Christmas in paradise: Palm Trees & Snowflakes

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The holiday shopping season is officially on. From now till the end of the year, Teaser Thursday will feature holiday-themed books and novellas for your holiday entertainment.

A Hawaiian holiday season teaser

By Scott Bury

When she opened her apartment door, her reflection in the hall mirror shocked her. Her shoulder-length, light brown hair was tangled from the night’s activity and frizzy from Hawaii’s humidity. Her large green eyes were dark with fatigue, with semi-circular shadows under them. Blood smeared the sleeve of her overpriced jogging jacket. The little bump on her nose still frustrated her, as it did every time she looked in a mirror.

Her black-and-white cat wound around her ankles, making “Brrr-rp” sounds. She bent to pat him. “Hello, Tux. Did you miss me?”

Photo by Mel Gardner on Unsplash

Tux purred in answer. She carried him into the kitchen, where she saw her answering machine flashing. After filling Tux’s bowl, she hit the button. Her mother’s attenuated voice came out. “Hello, Honey. I was hoping it wasn’t too early when I called. I can never remember what the time difference is over there.” Vanessa could hear her father in the background, explaining it. Her eyes went to the photo of her parents that hung on her kitchen wall, taken on their thirtieth anniversary. A pang of guilt shot through her. “Oh dear, you’re probably asleep right now. Okay, I’ll just remind you to let us know when you’re arriving so we can pick you up at the airport. You know what the roads can be like at Christmastime. Call us. Love you.”

Vanessa did not have the energy to disappoint her mother by telling her she did not know whether she could come home to Vermont for the holidays. As she kicked off her running shoes, her mobile phone chimed. She looked at the screen and thought I’m even more tired than I thought.

No, her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her. Perry Boyd. I’m coming to Hawaii tomorrow. Wd lv 2 C U.

She hadn’t seen Perry for over two years, hadn’t even spoken to him or exchanged emails. Now he wanted to come all the way to Hawaii from Vermont, just to meet her?

Vanessa always found Alan King’s sad disappointment harder to take than the tough dressing-down her previous commanding officer had preferred. Sitting across his desk from King, she had to think about not fidgeting. She glanced at Alan Terakawa beside her, then focused on King’s receding hairline.

After two hours of sleep, Vanessa had returned to the FBI office dressed according to the Bureau dress code, plus a little added Vanessa Storm flair: grey linen pants, a silk blouse under a stylish cotton jacket that concealed her shoulder-holster yet didn’t get too hot in the tropical climate. Her moderate heels brought her almost to her partner’s height.

Terakawa was dressed, as always, in FBI standard dark suit, white shirt and perfectly knotted tie.

“How did this go so wrong?” King asked, his eyes filled with pain. “A body in the morgue, two people in the hospital with gunshot wounds, one of them a law enforcement officer. I have to make an official statement to the media. Of course, after a detailed report to Washington. So tell me everything you can. First, though …” King focused first on Terakawa until he shifted in his seat. Vanessa saw sweat on his brow. Then the SAIC turned to Vanessa. Time telescoped. Her mouth went dry. “Are you two all right?”

“We’re fine,” Vanessa stressed. “I’m anxious to question the suspect.”

King sat back in his chair. “What do we know about the snowflake case?”

“Not much more than before. We got a tip from an informant that a new shipment was coming in on 9 Pier, but they didn’t know which container. The pills we found were concealed in children’s toys that came from Shanghai via Manila. Which is baffling. Previous shipments of snowflake have come from other ports, including Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur. One came in a container from Seoul. The methods for smuggling are different every time, too. While this shipment was in a child’s toy, others have been in flat-screen TVs, tires, cutlery, you name it.”

“Maybe you can find some answers in Ferreira’s computer,” King said. “Thank you. That’s all for now.”

Alan left, but Vanessa waited for a moment. “There’s one more thing.” She took a deep breath. “I’d like to request some vacation time to visit my parents in Vermont at Christmas.”

