A Christmas Ghost Story – A holiday gift to my readers and fellow bloggers

winter-home

I styled this tale in the old English tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas eve and/or Christmas night. The stories were usually meant to creep in on you and slowly get under your skin. The Christmas Ghost Stories were not typically visceral or gory and they often relayed a larger social message. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens was a story that came about because of this tradition. I rushed to get this story posted before the holiday so I didn’t go over it as much as I would have liked to. So, if you see any mistakes or type-o’s be sure to let me know so I can correct them. Thanks.

This is a little longer in length than the stories I have posted here in the past, so give yourself at least a 10 minute window to read this.

 

Anyways, this is my gift to you on this holiday. Enjoy



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Yule Tide
Michael Thomas-Knight

  

It was seventeen years ago, when we lost Uncle Bernie. His passing had changed the whole dynamic of the family and our holiday celebrations were never the same. The strange circumstances regarding his death and the haunting aspects of that year’s holiday bring chills to my spine and an unsettled feeling to my soul. Even now, so many years later and an adult, I get the willies as the Christmas Holiday grows nearer.

I picked up my cellphone, checked for messages and turned the sound off. Noting that I had gathered the attention of everyone at the table, I had no choice but to continue relaying the story of Uncle Bernie’s disappearance though I was loathed to do so.

Every year, on Christmas day, after opening our presents, we had to get dressed and prepared for our trip. We bundled up and packed the holiday fruitcake for the long ride from Long Island to upstate, NY. Our family jumped into my dad’s Dodge Durango for our yearly Christmas pilgrimage to Aunt Tilly’s. It seemed unfair to me and my sister Brianna, that we had to leave our fun behind shortly after opening Christmas gifts, but Mom allowed us to take two items each for the trip, provided they would fit in the trunk with the rest of the celebratory items.

An early morning snowfall had slowed traffic to a crawl and the George Washington Bridge resembled a drive-in theater. Despite the four-wheel drive, it was slow moving through the icy mountain roads. Plow trucks kept the snow from piling up, but Route 17 still resembled an ice skating rink. It was nearly days’ end when we turned onto the extended driveway leading to our holiday destination. We were the last family to get to Aunt Tilly’s.

It was truly a perfect winter scene, a Currier and Ives painting come to life for the Christmas holiday. Aunt Tilly’s country home, a medium-sized Victorian, with a decorated porch and snow covered peaks, waited warmly at the end of the long snow shoveled path. The home was decorated elegantly with white and blue twinkle lights, red ribbons, and gold bells. A large wreath with gold balls adorned the front door. A ten-foot blue spruce in the front yard was decorated likewise, donning white lights, red bows and giant gold ornaments. The snow that had fallen earlier in the day reflected the lights and colors in the waning daylight. After Uncle Frank had passed away, Aunt Tilly hired a crew to decorate the home for the holiday every year. As we exited the vehicle, a small tuft of smoke billowed from the chimney and a golden orange fire in the fireplace was in view through the large bay windowchristmas-decorations-wreath adjacent to the front door.

The party was in full swing as we greeted everyone, Uncle Bernie, Uncle Nash and Aunt Barbara, Cousin Jimmy and his fiancé, Kim, and of course Aunt Tilly. After the greetings, we went to our guest room to unpack and settle in. Mom and Dad were talking and I was at the age where I was interested in the talk of adults. Mom was saying to Dad, “I saw Aunt Tilly give Uncle Bernie money, about two-hundred dollars.” My ten-year-old curiosity got the best of me and I butted in.

“Why did Aunt Tilly give Uncle Bern money?”

“Why don’t you mind your own beeswax,” was my father’s response. My Mom was a bit more diplomatic.

“We don’t won’t to repeat that, Peter.”

“Why not?”

“Because Uncle Bern is very private and very proud and he wouldn’t want everyone to know that he needed to borrow money. Do you understand?”

