Aghast! A Kickstarter for a New Dark Fantasy/Horror Venue.

Aghast is a brand new, bi-annual, illustrated journal of dark fantasy and horror short fiction.


About the Magazine

Aghast is an illustrated bi-annual journal of horror and dark fantasy short fiction. It will be available online, as well as in print and digital formats (eBook $5, print $10). This Kickstarter will help us launch the journal and publish the first few issues.

Aghast will feature original short fiction. Each issue will be between 30k and 50k words. It is a paying market. Each short story will be accompanied by an illustration by artist George Cotronis. Interior illustrations will be in black and white.

Aghast is edited by George Cotronis, assisted by slush reader Jeff Barr.

Click here to go to the Aghast Kickstarter page.

 

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New Anthology Opportunity! Angelic Knight Press.

We are happy to announce that Angelic Knight Press is opening submissions for Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann’s newest anthology, GRIMDARK GRIMOIRE. The Project will contain 12 -15 original stories of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and suspense. The book is schedule to publish in {Q4} November 2014.

GRIMDARK GRIMOIRE

The antihero: love them or hate them, they tend to get the job done. Sorcerers, gunslingers, assassins, outlaws, et al, come together in twisted tales of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and suspense. When the end of the world is upon us, who will stand in your corner?

The Grimdark Grimoire idea is to focus on the antihero. Sometimes they lend a helping hand and at other times they take advantage of the situation.

What we are looking for is original fiction that takes place in unique and expansive landscapes and cultures that feature the antihero. We want adventure stories that don’t hold back and capture the imagination and run the gambit of speculative fiction.

Please read over the following before submitting:

Genre: Grimdark stories featuring Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and/or Suspense.

Submission window: Now – 1 September 15, 2014

Submission length: 3,000 – 5,000 words

Book Editions: Paperback and eBook

Payment: Shared Royalties

Format: .Doc or .Docx

Response time: 15 – 30 days

Policies: No reprints. The work must be 100% original and never published elsewhere in the past, including blogs, websites, self-published or any form of publication.

No multiple submissions. If your first story is rejected you may submit one other story for consideration.

Rights Sought: First worldwide print and electronic rights exclusive for 1 year from official publishing date.

When sending your Manuscript make sure to include the following information in the body of your email:

Full name

Location: City, state, Country

Story title, genre, and word count

Story synopsis

Website

Short biography

Send your manuscripts to DarkGrimiore@gmail.com

Thank you, and we look forward to your submission.

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The Art of Ego

I’ve wanted to sit down and dispense a little advice/experience/whatever you want to call it, forever now in an effort to help newer writers cope with the speed bumps of the publishing world. Caught up in my own world of writing and promotion, it’s been hard to find the time to sit down and get anything done, but I think I’ve finally figured out the secret. Bite sized bits of wisdom (the word used lightly.)

Anyway, here’s part 1 of what I hope will be a regular foray into the various issues writers face. Take it for what it’s worth. 

The Art of Ego

(Grunt Style Part 1)

Ego: Just like walking outside with your penis/vagina hanging out, put it away.

One of the very first things I had to learn as a writer was that I sucked…and it was okay. When I decided I really wanted to write, I scoured the internet for tips and information, worked with a writers group, pored over each and every detail I could find regarding publishing and writing, read a million books, and pretty much thought I had it all figured out. I knew the rules, what the writing community felt worked and what didn’t, and was sure I could sit down and write perfection every time out. Whoops! Just like the crap I was slapping on the page, this was fantasy, and a good bit of horror, too.

I’d fallen into the trap of knowledge, thinking because I’d educated myself on a topic I knew how it really worked. That wasn’t remotely the case. I’d let my ego get in the way of reality, my own pride and arrogance telling me I had the experience to pull off what I’d learned. The ceiling was right above me so how couldn’t I be good? Well, turns out that ceiling was one of my own making. I’d slapped it up there out of pure ego without realizing it. I’d limited my growth because I thought I knew it all.

Fortunately, through the efforts of blunt friends and readers, the nature of my particular ceiling became clear. It wasn’t the classic glass one folks talk about, but it was close enough. I’d been holding myself down, stopping myself from reaching my full potential because I’d truly believed I was already there. Step aside, Stephen King, the heir apparent is here. Bet he’s laughing his ass off at this, or he would be if I was even a remote blip on his radar. I’m not.

And that’s cool. I don’t need to be recognized by King in order to write well or to succeed. Wanting to scream my name from the rooftops was part and parcel of my ego’s efforts to validate my work while I’d done nothing to warrant validation. I wanted to be special, to be good, so I pretended I was. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. My early failures are proof of this.

These days, when I sit down to write, I do so with confidence, yet still a healthy dose of cynicism and humility. I no longer believe I know it all, no longer feel I’ve reached my pinnacle. There is always room to grow, experience and a changing world providing a constant stimulus to get better. It isn’t about the destination anymore, but about what I encounter along the way.

And if there is a moral in all of this, it’s that you, as a writer, a person, need to realize you will never be as good today as you can be tomorrow if you set aside your ego and work toward the next level. And there’s always a next level, which is the best part. We can always get better, learn more, and reach the goals we seek, but that isn’t the be-and-end-all. There always needs to be another goal, another target to reach for or we’ll stagnate and fall victim to our pride and ego.

If you want to be a writer, you need to take each and every piece of information you come across and meld it into the whole, all with the understanding that, while the puzzle may never be complete, it becomes clearer every day.

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Excerpt from Jenny Undead – JL Murray

Today I welcome the amazing JL Murray to the Dark Fantastic. IF you haven’t caught on to JL’s groovy undead urban fantasy, you’re missing out. Here’s you chance to rectify that.

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Warning: This book contains strong language, zombies, knives, guns, and violence. 

