Marie Lavender Released a New Book!!

My good friend Marie Lavender recently released a new book, late February, and I wanted to share some of her information. She is a romance writer and a damned good one!

This story is called Upon Your Love. Here is an excerpt from the piece:


The neigh of a horse brought her out of her reverie and she looked over, but her mare stood quietly beside the stream. Adrienne’s instincts nagged at her and she stood up, her ears on alert. The clomp of hoof beats came to her on the swift afternoon breeze. Was the rider coming from the estate or perhaps it was simply a stranger? In any case, a sense of unease grew in the pit of her stomach and she reached down to unearth a small dagger Gabriel had gifted to her two summers ago. She kept it in a sheath around her thigh. Gabe had always said that if she didn’t have a sword on hand, it was best to have something. And she couldn’t agree more.

She clucked her tongue to alert Persephone and led her quickly by the reins under the cover of the trees. The rider was closer now and her mare shifted uneasily, blowing a breath out of her nose. She must have heard the approaching horse as well. “Shh. It’s all right,” Adrienne whispered, stroking her neck. She tied the reins to a tree and waited.

When the rider appeared from the forest, she couldn’t see him clearly. It was a man—that much she was certain—but the lapels of his dark coat and the thicket of limbs brushing her face kept her from placing his identity. He had dark hair and was tall, his body lean and muscled. She watched as he got down from a fine, black stallion and led it to the stream for a rest. The man took a drink from his cupped hands. He wiped the remnants of the water from his chin, and then seemed to search the area nearby. She shivered. Was it possible the man had been tracking her? If that was the case, her dagger would certainly come in handy. Adrienne crouched on alert, spying through her vantage point in the trees. From behind, she observed as the tension eased from his shoulders and he sighed.

A frisson of unease ran through her again. Taking it as a sign, she confirmed he was still faced away before she quietly eased out of her haven. Stepping up behind him, she lifted her dagger to his throat. A smile of grim determination danced over her lips as he stiffened.

“Who are you? Why are you here? Are you following me?”

“What if I was?”

Fine shivers moved along the surface of her skin, caused by the deep timbre of his voice.

“I would have to ask for your reasons, Monsieur.”

“I haven’t come to kidnap you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he sighed. “I didn’t expect you’d be prepared. I commend the effort, of course.”

She frowned. The compliment threw her for a moment, but she then brushed it off. Surely, he ridiculed her, and thought he could overtake her somehow. She shook her head. He would be gravely disappointed.

“You will state your reasons for your presence and your identity, sir.”

“And if I don’t?”

“You will regret it, of course.”

“Indeed? Do you intend to harm an unarmed man?”

She scoffed. “Unarmed? No, I doubt that. With the way you appeared to be tracking me, I am sure you’re quite armed.”

“Right again. What will you do about it?”

She shrugged. “This is Bellamont land. You’ve clearly trespassed. If I must, I will drag you straight back to the house. You know, I believe the foreman has a Winchester sporting rifle. He can be quite formidable when he puts his mind to the task.”

“I’m sure,” he murmured.

“What say you then?”

“I say, Mademoiselle, that you have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

Before she could open her mouth to take him to task, she felt a blow to her arm and the numbing pain caused her to drop the knife. Everything else happened in a blur. As he turned, he caught her leg, which caused her to collapse. But, before she landed, he grasped her up in his arms. He was too close, she thought. Panic threatened inside of her, but she fought it by degrees. She was a fighter, not some idiot who would succumb to a man’s power. Gabriel had taught her many tricks, as had her father. She forced herself to go limp so that he’d pull her closer. She let her eyes drift closed and pretended to have swooned.

Mon Dieu,” he whispered.

Then she unmanned him with a swift rise of her knee. He coughed out a grunted response, releasing her.

She retreated from him, intent on finding her dagger, but did not see it. The leaves in the grass crunched beneath her hands and knees as she struggled to her feet. She would have to rely on the resources of the forest to save her if he pursued further. Somehow, she doubted he’d be able to. She turned and her mouth dropped open as she looked at her attacker.

