Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors

Milwakee, Wisconsin— After a lifetime of traveling with their father to collect bizarre and “spooky” artifacts, twins Opal and Topaz Cushing are finally looking forward to a summer at home in their fixer upper Victorian mansion on the outskirts of London. That is, until strange things start happening in their wax works exhibit, and they soon find out the truth about that which goes bump in the night.

Stephen D. Sullivan brings back the thrills and chills of the old horror movie culture, in the latest title to be added to his prolific career, Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors.  This horror fantasy is set to release August 30, 2020 with Walkabout Publishing.

“Dr. Cushing is easily Sullivan’s best creation to date! Mixing the roller-coaster thrills of the Universal monster rally films like House of Frankenstein with the moody sexiness of Hammer’s 1960s gothic horrors, he throws in more monster fun than anyone has a right to expect! I’m ready for the sequel—now!”

Rodney Barnett, film scholar and co-host of the NaschyCast horror podcast

Sullivan’s latest release will be available at all major retailers as well as select indie bookstores upon release. His availability is limited to virtual signings, cons, and interviews until the current national pandemic crisis is contained.

About the Book:

The monsters aren’t only in the museum!

Despite a lifetime of traveling with their father to collect strange artifacts, twins Topaz and Opal Cushing have never fully believed in monsters or the supernatural. Oh, sure, they share an eerie psychic connection, and their tarot card readings often come true, but… Werewolves? Vampires? Living mummies? None of those could be real. Those legends are just for rubes. Right?

Since the girls’ father has been away, though, strange things have been happening in the family’s little exhibit—and in the waxworks studio that shares their dilapidated Victorian mansion on the outskirts of London. Now, the twins’ dreams of a fun, romantic summer season are turning into a nightmare, and the monsters are running…

Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors!

Print Length: 437 pages

Publisher: Walkabout Publishing (August 30, 2020)

Publication Date: August 30, 2020

Language: English


Pre-Order on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08F13XKQG

About the Author:

Stephen D. Sullivan has over sixty published titles to his name and helped create more comics and games than he can either list or remember.

A Scribe award-winner for “Best Novel Adaptation, 2016” with his book Manos: The Hands of Fate, Sullivan lives with his wife in a small town in Wisconsin.

You can contact him via Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, or on his website: http://www.stephendsullivan.com

Interview with Matthew Rattsifer

Welcome to what is usually a weekend interview (but I didn’t get it posted over the weekend, so…). Today we have Matthew Rattsifer, the author of Thirteen, the sequel to The Demon Journal. He’s been kind enough to answer some questions for us, so let’s dive right in.


J: Hello, Matthew. Can you tell us a little about Thirteen?

M: Firesouls: Thirteen is the concluding book to Firesouls: The Demon Journal.  I wanted to your typical story of taking what people consider the worst and make it the best.  Meaning I wanted to take people (or beings in this case) and make them the heroes.  I decided to create a group of a half-demon, a werewolf, an old-world gypsy, and a vampire that’s been around since the beginning of time.  Their mission in this book is to collect the thirteen crystal skulls to prevent others from using their powers to rule the world and to stop a forgotten God from taking over the Earth.

J: That sounds really intriguing. What inspired you to write it?

M:  In 2011 we went through a flood.  At the time we were living in a trailer.  Once the water receded we had no electric or hot water so all my money went to fuel for a generator to run the fridge and one light or the television.  At night we turned the light off so we could watch t.v.  I wasn’t able to buy new books to read to my kids so I began writing short stories for bed time.  Soon those stories got longer and longer, then because of everything we were going through I only saw the bad stuff in the world so I decided to write a story with bad guys as the good guys – thus the Demon Journal was created.

J:  It sounds like you were able to turn something negative into something positive. Speaking of positive, what was your favorite part of writing Firesouls: Thirteen?

M: Creating Asudem, the vampire.  She’s so unique, I had a lot of fun developing her character.

J: Is Asudem your favorite character, or does that honor belong to someone else?

M:  My all-time favorite character of this series would have to be Callisto, the gypsy.  She has mind control powers that give her the ability to control others or look into their minds.  She’s often referred to as the Mind Spider.  With those powers she can become intangible like a ghost, fly, and essentially be nearly immortal.

