Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Guest Post by Charlotte Platt

Halloween in Scotland 
Halloween in Scotland in quite the event. Not because we’re a nation obsessed with spirits - of all types - or because of the dark – the sun runs off at four P.M. so you know it’s pitch by the time ghosts and ghouls come out for sweets - but because everything here is done just a little bit differently. 
To start off, the holiday titles aren’t the same. While Halloween, or Hallowe’en for the traditional, is the best known name for the night of 31 October you are more likely to come across it being called Samhain (or Samhuinn in Gaelic) north of the border. An ancient Celtic festival, Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the start of the cold dark times, and was traditionally celebrated on the 1 November. It was any easy leap to join the Christian festival of All Saint’s Day to this, and a large number of the pagan traditions around Samhain were simply brought into the celebrations for All Hallow’s Eve. 
This included the past time of guising, where children dressed up as evil spirits or creatures by painting their face black and using old clothes saved through the year. The reason for guising was twofold: in part to be a scary creature for the night and in part to blend in with the restless dead, known as the sluagh, so the children wouldn’t be carried off to the underworld. 
Guising is similar to the more well known trick or treating, in so much as the children would go door to door asking for gifts, but things aren’t just handed over. Children have to perform their tricks before a treat will be given, and this is usually a joke, a poem, a magic trick or a song – the ruder or funnier, the better. 
There are other cross over activities which will feel familiar but have a slightly different meaning in this slightly different Halloween. Apples dookin’, where one tries to capture an apple from a barrel of water with either a fork between the teeth or a well placed chomp while your hands are tied behind your back, is of course similar to bobbing for apples. But treacle scones, where your challenge is to take a bite out of, surprisingly, a treacle covered scone hanging from the ceiling by a thread, while you are blindfolded and have your hands are tied behind your back, is far messier and likely to cause hair, costume and palette issues (unless you’re very fond of treacle.) 
Some Scottish traditions simply don’t translate over in the same way. Take the humble pumpkin: a versatile squash known for spooky faces, Starbucks coffee and tasty pasty treats. Hardly a Halloween image is complete without the pumpkin lanterns adorning porches and pathways, leading trick or treaters along their way to the door. Not so in Scotland! In a land where pumpkins were not so popular and concern was more over evil spirits than fun sized chocolate bars, the Jack-o-lantern was forsaken for something far less enchanting: neep lanterns. 
A neep lantern is a neep, or turnip, carved out and given a spooky face, with a small candle like a tea light put inside. The lantern is then placed on the windowsill to spook off any unwelcome dead. Not so different, one might say, to a pumpkin lantern. However, the undertaking of making a neep lantern is significantly more of a challenge. Turnips are a round, hardy root vegetable which are commonly fed to livestock as well as being added to soups, strews and roasts. They are solid right through and have no handy stem with which to form a handle for the lid. As such, a neep lantern often looks more Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein than the grinning ghouls pumpkin lanterns depict, and is best off in the window. 
A lot of Halloween traditions in Scotland centre around love: love for the dead who might revisit family left behind, and love for the future. Singletons looking for their prospective spouse had a choice of two divinations of Halloween – peel an apple or pull a kale. For the fruit lovers, you peel the skin of an apple to get as long a strip as possible, then throw it over your shoulder. The shape it lands in is said to show the first letter of your spouse’s name. For those of a more green and leafy disposition, you must go out into the growing patch at night and, with your eyes closed, pull out a kale stalk. The length and shape of the stalk is said to show your spouses height and body shape, and any dirt attached signified wealth. This later tradition is discussed in Robert Burn’s 1785 poem Halloween and though it has fallen out of favour more recently it is still well known in the north Highlands. 
Couples already in love, and engaged, could take advantage of Halloween night to do a little fortune telling as well. Roasting nuts is a well established and delicious past time in the UK, and should the almost weds wish to see how their marriage would fare they were encouraged to toss some into the fire. If they burned and cooked quietly the marriage was to be smooth, but if the nuts hissed and spat the couple could expect a stormy coupling. 
Those who had lost a loved one, be it spouse or other family member, were told to leave an empty chair and a plate of food out over Halloween night. This was so any returning spirits could pass some time at the home and see the family was hale and hearty, before moving on to the afterlife. The offering of a place at the table was also felt to dissuade the sluagh from carting off any recently deceased souls, a risk taken so seriously that certain places broke their bier, a wooden frame that a corpse or coffin was carried to graves on. 
Lastly and by no means least, one of the biggest traditions in Scotland is fire. Halloween is more popular by far than the English centred Guy Fawkes Night, with bonfires and candles lit to scare off the evil spirits. These can be community bonfires, backyard parties or just your neep lantern, flickering away in the window. Some land owners took this several steps further, lighting torches and walking the boundary of their land to drive off any evil lurking at the far corners. 
With the symbolic death of the year and the onset of the long nights, any excuse for a bonfire, revelry, and some shared drinks is welcome. In Scotland, the Halloween celebrations are tied to family, home and love with the sharp reminder that not only you are running around in the dark. While some of these have fallen out of favour for the more easily recognised trappings of modern Halloween, it can surprise and delight you to find out just where some of the older traditions are hiding. 

