#TeaserTuesday An Improbable Interview: Harding McFadden

Good morning, my lovelies! Welcome to to another Teaser Tuesday featuring the authors of An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.



Today’s victim is Harding McFadden, author of The Adventure of the Slow Death: from the Scourge Diaries of Emily Watson.


1. What drew you to submit to this particular anthology?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of Doyle’s Holmes stories. There was something about them that just grabbed me, and just wouldn’t let go. I’m sure that I’m not the only one. When I saw the open call for this anthology, it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. I threw myself into this little piece, and gave it my all. I tried to do good service to the legacy of these characters, while still making the story decidedly mine. I hope that I managed to pull it off.

2. Tell us a little about your story.

When I saw that this was a call for a horror-themed Holmes collection, it seemed just right to make everything about it horrific. I think I’ve written somewhere else that I’m kind of a snob when it comes to horror. I want something that will stick with me, that will wake me up at night. I don’t know if I’ve managed to do that with this, but I’ve certainly tried for it. What I’ve cobbled together is an adventure for the Great Detective that puts him not just into a terribly situation, but that drops him into a nightmarish world. I wanted it to be unsettling, self-contained, but with enough action to keep the narrative flow moving. In short: I wanted to entertain anybody that happens to read it. Modern anthologies are a real mixed bag for me. It seems to me that if I can find any collection where about a quarter of the stories in it are worth reading, then it’s a good book. I hope that when the book is read, that the readers hold it up to praise as one of the few without a single clunker in it.

3. Who’s your favorite Sherlock?

Jeremy Brett. Hands down. Nobody owned the part like him. His every word and mannerism was perfect. I can’t read any of Doyle’s stories now without hearing his voice speaking the dialogue. Though it must be admitted that Lara Pulver is Irene Adler.

4. What else (if anything) have you written?

Well, I’ve written a lot of things, but very few that are available to the public. Lucky for the public. I remember writing things as a later teenager, or twenty- something that I thought were  just world-shaking. Bunch of junk. I remember reading an introduction to a Dean Koontz reprint  where he said he found himself making Clint Eastwood faces rereading some of his older stuff. Holy  jeez, do I understand. After fifteen years of rejections, though, I did manage to get printed for  the first time two years ago. Those things that I have gotten printed are available in a few  places. The short story “Trampled” has been published twice, first on everydayfiction.com then in  the August issue of Mystic Signals; “The Last of the Damned” was likewise printed on  everydayfiction.com; one of my personal favorites, “Those Things Held Most Dear,” a story about a dragon named Rainbow that  my wife really likes, is available in Carol Hightshoe’s Dragon’s Hoard anthology; a short  Lovecraftian story, “Casual Blasphemies” is available in H. David Blalock’s The Idolaters of  Cthulhu anthology; and there’s a piece of flash fiction called “The Hen and Jimminy” is due in the December issue of Cyclopean e-zine. Add to that “The Adventure of the Slow Death,” and there’s my complete resume. If you decide to seek out all of these, thank you  very much. I hope that you don’t regret it.

5. Where can we find you online?

Full disclosure: I’m fairly technologically backward. As such, I do not have a facebook account, nor anything for myspace, twitter, whatever else there might be. If you want to look for me, the only real place is on Amazon, where there is a small Authors Page. Well, that’s about it. I hope that you enjoy the book, wherever you are…


It was some time after the Case of the Crestfallen Corsair that the great detective allowed me to fill my late fathers shoes as his biographer. This would have been after the Great Scourge left half the globe a charred mass, the other half a sweltering, desiccated nightmare. Those of us in what was left of Great Britain looked fearfully to the dawn, constantly on alert for our own time. Nine months with no Heavenly fire, and still we shook in our shoes.

“It was hardly a Divine fire from Heaven,” he told me over tea one melancholy evening. I had made the error of reporting to him the judgment of many papers of the time, that the sky of fire had been the Judgment of God. “Nothing more than a particularly large ejection from our sun. One with devastating effect, but a natural occurrence, nevertheless.”

In my minds-eye I could hear him saying these words around the stem of his pipe. Now, however, there were no ‘Three Pipe Problems.’ Inquiring as to why one particular day, I was informed that the smoke did nothing to focus his mind of late. I couldn’t help but assume that it was the constant barrage of ash flowing over the world that put him off of his pipe. How does a man willingly spark a match when the charred reminders of half of mankind float by his window on every breeze?

A small charcoal of my late parents adorned a place of honor upon the stone fireplace around which we sat. We both looked upon it through the silence that evening, and many others. No fire burned, nor embers glowed. Even through the deepest winter past, the heat of day was nearly intolerable. It was through habit and emotional necessity that we persisted there. The past may be lost to us, but should never be forgotten.

