m taking you, filth. You should feel right at home in Hell.”

I didn’t like the sound of that …

Neither do I.

But that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to “Raising Hell,” the newest chilling tale by Aurelio Rico Lopez III.

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Seeing as it’s close to Halloween, I sat down with Aurelio and asked him to share a bit about the holiday:

Briana: What’s your favorite horror/dark book?

Aurelio: “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson

Briana: Is there a movie adaptation? If so, have you seen it? And if you have, what did you think about it?

Aurelio: There have been a lot of adaptations, and I think I’ve seen them all. I like most of them, but my favorite has to be “The Last Man on Earth” which stars Vincent Price.

Briana: Favorite thing you ever dressed up as for Halloween?

Aurelio: Two years ago, I dressed up as Ash from “Army of Darkness.”

Briana: Favorite Halloween candy?

Aurelio: Doughnuts. I know what you’re thinking: Doughnuts aren’t Halloween candy. Well, who died and made you king?

Briana: Do you believe in ghosts?

Aurelio: I’ve never seen a ghost. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Be sure to check in at SSP’s Unhallowed Halloween event on Monday, October 31st, where Aurelio’s “Raising Hell” will be available for pre-order!

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Aurelio Rico Lopez III is a scribble junkie whose addictions include books, horror movies, rock and roll, caps, and coffee.

One of his earliest memories as a writer involves being reprimanded for vandalizing the walls of the school treehouse with a Pentel Pen.

Aurelio has authored numerous poems, short stories, novelettes, and novellas. One might say he has come a long way from those humble, wooden treehouse walls.

You may contact him at thirdylopez2001@yahoo.com.

 

~~Briana Robertson, Author, Stitched Smile Publications

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Briana Robertson is an emerging speculative fiction author, working primarily within the genres of horror and fantasy. Her love of authors such as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Patrick Rothfuss, and J.K. Rowling has developed her own need to put pen to paper. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, and broadcast on online podcasts. Her debut novel is in the works, set to release in 2017. She currently lives in the Midwest, with her husband, three daughters, and their Maine Coon, Bagheera. Be sure to visit her website, as well as follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagramWordPress, and Pinterest.

Beowulf: The Midgard Epic–A Teaser

“Out from the marsh and rotted logs,

The misty hills and sinking bogs,

Arose the one God’s hatred clothed,

Rose Grendel, bloodlust fully posed …”

This is one of James’ favorite quotes from his new novel Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, and a bloody good one, I concur, soon to be released from Stitched Smile Publications. James is one of the friendliest guys here at SSP and didn’t need any real pressure applied to get him to share with everyone a little teaser for his novel. (Basically I just asked. He’s real generous like that.)

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Beowulf: The Midgard Epic

Called from across the ocean, BEOWULF responds to KING HROTHGAR’s plea. Bringing a small band of warriors, he arrives in Daneland under Hrothgar’s instruction. There the mighty fighter learns of the terror GRENDEL, a heinous monster, inflicts night after night on the king’s people. Murders by the dozen craft panic and fear into the citizens of Daneland. Seemingly unstoppable, Grendel devours flesh and bone as he sees fit.

Weaponry cannot penetrate the creature’s hide, but Beowulf does not need sword or shield to accomplish his duty. Choosing to lay all weaponry aside, the warrior prepares for battle. Feigning sleep, he waits, until the beast arrives. The two battle. Conquering the creature’s horror, the mighty one surpasses Hrothgar’s expectations. Ripping Grendel’s arm from its socket, the beast flees into the night howling. Beowulf and all of Daneland celebrate in HEROT, Hrothgar’s monstrous mead hall construction. Its creation lured the now defeated monster from the depths of the unknown.

Victory, short lived, ends in yet more tragedy. Grendel’s MOTHER appears, unleashing the full fury of a woman scorned. Dismembering and beheading Hrothgar’s closest friend nearly brings Hrothgar’s ruin. However, as with Grendel, Beowulf answers the call to battle. Diving beneath murky waters, slaying serpents and sea beasts, he makes his way to the lair of the demon. Grendel’s mother awaits, prepared for the mighty warrior. Her venomous touch brings some difficulty in the undertaking, but as with Grendel, Beowulf prevails. Using a magical sword from the days of the giants, he courts her doom. Severing her head, the Geat fighter brings peace to Hrothgar, Herot, and the lands beyond.

