The Midnight Lullaby – Chapter One Excerpt

Everybody has secrets…

For years, Benedict Lyon has been living a lie. Not even his family knows the truth he’s been keeping from the world. Only Emmeline knows his secret—and she’s dead.

…some are darker than others…

When the matriarch of the Lyon family passes away, Benedict is summoned home for the funeral. Emmeline urges Benedict not to go, certain that if he returns to that house, neither one of them will escape.

…but are they worth dying for?

Their presence in the family home causes the spirit of Gloria Lyon to become restless, and as the remaining members of the Lyon family attempt to put their mother to rest, long buried secrets, some deadlier than others, are unearthed. Who will survive…

The Midnight Lullaby

Coming soon! Pre-order on amazon!

Chapter One Excerpt

Benedict was eight years old, sitting on a stiff chair in the dark hallway of a house he didn’t know. He clamped his hands around the edges of his seat, trying to press his bones so tight that they wouldn’t shake. His head whipped from side to side, unblinking as he searched for shapes.

“Tell me where it is!” Gloria’s voice boomed from the room down the hall. Benedict winced, squinting to see through the doorway and into the wild flicker of candlelight.

The witch screamed, writhing on the floor at Gloria’s feet. She chanted between her howls, head thumping back against the floor and narrow chest pushing high. Even from this distance, and even with her screeches in the air, he heard her bones cracking.

“Give me the book!” Gloria roared.

Wind rushed through the house, knocking the pictures from the walls. Windows cracked in their frames. Doors opened and closed with furious bangs upstairs.

“Can you see them?” Elysium whispered.

Benedict gulped ragged breaths, fear marching a parade through his chest with the big drums in his ears. “No.”

His brother sighed, the teen crouching in front of Benedict. “Benny, there.” He pointed down the hall, toward the open doorway and their mother’s booming voice demanding to know where the spirit-wielder hid her book of secrets. “There. You see that one? He’s big. You have to see him.”

Benedict cried but didn’t blink at the tears, staring down the hall through a liquid haze. He saw the doorway and the lights inside and his mother’s shadow cast across the twisting woman on the floor. “There’s no one in the hall,” he confessed.

The floorboards squeaked; he saw them straining and heard the heavy footfalls coming toward them, but he didn’t see the ghost.

“What’s happening?” Benedict begged, small voice almost lost under the raging of the house. He jumped at a scratching sound, claws on hardwood, and a sickly meowing.

“The witch is calling the spirits she’s trapped here,” his brother explained.

“Will they hurt Mother?” Benedict asked, still staring down the hallway. The heavy steps getting closer.

“Do you see him yet?” Elysium asked rather than answering, head whipping back and forth, watching something in the empty hall and studying his baby brother.

Benedict wrinkled his nose, trying not to cry.

The floorboards creaked closer and closer, his little heart fluttering wildly in his chest.

“Benny, you see him, right?” Elysium shouted over the groaning walls and wailing woman—over the scratching and the creaking and that awful meowing. “Benny—”

Benedict screamed when something pulled Elysium away from him and dragged his older brother down the hall, tossing him into a dark parlor with a heavy thud.

Benedict jumped down from his chair and ran after him, tears spilling over his lashes. He didn’t see whatever they saw, but he knew it was real. He looked around at the empty chairs and couches, his hands balled into fists against his sides. “Elysium?” he whispered.

A thump on the wall drew his gaze up, eyes straining and vision blurring at the edges.

His brother was there, pinned against the wall by an unseen force and held so high up that the top of his head almost brushed the ceiling. Elysium rasped in ragged breaths, heels kicking against the wall.

Benedict backed up, unable to look away until he bumped into a closet door. The scratching grew louder, the yowling from inside desperate. He twisted around and stared at the doorknob.

He knew he shouldn’t open it, but a whisper told him he had to. Something was inside…  something that needed out.

The boy reached up and used both hands to turn the knob. The door opened with a pop, and he shuffled back from it. For one blessed moment, the scratching stopped, the meowing went silent, and then the mangy monsters poured out. Cats, twisted and thin, half-decayed but still moving. Their claws scratched against the floor, never retracting into their paws, some with no meat to call a paw anymore. One looked up at Benedict, an empty socket and the glint of bone flashing at him. It meowed, and he could see the vocal cords rattling in its neck where the fur and flesh were missing.

He screamed, but the house only grew louder, trying to smother him.

And then he was off his feet.

For a second, he choked on his sounds, terrified that the ghost had snatched him up like it had Elysium, and then he inhaled and knew exactly whose arms he was in. His brother held him against his shoulder and ran from the room, kicking the door shut behind them. He didn’t stop, running straight down the corridor and toward the sound of their mother’s voice. Benedict buried his face in that shoulder, rubbing his tears out in the fabric of his shirt and hoping even now that Mother wouldn’t notice how he had cried.

