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Expanded Version of My BREATHE. BREATHE. Mixed Dark Fiction Collection is Here!

BreatheBreatheHey all, so today my mixed dark fiction collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., came out in its expanded edition and also in print and e-book format. When it first published in July, it was a handmade, limited edition chapbook from Unnerving (a Canadian magazine and book publisher), and it sold out. Now, I worked feverishly and and added 50% more poems and added three more short stories to accompany the previous two. I am really happy with how this turned out and how all the various themes mesh together under the large umbrella of breathing – through trauma, pain, murder, depression, anxiety, etc. And yet I also weaved folklore, history, mystery, and murder into it the poetry and the stories. There is also revenge, anger, fear, and madness tucked into the pages and wrapped in a Gothic atmosphere.

Selcouth Station remarked on the content in the limited edition that it was: “Raw, risky, and brave. Breathe Breathe could tear itself apart withthe amount of raw emotion contained in its fifty-seven pages. Al-Mehairi sheds light on difficult topics such as abuse, anxiety, loneliness, and love that hurts more than heals.”

I hope you’ll take a chance on my collection. It has a lovely foreword from the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk (We Are Monsters) to touchingly lead readers into the work. The response has been so kind and I am so humbled by the support and the thoughts on my work. I look forward to hearing from any readers who want to offer their thoughts too.

You can find it in paperback and kindle now on Amazon, or Kobo, but more online sites should pop up soon too. I’ll be back to offer more updates. And please do review or add my book to your TBR shelf on GoodReads too!

What’s it about?

Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.

In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.

In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.

In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.

Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.

With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk (We Are Monsters), Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you.

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.

dandelion quote

Praise for Breathe. Breathe.

“It’s full of the unexpected – bits of lace cut through with the odd and the horrible and the beautiful. Through it all I sense the power of a survivor!! And I love that!”

  • Sue Harrison, internationally best-selling author of Mother Earth Father Sky

“In Breathe. Breathe., Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi employs sharp, jagged words arranged in sparse, disturbingly visceral clusters to force readers to “breathe” through the fear and pain of abuse and personal terror. It’s a sense reinforced by the deceptively quiet but disquieting story, “Dandelion Yellow.” Filled with sharp sensory detail, the highlight is “Life-Giver of the Nile,” an evocative circular time-shift tale in which an Egyptologist’s soul is required by Anuket, ancient and modern goddess of the Nile, for a greater purpose. Whether in poetry or prose, dark kernels nestled within horror tropes indicate that Al-Mehairi writes from the gut and from the heart but with the fierceness of a survivor, the soul of a fearless champion. This mixed collection is a fine introduction to a strong, intriguing new voice in dark fiction.”

  • W.D. Gagliani, Bram Stoker Finalist, author of Wolf’s Trap (Nick Lupo Series)

“Breathe. Breathe. is at times haunting, visceral, bittersweet, and tender. Erin Al Mehairi bares her soul and invites readers to devour it whole.”

  • Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching

“Erin Al-Mehairi weaves a web of narrative and poetry both beautiful and nightmare-inducing in Breathe. Breathe., invoking heartache and the need to see through the shining masks life presents us to confront the darkness it truly holds.”

  • Michelle Garza, co-author of Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue

”I loved Dandelion Yellow.  I was hyperventilating at the end, but it was such a beautiful, painful and artful tale.  I’ll be saying that last line to myself for weeks at least. Just beautiful.  I’m re-reading the rest.  One read just isn’t enough because DAYUM.  Beautiful.”

  • Somer Canon, author of Vicki Beautiful and The Killer Chronicles

“A tireless champion of horror fiction, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi breaks into the genre with her debut collection BREATHE. BREATHE. Her dark and vivid poetry and short stories will be sure to delight fans of dark fiction! “Night Stalked” is definitely one of the stand-out poems you will find within.”

  • Rich Duncan, The Horror Bookshelf

“Raw, risky, and brave. Breathe Breathe could tear itself apart with the amount of raw emotion contained in its fifty-seven pages. Al-Mehairi sheds light on difficult topics such as abuse, anxiety, loneliness, and love that hurts more than heals.”

  • Selcouth Station

“Wonderful writing that explores the dark corners of your mind, where fear grabs you, and you struggle to breathe.”

  • David Spell, The Scary Reviews

Erin, Biograpy –

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has 20 years of experience in the communication fields and is currently a writer, a journalist, a publicist, and an editor among many other things.

She writes fiction, essays, stories, and poetry and is an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, fiction pieces, and other various non-fiction and journalistic pieces. As a journalist, she’s written, interviewed, and edited for various newspapers, magazines, media outlets, and online news sources at both ends of the spectrum in media and public relations.

