The dead are easy to talk to. Live people, not so much.
Charlie Sulliven thinks she knows all the secrets of the dead. Raised in a funeral home, she’s the reluctant “Ghoul Girl,” her reputation tied to a disastrous Halloween party. But navigating her life as a high school sophomore is an anxiety-inducing puzzle to her. She haunts the funeral home with her parents, emo older brother, Garth, their pistol-packing Gramma, and the glass-eyeball-devouring dachshund, Lothar.
Chewed human bodies are appearing in her parents’ morgue…and disappearing in the middle of the night. The bodies seem tied to a local legend, Catfish Bob, who has resurfaced in the muddy Milburn river near Charlie’s small town. When one of Charlie’s classmates, Amanda, awakens in the cooler as a flesh-eating ghoul, Charlie must protect her newfound friend and step up to unravel the mystery…and try to avoid becoming lunch meat for the dead.
When I saw vampire donuts come across a friend’s Facebook feed, I knew that I had to give them a try. I’ve had my own share of Pinterest disasters, to be certain, but I think this is something I can handle. The worst thing that could possibly happen would be that I’d have a dozen mangled donuts, right? I could eat all the evidence before anyone was the wiser.
1. I gathered my materials. I picked up a dozen glazed donuts, a bag of plastic vampire fangs, and a package of candy eyes. For fun, I got some edible glitter. I originally thought I might make sparkly vampire donuts with silver glitter, but decided to get green so that the completed creatures would remind me more of ghouls.
2. I squished some vampire fangs into the donut holes to make mouths.
3. Then I added the candy eyes. They stick very well into the donut glaze.
4. Then I dusted the donuts with edible green glitter. I was pretty pleased with my green choice…they seem particularly monstrous.
5. And ta-da! A horde of flesh-eating ghoul donuts!
I’m counting this as a Halloween craft win. Do you have any Halloween crafts you’re going to make this season? Any raven wreaths, bat cookies, or carved pumpkins on your agenda?
About the Author:
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.
I am sad to see The Mothman’s story end, but happy to have Mae Clair here to share her thoughts.
Cryptozoology, Urban Legend and Myths
By Mae Clair
The word “cryptozoology” is one that often leaves people scratching their heads. Simply put it’s a pseudo-science devoted to the study of creatures that may exist, but haven’t been proven to exist. Most commonly, Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster spring to mind. I love reading up on cryptozoology, urban legends and myth, so I thought I’d share my Top Ten:
The Mothman I spent three years researching this winged “cryptid” including visiting the area where he was sighted in 1966-67, so of course he gets the number one position! My Point Pleasant Series incorporates the mythology of the Mothman, UFOs, Men In Black, and an ancient curse.
The Lochness Monster I’ve been fascinated by Nessie since I was a kid. I honestly hope no one ever discovers she’s “real.” The mystery is far more compelling.
The Van Meter Monster This gargoyle like creature haunted the town of Van Meter, Iowa during the autumn of 1903. Most of the eyewitness accounts were made by businesses men and other professionals who couldn’t afford to be viewed as “crackpots,” thus lending credence to the sightings.
Jellyfish of the Air In 1953 William Reich and an assistant raised an “orgone-charged” rod into the air in the hopes of attracting invisible beings he believed co-existed in our in our dimension, but were invisible to the naked eye. Within five seconds, a huge jellyfish-like creature attached itself to the rod, becoming visible long enough for Leistig to capture it in a photograph.
I love the name! This Pennsylvania creature is reputed to be so hideous in appearance it spends its entire life sobbing and will vanish in a pool of tears if captured.
The Hopkinsville Goblins Extraterrestrial visitors who descended on the Sutton family farm in August of 1955, terrorizing the Suttons and their guest. No evidence of a hoax was ever discovered, causing many to believe the events an authentic UFO encounter.
Men in Black Mysterious men in black suits descended on the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966-67 with the sole intention of warning UFO witnesses not to talk about their encounters.
Scotland’s Dog Suicide Bridge Since the 1960s more than fifty dogs have leapt to their death from the Overtoun Bridge in Scotland. Even stranger, all the dogs jumped from the exact same spot, and each apparent “suicide” has occurred on pleasant, sunny days.