J: She does sound awesome. Did you have a least favorite part of writing the book?

M: In ‘the Thirteen’ there wasn’t really any of it I didn’t like to write.  I like looking into conspiracies and this book  is loaded with them, both church and government.  I had fun twisting them together.

J: What do you have planned next?

M: I’m finishing up my fourth book, ‘Chalk Hearts II’.  One of the main characters is a horror writer.  He’s well known for his ‘Justin Daemon’ series.  A vampire series.  I decided to create that series.  I’ve already got an outline for the first two books.

J: Wow! Sounds like you’re going to be busy! We know a lot about your book now, but what about you? Can you tell us one interesting thing about yourself before we go into the bonus round?

M: mmm, I don’t know if anyone will find this interesting or not, but when I write I play soundtracks.  With Demon Journal it was ‘the Craft’.  With ‘the Thirteen’, it was Men In Black.  With ‘Chalk Hearts’ I and II, it’s been Twilight.

J: That is interesting! I’ve always loved The Last Unicorn soundtrack. And now for the lightning round!

Favorite drink: Coke or Swiss sweet tea
Favorite cookie: Chip A Hoy chewy peanut butter cup
One weird habit: When I’m writing I gradually bring out more of the Fortnite characters I collect so by the time I’m done for the night the table is filled with a small army watching me.
Favorite dinosaur: the anklyosaurus because I think it looks like a spiked tank and who wants to mess with a spiked tank
Your spirit animal: Since I studied Druidry most of my life its a rat for my curiosity and an owl for the fact most of my life happens during the night

Thanks so much for coming to see us today, Matthew! And for the rest of you, thanks so much for stopping in. You can find Thirteen, and Matthew’s other books at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ratts.

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale


It’s time for the bi-yearly Smashwords Summer/Winter sale (It’s summer here but in the southern hemisphere it’s winter). I’ve had the series on multiple sales this year with the pandemic stuff, so I’m not enrolling any of them. However, I did put the Tales of the Executioners Collections up as free downloads. I may take them out part way through (the sale is July 1st through July 31st) and swap something else in, so better grab your deal sooner rather than later.

Get both Tales of the Executioners Collections here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/38513

Also, if you’re near Des Moines, I’ll be there for the Indie Author Expo July 11th and 12th. It’s a free event, so stop in and say hi!

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Interview with Margaret Marr

Happy Saturday! Today we have Margaret Marr with us, the author of the YA novel Creature.


J: Welcome, Margaret! Thanks for stopping in! Can you tell us a little about your book?

M: CREATURE is a young adult paranormal with a hint of romance. A group of teenagers decide to investigate a human-like creature living in the mountains of their hometown. As they dig deeper, they uncover secrets best left buried. Strange things roam the mountains of Hayton County where tourists, and sometimes locals go missing on a regular basis. Mandy, Abe, and the  high school science club risk danger to discover what’s going on, but exposing long buried secrets might not be in the best interest for two curious teenagers.

J: That sounds interesting! What inspired you to write it?

M: A picture, caught on a hunter’s trail-cam in the next county, showed a human-like creature crouching in the leaves starring into the camera. Its eyes glowed and it appeared to be anorexic. The picture was probably a hoax, but it captured my imagination and CREATURE was born.

J: I’m often inspired by visual things, too, so I think that’s awesome! What’s your favorite part of the story?

M: My favorite part is where Mandy and Abe settle in to try and catch a glimpse of the creature but are interrupted by the science club (a group of four nerds) who have the same thing in mind. They make so much noise that it becomes comical, but it’s the start of an unusual friendship between the characters.

J: That sounds fun! What was your least favorite part (if you have one)?

M:To be honest, I don’t have a least favorite part in CREATURE. I’m sure if I read through the novel again, I might find something I dislike, but not at this point.

J: That’s great to hear. My least favorite part is always the bit I had to edit the most, just because I’m sick of it, ha ha! Do you have a favorite character?

M: My favorite character would have to be Simon Rogers. He’s funny sarcastic, logical, and nothing much bothers him. He’s curious but cautious and is often the voice of reason.

J: That sounds like a fun character. What do you have planned next for us?

