Monday 24 December 2012

Steampunk Santa

A short Christmas Eve tale...

Steampunk Santa

Once Upon a Christmas Eve, way up at the North Pole, nestled in the snow, sprawled Santa’s Village. Now if you think, from all the sweet tales that have been spun, that this place was a place of dreams, made of gingerbread and sugar plums, you would be wrong.
No, the settlement that housed Old St. Nick and his industrious band of elves was a home of iron and clockwork, of brass and gears, with the hiss of steam and the clash of metal echoing through its halls. Yes, that’s right, 'twas a Steampunk Night Before Christmas.
There’s the toy factory, with its assembly lines of workers, run by giant cogs and gears and pulleys, and a sputtering, puffing engine -fed by coal- powering the whole works. The elves wear goggles, leather gloves and aprons, over natty suits, clanging and banging as they make the toys.
Outside is Santa’s sleigh, packed with those playthings, belching smoke and vapour from its pipes and valves. The air is alive with its noise, a droning snarl announcing its presence as the coal-powered engine produces steam and fires on all pistons. In front are harnessed the reindeer, all nine wondrous beasts of iron, marvels of mechanized automatons. From Prancer to Rudolph with his illuminated nose, they stand eager to fly, rocket packs at the ready.
And here comes St. Nick, dressed in red leather and black boots, his long coat sweeping the top of the snow. His goggles are perched atop his head, his pipe in mouth, and his pistol on his hip. He climbs in his sleigh and snaps the reins. With a grind of gears and a roar of flame they are away into flight.

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Snowy Reading Blog Hop: Meet Althea from Gothic Cavalcade

Welcome to my post for the Snowy Reading Blog Hop!

So pick up that hot chocolate, snuggle down in that comforter and cozy up to an interview with my main character from Gothic Cavalcade, Althea...

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a picturesque small town in the English countryside, in the later part of the 19th century. My father was an attorney, and we were quite well-off financially. We were a close family, with just my parents, myself and my sister, Jenny.  I married at eighteen, to Thomas, a land-owner of substantial means. He seemed quite charming and I thought myself to be a fortunate woman, but I found out his true nature after we were wed. Only then did I realize what an unhappy and horrid mistake I had made. To make matters worse, my parents died a few years after I married leaving me no place to run. My only solace was Jenny found a home with the family of a distant cousin.

Do you enjoy or dislike winter? Tell us why. 
I love winter, it's as if everything is quiet, waiting for something. I have fond memories of my family sitting by the fireplace, with Father reading to us in the evenings, or Sunday outings after Church. There is nothing nicer than a winter carriage ride. And of course there is the Christmas season, which is always so festive, especially if it snows. There is something quite special about snow on Christmas.
What would you do on a date (or with close friends) on a snowy evening?

"Dating" in my day was very strict and any encounters at dances or suitors coming to call were chaperoned. There were one or two evening dances where young gentlemen made my heart flutter, and I remember one handsome fellow who stole a kiss under the mistletoe.
When it's cold and dreary outside, what makes you laugh out loud?

My sister Jenny could always make me laugh, no matter my mood. She was always so happy, so full of mischief. Memories of her can still make me smile. 
If you were sitting around a fire, playing truth or dare, what would you choose and why?

That game sounds a bit scandalous, but I suppose I would chose truth. After all I've been through, the truth doesn't frighten me anymore. 
Tell us about a winter memory from your childhood?

My best memory from my childhood is the Christmas Ball when I was sixteen. Mother took me to the dressmaker for a special gown, made from blue satin brocade with dark velvet trim and lace ruffles on the sleeves. I felt quite the lady in that dress, with my hair in an up-swept fashion, wearing my white gloves and fluttering my lace fan. I smiled my best coquette smile as I entered that ballroom and felt my heart beat faster as the male eyes turned towards me. My dance card filled rapidly, and I dare say I flirted shamelessly, and I had a magnificent evening.

What is the most creative gift you would put under the tree?
I suppose that would be the watercolour I painted for my mother, the Christmas before I married. It was an especially fine landscape and I was quite proud of it.  It was also the last painting I created. My husband did not encourage artistic pursuits.

Would you start a snowball fight? 

Oh dear, I fear someone has been tattling. Jenny and I used to throw snowballs whenever it snowed, much to our Mother's dismay. She said it was not ladylike behaviour.
Tell us about your favourite winter movie or book?

I'm terribly fond of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My childhood copy is quite dogeared I'm afraid.  I loved to read it every year in the Christmas season.
How do you celebrate the holidays? Be it Christmas or Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice.

A traditional Christmas was quite important with my family, and even when I married Thomas insisted on keeping up appearances at Christmas, inviting family or friends to stay with us. I was grateful for that. He behaved well when we had guests.
I loved to festoon the house with greenery, and decorate the tree and on Christmas Eve we would hang the stockings and sing carols.  The next day, after Church, we would sit down to veritable feast for Christmas dinner.  My favourite parts were always the Christmas pudding with brandy sauce and opening the Christmas crackers.   After dinner we would exchange our gifts, and perhaps partake in some sherry and a bit of Christmas cake, and wish everyone a Happy Christmas. 

