The Demon Inches: Finding comfort in the written word

The email arrived on February 22, 2016—a time of sickness and worry; fear and hospital visits.

“Erin,” the message read, “I have to say, I profoundly enjoyed your story: your style, vision, and command of atmosphere, irony, and character are tremendously effective. It would be an honor to showcase your enormous literary talent in this year’s journal.”

CoverYellowBookeThe email, from Michael G. Kellermeyer, Editor of Oldstyle Tales Press, went on to say that my short story, The Demon Inches, had been accepted for The Yellow Booke, an annual journal of original horror, ghost stories, and weird fiction.

I was flattered, of course, by Mr. Kellermeyer’s generous words. He certainly knew how to find his way into a writer’s affections; particularly when most authors receive many, many (get the idea?) more rejections than acceptances.

But what Mr. Kellermeyer didn’t realize, had no way of knowing, was that his email would become a beacon, guiding me through a bleak landscape. It reminded me of literature’s unique power, how healing can be found through emptying oneself onto paper. And that by getting lost between the pages of a story, one might emerge a better person at the end. Books can be both escape and redemption, lifeboats for navigating the restless seas of time.

It also made me think of the unknown effect we can have on others. A smile or compliment, sincere at the time then forgotten, often imprints on another’s psyche. Or, as in my case, a particularly kind acceptance letter, despite the writer suspecting the editor of exaggeration, arrives at the perfect moment.

So now Demon Inches, my own form of speculative fiction, has been published. It’s a genre I return to again and again. My mind explores the remote lakes, woods, and mountains of central Idaho and northern Michigan, the two states I call home.

I wonder what waits at the end of twisting two-tracks, disappearing into dusk, or the secrets contained within the walls of an abandoned cabin. And, like in Demon Inches, I question what resides within the shadows of our minds, and where the line between reality and imagination splits.

DemonInchesMy stories may be speculative, exploring a world of fantasy, but I never speculate about two characteristics—bravery and hope, inspired by the people who surround me and embedded in everything I write. Horror creeps up on us, in novels but also in life, and without these core traits, we might find ourselves blinded by darkness.

The literary landscape in which I navigate also reinforces my optimism, finding endless comfort in the written word. It illuminates everything I do and has become a lifelong travel companion, as a well-timed email from a kind editor reminded me not so long ago.

Read

The Yellow Booke: Demon Inches, The Old House, The Little Madness: and Other Terrors

Find

Amazon ~ Old Style Tales Press

About

A compendium of original horror stories (some written in the vein of classic supernaturalists such as M. R. James, J. S. Le Fanu, H. P. Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, and William Hope Hodgson, others written to push, test, and redefine the boundaries of the postmodern horror tale) “The Yellow Booke” is an original publication from Oldstyle Tales Press, whose annotated and illustrated critical editions of classic horror have piqued international interest from fans and scholars alike. “The Yellow Booke” contributes to Oldstyle Tales’ mission of invigorating interest in the classial past of the horror genre, while inspiring and encouraging those who would participate directly in its future. In these pages you will find mystery, weird fiction, body horror, science fictions, ghost stories, dark fantasies, and other strange tales written by living authors — some professional, some amateur, and all deeply talented in conveying what Monty James called “a pleasing terror…” Featuring the imaginative, powerful talent of Ever Dundas, G. L. McDorman, Joseph Burt, Silvia Barlaam, Columbkill Noonan, David Groveman, Erin Fanning, Greg Howes, Thomas Olivieri, M. Grant Kellermeyer, Daniel Pietersen

New book alert: All that glitters in Miami is not gold

karilemor1Author Kari Lemor grew up as one of those kids who read all night under the covers.  Once she had her first glimpse of a romance novel at age 12, it was all over. Romance was in her blood, but it would be many years before the stories that ran rampant in her head finally drove her to put words to paper. Luckily, though, for readers she eventually did, and the result is Wild Card Undercover – the first in the Love on the Line series  and the perfect cure for the winter blues.

Synopsis

All that glitters in Miami is not gold…

Lured in by a bad ex-boyfriend and the moonlight of Miami, Meg O’Hara is trapped in a nightmare situation, waiting tables for a crime boss and fearing for her life. When undercover FBI agent Christopher Shaunessy offers her a way out, she seizes it. Getting the goods on Salazar Moreno might not be easy, but she’ll do anything to be freed from her servitude and Moreno’s sexual advances, even if it means moving in with the charismatic agent.

