Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Blog Hop: MUSIC REVIEW of Midnight Syndicate's A Ghostly Gathering


I know many out there feel a sense of melancholy as Halloween draws to a close. But fear thee not. The Christmas holiday and winter solstice has a long history of being a time when friends and family would gather to celebrate good tidings, cheer, and yes, ghostly tales. Therefore I feel that bringing you this review of Midnight Syndicate's latest effort at this particular time rather appropriate.

Team Syndicate (Ed Douglas and Gavin Goszka) has been churning out creepy musical feasts for the ears and imagination since the 1990s, each recording offering a new theme and journey for the listener. And they continue to not disappoint.
With  A Ghostly Gathering, Midnight Syndicate crafts symphonic landscapes (and never fear...these landscapes are not the kind that put you to sleep...just the opposite, actually), giving traditional Christmas carols (and some new ones written by Douglas and Goszka) their own twist. Hearing some of the tracks (for example, their version of "Greensleeves") does offer the listener a glimpse of the olden days of Christmas, when telling ghostly stories by a roaring fire after a marvelous dinner with all the trimmings. Then there is the rather menacing version of "Up on the Housetop." This definitely isn't the "Up On the Housetop" you likely grew up singing in gradeschool. In fact, "good old Santa Clause" may not be so good. Or it sounds more like Krampus being up on your rooftop. Either way, you absolutely DO NOT want this individual coming down your chimney! And yes, there is a song involving Krampus, written by Douglas himself, titled "Night of Krampus." There is also a song called "Little Helpers", another song that hints at menace and mischief on the part of the Christmas elves.

The soundtrack of A Ghostly Gathering as a whole ranges from dark and sinister to absolutely beautiful and symphonic while painting a picture of a vast wintry landscape with the moon high above and a medieval castle in the distance. As I said earlier, I was far from disappointed with this latest effort and I highly recommend picking up A Ghostly Gathering this holiday season.

Of course, you can pick it up on Amazon, but I always encourage purchasing directly from the artist.
Midnight Syndicate Official Website

Midnight Syndicate Official Store 

Jump and hop from blog to blog with some awesome authors…with this Halloween Blog Hop.

*Enter for a chance to win a free signed paperback copy of my book Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) until November 5!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


For first access to giveaways and other content not seen by the rest of the world, sign up for the free Messages from the Labyrinth Newsletter!

Paperback copies of Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) and Sacred Atonement:Novelette (The Birthrite Series, # 1.5) available together for the low price of $21.00 at my Official Website

My music projects are available at CDBaby
My filmwork is on IMDb

"The Birthrite Series" and other books at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
 My books and music are also on Amazon and iTunes
Tiffany on Goodreads
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Blog Hop: Exploring the History of Witchcraft in Salem and Elsewhere or "Burn the Witch?"

Greetings and welcome to Day 3 of the Halloween Blog Hop.

And Happy Halloween!

When I was invited to participate in this blog hop, I wanted to bring to the table a subject that often seems misunderstood by the modern mind. Playing the role of real life "witch" Mary Bliss Parsons for the Depreciation Lands Museum's Cemetery Lantern Tours piqued my interest in this piece of history even more. When we think of witch trials, barbaric mobs of simpletons with their pitchforks, shovels, and torches screaming "burn the witch" as they drag the accused woman from her home is often what comes to mind.
While I'm not saying that there may not be a little truth in that, when you really start looking into things, it becomes obvious that the trials and accusations run far deeper. You also start to recognize what was likely over-dramatized for Hollywood.
For instance, it is often assumed that once someone was accused of witchcraft, they were automatically screwed. This was not always the case. In fact, Mary Bliss Parsons, whom I portrayed, was accused twice and acquitted both times. She and her husband were also able to file a slander suit against her accusers and ended up winning that suit.
It is also often assumed that only women were accused. Not true. Several men were also accused, convicted, and executed for witchcraft.
People also often assume that accused witches were only burned. To that, I say yes and no. In Europe, burning was among the most chosen forms of execution. In early America though, hanging seemed to be more common, according to recent findings I've made.
It is also said that the trials created "mass hysteria" due to the preachings of the clergyman putting fear into the minds of their 17th century parishoners. However, according to Chadwick Hansens's book Witchcraft at Salem, witchcraft was widely practiced throughout Europe and the Americas. Hansen reports that knowledge of witchcraft was as common among 17th century Puritans as it was among Anglicans, Lutherans, Quakers, and Catholics. The "mass hysteria" could also more accurately be described as public excitement. And according to Hansen, this was more due to the already popular fear of witches and witchcraft than it was the preachings of the clergy putting fear in their minds. In fact, Hansen suggests that the clergy was - in fact - chief opponents of the events at Salem, from beginning to end. This includes Cotton Mather. Many may know Mather as the wide-eyed bloodthirsty fanatic of tradition and the driving force behind the events taking place in Salem. But Witchcraft at Salem indicates that he went above and beyond to protect those who were innocent.