Ley Lines It’s believed many of the old places of the Earth resonate with power—hillforts, crossroads, standing stones and old funerary paths among them. When these and other “ley markers” align in a geographical pattern, they create a hypothetical link capable of releasing powerful energy.
The Snallygaster Maryland’s half-bird/half reptile creature was given enough credence in 1909 that Teddy Roosevelt almost canceled an African Safari to hunt it.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share The Mothman’s story.
A DESOLATE HOUR
by Mae Clair
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Pub Date: 7/18/2017
This is the third book in the series, and the finale, so I will do my best to not include spoilers. Just make you want to run right out and buy this mystery series. If you are a creature feature lover, like me, this will be a must read collection you want on your reading shelf.
It’s nice to be back in Point Pleasant, with familiar friends and monsters, waiting for the next adventure to begin.
Book II left me feeling so sad for Mothman and I worry about what will become of him. He has lived for A Thousand Yesteryears, the only one of his kind.
The Ouija Board had foretold QM would become a part of Sarah’s life. WTH is QM?
The curse brought HIM to Point Pleasant.
Caden is a cop in Point Pleasant and knows the Mothman, and others, that I won’t speak about. You’ll have to meet them all yourself…and you might want to have someone with you when you do.
Lach is back and there is always trouble when he makes an appearance.
Stone amulets…a deadly blade…a curse
Shawn and Preech will play their part as the curse rises from the past, demanding retribution. You can never escape the past…innocent or guilty, it just doesn’t matter.
A Desolate Hour, great title by the way, has an aura of menace from the beginning.
“A Desolate Hour when a tear in time renders past and present in one.” How can that be anything but bad news?
When Mothman vanishes for long periods of time and everything is normal in Point Pleasant, I wonder where he goes, what he’s doing. He didn’t ask for his fate. Alone. Isolated. Angry. Suffering.
As the people and forces in Point Pleasant draw together, it is ‘the culmination of A Desolate Hour’, and the door closes on the Mothman’s story. Mae Clair did a bang up job with the ending, leaving me satisfied, but…
I am so sad to be leaving Point Pleasant and the marvelous characters and adventure I have had, but I do not despair. I know Mae Clair has another marvelous story up her sleeve and I aim to get my hands on it.
If you are a creature feature lover, if you crave reading about myths and legends, if you like to be scared and surprised, run and soar through the air, this is one series you don’t want to miss.
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair.
Sins of the past could destroy all of their futures . . .
For generations, Quentin Marsh’s family has seen its share of tragedy, though he
remains skeptical that their misfortunes are tied to a centuries-old
curse. But to placate his pregnant sister, Quentin makes the
pilgrimage to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, hoping to learn more
about the brutal murder of a Shawnee chief in the 1700s. Did one of
the Marsh ancestors have a hand in killing the chief —the man who
cursed the town with his dying breath?
While historian Sarah Sherman doesn’t believe in curses either, she’s compelled
to use her knowledge of Point Pleasant to uncover the long-buried
truth. The river town has had its own share of catastrophes, many
tied to the legendary Mothman, the winged creature said to haunt the
woods. But Quentin’s arrival soon reveals that she may have more of
a stake than she realized. It seems that she and Quentin possess
eerily similar family heirlooms. And the deeper the two of them dig
into the past, the more their search enrages the ancient mystical
forces surrounding Point Pleasant. As chaos and destruction start to
befall residents, can they beat the clock to break the curse before
the Mothman takes his ultimate revenge? . . .
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked
back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her
to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on
summer nights beneath the stars.
Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to
mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with
conflict, romance and elements of mystery. Married to her high school
sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about
writing, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.
Welcome to my stop for Age of Order by Julian North.
It’s nice to have you here, Julian. I am a big fan of covers and they have a big influence over me. I am always curious to find out what authors think about them and how much they have to say about the final product.
Covers by Julian North
Until I wrote my first novel, Age of Order, I never gave much thought to book covers. Of course I noticed them. I’m an avid reader, so I look at hundreds of the things a year. As a kid, before there was such a thing as the internet, I used to stare at the covers of my favorite books, imagining the scene playing out before me. But I never thought about covers the way I do now.
