Alanna McFall on Tales of Horror

•October 14, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Tales of Horror presents Alanna McFall’s “The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus” – Alanna McFall is a writer who specializes in the paranormal and fantasy, and whose debut novel, The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus, came out on June 4th, 2019 with Atthis Arts

October opens with horror writers reading from their scary works for the Fourth Annual Tales of Horror, a collaboration between San Mateo Public Library and HorroAddicts.net. View the videos posted to this page or subscribe to the City of San Mateo’s YouTube channel to see and hear costumed HorrorAddict authors put you in the mood for Halloween all month!

The full line-up is Emerian Rich (October 1), Loren Rhoads (October 5), RL Merrill (October 8), me, Sumiko Saulson (October 12), Alanna McFall (October 15), Jonathan Fortin (October 19), Laurel Anne Hill (October 22), Jay Hartlove (October 26), and Ben Monroe (October 29).

The Sum of Us

•October 14, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I miss you when you’re gone

Though I know it won’t be long

Until you’re here again, near again

Face to face, skin to skin

Your charms in my arms

The addition of you unto me

Bringing satisfaction

That lasts for days past

The eventual subtraction

Attraction to the scent of you

As of fresh vegetables blended

And warm snuggly puppies

My skin warm and flushing

As soon as you touch me

Blushing, kissing, caressing

Just being near you is

One of life’s best things

This isn’t so much me now

As it is the sum of us

This we I am when I am with you

And we begin our dance anew

Tales of Horror: Sumiko Saulson’s Death Omen

•October 12, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I am thrilled to be one of the authors at the San Mateo Library “Tales of Horror” program! So excited that today marks the day my reading of Death Omen debuts on the San Mateo County Library page!

October opens with horror writers reading from their scary works for the Fourth Annual Tales of Horror, a collaboration between San Mateo Public Library and HorroAddicts.net. View the videos posted to this page or subscribe to the City of San Mateo’s YouTube channel to see and hear costumed HorrorAddict authors put you in the mood for Halloween all month!

The full line up of readers is Emerian Rich (October 1), Loren Rhoads (October 5), RL Merrill (October 8), me, Sumiko Saulson (October 12), Alanna McFall (October 15), Jonathan Fortin (October 19), Laurel Anne Hill (October 22), Jay Hartlove (October 26), and Ben Monroe (October 29).

RL Merrill’s Tale of Horror!

•October 8, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Today RL Merrill’s Tale of Horror debuts at the San Mateo County Library’s Fourth Annual Tales of Horror, a collaboration between San Mateo Public Library and HorroAddicts.net. View the videos posted to this page or subscribe to the City of San Mateo’s YouTube channel to see and hear costumed HorrorAddict authors put you in the mood for Halloween all month!

RL Merrill writes contemporary, paranormal, and historical horror romance with quirky characters, real-life issues, and awkward interludes.

RELEASE DAY: "Healer" by R.L. Merrill — Author SF Benson

I am thrilled to be one of the authors at the San Mateo Library “Tales of Horror” program! The full line up is Emerian Rich (October 1), Loren Rhoads (October 5), RL Merrill (October 8), me, Sumiko Saulson (October 12), Alanna McFall (October 15), Jonathan Fortin (October 19), Laurel Anne Hill (October 22), Jay Hartlove (October 26), and Ben Monroe (October 29).

Interview with Omewenne, author of Amduat

•October 7, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Omewenne Biography:

Omewenne for Blog

Omewenne was adopted from care in Detroit, Michigan into a Catholic Military family and grew up on both coasts of the USA and Japan. Fleeing from her fanatical and controlling, abusive father, at eighteen in 1984 she landed in San Francisco where she shared a friend’s flat. Omewenne reinvented herself and became a kind of subcultural celebrity in the 1980’s and 1990’s on Haight street to start then onto the club scenes in various circles, then as an actress on stage and screen, playwright, singer composer, poet, and short story writer. Record deals and book deals evaded and failed her but she has been captured in photographs and in films including “Never Met Picasso”, “Stroke”, and a pixel portrait by George Kuchar called simply “Omewenne”. Having wrestled with mental illness since a child she became lost in the psychiatric realm. Marrying in 2001 to an Englishman she swapped countries for the Netherlands and began to research her new world. In Cornwall in her cottage in 2009 she had a massive breakdown and fled to Portland, Oregon where she stayed briefly and manged to maintain her poetry and research into ancient texts. It wasn’t until her return to Cornwall that short stories and music returned to her.

