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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Blogfest Selah Janel

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I feel like there’s a part of my soul that doesn’t wake up until October. Ever since I was a kid, this was the month that sparked my imagination even as far away as July. This was the month that I anticipated, waited for impatiently, and meticulously planned for. This was the month my parents knew that I would fall off the cliff into full-fledge crazy mutant mode. Why? Because this was the month that held the best holiday in the whole entire universe: Halloween.

As a kid, I used to delve through the Halloween decorations like some little girls dove into their Barbie dream houses. My mother, God bless her, even bought me plush ornaments I could play with like little dolls and Halloween-themed felt boards. I lived for the community parties, the fall foods, the cool weather on walks home from school, and spotting all the neighbors’ decorations. This was also the glorious decade of the eighties, so Halloween specials were on All. Month. Long. A full, glorious month of sitcoms doing Halloween stuff, cartoons airing their spooky specials, and regular networks playing B movies. I struggled to outdo myself costume-wise every year, until my mother finally drew the line when I wanted to be a baby witch riding piggyback on a mama witch, and I had to figure it out for myself (I did, but I also half fell apart the entire evening). Costumes were an excuse for me to explore new and original ideas, whether it was the Invisible Man, different variations of witches, Gizmo from Gremlins, Darth Vader, and an elf sitting on a mushroom (I know, looking back I pity my mother, too).

It just isn’t the same these days. The store aisles aren’t as jam-packed, people aren’t encouraged to theme their lifestyles out to the gills with spooky accessories, and some neighborhoods don’t even trick or treat on the actual day of Halloween. Back in my day, we went out at night. And I just want to point out that I am still alive. There was something magical about wandering around the neighborhoods (I always had a parent with me), getting lost even though you knew where you were because things look different on Halloween night. It’s part of the safe spookiness, the magic of just not knowing what’s going to happen next. I can’t help but think that kids today have lost some of that, and not just with all of the new restrictions and limitations. I was lucky to have parents that encouraged me to be crazy imaginative. We told stories about what might be lurking around corners as we trick or treated, we made giant ghosts to hang from our trees and life-sized scarecrows to sit on our porches to protect our pumpkins. We didn’t just buy a sign to hang on the door or our costume in a bag – that was sacrilege! We even had a couple of long-time family friends who gave us (gasp) candy apples and cookies that weren’t store-bought. And we ate them!

Granted, my parents were very protective of my sibling and myself. We were never put in any danger – they would have never let us do anything particularly stupid or unsafe. Yet we were given permission to get lost in the holiday the way some people get lost in Christmas. We were allowed to go crazy wondering ‘what if’ about ghosts and goblins and witches and monsters. And you know what? I’m really thankful. It’s true that I didn’t discover horror and outright scary stuff until I was older, but I owe a lot of my writer instincts to the fact that I was given permission to imagine. I was allowed to make goofy costumes out of whatever was lying around the house, I was allowed to stick up hand-drawn pictures on the windows because in my mind they turned the place into a haunted house. I was encouraged to go nuts with festive accessories. I was enabled to tell stories with all the decorations as we put them up and I was fed spooky tales on audio tapes played in the dark. I was allowed to make magic and for that I’m forever grateful.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a PDF of Mooner.

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About the Author:
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.

She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story 'Mooner', the contemporary short ‘The Other Man,’ and her first novel, the rock n’ roll urban fantasy In the Red. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology Bedtime Stories for Girls. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

Catch up with Selah and all her ongoing projects at the following places:


Blog –http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com
Fandom Scene Column – http://www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel
Facebook Author Page –http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Facebook Book Page – http://www.facebook.com/intherednovel
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5622096.Selah_Janel
Amazon Author Page - http://www.amazon.com/Selah-Janel/e/B0074DKC9K/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1346815995&sr=1-2-ent
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: Ally Shields

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Samhain: Is it only for Witches?


Samhain has been popularized in movies, books and pop culture as synonymous with Halloween. In reality it is an ancient Celtic ritual, still celebrated with solemnity by various pagan, neo-pagan, witch or wiccan groups.

The original Gaelic holiday (Oct. 31 - Nov. 1) was held at the end of the harvest and was first documented in 10th century Ireland. It soon became entwined with All Saints Day and the two are frequently incorporated as a celebration of the harvest and the dead.

It developed some interesting traditions with early celebrants walking and driving their cattle between two bonfires as a ritual cleansing. The bones of animals who provided food for the family were thrown into the fires. At the harvest meal, an empty place at the table was set for dead friends or family.