Guest Post by Charlotte Platt

Best Halloween 
As a previously spooky goth kid who grew up into an executive goth adult, Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year. I love any excuse to dress up old school, though my day to day attire can be on the casual gothic side anyway. This look has mixed results, often leading to me being seen as spooky all the time so no friends have Halloween specific memories associated with me. There are worse things for a horror writer to hear, to be fair. 
My best Halloween was in Glasgow, a city with more of a pulse than most and which is always in search of a good party. Halloween weekend is full of ghost walks, costume parties and ill-advised drinking games, with competitive student groups going round the city to outdo each other in feats of style, daring and drinking. Or, you can get creepy on the cheap and go to a house party – more booze, less door charges, hopefully, more chance of waking up without an ill-advised piercing or sharpie tattoo.  
Being nineteen and still firmly willing to embrace the spooky aesthetic for my costume I was dressed to depress, as a vampire. With bloodied lips, huge khol eyes and my already anaemic skin highlighted enough to glow, I did my black hair in a messy set of curls and set out to meet a bunch of friends at such a party. 
It was a mix of Scottish Halloween traditions, like dookin’ apples and ghost stories, and general party fun with a cauldron of punch and music. Thankfully we’d decided to skip the actual candles in the pumpkin and neep lanterns, so fairy lights replacing the risk of unintended arson. The party lasted well into the morning and at around three a.m. one of my friends cried off, drunk as a skunk and wanting to head home. As I lived in the city centre I said I’d walk them, and we set off into the mad night. 
Glasgow city centre is well lit, generally busy and easy to make your way through as it’s built on a grid system so most things are on a straight line. This should have made taking said friend home easy, as I knew where they lived and could get there quick. Given that we were an odd pair of vampire and zombie I expected we’d get a few cat-calls on the way but the revelry was good natured and I had no concern about walking back on my own.
However, little Romero Junior decides they want to visit a graveyard because it’s Halloween night and this is the best time to see them. Not that hard in Glasgow, there is both a necropolis and a cathedral with its own graveyard. These are easily reachable by walking about a mile from where we were so, zombie in tow, I start heading for the dead people. 
The walk up to Glasgow Cathedral is a nice one; the road is long but in two straight lines and the bars are interspaced with enough shops that you avoid the pavement scrum of the main streets. We stumble along our route as Thriller narrates what they expect we could find in the graveyard. There could be ghosts. Might be ghouls. There certainly could be some witches, maybe even sexy witches, up to nefarious purposes on this hallowed night. I remained firmly of the view that there will probably be graves, gravestones and if we’re unlucky more idiots like us, but it’s harmless fun and we’ll be done soon. 
We arrive at Glasgow Cathedral. It is, as usual, imposingly beautiful – a large sandstone creation, stained black from the pollution of the city and well-lit by strategically placed floodlights that show off the spire and stained-glass windows. The graveyard is the old fashioned sort, with a mixture of stood and flat grave markers that you can pick your way around while circling the outside of the building. The necropolis, our very own city of the dead, is accessed over a footbridge that was blessedly locked, so to the cathedral it was. 
The graveyard is on a hill, as many things in Glasgow are, and it was an easy enough job to pick our way down the grass and trees to find the gate and explore it. Past midnight, on our own, because we’re making good life choices. The floodlights for the cathedral offer us some idea of where we are going and Rob Zombie is delighted, so mission complete. We can tour the listed dead, wrangle the Walking Dead back to their flat and head home myself to sleep through the day like my costume suggests. 
This is all going to plan until, as we round the corner of the far side of the south wing, we start to hear noises. Not the shouts and yells of student groups, or the noise of traffic off the roads, but rustling. Something like the tree branches moving, or someone stepping through the long grass.  Re-Animator and I freeze, looking at each other. It’s Scotland in October, it could be the wind. Then it happens again. 
In this part of the graveyard there are several large memorial stones, long and low like beds in the ground, sat close to the boundary wall. There’s a bit of room to the back, enough for someone to get in to clean the stone or mow the grass, but not much else, and the rustling is coming from them. Of course Dawn of the Dead feels this is a sign of contact from the other side and lunges towards it with all the enthusiasm of a St Bernard puppy. Following them and sliding along the wet grass we skid our way down to the stones, bumping in to one to bring us to a stop. 
The noise was certainly louder there, and as we held our breath creeping forward there was the distinct grind of a stone moving behind the largest monument. Evil Dead grins at me, nodding their enthusiasm at this sign we are about to discover the link to the afterlife. I wondered if we were about to find someone hiding a body and got my phone out lest we need to call for actual help. 
 Breaching over the edge of the stones we find not just one body but two, engaged in what my mother would call the horizontal tango. I burst out laughing, Resident Evil groans in frustration and the couple look up, shrieking when they see a corpse and a vampire getting their voyeuristic kicks off of this ill-fated graveyard coupling. They fumbled, we ran, and I corralled The Serpent and The Rainbow back home with a vague sense of guilt about ruining someone’s fun. To make up for this I grabbed a bunch of Shock Wave’s Halloween sweets as I tipped them into bed and took their couch for hibernation.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