In a world ravaged by disease and chaos, Jenny has a secret. She and her brother were part of a gruesome experiment conducted ten years earlier in an attempt to stop the zombie apocalypse. If the rumors are true, her mother was the hated pathologist who released the disease in the first place, leading to the destruction of government, civilization, and life as we know it. 

Despite the constant terror of the undead, Jenny is as happy as a post-apocalyptic girl can be. She has friends, she’s good with a knife, and she has Declan Munro by her side. But when she hears her brother might still be alive and living with the Underground, a religious group hiding in the now-defunct subway, Jenny jumps at the chance to find him. She infiltrates the group to right the wrong she caused when she ran away, leaving him in that lab. 

When she finds him, though, Casey is not at all what she expected. He’s been turned. And the impossible happens when Jenny is bitten. She and Casey are dead, but they’re not like any other rotters. Their minds are still intact. And there are others: Thirteen children survived the mysterious experiments, and it’s up to Jenny to find them and bring an end to the plague. But not everyone wants the chaos to end. 

Between battling her hunger for living flesh and the all-encompassing rage that goes with it, and the realization that a killer is stalking both the living and the undead, Jenny has her hands full. Coming between a dead girl and the people she loves is a big mistake. Because if you can count on one thing, it’s this: 

You wouldn’t like her angry.

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Jenny took a step toward the train car. The tarp behind her rustled and she turned, flicking the safety off the pistol. The tarp shuddered as a breeze blew fresh summer air down the tunnel. Jenny exhaled. She was practically shaking. What the hell was wrong with her? But she knew what was wrong. She didn’t want to know what had become of Casey. And yet, here she was, walking toward the blacked out car.

She peered into the windows set in the door, but someone had slapped on some flat black paint messily, the now-dry drips apparent for the length of the car.

“Casey?” Jenny whispered into the door. “Casey, are you in there?” It was so quiet. 1620316_10203183942828165_452035468_n“Casey?” she said louder. “It’s Jenny. Are you in there?”

Something shifted inside the car. The train trembled for a split second, and then was still again. Jenny leaned back and looked at the door. It looked like it was broken, held together with only a padlock and a latch that had been hammered into the metal. She pulled at the lock expecting it to hold, but it came open in her hand. Someone had forgotten to lock it. She looked behind her again, but she was still alone. Jenny pulled the lock from the latch and held it in her hand, looking at it for a moment. Slowly, she pulled open the latch. It only squeaked a little. Setting the lock on the ground, she pulled out her knife, tucking the handle up one tightly-buttoned sleeve.

She pulled open the doors. They hung loosely on their hinges, like they’d been hit hard from the inside. But they didn’t make a sound. No squeaking or rusty hinges. Jenny frowned.

“Casey?” she said into the darkness. The smell hit her then and she gagged. Decomp. So he was dead then.

Someone groaned.

Hope flamed inside of her, filling her up. “Casey?”

A scraping sound. Jenny stepped up and peered into the doorway, trying to see inside. She covered her nose with the back of her arm, being careful of the blade. She stared into the black of the car. This was no good. She was going to have to walk away and get Declan. Maybe she could convince him to come alone with her, without the crew. The crew meant violence, and violence meant death. Jenny didn’t want to be responsible for innocent people dying. But she also wasn’t about to walk into a pitch-black coffin that reeked of the dead. There might be a rotter in there.

Or it might be Casey.

Just fucking run.

She straightened. This was crazy. She needed to get out of here.

Just fucking run.

She started to step back from the door. Then she heard the scrape of a footstep directly behind her. She started to turn as a blunt pain shot up from her lower back and she was pitched into the car. Her head met something hard and she heard a dull thud before the pain exploded in her skull. Everything went white for a second. Jenny sucked in air, but it was rancid and vile. As her vision cleared she could hear someone behind her making noise. Shoes against concrete. The sound of metal against metal. A voice, a woman’s.

“Now you’ll stay away from my husband. Heathen whore.”

“Cora?” Jenny heard her own voice echo. She gathered her bearings. She was on the floor of the train car. The cold metal she was leaning against was the pole she had cracked her head on. Someone had pushed her. Cora. She touched her forehead and it came away wet and sticky. Blood.

Oh, God.

She realized she was no longer holding the gun. The knife was still securely wedged in her sleeve, though she felt a dull throbbing in her left hand, like she’d sliced it in her fall. There was a fumbling at the door. In a flash, Jenny realized what was happening and pitched herself forward, ignoring the piercing pain in her head. She forced herself to her feet, the dizziness nearly sending her flying. She caught the pole and pushed herself hard toward the door.

The lock clicked into place. A woman laughed softly. And Jenny heard the sound of something moving in the darkness.

She shoved at the door. “This isn’t funny, Cora,” she said, her voice high to her own ears. “Please. There’s something in here.”

“We knew you were Heathen,” Jenny heard Cora say from the other side of the door. “Joshua and I. No one else. Only the two of us. We knew the whole time. He was going to kill you and put you next to your wicked relative. It was poetic. But then things changed.” She was quiet for a second, as if composing herself. “I’ll not have your filth on my husband.”

“I don’t want your husband,” Jenny said. She kicked the door and felt her boot bounce off the thick glass.

“Don’t be stupid. Everyone wants Joshua,” she said. “His seed will repopulate the earth.”

“Gross,” Jenny said. The slow creaking and scratching behind her seemed to be spreading to either side. “Cora,” she said, her voice almost a whisper. “Are there rotters in here?” Cora didn’t answer, but Jenny thought she heard her chuckle. “Cora, please let me out. I’ll leave. I’ll never come back. I didn’t want to hurt you. I just wanted my brother back.”

“Your brother?” she said quickly.

“Yes,” Jenny said. “I thought he was here. But he’s not. He’s not fucking here.” She felt a prickle of tears behind her eyes and it felt like failure. Like shame. “Don’t do this. Please.”

“Goodnight, Jenny.” She heard the sound of Cora’s footsteps on concrete, receding.

