Killing It Softly 2 Makes the 2017 Solstice List of Best Horror
So thrilled my story, “The Idlewild Letters’ is included in Killing It Softly 2, now the number one anthology on the Solstice List of Best Horror in 2017!
The Solstice List©2017 The Best of Horror
What is horror? For me it is unlike any other genre of writing. Horror is an emotion. It is not tangible. It is something felt in the back of your mind, and in the base of your spine. It creeps up on you gently, lovingly, one step at a time. You flinch and it backs off to give some breathing room and then starts the journey once more. It takes you in to envelop you in a cocoon of safety, before you see the fangs, and the darkness hits.
No other genre creates such raw, powerful, visceral responses as horror, and that leads me to my second circumspect view. What is considered horror? Does criminal psychology fall into this category? Fears? Phobias? Everyday life?
My background in studying human behaviour for the past four decades, psychiatry, psychology, and more specifically, psychopathy and sociopathy, leads me to give this question a resounding yes. Criminal behaviour and psychopathy definitely fits the horror motif. Any normal parent that raises a psychopathic kid will tell you, evil exists. And yes, the professors and doctors will state emphatically that children cannot be psychopaths. They are wrong. Psychopathy can be witnessed in kids as young as six and by the time they are teens, they are well on their way leaving a path of destruction and chaos behind.
As a kid I devoured books on vampires and werewolves. I was not a big fan of mummies, but Egyptology held me spellbound for days. The idea of being buried alive next to the King fascinated and horrified me at the same time. I could picture vividly, the dead king wrapped with muslin cloths, and then the wife, cocubines and animals wandering around the tomb, waiting to die.
Being raised Catholic for six short years really instilled my fear of demons and Satan. Whatever you say about Religion or Catholicism, it can raise the most amount of fear in the shortest time frame. Having extrapolated myself from the Catholic Church by the time I was seven because of the misogyny and patriarchal views, five decades later, I still fear and am attracted to the Rite of Exorcism. The fingers of the Church run deep. I admit, these stories always hold a special part in my heart.
This year’s list has some special people on it; people I love to read and admire and have grown very fond of personally, and to my great delight, people I have never read before.
I started The Solstice List© six years ago. I was new to the Horror Writer’s Association and it always bothered me that only certain authors were getting recognized. I understand the association has their rules, and rightfully so. But I was reading all these great books by unrecognizable people and it bothered me they were not getting the recognition they deserved. Some did not belong the HWA, and others didn’t know about the HWA. And some of these books were published in the past so were not eligable for the HWA.
I wanted a forum to recognize great writers regardless of publishing date, so I created this list to honour those writers. I had a few rules: must be edited and must hold my interest (yup, that’s subjective). I read a lot, and if get caught up in the grammatical errors, typos and plot holes, I lose interest real quick.
What turned me off were writers saying ‘hey I go this book, don’t have time to edit it, but buy it anyway.’ As an Indie book lover, for the love of all that is holy, do not think you are the only writer that does not need editing. For, my love, we all do.
The Solstice List© 2017 The Best Horror Not to Be Missed.
1. ED AND LORRAINE WARREN IN A DARK PLACE: Carmen Reed, Al Snedeker and Ray GARTON
The story of the most terrifying case of demonic possession in the United States. It became the basis for the hit film “The Haunting in Connecticut” starring Virginia Madsen. Shortly after moving into their new home, the Snedeker family is assaulted by a sinister presence that preys one-by-one on their family. Exhausting all other resources, they call up the world-renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren — who have never encountered a case as frightening as this… No one had warned the Snedekers their new house used to be an old funeral home. Their battle with an inexplicable and savage phenomena had only just begun. What started as a simple “poltergeist” escalated into a full-scale war, an average American family battling the deepest, darkest forces of evil — a war this family could not afford to lose. Books by Ed & Lorraine Warren also include Graveyard, Ghost Hunters, The Haunted, Werewolf, and Satan’s Harvest.
