November 30, 2015

Killer Serial: an interview with Kelli Owen, author of "Wilted Lilies"

It's not that Lily May Holloway is a broken, battered teenager recently escaped from her kidnapper. 

It's not that she may or may not have killed him to escape. 

The question on Detective Travis Butler's mind is — what exactly does the death of little Tommy Jenkins have to do with her kidnapper? 

And why does the man behind the one-way glass want the detective to entertain Lily's tales of speaking to the dead... and being able to hear the thoughts of the living? 


Gef: So Wilted Lilies was first presented as a four-part serial in Lamplight. Was it originally crafted as a serial?

Kelli: In a word: Nope.

The longer version: I knew the story (had the outline) and had just started writing it, when I decided to read the opening at the local bookstore. Jacob Haddon from Lamplight Magazine was in the audience—he and I had been discussing me being his next serial novelist. After the reading he simple grinned at me and said, “yes, that one.”

Each section was to be between four and five thousand words per issue, so I just needed to cut the action somewhere in that area as a teaser for the next installment. It didn’t change the storyline at all really, though it may have changed the pacing of individual scenes just a touch.

Gef: If there's a supernatural entity that trumps vampires and zombies in horror fiction, it'd have to be ghosts, I figure. Would you agree? What's the allure for you to ghost stories?

Kelli: I would absolutely agree that ghosts trump vamps and walkers. Because vampires and zombies are monsters, born of something else. But ghosts? They’re scarier than monsters, because ghosts were once human. If you listen to my podcast about ghosts (Buttercup of Doom ep 10) you know I also think demons and devils and such were once human as well. The fact they used to be human adds a touch of terror to the idea of a haunting or possession. This isn’t some spell or a monster dredged up from the pits of whatever. This was a person. Born, raised and died.

The other sketchy thing with ghosts is that they’re unknown, and there are no rules with the unknown. There is no lore or superstitions that carries across beliefs. Oh sure, some believe this or that to be rid of them, but it’s not universal. Ask someone how to kill a zombie: shoot them in the head. A vampire? Stake in the heart. A ghost? Well… if you believe in god, you can call a priest. If you’re Wiccan you do this. If you’re agnostic you do that. If you’re atheist you don’t believe in them in the first place (usually). No set rules for destroying, vanquishing, etc. Which means there’s no set way to fight them. And all that leads me to my favorite saying for the unknown and ghosts: how can you hope to fight that which you do not understand?

Gef: What kind of considerations if any did you have to give the story's pacing in serial format, as opposed to it now being released in its entirely?

Kelli: I’ve only experienced this once, with WILTED LILIES. The pacing wasn’t really changed so much as it was more carefully controlled by word count location. For instance, I knew Tommy was going to show up in the beginning of the tale because he’s important to the whole story, but to serialize it properly and leave that gulp in the reader’s throat, I needed to make sure his appearance landed after that first break.

I don’t use a true outline. I use a notepad file with thoughts, scenes, dialogue bits, etc. put into the order they’ll appear. Usually I follow that. For this one, those were broken into four larger areas, and I planned the breaks based on what was there. Then I gave each area a header, so I would know what story notes were in each section. I thought about putting them in here for you, but there’s no way to do it without spoiling storyline. In the end, the only thing that really changed was pacing near a break.

Gef: You've got quite a few novella notches on your gun belt now. While you don't concern yourself with story length as you're writing, once you have a novella in your hands, how have you found the internet age lending itself to selling and publishing that length of fiction?

Kelli: I don’t know if it’s the internet age or not, but I’m glad they’re popular. In truth, most of mine were planned to be novellas, by request of the publisher—the four to Paul at Thunderstorm Books for the Waking The Dead collection (Grave Wax, Survivor’s Guilt, Buried Memories, and Crossroads), Wilted Lilies to fit the format of Lamplight, Deceiver was requested for the novella line of Dark Fuse, and The Hatch was expected to be a novella (as a sequel to a novella: Waiting Out Winter) but went longer than the rest to tell the story naturally. The only two to naturally land as novellas on their own were the first two: Waiting Out Winter and The Neighborhood.

The audience is obviously out there as the length was repeatedly requested, but I also personally enjoy the length. It’s a good way to tell a simple story concisely, without purple prose or forcing it to stretch to novel length. Most of the time an author can tell from the idea what length they “think” it will be based on the complexity or scope. When they get to the outline (if they use any type of method at all) they have a more solid idea as things start to twist and turn and unravel. At that point, some will decide to chop some and make it a short story, or add to it and bring it up to full novel. Once I get to outline, I just write. The characters tell me how long it will be. And the audience seems to be okay with me doing that, so I’ll stick to that.

Gef: In the acknowledgements preceding the actual story, you mention you're not done with Lily May. Was she a character you saw yourself returning to from the get-go, or did she kind of impose herself on your imagination as you went along?

Kelli: She’s a noisy one. I can actually her voice, little dirty twang and all. And I could from the first sentence. But worse than that, I started to hear the other characters she meets after the end of Wilted Lilies. One in particular, Caroline, is especially chatty.

Over the years I’ve heard requests for continued stories or the return of specific characters—Ryan from Survivor’s Guilt, Mark from White Picket Prisons, The Neighborhood, and Six Days are the most often mentioned. In truth, there are tidbits for some stories or characters among those requests, but I don’t know which will ever truly solidify enough to happen. Six Days probably has the best chance for a sequel. But outside those, Lily May jumps up and down in a place all her own.

Lily May had a sequel brewing before she was halfway done telling us Wilted Lilies. And if I’m to be truly honest, there’s more than just a chance she could turn into a serial character… it all hinges on what goes down in McMillan Hall.

Gef: I've seen you tinkering with Periscope. How has that experience been so far interacting with readers and others?

