Ben Monroe has spent most of his life in Northern California, where he lives in the East Bay Area with his wife and two children. He is the author of In the Belly of the Beast and Other Tales of Cthulhu Wars, the Seething, the graphic novel Planet Apocalypse, and short stories in several anthologies.
You can find more information about him and his work at www.benmonroe.com
“This here place? Worse than the backside of Hades.” ~ Hank Varney
First let me say, this here trip to Slagton weren’t my idea. This place is chock full of bad company done helped itself to a double dose of bad medicine.
Slagton needs cleanin’, accordin’ to Miss Clem, and I know the crew to do it. I’m one of ’em. Hank Varney’s the name. Miss Clem and me, along with the two Sidewinders from Santa Fe—we’ll get the sharp-toothed vermin cleared out.
Now, some people say I’m lucky, but I don’t know if’n it’ll do me any good, what with the army of trouble me an’ the crew are facin’. If’n we don’t live through it, well, there goes Deadwood. Maybe even the whole of the Black Hills.
We’ll all be down the privy hole then, lookin’ up at the Backside of Hades.
“A Fantastic new series you will Love’”by Enchanted
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from a visit to the past world of the Deadwood Violet Parker lives in. I am amazed at how real it feels!. Will definitely read more!!!,” by LisaReadsALot
Other Books in The Series:
There was a lot to love about the book. The characters are deep and interesting. The authors do a great job of giving the story an authentic wild west feel. The pacing was good and kept me turning the page_ Markus Matthews
I guess I’m hooked on Ann Charles books, especially her Deadwood series. They’re quick reads, about 300 pgs but with murder mystery, romance, paranormal situations and comedy, interesting eccentric characters… they’ve got it all _ Polly Picklez
Like Paranormal, Western, Mysteries or a mix containing all of them, you’ll like this book. Western comes first with 2 guys riding into old Deadwood circa early mining days. Supernatural strikes next with a nasty critter. Mystery unfolds as the expected person is missing. You will like this book as read alone, but you will love it if you read the series in order! Start with “Life at the Coffin Joint”, written by 2 of my favorite authors _ Morgue Rabbit
Sweet, touching and funny all the way through. I loved every moment! _ Black Hills Belle
About The Duo!
Ann Charles is a USA Today Best-Selling author who writes spicy, award-winning mysteries full of
Junction Mystery Series, Dig Site Mystery Series, Deadwood Undertaker Series (with her husband, Sam Lucky), and AC Silly Circus Mystery Series. Her Deadwood Mystery Series has won multiple national awards, including the Daphne du Maurier for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Ann has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Western Writers of America.
Sam Lucky likes to build things—from Jeep engines to Old West buildings to fun stories. When he is not writing, feeding his kids, attempting to seduce his wife, or attending the goldurn cats, he is planning food-based book signing/road trips with his wife and working on one of his many home-improvement projects.
It was a hot August day, and I was sitting on my back deck when, seemingly out of nowhere, I felt overwhelmed with emotions and heard a whisper, “stories to be told”. With a bit of an attitude, I thought, “Okay, if this is God, I’ve already shared my story. It was hard, but I did it. How often do I have to share?”
Again, a gentle whisper was felt; “stories to be told.” The scene before me, which was my backyard, turned into a black and white scene, as if it were an old movie reel. Within the scene was a young lady on her knees, sobbing. You could feel the emotion radiating out of what I was seeing. It lasted a second, but I knew who the person was and what the reminder was. Years ago, the young woman was me crying out to the God I told myself I didn’t believe in.
I knew then what the message was. Stories, as in many stories, needed to be told. So I reached out to a few ladies I knew and asked if they’d like to participate in an anthology I was considering putting together. They said yes. I reached out to a few more ladies, and they said yes. I soon had 20 women who wanted to share their stories of Grace. But it didn’t stop there. More women reached out, and I soon realized this would be more than one book. It turned into a 3-book series, with all three published within 12 months. As time went on, another nudge was received: to share Hope and my newest release, When Hope Found Me was born.
Has writing them given you a new perspective or mission or aided you in some way?
Oh, my yes. Once this journey of coordinating anthologies began, I realized that there is so much darkness and negativity in the world on TV, radio, social media, and within neighborhoods and communities. Seeing and hearing about negative things each day becomes tiring and emotionally draining.
God again nudged me to share, and the word Hope showed up.
The word Hope had been showing up everywhere for weeks at the end of 2021. Finally, I realized that I was to do something with that word.
