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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Excerpt: Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry

Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead
by Jonathan Maberry
September 1, 2021
341 pages
“A big, meaty feast of classic zombie thrills.”—Isaac Marion, New York Times bestselling author of Warm Bodies

From the New York Times bestselling author of Ink, the Rot and Ruin series, and the creator of V-Wars.

The undead walk. Vicious, relentless, and never tiring.


And the dead have their stories.

Bram Stoker Award winner Jonathan Maberry is a master of the zombie tale. Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead is emotionally charged and disturbing. These stories range across the genres of horror, science fiction, and biological thriller without ever straying from the fascinating humanity at the core.

Together in a single action-packed collection, these 15 gritty tales of the living dead span Maberry's career, including an exclusive never-before-published short story.

Read them now. If you dare.

The soldier lay dead.


But not entirely.

And how like the world that was.

Mostly dead. But not entirely.

He was buried.

Not under six feet of dirt. There might have been some comfort in that. Some closure. Maybe even a measure of justice.

He wasn’t buried like that. Not in a graveyard, either. Certainly not in Arlington, where his dad would have wanted to see him laid to rest. And not in that small cemetery back home in California, where his grandparents lay under the marble and the green cool grass.

The soldier was in some shit-hole of a who-cares town on the ass-end of Fayette County in Pennsylvania. Not under the ground. Not in a coffin.

He was buried under the dead.

Dozens of them.

Hundreds. A mountain of bodies. Heaped over and around him. Crushing him down, smothering him, killing him.

Not with teeth, though. Not tearing at him with broken fingernails. That was something, at least. Not much. Not a fucking lot. And maybe there was some kind of cosmic joke in all of this. He was certain of that much. A killer of men like him killed by having corpses piled on top of him. A quiet, passive death that had a kind of bullshit poetry attached to it.

However Sam Imura was not a particularly poetic man. He understood it, appreciated it, but did not want to be written into it. No thanks.

He lay there, thinking about it. Dying. Not caring that this was it, that this was the actual end.

Knowing that thought to be a lie. Rationalization at best. His stoicism trying to give his fears a last handjob. No, it’s okay, it’s a good death.

Except that was total bullshit. There were no good deaths. Not one. He had been a soldier all his life, first in the regular army, then in Special Forces, and then in covert ops with a group called the Department of Military Sciences, and then freelance as top dog of a team of heavily armed problem solvers who ran under the nickname the Boy Scouts. Always a soldier. Pulling triggers since he was a kid. Taking lives so many times and in so many places that Sam had stopped counting. Idiots keep a count. Ego-inflated assholes keep count. A lot of his fellow snipers kept count. He didn’t. He was never that crazy.

Now he wished he had. He wondered if the number of people he had killed with firearms, edged-weapons, explosives, and his bare hands equaled the number of corpses under which he was buried.

There would be a strange kind of justice in that, too. And poetry. As if all of the people he’d killed were bound to him, and that they were all fellow passengers on a black shipping sailing to Valhalla. He knew that was a faulty metaphor, but fuck it. He was dying under a mountain of dead ghouls who had been trying to eat him a couple of hours ago. So…yeah, fuck poetry and fuck metaphors and fuck everything.

Sam wondered if he was going crazy.

He could build a case for it.


He heard himself say that. A word. A statement. But even though it had come from him, Sam didn’t exactly know what he meant by it. No, he wasn’t crazy? No, he wasn’t part of some celestial object lesson? No, he wasn’t dying?


He said it again, taking ownership of the word. Owning what it meant.


I’m not dead.

No, I’m not dying.

He thought about those concepts, and rejected them.

“No,” he growled. And now he understood what he was trying to tell himself and this broken, fucked up world.

No. I’m not going to die.

Not here. Not now. Not like this. No motherfucking way. Fuck that, fuck these goddamn flesh-eating pricks, fuck the universe, fuck poetry two times, fuck God, fuck everything.

Fuck dying.

“No,” he said once more, and now he heard himself in that word. The soldier, the survivor, the killer.

The dead hadn’t killed him, and they had goddamn well tried. The world hadn’t killed him, not after all these years. And the day hadn’t killed him. He was sure it was nighttime by now, and he wasn’t going to let that kill him, either.

And so he tried to move.

Easier said than done. The bodies of the dead had been torn by automatic gunfire as the survivors of the Boy Scouts had fought to help a lady cop, Dez Fox, and some other adults rescue several busloads of kids. They’d all stopped at the Sapphire Foods distribution warehouse to stock up before heading south to a rescue station. The dead had come hunting for their own food and they’d come in waves. Thousands of them. Fox and the Boy Scouts had fought their way out.

Kind of.

Sam had gone down under a wave of them and Gipsy, one of the shooters on his team, had tried to save him, hosing the ghouls with magazine after magazine. The dead fell and Sam had gone down beneath them. No one had come to find him, to dig him out.

He heard the bus engines roar. He heard Gipsy scream, though he didn’t know if it was because the hungry bastards got her, or because she failed to save him. Impossible to say. Impossible to know unless he crawled out and looked for her body. Clear enough, though, to reason that she’d seen him fall and thought that he was dead. He should have been, but that wasn’t an absolute certainty. He was dressed in Kevlar, with reinforced arm and leg pads, spider-silk gloves, a ballistic combat helmet with unbreakable plastic visor. There was almost no spot for teeth to get him. And, besides, Gipsy’s gunfire and Sam’s own had layered him with actual dead. Or whatever the new adjective was going to be for that. Dead was no longer dead. There was walking and biting dead and there was dead dead.

Sam realized that he was letting his mind drift into trivia. A defense mechanism. A fear mechanism.

