By Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna
This is an excerpt from Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, presented by Black Gate magazine. It appears with the permission of Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and may not be reproduced in whole or in part. All rights reserved. Copyright 2017 Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna.
Nikki, Jack and their three companions have reached the destination of their third and final quest. The Wand they are looking for was transformed by Wishbone into a Halloween mask, in order to keep it safe. As they enter the Cave of Spooks to retrieve the mask, they are unaware that Hobgoblin and Ebenezer Rex, who murdered the three Wishmothers, are close on their heels. . . .
Cave of Spooks
Nikki, Jack and their three companions rode their bicycles past Pixieland but didn’t have time to stop to enjoy the amazing sights and attractions. They were on a mission. Come midnight, they would not be able to open another Ectomagic Gate, which meant that Nikki and Jack couldn’t return home until next October. It was already late in the afternoon as they rode their bicycles over hills, through marshlands and still more back roads and forest paths. But this final part of their journey was becoming more and more difficult because the underbrush was growing thicker and all tangled with roots and vines.
“Are we almost there?” Jack asked. “It’s getting harder and harder to ride our bikes through this forest. Pretty soon we won’t be able to ride them at all!”
“We’re here,” Wishbone said just as they emerged from the woods.
They came to a stop in a clearing not far from the edge of a deep chasm that resembled a huge hole in the ground right there in the middle of the forest. Rising straight from the bottom of the chasm was a gigantic stone pillar, and on top of that sat a great dome, with a dark cave facing them. Spanning the chasm stretched a sturdy but narrow footbridge leading directly to the cave. The bridge was tied securely with rope to four wooden posts driven into the ground. Beyond the far side of the chasm stood more dense forest, with trees so tall they almost touched the sky.
“There it is,” said Wishbone, “the Cave of Spooks.”
“I don’t like the looks of it,” said Jack.
“Me, neither,” said Catman.
“I have a very bad feeling about this place,” Ghoulina whispered.
Nikki didn’t like the sound of that. She’d seen too many scary movies where bad things always happened to the characters whenever one of them said something like that. Nevertheless, she walked over to the foot of the bridge and gave it a close inspection.
“Looks like we’ll have to leave the bikes here and cross the bridge on foot,” she said. “The wheels will get stuck between the floorboards or whatever you call those things if we try to ride across.”
“Yes,” said Wishbone, “and we’ll have to be very quiet when we cross the bridge.”
“Well, Mister Wishbone, before we go across I want to know more about these Spooks that live there,” said Jack.
“There’s not much to tell you,” said Wishbone. “Long ago a band of rebellious ghosts refused to live in Wormbelow. They wanted a place of their own. Then, one October night, they snuck into your world and stole hundreds of Halloween costumes from different department stores, so they could dress up as different characters. But then their leader, Lord Rattlegrim, discovered that whenever they wore the Halloween costumes, the magic of your world turned them into solid creatures. They weren’t ghosts anymore: they had real flesh and blood and bones.”
“Just like us, Mister Wishbone?” Jack asked.
“Just like you,” Wishbone replied. “That’s why they’re called Spooks, because when they wear their costumes they have bodies, and they’re no longer ghosts.”
Nikki found this interesting and a little disturbing, too. But as always, her curious mind had questions she wanted to be answered. “What happens if they take off their costumes?” she asked.
“They turn back into ghosts,” Wishbone told her.
“So how did they end of up here?” Nikki asked.
“When the Trinity of Wishmothers found out what Rattlegrim and his rebels had done, they banished the Spooks to this cave, to remain here forever,” said Wishbone. “But remember, the Wishmothers are kind and merciful, so they gave them one night a year when they can leave and enjoy themselves in Creepy Hollow, as long as they harmed no one.”
“That’s why there’s a bridge here,” said Catman. “The Spooks can’t float across the chasm when they’re wearing their costumes because they have physical bodies. So they need the bridge, just as we do. But if they take off their costumes, they can’t leave the cave. And they never take off their costumes because they don’t like being ghosts.”
Wishbone nodded. “Exactly, my friend,” he said.
“Did you see them when you hid the last Wand here?” Ghoulina asked Wishbone.
“Yes, I did,” he said to her. “But they kept to the shadows and did not bother me.”
“Because you were the powerful Silver Skeleton then, and they were afraid of you!” Jack said to Wishbone.
“Right you are, Jack,” Wishbone said sadly, and with a heavy sigh.
“So what do we do now?” Nikki asked.
“We proceed cautiously and try very hard not to anger the Spooks,” Wishbone replied.
