Why do we need horror?

By Nick Rowan

“What do we need horror for anyway?”

The title was asked by a smart young person of my acquaintance who, at 11, has never been really afraid of anything. He has had sadness, a couple of deaths in the family, but not fear.

He has never sat on the exam table and heard the words, “The test is abnormal. You’re pre-cancerous.”

He has never fought for air as he was held under the surface of a lake, an air mattress on top of him.

He has never had a child vanish for days.

He hasn’t hidden in the woods, with people he loves, and watched armed men hunt them with rifles.

He hasn’t watched laws against people like him or those he loves spread across the country faster than those pre-cancerous cells spread through my body.

He hasn’t worked three jobs, knowing he’s not even making the mortgage payment, let alone utilities or food.

And I hope he never has to.

That, in a nutshell, is why we need horror. Neil Gaiman famously said, “Fairy tales are important not because they tell children there are dragons, but because they tell children the dragons can be beaten.”

Horror serves the same purpose. There are rules to it, as to every genre. And the monsters in the book or movie abide by those rules: vampires are allergic to sunlight, silver, crosses and garlic, werewolves change on the full moon, the psycho-killer is never killed by falling out the window. This is unlike the real world where the monsters just change the rules to suit them, and weaponize the machinery of the state against those who don’t like it.

Political? Sure. But these days, most of my fears ARE political. We’re on the eve of Pride Month and I’m considering buying the 16 oz. party-sized pepper spray. I’m definitely taking anti-tear gas measures with me. Although, how much trouble I can find sitting in the shade and reading tarot cards…

Right now, it feels as if we are living in a very large haunted house called the United States, and the flies are swarming in weird ways on the walls. Maybe we should run before the walls start bleeding?

See?

Rules and tropes. We know how a movie or story will go, usually. Sometimes there is a twist. Sometimes the author or director doesn’t give us a true ending, just a freeze frame scene. But usually. The house will be cleansed and either collapse or settle down. The vampire will be staked. The werewolf will be shot with silver. The zombie apocalypse will end and humans will get back to business of civilization.

The monsters are real.
They can be fought.
It will get bloody and awful.
But it will end. And hopefully well.

But I can’t explain all that to an 11-year-old who has never been really afraid, for himself or for someone else.

On the other hand, I can offer you some of my dreams and nightmares, 15 to be precise.

Contes Cruels is French for “cruel stories,” and some of these are. Whether it’s a broken-hearted man fighting his memories, a clairvoyant trucker, a lover’s pledge, a haunted house actor protecting friends in a crisis or a promise made to a small child, these tales take you inside the darkness in everyone. The small pinpricks of light in the darkness are optional.

I am also running a promotion on my Patreon through Sunday, June 11. You can get a chance to win my entire backlist, as well as all the perks. There are free ways to enter as well: leave a review if you’ve read a book; or sign up for my mailing list (about once a month).

As for current projects:

Appearances:

  • Memphis Pride, June 3. I’m in booth 506.
  • Polestari yard sale, June 23-25, Bartlett, Tenn.
  • Mephit Fur Meet: Aug. 31-Sept 4, Southaven, Miss.
  • Sippin in September: Sept. 30, Farmington/French Village, Mo.
  • Pagan Pride: Oct. 7, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Festival of Souls: Oct. 12-15, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Arkansas Scottish Festival, Oct. 27-29, Batesville, Ark.

Writing:
I have nothing forthcoming. I’m working on several things, including a long-overdue short story. We are planning on finishing the next book in the Eight Thrones series this summer.

Where to find me: Linktree

My alter ego can be found here! 

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.

Meet the Underlord: Diana Morgan

I am Diana Morgan. That’s actually a pen name. It comes from two of my favorite characters in literature. Diana is for Wonder Woman’s alias Diana Prince. She was the first superhero I encountered as a kid and I’ve always been obsessed with her. Morgan is from Morgan le Fay of King Arthur legend. Not always portrayed in a positive light, I have still always found her story fascinating and I love some of the more modern takes that cast her as an anti-hero.

In my day life I work as a librarian. I’ve always been passionate about books. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. I started writing when I was a young kid. In fact, one of my first forays into writing was a summer camp where we pretended to be authors. I still have the first books I “published” there. I love helping people find new books and authors. I specialize in teen fiction but I’m also an expert in science fiction and fantasy, which is what I read and write.

My current book is Alliances. It’s the first in a planned series. It’s about Livia, a space pirate that is attempting to save the last colony of human survivors after they were driven off Earth by killer robots. But she has to contend with the egotistical admiral of the colony, Travs, as well as his assistant who doesn’t trust her and more pirates from her past. The story takes place mostly in space and in a space station. It has a lot of Battlestar Galactica and Firefly vibes. Space opera is one of my favorite genres and getting to play in this world has been huge fun.

I’m currently working on a second book for this series, continuing the adventures of Livia and Travs as they try to keep the colony of Earth survivors alive while dealing with the AI robots pursuing them as well as pirates and even more surprises in deep space.

I have several other projects in the works. I’m not the fastest writer, but I hope to have a lot of new stories out over the next year.

If I’m not working on writing I’m hanging out at the library. Keep reading!

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Ms. Mulvihill goes to the Magnolia Independent Film Festival

By J. L. Mulvihill

As a writer, you are sometimes offered unique experiences that you must seize upon even if they may be out of your comfort zone. For instance, last year, I was given the opportunity to do a talk show called On The Page where I interviewed several authors, actors, and filmmakers. This year I was given the chance to interview some of the filmmakers who were presenting their films at the Magnolia Independent Film Festival in Starkville, Mississippi. Excited for the opportunity, I jumped at the chance, especially when I found out I would be seeing the movies before the interviews.

My first interview was with Jon Tackett and Dylan Scott who were presenting their short film Stache, which they had created in 48 hours. Jon and Dillon have both been in the film industry as writers, directors, and actors for at least 10 years. They were both easy going and a joy to speak with. The movie Stache is about a detective accusing the wrong man of a murder he did not commit. It is a fabulously funny movie that I found very impressive to have been done in only 48 hours.

