All posts tagged anthologies

Guest Post: Crescendo of Darkness

Published June 7, 2018 by admin

Don’t you love it when you take off for a couple weeks and it turns into…uh, more than a couple weeks? Yeaaaah. Anyway, we’ll get into that later. For today, let’s look at an amazeballs new book out that’s sure to grab the interest of horror fiends and music fans alike!



Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction. is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.

Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.

“Keep the Beat” by Calvin Demmer

A young girl questions why her tribe plays the djembe drums

every night and finds it may be more than just a tradition.


It resembled clockwork. Dusk would fall, and the sounds of djembe drums, which ranged from thuds to slaps, would start. First, it was only one or two drums in the distance, but, within minutes, Aminata heard the beat all around her. It was a simple pattern, which didn’t end until night had blanketed the world.

Watching some of the villagers of her tribe prepare fires to cook, it dawned on her she’d never questioned why the drums were brought out. She inhaled burned wood scented smoke from the fires, wondering why people went separate directions into the jungle to sit alone and play. Were they providing amplified entertainment for the rest of the village while they cooked? There was no singing along with the beat as was usual when instruments were played—though she did hear a few people mumble along. As soon as it was dark, the drums stopped, the people returned, and everyone ate.

Every night.

She’d approached Idrissa, one of the male elders she got along with best, after deciding to investigate the peculiar ritual. He was tall and muscly, which were common features among the men in the community. The drums had already started up their beat.

“You’re not wrong to question it,” Idrissa said, taking a seat alongside Aminata in front of one of the fires. “In fact, it’s a good sign. It shows you’re ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“You’re ready to know more.” Idrissa reached for a stick and held it over the fire. Smoke rose from the end of the stick. “Maybe, you are even ready to participate.”

“I’m ready.” Aminata didn’t really feel the desire to hit on a drum, but if it led her to uncovering the purpose of why they were played, she was prepared to feign interest.

“Hmm. Perhaps you are ready.”

“I am, elder Idrissa.”

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Idrissa looked to the heavens.

Aminata frowned.

“Have you ever wondered why we take the ill or severely wounded beyond the mountains?”

“You take them to the land of peace, to die. Like you did with my parents when they were ill and could not be healed.”

Idrissa nodded. “Yes. That was a sad day. You were very brave. But, there is more to it. The mountains surrounding us are very special. You see, if a person dies in the valley, their spirit can’t move on to the next realm. They remain stuck. We believe they live in caves in the mountain and are only able to roam the land at dusk.”

Aminata smiled. She didn’t know how to respond to the ridiculous tale. Why could an elder never be direct? She’d have to go through an entire procession of some age-old myth before she’d ask one of the younger adults, who’d then give her a straight answer. She bit her lower lip, regretting not going to one of the younger adults first.

“But,” Idrissa said, making a fist. “Not all the spirits in the valley are friendly. A few warriors from tribes that once ruled these lands, or warriors who attacked our very tribe, remain.”

Idrissa picked up a djembe drum near him. Softly, he tapped the beat Aminata knew well. It was the same beat she heard every evening at dusk.

Every evening.

Idrissa stopped. “That beat. These drums. They protect us during dusk. Our village has been performing the ritual ever since we first moved to the valley.”

Intrigue lit a flame in Aminata’s mind. She didn’t believe the tale. Evil ghosts roaming the land at dusk were a step too far, but she couldn’t resist asking a question, either.

“What happens if the beat isn’t played?”

“Bad things.” Idrissa placed the drum on the ground. He seemed reluctant to release his grip and his fingers trailed over the drum’s animal skin. “You see, Aminata. Not only must the djembe drums be played every night, correctly. But, there can be no area in our defense where there is silence. The wrong type of ghosts will find that spot, and…”

“Aminata. Aren’t you going to eat tonight?”

Aminta turned.

Didi, one of the elder women, stood with her hands on her hips.

“Yes,” Aminata said.

“Come then.”

“Don’t worry.” Idrissa patted her shoulder. “Tomorrow, I will have a surprise for you. I will discuss with the other elders first, but I believe you are indeed ready for the next step.”

Aminata nodded.

