Unspoken Horror, by Mary Parker, Author of The Endless Hallway | #DarkFiction #Horror #Book @Sirens_Call

Unspoken Horror: Postpartum Depression

by Mary Parker

As a lifelong horror fan, I’m used to seeing all kinds of horrors, be it monsters, violence, or otherworldly. Even psychological horrors run amuck (one of my personal favorites). I also find horror therapeutic. After watching a horror film or reading a horror book or story, I feel a sense of release. When I went into recovery for postpartum depression and anxiety, I looked for horror films and fiction that identified with that pain. There weren’t many to be found.

Sure, there’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” But that was written in the late 1800s. I couldn’t find anything more modern. There are lots of horror films that feature mothers in peril or evil babies, or evil/murderous mothers, but that wasn’t quite was I was looking for either. I wanted something that identified the horrors of a new mother’s own mind and showed her triumphant. It seemed that there was an unspoken horror in the genre – and culture at large.

Postpartum depression is not widely talked about, despite being one of the most common birth complications. Recent studies show that between 15-20% of mothers will experience postpartum depression. If left untreated, the condition can worsen, leading to postpartum psychosis. This is, unfortunately, where most media about postpartum depression can be found: true crime. The effects of the illness can be devastating. Research has suggested that there is approximately a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness.

As a young mother, I knew plenty of women around my age who had children. I was, seemingly, the only one who had these feelings. So, I set out to write down my story. I would embellish the more horrific moments, of course, but the heart of the story is my truth. The heart of the story is my experience with postpartum depression. We need truth in our fiction. I wanted to show how the best, most rewarding experience of your life can also be the most challenging. I wanted to show the very real, dark thoughts a mother can have. I wanted readers to experience how deeply depraved a mother’s brain can get. I also wanted to show the depths she can bring herself up from. I wanted to show that a mother’s love can conquer all.

We need to speak about these things; we need to break the stigma around them so women can have better access to help and resources.

I have more friends and acquaintances that are mothers than I can count. Yet only one of them was open with her struggles with postpartum depression. When I finished writing The Endless Hallway, I asked her to read the draft. She told me that she was making her husband read it because the story exemplified all the horrible things she felt – and how she rallied against them to stay alive for her family.

That’s all I really want for The Endless Hallway. I want the novella to be a light and a safe space for mothers who live in the darkness. I want mothers who have overcome their demons to see themselves truthfully represented in horror fiction. But most of all, I want the world at large to experience the very real horrors life has to offer.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, help is available. Go to postpartum.net or text HELP to 800-944-4773

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The Endless Hallway, by Mary Parker

Molly has it all: a good job, a handsome husband, and a beautiful new baby. Her life is everything she once hoped it would be. But something sinister lurks within the walls of her tiny townhouse.

A strange voice echoes from the darkness as Molly rocks her infant to sleep. Lights that were left on suddenly turn off. In the middle of the night, a thin, pale arm reaches over the rails of the crib to grasp for the baby with fierce, jagged claws.

Are the visions that haunt Molly a subconscious warning or something far more vicious?

The Endless Hallway is currently available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | The Netherlands | Japan | Canada | Australia

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Mary Parker is a horror author and journalist from Southern Illinois. She has worked for examiner.com and horrornews.net. A collection of short stories, Predilection, was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in the anthologies Vampires Aren’t Pretty and Slaughter House: The Serial Killer Edition, Vol. 2. Her story, Sweet Nightmares, placed in the top 100 of Wattpad’s Horror Contest sponsored by TNT. She is a proud contributor to, supporter of, ans past ambassador of Women in Horror Month. Visit her Amazon Author Page at: Mary Parker.

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‘Fictionalized Reality’ by Mary Parker, #author of The Endless Hallway | #horror #DarkFiction #Book #GuestEssay @Sirens_Call

Fictionalized Reality

by Mary Parker

The Endless Hallway is a novella about a young mother’s struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety (PPDA). It is my story.

