Wednesday 28 September 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Broken Bits

Today on Drabble Wednesday, join me on an exploration of things broken, shattered, and abandoned...

Forgotten, But Not Gone

There is a room, at the top of an abandoned castle, the former pinnacle of the stronghold’s eastern tower. Years ago, it was a retreat, a sanctuary, a place of perfect magic.
Now the room’s interior is dusty, cold, and empty, with cobwebs clinging in the corners. The frame of a mirror hangs crooked on the far wall, shards of shattered glass still suspended on the casing. The mirror affirms an ending... to a story not told, but written in blood. Blood that echoes still.
For if you listen closely, a shadowed voice yet whispers, “Mirror, mirror on the wall...



“I do not understand the directive. Please repeat the directive.”
The mechanical voice broke the silence of the room, followed by the faint whir of motorized parts as the android straightened to her full height. She touched her broken face plate. She looked down. Pieces of polymer porcelain littered the floor. She stared at her hands. They were scratched and stained.
“I do not understand the directive. Please repeat the directive.”
Her body twitched. Her hands squeezed at open air.
“I do not understand the directive. Please repeat the directive.”
But the dead human in the chair didn’t answer her.



In the land of Ayrli, its people tell an ancient story of the Red Wasteland, of how its desert sands are littered with the bones of the Winged Gods. Of how these deities descended from the skies to annihilate the Kingdom of Ayrli, but only reaped destruction from the armies of the realm.
It is strange how time warps the truth.
Ayrli has forgotten they started the war, they’ve forgotten their betrayals, their broken promises. And worst of all, they’ve forgotten the survivors.
But we have not forgotten.
The dead will be avenged.
Shattered wings will mend and rise again.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday 27 September 2016

October Frights Blog Hop Preview

Come join me and a host of other horror and paranormal authors in... 

The October Frights Blog Hop!

This wonderfully ghoulish event happens from October 10-15th and is open to paranormal and horror authors. Participants will be posting stories, excerpts, promoting current, upcoming and new releases, and offering prizes and giveaways!  You can check out all the participants here:

2016 October Frights Blog Hop

Here's a quick preview of what you can expect on Are You Afraid of the Dark?

  • A Flash Fiction story or two
  • A look at my upcoming poetry book, Horror Haiku and Other Poems
  • An October Frights version of Drabble Wednesday
  • A post on the number 13 in folklore (not as boring as it sounds)
  • A peek at the Brain to Books Cyber Convention and their horror events, tentatively called the Blood Spring
  • Plus, I'll have some giveaways for my new book and a poster of the book cover

Friday 23 September 2016

Brain to Books Blog Tour: The Jacq of Spades

Today the blog plays host to a Brain to Books Blog Tour, for the Red Dog Conspiracy series by Patricia Loofbourrow. I have a peek at both novels in the series and a delightful interview. Enjoy!

The Jacq of Spades: Part 1 of the Red Dog Conspiracy 

by Patricia Loofbourrow

Kidnapping. Murder. Betrayal.

Would you put your life at risk for a child you barely know?

In a far future US, the once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is now split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs.

22 year old Jacqueline Spadros was kidnapped from her mother's brothel and sold to the Spadros syndicate ten years ago. The murder of her best friend Air as he tried to save her from them haunts her nightmares. Now unwillingly married to one of the city's biggest drug lords, she finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law.

Air's little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.

Dark, gritty, multi-layered Victorian-inspired detective neo-noir that keeps the reader guessing to the very end.

You can find The Jacq of Spades at Amazon:

The Queen of Diamonds: Part 2 of the Red Dog Conspiracy

by Patricia Loofbourrow

A job gone wrong. A blackmailed friend. A city in turmoil. An obsession leading down a sinister path.


The Queen of Diamonds brings you the second action-packed chapter of the Red Dog Conspiracy.

While the villain Frank Pagliacci is defeated, all is not well in Bridges. Tensions rise between the Families, who accuse each other of spying, while Red Dog attacks escalate. Aristocratic jewel merchant Anastasia Dame Louis, styling herself "The Queen of Diamonds," hires private eye Jacqueline Spadros to collect from her debtors so she can leave the city.

But Jacqui can't leave David Bryce's kidnapping and the murders of her teenage informants unpunished. Convinced the madman "Black Jack" Diamond was behind the crimes, she pursues ways to prove it. The scoundrel and his crew, however, seem to be one step ahead: the terrifying man in white is seen lurking outside David's home, forged letters appear across the city, and merchants in the Spadros quadrant report threats from a man who fits his description.

Jack's sister Gardena Diamond then asks Jacqui for help: someone is attempting to blackmail her. It is then that Jacqui learns Rachel Diamond's curious secret - and the truth behind her terrible condition.

