Hey Diddle Diddle

DishSpoon

The sign on the door read “Mother Goose Marriage Counselling”.

Mother Goose adjusted her spectacles and gazed at the couple in front of her. It had been a long day and she was really looking forward to getting home and putting her feet up by the fire.

“So, let’s just start from the beginning,” she said, “Ms. Dish . . .”

“It all started with the Cow . . .”

“No, you’re getting it wrong again. It was the Cat I tell you, with that crazy instrument of his. If he hadn’t been playing that, the Cow never would have jumped!”

“Well, if the Cow hadn’t jumped, we wouldn’t be in this mess . . .”

“You didn’t complain at the time. You were happy to get away. You said the Little Dog was laughing at you.”

“Oh, Hey Diddle Diddle! Here we go again. Always stirring it up, aren’t you Spoon?

“Now Ms. Dish,” interjected Mother Goose, “there’s no need for that kind of language here! So what happened next, after you two eloped?”

Want to read more?

Follow this link to Inkitt to read the rest of my story and give it a vote.

Hey Diddle Diddle was originally published in the charity anthology Pick Your Poison, available on Amazon.

PickYourPoison

Sins of the Past – T.D. Harvey

TDHarvey

Today on Paws4Thought I continue my Sins of the Past series with British author T.D. Harvey. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Tee.

My name is T. D. Harvey, but you can call me Tee. I live in Hampshire, which is on the south coast of England. I’ve been writing all my life, but in spring 2013, I decided to get serious. Since then I have had three stories published and have many more scheduled for this year. My writing is generally dark fiction, but can go in any direction. I am a discovery writer. I make no plans, nor do I plot my characters’ journeys. I simply sit at the keyboard and write. It’s a wonderful experience, but it makes editing a nightmare.

My writing time is limited. I work full time as a Business Analyst—a job I very much enjoy. However, my dream is to drop my hours and concentrate more on my writing, perhaps even write full time. I also have to make room for my chronic pain condition, Fibromyalgia, that can make me too ill to write. So, I scribble at every opportunity; in my lunch break, whilst waiting for a doctor’s appointment, when I am unable to rest at night and when my partner is out of the house and I have some peace and quiet.

Who are your favorite authors?

My favourite authors are varied.

Mark Tufo (Zombie Fallout series) is a fabulous storyteller and an inspiration for Indie writers. He has built a loyal fan base by developing a relationship with his readers. He’s someone an aspiring Indie writer can learn from. 

Tell us a bit about your Sins of the Past story?

In the Stillness and the Silence came to me whilst watching some of the World War I anniversary coverage on television in 2014. It got me thinking about how difficult life was in the trenches and how brave those men were, how much we owe to them. When the idea of an historical horror anthology was first raised, I was intrigued, but not particularly interested in submitting.

History, as my GCSE history teacher will attest, has never been my strong point. However, the WWI coverage struck such a cord with me, that I wasn’t surprised when the story made itself known. As a discovery writer, I never plot or plan a story. So when I sat at my laptop and started typing, Frank appeared. At that point, I didn’t know this was to be my ‘Sins’ submission. I just typed and waited to see what Frank’s story was.

What inspires you to write?

Life, the universe and everything. I was recently driving to work and a single word inspired me to write a story the moment I stopped the car. I keep pens and pads with me at all times because I never know what will trigger a new idea.

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

I found this a difficult question. As I said, history never interested me when I was younger. The older I get, the more interested in history I become. There are many periods in history I find fascinating, but if I were to have been born then, I wouldn’t be in a good position in life. But as a visitor, I could simply observe and enjoy. So, I think I’d probably visit 1910 through to the late 1920’s Britain. I find that part of our history fascinating. There was so much change around then. The fall of the big estates and the servants that held them together, the rise of Hitler, the increased reliance on new technologies…The rate of change back then must have been exciting for the young and terrifying for the old. I think there are many similarities between the then and now. It would be fascinating to see just how much.

What do you like to do to relax?

With physical activities no longer open to me, my relaxation often comes from TV, movies and audiobooks. I also have two Tonkinese cats and three tropical fish tanks. I like to grow my own vegetables too and my partner has built a greenhouse and garden on stilts so no bending down or digging for me!

Kike  Kike and Anjali

We love kitties here at Paws4Thought. Tell us a little about your furry friends Tee.

Kike (Keekay) is my 4 year old, brown tabby Tonkinese. She is smart, cuddly and a complete mummy’s girl. We tragically lost her brother, Kai to a very rare cancer in March. She was devastated and miserable without him, as were we. Tonkinese do not cope well with being alone, so in June Ajali joined our family. Ajali is a chocolate mink Tonkinese. He is now 18 weeks old and has brought life and laughter back into our home. Kike loves him, although he can be a bit too rambunctious for her. He is smart, lively and a daddy’s boy.

