Coffin Hop Day 7: Brewing up Mayhem!

Three Witches Enhanced

dark Cave.  In the middle, a Caldron boiling.  Thunder.

Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH.   Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

2 WITCH.   Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.

3 WITCH.   Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!

1 WITCH.    Round about the caldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.—

Toad, that under cold stone,

Days and nights has thirty-one;

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

ALL.   Double, double toil and trouble;     Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH.   Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the caldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL.  Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

3 WITCH.   Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;

Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf

Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;

Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;

Liver of blaspheming Jew;

Gall of goat, and slips of yew

Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;

Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;

Finger of birth-strangled babe

Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—

Make the gruel thick and slab:

Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,

For the ingrediants of our caldron.

ALL.  Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH.  Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.

Let’s face it. Few people can cook it up like The Bard. The three witches at the opening of *whispers* MacBeth *normal voice* set the tone for a right proper horror play. I mean, c’m on, it’s *whispers* MacBeth *normal voice*.

Now, you may wonder why I whisper when I say *whispers* MacBeth. *normal voice*. *Whispers* MacBeth *normal voice* is to theater what illness is to Jewish people. Now, now, hear me out. There’s that wonderful scene from Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs when Eugene Morris Jerome (the main character) talks about how his family, when they speak of someone who is ill, will whisper the name of the illness lest, I dunno, God or the Devil hears them or something. Theater people don’t talk openly about *whispers* MacBeth *normal voice* just like they don’t call out, brightly, “Hey! Good luck!” I’m remembering this at the moment because we’re about to stage a Bob Hope USO Show that will benefit the USO and the Wounded Warrior Project. We’re doing a Duck Dynasty parody. I’m Miss Kay. If THAT doesn’t scare you, NOTHING else will. And, for the love of GOD, don’t wish me luck! Wish that I should “break a leg” or something … especially because my sons in the skit are 10 to 15 years older than me. There’s a trick.

I’m sure there’s a horror story in there somewhere….

So, back to horror and brews and spells and mayhem. Halloween is nearly upon us! I have figured out the Rafflecopter, so let’s see how it works! Congratulations to our previous winners, but this is one you’ll be DYING to win. Bwa ha ha! Get it? It’s Coffin Hop and you’ll be dy — . Sigh.

Prizes to help you brew up some mayhem (and snuggle back and enjoy the chaos)

Call of CthulhuLittlest Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu in hardbound form (upon release)

Death By Drive InCoffin Hop: Death By Drive-In in PAPERBACK

Green TeaA tin of Octavia’s Serene Green Tea

Tsimshian Designed Mugs

Winner’s choice of a Red or Black Tsimshian Designed Tea Infuser (that you can also make coffee in …)

wickedpostlg

A bag of Raven’s Brew Wicked Wolf Coffee (because we’re equal opportunity here)

Thanks for hoppin’ by! Coffin Hop continues!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Salt

Ah, and one last plug. SALT is now FREE on Amazon through Halloween!

Happy Alaska Day (and a Giveaway)

Happy Alaska Day 2

♫ Eight stars of gold on a field of blue –
Alaska’s flag. May it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes, and the flow’rs nearby;
The gold of the early sourdough’s dreams, The precious gold of the hills and streams;
The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
The “Bear” – the “Dipper” – and, shining high,
The great North Star with its steady light,
Over land and sea a beacon bright.
Alaska’s flag – to Alaskans dear,
The simple flag of a last frontier. ♫

~ Music: Elinor Dusenbury

Lyrics: Marie Drake

 

Happy Alaska Day!

On October 18, 1867, the United States took control of the Alaska Territory, which it had purchased from the Russians back on Seward’s Day (March 30, 1867) for a staggering 2¢ per acre. At the time, Seward was ridiculed and derided for wasting the government’s money on an ice chest of little importance. “Seward’s Folly” they called it. And, it’s not that the Russians were ignorant about the whole thing–it’s that they were realists. Think about 1867. The Crimean War was little more than 11 years behind them, the population of British Columbia was increasing, and Alexander II and his advisors figured (rightly) that any other conflict with the British would involve the loss of their American territories (i.e. Alaska) without compensation. And then there was the enormous debt to the Rothschilds… It was the perfect storm of suck in the international affairs sphere that allowed Seward to sweep in and make the case for the purchase. Still, politicians and popular support in the Lower 48 continued to ride against him. Good thing he was a stubborn son of a buck.