Well, a fictionalized version of my reality.

While in therapy to recover from PPDA, I spoke with my therapist about the story I was writing. I tend to start everything as a short story – that keeps the pressure off. I was dealing with so much internal pressure already; I didn’t want to add lofty ambitions like novella or novel. We brainstormed and troubleshot the ideas I had. I was stuck on the ending – or, rather, I didn’t know where the story should go. At the time, I wanted Molly to conquer the monster because I desperately needed to conquer my own mental illnesses.

“What would be the benefits of having this monster captive?” my therapist asked me.

I had no answer. I was wrapped up in putting my life on the page, to purge the darkness from my psyche. I desperately wanted life to imitate the art I was creating. But that’s not how life works. I got stuck. Writer’s block for months. My PPDA relapsed.

As I started back up the mountain of recovery, the ending of The Endless Hallway revealed itself to me. I decided to document the two weeks of my life over holiday break in my notes app. I would make little observations of what happened each day and weave the monster into those days.

It was not difficult to toe the line between reality and fiction. In a lot of ways, I am Molly, but not totally. For example, I never felt the urge to harm my daughter. My husband is not Cory (he is much more active in my life than the character is in the story – this is because Molly feels completely isolated). I tried to keep the most intimate details of our life private, but the darkness of PPDA stains the pages of my life and the novella.

In all, I was in recovery for nine months, from the time my daughter was six months old. I wrote the novella during that time, over my lunch breaks at work. I poured my heart into this book. Every dark thought, every depraved dream, I bled onto the page. I also let my love and devotion for my husband and daughter flood the pages. They are, without a doubt, the best things that ever happened to me. They are my everything.

I think that writers put a piece of themselves into everything they write. I think you must to be able to create – there is a truthful base for everything. But for this novella, there was no other way than to put my life, my thoughts, my sickness, into words. Thankfully, my husband approved everything I wrote. It helped him understand what I was going through, like I hope this novella will help the public better understand PPDA. We can create our own destinies, like I created the perfect world to house my monsters.

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The Endless Hallway
Mary Parker

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Molly has it all: a good job, a handsome husband, and a beautiful new baby. Her life is everything she once hoped it would be. But something sinister lurks within the walls of her tiny townhouse.

A strange voice echoes from the darkness as Molly rocks her infant to sleep. Lights that were left on suddenly turn off. In the middle of the night, a thin, pale arm reaches over the rails of the crib to grasp for the baby with fierce, jagged claws.

Are the visions that haunt Molly a subconscious warning or something far more vicious?

The Endless Hallway is currently available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | The Netherlands | Japan | Canada | Australia

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Mary Parker is a horror author and journalist from Southern Illinois. She has worked for examiner.com and horrornews.net. A collection of short stories, Predilection, was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in the anthologies Vampires Aren’t Pretty and Slaughter House: The Serial Killer Edition, Vol. 2. Her story, Sweet Nightmares, placed in the top 100 of Wattpad’s Horror Contest sponsored by TNT. She is a proud contributor to, supporter of, ans past ambassador of Women in Horror Month. Visit her Amazon Author Page at: Mary Parker.

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A Monstrous Evolution, by Mary Parker – author of The Endless Hallway | #Horror #DarkFiction #Book #RELEASE @Sirens_Call

Reblogged from Lee Andrew Forman:

A Monstrous Evolution

by Mary Parker

The Endless Hallway features a creature that has haunted me since I was a teenager. This vile thing, with disgusting claws, rows of teeth, and black, void-like eyes, has featured in my writings for two decades. As the years go by, its appearance gets worse and worse: a monstrous evolution that personifies my mental illnesses.

