Nick Rowan, Local Kitchen Witch

By Nick Rowan

It’s been a busy summer, and a busy year for me, loves.

I’m still driving the school bus. I am The Local Kitchen Witch, and training more. So I cook for bunches of pagans twice a year. Festival of Souls is in October. Ancestor Ritual, Witches’ Ball, Candle Labyrinth. Kithaka Dun is in May. Wild Hunt, Maypole, and this year SJ Tucker is playing a concert.

Both are terrific times. Come out and join us in the woods.

I’ve been doing Grandma duty to two adorable boys. Hunter is 6 and Alexander will be 2 in November.

But my 2021, so far:

~~~
January saw the re-issue of Glad Hands, with a new cover and about 20 percent more new material. It, like all of the Eight Thrones Books, is under the Angelia Sparrow name.

Chuck Hummingbird has a big rig and a big heart. Even as a boy, he took in every stray and injured animal and person around him. Now, even though he is speed-running through some of the most hostile territory in the DisUnited States, he can’t say no to rescuing a pretty blue-eyed gay boy in Heartland. And that just increased the danger level of his run from normal to expert.

This is a dystopian gay trucker romance.

~~~

Temple Secrets from the Cult of Cheesecake came out in December and is available in ebook or print. It’s our church cookbook, and I love it. It’s perfect bound because spiral wasn’t available anymore. It’s good food, some with good stories. The following made my father wibble a little, as it’s his mom’s bread pudding.

Bread Pudding – Nina Fantz

Nick’s grandma taught him to make bread pudding. This is very basic stuff, no fancy whiskey sauce here. When Nick’s mom was terminal with leukemia, he made this for her frequently during the month he took care of her. It was one thing she had no problem eating, despite chemo killing her appetite.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  • 2 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. 1″ stale bread cubes
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)

Directions:

Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Stir in bread cubes. Stir in brown sugar and raisins. Pour into 8″ round cake pan. Place in large shallow pan on center rack of oven. Pour hot water into larger pan 1″ deep. Bake 350° about 45 minutes, or until knife comes clean.

~~~

In July, I was a prolific little succcubus. (Succubi and incubi are the same demon, they just shapeshift depending on situation. As does my gender-fluid self.) Not only did I have a drag show early in the month, I wrote a lot.

~~~~

As Angelia, I published a sexy short, “Dangerous Game.” This is a fun little piece that manages to combine Real Person Fanfic from the Memphis drag community, multiple personalities, Jekyll and Hyde cosplay and yet remain heterosexual.

When Valentina’s guy heats up the stage as Dr. Jekyll during a show, she lets him know he’s got her heated up too. And wackiness ensues.

~~~

Also as Angelia, I compiled a Busy Night cookbooklet of freezer meals and slow-cooker dishes. It’s stuff that has always worked well for us. No flavor text or cute stories, just recipes. We’re busy, after all. Includes my famous Pasta Fazool. One of my drag characters performs as a zombie Dean Martin—complete with oversized martini glass and eyeballs for olives–and does “That’s Amore” while visibly restraining himself from eating the audience.

When the stars make you drool
Just like Pasta fazool
That’s Amore

Dean O’Bedlam’s Pasta Fazool (no eyeballs)

  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 can (14 to 15 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can (14 to 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 to 15 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) tomato-basil marinara or pasta sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-1/4 cups dry pasta
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, optional, for serving
  • Grated Parmesan, optional, for serving

Freeze all items except pasta in a ziplock. Dump into cooker, with 4 cups of water. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours, or until the vegetables are as tender as you like them. When ready to serve, stir the cooked pasta into the soup. Taste the soup and adjust the salt and herbs to suit your tastes.

~~~

Last August saw the reissue of Curse of the Pharaoh’s Manicurists, now with 80 percent less sex and 100 percent more characterization.

This summer, I edited on the sequel, Terror of the Frozen North. About 20% less sex, more plot and action. It will be out… unknown. As Thoth wills it.

I also continued writing on the third, Mystery of the Monkey God, and have roughed out the fourth, Dance in the Graveyard.

~~~

I did something a bit foolish, perhaps. I started an OnlyFans. It was intended to be a “Watch me Clean and Exercise” channel, but I haven’t done much of either. But it is some fun stuff and the pics are a bit sexier than we normally see.

And when the weather cools down, I will have Gabriel do me up a Lady Dimetriscu shoot. I have the costume.

