Coming Soon: A Second Helping of Shorts

Once upon a time, a certain author received notice that – because publishing is a weird, uncertain animal – all of her short stories released through various Xchyler Publishing anthologies were on the verge of going out of print, and all the rights reverted to her.

As it happened, only half of the prophecy came true. A few days of negotiations among the anthology contributors prevented the removal of the endangered titles from Amazon. Even so (because, like I said: Weird, uncertain animal), her stories’ rights were our author heroine’s, to do with as she wished.

Xchyler Antho Lineup 3

And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

And what I wish is to reprint all four of my short stories first published with Xcyhler – urban legend-esque “Two Spoons” (“Legends and Lore”), fantastically bromantic “Reality As We Know It”  (“The Toll of Another Bell”), eccentric fairy tale “A Mind Prone to Wander” (“Steel & Bone”), and deadly “Date Due” (“Beyond the Wail”) – in a brand new, exclusively Danielle E. Shipley-authored collection.

So that’s what’s gonna happen!

As I type, I have an artist working on the cover I’ve envisioned – no other than the talent behind the faces of “Outlaws of Avalon” 1.5 and 2.5, the charming Hannah Vale. I dug my stories’ files out of the crowded archive that is my authorial past, and have begun organizing them for their new format. And wow, actually looking back at the stuff I wrote up to 4 years ago is weird.

Specifically, it’s weird when the old work’s a short story. With novels and novellas, I have clear memories of writing them. I’ll come to a passage and recall, oh yeah, I was sitting in that spot when I typed it … or I’d been working that job when I scribbled down that plot idea … or that character put up a fuss when I almost said [blah-blah-blah] instead of [yadda-yadda]… The fact that those works were longer made them, by necessity, more of a journey; a struggle; an author-and-muses collaboration. Whereas my Xchyler short stories all pretty much happened like this:

Xchyler anthology contest: “Here, have a general writing prompt.”

Me: “I don’t know if I—”

Me a few minutes/hours/days later: “Never mind, I know. From first line to end, I know.”

Me, over the course of 3 to 10 days: *copies down the fully formed tale onto the laptop*

It’s all over so surreally quick, I barely feel like I’m part of the process. So maybe putting these stories out a second time, all by myself, will be a good bonding experience. Maybe by the end of the project, my heart will better know these four fun-size word babies as my own.

If nothing else, it’ll be something to help tide us all over while we wait for the debut of “So Super Dead” in the fall!

So, stay tuned for the reveal of the collection’s title, cover, and blurb. In the meantime, if YOUR brains have managed better than my defective model to hold onto any interesting memories of short stories, written and/or read by you, feel free to chat about ‘em in the comments!

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Ex-Specter the Unexpected (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Author A. F. Stewart describes her creation thus:

Rob Parker is the town of Ashford’s paranormal expert, aka the town crackpot, and resident expert on the local ‘White Lady/Weeping Woman’ ghost sightings. Tall, brown hair, brown eyes, fiftyish with that ruggedly handsome, good old boy vibe, and an infectious grin. Can also be stubborn, and doggedly pig-headed when pursuing his paranormal investigations. Saw his first ghost at the age of twelve, on a stretch of road between Ashford and the neighbouring town of Maynard Mill, on what the locals dubbed the Haunted Highway. This sparked his lifelong interest in ghostly phenomena. He has one of the largest ghost sighting data bases in the country, and often consults with various paranormal investigative groups. For a day job, he co-owns the local pub eatery, called the Branch and Crown.

“Welcome, Rob!” Will greets the man now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – this ‘Weeping Woman’ ghost of yours… is she hot?”

Rob smiles. “I’m not really into that whole undead romance thing, but yes, our ‘Weeping Woman’ is quite the looker. Dark hair, pale skin, the wet look.” His grin gets a bit wider. “She had all the guys chasing her when she was alive. Now, though… her caterwauling might be a bit off-putting, and well, she’s a bit homicidal, so that’s not the most attractive quality.” He shrugs. “But I don’t judge, if you like that sort of thing.”

