Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Thirst For Escapism And The Need For Fantasy: A Guest Post by Mark Maguire

Today I have an guest on the blog, Mark Maquire, author of the Alexandria Rising Chronicles, who chats about the importance of fantasy in literature.

The Thirst For Escapism And The Need For Fantasy

by Mark Maguire

“You should really work on publishing that semi-autobiographical book you wrote, “The Preacher’s Son.” There is a lot of good stuff in there on religion, race, Southern culture, fractured father-son relationships, real good dark stuff that could sell.”

I’ve heard that sentiment echoed the last several months. I did write said book, “The Preacher’s Son,” several years ago. And while it does have some strong story points, I am happy to leave it in my drawer. Dust laden and undistributed for a long time, perhaps, forever, its 120,000 words quietly collecting dust. Why? A few reasons.
First of all, It was great therapy to write that book. I needed it. But, it was also painful and now that it has been exhumed from my system, I have no desire to revisit it. Even attempting to re-edit it has proved to an exercise in dark exertion.
Secondly, after having a close-enough-to-death experience in a cycling accident a few years ago, I decided that life was too short to do something one did not like i.e. if I was going to write another book, I wanted it be fun.
Fun to write.
Fun to read.
The type of book I like to read.
  • Ludlum-laced tension. 
  • Tolkien-striving world creation. 
  • Dan Brown pacing. 
  • T.S. Eliot and Dante inspired symbolism. 
  • Mysteries. Clues. Hints. Loss of truth. 
  • Cold-blooded villains. Broken heroes. Mysterious maps.
I suppose it was that amalgamation in my conscious and subconscious of those elements that birthed, “The Alexandria Rising Chronicles.” It is a series I enjoy writing and as I have told people again and again, “I hope that shines through.”
(By the way, writing is fun, editing and proofing and researching are work)
Through many, many years of writing in many forms, I have discovered that reading to escape, to create and to – yes, it is very low brow to state – have fun is key to a pleasant existence.
And I say this, not as a naïve dreamer, but as a hardened English major who survived Victorian literature – if you ever have a chance to read, ‘Dombey and Son’ by Charles Dickens, don’t – and as someone who has worked in journalism for almost two decades.
So, like those who read to escape.
I write to escape.
You see, it is much more fun and healthier to slay a villain after verbally annihilating him, than it is to do so to a colleague or someone who cuts you off in traffic.
There is also the fact that sometimes we all need to escape. This world is not perfect, we’re all fighting some type of battle. Those we love die. Those we expect so much from, let us down. We let others down. Bills pile up. The car breaks down. Injustice and hypocrisy is everywhere.
So, again, back to the point.
Writing and reading to escape.
I often like to refer to J.R.R. Tolkien when I talk about this type of borderline apologetics for writing escapism. Tolkien went to World War I along with 17 of his classmates at Oxford.
Only two returned.
After surviving the gore of the Somme, he was quoted as saying:
“I have been a lover of fairy-stories since I learned to read,” he later wrote in an essay in which he passionately defended fantasy and “escapist” fiction: “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
Here, here.
And as a side note, “The Alexandria Rising Chronicles” has just been the start of this new chapter – pun intended – in my creative life. I’ve also recently begun two young adult novels which take place on other planets. I suppose if one is to go all out, well, let’s go all the way.

For more on Mark Maguire and his books, please check out his Website.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

#OctoberFrights Dark Poetry Corner

Welcome to final day of the October Frights Blog Hop!

Today I bring you my annual dark Poetry Corner, and a spotlight on my newly released book, Horror Haiku Pas de Deux. Oh, and a freebie. Enjoy. 

First a poetic teaser...

Second a spotlight...

Horror Haiku Pas de Deux by A. F. Stewart

In the shadows—voices.
Calling, screaming, moaning.
Countless tongues telling tales...
of Hell
of Monsters
and Unnatural Things

Come chase the dark words, fall into the spell of terror and sit with the poetic weaver as you watch the world burn. Horror Haiku Pas de Deux is a volume of poetry mixing horror with haiku and verse to chill your bones.
Poetic beauty lives forever with the undead.

Horror Haiku Pas de Deux is available all October for 99 Cents at

Smashwords  Amazon  Amazon Canada  Kobo  Barnes and Noble  iTunes 

Book Trailer

And now some poems...

He watches, he waits
Do you see him? He sees you.
Soon you will vanish

From Horror Haiku Pas de Deux
© A. F. Stewart
All Rights Reserved

Ever More

Tap, tap, come the raven,
no, it is not him
He flies far above the path
as the light grows ever dim

Flee, flee, into the woods
ignore the raven’s caw
Hear the silent monster march
to the cavern in the maw

Shush, shush, quiet now
the raven circles here
The Faerie Queen calls for you
and all that you hold dear

From Horror Haiku Pas de Deux
© A. F. Stewart
All Rights Reserved

The Sound of Their Breathing

I watch the world inhale, exhale
each fragile breath so slight;
simple to asphyxiate, faces turning pale
I watch the world inhale, exhale
dreaming how to make them quail,
to quiver in fear, to scurry in flight
I watch the world inhale, exhale
each fragile breath so slight

From Horror Haiku and Other Poems
© A. F. Stewart
All Rights Reserved

Play a Tune Nevermore

Eagles fly
from the labyrinth
of darkened halls
chased by ravens
and a mournful dirge.

