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RELEASE: The Sirens Call – Issue 34 ‘Feel the Fear’ | #Horror #Fear

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of

The Sirens Call

Our 34th issue of The Sirens Call eZine comes in at 123 pages and features short stories, flash fiction, and poetry embodying the dark fiction theme of ‘Feel the Fear’. It also contains artwork by multiple artists that exemplify a dark atmospheric horror, as well as an interview with Lee Andrew Forman, author of The Bones of Hillside

Click on the cover for your #FREE download!

2017_August_ezine_cover

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SCREAMS THE MACHINE BLOG TOUR: An Interview with Sam Mortimer | #SciFi #Dystopia @Sirens_Call

An Interview with Sam Mortimer:

Author of Screams The Machine

Sirens Call Publications recently released Sam Mortimer’s dystopian-esque, sci-fi novella titled Screams The Machine and we wanted to take a moment to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.

Sirens Call Publications: Welcome Sam! Why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself?

Sam Mortimer: I have worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and have been writing strange stories since age eleven. I love reading, music, and strive to meet the demands of my cats. I’m also in an electronic-rock band called Anifail.

SCP: What made you decide to become a writer?

Sam: I’m interested in knowledge and the human experience. Existence is weird. Plus, an area of my life feels dysfunctional and empty if I don’t write. Round up the books, movies, games, and music that’ve been around since humans started making them, and I’m sure every writer has something in common.  Also, I experience my inner world, which is enjoyable even if it’s a bit messed up— and honestly (most importantly), when the muse calls, I answer her. Thus, I gladly write.

SCP: What is Screams The Machine about?

Sam: Screams The Machine is a whirlpool. It’s partly about how technology is a neutral means to an end, but what’s the intent of the user/creator? I doubt the answers are neutral there. It’s about decisions, ones we can control and others we cannot. Also, addiction comes in different forms – mainly they’re hideous. I’d say that’s some fruit from the tree in the story.

SCP: What is the one thing you’d like readers to know about Screams The Machine before they read it?

Sam: I wish you could hear the soundtrack that was going through my head as I was writing the book. It’s an important aspect that couldn’t be put to the page.

SCP: What is your writing process? Do you consider yourself to be a planner or a pantser?

Sam: It makes me smile to say pantser. I’ll go with that. Plus, the pantser style is a solid, ancient technique proven time again, developed by the wisest of the pantser sages. How cool would that be? In the end though, I almost feel more like a reporter than a fiction writer. It feels like I’m experiencing the story as it happens, so I guess a good pants-ing could work for that in numerous ways. My first drafts are usually done in complete silence. The world I’m writing about does what it does, filling my head with sound, colors, etc.  It feels spiritual actually, and it feels honest. I think honesty of intent is most important in any process. If the writer means what they say, it’ll probably show in the pants-ing.

SCP: If you could cast Screams the Machine, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Sam: I’d like to see new talent play the characters. Also, I’d want you to be able to hear any of the sounds that were in my head that accompanied the story. That would be fun.

SCP: What is the hardest challenge that you have faced as a writer?

Sam: Me. I’ve been the hardest challenge.  

SCP: In your opinion, what sets Screams The Machine apart from other books of the same genre?

Sam: Hopefully it adds to the genre(s), like an extension or compliment. I want it to pay respects; however, I also want Screams The Machine to blend different genres in a way that makes sense. Horror, sci-fi, and fantasy have been important parts of my life.

SCP: Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?

Sam: Yes. I’m reading any Scientific American sent to me (subscription). Also, ‘The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature’, by Brian J. Frost has been useful. The ‘Dictionary of Superstitions’, by David Pickering has been super fun.  For current research, I’m reading texts such as ‘The Didache’, and a few others that would be considered sacred. Then, of course, I’m reading ‘The Singularity is Near’, by Ray Kurzweil.

SCP: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite novels?

