Category Archives: Goosebumps

Author Eliot Baker and “Snoring at Monsters”

Author Eliot Baker contributes a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-thank-God-that’s-not-me story to Goosebumps today. Eliot writes historical mysteries and supernatural suspense The Last Ancient is his December release for Champagne Books’ Burst imprint. Eliot worked for two years as a reporter on the island of Nantucket, where the book primarily takes place. After moving to Finland, he found himself longing for the Grey Lady. A story emerged incorporating the elements of his life and work there as an environmental and general reporter, along with his interests in Greek mythology, coinage & history, alchemy & philosophy, science & psychology, peak oil & conspiracy, and the meaning of love & relationships.  Check out “Snoring at Monsters” and a blurb from The Last Ancient.

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“Snoring at Monsters”

Jimmy was snoring—he just wouldn’t stop. Every time he’d snort and shift his football player’s bulk, the thing outside in the Yellowstone darkness would harrumph and stomp, shaking the ground and loosening my bladder. It belched primal, savage snorts that rumbled in my guts.

I smacked my buddy and whispered, Jimmy! Jimmy, shut up! Stop snoring! There’s something out there. Half awake, his eyes went wide, and he said, “Whatever that is, it is big.” Then he conked out. I should mention we had an empty bottle of tequila outside on our camping table beside our scraps of dinner. Having driven from Seattle, we’d celebrated the first night of our last epic college road trip together.

Jimmy shifted into his chainsaw snore. The monster circled us, depressed my side of the tent with its gigantic snout, snorted hot, foul breath at me, and pawed the ground as if to charge or to devour. It was either telling us to shut up and let it sleep, or come out and let it eat. I shook Jimmy awake again. He looked at the monster’s head pressed against the tent. “Whatever it is, it probably would have eaten us already if it wanted to,” he said sagely. “Just go to sleep.” Worriers and warriors, indeed.

Six hours like this. Time bled by like hourglass sands before an execution. Each second involved me shivering, Jimmy snoring, and the thing outside harrumphing and pawing the ground—HRUMM! Pppphhh. STOMP STOMP. Unable to dream, I imagined heroically bolting from the tent to my SUV, knowing I would not. Even if I made it, Jimmy would be left for chum for an angry bear, yeti, sasquatch, wendigo, bigfoot, landshark, James P. Sullivan, or whatever this monster was, hot-blooded after a failed pursuit. Worse, Jimmy might have had to actually wake up, and if he blamed an untimely rousing on me there was no telling what violence would ensue.

Finally, the sky beyond the tent brightened, shining rays of hope onto those primal knowledge centers we humans continue to carry to remind us: Monsters are shy of sunlight. The thing raised itself on all fours. Stomped its mightiest of stomps. Let out its mightiest harrumph. Pushed against the tent with a big, broad part of its body. Unloaded a whizz-banging eruption, followed by an avalanche of plopping sounds, like wet stones thudding onto the grass. The monster was pooping on us. A long, dramatic, heavy, decisive monster poop. The monster plodded away, snorting and grumbling. Then silence. I began laughing giddily, terror overwhelmed by a five-year-old’s sense of hilarity. Meanwhile, Jimmy snored on.

I poked my head out of the tent. I just had to see our grizzly bear roommate. A large buck stood a few yards away, staring at me nonchalantly. No, no way, that couldn’t have been the monster. I swiveled my head towards the valley behind us, surveying the tall grasses swaying in the pink dawn sunlight, ensconced by majestic peaks and diminishing stars and the silver moon glimmering over Yellowstone.

Buffalo. Dozens of them, sleeping. Except one–a mutant mega-buffalo, if memory serves—stood like an angry living boulder twenty yards away. It stared at me icily while the rest of the herd still snoozed, nestled into their grassy beds. I surveyed our tent grounds. Sure enough, there was a buffalo-sized patch of dirt pawed into the grass right by where we’d raised our tent. Squatters, we were. We’d slept in a buffalo’s bedroom. And Jimmy was still sleeping, his snores roaring over the valley like a challenge to all creatures who would stand between him and his pillow.

I laughed even harder then, maniacally perhaps, until Jimmy stumbled from the tent, confirmed the monster’s identity, and said, “Told you to just go to sleep. Wuss.”