Chris Shaunessy pretends to be Meg’s lover in order to keep her safe, but he steels his heart against further involvement. Passion has no place in the sordid world of organized crime. And yet, the closer they get to cracking the case, the stronger his feelings for the spirited waitress shine. It’s a dangerous game he’s playing, and taking Meg in his arms for real could prove a fatal misstep . . .

Buy

All buy links can be found here:   http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/34406

Excerpt

“Does that man never have a day off?” Margaret Kathleen O’Hara grumbled, grabbing her tote bag and sarong to move surreptitiously along the chairs by the pool. If the hotel manager saw her here again she’d be toast. He’d more than toss her out. Threats to call the police had been thrown at her for months now. Although in her case, that might be a better deal.

karilemor2With her eyes trained on his location and the Miami sun beating down on her exposed skin, Meg backed along the water’s edge attempting to leave the area before he spotted her. She needed to shower the chlorine out of her tangled hair and change for work soon. He looked in her direction and she rushed behind the closest object. It was six-foot-plus of blond-haired gorgeousness. The man’s eyes were glued to something on the upper deck. Her boss was sitting there with one of his expensive bimbos. Did Blondie like that type? Maybe he wouldn’t notice her little game of .

She leaned around him, ducking back when she saw the Pool Nazi still present. Getting caught was not an option. She already owed more than she could ever repay.

“Are you okay?” Forest green eyes stared down at her, puzzled. Would he buy that she was simply looking for shade? He was big enough to provide it.

With strong hands, he reached for her shoulders and Meg reflexively batted them away. She got enough of people groping her at work. Scorching curses froze before erupting from her mouth as the hotel manager moved, staring in their direction. Her mind kicked into overdrive, scrambling for a way to hide in plain sight.

“Sorry,” she squeaked. Grabbing the man’s head, she planted her mouth solidly on his. Short, thick strands of hair tickled her fingers. Firm lips yielded no resistance to the increased pressure of her mouth. Better make this look good.

An electric current skittered over her skin causing her heart to race. Maybe too good? Slowly he pulled her closer with his muscular arms. Her eyes flew open and she broke the connection. His hair-covered chest was too close for comfort. And much too tempting. Distance, she needed distance.

Her eyes darted around, seeing no signs of the manager. A sigh escaped. Time to make her exit as well.

“Sorry,” she mumbled again, looking up. Big mistake. The stranger’s curious eyes captivated her. They were soft and tender and filled with something she could…trust? If she still had any of that left in her. His hands were gentle as they held her. A tiny smile played about the full lips she’d brazenly kissed. She couldn’t believe she’d done it. Her mother would be appalled. But it had worked.

The chlorine scent from the pool faded into the background as sweat and suntan lotion wafted off the man’s damp skin. Her stomach did cartwheels followed by a few back flips. Dangerous.

“Let me go,” she hissed as reality returned. She gave a swift shove at his well-defined pectorals, rushing to get past, to escape from this distraction and the possibility of being caught. Her head whipped around at the sound of a splash and water droplets from behind. Gorgeous was just breaking the surface of the pool. Had she pushed him that hard?

“Oops.” No time for apologies. He looked like the forgiving type. She had to blow this joint before the Pool Nazi came back. Grabbing her fallen sarong, she ran across the deck to hustle inside the luxury hotel.

“Damn.”

The manager stood sentry near the front door. A crowd appeared at her back making that way impossible. The stairwell to the left would have to do. She’d go up a few floors then down to the side entrance. She wrapped her sarong around her as she carried out her plan to avoid being seen…and caught.

Meg should stop coming here to use the pool: this proved it. Sneaking in was adding to her already hellish life but swimming always helped work out the stress and the pool here was more accessible than any other on the strip. Pretending she had money to stay in a place like this, rubbing elbows with all the beautiful people, yeah, that got her through too. She’d learned the best times to come and not be seen. Well, for the most part. It was well worth the risk to get away from her dump of a room and its enchanting neighborhood. She’d leave this all behind her soon. She kept telling herself that. Had to believe it for her own sanity.

