Thursday, October 9, 2014

Guest Author Russell James: Blood Red Roses




Author Russell James has been taking the horror fiction genre by storm with books like Dark Inspiration, Dark Vengeance, and Sacrifice. Russell and I have done a few book signings together, and I’m happy to have him here on my blog to talk about writing and all things horror. Today he discusses his latest horror books, including his Gothic novella Blood Red Roses, which released this week.

October is the month where all things creepy begin to crawl out of the woodwork and it ends with Halloween. There’s no better time for a new horror book to release.

What Waits in the Shadows is a collection of the four novellas that won Samhain Horror’s Gothic horror competition. My Blood Red Roses story is the lead off, and the three that follow by Devin Govaere, Catherine Cavendish and JG Faherty only get better from there. My story is set during the Civil War in Alabama. After a boy’s father dies in combat, his uncle sells him into indentured servitude at Beechwood Plantation. Once there, he’s caught up in the mystery of disappearing young boys, a tyrannical overseer, and an owner of questionable sanity. An escaped slave brings witchcraft into the mix and pretty soon the dead are ready to rise. It is here on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I’ve always been interested in the Civil War period, and I have a Civil War short story in the Deeper into Darkness collection. Blood Red Roses gave me the excuse to do more research, especially into the realities of slavery. None of the usual artistic embellishments were needed to make the conditions of bondage more horrific for the novella. I read several contemporary accounts by escaped slaves, including Fredrick Douglass’ autobiography. The awful conditions and the cringe-worthy treatment the slaves in the story endure are 100% straight from fact. I can write about the demons and werewolves all day, and sometimes it seems that mankind can be more terrifying than any fiction I can spin.


January will be a big month for new releases. Dreamwalker, a novel from Samhain, follows the story of Pete Holm, who can dream himself into an alternate reality run by an evil voodoo spirit. This reality is a bombed out urban landscape called Twin Moon City, where zombies hunt the souls the voodoo spirit has captured. When asleep, Pete must rescue the literal girl of his dreams from eternal hell, and when awake, he has to avoid a drug lord’s gang after him in Atlantic City. If he dies in either reality, he dies in both.
A second January release will be a second benefit anthology of time travel stories by my Minnows Literary Group. The first collection, Out of Time, has been a consistent Top 100 anthology on Amazon and earned thousands for Doctors Without Borders. We hope this second collection will do just as well for them. Both will be under a dollar, and the four star-plus Amazon rating should prove that the purchase is risk-free.

There’s also some sci-fi on the near horizon, and a novel about Long Island in quarantine after a virus goes wild called Q Island. 2015 should be a big year. Come aboard for the ride.

What Waits in the Shadows blurb:

Four original novellas of Gothic horror!

Enter if you dare four worlds of chilling Gothic horror. Feel the oppressive heat on a plantation in the Old South, where the spirits of the dead do not rest easy. Smell the salt air in a dilapidated coastal restaurant on the Chesapeake Bay, a restaurant with a very deadly past. Explore a British manor house, but remember, what you find may have been looking for you. Hear the pounding surf beyond the stone walls of a looming castle that shouldn't even exist. But regardless of the setting, no matter what you may think you hear or see, the truly terrifying thing is...


Russell R. James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic and Dark Vengeance. He has two short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, Dreamwalker, releases in 2015.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."

Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, or drop a line complaining about his writing to rrj@russellrjames.com.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dead Works: Guest Author Anthony Hains



Today, guest author Anthony Hains talks about writing his new horror novel Dead Works. If you like a good mix of psychological suspense and supernatural horror, you’ll like Anthony Hains’ stories. I also enjoyed his novel, Birth Offering.


The final version of Dead Works is only remotely similar to the original version. My initial plot for the novel involved the mishaps of ghost hunters exploring a 100 year old mansion situated in a glorious setting on Long Island Sound in New York. One of the characters had a back story that involved him in therapy as a child - an account that may have topped out at 800 words. So, this wasn’t a huge focus, but rather an interesting tidbit to illustrate a character.

The only problem with this back story idea was that I couldn’t shake it from my mind. The issues involving the therapy became more complex, even if I didn’t start out with the intention of putting them on paper. It was only a matter of time until this back story became more interesting than the original plot. I realized that I needed to jettison the ghost hunter notion and go with the kid-in-therapy narrative.