“Cora! Stop this. It’s murder.”

Cora responded in a low voice, as if talking to herself. “All flesh is grass.”

“Fucking let me out of here, you crazy bitch!” Jenny heard the rustle of plastic as Cora slipped back around the tarp. Fuck.

The noises were growing louder. Closer. Jenny squinted into the darkness, but couldn’t make anything out. She pulled the knife out of her sleeve and blindly cut it through the air. Squatting down, she waved the knife in a horizontal arc in front of her with one hand, and felt around on the ground with the other for the gun. The floor was sticky with bits of debris everywhere. It smelled even worse down low. She found the pole that she had crashed into, but she didn’t feel the gun. She sliced into the air over and over, the blade making a whooshing sound. The groans were growing louder.

Jenny stood, her head still swimming and pulsating from what was no doubt a minor concussion. Blood wasn’t streaming into her face any more, but it hurt like a mother. She felt like she was going to pass out. But if that happened, she was dead. She waved the knife through the air and it chinked off of glass. A window. She kicked at the glass, the contact vibrating the nerves up her leg. It was solid when she pushed on it. She needed that gun. Turning, she felt along the floor with her feet, trying to find it. She wanted to shoot at the door, try to hit the lock. Jenny remembered that always working in movies when she was a kid, though she had her doubts. But she had to try something.

She heard a soft scraping sound along the floor behind her. She stabbed with the knife into the pitch darkness but only met air. Then she felt something touch her foot. She screamed and stabbed down towards the floor, both hands on the hilt of the knife. It connected with something both soft and brittle at the same time. A hissing sound rose up from the floor along with the stench of a very old rotter. The hand relaxed on her ankle and she kicked, her foot going right through what she guessed was a skull.

Jenny turned, waving the knife again, this time up and down, blindly. She may as well have been wearing a blindfold. Her only way out was to fight. If she could find the gun she could shoot one of the windows and kick out the glass. Maybe. The rotters were old, she was pretty sure. At least the first one was. She could do this. She’d done it before, just never in complete darkness.

The knife chinked off metal. She felt with her other hand. Another metal pole. Jenny stopped to listen and a putrid smell filled her nose and mouth. The knife hit something soft and her knuckles grazed something slimy. She took the handle of the knife in both hands and stabbed up, towards the place she imagined the head was. The knife went in deep and soft, like it was going through cold butter. A rattling groan came from inches in front of her face. She pulled the knife out. This one was much taller than she’d assumed. She realized that she must have hit him in the neck. Dry, scratchy fingers grazed her arm with a sound like paper. She kicked out as hard as she could and felt a reverberating crack followed by a thump. The rotter had gone down. Jenny suspected she’d broken his leg, possibly both of them. Stepping forward to smash his head, she screamed as something caught hold of her hair. Jenny spun round and one of the tiny Righteous-style braids was yanked from her head with a ripping sound and a flash of pain.

“Fuck!” A new rivulet of blood trickled down her neck. She stabbed with her right hand and the knife ripped through a thick, brittle skull this time. Its head made a sickening noise like a rotten pumpkin when she brought her boot down.

It was eerily quiet. For a golden second she thought she’d gotten them all. Then she heard a scraping sound to her left. She turned, barely breathing. A creak like old leather. The smell of it permeated the air as she listened to it take each scraping footstep. She waited, still and listening.

A hand grasped at her dress, weak and slow. The rotter’s teeth jangled together softly. The knife went in quick and smooth, and as she twisted the blade, she felt it go still. It dropped lightly onto the floor.

Jenny took a step back and her boot slipped on something hard. She caught herself on the pole and heard something slide across the floor. The gun.

The train car was silent again. She listened for a long time. No sound. She sucked in air, not realizing she’d been holding her breath. The pain in her head was agonizing. Fucking Cora. She didn’t realize what she’d done. If Jenny didn’t kill her for this, Declan would.
Declan. He was really going to enjoy telling her he told her so. So she had that to look forward to. Her foot touched a fallen rotter and she stepped over it. Crouching down again, she felt for the gun. She made her way towards the place she had heard it slide. She grasped something solid, but dropped it quickly in disgust. It was a bone. Probably human. Jenny remembered Lily telling her about her father disappearing in the tunnel. Jenny’s guess was that Joshua threw him in here. Can’t have too many men in his little cult. Wouldn’t want anyone to object to him raping his way to exultation. These people were better off without Joshua and his psycho wife.

She had reached the end of the car. With her outstretched hand she could feel the cool, slick wall. Her hand eased up and she felt the padded seat. Jenny frowned. There hadn’t been any other seats. Probably looters or squatters had stolen them. Maybe Joshua. Maybe someone else. Jenny’s head was spinning. She grabbed hold of the seat and felt along the floor. She gasped in pleasure as her hand wrapped around something cold and metallic. Setting the knife on the seat and holding the gun in both hands, she found the trigger with her finger. She squeezed, bracing herself for the explosive noise.

The shot was so loud she cried out. Jenny raised her hand to rub her ear, feeling as if she were underwater. First the dizziness and darkness, now she was deaf. But when the pain subsided, Jenny blinked. Light was coming in through the bullet hole in the window like the beam of a flashlight.

Jenny put the gun in the holster still fixed to her thigh. Walking to the window, she kicked out hard. She felt the glass give way a little, and though she still couldn’t hear anything, she imagined it made a pretty satisfying crack. Her foot went through the glass on the second kick. She could hear a muffled tinkling. Her hearing was coming back.

The dim light was pouring into the train car. Jenny glanced around. Rotters littered the floor. There were bones everywhere, along with shreds of fabric, probably from the clothes of victims. She looked down at the rotter closest to her. He gave a twitch and then was still. Jenny narrowed her eyes. The rotter’s hand moved and her ears had cleared enough for her to hear the scrape of bone against the floor. It was his legs. It was the rotter she’d kicked. One of his legs had snapped off, and the other was broken, jutting out of filthy, shredded cargo pants. He gave a moan as her ears popped, and the scraping was instantly louder. Jenny turned to grab her knife off the seat, nearly tripping on a pile of clothes she didn’t realize were there. Grasping the knife, she turned to finish off the last rotter when a noise stopped her cold.

“Jenny?” It was a hoarse voice and her name came out as a croak. A man’s voice. She looked around. Her heart was beating in her ears again. The pile she had mistaken for clothes moved and she realized it was a man. A very thin man draped in larger clothes that hung off of his sallow body. He had been balled up before on the seat. A face blinked at her from his place in the fabric. She hiked up her skirt and took out the gun, leveling it at the man before he could blink again. She flicked her eyes to the knife on the seat next to him. He slowly raised his hands, wincing, like it pained him to do it. His face was emaciated. Shaggy dark hair fell in floppy curls around his ears.

“Is it you, Jen?” he croaked again. “The light hurts.”

Jenny frowned. “How do you know me?” Then the man did something strange. Slowly, almost tenuously, he smiled. He fucking smiled at her. His teeth were yellow. How long had he been here? And then she recognized him. All thoughts went out of her head. The arm holding the gun dropped to her side and she heard the gun clatter to the floor. She tried to speak, but no words would come out. She caught a harsh, rasping breath. Finally, she managed two syllables.

“Casey?”

“I wasn’t sure if you were alive,” he said. He stood up shakily, his clothes barely clinging to him. His tee shirt was brown with something that looked like dried blood.

Jenny shook her head. She couldn’t wrap her mind around this. “How are you…” She staggered back, suddenly feeling dizzy again. She caught herself against something soft and rank-smelling. A musty groan in her ear. Panicked, she tried to clamber away from the rotter. She kicked back with my boot, but it grasped her shoulders; it was weak, but Jenny was off-kilter and fell back against it. She felt something tear at the back of her neck. The fabric of her dress. Thrusting back with her elbows, she felt something brittle give way. But the rotter just grunted.

“Casey, help me!” she screamed. “The knife!”

Jenny saw him look back where she had pointed and reach for the knife. And then there was pain so intense that her vision went white again. She didn’t know when she started screaming, but she couldn’t stop. She felt her shoulder become warm and realized vaguely it was from her own blood. There was more tearing, but it wasn’t her dress. It was her. The rotter was ripping away a piece of her neck. She felt herself growing weak. And then she was falling back. Casey was standing over her with the knife and the rotter wasn’t moving any more.

There was more ripping, but this time it was her dress again. Casey came up with a wad of fabric. He must have cut the hem of her dress with a knife. It seemed funny to her for some reason and she laughed as he pushed the fabric into the wound in her neck. Then she looked at his face. Those brown eyes. They were paler than she remembered, but it was his eyes she’d seen all these years in her dreams. Leaving him had been the most horrible thing Jenny had ever done. She touched his arm. He looked on the verge of tears. He was so thin he almost looked like one of them. Like a rotter.

“I’m sorry,” Jenny said.

“For what?” he whispered.

“For leaving you. I shouldn’t have left you.”

“It’s okay, Jen. We have to get out of here. Can you stand?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. She felt wetness on her cheeks. “None of it matters. I’m dead now, Casey. You have to go.”

“Shut up,” he said, helping her up. He staggered as he pulled. His nostrils flared as she fell against him. He shut his eyes for a moment before he put her arm around his stick-thin shoulders. He got Jenny to the broken window.

“Can you climb out?” he said.

“There’s no point,” she said.

“Just fucking do it!” he said.

“Okay!” She put one leg out, but there was a short drop and she ended up tumbling out and falling on the concrete, catching herself with her hands. Casey dropped easily beside her. He offered a hand and Jenny stood up, her limbs feeling like jelly. Her head was pounding. Casey suddenly froze and she looked up to see what had spooked him.

A line of people stood against the tarp. Jenny blinked. Gradually she saw it was nearly all of the Righteous from the camp. She saw Lily staring at her, wide-eyed and crying, her fist pressed against her mouth. Joshua was staring at them, too, his eyes flicking from Jenny to Casey and back again. Cora stood beside him. Her eyes were hard, but her mouth was pulled down in a frown at the corners.

Jenny felt Casey raise his arm. She looked to see he was holding the gun. He aimed it at Joshua.

“Don’t try to follow us,” he said.

Joshua nodded.

“Kill him,” Jenny said, her voice breathy. Her whole body hurt. It felt like her nerves were on fire. “Kill him and his asshole wife who put me in there.”

Joshua looked at Cora.

“No, let’s go,” said Casey, pulling her. “No one needs to die.”

“I’ll do it,” Jenny said. “Give me the gun.” She held up her hand, but she was shivering. Her teeth chattered. She swallowed and her throat felt raw. The wound on the back of her neck was pulsating and she could almost feel infection spreading through her body. She was dying. Her eyes watered. Cora had killed her after all. Jenny looked at Cora then.

“You’re all going to die now,” Jenny said, her voice like shards of glass. “You know that, right? It won’t be me. I’ll be dead soon. I was the only thing standing between you and Declan Munro. He’s going to kill all of you for this. I can’t stop it any more. And I don’t want to stop it. You killed everyone when you pushed me in.”

Cora straightened and raised her head proudly. Joshua was staring at Jenny now. “Munro?” he said. He looked at Cora again. “What have you done?” Cora looked back at him, suddenly shaken. She frowned, confusion clouding her face.

“Come on, Jen,” Casey said urgently. “You don’t understand. We need to get away from here.”

“Okay,” Jenny said. Her eyes fell on Lily, though, as she turned to leave. The girl’s shoulders were shaking with sobs. She met Jenny’s eyes.

“Run,” Jenny said, remembering Declan’s words. “Just fucking run. Get as far away as you can. Save yourself, Lily. Save your baby. God doesn’t live here anymore.” Then Jenny let Casey pull her away from them up the tunnel, and they headed into the light.

JM

 

 

 

 

 

J.L. Murray likes adventure.

Raised in a tiny mill town in Northwestern Montana, J.L. had every intention of being anything but ordinary. After a shortlived marriage at the age of 19, J.L. decided to explore every facet life had to offer. She hitchhiked with friends. She went to Rainbow Gatherings all across the U.S. She lived on a farm. She explored the punk scene, fell in love, laughed loudly, and cried deeply.

When she met her husband, her adventurous spirit didn’t dry up. If anything, J.L.’s husband exacerbates her desire to explore. They have traveled to Europe together, with their two children in tow. They have lived in beautiful, ugly and ordinary places. These days they live in Hawaii, and spend their weekends exploring the islands.

J.L. is currently working on book four of the bestselling Niki Slobodian series, The Devil Is an Angel. She likes spicy food and the smell of the ocean. And she loves getting email.

http://www.jlmurraywriter.com/about.html

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The Dark Side of Romantic Literature

Before tweens and teens around the globe began to embrace Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, the themes of fantasy and romance have been intertwined in dark fantasy literature. For those with a lust for fantasy and dark fiction, you may have found that it’s difficult to find quality works that adequately delve into tales of eroticism and romance and include dark scenarios and characters. With many dark romantic fantasy stories, characters experience the same range of emotions and other significant elements that are in every other type of literature, making it easy for fans to fall in love with the characters, root for the villain, and always go back for more. If you aren’t familiar with dark fantasy romance or the use of erotic themes in the fantasy genre, here are a few books to get you started.

In Her Dreams

J.E. and M. Keep’s latest work introduces us to the dowdy, overweight Rita, a secretary with a boring, loveless life who dreams up the ideal man–a demon who showers her with affection and love she desperately needs. As she falls further and further in love with her new Incubus Master, Rita must decide whether to surrender to him completely or lose her one true love forever.

Lunewulf Law

Does the thought of Alcide fromThe Souther Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse series (or the HBO showTrue Blood) make quiver? Then the books in the Lunewulf series are novels you’ll want to ravish. The first book in the Lunewulf series written by Lorie O’Clare, Lunewulf Law is the perfect introduction to dark fantasy romance literature for those just getting into the genre. In book one, we learn of the unexpected attack by humans on a lunewulf pack, which has lead to the destruction of their pack and left only a few single female lunwulves old enough to mate. This causes the creation of lunewulf law which demands that every female have three males to mate with. Naturally, this creates a dilemma for the honorable, monogamous lunewulf, like the novel’s hero Nik, who prefer not to have their lunewulf lover mate with another.

Dark Lord: The Complete Serial Novel

If you’re a fan of bondage and kink–you’ve read 50 Shades of Grey multiple times and frequently purchased kinky sex toys from Adam & Eve–but also enjoy stories about alternate universes and aliens, then the Dark Lord series is a good place to begin your journey into romance with a twisted, dark fantasy theme. Based in the fictional land of Flourda, Dark Lord tells the tale of Lord Devereux Langley, grandson of the Queen of Flourda, who doesn’t quite fit in with his royal family due to his impure bloodline. As a result, his family has kept him hidden from the public eye. Even worse, his birth defects, including venomous fangs, have kept him from finding a worthy mate. If he doesn’t, he will be castrated and made an eunuch according to Flourdan law.

fantasyromance

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In Thanks!

To all the men and women of our armed forces, fire and rescue, police, nurses, and anyone who works to ensure the public safety and health, active or retired, I want to thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Through the holiday season, I’ll be giving away free eBook copies of any and all of my works. All you have to do is email me at tim[at]tmarquitz[dot]com and tell me what you want and in what electronic format (PDF, mobi, epub.) It’s as simple as that. You can find my books here.

*The plan is also to ask my fellow authors to donate a book or two, as well, that I can add to the selection. Those authors and their works will be posted below:

The Bottom of the Sea – Zachary Jernigan

Edward M. Erdelac – Coyote’s Trail & Merkabah Rider Tales of a High Plains Drifter

Once more, thank you for all you do for us as a society. You’re often overlooked and underappreciated, but I want y’all to know how much you mean to me and mine this holiday season. Thank you.

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Authors/Editors/Publishers: If you have a book you would like to donate to this cause, feel free to email it to me at tim[at]tmarquitz[dot]com. It will be used only to provide copies to the folks listed above and will be deleted as soon as the holiday event is over.

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New Low Prices on the Demon Squad!

While Armageddon Bound, book 1 in the Demon Squad series is still just 99 cents on eBook, both Resurrection (DS2) and At the Gates (DS3) are now only $3.95 on eBook (much reduced from the previous publisher’s $5.95) and are only $9.49 in paperback (down from $18.99.)

You can pick up the entire series on eBook for just slightly over $20, culminating in the latest entry, The Best of Enemies!

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Kenny Soward’s Vlog!

Kenny Soward is the author of the awesome Gnomesaga series, Rough Magic being the first in the series, released March 2013. He’s also the primary writer on the Dead West series with Joe Martin and myself. On top of his fantastic word monkey skills, Kenny’s also a natural entertainer and teacher. Here he is bringing his wit and wisdom to the video world. Take a gander at his videos below and leave a comment if you’d like to see more.

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The Blackest of All Fridays!

Been on the lookout for an urban fantasy series that doesn’t cater to the norm? Want a raw and action-packed, literary kick to the cerebellum? Six books in and counting, the Demon Squad delivers. And now, for a limited time, Armageddon Bound (DS1) is only 99 cents on eBook in celebration of the release of book 6, The Best of Enemies, on December 6!

