Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jan-Feb Reading List #zombie #horror #Sci Fi #thriller

I'm very late on compiling the latest Blog Reading List - or I'm early for February!

Anyway, lots of new books. I'm finding a lot of great horror this time! I'm finding some neat themes, too, so I may explore specific topics in coming issues.  Enjoy!


Short Stories

All That Withers, John Palisano - First collection of 23 Lovecraftian to horror stories, includes 2016 Stoker Award Winner, "Joe's Rest Stop."

Best New Horror, Volume 25 (Mammoth Book of Best Horror) - Former UK anthology of best horror featuring stories from Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale and more. 600+ pages.

The Black Room Manuscripts, Volume 3 - (releases Feb. 24) - 25 tales of terror. David Moody and others. Do you dare enter? 



Dead Twin Sister, Jack Wallen - A band, a dead spirit... "With each recorded song, the spirit gains more power until Grog's dead twin sister is unleashed."

Haunting the Deep,- Adriana Mather - A teen finds herself on the "dream" ship. the Titanic. An interesting side note is the author's relatives survived the voyage. 

Sick House, Jeff Strand - Home invasion from beyond the grave. Creepy haunted house stuff, then the ghosts begin to arrive... (and a cool cover!) 

 The Silent Companions, Laura Purcell (pre-order, releases March 6) - Okay this sounds cool. Newly widowed Elsie goes to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling estate. Behind a locked door is a wooden figure that looks much like her...  A Victorian ghost story.
Sci Fi - Aliens 

The Other, Marilyn Peake - The world is melting down.. then people begin seeing UFO's and strange alien creatures. Then a virus begins spreading that causes hallucinations and scrambles thought. Is it from them?


Glimpse, Jonathan Maberry - (Pre-order, releases March 27) - What happens when Rain sees a boy running and screaming with laughter - or just screaming - through the crack in a pair of reading glasses? The voices are telling her to do horrible things and a spectral boogie man is haunting her in the real world. How far do you go to save someone you love?

Saving Grace (Fleetwood and Sheils Book 2), Simon Wood - Former reporter Scott Fleetwood is still recovering after tangling with a notorious kidnapper  - and now his only chance to save another girl is to trust a headline-hunting kidnapper. 



 Generation Z, Peter Meredith - Twelve years since the undead hordes swept the earth. We survive.. but for how much longer?

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter , C.A. Verstraete - Was Lizzie Borden actually guilty? What if she did commit the gruesome axe murders of her father and stepmother in 1892 for a reason no one suspected? (new 2nd edition & new cover!)

Monday, January 29, 2018

What I'm Reading #SciFi #Dystopian

Like everything else I do, my reading comes in multiples. 

 If you saw my newsletter last month - (you can sign up on my website), I've been reading Heather Graham's The Presence (Harrison Investigations Bk. 2), about a haunted castle in Scotland. I'm also been reading Cherie Priest's Brimstone, about a dark entity, a clairvoyant town in Florida, and the link between a veteran and one of the clairvoyants.  I'm nearing the end on these two.

Now the NEA has its new book out for the Big Read next month, so I started reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John about a virus, civilization's collapse and a dystopian world. So far, so good. How did I miss this one? 

A related topic is the Death exhibit, Momento Mori: The Art of Death,  of death-related artifacts and art at the Kenosha, Wisc. Public Museum. I hope to catch that this coming week and will try to post some photos.

What are you reading or looking forward to?

Friday, January 26, 2018

#Horror Movies to See

Happy Friday!! 

I usually am watching most movies long after anyone else has already seen them, so these may be old news to you but...

What's your favorite horror movie you've seen so far?

I recently saw IT and I loved IT! Creepy clown, a few spots that make you jump, it really was done well. I liked that book when I read it many moons ago, though I admit I was initially disappointed the ending. But I love the mystery in the clown showing up over the generations and going back in history.

What's next? 
Jigsaw - Yes, I like the Saw movies. Icky, creepy, even if I cringe. So I am curious to see what this new one is about. Anyone seen it? Thoughts??

Other NEWS:

* Writing: LBZH 2: I took some days off from writing Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2. Was busy with nonfiction and I needed to set the project aside for a few days. It's good to do that as I got re-invorgorated, went in a new direction, and have made good progress. I may have to change this one part up a bit, not sure yet if I want it that way, but we'll see. And I can see the end - very soon!!

