Category Archives: Fantasy Fiction

5-Star Review of Hexagon Speculative Fiction Magazine

Hexagon

Didi Oviatt, the author of Justice For Belle, reviews the premiere issue of Hexagon Speculative Fiction Magazine:

In this 1st edition there are five quick science fiction reads by authors Mike Tuggle, Evan Marcroft, John Grey, Michael M. Jones, and Nicholas C. Smith. I’ve read work by Mike Tuggle before and really enjoyed his style, so I knew going in that this edition had potential. I wasn’t disappointed either.. Actually quite the opposite! These contributors really brought their A-game. Gore, action, aliens… it has it all!

Read the rest at Didi Oviatt.

Quote of the day

JRR Tolkien

“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveler who would report them.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories

Blurred Lines

Blurred Lines 
The Suspenseful Collection 2 
by Kim Knight and Didi Oviatt 
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Crime Fiction 

For Mature Readers Only: 

As the second installment of suspenseful short stories by two suspense authors, from diverse backgrounds, Blurred Lines offers a thrill ride with nine stories in genres across the board. From opposite sides of the Atlantic these stories have been created. One author started the tale and the other ended it. No discussion, no pre-planning, but yet their stories are seamless. With the use of writing prompts Kim and Didi have created tales that will tug at your heart strings, drop your jaws, and leave you clinging to the edge of your seat. The continuation of this suspenseful anthology is just as fast paced and engaging as the first set of tales that covers multiple genres. From gory horror, romance, crime fiction, family drama, and fantasy, there is a story for everyone! 

Crime Fiction, Psychological: “I’m Back Bitches, Now Panic!” 

Lynn McCarmick has spent six years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit, although she’s a far cry from an innocent woman. Her once loyal team of con artists set her up for a robbery that landed her a long term home in a Scottish prison. With the help of conjugal visits from Hamish, who keeps tabs on the group who framed her, she’s able to track them and keep a constant eye on their whereabouts. After an early release for good behavior, Lynn is finally able to let the bad bitch inside of her roam free. She goes after the team with the intentions on a much anticipated revenge for her incarceration. 

Contemporary Romance: Heart of Gold 

In this star crossed, light hearted tale, two people with the purest of hearts, each long to find a mate who is giving, honest and real. Sandy has been putting herself out there for what she feels is too long, yet she’s only found shallow disconnected interactions. That is until she witnesses an act of kindness from a complete stranger, one that she’s yet to discover has already intertwined his way into her near future. 

Psychological Thriller, Slasher Romance, Erotica: Chainsaw Ridge 

Alice is one of a kind, and was raised by a nasty man with killer habits. Growing up, Alice was forced to care for her daddy’s pigs, on a farm that he used the animals for the most disgusting things, including the devouring of his victims’ bodies. After an accident rendered the awful man disabled, and Alice had to dispose of his latest victim for him, everything changed. Eventually Alice rid herself of her Daddy and found a man to spend her life with. However, Alice’s tale doesn’t end there! Due to popular demand this story was extended! Alice fell into a depression after learning that her husband was having an affair. She decided to raise pigs of her own, following suit of her father and with the ultimate twist, this gory tale takes Alice and her husband on one hell of a bloody adventure. 

Investigative Crime Fiction: Crime Scene Investigation 

Detectives Flynn and McBride are on the case of a murder. Owner of the Chinese restaurant where the body was found, Mr. Wang, is devastated. He’s concerned that this murder could have detrimental effects on his busiess. The pressure is on to find the killer and to clear Mr. Wang’s establishment as a safe place for his patrons. But, not everything is as it seems, and as the killing’s details unravel, the detective piece together outside connections that are weaved into the Wang ties in a very delicate way. Is this merely a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or is there more to the murder than meets the eye? 

Historical Fiction: A Miracle Baby Story 

In a tragic tale of tough love and loss, brought about in a western setting, two young lovers are frowned upon by nearly everyone around. Adsila is a teen of Cherokee descent, who falls for a young cowboy. The conception of their child is hidden, yet Adsila’s mother isn’t blind to the fact that her own baby is with child. She aids the young lovers, trying to save the life of their unborn child in a community filled with hate and judgement toward their union. 

