Graveyard Shift Sister: Michele Berger

Horror meets Black hair care.

When I found out about Michele Berger’s latest release, Reenu-You, I knew I had to reach out to her to discuss her inspiration for the book, the strength of sisterhood, and how she’d never before thought of herself as a horror writer.

Well, welcome to the sisterhood, Michele. We’re glad to have you.

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Read the entire review and interview on Graveyard Shift Sisters.

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Alice’s Scars: A Release

HorrorAddicts.net launches their Horror Bites series with an Alice-inspired story by Adam L. Bealby.

When he met Alice, he wasn’t prepared to go down the rabbit hole. His love for her pushes him into the uncomfortable realization she might be mad. He wants to keep her safe, but what if that’s not what Alice wants?

“Adam Bealby has written a mini masterpiece that explores mental illness, drug addiction, and real life horror.”      ~David Watson, The All-Night Library

Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars by Adam Bealby is just 99 cents at Amazon.com

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A look inside…

When I first met her she was Katie, soon to be Alice. It was her first day at Uni, my second, and her scars intrigued me. They lined her cheeks like tribal markings and the way she caked her face in foundation, you could tell they were forever on her mind. It helped, of course, that she was a beautiful Goth girl. I wanted to save her, share her pain, kiss her, and fuck her, too. I asked her what she kept in the drawstring purse around her neck.

“Money,” she said dismissively, turning away to talk to someone else at the bar.

She disappeared soon after. I only found out later how drunk she got, how she spent the rest of the night over a toilet bowl with Jackie holding her hair clear of her mouth. Her first and last run-in with alcohol. Alice had too much else going on in her life to get any more screwed up.

I dogged her all through freshers’ week. Instead of dorms, she’d been accommodated in a little house just off campus. A new friend I met lived there too, so it was an easy thing to fall in with her motley crew, drawn together by circumstance as we were. I became a regular in their kitchen, smoking weed and trying too hard—as we all did—to be quirky and cool.

We struck up conversation over a jar of pesto. I didn’t know what it was and she couldn’t believe it. I strung it out, made it appear I was more ignorant than I actually was, and I got her laughing. When I said her pesto looked like rabbit food she blushed, right through all that paint and powder.

“You don’t know the first thing about rabbits,” she said, and she showed me what was in her drawstring purse. It was a tiny white rabbit’s foot. It freaked me out and yet I felt even more attracted to her. It was my in, a secret shared. Looking at the severed foot I felt myself getting hard and I had to sit down for fear she’d notice.

She ran away that evening. We were all stoned and a bit drunk, talking about our parents, being glib, critical, or overly generous. She burst into tears and ran out of the kitchen and into the night, not even bothering to put her shoes on. We made an extravagant show of hunting for her, shouting her name up and down the street. Pete the Poet, as we later christened him, came out to help from next door. The way John shouted Katie’s name in his Irish accent, Pete thought we’d lost a cat. We had a good laugh about that.

But it wasn’t funny when we found Katie. She was hunkered down by the bushes on a bit of common area at the end of the row.

“Katie? What are you looking for?” I asked as we gathered round in a concerned hub.

“He was here,” she muttered. She’d been pawing at the dirt. Her fingers were black. “I saw him, but he got away from me.”

“Who was here, Katie?”

She looked up. The glare from a passing car lent her eyes a lustrous sheen.

“Alice. Call me Alice from now on, okay? Do you know what time it is? The days all seem to blur into one.”

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Adam L. Bealby writes fantasy, horror and weird fiction for both adults and children. His short stories and comic work have been published in numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Pagan (Zimbell House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon a Scream (HorrorAddicts.net), Sirens (World Weaver Press), World Unknown Review Vol. 2, rEvolution (MiFiWriters) and Murky Depths magazine. He lives in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and three children, and a harried imagination. Catch up with his latest ravings at @adamskilad.

