Category Archives: Feature Articles

Cover Reveal & Giveaway for Halloween Season by Lucy A. Snyder. Trick-or-Treat with Us for Cool Gifts! RT pls. #halloween #halloweenseason #RDSP

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Every Day is Halloween

Halloween decor is in select stores, and though we are still “enjoying” summer, October is just around the corner. Today I have a cool cover reveal of a new Halloween story collection and giveaway as part of Trick-or-Treating adventure, which means some of you may be dropping by from social media or another site, but let me give a little background for my subscribers as well.

Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP) is an award-winning indie press of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, crime, and more that I’ve worked with in regards to PR and publicity for several years via my business Hook of a Book. One of the exciting authors I get to work with published by them is a fellow Ohio author, the multi award-winning Lucy A. Snyder. On Oct. 5, 2020 we are excited to say that RDSP is releasing a collection of stories by Snyder for Halloween called…. you guessed it, Halloween Season!

Whether Halloween in person festivities are canceled this year due to Covid (so do your duty so we can all have fun this Fall, will you?) or not, you can always partake in some online escapades. For instance, let’s start a bit early with RDSP in a digital rounds of trick-or- treating to celebrate the reveal of the seasonal cover created by artist Lynne Hansen of Halloween Season!

How Trick-or-Treating Works – 

There are five houses to visit on this block: author Lucy A. Snyder, cover designer Lynne Hansen, mine here at Hook of a Book, co-owner of RDSP and author John Edward Lawson, and Raw Dog Screaming Press. Visit any of them first and feast your eyes on the amazing cover created by Hansen, then pick up a different “treat” (or giveaway) from each post also featuring the cover reveal. Keep reading to check out my giveaway and the other stops below…. after we meet the artist and see the cool cover.

But first….

Meet the artist, Lynne Hansen – 

RDSP was looking for a cover that captured all things Halloween and turned to artist Lynne Hansen. “I have over fifteen years of experience in marketing and promotions including art and design,” Hansen said. “I started creating book covers when my husband Jeff Strand decided to make his humorous horror novel The Sinister Mr. Corpse available as an e-book. Once people saw Jeff’s next e-book Wolf Hunt, I started to receive requests to design covers for other authors. Now I get to tell other people’s stories through the art of the book cover and I love every minute of it.” For more info about Lynne head over to LynneHansenArt.com and make sure to browse her gallery.

So without further ado, here’s the cover!

HalloweenSeasonByLucyASnyderlowres

Cool and festive, right? Excited as much as I am now?

Halloween Season launches October 5th but you can preorder now!

Order from RDSPOrder from Barnes & NobleOrder from Amazon

Media Requests – 

If you are a member of the media or reviewer, I’m also happy to put you on the list for e-arcs or print copies, just let me know! I’ll also be sending requests, but do feel free to let me know also either in the comments or to my e-mail. Also, I’m scheduling Lucy for select interviews as well.

Now look at this FULL SPREAD! 

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About Halloween Season – 

Halloween is the most wonderful part of the year for many of us. For dedicated fans, the season begins when the leaves start turning autumn colors and doesn’t finish until Hallowtide ends in November. With it comes a whole lot of fun: scary movies and stories, haunted houses, seasonal sweets, spooky decorations, costume parties, and of course trick or treat. But Halloween is also a deeply spiritual time for some; it’s an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on.

Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty.

One of the best things about Halloween is you don’t have to be yourself. So go ahead and try on a new mask or two … you may discover hidden talents as a witch, a pirate, a space voyager, a zombie fighter, or even an elf. This is the perfect collection to celebrate the season of the dead or to summon those heady autumn vibes whenever you like. You may even find a couple of tales that evoke a certain winter holiday that keeps trying to crowd in on the fun.

In the worlds within this book, every day is Halloween!

Trick or Treat Giveaways – 

Now for the goodies! Thanks for participating in our trick-or-treat cover reveal!

My Giveaway –

1) I’m offering to one (1) US winner a copy of one of my favorite autumn poems I’ve written, previously published online at Spillwords Press, BUT this would be a hand-lettered original, probably with a little original art on the border to follow the theme. It will be signed. This is one of a kind! Please leave a comment below or e-mail me (hookofabook at hotmail dot com) to be entered.

2) For both US and international, if you e-mail me, I will send all who contact me a .pdf for you to download that you can print of the original mentioned above. It will have my digital signature.

This giveaway I open from July 23 to July 31, 2020. Entries after that won’t be considered but feel free to comment anytime.

Head to ALL the Stops –

Visit all the houses on the block to collect all the treats. Here are the current stops and treats:

  • Stop #1 Lucy A. Snyder (excerpt from Halloween Season)
  • Stop #2 Cover artist Lynne Hansen (printable bookmark)
  • Stop #3 Raw Dog Screaming Press (postcard promo pack)
  • Stop #4 Hook of Book publicist Erin Sweet Al Mehairi (that’s me! You’re here. See above about a signed, hand-lettered Halloween poem)
  • Stop #5 John Edward Lawson (Halloween card and story)

Lucy A. Snyder, Biography –

Lucy3Lucy A. Snyder is the five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of over 100 published short stories and 14 books. Chaosium will release her novel The Girl With the Star-Stained Soulsometime in 2021. She also wrote the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, and Switchblade Goddess, the nonfiction book Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide, and the collections Garden of Eldritch Delights, While the Black Stars Burn, Soft Apocalypses, Orchid Carousals, Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has been translated into French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Czech, and Japanese editions and has appeared in publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and Best Horror of the Year.

With Michael Bailey, Lucy also co-edited the critically-acclaimed collaborative dark fiction anthology Chiral Mad 4. When she’s not writing, she’s faculty in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction and also works as a freelance developmental editor in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @LucyASnyder.

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Thanks for stopping! Did you say TRICK-OR-TREAT!? Don’t forget to enter to win.

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Hooked on Poetry: How We’re Celebrating Poetry Month #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry

Hooked on Poetry Project Announcement: Join Us to Celebrate –

Erin Al-Mehairi PhotoApril is National Poetry Month, and for several years now I’ve been featuring and publishing poetry as well as various posts from the world of poets and poetry, such as reviews of collections, articles about poets or writing poetry, and interviews with poets. I love that more and more people are reading and appreciating it.

Firstly, why do I write, love, and feature poetry? Do you think it’s something you can’t enjoy or relate to? Many people find, especially with dark poetry, that they can enjoy the raw emotions and like the references to fairytales, mythology, feminism, spirituality (whatever that means to the person), exploration of life and death, or deep and dark ponderings. I’ve had many people tell me with my own work that they had never read poetry till they took a chance on mine and found it relatable and understandable. I know several other dark poets that has happened for as well. I write poetry and feature it because it’s really the most emotional part of the writing process. It’s the truest and most visceral form of writing scenes and emotional snippets of life. Poetry can say so much with little words. We talk through our writing, share our experiences, and learn and connect to each other.

There are all sorts of styles represented just in dark or horror poetry alone, and with it, and often fantasy and science fiction mixes in. However, some of us write other poetry as well: for loved ones, about milestones in life, nature, or love.

Seeing me struggle during this time, Gavin at Kendall Reviews kindly stepped up to help me with shares and hosting for this project, so between his site at Kendall Reviews and mine at Hook of a Book, I’m partnering with him to publish some of the poetry project, called HOOKED ON POETRY. I’m so very thankful to him not only for stepping up to help, but his kindness in reaching out to me. You’ll find mostly both horror and dark poetry in this project but some of the other aforementioned as well. You’ll most likely only find the dark poetry on Kendall Reviews though, to keep with his theme. At Hook of a Book, I feature all types of poetry and genres of books. It’s a great partnership.

HookedOnPoetry

I would have liked it to have been the entire month of April, but as you know the world has been a fly trapped in a tube lately, meaning things have been chaotic and no matter how hard we flap our wings, it’s hard to get anywhere. I like to beat myself up, but I have decided I will not! I work full-time in various facets of publishing, am seemingly on-call from that work at all hours, am a writer myself, and have a busy household without a pandemic (which isn’t in the best of times always conducive to me getting a lot of writing, reviewing, or volunteer projects done after work), but throw in a pandemic and a world gone mad over it, and some days I’m wondering if I’m just treading water… or knock knock… if my brain is still working properly. I’ve not been well mentally or physically lately either so I’m doing the best I can.

