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.”

“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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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.

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.

Forgotten Ones Anthology, Bigfoots & Bugbears

Somewhere in the dissolving folds and mists of space-time, between obsessing over getting my 20 poxwalkers done in less than three years and finishing an Etsy bugbear before the current painting challenge closes on May 3rd, I received my author’s copy of Forgotten Ones, published by Eeire River Publishing out of Ontario, Canada, and it is currently available on Amazon.

Forgotten Ones is a collection of two hundred drabbles featuring “creatures of lore, and ancient rituals,” and happily (for me) four of these tiny tales came from my pen.*

Brass Cat and Carrot Foot would both give Forgotten Ones a thumbs up, if they had thumbs!

I see a number Lovecraft-inspired titles as well as Norse, Greek, Mayan, Biblical references and more as I hold the book in my right hand and scan through the table of contents while I one-finger type this with my left.  (Not bad if I say so myself and I do!)

I’ve written quite a few of these drabbles over the past year or so.  I’ve noticed that with a little practice one develops a knack for hitting pretty close to one hundred words on the first couple of tries.  Sometimes a drabble will lead me into writing a longer story and other times I’m content, like Poe and many others, to leave at least one character screaming out their remaining existence in a wet tomb, whether that be a literal one or a sarcophagus of the imagination and so on.**  

My Forgotten Ones drabbles feature such innovations as a change of viewpoint in an iconic scene from The Odyssey and another was inspired by my general reading about Hellenistic mystery religions/schools.  Then there is the magician in north Africa in danger of being (deservedly though I’m sure he’d disagree!) burned alive … but wait, look, the sky it, it … Eieee! … and my personal favorite of the four, “Robin Never Finished Her Bigfoot Video.”***

I think turning from bigfeet to bugbears makes for a nice segue, don’t you?  I’ve been continuing to make progress on my Etsy Work-in-Progress bugbear that I want to get done before my Paint the Crap You Already Own! painting challenge wraps up on May 3rd.  I completed the base coat colors for all three mace-and-shield bugbears a few days ago and decided to finish at least one to go along with poxwalker #18.

April 20, 2020: Put some base colors on my trio of mace-wielding bugbears

The first time I heard the word “bugbear” was when as a child I heard someone say that something was his bugbear and I thought he meant it was his pet and wondered what a bear that was a bug or bug that was a bear looked like.  Although it was lost as far as I know in the aforementioned mists of space-time, I drew a bugbear in grade school art class not long after.  I remember it looked like a bear and I gave it the head of an ant because at that time (and I still do!) I liked ants quite a lot.

I later on discovered bugbears figured in folklore and then later on, when I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons, they figured there too as a type of large “goblinoid” that was violent – no real surprise there – and stealthy – considering their bulk a bit more surprising – and not too smart but possessed of a low cunning.****

WIP Bugbear One on April 24, 2020.

To the best of my knowledge bugbears first appeared in D&D with the publication of the Greyhawk supplement, where there is a (to me) silly picture of a furry, ogre-like creature with a tomato, pumpkin or some other such vegetable for a head.

Bugbears really came into their own to my thinking in AD&D some time later and I used them as antagonists quite a bit back then.  I also went through an Anne of Green Gables phase after reading the book.  Naturally this culminated, at its height, with my playing a bugbear ranger-type character, Anneglak, who ran around helping people, even though they initially misunderstood her what with being an eight foot tall bugbear.  Anneglak later considered herself the protector of the Green Forest, and I patterned the way she talked and such after the eponymous Anne Shirley.

Let’s hope the bigfoots don’t start getting organized!

Gosh, it is hard to believe now that I was ever so young.  Then again, it turned out that character, as silly as it all seems now, was beloved by the DM and other players.  Years later, I was talking to one of my fellow players from back then and she asked if I “still had Anneglak’s character sheet.”  I was impressed that she still remembered the character’s name!

Happy memories but back to now.  My current painting plan is to finish up my first bugbear before the end of April.  Maybe even poxwalker #19 too, but don’t hold me to it.  After that I’ll probably continue with my recent painting innovation of actually finishing up projects before moving on to something else and paint the other two for May.

This is the picture that inspired Anneglak.

* A drabble is a 100 word story.  Also see flash fiction for more information on this topic.  For “pen” read “keyboard.”

** Like Poe, Lovecraft, and many others I have a soft spot for burying people alive in my writing.  I’m reminded of that practice, apparently common not so long ago, of having a little bell on one’s grave plot with a connecting string into the coffin so if you end up waking up after the funeral and all of your nearest and dearest have gotten about their business of fighting over your will, you can at least hope someone can hear you.  This is especially important given that cell phones often lose their signal when you are buried in a coffin six feet under the earth.

***  I’ve always had a soft spot for bigfeet ever since I saw one on The Six Million Dollar Man.  Even more so now that my current home is among the redwoods on the California coast where (according to the local bigfoot museum) Sasquatch is alive and well.

 

Organic Ink 2 … and Dwarves

I was quite pleased to receive my author copies of Organic Ink, Volume 2, a poetry anthology from Dragon Soul Press.  I’m happy that the editors decided to include a bunch of my poems, including a longish one that I was hoping would find a home: “The War of the Jar.”

Yep, it’s February and the Christmas stuff is still up.

I read some of Hesiod’s work as a child and that was the second place I had heard the Pandora’s Box myth.  (I think the first place might have been Rocky & Bullwinkle.)  A few months ago, I happened to be in the middle of re-reading the bit about Hesiod’s five ages of Man in his Works and Days when I decided that it would be fun to write a longish poem set in the third or “bronze” age, and work in a somewhat different version of Pandora than the one I read/heard about growing up.

