Category Archives: Horror

Welcome, Trevor Tallmadge


The Hungry Earth

The Hungry Earth by Trevor Tallmadge

Paul and Adriel are a fairly new couple, still exploring and sharing their worlds with one another. But their mutual naivete of her family’s heritage cause them to awaken things that were meant to stay dormant. Now, with the little knowledge they’ve been able to muster, they’re trying to keep up with something way over their heads…and deep beneath their feet.

In an era of remakes and reprocessed ideas in the present cinematic landscape, author Trevor Tallmadge responded by delving into the rich worlds of Greek and Wiccan mythologies as they might find themselves in a modern day setting. Tallmadge has found these rarely explored opportunities as a deep pool of relatively untapped manna and this book is his reaction to a stagnant world of suppressed creativity.

This book is a psychological thriller, involving Greek and Wiccan mythologies, in the horror/fantasy genre.

Available now at:

Amazon | Elementa


First Watch

He awoke in what seemed like a confined space. Lying face up he felt as though something was directly above him and he lifted his hands to feel a suffocating length of unfinished wood. For a heart-stopping second he thought he was in a coffin, buried alive. But then he noticed dim light in his periphery and stretched his arms out to the sides, feeling nothing but air. In total confusion and disorientation, he rolled out from underneath a coffee table and found himself alone in the living area of Adriel’s mother’s house. Mythic moonlight lit the round, open space. But he had absolutely no idea how he got there and had no prior experience with sleepwalking or ever waking up in strange places before. Absently, he wandered around in a sleepy daze, trying to understand what had happened. There was nothing out of the ordinary here but he knew something was off and made his way to the front door. Stepping out onto the porch, he glanced around at the circular driveway and beyond, dimly aware of a crisp cold that engulfed his naked body. He scanned the trees where the boughs were swaying on the sea of a gentle breeze, ebbing and flowing to a silent wind. And that was the weird part. There was no sound; no chirping of crickets, no scurrying of woodland creatures, no hooting of owls or any evidence that anything existed at all. Ever. It felt like he was the last man on earth; solitary and vulnerable. And scared. Really very disturbingly scared as he watched the dark trees waving at him.

And Cody was nowhere.

Off to his right he noticed a speck of color. Actually, as he zeroed in on it, there were two specks of color. Round, orange dots on the ground that he couldn’t identify. He listened for a sound, any kind of sound, but was only met with perfect quiet, like he had turned mute all the sudden. And within that total absence of noise blared a long and distant ringing. The silence was deafening, and all he could do was stare at those two flecks of orange that he now noticed had tiny red points in their center, like retinas. His curiosity hypnotized him and he turned his head back and forth to gain a better perspective of what he was looking at. It was as if he were peering into a 3D poster, dilating his eyes with different degrees of focus before discovering the image in its depths. And so he saw them. Two eyes fixed, steadily, on his; not further away on the ground like he thought but much closer, suspended in the black air of night, just out of reach of the moonlight. He issued an odd gasp as his skin prickled with unwanted awareness. The rational portion of his mind tried to matrix in the rest of a body, but there was none; just eyes and nothing more. Still, he felt something approach him; approach his soul and approach his heart. That’s when his adrenaline kicked in and the alarm in his mind moved his legs back into the house. Just when the door connected with the frame there was a wrong rush of wind, as if the something on the lawn made a desperate effort to attack him, but he was safely inside and his hand turned the locks, shakily.

Dizzy with fear, Paul apprehensively checked the windows to make sure they were all locked. Not seeing any hint of the lunatic on the grass, he returned to the bedroom. Adriel was asleep on her side and was breathing, rhythmically, to his reluctant relief. He sat on his side of the bed and sipped at a glass of water, unable to make sense of what he had just experienced. Sleep was the only answer now so he rotated himself into the sheets and concentrated on Adriel’s soothing breath. She shifted slightly at his movements but remained asleep, and he listened with amusement as her breathing turned into a soft, little snore. He smiled to himself and closed his eyes, breathing in through his nose and out his mouth, just like Dr. Bo instructed, as a relaxation exercise to calm his nerves. As he focused on keeping a measured pace, Paul gradually realized that Adriel’s snoring was growing louder…and more labored… and raspier. Her coarse, choking breath turned into the beginnings of a low snarl, and he opened his eyes. It looked like she was much larger, then. With her back to him, her shoulders seemed to be twice their normal size, and gaining mass, as her snarling swelled to the angry warning of a growl; all the while, unmoving. Paul sank into the mattress of his mind with an all-consuming horror that he finally surrendered to when the growling permeated the room around him and forced him down into the hell of the earth.

Only when he woke up did he know it was a dream.

