Tag Archives: Excerpt

Fae Contributor Interview: Kari Castor

It’s Fae-tastic Friday again! This week I’m stoked to bring you an interview with another Fae contributor, Kari Castor. I used Kari’s story, The Price, to end the Fae anthology 🙂


KariCastorKari Castor’s Interview


What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

I was reading some Grimm’s fairy tales, and I ran across this very short tale the Grimm brothers had collected and called “The Rose.”  It was such an interesting snippet, and I’d never heard it before, and I really wanted to take the idea and expand it into a fuller story.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

No, I actually have another short story that deals with fairies that I started working on before “The Price” ever sprang into my mind, but that earlier story is still in the revision stages right now.

If no,  why do you write fairy stories? What is it about them that appeals to you?

When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by magical creatures, including fairies, so as I got older I went seeking out a lot of the legends and folklore behind the pretty stories.  I think the discovery that the original stories often weren’t so pretty — that there was actually a lot of darkness in those tales — made me love them even more.  There’s something very compelling to me about the way the old stories intermingle beauty and danger.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

“The Price” definitely hearkens back to the old legends, particularly those that come out of the British Isles (like Sir Orfeo and “Thomas the Rhymer”), where the fairies are prone to kidnapping young men and women and whisking them away to the realm of Faerie.  These, of course, are not the small fluttering creatures we so often conjure up today in response to the word “fairy” – like John William Waterhouse’s La Belle Dame sans Merci, they are more or less human in size and appearance.  They’re not necessarily good or evil, but they tend to have their own agendas and desires and don’t care much for what suffering they might cause others in the pursuit of them.

Is that your favourite type of fae?  If yes, why?

Probably.  I’m drawn to this type of fairy because they’re so alien, so other, while at the same time seeming so human.  I think they speak to the very selfish, narcissistic side of human nature — the part of us that wants and that can’t help but feel that our own wants are more important than anyone else’s.

I think it’s also interesting that it’s so often unclear why exactly the fairies in these legends are so interested in carrying off humans.  Perhaps its flattering to the human ego that these strange, beautiful, unknowable creatures would want us, mundane as we are.  Perhaps the uncertainty of the abducted humans’ fate lodges itself in our imagination; we do seem to have a collective fascination with unsolved mysteries.

Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)  What is it about them that makes them special?

I’ve always had a particular soft spot for Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  I actually auditioned for a role in The Tempest using Ariel’s “All hail, great master! grave sir, hail!” entrance (reworked to be a monologue) during my freshman year of college.  (I did get cast, but as a general ensemble member, not as Ariel.)

I suppose I like Ariel because he is both so human and so inhuman.  He’s clearly a powerful creature, yet he’s bound to the service of human Prospero, and he chafes against the confinement.  He’s capricious, tempestuous (ha!), at one moment recounting with glee how he burned the king’s ship and terrified the sailors and at the next bemoaning the further work he is being commanded to do.

Largely unlike the fairies of legend, Ariel’s motivations are eminently clear — he wants to earn his freedom from Prospero.  And I’ve always felt that it is through the scenes with Ariel (along with Caliban) that we see the darker side of Prospero most clearly: his manipulativeness, his thoughtless cruelty, how the power he wields has perhaps corrupted him.

And yet Ariel is one of the primary driving forces behind the action in the play.  We’re told that Prospero is a powerful magician, but it seems that often the magic we see or hear about is really Ariel’s, not Prospero’s.

Do you believe in fairies?

No, I don’t believe in literal fairies.  I do believe, though, that it’s important to keep an open mind and a sense of wonder about the world, and I think one way we do that in the modern world is by telling ourselves stories about magic and magical creatures.

Excerpt time!

From “The Price” by Kari Castor:

Addie breathed warmth into her mitten and pulled it back over her fingers. She turned away from the bush and dropped the bucket in surprise.

He was tall and slender, and though he stood just a few feet from her, no footprints marked his passage through the snow.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I did not mean to startle you.” His voice was quiet and low.

Addie picked up her bucket again, checking that none of the precious berries had been lost. “What do you want?”

“Only to help.” He did not smile. His hair was the color of the ice that formed over the river, dark blue-black, shot through with silver traceries.

Addie shrugged. “Don’t need your help.” She turned away and began walking.

“No, I suppose you don’t,” he said. “Still, I could help you fill your bucket faster.”

“Don’t want your help,” she said, and continued deeper into the forest. She found another bush and added another handful of berries to her bucket.

Again, the man was behind her when she turned. “I mean you no harm tonight,” he said softly.

“Go ‘way,” she said, and trudged on.

By the time her bucket was nearly full, the light was beginning to fade. She turned back toward home.

Once more, the man appeared. “Addie,” he said.

She stood still. “I’m not afraid of you,” she said. “But I know enough not to have truck with strange men in the woods who don’t leave footprints.”

His smile seemed startled but genuine, though Addie couldn’t help but notice that his mouth seemed to have more teeth in it than most mouths do.


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Fae Contributor Interview: Alexis A. Hunter

I’ve begun a series of posts I’m calling Fae-tastic Fridays where I’m sharing interviews I conducted with the contributors to Fae. This will be the second such post and for it I’m going to interview Alexis A. Hunter.


Alexis A. Hunter’s Interview

AlexisAHunterWhat was the inspiration for your Fae story?