When I made the decision to “go indie” with Age of Order, I learned about the business of covers. There are “experts” out there (some very successful, some less so) who will sell you training videos about what a cover needs to do and don’t do: tell a reader what the book is about, catch their eyes, look the right way on an Amazon thumbnail, don’t create a scene from the book, conjure emotion. I got dizzy from it all. For Age of Order, I just wanted something that I would want to pick up.
For all that declared simplicity, I confess that I used two different artists on my Age of Order cover. The first produced several mock-ups, from which I picked the best and refined it. That first cover was fine work. But I never loved it. It was eye catching, but too generic. It didn’t capture the essence of what I wanted. After a couple of weeks of it itching me, I broke down and got another cover made from a different artist (luckily writing is a hobby, and I’m not trying to earn a profit, because covers aren’t cheap). He presented two choices, one was the current cover. No further revisions necessary, I took it as it.
I love it because it conveys the two worlds of Age of Order, a place of “haves” and “have nots.” I love the feel of the contrasting cities. I love the presentation of title. I’m told by the experts the bright colors are good for Amazon thumbnails. But most of all I hope that one day my son will stare at it, imagining a different world playing out before his eyes.
What if the people who thought they were better than you… really were?
In this world, inequality is a science. Giant machines maintain order. And all people are not created equal.
Daniela Machado is offered a chance to escape the deprivation of Bronx City through a coveted slot at the elite Tuck School. There, among the highborn of Manhattan, she discovers an unimaginable world of splendor and greed. But her opportunity is part of a darker plan, and Daniela soon learns that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.
Age of Order is a novel that explores the meaning of merit and inequality. Fans of the Hunger Games, Red Rising, and Divergent will enjoy this world of deception and intrigue, where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.
I dashed towards the dilapidated collection of storefronts hugging the fringes of the worn avenue, the rusted metal gates firmly closed, lean-to homes piled on their concrete roofs. Makeshift cardboard dwellings crowded the sidewalk. I ran for one of the lightless alleys between the buildings. Lurkers lived in those narrow corridors as surely as rats lived in the sewer, but I’d rather face them than the machines. I leaped towards the darkness.
A finder beam latched onto me as I sailed through the air, the comparative safety of the alley as tantalizingly close as candy in a shop window. I imagined the tight little dot on my leg, hot and hungry. I could almost touch the alley wall. But not quite. The hulking metal slave fired.
A correction pellet sliced through the fabricated leather of my sneaker and bit into my flesh. The force of the impact was enough to screw up my balance too. I landed on one foot instead of two, falling forward. Chewed-up concrete surged towards me. I sacrificed my right palm and left elbow to protect my head, and the viser strapped to my left forearm.
I scrambled to my feet and ran down the alley, my jaws clenched, but the pain wasn’t what was bothering me. I told myself that my shoe had blocked a lot of the pellet. That I probably hadn’t gotten hit with a full dose. That what was coming wouldn’t be that bad.
AUTHOR Bio and Links
I’ve been writing since I could grab a pencil (remember those?). Then I had kids. Not much time for writing anymore. Until they started school… in New York City. I’m not from here, and the tumult of that experience inspired me. AGE OF ORDER grew from a diary of injustice. Now I write what I’m feeling, and let the rest flow from there. I hope you enjoy it.
Please visit my website at www.juliannorth.com and join my book club to receive a free short story set in the same world as AGE OF ORDER.
A Human Element is about man’s inhumanity to man, man’s callous disregard of other’s lives, but also, the lengths some people will go to do the right thing.
When her parents are killed and she is left alone, she is committed to finding the killer.
I felt such tension, suspense, fear and dread for the characters, that I was talking to them. Shouting at them. Telling them to watch out. He’s coming.
I LOVE this book. The further into A Human Element I read, the more engrossed I become. My heart beats faster as my eyes race across the words…faster and faster. I just have to know what is going to happen. I read on and it gets creepier and creepier.
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next.
Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together.