SCAPEGOAT by Adam Howe and James Newman

I'm familiar with Adam Howe and James Newman's work, and I know what they are compable of. I also know they're both wrestling fans. I'm a huge 80s and 90s wrestling fan. So, when I started reading SCAPEGOAT, I thought I was going to be ring side at Wrestlemania III. You know, the one where Hulk Hogan body slams Andre the Giant, sending Hulkamania into a frenzy. But I got an even better experience than that with SCAPEGOAT. An experience only Howe and Newman can concoct. 

Three friends, Mike Rawson, Lonnie Deveraux, Pork Chop, and Cindi, a random bar girl, take a thrilling RV road trip to Wrestlemania III. There's more to the bar girl than meets the eye. The guys dip into the drugs and alcohol and take an ill-conceived detour through the backwoods of Kentucky. It doesn't take long for them to get lost in the sticks. To make matters worse, Lonnie accidentally runs over a lady running for her life. The guys find themselves in a bleek situation. The lady is carved up with the seven deadly sins. The guys check on her, and find themselves in the sights of her captors. It turns out, the men chasing her are local redneck cultists and she is their sacrificial scapegoat. I didn't know what a sacrificial scapegoat was until I read this book. My mind exploded, folks. Things get worse for our protagonists. They are thrown into the bowels of the backwoods town. The cult comprises the townsfolk and nowhere is safe. 

SCAPEGOAT is an engrossing read. Adam Howe and James Newman do a splendid job of creating an ultra-violent hillbilly horror story. Even though Adam Howe is British, he still vividly captures the Kentucky backcountry. James Newman brings the empathy. He makes you empathize with the deranged hicks. And there's a good reason for their unhinged and off-kilter behavior.

You will want to slice out a good hour or two to read this one. SCAPEGOAT grabs you by the collar and refuses to let go until you've turned the last page. From start to finish, there's not a dull moment in this book. The story is brutal and the ending is devastating. Just when you think the worst is behind the protagonists, Howe and Newman pour on the gore. There were times when I had to shut the book, so I could regain my composure. SCAPEGOAT is a fierce read. 

Don't forget to read the author's notes. There's some great stuff in there, guys. There's also a great playlist to SCAPEGOAT. I've been listening to those songs all afternoon whilst writing this review. 

If you've never read either author, then SCAPEGOAT is a great place to start reading. Howe and Newman keep getting better with every release. I look forward to reading their future work. 

Strongly Recommend!

OUT BEHIND THE BARN by John Boden and Chad Lutzke

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is one of those reads that you don't see coming. It's different than anything I've read from Chad Lutze. This is my first time reading John Boden. His writing is solid, which can only mean one thing... I'm going to give his other work a go. I love finding new authors to read. It's the best feeling in the world, besides reading a good book, and OUT BEHIND THE BARN doesn't disappoint. 

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is a short novella. John Boden and Chad Lutzke smoothly collaborate on this harrowing tale of life and death. The two authors write some compelling prose. The characters make the story. The characters are three-dimensional. The authors drop tiny hints along the way to their pulse-pounding conclusion. I was completely invested in the characters. The ending catches you by surprise, leaving you gutted, yet satisfied. 

