This month, I finally achieved something I'd been wanting to do for the past two years. I self-published my first collection of short dark suspense stories on Amazon, both for Kindle and the upcoming print edition. Malice and Mayhem: Tales of the Macabre are eleven stories, five previously published, that deal with how strong emotions like jealousy, obsession, and vengeance can often have detrimental, even deadly consequences.
I noticed that many of my characters, both in my short stories and in my longer works, are often seeking vengeance or are obsessed with wanting something, no matter how dangerous it might be. In "Obsession," Corinne cannot get over the fact her dead ex-boyfriend had a girlfriend before her, and she's determined to use necromancy to find out who he loved more. In "Family Tradition," a cursed kris (wavy dagger) forces a young man to commit murder, and he finds getting rid of the weapon is a lot harder than he expected.
These stories are influenced by the dark suspense shows of my past, namely Thriller, Night Gallery, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The idea is not to slather the stories in gore for the sake of scaring readers, but to leave them feeling uneasy. (Although there are some graphic descriptions, the overall rating for the book would probably be 14 and up.)
You can find out more about Malice and Mayhem and read the entire first short story, "It's in Your Blood" by clicking here.
Sometimes, there's truth to the warning, "Be careful what you wish for..."
The empty word document dared me, goaded me, sneered at me. Especially that little blinking cursor. You’d think that a ‘write whatever you want for a guest post’ invitation would be easy, but that little cursor was berating me with every flicker, I just knew it.
“I cannot fathom why this is still a problem for you,” a dry, slightly accented voice observed. Fabulous. Just what I needed.
“I’m still not talking to you.”
The small, blue-green songbird with the adorable feathered topknot lighted on the couch arm beside me. “I apologized for imposing on your convention—”
“You did not!”
He shrugged his wings. “I meant to, more or less.”
“You used my toiletries…my toothbrush…my loofah!” I growled, unable to look at him. There were just some things an author had no business sharing with her muse and I drew the line at my deodorant.
Clyde, better known as one of the characters from my book, had somehow cheated fictional boundaries, made it into the real world, and declared himself my muse…as well as my roommate and PR manager for Imaginarium. I was still recovering from the experience.
“I needed to be presentable,” he retorted.
“Uh-huh. And what about how you screwed with my GPS on the way home? No one needs to drive by that many liquor stores and ice cream shops—”
“You would not let me drive!” he complained.
Now there was an adventure that I didn’t even want to contemplate. “Besides, for all your supposed help, you spent a lot of time in the hotel room watching television. For being one of those magical talking animal guardians, you aren’t helpful at all.”
He gave me a pitying look. “Milady bard, you should know by now that I am not that kind of talking animal guardian.” Clyde whistled innocently, his grey-green eyes showing complete innocence and lack of remorse. He was good, I’ll give him that.
“Fine, make it up to me by helping me figure out what to write about. And it cannot be about you – you are not the only thing in this book,” I snapped.
The pseudo-bird paced across the couch arm with his little legs, then plopped himself down on my shoulder, wiggling his toes in my peripheral vision. “You have talked at length about different topics…mayhaps ‘tis time for a different approach.”
I glanced over at him, grimacing at the odor of red wine coming off his beak tried to not get his toenails stuck up my nose. “Meaning?”
“Allow me to interview you.”
I blinked at him. He blinked back. “That…actually isn’t a bad idea,” I admitted. He gave me his “Of course it’s not you foolish mortal” look and cleared his throat. Yeah, no matter how many times I heard that or how deep and gravelly his voice was, that was still obnoxious.
He retreated into thought, head tilted and his little purple tongue working its way out. “Well then. It occurs to me that you have a decent knowledge of folk and fairy tales, to the point where you brought together aspects from many obscure stories into something melded with what you humans think of as more modern fantasy. You even delve into bits of the horrific stylings of him who you dub the ‘Crafter of Love’—“
“For God’s sake, Clyde! Lovecraft. H.P. Lovecraft. That is NOT the same thing as Crafter of Love.”
“Are you sure?”
My head was starting to throb, something that seemed to happen during every Clyde visit. “Uh, very much so. And yeah, I blended his type of otherworldly mythos with some Faerie basics….” I frowned, trying to find the question in his soliloquy. “What were you asking again?”
He fluttered his tail feathers and gave me a condescending look down his beak. “Well, you write cross-genre fiction for this book, do you not?”
