Valentine’s Story by Jewelienne Crites: “Valentine’s Cray”

Today I am featuring a Valentine’s story written by guest blogger, my daughter,  Jewelienne Crites.

Ever since everything happened, I’m just not me anymore.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I don’t really see what is so great about it. It’s the same thing every year: love letters, kisses, trashy movies, and all the other lame things that you can imagine. Of course, my favorite part is when the candies all go on sale, but that’s the only thing besides maybe a couple Valentine’s horror movies!  

February 14th, 2017

I was deep in thought, sitting all alone in a candle-lit room, staring at my shadow on the wall. So many thoughts were racing through my head right then that I was not quite so sure that I wasn’t crazy. I pulled out my laptop and opened my Facebook. I was so sick of seeing love posts all over social media that I just wanted to break my laptop into a million pieces and then toss it in a river. I slammed my laptop shut and that’s when it all happened. Well, so I think. 

I heard a mysterious noise that sounded like it was coming from my ceiling but at the same time it sounded like it was possibly coming from my laptop. Very confused and quite frightened, I began to go for a stroll around the block to ease my mind. I had been in that room for so long by myself that I’m pretty sure I was hallucinating. There are not very many people around in this little ghost town, and only a couple other people live in the apartments by me.

The sound of screeching tires approached behind me, but by the time I could function and figure out what was taking place, it was too late. I was helplessly lying in the back of what seemed to be a van, but I wasn’t quite sure. My head was killing me, and my vision was pretty blurry. I had come to the conclusion that I’d been abducted, and I had not a clue what to do about this outrageous situation! Lying there motionlessly, I tried to speak, but I couldn’t seem to get any words out. I tried screaming, I tried yelling, I tried humming, but still I remained mute. I was a tad frightened and unaware of what in the world was happening to me. I wasn’t tied up or gagged, but it didn’t seem that I needed to be since I was frozen and mute. Finally, the van came to a sudden stop and I could hear somebody making their way to the back of the van. The back door flew open, and I was harshly thrown to the ground. 

The masked creature put me in a cold, dark room and left. I was very confused but did realize that I could move once again. Lying there on the floor, I began to roll over, catching a glimpse of a terrifying creature, I almost shit my pants! I was still in need of several answers but it was super weird that I still couldn’t speak. This odd looking person began to speak to me. When the person came over to stand me up, I noticed a strange heart-like tattoo on their arm. I was certain of who this person was now but still very confused. He told me that he was Cupid, and that I would pay for everything that I had done, and that I had ruined Valentine’s Day, and blah, blah, blah. I knew right then for sure that it was my ex. He truly is crazy, and now he calls himself Cupid and tries to modify his voice and everything. I knew I’d get out of there, but I’d have to play along to his stupid little game. 

I don’t know what happened, but I randomly woke up outside on my porch! I quickly ran inside to grab a lighter and a candle, and then off to my ex’s I went. I took my candle in one hand and the lighter in the other. I lit the heart-shaped candle and threw it through his window, watching his whole house burst into flames. I could hear the painful screams that he was releasing, and I was enjoying listening to it, but that’s when the cops arrived.

February 14th, 2020

That is why I am writing to you from here today. On February 14th, 2017, I was admitted to an asylum. 

I am writing you this to let you know that I truly am not crazy, I just think that all these people here are working together. In the report that was written, it stated that there was no guy by the name of Kye that lived anywhere in the neighborhood. It was stated that I burned up some old lady that was living down the road from me. 

Every now and then I still hear him whisper, ”I am the cupid!” But don’t tell them I told you that. He was crazy and he has to be the one behind all this. The only reason I had drugs in my system was because he drugged me when he abducted me. That explains why I was mute and couldn’t move. Then he must’ve thrown me out on my porch. Nobody will believe me, but I will prove it one day and get out of here. None of my family wants anything to do with me now; they say that it is bad for their reputation. I still hate Valentine’s Day – I forever will hate it with a passion. 

2020

Is it too late into the year to say Happy New Year? Maybe, but I haven’t had a blog post since November of last year!! It’s been almost three months, although it really doesn’t seem like that long in a way. Things really got hectic for me in November, and they didn’t slow down any during December and the Christmas season. I would almost say things are at a more tolerable pace at this point, but, I don’t know, life is always hectic!

February is usually an exciting month for me, but this year, February seems like it’s going to be a winner. It’s WiHM, and we have a special collaboration coming up that I think you’ll like. (More information on this later!) I have plans for short stories for Valentine’s Day, my latest Miranda Snaps, and my birthday–all coming to Kendall Reviews! Whew! So, I just thought November and December were busy. Ha! Ha!

