Guest Post: A Day in the Life of Writing

By Cathy Jackson

The life of a writer is a strange and wonderful thing, and varies from person to person. To create new friends, introduce a reader to new places, and bring a novel to life is an amazing honor. It’s sometimes an easy process, but there are times we struggle to create even a simply phrase. Writing is an occupation that encompasses the mind and soul.

At least it does for me. My husband says I become manic when I write and “zone out” at the computer. To be perfectly honest, once I put in my earbuds and the music streaming from them enters my thoughts, most external influences fall away. My thoughts and feelings become centered on what I see in my mind’s eye. Everything I am becomes about relating what my imagination sends to my fingertips, and I get to convey, to the best of my ability, everything I see, hear, “touch,” “taste,” and “hear.”

One of the amazing things about being a writer is a sharp focus to give myself completely over to whatever is happening at the time. Whether something is happening on or off the page, there is a heightening of the senses that doesn’t seem to ever switch off. Often I’m overwhelmed, but have learned to temper what I’m sensing from around me.

A day in my life is crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My day pre-starts at 4 a.m. when my husband gets up for work. We chat as he dresses for the day, he reads a chapter or two out of the Bible and we pray, then I fall back to sleep for a few hours before it’s my turn to get up. I say a quick prayer, asking God to use me for His glory, and rouse our 15-year-old. He’s remote schooling this year. I pray with him, go through his studies, and then start the housework. Once the housework is done, I get to answer emails and messages on all my social networks. By then, it’s around noon, and I haven’t begun to write on any manuscript. If I am very lucky, I’ll have about two hours to promote one or two of my seventeen published novels before I write.

Lately, I’ve been writing about 30 minutes to an hour a day. The time is enough to release some of the creative energy and I feel great. One more check on our son’s school day before he logs off and I start dinner. We try to have dinner together as a family, schedules permitting this to happen, and then an hour or two of down-time with my husband before bed.

Every writer’s schedule is different, and each day brings its own challenges, but we couldn’t imagine not wanting to do what we do. We love it, and feel called to bring novels to readers. As an avid reader myself, I love when my favorite writers release new novels. It’s nice to read the thoughts from those who read the novels I write when they write a review. Those precious words encourage me and I’m grateful for each review I receive.

Min Eurozan by Cathy Jackson

I am no longer on Earth, nor any other place I know.

I have scant memory of how or why I came to be here.

Time continues to ebb and flow with my memories and the strange, seductive men who inhabit them.

The only constant is Love.

One owns my Body, he equally possesses and protects me.

One holds my Heart, wanting me as his friend and lover.

One challenges my Mind, he’s captured me with his patient intellect.

One completes my Soul, our love is the deepest and most pure.

One heats my Blood, bringing with him fire and need.

I love them all, and I love them as One.

 

Cathy Jackson is a midwestern Christian mother of two twentysomethings and two teenagers. Reading is a passion of hers, but she adores writing. Some of the best people have been placed in her life to help her publish her books. They are a blessing and mean more to her than they will ever know. She loves writing scenes that uplift and encourage along with making one feel the experience. She wants readers to finish the books feeling hope, love, and happiness. To date, the books she has published are inspirational (Christian) romances, but they have a contemporary romance feel.

Author Links:

On the Page with Jen Mulvihill

By J.L. Mulvihill

“The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!” Steve Martin screams out in excitement in the movie The Jerk.  “I’m somebody and this is the kind of spontaneous publicity that makes people.”

That is exactly how I feel every time a new book or story of mine comes out, or even when someone randomly mentions my name on Facebook. Ah, but this time I have gone bigger. This time a crazy person has allowed me to interview people on television for all the world to see ,and I am going to take advantage of this.

Okay, so maybe my show is not the only show to debut on Geeky Side TV, a new television network that has the geeky side of everyone talking. Geeky Side TV offers a peek into the world of

science, sci-fi, the abnormal and the paranormal.

My new show On the Page features me interviewing some of my favorite people, and I can’t believe that someone would just let me do that on television. It’s my total dream job, next to writing. My first interview is with one of the biggest and talented authors in paranormal romance, Sherrilyn (Kenyon) McQueen. I had the best time talking with her and listening to her share some fun childhood stories, like the time she traded her little brother for a wagon.

