Kate Hill: The Human Side of Monsters

Please welcome multi-published author Kate Hill to my blog today. I’ve known Kate for a bazillion years…yeah we go way back. Welcome Kate!

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One of the reasons I love paranormal romance is the fantasy of exploring what a relationship might be like with someone completely different, with powers that no human could ever have.

A vampire who has lived for centuries.
A werewolf who can protect those he loves from any foe, whether man or beast.
An alien who can show you a world you never imagined.
A witch who can cast spells to help others.

There are countless types of paranormal heroes and heroines, all with fascinating otherworldly powers. The powers alone aren’t enough to make a character one to fall in love with, however. What endears them to us isn’t what makes them different from us, but what makes them similar enough to relate to. Their human qualities–anger, fear, pain, a sense of humor and the ability to love and hate–ultimately endear them to us, make them seem real and allow us to suspend or disbelief.

When an ancient vampire sinks into depression from loneliness, when a werewolf feels ostracized for being different, when an alien has to hide his identity and a witch conceal his powers because they might be persecuted, their issues become human issues. By finding similarities, it’s easier to accept the differences.

How do you feel about the human side of monsters? Do you find it easier to relate to a paranormal character when they share emotions similar to your own?
About Kate Hill

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels. Kate also writes under the pen name Saloni Quinby.

When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets.

She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at katehill@sprintmail.com. Visit her online here and Twitter.

Stop by her annual Halloween page here.

St. Augustine’s Silhouettes
by Kate Hill
Excerpt and purchase links
A killer runs loose in a small American town. When free-spirited Katherine allies herself with a man dubbed Satan by the townsfolk, has she found the man of her dreams or has she fallen into the hands of a murderer?

St. Augustine’s Silhouettes was previously published by Echelon Press. This is a revised and expanded version.

 

Scary Movies You’ve Missed But Shouldn’t

Every year I usually post my favorite spooky movies. Last year I posted this list of spooky movies you may not have seen but that I think are great. So this year I’m giving you the same list with a new one added at the end. Have some scary good viewing!

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Happy soon-to-be Halloween. I think you’ve missed some good scary movies. Yes, you have. Really. For those of us who love a good movie, and who also love scary stuff, there’s a lack of the seriously spooky movie that doesn’t include a gaggle of screaming teenagers being chased by a psycho with a hack saw. I realize there are a lot of horror movie buffs who enjoy that type of movie. It it’s your cup of tea, that’s cool. What I like, though, is what I consider the honest scary stuff. The things that feel as if they could be real, or that maybe are real. Like what, you might say. Okay, there are some movies on this list that are pretty far from reality, but some of them aren’t, and that’s what I think makes them quite a bit scarier than the average B slasher flick. Some on this list are old movies that pack a significant punch, while some are more modern. Try these and see if you don’t get a good goose bump thrill this Halloween season.

Dog Soldiers

(Splendid acting, British soldier humor, action out the ying-yang.)

When A Stranger Calls

(Latest version-panned by critics but I think it is very atmospheric and suspenseful)

Unrest

(Creepy. Quite a few plot holes, but still well executed in many ways and different.)

The Haunted

(1963 version-one of my favorite spooky movies of all time. Seriously atmospheric and creepy. Acting is top notch. Julie Harris is amazing.)

Sweet, Sweet Charlotte

(Psychological chiller with amazing acting.)

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane

(Another psychological chiller.)

Gargoyles

(The gargoyles aren’t as campy as you’d expect, and the suspense leading up to the main event is pretty creepy.)

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

(Old version not the newer one…although I like that one, too.)

Disturbia

(Humor, great acting, and some serious chills/thrills)

Session 9

(This sleeper has great acting. I call it psychological horror. Old abandoned asylums, ghosts maybe? This one has enough questions but isn’t so confusing that you’ll be totally in the dark. But don’t watch it in the dark.)

Housebound

(Funny horror movie with a quirky side. Made in New Zealand, with a Kiwi screenwriter and director and Kiwi actors. Highly recommended.)

Haunted: Edinburgh Terror

For a spooky chill, I’m repeating the story of an experience I had when I lived in the UK many years ago. So you’ve seen this story on my blog before. I consider it the most profound paranormal experience I’ve had so far, and there isn’t a Halloween I don’t think about it. Heck, I think of it several times a year. So here goes…

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Long before I became a paranormal investigator, a powerful experience in Edinburgh, Scotland inspired a dungeon scene in my novel, Bridge Through The Mist. This experience also colored some scenes written in my Asylum Trilogy as well.

My hubby and I loved living in England for three years from ’96 to ’99. It was dream come true, because since I was a little kid I always wanted to visit Britain. My ancestry is mainly from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and you could say I was fascinated with Scotland from an early age.

