The Big Bad II: A Release

It’s finally here!

My short story, “Voodooesque” is seeing the light of day in the anthology, The Big Bad II.

Ever find yourself rooting for the bad guy? Are you pulled toward the darkness and all of its charms? Then the second edition of The Big Bad brings you more to love! There are some fantastic authors featured in this collection–I know several of them– and I’m pleased to say female authors and authors of color are represented.

Love the cover of this anthology.  Someone *has* been very bad...

Love the cover of this anthology. Someone *has* been very bad…

From the Dark Oak website, here is the description of the book:

A collection of best-selling fantasy and horror writers brings you twenty-four all-new tales of vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, and the most terrifying monsters of all – humans. Crack open the pages, if you dare, and explore two dozen tales of humor and horror by some of the brightest names in the business!

Here’s the list of titles and authors.  I encourage you to pick up some of their other works as well.  After you’ve finished The Big Bad II, of course!

The Tales:

Mercy’s Armistice – J. T. Glover

A Family Affair – Selah Janel

Old Nonna – Gail Z. Martin

Letters to Logroth – Jason Corner

Skippin’ Stones – S. H. Roddey

The Sea Witch – Kasidy Manisco

A Day in the Life – James R. Tuck

Overkill – Sara Taylor Woods

Voodooesque – Eden Royce

A Fitter Subject for Study – Sarah Joy Adams

Ghosts and Sands – Jay Requard

Teacher of the Year – Riley Miller

Feels Like Justice to Me – Edmund R. Schubert

Portrait of the Artist as a Psychopathic Man – Stuart Jaffe

The House on Cherry Hill – Emily Lavin Leverett

Sticks and Stones – Bobby Nash

Sweet Tooth – Nicole Givens Kurtz

Just Pretending – Linden Flynn

Phone Home – E. D. Guy

I Think of Snow – J. Matthew Saunders

Little Gods – Neal F. Litherland

Drawing Flame -4 Misty Massey

The Witch Hunter – M. B. Weston

The Cully – D. B. Jackson

Buy your copy for The Big Bad II for Kindle or in paperback or in hardback—two print versions!—at Amazon.

If you missed book one, you can get it here: The Big Bad

#Chooseyourhorror

So, I’m crazy.

(According to my mother, since I think I am, I must not be. Cold comfort, but I digress.)

A writer friend of mine, Nicole Kurtz, approached me and asked what I was doing for Women in Horror Month this year. I hadn’t decided anything at the time and she suggested a collaboration. I agreed.

Then came the time to decide on the project. We both wanted to write something horror centered, but different from any other work we’d done. Not thinking it would fly, I suggested doing something in the old school Choose Your Own Adventure style. And Nicole thought it was a great idea.

 

My #chooseyourhorror banner.  Aww... so cute!

My #chooseyourhorror banner.
Aww… so cute!

Not long after that, I came across an article of how difficult these types of books are to write. Then I looked at my list of projects that need to be finished in 2015 and I worried I’d taken on too much. Add on top of that the dreaded second person point of view—it’s frowned upon by publishers now, certainly not popular like it used to be—most of these stories take and I wanted to recant. Run!  Run away!

Enter Twitter.

I thought a good idea might be to involve the Twitter-verse with helping Nicole and I with our ideas on where to take the story. During 2015, we’ll be posting flash fiction on our blogs and giving readers a choice of which path they’d take if they were in the main protagonist’s situation.

Graveyard shift Sisters has posted our project idea on their site, along with one of our banners. Here’s the other:

 

Nicole's #chooseyourhorror banner. So much creepier than mine...

Nicole’s #chooseyourhorror banner.
So much creepier than mine…

 

As Black female speculative fiction writers, Nicole and I are in a minority. There is an idea in the field of horror that woman—especially women of color—don’t enjoy horror. In our circles, that isn’t true. We wanted to give a voice to women that enjoy reading horror: What do you want to read? We’re looking to involve you in a storyline to give us an idea of what female readers of horror are looking for in a tale.