I said, yes, but I really didn’t see why there was a big deal. I understood when I was older, but at the time I didn’t. Soon after, we went back downstairs for Christmas dinner and that year I stayed at the table for all the adult talk afterward. Some of it I understood and laughed along with the adults. Some of it I didn’t understand, but I do remember the discussion that led up to Uncle Bern’s sudden outburst.

‘Well, what do you suppose we do, what would be a fair tax rate to you Nash?” My Dad was saying.

“Nothin’,” Uncle Nash yelled. He was loud and boisterous and his voice filled the dining-room. “…that’s what we should be paying for taxes, nothin! Bunch a money grubbing lazy scum collecting welfare and unemployment, eating up all my profits.”

“You do realize that taxes go into building roads and infrastructure which enables people to get to your stores.”

“There would be roads, I’d build them myself, ha, ha. All the roads would lead right to the front door of my store.”

“And what about garbage collection?” Cousin Jimmy asked.

“Don’t need that either. I have three trucks, can haul my own garbage to the dump.”

“Well that’s great Nash, but not everyone is as lucky as you…” my Mom was saying but got cut off by Uncle Nash.

“Lucky nothin’. I got what I got outta’ talent.”

“And your father-in-law handing you an already successful business, no reflection on you Barbara,” my Dad said.

“No, don’t drag me into this. I don’t get involved in my husband’s business.”

“Let me tell you something, I have to claw and scratch to save every dollar from going to taxes. Do you realize my association has sent a quarter million to the lobbyists in DC to fight for us?”

“If you just paid the taxes it would probably cost less.”

“It’s not the money, it’s the principle. When we get the right person in office, someone with balls, he’ll cut out Welfare and Social Security and Medicare and all that freebee nonsense…”

Aunt Tilly finally looked up from her coffee. Her eyes were squinted and she pursed her lips before speaking.

“Nash, I collect Social Security and I’m on Medicare. How do you think I can live here in this house?”

Nash seemed to have talked himself into a sticky corner and he sat there with his mouth open.

“Frank and I worked our whole lives, paying taxes and contributing to our country’s economy. We worked through hard times for spit wages and struggled our whole lives to have a good home. In our sixties, we both got old and sick. Do you think we should just get kicked out of our home and live in the street?”

“Well I’m not talkin’ bout you Aunt Til, I’m talkin’ bout younger people that are able to work,” Nash said.

Uncle Bernie kept his head down for most of the discussion but looked up at this point. He had a sharp focus on Nash and it wasn’t a kindly look.

“Maybe you should think about the situations of all people before flapping your yap.” Aunt Tilly glanced in Bernie’s direction before she continued her thought.

“Sometimes people run into misfortunes and they need a little help. There’s enough money in this country that no American should go hungry.”

Aunt Tilly hoped that would’ve ended the discussion but Nash wasn’t finished. He had one too many in him and he always had to win, whether it was a discussion or an argument, he had to have the final word.

“Well, aside from you boomers who defended this country in World War II, everyone else should be cut off.”

“Nash, shut up,” Uncle Bernie said. He used a low voice but there was a seething rage masked behind his expression. Nash continued as if Bern hadn’t said a thing.

“A bunch of lazy do-nothin’s come-a-callin’ Uncle Nash when the run out of charity, grubbing up all my tax money.”

Bernie turned to Nash again with red cheeks and gritted teeth.

“I said shut your face, Nash!”

Uncle Bernie slammed his fists down on the table.

“Aye, what the hell is your problem?”

“I just want you to shut the fuck up!”

Uncle Bern’s anger was no longer under his control. He jumped up knocking the chair to the floor and stormed out of the room. Aunt Tilly jumped up and ran after him. Nash had his jaw hanging and eyes wide, not understanding the outburst.

“What’s eatin’ him?” He asked.

My Mom explained to Nash in simple terms.

“Bernie has been out of work for a while since his company moved all those jobs overseas. He’s been having trouble finding a job. He’s needed some of the freebee help as you call it.”

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Uncle Nash shrugged his shoulders and took a bite out of his Italian cookie.

