Friday, October 17, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Did a Black Cat Cross Your Path Today?







I own a black cat. Love her.  I can’t ever see her as devilish or evil. And yet, black cats are in the United States considered bad luck if one crosses your path. Plus they are associated with witches around Halloween. What started this for our furry black felines?




These obsidian felines were not always feared or a part of superstitious lore. Dating back as far as 3000 BC in Egypt, cats of all colors, including black ones, were held in high esteem. To kill one was considered a capital crime.

The Nordic goddess, Freya was also a fierce warrior as shared with us by Ethan S. One of the many names by which she was known was the Mistress of the Cats, and it was said that the chariot in which she sat was drawn by a pairs of great cats with fur blacker than the midnight sky.



Then around medieval times, cats taken care of by old women who practiced healing and lived alone were considered familiars if the old woman (and sometimes man) were accused of witchcraft and convicted, burned at the stake. As for why particularly black cats, it seem to superstitious people, once the cat went out into the dark of night they appeared to disappear, except for their yellow or green eyes. The same would go for black dogs too. Of course, we know that the animal having black fur and the night being pitch black, well, yeah, they seemed to vanish.  Plus black cats born in May seemed to be strongly associated with witchcraft and were often drowned. It is bad luck to discuss family matters when a black cat is present, lest it be a witch in disguise.

Evil omens and harboring the ability to change into human shape to act as a spy or messenger for witches or demons are some of the mostly widely known legends of black cats (in the US). When settlers arrived in the Americas, they already had a deepening suspicion of anything associated with the devil. Due to the sisterhood of witch and black cat, anyone caught with a black cat was severely punished or even killed. Similar superstitions led people to kill black cats during the Middle Ages, increasing the rat population and the spread of the bubonic plague.



A legend in Wales tells about one black cat. When people arrived in this town that had been ravaged by the Black Plague, the only living creature they found was a single black cat. The black cat is now the traditional mascot of Kidwelly!
In Great Britain and in Ireland, black cats are considered good luck. One way this might be so, English monarch Charles I held a belief that when his treasured black cat passed, he claimed that his luck was gone and he was arrested the very next day and charged with high treason.  Also, in the UK, a black cat crossing your patch is a sign of good luck.

Some bad luck a black cat might deliver:

If you are driving and a black cat crosses in front of you, you should turn your car around or receive bad luck.

The gambling world holds the belief that as you are driving to a casino, if a black cat runs across your road or path, you should not go to the casino. Most players believe that black cats bring bad luck.

Crossing paths of a person is considered an omen of misfortune and death—kind of like the banshee’s scream heralds death for the person who hears it. Things are a bit more complicated in Germany. In Germany though, if a black cat crosses a person’s path from right to left, that is a bad omen, and yet, if done from left to right,  the cat is granting favorable times.

Pirates in the 19th Century believed that if a black cat walks towards someone, that person will have bad luck. But if it walks away from someone, that will bring good luck to that person. If a black cat walks onto a ship and then walks off it, the ship is doomed to sink on its next trip.

Sailors often sought out a black cat to become a ship’s cat, as it brought good luck. Fishermen’s wives kept black cats at home in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands while at sea.

In Japan, black manekineko (beckoning cats) are a wish for good health.

Dreaming of a black cat us considered lucky for the dreamer.

Black cats protect their human’s house from evil spirits, and it is said, take away the bad energy in the house.

From Scottish lore, a strange black cat on a porch brings prosperity to the owner.

It is believed that a lady who owns a black cat will have many suitors. So, for those looking for a boyfriend, get a black cat!



Not just black cats, but all:

Cats should never be bought with money. Doing so means they will be bad mousers. (Shelters looking to get their cats adopted, this might be a good ploy to use.)

And last, but not least, a story about a black cat by Edgar Allan Poe.   Black Cat


 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Eleven Spooky Supernatural Reads for October





For this Supernatural Friday, I decided to do eleven spooky reads perfect for October and Halloween. Not to say, they aren't wonderful, to read any other time. There are more creepy novels and short stories I can tell you about, but then that might go into the hundreds. Instead, I feel these eleven will be a great start for you. Plus at the end, there is a link for my own scary ghost story that made the top seven stories for Small Press Award 2013.  Now get reading!