My second interview was with Michal Sinnott and Alexandra Clayton who collaborated on their feature-length film Unpacking. These two ladies were a breath of fresh air and a joy to speak with. They both had extremely impressive bios in the theater and the film industry. Their film was extremely insightful and eye-opening to me. Unpacking is about six women who go to a retreat in Bali for a radical transformation by a self-proclaimed influencer guru, only to be slapped in the face by reality. I laughed, I cried, I opened my eyes, the movie was truly amazing and hit me on all levels.

The third interview was with producer Craig Holden and writer Neal Adelman. Both very talented and knowledgeable about the industry. We discussed their short film Truck Fishing in America, which is directed by Shelley Delaney. Truck Fishing in America is about two lost white men in a small town at odds with their own failed expectations. It is an intriguing and fascinating film written by Neil Adelman, a talented playwright who has now moved into films.

For my fourth interview I had the honor of interviewing Kurt St. Thomas, who is a legendary DJ, writer, director, producer, all around man of many hats. Kurt is a very humble but extremely talented man who was presenting his feature-length film D.O.A. This is a film noir in black and white about a hardboiled detective trying to solve the crime of his own murder, but he has to figure it out before he dies. This movie was a fantastic undertaking filmed in St. Augustine, Fla. and takes on a whole life of its own.

My last interview, and certainly not least, was with Clint Till, who is a very talented Cinematographer, director, and editor out of Memphis. Clint has been in the business for more than 20 years and has his own video production company. His filmography delves into many genres showing he is not afraid to try different things and I enjoyed our interview. Clint presented his short film The Milky Way, a hilarious story from the get-go showing that a mother will do whatever it takes to give their child a very best.

You can see all these interviews and the links to more information about these movies on my YouTube channel. I will be posting more in-depth reviews for some of these films on other sites. Independent filmmakers, like authors, can always use a review to help boost the promotion of their work. I thought that all these films were wonderful, and I respect the work the filmmakers put into them.

In doing these interviews and posting them, I was also given the opportunity to attend the film festival. I have been to several film festivals, and I feel they are all unique in how they do things, so I was anxious to see how this one would take place. After a short two-hour drive, I found myself in north Mississippi among the rolling fields of farmland dotted with small towns and big colleges.

In the old State Theatre of downtown Starkville, Miss., the darkly-lit room smelled of stale beer, yet the wooden pillars and brick walls showcasing the brightly lit stage told another story today. On the stage where hundreds of musicians and playacts have stood, Jeremy Burgess presented his workshop, The Production Value of Collaborative Screenwriting. Jeremy is an award-winning film producer based out of Birmingham, Ala.  He shared his inspirations and the do’s and don’ts of filmmaking to a room filled with film enthusiasts of all ages.

After 90 minutes of interesting and valuable information, a panel discussion was presented on Making a Living in the Film Industry. The panelists sharing their invaluable insight on the business were: Rick Moore, founder and owner of Eyevox Entertainment and Mad Genius, out of Ridgeland, Miss.; Christi Dubois of West Point, Miss. working in the art department in the film industry; Ben Powell, a cinematographer, documentarian, and founder of Broken Arm Studio in Cleveland, Miss.;  Antonio Tarrell, a respected filmmaker and director of numerous feature films from Oxford, Miss.; and Michael Williams from West Point, Miss., who is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, founder and owner of Shendopen Productions, as well as president of the Magnolia Independent Film Festival.

After the panel discussion it was movie time, and a change of venue to the UEC Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville, Miss.. The UEC Hollywood Premier opened in July 2000 as an eight-screen multiplex with all stadium seating and curved screens. Later they increased their screen count to eleven. The Film Festival had been screening movies from February 23 through February 25, which turned out to be the biggest night as seats sold out.

The aroma of buttered popcorn filled the air and each seat including added chairs at the front were filled. Unlike most movies we go to see in big theaters, the spectators were silent and attentive during each movie, and applauded encouragingly at the end of every film. I found this to be an added substance to the experience, showing how the locals appreciated the hard work these filmmakers put into their movies. There were no negative feelings or resentment, and everyone seemed to respect the art of moviemaking and those who poured their heart into it.

This feeling of admiration and respect of the industry carries over from and through the Magnolia Independent Film Festival, lovingly referred to as the MAG Film Festival. MAG founder Ron Tibbett was himself a filmmaker who moved to Mississippi from Chicago. After making a movie called Swept Off My Feet, and looking to submit it to local film festivals, he found there were none in Mississippi. In 1997, he started The MAG Film Festival and even had a hand in helping several other film festivals launch throughout Mississippi. Sadly, Ron Tibbett lost his life in a car accident in 2004, but his legacy lives on as the torch was carried by his wife, friends, and the community who all have a love for the art of filmmaking. Through the ups and downs, 26 years later the MAG is still going strong.

Speaking with several volunteers I found that everyone involved with The MAG feel this love and passion for the arts. They are all encouraging and positive of each other and everyone involved from the guy who runs for coffee to the director who runs the show. Chris Misun, who has been the festival director for two years now is a graphic designer and broadcasting instructor for Mississippi State, (MSU), the local college in Starkville, Miss. Chris is also the advisor for the film club at the college and his enthusiasm for the industry and the festival bubbles over through his personality and infectious smile. Chris expressed that they are thankful for the support of the community and the help of the volunteers. It has been the mission of the MAG to offer independent filmmakers a platform that respects the hard work they have put into their films. The MAG will continue to showcase independent films and create a positive  experience for all who attend including the filmmakers who bring their films to the festival.

Angela Baker has been with the festival since 2002 and has worn many hats over the years working with The MAG including director and now treasurer. Angela started volunteering for The MAG because she liked Ron Tibbett and his dream to make this festival big and an important part of Mississippi. This is a shared feeling with everyone involved with The MAG.

