Welcome to Crone Girls Press!

We denizens of LitUnd Towers are absolutely thrilled to announce that Crone Girls Press has joined our cooperative! Some of us have already had the pleasure of seeing our work published by Crone Girls in its fascinating and creepy anthologies, and we’re looking forward to many more terrific volumes from this up-and-coming new press.

This coming weekend is our triumphant return to Midsouthcon after four years or so of missing out on the Memphis fun, and we’re delighted that Crone Girls publisher Rachel Brune will be joining us for the first time there! (That means Rachel also hasn’t experienced the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar. Shhh, no one tell her.)

We hope you enjoy the offerings from Crone Girls as much as we have, and look forward to sharing them with you! And now, a few words from Rachel.

 

In 2019, I sat down to publish a collection of my sister’s short horror fiction. When she sent a grand total of one story, I decided to recruit some of my writing friends who also wrote horror, and our first anthology, Stories We Tell After Midnight, was born.
With our first title under our belt, I decided to branch out and publish two anthologies in 2020. The first, Coppice & Brake, was a full-length anthology of horror and dark fiction with distinct Ray Bradbury vibes. Its publication also coincided with the Great Plague of March 2020 and beyond.
Even though writing, reading, and publishing horror in the midst of a life-changing pandemic isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, we’ve managed to put together a decent slate of horror anthologies that feature the work of authors from all over the world. In addition to the full-length projects, we began a series of three-novella mini-anthologies, Midnight Bites, the first of which featured the work of Literary Underworld’s own Elizabeth Donald.
So, what’s next for Crone Girls Press? We’re currently working on a sequel anthology to Coppice & Brake, titled Tangle & Fen. We have several Midnight Bites volumes scheduled for 2022, and are currently reading submissions for more. You can find us at a number of fan conventions throughout the southeast, as well as with the Literary Underworld.
And, finally, if you’d like to come hang out with the Fiendish Readers of CGP, come check out our Facebook group.
______________________________________

 

As a military journalist, Rachel A. Brune wrote and photographed the Army and its soldiers for five years. When she moved on, she didn’t quit writing stories with soldiers in them; she just added werewolves, sorcerers, a couple of evil mad scientists, and a Fae or two. Now a full-time author and writing coach living in North Carolina, Rachel enjoys poking around former military installations and listening for the ghosts of old soldiers… or writing them into her latest short story. In addition to writing, she is a contributing editor to the Writerpunk Press anthology series, which benefits the PAWS no-kill animal shelter in Lynnwood, WA. She also contributed her editing talents to the Pride Park anthology, proceeds of which benefit the Trevor Project. She lives with her spouse, two daughters, one reticent cat, and two flatulent rescue dogs.

Twenty years of fever dreams

By Elizabeth Donald

Harlan Ellison once asked me, “How many stories have you sold?” Nervous, I flubbed the question, because the answer certainly was “far fewer than you, sir.”

My first short story published for pay was “Vertigo,” a weird Twilight Zone-esque piece set in the middle of a campus shooting. It appeared in DogEar Magazine in 2002, and while I’d played around with the freebie sites beforehand, it was the first time someone paid me money for my fiction.

Three years later, the amazing Frank Fradella founded New Babel Books and came to me with an idea for a collection. Setting Suns collected all my published short stories and a handful of new ones written just for that volume, and it won the Darrell Award for best short story and stayed in print for more than 15 years.

I’ve had several books go out of print over the years, and some have been reissued by other presses, while others have quietly gone on into obscurity. But Setting Suns is a book that many of my readers continue to cite as their favorite, and I have a particular fondness for the old girl. It was not my first book – that distinction belongs to Nocturnal Urges, an ebook released in 2004 by Ellora’s Cave Publishing – but Setting Suns was the first time I opened a box of books and saw my own name on the cover. Ask any writer about that moment, and see the look in their eyes when they answer.

While I was thinking about this, I realized I was coming up on my anniversary: it’s been 20 years since my first paid fiction sale. That’s a nice round number, and I wanted to commemorate it somehow.

Thus was born the anniversary edition of Setting Suns, to be released this spring. It includes a bonus short story and a new afterword from me reflecting on the last twenty years and how damn lucky I am to have the career I have. After all, Harlan didn’t ask me how many stories I thought about, or plotted in my notebook, or even how many I managed to scribble out over the last 20 years… he asked how many I sold, and that ever-changing number is due to your support and continued willingness to plunk down your cash for my fever-dreams.

I’m very pleased to be able to offer this book, with my thanks for the past twenty years. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed walking through its garden of shadows.

To add to the fun: I’ve recently gotten a handful of books back from a store that had them on consignment, and to my delight, there are three out-of-print rarities among them! I now have two copies of Dreadmire and one each of Setting Suns (original edition) and Blackfire to find homes.

