Spotlight & Excerpt: Umbra + Giveaway

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Umbra
by Yana Barbelo
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror

 

Ohno Hoia is a custodian of a mysterious collection of seeds and a lonely soul tormented by her hideous, malignant shadow. What world did she come from? What century? She can’t remember. She is a stranger to herself, a God’s mistake.
 
Driven by the desperate wish to break free from the shadow and save the seeds, Ohno arrives at present-day California’s desecrated shores. There she plants a garden the likes of which had not been seen since the days of Eden. While the garden’s extraordinary power shocks humanity out of despair and transforms the land, Ohno’s shadow grows fiercer and soon begins to threaten everything she holds dear. Now Ohno has no choice but to follow her tormentor as it takes her into the surreal, terrifying wilderness of her own soul – The Forest of Everlasting Night.
 
There she must meet the demons of her own making and ask the question she is dreading most: Who am I?

Praise:

“A chilling and deeply psychological horror work that forces us all to face the deepest fears of our souls…” ~K.C. Finn, Readers’ Favorite 

A spellbinding blend of horror and satire perfect for fans of Clive Barker,” ~”Midian Unmade,” Haruki Murakami, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman.

Dark fantasy at its best, Umbra is a story that is symbolic, fertile in the interpretations it allows readers… A spellbinding story that had me enthralled and completely pulled in. This is a story for readers who are seekers.” ~Romuald Dzemo, Readers’ Favorite

I never read anything so beautiful and unnerving at the same time. Yana Barbelo crafts a tale that is imaginative yet intriguing, delighting readers and frightening them at the same time. The writing is incomparable… You need to read this story to discover its beauty.” ~Ruffina Oserio, Readers’ Favorite

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umbra - excerpt

In the beginning was the Darkness: formless, empty, and alone. And its name was Umbra.

And Umbra the Darkness said, “Let there be a seed.” And there was a seed. And Umbra saw that the seed was good, and she let it grow.

The seed grew and became a body, and Umbra saw that the body was beautiful, and she called it Woman.

Then Umbra the Darkness said, “Here is Woman. She is my daughter. Let the air become her breath. Let the water become her blood. Let the stones become her bones. Let the fire become her life.” And it came to be so. And Umbra saw that it was good.

Then she blessed the Woman and said, “Go to every corner of the earth, sail every sea, cross every forest. Hunt with wolves, fly with birds, dance with all my demons. When you find the Sons of Stars, lie with them, and make them many.” And the Woman did so, and it was good.

Then Umbra the Darkness said, “Let there be a great light inside the Woman to shine upon the world, its every sea, and every forest, and every Son of every Star.” And it came to be so. The Woman’s light grew. Bigger and bigger it grew, and it became vast. And the Darkness shrank. Smaller and smaller it shrank, and it became tiny. And there came morning, the First Dawn.

Then the Woman rose and saw all that the Darkness had made, and She saw that it was very good!

And the Woman said, “Let the Darkness return to rest behind my eyes, to be my shadow, to lead me, and to follow.” And so it came to be. The Darkness returned, and the evening came, the First Night

Yana Barbelo is a Russian-American writer, illustrator, psychiatrist. She is fascinated with fringes, edges, brinks, and all manner of liminality. She writes Literary Horror/Weird fiction, which explores the darkest contradictions of human nature.
 
 
 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
 
$20 Amazon gift card,
A set of 5 bookmarks with illustrations/quotes from the book,
A canvas tote bag with illustrations/quotes from the book
– 1 winner!

Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Books of Very Bad Thing + Giveaway

Madam Howell's book of very bad things


The Books of Very Bad Things: Vol. 1

by Jae El Foster

Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Horror

Date Published: Dec. 1, 2020

Publisher: DCL Publications

Journey into a land of fairy tales like none you’ve ever experienced before with this baker’s dozen of original and often horrific fanciful treats! Madame Howell, the world’s greatest witch, will lead you through some of the most unique journeys into the Enchanted Forest, through great castles and villages, and even into uncanny realms of newly imagined dangers in her ‘Book of Very Bad Things.’ Featuring many elements from classical fairy tales while paying homage to the imaginations of the Brothers Grimm, this deliciously sinister volume delivers its own unique versions of true love and the all important ‘happily ever after.’ Within, you’ll discover dark changelings, wicked queens, houses of snakes, disobedient children, the world’s tiniest people, vicious goblins and dwarfs, a baker with a taste for blood, and so much more. Settle back and fall under the wicked spell of this dastardly and mesmerizing journey into the darkest realms of fairy tales and folklore.

Purchase Links

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Madame Howell's book of very bad things

Excerpts

 

From the story ‘The Woman with Wings’

Once upon a summer afternoon, a brother and sister went frolicking in the woods, in search of berries and wildflowers. Their parents were long dead, and so it was up to them to scavenge for their food every day. They enjoyed making games of it, like chasing one another through the winding forest paths or even pelting each other with berries that were rotten on the stems.

It was raining on this particular afternoon, and the siblings became wet and muddy as they played and hunted their food and foliage.

Sister,” the brother called in warning as she glided swiftly across the slick mud, “ye shouldn’t run so fast near there! That hill be steep!”

Bah!” she squealed, giggled, and spun around in a circle. “It’s lovely to slip and slide! Join me!” She squealed again and spun once more. Then, she lost her footing and tumbled backward. Brother watched as she fell off the ledge, tumbling down the hill.

Sister!” he shouted and then slipped and slid his way to her in a hurried but cautious manner. “Sister, are ye alright?”

Brother looked over the ledge, staring down as he watched his sister roll to the foot of the hill. He began after her but came to a pause as a winged creature swooped down from the sky and gathered Sister into its grip. In the blink of an eye, the creature swooped upward again with Sister in tow.

Sister!” he cried out again and watched as the creature carried his sister to the great forbidden mountain, which was a good day’s trek away by foot.

Distraught, the brother contemplated how to save his twin sister. He knew he would have to venture to the forbidden mountain and climb its dangerous terrain. Once he found his sister, he would also find the creature that had taken her. Surely, a battle would ensue. Before going after his sister, he had to be well prepared.

From the story ‘Jacob and the People Tree’

Today, for the first time, he decided to bypass that lovely and relaxing stone. He wasn’t by any means tired or ready to relax or nap. He felt energized and chipper, and he was surrounded by his woodland friends… his only friends, but friends who welcomed him into their domain with seemingly open arms.

Oiko, doiko, ba dunk dunk dunk,” he sang cheerfully to himself as he strolled down the path – a path that grew narrower the further he walked. “Watch out for the stinky skunk!” It was a silly song he sang – one he’d made up long ago on a walk such as this, where he’d encountered a skunk that fortunately hadn’t stunk.

As the path grew narrower and the forest thicker, everything became darker – shrouded in shadows. Several of the flowers and plants nearby glowed when shadowed, and they helped to make the scenery more mystical and brighter. Never before had he seen such glowing plants as these. They were remarkable and glowed softly in a vast array of color. He knelt down to one such flower and sniffed it, wondering if it smelled as marvelous as it looked. It was, indeed, the sweetest scent he’d inhaled in perhaps forever.

He stood and sighed. It felt like he’d found a sort of nirvana – a land of beauty and wonder. It was so magical that he yearned to bring a part of its splendor home with him. Crouching down once more, he leaned to the flower he’d sniffed and started to pluck it.

I wouldn’t do that if I were ye,” he heard a voice say. It startled him, and Jacob unhanded the flower and stood upright.

Turning around, he looked for the voice’s source but saw no one. Deciding it had been nothing more than his imagination playing some tomfoolery on him, he shrugged it off and turned back to the flower.

Ye should never pick anything from here,” the voice spoke again, and once more, Jacob turned around to see its speaker.

