utterly Umbra

Another peek at Eidolon Avenue, due out in early-2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing.

Really looking forward to seeing this book come together. ESPECIALLY the cover! There are some great ideas and some amazing creative back-and-forth going on with that. Sure to be frickin’ amazing. :)

And now, onto Umbra! (pronounced ewm-bra)

There was something living in the walls.

Still wearing her only black dress, a rose taken from the cemetery in one hand, her bright pink backpack in the other, she’d watched the stain in her new bedroom. Round and raised in the middle, like a bubble, it was different than the others.

And it was alive.

She’d known it the moment she’d walked in. Had felt it as she’d turned to put her backpack on the creaky bed. Had expected, when she first saw the stain two weeks ago, to see a face, two eyes, lips, a nose and cheeks and teeth, pushing from the wall.

But there’d only been a wide brown circle. A stain that wasn’t a stain. One that wasn’t long and dark like the others. One that hadn’t dripped from the ceiling to the floor. One that sat alone, removed from the others. Just like her.

“What kind of name is ‘Umbra’?” were the first words Gran had said when the big lady with the onion bagel breath first dropped her off. The State had decided this was where she had to be. With her dad as flat as a pancake under the car in the garage and her mom, after belting back her fifth Jack and Coke of the morning, shredding her throat by eating the glass, she’d had nowhere else to go.

“Worthless cunt never could hold her liquor,” Gran had said with a laugh.

Had she known there’d be a new home, a new school, new classes, and new kids, all making fun of the skinny girl with the boney knees who walked too slow and read too much, she wouldn’t have sorta accidentally wished her folks dead.

A sip of Anniversary

Another little teeny tiny peek at Eidolon Avenue, my new book due out in 2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, one of the top publishers of dark fiction and horror.

Why not? Besides, you’ve already had a glimpse of China followed by a taste of Bullet and then a little Click. Makes sense to take a sip of Anniversary, right?


“I suppose.” Gripping the table’s edge, she hoisted herself back and plopped down into her chair with a deep sigh. “That makes more sense.” The thought rolled through her mind as she reached for her champagne. “Oh, that’s right. I remember. He took a bump to the head, quite a big one, now that I think about it, and knocked himself cold as a cucumber for, oh, how long was it …” A glance down at Benji. “Something like two or three weeks, wasn’t it, dear?”

He ignored her, his eyes on the ceiling above her.

She looked back at Peabody. “Trust me, it was two or three weeks. Just laid there in the hospital bed, dead to the world and snoring like a lumberjack. Took his darn sweet time waking up, too, I gotta say. Found myself envying him toward the end. And then he woke up and …” She shrugged. “Life went back to being life and we went back to messing it all up, time and time again.” She paused. “Though he did seem … I don’t know. Off, I guess. Or somehow different in some way after then. Just not the same.” A small grin for Peabody as she sipped her champagne. “I guess that’s what falling off a cliff will do to you.”

“But that wasn’t the first time,” Peabody said as he placed the champagne back on the table and pulled his salad bowl near.

“Oh no, no. Not at all.” Fork in hand, she tucked into her bowl of watercress. “Now, remember, that was the ten year anniversary. We’d had, oh, I don’t know, maybe …” She stabbed a piece of lettuce as she thought. “I’m not sure, but definitely a few, if not several, tries before then.” She shoved the lettuce in her mouth.

“Really. Several?” Peabody swallowed a bite of salad and then sipped his champagne.

She nodded. “Absolutely. You see, I met my beloved Benji one month – and I was twenty-eight by then, so in the world’s eyes, and that of my family, I was darn near a spinster and utterly without hope – and I married him the next month, and then we spent the next fifty years happily trying to kill each other. By choice.”

“By choice.”

“Of course.” She returned the champagne flute to its place near the untouched glass of chardonnay. “Murder/suicide pacts. One after the other. All of them sincere. All of them determined and, one would hope, well thought out. And all of them ending either dismally or disastrously, take your pick.” She dabbed the napkin to her lips. “Never could get it right.” Napkin in hand, she put her elbows on the table and leaned forward. “And when we got it wrong, boy howdy did we get it wrong.”

“So now it’s Mr. Peabody to the rescue?” The affable stranger, the napkin covering his lap, speared another piece of lettuce.

Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come!!!!  :)

A little Click

Here’s yet another peek at Eidolon Avenue (earlier looks included China and Bullet), a collection of novellas and short stories due out in early-2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, considered one of the best publishers of horror and dark fiction in the business today.

