Read a Preview of The Seeking

Believe it or not we are only two days away from the release of my YA Horror novel, The Seeking! This is my first full-length horror novel I’ve ever had published and I’m super excited by the early reviews coming in for it.

Read the first two chapters of The Seeking today!

Today you can read the first 2 chapters of The Seeking posted up on the Parliament House website. And even in those first two chapters, things get pretty dark. So make sure you’re in a well lit room before you dive in!

If you like what you read and decide to pre-order your own copy, don’t forget to enter my Pre-Order Giveaway! The deadline is October 26th at 11:59PM EST to email me your submission.

Happy spooky reading!

The Gift of Life [Day 7]

Okay I’ve always wanted to write a story with Hades and Persephone, and this story just kind of demanded to be shared! It certainly isn’t as dark as some of my other flash fiction pieces I’ve written this month, but it does have some creepy moments at times.

This is part of the 31 Days of Art Challenge [#31DaysOfArt2020]. Go check out the tag on Instagram to see all the amazing art being made!

For today I wrote a flash piece titled The Gift of Life. Check it out below!


She shouldn’t have agreed to this. She should have known she wouldn’t be able to deal with all this, despite how much she loved him. It was too much.

“Is something wrong?”

She turned and gave Hades a smile she hoped would ease his worries, but it only made him more concerned.

“The room isn’t to your liking.”

“It’s not that, it’s just…” She turned back to the slabs of stone that looked like a mausoleum rather than a bedroom. The bed was decent enough, but the only light came from the fireplace. She couldn’t even look out over the River of Styx if she felt cramped. Already she felt like the room was too small for the both of them.

“I just thought you needed your own place, a bit of privacy. I know you’ll be staying with me for quite some time, but I didn’t want you to feel unwelcome.”

Persephone swept toward him, her bare feet padding across the cold stone floor. Normally flowers would spring up from her passing, but not down here. Life slept down here, and even though she worried about what would happen to her plants up above, she was determined to give this a shot.

She wrapped her arms around him, feeling his thin frame and angular shoulders. She put a hand behind his neck, urging him to lean down so she could kiss him. His lips felt warm against hers. He pulled back, more relaxed.

“So you don’t like it?”

“I hate it,” she admitted with a laugh. He laughed too. She loved seeing the sparkle in his eyes. She loved coaxing out his mirth and cheerfulness. He was so handsome when he smiled.

She gestured to the room, “Maybe a window would help? I would love to get to grow something.”

Hades gave a knowing smile. “I think I may have just the thing.” He put out his arm and Persephone took it, leaning against him. Hades was her pillar in this place, at least until she felt more at home.

He escorted her through his halls, past the dock where the departed souls arrived and through the chamber for games where several groups of spirits were enjoying games of dice. They moved farther and farther away from his halls until Persephone worried.

“Where are we going, love?”

“You wish to grow things, but we have no sunlight or even moonlight here. However, I thought you might enjoy having a more unique project.”

He led her to a pile of corpses. They weren’t human remains, but animal ones, mostly birds of varying breeds, but also a few pigs.

Persephone put a hand to her lips, “Who did this?”

Hades sighed and crossed his arms. “The humans. Many fear the wrath of the dead so they try to appease them with blood sacrifices.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “The dead have no strength down here, as you know, so I usually ask Charon to help if he’s not too busy ferrying, or I pull Cerberus away for a minute or two to help me burn them.”

She tugged on his elbow, turning his scowl into a smirk. “Do you think I don’t see through your lies? Charon is always busy, day and night. He’s going to need a bigger ferry soon enough. Thank goodness he doesn’t need to sleep or eat. And Cerberus is always busy keeping anyone from entering.

He studiously avoided her gaze.

“You clean this mess up yourself normally, don’t you?”

He sighed and dragged a hand through his black hair. “I can’t lie to you, can I?”

“No, you can’t.”

She let go of him and squatted down to examine the remains. They were fresh. Any sacrifices appeared precisely at the doorstep intended these days. But time didn’t work the same down here. Bacteria didn’t grow, not without help. However, it was the only organic matter she had come across in the Underworld.

“You’re plotting something.”

She gave him a wicked smile, “Always, my dear. That’s why you love me.”

He laughed at that. She got to her feet.

“I’ve worked with dead trees before, growing life out of them. I don’t suppose dead animals would be any different.”

If your powers work down here. They may not.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “Take your criticism elsewhere, love. Let a goddess concentrate.”