Also from Horror Addicts:

Once Upon a Scream, featuring “The Other Daughter” by Adam L. Bealby

Once Upon a Scream…there was a tradition of telling tales with elements of the fantastic along with the frightful. Adults and children alike took heed not to go into the deep, dark woods, treat a stranger poorly, or make a deal with someone-or something-without regard for the consequences. Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. From wish-granting trolls, to plague curses, and evil enchantresses, these tales will have you hiding under the covers in hopes they don’t find you. So lock your doors, shutter your windows, and get ready to SCREAM.

HorrorAddicts.net for Horror Addicts, by Horror Addicts

Listen to the HorrorAddicts.net podcast for the latest in horror news, reviews, music, and fiction.

HorrorAddicts.net Press

www.horroraddicts.net

Emily Knight I Am… – A Review

I don’t know if I’ve ever reviewed a YA novel for this blog before. Not that I’ve specifically excluded them, but …

*shrugs*

Well, now I am. And it’s a wonderful one to start with: Emily Knight I Am… by A. Bello.

I met her in September of last year at the Triskele Literary Festival in London. She was fun and energetic, and her work was so impressive. She was also a finalist for the Great British Entrepreneurship Award in 2016. For more on that and the press she’s started, you can read my interview with her on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website.

When she asked if I would review Emily Knight, I was flattered. Her book has a brand-new cover, more vibrant than the last in my humble opinion.

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Emily Knight is a troubled thirteen year-old girl, who takes her frustration out on the world around her. She fights, she steals, and is unrepentant when caught. She doesn’t need to steal, she’s from one of the wealthiest, most well-known families around. The paparazzi have captured many of her thefts on camera.

But Emily is crying out for attention. Her father hasn’t been home in years, instead he’s searching the planet for her long-lost brother, Lox. Both Emily’s father and brother are famous fighters, with the ability to fly, breathe underwater, command fire. While Emily is struggling to control her power. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, she’s still unhappy.

When Emily gets the chance to go to the Osaki Training School, where her father and brother attended, she’s nervous. She wants to learn, but is worried the other students (and teachers) will expect more from her and she won’t be able to deliver. She’s Thomas Knight’s daughter, after all.

Soon, what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter as an evil older than she is resurfaces, and Emily will have to use her intelligence and cunning to protect everything and everyone she loves.

Emily Knight I Am… is a page-turner, full of magic and dojo-style fights, perfect for any reader that loves to watch an imperfect character grow into a hero.

It’s rare for me to read about a character of color from a wealthy, famous family who is tested and challenged to become something more than she started to be. The teachers as well as the students in the Osaki Training School are of diverse backgrounds, both racially and socio-economically, which makes it feel like a real specialist school. The lessons are fascinating, and I was amazed to find out that there is real danger of injury and pain for the students.

The second book in the series Emily Knight I Am…Awakened will be launched here in the UK on September 28th at Waterstone’s Islington 6:30-8:00pm. If you can’t make it, grab a copy of Bello’s Emily Knight I Am… on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe: A Review

I love short stories.

I love beautiful, touching horror.

So it stands to reason that I love Gwendolyn Kiste’s work.

I’ve been reading her short stories in various publications for a while now, and I always get this little thrum of anticipation when I see her name as byline. Now, JournalStone has published a full collection of her stories and it is what you need to escape. To delve into another world and lose yourself… just for a while.

One of the things I enjoy about the collection is that it’s horror that’s decidedly pro-woman and girl. In these stories, we have voices and take action — we drive the story forward in these dark and lingering tales.

Head on over to The Horror Review to read the full review of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe.

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The Missing Girl: Pre-Release

Coming from BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS in September 2017, is THE MISSING GIRL, a flash fiction chapbook by Jacqueline Doyle.

In Doyle’s collection of flash fiction tales, The Missing Girl, the voicelessness of the missing is palpable, the girls’ stories whispered into a vacuum or recounted from the point of view of a predator, murderer, or voyeur. Violence lurks below the surface here, haunts the back pages of newspapers, takes up residence in your dreams.

You know a missing girl.

