NUMBER ONE ANGEL by Allison M. Dickson

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


Sekhmet Press is honored to have Allison M. Dickson as a special guest in this, our third anthology in the WRAPPED Horror Anthology series. Her short story NUMBER ONE ANGEL can also be found in one of her original collections, AT THE END OF THINGS.  Allison is currently represented by Stephanie Kip Rostan at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

Number One Angel
Allison M. Dickson

Mama carried her plate of cake to the living room and plopped down in her ratty old recliner, its broken frame crunching under her weight. Louise always thought one day the woman would fall right through and end up with a piece of splintered wood stuck right up her old fat ass, but none of that mattered now. This was the last time Mama was ever going to sit down anywhere, if everything went like Phelan said it would. And it ought to. Louise had done just like he showed her.
“Now you listen up, Little Louise,” Mama said. “Any man who says he’ll lasso the moon for you is a no-good liar.” She crammed a huge bite of cake into her well-oiled gob, and Louise watched her swallow it nearly whole, like a snake eating a mouse. “Truth is, you ain’t never gonna get a man that’s worth a damn, cause you ain’t no better’n me. And you seen what kinda men I ended up with. Only thing Danny could lasso, God rest his soul, was six-packs of Natty Light and a hundred-fifty a week in unemployment.”
Louise didn’t utter more than a few agreeable grunts here and there. It didn’t matter what she said. Mama never listened. She just liked to do the talking part, and Louise thanked the heavens it wouldn’t have to go on much longer. The woman was vicious most times and downright boring the others, rattling on about how she knew better than anybody about everything, or about her dumb soap operas or some end of the world crap she’d watched on the Discovery Channel. Louise hated those shows. Hated most television, really. The people on it were mean or always trying to scare folks. She only watched it because she wasn’t much good at reading. These days, though, she preferred to spend time with Phelan. He was better than the best TV shows all rolled into one.
Mama took another bite of the birthday cake Louise had cooked up special. Carrot, Mama’s favorite, with a thick spackle-like coating of cream cheese frosting. It was way too much cake for two, but Mama didn’t have any other friends to share it with, and probably would’ve hogged it all up for herself even if she did. The mean old bitch loved her some cake, and probably thought she’d have this one all through the week with every meal. Too bad for her, though, she wouldn’t survive the next few bites.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


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amd outsideAllison M. Dickson writes dark contemporary fiction, covering both speculative and realistic realms. Her debut psychological horror novel, STRINGS, released to rave reviews in 2013 and has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists several times. She is also the author of an abundance of short stories as well as the 1940s sci-fi noir Colt Coltrane series. Readers can look forward to her upcoming dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, later in 2014. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH with her husband and two rapidly growing children, or crawling some dungeon in search of good loot. For more information on how to reach Allison or to read her blog, visit allisonmdicksonbooks.com.

COMES THE RAIN by Gregory L. Norris

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excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVER


COMES THE RAIN
by Gregory L. Norris

As Grammy Rae slipped closer toward the shroud, the sky over Foster’s Pond grew dark and more threatening, filling with clouds the color of old bruises, jaundiced yellow-green edged in purple. No rain fell and the air thickened with the bitterness of ozone, becoming almost too heavy to breathe.
Jamison recognized that smell. Four years earlier, Grammy Rae and Momma had taken him to an amusement park for his seventh birthday and its acridity had rained down over the bumper cars, stronger than that of the grease, intensifying with every pop and flash of electricity in the network of metal honeycombs over their heads, those tiny balls of lightning that powered the cars into motion. In the past few days, lightning had crackled and thunder had boomed, but no raindrops fell.
“Don’t go outside,” Momma said, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I have to water the pumpkins,” Jamison argued, his not much louder. “They’re gonna dry up and die on their vines.”
Momma’s eyes darted to the window. Jamison followed her gaze and saw a veil of mist sweep past, framed by the threadbare checked curtains. “No, stay inside.”
“But Momma…”
It wasn’t so much the pumpkins, which he had planted and labored over all summer, any more than the drooping tomatoes with their wooden stalks and plump, red fruit, or the carrots he harvested by the handfuls, loving it when they resisted being tugged out of the ground. It was the silence, the stagnancy inside the house. That, and Grammy Rae’s outbursts as the fever consumed her.
Whatever admonishment she readied to make died, cancelled out by another plaintive cry from the top of the staircase. The voice was Grammy’s, sweet to the ears as it normally was, but beneath the near-musical tones lurked another, sharper cord. At its utterance, sparrows darted out of cover from the cool green folds of the two stately willow trees that bookended the farmhouse and, for an instant, the sun broke through the sallow mists, forming prisms through the back windows that faced out across the pond. A ribbon of fresh air stirred through the house; the breeze, Jamison noted, smelled of roses and almonds, like Grammy Rae’s hand lotion.
Kitten raced out of the back room and into the kitchen, panic written across her tiny face and obvious in her wide eyes. She dropped the rag doll Grammy Rae had made her the previous Christmas in her haste to reach the safety of Momma’s arms.
“It’s okay,” Momma soothed.
But Jamison knew it wasn’t. He patted Kitten’s back and dropped the subject. For now.
“I need you to talk to me,” Momma urged.
Kitten shook her head. She possessed quite the vocabulary, far bigger words and meanings than many of the older kids in Jamison’s class. But she had stopped speaking the moment Grammy Rae fell ill. That had been a week ago, and the storm clouds had soon followed.
“Take your sister,” Momma whispered. She handed Kitten down.
Jamison recovered the rag doll and Kitten, who could recite entire poems and whole pages of stories from memory when she wanted to, clutched at it, her eyes sealed as tightly as her lips. The unexpected whistle of the kettle on the stove made Jamison jump.
Momma prepared another cup of tea for Grammy Rae. Mint, he could tell by the sweet fragrance as she passed by, balancing a tray between her shaking hands. The miserable silence that had blanketed the house resumed, its ominous weight not stopping flocks of invisible butterflies from fluttering their wings beside both of Jamison’s ears.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


