Interview: T. Thorn Coyle on “By Moon”

A witch who wants to live in the shadows. A dandy who feels he has failed. To protect their friends, Selene must battle a corrupt magician, and survive.

Artist Selene feels overwhelmed by life, and their Goth club friends are dropping like flies. But when the witch realizes the situation involves handsome dandy they’ve been avoiding, they don’t know what to think. As Joshua keeps showing up trying to help, Selene realizes they can’t hide from a trauma hidden in their past…

With the help of their coven, Selene must uncover the root of the tainted magic that has put one friend in a coma and killed another. A magic that threatens Selene. What—or whom—stalks the community? To figure it out, Selene must risk exposing heart and soul to cast the spell that will save their friends, and maybe even themself…

By Moon is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

Limning a bright line along the edge of the deer’s skull, Selene tried to tune in to the painting again. The moon was almost full. Selene could feel it. They had always been attuned to the moon. Their childhood fascination with the glowing orb was what led Selene to witchcraft, and, of course, to their name.

Selene, Goddess of the moon. Daughter of Titans, sister of the sun.

Selene had been raised by ordinary, flawed humans, and was an only child, but they felt as if they could be sibling to the sun. Maybe. Mostly, though, even though the full moon was gorgeous, Selene tucked themself away like the moon did behind the perpetually cloudy Portland skies.

Besides, darkness was good for a lot of the magic it turned out Selene was best at. Bindings. Uncrossings. Banishings. Oh, they could work the mechanics of prosperity or love spells, and of course collaborated with their coven on spells for justice, but…they were just more comfortable with working magic on the dark side of the moon.

Cassiel would give Selene shit if she knew her coven mate wasn’t comfortable doing magic for themself. Not after Selene had given Cassie a hard time for not asking the Gods for help with her own little situation last winter.

They rubbed a long hand across their forehead, careful not to smudge any paint on their skin. Selene spent too much time on their makeup to mar it with the thick paint that slicked the horsehair brush.

Arrow and Crescent coven was a good fit for a witch dedicated to the moon. Coven members all had different deity affiliations, but the coven itself was dedicated to Diana, another Goddess with ties to the moon.

It was funny—gazing at the moon always grounded Selene more firmly on earth. It reminded them that they were on a rock in the middle of space, and that the rock was home. Just like Portland was, and likely always would be, home.

They stepped back from the painting a moment, trying to see the whole. The bright edge of the skull reflected the moon in the water. The blade edge needed drawing out to form a magic triangle created by the lines of light. A triangle of edges.

Just like Selene.

Sometimes it really felt as if they were nothing but edge. No center. No core. No soft, beating heart. No warm lips. No laughter.

It was as if Selene had been built to be a weapon. A sharp sword to be wielded against those who intended harm.

It wasn’t a good feeling. Never had been.

Selene was a sharp sickle, not the lush fullness of the moon that practically set their long, dark hair afloat around their head.

“Fuck. May as well pack it in for the night,” they murmured. Once this mood hit, there was nothing to do but drink or dance, have sex or sleep. No way were they ready for bed, and sex? Yeah, unless it was with Selene’s own hand, that wasn’t happening. It had been too long since they’d found someone interesting enough who was also interested in them.

“Drink and dance it is, then,” Selene said. Setting the brush in the soaking jar, they began to scrape the paint off their palette. “I just hope you know what you’re up to, moon.”

Selene felt the small hairs on their arms stand up, as if something had just walked over their grave. They whipped their head around, looking for danger. Nothing. Selene’s dark eyes rested on the still life. The water in the chalice on the table moved, rippling for a moment, as though a form attempted to take shape.

A trick of the eye? Or a message to pay attention? All Selene knew was, the studio didn’t feel so homey anymore.

—from By Moon by T. Thorn Coyle

The Interview

The Witches of Portland series, which includes By Moon, combines magic, romance, and activism. What inspired you to combine these elements together?

Magic, love, and activism are all important to me. They flow through the communities I’m part of, and more importantly, they underpin the world I want to help create.

Why did you make Selene, one of the main characters in By Moon, a painter?

Making Selene a painter wasn’t a premeditated choice. They just were a painter. Some characters show up how they are, and I uncover more about their lives as the story unfolds. Art is a big part of how Selene interacts with the world, so that influenced the storyline, too. All of this is part of what I like about writing!

A few years ago, you moved from California to the Pacific Northwest. How has this change affected your fiction?

I’m the type of writer that not only builds imaginary worlds, but tries to reflect the world around me through the lens of fiction. So—except for some of my science fiction—my stories are mostly set in California or Oregon. It took me a few years of living in the Pacific Northwest to be able to write from this place. Place is its own character, so I needed to establish a relationship with this biosphere in order to write it properly.

A sign on the wall of your workspace says “Eat Words Drink Stars.” What does this mean to you?

“Eat Words Drink Stars” captures my imagination and reminds me to always reach for wonder. To not get bogged down in worry or fear. This is especially helpful when I’m writing about challenging topics. If my stories are infused with a sense of wonder and hope, I’ve been successful.