My only complaint with OUT BEHIND THE BARN is not getting a certain character's perspective. I just wanted one more chapter to explore Maggie. Who knows, maybe the two authors will revisit this one in the future. If nothing else, I would like to read another collaboration by Boden and Lutzke. 

If you haven't read Lutzke and Boden, then this is a good starting point. They write with heart and empathy–two characteristics that make great authors. 


HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL: VOLUME TWO edited by Brian James Freeman

This anthology is not quite as good as the original. Don't get me wrong, some of these short stories are great, but some fall flat. Brian James Freeman did an excellent job of editing and arranging the five tales. The cover is beautiful, isn't it? I think it fits the theme perfectly. Halloween is upon us. 

The first story is Mr. Dark's Carnival by Glen Hirshberg. Halloween in Clarkson, Montana is much more than an annual event. David is a history professer who teaches folklore at the local college. His preferred folk tale is Mr. Dark's Carnival. Although, David doesn't know anyone who's personally been to the carnival doesn't mean it's not out there waiting for you. Rumor has it that the enigmatic carnival appears out in the middle of nowhere every year on Halloween. This is David's lucky year; his ticket gets punched. He's finally going to find out if the legend is true. Isn't that intriguing AF? 

The Facts in the Case of My Sister by Lee Thomas is a subtle tale containing consequential magic. David's estranged sister, Joyce, is in the hospital due to an "accident". The past comes hurdling to the present, destroying all of David's preconceived notions. You kind of know where the story is going, but the ending is still gut-wrenching. It wasn't Halloween–ish at all, though.

Mischief Night by Holly Newstein is about a prank gone wrong. It's set on the night before Halloween. The assistant principal, Mr. Worrall, is celebrating his retirement with a bottle of the good stuff. A group of boys decide to prank him... and that's when things go terribly wrong. 

The Ghost Maker by Del James is about a disreputable hitman attending a Halloween party. Weakest story in the book. 

The Pumpkin Boy by Al Sarrantonio brings the October magic. The tale is set in Sarrantonio's Orangefield. With the Pumpkin Boy, Sarrantonio brings the tricks and the treats. Children go missing. The Pumpkin Boy is linked to the disappearances. Detective Len Schneider discovers far worst than missing children. I will definitely have to read Sarrantonio's Orangefield books. 

Overall, this collection was good. Some stories are better than others. I read this anthology in a few sittings. HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL: VOLUME TWO has some memorable stories, but it also has some duds that fell flat. If you are looking for a good read during the Halloween season, then this anthology series will suffice. I look forward to reading the third volume in this series. 



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Interview with Ian Welke

Interview with Ian Welke, Contributing Author to Doorbells at Dusk Anthology 

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? 

Maybe when I first read Lord of the Rings as a kid. But I didn’t start writing seriously until much later. When Firefly was canceled I wanted more Firefly stories so I wrote one, changed the names, and it sold. Around the same time I wondered if I could turn some of my Call of Cthulhu RPG campaigns into stories, and one of those sold. Unfortunately, it can be very misleading when the first two of three stories you try and sell do. I got the wrong impression in a big way and didn’t sell the next ten or more I submitted.

What does your writing schedule look like? 

I work best with a routine. When I get it, I write from about 7 a.m. to noon, have lunch, write until 2, take a 20-minute nap, and then write until 4. But that routine is often hard to get. I also write for an hour here and there on busy days. Some of the most difficult writing I seem to get done in hotels on trips. It varies by the difficulties of life. 

Do you have any interesting writing rituals? 

If so, what are they? I think they mostly involve caffeine. I also listen to a lot of music, create playlists, etc. in order to get me in the frame of mind for a story. 

Do you like writing short stories or novels? 

In some ways I prefer short stories. I do a lot of drafts when I write, so it’s easier to get to the drafts where things start to fit together with short stories. On the other hand I like being able to hit the big moments with novels as well as the divergent tangents that you don’t get to do with short stories. 

How is the horror scene where you live? 

I’m lucky enough to live in southern California. The Los Angeles chapter of the HWA is active and very friendly. There’s a great horror themed bookstore in Burbank called Dark Delicacies. And the presence of so many film people sets the bar for the Halloween decorations and haunted houses very high. 

Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow? 

I prefer to outline. But sometimes if I outline I can’t write what I’ve outlined. But if I go with the flow I get lost and wish I had an outline. It’s a mess and usually ends in tears. 

How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process? 

