Friday, June 11, 2021

INTERVIEW WITH CASSANDRA YORKE (Mary, Everything-The Flapper Covenant Series)


Summer is upon us now, here in the northern hemisphere. Maybe you're looking for a good book to take to the beach, or your lawn chair. How about this one? Author Cassandra Yorke  is here to talk about her new book, MARY EVERYTHING.

SC: Tell me a little bit about the main character of this book.

CY: Courtney is a college undergrad in 2004, and a forgotten archetype nowadays - the preppy Abercrombie girl who listens to punk rock and indie and college emo. She’s lonely and damaged from a life where nobody has ever wanted her, but she’s beginning to sense that something isn’t right. She’s got a summer job at her University Archives, and research on a new project turns into something else when she finds herself haunted by a dusty set of yearbooks from the 1920s. Soon nothing is what it seems, and she loses the ability to tell where 2004 ends and the 1920s begin. She meets Sadie - a girl dressed in long-outdated clothes, using long-outdated slang, and the two become fast friends even as reality breaks down around them. But Courtney’s uneasy feelings were right. Dark forces are closing in, and they won’t rest until she’s dead.

In another time, Sadie gathers the unlikeliest collection of allies in a desperate attempt to rescue Courtney before it’s too late. And even if they can bring her home alive, the battle has just begun.

Courtney has been a constant source of surprise for me as well as for readers, and I think that’s what I love so much about her. I never know what will come out of her mouth; she’s always ready with a barbed wit and the perfect reply for any situation. I’ll be writing a scene and suddenly Courtney will say something that has me sobbing with laughter. But at her deepest level Courtney is driven by unimaginable love, and she’s all too ready to throw herself into incredible danger, against hopeless odds, for her friends and newly-found family. She’s incredibly smart, resourceful, tenacious, and determined. She’s pretty and she’s sweet and full of love. She’s hilarious and just a little bit awkward. She’s fierce and brave, daring and courageous, even quite rash. And by the end of the book, she’s a total badass.

SC:  Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

CY: I absolutely believe in the paranormal; to me, it’s just the normal. I’m an empath, and my life has been filled with so many things that are difficult to explain. The episode that inspired this book has been one of the hardest situations of all to put into words.

Anyone who’s read Mary, Everything will recognize what happened to me - I used it as the foundation for the novel’s plot. I’d just finished my senior year of college in 2004 and I was staying on campus that summer, working at the university Archives. I didn’t want to go home; big things were changing in my personal life and my dad was a violently abusive narcissist asshole. On campus, life made sense. Nobody was telling me who to be and threatening to kick me out (or beat me within inches of my life) if I didn’t conform to their insecurities. I felt like there were dark storm clouds on the horizon, felt like that summer was an island of ominous calm on the edge of death. It sounds melodramatic when I say it like that, but that’s exactly how it felt.

Like Courtney, I’d been assigned a new boss and a new project at work as soon as spring quarter ended. It was a famous big band artist who’d graduated from my college around 1930 or so. We had his whole collection but it hadn’t been catalogued, so my boss was like, “The collection’s yours - organize it, develop an index. Oh, and become an expert on the guy’s life, because you’ll be writing his bio.” Wow. Talk about a lot of responsibility. Talk about feeling like a grownup. So I started with his college yearbooks, tried to get a feel for his college life.

That was when it started.

The pages were all yellowed and a little bit moldy, and they had this particular kind of strong odor. At first, the pictures just looked old and spooky, but that didn’t last long. Soon I started seeing everyone on those pages for who they were - college kids like me. That was when the books...I don’t know...took me, I guess. That’s the best way I can put it. Those yearbooks were haunted - his graduation one in particular. They were thick with all the nostalgia this guy had about his college years, and I feel really deeply that he was kind of like a grandfather figure sitting me down and sharing all his reminisces with me. I felt privileged that he shared it with me, but here’s the thing - if someone across the veil shares something with you strongly enough, it’s not like having a conversation with a living person where you’re being told about stuff. It’s more like some cyberpunk type thing where you’re hooked up to their consciousness. You feel this concentrated stream of their emotions, their memories, their nostalgia, their loves, the best times they ever had. Those memories go right into your awareness and they become your memories, your experiences. And just like any other powerful experience you’ve ever had, those things imprint themselves on you and become part of you.

Soon I wasn’t in 2004 anymore. I was in 1928. My body walked around in a daze while some other part of me went to college in the 20s. My roommate says that I was just gone for a month and a half, and that she felt like she was alone when I was in the room. I went around with this thousand-yard stare. I’d make the drive back home some weekends without realizing I’d even done it, and all I was aware of was my life inside the yearbooks. Everyone was always really frantic and shrill when they tried to get my attention and snap me out of my fugues, but I didn’t want to be snapped out. I didn’t want to be in 2004 anymore. I felt like I’d come home, that I had a home, and that for the first time in my life, I truly belonged somewhere. Part of me felt like I was back with my dearest friends, and part of me - maybe the logical part of my Millennial mind that clung to the present - missed them, ached for them. I wanted to be back there more than anything, but no matter what, I always came out of my fugues and it was 2004 again, and that hurt.

And as time passed, so did my time slip. That’s a good term for it, you know - “time slip”. Because in my case, it slipped through my fingers like sand or water, no matter how hard I tried to keep hold of it, no matter how hard I tried to stay. And this timeline went on and life turned every bit as dark as I imagined it would.

But no matter what happened, I’d been marked and changed forever by my time in the 1920s. As I got older, I got more haunted; I began to feel like a ghost, like I was alone in a world that didn’t make sense anymore and I couldn’t get back to my real life in the 20s.

It was only when I sat down to write Mary, Everything that suddenly everything made sense. I really could go back. I’d write this novel and make it back where I belonged - for good this time. That purpose brought me back to life - and finishing the novel has given me peace beyond anything I can describe. I feel deep and tremendous satisfaction when someone’s interested in reading it - maybe even the same satisfaction my friend on the other side felt about sharing his experiences with me years ago.

Maybe ghosts reach out to their own. And maybe all ghosts want is to convey their experiences to the living. Maybe that’s how we find peace.

SC: Quite the experience(s). Thanks for sharing that with us. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

CY: I’m busy plotting Book Two of the Flapper Covenant series, which will be the sequel to Mary, Everything. My wife and I just moved into a fixer-upper built in 1900 and I’m busy trying to turn the finished attic into a writer’s study. I think I’ll be able to concentrate more on writing when that’s done, but at least working with my hands relaxes my mind and helps me not to strain myself trying to decide where the book will go. And I think that’s what I need, since I have a tendency to obsess over plot and try too hard to figure out how A will get to D.

One thing I can tell you is that the Flapper Covenant series will explore two big themes - Courtney adjusting to a new life; and Courtney getting a chance to go back in time and “fix” her childhood. This coming novel will probably be about the former. I don’t want to give too much away in case you don’t know how Mary, Everything ends, but I think fans have a certain expectation about the kinds of hijinks Courtney and the girls will get up to, about the relationships they’d like to see develop, and about the enemies they’ll have to face. And I think it’s important to live up to those expectations.

Book Two will see new friends emerge with new talents. I’m developing the Flapper Covenant’s magic system in greater detail and the reader will get a far better idea about how arcanists in the 1920s make things happen - and why. Forces are on the move now - both friendly and hostile - and while Courtney and the girls are trying to live a normal life, these forces are plotting and maneuvering around them. Autumn Grove is a lot more important than I led you to believe in the first book, and it’s only a matter of time before the girls are drawn into what Courtney will call “crazy shit.”

The worst part is that some of these forces have noticed Courtney and the girls specifically - and see them as a threat...

SC: Thanks so much for dropping in. Let's take a look at your novel now. 

Mary, Everything
The Flapper Covenant Series 
Book One
Cassandra Yorke

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, LGBTQ+
Time Travel, Time Travel Romance
Date of Publication: March 30, 2020 
ISBN: 9780578680361
Number of pages: 414
Word Count: 108,498
Cover Artist: Cassandra Yorke

Tagline: A gripping tale of best friends and romance, sorcery and survival, at the dawn of the Roaring 20s.

Author Commentary: This novel is a memoir wrapped in fiction. While it's a tale of time travel and sorcery, at its core are real events and real themes - haunted yearbooks in college archives, yearning for times long gone, battery and abuse, exile and homecoming. 

While I hope you enjoy it, I promise you will never read another story like it. It's from the heart, it's gritty and lurid - and below the action, it's real.

Book Description:

A young woman born in the wrong reality.

A destiny that will lead her into the past.

And a love so enduring it reaches across time - and existence itself - to bring her home.

Courtney is a lonely undergrad at secluded Braddock College in 2004, working a drowsy summer job in the Archives. Assigned to a new project, she becomes haunted by a college yearbook from the 1920s - filled with familiar faces and memories of times she never experienced. A chance encounter with a mysterious girl named Sadie - dressed in long-outdated clothes - alters her reality. But if you were never meant to be born, that reality can expel you like an infection - or kill you outright. While Courtney struggles against forces she cannot comprehend, a psychopathic stalker smells blood and closes in for the kill.

Sadie, now in 1921, races against the clock to save her friend, joined by some remarkable allies - an American combat sorceress and veteran of World War I, an enigmatic professor who specializes in piercing the veil between realities, and two young women who insist they’re Courtney’s oldest friends - one of them even claiming to be her truest love.

Time is running out for Courtney, and a terrifying wilderness - haunted by the dead from centuries past - may hold the key to her salvation. But none who enter have ever returned…

Cassandra Yorke's groundbreaking debut brings Magical Realism home to the Midwest in an explosive new style, blending midwestern gothic and historical fiction with a warm lesbian love story to create a riveting, deeply immersive epic you won't be able to put down. It's the world of Boardwalk Empire and Gatsby, with an urgent, immersive narrative about what it means to belong, what it means to be hated, what it means to be loved, and ultimately what it means to come home.


The crosswalk is the busiest place in town any time of the year, and even if Braddock has a fraction of the people in the summer, it’s still bustling. As I’m coming up, I spot a girl approaching from my left. She’s ghostly pale like me, with auburn hair cut in a short bob around her soft jawline. The most striking thing about her is her narrow, almond-shaped eyes. I’ve always thought chicks with eyes like that are really cute. They catch mine as I approach, and there’s a kind of click; two people in a crowd with matching energy. She greets me with a narrow, witty smile. I return hers in my usual unintentional way, soft and genuine and a little bit sad-looking without ever meaning to seem that way. And we stand there for a minute, waiting for the traffic to clear.

 “Say, is it gonna be dry like this all week?” she asks.

 “Um…” I wish I had a better answer ready. “I think so? I haven’t really checked the weather.”

“Why, I sure hope it is.” She stares back across the street at the shade of College Green. “Anything I hate is rain in the summer.”

 Roll my eyes in agreement. “Ugh, totally.”

I sneak a look at her. She’s wearing a brown bell-shaped hat, the kind that were popular in the 1920s. She’s wearing a 20s style dress, too: green, knee-length, with a round-cut neckline and loose cap sleeves. She’s even wearing old-fashioned brown stockings and brown heels. It catches my eye and I stare for a second or two; it’s a hot day for stockings, especially the old-fashioned silk kind like that. And her shoes are really retro, like old church grandma shoes. She must shop at that vintage thrift store all the way up at the far end of Court Street; it’s the only place around here where you could get clothes like that, unless she goes thrifting in Columbus.

She’s standing here next to me, watching the street, not self-conscious at all. Like she wears stuff like that every day without even thinking about it.

Then she looks at me, glances away, looks at me again a little longer. Her eyes linger on my top and on my legs, and she looks away again, blushing. I’ve always been a little bit empathic and I can feel curiosity in her glance. And…attraction?

Nah, that can’t be right - girls are never into me. Maybe I look too preppy, I don’t know. I’m a D&D nerd, raised on video games from the age of five, but because I wear an Abercrombie hoodie or Hollister shorts or flat iron my hair, people assign me a whole package of expectations - Courtney is a bitch, Courtney’s stuck-up, Courtney’s a backstabbing gossip, Courtney’s rich. Courtney is heterosexual...? Look, I’ll be honest with you, I’m gonna have a hard time living up to all of that. Maybe not the bitch thing - because yeah, I’m probably a bitch - but the rest of it?

Sorry, no can do.

The traffic finally stops from the other direction. I give her one last smile - which she returns warmly - and step onto the street. A few quick steps take me to the other sidewalk. I stop and look at my slender Fossil watch, making a pretense to turn in her direction again for one last look. She’s awfully cute, and I love her chic vintage style. I wonder if she’d think I was creepy if-

There’s nobody there. I glance around to see if she took off in another direction. Nothing. There are plenty of people around, walking dogs, wearing flip-flops, riding bikes. But no girls with vintage clothes.

She’s gone. It’s like she was never there.

But she totally was there! I talked to her!

Unless I’m finally losing it?

I rub an eye with the heel of my hand, not really caring that I just stamped dry mascara on my skin. Maybe I need to get out more. Maybe I need friends. I stand on the busy sidewalk for a moment, completely disoriented, before remembering that I was looking for a place to sit down and eat my salad. But even as I make my way onto College Green and up toward the Civil War statue, looking for a place to sit, I can’t get that girl out of my head. Not just because she was cute. Something about her, that weird click when we saw each other.

Eh, maybe I’ll see her again. I shove a straw through the lid of my drink. Nobody just vanishes.

I wish you could just disappear.

Though I guess if you wanted to disappear, this would be the place to do it. Outside the city limits, the nights are dark and old, and people who vanish are never seen again.

About the Author:

Cassandra's life was changed forever when she was taken captive by a haunted college yearbook as an Ohio University senior in the summer of 2004. Ten years later, she started work on Mary, Everything to make sense of the experience. Bathed in summer sunlight and crafted from early 2000s punk rock, Cassandra's goal is more than just telling a story - she wants to take you captive, too.

She lives in central Ohio with her wife, house rabbits, and video games.

And of course, her own ghostly memories.

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Thursday, June 10, 2021



The Somewhere I See You Again
Nancy Thorne

Genre: YA Romance

Tagline: The lives of two teenage girls take a dramatic turn when both their families face financial ruin. Blackmail may be their only solution - and undoing.

Hannah will resort to anything to save her mother’s life. Including blackmail.Even if the target is the former boyfriend of her goody-goody best friend, Stacy.

Except, he just moved to the West Coast, and now it’s up to Hannah to convince Stacy to hitchhike with her cross-country to confront him.

It’s 1971. Change is happening. And Hannah’s understanding of the world is about to be tested by those she encounters along the way, includinga gorgeous draft dodger.

Someone is about to face a deathly experience. But it’s not Hannah’s mother.

The Somewhere I See You Again is an extraordinary story about the life-changing power of love and friendship against insurmountable odds 

Excerpt 1

Stacy is at the kitchen table filling out a job application for a waitress job at a swanky hotel in Banff, Alberta, she says Mr. Callaghan told her about, even though we already applied for a job at the Burger Barn. Her mother stops stirring and wipes her hands on her gingham apron as she turns to me.

“Won’t be long now, Hannah,” she says, meaning the cookies in the oven and not the demise of my mother. “I know you love my jam thumbprints.”

I haven’t eaten yet today. The thought of raspberry-filled cookies gets my interest and my stomach growls. “Can’t wait.” Repeatedly, I nod to the hall that leads to Stacy’s room until she gets my drift.

“We’re going to my room for a minute, Mom,” Stacy says.

“You can take some home with you, Hannah.”

I close Stacy’s door behind me and hand her the photos. “Forget about the crappy waitress jobs, Stace. Here’s all we need to get a shitload of money for our families.”

About the Author:

Nancy Thorne is an award-winning author of fiction inspired by the romance and courage of youth.

Born and raised in Toronto, Nancy fostered a passion for words and creating stories in grade school but hid it much too well. Bringing to life a lifelong dream, her short stories have recently appeared in anthologies and literary journals.

Her debut novel, VICTORIAN TOWN, a  young adult paranormal romance with mystery and time travel elements, was released in 2018 and won First Place for the 2019 Dante Rossetti Award.

Nancy Thorne’s work has appeared in over seven major publications including The First Line Literary Journal and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

She has received several awards and accolades including the Writer’s Award from the APL. Her works continue to appear in many journals and online publications. She lives just outside of Toronto with her loving family, energetic labrador, and an entertaining corgi.

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Monday, June 7, 2021



A Prophecy of Wings
Jane McGarry

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling
Publisher: JM Books
Date of Publication:  May 18, 2021
ISBN ebook: 978-1-7365884-0-6 
ISBN print: 978-1-7365884-1-3
Number of pages: 382 
Word Count: 71,000

Cover Artist: Graphics by Mulan Jiang

Tagline: Two Fairies: One Destiny 

Book Description:  

A betrayal, a prophecy, a kingdom in the balance. Sixteen years ago the evil Dahlia overthrew the kingdom of Roshall Grove, the heart of the Fairy World. A prophecy foreseen by Edwina, a powerful enchantress, remains the only hope to topple her iron-fisted rule. Now, Lina, a simple peasant girl, learns her future is linked to this prophecy. Edwina brings Lina to the Fairy World to fulfill her destiny—conquering Queen Dahlia. 

Separated from the enchantress by agents of the dark queen, Lina begins a perilous journey to join the Resistors, who await her return to mount their attack. Thrust into this strange world, Lina must navigate relations with a host of different fairies and animals, never knowing who seeks to help or to thwart her. Finally reunited with the Resistors, Lina must find the strength to lead her people and fulfill the prophecy. Meanwhile, Dahlia prepares for the battle, which will ultimately decide the survival of her reign, while reflecting on the path that brought her and her foe to this moment of reckoning. 

A fairy tale with an ending twist, A Prophecy of Wings is loosely based on Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen and examines the ideas of predestined fates and the subsequent, sometimes unforeseen, consequences. 

Amazon      BN      Kobo      Apple

Excerpt - Prologue:

The pains came more frequently now. Even with the help of Edwina, it was a struggle to run. In the cramped darkness of the tunnel, she tried to maintain her footing, an impossible task with the burgeoning weight of her belly. Time was of the essence. They must not be caught, but the spasms were nearly unbearable.

“I can't go on,” she gasped, a sharp pang taking her breath away.

“Just a little bit further, Your Highness,” the enchantress coaxed.

Every step down the seemingly endless passageway was sheer torment. Queen Ivy willed herself to continue. She was the last hope for her people, and she must not fail.

Edwina stopped so abruptly; the queen stumbled into her back. The enchantress pulled the weakened monarch through a narrow gap in the wall. They crossed the threshold of a doorway into the depths underneath the forest. A tangle of tree roots filled the cavern, their sinuous forms dwarfing the fairies. A robust scent infused the air with bark, stone, and earth.

Queen Ivy, a Volant used to the skies, reeled at the unfamiliar smells and fell to her knees.

The enchantress, more experienced with Groundling habitats, remained unaffected and surveyed the area. She assisted the queen in a nook hidden between the sides of two large tree roots, which soared overhead out of sight to meet the tree's trunk somewhere way above.

“Wait here,” she instructed, a moot directive to her incapacitated companion.

While Edwina disappeared the way they came, Ivy settled down her awkward frame. How had it come to this? The past few months had turned her world upside down. Having one's sister hunt you like prey was horrifying enough, but targeting her baby for death rocked her to her very core. Instinctively, her hand flew to her stomach, the muscles again tightening with the tremors of labor.

Her friend returned, hair disheveled, wings drooping, and announced, “As far as I can tell, we may have lost them in the maze of tunnels. I have used cloaking measures along the way and put a spell on the door to keep others out. But your sister's powers are strong. If she were to find us…”

“She will find us. It is only a matter of time,” the queen declared. Dahlia learned enough in dark magic to track even a covered trail.

“Well, it is time for this baby, so here must do.”
Queen Ivy sighed, resigned to the situation. When she discovered she was with child all those months ago, she had not envisioned giving birth in a dark hole underground. The enchantress spread a blanket on the earth for the queen to lie down. She checked the progress of the baby and nodded.  

“It is time. You need to push.”

Above all, the baby must survive. Otherwise, the prophecy would remain unfulfilled, and the kingdom would never be restored. The monarch braced herself against one sturdy root; the surface felt surprisingly warm and smooth. Under the calm direction of her lifelong friend, she delivered the child.

Edwina laid the baby girl into her arms. Ivy admired the feathery blond hair and the round little nose. Tears welled in her eyes at the sheer perfection of the infant. The enchantress finished tending to the mother and turned her attention to the newborn. After a quick examination, she ripped a length of fabric off Ivy's skirt to wrap her. “You could not have asked for a healthier daughter. Now, what shall her name be?”

“Her name?” the queen pondered. "I’ve not thought of one. All I have thought of is her safety.”

Before Edwina responded, they heard it—the rattle of armor. Soldier’s footsteps approached, their faint clinking unmistakable. Both women froze in terror.

“She has found us,” Ivy whispered in dread, her arms tightening around the baby.

“Perhaps not. Perhaps it is King Theros on his way to tell us he defeated Dahlia.”

The footsteps grew louder.

“No,” the queen affirmed. “It is my sister. I feel her presence. You must take the baby to the other world and keep her safe until the time is right. Dahlia cannot follow you there.”

The soldier’s armor rang loudly in their ears. They came to a halt right outside the doorway.

“Come then,” the enchantress conceded, holding out a hand to help her friend rise.

“No. I must stay and try to defeat Dahlia. Take her.” She thrust the infant into Edwina’s arms. “Go now.”

Loud hammering filled the air with the enemy’s attempt to break the door down.

“But My Queen, she will show you no mercy. I will not leave you here to die.”

Queen Ivy leaned forward and placed her hands on her friend’s, which cradled the child. She slipped the crystal-bound amulet inside the swaddling. “Yes, Edwina, you must. I command it. Take her now and keep her safe.”

The enchantress desperately tried to think of another way. Axes and spears crashed upon the door, weakening her spell with every stroke. Sadly, she stepped back and conjured the words to transport her between the worlds, a power only she possessed in the entire kingdom.  

The new mother watched the toss of the seeds, and Edwina’s frantically whispered spell. A cloud of dust encircled her friend and her baby. Too weak to even stand, she blinked through her tears. Just before the two vanished, she said, “Lina. I want her to be named Lina.”

Edwina nodded, the final wish heard, and with a poof, they were gone.

The door finally gave way, a multitude of soldiers pouring in, their armor dark as night. Queen Ivy turned to see her sister step through the broken threshold. Dahlia scrutinized the scene, the queen’s deflated belly and the cloud of dust on the ground. Her eyes narrowed in malice. The baby was beyond her reach—for now. She met Queen Ivy’s eyes and despised the look of triumph in them.

“Kill her,” Dahlia ordered.

The queen whispered one last anguished prayer for her daughter before an arrow pierced her heart.

About the Author: 

Reading was always a big part of Jane’s life. Creating her own stories developed out of this love. To date she has published the Not Every Girl trilogy, a YA Fantasy Adventure. Her latest novel, A Prophecy of Wings, is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Thumbelina. She lives in New Jersey with my husband, two sons and two extremely spoiled cats. When she is not running around with her family or writing, she can be found curled up with a good book and said cats. 

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Sunday, May 23, 2021

SUPERNATURAL SUNDAY: The One about Nick Daily and Beyond Paranormal

 We had a chance to chat with Nick Daily, lead investigator with Beyond Paranormal, about all things supernatural. Have a look. 



Monday, May 10, 2021



Today we are welcoming author Samurai Dan Coglan to Supernatural Central to talk about his book INVASION OF THE UNDEAD. But first a few questions:

SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

SDC: Former Force Recon Marine Corporal Chase Brooks is the main character of Invasion of the Undead; book one of the Deathstalker Chronicles.  He is tough, as befits a Marine, highly motivated, and while not the smartest kid in class, he is wise and street-smart.  His personality is a mix of the old tough detective in stories like Sam Spade or Robert Parker’s Spenser, and Shane “Scarecrow” Schofield, from action author Matthew Reilly.  Brooks is experienced enough to have a fully formed view of the world, but is young enough and flexible enough to learn and expand said view.  Unfortunately, he is also blunt, bull-headed, and strong-willed enough that he normally gets himself into bad situations first, and learns through the school of hard knocks.

SC: Since we're all about weird stuff around here, tell us ... do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

SDC: I actually DO believe in the paranormal! I firmly believe that there is so much more out there in the world that we as humans can currently sense or understand.  I am not a person that jumps into UFO stories, or watches ghost hunter type shows on TV or online, but am an open agnostic.  I don’t reject anything out of hand, because there is so much that I don’t know, I have to treat things as possible.

My wife and I moved to the country just over a year and a half ago.  The farmhouse we moved into was built in 1903, I think.  It may have been 1904, so don’t quote me on that.  One night after Jillian had gone to bed, my dog Kiba, who had been lying at my feet, bolted upright, and stared hard into the dining room.  I looked over, and honest to God, saw a figure move through the doorway into the kitchen.  I jumped up and went in to see who had broken into my house without me or my Akita noticing, and there was no one there.  The next night, the same thing happened.  This time there were voices, murmuring, indistinct but human, as well.

It freaked me out enough that I told my parents about it, who had lived in the house the previous 25 years.  My dad laughed, and said, “You met George.  He’s the old guy that built the house.  Died there, too.  Used to let the local Quaker group hold meetings in the dining room.”

I never knew my parents believed in ghosts at all.

SC: It's interesting what comes up when you share a story with someone. Thanks for sharing that one with us. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about? P.S. Love Akitas.

SDC:: Upcoming titles for the Deathstalker Chronicles, due out in the next year or two, would be DSC2: Pack Problems, where Brooks heads off to Maine to help rescue his deceased best friend’s kid sister and mother, who are trapped in a tiny logging town beset my werewolves.

DSC3: Bloodsuckers, takes place back in Virginia, where Brooks is “hired” by locals to put together a team of ex-Special Forces vets to eliminate a nest of vampires.

DSC4: Hexed, is the book that I’m currently writing.  This time Brooks and his surviving friends are pitted against a coven of evil witches that are using blood magic.  I have a number of friends involved in the more positive side of witchcraft that are helping me with research and storyline for this, and it’s been intimidating but fun!

SC: Thanks for joining us today. Let's take a look now.

Invasion of the Undead
Death Stalker Chronicles 
Book One
Samurai Dan Coglan

Genre: Horror
Publisher: L’Oste Vineyard Press
Date of Publication: 5-28-2021
ISBN: 978-1-7353896-7-7
Number of pages: 242
Word Count: 60500

Book Description:  

Former Marine Lance Corporal Chase Brooks fought the enemy in Afghanistan and lost his unit. 

Now back in America, he fights to keep from losing his mind, as he is repeatedly attacked by the undead that he believes wiped out his men overseas. 

Convinced that what he saw over there was real, he goes to war to wipe out the undead on American soil.

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“Get those damn charges set, and let’s get out of here,” I growled into my mic.  Shadows moved around me, and a turbaned face appeared out of the murky darkness.  I shot the onrushing insurgent twice and looked around for more.

“Come on, come on, come on,” I muttered.  “We’re past time for evac.  Move your slow asses!” Lt. Rodriquez was suddenly at my side, scowling.  “We’re doing the best we can, Corporal.  Hold on to your hat.”

“Charges set, Lieutenant,” Stevens called out.  “That makes all four; we can blow this popsicle stand!”

“About damn time,” I snapped.  “There are hostiles everywhere.  What the hell is this place, anyway?”

McGavin scoffed.  “It’s a temple, Brooks.  Remember? We had a briefing and everything.”

“Screw you,” I told him.  “This ain’t like no temple that I’ve ever seen.  And it smells like a fucking crypt.”

“No lie,” my buddy, Lance Corporal Jeremy Stevens, chimed in.  

“Marines,” Rodriquez barked.  “Let’s go.”

I led us back out, the six of us in tight formation.  Stevens was on my left flank; Sgt. Bates was on my right, and the Lieutenant was in the middle with the beady-eyed “guide” that the Colonel had stuck us with.  McGavin brought up the rear.

Dead bodies were everywhere; our ingress had come with a high body count.  I ignored them.

Two tours had made me immune to corpses. I had bigger priorities.

There was a commotion in front of us; heard but not seen.  Voices cried out in excitement.  We froze.

Our position was suddenly hit with massive spotlights.  “We’ve been cut off! Break left!” Rodriquez yelled as gunfire erupted all around us.  We returned fire, hot and heavy.
Being in front has its disadvantages.  I got hit three times, twice in the chest and once in the leg.

My vest took the brunt of the two to the chest, but the leg shot really sucked.  I went down but staggered back to my feet and kept fighting.

Stevens took over point; Lt. Rodriquez slid over to his spot and put me in the middle with the guide, who looked scared out of his mind.  I didn’t blame him.   

We raced through the gloom, moving downhill but not having a choice in the matter.  McGavin took a round to the lower back and went down.  I shouted, and the unit took up positions around our fallen comrade.  

We created a semi-circle facing back the way we’d come, weapons up and ready.  There wasn’t long to wait.  The horde was on us quickly, the heavy sound of their AK-47s threatening to overwhelm the sharper cracks of our M-4s.  

It was over in less than sixty seconds, and to my amazement, we were still standing.  There were bodies all around us, and the air was thick with the smell of cordite.  Clouds of smoke from the gunfire obscured our lights even further.  
It was like being in hell, I thought, sweeping the area with my carbine.  Something flashed in my light, and I swung back.

There was a figure standing at the edge of the light.  It couldn’t be a friendly, so I shot at it.  I missed, and it ducked behind a pile of bodies.  The Lieutenant motioned, and Stevens and I went out to get whoever it was.  

I’d taken maybe three steps when the figure reappeared, much closer.  I could tell it was a man, head and neck wrapped in a shemagh.  One arm was holding a bundle, and the other was outstretched toward the ceiling.  

His eyes were glowing red.  I blinked.  His eyes really were glowing; it wasn’t goggles or an optical illusion.  Glowing or not, I knew what my job was.  I put that head with glowing eyes in my sights and prepared to pull the trigger.

Our guide, who’d been useless and paranoid the entire mission, started screaming and babbling in complete gibberish.  The only part that I could make out was something about Manziel or manzazu or some such nonsense, but his outburst caught me off guard, and I missed my shot.
Suddenly there was movement all around us.  The bodies of the enemy combatants were stirring.  Impossibly, they were staggering to their feet.  All around us, corpses were rising from the floor, their eyes shining a baleful crimson.

“What the fuck?” Stevens shouted.  “This ain’t happening, man.”  

I put a three-round burst into the chest of the corpse nearest me and blew out his heart.  It didn’t seem to affect him at all; he just kept shuffling toward me, his arms reaching out.  I shot him again, this time doing the Mozambique technique that had been drilled into all Marines.  The two shots to the body didn’t do anything, but the follow-up round to the head dropped it.
I could hear my unit screaming, cursing, and shooting the reanimated dead bodies all around me.

 They were coming at us from every direction.  

We tightened our circle, trying to cover each other as we changed mags and shifted targets.  It didn’t matter; they overwhelmed us. There were just too many of them, and we couldn’t put them down fast enough.

I watched in horror as my best friend, Jeremy Stevens, was pulled down by a mob of freaking zombies and torn apart.  Behind me, Lt. Rodriquez screamed, and then his voice trailed off into a muffled gurgle, and I knew he was gone, too.

My mag ran dry, and I reached for another, determined to keep fighting.  My fingers closed on air.  I was out.  The undead pressed in, their hands clawing for me.  I swung the empty rifle like a club, trying to clear a space.

The undead mob pulled the rifle from my hands, so I drew my Colt 1911 handgun.  It was a fine weapon, and I was good with it, but it only held eight rounds.  Those eight rounds went quickly.

 When the pistol was empty, all sounds of gunfire ceased.

I was the last of the unit standing.  The zombies surrounded me.  To my right, two of the obscene things were eating my Sergeant.  Behind them, more were tearing our guide to pieces.
I spun to my left and saw what was left of Stevens.  Hands fastened onto my vest, and I twisted away.  More grabbed hold of my legs, and I went down.  

The zombies crowded around me.  Behind them, looking on, was the man with the glowing eyes, triumph on his face.  He cackled with glee.

In desperation, I felt around for anything to use as a weapon.  My hands reached above my head and found the remains of the Lieutenant.  His head had been ripped off.  My hands shifted lower and found the detonator on his belt for the explosive packages that we’d set.

I yanked it free and held it up.  The zombies were all over me, and their leader was looking down at me, sneering.

“Fuck you,” I screamed and pushed the button.  There was a distant rumble, a pressure wave, and then the world collapsed on me.

About the Author:

Dan Coglan, A.K.A. “Samurai Dan” is the acknowledged masters of marital… er, martial mayhem.  Dan travels the civilized portions of the U.S., bringing his unique show to curious and horrified audiences alike.

In addition to their high-energy, mostly safe stage shows (where razor-sharp blades and barbs fly),  Dan teaches historical and hysterical panels on the way of the warrior.  Offering a wide range of lectures and interactive workshops, Dan provides joy and laughs wherever he goes. 

Due to a supreme lack of filter, Dan also performs standup comedy in censored and uncensored settings.  A storyteller at heart, Dan is releasing his first book in his Deathstalker Chronicle Series:  Invasion of the Undead.

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