Spanning fifty years, peace ensues. Once a thief steals a cup from a sleeping DRAGON’s hoard, this alters the state of retirement Beowulf enjoyed. Silent no longer, the giant wyrm rises from its pile of hidden treasure unleashing fiery death upon the great hero’s countryside. Many lose their lives, but their cries do not fall on deaf ears. WIGLAF, a young pupil of the now aged warrior, aids him in what will become Beowulf’s final conflict. Many thanes flee during the altercation, for the dragon’s bite means sudden death. However, Wiglaf stands by until the bitter end. Beowulf triumphs over the old wyrm, but in the process is bitten by its venomous fangs. The ancient legend of a man passes into twilight as Wiglaf chastises his comrades for their cowardice. Beowulf lives on in song and story for generations to come.

I sat down and talked with James about his love for Beowulf, the inspiration for the novel and how his artwork goes hand in hand.

Mike:  When did you first discover Beowulf and what were your impressions the first time you read it?

James:  I first discovered Beowulf at around the age of five. I got this book with monsters from legends all around the world. It had a section about Grendel, and as I was already fascinated with Star Wars and The Hobbit, it just seemed to fit. My mom subscribed to Childcraft books, and their 1984 annual, Great Myths and Legends, had this amazingly illustrated section on Beowulf and his battle with the dragon. This occurred around the time I turned ten. Once I got to high school, I’d already read most of the tale. I remember being the only senior who loved it. It became my favorite story outside of my normal sci-fi, horror, and fantasy tropes. When I went to college, I took courses I knew would have Beowulf somewhere in the mix. It’s such a pet of my creative drive … I can’t imagine my life without it!

Mike:  What inspired you to write your own Beowulf tale, particularly in epic poem format?

James:  I had written several stories, and even a fantasy based novella, all in rhyme by 1997. Since I’d always loved Beowulf, by the time I was finishing my Master’s degree in English/Language Arts, I came up with a plan. I loved to write, but poetry seemed to define me. At this time I was teaching middle school English. I wanted to make Beowulf into something fun; enjoyable. I also wanted to recreate it in a way I’d never seen it … Thus after many moths of research, I opted to use rhyming iambic tetrameter to compose the story we had all been told for generations. Mine doesn’t change anything. I wanted to remain faithful to its roots so it could be used academically as well as for entertainment. Hence Beowulf: The Midgard Epic burst from my mind and onto the blank pages before me. My version also includes an old poem called The Wanderer, where I conclude that its narrator must be Wiglaf, the young warrior who aids Beowulf fight the dragon. Again, I want this to be everywhere, and appeal to as many different areas as possible.

Mike:  When did you begin your artistic endeavors and how have they affected your life?

James:  I began my artistic endeavors around the age of three. My first major film to watch in the theater came in the form of a little movie we call Star Wars. Add in the Rankin/Bass Hobbit cartoon, and the rest is history. My favorite story my mom tells happened when I was in kindergarten. The teacher called her in for a conference and told her she was worried because I didn’t want to go out at recess. I wanted to stay in and write stories and illustrate them. Art; poetry; story telling … they are my life. I wouldn’t be me without them.

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More Bits of Bone and Fleshy Quotes to tantalize your tongues:

“His claws pushed back behind and caught

In Beowulf’s imprisoned taught

And mighty hold, who leaned upon

The arm of Grendel, pressing bone …”

 

“When fifty winters turned the page,

And Beowulf grew ripe with age,

A dragon woke from slumber’s keep,

Aroused amid its ancient sleep …”

I’m sure you’re all ready to get your grubby old paws on this one in the flesh. Well, thankfully the wait is not long at all. Join James and the rest of us at SSP on Halloween night for the pre-release party of Beowulf: The Midgard Epic on Facebook!