Gothic Cavalcade

Gothic romance meets Gothic horror inside a paranormal carnival and beyond...

Meet Althea, a desperate woman running from a secretive and miserable past. She encounters Byron, a mysterious and handsome man with secrets of his own. He brings her to his home, the Masquerade Carnivale, and into the midst of his family. There Althea begins to feel safe, to trust, and to love. She finds friends, laughter and with Byron, romance. She thinks she has found a home, trusts she is protected, until the night Byron and his Family betray her.
But do they? There is more beneath the surface at the Masquerade Carnivale, more to Althea’s past and to her future than she believes. One event put Althea on a path for her reckoning, a path full of pain, fear and ultimately, revenge. A choice is coming for her, one that will change everything.

The Masquerade Carnivale is beckoning... will she answer?

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo 

And one lucky commentor will win a free e-copy of Gothic Cavalcade, via a Smashwords coupon.  And to check out more blogs participating in the Snowy Reading Blog Hop scroll way, way down to the bottom of this blog for the Linky List.


Tuesday 4 December 2012

The Next Big Thing

A few weeks ago I was kindly asked my friend and fellow writer, the talented Pat Bertram to participate in The Next Big Thing. For those of you not in the know, basically “The Next Big Thing” is a blog chain where a writer like me answers ten questions about a Work-in- Progress and then tags five more writer/bloggers to carry on the chain with their own Q and A post. You can check out Pat’s Next Big Thing post here:

Now on to the main show, what you’ve all been waiting for, my...Next Big Thing

This is a cover mock-up I created.
What is your working title of your book?
The Duke’s Assassin

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came from a short story I wrote for a steampunk horror themed anthology. I was looking for an idea for the story and I read an article about Canadian Steampunk, so being from Canada I thought it would be a cool idea to use the city of Halifax (from my home province of Nova Scotia) as a setting. As I was developing the alternate history/horror setting, I realised how much more there was to tell about this world I created and the characters. So I decided to write The Duke’s Assassin, which in turn became the first in a series of novels I plan to write.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s part horror and part steampunk, so Steampunk Horror fits, I think.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I could see Hugh Jackman as my main vampire, Gideon (although I can see him in anything, so I might be biased), Kenneth Branagh as Samuel Cunard, Colin Farrell as the vampire Silas, Natalie Dormer (of The Tudors and Game of Thrones fame) as Nora, Canadian actor, Callum Keith Rennie as Rufus, Richard Armitage as my main villain, Richard and Alan Rickman as the Duke of Kent.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An alternate Victorian world, where vampires, scientists and machines face down anarchists for the fate of the city of Halifax and British North America. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Well, I’m hoping to get it published with a Canadian publishing company, but if that doesn’t happen I will self-publish.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still polishing up the first draft, as there’s still some historical research to muddle through and a few details to iron out, but it’s coming along quickly.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I never like comparing my writing to anything, but I suppose in the book there’s a bit of flavour of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been looking for the right idea to set a book in a Canadian locale and the idea of re-writing history and using my home province as a background was quite the inspiration.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think the main character of Gideon, who’s a vampire, will appeal to readers. He’s not a villain, but neither is he a hero. He does his job protecting the Royal Maritime Commissioner, Samuel Cunard, and the city of Halifax from the threat of the anarchists, but he has no problem killing anyone on the opposing side of his world. He is quite amoral in a charming way. Also, the world itself, with its altered history, steam-powered machines and complicated politics should hold some fascination for readers.

And so ends my post.  Here are the five valiant bloggers who will carry on with the Next Big Thing chain next week:

Nick Paschall: The Nickronomicon

Angela Yuriko Smith: Dandilyon Fluff

Saturday 1 December 2012

End of the World Sale

With those pesky Mayans predicting world doom this month, I thought it was the perfect time to party like it's 1999 (yes, that was my pop culture reference for the day) and have a .99 cent sale for all of my Smashwords ebooks.

So, from today until the end of the month (or the end of the world, whichever come first) every ebook I have listed on Smashwords will be just .99 cents.

Here's a list of the books:

And for those of you looking for freebies, these three offerings are always free for the downloading:

And as soon as the price change trickles down through the lines of distributing, these books will be discounting at other online retailers like Kobo and Barnes and Noble as well.

They're great gifts for lovers of horror and dark fantasy, or perfect as the next addition to your own to-read list.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Steampunk in Space: A Review of Abattoir in the Aether

My Book Review of  Abattoir in the Aether:

Abattoir in the Aether by L. Joseph Shosty is very fine sci-fi space adventure, served up in a smart steampunk style. It was an enjoyable read, a lovely mix of fantasy, steampunk and science fiction blended to distinction.
The book is the fourth in the Space: 1889 & Beyond series,(each book penned by a different author), but is written so you can read it as a stand-alone book (although after reading this one, I am quite curious about the rest of the series). It continues the adventures of Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset -beginning with the rescue of their crippled space flyer- as they become the slightly unwilling guests on a heliograph station in solar orbit between Earth and Mars. The pair must unearth the sinister secrets of this place, before they, the station and all its inhabitants are sucked into an aether space vortex.