Sam: Hideyuki Kikuchi. Joseph Campbell. Richard Matheson. Ray Kurzweil. I like Steve Niles’ stuff, ‘Savage Membrane’ was pretty killer.  Will Storr. William Gibson (Neuromancer). Richard K. Morgan (Woken Furies). Simon R. Green, ‘Hex and the City’ was a blast. My favorite novels are the ones where I have a genuine good time reading, or they massage my brain in some way. There are many. I highly suggest ‘The Power of Myth’, with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. I read it over ten years ago. That book helped changed my perspective on life in general.

SCP: How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?

Sam: It seems there’re three types of success with writing:  personal, critical, and monetary. Personal success is an awful beast to tame, but you have to remember that if you’ve completed your story, you’re already putting the nix on that part. Then there’s the hell of wondering if what you did is any good. Who knows, right? Deep down, you do.  

Personally, I love submitting my work to people I don’t know. It’s a pretty big thrill and testament. Then again, I don’t care to share everything with everyone. The definition of success is up to the individual when it comes to creativity. In the end, I’d say happiness is a major success, and if you can pay a bill with writing, then that’s also success.

SCP: Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are just starting out?

Sam: Test your mettle. Keep going. Validate yourself. Love what you do. Stay safe.  

SCP: What should readers walk away from your book knowing? How should they feel?

Sam: Being that times are changing, humans require more stimulation and social-media glitter bedazzles us, I’m writing novellas for a reason. I want to help keep folks interested in books, for one, and make stories accessible. Novellas are short but interesting. I feel they’re a good middle ground with the modern person’s time. I honestly don’t know how anyone should feel after reading my book. I leave that entirely up to the reader.

Thank you Sam for taking the time to answer our questions.

***

screamsthemachine_sammortimer_frontcover_fullsizeCash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

Available on:

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

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

iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | CreateSpace (Print)

***

sammortimer-authorpicture.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR — Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.

***

And now for an excerpt from Screams The Machine

Chapter One:

An Odd Dream, Birthday

Flesh severs from bone and a green-eyed girl cries a black flood, a flood of such devastating capacity it could cover the world…

In her pink smiling monkey pajamas, she stands on a great body of blackness, the water rippling beneath her feet. She swipes her arm across her cheek, surprised to find her hand covered in red. She inspects the blood carefully, but she has no idea how she was cut. But that isn’t the worst of her problems. She begins to sink, first to her knees, then to her waist. The water has no temperature, like the touch of nothingness.

Soon she falls into the liquid darkness; descending for what seems like forever, being pulled down by a gripping, otherworldly current. The water becomes shockingly cold. She twists and tumbles, feeling pressure build on her lungs, beginning to crush them. Deeper, farther and farther down, as she drowns—as if this can get any worse, the thought crosses her mind—from the blackness an onslaught of charred hands reach and grope, tearing her body to pulpy ribbons.

There is a moment of stillness, the absence of all sound, until blood ascends in violent whorls, spreading, mixing with the tears to create: floods, oceans, lakes. Her dismemberments form continents, her veins rivers, and her mind creates the Nature of All Things. Big fish consumes small fish. Big corporation consumes small business. Government consumes big corporation. Obese man eats donut and watches television. Television consumes obese man. In one last sweeping exhalation, her breath becomes the atmosphere.

Her name is Elizabeth. She is the doorway to The Ultimate Reality.

***

“Damn,” Elizabeth shot up in bed, keeping her eyes shut because she was afraid of what she might see. Her thoughts jumbled helter-skelter, sweat clung to her brow, and her auburn hair was a sticky mess. She had no idea why she would have such a dream, except for an underlying feeling that the world—her world was messed up. She thought, maybe it was a sort of silly allegorized psyche soup parading its nonsensical ingredients, as can happen at times. As Dr. Reverence always said, Elizabeth recalled, ‘One is prone to cling to a reflection of madness, if only so they can wallow in their own likeness.’

Attempting to gather her wits and her breath, Elizabeth inhaled for the first time in what felt like a full minute. She opened her eyes and a spot of sunshine coming through the slits in the blinds jabbed at her pupils.

