No Sweetie. Vampires Aren’t Sparkly

5 Reasons Why Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the Best Version of Himself

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Sparkly, but sullen teenage vampire hunks. Cutesy fanged monster toddlers. Friendly blood suckers who own hotels and throw parties. The entertainment industry has taken a classic horror icon and defanged him.

I’m a Dracula purist. Nothing evoked more fear in my childhood than the mere mention of the legendary vampire. Bram Stoker’s book haunted my imagination and inspired me to write tales of dark fantasy and horror.

Here are 5 reasons why Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the best version of himself:

 

  1. He is “The Count.” While Polidori penned “The Vampyre” decades before, Bram Stoker made Dracula an unforgettable classic character.
  2. His story is weaved with mysteries that keep the reader enthralled.
  3. Stoker’s book contains the common elements of Horror with a terrifying villain, elicits feelings of fear and dread, immerses the readers in a macabre world.
  4. His intelligence and power over his victims add a psychological terror element many of the other horror classics lack.
  5. Dracula is iconic. Put on a cape and fangs for Halloween. Everybody will immediately recognize your costume.

Dracula is my favorite monster of all time. If you’re looking for a horror classic to read during the Spooky Season, give it a try.

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.Be Spooky. Be Gruesome. Be Goofy.

 

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Are You Ready for The Zombie Apocalypse?

They’re coming, and they want your brains!

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Be warned, Dear Reader. A pestilence is chewing its way toward your home town. The chilly fingers of October herald their coming. Summer gardens wither under their rotting feet. Look for them in the darkened skies of All Hallows’ Eve.

You can’t run. Their lumbering bodies will infest the streets, making it impossible to navigate toward the safety of open country. You’ve been warned. Be prepared to ward these Zombies off with brightly illuminated Jack O’ Lanterns and the “Good” chocolate.

What to do if you’re away from your fortress and surrounded? Prepare in advance. Learn from Master Zombie Hunters. Here is a list of essential Zombie Fighting Guides:

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.Be Spooky. Be Gruesome. Be Goofy.

What Tales of Terror Are on Your Book Shelf?

The Spooky Season is upon us! It’s time for warm cider, pumpkin cookies and scary stories. Whether you indulge your ravenous appetite for ghosts and ghouls on the screen or in hard copy print, nothing is better than being captured in the pages of a book.

Looking for some “scare the pants right off you” ideas? Here are a few great places to check for suggested reading:

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Goodreads Lists– Here you can find a list of reader favorites for every genre. Try Horror and Paranormal in October for perfect Spooky Season suggestions.

Horror Writers Association– Why not look to the experts at Horror.org? As a member of HWA, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of these gifted authors. You may recognize some of the Bram Stoker Award Winners on their website.

Grab a book or better yet, let a book grab you!

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

Dark Fantasy: The Best Parts of Two Great Genres

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Dark Fantasy is my creative playground. I love reading it almost as much as I love writing it. This special genre takes the magic of Fantasy and mixes it with the terrifying themes of Horror. Still not clear on the difference between the three? Here is my oversimplified cheat list:

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Fantasy – Epic adventure involving magic and some sort of quest

Horror – Story themes designed to tap into your darkest fears and scare the hell out of you

Dark Fantasy – An Epic adventure with magic and a quest that unearths your darkest fears

Urban Fantasy – An adventure involving magic and some sort of quest, but takes place on the mean streets of a modern-day city

Curious about Dark Fantasy? Goodreads.com offers a list of awesome books in the genre. Perfect for the season!

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Why Horror Is a Necessary Part of Our Literary Culture

Halloween is the time of year most folks want to be scared. We flock to haunted houses. Dress up in scary costumes or slightly less impressive facsimiles of super heroes. Some adults choose to put on their fuzzy nonthreatening stuffed animal heads. No judgement. You be you.

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No matter which costume you go with, we all seek out the scary on Halloween. Why?  I have a theory:

Fear shakes us out of the mundane antiseptic world. October lets us step away from our boring 9 to 5 jobs. We aren’t stuck in our career roles. We aren’t just “Mom” or “Dad.” During Halloween, we can be anything. The scarier the better.

Experiencing this shake up just once a year isn’t enough. Ghost stories and other scary tales offer us an individual experience where the only limit is our imagination. Horror forces us to recognize our fears and hopefully it encourages us to face them.

Boo Alert – Don’t Forget to enter my Spooky Season Sweepstakes! Enter by Midnight, October 27th for a chance to win 1 or 3 EBook copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One: Heart of The Warrior).

 

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A Halloween Story – The Dirt Room

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Folks have asked me where my inspiration for fantasy comes from and I tell them about my grandma. Visiting her house was like visiting the gates of Otherworld. She’d tell us stories about the gnomes and other magical creatures. Often we’d wake up in the morning to find candy in our shoes. Grandma would assure us the pixies had filled them with sweet treats during the night.