2. PIG: Craig SAUNDERS and Edward LORN
Pointvilla… A quiet town, the kind of place old folk go to watch the sea roll in and the years roll out. The kind of place guys like the man in the pig mask can make an easy dime, or an easy killing. An ancient entity… An inhuman intelligence crawls up the shore and sprawls over Pointvilla. A thing capable of stealing bodies, and drawing minds into one, into it — the MIND. An intelligence pulling Pig Mask inward as others swirl around Pig himself, like he’s a planet, a force, and the rest are drawn by gravity. Brothers… Ray and Bill are kin. The entity might understand loneliness, and the drive to consume and kill and torment…but it doesn’t understand brothers and sisters. It doesn’t understand siblings. Some people are tied together by more than blood. In a town at one with the Mind, survival comes down to brothers and sisters and old dudes with a penchant for good weed.
3. THE NIGHTLY DISEASE: Max BOOTH III
Sleep is just a myth created by mattress salesmen. Isaac, a night auditor of a hotel somewhere in the surreal void of Texas, is sick and tired of his guests. When he clocks in at night, he’s hoping for a nice, quiet eight hours of Netflix-bingeing and occasional masturbation. What he doesn’t want to do is fetch anybody extra towels or dive face-first into somebody’s clogged toilet. And he sure as hell doesn’t want to get involved in some trippy owl conspiracy or dispose of any dead bodies. But hey…that’s life in the hotel business. Welcome to The Nightly Disease. Please enjoy your stay.
4. BURIED IN BLUE CLAY: LL SOARES
Reddy Soames, has arrived in Blue Clay, Massachusetts to write a book about the local urban legends. He’s been communicating with several people by email that he thinks are crackpots, with the intention of interviewing them. But soon, the book becomes secondary, as he enters the orbit of a mysterious guy who goes by the initials HEK.
HEK is something of an underground legend, and it seems like he has a hand in everything that goes on in Blue Clay, behind the scenes. After a while, it becomes clear to Reddy that HEK is grooming him for some future role.
Along the way, the secrets of Blue Clay are opened up for Reddy, as he becomes aware of the truth behind the legends. A truth he will wish he never unearthed.
5. SINKHOLE: Kenneth GOLDMAN
The slug-like Wogslȗk are in your head. Oh, maybe a familiar song might connect you with what little remains of your former self while your brain dissolves on its stem. But in the end the creatures will have you and all your memories too — and they’ll have your soul in the bargain.
But young Zachary and his beautiful stripper pal, Tiffany, know what lurks beneath the cul-de-sac called Diamond Loop, and they know of others who had discovered the Wogslȗk many years earlier in a small New Mexico town.
They know how it ended for them.
Now the Wogslȗk have returned. They’re stronger, they’re smarter, and they’re determined to get inside your head.
Sing if you must. It may seem your last chance.
But it won’t help…
6. THE UNFLESHED: THE TALE OF THE AUOPSIC BRIDE: Lisa VASQUEZ
Young Morrigan, the daughter of a local aristocrat, is full of innocence and life. Angus Wulfe is an eccentric and devious doctor who stalks her while he cultivates a plan to win her affection. Their two worlds collide in a grisly twist of fate when the Plague arrives on the shores of their town. With no cure in sight, and bodies dropping incrementally every day, the doctor uses his influence, along with his reputation in medical advances — stemming from his clandestine and macabre experiments-to manipulate Morrigan’s father. In return for her hand in marriage, the doctor would save her life. Clinging to life, Morrigan begins to feel a change. Has the doctor cured her, or did her father make a deal with the Devil?
7. LEERY LANE: Lori R. LOPEZ
Have you ever kept a secret from even yourself? On one rainless electric night, Frieda Noff will learn the truth about her past, her relationship with her sister, and her hometown’s darkest secrets. It is All Hallows again, twenty years after she went down that fateful gauntlet of haunted houses as a Trick-Or-Treater. She’s finally back, perhaps to stay this time.
