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Friday, March 1, 2024

Interview: Paranormal Romance Author Deja Black + giveaway

Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
As a teenager, I would write stories I enjoyed. Then I would throw them away, not realizing there was an audience out there for my types of books. When I discovered a genre filled with men who love men existed, I knew I’d found the right place for me.

I started out as a proofreader for a publishing company and then moved to an editor. One day, I decided I was ready to write. I was ready to share my stories. So, I did.

What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’ve got my favorites. I’m a nerd, pretty much. I love Star Trek, Batman, frogs, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Stitch. I just want to be happy and generally fight to keep that. I love music, all kinds. I draw, write, and sing. I dance and have a thing for crystals right now. I’m not a person who can be put in a box. No one should. I love life!

What do you do to unwind and relax?
I enjoy doing puzzles. I usually have one or two going at the same time. I’ve been doing puzzles for years. Sometimes, I glue them. Often, I send them to my dad to share.

How to find time to write as a parent?
Writing as a parent is hard. Since my kids are older now, one twelve and the other sixteen, I am able to do more, but as an educator, I typically don’t make it home until after five. My kiddos are athletes, which means I’m running around with them. So, I write on the go or wait until I’ve spent time with them first before I write. My hubby requires my time, too, so when I get home, I prepare food, work on puzzles in the living room to spend time with my husband and family, and then move to the office to write. I’m readjusting my time and working on managing it to incorporate writing. I’ve also started getting up an hour earlier to work out, so that’s one less thing that takes up time when I get home. Finding time as a parent is difficult. I have to make a conscientious effort to write.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Weird, colorful, kind, intelligent, loving

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For a long time, I wrote poetry in high school and then college. I presented it at events. I was a writer then. I’m a published writer now. Doesn’t mean I don’t have my fears and second guesses. Goodness, I doubt myself and my ability all the time. It’s a blessing to have my editor and friends help me when that happens. They believe in me, which helps me believe in myself. And then there are my readers who ask for more. That right there rocks my world!

Do you have a favorite movie?
The Nightmare Before Christmas. Number one always.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Unicorn first, dragon next. Something crazy? I told my kids when they were little that they used to be a unicorn (daughter) and a dragon (son), but they changed into humans. It was fun, but they figured it out later. We still smile about it.


A restaurant manager starting over. A merman learning himself for the first time. Will their plunge into the unknown lead to a life shared together?

Unbreak My Heart (Men of Neptune Book 4)

by Deja Black
Genre: LGBTQ Paranormal Romance
A restaurant manager starting over. A merman learning himself for the first time. Will their plunge into the unknown lead to a life shared together?

Restaurant Manager Tony Aikawa moved to Charleston, South Carolina, looking for a fresh start for his family. Life after his wife left him with their four children has made him feel bereft. He’s doing the best he can, but it’s hard doing it alone.

Law student Adamaris Hali thought he was human. Or that’s what his father led him to believe. Now his father, a former Guardian of Neptune, has left his family behind to join his mate in the city of Atlantis. Adamaris has learned his mother didn’t just die but was viciously murdered, and he is not human but a merman as well. Now, he has to learn how to embrace the being within.

These two broken men are starting something new. Will it lead to a forever together?

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Unbreak My Heart
Excerpt
Tony Aikawa checked his reflection in the mirror above the bar, his curly red hair shining perfectly. He’d certainly worked hard enough on it. He’d neatly trimmed his beard as well. He wore a soft green shirt to complement his hazel eyes and a pair of starched black dress pants. He looked the part of a restaurant manager. He felt it, too, even though his nerves overwhelmed him.

He took a few deep breaths to calm himself, grateful for this chance at a new start. Having to move states away from the home he and his ex-wife Julianne shared had broken something inside him, but he and his babies needed a place to begin anew where memories didn’t haunt them anymore.

He’d grown weary of his children looking in spaces their mother haunted, hopeful she would suddenly appear. And they weren’t by themselves. How many times had he prayed for the very same thing?

