Thursday, 31 May 2012

Childhood Nightmares Anthology Book Tour

“Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed”
 from Sirens Call Publications

What creeps and crawls, and stalks the dark hallways of a child’s overactive imagination in the wee hours of the night? Twelve different authors offer us a taste of what might be lurking in the deepest recesses of a child’s nightmare ridden world - each a unique take on a story of horror spun from their own minds.

Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.
We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?
Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again...
Tell us, who is Under the Bed?

Contributing Authors:  Colin F. Barnes, Nina D'Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller,
Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott,
Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen

Look for ‘Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed’ at:  
                       (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)

 A small sampling of the excerpts from “Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed”,
and a link to a downloadable preview featuring all twelve authors:

‘Excess Baggage’ - Lisamarie Lamb
“And now Nigel could see someone. A small, round man in a pair of white trousers and a deep blue shirt, sweat circles staining his underarms, his stomach straining the buttons running down his chest, down his stomach. The man’s curly dark hair rippled in the sunlight as he bobbed his head up and down. He was peering out of a small gap between two houses. He was smiling, beckoning to Nigel; and when Nigel moved towards him his smile became a grin, all teeth and harmless joviality.
Nigel went to the man against his better judgment. He went against his worst judgment, feeling strangely calm about it all, despite thinking he had wandered far too far, into a bad area. Into the sort of area a tourist shouldn’t go. And he had been caught. He felt rather stupid about the whole thing, and rather sad about leaving Maggie and Bob. But there was a certain inevitability about it all.
Even if Nigel couldn’t quite remember why…”

‘Baby Teeth’  - Kim Krodel
She adds every tooth she gets to her disgusting smile.  But the screws keep growing out of her gums.  She never runs out of space for more teeth.”
“Why does she want them?”  Brian’s voice was small.  His eyes bugged, as if the skeletons stacked in God’s closet were tumbling out at his feet.
“For biting, Dummy.  She likes to eat little kids.”  Cal grinned as he spoke.  "If she bites you with her screws, your skin gets stuck to 'em, so she likes teeth better; so she doesn't have to floss so much."
“No, she doesn’t.  She’s nice—she gives presents!  Mom said!”
“That’s what Mom wants you to think.  Otherwise you’d freak out about it.”
Brian blinked, staring and processing; weighing his brother’s words against those he had gathered from adults.
“See this?”  Cal rolled up a pant leg to reveal a jagged run of lumpy, silver skin.  “She bit me hard the first tooth I lost ‘cause I didn’t know what was coming.  Now I’m big enough to fight her off.”  Calvin posed like a weight-lifter…”

 ‘Madeleine’ - Julianne Snow
Still nothing. No tell-tale shuffling sound of socked feet on the hardwood floor.
Nothing… Where was she? How could she have not heard?
With tears streaming down her cherubic face, Stella wondered if her dream had come true. As she debated running the short distance over the oaken surface to her parent’s room, she listened intently for the sounds of her mother’s imminent stirring.
Stella heard the soft sounds of her mother’s footfalls in the hallway. She was coming.
More tears welled up in her young throat.
As her door burst open, she was surprised to see the form of her sister in the light of the hallway, a smell pervading the room unlike anything she had ever smelled before. Burnt. Wet…”

Please visit the Sirens Call Publications web site for an extended preview available for download.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Excerpt from 22 Bones

Then he reached out to touch it, the skull, his heart telling him in Morse code that the thing was bound to snap his fingers off, that those vicious harmless teeth would clamp and chomp his flesh, but he kept going anyway. And when he touched it (and didn’t lose any appendages), he laughed a little because it was just the porcelain he should have been expecting. It couldn’t sensibly have been anything else and he was surprised at himself for believing – however fleetingly – that it might have been bone. And, sensibly, he thought that it had to belong to one of the kids. He’d find out in the morning. At breakfast. He’d put it on the kitchen table and he’d soon know who it belonged to. He was a detective after all. In the meantime he smiled at it, raised a glass to it and drank to its health even if, considering it was a skull, he’d rather missed the boat on that one. He laughed again, relaxing, puffing away at the cigar, and got back to work.