When witnesses who can identify the kidnappers begin dying and evidence emerges that Jacqui's mother is next on the list, Jacqui is forced to make a dreadful choice.

Someone will surely die. Will it be Jacqui, or her mother?

You can find The Queen of Diamonds at Amazon:

You can also check the Red Dog Conspiracy's Facebook page:


Interview with Patricia Loofbourrow

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

I'm married with three grown children. I grew up in southern California and have lived in central Oklahoma for the past eleven years. I'm really interested in culture and how it shapes people's thoughts and lives.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

The Queen of Diamonds is the second in a 13-part novel, Red Dog Conspiracy. The Red Dog Conspiracy follows a female private eye named Jacqueline Spadros who lives in a far future domed neo-Victorian city which has been split between four crime families. In the first book, The Jacq of Spades, Jacqui gets her first major case when the younger brother of her murdered best friend is kidnapped. The Queen of Diamonds begins one week after the events in the first book.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I didn't begin writing novels until 2005, when I stumbled across NaNoWriMo. I had always wanted to write a novel so I tried it and got hooked. The Jacq of Spades was my first published novel, but I had written eight before that.

You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?

I love science fiction. You can do and say so much in and about the future! The future can be anything you want it to be. The question, "what if?" is really what drives my love for this genre.
Plus you can say all sorts of things about today when writing science fiction and get away with it because, hey, it's just a story. Star Trek did that to great effect.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

I was trying to figure out what to write for NaNoWriMo 2013 and this sentence came to me: "The last time I had a chocolate martini, I was with the most beautiful man in the world. Wouldn't you know it, the next time I had one the bastard shows up again."
And I thought, "wow, that sounds very noir!" But it sounded like a woman. And I thought, "wouldn't it be great to have a gender-flipped noir, where the detective is a woman?" That was where I began with the story. I wondered what happened between these two people, why she hated him. And I began to play with all this. Since I like steampunk (and I write science fiction), why not put it in a neo-Victorian future? I sort of went on from there.
Somewhere in outlining it I realized I was starting too soon in the story. I needed to explain where this woman came from, how she ended up here. So The Jacq of Spades was born, which is very much a prequel to the story I originally was going to write (which is now book 6 in the series).

What did you find most challenging about writing your book?
Although this is a first person story, I have multiple characters and factions who all have their own agendas. Keeping them all straight, figuring out what they're all doing, and making sure they're all kept up to date in each book has been the most challenging part of all this.

Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book?
When I began, I knew nothing about film noir, so I took an online course in the summer of 2015 where we watched films and studied them. I was surprised by how much I liked them, and how the themes of film noir resonated with me. I set about to create a novelized neo-noir, set in a far future steampunk dystopia. I got a lot of the concepts I put in my story - the bleak random fate religion based on cards given to you by a impersonal machine-like being, for example - from the ideas and themes set forth in 40's film noir.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer? I'm still learning how to revise my novels to make the story stronger.

Are you working on another book?

Well, yes, book 3 in the series. I've outlined it and have begun to do research. I write all my first drafts during NaNoWriMo, so I need to get ready for that.

I'm also working on another book in the same universe which takes place 30 years after the end of the series with two of the people who survive all this. I'm doing it under a pen name though, so as not to spoil the series. Plus it's a very different genre.

Author Bio:

Patricia Loofbourrow, MD is an SFF and non-fiction writer, PC gamer, ornamental food gardener, fiber artist, and wildcrafter who loves power tools, dancing, genetics and anything to do with outer space. She was born in southern California and has lived in Chicago and Tokyo. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three grown children.

For more on Patricia Loofbourrow and her books check out her Website, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Empty Streets

Today on Drabble Wednesday, the darkness closes in and the wind sweeps down desolate paths...

Come Due

Midnight whispers names down the deserted lanes, and softly knocks at the barred doors and shuttered windows. It conspires with the night wind and the moon to shiver along cracks and the sheen of surfaces, to squirm its way past barriers.
While those of flesh and bone huddle in fear behind thin walls and glass.
They mutter useless prayers into the darkness, a vain attempt to ward the poor wretched souls on Midnight’s tongue. They know by morning dawn, Midnight will claim those it names.
For bargains made in the witching hour must be honoured and tribute must be paid.


Echo on the Cobblestones

Black velvet sky, a celestial awning of space and stars, yawns above the quiet streets of a small, sleepy town. An ordinary town, nine to five, good citizens abed in these darkened hours. Yet, there are no stragglers, no ill-intent prowlers, no night owls haunting the alleys or roadways. All is still as a dead man’s breath, and cold as a frozen tomb.
Save for an echoing sound most peculiar.
Every evening it can be heard, a curious tap, tap, tapping. Like the beat of footsteps on long forgotten cobblestones, of someone strolling down an avenue lost to the ages...


