Member Publication News (January 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett is pleased to announce the appearance of two new poems: “Bright Tapestry” was included in the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. VIII, and “Ars Poisana,” a collaboration with Andrea Blythe, which closed out 2021’s offerings at Enchanted Conversation. Her story “When the Darkness Calls” was also released in December 2021 in An Exquisite Corpse: A Dystopia Rising: Evolution Anthology by Onyx Path Publishing.

In other news, Carina Bissett and Shannon Lawrence will be appearing online in A Horror Panel to Die For, along with Sumiko Saulson and Clay McLeod Chapman on Tuesday, January 18, from 6:15 PM MT to 8:15 PM MT.

Dakota Brown released Book 4 in the Pizza Shop Exorcist series in December—The Price of Souls: A Reverse Harem Tale. The Audible audiobook at The Price of Possession: Pizza Shop Exorcist, Book 1 became available in January.

*This book is intended for mature audiences. 18+ readers only! It contains language and sexual situations.

The angels want an apocalypse, and the demons want an upheaval in Hell. I want my prince back and a quiet moment with my men. Only one of us can have what we desire, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it’s me.

Travis Heermann started out 2022 with the released of the boxed set of the Ronin trilogy. “A fusion of historical fiction and adventure fantasy, the first volume of Heermann’s Ronin Trilogy is a page-turning folkloric narrative of epic proportions.” —Publishers Weekly 

Ken’ishi is a young ronin, a samurai without a master, tossed on the waves of fate and fortune, orphaned as a baby when his parents were murdered. Amid ruthless crime lords, bloodthirsty demons, and Mongol spies, his only link to his past is Silver Crane, his father’s sword, a blade that holds its secrets close… Such as the secret of the family bloodline. But some secrets best remain kept.

Sam Knight co-authored a recent story with Kevin J. Anderson; the story “Following Icarus Down” is featured in the anthology Jeff Sturgeon’s Last Cities of Earth. Knight has also opened up the publishing company, Knight Writing Press. Forthcoming themed anthologies include Magic Portals, Wishing Well, Mermaidens, and Modern Magic. See open calls on the submission page.

Do you like a good story? So do we! That’s why we like to collect them all together in one place and horde them like the treasures they are! Enrapturing Tales is an anthology imprint of Knight Writing Press. We are not confined to genres or constrained by expectations. Except for the expectation that it will be a good story! From eclectic collections of stories that needed to find a home, to stories only about mermaids, you never know what we will be up to next!

Shannon Lawrence‘s cannibalistic response to the pandemic, “Psychosis,” was included in Madame Gray’s Vault of Gore.

An absolute must-read for all who enjoy their horror with gallons of blood, lashings of guts, and dollops of severed body parts!

Madame Gray has personally selected a plethora of blood-soaked tales of terror and gruesome demise, each one brutally crafted to chill the soul and turn the stomach of even the most hardened fans of the macabre.

In other news, Shannon Lawrence and Sam Knight are featured guests at this year’s COSine event (January 14-16), presenting on a variety of panels.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Sinners or Saints? (October 13 ); Sex, Drugs, & Bullseyes (October 20); Solved, but Not Forgotten (October 27), and Family Matters (November 3).

  • Werewolves & Annihilators (November 10); Barb & Bell’s Personal Hells (November 17); Indigenous in Peril (November 24); Slay-Bells & Stockholm Syndrome (December 1); Rick & At Risk (December 8); Femicide & Santa Crimes (December 15); Shots Fired & Secret Sins (December 22); Favorites (December 29); Guest Composite (January 5).

BONES OF CHANGE by Travis Heermann

Copyright 2017 © Travis Heermann. “Bones of Change” was originally published as a stand-alone. This story may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.

BONES OF CHANGE

by Travis Heermann

The doorbell rang, prompting Alicia Clark to sigh and pause Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. She scooped up her bowl of Halloween treats, with its the scant handful of remaining candies. The clock read almost ten p.m.

It was a little late for trick-or-treaters. Nevertheless, the simple distraction of an evening full of adorable little ghosts and goblins let her pretend for a while that her life had not been blasted off the rails.

She opened the door, and the stench hit her first. Death and fresh earth.

The bowl clattered at her feet, scattering candy.

She let out the kind of gasp that got the angels’ attention. “Oh, Lord! Oh, Jesus!” she shrilled, throwing herself back against into the door jamb. The strength gushed from her legs until she could only sink to her haunches on her doorstep.

Collapsed, half-lidded eye sockets stared her in the face. Gray flesh stretched over cheek bones. The funeral suit was stained and stiffened by dirt and the juices of decomposition. Clumps of grave earth gathered in the creases, in the dark thatch of kinky hair, in the lightning bolt shaved above one ear.

Thank the Lord the body wasn’t moving or she’d have made an Alicia-shaped hole in the back wall. The corpse was propped up against a narrow slab of plywood, secured by loops of wire around his chest and neck. The plywood slab leaned against one of the porch roof supports.

Tears burst out of her. Her chest felt like a great claw squeezed it tight. Her lip began to tremble.

Pinned to the lapel, scrawled on notebook paper: TRICK OR TREAT UPITY BITCH.

It was not a trick.

It was not a joke.

It was not a prank.

Because that was the suit he’d gone to prom in last year, the suit she’d buried him in. The white rose from funeral was still pinned to his lapel, now gray, stained, and desiccated.

She still remembered how that face had looked when it emerged into the world. She had combed the boy’s hair. Wiped his nose. Kissed his hurts.

But there was one great gaping hurt she could not kiss away, an exit wound her whole hand could not have staunched.

“Oh, Anthony,” she said into her hand, choking back the thick sobs.

She used the door jamb for support as she staggered to her feet and took a step toward him on trembling legs, scanning the street for whoever had done this.

Because they were watching. No one would do such a thing and not watch the results of their handiwork.

But she would not give them the satisfaction. They would not see her cry again. She had done too much crying on television.

