Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Greetings AND News AND schtuff....

Wow... It seems like forever since I've been here, and it really has been.  I haven't put up anything since my last Christmas Takeover story December 31st.

I wish I could say that I've been busy reading... but that would be a lie.

I've just been... disheartened.  Not with y'all... or the people who have been on... but just in general... or maybe with The Gal... I really couldn't tell you.  

I have had zero concentration since I came here, which in July will be two years.  I kept thinking it was a combination of my ADHD and being free and missing home and not having any dried eucalyptus in my living space, but none of that seemed right.  

It wasn't until the other day when I was having a conversation about how few books I read last year that... I don't know how to explain it... my mind was filled with memories... and I just stood there, staring off into the distance, feeling things I hadn't let myself feel in awhile.

Irritation.  Devastation.  Frustration.  Anger...

Lots and lots of anger.  And that is an extremely hard feeling for me to deal with, to handle.

It's really a behind-the-scenes sort of thing, the drama that goes on in book communities, drama I never knew about until I became part of that community, and always kept out of because it was none of my business and didn't involve me.  Until it did...

Shortly after I came here (we'll say about a year ago), a friendship ended, unbeknownst to me, and not in a good way.  Instead of just going our separate ways and wishing each other the best in life, this person chose to attack me behind my back... and it has affected The Gal.  (I'm sure this person would love to know how much so.)  People have unfriended me/blocked me on social media, they have pulled out of being on my blog last minute, they have told me they would never have anything to do with me because of what I supposedly did to this person.  In reality, I did absolutely nothing.  This person made up a lie that got bigger and bigger... and people automatically believed it.  By ruining me, he "built his empire."

To make matters worse, I had to sit by and watch my friends (or "friends"... I'm still trying to figure that out) talk about how wonderful and amazing and blah blah blah this person was... and I kept my mouth shut until people I consider very close started talking about the horrible person that was hurting this blogger... and I had to tell them that the "horrible person" was me... but wasn't me... because it's a lie.

I couldn't go a day without seeing people share the links to his website, and talk about all the great reviews he writes... and even my best friend has been on a time or two.

Reading... my biggest stress reliever, my most loved activity, the one thing in my life that touches my heart and cleanses my soul... became nothing of the sort.

Blogging... talking about books, my absolute passion... started causing panic attacks... and I had to literally FORCE myself to do it.  All while keeping my mouth shut because the people I hold dear to me... well... they are this blogger's friends, too.  Or maybe not my friends at all.

This affected my reviews... it affected how much I posted... if affected everything.

It made The Gal the hardest thing in my life to deal with, and I've dealt with a lot of hard things.

It made me want to quit... and I guess in some ways I have.

I stopped posting just to post... and there are lots of reviews that still, months later, have gone unwritten.  The ones that did... written in haste, basic normal review blather... most definitely not what I have become known for.

The Gal - my one TRUE happy place, the one place in this whole world that I truly feel at home - was gone...

... and maybe still is.

I'm already being honest, so I might as well be COMPLETELY honest.  That anger is not just directed at the blogger.  The anger is directed at the people who believed what was said about me when I don't have that in my character... the anger is directed at the people who call me "friend" and yet still continue to have dealings with this person... the anger is directed at the people who know about the lies told and didn't step away... the anger is directed at the people who are too blind to see what kind of person this blogger actually is... and the anger is directed at me.

Why me, when I did nothing wrong?  Good question.  Because I let yet another person in my life steal my muchness.  I let someone, who had so little regard for our friendship that they lied about me to make them look better, steal my thunder.  I let this poor excuse for a human being make me anxious about my own blog, and take away what he claimed I tried to take away from him.  I let him steal my happiness... and tarnish my blog... and my good name.

I have been suppressing this... pain... for all this time.  Not dealing with it... and not dealing with The Gal.

..........

Receiving a certain review request the other day made me rethink what I've been doing.  It wasn't the author... or the book... or the genre... or the subject matter... but the fact that one of those authors/friends/"friends" I spoke of recommended me in the list of bloggers this person should contact (even if the other blogger in question was also a part of that list) and it made me think.

About life... about books... about people... about friendships... and about The Gal.

I came back today and saw how many people had come to look at each of my posts since I've been gone... and I was shocked.  Apparently I'm not as much of a "nothing" as I began to feel I was.  Even without me, people came and saw.  LOTS of people.

Which gives me hope...

... and what's life without hope?

So today I've come up with a game plan...

The Gal was created originally for two reasons: 1) so I had a place that was just mine, with my own rules, where I could talk about books and book related things (and any other darn thing I want to talk about), and 2) so I could help authors get themselves and their books out there to more readers.  

That's how I began... and that's what I will go back to.  I'll post on Amazon and Goodreads and BookLikes if I feel like it, but I will always be posting here.  I'll create time every day for me and a book - and no one/nothing is going to be able to interfere with that time.  I'll go back to using my blog as my outreach, and my place to talk about books, and my place to interview authors, and my place to share their original pieces, and my... It will go back to being MY PLACE.

So... welcome (back) to The Gal in the Blue Mask.  I hope you like what you see here... and if you do, please let me know (I always love to hear from y'all).

I have some ideas running around in my "pretty little head," so when they become actual things, y'all will be the first to know.

Thank you... for stopping by, for reading my posts... and for not giving up on me.

I sure do love y'all.

~Meghan, "THE Gal"

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Christmas Takeover 31: Stevie Kopas


Happy New Year
By: Stevie Kopas

Christmas was supposed to be different this year.  Just last week I'd arrived back in my home town for the holidays.  I didn't tell anyone I was coming; I had just left Garrison and decided to go back home.