I worked during early April asking poets I know and love for submissions, and also did an open call on Twitter from which I’ve had great response and many submissions sent to me. There is some outstanding work here by both established and award-winning poets and also those just getting started. I’m thrilled with the talent that has come my way. I’m excited to publish this poetry and feel that it’s so important poetry still have its voice and time to shine, and so nothing will stop me, even if I must take this throughout part of May. I often already publish poetry for mental health awareness month so I think this will fit in just fine as poetry not only often deal with these issues but can be used to heal and mend. This is a voluntary project, poetry is awesome anytime, and I’m attempting to not worry over timing. So, let’s just celebrate art and those who make it. To those that couldn’t contribute this year, we will miss you and hope to see you back. To new people who are being featured, welcome! To readers, new and old, thanks for joining us.

Starting this week, watch for poetry, reviews of poetry, and articles on poetry to appear on both our sites. I won’t give myself the headache of putting together a schedule to release beforehand, so watch for the posts and learn who is featured via social media. I’m still waiting for a few to turn theirs in as well and I’m cool with people popping up and taking part (just message me). A full schedule with links will be posted afterwards on the poetry page on my site – Oh, for the Hook of a Book – where you can also view poetry from the previous years.

I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.” – Edgar Allan Poe

Thanks for joining us! Thanks to Gavin and Kendall Reviews for partnering with me. Your support of poetry means so much.

Erin Al-Mehairi
Hooked on Poetry Project
Editor/PR Professional/Owner Hook of Book Media
Twitter: @ErinAlMehairi

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Happy Dr. Suess, Read Across America, and Reading Month! Reading Lists, Memories, and More. #NationalReadAcrossAmerica #NationalReadingMonth #HappyBirthdayDrSuess

Today is the National Dr. Suess and National Read Across America Day in honor of his birthday! Nine years ago on this blog I was talking about remembering how much Dr. Suess inspired me as a child and the activities to promote reading I was doing with  my own kids (and what you could do with yours!). It’s amazing how much my kids have grown just in the last decade to be their own functioning adult (my son is 20), teen (my daughter is 16), and almost teen (my daughter is 12) now. How did this happen?

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I can only safely assume that lessons learned from the books and the Cat in the Hat show created lifelong mottos for them, and as well, the time I spent reading and taking them to the library is what created in all of them a life of loving books (and still loving libraries where they go – “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”  – and my son went off to D.C. where he frequently can be found in the greatest libraries ever like Library of Congress, Folgers Shakespeare Library, and Mount Vernon. My son recently told me, “I’m only in college here for one major reason other than you, and that’s growing up at the library.” AWWWW!! That’s a huge win for libraries.

Thank you, Dr. Suess for making reading fun and thank you to one of local libraries (Ashland Public Library) for hosting so many well-loved activities for my children when they were young! Happy birthday and may  your legacy live on in so many other homes and childhoods.

This weekend, instead of going to Dr. Suess activities for young children at the library or bookstore, and have people stare at me for being the only adult there without kids (reliving my memories people!!), I instead enjoyed on Sunday a “Sam-I-Am” special latte which was white chocolate and peanut butter. Shout out to Medina’s Cool Beans Café, whose whole special coffee menu was named with a Dr. Suess theme! Oh, and on the foodie critic side, it was delish as was their homemade tomato soup.

Cool Beans Suess

And on a writing note, Dr. Suess really paved the way for some of us who are poets, at  least me, with his use of language! To this day, I make up words too. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. haha! I remember one day when my middle daughter was young (second grade maybe) and she was reading “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” She told me that it was the first one he wrote and it was rejected at twenty-seven publishers until one took a chance on him. Wise then, to never give up on your dreams!

So many good Dr. Suess books to name but I love The Lorax. What is your favorite Dr. Suess book or character? Leave comments below!

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March also is National Reach Across America Month? Here, in our home and in my work and online word, we read all the time, as I’m sure you do too. But we can never miss a chance to celebrate reading. Whether you’re reading this now with small children or your children are grown and you have grandchildren or other small children in your lives, I hope you continue to offer children’s literatures to whomever you can. One of my best loved jobs was being a reference librarian for a time. Though it was adult reference, we often had to help children in the evenings. I loved recommending them books and seeing the joy and wonderment on their faces. Opening doors through reading is one of the best things you can do for child.

If you have children, here are some links that might help some of you enjoy the month with activities and some reading lists. Enjoy!

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First of all, go to Suessville. It’s the website for Dr. Suess and loads of fun!

My post from 2011 about Dr. Suess’ birthday and activities to do HERE.

Read Across America Main Site – Make sure you go the bottom of first page for reading lists for various parts of the month!

Multiples and More Site – Read Across America Activity Ideas

17 Easy Ways to Enjoy NRM – E-Book Friendly Website

ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) Lists!

For MA or YA horror selections, find some at Ladies of Horror Fiction HERE.

From We Are Teachers website: 32 Inspiring Books for Women’s History Month

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And now, enjoy some photos of my kids celebrating Dr. Suess way back when. I’m sure there are many more (and didn’t quickly find any of my son, my oldest) but these are the ones came up in my social media memories today. I’m also sure my daughters will want to ring my neck for sharing them. haha!

Oh the places Suess

Addie Suess

My youngest was 4 here, I think!

Emma Suess

My middle daughter. Not sure how old she was here, but I think 2nd grade. Now she’s a sophomore in high school!

Addie Suess 2

My youngest again. When she was the last one not in school and I took her to the library for the programming during the week. Look at that face and the hands ARE on her hips. Ha!

Happy reading this month everyone! March is a busy month for reading dates so I’m sure you’ll hear much more from me. Stay tuned!

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Guest Article: Seeing Doubles by Gothic Fiction Author Tracy Fahey #WiHM #womeninhorror #gothic

Welcome back to another segment in the small Women in Horror (WiHM) Series I’m running as we prepare to usher out February. Today, I have a guest article from Irish Gothic writer Tracy Fahey. I think most of you know how I myself feel about Gothic work, both in my own reading, writing, and study. I’m all in, so I’m pleased to present this to readers on my site today.

In 2017, Tracy’s debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. In 2019, her short story, ‘That Thing I Did’ received an Honourable Mention by Ellen Datlow in her The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, with five stories on Datlow’s Recommended Reading list for 2019. Her short fiction is published in over twenty-five Irish, US, and UK anthologies. She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in edited collections and journals.

Today, she talks about the lastest installment of her work and her infatuation with doubles. That’s right, check this out twice if you find that uncanny. Join us!

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Unheimlich Manoeuvres: Doubling Up On The Uncanny
by Tracy Fahey, author of Unheimlich Manoeuvres

I’m obsessed with doubles. They fascinate me. Doppelgängers. Twins. Fetches. Reflections. Mirror images. In a world where so much is made of the virtue of individuality, what is more terrifying than the idea that you exist elsewhere? Or the notion that you are somehow (even worse) divided within yourself? This is something that’s been a recurrent theme in my writing. In March 2020 my publishers, the Sinister Horror Company are releasing two collections, the third, deluxe edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre and the chapbook Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both of which explore the idea of the uncanny double. But why this fascination? It’s been a long-running obsession.

As a child I followed Alice through the looking glass into the shadow-world beyond, and consequently spent hours in front of my own bathroom mirror, watching my image closely for signs of tell-tale deviation. As a teenager I devoured Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde and savoured the queer thrill that came from contemplating a truly double life; one where the very self was sundered and broken, one where the self was plunged in a morass of unease, unable to even remember what the divided self had done. Later I would become absorbed in Ira Levin’s tales of replaced women (Stepford Wives) and clones (The Boys From Brazil). Movies fed and continue to feed this obsession with uncanny doubles: Invasion of the Body Snatchers with its narratives of paranoia and pod-people, Coraline, the sublimely uncanny tale of a doubled, ‘other’ world. More recently, there’s been It Follows, a clever, twisted movie where contagion rages and no-one is what they seem, and of course, Jordan Peele’s Us, the horror of which is almost entirely premised on otherness and doppelgangers. Us doesn’t entirely work—it suffers from an excess of ideas—but when it does, it is magnificent. Who can forget that superlative, long shot of the shadow-family standing silently at the foot of the driveway? Those unmoving, dark silhouettes that equate exactly to the panic-stricken five looking at them—it’s a marvellous, and utterly uncanny moment.

US JP

But why is the double such a terrifying figure? Well, firstly because embodies the very definition of the uncanny – Freud’s 1919 essay on ‘The Uncanny’ refers to ‘Schelling’s definition of the uncanny as something which ought to have been kept concealed but which has nevertheless come to light.’ He also discusses specifically the idea of the double, and Otto Rank’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’ which outlines the various modes of double from mirror-image to shadows, souls and to Egyptian sculpture as funerary repository of ka, or spirit. Freud points out that the double profoundly upsets our sense of self—it becomes an object of terror.

