Monday, October 31, 2011

Full Moon--Short Story Winner!

Here is the winning story from our All Things Dark and Dastardly contest. Congrats to Carol Redcay! We look forward to reading more of your work in the future.

Full Moon

           Andrea Grover tossed and turned in her single-sized bed. Sweat dripped down her forehead to her neck. She sat up, feeling the pounding of her heart in her chest. What was that? She kept hearing that howling noise every time there was a full moon.
            What was it? A coyote maybe or a wolf? She shivered, feeling the goosebumps form on her body. She sighed and let out a big yawn. She laid her head back down for a second, when she heard the noise again.
            She climbed out of bed, and crept over to the bedroom window. She peeked her head out of it and saw a dark show. What in the world? The shadow was creepy looking and it looked like it was really hairy. Its green eyes stared at her.
            She gasped and let out a shriek. Her bedroom door opened and the light flickered on. Andrea turned around and saw her best friend Natalie in the doorway.
            “What’s wrong? Why did you scream? Did you have a bad dream or something?”
            Andrea’s whole body shook and she felt a chill rush down her spine making the goosebumps form again. “I-I s-saw something c-creepy outside. I-It wasn’t normal.”
            Natalie stared at her as if she had two heads. “Maybe it was just a dream.”
            Why didn’t she believe her? She knew she saw something. It wasn’t a dream or her imagination she saw something. “It looked at me, Natalie. It was brown and hairy. It was in the tree outside my bedroom window. I don’t know what it was but it was creepy and had green eyes.”
            Natalie laughed. “Cole has green eyes maybe it was him in a bear costume.”
            Damn, she wasn’t taking her seriously. Andrea shook her head. “I heard howling, too. It woke me up. It wasn’t a bear.”
            Natalie rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you call Cole and tell him? Otherwise go back to sleep.”
            After Natalie left her room, she dialed Cole’s phone number. It went straight to voicemail. Which was weird because he always answered his phone.
            She went over to the window to see if the hairy creature was still there but it was gone. She did see a glimpse of a man running back into his house. Weird. It was Cole’s house. He lived next door to her. It’s how they met and got to know each other.
           Why was Cole running back into his house at this time of night? He should be sleeping. It didn’t make any sense. She decided to confront him in the morning. She shut the light off and went to bed.

            The next morning after having oatmeal and a glass of milk; she headed to Cole’s house. He answered the door after the third knock. He was wearing a dark blue robe and matching slippers. His chocolate-colored hair was out of place.
            “Hey, beautiful. What brings you here?”
            “I need to talk to you.” She followed him inside of the house and they sat on the couch.
            “Are you breaking up with me?”
            She shook her head. “I called you last night but you didn’t answer. It went to voicemail. Where were you last night?”
            He stared at her carefully. His expression was blank and he didn’t look at her. “I was asleep. I seen that you called but it was two in the morning.”
            She took a big deep breath and let it out slowly. “Don’t lie to me. I saw you running back into your house.”
            He stood up and crossed his arms. “Maybe that was earlier when you saw me. Why were you up that late anyway?”
            She stood up and glared at him. “I couldn’t sleep. The howling woke me up. I also saw something outside my window.”
            Cole looked down at the ground. “What do you mean howling? We don’t have wolves in Louisiana. What did you see?”
            Why can’t he look at me? I get the feeling he knows something I don’t. I have to get to the bottom of this. “I don’t know what it was. It looked at me. It had green eyes and brown fur. I think that’s what was howling and I get the feeling you know it, too, Cole.”
            “Damn it, Andrea. Can’t you just drop it? It was probably just a nightmare.” Anger flashed in his eyes.
            He was hiding something. But what? She had to find out. “Fine, Cole, have it your way. Don’t tell me then, but I’m going to find out either way.”
            Then she stomped her way to the front door and left. She went back inside of her house and paced around in a circle in the kitchen.
            “What the hell is wrong with you?” Natalie asked as she bit into a red apple.
            Andrea flipped her coco brown locks and turned to face Natalie. “Cole is hiding something.”
            Nathalie finished her apple and threw the core in the trash. “Why do you think that?”
            “I just got back from his house and he got pissed off when I asked where he was last night. I looked out my bedroom window last night and I saw him sneaking back into his house. When I asked him he denied it. What would he be doing at two in the morning?”
            “Maybe it wasn’t him that you saw,” Natalie said.
             Andrea frowned. “Then who would it be? He lives alone. It doesn’t make any sense.”