            I was going to set things right.  I hadn't talked to my sister, my only living kin, in years, and I'd hoped that we could set our differences aside and become a family again.  Whatever friends I once had, I was going to make things right with them as well, but on the days leading up to Christmas Eve last Saturday, I found that no one was returning my calls or responding to texts.  Facebook messages went unanswered and even when I dropped by my sister's house and rang the bell, only the barking dog beyond the locked door was there to greet me.

            I ended up at a diner, eating a simple meal alone on Christmas Eve.  The place was dead, save for my waitress; I could see her eyeing me with pity as she stared at me shoveling mashed potatoes and gravy into my mouth.  Christmas music played on the old speakers, reminding me that this was just another year that I'd spend alone during what was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.  The waitress sat down across from me in the small booth and slid a chocolate milkshake to me.

            "On the house," she'd said with a smile.

            I smiled back; she'd reassured me that, while my old hometown had changed quite a bit since I'd been gone, there was still good here.  For the remainder of the meal, she'd sat with me, at first making small talk, but then we got to know one another.  She was a simple woman named Gladys, a churchgoer and a volunteer on most weekends down at the children's center.  I told Gladys my story, expecting her to run off and abhor me just as the rest of the people in my life had done without reason, but she told me a story of forgiveness and placed her hand on mine.

            "Everyone deserves a second chance."

            That's where I got my idea for the New Year's Eve party.  Gladys was a genius.  A party was the best way to get everyone in one place and to go into the new year with a sense of togetherness and joy.  A new year and a new beginning for me, for everyone, but I was staying in a motel and that was no place for a party.

            Gladys offered to throw the party at her apartment, and I sincerely felt like I was the luckiest person in the world all of a sudden.

            Over the next week, my calls continued to go unanswered and people were still ignoring me as if I didn't exist.  I kept thinking that I ought to just give up - no one wanted me back in town, no one wanted to forgive and start over.  I called Gladys and told her that I wanted to cancel the party; I didn't see a point in trying anymore if no one would even give me the time of day.

            "Don't give up," she told me.  "You'll find a way to get everyone together."

            I don't know why I trusted Gladys so much - I didn't even know her - but something about her voice on the phone comforted me, made me think that everything was going to be alright.  So I took her advice and didn't give up.  The following day, New Year's Eve, I set about getting everyone together at Gladys's apartment.  Surely no one was going to judge me on the place - there was barely enough time to plan a party; I couldn't even think about decorating.

            Gladys talked me through the whole thing.  I had to be the ultimate party host, so I set about picking everyone up and bringing them back to her place, one by one.  She even came with me to pick up my sister, Amelia.  It was a bittersweet reunion, and I was lucky Gladys was there with me.  I liked her, liked having a new friend that cared about me.  She understood how important the holidays were and how important it was for me to get everyone together to make things right.

            Back at her apartment, it was nearly ten o'clock, two hours to midnight.  Two hours to the new year!  Everyone was so excited.  My ex, Samantha - I hadn't seen her in years - she'd changed so much.  Her hair was super short now, but she was still so beautiful.  We'd been high school sweethearts.  I didn't mind that she was married now; it was nice of her and her husband to both come to the party.  They sat together at the dining room table, eyes fixed on one another.  I couldn't help but smile, though I was a tad jealous.  It was rather romantic.

            My best friend from high school, Todd, and his roommate, Joey, hung out by the television like a couple of couch potatoes.  I still remembered Todd's favorite beer - several empty cans strewn about the coffee table and his clothes were soaked with it.  He was already wasted.  It made me laugh.  I wondered if he'd make it to midnight drinking at that rate.  My other friends from high school that still lived in town - Jacob, Mary, and Frank - were gathered around the cheap card table I'd set up for more seating.  They kept to themselves mostly; understandable - it'd been so long since we were all together, a little awkwardness and shyness was to be expected.

            Amelia stared at me from the recliner, an empty look of disdain on her face.  I know she'd forgiven me, but she still didn't seem like she wanted to be there.  Gladys was the only one really doing any talking.  I asked her to sit with Amelia for a bit, try to help her warm up to everyone while I filled drinks.  They seemed to be getting along okay.

            As the time ticked on, everyone was starting to liven up a bit.  We played some party games; I won every single round of charades!  It was hilarious; no one seemed to understand the concept of the game, which was a bit frustrating, but hey, I don't ever win anything, so I was totally okay with it.

            I turned the volume up on the television as midnight approached and gathered everyone in the living room.

            "Let's raise our glasses for a quick toast," I instructed, and everyone obliged.

            I looked to Gladys and she gave me an encouraging nod.

            "I'm so glad you could all make it here tonight.  This is all I've thought about since I've been away... getting you all in one place so that I could make things right between us.  I know none of you thought that this evening was ideal, but that doesn't matter.  You're all here now, and I couldn't be happier to start the new year with anyone else."

            I made my way around to everyone so we could touch our glasses together - a toast to a fresh start, a toast to the new year - and then the countdown started and the ball began to drop.

            "10!"

            I shouted.

            "9!"

            I looked from face to face.

            "8!"

            Everyone was here.

            "7!"

            Everyone that I'd missed the last thirteen years.

            "6!"

            And they were all smiling at me.

            "5!"

            Someone was knocking at the door.

            "4!"

            Had I forgotten someone?

            "3!"

            Surely, I hadn't.

            "2!"

            The pounding on the door was getting louder.

            "Happy-"

            My welcome to the new year was interrupted as the front door was smashed open.  I dropped my drink and stared in awe as several police officers poured into Gladys's home, weapons pointed at me.  One of them suddenly became sick and began vomiting in the living room.  I dropped to the ground as instructed by another officer, confused and scared - why would they interrupt my party like this?  Why were they ruining New Year's Eve?

            "Jesus Fucking Christ," one of them said, as another cuffed my hands behind my back.