I frowned. There was something definitely off about his interview style. “Uh…yes?”
“Splendid! See, this is not as difficult as you would think,” Clyde preened. “Now then, you made the decision to make much of your cast nonhuman, yet you go out of your way to not have their characterizations be gimmicky, and make sure to paint them in such a way that your audience empathizes with them. They have similar hopes and frustrations as many of your readers, and that way your audience will plunge even deeper into this world that you have created, is that not correct?”
I could feel my eyebrows creeping higher on my forehead as the ache pulsed behind my eyes. Although his magic powers had been restrained, he was almost easier to deal with when they accidentally leaked out. “That’s right…”
The little bird hopped up and down, tittering in excitement. “Good girl,” he cooed, and the only reason I didn’t smack him with a pillow was because I’d learned from experience that he had exceptional reflexes. And wings. He cuddled up against my neck, tapping his toes in thought. “Now then, you distinguish yourself from much of your mortal realm’s fantasy writings by allowing the expanse of Kingdom City to modernize. Your creatures have modern conveniences, though they are put through a…what do you call it…a fairy tale filter?”
“Yep,” I drawled from behind the paperback I’d picked up.
He went on, throwing his wings about like an orator. “And you make great use of popular culture so that your readers will identify with the realm of Kingdom City—”
“And also take pains to make your folklore elements part of Kingdom City’s history, and have your characters consider magic to be tales of old wives…”
He ignored me, shivering in excitement as he continued, obviously on a roll. “You even merge aspects of Crones into modern hospitals—”
“And concepts of conventions and movie franchises and—”
“Hey, C-dog!” I had to admit, it was amusing when his feathers puffed up when he got irritated.
“You will not address me in that tone, mortal.”
“My apologies, Oh Olde One who in his infinite wisdom yet finite magic seeks to come to my aid,” I shot back. “What are you trying to do?”
“I do not fathom what you are asking.”
I rolled my eyes. “You get that this isn’t how you do an interview, right?”
Clyde was busy smoothing a ruffled feather on his chest. “Come again?”
“You’re answering all the questions for me as you ask them!”
A guilty flush lit his cheeks and he shrugged. “I suppose I get carried away from time to time, though think of it as reputation control,” he suggested. “You do tend to run your mouth about weird things, and you tend not to mention me as much as you could.”
Yep, that headache was getting stronger. I fought the curse and settled for a sigh. “Anything else you feel like asking, Clyde?”
He stared up at me with those fathomless eyes and tilted his head. His topknot slid with the movement and for a moment I could forget about his blasted ego.
“When are you going to discuss your infatuation with me?”
And the moment was gone.
“Excuse me?” I tried not to let my temper flare, but blast it, the stupid bird got under my skin.
“Well you did proclaim your allegiance to me on that thirteenth of Friday...”
“Because you zapped me to Kingdom City with your weird magic and got me locked into a dungeon!” I hissed, looming over him.
The little jerk was completely unperturbed. “I did hear you were looking everywhere for me all throughout that misadventure…”
“Because I wanted to go back home!”
“And you did let me stay in your hotel room at the convention of Imaginarium. I had minions that took fifty years to get to that point.” How something so cute and harmless could be so freakin’ vile, I had no idea.
“Listen, you! I don’t know what twisted thoughts are in that little feathery head of yours, but…”I trailed off when I finally noticed the shaking of Clyde’s little shoulders. “You idjit…” I growled.
“I am sorry, milady, but ‘tis a bit hilarious that you would take that seriously,” he laughed, rolling onto his back, claws kicking in the air. “After all, as an Olde One I could devour far more delectable souls, have far finer minions than you—”
As I figured, he dodged my hand pretty well. “I only mean that you are suitable for my bard!” he quickly corrected, wiping tears from his eyes with the tip of a wing. “After all, I thought you preferred a professional relationship?”
“Of course I do!” I snapped, and the fact that I was having this conversation with a fictional character of mine didn’t escape me. Maybe I needed a vacation.
“Think of it this way, milady,” Clyde chuckled, bowing low. “At least it got you writing.” With a throaty laugh he took to the air and disappeared in a flash of light and sound. Eh, that was true, he had jump-started my thought processes…though he was still a great big jerk.
Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.
Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.
Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man,Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield. Olde School is the first book in her new series, TheKingdom City Chronicles, and is publishedthrough Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
Faith must find a way to survive the evil and darkness.
spur of the moment vacation, meant to free her and boost her spirits, has left
her lost on the streets of Paris. And apparently, Paris is populated with
something more than just humans. Vampires, suave, seductive and oh so sexy, and
one such warrior vampire has set his sights on her.
hears Faith’s terrified screams, he rushes in and saves her life without
considering the consequences. Two problems: one, she’s a human and clearly
aware of his vampire qualities, and two, the men who attacked her were not men
at all, but demons. Their target, his beloved underground city of Balinese. He
can never let Faith go home again, but can she learn to love his people...love
looked up at the silhouette of a man curled over her, his head barely blocking
the raindrops pelting her face. She was moving, her feet were not, and the city
was sideways. The foreign world passed by her, the images coming slowly, as if
she were seeing everything through someone else’s eyes.
was numb, her muscles from cold, her mind from shock. Her memories seemed
intact, scrambled and hazy, but intact. She remembered being afraid of flying
on the airplane, and the taste of the ginger gum that kept her nausea at bay.
She’d been lost in the rain on the way back to her hotel. Then two men had
trapped her in an alley.
shoulders and ribs shuddered with chills powerful enough to make her teeth
She fought through it, lifted her
head and looked down at her hands.
purse.” The words didn’t come out right. Her jaw refused to open, and her lips
had difficulty forming the simple words. She tried again. “Took my purse.”
have it. You need to be warm and dry right now,” the man said, keeping up his
pace, never once looking at her. By the sheer confidence in his husky tones,
without a doubt, this was the man who had saved her. That intense look on his
face was nearly the same as when he’d pulled the muggers off her, driven them
into the wall. It was oddly comforting, at the moment.
buildings, probably homes, surrounded her, swaying in her field of vision as he
strode along. Light peeked through several arched windows, yellow and warm.
entered one of the larger buildings as if he owned it and carried her past
several numbered doors to the end of the hallway, where he started down a
creaking set of stairs. Suddenly she feared falling down those stairs, but her
shuddering muscles wouldn’t allow her to hold on tighter. She closed her eyes
and trusted him not to drop her.
the last step had been left behind, she took a deep breath, opened her eyes,
and almost wished she hadn’t. The basement hallway was musty, and each bare
light bulb they passed only revealed cracks chasing each other across the
stopped, pressed her against a green door as he fished for the doorknob with
the hand supporting her legs.
me down,” she said, trying to help, and fully expecting him to drop her to her
fought with the knob until it finally gave and carried her inside, then kicked
the door shut behind him.
Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against
reading assignments throughout her school years. Now she prefers reading books
in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series The
Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though
truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with
her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.
This weekend, writers, screenwriters, and publishers will descend on Louisville, KY for Imaginarium, a multi-genre writing con. Thanks to Stephen Zimmer and Susan H. Roddey for putting together an impressive lineup. From panels and workshops on the craft of writing to publishing and marketing, this con is for the novice writer as well as the more advanced.
Besides sharing a table in the vendor hall with Amy McCorkle and Missy Goodman, I'll also be on five panels:
Friday 7PM Adaptation (Moderating)
Saturday 11 AM Plotters and Pantsters
Saturday 12 PM PNR vs. UF
Saturday 2 PM LGBT Themes in Fiction
Sunday 9 AM The Newsletter (Moderating)
So if you're in the Louisville area and need inspiration or just want to hang around a bunch of awesome writerly types, consider coming on down. It's $55 for all three days or $25 for a day pass.
Blurb: Writer Liv Corrigan has the worst luck with men -- her telepathy tends
to make them run for the hills. When she meets widower and ex-cop Jack Roarke,
she decides to keep her talent hidden. Things are looking up until their third
date crashes and burns as the man who murdered Jack’s wife turns out to be
after him too.
Injured, Jack retreats with Liv to his house under armed guard. But with Liv’s
mysteries rapidly coming unraveled, a diamond-thief killer to stop and passion
in the air, the safe house is anything but safe for their hearts!
To Take Up The Sword
Elemental Magic #2
diamonds and a killer on the loose…will a schoolteacher and FBI agent escape
with their lives and hearts intact?