I bought some inspirational cards, just the small kind, and began leaving them in random places in stores when I would be out and about. You know the kind, “You are amazing!”, “You are awesome!”. But I felt that I needed to do something else. Something more personal.
I then went online and found polished stones with the word Hope engraved on them. So I thought, “Okay, here we go. I’ll call them Nuggets of Hope!”
So now, I carry a few of those Nuggets of Hope wherever I go, and when I feel a nudge to approach someone, I’ll walk up to the person and quietly say, “I’ve got a small gift for you, a nugget of hope.” And I’ll place it in their hand, wish them a blessed day and be on my way. I don’t feel I am to talk with them but to hand them a small nugget of Hope and be on my way.
That is now a part of my mission, choosing to sprinkle Hope like confetti. One nugget of Hope at a time.
How else do you spread your words and experiences?
Over the past few years, I have started a podcast called Let Fear Bounce. It is an interview-style show where I have guests from all over the world and from different walks of life share their journey, be it writing, teaching, coaching, or simply having an amazing story or experience to share. I feel blessed to be able to provide a platform for others to share their nuggets of Hope.
What message do you have for your readers?
I hope they feel a spark of something when they read through any of the books. Maybe it will be inspiration or admiration. Perhaps it will be motivation to change something for the better in their own life. Or maybe the stories will spark something inside and provide them a bit of hope; for themselves, humanity, and their family, whatever the case may be. I want readers to FEEL and know that there is hope, goodness, and kindness in the world.
Do you think there are enough resources for sufferers of PTSD?
If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, even five years ago, I would say no.
I prefer to steer clear of the word “suffer.” For me, I choose to say, “live with PTSD.” Because you do, your experience has played a big part in who you are and who you will become. Living with PTSD is a part of you, and you of it. It’s a significant life experience. It is all in how you face and deal with it that matters.
Is it easy? No. Is it worth facing and finding safe and healthy ways to live with it? Yes. Because then you can turn that into a message to help others.
Are there enough resources out there to help all of those who live with PTSD? Maybe not, but great strides have been made. Over the years, I have seen many new programs, counselors, and assistance available, especially for women. I believe that more will become available in the future.
When you began writing, what was the hardest part?
The most difficult part of the process was being authentic. What I mean by that is sharing the whole story. Not just bits and pieces worded in a particular way so as not to make the reader uncomfortable.
I realized that I just needed to be open and honest. Share what was on my heart and share that in a way that was true to me, and hopefully, those who read my words will feel something.
Where is your favorite place to write?
It turns out my dining room table is the place where I typically write. Not sure why; it is just where I end up. I have my days, though, that on a beautiful summer day, I’ll haul my laptop outside and let nature speak to me, and I let words flow.
Do you have plans for future books?
Indeed I do! I have two books I am currently working on. We’ll see where they take me. There are always stories to be write and words to share that inspire!
What does the word ‘rescue’ mean to you?
Being pulled from the darkness. A place where you feel lost and unable to see or feel joy or light. When a person, a book, a song, or a pet provides a spark of light. That small light enters into your darkness, and you lift your eyes. That is a rescue to me. So many rescuers out there aren’t aware of what they have provided. How blessed we are that they exist!
Kim is a multi-published author, writer, podcast host of Let Fear Bounce, and TV show host of The Write Stuff, The Authors Voice with the Believe In Your Dreams TV Network.
In addition, she is an active speaker sharing her story of being a female veteran living with PTSD and spreading a message of Hope. She regularly speaks for local veteran and women’s organizations in her hometown area and across numerous global organizations.
She has been writing and speaking with empathy and emotion since 2004 showcasing her faith, nature, love of rescue animals, and advocacy for veterans living with PTSD. She showcases her writing through her books, business, and website; www.kimlenglingauthor.com.
She is the lead author and coordinator of a collaborative 3-book anthology series titled When Grace Found Me. In addition, she is a published co-author in seven anthologies and numerous print and online global newspapers and magazines.
Kim sees each day as an opportunity to spread hope and encouragement, for, without hope, life would be a dark place.
“The world can be a dark place. So I choose to toss nuggets of hope out into the world like confetti; little sparks of light in the darkness.”
What drew you to horror and paranormal themes in your stories?
The main reason is that horror is so fun to write! Remember telling ghost stories at slumber parties to spook your friends, until you’re all squealing with fear and laughter and don’t want to go to the bathroom alone? It’s an adventure! Horror gets the adrenaline pumping and the nerves tingling, and I love trying to craft a story that does that for others.
