The Dark Carnival Cover is Here!

Most of you know that I’ve been working super hard on editing my upcoming anthology called The Dark Carnival coming out from Pen & Muse Press.

It’s an anthology of horror shorts that all take place at a Dark Carnival. Myself, Kristen, and Jessi have put in a lot of time, sweat and tears into editing this. Our authors have worked SO hard. Our illustrators are incredible!

I’ve been waiting eagerly to be able to show you the cover. Graphic designer C. Elizabeth Vescio designed the whole thing and I’m totally pumped to share it with you. Authors, if you’re looking for someone to help design your next cover, look no further than Cara!

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see a project that I’ve loved with all of my heart, finally start to come to life.


I’m so flipping happy I could just shout it from mountaintops. Instead, I shall celebrate with Supernatural GIFs. Because really, there is no better way to celebrate than with Sam and Dean. Well, maybe add some pie to that mix and we’ll call it a day.

Okay, one last one…

Now here’s the cover…

Dark-Carnival-PM-Horror-AnthologyAbout the Dark Carnival Anthology

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It’s The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise that anyone can leave…alive.


Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian


Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley.
*Final lineup subject to change

Leave a comment below! I can’t wait to hear what you think!


Happy Book Birthday Julie Hutchings!

One of my favorite authors has a very special book birthday today! Who, you ask? Well, it’s the ever lovely Julie Hutchings! Her sequel RUNNING AWAY is out today.


 Running Away Final Cover


Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.
Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.



About the Author Julie Hutchings


Julie Hutchings

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, giving you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts. And pizza. And Rob Zombie. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.

Julie on Twitter

Julie’s Blog


Julie on Goodreads

flagbannerseparator_zpsa7e40df5Congratulations Julie! I am so pumped for you! It’s time for a little celebration!

Congrats lovely!


Cover reveal: SILENT NIGHT by Kristen Strassel

It’s party time! Not only am I super pumped for Kristen Strassel for another exceptional title, I’m so happy to help share the sexy cover of her new book SILENT NIGHT. Seriously, isn’t this gorgeous?!

Looks like Wednesdays aren’t just for pink anymore!

About Silent Night

Silent Night

This Christmas isn’t about celebration for eighteen-year-old Kyndra, it’s about survival. Grieving the loss of her grandmother and struggling with the indifference of her family, Kyndra now splits her time between her dead-end mall job, her junkie ex-boyfriend’s bed, and the streets. Longing to be close to her grandmother one more time, she wanders into Christmas Eve mass and prays she’ll find the place she belongs. Home.

Aidan isn’t ready to let go of the past either, even though he’s had nearly three hundred years to do it. He chronicles the search for the reincarnation of his beloved wife as the vampire romance author Allison Duprois. Aidan knows the wife he mourns is out there, but fears writing their story is as close as he will get to her.

At Christmas Eve mass, he finally finds her. Alone, with no place to go.

Aidan brings Kyndra into his home, and gives her the safety, comfort and love she longs for. Though he gives her second chances she never thought she’d have, Kyndra still can’t get over Aidan’s mysterious past. Not to mention that he claims that he’s a vampire. Life alone on the streets is dangerous enough without handing her trust and love to the wrong person. Can Aidan break through the walls around Kyndra’s hardened heart to convince her that she belongs with him, forever?

Add to your Goodreads!



About the Author Kristen Strassel


Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross.  She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are.  She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and aspiring author.  She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.  Kristen is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

Kristen on Goodreads:

Kristen on Twitter:

Kristen’s Blog:


Congratulations Kristen on the cover reveal!


Deep In The Meadows by Lisa Cronkhite Blog Tour + Giveaway

I’m a huge fan of Leap Books so I often find myself perusing their website for new things to read. Then, I came across Deep in the Meadows.

The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the title. Deep in the Meadows. I was intrigued. What’s this book about?

Then I saw the cover and the taglines and I thought Oh my god I need to read this. Then I read its official blurb.

Deep in the Meadows Cover

Deep in the Meadows Blurb

Bianca “Bee” Thompson’s brother, Jimmy has been dead for ten months, yet she still feels his presence lingering. And one question haunts her: Was Jimmy’s death an accident?

