Once upon a time, a girl grew up on a boat while sailing the sun-glossed seas…
In another part of the world, another girl grew up reading enough fairy tales and fantasy books to know never to tell a fairy her name. She loved to rove the woods, hoping that the next grove she chanced upon would be enchanted.
Far, far away from her, in a landlocked city of steel and cars, yet another girl grew up with a miracle of science keeping her heart beating from the time when she was seven until, decades later, a second miracle of science enabled doctors to suture the holes in her heart (despite all her major organs being reversed).
Meanwhile, in Australia, a fourth girl grew up to be a doctor with such patients as a man she treated for burns on his upper body. This man’s eighteen-wheeler truck had caught on fire, and inside its trailer was a very expensive tractor; in a bout of bravado (or insanity), this man sprinted into the fiery truck, turned on the tractor, and drove it through the flames to save it…
In other parts of the world, other girls grew up into women who all eventually came together to write an anthology of gothic romances from all corners of the globe, put together by yours truly:
I gathered together several authors I know (some of whom invited authors they knew) for a collection of gothic romances! And as you can tell from above, some have had wild and colorful lives and would love to share with you the wild and colorful tales that sprang from their wild and colorful imaginations.
One of the authors in this anthology is a thriller author who curbed her penchant for murder, miraculously keeping her story’s body count to zero. [Legit conversation between her and me ->
Her: “Do I have to have a happy ending, though?”
Me: “At LEAST a happy-for-now.”
Her muttering: “Dammit…”
Nevertheless! She managed to cut her story off while the lovers are still breathing.]
Another author is a dark erotica author who curbed her kink 🙂
And our Australian author, E.H. D’Urbin, debates her own pen name’s existence in an interview done by her in-house correspondent, PTG (Pongo T Gorilla, a traveling plushy), an interview which begins:
PTG: Are you imaginary, E.H.?
EHD: There is some truth in all fiction. In some ways, I’m the truth, and in other ways, I’m the fiction. As are you, I believe. In the end, it’s the story that matters…
But now, without ado, let me invite you into our tales, into a book where, as one reviewer writes, “We have beggars, disappearances & dreams, queens, shame & starlight, thieves… [where] the characters … yearn and hope for a love that will take them to unimaginable places.” And where “The introduction (A Love from Elsewhere) readies the gentle reader for a disturbing journey through lands and time.”
[Yes, come, dear mortal, and find out what awaits…]
The first story you’ll encounter is Unbeautiful Corners (by yours truly).
“Once upon a time, you weren’t beautiful, but I loved all your unbeautiful corners.”
So begins a tale that is, according to one reviewer, “A dark, seductive short story that twists the writer’s words into you. … The creepy feel all that I’d wish from a gothic story… Do it if you like that insidious feeling of something creeping into your skull. I didn’t read this one in the dark. A love story.”
Y’ALL! I wrote an ‘insidious feeling of something creeping into your skull’. You can’t get that at your local grocery store.
The next story is I Love You After Dark by our dark erotica author Taryn Moreau.
“There was never a time I didn’t know my mother was an enchantress.”
So begins a tale set in Florida among the Spanish moss, in a place where enchantresses are cursed never to love the men they use, only to manipulate them. But Julie’s current man has a secret. A secret that comes out after dark.
Seriously, this story was SO MUCH FUN among the creepiness! From the tranquil mother (utterly unflappable :-D) to the unfolding mystery to the insipid fiancé and the fun chats –>
“Men aren’t for friendship or love,” Maman said. “Men are for money. Men are our power.”
“Yes, but how do you stand it?” I sighed. “The stories you told me weren’t full of dull men.”
Or they were deliciously shivery! –>
David’s smile was slow to spread, like a viscous puddle of blood.
“Hello, Julia. Pleasure to meet you, at long last.”
DUN DUN DUN…!
And the ending! (No, I’m not gonna tell :-P) Just super-fun, and with the faintest touch of creepiness!
The next story is Cracked Compass by our thriller author Beth Green. (Don’t be deceived by the sunny pic!)