After the acquittal of Gueraldi's right hand and favored killer for hire,
Ashton Smythe, Special Agent Gabriel Spiller takes time away from his work with
the FBI. Having failed in his mission to avenge his lost would be lover, Serena
Roarke, Gabe returns to Alabama in search of the missing diamonds needed to
reopen the investigation and to lay low from the death threats he's received
since Smythe went free.
Almost two years after her sister's death, Leannan O'Neal feels the loss of
Serena more now than ever. A secret meeting between them before she died left
Lea with an ugly figurine and nothing but questions. Hang-up calls at work and
a trashed house reminds her of the card Serena gave her. "If you find
yourself in trouble, go to him and only him" were the last words her
sister spoke to her.
With Smthye out for revenge and hot on her heels, Lea goes on the run in search
of Serena's 'Angel', but how long can Gabe keep her alive, and is the cost
worth more than her life?
for the Wind
Elemental Magic #3
Kate O'Connell grew up loved by the Corrigan family, all the while
suffering from the inescapable reality of her own alcoholic father. At a young
age she gave her heart and innocence to Ryan Corrigan. For once happiness
seemed within her reach, until in one horror-filled night, the monster she
called 'Daddy' changed everything.
Too many misunderstandings forced Kate and Ryan apart, but now Kate's come home
to open her clinic and raise her daughter, Allaina, closer to his family. Will
she be able to open Ryan's heart to his magic?
Ryan is glad to be back on Irish soil, but the reason he left still haunts him.
As he tries to build a new life and redeem his past, can he forgive Kate and
reclaim his healing gift in time to save his sister and her twins?
Elemental Magic #4
Love can come along at the most inconvenient times...
Skye Corrigan treasures family above all else.
Standing by his best friend Rhia while she suffers the heartache of losing her
father to cancer has strengthened their childhood bond. Lately Rhia affects him
in ways she never has before.
Rhiannon O'Malley shares Skye's past and hopes
for a future with him, but love must come with a willing heart. Her father's
terminal illness has left her in charge of the family pub. Skye has always been
there for her, but when their relationship changes, will she find the courage
to claim the future? Or will a thousand-year-old curse keep its grip on two
Elemental Magic #5 (series end)
power, or endless love?
Born the son of a Scottish laird a thousand years ago, but now trapped by his
cousin's spell, Devin McLoch has seen countless battles and death. The
erstwhile thief has turned away from darker pursuits to lead a life of peace, protecting
those he loves and considers part of his clan.
However, there is one woman he can never forget, who must be given a chance to
change, to accept her heart and his.
Arianne Farrell is just as dangerous and intoxicating as her power. Imprisoned
in an ancient stone dance more than a thousand years ago, her only chance at
freedom from the spell is through love—a love she denied. When Devin asks for
her aid to save another from imminent death, she realizes there is more at
stake than just her freedom or her heart.
Excerpt from Fire’s Ice: Elemental Magic Book Five
Devin’s power ripple on the wind, buffeting against hers as he crossed the
threshold of the standing stones. He didn’t bother with the ceremony of asking
permission to cross the circle. His eyes skimmed over her, heating her skin
with just his gaze.
“You came.” Oh,
how she wanted to run into his arms and cling to him. Why was he just standing
He frowned and
crossed his arms over a wide muscled chest hidden in a black shirt. “I need
your help, Ari.”
There was a sense
of urgency in his step and desperation in his voice when he spoke. He hadn’t
come for her.Nothing he could have said would have surprised her more. “I beg
“I don’t have
time for games, Ari. I need your help.”
“The child is
ill? Allaina told me.”
“She visits me.
I’ve been teaching her about healing herbs.”
“I see. That
makes things easier. Do you know what a phoenix is?”
“I am looking at
one. An extraordinarily powerful witch with fire magic. I may not be as skilled
as my sister was, but I know a great many things Brie never took the time to
learn about lore and truth in myth.”
“Raine Roarke is
a phoenix. She’s three and her powers are emerging early. Allie and I can’t
bind them any longer and she’s too young to control them on her own.”
“Allie said as
much.” Her heart jerked hard in her chest. Her niece, Sorca, had been only half
that age when she had last seen her. Regardless of the hate she felt for her
sister, she hadn’t been able to scorn the child, and loved her dearly. “The
fevers have started?”
She saw the grief
in his eyes, the ache he felt for the child and her parents. How could she turn
him down? Perhaps the truth would be kinder than a lie that wouldn’t come true.