She followed Didi. Her stomach growled, as her mind tingled with many thoughts awakened by the old myth. She hadn’t received the truth, but she believed she’d obtain the real reason from one of the young adults. What she had received was a peculiar story. And now, she wanted to know why there was such a strange tale in the first place.

Was it covering up something else?


To read the rest of this story and thirteen

other horror music shorts, check out:

Crescendo of Darkness


Anthology Anxiety: Practical Advice

Published November 3, 2017 by admin

I had a conversation recently with some writing friends about different types of story calls and submissions, and we ended up chatting about anthologies. I’ve been in a few, I love the challenge of writing for them, but I’ve also learned a few things along the way. So pull up a chair, because it’s time for practical advice!

Follow the Guidelines

Seriously, if you take away one thing from this post, let it be this. Don’t try to be too cute, don’t give people what they’re not asking for, don’t expect people to bend anything for you.

Let’s just get it out of the way that yes, I’ve broken this one. John Hartness is never going to let me live down The Big Bad anthology call as long as I draw breath. I was working on a giant costume build at the time for the dayjob, and I ended up missing the deadline and going over word count. However – I also knew him a bit and had emailed him asking if I should still submit and stated that there was a word count issue. He told me to send things as is, so technically I’m not the only one to blame for that monstrosity of a story.

The thing is, I got super duper lucky. Incredibly lucky. NEVER do what I did if you’re going in blind and don’t have a relationship with the editor. Hell, try never to do that if you do, because that tends to tick people off. Get your word count right. Get the theme right. Get your formatting right. Pay super close attention to how they word the call. Which brings me to…

Pay attention to the unwritten rules

There’s a thing in calls that goes a little something like “while we’re mostly taking A, we won’t /not/ take B, but it’s not what we’re absolutely looking for.

Don’t presume you’re going to walk into a slot with a story about B. Unless your idea is so unusual and phenomenal and hits every other part of the theme/call well and is incredibly clean editing-wise, find an idea that goes with A. What this really means is that they’re hedging their bet that they might get a super-phenomenal story that has to do with B (or they may be talking to someone about a story about B behind the scenes. Yes, this totally happens. Get used to it.), so they can’t say they’re not taking it. Still, you’re best served sticking to the call – especially if you’re a new/unknown author. If they want contemporary, don’t go historical. If they want superhero, don’t go sword and sorcery, if they want horror, don’t go paranormal romance with a dark twist, even if there’s some loose room for genre interpretation. Same for other stuff – if they want dynamic characters, don’t rely on narration. If they want world building, don’t neglect that. Give the people what they want and use your own personal genius to fill in the blanks.

There’s a great throwaway line at the end of David Bowie’s Blue Jean video when the plot gets out of control about how he’s being too clever clever, and that term has stuck with me ever since. Seriously, don’t be too clever clever. You may think you’re being awesome and gaming the system, but you may find yourself writing your way out of a potential spot and payday.

Don’t neglect resources

If the editor/publisher mentions that they really like the work of a certain author in this anthology genre/theme and you can read something by them, by all means, do it. I’ve beta’d for people who didn’t get into certain books and it became obvious pretty fast that they were so intent on being clever that they were neglecting what the editor flat out said they liked about the genre, or neglecting other important elements (like characterization, or items of the plot that the editor really wanted to see). What I see and hear a lot of from editor friends and from my own personal experience is that there’s personal interpretation, and there’s flat out not knowing a theme/genre (or ignoring the call/resources). If the call is part of a series and you can get previous volumes, suck it up and do it. I’m not always the best at this, myself, but I can tell you it’s infinitely easier to read the sort of thing an editor likes than try to mind-meld and get that information telepathically.

I’ve also gone around googling genre terms and asking people what they mean to them, because one of the other things I’ve seen is authors misinterpreting or getting stuck on minutae or the parts of the genre that they prefer, that may not necessarily line up with the actual call. Do your homework and your life will be easier.

