Monday, 22 December 2014

SOLSTICE LIST 2014: Best Horror Books Not to be Missed

Welcome to the third annual Solstice List. I have the fortunate hobby of reading, reviewing, and rating horror stories: Short ones, big ones, great ones, and outstanding ones. These horror folks have got their game on. They twist words, phrases and clauses so well, it is poetic by nature and pure, unadulterated brilliance. The sad part is, some are never recognized by regular publishers, the Horror Writers Association or others because they were published in the wrong year, not enough marketing presence, or not enough readers.

For these reasons, and many others, I created The Solstice List. I wanted to honour great writing and authors who know what they are doing. I wanted to spread the joy, horror joy, on the BEST day of the year and offer this as my gift to horror authors and readers alike, to see what is out there, what you have been missing and to pick up a few great books. 

This year's list will change, as they all do, because of the books I have read. Some years there are more categories, others less. Some names you will recognize, others you won't. And therein lies the beauty! Discover someone new. Leave them a review and spread Solstice cheer all around. 

For my authors, I love you guys and gals. You are the family I never had. And you are all as creepy as I am. For my readers, I love you too. Reading is a dying art form. Reading brings knowledge, enlightens your world, and makes life a better place to hang out. Even reading horror. Don't let those literary types bring you down. Reading Michaelbrent Collings or Martin REAVES is every bit as enhancing as reading "Wuthering Heights"...and probably a whole lot more fun.

Horror is the dirty, white trash cousin no one speaks about. Horror was removed from a lot of bookstores over the years, as a reading section, so as to no disturb a "gentle reader" and horror books were placed in the Fiction Section. I despise that move, to relegate horror among fiction, to make it disappear. No other genre gets treated as horror. Romance, Western, Erotica, Science Fiction, Fantasy all have their place, but horror, we have to bury to not offend the delicacies of our patrons. 

As a Horror Author, I am damn proud to say I write Horror. I write things about life. The worst possible things that can happen to a human being. Then I give my protagonist a way out...sometimes. I deal with the darkness so you won't have to. I deal with the demons that control us and help us understand why we might be fighting the same ones. If that isn't a superpower, I don't know what is. Read on, my lovelies and darklings, for this is for all of us. Happy Solstice!

BEST HORROR NOVELS

1.  TWISTED by Michaelbrent COLLINGS: Blake Douglas has a beautiful wife, a brand new daughter with a horrible, life threatening illness, and a young son. His life, however, is disintegrating around him. He is weeks away from losing his business, he has medical bills and now, his house has been invaded by thousands and thousands of centipedes. Luckily, his wife, Alyssa has found a place to live for a few days until their house gets fumigated. But that is when every falls apart. Blake's past rushes in to destroy his present, the disgusting book in the rental house shows horrid pictures, and the ghosts come to rip the Douglas family apart. This story has remnants of The Shining, elements of The Sixth Sense and the tragedy of Misery. 

Michael knows how to write. He knows how to write well. He keeps the reader engaged and entertained, all the while sucking you into his madness de jour. Before you know it, you are hip deep in darkness and are struggling not to sink. Michael is not afraid to tackle the fears we do not want to tread near. He talks about them, writes them, plays with them and then viscerally tears into them making them real. So real, you wish you weren't there, but you are, and it is quite the ride. 

The past few years have taught me there are authors, there are storytellers, there are writers and then there are the best who take all these components and with a little magic, a lot of talent and a lot of blood, tell a story that needs to be told to quell the darkness. Michael is such a man.

http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Michaelbrent-Collings-ebook/dp/B00Q5HFZA2/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419289648&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=twisted+micahelbrent

2. THE SLAB by Michael R. COLLINGS:  Something went wrong with the construction of 66 Oleander place. Horribly wrong. And now the house consumes each family who dares to live there. A gripping tale fraught with emotion and fear, this one will keep you reading far into the night. 

Another house, another infestation...crickets. I hate crickets with a passion. I loathe them, despise them and am eternally in fear of their little conniving ways. I know they are out to get me. They plot behind the water cooler, under the dark, in the kitchen cupboard and are plotting a coup to take me down. Damn bugs....

http://www.amazon.com/Slab-Horror-Michael-R-Collings-ebook/dp/B004MDLWFS/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419289844&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=the+slab+michael+collins

3. SADIE THE SADIST by Zané SACHS: This was a riot. Over the top, zany, hysterical and so, so very entertaining. Sadie feels unloved, is unmotivated and plots to kill her co-workers. Sadie is snarky and the hatred she has for her boss is tangible. The writing in this moves so quickly, so perfectly, you think you have spent minutes reading and then you realize dawn is breaking. I loved this book. Black humour at its finest!

http://www.amazon.com/Sadie-Sadist-X-tremely-Black-Horror-ebook/dp/B00JOOFCLK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419289887&sr=8-1&keywords=sadie+the+sadist


4. RELATIVE KARMA by Martin REAVES: Awesome story with great characters and perfect flow. This tale struck a cord with me as I was walking along the same path as Jeff, trying to rebuild his life after a stupid mistake. He has changed, but how does he get his wife to believe him. Then in walks Jan to destroy what little peace head had found. But life is all about Karma, what you do, how you do it and what you become, if you play nice. 

Martin REAVES writes with passion. You can feel it in every word, every sentence. He takes phrases and pulls them together so successfully, it keeps you wanting more and  more. He writes clean. He writes clear. And he writes with a purpose. Read this book, then read everything else by him. 

http://www.amazon.com/Relative-Karma-Martin-Reaves-ebook/dp/B005NWQDN8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419289932&sr=8-1&keywords=relative+karma


5. OF A FEATHER by Ken GOLDMAN: This was an entertaining story of Socrates, a  misunderstood teenager with a rare gift. He knows birds. As a matter of fact, he knows birds so well, he is a wealth of information for anyone who crosses his path. He meets Jamie who works in a pet store and they quickly befriend each other. Doris, Socrates' sister is by far my favourite character and deserves a book all on her own. Unfortunately, Socrates has his share of problems. He is an outcast, bullied at school and in town and people quickly turn on him. With all the teenage characters, you would think this is a YA novel, and it might fit in that category, but this is written so well, so tightly, the pacing is so accurate, you get the sense of another world lying beneath the surface. A couple of pages into it, I was hooked. 

http://www.amazon.com/Feather-Ken-Goldman-ebook/dp/B00HMR47OY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419289975&sr=8-1&keywords=of+a+feather+ken+goldman


6.  THE WOMAN by Jack KETCHUM: Jack, what the heck is going on in your mind? Wow, what ride. Some of the finest and most horrific writing I have read in a very long while. 'The Woman' is about one of the last surviving members of a cannibal tribe who is bathing in a stream when Christopher Cleek spies her and decides he needs to have her. He kidnaps her and holds her hostage in a barn in his country home. And from there, things go...bad. I do believe I finished this all in one sitting. Could not put this down, as with every turn of the page there was another horrific thing or action or weirdness. Pick your word. Do you like your writing intense? This is the book for you. 

http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Jack-Ketchum-ebook/dp/B004MPRXKE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290040&sr=1-1&keywords=the+woman+jack+ketchum


7. HIGH MOOR by Graeme REYNOLDS: When John hears of an animal attack in his home town, he knows there is something more to the story than what is being said. John knows the truth: Werewolves stalk High Moor and he goes home to write the story. I love the way this story comes together; the writing, the pace, the plot, the characters. I could defintely read this over and over again. Highly entertaining, highly imaginative and so well written. You will be reading this one a few times. 

http://www.amazon.com/High-Moor-Graeme-Reynolds-ebook/dp/B0068NOYM8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290069&sr=1-1&keywords=high+moor


HOUSEMATES by Iain Rob WRIGHT: Housemates was a fun read. Yeah the novel was extreme and reminded me of the toss up between the Stanley MILGRIM experiment, Survivor and Big Brother, but I loved it. People wanting a lot of cash and are invited to take part in a gameshow, except the payment might be a wee high. In order to win, you must be the last one standing.