~~~

In early August, I pinned down Gabriel, finally, and we took a weekend to rewrite Master Anton, fourth in the Eight Thrones series. It needed it. Unfortunately, we got through the book, then added a scene about 60 pages from the end which means we will have to entirely rewrite the end. Oops, so more rewriting is in our future.

~~~

I have the cover for Captain Calamity’s Bedside Reader, a collection of steampunk stories. The book itself is edited and needs formatting. I hope to have it out in time for Black Friday sales.

~~~

My next show is Sept. 10 at Black Lodge, and the theme was A Mad Tea Party. I did Alice Cooper dressed as Alice Liddle performing “Welcome to my Nightmare.” And for Shinedown’s “Her Name is Alice,” I was her shrink who morphed into the Cheshire cat during the song. My video performance list is here.

~~~
My Patreon will be running Sounds of the Season (Halloween music), with crafts, recipes etc. and Yuletide Youtube, Lucky 13, this year. I am also watching as many of the IMDB greatest horror films as I can find, and reviewing them, plus some extras. Tod Browning’s Dracula is not on the list which I consider a serious omission.

$1 gets a lot of online goodies. $5 gets ebooks, $10 gets paperbacks.

~~~

Ways you can support me:

Patreon. Get writing and pics of the say and sometimes crafted goodies:

I have a list here. Some of these are cash-back apps. You get money back, it costs you nothing, and I get a kickback from the app. Win, win win.

Links to all my books currently in print: Here.