Kelli: Outside of the fans with names I can see who interact directly with me, it’s creepy. Really. There’s no way around that fact. A little bit on the “skin-crawling, need a shower in bleach, new blackout shades, and maybe move to a new town and get a different name” side of creepy. It’s inviting stalkers to not only talk with you, but to look directly at you, or your eyes, hair, neck, whatever it is that gets them going, screenshotting their little creepy hearts out—and if you’re not careful, see your house, or surroundings, wherever you are at the time. Ack… creepy.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the program is interesting and could be used for good. I watched a sunset in Rome, saw a man play piano in Australia (his own music), and giggled at the yelling at a fish market in Japan. But I also ran away from other things, which felt mildly voyeuristic if not downright stalkery. I don’t need to stare at strangers doing private personal everyday things, like eating, or watching television.

I could see using it for a Q&A or live reading again sometime, maybe. But considering a couple things that happened on the tail of me using it, I won’t ever do a public session again. I’ll invite everyone who’s following me and they can use the app where they have a name and face and aren’t an invisible stalker. Because *shudder* eww. Just eww. The idea of people clicking a link to log into the web and just watch anonymously, with no name, and without even having the ability to interact, is beyond creepy. I think it’s a huge flaw in their program, and it’s one of the reasons I won’t do publicly open sessions again. (Read as: if any of your readers ever want to periscope with me, they’ll have to follow me so I I can invite them)

Gef: You also have your new podcast up and running. With fourteen episodes of Buttercup of Doom in the can, do you feel you've found your footing and a feel for what you want the podcast to be about?

Kelli: I would love to say “yes” or “god, I hope so” but I think those would both be lies. I never truly find my footing in anything—life, writing or otherwise. I’m in a constant state of movement and growth. I don’t expect the podcast to be any different. Also, I’m my own worst critic, so I’m constantly striving to be better than myself. I like to think they get better as you go, but I don’t want to think that will stop and they’ll just plateau. That sounds so boring!

I’m having fun with it. I’m still humbled anyone listens, but am delighted people are enjoying it.

Gef: Now, last time we talked on the blog, you had mentioned the projects coming to pass this year, including Wilted Lilies as well as your Waiting Out Winter sequel, The Hatch. But you also mentioned you were working on a novel or two. How is the progress on your Lovecraftian homage, Floaters, coming along?

Kelli: Floaters is coming along. It will be done and handed in by Christmas, and out sometimes early next year. I really like this one, and I think the fans will, too. My patreons will get a sneak peek of it before it goes to print, so if any of your readers are interested there’s that tidbit.

Did I say Lovecraftian? I may have. Usually I say “love letter to Frankenstein but most people will think it’s a Lovecraftian thing.” Time will tell what people try to compare it to or call it as they analyze my thought process while writing it.

It’s monster horror, like Live Specimens. Maybe not as red-shirt and gory, but definitely more of a monster horror than quiet thriller. Much more.

And after that, another monster… though I’m not sure in which order. It’s either time for coming of age, the end of the world, voodoo, or those damn vampires. And then Lily can tell me all about Caroline.

November 27, 2015

No Ordinary Killers: an interview with Matt Manochio, author of "Sentinels"

These are no ordinary killers.
They don't distinguish between good and evil. They just kill. South Carolina's a ruthless place after the Civil War. And when Sheriff's Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.

When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town. He believes a freed slave who's trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers. Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.

Gef: What was the impetus behind Sentinels?

Matt: Sentinels began as a short story that I wrote for the fun of it years ago. Following the publication of my first book, The Dark Servant, in 2014, I wanted to have a second book available for 2015. Originally I thought Sentinels might be a novella, but my editor told me my short story (he hadn’t read it) was too short based on the word count along (maybe 4,000, if memory serves). I thought about possibly expanding Sentinels into a novella but figured why not go for the gusto and make it novel length. The general good-vs-evil theme remained throughout each work, but I developed more characters and back stories and it turned into a longer book, wordwise, than The Dark Servant.

Gef: What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from the previous titles?

Matt: It’s entirely different from my first book in that it’s historical fiction. I wanted to make sure it was as historically accurate as possible, so writing the book involved much more research. I knew relatively little about the American Civil War period, and almost nothing about the Reconstruction Era. So I found myself researching a lot of what might seem to the reader to be obscure—the price of one acre of land in 1872, for instance, or how broken bones were treated during the same era. Plaster of Paris had recently been invented and I was able to weave that into a scene. Research shaped a key part of the novel, actually. I never knew that there were five US Military Districts spread throughout the South to keep peace. Those forces, based in my South Carolina town, played a crucial role in my book, and I knew nothing about them when I sat down to write it.

Gef: How have you found your progression as a writer thus far?

Matt: I’d like to think so. I take constructive criticism seriously, and am thankful for when it points out something that the reader doesn’t like or could be done better. I tend to use internal dialogue, but am going to try to cut down on it because I’ve read a few reviews by readers who find it confusing. Certainly I don’t want that.

Gef: Who do you count among your writing influences?

Matt: The humorist Dave Barry. There’s a difference between spoken jokes, and those that are written and meant to read. I enjoy weaving it in when I feel it’s appropriate. As for thriller/horror novelists. I’ve read almost all of the late Michael Crichton’s books because I enjoy the way he created and moved his stories along. Jurassic Park ranks as one of my favorite books.

Gef: How much emphasis do you place on setting as character?

Matt: Setting played essential roles in each of my books. I modeled the area in my first novel after a rural, forested town in New Jersey where I lived. I needed a place where people could hide and never be found, or be damned hard to find. As for Sentinels, the post-Civil War period, and its ruthlessness, is ever present. The KKK was in full swing. Lawmen, the people tasked with enforcing law, were in some cases lynching the very same people they were duty bound to protect. I don’t try to sugarcoat how terrible life could be for the freedmen in the South.