His dark hair had fallen over one eye and he was hardly doubled over in pain. No, he scowled at her now and he seemed quite well. She’d missed her target, she realized. His identity shocked her further. She felt quite stupid for not recognizing him, even from behind. But, why had Christian tried to attack her?

 “How…,” she whispered.

“You are not as fast as I, Mademoiselle.” Then he laughed, but there was no mirth in his expression. His eyes seemed darker suddenly. “You little brat,” he bit out. “You almost had me.”

She sucked in a breath and, when she saw him advance, she backed away. But, it effectively put her back right up against a nearby tree. She cursed. Christian closed in, blocking her in with his arms as he braced his hands on the tree trunk. Her breaths came out in harsh pants and her stomach had fallen somewhere at her feet. Dear God, what would he do? She jerked her arms out to break his hold, but his muscles were like the ratlines between the shrouds of a mast in a ship’s rigging. Solid. Struggling with his obvious intimidation of her, she managed, “Why are you trying to kidnap me?”

Some of the arrogance left his face. “I’m not. I thought we already established that.”

“Then why… this?” she asked, weakly. And why couldn’t she breathe? His clean, male scent caused her to feel lightheaded. No, she thought. That just had to be terror.

“I wanted to get you alone so that we could continue our plans. I didn’t mean for you to see me as a threat. I certainly didn’t expect a dagger at my throat.” He reached out and cupped her face, stroking the line of her jaw gently with his thumb.

Adrienne gazed into his nearly black eyes. She thought she saw a hint of admiration and something more, perhaps desire, in his gaze.

“P… plans?” she stammered, annoyed with the hypnotic effect he had on her. And what was that strange, but wonderful scent coming off him? She detected cologne which contained a hint of fresh pine. But then, she’d smelled it before, both in her room and at the Broussard’s engagement party. Even though the fragrance was pleasant, she tried to ignore it.

“Our matchmaking endeavor, chére.”

“Oh. That.”

“Yes, that. Did you forget?”

She cleared her throat. “No, of course not.” Her resolve returned in full force then. She slapped his hand aside and sidestepped him. Stalking away to locate Persephone, she unearthed her mare from the brush in no time. When she returned, he still stood there, watching her. She shivered again.

Mon Dieu, she thought. Why was this happening to her? Why did the man tie her in knots?


Good stuff! Here is the purchase information:

Amazon Universal link:


Barnes & Noble:


CreateSpace link:

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S.T. Joshi’s Latest Blog

I received a mention in S.T. Joshi’s latest blog. This is the highest of honors for me, as without S.T., I never would have published a darned thing!!!!!


I am so taken with some of these writers that I continue to read them in my spare time. However, that spare time may become much more limited soon, because I am contemplating writing a book called 21st-Century Horror, which will discuss some of the leading weird writers of our day—Caitlín R. Kiernan, Laird Barron, Jonathan Thomas, Michael Aronovitz, Jason V Brock, Kelly Link, Elizabeth Hand, Glen Hirshberg, John Langan, and others. In essence, this might constitute the third volume of my Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction, since I was only able to cover a few of these authors (and in a somewhat cursory manner) in that treatise.

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Nemesis and Other Things

S.T. Joshi put together a new anthology with Hippocampus called Nemesis. I have a story in there, and all of us just sent bios. That means publication is coming soon. Exciting!

I am enjoying writing the memoir The Electric 70’s. As I said in an earlier post, I am working on two pieces at once now. 70’s is my afternoon project, and it is coming along well. It is a kind of writing that seems to be created in a different way than fictive stuff. There is far more narrative summary than scene work…in fact I wonder how much scene work is appropriate, as when you have people talking line for line, you had better have perfect memory of it. Sort of comes off like fiction, even the recent stuff.

My other issue is with time lines. I am in a certain recollection (currently when I was in elementary school for instance) yet there are constant places where more current references sort of jump in. I am fighting with relevance and temporal chaos. Actually, it is not that serious. I just want to let this flow, while not having any potential readers feel I am jumping around too much.