Anjali and Kike Anjali

What are you currently working on?

It’s a very exciting time for me. I’m completing the editing of my first novel, Paper Dragons and Shadow Demons. This is the first in the Hidden Realm trilogy, a dark fantasy series for middle grade readers. It is not for the faint hearted. The artwork is in progress. My wonderful illustrator understands the tone required and has produced some fantastic proof of concept pieces already. I have been recording some trial readings of the novel, as I intend to publish an audio version, read by myself.

I am working on the second of the Hidden Realm trilogy as well as discussing with my illustrator a series for younger readers, based on the Hidden Realm universe.

As ever, many short stories are whizzing round my head, as well as three other novels, all dark fiction for an adult audience.

I’m also in the progress of finishing up a fun anthology project with the theme of pants, or trousers if you’re British like me. We’re in the final editing stages now, the cover art is complete and we’re nearly ready to publish. It’s a multi-genre collection of stories that stemmed from a bet between friends that we couldn’t possibly write a story all about pants. How wrong we were.

How can readers connect with you?

I have a Facebook Author’s page here: https://www.facebook.com/T.D.HarveyAuthor

I also have a blog here: http://tdharveyauthor.wordpress.com/

I love to connect with my readers, and I look forward to meeting more of them. If you wish to contact me directly, my email address is t.d.harvey.author@gmail.com

Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions Tee.

Want to read a little of Tee’s story? Sure you do …

In the stillness and the silence, Frank could imagine he was night fishing with his pals back home in England, instead of in a trench in France, fighting a war he didn’t entirely understand. In Frank’s imagination, there was no ‘Great War’ with Germany. There was only night fishing.

He stares into the Pacific, waiting for that elusive tug on the lines. At the peak of high tide, the sea stops its ebb and flow, becoming still and quiet. No fish take his bait. No men speak during these minutes of calm quiet. The temperature drops, a mist develops over the sea and the cold creeps inside his bones. Just when it seems the world has stopped forever, the eerie atmosphere is broken by the sound of water rolling once more. As the tide begins to drop away, the spell of emptiness is lifted and the fish begin biting once more. Frank pulls sharply on his rod, bedding the hook in the fish. He reels frantically as the fish ‘runs’ and the world returns to normal.

“Frank? What the bloody ‘ell are you doin’?”

“What does it look like I’m doin’?” he answered the private on patrol. “I’m fishin’, ain’t I?”

“In a trench in the middle of France? Look, I know we’re practically swimmin’ in ‘ere, but it’s not exactly the Atlantic, is it?”

“Where else am I gonna fish?”

“You ain’t gonna catch nothin’ ‘ere! And besides, you ain’t got no rod an’ line, ‘ave ya?”

“Don’t need one,” Frank said. “Just dreamin’.”

“Dreamin’? You dream when you sleep, not stood up actin’ it out.”

“I dream however I want to.”

“Well, if you wanna catch something, why not take the dog for a walk an’ see if he can catch some rats? Or you could pop on over to Jerry and catch one o’ them.” The private laughed at his own humour but Frank just shook his head. “Maybe…maybe you’re tryin’ to get invalided out? Tryin’ to say you’re nuts? That’s it, innit?”

Frank simply sighed at his friend, “’Course I ain’t, Bob.”

“You’d have to try ‘arder than that, anyway. You’d ‘ave to be really nuts for ‘em to take you outa here.”

“Get back on patrol before they catch you chattin’. And put that bloody cigarette out before you do. Idiot, gonna get yourself shot!”

“Don’t you worry,” he said. “I got the angels lookin’ after me. Me Mum sent ‘em.”

The private continued his rounds, still smoking his cigarette, its glowing end the only thing visible as he moved further away. The cloying scent of tobacco drifted past in his wake.

“Bloody idiot,” Frank muttered under his breath.

Alone once more, Frank was returned to silence. He hated the silent trenches at night. The eerie quiet of slack tide was a party compared to the trenches. His nerves were wrought with the tension, but his body and mind were exhausted. The night could be broken at any time by a single sniper shot or a full attack. In the day, the trench was filled with the bustle of constant battle, superiors shouting their orders, men running, guns firing. At night, there was often silence. Though not always.

His reverie was broken by movement to his left. Bayonet raised he searched in the darkness. He tried moving silently towards the spot where he had caught the movement, but his boots squelched in the mud and sloshed in the water. He advanced cautiously, placing his feet carefully to reduce noise and avoid losing his footing. It was a cold night but the air around him seemed to freeze, reminding him once more of slack tide. A low fog was spilling over the edge of the trench, filling it with an ethereal curtain that obscured his view.