Will flaps a dismissive hand. “Pfft, if I let myself get discouraged by everyone who kind of wants to kill me, I’d never get anywhere. A bit of danger’s half the fun, I say! But I know the possibility of a gruesome death doesn’t do it for everyone, so let me ask: What is it about ghosts that so deeply fascinates you?”

Deepening his voice, Rob intones, “You mean besides the fact the dead still walk among us?” He lifts an eyebrow and wiggles it. “Really though, it’s the reasons they stay that intrigue me. What kind of powerful emotions keep a soul tethered past their time? Souls not passing on, or over, or whatever, are messing with the very forces of nature. Heady stuff, that. I can’t help but be fascinated.” A pensive look passes across his face. “Especially after that first ghost. She was so sad. She kept wandering that road trying to get home to her family, to make amends. Of course, her family was dead for fifty years, and she wasn’t ever going home.” He grins, just a bit. “First time I ever crossed over a spirit though, even if she didn’t much like the idea at first. That got the blood pumping, to be sure.”

“I’ll bet it did! Man, I can’t believe more people aren’t clamoring to get in on the excitement with you! Then again, lack of belief is pretty much the trouble, isn’t it? Based on the whole ‘town crackpot’ thing, I’m guessing not a lot of your neighbors take your hobby seriously. Why do you think it is that people are so skeptical of the paranormal?”

Rob snorts. “Most folks don’t want to know the truth. Too afraid. They’d rather ride around in their nice little cars to soccer practice or the gym, pretending there ain’t a world of crazy out there.” He shifts his gaze to just beyond Will’s shoulder for a second, then back to his host with a shake of his head. “Can’t say I blame them. Ghosts ain’t the only thing out there, and some of it is mean. Folks might be better off turning a blind eye. They’ll sleep more sound at night.”

Will shrugs dubiously. “I suppose there’s an argument to be made for blissful ignorance. Kinda just sounds like a shortcut to unpleasant surprises, though. Not knowing an arrow’s coming for you won’t save you from a punctured lung. Possible case in point: I heard something about an ongoing missing persons investigation going on in Ashford, right now. In your semi-professional opinion, is there a ghost somewhere at the bottom of this, or nah?”

Rob’s eyes flash, anger swirling, and his jaw tightens. “Ain’t no question about that. That ghost’s involved up to her soggy eyeballs. Not that I can make certain folks see reason on that front. But sooner or later, it’ll hit the fan.” Rob sighs. “Hope it doesn’t end like that case last month in the next county, though. Never saw that poor soul again. Least in this world.”

Will suppresses a shudder. “Well, here’s hoping the right people see the light before it starts beckoning the wrong souls into the hereafter. One last question before you spirit away, Rob. Tell me, what is your author A. F. Stewart’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He flashes a lively grin. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Rob grins back. “Well now, considering that particular author’s fondness for killing off her characters, there’s no way I’m spilling her secrets, or making her ticked off at me.” He reaches into his pocket, takes out a breath spray and gives himself a spritz. “So pucker up, Will!”

“Boo-yah!” Will jumps up from his seat, takes Rob in his arms, and plants a passionate smackeroo on his lips. “Hey, Allyn,” he draws apart long enough to call behind him, “how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by…

THE WEEPING LADY by A. F. Stewart (“Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”): Eva Douglas must face her mother issues, past and present, when the disappearance of her sister forces a confrontation with a terrifying ghost.

The Weeping Lady 3

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you as well, Rob. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Graphic Paranormal

So, how ‘bout that time “Beyond the Wail” launched and fellow anthology author A. F. Stewart made a heck-ton of amazing graphics? At least one awesome pic per each of the “12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”. Gaze with me…

<<<>>>

OF MICE AND MONSTERS by Tirzah Duncan: Troubled by ghosts within and without, Benjamin struggles to become the man his girlfriend needs instead of the monster he is.

Of Mice and Monsters

[To the tune of “Space Ghost”]: Ghooooooost wiiiiiiiiind!

(Relevant: That time the Stranger Than Truth club reviewed “Of Mice and Monsters” in their, uh, inimitable style.)

