Sins of the Past – Meet Jen Ponce

Jen

Today on the Paws 4 Thought we welcome fantasy and horror writer, Jen Ponce. Jen is the author of several novels including Blood Curse, The Bazaar and Bug Queen. She has a story in the Dragon’s Rocketship fantasy anthology, The Scribes Journal and in Sins of the Past. Welcome Jen. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My mom taught me the most important thing I’ve ever learned: to love books. For me, loving books also means writing them, so that I can share my passion with others. Books mean escape, emotion, adventure, learning, and open-minds to me.

In addition to reading and writing, I work as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I am a feminist who is learning more about what that means every day. I have three amazing boys who teach me a lot about love and life and laughter, and I have a great extended family. I’m also very lucky to have great writer friends who I’ve learned so much from.

When did you start writing?

I started writing in sixth grade with my friends Kathy and Becky. Kathy and I wrote an eclectic mix of sci-fi and absurdity: My Science Teacher is an Alien was one. Becky and I wrote romances, often featuring rakish pirates and heroines who seemed an awful lot like their authors. The coolest thing is I’ve taken some of those early characters and rewritten them into current projects. Patrick, aka Patch, was my pirate character and you can find him in my vampire novel Blood Curse (along with his brothers.) Sam, the hardboiled detective I wrote with Kathy, has his own small place as a reporter in an unfinished novel of mine. Remembering those past stories helps honor who I was as a writer. (Plus it’s fun.)

Who are your favorite authors?

That’s a hard one because I read in so many genres. What one author does well in horror, another does equally well in fantasy. Stephen King is always a favorite because his stories talk to my soul. Faith Hunter is another fave because her Jane Yellowrock series is so engrossing and features a kick ass woman main character. My fellow authors in the Scriptorium are also favorites of mine because they are each brilliant in their own way.

What attracts you to horror and fantasy?

Horror and fantasy both hold terrors, but they are the manageable kind. I can control those experiences. It’s the real world that is truly scary, in that it is utterly mundane and full of insanity all at the same time. In horror, there’s meaning behind the violence—if it’s good horror. In real life, there’s often no meaning at all, or none that can be easily extrapolated. In fantasy, there’s always hope, even in the darkest stories: hope for a savior, hope for a magical solution, hope for redemption. In real life, there are no guarantees for a happy ending. There are no magical fixes. I’m drawn to horror and fantasy because it gives me a place to scream, to cry, to be scared, to be joyful, in the safety of the story.

What is your favorite of your books?

This is so hard. They each have taught me a lot about being a writer. If I pick one, will the characters from my other books rebel? If they rebel, what happens to my brain? If I die of an aneurysm, I am totally coming back to haunt you. Just saying.

With that caveat, I’m going to say my favorite book is the one I haven’t written yet. The ones I’ve written sit on spotlighted podiums in a vast display area in my head. They have been formed and shaped and are now real. I love them but now that they have “The End” written in them, they are finite. The books I haven’t yet written expand like the universe in my head. They are potential and possibility. They are what-may-be. Grabbing the ideas out of the ether, pinning them, squirming, to the page. Shaping their glistening bodies, paring off a bit of flesh here and sewing on an appendage there, that’s what I love. Once they are done, someone else can adore them or hate them as they wish.

Tell us a bit about your story in The Scribe’s Journal?

You’re So Vein is a silly little confection about a narcissist named Jack who is in a relationship with a vampire named Molly. She wants him because he’s pretty and he wants her because she thinks he’s pretty. It’s a match made in heaven, eh? At least until Molly confesses her vampirism and gives Jack a demonstration that changes him forever.

What do you like to do to relax?

I read or crochet. Sometimes I take long baths because they help me tease free story ideas and help me mend plot holes.

Tell us about your story in Sins of the Past?

The Beast of Alkali Lake centers around a woman named Honoria who married without her father’s permission. She and her husband fled West and settled in the Panhandle of Nebraska. The Beast of Alkali Lake is based on the legend of the monster that allegedly dwells in what’s now called Walgren Lake near Hay Springs, (the town I grew up in.) The story was going to be a psychological piece about a woman being driven mad by the wind—a distinct possibility in Western Nebraska, let me tell you. Then her husband opened his mouth and began talking, and I heard the reckless disdain in his voice, and the Beast raised its hoary head and wanted a piece of the action. Since I like oogy monsters, I obliged.

So what’s next? What are you currently working on?

I’m almost finished with book three of my urban fantasy series. I’m editing another urban fantasy that I plan to release in four parts, a light romance, and a steampunk sexy-adventure-time novel that’s going to be part of a mixed-author boxed set. Finally, I’m writing a series of spidery short stories full of horror and silliness and fantasy that I will publish as a collection later on this year/early next year.

