Dec 17, 2014

Book Blitz: Where Dead Bodies Lie by Kat Cazanav & GIVEAWAY


Where Dead Bodies Lie (The Body Dowser Series, #1)
Release Date: 12/16/14

Summary from Goodreads:
For as long as I can remember, I have been told to follow three important rules;
Always guard my ability
Never share my secret
And pretend to be normal.

However, those three little rules don’t make my life easier. I still find dead people and deal with strange visions. Not to mention, an attraction to a boy who doesn’t exist. Whenever we cross path’s he mists away like smoke on a mirror. He drives me crazy, that Kaff Cooper.

As a flock of dead crows fall from the blackened sky, Kaff becomes the only one who can see the truth straight to the dark underbelly of who I actually am.

My hands feel the pull to extract the forsaken, the lost, the forgotten. It comes as naturally as breathing and there is no stopping it. 

Author Links:


EXCERPT
“If you need tutoring, I’m available. I aced anatomy last year.”
“I don’t need tutoring,” I said under my breath.
“Really? Then tell me the most important body part.”
“Don’t be a perv.”
His mouth spread into a crooked grin. “ You’re blushing.”
“Eff off.” Lightheadedness hit me hard. All of a sudden I was praying the hottest boy I’d ever seen would leave me alone. “I’ll get detention if I keep talking to you.”
He didn’t budge. “The most important body part is the mouth.”
“A mouth isn’t necessary for survival,” I snapped.
He locked his doe eyes on me. “Lips are pretty important.”
I stared straight ahead out of fear I’d stutter if I looked him straight on. “You may think a mouth is important, but guess what?” I was clearly falling apart. “If you didn’t have a mouth you’d breathe through your nose, eat through a tube, and type words with your big toe.”
He thought about this. “You’re missing the point. What about kissing?”
Kissing? Jezzzus. This guy was hard-core. His beautiful lips were important for kissing someone, just not me. I rubbed my sweaty hands on my skirt and scratched my throat to buy some time. “I usually don’t kiss guys I don’t know.”
He struggled not to laugh. “Thanks for the heads up but the point I was trying to make was without a mouth, nothing starts.”
“My throat tightened. “Starts what?”
“As an example? Well, ever heard the saying, ‘nothing starts without a kiss’?”
Heat rushed to my cheeks. “No, I’ve never heard that.”
“Well, now you have.” And then he delivered the most beautiful smile I’d ever seen.
Guys like him went for shock value. They always did.


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Dec 16, 2014

Book Blitz: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss & GIVEAWAY



RUN RUN RUN
Gingerbread Man – Episode 1
A Nursery Rhyme Suspense
By Lee Strauss
Mystery Sci-fi/ Romantic Suspense



FRINGE meets CASTLE in this New Adult Sci-fi Mystery Suspense.

College girl meets boy online.
A killer targets girls like her.
She's next on the list.
The boy wants to save her.
She thinks it's him.

It's worse than they both think.

RUN RUN RUN is the first part of a three part episode - Gingerbread Man - in the romantic suspense series, A Nursery Rhyme Suspense by Amazon best-selling author Lee Strauss. 

Episode release dates:
1) Run Run Run - December 31
2) As Fast As You Can - January 7
3) You Can't Catch Me - January 14

Gingerbread Man (ep 1-3) complete - January 28


RUN RUN RUN is available for PREORDER on Amazon!

Buy on December 31

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Excerpt:

SAGE

“I met this guy,” Teagan said quietly. “He said something that kind of creeped me out.”
I blinked several times as I processed this and twisted to face her. “You’re online dating?”
She shot me a horrified look. “No! It’s not a dating site. It’s a campus chat room.”
Nora swung her legs around and returned to a sitting position. “What’d he say?”
“Well,” Teagan began, “he told me that there had been a rape and that I should be careful.”
I didn’t get it. “Why does that creep you out?”
“Because he told me about the rape before it happened.”
What? Nora and I chimed in together. “Before?”
I leaned forward and asked, “He predicted the rape? How?”
Teagan shrugged. “Maybe he’s psychic?”
“Or,” Nora began, “he did it. His way of playing with your head.”


