Publication date: September 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment....

Winterset Hollow cover, a Black and white sketch of bunny's head with barley sprouting from its eyes
Publication date: September 1st, 2021


Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle. Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book - a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It's Barley Day . . . and you're invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse-pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.



Read now
  


I want you to picture for a moment the characters of your favorite childhood novel. Do you have a good grasp of that in your mind? Now imagine that they are real, live, breathing things that you see and touch. Wouldn't that be incredible? That's exactly how Winterset Hollow begins. Eamon, Caroline, and Mark take a sabbatical to the home of their favorite author to see the place where it all began. To see where the creation of the one thing that molded their very beings occurred. They practically have a hero complex constructed of the author. Why wouldn't they—as the story and characters gave them a reprieve from their own lives and stressors?

It's difficult to remember while riding the wonderment of the opening pages that this is a dark fantasy. As the awe slowly starts to fade, trepidation and that feeling of wrongness slowly start bleeding in—bringing a wave of unease. The moment it all changes is palpable. From there, it's a veritable sea of crashing confrontations and revelations. The tension is high and once it begins, it doesn't let up until the very end. 

Durham's prose is certainly on the more literary side. Interspersed with poetry taken from Addington's version of Winterset Hollow, the verbiage is resinous and thick. The expansive depictions elevated the novel from what could have been a simple slash and hack.  I found the language selections meticulous and beautiful. I think a lot of readers might consider it is overreaching and perhaps even pretentious but it worked so well for me. 

I truly did not expect the emotional rawness of Winterset Hollow. The wonderment of the beginning when they are meeting the characters, the shock when it all goes south, the fear and anxiety, and in the end, the bitterness of heartache. This was a completely unanticipated emotional rollercoaster of a book. There's no succor as the reader is ricocheted from one blow to another, whether physical, emotional, or mental. Was I happy with the ending? Honestly, I couldn't imagine a more flawless conclusion. It was like the sun setting on the perfect day—Barley Day.




Publication date: August 25th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBl...


Publication date: August 25th, 2021


A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.

The women of Sueño, New Mexico don’t know how to live a life without sorrows. That’s La Llorona’s doing. She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there’s not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check. That’s what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.

Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone. She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself. But she survived. Only she didn’t come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won’t be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.

In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening. What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman’s journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.

CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism
Centered around La Llorona, the gothic fairytale is a feminist treat. If you are not acquainted with the story of La Llorona, the most common version is of a woman who marries a rich rancher. After bearing his children, she witnesses him with another woman and in a fit of jealous rage, drowns their children in the river. Unable to live with the grief, she spends eternity pacing the shores of the river, weeping and wailing. Weep, Woman, Weep takes this story and bestows upon it a fresh face and name. 

Mercy's life has never been easy. Generations of sorrow have tormented Sueño, New Mexico and La Llorona waits by the riverbank to drag the next generation down. The town and its people are well depicted but even here, bigotry is nevertheless alive and well. Ever present is the shade of La Llorona as the girls of Sueño are taught to conceal their sorrows and never, ever walk by the river at night. Mercy and her best friend, Sherry, have bigger dreams of leaving this little small-minded town but one day Sherry is touched by La Llorona and nothing is ever the same again. Mercy is determined that she will not lose her own vitality to the watery depths. She's been marked but won't give in.

Even with the heavy burden of grief on her shoulders, she finds quiet rebellion in her day-to-day life on the farm. She's jaded and wary but strength comes from within and Mercy has it in spades. She avoids the river, even standing the standing water of baths, and secretes her tears in jars so they will not be used to cause pain. Through it all, she perseveres.  The addition of a new neighbor leads Mercydown a path to another way of thinking. Mercy takes her roots that could entangle her, waters them with her tears, and lets them flourish into something beautiful. 

Choosing to have Mercy speak from the pages makes Weep, Woman, Weep more of a confessional than impassive story.  There are times that she stops herself from saying more than she means to say.  The use of first person makes Mercy's tale more intimate and believable. She's cutting and genuine and that's what makes her story all the more heart-wrenching.