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 The Last Ancient                                             

He knows he should write the story. Maybe even kill the mythological creature hunting on Nantucket. A mysterious French alchemist and his best friend, a charming Greek hit man, tell him billions of dollars and lives are at stake if he doesn’t– not to mention the story of the century. Trouble is, he’s falling in love with it. And She doesn’t want him to write the story. She wants something else. Something only he can give.

While following a trail of ancient coins left at animal mutilations and murder scenes, Pulitzer-nominated reporter, Simon Stephenson is forced to piece together a diabolical conspiracy – and confront his family’s darkest secrets. Meanwhile, his tennis-champion fiancé is going Defcon One bridezilla, and a gorgeous TV reporter has her own intentions. Battling panic attacks and pursued by a host of nasty characters – from deadly alchemists and virulent beasts, to a sleazy rival reporter and a corrupt Sherriff – Simon faces a world where no one is what they seem. Especially not himself.

Visit Eliot Baker at his WEBPAGE or follow him on FACEBOOK.

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Bruiser in Halloween Costume

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“She told me I’m wearing a  Super Dog costume. I know she lied.”

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Welcome Elizabeth Fountain to Goosebumps

I’m so pleased to welcome Champagne BURST! author Elizabeth Fountain to Goosebumps. She writes sci-fi and  fantasy, but, whatever the story, you get a glimpse of Elizabeth and you’re left with a smile. “Delilah’s Ghost” is no exception. I loved every word and bet readers will too.

Delilah’s Ghost

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen my brother’s dog gave birth to five puppies, I asked for the only female. As the youngest child, and only five years old, I wasn’t certain whether my parents would let me keep any of Queenie’s pups. But they agreed relatively quickly; I think my mother secretly wanted to keep them all.

We named the pup Delilah. Why such a glamorous name for a small mutt of a dog? I don’t recall. A dark brown fur ball, Delilah’s appearance reflected the mix of her mother’s spaniel and her papa’s “unknown provenance,” shall we say. She quickly showed us her spirit, which lived up to her name: regal doggy smile on her sweet face, a ton of feminine spunk in her demeanor. As she aged, spunk sometimes became crankiness. A lifelong problem with hip dysplasia meant Delilah felt some pain or discomfort most of the time. Occasionally, she showed her impatience, but she was always as glamorous as her name.

House rules meant our dogs lived outdoors. They shared a comfy doghouse with beds of clean straw to keep them warm in winter. Delilah stayed furry, like a chow, adding to her coziness in our cold winters. I longed to be allowed to let her come to bed and sleep with me, to curl up with her chocolate-brown furry warmth in my arms.

Because of the good care our family dogs received, mostly due to my mother, they all lived long lives. Delilah was well into her teens when she died, while I was at college.

I cried.

Life went on.

And so did Delilah’s spirit. Her ghost followed me through moves, school, careers, other pets, marriage, and divorce. Out of the corner of my eye, I’d see a pile of brown fur, sweet brown eyes, that regal doggy grin. Delilah reminded me of Queen Victoria in her old age: the little dog moved as if she wore a crown, barked in the “royal we,” and expected deference from one and all, other dogs and humans. She also showed tremendous love and loyalty, in the way of all family dogs. Whenever I needed any of that – queenly energy, loving company – I’d see Delilah, hear her bark, wake up to the sensation of her warm self next to me, the way I’d always wanted as a kid. I hope she’ll haunt me always.

Delilah’s hip problems made her clumsy, at times. Just now, as I am finishing this story, I heard a noise.

A spoon fell on the kitchen floor, for no reason. There’s no one here but me.

Except – maybe, out of the very corner of my eye, I spy a mound of warm chocolate brown fur, a wagging tail, and a sweetly royal doggy smile.

Copyright 2013, by Elizabeth Fountain Used with permission.

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About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Fountain left a demanding job as a university administrator in Seattle to move to the small town of Ellensburg, Washington, and pursue her dream of writing novels.  Her first book, An Alien’s Guide to World Domination, was released by BURST Books in 2013; and You, Jane, her second novel, will be published in 2014. On her breaks from writing, Liz teaches university courses, spends time with family and friends, and takes long walks in the diabolical Kittitas Valley wind. Her quirkily humorous view of humanity is well suited to her tales of aliens and angels, love and death, friendship and dogs.