The thing I wish I’d realized about my first novel being published, was that everything I learned writing it for some reason didn’t apply to writing the next one. They were very different stories, but I wasn’t prepared for the new problems I ran into. Eventually I hope I’ll get good enough that I’ll arrive at a regular methodology and not be overwhelmed by all the questions that pop up along the way. 

What do you think makes a good horror story? 
I think the reader needs to be rooted in the point of view character’s reality. The character doesn’t have to be likeable, but they have to be interesting enough to follow.

What famous haunted house would you spend the night in? Why? 
I don’t know if I would. Well, I guess I’ve spent the night in some notoriously haunted hotels, does that count? I wouldn’t seek it out anyway. I’m not a big believer in the supernatural but the other explanations don’t make for a great night’s sleep and why poke the bear?

Who is your favorite horror monster or villain? 
Does Herbert West count? I like Herbert West. He’s trying to help. Yeah he’s maybe a little over the edge. Or maybe David from An American Werewolf in London. I love the way he struggles with coming to terms with his monstrosity. Watching him disbelieving it and wondering if he’s just going mad is brilliant. 
    What is your fondest Halloween memory? 

Trick or treating as a kid. All wrapped up in a mummy costume. Those costumes my mother made were so over the top and probably really dangerous now that I think about it. Either that or just drawing in grade school in October. It was the one time of year my pictures fit in with what the other kids were drawing.

   Do you have any Halloween traditions? 
    I used to watch a horror movie per night during October. That’s sort of fallen off since the last couple of years have been insanely busy, but I’ll get a few movies in I’m sure. I also used to fill my five-gallon brew kettle with candy, but unfortunately the neighborhood has changed and if I do that now the only people I’ll be passing out candy to will be costume-less teens. 

   When Trick or Treating, what is the one candy you hope to get?

   I always prefer sour candy to sweet. Except maybe Babe Ruths. 

   Which urban legend scares you the most? 

   I’m not familiar with enough urban legends to adequately
   answer that. 

   If you were trapped in a horror book, which one would you choose? 

    I’m trying to think of one where I can weasel out of it and come up with a good outcome for myself but every bleak outcome I see is worse and worse. Dracula? Either get bitten or turned, and if turned, staked.
    Next. Eyeing my shelf there, whole Laird Barron stack… nope those books mess with my sleep as is, don’t want to end up in that story. American Elsewhere that’s one the shelf in front of me, while there’s plenty of potential for bad outcomes for a character there’s also something really pleasant about that setting, it’s very Twin Peaksish. I’ll pick that one. At least I’ll have an interesting time before something terrible happens to me. 

What are you currently working on? 

I’m working on addressing edits for my upcoming third novel, Four Corners. It’s a crazy mix of history, horror, and weird scifi which should be out soon from Omnium Gatherum Books. 

What is in your TBR pile? 

Exploring Dark Fiction #1: A Primer to Steve Rasnic Tem, Gruesome: A Gathering of Nightmares, and Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror.

What is the last book that scared you? 

I just read Occasional Beasts by John Claude Smith. Several of the stories in that did the trick. 

What is your spirit animal? 

I’m not sure if they’re like me, but as I lose my mind I’ve been staring at pictures of otters more and more. I think I’m done humaning and would like to if at all possible take up being an otter instead. 

What is your favorite beer? 

When I was in York there were at least three that would easily qualify. Here in California I’m tempted to say Old Rasputin, but there’s one from New York He’Brew Rye IPA. That might be my favorite. Or here in LA, Angel City IPA. It’s difficult to choose. 

If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be? 

Does Patrick Rothfuss drink? If I gave him enough beer would it convince him to teach me the secrets of how to make a story that nice?

What is your story title and favorite scene from your story in Doorbells at Dusk (the Halloween anthology)? 

My story is called “Between.” In it the protagonist either encounters or hallucinates a large number of spirits in Los Angeles. There’s one scene where she’s in a diner with the spirit of Darby Crash and, although I don’t name him since he’s still living, the memory of the 1970s Los Angeles Tom Waits. Writing that scene made me really happy. 

Author Bio:

Ian Welke grew up in the library in Long Beach, California. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Long Beach, he worked in the computer games industry for fifteen years where he was lucky enough to work at Blizzard Entertainment and at Runic Games in Seattle. 
While living in Seattle he sold his first short story, a space-western, written mainly because he was depressed that Firefly had been canceled. Following the insane notion that life is short and he should do what he wants most, he moved back to southern California and started writing full time. Ian’s short fiction has appeared in Big Pulp, Arcane II, the American Nightmare anthology, and the 18 Wheels of Horror anthology, amongst other places. 
His novels, The Whisperer in Dissonance (2014) and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated End Times at Ridgemont High (2015) were both published by Ominum Gatherum Media. 