In both the new edition of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, and in the accompanying chapbook Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, I want to thoroughly explore the different dimensions of the uncanny, using the unifying trope of the Gothic home. A significant part of this was exploring the double. In doing this, I was not only drawn by Rank, Jentsch and Freud’s writings on the doppelgänger, but on the uncanny double that haunts Irish folklore, the fetch a double that appears at the moment of death to fetch the soul away. And so, images of the dark, mirrored self flow through the stories. There’s the theme of the self divided by illness in ‘Coming Back’ and ‘Something Nasty In The Woodshed.’ There’s a doppelgänger that flits through the pages of ‘Ghost Estate, Phase II.’ There’s an examination of twin as uncanny double in ‘I Look Like You, I Speak Like You, I Walk Like You.’ In both chapbook and new edition, there’s also an additional story, ‘The Wrong House’; a tale populated by troubling doubles of the protagonist, his wife and his daughter, and a previously unpublished story, ‘Possession,’ where the main character feels her sense of self erode in the anxiety that arises from that most terrifying of all possibilities—that she no longer knows who exactly she is.

So, welcome to my nightmares. I invite you into my world where nothing is as it seems, a world where every mirror image is charged with a dark power, a world where we may (or may not) exist in multiple, fractured forms. For me, the double continues to be a haunting and compelling evocation of the uncanny. Given that our sense of self, how we perceive ourselves, is a corner-stone of our mental health, the idea of the uncanny double is one of the most terrifying concepts in horror literature.

As the protagonist of one of my unheimlich stories puts it:

“I look like you. I speak like you. I walk like you.

But I’m not you”

The Unehimlich Manoevure –

The Unheimlih Manoeuvre Deluxe EditionIn 2020, the deluxe edition of The Unehimlich Manoevure will be released together with a companion chapbook of new material, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Both contain a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this new edition.

The Unheimlich Manoeuvre explores the psychological horror that occurs when home is subverted as a place of safety, when it becomes surreal, changes and even disappears…

In these stories, a coma patient wakes to find herself replaced by a doppelgänger, a ghost state reflects doubles of both houses and inhabitants, a suburban enclave takes control of its trespassers, and a beaten woman exacts revenge.

Unheimlich Manoeuvres in the DarkJust as the Heimlich Manoeuvre restores order, health and well-being, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre does quite the opposite.

This new edition contains revised versions of the original stories and a brand new tale, “Something Nasty In The Woodshed.”

Praise –

“A modern-day gothic whose Kafkaesque otherworldly stories are beautifully disturbing.” – Lol Tolhurst, The Cure

“It is, quite simply, pure art, and we can only wonder what works this writer will produce in the coming years.” – This Is Horror

“This a very assured first collection…. Although there are twists, Tracy Fahey never plays for cheap shocks.” – Priya Sharma, Shirley Jackson Award winner

Tracy Fahey, Biography –

Tracy Fahey photoTracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. In 2019, her short story, ‘That Thing I Did’ received an Honourable Mention by Ellen Datlow in her The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, with five stories on Datlow’s Recommended Reading list for 2019. Her short fiction is published in over twenty-five Irish, US and UK anthologies.

She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing has been published in edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. Her first novel, The Girl in the Fort, was released in 2017. Her second collection, New Music For Old Rituals, collects together her folk horror stories and was released in 2018 by Black Shuck Books.

In 2020, the deluxe edition of The Unehimlich Manoevure will be released together with a companion chapbook of new material, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, both published by the Sinister Horror Company. Both contain a new essay, ‘Creative Evocations of Uncanny Domestic Space,’ five new stories, a print and piece entitled ‘Remembering Wildgoose Lodge,’ and complete story notes on all nineteen stories in this new edition.

More information at her website www.tracyfahey.com

Thanks to Tracy for this wonderful article and to all of you for reading along in this #wihm series. Stay tuned for one or two more and then I’ll announce something I’ll be doing for women in horror all year round.

WiHM11-GrrrlBlack

 

 

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Guest Article: Witch and Spirit Bottles by Pamela K. Kinney #WiHM #witches

I love to read historical articles online and recently I came across an article, I believe in Smithsonian online magazine, about witch bottles being uncovered. Then I saw them talking about it on the site for College of William and Mary: Civil War Era Jug Rare Witch Bottle. The photo here is from this find/article. A few days later I saw a writer friend I knew posting about witch bottles being found as well and I was intrigued. I know Pamela to be very much a knowledge of the haunted and supernatural in Virginia, so I asked her if she might write an article for my site which I’d post for women in horror month.

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From article at above link: Witch bottle:  Given the artifact’s contents and context, William & Mary archaeologists believe this Civil War-era jug is likely a rare ritual item known as a “witch bottle.” Witch bottles served as a kind of talisman to ward off evil spirits.  Photo by Robert Hunter

Thanks very much to Pamela for her time in this. Voila – enjoy!

Witch Bottles and Spirit Bottles
by Pamela K. Kinney

Witch Bottles:

In 2016, archeologists unearthed a blue bottle filled with nails near the hearth of a Civil War fort, Redoubt 9, which today is known as exits 238 to 242 of I-64 in York County. They conducted the dig, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation, and it took place before VDOT’s planned interstate widening project. What is left of Redoubt 9 now rests in the median of Interstate I-64. Although constructed by Confederates, Union troops occupied it after the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862. The fortification was one of 14 mini forts around Fort Magruder, built along a line between the James and York rivers to counter the threat of a Federal assault on Richmond via the Peninsula.

Records suggested that Redoubt 9 was occupied by the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry alternately between May 1862 and August 1863. This Calvary was the same regiment held responsible for the burning of the Wren building (College of William and Mary). They likely occupied Redoubt 9 only during periods of strife, such as Confederate raids, when the Union hold on Williamsburg was at risk. Union soldiers occupied enemy territory most of the war, and no doubt, felt threatened by and needed to ward off malevolent spirits and energy. And witch bottles were the type of things people used during times of famine, political strife, or feeling under threat (which the Union soldiers were feeling). It may not be the men but an officer who did this, using folk traditions from his community back in Pennsylvania as they determined that the bottle was created in Pennsylvania between 1840 and 1860.

At first, the archeologists thought it was used by Union soldiers to collect nails, as they were building up that fortification. But then, they figured out it was a “witch bottle,” one of less than a dozen found in the United States (unlike 200 discovered in the British Isles), according to William and Mary. Of course, as the top of the bottle was broken, causing any urine in it to have dried, there’s no telling if this is an actual witch’s bottle. But Joe Jones, director of the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research, believes the vessel to be one.

An afflicted person who believed ‘witches’ were causing his/her problem or sickness, buried the nail-filled bottle under or near their hearth, with the idea that the heat from the hearth would energize the nails into breaking a witch’s spell. Besides nails, one would place the sick or attacked person’s urine in the bottle with brass pins, locks of hair, nail clippings, and a piece of lead, too. The belief back then was that the witches would be grievously tormented, unable to make their water with great difficulty. The theory was that the witch created a magical link with his/her victim and doing the witch’s bottle reversed it back to the witch, using the victim’s body products. The witch had to break the link to save herself, and the victim recovered.

In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, witch bottles would also be filled with rosemary and red wine besides needles and pins, and the individual would bury the bottle at the farthest corner of their property, beneath the house hearth, or placed in an inconspicuous spot in the house. It was believed that these specific bottles would capture the evil, which would then be impaled on the pins and needles, drowned by the wine, and sent away by the rosemary. Some witch’s bottles were thrown into a fire, and when they exploded, that broke the spell, or the witch supposedly killed.

The recipe was still known in a Norfolk village in England in 1939: Take a stone bottle, make water in it, and fill it with one’s toenails and fingernails, iron nails, and anything which belongs to you. Hang the bottle over the fire and keep stirring it. It must be dark in the room, and you can’t speak or make any noise. Then the witch is supposed to come to your door and beg you to open the door and let her in. If you keep silent and ignore her, the witch will burst. Folklore says that the strain on the mind of the person when the witch begs to be allowed in is usually so great that the person breaks down and speaks. Then the witch is set free.

In London, England, seventeenth-century pottery jugs of the kind called ‘greybeards’ .or ‘bellarmines’ were found buried in ditches or streams. They contained bent nails and felt hearts stuck with pins. In Essex and Suffolk, others had been discovered, underneath the hearths or thresholds of houses. Later, cheap glass bottles would be used in the same way.

