Friday, April 29, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Read Something Scary--It Just Might Make Your Heart Beat Faster

Here we are at the end of April, where summer is a promise beyond the horizon, with time at the beach and beach reading. What are you planning to bring to read on your summer vacation? Romance? A good mystery. Thriller? How about a good, scary read? Horror is a good read beyond the month of October. You could read it in the DEAD of winter, when the leaves DROP DEAD in the fall, and even in the frightening BLOOM of spring. Why not summer? After all, Jaws was a terrifying book about a shark in the ocean.


Any excuse to be scared to death. And dark fantasy and horror can be read by the light of the day. Just watch out for sharks!

Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. It's a basic reaction to a stimulus, such as pain or dangerous threat. Fear is separate from anxiety, which occurs without external threat. It means to terrify, or to frighten.


Physical reactions from fear are:
Rapid heart rate

Increased blood pressure

Tightening of muscles

Sharpened or redirected senses

Dilation of the pupils

Increased sweating

So why would a person get a scary book when these symptoms of fear take over them? For the imagination is the greatest bringer of fear--you read a few pages and suddenly, there is a shadow in the corner. Did it move? Was there a sound when you should be all alone in the house?

But being frightened is good for you. Just as laughter is. Fear is that rush that brings out the prey in all of us, from our caveman days.

So go ahead. Pick up that book and buy it, or check it out. Read it. You know that shadow didn't more and the sound was the house settling. Nothing more.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Are You Scared Yet? (Original Poem)

Scared Yet?
Pamela K. Kinney

Eyes watching me in my nightmares,

A shadow hovers in the corner of my room

A howl on a moonlit night gives me shivers,

Footsteps of someone 
invisible caught on my recorder

Are you scared yet?

Fingers touching my shoulder,

Turning, nothing's there.

Whispers carried on the air,

No one is there.

Are you scared yet?

Alone in the house,

All the lights on,

One by one, they go out,

Leaving you in the dark

Are you scared yet?

You should be. . .

*Copyrights of this poem belongs to the author--do not take, but do share the link with friends.*

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New Author Intervew for Pamela K. Kinney

I've been interviewed. You can read it at

Pamela K. Kinneys Ravencon (April 29th-May 1st) Schedule

My panels, book signing, and reading schedule for Ravencon (Doubletree by Hilton Hotel  50 Kingsmill Road, Williamsburg, Virginia,)
5 pm (Panel) Southern Gothic Fiction / Room F
7 pm (Opening Ceremony) Large Auditorium
8 pm (Panel) 50 Years of Star Trek / Room E
10 am (Panel) Kid Scary vs. Adult Scary / Room F
Noon (until 1:50 p.m.) 10 :00 a.m. Book Signing / Dealer's Room
2 pm (Panel) Going Where No Man Has Gone Before / Room G
11 pm (Panel) Ghost Stories / Room 8
10:00 a.m. Reading / Room J

For panel and workshop descriptions, plus rest of the programming at the convention


Friday, April 15, 2016

Supernatural Friday: How Raven Got His Black Feathers (Tlingit Myth)

There is a tale about Black and White Raven. It is derived from Tlingit mythology.
In the beginning the world was in total darkness. No light at all. An old man, Grandfather, lived with his granddaughter in a house. Grandfather owned a great chest within his house. It contained the sun, moon, and stars, and also sickness, disease, famine, mosquitoes, and other parasites which, if released in the atmosphere would cause great harm to man. (Not unlike the Pandora story).
Raven in his white spiritual form of the raven, was aware that Grandfather had these items in his possession, He had the most interest-in the sun which radiated light. He thought how he could obtain all this for the world. He noticed that the old man’s granddaughter would come out to fetch some water from a nearby stream, and she always stopped to take a sip of water before filling her pail;
Raven devised a scheme to disguise himself as a speck of dust to flow down the stream at the time granddaughter scooped up her first drink. He managed to flow into her cup and she swallowed him. Nine months later, to the happiness of Grandfather, Raven was born by granddaughter in the human form of a boy.  (He did not question how she got pregnant.)
When Raven was older, he asked grandfather about the contents of the great chest. Grandfather explained that under no circumstances was the chest to be opened by anyone other than himself. But as time went by, he allowed Raven to play with the sun and moon and stars to occupy his time, as the youngster had no one else to play with. Each time grandfather grew more trusting and let Raven play with these celestial objects, but always instructed Raven to return them to him to be placed back into the chest. Otherwise, famine, disease, sickness,  mosquitoes, and other parasites would be released in the atmosphere to harm man. But there came a time when Raven was the only one in the house. That was the moment to steal the sun, moon and stars and he changed into his true spiritual form of the raven. He opened the chest and took out all the celestial objects under his wing. At the same time, all the sickness and diseases known to man escaped. Raven flew to the top of a smoke hole in the great house, but because his wings were so full of the celestial objects, he could not get through the smoke hole. Grandfather had just returned and he saw Raven in his true form, realizing the trickster’s deception. He ran to the fire located below the smoke hole to rekindled the flame which caused a great heat and soot to rise and tarnish the feathers of Raven from white (which was his original color from the beginning) to black. Raven could hardly breathe from the heat and soot so he let the celestial objects go and managed to get away. Because the sun, moon, and stars had no control they flowed out of the smoke hole and assumed the space in the present positions they now hold.