Synopsis of Amduat

AMDUAT is the ancient Egyptian word for “the Netherworld”. Here in this book of sixty short stories Omewenne re-addresses Fairy Tales, obscure histories, ancient texts. Tales such as “Little Snowdrops”, sees the tale of Snow White retold through the eyes of the Wicked Queen, here the Blood Countess herself – Erzebet Bathory. The Sleeping Beauty is now “The Descent of Briar Rose into the Underworld”, a kind of resizing of the Inanna/Ishtar tale. The Welsh legend of “The Cutty Black Sow” comes to life as a young child misses her mark on Halloween. Also there are modern stories, tales of madness, murder, horror and the supernatural. A trio of stories about flights from marriage to Portland Oregon where darkness awaits, in “The Oni” a child confused by her friends’ argument is visited by an ancient Japanese demon, in “Blood Loss” two teenagers discover a terrifying dimension through a disturbing technique, in “Live Prey” a woman’s madness at the loss of her cat and the estrangement of her daughter sends her into a wilderness. Omewenne has a page on Facebook where you can hear of new developments in her creativity.

Work Sample:

Little Ola was watching her Grandmother walk slowly away into the meadow which lay before The Great Forest; Grandmother who wore her long coarse pale gown, and the waving grain blowing in the cold North Wind. It was late in the day; the sky was darkening. Grandmother looked behind her at Ola so far away, Ola with tears in her eyes. Read the rest of The Red Bride here

Interview:

Q. When did you first start writing and what are some of the works you have been involved with in the past?

A. I must have started writing when I was four or five with short sentences and drawings, even then the subjects were dark. When I was fourteen I wrote a short story which was published in a national children’s magazine but it was at the time that my family were re-stationed in the Mojave Desert from the then small town in New Jersey. I never saw the publication or knew what the magazine was called to find a copy. The story was about Lizard monsters living under the bed that snatched children. In my adult life I have written both poetry and plays. Three chapbooks came out in the nineties :SLIPPED OUT UNDER THE DOOR, COLD EYE BLIND WINDOW, and NEKROSURREALIA which also had some of the short stories contained in the end of AMDUAT. The plays I wrote and had produced were VISITATIONS BY DEATH ( a kind of Danse Macabre set of stories), NICO…MY EMPTY PAGES (a biographical play about the troubled singer-songwriter Warhol Superstar), and GRIMM GUIGNOL (several Grimms’ Fairytales worked up for the Grand Guignol treatment).

Q. What inspired you to write Amduat?

A. I began writing AMDUAT after coming out of a long deep depression, after failing to connect with my Birth-mother (I am adopted). The depression had heavily lasted (I’m still living with depression) about four to five years and somewhere after my dearest cat’s death, suffering from agoraphobia writing came back to me. I began writing short stories based on my mental health and the many bits of research I had done into Fairy Tales and ancient history. The last time I had written short stories was in 1996 when NEKROSURREALIA was released and which is here again in AMDUAT re-edited and better than before. I was rewriting Fairy Tales based on many versions of each tale to their earliest mention that was known, also many ancient or obscure histories, the life of a Celtic Cornish Saint complete with sadistic giant. Mental illness with me is constant so many of my protagonists are like me or have been through what I have been through in the more modern stories. The supernatural, places in which I’ve lived from Japan to Portland, Oregon , have places in my stories as well.

Loren Rhoads Tale of Horror debuts Today!

•October 5, 2020 • Leave a Comment

October opens with horror writers reading from their scary works for the Fourth Annual Tales of Horror, a collaboration between San Mateo Public Library and HorroAddicts.net. View the videos posted to this page or subscribe to the City of San Mateo’s YouTube channel to see and hear costumed HorrorAddict authors put you in the mood for Halloween all month!

I am thrilled to be one of the authors at the San Mateo Library “Tales of Horror” program, which launched on October 1 and continues throughout the month, with a different HorrorAddicts author reading every few days until the month is out. I am reading on October 12.