Gef: What do you consider to be the saving grace of the horror genre?

Matt: This is hard to answer. It might be blasphemous for me to admit that I’m not a huge horror fan. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate the genre, but I’m the last person in the world you’d want to talk to about HP Lovecraft, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, or some of the other influential writers who might not be household names like Stephen King. I’m actually reading Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door because I’d never read him before! If I want to be a better horror writer, it’s probably a good idea to be more familiar one of its stars. And Ketchum is that (and a nice man, to boot). King’s probably most important because he’s first and foremost known as a horror writer, which isn’t entirely accurate. He’s a writer of drama, crime thrillers, supernatural thrillers, and genuine horror. But he’s probably the saving grace because people always associate horror with him, and this reflects well on the genre, and gives hope to newbies like me that perhaps one day I can appeal to a wide audience.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Matt: This is another good question because I don’t know how to answer it. One piece of advice doesn’t automatically leap to mind. One piece that’s meant to be positive, I suppose, is “Write what you know!” And that’s valuable, especially when starting out. I found myself writing about journalists (I used to be one) and New Jersey (I grew up and live here) in my first book. I lived in South Carolina for a year out of college, and my familiarity with the geographic location of Anderson, SC, the town where I lived, was the reason I set the book there. But “Write what you know!” can be bad because it can limit you as a writer. Like I said, I knew nothing about the Civil War and its aftermath. I guess I could’ve been literal and said, screw it, it’s not worth writing about this because it involves researching something I know nothing about. No! Writing about things you DON’T know improves your skills as an author. So that piece of advice can be a double-edged sword.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Matt: I love YouTube. Love it! I could scour it for hours looking for crime documentaries that you don’t normally find on cable or television.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Matt: Well, they’re in their initial stages but I’m toying with one more Krampus story (I’m iffy on that because I want it to be different from The Dark Servant, and my forthcoming novella, Twelfth Krampus Night.) I’m also intrigued by writing about a truly horrific vampire, a real monster in more ways that one. There are so many damned vampire books out there, you have to find a way to be original. I think I have an idea and it’ll be fun to explore in 2016.

Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.
He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.
He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.

November 25, 2015

Swinging Big: a review of Tom Pitts' "Knuckleball"

by Tom Pitts
One Eye Press (2015)
130 pages
Available at

I am not a baseball fan. Of all the pro sports out there, baseball ranks only slighter higher than golf among things I find more fun than watching paint dry. That said, baseball really does lend itself to a good story. And that's what Tom Pitts has here: a real good story.

A week-long series between to the San Francisco Giants and the visiting L.A. Dodgers serves as the backdrop for this novella, with a police officer killed via gunshot to the head at point blank range on the sidewalk of San Fran's 24th Street corridor. Hugh Patterson was his name. Nothing really special about the guy, aside from his abiding love of baseball and an inate ability to connect with members of the community. Or at least try to. His partner on patrol, Vince Alvarez, should've been by side when the killer struck, but Vince was at the end of the block calling his wife out of jealous suspicions. When he heard the shots, it was too late and the crowd had already formed camouflaging the killer from detection.

In the wake of the grizzly murder, Patterson's name is hoisted upon a pedestal by the city, particularly at the baseball games, while Alvarez must try to make sense of the crime and cover his own ass when detectives grill him on his lies about being there to witness it yet unable to I.D. the killer. Enter a young Latino kid named Oscar who has stepped forward to name his own abusive brother, Ramon, as the killer. And Alvarez takes the opportunity to back the kids story. From there the house of cards builds, the tension mounts, and bad choices after bad choices pile onto one another until things threaten to collapse under their own weight.

Jumping from the point of view of Alvarez and Oscar through much of the book, Pitts shows the fears and frailties of each in the face of a horrific crime and how the aftermath lingers over that section of the city. What lives aren't ruined are irrevocably altered and Pitts does a fine job in presenting it all with genuine characters and a snapshot of San Francisco you'd swear was a picture book at times with how well Pitts lays into the descriptions. Plus, just as a reader with an aversion to the dry delivery of many police procedurals, Pitts' delivery thankfully spends its primary focus on delivering those rich, reach-out-and-grab-them experiences.

Again, I'm no fan of baseball, but I could easily become a fan of Tom Pitts thanks to this book.

November 24, 2015

The Mind of a Monster: an interview with Brian Kirk, author of "We Are Monsters"

