2 Books, 2 Blogs, 2 5-Star Reviews!

Posted by Kathy Carmichael Friday, July 29, 2011 on 3:36 PM
I’ve been so immersed in writing commentaries for a writing contest, that I’ve been remiss in announcing these! And believe me, I am THRILLED!

2 books, 2 Blogs, 2 Five-Star Reviews!


*5 Stars* “This is another sweet and funny offering from author Kathy Carmichael, so if you’re looking for another beach read, I think you can’t go wrong with this one.” ~ Julianne Draper, Tampa Books Examiner


*5 Stars* "This is a must read for every hopeless romantic who likes a bit of humor with their romance. Funny, smart, sexy and disastrous. What more could a person need?" ~ Aimee, Coffee Table Reviews


Guest Author: Kevin Wallis

Posted by Kathy Carmichael on 3:00 AM in

I'm pleased to welcome guest author, Kevin Wallis!

A homeless man trapped in a hell of his own making finds a reason to hope in "Redemption Song."

A camping trip turns into a race for survival after the discovery of a bizarre artifact in "The Taking of Michael McConnolly."

A man begins to question his sanity as patrons at a cafe begin to vanish one by one in "Charlie's Lunch."

Over two dozen exceptional tales of terror from one of the emerging voices in the genre.

"The Taking of Michael McConnolly" was named an Honorable Mention by Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year.

"An impressive, often unnerving, and always gutsy collection, Beneath the Surface of Things easily marks Kevin Wallis as a writer to Beware of with such stories as Redemption Song and No Monsters Came That Night. Every story showcases Wallis' determination to break through the so-called boundaries of dark fiction and explore disturbing and sometimes even eye-opening new worlds, some without, but most within. You owe it to yourself to look Beneath the Surface of Things."

Gary A. Braunbeck
Bram Stoker and World Horror Guild Award winning author

Author website: www.bardsandsages.com/kevinwallis

The following excerpt is from the short story The Taking of Michael McConnolly.


As a kid, Michael McConnolly once rode an elephant at the circus. That may seem trite in the midst of a tale such as this, but as Brent and Mark rattled the earth with ear-shattering snores beside me—I wouldn’t be surprised if they had placed a bet on who could disrupt my sleep the most—I found myself thinking of this. He first told me of his elephant adventure as he and Mark lay sprawled across my college apartment’s floor after a Pearl Jam concert many years ago. The story had struck us just as the night’s beer consumption reached that critical point when perfectly timed gas and the lamest of jokes can double you over. And his elephant story—I even got a certificate!—damn near killed us. With the remnants of our cigarettes’ smoky trails hovering above us, we laughed until the alcohol clubbed us into the sleep of the drunk.

I tried to hear that laugh again—Mike’s natural, easygoing chortle. But my mind couldn’t find the tears of mirth that coated his face that night. All I heard was that other laugh, the one he had taken to his tent. My brain turned off the sound—protecting me, I guess, from what was to come—and I finally drifted into a restless sleep convinced he had been sobbing instead.

Sometime later—seconds, minutes at the most—I awoke to Zeke’s voice. “Mike’s gone.”

I first thought he said “Light’s on,” like some drill sergeant who’d lost the stomach for any stereotypical Hollywood screaming.

“He’s gone, man. Get up.” Zeke walked out.

Hearing him that time, I rubbed sleep from my eyes and kicked my sleeping brothers. Their snores morphed into angry, lionish growls, but they sat up with a few more well-aimed shots of my foot.

“How you guys ever got laid, much less married, with noises like that, I’ll never know.” Blank looks met my quip, so I said, “Mike’s gone. Zeke sounds worried. We better see what’s up.”

Five minutes later, with coats and boots clumsily donned and bladders hurriedly emptied, the six of us—my brothers and I, Zeke, Brody and Dan—stood by Mike’s empty tent. Zeke handed me the note he’d found taped to the outside of his own tent when he’d come outside to take a leak a few minutes before waking up the rest of us.