Everyone startled when the front door slammed. A rush of winter air raced through the rooms scattering a few stray snowflakes with it. A moment later Aunt Tilly came back into the dining room with her head hung low.
“He went out for a walk, in this stormy weather. Maybe you should go apologize, Nash.”

“Ah, let him walk it off. He’ll realize he’s just being over sensitive. Sometimes I swear he must be gay.”

Now my Dad was annoyed and there was a sharpness in his voice that I had heard a few times before, usually when he was disciplining me or my sister.
“He’s not gay, he was married, remember? And even if he was, that doesn’t give you the right to offend him?”

“Aye, I didn’t mean anything by it and besides, he did tell me to shut the fuck up. Doesn’t anyone care about my feelings?”

The party broke up quickly after that, everyone heading to their respective guest rooms with a solemn goodnight. Mom and Dad were in the bed and me and Brianna had set up sleeping bags and air mattresses on each side of it. The TV was on low and my parents were talking quietly in bed. Eventually, the conversation withered and silence settled over the room. I whispered, “Brianna, Brianna”, several times but she didn’t answer. I assumed she was asleep. I could hear the howling wind whipping around the house over the low volume of the TV. 

I was having trouble sleeping. The strange house, the storm, the tension at the dinner table. It was all keeping me from settling down. There were never these great divides in the family in the past. Or maybe I just never noticed. I just remembered the holiday celebrations as fun with everyone smiling and having a good time. I texted Bri, hoping she was still awake and would want to text me back. I heard her phone chime and she rustled in her sleeping bag, but she didn’t answer.

At two in the morning, the power went out in the home. The TV pulsed and became dark and the nightlight across the room winked out. The home became silent, like an empty tomb. The wind howled and wailed like a painful mourner, pressing its icy breath against the frosted windows. I looked at my I-phone to see if Bri had texted me; she had not. On the other side of the bed which sat between us, she may as well have been in a different state for the loneliness I felt. I pulled the sleeping bag up to my chin and closed my eyes. There was something unsettling in the night that went beyond the family tensions and escalating storm.

I could not exactly tell if I had fallen asleep or hovered in that twilight between wake and snooze but the Eminem ring tone on my I-phone startled me to attention. I felt around in Darkness and found the phone by my side, bringing its cool light to my face. It read ‘no name’ in the window that would identify the caller. The wind subsided for a moment causing the ringtone and vibration to seem extra loud in the room so I pressed the answer bar and brought the phone slowly to my ear. There was static and then I heard the wind through the phone, the sound rising and falling like waves on a snowy sea. The sound was then mimicked from outside the home as if I was hearing the same windblast twice, once through the phone and moments later outside the window as it arrived here several seconds later.

“Hello,” I said into the phone, twice, but no voice returned, only the icy whispering of the polar wind.

Frightened, I ended the call pressing the red bar at the bottom of the screen.

I sat there looking at the screen in disbelief, feeling like I should tell someone about the incident.

That’s when I begot an even steeper startle as Brianna’s phone began to ring. It was a Jonas Brother’s song and sounded ironic and silly calling out through the bedroom at this late hour. Bri woke up this time and sat up. I got to my knees looking over the bed at her face, blue in the light of the screen, as her lazy mouth mumbled into the phone.

“Hello, hello?” She said, the same as I had moments earlier. She listened for a long second and I saw the sleep leave her face, replaced by an inexplicable terror. She disconnected the call and threw the phone away from her before noticing I had been watching.

“Bri, who was it?” I asked.

“No one,” she whispered, “Just the wind of the storm came through.”

“But you look scared, no?”

“Yes. I don’t know why, but it frightened me.”

Then we heard, from outside the room, perhaps down the hall in another guest’s room, another cell phone ring. This one had an actual ‘ring’ like an old-time phone. A moment later another ringtone began over the sound of the first one, a standard crystal chimes tone. In another moment yet another snow-christmas-tree-widephone began to ring out, this one from the room directly across the hall, Aunt Tilly’s bedroom.

I looked to Brianna and she looked to me.

“Peter, I’m scared,” she said.