With a tip of his cup, he said to me, “I find that I miss them more often of late. Never let you think that those friends around you are but passing fancies. They are the spice of life. Without them, our outlooks are simply… Bland.”

Companion though I may have been, I was aware of my position to him. He had known me since birth, though I would never be able to take the place of his fallen friends. I could only stand in their place, not fill their shoes.

The calm of the evening was abruptly shattered when the four black-robed men burst into the detectives sitting room, poor Mrs. Hudson shoved roughly before them. Before the frail woman was able to crash to the floor, the great detective was out of his chair, his hot tea thrown into the face of the nearest attacker, the cup shattered into the wide eyes of the next, while he used his free arm to right his landlady. Spinning her somehow poetically into his own vacated seat, he turned to the last two attackers, but needn’t have bothered…

Read more in An Improbable Truth.


#TeaserTuesday An Improbable Interview: Adrian Croft

Good morning, my lovelies! Welcome to to another Teaser Tuesday featuring the authors of An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.



Today’s victim is Adrian Croft, some of our fresh blood and author of Time’s Running Out, Watson. Take a look…before time runs out!


1. What drew you to submit to this particular anthology?

I really wasn’t planning on submitting to ANY anthologies. I had a longer piece of work that had huge amounts of editing and brutal love to get it into reasonable shape. Which isn’t the funnest part of writing and quite possibly why I was so excited to take a break and write a short story for something that got me excited: seeing a fantasy-themed Sherlock Holmes submission call. It really caught my attention. I love the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, which I’d read a couple of times in my life (although I’m not necessarily an expert on their contents) and I’d just finished binge-watching the BBC’s version on Netflix. Oooh, I thought. That would be so much fun!
Interestingly, I found that flipping through a few pages of the original books on my Kindle as I was writing would allow me to keep some of the “voice” of Watson fresh in my mind. The writing is slightly formal, even though it’s sharp and concise. I enjoyed working in it, as it gave a very “Sherlock” feel to the story.
All in all, it was great fun, and I hope everyone enjoys the final product!

2. Tell us a little about your story.

I love writing fantasy pieces and I also wanted to introduce a mystery into my story, in the traditional Holmes and Watson fashion, that they could then discuss (with Holmes imparting his insights to Watson, as is often the case). It struck me that a cool mystery to solve would be one where a thief abused a time-changing device, to go faster than the eye could follow. And of course, facing off with the architect of any such device would surely stretch even Sherlock Holmes’ talents! He he. The rest just unrolled from there…

3. Who’s your favorite Sherlock?

I enjoy all the variations of Sherlock that I’ve seen, in one fashion or another. Can I cheat and say the original, in the written word? Because, as we all know, if you read a book before a movie ever comes out, you form your own mental image of the character which no actor will ever quite match, no matter their talents. And I think the heart of this enduring story’s appeal is exactly that: the character that was painted on those pages…
But if you really pushed me, I’d say Benedict Cumberbatch. Because his image is nothing like I’d pictured it and yet he does it so well…

4. What else (if anything) have you written?

This is my first published piece, but I’ve written a few things, hopefully improving as I’ve gone along. I’ve written three pieces of novel length work, one of which I’m now trying to go back and improve (the second one). The first was a middle grade humorous novel about a brilliant but frustrated small town boy who advertises himself as a Mastermind for Hire, and the complications that ensue when criminals track him down to take him up on his offer. The second (the one I’m rewriting, very very slowly) is an adult fantasy novel about a one-time gunfighter and fledgling detective who lives in a magical city that jumps through time and place, and his battle with the Earth gods who want to steal his most recent client. (Can I say that one struggle I had with this story was finding a concise one-liner to describe it? J ) And most recently I wrote a young adult fantasy about a boy and his brother who train in magic and secretly plot the murder of their Emperor, in revenge for the assassination of their mother.
To reiterate, all three of those were great to write and could use some extra editing now that I have buffed up my writing skills slightly (hopefully). But maybe one day, people will see a version of these that make it out into the public!
And beside that, I have a ton of other new and cool ideas. J Mostly fantasy related. You might see some of those too!

5. Where can we find you online?

You can find me musing about writing techniques, fantasy writing, and my writing journey at www.adriancross.ca. Hope to see you there!