“Shit!” he whispered when a dark figure appeared, the white mist seeming to glow around it. “Who’s there?”

The figure did not answer him but simply stood, still and silent. Frank couldn’t even tell if the figure was facing him, or away from him because it was nothing more than a silhouette. Frank felt a trickle of sweat roll down his spine and shivered from the cold. His hands, protected by gloves, were stiff and frozen; his fingers felt thick and immovable. His trench coat was warm, but not warm enough. He wasn’t sure he could fire the gun. The shape began to dissolve, dissipate like smoke. He advanced quickly now, thinking the figure was moving away. Surrounded by the fog, Frank could see nothing but wisps of white. The air was damp on his skin, he shuddered but kept going. The cloud of moist cotton began to break up; tendrils of mist clung to the bottom of the trench as the rest dispersed.

“Frank!”

Frank whirled around in surprise. The patrolling private was back.

“What the ‘ell are you doin’ leavin’ your post?”

“I saw someone,” Frank answered, “In the fog.”

Bob pushed past and shone his torch. He advanced up the trench with great caution, gun raised. When he returned he shook his head.

“Nothin’,” he said. “You sure you weren’t dreamin’ again?”

Fists clenched, Frank said, “I wasn’t dreaming.”

“Well, whoever it was, they’re gone now. Probably just someone stretchin’ their legs.”

“Then why didn’t they answer me?”

“Probably didn’t hear you. Stop spookin’ yourself! Shift’s over soon an’ we can get some sleep.”

Bob continued his lonely circuit and Frank returned to his post. He stepped up and peered cautiously over the parapet, seeing nothing but a slight mist covering the ground. No man’s land stretched beyond the defences of the trench. Barbed wire lay in a deadly patchwork, covering the ground. No planks rested atop it—a tell-tale sign, if it had been breached. Frank knew he had seen something. Someone, he quickly corrected himself. He stepped back down and into the hollow in the earth where he would spend the rest of his uneventful shift.

To read more pick up a copy of Sins of the Past today in Kindle or paperback.

UK readers can follow this link to Amazon UK.

Sins Of The Past

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

Magic of Solstice – KJ Hawkins

FB Banner

Welcome to another magical day on our blog tour. Today I am visiting Melissa Barker-Simpson on her blog. Do go and check it out!

In the meantime I’d like to welcome KJ Hawkins to Paws 4 Thought.

KJ  is a young fantasy author making her way into print. She has had a strong love for fantasy since she was nine years old.

As an adult the magic stayed with her inspiring her to write stories of adventure and magic.  Hawkins, at her best, brings personality to every word she writes, exciting her readers with every page.

KJ shared this fun fact with us:

KJ Hawkins is actually a pen name taken from the initials of her real first and last name. Hawkins came from her favorite childhood film, Treasure Planet, the lead character is James Hawkins!

MagicalMuse

KJ has a story, Half-Blood Academy: Trisha’s Escape, in this anthology – The Magical Muse.

In it Trisha finds herself in the clutches of a monster like no other. She has to fight her way to freedom only to find herself looking at deaths door. Will she survive the fight or will a secret hidden from her be her saving grace?

The Magical Muse contains stories of fantasy ranging from dark, to light and inspiring, bring life to this anthology.  The creatures featured throughout, both good and evil, display the devastating or wonderful personalities they were given by the authors who created them for your enjoyment.

KJ came by to discuss the balance of power in her household and her stories and shared some pics of the fur persons in her life:

The Balance of Power

Trixie   Muffin

In my house there is a tipping balance. Things are tricky with having four pets that have vast differences in personality. First comes Trixie, the oldest, she is laid back and scary at times. She is the defender in the group. Then there is Muffin, Trixie’s daughter. Muffin is more like an alarm system that never shuts up. The fact that she is a mix of three yapping breeds, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, and Terrier, is probably the main reason. No wonder she drives me nuts.

They are the dog crew that helped me create the Kyres, who are featured in the world of Tarzinëa.  I just recently wrote a short story, featuring DarkDeath, I hope to publish in the next couple of months (the date isn’t finalized yet). The tale is about the bond between a father and son. DarkDeath goes to Digger’s rescue when he gets in over his head after crossing the border into the Twin-Tailed Foxes’ territory. The emotion that pulls him to act on his pup’s behalf was influenced by Trixie’s behavior. I have seen her take down dogs twice her size all because Muffin was scared.

Zoe  Joey

Then there are my two cats, Zoë and Joey. I wish I could have foxes, however it’s kind of hard to have exotic pets in my city. Ironically Zoë is the youngest, but she has been part of the family longer. She is skittish and extremely territorial. In other words, Joey gets his butt kicked a lot by her. Her behavior actually helped me write the Twin-Tailed Foxes part for the short story. SilverHide is cunning and deadly just like Zoë, and they share the same sleek body. Joey isn’t represented in this particular story, but I plan to later incorporate him somehow into the creatures in my worlds. For now he will just have to laze around and just be my fat boy.

