Black Gate Online Fiction: In Creepy Hollow, It’s Halloween All Year Long! An Excerpt from Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin-small Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin-back-small

Without Erika M Szabo, this short little novel would have remained no more than the seed of an idea I had about ten years ago. Together, we wrote a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children.

The story begins when Nikki Sweet and her cousin, Jack Brady, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest one Halloween morning, near their Grandmother’s house. A wise talking, silver wind chime in the shape of a skeleton named Wishbone Jones tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers, the Guardians of the realm of Celestria in Creepy Hollow, are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their magic Wands. The children offer their help, so Wishbone takes them through an Ectomagic Gate to the world of Creepy Hollow, where they set out to retrieve the three wands he disguised by magic and hid in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. The witch Ghoulina, a beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil named Ebenezer Rex, can get their hands on them.

In this excerpt from the novel, 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…

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (Creepy Hollow Adventures #1) is a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 6 to 14. It is written by Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Published by Golden Box Books Publishing, New York on April 6, 2017. Available in paperback ($8.95), and Kindle and Nook editions ($2.99). It is the Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Judges’ Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy.

Read the complete excerpt here.

Black Gate Online Fiction: The First Chapter of The Wreck of the Marissa

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 | Posted by M Harold Page

Trust me, I’m a doctor. Some people need killing.

OK, yeah, Doctor of Archaeology but that gives me the long view. (Professor James Brandistock Ph.D. at your service, by the way, but you can call me “Jim”.)

Where was I?

Some people need killing.

It’s true! History turns out better when certain individuals are removed from it.

Case in point? His Royal Highness Prince George, galactic playboy and hereditary ruler of the Planetary Principality of Badland. Now he was a man who’d make your trigger finger tense even if you’d never fired a blaster.

I can tell you this because I was groundside during the ’34 Badland Revolution, avoiding looters and opportunists as I negotiated the streets of Fortunata — that’s the planetary capital.

The smug little f–ker popped up on every TV screen in every bar and cafe, and — I assume — every home. He called for calm, promised to see justice done and grievances met.

And he didn’t bother to keep the smirk off of his jowly face.

Prince George didn’t need to. His bullshit was just box-ticking in case the Empire was paying attention: “I reached out to them, Your Excellency, truly I did. Mass murder was a last resort. I wept when I gave the order…”

See, the real message — the reason for Prince George’s smirk — was the Devastator. They’d set up the TV camera so you had a good view of it through the Prince’s study window. The alien super weapon has its own pinnacle above the Citadel Rock — imagine a clenched fist making a thumbs up — so I guess the study was built with that view in mind. They’d also taped the speech at the right time of day so that harsh white sunlight flashed off the thing’s weird tubes and dishes as the gun crew swept it left and right, showing off its field of fire.

Look, Prince George was saying, I have a literal gun to the city’s head.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: Pirates in Hell, edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Pirates in Hell-small Pirates in Hell-back-small

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Pirates in Hell, the newest anthology from Janet & Chris Morris. “Goat-Beard the Pirate, Part 2: Evil Angel” is a 4,000-word free-standing excerpt from a 3-part tale. It is written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Rearing high above the combers, it towered, a tidal beast that arched itself, then plunged upon the Argo, swallowing ship and sailors whole. One baleful orb of blackest ice blinked like an eye. Rising anew, its mouth dripped chunks of seafarers and splinters of the Argo’s hull.

The leviathan swept its head from side to side, as if browsing. Its maw gaped wide. Its neck arced down, obscuring the entire ridge with inky shadow. A thundery roar like the sea enraged came from that throat and stunned those yet standing. All tried to flee, the four strangers and Medea in the lead. Some screamed. Some dropped their puny weapons to the ground and crawled the turf.

But the leviathan gaped once more, as if it would eat the ridge entire and all upon it. That maw from the Deep quested, then snapped shut, swallowing Jason and his crew with weapons bristling, the fire-pit, the Colchian standard, and nearly the sorceress as well.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner,  Howard Andrew Jones, David Evan Harris, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

Pirates in Hell in the 20th volume of the Heroes in Hell series. It was published by Perseid Press on April 12, 2017.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Pirates in Hell here.

Black Gate Online Fiction: Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak

Friday, March 10th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Black City Demon-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Black City Demon by Richard A. Knaak, published by Pyr Books in trade paperback on March 14. Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times bestselling author of some three dozen novels, including The Sin War trilogy for Diablo and the Legend of Huma for Dragonlance.

A chill wind rose up. I tightened the collar of my overcoat and looked around. Diocles’s presence had left me with no more desire to be here. Besides, I had an appointment farther on the North Side — a young couple called the Nilssons who continually heard footsteps on the upper floor of the old house they rented. They thought it was the ghost of the first owner, who’d hung herself after her husband perished in the Great Fire.