Secondly, I’m a catastrophic thinker. Probably because I’m a mom, but we can’t go anywhere without me thinking, “Okay, what’s the worst thing that could happen here? How could we all die?” I’ve tried to write other genres but that type of thinking turns a sweet romantic scene into an axe-murderer horror.
Thirdly, I find that Horror provides us with the ability to explore and process real-life trauma whether in a monster-as-metaphor sense or just through actual real-life scenarios. I think that’s the beauty of the genre for me.
2. Are there elements you feel are required in this genre?
Anticipation. Survival. Mystery.
No matter what the threat is—supernatural, alien, slasher—the reader needs to feel a sense of anticipation. Suspense needs to build scene after scene.
There also needs to be real stakes. People could die, vanish into the void, etc. Horror isn’t scary if nothing bad actually happens to people.
We also fear what we don’t know, so there needs to be a sense of mystery about the threat and the events taking place. That’s actually one of the hardest parts of reading or writing horror. In the ending, when the monster becomes known, it can feel like a bit of a letdown. Once we know what we face, it’s not quite as scary. Michael wears a mask for a reason.
3. Where do you find your ideas?
I spent my teen years in a small town that, like most small towns, was full of urban legends and ghosts. Probably because there wasn’t much to do there but go out into the boonies and scare ourselves. A lot of my writing is based on those stories and experiences, just in a very exaggerated way.
I’m also a total fraidy-cat. Driving down the road at night, I can get freaked out by something on the side of the road only for it be an electrical box. Moments like that will wind up in a story, though it won’t be an electrical box in the end!
4. Why is Halloween so special to you?
My daughter and I were talking about this just the other day and she said it’s her favorite holiday because you never outgrow the magic of Halloween. Which is very true! We all outgrow Santa, Easter is a drag after a few years, but no matter what age you are, spooks and haunts and killers can still scare you. And there’s just something in the air at fall! A spooky, creepy feeling in the change of weather and the crackling of leaves and the days getting shorter. The world feels different, like anything could happen. It’s a good time to light some candles, watch a scary movie, and cuddle up at home.
5. Can you tell us a little about The Prisoner of Stewartville – its inception and creation.
My mom started a job in HR for the Federal prisons here in Arizona when I was twelve. Soon after, we attended a Company Day picnic at the actual prison, and I’ll never forget how weird it was to be barbecuing hot dogs and playing tag while prisoners walked along the perimeter of the fence twenty yards away. Little pitchers also have big ears and over time I picked up on bits and pieces of work conversations that were horrifying. Later we moved to a much smaller town where prison did feel like a larger part of our everyday life and when I visited there again a few years ago, I just knew I had to write about it. Of course, the actual town was nowhere near as bad as Stewartville, but that’s the fun of horror!
6. Where is your special writing space?
I write on my phone, so anywhere and everywhere. On the couch while we watch TV, in bed, out on the patio, while I’m waiting in the school pick up line. In the middle of cooking, if a great idea for a scene comes to me.
7. Which authors have influenced you the most?
Oh wow, so many. The other day my husband and I actually stumbled on the movie Communion with Christopher Walken and almost simultaneously we both freaked out, like, “Omigod! I remember reading that book as a kid! It was terrifying!” And then we had a long conversation about the books we had to hide when we went to bed like Amityville Horror, It.
Having read all my life, the list went back a long way. I mean, my writing is still influenced by the Sweet Valley Twins Halloween specials I read as a kid. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, R.L Stine’s Fear Street. Stephen King. One of my absolute favorite literary ghost stories is Toni Morrison’s Beloved and I do hope my stories have some of that literary element to where reality can feel just as impactful as the supernatural.
That’s the great thing about good horror, though. It all influences you.
8. Are you working on a new project? Can you reveal anything about it?
I’m currently working on a companion novel to Prisoners of Stewartville. I can reveal that the POV is that of a minor character in the last book, and that we’ll see what happened to a fan favorite whose fate wasn’t shown at the end of the original.
9. Do you prefer to write a stand-a-lone novel or a series? Why?
I realized recently that I like to tell stories that happen within the Stewartville universe. Devil’s Dip, a short story of mine that appeared in Midnight in the Graveyard anthology, was about a character who had grown up in Stewartville, though the story itself didn’t take place there.
10. How can readers find you?
I’m not as good about social media as I should be, but I do post occasionally on Twitter at @ShannonNova3 !
Shannon Felton lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, their four children, and three dogs. The Prisoners of Stewartville is her debut novella. Follow her on Twitter @ShannonNova3
P.S. You can find Shannon’s stories in several anthologies as well.