Paranormal Suspense: A life Gone? 

Franklyn Poppy, is a husband and father who’s found himself in a place between life and death, becomes the loathly witness to the woman he loves having an affair with his twin brother. He’s introduced to the infamous dark Goddess, Maman Bridgette who shares his disdain for the happenings of his wife. The outcome of Mrs. Poppy and her fateful intertwining with this powerful Goddess is powerful and resonating. 

Metaphysics, Clarvoiant, Thriller: Murder by Mistake 

The Wilkinson family consists of an Air Force father, a loving mother, and two daughters Anna and Julie. They are polar opposites, and Julie, the younger of the two has a special gift. Along with her constant paranoia of practically everything on this earth, she’s able to see things before they happen, as well as the happenings of people around her. When she’s mentally the witness to a murder that’s yet to be solved, she’s forced into action in an altercation with the killer. 

Fantasy: Witchful Thinking 

Gretchen isn’t your average witch, as she was born into a clan descending from the blood of Fate herself. Growing up in foster care was an intentional way for her to find her own path in using her magic as she’s intended to be a tool for Fate’s use. Once grown, she’s introduced to the intensity of her gifts, and is thrown into a personal journey involving much higher powers than merely Fate. Gretchen and her mother have a certain potential that dive deeper than either of them ever dreamed. 

Family Drama: Real Mom 

After the abandonment of their mother, twins Josephine and Jerilynn are taken in by their new stepmom, and become the big sisters to quite the large and quirky family. During a family vacation the two team up, and try to uncover the mystery of their estranged biological mom. 

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS: 

We will be offering the first set of stories in the Suspenseful Collection for FREE for 5 days only. Our gift to you, as an invitation to celebrate with us in releasing Blurred Lines. Download your free Kindle Copy of The Suspenseful Collection on Amazon HERE: http://bit.ly/30Le9WE

About Didi Oviatt 

Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search For Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, Sketch, and more, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle. 

About Kim Knight 

Kim Knight was born in 1983 and from London in the UK. She’s a mother to a beautiful little boy, and a proud award winning author (awarded Best Romance 2017 title for A Stranger In France). Kim started her journey as a traditionally published author and later dived into self-publishing also. 
As a reader she’s head over heels in love with romance, historical fiction, crime fiction, African- American, suspense and thriller genre books. As a writer, Kim enjoys creating stories with a diverse and multi-cultural line up, within the romance, romantic suspense and general thriller and crime genres. When she’s not reading, or writing stories of her own her other passions include practising her French, astrology, fashion, make-up artistry, drawing, spending time at her sewing machine dressmaking, watching make -up and beauty tutorials on YouTube, letter writing and being a mum. 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


Blood & Thunder: A Review

I’ve just finished Blood and Thunder, Mark Finn’s literary biography of Robert E. Howard. It’s one of those books I hated to see end. Blood & Thunder is an entertaining and inspired introduction to one of the greatest fantasy writers who ever lived.

Finn stresses throughout this biography that Texas was a life-long influence on Howard. Finn, also a native Texan, knows what he’s talking about.

Howard’s unique voice has been described as robust, vivid, and dark. The sizable Anglo-Celtic population throughout the South, including Texas, accounts for much of this. As Howard wrote in a letter to H. P. Lovecraft:

“But no Negro ghost-story ever gave me the horror as did the tales told by my grandmother. All the gloominess and dark mysticism of the Gaelic nature was hers, and there was no light and mirth in her. Her tales showed what a strange legion of folk-lore grew up in the Scotch-Irish settlements of the Southwest, where transplanted Celtic myths and fairy-tales met and mingled with a substratum of slave legends.”

Another major but often overlooked influence on the future writer was the Western tall tale. The young man listened intently to his father, a small town doctor, who spun entertaining yarns for patients, family members, and friends. The chapter dedicated to the fine Texan tradition of the tall tale is titled “Authentic Liars,” a perceptive acknowledgement of the writer’s most crucial talent, the ability to tell a believable lie the audience will happily swallow.