Something saw us take the amulet and it’s pissed.

You don’t piss off things like this.

It was written almost illegibly, a vast contrast from Mike’s usual neat, almost girlish script. A few inches down, he had scribbled some more, repeating his lunatic message from the campfire.

We’re not the ones. It doesn’t belong to us.

“Amulet?” Dan asked after I read the note aloud. “He probably doesn’t even know what an amulet is.”

“So where’d he go?” Brent asked. More than anyone, he seemed annoyed at the interruption of his beauty sleep.

The cry of the ivory horn answered him. It howled through the trees from the east side of the woods like a grief-stricken mourner. Our heads whipped towards the sound, then to the branch from which we’d hung it earlier. The branch was empty.

“Why’d he take the horn?” Brody asked.

“To call us for help,” Mark said. “He knows something we don’t.”

“Listen to it.” I silenced my friends with my hands and traced the direction of the horn call. “It’s coming from the direction of the Geocache box. Maybe Mike’s putting the necklace back.”

We snatched flashlights, donned headlamps. Mark grabbed his GPS-equipped phone, and we took off through the forest. The beams spasmed ahead of us like strobe lights. I remember thinking that I was glad none of us had epilepsy, lest we start seizing from the light show. If I had known of the bloodshed to come, I would’ve saved my thoughts for something other than whimsical wandering.

We reached the clearing where we had first found the Geocache in what seemed like seconds, although the hike earlier that day dictated that we must have been running for at least ten minutes. Except for the small-as-a-jockey but strong-as-a-racehorse Dan, none of us were exactly Olympians anymore—weekend warriors and beer-league softballers at best—so several more moments passed before we caught our wind enough to look around. Our breath fired into the cold air in visible puffs of exhaustion.

Zeke spoke first. “Blood.”

Even in the darkness, I saw that he was right. It spattered the ground at our feet, dotting dead leaves, streaking fallen tree trunks. Our lights illuminated crimson until it glowed against the backdrop of the woods. Under the raised tree root where we had first uncovered the Geocache, the wooden box lay smashed into countless shards that looked like teeth floating in a puddle of bloody rainwater. The necklace was nowhere to be seen.

Mark put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed until I had to bite my lip to stifle a grunt of pain. “What the fuck, Mike?” he said, more to himself than to me. “What the fuck?”

I shone a light upon my little brother’s face, an act that would’ve earned me a blindside backhand under normal circumstances, but the pale shock I saw there assured me his thoughts were miles from my flashlight beam. I followed his gaze.

The carnage wasn’t confined to the area near the Geocache box. No, a war had erupted in the forest. Our lights shone off trees shattered mid-trunk, great furrows ripped into the earth, and blood painting it all like a living fungus.

“Something tore this place apart,” Brent said.

My eyes refused to stray from the unfathomable amounts of blood splashed across the land before me. “Goddamn, Mike, I hope you at least held your own,” I whispered.

A scream ripped my attention from the battle site. It came from above, from the left, the right. It suffused me, burrowed into my skin and brain and fear until I knew but two simple facts. The scream was Mike’s, and it rattled with pain.

Someone spoke. It could’ve been any of them. “Guns.”

We rushed back to camp. Glock .40 cals and Ruger 9mm’s and Springfield Armory XD subcompacts—I understood none of their high-tech babble, but the clack of a fully loaded magazine slamming home, well, that I understood. I picked up a hatchet from the stack of firewood and tried to look like I belonged in this army.

Mike’s wail pounded the air again, panicked, wrought with agony. He was a tough man, old Irish tough; I’d witnessed him come out on top in more than a few bar fights. But this shriek had stripped away all the bravado and reduced his voice to that of a child facing the monster under his bed for the first time.

“Where the fuck is he?” I asked.

Brent slid a cartridge into his Glock’s handle and said, “Do we stick together or split up?” His face was steel.