Photo by Alasdair Elmes on Unsplash

King’s cheeks puffed out as he sighed. “Normally, I’d say no problem. But we’re up to our elbows with this flood of new drugs, plus we’re short-staffed .”

“I appreciate that, sir. But things slow down during the holidays, even for the FBI. I have more than a week of holidays coming to me. This would be the first year I’ll have been away from my parents for Christmas. I’m an only child—”

King’s tone changed. His posture straightened. “I can appreciate that, Special Agent Storm. But I need you to understand how critical the snowflake case is. It’s the newest designer drug, and it’s sweeping the mainland. There have been six snowflake-related deaths among teenagers in the past two months, and Washington has made it a priority. Our best intelligence shows Honolulu as its first point of entry into U.S. territory. I’m sorry, but we need you here.”

Son of a bitch. “All right. How about this—if I can make a breakthrough and an arrest in the snowflake case by the twenty-third, I can take a week off at Christmas.”

A tiny smile broke King’s command façade. “Okay, Vanessa. If you can make a significant arrest by the twenty-third, you can take time off. Consider it a reward for a job well done.”

Now you’ve done it, Storm.

Palm Trees & Snowflakes

In Honolulu, where the palm trees are strung with lights for the holidays, FBI Special Agents Vanessa Storm and Alan Terakawa have their hands full trying to stop the deadly flow of snowflake, the newest designer drug. Faulty intel brings the agents into a deadly firefight, which yields even more puzzles. Time is running out to stop this lethal flood.

Available exclusively in Kindle e-book format from Amazon.

Scott Bury

It turns out a farmers’ market is not the best place to sell books. Who knew?

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Perfect gifts for the avid readers on your list

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BestSelling Reads is making life easier for you. We have the perfect books for the avid readers on gift list. Take a look at the books these fantastic authors have offered you in just the past year.

Samreen Ahsan

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time: Stolen Series II follows model and actress Myra Farrow as she finds a portal to a dark and dangerous past in the cursed, lifeless Hue Castle—and discovers her unbreakable link to it.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Scott Bury

The Eastern Front Trilogy comprises three best-selling, award-winning books that tell the true story of Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War II.

Read about it on the author’s website.

Get it from Amazon.

M.L. Doyle

The second book in the Desert Goddess series, The Bonding Blade follows Sergeant Hester Trueblood’s struggle find the answers seven years after she’s bonded to the ancient Sumerian goddess of love and war, Inanna. A blend of fantasy, action adventure, mystery, and romance with a biting sense of humor.

Find out more on her website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Barb Drozdowich

The Author’s On-Line Presence: How to Find Readers was updated last month with the latest on social media, blogs and more Award-winning technical trainer Barb Drozdowich helps authors save time and achieve results.

Find out more on her website.

Buy it at your preferred e-tailer.

DelSheree Gladden

Shark in Troubled Waters is the latest in The Date Shark series. Sabine Saint Laurent, the Princess of Paris is always in control, until her life is upended by pregnancy.

Find more on her website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Sydney Landon

The Pierced/Lucian & Lia series continues in Marco. The top hitman of the Moretti Crime Family, he finds himself in a real bind when he falls for the step-daughter of one of his targets.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Alan McDermott

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll is captured when the shadowy Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet, forces her into a high-risk mission. Can Eva finally defeat the ESO, or will this final installment really be her last?

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Toby Neal

Lei Texeira returns with her signature leap first, look later style in this taught thriller where pirates plunder the Hawaiian paradise in a bid to rule the sea: Razor Rocks.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from the e-tailer of your choice.

