Fridays 5 with E. P. Clark

E.P. Clark recently released her debut novel, "The Midnight Land (Parts 1& 2)," an epic fantasy set in a Russian-inspired world.  When she isn't writing fiction, she teaches Russian at Wake Forest University.  You can grab a copy of "The Midnight Land" on Amazon and find out more about her and her work on her website, and also by following her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I'd been thinking about it since I first learned to read and write, but I got serious about it in the sense of sitting down on a regular basis and completing a full-length work when I was 18.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) NOT QUITTING.  Doing it regularly even when I don't feel like it is hard for me but essential.  I like to think of it as a practice, like with yoga.  And like with yoga, I find I just have to get out my props and do it and then most of the time it's okay.  After that, I think the hardest thing for me is probably keeping track of everything.  I tend to write really long, complicated novels, and it can be difficult for me to remember what's already happened or even what characters are called, especially if it's been 6 months or a year or more since I've last encountered them.  I find spreadsheets and lots of editing are helpful in that regard.

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As younger sister to the Empress of all of Zem’ and the only one possessing her foremothers’ gifts of clairvoyance, Slava is both one of the most powerful and powerless people in the Known World. Desperate to escape the intrigue and hostility of her sister’s kremlin, Slava takes off on an expedition to the Midnight Land, the uninhabited, unmapped tundra on the Northern edge of Zem’. But as she travels North, Slava discovers that it is more than just the world of women that covets her gifts, and that fate is pushing her to become a most unlikely hero…

Combining motifs from classical Russian literature with the genre of high fantasy, this book is both a gripping coming-of-age tale and a subversive exploration of gender, morality, and subjectivity.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Exhausted, drained, disbelieving.  Also elated, giddy, and apprehensive.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) Definitely character.  I recently read an article by Gary Saul Morson about how literature is the only discipline that causes us to actively practice empathy, which clarified what for me is the most important thing about reading: understanding and empathizing with another person.  All the action sequences in the world are meaningless if we don't care about what happens to the people experiencing them.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  I'm a university instructor, so it varies by whether it's during the semester or during break, what my teaching schedule is, whether it's a teaching day or a writing day, and what part of the semester it is.  I'm also trying to shift gears from writing to marketing now that I've released my first book, so that changes things too.   But most of the time it's something like: Phase 1) Get up, check email, meditate, breakfast, walk dogs.  Phase 2) If I have a morning class, go to campus, teach, plan lessons, answer work emails, attend any meetings that need attending, teach more classes, etc.  If I don't have class, then I generally spend the mornings answering email and/or writing (sometimes my fiction, sometimes my academic writing or translation work) and doing outreach and promotion, either for my own writing or for my department.  Phase 3) Come home, rest (I have health issues that require an annoying amount of rest), walk dogs, yoga, tackle more emails (dealing with email is a huge theme in my life and takes up hours of my day), do some writing and/or promotional activities, walk dogs, supper (possibly combined with more writing, although I'm trying not to do that), and then--and this is very important--PUT EVERYTHING AWAY AND REST BEFORE I HURT MYSELF.  I'll often read during the evening and I'm trying to read more indie authors and post reviews of their work.

Author Links




Twitter: @Andreyev7

Origin Part II

Some things are better left undiscovered.

The door to the cockpit in the wall opposite from where Charlie stood opened, and the pilot stepped into their cabin.

“Any word on when we can move to the camp?” Albert said.

“Looks like it’s gonna be a few hours yet before they have the central section ready for habitation,” the pilot said. “We have coffee if you’d like some.”

“Brandy would be better,” Robert said. He was an archeologist from Berkley and had spent the entire trip wholly engrossed in a study of a recent fossil bed somewhere in the deserts of Arizona. He had the look of one who had spent much of his time outdoors beneath a blazing sun. A deeply tanned face lined and wrinkled with age. Even though he was only forty, the years of exposure to the sun’s rays had left their mark on his leathery flesh.

“I’m sorry sir,” the pilot said, “but alcoholic beverages are not permitted on a military transport.”

Robert gave him a wink and a thumbs up. “Got ya, skipper.”

“Coffee sounds good, I’ll have mine with cream and sugar. Anyone else?” Albert said as he looked around at the others.