            Two weeks later, there was a full moon again. The howling started again. Andrea couldn’t sleep. She dialed Cole’s number but of course he didn’t answer. They weren’t talking to each other much since their fight. She had to see if he was home. She threw on a pair of gray sweatpants and a matching gray sweatshirt. She pulled the hood over her head and slipped on her tennis shoes.
            She walked over to Cole’s house and knocked on the door. No answer. Her heart pounded louder and louder in her chest. Where is he? Why isn’t he answering the door? She decided to check on him.
            She turned the doorknob and it was unlocked. She crept inside quietly. There was no sign of Cole anywhere. She went in all of the rooms expect his bedroom. She left that one for last.
            The door was shut. She reached for the doorknob and turned it. It swung open and she crept inside. He wasn’t there either. This wasn’t like him. Something strange was going on.
            She just wasn’t sure what it was yet. Something on the floor caught her eye. She picked it up. It was a steak bone. Why would he have this in his room? There was something else weird about the room.
            She noticed fresh and warm drool on his pillow as she reached out and touched it. Gross. She wiped it back on the pillow. There was also a lot of that brown fur she saw two weeks ago on the creature that was outside her window. A loud noise made her jump.
            She cried out and felt the goosebumps form on her body. She turned around and was face to face with the creature. OMG, it was a werewolf! It looked just like Cole. Was it really Cole?
            She had to know. “C-Cole? Is t-that y-you?” She backed into the corner as he approached closer to her.
            The werewolf let out a loud howl. “What are you doing here, Andrea? You shouldn’t be here.”
            “H-how d-do you know m-my name? Is that you Cole?”
            “Yes, it’s me, Andrea. You’re not safe here.”
            Her eyes widen and her body shook. Would he hurt her? She wasn’t sure if he would or not.
            The shock was running through her veins. Cole was a werewolf. How was this possible? “How long have you been a werewolf? This is what you have been hiding from me all this time.”
            Cole howled again. “I was trying to protect you. I wasn’t born this way. I was bitten by another werewolf. You have to find him and kill him. If you don’t, I’ll be stuck this way forever.”
            She put her hands on her hips. “Why should I believe you? I don’t know how to kill a werewolf. What if he kills me first?”
            He pulled a small handgun out of his dresser drawer and held it up. “This is how you kill a werewolf with a gun and a silver bullet. Aim for his heart and he’ll burn up in flames. You have to trust me, Andrea. It’s the only way you’ll live. I love you and I don’t want to lose you.”
            She took the gun from him. “Was it him or you in my tree two weeks ago?”
            “It wasn’t me. He has green eyes, too.” Drool rolled off his lips and fell onto the floor.
            Andrea shivered, feeling creeped out by the fact that her boyfriend was a werewolf.
            He snarled and glared at her. “Get going before I hurt you. He should be close by.”
            Andrea nodded and ran out the door. She didn’t have to go too far to find the werewolf. He was in the tree.
            The werewolf slid down the tree and faced Andrea. This werewolf wasn’t a he. It was a she!
            She looked just like Natalie. “Natalie? You’re the other werewolf?”
            She laughed. “What did you expect? I was born this way. You’re lucky I didn’t kill you yet. Now that you know my secret that is going to change. It was nice knowing you, friend.”
            Andrea couldn’t believe it. Natalie was a werewolf. She had to act fast or she would get killed. She pulled out the handgun that was tucked in her sweatpants. She aimed it at Natalie’s heart and fired. The hit her perfectly and she started on fire right away. Natalie was still burning when Cole came running out of his house. He was human again.
            “Who was he?”
            She shook her head. “The werewolf wasn’t a he. It was a she. It was Natalie.”
            They both watched as her bones burned into ashes and blew away. Natalie was gone. There was nothing left of her. Tears streamed down her face as she thought of losing the only best friend she ever had since she was 17. Now she was 24 and friendless. At least she still had Cole.
            He was always there for her. “What does this mean? Are you only human now or are you still a werewolf when there is a full moon out?”
            He flashed an evil grin. “I guess you’ll just have to trust me on this one.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing Contest Winner Announced and 5 Horror Movies to be Inspired By

Congrats to Carol Redcay, the winner of our All Things Dark and Dastardly writing contest. We had great submissions but Carol's short story, Full Moon, really stuck out. With great writing and a fun twist, her tale definitely fits our theme of dark and dastardly. Full Moon will be posted on our website on Monday, Oct. 31--just in time for Halloween! She also receives a copy of our anthology, All Things Dark and Dastardly.

Speaking of the anthology, I want to give a big shout out to our publisher, Dragonfire Press. They were willing to take a chance on our creative talents and we appreciate it! I expect we'll see lots of other great releases from then in the near future.