<<<>>>

GO GENTLE by Julie Barnson: After the death of her boyfriend, a young musician uses her talents and a fabled violin to stop the fatal accidents at a dead man’s curve.

Go Gentle

Cool colors reminiscent of a ghost’s chill presence.

<<<>>>

DEAD WATER by Amanda Banker: A stalled truck, an abandoned graveyard, and a town not found on any map take two brothers on a detour they’ll never forget.

Dead Water

Don’t follow that road, boys!!!

<<<>>>

COLD SPOT by Jay Barnson: When a laptop is stolen from their computer security company, two high school buddies go to extremes to investigate. But, will they manage to return?

Cold Spot

Love how it moves from a tech-ish image into a total fade-out. Quite story appropriate.

<<<>>>

THE WEEPING LADY by A. F. Stewart: Eva Douglas must face her mother issues, past and present, when the disappearance of her sister forces a confrontation with a terrifying ghost.

When it’s the artist’s own story up at the bat, it’s no surprise if the muse goes wild. Check out these three variations.

The Weeping Lady

The Weeping Lady 2

The Weeping Lady 3

(Not sure I can pick a favorite. Can you?)

<<<>>>

THE POLTERGEIST AND AUNT BETTY by Ginger C. Mann: Aunt Betty is eccentric, but how much is ghost, how much is medication, and how much is just plain crazy?

The Poltergeist and Aunt Betty

If it isn’t the old Hammond Organ!

(Relevant: That time everyone’s favorite Crazy Aunt Betty hit the stage for Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.)

<<<>>>

THE ‘GRIM’ REAPER by L. K. McIntosh: When a soul reaper loses the source of their power, they must either find the witch who stole it or a new purpose for living.

The 'Grim' Reaper

Ahhh, the fateful antiques shop… *nods knowingly*

<<<>>>

SHRINE OF MIRRORS by F. M. Longo: A spy on a mission becomes a believer in the supernatural when the theft of three ancient relics threaten to bring down the empire.

Shrine of Mirrors

Lovely aesthetic. Seems a view Saga Naoki and company would enjoy, no?

<<<>>>

DEAD MAN HOCKING by T.N. Payne: A world-weary zombie learns to beware what you wish for, and not all sure bets are worth the gamble.

Dead Man Hocking

I don’t care if it is only Kyle: If a zombie comes walking out of that fog, I’m completely done.

<<<>>>

SAINT PETER’S FISH by Alex McGilvery: Sam is a walking disaster of biblical proportions, but how much is he willing to sacrifice to escape, and will the Powers That Be allow it?

Saint Peter's Fish

Sure, the water’s calm now… *waits for the oceanic life to monsoon down* Also, I really like what’s going on with the colors in the second row of text.

<<<>>>

THE DIORAMA by Sebastian Bendix: A play set turns life around for Martin Taper, but things take a turn for the worse when he neglects it and the lonely child obsessed with it.

The Diorama

That’s just a straight-up cool little photograph, man. *remembers associated story* *is crept out*

<<<>>>

And then there’s MINE!

DATE DUE by Danielle E. Shipley: A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Date Due graphic

She used the same image in a warmer shade, too, which I also liked, but this library reads as spookier, and I just tend to lean toward bluer tones in general – in life – so this is the one that gets the coveted blog post spot.

(Relevant: That time Ginger C. Mann went on a character walk with my crazy book lady.)

(See also: That other time, when A. F. Stewart’s Richard Dale had a fireside chat with my Elizabeth Young.)

<<<>>>

What do you think, Ever On Wordians? Pretty darn sweet, or nah?

Thanks for the great graphics, A. F.!

(Relevant: The “Beyond the Wail” blog tour is still going, along with its Rafflecopter giveaway. If you haven’t entered yet, get a move on!)

Truly Strange Reviews: “Of Mice and Monsters”

Welcome to the Stranger Than Truth Club Minutes, featuring conversations between me and my closest group of friends – one, my IRL bestie, the rest… a little reality-impaired.

“But what we lack in so-called reality,” Will Scarlet inserts, “we make up for in awesomeness!”

Fact, that.

The way of it is, the Stranger Than Truth Club takes people from all walks of life, universes, times, and species, and brings us together through beautiful, ever-evolving, cross-plane friendships.

I wish I could give you a glimpse into our insightful, loving, hilarious, open community. Unfortunately, I can only give you transcripts of our idiocy.

And so without further ado: Truth is stranger than fiction. We are—

Stranger Than Truth 02

Tirzah: I wrote a story – “Of Mice and Monsters” – published yesterday in “Beyond the Wail”, a paranormal anthology! In my words, my story is about Benjamin, a man who, “troubled by ghosts within and without, struggles to become the man his girlfriend needs instead of the monster he is.” But what are my own words worth? I thought. Wouldn’t it be infinitely more bizarre and confusing— I mean, awesome, to let the Stranger Than Truth club tell it like they see it? And so, beginning with the beginning…

<<<>>>

Of Mice and Monsters: “There is a man who twists the necks of caged mice. There is a coward who fancies himself a warrior. There is a man who squeezes little songbirds in his hand, listening to the helpless cheeping, and supposes himself a bullfighter, a breaker of wild stallions. This is the man that preys on small women and makes them smaller, that crushes a bruised flower until there is naught but the scent; for that helpless scent is incense to his assumed godhood.”

Will: There is a man we are not inviting to hang out with us.

Tirzah: We’ll invite all sorts in here but, yeeeeah, that’s probably not one.

<<<>>>

Danielle: So, Lute, what stood out to you about this story?

Lute: I wasn’t in it.

<<<>>>

Allyn: I wonder what fate befell the mouse. It says its life went downhill. …How far?

Tirzah: To the bottom, I expect.

Allyn: I feel I should speak a eulogy.

<<<>>>

Bruno: Props to Tina for knowing Italian food is king.

Sy: Even if she has trouble making herself eat it. Even if she thinks Olive Garden is representative.

Tirzah: I love how you all immediately hit on the heart of the story. Italian food ambassador – that’s what I was going for.

<<<>>>

Arthur: I, for one, would really like to see “Macbeth: A Comedy”.

<<<>>>

Bedivere: There’s something to be said for Benjamin’s snark-voice. In between him being unbearable, that was fun.

Will: That’s what they’ll be saying about you.

Bedivere: I’m sure that’s what Lancelot’s already saying about me.

<<<>>>

Galahad: It’s reassuring that there was a part of Benjamin willing to stand up to the monster inside him. It may be that not everyone has that, or ignores it to the point where it becomes ineffectual.

<<<>>>

Gawain: Why did she shorten her name to “Tina”? It was what, Margareta?

Tirzah: That’s a mystery I’ll admit to never having solved. Maybe it was her middle name?

Sy: Sir Gawain in da house, comin’ atcha with the DEEP questions!

Straight Outta Camelot

<<<>>>

Lancelot: I suppose congratulations are in order for the wordsmith, since I can’t so much as think about this story without choking on cheap jasmine perfume.

Tirzah: *sensorialy artisanal bow*

<<<>>>

Rosalba: Are you actually familiar with any of those Armored Nights songs, Tirzah?

Tirzah: Actually, I made them up.

Will: Wait, they’re not a band??

Tirzah: Nope. I guess with them being in there with all the actual, legitimate references, it made it look legit. Should I preen?

Danielle: I’m just over here thinking how frustrated I’d be if I tried looking them up on YouTube.

<<<>>>

Edgwyn: One of course feels dreadful about the baby. But then, it’s not as if Benjamin will be ready to behave like a father for a very long time. One hopes he’ll get there eventually, though.

Tirzah: Could be.

<<<>>>

Dalvin: Not to blame Tina or anything, but I just feel like, if there weren’t people like her, the monsters like him would starve.

Bedivere: You mean, when someone says something you don’t like, just smack the hell out of ‘em, and the monsters will be like, “never mind”?

Dalvin: Yeah. Draw a line. Set boundaries. It’s as simple as that. Except… *sighs, glancing at her mother* …I guess it’s not that simple for everyone.