J.L. Oakley

Award-winning bestseller J.L. Oakley has united her three Hilo Bay mysteries: Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali. Read about Auntie Bee Takahashi and her crime-reporter great niece Tawnie Takahashi as they solve mysteries that can stretch back for decades.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Corinne O’Flynn

Wicked Truth: Cursed Coven: Ivy Winter is a Winter Witch, and it’s important for to marry well so as to preserve her family’s magical line. But she finds herself—and her cat—falling for Anton Stavros, risking everything in her past and her future.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

In Lonely Night to Die, the multi-award-winning bestseller has brought his three noir thrillers, the Quiet Assassin series, into a single volume about the unstoppable, yet expendable assassin, Roland Sand: Lovely Night to Die, Rainy Night to Die and Lonely Night to Die.

Read more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

Raine Thomas

Beautiful Finale is the fourth book in the House of Archer rock’n’roll romance series. Lily Montgomery’s whirlwind romance with the leader of The Void struggles to deal with life in the spotlight, while her assistant just might have her eye on the band’s guitarist.

Find out more from the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

D.G. Torrens

Words are our most powerful tool. Midnight Musings, Book 4 of the Amelia Series, contains 300 thought-provoking quotes born through trial and tribulation, loss, pain, rejection, depression and so many other emotions. D.G. has called on her own life experiences to make sense of the things that go on around all of us.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Buy it from Amazon.

And don’t forget to check out all our authors for the reading for the holiday season and the whole year long!

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Beautiful Finale

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Enjoy this sample from the fourth House of Archer rock’n’roll romance novel

By Raine Thomas

Jada wished the evening would never end. It seemed all too soon that everyone walked out to their cars to head home.

She merely headed to her car.

Home, sweet home, she thought with a sigh as she settled into the driver’s seat. When she was sure the rest of the band had gone and no one else in the parking lot was paying her any attention, she lowered the sun visor and looked at her reflection in the vanity mirror.

“Great job,” she told herself. “You busted your ass for this. You deserve it. Now stick with it and don’t ever fucking give up.”

Once upon a time, she would have felt sorry for herself that she was the only one she could turn to for support and encouragement, especially for such a huge moment. Now she chose to look at the bright side. At least she wouldn’t ever let herself down.

The restaurant closed an hour later. When the night manager turned the lock and spotted her sitting in her car, he frowned and headed over to her. She obligingly rolled down her window.

“Hey, Nico,” she greeted him.

“Hi, J,” he said, stopping a few feet from her car. “Been awhile.”

“Yeah, it has. Listen, I need a favor.”

“J…”

“Please, Nico? I swear it’s just for tonight. I was here celebrating my new job.”

That had the discomfort easing from Nico’s expression. “Is that right?”

“It is. I’ll only be mobile another couple weeks until I get my first paycheck. ‘Til then I just want to make sure I’m somewhere safe to sleep at night. This is a well-lit parking lot and I know you won’t call the cops on me.”

“Well…”

The faint sound of a throat clearing had Nico glancing over the roof of her car. Jada looked out the passenger side window to see who had interrupted. When she saw a camo T-shirt tucked into a pair of khaki cargo pants, her spine stiffened. Xander was too tall for her to see his face but there was no mistaking that spectacular body.

Had he heard their conversation?

“Hey, man,” Xander said to Nico. “You work here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I think I left my phone earlier. Can you help me out?”

“Of course.”

Nico immediately turned and walked back to the restaurant, fishing his keys out of his pocket as he went. Jada forced herself to stay calm. Xander had been standing on the far side of her car and that window hadn’t been open. He probably hadn’t heard anything, she assured herself.

She heard the sound of his heavy boots crunching gravel as he strolled over to her side of the car. It was impossible not to notice how gracefully he moved, like a powerful predator. Her hands gripped the steering wheel for no good reason other than she didn’t know what else to do with them. She swallowed audibly as Xander placed a hand on the roof of her car and leaned over so he was looking in her window. He was so close she could smell the mouth-watering scent of his aftershave.

“Hey there, Jada,” he said casually. “Or should I call you J?”

Fuck. He’d heard everything.

Beautiful Finale

A rock band. A reality show. A marriage on the rocks.