Alicia’s house lay on a dark stretch of Rose Street, shadowed from the single streetlight by a huge oak tree. Jack-o-lanterns glowed on porches and stoops, but the scampering superheroes should all have sugar-crashed by now. The only cars on the street belonged to neighbors, and Alicia had lived on Rose Street all her life. She knew her neighbors. She knew her community. Her church was a six-block walk every Sunday.

“I know you’re out there,” she said to the tree frogs and whippoorwills, forcing steadiness into voice. “Someday, the Lord’s gonna judge you. It ain’t gonna be me.”

How many heartbeats—how many centuries—passed as she stood there looking at her son, she did not know. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps, and her heart felt cinched tight by barbed wire. She wanted to bring him inside. He must be cold, after six months in the ground. But her strength had deserted her. Nevertheless, she couldn’t leave him there.

She backed into the house, never taking her eyes from Anthony’s slack, gray face, so devoid of life, until she had to step into the living room to grab her cell phone. Her thumb poked the “9,” but hovered over the “1.”

Would anyone bother to come?

Police cruisers did not venture down Rose Street nowadays. The wounds were still too raw on both sides, the killer’s acquittal too recent. She had stood at the forefront of the black community’s pleas for justice, faced swarms of reporters, and became the voice of a movement, at least for a little while. Bill Baxter, her son’s killer, still had friends on the police force, even though he had been fired, which meant that she had enemies on the police force, white men who might harbor personal vendettas.

What would be the police response when she told the operator who she was?

She hung up the phone.

How long must her poor Anthony stand on the porch?

In Oak Park Cemetery, her baby’s grave now yawned open and defiled.

Out there in the dark, within sight of her porch, the perpetrators hid, at least two of them. Digging the grave, securing the body, toting it up onto her porch silently enough for her to have heard nothing, had to be the work of at least two people.

What hate had to exist in someone’s heart for a deed like this? This was an effort of concentrated, clinging malignancy.

How big was the leap from such hatred to violence?

She picked up the phone again.

***

While she waited for the police, she locked the front door, then went through the house and checked every door and window. Everything looked secure. Then a strange, tingling hunch seized her.

She set her cell phone to record video, streaming the recording to an internet archive, as the entire community had learned to do in the wake Anthony’s shooting. Then she placed it in an innocuous corner near the television, where it would have a broad view of the room. The way the police had turned on the peaceful demonstrators had been a harsh lesson. There wasn’t a cop in this town—good or bad—who didn’t know who she was. She would never interact with them again without video evidence. Not that video evidence had brought Anthony any justice, but somewhere, sometime, things had to change. As police brutality videos from across the country flooded the internet, even white people were finally taking notice and demanding change. For the black community, police indifference and brutality were a fact of life going all the way back. But now, change was being built with the bones of dead young men.

The sound of heavy feet on the porch brought her to the door. Two cops—white males—stood staring at her son’s corpse. Her heart skipped a beat and her hand trembled on the door knob.

“Is that who I think it is?” said one.

“Maybe,” said the other.

She opened the door and eyed them warily. “Officers.” She couldn’t bring herself to produce any pleasantries or gratitude.

“How long has this been here?” said the first one. He was a barrel-chested man about her height, salt-and-pepper crew cut, mustache like a soiled brush. His name plate read Harris.

“I don’t know for sure. Half an hour?”

The two officers regarded her son’s body as if it were a museum exhibit. Being so close to two cops sent a cold tightness up her spine. The sight of Anthony, desecrated like this, flanked by two men wearing the same uniform as the man who murdered him, the same as those who’d brutalized demonstrators with truncheons and rubber bullets, tightened her hands into fists, whipped her pulse into a run. One of them smelled of sweat and booze, detectable over even the stench of the grave.

“Aren’t you bringing an ambulance or something to put him back?” she said.

“We need to investigate first,” said Harris. “Graverobbing is a felony.”

She wondered if the cameras on their chests were turned on. There was no way for her to know. After the demonstrations subsided, the city had made a great show of requiring body cams for every officer, but the fine print allowed the officers the discretion to turn them off.

“This your boy?” Officer Harris thumbed toward Anthony’s body. Something about him was familiar. Had she encountered him before?

She nodded.

Anthony’s sunken empty eyes stared through her. If she could have afforded to have him embalmed, he’d be more presentable right now. A strange thought.

She said, “How long you gonna leave him standing there?”

Harris said, “The morgue is on their way.” Meanwhile he stepped off the porch and shined his flashlight around the flower bed, walking toward the corner of the house.

The flashers on the cruiser were dark, but by now her neighbors would have noticed its presence. What would she tell them tomorrow?

The other officer, in his twenties, tall and blond, said, “Mind if we come in and take your statement?” His name was Dalton.

She wanted to say no, but she’d set up the video camera. “Come on in,” she said. She couldn’t keep the tension out of her voice.

Before she led Dalton into the house, she scanned the darkness one last time for whoever might be watching.

In the living room, Officer Dalton took out a notebook. Alicia sat on the sofa. Anyone else, anyone else, she’d have offered tea.

Then began the long string of questions. Dalton scribbled while Harris poked around outside. Her back was rod straight, hands folded in her lap as she talked. In this city, a black woman did not spend twenty years teaching public school without a backbone. She wished Latisha were here. Alicia’s daughter had been her rock all through the dark times, but Alicia had insisted Latisha go back to law school for the fall semester. They couldn’t afford to lose her scholarship.

There was almost nothing to tell in her statement. She had been watching TV. There was a knock on the door. Her son’s corpse was on her porch. She called the police. End of story.

Harris came in. “No footprints or anything. I did find this, though.” He threw a plastic bag stuffed with dried green leaves onto the coffee table. “That much Mary-J amounts to Intent to Distribute.”

“That’s not mine,” she said, her heart tripping over itself, her breath quickening. Dizziness washed over her. This was it. This was how it started. Criminalize the victim. All they needed was an excuse, however flimsy.