“Sounds good to me,” Sandra said.

“I’ll send a steward,” the pilot said before stepping back into the cockpit.

“They have stewards on this flight?” Jenny asked.

“Probably just an airman who never expected one of his duties would be playing nurse maid to a group of geeks,” Charlie said as he settled into his seat, where he turned his attention to what was happening outside.

The wind, which had been mild when they landed, was starting to pick up and the aircraft rocked under its pressure. It howled as it swirled under the wings, driving a line of ice crystals before it, battering at everything that refused to yield to its relentless assault. The steward stepped out of the cockpit with several steaming mugs of coffee, drawing the attention of the group. Steve, Charlie’s partner in keeping the base running smoothly, plopped down into the seat next to him.

“Have you looked at what we came to explore?” Steve said.

“Not yet, why?”

“You need to take a look,” Steve said as he handed him a pair of binoculars.

Charlie held the binoculars to his eyes and focused on the exposed rock beyond the group of penguins. As he adjusted  the dial, the exposed stone leapt into focus and he concentrated on the details as he slowly panned the area.

“What am I looking for?”

“Next to the hill that comes out like a shoulder, on the right side, there is an exposed section of what looks like a tunnel.”

“I see it,” he said, and then became quiet as the realization of what he was looking at slowly dawned on him. There was a band of writing on the wall running the visible length of the tunnel that terminated in what looked like a vast circular room carved out of the solid stone. Several jagged teeth of solid stone hung over the opening, giving it the appearance of a monstrous mouth.

At this distance it was hard to discern its origin, much less what was written, but just the realization that something intelligent had been involved in the construction of this tunnel set off warnings in his mind. They were looking at something man had never seen before, nor would likely ever see again. It reminded him again of the story he’d read by a writer long dead, and the carvings those fictional characters discovered. It was said that life imitated art. Here they stood upon the threshold of a discovery that had been foretold by a writer almost a hundred years earlier. He just hoped the outcome would follow a different course.

Three seats behind Charlie, Albert and Jerry, one of the scientists who’d volunteered for this expedition, were viewing the structure through their own pair of binoculars.

“How large do you make that to be?” Albert asked Jerry, a geologist whose hobby was ancient construction methods.

“I’d say at least a hundred feet from floor to ceiling, almost twice that across at the widest point,” Jerry said.

“I see a trail we can follow to the top,” Jenny said.

“What about the penguins?” Jerry said.

Sandra Falcon shook her head. “Your guess is as good as mine. I can tell you for a fact that they’ve abandoned their normal migratory routes to gather here. Why, is anybody’s guess.”

“They seem drawn to the structure,” Albert said.

“It could be an instinctive memory,” Sandra said.

“Will they bother us if we go near them?”

“The only time one really needs to be careful is when they’re roosting. They shouldn’t bother us, but I wouldn’t take any chances. Give them a wide berth.”


After a few hours of climbing, they reached a small plateau above a field of shattered stone that was quickly being buried beneath a steady snowfall. They were accompanied by a platoon of soldiers who had been tasked with protecting the seven members of the scientific team. Albert was the leader of the group, but when it came to matters of security second lieutenant Stokes could overrule Albert’s decisions. On the plain below them, another C-130 came in for a landing as a ground crew worked against the elements and time to complete the structure the scientists would live and work in for the next few weeks.

As a group, they stopped when the exposed void came into view. The smooth sides of the passageway vanished into the mountain. It looked like it had been carved from solid stone. The narrow passage led into a vast domed chamber

“You’re the geologist,” Albert said, nodding at Jerry, “do you feel the structure is safe to enter?” 

To be continued!

Check out Adversary, book one of the Shadows of the Past series.

Click on cover for more info or to order!

Also available from these fine online retailers.

Also available in print from Createspace

Receive a personally autographed copy of Adversary for only $11.99 with free shipping to the continental United States. Drop me a line at for details on how to order your copy today. 

Fridays 5 with Savio Dawson

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India, who grew up on everything sci-fi. Science Fiction has its own charm of unravelling mysteries, boldly going where no man has gone before [yeah I know it is from Star-trek :)] and to seek and find explanations for the unexplained. This is more or less what excites a true sci-fi enthusiast.

