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

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.

Writing your autobiography: Words of wisdom from Elizabeth George

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A touch of philosophy from the wonderful Dorothea Harriman, a character created by Elizabeth George, a great writer who only seems to improve with age: “What I mean is that one’s whole life is an autobiography, don’t you agree? Whether it gets written or not doesn’t make a difference. What goes into it, though? That’s what counts.”

Cover Reveal: Bound to be good

Bound
Jen Colly
(The Cities Below, #2)
Published by: Lyrical Press
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance

The streets are a battleground for humans, vampires, and demons alike—where survival is a skill, love is a weapon, and the most dangerous act is to care for another . . .

Keir is an assassin devoted to Lady Arianne, the last of her royal bloodline. He is sworn to protect her, and that means eliminating any threat to her life. But while on a mission, he is set upon by a pack of demons, barely escaping with his life.

Cleopatra lives by a set of rules so rigid she no longer knows her true self. But her kind and loving nature resurfaces when she finds a man, bloodied and dying. Moved to help him, she risks her future and her life to save a stranger far below her aristocratic station.

Their attraction to each other is as powerful as it is forbidden. But even as their love grows, Keir keeps his true identity a secret—and this lie is not the only threat to their love . . . or their lives.

Goodreads / Amazon

Sequel to:

23290569

 

Author Bio:

Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Heart Songs: Wounded hearts can love again

Sara Walter Ellwood (8)Although Sara Walter Ellwood left the farm long ago for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.

She’s also a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up, as well as dabbling in the paranormal genre with her The Hunter’s Dagger Series (previously published under the pen name Cera duBois).

Heartland_500x750So, needless to say, I’m thrilled to have Sara on my blog today, introducing her most recent novel, Heartland (Singing to the Heart Book 3)…

Blurb

Sex, drugs, and country music. That was the lifestyle for Emily Kendall, a Texas girl who hit it big on the country music charts—until she found herself pregnant and battling addiction. Now out of rehab and seeking a new life for herself and her unborn child, Emily returns to her hometown of McAllister. The last thing she’s looking for is trouble, no matter how good it looks in uniform…

A widower, single father, and former Army Ranger struggling with PTSD, Sheriff EJ Cowley has his own demons to battle while keeping folks safe. The last thing he needs is a troubled celebrity speeding through town in her bright red Maserati. But when someone from Emily’s past threatens her safety and the peace of McAllister, EJ has no choice but to protect her. And soon both will learn there’s more to the other than meets the eye. And that wounded hearts can love again…

Excerpt

“I’m sorry, but I can’t ride you right now.” Emily kissed the horse above her nose, and Tink nuzzled her cheek. “We’ll go out tomorrow. How about that?”

“I remember when you rode that horse everywhere you went.”

Startled by the deep voice, she turned. EJ Cowley leaned on the top rail of the fence, and from the look of it, he’d been there for a while. He’d changed out of the brown uniform of the McAllister County sheriff’s department. She couldn’t help looking him over. Dressed in worn boots, faded jeans, a blue western shirt, and a brown Stetson, he epitomized every sexy cliché existing about how a cowboy should look.

Her heart sped up at the way those clothes fit him. Which irritated the hell out of her. She turned back to her horse and stroked her long face. “What are you doing here?”
“My sister-in-law watches my son while I’m at work.”

She stilled. Had she been quasi-lusting after a married man? Hadn’t he married Raquel Marshall? She glanced over her shoulder at his left hand. No ring. But then a lot of cowboys didn’t wear their wedding bands when they were working. The risk of getting it caught on something was too great.

Heartsong_250x375Despite his clothes, he must have come off duty as the county’s ticket-happy sheriff not too long ago. She patted Tink’s shoulder. “See you in the morning, girl.” As she headed toward the man, who was not hiding the fact he appreciated what he saw, she guessed he wasn’t still married, but she’d been around the world a few times and knew not to take a man’s blatant interest as proof of anything. “You have a son. How is Raquel these days?”

She was close enough to notice his gray eyes had turned as haunted as a gravestone when she asked about his wife. He looked to the left, toward his brother’s house, and from the way a muscle twitched in his jaw, he must have gritted his teeth.

“She committed suicide two years ago today.”

“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” she stammered. What else had happened to the people she’d once considered friends she was unaware of? “How old is your little boy?”

He took a deep breath and met her gaze again. She studied his eyes as they moved over her face. God, he had the most fascinating eyes. They weren’t truly blue, but the gray was an odd shade. Too light to be slate, but too dark to be silver. They reminded her of her great-grandmother’s pewter candleholders.

