Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Day Time Slipped - Ronn E Taylor

In the second of my series of strange - but true - experiences, I am joined by Ronn E. Taylor, author of Evelyn Thayer:


It was June, 2001.  I was living in Detroit, Michigan, struggling with being a songwriter and hating the overall direction of my life and my job in retail.  It was during this time I began having a series of very vivid dreams.  Some so clear, I realized that they weren't meant to be told to anyone or even, understood by me at that time.  However, one in particular would prove to be very telling years later.  

It this one dream, I'm walking down a very beautiful street with wonderful homes lined up on each side.  The one thing I recalled the most was this feeling of peace and hope I was experiencing as I ventured down this unknown street.  There weren't any people or things that stood out, just these wonderful homes.  Inside this dream, I began to wonder if this was what heaven looked like?  But there wasn't any streets of gold or angelic beings floating about.  I tucked away this dream somewhere in the back of my logic as other dreams and the business of life,  would take front and center.  

Fast forward to July 2008.  I had come to a decision to pursue my once held dream of becoming a writer and begun writing what would become the first chapter of my first novel.  I was also in a very good place in my personal life.  In love with what I believed was the 'girl of my dreams' ( obviously, some dreams are mere delusions) and a job, although not great, but eh.  But what I enjoyed most, was my shabby, one bedroom apartment in the wonderful community of Farmington Hills, Michigan.  The place I now called, home.  I loved the beauty of the quaint community.  The small shops, the 'mom and pop' feel of the area.  

One day after finishing a 8 mile run on an extended part of a new route I had began to take.  I was walking through this community when suddenly, I was arrested by this weird sensation.  Not so much Deja Vu, but this sense that I was standing or walking in the past.  I was living inside a moment I first saw in a dream I had 7 years earlier.  I was down a street with beautiful homes on either side of the street, feeling a sense of peace and well being.  I had never ran in this area before, so I really didn't know anything about it until that day. I didn't even understand why I decided to take this route.   My first reaction was to totally dismiss it as 'coincidental'.  But as I had learned from previous dreams, nothing is truly, coincidence.  I think sometimes heaven understands that we all need moments to keep us on the path that will lead us to our destiny.  Sometimes all that is required is the trusted wisdom of a friend or in this case, pulling back the curtains to allow me to get a glimpse of better times ahead.  In any event, I'm grateful for it and will always cherish the blessing it has been in my life. 


 Evelyn Thayer is available as a standalone short story Here and you can find out more about Ronn E. Taylor on his Website



Touched by Darkness is available from:

Thank you, Ronn!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Miss Abigail's Room Revealed!


Miss Abigail's Room will be published by Etopia Press in all digital (ebook) formats in the next few weeks.

Scary, creepy and resonating with Gothic atmosphere, I can promise this is not a story to read on your own at night. Especially not if you live in a house with creaky floorboards...doors whose hinges need oiling...or anywhere near a doll.

Don't have nightmares...

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Stranger Than Fiction - Julia Kavan



There's something spooky about horror writers. We seem to attract weird and inexplicable experiences! My fellow contributors to the new Horror anthology, Touched by Darkness are no exception, and a number of them have agreed to share their strangest experiences with us. To start us off, I'll hand you over to Julia Kavan - author of Dreaming Not Sleeping:


I’ve had many spooky encounters during my life – one of them witnessed by Cat herself earlier in the year - http://www.catherinecavendish.com/2012/08/diavolino-arrives-at-waterstones.html. I’ve heard disembodied voices as a child, I’ve seen ghostly figures walking across the landing at home and we have a phantom cat (or two).



Late one winter’s night I walked up the High Street towards my house, and as I drew level with the house two doors down from mine, I saw the figure of a man walk through the gate and up the steps to my front door (illuminated by the streetlamp right outside), before carrying on up the side path of my house and into the shadows. There had been no one walking up the street ahead of me and I couldn’t say where he’d come from. He just appeared. Stupidly, (don’t try this at home) I followed in his footsteps, expecting to confront someone trying to access the back of the house. There was no one. There was nowhere he could have gone without making a lot of noise – we had a rusty side gate that needed oiling and squealed when opened, and it was impossible to climb over in the dark (don’t ask me how I know that J ). The gate was still shut so I opened it, accompanied by the usual racket from the old hinges, and did a very nervous check of the back garden. Nothing. The only way out was past me and back down the steps.