In the span of four months, Lily Montgomery has gone from touring with her best friend to marrying him. It feels like someone has stomped on the gas pedal that is her life. Right now she is more than ready to pump the brakes.

But that’s not how it works in the world of show business. Her new husband is off filming and recording more often than he is at home. He sees more of his beautiful co-star than his own wife. Lily is finding it harder and harder to distinguish between performing and reality, adding more stress to a marriage that the tabloids already wager won’t last the year.

Thank God for Jada Morgan.

Lily’s new assistant quickly becomes indispensable, covering The Void’s social media while Lily pursues her own writing. When Lily learns that Jada is temporarily rooming with Void guitarist, Xander Phillips, she isn’t concerned. Xander has hard-and-fast rules when it comes to relationships with women. The only way he’ll break Jada’s heart is if he breaks all of his rules.

Even with Jada’s support, Lily struggles to adjust to her new life. From her own personal stalker and ongoing family drama to the constant bombardment from the media, she’s quickly reaching her breaking point. She’s about to learn if marrying a rock star will result in a beautiful finale…or in absolute disaster.

Where you can get it:

Raine Thomas

Raine Thomas, new adult, young adult and romance

is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

Raine is a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know more about Raine on

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Thursday teaser: What Had to be Done

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The new young adult novel by USA bestselling author

DelSheree Gladden

I lose my train of thought when my pool cue is suddenly yanked out of my hand. I whip around to find a tall, not-at-all-lanky frame and set of blue eyes staring down at me. The combative set of his jaw is surprising and a little upsetting. Suddenly, I remember Carlos’s warning.

Tamping down my fear, I hop down from the pool table where I’d been sitting. I land a scant few inches away from him. He dwarfs me by about six inches, but that doesn’t stop me from glaring at him.

“I wasn’t finished with that.”

“Sure looked like you were.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I say, almost choking on the words. “Take you for instance…tall and built as you are, I would have pegged you for someone willing to look out for a girl new to town, not one who goes around snatching pool cues out of their hands and making them want to slap you.”

“What does you being new to town have to do with anything?”

I snatch the pool cue out of his hand and stamp it down on the ground. Thankfully, he is still focused on my eyes and not on my shaking hand. I do not want to start off my tenure here in Santa Fe as the class weenie. “Generally, new arrivals like me come to a party to make friends, not a hit list.”

“Maybe I’m not interested in friends.”

“I doubt that,” I say.

“Why?”

“Because you wouldn’t have come over here and barged in if you didn’t want to know who I was.”

In a flash, his pushy demeanor disappears. A grin replaces his scowl. “Wrong again. I already know who you are, Anna Elizondo.”

“Then why did you come over here, Dave?”

He laughs at the fact that I know who he is as well. He must realize Carlos warned me about him. The merriment in his expression folds quickly. “I came over here because I’ve heard some not so nice things about you, but you look too sweet and innocent for them to be true.”

Surely Carlos wouldn’t say horrible things about me to his friends. Is that why he disappeared so quickly?

“Who told you about me?”

“You don’t know?” Dave asks. “Didn’t Carlos tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

Photo by Santiago Steinkamp on Unsplash

He doesn’t answer. What he does is turn around and call out to someone. When he turns back, all of my false bravado falls away when I see who’s coming toward me. In three years, he’s grown nearly a foot. I can see the same honey-colored eyes I looked into almost every day for years, but never before have I seen such brazen anger in them.

“Felix,” Dave drawls, “look who’s here. It’s your favorite person. Say hi to Anna.”

In front of Dave, I stood my ground. In the face of Felix’s frozen glare, I wilt like flowers in July. My hand shakes to the point that the pool cue I’m holding clatters to the ground. I can’t stop staring at him. The same lips I wanted to kiss a thousand times curl up in a sneer. His hands held mine so many times, the touch always strong but gentle. Now, both of his hands are balled up at his sides.

I haven’t cried since my mom died, but I feel a tear slip down my cheek.

“Felix.”

The single word slips out unbidden. He flinches as if my voice were acid.

