Like Father Like Son by Meka James

Celebrating Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Meka James, author of Fiendish. Fiendish is a dark, twisted spin of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast. Lately, we’ve been bonding over writing. Maybe one day, I’ll have her join me on the dark side hee hee. Please enjoy her psychological suspense short story.

Like Father Like Son
By: Meka James
Copyright 2017

I sat outside the dilapidated old gate. Years of neglect covered the foreboding iron blockade. I was certain that without the weeds, the whole thing would have fallen apart.

My hands tightened on the steering wheel. Why was I here? Why had I been drawn to this place? For years I’d tried to ignore the curiosity I’d had about my biological father. Mother tried her best to avoid talking about him. Giving me only tidbits of information. Everyone around me was that way. He was some dark, dirty secret they didn’t want me to know about.

I was pacified for a while, but the older I got; the more I wanted to know. I needed to know. Who was he? My mother loved me. That was clear. My step-father loved me. That was clear. I wasn’t treated any differently, but it’s hard not to stand out when surrounded by your siblings. I didn’t match. I didn’t fit in. I had my mother’s light complexion and the bright blue eyes that only could have come from my father, along with my black hair. It was a stark contrast to my siblings more sun-tanned complexions, brown hair and light brown eyes. Even without the physical differences, I felt different.

My thoughts sometimes were what people might consider disturbing. The ways I’d imagine hurting my annoying classmates, or my Chemistry teacher when she’d failed me on my lab. Hydrochloric acid to her eyes then watching her stumble around like a buffoon was my favorite. Sewing the lips together of the bitchy cheerleader before slowly carving away at all those features she prided herself on; that thought got me through a lot of long days.They were the kind of thoughts that should have scared me, but they didn’t. Instead they really got my blood pumping, my adrenaline rushing. I never shared them with anyone. They wouldn’t understand.

Eventually I stopped asking my mother. The internet has a wealth of information. I never quite looked at my mother the same once I learned how my father really died. He was killed, by her hands. One would think I’d have been angered by that knowledge. I wasn’t. I was intrigued. I dare say I even held a new appreciation for my mother after that. She’d killed a man. My father. The article said it been in self-defense. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know it all. I needed to know why. I kept digging.

It’s how I ended up here. At his house. After his death, my mother got it all. Tax records showed she owned this place. Why? Why was she holding on to it? Why hadn’t she sold it? I stepped out of my car, approaching the gate. I pushed. It creaked. I pushed harder. It gave way just enough for me to squeeze through.

A long driveway stretched out before me, overgrown with weeds and tall grass. Standing in the distance, a large house in disrepair from the years of neglect. It was one of those houses you’d see in a horror movie, the one that would scream run the other way. It called to me. What was the significance of this house? Why was it left to rot?

I started walking toward it, answering the call. With each step I felt a connection. With each step I felt as though I’d found that missing piece. With each step I felt like I was home. This house belonged to my father. This house would hold the answers to the questions no one would answer.

I climbed the stone steps onto the front porch. My fingers traced along the elaborately carved designs on the door. My heart rate increased. On the other side could be the insight I’d been searching for about my father. I pushed. The large wooden door wouldn’t budge. I stepped back looking around. I could break a window. No that was a last resort. I didn’t want to damage his property if I didn’t have to. I walked around the back of the house. The tiny shed looked out of place. That door opened with ease. Nothing but a spiral staircase and a single bulb hanging from a line. I tested the stability of the stairs before making the descent.

My pulse quickened. At the bottom of the steps, a cell. It appeared to be a replica of Hannibal Lecter’s cell from Silence Of The Lamb. Stone walls. Plexi-glass front. Open toilet and shower along with a rusted twin bed with a stained mattress. Blood maybe? That thought excited me. This room alone was right. I felt the connection to a man I’d never met. A smile grew on my face as I looked around. This was what I needed. Something told me I was my father’s son. My thoughts. My desires to hurt people and watch them suffer, I could have learned from him, but at the same time experimenting on my own held an appeal. The musty, iron smell was strangely comforting I took a deep breath. I was home.

Middle-Grade Students Love Horror Too, Just Ask Neil Gaiman

To celebrate Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Laura Emmons, author of The Queen of the Night series. She’s recently written a horror story for middle-grade readers and is shopping it around to agents and contests. Good luck!

