Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Journeys of a Different Necromancer by James J Crofoot

The Journeys of a Different Necromancer
The Locked Door Series
Book One
James J Crofoot

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Date of Publication: August 2, 2020
Number of pages: 100
Word Count:  20k

Book Description: 

Thomas wanted to learn to read and write things only Xavier the Necromancer could teach. But Thomas learned much more. He learned to raise the dead. Then, with his knowledge, he set out for the distant sea. 

Along the way, he made an army, encountered a dragon, and fought thieves by the score. But, could he continue to use the knowledge Xavier gave? Could he hold to his teacher's views that all people were self-centered, greedy, and jealous of him for being so much better? 

Could he return to the obsidian tower to live a life where the world was locked out, where his teacher had kept all life away to simply be left alone? Where no one ridiculed and beat him for being different? Could he return to a life where only the undead, his risen, kept him company?


“I was with Xavier,” Thomas replied. With head bowed, he stared at his stew, sensing he would not be allowed to eat.

“Who?” His mother’s voice. Her angry, high-pitched voice.

Thomas looked up at his father to see a pipe halfway to a gaping mouth. “Xavier, you know, he lives in the tower. He wants to teach me to read and write. He wants me to be his apprentice.”

His mother sat down and stared at him.

“He’s got lots of books, scores of them. He showed me a book with lots of animals in it.”

His da sat back in his chair, silent. His mum folded her hands in her lap, also silent.

“Think of it,” Thomas continued excitedly. “Think of the things I could do if I could read. I could go and work for the prince in Targon, I could see the whole kingdom.”

“Go to bed, Thomas,” Da said.

The boy gazed down at his untouched food. It smelled good and looked even better, but his father had spoken. Thomas got up and climbed the ladder to his loft. Deep into the night, even after his parents stopped their whispered arguing, he lay in bed thinking of the map Xavier had shown him of the kingdom. He would find a way. He would be…what word had Xavier used? Necromancer. He would be a necromancer and he would see the whole kingdom.

* * * *

In the morning, Thomas awoke to the smell of porridge. Having had no dinner the night before, he hurried down the ladder. There he found his da already eating. His mum ladled his share into a bowl and then got some for herself.

“We’ve decided you may learn to read and write. None of that dark stuff, though. You hear? No digging up of graves,” his da said. “We want more for your life, Thomas. Now then, what does this friend of yours want in return? We can’t afford to pay anything. I suppose he mentioned a price.”

Thomas looked at his mum as she sat down. She folded her hands in her lap and remained quiet.

“He said it would cost nothing. He just wants someone to teach. Xavier said he’s getting old and just wants someone to pass on some of ’is…” Thomas paused trying to remember the word. “…knowledge.”

Da wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Then we’ll give it a try. Only til ’arvest, though. You’ll be needed in the fields then. Anything after that and we’ll see.”

A month and a half, Thomas thought excitedly. I have a month and a half!

“No good will come of this,” his mum remarked. “Mark my words, that man never did any good for anyone.”

Thomas finished his breakfast in a gulp and got up to run from the house. He stopped just outside the door to pick up his favorite stick and heard his da say, “I want better for him, Sonya. This life is no life for my son. He’s smarter than this.”

* * * *

A month passed and Thomas studied. He studied geography; the world turned out to be a lot bigger than he imagined. He learned arithmetic, how to count to a thousand. Then moved on to reading and writing, eight to nine hours a day he went through the books and scrolls. On the second and third floors of the tower stood skeletons of various animals, there he learned science, anatomy, and biology.

The fourth floor, however, Xavier said he needed to learn a good deal more before being ready for that.

“The villagers are shunning me,” he said to Xavier one day after learning the word. “They whisper about me whenever I pass. Even my friends. Yesterday I waved to them and started walking, to tell them what I was learning, and they turned their backs and ran away.”

Xavier looked up from the book he held. “People, for the most part, are very small-minded. They shun what they do not understand or things that are different.”

“Was that the way it was with you when you first started studying to be a necromancer?”

“People always thought me to be a little different. Look, Thomas, you will see more, you will do more, than they can imagine in their empty heads. You will learn to create life from death.”

Thomas thought about these words for some time. He wanted to do more than just plant and harvest. He wanted to travel this world, especially the sea to the west, to see more than just this tiny village too small for a name. He decided he liked being different. He was already learning more than they ever would. Did not that make him better?