The banner also reminds me to take in words—other people’s thoughts and stories—and to glory in the natural world, and reach for the stars.

(The banner is handmade by Brooklyn artist Rayo and Honey, by the way).

Your series The Panther Chronicles is set in 1969, and combines magic and community with the politics of the U.S. in the late 1960s. What did you most enjoy about writing these books?

I loved doing all the research on the times. So much was happening then! I had already studied a lot of it—which inspired the novels—but needed to dig even more deeply to get the right flavor. It was also very satisfying to add magic into the history, and turning J. Edgar Hoover into an evil magician made me cackle. Plus, actual shape shifting members of the Black Panther Party? That was marvelous to write.

Your tagline is “Magic is real. Justice is worth fighting for.” Tell us what this means to you, and how this phrase comes through in your fiction.

I live my life as if those words are true. We can change our consciousness through actions and beliefs, and changing consciousness is one step toward greater justice. I believe in a world filled with wonder—both seen and unseen—a world that embraces paradox and the unexpected. I live with the sense that magic is always just around the corner.

I also believe it is up to us to create a society where justice is better distributed, where kindness and compassion take the place of punishment and oppression. My stories—whether serious or lighthearted—reflect this worldview. My activism is informed by my desire for justice, and my stories are informed by my activism.

Stories matter. Look at how history is taught: Whose lives are important? What stories get told and how? And from whose perspective? We see how policy is made according to what we believe, and what we believe is influenced by the stories we tell, whether we think they are “true” or not.

Stories capture the imagination, and once that happens, anything becomes possible.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on two series right now. One is a post-apocalyptic epic fantasy trilogy called The Steel Clan Saga (that might get a second trilogy added to it someday). It’s got motorcycle riding, sword wielding anarchist knights, dragons, trolls, elves, and magical creatures from many different cultures. I love near-future culture building, and it’s been great fun to get to do that on a grand scale. The Steel Clan Saga has multiple points of view, cool world building, and strong characters going on adventures. I wanted swords and motorcycles in one world and it’s been great to just say, “you can create that.” Book One—We Seek No Kings— is out now. Book Two—We Heed No Laws—is up for preorder, and releases in late July.

The other series is almost the polar opposite, and equally fun. It’s a paranormal cozy mystery series set on the Oregon Coast in a fictional town called Seashell Cove. It’s quite bonkers and I’ve been allowing my imagination to run wild. There are centaurs in the woods? Great! Actual garden gnomes and sprites? Awesome. A witch who owns a bookstore? What could be better? I’m really enjoying letting my mind play in this world. The first book is called “Bookstore Witch” and should be out in late September.

About Thorn

T. Thorn Coyle has worked in several strange and diverse occupations and been arrested at least five times. Buy them a cup of tea or a good whisky and maybe they’ll tell you about it.

Author of The Steel Clan Saga, The Witches of Portland, and The Panther Chronicles, Thorn’s multiple non-fiction books include Sigil Magic for Writers, Artists & Other Creatives, and Evolutionary Witchcraft.

Thorn’s work appears in many anthologies, magazines, and collections. They have taught magical practice in nine countries, on four continents, and in twenty-five states.

An interloper to the Pacific Northwest U.S., Thorn stalks city streets, writes in cafes, loves live music, and talks to crows, squirrels, and trees.

Find Thorn

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub ~ Patreon ~ YouTube

Find the Wild Magic bundle!

The Wild Magic bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

   
 

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Interview: Tao Wong on “A Gamer’s Wish”

Henry Tsien has been living the quiet life of a mundane mortal until he stumbles upon a magical ring which contains an ancient jinn resides. Henry wishes for magic, and stumbles into a world of adventure and a hidden magical world that is more banal and wondrous than he could ever imagine.

A Gamer’s Wish is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

“Are you done yet?” the blond woman, who had formed in my apartment from smoke, asked me. Clad in a pink bra, tiny vest, and billowy sheer pants, she reminded me of an actress from an old, cheesy TV show, almost uncannily so. Seriously, the blond genie that stood in front of me with her sardonic smile would have sent copyright lawyers salivating at the fees they’d earn. If they could have seen her. And if she hadn’t wished them away.

“You… you’re a genie! But that was a ring, not a lamp!” I spluttered, the ring that the smoke had streamed from still clutched in my hand in a death grip.

“Jinn! And yes, I am. What may I do for you, Master?” the genie said. Turning her head, she looked around my bachelor suite with a flicker of distaste. “Maybe a bigger residence?”

“You’re a genie…” I stared at the blonde, my mind caught in a circular trap as it struggled with the insanity in front of it. After all, genies didn’t exist. But there, in front of me, was a genie.

“Oh, hell. I really can’t wait for this entire ‘enlightenment’ period to be over,” the genie said with a roll of her eyes after I just continued to stare at her blankly. She turned away from me and walked around the room before she stopped at my micro-kitchen to open the fridge. Bent over, she fished inside before extracting day-old fried rice and popping a bite into her mouth. A conjured spoon later, she was digging into last night’s dinner and prodding my stove, flat-screen TV, and laptop. “What is this?”

“Fried rice.”