AS FAST AS YOU CAN



YOU CAN’T CATCH ME



Read all three episodes by January 14 or wait until January 28 for the compete boxed set.

GINGERBREAD MAN
(episodes 1-3 complete)



Preorder on AMAZON


AUTHOR BIO:
I write mixed genre Romance, most recently The Minstrel Series.

I also write fun, lower YA fiction (time-travel and fantasy) as ELLE Strauss. I divide my time between BC, Canada and Dresden, Germany and enjoy drinking coffee and eating chocolate in both places.

Author links:



GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
eCopies of the Perception Series boxed set (the # of winners will match the # of blitz participants)
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Dec 15, 2014

Bout of Books 12.0 Sign Up

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I am so exited it's that time of the year again. I wasn't planning on joining originally since Xmas is an insane time for me, but I found myself having more free time than I expected and obviously I want to spend that time reading. Besides starting the year with a read-a-thon seems like the way to go! So stay tuned for my goals and updates.

Book Blitz: Inspire by Cora Carmack & GIVEAWAY

Inspire RDL Banner  

We are so incredibly excited to be able to bring you the Release Day Launch for Cora Carmack's INSPIRE! INSPIRE is a New Adult Paranormal Romance novel and the first book in her new Muse Series!! Holy canoli, y'all. Go out and get this today!

 
Inspire

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

About INSPIRE:
 Kalliope lives with one purpose. To inspire. As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real. Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal. Her presence may inspire genius. But it breeds madness, too.
  Inspire Teaser 3

Excerpt:
I can feel Wilder’s breath against my lips. More than that, I can see it. The sun has set and the temperature has dropped, and air fogs between us. There’s something about actually seeing it, like our lips are touching, we are touching, despite the distance between. And as we sway from side to side, my heart gradually begins to pick up speed. The strains of guitar music flowing out from the restaurant are nearly indecipherable over the heavy heartbeat in my ears. But Wilder must hear it. His hands are strong on my body, guiding my movements, and I’m practically clay in his palms. We dance, eyes on eyes, lips nearly on lips, and there is lightning beneath my skin each time his body brushes against mine in a new way. His touch is firm, but gentle, never pushing or pressuring, though I can tell from the dark look in his eyes that he’s just as affected as I am. The music shifts, building to a crescendo, and he spins us. My chest pushes tight against his, and I bite back a gasp. I don’t know if it’s the cold or him or some combination of both, but the tips of my breasts are painfully tight. Just the pressure of my bra is enough to rub them raw. I remember the night at his apartment, the way he’d taken his time learning my body. I think of the heat of his mouth on my skin, and the memory alone is enough to make me shiver and clench. He’s back to being business, grown-up Wilder tonight in his button down and glasses. Only now that I know him, it doesn’t seem like such a stark difference. He is neither the straight-laced man nor the tattooed bad boy. Or perhaps he’s both. Regardless of what he’s wearing, Wilder is caring and loyal and strong and so sexy that I’m having trouble remembering why I shouldn’t push him into the backseat of his SUV and crawl on top of him.
   Inspire Teaser 1
Headshot

About Cora Carmack:
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.        

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Author Goodreads ** INSPIRE Goodreads

 

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Dec 13, 2014

Book Blitz: Learning to Swim (Hearts Out of Water #1) by Annie Cosby & GIVEAWAY


Learning to Swim (Hearts Out of Water #1)
Release Date: 03/01/14

Summary from Goodreads:
"... a darkly romantic beginning to what promises to be an unusual contemporary YA fantasy series."
- Serena Chase, USA Today

When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.

Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?

As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.

Buy Links:

Learning to Swim is free on Amazon from Dec. 8-12, and the sequel, Learning to Live, is out now!


