Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dawn of the Dead (1978): Remembering George A. Romero’s Greatest Film











Dawn of the Dead (1978): Remembering George A. Romero’s Greatest Film
Guest Blog by Thomas S. Flowers

Francine Parker: They're still here.
Stephen: They're after us. They know we're still in here.
Peter: They're after the place. They don't know why; they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.
Francine Parker: What the hell are they?
Peter: They're us, that's all, when there's no more room in hell.
Stephen: What?
Peter: Something my granddad used to tell us. You know Macumba? Vodou. My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us, "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth."

Dawn of the Dead is among many things a very quotable movie. The scene above is probably everyone's favorite, and for some there are more selective scenes to nibble on. Scientists arguing on what remains of the news broadcast. The SWAT incursion of the Philadelphia apartment building. The refueling scene, the dock scene, the shopping montage. The raiders and ensuing firefight. There are plenty. And if you were to ask me, I can't really say if I personally have an all-time favorite scene, I mean let's be honest here, there are so many to choose from. From the very beginning, Dawn of the Dead lures you in and keeps your attention rooted into the story. The pacing couldn't be more perfect.

But before we delve any further, let's get one of those sweet sweet IMDb synopses’:

"Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall."

Okay, well...not bad. Not bad except for one fundamental thing. This synopsis violates one of the Laws of Romeroism. Also, btw, Romeroism is basically as it sounds, the rules or laws set in pace by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead) as the originator of the "zombie" sub-genre as we know it today, that is the undead consuming the flesh of the living. Please see the following link for a complete detailed list of all the Laws of Romeroism. So which "law" did the synopsis violate? In Romeroesque zombie movies, the zombies are never called zombies...except for that one time in Land of the Dead when Dennis Hopper's character says, "Zombies...they freak me out, man."

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. The round-about point being that Dawn of the Dead was Romero's second film, the one in which he began establishing the rules for his "zombies." In Night of the Living Dead, he had (at the time) no idea that he was creating an entirely new sub-genre in horror, that his "ghouls" would eventually become more popular than that of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon (Gillman), and the Invisible Man, the pillars of horror themselves.

Dawn of the Dead was also the first "dead film" in which Romero wrote and directed without the help of his friend and partner from Night of the Living Dead, John Russo. I'm not entirely sure what caused the split, but in an interview with Lee Karr in 2009, this is what George had to say regarding Russo:
"I love John, I still love John. John is the most practical guy - you can have a conversation with John about anything, politics, movies, whatever. Anything he says you may not agree with it, but he's got a practical approach to it...and therefore you can never defeat his arguments, even though you would like to! I just wish John would cut a couple of chords and loosen himself up a little bit. I think he is too strict on himself and he chooses a business approach. I think he could have been a superstar, but he took the safer route. He bet the red-black, instead of ever putting it on number 17."

Looking back at Dawn of the Dead, one can see the amount of risk George A. Romero put in to make this film. Dawn remained independent yet upped the budget that Night of the Living Dead had from 114,000 to 650,000. And Dawn would go on to gross over 5 million at the box office. Not only was Dawn a "home run" in terms of investment, but over the years it has remained in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide, earning itself a place within the lexicon of cult classics. Even infamous critic Roger Ebert said Dawn was, "one of the best horror films ever made -- and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling."

Watching Dawn of the Dead, one cannot escape the lure of the story. From the very get-go, we want to know what's going on. The first scene opens with a shot of red carpet and leading lady Francine Parker (played by Gaylen Ross) waking from a nightmare into a more literal nightmare. She's at a news-station, and the news ain't good (is it ever?). People are frantic, running every which way, barely holding on to whatever discipline they have left. Most have fled, as Stephen (played by David Emge) quips, "someone must survive." Francine seems determined to do her duty, and that is to broadcast as long as possible, but in the end let's go on the career she undoubtedly worked hard to build.

