Category Archives: Feature Articles

World Poetry Day: 5 Poetry Collections of Women’s Empowerment and How They Tie to Mine

Yesterday, I found out it was #WorldPoetryDay. I wish I had known about it sooner to better have better prepared a post; however, I didn’t want it to go by without acknowledging it. On Twitter, I posted about my own collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., and how it features not only emotional reflections on life and its struggles, also dabbling in the mysterious, but also features narrative poetry and stories stemming from folklore of countries like Japan, Thailand, and Egypt. I mention the Egyptian short story, as within the story is a poem in song form.

I thought I’d focus first by sharing where World Poetry stems from and what it entails. So I pulled this excerpt of explanation from the United Nations website. Following, I’ll suggest a few books of poetry from around the world or with authors/poets from other cultures and countries.

As I looked at my list of those I wanted to feature, I realized too, that they were all women. Sorry men, maybe next time. This fits right in with my Women in History/Women Making History series I’m hosting here on the site. But besides those commonalities, even though these female authors are from different backgrounds, the pain and grief and struggles of life as a woman all seemed to ring the same, much like in my own writing as well. I commend these ladies for their witness and strength of purpose for themselves and all women all over the world.

World Poetry Day, March 21 –

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.

The observance of World Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.

 

Women Empowerment: 5 Recommended Poetry Reads

Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo

This cover is GORGEOUS and it accompanies the powerful, meaningful, beautiful, and strong poetry within this debut collection. I love it. I can’t wait to read more from Ijeoma.

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The artistry of QUESTIONS FOR ADA defies words, embodying the pain, the passion, and the power of love rising from the depths of our souls.  Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s poetry is a flower that will blossom in the spirit of every reader as she shares her heart with raw candor.  From lyrical lushness to smoky sensuality to raw truths, this tome of transforming verse is the book every woman wants to write but can’t until the broken mirrors of their lives have healed.  In this gifted author’s own words—“I am too full of life to be half-loved.”  A bold celebration of womanhood.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Biography –

Ijeoma Umebinyuo was born and raised Nigeria. Her writings have been translated to Portuguese, Turkish, Russian and French. She shares her heart with raw candor. There is an intimacy about her writings, an unapologetic presentation of truths and her unconventional ways of telling a full story even in her shortest of poems.

the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur

An Amazon Best Book of October 2017, this second poetry collection by Kaur came out mere days before my own debut collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., and though I stayed riding at #2 Amazon Top Paid New Releases in Women’s Poetry behind her highly sought after work for weeks, I was still honored even if there was no way for me to make the top spot! I mean, the book not only debuted as a #1 New York Times Best-seller, but it had the biggest editorial reviews from all the right places (The Boston Globe called her “the most popular poet in America”) and was published and backed by one of the premiere publishers.

She is a beautiful artist and illustrator, which is showcased in the book, as well as a lovely poetic lyricist. Even the poem within the introductory cover copy sells me. It’s exactly how writing poetry makes me feel.

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Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Rupi Kaur, Biograpy – 

Rupi kaur is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of two collections of poetry. She started drawing at the age of five when her mother handed her a paintbrush and said—draw your heart out. Rupi views her life as an exploration of that artistic journey. After completing her degree in rhetoric studies she published her first collection of poems ‘milk and honey’ in 2014. The internationally acclaimed collection sold well over two million copies gracing the New York times bestseller list every week for over a year. It has since been translated into over thirty languages.

Her long-awaited second collection ‘the sun and her flowers’ was published in 2017 and debuted as a #1 New York Times bestseller. Through this collection she continues to explore a variety of themes ranging from love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration, and revolution. Rupi has performed her poetry across the world. Her illustrations, along with her design and art direction are warmly embraced and she hopes to continue this expression for years to come.

Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire, and Beauty, by Nikita Gill

This collection is full of thought-provoking reflections with dramatic imagery and visions. If you doubt your place in the universe and you need to draw strength, this one is for you. Another compelling cover, but the words inside are what will latch ahold of mind and soul, reminding you of your inner power.

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A stunning collection of poetry on feminism, trauma, survival, and empowerment.

You cannot burn away
What has always been aflame

Wild Embers explores the fire that lies within every soul, weaving words around ideas of feeling at home in your own skin, allowing yourself to heal, and learning to embrace your uniqueness with love from the universe.

Featuring rewritten fairytale heroines, goddess wisdom, and poetry that burns with revolution, this collection is an explosion of femininity, empowerment, and personal growth.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Nikita Gill, Biograpy – 

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and poet living in the south of England. With a huge online following, her words have entranced hearts and minds all over the world.

Sea of Strangers, by Lang Leav

This collection is a mixture of poems, thoughts, essays, reflections on love and life. Her perspective is honest yet unique and also contemplating. I love collections that make you think and apply the questions to your own life. Don’t let the simple cover fool you, this is an international best-selling author for a reason.

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This completely original collection of poetry and prose will not only delight her avid fans but is sure to capture the imagination of a whole new audience. With the turn of every page, Sea of Strangers invites you to go beyond love and loss to explore themes of self-discovery and empowerment as you navigate your way around the human heart.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Lang Leav, Biography – 

Lang Leav is an international best-selling author and social media sensation. She is the winner of a Qantas Spirit of Youth Award and coveted Churchill Fellowship. Her books continue to top bestseller charts in bookstores worldwide and Lullabies, was the 2014 winner of the Goodreads Choice award for poetry.

Lang has been featured in various publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Straits Times, The Guardian and The New York Times. She currently resides in New Zealand with her partner and fellow author Michael Faudet.

Blue Rose by Carol Muske-Dukes

I’m afraid I can only say I’m looking forward to this one, as it doesn’t publish until April 2, 2018, but I am highly interested in reading it and thought some of you might be as well. Carol’s reviews indicate she has a knack for the complexities of life and womanhood and her writings couldn’t be more poignant for today. I’ll be checking it out.

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A new collection of emotionally rich, issue-oriented poems from an award-winning poet whose work “has long been essential reading” (Jorie Graham)

Carol Muske-Dukes has won acclaim for poetry that marries sophisticated intelligence, emotional resonance, and lyrical intensity.  The poems in her new collection, Blue Rose, navigate around the idea of the unattainable – the elusive nature of poetry, of knowledge, of the fact that we know so little of the lives of others, of the world in which we live.  Some poems respond to matters of women, birth, and the struggle for reproductive rights, or to issues like gun control and climate change, while others draw inspiration from the lives of women who persisted outside of convention, in poetry, art, science:  the painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, the scientist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, and the Californian poet and writer Ina Coolbrith, the first poet laureate ever appointed in America.