“What are you doing here?” he demands.

“I…I live here,” I say weakly. “What are you doing here?”

He half turns. For a moment I think he’s going to walk away from me like I did him three years ago. He almost does. Before his face vanishes completely, he snaps back around. “I spend summers with Carlos’s family. He’s a real friend, unlike other people.”

After his attack, he waves me off and walks away. Dave, who called Felix over in the first place, looks stunned by Felix’s reaction. He watches his friend storm off with a frown.

“Well,” Dave says, “I guess Carlos didn’t tell Felix you’d be here, either.” He walks away after him.

I’m too shocked to move. Lacey comes around the pool table to stand next to me.

“I’m gonna make a wild guess and say Felix is the friend you crushed.”

I swipe at my eyes to brush away the evidence of my betrayal. What I did to Felix…crushed is putting it mildly.

What Had to be Done

Everyone has bad days. Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days.

It started with her mother’s illness and eventual death, continued with a decision that ruined a friendship, and culminated in her father announcing they were broke and moving away right before her senior year of high school.

Maybe a fresh start will turn things around. Or maybe it will put her face to face with her former best friend, Felix, and the hatred in he still carries for her.

The only bright spot in Anna’s move to Santa Fe is meeting her new swim coach, a long-time hero who has big plans for her athletic career. The pool is her refuge, but she can’t hide there forever. Living in a small town makes it impossible to stay out of Felix’s way, and unlikely their history will remain just between them for long. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

Get it from:

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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Haunted day, haunted reading

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Spooky lines for Hallowe’en

In the spirit of the day—or night—of All Hallow’s Eve, the day when the veil between this world and the … other one … thins, your favorite BestSelling authors offer some haunted and haunting passages from their books.

From Lonely Night to Die

By Caleb Pirtle III

Sand took a deep breath and looked down at the corpse lying inside the pine box coffin.

A choir in the balcony sang Softly and Tenderly softly and tenderly.

No one was crying.

Maybe no one was there.

He recognized the deceased immediately.

Sand was staring down at his own face.

The corpse winked.

From The Devil of Light

By Gae-Lynn Woods

He’d first killed for the old man in the autumn. Fresh from prison, he was toying with but unable to fully grasp the idea of living a clean life. He honored no particular religion, but somehow knew that God had created each man for a purpose. And try as he might, he couldn’t find a purpose for which he was better suited than killing.

Hitch climbed behind the wheel and with a low growl from the engine, slowly reversed the pickup beneath the motionless form suspended between heaven and earth, catching the young body just at the shoulders. When he glanced in the rearview mirror at the dead man’s legs, bound together and pointing toward the stars, his soul sang with satisfaction. Death was his purpose, and no one was better at it than him.

From Return of the Ascendant

By Raine Thomas

Swallowing her rising fear, Kyra almost broke into a run as she reached the last twenty feet of darkness. Her eyes didn’t move from the gloomy bushes. Every instinct in her told her to run.

Just as she neared the halo of light cast by the closest lamppost, it went out. She staggered to a halt.

That was when the darkness moved.

From The Ghost Host

By DelSheree Gladden

I shut myself down to outside influences as best I can, but the ghost’s creeping, freaky cold inches its way under my skin, through my body and into my mind, and there’s nothing I can do to stop from lifting my finger to the wall of the frost-covered stall.

From Things That Are Just True (Dead Night anthology)

By Corinne O’Flynn

And that’s when I saw it.

The darkness slithered right up out of the grave. It spread across the too-green sheet of fake grass covering the dirt pile they would later dump on top of Grandpa’s coffin and tamp down flat. Eventually real grass would grow over it, leaving the world to think that Grandpa had always lived right there in his hole.

The darkness pooled like a smoky black cloud for a moment near the base of the dirt pile and then it moved in my direction. I remember holding my breath as it slinked across the top of the tidy neighboring graves, snaked unseen through the legs of the mourners, and covered a patch of dandelions as it coiled up over the tips of my newly shined shoes. One of my laces had come undone, and as my feet turned icy I worried if my untied laces had acted like an invitation, an open door to let the darkness get inside.