            Why were they doing this to me?  I shouted for Gladys, struggling to find her in the room.  The officer dug his knee into my back and ordered me to stay still.  I screamed for Gladys, but she wasn't there.  Why did she leave me?

            "Gladys was never there, Gabriel," someone said to me.

            And suddenly I wasn't in my apartment anymore.  I was in an office, sitting across from a man I recognized.  His desk was tidier than anything I'd ever seen in my life.

            "Dr. Fields?"

            "Yes, Gabriel.  I'm here."

            "Gladys..."

            I said her name and suddenly I couldn't remember what she looked like.  I desperately searched my head for her face, for the clothes she was wearing the night I first met her in the diner, but all I cold seem to recall was the angry waiter who'd thrown me out for disturbing the other customers.

            "Where did she go?  Where's Gladys?"

            "Gabriel," he said sternly.  "Gladys was never there.  The apartment you were in belonged to a man named Kevin Price.  He worked at the diner.  Do you remember what happened to Kevin?"

            My head began to swim; I couldn't place my finger on just one thought or memory.  There were too many of them, but the angry waiter, I did remember him.

            "He slept through the party.  He was in his bed.  Gladys lied!  She told me it was her apartment!"

            Dr. Fields leaned back in his chair.  "Calm down, Gabriel.  And listen to my words.  Gladys was never there."

            I repeated the words back to him.

            "That's right, Gabriel," Dr. Fields said, adjusting his glasses on his face.  "Now, can you remember what really happened at the New Year's Eve party?"

            I began to sweat as all the memories came crashing into the forefront of my mind like a freight train.  Amelia, my sister... lifeless in the recliner, her dead gaze set straight ahead.  Samantha and her husband, their throats slashed, lying side by side on the dining room table in a pool of blood.  Todd and Joey, blue faces with telephone wire still tightly wrapped around their necks.  The others... Jacob, Mary, Frank... hands and feet tied, their bodies lifeless on the floor around the card table, throats cut wide open.  And that waiter... dead in his bed, his head smashed in...

            "No!" I shouted, bringing my hands up to my head.  I hit myself over and over to make the memories go away.  "It's not real!  None of this is real!"

            Dr. Fields pressed a button on his desk as I continued to scream.  He put those thoughts in my head; none of it was real.  It couldn't be.

            "Gabriel, calm down," he said as two men in white entered the office and grabbed hold of me. "We made great progress today; we'll try again tomorrow."

            The two men restrained me and dragged me from my seat.  I tried to fight them, but they were much too strong.  One of them injected me with something and I suddenly began to feel weak; I could barely move.

            I heard Dr. Fields; he sounded a million miles away.

            "Keep him restrained and under twenty-four-hour surveillance.  The patient is still prone to self-harm."

            I couldn't wrap my head around everything that was happening.  There was no way I could hurt Amelia and all of my friends.  It was Gladys; it had to be.  If only I could remember what she looked like, I could tell Dr. Fields and they could find her and arrest her.

            They secured me in a wheelchair and threw a chart down on my lap.  It was getting harder to control my head as it slumped forward and drool poured from my mouth.  My vision was getting blurrier and blurrier, but I could make out something printed at the top of the chart.

            Garrison Home for the Criminally Insane.

            Garrison.

            I started to fade, but I forced myself to repeat the word over and over in my head until I finally realized what it meant.  This had been my home for thirteen years.  I wasn't a resident of a city, but a prisoner, a patient.  I'd done something... bad... all those years ago.

            And I think I might have done something bad again on New Year's Eve.

About the author:
Stevie Kopas was born and raised in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  She is a gamer, a writer, and an apocalypse enthusiast.  Stevie will never turn down a good cup of coffee and might even be a bit of a caffeine addict.
            Stevie is the author of The Breadwinner Trilogy.  Books 1 and 2, The Breadwinner and Haven were originally self-published in 2013 and 2014.  The Breadwinner Trilogy was picked up by Permuted Press in May of 2014 and the second editions of both the first books were released in March and April of 2015.  The third and final installment of The Breadwinner Trilogy, All Good Things, debuted in May of 2015.
            Kopas also participated in the At Hell's Gates horror anthologies and all profits are donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.  Her short stories, Nefarious, Patient 63, and Spencer Family Traditions can be found in the first two volumes of At Hell's Gates.
            She currently resides in Panama City Beach, Florida and tries to spend as much time as she can in the sun.
            Stevie is also the Managing Editor of the website Horror Metal Sounds and a writer for the site.  She is an avid reader and watcher of horror and post-apocalyptic fiction (especially zombie-poc).
            Stevie's official website can be found here and you can connect with Stevie on Facebook and Twitter.

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 62: AMONG THE STACKS: Lisa Vasquez

Due to a couple of authors getting lost in the Christmas hubbub, I decided to stick an interview of the pretty awesome Lisa Vasquez in as my Christmas Takeover #30 (I mean, it is my blog so I can do what I want, right? hahaha).  She's got a couple of books under her belt that look really awesome (can't wait to read them) and, well, who doesn't want to learn a little bit more about these fabulous authors that we hold so dear to our hearts?  Enjoy...