Since I am a psychologist and a professor of counseling psychology, I immediately knew the angle I was going to take. The main character was going to be a graduate student – a counseling psychologist in training. The young man would be in a practicum class where students are placed in a clinical setting and conduct therapy under the supervision of an on-site psychologist and a university instructor. After all, I live this stuff on a daily basis. I have taught at least one practicum class a year for the past 25 years. I know how students think and act. And, even though it has been a very long time, I still remember what it is like to be a graduate student. The client, of course, needed to be a kid – again, no problems since my professional area of focus is pediatric psychology and I have been studying and interacting with adolescents most of my professional career. While this group can be a pain in the butt for many professionals, I rather enjoy the population.

The challenge came with making the process authentic without losing a reader. Losing a reader can happen a couple of ways with this type of narrative. First, if I wrote an accurate account of therapy, the layperson would become increasingly frustrated. Unlike screen portrayals of therapy, there are rarely (if ever) those dramatic eureka moments when the client gains insight and the problem is solved within minutes. In most cases, the problem and the goals of therapy are identified early, and the difficult work involves the client learning and practicing new ways of coping or behaving to address personal concerns. This takes time, depending on the nature of the problem.

Second, if I did go for the dramatic denouement and make the therapy passages unrealistic or simplistic, I would run the risk of personal embarrassment if my colleagues or students actually read my fiction (so far, none have as far as I know). Pure vanity (or maybe self-respect?) on my part, I know.

So, I provided excerpts of five therapy sessions involving my graduate student protagonist, Eric, and his thirteen year old client, Greg. I deleted some of the more mundane interactions between them, and stuck to the more “thrilling” proceedings. By the way, the boy sees ghosts, so much of the interactions involve the kid learning how to make sense of these events. I portrayed my student character as being competent at this level of training. He makes all the “correct” responses in therapy and his inner narrative is consistent with what graduate students might be thinking.

Finally, you can’t get around the fact that this is a ghost story and the topic of therapy involves seeing ghosts. Most problems addressed in actual therapy are not “other-worldly”. The terrors, fears, and concerns of clients are grounded in daily realities. Sometimes these horrors exceed our experience, but we know about them anyway: abuse, addiction, suicide… You don’t need ghosts when you have these things to deal with. Nonetheless, every once in a while something rather strange appears on the radar screen in therapy. I can think of three or four times this has happened in my work. How do you address it? There is no one way of doing it, but I think Dead Works provides some indications. Curious? I hope you read Dead Works to find out. 
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Anthony Hains is a university professor in counseling psychology, with a specialization in pediatric psychology – his research involves working with youth who have a chronic illness. 

Here is the link to my website: http://www.anthonyhains.com

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A House Possessed: My Paranormal Journey



Lately, I’ve been having a lot of guest writers share their encounters with real paranormal phenomena from haunted hospitals to haunted graveyards to haunted houses. Today, Dawn Shepard shares some strange paranormal activity in her own home, which seems to be possessed by multiple spirits . . . and these aren’t the friendly kind. I’ll let Dawn take it from here.


My paranormal journey has been one of the most difficult, dangerous, yet intriguing paths I’ve taken within my life. Since my childhood I’ve always believed in ghosts, spirits, entities and have been told by many that I have a gift of being a sensitive or empathy to them. Personally, I never attributed myself to this belief of a gift until four years ago, and that’s when I started to believe differently. I had some experiences after my grandfather’s passing but not ever the intensity of what I’ve been dealing with in my home.

I’ve lived in my rented home peacefully for ten years, but things started occurring after being here for only seven years. Activity started in October 2010 after a Ouija board was found while cleaning the attic. It was noticed that sometimes objects would disappear in our home, but because of a hectic lifestyle, it was thought to be a result of being absent minded or forgetful and never questioned. Sometimes you could hear a door open or close, but having pets in the home seemed to be the answer to these occurrences too.  On March 11th, 2011 the unexplained reality of paranormal happenings became very real and began my journey into the realm of another real and true existence.

  While it's difficult to tell in this image, I snapped a picture of 
a young man's face looking out of the window 
from one of the rooms in the attic.

The following are some unexplained messes that started in our landlord's home in the beginning.



After having six investigations which also included two different mediums and a psychic medium, EVPs (electronic voice phenomena), EMF (electromagnetic field) readings, pictures, ghost box sessions, my own investigating, countless hours of research along with researching the history on the home, I was able to start to figure some things out but didn’t realize there was going to be more to be learned.

