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Big Bad II – Available Now!

Here at last for your reading pleasure… Big Bad II, now with bigger, badder villains! Gorgeous cover, beautifully disturbing stories, and a nice, healthy dose of WTF. John Hartness & Emily Leverett have really outdone themselves this time, folks. This is a serious cast list author-wise, and I’m honored to be included among such talented people. The very idea of an anthology filled with stories about bad guys makes me happy.

This book… and all of us in it… we are the reason why YOU should be afraid of the dark.

HORROR

Publication Date: February 24, 2015 Dark Oak Press

Everybody loves the bad guys, and this second edition of The Big Bad brings you more to love! A collection of best-selling fantasy and horror writers brings you twenty-four all-new tales of vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, and the most terrifying monsters of all – humans. Crack open the pages, if you dare, and explore two dozen tales of humor and horror by some of the brightest names in the business!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | B&N Hardcover

The list of authors includes:

John Glover                 John Hartness
Selah Janel                  Gail Martin

Jason Corner               S.H. Roddey
Kasidy Mansico           James R. Tuck
Sara Taylor Woods      Eden Royce
Sarah Adams              Jay Requard

Riley Miller                  Edmund Schubert
Stuart Jaffe
                 Emily Leverett
Bobby Nash                Nicole Kurtz
Lindsey Lewis             Eric Guy
Matthew Saunders      Neal Litherland
Misty Massey              M. B. Weston
David B. Coe

My contribution is called “Skippin’ Stones”, and here’s the first part of it:


Skippin’ stones down by the crick…

That was where any momma could find her little boy on a Saturday afternoon in Rock Mountain, Tennessee. We would line up, one by one in even spaces all up and down the loamy crick-bed, searchin’ for the best, shiniest river-rocks to thump across the surface of that little offshoot of the Tennessee River. Sometimes we would all huddle up together and compare stones before havin’ a contest to see who could skip the farthest, or who could drag the most jumps outta our rocks. There weren’t no television or nothin’ like that, so us kids had to entertain ourselves. Skippin’ stones meant we got to throw things without getting’ in trouble.

Me, I always liked the little, flat ones. Perfectly round, and light-colored. Sometimes I picked up ones with veins of dark sumthin-or-other runnin’ through ‘em, but most of the time I went for the white or light gray ones. Call it superstition, but those light colors always did me good. I still believe it, too, ‘cause the day I met the Devil, I was skippin’ rocks with dark streaks in ‘em.

Me an’ Jimmy Tanner was out by the crick one afternoon when we was six and Jimmy’s momma came lookin’ for him, mad as a wet hen and armed with her favorite whippin’ stick.

“Get yo’self back to that house right his minute, Jimmy-boy!” she screeched, wavin’ her hands around like her tail was on fire. That skinny little stick wobbled around in the air, but we knowed better than to think it would break. Them green wood switches she picked would bend into all sortsa knots before they’d up and break. “Yo’ daddy is gonna ring yo’ neck for what you done gone and did!” The boy took off runnin’ like his tail was gonna be on fire…and it prob’ly was, too, cause his momma really liked her whippin’ sticks. She caught me ‘cross the knees one time for smartin’ off to her. I never did it again, I tell you what.

After Jimmy run off and left me standin’ knee-deep in the cool water with my shoes up on a sunny rock, I bent down and picked up somethin’ outta the water. It was a stone; the flattest, shiniest one I ever seen. It was bright white, but it had a streak of sparkly black runnin’ right down its middle.

I’m gonna have your soul, Mickey.

I felt the voice, like a cold chill of goosebumps up my back and my arms. It sounded like the wind, like nature had found her voice and wasn’t too happy with me.

You can’t run, and you can’t hide, Mickey. I’m gonna take your soul straight to Hell.

“Who’s there?” I called out. Now, don’t get me wrong…I was scared. So scared I didn’t notice the warm trickle down the inside of my right leg ‘til long after I’d gone screamin’ home and crawled up cryin’ in my momma’s arms.