To give you an idea of what we mean, here’s a short flash piece I wrote:

 

You walk down the deserted basement hallway toward the last room on the left, your confident strides from earlier in the day things of memory. B302. Labored, ragged breathing emanates from under the heavy steel door and your hand trembles on the knob as you turn it.

The lamp on the bedside table is covered with a scarf and it colors everything in the dank room with a pale amber hue. With a subtle sniff, you determine the odor of decay emanated from the hospital bed in the far corner.

“Welcome to my humble home, Doctor.” The woman in the bed sneers, her words a seductive hiss. The woman’s papery skin looks moist, her greying hair is lank and greasy, but her eyes are vividly green and wild. You notice she is secured to the bed with wide leather straps across her arms and legs. The way she is bound briefly reminds you of a mummy.

“Good evening, Ms. Costa,” you reply, doing your best to keep your voice steady in spite of the disgust you feel. “I’m Doctor Abrams and I—”

“I know who you are.” Foul-smelling watery discharge seeps from her nose and mouth, but she makes no move.

You check the readings on the beeping monitors along the wall, an unusually long distance from the bed. “I need to check your vitals, Ms. Costa.”

“It’s ‘Miss’ Costa. And call me Marilyn. I’d like for us to be on a first name basis. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

“I’d prefer to keep our relationship professional.”

“Because of my condition?” The woman’s bone-white hands search the bedcovers blindly. Soon a whirring sound severs the quiet and the bed raises her to a sitting position. She watches you closely.

“We’ve run a number of tests and they’ve all come back conclusive,” you tell her.

“I’m pregnant.” Her laughter is hoarse, as though she’s been screaming for hours.

“Miss Costa, this is serious.”

Marilyn laughed without mirth. “Oh, I’d say my case is most definitely serious. I’d go so far as to say it’s a permanent condition, not a terminal one. Terminal means you’ll be released from your suffering at some point.”

“Advances are made every day. There might be—”

“Give me a break, Doctor. We both know that curing me isn’t on the American Medical Association’s list of priorities. Seems they’re more concerned with keeping eighty year-old men with full heads of hair and their willies pointing north.”

 

Your assignment here is to take a blood sample from Marilyn. Do you:

  • Treat her as you would any other patient and tell her your intent?
  • Try to get the sample without warning her beforehand?
  • Come back when you think she’s asleep?
  • Try to drug her and get the sample?

What would you choose in this situation? Or would you do something else? Each choice will lead down a different path. (Some will lead you in a circle. Others to a dead end.)

Check out the full information on our project on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website. Then tweet me @edenroyce and Nicole @nicolegkurtz using the #chooseyourhorror hashtag and tell us what you’d do.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Jayde Brooks

Black girl saves the world.

I’m tempted to leave it at that and post a pre-order link to Jayde Brooks’s new release, Daughter of Gods and Shadows.

The stunning cover art for the new release from Jayde Brooks.

The stunning cover art for the new release from Jayde Brooks.

But I’ll do more than that. I was flattered to have been asked by St. Martin’s press to read an advanced copy of this upcoming release. Daughter is an epic, spanning eons and continents, to bring the heroine, Eden’s–gotta love that name– story to searing life. The characters are placed in real peril, as is the fate of the world. African deities and folklore are brought to the fore, while keeping this story relevant to any reader of dark fiction or fantasy, regardless of color.

Head over to the Graveyard Shift Sisters site to read the full review and interview with Jayde. Daughter of Gods and Shadows will be released February 3 by St Martin’s Press and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Music Review: Venus de Vilo, the Voice of Horror

Typically, I write book reviews. It’s my comfort zone: the place that I go to when I need content for my blog or when I’ve promised to help boost the signal for a fellow indie author’s work.

