Christmas Lites VI

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Hooray!

Christmas Lites VI is out!

For those who are not aware, the wonderful Christmas Lites series are charity anthologies released every year to help raise money for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I have been privileged to be a part of these books since Christmas Lites III, and I have a story in this year’s book as well, called Fate and Faerie.

Here’s a look at the book:

Christmas Lites VI

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Cthulhu wants to wish you a Merry Christmas. The Fae sprinkle their fairy dust to ensure your light never fades. Assassins and adventures alike keep the spirit of life alive. Even the mob brings their family to the dinner table for glorious feasts.

Feel  the magic of the season, the spirit of giving, the love of friends and family.

Discover bright new worlds, blood-pumping adventures,  true love and heartbreak as you explore the stories inside these covers.

For the sixth year in a row, authors from all over the world combined their efforts and talents to create the anthology in your hands. Not for fame or fortune, but to help those in need. Every dime raised from this anthology goes straight to those who provide the assistance to these people. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been helping in ways we can never imagine for years, and we are happy to help support their efforts.

Please visit their website at www.ncadv.org  for more information.

LIST OF AUTHORS:

(In order of appearance)

D.T. Dyllin

Fiona Renton

JG Faherty

Angela Yuriko Smith

Monica La Porta

Ottilie Weber

Patrick Pothier

Cassie McCown

Karen Cutler Drecktrah

Anna McCown

Annabelle Kristufek

Brandon Eye

Marcus Edwards

Kiara Ehsani

Zoe Baker

Brett Talley

A. F. Stewart

Phil Cantrill

Lora Christine

Vered Ehsani

Tricia Kristufek

Frank Smith

Misty Baker

Simon Huntley

Amy Huntley

Christmas Lites VI is available at Amazon

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And now for a bit about my story. Fate and Faerie is a tale about Cyna, a faerie who stops a human from being attacked by wolves and finds herself granted her most desperate wish: Revenge against the Snow Queen.

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So check out the book, and be sure to check out the other books in the series.

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A Halloween Story: The Ghost Tree

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The Ghost Tree

Shall I tell you a story?
Such an inconsequential story, in the grand scheme of universal things, but still quite important to some.
To those that died.
This story has many beginnings, the very first happened a century or two past (or perhaps three, it’s hard to keep track sometimes), the latest only a year ago on a blustery October day.
I remember that day very well (I wasn’t there at the very beginning, though the tale has been told to me).
Evening dusk had settled in, brushing the edges of sunset, and letting the shadows come out to play. I was where I always am. By the oak tree on the hill. I recall staring up, at one crimson leaf clinging to a branch high in the otherwise barren tree. The leaf swayed in the breezy northeast wind, defying the inevitable until it too drifted downward to join its fellows on the cold ground. One more decaying piece of vegetation in the colorful patchwork shroud beneath my tree.
I laughed when the breeze swirled the leaves; a crinkle and crunch sound sailing on whispered air. Around the tree trunk the gust circled, a dance of dead foliage in its wake, streaks of scarlet, lemon and carroty orange fluttering like a procession. It soared to the sky and showered mouldering colours to settle once more to the earth.
It was a beautiful moment.
A rare moment for me.
It didn’t last.
For a pair of happy lovers interrupted the quiet. I knew the pair, seen them often, here underneath the tree. A handsome young lawyer and his pretty mistress. Her face held such a radiant smile, so sweet, so beautiful.
Until the very instant he slit her throat.
Her bones are buried in the nearby woods. Her mother stills cries at night for her lost daughter.
But she’s with us now. A wandering spirit, waiting.
One of the Ghosts of the Oak Tree.
That’s what we call ourselves. Rather silly, but accurate. For this is where the murdered dead come… after. We all end here, every slain, pitiful spectre in the area. Summoned here… by something.
All the local lost souls come to the tree.
Rain says it’s because of the massacre that happened on the hill. Because of the innocent blood that soaked into the ground. It stained the tree she told me, gave it power. I’m not certain if I believe that, but she knows more of it than I do. She and her people were the first to die. The first story.
But there won’t be a story this year.
That poor smiling girl was the final soul we needed
We’re strong enough now.
We are legion.
And we know all the wicked secrets.
The dead are coming home.
For vengeance.

And as an added bonus, here’s a Halloween Reading from Horror Haiku and Other Poems.

Happy Halloween!

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Updates and Events

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I have some quick writing news and the lowdown about an online event I’m participating in this weekend.

First the news. I have a story appearing in the upcoming issue of The Sirens Call eZine – Issue 28 Terrifying Tales. I’m especially fond of this dark tale, called Arthur’s World, and I hope you check it out later this month when the ezine is published.  I’ll share a link when it drops.

I also have a story still in the running for the upcoming Occult Detective Quarterly magazine. Fingers-crossed for that one, but the competition is tough.

Now for the event.