I interviewed award-winning filmmaker J. Hun-En Joswick, fondly called “Snapple” by his friends. This year he was presenting his film The Wind and I and loves coming to The MAG Festival. In 2020, Joswick won an award on the collaborated film Five Minutes and stated that “just being with everyone at The MAG and the encouraging words and positive outlook renewed his love for films.”

Newcomer and volunteer Dominique Lewis, who attends MSU and MUW in Mississippi has never worked at the film festival before but found the people to be extremely friendly, encouraging, and inspiring. She explained to me that “everyone works so very hard to put this event together and make it work.”

A young group of filmmakers spoke with me in between films, hopeful that their film “The Gift” is chosen for the 48 hours award. Trinity Tubbs is a junior at Belhaven College, and she and her classmates collaborated on this film for the 48-hour challenge with the help and direction of their teacher, Rick Negron. The challenge is to create a film in 48 hours, and anyone can enter as long as they follow the guidelines set forth.

So after seeing several of the films myself both prior to the event for interviews, and actually at the event, I wondered how it would be possible to fairly judge these films. I spoke with the four judges: Christi Dubois, an art teacher, theater major, mother, and actress; Cary Glynn, an artist, writer, and filmmaker; Chad Hathcock, with a bachelor’s in communications from MSU; and Makel Gandy, who attends ICC and studies film and drama production. These judges explained to me that every year four judges are handpicked by The MAG, having some background and knowledge of the film industry. After viewing the films, they must deliberate and discuss each of the technical aspects, the writing, the cinematography, the acting, and many other aspects of the films before picking the winners.

My experience with the Magnolia Independent Film Festival was educational, exciting, enlightening, encouraging, and most of all it has inspired me to fulfill my own dreams and expectations. But it’s not just about my experience, but everyone’s, including the community and the state of Mississippi overall. The MAG offers not only a way for Mississippi as a whole to showcase the artistic community within, but also a place for all filmmakers to share their work and express their passion in the filmmaking industry.

If  you want to know who the winners are this year, you will just have to go to the website and find out for yourself. While you are there, check out The MAG and its affiliates. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to become a filmmaker, and if you make that film, The MAG just might be the place for you to present it.

 

A California native born in Hollywood, California, J.L. MULVIHILL wanted to be a rock star. After several years of modeling, acting, and singing, she decided to marry, have a family, and moved to a quieter life in Mississippi where she has lived for the past twenty years. Finding she has a gift for story telling she began to write young adult books, including the Steel Roots series and The Lost Daughter of Easa. She is very active in the writing community, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Gulf Coast Writers Association, Imagicopter, the Mississippi Writers Guild and Clinton Ink-slingers Writing Group. She continues to write fantasy, steampunk, poetry and essays inspired by her life in the South.

 

A second chance at a Cold Run

What does it mean when your so-called new book launch is actually a second chance at life?

I’ve been thinking about this lately, especially as I work my way through finishing the book series I contracted last year with Falstaff Books. Cold Run, Book 1 of the Rick Keller Project, is a werewolf secret agent novel that tells the story of Rick Keller, a wolf without a pack, a soldier without a country, a wanderer who searches for someplace to call home.

Falstaff Books released Cold Run on Dec. 8, 2022, but it wasn’t the first time the novel had ever been launched into the world. I’d originally written it for NaNoWriMo in 2011, although the idea for the novel came around even earlier than that.

The book, which I hadn’t even considered expanding into a series at the time I wrote it, grew out of a book, Naming the World. My writing group in Texas was working its way through the various prompts and practical exercises contained in NtW, and I had chosen to write about a dark place on a snowy night off a narrow trail in the wilds of Vermont. As I imagined this place and started concentrating on the details that would bring it to life, I saw a wolf running along the path, pursued by men with silver weapons, sprinting for sanctuary under the full moon.

As the writing exercises evolved into a novel idea, and the idea evolved into an extremely rudimentary outline, and the outline served as the basis for the mad dash that is NaNoWriMo, I began to think about publication. For the next two years after I wrote it, I workshopped, revised, workshopped, and revised again. I continued to grow as a writer, and eventually conceived of an entire trilogy around this character of Rick Keller, secret agent werewolf; his partner, former Army psychological operations officer Karen Willet, Ph.D.; and their run-ins with the agency he used to work for, MONIKER.

When I was finally satisfied with the book, I submitted it to a few agents and editors. A small publishing house by the name of Untold Press picked it up and offered me a chance to get it published. And then I wrote another novel, and a novella and a reader magnet, which they also sent out into the world. I personally made a lot of mistakes and did eventually end up asking for and readily receiving my rights back to the books. However, I don’t regret this experience. I learned a lot from it, and when it came time to decide how I wanted to publish other writing, or to coach others’ in their writing journey, the lessons became that many more tools in my writing and coaching toolbox.

Instead of publishing right away, I decided that I was going to rapid-release them all, and also that Winter Run, the fourth book, would be the last in the series.

Deciding to indie publish is a route that can be fraught with, if not danger, then a lot of frustration and head-desk contact. The stereotype of the writer who drinks is often based in reality. Let me tell you, the writer who is publishing herself, and also running an indie publishing company (because of course, launching an indie horror micropress in the middle of plague times was a great idea! For more on that, check out Crone Girls Press,) that writer/editor/publisher is going to keep the package good store in good standing.

At one point, I ran up against a roadblock that was going to take a good deal of time, effort, and likely money to fix. I headed over to my current writing group, The Writing Tribe, and with sorrow in my heart, I vented my frustration and asked the universe (and my fellow writers) if this was worth it. Not writing, in general. This werewolf secret agent series in particular.

I don’t have an answer yet to that question. And when I do formulate that answer, I’ll be taking my publisher’s concerns into the equation. But I will say this.

When you get a second chance to return to a character, a book, or a series that you have put a lot of yourself into, and that you still believe in, you sometimes just have to take a chance and kick your imposter syndrome to the curb, along with your inner editor who can’t believe that you’re allowing you early writing back out into the world. I did do some updates and revisions to Cold Run, based on my growth as a writer, and my new understanding of craft and how to structure a novel. I have also been working on a series arc in addition to the other novels in the series (four? Ha! It’s going to be five books long now, and I have so many ideas for short stories in the universe.)