Nikki swallowed the lump in her throat. “Will our flashlights help us if they come after us?” she asked.
“No,” said Wishbone. “The Spooks fear only two things: losing their costumes, and fire. They are very afraid of fire.”
“What happens if they lose their costumes or they catch fire?” Nikki wanted to know.
“Without their costumes, the Spooks turn back into normal ghosts that can float through the air,” said Wishbone.
“But then they can’t leave their cave,” said Jack. “I get it.” He put a hand inside one of his pockets and stared at the Cave of Spooks. I’ll have to remember both of those things, he thought.
“Well, I’ve had enough of the history lesson,” Ghoulina said impatiently. “Let’s hurry up and get this over with so we can get back to Wormbelow before it gets dark.”
They started walking across the bridge one by one. Nikki didn’t like heights and would not look down; she kept her gaze focused on the cave at the other side of the bridge. Jack, however, kept staring down into the deep chasm, enjoying every minute of it but wishing that his cell phone worked so he could take pictures in case he saw anything weird and cool.
The five companions reached the other side of the bridge without any difficulties and stood together at the entrance to the dark Cave of Spooks. No sounds or smells came from inside the cave. Although they saw a soft, green light illuminating the interior just beyond the entrance, the light did not reach the mouth of the cave and couldn’t be seen from outside.
“How are we going to do this?” Nikki asked.
“You, Catman and I will lead the way in,” Wishbone replied. “Jack, you stay behind us, and Ghoulina will bring up the rear.”
“Why am I always the last in line?” Ghoulina asked with a wink and a laugh.
“How come I’m always stuck in the middle?” Jack whined.
Quietly, slowly and carefully, they entered the cave and proceeded down a tunnel illuminated by soft, emerald green light. Soon they discovered that the light came from the stones built into the walls and ceiling.
“Look at all the boxes!” Jack said in a quiet but no less excited voice.
Piled along the tunnel walls on both sides of them were hundreds and hundreds of boxes.
Many were opened and empty, but many more still contained costumes of all kinds: superheroes, pirates and villains, characters from famous horror movies, and aliens from outer space.
“These Spooks must be master thieves,” Catman purred.
“The best in the business,” said Wishbone.
“Any sign of them? The Spooks, I mean,” said Nikki. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck standing straight up, and her arms were covered in goosebumps. The things they had encountered in Red Crow Forest and in the Tower of Shadows had taught her to be more cautious and wary… and more afraid, too.
“Nope,” said Catman, his bright golden eyes reflecting the cave’s green light.
Ghoulina looked around. “So where did you hide the mask, Wishbone?” she asked.
“I hid the Wand in an empty box, just up ahead,” he replied.
They walked deeper into the tunnel until it opened into a huge chamber all softly lit by the emerald glow radiating from the stone interior of the cave.
“Tell me which box to look in,” Nikki told Wishbone. She was eager to find the disguised Wand and get out of that cave as fast as possible.
“There, to your left,” said Wishbone. “Third stack of boxes, fourth box in the pile.”
While Catman and Ghoulina kept watch, Nikki and Jack dug through the pile of costume boxes until they found the one Wishbone had pointed out. Nikki grabbed the box and held it while Jack opened it.
“Look, it’s a pumpkin head!” Jack said, removing the plastic mask from the box.
“It’s called a Jack O’Lantern, Jack,” Nikki told him.
“I knew that,” he said.
“Fine, now put it in my backpack so we can all get out of this spooky cave,” Nikki said in a voice louder than she had intended.
Jack hid the mask inside his cousin’s backpack and was snapping the top of it shut when the green light grew brighter. Then, from out of the shadows at the far end of the cave emerged a large number of menacing figures, each of them wearing a Halloween costume. There were robots and zombies, cartoon characters and famous monsters such as vampires, mummies, and werewolves.
“Uh-oh,” said Jack. “Spooks!”
Nikki turned her head and saw more of them emerging from what she realized were dark holes carved into the walls of the tunnel behind them.
“We’re trapped. What do we do now?” Nikki asked, growing more frightened with every step.
“I’ll handle this,” said Ghoulina. Raising her arms and hands high into the air, she started chanting:
Spooky things that hide in dark caves,
Spirits that won’t stay in their graves—
Ghoulina never had a chance to finish her spell because two Spooks dressed as Frankenstein’s monster grabbed her and threw her against the wall. She landed in a pile of costume boxes, moaning and rubbing her head.
“Hannah!” Wishbone cried out, unable to help her.