Okay, my topic today is horror movies. With the release of All Things Dark and Dastardly and the approach of Halloween, my mind turns to the things that inspire me to write. Horror. Cheap scares. Fun plots. Things that go bump in the night. The fact that I need money for groceries. (Cue the nightmare scream!)  I've come up with several movies that I think are worth viewing again, if only for the cheap thrill they provide, and as excellent writing inspiration. I tried to keep my list to less popular films, too. After all, Exorcist and Halloween are always on someones top five.

1. The Fog--No. I'm not talking about the crappy remake. I mean the 1980 John Carpentar original. This movie stars Jaime Lee Curtis and her mother, Janet Leigh. It's also about pirate lepers! Do I really need to say more?

2. Children of the Corn--Based on a short story by Stephen King (see, you never know where your short story will end up), the movie does leave a little to be desired. On the other hand, kids out of control in a corn field has a certain appeal to an elementary teacher such as myself.

3. April Fool's Day--OMG! What are we going to do Muffy? There is a killer on the loose at our lake house! Maybe I should take off my bra so I can think better! (Not actual dialogue, but actual subtext from the movie).

4. Wolfen--Technically they are not werewolves, but shapeshifters. Don't make the mistake of thinking otherwise or people on the internet will get really pissed off and write nasty letters to you. This movie was based on The Wolfen by Whitley Strieber, the same guy that wrote all those alien books that are supposed to be true. Oh, excuse me. They were not officially aliens but "visitors."

5. Motel Hell--Hmmm....a movie about people stopping at a place called Motel Hello (the O is always burned out) is a good start. It only gets better when these people are planted in the ground, still alive but minus their vocal chords. There they are fattened up and eventually used as the meat in the hotel owner's favorite stew. Be sure to eat chili while watching this delightful tale.

What horror movies have inspired you? Which ones make you think, "Gee, I could have written that!"
Share, please!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What is Urban Fantasy?

I haven't seen a better definition than the one given by George R. R. Martin in the new anthology, DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS. I can't copy it here, since it's copyrighted material, but you can see it for yourself if you go to and peek inside. His article entitled "The Bastard Stepchild" states his opinion that urban fantasy grew from hard-boiled mystery, with roots in classic horror. These are two genres, he says, that are not compatible at heart. He goes on to say that horror is set in darkness and fear, while mystery, even the hard-boiled type, is about righting wrongs and setting things right.

One can, further, find much discussion on the difference between hard-boiled and noir within crime fiction. Noir, many say, is unrelentingly dark and there are no good outcomes. This guy ( says noir is always grim. Hard-boiled fiction is a style that has hard characters, tough guys who talk and act rough. My own opinion is that you'll find justice at the end more often in the latter.

Wikipedia ( disagrees with Martin's definition (although Martin does say that the HEROES, not the whole sub-set of urban fantasy, spring from the two opposing genres). Wiki says, alternately that it's a sub-genre of fantasy and that it's a sub-genre of contemporary fantasy. Wiki also insists on an urban setting. Although the word "urban" is part of the name, I'm not sure a city setting is required. Certainly, some of the stories in the above anthology take place in smaller places than cities, although they're all somewhat gritty.

We're calling our anthology horror, but some of our stories in ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY are urban fantasy. I don't think all of them are, but you can form your own opinion on that.

Images from Wikimedia (except ATDD cover)

 Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir. It stars Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson. It was directed by Wilder.

Pulp fiction cover from Wikimedia:  Cover, Detective Book Magazine Volume 5, #10 (Winter 1948), Fiction House (defunct co.), pulp magazine, artist unknown

Cover of the fantasy fiction magazine Avon Fantasy Reader no. 6 (1948) featuring "The Crawling Horror" by Thorp McClusky.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Release Day--All Things Dark and Dastardly!

Available today!

Are you in the mood for a great set of dark stories? How about a dash of murder mixed with urban fantasy and horror? Then you need to get the brand new anthology, All Things Dark and Dastardly! This book is a compliation of horror, mystery, and urban fantasy short stories by Ausin authors with a distinctly dark side. Here a few nice things that people have had to say about it so far:

"A string of sizzling stories to stimulate your senses and excite the nerves, especially when night falls."--Edith Y.S. Harris, artist and short story writer,

"Rough cut gems that twinkle darkly."-- Jack Bates, Derringer Nominee

"Keep an eye on these authors. You'll be seeing their names for a long time to come."--AJ Hayes, featured author in the noir anthology, Pulp Ink.

