Thursday, February 29, 2024

Novus Monstrum

 These monsters are never-before-seen.

These monsters bite, and don’t let go.

These monsters aren’t your grandparents’ boogeymen, but they are not tame, and they want to climb right down into your nightmares and make you their own

Novus Monstrum


The Midnight Zone Book 1

Edited by Douglas Gwilym & Ken MacGregor

Genre: Weird Creature Horror Anthology

“Mysterious, merciless, mirthful. New favorites await you in this superb anthology.”

-Johnny Compton (author of Spite House, Esquire best horror book of 2023 and Stoker longlister)

This may look like just a book, but NOVUS MONSTRUM could infect your brain, shake your sense of what’s real, change you forever. This is twenty-two all-original new monster tales from the greats: Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Gabino Iglesias, Gemma Files, Gaby Triana, Ramsey Campbell, Jeffrey Thomas, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Lucy A. Snyder, plus thirteen stories from new names (see below) destined to become some of your favorite authors.

These monsters are never-before-seen. These monsters bite, and don’t let go. These monsters aren’t your grandparents’ boogeymen, but they are not tame, and they want to climb right down into your nightmares and make you their own.

Welcome to the new anthology series The Midnight Zone.

Ken MacGregor, editor of the Shirley-Jackson-Award-nominated anthology Stitched Lips and the uproarious Burnt Fur, teamed up with Bram-Stoker-Award-nominated short story author Douglas Gwilym, editor of Appetites and Harmony & Dissonance, to take you to strange and dark new places. They’ll ask you to go deeper and weirder than The Twilight Zone, to a place (like the real-world midnight zone, a mile beneath the ocean’s surface) where no sunlight penetrates. Join us as we explore the inhospitable, surprising, uncomfortable, bizarre, and otherworldly.

GUEST POST

Are We All The Monsters?

a conversation with Douglas Gwilym & Ken MacGregor, editors of NOVUS MONSTRU

Douglas

Hey, Ken. What’s different? There’s… something in the atmosphere.

Ken:

Hey, Douglas. Is it…poisonous gas? No, wait. This is Valentine’s Day, so…it’s love, isn’t it? Love of monsters!

Douglas:

Nailed it in one. I think it’s safe to say we each have what you might call a lifelong love of things monstrous and impossible. What was your first monster true love? How old were you, and did the monster’s family approve?

Ken:

Well, I grew up on shows like The Twilight Zone (which should come as no surprise to anyone, since our current series of anthologies, The Midnight Zone, is clearly a deeply respectful homage to that) and Night Gallery, which scared the bejeezus out of me more than a few times. I read a lot of fantasy books, but was always drawn to the darker, more unsettling characters. In the Roger Zelazny Amber books, there’s a moment where he describes a person (Dworkin)  so powerful that his madness flickers across his physical being for a moment, terrifying the protagonist. That image has stuck with me for over 40 years. Man, I loved those books. I’m not sure if I’ve answered your question, but I’ll try to sum it up: I’ve always been drawn to the macabre, for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always loved monsters. And, I’m not one to care if the family approves: I’ll go Romeo and Juliet on that, probably with the same result as those crazy kids. What about you? First monster love?

Douglas:

Ooch. Ouch. I mean, the first truly monstrous beings I loved as a child were in sci-fi and fantasy. The salt-sucking mimic with the circular mouth of terrible teeth who posed as McCoy’s ex in the original Star Trek and knocked off crew member after crew member. The towering indifferent monsters of the kaiju “Creature Feature” on a tv station I could barely pull in after school. IT from A Wrinkle In Time, pulsating and terrorizing and making you (me!) its own. But it was Gollum, from reading The Lord of the Rings (and watching the Rankin-Bass Hobbit film), who made me a real convert to monsterdom. Gollum was just an ordinary hobbit like us, but the Ring and the darkness and the malice in his heart over 500 years turned him into a gruesome, strangling, blood-thirsty monster. Terrible as he is, the sympathy started to creep in with that guy. Prepared me for Alan Moore’s run of Swamp Thing comics to set the hook forever. Alec Holland was trying to do good in the world, was murdered and reborn in a way that estranged him from humanity forever… and made him a kind of a god. I mean, where do I sign?

So, hey. Ken. What does it mean to you if I say, “We are all the monsters”?

Ken:

I would interpret that to mean that humans are capable of monstrous things, which, if you watch, read, or listen to the news, is pretty clearly true. While I absolutely love monsters from fiction, and very much enjoy writing about them, I find the real-world monsters far more disturbing. I think each of us is capable of monstrosity. Even myself. I can clearly remember, after a car accident when I got hit in the head hard enough to give me grand mal seizures later, thinking to myself, “Oh. I should go kill that driver who just hit me.” It wasn’t an angry thought. It was calm, practical. Like, it was this thing I had to do to set things right again. That’s psychotic, and it terrifies me that a thought like that was ever in my head. The fact that I was ready to calmly commit homicide is quite alarming. Luckily, a cop car rolled up as I was heading to my task and my brain decided it would be better not to kill anyone today. I realize this was an injury-induced moment of madness, but it gave me pause. How many of us are just one angry customer, one failed credit card transaction, one hot coffee spilled on our thigh, from losing it and tearing out someone’s throat with our teeth?

Incidentally, I loved hearing about your early influences. I had completely forgotten about the lamprey-like monster on Star Trek!


Douglas:

That negative human potential is huge. I remember Stephen King saying something like “I write these things in a ‘knock on wood’ way, to keep them fiction and out of my real life.”

My take is, I’ll admit, a bit different. We’ve had the supremely good luck of getting to work with some talented folks for NOVUS MONSTRUM. Not just the nine authors we invited who are real forces in the genre, but the 800-ish writers who sent us submissions from around the world. I don’t know if I could get my hands on better data about what it means to be a monster, or what the idea of monsters means to us, as humans. I am left with the strong impression that being monstrous boils down to three things: being different, being outside the grid of usual human society, and–perhaps foremost–being powerful. I think we all have tremendous potential, we humans. And I think we’re all a little monstrous in our own way. But, like the monsters in the stories by Gwendolyn Kiste, Marco Cultrera, Sarah Hans, and others in the book, you can take that power, and that license to give zero you-know-whats, and do something monstrously positive with it. But, you know me, Swamp Thing got me early and got me good. We celebrate the monsters here, because monsters can be anything. Sometimes even the hero.