1.     The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (It’s not Halloween without a great, scary ghost story. This is the only novel to scare me during the daytime, in a room full of middle school student. My parents landlady had given this book and Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (another good read), so after getting my work in class done early the teacher said I could read my book, so I did. The scene I read freaked me out.)

 Front Cover

2.     The Wolfen by Whitley Strieber (A werewolf horror novel, but where the werewolves are shifters, but a race living alongside humans since prehistoric times.  Though no longer in print (you can find it used—I did—it is available of Kindle and Nook.
 Book blurb: In the dark, they are watching...
They are waiting for you. No one has ever lived to tell the horrifying truth about them. Yet even now the Wolfen are gathered in the night-dark alleys ... unseen, poised ... ready to destroy their helpless human prey. Only one man and one woman, trained cops, willing to risk their lives, stand in the way.)

3. Bad Wolf by Tim McGregor (I got this free on Kindle—which I see it is again—and though self-published, it was good. Enough for me to buy the second two in the Bad Wolf Chronicles trilogy.

 Book blurb: Detective Lara Mendes’s hard work finally pays off   when she gets the chance to join the homicide detail. There’s only one catch; she has to partner up with a cop no one wants to work with.

John Gallagher is a veteran homicide detective who loves stomping bad guys and hates partners. When the Lieutenant saddles him with this green kid named Mendes, his first reaction is to ditch her but a call comes in about a body on the river bank and the rotation says they’re up.

What they find are human remains, mutilated and partially devoured. Their investigation reveals a killer stalking the city with a pack of vicious, feral dogs.
And the suspect believes he is a werewolf.

But this is Portland, where crazy bastards outnumber normal ones ten to one. Except there’s another catch. The crazy werewolf guy? He isn’t crazy...
 


4.     Dracula by Bram Stoker( Forgot that Twilight junk and read the vampire that start it all (even though there was a vamp novel before him). With ‘Dracula Untold’ coming to movie theaters, showing how he became the monstrous Count, I would suggest start reading the book. And no, he may walk in the daytime, but he does not sparkle! If cannot afford the book or eBook, or it’s out at your library, you can read it free here: http://www.literature.org/authors/stoker-bram/dracula/  or get it at Gutenberg as download for free: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/345 Read the short story, “Dracula’s Guest” for free at http://www.literature.org/authors/stoker-bram/draculas-guest/ or get it at Gutenberg too, as free download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10150

 

5.     Hell House by Richard Matheson (You think it was Hill House again, but it is not. What really haunts Hell House?

Front Cover

6.     “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs (Not a novel, but a very, scary ghost story. Remember that motto, “Be careful what you wish for?” as this story fits it so well. Sometimes the dead should remain dead.) The Monkey’s Paw,” one of the most bone-chilling and frequently anthologized stories of all time. Readers will find it difficult to believe that W(illiam) W(ymark) Jacobs (1863-1943) gained his fame as a writer of humorous tales, as there is no hilarity to be found here. It has been adapted relentlessly: for radio, as a 1907 play, motion pictures (several silent films as well as a 1933 talkie and a 1948 remake), for television as episodes of Suspense, Great Ghost Tales, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and Great Mysteries, and for three operas. “The Monkey’s Paw” was first published in the September 1902 issue of Harper’s Monthly; it was collected in The Lady of the Barge (London, Harper, 1902). You can read it here for free.


7.     All of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories and novels (Something about the Old Ones that can creep to a person, don’t you agree?)

 

8.     Salem’s Lot and It by Stephen King (I compiled these two together, as both scared me when I read both books alone in my bedroom, just before bedtime. )

      Front Cover

9.    Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (I love all of Ray Bradbury's works, but this one is a great favorite of mine.

Few American novels written this century have endured in th heart and mind as has this one-Ray Bradbury's incomparable masterwork of the dark fantastic. A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister. 


 Front Cover

10.     Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (Got to have one demon or Devil story with witches to read for Halloween. Forget The Exorcist—that bored me—but this one stuck in my mind for years.

 

11.  Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (You thought I would forget him? Heck, no! He’s is perfect for this time of the year.)

 


Now read my fictional ghost story, Bottled Spirits at BuzzyMag.com for free. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Interviewing Author Susan Schwartz


 



















Today, I interviewed author Susan Schwartz , who has a short story included in a horror anthology Nightmares & Echos: The 2014 GWS Press Charity Anthology that was just released in both Kindle and print. Enjoy the interview and do check out the anthology.