About Doorbells at Dusk
Doorbells at Dusk, edited by Evans Light and from Corpus Press, is a treasury of brand-new short stories from both modern masters and rising stars of dark fiction, covering a gamut of horror, literary fiction and suspense that is sure to thrill both horror aficionados and casual readers alike. 

Contributors include: Josh Malerman, Lisa Lepovetsky, Chad Lutzke, Amber Fallon, Curtis M. Lawson, Sean Eads, Joshua Viola, Ian Welke, Charles Gramlich, Joanna Koch and Thomas Vaughn, along with contributions from Evans Light, Adam Light, Gregor Xane and Jason Parent. 

Halloween has always gone together with horror. The holiday gives many children their first taste of terror, and the discovery and overcoming of fears. For those who find they love a good scare, that first taste can grow into a voracious appetite.

That might be why you’re looking at this book right now. If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find the thrills you crave, packed into a collection of stories that are pure Halloween.

After the successful release of the three-volume Bad Apples: Slices of Halloween Horror anthology series, co-creators Evans Light, Adam Light, Gregor Xane and Jason Parent of Corpus Press were driven by their love of the haunting season to use everything they’d learned to create the ultimate collection of Halloween tales.

Carve your pumpkins and turn on the porch light, the night of frights begins with the sound of…Doorbells at Dusk.

Praise for Doorbells at Dusk
“Evans Light has pulled together a great collection of stories. There is not a disappointing one in the mix, and no two tales are alike.” – One Legged Reviews

“A delightfully rich collection, suffused with horror of many flavors and degrees, some subtle, some up- front. Whether you choose to sample one at a time, like bonbons, or devour the entirety, here's a fine selection designed to keep you eager for (or fearful of) that special holiday, when leaves drop, woodsmoke scents the air, children quest for candy...and the Veil thins...” – Haunted Reading Room

“Doorbells at Dusk presents a fine sampling of tricks and treats for readers jonesing for some good and proper seasonal reads as the leaves turn color, a chill sets in, the world turns a little bit darker…” – Michael Patrick Hicks, author Broken Shells

Available Now!
Doorbells at Duskpublished on September 3 and is available NOW on Amazonin e-book and print and at book retailers worldwide. Add to your GoodReadsshelf!

About the Contributors
Sean Eads and Joshua Violaare writers from Denver, Colorado. Sean has been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, Lambda Literary Award and the Colorado Book Award. His first short story collection was published in 2017. Joshua is the owner of Hex Publishers. His latest anthologies include Blood Business and Cyber World: Tales of Humanity's Tomorrow. His upcoming novel, Denver Moon, will also be released as a comic book. 

Amber Fallonlives in Massachusetts with her husband and two dogs. A techie by day and horror writer by night, Mrs. Fallon has spent time as a bank manager, motivational speaker, produce wrangler, and butcher. Her obsessions with sushi, glittery nail polish, and sharp objects have made her a recognized figure. Amber's publications include The Warblers, The Terminal, Sharkasaurus, Daughters of Inanna, So Long and Thanks for All the Brains, Horror on the Installment Plan, Zombies For a Cure, Quick Bites of Flesh, Operation Ice Bat, and more. 

Charles Gramlichlives in the piney woods of southern Louisiana. He is the author of the Talera fantasy series and the SF novel, Under the Ember Star. His stories and poetry have been published in magazines such as Beat to a Pulp, The Horror Zine, and many others.

Joanna Kochis a fan of folklore, fairy tales, and anthropology. Her short fiction has been published in journals such as Dark Fuse and Hello Horror and included in several speculative fiction anthologies. Joanna is an MA Contemplative Psychotherapy graduate of Naropa University who currently lives and works near Detroit. 

Curtis M. Lawsonis a writer of unapologetically weird, dark fiction and comics. His work includes It’s A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World, The Devoured, and Mastema. He is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, and the organizer of the Wyrd live horror reading series. He lives in Salem, MA with his wife and their son. 

Lisa Lepovetskyhas published fiction and poetry widely in the small press, professional publications and anthologies. Her work has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Cemetery Dance and many other magazines, and such anthologies as Dark Destiny, Blood Muse, and HORRORS!, among others. She earned her MFA from Penn State, and her most recent book is VOICES FROM EMPTY ROOMS, a collection of dark poetry. 