Amazon

Carol Muske-Dukes, Biography

Carol Muske-Dukes is the author of eight books of poems, including Sparrow, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; four novels; two collections of essays; and Crossing State Lines:  An American Renga, co-edited with Bob Holman.  She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California, and was California Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2011.

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by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi is the author of the dark poetry and short story collection, Breathe. Breathe. from Unnerving (Oct. 2017), which features emotional poetry and prose dealing with domestic violence, assault, illness, and grief, as well as the magical, mysterious, and dark.

She’s also been published in the anthology Hardened Hearts, My Favorite Story, and Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. She is currently the guest editor at Unnerving for an anthology of poetry and short stories with a Gothic theme called Haunted Are These Houses. She’s currently working on many other pieces in process.

Working a journalist, editor, publicist, and marketing and public relations professional for the last twenty years, she has bachelor of arts degrees in Journalism, English, and History from the private college, Ashland University.

Born in England, she now lives in the woods in rural Ohio and serves as chair of the board of the local mental health center and rape crisis domestic violence safe haven.

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Filed under Breathe Breathe, Feature Articles, women in history

International Women’s Day: A Poem, A Word, A Pledge

A Step Forward

You hear our voices,
you say you stand with us,
but you should break down those walls,
and SEE us, in all our magnificence,
because we glow, yes we glow.

We are the passion of the universe,
contained within our hearts.

We are women.

– Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, 2018

 

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Found on the Internet for WallpaperSeries.com

 

It’s #InternationalWomensDay, or #IWD2018, and people around the world are rallying and protesting against gender inequality and sexual discrimination. I’ve been promoting this day for a decade, and this is the first one I’ve seen as much movement as I have in utilizing it as a catalyst for change not just awareness. I’m glad to see it happen. Women are amazing individuals with so much to offer the world. In theory, if things were fine, I wouldn’t even have to make that claim!

In essence, International Women’s Day is the marker to honor the Women’s Rights Movement and all those who came before us who were spit on, jailed, starved, ridiculed, and more as they fought for women to have the rights to vote, own land, have a bank account, and not be locked away in asylums. I’m glad to see women are taking ownership and heading back toward making progress again. In fact, the theme this year is #PressforProgress.

On my site here, you’ll find many great articles on women in history and making history, both on the page dedicated to that series, as March is also Women in History Month, but in interviews and book reviews as well. I’m currently taking articles about these women, so please contact me to send them in. I often interview and review books by women on this site and you’ll easily see that if you take a quick perusal through the archives.

Outside of publishing, I’ve spent decades fighting for women’s causes, from when I was news editor at my college paper and I fought against campus rape and it being reported, to when I was in healthcare and became the Young Careerist representative for Ohio at the national Business and Professional Women’s organization’s annual conference where I spoke about making strides for heart health in women. I’ve sat on a sub-committee for women’s health education, primarily in regards to those underprivileged, of the board of the Ohio Governor’s Office for Women’s Initiatives (a department and program that Republican Governor Kasich did away with when he took office) and assisted with statewide events to empower women. I’ve raised funds through events I’ve put on for women’s health, women’s shelters, and those battling cancer. Currently, I am the chair of the board at a local mental health center which also oversees our local rape crisis and domestic violence shelter.

In publishing, I advocate for women in certain genres, like horror, to have their voices heard and offer platforms for them to do so. In my writing, I fight against domestic violence, rape, assault, and confinement. My collection Breathe. Breathe., of poetry and short stories, in my story within the anthology Hardened Hearts, and even my poem in Enchanted Conversation magazine have all tackled these themes. On the site, on social media, and in articles, I share the life and times of historical writers, in several genres, because often they’ve also been involved in women’s liberation.

I still feel I don’t do enough. There is always more to do. I’ll keep doing it. I promise now I’ll get back to writing more essays so my own voice is heard. I’ll keep those women in history alive, those marginalized, those without a platform. I’ll keep serving those crying out in need and the disadvantaged. I’ll keep helping women out of domestic abuse situations.

And it’s not only women need to fight and showcase women, it’s men too. It’s going to take unity of both genders to make this work.

What will you do?

 

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Found at Picsymag

 

 

 

 

 

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Kleenex for Your Valentine: February Reminds Me of My Writing (and Tainted Love)

I meant to feature a post for Valentine’s Day on the site, but last week ended up intense and busy in the indie horror world and other work priorities took up my time, as well I had been pretty ill the days before and was still recovering. Certainly, February (as a whole) is available for talking about love, is it not? Even love gone awry? I suppose we can talk, read, and write about it any time, I know I do, so it’s always a good time in my book (well, IN my writings, if you read them, love is not always a good time). Whether you spent Valentine’s Day happy in love, alone and happy, or crying, I’ve got something myself to say about love. It takes on many forms and is often fodder for writers like me to explore.

First, I’d draw attention to my poem “Chained by Love,” which was featured in the February 2018 issue of Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. My poem showcased the love between moral Raymond and sea serpent/mermaid Melusine in medieval France folklore. You’ll see their happiness takes a different turn. You can read it for free in the magazine HERE. I’d like to again say thanks to them for choosing my piece to publish and for putting out such a gorgeous edition.

“A beautiful, tragic fairy tale.” – Author R.J. Crowder

“Very powerful, Erin. I loved it.” – Bram Stoker Nominated Author Jeremy Hepler

“Well done. Enjoyed it!” – Illustrator and Writer Michael Mitchell

ChainedByLove-AL-MEHAIRI-ArtAmandaBergloff

On a different note, I failed to announce on my site here at the end of the year, but I have a story called “The Heart of the Orchard” featured in the anthology HARDENED HEARTS, which released from Unnerving in December 2017. It’s been widely reviewed, shared on social media to high regard, and I’m pleased that my story has been doing quite well. My story is like a crime/serial killer/revenge story wrapped up with a fairy tale vibe. It’s a little bit of something I’ll always do to have a bit of the feel of grim fairy tales in my work. I grew up with Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and other folklore inspiring me and it’s not unusual it transferred into my work. The darker the better, but for me, it’s a way of dealing with trauma and fears.