A young woman is confronted by the ghosts of her demons when she must return to Leery Lane, the dead-end where she lost an important piece in the puzzle of her past. She and her sibling haven’t spoken in two decades, since that terrible Halloween when Frieda borrowed something that belonged to Francine without permission. She feels that she needs to remember what it was and find the object of contention, somewhere in a row of decrepit Victorians, to repair the rift between sisters. But some secrets are better left buried. A witty blend of Gothic Horror, Humor, Supernatural and Mystery, Leery Lane is a ghost story to curl up with and savor. Take a walk you won’t be able to forget on the creepy side of town . . . Look for an Illustrated Print Edition with macabre artwork by the author!
1. BLOODEYE: Craig SAUNDERS
Keane Reid is tired of living. He’s bored life ever since the mysterious death of his wife seven years earlier…but when he’s called to a routine job at a local pub, he discovers the corpse of a young girl crucified and nailed to a wall, her eyes torn out and a third eye carved into her forehead. Keane’s seen this mark before, and soon his life is thrust between the present and past, reality and fantasy, darkness and light. As Keane loses his grip on sanity, a long-forgotten shadow begins whispering to him once again, ushering him toward the void, where the ghosts of his past reside, waiting to show him what truly lies behind the veil.
2. RELATIVE YULETIDE: Martin REAVES
Christmas. The world has been taken over by festive zombies, but even they won’t eat fruitcake…crap, that’s not it either. Oh wait, I remember! Nick Grimmer and Alex Tinkham have been through a lot. They’ve seen humanity at its worst. But nothing prepared them for what they were about to witness this Christmas. Relative Yuletide will shock you, and rock you to your core, making you question everything you thought you ever knew. Nah, it won’t do any of those things. It’s a story about Christmas. Interesting things happen. Look, maybe you should just read it.
3. NIGHT TERRRORS BASED ON TRUE EVENTS: Tim MILLER
Lenny used to sleep like a baby, now he can’t sleep at all. What started out as a slew of nightmares, morphed into a real life horror show. At times, standing over him, or moving just out of the corner of his eye. That thing you didn’t think you saw is real. He is the Shadow Man. He’s always there, always watching. You never know when he will appear to tear apart your reality. There is no escape and no mercy from the blood he will shed.
This story is a collection of police reports, sightings and Lenny’s personal notes and journals as he tries to cope with his Night Terrors.
1. KILLING IT SOFTLY 2
The Best by Women in Horror
The first ‘Killing It Softly’ was just the tip of the iceberg…
Beneath the icy depths of this next installment, you’ll be plunged into a world where 38 female horror writers give you a glimpse of their inner-demons, unleashing the hell-fire they suppress in the ‘real’ world. It will disturb you to discover what really lurks inside their minds, because many of these stories delve into pain that can only be experienced by women — leaving you unhinged as you curl up with them during their darkest hour.
Post-partum depression, hording, anorexia, and mental health will be brought to light when viewed through the shadowy perspective of cognitive deception.
Sci-fi, romance, steam-punk, and fantasy intertwine with horror to deliver unsettling, chilling stories; traditional tales of witches, zombies, werewolves, and vampires will be told in twisted new ways that will shock, unnerve, and even repulse you…and within these pages, sometimes new monsters will arise from the ashes.
You may even discover that women can not only write good horror…but in some cases, can do it better.