This weekend, August 12th-14th the wacky fun of the Efestival of Words is taking place! And I am participating again this year.

My events happen on Saturday, August 13th.

At Noon EDT, I’ll be one of the writers in the Build a Story Twitter Challenge panel, where you can watch a crazy multi-author story unfold one tweet-length piece at a time.

And then later that day I’ll be appearing for a 30 minute Q&A session at 4:00 PM EDT.

So please pop over and join the delightful mayhem.

Here’s where you can find the full schedule: The Efestival of Words Schedule of Events

 

 

 

 

The Highwayman – #B2BCYCON Story Hop

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Welcome to the Brain to Books Cyber Convention Story Hop. My contribution to this literary excursion through the blogosphere is a small paranormal tale called, The Highwayman

 

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The Highwayman

by A. F. Stewart

 

Sorley hefted the fat purse he lifted off the poor fool asking for directions. The hapless man hailed him at the crossroads, and never felt Sorley’s nimble fingers deprive of his money. Nor did he suspect Sorley’s generous help steered him down the wrong road.

“Serves the Sassenach right. With any luck he’ll end in a bog.” Sorley chuckled. “His coin will do me more good at any rate.”

He tucked the money purse into his coat pocket and started back down the road towards home, whistling his mother’s favourite tune. As he strolled, he smiled at thought of spending his ill-gotten gains.

Maybe I’ll buy Caitriona those hair ribbons she admired. Or Mairi some of those sweets she enjoys. Or a new coat for myself.

Lost in his dreams of gifts and grandeur, he almost missed the sound drifting from the river. Past the bend in the road came a quiet song, a soft and somber lilt, flowing from the water’s edge. Sorley turned his head.

The sight he beheld caused him to stay his travels and stare. On the sandy riverbank, a smallish old woman—dressed in a sea green cloak—squatted, her gnarled fingers hard at work doing her washing. The air around her seemed to tremble and shimmer as if bewitched. Sorley responded in kind with an agitated shiver, though no wind blew and the day was warm. He moved off the road, closer to the river.

The old woman twisted her head and gaped at him, her face a withered reflection of age and decay. Another shiver chased up Sorley’s spine.

“Come to gawk at an old crone, have you?”

“Just curious, old woman.” Her dark, piercing eyes made him uncomfortable, so he looked away, glancing at her laundry. The mess of gray, stained cloth did not put his mind at ease, but he blustered past his disquiet. “But I’d give it up if I were you. That cloth of yours has seen better days. You’ll need more than a good scrub to clean it.”

“That it has, and you’re right. Its day is coming soon.” She smiled, a crooked grin of missing teeth.

Sorley shook his head. His mind seemed improbably mesmerized. “You’re an odd old thing, aren’t you?”

“That I am, full of strange ways.” She shifted her stance, crouching on one knee and hunching her shoulders. “But I have things to say, and you should listen to me.”

“And why is that?” Sorley smiled, now highly amused at her impudence. “What ancient wisdom to you have to offer?”

“Just one small pearl.” She chuckled. “We can’t escape our fate, young man.”

“That’s it?” Disappointment crossed Sorley’s face. “A bit of superstitious nonsense. I was hoping for better, old woman, than tired and useless banality. Fate is for fools. There’s nothing controlling my destiny. I make my own way.”

The old woman stuck out her tongue, and then giggled. “So sure of yourself, you are. Would it surprise you that I agreed? Our actions do determine our fate. Yet…” She smiled another gapped-toothed grin. “We each walk the same path.”

“More nonsense wrapped in daft riddles.” Irritation crept into his tone, with the thought she mocked him. His attention flickered back to the road. “As delightful as this chat has been, I haven’t the time. Good luck with your washing and your drivel, old woman. I’m off.”

“Farewell, Sorley. We’ll meet again soon.”

Sorley sniffed and gave a shrug, dismissing the old woman as he walked on. Only a mile or so down the road did her use of his given name sink into his head. He stopped, and stared back over his shoulder.

“I didn’t tell her my name. I know I didn’t. How did she know?”

His skin prickled, and unease crept into his thoughts, but he pushed the whole encounter into the back recesses of his memory. He continued towards home.

~*~

Nevertheless, the encounter still bothered him. Two nights later, in a seedy tavern, he spoke of it to three friends, Alan, Rab and Graham, as they sat around the card table

“The other day I saw something odd on the way home.” Sorley casually threw the remark, and his move, into the game.

Alan smirked and played his turn. “Do tell.”

“There was a daft old woman down by the river, washing clothes. Isn’t that peculiar?”

“Oh.” Rab glanced up from his hesitation over the cards. “Oh my. I hope it wasn’t the Washer at the Ford.”

“The what?” Sorley frowned.

“It’s some legend, isn’t it?” Alan’s voice interrupted. “See the old woman, and someone you know will die.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of that.” Graham chimed in, “But I thought the person who saw her was the one to die.”