In this anthology there are all types of stories from love that hurts, to love gone wrong, to weird love, to the love of something unusual, to the loss of a loved one, but always each will get you feeling. Here is the synopsis and list of authors:

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste
“It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot” by Somer Canon
“What is Love?” by Calvin Demmer
“Heirloom” by Theresa Braun
“The Recluse” by John Boden
“Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous
“The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady
“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” by J.L. Knight
“Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani
“Burning Samantha” by Scott Paul Hallam
“Class of 2000” by Robert Dean
“Learning to Love” by Jennifer Williams
“Brothers” by Leo X. Robertson
“Porcelain Skin” by Laura Blackwell
“The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
“Meeting the Parents” by Sarah L. Johnson
“Matchmaker” by Meg Elison

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row (and Bram Stoker Nominated Author) and more. Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.

Praise for my story in Hardened Hearts, “The Heart of the Orchard” –

“The Heart of the Orchard by: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – Loved, loved, loved this one—the setting, the tone, the writing—all of it was great!” – Literary Dust

‘The Heart of the Orchard’ by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi is another of the strongest works in the anthology. A dark fairy tale focussing on a young woman with a scarred past who is offered help in her quest to succeed with her fruit orchard by a character known only as The Orchard Man. She gratefully accepts his assistance in the form of herbs for her sleeplessness and fertiliser for her peach trees.” – This is Horror

“THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. This read almost like a warped fairy tale, and as we all know, fairy tales can often be quite grim.” – Char’s Horror Corner (in listing the tales that stood out for her)

“THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – This one deserved its own book also! A+” – Book Dragon Girl (in listing her favorite stories)

Praise for Hardened Hearts anthology overall –

“…consistently strong gathering of tales which will elicit a number of different emotions. Highly recommended.” – The Grim Reader

“I believe the fact that the authors decided to mix love and horror into the mix was a brilliant idea. The literature was varied but strong, and each to its own was enjoyable to read.” -Happy Booker

HARDENED HEARTS is a collection of love at its best and worst from a group of authors who make an art out of storytelling. There is a story for everyone from fantasy to dark horror and they prove that love makes the world go ‘round and ‘round and ‘round. From the fascinating foreword to the very last word, prepare to be entertained through a myriad of your own emotions and reactions to each tale, all in the name of love.” – The Tome Tender Book Blog

“Love and horror are the very best of bedfellows if done well. “Hardened Hearts” by Various Authors goes far beyond that. These are not your everyday kind of love stories (or maybe for you they are). They are dark, twisted and disturbing. Love will be redefined from one story to the next. 17 brilliantly written short stories by some very talented word artists.” – Books in My Library Blog

“Nearly every single story by this group of majorly talented authors, is unique, horrific, and thought-provoking. There were a couple that were just kind of meh for me, but they do have great merit and deserve a read too. With this eclectic bunch, there really is something for everyone.” – Reeds and Reels

“A brave anthology which does away with binary concepts of gender, love and sex, instead presenting the reader with love that is realistic, heartfelt, though at times, naturally, stepping into the fantastical.” – This is Horror

I was also thrilled that for some, my story resonated, or they found it worthy of special mention. I know that my story, besides having some fantastical components, can also be unsettling because it’s based on some trauma I experienced in my own life. I channeled this into my character, and though she was not privy to it herself (and you’ll see why if you read the story), it had wreaked havoc on her soul and she sought out revenge. I think it is the ultimate in hardening a heart and it was what propelled me to write it when Eddie, the editor/publisher, told me the theme.

 

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In my dark poetry and fiction collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., being in relationships is explored because I wrote my emotions about living in a domestic violence situation for many years into some of my poems. I know they are quite heart-wrenching, but keep in mind, I did live this too. It’s been a process, but nothing has worked quite as good for me in healing over these last 14 years than in finishing this collection and sharing it. If you like love gone wrong, stories about domestic relationships, whether to connect or get a bird’s eye view or for suspense, and you like books like Gone Girl, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, Big Little Lies, and other such, you may want to give some of the poems and stories in my collection a try. For the stories, I’d especially recommend my “Vahalla Lane” mini-series of fiction.

BreatheBreathe

And I just want to say after all this darkness, I did have a very nice Valentine’s Week, spoiled by time with my kids and making unicorn Valentines, lots of hugs, kisses, and love from both Tim and the kids, and some chocolate and a beautiful flowering rose cactus. I am happy to have a family understand love gone wrong, but also love done right.

As much as I love dark fiction, I also love good suspense thrillers, historical fiction (including some with romance, especially if they are biographical about women in history), and mysteries. I’ll have some posts about those coming up soon.

If you have some good book suggestions in this realm, or comments on any of the above, please feel free to comment. I love them!

Love to you all,

Erin

 

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Welcome to 2018: Book Lovers and Writers Unite!

emoticon hiWelcome to the SEVENTH year here at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! That’s right, SEVEN years! We are celebrating our seventh year of bringing you news about books, reviews, interviews, guest articles, and our professional editing and publicity services. We’ve seen a lot happen over these last seven years and I want to personally thank everyone, in all the genres we dabble in, for their support. You have my eternal gratitude for your respect, inspiration, and love.

UPDATE ON THIS BLOG

At times, I get so busy working in publishing, polishing books by others and sharing them with the world, and in what little free time I have, and depending on the season, I have the needs of my growing three kids, so this blog doesn’t see as many reviews or interviews as in the days I tried to do five to six posts a week that were strictly reviews and interviews. In fact, when I started it seven years ago, it was to talk about the books I was writing! It was my outlet for that from my busy job(s) as a marketing and PR professional out there in the world.

Now, I’m running Hook of a Book Media and working with many top indie authors and writers, even bloggers and publishers, on editing, writing mentorship, and marketing and public relations/publicity. Currently, I work with not only authors, but directly for Sinister Grin Press as an editor and doing marketing and publicity as well as Raw Dog Screaming Press. Working in publishing is very busy. I often work 7 days a week and some days 15-18 hours a day, seasonally. Out of the book industry, I still occasionally do marketing, advertising, copy writing, and PR work for business and non-profits. As well, I am chair of the board of directors of a our local mental health center and rape crisis domestic violence shelter. This also keeps me busy!