Writing Horror Stories for Middle-Grade Readers
by Laura Emmons

Neil Gaiman once said in an interview that, “Kids are so much braver than adults, sometimes, and so much less easily disturbed. Kids will make their nightmares up out of anything, and the important thing in fiction, if you’re giving them nightmares, is to demonstrate that nightmares are beatable.” Perhaps that is why the horror/ghost category is such a fast growing genre in middle-grade fiction.

The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean is a perfect example. The story starts with a grisly murder, but morphs into a sweet story about a boy raised by ghosts, tutored by a werewolf and mentored by a vampire who decides he wants to experience life among the living. By combining the poignancy of a coming-of-age tale with the thrill of suspense, the novel delights readers of all ages. As a winner of the Newbery Medal and the Hugo Award, this is a perfect example of a middle-grade horror story.

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Gaiman’s Coraline is another successful novel in the genre. When Coraline and her family move into a new house, Coraline finds a portal to an alternate world behind a locked door. She returns to her reality to find that her parents are missing and she must rescue them by herself.

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Serafina and the Black Cloak written by Robert Beatty is a NY Times bestseller. It won the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize in 2016. Serafina lives with her father, a maintenance man, in the basement of the Biltmore estate. When children start disappearing, she and her new friend, Braedon Vanderbilt, must solve the mystery of the man in the black cloak and save the day.

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Important factors in these books are the tenacity and courage of the main character. Although these characters are tweenagers, they are all heroes.

Middle-Grade readers are defined as aged 8-12. Books in this category are generally 30,000 to 50,000 words in length, although fantasy novels may be longer. As a rule, no profanity, graphic violence, sex or drugs should be involved in stories written for this age group. The focus of the novel should be on friends, family and the character’s changing relationship to the world around him. Some key guidelines to writing a great middle-grade horror novel are

  1. Start with a great hook. Although this is true for all novels, it is especially true for the attention span of tweenagers.
  2.  Keep the pace fast. Building suspense throughout the story is critical to keeping the young reader’s interest.
  3. Use humor to offset scary scenes. Children respond better to humor and may be more tolerant of terrifying action if they can relieve the tension with jokes.
  4. Make the protagonist a strong character. This is more important among middle-grade fiction, where the reader identifies closely with the main character.
  5. Have a happy ending. Children like to be scared, as long as everything works out in the end.

Good luck and happy writing!

Horror Interview With Yawatta Hosby

Oh my goodness, I’m so excited! Tonight reached my blog getting over 200,000 views! I can’t even believe it.  2011 began my blogging hobby. 2013 began my publishing journey. 2017 still going strong. What if I had given up on my dream? I can’t even imagine…

In celebration of Women’s Horror Month, I thought it’d be fun to interview myself, to share with you guys some of my deepest fears. That takes a lot of me because I’m a very private person.

Okay, here goes:

1. What’s your favorite horror movie?

Scream, hands down. I loved the slasher and pyschological aspect. Syd didn’t ask to be stalked. Syd didn’t ask for everyone around her to die, one by one. Syd just wanted to be a normal teenager and get through high school. Too bad her boyfriend had other plans…It was the first time I experienced a human as the monster in a movie.

In 1996, I was in junior high, 9th grade to be exact. That’s when the movie came out in theaters. Let me tell ya, I was beyond spooked. The murder scenes were gruesome, and the situation was something that could happen in real life. Someone obsessive could be plotting my death. Someone close to me could betray me in the worst way. I already have trust issues and keep my wall up. You can bet your bottom dollar I didn’t date in high school (the movie Fear and my shyness contributed to that also haha).

2. What’s the first horror book/story you remember reading?

Oh my goodness, I still remember this day like yesterday. I read one of R.L. Stine’s books on the couch at grandma’s house. She was watching her soaps. School had been cancelled. I was in the 7th grade.

The story was of a kid who had a ghost as a babysitter. The older lady terrorized the kid when he figured out her secret. I was breathing rapidly, sweating profusely, and trembling with fear. Even though I was scared, I couldn’t look away from the page. The scariest scene–the little boy looked out the second floor window and saw the ghost’s head floating outside…without the body attached!

No lie–to this day I’m afraid to look out a window.

3. What scares you?

I’m a huge scaredy cat. Here’s my long list in no particular order: showing weakness, getting attacked from behind, tornadoes, storms, fear of heights, water (fear of drowning), being mauled by a dog, ghosts, frogs and toads, insects, crazy people, antique dolls, knifes, guns, the woods, bears, mountain lions, birds, being stalked, cancer, crossing bridges, haunted tours, under my bed and closet (places the boogeyman can hide), and getting behind a wheel of a vehicle (fear of driving).