Gef: What was the impetus behind We Are Monsters?
Brian: I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape.
I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces physical tics, chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options.
I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it.
Gef: Was there much of a balancing act for you in portraying mental illness as accurately and considerately as you can and still fit in the supernatural elements?
Brian: Providing an accurate portrayal of mental illness was extremely important to me. Not only in creating an authentic story with realistic characters, but in order to be respectful towards people who suffer mental disorders as well. In works of fiction, people with mental illnesses are often depicted as circus freaks. They’re “INSANE!” Almost like a different species of human completely unrelatable to the rest of us.
I conducted research to get a basic understanding of the various traits common to many mental disorders and what type of behaviors and speech patterns are associated with certain illnesses. I read books written by psychologists as well as those written by people suffering from psychoses such as schizophrenia. I needed to understand the disease from the patient’s point-of-view. I also visited a mental institution and interviewed people who worked there. Many readers have commented on how realistic the characters seemed, so I suppose the research paid off.
The supernatural elements in the story are really presented through the perceptual lens of the characters, so as long as I established the ground rules for the world and the psyches through which these elements manifested, I felt like the reader would follow along. Even with the more abstract elements, as the psychotic mind (along with the subconscious one) often speaks in abstract terms.
Gef: The novel has garnered a fair bit of praise thus far. Must be gratifying, right?
Brian: The praise has been stunning; it’s not something I expected. When I set out to write We Are Monsters my goal was simply to learn how to write a book. I had already published several short stories, but this was my first novel-length piece of work. Honestly, I figured it would wind up in a trunk somewhere.
To have it accepted by an editor, Don D’Auria, whom I have long admired, and to have writers like Brian Keene, Mercedes M. Yardley, Jonathan Moore, and John F.D. Taff take the time to read and comment on the book has been mind-blowing. I feel very fortunate and blessed.
Gef: Who do you count among your writing influences?
Brian: That list is constantly evolving. I enjoy Stephen King’s ability to plop you into a story on page one and have you instantly care for his characters. I appreciate the lush writing and quirky humor of luminaries like Roald Dahl, Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury. I like the stark, gothic realism of Joyce Carol Oates, Flannery O’Connor, and Cormac McCarthy. The ambition of David Mitchell. The psychedelic mind-bending of Philip K. Dick. The heroic storytelling of Robert McCammon and Joe R. Lansdale. The gritty darkness of Gillian Flynn.
I love to read books that are so good they intimidate me and make me feel helplessly inferior. That’s where inspiration comes from.
Gef: How much emphasis do you place on setting as character?
Brian: It depends on the story. I’d say I give more consideration to mood and atmosphere, but that may be at matter of semantics. It’s an important consideration, though. Some things are more likely to happen in a dark alley at 2 AM than in an open field during the middle of a sunny day. The setting will often determine the mood and mindset of a character, which is how I typically view it.
Gef: Horror is a genre that often gets a bad rap. What do you consider to be the saving grace of the genre?
Brian: To be honest, I don’t pay too much attention to others’ perception of the genre. I think it’s a platitude that misses the point, which is whether a story is worth reading or not. And that will always be subjective. If some people want to miss out on some of the most imaginative and insightful pieces of work simply because marketers have decided to brand it a certain way, that’s fine.
Humans have been telling scary stories since the beginning of time. I don’t think we’ll ever eliminate danger or fear from our existence. Therefore, there will always be a place for dark fiction. It’s hardwired into us, and will be difficult, if not impossible, to flush from our genetic code. We’ll always be scared of the dark.
Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?
Brian: I was recently advised to pick a genre and stick with it. I didn’t care for that advice.
I can’t think of anything that I wish would go away. What works for one person may not work for someone else. I guess I’d just say that anything presented as an absolute should generally be greeted with scrutiny or ignored.
Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?
Brian: None. I’ve worked too hard to stop feeling guilty about pleasure!
Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?
Brian: Thanks for asking. I have a new short story titled Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave coming out in the anthology, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, alongside two of my idols: Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. When one of the editors, Doug Murano, announced the story he said, “This is the kind of story that starts book burning parties,” which leads me to believe the story works. I’m honored to be part of this project, and can’t wait for the anthology to come out.
In addition, I am currently working on the second book in a trilogy of dark sci-fi thrillers. The first book is complete and currently in the hands of a literary agent whom I’ve recently signed with. We are putting the final touches on the book and plan to submit it to publishers early next year.
In the meantime, I would love for people to connect with me through one of the following channels. Don’t worry. I only kill my characters.

November 23, 2015

Sharing the Magic: an interview and giveaway with Lisa Mannetti, author of "The Box Jumper"

“‘Magic’ is the operative word for this moody novella. The magic of Harry Houdini serves as an overriding backdrop here, but another kind of magic permeates these pages—the magic of fine writing. Don’t expect the usual linear plot, because there is no direct narrative. Vivid dreams, surreal images, hypnotic memories, all serve to flesh out an unsettling tale that sweeps us into a new fictional dimension. Read The Box Jumper and share the magic.” — William F. Nolan, author of Logan’s Run and screenwriter of Burnt Offerings

As well as the following interview with Lisa Mannetti, I'll be giving a paperback copy of The Box Jumper to one lucky winner (who happens to live in the U.S. or Canada). To enter, all you have to do is send me an email at therabidfox[at]gmail[dot]com before midnight EST on Monday night, Dec 1, 2015, with the subject "BOX JUMPER." Sound good? Great. Now, onto the interview ...

Gef: Where did the fascination with Harry Houdini start for you?

Lisa: It began in my childhood. Like most fans (or in my case, worshipper) I caught a rerun of the Tony Curtis/Janet Leigh film and within a week, I was in the local public library hunting up the first of many biographies and books I’d eventually read.

Gef: One of the aspects to Houdini I found fascinating was his eventual outing of his former idol, Robert Houdini, as a fraud. Another was his strained friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over spiritualism. Particularly since his early career included his own brand of less-than-authentic occult endeavors to put food on the table. Do you think, in his work of debunking the supernatural, he was battling against his own public image and those close to him who bought into his stunts? What do you think drove this guy?

Lisa: To answer question two (which is actually a minimum of four questions) as thoroughly as I’d like I’d have to write you about 5,000 words for starters. But sure, let’s take a quick whack at addressing your queries. In his book, A Magician Among the Spirits, Houdini talks about his youthful fling with the occult as a lark and more importantly, that he was aware of the deceptions he perpetrated—but strictly as entertainment value, with the only goal being to mystify his audiences. He was always interested in Spiritualism (though he never personally subscribed to it as a faith), but approached it as a skeptic with an open mind; gradually he was not only chagrined at his own shamming, but he realized the tricks perpetrated by the mediums of his day bordered on criminal acts and undermined the seriousness of the grief that follows a death. He writes “I too would have parted gladly with a large share of my earthly possessions for the solace of one word from my loved departed—just one word that I was sure had been genuinely bestowed by them—and so I was brought to the full consciousness of the sacredness of the thought, and became deeply interested to discover if there was a possible reality to the return, by Spirit, of one who had passed over….”