Probing into the events on the night of Jimmy’s death, Bee hears strange voices. The voices lead her to a blood-splattered room, a terrifying threat, and a deadly trap. Is Bee on the trail of her brother’s murderer, or is she entangled in a totally different and much more diabolical plot?


After reading that I was practically running to my Amazon account to be able to purchase this. It sounded amazing. It looked amazing. I needed to read it to live. So I did. And I wasn’t disappointed.




I’m going to start off with a tangent.

Can I just say how excited I was to open the first page of the book and see a reference to hockey? I am a huge hockey fan. Huge. And it seems like hockey doesn’t exist in the YA world. And then I opened this book and read the first page. The main character’s brother sets his hockey gear down and steps over his bag and I was like YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I know it’s weird and I’m probably the only person in the world who cares, but I was pumped to see this. It was refreshing. *End weird hockey tangent*

Pacing – I was very pleased at how this book’s pacing went. I didn’t have to wait 40 pages for the action. All in the first chapter we have suspense, nerves, mystery, and a death! Yes, all in the opening  chapter. I really liked that Lisa didn’t make us wait for the action. She brought it to us full force.

POV – I used to hate first person point of view. But after reading several books with it like Divergent, etc., I’ve actually started to really love it. I thought this book was done well in first person and I’m not sure it would have had the same effect told otherwise.

Dialogue – I found the dialogue to be very playful and fun to read, when it came to exchanges between Bianca and Ryan. It added a fun dimension to the novel.

All in all, I thought this was a fun read. I’d recommend it to lovers of suspense, dark literature, and playful banter.




Leap Books

About the Author


Midwest Author Lisa M. Cronkhite’s love for writing started when she was a teen, journaling of her torrid romance with her first boyfriend then and now husband of over two decades. She picked up writing again after her first bipolar episode and psychotic break when her doctor recommended it as a coping skill. Once again, with pencil in hand, Lisa dove herself into crafting poetry. Through the years, Lisa has published her poems in print and online magazines such as Poetry Repairs, Grey Sparrow Press, Sacramento Poetry Center, Poetry Salzburg Review and many more. Lisa also has short stories in magazines like Suspense Magazine and YA Fiction magazine Suddenly Lost in Words.

Her novels include Dreaming a Reality, Demon Girl and Deep in the Meadows. Disconnected is her fourth novel. Lisa is currently working on her next novel, Purple Haze.





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Wyrd Calling the Heart and Soul by Shen Hart

Jolene has been very kind in letting me have a spot on her blog, and I’m taking this opportunity to talk about the core ideas in my upcoming urban fantasy novel Wyrd Calling.

Wyrd Calling follows a shifter by the name of Thalia, and it’s written from the first person point of view, which really allows me and the readers get into her head. She’s what’s termed Wyrd Bound, which means that she belongs to the Wyrd Sisters and must perform their ‘tasks’. When that first started, all those lives and centuries ago, Thalia was incredibly happy and proud to be doing those things. She was helping keep existence in balance; her work, her tasks, had meaning. Over the years, she began to feel as though they were more of a cage that was closing in around her.

Unfortunately, things started to fall apart, stuff happened (no spoilers here!), which meant that Thalia began to really wonder who and what she was. Her drive, her absolute goal, is freedom. That presents an interesting dichotomy within both the story and people’s view on the world – what is most important to you, complete freedom? Or the security of knowing where you stand in the world?

There is absolutely no denying that Thalia is ‘broken’. That, however, brings up an interesting look at society’s views of what is deemed to be broken, and our constant struggle to figure out who we are and where we belong in the world. Thalia’s story isn’t something that you could read in a newspaper; unfortunately, there aren’t really fae, hellhounds, and shifters lurking in the shadows of Prague. That being said, it’s close enough to home that I hope people will be able to relate to her very real struggle.

Who among us hasn’t made a foolish decision that we later regretted, all because we wanted to fit into the right box? Who didn’t do something stupid once because they wanted a certain social circle to view them the right way? She is fighting to understand her place in the world, to understand who and what she is. The vast majority of her life has been devoted to doing the Wyrd Sisters’ tasks, and even during the brief periods where she was free from them she wasn’t truly free. She had to hide who and what she was, she had to run from the Sisters. She has never found out who she is outside of her role.