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Half-devil and miles from anything resembling heroic, perpetual underdog Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg is the last man standing against Armageddon.

As the favorite nephew of the Devil, Frank has led a troubled life, but he’d always had his uncle’s influence to fall back on. Now, with God and Lucifer coming to terms and leaving existence to fend for itself, his once exalted status of Anti-Christ-to-be does little to endear him to the hordes of angels and demons running amok in the Godless world.

With help from the members of DRAC, an organization of wizards, psychics, telepaths, and low-end supernatural beings, Frank must thwart the pro-Armageddon forces and rescue an angel in whose life rests the fate of humanity.

Better luck next time, humanity.

Praise for the Demon Squad:

“Witty, sarcastic and hilarious.  I thought I had bad days, but Frank Triggaltheron has the worst as demons, angels and his succubus ex-wife try to kill him at every turn.  A very enjoyable story with erotic undertones.  I was intrigued by the imaginative and descriptive writing style.”  ~ Michelle at Publishers Weekly

“This book turned out be another excellent, surprise read for me and was easily one of the best debuts I have ever read recently. If Tim Marquitz continues to improve upon his writing, I can see a bright future for him; for the many readers who are always on the lookout for the next breakout series, the Demon Squad IMHO is the answer for all you folks.”    ~ Mihir at Fantasy Book Critic

“I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I expect the fun to continue in the future installments.” ~ Ryan Lawler at Fantasy Book Review

Trigg isn’t just a breath of fresh air, he is a damn hurricane, and he certainly swept me off my feet. It didn’t take long for him to become my favorite underdog ever, despite all his flaws.” ~ Maja at the Nocturnal Library

“Marquitz is a unique voice in a genre dominated by the same-old same-old.” ~ Sarah at Bookworm Blues

“Brutal and dark with an uncompromising flair, this is a book that is less like a fine wine and more like a shot of mid-shelf whiskey; quickly ingested, delivering an enjoyable and satisfying taste, while leaving the consumer with a thirst for more.” ~ Ryan at Battle Hymns

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DS6 The Best of Enemies – Chapter One

One

Boredom is a cancer.

It chews at your guts, gnawing away at your patience, bite after torturous bite, until there’s nothing left but the bitter, withered core, desiccated of all restraint.

For most folks, that’s how they feel waiting for the weekend to roll around. At least they get a weekend. Friday’s been teasing me blue. It’d been damn near two months of Mondays piled up like a Bangkok traffic jam since I returned to Hell, and it was wearing on me.

I let out a loud yawn and yelled at the stage, “You call that acting?” My temples throbbed, the start of my daily headache coming on.

The dread fiend turned to me, a stringy line of spittle swinging from its lower lip. Tiny rainbows flickered off it beneath the makeshift stage lights.

“C’mon, fuzzy butt. Where’s the dedication to your craft? Where’s the passion?” I thought about that last bit for a second and waved the fiend off before it could grunt an answer. “Never mind.” I’d seen more than enough passion when they reenacted Oedipus Rex. Who’d have thought watching a dread fiend humping its mother would make a guy uncomfortable?

Chatterbox rattled his head beside me, the maggots in his eyes rolling around in a sea of murky disappointment. “Tsssssk, tssssssssk, tssssssssk—

“Yeah, I hear you, buddy. At least they’re over the show tunes phase.” Now that was hell. “Get off the stage, Keanu.”

The fiend grumbled something and slunk away through the curtains, leaving them to sway in its wake. Sadly, it only took the stink of its performance with it. The rest of its funk lingered.

Saaaaaavvaaaaataaaaggggeeeeee,” Chatterbox rumbled.

“Yeah, this is no rock opera, that’s for sure.” Where was Jon Oliva when you needed him?

The chair creaked as I slumped into it with a huff. We’d tried to do the gladiator thing for a while but there’s only so many times you can listen to a fiend mumble, “Are you not entertained?” before the magic wears off. For that matter, the shine had rubbed off everything after about the first week of being cooped up in Hell. It felt more and more like a prison every day, minus the benefits of a good spooning and post-coital smoke.

I’d hunkered down to let Rahim and Katon cool off a little before I faced them again, but the wait was killing me. Katon had only just begun to trust me before I snatched the alien out from under them. He’d been waiting forever for me to live up to my lineage and betray DRAC, but I hadn’t done it. Well, not until he started to actually believe I wouldn’t.

I guess if you’re gonna burn a bridge, make it count, right? No doubt the folks on the space station saw that one go up in flames.

Given enough time, I suspected Katon and Rahim would understand why I’d done it, but I wasn’t expecting any tongue in our makeup kiss, if we even made it that far. I certainly wouldn’t be copping a feel. The looks on their faces right before I disappeared with Mihheer told me I’d cashed in all the good will I’d been building up between us.

At least with Katon, I knew what to expect: violence. He’d want my ass for stabbing them in the back. If he had his way, my head would sit proudly above his fireplace alongside the rest of his demonic trophies. He was gonna be mad, and I couldn’t blame him, but anger and an attempted ass whoopin’ were something I could deal with.

Rahim, on the other hand, wouldn’t be so easy to anticipate. Even though I’d helped mend his broken back by giving him Lucifer’s blood, I couldn’t really expect that to play a factor in his reasoning. Compassion and fond memories were crutches the old man would never lean on. If he felt I was a threat to the world—and seeing how I was currently toting around the lion’s share of Longinus’ power, how could he not?  He would be game planning how to resolve that threat. It wouldn’t be something as blatant as a shot to the head like the DSI folks had done not too long back, but that was what worried me. No, if Rahim decided it was my time to go, I’d likely never see him coming.

A chuckle welled up inside me at the thought, and I ran my hands through the wild growth sprouting on my head. While I couldn’t help but think like the old me, things were different now; way different. It had yet to sink all the way in, but I wasn’t the same Frank who’d left for parts unknown a couple months back. I was Daddy’s boy in every way imaginable now: the Anti-Christ, proud owner of the best parking space in Hell.