Again, there was nobody.

Perhaps I am going mad,” he contemplated aloud and then chuckled. “Ah well… being so lonely can do that to a man, I imagine.”

Mad!” another voice noted, mimicking what Jacob had said. Whilst the first voice had sounded male, this one sounded like the voice of an old woman. “Ye will know mad if ye pick one flower from this path!”

Who said that?” Jacob asked, looking all around. Still, he saw no one. For a moment, he considered he was hearing the voices of ghosts, but if a ghost was going to speak, surely it would have shown itself. “Where are ye?”

Everything was quiet again as he sought for the mysterious voices. He looked all around and even down low, but he could find nobody. When he was about to give up in his search and leave this place behind, he heard giggling from above.

From the story ‘The Baker’s Dozen’

He lifted her into his arms and carried her up the road to the bakery. Once they were inside, he sat her on a stool and grabbed some cloths from the back. With one of the cloths, he cleaned the blood from the wound. The other, he tied around her leg, putting pressure on the cut and stopping the bleeding.

Oh, Mister Baker, I do not know how to thank thee,” she said to him as he stepped away to throw the bloody rag into a pile with other dirty rags. “I cannot imagine anyone else showing me such kindness.”

He noticed he’d gotten some of her blood on his fingers as he’d cleaned the wound. He stared at his fingers for a moment and then rubbed the blood between them. Coyly, he sniffed them. The blood had a unique scent to it – one that he’d never really thought of before. Curiously, he licked a bit from a finger and tasted it. It was surprisingly sweet and delicious.

I do not know what I would have done had ye not come around,” the young woman continued from the front room. “Everything felt so dire! Ye be a saving grace for certain!”

Think nothing of it,” he said slowly and almost too lowly for her to hear as he looked at the remaining blood on his fingers. Swiftly, he licked the rest away. “Ye may need to have that sewn up.”

It will be fine,” she replied as he stepped back into the room. “I have come to accept some things.” She smiled. Her words were curious, but he thought she was lovely, even if she did have a few additional cuts and scabs on her face and hands. Her blood was immaculate though… delicious.

Nourishment first,” he told her and took a piece of pound cake from his counter top and handed it to her. “Eat this. Ye must be hungry.”

How gracious!” the peasant exclaimed and accepted the pound cake. A moan slipped from her lips as she ate it.

Also from the counter, the baker took his bread knife. While the woman was distracted with her treat, he came around behind her and pulled her hair back. The knife sliced through her neck before she had a chance to make a sound. When she did try to scream, it was low and gargled.

From the story ‘A Heart Unfrozen’

At the moment, the Queen sat upon her ‘traveling throne’ on the platform that stood as a political stage in the center of the village square. Two young lovebirds stood before her, each with a guard positioned behind them. They were guilty of kissing behind the castle and had been caught by Mathavious, Queen Estella’s most entrusted guard.

I see no use in debating this matter,” the Queen said to the charged. “Ye shall lose yer heads. Guards!” She looked toward the uniformed men standing behind prisoners. “Take them to the chopping blocks!”

The executioner’s chopping blocks sat several meters away from where the Queen was currently perched on the platform. Nearly everyone in the village was present for the event, as it was mandatory for many who were in attendance. The platform itself had been built in such a way that no matter how an execution was performed, it could in some way be seen by anyone and everyone, from presumably any angle.

As expected, the accused protested their sentencing, but Queen Estella had heard it all before. Every sob story – every excuse plausible. None were forgivable, as she had made blatantly clear over the years. Her rules were not to be broken, and those who did were subject to punishment.

The young man and his young female lover were forced down onto the chopping blocks, and one by one, the royal executioner silenced their pleas as he chopped off their heads.

Down to the audience, the heads rolled. For a moment, they stared up at the spectators and blinked repeatedly until their brains finally died. Then, their expressions went still – frozen in time.