Her room was furnished with a twin bed, two bureaus—one that had an old vanity mirror owned by her late grandmother before the world cracked. This was the same room she had lived in since the age of six, where she once played with a hand-me-down Rainbow Bright, and experienced her first kiss at age eleven, which proved horrifying. Randal Markins’ bottom lip had got caught in her braces. In a panic, he jerked his head back and a chunk of flesh ripped out. He had moved away years ago, but she wasn’t sure where. He was her first experience with love.

The walls in her room were painted pink then, but now they were purple. Most of her time within these walls was spent listening to music and keeping her mind occupied. She was twenty-four now, the house was hers, and she was near alone with the exception of her mother, who was not often up for company.

Elizabeth groaned. Letting the memory of her dream slip away, she stretched like a cat and a pleasant rush slid through her head. Suddenly she grew sleepier than before, and her eyelids drooped as the prospect pulled her back under the down comforter. She could have dreamed again of a much better, calmer place, even though she knew she had chores to start this morning, plus she had to check on her mother.

At 8:00 AM Elizabeth woke again, and the air seemed stained with rainbows until she rubbed her eyes and they adjusted properly. She reached over to her nightstand, picking up her smart phone and looked for any missed calls. Of course, there were no missed calls. She scrolled to an app and turned on Pandora. The music played quietly.

***

After Elizabeth showered she stood naked on the old black and white tile, smelling of violets. She cleared the layer of condensation off the mirror then covered the circles under her eyes with honey-beige concealer. She got dressed in jeans, black knee-high leather boots, and a teal three-quarter length T-shirt with a black cardigan over it. Added to her wardrobe was a heavy, black coat. Before leaving the house, she vaguely wondered where her mind might go if it weren’t for the little pleasantries life still allotted.

Elizabeth walked outside into a bright February day, the cold and fresh breeze fumbling over her cheeks. While the sun may have spread a cheerful hue, most of the houses in the neighborhood stood abandoned or foreclosed. Many of the yards were overgrown, the grass dried and dead from winter. She saw children’s toys and wind-beaten battery powered trucks on the lawns and dead potted plants on porches. Many families fled during The State of Chaos. Others were killed, some simply vanished without explanation as disease ran rampant, jobs dwindled, and violence spread. The old government attempted to suppress the disorder, but their efforts failed. Then the Solution arose from the depths of global networks, utilizing their strange war machines and snuffing the mayhem. These strange, bipedal marvels were called the RMS (Robotic Military Sentries). Elizabeth had never seen any RMS in person, but she had watched a plethora of live footage along with reports on television. No one had ever witnessed the odd technology before, nor did they know it existed; the RMS were armed with nightmares, it seemed.

Elizabeth kept trekking, observing the near derelict neighborhood. She sighed, recalling a time when the Blue Bear ice cream truck would play its drippy and tuneless music. Elizabeth had found it eerie, yet the music possessed the ability to make her happy all the same, to reach in and grab her veins as though she were a stringed musical instrument. Kids flocked in groups around the neighborhood then. Things were normal, but it seemed that the last few years her life stumbled toward a monstrous mouth that would swallow her whole. She wanted college, to work once again at Cool Keith’s Coffee, but alas, that wasn’t going to happen.

A sudden heavy gust of cold wind forced Elizabeth to turn her head down. Her eyes watered. When she looked back up the street, she saw a slim figure in the distance silhouetted by the morning sun. As the figure got closer it became less obscure, formed into one of the last remaining neighborhood men—she didn’t know his name before, and she refused to know him now. His face was blotted by shadow but she could tell he was in a hurry as he jogged to a yard where an old and withered dogwood tree stood. He opened the door and went inside the home. Someone was dying, she was certain. Soon the teeth of disease would crush and swallow, again.

Elizabeth reserved a numb awareness of death, because she had witnessed enough already. The Dysfunction Grief no longer belonged to her. Her street led to the main road. A few stores remained open for business, but many had shut down or were rundown. The businesses that survived appeared rather immaculate and clean—the shelves were stocked with supplies. Walking another five minutes, she eventually entered a small convenience store called The Orange Market located between two empty and dark-looking buildings that used to be banks. Per requirement of the Solution, a sign posted over the pristine glass entrance door read, ABSOLUTELY NO CASH, in bold red letters. Cash Disease, which had been transmitted by handling cash, wiped out millions—it was the beginning of The State of Chaos, also known as The Disintegration.