Also, put into witch bottles were fishing hooks, human teeth, and glass shards–like in the one found in an English pub’s chimney November of 2019. Others have contained things like brimstone (sulfur), and even belly button lint. In some bottles, the pins are inside loose, but in others, they are carefully arranged in felt or cloth hearts. The inclusion of sulfur was thought to be particularly damning to the witch and was reserved for those that the afflicted wanted not just gone, but dead. Other bottles were carried as amulets meant to ward off disease and illness.

A good author friend of mine, Deborah Painter, let me take a picture of the witch bottle she had that her archeologist father had found. Besides hers, when I took a tour of Ferry Plantation in Pungo, Virginia (an area of Virginia Beach), I viewed the witch bottle on display in the house. Both Debbie’s and Ferry Plantation’s were found in Pungo.

Debbie Painters Witch Bottle (1)

Debbie Painter’s witch bottle. Photo used with permission by Pamela K. Kinney.

Other ways that Virginians protected themselves against witches. The first three were a mixture of Celtic and African American lore.

  1. Leave a bowl of salt outside your door, as they claimed that witches love to count the grains. A witch will sit down and count each grain. By the time she/he finishes, it will be morning, and you will be safe. (Ditto with a broom, for the witch, will count the broom straws.) Strangely enough, this is mentioned in myths about vampires too.
  2. Hang a used horseshoe above your door. Before a witch enters the house, she must go down every road the horse traveled when he wore that shoe. By the time she finishes, the dawn will be on its way, and you’ll be safe.
  3. Witches hated blue because it was the color of heaven. African Americans, especially in South Carolina and Georgia, painted the trim of their homes blue for protection.

Witches are as much a part of Virginia’s history and folklore as anywhere else. There are historic homes in Virginia with witch doors—crosses carved on the paneled doors to keep the witches away. There is even a rumor of a witch that lets off a green light as he/she flies through the trees in the Old House Woods in Mathews, Virginia. In Stafford, there is a trail off Telegraph Road that leads to a place called Witches Pond. There is supposed to be a sacrifice table there used in the 1700s with letters in Latin carved on it, with numerous sightings of a woman seen near it. I found online that someone posted that there was a witch’s creek where Aquia Harbor is now. And real people were accused of witchcraft, one of them, Grace Sherwood, was pardoned by Governor Kaine in 2006. Of course, to avoid a debacle like Salem, they passed laws to stop people from accusing someone of witchcraft, by being fined. It appeared to work, as only one witch was proven hung in Virginia and that on a ship off the shore from Jamestown in the 1600s Not just in Hampton Roads area were witch bottles used, but in the Appalachians, which one can count in western and particularly, southwestern section of Virginia.

How to Make Your Own Witch Bottle:

I found on one website how one can make a witch bottle today. You put the pins/sharp objects and personal effects into the bottle. Add urine over the pins and personal effects and close the jar/bottle with the lid. Burn the black candle on top of the jar (be careful! Don’t leave the candle unattended. Allow the wax to spill onto the top of the jar, as this will seal your intentions. Burn the candle all the way down.) Or the Optional Step: you can “heat” the bottle by holding it over an open bonfire (this adds more oomph but isn’t required). Dig a hole on your property a foot or so deep. Its best by the front door OR by your bedroom window. Bury your witch bottle with candle remnants. The whole time you’re visualizing any evil being sucked into the witch bottle and trapped for eternity, leave the witch bottle, and never dig it back up.

Spirit Bottles:

Another reason that blue bottles were used was due to the African traditions brought to the South with the slaves. It is close to what witch bottles were used for—capturing a spirit attacking the person. The belief and use of spirit bottles go back to the 9th and 10th century Congo, where colorful bottles, traditionally cobalt blue, were placed on the ends of tree branches to catch the sunlight. The thought being an evil spirit would see the sunshine dazzling from the beautiful bottles and growing enamored, enter the bottle. Like a fly, the ghost becomes trapped within the bottle, dazzled by the play of light, trapped for all eternity. Well, unless the bottle gets broken. This practice was taken to Europe and North America by African slaves of the 17th and 18th centuries. While Europeans adapted them into hollow glass spheres known as “witch balls,” the practice of hanging bottles in trees became widespread in the Southern states of North America, where they continue to be used today as colorful garden ornaments. For a long time, the use of spirit bottles, even spells due to them, could be found among the African American people. In the New World, the bottle-as-talisman took on different forms.

Like witch bottles traced as far back to the 1600s, these spirit bottles were used in spellwork. All colors, shapes, and sizes filled with herbs and other items of significance, for protection, repelling evil, or attracting luck. Eventually, the bottle spell became a fundamental element of Hoodoo magic.

Today, all sorts of people have these bottle trees in their yard. Usually, in the United States, they could be seen in the country or along the bayous of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama, though nowadays they are all over, not just these four states. And not just blue bottles, either!

Getting spirits into bottles and even jars exist in many places of the world. There are jars and bottles for housing the spirits of dead babies in Thailand and called Guman Thong. There’s the lamp holding the genie in Aladdin. The Djinn have also been captured in rings and bottles, too. There’s even “The Spirit in the Bottle,” a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. You can read a horror short story of mine, “Bottled Spirits,” published at Buzzymag.com. I was researching bottle trees, and I thought it would make a great ghost story. It made runner up in the WSFA Small Press Award in 2013 and is considered one of seven best genre stories for that year.

Making Your Own Bottle Tree:

Find a sturdy tree or stump with branches, like traditionally used crepe myrtles and cedars trees, but pretty much any kind of tree will work. Trim all of the foliage off and cut the branches down until you have as many bare branches as you have bottles. Then slid your bottles onto the branches.

A variation is to take a fallen branch and prune it the same fashion, making a portable tree. Plant it outside of your home. Like near the entrance, in the garden, or wherever you want it in your yard. Slip the bottles onto the branches. A third way is finding a large branch or stump, tying two bottles at a time with shoelaces over the branches, so they hang from the tree. And here’s a tip: If you put a little oil on the bottlenecks, the spirits will slip easily into the bottles and become trapped that much quicker.

Witch bottles are one interesting facet of witches, showing us how ordinary people used to protect themselves against them. And with the latest one found in a Civil War fort and even places online showing how to make one today, or also put together a bottle tree to capture spirits, the folklore of our ancestors still haunts us, even in this modern technological 21st Century!

Pamela K. Kinney, Info –

Pamela KinneyPamela K. Kinney is an award-winning published author of horror, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and a ghost wrangler of non-fiction ghost books published by Schiffer Publishing. Among others two of her non-fiction ghost books were nominated for Library of Virginia Awards.

She’s a member of the Horror Writers Association and the local Virginia chapter.

She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house, husband, and even the cat sometimes suffer for it!

Find out about Pamela K. Kinney’s books (horror, fantasy, and science fiction fiction and nonfiction ghost books), short stories, and anthologies she has stories included in at her Website, plus at her AMAZON page.

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Haunted VA

You can find out more about witches of Virginia, witch bottles, and more in a chapter in Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales, available from Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales.

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News Hooked: Rosson’s Cover Reveal, New Way to Link to Books, HWA Summer Scares, Women in Horror Month #booknews #hookofabook

New News Reeled In!

I have a variety of book news to share with you all, so I thought that instead of spreading it out over the week, I’d do an all-in-one news post because I have some other exciting things coming up later in the week. I think I might start to do these – as a mini-news newsletter (News Hooked? Should I call it that?). This one seems to be mostly horror news related, besides the third notice, but it will be in the future for news in any genre or in the book publishing field. Let me know if it’s something  you like or you have anything to contribute.

In this edition:

  •  Keith Rosson Cover Reveal and Info from Meerkat Press
  •  Horror Writer’s Association Summer Scares Library Program
  •  New Way to Buy Books and Support Libraries
  •  Women in Horror Month Underway

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Author Keith Rosson Cover Reveal –

Meerkat is revealing this beautiful cover for Keith Rosson’s next book, coming out next year. It’s so amazing. He’s a brilliant artist! I can’t wait to sink into his work. Meerkat keeps repeatedly impressing me.

Title: Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons: Stories

Author: Keith Rosson, author of The Mercy of the Tide and Smoke City

Pub Date: February 2021

More Info:  Meerkat Press

Twitter: @meerkatpress and @Keith_Rosson

From Meerkat Press –

“We are excited to reveal the cover for Keith Rosson’s new collection: FOLK SONGS FOR TRAUMA SURGEONS. The cover design was done by Keith and we think it fits the collection perfectly! The book will be published in February 2021.”