The decision to go with a publisher or head down the indie route can be a hard one, especially with a project that you’ve already tried and not quite met with the success you hoped. But it you have a publisher who believes in you, and who says things like, “I can’t wait to have this book on my table” or “Rick Keller reminds me of Joe Ledger,” then it becomes easier to take a leap of faith and get back to writing. (Also, if you sign the contract, you’re obligated to do so, and therefore I should probably wrap this up and get back to work.)

Thanks to John Hartness and Falstaff Books for giving Rick Keller and company a new lease on life, and thanks to the readers, old and new, who have grabbed a copy and are coming along on the ride.


Richard Keller wanted nothing more than to watch the world go by from his isolated home in Vermont. Life on the other hand had other plans. Kidnapped by his former employers, the covert government organization MONIKER. Richard is forced to suit up once more and use his supernatural abilities in an effort to save kidnapped victims.

However, not all is as it seems with MONIKER, and Keller is going to need all of his wits and strength if he is to return to some semblance of his normal life.

The hunter is about to become the hunted.

Rachel A. Brune graduated from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in May 2000, and was immediately plunged into the low-stakes world of entry-level executive assistant-ship. Her unexpected journey out of that world and into the military is chronicled in her self-published book Echoes and Premonitions. After five years as a combat journalist, including two tours in Iraq, and a brief stint as a columnist for her hometown newspaper, she attended graduate school at the University at Albany in NY, where she earned her MA in Political Communication, and her commission as a second lieutenant in the military police corps. Although her day job has taken in her in many strange, often twisted directions, Rachel continues to write and publish short fiction. She released her first novel in early 2013. She blogs her thoughts about reading and the writing life at http://www.infamous-scribbler.com.

We hope to have Cold Run in the Literary Underworld soon! In the meantime, catch it on Amazon where it is available on Kindle Unlimited. 

Going wide

By Silke Campion

In 2021, I started a new pen name in a different niche of romance than where I’d previously published. The old name wasn’t getting any traction, the brand was a muddied mess, and I needed a fresh start.

It was also past time that I put some of my years of accumulated knowledge of marketing and writing to work for me. Enter Silke Campion, writer of short, hot instalove romance. There was an established niche for the kind of stories I wanted to write and (this is key) I really enjoyed writing and reading these short novellas. They provided the quick endorphin hit that many readers needed, especially post-2020.

I quickly wrote and published a reader magnet plus seven novellas around 20K each that I put into the Kindle Unlimited subscription program. All my market research indicated that KU was absolutely the right move for someone starting out in this niche, and many of my colleagues quickly populated my also-boughts. The readers had found me.

In 2022, I slowed down quite a bit and only published three novellas, all part of multi-author collaborations. Remarkably, my income increased slightly! Most of it came from my backlist, and my readership was split about 60/40 with the majority coming from KU page reads versus outright purchases.

I’d toyed with the idea of going wide because at the same time as I was succeeding, I also knew several well-established authors who had suddenly seen their Amazon accounts locked (some of them irreversibly) for no discernible reason. If they were all in with KU, that was it. They were sunk. Some of them scrambled to publish their work elsewhere and some of them had had enough of the publishing game and just quit. I cannot blame them at all. The devastation they must have felt haunts me.

On Dec 31, 2022, I went to bed, satisfied in the knowledge that my estimated royalties for the year were in a comfortable place.

On Jan 1, 2023, 30 percent of my income from the previous year was nowhere to be found. Surely, I thought, this is a glitch. The software was stuck somewhere along the line and in a couple of hours, all would be right again.

Reader, it was not a glitch.

Trying to downplay my panic, I scrolled through FB groups and Discord servers to see if anyone else was experiencing the same thing. What I found horrified me.

Occasionally, Amazon will decide that too many of an author’s page reads came from bots and strip half of them away. Since KU represented about 60 percent of my income, the amount I’d lost in a blink was an accurate representation of that math.

Remember Hades’ flaming blue hair from the Disney movie “Hercules”?

That was me.

To make an already long story marginally shorter, I got lucky. I emailed Amazon a polite, but tersely worded note requesting a review and reinstatement of my earnings. While their reply was the usual CYA “there’s nothing wrong here,” my page reads were returned to their previous numbers over the next 24 hours.

I repeat: I. Got. Lucky. There was no reason for them to even blink in my direction, but somehow, it worked out.

However, I’d come too close to losing it all. So this is my year to go wide.

The Facebook group, “Wide For the Win” has been invaluable in my research. I found knowledge and techniques that will help me move all my books over later this spring, tips to help me let my readers know what’s going on, and best practices for using aggregators or going direct to different vendors.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. I’d already planned to do some reformatting, updating backmatter and keywords, and refreshing blurbs, but this has put those plans into high gear as I prepare to publish my backlist to all vendors in the best way possible to pave the way for the new series I’m writing and plan to publish wide from the start.

A few years ago when I started self-publishing under my old pen name, I had already set up accounts at various vendors, plus Draft2Digital. Establishing a new pen name with those accounts has been one of the simpler tasks, but at least I’m not starting from scratch.

One of the things I’m prepared for is a dip in income. Hopefully, releasing new work as I debut my backlist will mitigate those losses, but the one thing everyone has said is that it takes time to build a readership on other vendors, which makes sense. As far as Kobo or Barnes and Noble or Apple readers are concerned, I’m coming out of nowhere. But it’s a mountain I’m willing to climb, rather than play a constant game of “the floor is lava” with Amazon.

hope to come back next year with news that everything has gone well and I’m now purchasing a private island with my income. Or at least I’m keeping my head above water as I dog-paddle forward.

As an endnote, I’d like to say that, despite all the Zon’s shenanigans, my KU strategy worked. It got new stories from a new writer in front of thousands of people, and I profited from it. In fact, I’d still recommend it as a short-term strategy to use their algorithm of rapid releases and build backlist quickly. But I don’t think the center will hold for everyone, so stay on your toes and always have an exit plan.