“I know what fried rice is. And this isn’t bad,” she complimented me, ignoring my mumbled thanks while she pointed at the TV screen and then laptop. “This. And this.”

“TV and laptop.”

“Huh.” She returned to the TV before she prodded at it a few more times and inevitably adjusted its angle. “That’s amazing. I guess your science actually does have some use. Well, outside of indoor plumbing. That isn’t as good.”

My brain finally stopped going in circles after I decided to stop trying to actually understand what was going on. If I had a genie in my house, I had a genie. “So, your name isn’t Jeannie, is it?”

“Do I look like a Jeannie to you?”

—from A Gamer’s Wish by Tao Wong

The Interview

A Gamer’s Wish is the first book in Hidden Wishes, a series with shadowy supernatural organizations, a beautiful, game-addicted Jinn, and lots and lots of magic. 🙂 How did you come up with the premise for this world?

I’ve been reading urban fantasy forever, starting with the Anita Blake series and Dresden Files and then just branching out. So when I started writing LitRPG (when the magic mimics a role-playing game) I wanted to put the two together, so I had to figure out why a leveling system—a way to gateway the magic into Henry—would work. Which then came via giving him his magic via a magic wishing ring, and… voila! A Gamer’s Wish.

Why did you decide to include a Jinn in this series?

Well, Lily, the Jinn was necessary to give Henry his magic. I needed something powerful enough and knowledgeable enough to both gateway the magic he received as well as bend reality, and so… jinn! She started out as a typical ‘genie’ at the start, before she morphed in her interactions with Henry to her true nature as she realised he wasn’t really part of the supernatural world.


You live in the Yukon! What do you most like about living there?

Summer! 24 hours of daylight, gorgeous sunny days with nice, warm temperatures and so much beautiful, gorgeous wilderness. There’s so much wildlife, from the eagles that nest on Millennium Trail to the foxes that run around the neighborhood I live in, you’re always able to see something new.

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

For me, I love looking for new creatures that might not be as well known and weaving them into my worlds as well as giving them little twists, sometimes humanising them like with Lily or offering alternative explanations of the stories like in the System Apocalypse. Playing with old ideas and twisting them sometimes also lets me play other fantasy ideas straight and leave my readers guessing.

In your series A Thousand Li, which draws upon traditional xianxia and wuxia fiction, Long Wu Ying grows from a peasant farmer to a cultivator in the search for immortality. What inspired you to write this series?

I’d been reading a lot of the more recent xianxia work coming from China via the translated webnovels, and one thing I noticed was that many of the works were missing certain aspects that drew me into traditional wuxia works. The philosophical struggle between honour and enlightenment, between being the best and, at the same time, the desire to retreat from social constructs like rankings, a lot of that was missing and replaced by this rush for power, the progression of power and basic power fantasy tropes.

On top of that, I’d been reading and studying Daoism myself a little, and I found the idea of enlightenment and gaining immortality via understanding the Dao fascinating. In a way, A Thousand Li lets me play with both exploring Daoism myself via my protagonist and how that interacts with the need to exist in a world that is, in many ways, inimical to Daoist principles. That push and pull creates a lot of the internal conflict in Wu Ying and the world around him.

In the end, A Thousand Li was my way to hopefully introduce some readers to what I thought were the more interesting aspects of xianxia and wuxia works, in a form that is slightly easier to digest than some of the other works out there.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

Dragons! I’ve had them as tertiary characters, but not really had a chance to really make a dragon the star. I’d love to make them integral to the plot as a companion or even protagonist. There’s just something fascinating about dragons—both Western and Eastern ones.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Hah! I have a hummingbird brain. Right now, I’m editing book 11 of my post-apocalyptic LitRPG the System Apocalypse which is super exciting because this is the penultimate work before the series ends in book 12. It’s fun, but hard work, weaving together the end of the plots and things I’ve foreshadowed many books before while also weaving in some other thematic elements for the end.

I’m also working on a few other projects because hummingbird brain. One’s a weird epic fantasy LitRPG mashup with thematic overtones of family and responsibility and fatherhood which probably won’t sell well but is a ton of fun to write. And the other is the final book on my new adult fantasy series which I’ll be rapid releasing at the end of the year / early next year with the other two books I’ve already written for it. That’ll bring the Adventures on Brad series to a proper series end.

About Tao

Tao Wong is a Canadian self-published author based in the Yukon. Yes, that Yukon. As a reader, he’s an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, having cut his teeth decades ago on Dragonlance, Terry Brooks and Asimov before graduating to Jordan, Gaiman, Bujold and more.

When he’s not writing and working, he’s practicing martial arts, reading (even more!) and taking care of his family. Other hobbies include occasional RPGs and board games as well as picking up random skill sets.

Tao became a full-time author in 2019 and is now a member of SF Canada, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and ALLI.

Find Tao

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub ~ Patreon ~ YouTube

Find the Wild Magic bundle!

The Wild Magic bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Magicks & Enchantments


Set your cauldron to bubbling, and read these fifteen tales of magic, sorcery, and enchantment!