“A Fairfolk Promise” was inspired by a photo I had pinned to my Writing Prompt board on Pinterest. I can’t seem to find the artist or original link—but it’s an image of a man strung up like a scarecrow. The colors are all faded and dark and creepy and it’s a very arresting image that really captured my imagination and inspired the ‘scarecrows’ in my story.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

This is the first ‘fairy’ story that I remember writing. There may have been others, but they don’t spring to mind. I may play with faries again in the future—like any other fantasy creature, there’s so much you can do with them, even throwing them in unique settings like a spaceship or a desert, and so on.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

I did some research about fairies, but it seems there are vast amounts of information out there and I didn’t sift through it all. The fairies of “A Fairfolk Promise” are, thanks to my research, harmed by iron. I think that’s a particularly symbolic weakness, as many fairies are extremely nature-oriented (as mine are) and what symbolizes man and the industrialization of our kind more than iron? I also allowed my fairies to shapeshift—I’m not sure if that’s part of fairy folklore or not, but it became necessary for the story to work correctly.

Do you believe in fairies?

I would certainly love to believe in fairies!

Do you want an excerpt? You know you do… 😉

From A Fairfolk Promise by Alexis A. Hunter:


A guttural cry tore itself from Cedric’s bleeding, cracked lips as he twisted down and back. Tearing loose, he darted toward the forest. A surge in his chest—half a heartbeat of freedom, but their hands were as brambles, snagging him. They dragged him to the earth, shouting curses and pummeling his bony sides with boots .

The wind knocked out of him, he lay immobilized. His lips parted and he sucked in mouthfuls of air as they dragged him forward. The cornstalks whispered around him, their blades slicing little red trails on his exposed arms and chest—nothing compared to the purple-blue bruising marbling his body.

“You hit me again, and I’ll strike you dead, kushna,” growled the Rolfman.

An iron cross stood in the midst of the corn, its vertical pole driven deep into the earth. Cedric forced his weary muscles to move again, to fight. To resist. But he had little hope of victory. They were too many, and they ate hearty meals each night. Slept in beds fluffed by goose-feathers. Cedric hadn’t eaten a scrap of food in the past three days.

They pressed him against the iron cross. The blazing twin-suns above had heated the surface, and it singed his skin. Gritting his teeth, he refused to cry out. Three held him while the fourth and fifth stretched his arms across the horizontal pole. They secured him with thin, sharp wire, laced with barbs. It cut into his skin, drawing blood.

And still he fought.

For Lina and the baby, he fought to be free.


Fae Cover

Available direct from the publisher:

Paperback $14.95
Ebook $6.99

Or find it online:

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Fae Contributor Interview: Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Over the coming weeks I’m going to be sharing interviews I conducted with some of the contributors to Fae, and since alliteration is fun, I’m going to do it on Fridays and call them Fae-tastic Fridays. 🙂

This is the first of those interviews, where I asked questions of “And Only The Eyes of Children” author, Laura VanArendonk Baugh.


Laura VanArendonk Baugh reading from "And Only The Eyes of Children" at the Canadian launch of FaeLaura VanArendonk Baugh’s Interview


What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

I’d been reading some months before on modern slavery, how there are about 29 million enslaved people today – not pinned by student loans or other things sometimes described as slavery, but real, captive, bought-and-sold slaves, used for forced labor or the sex industry. About 2 million of those are kids in the commercial sex trade. (See www.ijm.org for more information and ways to help fight modern slavery.)

Meanwhile, I saw a delightful production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at our local repertory theater, and they had a lot of fun with the fairies. Jennifer Johansen, who played Titania, is one of my favorites, and her portrayal stuck in my mind, blurring Shakespeare’s Fairy Queen with the strength of other characters Jen has played.

The opening concept – immortality was evolution’s biggest mistake – had been in my idea file for years, waiting for an opportunity.

And then I over-dosed on dark chocolate and everything was a blur, and when I came to, “And Only the Eyes of Children” had happened.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

Sort of. I haven’t written much with traditional Western fae, but I’m definitely not new to folkloric fiction. My Kitsune Tales series is set in old Japan and revolves around the youkai there, sort of the equivalent of our fairy and monster collections.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

I departed a bit from traditional lore. Robin is half-Fae, an oddity resulting from the Fae’s (usually fruitless) attempt to breed. We’re given to understand that human-fae offspring are relatively rare and often carry a heavy biological penalty. Robin has to work at bit harder at many Fae skills, such as the use of magic, but it’s possible.

What is your favourite type of fairy, and why?

If I may go back to the Japanese youkai, Eastern fae, there are a lot of fun creatures from which to choose, and most are so very different from our own fairies. (An enormous disembodied foot which falls through your ceiling in the middle of the night and demands to be washed? A friendly household spirit made entirely of cast-off kitchen utensils?) But one of the most popular, and a personal favorite as well, is the kitsune, a shape-shifting fox.

In western lore, the Other is usually easy to identify. But kitsune can take the form of a human, or even of a particular human you know well. And they may be benevolent or quite malicious, while they appear to be like us. So many possibilities!

Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)

Ooh, a fun question!

I’m not sure I can say she’s my favorite, because I don’t think I like her, but I’m fascinated by Jim Butcher’s take on Queen Mab in The Dresden Files. And of course I’m not alone in thinking of Disney’s Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty as an iconic and delightfully scary fairy.

