Friday Fears: Two-Sentence Horror #8

It’s been a while since I posted any Friday Fears. But we’re moving towards Hallowe’en so it’s time to bring it back.

I seem to have zombies on my mind at the moment, going by what I came up with this week.


I thought it was odd that I saw no one as I walked to the bus stop. Then I spotted the first of the zombies shuffling down the street, their chilling moans breaking the silence.

I woke up this morning to discover the world ended last night, and I am the only human being left alive. There are a lot of things out there, though, that are not alive, and not human.


If you’d like to try your hand at your own two-sentence horror stories, send me your contribution or post it in the comments, and I will feature it next time.

Happy Friday!

Monday’s Friend: Karina Fabian

Today I am pleased to welcome author Karina Fabian to the blog, as part of her month-long blog tour. Karina writes about zombie exterminator Neeta Lyff, who has been described as being to zombies what Buffy is to vampires. Well, I’ll let her tell you all about it. Welcome to Imaginary Friends, Karina!

Slider-ilmbiSF-audio-tour (2)

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

KF: I was standing before a mountain lake. It was early, and a light fog drifted across the water. I couldn’t stop gazing at it. I was filled with inexplicable anticipation.

Then a woman’s hand rose from the water, bearing a keyboard, and a voice said, “By this tool, you shall entertain the masses.”

Actually, it sounded more like, “Blub, burble, burble,” because her head was underwater…

I don’t think I’ve ever felt “destined” to be a writer. I love writing, and I love telling stories. I have since I was a child. It tickles me to no end that people enjoy reading them.

NeetaLyffe_ZombieExterminator_300dpi_eBook - CopySJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

KF: As far as authors: Madeleine L’Engle, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Mercedes Lackey…in varying degrees and depending on the book I’m writing. As far as living people: my editors and my readers, plus the cast of Whose Line is It, Anyway? because they make me want to write funny. For the Neeta Lyffe books, all the people on Facebook who meme; people who are publically stupid enough to end up in the news (including politicians), my brother-in-law for the idea for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, and the writers of Total Drama Island.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

KF: Advice I’d give a new writer: Get in the chair and write the book. While you’re at it, figure out your target audience and learn to market to them.

I got plenty of advice as a new writer. I wish I’d had a mentor, though.

SJT: Your Neeta Lyffe series is described as ‘zombie satire.’ Tell us a more about it.

KF: It’s the 2040s, and the Zombie Apocalypse turned out to be the Zombie Not-pocalypse. Spine severing and public safety campaigns have reduced zombies from pestilence to pest, and a new breed of exterminator has risen to handle the problem. Neeta Lyffe is one such exterminator. She’ll spray for ants and behead that shambling corpse in your backyard – all part of the job.

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: The Zombie “Apocalypse” Meets Reality TV!
I Left My Brains in San Francisco: The Zombie “Apocalypse” Meets Radical Environmentalism!
(Coming Soon) Shambling in a Winter Wonderland: Zombies on Skis!

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MEDSJT: So. Zombies. Why do you think they have such long-lasting appeal?

KF: They certainly keep going past their shelf life.

SJT: What would be your personal weapon of choice during the Zombocalypse?

KF: Common sense, which seems to be lacking in most zombocalypses I’ve seen.

SJT: When you’re not fighting zombies (in your writing, of course), what else do you like to do to pass the time?

KF: Write about dragons or psychics or spaceships. Clean house. Play D&D. Hang out with my kids. Drive my Miata. Write some more.


Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

Learn more about the book from Damnation Books, Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and at Zombie Death Extreme.

karinachainsaw2AUTHOR BIO

Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. Learn more about her by visiting her website.


Monthly Round-Up: September 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This blog has been a tad neglected of late. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on. On the contrary – things have been extremely busy, and thus I have a lot of news to report as we move out of September.


I am pleased to announce that FEMME FATALE, an anthology of horror stories by women, is now available in print and on the Kindle. All profits from this book are going to a charity that supports victims of domestic violence, so if you buy a copy, your hard-earned cash is going to a good cause. And of course you get to enjoy an outstanding collection of stories. My story ‘The Haunted Dolls’ House’ features.

And of course THE WHISPERING DEATH is also available to buy now. I also want to add a reminder that another anthology featuring one of my stories, FORMER HEROES, has also been released recently.


