Tweaked the Ebook Cover for The Lost Librarians Grave

I tweaked the ebook cover for The Lost Librarian’s Grave a bit. I’m planning on uploading it to Amazon this weekend. As I mentioned in the Redwood Press blog post, suggestions and feedback are always welcome.

Redwood Press

Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology, which is good because October will be here before we know it. Today I tweaked the ebook cover a little, giving the gargoyle a bit of an aura or glowing effect, as well as a few other things.

I also decided to put some author names on the cover. It was very hard to decide* so the three of us each picked our favorite story–none of us liked the same one the best. This was easy for Don, a bit harder for Occasum, and very hard for me because I liked all the stories and had several favorites for differing reasons.

Then I added another author because I have misspelled their name now about a dozen times, and while not a huge deal it seemed a way of balancing the scales and achieving some literary Maat. Finally…

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666 Dark Drabbles: An anthology from Black Hare Press.

666 is the eleventh title of the Dark Drabbles series of books, published by Black Hare Press out of Melbourne, Australia.* My magnificent contribution to this collection is a 100 word piece entitled “Azazel’s Heart,” which I came up with a couple of years ago. I recently rewrote the drabble to give it a more infernal flavor, what with the title of the book and all.

“Azazel’s Heart” is something of an epistolary** tale of sorcery and revenge set in the same vaguely post modern milieu I often use as a backdrop for some of my other stories.

I was casting around for a devil’s name to use and I came up with a few names, and then I thought of Azazel. Now, this devil is associated with various things, including the idea of a scapegoat and also forbidden knowledge, but in modern times this mighty fiend is perhaps best known as the dark patron of miniature painters, who ardently wish to both achieve a high output and excellent quality for their creations. So, Azazel it was!

I liked the cover when I first saw it, though my first reaction was, “Poor bunny!”***

Now I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly interested when I first heard of drabbles some years ago. A drabble is a type of flash fiction where one tells a story in exactly a hundred words. I had all sorts of objections, which I won’t go into here. Eventually I came around to where I put my objections aside and now enjoy both reading and writing in this form.

Reading, because I like to wind down with a book for about a half-hour each night before I go to sleep but sometimes I’m too tired to read that long or with much attention, so I go to one of the many books of drabbles I now have in my collection and read three or four selections before sliding into a hideous yet strangely restful dreamland.****

Also, it is fun to see how others paint a picture and tell a story within the limits of this form. To my thinking, a properly written drabble is not just a scene or a slice-of-life, it is a small story. That is where both the challenge and the fun lie.

Writing, for many reasons–too many to go into all of them here. A few are:

  • I enjoy the challenge of trying to tell a story in exactly 100 words, which I think is the main attraction for many people.
  • I like exploring an idea by writing a drabble and then seeing if any longer work comes from it. Lately, I’ve been writing drabbles in the same “universe” or along the same theme with a longer story. The idea is the drabbles and the longer story stand together, while still being able to stand apart as a coherent whole.
  • I use drabbles as a way to catalogue ideas to take a look at them later, while still producing something that is (hopefully) interesting.
  • Drabbles are a nice way to have some fun with writing when one is busy. Too often I have gone long periods of time without writing because of some other large project or ongoing responsibility that is dominating my life at the time.

* Australia is one of those countries I’ve always wanted to visit, ever since I was a kid. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I hope to once travel becomes easier and I figure out a plan to deal with that ubiquitous terror of German backpackers all over the continent–the dreaded Brown-Legged Kidney Huntsman! (Be warned about the K.H. link, it is most definitely NSFW in so many ways, lol.) I’m sure Pat has had to dodge these monstrosities more than once in his travels!

** The story is taken, in part, from what might be a page in a diary.

*** Zeus, our infernal (note the sanguineous Evil Eye!) bunny from the early 2000s, whose great claim to fame was he was featured in a pet magazine–the name of which I can’t recall–with national distribution, isn’t sure what he thinks of the 666 cover. I really liked the art, as I said, but I can see why my favorite fiendish lagomorph has mixed feelings on the issue.