My senior year of high school, I went with my parents to spend the weekend at my grandparents’ house.  They lived in a small town about 75 minutes away from us.  On the drive down, I listened to music, daydreaming as I watched miles of hills and highway pass by. Suddenly it appeared to me: an emaciated human-like creature, completely bald with shiny, slimy skin, no nose, two gaping voids for eyes, mangled claws, and vicious teeth.  I imagined the creature standing in front of me, opening its mouth to inhuman levels, and swallowing my head. I didn’t know if this was my depression consuming me or setting me free.

This image stuck with me, and I immediately wrote about it in the composition notebook I always carried with me.  Over the next several months I wrote a story featuring this creature, but more in link with a vampire – think of a play on Nosferatu.  In this iteration, the monster’s main features were rows of fangs and knotted, gnarly hands with claws, along with the bald head and void-like eyes.  Later, I wrote a short story featuring the creature that was a meditation on how depression shapes a person’s growth from adolescence to adulthood.  In both stories, the ending was more finite: in the first, the monster is burned to death; in the latter, it swallows the protagonist.

A decade on, I got married and had my daughter. Postpartum depression and anxiety hit me hard.  Again, I imagined the creature looming over me, ready to strike.  This time it was more disgusting and vicious: now its teeth dripped black ooze and its mangled, jagged claws were ready to take everything from me. As I rocked my daughter to sleep, I vowed I would not let it.

Instead, I wrote it all down.  I owned the monster and made it do my bidding. On the page, it couldn’t hurt me.  The depression could threaten us, it could lurk around every corner of the life I always wanted, but it would never touch us. 

Yet, as I finished The Endless Hallway, I found the ending was more ambiguous.  Age had taught me that the depression never really goes away.  Instead, we would live with it, like a haunting; deal with it whenever it decided to show its monstrous face.  There’s a comfort in that, a comfort in knowing that while we can’t always defeat our demons, we can always overcome them.

Even if we still check the baby monitor for claws creeping through the bars of the crib, and double-check the corners of the baby’s room for dark figures.

Picture of the Creature drawn by the author in 2005.  From the author’s writing scrapbook.

The Endless Hallway

by Mary Parker

Molly has it all – a good job, a handsome husband, a beautiful new baby, and a supportive family. Her life is everything she once prayed it would be. But something sinister is lurking within the walls of her tiny townhouse. A strange voice comes from the darkness as Molly rocks her infant to sleep. Lights that were left on are suddenly turned off. Molly has nightmares in which her husband’s throat is slit. In the middle of the night, a thin, pale arm reaches over the rails of the crib and lunges for the baby with fierce, jagged claws. The voice in the darkness soon seems to be coming from inside Molly’s head.

Are the visions Molly has been haunted by a subconscious warning or something more vicious?

Paperback and Kindle available on Amazon:

US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | The Netherlands | Japan | Canada | Australia

About the Author:

Mary Parker is a horror author and journalist from Southern Illinois. She has worked for examiner.com and horrornews.net. A collection of short stories, Predilection, was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in the anthologies “Vampires Aren’t Pretty” and “Slaughter House: The Serial Killer Edition, Vol. 2.” Her story “Sweet Nightmares” placed in the Top 100 of Wattpad’s Horror Contest sponsored by TNT. She is a proud contributor to, supporter of, and past ambassador of Women in Horror Month.

Visit Mary’s Amazon Author Page at: Mary Parker

RELEASE: The Endless Hallway, by Mary Parker | #Horror #DarkFiction #Book #BookRelease @Sirens_Call

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce its latest release…

The Endless Hallway

by Mary Parker

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Molly has it all: a good job, a handsome husband, and a beautiful new baby. Her life is everything she once hoped it would be. But something sinister lurks within the walls of her tiny townhouse.
A strange voice echoes from the darkness as Molly rocks her infant to sleep. Lights that were left on suddenly turn off. In the middle of the night, a thin, pale arm reaches over the rails of the crib to grasp for the baby with fierce, jagged claws.
Are the visions that haunt Molly a subconscious warning or something far more vicious?