Plan your story for the word count

The thing that I really had to learn when writing for anthology calls was that word count was king, and there were just some things that I couldn’t do in the context of an anthology story. For Big Bad 2 I had originally wanted to pick up where the story in the first book left off – I /really/ wanted that. But it became obvious pretty quickly that my idea was much too big for an anthology story. So, I had to get creative. I stuck to the world, but went way back in the timeline, and it really served to expand my thoughts on the characters and produce some fun, vintage-inspired horror.

Change things up to work for you

When I wrote The Ruins of St. Louis for Thunder on the Battlefield, I had already done some research on sword and sorcery and had some vague ideas on how to make it my own. The structure was what really was tripping me up, though, until I remembered my high school addiction to watching Xena. While not the same genre-wise, I found that if I structured scenes like I was writing around commercial breaks, I was able to get in under the word count and still have a driving narrative with some interesting characters.

Pretty much, when I’m writing to theme, I write different than if I’m just taking off from an idea that’s popped into my head. It’s a different type of writing for me that takes more structuring. I had to really go through scene by scene with my Sherlock Holmes story, for curious incidents because there were so many stipulations to that call, it wasn’t necessarily in my comfort zone, and I’m a horrific overachiever sometimes. At the end of the day, it took me streamlining my scenes and really focusing on how to reduce the details and still show characterization. You may think 8-10k is a lot (or however many words your given), but when you get going, it’s hard to stop. I have to get really nuts and bolts in my anthology story planning, or else I’d drive myself bonkers (and still sometimes do, anyway).

Give yourself time

You want at least enough time to edit your first draft. Don’t send the first draft in, please. i’ve been there, I’ve done it, I’m always mortified when I get the edits back on those stories if I get accepted. Edit your story. Edit it again. Really go through, not just for line edits, but for content. Does your story hit the right notes and fit well within the theme? Are your characters conveyed well? Do all your details line up? I have a horrible habit of changing the amount of kids my characters have midway through stories, so I always have a list of details I’m double checking. Make sure all your names stay the same, places are what you want them to be, etc. Reduce your stress and plan so you can take the time you need. Instead of spending time in advance worrying about a call, talking about it, daydreaming about it, whatever, use that time to research (but don’t fall down a research hole), pound out your first draft, then finesse the hell out of it. That way you can also double and triple check your formatting and get your cover letter and bio all nice and neat without a panic attack.

Don’t get too upset if you don’t get in

While I’ve taken part in a decent amount of anthologies, I also get turned down a lot. Them’s the breaks. However, it means that I have that many more stories in my arsenal for other things. It’s also why I tend to not write for every anthology call that I come across, and really pick and choose what I want to submit to. These sorts of calls can stress me out for some reason, so I want to make sure it’s with people I want to work with or there’s going to be some good benefits going forward. Like anything, you live and learn, but I’ve also learned to not beat myself up over something that has a limited amount of spots, anyway. It’s all a marathon, not a sprint. Like dating, sometimes you just don’t mesh with a call or a publisher, so you can’t take that to heart. Take your story, dust it off, and see where else it might fit.

So how bout you guys? Do you like writing for anthology calls? Are there certain genres or themes that you look for or prefer?






Southern Haunts 3: An interview with Alexander S. Brown

Published May 8, 2016 by admin


It’s blog tour time! Today I have an interview with not only a fantastic editor and author, but one of my favorite people and podcasting co-host. But first, ze book.


Amazon           B&N

Genres/Subgenres: Horror, Short Story, Paranormal, Occult, Folklore/Southern Regional

Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.

From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.

These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.


Alexander S. Brown

Angela Lucius

  1. H. David Blalock

C G Bush

Della West

Diane Ward

Elizabeth Allen

Greg McWhorter

John Hesselberg

Jonnie Sorrow

Kalila Smith

Linda DeLeon

Louise Myers

Melissa Robinson

Melodie Romeo

J L Mulvihill

Robert McGough

Tom Lucas


SJ: Tell us about SH3.  What makes it unique compared to 1&2?

ASB: Actually, each vol. of Southern Haunts is unique, as the subjects vary with each book.  Vol 1. Spirits that Walk Among Us, focused on ghosts.  Vol 2. Devils in the Darkness, featured on demonic entities.  Vol 3. Magick Beneath the Moonlight, regards witchcraft and cursed objects.

