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Friday, October 30, 2015

Welcoming Mark Cassell, Dark Fantasy and Horror Author With A New Release

Happy Halloween. Fellow Professional Authors' Group member Mark Cassell is the perfect person to help celebrate this spooky weekend. We're changing to back to Eastern Standard Time this weekend, and the darkness will come earlier and stay later. It's good for dark fiction writers, but bad for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Mark is releasing his short story collection Sinister Stitches today!

Twelve horror stories weave truths you do not want to hear. The collection includes:

Intensive Scare – Three teenagers dabble in the occult and learn there's a good reason to be afraid of the dark.
Red, White and Black – When a clinical trial goes horribly wrong, a lone survivor finds herself fleeing from a sentient infection.
Meeting Mum – Introducing a new girlfriend to your parents has never been so problematic.
Midnight Clay – An otherwise pleasant homeward journey is interrupted by a demon with a particularly grotesque skill.

Each story binds the Shadow Fabric mythos tighter, revealing that everything around us is entwined with a deep-rooted darkness. And sometimes that darkness — the fabric — tears.
From the story collection, Sinister Stitches, here’s an excerpt from “Midnight Clay”.

As though the moonlight pushed him along, Owen freewheeled down the hill. The wind bit into his face, froze his knuckles. Often summer nights were like this, especially with a cloudless sky. If only he hadn’t left his coat back at Jimmy’s house.
A rumble in the distance, almost a howl, snatched his attention to the bend up ahead. He steered closer to the edge of the lane. He and Jimmy had an awesome evening; the new Dungeons and Dragons role-play game had stolen the day away. Before they’d realised it, night had fallen and Owen was late. Jimmy had beaten him with some lucky dice rolls.
The next game, Owen thought, would be war.
The rumble intensified; a vehicle approached at speed, still unseen. Perhaps a truck or lorry. Having cycled this route many times, he knew the lane was wide enough even if he did meet something that large. Still, he kept close to the grass verge.
Once more, his thoughts wandered to the game. Luck or not, next time he’d outsmart Jimmy.
Further ahead, along the winding road and through the trees, headlights forced back the darkness. Air-brakes hissed. A lorry, definitely, and it approached the bend without slowing.
Owen jammed on the brakes, the back wheel whirring on the tarmac.
He jerked to a halt.
The vehicle tore into the bend. Tyres screeched and juddered and groaned in protest. The trailer tilted, jack-knifed, and tipped. Something sleek, a silhouette against the night sky, leapt from the roof with what looked like enormous wings and too many limbs. Whatever it was, Owen had the fleetest glimpse as he threw himself sideways, dragging his bike. He rolled into the bushes, twigs and branches raked his hands and face. The lorry cleaved the tarmac, roaring like a metal dragon and uprooting trees and foliage, mud and earth.
His heart pounded in his throat.
After that there was silence, save for the creak of a buckled trailer wheel. And voices. Faint echoes on the wind from somewhere in the darkness. Not near the lorry but further away in the fields. Imagination surely; adrenaline from witnessing the crash. Imagination, too, had made him see that great…creature?
Entirely in his head.
He pushed himself up and staggered onto the road. The underside of the metal hulk loomed over him. A clump of mud and tangled brambles fell from the buckled wheel. Tiny glass beads covered the road, each one glinting moonlight.
If only he hadn’t left his phone in his coat pocket, back at Jimmy’s.
“Hello?” he called, heading for the cab.
No one answered…

Buy Link
Buy link
Welcome Mark! Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I’m a British horror writer and live in a sleepy village that often inspires my sinister stories.

Do you write full time?
Not quite. Always a storyteller, it wasn’t until I became a driving instructor that I found the time to learn the craft of writing. Once established as an instructor, I began to take my stories much more seriously. These days though, I write more than I instruct.

What are your writing inspirations?
Open spaces inspire me, whereas tower blocks give me writer’s block. I am most definitely happy when surrounded by trees, and after I moved to the countryside The Shadow Fabric unravelled.

How did you come to write this story?
The title had been with me for 20 years and by the time my short fiction gained success, I knew I had to tackle a novel. I was ready.