M: I’ve already published the second book in the Hayton County Supernatural Series, BANSHEE. A banshee is stalking Simon and he needs to figure out what it wants. This book also available for purchase. Now, I’m working on the third in the series called DEMON. Mandy becomes possessed with a demon who keeps leaving and coming back.

J: Awesome! Can you tell us something interesting about you or your book?

M: In the past year and a half, I’ve lost 95 pounds simply by cutting out sweets and junk food. I’m thinking about writing a weight loss book to inspire and encourage others to do the same. Feeling and being healthy is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

J: And now it’s time for the lightning round! Favorite Cookie?

M:  don’t eat cookies much anymore, but my favorite would be ooey-gooey chocolate chip.

J: Favorite Dinosaur?

M:  Does a dragon count as a dinosaur? If not, the brachiosaurus. It’s such a gentle giant, with big eyes and a cute face, but it can stomp you into the ground if threatened.

J: Your spirit animal?

M: Panther. I love the elusiveness of this animal and the fact that experts say it doesn’t exist in the mountains of Western North Carolina where I live. Yet, it’s been spotted and heard by numerous people, including me. I heard its scream once as child and have never forgotten it.


J: Thanks so much for saying hi today, Margaret! And thanks to all our readers for stopping in. You can find more of Margaret at the following places:

Website: http://margaretmarr.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margaretannmarr/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/margaretmarrauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/margaretmarr

Twitter: https://twitter.com/margaretmarr


And be sure to grab your copy of CREATURE: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088Y462K3



May Pop-Up Online Writer’s Conference

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With corona virus, lots of events have been canceled, delayed, or moved online, like the Writer’s Conference.Join us on May 30th on the FB event page from 10 am until 6 pm, central time, for live streams, giveaways, and so much more. The theme is, or course, how to write your book, from character naming to outlining. Enjoy free live talks, giveaways, free books, flash sales, Q&A, book cover sales, and featured authors.

Here’s the schedule:

  • 10:00 AM –Free books, prizes, and more!
  • 11:00 AM – Joleene Naylor
  • 12:00 PM – Marketplace Open
  • 1:00 PM – Flash Book Cover Sale
  • 2:00 PM – Live talk with author Brian K. Morris!
  • 3:00 PM – Q&A
  • 4:00 PM – Ben Clayton
  • 5:00 PM – Jenn Thompson

As you can see, I have the floor from 11 am until noon, so be sure to stop in and say hi! (Seriously, I need ya there!) I’ll also have two autographed sets of the Tales of the Executioners on sale for 18$ per set (that’s 10$ off the Amazon price!) As to the other participants, I’m not sure what they have planned, but I know it will be awesome because they are awesome!

So be sure to join the event and let’s have a great online conference!

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Smashwords Sale


Yeah, I’ve been pretty quiet since the whole pandemic thing started. I also held out on joining the Smashwords super Quarantine sale (They’re not calling it that, that’s just what I call it) because I have soooo many free things already (on Smashwords you could already get 51 free books/stories). But, I’ve finally broke down and you can get some of the books for free or at a deep discount:

As for the permanently free items, you can find them all on Smashwords as well.

Have a great day!

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Interview with Hakim LaRocca

Hello! Today we have an author interview with Hakim LaRocca, author of . Let’s dive right in!

IMG-0006J: Welcome, Hakim! Please tell us a little something about your book.

H: The book I am promoting I called Unplugged: DIY Retreat.  It is a hands-on book showing how couples can massage each other.  I have been doing massage for many years and I wanted to capture some simple and effective techniques for other people to enjoy their partner’s touch.  I show techniques using oil and also some without oil similar to a Thai yoga massage.  I’ve also included some fun recipes people can experiment with when they decide to cook a meal together.  So the whole concept is to have a delightful mini-retreat experience in the comfort of your home with your person.

J: That sounds awesome! What inspired you to write it?

H: I have always dabbled in writing from when I was in high school but that took more the shape of passing notes in the hallways (and yes, this is way before texting was invented lol).  However, my inspiration for writing this book came from a client who after having a massage with me suggested I write down my techniques and share it with people.  So that was the beginning of the writing adventure…

Unplugged coverJ: I remember those pre-texting days, too!  What was your favorite part of writing?