Jack raced over to Ghoulina. “She’s hurt!” he called out.
“I’m okay,” she said, smiling reassuringly at Jack. Then she frowned and massaged her forehead. “But I… I can’t remember the rest of the spell!”
Not knowing what to do, Jack knelt beside her and put his arm around her. “Don’t worry, Ghoulina,” he said. “I’ll think of something.”
“You’d better think fast, Jack,” she said. “Turn around!”
Jack turned just as six Spooks walked toward them. Three of them wore mummy costumes and two were dressed as werewolves. Each of them held a box containing a Halloween costume. The sixth carried only a wooden scepter in his hand, the symbol of his authority, and wore a costume Jack recognized right away: Count Dracula.
“Just great! It’s Lord Rattlegrim,” Wishbone whispered.
“Wishbone Jones, how nice of you to honor us with another visit, and this time you brought along some friends,” Rattlegrim said in a hissing, creepy-sounding voice. “The last time you were here to do whatever it was you came here to do, we could do nothing, because then you were the Silver Skeleton. But now I see that the rumors are true. You are nothing but a silly little wind chime without any of your powers.”
“You’d better let us go, Rattlegrim,” said Wishbone. “The Wishmothers won’t be too happy with you if you don’t.
Lord Rattlegrim cackled like an old witch. “I hear they’re dead and their ghosts are imprisoned in some kind of magic pumpkin,” he said. “I have a feeling that this visit may have something to do with the Wishmothers’ missing Wands, curse those old hags!”
Catman snarled like an angry tiger. “You shut up about the Wishmothers!” he said.
“Go lick your behind, kitty,” spat Rattlegrim.
“What do you want with us?” Nikki demanded.
“What do I want, little girl?” Rattlegrim asked. “Why, I want each of you to choose one of these costumes my five companions have in their hands.”
“Then what?” Nikki asked the Lord of the Spooks.
“You will become one of us,” Rattlegrim replied, “and never leave this place.”
Nikki’s body shivered with fear. She turned and glanced at Jack, who was comforting the injured Ghoulina. I hope he’s got something up his sleeve because I sure don’t, she thought.
“I suggest you choose your costumes wisely because it’s the only choice you’ll get,” said Rattlegrim.
The five Spooks carrying the costume boxes stepped forward.
Then, with a loud and menacing roar, Catman charged one of the werewolves, his claws ripping the mask from the Spook’s face. The Spook’s costume vanished in a flash, revealing him for what he was: a ghost. But he wasn’t a ghost like the Wishmothers or any of the other ghosts Nikki had seen in Wormbelow. No, he resembled a white sheet, with two black holes for eyes. The Spook uttered a shriek and floated up to the ceiling.
Swallowing her fear and summoning her courage, Nikki dashed forward and ripped the Dracula mask from Rattlegrim’s face. He screeched and dropped his scepter when his costume dissolved and he turned into a white-sheeted ghost.
Floating toward the ceiling, Rattlegrim shouted, “Take them, boys and girls!”
The Spooks closed in on Nikki, Catman, and Wishbone.
Catman grabbed the fallen scepter. “See to Jack and Ghoulina,” he told Nikki as he raced forward, swinging the scepter like a club and attacking the Spooks.
While Catman battered one Spook after another, Nikki ran back to join Jack and Ghoulina. The Spooks blocking the entrance slowly crept forward, leery of Ghoulina and what magic she might still possess.
“Jack, what are we going to do?” Nikki asked.
Jack turned to Ghoulina as she started throwing costume boxes at the Spooks. “Didn’t Wishbone say the Spooks are afraid of fire?” he asked.
“Yes!” said Ghoulina, rising to her feet. “But I don’t have the magic to conjure fire.”
“I do,” said Jack. Reaching into the left front pocket of his jeans, he pulled out the box of stick matches he had been saving for a rainy day. And today it was raining Spooks.
“Jack, you promised to stop playing with matches!”
“Sorry,” he said. “But I’m not playing with these matches. I’m using them as tools to help us get out of here.”
Pulling a match from the box, Jack scratched it against the striker on the side of it. The match ignited at once and Jack held it out in front of him. The small flame burned brightly.
The costumed Spooks stopped and started to back away, afraid their costumes would catch on fire. Jack threw the match on the cave floor, right at their feet, and then quickly lit another. The Spooks retreated further and then vanished back inside their dark holes.
“That was brilliant, Jack!” said Nikki.
“Aw, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he told her.
“Indeed!” said Ghoulina. “But we have to save Catman and keep the Spooks from chasing after us.”