What I love about Iain's books is the way he writes his characters. Whether they are slime balls or good people, there is something to like about them. The dialogue is well written, the pacing is spot on and the story is great. Iain know his way around a computer. I am definitely a fan. 

http://www.amazon.com/Housemates-Novel-Extreme-Terror-ebook/dp/B00ENGFAYI/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290102&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=housmates


9. JIMMY by William MALMBORG:  Jimmy is just another loser kid, a social outcast who's high school journey is about to end. Jimmy, however, has a secret. Two of them, and they are hanging in the basement of an abandoned house.

Another teen book, but definitely not made for the YA market, unless the YA's are sociopaths. 'Jimmy' is the first novel William wrote and it is a winner. Dark, gritty but so well put together, you would think someone of 17 could not have written this. But he did and he did an amazing job.

http://www.amazon.com/Jimmy-William-Malmborg-ebook/dp/B005EZNYSG/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290143&sr=1-3&keywords=jimmy

10. ANGEL MANOR by Chantal NOORDELOOS: Angel Manor is a wonderful, centuries old monastery that has been left to Freya upon the death of her aunt. Freya hates this place. It is desolute place which her friends are in love with...well they are in love with an idea: Turning the manor into a hotel and restaurant. Oliver wants to be a chef and Bam with help Freya with the hotel. But, there is something slightly 'off' about the manor. Sections have been boarded up, rooms have been closed, but with furniture in place and tables set as if expecting guests for dinner. Nothing in the manor is as it seems. Soon, stories that have been buried for centuries are bubbling to the surface and want to take all who enter Angel Manor to the other side. Will any of them survive?

Chantal is a talented young writer, a spirited woman and a master at creating illusion. Angel Manor is a five star novel. The characters grip you from the very first page and hold onto you until the last. This artist will go far, and I hope she continues to write horror. 

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Manor-Lucifer-Falls-Book-ebook/dp/B00PKD0E4E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290180&sr=1-1&keywords=angel+manor

BEST SHORT STORIES, NOVELLAS, and COLLECTIONS


1. KETCHUP ON EVERYTHING by Nathan ROBINSON: Robinson is quickly becoming one of my top five favourite authors, and here is why. The man knows how to spin a tale so well, so tightly woven, so clean and so full of depth it leaves the reader breathless. From the opening paragraph to the gripping end, Robinson grips the reader in his hand and holds them, squeezes them, sometimes allowing them to breath, but often times leaves them completely gasping for air.

Ketchup on Everything is a tough story to read for anyone who has children. Be warned. Horror and children are a great combination when done right. And Robinson did this tale justice. Gripping pace, a master in the descriptive sense and a lover of prose, this is a must read for anyone who loves horror with a dash of reality.

http://www.amazon.com/Ketchup-Everything-Nathan-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00JANUJXQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290274&sr=1-1&keywords=ketchup+on+everything

2.  DARK THOUGHTS by Martin REAVES: Martin tells some very odd and twisted stories in this collection. BLUE KARI is deeply touching and moving, albeit a horror story. Cerulean Blue permeates the story about a deep friendship between two young girls. LITTLE GIRL LOST is a father's worst nightmare come true. Your daughter is out, driving in a part of town meant for drug dealers and gang bangers, and all you have is a phone and her voice. HARVEST MOON explains the love between a mother and son...in a creepy way. LAST WISH is the dying wish of an ex-wife. DEVIL WEED was my favourite. What is out in those woods? DARK THOUGHTS tells the tale of a boy that can read the future and finally, manipulate it. LINDA VISTA HOSPITAL...IN MEMORIAM...a ghost story. IT"S THE END OF THE WORLD AND I FEEL FINE...the end of the world. What would you want to see as your last vision? CHAINING THE BEAST IN THE BASEMENT OF THE MUSE...the author. KIMBERLINA...my favourite of a much longer and darker piece I will hopefully be telling you about next year. 

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Thoughts-Martin-Reaves-ebook/dp/B009F27E76/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290309&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+thoughts+martin+reaves

3.  WEEPING MARY by John Paul ALLEN: Creepy story about a young girl in an orphanage waiting to get adopted or fostered. She finally gets selected, but there is something strange in her new family. At first, some of her new siblings ignore her, then they fawn over her. The teachings about the Mother seem innocuous enough, but something is not right. 

John Paul Allen is a terrific writer and a gifted story teller. If you have the stomach for him...

http://www.amazon.com/Weeping-Mary-John-Paul-Allen-ebook/dp/B0058ZX9KK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290369&sr=1-1&keywords=weeping+mary

4. THE COMPLETE KAYLA BURKHEART TALES by Christine SUTTON: I love the way Christine spins a tale, weaving and wandering through a story and telling it in a completely new way. Kayla takes on monsters, witches, werewolves and herself in this complete saga. Christine is adept at spinning a tale to keep readers enchanted and enthralled. Loved the simplicity of the writing, which is very difficult to do, as any writer will tell you. Women in horror offer surprising tales. You will defintely hear more from Christine.

http://www.amazon.com/Burkheart-Witch-Saga-Book-Snow-ebook/dp/B00POOL20O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290448&sr=1-1&keywords=christine+sutton

http://www.amazon.com/Burkheart-Witch-Saga-Book-Let-ebook/dp/B00PPJJ34K/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=07E74GSY9024ZWWPAC1N

5. THE SHIFTERS by Jaime JOHNESEE and Edited by LEIGH M. LANE: A new take on a police procedural with a twist: Shifters. In a world were anyone might be a shifter, a police officer is tracking down a serial killer. Sam is looking for Grisly Adams so named because of what he leaves of his victims. Jaime and Leigh have a clarity that I liked in this story, along with wit and a sense of partnership. It is difficult to pinpoint who wrote what, and that is exactly the way it should be done.

http://www.amazon.com/Shifters-Jaime-Johnesee-ebook/dp/B008D2VVXC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290554&sr=1-1&keywords=shifters+jaime+johnesee

BEST ANTHOLOGY

1.  DEAD HARVEST edited by Mark PARKER: This HUGE 700 page book is exactly what is needed on a cold winter's night. Story after story proved to be successful and thrilling reads, it was difficult to pinpoint a favourite. Three of them were weak, but the other 47? Spot on. They brought the tension, the wit, the horror and the philosophy that I love about creative horror. This is one book I will read and read again. And if this is any indication of Mark Parker as an editor, he is on the right path. If you love big books, if you love intelligent horror, this is for you. 