Surprisingly,  I’m not scared of snakes or mice.

4. Do you have any fun Halloween experiences?

My brother and I always had a competition of scaring each other. He was in junior high. We’re 13 years apart, I’m the oldest. I went to The Devil’s Den in Winchester, VA for a haunted tour, leaving RJ at home. He said he was going to the Haunted Fairgrounds. And, since I wouldn’t let his friend stay over, he said he would be back in the morning.

When I got home, it was pitch dark and freezing cold. Oh no had a ghost followed me home! Calming down and thinking a burglar broke a window, I searched the house, grabbing a hammer. In the hallway, I noticed all the bedroom doors closed. I went down in the basement, then I crept upstairs to the second floor.  Now, RJ’s door was cracked open. Holding the hammer over my head, I was prepared to use it. No flight response. I was prepared to fight.

I was on the top step. I paused, then tip toed to his door. I braced myself, sweat dripping from my forehead, my heart racing. Either I’d hurt the burglar or the burglar would kill me. I pushed the door open. RJ yelled “BOO” from the bathroom.

Let’s just say, I begged him to call his friend so he could stay. The more, the merrier. Mom was spending the night with her boyfriend. She only came home on the weekends. Turns out, RJ never went to the Haunted Fairgrounds. He waited for me, turning off the heat. He knew me well. Coming back from the haunted tour, I would walk into a freezing house and freak out, thinking a ghost followed me home.

I respected him after that prank. What did we do after that? We all watched The Unborn. No wonder I have nightmares quite often.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Sharing an Excerpt of My Crazy Ballerina WIP

It’s post #7 for Women’s Horror Month. Man, time goes fast! Sticking to my promise of showing more vulnerability as a writer, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my Crazy Ballerina suspense work-in-progress.

If you’ve read any of my books, you know a running theme I love writing about is obsession. My pre-teen Loren character is no exception. After her brother Franco dies, she terrorizes her younger sister Kina. The Carey family will never be the same…

Here’s my excerpt:

In the wee hours of the morning, my feet slid across the carpet in the hallway. I ignored the family portraits hung up on the wall. I walked past Mom and Dad’s master bedroom. There was no point going in because no one was there. They were both sitting on my bedroom floor, probably asleep by now. All night they had taken turns watching over me to make sure I didn’t fall asleep. I made it to the bathroom and turned on the light, then I left a small crack in the door. I did that in case Mom or Dad peeked their head into the hallway. My cover story of having to use the bathroom would sound more real if they saw the light on.

I crept to Angela’s closed bedroom door and opened it. Her Winnie the Pooh alarm clock was the only light in her room. She was snoring lightly. I took a deep breath and placed my hand over my heart. My beautiful little sister. I’d have to keep telling her stories of Franco, so she wouldn’t forget him. I slowly shut her door because I didn’t want to disrupt her peaceful sleep.

I made my way to Kina’s closed bedroom door and balled my hands into a fist. If I was a cartoon character, gray smoke would be coming out of my ears. If Kina had a heart, she would be crying to herself in bed. Or she would be praying near the window.  When I turned the knob, I wasn’t surprised the little brat was sound asleep. Her lamp on her nightstand was still on. Her iPad lay near her pillow.

I folded my arms across my chest, then I stomped to her bed. I wasn’t afraid of Kina, and it was time to prove that to her. If anything, she should be afraid of me. You see, Kina was sneaky. Never in a million years would I have thought she could be so ugly inside. She had that naïve personality that showed innocence. She was probably laughing at how things worked out with Franco. She was probably plotting what to do next. The thing with sneaky people was that they worked on schedules, and sometimes they manipulated other people to do the dirty work for them.

 If there was a war between us, I’d win, no doubt. I wasn’t sneaky. I didn’t plan first. I acted on impulse. And when I think she’s not worth breathing anymore, then I’ll end her life and not even give it a second thought. She could end up like worm food, what she resorted my brother, my best friend to become.

I leaned down. Her breathing tickled my nose hairs. If I didn’t know any better, Kina was smirking. She definitely looked evil.  I whispered, “Kina.” My voice sounded like acid. I wanted to scare the bejeezus out of her.

She yawned and stretched, then slowly opened her eyes. “Loren, I’m happy you’re home. I love you.” Her voice sounded hoarse.