This excerpt gives us one inkling about his mindset: Houdini sincerely kept hoping there were genuine mediums out there, and he was—over time—more and more angered by their fraudulent stunts, which he felt not only hoodwinked the vulnerable, but actually endangered them. He often cited the fact that after Conan Doyle’s 1922 Carnegie Hall lecture, for example, a woman named Maude Fancher killed her infant and herself while leaving behind a letter written to Doyle proclaiming she was inspired by the Spiritualist movement to hasten her transition to the afterlife. Houdini, who also spoke before Congress in an attempt to get a law against phony psychics enacted, was himself an exceedingly generous man and it enraged him that psychics were pocketing enormous fees preying on the grief-stricken. Spiritualism was one of the fastest growing religions in the post- WW I-era and tricksters knew no bounds when it came to roping in the willing, the gullible and the curious.

This is a meager response—but I note there are five additional interrogatives, so I figured I ought to move on….<grin>

Gef: Rather than tell the tale from Houdini's perspective, you went with one of his assistants. Was this to help keep him at arm's reach and retain that air of magic about him?

Lisa: That’s a terrific concept—unfortunately it’s not the reason I came up with the fictional Leona Derwatt, the unreliable narrator in THE BOX JUMPER. I knew I wanted to write about Houdini and after doing a lot of research, I sat down to listen to what my muse (or, if you prefer, my subconscious) had to say. Luckily, since I’d done a ton of work, Leona had plenty of facts at her fingertips so that neither one of us would sound completely stupid on the subject. I also “divined” almost immediately that she was in love with Houdini. It was a huge shock when I learned, as much as he loved Bess and was devoted to her, that Houdini had a wandering eye—among other anatomical parts. So, I guess to compensate for what was (to me) disappointing news about an idol, I jumped into the romantic subject matter even more deeply than I might have ordinarily. It also turned out that I really adored Leona, too, and I think that helps create a great deal of sympathy for her.

Gef: What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from you previous titles?

Lisa: You mean aside from intensive research, careful construction, the emphasis on and importance of language, nuance and even sentence rhythm? You do? Oh, okay. One thing I included in this work (a practice I plan on continuing—but more on this later in reference to my work in progress) was embedding a few “secrets.” Not guessing them or hunting them up certainly won’t diminish a reader’s experience in the least, but for those who are addicted to puzzles, spy technique, or have always dreamt of becoming a private investigator, there are a few hidden clues sprinkled here and there. And anyone who figures out any two of these crafty enigmas can email me and win a free signed copy. I’m not saying I’ll personally sign it—and there’s no chance I can get Ian Fleming or J. Edgar Hoover since they’re both dead—actually, I will sign it….

Gef: How intensive does the research process get for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Lisa: Extremely intense—everything from reading as much as possible (and taking notes) before I write, to stopping in the middle of a sentence to research on the fly for something I just thought of that I want to add (the name of a street or a particular product, say). I read at least fifty books and articles, watched tons of videos and, I still find more to watch and read and even though the novella is done and I’m no longer under the gun, I’m still interested, so now reading about his world is part of my leisure reading.

The best trick I learned and swear by is that research helps enormously with both plot and character development. Try it, you’ll like it.<grin>

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Lisa: “Kill all your darlings….” Okay, maybe if it’s really bogging down the story, get in there with the hatchet…on the other hand, some darlings need to be coddled and rethought—maybe your particular sweetums just belongs elsewhere, maybe (depending on the work and the medium) it needs to be expanded, maybe it’s a hint for something else you haven’t thought about previously. Take it out if necessary, but save it in your Notes and Cuts file. Worst case scenario: Some of those darlings make terrific Hallmark card sentiments and you can either earn some extra bucks or make Grandma’s day.

“Write what you know….”I don’t know that I despise this one—because we all do it, and with good reason, but there are ramifications to consider: Joseph L. Manciewicz knew nothing about the theater, yet one of his best films (in fact, one of the best films ever made) was ALL ABOUT EVE; on the other hand, he knew tons about film and THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA was both a critical and commercial failure. I guess what I may be trying to say is that if your darling is about something you know, maybe you do need to sharpen up that axe….

Gef: How would you gauge your progression as a writer thus far, and where you do see your imagination taking you next?

Lisa: Since I’m very hard on myself, I see my progression so far as much too slow, and often think of myself as a professional slacker. I not only plan on never retiring, when a physician said to me recently, “You might be in the middle of a great book when you die,” I replied, “I better be.” So, you get the idea.

Next, I don’t know—not for sure, anyway—but at the moment, the novel-in-progress I’m working on is entitled RADIUM GIRL. It’s about a fictional character horrifically affected by the post-WWI-era dial painters tragedy. Lots of research (including a terrific find from the Library of Congress no one else has mentioned), lots of darkness and tragedy and plenty of hidden secrets. I’m very excited about it and am hoping to finish this spring.

Anyhow, Gef, many thanks for the opportunity to talk to all the Wag the Fox blog readers!

November 19, 2015

New York State of Crime: a guest post by Amy Grech, author of "Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City"

Amy Grech's stories shock, like a sudden splash of cold water. This latest collection delivers gritty profiles of people snarled in the crime and seething anger of inner city New York at its most violent. Here you'll encounter five dark tales: “Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City”, “.38 Special”, “Cold Comfort”, “Prevention”, and “Hoi Polloi Cannoli”. These startling stories will convince you that Grech is noir and horror writer you want to watch.

New York City is the backdrop for virtually every story, save for second novella, “Hoi Polloi Cannoli”, which is set in the near future and has a dystopian feel. It showcases a strategic struggle between the haves and the have-nots. I wrote it a couple of years after the Great Recession that claimed many victims, including me. My cushy corporate job as a Web Content Manager laid me off, but I’d been freelancing on the side the whole time, so I guess the joke was on them!  I’ve been a full-time freelancer for six years and counting!