What if you could smell magic—or go to a bar and get a shot of magic to go with your cocktail? Will an aging sorcerer’s last pupil ever learn anything? And what could possibly go wrong when a pair of witches enter the local chili cook-off?

Includes stories by DeAnna Knippling, Leah R. Cutter, Robert Jeschonek, Debbie Mumford, Annie Reed, Rei Rosenquist, Alicia Cay, James Pyles, Grayson Towler, Jamie Ferguson, Dayle A. Dermatis, Thea Hutcheson, Leslie Claire Walker, Sharon Kae Reamer, and Steve Vernon.

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Goodreads

The Stories

“The Coffee Shop Ghost” by DeAnna Knippling

Pink-haired goth Tiff Cordero isn’t a witch. She’s a clairaliant, someone who smells spirits. And she’s been hired to sniff out a ghost who has recently started to give migraines to the patrons of a local coffee shop.

Only problem: nobody’s died anywhere near the building recently, no one has cursed the place, and the only odor Tiff can pick up is the smell of burnt plastic.

If she can’t solve the case, all the cool patrons will ditch the coffee shop—and it’s already in a neighborhood getting updated and plasticized out of existence.

“Dreams of Saffron and Lace” by Leah R. Cutter

Regina Victoria Edmondson rules as Queen over the nursery she shares with her twin brother Tobias.

Except when she allows him to direct their play as Raj.

However, on the rambling country estate where they live, neither of them control the gardens, where time moves in an unorderly, disquieting fashion.

Secrets hide there.

Deadly secrets.

“A Spice Most Demanding” by Robert Jeschonek

Most guests at The Unicorn’s Egg in downtown Philadelphia come seeking shots of magic—just one more belt to satisfy their addictions to spells and sorcery. Newcomer Oliver Box breaks the mold, though, coming to the pub to help others—bringing old-timers to warlock bartender Homan Teatree to restore ruined memories in minds burned by dementia. But when those memories connect to each other and an ancient mystery in unlikely ways, Teatree suspects a game’s afoot, and he’s a loser in the making. Layers of lies peel away to reveal secrets undreamt of, as Oliver’s shocking true agenda points to the miraculous restoration of a flavor of the world long thought lost…and a piece of his heart lost and found along with it.

“The Solitary Sorceress” by Debbie Mumford

It’s been ten years since the Firestone turned Kaitlyn into a sorceress to be reckoned with. Since that fateful day, she’s been in seclusion, mastering herself as well as the artifact. But now her mentor and friend, Aelfric, has died and King Lorien has called her to court to take her place as the King’s Magician. Is she ready? Can she maintain control of the Firestone while surrounded by courtiers?

“The Fixer” by Annie Reed

When Amelia botched her first spell as a kid, her parents enrolled her in an after-school program that taught her how to fix her screw-ups. She loved doing this so much that as an adult she opened her own business to help people who couldn’t get their spells to work quite right.

Now the best spell reclamation wizard in the business, she’s never run into a spell she couldn’t fix…until now. And to make matters worse, the spell in question is one of her own, pirated by a shady online wizarding school out to bilk unsuspecting wannabe wizards—and ruin Amelia in the process.

“A Worthwhile Sacrifice” by Rei Rosenquist

Cedar had a simple task: get water from the northern well and bring it back to their town before dark, when all doors are sealed with magical locks to keep everyone safe inside.

Instead of completing the task on time, Cedar got distracted and dawdled.

But the wolves come every night, and tonight is no different.

“Campbell County Cook-Off” by Alicia Cay

The oldest of three elderly witch sisters always wins the County Fair’s chili cook-off…but this year, things are going to be different!

Rebecca and Leah steal their sister’s prize-winning recipe, whip up their own batch of chili, and head off to the competition ready to surprise their sister—and win the contest. But they didn’t follow the recipe correctly…or did they?

“No Place Like Home” by James Pyles

What would have happened if Dorothy hadn’t wanted to leave Oz and return to Kansas? What if the “good witch” Glinda had craved the ruby slippers for her own? What would the transformed Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion really have been like with their new attributes?

You’ll never think of Dorothy and her friends the same way again…

“Terminal Sorcery” by Grayson Towler

Kenryk the Magnificent once cast demon princes back to the darkness, and brought demigods to their knees. Now he’s just an old man trapped in his own tower, shivering under a stack of grey, threadbare blankets, unable to walk more than a few steps on his own without the help of his fool of an apprentice. No matter what Kenryk tries to teach her, the woman just is not good at magic—and she’s going to be his last apprentice. But Kenryk has one final lesson for her…

“Diamond Betty” by Jamie Ferguson

It’s 1883, and the silver boom is well underway in Colorado. Penelope heads to Denver to use her witchcraft to steal a necklace from Diamond Betty, a beautiful woman with a questionable past who recently married a wealthy silver magnate almost twice her age. The diamond pendant contains a demon, and Penelope plans to put the necklace in a place so safe that no one would ever be able to harness the creature’s magical powers. But things don’t always work out as planned, especially when magic—and demons—are involved.