Friday, April 08, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Gothic Done Southern Style: Guest Blogger D. Alexander Ward

Today, I have as guest blogger D. Alexander Ward, whose latest book is Beneath Ash and Bone. He is blogging about Gothic done Southern style for Supernatural Friday. Welcome him and enjoy his post.

When someone uses the term “Gothic,” we all know what they’re talking about, right?

It conjures up a great many things that we have seen, watched, or read. Everything from the arches and gargoyles perched on the ledges of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris to the barren and windswept moors of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and the ubiquitous, Mary Shelley-esque manor house or castle, with candlelit windows, set against a sky cracked by lightning.
Born out of the Romanticism, these notions and images that represent the Gothic are very true to their European origins.

But like any American Southerner will tell you, “We don’t care how y’all do it _________.”

Now, usually we fill in that blank with the words “up North” but in this case I’m going to say “across the pond.”

The Gothic, as reimagined by Southern writers, has a long and complex history that I won’t attempt to address here. I don’t want to get into the whys and the wherefores of it, but let’s see if we can at least identify it and some of the places it has shown up. And, finally, I’ll share a little bit about how I infused my latest novel, Beneath Ash and Bone with it.

It’s impossible to address the Southern Gothic without talking about Flannery O’Connor. Her fiction—and some of the best Southern Gothic fiction, if you ask me—also often includes some of the finest examples of transgressive fiction, where we are concerned not with the “betters” of society and their lives but with the people that exist on the edges of polite society and who feel encumbered or restrained by its tenets. Early Cormac McCarthy novels, such as Outer Dark and Child of God are fine and classical examples of the Southern Gothic.
Quite simply, where the Gothic tradition as exported from Europe tended to shine a light on the lives and troubles of upper or upper-middle-class folks, the Southern Gothic often veers off to the side and focuses, instead, on those the European tradition would have only cast as bit characters. The help, the indigent, the poor, the damaged. The grotesque.

Flannery O’Conor once famously said (and it’s probably my favorite quote from her):

“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”

So, yeah. We like the freaks. And we find something important there in the lives of those regular folks who walk around every day, not with their affairs in order, but their lives and their psyches messy and broken. It resonates with us because, deep down, we feel that we all have known that level of brokenness at one time or another. Maybe we even know it still.

But sometimes the freaks don’t take center stage.

Sometimes, in keeping with the origins, the Southern Gothic does concern itself with the plantation owner and his family or the politician—the upper-crust folks that were and are in power. Granted, it’s usually only to bring them down a peg by exposing their misdeeds, their family drama, or their most savage and basest tendencies. In my view, it’s done as a means to say to the powerful that they are human, too, and they are not immune from the scars and the demons that the rest of us poor souls must bear.

This is what I’ve always loved about the Gothic done Southern style. It’s a great equalizer. Fiction for the people by the people, you might even say! Because, quite frankly, stories where the powerful or the wealthy or the well-heeled are glorified and held aloft as something to which we should aspire, are dreadfully boring.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into Southern Gothic fiction for the first time, I recommend anything by Flannery O’Connor, although my personal favorite is Wiseblood. Along with that, I would recommend A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews to get a look at just how weird and brutal it can really get. Pinckney Benedict is another writer, alive and working today, that stands tall as a purveyor of the Southern Gothic. And, lastly, an unequalled example that tends more toward the horrific would be the late Tom Piccirilli’s novel, A Choir of Ill Children.

In my own recent novel, Beneath Ash and Bone, I blended—as I often seem to—different elements and aesthetics of the Southern Gothic with the old European Gothic. I wanted a typical Gothic ghost story as might be written by someone like Susan Hill… but with a bit of Southern flavor. (Some great contemporary examples of this sort of thing that come to mind are Rhodi Hawk’s A Twisted Ladder and the film The Skeleton Key).