Description

With the Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels.

In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town.

With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.

Now, readers, isn’t this one of the most beautiful covers you’ve seen!!?

9781946154521

 

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HWA Summer Scares Library Announcement – 

In celebration of National Library Lover’s Day, the Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, is delighted to announce the second annual Summer Scares Reading List, which includes titles selected by a panel of authors and librarians and is designed to promote horror as a great reading option for all ages, during any time of the year.

Each year, three titles will be chosen in the Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade categories, and for 2020 they are:

ADULT

In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson (Skyhorse, 2017)

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Tor.Com, 2016)

She Said Destroy: Stories by Nadia Bulkin (Word Horde, 2017)

YOUNG ADULT

The Agony House by Cherie Priest, Illustrated by Tara O’Connor (Scholastic 2018)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (Sourcebooks Fire, 2017)

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics (Harlequin Teen, 2015)

MIDDLE GRADE

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh (HaperCollins, 2017)

Case Files 13: Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage (HarperCollins, 2012)

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith (Clarion Books, 2015)

The goal of the Summer Scares program is to introduce horror titles to school and public library workers in order to help them start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come. Along with the annual list of recommended titles for readers of all ages, the Summer Scares committee will also release themed lists of even more “read-alike” titles for libraries to use when suggesting books to readers this summer and all year long.

And, in order to help libraries forge stronger connections between books and readers, the Summer Scares committee will be working with both the recommended list authors and horror authors from all over the country, to provide free programming to libraries. From author visits (both in person and virtual) to book discussions to horror themed events, Summer Scares is focused on connecting horror creators with libraries and readers all year long.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) will also be hosting a Library Day special stand alone program May 7, 2020 at the Naperville, IL Public Library. Authors from the Summer Scares reading list, as well as the committee members, will be in attendance. Authors and committee members will also be available throughout the year for on-site and/or remote appearances to libraries and schools to promote the Summer Scares program and discuss the use of horror fiction as a tool to increase readership and nurture a love of reading.

The Summer Scares program committee consists of award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones (Mongrels, The Only Good Indians, Night of the Mannequins), Becky Spratford (library consultant, author of The Readers Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd Ed.), Carolyn Ciesla (library director, academic dean, book reviewer), Kiera Parrott (reviews director for Library Journal and School Library Journal), Kelly Jensen (editor, Book Riot, author of [Don’t] Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health), and JG Faherty (HWA Library Program director, author of Sins of the Father, The Cure, and Ghosts of Coronado Bay).

The HWA is a non-profit organization of writers and publishing professionals, and the oldest organization dedicated to the horror/dark fiction genre. One of the HWA’s missions is to foster an appreciation of reading through extensive programming and partnerships with libraries, schools, and literacy-based organizations.

For more information about the Summer Scares reading program, including how to obtain promotional materials and schedule events with the authors/committee members, visit the HWA’s Libraries web page (www.horror.org/libraries), Becky Spratford’s Reader’s Advisory Horror Blog RA for All: Horror (http://raforallhorror.blogspot.com/p/summer-scares.html), or the Book Riot, School Library Journal, Library Journal, or United for Libraries websites and social media sites.

You can also contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Program Director (libraries [at] horror [dot] org) or Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (bspratford [at] hotmail [dot] com).HWA-Summer-Scares-1-large(1)

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New Alternative to Amazon Buy Links to Help Indie Bookstores –

On Friday I posted a list of ten books of obsession just in time for Valentine’s Day. One of the books is published by Poisoned Pen Press and the Poisoned Pen bookstore pointed out to me that I can use a certain website to help support indie bookstores like theirs. I had never heard of it but meant to look it up. Yesterday, I saw a Forbes.com article go by that had to do with it so I read it. Wow! What a great idea. I think authors and anyone else out there, especially book reviewers and supporters, need to try to use this link for books. Not all indie bookstores carry indie books, but any indie book supported on Ingram can be found on this website and local stores still profit from that! It’s a win-win.

The article states, in short:

Bookshop.org, a website that went live at the end of January and is still in beta mode, is designed to be an alternative to Amazon, and to generate income for independent bookstores. And, perhaps more importantly, it seeks to give book reviewers, bloggers and publications who rely on affiliate income from “Buy now” links to Amazon a different option.

Profit from books sold through Bookshop will be split three ways, with 10% of the sale price going into a pool that will be divided among participating bookstores, 10% going to the publication that triggered the sale by linking to Bookshop.org, and 10% going to Bookshop.org to support its operations.”

Will you join me in this movement to support bricks and mortar stores?

Here is the full article that was on Forbes.com.

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February is Women in Horror Month – 

One of my favorite months of the year being a woman in horror is celebrating February as Women in Horror Month. It’s a grassroots initiative to celebrate and inform about women working in the genre whether writing books, filmmaking, to many of the other roles. I really enjoy not only writing horror, but being an editor, publicist, and so much more in the genre. And I love supporting others, especially my fellow horror sisters. Horror is so many different things from quiet, psychological horror to escapism gore, and the ladies can bring it all.

I’ve been making my rounds online this month with a couple interviews and articles, and I’ll wrap those up for you at the end of the month, but coming up here on my own site I’ll be featuring three or four interviews and a guest article with some exciting women in horror, I’ll offer some reviews of women’s horror books I’ve read, and possibly something else interesting. All within the last couple weeks left so stay tuned.

Don’t forget ladies, free month of SHUDDER with code WIHM2020.

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10 Books of Obsession and Tragic Love for Valentine’s Weekend! #thrillers #horror #valentinesday #bookstoread

Happy Valentine’s and Galentine’s Day! Many people tread on Valentine’s Day but it’s one of my favorite days. I don’t think of it as a Hallmark holiday at all. I think of it as a day to tell those I love what they mean to me, whether my significant other, my kids, my friends. It’s all about showing love. Plus I just really adore the color red, hearts, flowers, and…..CHOCOLATE. So get in the spirit gang, whether you have a lovey dovey for a date or not, make it fun. Spoil yourself if you have to!

As a writer of speculative, horror, thriller, suspense… you name it… I also love digging into the dark side of romance and relationships. I think I’ve loved this ever since I watched the film “Single, White Female” when I was a teen. Ha!

single white

Last year I wrote a post all about various ways I’ve explored bad relationships in my writing and gave some ideas for fantastic love day fiction. There is a flash fiction also to read I wrote last year, a tale of revenge and witches, available free at The Horror Tree site called “Sinking Hearts.” I don’t want to re-hash all that again in a post, but feel free to peruse HERE if you like tales of revenge or love gone wrong.

This year, I’m suggesting some novels of obsession and troubled marriage perfect for a Valentine’s weekend cuddled up with a new, plush heart-shaped pillow and some raspberry truffles. You might not need a box of Kleenexes for most, but maybe a few stiff drinks.

chocolate-candies-1329480

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

ProvidenceProvidence is a supernatural thriller that is the re-telling partly of Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and part Beauty and the Beast, essentially wrapped into a mystery. It’s an over arching love story in which two characters are kept apart no fault of their own but due to his new found “powers.” It’s one of the most heart-wrenching novels I’ve read and I was devastated by the end. So not a novel of obsession in the normal, evil sense, and the love gone wrong is defined differently, but still a love story that’s dark, tender, and thought-provoking. Once you read it, you won’t forget it. This might be the one time over the weekend you need a Kleenex.

About the book…

Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share an intense, near-mystical bond. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, and his plans for a normal life are permanently dashed. Four years later, Jon reappears. He is different now: bigger, stronger, and with no memory of the time he was gone. Jon wants to pick up where he and Chloe left off—until the horrifying instant he realizes he possesses strange powers that pose a grave threat to everyone he cares for. Afraid of hurting Chloe, Jon runs away, embarking on a journey for answers.

Meanwhile, in Providence, Rhode Island, healthy college students and townies with no connection to one another are inexplicably dropping dead. A troubled detective prone to unexplainable hunches, Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus suspects there’s a serial killer at work. But when he starts asking questions, Eggs is plunged into a shocking whodunit he never could have predicted.

With an intense, mesmerizing voice, Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together.