I had a blog swap earlier this week with fellow Muse author Susan Royal. She appeared on my blog talking about tim travel, and I appeared on hers talking about why I wear many hats.

There are a great deal of events going on in real space in the forthcoming month, and I shall be kept very busy. For starters I am attending two conventions in October. The first is Bristol Horror Con on the 17th, where I am appearing on a panel at 11am about the use and abuse of horror in literature through the ages.

The following weekend I’m off to FantasyCon in Nottingham, which runs from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 October. On the Friday at 5pm I’m on a panel about the use of fear in horror – an appropriate topic, since I did my dissertation on this very subject when studying for my English degree. The launch for THE WHISPERING DEATH will be happening at FantasyCon on the Saturday, at 8pm. That day also happens to be my birthday. If you’re at FantasyCon please come to the launch; that will be enough of a birthday gift.

WD launch poster (477x640)And, speaking of launches, this is of course the second launch for THE WHISPERING DEATH. The first will be held at The Brook independent arts centre and bar in Wallington, Surrey at 7pm on Wednesday 14 October. This launch is for everyone who isn’t going to be at FantasyCon, and if you’re in the London/South East area and can attend, do please drop me a line. I am attaching a copy of the official invite. There will be free bubbly, if that makes a difference…


And amongst all this, I’m still hard at work on two WIPs. The third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, stands at nearly 40,000 words and I am aiming to get this finished by the end of this year.

The second WIP is a horror novel about urban explorers, as yet untitled. Thus far only 2,000 words of it exist. I’m aiming to get this one finished by Summer 2016, though.

So, I have a lot of work to do. I may be neglecting the blog a bit longer as I race my way through my busy October. But if you’re going to be at the Cons at either Bristol or Nottingham, do say hello!

Monday’s Friend: Susan A Royal

Fellow Muse author Susan A Royal and I are having a reciprocal blog swap today – she’s on my blog talking about the endlessly fascinating topic of time travel, and I’m on hers talking about the many hats that I wear, in and out of my writing life.

Welcome, Susan! Good to have you back.

Not long ago (2)Time Travel
By Susan A Royal

The idea of being able to travel through time has always fascinated me. In a way I guess you could say I am a time traveller. Every book I read transports me into another world. Some of them actually exist and some are only fantasy, but that doesn’t matter.

When I’m immersed in a good story, it becomes as real as anything around me. I can cross the sands of ancient Egypt, attend a jousting tournament in England in the Middle Ages, take in the countryside in 17th century Scotland (get a load of those kilts!!), see what it’s like to live during World War II, live in the south during the Civil War era or ride a stagecoach across the American west. I can travel to another world and see dragons, trolls, dwarves, fairies and other beasts or other dimensions where magic is real. I can visit alternate realities and see what my life might be like if history had been different.

One of my favorite time travel stories of all times is OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Claire Randall is a 20th century woman sent back through time to 17th century Scotland. She must learn to cope in a world far different from her own. Ultimately she chooses it over her own time, because of the man she loves and cannot forget. After wishing someone would make a movie of it for years, the series finally debuted on STARZ, and I dearly love the words that flash across the screen on the trailer: What if your future…was the past.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to talk to someone like Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain in the flesh? Get up close and personal with them. Find out what they were really like. To have the chance to meet them or even listen to them speak, instead of seeing them through someone else’s eyes. Form your own opinions.

FromNowOn_200x300 (2)Or what if you could go back and see your parents or grandparents when they were your age. Look at them from a totally different viewpoint. What would they be like? Would you find things in common with them?  What if you had the chance to visit a younger you? A you that hasn’t made the mistakes or learned the lessons you’ve learned. Would you try to change your past?

You have to admit the idea is intriguing. How would you cope? Could you live without electronics or indoor plumbing? What would society be like? It’s fascinating to think of what it would be like. And who knows?  You might decide you actually prefer it to living in the present.  It’s a thought…


Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town. She shares it with a ghost who likes to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.

She is married and the mother of six (she counts her children’s spouses as her own) and five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. Her father told her about growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and she experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.

inmyownshadow200x300[1] (2)When Susan isn’t writing, she works as a secretary in education and does her best to keep up with her grandchildren. Music and painting are two of her passions. She is a firm believer in getting what you want without breaking the bank. She loves to bargain shop anywhere there’s a sale and began repurposing long before it was popular. She paints, crafts and sews. Her office/craft/sewing room is littered with her latest projects.