So we’re running a contest! To get an entry, you should:

Sign up for my newsletter!

Subscribe to my Patreon!

Preorder Setting Suns!

Each of these gets you an entry in the contest, and three winners will be randomly selected to receive one of the out-of-print rare books, signed upon request. Spread the word!

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 and Mimi Zanger Award for fiction, finalist for the Prism and Imadjinn awards, author of the Nocturne vampire mystery series and Blackfire dark fantasy series, as well as other novels, novellas and stories in the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld small-press cooperative; an award-winning journalist and essayist with more than 25 years in journalism; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She is currently completing two masters degrees at Southern Illinois University Edwardville and teaches news writing, composition and editing at SIUE and St. Louis University. She serves as president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists and the Eville Writers, and is a member of the national SPJ Ethics Commission, AEJMC, Sigma Tau Delta, Editorial Freelancers Association and belongs to more writing and trade organizations than is healthy. She lives with her family in a haunted house in Edwardsville, Illinois. In her spare time, she has no spare time. 

Preorder your copy now! Available soon at Literary Underworld. 

Setting Suns Anniversary Edition

Setting Suns Anniversary Edition

$15.00

Buy now

Let’s talk about love

By Nick Rowan

Let’s talk about love.

Love is what drives most of the books I’ve ever read. Love of country. Love of family. Love of ideals. And yes, romantic love.

I get a little bent out of shape when I hear fanboys grumble about romance has no place in science fiction. What are they reading? Did they not fight with John Carter from frozen South Pole to frozen North Pole of Mars, to win the incomparable Dejah Thoris? Did they not want Wife Soup right along beside Wash? Do they not quote “I love you”/”I know” endlessly? Did they not, for the love of Asimov, read HEINLEIN?

I am very much for love in science fiction. Of course, the new ways of figuring out the friction, what with zero-gee, advanced sex toys and alien anatomy are fun, but what sells the story is the characters and their relationship.

It is said the secret to a character is to make them want something, or maybe it’s getting them up a tree and throwing rocks at them. When you’re writing love, the characters are wanting the same thing: each other.

And such a wealth of rocks this gives us to throw: does one want more than the other? Does one want only their image of the other? Is what one considers love incompatible with the other’s needs?

I chucked a whole lot of rocks in my recently-published Master Anton. It’s the third in a dark future series. Anthony has been sent to Rome for specialized training. He’s separated from his beloved James, who has remained in the States. And every day is some new test or trial that he must conquer before he can return.

In the scene before this one, James’ identical twin, Ishmael, has performed his own test, one he does on all of his brother’s proteges. He impersonated James, to see if Anthony could tell the difference or would even care. The next day, Anthony calls James.

Anthony sighed. “Ishmael visited last night.”

James’ face went thunderous. “He did, did he? And what judgment did he see fit to pronounce on you? For he sees himself as the guardian of my safety and tests all of my people to his satisfaction.”

Anthony smiled. “He said I have his highest commendation.”

James’ eyes narrowed and he frowned. “Before or after he took you to bed?”

Anthony pulled back. It felt as though he’d taken an arrow through his chest. “I…I didn’t let him. I knew it wasn’t you when he kissed me. I mean, it sounded like fun, but without you for so long…”

He ran a hand through his hair. James believed him to be so fickle. Ouch. “Do you really believe I’d trade anyone who looks like you as though I loved only the man you show everyone else?”

James smiled at that. “All the others have, although to be fair, some of them had no choice in the matter. My boy. My own, beloved Anthony. I will be coming to Rome before the year is out. I can endure no longer without you.”

You can see how Anthony and James work out, and how love can improve, destroy, inspire and defeat the characters in Master Anton, available in ebook, paperback or hardback from Amazon. (Coming soon to the Literary Underworld!)

To win an ebook copy, leave a comment. We will select one lucky vict- er reader, by random number generator to venture into the Compound in Rome, where the Great Spider rules the whole world.

The other books, in order are Anthony Reprobate, Nikolai Revenant (undergoing some corrections to the ebook and being formatted for hardback), and Glad Hands—a novel of the DisUnited States. Occasionally, a short story set in the universe will turn up on my Patreon, which regularly features recipes and drag performances, tarot readings and writing, short stories and occasionally novels. And at the $10 level, a pagan subscription box: 2 handmade goods of pagan interest. (Although shower fizzies are non-denominational.)

Where else to find me? As Angelia Sparrow or as Nick Rowan.

So, take your local witch’s advice: Always throw split salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck and fall in love whenever you can.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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!

NEW: Methuselah’s Legacy

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

A conversation with T.W. Fendley

Q. Why did you start writing

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

Q. Why did you choose your particular genre? 

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

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

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

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

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

Q. What are you doing next? 

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


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

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

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

Preorder today! Releasing in February 2021

LiteraryUnderworld.com (print)

Amazon.com (ebook)


REVIEW:

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

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


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

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

New: The Dark Walk Forward

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

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

Q: What was your first paid published work?

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

Q: Who are your favorite writers?

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

Q: What are you doing next?

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preorder your copy today from the Literary Underworld!

Reviews

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

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

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

Ghosts in San Antonio!

Literary Underworld co-founder Elizabeth Donald has a new novella out from Crone Girls Press, the next adventure in her Blackfire horror series!

Elizabeth discussed this new release in a recent interview with Crone Girls Press managing editor Rachel Brune.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’ve been writing since I could pick up a crayon, but my first published fiction appeared in 2001 or thereabouts. I wrote short stories that usually ended up in the last issue of each magazine, so I was the Typhoid Mary of the small press for a while. My first novel was published in 2004, and I’ve been writing fiction ever since – usually horror, science fiction, a spot of romance and a touch of fantasy, but often where several of these coincide. By day, I was a newspaper reporter for 20-odd years and continue to commit journalism on a freelance basis; by night I write about ghouls and monsters, and I try not to mix them up with Congress.

Q: This is a prequel to your Blackfire series. Can you give readers an introduction to that series and tell us a little bit about it?

Blackfire started with a novella intended for a collection like this one: traditional monsters written in nontraditional ways. I was assigned zombies, which was a relief since I’d spent the last several years writing about vampires and I wanted the switch. Zombies are traditionally a gross-out horror: fear of disease and putrefaction coupled with the survivalist subgenre. So I went another way entirely, and strove to find a way to make zombies scary without eyeballs and entrails. That was The Cold Ones, but the anthology was canceled before publication. A year later I found a publisher willing to take it on even at that very short length, and the print run sold out in 48 hours. Since then I’ve written a full-length novel, Blackfire, and a handful of short stories published in genre magazines and traditional literary magazines, as well as in my own short story collection, Moonlight Sonata.

Yanaguana is part of that story – a prequel by its setting, but it doesn’t require knowledge of all the other stories to enjoy it. It’s a good introduction to Sara Harvey, Paul Vaughn and the rest of the Blackfire crew, and it’s my hope to keep writing tales of their adventures for a long time to come. Unfortunately, the original publisher went out of business, so those two early books are out of print for now.

Q: This story was partly inspired by a trip to San Antonio. Can you talk a little about that, and how the story came out of it?

San Antonio is a nifty city! I travel a lot for my work as a journalist and as an author, averaging about 30 nights a year in hotel rooms when there isn’t a global life-threatening pandemic. Last year I was in San Antonio on business for journalism, and I fell in love with it. The history (ghost-related and otherwise), the food, the fascinating layout of a city on two levels. And did I mention the food? Yum.

But mostly it was that fascinating layout, of the Riverwalk and the thread of the San Antonio River meandering through downtown, and the city itself bustling about a level above it. I wandered along the river and realized what a wonderful setting it would be for monsters and demons and ghosts, because that’s the way my mind operates. Ask poor Memphis how many times I’ve infested it with monsters!

Before my trip, I had arranged to be allowed a photo shoot on the grounds of the Alamo (though not inside the chapel, they don’t allow God himself the rights to shoot inside there). I visited three times for photography and research, developing a travelogue for my nonfiction work.

But as I was planning the story of Yanaguana, I knew something had to happen at the Alamo. The city itself is practically a character in the novella, and the Alamo is the center and heart of the city and its history. Yes, it’s a huge tourist draw and I have no doubt economics is a big part of its importance, but it has special meaning for the people of Texas and San Antonio in particular. I knew I wanted it to be a big part of my story, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do my research properly. I hope I’ve treated the city and its history with the respect they deserve.

Q: What were some of the challenges of revisiting a series after some time away, especially writing something that happens before the other books? How did you meet that challenge?

It was harder than I thought it would be! Not so much revisiting these characters, because they’re still very much alive for me. In fact, a short story featuring Parish Roberts was published earlier this year in River Bluff Review, so I never go too long without playing with the Blackfire crew. But the prequel aspect was a struggle, because I am a Star Trek-level nerd about continuity. I was continually checking the previous works to make sure the events of Yanaguana fit into the timeline of the Blackfire story and don’t contradict events prior to or after its occurrence. I remember searching for quite some time to figure out in which leg Sara was stabbed way back in the first book! I never want my creative impulse to create questions in the mind of the reader that throw them out of the story or compromise the realism of the characters’ stories – as much realism as one can have when you’re talking ghosts and monsters.

Q: Can you explain why every time I read one of your stories, there is always a scene or sentence that makes your editor cry (in a good way)?

A horror writer isn’t necessarily an emotional sadist, but it helps! If I make a reader cry, or afraid, or laugh, or any strong emotional response, I win. The enemy of good fiction is boredom. If I hear someone lost interest in my story partway through, or even fell asleep at midnight reading it, I want to know where I lost them so I can fix it next time. The most beautifully written descriptive passage isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the reader is skimming past it, muttering, “So when is something going to happen?” And if I hear they cared enough about my characters to cry for them, or that their snark made the readers laugh, I know I’ve created something that reaches them and will stick with them after they finish the book. And that’s really the point of the job, isn’t it?

Q: I recognize a lot of what I think of as “subtle accuracy” in your writing, especially around local law enforcement, mortuary affairs, etc. You’ve spent many years working as a reporter–does this inform your writing? For those writers without this experience, what would you recommend they do to achieve familiarity with these characters and situations?

As of this writing I’ve been in journalism for 23 years, and while I don’t tend to run out to crime scenes or courtrooms as a freelancer now, I did it for a very long time and have the scars to prove it. It goes back to that wish not to throw the reader out of the story. If you ask real cops and prosecutors what they think of forensic procedural TV shows like CSI, you will get a lot of laughter and some four-letter words. For the sake of dramaticism, they’ve got lab rats that kick down doors and interrogate suspects, and don’t get them started on the “not-a-cop who helps the cops” a la Castle or even Mr. Holmes. It’s important to me to get as much realism into my dark fantasies as possible, because it lends credence to the more fantastic elements. I have cop friends who read my interrogations and police procedures; I have military friends who review military aspects; I have gun experts to tell me the difference between a clip and a magazine because those are the tiny details that throw a reader out of the story. (Don’t get me started on my own reaction to the Evil Soul-Sucking Lying Journalist trope.)

It’s also important to have first readers check you when you’re writing about populations beyond yourself, whether we’re talking about race or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation and gender identity. I edited a piece once for a straight male client who was writing a love story between two men, and with his permission requested a sensitivity read from a fellow writer who was gay. Because both the client and I were working from outside our life experience, it helps to have the perspective of someone whose experience aligns more closely to your characters. The goal is to accurately and realistically portray people we made up from our imaginations, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of stereotypes and clichés that are offensive, inaccurate, or simply boring and overdone.

The easy answer is to do your research and never fall into the laziness of, “Nobody will notice.” (Someone always notices. Always.) There are groups like Writing the Other that offer seminars and strive regularly to help writers seek and destroy stereotypes and microaggressions that can creep into our writing, and professional sensitivity readers can also help you along those lines.

The more complex answer is that a writer is an observer of human nature, and you should seek out life experiences and acquaintances with a wide variety of ideas and expertise and backgrounds. The writer alone in her garret might not have much in the way of distractions from her art, but eventually it will become solely self-reflective art. Stephen King wrote that the most brilliantly rendered fictional character is “but a bag of bones” next to the dullest living human being, and so we can do worse than to become students of human nature and reflect that in our characters.

Q: What’s next in your fiction travels?

I am currently in year three of five years of grad school, working on two (2) masters degrees so I can be truly over-educated. I’ve begun the coursework this semester toward an MFA in creative writing, and so my focus has been on developing short stories and evolving my craft through the program. Next summer will be free, however, so I imagine a novel will be forthcoming. But I haven’t decided which novel it will be yet! I listen to requests from my readers, and the last few conventions before the pandemic had a cacophony of requests for more Blackfire. There’s a final confrontation coming, and I know how it ends…

Q: Anything to add?

I had a fantastic time playing with the Blackfire gang again, and infesting San Antonio with critters, as they call them. This has been a fun experience, and I hope the readers enjoy Yanaguana as much as I did. I remain grateful and humbled that publishers continue to gamble on me and readers continue to plunk down hard-earned cash for my work, as it’s a privilege and an honor.


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 the author of the Nocturne vampire mystery series and Blackfire dark fantasy series, as well as other novels and short stories in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld author cooperative; an award-winning journalist and guest lecturer on journalism ethics; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She is currently pursuing two masters degrees at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is a teaching assistant at the college. She serves as president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists and Eville Writers, and is a member of the national SPJ Ethics Commission, AEJMC, ELLA, Freelancers Union, Editorial Freelancers Association and others. She lives with her husband and son in a haunted house in Edwardsville, Illinois. In her spare time, she has no spare time.

www.elizabethdonald.com

elizabethdonaldphotography.com

donaldmedia.com

patreon.com/edonald