Buy Link 

Or Find on Bookshop.org

Perfume: The Story of  Murderer by Patrick Suskind

PerfumeThis book is one I haven’t read but is on my TBR pile because it was recommended to me by a special friend whose taste I implicitly trust. Also, I’ve always heard that Kurt Cobain, and Nirvana being one of my favorite bands of all time, said this book was the inspiration for the song “Scentless Apprentice.” I found a copy unsuspectingly at a thrift store a few weeks ago and was very excited. I’m also really into perfumery and I’ve always been intrigued by how people can smell various scents and be influenced by them. As well I love 18th century France and I read that Suskind, a German author, writes this time period with such flair and pens with deep character and mood development.

About the book…

An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

Translated from the German by John E. Woods.

Buy Link 

Or Find on Bookshop.org

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore 

Poison ArtistThe Poison Artist is one of my favorite books of all time. This book is obsession-based but in the smooth style of the best liquor and 1920’s glam. I will never stop thinking of this book so in some ways I guess my obsession is with it! Stephen King said it was the scariest thing he read since Red Dragon, and I think that’s because the darkness is so sinister yet in plain sight. This book held me hostage as Caleb searched for Emmeline… and Emmeline mesmerized me as much as she did the protagonist. You can read the full review I wrote five years or so about it HERE.

About the book…

A gripping tale of obsession and deadly mystery, where the secrets of salvation and the most devastating desires are all written in blood

Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.

As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.

From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape.

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

POO HWAWho doesn’t like Phantom of the Opera? You can find the book in many forms and take your pick, or watch the movie if you prefer, but this is the ultimate story of love and obsession. It’s been my wish for three decades to see this performed professionally on the stage!

I’d like to highlight a particular copy available as of January 2020, and that’s the Haunted Library Horror Classics series presented by the Horror Writers Association and published with Poisoned Pen Press.

It’s an unabridged edition of the novel that inspired the famous Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. I have no idea how it’s formatted or printed or what it looks like in real format, but I hope it’s a nice addition to anyone’s library. The cover here is this edition. At any rate, I collect it in different forms with variant covers whenever I see it!

About the book…

Deep beneath the Paris Opera House, a masked man lives in silence…

Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…

This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today’s readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux’s masterpiece.

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

The Method by Duncan Ralston

methodThis is another favorite thriller of mine where a couple who is struggling with their marriage goes on a marriage retreat but soon things get crazy. I love when things get suspenseful, and you, along with the characters, wonder if they are being watched. Though not really a tale of one person’s obsession, it does fall under the obsessed to survive mantra.  It’s action-packed, full of relationship struggles, torturous, and a page turner. Definitely for fans of thriller that don’t mind the horror notched up a bit more than usual.

About the book…

How hard will you fight for the one you love?

Frank and Linda’s marriage is falling apart. When old friends tell them about an “unconventional therapy retreat” called The Method, they jump at the chance to attend.

Dr. Kaspar’s Lone Loon Lodge is a secluded resort deep in the Montana wilds. The staff is friendly. The other couple joining them is intense. But when a death occurs events quickly spiral out of control, leaving Linda and Frank unable to trust anyone but each other.

Nothing is what it seems, and only one thing is certain: Love Is Pain.

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

The Tunnel Ernesto Sabato

the tunnelThis is definitely a novel of obsession and paranoia, and a dark and spiraling one at that about a painter who’s murdered a woman he had become obsessed with in a painting (not a spoiler as in synopsis and beginning of novel). I’m definitely all for eating up any novel in this vein no matter how dark it is and I’m a huge fan of any foreign writer doing them. I’ve always felt that they get the psychological components down so well whether for books or TV and film. It won’t be for everyone’s tastes but it’s definitely one to consider if you like the dark aspects of the obsessive brain.

About the book…

An unforgettable psychological novel of obsessive love, The Tunnel was championed by Albert Camus, Thomas Mann, and Graham Greene upon its publication in 1948 and went on to become an international bestseller. At its center is an artist named Juan Pablo Castel, who recounts from his prison cell his murder of a woman named María Iribarne. Obsessed from the moment he sees her examining one of his paintings, Castel fantasizes for months about how they might meet again. When he happens upon her one day, a relationship develops that convinces him of their mutual love. But Castel’s growing paranoia leads him to destroy the one thing he truly cares about.

One of the great short novels of the twentieth century—this cover and link here is to an edition marking the 100th anniversary of the author’s birth. Ernesto Sabato (June 24, 1911 – April 30, 2011) was an Argentine novelist, essayist, painter and physicist. According to the BBC he “won some of the most prestigious prizes in Hispanic literature” and “became very influential in the literary world throughout Latin America.”

Buy Link

Or Find on Bookshop.org

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 

WHHow much do I really need to say about this novel? If you haven’t read it, DO. And if you have, curl up and be drawn into it again. This gothic novel of passion that’s almost bordering on obsession, will make you want to tear your heart out.

About the book…

Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights remains one of literature’s most disturbing explorations into the dark side of romantic passion. Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.

You can take your pick of many different formats and covers. I always see copies when I’m thrift shopping as well and own several versions. Just make sure it isn’t marked up by college students or buy your own new lovely version.

Buy Link

Or find on bookshop.org

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed DoorsI read this thriller when it came out because I love the sub-genre of thrillers called domestic thrillers. I love to hate characters like Jack and I’m always rooting for redemption at the end for the one on the receiving end of the drama/trauma. This definitely is a tale that qualifies as obsession because any man that is an abuser in this way is to me in some regards obsessed not only with the other person but with control. This was an engrossing read that I devoured. You will too.

About the book…

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.

Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.

From bestselling author B. A. Paris comes the gripping thriller and international phenomenon Behind Closed Doors.

Buy Link

Or find on bookshop.org

Thomas’s Want by Latashia Figueroa

ThomassWantFromLHFull disclosure on this one, Latashia is my editing client. But I felt I could override that because it so fits under the umbrella of novel of obsession. It is book two in her series, but it’s a perfect representation of a man going mad, and the lengths he will go to in order to keep control of his obsession. It’s a thriller but with definite horror tones by the end. Told in the second person as with Kepnes’ YOU (which is another great tale of obsession I didn’t include since I chose another by Kepnes instead), this is a tale of love gone wrong that you’ll read in one sitting.

About the book…

Thomas has haunting memories of his childhood: his obsessive, paranoid father and beautiful, loving mother. And he cannot forget the lovely face covered in blood, the lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs. All the love and beauty stolen from his life, forever.

Now, as an adult, Thomas struggles with relationships and is not sure if he is capable of love. Perhaps it is because he has tried hard not to become like his father. Until Thomas meets Deana, and all he can do is think of her, and only her. As their relationship grows, Thomas begins to understand his father and the disease that plagued him. The disease that took away Thomas’ mother, and nearly drove his father to madness. Thomas has inherited the disease of Want. A disease that has deadly side effects.

Buy Link

Or find on bookshop.org

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

Follow MEFollow Me publishes on February 25, 2020 and I appreciated receiving an advanced reading copy from Gallery Books. It was such a fun read that I breezed through in two nights. Drawing on the modern age of Instagrammers and likes and the letting of everyone in on our every move through this social media platform, this is absolutely a tale of obsession. The book transports us through the story via the protagonist, Instagrammer Audrey, juxtaposed with her friend, Cat, but as well we also have snippets of chapters by “HIM.” We don’t know who he is until the big reveal at the end, but we get a glimpse into just how far, and how scary, his obsession with her goes. Plus trust me there is more twist than that but I’ll let you discover for yourself. I loved it! I highly recommend for your reading list this year.

About the book…

From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.

Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.

With “compelling, suspenseful” (Liz Nugent) prose, Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.

Pre-Order Now / Available Feb. 25, 2020 

Pick up at local indie store on release day or go to bookshop.org

Red ribbon in heart shape at wooden background

That’s a wrap! As for me, I’ve been stuck inside working for a week and I’m heading OUT for Valentine’s Day weekend, even if I end up staying in Friday night. I’m going to spend the rest of it taking in some live women’s basketball, do some book shopping, go to the movies, eat yummy food, and hopefully get chocolates. If I get a big, fluffy Valentine pillow, I’ll make time to read a book with it soon.

Whatever you do enjoy your weekend. If you have books of obsession you really liked, please leave recommendations in the comments below.

Now, go eat chocolates and tell someone you love them!

– Erin

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National Poetry Month: “Unforgiven” – A Poem from Miranda Crites #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry

National Poetry Month April

Today for National Poetry Month I welcome Miranda Crites! Miranda is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. I met MJ virtually sometime last year in her role as a book reviewer, but I came to be friends with her as well with our mutual interest in writing, photography, nature, and raising our kids. She’s so very creative and a bundle of energy that makes my days online so much better each time I see her beautiful photos or stories or hear from her. She’s also been a great supporter of indie authors as well as my own prose and poetry, so when she told me she’d like to try her hand at sending me a poetry piece, I was thrilled because I love supporting writers who want to come of their shell with their work.