The writings of Chadwick Hansen might also shed some light on the story behind Moll Derry, also known as the Monongahela Witch or The Witch of the Revolution. As I state in my article for The Parting of Veils Webzine, Moll Derry was also a historical figure portrayed in the Cemetery Lantern Tours at the museum. Thomas White talks of her in his book Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore. 
Derry was born in Germany during the year 1760. During the Revolutionary War, she moved to America with her husband, who was a Hessian soldier.
After the war ended, they moved to Fayette County in the 1790s. It is said that Derry lived in Georges Township until her death from old age in 1843 (which would have made her 83 at the time of her death).

Throughout her lifetime, Derry was said to have told fortunes, removed hexes, and cured ailments. There is even a story of how she tried to help a young woman by warning that young woman of what seemed to be an abusive fiance. Unfortunately, the young woman did not listen and she was later found dead. Derry was also said to have a vengeful side to her, and pity the fools that dared cross her. There are many stories of curses and affliction place upon those that angered Derry, from farmers having their livestock mysteriously perish to men that tormented her having their lives cut short by hanging.
Either way, her reputation as "the most well-known witch of the western side of the [Pennsylvania] state" made her a legend long before her earthly life ended.
In my article, I share my own wonder at how in a time and place when such practices were said to have been severely frowned upon, how did Derry - a supposed well-known witch - manage to slip through the cracks without any legal trouble? At least none that has been found recorded. Perhaps people did fear 'crossing her,' but it is also possible that perhaps witchcraft, as Hansen suggests, was a more common practice than many tend to believe. But at the same time, not everyone was as fortunate as Derry. So why them and not her?

I am going to continue researching this further and will bring you all more info as I go.

For the second part of this article, I will go back in time even further. Since I have learned to spin yarn and thread on a drop spindle and am currently learning how to spin on a spinning wheel, I found this article at the American Folkloric Witchcraft blog particularly interesting. The article gets into the Masculine and Feminine mysteries of the craft and the stang and distaff.
When the article gets to the feminine mysteries, the author goes into the following:

"The third branch of witchcraft, and the third use of the stang, is as a traditional woman's tool -- that of the distaff. The older versions of a spinner's distaff was either a two or three pronged "stang" ("stick"). The distaff and spindle were once the main daily working tools of all women...The distaff is a traditional handspinner's tool used for holding raw fibers as they are spun into thread on a spindle.
Sarah Lawless, in her excellent post about magical sticks, suggests from her studies that the distaff/stang wrapped in flax for spinning was mistaken for a broom in folklore and art. Quite possibly. The stang is certainly a tool for travel."

So as I said earlier, I will continue researching all of this and present more information as I go. And as I research history and the events surrounding it, the more I come to recognize how true the following statement is. That history truly is a giant, mysterious labyrinth with many different and unexpected twists and turns.

PS- Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Descent, the first book in my series The Birthrite. The rafflecopter widget is a little further down. :)

Article Sources:

-Mary Bliss Parsons:
-Witchcraft at Salem by Chadwick Hansen 
-Sample of Witches of Pennsylvania by Thomas White: 
-American Folkloric Witchcraft: Stang and Distaff
- Salem Withch Trials:
- Parting of Veils Webzine: Haunted Monongahela

Jump and hop from blog to blog with some awesome authors…with this Halloween Blog Hop.