Really looking forward to you guys checking this out. Oh! And did I mention it’s already being circled for adaptation into a TV series? Stay tuned. —

He hip checked the door open and, taking her hand, led her into the apartment.

She stood, her eyes above him, to the walls, the ceiling, as he unbuttoned her rain coat and dragged it away from her shoulders. “Who are they?” she said.

“Huh?” He threw her coat in the hall. “Who? That’s just Brody. Relax.”


“Brody. Brody!” He watched her. “My bud Brody. He’s cool. That is who you’re talking about, right?” He pulled closer.

She shook her head. “No, no, I don’t know.” Her breath grew ragged. “There’s more than one. I don’t like them. Their eyes, they’re dark. Like people, but not people. And their fingers are like scary claws. And the smell, they smell, it’s –” Her cheeks blushed as she fought for breath, her chest rising and falling in quick jerks. “I don’t … I don’t like it.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” he said, cradling her face in his hands. “Relax. You’re okay. We’re just getting out of the rain for a minute, alright?”

“I can smell that thing. Can’t you smell that thing?” Her eyes rolled back in her head as her chin titled up. “Oh my god, Mom, Mom? Help! This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong –”

“Yo!” He gripped her face tighter. “Hey! What’s wrong?” He gave her a quick, violent shake. “Freak! Yo! Answer me!”

“It … won’t … stop … breathing.” She screwed her eyes shut and started to cry.

“That’s you.” She shook her head. “You’re the one breathing, okay?” He stopped her. “You need to settle down. You’re fine.” He lifted the umbrella. “You want this back? Here you go. See? I promised. Take it.”

She opened her eyes, her cheeks stained with tears. She ignored the umbrella.

“You can’t leave.” She sniffled. “It won’t let you.”

“You said I looked like a prince, remember? Remember that?” He forced a smile. “Wanna kiss a prince?”

She shook her head. “I want to leave.”

“Aw, c’mon.” He moved closer, pressing his body against hers. “Just one kiss? When have you ever gotten to kiss a prince, right? One time shot, right here.” A smile. “Yeah?”

Another shake of the head, this one slower, more careful, her eyes on him. She started to cry again, her nose leaking thick streams of snot, her shoulders rising as she hiccupped and sobbed.

“Shhh, shhhh, shhh.” He traced a tear with his thumb, rubbing it into her cheek. “Relax. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”

She caught her breath, her tear-filled eyes watching him. “You lie.”

A glimpse of China

Just a little something from my latest WIP (work in progress) Eidolon Avenue, a collection of novellas and short stories due in early-2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, the top publisher of horror and dark fiction.

For ten years she ruled from her one bedroom in Toronto, leaving for bloody East Berlin when she grew bored and restless. Rome, London, Zurich, Amsterdam followed. An endless parade of butchered bodies and broken dreams trailing her as she, the assassin no one could see, stole away unnoticed and anonymous.

Her ledger in the black, always in the black, she then came to Paris where she settled.

And then stopped.

“My name is Samuel,” he’d said. She’d taken his hand in hers and, together, they’d navigated their way through the puddles dotting the rue Mazarine near Boulevard Saint-Germain. He was Swiss. German Swiss, to be exact. “Dinner?” he’d said. She’d nodded. “A walk?” She’d smiled and agreed. More dinners followed. Phone calls and meetings. Laughter over afternoon cups of coffee. Shared smiles and lingering looks.

His scalp was smooth, his brilliance evident and unapologetic, and his voice could calm her with a single word. He stood tall and straight, offered easy smiles and patient approval, and had a touch that took her breath away.

“I love you,” she said as they strolled the Seine. He smiled, his lips pressing close to linger on her cheek.

“Leave him be,” she said to the shadow. The shadow paused.

“He is precious,” she said as, bouquet in hand, she walked the hall to the judge who would pronounce them man and wife. The shadow stirred.

“What will it take to give him a long life in peace?” she said as she watched her beloved sleep, the comforter brought to his chin. “Whatever is needed, it’s yours.”

Two months later, the first child was taken from her womb.

A taste of Bullet

Coming soon from one of the top publishers of dark fiction and horror, the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing (click link for author bio), here’s the tiniest taste of my current WIP, Eidolon Avenue, a collection of novellas and short stories due out in early-2016.

Can’t WAIT to see the cover for this one.


“Cool tats,” she’d said. It was afternoon. Late afternoon. The sun wasn’t as bright. The shadows were long. And the shop had tossed his ass out. Had gone around the corner to take a leak and then puke the pancakes up by a dumpster.