You know who I am, Mickey. Don’t play dumb.

“Now you listen to me, you dirty ol’ Devil!” I screamed. I know I sound a lot braver than I was, but when you’re eight years old, you ain’t got the good sense God gave a wet paper bag. “You gonna turn right back around and you is gonna go straight back to Heck!” I couldn’t say Hell yet. Momma woulda washed my mouth out for sure. It didn’t matter. The Devil knew what I was talking about.

Tell me, Mickey… what’s it like to be afraid of something you can’t see?

A Lass’s Guide to Dating in the Modern Realm

Guys…this… I can’t even.

It’s my birthday, and I’ve been saving this for a very special occasion. It was originally meant for different blog, but I have to do it here. You see, Ippick and I have gotten to be pretty good pals these last few months. He’s a crass, cranky old troll, and I sort of like that in a guy. He felt compelled to do this, and far be it from me to get in the way of a troll on a mission. First of all, he’s bigger than me. Second…well, he’s a freaking troll! Just go with it. It’s worth it, I promise. Selah and I learned the hard way not to piss off the trolls.


Disclaimer from SJ: Take Ippick’s advice at your own risk. Most of his suggestions would probably get charges filed against you, so read this for kicks and giggles and not as advice you’d actually try. Seriously, just don’t. Remember, he’s a troll, and he definitely likes to rile people up.

A Lass’s Guide to Dating in the Modern Realm

By Ippick Bonecrusher

I’m not surprised t’be asked for my romantical advice. Bein’ one of the prime troll bachelors in Kingdom City gives me a unique perspective to be able to help poor whiny single sods like all ye readin’ this thing.

First off, lasses, all the drivel and tripe yer readin’ in books is all well an’ good, but yer wastin’ all yer time with all those nicey nicey gestures. Think of all the money yer pourin’ out on flowers or self-help books when ye could take it down to the strip clubs and meet someone there! Now I’m sure I’m rufflin’ feathers, but lasses, I mean ye, too, as I’m told women occasionally like to indulge in that kinda thing (though most females I take me clothes off for start payin’ me to put ‘em back on. Even then there’s no reason t’get offended. I make back what I had to pay to buy ‘em dinner).

If ye wanna meet someone, go where people are. Don’t go sighin’ in yer room or poutin’ under a table somewhere. Go out to one of those new-fangled coffee places or stores or the like. I don’t like online datin’ meself, simply because while it’s easy for ye to make yerself seem better, it’s just as likely the person yer chattin’ up is making himself or herself look better. A good friend of mine had problems with online shenanigans, so be warned.

So yer shy and ye manage to pry yerself out of the house and go somewhere where there’s people. Well, then ye need to practice. Just go up to some random sod and say “Hey there handsome, you smelt my iron if ye know what I mean” or “Fe fi fo fum, drop yer pants ‘cause here I come!” or whatever the love talk is nowadays. If they’re taken aback and ye think ye can put up with em, great! If yer not really interested, just walk away before they answer. If they start to turn ye down, just bust out laughin’, point at them, and walk off, shakin’ yer head. That’ll keep em on their toes and wonderin’ why yer so special and superior.

If ye happen to see someone who ye really want to fill yer grainsack, just knock ‘em with yer club or shoppin’ cart or somethin’ to let them know yer interested. Not enough to give ‘em a concussion, mind ye, just a tap or four. If ye don’t have anything t’whack ‘em with, just kick ‘em in the knee a few times.