*Enter for a chance to win a free signed paperback copy of my book Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) until November 5!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Blog Hop: Interview with Amanda M. Lyons

For Day 2 of the Halloween Blog Hop, I am interviewing author, Amanda M. Lyons. In a world where paranormal romance has been saturated with brooding vampires with six packs, Ms. Lyons is carving her own niche, harkening back to the gothic vampire novels of the 1990s. So read on and also stop by her blog today where she also features an interview with yours truly. :)

And don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of DESCENT, the first novel in my series, The Birthrite at the end of this interview (the giveaway is running until November 5).

So without further ado, here is Amanda M. Lyons.

TA: So first, welcome to my blog! For those that may just be stumbling upon your work, introduce and tell a little about yourself.

AL: Thanks for having me, Tiffany! I'm Amanda M. Lyons and I'm an author and editor with J. Ellington Ashton Press, a mom to two kiddos, and a partner to another author, Todd Misura. Most of what I write is horror, right now I have a gothic vampire series out called Shades of Midnight. Book 1 is called Eyes Like Blue Fire, Book two is called Water Like Crimson Sorrow and the third book, which will be coming out soon, is called Cool Green Waters. If you’re wondering what they’re like think something like Anne Rice with just a bit of difference and more horror. I’ve had it compared to a gothic fairy tale for grownups actually. I also have several short stories out in anthologies at JEA, a collaborative vampire horror novel called Feral Hearts with Ed Cardillo, catt dahman, Michael Fisher, Jim Goforth, and Mark Woods as well as a novelette called Wendy Won’t Go which is a ghost story with a twist.


TA: Now among your many written works, the one you are currently working on is the third novel in the gothic vampire series, The Shades of Midnight. What inspired this particular story and the main character Katja?

AL: Katja is the main character of the entire series, a female vampire who’s struggled with her sense of place and importance even in her immortal life. During the course of the series she’s finding that she’s much stronger and more powerful than she imagined and that Anton, the vampire who changed her, is far more complex than he seemed even in the time she knew him. This involves evil vampires, necromancers, ghouls, half vampires, werewolves, ghosts, bloodshed and madness.
All of the books ask some big questions about identity, fears, perception and the way we respond to trauma, all of them rose out of some events in my own life and my need to find reason in the chaos. 

TA: In an industry that is saturated with paranormal stories featuring vampires, what can you say sets Shades of Midnight apart from the others? In other words, how would you describe it to someone fearing that it might be another Twilight knockoff?

AL: There’s nothing at all Twilight about these vampires, there are some more human aspects to their character, but they’re killers, things which must thrive on the life of others and they all deal with that in their own way. For Katja it’s about granting mercy and survival, for Marie it’s about reveling in the horror and brutality, for Mateo it’s about punishing the world for its duplicity and the marks it has left on him, for Trudeau it means being something more than man, and for Delamorte it’s about seizing power over his fate. This is gothic horror, yes there are emotional bits, but no, there are no sparkling Edwards and moping Bellas. Instead expect ghouls shambling around to the horror of others, corpses raised from the dead to gain revenge on the living, ghosts haunting with their bloody tableau, and tales of nighttime encounters with vampires both subtle and vicious, also sex.
I think it actually suits its own mini subgenre, gothic vampire fairy tale for adults, because it doesn’t fit into any established mold, it’s not 30 Days of Night, nor Interview with the Vampire or any of a thousand PNR vampire novels you can think up. It lies between all of those things and has its own story. If you can’t handle a bit of a romantic plot don’t bother, but by the same token don’t expect brooding vampires with six packs either. Shades of Midnight is about Katja’s exploration of self and the darkness she finds along with her strength, but it’s not going to suit people who can’t handle the gothic vampires of the 90s, those books were equally monstrous and emotive, historical and modern all at once. They never set out to drown in you in blood or sex but gave you judicious helpings of many things instead, focusing on story and character driven plot. That’s what I set out to do and then add a bit of my own tone and style to it. 

TA: Are any of the characters in the series based off of anyone you know in real life?