“The first night of our ocean crossing, I keep watch in the cockpit for freighters until my antique timepiece—a wedding gift—ticks over to two a.m. Under the clear sky, while my love sleeps silently on his bunk belowdecks, it feels like I am the last person alive.”
So begins a tale set at sea, where Beth has a knack for creating the best atmosphere –>
But then the fog descends.
And now, on top of that feeling of being trapped in time, I feel like something is watching me.
Something in the water.
Even the husband has an atmosphere 😉 –>
I loved our wedding day.
As I came to love him, despite the lies…
I also find it interesting how this character, like Julie from Taryn’s, sets out to trap a man, only to get caught in her own net 😉 –>
I am often startled at how strongly I feel for him.
Is it fate that he feels the same?
I set out to catch Ivan just as surely as a fisherman sets a net.
I really loved this story, y’all! But then, they are all so different!
Next comes An Inheritance by E. H. D’Urbin, which incorporates actual creepy history.
“Emmy first noticed it at the funeral, the way grown-ups told her she had her dad’s eyes. They’d probably said the same thing before he’d drowned in the river, but afterwards the words seemed important…”
Thus begins a mesmerizing tale set mostly in Sydney, Australia, where a young woman inherits an uncommon ability, a strange house, and meets a handsome stranger in a tunnel with a historical secret.
I don’t know why I’m trying, though, because my description cannot at all do justice to the exquisite writing in this story. The prose brims with a dreamscape of images and emotions that draw you in and won’t let go. Such as when Em takes a shortcut through the Devonshire Street Tunnel –>
He was a busker.
She was intrigued by the grief which spread from his eyes to the space around him, held up by his music. The music pierced Em’s heart, though she couldn’t understand the words, and the singer’s grey eyes pierced her blue ones.
His scrutiny made her hot in the face because, whilst he was looking at her, she was looking at him…
This story was simply lovely and subtle and creepy and unfolded like a book, page by page, secret by secret, essentially the epitome of what a gothic romance should be. Just perfection! Chef’s kiss.
It holds a special place in my heart.
Next up, A Fool For You by Nicole Herron and Renee Edwards!
“It wasn’t being dead that bothered Audrey so much. It was that the constant sameness of every day was just so boring.”
So begins a tale where ghost-hunter Craig and skeptic Graham appear in the abandoned hotel that Audrey haunts. Of course shenanigans ensue :-), and the many pokes of humor throughout this story kept cracking me up!–>
“Whoa! Graham, look at that window up there! That looks like the perfect spot for a lonely ghost to gaze out into the Great Beyond.” Craig pointed to the third-story window where Audrey had in fact spent many nights looking not into the Great Beyond, but the neighboring drive-in.
But Audrey, our intrepid ghostly heroine, ends up butting heads with Craig’s friend Graham. They get into a fairly epic battle of wills and hauntings –>
[Graham:] “Got anything left in your bag of tricks?”
She gave him a coy look. “A lady never tells.”
Ha! It was fun, but then the ending like–GUT PUNCH!
No, I’m not crying; you’re crying!
Seriously wondrous writing! Can’t recommend enough!
And then comes… The Wind Chimes by Katherine Traylor.
“She woke to discomfort, roots and branches bumping under her spine. She was being dragged across rough ground by her feet.”
Thus begins a creepy tale of a girl named Tera, who’s being dragged through the woods.
She finds an unexpected creature there…
She woke to a dark figure looking down at her… two eyes, dark and round as hollows… a thin, wide mouth and the suggestion of a nose. A spill of shadows resolved into trailing hair over a knobble-jointed body.
Whoever this was wasn’t human…
Gradually, Tera understands what happened to her, and who–what–this creature above her is, and it’s all so amazingy written! It casts a spell that carries you through to the very end.
And next, From the Ashes by MS Weaver.
“I never gave life much thought until death refused to take me. Since then, exhaling my last breath on this wretched earth seemed to be the only thing occupying my mind.”
Thus begins Emma’s tale. Grief has landed her in an asylum where a cursed (man? or something else?) watches over her.
He, however, has his own sorrow:
Two centuries ago, I watched them burn.