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

Find out more about James Matthew Byers and Beowulf: The Midgard Epic on:

Twitter: @Mattbyers40

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Mattbyers40/

WordPress: http://jamesmatthewbyers.wordpress.com

Adventure Awaits!

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the SSP mailing list to stay up to date on this and other horrifying new releases.

 

 

Mike Duke, Author, Stitched Smile Publications

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I’m 44, married 25 years, and have a son and daughter who are both grown and out of the house (pretty much). My German Shepherd, Ziva, is my baby now.

I was a cop for 12 years (and even spent a few years on the SWAT team) before getting into the training industry. The last 10 years I’ve been teaching military, law enforcement, bodyguards and private citizens High Speed, Tactical and Off Road Driving and Hand to Hand Combatives. I also did a few bodyguard gigs.

I have been writing since high school off and on but started to tackle it with conviction in 2009. I’ve self-published two short novellas – Ashley’s Tale and Ashley’s Tale: Making Jake and one short story – The Awakening. Stitched Smile Publications will be publishing my novel Low before the end of 2016, plus I have a story in their Monsters vs Zombies anthology.

 

Do Fear The Reaper – with Briana Robertson

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I love Halloween. No, even more than that. I bloody love Halloween.

Not only does it mean that we’re properly into Autumn (or “Fall” for all of you lovely colonial types), but to a horror writer and fan of horror in general, it’s the perfect time of the year. For one thing, the evenings drawing in and it getting dark sooner makes for greater productivity.  It’s difficult to write anything particular sinister and atmospheric when you’re in your shorts and sweating like Donald Trump at a W.I. meeting because you’re baking at abnormally high temperatures and having to drink the best part of four gallons of water every hour.

So, in the great spooky spirit of the season, I’m bigging up one of my excellent fellow Authors who has a pre-release of her latest book this coming Halloween.

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Briana Robertson is a fellow indie author and a writer for Stitched Smile Publications (who I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with in their recent “Unleashing the voices within” anthology). Her latest book is “Reaper”, a horror anthology.

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A tattoo come to life with ominous intentions. Life-threatening panic attacks. A harmless bedroom accident. Predator turned prey.

The Reaper has arrived.

In this new anthology, Briana Robertson presents a selection of chilling tales where Death doesn’t discriminate, leaving readers in fear for their own mortality. Fatality lurks between every turn of the page, threatening all—from a daughter who’s made a deal she can’t afford, to an innocent child left unobserved.

Told exclusively from a female’s perspective, “Reaper” highlights the underlying, everyday terror of facing life’s end and bestows a grim reminder: Death comes for us all.

I took the opportunity to ask Briana a couple of questions for an insight into her writing.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

I guess you could say both my family and my mental disorders. Though I’ve played at writing since I was a child, it wasn’t until after a car accident in 2011 left me with fibromyalgia, and resulting clinical depression and anxiety that I decided to tackle writing as a career. Writing, more than my medication, is how I exorcise all the demons that seem to be constant companions. In writing darker works, I can pour all my negative emotions out on the page and leave them behind, which allows me to be a better wife and mother to my family.

How did I come up with the idea for Reaper?

Well, I was offered the chance to participate in an event called “31 Days of Hell,” which is meant to help promote horror authors and their work during the month of October. I wanted to have something that was strictly my own to promote, but knew I wouldn’t have time to do justice to a novel. I had several darker short stories that hadn’t found a home yet; some needed some expanding, others simply a good editor. But with the amount of work I already had available, I knew I could write a few more and have enough material to support an anthology. When I looked at what I had, and the ideas I’d come up with for new stories, I realized that the overarching theme among them was death; and so Death became the main character in the anthology, and he can be found in every story, even if he’s not specifically mentioned by name.

 When you develop your characters, do you already know who they are or do they develop as you write?