I thoroughly delighted in reading this book. The author took anachronistic history and Victorian science fiction and created a fascinating and full-blown steampunk setting that makes its own perfect fictional bubble of reality. Add to that some wonderfully interesting characters, very Victorian villains, a well-rendered plot full of nice twists and a great ending, it leaves you with a splendid novel. I highly recommend Abattoir in the Aether to any fans of steampunk, or anyone who likes a great read.

Abattoir in the Aether  is available at Amazon:

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Interview with Kikkina Rihki Destinu-Bantano

Today author Kikkina Rihki Destinu-Bantano stops by for an interview and to talk about her book, Angels in the City that Doesn't Sleep

Interview with Kikkina Rihki Destinu-Bantano

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself?

I am a New England (America) writer who graduated in 2009 from writing college.  I decided to do this after I started to write my first saga when I was 15!  It took me seven years to finally publish it!    I love angels, I am inspired by angels.

Can you tell us a bit about your book, Angels in the City that Doesn't Sleep?

Here is the synopsis of the book:
My name is Chrysti Neopli. I am a fifteen year old New Yorker. For the most part I am like any other teenager from New York. My parents are divorced and live in two different states. My mother lives in New York and my father lives in Maine. The only difference I have that most teenagers don’t share with me is that I am an innovative living angel. I am not by the book at all. I was born as a living angel and was raised in New York City as a human until I was eleven. That’s when I found out I had blue wings and that I had powers most people could only dream of. The truth is as an opportunity comes into my life I don’t want to go to Heaven again. I had been to Heaven before and it didn’t end well. I really don’t fit in there, just like I don’t fit in with anyone in New York either. I constantly split between Heaven and New York. The only thing different this time is the opportunity seems like it was given as a sign to make me deal with the past which I have to make extremely hard decisions to save the future of my friends.

How did the idea for the book begin?

The truth would be the fact I had just moved to a different town and everyone seemed to have forget about me.  Inspired by angels and always loved the feathered wings, I decided to write about a girl who was always stuck in the middle of the fact she was a living angel, split between Heaven and New York.

Why did you decide on a teenager as a main character?

I think when I began writing it, this was the age bracket I was in and I could relate to her. 

What first interested you in the fantasy genre?

I love to write fantasy genre because anything can happen and anything is possible.  It isn’t like real life where you are stuck sometimes an ending to a story you wish never happened. 

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

The very first page!  I always begin to write it and to me it will never sound perfect.  I keep going at that first page for a very long time.  I have in several cases rewrote the book because of the first page didn’t get the hype I wanted.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I search for a lot of different pictures online, so I can visually picture them and describe them in my books.  (For example, Azeen, a pure black tiger.  I honestly never realized that there were such a thing)

Who has inspired you as an author?

I have been inspired by A LOT of great authors out there!!  The one that really inspired me with his own story would be Ray Bradbury with the fact he kept writing and never stopped.  People told him his books would never make it, and now they are classics!

What’s next for you?
I am going to continue writing the ‘Angels in the City that Doesn’t Sleep’ Series!

Author Bio:

Kikkina Rihki Destinu-Bantano was born and raised in Maine, where she lives a quiet life.
She began writing at a young age and at fifteen she wrote Angels in the City that Doesn't Sleep. She set it aside for years until she was twenty four and then decided to have it published.
For more information on her books and more about Book Tours, Blog Tours, Radio Interviews, and free book giveaways please check her out on Facebook or Google Plus

Friday 2 November 2012

Above Ground: A Blog Tour

As promised, A. M. Harte stops by on her Above Ground blog tour.  Today, All Souls Day, she brings an excerpt from her new dark fantasy, Above Ground.  Not only is she sharing a tantalizing tidbit to read, she comes bearing gifts, in the form of a Rafflecopter contest.  So read on and then enter (the contest that is)...