Footsteps behind her pushed those thoughts away. Her bare feet padded silently along the lushly carpeted hallway. Heart racing, she ducked into the ice machine alcove, her sigh echoing in the silence. She glanced down. Her bag? She must have dropped it as she rushed off. How had she not realized? It couldn’t have been the threat of being arrested. Or the crooked smile of the handsome stranger she’d kissed. The one with the kinkarilemor3d eyes and gentle hands. No, she couldn’t allow herself to be led astray by a pretty face. Not again.

She continued down the hall, her trip cut short when someone grabbed her by the arm and spun her around.

Find Kari online

Follow Kari Lemor on her website:  http://www.karilemor.com/

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/Karilemorauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/karilemor

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/karilemor/

Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9756283.Kari_Lemor

Avoidance and Writing: The Roberta Mickel Method

Procrastination and writing… How can something so pleasurable be equally dreaded? Read on for tips on how one writer used her mother’s cleaning list to become more productive.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz-040By Judith Sornberger

You would not believe how many things I’ve done today to avoid beginning this essay. (Except, if you’re a writer, you probably would.) I say writing means more to me than just about anything, but I would do almost anything some days to postpone putting pen to paper (including going shopping for a new, magic pen), especially when it comes to breaking the ice on a new writing project. This morning, for instance, I called a friend to commiserate on how little we’ve been writing. Then I scrubbed a pan that had soaked overnight in the sink, grocery shopped, stopped in at my local bookstore to check on a book I’d ordered (knowing full well it couldn’t have arrived yet) and, of course, had to browse. Then I went through my closet, wondering if it might be time to donate everything below size sixteen, my current size, which…

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Grace Notes: A Letter of Gratitude

On October 10, 2016, thirteen helium balloons—carrying hand-written birthday greetings across their colorful surfaces—were released into a clear, Idaho sky. pinkball

Breezes tugged them across the pasture, where Indy, an elderly quarter horse, nodded his white head and swatted his tail, as if wanting to hurry them along, understanding their significance. They drifted, stretching across a wide horizon, their strings shimmying with the wind. Climbing higher, the balloons joined with clouds etched in pink and red, reflecting the setting sun.

The thirteen of us, family and friends, sang the Birthday Song, our voices at first faint but eventually gathering strength. Then we all stood there in silence, watching the floating greeting cards until they disappeared from sight

And even though the intended recipient, my sister Kelly, was no longer with us, having left us only two days prior, I felt her presence, as I’m sure everyone did. Perhaps she was the feathery breeze brushing across our cheeks, the burst of wind chimes singing out into the dusky night, or the shadows darting around Indy.

Our simple gesture of remembrance had altered an evening ripe with anguish and sorrow into a night full of grace. And it was an eight-year-old girl, Lexie, who we had to thank for the transformative gift, a reflection of the love that my sister had generated throughout her life.

Lexie had wanted to give Kelly a birthday present, telling her mother Mandy that she knew exactly how to deliver it, and Mandy made it possible, gathering all the supplies. Because of their initiative, it was easy to imagine the balloons, as they grew smaller, mere pinpricks against the vast sky, leaving this earth for a heavenly embrace.

It was one of many moments of grace over the past several years, during Kelly’s long battle with cancer, in which generosity and selflessness fused together to defeat pain and fear, allowing us to transcend our grief and recognize how extraordinary and giving people can be.

heartThese grace notes lived within Kelly and continue to envelop my family, filling our hearts with gratitude even as we mourn. And so this letter of thankfulness begins with a little girl, who understood that birthday celebrations never need to end, and continues with an almost endless list of people* who helped my sister carry her burden, trying to slip it off her shoulders, if only for a few seconds at a time…

Family

~ My nieces Shaelyn, Sierra, and Sheridan, whose maturity belies their years, filled Kelly with unwavering pride. They never faltered in their support and care for their mother, and their strength and character reflected off the people around them, making us all braver because of them.

~My mother Sherry and stepfather Pete wove a circle of love around Kelly and unconditionally supported her from traveling to Bethesda, MD to driving to doctor’s appointments to simply holding her hand.

~My husband Keith offered endless optimism and humor—even when his heart was aching—without which our lives would have been much darker and bleaker places.