Anyhooo…I digress. :) Terry and I adored Edinburgh and it became our favorite city in the U.K. One year we took a Hogmanay tour (New Year’s Eve in Scotland). Two hundred and fifty thousand people in a small area can really drain a person but it was an experience I wanted to have. The night before the Hogmanay celebrations, we decided to take a ghost tour. Quite a few tour companies visit Mary King’s Close and the South Bridge Tunnels in Edinburgh. Both areas were living quarters for people back in the 1600’s during and before the Bubonic Plague that ravaged the city. Some history says sick people were blocked up in the close and the tunnel areas to die, but in recent years I’ve heard otherwise. So I’m not sure what to believe.

When we reached the South Bridge Tunnels (we didn’t tour Mary King’s Close), the tour guide opened this door in the side of a building, and then took us down a winding staircase illuminated by candles. He’d flipped the electric light switch and it didn’t work. At least, that’s what happened…don’t know if it was set up purposely. I am not claustrophobic, nor am I scared of things underground. I didn’t feel particularly spooked, just curious about the history and ghost stories. Everything was peachy.

We reached a barrel vault room with a somewhat high ceiling and everything changed for me in the blink of an eye. The air felt too close. At first I figured thirty people in relative proximity to each other might be getting to me. I stayed close to my husband. The feeling got worse. Much, much worse. Even though it was very cold down there, all of the sudden I started to feel very warm and my hands started to sweat. Dread and apprehension overwhelmed me until I couldn’t wait to leave. The idea obsessed me. It ran around in my head like a mantra, “let me out, let me out, let me out.” I couldn’t believe how I felt and it disturbed me like nothing else I’d ever experienced. I’d never had a panic attack and this felt like what people described as a panic attack.

I don’t recall now how long we stood in that room, but by the time we left, I realized I hadn’t heard a word the tour guide said about the ghosts or history. If I thought I’d escape the feeling by leaving that room, I was partially right. As soon as we left it, the heavy dread subsided, but I still couldn’t wait to get the hell out of the South Bridge Tunnels. When we left the tour some time later, the relief was enormous. I told my husband about my experience and asked him if he’d felt anything. He hadn’t.

Ever the skeptic, I thought maybe I’d developed claustrophobia. When we visited the wartime tunnels at Dover Castle, which are also underground, I thought the same thing might happen. It didn’t. Nothing like it has happened to me since. Not long after the disturbing adventure in Edinburgh, I discovered quite a few people had the same experience in the very same room over the years.

Maybe I picked up but a small part of the trauma that occurred in that room many centuries ago. Who knows, but the paranormal investigator in me would like to go back some day and see if it happens again.

Allison Brennan and Fear In Small Bites

Please welcome NY Times best seller Allison Brennan to my blog today as she talks about fear in small bites! Welcome Allison!

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I’ve always loved short stories.

One of the first adult short stories I remember reading was And He Built a Crooked House by Robert Heinlein. I was probably 11 or 12, and I was fascinated by the concept of the tesseract collapsing into four dimensions. It was a bit freaky, but not wholly scary because they all survived. The same summer I read The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, about hunters in the future traveling back in time to kill a T-Rex dinosaur. The hunters are warned that they must stay on the path—one small change in the past can have cataclysmic changes in the future.

You might think because my earlier reading preferences that I would have written science fiction. While I have a desire to write a futuristic dystopian series that borders on SF, I still love my mysteries and suspense.

I also loved all the short stories I was “forced” to read in junior and high school. Flowers for Algernon? Loved. The Scarlet Letter? Wow. The Cask of Amontillado? Freaky! The Lottery? Terrifying!

A few years after glomming on SF shorts and reading for school, I read Stephen King’s THE STAND, his longest book at that point in his career. I fell in love with the master of horror, and read everything I could get my hands on … particularly his short stories.

For King, “short” can be anything from a few pages to a meaty novella. The Langoliers, for example—one of my favorites of his shorter works—is probably close to 70,000 words, a short novel. Others, like another fave of mine Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut might be 5,000 words, but just as delicious to devour.

Though I love King’s books, I have a particular affinity for his short stories. Not many authors write short stories anymore—at least not with regularity. There are still a few mystery magazines around (Ellery Queen, for example) and the digital age has resurrected novellas into cheaper, stand-alone stories. But the Golden Age of the short story passed before I even started writing.

For me, the short story is a bite-size tidbit that I can read in one sitting and be completely satisfied. If it’s a mystery, I want a puzzle to solve while watching my daughter’s soccer practice. If it’s science fiction, I want to think about the future and how what we do now might impact it. If it’s horror, I want to be scared. While this is true in full-length novels, it’s doubly important in a short story because the intensity level needs to start high and stay there for the duration.