The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Welcome to The Gal, Lisa.  It's a pleasure to have you here today.  Let's start with something "easy" - tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lisa Vasquez:
I'm actually pretty boring.  I like to stay home most of the time and write.  I write from home and have a full house.  My family is very close so we all live together right now.  I have a new grandson who I take care of and he keeps me pretty busy.  Outside of that, I have an awesome collection of Living Dead dolls, Nightmare Before Christmas toys, Godzilla toys, and horror posters/novelties.  I was a personal trainer for 18 years and loved it, but got tired of trying to find something "normal" to wear and only seeing spandex in my closet.  I worked for Estee Lauder as a business manager (another job that was awesome!) for a few years before I got very sick.
            Currently I'm the CEO of Stitched Smile Publications, which is a dream come true, a Crisis Text Line counselor, book cover designer, and of course... an author.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Lisa Vasquez:
a) I've never met David Gahan (Depeche Mode) even though I've been a die-hard fan since I was 15 and have tried for years.  It's a bucket list thing, now.

b) I love all of the old John Hughes movies and know them word for word.

c) I still listen to Information Society.

d) I also listen to classical or opera on the stereo.

e) I went to a mosh pit with my son for his 16th birthday.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Lisa Vasquez:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Lisa Vasquez:
Several submissions to SSP, but I re-read books I love: The Hannibal series, Fight Club, the Rot & Ruin series, Bird Box.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Lisa Vasquez:
Wuthering Heights, or the Estee Lauder Biography.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Lisa Vasquez:
I decided to write professionally about 8 years ago.  I kept trying to finish a book I started and people kept telling me to do it.  It's hard to do that when you have little to no time to think.  I'm sort of the "eye of the storm" in my house.  I'm in the middle, sorting through everything like an octopus.  That leaves little time to collect my thoughts, but once I did it... it was the most amazing feeling in the world.  I accomplished something not many people have.  It wasn't Mount Everest, but it was almost as grueling mentally!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Lisa Vasquez:
I wish I had a special place to write.  I write whenever and wherever I can.  I'm an opportunist.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Lisa Vasquez:
If I listen to music that has words, I'll type the words.  So I listen to Chopin or soundtracks, like The Matrix or Batman.  I love Christopher Young (Exorcism of Emily Rose), too.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Lisa Vasquez:
Probably the timeline "thing."  I write from page one to "the end" and sometimes, because I have the attention span of a squirrel on crack, I skip a scene and have to go back and fix it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Lisa Vasquez:
The Unsaintly, my first novella.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Lisa Vasquez:
Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, for sure.  Stephen King's Salem's Lot and Thomas Harris' Hannibal series.
            Authors who inspire me are Anne Rice and Jeff Brown (A.J. Brown) because they tell actual stories; they aren't writing just to write words or put out books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Lisa Vasquez:
To tell a story, you have to engage the reader and build suspense.  The reader has to relate to the characters and feel something for them: hate, love, pity, etc.  If you're bored, your reader is bored.  To really build a story, there has to be a backstory.  The author should be able to go into detail about the character, their past, their idiosyncrasies, their ego, and their id.  Otherwise, the character is two dimensional and flat.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character? 

Lisa Vasquez:
The characters that I've always fallen in love with are the ones that are what most people consider evil, but digging deeper, you find out that something made them that way and there might be a piece of vulnerability or humanity within them.
            Lestat was created and abandoned, Louis lost his wife and was suicidal, Claudia lost her mother in the Plague.  All of them flocked to one another because of the pain and loss they had experienced.
            Hannibal was a happy child until the war killed his parents and the deserters killed and ate his sister (which they fed to him).

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Lisa Vasquez:
Probably a cross between Fay and Isabel.  The story of Fay hasn't released yet, so that will probably remain a mystery to people for a bit.  Isabel is the main character in The Unsaintly Chronicles.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Lisa Vasquez:
Haha, absolutely.  I'd rather a plain cover with just a color background and title than a horribly designed cover.
            I'm involved with every book cover... I design my own.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Lisa Vasquez:
a) Take your time.  When you think you're done, sit on it another week.  If you rush it, you'll always miss something.

b) Do not edit your own work without letting someone else final proof it.  An editor is more important than the cover sometimes.

c) Did I mention not rushing?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Lisa Vasquez:
I don't think there's been a scene that was hard to write psychologically or mentally.  I've had a few times when the scene wouldn't come out the way I wanted it to.  That's when I walk away for awhile, maybe a day, to mull it over.  The mind has this fantastic way of working things out while you focus on something else.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Lisa Vasquez:
I think what stands out with my books is that I write in an "omniscient" point of view.  I hate first person.  I also add an element of fantasy to my horror because I love both genres so much.  People always tell me they can tell it's my work or writing, so I must have a "signature."

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Lisa Vasquez:
For awhile, and you can tell by several of my books... I had a thing for Un-names.  Since the late 1990s, I've an un-name for social media.  On AOL, I had unsaintly and unholier.  I made it my brand. I snagged every social media I could and used unsaintly.  Then a college started using my name for one of their teams.  At first, yeah I was pissed - but it's great publicity for me when they look up UnSaintly and find me everywhere!
            I think the title, for me, is always the easiest, to be honest.  There's only one book I can't pin down a title for.  Interestingly, it's for my multiple personality character!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Lisa Vasquez:
First, I want readers to love my stories.  I want to reach into their dreams, their thoughts when they're otherwise occupied, and their lunchtime conversations.  I want the characters to be "real" to them.  My target audience are readers who love their stories challenged and who love to think.  If they could take one thing away from my stories, I'd love it to be that it left them breathless.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Lisa Vasquez:
I deleted one scene because it showed up, near verbatim, in a movie that had the same content was very popular.  I joke that they stole it.  
            (No, really... I think they did sometimes :( )

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?