Elysium put him down on his feet in a corner of the room, kneeling in front of him and pulling a piece of white chalk from his vest pocket. Benedict, drowning in his own fear, couldn’t stop gasping for air. Elysium drew a half-circle on the wood floor from wall to wall, closing Benedict into the corner, and then started sketching runes over the edges of the circle. “Don’t move,” he yelled over the storm of spirits.

Benedict bit his lip to keep from whining, looking past Elysium at the woman writhing in the middle of the room. She clawed score marks into the floorboards like the cats had, her orange hair long and knotted around her face and shoulders. Her boots thudded and kicked, but she couldn’t get away, pinned there on the ground by Gloria Lyon’s will. His mother stood over her, her dark hair braided over one shoulder and her sharp, black suit making her look like a shadow come to life. “Relent the book. Release the spirits. And I will spare you,” Gloria shouted, unmoved by all the shows of power the other woman had displayed—by all the fury of her creations in this house.

The woman on the floor screamed, and Benedict could hear windows breaking.

Elysium cupped the sides of his face in his hands, making Benedict look at him rather than them. “Okay, Benny. You know how this works.”

Benedict swallowed hard, trying again not to cry. He nodded once, and Elysium flashed him a smile.

Benedict closed his eyes.

The battle of wills continued to rage on, screams and thuds rampant in the house, but he didn’t open his eyes to see. He pressed the heels of his palms into his ears when the screaming grew to be too much, shaking his head when he heard Elysium cry out in pain and gasping for air when those horrible yowls grew closer and closer.

But he didn’t open his eyes. Not until the house had finally gone quiet hours later. Not until his mother picked him up from the corner and carried him out of the house. She put him in the back seat of the car, and he waited. When she came back, Elysium was with her, one arm broken and folded to his chest and the other carrying a worn, leather-bound notebook.

Benedict blinked out the window. The sun peeked over the houses down the hillside in bright wisps of pink and orange. When the house they had come from went up in flames, it wasn’t wisps of orange like the ones in the sky. There were no shades of pink. Just violent, furious heat.

Gloria had not spared the woman inside—not even when she gave up her book and released the spirits she had bound to her home.

Even Benedict, at eight years old, had known she wouldn’t show mercy. It wasn’t her way.

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How To Avoid Being In A Horror

I’ve watched/read a lot of horror and here’s my advice if you want to stay out of one. No guarantees though… just helping to increase your odds.

  • Don’t move. And if you HAVE TO move, don’t move out into the forest, or into your dark mysterious childhood home, or into an estate with a stranger’s furniture left behind. And most importantly, don’t move into one of those three houses they use in all the horror flicks! Safest bet–no stairs. Don’t know why, but ghosts and murderers love stairs.
  • Don’t buy boxes or wardrobes you can’t open and then bring them home to investigate later.
  • Don’t have kids. Sorry. I know most adults do, but it really amps up your chances of being in a horror flick…
  • Stop playing with Ouija boards!
  • Don’t break into closed stores, graveyards, warehouses, abandoned hospitals, or theme parks. It’s a crime, but more importantly, it could lead you into a starring role in a horror flick.
  • Don’t be a douchebag. Whether it’s a curse or Hannibal Lecter, a lot of people would have survived if they hadn’t been assholes to start with.
  • DO NOT PICK UP THE BALL. Sometimes a ball, usually red, will come bouncing out of seemingly nowhere–down the stairs, down the hall, across the yard, whatever. Don’t pick it up! Don’t touch it! Don’t kick it! Just turn around and pretend you never saw it.
  • Make no deals with devils. This should be obvious, but I guess it’s not. If someone wants to make a deal that sounds too good, it is. If they’re vague and sketchy–just assume they’re a soul eater, politely decline and run.
  • Don’t swim in the ocean. Preferably ever but definitely not at sunset/sunrise. And that’s really just life advice. Try not to flop around in the ocean when sharks are looking for breakfast.
  • Don’t hitchhike, hire sketchy tour guides, or throw sass at questionable people in the middle of nowhere.
  • DO NOT DRAG YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER INTO THE WOODS TO PROPOSE TO THEM WHEN YOU YOURSELF ARE NOT AN EXPERIENCED OUTDOORS PERSON.  You see how I don’t even know what an experienced outdoors person is called? And I would not take someone into the woods with me, away from all civilization and safety, because I think it’ll be quaint. It won’t be quaint. You’re gonna get eaten.
  • I’d add don’t desecrate graves, steal from alters, or take pictures of things you’re not supposed to take pictures of…but I did already say not to be a douchebag.
  • Don’t go off the trail.
  • Don’t invoke spirits/witches/demons.
  • Don’t vacation in a cabin in the middle of the woods.
  • Oh, and don’t be a brunette. Sorry.

Okay, I think that’s it… If you have more to add, let’s hear it!

Also, how many of these have you already done?

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INFERNAL

Infernal, my very first ever published horror book, came out last week! It’s available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and a bunch of other sites all conveniently linked below.

Please take a second to add it to your Goodreads if you use the site!

And if you do check it out and enjoy it, please leave a review! It means the world!