Susan loves to take her readers through all kinds of adventures with liberal doses of romance. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On. They are time travel adventures with romance about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N. You can also find Odin’s Spear, one of her short stories featured in a Quests, Curses, and Vengeance anthology, Martinus Publishing, available on Amazon.

Want to know more? Visit or for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.

Susan Royal photoSusan’s Books

Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)
(Due out in Fall, 2015)

In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago book trailer (

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

Monday’s Friend: Mark Pryor

Today crime writer Mark Pryor is chatting to me about his writing. Welcome, Mark!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

MP: I think it’s always something I wanted to be, but I never really thought it was a realistic or achievable goal. Even as a kid I wrote (terrible!) short stories and my mum told me recently there’s a drawer somewhere full of them. Which is sort of a horrifying thought!

About ten years ago, though, I decided to really give it a try. I told myself that yes, I might fail and never get published, but the real failure would be not trying. So I wrote three (terrible?!) novels that never went anywhere, and then The Bookseller, which got interest from agents pretty immediately. Since that time, I haven’t dared to look back!

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

MP: I admire so many writers but I would have to say that the ones I read as a kid and teenager really shaped the stories I put together. People like Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle for their brilliant plotting, they would be my earliest influences. More recently I feel like I’ve learned from writers like Alan Furst and Philip Kerr, who manage to infuse their stories with such atmosphere, such a strong sense of place. I really admire that ability and try to emulate it in my own writing.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

MP: I usually tell beginner writers two things: first, learn the craft. My first three novels didn’t get published because they weren’t good enough. I didn’t know about point-of-view, I used the passive tense, my characters were shallow and poorly-drawn. Maybe it’s time and practice that teaches, maybe it’s classes, or maybe it’s just reading a lot, but learning the craft is essential to success.

Once you have a handle on that, the only thing I can say is: don’t give up. I must have received three or four hundred rejections over the years, from agents and publishers. Sometimes my wife would look at me like I was mad for subjecting myself to all those “no thank-yous”. But I kept going, plugging away, writing and querying, and finally something clicked. Six books later I still look back and thank the lucky stars that I didn’t give up.

SJT: Tell us about your new book, HOLLOW MAN, and where we can buy it.

MP: You should be able to buy it everywhere, all bookstores and online. If not let me know and I’ll fix that lickity-split!

Hollow Man is a stand-alone, a departure from my Hugo Marston series. It’s a book that rattled around inside my head in various forms for several years before taking shape, and it’s certainly a lot darker than my series. It’s the story of a man who presents himself as a normal, functioning member of society when in reality he’s essentially mimicking those around him, copying them and learning how to express emotions by watching them. He’s aware of his emotional failing, though, and that’s why he tries to hide it—to protect his life, his lifestyle. But…

SJT: Your main character is a psychopath. How did you go about getting inside the head of this character, and making him someone that the reader would empathise with?

MP: I did a lot of research. I’m the kind of person who gets teary-eyed at commercials featuring puppies, or those videos of soldiers returning home and surprising their kids… so the idea of someone have no empathy is fascinating to me. I have a friend at work who’s a psychiatrist and an expert on psychopaths, so I bounced ideas off him a lot. And I did a lot a lot of reading, too.

I think (hope!) I made him sympathetic in the sense that he never set out to harm anyone. Quite the opposite, he just wants to live his life as normally as possible, knowing full well that if he’s identified as a psychopath by his peers he’d likely lose his job and his career as a musician. In other words, this isn’t a story about a bad man doing bad things, it’s more a story about a man with the capacity for evil trying to resist those urges, and how he reacts when the choices he makes take him off that path of decency and goodness.

SJT: Like your character, you’re an Englishman living in Texas. What are the main differences you notice between the two places?

MP: Apart from the weather, you mean?!

SJT: That goes without saying!

MP: There’s a lot to love about Texas but I think one of the major things (and I’ve found this to be true of America generally) is the can-do attitude. You’re allowed to be anything you want, and when you strike off in a new direction people are there to cheer you on. I can’t tell you how much support I’ve had when, first, switching my career from journalist to lawyer, and then on becoming a published author. I think this is the attitude that separates this country from almost everywhere else, and I really admire and appreciate it.