Loren Rhoads (@morbidloren) | Twitter
Loren Rhoads

Today’s author is Loren Rhoads who will be reading “Fire and Dawn” from the book”Unsafe Words”

Stay tuned for more short stories, poems, and excerpts! The schedule is Emerian Rich (October 1), Loren Rhoads (October 5), RL Merrill (October 8), me, Sumiko Saulson (October 12), Alanna McFall (October 15), Jonathan Fortin (October 19), Laurel Anne Hill (October 22), Jay Hartlove (October 26), and Ben Monroe (October 29).

Excerpt: Tapestry of Sentiment and Sunset

•October 3, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Tapestry of Sentiment and Sunset

An Excerpt from the short story Tapestry of Sentiment and Sunset, from “Wickedly Abled” (2020).

StrawberryCreek4.JPG
Strawberry Creek going west past Anthony Hall at UC Berkeley (Photo by Coro)

Chloe was a natural witch. The rocks called out to her, and the rivers. Tiny trickles of water burbling soothing sounds over smooth earthbound rocks sang to her as she strode past brilliant estuaries and warm grassy knolls redolent with fresh loam and newly cut grass. Chloe had a way of dancing around campus, her short floral print summer dresses dancing mid-calf against legs as long, thin and brown as cinnamon sticks. Her hair and clothes were constantly fragrant with spices and herbs from cooking, growing tea leaves in her garden, and doing kitchen magic. She had been speaking to the trees and stones since early childhood, but she was not a child any longer.

In her second year at Berkeley City College, she looked forward to graduating a year from now and hoped to transfer to UC Berkeley, where her girlfriend Bethany attended.  To Chloe, Bethany was made of magic… the way she glided across the green in her baggy camouflage army pants and black tank tee with a beret cocked askew atop her russet dreadlocks. Her magic was musky and bone-deep, from her creaky dark laughter to the way her round John Lennon Harry Potter steel classes sat carelessly above her pert brown nose. Bethany’s round plum mouth tasted like her hip clove-oil vape, late-night snacks of cheesy puffs and forbidden delights entangled in her arms in her purple-silk-scarf and incense adorned dorm room all Spring long.

woman in red long sleeve shirt and black pants walking on forest during daytime
“Chloe was a natural witch. The rocks called out to her, and the rivers.”
– Image by Emily Valletta

One day Chloe might have a dorm of her own, but Bethany would have graduated by then. For now, she lived with her parents. And her mother insisted that she go to the school psychologist about the way she kept talking to the plants and the animals. Her father, African, and a practitioner of the Igbo religion Odinani, found her mother’s concerns unwarranted. But her mother was an atheist and didn’t believe in magic. Chloe shrugged and went obediently to the school psychologist’s office. The voices of nature spirits were the cause of some consternation for the nineteen year old city college sophomore’s school psychologist, Dr. Maya Robbins, as was the impulsive nature of the young woman.

Before Chloe Anna Mayfield could get enough credits for an A.A. in Psychology, the spirits of her ancestors interfered. . They told her to take his text Totem and Taboo and set it to burn. Closing her eyes, she leaned back into the plush green lounge chair in her therapist’s office, relishing the memory. In her mind’s eye she recalled tossing the hateful racist tome Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics into the flames as they licked the sides of the stainless steel ash can in front of the blue and white fiberglass bleachers. The book hit the hot coals and disintegrated, tiny bits of paper flying up into the air alit on the summer heat like fireflies. Tiny fire spirits spread upwards in hot tendrils of smoke and flame, dancing in synchronicity as they rose into the sky. These were not the Greek elementals known as salamanders, but animist spirits known before the birth of the world in African, the place of our ancestral mother. Mmo, the spirits of her Igbo ancestors, manically giggled as the pages of the oppressor’s tome withered in the heat.

“How long have you been hearing voices?” Dr. Robbins asked somberly, her dour face elongated with a look of deep sadness she fabricated for communication with the most depressed of her therapy clients.

Chloe giggled and put her hands over her mouth, increasing Dr. Robbin’s impression that she’d lost her mind. “I don’t hear voices,” Chloe responded, refusing to make eye contact. “The nature spirits communicate with me. They aren’t voices in my head, they are spirits. I told you, it’s a religion.”