Savio is one of the enthusiasts too and he is presenting his own version here. Mystery surrounds us in many ways and it is mammoth in proportion to what we know. No one knows what lies beneath the ocean; no one knows what lies beyond our solar system; no one knows how vast the universe is; no one knows if any other extra-terrestrial form exists, but still the pursuit of knowing the unknown will continue unabated and will continue to excite us. This excitement is what Savio attempts to bring out in his books.

Savio is blessed with a supportive family and has a day job in India. Writing is his passion and he also writes for many blogging sites. When not writing and not working, which, of course, happens a lot of time, Savio likes to while-away and watch sci-fi movies.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) Actually, it was quite an interesting episode. I was working with a telecom company where there was an offsite program planned for the senior leadership team, and as part of the offsite program, a logical reasoning game had to be designed. I was part of the planning team and one of the members suggested that I should come up with two stories to make the game work. I gave it a shot and it ended up being quite a hit. That was the first realization that I could write a story. Thereafter, I started with blogs for three years and understood the nitty-gritty of online writing and that was followed by my novel. So, the novel came by a lot later from the time I really started writing and now I believe this a passion which will continue for a lifetime.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) The hardest part about writing is to stay committed to writing. It is quite easy to put away writing to another day when there are things happening around us. The problem is when I have such breaks it usually extends beyond one day. I find more and more reasons to stay away or continue to delay further. Getting back is then a herculean task. You have to get yourself back in the groove, re-read the plot, understand the flow and then write. This is much like warming up before starting the book. Precious time is lost in such “getting back” to writing episodes. So, I usually try to avoid them. The mantra I follow is to write at least 100 words a day, even if they are too little for a novel length book. That way I make this a habit and stay in touch with the characters.

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A chance discovery leads to unearthing a plot against humankind; a plot to steal the very fabric of human creation.

Mark is in the middle of a spate of abductions by two different sets of extra-terrestrials. Around the same time, the U.S military unwittingly discovers few alien vessels in Earth’s atmosphere while testing a new technology called GAM. The knowledge of the alien vessels around the periphery of Earth drives a team comprising of Mark, an agency called XTRA-T and the security agencies to unearth the intentions of those aliens.

In the pursuit of truth, some bone-chilling revelation of Earth’s history comes to the fore. Unexplained events like Tunguska Explosion and many others are answered but nothing compares to the one that is in store for Earth. Mark and team have to find a way out and in many ways invoke the assistance of unexplained powers to redeem them at the time of need.
3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) The most important victories in life often have very few words or at times no words to describe them. My book falls in that category. Joy was obvious, feeling of accomplishment was obvious, proud of having created something was obvious, but then there were many more mixed feelings; all the good ones, that is. So even today I would find it quite difficult to speak about. That said, my wife was always around during this journey. She was the only one who knew about my writing side. All my family members and then friends came to know about the book only after it was released. My dad was shocked to know that I could even write a book.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) These two are usually related. The best way to visualize the link between a story and character is through movies. You decide the genre and think of a movie you like the most. Chances are you like the story and the character. My favourite is Terminator – 2 (Judgement Day). I like the movie because of the story - of how the world was saved from the Terminators - and the fact that a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) saved the day for the humans. Now, which one of the two do I like the most? Hard to tell. Of course, there are permutations and combinations of some stories being really good and would do well despite the characters and the other way round too (very rarely). But the best of the best will have a strong story and one or more strong characters. To answer your question, both matter to me and I give them equal importance.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  Well, I am yet to become a full-time author. I still have a day job, then my time with my family and then the writing. Now you probably can relate why I see my commitment to writing as the biggest challenge. Chances are that I am quite busy with work and, therefore, postpone writing. Here my wife plays a crucial part, and she kind of takes care of things at home, leaving me enough time to write. Let’s not forget that she herself is working too. My Dad was always there and helped in ways he wouldn’t have known. I did mention that he did not even know about my book until it was released.

Mostly, I prefer writing in the morning before getting on with things or a bit late in the night. During weekends, I can give more time to write my book. So, that’s in a nutshell about my day.

Author Links:

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Book Trailer:

Origin: Shadows of the Past

Some things are better left undiscovered!