Is this book part of a series?
Absolutely. The mythos has expanded, and that struck me entirely by surprise. After The Shadow Fabric was published, my leftover scribbles weren’t only the frayed ends I’d suspected but had potential for growth. One tale recently won a competition with Dark Chapter Press, but most became stories for Sinister Stitches, a collection I set for release on Halloween.

Tell us a bit about the characters.
Leo, the main character from The Shadow Fabric, stars in a short story from the collection. Always driven by a determination to learn what in hell is going on, he’s also desperate to uncover his own roots. The Shadow Fabric itself, a sentient force that controls the darkness, is at the core of every mythos story and I guess you could say it’s a character in itself. A malevolent one at that.

What project will you be working on next?
2016 sees the expansion of the steampunk universe that began as a short story for Rayne Hall’s Cogwheels anthology. I’ve already posted a few teaser flash fiction pieces on my blog.

One surprising or interesting fact about yourself.
A family tradition from my mum’s side, the Harmers, is to enter a fancy dress competition as a toffee. At about the age of nine it was my turn. I couldn’t walk up on stage because of the costume’s awkward design, and so my dad had to lift me up the steps. I came second place to a robot. My Sci-Fi stories featuring Alpha Beta Gamma Kill may suggest I harbour a deep-rooted resentment.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself or your writing?

My work, whether steampunk or fantasy, is always dark. Sure there’s blood but the horror I write isn’t mankind’s horrors, not the hack’n’slash type, but the supernatural, the paranormal, anything on the other side. It’s the unknown horrors behind the veil that has always fascinated me.

That's my favorite kind. I can't wait to read the collection.  I hope to meet up with you, Jonathan and Rayne on my next trip to the UK.

Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and Sci-Fi stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. Rayne Hall has included his work in three of her Ten Tales anthologies: Fiery Beasts, Cogwheels, and Fiends, and also a Shadow Fabric mythos story can be found in April Grey’s Hell’s Garden anthology. His flash fiction often features in the popular ezine, Sirens Call, and he writes a series for the Sci-Fi ezine, Future Chronicles, in which we follow the adventures of Alpha Beta Gamma Kill. His upcoming short story collection, Sinister Stitches, is only a fraction of an expanding mythos that began with his debut novel, The Shadow Fabric.

The Shadow Fabric:
Sinister Stitches (pre-order):
Twitter: @Mark_Cassell

Introducing Professional Authors Group Member Phillip Stevens: Author of Raising Hell

Continuing on the spooky Halloween theme, I'm pleased to introduce Phillip Stevens one of the newest member of the Professional Author's Group.

"Punchy and grammatically flawless…Stephens mastered the one liner."
Raising Hell Kindle

A clueless optimist ruins a perfectly good hell.

Lucifer rules hell with a vice grip. Demons and damned scatter at the sound of his foot steps. The Supreme Butt In hasn’t pestered him in eons. Lucifer’s future looks pitch black, until an administrative error sticks him with an an incurable optimist who who believes he must be in hell to do good.

Pilgrim makes the best of the worst possible experiences. He makes Pollyanna seem like a prophet of doom. Even worse, the damned start catching on, and set about making hell into the most enjoyable place of everlasting torment they can.


“Wouldn’t you admit that there are times when things just spin completely out of control and create this huge mess?” Pilgrim asked. “And when all these things happen, the only thing you can do is wait for them to end and then clean up the mess or leave it lying around to annoy you?

“I mean a really nasty mess. Something stinking and obnoxious. But you can mean it metaphorically too. You can’t deny those situations happen, can you? I mean, you might say my being here is one of those situations, couldn’t you?”

Lucifer drummed his fingers on the desk.

“Think about what happened to you, sir. You think God should maybe give you a little bit bigger piece of the pie, right? Maybe stop acting so high and mighty, right? So you share your opinion with a couple of other angels, and BAM…”

He slapped his hands together, startling Byron who dropped a pen which, in turn, spilled ink on the rug.

Pilgrim didn’t skip a beat. “… Before you know it, you’re cast out of heaven and left to run this shit hole. I mean, wouldn’t that be one of the situations I’m describing?”

“You could be right,” Lucifer admitted as he imagined a list of new hells he could create just for this soul.

“Well, there you go, sir. If those situations exist, then we need a word to describe them.”

Lucifer didn’t like where this was going. He rolled his eyes and waved his hand at the pitiful soul to get on with it, to get to the bottom line.

“Shit’s that word. And it’s a pretty good word when you get right down to it. Short and to the point. You get it out right away. Then you’re done with it.”

“Are you coming to a point? Or do you intend to endlessly endorse the efficacy of excrement?”

“That was my point.”

Lucifer continued to drum his fingers. Wisps of smoke drifted from the desk where his fingertips hammered at the surface.

“How about this then? Is it a sin to use this perfectly good word to describe those perfectly awful situations? Or is it a sin to have all these awful situations and also have this perfectly good word to describe them, but send everyone to hell when they use it?”

Lucifer stared at Pilgrim. He imagined Pilgrim’s pink flesh oozing through the meat grinder’s holes. He found himself totally unable to answer.

“Does that mean you see my point?”

Lucifer snapped out of his fugue and kicked his desk at Pilgrim, toppling him from his chair. “See your point?” he shouted. “Of course I don’t see your point. That has to be the most half-assed, cock-eyed, ill conceived, pinheaded idea I’ve heard in an eternity of listening to half-assed, cock-eyed, ill conceived, pinheaded ideas.”

He ripped a whip from his exotic weapons collection and flayed Pilgrim with it, over and over again, laughing maniacally as the flesh and blood splattered on his carpet like paint on a Jackson Pollock canvas. “What do you think of your half-assed, cock-eyed, ill conceived, pinheaded idea now?”

Pilgrim brushed himself off, picking off some of the larger, looser pieces of skin with his finger, and said, “I think you’re afraid to admit I’m right, so you’re punishing me to save face.”

Lucifer cracked the whip against the desk and shouted, “Afraid to admit I’m right?”

“It’s not a criticism, sir.”

Lucifer felt veins three through twelve pop. Then he blew his carotid artery. “I’ll show you saving face,” he said. He spread his wings and hurdled over his desk, grabbing Pilgrim between his claws. He lashed Pilgrim with his tail and kicked him with his hooves until Pilgrim parts lay scattered across the floor and his own fury sated.

Lucifer kicked his desk. “Shit,” he shouted. He kicked it several more times, shouting, “Shit! Shit! Shit!” He thumped his tail on the floor several times, shaking the paintings and the books on the shelves. Then he remembered he was wearing his good toreador pants.

He slipped them off and found a huge split down the back seam where his tail sliced through. “Shit,” he shouted, throwing his pants into the fire. He kicked the bookshelves, shouting “Shit! Shit! Shit!” until every book in the shelves fell out, pounding him on the head, shoulders and wings.

Dazed, Lucifer finally managed to get a grip on his temper. He inspected the pile of books on the floor and his cracked cloven hoof. He could think of only one word that would truly express what he felt at that moment. “Shit,” he said to himself.

Then he said it again.

I forsee a humorous read here.
Do you write full time? If not, what is your "other occupation?"

My wife Carol and I both retired and I write when I'm not socializing cats for adopted homes.

Aw, that is wonderful. I have a rescue cat--and have rescued many.
What are your writing inspirations?

I don't wait for inspiration. I write. If I waited, I would still be talking about the novel I intend to write.

How did you come to write this story?

I modeled hell after the modern workplace. At one time I had a notebook filled with e-mails from supervisors that made Lucifer's schemes and outbursts seem sane by comparison.

Ah, yes, hell as the modern workplace. Is this book part of a series?

I occasionally revisit the characters and I encourage readers to add stories and art work to build on the storyline. I wrote a novella, The Worst Noel, and a short story, The Helleluljah Trail to promote the paperback release. People who download the free story will find a code good for $4 off through October and $2 through November.

If I can convince people to contribute stories about my characters or new characters, I'll post the best on and hopefully publish them in an anthology. Then I hope to do a deluxe eBook re-release.

If not, what project will you be working on next?

My next book Seeing Jesus is already available for pre-order on Kindle.