**** Certain others in my household like having physical, rather than electronic, books of drabbles laying around for “bathroom reading.”

Writing Prompt #6: Book in a Tree

This writing prompt is from a recent hike that I wrote about in a recent work out post. Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology. We’re hammer and tongs with editing, wrangling comma splices and irregular verbs with wild abandon.

Redwood Press

Today’s writing prompt comes from a hike we recently did where I found a book stuck up in a tree, which I thought was a little unusual—especially since it sat there for three weeks. The talented painter, Dave Stone, gave me the idea for this writing prompt with a comment he made on my personal blog about the Book in a Tree. Thanks, Dave!

Produce a piece of writing or art that is inspired by this picture of a book in a tree.

For bonus points, choose any book, place it in a tree and mediate for a minute or two, clearing your mind. Then randomly pick 2D6 different words from the text and work those words into your story.*

If you come up with a piece of writing using this prompt, let me know about it in the comments: I’d like to read it. You can also use…

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“Little Paranoias” horror anthology by Sonora Taylor free on Amazon through July 30th

From the Redwood Press blog.

Redwood Press

Sonora Taylor is making Little Paranoias, her 2019 collection of short horror fiction available for free on Amazon until midnight (Pacific Time) on July 30th. I downloaded the e-book myself yesterday and have added it to my ever-growing reading list.

Click here to download Little Paranoias for free through July 30th.

About Little Paranoias:

Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?

“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear —…

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“Valhalla is a Lie” by Benjamin Thomas chosen for The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror anthology

We signed our first author for the anthology. I posted this on the Redwood Press site and am reblogging it over here.

Redwood Press

Don and I are pleased to announce that Benjamin Thomas’ excellent short story, “Valhalla is a Lie,” will appear in The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology.

As Benjamin says himself, nothing like a “little valkyrie-inspired wasteland horror due out right before Halloween!” We agree, nothing says Halloween quite like murderous valkyries.

 Benjamin is a fellow New Englander and his short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications. His medical thriller and crime novel, Jack Be Quick, is available from Owl Hollow Press.

We will be announcing some more signings next week, including some poetry and possibly a couple more stories.

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Started new site for Redwood Press

I’ve been working on a site for Redwood Press, which is going to be the name we publish under. I plan on continuing to post writing updates here but I wanted a separate place where I’m not also talking about miniatures, working out or recipes. My husband and I made a long list of names and decided on Redwood mainly because we live near redwoods and love them. Not sure that is a good basis for a name but there you have it.

Below is the general logo I plan on using for now. The website is pretty small, since this is the beginning, but like anything else it will grow in time.

I put up some writer’s guidelines and much to my surprise this morning I had over 50 stories in my inbox and I’ve gotten another 12 today so far. That was encouraging and a much greater response than I anticipated for the day after going live.

I’ve been pretty busy with this but I have managed to pick away a little each day on the Paint the Crap You Already Own! roundup. I hope to have it done by the end of the month or at the latest before the current Solstice painting challenge closes.

Have some painters coming tomorrow to paint three rooms where we tore out the carpet and put down faux wood flooring. That seems like a good time to go find a corner somewhere amongst the piles of stuff, that we had to take out of our rooms, and read some stories. Hope one of them is a really good gargoyle tale!

The Lost Librarian’s Grave: Gargoyle Cover

The sense that I’m getting is the gargoyle cover is the most popular of the original three both from the comments I’ve seen on this blog and from running them by people I know, who don’t read the blog. So I did some tweaks over the weekend on the gargoyle covers and this is what I’ve come up with so far.

I fiddled around with some filters and made the gargoyle and rusty reptiles a little more vibrant, which I like better than the original. The cover on the far right is the same one from the original post but with said filters applied. Dave of Faith & Steel, when he was commenting on the original covers, wrote that he was “ambivalent” on the framing of the original picture. I thought about what he said and decided it would be fun to get rid of the framing and see how it looked.