gregory norris1Gregory L. Norris is a full-time professional writer, with numerous publication credits, mostly in national magazines and fiction anthologies. A former writer at Sci Fi, the official magazine of the Sci Fi Channel (before all those ridiculous Ys invaded), he once worked as a screenwriter on two episodes of Paramount’s modern classic, Star Trek: Voyager and is the author of the handbook to all-things-Sunnydale, The Q Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Alyson Books, 2008).

Find Gregory HERE.

SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

horror, short stories, Wrapped Anthologies, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Black

excerpt from

WRAPPED IN BLACK

Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlackCOVER


SHE MAKES MY SKIN CRAWL
by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
Jamie checked his watch against the computer clock, then, with a sick stomach lurch, desperately glanced up at the clock on the wall. “No. No, no.” Shit. He wasn’t going to make it home on time. Jamie grabbed his files and briefcase, then dashed for the elevator, tapping his foot as the numbers slowly lit, begging it to move faster. When the doors finally slid open, he entered and breathed a sigh of relief to find it empty. No one was going to slow him down with small talk or ask how he’d been, how things were at home…
“Wait!” a woman’s voice called from nearby. “Please! Hold the elevator.”
Jamie stuck out his hand to block the automatic doors.
Hannah, a sweet new hire from Accounting, slid into the elevator and flashed him a smile.
Cold sweat prickled over his neck. Jamie could smell her, he realized. She was wearing some flowery perfume that sent him into a panic. His hand shot out to block the doors again. “You know, I think I’ll take the stairs instead. It’s better for me, anyway,” he muttered as he rushed out of the elevator. Jamie was out of earshot before she had a chance to reply, hustling his way down the echoing concrete stairwell.
On the drive home, he sped whenever he could, trying to earn back the minutes, but at that hour, everyone else had the same plan, and he found himself snarled in a traffic jam that sucked away the time. Jamie kept flashing hateful, frightened looks at the dashboard clock, swearing at it for doing its job so goddamn precisely. Sweat broke out across his skin, even though the AC was on full blast, and no matter what radio station he switched to, nothing could take his mind off the clamoring refrain pounding in his head.
I’m gonna be late.
Elena’s gonna be furious. She’s gonna punish me.
But it’s not my fault! I can just tell her-
She’s not gonna listen. She’s gonna make me crawl.
The car behind him honked, and Jamie rolled forward a few feet, before the fear-song began again:
I’m gonna be late.

Read the entire story in

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014


braddShenoa Carroll-Bradd lives in Southern California and loves writing horror and fantasy stories.
Short stories were her first love, but she’s currently working on several novels, screenplays, and a graphic novel series.

Her writing idols are Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, and George R. R. Martin. 

You can find Shenoa on Facebook here.

NEWS: Wrapped In Black

Allison M. Dickson, anthology, horror, James Glass, NEWS, Patrick C. Greene, Sekhmet Press LLC, short stories, Solomon Archer PhD, Suzi M, Wrapped Anthologies, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Black

We are very proud to announce the contributors for

WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult

WrappedinBlack NEW COVERIt wasn’t easy to narrow down the fantastic submissions we received, but we think we’ve picked 13 amazing stories from 13 talented authors and we hope you will agree. 

Stay tuned for more links, interviews, excerpts, release date, cover reveal and more!

CLICK the NAMES to visit their Facebook Author pages.

Patrick C. Greene

Rose Blackthorn

James Glass

Aaron Gudmunson

Michael G. Williams

Eric Nash

Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

Mike Lester

Gregory L. Norris

Gordon White

Nick Kimbro

Solomon Archer

and Special Guest

Allison M. Dickson

Wrapped In White: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Allison M. Dickson, Bryan W. Alaspa, James Glass, Michael G. Williams, New Release, NEWS, Patrick C. Greene, Sekhmet Press LLC, short stories, Solomon Archer PhD, Suzi M, Wrapped Anthologies, Wrapped In White

CLICK to BUY on Amazon

NOW AVAILABLE!!