BLURB:

A driver lures a young girl into his car. A woman recalls a not-so-innocent childhood game. A man reveals much more than he’ll ever tell the police. After a high school girl is murdered, everyone has an opinion. A girl wakes beside a dumpster to find slut scrawled on her body. A girl speaks up after a crime—but is she telling the truth? And could you blame her if she’s not?

The Missing Girl is available for pre-order at a discount ($6.95—$2 off the list price) on the Black Lawrence Press website.

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Advance praise:

“In these dark and edgy stories, Jacqueline Doyle has made a dispassionate study of the degradation of girls and the twisted hearts of those who harm them. Most chilling is the ease with which these characters fall prey to violence and how quickly depravity finds its way past the surface of ordinary situations. Prepare to be very disturbed.”

–Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen (National Book Award Finalist 2016)

“Full of sex, lies, and vivid insights into the human compulsion to do the wrong thing, these stories go down easy but hit hard. A powerful and provocative collection.”

–Frances Lefkowitz, author of To Have Not

 

AUTHOR BIO: 

Jacqueline Doyle has published creative nonfiction and fiction in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her flash has appeared in magazines such as Quarter After Eight, [PANK], Monkeybicycle, Sweet, The Café Irreal, Post Road, The Pinch, and the anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. She lives with her husband and son in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she teaches at Cal State East Bay.

Find her online at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 

FIYAH Lit Mag Issue #1: A Review

I was breathless to read the first issue of Fiyah Lit Mag, but I forced myself to wait until I finished reading my current book. That was not easy, I promise you. I’ve felt this was needed for a long time.

Finally, I opened it. I’d kept myself away from reading other reviews of the mag, although I knew it to be astounding because I’ve seen the first seven words of Tweets about its stunning portrayals of POCs in speculative fiction worlds.

I’m with those Tweeters. Believe. But first, that cover:

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“Rebirth” is the theme of the first of what I hope will be many issues of this mag. And each author has wound it seamlessly into the story only they can tell. It reads like they all sat around a table, clutching their caffeinated beverage of choice, and brainstormed how to make readers stare at the page in fascination. Which authors? The ToC is below:

Long Time Lurker, First Time Bomber — by Malon Edwards

Police Magic — by Brent Lambert

Revival — by Wendi Dunlap

The Shade Caller — by Davaun Sanders

We Have Ended — by V.H. Galloway

Chesirah — by L.D. Lewis

 

Edward’s “Long Time Lurker, First Time Bomber” is set in a futuristic world of robotics and impermanent death.

“Police Magic” shows us boys on a quest to find a way to end a dark magic taking over the world.

“The Shade Caller” and “We Have Ended” have alternate reality versions of Africa, but hold true to the storytelling traditions and lore.

In “Revival” you think you know what’s going to happen, but the story will take you of guard.

“Chesirah” gives us a strong female protagonist and the lengths she will go to for freedom, surprising even herself.

Each author’s voice is distinct, yet they all call out from within the African diaspora. Premises of freedom, expression, love, and sacrifice abound, dancing equally as well with tech implants as they do with magical creatures. Issue #1 sings, it shouts, it resonates with who we are and what we strive to be. It is the voice of Black spec fic.

It doesn’t shy away from where we’ve been, but its head is turned toward the future, feeling the wind coming off the sea of change on its scalp. And y’all know that feels good.

So pick up a copy of Fiyah Lit Mag, Issue #1. Read these stories of where Black Speculative Fiction is and where it’s going. You’ll want to come along for the ride.

Freeks: Book Release and Blog Tour

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I’m so excited to share an excerpt from Amanda Hocking’s new release Freeks out now from St. Martin’s Griffin. I love a carnival setting for a dark, creepy read and Hocking, A New York Times best-selling author, delivers.

How do I know? Here, have an excerpt:

1. premonitions

My feet rested against the dashboard of the Winnebago as we lumbered down the road, the second vehicle in a small caravan of beat-up trailers and motorhomes.

The sun hadn’t completely risen yet, but it was light enough that I could see outside. Not that there was much to see. The bridge stretched on for miles across Lake Tristeaux, and I could see nothing but the water around us, looking gray in the early morning light.