As the belief grew that Samhain represented a time of unusual supernatural power and a thinning of the veil between this world and the Otherworld, many celebrants added costumes and masks. This concealment, often imitating ghostly or terrifying creatures, was an attempt to deceive and ward off any wandering spirits.

In my urban fantasy, fire witch cop Ari Calin celebrates Samhain with her coven. They share a celebratory harvest meal and a ritual of renewal with traditional harvest foods and several bottles of wine! Since they are Otherworlders, no costumes are needed!

Do you know of any unique ways of celebrating the harvest time? Please share them with us.

FREE HALLOWEEN GOODIE! Anyone who leaves a comment to this post will automatically be entered in a Nov. 3 drawing for a free ebook copy of Awakening the Fire, an urban fantasy with witches, vampires and werewolves—and even a romantic line!

About the Author: Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest along the Mississippi River that is the setting for her urban fantasy series. Educated as a teacher and a lawyer, she led a varied career, including several years as a Juvenile Court Officer. She still lives near the Mississippi River with her miniature pinscher Ranger.

http://allyshields.com
http://allyshields.com/blog.html
http://facebook.com/AllyShieldsAuthor
http://twitter.com//ShieldsAlly
https://www.amazon.com/author/allyshields

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: David M. Brown

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Halloween


The Writing Pilgrim left the outer peaks of the Wisdoms Mountains and descended into Beruvia. Once a land devastated by war, Beruvia was now a peaceful republic, the perfect place for the Writing Pilgrim to continue his search. He had been charged with finding a storyline for his master – author David M Brown, he of bad taste in football teams and a penchant for pizza.

Night was beginning to fall when the Writing Pilgrim noticed a myriad of beacons in the distance. It was the town of Lightcliffe. As the Writing Pilgrim drew closer he was halted by the sight of a glowing and malevolent face hanging from the main gates. The face had sharp teeth and contorted eyes, a raging fire seemed to burn within and the Writing Pilgrim was convinced he had happened upon a demon.

His thoughts were interrupted by a small group that appeared from the shadows. They each had a monstrous face, some of skulls, ghouls, goblins and dragons. The Writing Pilgrim felt his heart stop, he was so afraid. The battalion of creatures, most likely the minions of the fiery demon, were almost upon him.

‘Trick or treat?’ they said, holding their hands out expectantly.

‘Trick or what?’ the Writing Pilgrim asked.

‘Treat.’ One of the goblins reached for its face and lifted it effortlessly. What the Writing Pilgrim perceived as a face being ripped off turned out to be a mask. The rest of the group did the same. They were not monsters but children – humans, elves, dwarves, elamorgias and tolderes. The Writing Pilgrim could only smile at this display of Elenchera’s modern emphasis on equality and assimilation amongst its races.

‘Why were you wearing those masks?’ the Writing Pilgrim asked.

‘We’re trick or treating,’ one of the elves replied. ‘It’s Halloween. Didn’t you realise?’

‘Halloween? What’s that?’

‘It happens once a year on October 31,’ a girl said, rolling her eyes and clutching an axe. The Writing Pilgrim was relieved to see it bend.

‘I’m not familiar with this Halloween.’

The children all gasped and began whispering amongst themselves, some giggling others incredulous at the naivety of this stranger.

‘You should go into town,’ a toldere said. ‘It’s the LASR Halloween Blogfest. It’s being held in the mayor’s gardens this year.’

‘I can find out more about this Halloween event there can I?’ the Writing Pilgrim asked.

The children sighed and nodded.

‘Do you really know nothing about Halloween?’ an elamorgia asked. ‘Have you not seen one of those before?’ He pointed to the demon on the town gate.

‘Isn’t that a demon?’

The children all laughed.

‘It’s a jack-o’-lantern, silly,’ a girl said. ‘Every house in town has one. It’s just a pumpkin really but they carve them to look scary.’

The Writing Pilgrim was appalled that he had mistook a pumpkin for a demon.

The children were all beginning to shuffle their feet. Some had put their masks back on while others were shaking small bags and buckets insistently.

‘I should go to the Blogfeast,’ the Writing Pilgrim said. ‘I feel quite hungry.’

‘FEST!’ the children bellowed in unison.

‘Yes, that. Thank you for your help.’

‘You can’t go yet,’ a dwarf said. ‘Trick or treat, remember?’

‘Which means?’

‘It means give us sweets and candy or we play a trick on you,’ an elamorgia said.