She got a box of hot chocolate, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, one banana, pink Snowballs, a gallon of milk, a tomato, then swiped her wrist, which had a tracer chip implanted just under the skin. A beep sounded to indicate she had purchased the items. Mr. Smith, the short portly old clerk stood behind the counter. His hair was white, and his eyes were pale blue.

He smiled, saying, “Little chilly outside, but it’ll do. I’m glad winter’s coming to a close soon. Another month or two.”

“I suppose. But I like winter,” Elizabeth said.

“You like winter? Funny a woman says that. Y’all used to love summer, hopping round in your bikinis like bunnies. Sun tannin’, ya know. I can understand the change, though.” Then Mr. Smith cocked his head to the side for a moment, as he peered solemnly at her. “In one respect I feel fortunate it—The Disintegration, you know—didn’t happen during winter. In another way, I kinda’ wish it did.”

Mr. Smith raised an eyebrow and Elizabeth understood. They both had smelled the baking rot and war in the summer heat. The stench was like spoiled milk and bad meat as it blew in with the wind from miles away. She didn’t really care for anything further to be said about it. Not many people did. But sometimes (most times), they talked about it regardless.

Elizabeth said, “The Disintegration isn’t over for all of us.”

“Hmm, but we know who to thank, don’t we, that it’s not worse? Because it’s over for most.”

Elizabeth said, “Yeah, I suppose.”

“You’re lucky. The other deserted neighborhoods are getting demolished right and left. Solution officials plan to move people closer to the city, which means your neighborhood will be preserved and occupied. We’re close. Don’t you feel it, though? The pull to the city? Like some sort of calling.”

Elizabeth nodded her head yes, because she couldn’t deny that she did. She had an urge to go. There wouldn’t be much left here after her mother passed regardless if people would be arriving soon or not. And even if she felt the urge to go, she doubted she ever would.

“Something’s happened to, well, reality, all right,” Mr. Smith said.

Elizabeth agreed and noted to herself that it’s gone insane, that reality itself seems to be diseased or cracked.

Mr. Smith continued, “And I can feel something else happening as we speak. I feel it down to my marrow, singing like a choir. There’s a feeling just below the surface, ya know, something of a power permeating us. Do you ever get that?”

“No.”

“Oh, it’s strong. It’s real strong.” Mr. Smith’s eyes narrowed. He reached a hand into his shirt pocket but discovered what he was looking for wasn’t there. “No damned cigarettes. Still can’t accept it, but Dr. Reverence frowns on them, so I guess I should. But I need one so bad, I dream of smoking when I sleep. Gotta have something to keep me from going loony as a mongoose on crack. Dr. Reverence is a good woman.”

Elizabeth deemed Mr. Smith’s dysfunction Unfortunately Positive.

Mr. Smith dropped his hands to his sides and squeezed the fabric of his slacks, then reached to the counter, snatching and unraveling a piece of candy. He popped it in his mouth.

“Anyway, not much new construction will happen, huh? How’s your mother?” The old man asked. “She’s one of the last with, you know, Cash Disease. She’s gotta be pretty damned close. I’m sorry.”

“I’d imagine you are,” Elizabeth said…

Keep up with the tour for Screams The Machine here!

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SCREAMS THE MACHINE BLOG TOUR with Sam Mortimer Starts Tomorrow! #SciFi #Dystopian

The blog tour for Sam Mortimer’s Screams The Machine starts tomorrow…

August 14

Horror Tree

Spreading the Writers Word – Nina D’Arcangela

August 15

Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews

The Sirens Song

Hell Notes

August 16

Lee Forman

Words in Sync – Shah Wharton

Emerian Rich

August 17

The Horror Review

The Flipside of Julianne

August 18

Armand Rosamilia

Horror World

August 19

The Road to Nowhere – Nina D’Arcangela

Buy Zombie

August 20

Stuart Conover

The Flipside of Julianne

***

screamsthemachine_sammortimer_frontcover_fullsizeCash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

Available on:

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

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

iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | CreateSpace (Print)

***

sammortimer-authorpicture.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR — Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.