Still, there are some genres that continue to thrive with truly short stories (under 15,000 words.) Mysteries, of course, as well as horror and science fiction. This is good for me, the reader. And challenging for me, the writer.

Writing short isn’t easy—at least not for me. While some writers find it hard to pen a 100,000 word novel, I find it hard to write a novel under 100,000 words!

The first short story I wrote was for an anthology edited by Lee Child, KILLER YEAR. It was supposed to be under 5,000 words. Mine clocked in at 6,200 – and that was edited down from over 8,000! When I had to write my first novella, my editor said 30,000 words … it ended up being just under 40,000.

But I forced myself to learn to write lean—and it’s helped with my books. Between full-length novels, I try to find the time – even if just a couple days – to write a short story. It sort of purges my palette, so I can go from one world to the next.

Her Lucky Day was just that kind of story. I wrote it for the Horror Writers Association anthology, BLOOD LITE II, and it was supposed to be “light” horror under 5,000 words. Guess what? Mine was 4,200! I actually came in under the maximum word count … a first for me.

I also have a novella coming out on October 27th! It had first been published in 2011, but hasn’t been available for the last two years. “Ghostly Justice” is part my Seven Deadly Sins series, book 2.5, and is my take on vampires. Trust me – there are no nice vampires in this story!

What about you? Do you enjoy short stories and novellas? What’s your favorite short story you read while in school? Recently?

 If you’re interested in reading more about my Seven Deadly Sins series, I posted an SDS short ghost story on my blog.

BIO: Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen thrillers and numerous short stories. She lives in Northern California with her husband and five kids. Visit her website at http://allisonbrennan.com

 

 

 

 

Asylum Trilogy: Welcome To The Nightmare

Hey everyone. I’m on a bit of R & R, so there will be a slow down on this blog until October 15 when Allison Brennan visits. In the meantime, I couldn’t help reminding you that not only do I love reading paranormal books, I love writing them. Although I write in many genres of romance, I find it almost impossible not to incorporate the paranormal in most of my books in at least some small way. My work in progress, which is set in 1883 Indonesia, and which I have affectionately called That Novel About That Thang (because I don’t have a good title yet), will have a smidgen of paranormal or what could be interpreted as paranormal in the last half of the story.

I had to face it long ago, even when I was a small kid, that I love spooky stuff. It just is. No getting rid of that, nor do I ever want to abandon my love for all things paranormal. Right now I’m having some great sales on some of my paranormal novels! So I hope you’ll snap them up. All of these books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. I’ve given you links for Amazon, because I know so many of you get your books there.

Asylum Trilogy (Shadows Wait, Shadows Rise, Shadows Fall)

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Forevermore (reincarnation romance/Scotland)

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Blackout (post apoc/paranormal/suspense romance)

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Have a great week and stay spooky!

Medium Kristy Robinette & The Seance

Please welcome medium Kristy Robinette to my blog today. Kristy’s book Forevermore, is a unique look into the paranormal and Edgar Allan Poe. As a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I was fascinated when I heard Kristy talking about him on the paranormal radio show Darkness Radio and knew I had to have her on my blog. Welcome Kristy!

Kristy Robinett has always had helpers in spirit, but when she was thirteen, she met the most fascinating spirit guide of all— Edgar Allan Poe. Forevermore – Guided in Spirit by Edgar Allan Poe tells the true story of how Edgar Allan Poe helps Kristy fulfill her destiny as a writer, a psychic medium and psychic detective.

Far from being a madman (as he’s often portrayed in the media), Poe is an insightful guide and a sleuth with a passion for justice. Working with law enforcement, Kristy and Poe uncover truths of the past—murders, suicides, missing persons—and shed light on the wrongs that have found their way into the present day.

Join Kristy as she shows how personal growth can come from the unlikeliest places and affirms the comforting fact that we are all given the chance to learn and evolve on the other side.

 

Forevermore (1)

The Seance

Kristy Robinette

 “Are you certain this is a wise idea?” Chuck asked, taking the crystal candle sticks and white candles out of the backpack and setting them on the rickety table. “I mean, I trust you and everything, but…,” he put his hands on his hips and looked over the unfinished auditorium from center stage.

“What is it?” I asked him, struggling with four chairs that I placed around the table.

Chuck sighed and with his hand brushed back his salt and pepper hair that was highlighted with orange tips. He would never dye his hair, except for highlights of fun colors. It was often the topic of discussion to those sitting next to us at a restaurant, or shopping and even going through border control to and from Canada. “I wish I could explain it, but something feels off tonight.”