And allow me to end this interview with a short excerpt from Laura’s story. You’re welcome 😉

From And Only The Eyes of Children by Laura VanArendonk Baugh (161 words):

I’m one of the rare half-breed freaks myself, though not of the type to get an OMG!!!1! photo on the internet. No, I’m lucky enough to pass on a human street – which conversely means I’m pretty unlucky on what passes for a street in the Twilight Lands. So I tend to spend most of my time here.

Exactly here, in fact. This is a good place for us. What, you don’t think of Indianapolis as being a particularly supernatural city? That just means we’re keeping under the radar. I know, New Orleans and Chicago and places get all the arcane press, but think for a second. Indianapolis has two affectionate sobriquets: “the Crossroads of America,” for its prominent location on first the National Road and later several interstates, and “the Circle City,” for its efficient, nearly ritual, circle and grid layout.

Crossroads and circles, people, right in the advertising. If you can’t find the Fae in that, I can’t help you.


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Available direct from the publisher:

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Ebook $6.99

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Poxland Excerpt

SummerZombie Shirt FrontIn order to help promote the release of my book Waste Not (and other funny zombie stories) I joined in on the Summer of Zombies tour which is taking place all month long. Today, as part of that, I would like to offer you an excerpt from Poxland by Bryan Cassiday:



Halverson felt like he was covered with hot leeches that were sucking the blood out of his flesh. To make matters worse, he felt like ticks were crawling under his skin across the entire length of his body. He scratched his left forearm trying to soothe the itching that was burning his skin. It did no good.

The ticks were embedded under his skin as they crawled all over his body. His scratching accomplished nothing, save to exacerbate the itching and smarting of his skin.

His eyes snapped open.

He realized he was lying naked on his back in the dingy bomb shelter. He surveyed his body. There were no leeches on it, and he could discern no traces of ticks burrowing underneath his skin, no ridges formed in his flesh by their burrowing. Nevertheless, his flesh was burning up.

The result of the nuclear blast. The scorching blast wind had striated his body as he had run for cover to the bomb shelter underneath the desert.

A single dim incandescent light bulb hung above him in a wire cage on the ceiling, as he lay in a daze on a bunk.

The explosion of the atomic blast and its accompanying overpressure had all but burst his eardrums.

His skin continued to itch like crazy. He had to get the radioactive dust off it. He needed to take another shower. But how many showers did he have to take and how often? He knew he had taken many since the atomic blast had flattened Las Vegas, a few miles away from where he now lay doggo underground.

He could not take that many more showers, though, he knew. There wasn’t an inexhaustible supply of fresh water in the shelter. What water remained needed to be conserved for drinking.

Iodine, he thought. He needed more iodine tablets to treat his radiation-contaminated body. Where was Victoria? he wondered. She and he were the lone survivors of the atomic bomb explosion, as far as he knew. He did not see her now.

He felt his forehead with the back of his hand. As he had thought, he was burning up with fever. Maybe he was delirious as well.

His mind raced, seeking answers.

Maybe the atomic blast had never really happened. Maybe the blast was a chimera of his overheated imagination brought on by the fever. Somehow he doubted it. In fact, it was all coming back to him.

The president had dropped nuclear bombs all across the country and all over the world in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to rid the nation of the plague-infected flesh eaters that were running amok around the world, wreaking havoc and spreading the pestilence wherever they roamed.

If only this was a nightmare! decided Halverson. Then he could wake up from it. The fact was, it was worse than a nightmare, because it was really happening. He would never wake up from it.

Above his face he saw a black spider rappelling down on a strand of silk from the ceiling. Then he wasn’t the only survivor, decided Halverson. This spider, too, had survived nuclear annihilation.

He did not like spiders. He did not like this ugly thing jerking its eight legs around like knitting needles darning an article of clothing as it descended ineluctably toward his face on its thread of silk that glittered like dew in the dim artificial light of the incandescent bulb.

His initial reflex was to kill the creature. He wanted to swat it off its silk strand and then stomp it on the cement floor.

But if he killed the spider, he would be alone in the blast shelter—unless Victoria was in another part of the structure. He had no desire to be the last man on earth, or even the last living creature on earth, for that matter.

Overcoming his reflexive urge to smash the spider, he decided to do nothing and let it continue its descent from the ceiling, to let the ugly arachnid live and keep him company in the cramped bomb shelter. To have any kind of life with the creature present was better than being left alone, he decided, even if it was a detestable spider.

He rolled out of the way of the spider as it descended onto the bunk.

POXLAND_Cover_FINAL_SmallHopefully, the thing would not bite him later as a way of thanking him for his moment of kindheartedness, or, was it more accurately a moment of weakness on his part for sparing the spider? Was it weak to desire a companion in his solitude?

The creature crabbed away from Halverson across the bunk’s sheet. Just watching the way the spider scuttled off creeped him out. The last thing he wanted was a hunchbacked spider crawling across his smarting flesh. The suffocating sensation of leeches and ticks swarming on and inside his body was enough for him to deal with at the moment. Too much for him to deal with, in fact.

He sprang off the bunk to his feet.

He must find Victoria. Was she in any better shape than he was? he wondered.

A hunger pang attacked him. If worse came to worst, maybe he could eat the spider. Or maybe it would be best to let it reproduce, so it would bear more spiders and then he could consume them. Christ! What a sickening thought! He wanted to wretch.

His logy mind was straying off in directions he preferred not to travel in.