Excerpt
“Do you know of Shoney, dearie?”
I shook my head. “What’s that?”
“They say he was a spirit that dwelled in the waters near Scotland. Seonaidh, my Seamus would call him. Seamus had a great love of ale; it was the Celt in him. Do you know, people used to wade into the water and give an offering of ale to Shoney? It was meant to appease him and secure them a good harvest.”
I thought of drunken old Scottish men stumbling into the ocean and draining buckets of beer—draining just as much into their stomachs as the water. I didn’t say as much.
“But of course my Seamus liked to make a mockery of it. He was Irish, you know. He would go into the water with his ale and drink it all down—some might say that was a slight to Shoney.”
“I don’t think he’d mind,” I mumbled.
“Seamus liked to enjoy his ale, right here on this beach. You know, that is how we met. Me, swimming along minding my own business, and my Seamus roughhousing with ale and good friends.”
So she had met her husband when he was stark raving drunk. How quaint.
“I’d seen him before, of course. Every day, when I was swimming.” She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, possibly to see if I was listening. The parallels of the story were unsettling. Swimmers, spying, crushes, wanting to see the world? Who exactly had this old woman been talking to? Shit—did Ronan know more than he was letting on? Or was this woman just clairvoyant?
“But it took me a long time to make the change. To tell my mother. So when I came to the beach and met him, there he was with his ale. He was very taken with me. We moved into this little house and had a grand life altogether. Of course, as nature will do—it stifles things. Feelings. I started to yearn for a return to the water, but my Seamus kept me here.”


About the Author
I'm the YA author of the USA Today recommended HEARTS OUT OF WATER series and the brand new HUMMINGBIRD SAGA.

When I'm not writing, I'm usually freelance editing for awesome clients like Anna Katmore (formerly Piper Shelly) and Month9Books/Swoon Romance!

I split my days between my hometown, St. Louis, and my adopted love, Galway, Ireland.


Author Links:
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Dec 12, 2014

M9B Friday Reveal: Horror Business by Ryan Craig Bradford & GIVEAWAY

M9B-Friday-Reveal
Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

Horror Business by Ryan Craig Bradford

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
horrorbusiness2
Armed with a passion for classic B-grade horror movies, a script co-written by his twin brother, and a wicked crush on his death-obsessed neighbor; hardcore horror fan Jason Nightshade must finish his student film.
But his plans are derailed when the children of suburban Silver Creek start disappearing – his twin brother among them. Battling a possessed video camera, a crazy zombie dog, a monstrous bully, and a frighteningly broken down family life, Jason embarks on a mission to find his lost brother so the two can write an ending for his story.
As any horror fan knows, saving the day won’t be easy, as Jason finds himself forced to face the real world where death isn’t just a splash of fake blood on a camera lens.
add to goodreads
Title: Horror Business
Publication date: February 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Ryan Craig Bradford
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

Chapter 1

[rec 00.00.00]
Warm colors sharpen as the focus reveals an image of a boy. The boy sits patiently and stares at you. He giggles and sticks his tongue out as the image softens before settling on an appropriate focus. You recognize this boy because he looks a lot like me. A voice from offscreen tells the boy that everything’s ready, that he can begin whenever he feels like it.
Boy: What do you want me to say?
Offscreen: What’s your favorite scary movie?
Boy: Like in Scream?
Offscreen: Just answer the question.
Boy: What’s this for anyway?
Offscreen: Nothing really. Maybe a school project.
Boy: Fine. But a favorite scary movie? That’s like picking your favorite child.
Offscreen: Well, what are some of the ones you like?
Boy: I like ghost movies.
Offscreen: How come?
Boy: I think the only thing more frightening than opening a closet door and finding a knife-wielding maniac is opening up that closet door and finding nothing. If you take away all the monsters and serial killers, all we have to fear is ourselves. We create ghosts when there isn’t anything else left to scare us.
Offscreen: That’s deep.
Boy: Are we done yet?
Offscreen: Just state your name. You know, for legitimacy.
Boy: My name is Brian Nightshade and you’ve just tuned in to What I Think About Horror Movies.
Offscreen: Thanks.
The image goes black.