“Telling the Bees” by Dayle A. Dermatis

Some kind of weird Sleeping Beauty curse has hit a Portland, Oregon, suburb—the entire town has fallen asleep. Hedgewitch sisters Holly and Willow, and Holly’s fae familiar, Cam, head out to help. But “weird” doesn’t begin to describe what’s really happening….

“The Final Initiation” by Thea Hutcheson

Sindal returns to the village she left years ago with the goal of completing her final initiation into witchcraft. To do so, she must kill her former husband, who’d beaten and humiliated her after she’d been forced to marry him as a young girl. When she arrives at his hut, she finds he took a second wife to replace her. Sindal needs to complete her task in order to be a full-blooded witch, but her once easy decision is no longer as simple as it had seemed.

“Fight or Flight” by Leslie Claire Walker

Little Charlie Nobody fights to survive on dangerous streets. Each time he hovers between life and death, he not only sees the future, he enters it.

He falls in love with the wonders he sees, the people he meets, and even the trouble he finds. No one captures his heart more than Sunday Sloan, who wields the kind of magic that others would kill to possess.

He wants nothing more than to become part of her world. Will magic allow him to leave his own time and remain in hers?

“Witches of Cologne” by Sharon Kae Reamer

Gwen and her best friend Faigel are imprisoned in medieval Cologne, waiting to be burned for bringing the Great Death down on the city. But they weren’t responsible for the plague—the only thing they did wrong was fall in love with the same man. And it was this love that caused Gwen to make a deal with the Raven Queen…Cathubodua.

“Travis Alamo Boone – Witchhunter” by Steve Vernon

Twelve-year-old Travis Alamo Boone went to the eye doctor to get 20-20 vision; that’s where he saw the one-eyed witch. Travis had something that the witch wanted. And that’s how he started on the road he’s still on today.

Find Magicks & Enchantments

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Hauntings: Fifteen Ghostly Tales

Not all ghosts can be laid to rest…

Whether you’re sitting around a campfire, or staying up late to read—you’ll eventually have to turn off the light, you know—you’ll love these fifteen tales of ghosts, haunted houses, and spooky goings-on!

Imagine waking every day in an old house, unable to leave the grounds because every time you do you get lost in the gray mist. What if the haunted section in the library was actually haunted? Seeing a ghost in a haunted house would be one thing…but what if it followed you home?

Step into the haunted worlds of the fifteen ghostly tales in Hauntings…if you dare!

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Google Play ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Hauntings is the first volume in The Haunted Anthology. Follow the series on Facebook to learn more!

The Stories

A young girl wakes every morning to find a note from her father in Travis Heermann’s “Daubs of Color.” She’s stuck in their old house, all alone, with endless gray sky and mist just beyond the hedgerows. Her only company is the many paintings which always change, as if someone comes during the night to replace them. The eyes of the people in the paintings watch her as she passes by.

The ghost of a 70s British rock god asks Nikki Ashburne, former Hollywood party girl who can now speak to ghosts, for help finding a song he wrote for his favorite groupie in “Communication Breakdown” by Dayle A. Dermatis. The only problem is she needs help from her musician brother, who doesn’t know about Nikki’s spectral ability.

In Jamie Ferguson’s “Haunted,” Jill is walking through an old, abandoned cabin in the mountains when she sees the ghost of a man who murdered his wife in 1893. Three days later he appears in Jill’s house: the ghost followed her home!

It’s the twenty-eighth birthday of the seventh son of a seventh son in Debbie Mumford’s “Seventh.” He is investigating a crime scene, and is startled when the dead woman speaks to him. The ghost helps him identify who killed her, but there’s no evidence…and now the murderer is after his next victim.

The tavern maid Blake dallied with killed herself—and her unborn child, who she claimed was his—in P.D. Cacek’s “The Lingering Scent of Apples.” He goes back to the tavern, which she now supposedly haunts, to make his peace with her family. But not all ghosts can be laid to rest.

Ellen Sugimori is afraid of ghosts, which is making it hard for her to write the ghost story due for her fifth-grade class, in “The Sugimori Sisters and the Haunting in the Library” by Brigid Collins. Her little sister decides to help Ellen by doing a scientific experiment to prove ghosts exist and that people can protect themselves from them. The girls head to the library and sneak into the Haunted section…which is, of course, actually haunted!

In Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Waltzing on a Dancer’s Grave,” Greta and her ballet company arrive at Grayson Place, and prepare for the company’s fiftieth-anniversary gala—but her memories haunt her. Karl Grayson died there twenty years earlier, and his death freed her once. Or did it?

Meredith has set up shop as a private detective in Rebecca M. Senese’s “Hanging On Letting Go,” but she’s not getting any clients until Priscilla, the ghost who only Meredith can see or hear, shows up with a case. Naturally, the client is also a ghost!

The Waverly Inn is one of the oldest hotels in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Steve Vernon’s “Lying in the Gutter, Gazing at the Stars.” The inn’s claim to fame is that Oscar Wilde haunts room 122…which is, of course, the only room available since the local blues festival has filled every other hotel in the area.

An angel made of tarnished concrete sits in the center of the cemetery in Jeff Wood’s “Gray Angel.” Years before, a young, pregnant woman died next to the statue and—according to the ghost stories—sometimes she appears…sad, weeping, and covered in blood. But those are just stories—she’s not real. Or is she?

