The Neighbor: Compilation 10/14/2022

Like a starburst sent from heaven
or maybe it was hell
He was a truculent insurgent
an old acquaintance, he’s as well.
He didn’t want the trouble
and was a cogent colleague yet
But a spooky set of morals
as bad a neighbor as you get.
He blacked out all his windows
and locked the doors while still inside
we couldn’t comprehend the sight
things intrusive he did hide
But screams came from the first floor
Moans floated from the attic vent
No one ever came back out
it’s just how his house went.

©2022 CBialczak Poetry

New Book: Inhuman Acts (Thriller)

We’re celebrating the release of page-turning thriller, Inhuman Acts by Brooke French! Read on for more details and don’t forget to try your luck at winning a $25 Amazon gift card!

Inhuman Acts

Publication Date: September 29th, 2022

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

A deadly, incurable disease creeps silent through Chattanooga. And its victims aren’t random.

When inexplicable human rabies cases appear in Tennessee, disease ecologist Letty Duquesne jumps at the chance to trace the virus back to its source. But the closer Letty gets to finding the outbreak’s origin, the further someone will go to stop her.

With an unwanted promotion threatening to take Letty far from the fieldwork she loves, this outbreak feels like her last chance to make a difference. It’s not something she can ignore, especially now. The spillover of zoonotic diseases to the human population is on the rise and violent animal attacks-like the one that killed her sister-are becoming all too common.

Something in nature has gone very wrong.

Local authorities would rather she go home, but Letty can track a source animal like no one else. With the help of disgraced detective Andrew Marsh, Letty follows the virus’s epidemiological trail. But her every move is watched. And the source animal is closer than she thinks.

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About the Author

Brooke French is a recovering lawyer turned writer who lives with her husband and sons between Atlanta and Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She spends most of her days gleefully researching and writing about fatal viruses, terrorism, and murder.

Brooke is likely on numerous watch lists 

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New Book: To Steal the Sun (Adult Fantasy/ Heist Fantasy/ POC/ LGBTQ2+ Representation)

Welcome to the official release of To Steal the Sun by S.M. Carter! Read on for details and grab yourself a copy of the book!

To Steal the Sun

Publication Date: October 11th, 2022

Genre: Adult Fantasy/ Heist Fantasy/ POC/ LGBTQ2+ Representation

3 DANGEROUS rogues. 2 nations at WAR. 1 IMPOSSIBLE heist. Ocean’s 11 meets Game of Thrones. From one of the creators of WARFRAME!


When Raik, the most cunning smuggler this side of the desert, finds where the Ivory King vaults his magical runes—he builds a crew to execute an elaborate heist.

Among them is Kahli Mahanta, a religious assassin with blind ambition. A young rogue, Kirin, with wit sharper than his arrows ought to be. And Amara, the so-called Nightspirit, whose raven-hair conceals even darker secrets.

It won’t be easy. They’re opposed by the curved blades of the magic-deranged, watched by a paranoid king, and hunted by gaunt beasts that click in the cold desert night… All the while discovering that trusting each other might be the most dangerous mission of all.

To Steal The Sun is a tale of unlikely heroes thrust together in a new refreshing fantasy. One cast in vibrant silks, fragrant spice, and the relentless glare of a radiant sun.

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As the sun bled out and shadows struggled to find their final depth, Kahli knocked on the door of a humble home. The clay building, like most in the northwestern city of Jharwada, seemed a crude shell to Kahli, having trained and prayed in the tent structures of the south.

From inside, a woman called out in a timid voice. “Hello?”

According to Kahli’s orders, this was a soft walk—innocents were not to be killed in the service of the Divine’s will. And so, Kahli Mahanta, Auxiliary Hand of the Divine, knocked louder.

The worn grey curtain covering the home’s only window slid open, revealing a lanky woman draped in a dark cotton servant’s wrap. She stared with sunken eyes. She looked twice Kahli’s age, but they were of similar height—which was crucial to the plan.