I was about to calm her nerves with some lame excuse when my dad’s phone on the night table went off, ringing through the dark.

Brianna let out a scream and both Mom and Dad sat up to investigate the commotion. Dad picked up the phone and said, “Hello,” then listened. A moment later, he hung up without uttering another word.

Shortly, family members had gathered in the hall, concurring that each had received the same strange phone call. Aunt Tilly and my Dad bustled down the hallway to Uncle Bernie’s room only to find the bed still made and not slept in.

“He never came back from his walk,” my Dad said.

“That was more than five hours ago,” Aunt Tilly added. She turned to the family with creased wrinkles and a frown pulling her face in dismay.

“Do you think that was Uncle Bern calling?” Jimmy asked.

My Dad walked to the night table holding up his phone for light. He picked up another phone from the night table.

“Uncle Bernie didn’t take his phone with him.”

“So, that was him calling from someone else’s phone, that’s why it had no identification with the calls,” Uncle Nash said.

Aunt Barbara disagreed. “But, all the phones were ringing at once,” she said.

The family gathered in the kitchen as Aunt Tilly called the police. The Police explained how the roads were cut off and even the plows were stuck in this blizzard. They assured Aunt Tully that Uncle Bern most likely found shelter at a neighbor’s home or a local pub and would be fine. They promised to search as soon as they could get the roads clear enough to get up this way. Uncle Nash made an attempt to go searching for his brother, bragging about his Four-Wheel-Drive Bronco, but the snow was too deep and the truck did little more than rock a few feet in either direction as we watched from the window.

We were snowed in for several days before warm temperatures and some melting allowed the plows to get through. The police came shortly thereafter with the sad news. They had found Uncle Bernie frozen to death, clinging to the tower off of route 17, about a mile down the road.

“What kind of tower was it?” My dad had asked, but had seemed to already know the answer. It was a cell phone signal-booster tower which had been erected a year prior.

There were hushed conversations about the late night calls we had received, but the adults were careful not to talk in front of us kids. We were pretty freaked out by the whole chain of events, regardless. We stayed for Uncle Bernie’s funeral and that was the last time I had seen that side of my family.

I paused my story debating whether I should add the next part to my retelling. I decided to tell my friends gathered here tonight, to instill the impact of the events and their lasting consequences.

Two years ago, after 15 years of getting the calls on Christmas night, Uncle Nash took his own life. The guilt tore him apart from the inside out. Yes, we got the “no name” calls every year since Uncle Bernie passed away, never fail. Didn’t matter if we changed phones, changed numbers, moved…the phones would ring every Christmas night at 2:20 am. I’ll be expecting my annual call tonight. Till this day, they are a reminder not to abandoned our fellow man and to understand the needs of others.

 


 

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The Five Stages of Writing

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Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? The 5 Stages of Writing

The Five Stages of Writing

There are five stages I take to get a fiction story from inside my head to a finished work, ready for publication. You may find you follow these or similar stages. It’s a way of organizing my work. When I follow this in stages I never get stuck on what to do next and I never have to do the same work twice (such as rechecking the grammar after I’ve made changes to the story).


STAGE 1 – Incubation period

I’ll have an incubation period where I take the idea of the story and add to it as new thoughts come into my head. I’ll write notes about different scenes, descriptions of the characters, possible endings, develop scenes that will demonstrate the conflict(s) in the story best. Sometimes I’ll collect pics and photos from the internet and add them to a file folder. I’ll look at these pics in order to influence my story or help with descriptions.

I like to have times where I’ll sit in silence and let my imagination go into the story. I see a scene play out in my head like a movie and take mental note of the setting, characters and pacing. I do this without stopping to write anything down. If I stop to write, it breaks up the flow of the scene. Once the scene has played out to the end, I’ll put it on paper.