“You just leave that to me,” Jack told her. He tossed the match onto a pile of costume boxes. “Hurry, Catman, get out of there.”
Jack lit a third match and tossed it onto another pile of boxes.
The cardboard boxes and the costumes inside them began to burn, bright flames climbing higher and higher.
Kicking and clubbing Spooks left and right, Catman heard Jack call to him. He retreated quickly but didn’t turn his back to the Spooks. He fought them one at a time, two at a time, and three at a time. He sent Spooks crashing into walls and tumbling to the floor. He managed to knock the masks off a few of the Spooks, and they floated toward the ceiling.
The costume boxes piled against the walls of the tunnel were now burning like a huge bonfire. None of the Spooks dared pursue Catman when he got close to the fires and finally reached his friends. Lord Rattlegrim floated down from the ceiling and drifted toward the cave entrance, hovering just above the floor. But he didn’t get close to the flames.
“You may have escaped me,” he screeched. “But you’ll never escape Hobgoblin, you hear?”
The roar of the fires drowned out whatever he might have said next.
“Let’s get out of here!” said Wishbone.
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Jack replied.
With the three disguised Wands now tucked away inside Nikki’s backpack, they made it back safely to the other side of the bridge. Black smoke billowed from the mouth of the cave, accompanied by the howls of angry Spooks.
“You okay, Hannah?” Wishbone asked Ghoulina.
Ghoulina smiled at him. “I’m fine, Bob. Don’t worry,” she said.
“Hold up for a moment,” Catman told the others, stopping to throw Rattlegrim’s wooden scepter into the chasm. Then he used his sharp claws to slash at the ropes that secured the bridge to the posts on their side of the chasm.
Nikki and Jack watched in silence and then, seconds later, the bridge collapsed into the chasm and slammed against the side of the pillar atop which perched the Cave of Spooks. The bridge hung there, still tied to the other two posts, but now useless.
“That should hold them until they can figure out how to repair their bridge,” said Catman.
“The Wishmothers were too easy when they punished the Spooks and will have to get tougher with them now,” said Wishbone. “Those cursed Spooks can no longer be allowed to roam free in their costumes on Halloween night. They’ve grown much too dangerous.”
“But first we have to actually get the Wands back to the Wishmothers,” said Ghoulina, cocking her head to one side and narrowing her eyes. “Do you hear that?”
Nikki and Jack nodded at the same time. From off in the distance came the sounds of howling, growling, and yowling. Then Nikki spotted movement at the far side of the clearing.
“That looks like a dog coming this way,” she said.
“That’s no dog,” said Wishbone. “That’s a Tasmanian Devil, and his name is Ebenezer Rex. He’s tracked us down!”
The Tasmanian Devil raced toward them, leading six Goblins riding huge, black beetles as if they were horses.
“We can outrun them on the bikes,” said Jack, leading everyone back to where they had left the bicycles.
Once they were mounted on the bicycles again, Wishbone said, “I know a shortcut through the woods that will take us back to Wormbelow.”
“Then show us the way,” Nikki demanded. She was glad that the Spooks couldn’t leave the cave without their costumes. But she knew that what was coming after her, Jack and the others was even worse than the Spooks.
Peddling their bikes faster than Nikki could send a text message, which was pretty fast, she and Jack took off on their bikes with Catman and Ghoulina sitting on the crossbars and hanging on for dear life. Wishbone told them when to turn left, when to go straight and when to turn right. Soon they were riding through the forest, outrunning their pursuers. But in this part of the woods, the underbrush grew thick, with tangled roots and vines and all sorts of shrubs and plants which slowed them down.
Behind them came the sounds of pursuit.
“We’re too slow!” Jack grumbled.
Then suddenly his wheels got caught in some thick vines and his bicycle tumbled over. Catman leaped free, but Jack fell with the bike on top of him. A moment later, the wheels of Nikki’s bike got snarled in some twisted roots and her bicycle fell over. But she and Ghoulina managed to jump free before the bike hit the ground.
“Nikki! My foot is caught in some sort of root thing!” Jack called out for help.
Ebenezer Rex and his Goblin cavalry were drawing closer and closer.
Nikki and Ghoulina hurried over to where Jack had fallen. Catman tried to pull the bicycle free, but it was too tangled in the undergrowth and wouldn’t budge. They tried to free Jack, but the thick vine was wrapped tightly around his ankle. The vine was too tough and thick for even Catman’s claws to slash apart. It would have to be untied, and that would take too much time.