Amazon PAPERBACK
Amazon KINDLE

UK Amazon

CreateSpace PAPERBACK 

from the creators of  WRAPPED IN RED

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

(meet the authors here)

Tragedy begets terror, then circles back on itself, and a cycle is born that ripples through the worlds of the living and dead eternally, until satisfied by love, tears–or blood…

The creators of Wrapped In Red have struck again, unfurling thirteen gossamer shrouds of woe and weirdness, laying bare the faces of fear that watch and wait in the shadows of cemeteries, the corners of ancient structures, the thoughts we wish we didn’t think . Some will crawl under your skin, some will batter you senseless with limitless otherworldly power, others will walk a line as thin as the veil between us and them.

Leave the lights on for this collection–but know that no precaution will keep its tales from haunting you even into the noonday sun…

CLICK to view on GOODREADS

CLICK to view on GOODREADS

Coming Soon! WRAPPED IN WHITE: Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Allison M. Dickson, Bryan W. Alaspa, Ghosts, horror, James Glass, Michael G. Williams, NEWS, Patrick C. Greene, Sekhmet Press LLC, Solomon Archer PhD, Suzi M, Wrapped In White
CLICK to JOIN the Release Party on Facebook!

CLICK to JOIN the Release Party on Facebook!

COMING MARCH 25, 2014

from the creators of  WRAPPED IN RED

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

CLICK to view the book on Goodreads

CLICK to view the book on Goodreads

Books, Babes, and the Business: Suzi M

Celebrating Women in Fiction, Metatron, Suzi M, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red, Wrapped In White

blog header cwifSuzi M

Please tell us a little bit about yourself…

Primarily a writer, though I also am an artist among other things.

Do you focus on a specific genre with your work?

While I got my start in horror I’ve since branched out into mystery/dark comedy and post-apocalyptic fiction. I don’t really limit myself as far as genre goes, it’s whatever happens upon the page.

Do you/Would you ever write under a male pseudonym? Why or why not?

I have and I do, so yes. I do it because as sad as it is in this day and age, people seem to be more receptive to a book written by a man versus a book with a woman’s name in the author space.

Name a few of your favorite books/authors you’ve read recently:

Jaime Johnesee’s Bob the Zombie series is wonderfully entertaining. I’ve also been reading Allison M. Dickson and Chantal Noordeloos.

Who has been the most influential female in your personal life and how have they shaped your work?

Easy answer: my mother. She started my love of horror, she encouraged me to keep writing when I had given up, and she believed in me always. When I began writing under pseudonyms she never even batted an eye, and she was and always will be my number one fan. While writing she was my sounding board and critic.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice relating to the business what would it be?

Relax and keep writing. Don’t give up and never settle.

Do you have a current project or upcoming project you would like to tell us about?

The Dispossessed High Rez Cover-001The release of The Dispossessed is nigh, and is the second book in the Metatron Mysteries. I’m also working on the third installment, writing the series under the name James Glass.

Where can we find you?

Suzi M on Facebook: 

Suzi M on Amazon: 

James Glass on Facebook: 

James Glass on Amazon: 

suzi m titled***

The All-Time Greatest Horror Writers – Billie Sue Mosiman

Celebrating Women in Fiction, horror, Lovecraft, NEWS, Poe, Reviews, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

top 50 horror

Congratulations to the lovely and talented

Billie Sue Mosiman!!

 TOP 50 All-Time Greatest Horror Writers!

billie sue mosiman11

Sekhmet Press LLC had the great honor

of publishing Ms. Mosiman in the 2013 Wrapped In Red vampire anthology.

CLICK to buy on AMAZON

CLICK to buy on AMAZON

She is also the author of over 60 books since 1984 and two of them received an Edgar Award Nomination for best novel and a Bram Stoker Award Nomination for most superior novel. Please do yourself a favor and check out her work!

RANKER All-Time Greatest Horror Writers -Read the entire list HERE

Author Spotlight (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) – Patrick C. Greene

Patrick C. Greene, Sekhmet Press LLC, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

MASTER eBook CoverPatrick C. Greene is the author of the short story NIGHTBOUND in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

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He is also the author of PROGENY, a contributor to the anthologies ENDLANDS 1 & 2, and writer of multiple short stories including TRICK, SILVER SURROGATE, FINDERS KEEPERS, and the collection DARK DESTINIES. And for his birthday Hobbes End Publishing is giving away FREE Kindle editions of PROGENY. Click the image to get your copy!birthday pcg progeny