Excerpt: Above Ground by A.M. Harte

The midday sun beat down on werewolf and girl alike, withering the plants, sucking every ounce of moisture from the air. Great clouds of red soil swirled upwards with every beat of the werewolf’s paws, and within minutes Lilith’s cheeks were stinging from the heat and the flecks of grit in the air. She pressed closer to his fur, jostled by each leap, certain she would soon fall.
“Hey!” The wind tore the word out of her mouth. “Hey you! Slow down!”
No response. Ahead there was nothing but open land. A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed Lilith's suspicions: they were going the wrong way. She tugged on the thick fur of Wolf’s neck, trying to steer him towards the cliffs, but either he couldn't feel what she was doing or he was ignoring her.
“Turn around! You’re going the wrong way!”
Wolf flicked back an ear but didn’t stop running. With every passing moment the theatre—her only way back home—faded further into the distance. Unless she wanted to remain stranded in the middle of nowhere, it was time for drastic measures.
This was going to hurt.
She let go of Wolf’s neck. There was no time to think. Lilith threw herself sideways and saw the ground rush up to meet her. Her eyes squeezed shut. The air was kicked out of her, dust rising in a cloud as she tumbled across the sandy soil.
It took a moment for Lilith to realise she had stopped rolling. Dirt choked the inside of her nose and mouth, and her head was still spinning, struggling to catch up. She kept still, winded. Her shoulder ached and the oppressive heat made it almost impossible to move. A tall shrub obstructed her line of sight, yet she could feel Wolf looming.
Lilith flexed her right leg, then the left. Her fingers curled into the dirt, her shoulders rolled obligingly. Nothing broken.
She sat up carefully. Her clothes were streaked with red dust and her palms stung.  She wiped her hands on her jeans as she stood slowly, legs trembling. Then she forced herself to turn around and say, “I asked you to take me home.”
The werewolf ignored her—or, more likely, didn’t understand. He stood still, ears pricked forward, tail up, staring warily in the direction from which they had come. A vast expanse of barren earth separated them from the theatre, its domed roof reflecting the sunlight. At this distance the building was no longer impressive; it was not, as Lilith had initially thought, reaching towards the sky. Instead it huddled at the base of the cliff face, cowering into the ground.
The enormity of the situation struck her: she was above ground.
     This was unchartered territory, the heart of wilderness: the land stretched out uninterrupted in every direction, and the sky above was a flat, endless blue. Not even the largest of caves in the Lower Halls could compare to the infinity of the sky. Even the air was different, drier, as if someone had left the dehumidifier on all night—but up here there were no dehumidifiers. Above ground, there were only monsters.

Above Ground

The first glimpse of sun may be her last.
When Lilith Gray goes above ground for the first time, she hardly expects to stay there — much less be trapped on the surface with no way home.
Hunted by trackers and threatened by the infected, Lilith is on the run, desperate to return underground. Her only hope for survival lies with a taciturn werewolf with a dark agenda of his own.
Lilith’s old carefree life has been reduced to one choice:
Adapt. Or die trying.

Author Bio:

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate. She lives in London, a city not half as foggy as some seem to think.

You can find her Above Ground blog tour schedule here:

RaffleCopter Contest:

Thursday 1 November 2012

Coffin Hop: The Aftermath

The Coffin Hop is through and we little monsters have crawled back to our writing holes. But there are still a few orders of business, namely the contest winners:

Winner of the signed copy of The Cult of Me by Michael Brookes: Katy S.
Winner of the Death by Drive-In sampler:  wwe11
Winner of my three ebook package of Gothic Cavalcade, Ruined City and Killers and Demons (via free Smashwords coupon codes): K. N. Porter

And if you entered The Karen Dales contest be sure to check in with her Facebook page.

Congratulations to all the winners!

I'll be passing the the winner's names along to Michael Brookes and to Axel Howerton (who's in charge of the Death by Drive-In sampler) and contacting the winner of my contest.  So keep a eye on your email.

And thanks to all the visitors, and participants it was a great Hop. Don’t forget to return tomorrow for an All Soul’s Day post, when A. M. Harte brings you an excerpt from her new book, Above Ground.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

How Nightmares Can Come True

Today, this last day of CoffinHop, I bring you a guest post by A.M. Harte, author of the zombie love anthology, Hungry For You, and her latest dark fantasy, Above Ground.

How Nightmares Can Come True

I had a dream three years ago.

A nightmare, actually.

Alone in a darkened theatre, I watched a group of people come on stage. They looked human. Lean bodies, white teeth, the spotlights lengthening their shadows to grotesque proportions.

When the lights went out, the screaming started.

First one voice, then two, needle-sharp cries melding together. Then came the sickly snapping of breaking bones. I covered my ears but could not escape from the sound. The darkness on the stage was thick, impenetrable, coating my nose and eyes and mouth. But even though I couldn't see what was happening, deep inside of me I knew: their bodies were mutating.

Fast forward three years, and I have just published Above Ground, the very novel that nightmare inspired. My nightmare has come true--for my main character, that is.

I have a love-hate relationship with horror. I loathe nightmares, avoid horror films, and disdain scary books. My first release, Hungry For You, gave me nightmares about zombies for weeks. After writing a chapter of an in-progress novel about demons, I couldn't (and still can't!) look at a mirror in a dark room.

Yet despite my being an utter wuss, I continue to use elements of fear to fuel my writing. So what is it about horror that appeals to me?

Simply put, I think that the dark sides of human nature are the most fascinating. Fear changes people; it can make them do things they'd never have thought possible. It's a test of your character, of your survival instincts.

A writer should write what they know, and fear is one of the emotions that resonates the most with me. I scare easily, so when I'm putting a piece of myself into a story, fear is one of the easiest emotions to access.

Besides, it's kind of fun to see my nightmares come true. Especially when they're not happening to me!

Author Bio:

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the dark fantasy series Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate. You are welcome to gently pester her at or on twitter at @am_harte.