About the Author:

James J Crofoot started working at 11 years old and never stopped. He’s been a sailor in the U.S. Navy, worked in video tape production, made money investing in stocks, and traveled throughout the US as a truck driver and an army brat. He’s been to all four corners of the US and to the top of every major mountain range in the United States. 

Through it all, writing has been his first love, companion, and constant friend. He has so many stories to tell, he plans to spend the rest of his life writing. 

Born in Germany he currently resides in the "Great Mitten" that is Michigan. He resides with his insane family consisting of his sister, two spoiled but loving nieces, a brother in law, and two dogs.

He hopes you’ll enjoy his books while sipping tea, coffee, or cocoa on a rainy day.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The House of the Wolf by Alison Baird

The House of the Wolf
The Werewolves of Quebec 
Book One
Alison Baird

Genre:  Paranormal, Werewolf
Publisher:  Salon Books
Date of Publication:  2017
ISBN: 0969803168
ASIN:  978-0-9698031-6-4
Number of pages:  426
Word Count:  131, 320
Cover Artist:  Y. Nikolova 

Tagline:  The wolf within is the greatest danger of all.

Book Description:

In the barren arctic, a white wolf journeys alone across the tundra. All his life he has dreamed of the strange creatures called humans that dwell far to the south –– creatures that wolf lore says have an ancient mystical kinship with his own species. Abandoning his pack, he sets out to make contact with human beings and learn the truth.  

In the state of Vermont, a young girl embarks on her own journey of self-discovery. 18-year-old Chantal Boisvert never knew her parents, and she is determined to learn more about them –– especially her French Canadian father, who died in mysterious circumstances. 

When she arrives in the province of Quebec the wealthy Boisvert family gives Chantal a seemingly warm and loving welcome. But then strange and sinister things start to happen. 

Why do her relatives slip away into the forest after sundown?  Why does she keep dreaming at night of being a wolf running in the wild?  Who is the attractive pale-haired boy who keeps turning up, and why do he and his friends seem so concerned for her safety?

Could it possibly be true that the Boisverts are loups garous –– werewolves?


It was the wolves that woke her.

At some indeterminate point between sleep and waking she became conscious of a sound.  It insinuated itself subtly and delicately first into her ears, and then her mind, becoming part of her dreams: a sound she had never heard before, composed of multiple high-pitched cries.  She visualized these in her head as intertwining silver threads, weaving in and out of the darkness as if it were a backing of black velvet: each strand clear and shimmering and pure.  They reminded her of birdsong or whale-music.  But birds and whales are solitary singers: this was a whole chorus of ethereal voices raised, not in perfect harmony, but in a kind of counterpoint.  One voice would begin, soft and low, rising to a thin quaver; then the rest would join in.  Trying drowsily to analyze what she was hearing, Chantal moved at last from fragmented semi-consciousness into full waking awareness.

Wolves – it’s a wolf pack!

She had never heard wolves howl in the wild, only in movies where the sound effect used was a single long wail like a lonely dog’s.  Never had she imagined anything like this.  The sound was beautiful, but also unearthly.  She had heard of things that could make one’s hair stand on end; as she listened, she swore she could actually feel the fine hairs on her arms and the nape of her neck pricking up.  It must be her imagination though, for the odd sensation extended even to where she had no hair, on her cheeks and the backs of her hands and along her spine.  She alternately shivered as though cold, and then flushed as if with a fever.  Opening her eyes, she saw the moon at the window: full, round, tinged with gold; a “hunter’s moon”. 

Springing out of bed, she went to the window and opened it, letting in the chill night air.  She breathed it in, in deep hungry gulps.  But she still felt sweaty and flushed.  She tore off her pants and tee shirt and tossed them aside.  Now the night breeze blew upon her entire body, and her hot prickling skin responded to its icy caress as if to a physical touch.  A brief giddiness made her reel and clutch at the windowsill for support.  Chantal looked down at her hands resting on the sill. 

But they were no longer hands. 

They had become two grey-brown furred limbs ended in broad, clawed pads. It was the fur that made her feel so hot, she realized.  Her tongue lolled, panting, from her mouth, its soft length spilling over teeth and jaws that now had a different shape…

With understanding came not fear, but relief and joy.  She was not feverish after all, nor was she in any kind of danger.  This was obviously just a dream.  She would wake from it soon, as she did from every dream, and then everything would be all right.  But now the wolf-voices called again, and the dream-body she wore yearned for the freedom of the outdoors, for the cool scent-laden air and the exhilaration of running through the forest.  She glimpsed indistinct, shadowy shapes flitting through the blackness under the trees, and eyes like glimmering stars turned towards her in invitation.

In one light easy motion, Chantal sprang out of the window and into the night.


About the Author:

Alison Baird is the award-nominated author of numerous novels for both adult and young adult readers, including The Dragon's Egg (Scholastic Canada), White as the Waves (Tuckamore Books), The Hidden World, The Wolves of Woden, and the Willowmere trilogy (Penguin Canada), and The Dragon Throne trilogy (Warner Books). Baird has also published numerous works of short fiction in Canadian magazines and anthologies.  She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Heart of Salt and Silver by Elexis Bell

A Heart of Salt and Silver
Elexis Bell

Genre: Dark supernatural high fantasy romance

Date of Publication: 11/3/2020

Cover Artist: Elexis Bell 

Tagline: With eternity on the line, is love worth the risk?

Book Description: 

Ness, a demi-demon with a conscience, just wanted a peaceful afternoon in the Forest of Immortals. But Elias, a reckless mortal, went and spoiled it. Not that he wanted to be chased by psychotic vampires.

After saving his life, Ness agrees to help him find his estranged father and his Pack. But that means facing Nolan, the werewolf ex that holds her heart.

Now, Ness must decide. Use Elias to forget Nolan at the cost of his soul or crawl back to her ex and hope he still wants her even though she broke his heart.

But in a world sprinkled with immortals, broken hearts might be the least of their worries.

Fans of gritty fiction, compelling romance, and imaginative takes on magic and the afterlife will love this dark supernatural high fantasy romance.

Excerpt 2:

With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.

Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.

The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.

“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.

But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.

“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.

Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?

I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.

Either way, there’s nothing he can do.

“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”

His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.

“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.

Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.

Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.

My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.

“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”

I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.

“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.

Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.

Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.

From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…

My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.

Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”

Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?

About the Author: 

Elexis Bell is a quiet nerd with too many hobbies, including everything from gaming to shower-singing and even archery, weather permitting. She specializes in sarcasm and writing stories that make people feel. She's made a home for herself with her husband, their dog, and a small army of cats.

She writes dark, gritty stories, sprinkling gut-wrenching emotions over high fantasy romance, thrillers, post-apocalyptic romance, and science fiction.

For further information, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, or check out her blog on her website.











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Monday, November 9, 2020

Bewitching Book Tours Holiday Sale


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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Interview with Freida Kilmari #authorinterview

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full time author?

I am an editor. So if I’m not reading or writing books, I’m editing them. I exclusively freelance, and have been doing so from the beginning of my career in 2017, when I graduated from Plymouth University, UK, and decided that working for myself, building a business, and owning my work-life balance was the right path for me. I’m quite an independent person, and I love the business side, as well as connecting with other authors, reading genres I love for a living (fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and poetry), and having more control over my life. 

- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?

Anxiety, Ice Cream, and Me. 

I’ve suffered from anxiety attacks and panic attacks for as long as I can remember, though I didn’t fully understand what they were when I was younger, and if I ever wrote an autobiography, I’d love to paint a more accurate picture of living with an anxiety disorder, since a lot of people confuse feeling anxious with having anxiety, and it tends to lead to people assuming having anxiety isn’t that big of a deal. But it can really impede your life and control your choices if you let it. 

- What is the hardest and best thing about being an author?

Being an author doesn’t feel like hard work. It certainly has its moments. But it’s an amazing privilege. Writing is something I love doing, and I can’t not come up with stories, worlds, and characters—it’s something my brain does naturally—so writing them down just sounded like fun. As it turns out, I love words, too, and have a penchant for messing with style and readability and tone while trying to provide the best effect for the reader. For example, my latest release, The Fifth Horseman, uses first person present tense as a way to provide a stream-of-consciousness style, since the main character doesn’t have a name or remember who they are. 

- What book changed your life?

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. This was the first real book I read after I got out of the Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson phase, and I instantly fell in love with the words floating off the page and into my imagination, the fantastical story, and the beautiful characters. It was both thrilling and beautiful, and I remember falling apart at the ending of the final book (no spoilers here), which likely fueled my love of emotional endings. This books started my love of reading, my obsession over words and how to construct them to provide more meaning that original definition, and complex, in-depth characters. I wouldn’t be a writer, editor, or reader if not for this series. 

- What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I already mentioned His Dark Materials, but I’m also a huge Harry Potter nerd, loved Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine, and am still obsessed with the Skullduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy. They’re so much fun!

- What books are currently in your to be read pile?

My TBR pile is out of control. Seriously, I need help! I have the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead that I still haven’t read, despite having owned them for a number of years. I’m also dying to dig into the latest Not Quite book in Kaye Draper’s series, try out Tate James’s Arbon Academy trilogy, and delve into the foray that is Brandon Sanderson by trying the Mistborn series as a good starting place. 

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audio books?

I don’t like audiobooks; they just aren’t for me. I prefer my own pace and reading voice. But I read both ebooks and print books. I collect books and currently have around 400 on my shelves, but I spend a lot of time reading ebooks due to the cheaper costs, authors typically earning more from them, and the ease of access. Typically, I read the ebooks, and if I liked it, I buy it in paperback. This cuts down the number of paperbacks I have to buy, as I only buy ones I’ve already liked. Unless they have a pretty cover, then I’ll just them anyway. 

- If you could live inside the world of a book or series which world would it be and why?

Lots of the worlds I read about are quite horrific places, and I don’t think I’d like many of them. But I’m torn between the Wizarding World and Narnia. I like the idea of learning to do magic and living in a world as imaginative as Harry Potter (so long as you’re not friends with Harry Potter himself, as then you might end up in danger), but I also like the childlike nature of Narnia, the beauty of that world, and the total lack of realism and believability. It would be like living in a dream. 

The Fifth Horseman
The Horseman’s Harem Saga 
Book One
Freida Kilmari

Genre: Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Kilmari Publishing
Date of Publication: October 31st 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9993472-3-9
Number of pages: 458
Word Count: 120,000 words

Cover Artist: Covered Creatively

Tagline: No name. No past. One giant future?

Book Description: 

The only thing worse than suddenly waking up in a magical house with the insanely gorgeous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Being the Fifth.

With no memory of who I am, where I came from, or what I’m doing here, I’m thrust into a new life with four people who I might want more from than just friendship. But with no past, how can I possibly plan for a future?

The only clue as to who I am? Four different species' magic resides within me—Vampire, Fae, Shifter, and Witch—and between them, I might be the most powerful creature on the planet.

For fuck's sake.

Look out world, Horseman of Magic coming through!


Excerpt 3

The patience she’s using and the time she’s taking are killing me. I’m a bundle of nerves and heat and molten puddles, and I’m pretty sure I will have to take a cold shower after this.

She’s really going to kiss me. She leans closer to my face, but then she pulls back, looking down at me with a genuinely curious smile and whispers, “You’re beautiful.”

I can’t take my eyes off of her pink lips, wondering when they will reach mine. Impatience bubbles closer to the surface, and before I know it, the need to kiss this beautiful woman overtakes every rational thought, and I grab a fistful of her pajama top and yank her face to mine.

Our lips connect, and that tingling sensation her every touch has caused since I got here explodes throughout my body, making me want to feel every inch of her smooth skin against mine.

Her lips move slowly with mine, in tandem with my uncertainty, but that insecurity flies farther out the window as the seconds tick by, and her lips press harder against mine. I want more—more of her, of our lips together, of her breathes mingling with mine—and a frenzied urgency fills me as I crash harder into her, nipping her bottom lip open in a gasp.

She rips my hands off of her thighs and yanks them above my head, pinning me beneath her.

Her lips steel everything from me—my breath, my rationality, my worry over whether this is a good idea—and I meet her with equal fervor. Her hips shift against mine, and I can’t help but respond. I wiggle my fingers free from her grip, return them to her thighs, and inch my fingers closer to the edge of her shorts, feeling her skin cool against the heat of my touch.

She groans against my mouth and breaks away, gasping for breath, and whispers, “Fuck. I’ve wanted to do that since our moment in your closet.” 

About the Author:

Freida Kilmari is an author, writer, and editor residing in south-west England, who loves all things fiction. She has a passion for fantasy, romance, science-fiction, and poetry that runs her life, from her career to her passions. 


Interview- Secret Spirit Guardians of Santa Fe by C.A. Masterson

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full-time author?

I worked for many years in media-related jobs, but ten years ago stopped working to raise my two oldest grandboys. They’re now in middle school, so I’ve started taking temp jobs. But I’ve always treated writing as a business, and my most important job.

- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?

Plot Twist! Lol There’ve been lots of twists and unexpected turns, as I’m sure everyone can relate. Especially this year!

- What is the hardest thing about being an author?

Finding the time to write, and a quiet place to concentrate.

- What is the best thing about being an author?

The thrill from writing a great story, and getting to know the characters as they flesh out and become real.

- Have you ever been starstruck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it?  

Yes! I went to a book signing by Margaret Atwood, one of the literary icons I consider a rock star. I could hardly speak, just muttered my name and handed her the book to sign.

- What book changed your life?

All of Ray Bradbury’s stories. His imagination and enthusiasm still inspire me.

- What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other such fantasies really opened up new worlds for me, and showed me that adults could still enjoy fairytale-like stories.

- What books are currently in your to be read pile?

Wow, so many they don’t all fit in one stack, but in many teetering piles. From fantasies likeV.E. Schwab’s Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons, to more serious literary books such as Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys and catching up on Richard Russo’s latest. I’ve had a terrible time reading during this year’s lockdown – I just can’t concentrate long enough. 

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audiobooks?

I honestly love them all. Ebooks are great for travel, audiobooks are great for the car. At home, print books are everywhere.

If you could live inside the world of a book or series which world would it be and why?

Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic books, I think. Her premise that love can heal almost anything rings true to me.

Thanks so much for having me at Paranormalists today!

Secret Spirit Guardians of Santa Fe
C.A. Masterson  

Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication:  October 5, 2020
ISBN:  978-1-5092-3351-9 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5092-3352-6 Digital
Number of pages:  330
Word Count:  82,600
Cover Artist:  Debbie Taylor

Tagline:  Most families have quirks, but not like Marissa’s.

Book Description:

After Marissa Tahy returns home to Santa Fe, she is haunted by visions and glimpses of danger no one else sees: the spirit of Old Man Gloom in his true form. 

For a hundred years, people have burned their troubles in the spirit’s effigy at the Zozobra festival, each year making the spirit angrier and more powerful.  This year, Old Man Gloom demands his due. The vengeful spirit targets those Marissa loves. 

Even when Marissa discovers the secret history binding her family to Zozobra, joining their forces may not be enough to prevent the furious spirit from burying Santa Fe beneath an avalanche of misery.

Book Trailer: 

Amazon     BN


The crack between worlds happened before I decided to move home to Santa Fe. Had the thought occurred to me, I’d probably have laughed, a little. Until the memory pushed through, a half-remembered nightmare hidden in an undercurrent of emotion, but

always there, flowing beneath the surface of consciousness. Sometimes it’s better if those feelings stay buried, where they can’t pull you under.

After twenty-four years, here I was. Back in the City Different. Because sometimes, life makes hard choices for you. Otherwise, I’d still be in San Diego, not in my aunt’s house, trying hard to pretend I wasn’t a stranger to my own family. For the last half hour, I’d tried to shake off the odd sensation after Zelda made an impromptu, awkward stop at the site of my childhood home, whatever that was about. No longer commenting

on family social media posts from a distance, instead I was in the thick of things.

“How’s Javi been?” I asked Zelda. My aunt had answered my offer to help prepare dinner by handing me a glass of wine and telling me to relax, she had it under control. I had no doubt. Despite driving me from the airport, she was as cool as a freshly picked jalapeno, and as likely to burn you.

“Wonderful. But you can ask him yourself at dinner.” Her deep, distinctive voice was like smoke pouring across gravel.

“Cool, I can’t wait.” When I’d last spent time with my cousin, we’d been kids. Closer than most first cousins, we shared a family conspiracy, hoping none of our classmates would find out that we were not like any of them. No matter where we went, we didn’t belong.

Zelda’s silver bracelets jingled as she briskly arranged vegetables around haddock fillets. “Phoebe will be excited to see you again.”

“You still have her?”

“Of course. She’s as old as you, which makes her barely middle-aged. Phoebe, dear,” she called, “we have company.”

A squawk sounded from the other room, where sunshine poured across the floor in a welcoming sea of light.

I’d always loved my aunt’s house. From sunup to sundown, daylight flooded through the house’s tall windows. The wood-framed stucco structure was a typical style for Santa Fe, not much different from the others in the neighborhood. What had stood out in my

memory was the tall wooden fence that bordered the yard, painted a vivid shade of blue, with myriad crosses along the top of the front gate.

“Careful,” Zelda said. “She’s testy sometimes.”

“Aren’t we all?” I only half joked.

Before my aunt could answer, I made my way from the kitchen to the sunroom beside it. The glass enclosure looked out onto the back yard and faced the outdoor fireplace. On either side of the tall chimney, colorful painted angels decorated its white stucco surface.

The bird cage, as tall as me, occupied a corner. And as always, the door sat wide open so Phoebe could climb in if she wanted, which she almost never did unless she got hungry. A bamboo perch ran above the cage, between the two potted palm trees that provided shade. There Phoebe sat, eyeballing me. Sunlight caught the green and blue feathers, making their colors rich as jewels.

At my approach, the parrot bobbed its head and danced along the perch. Even a nip from Phoebe’s curved beak hurt like hell, so I kept a few feet between us and cooed my greeting.

Pans rattled in the kitchen. “Be nice, Phoebe girl.”

The bird gave no indication of recognizing me. I didn’t know why I’d expected a different reaction. Because I’d taught it more than fifty words, over two decades earlier? Moving home shouldn’t reduce me to childish notions.

So much for a reunion. I returned to the kitchen.

“Sure I can’t help with anything?”

“When do you start your new job?”

“Monday.” Fluttering in my belly reminded me it was coming up fast. Another long adjustment period awaited me, learning a new job, getting to know all the quirks and qualities of my coworkers. After I’d been hired as the new reporter at the Santa Fe Chronicle, I’d read the online edition every day. The stories helped give me a sense about the writers. Glimmers of their personalities shone through in their word choices, the nearly undetectable spin they gave topics.

“That doesn’t leave you much time for moving in.”

Spooning a marinade over the dish, Zelda flicked up her gaze.

The look hit me like lightning. The cogs were turning in my aunt’s head; I could practically see the rotation behind her eyes. If I didn’t put her off track, Zelda would start commandeering my daily life.

I folded my arms and shifted toward the island, a not-too-subtle body language indicating my need for a barrier between us. “The two guys I hired to bring my stuff are supposed to arrive tomorrow morning. I don’t have much, so they can get everything inside the apartment in a few hours. I prefer to take my time settling in.” All taken care of, my subtext said. No need for Zelda to worry. She could divert those black eyes elsewhere.

On cue, Zelda flashed her Mona Lisa smile and glanced away. “Too bad I gave my extra furniture to Javi.”

I watched my aunt with a mixture of wonder and frustration. All these years, and Zelda still pretended. Spoke with flawless Spanish enunciation, wore her long black hair in a bun at the back of her neck, decorated her house with painted ceramic geckos and metal sun faces, even named her son Javier to avoid question of our true nationality. My parents had committed the same sins of omission and pretense and expected us children to do the same.

About the Author 

Award-winning author C.A. Masterson loves stories of any genre. Multi-published in contemporary to historical, fantasy/dark fantasy to paranormal/speculative, she sometimes mashes genres. In 2010, The Pearl S. Buck Foundation awarded first place to her short literary story, Christmas Eve at the Diner on Rathole Street. Her short literary story, All is Calm, All is Bright, was awarded second place in the annual Pennwriters Short Story contest in 2005.

Visit her at or look for her romance stories as Cate Masters at and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.



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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Author Interview - The Curse of the Mountain by Tyler Cram #horror

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full-time author?

I teach music to kids! I am hoping to teach high school shortly, I feel like that’s a way to give to your community.

- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?

“Please Don’t Tickle My Grief Bone: The Tyler Cram story”

- What is the hardest thing about being an author?

The hardest thing about being an author is finding your voice. It’s easy to copy the way other authors write but finding your own voice is the most important thing. Weaving your personality into the way you connect your words is what keep people from being a good writer. Don’t just hop on the thesaurus. Write meaningful prose.

- What is the best thing about being an author?

Having someone quote your words. That’s the craziest feeling ever.

- Have you ever been starstruck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it? 
I’ve never met a celebrity in my entire life. Nobody wants to come to Tampa I suppose!

- What book changed your life?

Stephen King’s ‘Salem's Lot. The writing is artistic and beautiful. I’ll always be thankful for that man.

- What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Whenever I was reading it was always a graphic novel. Then I discovered the Jurassic Park novel and it was all sci-fi from there!

- What books are currently in your to be read pile?

Number one on the list is Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix! Then onto Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. 

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audiobooks?

Print all the way! Nothing beats that smell.

- If you could live inside the world of a book or series which world would it be and why?

Ooooooh. That’s tough. I would have to say The Dark Tower. There’s some really cool stuff in those books that are exciting. The best part of it though is that it’s basically an evil old western. Which is just amazing.

I love these questions! Thank you so much for having me!

The Curse of the Mountain
Tyler Cram

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Darkstroke books
Date of Publication: October 27, 2020
Number of pages:236
Word Count: 76K
Cover Artist:Laurence Patterson

Tagline: Death stalks a town. An ancient evil. A long-buried secret.