The Texas young Robert E. Howard grew up in was barely a generation removed from the Wild West, and the boy was spellbound by first-hand accounts of Comanche raids and attacks by the Mexican rebel Pancho Villa, undoubtedly the inspiration for the bandits, kozaki, and Picts who brawled and stormed throughout the Hyborian kingdoms. Even Texas-sized rattlesnakes found their way into Howard’s stories (“The Scarlet Citadel,” for example.) As Finn puts it, “Conan, then, is much closer to the American frontier tradition than epic fantasy.”

The Texas oil boom not only overturned the state’s once-agrarian economy, but jolted the culture, and not in a good way. In a letter to H. P. Lovecraft, Howard wrote:

“I’ve seen old farmers, bent with toil, and ignorant of the feel of ten dollars at a time, become millionaires in a week, by the way of oil gushers. And I’ve seen them blow in every cent of it and die paupers. I’ve seen whole towns debauched by an oil boom and boys and girls go to the devil whole-sale. I’ve seen promising youths turn from respectable citizens to dope-fiends, drunkards, gamblers, and gangsters in a matter of months.”

Howard’s recurring theme of civilizational rot and downfall were not abstract notions; he experienced these things first hand. Like his friend and fellow writer H. P. Lovecraft, Howard viewed industrialization as a destructive, de-humanizing force.

It’s impossible to discuss Robert E. Howard without considering H. P. Lovecraft. The two masters corresponded extensively, and clearly influenced each other’s work. Howard set Conan in a Lovecraftian universe, complete with a number of Cthulhu mythos deities. But it was a reciprocal – and beneficial – relationship. Finn points out how Howard’s action-oriented style inspired Lovecraft, whose fiction tended toward the psychological, to include the well-done nighttime chase scene in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” one of Lovecraft’s greatest tales.

I cannot agree with all of Finn’s conclusions. For example, I winced at his assertion that Yasmina from Howard’s novella “The People of the Black Circle” is a “more fully realized” character than Belit from “Queen of the Black Coast.” C’mon! I applaud Finn’s rejection of L. Sprague de Camp’s unfair and uninformed opinion that Howard was a suicidal paranoid with Oedipal tendencies. However, to rebut de Camp by asserting Howard had no choice but to commit suicide is simply ridiculous.

All in all, though, this is a well-researched, intelligent, and sympathetic evaluation of Robert E. Howard’s life and legacy, one I highly recommend for both newcomers and seasoned fans.

The Shiny Side

The Shiny Side

British author Charlie Fish is featuring my story “The Shiny Side” on his e-zine Fiction on the Web, the oldest short story site on the Internet.

As the Texas sun sets on a remote truck stop, Wanda June Vincent, an experienced trucker, helps her friend Travis off-load some of the contents of Travis’s overweight trailer. After they load the items into Wanda June’s trailer, they steer their rigs down I-40 East.

But the trip ends when Travis’s rig inexplicably crashes. While sifting through the evidence to discover what nearly killed her friend, Wanda June has to confront a secret lurking in one of the innocent-looking crates she and Travis were hauling.

I had a blast researching and writing this story, and want to thank my beta readers in the Charlotte Writer’s Club for their invaluable input, as well as my trucker friends (who prefer to remain anonymous) for sharing their insider information about the trucking life.

The Magic of Swamps

My wife and I just got back from Carolina Beach. We spent Tuesday hiking through Carolina Beach State Park, a 761-acre wildlife sanctuary in southeastern North Carolina bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway and the mighty Cape Fear River.
We need more places like this. After driving nearly 200 miles from Charlotte down I-74, much of which is garrisoned by countless installations of Burger This and Taco That, we were ready for something that wasn’t standardized and sterile.

The Swamp Trail was alive with surprises. Here’s the Lily Pond, which was overflowing with dark green lily pads and dotted with white blossoms, all floating in unpolluted water. The air around the Lily Pond smelled deliciously earthy and rich.