After Anthony’s death, his innocence had been smeared in every newspaper, on every news network. He became “just another black punk.” Even if the charges were dropped, the damage would be done.

“You put that there,” she said. Not that this would matter, either. If such men could commit murder with impunity, why would planting evidence even raise an eyebrow?

Suddenly Harris’ nose was two inches from hers. “You accusing me of something?” The smell of bourbon flooded her face.

Behind Harris, Officer Dalton stood frozen, a look of uncertainty on his face.

She swallowed hard and met Harris’ gaze. “I’ve been a school teacher for twenty years, and you think I smoke weed?”

Harris lurched back, then snatched her by the back of the head and slammed her face onto the coffee table.

Pain exploded in Alicia’s nose and teeth, bursting through her eyes in blinding sparks, stealing her breath. She cried out in pain.

“Stop resisting!” he roared.

His hands seized her wrists and snapped cuffs on one.

“I’m not resisting!” she gasped, tasting blood.

A fist slammed into the back of her head, driving her eye socket against the anvil of the coffee table. “Stop resisting!”

Officer Dalton was making incoherent noises.

A knee drove into the back of her neck, squeezing her throat against the table, pinching off the blood flow to her brain.

A cuff snapped around her other wrist, then a hand dragged her across the coffee table until she flopped face down on the floor.

Officer Dalton said, “What the fuck are you doing, man?”

“Our job, dickhead,” Harris said. Then he keyed the mic hooked to his shoulder and called for backup.

Alicia’s gasps for air drowned out the dispatcher’s dispassionate response.

Dalton slapped Harris hard on the shoulder. “What the fuck, man!”

“Is your body cam off?” Harris said.

“Just like you said…”

“Do you not know who this bitch is?”

“Well, yeah…”

“Then shut the fuck up. You’re either with us, or against us, you got that straight?”

Alicia raised her voice into a scream. “Help me! Help! Help me!” Her neighbors might be the only thing that could save her life. Her heart swelled with prayer. Dear Lord, please send me help–

A boot slammed into the side of her head.

***

Voices swam in and out of her awareness, more than two of them.

“Wow, you guys were quick getting here.” Dalton’s voice.

A male voice. “Yeah, it’s like we were right around the corner.” His words were slurred.

One of them smelled of cigarettes and rancid sweat.

“Hey! Guys! Fucking bitch is recording this!”

“Oh, shit.”

The sound of crunching glass and plastic.

“You guys are going down.”

“Shut the fuck up, Dalton.”

“No way I’m keeping quiet about this.”

The snap of a holster, the click of a hammer. “I said shut the fuck up, Dalton.”

“Hey, easy, Tom,” said Harris. “He might could come over to our side.”

A second new voice. “This is the question for our friend Dalton here. Whose side are you on? One of these days you’re gonna find yourself out on a call, all by yourself in this neighborhood, with these animals, and you’re gonna call for backup. And then what? Who you gonna trust? Porch monkeys or your brothers in blue?”

“Chambers is right. ’Sides, we’re just after little payback here,” Tom said. “Making sure this bitch knows her place.”

“And you think she’s not going to talk?”

“Who’s going to believe her?”

“What if she was sending that video to the internet?” Chambers said.

“You guys are fucked.”

“We go down, you go down.”

“Fuck it,” Tom said. “Should have done this months ago.”

Rough hands seized one of her arms. “Grab her.”

Agony wrenched through her shoulder. Another pair of hands snatched her other arm. Together they dragged her toward the front door, her feet trailing.

Dull pain throbbed through her face. Her mouth left a pattern of drool and blood droplets on her floor. One of her eyes had swollen shut. The worn planks of her porch drifted beneath her. Anthony’s shoes came into view. One of the shoes quivered and shifted. But that couldn’t happen. Then they were carrying her down the porch steps. Behind her, cloth chafed on rough plywood.

“What are you doing?” Dalton said.

“Put her in my car,” Tom said.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m arresting her. What do you think I’m doing?” Tom said. But something in the way he said it indicated otherwise.

They hoisted her into the back seat of a police car and slammed the door. With her hands pinned behind her, her wrists and shoulders screaming in pain, her head still swimming, she could not right herself.

Down here on the floor of the cruiser, the smell of fresh earth was strong, thick.

“Back off, Dalton. Or we won’t let this slide,” Tom said.

“Yeah, we’re doing the world a favor,” Chambers said from beside the driver’s door. “They’re fucking animals. Don’t you know there’s a war on? Them against us!”

Harris’ voice. “You’re either with us or against us.”

An incongruous sound caught her attention—the sound of splintering wood. Then a clatter. Heavy, lurching footsteps on her porch.

“Jesus Christ!” said the man by the driver’s door.

More crunching wood.

“Get down!” Harris screamed. “Get down now!”

More thumping footsteps on her porch. Another loud, wooden crunch.

Painfully, she wormed onto the seat, struggling to right herself. A cop’s back—the driver’s—blocked her much of her view.

Up on the porch, something smashed across Harris’ face, launching him into the rose bushes. He screamed.

“Get down on the ground!” Chambers shrilled, pulling his gun. A heartbeat later, he opened fire.

“Jesus Christ!”

Something slammed Chambers against the side of the cruiser so hard the rear side-window shattered. His body went limp. Something wet splattered across the sidewalk. The stench of hot blood flooded the interior of the cruiser.

As Chambers’ body sagged out of sight, sliding to earth, Alicia saw something she could not process.

Another gunshot thundered, and the bullet burst through the suit coat of the… of Anthony’s suit coat, and punched through the driver’s window.

More grave stench sprayed over her face, and she fought back a gag reflex.

She could only stare as the thing in Anthony’s funeral suit charged Harris, who was still trying to extricate himself from the rose bushes. A moldering hand seized Harris’ face and squeezed. Harris screamed into the rotting palm, raised his gun to Anthony’s face and managed one shot before the hand crumpled his face like a wet sheet of paper.