“I hate you.”

Sadness and hurt reached her eyes. What an actress.“Why?” She frowned.

“You know why.”

“No, I don’t. Please tell me.” She hugged her teddy bear, probably trying to squeeze it to death with the black buttons popping off and the cotton oozing from the insides. Franco had given her that Build-A-Bear a few years ago. How dare she hold on to it. It was probably her trophy. Watching Law and Order: SVU I knew  killers liked their trophies to always remember their murders.

I snatched the bear out of the little brat’s hands and threw it on the floor. Kina leaped up. Her mouth was open and her eyes were wide. I leaned even closer to her. “You killed Franco, you little bitch.”

Kina looked like she was gutted. She began crying.

What a joke? She couldn’t fool me any longer.

I pushed her down, so she would lay down again. “If you tell Mom or Dad about our conversation, I’ll hurt you.”

I left her bedroom and let her “cry” alone.

******

What do you think?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Spotlight: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

This is my 6th post celebrating Women’s Horror Month. I’m an author, but I’m a reader first. Being a fan of the horror genre, I’m always looking for new authors to read. This month I hope to find many talented ones.

Tonight, I went on Amazon and searched ‘horror fiction set in West Virginia.’ I came across Ania Ahlborn who seems to have a nice book selection of horror reads. She caught my eye when I read her author bio and it said: “Ania Ahlborn has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and sometimes morbid sides of life.”  I’ll definitely be checking out Brother. If you want to try the book with me, click on Amazon.

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From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

Sounds interesting, right!

If you read Brother, come back and tell me what you thought of the book. If you’re already a fan of Ania Ahlborn, what’s your favorite book of hers or what do you recommend?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Interview With Amy Cross, Horror Author

For the 5th post celebrating Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Angel Gelique, author of Expulsion and the Hillary series. She’s interviewing a favorite author of mine–Amy Cross! If you read my book reviews on here or Goodreads, then you’ll see I’m also a huge fan of Angel Gelique’s dark writing style. Please enjoy 🙂

Celebrating Amy Cross, an Amazing Woman in Horror
by Angel Gelique

February.  What a great month!  The groundhog tells us whether we can expect more weeks of winter.  There’s the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.  Who can forget Valentine’s Day–time for love and romance?  But for me, February is the best because it’s Women in Horror month.

Recently, I had the good fortune to discover a brilliant horror author, Amy Cross.  If you haven’t heard of Amy Cross or haven’t yet read any of her stories, I strongly advise you to rectify that grievous oversight immediately!  Seriously, if you’re a fan a horror, you’ll thank me once you give her books a try.  Author of an impressive number of books (almost a hundred–WOW!), Ms. Cross has certainly left her mark on the world.

I’m honored that such an incredibly talented author has granted me permission to conduct an interview.  What a treat it’s been learning more about one of my favorite writers!

INTERVIEW WITH AMY CROSS

1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer? What led you to that realization?

When I was very young, my mother used to write stories for me. Just short things, a few pages long, but I suppose that made me realize from an early age that stories weren’t just things that other people wrote in books for me to read. I realized I could try writing them too. It took me a while to really get started, though.

2. Are there any books from your childhood that were instrumental in luring you down the writer’s path?

I really loved the Narnia books when I was younger, and the way C.S. Lewis told entertaining stories while building up those whole incredible imagined worlds. Also, I think I must have read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster at least a hundred times by the time I was fifteen.

3. Which authors have most influenced your writing?

Emily Bronte, definitely. If you read Wuthering Heights, it has romance and adventure and melodrama, and it’s also very experimental. I always come back to Wuthering Heights as an example of a book that refuses to be just one thing or just one style.

4. If you could meet any author (living or dead), which one would you choose and why?

Either Emily Bronte, so I could learn more about the influences behind Wuthering Heights, or Carl Sagan so I could pepper him with questions until he told me to go away.

5. What do you find most challenging about writing horror books?

The hardest part, for me, is avoiding repetition. Sometimes I use certain words a little too often, so I have to banish them for a while, and the same is true of story elements and characters. Occasionally I have to write a list of things that absolutely cannot happen, or appear, in my books for a while. For example, at the moment, no-one is allowed to mutter or hiss, because I think I over-used those words. And houses can no longer have strange bumps in the night, because I had too many of those as well.