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OPEN SUBMISSION: If It Bleeds, It Leads! | #Horror #Anthology @Sirens_Call

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce its newest anthology call…

If It Bleeds, It Leads!

Anthology_IIBIL_phExtra! Extra! Read All About It!

For this anthology, we’re looking for stories that embody the spirit of the good ol’ newspaper headline! In fact, your story title MUST BE the headline.

We want feature pieces that belong on the front page; stories that draw you in and take hold of you as they unfold while the ink is still drying.

The work should exemplify the flashy style that only hot-off-the-press journalistic prose can entail. And if you want to go full-on tabloid, have at it. Give us the trash, give us the dirty laundry, but most of all, give us the juicy bits.

Remember, this is a horror collection, so be sure to keep one thing in mind: If it bleeds, it leads!

Here is a question one of the prospective authors asked us about this call: Is this anthology looking for horror stories in the form of newspaper articles?

The answer: Yes, that’s exactly what we’re looking for!

Deadline: October 31, 2017

Word Count: 2,500 – 5,000 words

All submissions MUST be submitted to: Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com

Reading & Evaluation Period: Two to three months after close of the deadline

** NO REPRINTS WILL BE CONSIDERED **

Payment: Each story selected for inclusion will receive a one-time payment of $15USD, an eBook contributor copy, and the right to purchase an unlimited number of print books at discount.

As per our standard guidelines, there will be no stories containing pedophilia, bestiality, or graphic rape scenarios accepted. For a full list of our guidelines, please visit our website www.SirensCallPublications.com.

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SUBMISSIONS CLOSED: Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum – Volume 2

Submissions are now closed for the upcoming anthology tentatively titled

Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum – Volume 2

Sirens Call Publications would like to thank all the authors who submitted stories for consideration. Once all of the submissions have been read and final decisions made, we’ll be in touch. The reading and evaluation period is two to three months from this point and we thank the authors in advance for their patience.

MentalAsylum

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SUBMISSIONS CLOSED: The Sirens Call – Issue 34 ‘Feel the Fear’

Submissions for the 34th issue of The Sirens Call, looking for short stories, flash fiction, and poetry fitting the theme of ‘Feel the Fear’ are closed.

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

To any authors or publishers looking for Ad space, please contact Julianne at Julianne@SirensCallPublications.com for details.

b_w_generic_cover_call

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THE CALLING BLOG TOUR: Interview with @BrentTAbell | #Horror #Supernatural #Excerpt

Sirens Call Publications recently released Brent Abell’s creepy, supernatural novella titled The Calling and we sat down with him to ask him a few questions about it and his writing process.

For those of you who aren’t yet acquainted with Brent Abell, he resides in Southern Indiana with his wife, sons, and the spirit of his beloved pug who haunts the space next to his desk. Brent enjoys anything horror related and also enjoys a good cigar. In his writing career, he’s had stories featured in over 30 publications from multiple presses. His books Southern Devils, In Memoriam, The Calling, and his Wicked Tales for Wicked People collection are available now. He is also a co-author of the horror-comedy Hellmouth series. Currently, he has completed the second book in the Southern Devils series and an upcoming novella. You can hang out with him at his blog “Our Darkest Fears” at http://brentabell.com.

Sirens Call Publications: Welcome Brent! What made you decide to become a writer?

BrentAbellPicBrent Abell: Writing had been something I began dabbling in while in high school. After I graduated, I took a few years off before going to college. It was something I always wanted to do, but didn’t do anything about until a few years ago. I wrote a few things and found some quick sales. It planted the thought in my mind that I could do it on a more professional level. Right now, I’m trying to make my morning commute to the coffee pot and back.

SCP: What is The Calling about?