This month (January, although the blog appears to think it’s already February), I have finished four books: Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor, Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, Bottled by Stephanie Ellis, and The Corruption of Alston House by John Quick. I began two books that I won’t be able to finish until next month: In Darkness Delight Masters of Midnight edited by Andrew Lennon and Evans Light, and Until Summer Comes Around by Glenn Rolfe. (Reviews for those books are coming soon. Bottled is up on the KR site.)

Also, my friend Steve Stred sent me a story called Constant Creepers that he and Brian Bogart wrote. This fan-fic collaboration is set in the world of Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. It is an absolute brilliant piece of work! I don’t know why I didn’t know about this before, but it’s an excellent piece of fan fiction that I would highly recommend to any King/Chizmar fan. If you get in touch with Steve Stred, he might just hook you up!

As a sub-editor, working under the amazing Tabatha Wood, I’ve also been reading a lot of stories that have been submitted to the Black Dog, Black Tales charity anthology. Find out more about this charity anthology and maybe even submit your own story here. 

I had planned something entirely different for this blog post, but I had some trouble, which all boils down to internet issues, and by the time I finally got here to write, (logging in helped! Oops!) I had lost a bit of my steam. Since I don’t have any photos on my computer due to a massive glitch where I had to wipe my computer clean, I won’t be adding any (BOO HOO!) photography today.

Here’s to a wonderful 2020! I hope it’s going well for you.

Keep reading, writing, and reviewing!

~Miranda

P. S. For some reason, the blog appears to be posting ahead of time. It’s showing up that it’s already February 1. Almost but not quite.

 

 

Giveaway Time!

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I haven’t been doing a good job at keeping up with my blog over the last few months, but I have a huge announcement!

Recently, my good friend, Steve, hit 1,500 followers on Twitter. I was congratulating him on this fantastic milestone, and he said, “We need to get you to 1,000!” So, we talked about doing a giveaway, and let me tell you, when Steve does something, he really goes big time with it.

Steve is kindly providing the prize for this giveaway for me just out of the kindness of his heart. This is a BIG PRIZE, a big deal, and something exclusive to the winner. I wish I could win because what he is offering is nothing short of amazing.

All you need to do is follow us on Twitter. Simple enough!

Now, I’m turning this over to Steve.


The Stranger Cover

Let’s Get Miranda to 1000 followers!

Hey all – Steve here, your friendly Canadian author.

My good friend, Miranda is someone EVERYONE needs to follow. Funny content, stunning photos, great short stories and poems and her awesome monthly feature on Kendall Reviews called “Miranda Snaps.”

I want to help her get to 1000 followers.

So here’s what I’m thinking – folks like to win stuff.

Let’s bundle the two together and once she gets to 1000 followers we will give something away!

What’s the prize?

How about your very own 1 of 1 book?

I did a limited run of 30 hardcovers of my summer 2019 release ‘The Stranger.’

So how about, once she gets to 1000 followers, I’ll make one just for you – the winner.

Miranda can do a draw and announce the winner. I’ll then make a brand new copy, made specifically for the winner – it will be signed and personalized, with the signature line saying:

“This is copy 1 of 1 specifically made for___________” with the winner’s name included there.

I’ll then get it shipped off to you to enjoy!

So, what do you say? Let’s get Miranda to 1000 followers – before she snaps!

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The Night Crawls In: Horror Author Steve Stred Guest Post

Hello, hello! Today I am extremely excited to host a guest post from my friend, horror author Steve Stred!

Steve is one of the most selfless people I know. He’s always paying it forward, giving back to the horror community, supporting fellow authors, etc. If you’ve known Steve any amount of time, I’m sure you already know what a wonderful person he is. Personally, he’s helped me in more ways than he will never know, especially encouraging me to write more.

Steve was looking for a home for a guest post to talk about his latest book, The Night Crawls In, which comes along with an outstanding project he’s working on!! Without hesitation, I messaged Steve and offered him a space here on my blog where he’s welcome any time.

Enjoy!

Miranda


 

Hey everyone!

As you may or may not have heard/seen, the fantastic Ladies of Horror Fiction crew have partnered up with yours truly to official launch the 1stAnnual LOHF Writers Grant.  I wanted to find a way to give back to the horror community and the Ladies of Horror Fiction were all about helping facilitate this!

For full details and how to apply, please click the link:

https://www.ladiesofhorrorfiction.com/2019/07/26/2019-lohf-writers-grant/

If you clicked on the link – you’ll have read that this idea festered and grew spores after a convo I had with my friend Miranda (who is kindly hosting this post!). I don’t recall how I connected with Miranda – it may well have been over on author JZ Foster’s Facebook page. Now that I write this – I’m almost certain that’s how we connected, but it didn’t take long before we became friends. She’s beta-read a number of my works and has always been a great supporter. Her photography is amazing and (while she won’t readily admit it) she’s a fantastic writer! I keep pressing for her to get a collection together and release it!