‘I don’t have anything to give you,’ the Writing Pilgrim replied. ‘I don’t suppose you want a piece of my mind?’

‘Why did you come here?’ a girl asked.

‘I was trying to find ideas for an author I work with.’

‘Does he write books?’ an elf asked.

‘Yes,’ the Writing Pilgrim replied. ‘Here’s one. It’s called A World Apart.’

‘Is it any good?’ a boy asked.

‘I wouldn’t go that far, why?’

‘That can be your treat,’ a toldere said, taking the book from him. ‘There’s a big turnout expected for the Halloween Blogfest this year. One lucky commenter will win a copy of this book so thank you, stranger.’

The Writing Pilgrim watched the children run away into the heart of Lightcliffe. He waited until their giggles were distant before heading for the Blogfest to learn about Halloween.

Leave a comment to win a copy of A World Apart. About the Author: David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Hons in History and English, David's dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.

Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu's Epiphany and A World Apart, and the in-progress Ansel's Remorse and The Stars Beneath the Parapets combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten. David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month travelling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

Find the author online at:

Website - http://elenchera.com/
Blog - http://tweedling.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/elenchera
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/davidmbrownauthor

Fezariu’s Epiphany

Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/S1aSda
Amazon.co.uk – http://amzn.to/Ttcfyu
Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/60282


A World Apart

Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/RxdxIS Amazon.co.uk – http://amzn.to/PzwqiN Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/170922


Halloween Blogfest: Pamela K. Kinney

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Beware of Tall, Dark and Creepy Men at Halloween


Just in time for Halloween and as a writer of horror and nonfiction ghost books, I thought to introduce you to a creepy being you would not want to meet in a dark alley. The Slender Man is an urban legend of a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face and purported to have been in existence for centuries. Believers tie his appearances with many other legends around the world, including; Fear Dubh (or, The Dark Man) in Scotland, the Dutch Takkenmann (Branch Man), and the German legend of Der Großmann or Der Grosse Mann (the Tall Man). According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back. Depending on interpretations, this creature is not unlike the men in black UFO stories. He can cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed “slender sickness”), make photograph/video distortions, and can teleport at will. Where he comes from is as much a mystery as what he wants. All that is known is that there is evidence of him existing for far longer than one would expect. Those who see him often wind up missing or worse, their mutilated bodies are impaled upon a tree, their organs removed, and then replaced in a systematic way. Sightings of this creature have been seen in many places around the world, including the United States. Earliest argued reference to the legend is within the cave paintings found in the Serr da Capivara National Park, Northeast of Brazil, dating from as far back as 9000 BC. A strangely elongated character leading a child by the hand, but there is no reference to the extra appendages. Another like Slender man is Der Großmann, German for “The Great Man,” is often translated as The Tall Man, too. The Tall man also abducts children, just like the Slender Man is supposed to.

The story goes that those who have seen him are frequently found to be maniacally writing strange messages, and drawing mad scribbles of a dark, faceless figure. It is advised that one stops investigating too much, otherwise will find that you become the subject of unwanted interest. There is even a mock documentary in vogue of “Blair Witch” you can see at Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysgQ9spsphk&feature=player_embedded.

Slender Man has inspired an ongoing series of amateur adventure games titled “Chzo Mythos.” Published by Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw in 2003, one of the main villains is called Cabadath. It is also referred to as “Tall Man.” Making his first in-game appearance in Trilby’s Notes, the character in the third installment is a tall, thin man dressed in a long, black, high-collared coat with tails that reach to the floor and having a blank face.

Other popular culture characters may be based on the idea of this being. Like the horror film called “The Tall Man,” that came out in 2012: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1658837/. Interviewed by Wizard magazine, Dr Octopus creator Stan lee claimed he remembered a story his Romanian-born mother Celia told him, about a man with "many boneless arms." That inspiration created the distinctive tentacle harness used by Dr Octopus. In the Phantasm movie series, the recurring character of the Tall Man shows an obvious physical resemblance to the move humanoid appearances of the Slender Man. Similarly, the character of the Reverend Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III is also thought to be modeled on the Slender Man. The television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured an episode entitled Hush. In this episode, a series of creatures known as The Gentlemen stole the voices of the population of Sunnydale, rendering everyone in the town unable to speak. In appearance, these fiends in the episode resembled tall figures the Slender Man. Another are beings called the Silence in two Dr. Who episodes from last season, “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon.”

