Friday, October 31, 2014

Coffin Hop 2014 and Last Request Contest

As promised in Coffin Hop post #1, here's the announcement and details for a contest running through the end of November. Last Request: A Victorian Gothic contains an allusion to a well-known 19th-century American female writer and one of her short stories. The prize is a $20 Amazon gift card. The winner will be selected from the entries that correctly name the writer and her story.

Here are some clues to help you.
  1. The writer in question is best known for a story she wrote about wallpaper, but that's not the story I referenced.
  2. The writer's last name and the word from her story's title appear in the same sentence in Last Request, only a few words apart.
  3. The clue word is the name of a living thing. Don't let its variant spellings trip you up.
Read Last Request to find the answers. Good luck. At under twelve thousand words, Last Request is a quick and fun read. Buy it, borrow it (it's part of Kindle Unlimited). Come back here to enter the contest. Here's the blurb:
“For the love of God, cut off my head.” The last request in Uncle Silas's will shocks everyone speechless, everyone except his favorite niece, Anna. More than death itself, the claustrophobic Silas fears a premature burial. Will her elders carry out his request? Anna is certain they will not. It's up to her to do the right thing, even if it is a bit grisly. Armed with butcher knife and candle, Anna heads for the crypt underneath the church in the dead of night. All does not go according to Anna's careful planning.

Step inside a dark story in the tradition of the penny dreadful, at times humorous and horrifying, but don't close the door behind you. Someone might lock you in.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
In Coffin Hop news, congratulations to Julianne and Lori, winners of my giveaway for Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale. Thanks to everyone who entered the raffle. That was the best participation I've ever seen in a raffle, a sure sign of the strength of Coffin Hop. And thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog during the hop. Your comments and visits are much appreciated. There's still time to visit more stops on the hop, check out the other participants below.

Happy Halloween and don't eat your candy all at once.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Coffin Hop 2014: Post #3: Jack-O'-Lantern

If you hear the word Jack-o'-lantern, you likely picture a hollowed-out pumpkin with carved eyes and mouth lit by a candle inside the pumpkin. Some are scary and some are funny. However, the association between carved pumpkins, now an iconic image of Halloween, and the term Jack-o'-lantern is relatively recent.

In East Anglia and southwestern England, jack-o'-lantern was the name given to the flickering lights sometimes visible over bogs, swamps, and marshes. The lights resemble a flickering lamp. Witnesses claim that the light recedes if approached, drawing the hapless traveler off the safe path through the marsh. The phenomenon—technically known as ignis fatuus, Medieval Latin meaning “foolish fire”—is still a mystery with several competing hypotheses. The lights are known by various names including will-o'-the-wisp, jack-o'-lantern, and friars's lantern. (A wisp is a bundle of sticks used as a torch.) Jack-o'-lantern is short for Jack of the lantern. So who is this Jack guy and why does he stroll through bogs with a lantern?

Meet Stingy Jack, a lazy, drunken but wily character who has various dealings with the devil. There are many stories about Jack's encounters with Satan. In some versions, Jack tricks the devil into transforming into a coin which Jack places next to a cross, thus robbing Satan of his powers. Another version has the devil climbing an apple tree and becoming stuck there when Jack carves a cross onto the trunk. In any case, Jack gets bargaining power over the devil and Satan agrees not to take Jack's soul. When Jack dies, he is not admitted to Heaven because of his deceitful and drunken ways. Satan, keeping his promise, refuses to allow Jack into Hell and sends him back to earth. To light Jack's way, the devil gives him an ember from the fires of Hell, which Jack places inside a hollowed-out turnip. Jack was fond of turnips and stole one whenever he got the chance. Stingy Jack was condemned to roam the earth for eternity with his turnip lantern to light the way.

