Last Writes

Simply. Scary.

Coffin Hop 2014

It’s the time of year for us to start hoppin! This year, not only do we have great fiction, poetry and essays, but PRIZES as well.  Ohhh, prizes! What’s in this package of prizes you say? Take a look.

coffin hop

In this pack you get:

  • A copy of Dark Moon Digest 17

  • A hand-sewn backpack

  • a hand-sewn kleenex holder

  • a hand painted mini coffin

Oh, you want to know how to win this cool stuff? Simple. For every comment (something a little more exciting than “cool post” please), every share on Facebook, or Twitter, I will stick your name in a hat. At the end, I will have my son draw a name. Easy peasy.

After you are done here, make sure you visit all the great blogs participating in this great event. www.coffinhop.com

coffin-hop-2014

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THE BROKEN URN by Gerry Griffiths

“Cameron, get over here quick!”

“Hold on.” Cameron swung his legs over the edge of the bed and shifted the phone to his other ear.

“Now! I mean it!”

“Jesus, Charlene, it’s two in the morning.”

“I know that but I did something real stupid.”

“Can’t it wait?”

“If you don’t come over Bobby’s going to kill me.”

“He might be a deadbeat husband but I doubt— ”

“Cameron, I screwed up big time!”

“What the hell did you do?”

“I knocked over his daddy’s ashes.”

“You mean the urn he keeps on your mantel?”

“Yeah and I got it all over.”

“So what’s the big deal? Sweep it up and dump it back in the urn. Can I go back to sleep now?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“The urn shattered on the floor.”

“Then stick the ashes in a cellophane bag.”

“You don’t get it, Cameron. Bobby warned me if I ever touched that urn, he’d beat the living hell out of me.”

“So what do you want me to do?”

“Get over here and protect me!”

“Hell, Charlene—”

“Oh jeez, Cameron. I think I just heard his truck. It’s Bobby! Cameron, please, for the love of God . . . ”

***

When Cameron got over to Charlene’s, Bobby’s Chevy pickup was parked in the driveway.

Cameron ran up the porch steps. The front door was wide open which wasn’t a good sign. He could hear Bobby yelling from the rear of the house. Charlene screamed and then there was a gunshot.

He rushed in hoping Bobby wasn’t waiting for him with his thirty-ought-six.

Cameron spotted the busted urn on the floor in front of the fireplace.

The living room was a shambles; everything covered with gray ash. The coffee table was flipped over and there were Field and Stream magazines tossed on the throw rug. Bobby’s La-Z-Boy was turned on its side.

“Charlene! Where you at?”

“Back here!”

Cameron dashed down the hall. He stopped at the doorway and saw Bobby, dead, lying on the bedroom floor with a bloody gunshot wound in the center of his chest.

Charlene was holding a rifle, standing across the room.

“What the hell’d you do?”

“I don’t know what came over me.” Charlene was crying. “I couldn’t stop myself!”

Cameron had never put much credence in all that supernatural nonsense, and for the life of him, he never could figure out why Bobby had ever wanted to keep his dead daddy’s ashes.

The man had been a psychotic serial killer.

Even after they had fried him in the electric chair and gone to the trouble of cremating the bastard, rumor claimed his evil presence still lingered in the afterlife so he could haunt and possess innocent folks.

And now Cameron believed that to be a factual truth as he stared down the muzzle of Bobby’s deer rifle and Charlene’s bruised face pressed against the stock, covered with the mad man’s ashes.

Gerry Griffiths is in a myriad of Dark Moon Digest and Dark Eclipse titles. Make sure you check some of them out!  Then head on over to Coffin Hop headquarters to see what other hoppers are doing.

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C L Raven

P1070824C L Raven is actually a set of twins who write stories together. They are the author of “City of the Dead” which can be found in Dark Moon Digest 17.

1. What was the very first story you ever wrote, and what happened to it? (was it published, used in a school paper, lined the bird cage . . . ?)

We wrote our very first stories when we were about 9. They were very gory, accompanied with terrible drawings filled with copious amounts of blood and people being dismembered. Even then, we were very creative with the way we killed people in stories. Looking back, we were either going to become writers or serial killers! Luckily, it’s the former, though it would be easier to get a book deal if we’d gone the other way. Surprisingly, our teacher never called in a psychologist or had a chat with our parents. The stories are in a box up the attic along with every other story we’ve written. There are a lot of boxes.

 2. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you on Halloween?

Answering the door to the neighbourhood kids. Someone spread the rumour we’re witches. Being Goths with black cats and permanent Halloween decorations probably doesn’t help quash the rumour.

 3.  What are your future plans for writing?

We’re constantly writing new books, new short stories, or articles for Haunted Digital Magazine, so our plans always involve getting more work published and hopefully selling lots of the books we’ve self-published. We’re currently working on a series of historical horror novellas—our story “City of the Dead” has been changed into a novella called The Malignant Dead so we hope to publish it next year. The others will feature witches, body snatchers, highwaymen and pirates. We also hope to publish another novel, Bleeding Empire about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and we’ve just written a horror novella for teenagers called Silent Dawn.