When he and Julianne married, he believed it was for life. Well, he’d thought he would love her forever, and she would love him. That was what high school sweethearts did. So after struggling to complete his culinary degree at Sullivan University in Louisville, he quit his extra jobs when he found his first dream career position, supporting every dream Julianne owned and ensuring their four kids would live well. No more worries over bills. No more creative dinners to feed hungry bellies.

But it hadn’t turned out that way. With him home more, he could see the woman he fell in love with wasn’t the same person. Julianne hung out with her friends every night and went places that left her coming home early the following day. She’d blamed him for not being happy, insisting he’d been too focused on earning his degree to see that his family needed him at home.

But even with him home every evening, she still did her best to avoid him and their kids. She spent more and more nights away, leaving him scrambling to get the kids to school the following day. He did his best to ensure they were clean and scrubbed before heading to work. With Julianne gone so often, it forced him to hire a sitter for when he was out of the house.

Tony hadn’t wanted his oldest child Riley to think she must be a second mother, but Riley wanted desperately to prove she was a big girl. She resented anyone Tony brought in to help, insisting she could care for him and her younger siblings. But Tony insisted just as strongly that she shouldn’t have to.

He had worked hard to make life easier for his family than what he and Julianne had experienced as children. And when he’d finally reached his goal, Julianne didn’t seem to want them anymore.

Trying to convince his kids that it wasn’t them making Mommy stay away, that they were beautiful and good and kind, hadn’t worked. If anything, they cried more and began crawling into his bed at night, too sad to stay on their own. He held them when they wept and took them out bowling or skating on the weekends, but it was never enough. Buying them things couldn’t make them forget their mother’s absence. He hadn’t thought it would, but he would try anything to ease their pain.

Then one day Tony had come home drained, unsure if he needed to have a meal ready for his kids after the sitter left, to discover Julianne had vanished. She’d taken her clothes and left him and their kids behind.

Tony didn’t understand if it was good or bad at first. Sure, his broken heart torched him inside, but instead of wondering when or if it would happen, asking and pleading for a chance to fix whatever went wrong, it was simply over. Julianne just walked away. When the dust settled, Tony and his babies lived in the shadow of forgotten memories.

Turning over each day in the bed he had shared with Julianne hurt. Getting up every day to fix breakfast, thanking Riley for helping her brother dress, then cleaning up the house as much as he could before he left for work hurt. Receiving papers in the mail asking for a divorce and giving him full custody of the kids hurt. Staying in the same place, wishing and praying for Julianne to walk in the door and remember how much she used to love him and their children hurt.

He needed more. His children needed more. They all needed a change.

So he’d applied for a position almost ten hours away from Louisville that his cousin Jerod told him about, located in a small Charleston, South Carolina community. The job offered a place to live, the entire run of an established restaurant, and a chance to begin again.

He was grateful for Jerod. He was a good guy who looked out for him. As a counselor at a high school, Jerod took mental health seriously and noticed Tony wasn’t doing well. Finally, Tony admitted that his emotional balance had suffered because of his divorce and fear for his kids. Jerod had suggested a change. Tony had agreed.

With a final glance in the mirror, he deemed himself presentable. He turned and examined the decor of Iliana’s Safe Haven as he wiped down the bar. Something about the place spoke to his soul. He had loved the restaurant the moment he’d first stepped inside the spacious sitting area. The stained-glass chandeliers depicted sea animals—sharks and a school of fish. An octopus seemed to be the running metaphor, with dolphins as part of the floor’s inlay. The place was a work of art, and he was proud to be here, to call it home.

Song of the Siren (Men of Neptune Book 1)
Graham is a broken soldier in body and soul. With no place to go, he moves to the coast to live with the only relative who loves him. Lost and without hope, Graham is not sure how he can get his life back. That is until he hears the song of the most gorgeous man he has ever seen.

Kamau is a siren who lives part of his life with his siren mother the other part with his human father. Dutiful son to mother and father but never true to himself. That is until Graham walks into the church and Kamau realizes he has found his mate.

Jonah Anderson is the pastor who relies on his son’s gift to grow his church. All is going well for him and the church. That is until he sees the way Kamau looks at Graham.