From the news station, we cut to an apartment building in Philadelphia (really in Pittsburgh) as a SWAT team readies to raid and dispose of the collected "dead" the residents have refused to hand over to the "proper" authorities. Martial law has apparently been given and the order stands that all "dead" must be properly "disposed" of. But as it seems, some still honor the dead, as I think Peter (played by Ken Foree) says later on during the raid. The most startling moment here is not when the brown makeup faced "Puerto Ricoian" comes running out only to get gunned down, but the small cracks in the demeanor of some of the SWAT members, most notably when "Woolie's gone ape shit, man." There's also a more foreboding scene with the one-legged priest, as he says:

"Many have died, last week, on these streets. In the basement of this building, you will find them. I have given them the last rites. Now, you do what you will. You are stronger than us. But soon, I think they be stronger than you. When the dead walk, señores, we must stop the killing... or lose the war..."

What is the priest talking about here? Just the undead in the apartment building, or something more? See, this is when horror really shines, when it forces audiences to ask the questions they typically avoid asking. This scene takes about less than a minute to play out, but the ramification of what was said are everlasting. And there are more questions that will be asked as Dawn of the Dead continues. From the apartment building, we're taken near the docks where Stephen and Francine prepare the News Helicopter for their impromptu escape from the city. If your watching the Uncut edition, there are some added scenes here. As Stephen radios, the "post has been abandoned." But not everyone had fled. The couple have a close shave with another party who have thoughts of running. A group of surviving police, as it would seem, with a notable actor who will make a return appearance in Day of the Dead, though not as the same character, are poised to take more than their share, giving Stephen a "hard time" for taking "company" fuel. Luckily, Roger and Peter arrive and chase the "bad men" away.

Our group escape the city unscathed and as they are flying around looking for refuge, they pass over another group of what we might imagine from the end of Night of the Living Dead, a hodgepodge collection of military, police, huntsmen, various first responders and country locals, all banded together. One might feel safe with them, as the saying goes, there is safety in numbers, right? Except for the odd sensation, the way they treat the dead or undead, playing around with them, wrestling with them, lynching them up in trees and using them as target practice. What does their actions say about the human condition? That we demonize our enemies and thus become demons ourselves, perhaps?

After another close shave fueling up, the group passes over an abandoned mall. They've been flying for hours now and are in need of rest. There's an upstairs area that seems isolated from the rest of the mall and so they decided to make camp. But after spending some time there, thoughts of looting and pillaging consume them, all but Francine who wants nothing more than to continue north. The boys get a sort of consumerist fever, that everything in the mall could be theirs if only they had the gumption to take it. And they do, they plan how to cut off the flow of undead from coming into the complex and work at removing those already inside. Roger (played by  Scott H. Reiniger) is bitten during an episode he has, cracking up just like Woolie had at the beginning. And it really forces the question, was it all worth it? Sure, they get the spoils, there's even a fun little montage of them enjoying their hard fought gains. Eventually the fun wears thin and after Roger passes away, comes back, and is killed again, the sting is felt on the faces of the characters. As Francine says:

"Stephen, I'm afraid. You're hypnotized by this place. All of you! You don't see that it's not a sanctuary, it's a prison! Let's just take what we need and get out of here!"

Eventually raiders stumble upon the mall and more deaths follow. In the end, the mall is abandoned and we're left wondering was it worth it? Stephen could have listened to Peter and just let the raiders take what they wanted and go, but no. He became possessive, hypnotized by the lore of stuff, of ownership, even though they never really owned any of it. And what good did any of that stuff do? What could they do with it? Trade? Barter? What hole did the mall fill for those characters? Looking at the mall from a survivors perspective, it certainly had a feeling of security, four walls and all and plenty of space to run and escape. But as proved by the raiders, the mall is a high target. Protecting a bunch of stuff they can't even really use seems pointless, why not just take what they need and continue north as Francine wanted? What was the attraction of staying?

Personally speaking, I think it was the normalcy the mall offered. Stephen and Peter both quipped that the reason why the undead were coming to the mall was because it was a place of importance to them, something they "remembered." Yet, there they were too. For shelter, at first, yes. But they stayed for another reason, to "play house," as Stephen said to Francine when he was trying to convince her why they should stay at the mall. The mall had "everything they needed..." but did it really?