The working title for this story is A Father’s Protection. There will be an epic battle scene between DarkDeath and SilverHide inspired by a battle for territory and placement in the pecking order in my own home. And like always Fat Boy (Joey) and I will sit back and enjoy the show.

Connect with KJ through:

Webpage

Facebook,

Twitter,

Google+,

Or by joining her Newsletter:

Sins of the Past – Meet Sugar Weasel Wrangler Don Miskel

DeadAssets

 Tell us a little bit about yourself, Don.

Well, Debbie, I am a wrangler of sugar weasels and a writer of tall tales. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Actually, the former is a running joke and the latter is a lot closer to the truth! Add to that, I am obviously a joker.

On a more serious note, I like writing horror, though I am not stuck to any single genre. When I was a kid, my father used to watch a show called Creature Feature, which played classic horror movies. As it came on, Henry Mancini’s creepy, electric-guitar-driven theme from Experiment in Terror played. Though the images of Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Boris Karloff were scary enough, the music alone was enough to make me want to jump out of my skin with fright. My father thought this was funny.

In my teenage years, I became fascinated with the same types of monster flicks, which played on The Son of Svengoolie television program (I grew up in Chicago) every Saturday afternoon. I guess I was more like my dear old dad than I thought.

As an adult, I took to writing like a fish to water. Up until my mid-twenties, I’d done more drawing than writing. I decided to change filling my sketchbooks to transcribing the short stories I’d handwritten in dozens of spiral notebooks. That was the beginning (though my mother says I was trying to manipulate language to tell stories before most babies could even speak, so I guess I was born to this!) of me getting serious about writing.

Once, I wrote a story that featured a very surprising and disturbing twist ending. The folks who’d read it were in awe. I got more questions about how I’d come up with that tale than any other I’d penned up to that point. The horror bug had bitten and the rest, as they say, is history.

Who are your favorite authors?

Though I think I’ve read more Stephen King than any other novelist, I also love Elmore Leonard and Walter Mosley’s crime fiction offerings. I also love Octavia Butler’s take on sci fi. However, it is the drive, determination and great storytelling by my fellow scribblers in the Fiction Writers, Scribbling Siblings, and Authorpreneur’s Corner groups that keep me inspired and let me know I’m not completely crazy. I have much respect for established authors, but the independent ones deserve special recognition.

Tell us a bit about your Sins of the Past story, Blood Tribe.

Gladly. There is imagined horror and real horror. I took the realistic monsters of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and added a creature of my own. Nameless and vengeful, she metes out some much-needed justice.

As a kid, I remember seeing the Roots miniseries and was mentally blown out the water. How human beings could kidnap, enslave, and dominate other humans was beyond me. As I considered writing, I wondered what would happen if the slavers never got the chance to leave the harbor in one piece. After that, the story just wrote itself.

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

In a romantic sense, I’d like to travel back to the times of the Malian Empire, the glory of Timbuktu, and witness the marvel of the Great Pyramid right after the beaten gold had been applied to its capstone. I’ve been to Rome in modern times and would be interested in spending a few days in the Eternal City in its heyday. I’d check out Greece, Babylon, and the Olmecs in Central America. I’d spend a few days in each place, so I could have some questions answered. When my time machine was done with seeing the ancient world, I’d probably just go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, when I was a kid and play that on a continuous loop. I had a happy childhood, for the most part. But there were even some real monsters to be found there…

Tell us a bit about your novel, Dead Assets.

Ah, good ol’ Assets. I wrote the original, eponymous story while on holiday break from a crazy college class schedule. When I showed the story to my wife (who is NOT into horror at all), she challenged me to expand the entire thing into a full-fledged novel. I decided to create a book that told several stories of an introduction of zombies to a metropolitan area. Turns out, the city still finds a way to function under quarantine, though the undead are not the worst monsters on the block…

I released my book quickly—maybe a bit too quickly. When I reread it, I found that it needed editing (Note to Independent Authors: GET YOUR WORK PROFESSIONALLY EDITED IF YOU WANNA BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!!!).

A few months later, I was nearly jumped at a function where a certain former classmate stalked me, demanding to know when a sequel was going to be produced. She was one of the first to purchase a copy and give a review, not long after it debuted. I pay homage by immortalizing Rhonda when I released the expanded second edition; she is the basis of the main character in a wraparound story I added to the mix during the next go-round.