About the Author

Trevor Talmadge photo_largeTrevor Tallmadge is an author of a psychological thriller in the fantasy/horror genre. After posting his book on the Publisher’s Desk website, he earned their Gold Star Award. He was matched up with Elementa, an imprint of Wisehouse Publishing.

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Welcome J.J. White

Join me in welcoming J.J. White to Highlighted Author.


J.J. White is a multi-published, award winning author, and he’s with us this week to introduce his latest book, Death’s Twisted Tales.

John WhiteWelcome, J.J., please tells us about yourself.

A native of Vermont, I was dragged kicking and screaming to Central Florida by my parents when my father relocated to work at the KennedySpaceCenter. I was a precocious and adorable little boy who overflowed with the creative juices that would prepare me for success as a noted author. Unfortunately that was stifled at a young age by an overwhelming desire to take apart things to see how they work. Thus, the left side of the brain won the battle over the right and I became a boring engineer. A few years ago, as luck would have it, I ruptured the L4 and L5 disks in my back trying to play tennis as if I were eighteen–years–old, again. With nothing to do but lie on my stomach for days on end, the right side of my brain saw an opening and pounced on the left-brain, once again surfacing my creative juices. Since that fateful day I have penned seven novels and over two hundred short stories. I have had articles and stories published in several anthologies and magazines including, The Akashic Press, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review, Bacopa Review, and The Grey Sparrow Journal. My story, The Nine Hole League, is set to be published soon in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Volume 14. I have won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest. I was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for my short piece Tour Bus which is included in my new book, Death’s Twisted Tales. I enjoy writing, surfing, golf and tennis. I live in Merritt Island, Florida with my understanding wife, editor, and typist, Pamela.


What they’re saying:

“Comprising 28 stories, each either an award-winning tale or a previously published yarn, White’s collection stays true to its title: The stories all have death, and each has a twist.

There are touching tales, such as ‘Beneath the Wintry Sky’ about enemy soldiers meeting on Christmas Eve, or thought-provoking ones, including ‘Grackle Trap’ and ‘Emily Wasn’t There.’

White’s writing pulls readers in quickly; in just a few paragraphs, he can shape a whole story.

Don’t fear the Reaper; let him read you these quick, creepy stories.”— Kirkus Reviews



Death’s Twisted Tales



“Every story ends in death if one waits long enough.”

So quotes Death as he introduces twenty-eight twisted tales for your literary enjoyment. Written by award-winning author, J. J. White, these stories weave their way through the odd, the eccentric, the suspenseful, the vengeful, the evil, and even the hopeful, with the hapless characters hurtling toward their surprising and inevitable demise, much to the approval of our macabre narrator. All of these tales have been previously published in both national and international publications with many winning awards in distinguished competitions put on by Writer’s Digest, the California Writers Club, the Oregon Writers Colony, the Arizona Mystery Writers and the Florida Writers Association, to name a few. So sit back and enjoy, for as The Grim Reaper promises, each story has a happy ending.

Someone dies.



Beneath The Wintry Sky


Death's_Twisted_Tale_Cover_for_KindleSnow fell from an ash gray sky, nearly invisible until a few feet from the ground, the flakes dusting odd-shaped drifts dyed brown from the piss, shit and blood of the 292nd infantry regiment.

He had slept only four hours in five days of constant battles, his side surrendering St. Vith back to the Panzer divisions. Window dressing for the Reich, one success in a lost war, with only one conclusion, the end of their noble quest. The Nazis were delaying the inevitable and taking as many of the enemy with them as they could.

A shell from a Kraut eighty-eight exploded about fifty feet from Joe’s foxhole, an eruption of dirt covering the fresh snow. There was plenty of snow, and sleet, and ice, all penetrating their sleeping bags, coats, and boots, while preserving the mangled bodies of their comrades, blessedly saving the living from the smell of the dead. He’d had enough of death, and enough of war. Why did civilized men capable of understanding mathematics, building cathedrals, and conquering disease, think they needed to club each other to death for a little land?

Joe had shot his first enemy soldier over a year ago. He had squeezed the trigger as if he were holding a baby bird, the rifle nearly jumping out of his hands as the distant silhouette collapsed to the earth. He thought of the dead soldier as an infant held by his parents over the crib, a toddler chasing playmates through high grass, a young man kissing his sweetheart as he boarded his train to eternity.

Those thoughts stopped after a few months of war. Joe felt none of them now. The enemy was faceless and nameless. He was eliminating someone intent on eliminating him. That’s all it was. Anything else and you’d blow your brains out.

Kowalski threw the bottle across the foxhole to Joe. He wasn’t expecting the toss and spilled some on his uniform.