It was a complete joy to work with her on this piece and she took my editing advice and ran with it, quickly turning this work into a refined piece of beauty that captures so much emotion, and for me, made me feel like I was floating. And maybe a little less alone. The photo is also one of her own. Thanks so much, Miranda!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

_________________________________________

raven

Unforgiven
by Miranda Crites

I sink into sludgy, blackness

The iciness of the lake seeps into my bones, slowing my movements

I trudge along the muddy bottom; it pulls at me

I push toward the barely visible light above

 

Only my eyes break into the bleak day

Ancient pines dance in the brisk breeze

Snow-capped mountains beckon to me in the distance

But I can rise no further

 

My lungs plead for a breath of raw, pine-scented air

Blood races through my veins, pounding forcefully in my ears

The darkness below gently tugs

The oxygen I crave is merely an inch away

 

I swim harder, reaching the water’s edge

Vengeful blades of grass slice through my fingers

I rip them out by their roots as I try to save myself

I claw through dirt and rocks

 

I am restrained, a tethered dog

Bubbles tease my cheeks as I scream away my last breath

Deeply in my chest, a torch is lit

A voice within the darkness whispers: “forgive”

 

A rope of fiery vines bites at my ankle

My fingernails rip off as I try to break free

“Forgive,” repeats the inky blackness

I don’t have that ability

 

My world explodes

Shooting stars burst behind my eyes

The torch expands its flame

Fireworks light the dimness above, the blackness below

 

Release

Relief

No more pain, only ephemeral sadness

I float to the surface, finally unconfined

 

Lightning rips open the gray cloth above

The darkness below feeds on my light, my aura

A single crow lands on my chest, pecking at my eyes

Fish and unknown creatures nibble the remaining soggy meat of my fingers

 

Wolves sprint to the water’s edge

They drag my body onto the shore

Their pack devours most of my flesh and bones

Vultures clean up the last remaining pieces of me

____________________________________________

Miranda Crites, Biography –

MirandaMiranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia.

Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old.

The writing bug bit her at a very early age too, when she won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.

 

Find Miranda Online –

You can follow Miranda on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Her photography can be found on her dedicated Facebook page at MJ Creations.

She reviews for Kendall Reviews, as well as her own site, Miranda Crites Reads and Writes.

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National Poetry Month: Talking about I Am Not Your Final Girl and Feminine Anger by Sonora Taylor #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry #metoo

Today, I am thrilled to welcome my friend Sonora Taylor to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! for the National Poetry Month project. I virtually met Sonora after she picked up and reviewed my own collection, Breathe. Breathe.. Afterwards, I found out we were both submitting pieces to the monthly ladies of horror flash project and we realized we had all sorts of similar interests and became friends. I’m excited she’s here to talk about her reading of the poetry collection I am Not Your Final Girl by Claire Holland and how things that happens to us in the world as females build pent-up anger that can no longer be held inside.

This is a great piece – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. May we all stay mad.

PoetryMonthGraphic

Stay Mad: “I Am Not Your Final Girl” and Feminine Anger
by Sonora Taylor, author of Without Condition

When you’re a woman, you spend a lot of time being angry. Or maybe not angry, but certainly upset, perturbed, maddened, or otherwise disturbed. It starts when a boy hurting you on the playground is dismissed as “him having a crush,” to being told to dismiss the sexist insults laid in your ears as just words, to learning to just walk away and forget it when a grown man yells to you and your teenage friends that “he smells p*ssy,” even though you hear it in your mind long after it happened.

Even when it’s not so blatant, there are little annoyances every day that come with being a woman. Being spoken to by strangers without any prompting, being overlooked at work or dismissed in group discussions, being frowned upon for the choices you make for yourself. Even when it’s not directly happening to you, you see what everyone thinks of you when you open a paper, turn on the television, or log on to any number of social media sites. “Slut” and “bitch” are interspersed with people who can’t believe women are this, can’t believe women said that, can’t believe women just are.

This isn’t to say that all who see women’s existence as an injustice want them to no longer be. Most want their survival, but they want it in the face of being able to hurt them. A woman’s role is to survive a never-ending barrage of wounds to her body and soul. In a sense, women are almost always the final girls of the horror movie of their life, taken piece by piece until they lay battered and broken.

But the beauty of the final girl is that she takes her damage and uses it to fight back. She claws at assault, defies the order of monsters and men by surviving for herself and not for their sadistic pleasures. It’s why we love these characters in horror films, why women keep coming back to these stories — even though we see violence against our bodies and souls, we see ourselves emerge triumphant by the end.

I-Am-Not-Your-Final-Girl

Such inspiration drives the spirit of a wonderful collection of poetry by Claire C. Holland. “I Am Not Your Final Girl” features poems named for several final girls, both well- and lesser-known, but all legendary in horror. From Halloween’s “Laurie” to Antichrist’s “She” (one of my favorite films), each poem dives into the emotional core of the titular final girl, a core that sometimes goes missing in their respective original stories. Even the best horror films sometimes eschew the emotional impact in favor of blood and guts, and stories that get into the emotions still cannot dive into one’s mind the way that prose and verse can.

she-antichrist

She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) from Antichrist

Holland fills in these gaps with both the character’s canonical emotions and her own imagining of what the characters are thinking — as well as her response to what each woman goes through. “Thomasin” (from The Witch) shares the story of a girl who tried to do right, but was only rewarded when she did right by herself. “Selena” (from 28 Days Later, my favorite horror film) delves into the struggle of a woman who fought tooth and nail to save a society that, in the end, wanted to survive by harming her and other women. Every woman’s story, and every woman’s subsequent poem, is different; but all are united in that they survive the barrage that is all too familiar to the feminine spirit.

selena-28-days-later

Selena (Naomie Harris)  from 28 Days Later

Holland opens the collection with an essay about her ongoing anger since 2016. I’ve felt the same anger since 2016, felt shades of it before 2016, have felt it in various degrees throughout my life. When I picked up her collection, I was especially mad at the dismissal of several qualified women candidates for president in lieu of another white, cis-male face. I read Holland’s words and felt my anger manifesting into something better, something I could cradle and use to keep my fight up as opposed to keeping my spirits down. That feeling continued as I read her recounting of the final girls that fought and clawed their way to the bloody end. I plan to make it to whatever comes next — and I plan to stay mad.

Sonora Taylor, Biography

sonora-taylor-2.jpgSonora Taylor is the author of Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Wither and Other Stories, and Please Give. Her work has appeared in The Sirens Call, Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and Camden Park Press’ Quoth the Raven. She’s currently working on her next short story collection, Little Paranoias: Stories. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband. Visit her online on her website.

And check out I am Not Your Final Girl – 

AI-Am-Not-Your-Final-Girl timely collection of poetry that follows the final girl of slasher cinema – the girl who survives until the end – on a journey of retribution and reclamation.

From the white picket fences of 1970s Haddonfield to the apocalyptic end of the world, Holland confronts the role of women in relation to subjects including feminism, violence, motherhood, sexuality, and assault in the world of Trump and the MeToo movement.

Each poem centers on a fictional character from horror cinema, and explores the many ways in which women find empowerment through their own perceived monstrousness.

Find it on GoodReads.

Photo Creds –

“Selena (Naomie Harris)  from 28 Days Later. Photo: joblo.com.” https://www.joblo.com/movie-news/why-it-works-28-days-later-167-02
“She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) from Antichrist. Photo: IMDB.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0870984/mediaindex?ref_=tt_pv_mi_sm

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National Poetry Month: Brian James Lewis on Why He Writes and How He Got There, Plus Read Three of His Poems #NationalPoetryMonth #poetry

PoetryMonthGraphic

Today my National Poetry Month project continues as I welcome Brian James Lewis to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Brian is a disabled poet, reviewer, and writer with a friendly and helpful spirit and a talented pen. I found it so interesting reading his post about how he came to writing and why it means so much to him. He’s also shared three of his poems with us below!

Enjoy his pieces and be sure to say hi in the comments or on twitter. Brian enjoys talking writing with others. He’s been a very big supporter of my own work as well as that of my client’s and so I am very thankful for his kindness.