Lisa Vasquez:
I have The Unhowling - Viking Werewolves (swoon), Unrequited - a female assassin with a few extra horrific habits (Fay), The Unsaintly Chronicles 3, a few anthologies, and crossing fingers... my gothic Betty Crocker Cookbook!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Lisa Vasquez:
I'm committed to writing and publishing more of my work.  Now that I run a publishing house, I have to show my staff an authors that I can walk the walk and I have some credibility.  I have to lead by example.  So I will do anything I ask them to do and more.  Plus, I love to write and it helps me keep a promise to myself.  Hopefully, I will have more cover work and elevate my status there, too!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Lisa Vasquez:
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (rarely used, but I'm there): @unsaintly.  Wordpress and my Official Website.  If you want samples of my works in progress, visit me on WattPad.  The rest are in my bio.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks, again, for stopping by, Lisa.  It was an honor to have you join us here.
            One more thing before you go: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Lisa Vasquez:
I'd love for them to know how important reviews are for indie authors.  You, the reader, give us a voice that matters.  Whether the review is bad or good, or just a star rating... please, please, take just a moment to give us that gift.  Big time corporations like Amazon and the brick and mortar stores, think we're a joke and they look down on us.  You, the consumer, have the power to choose what to read and what gets shown to you.  Places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million are coming around, but we still need your support.  Word of mouth is worth all the heartache and funding we put into producing the stories you love.  Thank you so much for giving me a few moments of your precious time!


About the author:
By design, Lisa Vasquez creates horror with vivid, dark, and twisted words and images that not only drags the reader in between the pages, but onto the covers that house them, as well.  When she releases her grasp, readers are left alone to sort through the aftermath those images leave behind; each one becoming a seed that roots itself within the soft confines of their psyche.  She takes this passion for writing horror and uses it to mentor other authors and volunteers as the Publisher's Liaison for the Horror Writers Association.  In January 2016, Lisa took her commitment to the next level and opened an independent publishing house, Stitched Smile Productions.
            Her work can be found in several anthologies, and her upcoming, full-length novels will be released in 2016.  For more information and updates on Lisa's work, you can find her at: her website or on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the book:
The Unsaintly is the journey of Isabel, the daughter of Louis VII and Blanche of Castile, who devoted her entire life to the servitude of God.  When Isabel begins to suffer from stigmata, she learns that it is just the beginning of her role in the fight between Heaven and Hell.  Her sacrifice is not enough when the abuse inflected by the stigmata she suffers leaves, and is replaced by the real horrors inflicted by God's rival, Lucifer.
            All that she's learned up to this point will be tested along with her faith, in the horrific story of good, evil, and everything in between.



Friday, December 30, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Christmas Takeover 29: Glenn Rolfe


Veronica's Christmas aka Welcome to Paradise
By: Glenn Rolfe

Another lovely Christmas and not a drop of blood to be spilt.  For Veronica Newton, the doldrums finally arrived to her shady side of town.  The Lucky Lounge in Fenton, New Jersey welcomed each and every deplorable lowlife, every misfit, every anarchist, and every unencumbered criminal passing through or looking for a good place to cut loose, cut coke, kill yourself, get fucked, or strangle someone you shouldn't have fucked.

            She stood before the bathroom mirror applying red lipstick.  Jet-black hair touched down on bare shoulders poking out through her tattered Clash t-shirt, so worn and loved you could easily make out the round maps of her areoles beneath the threadbare fabric.  The winter cold in stiff competition with the ratty baseboards of the Lucky Lounge Motel kept her nipples at constant attention.  Victoria applied a fresh layer of black eyeliner and moved to the bed.  The floppy mattress squeaked beneath her ass as she strapped combat boots over her black leggings.  Not the most weather appropriate attire, but practicality had never been her strong suit.  Besides, she spent too little time in the sleet and snow for it to matter.

            You could triangulate her winter vacation life from the motel to Micky's Diner next door, to the EZ Mart on the corner of Hill and King, and back to the Lucky Lounge.  Exposure to the wintery conditions was at a bare minimum.  After spending eleven months as an inked-up punk rock model in Corona, California, Veronica longed for her Fenton, New Jersey Decembers.  Four weeks to kill, fuck, and chill.  Welcome to paradise, motherfuckers.

            And tonight, Christmas Eve, was always her last hurrah.

            She loved damage.  She loved scars.  She loved anything beautiful and broken.  The Lucky Lounge Motel served as the feeding ground for her biggest passion... murder.

            She nodded, glancing around the dim-lit room, from the 80s model mini-fridge that sounded like a generator, to the ultra-bulky, pre-smart TV flat screen featuring 20 crappy cable channels and HBO, resting atop a K-Mart Special bureau filled with what clothes she brought.  A nice and shitty waiting was at a slight tilt on the wall featuring a boat on an ocean that looked like something a beginner practicing along to a Bob Ross video might have crafted.  Or crapped out.  The lumpy twin size bed became comfortable after a few Jack and Cokes, and the cigarette burned pea green comforter matched the putrid, thin carpet beneath her feet.  A far cry from the beachside bungalow she shared with Jenny Pollack back in sunny California.  But she liked it this way.  It would feel wrong to do the things she did here in a better room.

            Tonight's goal was simple: Find a good-looking fella, or good-enough-looking fella, over at Mickey's, get him alone, bring him home, and kill the shit out of him after a good, drunk fuck.  She checked her lips and tits in the bathroom mirror before snagging her leopard print peacoat.  She slipped into the jacket, tickled her chin with the coats frilly cuffs, and gave her best Billy Idol snarl to the hot dish in the mirror.  Good to go, she headed into the night.

            Light snow glided down under the street lamps as she made her way across the deserted street.  King was slow as hell most times, but good as dead after midnight.  She stepped inside Mickey's and shook the flurries from her hair.

            "Evenin', kitten," Mickey said.

            "Hey, Mickey.  What's the good word?"

            "Just another day of breathin' and cookin'," he said.  He wiped his thick, black-rimmed glasses on his spotless apron.  "Coffee and a burger?"

            "Aw, you know me so well."  Veronica unbuttoned her coat and took up a stool at the empty counter.

            "I never forget what the pretty girls like."

            "Charming and attentive, Mickey.  If you were twenty years younger..."

            "Ain't you just the sweetest thing?" he said.  He placed a plain white cup before her and poured a steaming cup of the best joe in Fenton.