Love that you brought up The Twilight Zone. It’s subtle, and I think it would be easy for folks to miss, but the real-world “twilight zone” is an oceanographic term, referring to a dark, in-between place in the depths of the ocean, and so is “the midnight zone”. Just one shade deeper.


Ken:

One of the things that initially drew me to the term The Midnight Zone was, first, the homage to The Twilight Zone, naturally, but also that, in the midnight zone of the ocean, no light penetrates: it’s a place of eternal darkness, inhabited by nothing but predators and scavengers. What better setting for an anthology of monsters?! It is inherently creepy, oppressive, scary. So, we started with this vibe, this unsettling title for our series, and hit the ground running. When we settled on the theme for volume one, “original monsters,” it felt like the perfect fit. And the response from our invited authors, and the overwhelming enthusiasm from the open call for submissions, we could tell that we had hit on something pretty special. Whenever I’m describing NOVUS MONSTRUM to people who haven’t yet read it, I always say that these are honestly some of the best short stories I’ve ever read. There’s a reason these 22 made the cut, out of nearly 800 submissions. I couldn’t be more proud of this thing we created, Douglas, and I am absolutely down for doing it again. At some point. Once we’ve recovered from the year of working on this one.

Douglas:

A moment to breathe is always good. A chance to take the inspiration of working with storytellers of this caliber and supercharging our own writing? :) I’ve got my own short story collection, They Take Our Best & Other Weird Tales, circulating with some of my favorite authors and accruing some wonderful blurbs. I’m also itching to get my latest novel in shape for the monstrous masses. What do you have in the works?

Ken:

My first story collection (and first ever book), An Aberrant Mind, was recently released to me from the publisher. So, I’m reworking it, bringing it up to my current standards, with the goal of self-publishing it sometime this year. It’ll be my first foray into that sort of thing, and I’m nervously excited about it. There are some other projects in the works, too, but they’re kind of too early to really talk about now. Don’t want to put the cart before the dead horse, or whatever that expression is.

Douglas:

Nice! May all your dead horses pull the carts you want them to.

And that leaves us with tales enough for another day, doesn’t it

Ken:

It does. Incidentally, “All Your Dead Horses” is my new band.


EXCERPT

A Grace of Finer Form - Post-apocalyptic survival tale. The monsters are mutants: amalgams of living creatures, one so enormous it rivals the Titans of myth.

“She… remembered a time when the animals weren’t… distorted… with extra limbs, eyes in the wrong places, wings or tails that don’t belong. But, to me, the two-headed chipmunk-lizard hybrid that scrambled up my sleeve… was as natural as any other thing in the forest. These twisted animals were all I had ever known.

“[T]he massive thing on the horizon was closer, resolving itself into a towering titan’s form, still hazy in the dawn light. It was a person, but with too many limbs, too many faces, pearlescent skin shimmering in the sunlight, horrible and wonderful to behold. It was so tall its faces were wreathed in clouds like a crown. Around the titan’s head, winged creatures wheeled and dipped like a god’s heralds. At its feet, a retinue followed, at this distance appearing like a seething mass.”

“Its faces turned and turned so that each pair of eyes could behold me there…. It stood over me, five-breasted and seven-armed, three phalluses dangling between its many legs. What I had taken for a pearlescent shimmer at a distance was actually the oscillation of the vegetation that sprouted from the titan’s skin, long-stemmed mushrooms and coiling vines and bell-shaped flowers the size of a dog waving and juddering with each of the giant’s steps.”

“The wings of an eagle combined with the body of a lynx, but also the eyes of an insect, the paws of a raccoon, the tail of a snake. Horrifying and miraculous all at once.”

“Amber and Kelly ran, screaming. I followed them, pursuing them doggedly into the trees. I was faster, now, the titan’s tears making me an ideal version of myself…. I enclosed them in my embrace, my arms lengthening and my flesh stretching to encompass them wholly in the love of the goddess…. The titan’s tears melted their skin and melded it with mine. Our bones snapped together into one skeleton, our hair braided itself into one wild tangle. Amber and Kelly and I became one creature with six legs and six arms and three faces, weeping with terrible joy.”

Brother Bone - A giant, living skeleton that feeds on the skeletons of its victims (by ripping away the flesh and meat) and using the bone fragments to expand itself, in return granting its family effective immortality.

“She screamed when she saw Brother Bone coming up from behind us, rising up from the hill itself. Thin and tall, white as the freshest snow. He filled the sky as he got up all spindly and dry bones clacking.”

“Brother Bone touched him for a second with that white, dry bone appendage. Pity from the bones of us.”

“One of Brother Bone’s limbs skewered my boy right through the chest and I swear I felt it like it was in my own body.”

“He held Micah there to watch as he pulled apart the gal, ripping out every bone as Micah wept. Licking the pink and velvety red leavings off the sockets of her shoulders and flats of her leg bones. The slithering white of Brother Bone’s tongue and his clacks and grunts filled all my senses….”

“A pile of meat by the time Brother Bone turned from her. He chewed up what he took and spit the white paste onto the ends of his spiked limbs, thickening them.”

“Brother Bone took Micah’s leg bones so he wouldn’t run away then he picked a morsel of the cooling gal’s body from her flapped open chest–a bit of her heart mayhap–and shoved it into Micah’s mouth. The magic of the meat closed his wounds and left him healing when Brother Bone yanked out his spiked finger and ambled away.”

First Day Jitters at Slappy’s - The monsters are living theme-park mascot characters. It’s far more disturbing than it sounds. This one is bonkers.

“Fear creeps up as I try wiping the fluff off. No matter what I do it clings to every part of me. The inside of my arms feels like they are stuffed with barbed wire…. Cotton fills my mouth and smothers my attempt to scream…. My vision spins and I stagger to a tree. That’s when I see the red dripping down my hands.”

“Through watery eyes I see strange growths bubbling on my legs… my tailbone cracks… my spine pops and grinds, pain becomes lightning streaking across my skull. Gritting my teeth, my body contorts and jerks.”

“My perspective warps as I feel my eyes bulge. Something pushes out from the sensitive meat under my nails, sending waves of agony through my arms. As I writhe on the ground, my suit feels like it’s shrinking, like I’m in a prison.”