SJT: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

MP: Can I plead the Fifth? Okay, I’ll relent… I’ve swapped emails with an actual sociopath, which may not seem like much but having done a lot of research I have to admit to feeling odd when seeing her name in my in-box. Also, I set one scene in The Button Man at a bdsm party, and I’ll point out that I rarely describe things I’ve not researched in person. What else? I can assure you that a review of my internet search history would raise a few eyebrows, from the above-mentioned to various types of poisons, and some explosives-related searching.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

MP: My greatest pleasure is my family, hanging out with them. Even when I’m writing, I try to do that—my eldest daughter often accompanies me to the library to read while I write. I’m also a huge soccer fan. I play on two teams and two of my kids play, so watching them gives me a lot of joy. I don’t have a lot of down time, or even time for reading, but I have no complaints about such a full life, I’m really very lucky indeed.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

MP: I’m currently working on the sixth book in the Hugo Marston series, and I think my agent is negotiating further books in the series. I’ll focus on those for a bit but I do have a couple of idea for stand-alones that are slowly forming. I hope to find time to work those out, specifically one about a father and son who have to escape some bad guys chasing them across west Texas. I have a title for that book, but the story itself isn’t settled in my mind. Yet. :)


Mark Pryor is a former newspaper reporter from England, and now a prosecutor with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, in Austin, Texas.

He is the author of the stand-alone psychological thriller, HOLLOW MAN, released on September 1 of this year by Seventh Street Books. He is also the author of five novels in the Hugo Marston series, which are set in Paris, London, and Barcelona. The first, called THE BOOKSELLER, was a Library Journal Debut of the Month, and called “unputdownable” by The fifth was published in June of 2015, and the series was recently featured in the New York Times.

Mark is also the creator of the nationally-recognized true-crime blog ‘D.A. Confidential,’ and has appeared on CBS News’s 48 Hours and Discovery Channel’s Discovery ID: Cold Blood.

Amazon Link
Barnes & Noble Link

Monday’s Friend: Christopher Mannino

 The Scythe Wielder's SecretI am pleased to welcome back Christopher Mannino as this week’s blog guest, who has something a bit different for us today. As part of the promotion of the next book in his Scythe Wielder’s Secret series, he is interviewing one of his characters.

But first, some information about the series.


Susan Sarnio made a choice, and will spend the rest of her life as the only female Death.  Last year she was bullied and ostracized. Now, to her complete bewilderment, four Deaths vie for her affection. Yet, something is terribly wrong at the College of Deaths. When a ship carrying scythe metal is attacked, many blame the newly-freed Elementals, but Susan knows the Elementals are innocent.

Shadows from the distant past come to light. Dragons circle the horizon, blood spills, and nothing is what it seems. Susan and her friends struggle to stop a war. They search for the fabled FirstScythe, hoping to sway the balance, but who is the true enemy?

Sword of Deaths

SWORD OF DEATHS, the second novel in the critically acclaimed YA Fantasy trilogy “The Scythe Wielder’s Secret,” is now available from MuseItUp Publishing in both ebook and paperback formats. In SWORD OF DEATHS, Mannino delves deeper into the world and characters introduced in the first novel. The novel is told from three rotating points-of-view, and for the first time, the conflict with Dragons is fully realized. The style becomes darker, and for more epic, as the series moves towards a momentous climax in the final book DAUGHTER OF DEATHS.


Sword of Deaths

In School of Deaths, we first meet the ‘Mentals, or Elementals, one of the three races in the World of Deaths. Suzie’s appearance at the College of Deaths coincides with extremely high tensions between the Deaths and the ‘Mentals. In the second novel, a new ‘Mental, named Michi, is introduced. Michi is also a girl, which changes the dynamics at the all-male College. Michi sat down with Chris to discuss her role in the upcoming novel.

CM: You were involved in the revolt at the College, weren’t you?

MICHI: Yes, I was present at the beginning, but became trapped. For months, I took the form of a fly, eating the droppings I found in the Armory.

CM: How could you become a fly?

MICHI: I am an arthromorph. I have a special.. bond.. if you will, to the insect world. If I need to become an insect for a time, I can. I also use insects in other ways if I need to, but I don’t like doing so unless I have to.

CM: Why don’t you like using insects. They’re just bugs.

MICHI: They’re more than that. I sense what they sense, I feel close to them. To use an insect often costs part of their essence, and it’s not fair to them to use that.

CM: I’ve heard a rumor that you and Frank used to be in a relationship. Is it true?

MICHI: No comment.