They arrived in droves.

Dressed in formal attire as they blanketed the ice in a waddling sea of black and white. Their shrill cries merging with the howling wind, lending it an eerie voice as they converged on the field of tumbled stones that lay at the base of one towering peak.

Distant instruments had measured a seismic event that dwarfed any in recorded history. The resulting shock wave sent tremors spreading out in a widening pool like the ripples on the surface of a pond. The mountain range danced in response to the disturbance; the towering peaks weaving back and forth as the tremors subsided. Avalanches were triggered as layers of snow hurtled down the mountain side towards the vast expanse of the South Polar Plateau below. Fissures opened as entire walls of stone plunged down to the plateau, exposing virgin stone to the elements, and revealing the black maw of a massive man-made cave that had last seen daylight in the Pre-Cambrian period.

Lured from their migratory routes by strange memories that stirred within their collective consciousness. Drawn into the wilderness, their instincts were swept aside by ancient images that carried the promise of unfulfilled divination. They had come to witness the birth of a new era. The emergence of a new age. The unearthing of an ancient secret.

From the distant horizon a faint sound played hide and seek with the restless wind.

They are coming. The thought raced among them like an electrical charge, adding to the urgency of their march as they gathered along the edge of the debris field. It was from here those memories radiated. Like the spinning searchlight of a lighthouse that stood upon a battered coast. Drawing them like moths to a flame.

Beyond the debris field of cracked crumbled stone the truth waited. They gathered at the edge of the rocky terrain. Immobile shapes whose intense black eyes carried a smoldering hint of intelligence.

Behind them the first C-130 transport plane from the American base at Amundsen touched down. On board was a small group of scientists who had been tasked with conducting a preliminary study of the exposed structures.

“Are they penguins?” Albert Meeks, the head of the group, asked as he adjusted his glasses while peering through the small window beside him. A section of the interior of the C-130 had been converted to a small crew cabin capable of carrying passengers.

“I’d say they’re a bit off track; none of their migratory routes pass through this area.” Sandra Falcon said. She was a zoologist who had come to this frozen landscape to study the behavior of the continent’s indigenous creatures. Never expecting she would become involved in what many anticipated would be the greatest discovery of all time. 

“Why are they here?” Jenny asked.  She was the group’s survival expert. She taught them how to act and respond while on the ice. With temperatures that remained below zero around the clock, the simple act of stepping outside was an undertaking in itself. One did not venture outside without good reason. And getting lost could easily lead to one’s death “Guess that’s what they sent us to find out,” Albert said.

“Welcome to the Mountains of Madness,” the group’s resident ‘Mr. fixit’, Charlie Jenkins said. He held no advanced degrees, but had been blessed with an ability to fix anything that was broken.

“What are you babbling about?” Jenny said as Charlie leaned over the seat and gazed out at the shattered mountain. She couldn’t help but admire the firmness of his butt as he leaned across the seat. She noticed that Sandra was eyeing him up as well and felt a sudden flash of jealousy. She smiled at Sandra and nodded, who returned her acknowledgment with a curt nod of her own.

“Yeah, Charlie, what are you talking about?” Albert asked.

“Do any of you read anything other than text books?” Charlie said.

“Of course, I recently finished a wonderful thriller by Patterson,” Albert said.

“Which one was that?” Sandra said.

“Oh you know, the newest one about Jack Morgan, what is that title?” Albert looked at the ceiling in his search for the name of the book.

“What is this At the Mountains of Madness?” Sandra said. She had been gazing out the window at the towering peaks, and the title of the book had sent a delicious shiver racing the length of her spine.

“A story about an ancient city discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica, of things long dead that were still very much alive.”

“Sounds intriguing. When was it written?”

“I believe it was the mid-thirties.”

“Do you think we’ll find an ancient city here?” Sandra said.

“What do you think?”

Sandra leaned forward and looked through the small window at the penguins gathered along the edge of the debris field. “Whatever we find under the ice will be long dead, I can assure you of that.”

“I certainly hope so,” Charlie said before he turned and walked to the back of the cabin to watch as the ground crew unloaded the hollow steel tubes that would be their home for the next several weeks.