Adam Lightresides in northeast Florida with his beautiful wife and daughter, and their aptly, though perhaps not so imaginatively named Walker hound, Walker. He haunts a cubicle by day, writes horror stories at night, and virtually never sleeps. He is the author of several short horror stories, some of which have been published in his first collection Toes Up: Horror to Die For. He also has stories in the Bad Apples anthology series and Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love. 

Evans Light is a writer of horror and suspense, and is the author of Screamscapes: Tales of Terror, Arboreatum, Don’t Need No Water and more. He is co-creator of the Bad Apples Halloween anthology series and Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love. Evans lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, surrounded by thousands of vintage horror paperbacks, and is the proud father of fine sons and the lucky husband of a beautiful wife. 

Chad Lutzkelives in Battle Creek, MI with his wife and children. he has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. His fiction can be found in a few dozen magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story collection Night as a Catalyst. Lutzke is known for his heartfelt dark fiction and deep character portrayals. In the summer of 2016 he released his dark coming-of-age novella Of Foster Homes and Flies which has been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, James Newman, John Boden, and many others. Later in 2016 Lutzke released his contribution to bestselling author J. Thorn's American Demon Hunter, and 2017 saw the release of his novella Wallflower. His latest, Stirring the Sheets, was published by Bloodshot Books in spring 2018. 

Josh Malermanis an American author and also one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung, whose song "The Luck You Got" can be heard as the theme song to the Showtime show "Shameless." His book Bird Box is also currently being filmed as a feature film starring Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, and Sarah Paulson. Bird Box was also nominated for the Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the James Herbert Award. His books Black Mad Wheel and Goblin have also been nominated for Stoker Awards. Unbury Carol is his latest novel. 

Jason Parentis an author of horror, thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, and dark humor, though his many novels, novellas, and short stories tend to blur the boundaries between these genres. From his award-winning first horror/mystery novel, What Hides Within, to his widely applauded police procedural/supernatural thriller, Seeing Evil, Jason’s work has won him praise from both critics and fans of diverse genres alike. His work has been compared to that of some of his personal favorite authors, such as Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Tess Gerritsen, and Joe Hill. Jason grew up near Fall River, Massachusetts, the setting for several of his novels. He has lived in New England most his life, currently residing in Rhode Island. 

When he is not writing fiction, Thomas Vaughn is a college professor whose research focuses on apocalyptic rhetoric and doomsday cults. Most of his writing seems to stray through the realms of literary horror and dark magical realism. He has been fortunate enough to have stories accepted in four different magazines and anthologies in 2018 so far. He wrote the story in this one just for you. 

Ian Welkegrew up in the library in Long Beach, California. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Long Beach, he worked in the computer games industry for fifteen years where he was lucky enough to work at Blizzard Entertainment and at Runic Games in Seattle. While living in Seattle he sold his first short story, a space-western, written mainly because he was depressed that Firefly had been canceled. Following the insane notion that life is short and he should do what he wants most, he moved back to southern California and started writing full time. Ian’s short fiction has appeared in Big Pulp, Arcane II, the American Nightmare anthology, and the 18 Wheels of Horror anthology, amongst other places. His novels, The Whisperer in Dissonance (2014) and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated End Times at Ridgemont High (2015) were both published by Ominum Gatherum Media. 

Gregor Xaneis the author of Taboogasm, The Hanover Block, and Six Dead Spots. His work has been featured in Stupefying Stories, Dead Roses, and the popular Halloween anthology series, Bad Apples. He is perfectly symmetrical. 

About Corpus Press
Corpus Press is a publisher of Horror and Weird Fiction, specializing in modern pulp that emphasizes plot over gore. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the press has garnered praise from SCREAM Magazine, Cemetery Dance, Horror Novel Reviews and Hellnotes for its BAD APPLES: SLICES OF HALLOWEEN HORROR series, the anthology DEAD ROSES: FIVE TALES OF TWISTED LOVE, and for its short story collections and novellas.