As an entrepreneur, she owns two businesses: Addison’s Compass Public Relations and Hook of a Book Media, in which she acts as a PR/Marketing Consultant, publicist, and editor. She also handles marketing and PR for Sinister Grin Press, where she is also an editor. Her third pursuit is writing her own works for publication. She volunteers her time in the community and is the chairwoman on the board of directors for a local mental health center and rape crisis and domestic violence safe haven.

She is the mother of three school-aged children and a cat. She lives with her family in rural Ohio nestled in the forest—a place just ripe for nightmares. Her passions are reading, writing, book hunting, hiking, and entertainment such as movies/film, television, and music. Oh, and she bakes, because you can’t do any of that without cookies.

Erin is a co-host with her Marketing Morsels segment on Project Entertainment Network’s The Mando Method, an award-winning weekly podcast for new and veteran writers.

Breathe. Breathe., published by Unnerving, is her debut collection and a mix of dark poetry and short stories. She will also be featured in the upcoming anthology from Unnerving called Hardened Hearts coming in at the end of 2017. Many other works in various genres are in progress as well.

You can e-mail her at hookofabook (at) hotmail (dot) com and find her easily at www.hookofabook.wordpress.com. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest where she loves new friends.

 

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My New Cover for My Expanded Collection, BREATHE. BREATHE.

I wanted to share with you that Unnerving Magazine will be publishing an expanded version of BREATHE. BREATHE., my dark poetry and fiction collection, at the end of this week. In July, they published it in limited edition chapbook and it sold out, and now, it will be available online at the Unnerving site, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. I am beyond thrilled and have written 50% more content for this expanded edition in both poetry and short stories. I welcome your support and thoughts. I am so excited and appreciate so much the publisher, Eddie, taking a chance on my work. He’s been amazing to work with. So without me writing too much more, I wanted to show you all the NEW cover, featuring a dandelion, just like the story in the collection, “Dandelion Yellow.” However, breathing is still such a steady theme throughout the book in so many ways. I hope you like it as much I do! The cover was done by Eddie himself!

More information to come about my collection on my blog soon. The book launches the end of this week! 🙂 Thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to support me!

Erin

BreatheBreathe

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Foreword Author Announced for My Chapbook BREATHE. BREATHE.

I’m SO SO thrilled to announce who wrote the foreward to my dark poetry and short fiction chapbook – BREATHE. BREATHE. It’s elegantly written by gifted writer, Bram Stoker finalist, and my good good friend Brian Kirk!! He’s been such a constant support of me and my work, and my poetry especially, and is always lending a listening ear and emotional and talented eye to my words and thoughts. To me, he was the perfect person to ask as his work has always touched me deeply as well.

brian kirk

Hi Brian!

Brian was nominated for a Bram Stoker award for his debut novel, We Are Monsters from Samhainand had a very heart-wrenching story, “Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave,” in the Bram Stoker nominated for superior achievement in an anthology, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, from Crystal Lake Publishing, where his acclaimed story was read alongside Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, and more. He will also be in a highly anticipated upcoming anthology also from them called Behold! ⭐️⭐️⭐️ THANK YOU BRIAN for adding another layer of class to my chapbook!

Gutted-front-cover

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BREATHE. BREATHE. – by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – 44 limited edition handcrafted chapbooks made in the wilds of Canada and available from Unnerving Magazine and publisher Eddie Generous! At the time of this posting there were only a few left of this special edition – a one time only buy and keepsake! PRE-ORDER HERE.

More news to come. Thanks so much for your support everyone. If you missed my last post with the mock-up of the cover and the information on the book, head HERE.

Red Brick Wall

Mock-up of Outside Cover Going on Handmade Books – I love it!

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Suspenseful Short Story Set In Modern Ukraine Written by My Son, Nassem Al-Mehairi

I was trying to re-blog my son’s short story from his own blog SEIZE THE MOMENT (www.nassemalmehairi.wordpress.com), but it seems to not have taken. So I’m posting a short story here that Nassem wrote last night, in an hour or two, that was inspired by the turmoil presently in Ukraine.  He really takes on, in short form, how our past can impact our future. Let him know what you think in my comment section below or over on his blog. He’d love to hear thoughts and encouragement!

Karma

This is a short story inspired by the current events in Ukraine.
by the author of Seize the Moment blog, Nassem Al-Mehairi

Kapma

All I ever was, was a doctor.

At least, that is what I had always thought.