But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.
I loved A Human Element by Donna Galanti, so to continue the story in A Hidden Element was a no brainer. This is Book II of the trilogy, which contains a mish mash of genres: science fiction, mystery, thrills and romance.
A Hidden Element does fill in some of the story from A Human Element, but for the full effect I recommend starting with Book I.
I knew bad stuff was coming and I was afraid for Charlie. He is an innocent, but will he be swayed to the dark side?
Some of the aliens want to just live among us, fit in with us, side by side.
Others want so much more.
Aliens or human, it seems like we all have the same wants and desires, motivations and ego, dark and light, good and bad.
Charlie: Tomorrow. He would tell her everything tomorrow.
Adrian: He couldn’t wait to see what tomorrow delivered.
Ben: Tomorrow. He would fix this tomorrow.
Donna Galanti can sure spin an amazing tale that will keep you reading. The characters captivated me as I journeyed along with them, trying their best to make the right choices. I struggled to figure out who was good and who was bad, who would be the betrayer and who would survive. There are plenty of surprises and suspense and food for thought.
What would we do if we found out aliens walked among us? I have a feeling it wouldn’t be good. Would it be like First Encounter or War of the Worlds? Would you be curious or afraid? Would you want them living next door to you?
I’m just saying….
ABOUT A HIDDEN ELEMENT: Evil lurks within…
When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?
Writing Your Last Line by Donna Galanti
What makes you decide to buy a book? Do you open it open up to the first page and decide on the first paragraph, or even first line? I have one friend who studies first lines. She roams a library or bookstore and randomly selects books to read their first lines then dissects them based on how drawn in she is. Did it grab her attention? Did it raise a question? Did it introduce the main character? And most importantly, does she want to keep reading?
Those first lines. They either grab you or they don’t. As writers, we only have a few seconds to impress readers enough so they will buy our book.
But what about those last lines? Those lines that complete a scene, chapter, or THE END itself that propel you to turn the page and read on, or that keep the story alive in your mind long after you’ve finished it.
One early reader of A Hidden Element was intrigued by the last lines of my chapters. She actually typed them up and sent them to me because she was so thrilled with how each one ended like a cliffhanger and kept her reading.
Here’s a sampling:
Killing was useful in so many ways.
The dark took her anyway.
She would do anything to save her family.
And that scared him more than anything.
She welcomed Death, but he did not come for her.
The nothing took him.
She screamed and ran into a darker hell.
The last words he heard whispered were, “forever dead”.
And it was not of this Earth.
He drifted away in it.
He could live with that, if only he could be a father to his sons.
The old fear hit him again in the gut.
The words shattered through him like hammer to glass – not from Earth.
He was empty inside, as he had always been.
The first stone flew.
The scars of Rachel and his sons seared his heart forever.
He was just a kid suddenly terrified of his own dad – and his own destiny.
He looked up at the open door that welcomed him.
After fifteen years the nightmare had begun – again.
They marched on toward a hidden enemy who watched – and waited.
Would you turn the page to read the next chapter – and the next? When you read these chapter lines together do they tell a story to you?
And what about our last lines in life? They are the final cliffhanger we leave the world with, leaving those we leave behind to wonder about.
Here are some cliffhanger last lines from famous folks. Would you want to keep reading about their life? Would their life story resonate with you?
Let us cross over the river and sit in the shade of the trees. – General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson
I die hard but am not afraid to go. – George Washington, US President
Get my swan costume ready. – Anna Pavlova, ballerina
Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough. – Karl Marx, revolutionary
Why do you weep. Did you think I was immortal? – Louis XIV, King of France
I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark. – Thomas Hobbes, writer
It is very beautiful over there. – Thomas Edison, inventor
All my possessions for a moment of time. – Elizabeth I, Queen of England
What will be your last line?
PRAISE FOR A HIDDEN ELEMENT:
“Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall
“Fascinating…a haunting story…”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath
“Will keep you up long past your bedtime…a pulse-pounding read.”—Allan Leverone, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Final Vector
PRAISE FOR THE ELEMENT TRILOGY:
“Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Code Zero
“Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall
“Fascinating…a haunting story…”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath
Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse that has lots of nooks and crannies, but sadly no ghosts. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com.