The Glorious Secrets of Ghosts is in a nifty place. I am about to break 50,000 words, and on the brink of the first real horrific scene unit in the beginning of the climactic part of the book. LOVING IT!


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Hmm.  Did I say I wasn’t going to talk process anymore? Really? I think I am going to have to roll that back. I don’t have a standard Facebook account nor Twitter anymore, because I don’t want to talk politics or look at comic pictures of cats or advertise my books in those public spaces like a hooker. But enough of that.


I got to a point over the last few years, being so critical of my own work, that all of it almost came to a grinding halt. It is not so much that with 2 collections and 3 novels, that I tapped a lot of life-long ideas that were brewing before and during the ten year journey I have enjoyed under the counsel and advice of Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. (I have also benefited from his Forewords, Afterwords, and recommendations in reference to publishers and editors he introduced me to). It is also that I moved from the small market to mid-range, and no one quite understands that pressure until going through it.

I know. Sounds like a choke job. So I did something about it. I am 55 years old, and decided to try Prevagen. Not that I am promoting this as a miracle supplement or drug or herb or whatever you’d call a pill with ingredients from jellyfish, but I noticed my writing volume increased. I went from an odd 2 pages of finished copy a day to something like 4 or 5 in the ongoing novel The Glorious Secrets of Ghosts. I started a memoir as well. I might begin a third piece that explores more commercial avenues, maybe a more standard thriller as opposed to the literary nature of Ghosts.

And it isn’t just volume and endurance. Being that I am a part time college professor of English and have been blessed with a couple of days off a week, writing has become part of the day job, one I love, one I want to continue at the highest level.

I’m writing some of the best shit structurally and creatively that I have done yet. And speaking of volume…my best hours are 6 am to around 11 am. Or at least they have been. Recently, I have been doing Ghosts until 11 am, taking a short break to eat, doing my walk, and coming back to write the memoir, The Electric 70’s, from around 3 pm to dinner time. If I can condense the walking, shopping, watching CNN, goof off time in the middle of the day, maybe I’ll start writing that third piece. I have never done simultaneous works, but I am starting now!

In terms of The Glorious Secrets of Ghosts, S.T. Joshi already accepted the first chapter to be run as a short story in an upcoming edition of “Nemesis,” a new anthology coming out of Hippocampus. That “story” (chap) is called Breath. He did not accept the third chap from Ghosts for a new antho he is putting together called Apostles of the Weird, (the chapter / story I sent him is called The Session) but that doesn’t worry me. I recall his passing on the first pre-chapter of what would inevitably become Phantom Effect for lack of a good fit in his antho Searchers After Horror, and everyone came out all right there, the novel eventually going through Night Shade (with his recommendation) and my publishing The Girl Between the Slats for Searchers.

Looks like I have to write something else during my now-busy off days. A ghost story for Apostles.

God. I like being busy.

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One Year Anniversary

It was a year ago February 2nd that my best work came out. I do admit that there are some who feel my first novel Alice Walks was my smoothest read, but Phantom Effect, released by Night Shade Books / Skyhorse is most certainly my most complex and intricate work. When I wrote it I told my family it was over…that I would never be able to attain this level of structural acrobatics, character depth, and intensity of psychological potency again. It was over.

I actually wrote Phantom Effect between 2012 and 2014. Since then, I went through the painful process of working on a long, long piece called Dead Red, finally trashing it last summer. It was a work that in the end, simply had character and plot threads I didn’t believe in. I started over with a totally new idea this past July, and as I have posted recently, it is going well. I will be finished The Glorious Secrets of Ghosts this coming summer.

Anyway…Phantom Effect is available on Amazon for something like 4 bucks. Do a brutha a favor. Pick one up! From what I hear from Night Shade, I got pretty good outreach and visibility with this one, and I moved enough copies to make it worth the printing. Whoop, whoop!


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Has Writing Become an Antiquated Art Form?

Without getting into questions about the different forms and functions of writing (expository, narrative, social, creative) I would ask whether writing itself as an aesthetic form is dying.