I have to ask, how many people can say that they feel the same way? We find ourselves constantly pushed into various boxes, we’re acting in certain ways, saying certain things, all so that we can fall into the right place in the world. How many people feel lost and alone because they’re not quite sure who and what they are outside of those boxes?

When people are asked who they are, they will tell you a name, a job, a role, maybe a hobby. When you push them harder, how many people can genuinely answer without falling back on those things?

Thalia is driven to ask, is there more to us that merely a collection of boxes and labels? Can we be truly happy when given absolute freedom to be ourselves? Is there even such a thing as our real selves?

She makes stupid decisions, she gets herself into a lot of trouble, and there are a lot of times when I want to throttle her. She does however remain true to her cause, she’s determined, loyal, and devoted to the idea of being free. She does whatever it takes to do what she needs to do, to be who she needs to be. How many of us can say we do the same thing?

Thalia Gplus Head

Wyrd Calling

No one escapes the Wyrd Sisters.
No one escapes the Wyrd Sisters. Thalia gave it her best shot. She ran away and devoted her life to tricking black market traders out of their money. She could only run for so long. They always catch up with you, one way or another.

Read an excerpt for free here!

Signup for the Wyrd Calling newsletter!


About the Author Shen Hart

Shen Profile

I’m a passionate writer who happens to be lucky enough to call the beautiful city of Prague home. I enjoy nothing more than cavorting with my muse and exploring this amazing city. My writing is my addiction, collecting words and carefully caressing them until they form captivating stories is my drive. I have a particular fascination with the darker strains of fiction, the shadows whisper seductively in my ear and sociopathic protagonists whisper sweet nothings. Who am I to ignore such delightful, exquisite callings? 


Down the Rabbit Hole with Leap Books

It took me around an hour to even be able to write this blog post. I kept sporadically breaking out in dance and song. Yep, you could say that I’m excited. I swear, I couldn’t even control my limbs. And now, I can barely contain my fingertips to write this post.

I’m a HUGE Alice in Wonderland fan. I love the imagination, the story, and the fact that a book published in 1865 is still loved, cherished, and relevant today.

Imagine my excitement when I got a message from Leap Books. In 2015, they’re celebrating its 150th anniversary in a BIG WAY. Leap Books is putting out an Alice In Wonderland inspired anthology called BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT and YOU are invited to contribute.


Leap Books - Alice in Wonderland anthology



Join a roster of well-loved authors writing new YA stories inspired by a classic tale. Submissions should be between 4,000-6,000 words in length, include a protagonist named Alice and a stuffed white rabbit whose appearance signals the start of adventure. All YA genres are eligible.

Title, premise/elevator pitch, and your complete submission are due to by midnight EST November 15. Authors should include ALICE in their email’s heading.

The final lineup for the anthology will be announced December 15.

Authors whose stories are selected for inclusion in the BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT anthology and who meet revision requirements and associated deadlines will be paid a one-time fee of $50 USD.


Sounds amazing, right? Get on it people! Have fun, write on, and I’ll see you down the rabbit hole.


Heather Marie Blog Tour Playlist – The Gateway Through Which They Came

Tour Banner

Let me just say that there are few authors as fantastic as Heather Marie. What I love about her is her love of dark things and her individuality. Which of course, is why I flipped out when I heard about THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME. Have you heard of this book? No? Well, let me introduce you.



To seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control.

With the threat of the Dark Priest’s resurrection, and his plan to summon his demon brothers from hell, Aiden is left to discover his identity before the Dark Priest’s curse infecting his blood consumes him, and before the world as he knows it succumbs to the darkness of hell on earth.


If that doesn’t sound awesome enough, the author Heather collaborated to make a sweet looking trailer for her book. Check it out here!

The Gateway Through Which They Came Trailer

Oh my freakin’ goodness! Doesn’t this look amazing?! Seriously. I can barely contain myself. The coolest part about this is that Heather has graciously put the first chapter on her site for us readers to check out. Read the first chapter here!

To help celebrate the release, I made a playlist for The Gateway Through Which They Came, for your listening pleasure. Check it out on Spotify and listen to it as you read. I’m curious to hear what you guys think about it. Do you like it? Do you have a favorite song on the list? Let me know in the comments below!