My childhood was one of pain, suffering, and poverty. I was born in 1990, in Kherson. My father, forced to fight in the Red Army against his will, was there when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. My mother always told me my father died bravely, taking fire while saving his fellow soldiers, but, for some reason, I always doubted her.

My mother, born in Krakow, Poland, in 1965. She is a Pole to the bone, hating the Soviets, wanting to smash my father’s head in when he died for them. Her father, Andrzej, was in the Polish Army. He survived the German Invasion in 1939, only to be sent to a German prison camp.

My grandfather was Jewish. He worked at a grocery, handling produce, in Krakow. When the Germans seized Poland, he had to become a card-carrying member of the Nazi Party to protect his family. When it got so bad, where people were being lined up against the fences and shot, crimson blood flowing down the street wherever you went, he sent his child, a son, to Kiev. In 1944, a betrayer gave up Andrzej to the filth Gestapo, and he was sent to Bergen-Belsen. He told me stories of his time there, of the suffering, he having to see women be stripped and raped at the will of young Nazis from Berlin. When the British liberated the camp, you could he his ribs, the obvious oppression these, these dirt, caused on my grandfather. A few weeks before the camp was liberated, Andrzej, he told me once, met a young girl who wrote a diary of her hiding in a “secret annex” in Amsterdam. She died only a few weeks before the freeing of the inmates. After the war the only option left to him was to become a poor farmer in Ukraine, and had his daughter, my mother. His life was taken in 1969, when he was brutally run over by a tractor by his own wife. My grandmother, distraught over her killing her husband, shot herself the year after. The destruction, she set fire to her house before it, and when the flames reached her room, she put the barrel to her temple and pulled the trigger.

My mother was an orphan at the age of 5, and her only option was… Wait, I must be boring you with all this bland family history. Well, I am so sorry. I’ll just get to the part that sells.

I was born on May 4th, 1990. I lived for but 2 years in the Soviet Union, and do not remember any of it, but it would affect my life until the end.

I remember, for all of you looking for only the hardship, to laugh at my pain and mock it, the first event that led to my fate was on my computer in November of 2013. The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, was in power, and I had always known he was corrupt, but never truly knew until I visited a secret chat forum. My friend Yuri had told me about it, about how those who opposed Yanukovych could connect with each other to take him down. I was sitting in my living room, in Kiev. As my computer started up, I took out a lighter and flicked it 3 times to light my cigarette. As I inhaled and exhaled the smoke, I typed in the URL Yuri had given me, along with the password. As I scrolled through the sight, I was amazed by what I read. One said,

“The Kremlin is ruling our country. We are Ukrainians, not Russians! We must exterminate the President now!”

One, cooler head, said,

“We must unite together to protest Yanukovych siding with the Russians. We are going to protest in Kiev, and die if we must.”

I was a doctor, working in a Kiev hospital. I knew that, because of the President’s brutality, he would kill anyone who rioted against him.

Until February 19th, there were no real riots in Kiev. But on that day, one that will live in infamy, the city of Kiev turned into a battleground. Molotovs were thrown, and as their blasts woke me in the darkness of night, I ran to the hospital. I knew the day of reckoning was upon us, and as I ran through shotgun fire raining down, I rushed in through the front door of the hospital.

I ran over to the secretary, and said, “Any injuries yet?”

She responded, “Yes, Maksym, but they are outside still. We cannot get them inside.”

I knew what I needed to do. I walked back up to the front door. I looked out, with the night sky illuminated by the fires raging through our historic city. I saw a man, clutching his chest, laying on the ground. I looked to my left, then right, and ran out. I crouched down next to the man groaning, and took his arms. I dragged him into the hospital, and yelled, “Get me a cot!”

As I picked him up, the secretary had set the cot down next to me. I laid the man down on it, and ripped open his Western-made shirt. I took a piece of gauze, and held it to his wound, gushing blood all over my hands. He said, very quietly, “What… what is your name?”

I said, “My name is Maksym Nowak.”

He, spitting up bile, said, “Nowak…What was your grandfather’s name?”

Confused, I said, “Andrzej Nowak. Why?”

Devastated-looking, he said, “My…my grandfather, was your grandfather’s friend. He was the one who gave him up to the Germans. I…I am…sorry for the disrespect my family inflicted upon yours.”

I always knew this would happen. The Soviet Union repaying its sins on this night in Ukraine, and the family who betrayed my grandfather doing the same. I could do nothing but continue, silently, to try to save his life. He died there, with me never knowing his name.

All I could do, was collapse. Karma truly always happened. Even on a dark night as a revolution to change the world was occurring. I went out, my mind occupied on that. As I looked for my next person to save, I felt a bullet hit my throat and throw me to the ground.