1.     Tell us about this anthology your story is in.


The title is “The Sparkling Floor.”


This horror anthology is filled with grisly and gory tales just in time for Halloween. The anthology contains nine chilling stories that may have you keeping the lights on at night. It is also a charity anthology where all the proceeds go to St. Jude Children's Hospital.



   2, Tell us I one sentence or two about your short story in the anthology. Give the title too.

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]        3.  Tell us in one sentence or two about your short story in the anthology. Give the title too.


The blurb I used for the story was “You thought you were going in for a simple procedure, but She had other plans.”

   4.  Can you tell the readers of my blog the motivation behind writing your story?
                    
 Being an OR Nurse, I started wondering one day what would happen if a surgeon or other team member drove the nurse in the room absolutely bonkers. The process of writing this story was very cathartic for me as writers do tend to kill off people that they dislike. It helped me get past some feelings I was having and move on.

     5. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
  

I started out writing fanfiction for TV shows and getting that posted on different boards back in the 90’s. I started writing seriously in 2004 where I began with freelance articles and a couple of short stories.

I joined the Virginia Writers Club in 2004, and I feel like everything took off from there. It was so gratifying to work with such helpful writers who taught me more than I will ever remember.

I remember in 2008 that you challenged me to NANOWRIMO. I was racking my brain trying to come up with a good story, and I passed by an old graveyard on the way home. As a result, my first paranormal novel was born. I am currently trying to finish it as I also have a medical thriller in the works. I also am trying to publish a Nursing Manual for beginning nurses. This stemmed from my Masters project in school, and I would like to make it something that will help future generations of nurses.
                  
    
     6.   Tell us about your writing schedule.

Being an OR Nurse, I started wondering one day what would happen if a surgeon or other team member drove the nurse in the room absolutely bonkers. The process of writing this story was very cathartic for me as writers do tend to kill off people that they dislike. It helped me get past some feelings I was having and move on.
 
As far as my writing schedule, I grab time when I have it. I did this when I was taking classes as well. If I had an appointment, I would take my books with me and use the wait time to study. I do the same with my writing. I take it with me everywhere I go. At home, I try to spend one to two hours a day working on my Nursing Manual at present. I am currently looking at publishers and sending in book proposals. After I finish that, I will get back to my paranormal romance.

                      7.   Since you write too, how would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

The genre I like best is horror with a twist. I want to lead you down the hallway and then turn and leave you standing there wondering what happened.

Since I am an OR Nurse who loves to play in blood and guts, I also tend to add a medical part to most of my stories.

So put the two together, and you get Medical Horror. Doesn’t that sound kind of creepy? It is interesting though, because I think hospital and other medical facilities have an unknown factor. What is really behind those doors and those masks? Think about it next time you are in the hospital.

                          8.  What other genre would you like to write in?

I would love to be able to write are comedy, plays, and inspirational type stories.


                        9. Where do your ideas come from?

I remember one time I asked you that very same question when I had just started the Writer’s Club. I think your answer was “From my head.”

I look around me and see what I can take out of focus to make a good story and then at the end, refocus it again in a different way. I have several other short stories I have written that do this. One was set in an antique store, another concerned an old quilt.

                       10.   What was the first scary story or novel or legend that frightened you?

I think my first horror story was Carrie by Stephen King. I went on to Pet Sematary and Needful Things, two of my favorites by him, not to mention Night Shift and Everything’s Eventual.

Another of my favorite writers is Bentley Little. He is just an awesome horror writer. My favorites of his are The Policy, The Mailman, The Collection, and The Store. Like Stephen King, he is simply a genius.

                             11. Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading? Name three good books for people to reads this month (since Halloween is coming).

I love to read, and I have pretty eclectic tastes. My wonderful hubby gave me a Kindle, so I get to carry all my books around with me at once. I tend to read four at one time, so this makes the weight a lot less.

1. I am currently reading The Man Who Became Frankenstein’s Monster by Robert Daicy. It is about a man who has everything, then loses it.

2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Harkness mixes historical and present day happenings to tell a story about a new witch coming into her own.

3. David Baldacci’s King & Maxwell series is simply awesome. It was also a TV series for one season. I sure wish they would bring it back. (Having met the fellow, he is another one of my favorite authors.)