But there’s no Slender/Tall Man. Still, just in case I am wrong, if you see a extremely tall, thin man dressed all in black not far from a children’s playground, maybe you should take heed. Especially before you forget. . .

Leave a comment and tell us about a legendary creature that scares you and be entered into a drawing for a download of Spectre Nightmares and Visitations.

Pamela K. Kinney

Journey to worlds of fantasy, beyond the stars, and into the vortex of terror with the written word of Pamela K. Kinney.

Website
Blog
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About the Author:
Pamela K. Kinney is a published author of horror, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and nonfiction ghost books published by Schiffer Publishing. Two of her nonfiction ghost books, Haunted Richmond, Virginia and Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales, have been nominated in the past for Library of Virginia Literary Awards. The others from Schiffer Publishing are her new 2012 release, Haunted Richmond II, plus from 2011, Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations. Also just released are two short horror stories, "Donating" in Inhuman Magazine, Issue 5 December 2011 and "Bottled Spirits" in BuzzyMag.com in June 2012, plus “Azathoth is Here" was reprinted in by Innsmouth Press in Innsmouth Magazine: Collected Issues 1-4 in Kindle and ePub formats. And of course, she has her horror and dark fantasy tales collected in one book, Spectre Nightmares and Visitations, published by Under the Moon.

Under the pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, she has published erotic and sweet paranormal/fantasy/science fiction romance along with a couple of erotic horror stories.

She also has done acting on stage and in films and is a Master Costumer, costuming since 1972. She even does paranormal investigating.

She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house, husband, and even the cats sometimes suffer for it!



Return once more to Richmond’s haunted places and check out its interesting and sometimes scary legends, too. There may be no building safe in this town, as you may find that even a comic shop like Stories holds more than comics within its wall. Step back in time at Henricus Historical Park as the dead colonists, Civil War soldiers and other haunts welcome you to take a tour. Discover that not only is there the Richmond Vampire out for your blood, but the Werewolf of Henrico waits for you beneath the full moon. It seems that the War Between the States is still being fought between ghostly Confederates and Union soldiers at Cold Harbor, Sailor’s Creek, Parker’s Battery, Petersburg Battlefield, and other Civil War sites in Richmond and its surrounding counties.

All this, plus a sea serpent, a lost city, ghostly cats, Bigfoot, haunted churches, parks, colleges and more, await your visit to a very paranormal Richmond and its surrounding counties.

The dead don’t stay dead in this town!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

GUEST BLOG: C.S. FUQUA

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The Willful Ignorance Factor: Denial in Fiction and Reality
By
C.S. Fuqua


(Author’s note: Many thanks to Long and Short Reviews for allowing me to contribute to the guest blog series. It’s much appreciated.)


He stands on the tracks.

“There is no train.”

The rails tremble.

“There is no train.”

The whistle blasts.

“There is no...”

Tick.

Characters in the fiction I write reflect qualities and values of people I’ve met along the way. One quality I find intriguing to explore is the ability to deny reality. Whether failing or frailty, we humans exhibit a propensity for choosing fancy over reason, the mystical over reality. That’s why I base so many of my stories in dark fantasy to explore real-world problems, views, and reactions, creating a speculative world that seems possible even though it isn’t. Through dark fantasy’s hocus-pocus, the negative quality of denial occasionally spawns positive results, and everyone lives happily ever after. But real life isn’t hocus-pocus.

As a species, we’ve advanced rapidly via science and have recently verified through observation the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle,” and yet many of us believe the Earth is no older than 6,000 years, that planetary alignment will initiate Armageddon, that God speaks directly to Billy Graham or Pat Robertson or Pope Benedict XVI or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Aunt Gerdie or Brother Jimbo because the great creator obviously supports our particular political and social agendas—whatever side we’re on; their god is always wrong—while shunning the rest of the world as it descends further into chaos, starvation, war, and environmental peril. Our television programming reflects our values in so-called “reality shows,” elevating the worst traits of our species into goals supposedly worth attaining. We’re a simple, narcissistic lot, and repeatedly we gleefully employ willful ignorance over rational thought and education. As long as we have our iPhones, a good connection, and Facebook, we’re content to exist in a virtual life and be led by liars who pander to our personal prejudices, even as we follow them off the cliff into the abyss.

Tick.

Time and again, like people you and I know, the characters in my stories deny the truth, even when it’s overwhelmingly indisputable, but how can a character deny facts? More important, how can we deny facts, especially when denial is against our best interests and will ultimately cause us pain and loss?

The U.S. in 2012 experienced its warmest spring on record. That’s a small fact in a sea of alarming scientific data. And yet many of us—perhaps a majority—are convinced that global warming is something one can choose to or not to believe. We can thank organizations like the conservative policy group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and fair-and-balanced news media for convincing so many of us that scientific theory—for example, gravity—is faith based rather than built upon empirical scientific data. While ALEC has convinced many state lawmakers to curtail air pollution rules and to teach climate change skepticism in schools, various news media highlight freak spring snowstorms as “evidence” that, if anything, Earth is cooling instead of warming, even though those freak storms are direct results of the very reality talking heads deny. Some states have even targeted renewable energy mandates for elimination, insisting on the continuation of wasteful, environmentally destructive policies that only exacerbate a rapidly growing quandary.

Do we really harbor a planetary death wish?

Tick.

Like those of fictional characters, our reactions to problems have severe consequences. The denial of global warming, for instance, has pushed the planet to a tipping point. Based on increasingly reliable data, 22 internationally known and respected scientists warn in a paper in the June 7 issue of Nature that climate change, coupled with explosive population growth and widespread destruction of natural ecosystems, is pushing Earth dangerously close to an irreversible change in the biosphere that will result in destructive consequences without adequate preparation and palliation. Even the recent Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, funded in part by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, a source for backing conservative organizations and initiatives to dispute global warming science and fuel denial, confirmed to the Koch foundation’s chagrin that global warming is indeed a rapidly worsening situation, primarily the result of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. The project confirmed findings highlighted in previous accounts such as the 2007 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report compiled data from work by 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries, concluding humans have caused most of the current planetary warming, with industrialization, deforestation, and pollution the greatest human-made culprits in altering the planet’s natural cycles.

The past two decades have been the planet’s warmest in the last 400 years, with 11 of the past 12 years among the dozen warmest since 1850. The average global temperature since 1880 has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius), primarily in recent decades, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The rise in the average Arctic temperature, however, is double the global average. And as Arctic temperatures rise, ice-melt increases, unlocking even more greenhouse gases now trapped in sea ice, permafrost, and undersea deposits. As a result of rising temperatures, glaciers and mountain snows are vanishing rapidly. Glacier National Park in Montana, for example, had 150 glaciers in 1910; now it has 27. Shorelines are retreating as waters rise. In one case soon to be followed by others, the populated island of Lohachara, where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, has vanished under rising water levels caused by global warming. And each year, increasingly bizarre and extreme weather worldwide makes headlines, from major snowstorms to vast outbreaks of tornadoes, from extreme droughts to massive typhoons and flooding. More than a million species already face extinction from current climate change effects. And yet, our political leaders conduct us in a chorus of denial that anything is wrong as they delay or prohibit action to remedy the situation because it might adversely affect corporate profits.

In a dying world, when does survival outweigh the bottom line?

Tick.

Willful ignorance is a considerable impediment for fictional characters to overcome. A few of the characters in my stories prevail, but most accept the truth only after it’s too late. The problem is the decisions we make in real life are little better than those made by characters in fiction. To make better decisions, we’ll have to discard the arrogant belief that we own this planet when, in fact, it owns us and we are simply squatters in time.

Like characters rapidly approaching the climax of a story, we have a quickly vanishing window of opportunity to act. We’ve arrived at the moment we must decide whether this planet is worth saving, whether the generations that could follow deserve the same shot at existence that we’ve had.

Tick.

The rails shudder.

The whistle wails.

Tock.

About the Author:
C.S. Fuqua’s latest book, Rise Up , his second collection of short fiction, will be published October 2012 by Mundania Press. His published books include Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie, If I Were, Big Daddy's Gadgets, Trust Walk short fiction collection, Notes to My Becca, and Divorced Dads, among others. His stories, poems, and articles have appeared widely in publications as diverse as Bull Spec, Slipstream, Pearl, The Year's Best Horror Stories, Christian Science Monitor, Honolulu Magazine, Naval History, The Writer, and many others. His short fiction and poetry collections have earned several “Year’s Best” honors. He is a musician and craftsman of Native American flutes which are sold through WindPoem flutes athttp://www.fluteflights.com. For more information about his writing, please visit his website at http://csfuqua.comxa.com.

To hear “(Set the Self-Destruct) Again,” a song about global warming denial, written and performed by C.S. Fuqua, click here: http://csfuqua.comxa.com/again.mp3.