Part 1 — Another Space, Another Time The Whims of My Enemy — Amanda J. Spedding A Moveable Feast — Jenny Blackford Softly into the Morning — L. D. Colter Whispers in the Wax — Tonia Brown The Screaming Key — Lillian Csernica Framed — Diana Catt Bloody Rain — Rie Sheridan Rose The Idlewild Letters — H.R. Boldwood Kristall Tag — Holly Newstein The Adventure of My Ignoble Ancestress — Nancy Holder
Part II — Monster Party The Devil’s in the Details — Stacey Longo Octavia — Chantal Boudreau The Skeench — Debra Robinson Sandcastle Sacrifices — Jennifer Brozek Unfilial Child — Laurie Tom Milk and Cookies — M.J. Sydney Figaro, Figueroa — Karen Heuler Scarecrow — Vonnie Winslow Crist A Great and Terrible Hunger — Elaine Cunningham
Part III — Cognitive Deception Belongings — Abra Staffin-Wiebe Evil Little Girl — Barb Goffman Blue — Julie Travis The Devil Inside — Shannon Connor Winward Shining Brook and the Ice Moon Spirit — Jean Graham Damaged Goods — Lindsey Goddard Project Handbasket — Rebecca J. Allred Behind the Eight Ball — Lena Ng A Faithful Companion — Deborah Sheldon Omega — Airika Sneve
Part IV — The Changed and the Undead Little Fingers — Christine Morgan Golden Rule — Donna J. W. Munro Fifth Sense — Tina Rath Cycle — Rebecca Fraser The Hand of God — Gerri Leen Vile Deeds — Suzie Lockhart The Holy Spear — Barbara A. Barnett Skin and Bones — Rebecca Snow Death Warmed Over — Rachel Caine
2. Zippered Flesh 3: Weldon BURGE
What horror anthology on body enhancements wouldn’t include gross-out fiction? This book has it in spades. But, this collection of stories goes far beyond that. Here you will also find science fiction, surreal fiction, fantasy, and even a full serving of dark humor. Disturbing, perverse, often gut-wrenching (pun intended) stories — all between the covers of this anthology! Nineteen chilling tales by some of the best horror and suspense writers today. Definitely not for the squeamish!
“Hardcore horror that ranges from the socially relevant to the scatologically repulsive — the shock here is like ‘The Scream’ made flesh.” — Mort Castle, editor of On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association
“In Zippered Flesh 3, Editor Weldon Burge has done a masterful job of combining work from well-known masters like Jack Ketchum and Graham Masterton with newer writers. But it is the original work by newcomers like L.L. Soares and Meghan Acuri that stands out for me. … Highly recommended.” — Gene O’Neill, author of The Hitchhiking Effect: A Retrospective Collection
“‘Closer by Charles Colyott is a wonderfully poignant and romantic story. … ‘Going Green’ by Christine Morgan is so original, timely, and well-written it deserves special mention. … Kudos to Burge for putting together another fine anthology of cutting-edge fiction.” — Paul Dale Anderson, author of The Instruments of Death series
Billie Sue Mosiman — Horns, Teeth, and Knobs Shaun Meeks — Upgraded Christine Morgan — Going Green Jeff Menapace — Worm Adrian Ludens — Reduced to Tears William F. Nolan — A New Man Jason V. Brock — Transposition Jack Ketchum — The Rose Daniel I. Russell — Consume Jezzy Wolfe — All Will Turn to Gray E.A. Black — Invisible L.L. Soares — And the Sky Was Full of Angels Meghan Arcuri — Shopping Spree Charles Colyott — Closer Graham Masterton — Dog Days Jasper Bark — Switch Martin Zeigler — Hypochondria Sandra R. Campbell — Gehenna Division, Case #609 James Dorr — Golden Age
3. TOYS IN THE ATTIC: CAFFERTY AND QUINN
Imagine… An old house; one that has stood many generations. WAITING… You step inside and begin to explore. Was this a good idea? You begin to doubt, but continue to step deeper within the eerie darkness. Something stirs above. Should you investigate? Wandering, you reach the second floor landing. In the center of the upstairs hall, directly above, you discover a trap door. You know, the one that leads to something so terrible, you dare not think to touch it, much less attempt to open the latch! Nevertheless, you are drawn to inspect further. Something is stirring above… of this, you have no doubt. You stand upon tiptoe, stretching as far as your fingers will allow, until you grasp the cord attached to the door. With a loud creaking, it opens, releasing a set of stairs, descending before you. Gazing up, there is nothing but a black hole. There! Again! That stirring! Against your better judgement, you begin to climb. Sweat forms upon your brow with each step, as your stomach turns sour. Still, you climb. Those few stairs feel an eternity to ascend. There at the top, nothing. Dark and empty… nothing. Your eyes adjust… Wait! Beneath the cobwebs and years of layered dust, stands