I’m not sure which one I currently like the best, but the one on the left, where I took out the stone background, does seem like I could put a small block of text in the middle right area. Perhaps a list of some of the authors or something like that. I don’t know if I will do that, assuming I go with that design, but it is something to think about.

If anyone has any further ideas or observations about the covers, I welcome your comments.*

Imagine being petrified but fully aware in this form for hundreds of years!**

I kind of have gargoyles on the brain now. I’ve been trying to think of some good short stories that I’ve read featuring gargoyles and I have to admit that nothing comes to mind. I even went back through my reading diary, where I’ve been keeping track of my reading since 2010 — nothing there either.

I did find a couple of things on Amazon. The first is a short story called “The Beast Within” by D.F. Holland, that I was able to download for free. I’ll probably read that tonight. The second is a collection by Clark Ashton Smith called The Maker of Gargoyles and Other Stories. Some of the reviewers say it isn’t his best work, but I am considering picking up the e-book anyway since I’m a fan of Smith. Especially his poetry.

My next steps with the anthology are to continue work on the new website and to put together some writer’s guidelines. Speaking of guidelines, I’ll have to remember to mention that I’d love to read some gargoyle stories. Hope everyone is doing well.


* Thank you to everyone who responded thus far. I value and appreciate your opinions.

** Photo of “Gargoyles Magdalen College Oxford England” by Chris Creagh. I made no changes. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribuion-Share Alike 3.0.

“The Lost Librarian’s Grave” Horror Anthology

I have been setting the wheels in motion toward starting a small press where I publish speculative fiction in e-book and possibly print formats. The first effort will be a short story anthology with the unlikely title of The Lost Librarian’s Grave. The collection will feature stories of “doom, sorcery and premature burial,” which are themes dear to my Chaos Lady heart.

I put together three front covers this afternoon and thought I’d share them and ask which (if any) works the best. I would very much appreciate your opinion, if you have one! As usual, if you click on an image you’ll see a larger version.

My next moves involve working on another WordPress site specifically dedicated to my publishing efforts and also some writer’s guidelines so I can put the word out to writers, who might be interested in sending me their work. I will smile favorably on science horror, dark fantasy and the like because there are many dark jewels that are horror stories, mined by solitary dwarves, hideous in their waxing greed … tales of loss and murder plucked on harps by spurned lovers wringing out their hearts in songs of revenge and regret, and weird fantasies of sentient, well, you get the idea.

The plan is to release The Lost Librarian’s Grave in late September or early October. Such tales seem apropos for the upcoming season.

Painting-wise, I’ve started putting together the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up. These round-up’s end up being pretty sizeable so I’ve found the best and most fun way to do them (like publishing as it turns out) is to work a little on them each day.

Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2020

I wrote an article for the 2020 edition of The Gongfarmer’s Almanac, which is an annual fan produced publication celebrating Goodman Games’ roleplaying games — particularly Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics.* I also helped edit three of the articles as well. The book is available as a free PDF download, so that is nice. I loosen the old purse strings for a hardcover copy for my collection, which is handy because it was a fun read and weighing in at a hefty 792 pages I used it to press tofu a few times before getting a tofu press for Christmas.

I like the art in the book. It has an old school feel that reminds me of some of the art I saw in roleplaying products back in the 1970’s and early ’80’s. Below is the dust jacket for the book.

Dust cover photo used by permission of Shyloh Wideman.

The book is a compilation of ready to use adventures, new classes, monsters, rules, tables and so on. My article is called “Another Man’s Trash,” which features a table of 100 different small, mostly junky, cast off items one might find during an adventure. The idea is to provide the Dungeon Master with a resource to generate some unique items when his players search around instead of having to come up with something off the top of his head or just saying, “You find 16 copper pieces and a bunch of junk.” The DM can pick an item he fancies or roll percentile dice. The choices range from the mundane to the bizarre.