Excerpt From WRAPPED IN RED

NIGHTBOUND

Freedom should be better than this, Blake Zagarino thought, dabbing sweat from his neck with a bandana, as yet another bout of shrill laughter assaulted his ears from the backseat of the lot-fresh, stolen Buick. But Zagarino played it cool. DeWitt, the laughing man, raised a snub-nosed .38, childishly making shooting sounds while he mimicked the gun’s recoil. Like the .38, he was small, oily and deadly. “Blamblamblam!” DeWitt bellowed, “No! Don’t kill me!” he said in a mocking falsetto, then came a fit of giggly laughter, and finally: “Please! I got a daughter!” More laughter. “Blamblam! Daddy’s gonna be REAL late tonight, sweetheart! HeeheeheeHEEEE!” Continuing to drive the winding road between hilltop homes, Zagarino did nothing to betray the disgust he felt with his partner, confident DeWitt would grow distracted soon, as he usually did. Bonner, the boss of their criminal triumvirate, was considerably less patient. “Put that down, you idiot!” he snarled. “If you get us caught, I swear I’ll beat you dead, boy!” Bonner’s grayish brush cut glistened with sweat, which then rolled down into his stubble. Zagarino hoped he wouldn’t turn his head around too swiftly and thus sling some of the grimy sweat onto him. “Okay okay, sorry” DeWitt began, “I can’t help it! Man was that fun! I never knocked over no armored car before! And wasted the guards to boot! WHOOO!” “Shaddup,” Bonner ordered, and DeWitt looked out the window, issuing a low titter to himself. “If your girl’s info was right, we’ve got at least ten minutes before the guards are supposed to check in. We should be dug in by…” Zagarino checked his watch and calculated. “…11:30.” “Don’t you worry about MaryAnn. She wouldn’t tell me wrong. She knows better. You just better be right about this hideout,” Bonner grumbled. “Couple that owns it live in Eastern Europe,” Zagarino reiterated again, “They only come here on vacation. And who’d wanna vacation in this Godforsaken heat?” “Get used to it, Zag. Two weeks, we’ll be in Mexico.” “Now you’re talkin’ my language!” DeWitt enjoined. “Here I c-c-c-come, senoritas!” “Gotta eighty-six this car,” said Bonner. “Hope you boys are up for a hike.” Zagarino drove into one of the many small forests surrounding and separating the clusters of secluded and exclusive neighborhoods in the rural outskirts of Chicago. He drove behind a thick pine and they quickly concealed the Buick under branches and lightweight fallen pine logs, until it looked something like a teepee fort made by local kids or hobos. The forest ended at a weedy hill some sixty yards high and steep enough to be daunting to outsiders; one of the selling points pushed by its developers and realtors. There was no wind to cool the cons, who had grown used to the cool comfort of medium security. Trudging up the uneven, scrubby hill carrying four heavily-loaded canvas sacks, Zagarino wished he had exercised more in prison. But he had never cared for the company of the aggressive, steroid-addicted meatheads who hovered around the weight benches and the penitentiary’s depressing excuse for a running track. DeWitt shared his regret. “Hey, slow down!” he huffed. He had stopped entirely-and this would not be acceptable to Bonner. Though stocky and physically very tough, Bonner was in his early fifties and heading toward “pudgy” himself, but he wasn’t about to abide DeWitt’s complaints. “DeWitt, get your ass up and move it! Now!” “Wait a minute, boss. …I need a break. Heat’s killing me…all this cash must weigh a hundred tons.” “Get up, or so help me, dipshit, your corpse will fry in this heat,” Bonner warned. “Okay, okay. How much further, Zag?” DeWitt asked, as much to buy another second of rest as to know. “The house is just a few yards from the top of the hill,” Zagarino answered evenly, and started moving. From the top of the hill, there was still a good ten yards to the large, oddly plain house. The nearest neighboring homes were a good distance away and arranged so that rows of trees fairly concealed them from one another; the very wealthy apparently needed comfortable degrees of separation even from one another. But the three desperate men nonetheless hunkered low, using the high weeds of the unkempt backyard to hide behind as they dragged the moneybags around to a front door sheltered under a pair of leafy poplars. Drawing a small black case from his pocket, Zagarino kneeled and went to work on the lock with measured finesse, feeling the antsy tension coming off his partners in stinking waves. “Come on, man!” DeWitt stage whispered. “Shut it,” Bonner ordered quietly, knowing that the kind of work Zagarino did was best not rushed. After a moment, Zagarino removed his tools from the lock and rolled them up in their pouch, then stood, opened the door and took a step inside, into pure darkness. DeWitt tried to go in next, but Bonner muscled him aside, raising the sturdy flashlight he had taken off one of the dead guards. He traced its beam over the sheeted furnishings, capturing huge dust motes that seemed to swim toward them curiously. For a long moment, they silently took measure of the enormous front room, the dusty stairway that dominated the center, the many doors on either side leading to reading rooms and the like. Swinging double doors at the rear gave way to a kitchen, beside which was a plain and heavy black door that could only lead to a basement. “Made in the shade, man!” DeWitt said aloud. Bonner turned to him sharply. A mouse scurried somewhere close to the walls, drawing startled grunts from DeWitt and him. “It’s all right,” Zagarino reassured them, “Just vermin. No one’s been here in months.” Bonner dropped the money bags on the floor, and the other two followed suit. The muffled thump echoed back at them from the mahogany walls. “These curtains are thick as a woolly mastodon’s hide,” noted DeWitt. “I don’t even care what that is,” Bonner grumbled. “Open ‘em, but just a little bit, so we can see to move around in here,”. Bonner wiped sweat from his brow as he regarded the dark forms of his partners. “MaryAnn’ll be here after five.” Zagarino cleared his throat, sparking a zippo to light a three-pronged silver candelabra. “About that…” “…What?” Bonner asked sharply. “You sure we can trust her? I mean, she is selling out the company she works for. Who’s to say she wouldn’t do the same to us?” Bonner laughed. “That bitch wants money, Zagarino. Just like all of ’em. When I was in the joint, and she was sending me those letters, I knew right away that what she really wanted was a man that could give her a great big, thick…wad of dough. And that’s all.” Bonner’s face took on a discomforting, slimy grin, as he grasped his crotch. “Fine by me, ’cause she’s damn sure gonna give me my money’s worth before it’s all over. And if for one minute, I start thinkin’ she’s lookin’ to screw me in anything less than the literal sense… BAM!…just like I’d do to either one a you. Got it?” Bonner’s face looked as crazy as it was cruel in the crossfire of candlelight and muted sunshine. READ MORE.