Kahli leaned out of the shadows, revealing the unveiled half of her face. She hoped it allowed the woman enough of a glance at her golden-brown skin and blond hair to mistake her for a newly arrived Tireenian servant. Kahli presented her left palm in a gesture of respect between equals and imitated a reassuring smile that touched her eyes above the veil.

The locks clicked open, and Kahli’s expression became genuine. A strong shoulder could splinter a doorframe well enough, but a smile did the Divine’s work in silence.

The woman opened the door, eyes wide. Kahli, not one to leave curiosity unsatisfied, stepped forward and struck the woman in the throat. The woman clutched her neck and gave a strangled cough as she collapsed back into her home. Kahli slipped in, a ghost in the night, closing the door and turning the locks.

Tears streamed from the servant’s eyes as she knelt on a fraying embroidered rug in the candlelit foyer of her home. She wheezed for air and tried to regain her footing.

Kahli adjusted her black veil, making sure its silk edges hid the scars covering the left side of her face.

“Sister, if y-you wish to meet the Divine, k-keep struggling,” Kahli said. She allowed a heartbeat for the threat to sink in, to let the servant understand her words through her accursed stutter.

“If, instead, y-you wish to endure the suffering of the living, c-close your mouth and remove your clothes.”

The woman obeyed.


An hour later, Kahli walked into the palatial residence of the high satrap of Jharwada, draped in the servant’s sarong. The disguise fit lengthwise, but her athletic build made it tight around her thighs and shoulders. Kahli took in shallow breaths and shortened her stride to compensate.

Skirting along the massive foyer, she tilted her head toward the shadows and moved to the wooden staircase at its far end. The room was remarkable compared to the plain design of every other structure in the city. Hanging vines covered the walls, and twisting trees wound up the stone columns. It was a strange mating of granite sculpture and plant life she’d seen only in the overgrown jungle ruins of Tireen.

At regular intervals throughout the room, candelabras burned saffron-scented wax. But the main illumination was moonlight, which stabbed through the glass-domed ceilings, highlighting the occupants within. In the center of the room, two veiled women in silk twirled in a traditional Jaru dance, accompanied by a plucked sarod and wavering flute. Men and women in lavish purples, yellows, and burgundies lounged on couches, watching the performance and sipping palm wine.

Kahli restrained a sneer. Divine-damned fools. Unfocused and soft. Pretending to appreciate the old religion’s art only to gain the favor of their high satrap, who was rumored to be a connoisseur of Jaru traditions.

Kahli’s life was pledged to the Kithkarnin Order. A pledge that changed after her scars and demotion, after Hayanna and the trial. But a pledge that remained strong. The Book of Kith said: A dedicated mind is the calm sea on which the Divine sails.

Keeping to the shadows and moving with light, brisk steps, Kahli reached the wooden staircase with its base so entwined in roots, it appeared to grow from the floor. The frame creaked as she ascended two steps at a time. The high satrap resided at the top. The letter from the First had been succinct and clear:

The High Satrap of Jharwada has fallen from the Ivory King’s graces. By his holy decree, she shall be ushered on a soft walk.

Her locket should be collected as an item of memorial.

This letter, from the highest-ranked assassin in the world, was a gift from the Divine.

Never had any Kithkarnin ranked outside the group of Primary Hands been given a target of the satrap’s importance. All Kahli wanted since her scarring and demotion, all she prayed for, was a chance to rise in the ranks.

And this was it.

Purchase a copy of To Steal the Sun Here!

About the Author

S.M. CARTER is an author and game developer.

As an author he has contributed to multiple comic anthologies and writes the ongoing graphic novel, AARDEHN, with artist Eric Vedder. As a game developer, he is credited as creative director of THE DARKNESS 2, and is one of the creators of the smash-hit game WARFRAME.
He lives in London, Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.
He once caught a fly with chopsticks.

S.M. Carter

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New Book: Division X (Supernatural Horror/ Lycanthropes)

Welcome to the cover reveal for August Hill’s novel, Division X! The perfect book to add to your October TBR!