Now to help fund the initial grant disbursement, I’m releasing a poetry/drabbles collection. On September 1st, 2019 The Night Crawls In will arrive. Containing 33 drabbles and 17 poems, all ebook presales and 1stday paperback sales will go towards funding the first grant. All additional sales there-after will be put towards future grants!

I worked with Mason McDonald once again to create some killer artwork for the cover, which you can see here as well!

Now – in order to get you excited and maybe even get you wanting to pre-order, please enjoy a drabbles and a poem, featured in The Night Crawls In!

 

First Day. (A Drabble)

 

My little boy, growing up before my eyes.  The years fly by so fast.  Then one day, he’s got his backpack on and he’s waiting at the bus stop.

I sit in the car across the parking lot, watching.  He doesn’t want his dad cramping his style, even at this age he’s become too cool for his old man.

The bus pulls up, the kids start to file on one at a time, he’s near the back.

Finally he climbs aboard, turns and sees me.

As the bus pulls away he smiles and waves.

He’ll always be my little boy.

END

 

The Other Side. (A Poem)

 

The doc gave me a red pill, to help me forget

A white pill to help relax me a bit

He gave me a yellow pill to open the door

And a little bag containing some more

Then he had me close my eyes and stare at the wall

It started to shimmer and slowly dissolve

Then the doctor told me to stand and said I could walk

And when I passed through the flicker, he asked me to talk

I didn’t look back to see what he said

The tentacles descending ensured I was dead.

END

 

 

As for the content of each –‘First Day’ was written when we signed up my son for playschool. He turns three in a few weeks, as of writing this, and I just can’t believe how fast he’s growing up and how fast time is moving.

‘The Other Side’ was a short story idea I had sitting there for over a year, at least. Originally I had been thinking of writing a story about the government experimenting with people taking pills and allowing them to walk through the shimmer of reality and end up in a monstrous other side. Then I started to think maybe it’s too much ‘Stranger Things-ish’ and decided to scrap it. But it just lingered there and so I wrote this drabble!

So – there we go!

Big massive thanks to Miranda for offering up a blog spot!

 

The Night Crawls In

Pre-order The Night Crawls In here.

Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.

Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.

On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive.

Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.

Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.

Find all of Steve’s books here.

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The Bone Cutters by Renee S. DeCamillis (Book Review)

Dory finds herself in her closet with a bed, a mental institution, under the care of a redheaded nurse with a nametag reading Nurse Hatchet.

Dory doesn’t understand why she has been committed to this odd place. The staff seems shady. She’s being overly medicated for a condition she doesn’t believe she has, but she’s crazy or she wouldn’t be here, right?

She is thrown into group therapy where she quickly realizes she doesn’t belong. This group is full of addicts. She can see their scars, but she doesn’t completely understand what the scars mean, not yet. It doesn’t take long to find out what those scars mean, what the addiction is that the other patients crave. Dory has never heard of such a thing as getting high from dust of human bones. Cutting deep down into the bone and scraping the dust to get the world’s most intense and dangerous high, and the most coveted bones are those who’ve never been cut, those who have never been dusted. And Dory has never been dusted. The other patients can smell that of Dory, and they yearn to cut into her body to feed their addictions. She believes all the other patients are the crazy ones, and along with a new friend, tries to save herself from the dusters and the seemingly shady nurse.

The first thing I realized about The Bone Cutters was that it was written in first person, and we have a lot of broken thoughts from Dory in the beginning. She is, after all, medicated and committed to a mental institution, and I feared we could end up in the world of psycho-babble. That was not the case. I immediately fell in love with Dory, the writing style, the story, and I was glad she made a wonderful friend in the most unlikely place. This is a terribly heart-wrenching story with a bit of a haunted house/ghost vibe where you’re also being chased by a bunch of crazy people who want to devour your bones. I didn’t want to put this book down. For me, it was one of those stories you constantly think about while you’re doing chores and all the things that keep you from being able to get back to reading. I read about half one evening in small snippets between jobs I was working on and finished the next morning. It’s a quick, fast-paced read and could easily be read in one sitting.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

4/5 stars.

The Bone Cutters

“Dory finds herself involuntarily committed to a mental institution and has no memory of how she got there. She is assigned to a counseling group where she doesn’t belong. The people in this group have a very peculiar addiction. The addiction to getting high by carving into their own bodies. They slice themselves open, down to the bone. Then they chisel and scrape the bone into dust and snort it, smoke it, or cook it and inject it. It’s called Dusting and it is the most intense and dangerous high known to man.