It is known that I have eight spirits in the home with the possibility of more. Three of the eight are evil and the others I’m still not quite sure because trickery can be used and they don’t like to be honest. The three evil ones―two are deceased relatives of mine and the third is believed to be an attachment to the home since the 1800s.


My daughter and I have encountered several different odors such as sulfur, burnt toast, wet dirt, rotting flesh, apples and cinnamon, and wild musk perfume. We have been touched, heard growling, evil laughter, whispering, and sometimes voices. Objects have been thrown at us such as knives, hand held pruning shears, CDs, VCR tapes, etc.

I have been pushed down the stairs, touched in my sleep, have had the towel pulled off me after getting out of the shower. My daughter has been scratched, had some small unexplained bruises, and also had two incidents happen that she has no memory of but I was told that I intercepted what was the beginnings of a possession.

The following 3-minute video is from a paranormal investigation at our house where we captured some sound of the spirits.




can of cat food opened 
and thrown at the ceiling and wall
garlic powder dumped on the floor

Sometimes the phone will ring right before or after activity and there will be no one on the other end, or you will hear a muffled voice but can’t understand what’s being spoken.


My daughter and I have also experienced some activity while being in the car together, when we pulled into the driveway and stopped. In the following pics is the scratch my daughter got while we were in the car together. The scratch is in the shape of a letter "Z."
 
And there have been occurrences that have happened from time to time when she visits or has a sleepover at her friend’s home across the street from my home.

This was a written message left for me when my daughter was staying at her friend's home across the street. Some activity was happening and they had called me to come over. When I went to get my phone to take pictures, this written message was next to my phone. The message reads, "BN AND RM ARE MINE” (my daughter's initials and her friend's).

The next message was written on my daughter's bedroom mirror in red lipstick while no one was home. She and I had gone to the doctor's and then the store. We found this message after coming home and I went into her room. This was two days after the priest had done a full blessing on our home for the third time. It says: "YOU CANT STOP ME".


We’ve experienced communication from written messages, symbols, on Facebook and from several messes made using edible items and even paint.

 

Below is cat litter taken from a litter box and made into a circle. Circles were always being made and it's a protection for the entities and means never ending.

          
This symbol below is a drawing and only because I was away when this symbol was made out of fruity pebbles cereal, black pepper, and onion powder. The word "DIE" was written underneath. 


My husband at the time had found it and tried to shield our daughter from it and didn't think to take a picture. They were asked to describe what they saw and to draw it in separate rooms. I found out it's a satanic symbol to represent the devil.


The next symbol is a “triquetra” made out of black pepper and garlic powder along with a circle and a written message. The messages says:   "I WANT THE GIRL NOW I NEED HER TO JOI ME."
 
  My daughter, a few years older

The second written message was written on my daughter's bedroom wall next to her closet door with a mirror on it. It says . . . "SHES MINE JOI ME AND YOU WILL DIE DAWN.”

 

This message was written after I had intercepted what was the start of a partial possession of her. She has blue eyes and her eyes were black when I had opened her door to see if she was okay.


The calendar was thrown at me while upstairs in my landlord's place and the word "DIE" was written on it for me. I have been constantly told to die.

While all of this may seem unbelievable, it’s been proven that these incidents weren't from someone playing a joke or trying to be scary, and I have copies of all the messages received. The home has been blessed three times inside and outside using holy water, incense, many prayers, crosses and other religious objects. Gregorian music has also been tried, sage, crystals, salt, and other things. Each time though the activity escalates and becomes stronger and more difficult.


I’ve been told that I have a combination of demonic activity along with witchcraft that was either practiced or dabbled with, and there was also some kind of satanic worshipping or practicing. I have names of those whom lived in the home from the 1800s up until now but can’t say for certain what was ever practiced or believed in.
 
There is much more to my story but wanted to try to give some insight into my journey that I am still facing and working at resolving. I understand there may be those that feel moving out of the home would be in my best interest but the spirits can and do follow. I am not one to give up very easily, nor will I give into what they feel they can have or control without trying for a resolution.
   
Here is a video of another paranormal investigation. This one is 18 minutes.


A link to my blog called “My Paranormal” is: www.cinn2you2blogspot.com
I haven’t updated since June 13, 2013 but can answer any questions via email lilsis72@hotmail.com

Many thanks to Dawn Shepard for sharing her paranormal story on Dark Lucidity. I love posting paranormal stories. If you have evidence of ghostly encounters with photos and video, or know someone who does, please contact Brian(at)BrianMoreland(dot)com.