Good writing!

 

Silke Campion writes hot, flirty, sweet and dirty romances featuring heroes who will gladly take control to ensure their heroines get their Happy Ever After. She’s been married to her own military hero for over twenty-five years, living and loving through dozens of cross-country and international moves with their two children and a menagerie of dogs and cats. Now they’re settled back in the U.S. where — when she’s not head-down writing — she contemplates the serious issues of what to make for dinner with the ridiculous amount of basil she grows in her herb garden, what cocktail will go with it, and what cross-stitch project she’s starting next. She also writes paranormal and sci-fi romance as Sela Carsen.

Find out more at https://www.silkecampion.com/

 

 

It’s Black Friday!

If you’re like us here at LitUnd Towers, you really prefer doing Black Friday from your couch, watching silly movies and drinking cocoa. Fortunately, we are all set up to help you get your shopping done without leaving that wonderful couch!

We have a few suggestions for your list. (You thought we might.) There’s some terrific ideas below, and some really awesome specials from our authors! 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.

Happy holidays from all of us here at Literary Underworld!

On Sale!

Get three Nick Rowan titles in ebook for only $10!

Buy any of the Eight Thones series by Angelia Sparrow and get a free PDF of short stories in that universe! No codes or minimums required. Check out Master Anton, Anthony Reprobate, Nikolai Revenant or Glad Hands to get your free extras! Or get the entire series for $40 here!

All Crone Girls Press titles are 10 percent off for the holiday season! 

If you buy Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan, you’ll get a free PDF of DJ Admire stories including “By the Fire with Care”!

It’s 10 percent off all Elizabeth Donald titles for the holiday season! No code needed!

For the romance fan…

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.

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!

Silke Campion’s sexy new Brothers in Arms series can be yours for only $35! Hot, flirty, sweet and dirty, there’s no slow-burning angst here; just a steamy, quickly flourishing devoted love that gets right to the heat. Not ready to commit to a whole series? Each title is only $5 – for the paperback! Check it out here!

For the fantasy fan…

Born of Swords by Steven L. Shrewsbury. Interviewing Gorias La Gaul is a dream come true for young scribe Jessica. Unfortunately for Jessica, she’s found Gorias in the midst of an annual pilgrimage of sorts, and though he agrees to let her come along, it’s not without a warning: You may not like what you see and hear. Whether viewing past visions with magical gemstones or jumping into the fray alongside the barbarian, Jessica’s about to get firsthand accounts she won’t soon forget…and discover legends are far from reality, and just as far from being pretty. For most men, the future is not certain and the past is prologue.

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…

Buy this book during the 2022 holiday season and get a free PDF of DJ Admire short stories FREE!

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.

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…

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…

The Dark Walk Forward by John McFarland ($12). The small town of Ste. Odile in America has experienced the Great War in ways that no one should ever have to endure. 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. John S. McFarland has slogged through his characters’ woes and woven them into these sweetly emotional yet acutely distressful tales.

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. And all Crone Girls Press books are 10 percent off for the holidays!

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.

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 YA reader…

Moonblood by T.W. Fendley. ($12) Who wants to live a century before seeing the outside world? Not Ariadne. Restless and idealistic, the young immortal sneaks out of the Eves’ secret compound and finds the outside world more dangerous than she could have imagined. Cut off from her own kind and hunted by mortals, she is forced to hide among the Adams, the immortal sons born of her sisters. But the Adams have sinister plans of their own. Ariadne must find a way to stop them, even if it means sacrificing her immortal life.

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!)

For something shorter….

Setting Suns: Anniversary Edition by Elizabeth Donald brings a new look to her first collection, including a new story, new afterward and more.

A nightmarish fun house turned deadly.
A couple trapped in a futile journey through time.
A single baleful eye watching from the deep.
An assassin waiting in a snow-covered tree.
A toy that seems to have a life of its own.
A pair of soldiers trapped between death and something worse.
A tenebrous hand reaching out of the shadows.
These are the award-winning tales and terrors of Elizabeth Donald, writer of things that go chomp in the night. This new anniversary edition is being released 20 years after the first story was published, now including a bonus short story and the author’s reflections on twenty years of twilight tales.
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.

Side Roads by Rachel Brune is a Crone Girls Press title, and thus is 10 percent off this season. Clockwork fairies, arachnid mothers, the Carnival Ghost…
The stories gathered here take the reader on a winding trip down a darkened road as the battery in your phone slowly dies. The threads of this collection weave a tale of wrong turns in the early morning hours, of faded photographs that don’t quite fit one’s memory, of dying monarchs and has-been superheroes. In these pages, you will find the eerie, the grim, and the lost souls that wander the gloom. These stories were born of dark nights and cold drives and the certain knowledge that, as winter sets in and the nights grow longer, there’s more out there in the darkness than the shadows let on…

New from Crone Girls Press…. an anthology for a cause.

A Woman Unbecoming, ed. by Rachel Brune and Carol Gyzander. Crone Girls Press presents A Woman Unbecoming, a charity anthology of horror and dark tales to benefit reproductive healthcare rights. Award-winning and up-and-coming authors share over two dozen stories and poems. If you like intense characters, powerful women, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love this fierce anthology co-edited by Rachel A. Brune and Carol Gyzander. Explore AWoman Unbecoming to revel in women’s rage, power, and agency—and support reproductive healthcare rights today. Stories and Poems By: Marc Abbott, Linda Addison, Alp Beck, Carina Bissett, Rachel Brune, Paige L. Christie, Ravyn Crescent, Elizabeth Davis, Angela Giddings, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Teel James Glenn, Carol Gyzander, CM Harris, Nicole Henning, Darin Kennedy, DeAnna Knippling, Tara Laskowski, Lee Murray, Bridgett Nelson, Jennifer Nestojko, Jessica Nettles, Christina Nordlander, Cindy O’Quinn & Patricia Gomes, Cristel Orrand, Jude Reid, Mike Robinson, Kathleen Scheiner, Jeff Strand, Anna Taborska, Steven Van Patten, Holly Lyn Walrath, Michael G. Williams, and Jeff Wood.

All Crone Girls Press books are 10 percent off for the 2022 Holiday Season!

For the artist….

A handmade leather 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 in your order!

Like what you’ve seen from photographer artist Elizabeth Donald? Order any size poster or print at elizabethdonaldphotography.com!

A special note of thank you

The authors and artists of the Literary Underworld and all those whose livelihood depended on the cons and book fairs and other gatherings that were canceled by the pandemic are very grateful for your continued support. As we celebrate this holiday season in this time of recovery, we hope for a happier, safer and more prosperous year for everyone.

Stay safe out there, and we will all see each other again soon.

 

You read all the way to the end!
Use the code BF2022 to get a discount on your purchase!

Her Royal Majesty Alethea Kontis!

The Literary Underworld is delighted to offer a limited selection of titles from our longtime friend Alethea Kontis, New York Times bestseller, princess and storm chaser. Her Majesty has written more than 20 books and 50 short stories, including the wildly popular AlphaOops! children’s series. Alethea has received the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant, the Scribe Award, the Garden State Teen Book Award, and is a two-time winner of the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. She has been twice nominated for both the Andre Norton Nebula and the Dragon Award.

Also, she chases storms. She’s just that awesome.

Below are the Alethea Kontis titles temporarily available at the Literary Underworld, online and at our booths at the fall conventions. When they’re gone they’re gone, so move fast!

BEAUTY AND DYNAMITE

Once upon a time, a young girl walked into a world of wonder and delight. But that’s not where this story starts.

The young woman she became published a nationally recognized children’s book and edited a star-filled collection of stories to benefit the tsunami relief effort. But that’s not where this story ends.

Meet Alethea Kontis, a self-proclaimed Genre Chick whose life is an adventure that tears through these pages like a hurricane. Carrot-a-day cancer cures and Murphy as a guardian angel (yes, that Murphy, the guy with all those irritating laws) are just a part of the daily routine for the Incredible Whirlwind of Beauty and Dynamite, the force of nature masquerading in human form.

Through essays, poetry, and commentary from family, friends, and famous authors alike, a world of Blood Oaths and road trips, broken hearts and mended cars, comes alive with the strength of one woman’s conviction that the world is there to be befriended.

You have now been introduced.

Let your adventure begin.

 

ENCHANTED

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past—and hers?

 

HERO

Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she’s the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, “Did romance have to be part of the adventure?”

As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.

 

DARK HUNTER COMPANION

with Sherrilyn Kenyon

Consider this handbook your education. Hunter 101. And don’t go thinking you got off easy just because there’s not a pop quiz at the end. This is the good stuff. The real deal. In here you’ll find out all there is to know about being a Dark-Hunter.

Now for the disclaimer: This book is mutable. It goes with the wind. It changes more often than the mind of a sixteen-year-old Gemini with a closet full of clothes and a date in an hour. Don’t be surprised if you open it up for the thirty-five thousandth time and find something old, something new, something borrowed or. . .well you get the point.

Curl up in a comfy chair with some millennium-old scotch and feast upon the informative banquet I have prepared for your enjoyment.

Welcome to your new life.

 

ZERO GRAVITY

Alva J. Roberts, ed.

This short story collection features thirteen fantastic adventures set in the cold vacuum of space. Read about rogues, scoundrels, aliens, robots, heroes, junkers and priests as you explore the rich and creative diversity of the following stories: “Junker’s Fancy” By Rosemary Jones, “Leech Run” By Scott W. Baker, “A Space Romance” By Paul A. Freeman, “Hawking’s Caution” By Mark Rivett, “Parhelion” By David Schembri, “To Stand Among Kings” By Kenneth Mark Hoover, “The Unicorn Tree” By Alethea Kontis, “The Beacon of Hope” By Gregory L Norris, “Tangwen’s Last Heist” By C.B. Calsing, “The Stand-Ins” By Gef Fox, “Glacier Castle” By Will Morton, “Rescue” By Margaret Karmazin, and “At One Stride Comes the Dark” By Murray Leeder.

 

DARK FAITH

Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, eds.

Some of the genre’s top authors and most promising newcomers whisper horror tales that creep through the mists at night to rattle your soul. Step beyond salvation and damnation in this intense horror and dark fantasy anthology containing thirty stories and poems that reveal the darkness beneath belief. Place your faith in that darkness; it’s always there, just beyond the light.

Experience the spiritual side of the zombie apocalypse in “The Days of Flaming Motorcycles” and transcend both hell and nirvana in “Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch’s Damnation.” Look into “The Mad Eyes of the Heron King” to find the beautiful brutality written in the moment of epiphany or “Go and Tell it On the Mountain,” where Jesus Christ awaits your last plea to enter heaven—if there is a heaven to enter when all is said and done.

Contains the following stories and poems:

  • “The Story of Belief-Non” by Linda D. Addison (poem)
  • “Ghosts of New York” by Jennifer Pelland
  • “I Sing a New Psalm” by Brian Keene
  • “He Who Would Not Bow” by Wrath James White
  • “Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch’s Damnation” by Douglas F. Warrick
  • “Go and Tell It on the Mountain” by Kyle S. Johnson
  • “Different from Other Nights” by Eliyanna Kaiser
  • “Lilith” by Rain Graves (poem)
  • “The Last Words of Dutch Schultz Jesus Christ” by Nick Mamatas
  • “To the Jerusalem Crater” by Lavie Tidhar
  • “Chimeras & Grotesqueries” by Matt Cardin
  • “You Dream” by Ekaterina Sedia
  • “Mother Urban’s Booke of Dayes” by Jay Lake
  • “The Mad Eyes of the Heron King” by Richard Dansky
  • “Paint Box, Puzzle Box” by D.T. Friedman
  • “A Loss For Words” by J. C. Hay
  • “Scrawl” by Tom Piccirilli
  • “C{her}ry Carvings” by Jennifer Baumgartner (poem)
  • “Good Enough” by Kelli Dunlap
  • “First Communions” by Geoffrey Girard
  • “The God of Last Moments” by Alethea Kontis
  • “Ring Road” by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • “The Unremembered” by Chesya Burke
  • “Desperata” by Lon Prater (poem)
  • “The Choir” by Lucien Soulban
  • “The Days of Flaming Motorcycles” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “Miz Ruthie Pays Her Respects” by Lucy A. Snyder
  • “Paranoia” by Kurt Dinan (poem)
  • “Hush” by Kelly Barnhill
  • “Sandboys” by Richard Wright
  • “For My Next Trick, I’ll Need a Volunteer” by Gary A. Braunbeck

Archon is a smash!

We had so. much. fun. at Archon last weekend – so much fun, indeed, that it’s taken me six days to write it up because I’ve been recovering.

Archon is always one of the highlights of our year, and it’s our home con, so it’s also a family reunion. Literary Underworld authors were out in force, including Sela Carsen, T.W. Fendley, Nikki Lanahan and Michales Joy. At any given time you might have seen any of us at the booth, or our Minions, Cole and Ian – who have actual minion badges now. We’re very proud of that. Our good friends from Pro Se Publishing and Yard Dog Press were also there, and it was great to catch up with them in meatspace. We also launched preorders for A Woman Unbecoming, a charity anthology from our friends at Crone Girls Press to benefit reproductive healthcare advocacy. Click here to preorder your copy.

And, of course, there was the Traveling Bar. As is our custom, we opened our doors both nights to serve drinks and talk shop. Jim served as bouncer with backup from our good friend Scott Cousins, and Sela was our Social Butterfly keeping the conversation light and friendly and alerting either of us if there was a potential problem. At this point, we’ve got it down to a science.

On Friday, we opened the doors at 9 p.m. and I started serving drinks about 90 seconds later. My arm literally did not stop moving until I yelled union break at 11:45 so I could hide in the bathroom and stretch my poor arms for five minutes. Then I was back behind the bar until we yelled last call at 1:30 a.m. Saturday was almost as crazy – there were a couple of five-minute spells where I didn’t have anyone asking for a drink, which did not occur on Friday.

Oh, was I tired. I’m still tired just thinking about it, and I’ve slept since then. But everyone had a fantastic time, and that’s the important part. Well, that and making a living, of which Archon is always a major part. But there’s something really fun about being the bartender at a con party, and that’s the people. Most people are happy when they come in and happier with the drink in their hand, but some people are so happy, so grateful, and greet me so cheerfully, it creates this lovely positive energy that I absolutely love. It really felt like the vibe at Archon was back to normal, or as close to normal as we can get with the spectre of the Voldevirus still looming over us.

And around the corner were our friends at SausageFest, raising money once again for cancer research. Sadly I did not get over there to try this year’s snausages, but fortunately everyone else at the con did, or so it seemed. If you want to kick in a little toward their fundraising, click here. They are the bestest neighbors.

Many thanks to all our friends who greeted us so warmly, to our customers who bought books, to our guests who drank the booze and partied with us, to the Underlords and member presses who were there or who supported us from afar, and especially to Minions Ian and Cole, who hauled all the books and booze back to the van and to LitUnd’s dungeon until the next time. (Okay, it’s a storage unit we like to call the warehouse when we’re feeling grandiose, but “dungeon” suits, don’t you think?)

Click here for the photo array. Because what is Archon without costumes?

The answer is…. a woman unbecoming

By Rachel A. Brune, Editor, Crone Girls Press

The question was: how to channel the anger, rage, despair, more anger, frustration, and once more, anger, at the news that Roe v. Wade had been toppled by a Supreme Court filled with privileged beings far removed from the pain and suffering they were about to cause?

It’s not that we didn’t see it coming. Those who feared and those who rejoiced in the prospect of reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy rights being stripped from half the population saw it coming. And in the days and weeks after, as fingers pointed and tempers flared, there were those who placed the blame on previous administrations, Congresses, for not encoding those rights into law, as if it were realistic in the past partisan twenty years to take up an issue as polarizing as reproductive healthcare and find some way for everyone to enshrine it in law.

Those same blame-makers were often those who would never have to hear a medical professional tell them that their lifesaving procedures could not be enacted due to a strict law enacted by old, righteous men. Nor could they, apparently, envision their loved ones bleeding slowly to death, with sepsis poisoning their body. Those images had been out of the mainstream for so long. But not anymore.

Take a look at the headlines. If you have a uterus, and want to see how far your particular state cares about your health and welfare, all you have to do is read about miscarriages that could be easily treated with a D&C, but are now subject to so much legal threat that the doctors who could perform them don’t want to take the risk to their license by giving their patients the medical care they need.

I could go on. And I do. But words aren’t enough.

Or rather, words are the weapon I choose for the next phase of this struggle.

Thus was born the anthology, A Woman Unbecoming.

This project came from a post that I made in the Crone Girls Press private authors’ Facebook group. Comment by comment popped up from authors who stated not only their interest, but their desire to contribute to making the barest hint of an idea of a charity anthology for reproductive healthcare an actual reality.

The race was on to get this project put together, and while there were and are a number of speedbumps, it was almost alarming how quickly and subtly things came together to make it happen. A catching-up lunch with an old friend led to her coming onboard as co-editor. I had worked with Carol Gyzander before on a series of charity anthologies for Writerpunk Press, and I knew that she was creative, organized, able to work under pressure and, better yet, had the same affinity for spreadsheets that I do.

A few days after that, Lynne Hansen sent out her newsletter. The monthly pre-made cover art she included for that month was so perfect for this project, I immediately replied and asked to purchase it before anyone else could snatch it up.

All throughout, authors that I’ve worked with, and authors that I’ve always wanted to work with, sent us stories to read and consider. And over and over, we heard the same refrain: Writing (or revising or contributing) this story gives me a chance to do something.

And that’s what this project is. A chance to do something. Proceeds from the anthology will be donated to an organization that has already been established and working to guarantee access to reproductive healthcare. Hey—even when it was legal across the U.S. didn’t mean it was accessible to everyone. We will also be donating half the proceeds to an organization supporting candidates in political races, as the mid-terms are almost upon us.

And so that is A Woman Unbecoming. Not merely an anthology of fierce and ferocious horror stories, but a chance to do something. To step out of the feelings of anger and hopelessness, and act. But this is not the end of action—it is the beginning. Elections are rolling around. Have you registered to vote? Have you confirmed your registration is active? There is also a list at the end of the anthology of books and articles for further reading. Check them out.

Or, you may be tired and overwhelmed and unsure of what to do or where to get the energy to do it. Perhaps buying a book and putting it on your TBR pile is what you have the time for right now. If that is the case, we thank you, and hope that your TBR pile, unlike ours, is short enough that it won’t threaten to topple over and smother you in the night (and if so, then just push it a little farther away from your bed, I’m sure it will be fine.)

For those who have already picked up a copy—thank you. And to those organizations and people out there working to restore the rights we have lost due to this decision—we thank you, we see you, and we support you.

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Welcome to the Disunited States

By Angelia Sparrow

In November of 2005, I won NaNoWriMo for the first time. The result was a novel that is now called Nikolai: Revenant.

It’s undergone a lot of revision and character changes since the initial draft. The world has expanded and shifted with each new projection of the future. Now, we are four books, a gaming manual, several short stories, and a couple of rough drafts into the series. My now-coauthor, Gabriel, went from my biggest fan to my loyal conspirator, and brought his own brand of creativity to the world.

The series is set at the end of the twenty-first century. America balkanized into eleven countries, with Hawaii and Alaska becoming independent. Some countries have moved forward from the DisUnification and others have chosen to move backward.

I started this as a reaction to a lot of trends I was seeing in the mid 2000s. It has aged eerily, as I’ve watched some of my predictions come to fruition in some ways, but it remains solid. My dystopia is not supposed to be more comforting than my reality, but it has become more so as the years go on.

Most of the series occurs in Memphis, with occasional excursions to Italy, Kansas, Pacifica and other places. The Confederated States are fascinating, and rather terrifying. Based on the trends in Christian Nationalism, including the Christian Exodus movement, the CS is a fascist theocracy with an absolutely free market. Church attendance is required by law, and the law enforces modesty codes. Education is limited to white boys, and only available through private schools. Racial segregation is law, and most crimes are capital ones.

Half of the titular Nikolai’s education is unlearning erroneous history from his three years of formal schooling. Nick Boyd is a Memphis street rat, who took the name Nikolai when he became a member of the Revenant gang. Smart, vicious, and self-assured, he caught the eye of James Ligatos, one of the Eight, the cabal that rules the world behind the scenes.

James turns promising young criminals into world leaders. In Anthony: Reprobate, we delve into the hyper-surveillanced and repressive Heartlands for another protege, Anthony Hatcher, who is stuck in a reeducation facility with an R tattooed on his hand. Reprobate is the lowest of the low, both Homosexual and Nymphomaniac, and every other “anti-social” marker. But with enough work and a little support, anyone can change the course of a country.

Glad Hands was my biggest seller, a side story set in the Tribal Lands about a trucker who finds a Heartlands boy with an H tattoo. They go on a mad dash ride into the CS on what should have been an average haul, and almost end in the Stoneyard for execution on live national television. This was written on many loading docks, in sleeper berths and rest areas when I was still driving a truck.

Master Anton is our newest installment, and it follows the training of our boys forward. Anthony is called to Rome, to the Eight’s center of operations. Their leader, Benta, the Spider at the top of the World, is a mysterious and seemingly eternal goddess in his eyes. His odd learning style makes for a difficult road, but not nearly as difficult as the rest of the Memphis team is experiencing. Betrayal, collapse, fanaticism, and ruin spin together in a web that can only end when it’s run its course. Anthony earns his title…and he will bring the rest of them along with him if it kills him…or them.

As mentioned, there is also a gaming sourcebook which Gabriel put together over the course of 3 years. He created the PIPA 12 system, and we codified the DisUnited States and much of the world. We’ve run one-shot games at conventions from Kentucky to Georgia, with great success. The opportunity to throw your hat in the ring of a collapsing but vibrant society seems to capture the imagination… especially when we kill someone in mid-game.

I could spend several books (and have) explaining to you all that I see in my world. I would invite you to ride the giant roller coasters in the Arcologies of the California Conglomerate. I would walk you through the Pleasure Clubs of Rome, where every debauchery is at your disposal as long as you know its cost. I would stroll with you through the City State of New Orleans, with its sky-high levees and floating strands of proud laughter and music. I would march with you alongside the fierce warriors of Azteca, their titanium mesh armor shining in the desert sun. I would invite you to lounge with James Ligatos in his boudoir, enjoying the most beautiful of things to fend off the tinges of madness around the edges. I would welcome you home.

But I must instead hope to see you in the pages of the book. It has been my vent and my hope for long over a decade, and there is more to come. Because no matter how dystopian, there is always someone ready to plant their feet and to say no, and inspire others to do the same.

The Eight Thrones Cycle is the story of how to save the world… while indulging your darkest fantasies.

 

Buy the whole series for $40 here!

The Eight Thrones books on sale at Amazon

Each book will be on sale for 99c for one week, Amazon only: Glad Hands on Sept. 15, Anthony Reprobate on Oct. 3, Nikolai Revenant on Oct. 10 and Master Anton on Oct. 15

 

Mortalus: The Eight Thrones Cycle Game is not currently available, though digital copies may be requested through the author if you’d like to try it out for your campaign. Gabriel is also seeking an artist to help him bring the next version into being.


Angelia Sparrow is a professional driver, part-time grandma and full time cat-servant. She lives quietly in the midsouth with two husbands and a wife, overseeing the legalities of an Emerging Religion. She runs Crossroad Treasures, a craft shop, and handles its subscription box at Patreon.