Amazing Monster Tales

Shannon Lawrence, Jeff Wood, and Rebecca Hodgkins did a fantastic job at last night’s reading from Monster Road Trip!

Our amazing authors, Shannon, Jeff, and Rebecca!

This was the 13th reading in the Denver Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Series, hosted by J.L. Forrest at BookBar.

Shannon opened by reading from her story “Tailgating,” which is about two women driving north on the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the women spots a strange animal following them in the trees on the side of the road—and if that wasn’t alarming enough, whoever is in the car behind them will not stop tailgaiting them no matter how fast or slow they drive. Inspiration for this story came from road trips Shannon took in the past where the gas stations were few and far between, and anything unusual seemed ominous on the long, isolated stretches of road on the Pacific coast.

Next up was Jeff, reading from “Exit Ramp.” Part of the inspiration for this story came from a hotel he stayed at last year in a very industrial area, where no matter what he did he couldn’t avoid the odd, cloying smells which reminded him of when he melted plastic army men as a child. No one asked Jeff why he melted his toys as a child, so perhaps that will be answered in a future story…

Rebecca’s “Wiggle-Wiggle, Shake-Shake” came next, and as usual she did a phenomenal job of reading. Rebecca and Jeff collaborated to set their stories in the same world, about 15-20 years apart, and it’s a very intriguing world. Is the refinery pumping things into or out of the ground? Why do some people in this part of the country have haint blue eyes? And what exactly is that flying in the night sky? Jeff says there are more stories coming, so maybe we’ll find out—and whatever is going on in this world, we’ve been assured there are lots and lots of tentacles.

Thanks to Shannon, Jeff, and Rebecca for participating in the reading, to our wonderful host J.L. Forrest for making the night extra fun, and to BookBar for hosting this reading series!

Authors, editors, and our host J.L. Forrest at the Monster Road Trip reading.

It Came Out of the Swamp,” by Ron Collins, takes us deep into the swamp. A young man heads to southern Georgia, determined to write a book about a supposed swamp monster that left a swath of destruction before being burned to a crisp by a flamethrower.

Was the monster real, or a legend? Had it really gone on a rampage and killed people, or was the whole story part of a corporate cover-up about bio-engineering, or dumping of radioactive waste?

One thing’s for sure—you can’t kill the swamp…

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About the Author

Ron Collins is an Amazon best-selling Dark Fantasy author who writes across the spectrum of speculative fiction.

His latest science fiction series, Stealing the Sun is available from Skyfox Publishing.

His fantasy series Saga of the God-Touched Mage reached #1 on Amazon’s bestselling dark fantasy list in the UK and #2 in the US. His short fiction has received a Writers of the Future prize and a CompuServe HOMer Award. His short story “The White Game” was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2016 Derringer Award.

He has contributed a hundred or so short stories to professional publications such as Analog, Asimov’s, and several other magazines and anthologies (including several editions of the Fiction River Anthology Series).

He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and has worked to develop avionics systems, electronics, and information technology before chucking it all to write full-time–which he now does from his home in the shadows of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

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Marcella, the queen of the bargain hunters, is surprised when she’s kicked out of a new thrift store in Rebecca M. Senese’s “Bargain Hunter.”

Not only is she annoyed, the store’s prices aren’t really bargains—and shoppers are beginning to disappear.

Marcella sneaks back in to the store for their special, after-hours sale, and finds out what’s really going on. To stop it, she has to strike the bargain of a lifetime.

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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Canada, Rebecca M. Senese survives the frigid blasts of winter and boiling steams of summer by weaving words of horror, mystery, science fiction and contemporary fantasy.

Garnering an Honorable Mention in “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” and nominated for numerous Aurora Awards, her work has appeared in Fiction River: Superpowers, Fiction River: Visions of the Apocalypse, Fiction River: Sparks, Fiction River: Recycled Pulp, Tesseracts 16: Parnassus Unbound, Imaginarium 2012, Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, TransVersions, Future Syndicate, and Storyteller, amongst others.

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In the Shade of the Slowboat Man,” by Dean Wesley Smith, is a touching tale about a vampire saying goodbye to her dying human lover.

This story, which was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, was nominated for a Nebula Award.

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About the Author

Considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction, USA Today bestselling writer, Dean Wesley Smith has published almost two hundred novels in forty years, and hundreds and hundreds of short stories across many genres.

At the moment he produces novels in four major series, including the time travel Thunder Mountain novels set in the old west, the galaxy-spanning Seeders Universe series, the urban fantasy Ghost of a Chance series, and the superhero series starring Poker Boy.

His monthly magazine called Smith’s Monthly, consisting of only his own fiction, premiered in October 2013 and is at issue #44, with over 70,000 words per issue, including a new and original novel every month.

During his career, Dean also wrote a couple dozen Star Trek novels, the only two original Men in Black novels, Spider-Man and X-Men novels, plus novels set in gaming and television worlds. Writing with his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch under the name Kathryn Wesley, they wrote the novel for the NBC miniseries The Tenth Kingdom and other books for Hallmark Hall of Fame movies.

He wrote novels under dozens of pen names in the worlds of comic books and movies, including novelizations of almost a dozen films, from The Final Fantasy to Steel to Rundown.