There was a way the rich cocoa-brown skin over Maya Robbin’s high cheekbones drained to a sallow, corpse-like ash gray when she thought you were saying something crazy.  It was happening right now. A concerned, dark shadow settled over her deep-set umber eyes. The school psychologist usually appeared a youthful age of thirty-seven. All of her anti-aging creams melted away in an instant, leaving her furrow-browed and stewing in an authoritarian haze of maternal consternation. She looked her full fifty-five years and then some in its wake.

Was this lady seriously using the look on her? Chloe’s grandmother used the look. All black women over fifty seemed to have the look, an incredulous glare that made most young folks shut up the minute they saw it. It was like side-eye only straight at you, letting you know the lady in question thought you were ignorant, insane and all kinds of imbecile.

“Chloe had a way of dancing around campus” – Image from Mocah.org

Chloe pressed a palm against her aching forehead as a blood vessel begin to tick angrily on her temple. “I am not crazy, Dr. Robbins. Animism is a religious practice, not a mental illness,” she explained patiently for the fifth time. “I am an Animist. Magic is a part of my religion. My spiritual practices are valid. You and my mom are interfering with my fifth amendment rights!”

Annoyed, Chloe began calling to the wind to blow open the office window. It was stuffy in here anyway. Dr. Robbins huffed when one of her Bay windows flew open, but didn’t get up to close it. Chloe giggled into her hand as she playfully suggested the African Violets on the psychologist’s desk begin to release an aroma enticing to honeybees.

“I am concerned about you,” Dr. Robbins prattled on. “Let’s talk about your decision to change your major. Don’t you think it’s rather impulsive?”

“Impulsive… hrmmm…” Chloe chewed her bottom lip and nervously kicked a leather sandal against Dr. Robbin’s imposing wooden desk. Just that morning, she’d changed her major from Psychology to English. She didn’t know if Dr. Robbins needed to know too many details about her selection process. The truth was, the ancestral spirits told her to ditch Freud and his colonial oppression.

“I’ve taken most of my general education course load. I have only taken two psychology classes. I knew I could easily transfer those credits to an English major, so I did. What is so impulsive about that?

“It felt like liberation magic.” — Image from Mocah.org

 “You tossed your entire psychology textbook collection into the bonfire after the Homecoming Game,” Dr. Robbins said sourly. “They were worth about three hundred and fifty dollars. Didn’t you need the money?”

 “As I told my mother,” Chloe explained, rolling my eyes,” the ancestor spirits told me it was patriarchal, colonialist garbage that would only poison my thinking. If I had sold it, it would have only brainwashed other unsuspecting souls. Kill it with fire, they said. And so I did…” She grinned as she saw the first of the bees slip into the room and quiet saunter over to the flower on the desk.

 “How did that feel?” Dr. Robbins asked. Unaware of the insect, she had her head down, scribbling franticly into her notebook.

“It felt like liberation magic. Liberation magic is invigorating, like a pot of hot lemon tea with honey in it on a cold winter’s day,” Chloe stated serenely.

In her mind’s eye, she saw the front page of Chapter Three, Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thought, part from the book Totem and Taboo and rise in rebellion as began to singe and furl. It floated up in the air in slow, cinematic sequence and languidly spun in the smog. Her forehead furrowed, she stared at the wicked text, muttered an incantation under my breath, and watched as it exploded. It was a protection spell against Sigmund Freud, the long-dead colonial oppressor. Her spell was proof against Freud’s further attempts to infiltrate her mind and soul with internalized loathing.

“You certainly have a way with words,” Dr. Robbins admitted. Stunned, Chloe wondered if Dr. Robbins had read her mind. Then, she realized, the school counselor was referring to her line about liberation magic.

“In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn…” Chloe quoted enigmatically.

Dr. Robbins nodded and smiled. “Octavia Butler.”

Chloe smiled. “Indeed.”

“So you think of the burning of those texts as symbolic, then?” Dr. Robbins asked.

“Yes!” Chloe shouted. “Bethany and I held hands, smiled triumphantly into the flames.  On Monday, I went in first thing changed my major to English. You know, those old psychology books aren’t too far from the scientific racism of Georges Cuvier and Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, the monsters that labeled Sara Baartman the missing link and encouraged her to drink herself to death so they could dissect her …”

“I already know how you feel about psychology,” Dr. Robbins sighed.

“You read books by old dead white racists and worship a dead white man on a cross, yet you think I am the crazy one?” Chloe groused.