In terms of business, we see it happening right before our eyes. The biggest publishers are merging, trying to keep their stables working, the only chain bookstore with shelf texts that is still standing is Barnes and Noble, and attendance in creative writing classes has dramatically dropped since, say, the early 90’s.

There used to be a hierarchy, not as organized as baseball, with single, double, and triple-A, yet a clearer ladder nonetheless. It sort of went small market, mid-range, and big-boy. I don’t say anything particularly new in mentioning that self-publishing has decimated the small market and mid-range markets, making it so you can’t really tell the author mills from the legitimate traditional guys trying to make a statement and a living. Still, I am more talking about the writing itself, and not so much the mechanisms used to move it (though let’s be clear, many of those “mechanisms” front as traditional publishers yet they are actually self-pubbers in disguise, offering absolutely no outreach…hoping you get together all your girlfriends, go to the Starbucks, open up your laptops, and get everyone in your extended circle to buy. What’s the novel about? Who gives a flying fuck. If we sign thousands of “writers” knowing each will alert her sewing circle in order to get 300 quick sales, we make as much in the end as a small traditional press. Our outreach? Here. I will send you a weekly newsletter talking about the best ways to open up more social media accounts).

Blogging has become so powerful, that it is more popular and accessible to mid range publicists than traditional and / or legitimate journals. Pay 2,000 for a publicist and he gets you blog posts, not interviews, (nor sales). He asks you to join the white noise, as the white noise has become the new literature, not your old fashioned dusty book.

The first thing agents and editors look into with new writers concerns their Facebook and Twitter accounts. How many followers? How many likes when you post about your product versus pictures of your cat, or your opinions about pipelines or foreign policy? Posting is more alluring than story writing. News and fake news and all the interpretations thereof have all become the new art.

Plainly, learning and communication has changed. In school, it is becoming more important to access information quickly and through more channels than synthesizing the information itself and inventing ideas. In terms of writing and selling, it is more important that the given author has developed personal outreach that evolves in tandem with people clicking in as opposed to offering an artistic product. Good novels are subtle, difficult pleasures one has to dig into. It seems the fluff on the outside however, has become the new statement.

I am lucky that I chose the horror genre. Or more accurately, I am fortunate that it chose me. I am ultimately blessed that I got to know S.T. Joshi a decade ago (has it been that long?) and thankful that Hippocampus, Centipede, and Night Shade took a chance on me. While all the noise is going on…all this fluff…the horror guys have stayed right where they were, standing their ground. The small market has become THE market for many horror writers, especially those like me who are staying away from the cliches and creating novels with a literary focus. You could say that we are like cockroaches. With everything going on and the landscape going through this strange reconstruction, we never die. We’re very much like heavy metal. You can’t kill it, even if you blog about it!

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Strange Views

I’m getting a shitload of strange views from China, Australia, UK, and Canada. Who the hell are you weird-ass people? Send me a comment or something.


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Blogging (or not) About the Process

I have decided that blogging about the process of writing is silly. I got off social media specifically to avoid trolls thinking they have suddenly become political and social philosophers we should listen to simply because they are shouting. I think that guest posting on blogs is a rabbit hole, and most of the time the information isn’t useful. No one cares about my hobbies, my dog, my anniversary, or a hot new recipe I got off the food channel. I know I don’t.

When it comes to blogging about the writing process itself, I tried that and looking back, I don’t like it. Isn’t the purpose of writing to create a world, or in terms of goals more writer-specific, to put our very best out there, edited, poured over, sculpted, and polished to the point that it better demonstrates our questions about socio-political issues and relevant psychological paradox? Why then would I blog about all the behind the scenes stuff I had to do to get there?

I have a blog here. I don’t know what I will blog about in the future, but if you want to know about my writing, buy the ever loving, mother-fucking books.

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La La Land, Thumbs Up?

I went and saw La La Land the other day, and I wanted to celebrate this Golden Globe winner (7 of them) as well as pose questions concerning some of the directorial choices. My son tells me that even my casual writing comes out like a “bogus scholarly article,’ so I will not brainstorm, organize, outline, or edit this. One sitting. Just freestyling!