____________________________________________________

Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick C. Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes. Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing. Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard.

Patrick’s INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name:Patrick C Greene Age: Trying not to. Where are you from? The hills of Western North Carolina. A little about yourself… My father was an acclaimed writer of a very literary style of fiction, so I decided to write about monsters and gore. After high school, I immersed myself in martial arts, filmmaking and occasional writing classes. Grew up on the streets. …Well, actually a house near a street. More of a dirt road actually. Married to a very demanding editor/publisher (Sekhmet Press). Two genius sons, one a grown entrepreneur, the other an eleven year old philosopher. Fiona: Tell us your latest news? There’s lots! My debut novel PROGENY published by Hobbes End Publishing is celebrating its one year anniversary this week. PROGENY has received great reviews so far and has maintained a solid ranking on Amazon the entire year, so I’m very grateful for that. My short story NIGHTBOUND will appear in the vampire anthology Wrapped In Red published by Sekhmet Press, which releases next week on October 29. I’m honored to be included among some very talented authors in that anthology. Twisted Fates, a multi-story horror film will be shooting under the auspices of SaintSinner Entertainment and director Amel Fugueroa in the coming months. A comedy script and a web series are also in the works. And finally – I’m polishing my latest novel THE CRIMSON CALLING, Book One of The Sanguinarian Council – an action-packed vampire trilogy. Fiona: When and why did you begin writing? I started when I was around twelve, but I put it away mostly, beyond the odd poem or song, till a few years ago. I was toiling in small roles as an actor and, taking inspiration from Sylvester Stallone, decided to try and write a script and sell it with myself as the lead. That didn’t happen–but the writing continued. Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer? It’s difficult to pinpoint. After that first screenplay, I wrote another, and then another, still thinking I was working toward bolstering my acting career. Then it just became habit. I guess I have to say in retrospect, that that first screenplay, a martial arts actioner titled The Tiger Within, was when I became a writer. Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book? I had a collection of short stories under my belt, that I had written just for fun, and I received a lot of encouragement from my wife, so I started submitting them around a bit. Got some good nibbles, but my biggest coup was having Hobbes End Publishing include two of my stories in their prestigious The Endlands collections. Vince Hobbes and Jairus Reddy, the Hobbes End honchos, encouraged me to submit a novel, so I took the screenplay for PROGENY, which had just come off option, and re-worked it into a novel. So to answer, I guess it was that simple suggestion from Vincent and Jairus that got me going on the first novel. Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? I always try to experiment, whether it be writing in different tenses or perspectives, doing that hardboiled detective thing like Mickey Spillane, or a minimalist, fast moving style that echoes my screenwriting experience.  I would say my style is best described as cinematic. Fiona: How did you come up with the title? For PROGENY, there’s a theme of parental and especially paternal relationships, so the title applies to the children of the story. For NIGHTBOUND, it’s a sort of double entendre, in that the mortal characters are seeking the night to hide their activities while the vampires are of course bound to the night by nature of their aversion to the sun. THE CRIMSON CALLING, my next novel, refers to the vampire’s need to feed on blood. Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? PROGENY expresses an appreciation for my role as a father, and hopefully speaks to that of the readers as well, or just why we shouldn’t take our loved ones for granted. The Crimson Calling’s theme would be that there is always hope, even in the darkest circumstances. Fiona: How much of the book is realistic? PROGENY is very realistic up to the point of how much you believe in the bigfoot legend. THE CRIMSON CALLING has a higher fantasy quotient. Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Screenwriter Keith Strandberg, whom I consider something of a mentor, wrote “Everything goes in the hopper” meaning the least little stand-out experience can become a part of your writing. I definitely draw upon people I know, but even so most of my characters are composites. As far as experiences, they come almost entirely from imagination. Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? Bruce Lee’s Tao Of Jeet Kune Do was a tremendous influence. It’s more than a martial arts manual; Lee’s Taoist philosophy is spelled out in some excellent and passages. King’s On Writing has been a great education. Every writer should have a copy! My favorite novel is probably Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game, due to its rich characterizations and layered story. Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Strandberg, as I mentioned above, in terms of screenwriting, but Vincent Hobbes is easily the most gracious and giving writer I’ve personally had the pleasure of knowing, in addition to being just an amazingly gifted and disciplined storyteller. After finishing up THE CRIMSON CALLING, I plan to spend some time on a few short story ideas I have percolating, and I’ve contributed a short story to an upcoming collection of stories set in the zombie universe of Armand Rosamilia’s DYING DAYS series. Not sure when that will see release, but given the roster of authors involved, I expect that to be a big deal. Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. I mentioned Vince and Jairus of course, so I’ll take this opportunity to acknowledge my friend Regina, who has been a wonderful beta reader and has contributed a lot toward managing my career. Fiona: Do you see writing as a career? Definitely. I can’t see myself not doing it. Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? My latest being THE CRIMSON CALLING, I still have a minute or two to do so if need be.  But with PROGENY, I truly feel it came together quite perfectly. Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My father was a writer, so I had some exposure and encouragement early on. As a child I was kind of a late bloomer and not athletic, so I didn’t really feel capable of doing much else until I discovered martial arts and later, acting. Writing was an easy enough alternative, given the ability of paper and pen, and my father as an early teacher, Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Heeeeere you go: an excerpt from THE CRIMSON CALLING “Shake your ass feathers, Girlie.” Liv allowed a full second, then spun to give Rex a dagger-eyed glare meant to precipitate either an apology or an ass-beating. The cook stared back, an indecipherable grin at the corner of his lips. Holding the hard look, Liv dropped the rag she had been using to clean the counter and stood up straight, giving Rex plenty of opportunity to choose the apology. “Well. So much for this job,” she began, but before she could storm out or leap the counter and shatter Rex’s teeth-she hadn’t decided which yet- Dolly appeared at her side. “Rex, you butthole, you know better than to start that shit with these girls their first day.” Rex’s expression suddenly became harmlessly buffoonish. “Huh? Surely she knows I’m just trying to break the ice.”  His crooked nose might have been a souvenir from some previous ill-advised comment. “Looked to me like Liv here was about to break something of yours,” Dolly said, “she don’t know what a big teddy bear you are just yet.” Rex’s apologetic smile managed to melt the tension, and Liv remembered she was a civilian now, among other civilians. Just because she could beat his ass didn’t mean she should. Joe had certainly taught her better than that. Of course, if Joe were here, she wouldn’t be shaking her ass feathers. “Ah hell, Liv. I guess that was outta line,” he said. Liv smiled at him. “Yeah. But we’re cool now.” Rex smiled back and returned to the grill. “That’s a nice smile, Liv,” said Dolly, “bet it could bring you some pretty good tips.” Dolly’s comment made Liv aware that she was still being aloof, very much caught up in memories and protocol. The tips didn’t matter so much. Fitting –or rather disappearing- into mainstream society did matter. And it was taking time. On her way to refill the tea pitcher, Liv tried her smile on an elderly couple sharing a slice of pie, and was pleased to see it easily returned. Liv’s heart first warmed then ached as she considered the couple. There may have been a time she’d believed in love like that. Believed such a thing could last. She thought of Tony, her first, and how she had naively believed he would be by her side forever. She remembered how happy the pregnancy had made her, however unplanned and unacceptable it may have been. She thought of Joe, and how he accepted her. She thought of how tough he was mentally and physically, how secure he had made her feel, and how he had driven her to become something more than even her boldest aspirations. That was when the robbers made their entrance, and Liv recognized the familiar caress; invisible tendrils of trouble that followed her everywhere. Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? Clive Barker, because of his incredibly vivid and lyrical prose. He’s a painter as well, and his writing seems to reflect that in some indefinable way; in word compositions that have a sweeping effect, like broad, even angry brush strokes at times. read more of the interview HERE.

Author Spotlight – Michael D. Matula

anthology, vampires, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Michael David Matula

is the author of the short story

MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of

 TRY NOT TO BURN

michael matula2

Excerpt from:

MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE

“Well, Ms. Bailor, do you have any prior experience as a personal assistant?  Bartholomew Gannen expects a certain level of professionalism and know-how out of his employees.”

Cameron Bailor shrugged, the warm Louisiana air feeling stale in the mansion’s extravagant drawing room.  The whole place smelled of dust and antiques; almost like the mansion had hardly been lived in over the past century or two.