October
If we shoot a movie in black and white we use chocolate syrup. If it’s in color we use corn syrup with red food coloring.
So much sugar goes into blood.
Chocolate syrup was used for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Corn syrup was used for The Evil Dead. It was my brother who told me that.
Death needs to be sweetened.
I pedal past a row of shuttered buildings on my way to the grocery store. The faux-cabin exteriors only deceive the tourists that flood our town during the summer and winter months. Most shops simply shut down during the fall. Silver Creek has been dead since Labor Day and will remain that way until Christmas.
I check over my shoulder, hold my breath, and swerve into the road. A gust of wind blows a swarm of dead leaves into my spokes, some of which get shredded. The others get caught between the wheel and the fork. I enjoy the gory death of the red and gold foliage. A minivan pulls up alongside me. I make eye contact with the driver, a middle-aged woman with a sour face. She shakes her head and speeds away. I flip her off.
I cut to the left and let the momentum take me up the slight incline of the parking lot. I set my bike against the rack and leave it unlocked.
There’s a cork bulletin board at the entrance to the grocery store—a place where people can advertise yard sales, community events, or lost pets. It’s covered with brightly-colored flyers. The flyers declare their purpose with bold, 20-point font.
MISSING CHILD
The parents who make the flyers use the most attractive pictures, as if that will get their children found faster. I feel bad for the parents with ugly kids. The faces look at you, smiles frozen with gapped and crooked teeth because they haven’t had the benefit of a good orthodontist yet.
Some of the kids have taken to collecting them like baseball cards. Sometimes you’ll see a grief-stricken parent replacing a flyer of their missing kid. It’s awkward.
Hot pink, neon green, electric orange. I look down to avoid them. The neon looks awful and inappropriately bright. Like they’re trying to sell something.
I think again of sweetened death.
The corn syrup is expensive. I check for a knock-off brand on a lower shelf, but it turns out I’m holding the knock-off. The higher-priced bottle’s label shows an abstract illustration of a farm and boasts 100% organic. Mountain prices for a mountain town. Silver Creek loves to spend money on products that make it feel rustic.
There’s barely enough money in my wallet to cover the corn syrup, and I briefly contemplate changing the movie to black and white. I’m sure we’ve got a shitload of chocolate syrup back at the house. It’s been so long since my family’s eaten ice cream.
But no, it has to be in color. I’m not fucking around with this one. It’s going to be my masterpiece.
I wait behind Marilyn Mackie while the cashier rings her up. Mrs. Mackie fills the aisle; her ass grazing the gum and breath mints on the display behind her. She stares ahead until the cashier—a similarly large girl with braces—tallies the total of her groceries. The sum is humongous, and I can’t wait to tell Steve about how much the Mac Attack spent on food the next time I see him. Mrs. Mackie snaps out of her daze and notices me. The recognition makes her gasp and she puts a hand to her chest. It’s like she saw a ghost.
“Hi, Mrs. Mackie.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Jason. You startled me.”
I nod and look down at my shoes. I pass the bottle of corn syrup between my hands. Mrs. Mackie pays.
“How are your folks?” she asks.
“Oh, you know.”
“That’s good,” she says. “I mean, not good, but. …” She trails off. She exhales and her entire being deflates; her chin sinks into the comfort of her neck. “I’m sorry. It’s been hard for all of us.”
“It’s okay.”
The printer uncurls a receipt, and the checkout girl folds it three times before handing it to Mrs. Mackie. Mrs. Mackie pushes her cart of groceries forward while she reads the scroll of her purchases. I put the bottle on the conveyer belt and watch as it’s pulled toward the cashier. I wonder if she and Mrs. Mackie regard each other as past and future selves.
“You remind me of someone I’ve seen before?”
The checkout girl smiles at me and waits for my reaction. It’s not a question, really, but the upward pitch in her last word forces a glaring question mark. The white bands on her braces have turned yellow from neglect and she holds my corn syrup hostage while I think of a response. Mrs. Mackie looks up from her receipt. The terror returns to her face.