If you could call someone a professional séance hostess, that would be me, and my husband of several years had participated in dozens of them with me and was rarely to ever freaked out by anything metaphysical or paranormal. We’d dined with demons, had run-ins with poltergeists, pushed down the stairs by non-entities, grabbed by ghosts of prisoners, hunted by shadow men and had hundreds, if not thousands, of other odd experiences. It was just my crazy life that turned into his crazy life with the ‘I do’ and the sealing kiss. I always protected myself, called on my guides, angels and archangels and higher energies to act as my body guards and only allowed higher vibrational energies in to communicate. Easy peasy, right? Right?

“Well, it’s too late to cancel. We officially sold out yesterday,” I shared. “And everyone is looking for their Halloween spook.” I put my arm through his and gave him a kiss on his cheek. “I’ve got it covered,” I promised. “We’ll see tonight if in fact there is someone or something here, but I do know that the legends of this place are just that, a legend.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Chuck mumbled and continued to decorate the attic.

Not that it even needed any decorations. The unfinished attic of the masonic temple did have an eerie energy to it, which was the exact reason why we were using it. The event coordinators shared that other than a few movies scenes (vampire movie scenes, at that), it had never been used, skeleton of the balcony sat intact, waiting to be dressed, after near a hundred years.

The Detroit Masonic Temple was built in the early 1900’s by a wealthy gentleman named George D. Mason. The building, a massive structure boasts over 1,000 rooms, secret staircases, concealed passages, and hidden compartments within the floors. Urban legends say that Mr. Mason went bankrupt and after his wife left him, he jumped to his death from the roof of the temple. Research, however, notes that Mr. Mason in fact did not jump and lived until 1948 and was in his nineties when he passed away. Yet there are numerous claims of ghosts that wander the large building, many who’ve experienced cold spots, heard doors slamming and feel watched. But the most intriguing claims comes from those that work there, and feeds into the legend.

With a series of events during Halloween week, as we were packing up to leave, an employee pulled me aside to share a story.

“I was working the night shift. It was after a concert and I was checking doors when I saw the elevator going up to the attic, so I followed it in the other elevator, figuring it was kids hoping to get locked in for the night,” an employee shared. “I got off in the darkened hallway and saw a shadow race to my right, towards the outside patio doors and I chased after it, only to see whatever it was just go through the doors. The doors didn’t open,” he explained, his eyes wide. “I checked the door, and it was locked. It’s always locked. But I did something stupid and I unlocked the door anyway and walked outside, making sure to put a brick between the door and the frame so not to get locked off. And I saw the shadow that I had chased turn towards me and then jump. I swear to you. It was like Batman. I panicked and leaned over to see if maybe it was real, but there was no noise, no scream and no one. As I leaned forward, I felt a push and almost fell over myself. I don’t think I’ve ran that fast in my life,” the employee laughed.

“What do you think it was?” I asked.

The employee shook his head as if trying to shake the memory out. “I think someone did fall to their death – or rather was pushed to their death. Not Mr. Mason, but someone.”

Chuck couldn’t seem to shake the image the employee shared and when they opened the patio doors off the attic to show us, he stayed near the doorway and offered a loving warning for me to stay far away from the sides.

_________________

Even though the attic was massive, it was rickety, and the Fire Marshall limited the space to no more than fifty people with strict instructions that nobody was to go into the unfinished balcony or behind the side walls. We had sold out every single seat and previously placed an array of couches, love seats and chairs around the stage to make it look almost like a gothic nightclub. Large construction lights stood off side back stage to offer limited and spooky lighting. Chuck used his large LED flashlight to assist guests to their seats and I took a seat at the candle lit séance table awaiting the final guests to get settled.

We all have spirit guides, whether we know it or not, whether we want them or not. One of my spirit guides, ever since I was thirteen years old, was none other than the famous Edgar Allan Poe. Oh, I’ve never claimed Poe as mine and mine alone, I knew that he cheated on me with others, but there was a time and a place when he was there to assist me and a time and a place when he left it to my other guides to take the shift. As I called on my guides to help and I placed a protective bubble of white light around me, I heard Poe clear his throat as if trying to get my attention.

“Do you remember “The Cask of Amontillado”? Poe asked me telepathically.

“This is not time for a literature quiz,” I hissed at him.

“Have you ever wondered why the Masons refused my membership?”

I could see him smiling smugly.

“Maybe because they couldn’t stand your pompous personality.”

“I’m hurt, Kristy. Pained, even.”

“You’ll get over it, I’m sure,” I laughed, knowing that it took a lot to hurt Poe and a brash insult was not going to affect him in the least. “Is Chuck on to something?” I asked, feeling a cold shiver go up my back and twirling around to see nobody there. “Can you keep me safe?”

“The Cask of Amontillado is all about revenge and of secret murder. There may be laws in theory, but outside of that there really are none.”