4.  Tell us something really off-the-wall non-writing related about you.

We have our own ghost hunting show, Calamityville Horror, on YouTube. We visit haunted places around the UK, sometimes spending the night in them. We’ve investigated jails, ancient inns, castles, caves and Edinburgh’s vaults. In one of our recent places, Newsham Park Orphanage, we shut ourselves in naughty cupboards and the morgue fridge. We lay in the morgue fridge for about 30 minutes. It was weirdly comfortable. That’s our highlight of the year.

5.  Linky Links

Blog

Twitter – @clraven

Facebook

Amazon author page

YouTube

Make sure to grab a copy of Dark Moon Digest 17 so you can read their story for yourself.

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The True Horror of the Autobiography by Jay Wilburn

Write what you know is a standard bit of writing advice for all literary and genre writers. This can mean establishing the setting with the region in which one lives. It can mean building characters out of individuals you know from life to add realism to their choices and actions. It can mean focusing on careers, industries, and cultures with which we are familiar so the story can be conveyed to the reader in the most believable way possible through the small strokes of detail.

The problem with genre writing is that there is a limit to the concept when visiting an alien world or dealing with the supernatural. Things have to be extrapolated and the things we know have to be applied in the framework to support the abnormal portions of the story more securely. With horror, much of the blood, violence, torture, and terror have to be extrapolated as well. We know fear in various forms, but often times we are applying that fear in a new way or to a new degree. Technique has to be applied to express the fear in a way that communicates to the reader. A racing heart, quickening pulse, and various parts of the body sweating at just the right time will help, but can only take us so far.

As a ghostwriter, I have completed a wide range of freelance jobs from self-help to lesson plans to children’s books to blog posts to romance to zombies to historic fiction and more. It is its own world of literature and nonfiction. The works that hit hardest for me are the autobiographies.

The typical pattern is that the client is a nonwriter with a story to tell or they are somewhat of a writer, but don’t know how to express their own story. Writing your own life is difficult because you don’t know what details to include or exclude. It is tough to see one’s own life objectively. We may have a hint of our flaws, but they can’t always be seen for what they are or for the full impact on the pattern of our lives viewed from the inside. Sometimes the pain is too great to pen yourself.

I usually begin by having the client talk to me by phone or by Skype. I encourage them to not worry about storyline, organization, or even thinking of a book. Just talk. I take detailed notes. Sometimes it takes more than one sitting to get the first chapter, but usually it begins to pour out. Even as I am taking notes, I start to see patterns. Themes present themselves pretty quickly. I find bits that tug an emotional string and I know I will expand there. I see patterns of bad choices, character flaws that the person intends to hide, but inevitably end up revealing through their actions as all characters do even through a first person filter, and the pieces that will make their ordinary life interesting to others.

The first chapter of the draft is jarring for them. Reading back their own story in their own words through my hand is a shock to the system. They hear their own voice in it, but they don’t always like how it sounds. They see the truth in the virtues and flaws I feature, but they don’t really like what it says about them. I always stop after the first chapter or section and let them digest it. We go back and forth to correct the details and adjust the voice, but we get there. Later chapters run more smoothly because I get their voice better and they trust me more.

I see some dark things in these true stories. I’m often writing them in first person. I’m writing them as the client. I am digging around in their heads and I am translating their pain for them. All the skill I have learned through writing horror fiction is applied to communicating real stories of abuse, homelessness, murder, crime, drug addiction, and other darkness. Creating the mind of a broken character is a new brand of horror when you are building off a living, breathing, and participating subject.

In one of his New Testament letters, the apostle Paul stated the warning that “the days are evil.” This is a throwaway line for many Christians that read on for the promises or the light, but that phrase haunts me. It says something deeper than there is a Ying and Yang spiraling through life. It says something different than there are evil people out there. It implies that darkness is the default. The day itself is set for evil and if we do nothing, that is what will happen. I can live my life and ignore the pain of others around me, but evil will rule the day as I buy my coffee and watch my shows. Someone is in pain near me, on the other side of the wall or behind the doors I pass. They know what the day is made of when those that have to power to do something just live their lives and do nothing to take the day back from its evil default. I used to be a teacher and I am a father, but I don’t do much in my life to save the world these days. I think maybe helping some of these survivors to tell their stories about the days that no one did anything about is some help. But it reminds me that so many people are held captive in evil days waiting for someone to reach out and take the day back.

When a person has a story to tell about their lives, there is usually something intense in their background. Every person’s life involves struggle. It is shocking though how many stories of abuse, violence, and real-life horror are out there among us.

I have to shuffle myself off to some corner of my house with the door closed to protect my family from the things that the person is sharing over Skype. They often, in their effort to unload these stories, tell me things they have never told anyone else in their lives. And then I have to write it.

It is amazing the things people have survived in their lives. These things are going on now in the houses right around you. Every autobiography has the opportunity to share the horrors that others are dealing with and think they are alone in the world as they do. Every time a new offer to bid on an autobiography ghostwriting job comes up, I feel a little wave of fear as I consider my next move.

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