He went quiet, but she could tell he was still behind her. His curiosity always got the better of him. There was a reason he had brought her out here. He wanted to see what she could do without the sunlight to rely upon. Well, she had no intention of disappointing her love.

She concentrated on a chicken, on the leg splayed out at its side. She thought about tiny spores living within like young stars ready to burst forth. Only nothing happened. She gave a humph and put her hands on her hips.

“Maybe you need to—”

“Shh!” She put a hand out behind her and Hades went silent as the tomb. She loved him to death, but he really needed to learn when to keep his mouth closed.

She squatted down and used two hands this time, focusing on the chicken’s bloody torso. The cut there was like a wound on a felled tree. It was a weakness and an opportunity.

A small, white mushroom curled up out of the gash. Hades gasped behind her, but this time he kept his tongue. Smart man. The white mushroom unfurled itself up, growing a great white cap that spread out like a wide hat. More white mushrooms sprung up too, followed by some orange, brown, and even a few purple ones. She took a step back and wiped her forehead.

“There! What do you think?”

Hades approached beside her. “They’re beautiful! It’s amazing to see life spring up out of the dead like that. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.”

She was preparing a wisecrack remark, but saw he had tears in his eyes. “Hey now, it’s okay!” She wrapped her arms around him and he shook his head.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get upset.”

She hugged him and pushed his hair out of his face. “Hey, look at me.”

He looked down at her, tears streaking down his pale cheeks.

“Talk to me. What’s wrong?”

He pursed his lips, and she waited until he had collected himself enough to speak. “I am the lord of the dead. I run a complete management of souls and provide a place for them to retire.” He stared down at his hands. “I have power and respect, but I can’t create life like you can. All I see are the runoff remains from the beauty of life. There is no beauty in death.”

“Sure there is! I’m looking at him.”

He gave a small smile. Good, he wasn’t too down into a spiral, not yet anyway.

“You manage all those dead people down there. That’s hardly a minor feat. Charon works for you because he believes in the work you do. The other gods gifted you Cerberus because they knew this was a monumental task.”

“Yes, you’re right, I suppose.” He sighed and wiped at his cheeks.

“I know I am! You are the hardest worker of all the gods and they take for granted the work you do.” She glanced over to the mushrooms, bobbing side to side over the corpses of the sacrificed animals.

“My love, if you enjoy seeing living things down here, then I will grow forests of them for you.”

His eyes went wide. “But that is too much! I couldn’t ask for that.”

“After the thaw, I’ll leave and I won’t return for months. You need something here to remember me by.”

She stroked his cheek, and he pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“I will cherish your creations when you leave.”

She grinned. “You ought to cherish them now. It’s going to take me a while to get better at them.”

Hades laughed. For the time they were together and happy.

As the world above grew cold and plants died away, Persephone filled all the Underworld with her colorful fungi, reveling in the joy it gave her love. Beauty could come from death, it reminded him. But Persephone’s gift of life always brought tears to his eyes.

END


I hope you enjoyed The Gift of Life!

I’ve also got a YA Horror novel coming out at the end of this month called The Seeking that’s been called “a dystopian science fiction masterpiece”. I also have a pre-order giveaway going along with it!

Control [Day 6]

This was a shorter story, but I guess that’s bound to happen when you’re doing 31 flash fiction pieces! The prompt for this was Absorb and it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to tackle with this one because the word can take on so many different meanings. In the end I went with something a little abstract and a little disturbing.

This is part of the 31 Days of Art Challenge [#31DaysOfArt2020]. Go check out the tag on Instagram to see all the amazing art being made!

For today I wrote a flash piece titled Control. Check it out below!


The old-fashioned speaker played the tinny music that she had listened to for hours on end. The brass notes made her teeth rattle, and she broke out in a cold sweat.

“You like this song, don’t you?” The older woman asked with vitriol in her voice.

Trying not to let her nerves show, the young recruit nodded. She didn’t trust her voice.

“Excuse me?” The older woman asked with a flicker of a smile at the corner of her lips. “I’m afraid I didn’t catch that.”

The recruit smiled a grimace and nodded slowly. The muscles in her neck strained.

Thwack!

She winced as the leather struck her knuckles, making her turn in on herself again.

“No, don’t shut me out.” A gloved hand wrapped around her chin as the woman forced her to turn her head. “Open your eyes. Don’t you dare hide from me.”

With a force of will, the recruit opened her eyes, meeting the woman’s bloodshot gaze.

“Do you like the song or don’t you?”