The Road Taken

There’s a winding road I know, very near, but far away. The old folk tell you don’t travel down Tarkington Road, bad things happen in the wisps of fog and the twilight rain. That you won’t come home again if you meet the Man in Black.
It’s a bit ramshackle, this thoroughfare. Once a mining road, or maybe a logging trail; no one’s sure anymore. The air feels heavy, the light plays tricks on your eyes. Things shift in the mist, and noises—not quite screams—echo from down the way.
And of course, there’s me.
The Man in Black.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Underneath the Surface

Today on Drabble Wednesday, come explore the darkness beneath the skin...


They fear me.
My enemies. The quake at the fearsome sight of me and my blood-covered axe. They run from me on the battlefield. They tremble at the sound of my name, Gunnar the Bloody. I have slaughtered in the name of my tribe, I have slain thousands and stood on their corpses.
They fear me.
As do my fellow tribesmen. Because they know. They know I love killing. That I cannot quench my yearning for spilled blood.
They know one day I will turn on them.
That one day they will die at my hand.
They should fear me.


Secret Spot

“I have a secret place I go, a quiet spot on the ocean, past the island reef. Would you like to see it?”
I smile when he nods an enthusiastic yes. He caresses my arm, but I slink away, beckoning him to follow. We climb onto the boat and sail out into the beauty of serene waters and blue sky.
“Not much to see,” he scoffs.
I reply, “Close your eyes.”
He complies and I give a whistle.
A tentacle darts out and snatches him off the boat, dragging him under the sea.
I smile. I love feeding my pet.



I stare out the bedchamber window at my city, and beyond it my empire. One I was not born into, but inherited by marriage.
I remember my wedding day well. A lavish affair to Emperor Alphonse IV, Supreme Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Not a happy union. Both he and his lackeys think me weak, compliant. An Empress without teeth.
I’ve been scheming for years, playing the simpering wife, while building allies. Now I will play my final piece for victory. My husband will be dead by nightfall and I will be the sole ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.

 © A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved 

Saturday 10 September 2016

Book Spotlight: Mark the Dwarf

Today, I have a book spotlight on the fantasy/sci-fi/ parody, Mark the Dwarf  by Jack Harvey. Enjoy!

Mark the Dwarf  by Jack Harvey

When Mark the dwarf goes bowling, he ends up on an enormous platform high up in the middle of nowhere. He has an encounter with some clowns from outer space, who propose a mission and a Faustian bargain for Mark for the purposes of an exchange of evil for good. With some misgivings, Mark accepts.

Mark the Dwarf is the odyssey of a dwarf through time, metamorphosis and space. After many adventures on and off the landscape of the everyday world, along with bizarre encounters with sly and dangerous aliens, Mark, refined and reborn in the crucible of his odyssey, returns to his place in the everyday world, stronger and looming larger in the terrain of his life.

Midgets and dwarfs! Clowns from outer space! Adventures with dangerous blondes! Plain and chocolate-covered writing! Linguistics, quantum physics, genetics, anthropology, animal husbandry! And there's more!

The book is directed towards those readers who have a passion for the written word and a tolerance for some more or less erudite clowning around with culture and language.

You can find Mark the Dwarf  on:

Author Bio:

Regarding the author, this is his first novel. He has been writing poetry since he was sixteen (a lot of it now accessible on the internet) and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle Sweet Adeline, use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Blog Tour: Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter

Today, Are You Afraid of the Dark? joins the blog tour for the new release, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C. A. Verstraete. This is a special treat for me, as I have long held an interest in the Lizzie Borden story, and what could be better than paring it with zombies!  I have a great interview with the author who talks about her book, plus a Rafflecopter contest to win an e-copy! Enjoy, my minions...

Interview with C. A. Verstraete

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

I’m a journalist, freelance writer, author, miniaturist and dog lover. Did I leave anything out?

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter releases Sept. 13 in print and for Kindle. It answers the question that everyone asks, did she or didn’t she? My answer? What if Lizzie did it… because she had no other choice?

About the book:

Every family has its secrets…
   One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies? 
   Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them. 

Why did you decide to write in the zombie/horror genre?

I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King and enjoy a good scare, so I guess it’s natural I began writing what I like to read. And once I started watching The Walking Dead, I was hooked. I found it was yes, fun, to write about zombies.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

I’ve enjoyed reading more historical fiction, but when it comes to writing, I like mixing it up with horror so adding zombies in became a perfect way to do both. Once I looked at the Lizzie Borden autopsy photos, I realized I’d found the perfect fictional explanation to the crime. I’m surprised no one else took that approach.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

It might sound strange, but I enjoyed writing the zombie fighting scenes. Some may seem a bit humorous even in a sordid way. I can’t help it. Besides, there are only so many ways you can have people fighting so you have to have some fun with it.