CM: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your role in the upcoming book?

MICHI: Sword of Deaths really does a better job of spotlighting the ‘Mentals, who are of course the most important race in the World of Deaths. I felt like we were given a minor role in the first book, and I didn’t like that. However, things aren’t going that well for us, as I’m sure you’ll see.

(Praise for SCHOOL OF DEATHS: The Scythe Wielder’s Secret Book One)

“Not just a book for young adults, but an imaginative read for everyone who likes something a little bit different. 5 Stars!”
– Reader’s Favorite

“With a well-developed setting, strong characters, a fairly fast moving plot, and snappy dialogue, this novel should keep readers engaged from the beginning to the end. Five Stars.”
– BookBreezeMagazine

“Let’s start with one simple statement: Wow!  This book, the characters and the world created by Mannino is absolutely spectacular.”
-Kay, GoodReads Review

“This book’s world is brilliant, and the author’s creativity is more than amazing and the way he conveyed his imagination was just stunning.”


withscytheedited (2)Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet.  He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups.  He spends his summers writing and singing.  Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University.  His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

Mannino is currently completing The Scythe Wielder’s Secret series and is working on several adult novels.

Learn more about Mannino and his novels, including trailers and purchase links at 

Monthly Round-Up: August 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Where does the time go? We’re at the end of August already.

Summer is nearly over and meteorologically it certainly feels that way. Lots of rain here in London and it’s feeling distinctly chilly. I actually put the heating on today.

Anyway, enough about the weather. On with the news.


I’m very excited to announce that THE WHISPERING DEATH is now available, in both Kindle and paperback formats. The official launch will be at FantasyCon in Nottingham on Saturday 24 October (which also happens to be my birthday) but I have not yet had a time confirmed.

There’s also going to be another launch in South London on Wednesday 14 October. If you’re not going to FantasyCon but are in the vicinity to make it to this one, let me know and I shall send you an invite.


Two appearances to report this month:

18 August – I was on Jami Gray’s blog talking about the editing process and how the end is not the end.

24 August – Canadian author Allan J Emerson hosted an interview with me on his blog today.

TWITTER Book launch invite 27-8-2015 MASTERWhile we’re on the subject of publicity, I want to mention that tomorrow night (Thursday 27th) there will be an online Q&A session to promote THE WHISPERING DEATH. My publisher, Kensington Gore, and I will be online to answer any questions that people might care to ask. This starts at 7pm British Summer Time, and it will be happening on Twitter. Use the hashtag #QAKGPUB (an abbreviation of ‘question & answer for Kensington Gore publishing’) to join the conversation. I am attaching the invite here. Feel free to spread the word!


Over halfway through the first draft of SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara Summers novel, now. Actually, technically it’s Draft 2.5, since I rebooted it twice, but I have now got further than I ever did in any of the earlier versions so I am feeling hopeful that progress is being made.

I’ve set a goal for myself that I will finish this novel, to final draft stage, by the end of the year. This will mean I’ve got two WIPs on the go, since I’m also in the (very) early stages of a new horror novel. But hey, sometimes that’s a good thing. When I get stuck on one WIP I can go work on the other one.

Lots going on, then. So on that note I’m going to sign off and go back to the writing!

Monday’s Friend: Jami Gray

Today I am pleased to have prolific and award-winning author Jami Gray on my blog. Welcome, Jami!

It’s All in the Lines
By Jami Gray

I’m a writer of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romantic Suspense, which translates to—I not only believe in the strange and unusual, I’m generally promoting it. During my first trip to New Orleans I managed to tick a few things off my bucket list. Of course I’ll be back, because there were too many things left unvisited—cemeteries, the swamp, plantations, just to name a few. However, I did make time to visit Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo ( for a palm reading.

First to give you a sense of setting—in the French Quarter, especially the closer you get to Bourbon Street and Royal Street, the smell can knock you into the next life faster than a horse drawn carriage. Cobbled streets lined with bars, shops and art galleries crouch below balconied homes. There are relator signs letting you know if a condo comes with its own ghost or not. (Kid you not!)

People abound, on the sidewalk, in the shops and bars, and on the streets themselves. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try forcing a car down those narrow strips. My hubby, BFF, and I made our way down the sidewalk when we saw the sign: Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.