“It’s both actually,” Rab corrected, “She’s a harbinger of death, but who will die only time will tell.”

“Nonsense. She a figment of foolishness. Silly superstition.” Sorley dismissed his friends, but his earlier unease prickled under his skin. “Things like that don’t exist. It’s all just the prattle of fools.”

“You’re probably right, all this talk is a bit silly.” Alan chuckled. “Perhaps someone was playing a prank.” He threw down a card, a grin plastered on his face. “Still, it might be best to avoid cuckolding any husbands for a bit. To be on the safe side.” His trio of friends roared in laughter and Sorley scowled at them.

“If you’re done amusing yourselves at my expense, can we get back to the game?”

And with that, the group spun their attention back to the cards, the conversation fading into ale and the wee hours.

~*~

On the precipice of dusk, Sorley crouched in the woods at the edge of the road, awaiting the carriage of a well-heeled landowner. He heard the rumble of the wheels, and saw the dust in the distance. With one last adjustment to his mask, he raised his pistols and stepped out into the road.

“Halt!” Sorley shouted the command with the roar of a beast, grinning wickedly. He aimed both pistols at the approaching carriage.

The driver, faced with the choice of stopping or running Sorley down, chose to stop. Then he snatched a gun from the adjacent seat. Sorley didn’t hesitate, firing a shot into the man’s chest. The driver slumped, his weapon clattering usually onto the floorboards.

Sorley dashed forward, his heart pumping, and hopped onto the carriage to check on his victim. Satisfied he was dead, Sorley jumped to the ground, still facing the coach. Then came the click of the carriage door opening.

“Damnable highwaymen!”

Sorley whirled at the shout, his remaining weapon raised. He saw the flash of the other man’s pistol, and felt an agony pierce his abdomen. He stumbled, staring at the spreading stain on his shirt, the crimson colour darkly illuminated by the last rays of the sun. Pain screamed through his body as he collapsed onto the ground, his head slumped at an angle, his fingers dropping his useless guns.

Gasping raw and laboured, his blood pooling in the dirt, he saw the old woman standing by the side of the road.

“I told you young man. You can’t escape your fate. Death comes for us all.”

Sorley breathed his last to the soft echoes of a tender, wailing lament.

 

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

All the stories in the Hop can be found here: The Story Hop

 

For more fun check out the Convention

And my booth, Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Fantasy and Horror Author A.F. Stewart

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Brain to Books Cyber Convention

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Welcome to the Brain to Books Cyber Convention!

It all begins tomorrow!

Starting Friday April 8th until Sunday April 10th, I’ll be participating in the wonderful Brain to Books Cyber Convention 2016, and there is such fun planned. You can find it all at my Author Booth come Friday, but here are the the highlights.

 

A rundown of  convention events  I’m participating in this weekend.

(Note: Some of these links will not be live until tomorrow)

-I’m one of the authors in the B2BCYCON Fantasy Blog Tour. The tour begins on Friday April 8th here:  http://www.angelabchrysler.com/brain-to-books-cyber-convention-fantasy-blog-tour

-I’ll be participating in two discussion panels, Introducing Steampunk (5 PM EST, April 8th), and Paranormal Fascination (7 PM EST, April 9th)

-I’m part of the Facebook Author Takeover – I take the spotlight on April 10th at 2 PM EST: https://www.facebook.com/events/1116006305110882/

-My villain Balthazar will be part of the Character Showdown

-Fairy Tale Fusion is entered in the Cover Wars: https://www.facebook.com/events/924740790949091/

-And an excerpt from Fairy Tale Fusion can be heard as part of the convention’s Story Time Tour  Go here to check out more of the Story Time Tour

-I’m part of the Story Hop, with a paranormal tale called The Highwayman (here on this website): https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18053739-the-story-hop-let-us-fire-your-imagination

 

And, oh yes, there are giveaways.

I have two books up for grabs in the B2B Convention’s Grand Giveaways:

Enter for a chance to win Killers and Demons II (plus other fantastic books)

And enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Colours of Poetry (along with other great books)

I also have my own Rafflecopter Giveaway going this weekend with three sets of ebook prizes to be won: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/p/blog-page_4.html

And I’ll also be giving away some bits and bobs and books during my Facebook Takeover spot April 10th!

 

In addition, I’ll be manning my Author Booth on Goodreads all weekend (along with a host of other talented authors), so stop by and chat.

 

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February 2016 WiHM issue of The Sirens Call eZine

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Story News!

The February 2016 WiHM issue of The Sirens Call eZine – Things That go Bump in the Night has been published! And guess which author has been included in the magazine. Yes, that would be be me, with many, many other fantastic female horror writers.

I have three drabbles (a story that’s exactly 100 words for those not in the know) included in the issue, plus I’m part of a collaborative interview with these fabulous ladies. You can check out all the great stories and features here:

February 2016 WiHM issue of The Sirens Call eZine – Things That go Bump in the Night

 

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