AL: Actually a lot of the characters run from aspects of me at various points in my life, though chunks of people did end up in some of them. Raven has a bit of my fiancé Todd in him for instance.  

TA: Going into the third book, what can fans expect?

AL: Cool Green Waters takes place after some pretty big events in the first two books. A major enemy was defeated, but it left Katja and Raven with a great deal to sort out. Raven has a chunk of the vampire who created Katja, Anton, blended with his own soul and since that piece has come forward he’s been struggling with his identity, which complicates their relationship a great deal. On top of this, Kaja is still trying to track down all of the things Anton left behind when he died. After tackling Marie Gaston she’s not about to leave things up to chance, so she sends out her companions Zero and Michael to find the only other vampire apprentice Katja knows still lives, Mateo. Is he good or is he evil? Is there maybe more there than it seems at first glance? Mateo owns a BDSM club, not the sort we see in the real world, but a place that really does thrive on intensity and sometimes brutal acts, but how much of this is him? Who is the mysterious redheaded woman who lures Michael and Zero inside? And who is this stranger haunting Katja’s dreams? Is he a new danger?

TA: Was there a specific author or book that inspired you growing up?

AL: A lot of them actually, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. I used to eat up all kinds of those spooky story books and the ones about the paranormal when I was younger. I was first introduced to the authors via movies and stories I’d read at the time. I had started Stephen King’s books by the time I was 12.

TA: And since it's the Halloween season, what scares you?

AL: Death, the idea of not getting to do all of the things in life that you intend to do before your time is through as well as the seemingly random and instantaneous nature of it as a whole.

TA: If you could choose any character from any of your written works to materialize and come to life in our world, who would it be?

AL: Hmm, I write horror, that might not be the best thing for me, especially considering some of the characters are less than positive. I don’t think I would actually. 

TA: Finally, what's next for you and where can potential new readers find you?
AL: I have another book in Shades of Midnight in progress called Hollow Black Corners of the Soul which finishes out some of the elements in Cool Green Waters and that might take another year or two to complete. I’m also hoping to get Other Dangers, my apocalyptic horror novel, out in the next year or so, that will be another series which might appeal more to those who enjoy horror with fantasy and horror elements in them. I also have several anthologies that will be coming out in the coming months from J. Ellington Ashton Press. In addition to Amazon and Goodreads you can find out about me through my website at where you can also find links to some of my other social media sites.


Jump and hop from blog to blog with some awesome authors…with this Halloween Blog Hop.

*Enter for a chance to win a free signed paperback copy of my book Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) until November 5!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Blog Hop: DESCENT Blurb, Excerpt and Giveaway

Greetings mortals,

I am happy to be part of this Halloween Blog Hop along with some really amazing authors. This blog hop runs from today and into November 1 and I know everyone has great things in store.

Today, I am presenting an excerpt from the first book in my Gothic/Paranormal/Dark Fantasy series, The Birthrite. So read on and enjoy.

And don't forget to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of the book at the bottom, and check out the blogs of the other authors! :)


Story Synopsis:

Visions of infant twin boys, clouds, a young woman taking her own life, and a collision of space, time, and realms...
On the eve of Summer Solstice in 1844, four men in different areas of the world share an experience that impacts not only their own lives, but those of the future generations. The first is Nicolae Ganoush, a young Romany fugitive from a slave village in Wallachia. The second is Jonathan Blake, an eighteen-year-old Irishman in the American Midwest who finds himself falling in love with a young woman from a nearby Sioux village. The third is James Livingston, a prominent figure in Colonial America. The fourth is Hector de Fuentes, a sixteen-year-old from Tuxpan, Mexico with special gifts and visions enhanced by a mysterious and wondrous cave. Each man carries his own inner battle, unbelievable ancient truths deep within their lineages, and demons that are much closer to home than any of them would like.