            She picked up the sugar container and dumped an unhealthy amount into the dark depths.  She cupped the hot mug and inhaled the inviting aroma.  Mickey disappeared behind the counter before reappearing in the peek-a-boo window in the kitchen.  He started singing an old Elvis song she couldn't recall the name of, swaying as the sizzle of the patty slapped against the grill.

            She didn't turn when the door to the diner opened.  A young guy in a leather jacket took up a stool, leaving one between them.

            "I don't bite," she said.

            He pulled his earbuds out, letting them fall to his chest, and tucked a loose strand of long brown hair behind his ear.  He had soft features, bright hazel eyes, and nice lips.  He looked like a long-haired, 30 Seconds to Mars, pre-Joker Jared Leto.  Despite her proclamation, she wanted to gnaw on him.

            "I might," he said.

            She reached a hand out and patted the red cushion of the stool next to her.

            He smiled, nodded, the hair behind his ear coming free, and saddled up next to her.

            "I'm Veronica."

            "Pete."

            "So, Pete.  What's your gig?"

            "I suck at sleeping."

            "Welcome to the club," she said.

            "Hey there, young fella," Mickey said from over the grill.  "I'll be right with ya."

            "Sure thing.  Whatcha cooking up back there?"

            "Burger for the beauty next to ya."

            "A burger, huh?  Can you throw one on for me?" Pete said.

            "Sure can."

            Veronica sipped her coffee, studying young Pete.  The guy could have been in a nineties band.  He had the hair for it.

            "So, you hate Christmas?" he said.

            "No, just Jesus."

            "Never believed in him."

            "I did."

            She let him chew on that while she finished her coffee.  God's clout vanished when she lost Amy.  Staring into the bottom of the empty mug, she felt the tears well up.  Amy was only eight when the cancer devoured her.  Veronica picked up her napkin, turned away and dabbed the corners of her eyes, careful not to fuck up her mascara.

            Micky came out whistling with two steaming burgers in hand.  He placed the plates of juicy meat before them.

            "Thanks, Micky.  You're the best Santa in town."  She stood, leaned over the counter, and gave the cook a peck on the cheek.

            She gazed at Pete from the corner of her eye and noticed him checking out her ass.

            "Anything for you, darling," Micky said.  "Now eat up.  Gotta keep some meat on them pretty bones of yours."

            She plopped down on the stool, picked up the burger giving it a squeeze, and watched the ketchup and mustard drip out the back.

            "You like condiments, huh?" Pete said.

            "I like a lot of things."  She gave him a wink and took a mouthful of the hot burger.  After swallowing, she said, "You gonna eat?  Or just stare at me all night?"

            He picked up his burger.  "What are you doing, you know, after this?"

            Ah, and the fly is caught.  She smiled at him and took another bite.

            Micky returned to the front holding an old Polaroid camera.  "Can I get you two to squeeze in together?  I like to get a Christmas picture every year.  Always an interesting crew to look back on."

            Pete cleared his throat, wiped his hands, and said, "Sure."

            Veronica did the same.  She got up and went behind Pete, wrapping her arms around him, making sure to press her breasts against him, and placed her chin on his shoulder.

            "Your hair smells nice," she whispered.

            "So, after this..." he said.

            "Shhh.  Smile for Micky."

            "Okay, kids.  That looks great."  Micky snapped the picture.  The flash was followed by the mechanical sound of the picture sliding out.  He snatched it and began waving it back and forth.

            Veronica kissed Pete's cheek, letting her lips linger just a few seconds.  He tasted salty.

            "Finish your dinner, then we can go back to my place."

            "Cool."

            She was going to have fun with this one.  She'd fuck him until he was delirious, then slice up the salty flesh one delicate cut at a time.  She licked her lips, feeling a rush of endorphins.  Watching him take his time with his burger made her hornier.  Most of her victims became bundles of anxious, blubbering messes once she extended the invitation.  Pete seemed cool as concrete.  James Dean on ice.  Watching him unravel would add another exciting dimension to the night's activities.  She went to work on her food.

            "Anything else for either of ya?  Piece of pie?  More coffee?"

            Veronica slid off her stool.  "Micky, I think we're gonna go celebrate a little."

            "Oh, okay.  How was the burger?"

            "Great as always," she said, pulling her coat on and fastening the two front buttons.  She reached for some cash, but Micky waved her off.

            "On me, for both of you.  Merry Christmas."

            "That's mighty kind of you, sir.  The burger was delicious.  Thanks."

            Veronica headed for the door.  Pete followed.

            "Goodnight, Micky."

            "Night, darling."

            She stepped out into the falling snow.  The storm had moved in.  Heavy snowflakes were coming down with the wind like rain.  This was gonna be what they referred to as a Nor'Easter.  She loved huge snowstorms.  They never saw anything like it back in Orange County.  Hell, they barely got any precipitation.  It was a major part of the East Coast charm.  Her friends always questioned her about coming out here with no family to be found.  They never bought that she just loved her Christmas with snow.  They knew she thought the Jesus holiday was bullshit.

            Pete pulled out a smoke.

            "Want one?"

            "Sure."

            He placed the cigarette in her lips, his long hair shuffled in the frosty breeze, blocked the wind with his hand, and lit hers before lighting his own.  A well-rehearsed and perfectly executed move.  Allowing the idea that maybe this wasn't your typical loner-type roll through her mind, Veronica's libido stirred.  Experience could be fun.

            She took the lead, nodding for him to follow her across the deathly hollows of King Street.  The stormy holiday resulted in a beautiful and desolate night on Fenton's main road.  Plow trucks would be rumbling along within the hour, but she and her new pal, Pete, would be wrapped up in their own devastation by then.  She bit her bottom lip until she tasted the coppery promise of blood.

            Pete followed in silence, just the sounds of their boots crunching through the snow and ice as they finished their cigarettes, tossed them to the motel sidewalk, and hurried inside.