When I entered my book into Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, I was surprised that it made it through the first round of eliminations and began hoping I would win the grand prize. When it didn’t make the next cut, I was almost devastated. My darling wife, ever bluntly supportive, asked if I thought it would really be that easy. She told me to pick up my bottom lip, learn the lesson, and continue forward motion. I haven’t looked back since.

Oh, and the rather handsome, though blood-splattered ghoul on the second edition cover is none other than Yours Truly!

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a wonderful independent novel called Anchors No More by David Edward Wagner. There are two problems with that: (1) I am, by nature, a slow reader; (2) I have so much other stuff going on in my little world that it’s hard to find time to read in the first place. Crazy, right? Anyway, his sci fi novel is about two time travelers who take a leap with some rather interesting and potentially deadly results. Good stuff and I suggest that everyone check it out! Next up will be Fatima Stephens’ Doppelganger. I have a serious backlog going on…

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

I am going to contribute to Sins of the Future, though I am not sure what I will cook up for it yet. I promise you it will be good, though!

What do you like to do to relax?

I rarely have time to relax. I think it’s unfair that I am forced to sleep each night. That’s four or five hours (because I never sleep long—a holdout from my past military career) I could be doing something else. I am a family man, so I spend much of my spare time in direct support of that. I occasionally get to do something fun, like play a video game or watch a really interesting TV series. Currently, The Walking Dead and Empire have my undivided attention, whenever I can sit still long enough.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently compiling several of my horror stories to release in an anthology of my own. I have several other projects in development, including a detective series and two YA storylines. Also, if I can ever finish it, I also have a sci fi novel I’m coauthoring. All this while on the verge of pursuing higher education, setting a new career path, and possibly relocating. As I said, not enough time to get it all done.

DonMiskel

How can readers connect with you?

Even with my busy schedule, I check my Facebook account throughout the week. I am ALWAYS eager to hear from my readers, as I wouldn’t be a storyteller without an audience! To find out what crazy little story ideas I come up with, check out my blog (www.donmiskel.wordpress.com). That’s where many potential projects of mine will get their start. Fans should feel free to share their thoughts and opinions. As I said, I love hearing from my readers!

Want to read a little Blood Tribe? Sure you do!

I was perched atop my favorite palm tree, basking in the glow of a bright moon, sampling the different scents on the salty coastal breeze.  What came to me nearly singed my nose hairs with a sharp, long-forgotten stench.  The tribal members in my village were too caught up in their activities which focused on sitting around a fire and listening raptly to the griot’s tale.  The children guffawed and hung onto every word that filtered through his cola-nut-stained teeth as he spun tales of the trickster spider god, Anansi, and of creatures like me…

But I’m getting too far ahead too quickly.

It is true that I am not quite human, but you’ll learn more about that as I unravel the tale.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the smell that hung in the air…  The villagers were more concerned with libations brought in calabashes by beautiful dark ladies whose breasts hung free.  The men stood around in the background, also bare-chested, sharing rumors and tales of their own.  Nobody else had picked up on that smell.

My senses are keener than those of humans.  Not to say that I am not human at all.  I am just something…more.

Want to read more? Pick up your copy of Sins of the Past today!

Sins Of The Past

Sins of the Past – Say Hello to Kerry E.B. Black

Kerry

Today on Paws4Thought I continue our series of Sins of the Past interviews with author Kerry E.B. Black.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Kerry. 

I live in a little town outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a little sunshiny house stuffed with a very funny spouse, amazing kids, two dogs, a soft cat, and two fish. The house is too small for all of us, but it is ours.

I come from a line of talented storytellers. My mom remains an inspiration. She tells amazing tales.

Who are your favorite authors?  

Good heavens, there are so many! I am an eclectic reader. If I have to choose but one author, though, I adore Neil Gaiman.

Tell us a bit about your story Maleficium?

My story in the Sins of the Past came from a document, a surviving letter from Anne of Cleves’ brother, requesting of King Henry Tudor a change in her household. I quote the letter at the end of the story. It fired my imagination, and that is how the story came to be.

Did you do any research for your story?

Of course!

What inspires you to write?

Writing is a way of being. It is a necessary creative expression and a skill to be honed. I enjoy the work. What inspires my stories? All manner of things inspire my stories. Some spring from my unhealthy array of fears. Others come from personal experiences and observations. I love to share my take on the world. I hope that readers like what I see.

If you could go back to any time period and place, when and where would you go?

I’m a bit of a history nut. I would love to visit much of our past, including Tudor England. However I’m also a wimp and really appreciate our modern conveniences.

When did you first start writing?

My first stories were written for underclassmen at my elementary school. I illustrated and wrote stories, bound them on oversized pages, and presented them. I was ten I think when I started these undertakings. Writing has nearly always been a part of my life. I write short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. I’ve published creative non-fiction and journalistic pieces as well. It is my dearest desire that my stories find homes within the imaginations of my readers.