“Maybe it’s my brother. We’re twins.”
“Maybe. Or maybe someone famous?” She twists the bottle around in her hands. It’s disturbing the way she caresses it while she thinks. Her tongue sweeps her broad-set, braced teeth. I want to tell her again that it’s probably my brother who she’s thinking about, but I know that’s not true.
“Excuse me,” says Mrs. Mackie. “Are you new here or something? Don’t you know who he is?”
The checkout girl frowns and gives up. “I don’t know.” She sighs and chucks my syrup into a plastic bag. “They just tell us to be nice to the customers.”
She hands me the bag with a limp wrist. I take it without saying thanks. Mrs. Mackie, embarrassed from her outburst, waddles to the exit, and the automatic door swings open. I maneuver around her before she fills the doorframe and the electric eye senses my urgency. I jump out into the parking lot to feel the cooling-but-still-warm autumn air. I realize I’ve been sweating.
“Don’t listen to her. What does she know, anyway?” Mrs. Mackie calls out to me from the entrance of the store. She reaches into the pocket of her sweatpants and pulls a yellow flyer out, folded into fourths. “Things will work out, you’ll see.” She slaps the flyer onto the corkboard and tacks it in.
The automatic door closes slowly on Mrs. Mackie like a fade out.
***
My brother, Brian Nightshade, was the first to go missing.
Since then, Donny Yates was second, and then a week later it was Collin Stephenson. Bobby Islo, Andy Stoner, Clint Something and the girlish-looking Sean Fornier disappeared within a three-month span. Wendy Dee was the first and only girl to go missing so far. After her disappearance, the town’s cruel irritability toward these “runaways” was replaced by a surging fear of kidnappers and child-molesters. Every recluse and old person became a target for suspicion.
It’s funny how a girl can change things.
Greg Mackie was the latest one. He went missing last week.
Nine children so far.
***
I’m positive that The Lost Boys is the greatest vampire movie ever made, only because it’s the dumbest. Most vampire movies become bogged down by romance and other boring stuff. Or what Greg Mackie called it: moral ambiguities and penetration motifs. He was into that kind of theory stuff.
I lean my bike against the window of King Kong Video, Silver Creek’s only rental store. The clerk, a balding twenty-something, stares through the glass and frowns. He wears glasses and has a beard shaved to create a fake jaw line on his soft face.
A large portion of King Kong’s selection consists of VHS tapes. They don’t stock new releases, which is fine by me—I just download whatever I can’t find. New movies aren’t really scary anyway. I’m pretty sure the store stays in business because of their adult section, but it’s possible to find gems that only exist in analog: B-grade films with lots of gore and nudity. Some of them are actually okay.
“Please don’t lean your bike against the window,” the clerk says. “It could break it.” He’s got some pretentious foreign movie playing on the TV. Waves of an incomprehensible language float through the air. There’s a MISSING CHILD poster taped on the wall behind the counter. It’s Collin Stephenson, the third kid to go missing.
“You got The Lost Boys in?” I ask.
“Vampires?”
“Yep.”
The clerk tsks, but types the request into King Kong’s ancient computer system. He hits a key, and the machine lurches to life. It sounds like actual gears are carrying out the function. Collin smiles at me from over the clerk’s shoulder. It's been a long time since Collin's parents have printed any new flyers, making this poster somewhat of a collector’s item. I wander into the inventory while the computer thinks.
I peruse the horror section, admiring the artwork on movie boxes, noting which ones have the scariest screenshots on the back. Re-Animator 2 is a good one; Chopping Mall is all right but it has the best name of any movie. Frankenhooker is one of my favorites. I watched that twice in one night before.
When we were little, my brother and I were so scared of these boxes that we’d dare each other to look at them. Our mom made us stop when Brian started seeing monsters in the closet.
I pick up another box. The movie’s called Basket Case. On the cover, a claw pokes out from the rim of a wicker basket and a frightening set of eyes peer out from deeper within.