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An Alien’s Guide to World Domination  is a humorous science-fiction novel from BURST! Books (Champagne Book Group)

Louise Armstrong Holliday is the last person on Earth you’d expect to try to save the human race. But when she uncovers proof that her boss is an alien the color of lime Jell-O ™ gone horribly wrong, and is at the center of a plot to destroy humanity, Louie decides to do exactly that. She begins a journey from her company’s suburban Seattle office park to the old cities and castles of Eastern Europe. Along the way, Louie is attacked by flying books, overly-sensitive bat-crow monsters, and her own self-doubts. She must learn the truth about her closest friend, stand up to her boss, confront her oldest enemy, and make peace with her Aunt Emma, who annoys her in the way only true family can. She also has to rely on Buddy, the little blind mini-Schnauzer who saves her life twice – and really is from Mars.

An Alien’s Guide to World Domination is available from AMAZON Kindle and BURST! Books

Visit Elizabeth at her WEBPAGE or follow her on FACEBOOK.

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The Goddess Pomona & Lambs’ Wool

pomona3When the Romans invaded Britain in 55 BCE, they brought with them the Roman festival of Pomona, the goddess of orchards and gardens. She was portrayed as a beautiful maiden carrying fruit and nuts or a cornucopia and crowned with apples. Her harvest festival merged with the Celtic festival of Samhain (summer’s end) and the later Christian feasts of All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day and celebrated as Halloween. A 17th century Christian description turns Pomona into an “Angel” who presided over the harvest of fruit and nuts. This description of Pomona is reflected in the art of the period.

The origins of the Halloween celebrations stem from several pagan traditions. The Celts believed that during Samhain spirits of the dead walked among the living. The living wore ghoulish costumes to keep away the unwanted spirits. Earliest stories had Druids in costume leading parades to keep the spirits away from the villages. The apples associated the celebration of Pomona’s festival were the origins of “bobbing” for apples where the first unmarried man or woman to bite the apple would be the next to marry and also the tradition of young women peeling an apple and tossing the peel over their shoulders to see the name of their future husband written in the peel.

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An ancient drink was associated with Pomona’s festival and the Celtic pagan celebration of la mas ubal, the day of the apple fruit. The word was pronounced “lamasool,” but was later corrupted to Lambs’ Wool. The drink was a frothy mixture of warmed spiced and sweetened ale and roasted apples. The drink later became associated with Wassail and the Twelfth Night of Christmas, but its pagan origins are evident in the descriptions of Wassailing.
Even though it’s January, wassailers with their lambswool in hand paraded into the orchards with lighted torches beating posts and pans with wooden spoons. They beat the trunks of the trees and splashed the trunks of the apple trees with lambswool to drive off the spirits of the old year and bless the area. The wassail chants for the apple trees were:

“Here stands a good apple tree, stand fast root,
Every little twig bear an apple big,
Hats full, caps full, and three score sacks full,
Hip! Hip! Hurrah!”

So what is this “Lambs’ wool” drink with pagan origins in Halloween that ended up as a Christmas tradition? Descriptions of its preparation are pretty standard across the centuries, though later recipes allowed the substitution of cider for ale and sugar replaced honey which was used as an early sweetener. Robert Herrick in 1648 wrote a poem about Lambs’ wool:

Next crown a bowl full
With gentle lamb’s wool:
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.

One rather nebulous recipe from the 19th century read: “To one quart of strong hot ale add the pulp of six roasted apples, together with a small quantity of grated nutmeg and ginger, with a sufficient quantity of raw sugar to sweeten it; stir the mixture assiduously, and let it be served hot.”

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Here’s a recipe that I converted from English measures that worked well:

Lambswool-Wassail-MainrecipewiseREVLambswool Recipe

6 C (1500 ml) traditional ale
6 small cooking apples, cored
2 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
2/3 C brown sugar

Preheat the oven 250 F. Fully Core six apples and place 2″ apart on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake until very soft, about an hour. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Discard peel and mash apple to a smooth puree (no lumps) while warm. Set aside.

Add sugar to large pot and cover with ale. Heat to dissolve. Add ginger and nutmeg. Stir. While keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in the rest of the ale. Heat for 10 minutes.