On the Page will be a weekly show of interviews, and I am hoping a little different from other interview shows. I decided when I was first asked to do this show that I would not ask the normal interview questions. Yes, of course everyone asks writers: Where do you get your ideas? What is your writing process? These are all very good questions and I love hearing the answers to them, but when an author has been asked the same questions over and over again, they tend to get a little cookie-cutter with their answers.

My evil plan is to ask questions they don’t expect. I don’t mean to dive into their deep dark secrets and embarrass them, I’m not that evil. I just think there are other ways to see people and who they are by asking what may seem like a simple question, but really shows you the depth of the person. If you want to find out what I mean, you will just have to watch the show.

I hope you will check out Geeky Side TV through Roku, Fire, or click on the link below. There are shows there that may intrigue you as well as my show, and lead you through a haunted New Orleans, cooking shows, or interviews with country western musicians. Yep, there is a wide variety of weekly shows and right now they are all free.

So, come on over to the Geeky Side and have some fun On the Page with Jen Mulvihill and Sherrilyn (Kenyon) McQueen.

 

Jen Mulvihill is an author who writes young adult, chillers, steampunk, and science fiction. You can find her works at jlmulvihill.com or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as J L Mulvihill. You can also buy her books directly from Literary Underworld.

So you want to be a romance writer….

It’s awesome.

Romance as a genre is one of the most generous communities out there. Are there problems? Sure. But as a whole, the authors are unbelievably generous with their time and experience, and the readers are nothing short of amazing.

I think that’s what happens when you’re the most commonly maligned target of all types of literature. There’s nothing more empowering than standing arm in arm against misogyny — either blatant or internalized — with literally millions of women worldwide who are voracious readers. (I say women because the vast majority of our readers and writers code female. We do have a growing number of male authors and readers, but our industry still leans heavily to women.)

Romance writers tend to be extraordinarily business-savvy in a way that many other authors have never had to be, all while delivering story after story that our readers crave. And the majority of us now do it all ourselves, sometimes while still writing for traditional publishers, as well.

Regardless of the opportunities available to authors these days, it’s not easy to write a romance novel. There’s no machine out there cranking out pre-recorded tropes that you can just mix and match. No matter how much readers love certain tropes, they won’t pick up your next book unless you’re also giving them great characters, solid plots, and meaningful conflicts. There are infinite ways to screw with your characters before they get their happy ever after.

Speaking of those happy endings: yes, they’re a must if you want to sell your book as a romance. Don’t even argue. Just accept it. The same way you’d never tag a book as a mystery if you didn’t reveal the murderer, them’s the rules for romance.

The only other requirement of the genre is that the relationship is the central focus of the story. Within those two parameters, the entire storytelling universe is at your fingertips. If you don’t want to adhere to those rules, that’s fine. Write whatever you like. But you’re writing a love story, and I’d strongly advise against marketing it as romance unless you’re wearing flame-retardant underpants.

There are no length requirements, and you don’t have to write sex scenes if you don’t want to. Literally anything goes. Blue alien barbarians rescuing kidnapped human women? Go for it. Time-traveling Scotsmen wooing modern day wedding dress designers? Write on. Bikers and billionaires and shapeshifting rodeo bulls? Do it. If you want to write sweet Amish romance, there’s a market for it. If you want to write a lawyer and a mechanic coming together in a BDSM dungeon, please do.

There is no shortage of real-life awfulness in the world. Writing stories that readers can depend on to deliver a smile or a cathartic emotional experience that ends in joy can give people what they need to make it through their toughest days.

You’re writing love. And that’s all we need.

Sela Carsen was born into a traveling family, then married a military man to continue her wandering lifestyle. With her husband of 20 years, their two teens, her mother, the dog and the cat, she is finally (temporarily) settled in the Midwest. Between bouts of packing and unpacking, she writes paranormal romances, with or without dead bodies. Your pick. 

 

 

BY SELA CARSEN
Mondarbre Press
CAROLINA WOLF: Debar Henry is living the meek librarian cliche, except for the teeny hint of magic in her blood. as the keeper of magical knowledge passed down from her ancestors, she’s content with her quiet existence in the tiny town of Culford, South Carolina.
But a monstrous attack could reveal her secret and end her life. Maddox Moreau was a happy lone wolf until the day he spotted pretty, bewitching Debra along the trails of the Congaree Swamp. When he saves her, his fate is bound up in hers, and they have to learn to work together in a hurry to defeat the spread of evil.
CAROLINA PEARL: Conn Lucas is the bastard son who inherited the family home on the Congaree Swamp in Culford, South Carolina. Now he only has to deal with his cousin sabotaging him, his ancestors haunting him, and his gorgeous neighbor distracting him.
Blair Moreau knows Conn is her mate, but he’s proving difficult to convince that they’re a fated pair. If only the stubborn man would let her help, all his problems would be solved.
It takes a wild night with a nail gun before thy find they work better together than they ever can apart.