Later in 1931, seventeen-year-old Dorothy Blake, a descendant of Jonathan and his Sioux wife, is living in Plains, New York, the town founded by James Livingston. The notorious Fleming Orphanage has long fallen into disuse but kept by the town as a landmark. The buildings loom high on a hill, overlooking the town, taunting the townsfolk with its lore. On Halloween night, Dorothy ventures up with friends, and the group of six expects nothing more than a good time along with a few laughs. But they fall into a dark, brutal evil; one that extends beyond the orphanage and town of Plains, far back into history. Their descent is only the beginning…
The Birthrite Series is an epic journey into the vast unknown, plunging deep into the dark crevices of the mind, begging the question of what sanity really is and if the insane truly are. Are we really shown the whole truth of what surrounds us or is it an illusion? It also tells of deep-rooted love, planted centuries ago and a story of family, forgiveness, and redemption.

****An Excerpt from DESCENT (THE BIRTHRITE SERIES, #1)****
Nicolae struggled once more at bringing an arm to wake Sebastian as the dark figure closed in. It hovered above the boys with its long, dark cloak billowing about. The young man could feel the visitor's eyes pierce into him, attempting to uncover his every secret from beneath the dark hood masking its identity.
The fog thickened, forming a white curtain around Nicolae's surroundings. He continued his fight to wake his brother while trying to bring the other hand to his dagger, but nausea shot out from his core and spread throughout his body like a plague. The fog circulated, forming a giant whirlpool. A violent throbbing assaulted Nicolae's temples until his vision darkened. Terrified as he was, the black haze was almost a great relief.
He let out a loud groan and rolled onto his side, bringing a hand to the source of the pain. Then his eyes shot open at the realization of being able to move.
A relieved sigh escaped him as he saw the woods restored to their original darkness. Only a dream...
With his eyes still lowered, he slowly pulled himself to a seated position and pressed his palms to his forehead, trying to coax away the remaining pain. As it slowly evaporated, Nicolae noticed the reddish tint reflecting off the dark skin on his forearms. He frowned, wondering what would cause such a thing.
He lifted his gaze to gauge the source and jumped back upon seeing what hovered over him. In a pitch black starless sky, a giant, blood red moon brushed the tips of the grotesquely twisted, gnarled trees surrounding him. Despite their tangled and uneven appearance, the bare branches appeared unbreakable on the trees of the thickest, black bark. Like many pairs of contorted arms, they seemed to reach toward him.
As Nicolae's eyes adjusted, he turned to where his little brother lay asleep, only to find the space empty.
He looked to the other side of him and found that his bag was also missing. Frantically, he surveyed the area and rose to standing. He cleared his throat, testing his voice before calling out to his brother.
Nicolae listened, awaiting a reply, but the shallow echo of his voice through the trees was the only response. He took a step forward, hearing the crunch of the barren, rocky soil beneath his boots as he called out again, but the forest remained still.
He tried searching for any indication to his whereabouts.
'Sebastian could be anywhere…' The voice was far away, though clear as a bell.
Oh God, Sebastian, where are you?
“SEBASTIAN!” he screamed, no longer caring if he drew attention to himself.
The trees seemed alive, breathing as they loomed over the young man. In his righthand periphery, he caught movement among a cluster of brush.
Nicolae turned in the direction, narrowing his eyes. “Sebastian?” He took a tentative step forward.
There was no answer, but the shadow moved toward him.
Nicolae maintained his stance, placing a hand on his dagger sheath. The emerging silhouette was too large to be an eleven-year-old boy.
“Who’s there?” Nicolae’s adrenaline rushed (the way it had the night they took Eloisa) as the other presence continued into the clearing.
His eyes widened as he found himself facing the cloaked visitor from moments earlier. The black cape hung just below the shin of high, black leather boots that pulled up over dark pants that were of a heavy wool material. As swordsmen challenging the opponent to a duel, the two individuals fixated on one another.
Nicolae considered the possibility of this visitor being a representative of the Alexandrus. Perhaps a hired assassin. With that in mind, he tightened his grip on the handle of his dagger.
“If you have done anything to hurt my brother, do not think I would hesitate to slice your throat.” I have done that and much more already...
If a fight to the death would ensue, Nicolae was prepared and willing. But to his surprise, the figure turned and started walking toward the black tangled woods.
Nicolae lowered his dagger, but never took his eyes from his opponent. The figure turned back, and with a leather-gloved hand, beckoned to the young man. 
“What do you want?" Nicolae asked. "Where is my brother? If you know, please tell me.”
The figure didn't answer, and instead motioned again for the young man to follow.