But, European involvement in The Great Land extends further back. Yes, the Russians were here, the Americans were here clandestinely and then properly with the purchase from the Russians, but there was another group here that not many realize were here: The Spanish. Did you think I was making all that up? I thought it was strange when we first moved to Craig that I looked out on Bucareli Bay and the island San Juan Bautista, that there’s Sumez Island, Núňez Rocks, and the Canal de Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Channel of Our Lady of Carmel) that people in the area might know as Clarence Strait. Bocas de Apodaca are the twin mouths of Moira and Cholmondeley Sounds, El Cap (the cave and all) is short for El Capitan, and San Christoval Channel (St. Christopher) is the channel that runs between San Fernando and Prince of Wales Islands. But it’s not so strange when you realize the Spanish were here in the late-1700s. But … do you know why they were here?

ThroughSpanishEyes

Because there are more demands on fiction to make sense more than real life, I found it necessary to figure out just what a group of monks were doing on the fictional San Angelo Island in the late-1700s. If you’ve read The Fishing Widow, you’re familiar with Josh Padgett’s story of The Reach. If not, please click up above and read it. I’ll wait. Okay, got it? Now, what you need to know is that there is an actual Deadman’s Reach. There is a similar story, similar but not too similar that happened among the Russians. If you drink Raven’s Brew Coffee, you’ll know the story from the packaging. Yes, the Russians were acting inappropriately, and yes, they were poisoned by shellfish (I’m pretty sure it was blue mussels in that instance, too), and yes, they tried to get away and made it to Deadman’s Reach where most of them succumbed to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. But, I digress. What were those (fictional) Spanish guys doing on (fictional) San Angelo Island way back when? Well, I’m writing a sequel of sorts, but in order to get to the sequel, you have to understand how it all started… And here is the why on the most basic of levels:

 ~~~~

“The King commands it,” he said without looking up, his dark eyes trained on the paper spread across his desk, his thick northern accent betraying the heritage of the Pyrenees. He thoughtfully dipped his quill in an inkwell and scratched at the paper. The silence within the ornate great room was palpable before he continued, “And as I am the King’s servant–”

“King Charles’ servant or de Godoy’s servant?” The brown-robed priest stood patiently across the desk. He shifted slightly on his feet, the movement not unnoticed by the finely dressed official.

The priest looked as the official had imagined, yet why he was to summon this priest specifically was something he could not imagine. The priest was tall, thin, clean-shaven with intensely dark, brown eyes and a face mapped with all his forty-five years had witnessed.

The light beyond the windows shifted restlessly though leaves shot through with the colors of autumn. The effect of the light dappled against the marble floor, diffused by the sheer draperies that hung motionless against the windows. Behind the official, a fire crackled and popped against the grate, warming the carved soapstone mantle graced with a coat of arms and threaded with what looked like leaves of ivy.

The official did not ostensibly look up at the priest. He kept his eyes trained diligently on his paper; the hand that held the quill stabbed at the ink well. The priest waited. He was not unused to his presence achieving such effect.

“He is the one,” de Godoy had insisted days earlier when the official, barely daring to raise the face he kept bowed, had been ordered into the royal presence.

The official had shot a sidelong glance at the Queen of Spain who sat, unmovable, as her lover paced the room. He quickly turned his gaze back to the floor. “One priest is the same as another, sir,” he had started.

De Godoy stopped pacing. “Then you know nothing of their Order. You will send for him,” de Godoy continued with a brisk nod, “and you will send him on.”

In the silent, dimly lit great room, the official hesitated, his quill twitching in irritation.  He glanced at the red robed Cardinal who sat, his hands folded serenely in his lap, in a chair behind the priest. “I endeavor to separate myself from those affairs of state.”