I will do some research on items, settings, people, cultural beliefs, similar story ideas, myths and legends, and anything else that will pertain to the story. If there is a mythology or a previous ‘world building’ that is accepted by the general public, then you have to follow those guidelines in order to keep the story in a suspension of disbelief. You can add to the mythology, but the basic premise has to coincide with people’s beliefs. For instance, if you’re writing a story about Slenderman and you give a description of his face that is inconsistent than the accepted mythology (he has no face) the reader will not continue reading.

I’ll also determine if a story is developed enough to ensure I can write freely. Sometimes I’ll do this with an outline, sometimes with notes I’ve been taking and other times I’ll have it all in my head.

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STAGE 2 – Write it

I’ll often think of the opening line first. What that will be, will depend on how close to the major conflict you want to start the story. It’s best to start in some sort of action, either physical, mental or dramatic, in order to get the reader hooked. It’s also important to get the reader emotionally involved with your character early on.

I’ll try to write a little every day until the story is finished. I don’t usually try to follow a word count quota. That works well for many writers, but if I force myself to write on a day when my mind isn’t completely engaged by my own story, I wind up throwing what I’ve written that day in the trash. So, I’ll start with a paragraph and if I get that ‘flow’ going, that energy that many writers call their muse, I’ll continue writing for as long as the ideas are coming. I’ll also write no matter where I am. If an idea comes to me when I’m out, I’ll pull out my kindle, write my scene in an email and send it to my desktop computer. When I’m home I’ll copy and paste it into my storyline.

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STAGE 3 – Edit it – (aka: drafting)

This is done many times, creating many drafts. This stage involves getting the story into shape so a reader will understand and enjoy it. I will work on pacing, settings, character development and arcs, story arc, and understandability (is that a word?). I’ll check the continuity. I’ll add more story to places that may need it and remove aspects that do not add to the story. One piece of advice I always liked was, make believe Judge Judy is going to read it. Does everything make sense? Do all the characters have sufficient motives to engage them in action. Are there irrational thoughts, actions, or motivations that can’t be explained? Does everything line up to the conclusion of the story? In this step I will not delve heavily into grammar. This step is about the story as a whole, not the individual words and sentences.

Other steps in this stage is to make sure the story follows the same tense all the way through. Make sure the story has a clear POV. I’ll check to make sure I’m using Active Voice, not Passive Voice.

Passive voice / active voice
A passive voice puts a barrier between the reader and the character, never letting the reader to be fully immersed in the character’s world. It’s like the difference between reading a good fiction novel or reading a story in a text book. Historical accounts in text books are almost always passive voice. While both can tell the story, only one will allow the reader to feel the emotion, empathy and impact of the story.

Each time I save the story after a period of editing it’s called a draft. You start with a rough draft and keep working on it until the final draft (finished product). This can take months for some stories. I might complete 10 to 20 drafts for a 3k word short story. If you write a story, then only check the grammar and spelling, most likely the story is not ready to be published.

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STAGE 4 – Proofread it

This is the step where all the grammatical rules come into play. Word spellings, grammar, punctuation, verb/subject agreement, all that good stuff is checked during this stage. For very short stories I do all the proofreading myself. If the story is longer, I’ll send it to a proofreader and pay to have it done. It’s often difficult to proofread your own work because your mind sees what you want it to say, not what another reader will see. Using the spellcheck and grammar check in your Word or Writing programs is not good enough. It will not alert you to using the wrong words that sound alike, (homophones: there, their, they’re or where, wear), or having the wrong word in a sentence that is spelled right (such as ‘on’ instead of ‘one’).

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STAGE 5 – Format it

This is where I’ll set up the format of the story to get it ready for the editor’s review. It will have the proper spacing (either Shun formatting or editor’s specs), proper font and font size (I write in Arial, but most editors prefer Times New Roman or sometimes Georgia or Courier) and proper indents for new paragraphs. Do not use tabs to set indents as it will mess up formatting it to eBook. Use the paragraph format and set it to first line indent (usually+3 but check submission guidelines). At the top left you will have all your information, name address, phone, email, story name, word count, what book or zine issue you’re submitting to, the date, etc.

If you follow these 5 stages carefully, you will have a publish-ready story in your hands. Now to find a place for your creation. More advice on that in my next article.

