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New Gothic Horror Story For You : MERCY

I’m back from a tiny vacation and working like a madman down in my dungeon where I keep my computer and ghosts in a jar. I’m very happy to share my first ever gothic horror tale, MERCY. Part 1 is featured on the Pen of the Damned website. It starts with an exorcism, and goes into dark, myserious places from there. You can’t beat the price (Free!). Check it out when you have a chance and hit those share links at the end of the story to let folks on FB, Twitter, and everywhere know where to find it.

Special thanks to my ghoulish assistants, Ivy and Veronica Shea, who dreamt up this creepy story and gave me inspiration.

All rights reserved by microshlaft

Now, Part 2 isn’t scheduled to be out for another 7 weeks, but if I get enough demand, I’ll feature it right here on the blog sooner, followed by Part 3 on Pen of the Damned. It’s all in your hands now. (cue sinister laughter)

And if you dig this, Evil Eternal is right up your alley!

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Great Anthology News

Back when I was just a guy who loved to read books and hadn’t thought of writing my own, I was blown away by the genre hopping greatness of this Texan dude named Joe R. Lansdale. He could effortlessly go from western to comedy to horror to high drama without missing a beat. I’ve been an ardent fan for decades and thought meeting him 2 years ago was the high point of my fanaticism.

Well, I was wrong. The high point is now! My story, Scab, is in the Morpheus Tales Weird Fiction Vol 2 anthology, alongside a story by my hero, Senor Lansdale.

From the publisher :

For the first time collected together, the best weird fiction from Morpheus Tales, the UK’s most controversial weird fiction magazine! Only the very best weird fiction has been hand-picked from the Morpheus Tales archives to create the second collected volume of the magazine Christopher Fowler calls “edgy and dark”. Featuring fiction by K.C. Ball, Skadi medic Beorh, L. R. Bonehill, Tonia Brown, Jesse Click, Tim Eagle, Chris Ewing, Ray Garton, Lee Gimenez, Gail Gray, K.J. Hannah Greenberg, Ian Hunter, Gary Inbinder, Dev Jarrett, Mark Howard Jones, Paul Johnson-Jovanovic, Fred R. Kane, Brian Kutco, Joe R. Lansdale, David Lear, B. Miller, Louise Morgan, Lee Pletzers, Hunter Shea, Fred Venturini, Nathan Wellman, C.E. Zacherl, and A. David Zapata. Established horror best-sellers rub shoulders with rising stars and newcomers in this diverse collection of short weird fiction.

Lovely cover, ain’t it? I’m so thrilled to be a part of this, I feel compelled to find some Lone Star and celebrate!

Print edition is available here.

E-book can be found at Amazon (with print coming soon).

Dinner with Ghost Hunters

It’s been a while since I posted an original story here on the old blog and chain. This one is for my sister and brother-in-law, right down to the Cowboys jersey. This is a little flash fiction piece I call “Dinner With Ghost Hunters”. Hope you enjoy it. Please comment away!

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It had long been a rule of Tom’s not to go to dinner parties hosted by people he either didn’t know or didn’t like. He gripped the steering wheel a little too hard on the ride to the Gundersons, angry at Carolyn for ignoring one of his cardinal rules.

As they pulled into the driveway, he said, “Okay, call me when you’re done and I’ll pick you up.”

Carolyn playfully slapped his arm, ignoring his discomfort. “At least you’ll get a free meal out of it.”

“Yeah, at what cost?”

Tom was so busy fuming about the night ahead that he didn’t notice the parked van until he walked smack into the rear double doors.

“What the?”

Carolyn was already at the front door, pinwheeling one hand to urge him forward. He joined her side, a tad woozy and holding his nose. Carolyn paid him no mind.

Missy Gunderson answered the door wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey and denim shorts. Hank Gunderson came up behind her smiling in his blue Giants jersey.

“Hey guys, come on in!,” Missy said. “We were hoping you could stay after dinner and watch the game. Hank just got one of those huge plasma TVs and is dying to show it off to someone.”

Casual dress? Plasma TV? Football?

Maybe I’ve been wrong about all of this, Tom thought.

After a round of introductions, Hank led them to the dining room for cocktails. As they walked past the living room, Tom noticed three men and one woman sitting in front of a folding table loaded with small monitors and computers. The quartet never looked their way.

“Don’t mind them,” Hank said to Tom. “They’ve been here for a week and we barely even notice them anymore.”

“Who are they?” Tom asked. Carolyn shot him a cautionary look. Don’t pry her eyes pleaded.

Missy laughed and said, “You’re not gonna believe this, but they’re from that TV show, Ghost Trackers. Hank thinks this house is haunted, so one night after watching the show he sent them an email and, well, here they are. I was dead set against it but they paid us some money, so Tom gets his TV and I get my new laptop.”

“And most importantly, I get some answers,” Hank added.

“Sounds exciting,” Carolyn said.

Missy leaned towards Tom and Carolyn and said, “Trust me, it’s pretty boring stuff. They do a lot of walking around and looking at monitors. I don’t know how they stay awake.”

Hank walked in carrying a tray of margaritas and they settled into the dining room. And true to Hank’s word, they soon forgot about the Ghost Trackers team in the next room. Tom quietly admitted to himself that he actually liked the Gundersons.

Two pleasant hours and one delicious steak dinner later, Tom was startled by the sound of high pitched beeping coming from the living room. That was followed by the shuffling of feet and excited conversation.

“What’s going on?” Tom said.

Hank peered into the living room, his arm frozen in place, drink halfway to his lips. “I have no idea.”