“I think we’re armed enough to split up,” Brody said. He pointed to me and my brothers. “You three take that way, we’ll go this way.” He dictated directions.

I turned to gauge my brothers’ opinions, but Mark was already sprinting back into the woods, his pistol swinging at his side. It looked natural, organic, an extension of his flesh and bone. Brent and I followed him, our headlamps keeping him in sight, leaving Brody, Zeke and Dan behind.

We plunged into the woods. The sounds of nature at midnight vanished beneath our gasping breath, the furious crunching of our boots over dead leaves and branches. It was like hurtling through a vacuum, a tunnel devoid of any sensation not linked to adrenaline and fear. Even the beams from our lights were flat, illuminating so little that our faces slammed into the ground more than once as conniving roots grabbed at our ankles. Only when my hand wiped blood from my eyes did I realize that branches had been whipping across my face.

I stopped in a clearing, bent over gasping, and cursed the pack of American Spirits I’d inhaled the previous night. “Hold up, guys,” I said. “Let’s figure out where we . . .”

I was alone.


Chat with me tonight -- $10 gift card prize

Posted by Kathy Carmichael Wednesday, July 13, 2011 on 12:36 PM

Tonight I'll be chatting at Mo's Book Buzz and I would love for you to come! Attendees will have a chance to win a $10 gift card for either Amazon or B&N! The chat begins at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. If you haven't attended an online chat before, Mo's Book Buzz is a great place to start because everyone is so friendly!

I'll be discussing my new paranormal romantic comedy, Stuck On You.

Here's the link to more information: Chat with Kathy

Here's the direct link to the chat room: Chat Room (starts at 9:o0 ET) You don't need a password, so can leave that field blank, then click on the arrow where it says Room: and select Mo's Book Buzz.

I hope you can make it!


Guest Poster: Melissa Foster

Posted by Kathy Carmichael Tuesday, July 12, 2011 on 3:00 AM

Today's Guest Poster is Melissa Foster. Featured below is an excerpt from her novel, MEGAN'S WAY. Click on the book cover to link to her book on Amazon Kindle.

MEGAN’S WAY (Excerpt)

by Melissa Foster


Summer 1988

Megan and Holly ran, weaving their way through the crowds of the carnival and hollering to hear over the thick cheer that permeated the festive evening. Two teenage boys looked them up and down as they passed. Megan yanked Holly by her arm and pulled her into a long shadow cast by the colorful lights that illuminated a rickety roller coaster. They huddled together, giggling. A moment later, the roller coaster whooshed by, sending them scampering through the mass of carnival-goers, engulfed in uncontrollable shrieks of laughter.

A small red tent with a psychedelic sign that read “Psychic Readings! See Your Future! $3!” caught Megan’s attention. She dragged Holly to the entrance, and they peered into the smoky gloom as they parted the curtain of stringed glass beads, which clinked and jingled as they were pushed to the side.

Holly pulled at Megan’s sleeve, “Let’s get out of here.”

Megan distractedly shrugged off Holly’s hand. She was mesmerized by the rush of the unknown, spellbound by the eccentric woman sitting within the darkened tent. A chill ran up Megan’s spine. The woman looked into her eyes and beckoned her forward. Megan reached behind her and grasped Holly’s hand, pulling her into the tent against her will. She reached into her pocket and, barely able to take her eyes from the old woman’s, fumbled to count her money and then shoved six crumpled dollar bills into a glass jar that sat on a pedestal by the entrance.

The cacophony of the rides and the crowds seemed to fall away as a hushed stillness closed in around them, save for the crackle of the flickering flames dancing on their wicks. The girls’ hands trembled. They were equally scared and excited by the mystical old woman shrouded in veils. Several bracelets clanked and dangled from her thick wrist as she motioned for them to sit around the small round table. They startled when the old woman grabbed their hands with her rough, plump fingers, then she slowly and dramatically closed her eyes.