At a time when Christmas presents are given for the holiday, will Graham and Kamau receive the gift they’ve dreamed of for a lifetime? Each other.

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Song of the Siren
Excerpt
Graham’s leg ached, or the knee did right above the piece that had been blown away. He breathed slowly through his teeth as it cramped while sitting in the tiny pew built for a person who wasn’t six-foot-seven. He still worked out as much as he could so that his arms were large and his shoulders wide. Imprisoned in the confined space was not comfortable. The ability to turn and find a spot where he didn’t ache remained difficult. Graham had bumped his cousin, David, over into his husband at least four times between Angus Dei and What Child is This.

“Sorry, man.”

David smiled at him for about the fifth time, but who was counting, right?

“It’s okay, Gray. No worries. It’ll be fine.”

Yeah, fine. If fine was packing up and leaving a place where he grew up because his mom couldn’t deal with him finally coming out, and his sister acted like she hated his ass for being alive. Fine. Nothing was fine, and he didn’t know what to do to make it better.

“You start work on Monday. You’re staying with us until you find your own place. Everything will work out.”

Graham loved his cousin, but he didn’t have the same faith he did. He looked around them. Christmas wreaths and poinsettias. Christmas trees and the smell of candles burning. White walls and stained glassed windows. Wooden pews and worn bibles. Tradition. He’d grown up in church, had gone each Sunday with his mother and his sister. He’d been in every Christmas play and attended every midweek service, Sunday school, and church service.

More than ready to leave his mother, and the church that bound him, he’d fled into the military. And, he’d returned broken. An old GI Joe toy with its leg torn away. What good was he? Hell, why was he alive when guys better than him—more worthy than him—were buried and gone?

He glanced over just as Louis curled his hand around David’s and kissed him gently on the cheek. Graham was happy for them. They’d found a church where they were accepted, where they used their skills and were an integral part of the community. David, a corporate man, ran a partnership that helped the youth of the church. Louis worked as a journalist using those skills to write for New Direction Church. They’d found a place where they fit.

Graham had none of that.

He arrived the other night and wanted to stay in his room, in a bed almost too small for him, and take his pain pills. If a tiny part included thoughts of tipping the bottle so he could swallow all of them together, he’d never tell. But, he didn’t have to. David knew him, loved him, and kept him solid. So instead of attending the pity party for one in the house, alone, he sat in church waiting for the next part of the show.

And, then he heard him sing.

Broken vessel healed by the potter’s hand.

It was Christmastime. Where was the jolly and holly? Another song that praised the birth of a child born long ago?

Filled with the waters of hope, enough to clean the soul and heal the man.

Graham felt warmth run through him and reached to his aching knee running his fingers over the prosthetic. Metal and plastic made to look like him, but it wasn’t real.

Broken vessel healed by the potter’s hand.

Filled with possibility, just needing a reason to be.

The words spoke to him, but the voice seared his soul. He looked up to find the singer and saw a man whose eyes were focused on Graham, his hands reaching up and out toward the congregation but who was singing directly to him.

Graham wanted to look away, but he couldn’t. The notes of the song danced around him, entwining him layer by layer until all he saw, all he heard was Kamau.

David mentioned Kamau earlier, how they’d met in college. He told him how Kamau mesmerized people with his singing. David followed him to this church and remained ever since. Graham saw why. He sat ensnared, and he didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to do anything but be Kamau’s captive. His heartbeat battered his chest so intensely he heard its drumbeat in his ears, and tears lay at the corners of his eyes.

No longer a broken vessel but an instrument of destiny.

The song ended, and the layers of notes fell away freeing Graham. He gasped for air while people around him screamed and clapped, tears staining their cheeks. One woman stood at the front, her arms raised above her head as she shouted praises, and Graham had to escape.