The movie is about two brothers: Duane and Belial. Conjoined twins. Doctors separate them at birth because of Belial’s monstrous appearance—like a tumorous mound growing out the side of Duane. Just a pile of skin molded into teeth and arms, really.
As adults, Duane carries Belial around in a wicker basket to exact revenge on the doctors that separated them. Because that’s what brothers do.
Last year me and Brian wanted to be Duane and Belial for Halloween, but we couldn’t agree on who got to be the deformed twin.
“Hey kid!”
I drop the box and catch it in mid-air before setting it back on the shelf.
“It’s out,” says the clerk. “The Lost Boys. Computer says so. Says it was rented two weeks ago.”
“Can I put a hold on it?”
“What’s the name?”
It’s annoying. I’ve been in this guy’s store nearly every weekend for the last two years and he still doesn’t know my name. Fuck his window. I hope my bike does break it. “Nightshade.”
The guy clacks away at the keyboard. His brow furrows. “Interesting. Says here that you were the last one to rent it.”
“What?” The clerk turns the ancient monitor toward me. The name NIGHSHADE reads out in green text. “I don’t have it.”
“Are you sure? You weren’t the one who rented it?” He slides his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I’m pretty sure it was you.”
“I rent a lot of movies here, but not that one. I don’t have it.”
“Pretty sure it was you. I have a good memory, Nightwing.”
“Nightshade.”
“Mmhm.” A victorious breath. “I don’t know. Not my problem. It’s on your family’s account, so either find it or pay the fine.”
The cassette playing the foreign movie cuts out. Dialog becomes muddled. Lines of static roll down the screen and the picture jumps from left to right. The image freezes and a loud clicking comes from inside the VCR. Interior whirring speeds up until the machine’s mouth spews out the tape in long strands.
“Shit,” says the clerk with more resignation than annoyance. I leave without renting anything.
***
The main streets of Silver Creek eventually feed into the suburban neighborhoods where houses are modern and earth-toned. You used to be able to walk outside at night and watch your neighbor’s big-screen TV from the street. You could even hear the pummeling action through their surround-sound. Most everyone keeps their blinds closed now. I stand at the entrance of my own house, hand on the door. Vibrations from my parents’ expensive sound-system massage my palm in spurts. This evening’s attempt at twilight is filtered through haze; shadows look smeared. It’s as if a far-off volcano has spewed its evil, and dominant winds have brought the ashes of creatures to settle in the atmosphere over our town, a dusty swarm of spirits that dims the sunlight.
I turn the knob and push. The house is vaguely humid. Mom’s watching a show about historical hauntings. On the screen, some guys are using night vision cameras and EVP recorders to prove the existence of ghosts. They never find anything, but my mom’s completely addicted. She doesn’t even know what EVP stands for.
They’re playing back the audio recording, enhanced for home viewers. The result is a high-pitched squeal that drops out in rapid successions. The ghost hunters try to convince us that this pattern is a ghost saying, Get out of my house.
“Mom,” I say. “Hi!”
Mom looks up from the TV. The screech continues. She waves. “Jason. I didn’t see you.”
I fall onto the cushion next to her. She has no scent anymore. In fact, a faint antiseptic odor has overtaken everything, muting out any sense of home. It’s the smell of keeping yourself busy, keeping your mind off things.
Mom points to the screen. “This house. They say it’s the most haunted house in America.”
“Don’t they say that about all the houses?”
“Huh?”
On the screen, a stationary camera catches a door closing by itself. The creak is deafening.
I shout my question again. Mom laughs. The crew runs toward the camera. The night vision filter makes their eyes look simultaneously alive and soulless, like wild animals. The host’s fear—captured by the green filter—is by far the scariest thing about these shows, not the closing doors or muffled audio. Darkness makes everyone look feral.
The show cuts to commercials that are nearly twice as loud as the ghost show. I stand to leave. Mom grabs my hand, squeezes, and lets it go. A loving acknowledgement. A wordless I know, or I’m sorry, or another deep-meaning pleasantry. I leave her alone to watch her show.
I push through the kitchen door and into an overbearing cloud of smoke, like walking through a sweaty cobweb. The smoke detector buzzes; its alarm sounds weak from overuse.
A pot sits on the stove; flames reach up the side with demonic glee. I shut the monster down. There’s no water left, just burnt spaghetti stuck to the bottom. I turn the sink faucet on and put everything under the cooling rinse. The pot, relieved of its torture, gives off a heavy sigh and unleashes one last puff of steam into the air. I silence the smoke alarm by taking it off the wall and removing the battery.
My dad walks in, waves smoke away like he’s used to it. He opens the fridge and pulls out a diet root beer. He empties half of it in one gulp. A belch blossoms out of his throat, and I smell a day’s worth of closed-mouth.
“What’s with all the commotion in here?” He nods toward the disassembled smoke alarm in my hand. “That’ll kill us, you know.” He winks and finishes his soda.
“It was going crazy. Somebody left the food on the stove.” I pick the pot up out of the sink and show him the caked-together mass of spaghetti, brown and drowning in the tepid water.
“Wasn’t me,” he says and lets the room suffocate on scalding air while he opens another can.
***
We eat sandwiches that night. Peanut butter and honey. The ghost show is still running (some sort of marathon, I guess). We eat at the table, but all our heads are turned to the TV. I peel the crusts off my bread and dangle them above my mouth before dropping them in.
The screech of an EVP recording makes us all wince. I look over to my mom, and her eyes are hidden behind glasses reflecting the images of men running from invisible pursuers.
At the commercial, my mom turns the sound down.
“How was school?” she asks.
“It’s Saturday,” I say.
“That’s my boy,” my dad says. He crams a last bite of sandwich into his mouth.
“Can I spend the night at Steve’s?”
“Sure,” Mom says. “Whatever you want.”
“Oh!” Dad says. “Honey, did you know you left the pot on the burner today?”
Mom looks down at her sandwich as if it’s a piece of evidence. “Oh.”
“Yeah.”
“Sorry,” she says. “Must’ve forgot.”
Dad nudges me. “Must’ve forgot.” He chuckles. “Get it?” He says this like an inside joke. “Get it?”
“I knew I forgot something,” she says.
“Damn near burned the house down. Ask Jason.” He looks at me for approval. I stare at the crumbs on my plate.
“She must’ve forgot,” he says again with some mysterious emphasis. He mouths it to me while Mom watches the ghost hunters. I clear my place without asking to be excused. Mom turns the soundtrack up to ear-splitting levels. Dad grabs my wrist; he’s laughing so hard that the crumbs on his belly are shaking off onto the carpet. Tears stand in his eyes. I still don't know what he finds so funny.
“Get it?” he keeps asking.

Horror Business
We didn’t fuck around when it came down to business: just like how the original Evil Dead was a better movie than Evil Dead II. Just like how the original Halloween was better than Friday the 13th, but still not as good as Nightmare On Elm Streets I and III. Just like how The Ring was good, but every other remake of a Japanese horror movie sucked. Just like how the Re-Animator might be the best comedy-horror ever made, and how there really hasn’t been a good vampire movie since The Lost Boys.
Like how we knew that the original Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Like how it’s lame that you now have to say “the original” when talking about a lot of horror movies.
Like how we thought Pinhead was a good villain but Hellraiser was confusing.
How 28 Days Later is not a zombie movie, technically.
And how movies aren’t really as scary as they used to be.
Horror business was our business, and we didn’t fuck around.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
ryanauthorpic3-300x200
Ryan grew up in Park City, Utah. His fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Paper Darts, Vice, Monkeybicycle and [PANK]. He currently lives in San Diego where he acts as Creative Director for the nonprofit literary arts organization So Say We All. He’s the co-editor of the anthology Last Night on Earth and founder of the literary horror journal, Black Candies.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
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