“My head is off balance. At the top of my vision, I can see two bony, twisted, protrusions that seem to be coming from my skull. There’s something long where my nose should be, and I can pick up a million scents. When I glance at my arms, they’re covered with white fur, three hard black fingers where my hands should be.”

“Some small part of me screams I’m not in a costume, I’m a human like them. But the longer I stand here, the more the children clapping and laughing wash it away.”

God Damn You to Hell, John Glenn - The monster is a massive, mutated, extremely hungry…sea monkey.

“Sickly green horizontal bands covered the length of the creature. The bands looked hard, like tortoise shell polished to a glimmering sheen. At least a dozen legs poked out from the thing’s sides. Each limb looked meaty and muscular and ended in three long talon-tipped digits…. Two long antennae? Arms? Mandibles? locked onto a half full gallon of milk and pulled the jug to the thing’s head.”

“Rud’s body gave a full-length shudder and grew. Broadening and lengthening by a good four inches. A blue ooze flowed out from between the bands of shell. The ooze coated the freshly grown flesh, hardening into new layers of protection.”

“Rudy’s head section rotated on its body. A long segmented tube, wet with milk, extended tentatively in Suzanne’s direction. The lip of the tube was red and wet. Black triangular teeth pushed through the red flesh and came together with an almost musical clink. The space monkey’s body spun; its many legs breaking into a galloping scurry toward Suzanne. She turned and ran flat out the door.”

[This is the early 60s. She bursts in on her neighbors for help and….] “Eugenia Price, Suzanne’s neighbor for the last five years, and vice president of the Caderro County historical society, stood naked in her living room but for a complex arrangement of black leather straps that supported the foot long, bright red phallus protruding at a jaunty angle from about crotch level. ‘Now hold on, Suzanne. There is no need to call the police. We’re all consenting adults here.’”

I Clean the Monster that Killed My Husband Every Morning - A vicious anti-pollution tale, the monsters are creatures that come up from below the earth and violently destroy any machine that creates pollutants, and whomever happens to be using them at the time.

“Everybody knows where they were [that day]. If you don’t, it’s because you died…. The monsters came from underground, digging their way out fast as lightning. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions….Of course, the first thing on everybody’s mind was an alien invasion. Alien soldiers waiting under the surface deep enough that humanity never spotted them, buried by some extraterrestrial civilization eons ago, biding their time until humanity was deemed worthy of conquest…. The trouble with that theory was that they targeted only machines. Yes, billions died, but just because they were inside them, around them, holding them or on the path to them.”

“Shoulders… tight and broad, they are the widest part of its body. If you look at them from a foot away, the black skin appears thick, and impossibly smooth, like leather stretched on a kettledrum… the densest muscles ever to hang on the skeleton of a living creature. The smoothness is also an illusion. Even the gentlest drag of my fingertips reveals that the skin is made of tiny fibers parallel to each other, curving around the body.”

“It’s the subtle stickiness, like a layer of molasses a few atoms deep, that makes lifting your fingers off take an extra moment.”

“Bullet holes are the only marks on the monster’s body left from the attack, but they don’t go deep, a quarter of an inch at most. The experts on the radio have explained that the blood flowing inside the monster turns to acid in contact with metal, dissolving [a bullet] before it can do harm.”

“Sounds of machine gun bursts made me look outside the window and I saw the monster, my monster, for the first time, all seven feet of deadly force. It had just killed Mr. Donovan and was charging our house.”

“The monster stopped in front of me, its dark skin smeared in grime, with drops of thick liquid falling off and blotching my living room carpet. Its head turned, and I saw its eyes, two deep holes ending in yellow sparks…. [T]he monster began smashing through the floor with its blades, opening a direct path to the furnace in the basement.”

“I arrived at the front door just in time to see the monster plunging into the trunk of George’s car, which had only made it halfway through the driveway. The blades [of the monster’s hands] cut my husband in half, on their way to the front engine. The car exploded, engulfing the monster in flames. I didn’t move an inch, until all that could burn had burned, leaving the monster standing still in the wreckage…. I found the monster’s eyes just before the sparks faded to black.”

“In the first hour of the attack, waves of monsters, all the same shape as mine, but some as tall as a three-story building, targeted all the power plants burning fossil fuel, with no distinction between oil, carbon or natural gas.”

Lizard War - Translucent giant lizards swarming across the alien landscape. The “astronauts” are all women, and the main character, Eliza, who was the cook before everything changed but is now in charge, loses her lover Joan in a climactic scene. She floats out into space, “her blood hanging in drops around her like falling rose petals, her hair fanned out like a peacock’s tail….”

But back to the monsters.

“The largest ones were eight-foot high, twelve feet long, with extended jaws. Most were closer to seven feet long and five feet high. They were agile, not strong, but they were tooth-packed eating machines. Eliza remembered the shock when she first discovered that in the bright moonlight, she could see through them. See bones and organs, digestion taking place, glimpses of odd creatures struggling in stomach sacks, red acid flowing onto them, dissolving them into liquid….. The rip in the wall of the ship was large enough for the beasts to enter. They came in small numbers at first, testing it out. Only one astronaut was lost; surprised and eaten as fast as a dog might eat a greasy meat treat.”

“The walls were tall, slick with oil, and the lizards couldn’t climb them quickly as long as the oil stayed fresh and slippery. Setting the oil on fire as they climbed was another plus. The fires licked loose the lizards’ flesh and devoured their bones.”

“Then came an explosion of strange birds, some with two sets of wings. They came before the lizards like heralds of destruction. They filled the air with bright, fluttering colors. Odd animals, with too many legs and too many heads, hopped and ran, dived at the wall and darted to who knows where. If they stopped to look back or so much as scratch their ass with a hind paw, they were caught and devoured in a shark-like frenzy.”

“The sun, now a pink glow above the jungle, dripped all the way down and the three moons came up. The big moon moved swiftly across the sky and the other moons followed, as if pulled behind the larger moon on a string.”

“On the lizards came. Hissing and growling, defecating as they ran, endless as the stretch of time…. There seemed to be more lizards than planet. They came on endlessly, some giving birth as they ran, shooting out lizards like mortar shots. The babies came out in a ball and rolled over the ground. When they stopped rolling, they uncoiled and were already five-feet in length. Without so much as motherly instruction, they came on hungry and angry, adding to the mayhem.”