“The child will die, then. What can I do that you cannot?”
“You can drain her
excess magic. Link with her as you did to steal Briella’s powers.”
“I had reasons
for what I did. And you would be the resident expert on the subject of
thievery.” She bristled.
“I’m not trying
to judge you. My past isn’t the issue here and neither is yours. Would it
“I suppose, but
it would be a temporary solution at best.”
“And more than
anyone else can do to help her right now.”
forgetting one vital truth. I cannot leave the circle. My sister’s beloved
demon saw to that. I would have to go to the child. And even then, the link
might not save her and could kill both of us.”
“Agree to help
Raine and I will free you from your prison.”
“And then what?
Send me back here after a taste of what I’ve lost?”
“No. That would
be beyond cruel. I think you’d find Scotland much more pleasant.”
“I want you to
stay with me at Glen McLoch, Ari. I want you with me. There is a circle
scorched in fire and blood surrounding the castle. As long as you are within
that line, you’ll be free to do as you please if your actions don’t harm
“So I’d merely
exchange one prison for another, then.”
way is found.”
“I turned down
your offer once.”
“I would give
everything I have, do whatever in my power to save that child, Ari. Understand?
Whatever you want, it is yours. Anything.”
“I mean them. I
don't give my word lightly.”
fear me because of the legend. They might turn you away if you show up with me
on their doorstep. “She turned her back on him, crossed her arms to stave off a
shiver. She was afraid. Afraid of how they would treat her. And how would she
be able to give him up when it was time for her to return? There would be no
happily-ever-afters for her.
rested lightly on her bare shoulders. Rough,
not smooth or pampered. “No one will harm you, Ari. I protect what is
Turning under his
hands, Ari touched his cheek and looked deep into those tawny eyes. Searching
them for the answer, she asked, “And am I yours, then?”
“You’ve always been mine"
Buy Links (All books permanently priced at .99.)
About the Author: Brynna Curry was born south of the
Mason-Dixon Line. After living all over the southern states, she finally landed
in North Alabama where she lives with her husband and their three children.
Growing up, books fueled her dreams and imagination, ultimately becoming her
salvation during the hardest times in her life.Writing is her passion, but she
enjoys the fun of sharing those stories with others by reviewing books and
working in publicity.
When she isn’t writing or promoting, she’s often
found haunting the library for new books to read or just spending an quiet
evening at home with Jackie watching old westerns on TV. Although her wizards,
shifters and vampires are as real to her as anyone, she insists love is the
truest magic and with it every day is another wonderful adventure.
Hi everyone! I was invited to
participate in this blog hop by Sharon Struth. You can read her post here: http://wp.me/p1kyEn-fq
a bit of info about Sharon Struth:
Struth is an award-winning author who believes it’s never too late for a second
chance in love or life. When she’s not writing, she and her husband happily sip
their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail. Sharon writes
from the small town of Bethel, Connecticut, the friendliest place she’s ever
lived. For more information, including where to find her other novels and
published essays, please visit her at www.sharonstruth.com
Thanks, Sharon, for the invitation!
Now, I’m supposed to choose one
character from a work-in-progress or a recently published book and answer seven
easy questions. Here goes!
is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Zaphkiel, an archangel.
and where is the story set?
Louisville, KY – present day.
should we know about him/her?
Former leader of the angelic hierarchy of Thrones.
Left his position after his lover, Caliel, was supposedly executed by the
Role is as a celestial law enforcement officer, later a fallen angel.
is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
In a fit of rage, Zaphkiel kills an occultist who
had murdered a woman and was summoning a demon. Unfortunately, killing the
occultist was the catalyst that allowed the demon entry into the human world.
Because he committed such a heinous crime, and violated celestial law, his
boss, Ophaniel, wants him returned and executed for his crime, but being under
Lucifer’s protection interferes with Ophaniel’s plans.
What is the personal goal of the
stop the demon Sorath and also to protect Caliel, his lover, who is incarnated
as a young man, Sean. Zaphkiel knows if he returns to Ophaniel, he will be
executed by Seraphic fire. Because he summoned Sorath, however inadvertently,
he is also responsible for destroying the demon.
there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?
Exterminating Angel. You can view the trailer and Pinterest board
If published, add buy links and
other author info here.