In DeAnna Knippling’s “Nurse Kimberly Sits Vigil,” Wanda, Kimberly’s mother-in-law, is fading, and the only person she wants to see before she dies is Kimberly. At the urging of her sons—and the ghost of their father, who the kids are convinced still sits in his old chair—Kimberly heads to the nursing home in Atlanta, where she learns why Wanda wanted so badly for her to visit.

A young girl appears at Meredith’s grandfather’s funeral in Elaine Marie Carnegie-Padgett’s “The Haunting of Penelope,” but no one else sees the child. At first Meredith doesn’t know why the girl seems so familiar, then she remembers they played together when Meredith herself was very young, and didn’t realize Penelope was a ghost. Is there something Meredith can do to help the little ghost girl?

The high school Tiana and her friends attend has been transformed into a haunted house for Halloween in “Professor Polter In The Computer Lab With The Banshee,” by Tami Veldura. But it’s not just a haunted house—it’s also an interactive virtual reality game! The friends team up on their adventure, knowing the ghosts aren’t real…but what about the banshee?

In “Hoarding,” by Thea Hutcheson, the previous occupant of Selena’s house might have died, but he hadn’t gone, and he certainly hadn’t changed his ways as her belongings regularly disappeared. Dealing with a klepto ghost was annoying, but at least Selena had escaped her controlling, abusive boyfriend…or had she?

Carol haunts Bobby, her husband and murderer, as well as the new woman he’s seeing in Alicia Cay’s “At the Edge of the Well.” They can’t see, or hear, or touch Carol—she is not that kind of ghost. But in dreams, she can do many things.

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The Wild Hunt: 13 Tales of Magic & Enchantment


Ride through the sky with the Wild Hunt!

A fierce host rides across the winter sky at night
In wild pursuit of whoever crosses their path

Peals of thunder follow the horses as they gallop through the clouds
Fire flashing from their hooves

The baying of the hounds echoes across the sky
Their sharp teeth glinting in the light of the moon

The Huntsman blows his horn, and the Fae ride behind him
Their faces both beautiful and terrible to behold

When the nights are long and the winter winds howl, stay inside
Lest you cross the path of the Hunt…and become their prey

The Wild Hunt contains thirteen stories based on the wide and varied folklore of the Wild Hunt. In some tales, the leader of the hunt is Odin; in others it’s King Arthur, Herodias, or Herne the Hunter. Sometimes the riders are Fae; sometimes they are specters, or skeletons, or strange beasts never before seen by mortal eyes.

But no matter who the hunters are, you definitely don’t want to be the one they’re after…

Let the Wild Hunt begin!

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The Stories

Go on the Wild Hunt from a hound’s perspective in Thea Hutcheson’s “My Last Hunt,” and learn about the Fae—and humanity—from a new perspective.

Anthea Sharp’s “The Faerie Invasion” takes us to a world where the faeries have invaded the mortal realm. Ric and his little sister scrounge for food and hide from creatures they never imagined were real—especially after dark. But no matter how hard they try, they can’t hide from the Wild Hunt…

In Brenda Carre’s “Gigglebark Tea,” Lewis and his annoying neighbor are in the middle of an argument about a strange illness that’s going around, when Herne the Hunter shows up…and he and the hunt are after Lewis. Herne’s afflicted with the mysterious malady, and thinks Lewis is the cause. To buy time, Lewis brings out what’s left of his long-passed wife’s Gigglebark tea, not realizing what he’s going to learn as a result.

Emma is unable to move or speak in the real world, but in the virtual computer game of Feyland, her body is fully functional. Deb Logan’s “Emma: A Feyland Dryad” takes us along with Emma as she learns what it’s like to stand, to run, to dance…and to be chased by the Wild Hunt, which she discovers is as real as the Realm of Faerie, which Feyland is a portal to.

Linda Jordan’s “The Turning” tells the tale of a young woman who stands in between a man and the Wild Hunt, not realizing her stance will lead her to learn things about her past that she never even imagined could be true.

In “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” by Rebecca M. Senese, Detective Maeve Hemlock is looking forward to a well-deserved vacation from her job at the Spells and Misdemeanours Bureau. But the Wild Hunt has arrived, and as a faerie from the North Court, Maeve knows just how dangerous this is for Crossroads City, which lies between the mortal and faerie realms. There goes her vacation…

Mary, a Ute woman, is married one of the Aos Si in Shannon Lawrence’s “Of Earth and Fae.” Conor left his ancestral lands for the Americas, and thought himself safe from those who had persecuted his people for centuries. But as Woden and the Wild Hunt approach, Mary and Conor realize he’s in grave danger after all.

James spends his time being a nobody in DeAnna Knippling’s “The Last Private in the Gray Hoodie and Blue Jeans Brigade.” He found if he practiced hard at being unremarkable and unnoticeable for long enough, the walking trails in his neighborhood got seriously weird, and led to someplace—or some places—completely different from the regular world. It’s kind of cool. An escape. Or is it really that cool after all?