There had been several nights when I’d heard footsteps walking up the side path – the living room wall backed on to it – and although we had a small window looking out on the side garden in the cupboard under the stairs, I never dared to look through it... just in case someone looked back.

I kind of put it all down to my overactive, creepy imagination. Until the night a friend of mine rang the doorbell. It was late and dark. He told me he was just passing and had just seen a man walking up the steps to the front door before disappearing up the side path...
(He did check the place out for me – there was no one there)


As well as disappearing people, I’ve also had an entire building vanish – at least temporarily. There was a bookshop that I used to visit very regularly – almost weekly – where I would buy books on the paranormal and about magic... except for the day I walked down the hill and couldn’t find the shop anywhere. I walked up and down the hill several times. There was no bookshop. It was as if it had been plucked out of the street and the gap it would have left had sealed up. I gave up looking, deciding that it must have closed down, but puzzled as to why there wasn’t even an empty building. I even remarked to someone I knew who I met later in the day, that it was a shame the place had shut down as it had been there for years. They were as surprised as I.
The following week I walked down the hill to visit another shop....and saw the bookshop sign hanging in the place it always had. I carried on down the hill straight to the door and looked at the display of books they always had in the window. I went inside and bought the book I’d intended to buy and asked if they had been closed the previous week – the owner insisted they had been there as usual, but it had been a quiet day. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find it....


Dreaming Not Sleeping is available Here and you can find out more about Julia by visiting her website: Julia Kavan 

 
Touched by Darkness is available from:

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Blood Countess

Her real name was Erzsebet Bathory and she was born on August 7th 1560 - the daughter of  one of the most powerful noble families in Hungary. But she ended her life walled up in her bedchamber for a series of horrific and sadistic crimes for which she was never convicted.

So who was this woman? And what had she done that was so terrible, her own family incarcerated her?

More commonly known by the anglicised version of her name - Elizabeth - she was the product of generations of inbreeding and, following an unwise dalliance with a peasant, became pregnant by him. The resulting daughter was fostered and soon after, Elizabeth was married off to the son of a less distinguished family, Ferenc Nadasdy. It was hoped that marriage would settle her and, indeed, she does appear to have been a good wife to him - on the infrequent occasions he was present. But the sadistic tendencies for which she became infamous were already beginning to surface and, by all accounts, Ferenc seems to have been a willing accomplice. The Nadasdy family were known to be harsh and cruel masters and the latest members saw no reason to break with tradition. 

Ferenc Nadasdy
As mistress of the Nadasdy estates around Castle Sarvar in modern day north west Hungary, Elizabeth meted out cruel punishments to any servant who roused her displeasure. Some of her most trusted servants became her willing accomplices, dragging half-naked girls who had been mercilessly beaten and lashed by Elzabeth, out into the snow where they were left to freeze to death.

Elizabeth also took numerous lovers - both male and female - and when her husband  died in 1604, from an infected wound, his widow took herself off to her family's Castle Cachtice in an area of northern Hungary now lying in Slovakia.

Ruins of Castle Cachtice
Here, at some stage, possibly while beating a female servant, some of the girl's blood is alleged to have splashed onto the Countess. Elizabeth then noticed how her skin seemed softer and younger-looking where the blood had been and a terrible idea was born.

For the next five years, encouraged by her lover, the witch Anna Darvula, Elizabeth Bathory committed her worst alleged crimes. She was said to have killed 650, or even more, peasant girls and bathed in their blood to keep her youth. Even when so ill she couldn't leave her bed, she demanded a girl be brought to her whereupon she bit her and drank her blood. She also dabbled frequently in the dark arts with her lover and others. Her crimes went either undetected or ignored, her family's position and wealth offering her protection. But then she committed a grievous mistake and started picking on girls from noble families - maybe believing that, as she grew older, she needed what she perceived to be their purer blood. 


No longer could her perverted proclivities be tolerated. Anna Darvula had died but the rest of Elizabeth's accomplices were arrested, tried, and all but one executed, some being burned alive after having their fingers torn out with red hot pincers.

Elizabeth's family used all their power and influence to prevent a similar fate befalling her, but when she tried to escape, they decided enough was enough and imprisoned her in her bedchamber at Castle Cachtice with just small slits for ventilation and to enable food to be passed into her. There, three years later, in August 1614, she was found dead.