He had to admit that whoever had designed this temporary structure had put a lot of thought into it. It consisted of a series of steel tubes each already finished inside, and stocked with all the provision necessary to carry out its assigned mission. Each one was thirty feet long by twelve feet across. They could be connected to one another in several different ways. Side by side with doorways joining them. Stacked atop one another. Connected end to end, or with one end butted to the side to create a separate living or working space. There were six on board with them, flown down from the States by way of South America and the Sandwich islands, with a brief stop in McMurdo to pick up the passengers who currently occupied the cabin with him. When they were done there would be eighteen tubes, three flights in all, joined together to create a research camp the scientists would use as a base for their work on the anomaly, as it was called.

To be continued!

Check out Adversary, book one of the Shadows of the Past series.

Click on cover for more info or to order!

Also available from these fine online retailers.

Also available in print from Createspace

Receive a personally autographed copy of Adversary for only $11.99 with free shipping to the continental United States. Drop me a line at for details on how to order your copy today. 

Fridays 5 with Neven Carr

There has rarely been a time in my life when I haven't read or written. Passions are strong and reading and writing are mine. I began writing my first book at ten-years-old. I never finished it.
Short stories, poems and songs I completed with ease but I never achieved the elusive novel.
I had some fantastic English teachers who continually encouraged me to explore the talent they believed I had. I began many novels, again never completing them. Life got too busy or perhaps that was just an excuse!
Eight years ago, I picked up my laptop and began writing. Since then I haven't stopped. I not only completed my first novel 'Forgotten' but also four more in the 'Araneya Series'. Maybe the timing was right; maybe I needed more life experiences. I don't know but working on my books is now my life.
I am fortunate to live in an author's haven; a quaint fishing village on the east coast of Queensland, Australia. The sounds and smells of the nearby ocean, and of the surrounding natural wildlife, I find soothing and inspiring.
I hope you enjoy my debut novel, 'Forgotten'.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) When I decided to take six months leave from work. It was wonderful being able to concentrate on one thing, writing my book. I became quite the hermit for a while, and loved it!

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Editing for the thousandth time! Very tedious. I think I can now recite my book word by word. A slight exaggeration.

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Every family holds a secret.
How far would yours go to keep it?

Twenty-eight year old schoolteacher, Claudia Cabriati, has no memory of her life before the age of eight. This is not something she thought unusual, until a strangely familiar woman possessing knowledge of that life, is shot and killed in the grounds of Claudia’s home.

Another brutal murder follows, along with the heartbreaking revelation of an unimaginable family conspiracy. Claudia crumbles into a world driven by fear and the irrational need to run and hide.
Why were people suddenly dying around her? Were any of her family, particularly her much-beloved Papa, involved in their deaths? More importantly, would her life be next?

With her trust challenged by those she loves, Claudia turns to the mysterious and enigmatic Saul Reardon. Together they embark on a dangerous journey in search of answers.

But is the past sometimes better left buried?

Set amongst the natural beauty of Australia’s eastern coastline and its richly forested hinterland, Forgotten is a fast-paced mystery thriller that explores the controversial nature of family love and protection, loyalty and self-preservation.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) It still doesn’t feel real. Naturally, I am very excited but also a little nervous at what people will think of my work. But I have no control over that!

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) Both.

However, I do lean slightly towards characters. Whether it’s a quirky trait, the way they react to dilemmas or their relationships with other characters, I believe readers need to identify with them. As soon as they do, they’ll continue wanting to know what happens to them.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) I write in the mornings. That’s when I feel the freshest and ready to go. Everything else, housework, walking the dog etc., gets put off until the afternoon. The kitchen can look quite ‘interesting’ some days! I am very fortunate to have a supportive family.

Author Links:

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Till Death Do We Part: The End!

The fire drove the approaching figures away, opening a narrow path for Eddie, who raced the flaming gas down the street. Behind him, as he ran, he heard an explosion as a gas tank went up. Looking back over his shoulder, he saw that the house next to his grandson’s had caught fire.

Let it burn, he thought. Let it all burn. Leave them a world of ash. It was all they deserved.