The next question I’m usually asked?

You seem like such a nice lady. Where did the horror stuff come from?

I usually shrug and tell them how I’ve always loved ghost stories. Writing dark fantasy is a great way for me to share wonderful spine tingling tales. It also allows me to explore the darker side of human nature. Then I started gathering ideas for this blog post and a repressed memory bubbled to the surface.

My grandmother’s house (built in the late 1920’s and made out of copper) rests at the mouth of Bingham Canyon in the little town of Copperton, UT. Once consisting of several little mining towns – including Galena Gulch and Highland Boy Mines – Bingham Canyon was eventually gobbled up by the Kennecott Copper Mine. The land was once home to several miners. If you ask me, they never left.

I still remember the narrow stairs descending from her kitchen to the backyard. Go left instead of right and you’d find yourself headed down into every kid’s nightmare. Some of you may be old enough to remember your own grandmother’s house. Do you recall the grumbling roar of those furnaces or the hiss of steam heat coming from the radiator pipes in each room?

Her basement was best avoided, but sometimes we’d have no choice. Grandma would send us down to her wash room for one errand or another. Braving the hollow sounds of my shoes striking the stairs, I’d descend toward the roar of the furnace. I remember the washroom and my uncle’s empty bedroom were painted a sickly mint green. Following the high gloss (and I’m sure lead-based) paint around the wash room, I’d head to my grandpa’s work bench.

Standing between me and my objective was a 3’ x 3’ door suspended in the very center of the wall. Reaching it required a ladder. Open the door and an unsettling darkness greeted you. Grandma called it the ‘dirt room’. I thought of it as the gates of hell. Every lost soul who’d ever passed through the mouth of the canyon could have stepped upon the dark earth in that room. I could feel them every time I went near that door.

Grandma passed away several years ago. Her children and grandchildren had the sad job of gathering her things. Somehow I got stuck with the basement and its Dirt Room. My flash light was a comfort as I climbed inside. The confident belief in “childhood fantasies have gone now that I’m grown up” vanished as soon as my feet hit the dirt. Utter darkness surrounded me, suffocating my courage. I clung to the only source of hope – the flash light.

Running the beam along the floor, I found old metal toys from the 40s and glass bottles from gawd only knows. Gathering as many as I could, I continued the search. Then my light hit them. Discarded doll heads. Not just any doll heads, but porcelain ones with the open and close eyes. You know. The ones that are usually possessed by a malevolent spirit.

Then the furnace roared. Something moved in the faint fringe of the flash light. I don’t know what it was. I don’t care what it was. Backing toward the door, I kept the beam in a protective circle about my legs. I crawled back out and shut the door. The house has new owners now. If they had any sense, they’d sheet rock over that door and forget it’s there.

Meanwhile upstairs in the light, the rest of the clan had been busy. Imagine my giddy excitement when my mother showed us the two intact porcelain dolls she’d found in the hidey hole above my grandma’s closet! A Shirley Temple doll and a Roxie doll (named for my grandma’s other daughter who’d passed away as a child). Both of them had those blinky demon possessed eyes. Shiver. My mother had them refurbished and still displays them by her bedside. I believe her plan is to leave them to one of her granddaughters. Maybe they can terrify a new generation?

So what childhood terror do you still carry around? Besides clowns I mean. Everybody hates clowns. Snakes maybe? Bugs? A deceased relative’s painted face in a casket? Leave your answer in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Halloween!

Guest Post: Author Liv Hadden

I’m a really happy person, which doesn’t mean much unless you’ve read my novel, In the Mind of Revenge. You can tell from the title it’s not a tale of unicorns, rainbows, and happy-endings. It is dark, twisted, sad, murderous, and most certainly violent. So, I often get asked where I got the idea for this book, especially since it seems so opposite of me and my life experience.

Well, besides my love of all things Halloween (Creepy? Scary? Paranormal? Yes, please!), the inspiration for this particular story started as all my ideas do—with an unexpected visit from the main character. Shame came to me in a dream during a time of depression, which I am sure is why I latched on. In honor of Halloween and the release of the audiobook version of In the Mind of Revenge on October 31, I thought I would share the haunting that started it all—my eerie dream of shame.

***

The silence is heavy and jarring in a way no amount of noise could ever be. It commands stillness, taunting me to dare cross it. My lungs burn as they expand as far as they possibly can. I do not exhale despite my chest’s urging. Every inch of me is working hard to suppress the panic bubbling in my gut. The vast emptiness around me does nothing to aid my cause. Hot breath sends an icy chill across my neck and shoulders. I stiffen, hoping it is possible to be more still, more silent than I already am. I am becoming part of the emptiness, releasing into it everything I am made of. I know I will die in this place, slowly consumed by the darkness of silence.