Dawn of the Dead was selected as the last film to be reviewed for this year's zombie themed Fright Fest because it is the fundamental "be-all" for a zombie movie. Fighting words for some, I'm sure. But few can deny the impact Dawn has had on the sub-genre and the continuingly growing culture surrounding the film. Dawn of the Dead is my personal favorite horror film, second only to John Carpenter's The Thing. Why? Well... Romero didn't rush the progression of the story, clocking in over two hours of gory storytelling, which I favor. The length and pace to me feel natural and wonderfully nihilistic. Not only giving us horror fans all the blood and guts we could have want for, but also giving us something else to chew on, all the various questions raised concerning humanity and concerning ourselves.





Planet of the Dead
Book One
Thomas S. Flowers

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Shadow Work Publishing

Date of Publication: Oct 13, 2017

ISBN: 1988819024
ASIN: B075X2WLX1

Number of pages: 268 (Kindle), 266 (paperback)
Word Count: 60K

Cover Artist: Travis Eck

Tagline: Live. Die. Or become one of the Undead.

Book Description:

News reports speak of mass panic and violence spreading across the globe. Negligent leaders hide behind misinformation. But in an age of paranoia and suspicion, who can say what is true anymore? Struggling to survive against a sweeping epidemic that has engulfed the planet, survivors will have to make hard choices in a world that no longer makes sense.

About the Author:


Who doesn't love a good story? Thomas's favorite books include All Quiet on the Western Front, Salem's Lot, and Hell House.

In his own writings, he aspires to create fantastic worlds with memorable characters and haunted places. His stories range from Shakespearean gore, classic monster tales, and even stories that hurt him the most to write about, haunted soldiers and PTSD. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas's debut novel, Reinheit, was eventually published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, FEAST, Beautiful Ugly, and Planet of the Dead.

His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, filled with werewolves, Frankenstein-inspired monsters, cults, alter-dimensional insects, witches, and the undead are published with Limitless Publishing.

In 2008, Thomas was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He is the senior editor at Machine Mean, a site that reviews horribly awesome and vintage horror movies and books from guest contributors who obsess over a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics.






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Monday, October 15, 2018

The Last Hellfighter by Thomas S. Flowers - Haunted Halloween Spooktacular



The Last Hellfighter
Thomas S. Flowers

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror

Publisher: Darker Worlds Publishing



Date of Publication: Aug 10, 2018

ISBN: 1724369202
ASIN: B07FFND86J

Number of pages: 277 (Kindle)
410 (paperback)

Word Count: 78K

Cover Artist: Michael Bray

Tagline: They thought vampires were fantasy. They were wrong.

Book Description:

In the year 2044, reporters from the Public Relations Ministry gather at the home of Benjamin Harker, the last surviving member of the Harlem Hellfighters. At the age of 144, he is the oldest recorded man alive. Hidden among them, Clyde Bruner is looking for a different kind of story. Across the United States, despite the Great Walls and patrol drones built to keep America secure, something has found its way in. And now towns are vanishing during the night. Entire populations, gone. Only to return after the sun sets, changed, unholy, and lethal. And whatever this evil is, its spreading west.

According to a bedtime story Bruner’s grandfather told him when he was a boy, Benjamin Harker has seen this before. He’s faced this scourge. Fought this evil. Survived them. Killed them. From the trenches of the Great War to the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Iraq, Harker will search his past to save our future.

But as each city light extinguishes across the country, is there no time left to stop what’s coming?










Excerpt:

“Hey, Mr. Green. Any ships due in tonight?”
“Huh?” the older man grunted, his full attention glued to the small box television set. Family Feud was on and Silas never missed an episode. As long as Julius had worked with him at least, in these past four months on the night shift, the seasoned longshoreman who acted very content with his life—who moved slow and never liked causing “trouble,” as he called it, to his superiors, could recite the most complex trivia questions.
Julius looked back to his monitor. Part of his job was to watch for ships that may have wandered off course, or even scheduled docks on the quay. The program displayed on his monitor was linked to AIS Marine database that monitored all vessel traffic around the world. He kept the screen displaying his assigned port—which showed a few red, which meant docked and inactive. The one that concerned him was another ship, inbound and blinking green.
“Mr. Green?” Julius pressed. 
The older black man sighed loudly, turning away from his small TV screen. “What? Why the hell would—listen son, you can’t let this job spook you. Working nights on the dock, I know, the long hours can get to you. But trust me, this sure beats working days out in that sun all day offloading ships.”
“But look,” the younger longshoreman pointed his screen.
Frowning, Silas rolled his chair over to the computer monitor. The green blinking ship reflected off his thick glasses. He pushed them back up on his nose, “That ain’t nothing, probably just a glitch in the system.”
Julius looked at the screen and then out the large window that overlooked the Port of Jerusalem. He’d just moved to town not more than six months prior from Bangor and he wanted to make a good impression.
“Okay,” the younger man said.
Silas nodded in quiet victory and rolled back over to watch his show.
Julius continued glaring at the blinking green ship as it approached the port on the screen. He swallowed hard as it inched closer and closer. He glanced at the old man as he howled at some man on the TV having missed a question that Silas thought was a “no brainer.”  On the monitor, the green blinking ship was upon them. Beads of sweat dripped down his forehead.
Closer.
And closer.
“Mr. Green, I don’t think is a glitch,” Julius protested.
Exhaling loudly, Silas stood and turned. “Listen, young blood, I’ve been doing this job for twenty years and I’ve never heard of no ship coming in that wasn’t on the manifest.”
Julius shrugged. “Yeah, but…” he gestured to the screen.
“There is no ship coming—”
Just outside, a large wave crashed against the port levee walls. A thunderous metallic screech vibrated off the walls of the little trailer office on the wharf. Manuals and notebooks and ship logs fell from the shelves as the ground itself felt as if it was opening. The small TV still playing Family Feud rattled off the table and crashed to the floor, sizzling out. The florescent bulbs above them burst raining shards of glass and casting the room into a yellow gloom. The horrendous grinding seemed to go on forever, shaking and shuddering the world.
And then it was over.
Silas Green was the first to prop himself off the floor. Looking around cautiously, as if any wrong move would send the world into chaos again.
Julius propped himself up, moving into a crouch. He peeked through the blinds. “What the heck was that?”
“Shit!” the older man hissed.
Julius glanced over his shoulder at him. “What? You okay?”
Silas held up what remained of his TV. “No, damn tube is busted.”
Shaking his head, Julius peered back out the blinds. “I think we should go check the dock.” He stood, not waiting for approval and went through the door of the office.
“Hold on, young blood.” Silas gave the TV a final kiss—he’d had the device for more years than he cared to confess, and then set it down on the floor as gently as he could. Standing, he opened the bottom drawer of his desk and retrieved a flashlight.
Outside, Silas trotted to catch up with Julius who was standing at the edge of the wharf looking up into the gloom.
“Somethings out there,” the young man said.
Silas wafted the fog around his head. “Can’t see shit out here.”
“Use the flashlight,” Julius suggested without taking his gaze from in front of him.
“Oh,” Silas grunted, flicking on the switch. A beam of bright white broke apart the misty smoke like haze. He shined out toward the wharf and at first still could not see anything. And then the fog parted as if controlled by some unknown force, separating and unfolding around a large cargo ship.
Silas traced the hull to the edge of the ship deck. “Mother of God,” he whispered, taken back by the sudden massive size of the ship. He’d never been this close to one. The larger vessels normally dock at Freeport. 
Julius stepped toward him, asking, “What do we do?”
The older man couldn’t think—this wasn’t on the schedule, the ship manifest, nothing. This ship shouldn’t be here. The harbourmaster would have said something. Hell, his superintendent would have damn sure said something. It would have been on the log. Silas moved the beam of light to the wharf itself, noting the broken shards of rock in the thick cement and the thick crack in the hull of the ship. It was taking on water for sure—it hadn’t even bothered slowing down. It ploughed into the quay. But why? Wasn’t there someone steering this damn thing? This wasn’t right. Something about this—everything about this wasn’t right.
“Mr. Green?” Julius pressed, whispering hotly.
Silas looked at him, the kid was rattled; he was rattled. He took a deep breath. “Okay, listen, I’m going to call this in—pray the lines in the office are still operating. Here, take the flashlight.” He handed it to Julius. “Stay put, yell out if you see anyone. Some dumbass is going to pay bigtime for this screwup and it ain’t going to be you or me.”
He gave one final glance at the monstrous freighter and started off for the office. Inside, he could use the phone on the floor. He scooped it up and dialed his supervisor.
“Green, there better be a good fucking reason why you’re calling me at—” Silas’s superintendent started through the speaker of the phone.
“A ship crashed into the port,” Silas blurted.
“What?”
“A ship, some damn cargo ship. Large motherfucker.”
“Are you fucking with me?”
“No, I ain’t fucking with you, sir. A cargo ship crashed into the port, took a good-sized chunk out of our wharf too.”
“Was it on the manifest?”
“No—that’s what I’m saying. This ship ain’t supposed to be—”
A scream from outside on the dock jarred Silas from the phone.
“Julius, what the hell was that?”
“Green, what’s going on?” his superintendent asked, sounding more and more irritated.
Silence.
“Green?”
“Hold on, sir.” Silas set down the phone, ignoring the muffled protest from his superintendent on the line. He glared at the open door and crept toward it. There were no other sounds, and he didn’t like that one bit.
Stepping outside he called, “Julius?”
It was hard to see through the fog as it rolled across the walkway.
Silas squinted, peering through the gloom turned yellow by the glow of the dock lights. “Julius, what’s going on?” he called to the dark shape in front of him.
And then he heard it.
A sucking sound.
He stopped.
The dark shape unfolded.
The fog parted slightly, revealing a tall, bald woman with pale skin. Her eyes burned red. She was looking at him with an expression of mild satisfaction, the look of a thirsty soul finally getting a cup of water. She was holding Julius, cradling him almost as if they were dancing.
“Who are—” Silas started, until he saw her teeth, her large fanged front teeth, salivating in blood. He took a step back as she let Julius go. His body crumbled to the wet dock.
“No,” Silas managed to say, like a child refusing to go to bed.