Brent: The Calling is my love letter to 1970’s occult movies. I grew up watching any horror I could find on the television. It didn’t matter how cheesy it was, I’d watch it. Late night shows usually focused on the 70’s and 80’s low budget fare. I devoured them. The Calling is the beginning of the White Creek cycle. White Creek is my little small-town slice of Hell. When Carl Volker awakes to find his wife gone, he figures she finally split town on him. As more bodies turn up and the crows begin to hang out around his farm, Carl isn’t sure what’s happening to him. His friend, Sheriff Frank Hill, has to solve the puzzle to keep the town safe from an unholy force rising in the town.

SCP: What is the one thing you’d like readers to know about The Calling before they read it?

Brent: This is the first book in the White Creek Cycle. There is another book, In Memoriam, but you don’t have to read one to understand the other. I’m building a mythology around the town and it’s a good place to start.

SCP: What is your writing process? Do you consider yourself to be a planner or a pantser?

Brent: My writing process is to randomly bang my fingers on keys until words form. I am a slow and terrible typist, so it takes some time to finish something. My wife does think I’m the fastest hunt-and-peck typist in the world. To answer the second part… I’m a pantser. Usually, I’ll have the opening and the ending figured out; then make stuff up as I go for the middle. Sometimes, however, it means in the end I may have to tweak a few things to get everything lined up.

SCP: If you could cast your favourite story in the collection, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Brent: I would cast Sam Elliott to play Frank Hill, Mitch Pileggi as Carl, and Robbie Amell as Pratter. Nobody else would even be let in the door to audition as Frank.

SCP: What is the hardest challenge that you have faced as a writer?

Brent: The hardest challenge I’ve faced about writing has been trying to find the balance. It can be a very difficult task when you have to juggle a job, your family, and the writing. Sometimes, I go without sleep or sometimes I lock myself away and sacrifice some personal time to write. Finding time to do anything outside of those becomes hard to do. But, if I want to drop the job part, they are sacrifices that have to be made.

SCP: In your opinion, what sets The Calling apart from other books of the same genre?

Brent: I tried to tell a story of friends who have been secretly at odds. As Frank and Carl’s story unfolds throughout the book, I wanted to explore lost love and how it impacts relationships. Sometimes the people we thought we know the best are the ones we really know nothing about at all.

SCP: Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?

Brent: I’m trying to catch up on my Dean Koontz books. I’ve been very lax about keeping up-to-date on them and I’m a few books behind. I finished his novel The City and I finally am reading William Peter Blatty’s Legion.

SCP: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite novels?

Brent: My favorite authors would be Brian Keene, Wrath James White, John Everson, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Joe Hill. If I had to pick a favorite book from each one; I’d say Keene’s The Rising, White’s The Resurrectionist, Everson’s Covenant, Koontz’s Night Chills, King’s Salem’s Lot, and Hill’s Horns.

SCP: How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?

Brent: This is an area where my answer has evolved over time. When I wrote and sent off my first few stories, I thought success was being published. In the beginning, I thought having my work in print was success enough. As it went on and I had more stories published and more for money, my attitude shifted. I began to see it as a possible career shift and began to focus on longer works. The goal is to write full time, so I’m not there yet. Have I been successful? Yes, but there is still a long way to go.

SCP: Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are just starting out?

Brent: Don’t be afraid, don’t listen to the negative voices in your head, and write what you want to write.

SCP: What should readers walk away from your book knowing? How should they feel?

Brent: I want them to feel White Creek is a pretty messed up place and they should come back to visit soon. The town always has its welcome signs up, but if they get to leave is another matter. White Creek invites all the readers back to watch friendships twist and the secrets buried in the past unearth themselves. All readers are welcome anytime…

***

thecalling_brentabell_frontcover

Carl Volker has a problem. After waking one morning with a hangover to find his wife gone, he notices a crow stalking around his yard.  As days go by with no word from his wife, more and more crows gather.

Frank Hill is sheriff in the seemingly pleasant town of White Creek. Up until recently, his job has been fairly mundane but after a recent spree of murders, bodies are beginning to pile up and Frank has no clue as to who the killer may be.

White Creek has kept its secrets hidden well over the years but the sins of its past are coming to light; the town harbors an evil and the bindings that keep it in check are beginning to unravel.