Her hands tightened around theirs. The woman gasped a deep breath, and her body raised up and back, as if she were being pushed against the back of her chair. She held her breath, then let it out in a rush of air. Her hands fell open, releasing theirs. Her shoulders slumped forward, and her head followed.

Holly snapped her head in Megan’s direction and mouthed, “What the hell?”

The woman opened her heavily-painted eyes, which grew wide and laden with concern, and stared into Megan’s eyes. Megan felt riveted to her chair. The woman reached across the table and touched her hand, sending a jolt of energy up Megan’s arm. Megan pulled her hand away, frightened. The woman whispered to her, “Ah, High Priestess, my teen querent. She will need you, and you will know.”

Megan’s legs trembled, her heart pounded in her chest. Her breaths came in short, clipped bursts. She and Holly turned wide, scared eyes toward each other. The woman moved her vision to the space between Megan and Holly. “Three of Swords pierce a heart. Against the background of a storm, it bleeds.” She closed her eyes again, and whispered, “I see death.” Her eyes slowly opened and she squinted, as if she were watching a scene unfold of a different time and place, her eyes darting without focus. Then seeming to recite, she intoned, “Blood or poison will come: Transformation—passage—truth.”

The girls reached for each other’s shaking hands. Holly’s eyes welled with tears, her head visibly shook. Megan remained focused on each word the old woman said, unable to turn away.

The psychic turned those same concerned eyes to Holly. They glazed over with a look the girls could not read. Fear? Hatred? Understanding? She pointed a long, painted fingernail at Holly and hissed, “Judgment asks for the resurrection to summon the past, forgive it, and let it go.” She lowered her hand and said, “One will be released,” then quietly, under her breath, “and returned after death.”

After a moment of panicked silence, the girls stood, sending their chairs flying askew. Then they fled, running fast and hard into the chaos of the carnival, caught in a frenzy of fear and hysterical laughter.

The psychic screamed into the night behind them. Her words trailed in their wake and echoed in Megan’s ears for days, “With this spell, I empower thee. I empower thee!”

Chapter One


Megan steadied herself against the cold porcelain sink, hoping the morning’s nausea would subside and trying to strengthen herself for the tough decision that had been wreaking havoc with her mind lately, and the choice that lay ahead. The familiar Tink, pause, Tink, pause on her bedroom window drew her attention. A confused cardinal had repeatedly gone beak to glass in recent weeks, as though trying to rouse her. As she tried to calculate the number of times she’d also awakened to nausea, the familiar surge of bile rose in her throat.

She clung to the toilet as if it were a security blanket. The smell of last night’s dinner still wafted in the air, sending her body into convulsions of dry heaves. Great, Megan thought as she grasped her stomach. She looked up at the ceiling, What the hell am I going to do now?

“Mom?” Olivia’s voice carried down the hall. “Mo-om!” The single word stretched into two perfect teenage syllables.

Megan heard the drama in her voice and closed her eyes against her growing frustration. She knew that particular scream, the self-centered, in-a-hurry, where’s-my-stuff scream. She did not have the patience to deal with Olivia’s drama on this particular morning. She grabbed hold of the sink and pulled herself up. Her stomach lurched again, causing her whole body to clench. She prayed for some relief as Olivia’s voice came screaming at her again.

“What!” she snapped back. She wished she could have been more patient with Olivia, but at that moment, she was overtaken by exhaustion, confusion, and anger. She wanted to kick something, to cry, to scream until she no longer had a voice—but her body was too tired to do any of those things. She had to pull herself together and get through the day.

Megan rinsed out her mouth and averted her eyes from the sheet-white face that reflected back at her.

“Never mind!” Olivia yelled from the hall. Her voice carried lightly, the tension from a moment ago gone.

Thank God, Megan said to herself. She made her way back to her bed and lay down, pulling the blanket over her head to shut out the light—and maybe life—for a moment.


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