And then she was upon him. 

About the Author:


Who doesn't love a good story? Thomas's favorite books include All Quiet on the Western Front, Salem's Lot, and Hell House.

In his own writings, he aspires to create fantastic worlds with memorable characters and haunted places. His stories range from Shakespearean gore, classic monster tales, and even stories that hurt him the most to write about, haunted soldiers and PTSD. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas's debut novel, Reinheit, was eventually published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, FEAST, Beautiful Ugly, and Planet of the Dead.

His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, filled with werewolves, Frankenstein-inspired monsters, cults, alter-dimensional insects, witches, and the undead are published with Limitless Publishing.

In 2008, Thomas was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He is the senior editor at Machine Mean, a site that reviews horribly awesome and vintage horror movies and books from guest contributors who obsess over a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics.






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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tangled Web by Gail Z. Martin


Tangled Web
Deadly Curiosities
Book Three
Gail Z. Martin

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: SOL Publishing

Date of Publication: May 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1939704719
ASIN: B07D1C6Y55

Number of pages: 242
Word Count: 73,000

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Tagline: Keeping Charleston—and the world—safe from supernatural threats one cursed object at a time!

Book Description:

Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curios shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them and along with her business partners Teag, who is a Weaver witch and Sorren, a 600-year-old vampire, they get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.

When zombies rise in Charleston cemeteries, dead men fall from the sky, and the whole city succumbs to the “grouch flu,” Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren suspect a vengeful dark witch who is gunning for Teag and planning to unleash an ancient horror. Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren—and all their supernatural allies—will need magic, cunning, and the help of a Viking demi-goddess to survive the battle with a malicious witch and an ancient Norse warlock to keep Charleston—and the whole East Coast—from becoming the prey of the Master of the Hunt.