By the time his wife had called him twice he was pretty much done anyway and he left the room, forgetting completely about the skull and only remembering again when he found himself in the kitchen washing out his ashtray and his shot glass. Damn it. He’d meant to put it on the kitchen table to surprise them all in the morning. Not to worry. He’d get it later, have a proper look at it at the same time. And tomorrow, as they laughed over their scrambled eggs and cereal at the silly thing, and Gil got his phrenology bust back from wherever they had hidden it, he would gently remind them all – wife Cheryl included – that no one was supposed to go into his office because there were important, private, things in there. He had rules, but he wasn’t one of these over strict fathers. If he had to he’d lock the office, but that was a last resort. He’d seen too many breakdowns and break ups come from the fall out of spying. He had caused a lot of them. So he’d rather leave it alone. A locked door was a magnet for wrongdoing.   

But almost as soon as the thought of showing off the skull came into his head it was gone again, simply slipping through his memory and then gone, leaving nothing behind but a vague idea that there was something he was going to do. But since he couldn’t remember it and he normally had such an excellent memory, Gil surmised that it couldn’t have been important in the first place and settled down with Cheryl for dinner and to watch nothing much on TV.
The next morning, breakfast came and went without incident. Although something was still nagging at Gil’s brain, wheedling and needling inside his head – something about teeth, was it? Or his eyes? – it didn’t come up in conversation. He saw Cheryl off with the kids on the school run, washed up the breakfast things, and took his just delivered paper into his office with a cup of coffee fresh from the pot. Just as he always did when he was working from home. Nothing strange there except for the vague niggling in his skull… Skull. Gil remembered as he opened the door to his office.

©Lisamarie Lamb 2012 

This story, along with 13 others, appears in my short story collection, Some Body's At The Door. It is available through and in both Kindle and paperback editions. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Published: Alfie Dog

I wrote a short story a little while ago. It was called 'Are We Nearly There Yet?' and it was about a little boy stuck in a car in a traffic jam with his bickering parents.

I liked the story, but I didn't really know what to do with it. It wasn't quite right for a magazine, it didn't have a particular genre, it was just a (perhaps slightly exaggerated) life study. So I kept it in a folder and checked on it every now and then.

Yes, it was still there.

No, I still didn't know where to send it.

Return and repeat.

But then I saw a post in a Facebook writers' group about a new website called Alfie Dog. The editors were looking for stories - no theme or genre in particular, just good, interesting tales - to place on the website. The idea behind gathering all these stories together was to create a virtual book shop, from where customers could download short stories for just a few pence. They could have them as a pdf, mobi (for Kindle), or ePub format, and they could buy as many or as few as they wanted.

It sounded intriguing. And, as much as I love print, and enjoy seeing my work in a physical magazine or book, I decided to give it a shot. I sent 'Are We Nearly There Yet?'. I believe I may even have managed to join the 21st century in hitting that submit button!

The response was fast and useful. The editor, Rosemary Kind, had enjoyed the story, but she had a few comments and she suggested a few changes. She came across as knowledgeable and friendly, and I happily did as I was asked. I have to say, the story is better for it now.

As you may have guessed, the story was accepted. My first foray into being an actual online writer was complete, and it was successful. You can download the story here, and if you do I hope you enjoy it.

As a bonus, I contacted the local paper, the Sheerness Times Guardian, to let them know what I was up to. They were interested enough to interview me and send a photographer, and I certainly enjoyed my moment in the sun!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Poem: Are You Scared Yet?

Are You Scared Yet?

Someone’s coming for you, my dear,
As you hide under the covers
And tremble in fear.
Are those footsteps that you can hear?
Tell me, are you scared yet?

There’s something coming up the stairs,
So you close your eyes
And whisper your prayers.
It’s the thing that lives in your nightmares.
Listen – are you scared yet?

Is that door creaking or in your head?
You’re wide awake
As you lie in bed.
You cannot move; you feel like lead.
Come on, aren’t you scared yet?