Father Michele Rodriquez’s lip twisted into a smile and he bowed his head quickly. “Of course,” he managed.

“Spain’s claim to the far north of the Pacific coast is far more ancient than these upstarts’,” the Cardinal cut across Father Rodriquez as if he had not spoken.

Father Michele cleared his throat before he turned and made a deep obeisance, keeping his head bowed. “His Eminence is referring to the papal bull of 1493.”

The official smiled in spite of himself, realizing his earlier pun had escaped him. “Forgive me, Father Rodriquez,” he said, gentling his voice as Father Rodriquez turned back toward him, “but with all the bother of the French and Napoleon and the coming war with Britain, can you blame their majesties for wanting to tighten their God-given grip beyond Europe?”

Father Michele waited patiently.

“This,” the official waved his hand as if at an irksome fly, “United States of America, so self-styled a democracy, is merely an experiment doomed to failure. While Spain continues to press the advantages of her colonies to the south, there is no doubt that commodities in the northern climes beckon.”

“Commodities?” Father Michele echoed.

“Furs, whale oil, all the things the damnable Russians and the Golikov-Shelikhov Company are after, Padre,” the official replied, the irritation returning momentarily to his voice. “Our ships have sailed from Central America, past our holdings in California.” Father Michele watched as the man placed the quill on his desk and folded his hands together. The man smiled. It was a smile Michele returned. “I am the Queen’s man, since the King gives no thought for his government. As I was entrusted by the Crown with the continued exploration of the north, so I entrust the civilizing of the savages to you, Father Rodriquez.”

“Civilizing?” Father Michele’s brow tilted.

“We can’t have them all cast into the Pit because of some misunderstanding of salvation, can we, Father? Rumor has it that Baranov is bringing Russian Orthodox missionaries to live among them. A bastion of heresy within the bounds of a Spanish protectorate would be,” the Cardinal hesitated, “unfortunate.”

“I’ve read our commanders’ journals, Eminence,” Father Rodriquez continued carefully. “These are not men who suffer strangers to exist in their midst.”

“I have complete confidence in you, Padre,” the Cardinal said as the man at the desk bent his head back to the paper in front of him. “You and your Brethren.”

“And if we fail, we are at least expendable.”

“A foothold, Father,” the official replied, his voice becoming more grave. “The Crown is seeking a foothold—to stop the Russians, to stop the Americans, to press the Spanish right and restore some of her former glory,” he took a breath, his eyes darkening, “and the French be damned.”

“Queen Maria Luisa’s man,” Father Rodriquez said softly.

The man’s lip twisted. “I daresay that de Godoy is her man, Padre, in every Biblical sense of the word.” He sighed and picked up the quill, dipping it distractedly into the inkwell. “Better we are here, Padre. Better you go to the north and freeze with the savages than face the horror that is coming to Europe.”

“There are men who say this is the most illuminated time in the history of mankind,” Father Michele said evenly. His lip twitched into a smile as the Cardinal behind him drew an audible breath. The official’s fingers tightened around his quill. He took a breath before he raised his face, training his gaze past Father Rodriquez toward the Cardinal whose knuckles had begun to whiten against the arms of the chair.

“Even now, I begin to see what their majesties saw in you, Father,” the official said, his voice barely rising above a whisper.

Michele continued to smile quietly as he placed his hand flat against his chest and bowed slightly. The official set his teeth and nodded brusquely.

“We are four years from the end of the eighteenth century, Father Rodriquez,” he continued. He bit at his lip and continued to scratch at the paper. “I do not believe you and I will see the nineteenth.”

 ~~~~

…and so the next bit of the story starts. It’s far darker than The Fishing Widow, and (at least for me) far more terrifying. But, it’s what happens when good people want to do good things but hold themselves to such a high standard that the standard itself is unattainable and that makes the falling short of it just that much more horrific.