The Endless Hallway is currently available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | The Netherlands | Japan | Canada | Australia

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Mary Parker is a horror author and journalist from Southern Illinois. She has worked for examiner.com and horrornews.net. A collection of short stories, Predilection, was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in the anthologies Vampires Aren’t Pretty and Slaughter House: The Serial Killer Edition, Vol. 2. Her story, Sweet Nightmares, placed in the top 100 of Wattpad’s Horror Contest sponsored by TNT. She is a proud contributor to, supporter of, ans past ambassador of Women in Horror Month. Visit her Amazon Author Page at: Mary Parker.

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RELEASE: The Sirens Call eZine Summer 2022 Edition – Issue 58 | FREE Online #Horror and #DarkFic #eZine #magazine @Sirens_Call

The Sirens Call

Summer 2022

The 58th issue of The Sirens Call comes in at whopping 239 pages containing 166 pieces of dark fiction and horror in the form of short stories, flash fiction, micro fiction, and dark poetry with an optional sub-theme of summer horror! This issue also features a new addition – Mike Lera’s Corridor of Horror – which will be an on-going column spotlighting those in the film industry.

Our features this month include artist Jeanette Andromeda who has shared 11 pieces of her artwork along with her beautifully crafted tale, Alice and the Toy Maker; a spotlight feature for the charity anthology, Dancing in the Shadows: A tribute to Anne Rice, which focuses on the team behind the project; we’ve also been given the opportunity to showcase Rebecca Rowland as our featured author who discusses The Question of Gender in Horror, and also offers us a peek into her newly released book, Shagging the Boss.

Please, grab a copy of the Zine for free, and don’t be shy about sharing it around!  

Click on the cover for your #FREE download!

Visit the web site to check out the other free issues of The Sirens Call!
www.sirenscallpub.com

OPEN Call for SUBMISSIONS: The Sirens Call – Halloween 2022 – issue 59 | #Horror #DarkFiction #Zine #OpenCall #Reprints #fiction #stories #flash #poetry @Sirens_Call

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Halloween 2022

The most wonderful time of the year is approaching – Halloween!

For the fifty-ninth issue of The Sirens Call Zine, we’re looking for horrifying and well-constructed tales of horror and dark fiction. This issue also has a sub-theme of all things Halloween; the scary stuff, anyway.

We’ll be accepting short stories, flash fiction, drabbles, and poetry that fit within the horror/dark fiction genre. We welcome reprints as long as you hold the copyright to the piece.

Your piece can be scary, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, have a dark satirical edge to it, or make us hide our heads under the covers at night!

The basic rules:

  • Write the piece well.
  • It must be primarily horror/dark fiction oriented and contain a death.
  • No pieces containing coronavirus/covid-19 references will be accepted.
  • Don’t break our set-in-stone taboos – NO pedophilia, NO bestiality, and NO descriptive rape scenarios.

Be creative, be morbid, be vicious, be clever, and, most of all, write something you want the world to read! If your piece fits our criteria, we’ll offer it up to our readership of approximately 35,000.


REPRINTS ARE WELCOME!

Submission Deadline: August 15, 2022

Circulation: Approximately 35,000

Short story word count: 1,000 – 2,500 (limit of one submission per author)
Flash fiction word count: 500 – 999 (limit of one submission per author)
Short flash fiction word count: 101 – 499 (limit of three submissions per author)
Micro fiction word count: 50 – 99 (limit of three submissions per author)
Drabbles: 100 word prose (limit of five submissions per author)
Poem length: 10 – 50 lines (limit of five subs per author)

Reprints are welcome as long as you currently hold the copyright.

All story, flash, and poem submissions MUST be submitted to:
Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com for consideration.

Full page ads are available at $10 per ad.
Please contact Nina@SirensCallPublications.com for advertising information.