“Two.”

As silence engulfed them, she turned to head for the gate. She had no idea what was up with the sheriff, and she didn’t like her desire to ask. EJ Cowley may have filled her schoolgirl fantasies, but she wasn’t the wide-eyed kid who crushed after the local cowboy-turned-soldier.

“Emwee?”

At the sound of her name, she glanced past EJ to the porch. Johnny stood there with his toy lightsaber and x-wing. She promised to play a video game with her brother. “Well, it was good seeing you again, EJ.”

She was halfway across the drive when his voice stopped her. “By the way”–He cleared his throat–“I lost your ticket…”

Stopping in the middle of the driveway, she looked over her shoulder at him. His face puckered as if he’d eaten a lemon soaked in vinegar. He took his hat off and ran a hand through his short hair. The setting sun turned the tresses a gleaming gold.

“You lost it?” Damned if she’d make it easy on him. “After going through all the trouble of stopping me a mile away from home?”

Setting his hat back on his head, he cleared his throat again and stood with his feet apart. He gave a quick jerk with his head in the affirmative. “Can’t find it anywhere. No ticket. No proof. You’re off the hook.”

Holy crap, he was gorgeous, and heat flooded her to pool in her belly. She turned, not wanting him to see the way he affected her, and headed for the porch, then lied through her teeth.

“Good, because I’ve already tossed it.” She had every intention of paying the fine, but she was glad he lost the ticket. No decent cop would lose a ticket. Maybe he did it out of remembrance of their childhood friendship. Or was he as attracted to her as she was to him?

With an inward shake of herself, she didn’t let a possible answer formulate in her muddled brain. She couldn’t be anything to him. You’re pregnant with another man’s child and don’t need the added stress! At the door into the kitchen, she ruffled Johnny’s hair and turned, ignoring her self-admonishment. “See you around, EJ.”

“Yeah… See you around.” He tipped his hat and turned on his heel to amble toward his extended cab Silverado.

From inside the screen door, she watched the way he filled out the backside of his Wrangler’s and muttered, “Hell yeah, I hope so.”

Heartstrings_250x375If you’d like to see more excerpts, check them out here: 

Buy

Kensington

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

Google

Kobo

Find Sara online

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

The other books in Singing to the Heart

Heartstrings, Book 1 and Heartsong, Book 2 are also available in ebook and print.

Heartstrings

Heartsong

For other vendor links and book information check out Sara’s website page.

A sale, a sequel, and magical knitting

99centsA gust of wind scattered leaves across the University of Seattle campus. My hair tangled over my face. New contacts tortured my eyes, and books weighed down my backpack. It didn’t matter. A tornado could have snatched me up. As long as it carried me home and put an end to the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

“Watch out, Gabby.” My best friend Frank thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pinstriped suit. “We’re being followed by a giant candy corn.”…

And so begins Blood Stitches, published a little more than a year ago—an anniversary of sorts, which will be celebrated over the next several weeks by my publisher, Kensington, with a 99-cent sale.

It was a story born as I learned how to knit, wrapping yarn around my fingers and listening to the music of my knitting needles as they tapped together. I ended up with a scarf, as well as a rough draft.

Years prior, I had read about an Italian woman, who had become trapped underneath her bed during an earthquake and kept herself occupied by knitting. I imagined firefighters digging through the rubble and finding her snuggled inside a knitted afghan.

The story tumbled around in my brain, somehow intersecting with my interest in Mexican culture. From there, I discovered the Mayan twin myth and the battle with the demon Vucub Caquix. Bit and pieces of Mayan mythology adhered themselves to my imagination, morphing into a history of magic and needlework.

After several rounds of feedback, revisions, publisher research, acceptance by Kensington, and final input from the fabulous editor Penny Barber, the final version of Blood Stitches appeared on May 12, 2015.

Since then it’s been a year of blog touring, tweeting, Facebooking, monitoring sales, and learning more about social media and promotion than I ever imagined… not the natural state for most writers, who are introverts at heart (particularly this one).

Somewhere along the way, I lost the thread connecting me to my magical-knitting family and the other characters from Blood Stitches. Thankfully, it recently returned.

Bone Needles, a sequel to Blood Stitches, has been pouring from my fingers, appropriately enough while I knit an afghan, the colorful yarn blending with eccentric characters and Mayan mythology until it forms a tapestry of words and needles.

I think even Esperanza, the creator of the apocalyptic knitting found in Blood Stitches, would approve.

Now, what are you waiting for? Head out into the Webosphere and buy a copy of Blood Stitches—read it, love it, and leave a review!

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