SJ: Why witches?  What attracts you to the theme?

ASB: I have always been attracted to the occult.  I find the whole subject fascinating and since Spirits that Walk Among Us was published, it was only a matter of time before we released an anthology about magickal persons.  But for this to happen, I had to wait.

For vol. 3 to be about witches, there is a great significance to the vol. number and the subject matter.  In the occult, there is the belief that what one puts out into the world comes back to them in triple abundance.  Also, in paganism, the maiden, the mother and the crone are recognized and honored as a trinity. These reasons are specifically why this vol. could be none other than occult related.

SJ: What makes for a good southern horror story?

ASB: Multiple elements can make a good southern horror story, such as elaborating about the habitat, cultural development, history, verbiage, and so forth.  But personally for me, what makes a southern horror story great, is the way that it is told.

Many times during childhood, I had found myself at family gatherings and I would overhear elderly relatives speak of infamous legends from the region.  The richness of their slang and phrases, made their ghost stories all the more horrifying, because it seemed more personal.  It seemed like the story tellers weren’t utilizing proper words and phrases to identify something infamous, they were using an age old southern dialect that seemed even more tangible.

SJ: Why do you think readers gravitate to themed horror like this, especially in short form?

ASB: I think the majority of readers are under attack from having a short attention span.  Because of life being so hectic, short stories can allow readers to enjoy complete stories in minimal time.  With the subjects being themed, it lets the reader know immediately what they are in store for.  This can result in a quicker purchase.  For example: Southern Haunts 3 is about witches, the title and cover image are self-explanatory.  If the reader loves witches, they are more likely to purchase.  If that reader is not a fan of magickal themed stories, then perhaps Southern Haunts vol. 1 or 2 is more their preference.

SJ: What are the benefits of anthologies?  Any downside?

The biggest benefit for an anthology is that it presents readers with a diversity of authors who they may not have read before.  This works well for the author because it can help them gain new fans.

The downside to anthologies is that no one really makes money, as book royalties are normally split between 15 to 20 creators.

SJ: Was it different wearing the editor hat compared to being an author?

ASB: It was quite different.  After finishing Southern Haunts vol. 1, I had a new respect for editors.  To me, writing is simple and relaxing, editing is time consuming and feels like work.  Although I prefer writing more than editing, editing the Southern Haunts series has improved my writing skills.

SJ:What is the best thing about putting a book like this together?  The most difficult?

ASB: The best thing about constructing an anthology is seeing likeminded authors come together and submit their creativity.  It is a good feeling to know that other names in the profession want to work with you and contribute stories that might have been stuck in their head for quite some time.

The downside is when I have to reject stories.  I can understand how an author might think that it’s so easy for an editor to dismiss a story, and this isn’t the case.  For me, sending a rejection email, hurts me just as much as it does the author.

SJ: Any advice to authors who are interested in submitting to anthologies?

ASB: First, research the publisher before you submit.

SJ: Second, follow the guidelines.  Sometimes guidelines are overly specific with their requirements, even down to spacing, font, and letter size.  Obey all of these rules.  A lot of times, editors will use these demands as ways to see if the author payed attention, or cares about their work.

SJ: What’s next for Southern Haunts? For you as an author?

ASB: For Southern Haunts vol. 4, we are anticipating creature stories.  We haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will follow the theme of its predecessors, but with monsters.

I have a few books that are in the works.  One of which is in the final edit stage, and is being published by Pro Se Press, this will be a collection of Halloween stories called The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.  I have one story left to write before Traumatized pt 2 is complete, and The Looking Glass Creatures is currently undergoing a massive edit.


Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Visit,, and to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.


Getting Started: Anthologies

Published April 15, 2016 by admin

This goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post, which is why I’m yammering about it here. So you want to get started writing stories, but you just have no idea what to write? You’re overwhelmed looking at magazine listings but don’t have a novel in you yet?

May I make a suggestion? Anthologies.

About half of you just knee-jerked and threw holy water at me and the other half of you fist-pumped in the air. I get it. It’s divisive territory. Here’s the thing: you probably aren’t going to make a ton of money off the antho market.