With his hand still on the dagger, Nicolae hesitated and took a quick glimpse from the figure to the neverending brush behind him. As he faced his visitor once again, it was apparent this cloaked individual was not going anywhere until Nicolae obliged. Drawing in a jagged breath, the young man slowly walked toward the dark shape. Sure enough, it turned its back and started into the forest.
Nicolae kept his eyes forward, maintaining a safe distance between himself and his new companion. As the two ventured deeper, the woods thickened and the red moon offered little light. Their footsteps were accentuated by eerie silence.
He was careful to not lose sight of the black cloak, and kept all senses aware. The lack of forest life unsettled him greatly; not so much as a light breeze to move a single twig was present. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally arrived at the edge.
Nicolae caught up to where the cloaked individual stood and saw a rocky shoreline looking out to an ocean. The giant moon spread across the horizon, casting its red beams onto the waters. The site was mesmerizing to behold, and Nicolae fought the trance slipping into him as the tides splashed at his feet.
He turned his head, hoping for a better look at the cloaked individual. The physical build of a man was evident and the warm, heavy breeze from the ocean lifted the hood back just enough to reveal a thin slate of a mouth and a pronounced, pale jawline.
The man turned to meet Nicolae’s stare from beneath the shadow and gestured a black gloved hand toward the ocean.
Nicolae returned his gaze to the water and saw a boat approaching. The vessel was built to resemble a Viking ship, curling up at both ends and appeared fashioned from the thick, black wood of the forest trees. As it drew closer, he was able to make out a dragon head carved into the front bow. The boat was empty, moving on its own as if it knew where it needed to be.
Nicolae jumped back, shielding his ears with his hands as the vessel released what sounded like an unearthly high pitched roar as it scraped onto the beach and came to a stop in front of them. When all was still, the hooded man signaled for Nicolae to follow him on. The two sat across from one another with Nicolae facing out to sea. As the vessel left shore, it let out a massive creak that almost resembled an agonizing groan one might utter upon being sentenced to eternal damnation.
Perhaps I’ve died, Nicolae thought absently as the boat started to drift. I have died and I am being taken to Hell… Suddenly, he jolted to attention, his heart thudding rapidly at the realization. Visions of Sebastian waking up beside his corpse assaulted him. What would his little brother do all alone?
Unable to hide his anxiety, Nicolae stared ahead at the giant moon as the boat glided over the vast waters. Anger toward the hooded man's calm, dignified demeanor churned and the urge to grab and strangle him with that cloak before throwing him overboard increased. His attention was thwarted when an island appeared in the distance.
Like the one they were at before, a thick forest of tall trees grew near the shoreline with the giant red moon hovering just beyond them. As the boat drew closer, a rather foul stench flowed out from the island and several of the trees appeared to move...
Nicolae shifted and strained for a better look. Faint, violent chokes and groans among throaty wretching reached his ears. As the boat approached shore, he tried focusing on the trees but was nearly suffocated by the growing stench. The cloaked man did not appear bothered at all.
Suddenly, he recognized the unpleasant odor and prayed it wasn't what he thought it was. He returned his gaze to the island as dread pulsed within. The trees were not trees at all.
His eyes widened as he beheld thousands of rotting human corpses impaled on large, wooden stakes and in various states of decay. Several still grasped at their final shreds of life while hanging helplessly on the poles. The calls of scavenger birds from above blended with the agonized cries.
Nicolae turned his eyes skyward and saw the shapes of crows, buzzards, and another avian creature that appeared almost reptilian. The boat let out another unsettling groan as it docked, and the cloaked man rose, glancing at Nicolae before stepping onto the rocky shore. The young man remained seated while watching the figure take slow, steady strides up the beach.
Nicolae turned his head back to the direction they had come from, viewing the red water that stretched into darkness. He considered swimming back to the other island. The boat ride hadn't been terribly long and Nicolae was a strong swimmer. There was great possibility that he could make it. But even if I do, then what?
Fearing damnation in Hell’s fiery pits, he looked to the black sky in search for any sign of God. What I did was justified. He equalled the Devil himself. How can you not see that?
The sky remained still with cries of the impaled and ravenous calls of the scavengers as his only response.
Defeated, he lowered his eyes and resigned himself to Fate. From the rocky shore, the cloaked man stared at Nicolae, obviously waiting for the young man to follow. Holding back tears, Nicolae was forced to acknowledge his limited choices. He followed the cloaked figure into the forest of death, feeling the eyes of the suffering upon him (as HIS eyes were when you murdered him).
