Presenting our first Christmas novel: Reindeer by Gareth Barsby! This isn't like other Christmas stories, though, which usually leave you in a diabetic coma. Is it a mystery? Well, there is a criminal conspiracy. Is it horror? There's a scary ghost, and a lot of dead people. Is it a metaphysical fantasy? Um... probably.
Santa Claus never lived at the North Pole; he lives and operates in Purgatory. He brings presents to those that have not yet ascended to Heaven in order to give them hope. His elves and reindeer are the spirits of those who died during Christmas.
Meet his newest recruit, Randall, a Christmas-loving human turned into a confused and curious reindeer. It’s bad enough for Randall that he now has to live in a world where happiness and saccharine is forced onto him daily, but then he learns that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has history with Santa, and a crooked man is practicing necromancy so as to ruin Santa’s operation.
Can Randall thwart the evil plan and save the holiday he loves?
To find out, visit Amazon, or enter the giveaway below!
I am pleased to announce that Strangely Funny III is now on Kindle. It presents nineteen stories from talented authors, and I would like to introduce you to one of them.
Nathan Cromwell is the author of "The Tortured Teen." Rather than being interviewed by us, Marla, one of the characters from “The Tortured Teen”, expressed her desire to talk with the author about the story.
Marla: You don’t like me very much, do you?
Cromwell: You’re a bit of a pain, but I’m sure you’ll grow out of it.
Marla: You have me already dead in the very first paragraph!
Cromwell: . . .
Marla: (After a half-hour awkward silence) What’s up with the picture?
Cromwell: That was a gift from my niece, Mikaela. It’s a statuette of me with a peacock on my head.
Cromwell: I don’t know.
Marla: Okay. So, how did you come up with the story?
Cromwell: I was sitting in a coffee shop trying to think of something interesting to write for this anthology. I had started watching a documentary on string theory the night before, and I had recently read Oscar Wilde’s The Ghost of Canterville, so I decided to mix an old-fashioned ghost with modern physics.
M: Do your stories just come to you?
C: Sometimes I do write straight through, but mostly I jot down ideas until my muse takes a bathroom break. Then I’ll start arranging my notes into clumps and decide the best plan of attack. Once I’ve got the architecture, I start fleshing out and filling in gaps, and either throwing out or saving things that don’t fit.
Marla: Some authors talk to their characters. Do you?
Cromwell: I never have conversations with my characters.
Marla: Speaking of your characters, how did you come to put me in Atlanta instead of somewhere more goth-friendly, like New Orleans?
Cromwell: I used to live there, and I left about the time they were tearing down homes in the shabbier part to prepare for the Olympics. Since I wanted a ghost haunting a brand-new house, that came to mind.
M: A lot of authors, myself included—did you know I write heart-rending poetry?—get inspired to write by reading a story and saying to themselves: “I can do better than that.” Do you feel proud that you will inspire so many future writers?
C: I’m not some hack! I put a lot of effort and thought into my stories.
M: You know, after all that work, it’s unbearably sad that no one will read or even remember this story fifty years after you’re dead.
C: (As a pleased smile blossoms on Marla’s lips) That’s not—maybe this—you never kno—oh, shut up!
M: And if by some miracle people are still reading it, you’ll be dead but I, the dead girl, will live on in your story. Isn’t that neat?
M: Thank you, Mr. Cromwell. I enjoyed our interview. More than you know.
Nathan Cromwell is a living, breathing, swearing teleprompter for the human race, and he does some of his best work on public transport. A military brat, he is from no one place. He did hover in Indiana long enough to earn a BA in English which he has never used for any job ever unless you count this. He has worked in the retail, security, and fitness industries and has acquired all the concomitant bitterness they offer. That hard-won fruit he passes on to you in his stories.
Many of his stories are online, and you can find links to them at nathancromwell.wordpress.com.
Don't miss out! We're giving away three free copies of Strangely Funny 2 1/2 on Goodreads. Goodreads is a great place to visit anyway, so get over there. :)
Nightmare Noir is now available on Amazon in the Kindle store, and on Smashwords in other e-book formats.
In other news: the winner of the Goodreads Giveaway is Barbara in Florida. And no, we don't know her. :) We had 715 entries for the drawing, which is our highest total ever.
Our Goodreads giveaway for Nightmare Noir ends on April 30th! If you haven't entered yet, now is the time. If you'd like to learn more about Alex Azar and the creation of James S. Peckman, check out his interview on Patricia Abbott's blog.
The second part of my (Gwen Mayo's) interview with Detective James S. Peckman.
Alex Azar, his biographer, is sharing several cases he finds memorable in a new book titled Nightmare Noir, which will be available on Amazon on Monday.
Which of the cases in the collection had the most impact on your life, and why?
That may be the easiest and most difficult question to answer. 'Control', which accounts the first time Thaddeus and I took on the returning Ibn'Roth. It still weighs heavy on my heart thinking about that first trip to Chicago, and the lives we lost on that case. We may have thwarted this god's return, but I can't count it as a victory. Too often loss seems to be the driving force for the things I did, and for so much after that case was because of those losses.
I noticed that your first solo case took you from New Jersey to Kansas; for a Jersey boy that must have been like visiting another planet. How did you feel about the vast open fields and near absence of trees?
It was the noise, or lack of, that hit me first. Newark is very much the sister city of New York, and we share that constant hum of life through sound that the Big Apple has. You could hear your own heart beat in the quiet fields of Kansas. I will say, I do remember stealing a moment during all that craziness to admire the night sky and all the stars that the city's light pollution steal from the view.
Could you tell us a little about the reasons for naming your weapons?
Every occupation has its own superstitions and detectives, both paranormal and normal, have their own; it is bad luck to go on a case with an unnamed weapon. As if to prove the point, during the aforementioned 'Under the Hood of Winter' I lost a favorite of mine that I hadn't named.
Why “Stacy” and “Gwen?” (No, readers, Gwen was not named for me; that is pure coincidence)
We're going back a while now. You're too young to remember a show called Two Faces West, but it was about these twin brothers both played by Charles Bateman. One was a physician seeking to heal the western town through its citizens, while his more violent brother, the sheriff, was quick with his gun. I was really drawn to the duality Charles brought to the show, something I think is in all of us. But I digress, Stacy was the name of the character played by the beautiful Joyce Meadows.
Something I haven't shared with many people, Gwen was my daughter's middle name. More than a dedication to her, I feel she's now protecting me.
Have you trained others to continue your work? If not, what do you foresee happening if you retire (now that you've been retired for some time)?
I hadn't trained anyone to take continue for me. I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to lead the life I lived during that time. The fact I'm here alive able to talk to you now, is a miracle I thank God for. I know too many good men and women that can't say the same. Unfortunately, the nature of this world that most people don't see means there's always more James Peckmans being brought into the life through similar tragedies I went through all those years ago. But we should all be thankful there are people standing up to the darkness, so we don't have to.
Logan Zachary (www.loganzacharydicklit.com) lives in Minneapolis, MN and has over a hundred erotic stories in print. Calendar Boys is a collection of his short stories. Big Bad Wolf is an erotic werewolf mystery set in Northern Minnesota and its sequel GingerDead Man is due out in January 2015. His stories can be found in several collections, including: Beach Bums, Sexy Sailors, Black Fire, Brief Encounters, Biker Boys, Rough Trade and The Spy Who Laid Me.
Just so everyone knows, Logan's story in Strangely Funny II has erotic overtones, but it's not X-rated. I'm sure some of you are disappointed by that news.
In "Catting Around", a meeting takes place where neither party is what he seems to be at face/fur value.
From "Catting Around", by Logan Zachary:
I came home late one night from the bar and saw the big tomcat standing by my back step. There was a patch of blood along his right side, a dark crimson/black slash across his yellow tiger-striped body. There was a bare spot on top of his head and a nick was taken out of his left ear, clotted with blood. The night was close, and the day’s heat still radiated off the concrete. My T-shirt and cut offs clung to my skin from my sweat and humidity.
“You poor guy”, I said as I saw him. “Are you okay?” I bent down to scratch his neck.
The cat arched his muscular back and rubbed up against my hairy leg, sending shivers up my leg, all the way up my spine.
What was this strange reaction? I know I didn’t drink much at the bar. I looked up at the moon, almost full but not quite. Two days to go. I could feel my nerves raw under my skin in the moonlight, itching, prickling wherever it touched me.
I knew how this poor fellow felt. “Did you need something to eat? Drink?” I dug into my pocket and pulled out my keys. I unlocked the back door, and the cat darted into my house. I grew up with dogs my whole twenty-five years on this earth, and after my camping accident, I haven’t owned a pet.
I flipped on the light to check on where my guest ran to.
The golden tom sat in the middle of the kitchen looking at the refrigerator.
I opened the door and pulled out the bottle of milk and a cold beer. A bowl dried in the rack by the sink, and I poured some milk into it and set it on the floor.
The cat raced to the bowl and lapped up the milk. His pink tongue dipped into the cool liquid, and he drank quickly.
I opened the cupboard and found a can of tuna and opened it. I tipped it over onto a plate and set the plate next to the bowl.
The cat stopped drinking and eyed the pink cylinder of fish. He slowly approached and took a small bite. He looked up at me and gobbled the rest down.
I filled a glass with cold water and drank it as I watched the cat eat. I kicked off my shoes and set them by the back door.
The tom cat looked over at me as I bent over. He watched me intently.
I looked back at him as I lined up my shoes. I could feel my tight shorts cling to my backside and I looked back at the cat.
His green eyes glowed in the kitchen light. His pupils dilated.
Was he checking me out? I looked underneath him and noticed he was a big old tom. He must know which way I swung.
Anna Taborska is a British filmmaker and horror writer. She has written and directed two short films (Ela and The Sin), two documentaries (My Uprising and A Fragment of Being) and a one-hour television drama (The Rain Has Stopped), which won two awards at the British Film Festival Los Angeles in 2009. Anna also worked on seventeen other films, and was involved in the making of two major BBC television series: Auschwitz: the Nazis and the Final Solution and World War Two behind Closed Doors – Stalin, the Nazis and the West.
Anna’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies, including Best New Writing 2011, Best New Werewolf Tales Vol.1, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Four, The Best British Horror 2014 and Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume One. Anna’s short story "Bagpuss" was an Eric Hoffer Award Honoree, and the screenplay adaptation of her story "Little Pig" was a finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival Screenplay Competition, 2009. Anna’s debut short story collection, For Those who Dream Monsters, was released by Mortbury Press in 2013, with a novelette collection (working title Bloody Britain) to follow.
When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I come from a film-making background. The process of making a film is lengthy. It starts with writing a screenplay and, if funding is not forthcoming, often ends there – with an unproduced screenplay that only a handful of people ever read. While trying to find a producer for my film projects, I started writing horror short stories and, in November 2013, Mortbury Press (home of The Black Books of Horror) published eighteen of them in my first book, For Those who Dream Monsters.
How did you pick the genre you write in?
The world is a cruel and terrifying place, and, if art is supposed to hold a mirror up to nature, then horror is the art form that does it best.
Plotter or pantser?
I’m a pantser aspiring to be a plotter. I usually know how my story will begin and end, but my characters often surprise me by doing and saying things that I wasn’t expecting. Usually when I write, I enter what I think of as “the zone”, where I lose time and the words seem to write themselves – that’s my favourite part of the writing experience (I can’t really call it a process, as I frequently don’t have much conscious control over it). I do realise that I need to get my act sorted, take control and start to plot, scheme and outline in a much more orderly fashion.
What do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading any type of horror – particularly short stories by my fellow writers. I love the horror classics too, including those by ladies of horror, such as Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson.
In terms of future plans, I am working on a screenplay based on a novelette which will hopefully be published next year in my new UK-based collection. The working title is Bloody Britain, but this might change.
Anna's contribution to Strangely Funny II, "Dirty Dybbuk", is one of the stories from
For Those who Dream Monsters. It's the tale of a straight-laced Jewish girl who is possessed by a spirit with nymphomania. If you like it, check out the rest of the collection. For Those who Dream Monsters is available on Amazon and directly from Mortbury Press in the UK (where you can also view her trailer for it): http://mortburypress.webs.com/forthosewhodreammonsters.htm
You can view Anna’s full résumé here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1245940/, watch her films and book trailers here: http://www.youtube.com/annataborska and learn more about her short stories and screenplays here: http://annataborska.wix.com/horror .
Mystery and Horror, LLC, is an indie press interested in what the name suggests.
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