The thing is, though, is that you will reach different types of readers. Exposure isn’t a dirty word, especially if you’re making some money off it here and there. And if you’re a brand new author and need some credits, this is a great way to learn to write for a market.

Everything is an anthology these days. Seriously. I’ve seen anthologies for genres (horror, sword and sorcery, sci-fi), I’ve seen them for themes (gaming, vampires, halloween, faeries), I’ve seen them for what would happen if you went on a honey moon with a paranormal creature or had a paranormal creature as a teacher. The territory is endless. They also usually feature small word counts (anywhere from 3k to 10k, depending), and force you to be specific. They’ll also get you used to working with an editor and all the other little ins and outs of the publishing world.

I love and hate the small word counts and rigid themes, personally, but that’s my problem. I love a challenge but I don’t always like to be made to behave. Story of my life.

These tend to be more specific than a magazine market, they get you out of your comfort zone and may get you breaking bad habits or doing things that you wouldn’t naturally include in your usual bag o’ tricks. Sometimes you’ll luck into a higher paying one on a listing. As you do more and get more published, you’ll slowly get invites to these things, which is nice (though my editors may think otherwise).

I’ve had some of my more intriguing ideas come from anthology submissions, and it’s nice to be put through my paces on occasion. Plus, this seems to be where a lot of people get to know my work. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve read me in something then started getting into my standalone work. You just never know.


Comic Review Roundup

Published December 2, 2015 by admin

So along with people foolishly inviting my writer-type opinions on their sites, I’ve been invited to guest review for the awesome blog I Smell Sheep. And more than once, too!

Seriously, this is something that’s been a ton of fun so far. While it’s still my policy to not officially review small press or indie books (obviously I still give my general thoughts on library books in my SJ Reads posts), I’m all about reviewing comics and movies if someone’s going to enable me. While I do read a few superhero titles, I have a passion for the fact that graphic novels can really tell stories in a unique way – from realistic titles like Persepolis, The Property, Fun House, or something meant to mirror reality like Maus, to epic stories like Sandman or horror titles like Locke & Key. There are some truly unique titles out there that aren’t getting the love they deserve or people may not know unless they specifically follow a certain title or publisher, so I love the chance to discover new titles and share them with others.

Since these were done for the I Smell Sheep Blog, I’ll spare you full reviews and link you to the actual ones. I’ll have to divide this up because I’ve actually done more than I realized, but here’s the first batch.

Dark Horse Comics Presents # 15 – Admittedly one of the reasons I jumped on board was because I knew the blog had an in with Dark Horse and I had just discovered Finder and I love it with an unholy passion. So when this title came up and featured serialized Finder, I was ready to fight to the bitter end for it. Truly, though, every story in this issue was fantastic and has opened me up to some other titles I can’t wait to check out.

Dead Vengeance 1 -A carnival sideshow act comes to life and tries to figure out who he really is. A lot of flashbacking, but a really interesting set up that reminds me of the older Creepy and Eerie titles.

Dead Vengeance 2 – More information on John Dover’s tragic past, as well as a unique allusion to a possible time travel element, plus it takes us back to the carnival!

Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 1 – Love this. So ridiculous in the best possible ways. Dr. Zomboss tries to take over town with some help from the future…and a metal butt. Brings to mind a lot of the Saturday morning cartoons I used to love watching.

Love Hurts: The Complete Love Hurts (Horrifying Tales of Romance) – Translated from a Swiss comic, I believe, this is amazing. I love this thing. A collection of short stories that blend horror and romance elements, these are twisted, warped, insightful, emotional, and just so inventive I can’t stand it. Loved.






#FallInto Horror – Rie Sheridan Rose

Published September 27, 2015 by admin

Today brings focus to Rie Sheridan Rose, who always has keen insights on the horror genre and what makes a horror story work!


Welcome to Fall Into Horror with Mocha Memoirs Press!

Mocha Memoirs Press is celebrating the new Fall season by showcasing their love of horror and the authors who write it. Please welcome RIE SHERIDAN ROSE as she shares her thoughts on fall and horror.