On Why Writing Poetry Gives Me Life

By Brian James Lewis

Happy National Poetry Month everyone! My name is Brian James Lewis and I am a disabled poet, writer, and book reviewer who thinks that writing is as important as breathing. Not in a silly way, but to have a decent quality of life and be a contributing member of society. While I’ve dabbled as a writer for most of my life, I got serious about it when my previously very physical life got put on ice by severe spinal injuries. All of a sudden getting around became a major issue and I was in constant pain. That led to depression, anxiety, and becoming a danger to myself and others. I feel really fortunate that I found a “second life” as a writer.

In 2013, I began sending out stories and poems for publication. Trajectory Journal published my first poem Puppeteer in 2014. Since that time, I’ve been published in Third Wednesday, The Iconoclast, Aphotic Realm, Bards and Sages Quarterly, and the Econoclash Review. Most recently, my poem about a blues club, Blues, is in this month’s issue of SLAB. And my poem Hey Can Lady is in the current issue of The Hickory Stump, a cool online literary zine! I also felt very honored to have my poem Home Sweet Hideaway included in the Unnerving anthology Haunted Are These Houses, released in October of 2018.

Garage Sense was my first “hit” of a poem. It originally appeared in Trajectory Journal issue #13 and in the Editor’s Picks section of their website. A lot of people were like, “Wow! I didn’t know poetry could be like that!” which was exactly what I needed to keep moving forward. For a good couple of years, I wrote a lot of poetry about how frustrated I was and how much pain I was in. Amazingly enough, most of those poems were not picked up by anybody (ha!). Later, I was able to make things a bit smoother and give people a real picture of what it feels like being disabled. Walking After Midnight is a really good example of that without shouting in everyone’s face. Currently, I am expanding more into horror and somewhat Lovecraftian poetry. This recent effort Spellbound Centurion is about a creature that must write itself into being every night or become dust

Many of you might be more familiar with me as a reviewer of speculative fiction and dark poetry, which I started doing in 2016 for the JournalStone sites Hellnotes and Horror Review. I also started my own site Damaged Skull Writer and have guested on Aphotic Realm and Gallows Hill Magazine, a venture I’m hoping will grow into a regular gig! I have met a ton of really great people through reviewing and enjoy being a part of the writing community. Currently I am a member of the SFPA and hope to join the HWA in the near future. I love independent horror and all the really cool people involved! Thanks to everyone who has said a kind word or guided me to a more efficient way of doing things. I appreciate the editors who’ve read my poems and stories and took the time to make a few suggestions. Ideally, I’m hoping to find a paid position working for a magazine, publicity agency, or publisher in the future.

Writing and doing reviews has helped me be a part of things without my disabled body being as much of an issue. Most importantly, it makes me happy and alive. I was a really good mechanic and proud of that. For a while I would introduce myself as the guy who couldn’t do mechanical work anymore. Not real fun for either end of the conversation. Now, I introduce myself as a writer and book reviewer, and that feels just right. Very big thanks to Erin for inviting me to do this. It is an honor!

________________________________________

Enjoy some of Brian’s poetry!

GARAGE SENSE
First appeared in Trajectory Journal, Issue #13

Nobody would be likely to steal my old Chevy truck, I guess.

Unless they were a fucking idiot. Which is quite possible around here.

Smashed, dented, broken, and leaking everywhere.

It is impossible to start, and even more difficult to keep running.

Unless you know the combination of moves required.

To make the ancient smoking motor roar and growl.

Sure as hell not something they teach you in school.

You learn it all the hard way, by doing it yourself.

People frown on that sort of thing today.

Claiming how unsafe old vehicles are…

“No daytime running lights? No anti-lock brakes?

No airbags? No low tire pressure light?

Call the police, the governor, the president!”

Not trusting what they don’t understand

Modern life is built on fear of everything

From bug bites to flat tires, old cars and grease fires

Then you have the ridiculous new cars and trucks…

With safety features galore, and cup holders

Up the wazoo, along with back-up cameras, DVD

Players, speed sensors, and cars that park themselves

Hell, there’s probably a sensor that knows when you fart

So it can roll down the windows and crank the AC

But, it’s all just a flashy, computerized trap

You can talk to your Aunt Mabel in Ohio

Just speak clearly into your dashboard, and

You can hear all about the boils on Uncle Carl’s ass

While you laugh, and then crash… fatally

Into a huge gravel truck that didn’t even feel you

Mashing yourself and the family into

bloody pulp on his bumper, or better yet,

shaving the roof off your robotic, hypnotic,

super-safety machine, along with your heads

While Aunt Mabel drones on about corn prices

Your car will call the police so that they can

Come scrape what’s left of you and your

Technologically advanced family

Off of route 49 because you got fooled

Meanwhile a drunk guy in an old truck

Backs into a telephone pole

Maybe even knocks it down

Then laughs and drives away without a scratch.

_______________________________________

WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT

I liked to walk after midnight
with my dog on city streets

We’d go so far – blocks and blocks
neither of us afraid

Because the dog protected me and
I did the same for him

Which might sound funny or puzzling
but it’s just the honest truth

Both of us saved each other many
more times than once

I kept him from being run down by cars
He saved me from muggers

But now, I’m disabled and it’s hard
just to walk down the hall

My dog is hobbled by arthritis and
we’re both in a medicated fog

Yet, at night during sleep we both dream
that we’re walking after midnight

We walk for miles, just he and I, going on
until we’re woken by the cruel sunrise

_________________________________________

SPELLBOUND CENTURION

When the dawn comes
my body shrinks away
from its effervescent light
that pokes at my tired eyes
like white hot laser beams
meant to destroy my vampiric body

I only live for the nights
spent mostly alone and cursing
this balky typewriter and what
you fools think of as a life
Pah! Tis but a mere hour
to this ancient centurion

The city I reside in is perfect for
what I do inside its crumbling walls
of wasted post-industrial buildings
Abandoned hulks housing squatters
engaged in depravity known only
by the lowest creatures

Who are my favorites by the way
because they make such easy pickings
yielding up the whisky, wine, and heroin
polluting their bloodstreams into mine
offering a lovely high and sustenance
that fulfills most of my desires

It always starts with the words
that escalate into spells
enrapturing me and waking
my ravenous hunger which
turns me back into my true form
a twisted nightmare creature

Burnt flesh sprouts wings
of skeletal flapping parchment
that fly into others’ dreams
causing hellish fever and pain
driving even the most rational
of people deep into madness

Hunched and shaking
they whimper and scream
Music to this old beast’s ears!
Minds melting as they see
something they refuse to believe
but there’s no denying the truth

So I am allowed to exist
Dismissed by “sensible” folk
and fervently worshipped by
those blessed with imagination
and the ability to see our world
of gauze wrapped shapes in the fog

Undead creatures hidden
in your world until the spells
that we must write ourselves
pull our false coverings away
and send us out into the night
to feed and collect life essence

The key is to never take too much
or overstep my boundaries
Unless I wish to die yet again
at the hands of Christian
torch-bearing folk who know
the secrets of my immortality

I am not the Devil
and most certainly not a god
my lineage is closer to that
of the gargoyles or gryphon
but without sacred blessings
So I am a monster

Savoring a smorgasbord
city during the hot nights
when the windows are open
Allowing me to just blow in
on the fitful breezes or
be sucked inside by a fan

But I never touch animals
those trusted spirit guides
into the next world
They are true innocents
and take too much abuse
from their “masters” as it is

Nothing in any world
can be totally evil or
every atom to the good
I have my purposes
but it is rare for anyone
who sees me to listen

A pity, but not my problem
that people are so set
on what reality should be
Meanwhile, I drink blood,
stay alive, and clear the streets
of dead men walking

Now my eyelids grow heavy
The spells only last so long
which means that it’s time
to draw the curtains and
transform so I may sleep
until the darkness calls again

_____________________________

Brian James Lewis, Info –

Flannel author pic

Brian James Lewis is an emerging disabled poet and writer, for whom writing is as important as breathing. After an accident left him with spinal injuries and mental health problems, Brian turned to writing as a way to feel better and channel energy positively. He writes in a wide variety of styles has appeared in Bards And Sages Quarterly, the EconoClash Review, Aphotic Realm, and the Haunted Are These Houses anthology of poetry and stories published by Unnerving. Brian is also a member of the Journalstone and Gallows Hill book review teams, SFPA, and the Academy of American Poets. When he has time, Brian repairs vintage typewriters and uses them for first drafts.

Contact or find more infomation on Brian James Lewis at his site Damaged Skull Writer or follow and talk to him on twitter: @skullsnflames76.

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