I have to say that it had been frustrating to have a guide who loved to speak cryptic and to test me. Okay, you might just call that marriage, but my other guides were much more reasonable and sympathetic. Sometimes I liked it all just spelled out for me.

Chuck grabbed my attention my turning his flashlight on and off and then nodded for me to begin.

After explaining about different spirit communication techniques I called upon several participants to participate in a table tipping demonstration. There was no magic involved, simply energy from my guides and their loved ones, to help with communication by moving the table or knocking and rapping on the table. A group of three, a mom, dad and daughter, from the same family joined me and I began by putting a protection around us and giving the rules to the group and to our guides.

“If there’s anybody who would like to speak to us, please show yourself by knocking, rocking or rapping,” I called out, but before I could finish my sentence, the table began to rock back and forth and the audience gasped.

“It’s okay, I reassured them. This is what we want. It’s okay. It’s a man that I see is with us,” I said.

I’ve seen spirit since I was three years of age and they communicated with me in a way that I called spirit charades. They showed me signs and symbols that made sense to me and I could communicate to my clients. There was a young man standing next to Poe, as if he helped usher him in. Poe looked over at me and gestured to be cautious, with no other explanation.

“I didn’t kill myself,” the young man with sandy brown hair said. “Please tell my family that I didn’t kill myself. I was pushed.”

“You have a son on the Other Side who said that many believed he committed suicide, but he’s adamant that he was killed.”

The mom, who was sitting across from me, began to sob and broke the circle by taking her hands off the rocking table. “I knew it. I knew in my hearts that he wouldn’t have killed himself.”

Her husband and daughter nodded in agreement.

“He says that he was trying hard to get clean; to sober up. He says that police never investigated, but that it was connected to someone he knew. Someone connected to the police…”

“It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong,” Poe whispered.

Just as I went to continue to relay messages, a loud boom was heard in the balcony. Everyone turned around and with a hundred eyes we saw a dark shadow race across the unfinished structure towards the stairway leading down. Several men jumped out of the seat to meet whoever it was at the end of the stairwell only to come back baffled when nobody was there.

I ended the session, asking them to talk to me afterwards, and switched participants, praying I wouldn’t regret continuing, but the remainder of the night was quiet, besides for some knocks, footsteps behind us on stage and a few more shadow figures that teased us. It was an evening that offered the ticket holders exactly what they hoped for – the spook factor.

After I closed the event with my gratitude, the three family members joined me afterwards with a hug and a thanks.

“We always suspected that Joe didn’t kill himself. He was working hard on making something for himself. He wanted to be a police offer and help kids the way he wished he’d been helped,” Joe’s dad shared. “They said that he jumped in front of a car, but there were witnesses that said someone else was there too. I always suspected that he was pushed!”

“The irony was that it was the police who wouldn’t even look at the theory that something was askew,” the daughter said, wiping away her tears. “He’s come to me several times after his death, always upset. Like he couldn’t even talk.”

I nodded. It made sense. Those who cross unexpectedly, often in a violent way, are often confused. In my head, I telepathically asked Poe if there was anything that we could do and he simply answered with a no.

“Was that Joe in the balcony?” his dad asked.

Again, I looked at Poe for the answer. “No, it was Joe’s killer. He died soon after Joe was killed. A car accident.”

The family drew in their breath and looked at one another with knowing. With arms wrapped around one another, they walked to the elevator and pushed the button to the lobby.

Chuck was cleaning up and pushing chairs and couches back against the walls.

“See, we survived unscathed,” I remarked.

“Is that a question or a statement?” Chuck smirked.

“Maybe both,” I grinned, taking his hand and walking slowly to the elevator. I took one last look at the attic, knowing that it would be the last time I ventured there. I was often more afraid of the living than the dead, but it was the in between that sometimes frightened me and there were others that were waiting. Maybe some simply needed help crossing over, or their story told, or maybe some sought revenge at any stake, against anyone.

“The true genius shudders at incompleteness–and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be,” Poe solemnly added as Chuck loaded the trunk up with boxes filled with Halloween decorations.

“Hey, that’s not from The Cask of Amontillado!”

“I’m very proud. You do sometimes pay attention, Kristy!”

“It’s sad that those parents will never see real closure.”

Chuck thinking that I was talking to him walked to the passenger side and kissed me on the cheek while opening my car door. “No, maybe not closure, but maybe some comfort in simply knowing that their loved one is often with them and that the truth is out there.