**Don’t miss the rest of the series! **

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About the Author
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DEJA BLACK had fantasies of men loving men, men who felt strongly, loved hard, and needed a hero. Then one great day she came across a book and discovered the world of m/m writing, encountered others who shared her obsession as much as she did, and found a world where she could not only be accepted for the lives and loves she envisioned, but she could create them too. So why not? Why not take the stories she would write and throw away as a teenager, grow them, dream them, and make them a reality where she could know her own characters, let them live their story, and make them real for someone else? And she did. Now, with the support of her hubby and some intense time management, she is learning to balance her family of two children at home and the many others she teaches each and every day with her passion of writing what she loves to read.


Giveaway
$10 Amazon
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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Novus Monstrum The Midnight Zone Book 1 Edited by Douglas Gwilym & Ken MacGregor + giveaway

These monsters are never-before-seen.
These monsters bite, and don’t let go.
These monsters aren’t your grandparents’ boogeymen, but they are not tame, and they want to climb right down into your nightmares and make you their own.

Novus Monstrum The Midnight Zone Book 1
Edited by Douglas Gwilym & Ken MacGregor
Genre: Weird Creature Horror Anthology

“Mysterious, merciless, mirthful. New favorites await you in this superb anthology.”
-Johnny Compton (author of Spite House, Esquire best horror book of 2023 and Stoker longlister)
This may look like just a book, but NOVUS MONSTRUM could infect your brain, shake your sense of what’s real, change you forever. This is twenty-two all-original new monster tales from the greats: Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Gabino Iglesias, Gemma Files, Gaby Triana, Ramsey Campbell, Jeffrey Thomas, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Lucy A. Snyder, plus thirteen stories from new names (see below) destined to become some of your favorite authors.

These monsters are never-before-seen. These monsters bite, and don’t let go. These monsters aren’t your grandparents’ boogeymen, but they are not tame, and they want to climb right down into your nightmares and make you their own.

Welcome to the new anthology series The Midnight Zone.

Ken MacGregor, editor of the Shirley-Jackson-Award-nominated anthology Stitched Lips and the uproarious Burnt Fur, teamed up with Bram-Stoker-Award-nominated short story author Douglas Gwilym, editor of Appetites and Harmony & Dissonance, to take you to strange and dark new places. They’ll ask you to go deeper and weirder than The Twilight Zone, to a place (like the real-world midnight zone, a mile beneath the ocean’s surface) where no sunlight penetrates. Join us as we explore the inhospitable, surprising, uncomfortable, bizarre, and otherworldly.

Go on. Dive in. Lose yourself to The Midnight Zone.

Also Featuring:
Amanda M. Blake
Joshua Bartolome
Matt Brandenburg
R.A. Busby
Marco Cultrera
E.C. Dorgan
Douglas Ford
Sarah Hans
Jamie Lackey
Donna J.W. Munro
Frank Oreto
Tim Pieraccini
Pris Sears

Includes:
A Grace of Finer Form - Post-apocalyptic survival tale. The monsters are mutants: amalgams of living creatures, one so enormous it rivals the Titans of myth.

Brother Bone - A giant, living skeleton that feeds on the skeletons of its victims (by ripping away the flesh and meat) and using the bone fragments to expand itself, in return granting its family effective immortality.

First Day Jitters at Slappy’s - The monsters are living theme-park mascot characters. It’s far more disturbing than it sounds. This one is bonkers.

God Damn You to Hell, John Glenn - The monster is a massive, mutated, extremely hungry…sea monkey.

I Clean the Monster that Killed My Husband Every Morning - A vicious anti-pollution tale, the monsters are creatures that come up from below the earth and violently destroy any machine that creates pollutants, and whomever happens to be using them at the time.

Lizard War - Translucent giant lizards swarming across the alien landscape. The “astronauts” are all women, and the main character, Eliza, who was the cook before everything changed but is now in charge, loses her lover Joan in a climactic scene. She floats out into space, “her blood hanging in drops around her like falling rose petals, her hair fanned out like a peacock’s tail….”

Mother Ship - Machine/organic spaceship and her godspawn child.

The Path of Skulls - Sexless, cube-headed simulacra and deep arcane mystery.