The original inhabitants of the planet:

“Positioned in front of a control panel in a wide cushioned chair was a creature with an enormous head, odd twists of torso, withered tentacles as well as long arms, hands the size of catcher’s mitts. There wasn’t much left of the corpse. The loss of flesh was due to rot, not ravenous mouths. The tentacles were dry and mummified. The body was odorless.”

“The lizards got Mary that night. She leaned over the wall to take a shot, and a monster jumped out of the dark, as if leaping from a hole in space and time, and snapped its jaws around her head…. Without so much as a scream, Mary was headless and squirting blood. Her head was visible inside the lizard when the lightning flashed. The rest of her body joined the head in three or four quick bites.”

Mother Ship - Machine/organic spaceship and her godspawn child.

“The screen displayed a transparent, three-dimensional rendering of the Undine, its outer shell a bright-red crosshatch of vertices, while the interior glowed an eerie, greenish hue. Upon closer inspection, the ship’s propulsion organs had been replaced by what appeared to be a clumsy replication of a mammalian uterus, flanked by two ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a narrow cervix…. Inside the womb floated a humanoid approximately seven meters tall, with no distinguishing features on its face besides a lipless mouth. Though the rendering itself was little better than a scanned ultrasound image, Kiyoko could still see the slight, jerking movements of the nameless symbiote, its head twitching spasmodically, as if experiencing REM sleep.”

“How long has it been gestating?”... “Probably two hundred standard years, at the very least. This modification doesn’t happen overnight.”

“Most of them had never seen the interior of a bioship without augmented reality cosmetics. It was like looking at the inner workings of an old freighter, except instead of seeing gears, bolts, and wires, they saw hallways of flesh the color of pulped mulberry. Above, ridges of bony, chitinous matter held the ceiling aloft.”

“A gurgling scream startled Kiyoko…. She turned and saw a four-limbed creature sinking its feelers into a security personnel[woman]’s neck. The thing resembled a hybrid of a locust and a cuttlefish, frontal legs lined with jagged, tibial spines. It made a clicking noise while gorging on the blood spurting from the man’s jugular using an elongated proboscis. Similar-looking creatures pounced on the flailing, shrieking victim, digging their claws into his torso, shredding armor and flesh with disgusting ease…. One of the security officers tried to help her fallen comrade–only to be intercepted mid-stride and cut in half by scythe-like mandibles that belonged to a larger bio-form with a segmented, plated torso. Streaks of bright red blood splattered across the holographic walls, making them shimmer and flicker.”

“Kiyoko saw the silhouette of a gargantuan, misshapen xenoform emerging from the adjacent corridor, an organism composed of writhing tendrils and lamprey-like mouths, propelled onward by smaller limbs jutting from its sides like an overgrown millipede.”

“The father…. An unknown xenoform of immense size and anti-matter density. It emerged from God knows where, a dimension whose natural laws are utterly incompatible with our own. This being came to our universe looking for a mate, and soon found the perfect match: a biomechanical mutant capable of growing her own reproductive organs. It chose her as the vessel for its seed. And she accepted.”

“‘Soon, she’ll do it to you, too.’.... Ravi plodded onward, torso exposed, until he was only a few inches from Kiyoko. A fissure appeared across his solar plexus, which expanded inch-by-inch, revealing rows of jagged, malformed teeth; strings of pinkish slime dripped from the orifice as an eel-like, purplish tongue poked out. Something broke in Kiyoko’s brain. Shrieking, she fired the gun again and again….”

The Path of Skulls - Sexless, cube-headed simulacra and deep arcane mystery.

“Whether you’ve seen the Path of Skulls in person or only online, you’ll know the path to the palace’s gated entrance is enclosed on both sides by high walls built without mortar from square blocks, seemingly shapes from an unusual material. That is, these blocks appear to be carved from ivory or bone. Strange fissures resembling those of human skulls run through the blocks, with a fairly consistent pattern, though they are otherwise devoid of any other resemblance to human skulls, such as eye sockets, nasal bones, or mandibles with teeth.”

“[T]he immense block revealed itself to be the pale, yellowish-white color of bone, and squiggly fissures ran across its surfaces here and there, like the sutures of a human skull. There were no other features on the sides or top of this block–which covered twice as much land as the Imperial Palace itself–but its lower surface was another matter…. Though from a distance, in the haze, the Great Anomaly had appeared to be hovering a little off the ground, on closer inspection it was seen to be upheld by hundreds of human-like bodies standing in neat rows, with their arms at their sides like soldiers at attention. I say human-like, because though in general outline they seemed to be identical smooth-skinned, hairless youths on the cusp of adulthood, their skin was of the exact same hue as the block they upheld. Also, it wasn’t certain what sex these beings were, as none of them possessed genitalia, or even nipples or navels…. Most shockingly, these bodies that appeared to uphold the monstrous block did so on their shoulders. That is to say, their heads were inserted down to their shoulders in rows of square-shaped openings in the block’s underside.”

“... bent down and withdrew their heads from the square-shaped holes they had been inserted into. These individuals then came out from under the anomaly and stood upright…. In so doing, the beings revealed themselves to possess oversized heads just as square-shaped as the holes they had been hidden within. These sharp-edged, perfectly square heads might have been miniature replicas of the monstrous cube itself.”

“They were killed with anything at hand, and often their bodies were dragged out into the street and burned. They burned quickly, like paper, except for the skulls–which remained, though blackened. When the corpses were not burned, one could watch them rapidly decompose. In as little as an hour, the beautiful androgynous bodies would break down into bubbling white muck, that in turn eventually evaporated without a trace.”

“Finally, the last row of beings came out from under the Great Anomaly, and it floated there above the earth without need of support from the silent homunculi, after all.”

“[F]eet appeared in the first row of square-shaped holes beneath the Great Anomaly. The feet gradually descended, and bodies along with them, until the feet touched ground. And after them, a second fresh row of bodies descended. Then the next…. It was feared that there would come an inexhaustible army of the box-headed people… but an army that inflicted no harm or damage. An army that allowed itself to be killed. Perhaps, even wanted it.”

Song of the Devil Trumpet - Quite lovely trees that trick you into eating their fruit so they can take over your body and repurpose you.

“[P]articularly as they relate to sentient, intelligent plant life. Please don’t laugh; I was mocked enough upon submitting my dissertation, then ridiculed again when I arrived at the hospital, thus my need for your help receiving discharge.”