. What affect has your extensive travel made to your writing?
. A large part of my adult life has been spent overseas, and that of course informs my writing. Both my books have international settings, and I feel comfortable writing about international affairs.
· When did you begin your hiking adventures?
I am not a hiker normally, and I didn’t really train to hike the Camino de Santiago. Still, I had no problem doing the long-distance walking; I just didn’t love it. I set off from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France on May 3, 2016.
· What made you want to write your book Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike?
In my early 20s, I read James Mitchener’s book Iberia. In it, his last chapter is on the Camino de Santiago. So, in about 1972, I put traveling the Camino de Santiago on my “someday” travel list. I just didn’t know that “someday” would take 45 years.
· Do you have a message within the hiking narrative for your readers?
Yes, I do have a message, and it makes me a heretic as far as many Camino purists are concerned. A culture has grown up around the Camino that if one doesn’t walk every step one is not a “true” pilgrim. I totally disagree with that philosophy, as the subtitle of my book announces. I think the pilgrimage aspects of the book are much more important than how the journey is accomplished. My mother and handicapped sister made a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1956, and my sister walked essentially no steps, yet that was a true pilgrimage. Some people get spiritual thoughts while walking; I don’t. I have those thoughts in cathedrals and while gazing in amazement at incredible architecture and art.
· Has the access to nature impacted your life?
Very much so. I grew up in the country and was active in 4-H through my teen years. I rode horses and showed livestock (cattle, sheep, horses) competitively. As an adult, I have been largely divorced from that closeness to animals and nature due to my job. Being on the Camino gave me time to slow down, look at the wild flowers along the way, see the birds twittering in the trees. I loved that part of walking the Camino.
· How did writing the hiking book differ from your process for your short story collections and the children’s book?
I don’t think my book is a hiking book. It is a pilgrimage book and a book about the history, art, and architecture of the Camino. It is most suited to those who are thinking of journeying on the Camino since it offers suggestions and tips, including a list of questions to help readers determine if walking the Camino is really what they want to do. It also is suited for those who will never walk the Camino but who want to be “armchair travelers” as they read my memoir passages about my experiences along the Camino.
· Is adoption a subject close to your heart and the reason you wrote your children’s book?
Yes, it is. When I adopted my son back in 1992, I looked for a book I could read to him about being adopted. I couldn’t find anything suitable. During the pandemic, I couldn’t travel and so couldn’t work on my planned next book. More or less on a whim I looked on Amazon to find out what was available for children on adoption. Amazingly to me, there are very few books on the subject for children, and most of those books are limited in what they cover. For example, the books only focus on the adopting mother and the adopted child, whereas in reality many, many more people are involved in an adoption. So, I decided to write a book that adopting families could use to talk to their child about being adopted.
· Do you consider yourself a nomad rather than a homebody?
I consider myself not a nomad, but a citizen of the world. To quote St. Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Having said that, I am an introvert, and I am quite content to be alone and read a book—I just like to read that book while seated at a café in Lisbon or Santiago de Compostela.
· What are you writing now?
I have two projects underway. One is a second book about the Camino, and the other is a family memoir. My family, for a lot of reasons, is not a typical American family, and I think readers would enjoy learning about our history.
· Where can readers find you and your books?
My books are available on Amazon. Savoring the Camino de Santiago is available in four formats: hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is also available from Amazon in hardback, paperback, and ebook. Readers can also order my books from my website, Bayou City Press.com, or from their local bookstores. As for me, readers can contact me through either of my websites, BayouCityPress.com or JulieConnorAuthor.com
Julie Gianelloni Connor is an award-winning author and retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Her first book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, not the Hike, garnered no. 1 status on Amazon in both the category for new books on hiking and walking and the category for Spain and Portugal. It subsequently went on to win a silver medal in the eLit national competition as well as being selected as a finalist by Self-Publishing Review (SPR). She released her second title, a children’s book, in 2021. It has just won first place in the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tells an international adoption story. Her short stories have appeared in four anthologies. Julie is the owner and publisher of Bayou City Press (BCP) in Houston, Texas, which focuses on travel writing, Houston, history, and international affairs. Julie writes a weekly newsletter for BCP updating subscribers about activities. She founded BCP after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of matters, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to narcotics control to women’s issues. She has one son, James, and two cats, Halloween and Charles Augustus V. Her books can be ordered from her publishing website (BayouCityPress.com), from her author website (JulieConnorAuthor.com), or from Amazon.com.