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If you would like to review Doorbells at Dusk, or have an interview or guest article, for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Halloween Hijinks by Christa Carmen

Halloween Hijinks
by Christa Carmen, Author of Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

            When you were married at the Stanley Hotel on October 31st, with thirteen immediate family members by your side, the snow-capped, portentous mountains in the background, and Beetlejuice blasting from the sound system, there is only one Halloween you can write about when a horror reviewer is looking for guest posts on authors’ favorite All Hallows’ memories.  
            Getting married at the Stanley Hotel was exactly as amazing as you’d expect it to be, and Estes Park in October is rife with ‘haunted’ activities in which visitors can partake. My now-husband, John, and I played Monster mini-golf and saw Ouija: Origin of Evilat the local cinema. We signed up for a historical tour of the hotel, as well as a ‘spirit tour,’ on which guests are introduced to the “active phenomena” and supernatural folklore surrounding the 100+ year old hotel, and educated on how to interact with the type of activity guests have claimed to encounter on excursions past.  
            On our second night in Colorado, I bought a ticket to attend Illusions of the Past, a theatrical sΓ©ance put on by the Stanley’s then-in-house illusionist, Aiden Sinclair, in the Billiards Room of the main building. The show made use of supposedly haunted artifacts to summon the ghosts of former hotel guests, and the audience got to manipulate actual historic antiquities from events such as the hunt for Jack the Ripper and the sinking of the Titanic. 
            Emboldened by my desire to have a memorable wedding week, I volunteered to participate in a sΓ©ance, for which I and four other women chose either a black bead or a haunted pearl from an opaque drawstring bag. The illusionist would have no idea who had chosen what, and we were to go around the room declaring, “I have the pearl,” despite each participant being uncertain as to whether or not that was true. When the individual who didhave the pearl declared as such, the planchette would flip off the Ouija board and into the air, coming to rest on the ground when the spirit had departed. 
            When it was my turn to state, “I have the pearl,” I did so with much hesitation and little faith. I felt something stir within my hand, a disturbance among the molecules of whatever material my clenched fist concealed. With a screech of metal against wood, the planchette flipped, the room grew cold, and in the mirrored walls behind the illusionist, something scampered away for the abandoned quarters of the hotel before its presence could be more widely-discerned.
            John did not attend Illusions of the Past, however he was in for a paranormal phenomenon of his own. On the night of our wedding, while I stood on the dance floor with my sister and three sisters-in-law, channeling Winifred Sanderson and belting out “I Put a Spell on You,” John felt a hand on his shoulder, as unambiguous and concrete as the feel of my fingers on the keyboard as I type. He spun and looked up, expecting his mother or another family member to be standing over him. There was no one there. 
            An undigested bit of beef, perhaps, or a fragment of underdone potato? Cedar Hollow Horror readers can judge as to whether there was more of gravy than of grave about my and John’s experiences, whatever they might have been. 
            As every horror writer and reader knows, the Stanley served as the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, and in 1980, the novel became the basis for Stanley Kubrick's film of the same name. The exteriors of Kubrick's Overlook were supplied by the Timberline Lodge, located on the slopes of Mount Hood in Oregon. My husband and I would love to celebrate a future anniversary at the Timberline, and on some fortuitous Halloween in the future, we will undoubtedly return to the Stanley. 
            Perhaps those ghosts present on our wedding night will be there to greet us when we do.

Christa Carmen is a writer of dark fiction, and her short stories have appeared in places like Fireside Fiction Company, Unnerving Magazine, Year's Best Hardcore Horror, Outpost 28, DarkFuse Magazine, and Tales to Terrify, to name a few. She has additional work forthcoming from Lycan Valley Press Publications' all-female horror anthology, Dark Voices, and her debut fiction collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, will be released in August 2018 by Unnerving.

Christa lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband and their ten-year-old bluetick beagle, Maya. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and psychology, and a master's degree from Boston College in counseling psychology, and she's currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing & Literature from Harvard Extension School. Christa works at a pharmaceutical company as a Research & Development Packaging Coordinator, and at a local hospital as a mental health clinician. When she's not writing, she is volunteering with one of several organizations that aim to maximize public awareness and seek solutions to the ever-growing opioid crisis in southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut.

Author Website:www.christacarmen.com

Praise for Christa Carmen
“Christa Carmen’s 'Red Room' is a different beast altogether. This story has some wicked imagery, a sinister and brooding atmosphere and a terrific ending. I’d go as far to say that this is one of the best short stories Unnerving has published in the magazine." – The Grim Reader
“I was pulled in from the first story: ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,’ by Christa Carmen. It was also one of my favorites and I have to say that the title gave me a dark chuckle when paired with the band mentioned in the story.” – Sci-Fi and Scary
"This beautifully macabre collection of urban legends and ghastly encounters is a cold whisper, a dripping axe, a shattered camera lens. Walk carefully into Carmen's night. But if you hear flies, run." -Stephanie M. Wytovich, Bram Stoker award-winning author of Brothel.  

Purchase Link
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If you would like to review Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked or feature Christa with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.