Once ye have the interest of someone, ye gotta keep them on their toes. Don’t compliment ‘em too much, but if ye do make sure it’s really sweet lovey talk like ‘yer eyes remind me of those creepy dolls that can stare right through the soul an’ back.’ If yer worried about new-fangled issues like who pays, just make sure ye leave the table at a restaurant before they do so they hafta pay the bill. If they seem huffy, just hit ‘em with that lovey talk afterwards and they’ll get over it. If they don’t, then they’re an idjit and ye should dump ‘em, takin’ care to really hit them with yer club this time. Ye ladies want us to think yer worth it, so ye gotta train the mate you want. Now, granted, I’m single, but I’m single for my own self-preservation. I’ve seen what marriage means for my friend Uljah, and it ain’t somethin’ I’m willin’ to risk me life over anytime soon. But if that’s somethin’ ye want, then ye gotta suck it up and go all in. Remember yer worth it, even if yer stupid looking or a little dim. Don’t waste time on makeovers or betterin’ yerself, just put yerself out there and keep kickin’ people until ye find the mate that’s right for ye.


Ippick Bonecrusher - Olde SchoolIppick Bonecrusher is a mean sonofadragon who resides in Kingdom City, The Land. A real estate agent by trade, he also occupies many odd jobs to make up for his poor people skills. Although this is Ippick’s first attempt at freelance writing, he is very prone to giving unsolicited advice. You can find him in Olde School, book one of The Kingdom City Chronicles, which can be found in Print, Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

 * * * * *

 Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Big Bad 2, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery. Olde School is the first book in her series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, and is published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own. Catch up with Selah at  http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ, or @SelahJanel on Twitter.

Guest Post: Eric Dean

Guest Time! Say hello once again to Eric Dean. He was part of the weekend’s madness, and he was so wonderful in working with me on my A Bloody Valentine event that I wanted to show him some extra love. Here’s what he has to say about the craft of writing (and be sure to check out him out on the web at http://www.ericwrites.com):


The hardest thing about writing is writing, and unfortunately, the only way to do it is just to do it. I’ve spent most of what life I can actually remember wanting to be a writer. I spent a good deal of the latter half planning to be a writer. Only in the last couple years have I actually been writing, in the hopes of one day becoming a writer. So, once you tackle that aspect of the process, what the hell do you actually write about? As a kid, I wanted to be a fantasy and sci-fi writer, because that’s what I enjoyed reading. It turns out fate had other plans, as an experimental foray into writing horror led to recognition and appreciation, and a soul-deep need for recognition and appreciation led to writing more horror. Funny how that works.

So, once you’ve decided to write horror, what’s the process? What the point? What’s the goal? Haven’t we exhausted every possibility in the genre? Do we really need more Lovecraftian stories about giant, otherworldly beasts from time immemorial? Do we need more slasher-porn in written form with exhaustingly detailed descriptions of torture and dismemberment? How many unique spins can we put on the vampire or zombie story? Why am I asking so many questions? I guess because I’m still trying to find the answers, myself. What makes a horror story new, interesting and successful? The truth is, I don’t know. I’ve only been at this for a short time, and unlike most writers (I assume), I’m not much of a reader. I do read, but maybe only three or four books a year, and most of them aren’t horror (or even fiction, for that matter).

When I decide to write a horror story, it’s usually because a story I need to tell happens to be horror, not because I set out to write a zombie story, or a vampire story, or an evil, man-eating toilet story. I get a lot of ideas for stories, and some of them are horror. Because I’m “writing horror” now, I follow up on those ideas and set the others aside for the future. To me, horror isn’t just about being shocked or scared, but about being uncomfortable, confused, lost, and disoriented. What scares me aren’t monsters or gore, but loneliness and emptiness… suddenly looking around and realizing that you have no idea who you are, where you are, or how you got there. To me, the most horrifying thing I can imagine is waking up at 50 and realizing I was never a writer… that I never did what I had been wanting to do since I was a kid. I think my stories revolve around themes like that – not facing a monster so much as facing yourself, your past, and coming to terms with who you really are. It can be just as terrifying and painful as getting eviscerated by a werewolf. I mean, I’ve never been eviscerated by a werewolf, but I HAVE been in love, and there’s no way they’re that different.


THE STATE OF HORROR SERIES

Edited by Jerry E. Benns
From Charon Coin Press

Eric Dean is featured in State of Horror: Illinois.

