Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Sting of Victory by S D Simper- Haunted Halloween Spooktacular



The Sting of Victory
Fallen Gods
Book One
S D Simper

Genre: Adult Dark Romantic Fantasy (LGBT)

Publisher: Endless Night Publications

Date of Publication:  September 14th 2018

ISBN: 978-1-7324611-1-6

Number of pages: 400
Word Count:  102K

Cover Artist: Jade Mere

Tagline: The cost of love is always high.

Book Description:

“When faced with monstrosity, become the greater monster. The sting of victory will fade with time.”

When Flowridia, a witch granted power by an unknown demon, deceives an alluring foreign diplomat, she is promoted to a position of power to conceal her falsehood. Thrust into a world of politics and murderous ambition, she has her gentle heart and her Familiar to guide her – as well as a drunk Celestial with a penchant for illusion.

Meanwhile, Lady Ayla Darkleaf, Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha, smiles with predatory charm and wields her blades with a dancer’s grace. Flowridia falls into a toxic love affair, one she knows will end in heartbreak. But as Ayla’s legacy as a vampiric creature unfolds, Flowridia begins to see the broken woman behind the monster.

When a foreign emperor dies at the hands of a mysterious interloper, one who seeks to collect the greatest sources of power in the realms, Flowridia’s kingdom is charged to stop him. But Flowridia’s devotion becomes torn between duty to her own and the woman whose claws grip her heart.

In the ensuing clash of Gods, Flowridia must choose her loyalties with care – the fate of kingdoms rest in her hands.




Excerpt:

The next morning, twelve roses sat in a bouquet on her bedside table. Flowridia steadily blinked into wakefulness, smiling fondly in the dim morning light.
The scratching of a pen on paper alerted her to the presence beside her. She turned over, only to see Ayla sitting in her bed, legs under the covers. The lithe woman, still fully dressed and hair well-kempt, glanced down from the nondescript book in her hand. The other held a pen. “Good morning,” Ayla said, and she turned the book toward her.
Flowridia saw a detailed ink drawing of her own sleeping image, her breath leaving her as she studied the near-perfect likeness. Each individual strand of hair seemed ready to burst from the page, her lips glossy, and even the gentle blemishes of her face – her faint freckles and hints of scars – held a delicate beauty about them. A stunning image, and Flowridia felt heat color her cheeks.
This was how Ayla saw her. “It’s beautiful.”
“You can have it. I have others like it,” Ayla said, and she ripped the page from the book and leaned over to place it on Flowridia’s table. She set the book aside and slid down next to Flowridia and the little wolf who slept beside her.
“I didn’t expect you to be here,” Flowridia said softly, and when Ayla pressed their lips together, she smiled wide.
A vicious grin tugged at Ayla’s mouth as she pulled away. “What’s the worst Casvir can do? Kill me?” She chuckled and snaked her arms around Flowridia’s waist, keeping their bodies flush together. “Besides, I got carried away with drawing. After you fell asleep, I realized how peaceful you are to watch.”
An odd statement, and Flowridia raised an eyebrow. “I would have thought you already knew that, with how often you’d snuck into my bedroom.”
“Clever girl,” Ayla said, and she planted a kiss on Flowridia’s cheek.
Feeling brave, Flowridia dared to add, “And you have other drawings like it, you said?”
A wide and dangerous grin spread across Ayla’s face. “Most are from memory. But it’s been a long time since I’ve had as pretty a subject as you.”
Somewhere in the depths of Flowridia’s sense of self-preservation, she suspected she ought to object to this, yet this sudden change in Ayla’s decorum, while jarring, wasn’t unappreciated. Instead, she said, “How did you learn to draw so well?”
Ayla chuckled. “When you’ve lived as many centuries as I have, you pick up a few hobbies.” Her hand moved up to stroke Flowridia’s hair, her neck, and as she traced down, Ayla flinched at the scar. She glanced down and leaned in to place a kiss at the top, above the collar of Flowridia’s dress. “Give it time. It will fade.”
By Flowridia’s side, the small wolf stirred, perhaps awakened by their conversing. In clumsy motions, Demitri approached Ayla, even as she leaned away, visibly wary.
“It’s all right if you touch him,” Flowridia said, smiling softly. “You don’t need my permission; only his.”
In tentative motions, Ayla offered a hand forward, but Demitri ignored it. Instead he settled into Ayla’s lap, curling into a ball while she kept her hands up, oddly stiff.
But before Flowridia could comment, Ayla lowered her hands, letting one settle onto Demitri’s back with a quiet smile.
Flowridia watched them fondly, the peaceful scene warming her tender heart. “Ayla, last night . . .” Her breath hitched when Ayla glanced up. “I shouldn’t have told you to leave. I’m sorry.”
Ayla held her gaze, her smile fading as she shook her head. “We both said terrible things.” When she returned her attention to Demitri, Flowridia knew Ayla would say nothing more.
“You mentioned something else,” Flowridia dared to push. When she hesitated, Ayla reached over to cup her cheek, softness returning to the vampiric woman’s expression. “Are you The Endless Night?”
“Oh, Flowra,” Ayla said, amusement in her words. “I promise, I am no demon.” She scattered kisses across Flowridia’s forehead, and with each one Flowridia felt her body relax. A firm kiss pressed against her lips. “No need to worry yourself.”
Ayla said nothing more, instead continuing those sweet gestures. Each kiss brought a deeper blush to her cheeks until, giggling, Flowridia dove in to return the favor. Their lips met, and when her tongue parted Ayla’s lips, she reveled in the soft moan her cold companion released.
With an apology, she sent Demitri away. Alone with Ayla, Flowridia savored every unmapped curve of her body, before finally settling at the valley between her legs. Bitterness, she discovered, was the sweetest taste of all. Ayla’s pleasure rose with the sun.





About the Author:


S D Simper has lived in both the hottest place on earth and the coldest, spans the employment spectrum from theater teacher to professional editor, and plays more instruments than can be counted on one hand. She and her wife share a home with their two cats and innumerable bookshelves.






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.

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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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