The papers appeared filled with dense curling script, from edge to edge, except where mechanical diagrams were detailed with exact care, some figures so small that I could barely make them out in the dim light. Along the top border was printed: ‘Seven Cycle Temporal Centrifuge’. The rest of the words might as well have been ancient Macedonian, for all they meant to me.
Baffled, I gave them back. “What are they?”
Holmes let them drop. “Clues, Watson. These were found in Mr. White’s rooms.”
I frowned at him. “But a clue to what? What do they mean?”
He looked pleased with himself. “Oh no, I cannot show my hand now. I am expecting a visitor. Do you have your pistol?”
“Do you expect to be in danger?”
“Very much so,” he said cheerfully. “I expect the Engineer to try and kill me this very night. Would you like to leave?”
I drew my pistol. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Splendid Watson. Come then, let us wait together.”…

Read more in An Improbable Truth.

Stay With Me

[Note: I started this post over a week ago, but couldn’t quite find the right words until now. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to unlock thoughts. It’s a long, rambling miasma of thoughts, too, so hold on tight.]

Depression is real.

It, like so many things we don’t take seriously, is a disease. It’s a terrible, crippling disorder that, if left untreated, can destroy even the strongest person. When a person suffers from depression, there are two possible outcomes: get help, or die.

It’s treatable. It can be overcome. It can be beaten. Friends, family, doctors, and medicine can help. Doing nothing…well, we all know how that turns out.

The indie literary community is struggling this morning. We’re still reeling from the sudden and very much unexpected death of Logan Masterson Tuesday evening. One the surface, he’s just one more in a shockingly long list of creative types who have succumbed to this beast. To the world. he’s just a statistic now.

Fuck you, no he isn’t. He’s a person.

Upon learning of his passing, I had my own moment of weakness. We weren’t as good of friends as I’d have liked – we only met in person once – but I cried for him, for his struggle, and for his loved ones. He was a kind-hearted, gentle person with a beautiful smile and kind eyes. He was soft-spoken, but intelligent, and a damned fine writer. And he gave great hugs. A few of my coworkers questioned my emotion, and the first thing out of their mouths, each one of them, wasn’t a word of condolence, but a question:


We’re so desensitized to violence that we don’t understand the gravity of death anymore. It doesn’t matter how he died. What matters is why.

He died because he was tormented by his own mind. He believed he was worthless. He couldn’t see himself as the gentle, beautiful soul he was. Because he cried out for help and none of us saw it for what it was. We, the outsiders, never believe a person is capable of the unspeakable until it happens. It’s human nature. Even when we ourselves struggle with the same pain, we don’t see that final cry as the one.

This is a problem. A big one. When you’re depressed, you can’t be strong. You can’t just suck it up and move on. You. Can’t. Forget picking yourself up off the floor; it takes all of your energy just to breathe.

Imagine, if you will, a constant, nagging voice just behind your left ear. You wake up with it. You go to bed with it. All day long it chants its horrible mantra: You suck. You can’t do anything right. Nobody loves you. You’re a terrible human being. You suck. Nobody cares about you. You destroy everything you touch. You’re wasting your time. Your life is a lie. You suck and you’ll never be good enough. No one will miss you when you die.

Most people would tell you to ignore it and go on. “Don’t worry about what others think,” they say. And it’s true…what others think shouldn’t be important. Other people’s opinions of you have no weight when it comes to who you are.

Now imagine that voice is your ownNo matter how hard you try not to, you’re always going to listen to yourself. Your own voice is inescapable, and with enough taunting, you’re eventually going to convince yourself there’s no point in trying anymore. Your voice will always win, and there is nothing you can do about it. And you have to suffer the torment alone. It’s hard to believe you can be totally alone in a crowd of people, but when your own psyche is working against you, it’s very much possible.

Which is why those of us who suffer from depression need help. We have to learn to manage it. It’s never going away, regardless of how much we do, but we can take control back from ourselves. We can get help.

I know the desperation and desolation that drove our friend to end his life. Desperation makes people reckless and irrational. It makes them do things against their nature. I’ve been there a time or two myself. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s true. I’ve listened to my own voice too much in the past, let myself get into my own head and screw myself up. It’s easy to fall into that trap because you’re supposed to be able to trust yourself, trust your instincts. But sometimes instincts lie. I got lucky when I figured that part out. I also have the benefit of having two small children who need me, and the last thing I’d ever want to do is let them down.

Many people over the last 24 hours have referred to Logan’s struggle as “losing the battle with the beast” or “losing the war”. Those are beautiful, poetic terms for the situation, and in light of how many of these situations we’ve faced in the last six months, I’m tired of the niceties. I don’t want pretty, flowery words because goddamn it, this situation IS NOT PRETTY. It’s harsh and it’s ugly and it’s cruel.

In a single act of desperation – a way of making the pain and the voices stop – our friend took his life. He committed suicide. No matter what words you use, it amounts to the same thing: he’s dead and he isn’t coming back.

