The Dark Carnival

The Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror Reaches #1!

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Horror, Pen and Muse news, The Dark Carnival, Writing | 3 comments

The Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror Reaches #1!

A wonderful thing happened today. A wonderful, amazing, totally rockin’ thing… Let me give you a few hints… It involves clowns, things that eat people, and pure evil It involves ghosts and possessions It’s not something that should be read alone in the dark… That’s right! The Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror became #1 on Amazon today in it’s category. We’ve been watching for weeks as it sat at #2, waiting patiently behind works like H.P. Lovecraft. And today we surpassed H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King to make #1! Woohoo! Here it is in all of its glory!     I feel so honored to be a part of this anthology and to have been able to work with such talented authors and illustrators. I’m humbled beyond belief. I feel especially excited because this is the first published work that Pen and Muse Press has ever put out and it’s a best seller! Woohoo! Here are the current working for the Dark Carnival (which look pretty darn good)! #1in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Anthologies & Literature Collections > Horror #2in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Anthologies #8in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Anthologies Well-deserved thanks goes to… With that said, we just want to thank every last one of you who made this possible. Special shout out to Kristen Jett, Jessi Shakarian, and Meghan Schuler for their special behind the scenes work. An additional thank you is due to our fantastic contributors: Kristen Strassel, Meghan Schuler, Claire C. Riley, J. Elizabeth Hill, Jessi Esparza, Debra Kristi, Ryan Bartlett, Michelle Ceasar Davis, Brian LeTendre, Ken Mooney, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, Lucas Hargis, Kat Daemon, T.A. Brock, Calyn Morgan, Emily McKeon, Gregory Carrico, Kristin Hanson, Nicole R. Taylor, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Brian W. Taylor, Kate Michael, Ezekiel Conrad, Jamie Adams, Bobby Solomons, Mark Matthews, Jamie Corrigan, Kristin Rivers, Kristen Jett, Sheila Hall, Suzy G, Kim Culpepper, Ruth Shedwick, J.C. Michael, Wulf Francu Godgluck, Ashly Nagrant, Amy Trueblood, Vanessa Henderson, Tawney Bland, Julie Hutchings and Stevan Knapp. Without all of you this wouldn’t be possible! And a thank you to you! Thank you to everyone who participated in reading the Dark Carnival showcase, encouraged our authors and illustrators, anyone who has followed this blog or tweeted us, and thank you to every single person who has bought a copy. You rock!   Get a Copy Today (Or Add it to Goodreads!) Here are the bazzillion places you can get a copy depending on the country you live in or where you prefer to shop!   Add it to your Goodreads! Smashwords Amazon USA Amazon IN Amazon UK Amazon DE Amazon FR Amazon ES Amazon IT Amazon JP Amazon BR Amazon CA Amazon MX Amazon AU   Did I mention that any money earned from these sales are going to charity? So what are you waiting for? It’s less than a coffee. It’s less than most packs of gum!   Congratulations again to all of our hard working authors, editors, and cover designer Cara!   Much love and creeptastic...

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Dark Carnival Horror Anthology: Cover Reveal

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in The Dark Carnival, Writing | 1 comment

Dark Carnival Horror Anthology: Cover Reveal

If you’re a Pen & Muse regular, you may recall last October being a first for us. We opened up our site to our readers – allowing their writing and illustrations to be showcased here. It’s one thing to hear comments from our readers, and another to see their writing – and the community we’ve built here. We could have left it at that. But we didn’t. We offered to create an anthology of the pieces submitted, with edits and suggestions from us, and the response was way more exciting than we could have imagined. Some of these authors have been published before – and for some, it’s the first time in the rodeo. Today….we release the cover. Introducing: DARK CARNIVAL.   Dark Carnival : A Pen & Muse Press Horror Anthology   Blurb: In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It’s The Dark Carnival. And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise that anyone can leave…alive.   Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley. *Final lineup subject to change   We’d like to thank the amazing design genius C. Elizabeth Vescio for the fantastic cover design, everyone who participated in Dark Carnival, and of course…everyone who followed the Dark Carnival last year. The Dark Carnival cover has been revealed! Do you dare give it a peek? Click To Tweet I got my ticket to the Dark Carnival – did you? #coverreveal Click To Tweet   If you’re participating in the Dark Carnival blog blitz or you want to enjoy the ride, here are the stops below! Book Blitz 10/1 – 10/8 10/1 Ruth Shedwick This Writer’s World & Plot Bunnies J. Elizabeth Hill Severed Limb Movement Michelle Cable Deadly Ever After Bran Writes 10/2 Fabulous and Fun Fang Freakingtastic Reviews Calyn Morgan Jessica Harvey Writes Marlene Moss Lucas Hargis 10/3 Wulf Twisted Book Junkie Jennifer Brinkmeyer 10/4 Brewed Bohemian Miss Riki 10/6 Debra Kristi Shen Hart Brian LeTendre 10/7 Kate Michaels Twinning for Twins 10/8 Absentee Blogger Descent into Slushland T.A. Brock Books Mari Wells Mark Matthews...