Featured Artist: Matthew Branson

The Literary Underworld includes more than books! We have artists and musicians too (okay, one musician). One of our long-time members has been Branson’s General Store, which offers custom leatherwork, soaps, honey… we think it’s time you learned a bit more about Branson’s.

Matthew Branson has been doing leatherwork since he was a boy. He even worked at a leather store for a while. While leatherwork is his main passion, he really takes on any project that catches his interest.

Over the years he has taken up soapmaking, blacksmithing, sewing, making chainmail, and all kinds of random little projects. The rest of the family are also amateur beekeepers, so they have honey and beeswax to play with.

In 2010, the whole Branson family came together and opened an Etsy store called Branson’s General Store. The store is named for Matt’s great-uncle Reuben Branson, who ran the general store and post office in Branson, Mo., and after whom the town is named. The profits are used for the beekeeping business, to reinvest in craft supplies, and to donate to local charities.

Last year Matt decided to start a YouTube channel to share some of his knowledge and ideas with the world. Over the last year he has done lots of interesting little projects, including leather carving, blacksmithing, knife-making, and some random projects like wrapping an ax handle and building a new forge.

Matt is always finding new projects to get into, so subscribe to the channel to find out more! You can also order a simple leather mask through Literary Underworld, or contact Branson’s directly for something more elaborate.

Conflation!

This weekend is CONFLATION! Always a pile of fun, Conflation was the last con we were able to attend before the world fell apart. Everything afterward was canceled. Stupid virus.

Conflation is not taking place in real life this year. Instead, the organizers have developed an online convention that goes beyond the basic Zoom-panel deathmarch into a Second Life world, gaming site and more. Literary Underworld has been going to Conflation for years – in fact, a few years ago Conflation named LitUnd founder Elizabeth Donald as queen! (They don’t have GOH, they have royalty. Like I said, a pile of fun.)

We’re really looking forward to exploring this virtual playground with our friends from Conflation. In honor of the event, we’re offering a discount to attendees. In addition, we are donating a portion of all sales this week to the Metro-East Literacy Project, which promotes reading and literacy awareness on the Illinois side of the St. Louis area.

Here’s hoping more conventions will be able to return in real life soon, and in the meantime, remember to support small press authors by shopping at Literary Underworld.

Women in Horror Month

The Literary Underworld is proud to carry the works of many amazing women writers, and more than a few of them write horror! In honor of Women in Horror Month, here are some of our favorite recommendations for scary stuff:

In tales that range from spine-tingling to heart-breaking, A CITY OF GHOSTS brings to life an alternative, haunted history of Nashville.
At least eight of the authors in this creepy anthology are women, including editor Rachel Brune and Elizabeth Donald, founder of the Literary Underworld.

 

Co-edited by J.L. Mulvihill, this southern horror collection includes several women authors exploring the haunted homes, landmarks and roads of the south.
A scary blend of science fiction and horror from T.K. Reilly.

 

And, of course, there’s the work of Elizabeth Donald, who has written at least a dozen novels, novellas and short stories in the horror genre. Check out these titles from Elizabeth:

 

Settle in for an evening of terror and suspense, from the trenches of World War I to the frozen Antarctic wastes to a creature that haunts the night streets of San Antonio… Elizabeth’s novel “Yanaguana” continues her Blackfire series!

 

Coppice & Brake is an anthology of dark fiction, featuring tales from the borderlands of horror, speculative fiction, and the nightmare fears that linger even after you turn on the lights. Authors include Literary Underworld director Elizabeth Donald.

 

These are the dark, ethereal songs of Moonlight Sonata, stories bound to disturb your sleep and chill your heart. A new collection from the award-winning author of Setting Suns and Nocturne Infernum, Elizabeth Donald has been called “a storytelling ability to rival that of Stephen King.”

 

In this alternate Memphis, vampires are a dark underclass whose bite offers pleasure and pain in one sweet kiss. Humans take advantage of the pleasures vampires can provide, but call them friends? Lovers? The strain between human and vampire grows as death rises in the streets…

 

In that space between evening and nightfall, between consciousness and sleep, the moment when the light fades and the shadows take over… These are the lands of the Setting Suns.

