Serial Story: When She Cries, Part 47

This serial story is posted weekly on Fridays in draft (unedited) format. Each installment is available for one week. If you’ve missed an installment, email me and I’ll send you what you’ve missed.


WSC_400

When She Cries
Part 47

It had to be Patrick, Nicole thought as she shivered, half-chilled from the breeze blowing across her now damp skin and half-hot from the pain and damage he’d inflicted so far.

She’d known he was dangerous, of course, but somehow during their game of cat and mouse, she’d made the mistake of growing complacent. Of thinking that perhaps he felt the same sort of odd kinship to her that she’d recognized in him.

She’d never really believed he’d kill her. He’d even implied that if he could keep her, he would – or that’s what she’d inferred from their conversation earlier. Now she was tied up, blindfolded, naked and bleeding, whether for his own personal pleasure or that of his viewers. Maybe both.

A wave of anger at the people watching shot through her all at once. If no one watched, would Patrick still go through these ‘games’? Would he still find it a worthwhile sport to hunt and torture other humans? Or would he have found some other outlet for his need to hunt and kill?

All of those people out there watching deserved to die as much as he did. Her blood, and the blood of everyone who’d come before her was on their hands just as much as his.
If she survived…

The ropes she was attached to jiggled, and she braced for more pain. The chill of cold steel slid under one of her hands, and she would have flinched if she wasn’t bound so tightly. A slight snick sounded and the rope at her left wrist vibrated, and then fell free, hanging limp at her side. She tried to lift it, and then cried out as the blood flowed down her arm, replacing numbness she hadn’t realized was there with prickly pins and needles like she’d never felt before.

Her wrist throbbed, still wrapped with the remnants of her bonds as her other wrist was released, that arm falling too. More prickling pain replaced the deadened feeling in her right arm, and with nothing holding her torso to the net, she fell forward at the waist, her arms swinging painfully down as the rope at her hips and ankles bit tight into her skin.

She struggled to regain some sort of balance, reaching back in an attempt to grasp the net, but sheer exhaustion and the still-prickling blood flow wouldn’t allow her the luxury. She felt the blade slide under one ankle and cut it loose, followed by the other, and she couldn’t hold back another cry as her legs swung free, putting all of her weight on the bindings high on her hips.

What felt like a solid shoulder pressed up into her stomach and two more flicks of cold steel at the tops of each thigh transferred her from the net to her tormentor’s grasp, forcing the air from her lungs at the same time.

Just a few seconds later she was crumpled on the ground, feeling rough fabric under her legs slowly dampening with what could only be her blood. It took some effort, but she got to her knees – as far as she dared not knowing whether her legs would actually support her or not.

Tilting her head back, she heard the rustling of footsteps moving to the side and felt warmth from the fire against her skin.

“Do it,” she said, tilting her head slightly to bare the side of her neck. “I know you have a knife. Cut my throat and be done with it.”


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes


Posted in Excerpts, Serial Novels | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Into the Wild…

Campout14_2

In an eleventh-hour decision this past Saturday morning, I suggested to my husband that we do a Creepy Campout for the theme of our Halloween yard haunt this year. Yes, normally we have these planned far, far in advance, but this year’s plan sort of fell through, and we were at loose ends while getting ready to put up the fence that gives our graveyard a nice, old cemetery feel while keeping the kiddos away from trip hazards like electrical cords and various prop…uh…stuff. He agreed, and we spent a good chunk of the weekend putting up a graveyard in one half of the yard, and building a makeshift tent and fire pit on the other side.

Campout14_1

We’ll flesh out these “bones” (puns totally intended) a little bit next weekend, and then a lot more during the day on Friday before all the kiddies start showing up for candy. It’ll be fun – our displays always get a lot of compliments, and this year with Halloween being on a Friday night, we’ll have a good hundred kids or so.

 

The camping idea popped into my head after a blog post I wrote for my main blog last week. I was reminiscing about the hiking and camping we used to do when I was a kid, here in the wilds of Montana. It’s a big state with a lot of wide open spaces and beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes – perfect for getting out of the city and back to nature, as it were (something I haven’t personally done in far too long).