“No,” he said again. That word was his lifeline and it was his lash, his whip.


He tried to move. Found that his right hand could move almost ten inches. His feet were good, too, but there were bodies across his knees and chest and head. No telling how high the mound was, but they were stacked like Jenga pieces. The weight was oppressive but it hadn’t actually crushed the life out of him. Not yet. He’d have to be careful moving so as not to crash the whole stinking mass on them down and really smash the life out of him.

It was a puzzle of physics and engineering, of patience and strategy. Sam had always prided himself on being a thinker rather than a feeler. Snipers were like that. Cold, exacting, precise. Patient.


When he began to move, he felt the mass of bodies move, too. At first he thought it was simple cause and effect, a reaction of limp weight to gravity and shifting support. He paused, and listened. There was no real light, no way to see. He knew that he had been unconscious for a while and so this had to be twilight, or later. Night. In the blackness of the mound he had nothing but his senses or touch and hearing to guide every movement of hand or arm or hip. He could tell when some movement he made caused a body, or a part of a body, to shift.

But then there was a movement up to his right. He had not moved his right arm or shoulder. He hadn’t done anything in that quadrant of his position. All of his movements so far had been directed toward creating a space for his legs and hips to move because they were the strongest parts of him and could do more useful work longer than his arms or shoulders. The weight directly over his chest and what rested on his helmet had not moved at all.

Until they did.

There was a shift. No, a twitch. A small movement that was inside the mound. As if something moved. Not because of him.

Because it moved.

Oh, Jesus, he thought and for a moment he froze solid, not moving a finger, hardly daring to breathe, as he listened and felt for another twitch.

He waited five minutes. Ten? Time was meaningless.



Another movement. Up above him. Not close, but not far away, either. How big was the mound? What was the distance? Six feet from his right shoulder? Six and a half feet from his head? Something definitely moved.

A sloppy, heavy movement. Artless, clumsy. But definite. He could hear the rasp of clothing against clothing, the slither-sound of skin brushing against skin. Close. So close. Six feet was nothing. Even with all of the dead limbs and bodies in the way.

About the author:

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, anthology editor, and comic book writer. His vampire apocalypse book series, V-WARS, was a Netflix original series. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and action; and he writes for adults, teens and middle grade. His works include the Joe Ledger thrillers, Ink, Glimpse, the Rot & Ruin series, the Dead of Night series, The Wolfman, X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate, Mars One, and many others. Several of his works are in development for film and TV. He is the editor of high-profile anthologies including The X-Files, Aliens: Bug Hunt, Out of Tune, New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Baker Street Irregulars, Nights of the Living Dead, and others. His comics include Black Panther: DoomWar, The Punisher: Naked Kills and Bad Blood. His Rot & Ruin young adult novel was adapted into the #1 comic on Webtoon, and is being developed for film by Alcon Entertainment. He is a board member of the Horror Writers Association, the president of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, and the editor of Weird Tales Magazine. He lives in San Diego, California. Find him online at

Book Review: My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw
By Stephen Graham Jones
August 31, 2021
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Genre: Native American Literature, horror
ISBN: 9781982137649 Hardcover 
ISBN: 9781982137632
“Some girls just don’t know how to die…”

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

My Heart is a Chainsaw is a homage to slasher films and their fans. The heroine, Jade Daniels, is a young adult gothish fan of slasher and horror films. These films are her escape from her traumatic past. She is half Native American--Blackfeet and caucasian. 

    Letha Mondragon, the daughter of a wealthy real estate developer, starts attending Jade's high school. After a couple of possible murders turn up, Jade believes a slasher is in town and that Letha will be the “final girl.”A final girl is the last girl standing after a serial killer has killed everyone else. The final girl will either defeat the killer or survive until the next movie when the killer returns. 

My Heart is a Chainsaw is Friday the 13th meets Scream mashing up with Mean Girls and Sixteen Candles. Stephan Graham Jones wrote an interesting character. Jade feels she is more antihero than final girl material. But it is Jade who draws me in, making me see beneath the goth makeup and colored hair to the true final girl. Then toss in a good story and the author completly hooked me into wanting to read the book to the end.

I gave My Heart is a Chainsaw 5 slasher sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Stephen Graham Jones is the author of sixteen and a half novels, six story collections, a couple of standalone novellas, and a couple of one-shot comic books. Stephen’s been an NEA recipient, has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, a Bram Stoker Award, four This is Horror Awards, and he’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. He’s also made Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels, and is the guy who wrote Mongrels. Next up are The Only Good Indians (Saga) and Night of the Mannequins ( Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Excerpt: The Midnight Man by Kevin Klehr

The Midnight Man
by Kevin Klehr
August 30, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64890-357-1
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Category: Literary/Genre Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Magic Realism
Word Count: 52,200
Orientation: Gay
If you met your dream lover, would you ever stay awake?

Stanley is almost fifty. He hates his job, has an overbearing mother, and is in a failed relationship. Then he meets Asher, the man of his dreams, literally in his dreams.

Asher is young, captivating, and confident about his future—everything Stanley is not. So, Asher gives Stan a gift. The chance to be an extra five years younger each time they meet.

Some of their adventures are whimsical. A few are challenging. Others are totally surreal. All are designed to bring Stan closer to the moment his joyful childhood turned to tears.

But when they fall in love, Stan knows he can’t live in Asher’s dreamworld. Yet he is haunted by Asher’s invitation to “slip into eternal sleep.”

The alarm clock ticked loudly at the side of their bed, and while Francesco snored like a buzz saw clearing a rain forest, Stanley lay awake. It wasn’t his partner who was the cause of his insomnia for Stanley could doze through the wildest storm. In fact, Stanley was sound asleep only ten minutes prior until he thought he heard someone whisper in his ear.

The arms of his alarm clock inched their way toward the number twelve. He sat up and, shortly after, stood and took his dressing gown from the bed post. He remembered hearing the word “eternal” in the sentence that was murmured to him, but the rest of the phrase was hazy.

Numerous cats meowed in unison. Stanley was unnerved. He strode to the living room and casually opened the curtain. Several feline gangs gathered on the front lawn.

An eerie wind shook the trees as the cats strolled to the centre of the garden.

Stanley studied the sky. Not a star in sight. Nor was there a cloud above, so the lack of any sign of the universe made no sense. He pondered the end of humanity before concerning himself with his morbid train of thought. The voice whispered again, and Stanley instantly felt drowsy. He sauntered back to the bedroom and fell on top of the sheets.

In his slumber, his dreams began, and in this personal movie he sat at a small round table in a circular room. A crimson curtain wrapped itself around the space.

A crisp white tablecloth fell just above his knees and embossed on a shiny gold card in the middle of his table were the words RESERVED. THE MIDNIGHT MAN.

There were other tables too. All with the same small card and all with either a mature-aged man or woman sitting at them. The only difference was, each of these people were dining and chatting with a younger male companion.

He noted the dress code. Every man, young or old, sported a dinner suit. Stanley also wore one. Each lady was adorned in a stylish black dress.

“Excuse me, sir.” Stanley looked up. A tall waiter with a quaint moustache addressed him. “I’m sorry to say your Midnight Man is running late.”

“Okay,” he replied, mumbling.

With time to spare, Stanley picked up the card. He gazed at it, giving the appearance it aroused his curiosity, but he was actually eavesdropping. He eased back in his chair to listen to the woman who was sitting behind him.

“Interesting conversation?” This questioning voice startled Stanley, but boy, was it sexy. Its honey-rich timbre could invite you to a murder and you’d stay under its spell until the moment the knife was placed in your hand. Stanley looked up to see whose voice it was.

A young man stood with hands in his trouser pockets. His smile sent Stan’s thoughts spinning. Stan knew a genuine grin and this lad had no hidden agendas lurking behind his cordial manner. Stanley was convinced of it.

He measured up to all the best-looking groomsmen Stanley had admired at the various weddings he’d attended. Most of the time it was the best man Stan fancied,

especially if they were still playing the field. He’d stare at them wishing to be swept off his feet and carried down the aisle.

This Midnight Man had a crew cut. It’s a cliché to say it was the preferred style of boy next door types, but for Stan, it sealed the deal. Something classic. Something captivating. Something familiar enough to help him not feel old.

“I’m Asher.” He held out his hand. Stanley took it, holding onto it until Asher seated himself at the table.

“You’re beautiful,” Stanley heard himself saying. “Sorry, I don’t mean to be forward.

It’s just that…” He covered his mouth momentarily. “How old are you?”


“You’re the perfect age.”

“What for? For you?” Asher smirked with bedroom confidence.

“No. No. I didn’t mean it like that. You’re my perfect age. No. I’m not making myself clear, am I?”

Asher reached across the table and tenderly stroked Stanley’s wrists.

“Are you hungry?” Asher asked. “Should I ask the waiter for the menu? I’m looking

forward to sitting here and listening to your tales.”

“Strangely, I don’t have an appetite.”

“Me neither.” They were the only people in the room now. “Maybe your dream needs a change of pace.” Asher stood. “Follow me to enchantment, or something close to it.”

Stanley did as he was told. Through the crimson curtain was an opening. As they ventured through the darkness on the other side, music broke through the silence. The floor shook with each beat. The murmur of a crowd brought back many memories for

Stanley, and as the laser lights flashed random colour into the void, the crowd became visible. Everyone was Asher’s age. Everyone was male. Stanley reached for Asher’s hand to lead him through this curious scene. They were both dressed differently.

Stanley wore a waistcoat adorned with tiny roses, buttoned tight to expose his chest.

Asher wore a blue T-shirt as he strode toward the DJ. Stan looked down at a smiling quarter moon, the oversized design on his belt buckle. He stomped his foot. His shoes were sturdy, leather, and unmistakably British.

It’s perfect in every way, he thought. So perfect in fact, he was waiting for the ecstasy to kick in. He worked his way back to Asher.

“Why are you called the Midnight Man?” he yelled over the house tune.

“We’re all Midnight Men,” Asher called back. “Everyone dining with your generation

in that restaurant was a Midnight Man.”

“But what does it mean?”

“It’s the time I entered your life—midnight.” His playful grin returned.

Then Stanley felt a change.

First, the music. It sounded hollow, as if someone had played around with an equaliser and got it all wrong. Then, like a jet engine, it soared.

Next, awareness of his own lanky shape was replaced by a oneness with everyone in that huge hall. There were no creaky joints or sagging skin. Decades disappeared. A

sense of love so overwhelming consumed him. And in this micro moment, Asher was arguably the most bewitching guy Stanley had ever met in the decades he walked the earth.

Then it hit full charge. The need to dance! The want to take off his waistcoat and sense the sweat, the pleasure, and the energy that took control. He was lost in sensation.

He was lost in thoughts that highlighted every positive thing about himself. He hadn’t felt this for a very long time.

And Asher was part of this charge, the best part. A boy at the start of the finest years of his life. Young enough to be sought after and brave enough to seek love from those who’ll fall under his spell.

The guys nearby were eyeing Stanley. A lover Stanley recalled for his kindness at a

time when he was finding himself. This guy waved at Stanley. The gesture was returned with an air kiss.

Coming toward them was a guy who sported small mirror tiles on his shoulders, as if he was a walking disco ball. He had similarly mirrored shorts. And he also held a mirror.

To Stanley, this guy wore the face of a human hiding his hurt. Someone wishing others would understand his sadness, yet too polite to talk about his feelings, or cry until there were no more tears. A feeling too familiar.

Stanley raised his arms and shook his butt, encouraging Mirror Man to find his bliss. For a moment, the guy laughed. A door was open, ready for pain to be released. He swung his hips, making his way toward Stanley, so Stanley raised his arms higher to transmit love in all directions. Then the guy held his mirror to Stanley’s face.

There it was. There was no denying it. Stanley was not twenty-one again. He was nearly fifty. A man in need of maturity.

“What is it?” Asher asked.

Mirror Man was nowhere to be seen.

“I’m not meant to be here.”

Stanley sat startled as he found himself opposite Asher back at the restaurant. Both

were wearing suits again.

“So, tell me, Stan, where are you meant to be?

About the Author:
Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

Excerpt: True Dead (Jane Yellowrock Book 14) by Faith Hunter + giveaway

Read an excerpt from Beast's POV below
Check out all the tour stops at LTP

by Faith Hunter
September 14, 2021
Jane Yellowrock goes back to the city where it all began in the newest installment of this thrilling New York Times bestselling series.

Jane used to hunt vampires, but now she’s their queen. She’s holed up in the mountains with the Yellowrock Clan, enjoying a little peace, when a surprise attack on her people proves that trouble is brewing. Someone is using very old magic to launch a bid for power, and it’s all tied to the place where Jane was first drawn into the world of Leo Pellissier—the city of New Orleans.

Jane is compelled to return to NOLA because someone is trying to destabilize the paranormal world order. And because she now sits near the top of the vampire world, the assault is her problem. She will do what she must to protect what’s hers. Her city. Her people. Her power. Her crown.

Excerpt #4
Beast growled low, showed killing teeth again, eyes still on Koun. Sat with cow meat between claws. Ripped cover off meat and spat to floor. Tore meat off. Ate. Swallowed. Ate chunks. Water-blood ran across floor.

“You are angry. So, the messy kitchen is a lesson for Eli. What are you going to do to George? Hack up a hairball onto his pillow?”

Beast chuffed. Ate more meat. Belly was full. Dead cow meat was gone.

“Tell me, Vengeful Cat. Would you like to join the vampire hunters? The Chief strategist of Clan Yellowrock would be happy to follow you into battle.”

Beast ear tabs perked high. Venge-ful Cat. Was good name. Beast nodded as human does.

“Do you go in cat form, or do you shift into Jane?”

Most vampires and humans in Winter Court of Dark Queen did not know the I/we of Beast was not always Jane. Most did not know how to talk to not-human-forms. Koun knew how to talk but did not always act with knowledge. Koun asked two questions at one time. Could only ask one. Beast waited. Stared at Koun.

Koun pursed lips, thinking. “Do you hunt vampires in cat form?”

Beast licked paws and muzzle free of blood, rough tongue getting all blood and meat-bits from paws and toes and off pelt. Shook head no.

“Shift then. I’ll weapon up.” Koun turned and left kitchen, closing door softly.

Beast looked at office area. Met Brute eyes, blue as sun on ice. Brute shook head and went back to big mattress in office corner. Turned three times and curled into ball with lizard. Beast raced up stairs and into sleeping room. Went to place where Bruiser kept clothes. Nosed open door. Found Bruiser best shoes for dancing. Carried one to empty room and hid in empty closet. Could bite holes in dead-cow-skin-shoes with killing teeth, but did not want to make Bruiser sigh. Hiding shoe was enough. Chuffed. Padded back to bedroom, to bathroom, and leaped into place where humans lay in hot water. Was cold on Beast belly. Took claws off of Jane.

What the heck are you doing? Jane shouted at Beast.

Beast reached into Jane skinwalker magics and thought about Jane half form. Did not know what would happen when shifted. Did not know what form I/we would be. Most of Jane people did not know of Jane shifting problems. Some knew secret. Beast liked secrets. All cats liked secrets.

About the Author: 
Faith Hunter is the award-winning New York Times and USAToday bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock, Soulwood, Rogue Mage, and Junkyard Cats series. In addition, she has edited several anthologies and co-authored the Rogue Mage RPG. She is the co-author and author of 16 thrillers under pen names Gary Hunter and Gwen Hunter. Altogether she has 40+ books and dozens of short stories in print and is juggling multiple projects.

She sold her first book in 1989 and hasn’t stopped writing since.

Faith collects orchids and animal skulls, loves thunderstorms, and writes. She likes to cook soup, bake bread, garden, and kayak Class II & III whitewater rivers. She edits the occasional anthology and drinks a lot of tea. Some days she’s a lady. Some days she ain't.

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

This Morbid Life (No Rest for the Morbid Book One) by Loren Rhoads + giveaway

This Morbid Life (No Rest for the Morbid Book One)
by Loren Rhoads
August 22, 2021
Genre: nonfiction/memoir/horror
Publisher: Automatism Press
ISBN: 978-1-7351876-2-4 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-7351876-3-1 (ebook)
ASIN: B09C11J43W
Number of pages: 200
Word Count: 58 K
Cover Artist: Lynne Hansen
What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life.

What others have called an obsession with death is really a desperate romance with life. Guided by curiosity, compassion, and a truly strange sense of humor, this particular morbid life is detailed through a death-positive collection of 45 confessional essays. Along the way, author Loren Rhoads takes prom pictures in a cemetery, spends a couple of days in a cadaver lab, eats bugs, survives the AIDS epidemic, chases ghosts, and publishes a little magazine called Morbid Curiosity.

Originally written for zines from Cyber-Psychos AOD to Zine World and online magazines from Gothic.Net to Scoutie Girl, these emotionally charged essays showcase the morbid curiosity and dark humor that transformed Rhoads into a leading voice of the curious and creepy.

Excerpt from "Anatomy Lesson":
I had a lot of preconceptions when it came to handling corpses. I’d imagined myself standing before a wall of stainless-steel freezer drawers like at the Mortuary College in San Francisco. In my imagination, the cadavers were draped with crisp white sheets. The bodies would be antiseptic. I expected them to be frozen. I thought everything would be as clean and neat as a television morgue.

The cadavers would be male, of course. I thought I could depersonalize a dead man more easily; I might empathize too much with a woman as the scalpel in my hand sliced her flesh.

Tom quickly rearranged my expectations. “Three of the four cadavers here are female,” he said. “I usually start people out with the women, since they’re the most taken apart. That’s a little easier for people to deal with.”

The bodies weren’t kept in refrigeration units. Instead, they were already waiting in the front of the classroom, lying in long stainless-steel bins with wheeled legs and a hinged two-piece top. When Tom folded the top open, clear fluid spilled onto the floor.

“Condensation?” I hoped.

“And some preservative,” he answered. When the worst of the runoff had stopped, he let the top hang down and opened the other side.

I was amazed we’d been in the room with the bodies all along. One of my memories still clear from ninth grade dissection was the horrible, headache-inducing smell of formaldehyde. I was glad preservative technology had improved.

A length of muslin floated atop the brownish red liquid. Blood, I thought immediately, and recoiled. Too thin for blood, it looked more like beef broth. Pools of oil slicked the surface.

“See that handle there? You can help me by turning it.” Tom moved to the far end of the tank.

There should have been scary music playing as we cranked the cadavers out of the fluid. As the bodies slowly rose, the muslin took on their outlines. Through the shroud, I saw bared teeth and the flensed musculature of jaw. Two corpses lay head to feet. The skin had clearly been flayed from their muscles.

If Tom had made them twitch, I would have leapt out of my own skin.

He pulled on some heavy turquoise rubber gloves and folded the muslin so it shrouded both faces and one entire body. The other lay revealed. Her skin had been stripped away. She had no breasts. The muscle fibers of her chest were very directional and clear, the raw color of a New York strip steak. Some of the muscles on her arms had been removed to show the bones and tendons beneath. Her fingertips still had nails and skin. The skin was the color of dried blood.

Excerpt from "The Ghost of Friends":

On Thanksgiving morning, I was making coffee when Jeff strolled out of his room. I debated what I should say. When my hands were busy filling the pot in the sink, I said, “I saw Blair’s ghost last night.”

“I haven’t seen him,” Jeff said, “but I’ve been pretty sure he was here.” I don’t know what I expected to hear, but that wasn’t it. Jeff is very down-to-earth, feet on the ground. If he could sense the ghost, then something must surely be there.

He told me, “One morning I was lying in bed in that half-awake state, thinking about the ghost. I felt a blast of wind blow straight up the length of my body into my face. When I opened my eyes, there was nothing to be seen—and nowhere for the wind to have come from.”

I shivered. Jeff slept in the bed where Blair suffered and died. It was all I could do to make myself sit on the bed when we watched a movie.

“Did he speak to you?” Jeff asked.


“I wonder what he wants.”

Of course, it could all be shrugged off as the power of suggestion on susceptible minds. I was very high, then sleepy; Jeff was half-awake. But it makes sense to me that if you don’t have a corporeal body to affect real space, you have to work in those times and spaces when people will be most likely to sense you. Or maybe he’s there all the time and we’re only able to perceive him when we’ve lowered our resistance.


The last time I saw Blair’s ghost, he was full color. He wore a red flannel shirt over black jeans, just as in life. His hands were linked behind his head as he lounged on the bed, ankles crossed. His black hair had grown out to the velvet stage. He looked healthier than he had in the entire last year of his life. His dark eyes sparkled as he grinned at me: Gotcha.

Immediately, I turned back to the stereo. It was Monday. Blair had died on a Monday. He’d died in the afternoon, in this room, on that same side of the bed.

All that flashed through my mind, followed by a rush of fear. I did not want to have my back turned to Blair’s ghost.

I whirled around so fast that I stumbled against the bookshelf and had to reach out to steady myself. The bed was empty again. Blair was gone.

I reached the incense down from the bookshelf and lit a stick of Blair’s favorite sandalwood. I waved the smoke over the bed and myself before leaving it to burn on the bedside table.

“Be at peace,” I wished him, but I had the sense that he was.

About the Author:

Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, a space opera trilogy, and a duet about a succubus and her angel. She is also the editor of Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues: Tales of the Unsavory, Unwise, Unorthodox, and Unusual and Tales for the Camp Fire: An Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief. This Morbid Life, her 15th book, is the first in the No Rest for the Morbid Series. Book 2, Jet Lag & Other Blessings, will be out in 2022.

Obsession with death or desperate romance with life? Loren Rhoads's new death-positive memoir spends days in a cadaver lab, eats bugs, chases ghosts, etc. #ThisMorbidLife #MorbidMemoir #morbid #deathpositive

Tour Giveaway:
3 paperback copies of This Morbid Life

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Book Review: Fae Origins: An Urban Fantasy Fae Romance (Origins of Magic Book 1) by Matthew Thrush and Amanda Fox

Fae Origins: An Urban Fantasy Fae Romance (Origins of Magic Book 1)
by Matthew Thrush and Amanda Fox
An uncommon magic. A sexy supernatural stalker. A disastrous curse.

The last thing McKenna Sawyer needs in her life is a stalker, even if he’s drop-dead gorgeous. She already has finals to worry about, not to mention what she’s going to do with her life once she officially graduates college. Being distracted is not an option.

Until she’s almost kidnapped and her stalker saves her.

Soon, McKenna is confronted with an earth-shattering realization: the supernatural exist, and there’s a war between them. And thanks to some curse her direct ancestor—a witch—placed on both the fae and the vampires, McKenna is at the heart of it.

Now McKenna must travel to the Fae world with her stalker—the vampire Aiden—to break the curse. But he’s holding something back, something that could ruin the fragile trust the two have built up thus far, and, McKenna can’t help but wonder if she’s being led into a trap with deadly consequences.

With the vivid supernatural magic of True Blood and the dark, forbidden romance of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Origins of Magic is your newest urban fantasy romance addiction.

Origins of Magic
Fae Origins
Fae Awakening
Fae Curse
Fae Eclipse
Fae Solstice
Fae Reborn
Fae Dancing
Fae Legacy

Fae Origins is book one in a new and enjoyable YA saga. I'm not 100% sure if this is meant to be YA, but it sure read like it most of the time. I tend to like I read dark and hard-hitting. This one does make you feel like it could get to that level but certainly not with book one. 

The main characters were fine as a pair, the back and forth banter at times was funny. Their chemistry was believable, and I did enjoy them, but not as much as I would have liked. Again, maybe just some more edgy pages were needed, a tad more of the dark and delicious. The urban fantasy world can be so plain at times, and sure I love a nice scoop of vanilla, BUT I want some tasty ass toppings all over that mother! No toppings on this one, just vanilla. 

As for the writing itself, it was fun, and you can tell a whole world is being built. No major misspellings or issues. The flow moved the story along. Being under 300 pages helped. I just think it was not an exact fit for me overall. I finished the story and took the parts I did like with me. Read other reviews, see what more people are saying. 

Getting 3 Sheep


About the Author
Matthew is a magician when it comes to writing books that sell and change lives.

He's written over 200+ bestselling books to date for his top-tier clients and has left a mark on the world with the massive impact those books are generating. He and his partners have helped launch more than 1,000 authors and books to the Amazon, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or New York Times Best Seller lists, and he's on a mission to help over one million people share their knowledge, expertise, thought leadership, or stories in a book to impact one billion lives.

His work has been awarded Editor's Pick of the Week, been published in multiple online magazines and blogs, literary journals, and even used to promote Blockbuster movies. His one story has grossed over 1,000,000+ reads and used by Hollywood producers and directors to promote Season 8 of The Walking Dead, Pride & Prejudice: Zombies, and The Boy.

He even had a story that won Top 35 Finalist in one of TNT's competitive horror writing contests where the winner won a $20,000 GRAND PRIZE and had their story adapted to TV & film. Those two stories alone quickly brought in a flood of new avid readers tallying over 54,000+ in less than a few months and sealed his legacy as a top storyteller.

Some other cool accomplishments...

* 200-Time Bestselling Ghostwriter
7-Figure Direct Response Sales Copywriter
* Funnel, Webinar, & VSL Expert
7-Figure Content Strategist & Creator
7-Figure Marketing Strategist & Marketer
Multi-Award Winning Author
Top 35 TNT Horror Writing Finalist
Multi Editor's Pick of the Week Recipient
Best Seller Book Launch Expert
* Viral Book Writing & Marketing Coach
Your Book's SECRET Weapon

Expert Speaker & Guest on...
* Kindlepreneur
Author Platform Rocket
Make Money While You Sleep
Your First 10k Readers
Wordslinger Podcast
Fearless Success Summit
6-Figure Ghostwriter
Perfect Funnel System
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However, Matthew gauges his success by how well his clients' books perform. He's fortunate to have worked with many of the best minds, talents, professionals, and world-changers. One of his client's based on true events Science Fiction Thrillers was adapted into a graphic novel with artwork by Marvel, DC, & Image designers, and is in talks for adaptation to the big screen and/or a video game. 

Others have gone on to generate multiple seven-figure income streams for multiple experts, coaches, speakers, consultants, and thought leaders, which opened the floodgates for them in ELITE partnerships and joint ventures with some of the biggest TITANS in the world, like Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, Jack Canfield, Russell Brunson, Kevin O'Leary, and Kevin Harrington.

Matthew wants to help you too. When you schedule your FREE 15-MINUTE BESTSELLER BRAINSTORM CALL, you'll be speaking with a master who can guide you every step of the way in your publishing journey and beyond. Come ready to have your mind blown!

Friday, August 27, 2021

Playlist for YA Paranormal Romance: Baited (Bound Series Book 3) by Jennifer Dean + giveaway

Baited Playlist
1. Water Rising-Hayden Panettiere
2. Happy Birthday-The Beatles
3. Losing My Religion-REM
4. Maybe-Ingrid Michaelson
5. 1,2,3,4 Plain White Ts
6. What I’ve Done-Linkin Park
7. The Scientist-Coldpay
8. Better in Time- Leona Lewis
9. Every Breath You Take-The Police
10. Thank You-Dido
11. Papercut-Linkin Park
12. If I Die Young-The Band Perry
13. Time is Running Out-Muse
14. How to Save a Life-The Fray
15. Do You Realize??-The Flaming Lips
16. Leave Out the Rest-Linkin Park
17. I Will Possess Your Heart-Death Cab Cutie
18. Uninvited-Alanis Morsette
19. Love is a Stranger-Eurythmics
20. Everybody Lost Somebody-Bleachers
21. Going Under-Evanescence
22. Secrets-One Republic
23. In the End-Linkin Park

Baited (Bound Series Book 3)
by Jennifer Dean
August 3, 2021
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Normal seniors worry about if they will get rejected from their dream school, what they are going to wear to their last prom, or if it’s possible to stay close with the friends they grew up with after high school.

But Emma Morgan has come to learn that normality is a thing of the past. Especially when her eighteenth birthday is a mere reminder of the newly accepted deal she has made to lure a vengeful immortal named Thomas back into Alexander territory. A plan that will certainly make the humans of her world safer but comes with the risk of not living to see graduation.

Despite the coldness of my tone, I heard a few light chuckles around the room. My gaze shifted to the ground before I dared to look back up at the many bright, expectant eyes surrounding me.

“I know I can’t do much, but I can do this.”

“Are you sure?”

I turned back to Liam as I heard the concern in his voice. I imagined that if the roles were reversed, I would carry the same worry for him.

“Yes,” I said, squeezing his hand to convey my assurance.

Once again, I turned my body to face Jane, bouncing my eyes up with a readied stare.

“What do I have to do?”

“I need you to know that what I’m asking comes with risk.”

“I understand.”

“No, you don’t,” Sean said. “By risk, she means you’re willing to accept that this help may come at the cost of losing your life.”

“He’s right,” Jane said. “I’m prepared to risk your life if it ultimately means bringing an end to Thomas.”

“Well…at least you’re honest,” I said with uneasiness.

“I may be a bitch but at least I’m an honest one,” Jane said.

It was hard to not find humor in her words, as if she were reading the tagline from a movie written about her.

“Look, as much as your presence annoys me, I don’t wish to see your death. But I need you to know that this plan is about commitment. That goes for me as well. I’ll need to play my part just as much as you will yours. At times, you may even question my loyalty. However, we must rely on trust because it’s all we’ll have until we see this through.”

“So, you’re saying it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

It wasn’t a question but a realization of the danger I was agreeing to dive into.

“Yes. This isn’t going to be easy. He’ll be seeking every opportunity for revenge for Liam’s betrayal. A revenge that will create a blood trail straight to you. One that could lead to your death.”

I caught sight of Mary’s bright stare across the room. Her first words to me echoed in my mind. Being with Liam means you will always be a target.

I bit my lip with squinted eyes of confusion as I looked back at Jane. Before I could speak, my brother’s outburst interrupted me.

“You want us to just sit back and leave her for him like some immortal bait?”

Sean’s voice cracked with incredulity.

“He has to believe he has the upper hand. The only way that can happen is if you play your parts in leaving her vulnerable. From the moment I leave this house, you must portray a belief that the threat is gone.”

“By leaving her to be killed!”

Jane closed her eyes in frustration before turning to face Sean. Her neck stiffened with impatience but she paused in speaking, as if waiting to gain the composure that one needed when speaking to a petulant child.

“Thomas is a sadistic prick who likes to play games. His immediate goal won’t be to kill her but to show Liam and you that he can if he chooses to. You have to make it seem as if he’s in control. Being overprotective isn’t an option, Sean.”

“I understand what you’re saying and I even agree with your theory but as her brother, I can’t just…”

Sean shook his head, clearly hoping to distract himself from the images circling his mind before turning a newly placed anger on Liam.

“You’re ok with this?”

“Of course not,” Liam said with an offended grimace. “I hate the idea of her being in any kind of harm’s way. But she’s going to do it whether I’m okay with this or not.”

As Sean rolled his eyes, Liam continued with a small grin, as if the behavior only proved his point.

“You only disrespect her by not allowing her to make this choice. So, regardless of your inability to accept it, I’ll stand by whatever she decides.”

“Thank you,” I said.

It was all I had time to say before a thud caused me to snap my neck back around. Sean stood facing the wall with his palms flat against it. He refused to look at anyone behind him. My eyes traveled up to a spot near his left hand, where I saw a deep hole the size of his fist.

The tension in the room lingered as I met his gaze. I had barely blinked before he moved to a kneeling position in front of me, his hands reaching out to hold mine with comforting warmth.

“Please don’t do this. I know you hate me and that’s fine. Hate me all you want. But please don’t make me have to risk your life this way. You don’t have to do this.”

I looked into his pleading eyes, knowing that even with my anger I could never hate him. I paused, squeezing his fingers without breaking his bright golden gaze. “No, I don’t have to do this but I want to do this.”

He lowered his head in defeat before rising back to his feet and turning his attention to Jane. He remained silent, his body tense as he resignedly stood and walked back toward Grace.

“I’m short on time so I must leave you all,” Jane said. Then she looked at me. “I hope you survive this, Emma, I really do. But if fate has other plans, please know your sacrifice will have been an honorable one.”

“Thank you,” I said.

I reached for Liam’s hand as Jane nodded with appreciation before she looked toward the leader of the Alexanders. Patrick gave one subtle nod of approval. It was enough verbal communication for Jane to begin walking backward in farewell.

“Good luck.”

Blinded (Bound Series Book 2)

Bound (Bound Series Book 1)

About the Author
Jennifer has studied Creative Writing and Literature and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. To find out more about her and her novels you can visit

$10 Amazon
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Excerpt: Memento Mori by Jane Morris

MEMENTO MORI by Jane Morris is on sale now! Check out the lushly gorgeous contemporary reimagining today!