Despite efforts at keeping his eyes forward, Nicolae caught site of a murder of crows perched on a wooden stake, tearing at the rotting flesh and muscle of a carcass. The corpse stared back at him with its face nearly eaten away. Chunks of meat still clung to the skull as an eyeball hung down to the jawline by a fiberous string. The flesh around the mouth was gone, giving the corpse a permanent, hideous grin. It let out a strained moan, giving Nicolae’s stomach a jolt. He's still alive...?
The young man turned his head, only to see more crows, buzzards, and winged reptilian creatures landing on the stakes and limbs of the many other bodies.
I am certain they never go hungry here. The thought amused him slightly, but that disintigrated upon the reminder of this possibly being his own fate. All of them, they suffer and wish for death that never comes...
Heavy shame and hopelessness permeated his core. Eloisa, Sebastian…forgive me…
A clearing at the edge of the forest came into view, and Nicolae struggled to maintain his stance while anticipating what awaited him on the other side. An abyss, a fiery pit filled with bloodthirsty demons ready to tear me apart…
Nicolae felt anger and sorrow toward the unfairness of it all. How is he dead and going to Hell, leaving Sebastian all alone while Anton Alexandru is still alive?
As they neared the forest's edge, his legs trembled violently and threatened to collapse. He braced himself for the fiery Hellpit or impaling pole that awaited him. But upon their arrival, a scene far from what Nicolae was expecting greeted them.
Stretched out in front of them was a beautiful, crisp green field with a blue sky decorated by white clouds overhead. Several feet away stood a small workshed, and further down was what appeared to be a two-story farmhouse.
Nicolae looked up and saw the break in the sky that separated the black night from the bright, blue daylight. He slowly reached out and touched the tips of his fingers to a membrane barrier that guarded between the field and the island. That familiar surge raced through him as he withdrew his hand. Hope replaced his anguish. Perhaps he was not going to Hell after all.
He dared to question his cloaked companion. “Where are we? Is Eloisa here? When can I see her? And can we somehow go back and help Sebastian? Please, he is only a little boy.”
There was a pause before the cloaked man answered in a deep, raspy baritone. “No, you cannot. And Eloisa is not here.”
Despair welled inside the young man. “Then can you at least tell me why you have brought me here? I cannot spend an eternity without Eloisa. I may as well just go to Hell!” 
The man pointed toward the field. “Look.”
Nicolae turned back to see two little boys, both about seven years of age, chasing and kicking around a ball. Thick hair covered both their heads, though one was sandy and the other very dark. His emotions quelled as he watched them, taking in how happy and carefree they were while experiencing simple pleasures of childhood, something he had very little of growing up. He also felt familiarity with the boys and remembered the vision of the two babies from over a fortnight ago.
As he strained for a better look, the magnetic shield dissolved and day shifted into night. Cool autumn air accompanied the fragrance of fallen leaves, and the boys and their innocent game of chasing a ball vanished.
“It is safe to cross over, if you wish to do so,” the cloaked man said. He stepped forward onto the field before Nicolae followed.
As they walked onto the field, the island disappeared behind them and was replaced by a lush forest colored with leaves of the season.
“Death has not taken you," the man added. "That is not why you are here. But I am afraid I cannot tell you more beyond what I already have.”
Nicolae’s brow furrowed. “Will I be taken back to my brother?”
A late harvest moon shone on the emblem etched into the clasp that fastened the man’s cloak. Nicolae recognized the seal as belonging to the Order of the Dragon and wondered how he hadn't noticed it before.
The man slowly turned to the young man, who quickly looked away before they continued across the field. They passed the shed and came to a stop within a few feet from the farmhouse and large oak tree that stood at its side. Beneath the oak, a tall, sandy-haired young man with a lean, solid build embraced a petite raven-haired young woman. The love radiating from the young couple was a cruel reminder of what he once had with Eloisa.
Nicolae's stomach turned as gruesome details of the last night he saw her alive assaulted his mind. He forced them away as the two lovers parted their embrace, still holding on to one another as they spoke in English, a language Nicolae knew only a few words of. The idea of somehow learning more of that language occurred to him, especially if he was going to be taking Sebastian to live in America.
He looked to the cloaked man, who also regarded the young couple. Nicolae could sense emotional pain, as if the man had also experienced a great loss. For a moment, he felt remorse.
Suddenly, the man spoke again. “It continues.”
As the man turned to face Nicolae, the young man saw facial features beneath the hood…