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About Kristy

Kristy Robinett (Livonia, MI) is a psychic medium and author who began seeing spirits at the age of three. When she was eight, the spirit of her deceased grandfather helped her escape from a would-be kidnapper, and it was then that Robinett realized the Other Side wasn’t so far away. As an adult, she was often called upon by the local police department to examine cold cases in a new light and from a different angle. She gained a solid reputation for being extremely accurate at psychical profiling and giving new perspectives on unsolved crimes. It was then that she began working with a variety of law enforcement agencies, attorneys and private investigators around the United States, aiding in missing persons, arson, and cold cases. Her psychic detective work was recognized in a new series on the ID Network, Restless Souls.

Robinett teaches psychic development and paranormal investigating at local colleges, lectures across the country and is a regular media commentator and has been spotlighted on Coast to Coast, Darkness Radio, ABC News, Fox News and the Ricki Lake Show. She is the author of Forevermore: Guided in Spirit by Edgar Allan Poe; Messenger Between Worlds: True Stories from a Psychic Medium; Higher Intuitions Oracle; Ghosts of Southeast Michigan; and Michigan’s Haunted Legends and Lore. You can visit her online at Kristy Robinette, Follow her on Facebook or Find her on Twitter.
 

 

 

Susan Aylworth & Maggie Rising: Adventures of a Part-Time Psychic

Please welcome Susan Aylworth to my blog today! Welcome Susan.

Maggie Rising New final cover

Halloween is fast approaching, that time of year when every TV channel brings out its creepiest movies and programming. While waiting in a grocery store line recently, I heard two people behind me talking about the creepiest movie monsters ever.

One voted for Dracula, the one in the modern remake of Bram Stoker’s novel. The other mentioned an angel-demon character in a movie I hadn’t seen, adding, “There’s nothing creepier than that.”

I guess I wasn’t good at hiding my snigger. “Oh you think you can do better?” the first one said.

“Hannibal Lector,” I responded without pause. “The scariest monsters are always human.”

“You have a point,” the first shopper said. Both of them nodded and started talking about scary human monsters.

It’s that belief that humans are always the scariest that led to my creating the bad guy(s) in my paranormal murder mystery, MAGGIE RISING: Adventures of a Part-Time Psychic. Maggie is a 17-year-old high school senior who works part-time in her great aunt’s shop doing psychic readings.

“There’s nothing paranormal about it,” she assures the reader as she explains away her ability to see auras and read people’s thoughts. It doesn’t take long before readers, and eventually even Maggie, start to realize this “normal” teen isn’t quite as ordinary as she seems.

For instance, here’s the scene at the end of Chapter One:

I closed the door carefully, checking to see how sensitive my alert bell was. It chimed despite my best efforts. Good bell! The fact that I’d never yet been able to fool it encouraged me to think it would always let me know when someone came in. Mr. Haskins made a good point: a girl who often works alone can’t afford to be too careful.

I walked through to the back of the house, the low-ceilinged kitchen, bathroom and back porch with its laundry set-up. It’s also where the ladder goes up to the loft. That loft isn’t tall enough to stand up in and is almost certainly a building code violation. But since the house is more than a century old, nobody paid much attention when Betty bought the place last spring. She’s worked in an old, tumble-down shack on East Avenue for as long as I can remember. It was only when she chose to bring me in as a partner that she bought this larger place in a busier location and moved the business here.

My mom and dad don’t know this yet, but once I start college, I plan to move in here and take on more hours in the reading parlor. If I sleep in the loft, I can move out of their home but avoid paying rent and Betty can still keep the whole upstairs as a separate apartment for Merc. She needs his rent to make her payments.

Sorority Chick’s crisp new twenty went into Betty’s strongbox under the sink. I was just reaching the parlor when the alert bell rang again. I looked up to see a clean-cut college guy at the counter. Another man behind him was reaching to shut the door.

My first thought was Cool. Mr. Clean-Cut Guy brought a buddy. Two times twenty is better than… Then the other man began to turn.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up. There didn’t seem to be anything weird about him unless you counted his super-short hair that clearly showed his scalp or his whole left arm covered in blue, green and red tattoos from his shoulder to just above his wrist. Still this was a university town and neither the skinhead look nor the tattooed sleeve was that unusual. I couldn’t explain it, but that second guy was creepy. He just was. As he turned to meet my gaze, our eyes connected. All the hair on my body prickled, and an icy chill slithered down my spine.

Creepy? Oh yeah. And the man she comes to know as Creepy Rich isn’t the scariest monster Maggie encounters. This Halloween, when you’re thinking of ghosties, ghoulies, and non-human monsters, remember the terror a true monster can generate. And shudder with fright.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 13 published novels. Her lucky 13th, EASTWARD TO ZION, is available now. Her recent release, MAGGIE RISING: Adventures of a Part-Time Psychic, has just come out in paperback as well as e-book. Mother to seven, she is “gramma” to 23. She lives in northern California with Roger, her husband of 44 years, and the two spoiled cats they serve. She loves notes from readers. Write her at  www.susanaylworth.comsusan.aylworth.author@gmail.com, or @SusanAylworth. You can also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.