<<<>>>

Sy: Even in my days as a thief lord, I hated that sort of cheap and shoddy emotional manipulation. *shakes his head* I guess I don’t understand the motivation, either. I’d rather be powerful than feel powerful any day. That’s the problem I have with men like that: They feel small, so they find someone smaller and cut them down further still. And I’m like, do you even lift, bro? If you feel small, work on yourself! Not that I’m against cultivating emotional dependence, but—

Danielle: A-a-and that’s the end.

Beyond the Wail, full spread
For more info on the antho, click the pic to check out its page on the Xchyler Pub site!

I See Red-Headed People (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who—” He performs a double take, startling at the belated realization that the chair across from his own is already occupied. “Who-o-o have we here?”

“The creation of author Ginger C. Mann,” says Allyn. “Namely—”

“Betty,” the pudgy, older woman interjects. “My nieces and nephews call me Aunt Betty. But you, handsome… you can just call me Betty.” She bats her eyes coyly at her host.

Ever the professional at rolling with the punches, Will flashes a hospitable grin. “Betty it is! So glad you could join me. First things first – is popping up onstage unannounced right under the nose of security your only gift, or are you a woman of many talents?”

Betty tosses back a head full of thick, red hair and flashes a toothy grin. “I am a br-ILLIANT organist, and I am also a Montessori teacher – or, I was. Then, my husband Timothy died, and the whole world came after me. Every bank in town wanted a piece of my property, my money, my flesh…” She stops talking suddenly and looks over her shoulder as if she hears something. “I’m in the witness protection program,” she whispers directly to the camera. “Don’t tell anyone!”

“I have no doubt our international audience’s lips are sealed,” Will assures her. “Mum’s the word, hey, Allyn?”

Allyn’s voice wafts in from off-camera. “Did you say the banks want your flesh?”

Betty nods emphatically. “It was just fine, just fine, until the day the underworld opened up and spit zombie bankers all over Nacogdoches, Texas! No going out after that happened, not even to play my organ at the Baptist church. I just stayed in that house as long as I could and…” She checks a watch on her wrist, then digs in her purse for something. “I think it’s past my medication time.”

“I was just thinking something similar,” Allyn is heard to murmur. Will waves for him to shush, blinking in bemusement all the while.

Setting down her purse as if she has forgotten what she wanted from it, Betty carries on. “Well, when the zombies took over my house, and the vampires kicked me out of town…”

“Vampires be like,” Will tuts sympathetically.

“I called my niece, Beverly,” Betty continues. “Haven’t seen her for twenty years, but she took me in. So kind of her.”

“I’ll say. Three huzzahs for family you can count on in your time of need! How are you enjoying your stay with your niece so far?”

“Her place is so full – she has three kids! – she put me in a spare room that she made out of a giant pantry. Cute little room, all stringer lights and mirrors in there. But the mirrors work just a little too well.”

Will cocks his head. “How do you mean?”

“I’m seein’ that the place is,” Betty whispers behind her hand, “oc-cu-PIED! I’m roomin’ with a ghost, Will Scarlet, a ghost that lives in my family’s haunted house in Lake Charles, Louisiana.” She pauses, staring at the host, to let this sink in.

“Good Lord,” cries Will. “Zombie bankers, vampires, ghosts… You, Aunt Betty, are positively plagued with the paranormal! The ghost hasn’t tried to eat you or run you across state lines, has it?”

Shaking her head, Betty whispers again, “The ghost likes me, and it follows me around.” She looks over her shoulder. “Everywhere. But my family don’t believe me. Can’t say why.”

A second cough – this one from off-camera – suggests Allyn may be in possession of a theory or two.

“Everyone’s a skeptic,” says Will, with a supportive pat for his guest’s hand. “It’s clear you’ve got a lot to deal with, just now, so I won’t keep you haunting this stage much longer. Just one more question, if you would. Tell me, what is your author Ginger’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret? Or—”

“Ginger?” Betty’s eyes blink as she snaps back to attention. “Oh, you mean the tall woman who is always walking up behind me and listenin’ in? She’s not so bad. We sit out on the porch together, and sometimes she plays duets with me on the organ. Occasionally, she plays with my students. She’s behind me now, in fact. She’s become a friend of sorts, but she’s awfully shifty. Must be what happens after a person dies.”