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Ghosts: Revenge – ghost story collection FREE!

Ghosts Revenge - JWK Fiction cover

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I have a brand new short-story accepted into the Ghosts: Redemption Anthology, the follow-up to the highly successful Ghosts: Revenge Anthology of 2015.

My story,Gray is a Life” will be in the new collection of horror tales coming out very shortly.

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In the meanwhile, you can get the first book of the series, Ghosts: Revenge  for FREE on Amazon Kindle if you act now!

It’s only available for 3 days!!
4/7 – 4/9

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Ghosts: Revenge

Anthology of ghost stories from JWK Fiction which includes my story, The Obsidian Box.
plus many other fantastic stories concerning angry spirits by some fantastic authors!

get it for free now:
http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Revenge-James-Ward-Kirk-ebook/dp/B00UO3CRDQ

Ghosts Revenge - JWK Fiction cover full

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My Year in Writing – 2015

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2015 – my year in Horror Fiction writing

The Devil’s Avatar
The year started very early on Jan 6th with the paperback release of Stomping Grounds, an anthology collection of Giant Monster stories (also available on Kindle). In my story, The Devil’s Avatar a jealous scientist uses an ancient machine that combines spiritual and alchemic aspects to create an unstoppable monster. His twisted mind creates a giant clown to seek out his reluctant lady love and destroy the town in the process. However, his rival also uses the machine, bringing to life a giant Paul Bunyan statue, to fight back and save the damsel in distress. The two battle it out in the center of a small Midwest town in this homage to classic 1950’s American Giant Monster films.

Why you should read. Stomping Grounds contains the best giant monster stories I’ve read in some time. Each story is packed with people crushing, earth quaking action. I’ve read quite a few books in this sub-genre and this one is top notch. I’d say this is the best book I’ve been in during 2015!

The Obsidian Box
My story in the Ghosts Revenge anthology deals with an ex-mobster who wants to ‘off’’ his wife but keep his hands clean. He decides to use an angry spirit to do his dirty work, but how do you control the uncontrollable? I found most of the stories in Ghosts Revenge to be entertaining. They were all written well exhibiting top quality. For a few of them, while written well, I just didn’t like the style, but that’s just a matter of personal tastes. Others I found outstanding. If you like violent ghost stories, this is a great book to dive into. My second fave book for the year. Ghosts Revenge anthology

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Sirens Call ezine issue #20
The theme in this issue was ‘a scream in the night.’ I brushed off and tightened up a story about a guy who frequents S&M chat rooms. During the night the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred when he hears a lone scream in his apartment building.  Sirens Call ezine (scroll down to issue #20 and download the pdf for free)

Bon Fire
This is a Halloween Horror story published at Cemetery Tomes. Originally released in my chapbook, The Clock Tower Black, the story follows a Old Clockgroup of friends who tell stories on Halloween around a blazing fire in the woods. It’s kinda’ like horror-lite for me, reading for all ages. Cemetery Tomes

Thanksgiving Day Surprise
I noticed that I hadn’t written much this year so I decided to write some flash fiction for the Holidays. I wrote three new stories. This is the first, which you can read FREE, right here on the Parlor of Horror site. Thanksgiving Day Surprise

Skin Job – release to be announced
For much of the year I decided to forego any other writing and only concentrate on this story for inclusion in the Terry M. West, Car-Nex series of stories and eBook releases. I figured it was the most important of any project and decided to put my full efforts behind it, turning down invitations to several other anthologies. I received word in November that my story was excepted for the project. I don’t have a definitive timeline on its release as of yet. Pleasant Storm Entertainment

Unleashed in the East
This story was published in the anthology, Kaiju: Lords of the Earth. I wrote this early in the year. It’s only about 10 pages (2,500 words), but I think it’s a very strong story with a solid emotional edge. ‘Unleashed…’ keeps in line with traditional Kaiju while adding a Lovecraftian twist. It is also inspired by a current event news item. I have to say there are only a few stories in this book that feel like true Kaiju stories to me. Kaiju to me has more to it than a giant monster. I based my story upon early Kaiju film ideas, plot-lines and messages. Hopefully it does honor the Kaiju genre respectfully. ‘Unleashed in the East’ in Kaiju: Lords of the Earth.