In Lousa Swann’s “Scraggles Goes Hunting,” Scraggles the cat expected his night to be like any other night. He certainly did not expect to find himself the steed of a pixie, compelled to fly through the sky as part of the Wild Hunt. And he definitely did not expect to run into a dragon…

An Unseelie Fey breaks free of her prison and begins her own wild hunt in Kim May’s “Of Blood and Bone, Earth and Air.” Can the genuis loci who cares for the land vanquish his terrible foe before she is beyond his power to contain?

In “Getting Good,” by Brigid Collins, Stelli realizes her friends have been taking the game of Feyland far more seriously, and now they’re cutting her out because she’s not as good as they are. Determined to get better at the game on her own, she begins the quest of the Midnight Huntsman…only to find that Feyland is not just a game after all.

Married to the tetrarch of Galilee in Jamie Ferguson’s “The Call of the Huntress,” Herodias lives a life of luxury, but also a life of misery. She prays to the goddess Diana, but of course Diana isn’t going to respond to the pleas of a mere mortal. When Herodias’ daughter Salome arrives for a visit, she disrupts the fragile balance of Herodias’ life. Herodias calls to Diana, just like she has so many times over the years…but this time, the goddess answers.

Twig hadn’t planned to spend her night running from the Wild Hunt, but that’s exactly what she finds herself doing in Annie Reed’s “Murder’s Revenge.” An elf who spent years undercover in a motorcycle gang so she could find a way to rescue the gentle water spirit they’d enslaved, she’d managed to save the water spirit—but earn the wrath of the gang’s leader, who now rides with the hunt and wants revenge.

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A Procession of Faeries

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Story spotlight: “Something in Common” by Jamie Ferguson

Jamie Ferguson’s “Something in Common” takes place in a small town in western Pennsylvania in 1910, where a young woman discovers she has more in common with a recent immigrant from Austria-Hungary than she’d realized.

~ ~ ~

“Something in Common” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

“How long have you lived here?” Jenny asked Helen.

“In Pennsylwaynya?”

“Yes, in Pennsylvania,” Jenny said, reminding herself that the conversation had been her idea.

“Come in fall,” Helen said. She pressed her lips together. “I take boat from, ehmm…Fiume, go New York. Then train. Then Pennsylwaynya.”

“It’s actually Pennsylvania,” Jenny said. The Hungarian girl’s English was simply abysmal.

“Pennsylwania.”

At least that was an improvement, if a slight one.

“Are you from wherever that place is? Fiume?”

“No, from leetle willage, in you say Hungary.” Helen glanced over at Jenny, then looked back at her stitching. “’Is you from Pennsylwania?”

“Yes,” Jenny said. “My grandparents came here from Ireland about fifty years ago. I was born in Connellsville.”

“Connellswille,” Helen said. Did all Hungarians not understand Vs and Ws, or was it just her? Helen began to say something else, then snapped her mouth closed as the bell on the shop door jingled.

—from “Something in Common” in The Golden Door by Jamie Ferguson

About Jamie

Jamie focuses on getting into the minds and hearts of her characters, whether she’s writing about a saloon girl in the American West, a man who discovers the barista he’s in love with is a naiad, or a ghost who haunts the house she was killed in—even though that house no longer exists. Jamie lives in Colorado, and spends her free time in a futile quest to wear out her two border collies since she hasn’t given in and gotten them their own herd of sheep.

Find Jamie

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Story spotlight: “The Envelope Trick” by Adrianne Aron

In Adrianne Aron’s “The Envelope Trick,” an immigrant learns the very system that’s helping him in his new country is also hurting him.

~ ~ ~

“The Envelope Trick” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

“What have you got to complain about, compañero?” I ask my reflection, as I brush my teeth and feel my tongue rolling over the bottom row. Pedro’s tongue they cut out, because he spoke up for what he believed. My eyebrows match—both black, over brown eyes with lashes so long my mother used to say I should have been born a girl. Over there, they say things like that.

Yeah, my eyebrows match, but Rafa’s don’t. One of his, the left one I think, turned white, at the spot where the soldiers attached the electrodes. There’s guys at Guantánamo right now gone white all over. You’ve got to remember how everything’s relative, Sarita tells me.

—from “The Envelope Trick” in The Golden Door by Adrianne Aron

About Adrianne

Adrianne Aron writes both fiction and non-fiction, with social justice as a persistent theme. Her writings have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and have been awarded prizes by Able MuseNew Millennium WritingsWomen on Writing, the Jack London and San Francisco Writers’ Conferences, and the California Writers Association. Human Rights and Wrongs: Reluctant Heroes Fight Tyranny, her essay collection about refugee asylum seekers, won the Sunshot Nonfiction Award and was published by Sunshot in 2018. She is the translator, from the Spanish, of essays by Ignacio Martín-Baró (Writings for a Liberation Psychology, Harvard University Press) and of Mario Benedetti’s play, titled in English Pedro and the Captain (Cadmus Editions). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is at work on a novel, but continues to spend a little time with her “day job” as a liberation psychologist. She possesses a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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Story spotlight: “Friends” by Rei Rosenquist

Below the pristine mountains of Portugal’s countryside, a war rages on in Rei Rosenquist’s “Friends.” Thrown together in a dismal war camp, imported refugees share nothing but their suffering. No common culture. No common tongue. But friendship can spring up even in the toughest of times.