Sugar coating it makes it seem like it’s an okay option, that there’s a beauty in that swan song, but it isn’t. This was avoidable.  This was treatable. This was a complete waste of a beautiful life. Could any of us out here in Internetland saved him? Who knows. Maybe. Maybe what he needed was that one person to call and say “hey, tell me what’s wrong. I’m coming over.” Or maybe not. Maybe he was too far gone to see reason anymore. Maybe there were other circumstances behind his actions that we don’t know. We can sit here and speculate all day long on the what if and the why. But it won’t change the fact that it is.

And it happens all day long, every day. A person dies by their own hand roughly every 13 minutes. That’s more than 110 people per day. That’s over 40,000 people per year. Granted, not all of these people suffer from Depression. Many of them have other reasons for doing the things they do. But do you know why so many take their own lives? It’s because most people don’t want to seek treatment. There’s a social stigma against people on mood stabilizers and psychotropics. There’s a belief by the general, “healthy” contingent that people who needs those drugs are all nuts and deserve whatever they get.


The people who need those drugs are you and me. Normal, everyday people who can’t battle their demons alone. We need to put this stigma to rest. We need to embrace our friends, neighbors, and strangers. Those of us who can need to help even if we don’t understand why our friends are struggling. It’s up to us to save their lives because they don’t always know that they can save themselves.

I’ve been battling depression for the last four years. Losing my father nearly destroyed me, and I’m still learning how to be me again. My battle has been nowhere near as severe as Logan’s was. By no means am I comparing my fight to his. But I do understand the pain, the sense of hopelessness, the guilt for breathing air best suited for someone else. The difference is I know what I’m facing because I’ve overcome it before and I learned how to control that negative voice in my head. I got help. I know how to focus my anxiety into something constructive and work through it. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. Not everyone can do that.

It doesn’t help that there’s inevitably some asshat waiting in the digital wings to pile on and abuse us because doing so makes them feel big. Those people are the true monsters. Those bullying sadists are the reason for so many deaths. Those people are the reason our friends are suffering in silence until they make the decision to stop the pain.

So to all the bullies, the internet trolls, the liars, the users, the abusers…I say this: the next time you open your big mouth to destroy someone for daring to have a thought or opinion, just remember that person’s death may be on you. It might be your fault that the trans girl you just ripped apart overdoses on sleeping pills. It might be on your conscience when the depressed young man who just lost his mother puts a pistol in his mouth because you were the insensitive asshole who told him to “buck up and don’t be a pussy”. YOU are the one who needs to sit down and shut the hell up. I’m tired of you and your ilk, thinking you can run the world from the anonymity of your computer chair without suffering the goddamned consequences of your actions. When you hurt someone, you become responsible for that person. You need to leave.

To everyone else… pay attention. Please. If you see someone struggling, reach out and say hi. Offer a hug and a friendly ear. It may be the one thing that saves your friend’s life. Let them know they aren’t alone, even when it feels like it. But know this – you won’t always know until it’s too late. Some people don’t show signs and symptoms. Some don’t reach out. Some just do it.

And finally to those suffering… you are not alone. You may be wandering in the darkness, but all you have to do is reach out. Someone will be there. I’ll be there. I’ll be your friend. Your shoulder to cry on. Your sounding board and your whipping post. Tell me your troubles, and we’ll work through it together. If you don’t talk to me, just talk to someone. Please. Get help, then use your story to help others.

Logan’s family needs help with his final expenses. If you can, please donate to their GoFundMe.


#TeaserTuesday An Improbable Interview: Katie Magnusson

Good morning, my lovelies! Welcome to to another Teaser Tuesday featuring the authors of An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.



Today’s victim is the lovely Katie Magnusson. Her story Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost is a lot of fun. Please take a moment to meet her, then meet her ghost.


1. What drew you to submit to this particular anthology?

I love supernatural and paranormal pastiches, and here was an anthology asking specifically for paranormal Sherlock Holmes stories. It sounded like fun!

2. Tell us a little about your story.

The title is “Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost.” The term “hungry ghost” appears in Buddhism and Chinese ancestor worship, as spirits driven by intense needs. It’s also been used as a metaphor for the cravings of a drug addict. So this isn’t exactly a stereotypical ghost story. It’s very internally and mentally focused; I wanted to tap into that primal fear of losing one’s mind, the idea that ghosts are very real – they just don’t haunt houses.

3. Who’s your favorite Sherlock?

Jeremy Brett in the Granada TV series, hands down. Brett had a perfect mannerism about him, this great mix of the flair for theatrics and restrained reasoning machine that is so essential to the character. I remember flipping channels one day and coming across a rerun of “The Norwood Builder” episode on PBS.There’s this scene where Holmes is walking around the area where a huge fire was, and he sort of leaps up onto a low ledge to gaze down, and I thought, “He moves like a cat!” I was so fascinated by the performance, just this simple act of examination, I watched the rest of the episode and every single one afterwards.