The recruit fought back the sob that threatened to overwhelm her, but she couldn’t stop the tears that slid down her cheeks.

“I hate it,” she admitted. “I hate it so much I can’t stand it.”

The woman’s eyes grew soft, almost pitying. “Good. You must acknowledge your weaknesses if you ever hope to defeat them.”

“How?” She demanded, the sob finally rearing forward. “How can I ever defeat them if I can’t even listen to the damn music without wanting to punch someone?”

“Give it time. With enough practice, you’ll be surprised at what you can do.”

The woman released her and turned away. For just a moment, the recruit could have sworn she saw through the tough façade to a woman also struggling to control her emotions. But then she was once again poised, controlled, and together again. The song had that effect those who had been tortured listening to it repeated for hours on end. Could she have once been a prisoner as well?

She was truly the master, as the others had said, and taking a deep breath, the recruit promised herself that she would learn all she could from the woman. It didn’t matter how long it took, she had to learn and stop them.

“Alright, let’s restart the music and try again. Practice makes perfect.”

END


I hope you enjoyed Control!

I’ve also got a YA Horror novel coming out at the end of this month called The Seeking that’s been called “a dystopian science fiction masterpiece”. I also have a pre-order giveaway going along with it!

The Screamers [Day 5]

I’ve still been writing on my flash fiction challenge, just a bit slower than before. It’s been fun tackling these prompts, and this one in particular turned out pretty intense!

This is part of the 31 Days of Art Challenge [#31DaysOfArt2020]. Go check out the tag on Instagram to see all the amazing art being made!

For today I wrote a flash piece titled The Screamers. Check it out below!


Great metal beams hung over my head, laced through with ivy. The once dark grey steel looked like it was made of clay from the oxidation that turned it into a copper color. This was a very dangerous stretch. The building’s remains could collapse at any point, and even though it was a skeleton of what it once was, that skeleton weighed many tons.

I walked across the pockmarked wooden floors, my feet knew where to step from my thousands of trips outside. Those too could crumble, but I took the risk. I had to.

I reached the end of the building. There was a gaping hole before me where the front of the cathedral used to be. Now it’s open and exposed to the elements. The only sign that they made the front of bricks was the brick archway that used to attach to the rest of the building.

I paused, gathering myself. I listened to my breathing inside the mask and felt my hands shake.

The building was a relatively safe passageway through the infested forest. The flying nemesis didn’t fly well in the contained space there. The old metal beams got in the way. Outside would be a different story. The trees were their hunting ground, and unlike humans who were poisoned by the toxic fumes that permeated the land, they thrived on it.

I gripped the satchel in my hand, mended so many times over the years it was made of five different fabrics now. If I survived and made it back, the bounty could last us for weeks, maybe even months if we were smart. And with the onset of winter only weeks away, we had no room for error.

I flexed my hands, my feet, and my legs, building myself up for the run. Picturing the path I would take, I went through it all again. During the old times the space was a neatly managed garden. The gardeners could never have envisioned the future battleground it would become.

With a last deep breath, I ran. The Screamers took time to attack once they pinpointed prey. I heard stories of people never encountering them during an entire run. Others said they recognized faces and followed schedules. They were smart; I knew that, but they were still animals. I didn’t think it was wise to give them even more power.

Taking long strides, I reached the overgrown garden and cursed. Some animal had dug up many of the carrots already, possibly a family of rabbits. Regardless, I grabbed their leftovers, yanking the scrawny remains out of the ground and tossing them into the sack. Next came the onions. There were more of them, but they were picked over.

I started panicking. If I pushed my luck and tried to go for quantity instead of quality, I’d waste my time, increasing the odds of an attack and we would still starve come winter.

An image of my sister came to me, disappointed and afraid at my meager haul. She and I would both know the truth: if she was too malnourished come winter, either she or her unborn child would perish. I couldn’t let that happen.

I turned and ran farther into the woods, making a decision that could easily cost my life. Everyone back home forbade me going farther than the garden, but they weren’t the ones with a pregnant sister. They weren’t fast enough to be a gatherer either, only I was. And I would not return with a certain death certification just because I was scared.

I nearly cried when I saw the first apple tree, its branches so weighed down with fruit that it nearly tore its own trunk in half.

Working quickly, I grabbed two and three apples at a time and dropped them into my bag. Several of them were eaten on by wild animals, and many of them were infected. I moved to another tree and another, feeling good about myself. Then I spotted a fig tree.