H: My favorite part was collaborating with the amazing people that helped me put it all together.  My sister Gabriella La Rocca and Urania Bellos did the editing to make me sound like I knew what I was talking about, Joanne Corrigal made the magical photos, Cara Cox put the book together and the talented Kaya Bryce was my model.

J: That does sound like fun. What was your least favorite?

H: The waiting for the final product, it felt like I was a kid outside the toystore waiting for it to open so I could have a look at the newest toy.

J: I understand that! What do you have planned next?

H: I just finished a manuscript which is now in the editing process.  This particular book deals more with people’s own personal life journeys, some of which are inspiring and some will bring tears to your eyes.

IMG-0124 (1)J: That sounds awesome. Can you tell us one interesting thing about yourself or your book.

H: I also do horse massage.  I learned it while living in CapeTown, South Africa and it is such a tremendous experience to be so close to these magnificent creatures.

J: Okay, and speaking of interesting things, now it’s time for the Flash Fun Round!

J: Favorite drink? 

H: coffee & Belgium beer

J: Last vacation? 

H: I honestly feel like my life is one big vacation since I have been traveling and living in different countries for many years.  But I guess the standard answer would be last year when I went to Amsterdam to visit some friends.

J: Last text you sent?

H: To my girlfriend wishing her a kick-ass day!

J: Favorite cookie?

H: chocolate chip with walnuts

J: One weird habit?

H: Drinking a beer while taking a shower.

J: Paper or plastic?

H: Sorry my eco-friendly friends but I like both paper and plastic.

IMG_3034J: You can find more of Hakim’s flash fun answers in March’s newsletter! In the meantime, thanks so much for coming to hang out with us today! You can find more of Hakim on Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram!


And of course, you can find me on Facebook (Hakim La Rocca) and Instagram (@hakimlarocca)

A Different Time – FREE short story

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Now you don’t need to be a newsletter subscriber to read Oren’s and Etsuko’s short story for FREE!


It’s been two years since Lilith was defeated. Oren and Etsuko have settled down to raise the twins. Though Oren’s old fashioned sensibilities say it’s not official until they’re married, he’s painfully aware that the world – and women – have changed. Can he figure out how to pop the question in this “different time”, or will it be a disaster?

Get your FREE copy today!*

Smashwords | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble

*Sadly not available on Amazon because they won’t let me set the price to free. 😦

Phoenix People by Jan Pauw

Today’s excerpt is from the novel Phoenix People by Jan Pauw


Mark was a self-made billionaire but now is in prison after losing his wealth, reputation, marriage and freedom. Katy, a graduate student in forensic psychology, wants to do a PhD dissertation on his case.

At first Mark talks only about his business. Gradually he opens up about his family, friends and associates, trying to persuade Katy that he was a kind and caring husband, father, friend and mentor who did nothing wrong.

Katy is skeptical. She assumes he is manipulative and unreliable.

Mark thinks she is a naïve, affluent dilettante, but something seems odd about her. Slowly she reveals a terrible childhood and troubled adolescence. He becomes obsessed with her, but this frightens her and drives them further apart. They overcome distrust and misunderstandings as they learn about each other and themselves.

Their story is told mostly through letters they exchanged over several years and Katy’s notes and transcripts of meetings in prison. Katy also provides a brief introduction and a final chapter explaining how they eventually found mutual respect, admiration and affection.

Set up:

Mark keeps trying to persuade Katy that he is a kind and caring person who handled many business and family problems with great compassion. In this excerpt, he describes a time when he and his wife Cindy found their 17 year-old daughter hosting a skinny dipping and pot party at their lakefront mansion. (“Buddy” refers to one of Mark’s political proteges, a Congressman who later has an affair with Cindy.)


In late August 1991, shortly before Julie left for college, Cindy and I came home one evening and found five or six cars in the driveway. Julie and her friends were out on the dock and in the lake. There were beer bottles all over, piles of clothes here and there, kids skinny dipping. Julie saw me, giggled, handed me a cookie and said, “Have one.” Several kids laughed.

“What’s in ‘em?” asked Cindy.

“They’re A-B-T-Rs,” one of the kids said, giggling again.

“A-B-T-Rs?” I asked.