State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror: North Carolina
State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror North Carolina
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Learning to Be Still

It’s late, I know. I’m usually in bed by now, but tonight seems to be one of those nights where sleep eludes me, even when I need it most.

We sat down tonight and watched Book of Life. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a good animated movie, and because of my fascination with the concept of death and the ideology surrounding The Day of The Dead, I was excited about it. Now, I seem to be in the minority when I say I enjoyed the movie…Most people I know who have seen it weren’t impressed. In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have liked it so much if it hasn’t struck me on such a personal level.

I started crying five minutes in and didn’t stop until…well, I haven’t stopped yet. Not really. The concept of being surrounded by family already gone is still a particularly touchy subject for me. It’s been almost three years since I lost my father, and it’s still too fresh. Too easy to get lost in daydreams. There are still days when the grief takes my breath away. Days like today, for example. The idea of Manolo having the opportunity to see his mother again (ignoring the cost of said luxury, of course) is one I’ve often considered. On nights like tonight, I find myself considering not just what I would give to see my Dad again, but also how I would react to the situation. There are so many things I want to say – that I love him, that I’m sorry I wasn’t a better daughter, that I’d give anything to redo the last ten years of his life and actually be a bigger part of it instead of being a stupid kid – but knowing how well I know myself, I know I’d probably do nothing but hang on for dear life and cry.

One of my happiest memories is dancing with my father at my wedding. I cried all over him then… I can only imagine what I’d do now. It’s amazing how after a person is gone the happy memories are the ones which hurt the worst. They don’t hurt quite as bad now as they did three years ago, mind you…but each one still comes gift-wrapped in barbed wire.

Since my father’s passing I’ve lost other family, friends, coworkers, and pets as well…more of each than I care to count. And each time I lose another, it rips the scab off the biggest wound and I find myself back in the middle of an emotional bleed-out. Of the losses, the only one I can reflect on and be happy is my grandmother. I miss her terribly, but I also had a long time to come to terms with losing her. She passed April 30th, 2014 at 90 years old, and after a fifteen-year battle with dimentia. Her passing was a blessing in some ways; she no longer hurts, she doesn’t suffer, and she and my grandfather are finally together again after more than fifty years apart.

I attended her visitation, as most of my family did. When I cried, it wasn’t for her loss, but for the things she’d gained. Seeing her lying there, completely at peace, simultaneously broke my heart and made me smile. It was the first time in my life I’d ever seen her not in pain. She was beautiful. She was my grandmother again, for the first time in ten years.

It’s easier not to break down and cry now, though I still want to every time I think of my Dad. And it isn’t that I’m crying for him so much as I’m crying for me. It’s selfish, but I let my grief and my personal sorrow get to me. I let myself wallow in misery, even if only for a moment.  I miss them. I want them back. All of them. My heart aches for a time when I was naive to the harsh reality of death, when the pieces of my past weren’t scattered across the floor of my life.

With each loss, I change a little bit more. These days it’s a constant quest for a new version of “normal”, and in the process I’m still trying to learn how to be still again, to just sit without distraction to fill the voids in my head and my heart. One day I’ll find that peace, even if it takes another three years. I haven’t lost my faith yet.

A Bloody Valentine: Julianne Snow

Ever heard that phrase “save the best for last”? I have, and I plan to. I’ve read a bit of this lady’s stuff, and she’s pretty freakin’ good. Just sayin’.

Final victim of the night: Julianne Snow.

INTERVIEW WITH JULIANNE SNOW

It’s Valentine’s Day. What’s your take on the “Most Romantic Day of the Year”?

Honestly, it’s really just another day to me. Sure, romantic gestures tend to take place and you’re more often than not likely to receive flowers, but does one really need a day especially for romance? Why can’t every day be a romantic one?

What made you decide horror would be your genre of choice?

I’d like to think it was a conscious choice, but it truly wasn’t—when I picked up the pen, horror is what came out of me…

From where do you pull your horror inspiration?

From the world around me would be the simplest way to say it. Sure, I may write about supernatural creatures or monsters some of the time, but the crux of what the story itself hinges upon are pulled from real world experiences or occurrences.

What is one horror stereotype you absolutely despise? What is one you love?

I think it’s the stereotype that horror itself is not a viable genre or a worthwhile one to explore. Horror fanatics exist, even those who aren’t willing to admit it to themselves. As for one that I love—how can anyone pick from all their darlings?? I suppose there are a few that are fairly tired, but someone always finds a way to rejuvenate it!

What scares you?

I don’t get scared all that often, but there are a few things that truly frighten me (and yes, I consider them different things… A scare is something that momentarily shocks you, but to be frightened is an altogether different kettle of fish!). I think the state of the world frightens me, especially a lot of the events happening overseas at the moment.

THE STATE OF HORROR SERIES

Edited by Jerry E. Benns
From Charon Coin Press

Julianne Snow is featured in Illinois and New Jersey.

State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror: North Carolina
State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror North Carolina
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A Bloody Valentine: D.J. Tyrer

Here’s an evening treat for you all! D.J. Tyrer, also of State of Horror fame, has given us a bit o’ flash fiction to enjoy!

ULULATION

By DJ Tyrer

 “Whenever the cry of the banshee is heard,” Malcolm had said, “one of the clan is doomed to die.”

Duncan had laughed at the superstition. His kin here in the old country were an odd lot. At least, that’s what he’d thought until he heard the shriek of the banshee, a high-pitched ululation.

All of a sudden, Duncan really wished he hadn’t taken the late-night stroll along the cliff-top path.

The ululation came again, closer now. Fearfully, he glanced over his shoulder and thought he saw a white, vaporous figure further along the path. The banshee, the harbinger of death for his clan, was close behind him.

Duncan picked up his pace, then began to run, desperate to escape.

The cry came yet again, and he ran heedlessly through the darkness. Suddenly, there was nothing underfoot. For a moment, Duncan felt himself fly, weightless, through the darkness, then he was falling, plunging down to the jagged rocks and sea below, the ululating scream of the banshee echoing in his ears.


THE STATE OF HORROR SERIES

Edited by Jerry E. Benns
From Charon Coin Press

D.J. Tyrer is featured in State of Horror: Illinois.

State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror: North Carolina
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A Bloody Valentine: A. Lopez, Jr.

Another State of Horror Victim! I’m feeling lucky today! Meet A. Lopez, Jr, please.

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH A. LOPEZ, JR.

It’s Valentine’s Day. What’s your take on the “Most Romantic Day of the Year?”

I’m all for celebrating romance, and Valentine’s Day puts the focus and some might say, the pressure on, to show your affection to your loved one. Either way, I feel it is a great way to consolidate and show your appreciation for the one you love. As writers, we tend to get into our own worlds and disappear, with our loved one, no matter how much they may support us, feeling shoved aside at times. My take is that I don’t necessarily need Valentine’s Day to show appreciation and thanks for being there, I do like how the date allows us to refocus and reset our priorities to not only your wife or girlfriend, but to those around us who may put up with our never-ending passion to build our words and stories. On the other hand, if things aren’t going so well in a relationship… it can truly be a horrific day. Plus, what horror fan doesn’t enjoy a holiday laced in red?

What made you decide horror would be your genre of choice?

That happened a long time ago, I mean back in my early youth. It has always been a favorite of mine and everything about it was fun, even when I was scared to death by something I didn’t expect.

From where do you pull your horror inspiration?

While I have watched many movies and read many books in the horror genre, and those things have set a well I can pull from when I need, I am inspired to write things that not only scare me, but things that scare others. I like to plant a psychological root and let the reader’s mind work its own tricks and magic on them. So my inspiration and drive comes from creating things that will scare you, and at the very least, make you think about something you may have never considered before.

What horror stereotype do you despise? What is one that you love?

I despise the stereotype of horror being of only blood and violence. To the not-so-well-informed, or the ones whom despise horror, it has nothing to do with bloody violence, killings and physical torture. For me, it’s all about the psychological.