He massaged his forehead. He needed to pull himself together. To face his predicament like a man. The last man on earth, maybe. His mind kept revolving back to that nagging whim, he realized, like water circling a drain before disappearing down the sink. The last man on earth.

Was it really that bad? he wondered.

The president of the United States had ordered the nuclear bombing of the entire country in order to wipe out the plague-infected flesh eaters that were taking over the world. Yeah, it was that bad, Halverson decided.

Unbidden disturbing memories flashed back into his mind. He remembered confronting his brother Dan on the end of the Santa Monica Pier. Dan, who had contracted the so-called zombie virus and become one of the walking dead . . .

Mannering the cop wielding a smoking jackhammer and fending off the creatures as they converged on him on a Wilshire Boulevard sidewalk. Mannering jamming the clattering jackhammer into the chests and brains of the walking dead, pulverizing the necrotic tissue of the creatures with machine-gun piston thrusts of the tool, allowing Halverson and Victoria to escape as he covered their retreat. Then the gruesome sight of Mannering disappearing into the horde of flesh eaters, and his amputated, bloody arms flying out of the mob of creatures as they tore him apart and tossed away his bones that they had picked clean of marrow . . .

Reno the journalist staving off the flesh eaters with Molotov cocktails as they laid into Halverson and him at Alcatraz prison. Reno being ripped apart by the ghouls as Molotov cocktails exploded around him, taking out scores of the creatures jacked up into a feeding frenzy of bloodletting . . .

The memories were overpowering. Halverson could not deal with replaying them over and over again in his mind’s eye to the point of debilitation. He banished the images from his mind. The worst thing about it was that these memories were but the tip of the iceberg. He had plenty of other lurid recollections of flesh-eater attacks that were just as horrifying rattling around in the dark corners of his mind, waiting for their chance to surface to his consciousness and torment him with their graphic atrocities.

And then President Cole ordered the A-bomb dropped on Las Vegas, forcing Halverson and Victoria to take refuge in this blast shelter underneath the radiation-contaminated Nevada desert.

It was all too much to come to grips with, decided Halverson. He needed to forget about it and carry on, taking it one day at a time. The scope of the debacle was just too much for him, or for anyone else for that matter, to comprehend all at once. Trying to get his head around the enormity of it would trigger a mental breakdown, he was convinced.

He could not remember how long he and Victoria had been holed up in this dusky rat’s nest of a blast shelter. His mind was playing him false. It did not want to face the horrifying reality of his situation. Memories faded in and out. But were they memories or false impressions left from nightmares rummaging around through his calamity-besieged mind?

He was burning up. He needed water.

He strode to the water cooler, ran water out of the cooler’s tap into a plastic cup, and took a long pull of the tepid water. Cooler? he thought ironically, eying the container, grimacing with distaste at the water’s warmth as it enveloped his tongue. What he’d do for an ice-cold glass of water! Or better yet an ice-cold beer.

He realized he was dying of thirst. He drew another cup of water. The water remaining in the cooler bubbled and glub-glubbed as the water level lowered.   The cooler was fast approaching empty, he realized with a sigh. He downed the cup of water, ignoring its lukewarm insipidity this time.

How much water did they have left? he wondered. You could go without food for days, even weeks. But you could not go without water for days, especially in the stuffy closeness of this poky shelter. They had to have water.

His gaze lit on the orange plastic prescription bottle of pills on the sink. He also needed to take iodide pills.

BryanCassiday54He managed to snap open the white childproof cap on the pill bottle and downed two of the iodide pills. He needed them to protect him from radiation poisoning by iodine-131, which had been released into the air during the atomic blast. Radioactive iodine-131 was absorbed by the thyroid gland.

By taking the iodide tablets he kept his thyroid saturated with iodine, so it could not absorb the poisonous iodine-131. The thyroid could absorb only a finite amount of iodine. The trick was to keep the thyroid saturated with iodine for as long as the air might contain radioactive iodine-131.

He did not know if any of the nuclear blast’s iodine-131 had seeped into the bomb shelter when he and Victoria had first entered the shelter during the explosion. But he wasn’t taking any chances.

Also, he did not know how long the iodine-131 would linger in the air after the nuclear explosion. He would keep taking the iodide pills for the time being.

As of right now, the outside air could not seep into the airtight blast shelter.

At least he didn’t think it could. He had no way of knowing for sure.

Of course, the iodide pills were useless against the radioactive cesium-137 and strontium-90 that might still be in the air outside.

Halverson heard footfalls. He turned toward the source of the sounds.

Yawning, wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe, Victoria was entering the living quarters from a bedroom. Noticing that he was naked she averted her face from him. Her blonde hair hung down on her shoulders in glossy coils.

A twenty-eight-year-old dress designer in the prime of her life wearing a threadbare bathrobe in a fuggy, claustrophobic cement room under the desert. No doubt she neither dug her wardrobe nor her dwelling, Halverson decided. Then again there wasn’t much to dig during their ordeal.

“Why don’t you put on some clothes?” she said.

“I fell asleep after I took a shower, I think,” said Halverson.

“You think?”

“My mind’s playing tricks on me. It’s filled with nightmares and bad memories. I’m having trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy.”

She turned to look at him. She jerked her head away again at seeing him still undressed.

“Are you gonna get dressed or what?” she said, facing away from him, arms folded across her chest.

He strode over to a closet, opened its door, and removed from the cylindrical wooden hanger a wire coat hanger with a terrycloth robe draped on it. The robe looked like the one Victoria was wearing, right down to its shabbiness. He slipped it on.