But since I’ve stopped doing as many posts, I’m happy to say though that my traffic, due to all my well-written content, stays very high each month and posts are read and re-read even from many years ago. I learned to write for SEO many moons ago, and so much of my views come from google searches. I’m very proud of that. As much as I can, I hope to continue to do reviews, interviews, news, and hosting guest articles on my blog, interspersed with news of my own publications and writing pursuits. This is NOT a review mill, but a site run by an educated journalist, a PR professional, editor, and author.

WHAT NOT TO DO AS AN AUTHOR

I’ve not got off to a great start of posting here in 2018 yet, at least in the realm of posting reviews and interviews at least. My first major post at the beginning of the month was to be an interview with a historical fiction author. It was one that I was to post months prior, but that I hadn’t gotten posted due to our overwhelming personal struggles last year (including moving to a rural area, no internet service – then it taking over two months of a wait for installation, family problems, my son having a very long extended illness, my kids needing me, etc), and the blog becoming a last priority.

As the air cleared a little, and our internet finally was hooked up, and life had a bit more of a routine, even on crazy days, I began to catch up, and I posted the interview. I noted at the beginning of the interview about the delay, the season, and that I wanted to get 2018 off to a better start. Unfortunately, the author asked me, after I had spent about two hours formatting it, to take it down and re-post in the coming summer, also indicating to me that in the introduction I had written, since I noted one thing of accomplishment she had achieved since my previous review posted,  I had left off two awards she won (I hadn’t heard).

As this blog is volunteer-run, posts and hours to do them are always free, and I’m already spread very thin, often times only sleeping two hours a night (and sometimes struggling with my own health issues), so I didn’t really take too kindly to this at all from a personal stand-point. Being cordial back, and as always a professional, I removed the post and only asked her to remind me when she wanted posted, but did indicate to her that I wished she had respected my judgement. I hold no ill will. But as a future note to authors, both from the stance of running this site and personal desires, plus as a note from me as a professional, don’t do this. Don’t harass, embarrass, or take bloggers, reviewers, or media and their time for granted. Most of them, if not all of them, in the book world, do it as a labor of love. When you do these things, it makes it more like free labor and less like love.

My interviews, since I am a trained journalist, consist of originality every time. I write each interview catered toward the author. I sometimes ask the hard questions. I could get paid for my interviews, and I have, but on my own site they are free to you. Please understand the time involved in writing and posting them. It’s your job as an author to respect my time as well as your own, provide me with good answers, photos to accompany them (often times I spend time searching them out and verifying for use), and to share it along with me. This is the same advice I give my author clients, or any clients in entertainment or even business, when working with other sites or the media.

MY WRITING

And all of this talk of time does even mention the fact that I’ve made goals for myself of actually carving out more time for my own writing. Last year saw my own first collection published, a dark poetry and fiction mix called BREATHE. BREATHE. by Unnerving, as well as work in two more anthologies, HARDENED HEARTS from Unnerving and MY FAVORITE STORY from Project Entertainment Network, in which authors and podcasts hosts featured their favorite story. Proud to say I am in this with authors like Brian Keene, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Mary SanGiovanni, and more. This year, I already have two secret projects going and I’m writing and submitting more this year as well. I need to be creative too, just like you do.

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So, now that I’ve cleared the air, I hope that my site continues to offer the best it can, as well as our business Hook of a Book Media, in which we offer editing, writing mentorship, publicity services, and more. Tim is now also offering editing services. I’m often booked, so please consider him if you’re looking for editing services as well. You can find information on that under our services tab. We offer respect and professionalism and support those who bring their best selves as well.

WANT TO BE FEATURED?

I am always open for guest article submissions, either articles you’ve written or interviews you’d like to do with others as a feature on my site. As well, I’m always available to try to fit in writing a guest article for your site too or to be interviewed. For book reviews, we are always open to receiving e-mails about new titles you’d like us to consider. I do not do formal reviews of clients book or book from publishers I directly work with on my blog or other online sites, for ethical reasons.

YOU CAN BE INVOLVED HERE

Upcoming projects of note for the site: we will doing volunteer campaigns for Women in Horror Month, Women in History, and National Poetry Month! You can check each individual page on this site for the calls and more information ongoing.

Thanks for a great seven years so far, and really looking forward to a wonderful 2018 in the book world. My best advice to everyone: JUST BREATHE. HAVE PATIENCE. IT WILL BE OKAY! 🙂

If you follow me here, THANK YOU!!

-Erin

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Filed under Book Reviews, Book Services, Breathe Breathe, Editing, Feature Articles, Guest Posts, My Writing, Q and A with Authors, women in history

Evangeline: Guest Article by Catherine Cavendish – Did You Have an Invisible Friend? Spooky!

This evening I have a spooky guest article from one of my favorite gothic, scary writers who has also become a good friend, Cat Cavendish. She writes some of the favorite articles I feature here on this site. I always appreciate her dropping by. Yesterday was the release of her latest work, The Devil’s Serenade. Stay around after the post and spend a few bucks to enjoy the book yourself. You won’t be sorry!

Evangeline

by Catherine Cavendish, Author of The Devil’s Serenade

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When you were growing up, did you have an imaginary friend? Did they seem real to you? Maybe sort-of-real. You could talk to them, imagine their responses, play with them but you probably kept the ‘relationship’ within certain boundaries – however young you were. In my case, I invented an entire family of siblings – three sisters (two older, one a few years younger) and an older brother who looked out for us girls. Being an only child, I found them comforting, and fun, but I never imagined them to be real. They, in turn, kept themselves firmly lodged in my own mind and never attempted to cross any boundary into the real world.

In my new novel, The Devil’s Serenade, my central character also had an imaginary family when she was a child. Scarily for her, they now start to appear in her real adult world.

Of course, my story is fiction, but there have been a number of accounts of small children making ‘friends’ with most unsuitable imaginary friends – who then cross the line. They can do this, of course, because they are not really imaginary at all – just invisible, at least to all except the child itself.

Take the case of a couple called Mark and Sarah. They had a young pre-school age daughter – Sophia – and, in order to give her a better life, moved from London to a sizeable country house dating back a couple of hundred years. At first, they were delighted with their new home and the peace and tranquility of an English village really appealed to them. But that was before things started to go badly wrong.