I raised my hand and made the sign of the horns, summoning my magic without effort. It was so easy now. Flickers of energy danced at my fingertips with the grace of ballerinas. Dio would be so proud. I drew in a deep breath as my eyes followed the wisps of power, the acrid scent of brimstone filling my nose and chasing away the smell of dread fiend. A smile peeled my lips back.

If DRAC—or anyone else, for that matter—thought I’d roll over for them, they had another thing coming, and I didn’t mean the Judas Priest song. I hadn’t asked for Longinus’ magic, hadn’t wanted any of it, but there was no taking it back now. That pooch was well and truly screwed. It was my bitch now. That thought didn’t help my head any.

I glanced over at Chatterbox as he hummed the opening riff to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and snapped my fingers to get his attention, sparks fluttering as I doused my magic. His gory eyeballs squished in their sockets when they rolled to face me.

“Anything?”

His looking away told me everything I needed to know. Karra was still giving me the silent treatment. I sank into my seat. More than anything I could lay the blame on, she was the reason I wasn’t sleeping. Even when I managed to squeeze a few hours in, my dreams were filled with distorted images I couldn’t make out and horrific memories I could see all too clearly. More times than I wanted to remember, I’d woken up screaming, bathed in sweat and trembling. Every single time, Karra was there in my head when I woke up. She just wasn’t there in the real world.

She’d gone home as soon as we returned to Hell, but I hadn’t seen or heard from her since. Wasn’t sure if I ever would. That thought was poison. Deep down, I knew she would always have a hard time coping with me being the inheritor of her father’s power, of his soul. She could never look at me and not see the man who killed and devoured everything her father had ever been, but that didn’t stop me from wanting her and the baby with me.

I sighed, not even knowing if it was a boy or a girl. Would I ever get to see my child, hold it in my arms, watch it stumble across the room at its first steps and hear the first of its garbled words that tumbled from its mouth?

Another chuckle crept up my throat.

Yeah, like I was father material. I could imagine telling the story of how Lou and I made a habit of killing Grandpa Longinus. It was like a holiday tradition, the two of us stringing him up and hitting him until presents spewed from his guts like a piñata. Yay! Good times, kid. I could see that going over well at the family picnic.

“That, child, is why your mother hates me.” The words tumbled from my mouth, my tongue stinging with the bitterness. While I wanted to be sad, wanted to cry and throw a fit, a strange sense of numbness had come over me. Day by day the sorrow became a little less painful, a little less present. I sank into my seat with a huff.

Chatterbox glanced at me, one ragged eyebrow raised.

“Yes, I’m talking to myself, and no I haven’t gone crazy.”

His other eyebrow perked up.

“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice or I’ll cut off your subscription to Wank!

His lower lip drooped and the maggots went still. A trickle of yellow pus ran down his cheek.

“Oh, settle down, you big baby. I wouldn’t really do it.”

Chatterbox wiggled and raised his chin, sucking back a sniffle. “Boooooooobbbssss?

I jumped up from my seat, arms raised to the cavernous sky. “Yes, boobs. Let there be boobs; boobs everywhere. On the stage, in the chairs, on the ceiling, and even on the…” A quick leap landed me in the theater aisle, where I spun about, gesticulating wildly with my hands.

Rala stood in the entryway, staring at me.

“…doorknobs.” My arms dropped to my sides. Shit didn’t rhyme anyway.

Chatterbox whistled and looked away.

“Uh, hi?”

“Hi, yourself.”

The little alien shook her head, her thumb and forefinger pinching the bridge of her nose where the dark, zebra stripes radiated out across the orange of her face. She looked as tired as I felt. “Uh, if you’re not too busy, uh, dancing, singing…or…whatever it is you’re doing…” she started, “I could probably use your help.”

“I don’t know. Got a lot going on…the second act coming up, and stuff.” I gestured to the empty stage and had an unfortunate flashback of the dread fiend mating rituals that had warped the floorboards. “Well, maybe I could spare a minute.”

She exhaled hard and spun about, waving me on while waddling off as fast as her stubby little legs could take her.

I hurried after her. “Why the rush?”

Rala cleared her throat. “You know that stupid book you have me trying to translate?”

Like I’d forget. Outside of Karra, that’d been all that was on my mind. “You figured something out?” A flush of excitement warmed my cheeks, chasing away my weariness. She’d been working at it with no success since we’d returned to Hell.

“Yes. Well, no, not exactly,” she said. “Maybe.”

For a second, I thought the wormy little translator embedded under my skin had shriveled up and died, so I tapped my arm to get it working, not that I really needed it; she spoke perfect English thanks to her own translator. I realized then I could understand the words Rala was speaking, she just wasn’t making any sense.

“What are you rambling on about?”

She quickened her pace.

“I think I might have, uh…summoned something.”

The words brought me to a halt. “Wait? You might have?”

Rala shook her head and let out a sigh, but didn’t stop walking. I hurried to catch up.

“Well, I’m not—” she started, and then waved the rest of the sentence off. “Forget it. Come and see for yourself.”

She kept on, winding her way through the labyrinthine passages of Lucifer’s old quarters—I doubted I’d ever really imagine them as mine regardless who held the deed—until she slipped through the archway that led to the God-proof room. A flicker of angst needled me as I followed her inside.

The first thing I did when I returned to Hell was have the dread fiends clean up what was left of the alien Mihheer. Buckets and buckets of the guy were slopped out and dumped into a fiery pit. The alien didn’t smell much better dead than he did alive, let alone charred. I felt sorry for cannibals on his world, having to put up with such stink, but then again, they probably didn’t leave their victims sitting around rotting for weeks at a time.