Weep, Woman, Weep easily conveys the folklore vibe while still managing to be well-rooted in Mercy's world. At times, it's uncertain if La Llorona is merely in Mercy's head. Is she truly a supernatural spook? Whether or not La Llorona exists or is a convenient excuse for Mercy's stoicism is anyone's guess. One could look at it as a view of the role of women. How we are taught to swallow down our sorrow and put on a brave face to the world. How showing emotion is frequently viewed as negative and how our own hopes and dreams are put on the back burner sacrificially for others. This gothic fairytale is so beautifully written. Its haunting goes far beyond the grasp of La Llorona and weaves a beautiful story of endurance, fortitude, and love. 


I can't believe that we are already in the month of December.  I'm not ready for the cold and the dark, but I'm always ready for...



I can't believe that we are already in the month of December. 
I'm not ready for the cold and the dark, but I'm always ready for a read to keep me up all night under the blankets. December is an odd month for horror releases but that doesn't mean there aren't still some great stories being released. 
See if there's anything on the list you'd like to ask Santa for! 


(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)


Publication date: November 23rd, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of ...


Publication date: November 23rd, 2021


A shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of winter.
A woman must locate a snowflake for a magical trickster to save her frozen true love.
A witch knocks upon a young man’s door to take his life on Christmas day.
A small boy meets a faerie housed within a snow drop.

Once upon a time stories travelled from place to place on the tongues of merchants and thieves and kings alike. Under the blanket of night they were exchanged between children, and passed on to their children, and their children after them. Details were altered from one generation to the next until thousands of tales existed where once there were few.

In the spirit of these age-old stories comes Once Upon a Winter, a seasonal anthology of folk and fairy tales from 17 authors across the globe. It covers the Gothic, the romantic, the whimsical, the frightening and everything in-between, and features both intriguing twists on classic tales and exciting original stories.

The first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing, Once Upon a Winter is sure to have a story for just about everyone. Grab your copy in time for Christmas today!

Inside this anthology:

The Biting Cold by Josie Jaffrey
The Match Girl by Rebecca F. Kenney
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bharat Krishnan
A Pea Ever After by Adie Hart
The Snowdrop by H. L. Macfarlane
Silverfoot’s Edge by Ella Holmes
The Storm Hags by Caroline Logan
The Boggart of Boggart Hole Clough by Jake Curran-Pipe
Around the Hawthorne Tree by Jenna Smithwick
The Best Girl this Side of Winter by Laila Amado
The Snow Trolls by S. Markem
Lord of the Forest by Katherine Shaw
Queen of the Snows by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Long Meg and the Sorcerer’s Stones by M. J. Weatherall
The Frost of Mercy by A. J. Van Belle
Wintercast by R. A. Gerritse
You Can’t See Me by Kate Longstone 

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I absolutely adore folktales and fairytales, whether they are variations of the original stories, simply influenced by the classic tales or completely brand new imaginings. I didn't hesitate to say yes to Once Upon a Winter. What's even more exciting is that Once Upon a Winter is the first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing. Obviously, this one starts with the colder season of the year and all the stories within containing the cold bite of winter's wind and snow.

As with all anthologies, there are stories that will resound more with the reader over others, which is the beauty of an anthology. While there were a couple of the stories that didn't work so well for me, the vast majority did. The atmosphere of the stories varies from sweet and romantic like "The Snowdrop" by H. L. Macfarlane, in which a boy meets an unexpected faerie friend, to the humorous "The Snow Trolls" by S. Markem where the edict is "Don't eat the yellow snow" and then there are those much, much darker, which are always going to be my personal favorites. 

That's not to say I still didn't enjoy the other stories. "A Pea Ever After" by Adie Hart is a feminist tale that is on the lighter side of the retellings in the anthology but I loved this take on The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen. A fairy godmother has gathered four princesses together to compete for the hand of the prince. It was a welcome change to see smart, capable princesses that had no need of rescuing. In fact, the princesses had no interest in marrying the prince at all. Not that he's not perfectly handsome or refreshingly educated or even remarkably kind and funny because he is, they just aren't interested or have better things to do with their lives. 

Once again on the darker side of things is "Silverfoot's Edge" by Ella Holmes. In this tale, a trickster freezes a woman's love in a small pool and tasks her with finding one special snowflake in the midst of so many. This story starts in winter but spans the following months as well. It's everything that I love about fairytales. There's the peril of her loved one, the riddle to solve, a clearly defined baddie, and a determined and cunning heroine.  Not to mention that the little-folk creatures sent with her to "weigh" the snowflakes—the only way she'll know she's found the correct one—are adorable. My favorite passage of the entire anthology is here: 
        
        My mother once said to me love is an edge you will fall over, and she was right. 