We stumbled up two cement steps, brushed by a couple with a stroller heading out, and found ourselves surrounded by strange masks, chicken feet, hand crafted mojo bags, gris-gris, and voodoo dolls. Any and everything designed to help you maneuver your way through the modern karmic world.

Immediately, I’m drawn to the colorful collection of candles nestled next to the beautiful, but strangely disturbing alter to the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau. There are gris-gris, cooled wax, bits and pieces of past offerings while signs stand guard and warn customers “NO TOUCHING”. Not to mention the shop’s proprietress who reiterates the point to one or two customers who somehow miss the signage.

For all the strange items cluttering the walls, shelves and ceiling (oh yes, there were things hanging from the rafters—voodoo dolls, masks, hand-made crosses), there was a quiet peacefulness to the shop.

Eventually BFF and I make it to the back, and submit our names for a palm reading. We patiently wait our turn, debating if we want to pick up some chicken feet or a decorative skull (yep, that’s me).

Our readings are individual. I slip inside to find a white haired woman who could have been any one of the many authors invading New Orleans that week. Her smile is sweet and she has the steadiest gaze I’ve ever encountered. She reads my palm, giving me some interesting insights.

Shadows Edge Cover (2)Then she picks up a well-worn stack of playing cards with, of all things, playing kittens on the back. They dance through her hands. I keep my questions silent and let the cards fall where they will. She used a standard Tarot layout the first time, but with each following draw, the layout changes. It’s been awhile since I’ve dusted off my own Tarot deck, so I’m not sure which patterns she used, but what she gave me—hmmm, the future holds some interesting times.

Nope, won’t share, because I’m a firm believer readings are to be kept personal. I will tell you, I’m curious to see how much she gave me comes about.

My BFF and I did compare notes, because you have to enter some of these readings with a dose of skepticism. Yet, there was enough individual predictions in the readings to make us both believe there may be nuggets of truth.

Now, is it a chicken and egg thing? Will our futures fall as predicted because that’s what we believe will happen? Or will it happen that way because that’s the way it’s supposed to? I’ll leave the answer up to higher powers to answer, for now I’ll keep on, keeping on and we’ll see what the future brings.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…

Kyn Banner (2)

THE KYN KRONICLES (Urban Fantasy series w/Black Opal Books)

WRAPPED IN SHADOWS, Kyn Kronicles .5
(Things That Go Bump For The Holidays Anthology)

The magic of the holidays can be hell…

Celebrations abound during the holidays, but this Christmas an engagement celebration goes horrifically wrong.  What appears to be a simple murder/suicide hides a vicious surprise. The type of gift Raine and Gavin, elite member of the Kyn, didn’t want humans to unwrap, because revealing the monsters in the shadows isn’t the way to spread holiday cheer.

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2
Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3
Even wild hearts can be broken…

Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.

If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4
Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

Coming Fall 2015:
A collection of Kyn shorts, including WRAPPED IN SHADOWS


Jami Gray Small (2)Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Find Jami at:

 Black Opal Books:
Muse It Up Publishing:
Facebook Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:


You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

Monday’s Friend: Kristin Battestella

Today I am pleased to have horror author Kristin Battestella as my guest blogger. Welcome to Imaginary Friends, Kristin!

Inside the Toy Box – How to use Everyday Things to Inspire Character Personality and Depth!
by Kristin Battestella

Writing is youth. It isn’t outside the box. Stop thinking about all that advice that says break the rules, twist the genre, create something no one has ever created before! Get rid of all those ultimatums in your head and actually do it. Open that Toy Box!

KBWriting in many ways is play-acting. You are creating an imaginative world. Even if you describe a real world setting that you know intimately, one must put a spin on the senses, invoke feelings, and let strangers reading your books know what it is like to be here or there ten, fifty, one hundred years from now. How can you do that if you simply sit at your desk, K-cups, internet and all? Even when writing a completely serious decidedly non-childlike manuscript, you should behave in a child like manner during the initial writing composition. Return to your youthful memories, sense of wonder, and life altering experiences to make your paper world come to life.

Does your character hate au gratin potatoes and fish sticks because you yourself had horrible experiences with gross cheese clumps and limp, pasty fish? Write it down! Never think anything you write is too dumb. So long as it says something important about the character’s mind and personality or motivations in your text, any quirk or mannerism that creates a fully developed person and reader embodiment is a good thing!