Add apple mixture to the ale, mixing it with a whisk. Heat for 30 minutes. Whisk again for a couple of minutes (or use a stick blender) to form a froth. Pour into bowl or heat-resistant mug and serve hot.

How did it taste? Rather bitter, but spicy. Ale-lovers would have a real treat, though. It was also labor intensive and not quite as foamy as I imagined. The pic is not of mine. Like I said, not enough foam.

Tomorrow, A Vintage Halloween Card

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Author Paula Hardin Seeks a Ghost

My long-time friend, Paula Hardin, tells her story today. Paula Hardin is a New Orleans girl born and raised. She’s married to her soul mate of over nineteen years. Paula has three children and two step-children, and five grandbabies. Her passion is for the paranormal, mystical, and anything other than the norm. She also loves the Sci-Fi channel. Some of her favorites are dark artwork, gothic, dark pictures and paintings. She writes paranormal romances, steam punk, contemporary, which has lots of suspense, but ends with a happy ever after.

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La-Belle-Bed-and-Breakfast-in-Picayune-Mississippi-39466PaulaI’m Paula Hardin and I always wanted to see a ghost. Not the scary kind but a friendly one. Where I live in Picayune Mississippi there’s a Bed and Breakfast that was built in 1904.  Nothing is really known about the original owners, only that it was a private residence and, at one time, a boarding house. The present owners, my friends Lyndon and Penny Glaesman, say it’s haunted. Story goes, Penny woke up one night thinking she had left a roast in the oven. She climbed out of bed and walked towards the kitchen, but as she got closer the smell disappeared.

But that wasn’t the only manifestation. A guest came to her in a panic saying, “I swear I wasn’t smoking in the bathroom, but someone was.” Penny advised the guest to tell the ghost to go outside and the smell would leave. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. On another occasion, a woman who was sensitive to ghosts pulled up to drop off a friend. She refused to get out of the car because, she told her passenger, there were ghosts in that house.

When Penny, my dearest friend who owned the Bed and Breakfast, and her husband decided to spend Christmas with their family, she invited us to housesit. After Katrina, we’d lost everything, even a place to live. The government helped us get into a FEMA trailer which was a sardine can by any measure.  Their house had a fifteen-foot Christmas tree. Of course, we agreed.

I knew the place was haunted. Penny and I had discussed the things that had been observed by their previous guests. She told me to buy navy slippers. She swore that if I put them beside my bed the ghost would move them. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Discouraged, the next morning, I talked to the ghosts while I made the beds. Later, I walked past one of the empty bedrooms and the bed looked like someone had lain upon the covers and pillow. I smoothed the spread, fluffed the pillow, and left. A little later, the same thing happened, so I fixed it.

After the fourth time, I told my girls to stay out of the room that I was tired of fixing the bed.  They both looked at me strangely and told me they hadn’t been in that room. Perhaps the ghost didn’t move my slippers because for that weekend she was in the other room. I was so excited, but disappointed at the same time.

At different times, I’ve gone over to help clean the house when Penny was expecting company. I’d talk to the ghosts the whole time, telling them ‘Hi,’ and ‘I’m cleaning your lovely home,’ and nonsense like that, hoping they would let me see them. That never happened.

One day Lyndon came to see me at work. I was upset thinking something was wrong.  “No,” he said, “I need to talk to you.“  I was like “okay.” I waited with bated breath, wondering what he had to say.

The words that came out of his mouth killed me. He told me that he was sitting in the parlor and out the corner of his eye he saw her. A little old woman came from the bathroom I had used during Christmas and walked right through the French doors towards the front of the house. My mouth hit the floor. I was so jealous. We believe the ghosts of an elderly man and woman, probably husband and wife, reside in that bed and breakfast.

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 FOREVER LOST

FINAL-VERSION-PaulaAlone and homeless, Elizabeth Fountain disappears from the priest to find comfort at her mother’s grave. Instead Elizabeth finds the one man who could steal her heart and give her everlasting love. That is if he can keep his fangs out of her neck.

Benson Jackson, a vampire, considered himself a gentleman, even though he’s no longer human. He still believes in helping a damsel in distress. Yet when he finds young troubled Elizabeth, he can’t stop the blood-lust she stirs within him. Can the two head off trouble and find love, or will her past and his deranged mother rip them apart?