4. What else (if anything) have you written?

This is the first story I’ve published, but there’s a series of short stories I’ve been working on for a few years. I’m currently trying to put them all together into a book. They’re cyberpunkish Sherlockiana — a doctor with a cybernetic leg meets a man who’s modelled himself around Sherlock Holmes. Adventures ensue.

5. Where can we find you online?

Send a tweet to @mrskatem, or watch me post random things on kaelma.tumblr.com. People who’re interested in my cyberpunk short stories should go to thediaryofdrwatts.com, or follow the Facebook page (facebook.com/TheDiaryofDrWatts)


He opened his eyes, lying on the floor. He’d fallen asleep. His body had finally rebelled and forced upon him the rest he sorely needed, much to his amused chagrin. He stood slowly, stretching his long limbs, and beheld his correspondence scattered across the room. The jackknife that usually held it in place on the mantel was gone.

He turned, scanning the room. The knife was easy to spot, embedded in the opposite wall from the fireplace. He didn’t remember throwing it there.

“You’re going mad.”

“Who’s there?” He looked around and saw no one. He was alone.

“They’ll leave you -.”

“Where are you?”

“- just like everyone else.”

It was a woman’s voice, and it seemed to come from everywhere at once. She laughed as he searched, and a tingling feeling crept across his skin as if an insect were crawling down his spine.

His head felt as if his skull was being hollowed out with a red hot poker. His chest was tight. He couldn’t breathe. “Voices that aren’t there…” he wondered aloud. Could the damage to his mind be so great?

“No. I refuse to believe it,” he pressed his hands to his ears as the woman laughed again, taunting, though it did nothing to dull the sound. “I am sane! If I were not, then I would not recognize my decline! These experiences have nothing to do with the cocaine,” he stalked over to the knife in the wall, yanking it out and firmly sticking it back in its proper place in the mantel, “I refuse to believe it,” he said again, softer, slowly absorbing the significance of his statement. “If I am not mad, then what is going on?”

He applied his mind to the problem at hand with feverish fervor. It was almost a relief. Here was a problem he could ponder at last, but he didn’t like the only possible solution.

“No man could do these things. No member of humankind at all. It is physically impossible. If I am not mad, if this is not the cocaine, and it is not the result of mortal effort, then the solution must lie in the supernatural.”

He would have preferred insanity…

Read more in An Improbable Truth.

New Release Goodness


Heya, Creeps! I know we talked about this one awhile back, but it’s finally here! Release day! Release day! Yay!

Er…yeah, sorry. I get a little excited sometimes. But this does look like a great book and I’m in love with the cover. I can’t wait to read it, and you SHOULDN’T.


Malfric sees through the eyes of the dead – literally reliving their last moments as if they were his own. This ability is highly sought and highly priced, which is why the unscrupulous Captain Finch hires him to find the murderer of a nobleman and the whereabouts of a valuable artifact.

Quantex, the able-bodied first mate of Captain Finch, quickly becomes Malfric’s foil as he demonstrates uncommon intelligence during the investigation. Together the two uncover several clues that lead them to the killer, the artifact, and the frayed end of a mysterious plot that begins to unravel the moment Malfric takes it in hand and gives it a good yank.

How about a little taste?

Quantex threw the wheel hard to starboard and leaned in, digging his boot heels into the deck and gritting his teeth.

“Your orders, sir?” called Chulo, his acting First Mate.

The pirate ship had come up from beneath them, at ramming speed it seemed, and veered to the side just in time to swipe their hull. The pirates had outfitted their ships with iron tridents that extended from their hull like great black rakes.

The Ariel had sustained some damage, rips in the hull and the like, and it might be a long time before it could safely land in the water and stay there.  Luckily, their ballast tanks were still full.

Still leaning on the wheel, Quantex grinned tightly as the ship swung around, the stern facing the broadside of their attacker.  Pirates swarmed on the other ship’s deck, raising their fists and voices in a rallying cry.

This was going to be a nasty fight, Quantex knew.  But he hadn’t always worked for Finch, had he?

“Arm the ballista and cinch it down at the stern.  Make sure the knots are good and tight ― let’s tie the bitch to us and take her for a ride.”

“That’ll take several minutes, sir,” offered Chulo, his hat in his hands.  “What’ll ye have me do with the rest of the crew?”

“Grapeshot in the cannons, aim for her mast and the sails.  And when I say, tell Jessop to release all the air in the big bladders.  We want to sink like a rock and take her down with us.”