From Motive

The upcoming book by Alan McDermott

Scott was breathing heavily, like he’d run a marathon in record time.  He tried to push himself out of the seat, but he couldn’t move.  He looked down and saw that his hands were gripping the arms of the chair, and the more he tried to push up, the tighter he held on.  Scott attempted to stand, but his legs wouldn’t obey his command.

Still they came closer.

Scott was in a panic, thrashing as much as he could but making no progress.  It was as if his limbs were strapped to the chair by some unseen, unbreakable force.

From The Bonding Blade

By M.L. Doyle

I inhaled the fresh scent of sage coming from Quincy’s ritual altar. Rashid shook the sage bundle to blow out the flames, then blew on the embers until they glowed red. His lips moved as he silently mumbled an incantation and waved the bundle over his head, walking around the sofa where Quincy lay. He circled the sofa several times, then lay the still smoldering sage in a silver bowl on the altar.  

From Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

By Samreen Ahsan

I placed my forehead on the mirror, hoping to see her beautiful eyes.

I didn’t see her. The beast was mounting in its own abhorrent self, staring back at me.

My heart started ramming in my ears again. I couldn’t hold on anymore, so I screamed. “Who the hell are you?” I yelled, grabbing the frame viciously, hoping she was still there waiting for me.

Within a few heartbeats, the beast turned into a beautiful woman who was again sending me her warmth through her angelic eyes.

“You came back. Thank you.” I could see the desire burning in her eyes—her gaze pulling me toward her. Falling for her was inevitable.

My breath faltered. She was able to touch me deeply again…without even touching me.

From The Bones of the Earth

By Scott Bury

It was hard to make out at first what he saw in the moonlight, but when his foot struck something that rolled, understanding hit him like a cold wave. It was a severed head; the Avar helmet rolled off it and continued a short distance before it fell over in the grass.

Javor was surrounded by the dismembered bodies of the whole troop. Ten heavily armoured men had been literally torn apart—maybe more. They may have had friends. Everywhere he looked there were legs, arms, torso, heads.

From The Dark

By David C. Cassidy

Something had invaded his flesh. His skin was raw, burned away. Shredded strips dangled limply along his neck. He picked them off, and what he saw next horrified more than the wounds themselves.

Scores of small punctures marked his throat. They ran red, but for how long they’d bleed that color he couldn’t know. If he was pissing green, he might start bleeding the same.

He leaned close to the mirror.

Things—things—were moving under his skin. Crawling.

Feel a tingle down your spine? Check out the books by clicking on the titles.

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Horror Family Style

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Hallowe’en musings

By M.L. Doyle

My siblings and I have always enjoyed having the bejesus scared out of us.

Our mother sometimes worked a swing shift. Our dad worked odd hours so we never really knew when or if he’d be home. By the time my older sister was about 12, my middle sister, my brother who was the youngest, and myself – all of us about two years apart from the next one — were pretty much on our own after school, living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, casseroles warmed in the oven (there weren’t any microwaves back then), or stovetop cooked cans of tomato soup.

Growing up in Minnesota, there are many days when it’s just too dang cold to go outside. While alone in the house, our most favorite thing to do was to watch scary movies. Of course this is before VCRs, or DVRs or even cable. We had five measly channels to choose from, but somehow, we were able to find movies that scratched that horror itch. On Sundays, when the weekly listings came out, we would go on a search making note of any movies that might make us scream in terror and then plan all activities around it.

Dracula, The Werewolf, The Blob, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Monster from the Surf, Godzilla, The Creature From the Black Lagoon. We’d sit side by side on the sofa, a shared blanket clutched to our chins, looking forward to the thing that would make us jump and scream.