Buy Forever Lost at AMAZON

Visit Paula at her WEBPAGE or follow her on FACEBOOK.

Next up, Friday I tell the story of “Cousin Lula’s Gift”

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A Vintage Halloween Postcard

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Tomorrow, Author Don McNair visits

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COUSIN LULA’s GIFT by Rita Bay

As a young girl my grandmother and her younger sister often visited their married older sister. One of their stays coincided with a visit from Cousin Lula from “up the country” which was probably a couple of counties north of Mobile. Cousin Lula was a tiny old lady who had a certain “gift.” She could talk to the “spirits”—and they talked back. She claimed to be able to place her hands on a table, ask a question, and the table would rap out the answer. (one rap = A or No, two raps = B or Yes,  and so on).

Of course, Gramma and Aunt Mary believed none of it until one evening when Cousin Lula was convinced to demonstrate her gift. She sat at the dining room table with everyone gathered around and placed her hands on the table. The family asked a few questions and the table, my Gramma swears, actually moved to answer. Convinced that there was some kind of hoax occurring, Gramma and Aunt Mary both sat on the table and dared Cousin Lula to do her best. When the table lifted despite their combined weights, Gramma admitted to making a quick exit out of the dining room with her sister following close behind.

After they finally got up the courage to return, Gramma—never one to look a gift horse in the mouth—asked if there was a treasure in the house. To her delight, the table rapped our “yes” and said that it was near the fireplace in the kitchen. When the demonstration was finished, Gramma and Aunt Mary rushed to the kitchen. They started prying up the floorboards around the fireplace, even though the house was a rental and their older sister wasn’t especially happy with them. When unexpected guests arrived, however, they were ordered to stop and put everything back in place. They weren’t allowed to pursue their quest for treasure later and the incident was forgotten.

Was there a treasure or had a room full of people been deceived somehow by a little old lady? Well, decades later—after Gramma was married, her husband’s family home where she lived was located one block from her sister’s old rental house. When the house was being torn down, a box filled with gold coins was discovered near the fireplace in the kitchen—just where Cousin Lula said it would be. When she told the tale to me as a child, Gramma swore it was true. Mama swears she heard the same story from others who were present—and Mama doesn’t lie.

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Author Giselle Renarde’s Paranormal Tale

giselle renarde avatarToday’s Goosebumps guest author is Giselle Renarde with a tale that will give you shivers. Giselle is a queer Canadian, avid volunteer, contributor to more than 100 short story anthologies, and award-winning author of books like Anonymous, The Red Satin Collection, and Nanny State. She lives across from a park with two bilingual cats who sleep on her head. Giselle writes Erotica and  LGBT Fiction. She is published by eXcessica, Xcite Books, Evernight Publishing, Torquere Press, Amber Quill Press, Secret Cravings, Untreed Reads, and more.

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I’m Giselle Renarde, and the ghost story you’re about to read is true.

I was housesitting for a friend who lives here in Toronto, in one of the city’s lovely historic homes. It’s been beautifully renovated.  There’s absolutely nothing scary about it, and it’s hardly what you’d call a haunted house. Maybe it’s not haunted… but I still can’t explain what happened to me that night.

It was late when I went to bed–nearly 3 in the morning. I got under the covers of my double bed in the guest room and turned off the light. I fell asleep right away, and I recall dreaming. Maybe it was all a dream. That’s what I keep telling myself, explaining it away.

I awoke with a start when I felt a familiar sensation: one of my cats jumping up on the bed.  Then my brain kicked into gear and I realized… I wasn’t in my bed. My cats were back at my apartment. I was housesitting, and there were no cats in this house.

The sensation beside me changed, all at once, from the dainty dance of cat paws to the heavy thud of a human body. I felt the mattress sink at my side. The bedsprings squealed, as though they were under sudden pressure. I just kept telling myself I was dreaming, I was dreaming, I had to be dreaming because this couldn’t possibly be real.

My body froze. I’d been sleeping on my side, and I was facing the edge of the mattress, away from the ghostly sensation. I tried to pry my eyelids open, but I couldn’t do it. I tried to roll over, speak, do anything, but my body locked.