So, setting it in Virginia in 1860, before the unrest of the Civil War, at an influential local family’s estate, was my way of calling back to those great works by Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Bram Stoker, and the Bronte sisters. But I didn’t want to get bogged down in the often flowery prose of those earlier times, so I kept the writing more in my own style, which is contemporary and (sometimes) poetic, but always with an edge. I also wanted to employ a very distinctive aspect of Southern Gothic fiction, which is a sense of place. Not only to employ it but to give it more teeth than is customary. I wanted Evermore and the winter blizzard that had cut it off from contact with others to permeate every moment and to come across almost as antagonistic characters themselves.

You’ll have to be the judge about whether or not I succeeded in my efforts. In the end, I hope I crafted a riveting and entertaining tale with both the Gothic and the Southern Gothic as my inspiration.

As I wrap up here, I’d like to thank the generous Pamela K. Kinney for the opportunity to take over her blog for a day! Since you’re likely a reader of her blog, you already know what a fabulous author and a wealth of knowledge Pamela is on not only the subjects of writing and publishing and conventions but on paranormal phenomena and legends of local ghost stories and haunted houses (the kind of place I imagine my fictional Evermore has become in modern times). Keep doing what you do, Pamela!

D. Alexander Ward
Beneath Ash & Bone Facebook Page:


Beneath Ash and Bone Blurb:
Selburn, Virginia: A quiet backwater town nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the days before the Civil War, Sam Lock keeps the peace as the town sheriff, like his father before him.

That peace is shattered during a raging winter storm when a boy goes missing at Evermore, the sprawling estate of Horace Crownhill and his family. Racing against time and the elements, Sam must mount a desperate search for the child—but what he finds in the snow, and the dark halls of Evermore, are madness ... and murder.

As Sam searches for truth in a house poisoned by mysteries and haunted by ghosts, he hopes to weather the storm, but the harrowing secrets he uncovers may prove too terrible to bear. Will he escape with his sanity intact or will the dark presence rumored to hold sway over Evermore claim him as another sacrifice?


Excerpt from Beneath Ash and Bone:

Later, when he woke for a moment in the dim light of that fading candle, he made a vain attempt to crawl out of the dreams that enshrouded him like a grave. Before that could be accomplished, though, a familiar hand lighted on his shoulder and the sound of his father’s voice filled the room as the man stood by his bedside.  The moment was so familiar that Sam knew it must be a dream.
“Wake up and stand fast, boyo,” his father uttered in his thick brogue. “They’re comin’ around the back way and ye’d better have more than yer knob in yer hand when they arrive.”
“Da?” Sam groaned, bleary in the near darkness.
It had to be a dream for there was no other reason his father would be there, uttering those words again; words which echoed as small tortures in Sam’s mind. Words that were a bitter reminder of how Sam had failed him one hot summer night long ago and how the old man had paid for it with his life.
Still, when he sat up in the guest house bed, he saw the old man’s form lingering at the threshold of the small bedroom and he rose to follow him.
“Somethin’ goin’ on,” his father said, turning the corner, “and ye’d better see to it.”
As Sam put his first step forward on the achingly cold floor, he was suddenly aware that this was no dream. Something cold and wet mushed between his bare toes and he looked down to see what it was.
Messy, irregular heaps of the stuff led away from his bed, out the door and around the corner. In the quiet of the guest house, he heard a rhythmic, wooden thumping.
He checked his side expecting to find an empty holster but felt the grip of his pistol there, drew it, and crept through the house to follow the path that his father had taken. His wits now about him, it wasn’t that he thought his Da was actually present in the room. It was just that his dream of the dead man and the moment of his waking had intersected with something very real.
Someone had left these tracks of snow on the floor and it wasn’t him.
Sam turned the corner from the bedroom and looked into the shadowed confines of the sitting room. He saw more lumps of snow staggered along the floor and the door to the guest house ajar, banging open and shut with the wind of the storm.
Then something else. The crunch of deep snow and a pressing against the house.
He froze, waiting, scanning the room.
As his gaze fell upon the wide window that looked out onto the wood, he saw a pale and deathly face looking in. The face of his father, returned to taunt his son. He recoiled and brandished his pistol.
“But I have it this time, Da! See?”
Then the face was gone and something in its movement uprooted the sheriff from his frozen fear. Indeed, it had been a spectral face that he had glimpsed in the window, but it hadn’t been his father’s. And it had moved away quickly, not with the slip of a spirit but the clumsy gait of a man.
Sam ran to the door and kicked it open, looking out onto the white landscape of the grounds. Something wild was tramping through the snow in the direction of the manor house, pale and gangly looking, its thin white hair flying behind it.
“Stop there, you,” he hollered out and gave chase, but before he could get far, the figure had disappeared into the shadows, incorporeal as the night itself.
The sheriff stood there, his heart pumping. On the far side of the main house, he saw an orange glow pulsating in the darkness. He barely sniffed the air before he smelled it; burning.
Something beyond the house was burning.