She heard him close the closet door. She turned around and faced him.

“We got a problem,” he said.


He was scoping out a large translucent plastic cistern full of water that stood next to the water cooler when he spoke.

“We’re running out of water.”

Victoria eyed the cistern and looked grim. “Then we’ll have to leave the shelter to find some.”

“You know what that means?”

“It means we’ll get contaminated with radiation if there’s any left in the air.”

Halverson nodded. “This shelter wasn’t built for long-term habitation.”

“Why wasn’t it? If it was built as a bomb shelter, they should have stocked it with more food and water.”

“It doesn’t do any good complaining about it. We just have to deal with it.”

Victoria filled her cheeks with air and blew it out. “It seems like it’s getting hotter in here, too.”

Halverson had noticed the same thing. “I wonder if the A/C is conking out on us.”

“Maybe we’re losing our air supply.”

She eyed the vent in the wall opposite them. White cloth streamers tied to the vent’s grill were shivering in the outpouring air.

Halverson followed her gaze. The streamers didn’t seem to be blowing into the shelter horizontally as they had been the last time he looked at them. They seemed limper now and dangled down farther than they had earlier, signifying a decrease in airflow.

He sniffed the air. He fancied he could smell a trace of stagnation, which may have been generated by the increase in temperature. But he doubted it. Combined with the flaccid streamers at the mouth of the air duct, the stagnant odor more than likely indicated declining and inadequate airflow.

Not good, he decided. This must have been a jury-rigged bomb shelter cobbled together by the local Nevada militia. Probably one of those do-it-yourself prefab deals you could buy online.

Halverson decided he and Victoria would be lucky if they could last a week here without venturing outside.

“For all we know, this air recirculating in here may be unfit for breathing,” he said.

“What if it’s poisoning us?” said Victoria, growing alarmed at the idea.

“It’s probably not doing us a whole lot of good, in any case. But we’re still alive.”

“It’s looking more and more like we’re gonna have to leave here soon.”

“Yep.” Halverson eyed the bottle of iodide pills near the sink. “Have you been taking your iodide pills?”

“I think so.” Victoria screwed up her face in thought. “It’s hard to keep track of what day it is in this hole.”

Halverson nodded. “I can’t even tell if it’s day or night.”

“Now I know how a mole feels.”   She surveyed their dim-lit quarters with disgust.

“If it wasn’t for this hole in the ground, we’d be dead by now of radiation poisoning.”

“There’s that.” She paused. “Do you think anyone else survived the explosion?”

“I don’t know. Did the government just nuke Vegas or did it nuke other cities and states as well?”

“We know they blew up California and New York while we were in Vegas.”

Halverson nodded at the memory. “He said on TV he was gonna nuke the entire country to cleanse it of the plague.”

“And then nuke the world. The question is, did he carry out his promise?”

“I’m not very eager to find out what’s left up there,” he said, looking upward.

Perspiring, he felt thirsty and drew another glass of water from the cooler. He gulped down the beverage.

“If we go topside and we’re still alive, where do we go from there?” asked Victoria.

“We have to find out what’s left of the government.”

“But they’re the ones who dropped the A-bomb on us.”

“I know. But they’re the only ones who know what’s going on.”

“If they know what’s going on, why did they nuke us?”

Halverson caught himself gazing upward again. “It must be worse than we thought up there. Dropping nukes is a last resort.”

“I wonder if it did any good.”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

Victoria thought about it. “I don’t want to go outside.”

“We have to. We can’t stay locked up in here much longer.”

Victoria turned away from him. “I don’t care. I don’t want to go out there. At least those things can’t attack us here.”

“Maybe the A-bomb wiped all of them out.”

“I still don’t want to go up there.”

“I don’t think we have much of a choice.”

He took stock of the shelter. Floor-to-ceiling rows of shelves that bore serried canned goods lined one wall. They had plenty of food to last them for a while, he noted.

Then he looked at the water cooler. Beside it was the full, large plastic cistern that he had noticed earlier. Beside the cistern was a fifty-five gallon drum, which contained the remainder of their water supply.

“I’d rather take my chances here,” said Victoria.

“We’re gonna run out of water soon. No more showers. That’s for sure.”

“It already smells in here.” Victoria sniffed the air and grimaced. “It’s just gonna get worse if we don’t bathe.”

“We can live without bathing but not without drinking water.”

“What makes you think there’ll be any water we can drink up above?”

“You mean it’ll be contaminated with radiation?”

“Exactly. How will we know the water we find up there isn’t poisonous?”

“We can always find bottled water or drinks in supermarkets. We’ll be able to find something to drink once we’re out of here.”

“But that doesn’t rule out our being poisoned by the radioactive air,” she said irritably.

“I know that. The problem is, we’re not gonna be able to stay here much longer without anything to drink. And it’s gonna get worse.”

Victoria pricked up her ears. “What do you mean?”

“We’ll have to start going through the rest of the water at a faster rate than before.”


“The hotter it gets in here, the more we’re gonna have to drink to keep hydrated.”

An unnerving silence hung in the air.


Buy Poxland by Bryan Cassiday now at Amazon: http://www.amzn.com/1492739715.