And please return on Nov. 2nd, when A.M. Harte makes a return appearance for her Above Ground blog tour, bringing an excerpt from her book.
Plus, be sure to pop by tomorrow for the announcement of the winner of the copy of The Cult of Me by Michael Brookes and to get the free coupon codes for Killers and Demons and  Ruined City.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

My Favourite TV Vampires and Slayers

As some of you may know I am a huge sci-fi and fantasy geek, so today I’m indulging that side of me and having a little bit of fun with listing some of my favourite TV vampires and their slayers.

A Taste of Vampires

My latest vampire obsession is the character of Hal, from BBC’s version of Being Human. Very OCD, and even more dangerous, this English vamp is fanglicious and gets extra points on the hotness scale for the accent.

Angel and Spike (from Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Joss Whedon’s vampire creations are delightfully delicious on their own, but when paired together they are a perfect combination.

Mick St. John (from Moonlight)

What can I say, vampire private investigators are hot, and this one sizzles.

Damon and Stefan Salvatore (from the Vampire Diaries)

The Salvatore brothers are wickedly appealing and easy on the eyes. They’re definitely a duo to die for.

Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson from Blade: The Series)

Blade: the Series may have been an obsurce show that lasted one season, but it did have the intriguing vampire character, Marcus Van Sciver. Ostensively a villain, he nevertheless had some interesting depth and sympathetic traits. Plus he was a scheming scoundrel and that’s always fun.

And now for a few of the best TV Slayers

Dean and Sam Winchester (Jenson Ackles and Jared Padalaki from Supernatural).

You can’t have one without the other. These two are the sexiest, most dangerous duo to keep the world safe from demons, vampires and all the things that go bump in the night.

Buffy (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

The Buffster rules as the kick-ass slayer, taking on all comers. The reigning Queen of the monster hunters.

Blade (from Blade: The Series)

As stated above I have a soft spot for this show, but whether he was in comic books, movies or TV, Blade was one tough vampire killer.

And one last video in wish fulfilment:

(Disclaimer: None of these videos are mine and all credit for these videos goes to their creators.  Feel free to check them out on YouTube.)

Thus ends fun with the vampires.  Please visit more CoffinHoppers for more amusement.  See the complete list at the bottom of my blog.  And be sure to check out the Coffin Hop Store for more goodies. 

Monday 29 October 2012

My Trip to Hal-Con: A Recap for #CoffinHop

On Saturday Oct. 27th I set out on a mission: to explore the wilds of the Hal-Con Sci-Fi Convention (held deep with the bowels of the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and report back for Coffin Hop.  And to celebrate a successful mission, one lucky person who leaves a comment will win an ebook copy of the Coffin Hop sampler anthology, Death by Drive-In.  Now here is my report:

My Trip to the Hal-Con Sci-Fi Convention

The day started before sunrise and with a road trip, because the city of Halifax is about a two hour drive from where I live and making the first event required an early start.  I did not venture forth alone, as I went with my friend Dorothy.  Yes, we were just two sophisticated girls getting their geek on. Upon arrival, and after checking in, we headed off to the Haven Panel.

For those of you not in the privileged geeky circle, Haven is a TV show from SyFy filmed in various locations on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and loosely based on Stephen King’s novel The Colorado Kid. The panel opened with a short behind-the-scenes film and an amusing, filmed, greeting from two of the show’s stars Emily Rose (Audrey) and Lucas Bryant (Nathan) who could not attend the Con. Then the audience got to view the Halloween episode of Haven (which has yet to be aired in Canada) before the main event.
That was a Q and A session with Haven’s mysterious newspaper duo, Vince and Dave, otherwise known as Richard Donat and John Dunsworth in real life. The session was quite fun, with the pair being charming and amusing. A good time was had by everyone.

After the Haven panel, we popped around to check out some of the vendors. There were the usual booths of appealing books and models, collectables and steampunk accessories, but two booths caught my eye. The first was Eternal Elf Creations, with their wonderful collection of jewellery; they had a skeleton head cameo necklace I just had to buy. They also have an Etsy store. The second vendor was an artist, Shawn Orne, who does exquisite fantasy paintings and prints. His work is well worth checking out.

To round out the morning we spent a few minutes viewing the costume contest (some great costumes paraded on stage) and then it was off to lunch.

After lunch, I stopped by the Game of Thrones discussion panel while my friend went to see Rene Auberjonois and catch some of the John Rhys-Davies Q and A (which apparently was fabulous; alas I missed most of it). I enjoyed the Game of Thrones discussion though; they were an animated bunch of folks who knew their stuff. Then I was off to a Steampunk session (hosted by the Jules Verne Phantastical Society) for a lively lecture on Black Powder and Steel: Weapons of the 17th and 18th Century. I learned quite a bit about muskets and an interesting tidbit that there were in fact grenade launchers available as musket accessories.

After the taste of steampunk, my friend and I enjoyed some of the Dramatic Reading of Kill Shakespeare, a graphic novel, and watched some of the SCA medieval style sword play. And thus ended the day at Hal-Con.

Kill Shakespeare

An epic adventure that will change the way you look at Shakespeare forever.