I’m thinking of doing some other Ages poems.  There is going to be an Organic Ink Volume 3, so if I’m happy with whatever I come up with then I’ll give them first shot at it since they were kind enough to print the first one.  That, and it would be fun (if I can pull it off!) to have all my Ages of Men poems appear in the same series of anthologies.

Thinking the one on the left is a wizard who casts spells from his enchanted blunderbuss!

I haven’t been playing Warhammer 40K, so I haven’t really felt much of an urge to paint more miniatures for that game in awhile.  I have been playing Dungeons & Dragons lately, so I decided to try some of those and ended up with these dwarves off of Etsy.

I wanted miniatures that were inexpensive and had some detail, but were still pretty basic and not hard to paint.  They had to not be fragile, which means being resin they can’t have thin bits that easily break.  (Especially since other people would be handling them.)  These guys at $9.99, including shipping, for a pack of six met all of my expectations.

The dwarf with the beer says, “Hey, you did say this was an adventuring PARTY!”

I’m not sure if these guys would fit into anyone’s upcoming painting challenge, but I am going to try and get the top four dwarves done this month or during March at the latest.  I am thinking of running a one session D&D game where a bunch of dwarves explore a dungeon, and the characters will be based off of these miniatures.

I also bought some goblins, bugbears and some other stuff from (I think) the same seller on Etsy.  I’ve primed the dwarves since I took these pictures and will prime a rust monster when I get home later today.

Next time I plan on getting the third issue of The Dragon Egg Gazette out.  After that, perhaps I’ll have some painted miniatures to show off.

Scary Snippets Christmas Edition Released

I’ve had a bounce in my step for awhile now what with getting some of my very short fiction out there in the world.  One of those putting-bounce-in-my-step moments was placing a short story called “Turkey Day” with the good folks at Suicide House Publishing for their holiday offering Scary Snippets: Christmas Edition.*

I received two copies of the book the other day and am looking forward to reading it.  All of the stories are very short (hence “snippets”), between 100 and 600 words.  Naturally, being a Lady of Chaos Undivided I went for excess and made sure I used all 600 words.

Reindeer is tired of being used as a book rest and thinks duck needs to take a turn.**

Monsters and mayhem, by a goodly number of authors, include such things as cannibalism (tasty presented of course), Yule Cat, Revenge of the Christmas trees, and I am pleased to report that mine wasn’t the only story with zombies.

I must confess that my zombies were an oblique feature rather than the main attraction of Turkey Day.  One possible theme for my story might be that people are just a little too hard to impress these days and it’s a damned shame.  Whatever the case, I’m one of those people (currently anyway) who usually looks for a theme after I’ve finished my work rather than when I’m writing it.

Bird thinks the Thanksgiving Day ones are the scariest for obvious reasons!

In other news, I was the dungeon master for a Dungeons & Dragons game yesterday, which went pretty well.  I haven’t DMed in many years and I was a little nervous going in, but everyone said they had fun and are looking forward to once again visiting the Enchanted Forest, so I’m pretty pleased.

Finally, I have a sorry little tale (pun not intended) about my cat catching a mouse.  That will be for next time.  I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Christmas Bird Clip Art

*  Suicide House Publishing has since changed its name to Nocturnal Sirens Publishing.

** My mother made the little clothespin angel, which I thought was cute, and put it in this year’s Christmas box.  Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Cthulhu Pie and update on Organic Ink

My husband has been on a pie making kick lately for his vegan/plant-based weight loss Youtube Channel.  I’ve been (not surprisingly as a confirmed omnivore) enjoying the fruits of his labors.  He sent me this jewel, which though he didn’t make it he said he sure wish he had.  I’m sure most of you reading this can see why and I’m sure glad he sent me this picture.  It’s Cthulhuicious:)

“In his pie at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu dreams for whipped cream.”

I had more than I wanted to share, but as it turns out I burned most of my time today working on my Wattpad writing and composing a little promotional doggerel to put in a section of the chapbook I’ve spent most of October and some of November working on:  Thirty-One Days of Darkness with the idea of having one offering for each day of October.

Someone suggested that I ought to shoehorn in a small advertisement for Organic Ink Volume Two so I did.  Actually I forgot but then was reminded when I was reading someone’s poetry collection in Wattpad and ran across an advertisement for their print chapbook.

So I typed up the usual sort of promotional stuff about pre-ordering it on Amazon, the release date being December 30th and so on, but thought that was kind of boring.  I kicked around a few ideas and then settled upon beginning with the lines:

I am one of the authors featured in this anthology

it’s far more interesting than a text on gnathology.

and goes from there for another nine or ten lines.  If you’re interested you can read the rest of it in my aptly titled, Organic Ink: Shameless Self Promotion, which I’ve sandwiched between some micro fiction concerning a superheroine’s first night alone on the job and a haiku involving tentacle fingers.

Click image for Amazon’s pre-order page for the Kindle version.

Finally, I did a little more work on poor, long-suffering poxwalker #17.  Alas, I don’t have time to take and post any pictures of my worthy zombie, but that will give me something for next time, hopefully before the weekend.  All I will say is that need to redo its violet belly tentacles because they came out too pretty by half.  Slaanesh will be making my poor poxwalker into an honorary daemonette if I’m not careful.  Oh, the pain, the pain!

Nurgle Blood Bowl Icon 125