“What I’d considered to be cypress trees the night before turned out to be something else, something I’d never seen before–tall, lanky trunks with green-brown leafy canopy and a root system that reached into the watery soil like gnarled fingers of some thirsty giant. Overflowing fluted white and pink flowers hung like the delicate trumpets of upside-down Victrolas….”

“[T]rees think similarly to humans, if only we scientists would open our eyes and observe the subtle signs. Trees work together by sending signals, they protect their young by feeding sugar solution to their saplings, and they make decisions to self-preserve by withholding fruit, as evidenced by the outpost’s chlorophyllic residents.”

“The fruit was yellow and green, brown in spots, resembling an overripe papaya larger than a dog’s head, and when my colleague climbed on the roof of the outpost, cut it down, and impaled it with his knife, it let out a hissy breath of fumes. Sweet, tangy, with a touch of retribution.”

“[H]e ripped into the orangey flesh with his desperate teeth, tearing off juicy chunks of dripping pulp with his knife and shoving them between his thick lips.”

“Mr. Wilhelm stopped moving, a piece of stringy flesh dangling from his lips, as he stared straight at me. For a moment, I thought I had offended him again. Perhaps women should also not be allowed to consume fruit directly from the source until a man had sampled it first? … [M]y colleague’s brown eyes glossed over, and he began to convulse. From his mouth began to spew a frothy white foam, tinged with streaks of pink and red. Amid his whimpers, the foam overflowed from his mouth, cascaded down his chin, and dripped toward the ground where its acid caused the foliage to sizzle and smoke…. As I watched in revulsion, the swallowing passage of Mr. Wilhelm’s body, his esophagus, as it is known, was expelled from his mouth, slipped and tumbled to the ground like volcanic lava, followed by his bloated stomach. Foot after bleeding foot of bowels continued to stream out, coiling at his feet like snakes…. [T]he whole length of his legs had doubled in size and burst from his trousers, brownish purple bruising spreading along his fair skin, and his limbs exploded from within by a spiraling, expanding, tree root.”

“Soon we will all be trees….”

Wonce was a Woman - The monsters are human female/office machine hybrids. A woman goes looking for a mythical monster woman who is foretold as a sort of savior–and ultimately finds it is herself.

“Something appeared at the edge of the light. Her vision blurred by pain, Carla caught a glimpse of it…. The pale face of a woman. Instead of eyes, two large, round objects protruded from her skull. They looked like chair wheels. The mouth consisted of a small table drawer, stuffed into a broken, unworking jaw…. Hidey turned in the thing’s direction. Quickly, it scurried back into the darkness…. ‘You see that one? He asked. ‘Always hungry. It eats paper.’”

“This one had a face studded with typewriter keys. Naked and emaciated, a thick, black ichor leaked from its pale nipples. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but no sound came forth. Instead of teeth, bent paperclips lined her gums.”

“The new one that appeared looked smaller and more machine than any other. A Xerox machine with a baby’s face, glistening with fluid as if recently birthed. It pulled itself forward with an appendage made of wires. This time, instead of stepping away at Hidey’s command, they continued their slow advance.”

“More of them began appearing, each with a uniquely modified, grafted body. The body of one consisted of a water cooler, its sloshing organs visible through clear plastic. Another wobbled forth with a belly distended with protruding wires and gadgets, its thin arms ending in staplers rather than hands and fingers, making Carla think of the fingers she found earlier. All of them, nearly a dozen or so, moved slowly, hampered by disfigurements. Carla’s captors appeared increasingly unnerved.”

“[T]he shattered wood under her back concealed something metallic. And sharp…. Arching her back, she managed to touch it with her hand…. She exhaled, summoning all the strength she had left. She used it to push the man off her. Then she swung the blade as hard as she could toward his neck…. She gripped the bloody blade. It had fused to her body, a permanent part of her now…. The look of surprise on his face filled her with satisfaction. It made her feel like a goddess of destruction.”

“One of them looked like an amalgamation of office parts, its whole head made up of a tangle of rubber bands. All of them wonce women, doomed to this existence by the arcane magic and cruel surgery of men like Hidey Fish.”

Go on. Dive in. Lose yourself to The Midnight Zone.


Also Featuring:
Amanda M. Blake
Joshua Bartolome
Matt Brandenburg
R.A. Busby
Marco Cultrera
E.C. Dorgan
Douglas Ford
Sarah Hans
Jamie Lackey
Donna J.W. Munro
Frank Oreto
Tim Pieraccini
Pris Sears

Includes:

A Grace of Finer Form - Post-apocalyptic survival tale. The monsters are mutants: amalgams of living creatures, one so enormous it rivals the Titans of myth.

Brother Bone - A giant, living skeleton that feeds on the skeletons of its victims (by ripping away the flesh and meat) and using the bone fragments to expand itself, in return granting its family effective immortality.

First Day Jitters at Slappy’s - The monsters are living theme-park mascot characters. It’s far more disturbing than it sounds. This one is bonkers.

God Damn You to Hell, John Glenn - The monster is a massive, mutated, extremely hungry…sea monkey.

I Clean the Monster that Killed My Husband Every Morning - A vicious anti-pollution tale, the monsters are creatures that come up from below the earth and violently destroy any machine that creates pollutants, and whomever happens to be using them at the time.

Lizard War - Translucent giant lizards swarming across the alien landscape. The “astronauts” are all women, and the main character, Eliza, who was the cook before everything changed but is now in charge, loses her lover Joan in a climactic scene. She floats out into space, “her blood hanging in drops around her like falling rose petals, her hair fanned out like a peacock’s tail….”

Mother Ship - Machine/organic spaceship and her godspawn child.

The Path of Skulls - Sexless, cube-headed simulacra and deep arcane mystery.

 Song of the Devil Trumpet - Quite lovely trees that trick you into eating their fruit so they can take over your body and repurpose you.

Wonce was a Woman - The monsters are human female/office machine hybrids. A woman goes looking for a mythical monster woman who is foretold as a sort of savior–and ultimately finds it is herself.

With an introduction by the amazing Jamie Flanagan, screenwriter for Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, Creepshow, and Fall of the House of Usher, and original cover art by the astonishing Trevor Henderson, internet cult phenomenon, creator of Siren Head, and weaver of monsters!

AmazonThe Dragon's Roost Press * Bookbub * Goodreads

Book Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Novus-Monstrum-Midnight-Zone-Book-ebook/dp/B0CKMCBBFZ/

The Dragon’s Roost Press:  https://thedragonsroost.biz/product/novus-monstrum/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/novus-monstrum-the-midnight-zone-book-1-by-ken-macgregor-and-jamie-lackey

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/199405196


About the Editors


Douglas Gwilym has been known to compose a weird-fiction rock opera or two. His short story “Year Six” is on Ellen Datlow’s recommended reading list for Best Horror 14. He edited Triangulation for four years and now co-edits The Midnight Zone—forthcoming edition, Novus Monstrum, a collection of never-before-seen monsters, featuring original stories by greats, and new voices, in strange, dark fiction. He reads classics of the proto-Weird on YouTube and has been guest staff at Alpha Young Writers workshop. His short fiction appears in LampLight, Lucent Dreaming, Novel Noctule, Shelter of Daylight, Tales from the Moonlit Path, Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine, and Tales to Terrify.

 

Website * Facebook * X * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Author Links

Website: https://douglasgwilym.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/douglasgwilym

X: https://twitter.com/douglasgwilym

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/douglas.gwilym

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/douglas-gwilym

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Douglas-Gwilym/author/B07KMSBJ25

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8224895.Douglas_Gwilym

 

Ken MacGregor


has written three story collections, an award winning young adult novella (Devil’s Bane), and has co-authored a novel (Headcase). He is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an active member of the Horror Writers Association. He’s also written TV and radio commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, a one-act play, a scattering of poems, and a zombie movie. Ken has curated three original anthologies, one of which (Stitched Lips) was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. His third anthology, Novus Monstrum, was co-edited with Douglas Gwilym. It is the first installment in the Midnight Zone series for Dragon’s Roost Press.

Ken is also a part-time literary assassin: he will write you into an original short story and kill you for money. Ken drives the bookmobile and lives with his kids, a fierce-but-cuddly tiger cat, and the ashes of his wife.

He can be found at www.kenmacgregor.com.

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Author Links

Website: https://www.kenmacgregor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KenMacGregorAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/macgregor2437

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ken-macgregor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Ken-MacGregor/author/B009MOY6KA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6536991.Ken_MacGregor

 

Giveaway

$20 Amazon

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

https://bit.ly/NovusMonstrumTour

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Lovers in Hell

 Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools.

Lovers in Hell

A Heroes in Hell Anthology

by Janet Morris

Genre: Dark Fantasy Anthology


Only fools fall in love, and hell is filled with fools. Our damned lovers include: Christopher Marlowe and Will Shakespeare, Napoleon and Wellington, Orpheus and Eurydice, Hatshepsut and Senenmut, Abelard and Heloise, Helen and Penelope, Saint Teresa and Satan's Reaper, Madge Kendall and the Elephant Man, and more . . . -- all of whom pay a hellish price for indulging their affections.

Shakespeare said "To be wise and love exceeds man's might," and in Lovers in Hell, the damned in hell exceed all bounds as they search for their true loves, punish the perfidious, and avoid getting caught up in Satan's snares. In ten stories of misery and madness, hell's most loveless seek to slake the thirst that can never be quenched, and find true love amid the lies of ages.

 

Q&A

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Strange muses have inspired me for decades. By training and trade, I am a chemist and the intersection of science, art, and spirituality fascinates me (alchemy essentially). Alchemy largely originated in Egypt, so its Underworld of Duat serves a rich muse. For Perseid Press, I’ve contributed six alchemy-inspired tales to date (four for the Heroes in Hell series and two for Heroika) that all integrate Egyptian myths.

Who is your hero and why?

I have many personal heroes and role models, but my mind goes to sharing the heroes of this featured story: “Lovers Sans Phalli”. There are two! I have adopted the duo of Howard Carter (renowned archaeologist and looter of King Tutankhamun’s tomb) and Ernst Haeckel (discredited evolutionist and original ‘ecologist’) as tour guides for several Heroes in Hell stories. Why use them as protagonists? Both are deceased explorers who sought to unveil mysteries that resonate with my alchemical inspirations.

Their motives contrast: Carter adores material, artificial wealth as much as Haeckel is fascinated with nature’s riches. They roam the Egyptian world of the dead, Duat. Introduced in Pirates in Hell, the conflicted duo has four connected, yet stand alone, adventures (so far 😊): 

  • “Curse of the Pharaohs” in Pirates in Hell
  • “Lovers Sans Phalli” in Lovers in Hell  
  • “Fool’s Gold? in Mystics in Hell 
  • “Bait and Switch” in Liars in Hell

 

What inspired you to write “Lovers Sans Phalli”?

Given the anthology theme of ‘lovers’ and given my heroes are damned to Duat, I researched relevant myths for inspiration and locked onto that of Osiris’s murder.  Osiris was the Egyptian god of fertility and afterlife who was dismembered by his brother Set. Osiris’ wife Isis collected his body parts, including his sacred phallus, to enable the conception and birth of their son Horus.

For “Lovers Sans Phalli”, a dozen cursed pharaohs (all named Ramses) team with the infamous, tomb-raiding Howard Carter and discredited evolutionist Ernst Haeckel to repair the penis-less Osiris (who has no sovereignty presently in a realm ruled by Satan). It’s fun to have Carter and Haeckel deal with getting calibrated to being ‘dead’ (with ‘bodies’ that may not be whole in the ‘living’ sense) as they seek out the sacred penis. Of course, serious themes are buried under wild predicaments and satire. The reflective Haeckel considers ‘Are genitalia need for love?’  while Howard Carter, ever the opportunist, wonders: ‘How much is a god’s penis worth on the black-market?’

What is your advice to new authors?

Experiment with non-writing roles that bring a high return on investment to better your craft.

An issue (feature?) with writing today is that authors cannot exclusively write; they are compelled to be marketers, reviewers, editors, reviewers, etc. Every role has an opportunity cost (all that energy could be spent elsewhere). So, the question is: what efforts (beyond writing) can one perform that provide as many benefits as possible? Most include participating in larger communities.