I don’t know that I “let” them develop, but that’s what usually ends up happening. I tend to think I know my characters when I start writing, but they usually surprise me in one way or another, because they always end up doing something I hadn’t originally planned. I do try to be true to my characters, always, so if they end up developing in a way I hadn’t intended, I will change my original story if that’s what needs to happen for the characters to remain true to themselves.

 Out of all of the protagonists you’ve written and created so far, to which do you relate the most?

 Reyna, the protagonist from “Phobia.” And I say that because I based Reyna so closely on myself. Her fears are my fears. Her panic attacks are my panic attacks. Her insecurities are those I’ve battled all my life. So even though the story is fiction, not an autobiography, and there are aspects of Reyna that are distinctly her own—she is a character after all—I relate to her because I know her and understand her the best.

Tell me about your writing process and how you brainstorm ideas.

My ideas usually stem from real life events and personal emotions/reactions. As I mentioned above, writing is how I exorcise the negativity that accompanies my depression and anxiety. So I write about the things that depress me, the things that make me anxious, the things that scare me. I put my own worst nightmares on the page, but allow them to happen to someone else. (My characters probably find that terribly unfair.) I find inspiration in images as well, prompts and the like, but the core story ideas, even when they’re adapted to fit a specific inspirational image, are those that are real and relevant to me.

As to my writing process, I tend to write from beginning to end. I don’t like to jump around; I find it hard to remain consistent that way. If I know where I want the story to go, or if I have a sentence jump into my head that I find especially brilliant, I’ll pause and jot it down, but I don’t jump scenes or write the end before the beginning (though I often know the end of the story before I know the beginning). And I’m more of a “pantster” than an outliner. And that is strictly because my characters never follow the outline anyway.

Thanks very much, Briana!  As part of the Halloween festivities, come join the Halloween pre-release party fun on the Stitched Smile Groupies facebook page here and be sure to join the Facebook Groupies page here.  And watch this space for the details closer to the release of Reaper!

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authorpicBriana Robertson is an emerging speculative fiction author, working primarily within the genres of fantasy and horror. Her love of authors such as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Patrick Rothfuss, and J.K. Rowling has developed her own need to put pen to paper. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, and broadcast on online podcasts. Her debut novel is in the works, set to release in 2017. She currently lives in the Midwest, with her husband, three daughters, and their Maine Coon, Bagheera.

Find out more about Briana on her facebook or twitter pages.


 

 

 

 

 

meDavid Court was born and resides in Coventry, UK with his patient wife and his three less patient cats. A few years back David achieved minor internet notoriety under the pseudonym FoldsFive for his animated GIFs telling the entirety of the Star Wars Trilogy, a fact that he’s still jolly well proud of and insists on telling anyone at any opportunity. When not reading, blogging angrily on www.foldsfive.co.uk or www.davidjcourt.co.uk, drinking real ale, being immune to explosions, writing software for a living or practicing his poorly developed telekinetic skills, he can be found writing fiction.

 

Happy Halloween

 

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Here’s a little something to get you in the Halloween spirit. I decided to put my poetic nature to the musical test and crafted a Halloween tune. Trick or treat!

Happy, Happy Halloween
(A Theme for Halloween)

CHORUS:

Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween
Happy, happy Halloween

VERSE 1:

Vampire bats are flying
As the banshees’ wails are crying
While the mummies rise up from
Their empty tombs

Bandages unwrapping
As the bats wings all are flapping
And the witches come and join
Them on their brooms

All laughing, ha, ha

CHORUS:

Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween
Happy, happy Halloween

VERSE 2:

Frankenstein is working
As his monster starts to jerking
“It’s alive!” he cries
As Igor grunts and moans

Wolfman starts to howling
As the zombies all are prowling
And the skeletons all jingle
With their bones

All laughing, ha, ha

CHORUS:

Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween
Happy, happy Halloween

VERSE 3:

Dracula is calling
As the autumn breeze is falling
And his castle bathes
Beneath the moonbeam’s glow

Something there is stirring
In the swamp, the fog is blurring
As the Creatures bubble
Up and start to grow

All laughing, ha, ha

CHORUS:

Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween
Happy, happy Halloween

VERSE 4:

Children trick or treating
Soon their candy they’ll be eating
As the streets they all
Are fleeting o’er and o’er

Somewhere ghosts are booing
As the witch’s brew is brewing
And the children gasp
And do it all some more

All laughing, ha, ha

CHORUS:

Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween
Happy, happy Halloween

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Mattbyers40/
Wordpress: http://jamesmatthewbyers.wordpress.com

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Every bitter thing is sweet – Talking “Low” with Mike Duke

“To a hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.” – Proverbs 27:7

One of Mike Duke’s favorite quotes from his new novel LOW, soon to be released. Here at SSP we couldn’t wait to share what Duke has in store for you, so we convinced him to share a little bit. A little sneak preview, if you will. A tiny tease, an amuse bouche, something to whet your appetite and make you hungry for what’s sure to be a dark and terrifying ride.

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Officer Mark Adams is fed up with God, his wife and the legal constraints of his job. He longs for a life he can enjoy and to see true justice meted out.

Chad Bigleby is a lawyer thrown into a deadly moral quagmire, forced to decide whether he will abide by man’s laws or make his own.

Each man is being driven to the edge of his limits.

Both men are on a collision course.

All because something wicked has arrived in Pleasant Grove, something ancient and obsessed with vengeance, eager to punish the souls of men for their sins.

How LOW will they go to get what they desire most? And what will it cost them in the end?

Hell only knows…

I sat down with Duke and asked him a few questions about LOW.

MF: Mike, how long did it take you to write LOW?

Mike: I started writing it in 2009 and finished the rough draft in 2012. I submitted it  multiple times and took the feedback from each rejection and did numerous rewrites to refine the story.

MF: Where did the idea come from?

Mike: I got the initial kernel of an idea for LOW out of the blue one day, riding down the road listening to my iPod. Two songs played in a row and the two themes just kind of meshed in my head. Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long” and “Testament’s Low”. I envisioned some kind of entity that torments people in dreams and night terrors, and combined it with the thought of how low will we go to get what we want. There was a lot of work to do after that, but that was the initial spark.

MF: What do you think sets this story apart?

Mike: One, I think the premise, though Dante-esque in some ways, is original as far as the nature of the supernatural entity and his motivations. In dealing with moral issues and weaknesses more common to men, I believe I’m able to present it with a voice of authenticity and authority. I was a cop for almost 12 years so I have first hand experience seeing how low people can sink to get what they want.

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I’m sure by now, dear reader, you’re itching to read LOW, but you’ll have to wait just a bit more. It’s slated to be released this November. Until then, you can placate your appetite with this short excerpt, and if you’re really keen to get more, join us on Halloween night for the LOW per-release party on Facebook.

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Glenda Harris was leaving the Gas N Go, a large colorful coat covering her heavy dark skinned frame, when she saw a creepy old man and his dog lingering beside the building, almost invisible, the shadows wrapping them like a shroud, eating the streetlight’s glow. If her skin hadn’t prickled when she passed them she might never have even glanced over much less paused to stop and stare. The man’s lips parted in a smile and white teeth was suddenly all she could make out clearly, the brightness casting a cloak over what she had seen before. Like some Cheshire cat, his smile hung in the darkness, tilting slowly to the right and then to the left before righting itself at last and revealing his face. She stood frozen, struggling to find words to break the spell of fear gripping her. “Umm…sir…this ain’t no place for an old white man to be all by himself at this time of night. Are you lost?” Her heart was beating out of her chest. She gripped the aluminum foil packet in her pocket that held the blessed roots and herbs and prayed they would do their job of warding off evil.

A voice, smooth like sand sliding over glass, a southern gentleman’s accent, projected from the shadows as the teeth disappeared. “Why, mah lady, how absolutely kind and considerate of you. I appreciate your effort but I assure you, I am quite dandy and in need of no assistance. You may be on your way without the slightest worry for my well-being.” The man tipped his head down and in her direction in parting recognition, then raised his right hand up and waved his fingers up and down to say goodbye, each finger falling and rising in succession.