STANDOUTS: AUTUMN LAMB by E.G. SMITH, LEARNED CHILDREN by Ronald MALFI, REAPING A QUIENT LUNACY Martin REAVES, NAILS by Jeff STRAND, REUNION by Bear WEITER, PETER PETER by Christine SUTTON, KATY AND THE GREEN BOY by Lori SAFRANEK, EATEN UN-ALIVE by David BERNSTEIN, WEEPER by Tim WAGGONER, CORNSTALKER by Lori R LOPEZ, and ABLATION by M.L. ROOS....read this book. I am sure you will be thrilled.
http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Harvest-Collection-Dark-Tales-ebook/dp/B00PBD3D5U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290591&sr=1-1&keywords=dead+harvest

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Float.Calm, Writing, Lucid Dreaming, Stress Reduction

I had a powerful experience yesterday. I floated...in space...freefall...for 90 blissful minutes.



Picture this: a serene room painted with walls of mauve and blues; aromatherapy misting in the background with clean, fresh scents, a private shower on white tiled floors, orchids, a wooden table with clean, pressed towels and a pod. The pod is roughly 12 feet long and 8 feet wide on the outside, rectangular with softly rounded corners and a molded ergonomic handle. You pull it open and the inside this blissful womb is six inches of water and 850 pounds of therapeutic Epsom salts. The water and salt is a perfect 93 degrees. You climb in the pod, shut the door...and you are transported, through space and time, dimension and planes into a completely relaxed, stress free journey. For the next 90 minutes, all you can hear is your heartbeat and your breath. You can see nothing but a wall of black and you are perfectly comfortable.



This is HUGE. I am claustrophobic, have ADD+, or as I call it, ADD High Octane, and I am a writer. Between being a writer and ADD, my mind never shuts up. We have conversations, arguments, debates. Sometimes we throw parties, invite the neighbourhood, the townsfolk, and the next three cities over. And we all talk at once. We talk about the weather, murder, shopping, poisons, kidnapping, The Big Bang Theory, the next best movie, the next best book, dinner, decomposition, body farms...you get the idea. Did I mention I write horror.? Yeah, I guess that is obvious. Usually, the conversations all happen at the same time AND just as we lie our head on the pillow.



I climbed into this pod and my mind shut down. Completely. There was no chatter. I breathed in and out, listened to my heart beat and my breath, and floated. There was nothing else. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. My body was completely relaxed, my mind was awake and focused and I was without pain. I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while and suddenly I had an amazing idea for the book I was working on: a complete new prologue explaining the history of creation and time. But with vampires...not Stephen Hawkins material. Don't get too excited. Horror. Remember the horror part. It was genius. I took notes afterwards and the idea gelled and formed into a realistic plot form. It even made sense the very next day!



Writers have been there. Trust me. We get brilliant ideas at 3am and we excitedly write down our thoughts in a journal and when we wake up the next morning and look at the scribblings, we wonder if a mad, half drunk lunatic escaped and took notes for us. We convince ourselves it was not us that wrote "Cats that turn into leopards at midnight and steal cars", but someone else. Because, at 3am, that was genius. In the cold morning light, however, it is crap.



But this is different. Floating and shutting out the world frees our minds to do what they do best; solve problems, create, journey, whatever your art form may be.



As a writer, as an anxiety-ridden, over worked, over stressed brain splatter recovery human, this was heaven. I will definitely do it again. And again. And again.



The effects lasted into today. I feel rested. I feel more in control of my work. And I accomplished twice as much as I usually would in the hectic work environment then I usually would have on a Monday.



Break free from your life for 90 minutes. You will thank me later. Float.Calm.



http://www.floatcalm.com

Friday, 28 November 2014

Roos' Razor

Life is all about what you make of it. It is that simple. Dress it up, dress it down, make it sparkle, make it dull, wrap a bow around it or cover it up, your life is created by your thoughts. No more, no less.

If you spend the day thinking about the worst that can happen, the doom and gloom, you will keep down that path unitl it becomes a narrow tunnel to depression, paranoia and self loathing. 
I am not saying that is the only cause for depression. I know depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and can be brought under control with the right combination of medication and better living habits. I've studied as a psychiatric nurse. I know the DSM V and the standards for mental illness. Just want to clarify in case I am giving the impression that depression is only caused by bad thoughts.

Happiness is a choice. Fear is a choice. Anger is a choice. We all make them. We all have bad days. We all get ticked off at the moron who is driving at 50 KPH in an 80 KPH zone and want to ram their car to get them moving, except it would cause damage to our baby Fiat.  Yup, on some days that is the only thing stopping me. But I digress. 

So if it is a choice, what are you choosing? Do you choose happiness, or do you dwell on the negative that is all around us? And when you think, what is in your head? Is it what you are lacking, or what you can create? Sometimes it really is that simple.

Ockham's Razor is a way to look at problems: when you have two competing theories, the simplist is the better one.

Roos' Razor is simple too: when faced with any problem, think of the most absurd explanantion and go with that. Trust me, life gets way more interesting. 

What is the point to all this? I tend to think the absurd. I can take any situation and see the humour, the whackiness, the inane craziness of life. It makes me happy. 

I read a headline once: Man Sentenced to Two Years on a Trampoline. My mind went into overdrive. Two years on a trampoline. Wow! Does he have to bounce all the time? How does he sleep? What does he do in the winter? How does he go to the bathroom? Why a trampoline? What did he do to get sentenced to two years? These, and a million other thoughts zoomed through my synaptic nerves until I read the sentence again and discovered he had been sentenced to a Trapline. I found this hysterical and even now, years later I can still see myself sitting in the house, alone, laughing like a loon because I am picturing this guy bouncing with a smile on his face as he looks into the distance. 

This is how I choose to see life. The comedy, the craziness, the absurdity and the joy. Does it make a difference? You bet it does. I tend to think of scenarios that may seem a little off the wall, but may contain a kernel of something that can be used somewhere else. As a writer, this is invaluable. As a Project Manager this allows me to see things others may not. As a person, it makes me laugh. And I guess that is the best reason of all.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Halloween, Religion and Candy Corn

I love this time of year! The Magic is in the air, the leaves are on the ground, and the kids are dreaming of candy corn.



I love the smells, the sounds and the sights as I see numerous pictures of Halloween, Witches, Ghosts, Monsters and endless horror movies on TV. This is what it should be like all year around.....well it is at my house. I keep my Bat Mat on the front door, hang bats in my Christmas Tree, have my Halloween/Christmas town set up usually all year around.

My family was born in Europe and we lived there for several years. Pagan and Christian/Catholic Holy-days were all melded into one happy tradition. In November the adults dressed up in costumes, danced and partied well into the night usually for a week or two on end, right in the midst of the Catholic Cathedral and among the statues of Mary at the side of the road.

Children played in the streets collecting candy and chasing the Witches. Men and women dressed in costume and everyone enjoyed this magical season. 

I wish we had more of that spirit here in Canada. 

In Mexico they have Day of the Dead and All Souls Day celebrated in a three day festival. Again, the Catholicism and Paganism meld into joining of forces and everyone celebrates the Dead. It is not a foreign idea to merge the two religions.