~Visits, calls, and cards from aunts, uncles, and cousins proved that the love of family stretches across any distance. Aunt Janean and cousins Ashley, Kendell, Jon, and Bella met Kelly and Sheridan at Washington swim meets. Uncle Jim, Aunt Kathy, Uncle John, and cousins Ian and Brad joined us at a Corvallis swim meet for a long weekend of sharing family memories. Uncle Alan sent books and cards, and Cousin Liz and family visited Kelly from Arizona, renewing their relationship and strengthening their love for each other. All of this meant so much to Kelly, and she often reflected on how grateful she was to be part of the Fanning-Walsh families.

St. Luke’s MSTI

~Jonathon, Tonya, Karen, and all the nurses and staff at MSTI never stopped fighting, despite the prognosis, and generated a sense of hope and courage through truthful optimism. Their compassion and kindness touched Kelly and my family and will continue to affect us for many years to come, perhaps forever, as I’m sure many families who have dealt with cancer can say. And, Patty, whose willingness to listen, always be available for guidance and comfort, has meant much more than I’m sure she realizes.

Friends from across the years and world

~Encouragement, love, and prayers arrived almost daily from friends across the world in the form of cards, online messages/texts, voice mails, visits, and flowers, often accompanied with a much-needed dose of humor. The names of these friends, from schools, organizations, and work, have run across my mind often over the past several years in a soothing litany: Sam, Beverly, Melody, Marilyn, Ben, Cristina, Bob, Xavier, Ann, Lanette, Rachel, Kristine, Pete, Gina, Lori, Tony, Kathy, Bruce, Carol, Peggy, Don, Hilary, Lucy, Susie, Rachael, Arlene, Willard… there are too many to name and some of whose actions were only known by Kelly. But please know that everything you did from lighting candles and donating to Aquathons to hospital visits brightened Kelly’s journey during a very dark time and has had a lasting effect, engraved on the hearts of all who witnessed your deeds.

~And, of course, as in everyone’s lives, there are friends who never quite fit into that category, who are more than that… Shane, Kelly’s dear companion over the past few years and lifelong friend, became a partner in care, traveling to doctor’s appointments across the United States and making himself available at all times (and continues to do so). And Twyla, more sister than friend, lifted Kelly with her humor and love.

Parma

~The support of the Parma community defies words. I’m at a loss to express how much this town and the people in it meant to Kelly. Cards arrived weekly from PEO sisters, and friends like Val, Jay, Kathy, Dana, Kristy, and many others frequently made themselves available to help or for a kind word. The teachers and staff of the Parma School District—Shelly, Toby, Madelyn, Monique, Patricia, Cory, Mick… everyone—wrapped my nieces in a supportive embrace and held them up during a difficult time. And Pastor Mark of Sterry Church spent hours and hours with Kelly, discussing Christ’s message and guiding her on a spiritual path of hope and renewal.

Neighbors

~From weeding and snowplowing to providing dinners and taking care of animals or simply providing a hug, Kelly’s neighbors—the Timmons, Jeffers, Parkers, Pascales, Mcleans, and Morrels—selflessly gave of their time. Mandy Pascale and her family offered tireless help, support, and friendship with Mandy recently completing three quilts that Kelly never had the chance to finish.

Kappa Kappa Gamma

~Thank you, Karena, for a friendship that transcends the meaning of that word and for teaching me that there is always time for the people we love, despite distance and schedules. And Nola, for walking next to Kelly (and me) over the past forty years from swim team to cross country and track to the University of Idaho, as well as all my Kappa sisters for your letters, messages, and visits over the past several years, along with the glorious anniversary weekend last April, which meant so much to Kelly and will be etched in my memory forever.

Swim Teams

~Boise YMCA Swim Team parents and swimmers became cheerleaders, not only for my nieces but also for Kelly. This outstanding organization provided much more than just an outlet for exercise and competition but grew into a much-loved activity and diversion, especially Coach Linda Conger, who texted Kelly daily with jokes and supplied us all with some of the best tamales in the Boise Valley.

~The reintroduction of a swim team in Parma began as Kelly’s dream and will hopefully continue in the years to come as part of her legacy. All the swim team parents and swimmers were loving and supportive, but Coach Andres, in particular, became a dear friend, always in contact, whether visiting Kelly in the hospital or joining us for Thanksgiving and other family celebrations.