“Alice B. Toklas recipe,” said Julie.

“Pot,” said Cindy.

“Shit,” I said. Several kids snuffed out what they were smoking.

“Dad, I’m not a smoker so I can’t suck it in far enough or hold it in long enough to do any good, so I use the edibles, most of us do. Try one.”

“No, Julie, you know how I feel about that stuff.” I handed the cookie back and started to leave. Then I turned around and came back. “Listen, you guys, and that includes you girls too. I wish you hadn’t done this, but here we are, and now I’m worried about how you’re gonna get home safely. Most of you probably want to get your clothes back on and leave, but please don’t drive out of here drunk or high. Stay all night if you want, or at least stay long enough so be safe driving home. Or have the security guards drive you home.”

Cindy went in the house and I went to talk to the security guards. “There’s some kids out there that look pretty, ah, impaired.”

“We know, Boss. We didn’t know what we should do about it. What should we have done?”

“I don’t know. But try not to let them drive out of here if they seem drunk or high. Give them coffee or something. Drive them home if they’ll let you.”

I went in the house and got in bed. Cindy said, “She’s right you know. If you’re not a regular smoker and somebody gives you a joint, it’s hard to suck it in far enough and hold it in long enough to get any effect.”

“And you know this how?”

“By trying it, of course.”

“When you were a kid?”

“No, last month after Buddy’s fundraiser.” Another warning sign I missed.

“Was he smoking pot?”

“No. He said he promised you not to smoke it in the US until it was legal, and to tell you he’d kept that promise.”

“Oh, well, that part’s good.” I stared at the ceiling. “But this thing with Julie tonight, it’s so hard. I try to be a good father, and then this kind of shit comes along. What should I do now?”

“Go to sleep.”

“Cindy, this isn’t a joke. I really want to do the right thing, but what would that be?”

“I wasn’t joking. I know you try hard, but maybe too hard sometimes? Just relax. You’re usually so positive, so optimistic. Just be yourself. It’ll all be alright.” She rolled over and went to sleep. I stared at the ceiling for a long time, with a piece of song looping through my head:

“Try not to worry, try not to hang on to

“Problems that upset you, oh yes

“Everything’s all right, yes, everything’s fine,

“And we want you to sleep well tonight …”

Is it possible to try too hard to be good?

Get your copy today from:

 Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=jan+pauw&rh=n%3A154606011&ref=nb_sb_noss

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1136362993?ean=2940163462391


About the author:

 I graduated from Shoreline High School in 1962, the University of Washington (B.A. English, 1966) and the Stanford Law School (J.D. 1969). At Stanford I was President of the Legal Aid Society and became interested in poverty law and other issues of the poor, but also interested in real estate, business and finance. After law school I went to work for Weyerhaeuser Company, expecting to work in those fields but quickly drifting into environmental and natural resources law. I retired in 2006.This is the first fiction I have written.

Weeping Hemlock

New for patrons of any level. Get the gothic horror story Weeping Hemlock free. You can also still scroll through older posts and grab Jorick’s origin story if you haven’t gotten it yet.

Free stories aren’t the only thing. $1 patrons get listed in the dedications of everything I publish, as well as getting the Amaranthine Unlocked posts early (and they get the short stories meant for publication sent to them first, though I won’t lie, I haven’t written many of those lately).

The 5$ tier gets that plus everything I write, as I write it, false starts, backtracks, and all, ha ha! It’s a lot of fun, so come say hi!

Hope to see you there! And if you have a request for the Unlocked posts, let me know. Otherwise we’ll keep on with the gender swap Shades of Gray.

  • Tales of the Executioners

    Short stories from the world of Amaranthine; a universe of blood and darkness where vampires don't sparkle and night is eternal. Each is about a member of the Executioners squad; the special vampire "police" force. Members both past and present share stories of assignments, origins, and more.

    Dark, light, love, laughter, death...you never know what you'll find in the shadows.

    Get your copy today!

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  • Joleene Naylor

    Joleene Naylor

    An independent author, freelance artist, and photographer for fun who loves anime, music, and writing. Check out my vampire series Amaranthine at http://JoleeneNaylor.com or drop me a line at Joleene@JoleeneNaylor.com

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