Only in North America have I seen the dichotomy of being a Witch and being a Christian. It is almost like we have not matured enough to see the goodness in both, or, the Goddess in both. 

One day, my little lambs, we shall come to realize that we have more in common than we think. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

It's A Man's World

Some things really upset me: Racism, sexism, ageism, any kind of isms. People are people, whether you are straight, gay, Black, Aboriginal, Jewish, Christian, Wiccan, Muslim, female or male. And the thing that gets me every single time is how people will push your buttons, turn on you or demoralize you for one of the above.

It happened to me during last year's innocuous 'Do Women Write Horror Differently Then Men'. My gawd, you would have thought I was asking if men should be demonized and held captive for days while ripping wings off of butterflies and devouring children. I was lambasted, roasted, stalked, had threatening emails, terrorizing private messages and lewd comments. Nothing to do with the article. Nothing to do with the challenge. Just all threats and cowardly comments from weak-minded individuals who feared a woman asking such a dangerous question. Interestingly enough, only a handful of men actually read the posts, but none ventured a guess. Only the women did that. And no one got it right.

Now, I find out someone I know is being victimized at her place of work.......for being pregnant. She has been demoted, deducted vacation time for medical appointments, and basically being told to FO.

It is 2014. Women get pregnant. They don't do it to screw with the work force. They don't do it to get a vacation. They do it because it is their given right in this day and age to do so what they will with their own bodies. And now it is still being used against them. Why?

Women are told they can't get pregnant if it interferes with their job, they can't get an abortion because that is morally wrong, they can't have multiple sexual partners because that is morally wrong, they can't earn as much as men because they do not head households etc.

In this enlightened age you would think that people for one minute, one tiny little minute, would look back and see things from another perspective.

In this same workplace, the men are paid exorbitant amounts of salaries, given trips to Europe, take three hour lunches and that is fine.

But a woman doing the exact same job, plus filling in two other positions gets paid less, way less, no trips to Europe, works during lunch breaks, takes work home and when she becomes pregnant, is told she is a lesser human being.

Isn't it time to make things equal? Why do we, as a society, have "rules" for gender, colour of skin, who you sleep with, and what religion you are? Why, as a society do we allow minorities to overrule public and country 'givens' because we are trying to be politically correct? Insert "remove bacon from the menu in a restaurant in North America because it offends me".

Why can we not state what is obviously someone's messed up notion of how something should work when it is blatantly obvious? And why do we roll over and pee on ourselves when we see something is wrong and do nothing about it?

It is 2014. It is time we grew up as a nation and stopped treating each other as chew toys.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Family, Love, and Seeking Approval

Had a great day yesterday with my daughter, future son-in-law, his family and friends and my husband's family. We had a baby shower for my daughter. She is pregnant with Jack, our first grandson. Family and friends showed up, showered her with gifts and love and it was beautiful. Truly had a great time.

Overall, I missed my son and brother who lives four provinces away and my family who lives 5000 miles away, but I am used to being alone. Not accepting of it, but used to it. Been alone ever since I was born. Doesn't make it any easier.

I truly do not understand people who have large families. They seem to think if they get together once a month that's not enough. Or if they see each other for lunch once a week, again, not enough. I shake my head and think, try once every five years.

But that is my demon, or one of them. To wander this earth in search of unconditional love from people who spawned me or who I spawned, and not receiving it. Weird how I cannot let that go. No idea if that is normal or not. For years I searched for approval from my mother and now, I realize I am searching for approval from my son. I was his greatest support when he was growing up, but he went his own way in his teens and never looked back. Now, as an adult, I continually look for him to approve of me. And I am continually disappointed.

But now that I have made that connection, I think I can let it go. Let it be free with my other demons and let them play together in another sandbox. I love him with all my heart, but for him, I am superfluous. I know that. Can maybe accept that, however, I doubt it, and hope, one day he comes back.

Then there's Jack. Another chance at love. Poor baby.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Vacation, Stress, PTSD

Vacation! That one time of year where we can relax, unwind, not think about work, responsibilities, poisoned office atmospheres and take a break. In theory, that's how it works. In reality, the hyper vigilance does not shut down. The nightmares do not stop. The tremors and muscle jerks continue along with the insomnia, nausea and feeling you are in the wrong body or the wrong mind. Unfortunately for PTSD survivors (and I hate that word also). We are not surviving, we are enduring, at the mercy of our flight and fight system and at mercy from a brain that will not hang onto memories long enough to process, but tortures us on a daily basis with flashes and glimpses of what was, and what could be again.

For me, it is the exhaustion. The every day battle that common people never face. I get up in the morning and I am exhausted, not rested, not thrilled to have to get out of bed at 0500 hours to face another day. I hurt. Every single muscle hurts. The shoulders, neck and back are the worst and my legs feel as if I am walking through jello. So where most people feel refreshed, I haven't slept, or had nightmares or woke up crying. Shower, have coffee and run out the door. Go to work where I will put in a 9 to 10 hour day dealing with interruptions, inter office politics, and office bullies. But on the positive side are the RM's, my staff and a few descent people that talk me off the ledge every once in a while.

I do not handle stupidity well, or bullies, or laziness and nothing raises my hackles more than someone who can complete a job for a client, but chooses not to. So I breathe. Count to ten. Kill them in my mind and let it go.

Dependent upon the day, I come home, feed the dogs, hang out with them for an hour, eat dinner and watch some TV with la spouse. Other days, I go straight to bed. Last weekend I went to bed Friday night and would up Monday morning.

Now it is vacations. No schedules. I plan on writing....a lot. And so far have managed to pull off what I have promised. Yesterday was a great day. Wrote in the morning, shopped in the afternoon and then entertained 6 friends and laughed, told stories and generally had a pleasant day.

Watched a movie, read a little bit and went to bed. And laid awake until 0500 hours. My mind would not shut down. I would read, nod off and think great, but no. Ten minutes later I am staring at the ceiling again. I tend to get a lot of books read this way, but unfortunately the headaches and fog I am left with means that today will be way less productive. I may get in 2000 words of a novel I am working on, or I may crash the rest of the day.

I eat well, I exercise, I quit drinking coffee before 1000, but regardless my brain has a mind of it's own. After the brain surgery, I did not sleep for five months. I cat napped, but that was it. I thought I would lose my mind. I have never recovered from that state, and I don't think I ever will.

We lost a member to PTSD two weekends ago. For Ken Barker, seeing the horrific incident of a young man being killed and cannibalized on a bus was the last thing he could endure. Five years later, no longer being able to deal with the pain, physical and mental, he succeeded in killing himself.  This is the path for some PTSD survivors.

A month before that, we lost three men to a psychopath with a shotgun. Three good men, who were loved, had families and had a vision of leaving the world a better place.

Triggers all around. And now, here in Gimli, the most serene place in the world, I write horrific things. I write about demons and human nature and the evil that men and women, do. Because it helps me keep my own demons in check. And because I know that whatever I write, the truth is always a million times worse.

Now, if I could just sleep like a normal person..........