Amazon      BN      Kobo      iTunes      Universal Link


Tangled Web – Chapter Two Excerpt

“So you brought an audience this time, Teag? I didn’t know our lessons were so entertaining.” Mrs. Teller gave me a big smile and hugged me tight. I got a hug from Niella, her daughter, as well. Mrs. Teller led us into a room she had repurposed as her studio and motioned for Teag and me to have a seat. Niella came in a few minutes later with a tray that held a pitcher of sweet tea and four glasses, and she put it on a side table.
“So are you here to see what this boy’s been up to, or are you thinking to learn some weaving yourself, huh?” Mrs. Teller fixed me with a gaze that seemed to see right down to my bones. She was in her late sixties, with short hair sprinkled with gray, mahogany skin that showed no signs of aging, and piercing black eyes. Niella took after her, in her looks, her lilting accent, and her talents.
“I think I’ve got enough with my touch magic,” I replied. “I’m leaving the Weaving to you.”
Mrs. Teller and Niella are some of the best sweetgrass basket makers in Charleston. They have a regular spot down at the Charleston City Market, and their baskets fetch high prices—for good reason. Not only are they true artists with a difficult craft, but Mrs. Teller’s Weaver magic gives a “little something extra” to all of her creations. Oh, and she’s also a damn fine Hoodoo worker, a Root woman of high regard.
Mrs. Teller laughed, a rich, throaty sound. “Let me know if you change your mind.”
I glanced up at Niella and thought she looked more tired than usual. “Have things been busier than usual?” I left it up to interpretation whether “things” meant the market or the Hoodoo.
“Well now, that’s a tale in itself,” Mrs. Teller said. Out of habit, she picked up an unfinished sweetgrass braid, and her fingers flew while she talked. Teag took down a half-woven basket of his own from a shelf and returned to sit next to me. Where Mrs. Teller’s muscle memory was born from more than a half-century of practice, enabling her to bend and twist the sharp dried grass without slicing up her fingers, Teag moved with careful caution. He’d learned the hard way, and I’d seen him come into the shop with fingers covered in bandages more than once.
“Fill us in,” I begged. Sharing information was essential for those of us in the supernatural community in Charleston, and Mrs. Teller ran in some circles that Teag and I usually weren’t part of.
“Trouble’s brewing,” Mrs. Teller said, and Niella settled into a chair beside her, picking up her own half-done basket to work while we talked. “People can feel it coming, like a storm over the ocean.” The sweet, earthy smell of the seagrass filled the air.
“What kind of trouble?” I asked. Teag’s focus was on his basket, and I knew he juggled both the complexity of working the stubborn grass, as well as the magic he channeled through the weaving. He might be listening, but he had too much going on to talk.
“Don’t know yet, that’s the truth of it,” she replied. Her Lowcountry accent rounded her vowels and softened her consonants, and added a musical quality that I found mesmerizing. “But it’s big. I feel that in my bones, and my bones don’t lie.”
I tried to track how she wove the sweetgrass, but her fingers practically blurred with the speed of experience. Even without handling the baskets, I knew they projected a calm, protective resonance that probably attracted buyers as much as the beauty of her craftwork. The baskets of hers that I owned were some of my favorite decorations because they always made me feel better being around them.
“Just a feeling, or have you seen something?” I pressed.
“What I’ve seen is people making a beeline to my door, asking me for gris-gris bags and goofer dust,” she said. “Folks be saying that they can’t sleep, or that they hear noises but nothing’s there, or they catch a glimpse of shadows out of the corner of their eye.” She shook her head. “Uh, uh,” she tutted. “That’s not good. Not good at all. So I fix them up best I can, show them how to put down the dust or put a dime in their shoe or fix their mojo bag and send them on their way, and the next day, I got twice as many people waiting for me, because they all told their friends.”
While the boom was good for business, I knew that whatever had people unnerved sounded like the kind of problem that landed in my lap, sooner or later. Sorren is part of the Alliance, a secret organization of mortals and immortals that take care of supernatural threats. He founded Trifles and Folly with my ancestor nearly three-hundred-and-fifty years ago, and our store is one of dozens Sorren has all over the world. The stores serve as outposts to get dangerous magical or haunted items out of circulation and shut down things that go bump in the night.
“What kind of bad dreams?” I asked, although I couldn’t resist a glance in Teag’s direction, but he never looked up from his work. “Is there a common thread?”
Mrs. Teller shrugged. “There’re all nightmares, for sure. Most people won’t speak of their dreams because they think saying it out loud gives the dreams power. Maybe so, maybe not. But the ones who would say told me they were being chased, in the dark, but they couldn’t see what was behind them. Except for red eyes.”
Teag didn’t say anything, but he swallowed hard, and his fingers paused for a few seconds.