 

I’ve used mountain settings for quite a bit of my writings, and while generally bad things happen to the people in my books who venture out of the city, I’m actually not scared of the wilderness at all. Quite the opposite. I’m respectful of the native inhabitants, of course, but I’m perfectly comfortable out in the woods. I love walking among the trees, listening to the wind rattle through the leaves and water rushing from a nearby stream or river. I like that earthy smell of the forest floor mingling with fallen pine needles and bits of moss here and there. A vast meadow filled with tall grasses and wildflowers, big boulders sitting in the sun just begging for someone to lay out and warm up on them (you may have to work out a time-share schedule with the local rattlesnake population), that unexpected waterfall just around the next steep curve in a natural deer trail…

 

It’s a beautiful place, rough & tumble though it can be at times. There’s plenty of danger lurking as well – predators big and small, unseen cliffs just over that next rise, plants that make you itch for weeks or kill you with their fruit, and plenty of creepy-crawly things…including the human kind. It’s a great place to get lost in, to play in, to bury bodies where no one will find them – ever (not that I’d know from personal experience, of course). Not to mention the caves, bear dens and old mine shafts for hiding and losing people in. Although any deep, narrow coulee would work just as well.

 

You see how my brain works a little there? Occupational writer hazard – I’m always thinking about how something – anything – could go south, kill people, and how to dispose of the bodies. At least I’m thorough, and clean up my hypothetical messes…

 

When was the last time you were in the wild somewhere – either physically, or reading/watching something? How did it make you feel? Are you a city-slicker, a nature-child, or somewhere in between?


 Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes


Posted in Halloween, Writer's Notes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

WSC is Finished! Now About Nicole…

WSC_400

I spent a good chunk of the holiday weekend writing, working on finishing up the draft of When She Cries. Which is why my first Tuesday non-fiction post is late. The serial draft will run several more weeks yet, but the whole thing is now in the hands of my editor, who I’m relieved to say really liked the ending.

I wasn’t sure she would. And I’m not sure you will either, but I do think it’s exactly what it needs to be.

I’ll be careful about how much I say here to avoid spoilers, but  as usual, I didn’t start out with a very strong sense of who Nicole was. I never have that with any of my characters – when I start writing, I generally just pluck a couple people out of thin air, give them names and I don’t even know exactly what kind of crap I’ll throw at them at that point. I’ll just start watching them as they interact with the situation I’ve put them in, listen to them talk, see how they look and what they’re wearing, and let that guide who they become.

Yes, technically it’s my subconscious doing the work, not the actual characters, so it’s still “me”, but it feels more like I’m watching a movie or play, letting the characters lead me instead of the other way around.

The Nicole we start out getting to know in this story isn’t anything like the Nicole she becomes…and that’s a good thing. I think she’s probably the most dynamic character I’ve written yet, though I’ve tried several times before. Her situation made it an absolute necessity for her to change though, in ways neither of us could ever have predicted. She’s fascinating to me, which probably sounds like hubris on my part, but truly, I don’t feel like she’s my “creation” or like I had anything to do with her personality arc. That’s not really the way it works.

I named her Nicole for a specific reason that has nothing to do with any sort of actual meaning of the name, and more to do with the people I’ve known, seen, or otherwise met even for a very brief time with that name. We all form certain stereotypes of people based at least partially on names, and I had a certain specific sort of person (though no one in particular) in mind when I named her that.

In some ways, she embodied that stereotype I hold, and in others, not so much. She developed into her own person in the first half of the story, and then someone entirely different, shaped by the circumstances she’s forced to endure.

As we all are.

A lot of the people I write about are…not good people. They’re scary in the worst way possible (IMO), which is psychologically.  What I’m most interested in is how they got that way. What went wrong to set them on the path that they’re now traveling? And how do they live with those choices day in and day out?

Fascinating, I think.