What do you like to do to relax?

Reading, of course, or spending time with my family and friends. My life is quite hectic, so sometimes stealing a few moments for a hot cup of tea is the best that can be managed. I paint or sketch sometimes, too.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on short stories for an anthology called Forever Red. The one that I’ve submitted is also historic in nature.

How can readers connect with you?

I have a Twitter account (KerryBlack@BlackKerryblick), Goodreads author’s page, and WordPress Blog (http://kerrylizblack.wordpress.com/)

Time for some Tudor terror – read a little of Kerry’s story Maleficium:

Something haunted the garden path. It was difficult to identify the cause of my unease. Certainly, another of the household could be enjoying the pathways. Something about the charge of the air, though, set my hair on end beneath my clothing. My eyes strained as I sought to identify the figures approaching.

Two people, a man and a woman, in proper, courtly attire strolled, but something in their movements betrayed them. The woman walked too free of confinement, and the man stalked like one of the panthers in the tower. Their heads jerked at odd angles, and their hushed tones carried alarming messages.

“Princess pudding is mighty nice!”

“I like royal flesh the best, but I am angry enough to eat the inferiors in there. How dare that flame-haired brat not show? Without a note of explanation, too.”

“I can braid her hair into falls. Red is much in favor these days. Red falls to sell in market when the meat is gone.”

With quiet care, I pulled my feet under the bench. The sulfuric stench choked me, but I held my breath to keep from coughing. They stood within ten feet of my hiding place, conversing as they stripped a thin branch of its leaves.

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

Sins Of The Past

Sins of the Past – The Mysterious Matt Lovell

MattLovell2

It’s Sunday, and Sunday on Paws 4 Thought means Sins of the Past. Today we introduce the second author in the book, Matt Lovell. Tell us a little bit about yourself Matt.

I’m an insomniac writer, actor, director, puzzle-maker, computer geek, music and TV aficionado, cat-lover, night owl, and internet addict.

Who are your favorite authors?

I’d have to say Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury are at the top of the list. This list changes of course.  But really anyone that is very clever with words. Both of those authors were amazing wordsmiths in different ways. Adams was a master at taking words and overanalyzing them from a satirical point of view until you forgot what his main point was. That’s pure comedy gold. I’ve seen authors try to write comedy before in genre fiction(fantasy, sci-fi, etc). And they end up just falling flat. They made likable characters but their comedy just wasn’t funny. That takes a special gift really I think. I don’t really think you can teach someone to write comedy. It’s something you have…and absorb from other comedians (whether authors or actors or comics, etc). Anyway he’s a huge influence on fusing comedy into stories, even serious ones. As his stories are usually ABOUT something serious, which makes the comedy work even more.

(Totally agree about Adams and comedy writing. He’s up there in my top writers list too, DMK)

Bradbury on the other hand…every time I read a Bradbury book or short story I feel like I’m reading a free verse poem. Look at things like The Halloween Tree. There is more imagery in one page of that than a whole book of poetry. And even though he is “sci-fi”, most of his stories really are incredibly grounded in reality. No aliens or star wars stuff. A lot of “what if” future sci-fi. And really he melds sci-fi and horror quite seamlessly as many of his stories do NOT have a happy ending. Another thing I learned from him is not to over-explain things. He simply acts as if everything in his little world is common knowledge until suddenly while you reading, it IS! He doesn’t write down to people but assumes they are intelligent. I really like writers like that.

Tell me a little about your story Sic Semper Susurrus.

The first thing that came to my head for a historical time period was Julius Caesar with vampires. Sic Semper Susurrus is what came out of that. It’s about a bored Roman senator who suddenly gets in the middle of a treacherous conspiracy. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean something’s not out to get you. For research of course I watched Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I’. Treasure Bath!

What inspires you to write?

Everything. Absolutely everything. However it’s a matter of whether I’m actually aware and ambitious enough to catch hold of that story idea that comes floating into my life and lasso it to the page. Usually I just absentmindedly let it float by in my laziness and go back to humming tunes stuck in my head. There are a couple of things I do that help me develop ideas. One is taking a shower and the other is going for a walk. In both cases there is just me. I am isolated. There are no distractions. No internet, no computer, no TV.  Just me and my thoughts. And I just force myself to think about my story issues and suddenly other ideas join together until I have a solution.

Let’s talk puzzles – tell us a little bit about the interactive stories and puzzles you’ve created?