 

A tale of darkness and light, of twisted ritual and flickering faith. Enter the shadow of St. Augustine’s… and pray.
Some bridges shouldn’t be crossed. All that can kill you is what you carry with you, and what Dale and Ariane carry could destroy their dreams of forever.

Guest voices: Edale Lane on the writing process

From our friends at Seventh Star Press: Edale Lane is the author of an award winning 2019 debut novel, Heart of Sherwood. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Vlad a Novel, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in history and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication in regard to research. She is a successful author who also currently drives a tractor-trailer across the United States. A native of Vicksburg, Miss., Edale (or Melodie as the case may be) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature.

My Writing Process – from research to manuscript to editing

A lot of work goes into writing a novel; some may even say blood, sweat, and tears. And there are as many successful ways to approach and carry out this momentous labor of love as there are authors who endeavor in the process. I will give you a brief look at the methods I use.

Which comes first—the plot, the characters, the setting, the theme, or do they just all meet somewhere in the middle? When I wrote Heart of Sherwood, the idea that popped into my head was to write a gender-bent version of the Robin Hood story, and all the vital elements were there from the conception. For the Night Flyer Trilogy, I’d have to say it was the setting paired with the superhero element. I wanted to write a story that was unique, with a seldom-used era and location. While some novels are set in Renaissance Italy, they are few and far between compared to Medieval, Regency, Old West, World War II, etc. I began to think, what if there was a kind of “Batwoman” who lived in the time of Leonardo da Vinci? What inventions could she come up with? What bad guys might she face?

That led me to conceptualize the characters of Florentina, Madelena, and Alessandro, but before I could begin I needed to research to discover exactly where and when the action would take place. I knew Florentina was a former student of da Vinci and chose Milan because of the wealth of its merchant class, as well as being a city da Vinci lived in for a time. Also to timing, I wanted one of his significant works of art to be completed for my characters to see—the Last Supper—and I planned to include an epic battle scene, so there needed to be a war happening.

When I discovered that the story was too long to fit into one book, I broke it into three acts and started writing book one. Every time I needed to set a scene, there was research: what variety of trees and flowers grew there, what would each person be wearing, what did the furniture look like. I never completed a chapter without half a dozen windows open in my browser to check the accuracy of every detail. The same thing is true with everything I write. The thesaurus is also open as so I can check if a word was in use. Choosing language was easier with Heart of Sherwood because they spoke English (and French, but for simplicity’s sake I stuck with English); for the Night Flyer series I just made sure a word wasn’t too modern while throwing in Italian terms of endearment. Writing and researching were an intertwined duo throughout from beginning to end.

Authors have differing methods of planning their books. After conjuring the concept, my next step is to create a notes file. Here I first do character sketches of my primary cast (and add to it when I introduce a secondary character). I like to “see” my players and have an easy reference if I forget a detail about them. They have physical descriptions, but also characteristics, mannerisms, likes and dislikes, so that fully realized people inhabit the pages. Next, I jot down a plot outline which invariably sees tweaks and changes as the story flows onto the pages. (Guess that makes me both a “plotter” and a “pantser”!) I also include historical information, places and dates, etc. on the notes pages. Back in the day, I wrote all of this out in longhand in a notebook and then wrote the manuscript in pencil to make corrections easier. (I REALLY like doing it on a computer much better!)

As I complete each chapter, I send it to my partner and we read over it together. She is good at finding mistakes and makes good observations and suggestions, but I save the in-depth editing for when the manuscript is finished. Not every writer does this, but I find that I finish a novel faster this way. It is easy to get bogged down in editing and when I get on a roll I just want to flow with it.

When all is said and done, I go back one chapter at a time and use an editing program to help me make changes and corrections. While there are a lot of good ones, I use ProWritingAid. There is also checking the manuscript using the search and find word tool to be sure I have spelled all the names the same each time I used them. Spelling is a real Achilles’ heel for me! I also evaluate if a passage is relevant, or if further explanation is necessary, does it need less or more? Is my presentation of characters and language consistent? Can I “see” the action sequences as I read them? And even though my works are historical fantasy, I focus on the question, “Is this believable?” because I want the reader to come away thinking that this could have really happened.