*  I've been collecting titles to include in a new monthly reading list. Hope I'll get to it before the end of January! Yes, I got a late start, but it'll be a good one - lots of great new stuff is coming out!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lost Skills and the #Apocalypse


Lost and Old Trades:

Saw an interesting article in Chicago Magazine about the last manual elevator. 

Remember elevator operators? The clang of the doors shutting, the young man dressed in a snappy uniform. It started me thinking of all the other things that have disappeared that we often forget about over time.

Automation and technical/technological advances have influenced how people have lived and worked in every generation. As a result, things/professions/needs disappear like:

1800s: Hand-made lace. Lacemakers went blind working by candlelight. Today it's more a charming hobby and talent than what used to be one of the few jobs where women could make money. How about candlemakers? (not commercial companies.)

1890s -1900s: Industrial revolution: Mills dominated. Cotton mills. Looms. Child labor.

1920s-1930s: Kerosene lamps, Oil lamps. Coal chutes. Leaving a number in the window for the iceman. Horse-drawn wagons. 

1940s-1950s: Remember the scissors sharpener coming around on his cart? Milk delivered in glass bottles. (Which was reinvented again in later decades.)

Other lost trades: 

* Wagon makers. Barrelmakers. Blacksmiths and horseshoers (though these do still exist and are used today.)

* The hatmaker: Taking hats in to be blocked and cleaned. Naptha soap.

* The shoemaker: Remember getting shoes repaired instead of throwing them out?

* The TV and radio repairman. Also car stereo installation.

* Dressmaking and tailor shops - though some can still be found.

* Should I add in American steelworkers and car manufacturers?

I'm sure I've missed quite a few. 

These days most everything is either computerized or mechanized, which offers its own set of  problems. Think computer malfunctions in airports, store system hacks, etc. It affects every aspect of life.

Technology will likely fail or be seriously hampered in some kind of apocalypse. (And you thought I'd never get to the theme of this blog? ha!) The electric grid will fail. Does anyone remember how to read maps - will younger generations even know how to use a compass or how to find their way if lost in the woods? Scary, huh?
--Christine Verstraete

* Anyone got any other trades I may have forgotten?

* Suggested reads:
This time I'm skipping the never-ending apocalypse - dystopian titles. How about something new? 

Apocalyptic and Trade History books: 

 * Lost Car Companies of Detroit

* Lost Skills of the 19th Century - Here's an interesting one. Stuff culled from the pages of past publications. Learn how to build a sod house, dance like the 1850s, hey even vaccinate yourself, and more. 

* The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs: Stuff most of people don't know unless they were in Boy Scouts and forgot from early Girl Scout days. Amazing, what you don't know or thought you knew, isn't it?

* Year One: Chronicles of the One - I admit I haven't read any Nora Roberts, but this sounds pretty interesting and has good reviews. When the description starts: The sickness came on quickly, and spread quickly. Fear spread even faster. That's a hook...

Monday, January 22, 2018

New #Horror Release: Screams You Hear

Something different for a Monday. Here's an excerpt and preview for Screams You Hear by James Morris, which released today! Don't forget to turn the lights on...

Murder and madness infect a small town

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone?