Links to me: Nick Rowan, Violetta, Angelia Sparrow.

~~~

How do I do it all and hold down a full time job? 400 words a day. Two chapters of editing a day. And when the muse is upon me (not the kittens or Stratus who are always on me) I ride with her as far as she will take me.

Until next time, my freaky darlings,

Nick.

NICK ROWAN is a bus driver who lives quietly in the mid-south. He writes and crafts to support his yarn habit, You can follow him on Facebook (NickRowan) or Patreon (NickRowan) or Twitter (@NickRowan16) or Tumblr (nicholasrowan) or blogger (NicholasRowanSp) or Etsy (thecarpenterswyfe). Nick has been writing professionally since 2004 as Angelia Sparrow.

 

 

 

End of an era

By Elizabeth Donald

This month was a milestone for me, as my long-running short-story anthology finally went out of print after 15 years and I sold my last copy at a book signing in Memphis.

Setting Suns wasn’t my first book, but it was the first to appear in paperback. Way back in the dawn of the ebook era, my first novel Nocturnal Urges came out from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, but they only published in ebook (two years before there was even such a thing as a Kindle!). If the ebook did well, they released it in paperback later.

Nocturnal Urges came out and it sold well, won awards and the publisher demanded a sequel despite all the people insisting, “I’ll wait until the real book comes out.” I kept yelling, “It IS a real book! Ebooks are real books!” Now people look at my paperbacks and say, “I’ll get the ebook,” and I want to yell, “Where were you in 2005??”

I was working on that sequel when Frank Fradella, founder of New Babel Books, came to me with the idea of putting my short stories into a collection. I’d published a handful of short stories in horror and science fiction magazines that had a disturbing habit of going out of business right after they published me. I was the Typhoid Mary of the small press in the early 2000s. Frank suggested collecting those stories and writing another half-dozen or so just for the collection, and thus Setting Suns was born.

It wasn’t my first book. But it was the first time I opened a box of books and saw my name on the cover. Ask any writer about that moment, and see the look in their eyes when they remember.

Setting Suns has been in print for 15 years, give or take, and that’s one hell of a good run for a small press collection. It won the Darrell Award for best short story for “Wonderland,” a weird little Frankenstein riff told entirely in emails and online chats that gave Frank apoplexy in layout, and contains two of my most popular short stories: “Sisyphus,” a tragedy exploring toxic grief and lost love; and “Jesus Loves Me,” known as the Evil Teddy Bear story.

The Evil Teddy Bear still exists, here in my office. And there were T-shirts.

But there are other stories that didn’t get as much attention. There’s “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” a literal funhouse horror piece that looks at the different kinds of love a person can have for the people in her life, plus crazy man with gun.

There’s “Silent,” which was one of my very first short stories to be published for money, that smacks of a haunted house as told by The Twilight Zone. There’s “Deep Breathing,” a future-world submarine scarefest involving a monster several readers have referred to as “Cthulu-esque” which was funny because I’d never read Lovecraft at that point.

There’s “Memory Lane,” another escapee from Twilight Zone about a husband’s desperate search to find his missing wife, and the dark secrets that come to light. That one began as my first attempt at a short-film screenplay, rewritten as a short story for Setting Suns.

There’s “Gauntlet,” an action-flick of a science fiction story set in my Sanctuary universe that only reaaaaally dedicated readers know about, since it’s had a couple of stories published but the novels remain in the trunk until I get them to not suck. Three of the Setting Suns stories are set in Sanctuary, but “Gauntlet” is my favorite.

There are even two stories that would qualify as “literary” with no SFFH elements whatsoever, though entering an MFA program and exploring literary fiction was the absolute last thought on my mind in the waning years of my twenties.

After 15 years, Setting Suns was still the “entry drug” for Elizabeth Donald fiction. Long-time readers sometimes tell me it’s their favorite of my titles (which is a little humbling since I’ve published maybe fourteen books and novellas since then, give or take a few).

I’m gonna miss the old girl.

I want to thank Shane Moore, current publisher of New Babel Books, for working with me to put Setting Suns out of print with grace.

I also want to thank Frank Fradella, who is no longer with New Babel Books, for his contributions to making Setting Suns what it was. The book was Frank’s idea, and his editing, layout and design coupled with the cover art from Darren Holmes made a wonderful book that I was proud to call my first.

Thanks also go to Jason R. Tippitt, who co-authored one of the stories with me (“I Live With It Every Day”) and served as sounding board and inspiration through much of the book’s development. I very rarely work in partnerships – I don’t play well with others – and it is a testament to Jason’s patience and skill that our story turned out well. The book was dedicated to Jason, who is a fine writer and I hope you’ll hear more from him in times to come.