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The Dark Carnival Anthology: Cover Reveal & Book Blitz Sign Up

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Horror, Pen and Muse news, The Dark Carnival, Writing | 1 comment

The Dark Carnival Anthology: Cover Reveal & Book Blitz Sign Up

Last week we did something exciting. We approved the finalized cover of the Dark Carnival Anthology. The fantastic author and graphic designer extraordinaire Cara Vescio designed the cover — and it’s no less than incredible. Man, we are lucky! If you’re looking for an affordable and creative graphic designer, there really is no need to look any farther than her. This anthology came about after having a writer and illustrator showcase last October that had around 80 contributing artists and authors. It was so popular and wonderfully dark and creative, we wanted to compile it in an e-book for all to read and carry on their e-readers. For a list of the contributors, click here.   About the Dark Carnival In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It is the Dark Carnival. And when the Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise that anyone can leave…alive. Authors include Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, and many more. Illustrators include Ryan Bartlett.   Be A Part of the Cover Reveal & Book Blitz We’d love to have YOUR help in celebrating the cover reveal! Sign up to help reveal the cover of the Dark Carnival Anthology this September and the blog blitz this October. Once you sign up, you’ll receive an email with everything you need to help reveal the cover of the Dark Carnival anthology before the reveal date. You do not have to do both of them. But we’d love to have your help in any way! Cover reveal: 09/29/14 Blog blitz: 10/01/14 – 10/07/14   SIGN UP TO REVEAL THE COVER & BLOG BLITZ HERE   We are so excited to have so many fantastic authors, illustrators, readers, and supporters, &  ...

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Introducing: The Haunted House Writer & Illustrator Showcase – Sign up Now!

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in PM Haunt: The Haunted House, The Dark Carnival, Writing | 2 comments

Introducing: The Haunted House Writer & Illustrator Showcase – Sign up Now!

Last year Pen & Muse kicked off our first ever writer and illustrator showcase, called The Dark Carnival. It was a HUGE hit and we were honored to have almost 100 different authors and illustrators participate. In case you want to reminisce or read the horror stories from last year, you can find them here. They are exquisite, if I do say so myself. In fact, we’re also publishing many of those illustrations and stories in an anthology this October. You can already add it on Goodreads! It’s that time again folks! Though it’s still summer, October is just around the corner. Kristen, Jessi, and I sat down trying to figure out what theme we could possibly come up with that would be just as fantastic as The Dark Carnival. And then the lightbulbs turned on in our brains and we did it! We had the theme! It was perfect! The 2014 Pen & Muse October Writer & Illustrator showcase theme is… THE HAUNTED HOUSE The Haunted House Details Illustrators / artists – Artwork can be done in any medium. Art pieces must involve a haunted house in some way, though those are the only guidelines. It doesn’t matter if it’s inside, outside, one room, etc. Use your imagination! Any and all illustrators / artists are welcome. Must be original work. Must be able to send in a high resolution picture or scan of image. We are willing to include any information for the piece and buy links. Art must be sent in by September 1st, 2014. Authors / Writers – Stories must revolve around a haunted house in some way. We’re hoping for the same creepy, macabre, spine chilling fun as last year but we’re not making any rules other than it must involve a haunted house. Stories must be between 1000 to 4000 words and must be original pieces. All genres and all writers welcome. Short stories must be sent in by September 1st, 2014. Note: Unlike last year, we are limiting the showcase to only 50 artists and illustrators. So it’s first come, first serve my friends! That said, if you want to participate, please do not wait to sign up. *Also, we are hoping to get many art pieces this year, just like last year so please let your artsy friends know about this!* Stories and illustrations will be shared throughout the month of October. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE HAUNTED HOUSE WRITER & ILLUSTRATOR SHOWCASE Sign up, write your heart out, and get ready to be freaky with it.           *Picture of the haunted house was found...

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The Dark Carnival: Nothing But Net by Brian W. Taylor