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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie


AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in June, here’s the complete list, updated daily:


Fae Cover Reveal

FAE cover


That’s the sound effect I imagine accompanying this image loading on your computer monitor. Because to me, this cover has weight, it has presence. This cover says Boom when you first see it 🙂

This is the cover for Fae. In case you’re new here, let me tell you a little bit about Fae, then I’ll share an excerpt and tell you how you can enter to win an ARC 🙂

Fae Description:

Meet Robin Goodfellow as you’ve never seen him before, watch damsels in distress rescue themselves, get swept away with the selkies and enjoy tales of hobs, green men, pixies and phookas. One thing is for certain, these are not your grandmother’s fairy tales.

Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant creatures throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. Fae is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies and modern midwifing, the Old World to Indianapolis.

Fae covers a vast swath of the fairy story spectrum, making the old new and exploring lush settings with beautiful prose and complex characters. Enjoy the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale alongside urban fantasy and horror with a fae twist.

With an introduction by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, and all new stories from Sidney Blaylock Jr., Amanda Block, Kari Castor, Beth Cato, Liz Colter, Rhonda Eikamp, Lor Graham, Alexis A. Hunter, L.S. Johnson, Jon Arthur Kitson, Adria Laycraft, Lauren Liebowitz, Christine Morgan, Shannon Phillips, Sara Puls, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.

There were so many fantastic excerpts I could have chosen to share here. I am honestly having the hardest time in the world picking just one. My plan then, is to pick one to share right now, from the very first story of the anthology (Rosie Red Jacket by Christine Morgan) and then as we inch toward Fae’s release I’ll share a few more, spread out over the weeks. You won’t be disappointed, I promise 🙂

Excerpt from Rosie Red Jacket by Christine Morgan (230 words):

“Boys are the horridest,” someone said. “Aren’t they just?”

Georgina, on the stone bench by the garden hedge, started so that she almost dropped her book. She caught it against her lap and looked around.

Here was the yard, grassy lawns and flower-beds and tree-shaded paths sloping up toward Drewbury Hall, where her uncle’s family lived. Where she, too, now lived, because she had noplace else to go. The brick walls climbed green with ivy, the roof-slates were grey, and curtains stirred in open windows as the maids aired out the rooms.

The only person she saw was Partridge, the driver, out by the carriage-house. He crouched in front of the big brass-grilled snout of Uncle’s gleaming auto-motor, polishing the luminaries with a soft rag. It couldn’t have been him that she heard, because he was too far away, whistling as he worked.

And the voice had sounded much more like that of a child, a girl her own age.

Which would have been nice, but the only other girl for miles about was the coalman’s daughter in the village. Mrs. Curtis, the housekeeper, insisted it simply wouldn’t do for Miss Georgina to associate with the coal-scuttle girl. Such things weren’t proper, and therefore, weren’t done.

She was about to decide she’d imagined it when the someone spoke again.

“Don’t you wish that they’d all get the speckles and die?”

To celebrate the cover reveal and forthcoming publication of Fae, we’re giving away six ARCs through Goodreads, so enter below to win, and don’t forget to put Fae on your ‘Want to Read’ shelf. I think it improves your odds of winning, plus it makes me happy to see the number of people who have this on their shelves slowly growing 🙂

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fae by Rhonda Parrish


by Rhonda Parrish

Giveaway ends June 19, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Speaking of slowly growing numbers, we thought it would be fun to see how far up the list of ‘Books About Faery’ we could get Fae. So far we’re up to #59. If you have a couple minutes to spare, why not pop by and vote for Fae on the list of Books About Faery? I want to see if we can break into the top 50 *fingers crossed*


Edited by Rhonda Parrish

  • Release date: July 22, 2014 (ebook and paperback)
  • Genre: Fantasy / Horror
  • Length: Anthology, approx. 250 pages
  • Trade paperback: $14.95; ebook $7.99
  • ISBN-13 (trade paperback): 978-0692207918
  • ISBN-10 (trade paperback): 0692207910


NaNo Excerpt Week Five

alcatrazI’ve just come home from my the Christmas party at my husband’s work, and I’m sleepy and my head is a little foggy from wine, but I was reminded that I haven’t posted my excerpt for this week for the NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. So now I’m doing that. And just because I feel like celebrating the fact that first drafts are supposed to be shit, I picked this excerpt. Yeup, this is how I write LOL

“Well,” Sevren laughed. “I’m not sure we can go that far, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Just like you gave me back in grade two when I was sure SOMETHING WAS SOMETHING INSTEAD OF SOMETHING ELSE.”

Morgan laughed and pushed Sevren back by his shoulder. “This is not like that.”

“This is exactly like that,” Sevren said. “And do you remember what you did back then?”


“Perhaps, but do you have a better plan?”

“No–” Morgan admitted. “But that’s not much of a plan.”

“Sorry Scoob, but we’re going back to the haunted mansion.”

“Rut-roh, Raggy,” Morgan said in a terrible impersonation of Scooby Doo. “Rut-roh.”

Wheee! For the record, I write my NaNoWriMo novels almost exclusively with the Write or Die desktop app. I turn it on Kamikaze with the tolerance level set very low. That means if I stop typing it starts erasing my words. It’s motivating, but it does mean I haven’t time to sit there and think about things like this so I rely on a lot on placeholders. Whatever gets the words on the page, right?