Author Bio:
D.Alexander Ward is an author and editor of horror and dark fiction. As a volunteer and Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association he is an involved participant in the independent horror community.
In addition to Beneath Ash and Bone, he is the author of Blood Savages: A Blackguards Novel (Book 1), A Feast of Buzzards, and After the Fire & Other Tales.
As an editor, he co-edited the Lovecraftian horror anthologies, Shadows Over Main Street, Volumes 1 and 2 from Cutting Block Books and also, GUTTED: Beautiful Horror Stories from Crystal Lake Publishing.
Along with his family and the haints in the woods, he lives near the farm where he grew up in what used to be rural Virginia, where his love for the people, passions and folklore of the South was nurtured. There, he spends his nights penning tales of the dark, strange and fantastic.
He is active on social media and you can find out more on his website:


Friday, April 01, 2016

Supernatural Friday: How the October Country Led Me to Writing, or How Ray Bradbury Mentored Me Without Meaning To

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
~Ray Bradbury

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” 
Ray Bradbury

I just read a great article by author Jonathan Janz about why he likes Stephan King, and how King had led him to become a writer. Well, I have a confession. Being that I am of King’s generation and read most likely what he read growing up and even in college, I will tell you my secret. Which writer most influence me.

Edgar Allan Poe? HP Lovecraft? Yes, I devoured their stories, but it wasn’t them who put me on the path. No, it was two authors, and they were Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson. But I will talk about Ray Bradbury today. Bradbury’s books and stories are those even to this day I can read and reread. He is a master storyteller. Who I have seen much of his influences in Stephen King’s work.

Like Something Wicked This Way Comes. The young boys fighting the Dark and his carnival, and learn that wishes can become nightmares. That the innocence of childhood due to monsters can lead the way to growing up. A magical blend of creepiness and nostalgia

His Fahrenheit 451 (one of my husband’s favorite science fiction reads) is a science fiction where in the future where firefighters burn books, not put out the fires. It is a classic novel of censorship and defiance, as resonant today as it was when it was first published nearly 50 years ago. A dystopian novel many years before books like this were named that.

He wrote many themed short stories and combined them in books like Dark Carnival, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, The Martian Chronicles, R is for Rocket, S is for Space, The Golden Apples of the Sun, The October Country, and I Sing the Body Electric and Other Stories (“I Sing the Body Electric” was originally a teleplay written by Bradbury for the 100thepisode of The Twilight Zone in 1962.).

Stories I remember well from the books above included “The Foghorn”: this story was the basis for the 1953 film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, “The “Homecoming,” “The Sound of Thunder”: Bradbury examines what can happen due to one tiny mistake during a time travel prehistoric hunt that can change the history of the world, “The Veldt”: Bradbury imagines a world of enormous flat screen TVs, interactive video game playing, the future generation of children indifferent to violence or homicide, and smart houses 50 years before it is ever invented Except the lions on screen in this futuristic tale are not image, but the real deal. “I Sing the Body Electric”: though I Sing the Body Electric” was originally a teleplay written by Bradbury for the 100thepisode of The Twilight Zone in 1962, and was how I saw it first before I read it, and “The Lake”: a sort of classic ghost story, but about childhood too.  You can view "I Sing the Body Electric" that was telecast on Twilight Zone at

A favorite children’s book of his I love concerns Halloween. The Halloween Tree. Eight boys set out on a Halloween night and are led into the depths of the past by a tall, mysterious character named Moundshroud. They ride on a black wind to autumn scenes in distant lands and times, where they witness other ways of celebrating this holiday about the dark time of year. 

The past few years, I read One More for the Road, and the last of his books I read before his passing, Farewell Summer—sequel to his Dandelion Wine (I suggest read this one before Farewell Summer) and From the Dust Returned . 

From the Dust Returned grew out of a short story, "Homecoming," which appeared in the October 1946 issue of Mademoiselle magazine. Bradbury has published just five other stories about the Elliots, an outlandish, greathearted and loving-spirited Halloween creature clan and their "abnormal" adopted son Timothy. The novel is comprised of the previously published six stories interwoven with newer chapters and "connective tissue" that give us an unforgettable portrait of the rise and fall of a most peculiar brood.

Ray Bradbury takes me and others back to a time where as a child we all want to grow up, and yet, are afraid to. Growing up takes away the wonder of dinosaurs, settling Mars, a man whose illustrations on his flesh move and unsettle as we view them, and where vampires and ghosts share their home with a human boy who only wants to fit in with them. Where summer is just around the corner and autumn means we are have arrived at the October Country which Halloween resides in all its dark glory.

What are your favorite stories or novels by Ray Bradbury? And why do they touch you, and in what way?