        I think about it often as I walk the woods. She is dead and shrouded in the earth, and I feel her with every bare-footed step throughout the dirt. 
Landing among my favorites as well were two others in the collection: "The Best Girl this Side of Winter" with its undead, poisoned claws, and impossible quest and Katherine Shaw's "Lord of the Forest" which introduced me to the Leshii, a Slavic forest protector spirit. Don't let the fluffy bunnies on the cover fool you, there are wolves within these pages. 

If you love the stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen, there's a story here for you. Unlike the aforementioned authors, this anthology sees a more diverse authorship being primarily comprised of female and LGBTQ+ authors from various countries. Grab yourself a copy and a fuzzy blanket and expect a little magic for those long dark winter evenings. 






You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything.  Finding...

Christmas Tree with wrapped presents underneath on Red Background with blood spatter across words Ho Ho Horror
You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything. Finding the perfect gift, budgeting, baking and cooking, family, ugh—The holidays are stressful! 

It's no surprise then that horror fans turn to seasonal horror for comfort. Just look at all the Christmas movies out there: Black Christmas, Gremlins, Krampus, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (one of my personal favorites), Anna and the Apocalypse, and there are so many more. 

What about us bookworms who just want to curl up in our comfy chair with a fuzzy blanket, a cup of something hot, and tune out the world for a little while? Here are twelve Christmas horror reads for those of us that want to slay the holidays. 

(If you purchase using the affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. CLC does not receive payment for reviews.)




DEAD OF WINTER 

BY KEALAN PATRICK BURKE


Winter isn’t coming…it’s already here, and with it comes a horror no door can keep out.It’s there in the yard, in the faces of the snowmen a young boy doesn’t remember building. It’s in the oddly empty streets below Santa Claus’s crumbling sleigh. It’s in the unnatural movement of the snow that suffocates a widower’s town, and in the cold eyes of a lonely man’s estranged children. Here, there is no holiday cheer, only spine-chilling fear, in the DEAD OF WINTER. Featuring seven stories, an introduction by the author, and a list of recommended books for the winter season.



WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE 

BY AARON DRIES AND MARK ALLAN GUNNELLS


There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it's time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore – at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon to be dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won't be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.



Goodreads Amazon

SNOWBALL 

BY GREGORY BASTIANELLI


A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays. 

(My review can be found here)




Goodreads Amazon

A MIDNIGHT CLEAR 
ED. BY LINDY RYAN 

Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter's eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf's holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa's Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.

(My review can be found here)


SNOW 

BY RONALD MALFI


They come in with the snow. They are the snow . . .
 
The blizzard begins pummeling the Midwest on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Todd Curry doesn’t need another reason to disappoint his son, so he joins three other people in renting the last four-wheel drive available and they set out into the blinding snow.
 
Only two hours into the treacherous trip west, Todd swerves to avoid a man in the middle of the highway. The stranger claims his daughter is lost somewhere out in the snow. Though his odd demeanor and ripped clothes make Todd and his group uneasy, they agree to take the man to the nearest town—if the now damaged car can make it.
 
What awaits them at the next exit, however, is nothing they could have imagined. Around an empty town square, fires burn, cars are abandoned., storefronts are smashed. And there is no one to be seen—for now . . .
 
But soon the shadows lurking on the edges of their vision will step into the light, and Todd and his fellow travelers will find themselves facing a sharp-scythed evil shaped from the snow, tearing its way into human form—and taking the neighborhood by storm.

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS GHOST STORIES Volumes 1-5


During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. If you can’t get enough, more of these Christmas ghost stories are included in the five volume collection!





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BAH! HUMBUG! AN ANTHOLOGY OF CHRISTMAS HORROR STORIES



Matt Shaw has called upon some of the biggest names in horror to put together an anti-Christmas anthology of horror and weirdness!
 






HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM

 ED. BY CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN


Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children--Want and Ignorance--beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts.
Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.




MISTLETOE 
BY ALISON LITTLEWOOD


Leah Hamilton is looking for a new life following the tragic deaths of her husband and son. Determined to bury her grief in hard work, and desperate to escape Christmas and the pitying looks of her colleagues, she rushes through the purchase of a run-down Yorkshire farmhouse, arriving just as the snow shrouds her new home.

It may look like a Christmas card, but it's soon clear it's not just the house needing renovation; the land is in bad heart too. And Leah's mind starts playing tricks on her: she hears a child playing in the snow, but although there are snowballs, there are no footprints. Is this the ghost of her son, returned to her? She starts having visions of the farm's former occupants - the young widow and her son, the cousin who's wooing her, the maid who shares her secrets and the handsome labourer who's hanged for the murder of a child, a murder he didn't commit.

Is Leah strong enough to lay the increasingly malevolent ghosts and find a way to move on? Or will her ashes end up scattered over the now-covered fields?



Goodreads Amazon

SECRET SANTA 

BY ANDREW SHAFFER


The Office meets Stephen King, dressed up in holiday tinsel, in this fun, festive, and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ’80s, by New York Times best-selling satirist Andrew Shaffer.

Out of work for months, Lussi Meyer is desperate to work anywhere in publishing. Prestigious Blackwood-Patterson isn’t the perfect fit, but a bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre.

But as soon as she arrives, Lussi finds herself the target of her co-workers' mean-spirited pranks. The hazing reaches its peak during the company’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, when Lussi receives a demonic-looking object that she recognizes but doesn't understand. Suddenly, her coworkers begin falling victim to a series of horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, and Lussi suspects that her gift is involved. With the help of her former author, the flamboyant Fabien Nightingale, Lussi must track down her anonymous Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the company—and her soul.



SEASON'S CREEPINGS
BY RONALD KELLY


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree... what lurks among thy branches...

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. Candy canes and hot cocoa. Snowmen and sleigh rides. The love and hope that the Nativity brings. Cold milk and warm cookies for Santa. Family, friends, and the cheerful laughter of children.

But, beneath the festive wrapping paper and the gleam and glitter of the lights and tinsel, things less jubilant may lie in wait. The holiday season can bring love, peace, and benevolence... but it may also spawn a darkness lurking amid the shadowy boughs of the Christmas tree, ornaments that should have never seen the light of day, let along hung on festive branches, and bones that jingle and dance, in search of Santa's crimson suit... and the flesh that resides within.

In this collection of harrowing holiday tales, Ronald Kelly leaves ten frightful and horrific gifts in the Christmas stockings that hang from the mantle of your cheerful fireplace. Ghastly and gruesome presents that slowly unwrap and burst into life while you are tucked, snug and warm, in your bed and take on nightmarish form in the icy winter hours of Christmas Eve, turning comfort and joy into terror and dread.



Goodreads Amazon
CHILL TIDINGS: DARK TALES OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
ED. BY TANYA KIRK

The gifts are unwrapped, the feast has been consumed and the fire is well fed – but the ghosts are still hungry. Welcome to the second new collection of dark Christmas stories in the Tales of the Weird series, ushering in a fresh host of nightmarish phantoms and otherworldly intruders bent on joining or ruining the most wonderful time of the year. Featuring classic tales from Algernon Blackwood, Rosemary Timperley, Sheridan Le Fanu and Elinor Glyn alongside rare pieces from the sleeping periodicals and literary magazines of the Library collection, it’s time to open the door and let the real festivities begin.


Publication date: October 19th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned...


Publication date: October 19th, 2021

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.





NAMING CHARACTERS by JP McLean


In his famous Romeo and Juliet soliloquy, Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a Name?”

Quite a lot, as it turns out. I don’t have children, so the only names I’ve bestowed are on my fictional characters and my dogs. Happily, my choices have yet to be challenged (at least by the dogs).

Still, it’s important to find a good fit between the character and the name you choose. A name invokes an image in a reader’s mind. The way the name is spelled, how it rolls off the tongue, how it looks visually on a page—all these things add nuance to the character.

There are many elements that influence a name choice:

The era in which the story is set: Consider that Zeus and Apollo are now names reserved primarily for pets (the gods would not be pleased). The most popular names of any decade are readily available online.

The gender of the character, whether male, female, or gender variant: Consider Taylor, Charlie, Emerson.

The location within the country: If your characters are in the southern US, they may have uniquely southern names like Gunner and Knox, or Dixie and Hattie.

The personality of the character: Are they a no-nonsense one-syllable Jane or Bill, or a complicated three-syllable Abigail or Joshua? Is your character a wallflower or minor character you don’t want to draw attention to? Plain names such as June or Joe slide under the radar. If your character is the serious type, they may choose Judith over Judy, or Theodore over Teddy.