Writing horror is about exploring the visceral as opposed to the ephemeral. I really enjoy writing fantasy and Steampunk, but writing horror gives you the chance to explore a completely different set of parameters. What lies beneath the conventions of society and humanity the underbelly of the world. There is something satisfying about looking beneath the expected societal norms €”and it is more politically correct to do it on paper. In horror, you can be a serial killer, you can plan a murder, you can be a vampire or a zombie or kill them if you prefer.

It is a chance to embrace all your darker impulses. The freedom to be as vicious and cruel as you want without actually hurting anyone. And it is a great way to take out your frustrations with life and people without doing something you will regret later.

Since you are speculating in the deepest sense of the word (I hope) you can explore situations like I do in my story, Bloody Rain where one possible solution to the Jack the Ripper mystery is considered that I had personally never seen before—and hope you find interesting if you choose to look into it.

Let me walk you through an example. My story in The Grotesquerie House Call€ began from an idea that I had when I overheard a young man in scrubs on his cell phone. I don’€™t remember what he actually said, but it got my imagination working. Who was on the other end of the line? Why was it important that this young man talk to him/her? What difference would it make to his life if he were rejected by whomever he was talking to?

I decided he was talking to a doctor he wished to work with in a clinic. Okay, what was the next logical thing to know? What did the doctor say?

The doctor rejected him.

What was the next logical step? Because he was on the phone so long, he was late getting back to work and was fired.

His life was going downhill fast.

What would be the result? He sees a news report that the doctor will be opening a free clinic for hurricane victims. He decides to go volunteer to help.

The doctor rejects him again.

And then

So, the key to writing horror is to take an incident and look at what can happen as a result of that incident, the most twisted, dark, possibly unnatural, but logical conclusion you can think of.

Zombies appear in your neighborhood. What happens next? That is the basis of horror.





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Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC is a genre-oriented publishing company. Their vision is to provide an outlet for outstanding speculative and romance stories that often fall beneath the radar of traditional publishing houses. They seek to provide quality stories that invigorate the reader’s literary palette like a good, strong coffee. Like great coffee houses, they offer a variety of flavors. They publish stories in the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance, including the sub-genres of steampunk, cyberpunk, diesel punk, alternate history, weird westerns, and mash-ups.


Excerpt: Real Wild Childe (or street vamps falling in love)

Published September 12, 2015 by admin

I do a lot of writing in anthologies, and this is probably one of my favorite pieces that has shown up in them. It also apparently made John Hartness lose his ever-loving mind and not hunt me down for breaking all his rules, so there’s that, too. This is one of those stories that incorporated some older work I’d played around with early on and hadn’t done anything with. I’m hoping eventually the characters in this story will get their own longer work, but we’ll see.

Rave and Asha are vampire siblings on the run from their sire, While she wants to settle down and settle the score once and for all, Rave is in love with the bad boy lifestyle. When a confrontation becomes unavoidable…Asha decides to go shopping. It’s after breaking in a local Addington dress shop that Rave meets Sin, a human who’s completely different than the vampire fangirls he takes pleasure in killing. Unfortunately, he’s not sure how to deal with how much she’s piqued his interest, and it isn’t exactly the most convenient time…

This bit is from the middle of the story, a nice little exchange as vamp and human try to wrap their minds round each other. And yes, while technically you could say the story has romantic elements, it is definitely put through the Selah filter, which means the actual ending of the story will pull the rug out from under you and no one is safe. Heh.


For two nights they kept Sin company while she worked. At first Rave had stayed only to make sure Asha didn’t try to walk away with half the inventory—or at least that’s what he told himself. Maybe it was a girl thing, maybe he’d just been expecting more chit-chat, but sewing was really freakin’ boring to watch. He couldn’t even relax with a good skin mag for fear Asha would read him the riot act, and he’d be damned if he’d sit there watching Sin mumble to herself and fuss with fabric doing whatever weird sewing voodoo that was required. Maybe Asha cared, but he didn’t. The only saving grace was that Sin shared his taste in music. When she’d gotten him into a debate about the merits of G’NR vs. Aerosmith, he’d been intrigued, but then she’d gotten lost in her work and went back to ignoring him.