Memento Mori
by Jane Morris
June 15, 2021
420 pages
Genre: Contemporary Historical Retelling, Victorian
A modern-day reimagining of the lives of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and the women they painted obsessively and fiercely loved. Beautiful and strong-willed Jane meets her match in enigmatic artist Gabriel. He immediately challenges her assumptions about art, life, and love. And for Gabriel’s enormous ego, Jane represents an exhilarating yet exasperating game he refuses to lose. When Jane’s brilliant but naïve friend Lizzie insists on accepting Gabriel’s dinner invitation, they are swept into a circle of passionate artists who reside in an old Gothic mansion. Jane embarks on a life-changing journey of desire, romance, despair, and self-discovery as she becomes the muse for Gabriel and his friend and rival, Will. A desperate inner battle wages within Jane, who is drawn in by Gabriel’s magnetic personality and gorgeous looks, yet equally as captivated by Will’s kind heart and steadfast devotion. Underneath an immersive and dramatic world is a deeper storyline, as Jane and Gabriel can't fight the nagging feeling that they have done this all before. Fates collide as lovers and friends become entangled in past, present, and future. An artistic, genre-crossing tale, Memento Mori will appeal to both history and romance lovers alike.

Exclusive Excerpt:
He moved faster and followed us out of the exit. Then he stood directly in front of us, blocking our path. “Yes?” I said a bit bitchier than I meant it.

“I’m sorry. I know this must seem weird. There’s just something about you. I can’t let you go just yet.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean? You can’t let us go until what?”

“Until you let me paint you,” he said as he stared intensely into my eyes. “Both of you.”

“I’m sure there are a lot of girls who would die to be painted by you,” I offered. I can’t say I wasn’t flattered, but it seemed like a cheap pick-up line.

“I don’t want other girls. I’ve had plenty of other girls-”

“Oh, I’m sure you have!”

“I mean, I’ve painted lots of other girls!” His face was inches from mine. Then he turned to face Lizzie. “You have one of the most stunning faces I have ever seen. It’s like you just stepped out of a Florentine fresco. Your hazel eyes that change in the light, that pouty bottom lip you see so often in paintings of saints, and your dazzling blonde hair that shows a touch of copper when you step into the light… You are just what I’ve been looking for, and I’ve been looking for a long time.” She swooned while I laughed out loud. But then he turned to me and stepped up so close that our noses practically touched. “We have definitely known each other before, but where or when, I can’t quite say. Your long neck, blue-gray eyes, graceful hands… You’re so profoundly beautiful; it’s startling. I want to paint you as a goddess or an ancient queen. Please, let me preserve your beauty forever in my art.” He turned a page in his sketchbook and held it up. There was a sketch of me in front of a mass of trees, and he captured my likeness really well but made me look much prettier than I actually was. Stunned by his words and the sketch, I was locked in silence, unable to speak.

“I’ll admit,” he continued. “I was drawing you for a while today before we spoke. I couldn’t help it. You captivated me.” It seemed sincere, and I almost leaned in to kiss him but shook it off.

“Look, this is really weird. We don’t know you at all.” I couldn’t come up with anything else to say, so I crossed my arms and waited for his response.

“Have dinner at my house tonight. And if you feel comfortable, maybe after that I can do some sketches of the two of you.”

“This is crazy. I don’t think this is a good idea.” As cliché as it sounds, my mouth was saying no, but my body was screaming yes. I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to his house, but the sixth sense I had developed for bullshit was begging me not to. Lizzie stepped in front of me and exclaimed, “We’ll be there!” He flashed that coy smile as he took out a scrap of paper and scribbled his address on the back, then handed it to Lizzie. He turned to me and whispered, “Isn’t there something so familiar about this, you and me?” He looked so intensely into me that I couldn’t even formulate a response. There was definitely something familiar about him. But I wasn’t about to let my guard down just yet. “I don’t know about that.”

“I feel like we’ve been here before. You feel it too, don’t you?” If he weren’t so fucking stunning, I probably would have laughed in his face. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but we have to go.”

“7 P.M. tonight,” he said more to Lizzie than to me.

“Yes, we’ll be there!” she called back as I pulled her away from him.

“Don’t count on it!” I added. We exited the museum in silence until we were far enough away. Then we turned to each other and screamed, “Holy shit!”

About the Author:
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Jane Morris is the bestselling author of four comedic memoirs about her teaching career. She has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. This is her first novel. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university. She earned her M.A. in writing from an even fancier (more expensive) university. She loves dogs and trees and other things that can't talk. She has a loving family and cares about making people laugh more than anything else.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

$.99 Shifters for the Holiday Sales Blitz

Shifters for the Holiday
by Sedona Venez
December 19th, 2020
Genre: Shifter Romance, Holiday Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Get Warm and Fuzzy. New Holiday Romance Story That’ll Give You All The Feels…

Someone wants me dead… This is not going to be a very Merry Christmas.

If arsonists setting fire to my barn right before Christmas isn’t bad enough, a sniper shooting through my bedroom window is like getting a lump of coal for Christmas.

But I don’t want protection. My father thinks otherwise and hires two rugged former military wolf-shifters—Axel and Tucker—to protect me at all costs.

But I’m not your ordinary damsel in distress. I’m a curvy, independent woman, used to running things my way. But when I’m trapped inside my cabin with my gorgeous bodyguards during a blizzard, sensual boundaries are crossed, leaving me attracted to not one, but both of my wolf-shifter protectors.

Now, not only is my life on the line, but so is my heart…

This passionate stand-alone Christmas story is full of festive magic, romance, suspense, and laughs. HEA and no cliffhanger!

About the Author:

Text "SedonaVenez" to 33222
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Sedona Venez lives in New York City with her hot ex-military hubby--hooah--and their fur babies. She loves writing sizzling, sexy intricate stories about strong but broken characters who push limits, overcome their fears, and risk it all for love.