Please visit our web site for further details and guidelines: www.SirensCallPub.com

SUBMISSIONS CLOSED: The Sirens Call — Summer 2022 – Issue #58 @Sirens_Call

Submissions for the 58th issue of The Sirens Call, featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry are closed.

Sirens Call Publications would like to thank all of the authors and artists who submitted their work for consideration. We’ll be in touch as soon as we can with our decisions.

If you are looking for Ad space, please contact Nina at Nina@SirensCallPublications.com for details.

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OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – EXTENDED: The Sirens Call – Summer 2022 – issue 58 | #Horror #DarkFiction #Zine #OpenCall #Reprints #fiction #stories #flash #poetry @Sirens_Call

SUBMISSION DEADLINE EXTENDED!

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Summer 2022

As a number of our regular contributors have asked for an extension on the open submission period for the Summer 2022 eZine due to the timing this year, we’ve extended the call to May 15th!

Open Call Details:

For the fifty-eighth issue of The Sirens Call, we’re looking for horrifying and well-constructed tales of horror and dark fiction. This issue also has a sub-theme of summer disasters. That can mean vacations from hell – in the literal sense, summer creatures run amok, or even climate-oriented horror. That’s up to you, we just want a well constructed piece of prose that will wow us, or make us cringe!

We’ll be accepting short stories, flash fiction, drabbles, and poetry that fit within the horror/dark fiction genre. We welcome reprints as long as you hold the copyright to the piece.

Your piece can be scary, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, bizarre, have a dark satirical edge to it, or burn hotter than the sun!

The basic rules:

  • Write the piece well.
  • It must be primarily horror/dark fiction oriented and contain a death.
  • No pieces containing coronavirus/covid-19 references will be accepted.
  • Don’t break our set-in-stone taboos – NO pedophilia, NO bestiality, and NO descriptive rape scenarios.

Be creative, be morbid, be vicious, be clever, and, most of all, write something you would want to read! If your piece fits our criteria, we’ll offer it up to our readership of approximately 35,000.


REPRINTS ARE WELCOME!

Submission Deadline: May 15, 2022

Circulation: Approximately 35,000

Short story word count: 1,000 – 2,500 (limit of one submission per author)
Flash fiction word count: 500 – 999 (limit of one submission per author)
Short flash fiction word count: 101 – 499 (limit of three submissions per author)
Micro fiction word count: 50 – 99 (limit of three submissions per author)
Drabbles: 100 word prose (limit of five submissions per author)
Poem length: 10 – 50 lines (limit of five subs per author)

Reprints are welcome as long as you currently hold the copyright.

All story, flash, and poem submissions MUST be submitted to:
Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com for consideration.

Full page ads are available at $10 per ad.
Please contact Nina@SirensCallPublications.com for advertising information.

Please visit our web site for further details and guidelines: www.SirensCallPub.com

Funny Creepy Ginger, by E.F. Schraeder – author of As Fast as She Can | #Horror #DarkFiction #Book #Creepy @Sirens_Call

Funny Creepy Ginger

by E.F. Schraeder

Like any book that ends up in the hands of readers (thank you!), As Fast as She Can went through many iterations and is the loving product of many people’s unique contributions. From late night conversations about the characters and storyline, cover design work, to hours of edits and revisions, a lot of wonderful folks influence the eventual final product. But while working on Fast, one of the characters themselves played a role in the outcome, too.

I usually begin stories with at least two things: a general plot outline and main character bios. Those basic sketches aren’t rules, but they give me a baseline to work with while I start writing. Sometimes when you’re working on a project you get lucky and write a character who develop quirks and a mind of their own— that kind of character voice can inform the theme and direction of the story as well as the overall tone. If I’m writing and start to ‘hear’ what a character may say or do in different situations, I know I’m eventually going to benefit from listening to them no matter what I thought I was going to write.