Published by Dragonfire Press, this book has been an exciting ride for the gang at All Things Writing! We look forward to your feedback and reviews, and hope to dazzle you with more stories in the future. If you are looking for the perfect reading for Halloween, check this book out today! It's available for your eReader, as well, as in paperback. Click the link below to purchase your copy.

Amazon Kindle Store

Amazon Paperback

Untreed Reads


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Character Interview: Tony from Color Me Baby Blue

As you know, the All Things Dark and Dastardly anthology is going to be released this Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. We've had great feedback from our fans, and the excitement is enough to give us all heart palpitations.

Or maybe that's just really bad gas.

Anyway, the link to purchase the book will be up on Friday! Also, on Friday, we will be announcing the winner of our All Things Dark and Dastardly writing contest. We had great submissions, and it was hard to narrow it down to just one winner. The winning story will be posted on our site Oct. 31--just in time for Halloween! They'll also receive a copy of our All Things Dark and Dastardly anthology.

Now on to the topic of the day: A character interview with naughty Tony from Kaye George's fun tale, Color Me Baby Blue. You can find this story in our upcoming book, but here's a sneak peek in to the mind of a fashion savvy killer!

(This interview was taken in a hospital where Tony currently resides.)

MA: Can I call you Tony? Or do you prefer Anton?

**Are you kidding? For a babe like you? Definitely Tony.

Aren't you sweet? That is just a charming hospital gown you have on! I know you are in here partly due to your eye for fashion.  What color would you call that exactly? Did you pick it out yourself?

**I call it baby puke green. What do you think? I have better taste
than this! Hey, isn't this new software handy, though? I can finally
communicate with people through my eye blinks. I've been trapped here
so long. Isolated.

That must be hard.  Just let me know if you get tired of blinking so much. Tell us about yourself and your relationship with your Uncle Leo.

**He was a necessary evil. My stepping stone to financial
independence. He never liked, me, by the way.

I heard Uncle Leo was murdered. What do you think his final thoughts
were regarding the popular Dusky Brown line of clothes?
**Ha. He knew he was so wrong. I could see it in his eyes.

It's too bad he realized it too late!  So which show do you prefer: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or Project Runway?
** You do know that those shows are so fake, right? I'm sure I could
design circles around those people. And you know that a lot of
straight guys, like me for instance, are just as good as gay guys.
Bunch of horse...hooey...if you ask me.

Calm down. You'll blink your eyelashes off!  Let's try a different question. If you could choose one color to be buried in, what would it be?**Periwinkle. For personal reasons.

Interesting choice. Are you currently in a relationship with anyone? Is that even possible in your condition?**There is one nurse that has a great behind. Her front isn't bad
either. I'm trying to make a move on her. It's hard when you can't
move, though.

I can imagine. You give "batting your eyes" at someone a whole new meaning. If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?**I think I could have done a better job with Miss Manning, Mandy her
name is. I came on a little too fast.

You think? I'm not sure killing someones lover would be called coming on too fast. Some people might call that homicidal tendancies, but whatever. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?**Maybe I should tell them that you don't have to talk really loud to
people who are in the hospital, or wherever the hell I am. Just
because someone can't talk to you, doesn't mean he's not human. He's
still a man.

Thank you for sharing that with us. I'm sure many people will be interested to know about the events leading up to your current...condition.

To learn more about Tony and his murderous fashion choices, check out the story Color Me Baby Blue by Kaye George and located in All Things Dark and Dastardly!

Monday, October 17, 2011

What IS Halloween anyway?

Besides a good time to read scary stories, that is. (Stories like the ones found in All Things Dark and Dastardly, coming October 21st!)

I have a book called "Witches of the World" by Diane Canwell and Jonathan Sutherland that says Samhain, the precursor to Halloween and celebrated on October 31st, celebrated the end of summer. Samhain was a Celtic festival and the end of the year for them.

Many of our Halloween symbols and rituals derive from Samhain. Hollowed-out pumpkins, as well as other vegetables, were placed in the windows and on porches (the Celts evidently had porches) to welcome their dead ancestors and keep evil spirits away. One of these spirits, a very bad one, was called Jack-O-Lantern. This guy wasn't able to get into Heaven or Hell. That's a little inconsistent, since the Celts were pagans back then.

Irish and Scottish immigrants, this book says, brought us the custom of carving pumpkins. I'm glad. It's fun!