While this post didn’t go anywhere I thought it would go, it went and I followed. But, in the end, it’s Alaska Day! It’s also a day I celebrate a place so rife with stories and atmosphere and potential that it’s stunning to me that not every writer on the planet clamors to live and work here. So, in celebration of Alaska Day, I’m holding a giveaway so you can enjoy a bit of Alaska, too! All you have to do is leave a comment (how easy is that?) on this post about where you would most like to go in The Great Land if someone handed you tickets to Alaska. The prize? Well, I happen to have a Raven’s Brew Coffee Deadman’s Reach prize pack:

DMR Prize Pack

 

Happy Alaska Day!

 

Welcoming Wicked Women Writer D.M. Slate!

DM Slate

 

This evening at A Diamond in the Dark, I’m welcoming fellow Wicked Women Writer D.M. Slate! Her challenge involved an encounter with strange matter on a gridlocked interstate with only a gas mask and an elderly parent. Did she survive? You’ll have to go to Horror Addicts and give it a listen. While you’re there, listen to ALL the podcast entries and don’t forget to vote for your favorite!

In the meantime, please WELCOME D.M.Slate to the blog!

Amy: What roped you in to this podcast challenge, and what did you think when you opened the email and realized your podcasted predicament?

D.M.: I was pulled in by the theme… I have a special place in my heart for apocalypse.  Beyond that, I was intrigued by the thought of turning one of my stories into a podcast, which I’d never done before.

I was completely baffled by my predicament – dark matter/strange matter….. say what?  I had to do a lot of research!  Beyond that, my character was stuck on the interstate, with a gas mask as a weapon, trying to care for an elderly parent.

I started the story several times, coming at it from different angles, but I just kept hitting a roadblock… no pun intended.  I actually got frustrated and just put the story aside, and then finally, I was able to work it all into a wicked tale of horror.  Muhahahaha!

Amy: Mu ha ha indeed! It’s a chilling and atmospheric read and listen to. I want to encourage everyone reading this interview to go and listen AND read it! Did you enjoy the podcasting aspect of the challenge? Do you think you’ll do more podcasts?

D.M.: Yes, and yes – for sure!  The podcast was very intimidating at first, and I felt dumb sitting in the closet, reading into my computer. But once I got beyond that self-consciousness, I started to have a blast!  My problem ended up being the 10 minute time allowance for the story.  I had to edit things very closely to make the story fit.

I will most definitely be doing more podcasts in the future!
Amy:  Epic! I can’t wait to hear more from you! But, you’re a mom with kids. What does your family think of your writing?

D.M.: My husband is very supportive, always helping me come up with new twists and turns for my plots.  My kids would love to help, too, but I tend to “shield” them from my stories.  They’re only in 2nd and 3rd grade, so I generally tell them that I write “scary adult stories”, and we leave it at that.  ;0)

Amy: I can completely relate to that. Even though my kids are older, I have to say, when they ask to read something I’ve written: “Not until you’re 30 or I’m dead.” So, how long have you been writing and what will we be seeing from you in the future? How did you get started writing?

D.M.: I’ve been writing with the intent of publication for almost 5 years, now.  I wrote my 1st novella on my lunch-breaks, over the course of several months…because I was bored.  Since then, I’ve been hooked!  My mind is always spinning some sort of outlandish tale that I need to get out on paper.

Currently, I have several short stories out to publishers on query right now, and I’m working on my next novel, Oculus Sinister.  I also hope to do more podcasting in the future, as well.

Amy: Oh, that’s wonderful! I wish you all the best! But, now, I have to as the question: what is your favorite cookie?

D.M.: Peanut Butter – without a doubt!!

Isn’t she cool? Now, run out and find her evil-peanut-butter-cookie-loving self and find her on Facebook via the clickable link below and make sure you stop by her blog (also a clickable link below) and show her some Wicked Women Writer love!
DM Slate 2

 D.M. Slate’s Website

Find D.M. Slate on Facebook