I kept telling myself it was sleep paralysis, a natural phenomenon, an indicator that I’d awoken too quickly and my brain wasn’t ready for my body to take action yet. I kept telling myself it was just a dream, but I could feel that shape beside me. I could feel it sinking into the mattress, right there, behind my back. It was there. And I couldn’t move.

Struggling against sleep, against my own locked body, I was finally able to ask, “C’est qui ça? Qu’est-ce qui arrive?” Who’s there? What’s happening? My brain hadn’t woken up enough to speak English.

No answer. Nothing but that feeling of sleeping next to another person, sensing their weight in the bed.

Finally, finally, I drew my eyes open. I was afraid, yes, but I was even more afraid of doing nothing. I rolled in the bed, flopped really, barely able to move, still mired in sleep, and… nothing.

Nothing there, nothing beside me. The white linens glowed blue in the moonlight. No indentations. My ears buzzed and my heart pounded–a visceral response to intense fear. I hadn’t realized, when I was struggling to open my eyes, how incredibly frightened I was. Now it wouldn’t go away.

I flicked on the light and repeated everything I’d already told myself: it was just a dream, all in my mind, sleep paralysis… but my heart wouldn’t stop pounding. I picked up my phone and called my girlfriend, who managed to talk me down. I couldn’t seem to convey how afraid I’d been that something, an unknown something, had been in bed with me.  I’d felt it lying there at my side. I think she could hear the panic in my voice, because she didn’t tease me or chastise me for waking her up at 4 in the morning.

When my heart calmed down a bit, I sank my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes, hoping sleep would take me fast and I wouldn’t be awoken by any more strange sensations. And sleep did come, and I was only awoken by sunlight streaming through the window.

But, I tell you, the entire week I spent alone in my friend’s old Toronto home, I slept with the lights on.

Copyright © 2013 Giselle Renarde  Used with permission.

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girlsgonecarnalsmGirls Gone Carnal: Lesbian Vamps, Witches and Weres  is a collection of lesbian paranormal erotic stories  published by eXcessica. Buy Girls Gone Carnal HERE or click the cover.

Furry.  Vicious.  Wicked. Lesbian shifters, vampires, and witches come in all shapes and sizes.  From the humblest mouse to the most ferocious cougar, from maids and their mistresses to urban vamps and the women they lick, these stories are sure to inspire chills, thrills, and delicious shivers:

Milady’s Bath ~a Gothic tale from a Lady’s maid at midnight

Mrs. Fox and the Cat of Nine Tails~a fairy tale cat seduces her mistress

Sneak~a mouse shifter saves the day in a backwoods bordello

Sparrow Takes Flight~a wind witch leaves as often as she comes

Blood Lust~this vamp plays with knives

Wild Things~a deaf witch meets her match in the rainforest

Taken from Behind~cougar shifters must be extra careful

Blood Whore~urban fantasy from a student just vamping for the cash

WARNINGS: This title contains blood, fur, and explicit lesbian sex.

Visit or follow Giselle Renarde      WEBPAGE / TWITTER

Friday, A Salute to the Goddess Pomona & A Recipe for Her Lamb’s Wool

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“SHADOWS” by Graeme Brown

Graeme Brown is a Champagne Book Group author and editor who contributed a story that I made the mistake of reading for the first time at night. Worse yet, my Ouija board is stored in the basement.

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“Never use a Ouija Board alone.” That’s what the student who used to babysit us said. “Put it away in the box, until the next time you come over.”

She was a university student, and thought it was a hoot when my friend and I would use the Ouija Board together and it would spell bizarre things we didn’t even understand. There was a guy who jumped off the cliff and kept spelling lewd words we sort of understood, but she understood better. He was a lot of fun, and kept us entertained for the night. It was my first time using such a thing, and the Ouija Board was mine.

We used it every time I’d come over and Gail was babysitting us. It was a secret. Except she didn’t know that I actually was using the board alone. After school, I’d take it out and wait until the glider started moving. I made a friend who called himself Marko. He spelled mostly swears, and it seemed a lot on nonsense.

“Are there any other spirits in the room?” That’s what I asked one night with my friend and Gail, after our suicide victim entertained us a bit.

The glider moved to the word “yes”.

“Who are you?”

The letters followed, spelling out “devil.”