And speaking of embodiment, how can you expect readers to inhabit your work if you don’t do so yourself? I’m not saying you have to kill someone for your horror or sleep with many people for your erotica, but finding ways to experience the times, places, thoughts, and feelings of your characters and manuscript environment should be paramount. How do you know if your character hates corsets unless you try one on yourself? Maybe she-or he!- actually finds them quite comfortable because you went to a fancy lingerie store and got fitted yourself. And hey, check out those adult shops to spice up that erotica or use Weird NJ as your roadmap to creepy or notorious places. What do you do with all these new found experiences of yours? Write them down!

It’s all fine and dandy to write with a quill on antique paper as your players may have done. Don’t scoff. Just ask yourself, ‘Why not?’ Try wearing a wig in your character’s style to the grocery store and see what happens. Do your neighbors already think you’re a whirlwind of fun? Or will you surprise someone, maybe even yourself?

Use the physical freedoms and whimsy already about you to free your mind and imagination. After a seemingly drastic character embodiment experiment, it becomes easier to find your story sources in everyday things. Can you fit in your kitchen in a hoop skirt? Would your glamorous blonde ever do the laundry? Open yourself to creative foreplay and experiences for a magical writing experience!

FinalFrontCoverjpeg (2)Horror Addicts Guide to Life Blurb

Cover art by: Masloski Carmen

Editor: David Watson

Do you love the horror genre? Do you look at horror as a lifestyle? Do the “norms” not understand your love of the macabre?

Despair no longer, my friend, for within your grasp is a book written by those who look at horror as a way of life, just like you. This is your guide to living a horrifying existence. Featuring interviews with Midnight Syndicate, Valentine Wolfe, and The Gothic Tea Society. Plus more!

Authors: Kristin Battestella, Mimielle, Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, Steven Rose Jr., Garth von Buchholz, H.E. Roulo, Sparky Lee Anderson, Mary Abshire, Chantal Boudreau, Jeff Carlson, Catt Dahman, Dean Farnell, Sandra Harris, Willo Hausman, Laurel Anne Hill, Sapphire Neal, James Newman, Loren Rhoads, Chris Ringler, Jessica Robinson, Eden Royce, Sumiko Saulson, Patricia Santos Marcantonio, J. Malcolm Stewart, Stoneslide Corrective, Mimi A.Williams, and Ron Vitale. With art by Carmen Masloski and Lnoir.

Author Bio:

Kristin Battestella writes for her hometown newspaper The Cumberland County Reminder and has been writing non-fiction, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror for almost twenty years. Along with numerous sports articles, print essays, online reviews, and pen name fiction, Kristin’s first eBook was published in 2005.  She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network, Horror, the Friends of the Mount Laurel Library, and has attended the Philadelphia and Collingswood Book Festivals and the Muse Online Writers Conference. Kristin’s first full-length work The Vampire Family has been re-released with Eternal Press; and her 7 book sequel series Fate and Fangs is available now with Muse It Up Publishing. Kristin appears in the Horror Addicts Guide to Life Anthology in 2015 and discusses film criticism from her I Think, Therefore I Review blog on’s What to Watch.

Read All About It Interview discussing writing and Horror Addicts Guide to Life:

Cover Reveal: The Whispering Death


(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s time to unveil the cover for my forthcoming horror novel THE WHISPERING DEATH!

This one is being released by British horror publisher Kensington Gore in the Autumn. The e-book version may, in fact, be available in a few weeks. The print version will follow in a couple of months. I am hoping to be able to launch it at FantasyCon in Nottingham in October but I am awaiting confirmation on that.

This is the scariest novel I have written in a while, and it’s not for the faint-hearted as it has rather a lot of gruesome scenes. It also has a lot of references to LARP, to D&D, to Resident Evil and is an homage to geekiness in general. Oh, and it has zombies, too.

I am very excited about the release of this book. For those of you in the UK and not going to FantasyCon, I’m endeavouring to arrange another launch, in the South of England, to offer another opportunity to attend. As always, watch this space for further info.

In the meantime, here’s a teaser in the form of a blurb for the novel.


Death comes to us all; life is the name of the game and everyone has a role to play.

When a group of live action role-players perform a ritual as part of a game, they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil that tears their world apart. The reanimated corpse of a long-dead magic user, corrupted by powerful dark magic, offers a promise of unlimited power, but at a terrible price. Having helped open this Pandora’s box, Mark and Elizabeth must race against time to close it again – before it’s too late.


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