“We have to leave the bikes here and go on foot,” said Catman.
“No!” Jack protested. “I’m not leaving my bike here. I’ll carry it if I have to.”
“Jack, don’t be stubborn. We don’t have enough time to free you and the bikes,” Ghoulina told him.
“I don’t care!” he said. “I’m not leaving here without my bike.”
“Please, Jack,” Nikki begged. “We have to get you free and run as fast as we can.”
Jack shook his head. “No!”
“They’re coming closer.” Wishbone warned.
Nikki knew they wouldn’t be able to free Jack and get away in time before their pursuers caught up with them, so she had a decision to make, and she had to act fast. Taking off her backpack, she removed the two flashlights and then tossed the backpack to Ghoulina.
“Take the Wands back to the Wishmothers,” Nikki told her friends. “I’ll free Jack and we’ll slip around the other way and meet you in Wormbelow.”
“What?” Wishbone said. “You’ll never find your way back there alone.”
“And you won’t get away from Ebenezer Rex, either,” said Catman. “Someone has to stay to defend you kids. So I’m staying.”
“No, you have to go with Ghoulina,” Wishbone told him. “Your hearing and sense of smell are far better than hers. You can warn her to hide from the pursuers. I’m going to stay with the children.”
“Bob, you can’t defend the kids in the state you’re in,” said Ghoulina. “You must go to the Wishmothers so they can make you powerful again to fight Hobgoblin.”
Wishbone sighed. “You’re right,” he agreed, reluctantly. “I’m useless like this.”
“Everyone, please, stop arguing,” Nikki told them. “Even if we can’t get away, you know where they’ll take us, so with the Wishmothers’ help you can rescue us. Ghoulina, you can make a potion to heal Jack’s leg. So Catman, you must protect her.”
“But we can’t leave you here alone,” said Ghoulina.
“Listen to me,” Nikki told them. “If we all get captured, Hobgoblin will take the Wands away from us, and then all of Creepy Hollow will be in trouble. You have to take the Wands back to the Wishmothers. Now get going!”
“No, Nikki,” said Jack. “Don’t be hard-headed. I twisted my ankle. Leave me here and go with them.”
Nikki shook her head. “No! I’m not leaving you, Jack.” She turned to the others and said, “Jack can’t run and I’m not leaving him behind. Now go before we’re all captured!”
The growling of the Tasmanian Devil grew louder and closer.
Ghoulina looked at Catman, sighed and said, “Nikki’s right. We have to split up. The most important thing is for us to keep the Wands from falling back into the hands of Hobgoblin.” She and Nikki nodded to each other.
“Don’t worry,” said Catman. “We’ll find you.”
“I know you will,” said Nikki, still trying to untie the vine from around Jack’s ankle. “Now get going!”
Her heart heavy with fear but her soul filled with courage, Nikki watched Ghoulina put on the backpack and start running in the opposite direction with Catman at her side. Soon they were swallowed up by the forest and no longer in sight.
Nikki finally managed to untie the vine, pull Jack free and help him to his feet. But it hurt him to stand on his ankle, and they wouldn’t get far with him limping along.
“I’m not leaving without my bike,” Jack stubbornly insisted.
“I don’t care about your stupid bicycle, Jack!” Nikki fumed. “Even if we can get it free, we can’t ride it through this mess of a forest, and it will only slow us down.”
Jack scowled and said with some reluctance, “Okay, okay. I get it.”
“There they are!” They heard a voice from not too far behind them.
Nikki and Jack turned their heads.
The Tasmanian Devil and his Goblins were only about fifty yards away now.
“Come on, Jack,” she said. “Let’s go to our left, circle around, double back and try to outrun them.”
Jack nodded and they started running.
Nikki knew she could outrun their pursuers, but when she looked over her shoulder she saw that Jack was badly limping and falling behind.
Their pursuers were only about twenty yards away now, and the Tasmanian Devil was even closer. Nikki could smell his foul breath, he was that close.
“Are you okay, Jack?” she asked him without stopping.
“I can’t run. My ankle hurts too much,” he said, huffing and puffing.
Nikki stopped and ran back to help her cousin, but before she could reach him the Tasmanian Devil charged forward, caught up with Jack and bit his leg.
“No!” Nikki shouted.
Jack moaned in pain and fell to the ground with the Tasmanian Devil hovering over him.
“You get away from him!” Nikki screamed, picking up a broken branch and throwing it at the nasty little beast.