A decade ago, I began interviewing authors to learn from them and to share their experiences/perspectives; that led to publishing opportunities and networking. Also, reviewing books helped me learn about new markets, while connecting with editors and publishers when I shared those reviews. I’m not keen enough to create content via podcasts, but that is obviously another way to simultaneously network while bettering one’s craft. Attending & volunteering at conventions is another way. I’ve attended World Fantasy Convention and GenCon Writer’s Symposium (GCWS), eventually participating on panels and have been on the organizing committee for three years now (chairing in 2023; next one is early August 2024, in Indianapolis). Not only are these great ways to meet/listen to panels with authors you can learn from, but volunteering at conventions allows for direct access to all sorts of folks in the industry (publishers, illustrators, editors). Writing/Reading groups (either in-person local clubs or online ones like Goodreads) offer community & opportunities too.


Includes:

Never Doubt I Love – Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Love Interrupted –  Nancy Asire

Lovers Sans Phalli – S. E. Lindberg

Fume of Sighs – Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Calamity – Michael E. Dellert

Love Triangle – Michael H. Hanson

A Hand of Four Queens – A. L. Butcher

Devil’s Trull – Andrew P. Weston

Withering Blights – Joe Bonadonna

Wrath of Love – Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Excerpt from Hell Gate – Andrew P. Weston

 

**On Sale for Only $2.99 until the end of the month!**

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Unchained Melody

 Melt your heart with these heartwarming love stories ON SALE for a limited time!

Unchained Melody

Love Song Standards Book 1

by Cynthia Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Romance

A heartwarming second chance love story.

Pamela Landers has it all, a senior partnership with a top law firm, an expensive car, and a luxurious condo. What she desires most is a loving husband, children, and a life filled with precious memories that will comfort her through her golden years. So far, that has all evaded her.

Funny how fate has a way of steering you down that path where dreams really can come true. When Pamela encounters Gavin Templeton during a much-needed getaway, she's faced with a life-altering challenge that could change her life forever. The question is, does she take a leap of faith or turn and walk away?

**On Sale Now for only $2.99 until the 29th!!**

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29001547-unchained-melody


Strangers in the Night

Love Song Standards Book 2


A second chance love story.

What happens when two strangers meet in a crowded bar on a Caribbean vacation and one is disinterested, while the other is totally intrigued? Fate happens. Only one role will play out in the end. It will lead to either a happy ending, or simply a chance meeting tucked away in a memory book.

John Rinaldi, doesn't want to be just a memory. He's determined to win the heart of the beautiful and elusive, Samantha Michaels.

She not only captured his interest, but she proves to be a woman he's determined to have in his life forever. She just doesn't know it yet.

**On Sale Now for only $2.99 until the 29th!!**

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29469497-strangers-in-the-night


For Once In My Life

Love Song Standards Book 3


A small town military romance.

Christina Morandt spent most of her young adult life perfecting her talent and then performing worldwide as the prima ballerina for the Savannah Ballet Theatre. When she decides to retire at the peak of her career, she returns to Savannah to open her own dance studio and settle into a life of comfort and solitude. Captain Garret Rickford is a seasoned Apache helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army, who is awarded a head instructor position at the Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia after serving four tours carrying out assault and rescue missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.

He returns home, while secretly battling the haunting traumas of war and the death of his dearest friend and fellow comrade. She was raised on a horse ranch in Wyoming. He was raised in the Highlands of Scotland. They were opposites in so many ways, each never expecting to cross paths with the other. But, they did, and when the spark of attraction ignited, there was no extinguishing the passion once it flamed out of control.

**On Sale Now for only $2.99 until the 29th!!**

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29757166-for-once-in-my-life



Can’t Help Falling in Love

Love Song Standards Book 4


A small
town suspenseful romance.

Love has a way of coming back full circle even, if it takes a decade to do so.

Steven Logan returns to the hometown of his youth as a successful Aerospace Engineer with NASA.

Jennifer Moore, his high school sweetheart, finds herself the first-grade teacher to his adorable son Joshua.

From the moment they're reunited, they find it hard to deny the attraction that still exists between them.

Steven's past though proves daunting, threatening any chance for a reunion, when his x-wife returns under guise to turn their worlds upside down.

Karen Logan gave up her marriage wilingly to chase the bright lights that fame was offering. That is, until she fails and decides it's easier to try and cash in on Steven's success at the expense of their son. When Karen attempts to kidnap, Joshua, Jennifer too is forced to comply as a tagalong, and she does everything in her power to keep Joshua safe, while trying to outsmart the psychopath holding them both hostage.

Can't Help Falling In Love is a compelling and heart-wrenching story that shows how strong the bonds of love can prove when pitted against greed and the lust for power.


**On Sale Now for only $2.99 until the 29th!!**

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30618231-can-t-help-falling-in-love


At Last

Love Song Standards Book 5



A firefighter romance.

 Chance meetings happen when you least expect. Georgie Michaelson always picks the wrong guy. Well, that is, until a chance meeting throws the right one her way.

Kyle Matthews has it all: striking good looks, a body that sets women's hearts a flutter, and a honorable job. Their attraction is undeniable. But, because Kyle is a fireman, Georgie is fearful of his dangerous job and afraid to commit and listen to her heart.

Will she allow her fears to pull them apart and ruin their chance for happiness at last? Or,will love triumph after all?

**On Sale Now for only $2.99 until the 29th!!**

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Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01IE35M02

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/at-last-love-song-standards-book-5-by-cynthia-roberts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31215454-at-last


Chances Are

Love Song Standards Book 6



An unsuspecting small town romance.

What happens, when two people from different cultures meet, and an attraction ignites?

Micha Mulaney is a proud, traditional, and independent woman. She not only manages the entire West Wing at Cresthaven Senior Home, but owns and co-operates Pine Ridge Stables & Breeders, along with her full-blooded Oglala Sioux mother on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Ayden Keller, hails from a prominent South Dakota family, heads the family business as its CEO, and the grandson of a recuperating resident now housed on Micha's wing.

Matriarch, Maggie Keller, is a matchmaker at heart. She adores Micha and destined to point the two young, unsuspecting adults in the right direction. Were their chances for that forever kind of love happening between them awfully good? Chances are that love finds a way every time.


**On Sale Now for only $2.99 until the 29th!!**

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Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01IQA9OTS

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/chances-are-love-song-standards-book-6-by-cynthia-roberts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31215530-chances-are


About the Author


I was an avid reader of romance fiction before I could follow my dream of becoming a published author later on in life.  My last three jobs, which forced me into early retirement were due to a failed economy and leaders making terrible financial choices that victimized many. It took nearly twenty hard-knock years before beginning that journey. If not for those life-changing and painful detours, however, I never would have known how to create the raw, human, emotion I want my readers to feel during their journey into my make-believe world of contemporary, historical, and suspense romance fiction.  