Would anyone else care to lose their head today?” Queen Estella asked in a loud and enthusiastic tone as she stood tall and prominently. “I would like enjoy my midday tea as quickly as possible, so please… do speak now if ye have done anything blatantly unforgiving. I will not be so kind and yer deaths will not be so swift if I find out someone is withholding their guilt.”

 

About the Author


When the muses speak, Jae El Foster writes, and he has been doing so for nearly twenty years, tackling some of the most intriguing genres out there. Delivering fresh, incomparable tales of horror, science fiction, and romance – sweet or spicy – he pens with seasoned skill the tales that his muses deliver to him. His bestselling works include the paranormal romance ‘Restless,’ the gothic horror tale ‘Where the Demon Is,’ and the gay holiday romance ‘Only at Christmas.’ Follow him on Instagram @jaeelbooks and ‘like’ him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authorjaeelfoster.

Contact Links

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Blog

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Instagram: @jaeelbooks

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RABT Book Tours & PR

Spotlight & Excerpt: The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel + Giveaway

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This is my stop during the blog tour for The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel by K.T. Rose. The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel is a new standalone supernatural horror book.

The Haunting of Gallagher HotelThe Haunting of Gallagher Hotel
By K.T. Rose
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 4 November 2020

Pride and greed infect the soul, anchoring the dead to Gallagher Hotel.

When Chris, a master thief, and Riley, a contract waitress, get mysterious invites to an exclusive party at the haunted Gallagher Hotel, they discover that there is more at play than simple celebrations.

Hidden truths are revealed, and all hell breaks loose. But the “party” has just begun.

Now, Chris and Riley face their demons as they fight to survive a hellish nightmare full of spoiled secrets, carnage, and vengeful spirits lost to the hotel dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Will they survive the night? Or will their souls be devoured by the most haunted building in Michigan?

You can find The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel on Goodreads

You can buy The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel here on Amazon

Excerpt:

She’ll never forget the day she died.

Torch flames lit up the town’s square, illuminating scowling and shouting faces. They launched stones and spit, pegging Trudy’s arms and face as she trudged through the abhorrent mob. Trudy cringed when a pebble struck her cheek. Pain erupted, shooting through her face like lightning striking the earth.
Deputy Hill yanked her arm, leading her through the narrow path the townspeople opened up. Fists balled, Trudy groaned as the rope around her wrists dug into her skin. Her bare feet picked up glass shards and debris from the cobblestone path as she shuffled along.

She glared around at the angry faces and recognized the men, women, and children of Holloway. She’d done more for them than any God before her. Many of those people owned the very businesses that lined the stone slab she marched across that night. Building and financing the rows of wooden businesses lining the town’s square accounted for half the things she’d done for Holloway. She fed the hungry, made clothes for cold children, and taught woman’s independence. The ever-growing list of the townspeople’s wants was endless. At one point, she didn’t mind the busy work. Fulfilling dreams of the once poor town kept her boisterous and distracted from her bitter reality. Trudy was Holloway’s personal shepherd, making the people her needy sheep.
Hands snagged at her lavender tea gown, adding dirty prints to the blood drops and grime from the beatings in that putrid cell. She glared at the bare-faced man towering over her. The brim of his Deputy hat cast a thick shadow, hiding his dark eyes and pale face.

Deputy would miss her. She was sure of it. He got off on the assaults that bruised her face. His heavy fists pounded her bones and scraped her skin until she confessed. And even her confession, he continued with his evening visits, slamming her body into cinder block walls and passing off open-handed blows to her nose, cheeks and eyes.

Trudy sighed. A bath with lavender and Epsom salt sounded good for the swelling. She didn’t realize how bloated and purple her once beautiful, smooth, fair skin had become until she passed by the picture window in front of the town’s jail just before they began her walk of shame.

Even then, her face pulsed with intense hurt. Pain shot through it whenever she winced.

The sea of convictions roared, growing louder as she drew closer to the opposite end of the square.