Dalton stood in the front doorway, staring, transfixed.

In the distance, her neighbors were calling down the street, investigating the gunshots, but unwilling to stick out their heads.

Tom stood on the front steps, trying to hold his aim steady as Anthony flung Harris’ body across the lawn like a ragdoll. Anthony turned those empty, glass-like eyes onto this man. From those depths, a glimmering orange fire glowed like candlelight through marbles.

Tom’s face jumped into her memory. Tom was not his last name, but his first. Tom Lucas. He was Bill Baxter’s partner. Tom Lucas had watched as Bill Baxter had gunned down Anthony in a convenience store parking lot. Tom Lucas had helped Baxter try to cover up the fact that Anthony was unarmed. Tom Lucas corroborated every aspect of Baxter’s story, even though surveillance cam video made liars of them both. Tom Lucas had sworn, under penalty of perjury, that no secret group of white supremacists had infiltrated the police force, even though circumstantial evidence emerged in social media circles during the trial suggesting otherwise. Bill Baxter had been fired from the police force, but acquitted of all charges.

This was Tom Lucas’ police cruiser. And it smelled like the grave.

Anthony stalked toward him, his gait shaky, lurching, but purposeful.

Alicia called through the shattered window, “No, baby, don’t! Don’t do it!”

Lucas’ pistol thundered again and again, but still Anthony advanced. When the pistol’s action locked open, Lucas threw the gun aside, whipped out his night stick, and charged, screaming curses and epithets.

Anthony snatched at him, but Lucas evaded the grasp, seized Anthony’s wrist, and executed an arm lock that snapped Anthony’s elbow like a dry twig. Lucas twisted, and Anthony’s arm tore free. He threw the arm aside and swung his truncheon at Anthony’s face, which was now riddled with ragged bullet holes. With his remaining hand, Anthony seized Lucas’ throat. Lucas’ scream died. The wet, crunching, popping noise would stay with Alicia the rest of her days. She retched onto the floor of the car until a trickle of bile came.

“Please, no. It wasn’t me. It’s not me,” whimpered Dalton.

She wiped her mouth and peered out. Anthony stood on the porch regarding Officer Dalton.

Dalton’s hands were raised, but he stood his ground. “Please, no. You got them. You got them all.”

Alicia’s heart thundered so hard it felt like it would burst out of her chest. “No, baby, stop now!”

Anthony’s cigarette-burn eyes seared into Dalton’s for a long moment, as if he were looking into Dalton’s soul. Then those eyes turned toward her.

Relief deflated Dalton like a balloon. He clutched his cheek and used the door frame for support.

Anthony came down across the lawn and opened the cruiser’s door for his mother.

Alicia climbed out. “You saved me, baby. But you can stop now. Please, stop.”

Anthony breathed deep, expanding his dry, empty lungs like great bellows, his eyes flaring bright. As his chest expanded, shapes appeared on the lawn, in the street, as if he had inhaled them into existence. The shapes coalesced, hazy at first but congealing into faces and torsos, legs trailing away into black. A host of them, eyes like embers.

The nearest wraith she recognized from newscasts of six months ago. He was shot by police while drunk but unarmed. His spectral dreadlocks waved around his head like the snakes of Medusa. Another familiar face from a month before that. Shot by police for defending his girlfriend. Another one, a “suicide” in jail for a trumped-up drug charge. Another, shot in the leg outside a gas station while reaching for his ID. He had bled out before the ambulance arrived. Their faces went back years, decades.

The mob of apparitions stretched away into the darkness.

She knew their names. She knew all their names.

The air itself crackled with their purpose.

On this night when the veil between life and death was thinnest, they had come forth with a hunger for justice.

All those smoldering eyes fixed upon Anthony. Anthony raised his bloody fist, a call to arms.

“No!” She seized Anthony’s coat by the lapel. “Don’t. Please. Violence is not the answer.” Dr. King had often warned of the scars violence left upon those who perpetrated it. It was a lesson she had driven into her children from an early age.

Anthony faced her. His scars would be eternal. His ruined lips smiled. He took her by the shoulders, and her blood turned to slush. Don’t worry, Momma. We got this. Then he leaned forward—the stench of putrefaction flooded her nostrils—and kissed her on the cheek.

These wraiths knew their killers, all of them. A thousand miles was nothing to a thing that could travel between worlds. They swooped off into the night.

God help them all, tonight there would be a reckoning.

Tomorrow, the video from her living room would go viral.

Anthony gave her a bittersweet smile, and shambled off toward the cemetery.

THE END

Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, editor, poker player, poet, biker, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, an Active member of SFWA and the HWA, and the author of the Tokyo Blood Magic, The Hammer Falls, The Ronin Trilogy, and other novels. His more than thirty short stories appear in Baen Books’ anthology Straight Outta Deadwood, plus Apex Magazine, Tales to Terrify, Fiction River, Cemetery Dance’s Shivers VII, and othersAs a freelance writer, he has contributed a metric ton of work to such game properties as Firefly Roleplaying Game, Legend of Five Rings, EVE Online, and BattleTech, for which he’s been nominated for a Scribe Award. Find more at http://travisheermann.com/.

A yakuza warlock butchered his family, but that was just the beginning…

When Django Wong discovers the Black Lotus Clan murdered his family, he vows to destroy them, but the Council of Five Elders forbids it.

But then the Black Lotus starts a gang war in Tokyo, wielding terrifying new magical powers. Django must team up with three witches—and a snarky alley cat who’s not really a cat at all—to find the source of the Black Lotus Clan’s power. If they can prove the Black Lotus Clan is behind the plague of soul-sucking vampires, the Council might just let him have what his honor demands.

Perfect for fans of Bleach or Fullmetal Alchemist, Tokyo Monster Mash brings you mind-bending magic, femme fatales, savage monsters, martial arts action, and powerful cultivation. 