How can readers connect with you?

People can find me in lots of different places. The easiest thing to do would be to visit my website at: www.JenniferPonce.com. You can find links for Facebook and Twitter there, as well as find updates about the books I’m working on or those I have available for purchase.

Want to read a little of The Beast of Alkali Lake? Sure you do!

The lake’s surface rippled, water choppy from the push of the ever-present wind. Honoria held her palms flat against her skirts as she stood near her husband and wondered, not for the first time, why she had followed him into the wilderness west of the Mississippi.

“See, Honoria, darling? There is a place for us to swim here.” Donovan looped his arm around her shoulder and smiled down at her, memories in his eyes of their illicit meetings at the lake back east. Warm summer nights and clear water. His hands on her in ways that made her blush to think on it.

“It’s not the same.”

“Nothing is the same, my sweet. That’s why it’s all so wonderful.” He nuzzled at her neck, obviously wanting her to forget the tiny dwelling made of dirt that they would be living in for the next five years and the work it would take to ready the land for planting. Wanting to forget her father’s threats to kill him.

“The smell is atrocious,” she said, wrinkling her nose at the rotting vegetal smell. “I wouldn’t put a toe in that dirty water.” Besides the smell of decay, there was something about the place that made Honoria shiver. Which was ridiculous. The lake was banded by cottonwood trees and, beyond, the rolling grasslands of the plains. Nothing sinister, nothing shadowed or hidden. Just water, sand, and trees. Still. She didn’t like being near the water and knew she would never get in it and said so.

“You might change your mind in the heat of the summer.”

A gust of wind tossed her skirts, nearly knocking her sideways and tearing her hair from under her bonnet. The bonnet itself fluttered and flapped, its pretty laces and bows already fraying from the blasted breeze. “I won’t change my mind,” she said, realizing it was the same thing she’d said when she first told Donovan she wouldn’t leave everything behind to stake a claim in the middle of nowhere and look where she was now. “I mean it,” she added, as if that would make all the difference.

“We’re free, here.” He tapped her chin with his knuckle. “Eh?”

She hated when he treated her like a child and she jerked her chin away. A brief flash of temper between his eyebrows, quickly gone.

A sharp smile. “Fine,” he said and stripped off his shirt.

“What are you doing?”

“Showing you there’s nothing to fear.”

Shoes next, then pants, until he stood naked as the day he was born. Her cheeks heated as she watched him stride to the water and hesitate at the edge. “You’ll catch your death.”

He tossed her a grin over his shoulder then into the water he went, gasping at the chill. “It feels like a thousand hands are grasping at my legs.”

Her stomach twisted. “Donovan, this has gone far enough.”

He didn’t listen. Of course he didn’t. When did her impetuous, beautiful husband ever listen to reason? When he was up to his waist in the murk, he dove under. Honoria’s heart leaped into her throat and stayed there, pounding, choking her as time passed and he did not surface. He was playing a trick. She knew that much. Knew he could hold his breath for a long period.

A bird called off to her right, singing to its absent mate. Honoria didn’t know how birds made nests here. Why their mud and wattle homes weren’t tossed out of the trees and dashed to the ground, broken.

It had been too long. She strode to the water, careful not to let it lap over her toes, and stared hard at the place he’d gone under. “Donovan!”

A thrash of water to her left. Then Donovan broke free, blowing water from his mouth, coughing. She stood trembling in fear and anger as he waded to shore. Lake weed clung to him, wrapped around his neck, his arms. One piece tangled about his ankle. She kept herself from going to him, wanting him to explain himself, wanting him to struggle free himself and admit his wrong to her.
He stood shivering on the bank. She asked, “What happened?”

“Tangled. Damn lake bottom is a forest of growth.” He coughed and then spit, a brown, phlegmy wad that made Honoria sick to look at. “Sorry, wife. I guess you were right. I almost did catch my death, though not in the way you meant.”

They went home, Donovan still shivering despite having his dry clothes back on his body and that night she nursed his fever that burned bright and hot through him. Later, as she wrung out cool water from the bucket she’d drawn from their well earlier that day, drawn by hand using muscles she’d never used that way before, she heard a sound that chilled her blood. She’d left him to go outside the tiny sod structure they called home and saw that the stars were gone. A low rumble of thunder hailed an early spring storm and wind tugged incessantly at her hair. To the east, in the direction of the damnable lake, rose a thick, dense fog. It steamed into the air like a living thing and from its depths, she heard a roar. Seconds later, the ground shook, knocking her off her feet to tumble against the rough sod bricks.

A louder crack of thunder and then it began to rain. The wet chased her inside, cold, afraid, and grateful for the thick walls of the soddy.

She prayed that whatever it was roaring from the lake stayed there and she vowed to make sure Donovan never visited again.

Want to read more? Pick up a copy of Sins of the Past.

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Sins of the Past – Traitor Coward Betrayer by Joseph Lofthouse

Traitor

Since Elijah left, Mary’s life had fallen into routine. She woke with the dawn and before she dressed or ate she reached for one of his letters. They told of the crackpot general who all the men loved and how he would suck on lemons to sustain his fortitude. Others were about the men Elijah had met from all over the confederacy and their odd habits. Men with strange nicknames like Stinks, Hoarder, and Saint Augustus.
As the years went by the letters became less frequent, and when they did come, they were powerfully somber. After reading one of his letters she would dress and eat a small breakfast of hard bread and fresh milk. Then she tended the goats, feeding them and keeping their fences mended before moving on to the garden. Her body had grown lean and sturdy from the constant work, but her face remained round and specked with a few hidden freckles of girlhood. She kept her wild black hair tightly bound and refused to let it become a nuisance. When it came time to harvest the small share of crops she would pay some of the local boys to help; boys who were either too young or infirm to be taken up in the confederate cause. As the day closed she would sit on the slim porch out front of the cabin and work at her needles.
Once she daydreamed that Elijah returned home, but could not see or hear anything. He wandered about the property, distraught, looking for her fruitlessly while she followed behind calling his name in desperation. Eventually he became exhausted, slumped to the ground, and slept. When such visions plagued her, Mary would sit gasping for breath as if wounded by some invisible dagger.
She woke in a dark mood. A dream filled with fire and the screams of men had haunted her sleep. On the bedside table sat the last letter she had received, stacked above all the others. It was now over a year old and she could recite its contents from memory, but even so, she carefully unfolded it and read it again. The sadness in the letter always weighed heavily upon her, but it was the last piece of him she had.
I have survived the battle at Gettysburg, though I cannot say the same for so many of my companions. We have all lost something here much greater than this battle, or even this war. I am afraid whatever it is, we shall never reclaim it as long as we live. We march ceaselessly towards home and safety, and move as if we are on our last legs. We meander, as an army of living ghosts. It takes all I can muster to write these few words and I apologize for my brevity. Mary, my dear, I promise you I shall come home, and that I will make up for every day we have lost. Always, you are in my heart.
Elijah Stone.
She neatly replaced the letter on the bed stand, and rose to begin the day’s work

Want to read more pick up a copy of Sins ot the Past today!

Sins Of The Past

Joseph Lofthouse is a cubicle dweller in the Washington, D.C. Area who moonlights as a writer

Thoughts on A Fictional Future | Fauxpocalypse

And now the day after from Alexandra Brant.

Alexandrina Brant

fauxpocalypse-front-cover-72dpiYesterday, to mark the date of the speculative end of the world in the anthology Fauxpocalypse, I posted a short piece of fiction following my character as they seek out the stragglers and survivors of the non-apocalypse. Having run from Switzerland through Milan, they enter an almost dream-like Venice, where murky canals are invitations to end one’s life and a community has been formed in search of a Communism of sorts.

Although the original concept for the anthology was to set our stories in the same world, the same universe, I think each writer has created their own universe, their own fantasy. After all, that is what speculating about the future is—a fantasy. It is highly likely that the world would have repaired itself, even a tad, in a year following nights and days like those depicted.

However, the image that came to me when I was thinking about…

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Fauxpocalypse – July 15, 2015

So today’s the day. The day when the world was supposed to end and didn’t. So what happened next? Where did Susie and Sasha go after the world didn’t end?

Image. . 

Another Slice of Watermelon

A few hours later we’re out on the street pushing through the hordes of people. I’d convinced Sasha that we needed to get out of the city for a while. Told him I figured the landlord would be after us for rent, now that the world hadn’t ended. I hadn’t told him my real reason for wanting to leave, that I needed to check that the outside world still existed. He would have laughed at me, thought I was being ridiculous . . .

We made our way down Jaffa road, weaving through the multitudes, the soldiers, the black hats, the beggars. There were many, many people in the street, but while there are still a few cars, most were on foot. There had not been much petrol for months now. We passed the bus station. There were just a few buses running and the crowds were pushing and shoving to get on board. Sasha and I didn’t have any money for the bus in any case. We walked on past the bus station and out of the city.