4. Medical stories: Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels, Miracles & Mayhem in the ER by Brent Russell, and the Angels of Mercy Medical series by CJ Lyon. (I have also met CJ Lyons, and she has a knack for bringing you right into her story.)

5. I also just finished a couple of series from Rose Pressey. These were the Charmed series and the Hotel in Honeysuckle series. She is a very creative writer that really keeps you guessing until the end.


                        12. Name four authors you admire and hope to be like.

The two mentioned above for horror, Stephen King and Bentley Little. On the medical side, I would love to aspire to the heights of Michael Palmer and Robin Cook. Another author, female this time, is Kathy Reichs who writes the Bones series. (I met her in Charlottesville at a book festival, and she was very helpful with some of my questions about writing.)

            13. Plotter or pantser?

I am probably a little of both. I like to sit back and think of new ways to entertain, but I also like to give the characters free rein. I just like to start writing and see where the characters take me, sometimes they really do take on a life of their own. They never cease to amaze me sometimes. Sometimes I have to write my ideas down quickly because they are in the back of my mind prodding me with a new idea.

1      14.    Now for fun: 
          
        1. Vanilla or chocolate?

Chocolate most definitely, especially the Dark Chocolate.

1      2. What do you like the most about Halloween?

Halloween is one of the best holidays for kids I think. They get to go around and get free candy. What could be better? As I got older, I loved to hand it out just to see their faces. In addition, I think the costumes are getting more and more creative each year as well. My favorite Halloween candy is the Mellowcreme Pumpkins. I get a bag every year.

1      3.  If there was any other job you like to do besides writing, what would it be?

Well, I am a nurse because I love helping others and being in the health care setting. If I had to choose another job, I would probably follow in my son’s footsteps and be an actor. I loved doing plays and shows in school.

         4. Favorite television show?

I have to say anything my son, Timothy, has been in so far. Haha, I am biased, I know. He has been in episodes of A Haunting, Ice Cold Killers, and Nightmare Next Door as well as a 30 second commercial and a music video.

As far as myself, right now my TIVO is recording Castle, Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, Forever, Scorpion, and Bones. I am also recording past episodes of Leverage as I am a big fan of Christian Kane.
  
     5.  Favorite movie?

I have a couple: Always, A Perfect World, The Da Vinci Code, and any Star Trek movie.

   6. If could go anywhere in the world or universe, where would that be?

If I could go anywhere, I would just like to travel to many different places. My hubby and I have started trying to take one trip a year so far. We have been to Spain, Italy, and Korea. In November, we are headed to Australia. It is fascinating to immerse yourself in different cultures and sample their wonderful food. So far, Madrid, Spain has been my favorite place for eating. The jamon and manchego are simply heavenly.

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            7. If you were stuck for a month in a haunted house alone, what four things would you want and need with you.

1. My TIVO so I don’t miss any of my shows.

2. Camera for taking pictures of any strange happenings.

3. Some great reading material to pass the time, preferably from my favorite authors. In addition, I would take my computer and spend some time on my own stories. I am sure a haunted house would give me many creative ideas.

4. A flashlight with plenty of batteries and a fully charged cell phone.


2014 GWS Press Charity Anthology Book Blurb:

The 2014 GWS Press Charity Anthology contains nine stories of horror ranging from the gory to the unsettling. The collection spans the gamut of terror contributed from a variety of Indie Writers for the sole purpose of giving something back. All proceeds from this collection will be donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Not only will you be sampling some awesome horror, but you'll be helping out a good cause.
 

Susan Schwartz’s Bio:
Susan Schwartz RN, MSN, MSHA has been an avid writer for around 10 years doing everything from writing freelance articles to editing manuscripts for other authors. She is extremely excited to be included in this anthology as she loves to write horror stories that have a twist at the end. Her alter ego is an Operating Room Nurse who loves playing in blood and guts and creating tales from the interesting and weird things she has seen. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and has served as President of the Richmond Chapter in the past. She also has two novels in the works, a paranormal romance and a medical thriller. In her spare time, she loves to read, crochet, and travel to such places as Italy, Spain, and Korea. Feedback can be sent to Ncc17lu@aol.com.


Find Susan’s Amazon Page at

Also find her on Facebook at



The anthology can be gotten on KINDLE

Find the book in PRINT