Ginger was like that for me. No matter what kind of wild adventures I had in mind, Ginger had a sense of humor I couldn’t squelch. I had a plot outline, but Ginger had the punchlines. In an early stage of writing, I thought I would eventually edit out some of the odd, occasionally borderline inappropriate, wonky jokes. I worried Ginger’s dialog and internal commentary would be too wacky, too weird amidst a kind of gory monster tale. But not long into one of those early revisions, I considered how much I enjoy romps through campy horror. I soon realized Ginger’s quirky sense of humor had won me over. She’s a character all right, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

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NEW_PROMO_E.F.Schraeder_AsFastAsSheCan_Final_FrontCoverAs Fast as She Can, by E.F. Schraeder

Living in a quiet house on the outskirts of town, Ginger isn’t like the other girls.

When she wakes up and discovers the unthinkable about her adoptive parents, she runs away and goes on a rampage straight to the only friend she has. Can she control what they both become?

With a violent, growing hunger and more questions than answers, Ginger has nowhere to turn.

As Fast as She Can is currently available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — The author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021) and other works, E.F. Schraeder usually writes about not quite real worlds.  Schraeder is also an avid gardener and hot pepper enthusiast who believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs. Say hello online at efschraeder.com.

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A Girl in the Woods, by E.F. Schraeder – author of As Fast as She Can | #Horror #DarkFiction #Book @Sirens_Call

A Girl in the Woods

by E.F. Schraeder

Occult activities. Abductions. Random acts of violence. Serial murderers. Coven meetings. The occasional werewolf rampage. A lot of terrifying stuff seems to happen to the folks populating horror stories when they head into the wilderness.

But I have a real fondness for forests. Getting to be outside, deep in the woods and surrounded by nature? That doesn’t scare me. Heck, one of my favorite destinations has always been the middle of nowhere. So put on some comfortable sneakers, because I’d like to invite you to take a walk through the places that inspired the setting for As Fast As She Can.

I was lucky enough as a kid to live along the edge of a nice sized patch of woods, and I spent a lot of my childhood wandering through a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. Ever since, the soft squish of mud underfoot and the mossy scent of decaying leaves has always reminded me of home. But as an adult, I have mostly lived in cities. It didn’t take long for me to realize how much I missed the sounds and stillness of the forest. As a result, I turned into an avid camper and hiker, spending as much time as possible in a tent or wandering the trails. From the Allegheny Mountains, across state parks around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont— almost any time I could cobble together a little time off work, I headed out of realm of honking cars, highways, and city smog and back into the trees.

The fictional world readers visit in Fast imagines a combination of elements from real places I’ve explored and sometimes gotten lost.  Large lakes surrounded by remote cabins that are out of earshot of one another. Places that are quiet, calm, and mostly serene… the kind of place where no one would hear what was happening until it was too late.  Places that were safe enough, so long as no one like Ginger was there. When Ginger sets off in the woods, she’s running to get away from something that scares her, and like me, she sees the woods as a safe place to figure things out— even if it’s only safe for her and not those she encounters. The terrain of Fast, especially the location of Ginger’s cottage was inspired by many of the places I frequented over the years. Maybe the setting will remind you of some of the places you’ve enjoyed exploring too. But if you catch a glimpse of Ginger the next time you’re out there alone, don’t make eye contact.

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NEW_PROMO_E.F.Schraeder_AsFastAsSheCan_Final_FrontCoverAs Fast as She Can, by E.F. Schraeder

Living in a quiet house on the outskirts of town, Ginger isn’t like the other girls.

When she wakes up and discovers the unthinkable about her adoptive parents, she runs away and goes on a rampage straight to the only friend she has. Can she control what they both become?

With a violent, growing hunger and more questions than answers, Ginger has nowhere to turn.

As Fast as She Can is currently available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — The author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021) and other works, E.F. Schraeder usually writes about not quite real worlds.  Schraeder is also an avid gardener and hot pepper enthusiast who believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs. Say hello online at efschraeder.com.

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