Christmas Lights
Here’s the 2nd flash fiction piece concerning holidays. It’s my Christmas gift to my followers. Read it for FREE here at Parlor of Horror. This is actually part of a series of flash fiction stories I’m writing dealing with the last few moments of life for each character. I plan on calling the series ‘Moments of Death’ or something close to it. Check it out here: Christmas Lights

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I finally set up a Goodreads Author Page for my published work in anthology books, You can check it out here: Michael Thomas-Knight – Goodreads

You can also check my Amazon Authors Page for the latest releases.
And join me on Facebook for discussions of horror and vintage monster model kits.

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Because of my illness this year, I didn’t have much time to write any articles or guest blog posts outside of my POH posts. I hope 2016 offers me more opportunities to write articles in the horror field. And I hope that any of you that wish to write fiction and haven’t taken that step toward getting your stories published will go for it in 2016! What do you have to loose? Feel free to ask me any questions about writing, submitting your work to publications, or even advice on your stories. I’m no expert but I’ll give you an unbiased opinion…and I read a lot of horror.

stomping grounds antho  Ghosts Revenge - JWK Fiction cover April 2015 - Sirens Call - 20 small Kaiju Lords of the Earth - web nightcarnexart copy

The King in Yellow – book review

the king in yellow book

The King in Yellow
Robert W. Chambers

The King in Yellow is a collection of separate stories that all have a unifying thread, which includes several separate items; the script to a play called The King in Yellow, something called, the yellow sign, and the malevolent entity, the King in Yellow, himself. The King never makes an appearance in any of the stories, he is just hinted at as the demise of those seeing the yellow sign. When people read the King in Yellow manuscript, especially the second half, they either go utterly mad or strange things happen in their lives‘. The first four tales are in the subgenre known as weird tales and the rest of the book borders more on drama and romance. In fact the last few stories drop the King in Yellow tie-in and don’t feel the same as the earlier part of the book. Some versions of the book drop some of the later stories and replace it with the story by Ambrose Bierce that influenced, The King in Yellow stories, referencing places and titles, Carcosa, Hastur, and. Cassilda. Indeed Lovecraft took the King’s references even further and wrote about King-in-Yellow-theCarcosa and August Derleth turned Hastur into one of the Great Old Ones. The play, The King in Yellow, is never actually read in its entirety in any of the stories. Only sections and lines are read and delivered by the characters in the tales, keeping an air of mystery regarding the manuscript. The stories are written in turn of the century (1800s to 1900s) style which may be difficult for some today but I tend to enjoy the flamboyant use of words of that era’s authors.

I was not fully engaged with every story as some of the later tales in the book seemed to drag on without purpose to me. My favorite story however is the second tale, The Mask. Alec arrives at the Parisian home of his good friend Boris to see his friend’s break-through in the field of alchemy. He has found a way to chemically transform anything into stone, pure white marble to be precise. While Boris showcased his magic elixir, proving it could even change living things to stone, Alec grew weary and settled into the library. There he begins to read The King in Yellow. Alex soon discovers there’s only one thing more interesting than the alchemic discovery, and the manuscript, Boris’s fiancé Genevieve. He is enamored with her beauty and elegance. He had once courted her but she had turned to Boris as her life’s mate. It turns out she is also the king in yellow bookdelighted with Alex on this visit, more so than in the past, and confesses her interest in him. Taken aback Alec decides he must leave his friend’s home so as not to betray his friend’s honor. He is called to the home some time later when his friend Boris dies, to help catalogue many of the artifacts in the home. To his supreme horror, there is a full-sized marble statue in the garden of Genevieve. Only Alec knows the truth of its origin. The description of the marble statue let’s you know in no uncertain terms that it is indeed Genevieve and not an artist’s sculpt.