Grrr Rawr Argh!

alcatrazMarcus Romer tweeted this:

The Creative Process

1. This is awesome

2. This is tricky

3. This is shit

4. I am shit

5. This might be ok

6. This is awesome

— Marcus Romer (@MarcusRomer) October 23, 2013

And yeah… that pretty much sums up my freaking creative process. Right now I’m at #3 and sliding pretty quickly toward #4. This is actually happening much earlier into this book than it usually does. I usually hit the ‘This is shit’ point when I’m about halfway done something, and ‘I am shit’ follows behind that. Things turn around into ‘This might be okay’ somewhere around 2/3rds done… usually.

Right now I’m about a third of the way through and already eyeball deep in ‘This is shit’ which freaking sucks. *sigh* I’m still writing, I’m still plugging away though, because if I quit this story never gets told. If I quit I never get to move past ‘This is shit/I am shit’ and I’ll sit there and wallow indefinitely. If I quit I never get to make it back to ‘This is awesome’. And ya know, I’m a pretty big fan of ‘This is awesome’.

So I’m gritting my teeth (so hard I’m halfway scared they might break) and I’m putting one word in front of the other. Even if they are shit. Because I have to. Because it’s what I do.

…but I also had to take a break to vent/whine a little bit.

Because apparently, that is also what I do.


I also share excerpts from this novel on Fridays because I signed up to participate in the NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. This week’s is pretty short, but I like it…

Alone in the white Varenous forged an object from thought and fear. Summoning all his available power he pushed against the walls of his existence, tearing a small hole in the fabric that separated his reality from Morgan’s.

The hole healed itself almost immediately, but not before he shoved the camera from his world into hers. Then, spent, he waited.

NaNoWriMo Friday Excerpts: Week Three

alcatrazIt’s Friday again, which means it’s time to post another excerpt.

I’m a fair bit behind on my novel right now (about 5k) and we’re heading into the weekend which is usually a really bad writing time for me. I’d planned to write 5,000 words today to get caught up before the weekend hit but that’s not happening so far. I am locked in my (small) bedroom with three cats and a dog while there are people using jackhammers in my basement. Not exactly an ideal work environment LOL

Anyway, I’ll see what I can manage. The construction ought to be done by Tuesday or Wednesday next week so if all else fails I’ll do 5k days on both Thursday and Friday. It’ll suck, but *shrugs*

But you aren’t here for my whining, are you? Time to bust out another excerpt from this years NaNoWriMo novel, with the working titled of Hollow Children:

Suddenly she wasn’t sure this was such a good idea. Morgan didn’t believe in ghosts. Not anymore. Not really. But she did believe in rusty nails, crumbling supports and unstable vagrants. Perhaps it would be a better idea to just go home and face her parents now. She looked over her shoulder, out at the neighbourhood she’d grown up in. She couldn’t see her house from here, it was on the other side of the prison, but all the streets around her home were as familiar to her as her own block. All safe. All boring. Maybe what she really needed to deal with Barry, and all the other troubles in her life, was to learn to be braver. Maybe that was what this trip would teach her. Maybe. She looked back toward the prison.

“Twenty seconds,” she told the boarded up window. “I’ll give you twenty seconds to start.” If she was too frightened after twenty seconds she would leave, but not before.

“One one thousand…”

Morgan pushed the board out of the way and peered down into the darkness.

“Two one thousand,” she whispered. She could see a table pushed up against the wall beneath the window. It was filty from the passage of countless feet but very welcome as it saved her from a substantial jump down into the prison’s basement.

“Three one thousand,” she said, putting her left foot down carefully, testing the table before putting all her weight on it. Though it looked sturdy enough there was no telling how long it had been in there, nor how many hundreds of kids or vagrants had tromped across it. Better safe than sorry, as her mother used to say. The table wobbled a little beneath her weight, but it seemed stable enough. “Four one thousand.”

She pulled her other leg through the window, followed by the rest of her. The plywood over the opening swung shut behind her, taking the light with it. Suddenly it was dark. A new flutter of fear flitted in her belly and her voice shook a little when she whispered, “Five one thousand.”

Her mouth was dry, and the familiar taste of fear filled it, tangy and bitter. She strained her ears against the darkness, slowing her breathing to minimize its interference and searching for any sound. Any proof she was not alone.

She waited, her back pressed against the cool concrete wall, for her eyes to adjust to the difference in light. Nebulous blobs of color floated across her field of view and she imagined a dozen sets of eyes on her. Eyes belonging to rats and spiders and other creatures unhampered by the darkness.

“Six one thousand,” she said as the darkness bled away into a grey half-light and shapes began to become visible. A filing cabinet leaned in one corner, three of its drawers were missing completely and the remaining two stuck out at drunken angles. Obviously this had been some sort of an office back when the prison was still in operation. Nothing to be afraid of.

Morgan sat on the table, dangling her feet over the edge before making the tiny hop to the floor. “Seven one thousand.”

She scoured the ground with her gaze as well as she could in the dim light, making sure there were no hazards waiting to trip her up and make her break a leg. Or worse. All she saw was water stains and tracked-in dirt.

“Eight one thousand,” she said after much more than a second had passed with only the sound of her heartbeat heavy in her ears.

“Nine one thousand,” she said, though the more time she spent in the shell of a prison the more comfortable she became in it, and despite her count she’d already been there substantially longer than nine seconds. “Right,” she said, looking around the room once more before following the tracks of hundreds of other adventure-seekers deeper into the old jail.