Oh wow. I’ve been doing puzzles for several years now. I got involved in helping with various puzzle events at Microsoft. Seattle has quite a thriving puzzle community. Think crossword and word search puzzles on acid. The types of crazy things you found in Games Magazine (or today Games World of Puzzles). That magazine started my love of them. So I started making puzzles for these events. Usually relatively simple puzzles, but they’d always have a twist. My favorite is doing weird things with word searches. I created a word search that was crossed with a cryptogram that got all its clues from music files once.  I love music and like to inject my music favorites onto other people whenever possible. Some of my puzzles have actually been huge undertakings and were very interactive. I made a 4-part adventure puzzle which forced competitors to run to different parts of the Microsoft campus while having to solve four different puzzles based on Rush songs.

What do you like to do to relax?

I watch TV. Yeah, yeah I know. Lots of people say “OMG TV is so bad for you! I never watch TV!” I love TV. Wonderful stories are told on television. In fact it’s probably the number one source of comedy there is. I don’t take TV seriously. In fact I try to learn from it. I often come across a series that does things with a story in ways I never expected. It is great finding a great original new show. Of course if it’s that good of an idea it will probably be cancelled. Ha! I also like listening to music. Again for the same reasons. My favorite is 70s progressive rock. Lots of wonderful musical stories they are.

I’m a big fan of TV sitcoms too – do you have an all-time favorite?

Whoa, that will require a list for sure. Most of my all-time favorites were not exactly standard sitcoms. Topping that list I think is Futurama. The satire and stories are just brilliant. Sometimes really scifirific, sometimes very poignent, sometimes very biting, and usually hilarious.  (Great choice, DMK.)

Others on the all-time list are M*A*S*H, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Red Dwarf, Blackadder (yes the British do comedy better). For more standard sitcom fair, I always really liked NewsRadio, Frasier, The Office (the Brit version is brilliant but the American version, once it found its own voice, was flat out uberbrilliant and hysterical to boot), Night Court, Seinfeld, and the original Bob Newhart Show…and how could I forget Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. So most of my favorites are odd in their own way. I think you need that unusual setting or style in order to be really funny.

So music, what are your favorite bands and artists?

I so adore the stories and music landscapes of progressive 70s rock. Rush is my favorite. From 2112 and Hemispheres Grace Under Pressure, science fiction worlds are explored, philosophies pondered, and musical masterpiece achieved. You would really think Bradbury were writing the lyrics to so many of these gems. Also in that list are Genesis and Yes.

Genesis told more fantasy and dark stories with both humor and pathos. More briliant playing and tons of atmosphere. Steve Hackett’s swirling acoustic guitar really takes you on a journey. Yes, is like a bite of poetry that you taste that lifts you up and lets you float away on it. It is a bumpy ride, but at their best there was magic in their sound.

Pink Floyd – another seminal group. Everyone knows them, sure. I think their early middle period was best The Meddle/Dark SIde Stuff. Of course Wish You Were Here is also brilliant. (My favorite, DMK) These are groups really that every time I listen to their songs, there is an entire story playing out in my head to match, and oftentimes a different one than the last time I heard it. Can’t forget Beatles and Bowie of course….but there are tons of others I like. Too many. I must go listen to them all now.

Oh and one more thing .  I got a stereo for Christmas when I was young. I had it into adulthood. It was a very cheap and nothing stereo, but it had a turntable on top. One day I was listening to “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd, you know the song that starts with this robotic motor sound winding up and has this thump all through it…well at the end, once it is through (listen to it on youtube to hear what I mean), at the end, the song literally winds down. The wind up from the beginning is reversed, the synthesizer pitches up like an alarm sound and then winds all the way down to a low note and a last thump…when it got to that part….my stereo….stopped beating forever…and died. Was the most wondrous and sad music moment ever.

So the question I’m asking everyone in these interviews. If you could travel to any time and place in the past where and when would you go?

Probably wherever Doctor Who is so I can stow away and become the next companion. Then find a way to go back to the period where Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee were the Doctor. I liked them. I’d steal the scarf for sure. Somewhere in Europe would be nice though. Middle Ages maybe. I’d make sure I was aristocracy of course so I could wear all the cool clothes and not be gawked at and called a mere cosplayer. Live in a castle or manor house. Of course I’d get all the vaccinations I could first…and bring my computer. Do you think castles had wifi?

(Love it – I want to be Tom Baker’s companion too, DMK)

So what’s next from Matt Lovell. What are you currently working on?

Working on a few word puzzle projects right now. Unfortunately the letters don’t always cooperate and I have to keep yelling at the screen to get them to line up properly. As for writing I am going back through a number of short stories which I’m compiling into a YA horror anthology book. I probably have a couple more to write to get it complete. Maybe something about zombie fish or wereflamingoes. The world needs more of them. No wait. Wereunicorns! I hear they are fabulously scary!

(I’d go with the wereflamingoes – definitely – actually I kind of had one of those in Argentum, hmmm … DMK)

How can readers connect with you?