Because of my day job as an over-the-road truck driver, I have limited time to get my book typed up, so I think up everything—characters, action, dialog, climaxes, etc—while I’m driving down the road. I have a voice recorder to take notes on. I will replay a scene repeatedly in my head so that when I park I can type it up fast, except for the time needed to research the details.

So, that’s my current process: create, plan, deviate from plan, then go back and fix what doesn’t work. Hopefully, the finished product is one that will inform, inspire, and delight the reader.

One woman stands between chaos and order – the Night Flyer.

When chaos strikes at the heart of Milan, it is up to Florentina’s alter-ego the Night Flyer to stop it. As Florentina and Madelena’s love deepens, so does the well of danger surrounding them. The race is on to discover the mysterious Shadow Guild and uncover who is behind the deadly rampage, but Florentina’s mission is threatened by a gang of assassins. Can the Night Flyer prevail, or will Maddie’s love be ripped from her arms?

Chaos in Milan is the third book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like action and suspense, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and a sweet romance, then you’ll want to complete the Night Flyer saga.

Check out the rest of the Chaos in Milan blog tour!

Pick up Chaos in Milan on Kindle, Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

NEW: Methuselah’s Legacy

We are delighted to announce a new title from one of our members, T.W. Fendley! Her new novel explores more of her rich and fascinating science fiction worlds. Read more about Methuselah’s Legacy, soon to be available at the Literary Underworld!

A conversation with T.W. Fendley

Q. Why did you start writing

A. Storytelling has always been a part of my life. As preschoolers, my older sister and I would create stories when we were supposed to be sleeping. We’d jump on our twin beds and take turns telling the next segments as quickly as we imagined them. Until our Mom returned with a stern warning to get to sleep… “and I mean now!” Later I wrote stories about the lives of my beloved model horses, inspired by Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, and I wrote for the school paper staff instead of taking P.E. I majored in journalism in college, which over the years has allowed me to continue to learn, as well as pay my bills. When I needed more creativity in my life, I began writing fiction.  

Q. Why did you choose your particular genre? 

A. Putting together ideas in new and unusual ways is fun for me. I love to weave together science and spirituality, myth and history, fact and fantasy. Science fiction and fantasy are perfect genres for doing just that.

Q. What inspired the idea for your current novel/project? 

A. The concept of a longevity serum came to me twenty-three years ago while I was hunting for story ideas during the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. I imagined what truths about humanity are encoded in our genes, which eventually led me to write two short stories and now Methuselah’s Legacy. The novel’s longer format allowed me to share some of the possibilities with remote viewing–an intuitive-based protocol for precognitive predictions I’ve been practicing since 2009.

Q. What was the most useful advice you got as a  beginning writer? 

A. One of the Clarion instructors said it wasn’t always the best writers who got published, but those who persevered. While confident about my writing skills, I was even more sure of  my tenacity. Stubbornness can be a great attribute for a writer.  

Q. What are you doing next? 

A. Now that Methuselah’s Legacy and my young adult sci-fi novel Moonblood are published, I’m revisiting the Zero Time universe and Xmucane’s home planet, Omeyocan, where the expedition to Earth began. I’m also writing some short stories that have been on the back burner for a while. The trick for me is keeping the plot simple. Most of my stories want to become novels! 


Lilith Davidson has nothing to lose. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, her only hope for survival rests in an experimental longevity serum she herself helped to develop using an intuitive-based protocol known as remote viewing.

She never dreamed the treatment could be so wildly effective… nor did she expect its unusual side effect.

Now, as Lilith and the other eleven Methuselah Pioneers struggle to embrace the serum’s gift, powerful forces condemn their miracle cure as a violation of life’s natural order and threaten their lives. Will the treatment help humanity or tear society apart?

Preorder today! Releasing in February 2021

LiteraryUnderworld.com (print)

Amazon.com (ebook)


REVIEW:

Readers of sci-fi that revolves around genetic manipulation and human transformation will welcome a story that is vivid and fast-paced, containing many elements that will keep them engrossed to the end. It’s more than a cut above most science-oriented surveys because its inclusion of social norms, political responses, and revised visions of what it means to be an altered human are especially well detailed.” — D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Methuselah’s Legacy asks thought-provoking questions and challenges hard-felt beliefs about life and love, while being an exciting tale of treachery and fanaticism. T.W. Fendley’s latest novel has readers turning the page until the end, and asking: would you take the treatment for a second chance at life?”– Brad R. Cook, author of The Iron Chronicles


T.W. Fendley is an award-winning author whose published works include Zero Time, a historical fantasy novel for adults, and young adult speculative fiction novels, Moonblood and The Labyrinth of Time. Teresa’s short stories are available on Kindle and Audible. She fell in love with ancient American cultures while researching story ideas at the 1997 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Since then, Teresa has trekked to archeological sites in the Yucatan, Peru, and American Southwest. She began writing fiction in 2007 after working more than 25 years in journalism and corporate communication. When she’s not writing, Teresa explores the boundaries of consciousness through remote viewing and shamanism. She currently lives near St. Louis with her artist husband and his pet fish.