The Gateway Through Which They Came Playlist

Don’t forget to check out The Gateway Through Which They Came. You can pick it up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more!



About Heather Marie


Heather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband, and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another, and never looked back.

Night Dares – A Blovel

Recently, for Pen & Muse’s Summer School, I wrote a piece for the Alternative Types of Writing segment called “What the Hell is a Blovel + Freebie Alert.” Essentially, a blovel is a novel you write on your blog. I included a ton of tidbits in that post and a freebie to help plan your blovel. So if you’re interested in starting your own, I highly recommend checking it out.

Anywho, I was so excited about the post, I decided that I was going to write my own blovel.

So here it folks. My blovel, NIGHT DARES. If you prefer reading on Wattpad or Penned, you can follow along there.


Title: Night Dares

Genre: YA horror

Summary: Six teens sneak out at night to play Night Dares – where they challenge each other to do dangerous and reckless things. When Kallie dares Jamie to go to the top floor of an abandoned Victorian house alone, Jamie is nervous. When she steps inside, she is not prepared for what she finds. Someone has been watching Jamie. Someone has been waiting.

A Note: Whether you love it or hate it, I’d love for you to comment and let me know. Encouragement and/or feedback is welcome! I’m just here to have fun with it!


Chapter One



“Go ahead, Jamie,” Kallie said with a sneer. She tucked a strand of long blond hair behind her ear. “You’re not scared are you?”

I rolled my eyes, like I wasn’t. But I was. Of course I was scared. Who wouldn’t be? We were on the outskirts of town, standing outside of an abandoned house at midnight.

We called them Night Dares. We met up a few nights a week, daring each other to do stupid things during the midnight hours.

Unsurpringly, Kallie chose me as the recipient of her dare tonight. My task was to venture to the attic of this dilapidated Victorian house and turn on my flashlight to signal that I made it

The truth was that I didn’t want to. I was scared. But Andy was here and his light brown eyes smiled at me, sparkling in the night. It was almost enough to make me feel like I wasn’t afraid. It was almost enough to make me believe I was fearless. But I wasn’t fearless. I’d always been afraid.

“You got this,” Andy assured me with a nod. He ran a hand through his messy brown hair before giving me a wink. “You’ve done worse.”

True. I had. There was that one time on the train tracks. Or that time on the bridge. I didn’t like to think about those nights. I mean, I was proud that I did those things. But it didn’t change the goose bumps that crawled up my flesh when I thought about it.

Too bad I couldn’t bring Andy with me inside the house. For protection, of course. Okay, and maybe so I could grab his hand when I got scared.  If everyone knew what a chicken I was, I was pretty sure that I’d never be asked back for another round of Night Dares again.

Kallie, Andy, Wednesday, Peter, and Ryder stared at me from the sidewalk.

“Right,” I said, motioning behind me at the house I really didn’t want to step foot in. “Okay, I’m just… gonna go then.”

Andy gave me a confident thumbs up. Wednesday looked bored. Ryder drew a line across his throat with his hand, implying that I wouldn’t make it out or I’d choke or something.

I turned, took a deep breath, and looked up. This decaying giant of a house had at least three stories. The paint was peeling and most of the windows were broken. I tilted my head all the way back to find the top room I’d need to make it to.

Wait. What was that? I could have sworn I saw something move in the window. It was there for only a moment. Now all that was left were sheer white curtains moving gently.

I turned back to the group. “Did you guys see that?”

“See what?” Peter asked, pulling his black beanie down over his curly red mop of hair.

“In the window,” I said pointing to the top floor.

Kallie crossed her arms and wore a sour expression on her face. “If you’re too scared, just say it.”

I shook my head. I couldn’t let her win.

Kallie and I had been good friends, but over the last six months I’d somehow turned into her favorite frenemy. I had a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with Andy. In fact, she’d broken up with Andy for our high school’s star quarterback months ago. But when he dumped her a few weeks later, she came crawling back to Andy. But to my surprise, he didn’t take her back.

Kallie insisted that something must have been going on between the two of us to make him say no. The truth was, I’d been there for Andy as a friend. We’d talked a few times about how upset he was, but that was it. There was nothing going on between us. At least not yet.