            Veronica was ready for her big, violent Christmas vacation finale.

            "Wow," Pete said, stepping into the small room.  "Looks like shit."

            Veronica dropped her bag and turned to face him.  Unbuttoning her coat, she let the cheetah print second skin slowly roll from her shoulders as she licked her lip.  Pete's brilliant hazel eyes took her in.  Her spell was cast.  She pounced.

            Their tongues met as she mashed her body to his, rocking him on his heels as they crashed against the door.  He kissed as good as she imagined he would.  Better even.  His hands cupped her ass and lifted her in the air.  She wasted no time in wrapping her thighs around him like a python prepping its next meal.

            "Take me," she gasped, coming up for air.  She'd been with many men and women - the anticipation, the tension, the buildup, had never matched this intensity.  It wasn't her alone; his energy was coalescing with hers, igniting a conflagration of desire they had no control over.

            He stepped forward, growling as his lips found her clavicle.  Just as she thought he was taking her to the bed, he spun and pinned her back to the wall.

            "Uh," she gasped.  His aggressiveness upped the game.  She unlatched from him long enough to get her leggings, doing a hyperactive tap dance to free them from her ankles as Pete slipped out of his leather jacket, undid his jeans, and unleashed a prominent erection that he took no time inserting where it needed to go.  Blood and torment rolled into the back of her head, there would be plenty of time for death and dismemberment.  Her priority had been hijacked by the overwhelming urge to fuck this man's brains out.

            "Yes, yes, yes," she moaned.  He surged, thrusting, hell-bent on breaking her from the inside.  Veronica was in a heaven she seldom gained access to.  This was what she was looking for, this was the fucking shit.  Her shit buried in his rock star hair, she sunk her teeth into his neck.  If he felt pain, he didn't show it.  He hammered her into the wall.  Her orgasm rushed upon her like a wave out of the Pacific, fast and out of nowhere.  Her squeal of ecstasy caught her off guard, as well.  This man knew how to fuck.  It made her duty almost sad, a near-travesty.

            After that first climax, gripping him around the neck, she slammed the backs of her heels behind his knees, dropping him.  She followed him down, the fall knocking the air from his lungs.  She was tempted to press her thumbs through his eyes, but quelled the impulse by sliding back onto his cock.  She wanted to get him good and spent before the real messy part began.

            After getting his bearings, his hands clenched  her shirt, and as she was too wrapped up in riding him, her jaw fell as he tore the flimsy cloth open, releasing her breasts.  She slapped him, leaving a red mark upon his beautiful features.

            His brow creased, anger climbing in his eyes.

            "What the fuck?" he said.

            She continued impaling herself upon him as she replied, "That was my favorite shirt, asshole."

            "Sorry."

            "Don't worry, I'll make sure you pay for it.  Now, squeeze my fucking tits and give me what I want."

            He smiled, reaching up and massaging her breasts in his soft hands.

            Veronica leaned back giving him full advantage of her bouncing tits.  He pinched her nipples between his fingers and clenched her breasts like a hawk snatching its prey.  A whine escaped her mouth as she bit down into her bottom lips.  Blood trickled down, sluicing off her chin, and dripped bloody tears onto his chest.

            "Goddam, you know how to make a guy feel special," he said.

            She felt another orgasm coming down.  She wanted his first.  Tightening her virginal muscles around him, she increased her speed and felt him doing the same.  His moans validated her hunch.

            Leaning back, she clawed for her coat.  She got loud, using the art of distraction as her hound found the switchblade in the coat pocket.  This was going to be for the record books.  A bloody Christmas to remember.

            His load exploded within her, her orgasm teetering on the precipice.

            Not yet, not yet, she told herself.

            She wanted to time it just right, just as the blade penetrated his flesh.  She gripped the cold handle in her palm, hit the switch, and swung her arm in an arc.  His fist rocked her jaw just as the knife punctured high on his chest inches below his collarbone, missing its intended tender mark.

            Stars accompanied her orgasm - a first - as she fell backwards, her shoulders and the back of her head hitting the thin, filthy, pea soup-green rug.

            "Gah," he screamed.  "What a wicked little bitch you are."

            Her head swam as she spat blood, and said, "Fuck you, you fucking hit me."

            He was on his feet, the switchblade lodged in his chest.  His next move would be anyone's guess.  The room finally stopped swooning.  Climbing to her feet, blood drooling down her chin, she let loose her Billy Idol snarl, a rocket queen hungry for sin.  Pete, busy trying to figure out the best way to get the knife out, didn't see her foot come up hard between his legs.  He dropped to the floor with a resounding oomph.

            Veronica skulked around him as he had one hand on his balls, and the other on the handle of the knife.  She dived down atop him, slamming down on the handle with one hand over the other.  Pete howled like a wolf from the pain.  She kissed his mouth and let her lips linger, enjoying herself.  This was her party after all.

            His mouth opened, his head darting forward too quick for her to react.  His teeth clamped down on and through her lips.  She flailed backward, his crimson grin watching her retreat.  Her trembling hands guarded her ruined mouth, blood flowing over her palms and fingers.  She felt the warmth run down her wrists.

            Off balance and matched up against another fuck as sick as she, Veronica scurried toward the bathroom.  She needed to regroup, reassess the situation and figure out how to put this sexy, miserable prick to rest.

            "Not so fast, pretty lady."

            Her head snapped back as he yanked her hair.

            Shit.

            "You got a thing for fucking guys and then stabbing the shit out of them?"

            He dragged her across the room and used their momentum to fling her into the old piece of junk TV and the crappy particle board bureau in the corner.  Her ribs took the brunt of the collision as she fell to her knees.

            Pete snatched up his jacket and pulled a cigarette from the pack in his pocket.

            "You can't shookedat in here," she said through her tattered mouth.