The Repairer of Reputations is a story of extreme paranoia hinged upon the reading of the mysterious King in Yellow manuscript. In The Court of the Dragon and The Yellow Sign, both deal with being followed and haunted by a silent malevolent being. Both are creepy tales. In ‘Court…’ a church organist seems to show up in the main characters path no matter where he goes. In ‘The Yellow Sign’ this dark figure haunts a man’s every waking hours and dreams. From what I understand this collection is not the definitive collection, that depending upon the publisher there may be different tales in each publication. The Prophets Paradise and Rue Barrie are stories more in line with the KIY tales and would have been better inclusions for the collection rather than some of the more romance styled stories in the later part of the book. I imagine the current publisher chose this current set of stories to give an overview of Chambers writing through his years of authorship. So, while this collection is a good starting point for the King in Yellow series of tales, there is more to be read and discovered in the theme.

Hastur

Attention all Horror Writers

halloween devils

Attention all Horror Writers, authors, and story tellers…

Do you have a horror story on the web that people can read for their Halloween enjoyment?

Looking for stories where readers can can click a link and go to read it right now! 

I’m inviting you to put your links in the comments so readers can enjoy your stories and capture the Halloween spirit. On a normal day this would probably be viewed as spam, but today I want you to promote your work with no hesitation.

*Only one story per author.

*Story has to be less than 2,000 words. Remember shorter is better on the web.

*No links to Amazon books or sites where they have to download, join, or put in emails.

To keep this simple and clean, only put – your name – story title – your link – in the comment post. If you have anything else to comment about, put it in a separate comment.

This has to be a totally FREE read.

Boogie

Here’s My story entry: Aberration on Micro-Horror.com 

*******PLEASE READ*******

THERE WILL BE A CUT OFF FOR STORIES that I will promote in a second post before Halloween. It will most likely go up over the weekend of the 24th or Monday the 26th at the latest. So the cut off will be the 31st story or Thurs. Oct. 22nd. 
You’ll still be able to post your stories on this page but won’t be included in the secondary post.

A Dark Collection: 12 Scary Stories By Mark Lukens – book review

A Dark Collection: 12 Scary Stories
By Mark Lukens

I downloaded this for a random read. Despite the generic title I liked the cover art. It reminded me of an old style collection of Halloween tales I once had as a youngster. Much like Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf, there is a tale for each month of the year in this collection. Many of the stories demonstrate the kind of horror that men can inflict upon each other, be it for jealousy, sport, ritual or power.

In the first story, Crow Manor, the longest (and strongest) tale in the collection, a young couple is hired to house-sit over the a dark collection - mark lukenswinter months. Despite some strange rules, the couple agree because the pay is more than they would make in a full year of working. They soon discover they are being hunted by a master hunter and trophy-man. The story was very tense and had me rooting for the young couple’s escape.

The psychological implications of oppression are demonstrated in the story Tank, where the captive becomes ultra-reliant on the captor. In Welcome to Paradise, a small desert town becomes a prison when some young couples are lost and can’t find their way back to civilization. I also enjoyed the humorous Halloween poem/ limerick for the October entry, Halloween Spirit. And the Western horror of Skinwalkers was a paranormal tale, a creepy entry based upon Native American folklore. I find the last two stories in the collection to be the most original and creative. Rat Trap starts with a familiar struggle and ends the way I love short stories to end, with a terrifying twist. And the December story, The Vending Machine, is more like a weird tale that encompasses Christmas themes, childhood memories and family struggles wrapped in horror. It’s a perfect story to end the book

Although the stories are good, there’s nothing wholly original about most of them. Crow Manor has shades of You’re Next and The Osterman Weekend. Welcome to Paradise has the feel of The Hills Have Eyes. You’ll find familiarity in most of these tales. However, they are well written and quickly paced, making them enjoyable to read. Whether you want to read one story a month or plow through all the stories in a month is your choice, but it will certainly entertain.

A Dark Collection: 12 Scary Stories – By Mark Lukens