Song of the Devil Trumpet - Quite lovely trees that trick you into eating their fruit so they can take over your body and repurpose you.

Wonce was a Woman - The monsters are human female/office machine hybrids. A woman goes looking for a mythical monster woman who is foretold as a sort of savior–and ultimately finds it is herself.

With an introduction by the amazing Jamie Flanagan, screenwriter for Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, Creepshow, and Fall of the House of Usher, and original cover art by the astonishing Trevor Henderson, internet cult phenomenon, creator of Siren Head, and weaver of monsters!

 
I Clean the Monster that Killed My Husband Every Morning

“Everybody knows where they were [that day]. If you don’t, it’s because you died…. The monsters came from underground, digging their way out fast as lightning. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions….Of course, the first thing on everybody’s mind was an alien invasion. Alien soldiers waiting under the surface deep enough that humanity never spotted them, buried by some extraterrestrial civilization eons ago, biding their time until humanity was deemed worthy of conquest…. The trouble with that theory was that they targeted only machines. Yes, billions died, but just because they were inside them, around them, holding them or on the path to them.”


“Shoulders… tight and broad, they are the widest part of its body. If you look at them from a foot away, the black skin appears thick, and impossibly smooth, like leather stretched on a kettledrum… the densest muscles ever to hang on the skeleton of a living creature. The smoothness is also an illusion. Even the gentlest drag of my fingertips reveals that the skin is made of tiny fibers parallel to each other, curving around the body.”
 
“It’s the subtle stickiness, like a layer of molasses a few atoms deep, that makes lifting your fingers off take an extra moment.”

“Bullet holes are the only marks on the monster’s body left from the attack, but they don’t go deep, a quarter of an inch at most. The experts on the radio have explained that the blood flowing inside the monster turns to acid in contact with metal, dissolving [a bullet] before it can do harm.”

“Sounds of machine gun bursts made me look outside the window and I saw the monster, my monster, for the first time, all seven feet of deadly force. It had just killed Mr. Donovan and was charging our house.”

“The monster stopped in front of me, its dark skin smeared in grime, with drops of thick liquid falling off and blotching my living room carpet. Its head turned, and I saw its eyes, two deep holes ending in yellow sparks…. [T]he monster began smashing through the floor with its blades, opening a direct path to the furnace in the basement.”

“I arrived at the front door just in time to see the monster plunging into the trunk of George’s car, which had only made it halfway through the driveway. The blades [of the monster’s hands] cut my husband in half, on their way to the front engine. The car exploded, engulfing the monster in flames. I didn’t move an inch, until all that could burn had burned, leaving the monster standing still in the wreckage…. I found the monster’s eyes just before the sparks faded to black.”

“In the first hour of the attack, waves of monsters, all the same shape as mine, but some as tall as a three-story building, targeted all the power plants burning fossil fuel, with no distinction between oil, carbon or natural gas.”
 
About the Editors
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Douglas Gwilym has been known to compose a weird-fiction rock opera or two. His short story “Year Six” is on Ellen Datlow’s recommended reading list for Best Horror 14. He edited Triangulation for four years and now co-edits The Midnight Zone—forthcoming edition, Novus Monstrum, a collection of never-before-seen monsters, featuring original stories by greats, and new voices, in strange, dark fiction. He reads classics of the proto-Weird on YouTube and has been guest staff at Alpha Young Writers workshop. His short fiction appears in LampLight, Lucent Dreaming, Novel Noctule, Shelter of Daylight, Tales from the Moonlit Path, Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine, and Tales to Terrify.

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 Ken MacGregor has written three story collections, an award winning young adult novella (Devil’s Bane), and has co-authored a novel (Headcase). He is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an active member of the Horror Writers Association. He’s also written TV and radio commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, a one-act play, a scattering of poems, and a zombie movie. Ken has curated three original anthologies, one of which (Stitched Lips) was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. His third anthology, Novus Monstrum, was co-edited with Douglas Gwilym. It is the first installment in the Midnight Zone series for Dragon’s Roost Press.