“Dumb Polack,” Joe said. “Don’t they play any baseball in Jersey? You throw like a little girl.”

It was Christmas brandy from Camden’s girlfriend or lover or mother, who the hell knew. Camden wouldn’t need it anyway, buried in a shallow grave two miles north of their entrenchment. Joe passed the bottle to Corporal Johansson who took a quick swig and handed it to Paul Santini. A goddamn League of Nations foxhole. Kowalski got the bottle back from Santini and held it out in salute. “To Jake Camden, God rest his soul.” Santini made the sign of the cross. “And,” Kowalski continued, “to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

“Yeah,” Santini said. “Just like home, except there ain’t no food, no family, no presents and no tree. Other than that, it’s the same.” Santini pulled broken Christmas tree cookies from a sack and passed them around. “A little stale and broke to hell, but better than nothing, right Sarge?”

Joe nodded and nearly broke a tooth on a cookie trunk. It was a six-hour time difference between Belgium and Vermont. Kathy would be helping her parents start the Christmas dinner. Afterward, they would stand by the tree and toast Joe and pray for his safety. He wondered where they got their tree from this year. Kathy’s letters took months to get to him. She probably thought he was dead unless the Army was keeping the mess in Belgium secret.

The snow stopped as suddenly as it had started. Small black bugs crawled out from Santini’s cookie sack. Welcome to our world, Joe thought and threw the rest of his cookie away.

Three years ago, he drove twenty miles to Shrewsbury to find the perfect Christmas tree. The Frasier Firs were at just the right height. The perfect tree for the in-laws. He and Kathy had made love quietly in her old bedroom, each wondering if it would be their last Christmas together. That gave him an idea. He stood, put on his helmet and strapped his carbine over his back.

“You know what we need?” he said.

“Betty Grable,” Kowalski said.

“Besides that. We need a Christmas tree.” He pointed to the woods. “There’s a whole forest of ’em out there. Keep my seat warm.” He pulled a small hatchet from his pack.

“You’re gonna get yourself shot for a tree?” Santini asked.

“Yeah. I mean no. One of those eighty-eights hits in here it’s goodbye Charlie, anyway. What’s the difference?” And with that, he climbed out of the foxhole and ran bent over, holding his helmet on his head as he made a beeline to the forest, about a hundred yards away. The constant artillery barrage of the last two days had left few trees near the edge to choose from so Joe pushed further in until the woods were so thick they blotted out what was left of the setting sun through the heavy fog.

There it was, a four-foot spruce near the bottom of a small gully, the branches heavy with snow. He took the hatchet from his coat and after shaking the snow off the tree, began hacking at the trunk.

A few ration cans and some of Santini’s stale cookies hanging from the thin branches and they’d have their own Christmas tree for their hole. Maybe Stars and Stripes would send a reporter. He could imagine the headline:  “Four unlucky bastards blown up with their Christmas tree.”

He stopped to light a cigarette. About thirty feet away, a German soldier sawed on a similar tree with a large knife. Their eyes met as Joe flicked his Zippo. He missed the tip of the cigarette with the flame by two inches.

Joe swung his rifle around and aimed first at the soldier’s head, then the chest. Light pressure on the trigger, ready to squeeze, but he didn’t. It surprised Joe as much as it did the Kraut. The German fumbled with his rifle but somehow managed to get it into firing position. He was just a kid.

Hell of a thing to die for, Joe thought, but there were worse ways to go and his intentions had been good. He hoped someone would tell Kathy the truth.

A gray squirrel jumped from one tree to the next behind the nervous German. It startled him enough that his Mauser shook. Then the man took a breath and yelled something at Joe that could have been anything. Joe understood a little German but Johansson was the only one fluent and he was a million miles away and drunk on stolen brandy.

Joe lowered his gaze to the soldier’s tree. The boy hadn’t made much progress with the knife. Maybe the Krauts didn’t supply hatchets to their men when they fought in dense forests. It sounded like something Hitler would do.

Joe gently placed his rifle against a charred stump and then pointed to his hatchet. The soldier seemed to understand and nodded, so Joe picked it up and cleaved what was left of the trunk of his little tree with two mighty hacks. He held the tool out to the soldier. “Looks like you’re having a tough time with that knife.” He threw the hatchet to the boy’s feet, where it sunk in the snow.

The soldier fished it out and began chopping at the base of his own small Tannenbaum, never taking his eyes off Joe. A couple of times Joe thought the guy might hack his foot off but the tree finally came loose of the trunk.

Joe walked over to him and the soldier immediately had his rifle up and aimed. The snow began to fall again, small flakes resting on the boy’s long lashes. How old was he? Fifteen? Sixteen? Old enough and nervous enough to kill, he guessed.

