Into the Woods, a fantasy anthology

Check out this post by my good friend and colleague, Connie J Jasperson, who tells you all about the new fantasy anthology being launched by some of the authors at Myrddin Publishing.

Life in the Realm of Fantasy

MyrddinAnthologyECoverWe at Myrddin Publishing Group are starting the new year with the launch of our anthology,Into the Woods. We’re even having an all-weekend-long Facebook party, with Myrddin Authors dropping in and out over the course of the next few days. There will be gifts, and prizes and just fun and games with the Myrddin crew. The online Facebook Party starts here, so stop on by and and hang out with us!

This collection of amazing tales came about almost by accident.

One day last summer I was looking through stock images I’d found for a cover I was designing for another author. I came across a wonderful image of a lonely house set in the woods. I’m not sure why, but suddenly, like the proverbial dog after a squirrel, I was off looking at images of houses in the woods–like that was going to get any work…

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Darker Places by Shaun Allan

Every now and then you have the privilege of coming across an author whose writing style it so different yet imaginative that it makes your toes curl. One such author is Shaun Allan.

I read his book Sin and absolutely loved it. It wasn’t the sort of book I’d normally read, but I’d heard so many great things about it, I became curious and picked myself up a copy. I’ve been a huge fan of his work ever since. I’ve also met Shaun and he is genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. He also likes my bacon sandwiches, a point which raises him in my estimation!

Today, Shaun launches his latest offering, Darker Places, a collection of thirteen stories and thirteen poems in the horror genre. I’m honoured to be able to reveal the cover here today. Look at this beauty and tell me what it says to you…

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And here’s the blurb:

What if you could steal the final moments from the dying? What if you had the darkest secret, but couldn’t think what it might be? What if you entered the forest in the deep of the night. Who is the melting man? And are your neighbours really whom they appear to be?

So many questions.

To find the answers, you must enter a darker place. Thirteen stories. Thirteen poems. Thirteen more doorways.

Well, if that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will! If it already has, here’s the buy link: Amazon UK and Amazon US

I’ve already got a copy of this book and can’t wait to read it. You can be sure that as soon as I have, there’ll be a review on here for you!

Shaun Allan

Shaun Allan

A writer of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into Sin’s point of view and sense of humour although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

Deities Rule, Okay?

Yesterday we had one or two technical difficulties – the gods weren’t on our side so hence no post.

However, today they are playing nicely so I’m able to bring you two day’s worth of awesomeness instead of just one.

First up we have the lovely Sherry Fundin, who has an exciting excerpt for you. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a deity! Click here to read more.

Last evening, I was on Writer-Chat with the charming Gerald Hornsby. The last time he interviewed me, my webcam decided not to work so every time I spoke there was a black screen. Luckily that didn’t happen this time! Gerald and I discuss Heart Search: Betrayal, my latest work in progress, and editing. You can catch the entire interview here.

 

Today, my dear friend and fellow author at Myrddin Publishing, Connie J Jasperson pulled out a chair, plonked me in it, and grilled me for a time while tipping tea down my neck at fairly regular intervals. I’m only joking – she was the perfect hostess! Catch the interview here. On a more serious note, Connie is definitely an author to watch out for if you love fantasy – she writes some amazing stories and I love her work (and I’m not just saying that because I’m her main editor)!

Last, but by no means least, another awesome author and friend from Myrddin Publishing, Shaun Allan, has an excerpt where Remy gets let off the hook. But from what? You’ll have to read it to find out! Click here and join me in the asylum once again.

Catch you tomorrow!

 

#AprilPrompts Day 4 – Sin

This little word conjures all sorts of images and sayings, and in the literary world it has been extensively explored. From Milton’s Paradise Lost to Shaun Allan’s Sin and everything in between, the concept of sin has taken many forms. Today I’ve put my own little twist on it.

Sin

Day 4 - Sin

Day 4 – Sin

“Every word you speak is a sin,” the old woman hissed venomously. Her eyes blazed with hatred and fervour as she clasped the crucifix around her neck.

What?” Rosanna rocked back in her seat as if struck.

“These demonic instruments you use to extort money from the vulnerable make you sin against God,” the woman continued as if Rosanna hadn’t spoken.

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Rosanna glanced down at the table; a spread of tarot cards lay face up and her crystal ball was glowing softly. She narrowed her eyes as she scrutinised them, before lifting her head to look her tormentor in the eye.

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“Mrs Peabody, the cards don’t lie. Just because I’ve told you something you didn’t want to hear, it doesn’t make me a sinner. God gave me this gift so I could help others.”

“You blasphem!” Mrs Peabody thundered, rising.

“No I don’t! It’s not my fault your husband cheated on you and had children with her. You asked the questions and I warned you the truth would hurt.” Rosanna answered calmly.

Sin!”

You contacted me for a reading!”

Mrs. Peabody threw money on the table and stormed out.

Rosanna shrugged sadly – she didn’t get to tell her he was sorry.

The Hunger – Flash Fiction by Shaun Allan

I’m so chuffed to welcome by friend and ‘stable mate’ Shaun Allan to the blog today. He’s written a fabulous flash fiction piece and although it’s the last day of the Heart Search Blog Tour, it’s also All Hallow’s Eve. So what better way to celebrate than by having a scary story to sink your teeth into?

The Hunger

I heard the sound, loud in the still of the night.

Well, it wasn’t exactly still…  Cars went by, people huddled down against the cold, lights were on in houses and shops were closing up for the day.  Shutters were pulling down, the windows’ eyelids closing for their night-time slumber.

In winter, when your breath takes form and your hands battle your money for dominion in your pockets, the night takes over from the day at a time just when everyone actually needs it.  To walk from work or school.  To drive home.  To feel safe.

But, though that world was spinning down to rest, the cold made the air crisp and clear.

And sound travelled on it like a surfer on a wave.

It was… odd.

You know when you recognise a voice, but can’t place whose it is?  It was like that, except no-one spoke.  It was more than simply a random noise, slipped from the dark.  It had substance.  Ownership.

But… I couldn’t place it.  It was, in fact, out of place.  Unusual in that you wouldn’t and shouldn’t hear it whilst walking down a street in the evening.

It was… eating.  Crunching with a side order of slurping.

I stopped.  I was the only one.  Other pedestrians went on the way, some alone, some in couples or groups.  One or two looked at me as if I was a mad for stopping so randomly.  As if I’d insulted them by daring to waver in my walking.  They continued on their way, however.  Unheeding and unhearing.

The alleyway sucked the light from the atmosphere, hungrily devouring it, seemingly gaining sustenance from the illumination – a deeper darkness in contrast to the glow of the streetlights.  It felt heavy.  It felt, somehow, material.

The sounds of hunger were not coming from the night, however.  Thankfully.  Well, I suppose ‘thankfully’.  They were coming from further in.  Further back.

They would be, naturally.

I should leave it.  It’s a dog.  A cat.  Maybe a lion, for all I knew, escaped from a travelling circus.

No, it was none of these.  Not even the lion.  It wasn’t so random.  It didn’t feel like an animal.

Perhaps some homeless man huddled in the shadows, hiding from the cold and the world.  If so, I’d offer a few coins and be on my way.  The mist of our combined breaths would mingle, akin to a shake of the hand as I did my good deed and felt a little saintlier.

In for a few coins, in for a pound of flesh…

I pulled my hands from my pockets, where they’d been duelling with a couple of fifty pence pieces, with a two pound coin being the referee.  All the better to defend myself, my dear.  Just in case, you know?

The cold air nibbled at my fingers like tiny Piranhas and I wanted to shove them back into my jeans.  I didn’t, though.  Nor did I carry on walking.  I was being drawn in, my curiosity overpowering my reason with a face-hugging pillow.

I waded through the cloying darkness, the sounds of feasting making my own stomach grumble in sympathy.  My eyes adjusted quickly as I walked, enough that I could avoid the empty beer cans and puddles of what I assumed wasn’t simply water.

There was a big bin.  A general waste container for the businesses around.  Practically the size of a skip, with bulging black bags piled around it, the bin watched me as I approached.  I felt it judging me.

“Idiot,” it was thinking.

I tended to agree, but I couldn’t stop my feet as their steps carried me on.

Then, I saw.

On the floor, a woman.  Or what was left of one.  The darkness deemed the scene worthy of allowing some moonlight in.  I could see her long hair.  I could see the swell of a breast beneath her coat and a heel, snapped from the sole of the shoe she was wearing, hanging loosely.

I could see a pool of blood spreading, reaching towards me, beseeching me to save her.  Too late.  I could tell.  The gaping hole at her waist was proof enough.

That was the sound.  That was what was being eaten.

The figure bent over her, crouching, heard my gasp before I’d realised I’d uttered one.  It stood quickly and turned to me, blood smeared across its face.

I always thought they were just in the movies.  Along with vampires and werewolves and witches.  I always thought they were something to shoot in the games on my phone.

They’re not.

I always thought they’d have dead eyes, too.  Their brain would have rotted away taking all but the need to eat the living along with it.

That’s what I thought.

I was wrong.

They’re not just in the movies.

And their eyes aren’t dead.  They have a fire in them.  An intent.  A hunger.

The zombie lunged.

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m going to steer well clear of alleys today! Thank you so much for sharing that with us today, Shaun.

Stay safe during Samhain and don’t become monster chow or vampire fodder!

* * *

Shaun Allan

A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming.

Shaun lives with his wife, daughters, cats and fish. Oh and a manic dog. Though his life might, at times, seem crazy, he is not.

Honest.

Sin is now published by Fantasy Island Book Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook!Dark Places is now published under Myrddin Publishing Group and is available as an ebook. Print version coming soon!