My character, Sara Love, adjusts to small town life where she sticks out like a huge blemish on a teenager's cheek. Her father never takes her side because he's too busy schmoozing the other parents to make sales. She meets a homeless man no one else sees and they strike up a friendship that teaches her to see a bigger world than others see.

As if we really need more, tell us one surprising or interesting fact about yourself.

I Tweet an hour of original comedy content at least six nights a week on Twitter.

Ok, folks, You're gonna love this bio!

Phillip T. Stephens' parents found him behind a headstone while necking in a grave yard on Halloween. Turning up with an infant so scandalized their Baptist families that they married within the week. The newlyweds were so poor, the infant author slept in a carved out Jack-o-lantern until his fourth birthday, drinking pumpkin milk instead of formula and eating pumpkin seeds for cereal.

He painted his first story on the kitchen wall at soon after, a crude drawing in fecal matter of his mother beating his father to death with the family Bible. The incident never happened, but the toddler expressed his mother's inner rage at his minister father so well, the family immediately recognized his destiny as a story-teller. They spanked him anyway.

As did his school teachers, Sunday School teachers, principals, grandparents, aunts and uncles. But as he cried himself to sleep from his dog bed in the closet the night of his punishment, the young author heard his parents and family laughing over his latest outrageous story. Which is why, after failing as Kentucky Fried Chicken clerk, Kerbey Vacuum salesman, cigarette phone salesman for Scientology and lawn maintenance engineer, Stephens finally started writing.

He currently rescues cats with his wife Carol for

Find  Phillip at


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Join the Broad Universe Full Moon Book Tour, Sample Great Reads, and Win Great Prizes

Promoting Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Written by Women


Thank you for stopping by to celebrate the Broad Universe Full Moon Blog Hop, which is celebrating the spookiest of holiday seasons by featuring the work of its members. In addition to a chance to win incredible prizes, this is an opportunity to find a great read--and with the variety you are sure to find something you'll love.

Broad Universe does not limit its membership to women, but its a place for female speculative fiction writers to network and support each other. I first met Terri Bruce back in 2012 while participating in a paranormal themed book release. April Grey has been a great writing friend to me for many years. And fans just love the Rapid Fire Readings by Broads at cons all over the world.

I write paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The Ultimate Test a short story, is part of the Mocha Memoirs Press Toil, Trouble, and Temptation Anthology.  The Unfinished Business Series is contracted with Soulmate, and the prequel to The Widow'sWalk will be out this spring. You can read a preview of Breakwater Beach in Haunted; Ten Tales of Ghosts. What are my writing inspirations and why do I write in the speculative genres? Read about it here

Mike and Liz Keeny are newlyweds, new parents, and the proprietors of the Barrett Inn, an 1875 Victorian on Cape Cod, which just happens to be haunted. By their own ghosts. The Inn had become an annex of Purgatory, putting Mike, Liz, and their infant son in danger. Selling the historic seaside bed and breakfast was the only answer, one that Liz and her own tortured specter refused to consider. Were they doomed to follow the same path that led to disaster in their previous lives? Was getting out, getting away, enough?

Liz Levine is convinced her recently deceased husband is engineering the sequence of events that propels her into a new life. But it’s sea captain Edward Barrett, the husband that died over a century ago, who has returned to complete their unfinished business. Edward’s lingering presence complicates all her plans and jeopardizes a new relationship that reawakens her passion for life and love. What are Captain Barrett’s plans for his wife, and for the man who is the new object of her affections?

Read an excerpt.  
Subscribe for a PDF download of Haunted.

Buy Link

                                 The sweet, floral essence of magic swirled through the botánica. Candles flickered in front of a riot of statuary.
"Muy buenas, mi amor." A shriveled woman hoisted herself from a chair in the corner and hobbled over.
"Hola, Señora." Aramis handed over a list of the herbs she needed.
 "¿Tu eres santera?" The woman's gnarled finger traced down the list. Her eyes narrowed to read the tight English script.
"No. I study herbology. Las plantas." 
One who use these do more than study, mi amor." The lines in the crone's face deepened with a broad smile. "Una bruja, tu estas.


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