Happy Release Day!

To celebrate the release of Not Your Average Monster Volume #2, Pete Kahle, the editor of Bloodshot Books, is doing an awesome promotion.

The Kindle version of NOT YOUR AVERAGE MONSTER, VOL. 2 is now live for $2.99 http://bit.ly/NYAMV2
To celebrate its release, VOLUME 1 is on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS! http://amzn.to/20jAipq 
….and as an added bonus, my short story EVER GREEN is FREE! http://amzn.to/1QhX0bZ
All 3 are available on Kindle Unlimited  🙂   

That means you can pick up a bunch of incredible creature horror fiction for less than the cost of a coffee. How cool is that?

Not Your Average Monster #2 Now Available!

Not Your Average Monster 2 Cover - SMALLJUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD
VENTURE OUT OF YOUR HIDING PLACES,
HERE COMES ANOTHER HORDE OF HORRORS

Slithering, wriggling, lurking, and creeping. Leaving slick trails of pustulent slime behind them.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill monsters populating the pages of this tome. No, these critters feed on the fear that bubbles up inside you when all appears lost and the scent of blood is on the wind. Now is the time to face these demons and read on.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE MONSTER, VOL. 2:
A MENAGERIE OF VILE BEASTS

Now available at Amazon for Kindle and as a paperback.

Please leave a review either on Amazon or Goodreads! That’s the best way to help an author, especially new ones like me who are just getting started, and this anthology is full of so many new voices! 🙂

If you liked my story, “Tiny Necks”, here’s how it came to be.

Climbing the Charts

You guys remember me talking about this book last week, right? The one that just came out last Wednesday? I got my contributor copy this past week, after driving through over an hour of traffic and rain to get home from work. I was so stoked, you know I had to take a selfie.

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Creepy Campfire Quarterly had been flirting up and down Amazon’s top charts this past week, and today it actually climbed to #3 in Amazon’s Horror Anthologies!

CCQ1_statsTop3

I am just so freaking thrilled! We’re still waiting on reviews, but there has been quite a bit of interest from professional reviewers from what I understand, so we’re hoping to get some soon. If you like adult-only horror stories, why not pick up a copy? And if you’re super special awesome, why not drop a review over at Amazon or Goodreads as well?

Old, Scary Folktales

Storytelling was a big thing when I was a kid. The internet was just getting started back in the early 1990s and generally it was used for research more than entertainment like it is today. I remember gathering a handful of friends in a rarely empty band room and exchanging scary stories together. It became a game of successfully creeping your friends out, and so each story upped the stakes.

My elementary school even brought in a professional storyteller to share scary stories with us once. How cool is that? I don’t even know if professional storytellers even exist anymore! She sat in our stoic school library in a rocking chair, an old woman in her element as we sat down on the floor around her.

She told us old folktales, stories that are pretty hard to find these days. Living in the South in the U.S., you get to hear all kinds of interesting, terrifying stories. This is one that used to creep me out, and usually got a shudder out of my friends. I’ve taken massive creative liberties with it of course, since the original is fairly sparse. It’s sometimes referred to as The Keyhole, and there are countless retellings of it. I’m happy to add mine to the pile.

If you want to read more scary stories, Creepy Campfire Quarterly Volume 1 came out today!

Enjoy!

The light drizzle turned into a downpour as I navigated my way through the poorly marked Georgia back roads. I cursed my grimy windshield as I barely turned in time to avoid plunging into a deep, muddy ditch. I knew I had to find a place to stop. I still had an hour before I reached my aunt’s house, and it was well past midnight. The rain was slowing me down and my exhaustion was catching up with me.

I grinned as the dimly lit motel sign came into view. It stood like a barely readable beacon amid the sheets of rain that fell from the dark skies. There was only one other car parked as I pulled in, and the parking lot was a muddy mess, but I hoped that the rooms were at least clean. I made a dash for the front door and braced myself as my shoes skid on the linoleum floor.

A curious receptionist poked his head around the corner, “Coming down pretty hard out there, isn’t it?”

I gave a nervous grin and shook out my hair. “Sure is. You have a room available?”

The man nodded and took my info down. He didn’t use a computer, just a large pad of paper that might have been used for drafting. He pulled an old fashioned key off the back wall marked 112 and handed it to me. I noticed he had skipped the one marked 111 and thought of the car parked outside.

“I guess I’m not the only person trying to get out of the rain tonight, am I?”

He gave a small smile but didn’t answer. “Your room is on the next floor up, the first room to your left.”

I nodded, figuring he was probably a bit tired himself considering the time, and went up to the next floor. I knew the building was older since they used heavy keys instead of the cards used by more upscale places. The steps were shorter too, which isn’t unusual in older buildings. I did have to take my heels off though as I padded up the stairs.

The carpet was ugly, but not terrible. It just looked dated, much like the cold key I held in my hand. As I made my way to my room, I passed room 111, where the other person was staying. I could see light from the old-fashioned keyhole, so I knew the person much be awake. I recalled the receptionist’s odd behavior and wondered what would keep someone up at this hour with the weather so terrible outside.

Regardless I entered my room and peeled off my wet clothes. The place was old but clean, and I stretched out on the bed, thinking to relax for just a moment. Instead I fell asleep.

When I awoke, the rain was coming down even harder outside. I could hear it beating against the window, but I could also hear a siren just above it. I was worried that someone had gotten injured, and in a sleepy haze, I crept to the window and peeked out the curtain. The parking lot was a flooded mess, but I saw no ambulance or any cause for the siren I heard wailing over the rain.

That’s when my sleepy brain realized that it wasn’t a siren, but a wail I heard. Someone was crying their heart out.

I pulled on my clothes from the day before, still cold and damp, and I went out into the hallway, intent on notifying the receptionist downstairs. That’s when I realized the wailing was coming from the room across the hall, room 111.

I gave a quick knock at the door, “Excuse me, but is everything alright?” The wailing turned into sniffling inside. I knocked again, “I could hear you from my room and wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Noticing that there was still a light emerging from the keyhole, I crouched down and peeked through. The room was very similar to mine, but faced the back of the motel. The curtains were thrown back and a woman sat on the end of the bed, her long black hair just sweeping along the bedspread. She dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. I knocked again, peeking down to the keyhole, but the woman didn’t move.

keyhole

With a sigh, I went back to my room. This time I got ready for bed properly, then climbed under the covers. The room felt colder, and I worried for the sad woman in the next room. A thunderclap arched its way across the sky and the room flared with lightning. Somehow I found sleep again.

Morning came with the sun. The parking lot outside was still flooded, but it was dry enough to drive on. I stepped out into the hallway, and spotted the closed door to room 111. Concerned, I crouched down and peeked through the keyhole. I was hoping the poor woman hadn’t stayed awake all night. Instead of the room however, all I saw was bright red. She must have covered it up with a piece of clothing to keep anyone from spying on her. Still I couldn’t prevent a shudder from going through me, and forgetting to remove my heels, I almost tripped down the stairs.

The receptionist this morning was a smiling blonde woman. “Everything alright?” She asked with her thick accent.

“Yes, but I was wondering about the woman in room 111. I heard her crying last night and…”

The woman’s smile faded. “Are you sure it was that room?”

“Yes, I even saw her through the peephole last night. She seemed very upset.”

She pursed her lips and looked away from me as the words stumbled out. “That’s not possible. We never lend that room out. A woman killed herself in there, we call her the black-haired lady. Three housekeepers have tried to clean it, and all of them have run out screaming about her angry, red eyes.”

A Look Back at 2015

Now that the ball has dropped for the new year and all the confetti has fallen, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. 2015 was filled with a bunch of amazing new experiences, new friends, and new stories. Here are a few life-changing events from last year, some good, some bad, everything memorable.

Plenty of Trips

We were fortunate last year to have the World Horror Convention be hosted in Atlanta, GA. It was the first time it had been there since the early 1990s when it was first getting started. I had never been to a writing convention before, let alone one dedicated specifically to horror, so this was a very new experience for me. It had a huge impact on my writing. For the first time I felt more comfortable in the genres that I work in and with how difficult my writing can sometimes be to categorize. [May 2015]

In June I went on a family trip down to the beach, introducing them to a quiet little island I love to visit near the border of Florida known as Amelia Island. I got to see my nephew, who wasn’t quite a year old at the time, get to see sand and the ocean for the first time. It was really hard to get him out of the water! Even though the temperatures were unusually high (over 100ºF every day), everyone had a blast. [June 2015]

September was quite a busy month for us. We decided to go to DragonCon for a single day last year since we couldn’t book a room for the whole weekend. (Every major hotel sells out typically in a matter of minutes each year.) Still I love going, and this time I even tried doing a cosplay. We took Marta up, which saved us the headache of trying to find parking, but we did end up standing in line for over an hour to get tickets. Atlanta is damn hot in September, so I did somewhat regret my Victorian gown, but it was still lots of fun. We also found a new friend and then got asked to pose for *so many photos*. The rest of our evening was put on hold because we found ourselves getting interviewed by a news group and then had to pry ourselves away from fans to grab some food. I think that was when I started to love cosplay. We’ve already booked rooms and bought tickets for next year by the way, and we may even be putting together a panel. [early September 2015]

Later that month, our awesome new friend convinced us to go to AWACon, just north of Atlanta. We were dubious at first, because the only fan convention we had been to was DragonCon, and this one was much lower key. However we had worked on our cosplays a bit more by then, and even attended some group photography sessions while we were there. That was so much fun, that we’re already planning to go next year as well with even more updated cosplays. [late September 2015]

The following month, we were off again on another family trip, this time down to Disney World to enjoy the Halloween event. We had never been during Halloween before, but this was such a surprisingly good time that again, we’re planning to go next year as well. Their musical number this year featured the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus (they change it up each year), and it was such a blast!

They had a special parade and fireworks displays and we even got pictures with Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. On top of that, we ran into some friends completely by accident. They had to move across the country a few years back. We ended up spending a whole day with them in Magic Kingdom. Obviously that trip was meant to be. [October 2015]

New Stories

I was so inspired after going to the World Horror Convention in May, that I went into Camp NaNoWriMo with an attack plan. I outlined 4 weird horror stories and then set about writing them. I finished them all. Three of them I got edited and shipped out to publishers, and one of them was picked up almost immediately (“Tiny Necks” due out in February). Another horror story, one I had almost given up on, also got picked up too (“A Slippery Customer” due out in January). Both of these stories made it so I could get membership into the Horror Writer’s Association as an Affiliate. Honestly, it’s all been going so well, I’m still rather shocked. I also finished up a fantasy story recently that had some very high praise from several critters on Scribophile. If you’ve been on that site much, you know that positive feedback must be earned haha.

On top of these shorts, I also finished up a very dark YA werewolf novella that I’ve been struggling with for years and started shipping that around. I also finished up the final draft for Beyond the Treehouse (aka. Madam Cloom’s Garden) which has been a work in progress for at least two years. It too has started making the rounds, and I’m pleased with how far it’s come.

Friends Lost and New Ones Made

SalemFluffy

Salem 9/29/2009 – 12/4/2015

Last year wasn’t all cheerful though. I had made a post back in September about my sweet kitty Salem’s declining health and how worried we were about him. We thought he would get better, but that didn’t happen. His health only went downhill, and throughout several of our trips he had some worrisome issues.

I got a call from the vet while standing outside of Pirates of the Carribean with my friends who I hadn’t seen in ages. In a corner beside plastic swords and jolly rogers plaques, I talked with a vet about whether it was time to put him down or not. Thank goodness I was in the Happiest Place on Earth, otherwise I probably would have broken down into tears that moment. While my friends went to go ride on a roller coaster, I watched a parade pass by and had some time to do some thinking. Sometimes being away from home helps you analyze what needs to be done.

Salem had gotten to the point where he couldn’t even jump up on the couch without stopping to breathe hard for a long time. His lungs just couldn’t take in oxygen easily, and you could tell he was suffering. On December 4th, we made an appointment to euthanize him. That was such a difficult decision. Our parents were there, surprising us as we were about to walk out the door, and their presence really helped us get through it. Our kind vet, who helped us from the very beginning, said that at least we can choose to end his suffering. That was a long and difficult two weeks afterwards for us while work wound down and the Christmas holidays approached.

Quickster_UpsideDown

Quickster — Adopted 12/19/2015

Knowing what we would have to do, and having a second kitty at home who would be very lonely without his friend, we had already been in touch with a family who needed to rehome their deaf cat. They were worried about putting her up for adoption with her disability, and we were happy to step in and help. So we now have an adorable little deaf kitty, named Quickster, running wildly around the house. It took about a week to get her and Watson used to each other, and now they play regularly. She can get rather cranky when she doesn’t get her wet food in time, but she loves to snuggle and is such a sweetie. Since she’s deaf, she tries to look at everything all at once (as you can see from the picture), which I think is a pretty smart way to do anything.

All in all, 2015 was a heck of a year with lots of ups, but some very deep lows. I’m hoping 2016 is full of even more high peaks as well. I know I’ve been absent for a while, but life’s been a little chaotic. To get back on the blogging wagon, I’ve signed up for WordPress’ Blogging 101 event this year, so you’ll likely see me posting a lot more often. Especially since I’ve got two anthologies coming out soon!