As Frank and Carl’s friendship is tested and their destinies are revealed, the dead accumulate while the crows watch and The Calling begins!

Available on:

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

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

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Smashwords

CreateSpace (Print)

***

And now for a quick excerpt of The Calling…

Chapter 1:

June 1994

Carl Volker awoke that morning with a hangover that split his head in two and the rooster outside calling out the dawn didn’t make things any better, but instead drove the alcohol’s wedge deeper in his brain. Rolling over, he felt for Maggie’s body and found her half of the bed empty. The early morning light streamed into the window and hit Carl like a sledge hammer. He rubbed his blood shot eyes and pulled the pillow over his head. He drifted off to sleep again, the pillow blocking out the sounds of the rooster and the outside world.

Two hours later he awoke and found the other side of the bed was still empty. He sat up and sniffed the air, hoping to catch a whiff of breakfast cooking or any faint scent of recently cooked food. He smelled nothing and wondered what the hell Maggie was up to. This late in the morning, she usually would have some food cooked up for him before he headed out to the fields for the day. Carl swung his legs over the side of the bed and put on his slippers. His bladder was killing him and his stomach rumbled in hunger.

Carl wandered through the house in his boxer shorts, first visiting the bathroom to unburden his bladder, and then heading down the stairs to fix the stomach issue. He sniffed the air again and was once more denied the smell of breakfast. Stopping in the kitchen doorway, he opened his eyes fully and saw nothing had been moved or used. The skillets lay in the sink where they were left the night before and the loaf of bread sat with no other slices removed. He scratched his head in disbelief.

“Where the hell is that woman?” Carl muttered to himself as he sat down at the kitchen table. “Not even any damn coffee either.”

He turned his head to the window to see if maybe Maggie had headed out to the fields to feed the cows and the pigs. From his vantage point, the cows were lined up at the fence waiting for food and the pigs were poking around in their pens seeking a bite. Carl started to be very concerned, not only because he had no coffee or breakfast, but because Maggie seemed to be gone and that was highly unlike her.

Carl began to retrace his steps, only this time he decided to keep his eyes open. The morning hadn’t been kind and his vision remained blurry no matter how many times he rubbed them. He trudged back up the stairs, all of his fifty-two-year-old body protesting every step. This time when he opened the bedroom door, he noticed that Maggie’s clothes were thrown from her drawers and strewn across the floor in a crumpled pile. Carl scratched his head and went to the closet door. Opening it up, he saw that the suitcase was gone. He still didn’t compute what was going on until he peeked into the bathroom and saw her makeup case missing too.

Carl scratched his head again and said, “Well ain’t that a bitch,” to nobody in particular at all.

***

The chores were done by three in the afternoon and Carl decided to leave the field alone for the day. He had to figure out just where his wife went. The last thing he remembered was drinking his whiskey straight from the bottle while Maggie downed glass after glass of wine. They laughed, they drank, they made love, and they drank some more. As he thought back, he couldn’t place anything that Carl thought would make her want to walk out on him. He hung his hat up by the back door and walked to the fridge and grabbed a beer. He removed the church key from the hook besides the fridge and opened his Busch Light. Carl found himself dismayed that supper was not being cooked for him and decided to sit on the porch swing while he finished his beer.

It was when he saw it for the first time; the crow perched in the tulip tree next to the birdbath.

Carl fixed his gaze on the jet black bird that stared back at him; its red eyes burning Carl straight down to his soul. The crow’s beady little eyes unsettled him greatly.

“Get the hell out here ya’ bastard!” Carl hollered out to the bird. He reached down and took off his boot. He stood up quickly and chucked the shoe in the direction of the tree. The boot fell far short of its intended target and thudded harmlessly to the ground. The crow called out like it was laughing at Carl and it really pissed him off. First his wife vanished, he still was hung over, and now a damn crow mocked him. After thinking about it for a few minutes, he figured it would be better if he just fired up the Ford and went into town to have supper and get a drink or five at Telly’s Tavern.

Taking one last look at the crow, it spread its wings and took off into the darkening sky. Carl tossed his empty beer can off the porch and went in to get ready to go.