 

Goodreads

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

 

INFERNAL

Shrouded in Mystery

According to the legends, those who venture onto the shores of this cursed island never return.

Abandoned

Valerie DeNola and her sister Julie have chosen to ignore the legends and the warnings. They have been selected to lead a team of explorers to the island to discover the mystery surrounding it. But once ashore, they become cut off from the outside world, and what they discover is something they could never have prepared for.

Inhabited by Death

Now they must fight against an unknown presence that is picking them off one by one. No one can be trusted, and when even nature rises up against them, all seems lost. Their one hope is the extraction team they know is coming. But will any of them survive to see it arrive?

 

Published by Grinning Skull Press

Cover by Jeffrey Kosh

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Monster Movies!

Who doesn’t love a monster movie? This list is not going to include real world monstrous animals but the supernatural kind! Real animals get a separate list and a different though equally special place in my heart.

 

 

The Ritual

I loved this movie! A group of friends go on a trip hiking in Scandinavia after a traumatic event. They manage to make all the worst choices and it’s one of those stories that just gets weirder and weirder. I’ve never seen anything else quite like this one.

 

 

 

The Monster

I know. The title is a little on the nose, right? But it’s perfect! And the movie will blow you away. It’s so simple but so well made. A mother and daughter get stuck on a road in the woods in the middle of the night, in a storm, and they’re not alone.

 

 

 

Babadook

These actors do an amazing job of being so irritating at times and then so frightening. This is one of the stories where you wonder if there’s a monster haunting them, or if they’re just losing their minds.

 

 

 

Indigenous

Jungle horror! I was so surprised by this movie. A group of friends on vacation in Panama go out looking for a secluded waterfall.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Evil FAIRIES!

You read that right. Evil Fairies! I’ve been around the block a few times as far as horror flicks go and it’s something special when you see a creature you haven’t before. I love bad fairies! And these are so creepy. The little girl is a total jerk and her step mom tries so hard to save the day!

 

 

 

The Host

A huge monster emerges from a river in Seoul and wreaks havoc. This is a big scale monster movie, with great characters. I can’t recommend it enough!

 

 

 

 

Absentia (2011)

A woman and her sister link a creepy tunnel to recent disappearances.

This wasn’t a high budget film and yet it’s so creepy and well written. There’s only a handful of actors. And it’s amazing! It’s creepy and a throwback to dark fairy tales.

 

 

 

The Descent

The is a story of a group of friends that go spelunking, get lost, uncover betrayals, AND get hunted by scary, subterranean, people-monsters. Though hinted at throughout, I kept forgetting about the subterranean people-monsters during the first part of the movie because the spelunking was so intense and claustrophobic!

 

 

 

Dark Was The Night

Logging company upsets something ancient in the woods that begins terrorizing a small town. Eerie, snowy, and somehow cozy.

 

 

Was your favorite monster movie on this list?

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My Absolute Favorite Creature Features

I LOVE creature features! They’re somewhere perfectly between an action/survival movie and a horror.

By “creature feature” I mean known animals in the roles of monsters. No Big Foot or Predator or Alien on this list. This is where lions and tigers and bears come into play–but mostly sharks!

I will confess, I watch pretty much all the creature features I can find but this list is exclusively for the ones I would actually recommend to others.

I’m going to try to be as unspoilery as possible and keep things brief!

 

Jaws

My husband and I watch this movie at least once a year–not exaggerating. When everyone else gets the urge to go to the beach in the summer, we get the urge to watch shark movies and the first one is always Jaws. It is a masterpiece of funny, exciting, scary shark terror! Just don’t read the book. Seriously, it’s terrible. Don’t do it.

 

 


 

Rogue aka Territory

CROCODILE! I am a complete crocodile dork and pretty much think they are the coolest animal ever. There aren’t enough crocodile creature features in the world and of the handful in existence, this one is my favorite. A boat full of tourists are attacked by a big angry crocodile and then stranded on a little island!

 

 

 

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Anacondas. Not even the first one.

This movie is AMAZING! It’s fun and exciting and there’s a big snake!

 

 

47 Meters Down

This is one of my personal nightmares! Two sisters go cage diving with some sketchy guys to view sharks while on vacation. The chains snap and the cage sinks to the bottom! This was intense. I turned to my husband while watching this and told him to straight-up knock me out if we were ever in this situation because there’s a good chance I’ll lose my mind and rip off both our masks within five minutes. Better to get it over with.

 

 

Into the Grizzly Maze

Bears!

Beautiful country, lots of egos at conflict, and a big ass bear. Similar to Jaws but with a bear. This was a really fun movie and if you’re into forests, thrillers, and survival stories, you should give this one a try.

 

 

 

 

The Shallows

This movie is beautifully filmed and super intense. I admit, I was skeptical. How were they going to make a whole movie out of one woman being stranded on a reef? Well, they did! And every time the camera slides under the water I was holding my breath expecting to see a shark.

 

 

 

Did I forget any? What’s your favorite Creature Feature?

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