Learn more at https://twfendley.com and on her remote viewing website, http://www.arv4fun.com.

New: The Dark Walk Forward

A new dark-gothic collection from acclaimed horror writer John McFarland is out just in time for the holidays! McFarland is a long-time member of the Literary Underworld, with work ranging from dark fantasy like The Black Garden to offbeat children’s books like Annette: A Big Hairy Mom.

Now his new collection has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly! “McFarland tempers his frights with the mercy of familial love and sympathy for outsiders and victims. Horror readers will be riveted.”

Q: What was your first paid published work?

A: Actually my first paid published work were drawings, not writing so much. In the 1970’s surrealistic drawings by an artist called B. Kliban were all the rage. He published several books, which were the precursors of Gary Larsen’s Far Side, including several about cats. I did a parody of Kliban’s cat books called Kill A Cat and sent it to The National Lampoon. P. J. O’Rourke, the editor at that time, loved it and paid me the princely sum of $750. Scheduling mishaps at the magazine kept pushing the publication date back until the subject was no longer timely, and it never appeared. They never asked for their money back, though.

Q: Who are your favorite writers?

A: Like most boys who turn out like me, my favorite writers as a kid were Poe, Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, but also the likes of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Hitchens. In college I discovered James Joyce (of Dubliners), William Faulkner and especially Flannery O’Connor. O’Connor’s work was a revelation to me, small town country boy that I was. She seemed to know every one of my relatives and she has had a lifelong effect on my work. I visited her childhood home in Savannah, Ga. and Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville, where she did her mature work. I am fortunate enough to own a signed first edition of The Violent Bear It Away, and a series of watercolor concept are studies for covers for her books.

Q: What are you doing next?

A: Two novels are in the works. My current publisher, Dark Owl, has shown interest in re-issuing my 2010 book The Black Garden, and then its sequel, tentatively titled Azmiel’s Daughter. I am also working on a ghost story novel, called Phrygia House. Also, DOP has shown interest in publishing my Young Reader series Bigfoot stories, Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom.

Q: Was there anyone who inspired you as a beginning writer?

A: I actually touch on this in my acknowledgements section in The Dark Walk Forward. As a teen, I corresponded with both Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. I asked the usual young admirer dumb-ass questions, but they were both, especially Bradbury, very kind and generous with their responses.

A: Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?

A: Both, but mostly seat of my pants. I always have a general idea of where I want a narrative to go, but as the cliche goes, the story seems to take on a life of its own as you go along. I was amazed at this process when writing The Black Garden. Connections, plot points, twists and turns just popped into my head as I wrote. No one was more surprised at how it turned out than I.


JOHN MCFARLAND’S first novel, The Black Garden, was published in 2010. His work has appeared in The Twilight Zone Magazine, Eldritch Tales, National Lampoon, River Styx, Tornado Alley and the anthology A Treasury of American Horror Stories, which also included stories by Stephen King, Richard Matheson and H.P. Lovecraft. He is a lifelong Bigfoot enthusiast, and Annette: A Big Hairy Mom was his first novel for young readers and is in print in three languages. He has written extensively on historical and arts-related subjects and has been a guest lecturer in fiction at Washington University in St. Louis.


The small town of Ste. Odile in America has experienced the Great War in ways that no one should ever have to endure.

Doctors must tend to births and deaths that make their most difficult cases seem benign.

An 1880s schoolteacher is faced with the worst blizzard of her time and must save the children under her charge.

A young man searches for his father the abandoned orphanage the older man owns… and both know they will despair at what they find.

A primitive woman experiences colonization and the stereotypes of men, yet finds her own method of retribution.

John S. McFarland has slogged through his characters’ woes and woven them into sweetly emotional yet acutely distressful tales. We as readers are forced to understand the pain, the despair, and sometimes the hope of his creations.