Not far away, large swaths of the pine forest still showed signs of this summer’s controlled burn. This process helps clear away old and diseased vegetation, thereby freeing up nutrients for the soil and new life, such as this little guy:

If this newborn pine reminds you of the young Groot, you’re not the only one.

Swamps reaffirm the astonishing resilience and adaptability of life. The Wilmington, North Carolina area is the only place in the world where you can find Venus Flytraps. Both Pitcher Plants and Venus Flytraps evolved in an environment lacking the proteins and nitrogen needed to sustain them, so these plants started feeding on meat. We didn’t come across any Venus Flytraps on our hike, but here are some Pitcher Plants we saw waiting for their usual customers, including flies, small frogs, and even birds:

Carnivorous plants. Pretty wild, huh?

Guess you could say swamps are to our everyday environment what science fiction and fantasy are to our routine reading. In the swamp, you’re face-to-face with nature’s more fantastical creatures, creatures whose vitality and outlandish attributes force you to pay attention to them. Swamps are the incubators of wild imaginings and unexpected beauty. My story “Hunting Ground,” which was included in the Unbound II: Changed Worlds anthology, was not only set in a swamp but inspired by my boyhood ramblings in local marshes. Did carnivorous plants get a starring role? Well, their (could be) cousins did …

Getting outdoors, and hiking in particular, help you sharpen your senses. And don’t forget how experiencing nature lets you encounter beauty and rediscover peace of mind, which can lead you to becoming a more balanced person and a better writer.

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database

I’ve recently been included in The Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

The ISFDB is a publication of the World Heritage Encyclopedia. It provides bibliographic information on past and present authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Listings include author pseudonyms, series, awards, and cover art. The publication’s goal is to improve the coverage of speculative fiction to 100%, and they have earned a reputation for being fastidious about nailing down the facts. ISFDB won the 2005 Wooden Rocket Award for the Best Directory Site.

Cory Doctorow wrote in Science Fiction Age: “The best all-round guide to things science-fictional remains the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.”

I’m honored. My thanks to the ISFDB volunteers who included my works.

KZine Now In Paperback!

KZine is a British publication specializing in science fiction, horror, fantasy, and crime stories for Kindle. It’s now also offering paperback editions on Amazon, including issue eight, which features one of my stories.

The reviewer at Wizzley Magazine wrote that he “was impressed by the high quality of all eight stories” in that issue, and had this to say about my contribution, “Spell Check”:

“Jordan has accidentally created a creature that has invaded her house. She turns to an old customer, Floyd, for help. This is a quaint magical story, a little bit sad and a little bit scary.”

And here’s a 5-star Amazon reader review:

“Mike’s story is great; very clever, well-described, and quite creative, about an unwitting conjurer. Then I read the whole issue. Really impressed with the quality of the stories here. I liked them all, but also especially remember “Pickman’s Motel.” I’m an HP Lovecraft fan, and this story did a great job building on Lovecraft’s ‘Pickman’s Model.’ “

Sakura: Intellectual Property

SakuraZachary Hill had just finished the rough draft of Sakura when he suddenly died. Zach’s friends and family were naturally devastated. But two of his friends, both authors, did what only writers could do for Zach and his widow, and that was to polish the manuscript and get it published. Another friend and author, Larry Correia, is getting the word out to sci-fi/fantasy fans:

Zach was a very good friend of mine and one of the all around coolest people I’ve ever met. He finished the rough draft of this novel three days before he died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism.

Paul Genesse and Patrick Tracy are talented authors, who were also friends of Zach’s, and they vowed to finish his last book and get it out there because Zach thought it was the best thing he’d ever written.

No matter how good you are, rough drafts still need lots of work, and working with Zach’s brother Josh, and a great team of artists (it is beautifully illustrated) and editors, they did a fantastic job. They’ve received no compensation for this. It was done as a labor of love, and all the royalties go to Zach’s widow, Makenzie.

What a beautiful thing to do. Please pass the word about Sakura: Intellectual Property to other writers and readers.