“Adulterer,” yelled a woman.

“Traitor,” screeched a boy.

“Murderer,” said a pot-bellied man.

Their accusations sent a sickening jolt through her bones. She watched the path underneath her slowing feet, fighting back tears.

How could they turn on me like this?

“Why’d you do it?” Trudy glared over her shoulder to find the small voice. Off to the right, a pale, round-faced girl sobbed. Arms across her belly, she grasped the sides of her smock dress: one of Trudy’s latest designs. She released it to Mary and Belle’s Boutique not even a month prior. “I looked up to you,” the girl shouted.

Trudy froze. The child would never understand. Holding the girl’s crying eyes in her own, Trudy thought, I did this for you.

She caught the faces of women shouting and screeching, advocating her death.

I did it for all of you.

“Eyes front!” Deputy said; his authoritative baritone struck Trudy in the gut. She frowned and did what she was told: eyes forward; just like the man demanded.  She watched her last stop approach in that ungrateful, dying town. After all the fighting, this is how it ends. She swallowed the ball in her throat, bowed her head, and pressed on.

With every step, she drew closer to the burnt building just beyond the angry mob. Charred and blackened, there it sat, blending with the night beyond the crowd’s orange flames. It moved her to tears to see her building reduced to rubble. The roof caved in, falling through the attic and second floor. The blast left the double-paned windows bare, with nothing to see inside but burnt walls and a black staircase. A crooked beam leaned over the arched door frame where the door held onto the bottom hinges as the top had burned away.
She scoffed. The people got creative, tying the noose to the end of the beam. Underneath it, a wooden crate.

“You people are about to make a serious mistake,” Trudy hissed.

“You should save your breath for your last words,” Deputy said. He led her to the crate. “Step up,” he said.

Legs shaking, she placed a bare foot on the crate and hauled herself up. The ground seemed miles below. Her head lightened and the jitters threatened to knock her onto the charred floor that used to be the honey waxed porch outside the front door.

“Turn around,” Deputy said.

Trudy turned and faced the prosecuting crowd. She grunted when a stone slammed into her forehead, pushing her off balance. She caught her footing and fought to stand straight as a heavy dizziness whipped around her head.
A cluster of women, including her sisters Belle and Mary, stood amongst the mob. Their faces, glossed in tears, glimmered in the flickering lights. They held her glance for what felt like hours, their eyes begging for an answer.

Trudy had an answer for what she did but didn’t see the need in telling them. It was already too late.

Slowly, they turned and pushed their way through the excited crowd, sauntering off in their fine silk lampshade tunics. Trudy remembered the day she’d bought those for them. She bought the boutique and the bakery for the girls, as well. Her heart raced as she cried. She expected backlash from the town, but never from Mary and Belle. As she watched her sisters leave her behind, Trudy went dead inside for the third and final time in her life.

Deputy pulled the loop over her head and tightened the knot, fastening it. Her throat shrank and butterflies circled her belly. Through heavy gasps, she said, “You know this town wouldn’t have grown without me.”

Deputy stepped back and faced the crowd. He pulled a note from his trouser pocket and opened it. Then, he reached into the breast pocket of his deputy button up and pulled his reading glasses free. He placed them on his face and looked over the note.

“You—you people wanted to bring money into this town,” Trudy yelled. “I caught the train over to Detroit and made connections that brought the money here! You people wanted Mayor Tucker out of office. I made him disappear! I paid the price to make Holloway the train-stop town that it is today! I made it Saloon Alley! While you people collected money from tourists and travelers, I was out there making deals that made us rich!”

“Quiet, whore,” a man shouted.

“Hang the killer,” a woman yelled.

Deputy cleared his throat and raised a hand. The crowd fell silent.