It’s been a terrific run for my first “real” book, at least as far as I’m concerned. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Elizabeth Donald is a dark fiction writer fond of things that go chomp in the night. She is a three-time winner of the Darrell Award for speculative fiction and finalist for the Prism and Imadjinn awards, author of the Blackfire urban fantasy series and Nocturne vampire mystery series, as well as other novels, novellas and stories in the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres. More recently, she was awarded the Mimi Zanger Literary Award for fiction. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld small-press cooperative; an award-winning journalist and essayist with more than twenty years in journalism; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She is currently completing two masters degrees at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and teaches newswriting and English composition at the university. She serves as president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists and Eville Writers, vice president of Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Tau Delta at the university, and is a member of the national SPJ Ethics Commission, AEJMC, Editorial Freelancers Association and many other organizations for which she volunteers. She lives with her family in a haunted house in Edwardsville, Illinois. In her spare time, she has no spare time. 

www.elizabethdonald.com

www.donaldmedia.com

elizabethdonaldphotography.com

Writing isn’t Exactly a Healthy Profession

By Nicole Lanahan

It’s no secret that a writer’s job requires a lot of sitting—there are days when the only time I get out of my chair is to get a refill of coffee. And let me tell you, that much butt-in-seat action may be good for your writing output, but it’s not good for your butt—or in my case, my cholesterol. I had my annual bloodwork done at the beginning of the year, and the results were not great.

I’m getting older. It happens to the best of us. And my body can’t rebound from writing like it could when I was in my 20s. Let’s face it, most writers have day jobs and families. How are we supposed to go to the gym and cook healthy meals when we’re trying to meet deadlines?

The pandemic has been hard on all of us. If you were like me, most of your dinner came from a bag. The result was exactly what you’d think it would be. I was tired all the time, my complexion was a mess, and my cholesterol was through the roof. After a pretty serious conversation with my doctor, I promised to make some changes. I’ve started walking daily at the park and started making healthy eating choices. So this year I vowed to make a change and I’m happy to say I’m down nearly twenty pounds since January, I have more energy, my skin has cleared up, and my cholesterol levels are down enough that I no longer need medication.

Mornings have always been especially hard for me to make good diet choices. Either I want something sugary (I’m talking to you, Starbucks Frappuccino), or I skip breakfast all together. Now that I’ve discovered a healthy, delicious replacement for my usual sugar-filled coffee, I don’t suffer from the afternoon sugar crash. This means I’m in a much better position to write in the afternoons when I get off of work instead of succumbing to the dreaded sugar crash.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any secrets for staying healthy while writing?

Niki Alba’s Morning Coffee Protein Shake

1. 1 C. Ice (there’s 2 in the picture because I made a double batch)
2. 1/2 scoop of protein powder. All I had on had on hand was cookies and cream, but chocolate powder or my favorite salted caramel would make this killer
3. 1/2 frozen banana. Learn from my mistake. Peel this bad boy before you freeze it.
4. 1/2 C. Unsweetened almond milk
5. 1/2 C. Coffee (again, there’s more in my pic because I made a double batch.)
5. Optional 1 stevia packet

Throw all ingredients in blender, blend, and enjoy your only 150 calorie coffee protein goodness!

——

At seventeen, Nicole Lanahan found herself homeless with only a beat-up Volkswagen Jetta and a bag of Goodwill clothing to her name. The only things that got her through the nights she spent parked in truck stops and cornfields were the stacks of books she checked out from the library along with her trusty flashlight. Because of the reprieve these books gave her from her troubles, she vowed to become a writer so she could provide the same escape to readers who needed a break the reality of their own lives. She has written as both Nicole Lanahan and Cole Gibsen. 

 

Love story or romance?

And why, if you choose to ignore the difference, you should invest in fireproof underpants.

By Sela Carsen

 

Wuthering Heights is not a Romance. Literary theory may classify it as a romance, but that is not the same thing as Romance.

See the difference there?

That capital R indicates genre Romance, as opposed to the entire movement of literature that gets categorized as romance (did you know that Robert Burns’ poem about lice in a pretty girl’s hair is “romantic” because it’s about nature?), or millennia’s worth of love stories that fall under the same label, though the vast majority of them end miserably.

But here we are in the 21st century, and people still can’t quite wrap their head around the difference between the variations. I mean, it’s clear enough if you send your spouse to the grocery store to get “cheese,” then grind your teeth if they come back with cheddar instead of cotija, because those are clearly different things… that both use the same word.

For today’s exercise, let’s discard the stories that get labeled “romance” simply because they were written in the “romantic” era of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe. According to Wikipedia, “Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature….”