We realize we are lucky to live in the era we do. We also realize anything can change to tear us apart. Is it fate? Destiny? Or do we bring about these changes on our own? McFarland will let us know.

Preorder your copy today from the Literary Underworld!

Reviews

McFarland’s writing is lush and sensual, filled with textures, sounds, smells, and primal terrors that have lurked beyond the firelight since prehistory. –Kenneth Anderson, editor of Charon II

“John McFarland has a talent for drawing horror from raw human emotion. The Dark Walk Forward is heartbreaking and sad as well as frightening, with characters that linger in the mind long after the pages have turned.” — Elizabeth Donald, author of Moonlight Sonata, Setting Suns, and Nocturne Infernum.

“McFarland tempers his frights with the mercy of familial love and sympathy for outsiders and victims. Horror readers will be riveted.” ~ Publishers Weekly

LitUnd Holiday Gift Guide!

What better way celebrate the holidays (and the impending end of 2020, thank Zod) than to support authors and artists through these times and introduce your friends and family to something new?

We have a few suggestions for your list. (You thought we might.) Remember that when you buy from Literary Underworld, you are buying from the authors and small presses directly, so they will get to keep much more of the sale price. Every little bit helps your favorite author keep creating those fascinating new worlds. 

For obvious reasons, this year we have to sadly suspend our pickup service for St. Louis residents. Instead we are offering $8 flat-rate shipping OR free shipping for orders of $49 or more!


For the romance fan…

The Carolina Wolf box set by Sela Carsen ($7) combines Carolina Wolf and Carolina Pearl, two tales of werewolves and true love in South Carolina. Whoever said there were no wolves in South Carolina lied. Put a little grrrrl power into your romp in the swamp this holiday season!

Heart of the Beast by Jim D. Gillentine ($20) tells the story of Andrew, a man with a beastly secret, and his horrifying journey with his love Angela from the dark streets of Memphis to the cold reaches of Alaska, from faraway places to deep within each other’s souls, seeking peace and freedom to love one another – if only the world would let them.

Princess by Mistake by Kit Tunstall ($7). What started out as the worst day ever just got worse. Incorrectly identified as her strange roommate, curvy Jory finds herself spirited away by an intergalactic bounty hunter intent on returning her to the prince she’s expected to marry. Except she’s no princess, and forget a prince when she could have the sexy, magenta-skinned alien instead – if he’ll accept that she’s a mistaken princess and give in to the desire simmering between them.


For the fantasy fan…

Throne of the Bastards by Steven L. Shrewsbury ($15). Learning that his family is in danger, Rogan returns to his former kingdom, now under siege from foreign invaders and supernatural forces led by his bastard son. With time running out, the aging barbarian must forge an alliance of new friends and old foes to retake the kingdom.

The Blood of Angels trilogy by Sara M. Harvey ($25) is, sadly, going out of print. Only a few are left! Snag your copies before they’re gone, and treat yourself (or your favorite steampunk fan) with the tales of Imogen and Portia, lovers and users of dark magic separated by intrigue and death. Includes Convent of the Pure, Labyrinth of the Dead and Tower of the Forgotten.

Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan ($10). When the Preternatural and Magical Squadron dumps an ugly batch of child serial murders into her lap, DJ Admire has a few weeks to find the killer before the next victims are found dead in their own little beds. On the Nightside of Memphis, few things are as they seem and even allies have their own agendas. And DJ has no magic, just a Desert Eagle and an ongoing romance with Captain Morgan and Admiral Nelson…


For the weird Western fan…

Mojo Hand by Steven L. Shrewsbury ($15) After a gun battle in an 1884 Peoria cathouse, one-armed ex-Confederate guerrilla Joel Stuart finds himself at odds with dire magical forces. He runs headfirst into an army of the undead, a demon guard, the persona of African god Damballah, and even finds himself beneath the lid of a coffin.

Last Man Screaming by Steven L. Shrewsbury ($15) is a tale of action, courage and terror. Last Man Screaming will appeal of readers of Lovecraftian lore, tough westerns and horror. It teaches that survival isn’t always pretty…

The Alamo and Zombies by Jean A. Stuntz ($5) is exactly what it says! Zombies at the Alamo, what else could you want?