Expected Publication Date: October 20th, 2022

Genre: Supernatural Horror/ Lycanthropes

Publisher: Brother Mockingbird

TW: 80’s slasher gore in chapter one.

Twenty-four years old, no job, and kicked out by her parents, Randi Matheson is living at her aunt and uncle’s trying her hardest to complete a novel she can’t seem to start when a carnivorous monster interrupts her middling life on a full moon night. Attacked during an ordinary family dinner, Randi’s relatives are murdered, and she is bitten by the beast. Surviving the slaughter, Randi returns home to her distressed family only to become a monster herself under the next full moon. Nearly devouring her younger brother, she is stopped by the intervention of Division X, a company devoted to the killing and capture of paranormal threats. She awakens in a containment cell the next morning to be given an ultimatum… work for them as a new weapon in the fight against evil or be dissected. A cure to her lycanthropy is promised along the way, and with real motivation to stay alive, Randi pushes herself to the brink to return to her normal life. Small town horrors lie in wait with even smaller heroes to stand against them. Can Randi save them and herself, or will everything crumble to the wills of evil?

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I’m not me when I kill people. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I wake up, and I know I’ve done something horrible. My hands are covered in blood, my clothes are gone, and my stomach feels full. I don’t remember what I did. All I remember is the pain. It’s impossible to forget.

It starts with the fur. It spreads like fire, melting me. My bones go next, shifting, changing, breaking. I always cry, always scream, but I can live with the pain. I can’t live with what comes next. Something takes control and pushes me into the dark. I sleep a dreamless sleep, and when I wake up, the nightmare begins.

I don’t know them, the people I’ve killed, the ones I’ve eaten. But I do know they weren’t all bad. I live with the pain because I deserve it.

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About the Author

After receiving an education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, August Hill started writing Division X, a supernatural horror filled with dark humor, adventure, and sinister creatures that leap off the pages.

His love for all things spooky and scary was unleashed when he discovered Jurassic Park at four years old and the R. L. Stine Goosebumps collection in elementary school. He holds a huge appreciation for 80’s horror and is partial to fun, dark, and witty ensemble casting with younger heroes. Some of his favorite influences include The Lost Boys, Aliens, Gremlins, and An American Werewolf in London to name a few.

Hill’s knack for writing fiction emerged at an early age when he wrote stories for his own enjoyment. He is a collector of horror films and is a board game enthusiast. When not writing, he can be found walking trails with his dog, enjoying movie nights with friends, spending time playing video games, and camping in Maine.

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New Book: The Abdication (Fantasy/ Supernatural)

Welcome to the book tour for fantasy novel The Abdication by Justin Newland! Read on for more info and enter the giveaway at the end! You could win a signed copy!

The Abdication 

Publication Date: July 4th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy/ Supernatural

Publisher: Matador

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.


The Missing Daughter (Chapter 3)

Tula followed Musa until he stopped at the entrance to an alley by the side of the market square. The rioters had dispersed. A man was lighting the wicker lanterns on cradles perched around the square, bringing light to the darkness and hope to despair. Near the Bell Tower, another man was handing out spades and brooms from the back of a donkey cart.

“Now, Miss,” Musa said. “I got to go find Rufus and then get to my post. But before that, I want to see you’re safe and well tonight.”

On her journey here, she had slept in many towns. In the absence of a deserted house, a stable or a barn, she would slide into a deserted soldier’s hut or, as a last resort, sleep curled up in a shop front. Tonight, she feared exposure in such a lawless, desperate place.

Warmed by his offer of help, she replied, “Thank you, Musa. I don’t have much money. Where can I stay tonight?”

“I wish I could help, Miss, I really do,” he said. “’Cos of the riot, all us guards got a double shift. And you shouldn’t be out at night, no, that’s not right at all, not a pretty, young girl like you.”

She blushed deeply and, to hide it, pretended to look for something in her knapsack.

“But look, you could try the Miners’ Inn. It’s cheap. It fits the bill. It’s just down here,” he added, pointing to the alley.

“Oh, Musa. Thank you so much. I’ll not forget your kindness.”