Age also plays a role. Younger characters might use a nickname, like Billy for William or Caddie for Caroline. Sometimes, nicknames stick throughout adulthood, and sometimes they’re used ironically: Stretch for a shorter person, Tiny for a larger person.

The entire cast of characters must be considered: Mix it up so the names don’t all start with the same few letters of the alphabet or aren’t all the same syllable length.

To help readers differentiate between characters, it’s important the names don’t look or sound too much alike. As in Abe and Abigail. Or Emery and Emelynn (yeah, that was one of my mistakes—Emery’s name got changed to Avery).

Writers also need to consider the nationality of the characters. Does your cast reflect the mix of people you’d see in your neighbourhood? In the grocery stores and libraries? If not, fix it. You can find lists online of names by nationality.

A resource I use all the time is the local telephone book. The flimsy paper books aren’t as prevalent or thick as they once were, but they’re rich in interesting names. Best of all, these are the names of people of all nationalities who live in your neighbourhood.

The best part about finding the perfect name for your character is that the name does some of the work for you in defining the character’s role and personality. Names have connotations, so it’s important to make the most of them. And even if your fictional children hate the names you’ve given them, they’re not likely to disown you for your choices.




I'm very fortunate to live in a writer's paradise on one of the small northern Gulf Islands off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rugged beaches and towering fir and arbutus trees that surround me often end up in my stories. When I'm not pouring my imagination into my computer, I'm futzing in gardens, making a mess of the kitchen or hiking local trails. I write stories that entice you to believe the impossible and escape the everyday for a while. Enjoy the read!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: October 27th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: October 27th, 2021


Beneath the streets of Liverpool lives a hunger. One bloody and insatiable. It skulks through the many secret tunnels and passageways that run like sandstone gullets to the domain of an ancient and horrifying madness: The Shelton Family. Good, honest, Christian, and monstrous in mind and body. The hunger is theirs, and it yearns for heathen blood. It yearns for salvation. It yearns for vengeance.
The Merseyside Druids, a sect decimated by the Sheltons and their terrible creatures over centuries of warfare, have one last chance at survival: Abigail Harwood, a young woman raised in ignorance of this long-standing holy war. She is about to learn the truth of her family roots, and the power of blood. She could be the Druid’s last hope.


Read now





What's your latest release? 

Heathens. A novel about a decimated group of modern druids fighting a losing war against the mutant aristocratic Catholics dwelling under the city of Liverpool.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

It's about a young woman raised by foster parents, who learns to her horror, that some suspicious friends of her biological parents need to take her into hiding before some very unpleasant creatures/people discover her. From then on its all guerilla druids and bloodshed and fighting for survival.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I had never written a novel set in my hometown, and felt it was something I should do for variety. Plus, it seemed to work out okay for Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Sometimes I have characters pretty fleshed out beforehand, but just as often I have to develop them around a new story idea.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

The whole cast of Hourglass, because it's the beginning of a series, which allows me to pour so much into a growing world of supernatural arse-kicking and monsters. It's basically my passion project.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

Both are integral and compliment each other.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I learned how anti-social I am, ha-ha. Seriously, I learned how great it feels to purge your ideas onto the page. Like a colonic for the brain.

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Likable characters are paramount. Naturally, the story needs to be engaging, with a good pace and interesting stakes, but even with those elements, the characters have to be likable and memorable enough (villains too!) to carry the reader through.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I realised how bad my first effort was, and knew I had to practice, practice, PRACTICE.
I'd like to say I've improved some.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

Yes, I read them, only because I'm not exactly inundated with them. The first time you get a bad one sucks, but equally, when you get a good one you're floating on air. The most annoying ones are bad ones because the reader/reviewer was a dope e.g. penalising your work because they don't like that genre...? It's like, "Then why pick it up in the first place?"
 

What led you to start writing?

I had grown bored at university, and decided to put some of my ideas down on paper. Turned out I loved it, even though it was woefully amateurish. But time and experience are great teachers.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Yes, I think that by being a stressed-out and moody ar#!hole it might somehow elevate my craft. Hope it's working!

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, and F. Paul Wilson. Pure imagination, with healthy doses of violence.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?

I swear under my breath too much. So much so I annoy myself sometimes.