What did you find most challenging about writing your book?

Matching the real dates of Lizzie Borden’s trial and the fictional outline I had for my story. I had to fit things in but move the story along. I had to speed the story up given the trial wasn’t held until June, 1893 following Lizzie’s arrest in August, 1892. Even then, the wheels of justice moved slowly. Plus, I had certain fictional elements to fit in between the trial and her release. Yeah, complicated. Ha!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

It might be destiny. I have a favorite baby photo of myself showing me with a newspaper and a pencil behind my ear. I ended up being a newspaper reporter. I always thought that was interesting. But I was a big reader as a kid and always found words fascinating.

How do you research your books?

Lots of reading and note-taking. The fun is finding things you never knew or something that you think can be fit into the story idea you have.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Never give up. Writing can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging and offer some heartbreak, too. No matter what anyone says, rejections can hurt. You have to keep going, keep trying and keep believing in your project. There will be others who see the same value in your story as you do.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

It’s a contrast, I admit. I kill zombies in fiction and create/decorate dollhouses when I’m not. But it’s another creative outlet which I love doing. I have some photos of my work on my website,

Are you working on another book?

I am outlining a sequel to Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. There are questions that still need to be answered and I’m not quite ready to give up on Lizzie yet. I’ve come to like her a lot.

Follow the blog tour and be sure to get your copy of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter in print and Kindle Sept. 13!

Add it on Goodreads:

And please, review it on Goodreads and Amazon.

You can find C. A. Verstraete  at these sites:

Yes, there is a contest to win 1 of 10 Kindle copies (ends 9/14.). Entrants MUST enter an email as a blog comment or on the rafflecopter to be sent a gift copy if they win. Sorry, no time to hunt you down. No email, no chance to win.

Think you know Lizzie Borden? Read on! 

The blog tour schedule is:

Mon. Sept 5 - GirlZombieAuthors – Introduction – A Little About Lizzie

Tues. Sept. 6 - Jaime Johnesee blog – 12 Questions for Lizzie Borden

Weds. Sept. 7 - Jean Rabe's blog – Lizzie Borden… Dog Lover?

Thurs. Sept. 8 - AF Stewart blog interview

Fri. Sept.  9 - Haunt Jaunts blog – More Lizzie

Sat. Sept. 10 – Stephen D. Sullivan blog - Lizzie Films

Sun. Sept. 11 GirlZombieAuthors recap

Camille Minichino blog  - Why oh why zombies?

Mon. Sept. 12 - Horror Maiden's Book Reviews

Tues. Sept. 13 - RELEASE DAY!!!

Join the FB Release Party - prizes, guest authors, zombie fun!! (See info posted on my Facebook page and website.)

Weds. Sept. 14 - Lizzie as a Zombie Hunter - Chapter Break Book Blog

This isn't the end! Get your copy. Share a review. And come back to the GirlZombieAuthors blog or the author website for info on another blog tour starting Sept. 26 with Bewitching Book Tours.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Drabble Wednesday: To Boldly Go... Where?

Today on Drabble Wednesday, we venture into science fiction, to the great unknown. We fly off into the deadly regions of space...

Engine Malfunction

The stars are wrong.
Worse, the space station’s vanished.
What I’m seeing on the view screen isn’t comforting. I think I’m in trouble.
“Computer, what happened? Was it the engine?"
Yes. The new star drive malfunctioned when it engaged.”
I toggle the camera view of the engine room. Only it’s gone. A hole in the bulkhead and lots of debris. At least the ship sealed off the breach.
“Computer, calculate the ship’s position.”
We are one point four light years from the boundaries of the Galactic Empire. In the Marauder Region.”
Oh shit! No engine and stuck in enemy territory!


A Pebble in the Dark

A stone. A bit of cold rock. A fragment of an asteroid, a planet long forgotten. Space dust or debris. Spinning, soaring, cast out, travelling aimlessly, speeding an unfathomable trajectory.
A ship. A home of metal and electronics. A place of promise, full of humans in stasis, on an automated course to a distant world. A one way trip to colonise a New Earth.
They cross paths. A collision.
The stone disintegrates, smashing a hole into an array, causing a cataclysmic failure of the pre-programmed navigation system. Lost and off-course, the ship flies on, into the dark reaches of space.


Stare Into The Abyss

I stare at the stars beyond the space station, through a small viewing window. Portholes, they call them, after the ancient sailing ships of Earth.
I miss Earth. I’ve been out here too long. Starting to screw with my head. Going space mad.
I scrape my knife against the window’s transparent bonded polymer. It doesn’t make a scratch, but it leaves a tiny trail of blood.
I wonder if it’s the captain’s blood, or maybe the first officer. They both bled a lot.
I hear angry voices and footsteps; I guess someone alerted security that I killed my fellow officers.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

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