“I hope to see you again soon and now I’ll be takin’ my leave.”

“Until the next time,” she murmured.

“Oh, I’m already lookin’ forward to it. Keep safe out there, Miss Tula,” he said with a beguiling wink and marched off across the market square. She was impressed; he had even remembered her name.

The crows’ evening squawks seemed louder and their cries eerier than before. From around the corner, she caught the whiff of a vagabond. Another shuffled by her, his eyes shifty, his back hunched, his clothes tattered. She was a stranger in their eyes, as they were in hers. At the far end of the square, two guards were rounding up the strays.

Her quest to meet the angels in Unity had brought her this far and she was not going to abandon it. She refused to believe the prevailing dogma about the bridge devils. Despite that, Jevros’s death had chilled her to the bone. As had the shocking news that he had carried his dead child to his grave.

Tula was so near and yet so far from realising her dream. She shoved her hands in her pockets and found the bridge key. She had forgotten it was there. So, even at this late hour, she could sneak down the snake path, unlock the gate and skip over the bridge. She quivered at the prospect of passing the lowest point in the bridge arc from where Jevros had launched himself into the skies. Or had something launched him? Whatever had despatched Jevros might be waiting for her, lurking in the gloom, marauding amidst an airy expanse of nothing.

And Geb had said it was the doctor’s key. A dead man’s key. She banished that line of thought. Intending to return the key in the morning, she put it back in her pocket. Until she could cross the bridge – safely and preferably in daylight – she would stay in Topeth.

Stalking the market square was a sense of doom that chilled her to the bone. Her breathing was laboured, and the plaintive cries of the rioters resounded in her ears. The air was shot with the smell of vegetable matter thrown by the rioters. Some workers were sweeping up shards of glass and stones. Another group struggled by the light of a lantern to board up the broken windows. Guards cleaned up the rotten vegetables, cursing at the stench.

To one side of the square, a beacon was swinging in the late evening breeze, casting a gloom between the narrow walls of the alley. That was where Musa had pointed. She poked her nose down the alley. Goosebumps rose on her arms. Up ahead, two people flitted between the shadows. With her back to the wall, she edged through the darkness, trying to keep out of their sight. She had to be careful because her knapsack and swollen ankle would prevent a quick escape.

Two young men were shouting at another young man, who was cowering in the shadowy corner of a shop entrance.

“Stupid dolt, you’re the thickest boy in Topeth,” one of the young men cried, shaking his fist at the cornered lad, who hid his face behind his hands.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she confronted them.

“Hey, you lads! What do you think you’re doing?” She puffed out her chest. Or at least what little there was of it.

The two lurched at her. She backed against the alley wall. Nowhere else to go. No one around. Her heart thumped inside her chest. When she needed protection, where was Musa?

“Yeah? Who’s askin’?” one snarled.

“I am.” She mustered every shred of defiance.

“What you gonna do about it, little cub?” said the other. He was the same young man who had led the mob in the market square.

Despite trembling legs, she forced herself to stand tall. “Leave him alone.”

“What we gonna do with ’er, Taurus?” the first one asked.

Taurus snapped at his friend, “Shut it, will you? Now she knows me name.”

Her throat dried and her palms moistened. On her journey, she had encountered some awkward moments, but none as threatening as this.

“Get on with you!” she yelled.

They both stood stock still, mouths open.

She had them on the run. “I mean it,” she added, brandishing her walking stick.

“Oh, watch out, she’s got… a walking stick,” Taurus said. He sniggered, chuckled, and then doubled over, howling with laughter.

She hissed with fury and was about to give him a wallop when, opposite them, a door flung open, spilling a tranche of light into the alley. A group of men lurched out of an inn, howling, punching the air, singing a bawdy melody. Taurus and his mate were as surprised as she was. With their false courage punctured, the two of them ran off into the gathering dusk.

Turning the air blue with their song, the men lumbered down the alley, barely giving her, or the young men, a second glance. For probably the only time in her life, she mouthed a prayer of thanks to an unruly bunch of drunks.

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About the Author

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

Justin Newland

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