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It all started one day in summer when Sophia went missing. She had been playing in her room but, when her mother went up to check on her, she wasn’t there. Mark had gone out, taking the family dog – Daisy –  for a walk. Suddenly there was a mighty crash from the floor above and Sarah raced up the stairs. She threw open the door of a room that had formerly been a nursery and still contained Victorian and Edwardian children’s toys. There was no sign either of the cause of the crash or of Sophia and, puzzled, Sarah turned to leave the room. She jumped when she saw Sophia in the doorway.

The two went downstairs to the kitchen and Sarah poured her daughter a glass of milk. Sophia looked thoughtful for a few moments and then spoke. “Mummy, I want to play with the dolls’ house upstairs but Evangeline told me it was her sister’s and I can’t.”

“Who’s Evangeline?” her mother asked.

“My new friend.”

Sarah remembered that she too had had an imaginary friend when she was around Sophia’s age and thought no more of it. Then Mark returned with Daisy. Sophia had gone back to her room to play with her new ‘friend’. As soon as Mark opened the front door, Daisy bounded up the stairs, barking her head off. She raced into Sophia’s room and the little girl screamed.

“Evangeline’s scared of dogs! Get Daisy away!”

The little girl’s eyes were wide, her face blanched. Sarah felt a chill of fear race through her body. Something wasn’t right. This imaginary friend seemed far more real to her than her own had been. Mark pulled Daisy out of the room and Sarah comforted her sobbing child.

“I’m sorry, Mummy, but dogs really scare Evangeline.”

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The next few days were fairly uneventful. Sophia constantly chattered about her new friend. “Evangeline let me play with the dolls’ house. She’s very nice.”

“Good,” her mother replied, going along with what she believed to be her child’s fantasy, but still unable to reconcile the trepidation she felt.

Then, over the next few days, Evangeline seemed to misbehave. Sophia complained that she wouldn’t share her toys anymore.

One evening, when Mark was away on business, Sarah’s fears became a terrifying encounter.

Sophia had fallen asleep on the sofa in the living room and her mother hadn’t the heart to wake her. The grandfather clock began to chime midnight when the lights flickered and then went out. Sarah stumbled out of the kitchen with a flashlight in her hand and opened the living room door. A scream caught in her throat at the sight that greeted her in the beam from her torch.

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 A young girl, no more than thirteen or fourteen, wearing a long, frilly white dress in late Victorian style, was kneeling on the floor next to Sophia, stroking the child’s hair and softly singing a lullaby. Evangeline. It had to be. But why was she here?

“Get away from her!” Sarah yelled. Suddenly Daisy bounded past her and started barking. Clearly the dog was seeing what she was. Sophia woke and burst into tears.

The apparition was on her feet and backing away from Daisy, a look of frozen terror on her face.

“Who are you? What do you want from my daughter?” Sarah cried.

But Evangeline ignored her. It seemed her only concern was to get away from the dog. She dashed across the room, turned, screamed and disappeared. The lights instantly came back on.

Sarah called Mark who came home straightaway. The couple called in the local priest, who knew something of the history of the house. He listened to their story, his expression increasingly amazed at what they told him. It transpired that a family with a young daughter had lived in the house a hundred or more years earlier and there had been a terrible tragedy. The family dog, normally placid and good with children, inexplicably turned on the girl and savaged her. She died from her injuries.

The girl’s name was Evangeline.

The priest blessed the house and the family never saw or heard the ghost girl again. They have never been able to find a rational explanation for their experience and it seems Sophia has forgotten she ever had a friend who couldn’t be there.

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Now, to give you a taste of The Devil’s Serenade, here’s the blurb:

Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…

“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.

She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.

As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.

Here’s an extract:

A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer.

The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.

I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.

I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner. Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.

I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.

You can find The Devil’s Serenade here:

 Samhain Publishing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

And other online retailers

About the author:

Catherine Cavendish

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories.

She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.

Other titles include: The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, Dark Avenging Angel, The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, Cold Revenge and In My Lady’s Chamber.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Tsu

 

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Cat Thursday Christmas!

Hi everyone! I have a ton of reviews and interviews to catch up with on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! There will be quite a few coming this month as I stuck my nose to the grind with my Hook of a Book Media and Publicity work AND this blog to make some proper headway.

To keep my sanity, I thought I’d do a fun post. But you’ll have to either love cats or find humor in them to like this post.

Michelle over at True Book Addict does Cat Thursday Christmas and I thought that was a cute idea! Thanks Michelle! So here is my take on cats and Christmas…

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Isn’t there something about cats and books? Most people that like books, or are writers, seem to like cats, even if they lay across keyboards, sit on our papers, and sit on bookshelves.

If there is something cats love more than paper and books, it’s Christmas trees and ornaments, right? I always had cats growing up. I’m partial to black, and black and white, cats myself. It never failed every year that my cat, Mittens, would climb the tree and sleep in the middle of it. She passed away when I was in college, but my mom had a hand-painted ornament of her done for me and so she sits on my tree every year still. I remember lots of ornament batting, and her knocking them off the tree and running around the house with them, and maybe even our tree almost coming over one or two times from her climbing. Then there was the time my other cat, a black Siamese, caught a mouse, wrapped it in tinsel she somehow gathered from the tree, and then placing it under like a present!

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Our family has another black and white cat now. He sniffs around when we put up our tree and checks out our boxes, wanting to sleep in them while we decorate, but beyond that he’s never too interested in the tree! Sometimes he sleeps under it. It’s uncanny really. He could destroy it if he wanted, and he loves to play, but he doesn’t bother our tree. He does get excited for his stocking though! Maybe he has a deal with the reindeer or he’s trying to stay on Santa’s good side! Or possibly, he’s just thankful I don’t dress him up like so many people do to cats and then take photos! My case in point below…

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I have no idea who those cats belong to, but the photos are funny! <pulled them off a Google search>

Maybe the reason cats destroy trees is because Santa doesn’t use them for any duties, not that cats like to do anything other than sleep and eat! But really can we blame him for not using cats?

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Now that we’ve had a good laugh, I will say that cats do make Christmas fun and we love them even with their quirky personality traits!