The lead novella, “Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City”, features a gritty Alphabet City of yesteryear, where buildings were covered with garish graffiti, crime dominated the streets and young lives were snuffed out with reckless abandon. A devious Eye Doctor sets his sights on the wrong girl and murderous mayhem ensues when her older sister lures him back to her apartment, where their father his father is waiting to deliver his own harsh brand of redemption.

Most of the action in “.38 Special”, transpires in a garage and involves a snub-nosed revolver, a lively few rounds of Russian roulette, a cuckolded husband, his best friend, and a most unexpected outcome. I wrote this story after I watched The Deer Hunter and was licking my wounds after breaking up with my first serious college boyfriend.

“Cold Comfort” is set in NYC’s posh Upper East Side and Central Park, a soothing pocket of calm in a whirlwind of chaos. It’s a tragic tale about love and betrayal; the end has surprise twist…

“Prevention” is set in Hell’s Kitchen, another section of NYC with a rich history of violence, where murderous, identical twins help their dear mother into and out of trouble. One of my good friends used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, so I became well-acquainted with all of its dark secrets…

Amy Grech: Website, Google +, Twitter

Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Kobo

Amy Grech has sold over 100 stories to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Magazine, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, Dead Harvest, Expiration Date, Fear on Demand, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Needle Magazine, Reel Dark, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine, Space & Time, The Horror Within, Under the Bed, and many others.

She has stories forthcoming in Detectives of the Fantastic, Volume II and Fright Mare. Amy is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association who lives in Brooklyn.

November 18, 2015

An Artful Exaggerator: a review of Joe R. Lansdale's "Paradise Sky"

Paradise Sky 
by Joe R. Lansdale
Mulholland Books (2015)
417 pages
Available at

It is near impossible for me not to fall in love with a Lansdale novel at this point. He's become one of my favorite authors for the simple fact that his well-honed brand of storytelling draws me in each time like a moth to a flame, though I don't get burned, but I do get marked each and every time. A Lansdale tale is something you carry with you well after you've read it.

It's his crime fiction that hooked me years ago, but I've come to really appreciate his westerns, and Paradise Sky is a corker.

Western tales from the old days were known for ... embellishments, and with the liberties Lansdale takes with the real history of Nat Love through this novel, it makes the man a myth, and the myth a man all at the same time. For that alone, I'd give this book high praise, but throw in the delectable way with dialogue Lansdale is known for and this book is just irresistible.

Essentially, we meet Young Willie just as his life takes an unexpected and disastrous turn, and all because he happened upon the sight of a married woman's rear end. Slavery days are over in the legal sense down south, but a lynch mob comes together in no time flat to hunt down Willie. At the behest of his father, Willie flees the farm with an insanely irate husband on his trail. At each turn, the series of occurrences that propel a hapless son of a former slave to become a renowned cowboy known as Deadwood Dick could be called outlandish, but life's funny like that. And amidst all the death and hate and carnage that chases our young protagonist, it's that twinkle of humor that keeps you turning pages just to see what'll happen next.

I don't know if historians will give this book a passing grade for its accuracy, but western lovers and lovers of stories in general ought to find nothing but enjoyment from this novel. Is this Lansdale's best work yet? Bah, who can tell when the man has penned so many tremendous novels. I'd dare say The Thicket from a couple years back is better, at least for my own personal enjoyment, but Paradise Sky is hot on its heels.

November 17, 2015

The Never-Ending Nightmare: a guest post by Jesse Galena, author of "The Corrupted Kingdom"

“The Never-Ending Nightmare: The Day I Discovered Horror Didn’t Have to Suck”
a guest post by Jesse Galena

Most of the meaningful changes in my life didn’t happen because of one, documentable moment. They consisted of countless interactions, encounters, and thoughts that eventually altered my perception enough to understand something I had not considered, allowing me to accept or appreciate something in a way I couldn’t have before.

That’s not the case when it comes to the day I learned that I loved the horror genre. When I was in college, a friend let me borrow a PlayStation game called Silent Hill. After a mere few hours, my perception of what horror was and how it could tell a captivating and meaningful story changed forever.

When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, the majority of horror was about blood splatter, chainsaws, hook hands, and gutting people. They were about acts of violence against people, usually done by people or something that looked too human for me to think of it as anything else. The Thing and Alien were exceptions, but I unfortunately didn’t know about those at the time. Horror, as I understood it, was solely about cruel people doing cruel things because reasons, and that’s about as deep as it got. It was boring and predictable.

Silent Hill was nothing like the tropes and trappings of the horror genre that dominated the world I knew. Silent Hill built tension with isolation and a true sense of uncertainty. The enemy wasn’t a man in a mask with a knife. No true villain in the game was even human. You fought or ran from creatures that were manifestations of fear, monsters that held no human emotions or motivations. Part of the horror and a main part of the story came from the idea that what scared you was beyond humanity, and what could harm you was beyond it as well.

The monsters in Silent Hill had a grotesque twist to their anatomies, but the designs did not rely on gore to bring discomfort to the viewer. On some of the creepiest creatures, humanoid features appeared as a mockery rather than being something truly human. Aside from the monsters, either fog or darkness obscured the player’s view at every step, giving a sense of dread for what the light might reveal with each step.

Rather than bombarding the audience with blood and gore and jump scares, Silent Hill shrouded the visuals of the world, and the story, in a layer of mystery. It made the player connect events and different aspects of the game, forcing the player to use their imagination and populate the unseen corners of the world with their own fears.

From Silent Hill, I learned that horror was a way to explore the unsettling and uncertain parts of the human condition. I learned that making a story uncomfortable could help tell a story the audience could not experience any other way. I learned that horror could be so much more than cruel people being cruel. I learned more about pacing and the rising and falling of the tension release cycle from that game more than any English class or from authors speaking about it.