“Okay, this is freaking me out now,” the babysitter said. The glider moved faster, forming threats. I started to get frightened.

I-M W-A-I-T-I-N-G A-T T-H-E D-O-O-R

“Stop. That’s enough for tonight.”

We did as she told us and put the Ouija Board away, but I remember when I left the next morning, looking at the shadows under the porch, feeling like something was there.

Over the next week I felt like I was being watched. The shadows under the trees seemed darker, and at night I’d stare at the hall through my open door, swearing I could hear a whisper. It got worse every night, even though I stopped using the Ouija Board alone.

Then one night I actually heard shuffling, or so I thought. The stairwell at the end of the hall looked like it was moving, and even though I was twelve I couldn’t convince myself it was just my imagination. Something was waiting there.

I rushed to my door and shut it, but even with that done I couldn’t sleep. I was terrified. I pulled the blanket up over my head and shook. Spirits can move through doors.

Somehow I did fall asleep. The next day after school I took my Ouija Board and burned the paper off it on the stove. My mom asked why I’d done it and I told her my story. Her eyes went wide with disbelief.

“Oh my God…” She clutched her chest. “I’ve been waking up over the last several weeks at night, feeling someone breathing down my neck.”

Just when I thought it was my imagination she had to say that.

 I should have destroyed the Ouija Board right then and there, but unfortunately I put it in the shed. Ten years later it wreaked havoc in my life, enough for me to finally realize it belonged in a bonfire. Only when I watched it burn did I finally feel that presence leave.

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 THE PACT SYNOPSIS:

the pact ecoverEnter the world of Will Lesterall, a boy who’s grown up in the safety of his father’s castle.

Tales of the outside world ruled by warring kings and creatures of nightmare have never seemed a threat, yet on the night celebrating the two hundredth year of the sacred Pact that has kept Fort Lesterall safe, a secret intrigue ripens, and in the course of a few hours Will is confronted with a choice greater than he can comprehend.

Join an unlikely hero as destiny pulls him into the middle of an ancient conflict between fallen gods and ambitious women, one that demands blood, both holy and wicked, and the power of an ancient fire bound in steel. As swords clash below a watching wood, hope and betrayal war as fiercely as fear and valor.

Whether he lives or dies, Will Lesterall will never be the same.

THE PACT EXCERPT:

Will hurried across the dark stones. The soft tap of his shoes against the cobbles echoed in the empty Square. In the middle, where the ground sloped down toward the sewer drains, the statue of Amarr the Barbarian cast a long shadow. Will passed into it and stopped. He heard voices.

Two men spoke in hushed tones, but their words carried when the wind wasn’t gusting.

“It’s that hag, I tell ya,” came one voice. “She’s roundin’ them up, preparing one of her big spells, she is. I heards there’s a sacrifice comin’, and she means to raise the dead.”

“Don’t be stupid, Roth.” Will recognized the raspy tone at once. It belonged to Mern, the whitesmith, whose half-slashed throat had never fully healed. Will squinted, but couldn’t see where the voices came from, other than realizing they drifted over from the dark, walled yard outside Hellistead’s Tavern.

“I’ll not have ya callin’ me stupid. Oh no. I know what this is about an’hoo. You’re just afraids, justs protectin’ yurself. Ya know whatcha got in it, ands I don’t blame you for bitin’ your tongue.”

“Quiet, you hay-brained crofter,” Mern spat. “Tonight’s not a night to whisper about such treacheries. The Lord Ham will cut your tongue out, and the world’ll be a better place for it if he does.”

“Old Cren will put it back, if he do, but I says he’d best act quick, or he’ll be lacking for the parts as fits him proper. The night’s black, Mern, and it’s gettin’ blacker yet.”

There was a hollow clatter, then sharp hisses. The man who spoke improperly cursed in words that would have made Grandma Mae gasp then Will heard quick footsteps and a series of clunks. He looked back to the castle, to where father gathered his fighters, then the other way, to the Stablehouse. If father’s in trouble, I have to warn him. Will knew his words wouldn’t be taken seriously, though.

He began to run across the stone expanse. Fort Lesterall won’t fall. Mern’s a wicked man, and whoever that other one is, he’s got no wits. Cren’s just an old woman who lives in the woods. She probably doesn’t even exist.