Dean also worked as a fiction editor off and on, starting at Pulphouse Publishing, then at VB Tech Journal, then Pocket Books, and now at WMG Publishing where he and Kristine Kathryn Rusch serve as executive editors for the acclaimed Fiction River anthology series.

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Ten-year-old Isidora finds a pair of odd-looking eggs on the beach in Sèphera Girón’s “Beach Comber.”

She takes them home to her mother, not realizing the creature who laid the eggs will soon come looking for them…

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About the Author

Sèphera Girón  is the award-winning author of over twenty published horror novels and dozens of short stories. She has stories in Dark Rainbow, Group Hex 1, Group Hex 2, Abandon, Creatures in Canada – A Darkling Around the World Anthology, The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias and more. She is working on the next book in her Witch Upon a Star erotic horror series from Riverdale Avenue Books. Sèphera is also the in-house astrologer for Romance Daily News and writes the weekly horoscope column. When Sèphera isn’t writing, she loves to act and can be spotted as a background performer in over twenty television shows and movies. Sèphera has roles in the horror movies Killer Rack and Slime City Massacre.

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Mark Leslie’s “The Ritual of the Drawing” is set in the small town of Birks Falls, where tradition is sacred, and the unwanted dregs of society are not a threat as long as the town has Mr. McNeal and the ritual of the drawing.

After all, under the proper circumstances, a vampire is a wonderful thing for a town to have.

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About the Author

Mark Leslie would be the first person to admit he’s still afraid of the monster under his bed, and he continues to channel that fear into most of his fiction. Mark’s dark fiction is often compared to “Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror” in terms of style, but he usually just adopts the term “horror” when describing the types of tales that he writes. He also writes non-fiction true ghost story tales.

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Lester, a research scientist with an egotistical, micro-managing boss, heads in to the office on a Saturday to look for his lost phone in Jamie Ferguson’s “Transmogrification.”

Not only does he find his phone, he also discovers the mysterious door in his laboratory that’s always locked is slightly ajar.

Scientists are curious, so of course Lester has to investigate…

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About the Author

Jamie focuses on getting into the minds and hearts of her characters, whether she’s writing about a saloon girl in the American West, a man who discovers the barista he’s in love with is a naïad, or a ghost who haunts the house she was killed in—even though that house no longer exists. Jamie lives in Colorado, and spends her free time in a futile quest to wear out her two border collies, since she hasn’t given in and gotten them their own herd of sheep.

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Monsters are very, very real in Steve Vernon’s “Neck Bolt Lynch Pin.”

They are, however, often misunderstood. Well-meaning people misinterpret behavior, misunderstand situations, and forget that as long as people believe in monsters, they will continue to exist.

Because a story, if told well and often enough, in time can grow a life of its own.

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About the Author

Steve is a writer and an oral tradition storyteller; he learned the storytelling tradition from his grandfather, and regularly tells stories to in-person audiences ranging from 5 to 5,000 spectators. He writes horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, and ghost stories, and specializes in the fine old art of booga-booga.

Think of Steve as that old dude at the campfire spinning out ghost stories and weird adventures and the grand epic saga of how Thud the Second stepped out of his cave with nothing more than a rock in his fist and slew the saber-tooth tiger.

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On a Dark Road to Nowhere,” by Marcelle Dubé, takes place on a winter night in the woods in the Yukon.

An alien ship landed in a clearing near Maggie’s house, and the creature has begun to explore the area.

What the thing wants isn’t clear, but what is clear is that it’s very, very dangerous.

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About the Author

Marcelle Dubé grew up near Montreal. After trying out a number of different provinces—not to mention Belgium—she settled in the Yukon, where people outnumber the carnivores, but not by much.

She writes science fiction, fantasy and mystery stories, and has 12 novels to her name. Her upcoming novel, Epidemic: An A’lle Chronicles Mystery, will be released in late 2018. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies.

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Karin’s boyfriend’s ex-lover refuses to go away in P. D. Cacek’s “The Bitch.”

And worse, the woman is smart and manipulative, managing to make other people feel sorry for her even though she’s harassing and stalking the couple.

Karin has to find a way to get the bitch out of her life, for good. But the other woman is full of surprises…

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About the Author

P. D. Cacek originally aspired to be an actress, but her dreams were dashed when, while playing Dinosaur Number 1 in her high school’s production of By the Skin of Our Teeth, she inadvertently crawled off the stage and landed in the orchestra pit. Dinosaur Number 1 died that night, but the experience put her on the significantly less perilous path of writing horror.
P. D. is the author of over 200 short stories, and has won both a World Fantasy Award and a Bram Stoker Award for her short fiction. She’s written five novels: Night Prayers, Canyons, Night Players, The Wind Caller, and The Selkie.

“Horror is an emotion, something that reaches past all the barriers and finds the one dark corner of our self-image that has not grown up. Horror doesn’t have to include dismemberments or gushing wounds or ancient demons dredged up by a new housing development. Anything, even a simple evening’s walk, can be horrific if you look at it the right way…and I do.”

Cacek’s novel Second Lives will be coming out from Flame Tree Publishing, April 2019.

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