My kids and I read lots of stories of Christmas cats, some with beautiful art and endearing stories, and some with crazy cats like Bad Kitty and Splat the Cat (both black and white you know!). One of those books we read every year is A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown. I love the art in this book. You can view more HERE.

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Do you have any Christmas cat books you love to read or that you read with your kids? Feel free to leave in the comments!

Merry Christmas from our cat and to all the Christmas cats out there! May your Christmas be blessed with ornaments to bat, your stockings filled with catnip, and your 2016 find plenty of books to sleep on! This card by Anne Marsh looks just like my cat!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day Hello and Links!

erin go braghHappy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! It’s the day I most like saying “Erin Go Bragh!” Yes, even though I was born in England, I am named after the country of Ireland. It was my dad’s idea, his grandparents on his mother’s side were Irish.

I know usually each year I have plenty to post to my blog about the day, from books and movies to read and watch, to our activities at home, to my kid’s fun stories, but this year, we just seem to have been too busy to compile lists and even the kids didn’t get their stories written. You’ll have to see my post earlier today where I review Reluctantly Charmed, a fun novel set in Ireland that debuted today (3/17/2015).

But on Sunday, we did eat my traditional Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread, drank Leprechaun punch, and had our “Find the Leprechaun Gold” scavenger hunt as usual, as we watched the animated movie The Secret of the Kells.

This year I’d thought I’d post links to past blogs from St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe take a peek at those if you missed them before or have a look again. There are children’s book suggestions, movie suggestions, recipes, and my kid’s original stories from last year.

Children’s Book Ideas and Irish Reads

Book and Movie Ideas/Family Fun

3 Original Irish Stories by My Kids

An Oldie Post with Recipes

Enjoy! May you be blessed today!

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Read Across America/Dr. Seuss Day, March 2 + Favorite Quotes

Today was Read Across America Day AND Dr. Seuss Day in honor of his birthday! I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss. I fondly remember having a subscription to the books..you know, where once a month a couple appeared in the mail? It was always such a thrill. I still have my collection and now my children have read them!! His creative spirit is admirable as well as his huge heart for humanity and the environment.

I’m glad he still is enjoyed by each generation. My 7 year old found some pencils, erasers, and bookmarks with Dr. Seuss characters on them at the store on Friday night, so she was more than prepared to celebrate for the entire year, not just the day!

What Dr. Seuss book inspired you? Which books do you love? 

Dr. Seuss never gets old in our hearts!! Here are some fave quotes, perfect for anyone:

“Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.

“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

MARCH-2nd-Read-Across-America-Day-dr-seuss

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It’s Krampusnacht! Find Out Who Author Matt Manochio Would Cast in His Movie

It’s Dec. 5 and Krampusnacht, the night that Krampus, with his horned-head, lolling tongue, and bushy fur comes out with bag or wash bucket on his back to cart of naughty children, pass out coal, and beat those who’ve been spicy with a switch!  So, you better hope you’ve been good, because tomorrow is Saint Nicholas Day and you’ll want to be able to enjoy smiles and gifts and give that rosy cheeked icon a hug. I doubt Krampus gives hugs.

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I just love any good folklore and have always been a fan of Christmas Around the World mythology. Anyway, for almost a few months now I’ve been working at the publicist for Matt Manochio, the author of The Dark Servant that released on Nov. 4, giving readers just enough time to plan to be good before today hit. I know I didn’t want my hiney beat with a bundle of twigs! It’s been a BLAST! You can see all the tour stops we’ve had and places we’ve spread the word about Krampus (who, what, where, when), HERE.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of The Dark Servant, don’t miss out on the fun. But also, Matt has a wonderful message in the book about teenage bullying, stemming from school shootings and such. It’s a book that hits the Young Adult market as well, and the prose is clean enough for that sort of purchase. He has solid characters and really brings a true legend to life. It’s an amazing debut for an author we’ll see a lot more of in the future.

AND DON’T MISS THE GIVEAWAY CONTEST BELOW TO WIN A KRAMPUS HOODIE AND SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK! READ ALL THE WAY DOWN TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE A COOL PINTEREST BOARD AND WIN THE CONTEST.

Now, in honor of Krampusnacht, Matt has written a special post just for my blog. Since he’s running on fumes to create awareness of Krampus (and The Dark Servant), I think Santa will bring him special gifts in his stocking this year, don’t you?

Take it away, Matt!

Who Would I Cast in My Krampus Movie?
by Matt Manochio, Author

Matt Dressedin  Krampus Mask / Photo Courtesy of Bob Karp

Matt Dressed in Krampus Mask During Recent Book Signing / Photo Courtesy of Bob Karp

It is Krampusnacht today—just like it is in my book, The Dark Servant.

When writing any type of novel, the author typically envisions which actors would be best for the movie. Because we all want to sell the movie rights. One independent Krampus film has already been released. Kevin Smith, of Clerks fame, and a Jersey guy like me, will release a movie with four Krampus vignettes next Christmas. And I believe there’s one other film in the works.

Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, JJ Abrams and Ridley Scott, listen up! I’m willing to cut a deal, on the condition that I get a say in the casting. (I know I’m in absolutely no position to make these demands, but stay with me.)

Here’s my cast.

Character: Billy Schweitzer: a 17-year-old high school junior who’s 5’9, has a wiry build and blond hair.

Actor: Peta from The Hunger Games movies. Most teenage girls will know the actor’s name, which I’m too lazy to look up. But this guy fits the generic mold and could pass for a teenager even though he’s probably 30 by now.

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Josh Hutcherson (aka Peeta)

Character: Maria Flynn: a 17-year-old high school junior with red hair and who Billy desires more than Gargameldesires Smurfs. (It’s early, my coffee hasn’t kicked in. I’ll try to come up with something better later.)

Actress: Molly Quinn. That’s right! Castle’s daughter. Yes, I know her name but not Peta’s. Get over it. And to my wife, I love you. And Quinn could actually pass for Maria because she’s 21. Sissy Spacek was 27 when Carrie hit screens in 1976. Honestly, casting people?This is a no-brainer.

Character: Donald Schweitzer: middle-aged police chief, fit, 6’4 blond.