It was enormous, with limbs that were wide and easily climbable. I felt tears in my eyes as I pulled off the figs from the lower branches, dropped them into my nearly full bag.

As I pulled another branch down to get another bundle, I spotted a Screamer. It was hanging from one of the upper limbs, its great black wings wrapped around its giant body. I froze on instinct. I had heart their wings flap on the wind and felt their claws on my back when I was younger. That one had nearly gotten me up to its young before I freed myself and ran for my life.

Hardly anyone had ever seen one and lived to tell about it. My mind went back to all the warnings of why this orchard was forbidden. The Screamers were everywhere here, and I understood why. If an adult felt comfortable roosting on this giant fig tree, then others probably did too.

I backed away slowly, dragging my satchel over my shoulder. As I looked up at the fig tree again, I saw what I had missed before: Screamers covered it. They were asleep in the middle of the day—all ten of them. Were they nocturnal? Did they have a hunting ground? My mind went in a million directions.

One of them unfurled its wings and yawned. The wings stretched at least twice its body length. Its red eyes locked onto me—eyes that I had nightmares about as a child so I could never sleep properly. It opened its mouth and hissed, revealing its tiny pointed teeth as sharp as a razor. Then it screamed.

I turned and ran as fast as I could. My head hurt at the sound. My blood went cold as more cries joined in, so it created a maddening cacophony of sound. A lone Screamer’s shrieks could cause disorientation, but all of their screams together had me stumbling to the ground. My ears hurt, and I thought I might wretch, but I remembered my sister’s face and clawed back up to my feet. It didn’t matter if my head felt detached from my neck like a balloon. I had practiced this. I didn’t have to see to know my way.

Sprinting, I let my feet lead. I couldn’t see well, but I could spot stray foliage to avoid. The Screamers shrieked again, and I fell into a patch of upturned dirt. It smelled like a carrot and I nearly wept. If I was at the carrots, then I was almost home, almost to safety.

The flapping of big leather wings made a shudder roll through me. I hurled myself up to my feet and ran so hard my lungs burned. The flapping drew closer. More wings joined in and they gave a stomach tossing scream in unison. I screamed back at them, the only response I had left in me.

The brick arch, it was the cathedral! If I could just make it in there, I would be safe. It would all be worth it. Sharp claws dug into my shoulder, but I wrenched free of them and lunged for the archway. I landed hard on the rotten wooden floor, then got to my feet and kept running.

Only when I stood beneath the corroded metal beams did I look back. What I saw shook me to the core.

They crawled into the cathedral on the tips of their wings and their legs. They had pink faces with wet snouts and stumpy ears. Their eyes glittered in the shade, a series of smaller eyes creating a whole. One jumped up on the beams overhead and followed from above.

I didn’t look back again until I reached the shelter. I didn’t want to see them any closer than I already had.

When I dropped the satchel at my sister’s feet, I couldn’t say a word. It felt like my mind was a scrambled mess. I couldn’t speak for weeks.

It was a month before the Screamers stopped stalking around the entrance. At least as far as I could tell. Nobody wanted to chance leaving again until spring, and fortunately we had food enough to last us even longer than that.

END


I hope you enjoyed The Screamers!

I’ve also got a YA Horror novel coming out at the end of this month called The Seeking that’s been called “a dystopian science fiction masterpiece”. I also have a pre-order giveaway going along with it!

Chat With Me At Multiverse

Come see me at Multiverse this weekend!

This weekend you can attend a FREE virtual convention that covers everything from writing to fandom love. It’s a three-day con and there are going to be some amazing panels to watch. No need to sign up, just show up. They’ll have information going up soon on how to get on their Discord server so you can chat with folks in real time throughout the convention.

I’m going to be in a panel on Sunday at 1:00PM on Characterization: Crafting a Villain with some absolutely fantastic fellow authors. Panelists will be watching and commenting live on Discord in the #write channel. Come join our discussion on crafting villains!

In addition to the panel, I’ll have one-on-one mentoring opportunities available Sunday afternoon. Have you ever wanted to pick my brain on publishing? Or on writing? Or on whatever writerly problem you want? This is your chance! I’ll have 8 fifteen minute sessions available, Sunday afternoon after the panel. Pick a slot and you can chat with me on Zoom.

Here are all the main links you’ll need:

I’m super excited to get to chat with y’all one on one! There are also a lot of other folks doing mentoring too, including authors and editors. Some people will even be accepting pitches. This is honestly a fantastic free opportunity so make sure you take advantage of it!