As he drove back across Industrial Boulevard, he came to a gas station, and  an idea formed. Pulling in, he found the station empty. Next to it was a convenience store and from there he retrieved several cases of wine. Pouring the contents onto the ground, he filled each bottle with gasoline and stuffed a rag into the neck. In the store he had also procured a lighter and as he pulled away from the gas station he tossed a Molotov cocktail at the pumps. He watched in his rear view mirror as the puddle of gas from the open handle erupted in a fireball that quickly consumed the remaining gas pumps. Half a mile away he heard the thump of an explosion behind him and stopped to watch as a black mushroom cloud rose above the trees.

Without the local fire department to control the flames, Eddie was confident the entire south side of town would be engulfed in no time. Not that he’d be around to see it. He had no desire to live in this world without those who loved him, and he set out to find his wife.

Several times he had come upon a crowd of shambling figures blocking the roadway. A single cocktail was usually enough to clear the way as he backtracked the path his wife would have taken that morning on her way to work. At the corner of Valley and Center, he found her abandoned Kia, the door standing open, the inner panel stained with dried blood. He struggled with his emotions as he looked around at the deserted streets. She didn’t deserve that, she’d never hurt anyone in her life, and he imagined what it must have been like for her as she tried to escape. Unable to run, hobbling away from that approaching horde.

His world had been turned upside down. Everything that he loved and cherished was gone and he stood alone against this wicked thing. His presence drew several of the staggering dead and a small crowd of them approached him as he worked to drive away the images that crowded his mind.

The soft sound of dragging feet intruded upon his sorrow and he spun around to find six of the fearsome creatures trying to sneak up on him. The sight of them awakened a rage that drove away all sorrow, replacing it with the cold desire for vengeance. He wanted to destroy them. It was no longer a matter of survival; it became a burning need to wipe their presence off the face of the earth. They didn’t belong. This was not their world.

He waded into their midst, unmindful of the possibility of becoming infected. He no longer cared what happened to him. Everything he cherished had been taken by these despicable things and he was going to get his revenge. They were no longer people, simply objects that had wronged him, and years of suppressed anger boiled over as he waded into the small group.

When he was done, panting as he stood alone in the middle of the street with dismembered corpses scattered around him, his clothes covered in a thick layer of putrid fluids, his phone rang. Pulling it from his pocket, he saw it was from his wife and accepted the call.

Again all he got was heavy breathing and the steady footfalls of someone, or something, walking with a resolute pace.

“Is that you, sweetie? Can you hear me?”

No answer save that ragged breathing that awakened all manner of horrific images in his mind. Was she tied up somewhere? Had someone taken her phone? Were they teasing him with the promise that she could still be alive even though she was dead? The questions chased one another through his mind. Circling the truth like two hungry dogs vying for the same bone.

He returned to his truck and slipped behind the wheel to continue his search. After four hours of crisscrossing vacant streets and avoiding the roaming groups of the undead, he decided to return  home. There were preparations to be made and he didn’t know how much longer the electricity would stay on. Surely it would go out for good within the next day or two. With no one to maintain the system, a simple event could trigger a region-wide blackout that would never get repaired.

As he was driving up the road to his house, he came upon a single dead person plodding up the hill. From this angle, he knew immediately who it was and his heart broke as he pulled alongside his wife. Blood covered the front of her jeans. The tee shirt over her stomach had been shredded. Beneath the bloody fabric, he saw the white ends of bare ribs poking through torn flesh. Muscles filled with clotted blood expanding and contracting with each step she took.

Her attention remained fixed on some distant point, her cataract-covered eyes shimmering with a strange light in the waning day. In her hand was her cell phone and as he watched, she pushed several buttons with her thumb and lifted the phone to the side of her head. His phone rang in his pocket, responding to her call, and his rage collapsed into an empty sadness that consumed his soul. Some part of her remained and it was trying to reach out to him, whether in warning, or in search of her next meal, no one would ever know, but that simple, humanizing act brought the truth home to him. He no longer belonged here. The world now belonged to the dead. He had become an exception to the rule.

He pulled ahead of her, watching her in his rearview mirror until she vanished around the turn. She would be home soon, and he now understood what he had to do.