There was a junction there which we knew from many of years of experience was the best place to hitch a ride out of Jerusalem. There were a few soldiers standing there with us and we knew already that any cars that stop would take the soldiers first.

Still we had one advantage over the soldiers. We had nowhere in particular that we needed to go.

* * *

Out in the streets of Tira there was total silence. No one had emerged from their houses at all today. Nahram sat on the stone wall outside her house. So it was still here – the world – she knew it would be despite everything her family and friends told her. Despite what they had told her at school. Despite what she’d seen on the TV screens, those hysteric voices from Al Jazeer blaming Israel and the Jews for all their troubles.

She had kept going to school even when most of her friends had stopped. Yesterday there had only been her and her teacher.

Nahram was going to be a doctor – there would need those even more now. Now the world was still here. She wondered how long the rest of the village would sleep. When they would wake up and realize there were all still here.

She looked down the street – a girl and a boy were walking towards her wearing shorts and T-shirts. Where had they come from? There had been no visitors to the village for months now.

* * *

We waited at that junction for nearly two hours, watching all the soldiers disappear into vehicles. We had almost given up when a small truck stopped and asked where we wanted to go. We said we didn’t care; wherever they were going was fine.

The guy driving the truck, Hamid, was trying to get back to his village. There was very little petrol left in the truck so this was unlikely. Still, he said, if Allah had saved the earth, surely another little miracle would be in order and maybe they’d find a petrol station along the way that still had petrol.

Many years before, I had spent a year volunteering in the Arab village of Tira. I had been young and idealistic then, believed I could change the world – didn’t realize that the world was not willing to change. It had been years since I’d been back to Tira, yet today a few hours after the end of the world we found ourselves on the outskirts of Tira. Hamid’s truck had broken down several hours before and we were on foot unable to find another ride.

As we walked into Tira I recognized the houses – it seemed like nothing had changed, yet it was eerily quiet. Where were all the people? I had friends in the village, or at least I used to, but I felt suddenly shy, unwilling to knock on a door, though we desperately needed water. I’d almost decided it was hopeless and was going to leave again when I saw the young girl in the distance sitting on the stone wall. Was she the only one left?

As we walked closer – she rose to meet us, smiling,

“Hello,” said Nahram, “Would you like some watermelon?”

Image  WatermelonsMarsCover

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Sins of the Past – Meet Chasity Nicole

chasity nicole

Today on Paws4Thought we welcome fantasy author Chasity Nicole. Chasity is not just a contributor to Sins of the Past, but also the publisher and cover designer. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Chasity.

I’ve been writing since high school, but never had the desire to publish anything. But I enjoy writing and try to write as much as I can, though time doesn’t always permit me to. I also draw, paint, read, and do a lot of graphic work. If I’m not doing one of those things I’m spending time with my little brother.

Who are your favorite authors?

I bounce around between authors, and it really depends on what genre of books I’ve been reading at the moment. Lately, it seems I’ve been reading quite a bit of manga. But my favorite authors seem to be Gena Showalter, Kathy Reichs, and Tolkien.

Tell us a bit about your story, A Ghostly Haunting?

A Ghostly Haunting is actually based on real life events in more than one way. All of the stories in Sins of the Past hold to something the happened in the past, but each author gave them a little twist. Most of my story actually happened. My family lived in a house several years back that was actually haunted. I really would wake up in the morning and walk into the kitchen and greet a slave spirit that was trapped in the house. I always called him George, and never found out if that was his real name or not. Other events that happened in the story literally happened to my family while we lived there, it was a very creepy house.

If you could travel back in time to any place and period in the past where and when would you go?

I’d want to go back to medieval times. There has always been something that has piqued my interest around this time.

Tell us a bit about your novel, Wickedly Misunderstood?

wickedly misunderstood

Wickedly Misunderstood is about eleven teens who have superhuman abilities. They are all outcasted by the people in the areas where they live. They are taken to an island where they are to learn about who and what they are. Though something more sinister is the actual reason they are brought to the island. You follow along with Ember and the group to see if Ember can put it all together before it’s too late for her and her friends.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Quarantine by Lex Thomas. It’s quite a good book.

Are you planning to write a story for Sins of the Future? Any hints about your story?

I am planning to write a story for Sins of the Future. So far my story takes place in a school on graduation day. Though it’s not a happy graduation day for a lot of the students that get caught up in something horrible. I’ll leave it at that.

What do you like to do to relax?

Relaxation isn’t a term my body knows. But I typically paint or read when I want to wind down, it usually relaxes me. But since I’m currently planning a wedding, there isn’t much time for relaxation in my life.

 What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m currently working on The Wicked Rescue Mission this is book two in my Valhaven Island Trilogy. I’m also working on a few short stories in some other anthology projects that should be releasing later this year: Forever Red, Agabe, Sins of the Future, and Carolina Horror Stories. I seem to work on short stories more than I do my own novels lately.

How can readers connect with you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChasityNicole

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChasityNicole90

WordPress: https://chasitynicole720.wordpress.com/

Website: http://chasitynicolebooks.weebly.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Chasity-Nicole/e/B00IK00OPS/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Would you like to read a snippet of A Ghostly Haunting? Sure you do!

My life is far from ordinary, but who would expect a person that sees ghosts to have a normal life. I spend my days talking to people that do not physically exist—well they did at one time, but now they are dead. Usually these people have some form of unfinished business. They’re too scared to move on, or they simply don’t want to move on. Those who don’t want to move on, spend their entire afterlife haunting the living. They claim it is the only thing that makes them feel whole again—whatever that’s supposed to mean.

I was able to see the dead at a very young age, and it freaked my family out. Ever since I first realized that I could speak with the deceased, I have had a strong bond with both the spirit realm and the world we live in. I was the only one that understood my ability to see ghosts and communicate with them; everyone else pinned me off as nuts—until they needed my help because they were being haunted. Everyone calls the psychic chick when they need help, but, aside from that, I’m just your average seventeen-year-old nutcase that lives down the street.

Read the rest of the story in Sins of the Past.

Sins Of The Past

 

 

Sins of the Past – Sanctum by J. Kendall

SanctumBanner

There was only the sound of the wind, howling endlessly day and night, from long ago. What was once a busy town of rich miners during the Gold Rush was now a ghost town of rotting buildings, barren fields, and wind.  Oh how the wind howls in that valley as if filled with wolves hungry for prey in the darkness…

All was darkness. No light penetrated the eyes of the young boy as he lay face down on the cold stone floor.  His breath came in violent bursts from his chest; he tried vainly to rise and could not.  Panting he pushed with all his might against the floor and lifted his shoulders a few inches. All he remembered was pain, searing agony that penetrated his very existence.  He had no idea what caused the pain, only that he felt the pain in his soul and longed for an end to it.  He struggled to rise again. This time he was able to roll onto his back and sit up.  Memories of the pain still fresh, his very nerves still tingled as he sat. He closed his eyes and fought with his mind to stop the pain completely, to just brush it aside. It was no use the pain was still there, overwhelming him.  What was happening to him?

He opened his eyes again slowly, trying to maintain control and not give in to the pain. Something was different, there was light around him, a soft glow from behind him.  He could not see the source, but could see that his own body made a shadow before him.  He took strength from the change and coerced his body to do his will. He stood. He felt weak, but forced himself to stand steady.  Time passed. He had no way to measure how long. Isaac turned his body around toward the light.  His head was still looking down. Slowly, through the pain he raised his head. It seemed like eternity passed him by as his face climbed toward the sky. The light became brighter and his eyes came into focus. He realized what he was looking at, the moon…

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” the scream tore through his lips. His mouth opened wider that he thought was possible. Pain exploded, beginning in his feet and climbing his legs. More pain that he could imagine, worse than before, and then all went dark…

All was still. First he felt the softness of the blanket he was wrapped in, and then he heard soft voices in his room.

“Will he be all right?” the anxious voice of his mother asked in the darkness.

“He’ll be fine, woman. He is just starting early,” his father’s deep voice answered. It seemed to be his father, yet the words sounded strange as if formed by a different mouth.

“He won’t remember this in the morning.  We may have to send him on his next birthday instead of waiting till next year.”

“No! We can’t. I don’t want him to go.” His mother’s voice rose as she spoke.

“We have no choice and neither does he, foolish woman.  We cannot deny him the only help available.  Besides the Council will make him go if we try to keep him here.  Surely they already know what happened here tonight.  Their spies are everywhere; they know everything.”

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J Kendal has been creative all his life. He has expressed that creativity in many ways including writing, drawing, painting, and music. He lives In Illinois, USA, has a wife named Kelly and a red heeler named Dain Ironfoot.  He loves reading and sailing.

J Kendall has written many short stories including Where the Darkness Dwells, Whatever happened to Seth and The Chronicles of Overworld.  Two children’s works that are nearly completed are KA and the Dragon and MUB (Monster Under the Bed.)  Most of his writing is in the fantasy genre.  He has two novel length works in process right now. He has also written several comic strips including Pigmail-Leon, Snowman’s Life and Pirates of Santa Louisa.

Visit J Kendall on his website or on Facebook.