I am way too excited about what happened recently to come up with a clever title for this blog post and for that I am sorry.

But I am so, so excited about this.

So, I was having a writing meeting with my wonderful author friend Karen, who’s blog you can find here, and is the author-in-charge of Villainous Vacations, an anthology of eleven crime short stories that I’m being published in. (SQUEE!) And while I was there, right in the middle of our meeting, the first shipment of the physical books arrives.

And yes, I’m still freaking out about it.

I’m still having some trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I’m being published in the first place, let alone when I’m staring at the book that is sitting on my coffee table.

And I’ve even got a picture to prove it:

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Writing and being published is something I’ve always wanted to do and there’s no way for me to properly express how amazing and strange and wonderful it feels to look at the front cover of a book and see my name instead of someone else’s. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this anthology and getting the chance to start proving myself as a writer.

Villainous Vacations, A Collection of Crime Stories

MYSTERY, MURDER AND MAYHEM: Why settle for one nefarious crime when you can have eleven?villainous vacations cover

If you like spine-chilling tales of felony, villainy and scandal, with shocking twists and thrilling turns, then you will love this new collection of edge-of-your-seat crime stories guaranteed to make you flinch.

You will not be able to put “Villainous Vacations” down. Or fall asleep after reading these gripping stories.

Re-connect with familiar authors and find new favorites in this delicious collection.

In my stories:

Last Christmas: At Christmas time, a young boy goes to investigate his brother’s murder and finds things are more sinister than he thought.

What Could Go Wrong?: It was meant to be a coven holiday, a get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, not a trial to prove not all witches are criminals.

Available Soon at your favorite retailer.

Do You Believe in Demons?

Kayden Claremont

Snarlolgy Halloween Blog Hop Yellow 2

Do you believe in Demons?

Demons are defined as a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin. An attendant power or spirit. A supernatural being of Greek mythology, intermediate between gods and men.

Not exactly job resume material so what is our fascination with them?

Dressing up for Halloween or All Hallow Even (All Saint’s Eve) has its origins in the pre-Christian times, thought to be a Celtic custom. People believed that spirits and demons from the underworld and ghosts of dead people could become living beings on the night of All Hallow Even. These demons and spirits could not only harm them but could take them back to the underworld.

If these people had to leave the safety of their homes that night they would dress up as these beings hoping to confuse them and therefore would get to their destination safely.

Now on All Saint’s Eve…

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My love affair with Candy.

Karen Blake-Hall

CANDY, CANDY, OH HOW I LOVE CANDY

Halloween candyWhen I was a kid, Halloween was my most favorite holiday. I loved to spend hours deciding on my costume, and then I had the fun of helping my mother make it.

Then the magic day arrived. I was so excited I couldn’t eat breakfast. At school we made Halloween pictures with black cats, pumpkins, and witches. We sang songs about the holiday. The excitement built until we exploded out the doors at the end of the day.

We had to eat supper so I chocked it down and then put on my costume. We ran from house to house chanting “Trick or Treat”, holding out our pillowcases, watching the treasures be dropped into our bags. Then we’d dash off to the next house, and chant again.

When my mother signaled time was up we would race home to sort the candy. We’d…

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Happy Halloween Thrills

lindamacdonaldcahill

Halloween Pumpkins Copyright: smeagorl / 123RF Stock Photo

Red leaves overhead, Halloween yellow and orange ones crunching under your feet. When we were kids we knew you could try any house with the light on but we preferred the pumpkins with their scary lit-up faces. It showed good intentions, we felt. No one approached the witch’s Victorian mansion complete with a widow’s walk high above the street. And no one went to the dismal bungalow hidden behind from the road by overgrown shrubbery. If you went in there, who would hear your screams? Anyway even the ordinary homes with lights on were maybe not safe. They might not take kindly to little spidermen in red and blue with gelled hair. Or to princesses in their pink dresses and home-made foil crowns.

But the potential dangers or prowling in the dark asking for candy gave our Halloween sorties a thrilling edge. In the…

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Hocus Pocus!

helenchristoforou

Once upon a time there was a young boy with a young sister who was lured into a Trap made by three evil witches. The leader of the three was the oldest sister and the leader. You see, they wanted this book which contained an eye right in the middle. A spellbook that was important to them and I’m guessing it’s because it contained spells, mighty powerful ones. The boy’s younger sister was lured by one of the powerful spells and ended up dying alongside her older brother had been turned into a black cat trying to save her. Many years later everything starts to happen again. Dejavu much?

The movie is wonderful and well done. A great Halloween movie to have your kids watch! Funny, scary, entertaining! It’s a movie for children but I’m 21 and I still make time to see the movie every year near Halloween.

Not…

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THE UNKNOWN

raylivingston

A few weekends ago, I had my first experience camping, and I’m not going to lie, I freaked out a little. Okay, maybe more than a little. But I think it was justified.