Book Description:

A young officer responding to a call in the middle of the night about chickens being slaughtered turns into a night of reckoning when a deadly creature emerges from the woods. 

Years later, while on a hike in the North Carolina wilderness, four friends discover an old book. When they open it, they black out – only to find on waking that they have released the evil things that live within the pages. 

As they fight to keep their neighbors from dying, they unravel a dark secret that the leaders of their town have held since their ancestors first settled. 

But can the boys really stop the devil?


Roanville’s entire existence was archaic. Nothing was truly that modern there. The town was built on small businesses, a community full of people betting on themselves and their local companions. It was a logging community in the 1800s, it wasn’t a sweet place to live; it only existed to make a living. Slowly it crept its way up through time and modernity to be sustainable for all family types, but it still had trouble catching up. The locals joked that the slogan for their lonesome town should have been ‘The town that time forgot’. There were still pay phones in the city that were frequently used. The police and fire department shared a building because the cost of running both in separate buildings would’ve crippled the town. There were only four cops on the force, the Chief, Frank Gilmore alongside his deputies: Bradley Fine, a lazy native who was ready to retire at the age of forty. Garrett Brock, a stable and smart man around the same age as Brad. Brock was Frank’s right-hand man because of his dedication to the job. He served papers, and wasn’t afraid to give people he knew speeding tickets. The most important thing to Brock was that he needed to get paid. The police force worked off a ticket quota system. Brock held no prisoners. The newest addition to the team was Sarah Mann.

A few years ago, Sarah got a call from the outskirts of town. The trailer park, ‘Disneyland’, as it was called by the denizens, was the source of drugs in Roanville. It was constantly surveyed by the cops.

The caller said someone had been killing the chickens that the Quinn family owned, butchering them once a month since the beginning of the year. Sullivan Quinn didn’t even entertain the thought of someone else doing it. He knew it was his neighbor Ichabod Turner. Ichabod had a loose grasp on the English language. He was seventy-five and was skin and bone, Sarah thought he looked like a skeleton from a Halloween store. He had a yellow-stained beard and long grey frizzy hair. His eyes were sunken and his face was drawn.

He spoke as if there was a marble on his tongue. “Da… Sully… he, uh, he say it wah me ’cus I ain’t never wen to he granpappy fun’ral back een March. I say to Sully ‘daggom, boy, da’worl don’t stop for nobody granpappy, not even yours’ well… he don’t like dat much so he been plannin’ a war and dat boy, daggom, he try’na get me arrested… sheeeeit,” he explained to Officer Sarah Mann when she went down to mediate the situation.

It was night when she talked to them. She got called down because one of Sullivan’s chickens was shrieking, and when he went to go look on the side of his double-wide trailer where his coop was, its innards had been tossed around like dripping scarlet streamers. The fresh red blood hadn’t yet permeated the loose dirt.

He looked over across the street and saw the light inside Ichabod’s house flick off suddenly. Sullivan began to bang on the door, threatened to grab his .44 and shoot his way in. Ichabod called the Sheriff’s office. When Sarah arrived, Sully was pacing in front of Ichabod’s trailer with a revolver in his hand, Sarah jumped out of her patrol vehicle and yelled, “Put the goddamn gun down, Sullivan!”

“He killed my chickens! Every month, massacred! He did it, Sarah!” He was Standing in baggy jean shorts and a stained white tank top, pointing his gun at the house. Sullivan was a tall, skinny guy who had trouble with pills. He worked the lumberyard and a log fell off a pile and broke his leg, snapped like a twig, the bone protruded from his skin and was shattered in multiple places, nearly having to get it amputated. He got hooked on painkillers shortly thereafter. He was thirty, but the labor and drugs aged him. He used to be a hirsute young man, always kept his thick, golden hair shoulder length, and stayed clean shaven. Now he was nearly bald save for some patches, and had a scuzzy, holey black beard, speckled with blond and red strands that were so long off his chin he looked like a goat.

“Drop the gun, Sullivan, or I will be forced to pull mine out as well,” she yelled, her words weaved through the alleys between the trailers. She had her hand fixed on her Glock 17 attached to her hip.

Sullivan dropped the gun to his side. “Just get him out here so you can arrest him,” He said condescendingly.

Sarah walked to Ichabod’s front door, her eyes never leaving Sullivan. She was born and raised in Raleigh and ended up going to North Carolina State University. She had no extracurricular activities, no significant other. The idea of being a police officer took all of her time and thought. Frank found her by chance when he visited the Raleigh NCSU campus to meet with a friend that happened to be her Professor. She was in his office when Frank came in. He offered her a job by the end of the conversation. She was twenty-two years old, even in a small town she was making sixty thousand a year. Many scholarships through the state for women in policing gave her some extra bumps. Now she had been with the Chief for about four years and was sick of all the hick bullshit she had to deal with. A feud over killing chickens? What happened to my life? Now she was a cantankerous, young cop in a trailer park.

She banged on Ichabod’s door, the way only a cop can. He swung it open immediately. She led him into the middle of the trailer park’s road underneath a yellow-orange mercury streetlight. There was one every fifty feet, and in between each post was pitch darkness. As soon as someone would step out of the ten-foot diameter light beam, they would be completely gone.

Sarah asked, “Sullivan, what makes you think Ichabod did this?” She started writing in her notebook.

“He has had a vendetta against my family for some time now, Sarah. He didn’t go to my grandfather’s funeral a few months back and they were best friends,” he said politely, with a southern drawl.

“Now das just boolshit… Aaron hated my guts, boy, he tol me a few week back ‘fore he died dat he hated me for my, uh, demeanor or some shit. Dat I was jus too nasty and he didn’t wan to be seen wit me. But let me tell you bof dat he was nastier den a hooker lickin’ a frog to find her prince charmin’ ’cause he sexed he goddamn cousin… I caught him, too, in the back of his old pick-up back by route one-one-six, where da, uh, post office is. Dats why he hate me, boy.”

Sarah tried to understand what he was saying. She had never heard him uppity the few times she interacted with him. She stopped writing down what he was saying halfway through his aside.

“Don’t you fuckin’ slander my dead grandfather, you dirty shit,” Sullivan gritted through his words.

“Hey, Shut it, both of you,” Sarah said, looking up from her notebook, then back down again to write.

“How would I slaughter dem chickies, boy? I look like a serial killer to you?” Ichabod said, pulling on the length of his tarnished beard.

“Yeah, you really do. The guts were thrown out of them, Officer, and I think this man is sick enough to do it. I saw him standing and pissing off of Arthur Scott’s truck going seventy miles an hour on the highway coming into town,” Sullivan said, thinking that would be the final blow. She didn’t even look up and mumbled, “I expect nothing less from this town.”

“It’s a damn dog doin dis shit, I’m tellin’ ya’s. Couple miles down da road, that farmer, uh, I forget his name, two of his sheep, dead. I know it some damn big dog or wolf, you can quote me on dat one, lady,” Ichabod said.

“Officer,” she retorted, looking at him with fire in her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Officer, but dis mother fucking boy, he—what the fuck?” He squinted past Sarah, three streetlights down the road—an animal.

“What the fuck is that thing?” Sullivan said.

Sarah turned, and her throat dried immediately when she saw it. It didn’t move. She pulled her pistol out of her holster with some difficulty, she never had to pull it before. She had never seen a dog this big. Even from this distance she could see every detail of it. On all fours, it was five feet tall with paws the size of baseball gloves. Its fur was long, dark brown. Sarah could tell that the head was over a foot long, its prodigiously large vulpine teeth hung out of its mouth, glittering by the dingy light. The streetlight gleamed in the beast’s eyes. It stared at her. Her breathing started to sputter, she couldn’t control it. She shook with her gun in her hand as she raised it. A tear built up in her eye. She felt a wave of cold throughout her body as gooseflesh raised on her skin.

The beast stood on its hind legs, the light painted onto the creature and revealing its oversized dog-like body. Ichabod and Sullivan both screamed and ran into their houses.

Full stretch, it stood at nine feet tall. Sarah didn’t move. She stood there waiting for it to start coming towards her, the moon was going to reach its apogee in the sky and that’s when their duel began.


About the Author:

Tyler is a horror aficionado. He has been obsessed with the genre since he was too young to be watching it. It started with An American Werewolf in Paris—the awful 90’s sequel to the original—and snowballed ever since. His influences stem from Stephen King, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, Algernon Blackwood, and countless others. He studied them almost academically, peering into their minds psychologically, pulling back the curtains to see what drove them to creating their stories. 

The answer is reality. Tyler loves the idea that all great horror writers use the real world to concoct monsters. At certain points, you don’t know whether it’s the real ones or the fake ones that are scarier. He decided he wanted to open that box for himself, create something that no one has read.

That’s when the ideas start.

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