Guest Post: Halloween Memories by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

This is the last post at this web address.  Tomorrow you will redirected to http://www.lizzylessard.com, the new blog address for Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.  But don’t worry, all posts and comments will be transferred.  A big thank you to Livia of Butterfly Meter Designs who made my dark vision come to life on the new site.  

Happy Halloween everyone!


Halloween Memories

Treat or Treat, Robots and Candy Corn

Guest Post by author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

I believe I’m lucky. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Halloween was so different back then. Simpler. More innocent. Exciting. A true holiday for children. And I have memories I’ll cherish my whole life.

My family was large. I had six siblings, three sisters and three brothers, and we never had much money. My dad was a salesman and my mother, like a lot of women during that time, didn’t work outside the home…she was busy enough raising seven children. We were the poor family down the street with too many kids living in the shabby two-story spooky looking house. Our neighbors shunned us or felt sorry for us. But I didn’t care, I had my family to love me. I had Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother, to fill our bellies with food when the table was a little too bare. I had my ambitions and dreams, science fiction and scary library books to read and pictures to draw (I wanted to be an artist from the age of nine). I frolicked in the empty fields riddled with deep gullies beside our house with my brothers and sisters or ran the dark streets and woods playing hide-and-go-seek. Sang to the moon on our rusty swing set in the backyard with my brother, Jim. Or, on a black and white TV set, watched Zorro, the Twilight Zone or The Lone Ranger on swelteringly hot nights in a house with no air-conditioning. Sweet days and nights. Poignant memories now that many of my family are gone.

Halloween was my favorite holiday, next to Christmas. I remember one, when I was about ten or so, vividly. It was cold and raining, but nothing stopped us four older children (the rest were too young that year) from going out into the neighborhood and collecting big brown bags of free candy. No, not when candy was so rare for us. My parents could hardly keep enough food in the house, much less buy us sweets. So Halloween meant a windfall of treats. Nothing kept us home on that night. We’d quickly eat the bowls of chili Mom would insist we eat as the sun went down. Another tradition. So we had some real food in our stomachs before the glut of candy came.

Copyright @ 2011 by Monkywing

My mother, money being sparse as always, dressed us two girls up as gypsies, using her old costume jewelry and tying bright scarfs around our heads and waists. My younger brother Jon, wore an old sheet with cut out eye slots. A ghost. My other brother, Jim, had outdone himself that year and, out of two cardboard boxes and paint, had fashioned himself a robot. Wasn’t bad for an eight year old, either. Made it hard for him to walk, though. He stumbled a lot.

That night we traipsed through the wet woods, a short cut, to the rich subdivision down the road that – oh, my – gave out those huge candy bars at each door, huge homemade popcorn balls or bags of candy corn, my favorite. My grandmother had taught Jim and I a catchy song…G-i-n-g-a, G-i-n-g-a, G-i-n-g-a…Ginga was his name. Never understood that song but I think it was about a pet dog or something. Jim and I got so much good feedback, so many treats for belting it out, though, that at Christmas we were performing The Little Drummer Boy for anyone we could corner and sing to. The beginning of our later singing folk duo (so big in the 60’s) and then my short (my brother kept singing out as I began writing my novels) singing career, no doubt.

We had a great haul that night. Cold and rainy as it was. Frozen as our faces and fingers became. Maybe got even more goodies because it was so inclement. We went to all the houses, collected our booty, and esthetic at our bulging bags, at the end of the night, ran through the trees toward home. Trying to beat the rain, which had become a deluge, worst of the night. With noisy thunder, and spectacular lightning. It was sooo spooky. In the spirit of the night, we were sure something bad was following us. We ran faster. Our paper bags getting soaked as we cradled them against our shivering bodies.

Then, clumsy in his robot disguise (he kept bumping into trees because he couldn’t see) Jim fell over a tree limb and spilled his candy everywhere. As he cried, we scurried around trying to salvage what we could. Didn’t do much good. Too dark. The rain was too heavy. So the three of us promised to share our catch with him and we led him home.

As we were drying off and warming up, Mom and Dad smiled at our stories of singing for our candy and all the strange ghouls and monsters we’d met on the way; laughed over Jim’s mishap and gave us hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows to drink.

Then there was a knock at the front door and when we looked, there was Grandma Fehrt, dressed as a wicked witch, complete with tall black hat and long dress, cackling at us. Trying to fool us. But we all knew it was her. She dressed up every year and knocked at our door. Always a witch.

We kids hugged her and laughed, then sat at the table counting out (and oohing and aahing with glee) over our candy haul. We shared it with Jim, of course.

To this day I remember that Halloween with a wistful smile. Such good times from so long ago. I see my brothers and sisters young faces through the mists of time, remember the thrill of singing with my brother for the first time and the delight of the people giving us the candy in exchange for the song. I remember my parents and the love in that drafty old house we scampered back to. I remember my grandmother with her smiling witch eyes and painted face. Remember going to bed with a stomach ache because I’d eaten too much candy. Heck, I always did. And I remember those no longer with us. My father, my mother, one of my brothers and all of my grandparents.

My childhood, when I think of nights like that, is just a moment away. The dead are with me again. Ah, I’d give anything to go back in time and be with all of them once more. The way we were. Young and hopeful and with our lives ahead of us. Enjoying each other’s company…and all that good candy.

Anything.

About Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

Check out these 4 short stories on sale for $.99.

Ghost Brother  |  The Banshee and the Witch  |  Too Close to the Edge  |  Running with the Train

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com.

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

  • Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 2012)
  • The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy
  • Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
  • Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Damnation Books Buy Link:
  • The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)  Buy
  • The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
  • The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003…soon to be an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…soon an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)  :  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
  • Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)

My Space  |  Facebook  |  Author’s Den  |  Goodreads  |  Email    |  Bebo  |  Jacketflap  |  Shoutlife  |  Romantic Writer & Reader |  Romance Book Junction

Book Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales (Anthology)

Two and Twenty Dark Tales:  Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Edited by:  Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink

Publisher:  Month9Books

Genre:  Horror

This anthology is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.

In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

It’s always hard to decide what to rate anthologies.  Some stories are amazing and others bore me.  So, I decided to to highlight the short stories that were dark, disturbing, and make this anthology worth buying.  5/23 lived up to their promise to be haunting.  These 5 stories were A+++.

Clockwise by Leah Cypress – A retelling of the hickory dictory dock rhyme.  Amarind was a princess transformed into a mouse and only the magic of a clock switched her back to a human.  She has to unravel the mystery behind the enchantment with the help of a witch.

Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier – Bronywn tries to save her sister from the Beckoning, but she soon learns that you can’t deceive the witches in the woods.

Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling – She can’t understand why her mother keeps getting pregnant when there’s no money to feed the children she has.

The Well by K.M. Walton – Jack and Jill are the only two left alive after a deadly virus kills everyone else in the world.

The Wish by Suzanne Young – Lauren hates her life so much that she makes a deadly wish upon a star.

A copy of Two and Twenty Dark Tales was provided by the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Since there are so many authors, I’m only going to spotlight the ones from the stories I loved in this anthology.

Leah Cypress – website  |  Changelings – a FREE collection of short stories  |  Mistwood –  A Kirkus 2010 Best Book for Teens

Angie Frazier – website  | Everlasting – YA historical fantasy  |  The Midnight Tunnel - first in a MG mystery series

Heidi R. Kling – website  |  Witch’s Brew – YA active fiction paranormal story

K.M. Walton – website  | Cracked – YA contemporary about bullying

Suzanne Young – website  |  A Need So Beautiful - YA angel book  |  My reviews of A Need So Beautiful and A Want So Wicked  (Can you tell I LOVE this author?)

Book Review: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

You might notice some special graphics in this review.  All previous reviews will eventually be edited to include them.  They were designed especially for the new blog.  Although I won’t be directing traffic there for another day or two, you can check out the new design HERE.


What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Self-published

What Kills Me is available as an ebook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  

The fight for survival begins.

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race.

So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.

How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?


Overview:  I think that I would of liked this book better if I hadn’t read so many in the genre.  I never got the feeling that this story and the characters were special.  The danger felt contrived and the characters safe in a formulated story.  I can understand why people love this book, but I don’t think it was unique enough for my liking.  It did have some humorous scenes and one-liners that were nothing short of awesome.  The excerpt is one of my favorites.

Characters:  Lucas felt short for me.  He was too rough and bitter in the beginning and his transformation by the end was too abrupt to be believable.  I liked Axelia for the majority of the story, although her part in the very beginning was nothing short of stupidity.  There’s no way that a “good” girl would decide to meet a stranger in the dark, after curfew, when everyone warns her not to…just not believable either.  Besides that, I did like her.  She acted like a dumb blonde sometimes, but the way Lucas played off of that trait was so darn funny that I liked it.

Plot:  Girl meets boy.  Girl dies and becomes vampire.  Girl has lots of people that want to kill her because she’s the chosen one.  If this was the first vampire novel I have ever read, I would have loved the plot.  I LOVE reading vampire books (and have read way too many) and so I the plot in this book kept reminding me of what I’ve read in other books.  It wasn’t predictable, however, and I wasn’t quite sure how Axelia and Lucas would escape the people wanting to kill them until it happened.

Ending:  The VERY end felt cheesy to me.  It wasn’t what I expected, but really disappointed me.

(I received a copy of this novel from the author (LibraryThing) in exchange for an honest review.)

This is a great novel for those who haven’t read many paranormal or vampire novels.

“What about guns with silver bullets?  Would that slow them down?”

“Silver bullets?  We’re not werewolves.”

“Werewolves are real too?”

He glaced at me and then did a double take, seeing my bewildered face.

“Yes,” he said, watching my eyes widen. “They hang out with Santa and the Easter Bunny.”

I remained frozen for a moment and then pushed his arm.

“Hey, I’m driving,” he said.  He turned away from me to check the left lane over his shoulder but not before I caught a subtle smile on his face.  It was gone so quickly tha I wasn’t sure if I had seen it at all.

A few minutes passed.  “So, they’re not real, right?”

(Picture and Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.
She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).

She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Monstrous Monday

Welcome to the first ever Monstrous Monday, which is hosted by The Other Side.  It is a day for all of us who love/hate monsters to blog about ‘em.  For Monstrous Monday, I decided to share a little bit about a monster in my novel.  This is not a Christian novel, despite the religious undertones.  This is horror/paranormal.

The Demon

According to Merriam-Webster, a demon is

  1. an evil spirit
  2. a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin

Although many of us in America consider the demon part of the Christian religion, there are demonic-like beings in Islam (jinns), Hinduism, Judaism, and several ancient religions.  There are many demons in Christian demonology, many of which were added because some Christian theologians concluded that all pagan deities were demons.  In Christian tradition, demons are like angels: spiritual, immutable, and immortal. 

Magical Abilities

Demonic supernatural powers are believed to include psychokinesis, levitation, divination, possession, ESP, telepathy, witchcraft, and curses, as well as superhuman strength, controlling the classical elements, animal control, and provocation. Demons use variants and combinations of these powers to harass, demoralize, confuse, and disorient the victim, or the willing subject of demonic interest. All of these attacks, as well as their effect or scope, can be nulled by God.

Demons are believed to have the power to physically or mentally hurt people, but only within the boundaries of what God will allow. Demons can destroy any material on the earth; these supernatural powers are always inferior to the power of God. God may use His will to cancel or destroy any effect the demon chooses to invoke. According to the gospels, Jesus also had full power over demons, and they always obeyed his commands when he told them what to do, as opposed to a more general sense in which demons only do that which God tells them to.  Often Demons are said to create negative emotions, wreaking havoc, ensuing chaos, and disrupting peace. (Source:  Christian Demonology Wiki)

Questions

These are questions that sparked the idea behind my work in progress.

  1. Does the child born to a woman impregnated by an incubus (sexual demon) have a soul?
  2. Would that child be permitted to enter Heaven with the heavy weight of Original sin (gained from the mother) and the sinful nature of the demon?
  3. If that woman was to end the life of a half-demon (the baby), would that be considered a sin or an exorcism?

In my book, the baby is not allowed to enter Heaven because she is not baptized.  When Death comes for the baby, the demon father stops Death from sending the baby to Hell.  The demon father decides that he will keep her on Earth.  I don’t want to spoil the book, so I won’t say how.  She learns about her powers far before she learns “what” she is.  And when she does, the question is still…is there a chance that she could go to Heaven or is she destined to spend her afterlife in Hell?

By Lizzy's Dark Fiction Posted in hop

Book Review: Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady

Hearts of Darkness (Deadglass #1) by Kira Brady

Publisher: Zebra

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

You can purchase Hearts of Darkness on ebook or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  You can read my review of the prequel Hearts of Fire.

Review:

Overview:  After reading the prequel novella (and loving it), I was so excited and impatient to read this book that I requested a copy from the author.  But it was clear very early on in Hearts of Darkness that this was a completely different story than the first.  This book is set in present time, while the prequel had a western feel.  The world building feels very extensive, but it took me quite a few chapters to be convinced that present day Seattle is over-run by mystical shapeshifters and beings…but the rest of the world is unaware of this.  I think my main gripe with the novel is that I didn’t like the POV characters.  Since the next book is written from a different POV, I might still read it.

Characters:  I would’ve liked this story much more had the main characters not been Kayla and Hart.  I liked Corbette, Grace, Lydia, and especially Norgard and I wish one of them told the story.  It could have been a five-star book.  First off the chemistry between the characters is so awkward.  I never felt like they truly cared for one another.  Hart didn’t love her – her lusted her.  He spent much of his time thinking about how to screw her over and the rest of the time thinking about screwing her.  He kept talking about the beast inside him wanting to bend her over and stick it in.  After pages and pages of this, I was like: “Just do it already!”  By the time the sex scene happened, I was so fed up with Hart and Kayla that I skipped it.  And, he growled a lot…a whole lot.  Oh, and Kayla felt like the dumbest human alive.  She walked into trap after trap and was so incredibly naive.  She had absolutely no backbone and was all about preaching forgiveness and not taking things personally.  I don’t understand how Hart could do that “thing” to her and she shrugs it off!

Plot:  The plot felt predictable about half the time and the other half I was confused as to why the characters did the things they did.  So I guess it wasn’t nearly as predictable as I originally thought.  By the end of the book, I stopped trying to guess what would happen and just enjoyed the story.  The world building was well done and the mythology was teasingly revealed throughout the story.  Even by the end, I understood much of the world, but I wanted to know so much more.

Ending:  There were some really cheesy moments in the end.  The kind of stuff you’d expect in a movie with more special effects than acting skills.  These things were not realistic and obviously only there for dramatic flair.  I wish things would have ended differently with Corbette…his ending was bittersweet.

Book Description:

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

This is a great story for those who love paranormal romances and don’t mind a bit of cheese.

Grade:  C

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Author of the Deadglass Trilogy (Kensington Zebra). Hearts of Darkness was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of Summer 2012!

A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training.

Website  |  Twitter  | Facebook

5 Star Review: Characters

So what is 5 star review?  Well, this is where, as a reviewer, I let you know what makes me rate your book 5 stars – or not.  This week’s topic: characters.

Please note that some things that turn me off to your book as a reader/reviewer turn others on and vice versa.


Characters

There’s so much I could write about characters, so I picked just a few things.  Characters in books I rate 5 stars are likeable, evolving, and complex.  Characters are the “who” of the story.  We typically think of them as people, but animals, and even objects can be personified and become characters.

  1. You could describe an ant as hardworking and persistent.  You could write a story about how an ant overcame seemingly impossible odds to find food and feed its colony.
  2. You could write a story about a train that wants to take a trip off of the tracks – oh, wait…that’s called The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper.

But there needs to be someone or something that is the center of the story.  Someone that we can connect to as a reader.  Someone that is likeable.  This would be your POV (point of view) character.  The reader needs to be able to “feel” and “care” for the people telling the story.  Would you go to a random person’s wedding or high school graduation?  Do you cry when you read the obituary section in the newspaper?  If you have nothing invested in these people, then no…you don’t care.  The closer you become with the people, the more you are affected by what happens in “their” life.

I love You.  I hate You.  Either way, I care enough to notice you.

Now, don’t confuse “likeable” with good.  Sometimes the villain is more likeable than the hero – like Hannibal Lector vs Will Graham in Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or Megamind vs Metroman (yes, I know…a movie!).  Sometimes the hero is horribly flawed like Sherlock Holmes – socially inept.  Humpert Humpert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – pedophile.  And if you can make both the villain and the hero likeable, that’s even more awesome.

And likeable certainly does not mean perfect.  Think about it.  Would you want your best friend to be rich beyond belief, gorgeous, athletic, brilliant, and extremely lucky?  And why don’t we also make this person have a few supernatural powers and be the Chosen One.  No, I don’t think you want to be friends with Mary Sue.  Besides the obvious jealousy, readers have trouble relating to a character like that.  You have flaws, therefore your characters should have flaws.

And CLUMSY is not a big enough game changer of a flaw to be the only flaw.  Unless…you plan on your character tripping, smacking into the villain and the villain’s extended knife, which is perfectly positioned to plunge into the heat, and the character dies.  If that happens, I can say, “Man, I’d rather be ugly than clumsy.  At least no one ever died from being too ugly.”  Then, and only then will you get full points in the character department with an otherwise completely Mary Sue character.

The Story of Evolution

There are two types of characters:  those that change over the course of the novel (dynamic) and those that stay the same (stagnant).  Most novels have both characters.  The key to having dynamic characters is to make their evolution from the starting person to the end a very believable transition.  The change in the characters need to be proportional to the situation for it to be believable.  You can either have a lot of minor events that contribute to the change or you can have one major event that triggers a change.

Character trait:  Character is a loyal wife.  Then she has an affair.

  • Believable:  Scene after scene we have the wife doing things without her husband.  He spends no time with her and she grows increasingly lonely, until she meets someone to fill the void – a neighbor.
  • Not-believable:  Husband forgot take out trash.  Wife screws her neighbor when she sees him at his trash can next door.

Character trait:  Character used to love spending all her time with animals.  Not anymore.

  • Believable:  Character quits veterinarian job after own pet dies and there was nothing she could do to save Fluffy.  Every animal she sees reminds her of her dead dog and she can’t bear it.
  • Not-believable:  Character quits veterinarian job because ants have invaded her kitchen and THIS MEANS WAR!  Every animal is a potential enemy now.

A thousand faces

Do you act the same way in front of your parents or your boss as you do your friends?  Your lover?  If the answer is yes, then please find the nearest exit and “get a life”.  teenagers especially treat different people differently.  They might be more joking around their friends.  Quieter around someone they like.  And more conservative (both in dress and speech) in front of their parents.  There might be conflicting information for the reader.

Example:  Suzy tells John that she can’t stand Bobby, but Suzy then tells Bobby that she likes hanging around him.

What does this mean?  It means that either Suzy is hiding her true feelings from John about Bobby or Suzy is hiding her true feelings from Bobby about himself.  To one of these guys, Suzy is honest.  To the other guy, Suzy is a liar.  She is still one person, but has conflicting character traits.  She is complex and that’s how I like my characters.

Readers:  What do you think makes a character likeable?

Short Story Saturday #12

Welcome to this week’s edition of Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are both self-published or small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!
 

Z is for Zombie by Philip Hansen

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre:  Horror

This 21 page story is available as an ebook from Amazon.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.

It’s the end of the world as we know it… and nothing is fine.

Mack, Skinny, Navarette and El Tee are Echo Squad, soldiers on the frontlines of the zombie war. Faced with an army of zombies that hungers for all flesh to be eaten their tiny group must survive deadly decap zombies and wicked clever roamer zombies in time for an aerial assault that will change the face of the battleground against the living dead.

Z is for Zombie is an action-packed gun-porn short story in the world of the living dead.

This is a man’s story.  A story worthy of a man cave and the story to read between Halo 3 matches.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that the author is an avid gamer (as am I) and the utter pwnage of the characters over the zombies in the novels was epic…like purple epic…like I just beat the hidden cow level epic.  Okay, okay.  Seriousness.  This is a story about soldiers…in a zombie apocalypse.  They talk like soldiers and there is quite a bit of military jargon used in the story.  I loved the dialogue.  The descriptions are so vivid.  The pacing and action is super fast.  The plot and characters feel so authentic and intense that I just have a need to read the story out loud – and then I realize that I probably shouldn’t in front of my kid.  I don’t want to explain what “headshot” means.

Warning:  excessive cursing  violence, and gore.

I do have one complaint – the text is in a stupid font and non-adjustable.  Besides that, this is a pretty awesome short story.

NaNoWriMo and more

I must be absolutely insane, but I am going to try to tackle NaNoWritMo for the 2nd year in a row.  I did complete it last year (although the writing was mostly rubbish).  I’m pretty sure that I won’t hit the magic number of 50k words, but I’ll be happy with half.

Lizzy’s Dark Fiction will still be operating normally with plenty of giveaways, guest posts, and reviews for the month of November.  I’ll probably post an update on my Nano progress every now or then, but otherwise it will be in the background.  I know you guys rather read posts about “published” authors and not the 500 words of crap I wrote using Write or Die.

As a reminder, the blog will be relocating on the first of November.  You should be automatically redirected upon visiting this address; I’m trying to make the transition as seamless as possible.  Everything should transfer.  If you follow by WordPress, please consider signing up by email, facebook, or twitter to stay up to date with future posts.

And a warning, I am moving sometime within the next two months.  Packing is 60% done already, but I don’t know the exact move date.  I’m hoping that it doesn’t interfere with any scheduled posts, but you never know with these things.

Anyone else participating in NaNoWritMo?

Tour Guest Post/Giveaway: Broken Aro by Jen Wylie

Candied Memories

Guest Post by Jen Wylie

There is something about Halloween and memories. My memory is pretty crappy, but I do remember a lot of Halloweens. I remember running up and down village streets and getting excited over whatever got dropped into my pillowcase. (Pillowcases are the way to go- not those silly, tiny store bought baskets) I remember my mom’s smiles as we’d show her our loot and beg to be driven to the next village or group of houses. Yes, we lived in the country. “Oh poor child,” you think. Not so! Though cities you hit a lot more places in a shorter amount of time, in the country you GET more. I’m talking 10 houses will half fill a pillowcase more. You can get brown lunch bags of candy with your name on it. You’ll have houses dump their whole bowls in your bag because they don’t think anyone else will be coming.  Country Trick or Treating is awesome.

Back then we had fun with our costumes too. I never had one fully purchased at a store, though sometimes accessories were. When I was very little Mom hand made a clown costume and a witch another year. My sister and I wore those until we grew out of them. Then we were punk rockers a few years, full of spiked, glitter filled hair and too much makeup. Once I dressed up as Zorro- I think I just wanted the sword. Sadly, I also remember the growing up… of going out with friends, and even dressing up, but not going door to door for candy. Instead came parties and pretending to stay out of trouble.

Now I have kids of my own. Sometimes I think I have more fun than they do when we go out. Since my sewing skills suck, I never made them costumes. The last few years they have been wanting to make their own sometimes. No matter how silly, I’m all for that. I did it too, it’s a learning experience. I have good kids and am glad they aren’t to the partying age yet. As long as they’re still trick or treating, I can still steal their candy… except the candy corn… how can people eat that?


Broken Aro (The Broken Ones #1) by Jen Wylie

Publisher:  Untold PressGenre: YA epic fantasyBroken Aro released September 2012.  You can purchase it on Amazon for US or UK.

Book Description:  Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don’t know anyone around you, and some of them aren’t even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.

Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.

About the Author:

Jen Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her  two boys, Australian shepherd and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories.

Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  | Goodreads  | Facebook  |  Amazon

Giveaway:

The author is giving away one ebook copy of Broken Aro.  To enter, leave a comment with your favorite Halloween memory or favorite Halloween candy.  This giveaway is opened internationally.  One lucky person will be chosen and emailed November 2nd!  The winner will be selected by random and have 48 hours to respond by email or another person will be chosen.

Please check out the other stops on the tour:

Guest Post: A Ghost Story by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Seasoned author Kathryn Meyer Griffith is visiting Lizzy’s Dark Fiction today with a true life ghost story.  Stay tuned for another guest post from her next week.  I’ll be reviewing two of her books, Dinosaur Lake (Sci-Fi/Horror) and Evil Stalks the Night (Horror), in December or so, so keep an eye out for them.  When I was first contacted by Kathryn Meyer Griffith, I thought her name looked familiar.  Turns out that I read one of her novels Witches, many years ago.  I’m so excited to check out more of her work.


A Ghost Story

Guest Post by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Because most of us are terrified of dying and death, of losing all we know so well in this mortal plane, we want to know: is there life after death? Do ghosts walk the earth? Vengeful or benevolent spirits? Immortals such as vampires and werewolves? Does good always win against evil? As human beings we’d love the answers to these questions and if we can’t find them, prove them, well, then we’ll invent, create, worlds where we can.

Now I must say that I can’t be considered a true skeptic when it comes to the supernatural because at the tender age of sixteen I saw a ghost, or what I believed was a ghost. My great Aunt Mary had died two days before. Not unexpectedly. She was old, had been in a nursing home for months, and we knew it was coming. Before the nursing home, though, she’d lived ten years with my maternal grandmother, whose name was also Mary, and had been happy there. The night before the funeral I’d been sleeping in my bed and something – to this day I don’t know what it was – woke me and I wandered down the dim hallway to use the bathroom.

Copyright © 2011, Shain Erin

And there was my dead Great Aunt Mary standing at the end of the hall in an eerie pulsating ball of light. She looked so real, as if I could reach out and touch her and my fingers would feel flesh. She was gesturing excitedly to me and rattling off a string of words that had to be German because I couldn’t understand a word of it. The old woman had been an immigrant who’d never learned our language, which is one of the reasons she’d been so content living with my grandmother; they’d both spoken German. The only word I could understand was Mary as she kept repeating the word over and over. I assumed my aunt was calling for my grandmother, as if my aunt were lost, and looking for her favorite niece. It’s the only explanation I have for the visitation.

Why she appeared to me, I’ll never know, but she did. I remember thinking: It’s Aunt Mary. Oh my God! But she’s dead. Dead. When it finally hit me, I was so frightened I turned and scurried back to my bedroom and dived beneath my bed covers. To this day, my mind swears I didn’t see what I thought I saw…Aunt Mary’s spirit…but my heart and my senses chide me and say, yes, you did. You saw a ghost. A real ghost. So there.

Since that day I’ve never been able to laugh at the possibility of the paranormal existing. The thing is, because I consider myself a down-to-earth realistic person (even though I’m considered basically a horror writer even with the other genres I write) , if someone asks me if I believe in ghosts and such I often as not hesitate before I admit that I might have seen one. Might. No one wants to be thought of as unbalanced. Seeing spirits is only one step above seeing little green men or pink elephants.

I want to be taken seriously. I mean, I’m a writer, not a nutcase.

All toll I’ve been a writer of paranormal fiction for forty years and proud of it. I’ve written about spirits, benevolent and malevolent; ghosts; angels; demons and all manner of vampires and unexplained creatures; and even, once, a possessed gun, and a woods haunted by an entity that was an eternal killer. Can’t get more spooky than that, can you?

Happy Halloween!

***

Check out these 4 short stories on sale for $.99.

Ghost Brother  |  The Banshee and the Witch  |  Too Close to the Edge  |  Running with the Train

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com.

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

  • Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 2012)
  • The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy
  • Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
  • Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Damnation Books Buy Link:
  • The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)  Buy
  • The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
  • The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003…soon to be an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…soon an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)  :  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
  • Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)

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