Ken is also a part-time literary assassin: he will write you into an original short story and kill you for money. Ken drives the bookmobile and lives with his kids, a fierce-but-cuddly tiger cat, and the ashes of his wife.

He can be found at www.kenmacgregor.com.

Giveaway
$20 Amazon
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Sunday, February 25, 2024

YA Horror: The Devil's Pawn by Marilyn Levinson

If you enjoy a creepy paranormal horror, this one's for you! Read on for more details about The Devil's Pawn by Marilyn Levinson!


The Devil's Pawn
by Marilyn Levinson
January 22, 2024
Genre: YA Horror
After fifteen-year-old Simon Porte's family is killed in an automobile crash, his father's brother, whom he's never met, brings Simon to live with him and his wife in upstate New York. Simon doesn't trust Uncle Raymond, and for good reason. Raymond is dying and using his diabolical powers to take over Simon's body. Simon must develop his own supernatural defenses to survive. With his dotty great-aunt, his young sister, and a pair of odd twins, he wages war against the evil Raymond and his cronies.

About the Author
Website
A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for young readers. Her books have received many accolades.

Her books for young readers include NO BOYS ALLOWED, RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK, which was awarded a "Children's Choice," GETTING BACK TO NORMAL & AND DON'T BRING JEREMY.

Marilyn loves traveling, reading, knitting, doing Sudoku, and visiting with her grandchildren, Olivia and Jack, on FaceTime. She is co-founder and past president of the now defunct Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime.
 

Book Tour Organized By:

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Q&A with author S. E. Lindberg (Lovers in Hell A Heroes in Hell Anthology) + giveaway

Q&A with author S. E. Lindberg (part of the Lovers in Hell Anthology)

What is something unique/quirky about you?
Strange muses have inspired me for decades. By training and trade, I am a chemist and the intersection of science, art, and spirituality fascinates me (alchemy essentially). Alchemy largely originated in Egypt, so its Underworld of Duat serves a rich muse. For Perseid Press, I’ve contributed six alchemy-inspired tales to date (four for the Heroes in Hell series and two for Heroika) that all integrate Egyptian myths.
 
Who is your hero and why?
I have many personal heroes and role models, but my mind goes to sharing the heroes of this featured story: “Lovers Sans Phalli”. There are two! I have adopted the duo of Howard Carter (renowned archaeologist and looter of King Tutankhamun’s tomb) and Ernst Haeckel (discredited evolutionist and original ‘ecologist’) as tour guides for several Heroes in Hell stories. Why use them as protagonists? Both are deceased explorers who sought to unveil mysteries that resonate with my alchemical inspirations.

Their motives contrast: Carter adores material, artificial wealth as much as Haeckel is fascinated with nature’s riches. They roam the Egyptian world of the dead, Duat. Introduced in Pirates in Hell, the conflicted duo has four connected, yet stand alone, adventures (so far 😊): “Curse of the Pharaohs” in Pirates in Hell
“Lovers Sans Phalli” in Lovers in Hell
“Fool’s Gold? in Mystics in Hell
“Bait and Switch” in Liars in Hell


What inspired you to write “Lovers Sans Phalli”?

Given the anthology theme of ‘lovers’ and given my heroes are damned to Duat, I researched relevant myths for inspiration and locked onto that of Osiris’s murder. Osiris was the Egyptian god of fertility and afterlife who was dismembered by his brother Set. Osiris’ wife Isis collected his body parts, including his sacred phallus, to enable the conception and birth of their son Horus.

For “Lovers Sans Phalli”, a dozen cursed pharaohs (all named Ramses) team with the infamous, tomb-raiding Howard Carter and discredited evolutionist Ernst Haeckel to repair the penis-less Osiris (who has no sovereignty presently in a realm ruled by Satan). It’s fun to have Carter and Haeckel deal with getting calibrated to being ‘dead’ (with ‘bodies’ that may not be whole in the ‘living’ sense) as they seek out the sacred penis. Of course, serious themes are buried under wild predicaments and satire. The reflective Haeckel considers ‘Are genitalia need for love?’ while Howard Carter, ever the opportunist, wonders: ‘How much is a god’s penis worth on the black-market?’