Monday, 19 May 2014

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Post is About You

Here is a hypothetical situation: You have a meeting with a co-worker and they want to know why you aren't doing all their paperwork required for their project. You tell them it wasn't your position to do so as you do not have all the information; they do.

The meeting goes quickly downhill from there. You hold your ground. You are blunt and point out some facts. They back pedal and tell you about client service.  You know they do not really care about client service after witnessing less than stellar incidents first hand, but then you realise if they consider themselves the only client, then they are bang on. It is all about client service; them being the client and all about their service that is owed to them.

So how do you deal with a co-worker that refuses to do their part of the work, when everyone else is? How do you deal with someone who prefers that all paperwork be done by the clerical staff, even though it is their responsibility? How do you deal with someone who refuses to sign anything lest they be held accountable and responsible? How do you deal with someone who will underhandedly, insight workplace bad morale by rumour mongering and giving out false information?

I know all workplaces have someone like this. And I know all workplaces have a large turnover in staff because of things like this.


Snakes In Suits Robert D. Hare: Many (psychopaths) come across as having excellent oral communication skills.In many cases, these skills are more apparent than real because of their readiness to jump right into a conversation without the social inhibitions that hamper most people. They make use of the fact that for many people the content of the message is less important than the way it is delivered. A confident, aggressive delivery style, often larded with jargon, cliches and flowery phrases, makes up for lack of substance and sincerity in their interactions with others.


I see this all the time; the one trick pony that uses the same excuses and lauds the same argument as to why deadlines are not being met, why work is not completed, why the basic effort is not happening, yet at the same time espouses a team player attitude.

And the clincher is, people fall for it, over and over, and over again. I have seen grown, intelligent men fall all over themselves thinking that this time, Lucy Van Pelt will not take away the football, only to see them land on their assets....again.

It is shameful, disturbing, and it makes my blood boil. The only way to handle someone like this is to confront them in a group, document everything that happens, and cover your backside. Follow HR rules. Get rid of these people that create poisonous workplace environments and deal with it.

Sitting back and saying nothing does not work.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Celebrating Women Horror Writers Challenge Results

So how many took the challenge and read the last six pieces to see which ones were written by women? We had lots of discussion in Kindle Horror Books and on various pages; heard some mention they were all written by 'chicks'; others said they honestly could not tell. But, what I found most interesting is no one jumped in with both fangs and said 'Hey, I think this one is a women because XYZ and this one is a male because of 123'.

I did have one person question whether the pieces were written for the article, which I thought was a damn good question. No they weren't. These were all existing pieces of work. Otherwise we (I) could have skewed the results.

I find that interesting. I posted this article on my wall in FB, on Google +, others shared it on their walls and groups and ......nada.......

Why? Too afraid to take a guess and be wrong? Not interested? Have no opinion? I certainly heard a lot of opinions as to why women could not write horror. Nothing scientific, no empirical data, nothing concrete or anything that said women cannot write horror because they ______  (fill in the blank). But a lot of spouting off to say men were better. And I find that odd.

More men than women write horror, absolutely. More men also fail miserably at it than women. I read well over 300 books a year, all horror. Most are male authors, and most books lack several things:

  1. Editing: most of the time I will grit my teeth and highlight the errors in a book. If I feel generous, I will contact the author and tell him of his mistakes. Most of the time it is appreciated. Sometimes it isn't. And then I wonder, if you go to all that trouble to write, to conceive a baby of little black and white words, marks and squiggles on the page, to lose sleep over plot, theme, idea, journey, etc and then throw that child into the market without being properly dressed, what the hell were you thinking? I have heard male authors say 'I know this isn't edited, but here it is and please pay me $2.99 for it'. Arrogance? Laziness? Ineptitude? Or do they simply think their work is strong enough to go out without editing?
  2. A consistent, or varying pace: it's either all action and plot with no down time, or it is one grand soliloquy after another. Just the other day I read a piece and I think I must have skimmed more than three quarters of it because I was bored to tears.
  3. No likeable characters: there is no one to root for; no one to cheer on. No one to feel sad about if they get killed. Yes jerks exist. I get it. Bad neighbourhoods exist. People of both genders being assholes exist. But if I lived in a world like that, I would seriously have to hide the sharp objects. There is not one person who is completely evil. Not one person who has no redeeming qualities or character or something that can make a reader want something better for that person. Can you imagine if Ira Levin wrote Rosemary's Baby and she was a whining, cursing, nagging, shrew of a harpy who smoked, ate with her mouth hanging open and and scratched her private parts in public. The novel would have gone nowhere. Now, bad people in books can be completely evil, absolutely, but your main character better have something going for them or you lose the reader.
  4. Making the female characters too weak: biggest pet peeve of the movie The Shining was Shelley Duvall's character taken from being a strong female who had a mind of her own, to a screaming, flailing, simpering mess of a one dimensional character. The screaming, the flailing, oh wait in this scene you flail, and then scream. Really? Yes writing is difficult, and writing another gender even more so, but while the end of the world is crashing down around your ears, your last thought, as a female, as you are being chased by vampires through a New York subway system, is not to stop running and have sex. Sorry. Plot Hole. Ginormous plot hole. Or if a woman has just given birth and  then is invited to spend the weekend on a secluded, un-escapable cannibal island, I am positive she would say no.  But apparently one male author thought this was plausible.Then there was the police officer who was in uniform while her long, blonde cascading hair fell down her back. Again. Nope, ain't gonna happen. 
The other thing that happened was a lot of posts bashing Women in Horror Month. Bashing the logo, bashing women, bashing women writers. Just a whole lot of angry comments, and again, I found that.....typical.

I work in a male dominated field, and in a male dominated sub field. I hear it. The snide comments. The off hand remarks. The 'oh we were only joking' put downs. And I think to myself, we really have not evolved all that far as a species here in North America.

I raised my kids to be people, not gender specific roles. I taught them respect for one another and instilled in them a need to question. If someone tells you, you cannot do this because of your gender, ask them why. My boys played with Barbies, and no, they are not gay. My daughter was the first girl in Manitoba to join the Boy Scouts because she hated what the Girl Guides did. And my kids are very well adjusted, normal, kind, loving adults.

So what started out as a simple question grew into so much more.......and by the way, entries 1,2 and 4 were women writers. 





Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Celebrating Women Horror Writers: Do Women Write Horror Differently Than Men?

I have heard the comments growing up; women can't be professional race car drivers; women can't be professional chefs; women can't do comedy and women can't do horror. These comments usually came from men. And I often wondered what it was about these professions and gender that sealed the deal. No one could tell me or pin point the error, other than saying women weren't funny or couldn't cook professionally. I found it interesting that girls develop language earlier than boys, read easier and faster because of brain development, write quicker and neater for the same reason, so why could they not write horror? If they developed these skills at an early age and worked on them longer, why was horror the one thing they could not write? Do we not have the stomach for it? Do we not give enough detail? Too much emotion? Not enough sex or violence? Too subtle? Pretty it up too much? Add sparkles....oh, wait.

Then came crime. Women weren't sexual predators. Women weren't serial killers. Women weren't sadists. And again I pondered this mythos our society perpetuates about gender. I have known many female sexual predators that went after both male and female children. I have known women that tortured people, women that enjoyed inflicting pain, women that sought it out and women that led the chase.