I thought, this was karma too. A son took the man in the hospital, and my father’s sins against the Afghanis killed me. Or was it my mother lying about him? It didn’t matter. I was dead no matter which.

-End-

See the original post here:
www.nassemalmehairi.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/an-original-short-story-by-nassem-al-mehairi-set-in-modern-ukraine/

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Short Story Collection by Delancey Stewart Looks “Through a Dusty Window” to Glimpses at NYC History

Brownstone townhouseWinding down late one night this weekend, I curled up with Delancey Stewart’s short story collection Through a Dusty Window:  New York City Stories 1910-2001.  This compilation of shorts focuses on the lives of many people who all possibly lived in the same brownstone apartment, but at various decades.

When we think about that concept, we ponder what must each of their lives have been like based on what was happening during each segment of history? Her collection gives us fleeting glimpses into this question. Of course it’s the very first story, but I actually liked “1910: The Hidden Legacy” the best.  I loved this one due to the fact that I am very into social justice. I like any stories or books that deal with class distinction and issues stemming from social stigma. This story dealing with a little girl and a doll really touched my heart. I loved the ending to it. It would be great to see this story turning into a longer novella or full-length novel.

I liked some of the other stories too, of course, and their tie-in with historical time periods, though some were terribly sad. I suppose in those cases, the time periods in that New York area was….however, some of the endings of the stories I felt came to an abrupt halt. I suppose maybe I just wanted more to the story and we can’t always have happy endings.  These slices told a day in the life of her characters and captured through their sadness the faults of the world seen through their eyes, or “windows.”

I also liked “The Harbinger: 1953” though probably due to being interested in women of this time period who were actually put in very terrible situations in mental hospitals due to slight depression. Misjudged and ironic as the cases were sometimes, Stewart brings this to light in the story. A slight more lengthy, this one had well-developed characters and she rounded out a thought-provoking ending.

The collection is a very quick read. Perfect for sitting down with a cup of tea for an hour.  I loved how Stewart gave us a bird’s-eye view of each family who passed life in this New York Apartment, then tied it all together in the last story of the collection.  But I don’t want to spoil it for you by sharing how she does it. You should definitely download this short story collection and see for yourself.

Stop by again tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Delancey Stewart where we talk about her stories, history, and women in history. See you then!

Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 Synopsis~

Publication Date: November 15, 2012
CreateSpace
Paperback; 108p
ISBN-10: 0615731023

It’s impossible to live in a city like New York without feeling the presence of those who have preceded you – on those streets, in those subway cars, in that apartment. The city thrums with vibrations of lives and eras passed, and traces of that history are left imprinted in tangible ways everywhere we look.

Through a Dusty Window is a collection of ten short stories spanning a century of lives inhabiting one New York City brownstone on the Upper West Side. They are the culmination of the author’s experience in that city, during which she wondered constantly who had occupied her apartment before her, and what stories they might have lived.

Ten vignettes offer historical perspective on real events from Prohibition to World War II; the Vietnam-era Summer of Sam killings to John Lennon’s murder.

Through a Dusty Window allows us to be voyeurs, seeing the fascinating lives of others as they experience the history that New Yorkers today hear whispers of around every corner.

Giveaway~

Enter to win one (1) free Kindle ebook of Through a Dusty Window! Leave a comment below with your email or email it to me at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Also leaving a Facebook comment on my link to this blog on my personal profile or leaving it at  www.facebook.com/HookofaBook counts too!

For an extra entry, follow this blog. Get TWO more extra entries for following the Hook of a Book Facebook page.

Enter by 11:59 p.m. EST April 16, 2013.

Praise for Through a Dusty Window

“I found this series of short stories to be delightful and read them in one sitting. I was impressed with the author’s free flowing style which captivated me and drew me into the imagery of the book. I was particularly aware of the evolution of the social culture and I felt that the transition between the times of each story was handled well.” – Jean Roberts, Amazon Review

“Every story was very well written (my favorite involved the Hindenberg) and my only complaint is that a few of them, such as the last one, ended too soon. This is a compliment, however, because it means I wanted more, much more.” – John Darling (Author Jack Point) – Amazon Review

Delancey Stewart, Biography~

Delancey StewartDelancey Stewart is a fiction writer living in Southern Maryland. She’s a military spouse and the mother of two small boys. When not writing, she can be found ballet dancing, eating ice cream, playing video games or building with Legos.

For more information, please visit Delancey Stewart’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Stop by the tour for more reviews, giveaways and fun at: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/throughadustywindowvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #DustyWindowVirtualTour

TADW Tour Banner FINAL

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