While I have found many fantastic horror books, video games, and other media, the idea of the true antagonist being the physical form of a person’s own fears and nightmares really stuck with me. I’ve seen a few other works dabble with that idea, but I wanted to use it as a staple concept in my book, The Corrupted Kingdom. The idea that a place can actually syphon your fears out of you and turn them into monsters was a concept I had to expand upon. In The Corrupted Kingdom, not only does the kingdom create monsters based on your fears, but it is also rife with the lingering monsters from the people who have come before you. It’s a land stuck in our world, yet it adheres to rules we do not understand.

I love other games in the Silent Hill series, but I will always have a special appreciation for the original on PlayStation. It’s an amazing game, and I cannot recommend it enough for anyone who is a fan of the survival/horror genre of games or someone wanting a good story and a thrilling scare.

Happy candy hangover!

November 16, 2015

Blurring Genres: The New Age of Publishing: a guest post by Alex Fedyr, author of "Estranged"

Blurring Genres: The New Age of Publishing
a guest post by Alex Fedyr

Something phenomenal is happening. Sure, a lot of people like to spout the doom and gloom of what self-publishing has brought to the world. But there is one really cool thing that doesn’t get talked about enough: genre-bending.

Back in the day, speculative fiction was divided into fantasy and sci-fi, and never the two shall meet. (Except in really rare circumstances.) You also had western novels, action novels, novel novels, all sorts of neat little boxes for everything to fall into. As humans, we like boxes. They make everything neat and easy to understand.

But some people don’t like boxes. They go up to the soda machine and pour all the different flavors into one glorious cup. What that person is an author, they take all their favorite genres and bake them into one fantastic pot pie of awesome. But back in the day, publishers didn’t like that. They liked their neat little boxes, and if they couldn’t cram your oddly-shaped franken-baby into one or another, then you were out of luck. No published book for you. The keepers of the keys deny your entry and lock the gates.

Enter self-publishing. You don’t like my crazy Picasso meets Van Gogh love child? That’s ok, I know people who will. So I’ll publish it myself and bring my fantastic creation straight to them: my like-minded fans.

This has resulted in a gazillion niche genres, and a flood of in-betweens don’t even fit into the niches. We now have books that are best categorized with a string of categories. Sci-Fi-Fantasy-Romance-Western? That’s a thing. And that’s glorious! It forces our minds to expand beyond the limited ways in which we have always framed the world. In fact, I think it reflects more accurately the way the world actually is. We love to say we are Nigerian, American, Japanese, etc. but these labels do not properly capture anything. Whether some of us want to admit it, we’re all mutts! And we don’t live in a binary of American-Not-American. We live on a spectrum of American-Freshly-Arrived-From-Taiwan-With-Chinese-Grandparents to American-Born-And-Raised-for-Twenty-Generations-With-Australian-Cousins. And now our books read the same way. Sci-Fi with an old-school magic system and a romance that turns into family dispute amidst a war, that’s a thing. (Did anyone guess that that was Star Wars? Ok, so it’s not a new thing, but still!)

I took advantage of this new mindset when I wrote Estranged. I like police procedural action, so I threw it in there. I like the crazy powers of fantasy magic systems, so I threw my own crazy power in there. I like science, so I had scientist try to rationalize the whole mess. And voila, now you have a new town with new people and a drug that is also a power they do not understand. People are killed by handshakes! How crazy is that? Can you imagine living in a world where you’re scared to hug the aunt you haven’t seen in three years? (Ok, we’re all scared to hug our aunts, but that’s beside the point.)

Anyway, if you are a fan of genre benders like I am, I hope you seek them out and let me know what you find. If you can’t find them, I hope you get out there and write them, because dagnabbit, we need more of this madness! [Insert Shameless Plug] And, if you’re new to the field and need somewhere to start reading, I hope you start with Estranged. If you don’t like it, I guarantee that you’ll be able to complain to me about it on Twitter! Or, whatever other social media you want to complain on. Here I’ll make it easy for you:

Twitter: @alexfedyr
Facebook: Alex Fedyr
Tumblr: alexthefedyr
Main Website:

Did you notice the pattern there? Yup. You’re welcome.

Ok, that’s enough stepping on your toes for one day. I hope to run into you guys and gals again very soon. And don’t forget to send me those book recommendations!

Estranged is available now at all major retailers. Here’s what it’s about:

Kalei hates touching. Especially if it is a hug. After all, her mother was killed by one.

Kalei was born and raised in Celan, the first city to have an Estranged problem. It was seventeen years ago when they appeared, and the citizens learned the hard truth: that it only takes a bit of skin-on-skin contact to turn their loved ones into corpses, or Estranged. No one really knows why some people turn and some people die, they just know that anyone touched is gone.

And Kalei wants them to stay gone. But, being a police officer in the city, she witnesses every day the damage done by Estranged. Black nails mark these harbingers of death. Seeking the high they get from every piece of skin they touch, the Estranged crush the lives of Celan's citizens with alarming ease.

They killed her mother for a high, and now Kalei wants to wipe them out of existence before they can seek another. But she can't. Only the Wardens are equipped to do so, and she will do anything to be inducted into their ranks.

But will they accept her now that she has turned Estranged?