The boy tried to hand the hatchet back to Joe, but Joe shook his head.

“You keep it, Hans. You need it more than I do.”

Joe went back to the stump and picked up his rifle and the Christmas tree. He had walked away a few steps when the boy soldier said, “Frohliche Weihnachten.”

Joe smiled, turned, then saluted lazily to him. “Merry Christmas to you too, buddy.”


Get your copy of Death’s Twisted Tales here:

Amazon | Kindle


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Welcome Michael Hebler

Join me in welcoming Michael Hebler to Highlighted Author.


Michael Hebler recently became an author alongside building a successful career in feature film publicity, but his passion to create stories with suspense, laughter, and heart is not his only love. He also volunteers his time weekly for charities in his local area including Meals on Wheels, and abets for animal rights by aiding in the CSNR (capture/spay/neuter/release) program.

To date, Michael’s publications include, “Night of the Chupacabra,” (Chupacabra Series #1), and his first publication, “The Night After Christmas,” a holiday picture book for believers of any age. He also authored the micro story, “Hunt for the Chupacabra,” preceding the events of book one.

His third Chupacabra Series title, “Legend of the Chupacabra”, is currently being prepared for a 2014 release while he is hard at work writing book four.

“Curse of the Chupacabra” is number two in the series and he’s with us this week to tell us about  it.

Details on how to get book one, “Night of the Chupacabra,” free are below, so read on!





Curse of the Chupacabra

Chupacabra series, book two

The second Chupacabra novel is a ‘curse’.


On September 10, 2013 fiction writer Michael Hebler, releases book two of the Chupacabra Series, “Curse of the Chupacabra,” which follows the survivors of the Dillmore Valley massacre as they journey northwest for a fresh start, despite the looming terror that awaits around every turn.

Synopsis: They never thought their luck would be their curse. In the months following the onslaught, the extraordinary survivors continue to know no peace, as they are haunted by signs that the relentless creature remains on their trail. However, this fight will be better matched, now that they’ve discovered an advantage that will help protect them from the monster’s bloodthirsty lust. But once faced with the decision to kill the beast, the choice will not come lightly since it is still unclear which loved one the chupacabra possesses.

“Curse of the Chupacabra” stretches beyond the claustrophobic world of volume one’s single town setting as the creature’s victims inadvertently lure the beast across the western states; not only becoming a road story soaked with blood and treachery, but a powerful chronicle of passage that exposes the consequences of not following the path of one’s own heart. “Curse of the Chupacabra” is a relentless feast of tragedy that examines the dangers awaiting those who might be kin to the most infamous abomination to walk this earth.

Since the release of book one, “Night of the Chupacabra,” in October 2012, reports and news of sightings of everyone’s favorite cryptozoological creature, el chupacabra, have continued to saturate the media, and “Curse of the Chupacabra” not only advances a storyline, but continues to feed a compulsive curiosity of the Latin-American sensation that has won the world over. “Regardless of the success of the first book, I’ve always had multiple stories planned,” states Hebler. “I’ve never had so many favorite characters in one story. I really love them; their relationships and dramas, the mythology behind the creature, as well as the action and horror. And there’s still many more exciting surprises to come throughout the six book series.”


Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads | Shelfari




Night of the Chupacabra

Chupacabra series, book one

Free for Three Days!

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In concordance with the release of book two in the Chupacabra Series, “Curse of the Chupacabra,” by fiction writer Michael Hebler, the series’ first novel, “Night of the Chupacabra,” will be made available free for e-book download on Kindle Readers and devices supporting Kindle Apps through from September 10 to September 12, 2013 only.

Once the free days for the e-book of “Night of the Chupacabra” are over on September 12, and beginning September 13, the digital edition will continue to show support for its successor “Curse of the Chupacabra” by dropping its price from $4.99 to $2.99.



Night of the Chupacabra


There is a creature that lurks in the vast open deserts of the west. It can only survive on blood and, although it prefers to prey on the weak and young, it will slaughter anyone or anything, once provoked. It is unnatural, deceptive, and difficult to kill. Word about the existence of this elusive beast has not spread since anyone who has crossed paths with it did not live long enough to tell of their account.

In the Chupacabra Series, a vampire-like, cryptozoological creature (which literally translates to “goat-sucker”) takes a supporting role to a cast of memorable characters who struggle to survive while finding their place in developing America. Currently slated for six books, the Chupacabra Series echoes strong family themes and the sacrifices required for that nature of love; and while some characters do survive long enough to make it through multiple novels, each volume will host a different protagonist to lead the reader through its continuing journey.



Want more Michael? Here’s where you can find him: