Halloween Updates

Hello bookworms! Apologies for the recent hush. In the last couple of months, my freelance business has taken off more than I could’ve imagined—I’ve been editing books for indie authors, writing short stories, drafting Night Plague’s sequel, reading submissions for All Worlds Wayfarer, and coding interactive fiction games. There are so many projects I can’t wait to share with you, but for now, let’s celebrate the horror genre for All Hallows’ Eve!

Ghost woman in foggy forest,3d Mixed media for book illustration or book cover

Download The “Woods at the End of the World” for Free!

If you haven’t checked out my latest full-length novel, now’s the perfect time—it’s free on Kindle through Halloween.

The Woods at the End of the World is a post-apocalyptic ghost story. The world ended before Sun was born, but her world ended when her sister, Moon, disappeared. To escape the same fate, she’ll venture into the unknown.

Check it Out!

 

 

Scare Street: Short Horror Stories

A recent development: I’m now a writer at Scare Street, a publisher specializing in horror stories and high-quality scares!

The books in the newly launched “Short Horror Stories” mini-anthology series each offer three distinct and haunting tales to sink your teeth into over your lunch break or right before bed. In particular, Let’s Play, one of my contributions, is a personal favorite from the short stories I’ve written…or at least, it’s the one that creeped me out the most while writing it (the lights in my office even started flickering). If you’re into audiobooks, Book 1 also has a chilling audio edition narrated by the skilled Thom Bowers.

If you’re looking for something a bit longer, try out the “Terror in the Shadows

anthology series (if you’re an arachnophobe, you’ll like—or perhaps despise—one of my stories, Flies, in volume 7) or Ron Ripley’s “Moving In” novel series.

For some fun with fellow horror fans, and Scare Street’s other authors and myself, check out the Scare Squad Facebook group for creepy trivia, dark-humored memes, and discussions about horror books, shows, and movies.

 

Horror Interview

If you don’t think I’m weird enough yet, check out my Halloween Spotlight interview with the Word Whisperer, where I talk about what draws me to horror and dark speculative fiction, tips for writing the genre, and some perhaps uncomfortably personal things!

Happy All Hallows’ Eve

May your holiday be filled with fun kind of frights!

 

 

The Woods at the End of the World, Out Now!

Hey all! Sorry that it’s been quiet here; June and July continue to be intense months as far as deadlines and target dates go. But I’m excited to announce that one of those goals has been met and The Woods at the End of the World is available now!


A Post-Apocalyptic Ghost Story

Ghost woman in foggy forest,3d Mixed media for book illustration or book cover

The world ended before Sun was born, but her world ended just under a year ago, when her sister, Moon, disappeared. According to Mama, the Woods shield Haven farm from the decay left behind by the End, but now she hates them for swallowing up her sister. Her curious, starry-eyed sister who dreamed too much for her own good, while Sun responsibly wrote her Archive, chronicling their lives as the last human beings on Earth.

Sun dismissed her sister’s bizarre behavior leading up to her disappearance as madness, but when she finds Moon’s diary and strange visitors come in the night, she begins to understand far more than she wishes she could. Where her sister found dreams, she sees nightmares. Questions that Mama can’t, or won’t, answer escape her errant tongue.

The truth she seeks waits for her within the Woods.

Find out More


Writing this novel was an interesting experience. It’s somewhat personal in the way it deals with certain emotions, but it’s also a blend of themes from many other projects I’ve worked on. It’s a bit out there, but I hope you enjoy this weird little book!

The Woods at the End of the World: Sneak Peek

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The Woods at the End of the World will be my second full-length novel. It explores the importance of owning your identity, platonic bonds, and finding meaning. It’s also about recognizing, but pushing through, anxiety. “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” —George Addair

It’s tentatively scheduled for a June 19th release date.

In the meantime, you can read the opening right now:


The Archive: Year 17, Day 141

To the girl who dreamed herself to death,

I know you aren’t coming back. I’ve known for a while, I think. I wonder if you miss me as much as I miss you. Maybe that’s just my own dream. Maybe there’s nothing left of you but a body decaying deep in the Woods. I don’t believe in other worlds—in this life or after—the way you did. Your mind, with all of those hopes and stories and songs is just gone. That mind that—I used to believe, at least—loved me. All of that is so incredibly sad. So sad that sometimes I think I might crumble into myself until I disappear, just like you. Other times I think it’s only my heart that will shatter—that one day I’ll wake up and never be able to feel anything again. I’d like that.

Since you’ll never actually read this, I’ll be honest: I hate you. I hate you for leaving me and Mama. When you rambled on about wanting to see the world beyond the Woods, I thought you were only making up stories. When you made up stories, I thought you were only trying to escape from Haven in your own safe way. When you stared past the fence, I thought you were only daydreaming. Even when you screamed…I told you it was only nightmares.

I’m sorry. I should have stopped you. The world that mattered was the world we shared together, not one that had long since ended. You were so much of my world once.

You ended that world, too.

I hate you, I really do. I can’t believe how much we lived through only so you could throw it all away on a fantasy. I don’t know that I’ll ever forgive you. I do hope you’ll forgive me for not saving you. Or rather, I wish there was still a you to forgive me. I wish you’d let me know how much you’d needed saving. Most of all, I wish you’d saved yourself.

I’d like to think there is a chance that you made it through the Woods. That a better world really did wait for you. That you’re alive and happy. That you made your dreams come true.

But then I’m the one dreaming. And if there’s one thing you taught me, dear sister, it’s the danger in dreaming.

Goodbye, Moon.

With love and hatred too,

Sun

Note to the Archive’s eventual readers: forgive me for this display of emotion. I couldn’t tell my sister what I wanted to say, so I had to tell someone. I will return the Archive to its regular format with the next entry.

 

Prologue: Sisters

I’ve never heard my sister scream like this. I wasn’t even sure it was her at first—some poor animal, perhaps, torn apart by a predator in the Woods. But I’ve heard Moon’s voice every day of my life. I know the way her voice cracks on the high notes, the way her low notes ring like bells. I recognize the quiver in that cry—amplified by thunderous magnitudes in the stillness of Haven house tonight.

I fly through the hallway, past Mama’s locked door and the attic’s ladder and the empty closets. It all seems so different in the late night dark—too long, as if I’ll never reach her. My heart hammers as fast and loud as my footfalls. I wish she and I still shared a room—that she hadn’t moved to the old study on the far end of the second story, filled with books and dust and big windows that overlook the Woods at the end of the world. I swear I can hear the branches creaking outside even through the moans of the house and the pounding in my skull, as if Moon’s cries disturb them as much as they frighten me. Why did she—not want to stay with me?—have to pick the room the farthest away from mine?

“Moon!” I let out a cry of my own as I throw open her door.

[Read more…]

Monthly Updates: March 2019 – Serial Stories

New Patreon Page and Serial Story

TAC_PatreonCover(Small).jpgI’m excited to announce that I’ve launched a Patreon profile! At Patreon, you can support independent creators by donating a small amount per month in exchange for supporter rewards. I would be super grateful to anyone who contributes. Even a dollar makes a difference.

In terms of rewards, I’m serializing a novel by posting its chapters as they go through final edits. The Atlantean Crown is an LGBTQIA+ science-fantasy featuring merfolk, mad science, and the tension between responsibility and freedom. If you’re curious about the story, the first chapter is available for free reading.

Certain tiers include free short critiques/copyedits, along with paperbacks of future releases.

 

Thank you to anyone who checks out the page.

New Serial on Channillo

ChannilloCoverV1Additionally, I’ve launched a second serial on Channillo! This one will be long-running, spanning an eventual three book trilogy. It’s based on an entirely rewritten version of my first ever novel-length work, finished back when I was a teen. It’s interesting to return to such an old story and polish it up using everything I’ve learned since then.

Apocryphal is an eerie YA urban fantasy featuring shapeshifters and supernatural civil wars, which one commenter likened to “Lovecraft meets X-Men.” It’s also got an all LGBTQIA+ main cast, and explores the importance of claiming your place in a world that doesn’t always understand you – that sometimes even fears you.

Channillo publishes a variety of entertaining serials (if you try out Channillo, make sure to also check out the Heir of Rot and Ruin serial by Rebecca Fisher and the Fragments of Fear serial by Michael Kelso). I’ve had a ton of fun reading and commenting on other authors’ stories there. It is a paid subscription site, but it has a month-long free trial if you’re curious about its hidden gems.

New Novel Coming Soon – The Woods at the End of the World

If all goes well, I’m hoping to publish my next full-length novel on April 30th. The Woods at the End of the World is a paranormal, post-apocalyptic horror novel. I’ll post updates if the release date changes.

The world ended before Sun was born, but her world ended just under a year ago, when her sister, Moon, disappeared. According to Mama, the Woods shield Haven farm from the decay left behind by the End, but now she hates them for swallowing up her sister. Her curious, starry-eyed sister who dreamed too much for her own good, while Sun responsibly wrote her Archive, chronically their lives as the last human beings on Earth.

Sun dismissed her sister’s bizarre behavior leading up to her disappearance as madness, but when she finds Moon’s diary and strange visitors come in the night, she begins to understand far more than she wishes she could. Where her sister found dreams, she sees nightmares. Questions that Mama can’t, or won’t, answer escape her errant tongue.

The truth she seeks waits for her within the Woods.


I hope you’re all having a great April so far!

Glass Preview

Normally, I’d post a poem this second Monday of the month, but March 11th happens to be the protagonist’s birthday in one of my novel/game projects, Glass. It never fails that I end up thinking about this particular story on this particular day, so here’s an excerpt from the novel version:


12/22/10

Entry 1: Lost Boy

10/04/00

If Heaven is a real place, can I go there?

-Ervay

Cold. Why was it so cold?

I couldn’t tell. I opened my eyes – or were they already open? – and saw nothing but black. There was no sky. There was no soil. I stretched out my arms. I felt nothing. Nothing but a chill that tingled along the outline of my body. My fingers trembled. My legs shook. A shiver raced up my spine and pounded at the top of my scalp.

Wait. There was something. I noticed the roaring of the river for the first time. Why hadn’t I heard it before? Had it been my mind or my ears lagging behind? I still don’t know. Maybe the blackness outside was seeping inside. Maybe it was coming in through my ears. Maybe it was traveling over my tongue. Maybe it was bleeding in beneath my eyes, crawling into my veins, and painting over the white of my skull. Maybe it was clogging up my thoughts as well as my senses.

I looked around again at nothing. I needed to get away. If I was asleep, I needed to wake up.

The water was loud. Close. But no matter how much I searched, it wasn’t there. My hands couldn’t touch it. My eyes couldn’t find it. I could breathe, so I wasn’t beneath it.

Perhaps it was just an illusion, after all. Perhaps it wasn’t even there.

Or perhaps it was me who wasn’t there at all.

“Er…vay!”

My head jerked in the direction of the noise. My pulse crashed against my ribs. That single word pierced the black. My name.

Should I have recognized that voice? For a fleeting second, I almost believed I had, but then that faint tint of familiarity was gone. It passed right through my hazy head, lingering only on the edge that emptiness failed to permeate.

Whoever it belonged to, they were frightened. Terribly frightened. I’d never heard so much dread before.

“D…o…n’t… Go…!”

Don’t go? But I had to go. I certainly couldn’t stay!

“Don’t go!” the voice begged, as if it were arguing with my thoughts. It was a scream. The type of wail that cuts off as a heart stops beating forever.

I didn’t move.

“Ervay…!”

They were calling for help. They were calling me for help.

My throat condensed with a heavy swallow. “Where are you?”

No answer. The nothing ate my noise. Could the stranger hear me at all? That thought sucked the voice right out of me.

“Ervay!”

My stomach tightened. I needed to save them. I wanted to save them.

But somehow, I knew that I couldn’t.

My own dread drummed in my heart and drowned out the river’s rumbles. “Hey, who – ”

[Read more…]

Monthly Updates: February 2019 – Speculative Soul Story Editing Services

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Speculative Soul Story Editing Services is Live!

Wow, February flew by! For my fellow authors, I’m excited to announce the launch of my new editing services website. If you find yourself stuck in the revision process, or in need of a second set of eyes, feel free to get in touch. I offer services ranging from developmental editing to copyediting to critiquing. I know firsthand how tight an author’s budget can be, so I strive to keep services as affordable as possible. We can negotiate prices and service options, too. Editing has always been one of my favorite phases of the storytelling process, so I’m eager to bring this passion into the spotlight.

Check it Out!

 

New Book Giveaways and Deals

My own books are still baking in the editing oven, but like usual, here are some new giveaways across the speculative fiction spectrum if you’re on the hunt for more to read without breaking the bank:

Giveaways

Happy reading!

I hope you enjoy what remains of winter (of your current season) with warm beverages of choice and a bevy of good books.

Favorite Story Features

For this month’s story craft post, I’m going to go highly subjective. Out of curiosity, I spent a couple of hours last week breaking down my own favorite stories (my favorite books, games, movies, etc) and looking for the common threads that ran through all of them. I certainly found a few consistent factors, including several which I didn’t necessarily expect. Your mileage may vary, but here’s what makes me personally fall in love with a story:

  1. An accessible surface; a deep, complex, nuanced core.
    1. Most of my favorite stories have made themselves appear accessible on the surface – a standard sci-fi game, a standard shounen anime, a standard small-town murder mystery, etc – but with a deeper, and usually darker, core. They intentionally foster approachable first impressions to draw people in. They don’t necessarily lie about what they are, but they keep their secrets close until you get to know them better. This gradual unfolding is immersive, surprising, and ends up becoming addictive – what will happen next? As expectations fall away, so do “rules” and predictability.
    2. This deeper core usually revolves around themes that comprise the soul of the work.
  2. Memorable, “rule of cool” characters with realistic psychology.
    1. My favorite characters bring in elements from the most exaggerated genre fiction – unique vibes, tragic backstories, odd features, immense talents, unusual names, exaggerated speaking styles, amazing powers, etc – alongside grounded psychological elements from literary fiction – motives, needs, wants, fears, hopes, complex relationships, inner conflicts, strengths, flaws, contradictions, etc. Combining the fantastical and realistic creates characters who transcend mundane humanity – becoming memorable and iconic – while remaining so achingly human.
    2. These characters have psychologically realistic growth arcs that tie into the story’s themes. Each character often has their own sub-theme, as well.
  3. A distaste for expectation.
    1. This doesn’t mean being satire (far from it), but it does mean flipping tropes around to different angles, combining or using them in unconventional ways, or eschewing common genre tropes entirely.
    2. My favorite stories have some element of surprise – twists, gimmicks, “gasp” moments. Many of them end with a “clincher” – a final twist or shocking moment – instead of a clean resolution arc.
    3. This also applies to concepts like, and especially of, gender. None of my favorite stories have ever entirely accepted gender as a flat, unexplored binary. Some have actually veered into borderline problematic territory, while others handled these themes deftly, but none have blindly accepted the notion of the binary and its roles. When the binary is questioned, even a little, characters instantly become more free and alive.
  4. Sweet, soft moments contrasted by wrenching disasters.
    1. My favorite stories aren’t afraid to toe the line of melodrama, without ever quite crossing over it. Stories should be cathartic – felt in the body, mind, and soul – and they embrace this. In doing so, they include unflinchingly sweet moments between characters and showcase the beauty of their people and worlds. They invite readers (and players, viewers, etc) to sink in and fall in love. They also include moments of brutality, sorrow, shock. They aren’t afraid of diving into the strange and horrific. They are less concerned with being realistic than they are with evoking an emotional reaction. The contrast between joy and horror creates “flashbulb memories” that stick with audiences and keep them coming back for closure.
    2. These stories aim for satisfaction. They don’t time-skip over the most dramatic or impactful moments, even if they take place in resolutions.
    3. “Flashbulb” moments should incorporate – and tie together – the plot, characters, world, and themes. The best of them even take advantage of language in a literary sense.
    4. My favorite stories tend to use tenderness and introspection during “relief” moments, rather than humor.
    5. Often, their endings are bittersweet.
  5. Moments of wonder.
    1. My favorite stories, if even for a moment, invoke wonder. This can be done through character, setting, plot, or even literary language, but most often, comes when one or more of these elements combine with theme. If they all combine with theme, the resonance is stronger still.
    2. To evoke wonder, the story must not be afraid to address the unknown – and often, to leave aspects of the unknown just as unknown at the end of the story. They embrace curiosity, uncertainty, awe, fear, joy, sorrow, life, death, the human, and the divine. They seek to transcend the story world’s own mundanity.
    3. Such stories reach for the sublime. Even if they can’t quite stare it down, they glimpse it. Even if they can’t quite hold on to it, they touch it. They find the magic in the mundane – either literally or metaphorically.
    4. There is often a haunting tone to these stories at their core, both during and after their ending. They carry a certain bittersweet taste. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t also show the simple joy of existence.
  6. Mixed genre classifications.
    1. Most of my favorite stories don’t fit entirely into just one genre – after all, neither does life. My favorites use genres as tools, not limitations.
    2. These stories also often mix elements from the genre fiction and literary fiction umbrellas (as seen in the contrasts present in the other points).

What common threads have you caught running through your own favorite stories? Do any of my factors resonate with you?

Monday Blues: Creepy Little Bedtime Stories

(“Monday” Blues: On the first Monday of the month, I’ll recommend a new world – a book, a game, a podcast, etc – to escape into. Or at least to look forward to after a hard day’s work.)

Creepy Little Bedtime Stories

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A Series of Short Stories by William F. Aicher

What It Is: A series of stand-alone short horror stories, each taking on a unique horror sub-genre and voice.

Why You Should Read It: As part of my recent horror binge, I came across this series of shorts and greatly enjoyed each of them. Each entry in the Creepy Little Bedtime Stories series offers an injection of fast-paced, bite-sized fear. What also makes them fun is that reading through the series will essentially take you on a tour through horror sub-genres, ranging from dark fairy tales to crime horror to body horror. Each entry also has a distinct voice and style – from the tight, clean suspense of Pretty When You Sleep to the abstract, lyrical eeriness of Roommates – showing an impressive range from one author. Like the best horror stories do, each entry explores deeper thematic material under their spooky surfaces. Plus, they’re short enough to read in one sitting, right before your own bedtime.


Night_Plague_Cover_for_Kindle

If you’re looking for even more books to read during the long, gray winter, you can download my apocalyptic vampire novel, Night Plague, for free from my email list.

There’s also free short fiction, including some spooky stories,  available from my website.

Monthly Updates: January 2019

Well, there goes the first month of 2019.

My 2019 Goals

I wrote more about my goals for this year in an earlier post – for this month’s update, I’ll just say that they’ve been keeping me busy. I’ve also been working on a new venture I’m not quite ready to announce yet 😉

If you’re curious about the upcoming novels, feel free to check out their synopses in the meantime. I’d love to hear any feedback or thoughts you have. You can also find a preview of my main project – an epic-length dark fantasy that’s been in the works for several years – in my recent interview with WriterWriter.

New Giveaways

Have you made any reading resolutions this year? I’m going for 52 books – one per week. If you’d like to get your hands on more books without straining your wallet, here’s a new round of giveaways from Prolific Works:

I hope you have a fantastic February!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I hope the night brings you plenty of sweet treats, a pleasant autumn-colored evening, and the fun sort of scares.

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Childhood Friend – Flash Fiction

If you’re looking for a short, spooky read, you can find Childhood Friend, the 1st place flash fiction from the All Hallow’s Prose Halloween competition, on the WriterWriter blog, along with the other winning stories offering bite-sized helpings of horror.

Read them Here.

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LGBTQIA+ Halloween Derby


For fans of LBGTQIA+ fiction, there’s a Halloween Derby going on at Prolific Works with a variety of free paranormal LGBTQIA+ stories.

I’ve got a couple of stories offered here as well, including a new Prolific Works exclusive called Like the Stars, so if you read them, I’d love to know what you think.

Read them Here.

 

My Halloween Recommendations

If you’re looking for more scary stories, these are my personal favorites.

Book: The House of Long Shadows by Ambrose Ibsen

A deceptively terrifying haunted house story with fantastic imagery – I could see the setting so clearly in my mind after finishing it that I may as well have watched a film. This is one of the few horror novels that managed to genuinely crawl under my skin, and one in which I cared about the outcome so much that it got me out of my analytical “writer brain” and turning pages quickly.

Movie: The Babadook

One of the few movies I’ve watched more than once. What seems like a simple, maybe even a little cheesy, movie at first glance hides a powerful metaphor – for grief, for anger, for the mental pains we sometimes try to stuff in the closet – but which always seem to creep out somehow. What’s scarier than that?

Game: The Cat Lady

A chilling, powerful slow burn of a game that delves into its character’s psyche – and the player’s. The game sinks deeper into darkness than nearly any other peace of media I’ve experienced, but it offers glimpses of hope and beauty, too.

Thank you for reading, and have a fantastic November!

(Apologies for the lack of posts lately, too. School has been eating me alive, but I’m hoping to pull out of its grip a bit next month. Although then comes NaNoWriMo. Good luck to any fellow writers participating!)