A few examples of items you might find are:

  • Hardwood baby rattle shapped like a pig on a stick. Has been chewed on, probably by an infant with very sharp, little teeth.
  • Firesteel ring from a tinderbox set, in a pouch of moldy tinder.
  • Top part of the shell from a medium box turtle. “Achilles won the race at last,” is scratched on the inside part.
  • A single crossbow bolt that is completely black. The hunting tip is bent as if it hit a bone or punched through heavy armor.
  • Ball of yellow wax bigger than a hobgoblin’s head. Wrapped in cheesecloth. (An earwax collection amassed over many years!)

Many of the items are junk but a few are intrinsically valuable and many of them can be put to some unexpected uses by clever players.

The talented Matt Sutton drew the interior art for my article. He is a versatile artist and I think he also has a special gift for drawing dwarves. Our one-eyed friend is apparently showing off a chunk from an earwax collection he found (number 40 on the table).

Artwork used by permission of Matt Sutton.

Note that the article includes sub-tables allowing for cursed or blessed items or even items that are both cursed and blessed! So, with the right rolls one might get an earwax collection or some other item that is blessed to make a similar copy of itself once a week but also brings the possessor to the evil notice of a powerful devil. (Maybe the earwax collection was hers?)

I hope to contribute to the 2021 Almanac when the time comes. Perhaps another table of items one can find? Maybe something different next time, such as treasures, or in the same vein as “Another Man’s Trash,” so our DM has 200 items to choose from or maybe instead themed for the post-apocalyptic Mutant Crawl Classics game?

On a final, unrelated note, I’ve been having problems getting image captions to center with the block editor, so I had just stopped using captions. I do like my captions so this has annoyed me for awhile and based on what I’ve read on other blogs I’m not the only one who has this problem. I found this little tutorial that allowed me to easily solve the problem. As you can see from this post I now have lovely, centered captions. (At least they are centered on my machine!) I hope some of you reading this find it useful.


* I had no idea what a “gong farmer” was until I became interested in Goodman Games products and noticed this almanac. All I can say is it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

Sloth: Anthology from “Seven Deadly Sins” series.

Sloth is the third title of an anthology of short stories and micro fiction published by Black Hare Press out of Melbourne, Australia. The first two books in the series are Pride and Lust respectively.* I received a copy in the mail a fair time ago and I think that it is keeping with the theme of the anthology that I’m only posting this now. I’m sure the banana slugs from a few days ago would agree!

My small contribution to this colorful book was a quick, two page piece of micro fiction entitled, “I Want My Blanket,” where the denizens of the underworld gather upon the Plains of Paradox to witness a competition among imps with the prize being promotion to full devil and service with the Grand Devil itself. (Best not to dwell too much on the fates of the losers!)

The story came from a 2019 Halloween prompt where one was supposed to write a very short story that included a list of certain words such as “ominous” and the like.

I’m still reading Sloth and so far I would characterize some of the stories as straight Horror with shocking elements, exploration of the unknown or taboos and so on, while others seem more in the realm of dark fantasy or like the story I read last night, “The Last Stand” by Jo Mularczyk, dystopian science fiction. The tone of the stories varies, ranging from somewhat gritty to playful.

Now I don’t want to say too much more because this post isn’t meant to be a book review, since I don’t think it is seemly for me to review a book I have a piece of writing in. Even if it is only a two page curio touching upon the formalities of infernals. That said, my favorite stories so far have been “Death Care” by A.R. Dean and “One Hit Wonder” by A.L. King.

  • Publisher: Black Hare Press
  • Editors: Ben Thomas & D. Kershaw
  • Horror Short Story Anthology, released 2020
  • Available Formats: Hard Cover, Paperback, Kindle eBook
  • Hard Cover Pages: 447
  • Find Book on Amazon

* Book four, Envy, has also been released. As I understand, the next book in the seven book series will be Greed.