I had mixed feelings all through the experience, though I will say that overall I felt uplifted and moved. The dialogue and story line worked in a general way, and I especially liked the two lead characters, Ryan Gosling playing the frustrated jazz pianist and Emma Stone, the young actress trying to make it in Hollywood. There were performance moments that actually bordered on brilliance, mostly through Stone, when trying out for different shows in different voices, only to be interrupted by directors and sound stage gophers who couldn’t have given a damn about her endeavor. First level, the “acting” was delivered as delicately proficient, and you couldn’t help but think someone within the story had to notice how good she was. Second level, when “interrupted,” Stone ever so achingly came out of “character” to show the dawning and repeated disappointment experienced by her base character, her eyes and her expression evolving with perfect timing and agony. Our hearts ached.

Gosling was interesting as well, and one could feel his muted anguish as he was forced to sell out again and again. The chemistry between Stone and Gosling worked for the most part, believable enough, some mild sparks, but the only time your heart really broke for them (or raced) was the break-up dinner scene, where Stone’s facial expressions, subtle yet intensive, stole the scene (similar to the auditions).

I also liked the ending. Not to play spoiler, there was some time displacement – fantasy threading that was shot incredibly well by writer/director Damien Chazelle, and I don’t think the “real” conclusion could have gone any other way.

On the flip side of the coin, besides the jazz performance scenes, the music was disappointing. There was a major lacking of build-up and climax, and most of the numbers were forgettable. I suppose subtlety was a theme here, and it seems the “low key” feeling throughout the piece was at least consistent, starting with said songs and affecting the mood and general movement of the action.

The problem was balance. I like Emma Stone, and I will probably hear a lot of shit about this, but I would argue that here she was miscast. First, in terms of superficial appeal, she presented as too thin, almost juvenile. While this particular actress has one of the most beautiful faces on the planet, her clothes literally hung off her, and when the background players, like her roommates, came off more appealing, something certainly felt wrong.

Moreover, Emma Stone can’t dance. While the musical numbers (again, aside from the jazz performance scenes) were rather luke-warm, we can almost chalk that up to the aforementioned theme of “cool” and more critically, the possibility that Chazelle was making a purposeful move away from the old style Broadway numbers that came off hyperbolic and melodramatic. Still, there was an attempt to celebrate “throwback,” the “old days,” not only in the dance styles favoring the likes of Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, and Debbie Reynolds, but the breath-taking sets and lighting. The importance of dexterity and complex composition “back in the day” is even delivered to us in straight exposition, as Gosling’s character voices over and again his desire to keep Jazz the way it was in its technical daring and improvisational brilliance.

Why then does Emma Stone fail to absolutely knock it out of the park during her routines with Gosling? The dance steps literally look like something out of a middle school ensemble, and I was amazed at how very unprofessional and simplistic it played…especially when Gosling’s piano chops are so agile and skillful people are still talking about it on Google, questioning whether the film makers somehow used a body double (they didn’t; it was Gosling).

My vote would have been to cast Julianne Hough in the lead role instead of Emma Stone. The former showed us that she could sing (way better than Stone) in the parody Rock of Ages, and has provided us unconditional proof of her dancing ability, not only in Ages, but on Dancing With the Stars. And though she looked a tad matronly with her hair back as a judge this season, I’ll bet at age 28, she would have been absolutely dazzling in La La Land.

Altogether, I enjoyed this movie. I wanted both characters to win, and I especially related to the tragic beauty of chasing dreams, as so depicted. Unfortunately, with some of the aspects played on the “down low,” it came off “so-so” in keys places.

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Links for Awesome Books!

I thought I might provide the links for some of my books that either might not be readily visible, or available for basement bargain pricing!

Above is the link for the paperback version of my first novel titled Alice Walks. This stalker-ghost story came out first through Centipede Press as a collector’s hardcover. There are still some left at outrageous prices on Amazon, and there remains only 1 or so in paperback there. The link above goes straight to the Dark Regions site where there are currently 12 paperbacks left for $17.00.

Also available on Amazon, is my first collection, Seven Deadly Pleasures. You can find good used copies at this link:



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