* Buy: 
Amazon - iTunes - Kobo

 Chapter One

I wake to pain, pain beyond comprehension, my skin on fire, only to find myself in a hospital bed, my arms bandaged, and wires snaking into machines. The burns are covered in white gauze and every motion, no matter how small, sends my nerves screaming. The air is heavy against my skin. And that smell. I can still smell the bitterness of my singed hair. I feel my head, expecting strands of hair, thick and wavy, but it’s gone. There are only splotches of emptiness, a topography of touch that alarms me. I wonder if it will ever grow back.
Tendrils of anxiety course through me, pulsing steadily. I need to wake up from whatever this is.
In spite of the pain, I caress my face and I have no eyebrows. Only stubble. No matter where I touch, my skin isn’t soft; it’s leather, a mask that rests too tightly against my skull. It’s like my skin is both expanding and contracting, pushing and pulling.
In the cyclone of terror, I remember. I remember everything.
I wish I didn’t. I wish it all away.
Around the room, there are no mirrors, and I know it’s no accident. It’s small comfort. I don’t want to see myself. I may never look in a mirror again. It’s only me and a bed, and colorful murals of elephants and giraffes on the wall, their cartoon smiles mocking me. I must be in the children’s wing, even though I’m sixteen. Next to me, an IV recedes into my vein. To my left is a button. It could be to call for assistance. Or to adjust the bed. But I think it’s something else. I think it’s for pain.
I could press it and disappear into numbness.
I could press it and just drift.
But there is something about pain. It’s the price of being alive.
The button is my litmus test.
I am stronger than my pain. I need to focus on something—anything. I need to distract myself.
I am not my pain.
I am Ruthie Stroud. I live at— wait—not anymore. I have a brother—no, not anymore.
I shut my eyes. I can’t shut them hard enough. Through the darkness, I still see fire. My world engulfed with flickering orange and reds. And the all-encompassing heat, heat beyond boiling, bordering on oblivion. Melting.
My last memory is coming ashore on the mainland, alone and fiercely tired. I didn’t walk, didn’t run. I moved, floating, held aloft by the most invisible of strings, my eyes on the horizon, people on the edges of my vision. Adults. I felt their gaze. The air was cool and moist and my skin so hot. Moving and moving; people staring. I hear them, words like police and 911 and oh my God. They surround me, a horde. They’re feral creatures, circling, their faces distorted. They are coming for me. I have no escape.
I scream and my world goes dark.
I open my eyes. A woman stands in the hospital room doorway. Her skin is the color of teak, her black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, and without a uniform, she’s clearly no nurse. I look down her button-down shirt and a badge is attached to her belt, a gun holstered at her side.
She says, not unkindly, “I’m Detective Perez from the Washington State Police.”
I knew the cops would get involved, even though they’re late. Far too late.
She waits for me to invite her in. “May I?”
I nod and my skin crinkles and cracks. She enters, pulling a chair beside my bed and sits down. Her brown eyes rest on me and then dart away. She can’t bear to look. I must seem a monster. She asks, “How are you feeling?”
I don’t know how to answer that question.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
Down the hall, I hear a child scream. From surgery or fear, I don’t know. I think fight the pain, fight the pain.
She speaks to me in soothing tones. “I need to ask you a few questions. About what happened. Can you talk?”
My mouth is dry, my throat sore, my vocal chords thrashed. I’d forgotten how much I screamed. I feel my skin wrinkle into deep crevices as I move my jaw, and it’s an effort to form words. Even my tongue feels burned; this strange muscle in my mouth. “Is my dad coming?”
“He’s on his way.” We share a bit of silence and I stare at the woman she is, the beautiful woman I will never be, and she says, “I’d like to start at the beginning. And if there’s ever a point where you need to stop, just let me know, okay?”
“There’s just one thing,” and I clear my throat. I force her to find my eyes. To see. To look. To understand.
“What’s that?”

“Don’t judge me,” I tell her. “I did what I had to.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Bram Stoker #Horror Awards Preliminary Ballot

The Horror Writers Association released their preliminary ballot for the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards. 

Here are a few short highlights, including writers and books that have been featured on this blog or whose names I recognize or from small presses. You can see the full list here.  Congratulations to all as the nominee ballot is determined next.

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Golden, Christopher – Ararat (St. Martin’s Press)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Hartwell, Ash – Tip of the Iceberg (Stitched Smile Publications)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Keisling, Todd – The Final Reconciliation (Crystal Lake Publishing)
McGuire, Seanan – Down Among the Sticks and Bones (
Waggoner, Tim – A Kiss of Thorns (DarkFuse)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
Bailey, Michael – “I Will Be the Reflection Until the End” (Tales from the Lake Vol. 4) (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Bodner, Hal – “The Baker of Millepoix” (Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities & Undefinable Wonders) (Crystal Lake Publishing)
Wahl, M.F. – “Absolution” (Feverish Fiction Magazine Issue #6) (Sleazy Viking Press)
Yardley, Mercedes M. – “Loving you Darkly” (F(r)iction Magazine #8) (Tethered by Letters)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
Cain, Kenneth W. – Embers (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
Maberry, Jonathan and Romero, George A. – Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Change yourself! Cartoon & #Zombie!

Hey it's Monday. So have some fun!

Mindless stuff you can do online -

Family Guy Yourself

Now I should take that and turn it zombie right? haa! Ok couldn't resist....

Make Me Zombie - and here's me: haa!

Zombify Yourself on PicMonkey -

Dead Yourself - Walking Dead App, ITunes - and on Google Play

Monday, January 8, 2018

Paris and... #Zombies?

One goal this year: I want to try featuring other blogs and things I come across and find interesting. Today's topic: Paris

Source: free vintage travel posters

Love Paris?

It was interesting reading about and seeing the wonderful photos fellow author and Facebook friend Kaye Wilkinson Barley took during her recent trip to Paris. Here she puts up an amazing list of books about Paris on her Meandering & Muses blog. 

Her book, Whimsey is "a  novel of southern fiction with a splash of magic and a touch of fantasy, topped with a sprinkling of humor. The magic was already there when cigar-smoking matriarch Elizabeth Calhoun established an artist’s colony on an island off the coast of Georgia and named it Whimsey." 

Sounds like a great afternoon read snuggled up with some tea and a comforter!

Now I like to read all kinds of things... And if you think the topic of Paris doesn't fit on this blog? haa!  Guess what? Zombies are everywhere! I got a big kick out of looking this up!!

Yes, there are some books with Paris - and zombies!!  Have fun looking up others! 

 An Alphabet of Paris Zombies, Amy Plum - Gruesome deaths in Paris written in couplets for each letter. Definitely different.

The Plague in Paris, Tyler Omichinski - Mr. Hildebrand and his valet flee the British Isles for Paris amid scandal. Will they survive the chaos there? Dry humor, pulp, 19th century. 

The Undying, Undying Series, Ethan Reid -  A young American in Paris must lead her friends to safety and escape the hungry undying in this apocalyptic thriller. (Great cover!) Book 2: The Undying: Shades: An Apocalyptic Thriller

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Review of Lizzie Borden's Doctor #Paranormal #Mystery

Lizzie Borden's Doctor Mystery, C.A. Verstraete

Hope you had a great start to 2018!

   I started out the new year right with a great new review of my companion book, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen in the Jan. issue of Uncaged Book Reviews  4 stars!  Read the review online.

   Here's part of it: "... An enjoyable story to go along with Lizzie Borden (Zombie Hunter)... Though it explores a slightly different facet of the paranormal genre, it fits nicely into the world Verstraete had already built. Additionally, she added one last bittersweet surprise to the end of the book that reminded me of the story's predecessor..." - Kaitlin, Uncaged Book Reviews, (Jan. 2018, pg. 90), 4 stars 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 2018 Lizzie Borden Writing! #zombies #horrror

Well it's 2018! 

I started January 1 on good footing - I laid off my writing of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2 a bit. I reworked parts of Chapter 1, which now works better, and I did a couple other chapters, then felt I really needed to work on the rest of the outline. 

I'm actually starting Chapter 13 (my chapters are short) and knew most of what I wanted to happen next. It's just along the way, I, at least, get bogged down in fearing I'm missing some points and trying to hook all the details together. It's always a big puzzle that needs careful assembly. Why an outline helps. I think I have most of it now and some of it also may get cemented once I write the next parts. That's why the outline is so useful.

Funny, I realize now that I overlooked one point - and I think I'll keep it that way as it would've put the story off in an unneeded direction -- and most of all I did NOT want to kill off a certain character. Not yet anyway.

Real Life? 
I like how the story is going, continuing where Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter ended, and following up on certain points: Are the zombies really gone? What happens to Lizzie after the trial and after she is acquitted of the double murders? What happened to her sister? Does she ever marry or fall in love?

Granted, Lizzie's life was fairly quiet and "normal" after the trial. Not much goes on in real life, so I'm incorporating some real life events from different time periods and of course a lot of it is fictional. Well, zombies, right? But I am still pulling in facts from the murders the year before and the trial since it was the reason why we even know who she was.

Not many chapters to go. This one will be a bit shorter, I think. I won't say much more though I'm going to really concentrate to finish. Kind of a NanoWriMo but in January. I'm late as I wanted to finish sooner, but I'm still on track. Stay tuned for details!

Monday, January 1, 2018


Wow, where has the year gone??? Thank you to all the visitors and readers who've come to the blog and read my/our books. Here's wishing you the best in 2018 and a wonderfully productive year!

Got any special projects in mind???