6. As a writer of horror, do you ever feel compelled to limit the amount of gore/violence present within your stories?

No. I think each story is different, and some need lots of violence while others benefit from having much less. Sometimes you need blood splattering against walls, and sometimes you need something more subtle. Emotional violence can be just as powerful as taking a hammer to the face.

7. If you were able to meet one of your characters, which one would you choose and why?

Patrick from the Dark Season books, mainly because I think I finished his story a little too soon and I’d like to spend more time with him.

8. Have you ever based a character upon someone you know?

Only Harry in The Dog.

9. Which one of your characters most closely possesses your personality traits and characteristics?

None of them. I don’t really write autobiographical elements in my books, so I can’t think of any characters who are anything like me. Which is a good thing, because I think I’d be a pretty boring character in a book!

10. What fuels that incredible imagination of yours?

I’m not sure it’s really very incredible, but I get most of my ideas while I’m taking the dog for a walk, or while I’m sitting on the train. Long train journeys and long dog walks, without anyone to talk to, can be pretty good for forcing your brain to come up with things, because then you have to kind of talk to your own thoughts and ideas. Reading that answer back, I hope it doesn’t make me sound crazy…

11. What has been your hardest topic/scene to write about?

There were times when I wanted Harry to have an easier time in The Dog, so parts of that book were very tough to write. There are also occasions when I want a character to have a happy ending, but the book demands something nastier, and I always have to go with what fits the book. So I’d have preferred The Printer From Hell, for example, to be less bleak at the end, but I couldn’t think of anything uplifting to put in there.

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12. Have you ever considered writing a screenplay and/or adapting any of your stories for the screen?

I have. I know nothing about screenwriting, so I should probably leave it to the professionals, but I’ve been thinking on and off about writing an adaptation of A House in London, mostly just for my own amusement. I just need to find the time.

13. How long, on average, does it take you to compete a short story? A novel?

I try to write 10,000 words each day, so a novel with 80,000 words would take eight days to get the first version done. Sometimes they’re pretty much finished at that point, but others need a lot more work. At the moment I have three sitting on my laptop in varying stages of completion, and the beginnings of several others. Short stories can be anything from a day to two or three.

14. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

At the moment, I spend most of my spare time walking the dog and trying to learn to cook. Apart from that, it’s good to meet friends from time to time, otherwise writing can tend to be a very quiet life.

15. What are your goals for the future?

In the immediate future, I need to get a few books knocked into shape so they can come out in February. One of them is a complete reboot of the Joanna Mason series I started a few years ago. In the first few books, she was a loudmouth US cop. Now she’s a much quieter, more introspective British private detective. I like the new version much more. Longer term, I don’t really have any plans. I’d like to see one of my books turned into a movie, but I don’t think I’d want to be heavily involved in that process.

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Nope, I’m not yet done praising Ms. Amy Cross….

For those of you who are considering giving this author a try, you’ll be delighted to know that she generously offers her stories for free.  On any given day, you find at least one of her books on Amazon, free of charge.  Of course, once you read them, you’ll be hooked and want to buy more!

😉  Check out her Amazon page to see what’s available today.

For more information on her books and latest releases, visit her website.

You may follow Amy Cross on Goodreads.

Many thanks to Amy Cross, not just for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my interview questions, but also for entertaining me with her awesome stories!

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost…Yeah Right!

This is the fourth post celebrating Women’s In Horror, but it’ll probably be short. You see, I’m frightened right now, my mind is racing, and it’s hard for me to concentrate.  I just want to get on Google and search similar experiences as mine.

Something’s amiss, and I’m sort of freaked…Do you believe in ghosts? I do. Well, tonight I laid down to take a nap. I had literally just turned off the lights and crawled into bed. Right after I pulled the cover over me, my body swayed toward the edge of the bed. I felt a dip, like someone had just sat down. I felt a presence right where my back was turned. Squeezing my eyes shut, I was too afraid to move. The dip sensation on my bed lasted for a minute or two, then my bed was normal again. I opened my eyes and glanced around in the darkness, seeing nothing.

What happened??? Is a ghost trying to get my attention? If so, is it getting bold and won’t stop until I notice it?

For the past two weeks, I’ve been jolting awake in a sweat at exactly 5:44 every morning, like someone has been watching me. I’m really getting scared–and not in a good way. I mean, it’s fun to scare myself but on my own terms, when I’m in control of the situation.

Has this ever happened to you? What do you guys think is going on? I can admit that I’ve been stressed over my recent health issues. Is a deceased love one watching over me?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S. Off to Google now…