 

Lori Handeland & When Midnight Comes

Please welcome New York Times Best Seller Lori Handeland to my blog as she talks about some hauntingly good romance in When Midnight Comes and the reissue of some of her other spooktacular novels. Lori is also having a contest, so be certain to comment. Welcome Lori!

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My novella, When Midnight Comes, which will be available in ENTRANCED: A Halloween boxed set, as well as individually, is my retelling of the Jack O’ Lantern legend.

As the tale goes, once upon a time there was a man named Jack who was too unsavory to go to heaven. He was sent into the dark of night with only a burning piece of coal to light his way. Jack carved out a turnip and put the coal inside and used this as a lantern to light his way in his Earthly roaming. The Irish referred to his ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern, which became “Jack O’ Lantern.

In the old country, these lanterns were made by carving scary faces into turnips and potatoes, since they had plenty. They were placed in windows or near doors to frighten away wandering evil spirits. In England beets were used. Once the tradition came to America with the immigrants, the native pumpkins were used.

As my story is a romance, my Jack isn’t quite so bad as the original. He is sent back to earth by St. Peter to learn where he went wrong. If he does, happiness, love and the woman he lost await.

Do you carve Jack O’ Lanterns? What other Halloween traditions do you follow?

I’ll be giving away two ebook versions of my novella When Midnight Comes to two randomly selected posters from this blog today.

I’ve also re-released CRESCENT MOON, the first book in a trilogy of Nightcreature Novels set in New Orleans. I just love the new covers!

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Thank you Lori! Be sure to stop by her webpage for additional information on all her books and her Facebook page. Comment below for a chance to win a book!

Nancy Gideon: Horror vs. Paranormal Smackdown

Please welcome long-time paranormal romance author Nancy Gideon to my blog. Many moons ago I read quite a few of Nancy’s excellent novels. In particular I loved her “Midnight” vampire novels. I encourage you to dip your toes into her spooktacular world!

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I confess – I like the scary stuff, the dark stuff, the creepy and okay, even the violent stuff. I’m a horror fan. Not my son’s kind of horror that is shockingly over the top gross, but the cool chill of suspense, gritty action and sudden jump out of your skin surprise with some not too gratuitous splatter on the side kind of horror.

Having written two paranormal romance series with nine books apiece – my “Midnight” vampire romances, which are being re-released by ImaJinn books in a one-per-month event beginning in March 2015 with the first three long out of print books, and my “By Moonlight” shape-shifter series with its latest installment, REMEMBERED BY MOONLIGHT coming out October 13 (!) – I must admit that writing the novelization for Indie horror film “In the Woods”(which is having its 15-year anniversary celebration next week!) along with two horror screenplays was a darker side of the same kind of fun. Here’s what I discovered:

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Horror vs Paranormal Romance: the differences

  • Character relationships. While Paranormals spotlight a hero and heroine, Horror is often more buddy or survival bonding adventure. There doesn’t have to be a ‘couple.’
  • The S-E-X factor. Paranormal romances are all about the couple’s journey to intimacy.

In horror, if they’re showing their undies or doing the nasty, they’re the first to die!

  • The graphics. While paranormals can have a fair amount of blood and gore, horror specializes in it, glories in it and often rolls around in it. And your favorite characters (even the hero or heroine!) often fall victim to it.
  • Good triumphs over evil. Not always in horror. The paranormal’s obligatory HEA is MIA in many horror stories. Some have no satisfying ending or leave you hanging.

The difference is in the focus, and that was the fun for me as a writer, that walk outside (WAY outside!) the romance box. Plus, it upped my cred with my son’s friends and was a therapeutic stress reliever!

Best in horror reading: Dean Koontz (awesome insight into characters!), Stephen King (my forever favorites Salem’s Lot, The Shining and The Stand) and Justin Cronin (his post-apocalyptic vampire series is to DIE for!). Too much for me: Clive Barker (Eeeew!!)

Best in horror movies: Cabin In The Woods, The Crazies, Woman in Black, and Stir of Echoes. Too much for me: Mirrors (couldn’t get through the first half hour!) and Saw.

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To help celebrate all things scary and fantastical, join me for my 4th Annual Haunted Open House from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31 with special guests Darynda Jones and editor Brenda Chin, and sign up for the HOH Blog Hop http://nancygideon.blogspot.com/p/haunted-open-house.html for extra spooktacular fun!

In the meantime, sink your teeth into some yummy paranormal romance with REMEMBERED BY MOONLIGHT . . .