Posted by on Nov 2, 2013 in Horror, The Dark Carnival | 0 comments

The Dark Carnival: Nothing But Net by Brian W. Taylor

You’ve dared return to the Dark Carnival. How brave, yet foolish! Today, I can’t guarantee you’ll make it out alive. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #DarkCarnival. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!   Nothing But Net by Brian W. Taylor   For Jolene and Kristen, a muse by any other name would not be as inspiring. Corey Johnson checked his watch for what felt like the thousandth time. Fifteen minutes until the carnival closed. Finally. He wouldn’t have even come if it wasn’t for Will—his brother’s best friend. The guy was a solid wall of muscle who had played power forward before graduating this past summer. It was the same date Corey’s brother, Roderick, should have graduated too. They passed the Tilt-A-Whirl as the last of the patrons exited. One guy stumbled on shaky legs, apparently dizzy. It had been Roddy’s favorite. The realization was like a punch to Corey’s gut. “Man,” Will said, as if feeling the same sensation, “I wish your brother was here.” Corey walked on, his head and heart elsewhere. “He was the best basketball player our state had seen in a long time. Maybe ever,” Will continued. “Yeah,” Corey agreed. “I miss him. Being here on the anniversary of his disappearance was a bad idea.” Will gave him a playful push. “What’s the matter, Mr. Hot Shot, you too good to honor your brother’s memory by having some fun at his favorite carnival? I saw you flirting with that community college chick. Your brother would have been happy.” They walked past the funnel cake stand. The mouthwatering aroma of fried dough hung in the air like a sugary mist. Corey inhaled deeply knowing his brother would have made them stop to get one. Tinkling music sailed on the autumn breeze as an ancient carousel slowed before jerking to a stop a short distance away. A kid from Corey’s school—Dave Neiderman–wrapped his arm around a blonde underclassman. They were sharing a box of popcorn and staring intently into each other’s eyes. If only she knew about Dave’s other girlfriend. “I don’t see how this is honoring Roddy? I mean, we stay here all night pretending he’s still alive…then what?” Corey motioned around the tent lined perimeter of the carnival. “It’s not like we’ll find him here playing games or pigging out on funnel cake.” “Shut up, Corey. Don’t say that. Don’t even think it.” Corey shoved his friend hard enough to knock him back a few steps. Everyone always walked on egg shells around him. A guy could only take so much. “Don’t say what? That Roddy’s probably dead? That some drunken hillbilly probably ran him down after the carnival last year because he couldn’t pick out the shape of a black kid walking down the side of a dimly lit road?” Will opened his mouth but snapped it shut and glared for a long moment. “He’s not dead. You’re his brother for Christ’s sake. How can you say that?” “You saw the way folks treated him—how they treat me now. They only tolerate me because I can ball. Without me our team—this town–would be a joke. The only reason I stayed was for Roddy. He’s gone. It’s time for everyone else to move on too.” Will moved closer and pulled Corey into his meaty arms. “It’s okay, bro. I miss him too.” Corey didn’t want to cry but he did. Right there in front of all...

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The Dark Carnival: A Seat for Every Soul by Amy Trueblood & illustration from Vanessa Henderson

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in Horror, Reading, The Dark Carnival, Writing | 1 comment

The Dark Carnival: A Seat for Every Soul by Amy Trueblood & illustration from Vanessa Henderson

  You’ve dared return to the Dark Carnival. How brave, yet foolish! Today, I can’t guarantee you’ll make it out alive. You can see the live list of participants and their posts dates on this link.   Follow the buzz on twitter using the official hashtag #DarkCarnival. Oh, and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!   A Seat for Every Soul Illustration  by Vanessa Henderson   A Seat for Every Soul  by Amy Trueblood   It’s not every day you get asked to hide a pair of bolt cutters in your pants. Bryan looked at me with his pleading baby blues, and I couldn’t say no. That was the problem with Bryan and me. I could never say no. “Hey Tatum, steal that pack of gum for me. I’ll need minty fresh breath when we make out later.” Or even better, “Tatum, honey, it’s okay, your mom won’t notice the twenty missing from her wallet. I’ll pay her back later.” Yeah, right. I wished I could say no to him. I’d tried several times, but when he slid his muscled arms around my full waist, and pulled me tight against his chest, that one tiny word flew right out of my head. I mean what other boy who looked like an Abercrombie model would date me? I wasn’t like the other toothpick girls at school with legs that went on for miles and hair that had perfect “beachy” waves. I’d always been thick like my mom, and no amount of dieting or exercising had changed that. “Psst, Tatum, let’s go,” Bryan called. I took his callused hand in mine and snuck around the outer gate of the fairgrounds. We weren’t supposed to be here. Rumors said a couple was murdered behind one of the exposition tents last month. Police surrounded the place for weeks and found nothing. Murmurs around town said security had to haul away four people who claimed to be possessed after spending time in the funhouse. It was all total crap. The truth was the owners went bankrupt and took off in the middle of the night leaving everything behind: tents, games, even the rides. The site was abandoned, and the city still didn’t know what to do with it. Randy and Marie, Bryan’s friends since childhood scooted along behind us. They would stop every few steps to swallow each other’s faces before realizing we were too far ahead and scrambled to catch up. “Won’t we get in trouble if we get caught?” Marie squeaked. She was so small I swore her jeans were a children’ssize 12,and her voice was one octave higher than Tinkerbell’s. Randy snatched her by the belt loop and dragged her toward him. “Don’t worry, babe. I won’t let the cops take you.” He bent down to snuggle her neck, and I tried not to vomit. We walked along the fence, and I stared into thedark looking for security guards or dogs with sharp teeth. Bryan claimed the guy at the liquor store told him the city was too cheap to pay for security, so they just chained and locked the gates. I didn’t believe him until now. The only things in the shadows were old napkins and cups that rolled around every time the wind blew in our direction. “Down here,” Bryan whispered, motioning to the far end of the fence. He grasped a wide steel padlock and yanked on it several times. “Just what I thought.” An impish grin danced across his face.”Bolt cutters.” His voice was serious like a doctor asking for a scalpel. He even laid out...

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