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes


 

Posted in Writer's Notes | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

New Cover, New Release Dates, New Blog Schedule

First off, allow me to present the cover art for When She Cries, releasing this October 31st. Creepy, isn’t it? But so very Nicole…

WSC_400

Yes, I know that last year I hosted this big Halloween bash here on the blog, with bunches of authors and giveaways and such, but when it came time to start planning this year, I had a choice. I could spend a lot of time scheduling blog posts and monitoring comments/giveaways, or I could focus on getting a bunch of drafts done this month. You know which option I picked, obviously. Blog parties are a lot of fun, but also a lot of work, and I really, really wanted to get this book out to you by Halloween. And so I shall. I’m working hard to finish the draft this week (even though the serial will run longer), and get it to my editor because…

TastefulMurders

I also want to write one more Death by Veggies story this month. This one was actually inspired by a flash fiction story (250 words) that I wrote this summer for the Tasteful Murders anthology (which is available now on Amazon, by the way – click the cover & go grab a copy…lots of great stories in there, and perfect for this month!). The story I wrote is called Kale Chipped, and…well, it’s only 250 words, and I’m just not quite done with those characters yet. So once I get WSC finished up, I’ll be writing Cooking with Kale, and it’s scheduled to be released this November 28th (yes, just in time for Thanksgiving).

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, you may get the skinny on how to get a free, early copy when I finally start up the monthly newsletter again in November.

And finally, the entire Death by Veggies collection will be released as a whole on December 5th in both digital and print formats. Which is perfect timing for…say…Christmas gifts. What could be better than a stocking full of freaky little  horror stories?

So…lots of cool stuff coming up, and there’s more fun news for next year as well. But I won’t spoil that just yet.

Starting today, I’ll be posting a non-fiction post weekly on Tuesdays. I thought it might be fun to discuss some things related to not only my books, but suspense and horror in general. Books (by other people), movies, TV shows, creepy things and people and animals…stuff like that. It’ll be fun, and it will help me with some research and psycho-analysis that will be used in future books. Cool how that works, right?

Thanks for reading, and I hope in addition to the weekly serial installments, you’ll drop by for the non-fiction posts as well.


Enjoy this post? Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Audible | iTunes


Posted in Administration, New Releases | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

New Release: Canvas (A Holiday Pact Story)

Some of you may have read along with the holiday serial stories last year – a tale of a woman who uses human skin as her canvas. Preferably after it’s been removed and properly tanned…

I’m happy to announce that Canvas is now polished up and ready for sale – you can get it for .99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, or for this weekend only, you can download whichever format you’d like for free from the Brazen Snake Books store! It doesn’t get much better than free, right? Here’s the blurb:

Melanie
Donner has certain…urges. Bad urges. Urges she knows she needs to get
control of, or she’s going to end up either in prison or dead. When her
two best friends decide to make a pact to each pick up a guy to spend
the night with on every major holiday, she figures it’s a good way to
set a few boundaries for her little “hobby”. 


 


But right from the start, things get weird when a would-be student of her work shows up and won’t take no for an answer… 

Pick up your copy today…and let me know what you think!


Brazen Snake Books is also offering my flash collection, No Hazard Pay free today only, for Valentine’s Day…so grab that one while you’re there!

Wishing you a very freaky Valentine’s Day…

Posted in New Releases | Comments Off

I’ll Be Back…

I know I’ve been quiet this month – especially after the big blog blitz last month. But I’m not abandoning you! Well, not out here where it’s only sort of scary. If I were going to abandon you, I’d do it in an old graveyard with at least a couple big mausoleums and some broken headstones sinking into their respective graves. 
Aren’t you glad I’m not a zombie writer? (I’d suck as a zombie writer. Trust me.) 
Anyways…the reason I’m quiet over here at the moment is because this month is National Novel Writing Month, and I’m participating, though not in horror or suspense (I know, boo! hiss!). And I’m also working on several other drafts at the same time (also in other genres *ducks*). 

But! I have a new installment of Cutting Back for you that will be posted on Thanksgiving Day, and then, after the madness that is November is over, I’ll be starting a new suspense serial story over here that’s unlike anything I’ve done to this point. Pure suspense/thriller, it’s a cautionary tale of what happens when you date the wrong man…and then don’t live down to his expectations. I’m actually really excited to start it, so look for the first installment straight away on December 6th! We’ll have some fun. Our heroine? Not so much. 

In the meantime, if you’re so inclined to try one of my Death by Veggies audiobooks, click that “Connect” button at the top of the blog and email me with “Free Audio” in the subject. I’ll send you coupon codes to download all three of them for *free*, until I’m out of codes. These really turned out so well…I hope you’ll give them a try, and the audiobook for Angel Eyes will also be available in early 2014. 

The best is yet to come…so stick around! And thanks for reading…

Posted in Administration | Comments Off

Month O’Screams Grand Prize Winner: Marilyn R.!

Our first winner hasn’t claimed the prize after two days and an email, so I’ve put Random.org to work again. Our new winner is:

Congratulations to

Marilyn R.

You’ve won of the Month O’Screams Grand Prize drawing!

Please email me at alex@alexwesthaven.com with your
mailing address within 24 hours to claim your prize!

Posted in Halloween, Month O'Screams | 1 Comment

Month O’Screams: Thank You & Credits

Today I’d like to thank all the wonderful authors and readers who participated in our Month O’Screams event throughout October 2013. It was great getting to meet so many new people through all the interviews and fiction, and finding some new favorite authors to read in the process.

If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll go get to know these authors through their web sites and fiction. Here’s a list of everyone who participated and links to where you can connect with them online (most websites will have links to other social media connections)!

In order of appearance:

Steve Vernon: Website | Twitter

Saul Tanpepper: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+

Cynthia Moyer: Website

Stacey Claflin: Website

Edward Medina: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Piia Bredenburg:
Blog | Tumblr | Twitter

Christiana Miller:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Nicolas Wilson: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Ford Forkum: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Brie McGill: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Cole Knightly: Website

Ryan Casey: Website

Thanks again to all who participated!


Posted in Administration, Month O'Screams | Comments Off

Author Interview: Ryan Casey

Today we’re chatting with dark suspense author Ryan Casey – read an excerpt from his story, The Painting here. And remember to comment on this post or sign up here for your chance to win a box of books and other fun stuff this Friday!


Why suspense-thrillers?

First and
foremost, suspense-thrillers are what I read, watch, and consume (not
literally. Perhaps.). I find that sense of dread and foreboding almost
addictive, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to write. I often combine
suspense-thriller elements with horror, as I think the two genres can go
rather hand in hand. Suspense is absolutely key to horror, so those
elements are interchangeable  But yeah, the short answer would be that I
have the most fun writing it. I like keeping people on the edge of
their seats and I love creating a sense of overwhelming dread. Call me a
literary sadist, but it’s just how it is.
 
Is your fiction more physical or psychological in nature (ie, gore/slasher or mind freak)?

I’d
say it’s primarily psychological, but I do enjoy building up to these
great climactic moments of violence in some of my works. I think it has
to be within reason, though, in that violence and gore can lose its
effectiveness when it’s in every chapter, for example. I like to create a
sense of dread, and if it lends to the book, I’ll bring that to a
violent conclusion. In my assassin-thriller, Killing Freedom, there’s a
real sense of foreboding in the first quarter of the book when the
assassin protagonist is debating whether to kill a family or not, and it
all comes to a rather horrible, physical conclusion. In The Painting,
on the other hand, the sense of dread works independent of
gore/violence.
 
Which dark fictional characters (not your own) have resonated with you, and why?

Wow,
there are so many. Probably too many for comfort! I think the stock
answer would probably be Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. He’s a
dark, twisted sociopath, and yet he’s an absolutely tremendous and
alienating narrator. I think that his rants against contemporary society
and critique of consumerism and materialism are wonderful. Ultimately,
Patrick Bateman is the demon in the back of everybody’s minds. He has
violent urges he can’t control, speaks the harsh truth about many
aspects of young professional society, and is a walking satire of
everything wrong with that. The pay-off is even more fantastic at the
end of the book as it suggests (spoiler alert) he does in fact control
his deepest, darkest urges after all, leaving the question: aren’t we
all a little bit Bateman-ish? No? Oh. Okay then.
 
Which of your own characters intrigues you the most, and why?

I
always write protagonists I’m engaged with in one way or another, and I
always write protagonists with fatal flaws. I think my favourite
character is Jared, the assassin character in Killing Freedom. He’s so
alienated and detached from society, yet he offers a remarkable insight
into the world around him through these very different eyes. He’s a lot
of fun to write, that’s for sure. I’m working on the sequel at the
moment, and his development is profound.
 
What’s a typical Halloween like at your house?

I
think I can go on record here and say that over in the UK, Halloween
isn’t as much of a deal as it is in the US. Or am I just grossly
stereotyping based on what I’ve seen in films, etc? Typically though,
our nights are spent hiding away in the house with all the lights off to
avoid giving away any of our hard earned sweets. But more recently,
I’ve warmed to watching a horror movie or two, which I suppose is a
pretty boring and standard answer. 
 
What scary situation do you hope to never find yourself in? Do you have a plan in case it ever happens?

I
both do and do not want to be involved in a zombie apocalypse. There’s
something alluring about an end of the world scenario like that. We have
an old Ministry of Defence bunker behind our house, and we’re out in
the countryside, so the odds would be better than those in the city…
without an MoD bunker. So the plan would be to raid the shed for weapons
and make some sort of stronghold in that bunker before anybody else. I
think I’d be worryingly like The Governor on The Walking Dead. Don’t
come near my bunker!

Ryan Casey is a mystery and thriller author from Preston,
Lancashire, in the UK. When he can’t be found writing, he generally
can’t be found.

His work typically centres around complex
protagonists with fatal flaws. His novels include suspense thriller,
Killing Freedom
, and coming of age mystery, What We Saw.

Ryan is also the author of psychological thriller/horror novella series, The Watching, as well as several short stories.

Check out Ryan’s books: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple

Posted in Author Interviews, Guest Posts, Halloween, Month O'Screams | 5 Comments

Why Horror?

I wrote a post last summer called “A Horror Writer’s Dilemma“. In it, I explored the reasons I read and write horror, and today, I’m reposting the majority of it for your thoughts and/or discussion. If you’re a writer, feel free to add your reasons for writing what you do in the comments. Readers, jump in and tell us – why do you read horror?





I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I write horror the way I do – and more to the point, why I’ve been leaning towards serial killers as the main characters. What makes me want to explore that particular psychological make-up? Is it healthy? Is it something I should even subject my mind (and my reader’s minds) to? At what point is it best to just leave the door closed? 


I’ll tell you right now, it feels dangerous to even enter some of the places in the human mind that I’ve set out to explore. Sometimes just writing the characters I do, I get the feeling that I shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t be trying to understand someone who would deliberately cause harm to other humans. It’s frightening to think that some minds can justify such horrific actions, and others don’t even try to justify them, but rather simply revel in the fact that they have no conscience. 

But what if the real reason we run from what we don’t understand is the fear of a different kind of death? What if understanding the horror means we have to confront the fact that it’s possible for the mind to justify certain things that we know should never be justifiable? The death of our own ignorance and the birth of the ability to identify with certain ways of thinking could lead to very scary things indeed.


Honestly, physical horror doesn’t scare me nearly as much as the thought of being able to identify with how a killer thinks and feels. Being able to understand the thoughts and emotions of someone who preys on other humans and still rejecting it as “wrong” morally and ethically is a fine line to walk – understanding often leads us to give people more leeway than we otherwise would.


It also leads to the consideration that we are all just a twitch of environment or a flick of the DNA strand away from being that sort of person which we so ardently fear and despise. And that is perhaps the scariest proposition of all.


Some of the greatest horror writers of all time have explored this concept in detail – Thomas Harris being one of my favorites (no, I don’t care for the new TV show Hannibal, though The Blacklist is fabulous.). Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs were absolutely fascinating and horrifying at the same time – if you haven’t read them (which rock do you live under again?), I’d highly suggest them both.


It’s taken me this long and several stories to really identify what my goal is for writing horror, and I’m sure the stories I’ve written thus far reflect my own hesitancy to embrace that goal. Why did I stop working on Animal? Because I suddenly knew exactly where the story *had* to go, in order for it to be honest, and it scared the crap out of me that I could possibly write such a horrific thing.


It made me reconsider writing horror altogether.

And that, dear readers, is exactly why I need to finish it. It’s not just why I read horror, but why I write it too – to confront the very things I fear the most, and take control of them, even if it’s just in my own mind. Sometimes, that means acknowledging that control isn’t possible, and sometimes evil will win.

Posted in Month O'Screams, Writer's Notes | 1 Comment