 Jump and hop from blog to blog with some awesome authors…with this Halloween Blog Hop.

*Enter for a chance to win a free signed paperback copy of Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tiffany's 31 Days of Halloween, Day 28


With this 28th day of the Halloween season, I bring you two of my favorite tales from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy (both narrated by a YouTuber named Jon Ferarri).

The Wendigo:



The last three days of my 31 Days of Halloween will be spent on the Halloween Blog Hop that I am a part of with other authors, including Francis H. Powell and Amanda Lyons.
The blog hop will take place from October 29 (tomorrow) until November 1 on this blog, as well as the blogs of the other authors involved. During this time, I will also be giving away a signed copy of Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1).

The Blog Hop on my end will include an excerpt from Descent, an interview with author Amanda Lyons, an article on witch hunts and trials, and a review of Midnight Syndicate's newest musical effort, A Ghostly Gathering.
So make sure you tune in for that and check out what the other authors involved have to offer. You will not be disappointed. Plus, there will be a chance to win a signed copy of Descent. :)

So stop by tomorrow and Happy Haunting. :)


Tiffany's 31 Days of Halloween, Day 27

Greetings all,

Well, we are almost there...

And I have been watching the hell out of these short films based on stories from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy.

Here are a couple by filmmaker, John Johnson.

And to protest the PC police that decided it would be fun to ruin a childhood pastime (reading these books with the original artwork) because they aren't happy unless they are offended and complaining about something (Victimhood...yet another subject I will delve into in my blog essays on Human Behavior), I will post a photo of Stephen Gammell's drawing for the story, The Haunted House.

And in the next post, I will talk more about the Halloween Blog Hop I'm involved with that runs from the 29th until November 1. :)

Until then, Happy Haunting...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tiffany's 31 Days of Halloween, Day 26

Greetings mortals,

I am still on a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark kick. :D Plus, if you are still looking for a suggestion at a Halloween costume, I might have just the suggestion...

(warning: very creep imagery ahead...)

The makeup artist in this vid is awesome. :)

Happy Haunting...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tiffany's 31 Days of Halloween, Day 24 and 25


Here is a post for days 24 and 25. Sorry 24 is a bit late; I was busy in the 18th century being convicted of witchcraft.

 Some of you readers might remember the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy. And I mean the original books with the beautifully macabre artwork by Stephen Gammell (not the current editions with new tamer artwork that hardly makes the same impact as Gammell's work, thanks to the PC police). As I was perusing YouTube a year ago, I found these short films based on the stories in the Scary Stories trilogy. And I'm bringing you two of them because I missed yesterday. :)

The films are based on the stories, The Thing and Oh Susannah. Brought to you by filmmaker, Stephen King Simmons.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Tiffany's 31 Days of Halloween, Day 23


At this time in October, some of the Halloween decorations and household items start coming down in price.

I found this nifty candle holder at a local store. The original price was $14.99 and it was discounted at a 33% rate. Therefore it only cost me $10.49.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tiffany's 31 Days of Halloween, Day 22


Back in January, I started a Twilight Zone collage out of a 2013 calendar that I had. I did post the beginnings of the project in a blog post at that time, but never posted the results (though I had taken photos).

Well, here are the beginnings again:

And here are the results (I ended up making two!):

Hope everyone is having a great Halloween season. There is much more to come. :)