Nothing in that statement specifies tales about relationships, so let’s stick with stories that focus on romantic love.

Part of the trouble we have with defining our terms comes from the archetypical “romantic hero” who became popular during this era. Whether the stories involved a romantic relationship or not, they centered around certain types of characters. Either the brooding, solitary hero who rejects love because he’s somehow unworthy, or his counterpart, the waif-like, long-suffering heroine whose life is dictated by the harshness of her rational, patriarchal family. Because extreme emotion was the hallmark of the movement, those archetypes have stuck with the label of “romantic,” which isn’t necessarily a match for writing a Romance.

Capital-R Romance, however, is a very specific genre of literature that doesn’t concern itself with glorification of all the past and nature. Instead, it has two main focuses: the “Rules of Romance,” if you will.

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. (Romance Writers of America)

Nothing there about staring across the windswept moors or digging up your dead lover’s grave to beg her to haunt you so you can make everyone in a ten-mile radius miserable for the rest of your life. (I’m lookin’ at you, Heathcliff!)

There’s also nothing there about having one half of the relationship die tragically of cancer or in a car wreck or in childbirth or anything else. *coughNicholasSparkscough* No one cheats, no one gets bored, no one leaves.

And before you snort disdainfully and go, “That’s not realistic,” I ask you if zombies are realistic. Or demons that bubble up from cracks in the earth. Or whether you’ve ever actually encountered a hard-smoking, hard-drinking, hard-boiled detective who referred to women’s legs as “gams” in real life.

It’s. Fiction. People.

Love stories often get the first part right, the main focus on the relationship, but then take a left turn before getting to the part about the optimistic, satisfying ending with the lovers together. You can write a beautiful story where the relationship doesn’t work out, but the main character moves on happily. But if the lovers aren’t together happily, then it’s a love story, not a Romance.

Two people.* Together. Happy Ending. That’s a Romance.

Capital R Romance is about making readers end a book with a smile and a happy sigh, rather than a bewildered, horrified, and tear-drenched, “WTF did I just read?!? What is wrong with these people?!? Did no one learn anything?!?!?”

Whether it’s filled with sexy bits or not (my best-sellers have zero touchy-time on the page), whether it’s set in ancient Rome or in a galaxy far, far away, or in some fictional midwestern small farming town, whether it has vampires or werebears, or billionaires who are suddenly single fathers and down-on-their-luck waitresses/nannies, all Romances follow the above two rules.

Want to write a gorgeous novel that focuses on two people in a zombie apocalypse finding each other and struggling to make their relationship work… then one of them dies (like, all the way dies, doesn’t come back to life with a craving for human flesh), leaving the other a lone, tragic figure?

That’s awesome! Do it! But it’s not a Romance. It’s a love story.

Want to write a beautiful novel that focuses on two teens, but the boy is a zombie who eats the brains (and memories) of his girlfriend’s dead ex-boyfriend, and even though he stays a zombie, he sort of gets much better, and even though her zombie-hunting dad wants to kill him, the boy and girl overcome their human/zombie differences and stay together?

Don’t write that. Someone already did, it’s called Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, and it’s freaking adorable.

But you could write your own zombie Romance as long as it ends with the two happily getting together and staying together!

Now let’s put on our author hats. The business hat, not the creative one.

Romance is a marketing term. It’s designed to let readers know what they’re picking up in much the same way that the terms mystery and thriller signal certain expectations to readers.

Romance readers are a savvy bunch of (mostly) women who drop billions of dollars a year on those Happy Ever Afters. They’re socially connected, they belong to vast communities of other readers, and they do not like getting tricked because you think you’re going to “turn romance on its head,” or you don’t like genre limitations, like that daft rule about how you always have to reveal whodunnit at the end of a mystery novel.

You’re an artiste! No one can tell you what to do! And those silly Romance-reading women with all that disposable income should appreciate your avant-garde approach to educating them and teaching them to read “better books.”

*snort*

Try it. I’ve got a bag of marshmallows to roast on the bonfire they’ll light around your flaming literary oeuvre and the ashes of your career. Or, as they call it in the Romancelandia territory of Twitter, “every other Tuesday.”

That attitude is not special, or unique, or clever. It IS however, probably some combination of pretentious, ignorant, and/or misogynistic.

Labeling a book as a Romance has meaning, and mislabeling shows that the author either doesn’t know what they’ve written, or they’re deliberately trying to mislead potential readers. Because I can absolutely guarantee that Romance readers understand their genre, and they read it specifically for that Happy Ever After satisfaction. They can get misery anywhere, but they pick up a Romance to get that happy sigh at the end. If the author doesn’t deliver, they have wildly misjudged their readership.