Shitty stomach couldn’t keep anything down these days.

“Cool tats.” Those were the first words from the girl with the forked tongue. “I’m Eve.” She’d stood near, her eyes sleepy and dark.

“Of course you are,” he remembered saying. He’d wished he had a mint.

Coming closer, she’d dragged her thumb through the puke along his bottom lip. Stuck it in her mouth. Sucked and then smiled.

Fuck yeah. Twisted chicks. Loved ‘em.

“I do tats,” she’d said. Goth chick with a Daddy’s Girl Gone Bad vibe. Hair fifty shades of black. Bangs chopped with a razor. Big eyes rimmed with black. Skin as pale as ice with dark blue smeared on her lips. Metal in her ears, nose, chin. Her small white teeth chewing the bright blue from her stubby nails.

Tiny and thin, her nipples poking from a thin tank that ended right below her tits, she stood there with a skirt the size of a bandaid and legs like a fuckin’ Halloween skeleton. The kind you’d stick in your yard and take down right before Thanksgiving. Only this one wore thick blue socks and battered combat boots.

What he wouldn’t give to see those boots up by her fuckin’ ears.

“You do tats?” His stomach had moved again.



“Where do you want it?” She’d taken the fingers from her mouth and stuck ‘em down the front of her skirt.

He’d puked.

He turned over and pushed his face into the mattress. The rest was just dark. Clouds and confusion. Walking nowhere. Talking about nothing. The feel of her arm around his waist. Her thin hair in his fist as she gripped his cock through his faded jeans. Night falling. The sound of sirens. The whirling flash of red in the dark. The chill in the air. His face hot. His bones cold. His muscles seizing. His heart racing. The air like knives stabbing his lungs as he tried to breathe. Trying to act like everything was okay when he knew something was very wrong.

facing the sinister unexpected

From here on out, whenever I’m asked why I insist on combing horror with history, I’m pointing people to this guest post I wrote for the release of Proseuche.

But the humanity of who we are is the same. That’s a constant. The petty thievery of politicians. The lies husbands tell wives, and wives tell husbands. The dreams children dare to dream about their future. The frustration we have with Them, whether that Them is the wealthy or politicians or annoying neighbors.

And the monsters. We can’t forget about the monsters. Even those that look and talk and act like us. Those are the same, too. The fear of the unknown. The pit in the stomach one feels at the sight of a deep, dark shadow. Though separated by millennia, the quiet terror that makes our hearts thump when faced with a sinister unexpected never changes.

This is why horror works so well in a historical context. This is why I’m driven to take my dark fiction out of the comfort of this contemporary Here and Now and toss it to the wolves of 3rd century Antioch or 1st century Jerusalem.

You can read the rest over here. Enjoy! :)

Who am I without my ghosts?

Blog tours can be tough.

On the one hand, you’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to introduce your work to (hopefully) thousands of new eyes. On the other hand, you find yourself navigating the same questions in the same interviews time and time again. Or struggling to convince your tired brain — which is probably still in shock from writing eighty thousand words and then turning right around to edit and rewrite those same eighty thousand words — to come up with an awesome, amazing, incredible Guest Blog Post.

Well, I don’t always hit a homer, but this is one of the few times I swung for the bleachers and won. Here’s an excerpt:

For a moment, I’d forgotten who he was, this Martuk. Had forgotten about his birth in the sun-blasted Zagros mountains one thousand years before Christ. Had forgotten the centuries he’d seen. The bloody chaos he’d caused and the agony he’d endured. Reminded myself that this was a man who’d had a long life, a long immortality, even before something as unremarkable as a cup of coffee even existed.

I gave him a moment. “If I may, why the second book?” I said. “Why Proseuche? Was it something as simple as the story continuing?”

“Nothing’s that simple.” He finished his espresso in one final swallow, his finger raised to order a second. A small nod from me, and a second finger lifted to indicate two. “Writing doesn’t excorcise the ghosts. It emboldens them.”

“So why write?”

A moment of silence followed by a brief shrug. “Who am I without my ghosts? In this world that changes yet remains the same, they are one of my few constants. Their anger, their rage. Their fear and regret and sorrow. These things, I know them. They are familiar. Even here, even now, they walk with me.

“They are amaranthine. A word I now love, by the way,” he said with a grin. “Endless and forever and constant.”

Lesson? When in doubt, take Martuk out for coffee where he’ll most surely talk about Proseuche.