The Druids (which I think were Celtic priests, but I'm not sure) lit bonfires to guard against witches and spirits wandering around at harvest time. This book says that this was also the time when Druids imprisoned their victims in wicker cages, then sacrificed them on huge bonfires. Really? The poor little victims couldn't get out of a wicker cage? I wonder what sort of people were Druid victims.

Wiki says that Samhain in Ireland was the end of fighting and trading season, and was a time for tribes to get together. I'll buy that. Halloween today is the beginning of The Holidays. Time for stores to start putting out Christmas and holiday decorations and time for people to start deciding what they're going to do for Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cross Genre and Cross Promotion

It helps to network, writers! When our anthology debuts, it will hit more places than we imagined. Here's how this went.

Background: Awhile ago Untreed Reads accepted one of my short stories and it's for sale at their site. (Not a Halloween story, but a darn good one!) They sell e-stories and e-books and have a tremendous distribution system. My story is for sale everywhere I can think of, and lots that I can't.

Present Day Happening: The three of us at this blog are putting out a short story anthology. (You may have heard about this. It's called ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY and will surely be a hit.)

Another Happening: Jay Hartman at Untreed Reads asked all his authors if they had anything to promote for Halloween. I answered that our anthology could be considered Halloween fare since it consists of dark and sometimes scary stories.

 Astounding Happening: Jay asked if he'd like us to promote the anthology. Yes, yes, yes. We get to take advantage of a large part of his wide distribution system. Our anthology will be seen by people we wouldn't otherwise have access to. Win Win.

So, look for the book at Untreed Reads soon after October 21st, our publication date! You can also look for it in the other usual places, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. We'll get links put up here and at ALLTHINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY as soon as they're live.

 Hope you're getting yourself ready for Halloween. Get ready by reading some scary stuff. Prepare to be frightened!

 Casper is in the public domain.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Release Date For All Things Dark and Dastardly: Oct. 21, 2011!

Hear ye! Hear ye! The official release date of All Things Dark and Dastardly is fast approaching! October 21, 2011 is when you can purchase your very own copy of this anthology.

What's it about?

It is a compilation of horror, mystery, and urban fantasy short stories by Austin authors with a distinctly dark side...

For more information, come check out our site for it: All Things Dark and Dastardly.

By the way, thanks to all who entered our October Dark contest. We had great entries and the winner will be selected soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Promotion: Chance Encounters

Another writer recently asked me what I felt were the three most effective things I'd done for promotion. I thought for awhile about that. It's not an easy question to answer! I came up with three. I'm not sure they're the most effective (who knows what works and what doesn't?), but they're things that I think have helped me in my writing career.

I'd put networking first. I've done a lot of it over the years, online and at conferences. The conference I've attended the most often is Malice Domestic. That's where I've met so many fellow Sisters in Crime members, and especially fellow members of the Guppies chapter that has been so much help to me. Having met a few of the published writers in person made me brave enough to ask some of them for blurbs when it was time for my novel to come out. All but one gave me wonderful blurbs, for which I am so thankful. Attending Malice for years might have also helped get me my Agatha nomination last year.

Number two, would be commenting on other people's blogs and making myself known to bloggers who host writers. Aside from learning a lot from the bloggers I follow (when I have time), I feel I know the blog hosts a little better. When I've requested guest blogs, I had no trouble getting them. Some bloggers have even asked me to blog for them before I ask.

Third, I would put hanging out in bars. Not just any bars, though. A group I sat with at the bar a few years ago at the Agents and Editors con in Austin invited me to their writing group and this month we're putting out a short story anthology together. That's this group, All Things Writing!

Another chance meeting, also at the bar, was at Malice. I sat next to a fellow Austinite whom I didn't know in person. We had emailed and were both going to look for each other to try to meet up, but Malice is huge and that might never have happened. Janice Hamrick  was a first-time attendee at Malice and also the winner of the 2010 Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel competition. So her first novel was in the dealers' room, as was mine (though from a much smaller publisher!). I just happened to sit in the chair next to hers the first night I arrived, a happy coincidence. She wanted some guidance on how to get the most from the conference and I tried to help her out. I shepherded her a bit and we ate together a few times. She became a friend and eventually suggested my name to a radio host who had interviewed her (I assume Minotaur got her that interview, but I'm not sure). Now we're doing a panel, together with another local mystery writer, Robin Allen, (whom I also don't know yet!), arranged by that radio host, Hopeton Hay, at a local library.

Hopeton has also agreed to do an interview of me, Steve, and Mary Ann for our ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY release. (Coming October 21st!)

Maybe all of these just amount to networking. But I'm not going to admit that, because then I'd have to come up with two more.

Illustration: Social networking, public domain