SHORT STORY SHOWCASE

It is the favorite time of year for horror writers. To celebrate all things spooky, COS HWA writers have worked together to contribute a collection of short stories for your reading pleasure. Starting on Monday, you’ll have access to a story a day through the end of October. Mark your calendars, and sit back and ENJOY!

STAY SPOOKY!

Spooky Season Story Schedule

Monday (10/25) BONES OF CHANGE by Travis Heermann

Tuesday (10/26)  CEREMONY by Saytchyn Maddux-Creech

Wednesday (10/27) THE STAGES OF MONSTER GREIF by Carina Bissett

Thursday (10/28)  TED E. HAMSTER by Sam Knight

Friday (10/29)  SERPENT’S REST by J. A. Campbell

Saturday (10/30)  THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE by Angela Sylvaine

Sunday (10/31) DEAREST by Shannon Lawrence

Member Publication News (September 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett’s poem “Fairy Tale Prohibition” is included in NonBinary Review Issue #25: Prohibition. This piece explores cautionary themes in familiar fairy tales and the consequences that come from breaking the rules.

In other news, Carina’s poem “Radiant” has been nominated for Best of the Net. This piece is a tribute to the radium girls, female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials (1917-1926). Several of these women joined forces to file a lawsuit against the factory. Their eventual win paved the way for labor rights in America and the institution of industrial safety standards. “Radiant” is included in NonBinary Review Issue # 24: Industrial Revolution.

Sam Knight’s story “The Darkest Thoughts” was recently released in Love Letters to Poe: Vol. 1, Issue 12 (Don’t Look Behind You), with the podcast version releasing at the end of the month, and will also be included in Love Letters to Poe, Volume 1: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe, set to be released on September 20th.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Shadows, Demons, & Redheads (September 1), For the Sake of the Children (September 8), Houses From Hell with guest Patrick Hester (September 15), and Cult of Ignorance (September 22).

Join Claire L. Fishback at The Filling Station Taphouse (September 21 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm) to celebrate the release of The Gorging of Souls, Claire’s sequel to her debut The Blood of Seven, drops August 19, and Bring your copy to the event for signing, or buy them onsite!

Eight and a half months after Detective Ann Logan and seven-year-old Maggie Hart prevented Yaldabaoth from unleashing terror upon the world, all is quiet in Harmony, Colorado. But when Teresa Hart escapes from Mountain View Mental Hospital, Maggie’s perpetual nightmares intensify, and the mysterious marks that link Maggie and Ann burn to life, signaling the presence of a new evil—or the return of an old one. The ancient war between the servants of darkness and the servants of light is far from over. Once again Maggie and Ann, bound together by destiny, hold the space between the delicate balance of life as we know it and eternal horror. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Several of our members will be at MileHiCon 53 (October 1-3). Come join us!

Carina Bissett: Tales of the Fae (reading); Who Should get a Villain Origin Story Next?; Not So Happily After

Travis Heermann: How I Write; Weird Westerns (reading); The Reading Game; Blind Slush Panel; So You Want to Do a Kickstarter?; Kaffeeklatsch

Sam Knight: Flash Fiction Chopped; Stop Fridging Me!; Blind Slush Panel; Galaxy Spanning SF (reading)

Shannon Lawrence: Revisiting Childhood Favorites; SF&F & Horror Tropes We Want to Disappear, The Art of Short Story Writing; Utopian Futures (reading)

Member Publication News (July 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett is pleased to announce her return to poetry with the publication of “Radiant,” which came out in Nonbinary Review #24 Industrial Revolution. Carina’s research on the radium girls has been mostly cut from her novel-in-progress, so she’s especially pleased to share these women’s story in this issue published by Zoetic Press.

In other news, Carina’s story “A Seed Planted” was issued as a reprint in The Society of Misfit Stories published by Bards & Sages.

Dakota Brown has a new dark fantasy novella in her line-up in her Reverse Harem series. Rose Amongst the Sagebrush was originally published in the anthology Cupid in Love.

Austin, Cassidy, and John Nash are half brothers and mustang shifters working for Harris Abney as his ranch hands. With secrets to keep, and their heritage to protect, they try to keep to themselves. Despite that, they find themselves head over heels for the same woman. Will they be able to answer their hearts and keep their secrets safe?

Fleeing an unwanted and dangerous suitor, Rose Abney heads west from her comfortable city life to spend time on her uncle’s cattle ranch in the shadow of the southern Colorado mountains. What she finds is far more than she bargained for, but will love be enough to protect her when her past chases after her?

Claire L. Fishback is accepting pre-orders for The Gorging of Souls, the second novel in the Origin Codex series.  

 Eight and a half months after Detective Ann Logan and seven-year-old Maggie Hart prevented Yaldabaoth from unleashing terror upon the world, all is quiet in Harmony, Colorado. But when Teresa Hart escapes from Mountain View Mental Hospital, Maggie’s perpetual nightmares intensify, and the mysterious marks that link Maggie and Ann burn to life, signaling the presence of a new evil—or the return of an old one. The ancient war between the servants of darkness and the servants of light is far from over. Once again Maggie and Ann, bound together by destiny, hold the space between the delicate balance of life as we know it and eternal horror. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

On the filthy tattered sofa in the abandoned funeral home at the edge of Harmony, something evil has pushed its way into the world. And it is hungry.

Travis Heermann‘s story “Pagliacci’s Joke” can be read in Unmasked: Tales of Risk and Revelation, the newest anthology published by HWA member Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press.

Pull back the mask to reveal 21 tales from seasoned and award-winning authors, of magical masks, gas masks, death masks, superheroes, secret identities, disguised robots, alien symbionts, a Napoleonic thief, a swindling demon—even a hidden clown.
Who will take the risk?

Explore the masks we wear, the mysteries they conceal, and the price we pay when they’re stripped away. Join us in our unmasquerade as we revel in—revelation!