About the Author:

Shannon is a wife, mother, writer, database administrator and general pot-stirrer-turned-mystic.

You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter at @ShannonWendtlan.

Available now at Amazon & the MMP Store!

#TBT Character Interviews

I was skipping through the archives of my computer the other day and I ran across one of the more amusing moments from my promotional history. This tidbit was originally given to my friend Amy Ravenel for promotion of the first story in the Soul Collectors series, Devil’s Daughter. She sent me the first character interview I ever did, and reading it made me smile. I’m sharing it here for fun (and totally blaming Amy). Enjoy…and while you’re at it, go buy a copy of Devil’s Daughter. It’s a great story at a great price.



Character Interview: Lydia St. Clair

A: Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Lydia St. Clair and I’m a bounty hunter for the Devil. I know that sounds a little cliché, but it’s true. When I was eighteen, I made a pretty sloppy deal with him because I did something stupid. A few years later he came back and I ended up selling my soul to him to make that first deal right.  Think of me as a sort of rogue from Dungeons and Dragons. I can sneak up on people, pick locks, steal things… oh, and my car never runs out of gas. How’s that for awesome?

A: What’s the strangest bounty you’ve ever collected?

Tough question. My first was a Nephilim, which in retrospect was probably the tamest thing I’ve encountered.  Since then there have been some real doozies… vampires, werewolves, a warlock… but the strangest one was probably the necromancer that carried Medusa’s left eye in a jar on a chain around his neck. Lucky for me I didn’t get turned to stone.  The eye is in a mirrored bottle on a shelf in my house. It still freaks me out.

A: What kind of man is the Devil?

He’s the Devil. That’s really the best explanation. Most people think He’s evil but really… well, yeah, He’s evil. But it’s not all hellfire and brimstone like some would have you believe. He’s a smart ass mostly, and He has an agenda. Like with the Nephilim I went after – His methods are pretty underhanded but it probably was for the best that He had me catch the guy. After all, the spawn of a fallen angel with the powers of absolution could cause huge problems in all sorts of areas. Sometimes His actions are for the greater good, but He would never, ever admit it.

A: How do you like to relax and unwind after a tough night?

Relax? Unwind? What are these things you speak of?

Seriously, though, when I finally get free time, I like to spend it with my Dad. Every now and again we get to go fishing – I don’t really like to fish, but I like being out on the lake, and I like being with him. If I don’t have time to blow like that, I’m always good with sitting down on my couch in front of the TV with a bottle of wine and a bag of chips.

A: Now for the fun questions: What is your favorite word?

“No.” I love that word, and there are times when I really wish I could use it more often.

A: What is your favorite color?

Peacock Blue. It makes me happy.

A: Books or movies?

I wasn’t much the reading type when I was a teenager – I was more the get drunk and get laid type. Didn’t remember many movies either because I was usually high as a kite. My favorite movie to sit and watch now is Labyrinth. It’s one of the few things I have from my childhood and it still makes me smile. I still don’t get to read much, but I do have a copy of Gone With the Wind next to my bed.

A: Favorite animal?

I used to love Unicorns until the necromancer sent one after me… now it would probably have to be my cat, Charon. Except when he wakes me up at 3am for food.

A: Why should my readers pick up your story?

Because I’m awesome? Isn’t that reason enough?  No? Oh, all right… people really should read this story because it’s intensely personal. There’s tragedy and triumph, and even some humor in the darkness.  It’s also the beginning of my adventures and it tells a little bit about how I got to be who I am today.

A: Where can they find this book?

Devil’s Daughter is available for $.99 from Amazon right now!

#TeaserTuesday: An Improbable Interview – Thomas Fortenberry

Good morning, my lovelies! Welcome to Tuesday…my least favorite day of the week.

I have something pretty for you today. Well, actually this stuff was supposed to go live six months ago and in my postpartum lunacy (new babies mean never sleeping, you know) I didn’t realize I’d left them in draft form. [Cue failure music here]

Back in October, a bunch of us chickens got together and, with the help of Mocha Memoirs Press and our lovely editor-chick A.C. Thompson, released a fun little anthology called An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. You might have heard of it. You might not. Either way, you should, because it’s fantastic. Here’s the gorgeous cover, courtesy of the lovely Anne Rosario:


Now for the tasty tidbits… I have some fun stuff for you guys to read. First up, I’ll be picking on brother-in-arms Thomas Fortenberry. His story The Hunt of the Red Boar is probably one of my favorites in the book (aside from my own, of course…). I’d like everyone to meet him, then take a peek at his unusual, little tale.