What are you currently reading?

Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore, Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Whoops, touched on this earlier. Yes, too many too count. Normally fist-pumping rock anthems or super atmospheric 80's synthwave. It's better than caffeine.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Do it for the love of creating characters and worlds, because its a damn hard job, particularly the promotional side!


What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

Anything by James Gunn (particularly Super), or Romero's Day of the Dead.


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Are the fairytale creatures ravenous carnivores or playful and whimsical? I'll take a gamble and hope the fairytale creatures aren't fresh from a Brothers Grimm story.


What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I'd rather not say for fear of inciting a torch and pitchfork mob.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to make my action set-pieces as cinematic as possible. I also like to emphasise on the antagonists almost as much as the protagonists. I didn't realise that was even a noteworthy thing, but a few reviewers have picked up on it.


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

I'm on Twitter @DJauthor85


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Make some awesome playlists to help tune out and motivate you. Personally, I stick to hard 80's rock and synth wave, but you do you.


Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

Well, my next book, The Ferryman's Toll (Hourglass #2) is already finished, but I don't want to release it until I've wrung Heathens dry. So in the meantime I've been working on a horror screenplay, which makes a nice change of pace from writing novels. Some of it is based on my experience as a hospital domestic, but a bit more bizarre, Faustian, and body horror-ish.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading my waffle, Valerie. You're a legend!

Daniel James is a fantasy/thriller/horror author from Liverpool, England.

When not writing, he loves reading genre fiction and comic books, watching movies, listening to music, and playing guitar (he also used to play bass in a few local rock bands).




Publication date: October 31st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hen Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, ...


Publication date: October 31st, 2021


When Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she’s reassured by the realtor that nothing evil has ever occurred there. What she doesn’t know is that the bridge near the back of the property is notoriously known in the town as Suicide Bridge. As she and her friends try to uncover why so many people have taken their lives there, they are shocked by what they find. Can the reunion of Ghost Healers, Inc. untether the troubling spirits near Ellen’s fixer-upper, or will their discoveries be too much for them this time?

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“Ready for our hike?” Tanya asked. “Do pigs fly?” Sue said with a laugh. “The sooner we do our hike, the sooner we can get on the road to Santa Fe,” Ellen pointed out. “Just think, in five hours, we could be shopping in the plaza.” “Is that supposed to motivate me? That’s just what I’m looking forward to, more walking.” “Oh, come on, Sue,” Tanya said. “This will be more of a stroll than a hike. I promise.” Ellen and her friends put on their walking shoes and then took the trail beside their cabin into the canyon. Ellen breathed in the cool, morning air. The beauty of the canyon elevated her mood. Some of the stone formations were thick and striated, while other rocks formed mounds of crushed granite. In the distance was a tall formation that reminded Ellen of the sphinx. “Watch your step,” Tanya said from up front as she stepped over a large rock. “This feels so good,” Ellen said from where she took up the rear. “I feel like we’re one with nature.” “And nature is so majestic, isn’t it?” Tanya said. “Doesn’t that big rock look like the tower of a magical castle?” “I thought it looked more like the sphinx,” Ellen said. Sue shook her head. “You see a castle and Ellen sees a sphinx. What does it say about me that I see a penis?” Tanya scoffed. “You know what it says about you.” “Don’t tell Tom,” Sue warned. “He’ll say my mind is in the gutter.” “Isn’t it?” Ellen asked. “Yes, but there’s no need for Tom to know that.” The three friends chuckled. Ellen realized that if someone had overheard Sue, they might think she was a promiscuous woman who hid her extramarital interests from her husband, but her friends knew she just liked to make people laugh. Tanya asked, “You think there’s any truth to what that psychic said about there being a shade in Santa Fe? What if there is? What if he confronts us?” “Oh, Tanya,” Sue said, “you know as well as we do that there are ghosts everywhere. I’m sure there’s more than one shade in Santa Fe.” “But why would the psychic warn us?” Tanya wanted to know. “If anyone can handle a confrontation with a ghost, it’s us,” Sue said. “Don’t let fear get in your way of having a good time.” Ellen heard a shriek as Tanya stopped short. “Tanya? What are you screaming about?” Ellen asked from the


After earning her Ph.D. in English and teaching writing and literature for over twenty years, Eva Pohler became a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels in multiple genres, including mysteries, thrillers, and young adult paranormal romance based on Greek mythology. Her books have been described as "addictive" and "sure to thrill"--Kirkus Reviews.