In this dark tale, the Bard’s most famous heroes embark upon a journey to discover a long-lost soul.  Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff, Romeo and Puck search for a reclusive wizard who may have the ability to assist them in their battle against the evil forces led by the villains Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago.  That reclusive wizard?  William Shakespeare.

Sunday 28 October 2012

CoffinHop Interview with Michael Brookes

Today author Michael Brookes joins the CoffinHop, coming in from the dark for an interview and offering one lucky person who comments a chance to win a signed paperback copy of The Cult of Me.  Winner will be announced Nov 1st, following the conclusion of CoffinHop.

Interview with Michael Brookes

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself?

By day I make video games for an independent game developer here in the UK. Gaming is one of my passions. At night I read and write, two of my other passions! I’ve always been an avid reader and I think that’s what inspired me to first start writing. I don’t think anyone can be a good writer without a lot of reading.

Can you tell everyone a bit about your book, The Cult of Me?

The Cult of Me is the story of a young man who has the ability to enter other people’s minds and bend them to his will. For years he tormented those around him, without any of them knowing he’s the cause of their misery. Eventually he grows tired of the game and decides to enact a final, bloody stand. While in prison he discovers that he’s not as unique as he once thought.

Your book deals with mind invasion. Why did you settle on that idea? Was it the psychological aspect of fear and horror that appealed to you?

The idea came from wondering what a child would grow into if they had the power to shape the world around them without any real repercussions. Ultimately it creates a monster, but he’s not born one.

Why did you decide to write in the supernatural/horror genre in general? What do you find most fascinating about the genre?

I find something appealing about horror; fear is probably the first emotion a human ever felt. The supernatural also interests me purely as juxtaposition from the more secular age we live in.

In addition to novels, you write short fiction. Do you find horror stories easier or harder to tell with a limited word count?

In some ways it’s easier. The good thing with short stories is they allow you to explore a single idea without getting too bogged down in the overheads of a novel.

Do you have a favourite story that you’ve written?

Tricky question. I’m very pleased with The Cult of Me, but I have a soft spot for My Final Confession, it’s available for free on my blog:
What I like about this story is it takes an apocalyptic concept and makes it personal. One of my favourite aspects about creating stories is turning things on their heads.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Clive Barker and Ian M Banks. If I could write half as well as them I would be a happy man.

You also work at a video games company in the UK. Tell us what that’s like?

As I mentioned earlier games are one of passions and making games is hard work, but very rewarding – a bit like writing really.

What other projects are in your future?

I’ve just released a few short stories in An Odd Quartet ( with some fun – if dark stories. I’ve finished the first draft of Conversations in the Abyss, the sequel to The Cult of Me. Through November I’ll be writing another first draft as a part of the National Novel Writing Month (

You can find out more about Michael at his blog:

And don't forget to comment for a chance to win his book, plus check out the other CoffinHoppers by scrolling down to the list at the end of this blog.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Excerpts, Stories and Poems for CoffinHop

I’m away today at the Hal-Con Sci-fi Convention (happening in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) so I’m leaving you with some creepy stories, excerpts and poems to keep you amused. I’ll be back later this evening to check out any comments.

Here’s a scary story for you:

Margot Wants To Play

Margot tugged her mother’s skirt.  “Come play with me, Mommy.”
“I can’t right now dear, I’m making dinner.  Why don’t you go read a book or watch the TV.”
“Cause I don’t wanna watch the dumb old TV or read a dumb, stupid book.” Margot whispered, safely out of earshot of her mother.  She sighed and took her ball outside.
Across the street Mr McNally waved at her.  “Hi, Margot.”
“Would you like to play with me, Mr. McNally?”  She held up her ball.
“Sorry sweetie, I can’t.  Got to water my lawn.”
Margot pouted as she watched him stroll over to his garden hose and turn on the water.  She was distracted for a few minutes by the pretty spray of water, before she moved on down the street, idly bouncing her ball.
A few minutes later she saw her friend Dave with his bicycle.
“Dave, do you want to play-”
“Can’t, going down to the arcade!”  His shout flew past as he whizzed by on his bike.
Margot stamped her foot.  “Nobody wants to play with me!”
Just then she saw a shiny thing.  It stuck up from the ground, just behind Dave’s back fence.  Strange, she didn’t see it there a minute ago.  But still, it needed to be investigated.  She tucked her ball under arm and raced to see her treasure.
When she got there, Margot stood over it and frowned.  It didn’t look like much, just a silver stick, stuck in the dirt.  Yet, it was her stick, she knew it.  Margot bent and wrapped her chubby fingers around it.  Her hand tingled and she felt giddy as she pulled her shiny prize from the earth.  For a moment she was happy, just for a moment the object was hers, and she held it tight.
Your name is Margot, isn’t it?
Margot blinked and looked down at the polished item in her hand. It sounded like it talked to her.
I did talk to you, Margot. I want to play with you.
“You can talk? You’re a talking-” She hesitated a moment as she wondered what to call her new toy until she remembered something her father read to her in a story. “A talking sep-step-stepter. That’s right, a royal stepter, and you can talk.”
Yes, Margot, I can talk, but I’m not a sceptre. I’m inside the rod you’re holding.
“Inside?” Margot held up her treasure and took a closer look. There did seem to be a top that might open.
That’s right Margot, open the rod and let me out. Then we can play together.
“You’ll play with me if I let you out?”
Yes, I’ll play with you. I like to play with little girls.
The thought of a new friend made Margot happy. “Okay.” She twisted the lid with her little plump fingers until it popped off with a snap. A shimmer of light flooded outward, followed by a thick, crimson smoke. Margot dropped the rod in surprise as this cloud of colour hovered around her.
Thank you, Margot. Now we can play.
The smoke whirled in the air, a translucent, intangible acrobat and Margot laughed. With her pretty voice still drifting on the air, this vaporous creature lunged, filling her open mouth, swelling down her throat, pouring into her nose and blinding her eyes. Her laughter stopped and Margot fell to her knees, her arms flailing, her now sightless eyes filling with tears. She choked on her own breath and fear, her only screams the ones that echoed in her mind. As the last of the strange mist invaded her body, her thoughts, her world became an empty nothing...