Granted, they were fewer in number when it came to getting caught and in serial murders, but in sexual crimes the numbers were almost as high.

So what's the problem? As an impromptu question on Facebook, I asked, Do you read female authors? Why or why not? Most of the people had only positive things to say, and that gender did not factor in. Others pointed out that there were more male authors than females, which is correct. But some did say nope. Won't read them. And they pointed out things like females hold back and men are more disturbing. Others said women writers dissolve in to dark romance. I am not going to argue with these people because they are correct. I remember when paranormal meant anything vaguely paranormal related. Now, it is usually a term for paranormal romance writers (not all of whom are women, by the way).

But I do think there are some women that knock it out of the park; Chantal Noordeloos, Billie Sue Mosiman, Penelope Crowe, Suzi M, Allison Dickinson, Lisa Lane and there are many, many more.

Do women write horror differently than men? You be the judge. I am going to post six pieces.One of them is mine. What makes these pieces work? Not work? Which were written by the women? How can you tell?

ENTRY ONE

Sherryl felt a rush of impotent, bitter anger. She brushed a tear from the corner of her eye. A cramp tore through her. She drained her teacup and set it down on the table and drew her legs up on the couch, feeling it sinking and settling. “I'm so sorry, Noko,” she said. “I wish there was some way to fix it, to go back.” Noko shook her head. “So do I. They thought they were helping us. Kill the Indian in us, they said. They killed a lot more. My boy.” Sherryl raised her head to look at Noko over the side of the couch. The older woman's face was drawn, set in lines from years of pain. Shadows stretched her eyes into skull sockets. “Oh, Noko. What happened?” Noko took a deep breath and folded her hands in her lap, where they twisted like small animals burrowing. “I was gigishkaage,” she said. “Pregnant. How old were you?” Noko nodded. “Thirteen, maybe fourteen. We were supposed to be in school until sixteen, but a lot of us didn't last that long.” Sherryl had to stifle a sarcastic, inappropriate laugh, as if it was an understatement. She thought of another story, about a nun who had struck a child so hard the child's neck broke and the nun's instructions to the other children: step over the body and get back to class. “I was able to hide it most of the year,” Noko continued. “It was winter, late and cold and I couldn't hide it anymore. The people who ran the school, they were mean but not stupid.” “How did they find out?” Noko shrugged. “They saw it. Or maybe somebody told. Who knows? The matron, she beat me, but what was she going to do? I wouldn't tell her who the father was.” “What happened to the baby?” As far as she had ever known, her Uncle Ray was Noko's first born. Then her mother and her Aunt Bess. Noko looked at the moving pictures on the silent television. She stared for so long, Sherryl was about to give up and turn the sound back on, when Noko spoke again.

ENTRY TWO

It wasn't until the titanium blade caressed her flawless cheek that she shook and wept, silently screaming under the duct tape. I pressed a little harder and the blade bit into her skin causing a scarlet trail of blood in its wake. She screamed but the duct tape muffled it well. I set the knife down and saw a moment of relief in her. Can’t have that now can we? Relief is no fun. I picked up the pliers and put her fleshy earlobe between the vice of the pliers. I then squeezed as hard as I could, delighting in her wincing and repressed screams. I had some more fun with the pliers on other parts of her body. Paying particular attention to her fingers. What can I say? I enjoyed the sickening crunch of her cartilage being mangled by the steely jaws. Several times she passed out from the pain, every single time I grabbed the smelling salts and brought her to.

ENTRY THREE

For some reason he figured that must be his destination. Would getting there end the Hunt? Was there any end to the Hunt? There must be, for by the time he actually made it to the trailer he was in the Splatterhouse; walls dripping red blood, organs sticking to them as if they had been flung forcibly against them. Hands snatched at him, tried to trip him up, tried to grab his clothes and hair; disembodied extremities falling off the walls with fingers curling around his ankles. His progress was stunted by this, it felt worse than when he was being pursued by the masked chasers in the narrow tunnel bordered by canine fiends as he seemed to be getting nowhere. Every step he took shook the Splatterhouse walls and cascaded more blood down them, shook more mutilated flesh off them to fall upon him. A tangle of entrails dropped in ghastly ropes around his neck, an eyeball bounced off his cranium. Rolled along the plane of the floor, splashing into a puddle of congealing blood, staring at him. The masked Hunters came right through the walls. They ripped through them with their blades, sliced great holes and jagged rends in them as if they were actually composed of flesh, forcing their bodies through their created apertures, looking like mutated creatures in the midst of a gruesome birth.


ENTRY FOUR

Scarlet snarled and palmed her knife, holding the sharp blade just above Grandmother’s heart and plunged it deep with both hands. She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, a moan of satisfaction escaped from her lips. She pulled out the knife and the spear and then rolled the body over, kicking it with her foot.  She licked the blood from the blade. It was still slightly warm, salty.
A hunger overtook her, consumed her. An overwhelming sensation enveloped her mind, like a mist which wrapped its nebulous folds around her synapses and nerves compelling her to consume the flesh. ‘Eat’ it insisted.
Scarlet sank to her knees and whimpered, fighting the command, while at the same time her hands moved willingly along the body, tearing at the clothes and discarding them in a pile. The knife traced the  sagittal line on the body neatly dividing it into two halves. The skin parted and Scarlet help separate it from the bone, and the internal organs spilled from their casing. Blood, gore, muscle and fat oozed onto the floor. Intestines and stomach contents collapsed into a gelatinous puddle of offal. Scarlet plunged her hands and arms into the mess, feeling the warm innards wrap themselves around her skinny arms. She rubbed the organs over her face and body, trying to fight the impulse to bite into the organs, but her hands kept shoving the body pieces closer and closer to her mouth. Gagging, Scarlet’s hand reached for the heart and pulled it out of the chest cavity. She gripped the muscle and yanked it out of its home, ripping it free with a slurping sound. Blood ran down her arms. Sobbing, gagging and turning her head, her hand forced the heart to her mouth, her mouth opening wider and wider. The heart was warm and slightly heavy in her hands, a myriad of red and blue veins and arteries. Scarlet slowly sunk her teeth into the muscle, the blood squelching between her teeth. She ripped into the meat and tore it in half with her teeth. She chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed and ate the entire thing and fell asleep amongst the mess.


ENTRY FIVE

The voice is in Denny’s head; a lilting sing-song, scolding him for something. His eyes remain clenched; he’s afraid to open them, terrified, though he has no idea why. Something’s not right. A stench fills his nostrils, familiar, surrounding him…drenching him. “Bad, bad daddy.” Harsher this time, as though through gritted teeth, the voice clotted, congested. No, the voice is not in his head. He slowly peels his eyelids apart, looks around at the blurred bedroom from where he huddles in the corner. Like a scene viewed through a lens smeared with grease everything is distorted, runny. The only color he can make out is a deep, violent red. And this red is everywhere, in Rorschach splotches and splashes, in rivulets and puddles. Everywhere.