4-H

~Like the Boise Y Swim Team, 4-H took on a larger meaning through the leaders and members’ support for Kelly and her daughters, particularly Mandy and Myrn, whose phone calls and cards continue today.

heartsAll these people and their love flowed through Kelly and continue to bolster us up as we navigate through our grief, extending peace like a river (to borrow from Isiah 66:12). The kindness Kelly received and gave during her life will have a chain reaction, touching everyone who witnessed it, linking us together in an endless loop and making us more aware of other people in need. Which, in the end, would have been exactly what Kelly would have wanted.

Her life was, in a sense, one of service—nursing—tending to people in the broadest meaning of that word. She believed our purpose on earth was to help other people, and if that was the lesson she left, then I know she would have been proud.

And, as Lexie proved, Kelly continues to inspire, setting an example of bravery and optimism that pushes us all upward, beyond the edge of the horizon where magical balloons proclaim their love for a person whose birthday celebration will never end.

 

 

 

 

 

*If I’ve forgotten someone, please forgive me but know that everything you did was remembered and greatly appreciated by Kelly.

Winter Solace: Finding Comfort With Cecilly in Cinderland

During times of sorrow, I find solace in the written word, escaping into novels whose authors create characters and settings as vital and vibrant as the real world, yet with a dash of the unexpected, a sense of lyricism or a character so believable I wouldn’t be surprised if she walked through my front door.

Cecilly in CinderlandThis fall in particular has been a time for comfort literature, seeking wisdom from favorite authors like Rosamunde Pilcher and her gorgeous prose, as well as debut authors like Emily Deibel and her imaginative world of Cinderland.

In Cecilly in Cinderland, Emily retells the classic story of Cinderella, but with her own creative and original spin. The reader journeys from a city of towers and turrets to the magical world of Cinderland, inspired by Yellowstone National Park, deep within the earth. Here, the protagonists find all their wishes come true; but, as the cover implies, wishes won’t protect them in Cinderland. (Read a full plot description and excerpt here.)

As soon as I encountered Cecilly, the main character, I could see and hear her, as if she were a lifelong friend inviting me on an adventurous excursion, and that ability is one of Emily’s strengths. She offers the reader a few details—a bit of dialogue, a gesture, or even simply a collection of buttons—and weaves them into three-dimensional characters.

The same can be said for both worlds she creates, from the everyday to the fantastical land of the Cinders. I immediately saw the towers and turrets of Cecilly and her sisters’ dress shop, as well as the wall that separated their district from the rest of Havenshire. When she and her sisters descend to Cinderland, the creatures and landscape are described with equal precision, coming alive as Cecilly converses with a ghost or flies on a pygmy dragon.

Emily Deibel
Emily Deibel

And in each location geysers feature prominently, lifeless in Havenshire, bubbly and colorful in Cinderland. The mystery of the geysers connects both worlds, and before Cecilly can resume her life in Havenshire, she must make a sacrifice to the geysers, which Emily reveals in a clever and surprising climax.

But like Cecilly and her sisters, I eventually finished the adventure and had to return to reality. I closed the book with sadness, yet I realized I was able to step back into my life with more ease, a bit of Cecilly’s courage rubbing off on me, making me grateful for Emily’s imagination and an escape to Cinderland.

Click here to visit Emily’s author page on Facebook.

Perfect Conclusion to the Mutants Series

Love, Lattes and Angel (Mutants, #3)Love, Lattes and Angel by Sandra Cox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love, Lattes, and Angel, the third installment in the Mutants series, perfectly concludes Piper’s adventures with an imaginative blend of fantasy and romance. The plot takes Piper, Joel, and their daughter Angel, all dolphin mutants, through the Bermuda Triangle to an idyllic tropical island, where they meet a voodoo priestess. Author Sandra Cox expertly weaves descriptions of island life and the undersea world into this nonstop tale of danger and romance that accelerates to the end, where the mutants must battle a powerful mad scientist. Highly recommended!

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Kensington Launches Digital Speculative Fiction Imprint

From Publishers Weekly: Kensington Publishing will launch Rebel Base Books this fall, which will publish science fiction and fantasy e-book originals. A digital-only imprint, Rebel Base will be overseen by Kensington editor Martin Biro.

“As a lifelong fanboy raised on a steady diet of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t be more excited to boldly go where Kensington has never gone before,” Biro said in a statement.

Read the rest of the article here.