It is then a whisper tickles my neck, curling its way around, tightening its grip. It crushes my throat, denying me any option for one last breath. I do my best not to look, not to hear. Just let me go, I shout inside the prison of my mind. But, it is stronger than me and its message rings through the air, cutting through the stark silence.

“I see you.”

Everything in me wants to recoil, but it won’t let me. The pressure in my chest and stomach are unbearable. I open my mouth, relenting to the burning in my lungs, but no air enters them. It’s strangling me, this invisible demon. I can feel it bucking and bursting in its relentless pursuit to break free of my body. Despite the blackness of my surroundings, I can see the demon oozing from my abdomen, one tendril at a time. It is blacker than the darkest night, more sinister than its most evil villain.

The contents of my bowels spill onto the ground with the amorphous form of the demon that was once living inside me. The smell is wretched, like nothing my senses have ever encountered before. I can see the stink of rot floating around the demon as it begins to grow larger. Fear grips me, urging me to run, but I cannot move my feet. I must watch in horror as the monster that has been suffocating me for years begins to take form. Black demonic fingers extend and retract from arms that are defining themselves quicker than I’d like.

I am scared to look, to face my demon. I close my eyes as hard as I can, my attention immediately drawn to my exposed insides. The hole my monster crawled from is still there, a wound I know will never heal. Blood is steadily dripping from the tear, which I now fear is feeding the demon. Suddenly, it is near me, its lips grazing my ear lobe. We are both still, waiting for the other to make a move. I wonder if it knows I am paralyzed. Is this part of its game? I can think of nothing crueler than continuing to plague me with the ultimate villain in dark silence like this—time.

Hands shoot up to my face. Fingers pry open my eyes, forcing me to see what I have been dreading. “I see you,” it hisses, licking my left cheek as if taste testing its last meal. My eyes lock with its, stopping my heart with the realization of its true nature. Staring back into my eyes is me—a shadow Peter Pan would surely be glad to lose. Though, I know it is more than just a shadow. It is the embodiment of everything I have ever hated about myself. Every piece of me I have ever abhorred, detested, looked down upon. I am right—my demon is drinking of my blood…of my shame.

My shame begins to laugh hysterically, its low booming voice somehow sounding of many. It wields its right hand to deliver my final death blow, plunging its fist into my chest. I can feel razor sharp claws penetrating my heart, slowly sealing my fate. It whispers in my ear again, one more time before it releases me into the nothingness for good.

“You fool.”

I begin to fall. The descent lasts so long I am certain there is no end. To my surprise, my shame is falling with me, now fused to my heart. It is a part of me now in a way I cannot escape. I knew I would die in this this place.

In the space where acceptance meets desperation, I feel a tugging that wrenches my head backward, threatening to remove it from my neck. My shame cries out in agony, and I realize the tugging is not hurting me. In fact, it is refreshing, like melting ice against too hot skin. No, the tugging is not breaking me—it is interrupting the black shadow’s snack of my feeble heart and soured soul. My demon’s ghoulish screams are music to my ears. I wonder what has come to fight it and hope it will win. The heat of it I now recognize as an old friend I was certain had abandoned me long ago. Love bends around me, cradling me in its arms, its whispers sweet and tender.

“I see you.”

I am at a crossroads called choice, and I must make a decision. It seems simple to my heart, who is suffocating under the weight of shame. Yet, my mind is ill-content to let it rest as such—these things are not so clear. This demon is mine—this demon I have earned. It came from me. It is of me. I must carry its weight. My shame knows I do not deserve love. The warmth rescinds as quickly as it came, leaving one last message before it departs.

“You fool.”

The blackness consumes me, and I disappear into my demon’s rotten form. We are one now, indistinguishable from one another. Where I start, my demon begins. I am my shame. My shame is me. We are the Shamed.

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About The Author

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Debut novelist Liv Hadden has been writing ever since she was a little girl. But, it wasn’t until 5th grade when her teacher said she’d one day write a book that she started taking it seriously.

Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. After a brief, yet impactful first night of writing, she dreamt of a shadowy figure, tormented and demonized by their own mind and realized this was the shadow of pain that hurting people everywhere felt.

She woke from her dream feeling more energized that she had in months, picked up her computer and began to write. “I felt if ever there was a story inside me and a character worth taking the leap, it was Shame and this story,” says Hadden. “This one in particular is personal in nature, and perhaps the very reason it’s so close to my heart.”

Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma,, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management.  She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas.

Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions, like music, body art, dance and photography. “I get chills when I have the great privilege of seeing someone express their authentic selves,” says Hadden. “I believe it gives us a true glimpse into the souls of others.

Author Website: LivHadden.com