I swallowed hard, too. “Yikes,” I managed. “Any idea what might cause that?”


About the Author:

Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Newest titles include Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, and Assassin’s Honor. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Books include Witchbane and Badlands.




Twitter: @GailZMartin



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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New Release - The Arena: A Tuck Houston Novel by October Weeks




***** New Release *****

The Arena
A Tuck Houston Novel
Book 3
October Weeks

Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

An ancient grudge. An ancient darkness. A slayer who will stop at nothing to put an end to both.

Book Description:

When her good friend Lucia DiGregorio calls her asking for help, slayer Tuck Houston immediately joins the hunt. Once she gets a hint of strigoi power at the scene of a slaughter, she understands exactly why Lucia called her in.

Shortly after that slaughter, Tuck realizes that the team is in a trap and none of them will be able to leave until the game is done. The gravity of the situation is made clear when they discover that the vampyr responsible holds an ancient grudge against Lucia’s family, and that the strigoi in league with the vampyr has his own plans for Tuck once the game is done.

But Tuck won’t make success easy for the vampyr or the strigoi. She will find a way to end the game … even if she has to die to do it.



Monday, October 8, 2018

Bad Blood by Shyla Colt



Bad Blood
Bad Duology 
Book One
Shyla Colt

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: 9/28

ASIN: B07G6TPBZ4

Number of pages: 230
Word Count: 53,317

Cover Artist: Dreams 2 Media

Tagline: He saved her life, and stole her Freedom

Book Description:

A reluctant knight

A magical descendent

A race against time

A freak accident thrusts Nakeeta Alva into a dangerous world of secrets, ancient spells, and a legacy she never wanted. The last in a magical line, she’s tasked with restoring the balance to a supernatural world poised for ruin.

Tasked with the care of their savior, Crewe’s main focus is survival. Used to giving orders, the knight isn’t prepared for the sassy witch’s mouth or her lure. The powerful woman reminded him of his humanity and challenged his beliefs.

Keeping her safe is his mission, but the real danger may be losing his heart.

Together, they will save the world … or die trying.