A shadow is growing across the wall,
And you stare at it
As you watch it fall.
You hope to God that it’s nothing at all,
And He asks, “Are you scared yet?”

Something’s breathing beside the bed,
But you cannot see,
You’ve covered your head.
Still you know it’s there, because it said,
“Child, are you scared yet?”

©Lisamarie Lamb 2012 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Why is writing like a cookery lesson?

This week I had a cooking lesson in a professional kitchen in a restaurant. My parents bought me the lesson as a gift for my birthday last year, and I finally got around to booking a date.

I'd been nervous about doing it. I'd been nervous about even picking up the phone and booking it. What would they need to know? Would they ask what I wanted to cook? I had no idea! There was nothing I had a burning desire to know how to create. Just something. Something good. Something that, if possible, other people might like too.

If I'm honest, I didn't feel as though I knew enough about cookery, about food, about ingredients, to even manage a decent discussion about it all. So I kept putting if off.

Again and again, the voucher came to the top of my 'to do' pile. Again and again, I put it back at the bottom.

But a few weeks ago I was in a doing mood. I wanted to clear my desk, as far as I could. There was so much paper all over it, so many things outstanding. The cookery lesson was one of them. And before I could change my mind, I grabbed the phone, dialled the number... and it was done.

Andre, the chef, was friendly, and happily chatted through ideas, suggesting this and that, and I agreed to all of it, not just because I didn't know what else I would do if I said no, but also because it all sounded delicious - twice baked Parmesan souffle with a cream sauce, cherry smoked honey glazed duck breast with ana potatoes and chargrilled courgettes, and finally a chocolate tart with an espresso creme anglais.

The lesson came around quickly. I worried about this and that, fretted over silly things - where would I park? What would I say? What if it went wrong? - but I got there. I made it. And I really enjoyed myself in the end.

Two and a half hours went by in seconds, and I loved every moment. The food was delicious, and I've got the tools and recipes to do it again, on my own.

It wasn't until I was driving home that I realised how much like writing this cookery lesson really was.

Bear with me, I know it seems strange, but think about this...

I was scared to start. I didn't know how to begin, I didn't know what words to use, I had no idea about what I wanted to end up with, only the vague thought that it should be good. And that I should be able to share it.

Well, surely that is like the blank page? You want to write a story, a novel, a poem... You want to write something. Just like creating a menu, the idea must be mulled over, picked about, made the best it can be. At the very least the ingredients should be decided upon. Perhaps like me you've opened that empty page and stared at it until it becomes so frustrating that you can't stand it any longer and just start to write. You just dive in with no plan - no recipe. And then, how many times have you become stuck, and abandoned the whole thing halfway through because you've lost your direction?

I agree that there are times when just grabbing at ingredients (or words) and throwing them together can create something interesting and special and really rather good. And that's fine. That's great. But recreating it is going to be tricky. With no recipe or plan, success could well be a one off. If people have enjoyed the thrown together story or meal, wonderful. That's a fantastic thing. But what if they want more? That's the point, to make them search you out, find your stuff, devour it. You want to be able to do it again and again.

Not only that - doing it the hard way takes a long time. Which is fine if time is what you have. But I don't. I don't have a second to spare when it comes to writing, so I have to make it count.

In the kitchen, it was only when everything was prepared - recipes read through, lists made, ingredients weighed, measured, chopped and whisked - that we began to cook. There was no panic, nothing was missing, no one burned anything or forget anything or wasted anything.

And although the lesson was two and a half hours long, we worked the whole time, efficiently. Moments were taken to taste, to re-season or add extra this and that (to edit, you might say), and then we got on with making the food - writing the story.

If we had waited until we had started to prepare food to find ingredients, to get the right equipment in the right place, those two and a half hours would have been manic, stressful, and rushed. The end product would not have been as good as it could have been.

We would have been disappointed, and no one would have come back for more.

So for me, since I have very little spare time in which to write, writing is like a cookery lesson. Plan, prepare, be calm, and only when you're really ready, go for it.