A small group of us went camping for a couple of days. Thankfully, only one night. We were really in the middle of nowhere. We had to do some serious off-roading to get to this remote location. We even had to break out the chain saw to cut through tree branches that fell on the road during a severe thunderstorm the night before.

As if everything wasn’t already set for the beginnings of a great horror movie, when we got to the campsite, it looked like we weren’t the only ones there. There was a beat up tarp used as a tent and there was garbage everywhere including open sardine cans in the fire pit. We actually…

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The Barghest and Beasts of England’s Shores

Canines and their relatives have long had their place in the folklore of the world; from the classic werewolf to the tanuki of Japanese myth and Celtic mythology is no different. In this case, mythological beasts tend to run in the circles of the faerie or the far beyond as ghosts.

Faerie dogs haunt the crossroads where the barriers between our mortal world and the realms of the faerie are the thinnest and most fragile. They’re said to be bright green and guard their doors quite fiercely. They say that the faerie dog will bark only twice in warning to trespassers; if you hear the their third bark then you’re doomed to die.

The Church Grim was made famous in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as an omen of death in the form of a giant black dog. The original myths of the Grim paint the creatures as a little more friendly; they’re guardian spirits tied to a particular church or graveyard who oversee the welfare of their lands and rather enjoy loudly ringing the church bells. The black dog is the most common form for them but they can take shape of several animals including a ram, horse, or raven.

Perhaps most monstrous of all the Celtic dogs is the Barghest, the legendary spectre that is said to haunt pathways and roads and preys upon those who travel alone. It can also take many forms, from a giant dog with fiery eyes and massive claws to a headless sorcerer who vanishes in a cloak of flames. Like the bean sidhe the Barghest can foretell the death of an important individual and like the traditional vampire cannot cross running water.

Sources: Faerie dog, Church Grim, Barghest

Robots and Artificial Life: Androids vs. Automatons

Now, I love artificial intelligence stories, especially ones where not all the robots are evil, soulless, villains bent on destroying humanity because we’re not ‘perfect’ or something like that.  Not that those aren’t fun of course, but I think the most successful stories like that, at least for me, is when thought the villain may be a computer one of the heroes is as well.  Like Tron and IRobot, or most recently Almost Human and Extant.  Okay, so I’m a big fan of one of the main characters not being human.

I was never a big fan of science fiction growing up, I liked fantasy far more, and my interest in it is more recent.  And I think that when most people, myself included, think about artificial life science fiction comes to mind.  That makes sense, robots tend to be an extension of computer technology which is something we have within the realm of our world that we can understand and interact with without any magical or supernatural influence, the hallmark of sci-fi.  I like the words robot and android, to me they’re specifically sci-fi in nature; an artificial person created through the use of science and technology.  To me ‘android’ suggests some element of ‘looks very human and perhaps can be passed off as a human’ while ‘robot’ tends to be a little less specified.

But there are other words, aren’t there?  Automaton, homunculus, golem.  Now, these are fantasy words.  Automaton makes me think of Ancient Greek myth, great guards created of bronze or copper to protect treasures, sometimes created by the gods themselves.  A homunculus is a person created through alchemy (which is one of those gray area sci-fi or fantasy because yes alchemy is technically a science that was studied similar to chemistry but whenever it’s used in fiction it tends to be a branch of magic).  And a golem is a creature made of stone or clay or metal animated specifically through magic.

Of course, there’s nothing saying one cannot mix concepts or genres in their writing.  I’m planning something with clockwork automatons, steam punk sci-fi influence, in Medieval France, needing some element of magic to it.  Your world, and your characters, are what you make of them; the rules are yours to create.

Bardic Storytelling

So, I haven’t been feeling very well lately, I hurt my head a little while ago and helping to babysit a cat has put my allergies into red alert. So I’ve been having some difficulty concentrating for long periods of time and it’s making it difficult to read. And, like any writer, I love books and feel very frustrated that I cannot spend some of my free time buried in a novel (especially since I’m borrowing a fantastic book from a friend and have now kept it far longer than the socially acceptable time period for borrowing a book, I’m so sorry…).
What’s the solution to this? Audiobooks and Podcasts.
In my last year of university I realised that my local library offers a ebook and audiobook online library that rents books for two weeks at a time. So I’ve now listened to Jane Eyre and The Maze Runner, both of which I would recommend for very different reasons. Now, I love reading out loud and listening to people tell me stories, I’m a big fan of hearing stories performed and find audiobooks great.
I’m also listening to two regular podcasts, Druidcast and Welcome to Night Vale. Both are free to listen to online and are updated regularly. Druidcast is a talk show like podcast, featuring interviews with artists and musicians, lots of Celtic music, and current events in the Druid community. Night Vale, on the other hand, is a radio show of a fictitious desert town where all sorts of supernatural events occur on a regular basis. If anyone is interested in listening you can find all the episodes of Druidcast here and Welcome to Night Vale here.