Note: Romance isn’t limited to just two people. There are entire niches filled with polyamorous but committed groupings. Romance has also become very open to non-het, non-cis, non-binary characters and relationships. Love is love.

Writing a Romance and labeling it correctly not only ensures that you’re going to hit your target market correctly, thereby putting you in a position to sell well, but it also indicates a basic level of respect for the readers.

So if you choose to write a relationship-based story, know that the conclusion dictates the marketing, and it’s up to you to understand the differences in how they’ll hit the readership.

 

Sela Carsen is an award-winning author of paranormal and sci-fi romance — with or without sex and dead bodies. Your pick. She also writes steamy contemporary romance as Silke Campion. Check out many of her titles on The Literary Underworld.

New from Shrews: Bedlam Unleashed!

One of the fun things about meeting up with the Underlords on the convention circuit is finding out about the nifty new projects they’ve got going on. Hanging out with Steven Shrewsbury at Imaginarium was a blast as always, and we were delighted to add Bedlam Unleashed to our offerings at the Literary Underworld.

 

Hulking Norse berserker Erik Bedlam lives and fights with a piece of steel lodged in his skull. Ever hallucinating the netherworld, his unpredictable behavior provides no end of challenges to his traveling companion, mercenary Alanis Johansson. After the battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D., the two launch into a series of bizarre circumstances and horrors that tackle their courage, meddle, and strength.

Through these warriors, thrown into a series of horrific events in what seemed like pure chance, cruel fate starts to form into a design. Though hopefully guided by Odin, the All-Father, when contacted via the power of the one-eyed mage Kendrick Prescott a greater mystery awaits. The trio moves onward, facing dragons, neo-druids, cannibal Highlanders, vampire dwarves, and a Lovecraftian horror, to name but a few obstacles. Through it all, Kendrick proves to be not all he appears, but uses the mercenaries as his vehicle to cross the land.

Alanis, also a man of secrets, struggles under so many horrors, but the unpredictable, jovial and violent Bedlam staggers through it all, be it episodes of demonic possession, jousts, or hallucinatory substances.

Painted on a canvas of actual historical events, the body count rises as the travelers make their way down the coast of England, seeking passage off the island.

A story of heroism, malevolence, and ferocity; BEDLAM UNLEASHED shows how courage can propel individuals beyond the borders of the human spirit.

Buy it today from the Literary Underworld!

 

STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY lives, works, and writes in rural Illinois. More than 360 of his short stories have appeared in print or electronic media, along with more than 100 poems. Nine of his novels have been released, with more on the way. His books run from sword & sorcery (OverkillThrallBedlam Unleashed) to historical fantasy (Godforsaken) extreme horror (HawgTormentorStronger Than Death) to horror-westerns (Hell BillyBad Magick, and the forthcoming Last Man Screaming). He loves books, British TV, guns, movies, politics, sports and hanging out with his sons. He’s frequently outdoors, looking for brightness wherever it may hide.

 

Check out some of Shrews’ other works! These and other titles are available from Literary Underworld’s online store.

Imaginarium ahoy!

We here at LitUnd Towers are absolutely thrilled to be returning to the convention circuit with Imaginarium! Literary Underworld has been attending Imaginarium for every year of its existence with the exception of last year, when a stupid virus ruined everybody’s fun.

Now we’re back, and delighted to bring our booth AND the famous Literary Underworld Traveling Bar back to Louisville, Ky.! Many thanks to Stephen Zimmer and the good folks at Seventh Star Press for helping to make this possible. We always love attending Imaginarium, as we not only get to hobnob with our fellow wizards, but we usually learn a thing or two ourselves.

Imaginarium will be offered as a hybrid convention, with both virtual and on-site events for the weekend of July 9-11. Literary Underworld authors in attendance virtually include Sela Carsen; if you’re on-site in Louisville, you’ll meet Elizabeth Donald, Steven Shrewsbury, Stephen Zimmer and J.L. Mulvihill in person!

If you’re able and comfortable doing so, we hope you’ll join us in Louisville! Look for the Literary Underworld booth in the vendor hall, and watch our social media and signs on the booth for the location of the Traveling Bar. And if you’re not ready to travel, consider joining us virtually! We’ll try to post the panel schedules of our members as we can, including which ones can be accessed online.

Here’s to a fun, safe and delightful return to the con circuit, and to a better year than the last! (Not that it would be hard….)

Also! Mark your calendars for Archon in October and ContraKC in November, because we’re back, baby!

 

New release: Yanaguana by Elizabeth Donald

 

Elizabeth Donald has been writing the Blackfire series since the release of The Cold Ones in 2009. Sara Harvey is a former Marine and leader of a paramilitary team that intervenes in supernatural incidents, dealing with “critters” that most people think are only folklore. They can believe that, because Sara’s group keeps them safe. Most of the time.