Other people are sharing excerpts from their work over at the Absolute Write NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. Check ’em out 🙂

NaNoWriMo Friday Excerpts: Week Two

alcatrazIt’s Friday again, and because I’m participating in the Absolute Write NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain that means another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, Hollow Children (which I think I’m going to re-title. Possibly to just ‘Hollow’). This section has a whole whack of issues, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start editing before the first draft was done, so I’m swallowing my ego and sharing it warts and all.


Running helps. As long as Morgan keeps her eyes straight, her right shoulder to the old prison and focuses all her attention on the sound of her shoes on the sidewalk, running helps.

It’s quiet. The only sounds are her feet hitting the pavement, her breathing loud in her ears and an occasional bird. The sound of traffic is a dull hum in the background but she hasn’t seen a moving vehicle in several minutes while she’s run laps around the four city blocks that contain the decrepit prison. It’s getting late enough that the sky is bruising and the streetlights are coming on, but their light is dim and there’s still more than enough sunlight to see without them.

The leaves are still on the trees but she can smell autumn’s bite in the air. She’s too warmed up from her exertions to feel it though. Her hoodie is tied around her waist and its hem slaps against the back of her knees as she runs.

Her body knows what to do, the movements are automatic and her mind is empty but for the one-two count of her feet on the sidewalk. One-two, one-two, left-right, left-right. She focuses on those numbers like she never does in math class, letting each one grow to fill her mind and push everything else out.

Usually she doesn’t have to count. Usually she just has to run. Usually, but not today. Today she walked in on her mother crying, so if she stops counting, Morgan knows the birdsong around her will be lost in the remembered sounds of twisted metal, screams and shattered glass.

As she rounds the northwest corner of the prison grounds something penetrates the barrier she’s put up around her thoughts. A voice. A very specific voice. Barry’s voice.

“Shit,” she whispers as her eyes flick one way and then the other, trying to discern where it’s coming from. Acoustics are weird around the prison grounds, the old prison and its outbuildings catch them and toss them around like a SOMETHING, and to make things worse the wind has chosen that precise moment to pick up and rattle the leaves in the trees.

The last thing in the world she wants is to have to deal with Barry. Especially f he’s with his friends, and if he isn’t, why would he be talking?

Finally she catches sight of him, he and his friends. They’ve just turned the corner and are walking toward her. That leaves her two choices. She can turn around and run back the way she’s just come from, or she can keep going and hope they leave her alone. She anticipates no joy from either choice. If she runs away they will know she is avoiding them and as soon as they sense any weakness they will be like a shark with chum in the water. History has shown her that. Still, the chances of them ignoring her as she runs straight at them are slim to none.

Well, if you’ve gotta go down, go down fighting.

The novel is going okay. It was really, really fighting me at first, but I feel like it’s developed a little bit of momentum. Which is good, I’m going to need it heading into week two since I don’t have a buffer like I usually do. Also, I haven’t written yet today, so I really ought to get on that…

NaNoWriMo Friday Excerpts: Week One

alcatrazOver at the Absolute Write Water Cooler there is a blog chain going on which I signed up to be a part of. In short, we are going to post excerpts from our NaNoWriMo novels each Friday. It’s kind of unfortunate that day one of NaNoWriMo falls on a Friday, but since it does I’m obligated to share an excerpt.

Excerpt from Hollow Children (a work-in-progress):

The house was dark when she entered it, and uncannily quiet. She shut the door behind her, turning the deadbolt in its place and learning her back against the solid wood with only the sound of her pounding heart and panting breath in her ears. She closed her eyes, wiped the palms of her hands on her thighs and willed her heart rate to slow, her breath to steady.

“Morgan?” Amy’s voice startled her and she jumped, eyelids flying open.

Amy stood across the kitchen, leaning her shoulder against the doorjamb, looking at her quizzically. “Morgan,” she said again. “Are you all right?”

No. No, I am very much not all right. “Yes,” she forced a laugh which sounded weak even to her own ears. “Of course I’m all right. I just got startled by a bird while I was running, that’s all.”

The best lies are those with a grain of truth, at least that’s what they always said on the police shows she loved to watch on A & E. “Just let me grab a shower and then we can start dinner.”

Amy nodded but Morgan couldn’t help but notice the worry in her eyes and the tell-tale way her hand was moving inside the pocket of her hoodie, worrying the button she kept in there. It was a habit she’d developed since the accident, something she did whenever she was scared or worried.

“Really,” Morgan said, contorting her face into a smile. “I just had a little scare is all.”

“Okay,” Amy said, but her voice was flat, unconvinced. “But you don’t usually lock the door against birds.”

For a little kid she was pretty sharp, there wasn’t going to be any convincing her of this lie. Not tonight. Morgan was filled with an odd mixture of gratitude and resentment. She was glad Amy cared enough to, well, care, but she didn’t want to talk about it and her sister’s big hazel eyes were making her feel guilty for that. What could a BLANK year old understand about it anyway?

“Go play Minecraft,” Morgan snapped, pushing by Amy on her way to the shower. “I’ll call you when it’s time to set the table.”

The shower washed the sweat off her body, but it didn’t make her feel any cleaner.

The following links will lead you to the blogs of the other participants in this blog chain 🙂 I’m going to go see if I can get a few hundred more words done before dinner.

~ orion_mk3 ~ robjvargas ~ AshleyEpidemic ~ vertigo78 ~ bdwilson ~ amaliegreen ~ meowzbark ~ wittyblather ~ skunkmelon ~ sunflowerrei ~