I know what I love to read and I know when I’ve found a great story. While I will read anything, I think I’ve found my niche when it comes to reviewing: dark fiction written by independent authors. (Especially horror written by women.) I love to support their work because I know what it takes to get the book done. I know what it takes to get the book seen and—hopefully—purchased.

When I was asked to review horror music, I happily agreed. However, I knew I was on unsteady ground. I had no idea what to expect. At first, I thought it would be good to listen to something that would inspire my own dark scribblings. Then I realized I’m not one of those authors who can write to music. Especially since I imagined an album cobbled together of creepy clips from horror movies and death metal demonic screaming.

Venus de Vilo pic

I was wrong.

Venus de Vilo’s voice is haunting—lulling even—and I found myself listening openmouthed while her lyrics dragged me into the recesses of her twisted mind. I also found myself replaying tracks. But I didn’t feel like jumping off a building after listening. Quite the contrary.

Yes, the lyrics and album titles support the horror theme: From the album Handle With Scare, there’s “I Got 99 Zombies and a Witch Ain’t One” and the evilly quirky “Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”.

The type of music I usually enjoy isn’t conducive to writing dark fiction. But music can change outlooks, set mood, and in general give you something to look forward to. Even if it is

But de Vilo’s music is addictive. The Dublin spawned musician is a BCFE Rock School graduate and has been described by The Bite, alternative and goth magazine as “The love child of Marilyn Manson and Amanda Palmer.”

One of my favorite songs was “Personal Satan”. The tune is catchy and I found myself humming it later in the day. Makes me think of a background track over a film montage of a woman getting dressed for a date with the dark lord.

Add to that “Crazy for You”. Seems like it could be a run-of-the-mill romantic song until you get to the lyric about eating her lover’s heart in puff pastry. Well, that’s one way to get him inside of you.

Her album Songs From the Stalker Point of View takes a sympathetic, almost longing look at the deranged, conjuring up thoughts of ruined castles and maidens fleeing across misty moors.

Find Venus De Vilo, The Voice of Horror, Queen of The Pumpkin Patch and her music here: https://venusdevilo.bandcamp.com/music

If music isn’t enough, Venus also has horror comics and calendars for sale on the merchandise tab of her Bandcamp page.

Follow Venus on her Facebook page and check out a few videos and pick up some of her music. Uptempo guitar strumming with alternative horror lyrics: stalking, cannibalism, and other darkness. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines. It’s from the song, “Bubbleglum”:

“Misery like bubbleglum/ I brought enough for everyone…”

I may start adding a playlist to the end of my stories and books in 2015. If I do, Venus de Vilo’s music will definitely be front and center.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Lori Titus

It’s a new year and I have some great new interviews with some amazing authors for you!

Starting out 2015’s Black female horror author spotlights on the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog is author Lori Titus and her epic post-apocalyptic tale, The Guardians of Man.

Photo of author, Lori Titus

Photo of author, Lori Titus

This story is a bit different from others you’ve read about on my blog and on the Graveyard Shift Sisters site as it was a collaborative story that began with an idea formed by two authors: Crystal Connor and Lori Titus. You’ll find Guardians is published under the name Connor Titus. (Fantastic pen name, by the way.)

You’ll also find there is more than one book in this world, but they’re not technically sequels. The story grew and Lori and Crystal each decided to spearhead their own version of the story from the ideas they spawned together.

Guardians of Man cover

Guardians of Man cover

Crystal will chat with me later in the year, but for now, hop over  to the Graveyard Shift Sisters site and to read my review of The Guardians of Man and my interview with the super talented Lori.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Angel Manor: A Review

While I will read any and everything, I go out of my way to read horror written by women because I think women are underrepresented in the realm of horror writers. Recently, I had the chance to read Angel Manor by Chantal Noordeloos. I’d seen Chantal abound Facebook, but had never read her work. Now that I have, I will use one word to describe the novel: unapologetic.

I don't have an irrational fear of clergy, but this cover is certainly shudder worthy.