It shouldn’t have rankled him so much. What did he care if she ignored him? She was doing her job and she had nothing to do with him! Still, her sitting there so alive yet so oblivious was infuriating. In retrospect, going out to make a few kills and work off some tension probably wasn’t the best idea, especially since he re-entered the small shop trailing blood and a few leftover chunks of intestine, but nobody was perfect. Better Sin understood what had come calling on her doorstep so she could be properly scared instead of…whatever it was she felt.

That was the other thing: she just didn’t react to him! He’d always gotten the girl right off the bat, had always known what to say to get legs and throat open. Fine. She wants to be all calm and aloof? Let her deal with this! Rave smirked as he trudged into the back room, boots squelching. At this rate I won’t have to feed for a week, he mused. He stretched contentedly before flopping onto the small couch that sat beside the large square cutting table and the small counter of sewing machines. He wriggled when his shirt and jeans rode against his skin like a swimming suit after a long day at the pool, and purposefully made a big deal of getting comfortable.

Sin didn’t look up once. She was bent over the machine, her full lips pursed into a slight frown. She had a mouth that could do a lot of good as a human woman or a lot of damage if she’d been undead. Stop it! Where the hell did that come from? You don’t notice things like that! She’s cattle and a chick, so she’s good for two things. Well, three if you count sewing.

“I never realized making a dress took so much time,” he finally offered. He wasn’t one for real conversation, but it beat sitting there playing warden or babysitter.

“It does if you want to get it right. And since I don’t want to see my insides on my outside, I figure I’d better get it right,” she mumbled, teeth clenched around a mess of straight pins.

Rave admired her focus and attention to detail. Still, he’d been around long enough to know that most obsessive people didn’t obsess without a reason. “Not everyone does. A lot of people these days just bust somethin’ out and figure someone’ll pay for it. What’ve you got to prove?”

Sin’s shoulders raised and her face momentarily crumbled in on itself. She carefully spit the pins onto the counter and glanced up at him. “Look, I get that you’ll probably kill me when this is over. It’s what you do. I just want you to know so you don’t think I’m spillin’ my guts to you for no reason. You think I like working for a self-important has-been in a nowhere town?”

“Then why do it?” Rave asked and squished back into the couch cushions. He made no attempt to correct her assumption; he hadn’t figured out what he was going to do with her afterwards, himself. “The pay can’t be that great. Dalia keeps you hidden. You obviously aren’t selling a lot in a place like this.”

“I do okay online. But…D has contacts from back in the day. She could set me up if she saw something in me. She probably never will, but…I need to work my way up somehow. I don’t want people to think…” Sin paused and bit her lip. “I made some mistakes when I was younger. I wanted to get out and see the world, so I took a gig dressing a local band. Not local to here—I grew up in St. Louis. It didn’t occur to me that they could pick their own clothes and I’d been brought on for other reasons until I was there and decided to…make the most of the lifestyle.”

Interesting. Now that was a tidbit worth perking up for. “So you’re afraid to go back to those contacts because you want to be seen as a designer and not—”

“Yeah, she admitted and sighed. “I just feel stuck. Dalia’s so in love with Dalia and her own version of small town haute couture that nothing else matters. I think she gets off on baiting me with the promise of bigger things, full-well knowing she’s not gonna do it. I’d kill to have her address book,” she sighed and ran a hand through her short hair. The delicate two-toned spikes rippled under her fingers and Rave found his own hands clenching against the urge to see if they were soft and supple against his hands or hard from product. “I hate being caught like this.”

“You do good work,” he offered. Why the hell am I bothering to be nice to her? I should be out raising hell or plotting a way to take down Amanda, not comforting some random human who probably wouldn’t even make a good blood slave. It was bad enough he hadn’t spared Amanda a thought in the last two days, but to occupy his thoughts with a random human girl? Not his style.

“I know,” she agreed. It wasn’t an arrogant comment by any means, just an acknowledgement of her effort and potential. “But it’s all about connections. No one cares if you’re killing yourself to make something amazing. I guess I’m getting used to no one noticing and I don’t like that.”

“I’ve noticed.” Sin looked up with a surprise that Rave felt, himself. They stared at each other, neither one able to come up with a reply.