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Excerpt 2:
Humming pulled her from the void.
“Mama?” she croaked as she peeled open her eyes in response to the gentle voice and the light squeeze to her hand.
“My sweet child. That’s it. Let me see those pretty eyes, bug.”
The light was kinder to her retinas as she focused on the gently lined, oval-shaped face that was dear to her.
“Praise God,” her mother whispered. She stood and bent down, kissing her forehead. Her coarse curls tickled her face. Her nose twitched in response. Her mother smoothed her hair back from her face and sank back into her seat. Nakeeta smacked her lips.
“Let me get you some water.” Her mother hurried off as she acclimated herself with the waking world. How long have I been here? Her mother returned with a large, pink plastic cup with a straw. “Let’s get you sitting up.” Her mother hit the button and slowly pushed her up into an upright position.
“Better?”
“Yes,” she rasped.
“Here you are.” She held the cup out, and she wrapped her lips around a straw and sucked the cool water down her sore throat. The relief drew a hum from her throat. Pulling away, Keeta cleared her throat.
“I’m so sorry. Times run out,” her mother whispered.
“What are you talking about, Mom?” She furrowed her brow.
“We did our best to protect you, Keeta. Growing up we tried to keep you away from all things magical, but the power ran too deep. The spirits tried to tell me, but I was too stubborn to listen. You were my child, and I wanted the best for you. Your magic was a part of you that refused to be ignored or denied. So, we switched gears, tried to prepare you for what we knew would come, and hid you for as long as we could. I knew the moment I saw you and looked into your eyes you were the one our family had prophesied about.”
“Hid me from what?” Is this some sort of fever dream? Am I still in a comma?
“Everyone who would use you as a weapon.” Her mother’s whisper was full of sorrow and desperation.
“Use me? Mom, you’re not making any sense.” Exasperated, she huffed. Her body ached, and her head felt barely attached to her shoulders. A combination of the powerful medication and exhaustion that came from healing warped her perception. A hazy recollection of a dream tugged at her. What was I supposed to remember? Her brain protested the strain with a dull throbbing at her temples that stopped her from thinking too hard.
Her mother held her hand. “You’re different.”
“Yes, like our entire family is,” Keeta replied, unsure of what her mother wished to convey. She’d never been the type to beat around the bush before. Why hesitate now?
“Yes, but you have power. A scary amount of it. Things have always been drawn to you. Even with us cloaking you to dampen your light, it shone so brightly.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “We tried to do right by you, Keeta. Now I’m not sure we were right.”
“Mom, you’re scaring me.” Her voice warbled.
“Destiny will only be denied so long, baby. Yours is at hand.”
Her stomach knotted. The storm that had been threatening overhead was finally breaking.
“Our family is made up of more than powerful magic workers. We descend from a long lineage of gifted magical beings. It goes back further than you can imagine, and some of the spells created and cast changed the shape of the world as we know it.” She glanced around nervously. “I’m not sure how much time we have. You’re a part of a bigger plan, Keeta. The laws keeping humans safe are crumbling into themselves. You can help change that. I won’t tell you it’ll be easy, or comfortable, but it’s necessary. If I could take this burden from you, I would.” She shook her head. “But it wasn’t meant for me.”
“I don’t understand. What am I supposed to do? Why?” Keeta shook her head. She’d never seen her mother this distraught. Dark circles ringed her puffy red eyes. Regret and apprehension stiffened her muscles and turned her dark brown eyes nearly black.
“I want to tell you more.” Her mother bowed her head. Her mouth clamped shut as if it’d been glued together. “Mmm. Mmmm.” She struggled to speak. Her face turned purple.
“Mom?” She gripped the blankets hard and leaned forward. “Breathe!”
Her mother gasped, greedily sucking in air as her slender form trembled. Tears rolled down her face in a steady stream of salty water. “I can’t. God help me, I can’t.” Her anguished cries sliced at Keeta’s heart.
“You can’t what?” she whimpered, feeling her mother’s pain as her own.
Exasperated, her mother threw her hands into the air and shook her head so hard she thought she might strain a muscle. “T-the d-deal,” she stuttered, stumbling over her words 
“What deal?” Her stomach plummeted, and her heartbeat spiked. The monitors beeped nosily in response.
“The one she made to save your life,” a masculine voice answered from the doorway.
Her spine stiffened. The room felt too small. She shrank back against her pillow. His aura was dark and powerful. Nearly six-foot with pale blond hair, crystalline blue eyes, and cheekbones that could draw blood, he oozed strength and dominance.
Predator. He slammed against the wall, pinned into place. She gasped. Did I do that?
“Nakeeta!” her mother hissed.
She’d never been able to manifest her powers this way. She trembled. Images of the powerful medicine man and his words filled her brain. A headache burst through her head.
“Stop this,” her mother demanded.
I don’t know how. She wouldn’t share that weakness in front of this—
His eyes flashed red.
Vampire.
His thin, pink lips curved, revealing fangs. “Now she realizes. Because you are vulnerable and your brain is muddled, I will allow your impertinence to slide this once.” 

“What have you done, Mama?”

About the Author:

Shyla Colt is the sassy USA Today Bestselling author of the popular series Kings of Chaos and Dueling Devils M.C. This genre-hoppers stories feature three of her favorite things: strong females, pop culture, and alternate routes to happy ever after. Listening to her Romani soul, she pens from the heart, allowing the dynamic characters, eccentric interests, and travels as a former flight attendant to take her down untraveled roads.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, this mid-west girl is proud of her roots. She used her hometown and the surrounding areas as a backdrop for a number of books. So, if you're a Buckeye, keep an eye out for familiar places.

As a full-time writer, stay at home mother, and wife, there's never a dull moment in her household.

She weaves her tales in spare moments and the evenings with a cup of coffee or tea at her side and the characters in her head for company.

You can interact with Shyla Colt online


Twitter: @shylacolt



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