Find out more about Mike Duke and LOW on Facebook,as well as his blog, Twitter, and on Amazon.

Don’t forget to sign up for the SSP mailing list to stay up to date on this and other horrifying new releases.


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Horror, thriller, sci-fi … all are synonymous with author M. F. Wahl. Dark plots and a keen focus on character development will keep you chained to each frightful word. Wahl is a proud member of the Horror Writer’s Association and her first novel “Disease” is will be released by Stitched Smile sometime next year. Visit http://mfwahl.com/ for more information, or to get on the mailing list. You can also find Wahl on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

Ghostly Wrath

Flash Fiction Saturday is on! Dive into the notion of Grendel’s mother as a ghost … Beware!  She’s everywhere!

Many monsters, many ghouls, and nary can they cover
Bodies, brains, and brutal deaths the same as Grendel’s mother

Someone said that she had died, but flesh was just a cage
Now her ghost is everywhere, a witch hellbent with rage

Fury of a mother scorned, bereft her only child
Beastly, feral, hungered wrath; a ghostly demon, wild

Beowulf destroyed the chance for her kind to renew
Grendel slain, his body torn, the moment he came through

Death could not contain her wrath; no sword could sever ties
Shadows hold her in their web; she’s mother of all lies

Wolves and vampires hallow her; the mummies hail her blight
Zombies shamble in her wake; she reels with every bite

Nothing can withstand her spells; the joke is on us all
Draped in evil’s luxury, she aims to see men fall

Children, tarry not, or else thy will shall be perplexed
Grendel’s mother comes for thee; beware for thou art next …

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Mattbyers40/
Wordpress: http://jamesmatthewbyers.wordpress.com

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How-To: Author Takeovers

party

So you’ve been invited to do an author takeover at a release party. Fantabulous!

Now what?

While having the spotlight on you might seem overwhelming, it’s really fairly simple. Readers (and that’s who we’re hoping is attending a release party, obviously) want to know about three things:

  1. Your book
  2. You
  3. What they  might get

So let’s take these one at a time.

Your Book

If this is a release party specifically for your book, then your book is the obvious star. The goal is to let people know about your book and *hopefully* generate lots of sales. So of course you want to talk about your book. Give the readers the synopsis. Share a couple of quotes or excerpts. Talk about where you got your inspiration for the book. Create a character profile for one of your main characters and share it. Share your cover; this is an especially good tool to use if your cover has not yet been released. Readers are drawn in first and foremost by a cover, so use this to your advantage. Above all, share the link to where readers can get your book; you want them to know where to go.

What if this a release party for someone else’s book, though? Well, give their book a shout-out; it’s polite and respectful. Thank the featured author for having you and allowing you to host a short portion of the party. And then talk about your book. Yes, you’re allowed. Still give a synopsis. Still share the cover. Still talk about the characters, your inspiration, whatever you’d like the readers to know. And don’t forget to share your link.

You

There’s more to marketing for indie authors than just talking about your book; there are way too many of us out there for us to depend solely on our work and report cards. Readers want to know us. They want to know why they should trust us enough to buy our book over author A, B, or C’s. So when you do an author takeover, don’t be afraid to talk about you.

Create a Q&A post, where you invite the readers to ask you what they want to know. Make sure you answer! Even if it’s not immediate (because believe me, these parties can get crazy with interactions, and time flies) let them know you’ll get to their questions. Let them know you’re paying attention and you find their inquiries important.

Talk about why you started writing in the first place. Share a fun anecdote. Tell your readers/share a picture of the costume your kid wore for Halloween, and encourage them to do the same. Talk about the things you love, whether it be a sports team, tattoos, a certain band. Share music you like. Share quotes you love. Recommend other books to your readers. Have some fun with them, and let them know you’re someone–as an author and a person–they should invest in.

What They Might Get

It’s fairly typical to run some sort of contest or giveaway when you’re doing an author takeover. It’s not required, by any means, but it is the norm. And frankly, it’s a fairly easy way to help generate interest and sales. Readers will be much more willing to buy your book if they know that doing so might win them something. That’s just reality.