Margot walked down an empty street, the only sound the bouncing of her red, rubber ball.  The bright sunshine of the day had given way to the dusky gloom of nightfall, the time when all children should be at home with their parents.

So why was this little child playing in the lane, all alone?  And why was her neighbourhood so quiet?  Where were all the adults?

Margot paused in her game, and stopped under a streetlamp; the glow of the bulb illuminated her features. She smiled, a satisfied grin full of secrets.  It was a grin of razor-sharp teeth, and it reached towards wide, yellow eyes and the barbed horns on her forehead.  She giggled and bounced her ball, staring down the street into the night.

“Come play with me.”

Here’s an excerpt from Gothic Cavalcade:

The men carrying her lifted her and then deposited her body into a glass tank resting within the stone circle. Althea didn’t resist, couldn’t resist; her body still wouldn’t move. The cover slid into place, enclosing her in the tank. Slowly her prison began to fill with a curious liquid, inexplicably materialising from within the glass container. It churned around her, not water, but a black, icy fluid, thick and sticky.
Bitter, aching cold invaded her bones as the sluice seeped over her skin and her clothes. It oozed into her nose, mouth, and eyes until she submerged in the viscous substance. Althea felt panic, feared she would drown, but she found she could breathe. She inhaled sharp gasps of frigid wash as the emulsion flowed down her throat, expanding into her lungs. It crawled into the very fibre of her, shutting out sight and sound. It engorged every sense in darkness and frost, marinating through her body as it permeated into tissue and blood. She wanted to shriek, but her throat was full of fluid. She could only jerk in the throes of frozen suffering, as her body floated in glacial, silent isolation.
Images flickered under her eyelids, colours of deep crimson, indigo, and amethyst, and flashes of cruel brown eyes. A voice whispered in her memory, the words distant and indistinct, carrying the emotions of fear, anger, and sorrow on its breath. A scream, primal and furious, howled inside her raging for expulsion, but she stayed silent, the ferocity still locked against the world. Her body shuddered in powerful spasms and the tank vibrated violently. It rocked in the throes of her body’s reactions for- an eternity, minutes, hours? She did not know.

And for last, a Halloween Poem:

All Hallows

Ascends high
Time ticks midnight

Crackle arcane
Bearing odd whispers

Of malice
Rouse in shadows

Haunt nightfall
Worlds stand quiet

No breath
Like a crypt

A shriek
Breaks the hush

In confusion
A hopeless flight

Flows scarlet
Staining the kill

And in honour of today's short story and poem I'm including some freebie links from Smashwords:

Even the Paranormal Play Sports (a flash fiction story)
Existence (a flash fiction story)
Twisted Shorties (an anthology of stories and poems)

These three books are also available free from B&N Nook, iTunes, Kobo and Sony

And remember to visit the other CoffinHoppers, for more fun horror happenings.  Check out the list and the bottom of my blog for the participants.  And be sure to check out the Coffin Hop Store for more creepy goodies. 

Friday 26 October 2012

Vampires Are Hot: A Coffin Hop Guest Post by Karen Dales

Our first Coffin Hop guest stops by today.  Please welcome author Karen Dales, who is here to chat about vampires and her Chosen Chronicles series.


I’m not just talking about the vampires you see or read about who are leading men material in paranormal romance. I’m taking about the fact that now, more than ever, we’re seeing vampires on the rise in fiction, television and in movies. But why?

That’s the real blood in the mix, isn’t it?

I’ve been on several panels at different conventions, such as Ad Astra, ConCept, and FanExpo where we discussed where the Vampire was evolving into. Though these talks only lasted an hour, I’m sure we could have gone on for the whole weekend. Regardless of what some people may believe, vampires are here to stay and may in fact be a burgeoning literary genre rather than a trope. One thing, as a vampire fan, that I have discovered, is that there seems to be two distinct vampire camps: Vampires as lovers/heroes as in paranormal romance and Vampires as monsters who would do anything to dominate, subdue, enslave and devour you like the little cow that you are. Sometimes you have these two types coming together where the good vampire beats the bad vampire. It works, but it isn’t something that is new.