Once all the ooze was cleaned up, and the fiends had farted the place into a semblance of less funky, I’d rearranged the chamber to seal off the section where Longinus had put the screws to Mihheer and created a room for Rala to work at translating the book Lucifer had mailed home. I still had no clue what the stupid thing was, but it nagged at me, even in my dreams. It was almost as if the thing had wanted me to figure out what it was. Simply because I though Lucifer would shit his pants if I did, I kept at it.

Now, Rala might well have done exactly that. The base of my neck tingled with eerie excitement.

We turned the corner as something slammed into the closed door of the small room. It sounded like a King Kong sized poop; a muddy slap. Rala hesitated a few feet from the door, and made me step around her to get closer. That should have been the first clue that I didn’t want to see what was on the other side. I did anyway, leaning in close and peering through the tiny window I’d had the fiends install so I could watch Rala’s progress without interrupting her.

A fuzzy shadow obscured my vision, weird colors blurring past, and then it was gone. The room appeared then, looking no worse for wear than it had before. But that was when I felt it.

Soft, like a feather brushing across skin, there was an energy emanating from the room. There weren’t any of the blunt swells of active magic. It was more the crackling feeling of a dimensional rift, the distant merger of two realities. My eyes were drawn to an emerald green circle, which floated in the center of the room. It was no bigger than a softball, but there was no mistaking the wisps of frantic energy whirling in its depths. It was, without a doubt, a portal to another world. Which one, however, was the question that popped to mind, but it nagged at the back of my mind as though I should recognize it. I didn’t though.

“It’s like a slimy glory hole,” I said as I tore my eyes from it, letting them wander the room, searching for the little critter.

“Glory hole?” Rala asked at my back.

“Guess they don’t have those where you come from, huh?” I chuckled. There was no need to corrupt the youth of an alien civilization. I wasn’t that much of a rebel. “Never mind.” A patchy shadow flitted into view, circling below the portal for a moment before it settled. My eyes lighted on it.

About the size of a medium pizza, the strange creature looked as if it were a cross between a spider and a mutant cockroach. It had somewhere near thirty legs jutting out from beneath a hairy carapace, which squirmed with dark tendrils like thick worms. Four milky eyeballs sprouted from what I presumed was its face, tiny black dots in each swimming a different direction and never seeming to land on the same spot. Jagged pincers clacked below. Its back end raised and lowered, almost mechanically, like a lowrider with a short in its hydraulics. The damn thing was ugly, but it looked about as threatening as a Chihuahua.

“That’s what chased you off?” I pressed my finger against the glass as I turned to look at Rala. “Seriously? You can turn into a dragon.”

She shrugged. “Wyvern, and I don’t remember squishing bugs being part of my job. ‘Translate the damn book, shorty,’ you said, and I quote.”

Just my luck I’d stumbled across the only alien with a photographic memory and a bad attitude. Teenagers are obviously the same everywhere. I raised my hands in surrender.

“Fine, I’ll take care of it.”

The critter still sat beneath the portal when I popped the door open and slipped inside, sealing the place before the thing had a chance to get out. The second I was in the room, all four eyes drew together on me. It let out a cute little squee and charged, legs skittering across the floor. My hand went instinctively to my hip before I remembered I didn’t have my guns on me. Hadn’t since I’d come to Hell, but reaching for them was a hard habit to break. They’d been a part of me for a very long time.

The thing closed as my brain clicked into gear, and I smiled as my power welled up. Unlike a gun, magic is all about imagination.

Before the little monster could get close enough to put its pincers to use, I summoned a giant, medieval flyswatter and brought it down on top of the thing. Spikes of energy ripped into it before the full force of the spell slammed down. There was a brittle pop and gooey, yellow-green juices squished out from beneath the swatter. The thing squirmed for a second or two before going limp, bubbles of pus seeping loose as I released my magic. There was a quiet hiss, and then silence.

The door creaked open at my back, and I heard Rala’s footsteps as she came over to stand alongside me.

“That’s…disturbing,” she muttered as the spider-thing goop slowly spread across the stone floor.

Before I could agree, a subtle glimmer drew my gaze to the portal. It pulsed, glowing brighter and then fading, beating its last as though it were a dying heart. Then it disappeared altogether, its tingling presence gone in an instant.

“Can you bring it back?”

Rala shrugged. “I’m not even sure what I did to make it open in the first place.” She stared at the place where the portal had been and rubbed at her temples. “Besides, I don’t think this place is helping.”

Not sure what she meant, I motioned for her to go on.

“I don’t know how to describe it, but I could feel the energy building, but it was awkward, slow…like walking through dragsand.”

“Quicksand?”

A quiet sigh slipped loose, her eyes drifting in their sockets as she searched for the right word. “A swamp,” she said after a moment.

While the translators were great for allowing us to understand each other, they weren’t very good when it came to cultural differences, and there were a bunch of those. I often found myself yelling like that would make what I said easier to understand.

Regardless, though, I knew what she was getting at. I glanced around the room and nodded. The main reason I’d set her up in there was to ensure no one got a whiff of what we were doing with the book. Not knowing what we were getting into, I didn’t want DRAC or Heaven to come sniffing around, but by putting her up in the God-proof room, I was likely limiting any success she might have. The fact that she’d been able to do anything at all with it, even there, was a good sign. I glanced back at the door and wondered if she’d have more luck somewhere else in Hell when a thought hit me.

Why bother?

“You up for a road trip?”

Rala looked at me, nothing remotely resembling excitement plastered across her face.

“C’mon, it’ll be fun,” I told her, putting a hand on her shoulder and spinning her around so she faced the door, not giving her the option of saying no. “Pack the book and tell old Vol you’re stepping out. I’ll meet you back here in twenty minutes.”

I left her there while I went off to collect my own things. Cooped up for two months with nothing but dread fiends, a disembodied zombie on a Stryper kick, and two aliens to keep me company, it was time to stretch my legs.

Besides, the coffee in Hell sucks.

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