Mr. Haberson noticed her eyes wander down to the bandage plastered to his neck, half covered by the collar of his gray mock turtleneck.  Strangely, the bandage looked like it had been applied by a seven-year-old in the midst of a coughing fit.

Two rather distressing splotches of red had seeped through the gauze, and were starting to bleed into the fabric of his shirt.

Clearing his throat, Haberson shifted his backside in the premium leather of the lounge chair, angling his torso so his injury would be less noticeable.

“Not exactly,” Cameron replied, her eyes skipping back up to his face now that the seeping neck wound was hidden from view.  After looking at his sallow, droopy cheeks for a few seconds, she found herself starting to miss the neck wound.  “I can make a mean cup of coffee, though.  The kids I used to babysit for would absolutely rave about my cappuccinos.”

A frown drew his hangdog features even lower, looking like he’d just tasted something sour.  “I see.”

It took all of her restraint not to face-palm, as she could almost feel her ice-breaker falling flat and shattering the surface of the lake.

Why did she say that?  Why did she even attempt to crack a joke?  She wasn’t funny, not in the slightest.  She was the last person who should be cracking wise in the middle of a harrowing job interview.

Cameron could see him judging her in his bloodshot little eyes.  She couldn’t say she hadn’t been judging him from the moment she walked in the door, but still, it never felt particularly good to be on the receiving end of such withering contempt.

Should she tell him it was an attempt at humor?  That she wasn’t actually a caffeine pusher for toddlers?  Or would that be an insult to his intelligence?  Perhaps he knew it was a joke, and he was simply judging Cameron for her poor comedic timing.

“Do you mind if I ask…” she started to say, hoping to switch his mind off of her own shortcomings as a comedian and onto something he’d prefer thinking about.

Namely, himself.  Men loved talking about themselves.  If there was one thing she knew about men, that was it.

Except for when they had something to hide, of course.

“…what happened to your neck?” she finished asking, realizing the folly of her ways the moment the lead-laced words had fallen onto what remained of the proverbial ice.

She couldn’t help but wince at his complete lack of an expression.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he grunted.

Of course he didn’t want to talk about it.  It was the one thing he’d been hoping she wouldn’t notice.  Why couldn’t she have asked him about the weather or something equally bland and unalienating?  Why couldn’t she have complimented him on his fashion sense?  No, that might have actually made him like her.

After all, he probably injured himself in some sort of kinky asphyxiation thing, and no one wanted to discuss their deviant sexual practices with a total stranger.  Much less a pushy twenty-six-year-old who seemed to be unable to keep her mouth shut.

Mr. Haberson sighed.  “Ms. Bailor, I’m sure you know that Bartholomew Gannen is a very important man.  He may have retired from the limelight, but he still requires a capable, sturdy individual to fend off negative press and overeager fans.  He needs someone who is willing to work long daytime hours, and someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty.  Do you really think you would be capable of handling these responsibilities?”

Cameron tried to pull herself together.  He was still talking to her.  That was a good sign, wasn’t it?  At least he hadn’t grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and tossed her sorry derriere out onto the regal front porch of the mansion.

She still had a fighting chance.  And she still had four full “release-in-case-of-emergency” buttons to go through on the blouse.  She had undone the first one in the car.  She’d wanted that casual look.

The second button would show that she could be playful.  She wasn’t desperate enough to release button number two yet, but she was getting there.

If she undid button number three, it would show that she could be saucy.  A real firecracker.  A fourth button would cross the line into epic levels of inappropriateness.  But she might still get the job.

She’d never had to go four full buttons before.  She knew the day would have to come eventually, though.

“Absolutely.”  Cameron’s mousy voice did its best to sound confident.

“Interesting.”

Interesting?

“I must admit, Ms. Bailor,” Mr. Haberson continued, “that I’m somewhat short on time this afternoon.  Today was the only day I could interview replacements for my job in person, for I’ll be unable to work days following tonight.”

“Um-hm.”  There you go, Cam.  Smile and nod.  Keep eye contact.  Don’t look at the gross sex bandage…

All right.  Well, don’t look at it again.

“It saddens me to say,” he told her with substantial hesitation, “that you’ve got the job, Ms. Bailor.”

Cameron flashed her best “deer in the face of blinding headlights” look.

“Really?  This isn’t some sort of joke, is it?”

“It saddens me to say,” he added, with just as much hesitation as before, “that it is not.  We haven’t had many applicants for the position, and I find myself unable to wait for anyone else.  If Mr. Gannen is not satisfied with your work, then he’ll deal with you later.”  Haberson cleared his throat.  “He’ll hire someone later, I should say.”

“Sure.”

She actually got the job?  Seriously?  With only one button undone?

She must be better at this whole interview thing than she thought.