a long, wooden chest. Is it locked? Hmmm… You step within the musty room. There, propped against the side of the chest, an old metal rod. You pick it up, using it to pry open what should have been left locked away, eternally. Toys! Old toys! Somewhere in the darkness, a melody plays, soft and haunting. A music box? NO! A small carousel is moving beside you, its once colorful horses bobbing in time. You look about. There are toys everywhere! Old, broken, forgotten toys fill this attic room. A doll, cracked skull, hairless, limbs askew, stares from behind one eye, the other an empty, hollow socket. A rocking horse begins to sway in the corner. Toy soldiers, their green metal chipped and rusted. How odd; they appear in battle stance, staring… Suddenly, the trap door closes. Darkness… the stirring… These toys… You know why they have been locked away. You stand among evil incarnate. The melody stops. No one hears your final cries…
TOYS IN THE ATTIC: A COLLECTION OF EVIL PLAYTHINGS is an anthology of horror like no other. Step inside…WELCOME TO THE ATTIC
4. TOY SOLDIERS: Stacey TURNER
In the world of Satan’s Toybox, no toy is ever what it seems, and toy soldiers are no exception. Plastic army men, GI Joe and tin soldiers offer a place to work out your aggressions on an imaginary battlefield. But what if the battlefields are real and the toy soldiers have aggressions of their own? In this volume, the second anthology in the Satan’s Toybox series, there are nineteen horrifying tales of epic battles, gruesome casualties and a heaping dose of revenge. From ancient Egyptian warriors protecting a tomb to Nutcrackers gone wrong, these are not the toys you remember. So, “Aten’hut! Fall in! Forward March!” Follow us into the Toybox and straight to Hell.
1. SWITCH: Jasper BARK
2. ALL WILL TURN TO GREY: Jezzy WOLFE
3. INVISIBLE: EA BLACK
4. UNSEEN: Suzzane MADRON
5. SIRENS: Dallas MULLICAN
6. FOR SALE OR RENT: Suzzane MADRON
7. WORM: Jeff MENAPACE
8. UPGRADED: Shaun MEEKS
9. A NEW MAN: William NOLAN
10. SHOPPING SPREE: Meghan ARCURI
1. THE SCIENCE OF VAMPIRES: Katherine RAMSLAND PHD
Are any vampire myths based on fact?
Bloodsucking villain to guilt-ridden loner — what has inspired the redemption of the vampire in fiction and film?
What is Vampire Personality Disorder? What causes a physical addiction to another person’s blood?
Are there any boundaries in the polysexual world of vampires?
How could a vampire hide in today’s world of advanced forensic science?
What is the psychopathology of the vampire?
What happens in the brain of a vampire’s victim?
2. HORROR GUIDE TO NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND: David and Scott GOUDSWARD
Horror Guide to Northern New England is a map to geographical locations, real and fictional, utilized in horror tales and films set in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. And just for good measure, they’ve included some true stories and events that should be horror stories or at least the inspiration for future ones. Sea serpents, ancient sacrificial tables, Barnabas Collins, Stephen King, Rick Hautala, and Shirley Jackson all call the area home — small wonder that the wird and horrific find sanctuary the shadow-choked forests, decrepit doomed villages, and fog-shrouded mountains of Northern New England. Join the brothers Goudsward as they offer the latest volume of their Horror Guides.
3. THE WISDOM OF PSYCHOPATHS: Kevin DUTTON
Psychopath. The word conjurs up images of serial killers, rapists, suicide bombers, gangsters. But think again: you could probably benefit from being a little more psychopathic yourself.
Psychologist Kevin Dutton has made a speciality of psychopathy, and is on first-name terms with many notorious killers. But unlike those incarcerated psychopaths, and all those depicted in movies and crime fiction, most are not violent, he explains. In fact, says Prof Dutton, they have a lot of good things going for them. Psychopaths are fearless, confident, charismatic and focused — qualities tailor-made for success in today’s society.
The Wisdom of Psychopaths is an intellectual rollercoaster ride that combines lightning-hot science with unprecedented access to secret monasteries, Special Forces training camps, and high-security hospitals. In it, you will meet serial killers, war heroes, financiers, movie stars and attorneys — and discover that beneath the hype and popular characterization, psychopaths have something to teach us.
Like the knobs on a mixing deck, psychopathy is graded. And finding the right combination of psychopathic traits, sampled and mixed at carefully calibrated volumes, can put us ahead of the game.