“Wha—?!” Will startles half out of his chair. “Ginger?! But I thought—”

“Oh right, I forgot to mention that – she’s dead. Dead people are the only ones who actually ‘get’ me, you know. Some of them are hanging out right here, Will Scarlet. My own social club. There’s a banker, an author, a railroad worker, a banjo player.” She whispers behind her hand, “Kinda wish that one would go on ‘into the light,’ know what I’m sayin’? Then there are all of the little kids that want me to teach them somethin’.”

A hair curler flies across the set, followed by another one. “Jimmy! I told you not to throw those things at—” She turns to Will. “Excuse me, you know toddlers, they love hair curlers.”

Betty steps off-camera for a moment. From off-set, her voice drifts in, “And put them back in your bag. We always put our work away. Maria Montessori said—” From the other direction, the sound of a filmy drum track simulates a foxtrot. “Carly! I’m not available for your lesson now, pipe down…!”

She wanders back on set, her thick red hair sticking up at odd angles, looking bewildered. “Oh, hi,” she says to Will Scarlet, “I don’t believe we have met. My name is Betty.”

“Um…” says Will, nonplussed.

With a look of recognition, she snaps her head up hard enough to make the loose flesh on her neck jiggle. “Oh, right! Well, I don’t want to go bragging, but I see folks nobody else ever sees. And I think they like it. Some days, I wish they didn’t. You are awfully understanding too, Mr. Will Scarlet. I mean, it’s like I’ve known you forever. Wait, when did you say you were born? Or did you…” Betty peers at Will Scarlet with increasing curiosity. “Where is your body buried, Mr. Will Scarlet?”

His eyes pop wide open, his face gone white behind a strained smile. Allyn,” he hisses out the side of his mouth. “How the devil does she know I’ve died?”

“Admit nothing,” Allyn hisses back. “Change the subject.”

Will’s focus whips back to Betty, blurting, “Would you like to kiss me?”

“I’ll gladly kiss a man as good looking as you, Mr. Will Scarlet.” Betty’s eyes turn sideways, and she cranes her head to look behind Will Scarlet. “But up until now, I think my student was busy with you. Why don’t you take the curlers out of your hair first?”

“Curlers? What curl— oh.” Having turned toward the live-streaming monitors, Will belatedly notes that his golden-red locks have been somehow rolled into a set of lime green hair curlers.

“On second thought…” Betty puts on a fresh coat of fire-engine red lipstick. “You look great to me. Pucker up!”

“Puckering up.” Will sweeps Betty into his arms, swings her ‘round, and dips her low, calling over her head, “Allyn, how ‘bout a word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, determinedly ignoring anything else taking place on this stage, “was brought to you by Ginger C. Mann’s ‘The Poltergeist and Aunt Betty’ – included in ‘Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss’, launching tomorrow.”

Beyond the Wail, full spread

“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you as well, Betty …and, um, Betty’s ghostly coterie. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Open Journal: Countdown Coma

By the time this post goes live, it’ll be October. For me – this year in particular – that means a lot of things.

It means birthdays – my sister’s (Oct. 1), my other sister’s son’s (Baby Nephew hits 1 year old on the 16th!), and my own (Oct. 30th. I’mma be old. *ducks fruit thrown by the 30-and-over crowd*).

It means adding to my publication list – the “Beyond the Wail” paranormal anthology (Oct. 10th), “The Story’s End (Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales)” (Oct. 13th), and I’m pretty sure another anthology with a story of mine is set to come out in the neighborhood of Halloween, too, but I’m still waiting on the details for that, so everybody stand by.

It means leaving the country – first for a European river cruise with my bestie (is this the real life???), then onto my temporary/permanent residence in Germany, where I will be aforementioned bestie’s (and her husband’s) butler.

I’ve already proved I’ve got the chops! …The only qualifications are looking suspicious during a murder case, right?
I’ve already proved I’ve got the chops! …The only qualifications are looking hella suspicious during a murder case, right?