~ ~ ~

“Friends” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

The air was a confused hum. Everyone who spoke Português was from a different place in the country: different dialect, accent, vernacular. I saw nobody from home. Everyone, a frightened stranger. At least half the people spoke a tongue that confused my ears entirely.

“Nihongo,” someone with a Português accent whispered.

I got the gist. Refugees who’d been shipped in.

More strangers, harder to get.

We were being forced apart, separated at the very seams.

I rebelled at the idea. If nothing else, we were humans and that would be enough.

I looked at the nearest fellow inmate and forced myself to look for—not the differences: hair color, eye shape, skin color—but the similarities. The sameness. Something to give me grounding. What I found were identical expressions. The same tight broken frown, brow knitted up, eyes narrow and without trust.

Our humanity, reduced to isolation and fear.

—from “Friends” in The Golden Door by Rei Rosenquist

About Rei

Rei Rosenquist is a queer agender (they/them) speculative fiction and romance writer who depicts a wide variety of identities struggling to find a place in a wide variety of worlds. They are also a barista, baker, musician, and lifelong semi-nomad.

Rei first remembers life as seen out the high window of a hotel balcony. Down below is a courtyard, swarms of brightly dressed tourists, and the beach. The memory is nothing but a blue-green washed image. Warmth and sunlight. Here, they are three years old, and this is the beginning of a storyteller’s life. Over the years, Rei has  traveled to many countries, engaged many peoples, picked up new habits, and learned new languages. Across lands, they find constant inspiration in the stories we tell each other, the food we share with one another, the music we make together, and the world we can build when we allow ourselves to dream.

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Story spotlight: “Spy in the Sky” by Tonya D. Price

A young boy who dreams of emigrating to the U.S. to study at MIT comes across a pair of Soviet officers during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and learns there’s far more at stake than he’d ever dreamed in Tonya D. Price’s “Spy in the Sky.”

~ ~ ~

“Spy in the Sky” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

Father Pedro rolled the dial with two fingers. Then he reached back in his robe again. This time he pulled out a small box no more than an inch by two inches. He looked around.

Roberto followed Father Pedro’s lead. There was no one in sight.
“Hold out your hand by your side. Palm up.”

Roberto obeyed and Father Pedro, holding his hand upside down, dropped the small carton in Roberto’s palm. “Film. Five rolls. Do not let anyone know where you got this. Lives are at stake, Roberto. Do you understand?”

“I do.”

“If you are caught, you will be charged as a spy. They will torture you to find out who you were working with.”

“I’m a boy. I went out of curiosity.”

“I don’t think so.”

Roberto thought for a moment. “I work for the Americans as did my father.”

Father Pedro hung his head down as if in prayer. “They will believe you. And they will kill you for it.”

“Then,” Roberto tried to look brave as he imagined his father had been. “I will not get caught.”

—from “Spy in the Sky” in The Golden Door by Tonya D. Price

About Tonya

Tonya is a fiction and non-fiction writer who has published short stories across a variety of genres. She  has an MBA from Cornell University and draws on her extensive high tech executive positions in writing her Business Books For Writers series. Her Fiction River story, “Payback” was included in The Best American Mystery Stories of 2019. She is currently finishing her fifth non-fiction book Managing the Writer’s Money to be released in the spring of 2020.

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Story spotlight: “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” by DeAnna Knippling

A wealthy actress in Hollywood in the 1920s takes on a pair of immigrant faeries as indentured servants in DeAnna Knippling’s “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch,” but she didn’t realize just how high the cost would be to keep them safe.

~ ~ ~

“Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

My husband and I were always just on the edge of setting the house-fae free. But there was always something, you know? It was after the Great War, when so many of the fae came over the ocean. Immigrants, only not human ones. Mythological immigrants.

Our house-fae, Ala and Elias, weren’t the pretty ones that you see in woodcuts in fairy-tale books, tall and elegant with long, wispy hair. I don’t know if those kind actually exist. I never seen any, anyhow. The house-fae we had were small, and gray, and wrinkled, and kinda ugly. But cute. I hadta stop myself from pinching their cheeks, when they first arrived. It woulda been rude.

I got them for a literal song, a sweet lullaby that I used to sing to our son, before he was killed in a car accident with Timothy’s parents. I don’t remember the song anymore. It was just the most ridiculous song, I remember that. Did you know you can buy house-fae for a song? But that if you do, you lose the song forever? Two house-fae, one song, and now I can’t remember the song. It’s just gone. I was joking around at the time. Timothy and I were slumming in Little Tokyo, going to clubs, when we stumbled across the two of them begging for work. They looked so sad and lonely that I just started singing to them. It was an impulse. I hadn’t exactly meant to pick up a pair of house-fae, and Timothy and I had words over the incident. But they moved in, and here we are.

— from “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” in The Golden Door by DeAnna Knippling

About DeAnna

DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.

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