1. What drew you to submit to this particular anthology?
Are you kidding? It’s Sherlock Holmes!  I spent my entire childhood reading and watching every Sherlock Holmes mystery I could find.  I would have murdered a few hundred people standing in the way of me and Sherlock. Which just so happens to be the subject of my next meta-fiction….
2. Tell us a little about your story.
My particular story, “The Hunt for the Red Boar,” lies at the intersection of Lovecraft and Doyle.  Since this anthology focused on the supernatural, I wanted to link it to my personal favorite and perhaps the greatest darkverse there is… the Cthulhu Mythos. Also, given the timeframe of Holmes, it was a perfect match historically.  These two pulp serial or “penny dreadful” styles are closely related. I also mentioned several characters from other literary universes that fit perfectly in this particular milieu. One other thing I wanted to do was have Sherlock be active and get him out of the Baker St setting. Though 221-B is as famous as the characters themselves, I did not want this to be limited to the “bat cave,” so to speak.  Sherlock to me is best when he is frenetic and on the the hunt.  I love to see Sherlock in action.
3. Who’s your favorite Sherlock?
Currently my hat is off to Moffat and Cumberbatch for their masterful modern reinterpretation of Sherlock. I had great trepidation when the show was launched because usually adaptations of characters are appallingly bad.  But, thankfully Sherlock is done extremely well, honors the original while modernizing it, and is such a joy to watch.
That said, I grew up a fan of the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock. But I must admit I loved the more recent Jeremy Brett version on TV and enjoyed the steampunkish cinematic interpretations starring Robert Downey, Jr.
4. What else (if anything) have you written?
I have been writing since childhood and wrote my first novels in fourth grade. My mother was an English teacher, so what else would you expect?  I have written in every genre from fiction to nonfiction, including comic books, SF, horror, adventure, mystery, history, poetry, and plays, tele- and screenplays.  There is a more expansive literary biography on my website.
5. Where can we find you online? 


Of all the myriad cases we have undertaken, there are only a few I have witnessed that have baffled my partner’s logic. This was one of our more troubling cases, for many reasons, not the least among them the failures in science it heralded. I have pondered recording it for many years. It probably should not have been written down, and in fact Holmes urged me to never do so. But I fear it. I must address it. I must reveal the facts in the hopes that it makes a difference and helps someone in the future. This is the one case that fundamentally shook me to the core.

It happened that I was present at the outset of this case, having arrived quite early for breakfast and to gather Holmes for an arduous undertaking. It was a trip to visit my Mary’s family on the occasion of an important gathering. There was an event, more of which later, that we wished him to partake in and for which I had spent the better part of two weeks convincing him, against vehement opposition, to attend.

Fate intervened, as it often does when in Sherlock’s company.

He had been dragging his feet all through the early hours, discoursing on various topics and news of note. He was still in his morning robe and smoking his before-breakfast pipe. I knew this was typically composed of leavings from the day before, but witnessing him pulling multiple plugs and crumbled leaves from the sizable mound on the corner of the mantle-piece to repack the pipe time and again, I realized that he had been amassing this collection of dried dottels for at least a week, and most probably the entire two weeks I had spent convincing him to accompany me.

Reclining once more upon the lounge wreathed in an ever-growing cloud, he had just pulled his pocket Petrarch from his robe and begun a reading of, “Per fare una leggiadra sua vendetta,” when Mrs. Hudson burst in upon us.

“Yoohoo, Mr. Holmes, Mr. Watson. Please excuse me, but ‘‘twas a beatin’ upon the kitchen door and I need to know if—” she began.

Holmes broke off his recitation. “I will pass your apologies on to Petrarch, though perhaps your butchering of the Queen’s tongue with your quaint accent would be of enough interest to the Father of Modern Italian that he would forgive the intrusion in order to make a more thorough linguistic study. If you are seeking reassurance on breakfast, the rashers were–”

“Oh, no!  No, not that. One of your little urchins–”

Before she could utter another word one of the poor boys Holmes employed as eyes and ears on the streets and back alleys of London pushed past her into the room. You could see the soot and grime of London upon him, the haunt of poverty in his eyes.

Sherlock Holmes bolted upright. He was instantly alert and waved the boy over…

Read more in An Improbable Truth.

#TBT Musical Influences: Jump, Little Children

Music has always been a big part of my life. Every major moment in my life seems to be accompanied by a song. And there was a period in my late teens/early twenties where I was pretty hardcore about certain bands. The one I’m going to talk about today is one most of you have probably never heard of.

Jump Little Children.

I first started listening to them on a copy of a copy of a copy of a demo tape in the mid 1990’s. I knew every song on that tape, and when they produced their first indie CD, I was all over that. (Why yes, I do own a copy of the original, purple Licorice Tea Demos, thank you very much.) I loved every single song on the album. I still do. Each song is a story, a moment in time that takes me back to simpler days.