ENTRY SIX

“Nine months,” Susan said to her living room—her mourning room.  “Nine months, to-day.  And today’s the day, isn’t it?”
            No answer.  Why would there be?  She was alone, had been practically the entire time.
            No suprise.
            Her baby was coming.  And she knew, knew with knowledge and feeling, she wasn’t going to survive.  Nor did she deserve to.
            Little Susie Bruisey had messed around , yessiree.  Had messed around with a Tall, Dark and Handsome, and, as her mother would have said, had landed in the soup.
            Soup, hell, daddy would’ve added—you’re chin-deep in the chowder.
            She sat down on her couch, disgusted with the mess she had allowed to fester: pizza boxes, Chinese from Wong’s (“We Speak English/We Delivery” written on the side of their van), Stouffer’s by the ton (Lasagna Italiano, Macaroni and Cheese, Salisbury Steak, Meatloaf, shrimp scampi, and more), OJ cartons and bottles ... candy wrappers, and One A Day Women’s that she had taken by the triple (her baby was needy, and there’d been no OB/GYN prescribing prenatals), and that was just some of the food-stuffs.  There was also the piles of laundry, all dirty, full of filth and bile and crusted clumps of tissue and blood.  Way too much blood.  She hadn’t dealt with occasional spotting, no.  She had gushed, again and again, for months. 
Scary.
            The price to pay.  And the bleeding had seemed the least of it.
            Hair had gone, too.  First, she lost her perm.  Then her hair went flat, its life gone.  It turned gray, then corpse white.  A sunrise or two later, started staying on her pillow.  Ugly warning patches of witch’s-tress.  Next, was its washing down the drain, freaking her out as it inch-wormed down her shower’s walls and snaked its way past her feet toward oblivion.
            She did have some teeth left. 
That was nice.
            But then there was the arthritis, the insomnia, the back-pain (let alone her arms, hands, legs and feet).  Oh, sweet Susie, let’s not forget about the incontinence—her favorite.  Or the bonus round of eczema that fruited everywhere save her healthy, rosy-glow stomach.  No carny would dare guess her age, which could be anything from 90 to 175. 
She used to be so, so pretty. 
            Last month she’d turned 22.
            Had it been worth it?
            No.
            But almost, she thought.  Oh, yes, almost.  She’d bedded an angel.  How many could say that?  A beautiful angel—a son of God.
            “I thought there’d be wings.”
            “No, Susan Thorpe.  No wings.  Angels don’t have wings … only the Seraphim on the Ark of the Covenant.  The wings are symbolic.”
            “Oh.”
            His voice had been magick, a mesmerizing croon.  And though there’d been no wings—“... Angels don’t have wings.”—there’d been that glow, his glow, flashing up the bedroom in its mystifying black-light, more romantic than a single or a thousand perfectly placed candles, a radiant smolder of the divine that shrouded the room, and her heart, in a blazing puissant embrace.
            He’d enveloped her.  One thrust.  That was all.  One thrust as she lay back, legs splayed, knees impossibly high, sex beckoning—begging, pillow under her bottom ... and that one seed-driving thrust.  A single plunge enforced by gripping, manly hands.  Just one singular, stabbing pitch of power and ... then he stopped, freeze-framed, shivered, yelled and—
            —she’d yelled with him, an orgasmic bellow beyond knowing that simultaneously was also a keening wail, an exhalation of release so pleasurably-traumatic it would kill her, would have to.  Would indeed be the highest blessing for which she could ever hope—to die with his coming and hers, her body and soul’s. 
            Yet, she’d somehow lived through to gasp another breath … then another.
            Her angel had left.  But not that nirvanic peak.  Oh, no—that remained on hold, ready to explode any time she flipped the switch.
            Still would, if she willed it.
            Her angel’s parting dowry, the anesthesia that kept her going through all these long and horrifically short months, the ability to put herself back into that cumming moment.  A perfect drug on mental tap that she could draw down on demand, any time, in any mood, day or night—the perfect distraction while her body channeled all its resources for the baby.  Don’t like going bald?  Go have a ten-hour orgasm.  Don’t like puking up your left lung?  Go twitch and drool through the night.
 How jealous Amy Winehouse would’ve been. 
At least she hadn’t had to worry about anything else.  All his promises had been kept: the place to stay, the DVD player, the big TV, all the food and utilities taken care of, all the clothes she could want—a full-blown complete blank-check.  Her job?  Sit back, zone out.  Feed her baby: its food, its fluids, her life. 
She only had to get through nine months, before, like a good little girl, it would be time to quietly slip away.
That’s almost what she had done.
            Till six days ago, when she’d said enough’s enough.  No more.  Till six days ago when a moment’s realization came that she was damned, her baby destined for the same … twice-over, that Little Susie Bruisey was going to Hell and how that would break her daddy’s heart, her mother’s … how her baby becoming his, would break hers. 
She’d said no more, and started to pray again, like when she’d been a little girl, even an early teen, well before discovering boys and how much fun it was to twirl them ’round slim fingers.  Well before discovering the intoxication inherent in saying fuck-all to her parents’ stooped rules.  Before she’d learned to say no, but to them, not drugs.  Yes, before all that.  Back to when she’d known how to pray, with an honest and believing heart. 
She’d tapped into those memories and brought back those blessed ways.  Humbled herself and begged.  For herself, sure.  It was inevitable.  Pure survival instinct.  But really, in her heart of hearts, she had pleaded for her unborn—for him (and it would be a him) to have a chance at redemption, for something better than the life of blasphemy and murder his father had planned.
            And then there was today, her seventh day of sobriety.  Wonderful number seven.  It was a good number. 
It was her last. 
Tonight was, after all, the night. 
Her baby was coming. 
            She looked at the good-bye letter, enveloped and scented with Love’s Baby Soft, like she’d used as a girl to mark all her birthday, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day cards.  She’d even found enough strength to clean a spot on the disaster-strewn coffee table so it woudn’t get dirty.  Mommy and daddy were going to love it. 
            Colors had been one of her gifts.  She knew ’em all.  Collected them, too: pencils, pens, ink bottles and paints.  For her letter, there’d be nothing plain; a ball-point would’ve been an abomination.  She’d written her letter in calligraphy using a quill dipped in her favorite ink bottle: a small, circa 1950, cobalt-blue (her favorite color) glass affair, labeled, New Parker/Super Quick/Permanent Black/2 Fl. Oz.59cc/Made in USA. 
            The ink was a hell of a lot newer.  Still, Jane Austen would have been proud.
If she had any tears left, she’d let ’em fly. 
Her parents deserved so much better. 
Spilt milk. 
Gallons.  
            She thought of her words, spat out some of the room’s stink, and thought of her words—of their total inadequacy:

            Dearest Daddy and Mums,
Remember your little girl ... do you?  Falling out of that apple tree, Daddy?  Busting her lip in the swimming pool, Mommy?  Always getting hurt, always sorry and ready to do better?  Well, she’s back.  Loving God again, and back.  And so sorry.  So very, very sorry.  Understand?
            I’m sorry.
            I’ve been bad, and I’ve gotten hurt again.  But it’s for the last time.  I’ll never be bad again, because I’m back in His loving arms—for good.  Don’t worry, no more and never.  Don’t cry, either, at least not more thanna little.  You’ll see me again … here, there, or in the air—I promise.  I’ve found the Lord again, and I’m okay. 
            Again, If I could just take it all back, everything, for being gone for so long, for torturing you two.  But that’s all over, and this time, as hard as it is to believe, I’m telling the truth.  Or like when I was littles and waiting for my new uppers: I’m tellin’ the troof.
Thank you for everything, and know that you were right.  You were right about it all.
            Loves and Misses,
                        Your Susan
xxx/ooo 4-ever and evers