Boy, do I hope my boxes ship there safe and sound. *freaks out at the prospect of the post office losing HALF MY STUFF*

There’s soooooo much on my horizon that all I can really feel is tired. And stressed (but that’s pretty much a given, for me). And all kinds of out-of-it. Thank God I had the foresight to do most of the planning and prep for my “Story’s End” launch party well in advance, ‘cause I’ve got precious little get-up-‘n’-get-‘er-done left, at this point.

Part of that’s to do with all the editorial work I’ve been doing on Xchyler Publishing projects, lately – hardcore author-brain activity on stories not my own (weeeeeeird), all in between packing for my move and having to do stuff like eat every day.

“That last item isn’t actually supposed to be a chore,” Edgwyn reminds me gently.

Yeah, but it is for me.

So much to do, still only twenty-four hours in a day, minus sleep.

“HA.”

I sleep more nights than not. Hush your face.

“Sleep nights,” Will Scarlet jumps in. “Meaning that whole nocturnal thing didn’t work out, for ya.”

Nah, not for long.

Nocturnal pros:

– Nighttime doesn’t mean bedtime

– Watching Netflix during the hours least plagued by interruptions from family members and tech glitches

Nocturnal cons:

– Daytime means bedtime

– Missing out on hanging with Baby Nephew during the day*

*(Which, I mean, also happens when I’m juggling a dozen looming deadlines at once… and/or marathon phone conversations with the bestie)

– Everyone else in the house is awake, so don’t expect any peace and quiet

What I’d really like is a sleep schedule that doesn’t require sleep, but my body repeatedly yells at me that this is unfeasible. So my new plan has been to basically stay up until I can’t keep my eyes open, then crash.

Edgwyn crosses his arms, his expression his approximation of stern. “That sounds suspiciously like your semi-suicidal plan for life in general.”

Things will be different when I get to Germany. My plate will be much cleared. Heck, I’m even thinking about a blogging break.

“But… but…!” Will cries. “You don’t mean my Fridays?”

You mean like today? <_< Not really bothered about ‘em, dude. Mind you, I don’t plan to disappear from Ever On Word entirely. I’ll still drop in when the mood strikes. ‘Cause I mean, I’ll be in Europe. I intend to have Experiences. I’ll want some kind of record of that. And call me nutty, but I don’t expect I’ll feel much like taking time out of, say, exploring the Black Forest to help you draft frivolous skits.

“Humph.”

“It’s for the greater good, Will,” Edgwyn reminds him. “Who is it who keeps saying the girl needs a vacation?”

Will flaps a hand. “Oh, some hot stud in red. His name escapes me. Wanna call him Will Something, or Something Scarlet…”

Well, the vacation draws nearer. Just a matter, now, of getting through the month…

My wall’s stripped half-naked in the name of art relocation to my future space. Future Me thanks me. Present Me responds, “Blergggh.”
My wall’s stripped half-naked in the name of art relocation to my future space. Future Me thanks me. Present Me responds, “Blergggh.”

A Delightfully Grave Announcement

Ladies, gentlemen, and assorted rogues! It is with great pleasure and no small amount of authorial pride that I present to you the first look at my latest anthology project with Xchyler Publishing.

Aaaand cue the vid!


 

Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”, featuring me – not to mention my best friend, Tirzah Duncan. First soul sisters, now anthology sisters, too. It’s a Christmas miracle! …Or, given the book’s release date of October 10th, nearer to a Halloween miracle.

In celebration of the book’s cover reveal, I’m likewise revealing the related Pinterest board that I’ve been assembling since before I even knew for sure that my own uncanny short story had made the cut. So here – have a little library magic, courtesy of “Date Due”.

Also! It’s only a matter of time until we start sending out advance reader e-copies of the book. If you – yes, YOU, sir/madam/your rogue-ship – would like an early read of “Beyond the Wail” for the low, low price of an honest review, give me a spine-chilling shriek of woe! I’ll die of fright. Or hook you up. One of those. ;D

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