Win $15 Amazon Gift Card, e-book of The Dark Inside, Element Trilogy story collection, and become a character in the final Element Trilogy book!
Chelsee Taylor has been in love with her boyfriend, Max, since they started kindergarten together. She has no idea that high school graduation will be the last perfect day of her life. After a tragic car accident, she refuses to accept Max’s death because she can still feel his presence. No one believes her and she is completely alone. But all of that changes the moment she meets Blake Andersen. It’s not just that he believes her . . . or even just that he’s so understanding . . . but why is Max’s presence so strong when she’s with Blake?
Eternal Mercury is two intertwined books in one. Book one follows Chelsee’s bittersweet journey and book two uncovers Blake’s story of redemption. In the end, it is Max who will inspire them both to trust fate, live life, and finish well.
Praise for Eternal Mercury
“Overall, this novel made me really think about how life can change so completely in the blink of an eye. It was an amazing, life altering story.”
“I loved this book. It made me laugh and cry but most of all it made me feel like there is always hope in this world.”
“I could not put this down. What an amazing story of love, tragedy, strength, triumph, and family.”
Guest Post: Eternal Mercury, Organ Donation, and Cellular Memory
When I first realized that I wanted to write a book, I knew that I wanted it to be different. Shortly after I began brainstorming for that unique idea, a car-crash scene on a mountain highway started playing in my head. Not only was I looking for a unique story idea, but I was also looking for a positive message. I began to wonder if, instead of something scary like a ghost, could something good be left after someone died? The answer became clear to me: organ donation. What could be more beautiful than that? And what could be more romantic than true love that could survive the boundaries of death? To my surprise, the idea turned out to be more realistic than I expected. Through research I discovered the phenomenon of cellular memory. Cellular memory is when people who receive transplants take on traits of people whose organs they receive. It’s rare, but when it does happen, it can come in the form of food cravings, changes in musical taste or hobbies, and sometimes even glimpses at other things about the donor.
Although the level of cellular memory I portrayed in Eternal Mercury is fictional, the need for organs definitely isn’t. It’s hard to think about death, and the common misconceptions about organ donation don’t help. But by understanding the facts and then making your decision known, you just might be able to bring something good out of the bad. That part of Eternal Mercury isn’t based on fiction.
Here are the facts:
Over 100,000 people, including kids, are in need of transplants. Over 20 of them die waiting each day.
One person can save up to seven lives by donating their heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and small intestine. That same person can improve the lives of many others through the donation of tissues such corneas, skin, veins, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
You won’t receive less medical care if you decide to become a donor. Doctors and nurses make every possible effort to save their patients’ lives and will not even consider organ donation unless a person dies.
Income, social status, and race are not factors in deciding who receives organ transplants. You’ll be helping people who need it the most and your family will not be charged for the procedure.
Most major religions support organ donation. I’m not sure that there could be a more loving or selfless gift, but don’t be afraid to check with your spiritual advisor.
Almost anyone can be an organ donor. Age and/or medical history don’t necessarily disqualify you.
The most important thing you can do is let your family know whether or not you want to be an organ donor. No matter what you decide, telling your family will save them from the pain of trying to guess your wishes at a time when that’s the last thing they need. And if the choice is right for you, to let someone else continue on when you’ve reached the end down here, don’t think about what it means for you; instead think of the incredible gratitude you’d feel if someone did it for you or someone you love.
Author Elaine Pinter
Elaine Pinter lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and son. When she’s not hanging out with them, she’s jotting down ideas for her next novel in the tattered notebook she carries everywhere.
Her writing journey began in June of 2012 when a reading spree set off an unexpected chain of events. After poring over the pages, her own ideas began to appear and she found herself glued to her laptop after her family went to bed every evening. The late nights continued until her first two YA romance novels, Eternal Mercury and Between the Starlight, were published.
She’s one of those hopeless romantics who believes love always wins and that the best stories are the ones that drag you through the tears and reward you with a smile when all the pieces fit together perfectly in the end.
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