Actor: John Schneider: Yes, Bo Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard. I figure SyFy could get in on the action and make an obscene preemptive bid for the film rights, and if they do, John Schneider has SyFy movie sheriff written all over him because I’m pretty sure he’s played one in the past. If John’s busy (which I doubt would be the case), the backup choice is Sir Kenneth Branagh. He’ll probably have to hit the weight room, but if he can play Gilderoy Lockhart, he can pull off Don Schweitzer even though the characters are in no way comparable.

John Schneider

John Schneider

Character: Tim Schweitzer: 18-year-old high school senior—tall, blond, and built like his father, Donald.

Actor: Thor. You know, the Australian guy who was just named People’s Sexiest Famous Actor Alive. You ever notice that people who aren’t famous actors never get Sexiest Man Alive consideration? I mean, nobody’s called me. That’s why I changed the category name (because it’s accurate). But I figure putting a big hunk of man candy in the movie will draw the ladies.

Character: Mike Brembs: Billy’s best friend who’s irreverent and skinny as a rail with black hair.

Actor: Sean Penn from 30 years ago, right around the time he played Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Unfortunately the government hasn’t gotten around to making those solar-powered time machines that get crappy mileage, so we’ll have to go with someone more current. So, let’s see, how about Corey Feldman from 20 years ago. Oh, that’s right. The time machine. Damn! Oh, just cast a damn Jonas Brother. You pick.

Character: Travis Reardon: blond high school quarterback, typical 18-year-old jock.

Actor: Meth Damon. That’s right, that asshole from Breaking Bad who got what he deserved from Jesse after Mr. White popped the trunk and mowed down the skinheads.

Character: Brittany Cabot: Travis’ obnoxious blonde girlfriend who’s also 18 and a cheerleader pretty blonde.

Actress: Kate Upton. Just because. We gotta draw the guys, too. And maybe we can get Justin Verlander’s butt to make a cameo. (Just Google Kate Upton, Justin Verlander, and butt or ass.)

Character: Jason Nicholson: a high school bully who’s Billy’s age and who absolutely deserves to get the shit beat out of him.

Actor: Justin Bieber. Because we all want to see this guy get the shit beat out of him. Even the Canadians.

And finally …

Character: Krampus! A 10-foot-tall furry devil with otherworldly strength and sly personality, and who wields a long chain and a club made of birch branches.

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis wearing a fur suit and a boatload of prosthetic makeup. Under no circumstance do I want my Krampus to be CGI. Give me a guy in a rubber monster mask over Gollum any day of the week. And I don’t want just anybody running around in that suit, I want someone who’ll get into the role and stay there, like your loser stoner brother in the basement. I like the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis thinking he’s Krampus all day on the set, even during lunch break, screaming at the cameramen and beating the gaffers.

Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis

This is just a partial list, there are so many more characters to cast, but these are some of the big roles. And yes, I plan on being a background character somewhere in there. (Again, this is my fantasy. Play along.)

So, Stephen, George, JJ, Ridley, you know where to find me. And if you don’t, it’s not hard. Ask your assistants.

About Krampus~

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

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The Dark Servant, Synopsis~

Santa’s not the only one coming to town …

It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!”
Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!”
Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.”
Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!”
David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.”
Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.”
Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.”
Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.”
John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.”
Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.”
Jon McGoran, author of Drift

Matt Manochio, Biography~

MattHeadshotMatt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway.He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.

To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller.

Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

Author Photo Credit: Eric Schnare

See more about Matt and his book on his website: http://www.mattmanochio.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MattManochio), Pinterest.

Tour Giveaway!

For everyone! CREATE a PINTEREST board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.

Second rule: You must pin Matt’s book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link. Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.

Third Recommendation: Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.

Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!

Prize: A “Santa Checked His List and I’m on the Naughty Side” package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

There might be shipping limitations. Check back to tour page before entering if you live outside the U.S. for updated information.

Example:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/its-old-world-christmas/

And a board about Matt:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/the-dark-servant-matt-manochio/

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Dark Servant on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Matt Manochio) at hookofabook@hotmail.com, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Matt tour graphic Dark Servant

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Anna Belfrage Talks about the History of SUGAR production, but of course!

Welcome the amazing Anna Belfrage today to Oh, for the Hook of a Book with a guest article in honor of the release of the seventh book in her Graham Saga Series! If you missed my review yesterday, check it out here. Take it away Anna, let’s eat cake while everyone else reads, eh??

Sugar and Spice and More than Just Things Nice
by Anna Belfrage, Author of The Graham Saga Series

Loading sugar and molasses for shipping to England Barbados 17th 18th century_jpg

Loading sugar and molasses for shipping to England Barbados 17th 18th century / negroartist.com

Say the West Indies, and most of us think of sun and sea, of palm trees and the soft swaying rhythm of calypso music. We don’t automatically think big business – well, beyond the fact that most of us know there are a couple of attractive tax havens in the Caribbean – but once upon a time the West Indies were a fundamental part of the global economy, part of that lucrative triangular trade in which slaves, sugar and rum were the major components.

The cultivation of sugar was a jealously guarded secret. The Spanish – and Portuguese – colonists wanted to retain some sort of monopoly on this cash crop (Pernambuco in Brazil was the world’s largest sugar producer), but the commercial forces were having none of it, and so sugarcane arrived to Barbados in the 1650’s, where it went on to become the dominant crop.

Interestingly enough, sugar was brought to Barbados by a group of Sephardic Jews, since several years established in Brazil but increasingly dissatisfied with their lot in life. As some of you may know, the Jews had been expulsed from England by Edward I in 1290, and since then the Jews had stayed well away from England and its dominions. But in 1655, a representative of the Jews approached Cromwell and asked that they be allowed to settle in London. Cromwell readily agreed – the man had a grudge the size of an elephant when it came to Catholics, but was substantially more tolerant towards the Jews. Plus, of course, he may have realised the benefits a strong Jewish community would bring to England as a trading nation. And in Barbados, the Sephardic Jews and their extensive knowledge of sugar cultivation were received with enthusiasm.

Sugar is a labour intensive crop. The Sephardic Jews brought with them the technological knowledge of how to crush and prepare the cane, but the actual work needed to be done by someone else. In Pernambuco, sugar had been grown by a multitude of small free-holders, resulting in low yields and too much administration. On Barbados, a slave-based approach was implemented. The economic results were fantastic. The resulting human suffering was inexcusable.