The one I love most is: What’s hiding under the bed or in the closet? Although cliché, that’s my favorite, but for a different reason. The way I see it, is that as a storyteller, half the work is done (the reader is already on edge…wandering) and all we have to do now is create what’s under the bed or in the closet. The point of this is to realize that it’s not actually what’s under the bed, but more so the fear of not knowing what that may be.

What scares you?

The unknown. That can range from what lurks in the dark to the future of our own or loved one’s health. That may sound broad or strange, but when you think about not knowing what the future holds, from a health standpoint or other, especially in these times, that to me is the scariest thing of all.

THE STATE OF HORROR SERIES

Edited by Jerry E. Benns
From Charon Coin Press

A. Lopez, Jr. is featured in State of Horror, Illinois.

State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror: North Carolina
State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror North Carolina
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A Bloody Valentine: Claire C. Riley

Next on deck is another of those lovely State of Horror Authors. All the way from across the Pond, we have the lovely Claire C. Riley. She’s pretty, but don’t let that fool you…she’s quite the scary one too!

INTERVIEW WITH CLAIRE C. RILEY

It’s Valentine’s Day. What’s your take on the “Most Romantic Day of the Year”?

I know a lot of people don’t like or agree with Valentines day, seeing it as just another marketing opportunity and such, or that we should show our loved ones how much they mean to us every day, personally I like it. My husband and I don’t buy each other expensive gifts and I always tell him not to buy huge bouquets or whatever. To me it’s about making time, no matter what, to express your love and appreciation for your loved one. We’re busy people, and we have busy lives, but I think Valentines gives us, and others, that push we need to put on the brakes and remind each other why we spend our lives together. ‘Sure, honey, you drive me crazy with your snoring and you always forget t put the bins out, but I love your crazy ass!’

What made you decide horror would be your genre of choice?

Well really, horror chose me. I read in most genres, always have done, yet when I come to write, even when I’m aiming for ‘non-horror’ my brain always twists the story into something more horrific. I’ve decided to just go with it now.

From where do you pull your horror inspiration?

I love old school horror. Bram Stoker style vampires and George Romero style zombies, I also love silly horror like ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ I would say that’s where my style stems from. Rotting zombies and inappropriate humour, mixed with lead characters that you won’t instantly love.

What is one horror stereotype you absolutely despise? What is one you love?

I don’t like any stereotypes. I think a good story and a good writer, writes how they feel without taking it apart. The same goes for reading. If I dislike a book, I won’t take the story apart and list the reasons it didn’t work for me.

BUT, If I had to say something that irritates me, I would say this. Writers that seem to have a little tick box of things that ‘should’ go into a good horror book.

It’s almost like they’ve looked at all the popular books and taken notes. ‘Hmm, this story had a dog, I’ll use a dog to’‘Inappropriate humour? Check’we need a little romance, perhaps with an army dude, yep, that’ll work’

And the thing is, you can see it as clear as day! Just write the story from your head. Don’t worry about lists, and sales, at least not yet. Just write it how it needs to be told. That’s the only thing you should be concerning yourself with. The voice of your characters.

What scares you? 

Hahaha! So much scares me. Heights – but I’d love to do a sky-dive one day, getting lost (seriously), ants, spiders or generally anything with a lot of legs!

 WHO SHE IS

Claire C. RileyClaire C Riley is a Best Selling British Horror Author, whose work includes: Odium The Dead Saga, Limerence (The Obsession Series) and several other full length novels including  Thicker Than Blood co-authored with USA Today Best Selling author Madeline Sheehan. She writes dark twisty words, is a lover of epic romances, and an eater of cake! She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy.  She lives in the UK with her three young daughters, husband, and scruffy dog.

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor

http://www.clairecriley.com


THE STATE OF HORROR SERIES

Edited by Jerry E. Benns
From Charon Coin Press

Claire is featured in State of Horror: Illinois.

State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror: North Carolina
State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror North Carolina
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