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REMEMBERED BY MOONLIGHT

“By Moonlight” Book 9

By Nancy Gideon

October 13, 2014

Because the road to . . .

Clever, cool and preternaturally lethal, Max Savoie is leader of a secretive shape-shifter clan, heir to a mobster’s legacy, and the love of New Orleans’ top cop . . . but he can’t remember any of them. The only way to recover his past, and his rightful place in the arms of the woman who risked all to save him, is to surrender to a mysterious visitor who could use him as a weapon against all he’d loved.

Happily-Ever-After . . .

After rescuing her mate from his ruthless captors in the North, hard-hitting Detective Charlotte Caissie is now painfully vulnerable—a stranger in his eyes . . . and in his bed. The key to his memories is locked in a tortuous past. To reclaim the strength of their passionate bond, Max must learn to trust her enough to face that darkness at her side before the threat it hides exposes the secret Cee Cee carries.

Is never smooth.

When an investigation into grisly deaths in an underground Shifter fight club points to more than just dangerous clan rivalries, Cee Cee enlists Max’s help to find a traitor in their midst while there’s still time to turn a deadly invading tide. But the cost of saving their treasured future may mean sacrificing his past. Especially when the enemy they pursue . . . might be Max, himself.

“Every delicious word Nancy Gideon puts on the page exhilarates with a sensuous ferocity. Hopelessly addicted.” —Darynda Jones, NY Times Bestselling Author

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Nancy Gideon is the award winning author of over 55 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix. She works full time as a legal assistant in Southwestern Michigan, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She’s also written under the pen names Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings.

Website, Blog Facebook Twitter Pintrest Goodreads Goodreads “Nancy Gideon by Moonlight” group Amazon

 

Angelia Sparrow: October, Halloween & Writing

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“In the Rock, we let October stay just as long as she wants.”

Stephen King opens his book, Needful Things, with that as part of the prologue. October has always been my favorite month, the trees are beautiful, the weather is perfect, and there are endless horror movies on the various TV channels.

I grew up watching the old classics. Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Wolf-Man gave me nightmares before I was five. Then again, the Abominable Snowman in “Rudolph” gave me nightmares at that age. I adored Monster Week on the afternoon movies on our CBS station, and especially loved it when it was a full week of Hammer Draculas. As I got older, I watched Hammer movies as porn. When you live in the country and don’t have cable, bosomy virgins in filmy nightdresses getting bit is what you get.

October means monster movies, planning a Halloween costume (possibly as early as August, when Halloween seems a million years away and it’s hot and boring), and, of course, all the awesome candy that we got only at Halloween: Zagnuts and Mr. Goodbar and those peanut butter taffy things that rip your fillings right out.

I read horror as early as I could, studied cryptozoology, ghost hunting, Ripperology, vampires, theory of magic and anything else that went bump in the night. By age 10, I could tell you the difference between sympathetic and imitative magic. By 12, I knew the various Jack the Ripper theories, including favored suspects.

A few years ago, I found out that I don’t mix well with ghosts. Staying in a very haunted New Orleans hotel left me sick as a dog. And oh yes, it was quite haunted. In the brief periods I was not in the bathroom, I caught several spirit orbs on film, watched a chandelier move in a room with no wind, and had a small blond boy in a white night shirt sit on my lap. Other convention goers had earrings ripped from their ears and thrown down the stairwell, and saw various manifestations, including a soldier marching up and down the hall. Spirit orbs were so ubiquitous in the pictures that people just shrugged.

So it’s no wonder I love writing horror. I write same-sex romance mostly, but almost always with a supernatural, SF or horror element to it. My first sale was a boy-meets-incubus piece for Torquere’s Monsters anthology. My first non-anthology piece was gay Christmas werewolves.

Since then, I’ve written everything from nagas and were-horses to evil carnivals and born-again Christian vampires (filled a megachurch knee deep in blood during that last one).

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Most of the short stories can be found in Into Dark Waters (the stories with Naomi Brooks) or Riding the Nightmare. The entire Gay Christmas Werewolf series is in the last one, as is the Boy Meets Incubus story. The first one has a painter in love with the Devil, the naga, blind vampires and other dark delights. Both of these are available at http://www.inkstainedsuccubus.com

So, pay me a visit at http://brooksandsparrow.com And pick up your ticket for the Phantasmagoria’s Ten-in-One, or saddle up with some post-apocalyptic bikers, or take a ride on a very literal Highway to Hell.

If you want to stalk me,

Facebook: Author Angelia Sparrow or Angelia Sparrow

Blogger: http://angelsparrow.blogspot.com

LiveJournal (I’m old-fashioned): http://valarltd.livejournal.com

Twitter: asparrow16

Tumblr, Pinterest, FetLife: valarltd