One of the team members rushed into the dining room and turned off the lights. “Get a camera in here!” he shouted.

The rest of the team followed, one holding a little handheld device that whined nervously, another with something that looked like a radar gun and two with large cameras propped on their shoulders.

“It’s right over there,” the woman shouted, pointing towards the area behind Tom.

“Flash!” someone shouted and a camera flash went off, momentarily blinding everyone.

“What’s over here?” Tom asked. He was promptly shushed by the woman.

“Do you see that mist, just over his head?” one of the cameramen whispered.

Tom jerked his head around but only saw darkness.

“Temperature’s dropping. Down five degrees, seven, ten degrees.”

“EMF is spiking at five. It’s right here, I can feel it.”

“Whoa, did you see that blue light? It just went behind him!”

Tom grabbed Carolyn’s hand and knocked over his chair as he jumped to his feet.

“We’re outta here,” Tom shouted. Again, he was shushed.

“It’s following him. Quick, keep a camera on him.”

Tom and Carolyn made their way through the darkened house while the Gundresona sat in mute shock. He slammed the front door on the cameraman that was hot on his heels, leaving the madness behind them.

“And that’s why I have rules,” he said to Carolyn, and promptly smashed face-first, again, into the front of the Ghost Trackers van.

Big Anthology News : Kicking The Bucket List

I’m pretty damn good with secrets, but this particular one was killing me. Cemetery Dance Publications just announced the lineup for their newest anthology : Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. My story, Cry, will be surrounded by the work some utterly fantastic writers I admire like Norman Prentiss, Rio Youers and Brian James Freeman, just to name a few. Click on the cover image (makes me think of Sinbad movies) to learn more.

You see, for me, this is no small feat. This is one of the things I had put on my bucket list back when I got the crazy idea that I wanted to become a writer. “Buy a pipe and smoking jacket” was the first goal I put on that list, but I’ve since opted for cigars and motorcycle jackets. I’ve been an enormous fan of Cemetery Dance Magazine for about twenty years now. When people ask me what it is, I tell them, “It’s only the New York Times of horror.” I mean, duh!

If you want a Who’s Who of horror, all you need to do is visit the Cemetery Dance website and you’re in the thick of things. I was just asked by another uber talented writer how I landed a spot in the antho. The key is, it came when I wasn’t looking for it. I was at the Horrorfind convention last September and started talking to a writer who informed me at one point that he was on the Cemetery Dance staff.

He asked, “Have you ever submitted to them before?”

“I sure have, and I have a folder of rejection slips to show for it,” I replied with a sense of pride. Rejection slips are like war wounds to a writer.

“Even though they’re closed to submissions, I’d be happy to take a look at your stuff .If I think it’s right, I’ll show it to the editors.”

So, a few weeks after I got home, I wrote a story and sent it off to my new friend, hoping it would at least get consideration for the magazine. I doubted it would make it, and kept my hope stick mega-limbo-low.

A couple of months later, I get the acceptance email, only it’s going to be in one of their amazingly produced anthologies! Score! The hardest part was keeping it on the DL until they had the final lineup in place. Well, I can finally open my big fat mouth about it.

Publish a story with Cemetery Dance : check.

And I get to check it off because I went to a conference, talked to as many people as I could, and happened to meet one of the nicest guys in the biz who just happened to be connected to the Vatican of horror. (On a side note, going to at least one conference a year is a must and a hell of a lot of fun) That and I had to bust my ass to write the best, tightest story I could dream up.

Now I’m reconsidering tossing the pipe idea out. Hmmm…..

Check out the book that made this possible, Forest of Shadows! You always need that first domino to fall.

Another Mag, Another Curtain Call

This is bittersweet news. My story, Bottom of the Ninth, will be published in the next issue of Ethereal Tales at the end of the month. The sad part is, this will be the final issue. Keeping a magazine running is harder than you can imagine, and I thank Teresa Ford for allowing me to grace her magazine’s pages with a couple of my stories over the years. Finding quality horror magazines is becoming as difficult as the hunt for Bigfoot. Cemetery Dance is still the king of the prom, but lately the chasm between issues has been growing larger and larger (though I was recently assured by a staff member there that things will be picking up soon). I gues this is all part of the changing times in publishing. Anthologies are now the best place to get your horror shorts fix. But man, there’s something about magazines that I love, and miss.

Speaking of Cemetery Dance, they just announced the publication of Four Legs in the Morning, the newest book by Norman Prentiss. If you’re not reading his work, you’re depriving yourself.

So, back to Ethereal Tales, check it out and lay down a couple of pounds for a copy that will be full to bursting with new stories and great artwork.

The Dig – Now on Kindle

That’s right, I finally figured it out. And I got my first Kindle this week. I’ve been having an Amazon time. The Dig is 99 cents and ready when you are. The management thanks you for your support. To learn more or download your copy, just click the cover image.

New Story Available for Nook

One of my never before published short stories, The Dig, is now available for download through Barnes & Noble for only 99 cents. Heck, that’s less than a McChicken on the dollar menu (and much better for you)! It will be available in other formats soon, as will other stories over the next few months.

The Dig is the first in what will be a series of horror shorts with an archaeological theme. Here’s the breakdown:

While digging in the Mongoloian heat, Felicia Tang enters an archaeological mystery. What looks like a normal burial mound is actually the entrance to a centuries old chamber housing countless urns within rough hewn niches. Who built the vast chamber and why? What remains lie within the urns? Most of all, what is still very much alive in the dark?

Click the cover image to learn more or download your copy.

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