            "Not my room.  Not my problem."

            The cocksucker stuck the cigarette between his lips and lit it.  He exhaled, dropped the lighter, and in one fluid motion, grabbed the handle of the switchblade and wrenched it from his chest.

            "Ahhhh fuck!"

            Blood spurted from the wound like a hellish fountain, bringing a painful smile to her face.  He dropped the blade and threw his hand over the wound, stumbling sideways.

            She couldn't fuck around.  She needed to end this fucking bastard before he decided to kill her first.  She had a Glock under the mattress.  She normally likes to pick her victims apart using less traditional methods, but she had to get this guy immobilized first, then they could play.  She jumped up, feeling the ache in her side, goddam busted rib or two no doubt, and she'd make him pay all right. She managed to pull the gun from its hiding place, but the fuck was on her again.  She wasn't going to blindly shoot, not if she didn't want the police showing up.  She clutched the gun to her side as he collided into her, knocking them both into the bureau.  This time the TV took the fall, landing with a thud in the kitty-corner space behind the furniture.

            "You think you're gonna put a bullet in me, huh?"  He grabbed her wrists and twisted it until the gun fell.  "I was gonna fuck you one more time for good meas--"

            She head-butted him in the nose, bringing a fresh coat of blood to the party.

            "Fucking cunt..."

            She followed up with a knee to his balls and a right hook to his face.  She snatched the gun as he hit the floor, grabbed the pillow from the bed using it as a cheap silencer, though the devil knew it was gonna still be loud as fuck, and popped the asshole in the knee.

            He howled again.  She brought her leg up and dropped her hell onto his already busted nose.

            Naked below the waist, Veronica snagged a bottle of Jim Bean from the mini-fridge, took two big swallows, and slammed it down on the tiny table below the window.  The burn in her wounded lips made her knees weak.  She gritted her teeth and breathed through it.  "This was supposed to be a bit more routine," she said, "but... you have definitely made things interesting, I'll give you that."

            "If you're not gonna off me, you wanna give me some of that booze?  Or are you just gonna try and talk my ear off through that pretty little mess you call a mouth?"

            He was a fierce little fucker, she'd give him that.  Hell, she'd be full of shit if she didn't admit to almost liking him for it.  She grabbed the bottle and walked over to him.

            His shirt was soaked with blood.  His beautiful face looked even better dressed in ruin.

            "You want this?"  She held the half-empty bottle above his disaster of a knee.

            "Yeah, I do."

            She tilted the bottle and let the auburn remedy pour onto his leg.

            It was his turn to grit his teeth.  He laid back, slamming his hands on the ground, grunting, the cords in his neck taught, pushing against his crimson painted neck.

            "Oh,  you're gorgeous when you're hurting.  Here."  She handed him the booze.  He sat up and took it with shaky hands.  Guzzling it down like a man lost in the desert.

             She reached down, grabbing the pack of smokes poking out of his jacket pocket.  She was blindsided by the bottle as it crashed against her skull.

            She dropped down, sprawled out beside him, the world around her disconnected, drifting out ins pace, muffled and muted.

            "You're good, honey, but overconfidence can kill ya."  She heard his voice like it was broadcasting from some far off planet... her ears were ringing, she might have a goddam concussion.  Worse than any fucking hangover.  Her world returned to full color as she managed to roll over on her side.  He took another swig and set the bottle down next to her and nodded.

            She sat up and took it.

            "You're one tough cookie.  You do this sort of thing regularly?  Or is this some kind of one-off-lost-all-my-reason-to-give-a-shit-so-I'm-going-out-with-a-bang type of gig?"

            "It's more of an annual thing."

            She took a swallow, clenched her eyes against the pain, and handed it back to him.

            He pulled out two cigarettes from the crushed pack; they were kind of cock-eyed, but still intact.  He found his lighter on the floor and lit them together, handing one over.

            "You believe in anything?" he said.

            She thought of her sister, bald and fading away.

            "Death," she said.

            He nodded.  "Hard to argue with that one."

            "You?"

            "Might sound stupid."

            "Fuck you.  Spill."

            "True love."

            She was too tired to laugh.  And frankly, she felt it, too.  It wasn't often that the universe, that cruel hard bitch who loved to suck the souls out of the living, threw a set of broken people something fucked up and beautiful to share.

            "If I come over there and kiss that bloody mouth of yours, are you gonna whack me with that bottle again?" she said.

            "That depends.  You gonna put that gun to my head 'til it goes click?"

            She hadn't even realized the gun was still in her hand.

            "Guess this is our first trust test."

            He made an effort to get closer to her, wincing from his multiple wounds.

            "Fuck off," she said.  She crawled over to him, gun in hand, shoved him flat on his back, and straddled him.  That old Aerosmith song played in her mind.  Back in the saddle again.  He let go of the bottle of Beam, and closed his eyes.

            She put the gun to his temple.

            "Mr. Pete?"

            "Yeah, Miss V?"

            "I think this is the start of the most incredible fucked up love story in American history."

            She knew it was gonna hurt like hell, but she kissed him anyway.

            When the coppery taste of their lips parted, she laid her hand on the unblemished side of his chest and gently traced her finger around the initial knife wound.

            "We're gonna need to get up and get the fuck outta here soon."

            "You got a place in mind?"

            "I'm supposed to be back in California in two weeks.  I was thinking a cold-blooded road trip sounded pretty stellar."

            He kissed the top of her head.

            "To death," he said.

            She closed her eyes and grinned.

            "To true fucking love.  Merry fucking Christmas."


THE END... for now.

About the author:
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England.  He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.  He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl.  He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.
            He is the author of the novellas Abram's BridgeBoom Town, and the forthcoming, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain.  His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, was released in March, 2016.
            He is hard at work on many more.  Stay tuned!