I don’t have an irrational fear of clergy, but this cover is certainly shudder worthy.

Angel Manor begins with what most would call I shocking scene: a bevy of nude nuns performing ritual sacrifice on children. This might go too far for some, but thankfully, I went to Catholic school, so I’m made of pretty stern stuff.

Fast forward to current day and we meet our protagonists. Freya is the new owner of an inherited property and Bam and Oliver are her friends/business partners. But this beautiful house is hiding a dark secret that could destroy everything.

A full-length novel needs several subplots to give the reader a breather from the main conflict and enhance tension. Noordeloos knows this and inserts several just-as-interesting sidebars in addition to the homicidal sisters. Even these mini-plots invoked excitement and fear.

There is no shortage of death in the book. Noordeloos has no problem killing her darlings or describing their demises to the reader in literal gory detail. And what detail it is. Lavishly described, violent, and bloody.

Sex and seduction are also well handled. For me, sex and horror pair well. However, the tone that the bow-chicka-wow-wow takes can pull the reader away from the horror elements of the story. I’ve read some horror novels where I ask myself: When did this become a romance? Not here. Enough care is taken so the occurrence doesn’t read like obligatory sexy time or a “look at my boobies—ooh, I stabbed you!” distraction technique.

Photo of Angel Manor author, Noordeloos.

Photo of Angel Manor author, Noordeloos.

The style of writing Noordeloos uses is one I enjoy. Action is paced well and I didn’t wonder how much more evidence the characters needed before they started to do something.

The last section of the book twisted my sympathies with several of the characters. It begged the question: Do the ends justify the means? Are the lives of a few worth risking to ensure that humanity lives on? If so, should those deaths be in the most humane way possible?

Maybe I’ll find out in Book Two. Hope you’ll join me as it’s a worthy read.

Graveyard Shift Sisters: Sci-Fi Sunday with Valjeanne Jeffers

When I asked Valjeanne Jeffers which of her books is the best introduction to her work in order to interview her for my blog and the Graveyard Shift Sisters website, she didn’t hesitate before she replied, “Voyage of Dreams”.

And after reading it, I agree.

“Voyage of Dreams” is a collection of shorts from Jeffers longer works, intended as teaser for readers to have a taste of the genres the author writes in. There is horror, there is steampunk, there is erotica, there is sci-fi…

Now I must disclose that “Voyage of Dreams” does not have complete stories. Don’t pick it up unless you’re ready to understand that these are excerpts—written book trailers, if you will.  They will lure you in and give you the need to know what happens next.  You will come to hate the words, “To be Continued” (if you don’t already) and want to purchase the full-length novels. If you prefer to have an entire story right up front, I suggest reading the excerpts from her work on her Amazon author page and choosing a tale.

Jeffers has an enviable way with creating multi-cultural characters that leap beyond stereotypes. Her descriptions and imagery wrap you into the storylines.  For writers, we are always searching for the “hook” that snags the reader quickly and Jeffers has figured that out.

She also creates strong female characters and I can never have enough of those. In Awakening, she sets her sights on freeing Nandi, a young African girl from the societal and family pressures of playing the part of princess. Nandi finds her way to becoming the warrior she craves to be, but not without significant bloodshed.

Author and editor, Valjeanne Jeffers.

Author and editor, Valjeanne Jeffers.

My other favorites?

Colony: Ascension – Reads like sci-fi horrorotica. A young female astronaut desperate to find life outside of Earth finds answers as she wakes up a captive of an alien race.

Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective – Bizarre murders, a serial killer that is able to continue his work after death, and a female detective from the country who is the city cops’ last resort to stopping a plot that may affect all of North America.

Websites:

www.vjeffersandqveal.com (for buying books)

http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/valjeanne.jeffers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Valjeanne

https://twitter.com/Karlawerewolf

https://twitter.com/Tehotep

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tehotep/

Read my interview with Valjeanne on the Graveyard Shift Sister’s website here.