  
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Publication date: November 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A mong the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as th...



Publication date: November 1st, 2021


Among the immortals that inhabit our world, Arnaud Demeure is known as the man who can fulfill your one true wish or who can also conjure your worst nightmares. 

Eight invitations are sent to eight immortals, and when Arnaud Demeure hosts a party, no one refuses his request. Why have they been summoned? Is it for a celebration or does a sinister fate await them? After all, in the ways of Magick, a party can also be a ritual to end the world. 

As the mystery deepens, the attendees must overcome their personal grudges to unravel the threads of Demeure’s grand plan that has been centuries in the making. But, with one of the guests secretly working with their host to sabotage the group’s every move, it seems impossible to look behind the curtain to learn Demeure’s true intentions. 

With each guest hiding dark secrets and darker intentions, will they be able to uncover Demeure’s mysterious motives or will the party prove to be the deadly nightmare that they each fear?.


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 The young sister ran through the silent city while the prophet waited for her to arrive. The old man knew she would come; he had seen her already. Hidden by the shadow of an old staircase, eyes fixed on the door, he tried not to get distracted by the creatures in his vision.

Thousands of them, maybe millions, all crammed within glass walls.

The youngest sat at the center of the glass prison. It was taller than the tallest mountain. It was quiet amid the frenzy of its brothers. Its head so high it saw beyond the ceiling of its prison, straight into the realm of the Eldest Lords. Light leaked from underneath its shaking, half-closed eyelids. It peeked into the future.

As the prophet watched them, the creatures stared at him from far away. He could see them, yet his mind could not make full sense of their shapes, only of a few features. A crowd of wings, fangs, stingers, and every piece of every animal he could think of, and some he had never seen, crawling on each other while human parts pushed their way through. The tall one, its eyes closed, hummed over and over.

“We are so close. It won’t be long.”

The others followed its chanting and moved back and forth in front of the glass holding them prisoners, just like animals expecting a bite of their prey.

The prophet almost missed the nun’s arrival. She ran up the stairs, hesitating as she put one foot on the first step.

Unseen, the prophet followed.

From the roof, he tasted the entire city. A forest of concrete and metal spreading in every direction, so much so that nothing existed if not within it. The sun blinded him, shining in white and gold. Dawn was a miracle. He stood still, in awe of the most magnificent city, and he almost forgot he had followed someone.

But there she was, the young sister, standing close to the balustrade, her arms raised to the sky, her shape dark against the sunlight.

The tall metallic tower pierced the sky and stabbed the sun, just like an arrow. The star bled, scattering its light all over the town.

White particles fell from the sky. Snow perhaps, or dust, he could not say. He dared to look up. The sky had turned dark despite the sun shining in it, light still leaking over the city.

In the cold air, no sound but the wind.

Nothing else made a noise. No sound of cars or their horns. No talking or music playing, no chirping of birds.

The prophet stood transfixed.

Cars were still on the asphalt, their lights on. Some stuck in place, some coasting along the streets. Many had slid, hitting nearby objects. Tombstones in an old graveyard, they lay against each other, against lampposts, or sat on the sidewalks.

Men and women, asleep, still clung to their steering wheels.

Their heads blasted out of the windshields or hung from the windows. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies covered the sidewalks and the streets. More must have been resting within the buildings, unmoving, untouched.

Here and there, white, black, and red stains, each tens of meters long, covered the streets—flocks of birds caught in whatever happened.

Nobody moved, nobody talked, everyone rested in this cemetery, testimony of a dark miracle.

The world had moved on. The city, now empty, stayed behind.

Paris was dead, and the Great Ones were free.




Born and raised in Sicily, M.L. spent most of his early life inventing stories and believing he could live in them.

In high school, he spent way too much time watching B movies, playing video games, and reading everything he could get his hands on, provided it wasn’t recommended by any authority figure.

M.L. spent most of his college years and adult life writing in languages only machines can understand until he decided to put some of his stories on the page.

After a few years spent in Scotland, now M.L. lives in Seattle with his wife, his cat, and a large assortment of books. When not writing, he still enjoys playing video games and explaining board game rules to his friends.

You can follow M.L. on: https://mylittleblackbird.com.

M.L. also writes as Sebastiano Merlino.