“Trudy Mona Lisa Gallagher, you have been charged with the following crimes against the town of Holloway, Michigan: destruction of property, conspiracy to commit murder, murder, and arson. You have been formally convicted by the people of Holloway and I, Sheriff Deputy Davidson Lee Hill. You were not allowed a trial as Judge Benjamin Rowles, District Attorney Allen Clyde Albright, and Sheriff Peter Kyle Louis have all perished on this very spot along with Michigan’s Governor Brighton James Fisher, Mayor Richard Tucker, Mrs. Louise Fisher, Mrs. Patricia Tucker, Mrs. Madeleine Albright, and Mrs. Freda Albany Louis.”

The mob gasped and fell into hushed chatter.

“Also, amongst the dead are nineteen souls including the hotel’s waitstaff, maids, pianist, and bartender. I am sad to say that this will haunt Holloway forever.

“Our investigation concluded that you planted homemade explosives and barred those poor souls inside. You are sentenced to death by hanging on the grounds where your explosions claimed innocent lives. All that stand witness, aside from the townspeople of Holloway, are your two sisters, Mary Karen Welch and Belle Leanora Roth. Your husband, Ulysses Gallagher, God rest his soul, must flip and twist in his grave. He died in the muds of enemy territory for all of us. How you can defy him with your heinous behavior is beyond me.” He moved his eyes from his note and onto the mob. “Trudy Gallagher has lain with politicians and bootleggers alike to push her own sinister agenda. She poisoned the streets of Holloway with hooch, prostitutes, thieves, and brawlers. She is an illness to this town and needs to be extinguished before she harms anyone else.”

He turned to Trudy. “You are a disgrace, and, in my opinion, hanging isn’t enough of a punishment. I wanted the firing squad to take you down.” He flexed his neck and huffed. “However, after days of deliberation by the people of Holloway, this is the conclusion to your life of manipulation, greed, and murder.

“Reverend Pillars wanted to say a prayer for you, but the people would rather not waste any more time. But they will grant you your last words, an attempt at getting an explanation, perhaps. What say you?”

Tears fell down her face. The taunting and accusations made her chest swell. She inhaled deep and pushed a weak breath through her shaking lips. She understood the risks associated with her lifestyle. Keeping up with deals and tracking lies day in and day out was enough to drive anyone mad. But the rewards and freedom that came along with those risks changed her for the better. Trudy became the most powerful woman in Holloway. The reward was well deserved, and in the name of Ulysses, she’d claim the crown even after death.

“Did you hear me?” Deputy asked.

She smirked.

The people groaned and gasped.

Deputy cleared his throat. “Murder is funny to you?”

She sighed and shook her head. “No.” She looked him in the eye. “But I’ve begged no one for anything before, and I won’t start now. Those people deserved what they got and if I had another chance, I’d do it again. No one stands in my way. Not you, not these people, and not the bastards who blew up.” She scoffed. “In fact, if I had the chance, I’d do the same to all you ungrateful imbeciles.” She glared at the faces of her persecutors. Faces that trusted her before. Faces she strived to keep happy. Faces that could burn in hell alongside the others. “I always win, and when you all go to sleep tonight, I want my words to sit deep in your conscience. I don’t beg.” She narrowed her eyes. “I take,” she growled.

Deputy nodded, disdain across his face. It tickled Trudy’s heart to see him disappointed. He might take her life, but he’d never hear her apologize. He didn’t deserve it, and neither did they.

“Burn in hell,” he said.

Cheers filled the square as Deputy kicked the crate, sweeping it from underneath her.

Her body dropped and the sound of snapping bones erupted in her ears.

KT RoseAbout the Author:
K.T. Rose is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a suspenseful short story series titled Trinity of Horror, an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing, and A Dark Web Horror Series. She also writes supernatural and paranormal horror novels and short stories.

You can find and contact K.T. Rose here:
Website
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Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel. Three winners will each win a t-shirt, 2 bookmarks, and a $10 Amazon gift card.The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel giveaway prizeFor a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 1 till 15 December. See the tour schedule here.