Dr. Robbins shook her head. “My religion has nothing to do with this. This isn’t about me at all. You were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I think you should be on your medication. Don’t you agree?”

“Sure, I’ll take it,” Chloe lied. “Write me a prescription.” A second bee entered the office window, accompanied by a fly. They buzzed around the flower, annoying Dr. Robbins, who wasn’t allergic or anything. Chloe snickered when the fly landed on the psychologist’s eyelid, making her blink in irritation. Always professional, she refused to swat it away until the prescription was written.

Petty, she knew.

For the rest of this story, and many other works of speculative fiction by disabled authors, pick up Wickedly Abled (2020) today!

Berkeley #Unbound Book Fair Starts Today!

•October 3, 2020 • Leave a Comment

The Bay Area Book Festival #UNBOUND

— the online incarnation of the annual Bay Area Book Festival, which fills Downtown Berkeley with hundreds of notable authors and tens of thousands of readers, starts tomorrow.

#UNBOUND programs present authors and activists at the top of their game to inform, inspire, console, and engage you. Each program (pre-recorded) has a “premiere” showing, which allows for live audience chat, then remains on the site for free viewing.

Berkeley Book Fair’s #UNBOUND Virtual Festival

On Sunday, October 4, the Bay Area Book Festival presents Berkeley #UNBOUND, an all-day, free, virtual mini-festival — kicked off with a ticketed keynote program on Saturday night, October 3.

“The Bay Area Book Festival’s big fall event, Berkeley #UNBOUND, features a diverse group of world-renowned thinkers, writers, academics, and trailblazers, including U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Stephen Best, john a. powell, and Ishmael Reed, to offer bold visions for the future of California and our nation,” – Julia Drake, Wildbound PR & Literary Management

In addition to U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, the festival features a number of prominent African American / African Diaspora speakers of particular interest to San Francisco BayView readers. They include W. Kamau Bell, host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning CNN docu-series “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell,” young adult fiction author and a long-time executive at Walt Disney Studios R.C. Barnes, author of “None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life” Stephen Best, Poetry for the People director Aya DeLeon, the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley john a. powell, and National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Ishmael Reed, the author of Mumbo Jumbo.

For more information, visit https://www.baybookfest.org/berkeleyunbound/

For Us, Entwined

•October 2, 2020 • Leave a Comment

For Us, Entwined

003 Entwined Tree at Kbal Spean

When I remember you sweetly, and
Softly touching your feet…
If your foot was in my hand
And I massaged toes, long and lean
And ran fingers over seams
Of two layers of stockings
One fishnet, one plain
To prevent the slippage of toes
Between fishnet in hose
Made of black lace windows

And in these, and in those…
And in noisy repose
If I cat-booped your nose
If I blew bubbles on your navel
And heaven in those
Air blown against skin, and then
You within…

Not taken away, but
Forever remaining beyond trouble
And pain and my memory stained
With port-wine marks of you within
On me deeper than skin
Deeper than tattoo ink or pen
On the paper I carry to bury necessary

Memories of you, we one, we two
Me wrapped in you…
Part and parcel of you…
Memories too true to dismiss them
Or dismiss you when
You’re part of my system

Automatic writing.. both enlightening
And frightening and pages I crafted
Inside me you laughed, it
Was under my skin
Where I still
hold you
within

Tales of Horror Starts Today!

•October 1, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I am thrilled to be one of the authors at the San Mateo Library “Tales of Horror” program which starts today!

October opens with horror writers reading from their scary works for the Fourth Annual Tales of Horror, a collaboration between San Mateo Public Library and HorroAddicts.net. View the videos posted to this page or subscribe to the City of San Mateo’s YouTube channel to see and hear costumed HorrorAddict authors put you in the mood for Halloween all month!

Horror Writer Emerian Rich kicks off our Fourth Annual Tales of Horror!

Emerian Rich kicks off the Fourth Annual Tales of Horror today with a poem “The Plague Ship” from the book “Darklings Beast and Brew” which also includes fun spooky recipes!

Stay tuned for more short stories, poems, and excerpts by Loren Rhoads (October 5), RL Merrill (October 8), me, Sumiko Saulson (October 12), Alanna McFall (October 15), Jonathan Fortin (October 19), Laurel Anne Hill (October 22), Jay Hartlove (October 26), and Ben Monroe (October 29).