You'll find my characters relatable, flawed, sometimes wounded, and broken who eventually find what we all seek during our short time on this Earth ... a deep connection of being understood and accepted, and most of all, loved by a companion completely with their heart and soul. I write about  life, the hard knocks we all experience at one point in our lives, and the lessons we can learn from them.  But most importantly, I invite you to join me and be prepared to laugh, cry, and hopefully be inspired in some small way.

Facebook * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cynthia.Roberts.Author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/romanceauthorcynthiaroberts

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roberts-714c6b3f-f398-4d59-a58f-8374c6705265

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Cynthia-Roberts/author/B001KCK0U2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3433035.Cynthia_Roberts

   

Giveaway

ebook set of all 6 books!,

$10 Amazon giftcard – 1 winner each

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

https://bit.ly/LoveSongStandardsTour


Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone

Once Upon a Princess Book 1

by Deborah A. Bailey

Genre: Fairy Tale Fantasy Romance



For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love, a wise and discerning princess trusts her heart and falls in love with the unlikeliest of princes.


In the ruins of a country destroyed by a curse. Princess Leesa goes looking for a way to help her people. Desperate to find an item of value to trade for supplies, she trespasses into an abandoned palace.

There, she finds more than she bargained for when she encounters a lonely Gargoyle who offers to provide her with everything she needs, for a price.

A gargoyle, Willem is dreadfully lonely and longing for human companionship. Promising the beautiful Leesa riches, he begs her to stay with him for a time. With so many to provide for, she can't refuse and soon learns that looks can be deceiving. The steep price to be paid to break the spell that cursed him into existence as a gargoyle may be more than Leesa is willing or able to pay.

But her choice offers no second chances: Either she gains back what she's been mourning or she loses everything she's ever wanted…forever.

 For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love with shapeshifters, wise and discerning princesses trust their hearts instead of their eyes and fall in love with the unlikeliest of princes.

Interview

 Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I’ve always loved to write, and I started writing regularly when I was a teen. But my publishing career didn’t begin until I started writing and selling short stories as an adult. Currently I work as a tech writer which is an entirely different type of writing. So I have to balance my creative w3riting with much less creative writing during the day.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Meditation is a big help to unwind after a stressful day. Something else I enjoy is listening to audiobooks and podcasts.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Creative, inquisitive, coffee-lover

What can we expect from you in the future?

At the moment I have three novellas in drafts, so there’s a lot more coming. Since I love writing fantasy and futuristic stories, my upcoming books will be part of those genres. And, of course, one of my upcoming books is another fairytale inspired fantasy story.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

If I’m writing regularly, it takes me about three months from start to finish. That includes developing the idea, developing characters, writing drafts and editing. Unfortunately, when things come up I don’t always stay on track, so my timelines may end up being longer. Since I’m a “pantser” and not a plotter, though, story development may take more time.

Do you see writing as a career?

The thing is, writing can take many forms. For instance, I used to be a copywriter years ago, and then after a couple of career changes I became a tech writer. So you could say I do have a writing career that is split between different types of writing. But as far as a creative writing career, sure I’d love to do that fulltime. In the meantime, though, I think I have a good balance.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

If I’m writing regularly, it takes me about three months from start to finish. That includes developing the idea, developing characters, writing drafts and editing. Unfortunately when things come up I don’t always stay on track, so my timelines may end up being longer. Since I’m a “pantser” and not a plotter, though, story development may take more time.

 

EXCERPT


**On Sale for Only .99cents!!**

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36386673-heart-of-stone

 

Beauty and the Faun

Once Upon a Princess Book  2

 


 

In this short and sexy "fairy tale" paranormal romance novella, a princess finds that love with a shifter hero is not without complications – but there is always a happily-ever-after.

One complete novella. No cliffhangers. Mature readers only.

Kayla, a poor young woman runs away when her rich uncle and aunt arrange her marriage to a shifter prince from another land. Her uncle needs gold to settle his debts and the king is offering a great reward if he can obtain a willing bride for his son.

But Kayla's plans to hide in the Great Forest hit a snag when two mischievous fauns find her and deliver her to a very sexy faun shifter who is ready to teach Kayla a thing or two about life and love.

 

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Land of Dreams

Once Upon a Princess Book 3

 


Formula for Fairy Tale Love: 1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After.

In the rich and fertile land called Montrose, humans and creatures of magic exist together in a complex web of harmony…and deceit.

Willem was created of magic and trapped in the Land of Dreams by a curse in which he shared his gargoyle form with Eduardo. When Eduardo freed himself from the evil spell his jealous half-brother Erokan cast on him, Willem survived and was given a new life by the faeries. Haunted by the duality of his previous existence as well as the woman he and Eduardo both fell in love with while hexed, Willem, now a gargoyle shifter, meets the daughter of Lord Montrose. Compassionate, graceful and adamant about marrying for love and not riches, Cicely is far more wondrous than her outside beauty suggests. Suddenly, everything he's ever wanted is within his grasp. But he isn't the only man who longs to capture her.

Aware that Cicely descends from the royal line and was hidden away as a child to keep her magical ability a secret, a mysterious stranger intends to bend the powerful fire elemental to his will. To succeed, he has only to dominate Willem, still anguished by the curse that trapped him…and easily beguiled by a fair princess.

Cicely knows she possesses magical ability, but her origins are a mystery even to her. She loves her family and her land. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to awakening…or unleashing…something formidable buried deep inside her.


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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49276512-once-upon-a-princess

 

About the Author


Deborah A Bailey's Romantic Fantasy & Futuristic stories include a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. She's the author of multiple novels and her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers' Conference and have been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun and are included in, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. She's the author of non-fiction books, and articles for various online publications,

Visit her site https://authordebbailey.com for more information and subscribe to the newsletter here: https://eepurl.com/bokGdX to be the first to find out about giveaways, book launches and sneak peeks.

 

Website * Facebook * X * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

 

Author Links

Website: https://authordebbailey.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeborahAB

X: https://twitter.com/AuthorDeborahB

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authordeborahb

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/deborah-a-bailey

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Deborah-A-Bailey/author/B003MD0J4Y

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4162297.Deborah_A_Bailey

 

Giveaway

$20 Amazon

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

https://bit.ly/OnceUponAPrincessTour


 

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