You can try a free sample from most major websites, including these:

Amazon - Paperback & eBook
Barnes & Noble - Paperback & eBook
Kobo - eBook

November 13, 2015

Fate in Plain Sight: an interview and giveaway with Jason Parent, author of "Seeing Evil"

About Seeing Evil:

Fate in plain sight.
Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

Gef: What was the inspiration behind Seeing Evil?
Jason: My only literary inspiration was Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, which will always be a favorite of mine. But the premise is much older. It’s the story of Cassandra, of knowledge without power, of trying to do what’s right and being alienated for it. But unlike the big blockbuster endings with huge ramifications, like that of The Dead Zone and The Watchmen, I wanted my story to focus on real people with hard lives and the smidgen of hope they have of escaping them.
Gef: How intensive did the research get for you? Anything you learned and wanted to include, but just didn't have time or room for?
Jason: I didn’t need much research for Seeing Evil. It’s not loaded with science or technological jargon, with police procedure being perhaps the most technical aspect of the book. My legal background helped me there. Unlike my recent story in Bad Apples 2, where I needed to do extensive research into the military, Afghanistan, Mexico, and the Day of the Dead, among other things… Or an upcoming novel that takes place in Kansas, a state to which I’ve never been.
Yeah, sometimes I’m a glutton for punishment.
Gef: How much of a balancing act is there for you when teasing supernatural elements in a story that is otherwise firmly rooted in a real world setting?
Jason: Well, there’s no hiding the ball with Seeing Evil, with the synopsis clearly stating that the protagonist has visions of the future. So readers will be expecting that going in, and (I hope) are ready to suspend disbelief in that respect. The balancing act comes in trying not to overwrite the vision but instead transport the reader into a scene that seems as real as any other, not like a dream sequence. So it’s more making what’s seen in the vision believable than the fact of the vision itself.
Then again, Donnie Darko pulled off something else entirely.
Gef: Who do you count among your writing influences?
Jason: Well, I’ve given credit to Poe and King in the past, and certainly they still influence my work. With respect to thrillers, however, I may lean more toward James Rollins and Tess Gerritsen, not so much in writing style, but in plotting and pacing. But both my novels have been called “genre mash-ups,” and there’ll be more of that to come. While I love and respect the authors I’ve named and many more, I hope to stand on my own two feet with something original and refreshing.
Gef: What do you consider to be the lasting appeal of the thriller genre? 
Jason: It’s exciting. Really, it’s as simple as that. You’re running, fighting, diving, crashing, trying to survive right alongside the characters in them – the pacing is fast and, if done right, you always feel a need to turn the page and find out what happens next. You can’t relax until the book is done, and before you know it, you’ve read half the novel in one sitting. Try doing that with A Tale of Two Cities or Ordinary People.
Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?
Jason: The advice I gave myself when I started: “You can do this on your own.” I hate asking anyone for help, but in meeting some of the great people I have met, I’ve improved my writing with, I think, every work I’ve released. And there’s quid pro quo. The advice I would give my younger self now would be: “Find a great support group of editors, beta readers, bloggers – people who you can trust and call friends – and support them right back.” No writer needs or should have to go about it alone.
Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?
Jason: Nothing I am embarrassed to admit. I am obsessed with determining who committed the crime and why in every television crime drama and most movies, mostly by following the same tired formula they all use. Twists are no longer twists when they are expected.
I may be just a little jaded.
Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Jason: I should have a novelette, dark fantasy/horror that takes place in Scotland (told ya, glutton for punishment) coming out in the next couple of months. Beyond that, another novelette is in the works, and three novels are out for consideration, not to mention several short stories.
Your readers, if interested, can find me at my website,, though I am more active on Facebook at and Twitter at

Thanks again for having me on your blog and for participating in the Seeing Evil tour! 

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit Jason on
 Facebook, on Twitter, or at his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.    

Praise for Seeing Evil
“… Parent writes in such a fluid, mesmerizing and realistic way that I found I couldn’t stop!” – My So-Called Book Reviews
Seeing Evil is one of those books that takes off at a fast pace and doesn't slow down.” – Carries Book Reviews
“Jason Parent tortures us right alongside his characters. The world building is excellent and very real.” – I’m a Voracious Reader
“…one of the best suspense thrillers I have read in a very long time. In lesser hands it would have been a decent read but the author's skill in setting the scene, character development, and story telling makes this a far superior novel.” – Book Nutter’s Book Reviews
Seeing Evil has some very special moments and is a very fast read. There's no denying Parent has talent.” Glenn Rolfe, author of Blood and Rain, Boom Town, and Abram’s Bridge
“Wow! That was just brilliant! Every single chapter straight from the very beginning had me gripped.” – Andrew Lennon, author of Keith and A Life to Waste, a Novel of Violence and Horror
“Superbly fast paced from beginning to end meaning you will not want to put it down. A plot that will keep you guessing to the very end but not in a confusing way. Brilliant characters that gel together perfectly. A bloody good book.” – Confessions of a Reviewer
“This is one seriously entertaining, thought provoking read.” – Adam Light, author of Taken, Toes Up, and The Corpus Corruptum
“This book was a police procedural/thriller/psychological horror story-it doesn't neatly fit into any category except for: ‘damn fine read’.” – Char’s Horror Corner
“The entire story was strong, driven, and merciless in all regard from beginning to end. Even when you think you know where it's going, there's yet another--logical--twist.” Horror After Dark
Seeing Evil is a perfectly-paced book, with intriguing characters and white-knuckle, edge of your seat tension. The villain is particularly haunting in an all-too-plausible way, and even a few days after having finished reading the events of the book are still vividly etched in my mind. Parent's writing here is top notch - sleek, efficient and with surprising emotional depth.” – Evans Light, author of Arboreatum, Screamscapes, and Harmlessly Insane.
Purchase Links
Sign up to enter to win one of five books from Jason Parent! There is one print copy of Seeing Evil, one print copy of Bad Apples 2 collection, 1 e-book of What Hides Within, and one e-book of Dead Roses. All winners get Seeing Evil bookmarks! Random draw chooses winner. First name drawn receives first prize, and so on. Any giveaway questions may be forwarded to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist,
Enter to win at the link: