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Posts tagged “Short Stories

FREE KINDLE BOOKS!

In celebration of Patrick C. Greene’s new release THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, we have decided to give away several of Patrick’s short stories this week. Download your copies now and tell a friend! Today through Friday June 24 – HURRY! Click on the titles below.

TRICK
GUARDIAN OF THE ORCHARD
CINDERBLOCK


ad stories 2016


Wrapped In Black – Coming this Fall!

black witch hatThe submission window is closed and we are about to begin the reading process for

WRAPPED IN BLACK

 Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

#13WitchTales

We received the largest submission response yet to one of our anthologies and hopefully that means we are doing something right! A big THANK YOU to everyone who submitted!

Check back here to keep up with the latest. We will announce the selected authors by the end of July. We will be sharing excerpts, author bios and interviews, and GIVEAWAYS! Bookmark SekhmetPress.com, LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and stalk us on Pinterest and Tumblr.

And don’t forget to check out our previous anthologies

Wrapped In Red

 Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror

and

Wrapped in White CoverWrapped In White

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

 


Wrapped In White: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

CLICK to BUY on Amazon

NOW AVAILABLE!!

Amazon PAPERBACK
Amazon KINDLE

UK Amazon

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from the creators of  WRAPPED IN RED

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

(meet the authors here)

Tragedy begets terror, then circles back on itself, and a cycle is born that ripples through the worlds of the living and dead eternally, until satisfied by love, tears–or blood…

The creators of Wrapped In Red have struck again, unfurling thirteen gossamer shrouds of woe and weirdness, laying bare the faces of fear that watch and wait in the shadows of cemeteries, the corners of ancient structures, the thoughts we wish we didn’t think . Some will crawl under your skin, some will batter you senseless with limitless otherworldly power, others will walk a line as thin as the veil between us and them.

Leave the lights on for this collection–but know that no precaution will keep its tales from haunting you even into the noonday sun…

CLICK to view on GOODREADS

CLICK to view on GOODREADS


Author Spotlight – Michael D. Matula

Michael David Matula

is the author of the short story

MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of

 TRY NOT TO BURN

michael matula2

Excerpt from:

MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE

“Well, Ms. Bailor, do you have any prior experience as a personal assistant?  Bartholomew Gannen expects a certain level of professionalism and know-how out of his employees.”

Cameron Bailor shrugged, the warm Louisiana air feeling stale in the mansion’s extravagant drawing room.  The whole place smelled of dust and antiques; almost like the mansion had hardly been lived in over the past century or two.

Mr. Haberson noticed her eyes wander down to the bandage plastered to his neck, half covered by the collar of his gray mock turtleneck.  Strangely, the bandage looked like it had been applied by a seven-year-old in the midst of a coughing fit.

Two rather distressing splotches of red had seeped through the gauze, and were starting to bleed into the fabric of his shirt.

Clearing his throat, Haberson shifted his backside in the premium leather of the lounge chair, angling his torso so his injury would be less noticeable.

“Not exactly,” Cameron replied, her eyes skipping back up to his face now that the seeping neck wound was hidden from view.  After looking at his sallow, droopy cheeks for a few seconds, she found herself starting to miss the neck wound.  “I can make a mean cup of coffee, though.  The kids I used to babysit for would absolutely rave about my cappuccinos.”

A frown drew his hangdog features even lower, looking like he’d just tasted something sour.  “I see.”

It took all of her restraint not to face-palm, as she could almost feel her ice-breaker falling flat and shattering the surface of the lake.

Why did she say that?  Why did she even attempt to crack a joke?  She wasn’t funny, not in the slightest.  She was the last person who should be cracking wise in the middle of a harrowing job interview.

Cameron could see him judging her in his bloodshot little eyes.  She couldn’t say she hadn’t been judging him from the moment she walked in the door, but still, it never felt particularly good to be on the receiving end of such withering contempt.

Should she tell him it was an attempt at humor?  That she wasn’t actually a caffeine pusher for toddlers?  Or would that be an insult to his intelligence?  Perhaps he knew it was a joke, and he was simply judging Cameron for her poor comedic timing.

“Do you mind if I ask…” she started to say, hoping to switch his mind off of her own shortcomings as a comedian and onto something he’d prefer thinking about.

Namely, himself.  Men loved talking about themselves.  If there was one thing she knew about men, that was it.

Except for when they had something to hide, of course.

“…what happened to your neck?” she finished asking, realizing the folly of her ways the moment the lead-laced words had fallen onto what remained of the proverbial ice.

She couldn’t help but wince at his complete lack of an expression.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he grunted.

Of course he didn’t want to talk about it.  It was the one thing he’d been hoping she wouldn’t notice.  Why couldn’t she have asked him about the weather or something equally bland and unalienating?  Why couldn’t she have complimented him on his fashion sense?  No, that might have actually made him like her.

After all, he probably injured himself in some sort of kinky asphyxiation thing, and no one wanted to discuss their deviant sexual practices with a total stranger.  Much less a pushy twenty-six-year-old who seemed to be unable to keep her mouth shut.

Mr. Haberson sighed.  “Ms. Bailor, I’m sure you know that Bartholomew Gannen is a very important man.  He may have retired from the limelight, but he still requires a capable, sturdy individual to fend off negative press and overeager fans.  He needs someone who is willing to work long daytime hours, and someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty.  Do you really think you would be capable of handling these responsibilities?”

Cameron tried to pull herself together.  He was still talking to her.  That was a good sign, wasn’t it?  At least he hadn’t grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and tossed her sorry derriere out onto the regal front porch of the mansion.

She still had a fighting chance.  And she still had four full “release-in-case-of-emergency” buttons to go through on the blouse.  She had undone the first one in the car.  She’d wanted that casual look.

The second button would show that she could be playful.  She wasn’t desperate enough to release button number two yet, but she was getting there.

If she undid button number three, it would show that she could be saucy.  A real firecracker.  A fourth button would cross the line into epic levels of inappropriateness.  But she might still get the job.

She’d never had to go four full buttons before.  She knew the day would have to come eventually, though.

“Absolutely.”  Cameron’s mousy voice did its best to sound confident.

“Interesting.”

Interesting?

“I must admit, Ms. Bailor,” Mr. Haberson continued, “that I’m somewhat short on time this afternoon.  Today was the only day I could interview replacements for my job in person, for I’ll be unable to work days following tonight.”

“Um-hm.”  There you go, Cam.  Smile and nod.  Keep eye contact.  Don’t look at the gross sex bandage…

All right.  Well, don’t look at it again.

“It saddens me to say,” he told her with substantial hesitation, “that you’ve got the job, Ms. Bailor.”

Cameron flashed her best “deer in the face of blinding headlights” look.

“Really?  This isn’t some sort of joke, is it?”

“It saddens me to say,” he added, with just as much hesitation as before, “that it is not.  We haven’t had many applicants for the position, and I find myself unable to wait for anyone else.  If Mr. Gannen is not satisfied with your work, then he’ll deal with you later.”  Haberson cleared his throat.  “He’ll hire someone later, I should say.”

“Sure.”

She actually got the job?  Seriously?  With only one button undone?

She must be better at this whole interview thing than she thought.

Mr. Haberson knitted his fingers together.  “I must insist that you begin working immediately, however, as there is much you need to do, and I have limited time before the dawn arrives on the morrow.”  He inclined his head toward the rather fusty coffee table to his left.  “Your job responsibilities have been printed on the parchment there.  Mr. Gannen has been somewhat… quiet, shall we say, over the last few days, so I took an educated guess at what some of his needs would be.  If you require anything, try my mobile phone.  The number’s at the top of the page.  My flight’s at three o’clock this afternoon, though, so you may have some difficulty reaching me after that.”

So, two and a half hours from now.  Well, that should give her enough time to look over

the list and see if she…

“It’s settled, then.”  Haberson unfurled his fingers and rose to his feet, extending his right hand toward Cameron.  “Welcome aboard, Ms. Bailor.  Do strive to do your best, whatever that amounts to in your particular case, as Mr. Gannen is rather quick to do away with incompetents.”

She accepted his hand, too giddy about the fact she just got the job to concern herself with the heavy-handed dose of condescension.

He grunted daintily as he lifted up his suitcase, then started to power walk through the mansion toward the entrance hall.

“You’re leaving already?” she asked his rapidly retreating form.

“You know how the rat race can get,” he called back to her as the door creaked open.  “Busy busy busy.”

The door slammed shut behind him.

She waited to hear the tires squeal as he raced away in madcap cartoon fashion, but the walls and blacked-out windows of the mansion were much too thick to allow for it.

With him gone, Cameron finally allowed herself to take her first real gander around the place.  She hadn’t wanted to look like she was casing the joint in front of Haberson before.

As antiquated as it was, the mansion was still quite impressive, absolutely dripping with Southern charm and class.  Aside from Mr. Gannen’s apparent love of doilies, that was, as it looked like he had allowed his great grandmother to decorate the place.

“You’ve finally made it, Cam,” she said, talking to herself and referring to herself by name, which was by no means the mark of a crazy person.  “Actual, honest-to-goodness employment.  A career, if I can keep from screwing things up like I normally do.”

No more selling electronics of varying legality out of the trunk of her car.

Nope, she was in an actual building this time.  A mansion.  The kind of house that little houses wished they could be when they grew up. READ MORE

______________________________________

Michael Matula is a novelist and story writer from Chicago, IL. He was born on a Friday the 13th, which could explain some of the darker themes in his writing. He once dreamed of becoming a comic artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the words and images tumbling in his head, he started writing stories based on his characters instead. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name Michael Matula

Age  35

Where are you from

I was born and raised in the Chicago area.

A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.

There isn’t too much to say.  I went to Glenbard North High School, enjoy watching movies when I can scrape up the time, and I find that I’m getting more obsessive-compulsive as each day goes by.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My latest short story, “My Boss is a Vampire,” will be appearing in Wrapped in Red, the new anthology from Sekhmet Press, on October 29th.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I always wanted to be a comic book artist.  I wrote and drew my own comics as a teenager, usually during study hall, but occasionally during classes.  But I had too many ideas for the stories, and I couldn’t draw fast enough to keep up with everything I wanted to do.  Nor could I quite match the images that I was seeing in my mind.  So I wrote out a side story for one of my characters, and I never really looked back after that.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Pretty much right away.  I finished writing my first book in high school.  Looking back, it wasn’t very well-written, and I’d probably die of embarrassment if anyone read it now, but I still hold a lot of the characters and the story very close to my heart, and I hope to one day rewrite it.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

I had an idea for a woman who was not too dissimilar to me.  She’s struggling to find work, doing lots of odd jobs while trying to be a writer in an age where print is dead.  And basically, every job she takes goes wrong somehow, though she would never admit to it ever being her own fault.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I mostly just write the story as the character, placing myself in their heads as much as possible, and whatever they would think is usually how I tell it.  I always think that the key to writing is to find characters you like.  Then, the characters do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I think I had the title before I actually wrote the story, which is often how I do things.  A good title can give you inspiration for the story, and makes me excited to write it.

Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?

Be wary of kids who learn voodoo curses off the internet.  You might have career trouble later in life.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

Not much, if I’m being honest.  It’s part parody, part suspense, and hopefully all fun.  If any parts of it are realistic, then it’s probably unintentional.

Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?

Sunglasses After Dark was one of the books that made me want to be a writer.  That, and the Wheel of Time series, along with some of Michael Crichton’s books.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

I just completed the sequel to my first novel, Try Not To Burn, which is about three people struggling to escape eternal damnation and redeem their sins.  It’s part suspense, part psychological thriller, and part monster movie.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A teacher I had in elementary school, Mrs. McArdle, pushed me to join an advanced program, which may have helped steer me into a creative path.  I also remember one time that I was supposed to write down an answer to a question “What’s one thing you do better than anyone else?” It was supposed to just be a fun thing, a throwaway question, but I didn’t have an answer, as I’ve never felt particularly special.  So I asked her, and she said I was better at making her laugh than anyone else.  It was something that will always stick with me, and it was one of the first times as a kid that I’d ever felt like I mattered.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I’d love it to be.  There’s nothing I’d rather do full-time than write. READ MORE


Author Spotlight – Sarah I. Sellers

Sarah I. Sellers is the author of the short story

BLOOD TIES

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

Sarah I. Sellers

Excerpt from:

BLOOD TIES

“Death has found me…” Toby whispered as shivers racked his small, malnourished form. The rain came down in sheets, wind blowing furiously, showing no mercy. The boy was obviously ill, with abnormally pale skin, his cheeks were gaunt, and his eyes almost life-less. He cowered in an alley, trying to escape the relentless storm. He was small for his nine years, and maybe forty pounds soaking wet.

“It is only me, young one,” A man’s voice, like gravel, rough and uninviting, startled Toby. A cold hand grabbed the boy’s shoulder. A dark robe cloaked the man’s body, and shaded his face. Rain seemed to avoid him, as if each drop feared the hooded monster.

“All things considered, you may wish for death to come next.” He paused with a grin. “To hell with you!” He boomed with cruel laughter, tightening his grip on the boys shoulder. Toby cringed. Tears joined the rain cascading down his sunken cheeks. He coughed. His throat was dry, and his heart was beating rapidly.

“Why are you so cruel? Who are you” The boy’s voice shook as he spoke, and he was trying not to look at the man who had tormented him relentlessly. He whispered horrid things about hell into Toby’s ear and stabbed at him with bony fingers. Only when Toby slept did the jeering cease. Exhaustion had gotten him now, and he was slumped against the alley wall.

“That is of little consequence;” He sighed, “but you can call me Legna.” He took a step away from Toby. “I knew there was something wrong with you. I never wanted-” he paused. “I saw that vile creature and I want no part of it.”

Legna held up his cane and whispered into the air, “You’re a monster, not a protector. And you cannot protect this one. He’s not yours to protect.” He spat the words. “Parasite.”

As the cane struck his legs, Toby thought he felt a soft hand on his shoulder and was grateful he’d seen his friend this morning.

Everything went black and the pain was insufferable. This couldn’t be death, Toby thought, for death would have been a gift. He felt as if his lungs were being torn from his chest while hands clutched at his throat. Toby was falling endlessly through the darkness. When he hit the solid ground, the impact didn’t hurt as bad as it should have. His back only ached dully. He actually felt stronger; more alert.  He felt… alive. Wherever he was, it was dark. Only the light of twin moons illuminated the gravel road.

He didn’t know where he was or why, but he felt unusually calm, considering the circumstances. This was a strange place, somewhere other worldly. Toby felt Legna’s presence before he heard his cane tapping the ground. His sense of calm vanished.

“Welcome to your new home,” Legna cackled. His words sent shivers down Toby’s spine. “You will soon meet your master.” He tapped his cane menacingly on the ground, “Until then, stay put. Beasts dwell in this area. Beasts that will not hesitate to rip your head off.” Then he vanished, not allowing the frightened boy to comment.

Under any other circumstance Toby would have fled, but here, in this unfamiliar place, he had no advantage. No familiar street corners or secret hiding places. He sat at the edge of the dirty road and cried. As a small consolation, Toby realized that he wasn’t as skinny as he had been. He was still small, of course, but his skin didn’t hang on his bones like it once had. His face and clothes were covered in grime from the city streets, but despite his exhaustion and some soreness, he felt better physically. He wasn’t starving. The joy of this discovery didn’t last long though. He still had no idea where he was or why. He cried himself to sleep in the dark of night, on the side of the road, in an alien world. READ MORE

Author Interview with Fiona

Name-   Sarah I. Sellers

Age-    15 (Almost 16!!)
Where are you from-  Fairview, North Carolina
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect-
I was raised with my two older sisters and my parents, until I was 9. Tragic events occurred, and I was sent to live with my grandparents- while my 2 sisters went to other family. When I was 13, I moved in with my best friend’s family. I now have 3 more sisters, two dogs, and a pig (Plus my recently passed Sugar Glider). My new parents own a local restaurant in Fairview.  I’m in the 10thgrade. I enjoy writing and drawing, I also enjoy the ROTC program at my school.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first published work is Blood Ties, in the Wrapped In Red Anthology- which came out today (10/29/13)
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I guess I began writing when I was almost 10, and I started writing to deal with everything that was happening in my life at the time.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About a month ago!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I just decided ‘Why not?’ The opportunity came up, so I took it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Not really sure, It ties into the story- I suppose. It made sense in my head, at least.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The book The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. It makes you think differently about life and friends and family. The book A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah (I’d like to thank my 10th grade English teacher for this one)- It also makes you think greatly about life- makes you look at what you have, and appreciate it… rather than just wanting more.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading two- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Shack by Paul Young
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I can see it as a hobby, but not as a career. But you never know what could happen.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have always enjoyed reading and if I wanted to read a certain kind of book- and I couldn’t find one, I could write it instead. It was also a way for me to escape my reality, and go into a world of my creation- where anything I want to happen, will happen.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
S.E. Hinton is one of my favorite authors. The way her books are written, you become part of the book, you feel what the characters feel. I would also call John Green one of my favorite author- Why? Well, have you read his books? READ MORE

Author Spotlight – Chantal Noordeloos

Chantal Noordeloos is the author of the short story

THE BLOOD RUNS STRONG

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

She is also the author of COYOTE: The Outlander and DEEPLY TWISTED

chantal pic 2Excerpt from:

THE BLOOD RUNS STRONG

“It is all about blood,” the Master preached to his followers, who kneeled around a stone casket, dressed in grey hooded robes. Their heads bowed in reverence.
“The blood gives us strength, it gives us power. The blood runs strong.”
“The blood runs strong.” The followers hummed in agreement, their voices echoed slightly through the damp cold tomb.
One of the robed figures moved towards him and kneeled, head still bowed. Delicate white hands presented the Master an ornate silver ceremonial knife. He took the slender blade from her hand, and touched it to his lips, the cold silver a stark contrast with the warmth of his skin; then he returned the knife to her hands.
“Master. My blood is your blood,” a husky female voice said. One dainty hand took the knife and cut into the soft white flesh of the opposite palm. Her blood welled up from the cut, gathering in a dark pool in the center of the palm. Several drops escaped, trailed down the pale arm and disappeared in the wide sleeve of the robe. She offered him the blood covered hand, and with a cruel smile he bit into her flesh, sinking his sharp teeth further into the skin. He could hear a slight hiss as she inhaled from the pain, but she was brave and loyal. When he was done, he licked the blood off with his rough tongue. He released her hand, the blood still specked on his lips, and she recoiled slightly. The Master licked his lips, and the hooded girl handed the knife to another of the followers. The ritual repeated itself. Each time a new subject would offer a bleeding hand.
He spoke to them, his words filled with fire, his message was about blood and death. As he spoke he directed his face towards the light of the many candles, so that the sharp canines in his mouth glistened. He was aware of his body, and every move he made, every word he said, was deliberate. The followers chanted the words of the ritual in his name, chanted praise for the blood, and – he imagined – dreamt of immortality.
The ritual ended in darkness, the many candles that illuminated the tomb were extinguished, casting the interior of the stone building in pitch black. Only the musty smell of ancient stone and death remained, and a vague odor of the extinguished candles.
The Master made his exit from the tomb with two females, one clung to each of his arms. The air outside was fresh and cold. A million bright stars greeted them from a velvet sky.
“Draco,” said one of the girls. “Will you take us home with you tonight?”
He looked down on her. His eyes glanced over the vivid red hair with dark roots showing underneath. She was a short girl with small breasts; her body was lithe and thin, resembling that of a young boy.
“I will take you home with me.” He spoke with an accent, which he hoped was Transylvanian. READ MORE

Chantal Noordeloos (born in the Hague, and not found in a cabbage as some people may suggest) lives in the Netherlands, where she spends her time with her wacky, supportive husband, and outrageously cunning daughter, who is growing up to be a supervillain. When she is not busy exploring interesting new realities, or arguing with characters (aka writing), she likes to dabble in drawing.

In 1999 she graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design, where she focused mostly on creative writing.

There are many genres that Chantal likes to explore in her writing. Currently Sci-fi Steampunk is one of her favourites, but her ‘go to’ genre will always be horror. “It helps being scared of everything; that gives me plenty of inspiration,” she says.

Chantal likes to write for all ages, and storytelling is the element of writing that she enjoys most. “Writing should be an escape from everyday life, and I like to provide people with new places to escape to, and new people to meet.”

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name

Chanti: My name is Chantal Noordeloos (try to pronounce, that one, hahaha. –Nor-duh-lows- ) *throws hands in the air* say it with me now… lol, sorry, just kidding.

Age

Chanti: Never ask a lady her age… good thing I’m not too ladylike. I’m 37. I was born in 76.

Where are you from:

Chanti: I was born in The Hague, which is one of the bigger cities in the Netherlands. I live in a suburb there now, but I’ve moved around. I even lived in the UK (Norwich) for three years during my time as a student.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

Chanti: I don’t know why it’s always so difficult to tell things about myself. I struggle to find the words (that really doesn’t do me credit as a writer, now does it… in my defence I write fiction) So let’s see. First and foremost, I’m a mom. My daughter, Elora (6) is amazing, and I try to keep her on the path of good, because I think she has the makings of a diabolical genius. My husband and I have been very happily married for 9 years. We met each other at this LARP (live action role play) event I used to organise. I think I need to warn you that I’m a bit of a nerd (or geek, or whatever). I always loved comic books, role play and games. And of course, books are my passion. Besides writing I do a little bit of drawing. I even draw for some of my projects too.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Chanti: Hmmm latest news, I have so much. I think my most exciting news is that the first novel in my COYOTE series, called “COYOTE: THE OUTLANDER” is now out on most platforms. I loved working on this project because it has a second screen. Basically that means it has its own website with extra content, and even music, to make reading the book a more engaging experience.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Chanti: I’ve been writing since I knew how, but always for a bit of fun. As a small kid I made up a lot of stories, and when I became a teen, I decided writing sucked, until I met my English teacher Mr. Harrison at age 15. He gave me a picture to write about and I knew then that I loved it above all other things. It took me a while to grab the courage to really start writing for an audience. I wrote just for me. In June 2012, I had a novel finished (it was terrible, really terrible) and I met another writer (Mike Jansen) who said I had potential. He urged me to get out there, get myself published, and I did. It went really fast after that. I’ve been very spoiled with getting most of my work accepted.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Chanti: I don’t remember, it sort of happened gradually. It took some time though, even when I was holding a copy of the first anthology I was published in, it didn’t sink in. But I know I feel like a writer now.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Chanti: Let’s ignore the crap books I wrote, and only acknowledge the first one I published. Coyote was an actual role play character of mine, about 15 years ago. It’s a character I’ve always loved and wanted to write a story about. There was an anthology I wanted to write for and it asked for a science fiction story. I thought: This would be a great opportunity to write a Coyote story. And so I did… only, what I wanted to say didn’t fit in a short story. So I wrote something else (in the same setting) for that anthology, and kept Coyote to myself.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

Chanti: I think I do, but I’m not sure. I’m too close to my own writing to tell. However, I know I tend to write stories with a bit of a twist. So, I guess that’s my style ;)

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Chanti: Confession time: I am terrible with titles. I mean: DREADFUL. The choice to call the whole series “COYOTE” was easy; it’s the name of the main character. The Outlander… well, there is a good reason for it, and it’s in the book. I should explain: Outlanders are creatures from other worlds in my novels.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Chanti: I’m not sure I have a clear message, but I do work with ‘tolerance’ in my novel. Coyote is a female bounty hunter, which isn’t a common thing. Her partner, Caesar, is a freed slave. I liked working with characters that are meant to be ‘the underdog’ yet rise above that. Coyote demands a lot of respect and I liked writing about a strong woman.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

I did research to make it as realistic as I could. There is some guess work in there too, because I could only work with what Google provided me with. I have made up a lot as well, because that’s part of the charm. Don’t worry, there will be no Rips in Indiana, and no Outlanders will come tumbling out! ;)

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Chanti: I might use reactions of people in my novels. I didn’t use real life experiences, but I would use examples of friends (or myself) in my head when characters would respond to certain situations.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Chanti: I am a very big fan of Neil Gaiman, and almost all his books have influenced me greatly. His book Neverwhere is still my favorite book.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Chanti: If I got to choose any writer? Because you’ll see this one coming: I’d get Neil Gaiman, lol. But if you mean who do I consider a mentor? That would be Apple Ardent Scott. She’s my editor (and a very dear friend), but she’s taught me so much about writing. Working with her has been amazing.

Read more HERE


Author Spotlight – Bryan W. Alaspa

Bryan W. Alaspa is the author of the short story VERMILION in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of Strange Fruit and the Slender Man and Sapphire 

Bryan W Alaspa headshot

Excerpt from:

VERMILION

They say the town of Vermilion, Illinois is cursed. If you were to see what it has become, you might be willing to agree. Like so many things that happen around these parts, it goes back to a story about Native Americans.
The tale goes that the town of Vermilion was once on the fast track to becoming one of the biggest cities in the entire state. That much is known fact, as there was even a time when the city became the capital of the state of Illinois. Sitting high on the banks of the Mississippi River, Vermilion was a transportation hub for the steamboats of the time.
As my great-grandfather told it, there was a thriving community here and in that community lived a wealthy man who ran most of the town. He had a daughter, and that daughter was willful and wouldn’t listen and she fell in love with a Native American fellow back in a time when Native Americans were still called things like Featherheads, Cochise and Injuns.
Needless to say, the father did not take too kindly to this and he forbade his daughter to ever see the “Scalper” again. Of course, like most of these tales go, she didn’t listen. She and the boy went sneaking around and it was only a matter of time before the father confirmed his suspicions. He then paid some men to find the young Native American boy. And do you think he turned the boy over to the police claiming some false crime, or just ushered the kid out of town, threatening him never to return? No, he did neither.
The father had the young man beaten and then tied to a large log. The young man lay there, bleeding, arms outstretched like a familiar religious symbol, and the father pushed the log off into the rushing waters of the Mighty Miss. This is where the curse comes in.
Reportedly the Native American boy cursed the whole town of Vermilion, proclaiming the river would eventually swallow the wanna-be metropolis like a giant serpentine devil, wiping it from the face of the earth forever.
Whether or not there ever was a Native American boy, bound by love and killed by hate, no one knows for sure. But there certainly seems to be an air of doom around this place.
Vermilion did go on to become a thriving city, but there came a flood one day and most of the town was washed away. See, when the water receded a bit, it didn’t recede the rest of the way, essentially turning the city into a small island in the middle of the Mississippi River. We are now a tiny township with rushing water on all sides, technically part of the state of Illinois, but with the only bridge taking us into Missouri.
So go figure.
The town has flooded several times since then. The Ole Miss is one mighty bitch when she wants to be. The last time I remember it being completely flooded was back in ’93. The entire town was covered in something like nine feet of water. Those of us that were left, just about 30 people at that time, were evacuated. We all came back and many of us said we would stay here until the island was gone, but most of the young families that had been away on vacation moved away permanently, and several of the evacuees decided they’d had enough.
These days there are just fifteen of us, all of us descended from those founding families of long ago. There are a couple of young folks, but most of us are older, like me. Heck, I’m one of the younger of the older folks being only in my fifties. And the rest of the town looks like something out of a museum.
There’s the downtown area with a small store and a restaurant that barely does any business. Thank goodness for the legend of the curse or we’d have no tourists at all. There’s a few houses and there’s even a park, complete with playground equipment, even though there are no kids to play on them anymore. There’s also a small city hall with mostly empty offices, a library and a church at the far end, with mostly empty pews. It’s a pretty town, with lots of trees and green grass, but it is also very quiet, with empty houses where there were once families. Quiet that is, except for the always constant rushing sound of the river when you’re outside. People live in fear each spring when the rains come and wonder if this will be the year when the curse finally hits for the last time.
I awoke in absolute darkness the night the stranger came. The weather people had been predicting a bad storm all day. The year before, we’d had a drought in the area and people joked that maybe Vermilion was going to become part of Missouri and join the rest of civilization again. Then came the hard winter, with lots of bad snow storms, one after another after another and the town stayed buried in snow. Then came the rains that spring. READ MORE

Bryan W. Alaspa is a Chicago native and published author of over 20 works of fiction and non-fiction. He has written books in the genres of horror, thrillers, suspense, true crime, history, mysteries, young adult, paranormal and even romance.

When he’s not writing, Bryan enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Melanie, and their two fur babies, Gracie and Pippa.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Bryan W. Alaspa

Age: 42
Where are you from: Chicago, IL
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.:  Well, I grew up in the Chicago area. I am the oldest of two brothers. I have always had the support of my parents, who always encouraged me to write. In fact, I never would have discovered my love of writing without their love of reading and the fact that my mom left out her electric typewriter once when I was in the 3rd grade and I wrote my first short story. I went to Webster University, where I ended up studying communications and falling in love with broadcasting, particularly radio. I spent quite a few years trying to get a full time job in radio, then spent 8 years working in human resources, before going back to writing and what I loved back in 2006.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just published a horror novella called Strange Fruit and the Slender Man, which is my take on the Slender Man phenomenon. This past year also saw the publication of my first YA Novel – Sapphire, which has garnered some of the best reviews of my career. I just had a vampire short story published in an anthology called Wrapped in Red. This Christmas, the third novel in my Sin-Eater series is due to be published. I plan to publish the first novel in a four-novel Young Adult series next year. I am currently also writing TWO novels, both of which I intend to release in a serialized format. Whew…
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I remember loving books for as long as, well, I can remember. I was fascinated, as a kid, by sharks and during my young days (in the mid-70s) everyone was reading JAWS. I remember being fascinated by the cover, with that big shark on it, fascinated that someone had written this story. I wrote my first short story when I was in the third grade – and it was a total rip-off of Jaws. I loved the feeling of creating my own characters, my own world.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
 Probably after I self-published my first novel. This was back in 1998 and it is still out there – lurking. It is an overly-ambitious sci-fi action novel called The Ballad of the Blue Denim Gang.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, my actual first novel was handwritten in high school and my early years in college. It will always stay forever in a binder on my bookshelf because, well, it’s awful. It’s a murder mystery called Among Friends and all of the characters are based on friends I had in high school. The murderer kills off all but a couple characters, this making the mystery not quite mysterious.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not that I am aware of. I like to vary my style. I wrote my thriller novel After the Snowfall during my Cormack McCarthy days and didn’t put any quotes around the dialog. I have done first person and present tense. I always like trying new things to keep myself intrigued and interested.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I wish I knew. The titles just come to me – much like the stories. When my brain settles on a title, however, it is virtually impossible for me to change it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I write to entertain. I don’t usually have a message. In my novel VICIOUS I did try to convey a message about cruelty to animals, in particular dogs, but I also wanted to just entertain and scare people.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I try to set my books in reality so that the audience can relate. However, most of my horror involves a supernatural element introduced into the real life part.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are quite  a few characters based on real people in my life. The events in the novel are usually wholly fiction.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Gosh, that is hard to say. Jaws, obviously, since it was the first thing to inspire me to write. Stephen King’s work in general has been the biggest sole inspiration. Some of my other big inspirations: HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, Robert R. McCammon’s Boy’s Life, Blake Crouch’s RUN, Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home and The Other. I am sure there are more – and I discover new authors all the time.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now it is Scott Nicholson’s novel After: The Shock.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Blake Crouch, Iain Rob Wright, Ian Woodhead, Patrick Greene, JA Konrath, Scott Nicholson, Bryan R. Dennis, Ronald Malfi – to name a few.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
See above!  I have so many, and I still work a full-time day job. I hope I can get to them all.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My teachers. I had two great teachers in my life: my six grade teacher Mr. Tatone, and my high school Composition teacher Mrs. Rundio.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I dream of it every single day. I long and ache for the day when I can spend my days just doing my stories and writing my novels. I write both fiction and non-fiction, and I would love to write my books all day instead of the day job, you know?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
 No.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Mostly finding the time. These days I get up very early to work on my writing before I have to start my day job.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My current novella cover was designed by a friend named Tim Bliznick. The covers to my novels Sapphire and Vicious were designed by Stephen Bryant. My covers for One Against Many and RIG were designed by Erin Engelmann.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Always write. Never give up and never let the world tell you that you cannot do it. Even if you write for just a few, write. Write even if you just put your work in a drawer for now.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Always remember that indie writers, like me, rely on feedback and reviews that you find on Amazon. Word of mouth is so key to us achieving any kind of success, so telling others about a writer and work that you like is key. READ MORE