They can pick up the nearest object and throw it at me. Once I turn and shout things at them, we can then have what’s called a conversation. Of course, the days of throwing rocks at each other is a bit passé. I suppose most folks are on Facebook. Here’s a link that I THINK works, although they just YET AGAIN changed how Facebook is displayed so who knows?

Want to read a sample of Matt’s story? Sure you do:

I paid little attention to the orations today.

“And let us send this to another vote shall we, Senators? But first…discussion.”

Same dull lot blathering on. Persuvius….Glomus….Horatius… Dullus, dullus, dullus. They may as well ALL be called Dullus. What are they saying? I don’t know and I don’t care.

“And the temple gates need replacing…”

The hard stonework of the benches did little to improve my mood. Oh, my gluteus maximus.

“There is an ink shortage. Perhaps we can send an expedition to capture a creature called an octopus…”

Oh good, Carius Litus, he of the flashy purple toga. That’s all I need.

“The toga weaver requires yet more cloth and dye to make our new togas…”

I think I moaned.

I could use some mulled wine about now. Maybe I could chat up that fellow Homer and see if he has a new play to boost my spirits. The one about that captain that sailed away and lost most of his crew fighting monsters was a good one. That was exciting. He should write another of those. Things with monsters.

“-alus?”

Everyone is looking at me. Why is that?

“Galus?”

“Uh…what?” I replied.

“Galus, is something wrong? It is your turn to speak.”

“Monsters?” I said.

The onlookers and gawkers chuckled at me.

“Galus, are you feeling all right? You look…”

“How do I look?”

“You look…sad.”

“Sad,” I replied sitting back down, “I look sad. Sad hail Caesar.”

I stared at my sandals. Grey. Like my heart. I didn’t need to look up again to know they were still staring at me. Leaning into one another, covering their mouths with the sides of their hands. As if that hid their gossip from me. Their words were of a poison proportional to the number of teeth they showed. Thankfully, it didn’t last long. They quickly went back to business, i.e. talking at length about themselves to make themselves look good. I left before they finished. I really needed to get out of there.

To read more pick up a copy of Sins of the Past today!

Sins

Sins of the Past – Introducing Sunila Vig

Sunila

Today on Paws 4 Thought we begin a special series of interviews with the authors of the historical horror anthology, Sins of the Past. Our first author is Sunila Vig. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Sunila.

I am from India and deeply connected to my land, its history, colours, food, culture and chaos. Today I live in Australia and enjoy the nature, calm and all that it has to offer. I teach yoga, write and sing amidst other things and try to stay open to the experiences and people that come to me.

Who are your favorite authors?

Hard to put them all down here, but a few are Tolstoy, Hardy, Shakespeare, Gorki, J. Krishnamurthy, Donna Farhi, Amitabh Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri and P.G. Wodehouse.

Tell us a bit about your story VishKanya (The Poison Maiden)?

It is about a young woman who is accursed to be a poison maiden and used by her masters as a tool to decimate their rivals. She falls in love and yet can only love from afar.

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

I would travel back in India to Buddha’s time, a few centuries before Christ.

What attracts you to writing horror?

I enjoy writing horror only when I can intersperse it with other elements like love-suspense-mystery, so that the end result is not gory but humane.

What are you currently reading?

Life. I just moved back to Australia and I’m in the throes of a variety of activity.

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

Yes, I certainly am going to write a story for Sins of the Future. It will be unique. That is all I can say at this point.

What do you like to do to relax?

Play with my little one, teach a Yoga class, watch TV, read, write, walk, meet like-minded people, indulge in any art form….

What are you currently working on?

On sprucing up a novella I’ve written.

Read a little from Sunila’s story, VishKanya (The Poison Maiden) here:

She ran her chocolate brown fingers through his hair. In an hour his body would turn blue and stiff, her poison washing through his every cell.

Two hours back the body had a name – a handsome nobleman she’d enticed in his own chambers in the dead of night. It had been easy, too easy, and now he lay on his carved bed, oblivious to life.

She looked bored. This was number hundred-and-two. She kept count by chopping off the little toe from each victim. She wasn’t finicky like that. A string angled from one of the rafters in her attic holding one hundred and one shriveled toes, embalmed with herbs to ward off the stench.

Vishkanya was her name. Actually it was the name of every poison maiden. She wrinkled her long nose, how about a special name just for me? But when she voiced her thoughts she received a rap on the head and was told crisply that she talked too much. The purpose of her life was to be efficient and lethal.

Connect with Sunila

Via email sunila108@yahoo.com

Twitter @whitefielder

Facebook page

Pick up your copy of Sins of the Past today!

Sins Of The Past

Also available in Amazon UK, Amazon India, and Amazon Australia.