***

An old black man sat up in front of the bar and picked the strings on his beat up old guitar. The instrument looked like it’d been through Hell, but the blues ringing out from it sounded like Heaven to the crowd at Telly’s. The farmers and hands all drank while they tapped their feet and smacked the heavy wooden bar as the music struck a chord with the working men. A cloud of cigarette smoke hovered in the air and the haze grew thicker the further away from the bar one got.

Carl sat hunched over a beer at the bar and he stared off at the various signs hanging behind Telly.

“What the Hell wrong with you Carl? You’ve been sitting there quiet as a mouse all evening. Maggie got you in the dog house?” Telly bellowed and laughed.

“Ain’t seen her all day,” Carl answered and took a long pull from the beer bottle.

“What do you mean you ain’t seen her all day? Don’t you control your wife out there at the farm?” Telly prodded and let out another loud laugh.

“You let me worry about her, Telly. Why you got an old Negro in here playin’?”

“Times changed a long time ago you old bastard and he picks the best blues strings for miles,” Telly retorted.

Carl took another long pull from his beer and emptied it. Slamming the glass on the table, he tossed a few dollars beside it and got up from his stool. “Well, I gotta go and see if she’s come back yet. See ya tomorrow, Telly.”

Telly watched Carl stager from the bar to the door and he shook his head. If he knew Maggie like he did, her splitting was a permanent thing and she wouldn’t be back no matter how much Carl begged. He’d known Carl since high school and he knew he would never beg her to come back. What did surprise him was if what happened was terrible enough she left, she didn’t say anything. His cousin knew how to argue and she’d let Carl have it on her way out of the door. Someone hollered for another round, so he buried his thoughts and went back to work.

***

The first thing Carl noticed when he pulled his old Ford truck in the drive were the four crows perched along the fence by the well. None of them flew off and their heads followed him as he parked the truck and opened the door. In the dark, Carl felt their bright red eyes burn through him.

Picking up a rock, he hurled it at the fence and it smacked the post with a loud thud. The rock bounced to the ground and the crows sat there glaring at him, none of them taking flight.

“Go on! Get outta’ here ya’ bastard birds!”

He ran at the fence waving his arms around like a mad man yelling and screaming. The crows stayed perched and remained still.

Caw, caw, caw, the crows sounded out in unison.

Carl froze a few feet from their perch. They stared at him and he felt his booze laced blood go cold. Their eyes locked onto his and he held their gaze for a moment. Neither moved nor blinked. After a few seconds, Carl turned and stormed off into the house.

Inside, he heard the crows begin their song again. The four birds and their constant calling grated on his nerves as he rushed to the hall closet. Flinging the door open, he grabbed his twelve gauge and broke it open to make sure it was still loaded. Everyone told him keeping a loaded shotgun in the house wasn’t a good idea, but he figured at some point, he’d need to defend his property.

Right now, he needed to clean the yard of some annoying birds.

“Here you go you bastards!” Carl cried out as he kicked the screen door open. He brought the shotgun up and fired it at the fence.

Flames danced from the gun’s muzzle and he heard the buckshot pepper the fence posts and rails. The sound he didn’t hear pissed him off. He didn’t hear the crows die. Instead they sat motionless, still perched on top of the fence. Quickly, he cracked the casing open and ejected the spent shell. Slamming another shell in, he closed the barrel and aimed at the fence.

The crows were gone.

Carl walked to the fence and studied it. He found splintered wood along the top rail and on the center post where the crows were sitting. Running his finger along the wood, he felt the deep grooves, but he couldn’t find any blood or sign the crows were even there.

“I know I saw them sons a bitches,” he muttered and dropped to his knees. “If them crows were here that long, they must have shit.”

The grass below the fence appeared to be all green without a trace of white. Frantically, Carl ran his fingers through the cut grass and only found clippings from where he cut it three days ago. Shaking his head, he stood up and sulked back to the house. Once inside, he poured a shot of bourbon and watched out the window with his shotgun leaning up next to the kitchen door.

He wanted the crows to return…

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