Blackfire now spans several novels, novellas and short stories that have appeared on their own and as part of collections and anthologies. The most recent is Yanaguana, which was published in 2020 as part of a three-novella collection titled Foul Womb of Night, currently available in ebook only as part of Crone Girls Press‘s Midnight Bites series.

Recently, Elizabeth’s Patreon subscribers received a limited-edition print chapbook of Yanaguana as their annual bonus. But there were a few copies left over, and we’re happy to offer them in our shop up until the supply runs out!

 

One of their own is dead. 

Unfortunately for the Blackfire team, that usually isn’t the end of the fight. 

Something is prowling the Riverwalk of San Antonio, a hungry creature with powers beyond any being they’ve fought before. It can force them to face dark shadows of their past as well as the unquiet ghosts of the city, and with each step it grows stronger – and more hungry.

Follow the crew of Blackfire on their darkest journey yet, under the walkways and bridges of San Antonio in the shadow of the Alamo to face their deepest fears. 

 

Click here to snag this limited-edition chapbook for your own collection! And if you want to hear more about Elizabeth’s work (and get in line for the next awesome bonus), subscribe to her Patreon at the link below!

Patreons! New projects! Return to cons!

We’ve got a bunch of news to share, but first we’re going to talk about PATREON.

If you’re under a rock and don’t know what it is, Patreon allows people to subscribe to a particular writer, artist, musician etc. and receive regular content on an ongoing basis. Much like the patrons of the Renaissance, you get to be part of supporting independent artists in a culture and economy that doesn’t really make space for the arts. For many of us, it’s a really important part of making our living, and your $1 or $5 a month goes a lot further than you think.

And we have several authors with terrific Patreons and awesome content!

New to the club: Underlord Frank Fradella is launching a brand-new Patreon this month. Frank is the Renaissance man of our time, I swear: he’s been a novelist, a blogger, an editor, a publisher, a stand-up comic, a filmmaker, a podcaster, an educator, an artist, a pirate radio show host, a game designer, a comic book writer, a tarot deck creator, a mindset and empowerment coach, and the dad of three amazing boys. His Patreon will offer art, blogs and other writing, podcasts, serialized fiction, webinars – stop it, Frank, you’re making the rest of us look bad! Check it out here.

Nick Rowan is offering crafts and pictures, writing and Sexy Saturdays. Some higher levels get goodies in the mail! He writes: “My goals are to improve my writing, both novels and short stories and to continue providing quality content. (Also to decrease my yarn stash!) Welcome to my little corner of the universe. Where drunken PIs stalk the undead, where even demons fall in love and where the Space Exploration Rangers make life a little better for everyone.”

Sara M. Harvey is offering fiction and art history at her Patreon! “This Patreon will be devoted to a series of short stories called Starcrossed about two immortals who are dreadfully ill-matched but become lovers anyway. These tales will span hundreds of years from Ancient Greece to the present day and will be told in the order in which our narrator shares them (so, not necessarily in chronological order). While nothing will be explicit, this is a romance so expect some naughtiness… In addition to Starcrossed stories, I will also be filling in with some blog-type posts about the art history and clothing of the time period I’m writing about. My goal is one piece of fiction and one instructional post per month. (And maybe some bonus silly content like dog and kid stuff.)

Elizabeth Donald does essays, travelogues, photography, fiction, poetry and blogs from the MFA Circus at her Patreon! Posts range from wordcraft and publishing discussion to poems created in workshop to photo shoots on the road and travelogues from around the country (at least when the pandemic isn’t locking her up in her tower).

In other news….

• Congratulations to Underlord John McFarland, whose new collection The Dark Walk Forward is getting great reviews. His earlier novel The Black Garden is being re-released by Dark Owl Publishing with a lovely new cover. We carried the first edition of Black Garden for many years, and it’s a lovely, ethereal gothic horror novel sure to chill you! We will be delighted to carry the new edition, and in the meantime, pick up your copy of The Dark Walk Forward! And check out this interview with John about his work.

• We’re happy to announce that Literary Underworld is going back on the road! After more than a year staring wistfully at the boxes of books, we are booking cons again. First up will be Imaginarium, taking place July 9-11 in Louisville, Ky.; then Archon in Collinsville, Ill. on Oct. 1-3 and ContraKC in Kansas City on Nov. 5-7. In the meantime, of course, all our books are available at our online store!

• Underlord J.L. Mulvihill has a TV show! On the Page focuses on writers and writing, as Jen interviews Michael West, John Hartness, L.A. Story and others. Check it out here!

• Congratulations to Underlord Steven Shrewsbury on his nomination for the Imadjinn Award for best horror novel, honoring Along Came Evening. We don’t have that one yet, but you can bet we’ll be picking it up soon! Good luck, Shrews! Here’s the full list of nominees.

Thanks for sticking with us, friends. Hopefully we’ll see you on the road soon!

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.