© A. F. Stewart
All Rights Reserved

And lastly, the freebie... 

You can download my first volume of horror poetry, Horror Haiku and Other Poems from Instafreebie (no strings or conditions).

Horror Haiku and Other Poems

Well that's it for my Dark Poetry Corner and the October Frights Blog Hop. Be sure to enter our great giveaway and visit the other wonderful participants on this last day. Until next year!

October Frights Book Giveaway!

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

#OctoberFrights: Cemeteries and the Ghost of Marie Laveau

Welcome to Day Five of the October Frights Blog Hop!

I have a most delightful treat for you today, with a guest post from author Loren Roads who takes us to New Orleans with a tour of Saint Louis Cemetery #1 and its most famous resident, Marie Laveau. You can also check out her book, 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, featured at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Marie Laveau’s Ghost by Loren Rhoads

Like the cathedral in Jackson Square, New Orleans’ oldest surviving graveyard is named for Louis IX, the 13th-century king of France. He crusaded to the Holy Land twice and was canonized in 1297.

Despite its historic importance, Saint Louis Cemetery #1 is only a shadow of its former self. The Varney family pyramid, now near the cemetery’s Basin Street gate, once stood at the geographic center of the graveyard. Built around 1810, the pyramid is one of the oldest tombs to survive.

Some of the most unusual aspects of Saint Louis #1 are the so-called oven vaults that line its perimeter. The niches in these tombs can be reused after a year and a day. The extreme heat and humidity in New Orleans reduces a corpse placed in one of these vaults to bones within the span of a year, after which time a second coffin can be pushed inside. The back of the vault opens into a chamber called a caveau, where the bones of everyone buried in that vault reside, jumbled together. In the city’s earliest days, there was no division between black and white in its graveyards or its caveaus. Segregation began only after America made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

The most famous resident of Saint Louis #1 is Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. Marie was a free woman of color born in New Orleans around 1801. In August 1819, she married Jacques Parris in a Roman Catholic ceremony. When he died seven years later, she began a relationship with Christophe Glapion that lasted the rest of her life. Together, Marie and Christophe had 15 children. Marie died on June 15, 1881.

Before her death, Marie worked as a hairdresser in New Orleans. She is credited with drawing the parallels between the Catholic saints and Voodoo loas and combining Voodoo with Catholicism. It’s said that Marie appears in the cemetery in the form of a large black crow or as a phantom hellhound. She grants wishes, sometimes, when it suits her.

Many believe Marie returns to life on Saint John’s Eve, which is celebrated on June 23. In the 1930s, a vagrant decided to spend the night in Saint Louis #1. He scaled a tomb and slept fitfully on its roof for several hours before being awakened by the sound of drums and chanting. As he wandered the labyrinthine cemetery, looking for the way out, he turned a corner to find ectoplasmic bodies writhing before a statuesque nude woman wrapped in a giant snake. Marie, in all her splendor, had come back to lead the dance.

Another evening, three young men who had been partying in the French Quarter dared each other to break into the cemetery and drive an iron spike into Marie Laveau’s tomb. Finally, after $30 had been held up as a reward, one man agreed. He jumped the wall and disappeared into the maze of tombs.

Half an hour passed. An hour. The men left behind began to sober up. They cursed their friend, whom they expected had fallen asleep somewhere inside the graveyard. When dawn came and the gates finally opened, they rushed into the cemetery, ready to rouse their comrade.

Instead, they found his corpse collapsed beside Marie Laveau’s tomb.

The dead man had hammered his iron spike into the tomb — through the tail of his coat. When he rose to collect his winnings, something unseen held him to the grave. He died in a panic.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is one of the 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads. She is also the author of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and writes about graveyards for the Horror Writers Association. She blogs about cemeteries as vacation destinations at

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads

A hauntingly beautiful travel guide to the world's most visited cemeteries, told through spectacular photography and their unique histories and residents.

More than 3.5 million tourists flock to Paris's Père Lachaise cemetery each year. They are lured there, and to many cemeteries around the world, by a combination of natural beauty, ornate tombstones and crypts, notable residents, vivid history, and even wildlife. Many also visit Mount Koya cemetery in Japan, where 10,000 lanterns illuminate the forest setting, or graveside in Oaxaca, Mexico to witness Day of the Dead fiestas. Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery has gorgeous night tours of the Southern Gothic tombstones under moss-covered trees that is one of the most popular draws of the city.

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die features these unforgettable cemeteries, along with 196 more, seen in more than 300 photographs. In this bucket list of travel musts, author Loren Rhoads, who hosts the popular Cemetery Travel blog, details the history and features that make each destination unique. Throughout will be profiles of famous people buried there, striking memorials by noted artists, and unusual elements, such as the hand carved wood grave markers in the Merry Cemetery in Romania.

You can find 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at:

That's it for day five, be back tomorrow for the final day and my dark poetry corner. And don't forget to enter our giveaway and check out the other hop participants.

Friday, 13 October 2017

#OctoberFrights: The 13: Tales of Illusory

Welcome to Day Four of the October Frights Blog Hop on this wonderful Friday the 13th!

Today, not only do I have October Frights, but the blog has joined the The 13: Tales of Illusory Blog Tour!

As part of that tour I'm spotlighting both book and author, so check out The 13: Tales of Illusory by Stephanie Ayers...

The 13: Tales of Illusory by Stephanie Ayers

Can you survive all 13?

13 enchanted horrors. 13 spine-chilling tales. Down, down in the depths they fell, bodies in the dark of a liquid hell. Can you survive all 13?

You can find The 13: Tales of Illusory at: 

Here's a teaser from one of the book's stories, On the Ninth Day

Four sets of eyes stared at Cassidy through her curtains. They hovered there, in the shade of the tall trees that surrounded her domain. Ever since she found the severed head of Mimir, the last of Odin’s magical artifacts, and unlocked Odin’s 18th song, they’d been there—two ravens and two wolves. The severed head’s prediction of death scared her enough, but now the animals visited her dreams as well and kept her awake at night...

About the Author

A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.

Stephanie Ayers is a published speculative fiction author, full-time world-building ninja, and graphic designer from central Virginia crafting her own story and resisting adulthood at all costs. She mothers her children, two cats, and a pitbull; neglects housework as often as possible; loves her husband; and avoids all things zombies.

Stephanie has been a regular contributor and leader for Bloggy Moms and Just Be Enough and currently writes content for Our Write Side.

Bannerwing Books published her debut novella, Til Death Do Us Part, in 2013, and her work appears in several anthologies and collections, most notably The 13: Tales of Illusory, a collection of her short and scary stories. Her poetry has been published in Ambrosia, in magazines and literary journals.

Her favorite quote is: "The blank page is a canvas on which the writer paints a story."-Stephanie Ayers

You can find her on:

A Few of Her Favorite Things:

Favorite Books: The Stand, Divergent, Through the Looking Glass, The Forgotten Garden, and Inkheart.

Favorite Songs: Anyway by Martina McBride, Chasing Cars by Soul Patrol, Dream On by Aerosmith, Nothing Else Matters by Metallica, Shape of You by Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5

Favorite Movies: Hope Floats, Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood, The Messengers, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins

Favorite Foods: pizza, pasta, ice cream, chips, second breakfasts

Favorite TV Shows: Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Law & Order SVU, The Voice, This Is Us

Here are a list of the stops for The 13: Tales of Illusory tour:

And now for our October Fright book Giveaway.

For more of the October Frights Blog Hop check out these sites.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

#OctoberFrights: After Death

Welcome to Day Three of the October Frights Blog Hop.

Today I have two flash fiction stories about death, and the consequences about lingering beyond your allotted time. Enjoy...


I died yesterday.
A heart attack, I think. I remember a pain in my chest, down my arm, and not much else. I saw a flash of a hospital, maybe an operating room, and a voice saying, “time of death, 11:04 AM”.
That’s when I woke up here.
In my own bed.
Yet… it’s not the same place.
It is so silent here, a vast empty nothing of stillness. And I have no voice. I can’t talk, I can’t cry, I can’t even scream. The world around me is painted in shades of grey, a shrouded space of perpetual twilight. The air is cold and heavy, and it feels like it’s pressing on me.
I can see the other world, the world of the living I suppose, like watching through dirty glass. I can see my husband crying when he’s alone. I think I can reach out and touch him. I know I can, I can feel it. I want to reach out… I need to reach out…
He’s right there.
I need to feed.
I’m so, so hungry.



Death hates me.
Why else would I still be here? Waiting.
When I’m finally ready.
Perhaps it’s my own fault, a taste of my own feckless behavior. So many times I smiled at him, made him wait for me, promised I would come to him. Then I slipped by him with a smile, another deal for more years, another life stolen to prolong mine.
How many millennia did I cheat him of what I owed?
I lost count. I’d wager he knows.
I thought forever would never get stale.
I had such hubris.
Youth and beauty for eternity, laughing at Death as he chased me.
Always winning.
Always laughing.
Until it stopped being amusing.
I thought the game would last.
I thought he loved me.
Until he refused to play anymore.
Now I am alone.
Waiting for Death.
Why won’t he come for me?

© A. F. Stewart 2017 All Rights Reserved 

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

October Frights Book Giveaway!

And for more October Frights fun check out the other sites on the hop.

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