For the horror fan…

Red Diamond by Michales Joy ($10). There’s a monster coming to the small town of Pikeburn. In half an hour, it will begin feeding on the citizens, but no one will call the authorities for help. They are the ones who sent it to Pikeburn. They are the ones who are broadcasting the massacre live to the world…

Nocturne Infernum by Elizabeth Donald ($20) compiles the three books of the Nocturnal Urges series into one volume filled with heat, horror and intrigue. In this alternate Memphis, vampires are a dark underclass whose bite offers pleasure and pain in one sweet kiss. Humans take advantage of the pleasures vampires can provide, but call them friends? Lovers? The strain between human and vampire grows as death rises in the streets…

Stories We Tell After Midnight ($10). Here, the shadows keep their secrets and the moon hides from deeds cast in her glow. In this collection, the Fae walk as human, the dead burn with their anger at the living, the creatures that live in the dark places of the wrong zip code creep out of the shadows and into the kitchen.

Planet of the Dead ($5) by T.K. Reilley. Commander Kate Daniels expected to find incompetency when sent to assess the terraforming progress on Primos. She didn’t expect a saboteur to force a crash landing, stranding them at the mercy of the hungry creatures roaming the planet.


For the sci-fi fan…

Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer. For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence. A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore.

Paradise Earth by Anthony Mathenia ($12) is a deconstruction of faith at the end of the world and beyond. When blazing balls of fire fall from the sky, a religious sect interprets it as the fulfillment of long-held prophecies foretelling the end of the world. The members flee to their religious sanctuary, believing that this global cataclysm is the portent of a new paradise of eternal happiness. Inside, one cold and starving man struggles to hold onto his hope for the future as the torturous night drags on and he struggles to hold onto his hope for the future.

Ace’s Odds by Sela Carsen ($10). Mkhai is a former soldier in debt to the mob boss who runs a glitzy, glamorous space station casino hiding a dark underworld. The only hand he’s got left to play is getting the mob boss’s daughter off the station… but Silbe is no pampered princess, even if her father is one of the most feared men in the galaxy. Embroiled in a desperate scheme to keep her family safe, Silbe must team up with a roguish smuggler who makes her want to bet on him with everything she’s got.


For the comic reader…

Out of the Blue Vol. 2 ($15) offers both tricks and treats for horror fans, filled with 125 pages of comics and art from more than 50 creators.

Hunter’s Lore ($15) is a graphic novel set in a time of quiet peace, as a remnant from a Knightly order lingers on; not to protect the people of the world from injustice, but to simply maintain their old guard. The order of the Knights of the Black Star have buried themselves away from the common people, unaware of the dangers that lurk from beyond their gaze…


For the YA reader…

Katana by Cole Gibsen ($10). Rileigh Martin gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial-arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior. Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana – a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her. (Splurge on the trilogy for $25!)

The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill ($15) is the first book of the Steel Roots series. Born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia. At least, that is what Papa Steel always told AB’Gale. But now, fifteen years later, the man who adopted and raised her as his own is missing and it’s up to AB’Gale to find him. (Or splurge on the whole series for $40!)

Redheart by Jackie Gamber ($10). Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her.


For something shorter…

Between the Lines ($15). Stoker Award-winning editor and author Michael Knost gave his online writing students an opening sentence and a closing sentence and asked them to write a story. Every story opens with: “Kelvin pressed against the wound as blood seeped around his hands.” And ends with: “Watching the train disappear into the night, he brought the flower to his nose before tossing it to the tracks.” This anthology is the amazing result.

Moonlight Sonata by Elizabeth Donald ($15-30) is a collection of award-winning short stories of the Twilight-Zone-creepy design. Imagine a haunted church, where the ground has turned sour and something walks in the shadows to the mournful hymns. A silent covered bridge that no one dares to cross. Angry spirits that cry out from beneath the ground of a cemetery that will not lie still.

Support an important cause with When the Shadow Sees the Sun ($15), a collection of essays and short stories exploring the impact of depression on the creative life. All profits from sales of this anthology are donated to a local suicide prevention nonprofit.


For the cosplayer…

A handmade leather mask (no, not that kind of mask) is the perfect stocking stuffer for the cosplayer on your list! Branson’s General Store has a variety of colors in the simple $5 design, so be sure to indicate your preferred colors!


As always, we at Literary Underworld appreciate your continued support of the small press and our authors, especially in these trying times. We hope the very best for you and your family in this holiday season, and here’s to a better year in 2021. (It would almost have to be, wouldn’t it?)

Use the code BLACKFRIDAY2020 for 10 percent off your order! Exp. 11.30.20