Traditional Irish turnip
Jack-o'-lantern from the
early 20th century.
It's not clear where or when the custom of carving faces into large turnips, rutabaga, or beets to create lamps originated. It's commonly believed that the custom originated in Ireland and spread to the Scottish Highlands and that the grotesque faces represented spirits and goblins. Samhain (October 31-November 1) is considered a very active time for spirits and fairies. Tradition suggests that guisers (someone going out in costume) used the turnip lanterns to light their way or that the lamps were placed at doors and windows to ward off evil spirits. As plausible as that explanation sounds, contemporary Irish and Scottish sources, such as Robert Burns's “Halloween,” don't mention the practice. The jack-o'-lantern tradition seems to be as mysterious as the ignis fatuus, which is as it should be.

There's still time to enter the raffle to win a copy of my urban fantasy novelette Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale. It's in pre-order mode on Amazon, set for release on Halloween. Enter to win here (Coffin Hop Post #1).

Image Attribution: Traditional Irish turnip carving photograph from Rannpháirtí anaithnid at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Check out other coffins in the hop:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coffin Hop 2014: Post #2: Eerie

Like many words, the meaning of eerie has altered over the centuries. Ask anyone today and they'll likely tell you it describes something mysterious, uncanny, or spine-chilling. We're not quite sure about something eerie. We just know it's strange, not quite right. The first evidence of that meaning—something evoking fear because of its strangeness—is from 1792. Previously, eerie meant someone was timid or affected with superstitious fear. Somehow usage transferred eerie from the victim to the object inspiring the fear. Both meanings are still with us today, though the original meaning lives on chiefly in Scottish areas. If you want to sound clever (or simply confusing), you can employ both meanings in the same sentence: The eerie boy hid behind a bush when he heard the eerie howl.

Eerie (also spelled eery) derives from Middle English eri, which is a north England and Scottish variant of Old English earg, meaning cowardly. Earg comes from Proto-Germanic *argaz, which has cognates in Old Frisian erg (evil), Middle Dutch arch (bad), Old High German arg (cowardly), German arg (wicked), Old Norse argr (unmanly), and Swedish arg (malicious). Interesting how the meanings of the cognates range from something cowardly to something wicked.

The name of the city Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania or the great lake have nothing to do with things mysterious or uncanny. Both names are shortened forms of Erielhonan, a Native American people that lived in the area. The Erielhonan were decimated in wars with the neighboring Iroquois during the 17th century and were eventually absorbed into the Seneca nation.

Don't forget to enter the raffle for my urban fantasy novelette Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale. It's in pre-order mode on Amazon, set for release on Halloween. Enter to win here (Coffin Hop Post #1).

Soul CutterLooking for something creepy to haunt your fall evenings? Jeff recommends Lexa Cain's Soul Cutter, on sale for 99 cents through October.

The Soul Cutter is hunting again.

Seventeen-year-old Élan spends her free time videoing psychic scams and outing them online. Skepticism makes life safe—all the ghosts Élan encounters are fakes. When her estranged mother disappears from a film shoot in Egypt, Élan puts her medium-busting activities on hold and joins the search.

In Egypt, the superstitious film crew sucks at finding her mom. When a hotel guest is killed, whispers start—the locals think their legendary Soul Cutter has come back from the dead. Élan's only ally is Ramsey, a film-crew intern, but he’s arrogant, stubborn—and hiding dangerous secrets.

When Élan discovers the Soul Cutter is no scam, she finds herself locked in a deadly battle against a supernatural killer with more than her mother’s life at stake.

Élan's fighting for her very soul.

From my review: If you're searching for a suspenseful read in an exotic local with a heavy dose of supernatural chills, Soul Cutter is the book for you. Highly recommended.

Check out other coffins in the hop:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Coffin Hop 2014: Post #1

It's that time of year again. There's a chill in the air. The leaves are turning. Many have fallen. The coffins in the blogosphere are creaking open. It's Coffin Hop Time. Coffin Hop is an annual blog tour during the week leading up to Halloween featuring horror-themed posts and contests with various kinds of goodies. Check out the various participants at the bottom of this post. You'll be glad you did.

I'm raffling off two copies of my urban fantasy novelette Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale. It's in pre-order mode on Amazon, set for release on Halloween. Enter to win below. Winners announced on Halloween. Here's the blurb:

Like most children, ten-year old Jimmy wonders where the Tooth Fairy keeps all those teeth. It's a silly question to laugh about. He plays along to get some coins, confident there's no such person. As he and his friends know, their mothers play the role of the Tooth Fairy, but in the middle of the night, Jimmy's world turns upside down. He learns there's more to his mother than he ever imagined, and the Tooth Fairy isn't so harmless.

And look out for a longer-running contest that I plan to announce next week.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Neighborhood WatchLooking for something creepy to haunt your fall evenings? Jeff recommends Neighborhood Watch by Stuart R. West.

It used to be such a nice neighborhood. Derek and his wife Toni were content living in the quiet suburbs of Barton, Kansas. Until the new neighbors moved in. Rude, brash, loud, but there was something more to them. Something Derek couldn't put his finger on. And the older neighbors were dying off at an alarming rate. Were Derek’s past mental issues resurfacing or was he on to a darker truth? And just what is in the basement of the house on Pawnee Lane?

From my review: “I read through Neighborhood Watch avidly. It's fast paced, suspenseful, and creepy. West keeps us guessing about Derek's sanity, a classic unreliable narrator but very likable. After riding Derek's horrific roller coaster, you'll never think of your neighborhood in quite the same way.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Guest Posting Today

I have a guest post up today at Tyrean's Writing Spot. I talk about a few of my favorite October reads. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Give Me Your Teeth Now Available for Pre-Order

My novelette Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale is available for pre-order at Amazon. Release date is Halloween. Add it to your Goodreads to-read list here. Yes, this is a story about the Tooth Fairy, but it's not your mother's Tooth Fairy. This one has teeth, lots of them.

Here's the blurb:

Like most children, ten-year old Jimmy wonders where the Tooth Fairy keeps all those teeth. It's a silly question to laugh about. He plays along to get some coins, confident there's no such person. As he and his friends know, their mothers play the role of the Tooth Fairy, but in the middle of the night, Jimmy's world turns upside down. He learns there's more to his mother than he ever imagined, and the Tooth Fairy isn't so harmless.

Thanks to Lyn Perry and Stuart West for their comments on the manuscript and K. M. Carroll for that awesome cover.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Celebrate The Small Things - 9 October #CTST

It's Friday and time to Celebrate The Small Things (or big things) that happened this week.

If you've commented here in the past couple weeks and haven't received a visit from me, I'm sorry. I'm behind on returning comments. I had a cold which sapped all my energy for a few days, but that bit of badness seems to have gone away.

I have a couple items to celebrate this week. I finished a near-final draft of a long story/novelette and sent it off to a beta-reader. I had expected it to come in around seven to eight thousand words. After adding some scenes and fleshing out others, the final draft came in over ten thousand. I feel better about selling something as a standalone if it's over ten thousand. As soon as I hear back from my beta-reader and do another editing pass over the manuscript, I'll put it up for pre-orders. I already have the cover. The title is Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale.

Here's the cover and a first pass at the blurb.

Like most children, ten-year old Jimmy wonders where the Tooth Fairy keeps all those teeth. It's a silly question to laugh about. He's happy to play along to get some coins, confident there's no such person. As he and his friends know, their mothers play the role of the Tooth Fairy, but in the middle of the night, Jimmy's world turns upside down. He learns there's more to his mother than he ever imagined, and the Tooth Fairy isn't so harmless.

Now I have to decide what to dive into next. Do I start a new project? I have several ideas. Or do I pick an old project and push it to the finish line. I have several of those, too. I also have projects that seem never-ending.

In other news, my narrator for Last Request has made great progress on the recordings, so I'm expecting the audio version to be ready ahead of schedule.

Keep writing and keep hoping. What are you celebrating this week?

Want to join in the fun that is Celebrate The Small Things, sign up here.