Ebenezer Rex ducked and the branch flew over his head. He snarled and showed his sharp teeth. “Try that again, little girl, and I’ll bite you, too.”
In spite of the Tasmanian Devil, Nikki rushed over to Jack and knelt beside him.
“Jack, you’re bleeding,” she said.
“Of course I’m bleeding!” he told her.
The six Goblins mounted on the giant black beetles now gathered around them.
“Don’t try anything funny,” Ebenezer warned Nikki.
“You can just shut up, you mangy mutt!” Nikki said, too angry to be afraid of the talking beast. She flicked on one of the flashlights and shined it in Ebenezer’s eyes.
The Tasmanian Devil blinked, turned his head and growled. “That doesn’t scare me, little girl,” he said. “Now get that light out of my eyes or I’ll take a bite out of you.”
Realizing there was nothing she could do, Nikki shut off the flashlight. She was glad that her friends had gotten away, although she was worried about what was going to happen to Jack and her. But the Wishmothers will know what to do, she thought. First, though, she had to see what she could do to help her cousin.
“Does it hurt?” she asked Jack.
“What do you think?” he replied. “There’s a handkerchief in my back pocket. Take it and wrap it around my leg. Wrap it tight to stop the bleeding.”
Just as she reached for Jack’s pocket, a whiny, high-pitched voice said from behind her, “Did you have to bite him, Ebenezer?”
Nikki turned around. Behind her, sitting atop a big, horned beetle was an ugly goblin with green skin, floppy ears, and a pointy nose.
“I didn’t bite him all that hard, Master,” the Tasmanian Devil replied.
“Yes, you did!” Jack yelled angrily.
“I just wanted to make sure they wouldn’t get away, like the others,” said Ebenezer.
“We’ll catch up with them one way or another,” said the Master. He grinned wickedly at Nikki and Jack. “Welcome to Creepy Hollow, children.”
“Some welcome this is!” said Jack, wincing in pain.
Nikki glared at the Tasmanian Devil’s master. “Hobart T Goblin, I presume,” she said.
The eyes of the ugly little green man flashed with anger. “My name is Hobgoblin,” he said.
“Yanking on your ear for good luck didn’t work,” Jack told Nikki.
Nikki sighed. “No, it didn’t,” she admitted.
Well, there you have it, chapter five from our heroic fantasy for children. We hope you enjoyed it, and we hope your children and grandchildren will enjoy it, too.
Erika M Szabo
Read chapters in this magazine style flip-book
Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin: Creepy Hollow Adventures 1
A spooky Halloween story for children, ages 6 to 14
Illustrated by Erika M Szabo
Published by Golden Box Books Publishing, New York, April 6, 2017
Available in paperback ($8.95), and Kindle and Nook editions ($2.99)
Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Judges’ Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy
Copyright © Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, 2017
All rights reserved
Buy Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin here
Joe started writing songs and stories in 1970, and sold a few short stories in the early 1980s. So far, he’s published four books: the sword and sorcery collection Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, published by iUniverse; the space opera, Three Against The Stars, published by Airship27; Waters of Darkness, a sword and sorcery pirate adventure, in collaboration with David C. Smith, and published by Damnation Books; and Mad Shadows II — Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent, published in trade paperback and digital formats in January 2017.
Joe’s Dorgo the Dowser novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum” appeared in Black Gate in December 2011, and it has proven to be one of the most popular stories we’ve ever published. Another novellas featuring Dorgo, “The Book of Echoes,” appeared in the 2013 anthology Azieran: Artifacts and Relics from Heathen Oracle, and the novella “The Order of the Serpent” is scheduled to appear in a special sword and sorcery edition of Weird Tales online magazine. Joe has also written a number of articles and book reviews for Black Gate online magazine.
Author photo by Erin Lynn Ransford.
Erika M Szabo
Erika M Szabo is the author of The Ancestors’ Secrets series, Protected By The Falcon and Chosen By The Sword. All are available in eBooks, prints, and audio books. Anhelo, the first part of the Ancestors’ Secrets series, is also available in Spanish.
Erika also writes fun, educational, bilingual books for children 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values. Look, I Can Talk With My Fingers is available in English and Spanish. This book is about respecting and accepting people with disability. Pico, The Pesky Parrot, is an illustrated bilingual book that delivers an important message to children, about not judging before they get to know someone. A Basketful of Kittens is a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a heartwarming adventure and how to deal with bullies. Asthma Relief introduces traditional and alternative treatments as well as Grandma’s remedies to ease asthma symptoms.
Read more at www.authorerikamszabo.com.