“Come on Jamie,” Ryder snapped. “Hurry up, will you? I’ve got a good one planned for Kallie.”

Kallie’s face went white, as she glanced at Ryder with an expression that was begging for mercy.

We could usually fit three Night Dares into our midnight fun.  Ryder was right. I needed to suck it up and just do it. It’s not like it was my first dare. We’d been doing this for years. I just needed to do what I always did. Get in. Get out.

I inched forward, feeling my heart speed up with every porch step I climbed. The light from my flashlight wasn’t much help. The night was pitch black. There was no moon.

I should have stayed home.

I let out a shaky breath and placed my hand on the cool metal of the doorknob.

Here goes nothing.


Come back later this week for chapter two!

Thank you so much for reading!


I Love Julie Hutchings, Author Extraordinare

Do you know Julie Hutchings?

You know, this babe?

Julie Hutchings

Julie wears many hats. And not because she’s a shifty criminal with multiple identities trying to evade authorities (but she could be because she is that interesting.) Julie is a mom, author, blogger, writer, reader, encourager of people, pep-talker, advice giver, inappropriate joke-teller, and recipient of awkward text messages of my face.

17977192Her first novel RUNNING HOME  is phenomenal. She’s also participating in an anthology that I am editing and releasing this fall called The Dark Carnival. And what I’m most excited about, she’s currently writing a story about witches and it sounds like THE BEST NOVEL IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE AND I CAN’T WAIT TIL IT’S DONE.

Ahem. Anywho, what I’ve noticed is how amazing Julie is. She’s entirely honest and true. She’s encouraging when I need it. And damn, this chica is talented. So I asked myself, how can I show her how AMAZING she is?

And I realized, what could be better than a Friday celebration in Julie’s honor?

pizzaSo, take a slice of digital pizza, a glass of champagne (because pizza and champagne obviously go together), and let’s cheers to how amazing and incredible Julie is.

I’ll toast first.

And then to follow, when I told other people in secret that I was doing a Julie-is-awesome-post, they were just dying to give a toast to Julie too!

So raise your glass and follow along! Get ready to read what people had to say when I asked them the following question:

What do you love about Julie?


Julie Quote 1

Julie Quote 2

Julie quote 3


Julie Quote  5

Julie QUOTE 6



Julie Hutchings post



What do YOU love about Julie Hutchings? Why does she rock? Feel free to tweet her or leave your answer in the comments below!


With love and Julie tickles,



#ALAAC14 – Vegas ALA Conference

On Friday I took off of work, rented a car, and drove 8 hours to Las Vegas, NV to attend the annual ALA conference. ALA is the American Library Association’s annual conference and let me tell you, it’s one of the things I look most forward to every year!

This year, I drove up and stayed with my buddy (and awesome author Cara Elizabeth). Shout out to her for not only letting me stay over and cuddle her dogs, but for taking me to the best places to eat AND having shampoo that makes your hair super soft. Thumbs up. The Cara Elizabeth hotel is highly recommended.

At ALA, I’m a huge fan of the exhibit hall. In it you can find a ton of your favorite authors and snatch up some amazing upcoming books to read and review.

I took a lot of pictures, met a lot of my favorite authors, and got a ton of amazing new books that I can’t wait to share with you. So look out for a post on that soon!

Cara is so on top of things, she not only wrote a post about it, she’s going to be giving away a ton of the ARCs she left with. And I’m talking about the really popular ones! So keep an eye on her for sweet giveaways if you’re looking for some new reads or you’re part of #ALAleftbehind.

Oh, after the exhibit hall closed on Saturday, I drove the 30 minutes down to Barnes and Noble in Las Vegas and saw the awesome Fierce Reads panel, consisting of Jessica Brody, Caragh M. O’Brien, Josie Angelini, and Mary Pearson. They had some great things to say about books, writing, and wonderful writing advice like “Crap makes great fertilizer!” But more on that later too!

I just figured I’d update everyone in case you were ready to send out a search party. If I do go missing, going forward you are likely to find me buried in my ALA arc pile. Have no fear! I’ll be sharing some too!

Keep calm and read on!