As we grew older, the fright somehow changed to hilarity. By the time The War of the Gargantuas,  came out, we were ready to laugh, and laugh hard. The story is about two Godzilla-sized creatures, hairy and monstrous looking, who rise from the sea, one good and one evil. At one point in the film, a woman is in a rooftop lounge singing a song that includes the line, “… the wooooords get stuck in my throat.” She repeats the line over and over. “The wooooords get stuck in my throat.”

Then one of the Gargantuas picks her up, eat her and spit out her clothes. To this day, all we have to do is sing that line and we all crack up.  

As we grew older, our tastes developed and the reruns of The Mummy, or the Three Stooges or Charlie Chan versions of those films didn’t interest us anymore. We wanted the truly scary films, like The Thing. That Artic mission, the discovery of the space ship under the ice, the isolation, the killer vegetable and the dry wit and snappy dialogue, had all the makings of a classic. The remakes have never lived up to the original black and white.

Another favorite starts with a little blond girl, obviously in shock and standing alone in the debris of her destroyed home, clutching a stuffed animal. Someone asks her what happened. All she can do is scream THEM! Those giant ants were no joke. 

Alfred Hitchcock rocked our world. The Birds, Rear Window, even his TV show became a favorite. My brother had to work hard to convince me to watch Halloween. I don’t know why I ever hesitated. Then I started reading Stephen King –Carrie, Cujo, It—I couldn’t put them down. Since we’d always had dogs and cats for pets, Pet Sematery was particularly horrifying for me.

One Saturday morning, I got up early to find my older sister sitting at the kitchen table, her eyes bloodshot, her hands clenched in front of her. She looked like she hadn’t slept all night. I asked her what was wrong. She said she’d been to a movie the night before with some friends. “The Exorcist,” she said, then refused to say more. She’d seen it the first night it was released. I think she’s still scared from it.

We’ve never really grown out of our love of fear. Several years ago, I went home to Minneapolis just so I could go with my siblings and a few friends to a place called Scream Town. The massive, outdoor park had five different themed areas, darkened and filled with things and people that jumped out at you. We were, by far, the most senior people at the theme park, all of us in our late 50s and early 60s. We didn’t care. It may be our age that made so much of it hilarious.

From Scream Town, Minnesota

In one room, you had to walk through a space with what looked like bodies wrapped in plastic, hanging from the ceiling. They were so numerous, you had to bump and bang your way through this horror, the “bodies” swinging sickeningly. We clutched each other, heads ducked, stumbling around in the dark, and laughing our asses off, screaming too.

In another place, you rounded a corner to come face to face with a man in a glass-encased electric chair. The red light in the small booth where he sat cast a horrific, shadowy glow over him. The rubbery, trembling and smoking dummy, wrapped in a straightjacket, its mouth gapping open with chilling screams piped out of the box, was so life-like he was fascinating.

We made our brother go first, hanging onto his jacket while we made our way through the corn maze, then stood fascinated at the sight of a cow suspended in air as if it was being sucked up by a UFO. Scream Town does not skimp on the props or makeup.

Now, every year when Halloween rolls around, I think about Scream Town and think about my family and consider flying home for the holiday where we have every excuse to act ridiculous, scream at the top of our lungs and laugh until our bellies hurt.

M.L. Doyle, military mystery, erotica and urban fantasy

M.L. Doyle

calls on her years of serving as an Army Reservist to write about women in combat boots. She co-authored the memoirs of two brave soldiers to ensure their stories keep their proper place in history. Her work with Spec. (Ret) Shoshana Johnson, an African-American POW of the Iraq War, was finalist in the NAACP Image Award. She also co-authored with Brig. Gen (Ret.) Julia Cleckley the story of her rise through Army ranks from humble beginnings and despite great personal tragedy.

Mary has written the three-book Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, and Limited Partnerships, a four-novella erotic romance series. Her latest release, The Bonding Blade, is the second book in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series.

Mary’s essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The War Horse, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Goodman project and O-Dark Thirty.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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