Dory’s never heard of Dusting. The thought of someone mutilating their own body just to get high disturbs her to no end. She thinks these people are sick and wants nothing to do with them. But when the Dusters start to see her as a drug, Dory realizes that she’s become a target. They want to use her. They want to get to her bones. Fresh bones give the most intense high and Dori has never been dusted. The hospital staff doesn’t believe her. She’s crazy, remember? It doesn’t matter what she tells them. They keep her locked in a padded room and force her to keep going to the group. But Dory is not as crazy as they think and she must find a way to escape before it’s too late.

Like Girl Interrupted and The Yellow Wallpaper, The Bone Cutters is one woman’s dark and surreal experience with a madness that is not necessarily her own.”

Review originally published on Kendall Reviews where I am a book reviewer. Thanks to the publisher, New Bizarro Author Series, for the eARC.

http://kendallreviews.com/the-bone-cutters-renee-s-decamillis-kendall-review/

Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch (Book Review)

Thanks to Donna Lynch and Raw Dog Screaming Press for providing me with an ARC of Choking Back the Devil and to the publicist, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, for adding me to the reviewers’ list for this book.

Horror poetry? Yes, horror poetry. It’s one of my favorite things.

Coming in at just under one hundred pages, this book packs quite a punch. It’s filled with ghosts and curses, witches and legends, panic and fear, demons and monsters. And pain.

I sat and devoured this book, likely in record time. I couldn’t help myself. It pulled me in, dug in its claws, showed me its razor-sharp fangs, and we feasted together.

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Donna Lynch has beautifully crafted these dark poems. They are horrifying yet beautiful. They ring true. They make me feel…they make me feel alive, spark a fire deep down inside me that sometimes is nearly extinguished. As dark and wicked as they are, they calm me, let me know I’m not alone, and bring me back to life.

Two lines from the poem, “Legend” specifically spoke to me.
“Because those painful things aren’t pieces of you they’ve taken
They are gifts given.”

Sometimes we need that small reminder.

I will cherish this book forever. When I feel anxious or sad, I’m going to pull this book off the shelf and read it again.

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Monsters Are Real

I was once stopped at a book fair by a woman who I assume was a romance author and asked, “Do you ever read any romance at all?” Immediately I apologized because that’s just part of what makes (made) me who I am (was). I don’t know what makes me feel the need to apologize unnecessarily for simple things or feel guilty about saying no, but that’s me, or it was.

So, then came the big question, “What do you like to read, then?” 

Here we go. 

“Horror,” I answered. 

The lady pretty much cringed and said, “OH, wow! Horror! Well, that’s certainly quite a genre.” 

It is quite a genre! For me, nothing can compare. 

Reading (and writing) is my escape from reality. For some it’s music, running, or baking. With music, my mind wanders too far too fast, so music alone doesn’t always work. Even audio books don’t quite cut it for me. It takes more concentration for me to read, and with audio books, like music, my mind tends to wander. I guess I’m easily distracted. 

Horror stories bring me to life. They make me feel. They wake me and shake me, keeping me on my toes and are forever reminding me to never let down my guard. 

The true horror I need to escape from is reality. I’m not afraid of what’s between those pages, but what roams the earth on two legs is a different story. These people are filled with insanity and drugs— a cocktail for terror. They lie, cheat, and steal their way through this life. It’s not the physical things, the material things, that they take away that hurts the most, although it delivers plenty of pain and hardships. These monsters steal our peace, our security, our emotional well-being, our sense of safety. They destroy our mental health, instilling a never-ending world of fear, pain, panic, anxiety, depression, and suffering. 

No, I don’t want to be taken away to land of butterflies and fluffy kitties by knights in shining armor. Or maybe I can’t be taken there because those places don’t truly exist anymore, (but I really do love butterflies and kitties). Reading all this cheerful, happy ending stuff doesn’t work for me. It’s not reality. You stand up, you fend for yourself, and you fight your way through it. It’s an exhausting battle.

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I no longer apologize for my love of reading horror. Nor do I any longer apologize for the horror stories and poems I write. You just need to enjoy what you can in this life. Do what makes you happy, and do it unapologetically. 

Read romance or horror or bizarro fiction. Read the newspaper or a magazine. Read erotica or fantasy. Science fiction or non-fiction. Read what speaks to you. Write what you want. Watch what you want. Go for a walk or run. Bake and decorate an intricately designed five-tier cake. Build a birdhouse or a human house. Do the happy things. 

And don’t be a monster. 

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” — Stephen King