Sam Knight’s story “Whoever Writes Monsters” is one of the 23 tales included in the anthology Monsters, Movies, and Mayhem, which just won the 2021 Colorado Book Award. This anthology was published by HWA member Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press. Congratulations!

Sometimes you go to the movies. And sometimes, the movies–and their monsters–come to you. At any moment, without notice, monsters once relegated to the screen become a reality. Aliens and demons, dragons and ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and seemingly ordinary people who are just plain evil.

Join award-winning authors Jonathan Maberry, Fran Wilde, David Gerrold, Rick Wilber and others for 23 all-new tales of haunted theaters, video gods, formidable demons, alien pizza, and delirious actors. Each story takes you to the silver screen with monstrous results.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Witches & What Happened (June 2), Circling the Truth (June 9), Flies, Lies, & Sweet Scams (June 16), Alabama Slammers with guest Laura Hayden (June 23), and Shining a Light (June 30).

Angela Sylvaines story “Cyclone Sisters’ Traveling Circus” was included in Welcome to the Funhouse, an anthology of carnival horror released July 1st. This story is a reprint and originally appeared in Dark Moon Digest.

Welcome to the Funhouse is the fourth anthology from Blood Rites Horror and the first edited by Kelly Brocklehurst and Jamie Stewart. With twelve grisly stories of coming-of-age terror, carnival cruelty and fairground frights, this collection brings together the best and most exciting talents in the horror community.

Joshua Viola is pleased to announce the publication of “The Disciple of Many Faces” in Birdy, Colorado’s premiere arts, comedy, and culture magazine.

“Let there be darkness,” the disciple said. He pierced the wretch’s eyes, and it was good.

Marie Whittaker includes her take on Strong Female Leads with her story “TR.8C.” This story is part of a powerhouse line-up featured in the anthology We Dare: No Man’s Land, edited by Jamie Ibson and Chris Kennedy.

Whether it’s changing an engine on the outside of a spaceship’s hull or chasing SimNACs through the jungle, these heroines have only one goal in mind—to win at all costs! From defending asteroid bases to searching giant space stations, these women get the job done!

What makes female leads great? Does it matter—these women are incredible! Be warned though—they may be referred to as the “fairer” sex, but don’t cross these ladies, or you’re gonna get what you have coming!

Member Publication News (May 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Wild: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers edited by Rachel Delaney Craft and Natasha Watts (RMFW Press) is a finalist in the category of anthology for the Colorado Book Awards. This anthology includes stories by three members of the Colorado Springs Chapter of HWA: Carina Bissett, Rick Duffy, and Angela Sylvaine.

Read more about these authors’ creative process in the blog post Writing for a Themed Anthology. An excerpt of Rick Duffy‘s story “Castles in the Sky” can also be read at The Colorado Sun in the feature article “’Wild: Uncivilized Tales’ collected stories from more than a dozen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.”

Travis Heermann’s story “The Avenger” was published in StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

A suburban man lives through endless millennia through his strange dream-connection to an eons-old horse deity, only to discover the deity is not what he thought it was. — “The Avenger” by Travis Heermann

Heermann is also on the lineup of authors reading at StokerCon 2021, and he is currently running a fundraiser for his debut film Demon for Hire. For more details, check out the blog post From Author to Screenwriter to Filmmaker.

Angie Hodapp’s story “Collateral Damage” was published at Birdy Magazine online in conjunction with the magazine’s interview with John Palisano and Joshua Viola about StokerCon 2021. “Collateral Damage” is also included StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

When drug dealer Marcy lands a real job—thanks to her probation officer—at a kiosk inside Denver International Airport, she discovers one particular souvenir has the power to kill. — “Collateral Damage” by Angie Hodapp

Hodapp will be accepting pitches by appointment at StokerCon 2021 for the Nelson Literary Agency.

Sam Knight’s story “World by the Horn” can be found in anthology Particular Passages. When a woman’s long life comes to an end, she finds herself reunited with a make-believe friend from her childhood who has never forgotten his promise to her. This anthology also features Marie Whittaker’s creative nonfiction essay “Folly,” a stream-of-consciousness reflection from the point-of-view of a child.

Knight is also on the reading line-up at StokerCon 2020, and his story “The Curse of the Dreamcatcher” is included in StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

Standing watch over Denver International Airport, the giant Blue Mustang locally known as Blucifer acts as a dreamcatcher, helping people forget their troubles as they journey out into the world. But what happens to those captured dreams, those nightmare troubles? What if they were whispered back…into your ear? — “The Curse of the Dreamcatcher” by Sam Knight

Shannon Lawrence is pleased to announce the inclusion of her short story “Watched” in I Is for Internet (A to Z of Horror Book 9). I is for Internet, the ninth book in an epic series of twenty-six horror anthologies. In this book you will find a collection of thirteen unsettling tales from some of the most imaginative independent horror writers on the scene today. Each story takes a new look at the potential horrors of the online world, from stalkers to cyber-demons, artificial intelligence to predators. I is for Internet will plug you straight into the mainframe and have you desperate to pull the plug.

Over at the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem, Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series: Death Finds us All  (Apr. 7), Murder & Maple Syrup (Apr. 14), Banana Sandwich: Chicken Coops & Vampires (Apr. 21), and Of Towers & Typhoid (Apr. 28).

We are also pleased to feature new releases and information for HWA’s Denver Chapter!

Maria Abrams is thrilled to announce the release of her first novella She Who Rules the Dead. Henry has received a message: he needs to sacrifice five people to the demon that’s been talking to him in his nightmares. He already has four, and number five, Claire, is currently bound in the back of his van. Too bad Claire isn’t exactly human.

Jeamus Wilkes discusses his work with The Horror Writers Association as Co-Chairperson/Denver, his writing, and the upcoming StokerCon in Denver (via ZOOM this year) at the podcast Burial Plot, Episode 1.