Reaching the house, he ran into the basement and knocked the supply line from the gas furnace. Back in the living room, he stood at the picture window and watched for her approach. She soon appeared around the turn as the smell of natural gas filled the house around him. She held her phone to her head and he looked at his own phone, suddenly full of a heavy sadness when he saw that his phone was as dead as the world around him.

Soon she was at the back door he’d left open. Whether from memory or following his scent, she entered the house and came into the dining room where he waited for her.

He didn’t see the blood staining her jeans as she walked towards him, nor did he see the animalistic fury that twisted her expression into an evil sneer. Instead, he remembered what she had looked like on their wedding day as she came down the aisle on her father’s arm. He thought only of the good things that had happened in the past they shared together. She crossed the room and he put out his arms to wrap her in an embrace. She closed with him, opening her mouth at his neck, and as her teeth sank into the soft flesh of his throat he  flicked the lighter he’d been hiding behind his back. 


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Till Death Do We Part: Part III

Image via Freestuff

Have you missed the other parts?

Part One                   Part Two

Do you have the will to survive?

Virgil came at him from the right and Eddie stuck his pistol under his chin, then pulled the trigger. Drawn by the sound of gunshots, his neighbor in back staggered down the road towards him.

Throwing his gear into his pick-up, Eddie slipped behind the wheel and twisted the key in the ignition. The starter caught, then disengaged. The truck was a piece of junk he’d picked up after losing his good one, so it came with its own set of problems he’d been slowly working through. The starter being one of them. On his third try, the engine roared to life and he looked into his rearview mirror to see his neighbor directly behind his truck. Without hesitation he dropped the lever into reverse and stomped on the gas, sending the vehicle back and crushing his approaching neighbor under his rear end. 

In the suburbs leading to town, the roads were deserted, and he made good time. Instead of driving through town, he used the bypass and skirted what he knew would be the areas most populated by those still alive and otherwise. Elm Street, where his grandson lived, came to a dead end at Industrial Boulevard and he pulled to the side of the road at the junction. Shutting off the motor, he was amazed at how quiet it had become. There were no other cars on the streets around him. Nor were there any other people. The town, for all intents and purposes, appeared deserted. But he knew looks could be deceiving.

Leaving his backpack in the truck, he walked down Elm Street with his shotgun over his shoulder. His head was on a swivel as he watched in every direction for the least movement. A dog barked to his left, reminding him of Brutus, and a heavy sadness washed through him.

The phone in his pocket rang and he pulled it out to look at the screen. It was his wife and his heart climbed into his throat as he pressed the button to accept her call. Placing the phone next to his ear, he listened.

“Are you all right, babe?”

A ragged breathing answered him, that and the steady sound of footsteps on pavement.

“Please,” he whispered, “please say something, anything, let me know you’re all right.”

The only response was that ragged breathing. He knew it was too much to expect an answer but he persisted. Sacrificing reason to hope. To accept anything less would be unbearable.

He hung up and stuffed the phone back into his pocket, suppressing the urge to just throw it away. For the time being everything still worked, but he knew in a short period of time it would all start breaking down. The lights would go out and he would become truly alone. He wasn’t looking forward to that moment. For even though when he worked in his woodshop everything beyond the walls vanished in his mind, he was still aware of his wife’s presence. She would be upstairs cooking or reading, or playing on her computer. 

Reaching his grandson’s house, he gazed up at the two-story structure. Empty windows, devoid of life, gazed back at him. The front door stood open, inviting him to enter, and he didn’t hesitate to cross the threshold into the main room.

“Nathan,” he shouted into the empty room, “it’s Paw.”

Nothing stirred in the house.

Was he too late? The thought of anything bad happening to any of his grandchildren stoked that churning rage. They had not done anything to deserve what had befallen them.

Taking the steps two at a time, he raced to the second floor, his shotgun at the ready, as the shadowy corridor on the second floor came into view. There were three bedrooms and one bath. Two bedroom doors stood open, a third remained closed. After verifying that the other rooms were empty, he went to the closed door and pressed his ear against the dark surface. He thought he heard breathing on the other side, or maybe it was just his imagination trying to stave off the inevitable.

Turning the knob, he pushed into the room.

“Nathan,” he whispered. From the other side of the bed, pushed against the far wall, came the sound of movement.