“Your sister’s gone out to feed or hunt or whatever you call it,” Sin finally offered and turned back to the machine. “Or is it gettin’ lucky?” she added with a wry smile.

How long had it been since met a girl with a similar sense of humor? “Depends on the day,” he admitted. “She’ll be back soon.”

“She’s sweet. A good kid.”

He snorted. “One of the few times I’ve ever heard her called that.” He shifted his weight. There was already a sizeable stain underneath him. “Sorry ‘bout the mess.”

Sin shrugged and grabbed up a different color thread. “I smelled you when you came in. I figure it’s what you do. It’s all good as long as it’s not me.” She paused and bit her lip. “Is it hard to kill?”

It was Rave’s turn to stop and think. She’s got balls, that’s for sure. “At first it was. We were turned in the fifties, so it was a different set of rules then. It took a long time to get out from under that way of thinkin’. After a while it’s not hard.” He pressed on at her tentative expression. “Haven’t you ever gotten so fed up at petty people or all the little, stupid things they do? Isn’t there someone that’s gotten under your skin and made your blood boil so bad you can’t think of anything else? You just have to focus on that until it becomes habit. Then, it’s just like sittin’ down to dinner.” He expected her to be put off by his flippant attitude, was almost looking forward to it. While she considered it, Sin didn’t look particularly disgusted.

“I guess that makes sense,” she finally admitted. “I guess it’s something anyone could get used to if they wanted to.” In all his years Rave had never had anyone agree with his philosophy, especially not someone who could easily become his next meal. “So are you looking forward to this party thing, then?”

He snorted. “No.”

Sin blinked and tried to smile, though the look on his face killed her efforts pretty quick. “C’mon. A party with your own kind? That must be fun.”

He stared down at the little puddles oozing out of his boots. “I’ll look forward to seeing Amanda dead on the floor in front of me. If that happens, I’ll have a blast.”

“Is that like a thing, to hate your sire?” He could have gutted her for even trying to pursue the conversation; he probably should’ve. Things had gotten way out of hand fast. Still, she’d shown him hers, so to speak…

“She’s a psycho. Remember, it was the fifties. People were getting edgy about the Cold War and were desperate for ways to avoid any doomsday threat.” The actual memories were blurred out by decades of hard living, but the emotions still stung deep.

“You were turned to survive nuclear fallout?” Sin whispered, horrified. “Would that even work?”

Rave shrugged and twisted a chunky ring he’d acquired from one of his victims. “People thought it would. No one really knows for sure. It was yet another way to preserve the American Dream. Keep your family close and instill your values for all eternity. Or something.” He hesitated.  “Amanda got interested into that line of thinking, went to meetings, and decided to sign us up.”

“But why would some random…wait…” Sin trailed off, looking up from the fabric in her hands at last. Rave nodded at the realization in her eyes. “She’s your mother?!”


For more of Rave, Sin, and Asha, be sure to check out their full story in…

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Everybody loves bad guys, and these are some of the baddest of them all. Forget the rules. There aren’t any heroes. No one is going to save you from the wickedness in the darkness. Monster hunters can easily become the hunted. Twisted perverts can find themselves on the receiving end of their own deviant desires. No matter how big and bad someone or something may be, there is always something bigger and badder just waiting. Even the classics like a dragon, werewolf, or supernatural being can fall victim to something even more evil. Take a peek, if you dare, inside the malevolent world of super-villains, monsters, demons and just plain evil folk. Be careful, what you see there might be disturbingly familiar …

Real Wild Childe

Rave isn’t interested in examining his soul or atoning for his misdeeds. He’s a bad boy vampire and determined to enjoy every kill. The only romance he’s interested in is the kind that gets him laid before getting his fangs into an artery. Unfortunately, he and his sister, Asha, are on the run from someone older, someone that they barely escaped once. To make matters worse, Asha is determined that they settle down in Addington, Indiana, once and for all.  When an unfortunate invitation leads them to Sin, resident outsider and human seamstress, Rave’s life is about to get a lot more complicated as he struggles to sort out his feelings and decide if he’s finally ready to grow up and stand his ground. To read an excerpt, go here