Now, all these centuries later, it is impossible to know the real extent of her crimes, or whether indeed she was truly evil or maniacally insane. But there is no doubt hundreds of girls 'disappeared' at her hands and for her own family to have taken such drastic action, she must have become a truly terrifying and dangerous woman. One who has now become known by a title other than the Blood Countess:

Elizabeth Bathory - Countess Dracula.







Monday, 17 September 2012

The Devil and Mr Emmett...


Just returned from an excellent weekend at Booqfest where an eclectic selection of writers gave readings, workshops and conducted book signings at various venues in Northampton.

Thoroughly enjoyed a Creative Writing Workshop conducted by Morgen Bailey whose energy leaves me exhausted. I'm sure for every twenty-four hours the rest of us have at our disposal, she has thirty-six. I don't know how she manages so much creative output!


The highlight for me though had to be Steve Emmett. On Sunday, he gave a riveting talk on Horror as a genre, how he became hooked on it and his early influences. He also gave his audience some food for thought on the perils of dabbling in the Black Art. I found this particularly fascinating as a writer of Paranormal Horror myself. As Steve himself put it, so many people are sceptical of anything beyond what they can see, hear, touch and prove. Yet if there really is nothing beyond the normal - i.e. paranormal - why would there be any harm in playing with ouija boards or indulging in one of the myriad forms of black magic? But the likes of Dennis Wheatley, Rollo Ahmed and the Roman Catholic Church come out vehemently against such practices. Hmm - I leave that one with you to  ponder on.
Rollo Ahmed

Steve ended his part of the proceedings with a reading from his dark and scary novel Diavolino, after which he conducted a book signing. What a great way to spend a Sunday!


Julia wards off the devil - er, I mean Steve

Horror writer,Julia Kavan, moderated and did an excellent job of keeping everything flowing smoothly while we, Steve's audience, fired question after question at him. I asked him about his next novel. My lips are sealed for now, but I can tell you, it's going to be great.

Just a brief word about the venue - 78 Derngate - a hidden gem which just happens to be the only house in England designed by one of my favourites - Charles Rennie Mackintosh - and which is, in my opinion, worth the trip to Northampton alone. I would never have known of it but for going along to hear one of my favourite Horror writers, but now you know, why not go along and give yourself a treat? The restaurant there is well worth a visit too!





 


Friday, 14 September 2012

Published Today! Touched By Darkness





Touched by Darkness
Twelve Tales of Evil, Inside and Out

Twelve tales of horror that delve into the shadows secreted within...and the darkness that stalks beyond.

“Trust” by Peter Giglio
“Attachment” by Dee Pratt
“Dreaming, Not Sleeping” by Julia Kavan
“Evelyn Thayer” by Ronn E Taylor
“In My Lady's Chamber” by Catherine Cavendish
“Masked” by Matthew Cherry
“Black Habits” by Elson Meehan
“Be Seeing You” by Keith Melton
“Stew” by Patrick Anderson Jr.
“Teaching Man” by Nell DuVall
“The Dead Hate the Living” by Thomas Gueli
“We Shadows Have Offended” by K.W. Taylor

 As you'll see, my ghost story - In My Lady's Chamber - is included in this wonderfully eclectic anthology of scary, chlling, creepy and frightening horror stories; proving once again just what a versatile genre Horror really is.

Touched by Darkness is available here:
  
 Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com 
Don't have nightmares...


As soon as Lydia sees Goose Green Farm, she knows something’s wrong. Why would John bring her to a derelict farmhouse miles from anywhere in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors? Refusing her pleas to go home, she can see that something is happening to him. As they enter the house, he seems possessed by a sinister presence that draws him to it and threatens his very existence. A terrified Lydia knows she will have to do whatever she can to rescue him from the clutches of a spirit who is hell-bent on revenge.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sharp Change - an Interview with Milly Taiden

Today, I am delighted to welcome an exciting new writer – Milly Taiden – author of the just published Paranormal/Werewolf Romance Sharp Change. This book is so hot it’s sizzling, so let’s find out more about the story and about the person who wrote it:

Welcome, Milly, it’s great to meet you and congratulations on Sharp Change. As we speak, it’s galloping up the Kindle charts. Can you tell us more about the story and the main characters?
Sharp Change is a Paranormal Romance. It centers around Sophia and Chase. Sophia is this witty, geeky scientist that has the hots for this alpha werewolf who happens to be her sister’s brother in law. Chase has been in lust with Sophia since he met her, but it has been hard for him to get her attention since she tends to run from him. She has this accident in her lab and all of a sudden her quiet desire for Chase can be hidden any longer. It makes for a fun story with some interesting twists.


I know you enjoy horror movies and read widely. What is it about werewolves that caused you to write about them, rather than, say, vampires?

Well…I LOVE werewolves. I like vampires too and have written them, not published yet, but I have a love for all paranormal. The thing about wolves is that I love the wildness about them, but they mate for life. I think it’s so romantic. Yes, I know I have issues. The moms are super protective of their pups and they are tight knit packs. Of course in MY brain, werewolves are these super sexy creatures that make women swoon and make us all want to take one for a mate LOL.

As a writer, who have been your major influences and in what ways do you think they have helped shape your writing?

When I was a kid I loved reading Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King and then as I got older I because a huge fan of James Patterson. I loved all of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal series. I mean LOVED it! But when I write, I like romance, so I think to how I’d like to see a story develop for me to enjoy. I also love reading romance, Mina Carter, Laurann Dohner, Cynthia Eden, Julie Garwood, etc. I have a diverse Kindle library and enjoy every second of each book. I think because I like romance, action, suspense, etc. I tend to put a little bit of each into my stories. I find I like to have a figure out who the bad guy is, some romance, action and adventure and I’m happy.

Which books are currently on your bedside table? Go on, you can tell us!

I have Perfect Mate by Mina Carter, Assassin Mine by Cynthia Sax, Howl for It by Cynthia Eden, Obsidian by Laurann Dohner and I’m trying to finish Hunted by Rebecca Zanetti.

You’re published by Etopia Press, as I am, what led you to them?

 My bff Mina Carter who is also published by Etopia. She spoke so wonderfully about everyone there and told me I would like being a part of such a great team. She was so right! I love it here and I am not going anywhere any time soon.


In your opinion, what are the ingredients that make up a winning story?

For me: A good story has to have an interesting story, characters we can relate to and an ending that will leave me satisfied. I hate reading a book that starts out great and end up putting it down thinking ‘that was awful’ it’s not cool for a reader to feel they wasted their time. I want to be captured, reeled in and want to continue reading until I reach the end and say OH No! it can’t be over! Or when  I reach the end I have a big smile saying that was awesome.

You were born in the Dominican Republic and have lived in a number of very different locations, how has this influenced your writing?

It helps me be able to write stories taking place in different locations. But being such an imaginative person, I find that as long as I can picture a place and can describe it well, I can write about any location without having to be there.

OK, fun question now and one I haven’t asked an author in quite some time. Imagine you are organising a dinner party and can invite 6 guests – real or imaginary, living or dead – who would you choose and why?

Oh wow! This is great and hard. I am about to have one super weird dinner party. I’d invite Niol (demon main character from Cynthia Eden’s Midnight Master) OMG I’m in love with him! Then I’d invite Johnny Ram (cyborg main character from Mina Carter’s Aries Revealed) Ral (main character from Laurann Dohner’s Zorn Warrior book Ral’s Woman) Thomas Harris and his character Hannibal Lecter. I’d bet he’d make awesome dinner conversation. And last but not least, Jeffrey Dahmer. I have this obsession with serial killers. I find them fascinating.

Wow! That's some scary dinner party! Finally, tell us about your future plans and projects and also where we can buy Sharp Change and where we can interact with you on the Internet.

Under Milly Taiden Fate’s Wish and Mate Event should be coming soon.

Under April Angel (my name to write Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense) you’ll see Mr. Buff and Stranded Temptation. There are others that have been contracted for both but won’t be seen until early 2013.

Anyone interested can buy Sharp Change at amazon.com

or at All Romance ebooks


That's lots of great reading to look forward to. Thank you for being my guest today, Milly. I wish you every success with the brilliant Sharp Change.

Thank you Cat for having me! It’s been a pleasure.





Wednesday, 5 September 2012

There's A Moth In The Kitchen And Other Terrifying Encounters

I have a phobia. Nothing unusual in that of course, but mine is a completely irrational fear of anything fluttering around me - especially if it happens to be in the house.

In the normal course of events, this boils down to a horror of moths and, when added to my equally irrational fear of insects, you can imagine what kind of meltdown occurs when I am confronted by something that not only wiggles its antennae at me but also has the audacity to flutter its wings and dance about insanely before crash landing on my shoulder.

This morning my Nemesis was lurking behind the cooker. There I was, minding my own business, cleaning away, when I spied something brown on the floor. Thinking it was maybe a stray piece of toast, I approached it with my brush. It moved. Of its own volition. Toast doesn't do that. I screamed.

At this point, I retreated to the far side of the kitchen, shivering and shaking. At that moment, my tortoiseshell cat, Mimi, ambled in and decided to investigate the, now static, creature on the floor. She sniffed it. It flew up. I then did my Janet Leigh impression. If the neighbours had been at home, they would have sworn Norman Bates was advancing towards me armed with a kitchen knife.
'Kill it, Mimi!' I yelled.

Now I used to have a tabby tomcat called Jennie (I know, female name. Long story). Jennie understood and took pity on me for my phobias, making it his life's work to keep all things crawly and fluttery away from me. All I had to do, when I spied anything nasty was say, 'Jennie. Kill' and off he'd pounce. Many's the time I have shut him in the hall with something terrifying and after a lot of banging and crashing, a muffled miaou would indicate that it was safe to open the door and in he'd trot, tail aloft, licking his lips. On investigation, only a spindly spider leg or stray moth wing would evidence the momentous battle that had been waged.
Mimi - so laid back, she is frequently horizontal
Mimi isn't like that. She has a different perspective. It's called DIY, as in, 'If you want that moth killed, do it yourself'. In response to my naked terror, she stared at me and then blinked her emerald eyes before licking her right front paw and sauntering off. Leaving me alone with the gigantic winged beast which by now had settled on the kitchen windowsill. I stood, frozen to the spot, hardly daring to breathe. The only window I could open was a small transom affair, far too close to the moth for me to approach. 

I waited.The creature didn't move.I made a run for it and escaped upstairs into my office, where I now sit, typing this up. I'm delaying the inevitable, of course. The monster can't get outside without my assistance, so I'll have to return. Just not yet.

I've always been like this. And I'm not alone. Years ago, I shared a flat with Cindy, a  friend of mine, in Bedford. Now Bedford is noted for the enormous dimensions of both its spiders and its moths. I have never seen such big ones. One, never-to-be-forgotten Friday night, she and I discovered a massive arachnid in the corner of our living room. She screamed and grabbed a long handled - very long handled - American broom and thrust it at me.

'I'll open the door and you sweep it out,' she said and, much against my better judgement I prepared to do as she suggested, but first I walloped it on the head.

'What did you do that for?' she asked, wide-eyed.

'I thought if I stunned it, there would be less chance of it escaping. They move really fast, you know.'

'I know,' she said, eyes blinking rapidly in her blanched face.

Whether due to being bashed on the head or not, the spider did seem a little dopey as I swept it out into the hall, along the tiled floor towards the front door. 

'I'll count to three, open the door and you sweep it out and down the steps so it doesn't find its way back,' Cindy said.

I nodded and kept my eye on the spider, bits of which were wriggling through the fibres of the broom.

'One-two-THREE!' In one swift movement, my friend yanked the door open and I swept the creature out onto the top step whereupon it became very angry indeed. It must have done. It's the only explanation for the furious way in which it spun around and attempted to re-enter the building. 

Cindy and I both screamed and then I started trying to bash the spider, but it kept on escaping.  It was dark and passersby gave us some very odd looks as again and again we attempted to repel the invader. Finally, with enormous courage, Cindy grabbed the broom off me and took a swing Tiger Woods would have been proud of. With tangible relief, we watched the spider launch into space, never to be seen again.Then we returned to the living room for a well-earned brandy.

I could tell you of many more scary encounters - such as the apocalyptic Invasion of the Crane Flies and the nerve-shredding Revenge of the Flying Ants. But the time has come. I have to go back down to The Kitchen. I can hear the music from Jaws playing in my head. A cold sweat has broken out on my palms and goosebumps are rising on my arms. The hairs on the back of my neck are twitching.

Deep breath. I'm going in...

Wish me luck.