You can do contests or giveaways however you like. You can also do as few or as many as you like. It’s all up to you. Many authors give away copies of their books,–either the new release or previously published works–donated copies of other authors’ books, or swag. (For anyone who isn’t aware, swag is any type of marketing material that helps sell your book: bookmarks, postcards, magnets, business cards, t-shirts, hats, anything that you can think of. Most swag will feature your logo, your publisher’s logo, the cover of your book, a teaser, or some other image that helps represent you and your work.)

Contests and giveaways can be as basic or creative as you want them to be. Some authors choose to do a straight-up raffle. You mark that you’re attending, your name goes in the pot. At the end of the event, all the names go into a random generator and the winner takes all. Others will do individual contests that require some sort of participation. For example, they’ll post a picture and ask attendees to caption it. Whoever creates the author’s favorite wins. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you follow through on your promised prize, even if it takes a while. Keep in contact with your winners and let them know you’ve got them covered.

And that’s about it. The goal is to relax and have fun. It is a party, after all. 🙂

If you’re interested in a few more details regarding my own personal experience with release parties, check out What I Learned At My First Pre-Release Party. It’s got a couple of tips that I didn’t cover here.

Much love!

 

~~Briana Robertson, Author, Stitched Smile Publications

authorpic

Briana Robertson is an emerging speculative fiction author, working primarily within the genres of horror and fantasy. Her love of authors such as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Patrick Rothfuss, and J.K. Rowling has developed her own need to put pen to paper. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, and broadcast on online podcasts. Her debut novel is in the works, set to release in 2017. She currently lives in the Midwest, with her husband, three daughters, and their Maine Coon, Bagheera. Be sure to visit her website, as well as follow her on Facebook,Twitter,Instagram,WordPress, and Pinterest.

Horror Humpday: Phobia

tarantula

Breath hitches.

Chest clinches.

A bitter chill sets in.

Eight hairy legs

carry eight evil eyes

as it scurries

and scuttles

and sidles closer.

Cold sweat beads

then weeps,

trickling along icy skin,

and the scream is caught,

cut off,

as terror engulfs.

Heart races.

Horror chases

the spider in its wake

as it knowingly creeps

along flesh

steeped in fear.

Breath ceases.

Blood decreases

as essence slips away,

retreating from the

lifeless shell

which is all that remains

of a phobic hell.

~~Briana Robertson, Author, Stitched Smile Publications

authorpic

Briana Robertson is an emerging speculative fiction author, working primarily within the genres of horror and fantasy. Her love of authors such as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Patrick Rothfuss, and J.K. Rowling has developed her own need to put pen to paper. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, and broadcast on online podcasts. Her debut novel is in the works, set to release in 2017. She currently lives in the Midwest, with her husband, three daughters, and their Maine Coon, Bagheera. Be sure to visit her website, as well as follow her on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram,WordPress, and Pinterest.

Teaser Tuesday: Reaper, Coming Soon From Briana Robertson …

It’s Teaser Tuesday, and I wanted to shout out to Briana Robertson, a fellow Stitcher. Her Stitched Smile Publications work, Reaper, is coming soon. Here’s a little poem I wrote to commemorate its release, along with an original piece of art and a teaser for it as well …

And remember, Death comes for us all!
#Reaper #SSP #BrianaRobertson

Enjoy!!!

The Reaper

The Reaper comes to claim a soul;
A death to usher in
A scythe of doom to rake the coal;
A breath to render thin
The moment of arrival bleeds;
Enacts the final mark
And all must heed the plot that speeds
A flame into the dark
Horrific in the night’s attire;
Horrendous skeleton
Enrapturing the bleak desire;
The dead’s own telamon
The Reaper knows no bribe or taunt;
A silent killer’s drape
And when the grim one comes to haunt
No mortal can escape …

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

Find James Matthew Byers at:
Twitter: @Mattbyers40
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/Mattbyers40/
Wordpress: http://jamesmatthewbyers.wordpress.com

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