What is your advice to new authors?
Experiment with non-writing roles that bring a high return on investment to better your craft.

An issue (feature?) with writing today is that authors cannot exclusively write; they are compelled to be marketers, reviewers, editors, reviewers, etc. Every role has an opportunity cost (all that energy could be spent elsewhere). So, the question is: what efforts (beyond writing) can one perform that provide as many benefits as possible? Most include participating in larger communities.

A decade ago, I began interviewing authors to learn from them and to share their experiences/perspectives; that led to publishing opportunities and networking. Also, reviewing books helped me learn about new markets, while connecting with editors and publishers when I shared those reviews. I’m not keen enough to create content via podcasts, but that is obviously another way to simultaneously network while bettering one’s craft. Attending & volunteering at conventions is another way. I’ve attended World Fantasy Convention and GenCon Writer’s Symposium (GCWS), eventually participating on panels and have been on the organizing committee for three years now (chairing in 2023; next one is early August 2024, in Indianapolis). Not only are these great ways to meet/listen to panels with authors you can learn from, but volunteering at conventions allows for direct access to all sorts of folks in the industry (publishers, illustrators, editors). Writing/Reading groups (either in-person local clubs or online ones like Goodreads) offer community & opportunities too.


Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools.

Lovers in Hell: A Heroes in Hell Anthology
by Janet Morris
Genre: Dark Fantasy Anthology
Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools. Our damned lovers include: Christopher Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, Napoleon and Wellington, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hatshepsut and Senenmut, Abelard and Heloise, Helen and Penelope, Saint Teresa and Satan's Reaper, Madge Kendall and the Elephant Man, and more . . . -- all of whom pay a hellish price for indulging their affections.

Shakespeare said "To be wise and love exceeds man's might," and in Lovers in Hell, the damned in hell exceed all bounds as they search for their true loves, punish the perfidious, and avoid getting caught up in Satan's snares. In ten stories of misery and madness, hell's most loveless seek to slake the thirst that can never be quenched, and find true love amid the lies of ages.

Includes:
Never Doubt I Love – Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Love Interrupted – Nancy Asire
Lovers Sans Phalli – S. E. Lindberg
Fume of Sighs – Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Calamity – Michael E. Dellert
Love Triangle – Michael H. Hanson
A Hand of Four Queens – A. L. Butcher
Devil’s Trull – Andrew P. Weston
Withering Blights – Joe Bonadonna
Wrath of Love – Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Excerpt from Hell Gate – Andrew P. Weston


**On Sale for Only $2.99 until the end of the month!**
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“Lovers Sans Phalli” by S.E. Lindberg Excerpt
“May your spirit live, may you spend millions of years, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, your eyes beholding happiness.”

–Tutankhamun’s Wishing Cup Inscription and Howard Carter’s Epitaph
Parallel dams of fleshy refuse emerged on either side of Ammit. This sordid canal within the Lake of Fire guided them in a closed circuit. Regularly spaced obelisks, tilted at awkward angles, rose from the dikes. Mummies, suspended from these, wailed as they burned in harmony with their wind-snapped threads of cloth, flittering like ruined pennants from vanquished standards. Legs spread, their crotches and lower abdomens gaped, empty.

“They have lost their genitals,” Howard Carter gasped in horror.

“Indeed, they are not whole,” agreed Haeckel.

The tomb-raider’s eyebrows raised with excitement: “Ah ha, but I recognize that one!”

“Mister Carter, how do you know the identity of that mummy? Its screams are incoherent. There is no discerning mark on its body; it is burnt beyond recognition.”

“Ah, the cartouche beneath his crispy legs labels it. It must be Khafre. Ooh! Look at that one over there. That must be Snefru.”

Haeckel asked, “What is a cartouche?”

Howard pointed. “The enclosed inscription of hieroglyphs. They are signatures of royal Egyptians.”

Ramses III muttered in horror: “The next reads: ‘Menes.’”

Young XI, participating with reluctant enthusiasm, said, “And Narmer hangs just beyond.”

“A splendid game, this is!” Howard Carter identified a few more with glee: Amenhotep and Khufu.

Haeckel raised his heart to his compatriot in a friendly salute. “Prost! Gut gemacht.”

The defaced pharaohs could not play any longer. ‘Spotting-the-burning-pharaoh’ made the Rameses’ hearts grow too heavy for games. The displayed victims wailed continuously. Did they call out for help? Mercy? Or to mitigate pain?

Senenmut grew strangely excited. He began to recognize the landscape. There was hope, after all. He tried to inform Hatshepsut but she batted him away. “Shh. I am listening.”

“Djoser!” Carter flexed his arms victoriously. “I am winning!”

“Shut up, fools,” Hatshepsut commanded. “Can you not hear a boy screaming for his mother?”

“Yes, Ma’am . . . or . . . sir . . . I did hear a boy’s cries,” Carter confirmed to Hatshepsut.

All quieted until Ammit’s torso rocked suddenly. Her riders staggered and squatted to maintain balance as she steered her bulk through the canal. The chimera burped.

The abject ostrich feather previously anchored to her teeth shot free, floated in the air, and landed on Hatshepsut. What did it mean to hold the feather of Maat again? She placed it into her ebony hair, above her right ear.

“A boy! Over there,” shouted Young XI.

Hatshepsut’s heart beat faster with hope and anxiety. “Where?”

“On the right. Up ahead. Beside a chariot with wheels upended.”

The ghostly, scab-encrusted boy sat cross-legged atop the ruined vehicle, his right thigh bone splintered. The dangling ankle smoldered. A large hole in his left breast revealed his empty ribcage, his missing heart. Bony hands clutched an alabaster chalice filled with the blood-red offering of the Lake. Blistered skin pebbled his brow. His skull gazed with vacant eye sockets toward them while his mouth opened. The shattered boy rasped, “Make a wish.”

“What did he say?” Hatshepsut asked of any who might know. “Is that my Thutmose?”

Despite the missing cartouche, Carter identified the burnt remains silently. The victim’s height marked him a teenager. The floral cup carved from white rock could only belong to a single pharaoh. Oh, dear Tutankhamun. Your Lotus Chalice would sell very well. Carter salivated. No need to educate the others. Time was of the essence. “No matter his identity, we can save the boy. We must. We move swiftly on this creature’s back, but we can retrieve him. Hold my heart for a moment.” He tossed the organ to Ramses IV. “I’m the tallest with the longest reach. I think I can grab him as we pass. As I lean over the side, someone please counterbalance me.”

Ramses III held Carter’s left hand, allowing the tomb-raider to lean far starboard as Ammit’s advance brought him closer.

The injured boy outstretched his hands to meet his savior, extending his reach by holding out the alabaster cup.

Carter seized the chalice. The boy pulled oppositely. King Tut whispered with charred lips, “You! I recognize you. You shall not have my cup, thief! Instead, I shall have you.”

Tutankhamun released the Lotus Chalice to seize Carter’s forearms.

Ammit did not slow. Carter pulled King Tut from the grotesque levee. The youth pulled furiously at Carter while towed along. Ethereal water splashed violently against the boy’s face, filling his open mouth to pour from his opened chest. To all bearing witness, it appeared that Carter was trying to reel in the boy. In truth, he could not let go.

Tutankhamun’s skin finally peeled off. His skinned hands failed in their grip, leaving the boy bobbing in dark waves. The chalice dropped and sank.

“No!” Carter wept real tears and retrieved a handkerchief from his vest pocket to mop the mucus streaming from his nose. “I tried to save— I tried”— he sniveled, glaring at his empty hands— “the . . . the ca . . . cu . . .”

“Tutankhamun!” Hatshepsut finally recognized the adolescent pharaoh.

Carter squinted helplessly toward where the chalice had sunk.



About the Author:
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S. E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing his skills as a scientist and artist to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword and Sorcery genre, spurred him to write Dyscrasia Fiction: graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors.


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