Not all slaves were black – at least not initially. Cromwell, that model of toleration vis-à-vis the Jews, had over 30 000 Irish men carried over the seas to work themselves to death under the Caribbean sun. Why? Because they were papists. Some years later, the officials of the restored monarch, Charles II, sent off boatloads of vociferous Scottish Presbyterians, condemned to servitude on the Barbadian plantations – a harsh and inevitable march towards death, very far from the country and people they loved.

By the time the Monmouth rebels were deposited on Barbados, the sugar production was fuelled by black slaves, brought over en masse from Africa. The pale, undernourished prisoners of the Crown who arrived in 1686 carried little economic value. The men were there to be punished for their rebellion, the Crown hoping to recoup on some of their costs by selling them off as slaves. None of the rebels were expected to live long – in fact, the idea was that they should expire, worked to their limits and beyond.

So who were these Monmouth rebels? Well, in 1685 the Duke of Monmouth decided to claim the English crown for himself, this based on the fact that he was the eldest son of the recently departed Charles II. Problem was, the Duke of Monmouth (James Scott in more informal circles) was illegitimate, even if he maintained that his parents had been secretly married. Hmm. Whatever the case, the flamboyant duke launched an invasion with the aim of overthrowing James II, the new king (and brother of Charles II). The duke hoped that his countrymen would rise in spontaneous rebellion when he landed, this due to James II being Catholic while the duke was a stout Protestant. Didn’t happen, and so the rebellion failed, with several thousands of young men being either executed or transported to the West Indies.

Charlie Graham, the Monmouth rebel depicted in Whither Thou Goest, was a young man with more passion than sense – which is how he ended up as a rebel to begin with. He had no understanding of the complex trading triangle he indirectly became a part of, all he could think about was surviving.

He had no idea that his endless days on the cane fieldsresulted in barrels packed with raw sugar, nor did he know that these barrels ended up on Rhode Island or in England where some of them were converted to rum. Good rum, far more sophisticated than the cane liquor produced by the various  stills on Barbados. That rum would travel the world, was traded for beads and for textiles that were carried to Africa by the slave traders. In Africa, the slavers loaded their holds with men and women who were born free but ended up enslaved – casualties of local wars and local greed.

By the time the slavers returned to the Caribbean with their human cargo, almost a year had passed since the sugar left the island. By then, many of the slaves brought over the previous year were dead, and the off-loaded cargo was easily disposed of, angry, bewildered and frightened people subjected to being sold like animals before they were dragged off to a life that quickly became a vicious circle of too much work, too little food.

No, Charlie knew nothing about the triangular trade, but he knew everything about that vicious circle. He stole, he bullied, hecrawled – all to ensure he survived. There were days when he didn’t want to, when he no longer knew why he struggled so hard to stay alive.

Occasionally, there were things that reminded Charlie of what it was like to be a man. Like when Mr Brown stepped from his house with a book in his hands, and Charlie recalled that he had once read for pleasure, or when the overseer sat smoking a pipe and drinking beer, and Charlie was transported back to evenings in a Dutch inn, with his friends and his hero, the now dead Duke of Monmouth. And then a sharp word would be thrown at him, and he would remember: he was a slave, a branded man, and his life was no longer his own nor would it ever be again. In such moments, he vehemently wished he could die, that the sky would open and fling a bolt of lightning to obliterate his sorry existence. But every morning he woke to yet another day of drudgery, and his heart was far too strong, his body far too young, to allow him to give up on living.

Fortunately for Charlie, he had an uncle named Matthew Graham, a man with his own bitter memories from his time as an indentured servant. Together with his wife, Alex, Matthew set off on an expedition to find Charlie – if nothing else to accord him a decent burial. That made Charlie an exception. Most of the Monmouth rebels had no one who came looking. Most of them would have died before the ten year sentence expired – except, of course, that James II was ousted and replaced by a Protestant king. The surviving rebels were pardoned, even if their new owners were reluctant to let them go. By 1691, more than half of the rebels had been freed, but with no money they remained stuck very far away from home. Maybe they consoled themselves with cane liquor.

These days, the best rum is mostly produced locally. These days, there is no triangular trade in which sugar becomes rum becomes slaves becomes sugar and so on. These days, Barbados is an island of golden sands and blue seas, a little slice of paradise. But if you leave the beaches and go exploring, if you take the time to visit the interior where the cane fields rustle like carpets of giant grass, chances are you may hear them, the whispered voices of the unfortunates who were yanked away from homes and loved ones, to end their days as slaves.

Anna Belgrage, Biography~

03_Anna BelfrageAnna Belfrage combines an exciting day job as the CEO of a multinational listed group with her writing endeavours. When she isn’t writing a novel, she is probably working on a post or catching up on her reading.

Other than work and writing, Anna finds time to bake and drink copious amounts of tea, preferably with a chocolaty nibble on the side. And yes, now and then she is known to visit a gym as a consequence…

For more info about Anna, visit her website or her Amazon page. You can also find her on her blog. Whither Thou Goest is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Whither Thou Goest, Synopsis~

01_Whither Thou GoestPublication Date: November 1, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip
Series: The Graham Saga

Whither Thou Goest is the seventh book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

In their rural home in the Colony of Maryland, Matthew and Alex Graham are still recovering from the awful events of the previous years when Luke Graham, Matthew’s estranged brother, asks them for a favour.

Alex has no problems whatsoever ignoring Luke’s sad plea for help. In her opinion Matthew’s brother is an evil excuse of a man who deserves whatever nasty stuff fate throws at him. Except, as Matthew points out, Luke is begging them to save his son – his misled Charlie, one of the Monmouth rebels – and can Charlie Graham be held responsible for his father’s ill deeds?

So off they go on yet another adventure, this time to the West Indies to find a young man neither of them knows but who faces imminent death on a sugar plantation, condemned to slavery for treason. The journey is hazardous and along the way Alex comes face to face with a most disturbing ghost from her previous life, a man she would much have preferred never to have met.

Time is running out for Charlie Graham, Matthew is haunted by reawakened memories of his days as an indentured servant, and then there’s the eerie Mr Brown, Charlie’s new owner, who will do anything to keep his secrets safe, anything at all.

Will Matthew deliver his nephew from imminent death? And will they ever make it back home?

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (March 2015)

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/whitherthougoestblogtour/

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