These two broken souls find one another…
…[the nurses] had forgotten to close the curtains that first night. Sometime after midnight, the storm that had raged during my arrival blew over and the moon bathed the garden in silver beams of light. I awakened, drenched in sweat… to find a shadow lingering right outside my window…
These two broken souls could, possibly, heal each other…
This gutwrenching tale takes the reader through grief and hope and it surprised me with how it ended; it definitely leaves the reader wondering! And, nope, I’m not gonna tell 😉
Next we have Stone and Hellfire by Lynn Rush!
“The fog engulfed us like a huge, white blanket, so thick it smothered me.”
So it begins, this tale, with teenagers daring to enter a cathedral – a cathedral watched over by a gargoyle…
Wings protruded from the gargoyle’s back, each tipped with a sharp talon that promised agony should one pierce its prey...
Between these pages you’ll follow a girl who’s always felt like a freak and knows nothing of her true heritage, and when things start being revealed, the action grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let you go till the end –>
“Help… me!” I gasped out.
With his stone fist, he hammered whatever encased me. A burst of light ignited at the contact, and my chest tightened.
He hammered again, and another flash of light exploded around me.
The cocoon cracked.
It’s pure fun, with occasional flares of humor and an ending that had me cheering out loud for the characters 🙂 [And, nope, still not telling :-P]
And, tada! Here is another story of mine, Samorost.
“In a starlit tower, the captive breathed soundlessly into the night.”
So begins MY story, which I probably shouldn’t say anything about since I wrote this in a creative haze, sort of half-asleep, half-inside another world–the characters’ world, which is also semi-our-own-world since it’s semi-set in Prague.
Also, I tried to tell my characters to behave and not have sexytimes, but, y’all, they didn’t behave.
HOWEVER! The thriller author who read my story assured me: “the sexytimes were fun, hot, but not so spicy that they’ll set off an international kerfuffle”.
(I wrote manageable spice, y’all. Bow to me. And no fear of international kerfuffling!)
However, I can share a few fun comments on the story –>
“Min supposed it all started going wrong when she found herself fantasizing under a mangled, blackened fist that was hanging publicly from a chain.” –> one reader’s comment on this line was “I mean, we’ve all been there.”
Another reader wrote: “Wow. This is probably my favorite story of yours in some time. It has everything , romance, creepy, gothic, travelogue, myth, history.”
Anyway, enough about that. Maybe someone else out there will review the story 😀
Next! The Dance of Death by Sky Sommers 🙂
“A beggar sitting in a tunnel passage next to the apothecary eyed the boy manacled to the Town Hall wall.“
Thus begins an uber-fun story set in medieval Tallinn. It follows an actual historical artist who painted a work that can still be found today.
In this tale, Fate wears uncomfortable clothes –>
The lady stuck her finger under her headdress. “Damnation, this thing itches.”
And Death does fun things like ordering “Play dead.” (no irony there!) to a boy she slings over her shoulder, and after he’s bathed –>
“Someone scrubs up nice…”
This story is like the cherry on the cake (or sundae?) that sweetly tops a (mostly) sweet anthology (and I think ALL the stories ‘scrubbed up nice’)! Sky’s story is a wondrously fun way to close these pages (especially when the emporer comes in, y’all! That had me giggling so hard :-D)
All in all, I’ve been focusing in this post on the sweet and fun aspects of the stories contained in the anthology because I intentionally wanted to keep these more on the lighter end of creepy, with mostly happy endings because I was recently reading an anthology where some of the endings left me quite miserable. Isn’t there enough misery in our world?
All the authors in here stood up and gave their part of the world some damn fine stories, I think! If you’d like to check their tales out, you can find the book here or by clicking on the book cover at the end of the post. It’s going to be $0.99 only until around Sunday / Monday, then the price will go back up to $3.99.
And now, my favorite! The trailer our phenomenal thriller author Beth did is just–there are no words!
Be kind to everyone this week! Share all the good things!
Aaand here is the usual weekly info (copied ‘cuz I’m laaaazy). If you want to support me, join the patreon I’ve been seriously neglecting (but want to resume), get daily snippets I like to share, check out my books I don’t want anyone to buy, or join the newsletter I haven’t been writing (but intend to).
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