Mr. Haberson knitted his fingers together.  “I must insist that you begin working immediately, however, as there is much you need to do, and I have limited time before the dawn arrives on the morrow.”  He inclined his head toward the rather fusty coffee table to his left.  “Your job responsibilities have been printed on the parchment there.  Mr. Gannen has been somewhat… quiet, shall we say, over the last few days, so I took an educated guess at what some of his needs would be.  If you require anything, try my mobile phone.  The number’s at the top of the page.  My flight’s at three o’clock this afternoon, though, so you may have some difficulty reaching me after that.”

So, two and a half hours from now.  Well, that should give her enough time to look over

the list and see if she…

“It’s settled, then.”  Haberson unfurled his fingers and rose to his feet, extending his right hand toward Cameron.  “Welcome aboard, Ms. Bailor.  Do strive to do your best, whatever that amounts to in your particular case, as Mr. Gannen is rather quick to do away with incompetents.”

She accepted his hand, too giddy about the fact she just got the job to concern herself with the heavy-handed dose of condescension.

He grunted daintily as he lifted up his suitcase, then started to power walk through the mansion toward the entrance hall.

“You’re leaving already?” she asked his rapidly retreating form.

“You know how the rat race can get,” he called back to her as the door creaked open.  “Busy busy busy.”

The door slammed shut behind him.

She waited to hear the tires squeal as he raced away in madcap cartoon fashion, but the walls and blacked-out windows of the mansion were much too thick to allow for it.

With him gone, Cameron finally allowed herself to take her first real gander around the place.  She hadn’t wanted to look like she was casing the joint in front of Haberson before.

As antiquated as it was, the mansion was still quite impressive, absolutely dripping with Southern charm and class.  Aside from Mr. Gannen’s apparent love of doilies, that was, as it looked like he had allowed his great grandmother to decorate the place.

“You’ve finally made it, Cam,” she said, talking to herself and referring to herself by name, which was by no means the mark of a crazy person.  “Actual, honest-to-goodness employment.  A career, if I can keep from screwing things up like I normally do.”

No more selling electronics of varying legality out of the trunk of her car.

Nope, she was in an actual building this time.  A mansion.  The kind of house that little houses wished they could be when they grew up. READ MORE

______________________________________

Michael Matula is a novelist and story writer from Chicago, IL. He was born on a Friday the 13th, which could explain some of the darker themes in his writing. He once dreamed of becoming a comic artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the words and images tumbling in his head, he started writing stories based on his characters instead. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name Michael Matula

Age  35

Where are you from

I was born and raised in the Chicago area.

A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.

There isn’t too much to say.  I went to Glenbard North High School, enjoy watching movies when I can scrape up the time, and I find that I’m getting more obsessive-compulsive as each day goes by.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My latest short story, “My Boss is a Vampire,” will be appearing in Wrapped in Red, the new anthology from Sekhmet Press, on October 29th.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I always wanted to be a comic book artist.  I wrote and drew my own comics as a teenager, usually during study hall, but occasionally during classes.  But I had too many ideas for the stories, and I couldn’t draw fast enough to keep up with everything I wanted to do.  Nor could I quite match the images that I was seeing in my mind.  So I wrote out a side story for one of my characters, and I never really looked back after that.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Pretty much right away.  I finished writing my first book in high school.  Looking back, it wasn’t very well-written, and I’d probably die of embarrassment if anyone read it now, but I still hold a lot of the characters and the story very close to my heart, and I hope to one day rewrite it.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

I had an idea for a woman who was not too dissimilar to me.  She’s struggling to find work, doing lots of odd jobs while trying to be a writer in an age where print is dead.  And basically, every job she takes goes wrong somehow, though she would never admit to it ever being her own fault.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I mostly just write the story as the character, placing myself in their heads as much as possible, and whatever they would think is usually how I tell it.  I always think that the key to writing is to find characters you like.  Then, the characters do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I think I had the title before I actually wrote the story, which is often how I do things.  A good title can give you inspiration for the story, and makes me excited to write it.

Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?

Be wary of kids who learn voodoo curses off the internet.  You might have career trouble later in life.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

Not much, if I’m being honest.  It’s part parody, part suspense, and hopefully all fun.  If any parts of it are realistic, then it’s probably unintentional.

Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?

Sunglasses After Dark was one of the books that made me want to be a writer.  That, and the Wheel of Time series, along with some of Michael Crichton’s books.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

I just completed the sequel to my first novel, Try Not To Burn, which is about three people struggling to escape eternal damnation and redeem their sins.  It’s part suspense, part psychological thriller, and part monster movie.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A teacher I had in elementary school, Mrs. McArdle, pushed me to join an advanced program, which may have helped steer me into a creative path.  I also remember one time that I was supposed to write down an answer to a question “What’s one thing you do better than anyone else?” It was supposed to just be a fun thing, a throwaway question, but I didn’t have an answer, as I’ve never felt particularly special.  So I asked her, and she said I was better at making her laugh than anyone else.  It was something that will always stick with me, and it was one of the first times as a kid that I’d ever felt like I mattered.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I’d love it to be.  There’s nothing I’d rather do full-time than write. READ MORE