            In retrospect, she supposed there were too many sorries in the letter.  They made her sound like some kind of ’tard, but that was okay.  She wasn’t going to change a thing. 
            She sniffled.
KFC napkin in-hand, she wiped her tears.  Guess, I wasn’t out after all, she thought. 
Then her doorbell rang, the first time in all these months. 
Christ a’mighty, what now?
            She thought about getting up and waddling to the door, scrawny left hand in vain trying to support her back, and then she thought better.  Why go to all the trouble?  The door wasn’t locked—never had been.  Why should it be?  She was safe as safe could get.  She was going to have his baby, after all.  Nothing on Earth could touch her.
            “Come ON IN.”  Old instincts started to drive her hands for some last-second hair fixin’, but she quickly corrected herself.  What was the point?  “Door’s unlocked.”
            The front door opened and two men in white stuck their heads inside.  Susan almost gasped.  Next to her angel, the two were the most handsome men she’d ever seen, their eyes almost glowing, almost golden—almost.  “Can I help you?”
            One of the men, the brown-haired one that made Brad Pitt look like a hairy-ass, said, “The Agency sent us.  Somebody having a baby?”
            “You could say that.”
            The other man answered her rhetorical statement: “Super.  We’re here to help you through it.”  And then they came in, each one carrying one of those medical kits she’d seen EMTs use on TV. 
            “Now who sent you guys?”
            Brown hair again, “The Agency.  Can we get started?”
            “Uh ….”
            Then the other guy, face and form perfect, hair blonde as a sunbeam, “Yeah, the Agency.  Now, what we’re going to do is set up, clean this place, and give you all the help you asked for and more.”
            “All the h—”
            “Shh,” blondie hushed.  “Don’t worry about a thing.  You were heard.  Now drink this.”  He opened his kit and pulled out a bottle of water made by some company called “Living Springs” and handed it to her.  “It’ll make you feel better, I promise, and then we’ll get crackin’.”
            The other guy smiled.  “Trust him.  He never lies.”
            “Never-ever.”  Blondie grinned and got moving.
            She opened the bottle and drank, and immediately felt all her fears melt.  She stared into the brown-haired man’s eyes, and for a second, the briefest of flickering moments, they were golden … shiny, heart-melting golden orbs.  She blinked and then they were blue again, but shifting … from lightning bolt to Nordic to gentian … others, all the blues in the universe, the kind she could just fall in forever and 4-ever. 
“Thank you, my name’s Susie Bruisey.”
            “Not any more, Lady Susan,” the two answered together.  “Not anymore.”



Ok begin your guesses........six entries, which ones are which?



Saturday, 1 February 2014

Solstice List: The Best Horror Stories and Novels of 2013 Not to be Missed

Solstice List: The Best Horror Stories and Novels of 2013 Not to be Missed

December 21, 2013 at 10:11am
It's that time of year again where the culmination of all my reading is condensed to one small list of all the best horror I have read over the past twelve months. This year was very difficult. There were too many novels, not enough anthologies, a few true stories and too many great choices. Even as I write this, I still have no clear winner in each category.

Please check them out. These are very diverse stories and very, very talented writers. Some of them are seasoned; some brand new; some are old friends and others, I have just met.

This week my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away. He had not been sick and was to be here for Solstice. He was a voracious reader and often "borrowed" my books when he flew back home to Montreal. He and I read the same kinds of books and shared the love for similar authors. Last summer when he visited, I broke down and told him I was writing a story about him and I explained a bit about it. I would listen intently when he told his war stories about being a fighter pilot in Sweden and Canada, and then, went on to become a flight safety investigator and then, one of the world's leading authorities on flight accident investigation. I would sneak in and out of the room writing notes, copying phrases he had just spoken so I could use something, anything, in a story. An idea occurred to me last year and I started writing a piece about a pilot that flew around the world and brought home trophies. With a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face, he laughed and told me he thought it was wonderful. He knew I wrote horror and this would not end well. I loved him and thought of him as the father I never had.

I dedicate this list to him. He would appreciate a lot of these authors,as he gave me a my first book of Roald Dahl short horror stories.

BEST YOUNG ADULT

1. Hooked: A True Faerie Tale Michaelbrent Collings 
2. An Ill Wind Blows  Lori R. Lopez
3. Sapphire Bryan Alaspa

ANTHOLOGY AND COMPILATION

1. Zippered Flesh 2 Weldon Burge 
2. Sinister: Tales of Dread  Billie Sue Mosiman 
3. Limbus  Anne Petty
4. Dolly and Other Stories  Peter Dudar
5. Devil Let Me Go Nathan Robinson
6. Deeply Twisted Chantal Noordeloos
7. Death Quartet William Cook
8. Wrapped In Red Jennifer L. Greene
9. Satan's Toybox: Terrifying Teddies Stacey Turner
10. Kayla, Enchanted: Dark Fairy Tales with a Modern Twist  Christine Sutton

TRUE STORY
1.  A True Haunting  Edwin Becker 
2.  The Girl Next Door Jack Ketchum
3.  In the Footsteps of Dracula Stephen P. Unger
4.  These Things Happened Scott Nicholson

SHORT STORY

1.  Way of the Witch  Mark Parker

2.  Taut  Shaun Meeks
3.  Insulation Craig Saunders
4.  Interview With a Psycho Billie Sue Mosiman
5.  Devil Inside William Cook
6.  Candy Lady Neil Davies
7.  Yule Cat J.G. Faherty
8.  Strings Allison Dickinson
9.  Jugular Lori R. Lopez
10. The Demon's Tale Suzi M
11. Unleashed: Tale One Lori R. Lopez

NOVELLAS
1. Walls of Madness Craig Saunders
2. Angel of Death Peter Dudar
3. The 8th Matt Shaw
4. Failure John  Everson
5. Creep William Cook

SCREENPLAY

1. On Call: Brooklyn Hudson
NOVELS

1. The Missing Years of Thomas Pritchard Matt Shaw

2. Strangers Michaelbrent Collings
3. Darkbound Michaelbrent Collings
4. The Estate Craig Saunders
5. The Bloodline: Birth of the Vampir Shaun McGinnis and Rod Garcia
6. The Evolutionist Rena Mason
7. The Devil Stood Up Chris Dougherty
8. Starers Nathan Robinson
9. Love of the Dead Craig Saunders
10. Death Perception Lee Allen Howard
11. ASBO: A Novel of Terror Iain Rain Winters
12. Hard Winter Neil Davies
13. Disintegration Scott Nicholson
14. Devil's Nightmare Robert Pruneda
15. Nikki's Secret William Malmborg
16. The Burning Time J.G. Faherty


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Best Stories and Novels of the Year 2013
Best Stories and Novels of the Year 2013
Maj Sven Olof William Fritsch, CD, R.C.A.F. (Ret) Sept 25 1929 - Dec 15 2013