“Is that you, Nathan?”

No answer. The bed moved, legs scraping across the hardwood floor with a faint squeaking sound.

“Nathan?” Eddie said as he approached the bed, his shotgun at the ready.

Nathan jumped out at him, his eyes a mottled gray. Eddie instinctively brought up the muzzle of his shotgun and fired blindly. He backed out of the room as he jacked another shell into the chamber. Reaching the hall, he turned and fled.

On the stairs where the shadows were thickest, he encountered his granddaughter. The front of her shirt was covered with blood and she snarled viciously as she reached for him with thin arms, wanting him to pick her up as he’d done so many times before. He stuck the muzzle of the shotgun in her face and pulled the trigger. He raced down the stairs and crossed to the front door.

It was all over. Everything he held dear had been taken from him. First his job, then his dignity, and now the last two people in this world who loved him unconditionally. He was alone. As he reached the street, he realized how alone he really was.

Drawn by his gunshots, the undead filled the street, a shambling crowd of men, women, and children covered in blood. In various stages of undress, their bodies marked by  an assortment of life-threatening wounds.

They had him cornered. Thinking fast, he fired at the rear of several vehicles parked along the street. Gas splashed onto the pavement from ruptured fuel tanks. He fired into the spreading pool with his pistol and was rewarded with a muffled whoosh as the gas ignited. 

To be continued!

Till Death Do We Part is just one of the stories in my collection 9 Dark Tales

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Fridays 5 with Helen Erwin

I grew up in Helsingborg, a beautiful coastal city in southern Sweden. Helsingborg has a rich old history and was established 1085.  My husband and I travel there every summer to spend time with family and friends and to relax in our tiny cottage in the woods.

I have been living in New York City since the early 90´s. It is an incredible place to live, the diversity especially is wonderful and very inspiring.  The food culture alone is enough to live here.  I feel very fortunate to have two cities to call home.

Changing paradigms of what is socially acceptable fascinates me. What people believe so strongly today, can become a superstition tomorrow and an embarrassment for succeeding generations. It is often the little things about day to day life in another time that explains what people were thinking. The movements we see playing out today across the world in our time, is put in context with what was accomplished by those who came before us. The things we take for granted were once hard fought battles. My passion is to illustrate the norms of the past by taking my readers back in time and putting them in the minds of my characters.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I have been writing all my life, but I didn´t see myself as a writer at first. It was as if it was too farfetched of a dream for me to believe it myself.

I began to write more seriously about 10 years ago and wrote an historical novel that I never published. It is being edited now and will come out sometime in 2016 as my second novel.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.)  It is hard for me to write just for the sake of writing. I get writers block if I don´t have a particular subject to write about. I call it getting pregnant, once I´m “pregnant” with a subject, I find it easy. The story begins to grow slowly and then my characters take over and decide for themselves what needs to happen and when the story is ready to be born.

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A son of a slave owner turns abolitionist and becomes a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
As fierce slavery debates are dividing the country, James Waynewright breaks family tradition and travels to New York to study. Having grown up on a tobacco plantation in Virginia he never questioned how his family’s wealth is generated. In the beginning he is shocked by what he feels are radical ideas of abolition and feels that Northerners have been subject to propaganda. As time goes on, James begins to understand their point of view, and he realizes that he no longer condones slavery.
James falls in love with Katherine Greenfield, an upper class New Yorker and an abolitionist. Due to unforeseen circumstances they hastily marry and return to the plantation. Intending to free their slaves, James and Katherine begin leading double lives in order to help runaways that are escaping north.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  It felt incredible, a lifelong dream come through. Scary, and completely overwhelming.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.)  I have to say both. A good character that is part of a fascinating story makes for great reading. I love history because the historical context drives my story and gives me ideas of how to develop my characters.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.) I get up very early in the morning, drink a lot of coffee. I read the news and Facebook for about an hour or so, sometimes more if I get distracted by a really interesting thread. Once I have my fill of social media, I either do research or write for a couple of hours.

I´ll have lunch, write some more and then I usually go for a bike ride or a run.

I come home, meditate, make dinner, have a glass of wine and watch television with my husband while our dogs snuggle next to us on the couch.

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