The side door to the Stablehouse opened as Will arrived, revealing a long labyrinth of stalls lit by rows of hanging lanterns. Jak peeked from behind the door, and Will slipped inside. When the older boy closed it, the dangerous night seemed far away. They were alone, Jak peering at Will, a curry comb still clasped in his hand. He was broad-limbed and of average height, with tousled hair the color of wet earth and eyes like onyx. As usual, he smelled of straw and horse manure, but that only made him all the more inviting.

Jak grinned. “I thought you’d hurry over after the feast proper. Too many clouds tonight, though. I’m afraid we won’t be spying Hell’s Cap, but I’ve another surprise for you. Found it myself, last night.”

“We won’t be going to the groves, Jak.” Will lowered his voice. “The Unborns are going to attack. Alter Dun showed the Red Token. That means the Unborns have challenged us. The Pact is broken. Even as we speak, my father’s gathering an army.”

“Of course he is.” Will turned toward the metal spiral stair. Barrik, a wiry man with salt-and-pepper hair and a bushy moustache, bent his impressive height as he descended from the second floor serving quarters. “I’ve a hundred retainers to see to and that’s lots of horseshit, my little prince. A good thing they’ve taken to the barracks. I’m full, and there’s a thousand more coming, twenty companies marching under you uncle’s banner knight, Telliken. If we hold the night, then there will be others, and we’ll feed the Unborns hell like they haven’t seen in centuries. But if what I’ve heard’s true, then they have hell to feed us first, before we can draw breath.”

Will gaped at the Master of Stables then shook his head fiercely. “Fort Lesterall cannot fall.”

Barrik grunted, though it sounded like a laugh. He picked up a pail and carried it to a nearby stall. “I wish I believed that, lad, but this world’s not run on luck, I’m afraid. A man forges his own blade then learns to use it, or he gets cut by everyone around him. This world’s a fierce battlefield, a bitch with a thousand teeth.”

“We can fight with them,” Jak insisted. “I’ve practiced with the sword you gave me lots of times in the groves. I’m not bad.”

“You would be with armor on.” Barrik came out of the stall with a pail full of black dung. He looked at Will, at Jak, his expression grave. “No, you boys have another errand…

THE PACT BUY LINKS:  Kobo / Kindle / Other formats

AUTHOR LINKS:   Website / Twitter / Blog

AUTHOR BIO

Graeme Brown is has been enchanted by the epic fantasy genre since he was a child, and consequently he started creating his own world with its stories at the age of thirteen. Influenced by writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and George R. R. Martin, he has finally brought the first of those stories to life with his debut title, a short story called The Pact—48 pages that will whisk you away to a dark, medieval fantasy world with gritty realism. When he’s not writing, he can be found exploring number theory problems or writing computer programs, training for a marathon, or unwinding in a yoga hot room. He has also explored other facets of art, both as a hobby and a profession, including vector graphics, pen and ink, classical piano, and web design. Despite being a full time student and a junior editor for Champagne Books, he makes sure to do a little writing every day.

For more about Graeme, visit his WEBSITE

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Hellhounds Abound

RomanCerberussmA hellhound is a supernatural dog. The most famous hellhound was Cerberus who in Greek mythology guarded the gates of the Underworld (see pic of Roman statue of Cerberus). Cerberus is depicted with three heads. The legends of the hellhound are found in many countries of the world. They were first mentioned in Britain in the twelfth century. In western Europe, hellhounds are often associated with The Wild Hunt in which deceased heroes on horses accompanied by hellhounds pursue criminals and  lost souls across the land. They are often described as having black fur, glowing red or yellow eyes and super strength. They may also be associated with death, graveyards, and fire.

Bruiser sm Hellhound3Our own personal hellhound is pictured also. Four years ago Bruiser, a Boxer mix,  was a rescue with three previous owners. He had to be treated for severe heartworms and last year had two knee surgeries. He’s part of the family now, an outstanding guard dog and companion for our daughter. He, however, believes he is a 70 pound lapdog. The animal rescue people told us he would do anything for a treat. Guess they were right. Didn’t say he liked it, but the treat was worth it.

Tomorrow, Graeme Brown’s Tale of the Paranormal

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Filed under Bruiser, Goosebumps