Member Publication News (April 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett‘s story “Serpents and Toads” is included in Gluttony: An inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires (Seven Deadly Sins Book 6), which was published by Black Hare Press.

This retelling of the fairy tale “Diamonds and Toads” was originally published at Enchanted Conversations.

“Sign here.” Painted a lurid scarlet, the dark-haired woman’s lips spread into a thick smile. She tapped a red fingernail on the paper she pushed in front of me.

“That’s it?” Now that the promise sat in front of me, I was hesitant to take the next step. What if this was like all of the other false miracles I’d tried? But then again, what if it actually worked? What if I could be as thin as the women I envied? “That’s all I have to do? Just sign this paper?”

M. H. Boroson recently completed the screenplay for his award-winning novel The Girl with the Ghost Eyes.

“A fun, fun read. Martial arts and Asian magic set in Old San Francisco make for a fresh take on urban fantasy, a wonderful story that kept me up late to finish.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs

“An impressive first novel set in a beautifully realized world of Daoism and martial arts… One of those books you can’t wait to get back to.” —Lian Hearn, author of the international bestselling Tales of the Otori series

“A brilliant tale of magic, monsters, and kung fu in the San Francisco Chinatown of 1898… This fantastic tale smoothly mixes Hong Kong cinema with urban fantasy, and Li-lin is a splendid protagonist whose cleverness and bravura will leave readers eager for her future adventures.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Travis Heermann is pleased to announce the arrival of Tokyo Monster Mash, his newest novel. A yakuza warlock butchered his family, but that was just the beginning…

When Django Wong discovers the Black Lotus Clan murdered his family, he vows to destroy them, but the Council of Five Elders forbids it.

But then the Black Lotus starts a gang war in Tokyo, wielding terrifying new magical powers. Django must team up with three witches—and a snarky alley cat who’s not really a cat at all—to find the source of the Black Lotus Clan’s power. If they can prove the Black Lotus Clan is behind the plague of soul sucking vampires, the Council might just let him have what his honor demands.

Perfect for fans of Bleach or Fullmetal Alchemist, Tokyo Monster Mash brings you mind-bending magic, femme fatales, savage monsters, martial arts action, and powerful cultivation.

Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem: Murder & Mispronunciations Galore (Mar. 3), A Little Morphine & A Little Monster (Mar. 10), Harbingers & Hags (Mar. 17), Missing & Murdered Moms (Mar. 24), and Flying Under the Radar (Mar. 31).

Angela Sylvaine is excited to announce the release of her debut novella, CHOPPING SPREE, #27 in the Rewind or Die series from Unnerving Books.

Eden Hills, Minnesota is famous for one thing—its ’80s inspired Fashion Mall. When high school junior, Penny, lands a job at one of its trendy stores, she notices her teen coworkers all wear a strange symbol they won’t explain. Suspicious but wanting to belong, she agrees to stay after closing for a party in the closed store. Her fun turns to terror when Penny discovers a mortally wounded boy and learns there is a killer loose in the mall. Soon the teens are running for their lives. Will Penny discover the truth behind the mall cabal and survive to slay another day, or will she fall victim to the galleria of gore?

Member Publication News (March 2021)

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Carina Bissett‘s story “The Certainty of Silence” is included in Twisted Anatomy: A Body Horror Anthology.

“The locksmith has examined every piece he’s removed from my form, so I’m not surprised when he opens my blighted voice box with surgical precision. The first notes creep out to tempt my bridegroom. The net is cast. I smile.”

This piece is a Bluebeard/Little Mermaid mash-up written as a protest against domestic violence. Proceeds from this anthology benefit the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Dakota Brown is pleased to announce the release of The Price of Possession: A Reverse Harem Tale (Pizza Shop Exorcist Book 1).

“Darius was the only guy I couldn’t say no to, the one who dragged me into the world of the occult in the first place. When he shows up and begs me to assist with an exorcism, I reluctantly agree. Before I know it, I’ve got an incubus in the living room, a hellhound marking around my yard, and a demon prince who can’t decide if he wants to kill me or… you know. Normally I wouldn’t work with the supernatural, but we all have a common goal. Prevent the crime syndicate from summoning a demon prince and becoming more powerful than we can hope to handle. If I can keep my cool, it will be a miracle. If I can hold on to my soul it’ll be an even bigger one.”

This book is intended for mature audiences.

J. A. Campbell is a contributor to Crash Philosophy: Third Collision.

From Nerdy Things Publishing, Crash Philosophy collides unusual characters and settings to bring you one-of-a-kind reading experience. If you want to gain the entire set of choices, be sure to grab the First Collision and Second Collision, too!

The third installment in the Crash Philosophy series brings you 32 new stories from 17 authors. You never know what style of storytelling you’ll get, what genre you’ll enter, or what adventure you’ll take on when you choose from the new entries. The world is in your hands, what combinations will you choose?

Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow added new episodes to the series podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem: The Fights for Civil Rights (Feb. 3), Of Love & Lunacy (Feb. 10), Freaky Florida: Apparitions & Alcoholics (Feb. 17), and Mama Bears Gone Terribly Wrong (Feb. 24).

Several of our members are featured in StokerCon 2021 Souvenir Anthology: The Phantom Denver Edition.

A dying star is a beautiful and petulant thing, lashing out at the great, unfeeling chill of the Universe. Behold, the Devourer of Stars. — “The Devourer” by Josh Viola

A suburban man lives through endless millennia through his strange dream-connection to an eons-old horse deity, only to discover the deity is not what he thought it was. — “The Avenger” by Travis Heermann

When drug dealer Marcy lands a real job—thanks to her probation officer—at a kiosk inside Denver International Airport, she discovers one particular souvenir has the power to kill. — “Collateral Damage” by Angie Hodapp

Standing watch over Denver International Airport, the giant Blue Mustang locally known as Blucifer acts as a dreamcatcher, helping people forget their troubles as they journey out into the world. But what happens to those captured dreams, those nightmare troubles? What if they were whispered back…into your ear? — “The Curse of the Dreamcatcher” by Sam Knight

Other HWA COS content contributors include Carina Bissett, who interviewed past HWA president Lisa Morton, Hillary Dodge, who wrote about the history of the Colorado chapters including the formation of the Colorado Springs Chapter (HWA COS), and Dean Wyant interviewed Joe R. Lansdale and also composed an essay on the history of Hex Publishers.

Member Publication News

Welcome to the HWA COS chapter’s monthly round-up of member news. We invite you to scroll through our publication announcements and see what our members are up to this month: new releases, book signings, readings, conventions, and more!

Marie Whittaker is pleased to announce that her story “The Legend of Lightning Lizzie” is featured in Weird Tales No. 364

Evil space plants, lecherous dragons and the mysteries of the vampire haunt the pages of WT #364. This issue features stories by Seanan McGuire, Gregory Frost, Joe R. Lansdale, Marie Whittaker, Dacre Stoker and Leverett Butts, Marguerite Reed, Rena Mason, Tim Waggoner, Gabrielle Faust, Weston Ochse, and Lee Murray as well as poetry by Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti.

Angela Sylvaine’s short story “Mr. Chew” was recently released on TheDreadMachine.com and The Dread Machine Podcast, Episode 5.  

Travis Heermann is pleased to announce that his story “Daubs of Color” opens the anthology Hauntings (The Haunted Anthology Book 1), edited by Jamie Ferguson.

Imagine waking every day in an old house, unable to leave the grounds because every time you do you get lost in the gray mist. What if the haunted section in the library was actually haunted? Seeing a ghost in a haunted house would be one thing…but what if it followed you home?

Step into the haunted worlds of the fifteen ghostly tales in Hauntings…if you dare!

Travis is also looking forward to the launch of his new novel Tokyo Blood Magic (Shinjuku Shadows Book 1, which is scheduled for release on December 8, 2020. 

When Django Wong, a modern-day ninja turned sorcerer, takes a job to track down a newly Awakened witch, he discovers that his target is not only his lost love, but now she’s an enforcer for the Black Lotus Clan, a ruthless yakuza syndicate.

But time can change a person. Is she the girl who used to love him, a yakuza slave, or a deadly black witch?

Josh Viola is thrilled to announce that his story “The Recall” was published in the anthology One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington, which was edited by Kenneth W. Cain and includes a powerhouse line-up of authors including Stephen King.

One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington is filled with stories of writers whose lives Frank touched in one way or another. He challenged them, cheered them on and he made sure to read the big names and small names alike.

Josh also worked with Aaron Lovett on the exclusive *variant* cover for Cover Alpha Comics edition of MISKATONIC #1, published by Aftershock Comix.

Miskatonic #1 by Aaron and Josh is available in three treatments:

  • Cover A:  Standard Trade Dress. Limited to 250 copies.
  • Cover B:  Virgin Edition. Limited to 125 copies.
  • Cover M: Metal cover. Limited to 15 copies.

In other news, Josh published “The Holy Appendix” under the pen name Jay Vee at Birdy Magazine. This piece stands as an anecdotal testament to the influence evangelicalism has had on Josh’s horror fiction.

Shannon Lawrence and her co-host M.B. Partlow launched a new podcast in November! Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem is about true crime, the paranormal, cryptids, and other freaky things. A new podcast is released each Wednesday.

In November, Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem released three episodes: Cold Blooded Colorado Springs, Colorado Creatures and Hell Haunts, and Killers on Home Turf. Scheduled podcasts for December include The Devil Tramps and the Cryptids Creep, Coastal Killers & Haunts, and Do the Kansas Gates of Hell Lead to Gorbals Necropolis?

Carina Bissett is excited to announce the release of the HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol. VII. This year, she was one of the judges along with Gwendolyn Kiste and editor Stephanie M. Wytovich.

The Horror Writers Association presents their seventh annual Poetry Showcase, featuring the best in never-before-published dark verse. Edited by Stephanie M. Wytovich, this year’s featured poets are K. P. Kulski, Sarah Read, and Sara Tantlinger, plus dozens of poems from the talented members of the Horror Writers Association.

J. A. Campbell has a reprint of her story “The Toy Maker” in the holiday-themed anthology A Christmas Cornucopia, edited by Anna Rashbrook.

Every winter Nicholas journeys to the city to sell his clever mechanical toys. This year is no different, except a snowstorm delays his return to his ailing wife. When he is finally able to travel, he meets people who guide him toward a new, and promising calling. —“The Toy Maker”

Travis Heermann to Release New Urban Fantasy Series

COS HWA Active member Travis Heermann is all set to release the first of a new urban fantasy/cultivation series called Shinjuku Shadows.

Tokyo Blood Magic – Book 1 of the Shinjuku Shadows Trilogy

He’s never failed a witch hunt before. Until he must hunt the only woman he’s ever loved...

When Django Wong, a modern-day ninja turned sorcerer, takes a job to track down a newly Awakened witch, he discovers that his target is not only his lost love, but now she’s an enforcer for the Black Lotus Clan, a ruthless yakuza syndicate.

But time can change a person. Is she the girl who used to love him, a yakuza slave, or a deadly black witch?

With a smart-mouthed magical house cat as his ally, Django must protect her from other Hunter-Seekers sent to kill her until he can learn the truth of her allegiance. And not only that, if he can’t stop her from stealing a powerful magical relic, the Black Lotus Clan will launch a bloodbath in Shinjuku’s streets.

Perfect for fans of Bleach or Fullmetal AlchemistTokyo Blood Magic brings you ninja sorcerers, femme fatales, savage monsters, martial arts action, and powerful cultivation. Pick it up now and start the adventure! 

What: Ebook and Trade Paperback

Who: Shadow Alley Press

When: December 8, 2020

Pre-order now!

But don’t talk to him. He’s busy finishing Book 2, Tokyo Monster Mash.