In my opinion it was with Anne Rice’s vampire novels that we truly see a new invention on an old idea. In essence, she gave us a new mythology behind vampires. No longer did vampires descend from the lineage of Vlad or Dracula, Ms Rice took the mythos far enough back in time to tie her mythos to the Egyptian mythos. It was brilliant. Unfortunately, there really hasn’t been a new incarnation or mythos of vampires since.

At least not until now…

I have endeavored to do just that through the story of The Angel in my series The Chosen Chronicles.

When I started writing the series, beginning with Changeling: Prelude to the Chosen Chronicles, I had several questions that came to mind. The main one was what the hell did vampires call themselves before the word vampire was even created?

It came to me…they were Chosen. They were Chosen out of humans to become something more, something powerful, but for what exact purpose? The answer to even that question was lost to antiquity, and for an immortal that’s a pretty long time. I do plan on answering it in Thanatos: Book Three of the Chosen Chronicles, which I’m currently writing.

Little does anyone know, including himself, the answers all surround The Angel.

In Changeling the reader is given The Angel’s origin story. It is in this novel where many questions arise about him and what it meant to be Chosen. There are two great hints in it; the fact that the Angel is believed to be the Welsh Lord of Death and the Hunt – Gwyn ap Nudd, and The Angel’s interaction with the white faced demons.

 It is in the next novel, Angel of Death: Book One of the Chosen Chronicles, that we are transported through time to the late Victorian age in London. The Angel truly is one of death and I draw upon Christian mythos to help validate our current image of the cloaked figure with skeletal paleness and a blade that cuts down people. It is not a mistake on my part that Gwyn ap Nudd was/is considered an Angel of Death, even today, mythologically speaking. As an author I used those and wove them together.

In the time of Angel of Death: Book One of the Chosen Chronicles, the Chosen have ‘bought into’ the idea that they were the vampires that publishers and penny dreadful published for the mass mortal market. The Chosen have bought into their own bad publicity despite the fact that they haven’t come out of the coffin. The only thing that alerts them that what is being written is not the truth of what they are are the discrepancies of description.

In Angel of Death, The Angel is commanded to the Mistress’ presence or see his Chooser, Father Paul Notus, (yep, he’s a Christian monk and a Chosen), killed. He is then given the task of finding out how the Chosens’ food supply (ie. Mortals) are becoming poisonous to the Chosen and put a stop to it. A solitary creature for the most part, The Angel ends up teaming up with Fernando de Sagres. Fernando is Chosen, but he has fallen into the ‘Vampire lifestyle’ and attitude. He’s the guy you love to hate. He’s also the type that loves a good meal, if you get my drift. The two Chosen are joined by Notus’ mortal housekeeper – Jeanie. She becomes the love interest of The Angel and it is in part her participation in the quest that keeps things very dangerous and interesting.

I’m not going to spoil the end by telling you whodunit, but through Angel of Death, more questions to the true origins of the Angel and how that fits in with the Chosen come about.

In Shadow of Death: Book Two of the Chosen Chronicles, I bring The Angel and Notus to my home town of Toronto, Ontario, about 100 years after Angel of Death. It is here that revenge against the Angel for having thwarted the attempted genocide against the Chosen comes to play. Unfortunately for the Angel, it comes about in the worst way possible, and not all of it is due to those he hunted down in the first book.

Here I play more. I don’t want to give too much away, but needless to say, in Shadow of Death my take on vampires becomes different than what I’ve read (at least), and lends to even more questions about the Angel. There are more hints and more clues, but it won’t be until Thanatos is published that a brand new mythos about vampires will be revealed.

Is it hard to do something brand new in the vampire genre, especially concerning its mythos? You betcha. But at the same time I have a plethora of real mythology, archaeology, and anthropology to draw upon. Yes, there’s lots of research that goes into making a mythology seem plausible.

The Chosen are evolving and that evolution will be seen in Thanatos.

Vampires are evolving and that evolution will be seen in the minds/imaginations of those that write about them.
Please enjoy my free short story –“The Guest.” It is a short story of the Angel of Death within my series “The Chosen Chronicles.”

You can check out the series here:
Dark Dragon Publishing (free shipping in Canada and USA) –
Amazon/Kindle -
Barnes & Noble -
Smashwords -
Kobo -
iTunes -

You can keep up to date with me and my writings on:
Website –
Blog -
Facebook -
Twitter -!/karendales
Amazon –
Goodreads -

I like to thank Karen for joining the Hop and if you'd like a chance to win with Karen's Halloween Giveaway, there's still time.  Just pop on over to her Facebook page, like it, and enter the RaffleCopter Contest:

And please be sure to visit the other Coffin Hoppers, just scroll down to the list at the bottom of this blog to see the participants.  Also, you can check out the Coffin Hop Store for an array of creepy souvenirs.

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