Then I started going to the shows. I was a teenager and I’d never been exposed to “famous” people before. It amazed me that I was able to walk right up to them and speak. Not that I could, mind you. I was much too awkward and incapable of being civilized to do so.

Then… then I made some friends. From this love of JLC sprang the most intense and short-lived friendship of my life. Relationships that intense always burn out fast because to sustain that kind of energy would likely kill one or both people involved. But this friend, she taught me two important things: first, be fearless. Second, always carry an open heart. It was through her I met the guys.

I was so awestruck by them that I mostly stood in the background and let her do the talking. I was always fairly quiet, but around those guys…they intimidated me. They amazed me. I loved each of them for the things they represented.

I took tin whistle lessons from Matt Bivins when he first started offering them. I’ve always had this crazy love of music, and while I used to be pretty decent with a piano and so-so with a guitar, I loved his versatility, his ability to play what seemed like any instrument he picked up. So I jumped on these lessons. After the third or fourth lesson, I let it fall off to the side, not because I wasn’t capable of learning or because I didn’t enjoy it, but because being alone, one on one with him, was so…. again, intimidating… that I couldn’t sustain it.

I offered to take one of the guys to dinner with Sam and me one time…and two more of them showed up. And one of the others appeared briefly while we were there. She did all the talking. Ward did all the eating. I just sat there and listened, because that’s what I did.

After one of the shows I remember hearing one of the guys ask Sam if I was okay. A good friend had just lost his thirteen-year-old sister to cancer a couple months prior to that show, and one of the songs really struck a nerve. We were right there at his feet beside the stage so naturally he saw my meltdown. But it was really touching not only to know that he took notice, but that he also asked about me by name. When I finally got to where they were, he turned around and grabbed me in the biggest bear hug and for a minute I thought he was going to cry with me.

I was so excited when they landed a contract with Atlantic Records because it meant they’d finally made the big-time. Then the contract was rescinded and it broke my heart for them. But they kept going. For about four years I was at every show they did in Charleston.

After my friendship with Sam ended and I moved upstate, I lost touch with the guys. About a year later, they released their final album and we learned they were doing a show/signing at Manifest Discs & Tapes in Charlotte. My husband was all ready to pack me up and take me up there, but I said no. Part of it was because I didn’t want to get into the discussion about my friendship with Sam and how it had ended, but I also didn’t want to fight the crowd of screaming fangirls.

The fans were scary…still are from what I hear. That oversexed atmosphere, that ego-stroking nonsense…they thrived on it. Most artists do. But I wasn’t interested in climbing into bed with them. I wanted to understand their secrets, as if they’d unlocked some fundamental part of the universe. The great, cosmic mystery eluded and compelled me.

I know now it was the unconscious knowledge that these guys…these were my people. They made nerdy look cool. They were misfits themselves, but ones who appeared to have found their place. And it was magic. This band…it was my unicorn.

Not that I needed to be part of that inner circle; far from it. I was just some awkward college kid who barely knew how to be a person, but these guys were so cool and seemed to have it all figured out. I know I probably came off as creepy and annoying. I was more than a little starstruck at the time, so I could barely speak in their presence. And I smiled. A lot. I know I’m smart, but it never appeared so. But again…I was still kinda new at being a person back then.

I truly didn’t need that acceptance and validation. It was nice to be noticed, yes, but just being there was enough. Most of my interactions with them as people were to put friends closer to them, to fulfill my best-friend duty and sit back to watch.  I just wanted to be where they were, to witness the spectacle and maybe absorb a little bit of that creativity for myself.

In a way, my time in the shadows of their glory prepared me for life as an artist. They taught me to be fearless in my artistic endeavors. After all, who the hell brings an accordion and a cello to a rock band? They taught me to be idealistic, to dream openly, and in a way, to embrace failure as part of the process. Those guys were everything I needed them to be at exactly the right time in my life. To this day their music still lies close to my heart. When my father passed away, I immediately went back to them, and this song:

It’s still my go-to when missing him becomes unbearable, because it reminds me to hold onto all the things he taught me.

If I had any clue how to get in touch with Matt Bivins, I’d thank him. First for being nice to the awkward kid I used to be, second for inadvertently teaching me to appreciate tea with honey (I still to this day search for Desert Sage tea everywhere I go), but mostly for the inspiration to create. All of them gave me that, and I can never repay them.

If any of the guys happen to stumble upon this psycho trip down memory lane… thank you. You’ll never know just how much I appreciate your presence, and for allowing me to be part of your world, if even for a moment.