The AC had gone out sometime in Texas, and we wouldn’t have the money to fix it until after this stint in Caudry, if we were lucky. I’d cracked the window, and despite the chill, the air felt thick with humidity. That’s why I never liked traveling to the southeastern part of the country—too humid and too many bugs.

But we took the work that we got, and after a long dry spell waiting in Oklahoma for something to come up, I was grateful for this. We all were. If we hadn’t gotten the recommendation to Caudry, I’m not sure what we would’ve done, but we were spending our last dimes and nickels just to make it down here.

I stared ahead at Gideon’s motorhome in front of us. The whole thing had been painted black with brightly colored designs swirling around it, meant to invoke images of mystery and magic. The name “Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow” was painted across the back and both the sides. Once sparkles had outlined it, but they’d long since worn off. My eyelids began to feel heavy, but I tried to ward off sleep. The radio in the car was playing old Pink Floyd songs that my mom hummed along to, and that wasn’t helping anything.

“You can go lay down in the back,” Mom suggested.

She did look awake, her dark gray eyes wide and a little frantic, and both her hands gripped the wheel. Rings made of painted gold and cheap stones adorned her fingers, glinting as the sun began to rise over the lake, and black vine tattoos wrapped around her hands and down her arms.

For a while, people had mistaken us for sisters since we looked so much alike. The rich caramel skin we both shared helped keep her looking young, but the strain of recent years had begun to wear on her, causing crow’s feet to sprout around her eyes and worried creases to deepen in her brow.

I’d been slouching low in the seat but I sat up straighter. “No, I’m okay.”

“We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” she insisted.

“You say we’re almost there, but it feels like we’re driving across the Gulf of Mexico,” I said, and she laughed. “We’ve probably reached the Atlantic by now.”

She’d been driving the night shift, which was why I was hesitant to leave her. We normally would’ve switched spots about an hour or two ago, with me driving while she lay down. But since we were so close to our destination, she didn’t see the point in it.

On the worn padded bench beside the dining table, Blossom Mandelbaum snored loudly, as if to remind us we both should be sleeping. I glanced back at her. Her head lay at a weird angle, propped up on a cushion, and her brown curls fell around her face.

Ordinarily, Blossom would be in the Airstream she shared with Carrie Lu, but since Carrie and the Strongman had started dating (and he had begun staying over in their trailer), Blossom had taken to crashing in our trailer sometimes to give them privacy.

It wasn’t much of a bother when she slept here, and in fact, my mom kind of liked it. As one of the oldest members of the carnival—both in age and the length of time she’d been working here—my mom had become a surrogate mother to many of the runaways and lost souls that found us. Blossom was two years younger than me, on the run from a group home that didn’t understand her or what she could do, and my mom had been more than happy to take her under her wing. The only downside was her snoring. Well, that and the telekinesis.

“Mara,” Mom said, her eyes on the rearview mirror. “She’s doing it again.”

“What?” I asked, but I’d already turned around to look back over the seat. At first, I didn’t know what had caught my mom’s eye, but then I saw it—the old toaster we’d left out on the counter was now floating in the air, hovering precariously above Blossom’s head.

The ability to move things with her mind served Blossom well when she worked as the Magician’s Assistant in Gideon’s act, but it could be real problematic sometimes. She had this awful habit of unintentionally pulling things toward her when she was dreaming. At least a dozen times, she’d woken up to books and tapes dropping on her. Once my mom’s favorite coffee mug had smacked her right in the head.

“Got it,” I told my mom, and I unbuckled my seat belt and went over to get it. The toaster floated in front of me, as if suspended by a string, and when I grabbed it, Blossom made a snorting sound and shifted in her sleep. I turned around with the toaster under my arm, and I looked in front of us just in time to see Gideon’s trailer skid to the side of the road and nearly smash into the guardrail.

“Mom! Look out!” I shouted.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

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Grab a copy of Freeks from Macmillan, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Find out more about Amanda on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, and Pinterest.