I knew better. It wasn’t a ghost. If they’d seen my ad, seen the offerings of Nick Medea, investigator and debunker of the supernatural, then they had a far worse problem than ghosts. They had one of the Wyld lurking around their home.

There was plenty of time to reach my clients, since the appointment was set — for more than theatrical reasons — at midnight. It wasn’t hard to convince anyone who needed my services that I needed to come at the witching hour. They’d be desperate for any help at this point, no doubt having exhausted the usual charlatans.

“There was a visitor to Saint Michael’s this evening,” Diocles muttered.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, John Fultz, Jon Sprunk, Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe, E.E. Knight, Vaughn Heppner,  Howard Andrew Jones, David Evan Harris, John C. Hocking, Michael Shea, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, C.S.E. Cooney, and many others, is here.

We covered the first volume in the series, Black City Saint, here, and Richard’s newest Pathfinder Tales novel, Reaper’s Eye, here. Richard’s last article for Black Gate was “Tommy Guns, Prohibition, and…. Magic?

Black City Demon will published March 14, 2017 by Pyr Books. It is 363 pages, priced at $17.50 in trade paperback and $2.99 for the digital edition.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Black City Demon here.

Black Gate Online Fiction: Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder by Roy A. Mauritsen

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Shards of the Glass Slipper Queen Cinder-small Shards of the Glass Slipper Queen Cinder-back-small

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder by Roy A. Mauritsen, published by Padwolf Publishing and now available in a brand new audibook narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris!

The new audiobook is available at Amazon, iTunes and Over 15 hours long and richly enhanced with music and sound, it’s a whole new way to experience Shards Of The Glass Slipper — the fairy tale fantasy epic that Patrick Thomas (The Murphy’s Lore series) calls “The Brothers Grimm meets Lord of the Rings.”

Here’s the audiobook trailer.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: Mouth of the Dragon by Tom Barczak

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Mouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the Evarun by Thomas Barczak, published in deluxe trade paperback and digital formats this month by Perseid Press. Thomas Barczak’s short fiction has appeared in the award-winning Heroes in Hell anthologies edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris; his previous novels include the epic fantasy novel Veil of the Dragon, and the Kindle serial Awakening Evarun.

Chaelus watched them fall, one by one, like cordwood; five Servian knights brought down to the bristling snow.

Crimson feathers stuck out against the pallor. Even from a half a league away he could see them, like the blood they let. The red fletching of the Khaalish. But Chaelus didn’t need the whisper of the Giver to drift through him to know it was a ruse. It wasn’t the Khaalish. It was something far worse.

It was the Hunters.

Idyliss bowed her head without his command and flew across the snow-covered plain.

They were still too far away for him to save them.

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Black Gate Online Fiction: An Exclusive Excerpt from Soleri by Michael Johnston

Monday, February 13th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Soleri-smallBlack Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Michael Johnston’s upcoming epic fantasy Soleri, to be published in hardcover by Tor this summer. We have the extended, “Director’s Cut” version of the prologue, entitled “The Black Sand,” which sets up the mythology of the book. Here’s a taste.

They used to be fishermen, but that night hunger made them thieves. Under a moonless sky the men set out from the island in small wooden skiffs, sailing across the ink black sea toward the distant city. They were crowded in the long thin boats, crammed shoulder to shoulder, some turned sideways or doubled over to shield themselves against the waves. Gusty wind and angry water forced a few ships to turn back, while others were lost to the surf, and those who journeyed onward kept their eyes focused on the horizon, searching for the dim silhouette of the Dromus. The great wall was hewn from cinder-grey rock and reflected no light, its jagged ridge biting at the lowhanging stars like a blacker piece of night. The skiff rolled and the boy caught sight of the desert barrier. His stomach ached, but not from nausea. He had eaten little in the past few days — stale salt cod, sea grass steeped in broth.

Up ahead, the first raiders made landfall. One by one the boats crashed into the surging whitecaps at the edge of the beach, the waves tossing the smaller ones, dashing others on the rocks, leaving the fishermen scrambling in the tide. The undertow took the unluckier of them, their bodies rolling over and over in the froth. Those who made it to shore moved quickly to conceal their arrival… The boy waited, trembling with fear and excitement as the last skiffs ground their hulls into the beach. The men were restless, eager. He felt an elbow in his side and craned his neck in time to catch the first sickle of sunlight as it lit the upper edge of the Dromus with a golden halo.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, Michael A. Armstrong, C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.

Soleri is 368 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover and $14.99 for the digital edition. It will be published by Tor Books on June 13, 2017.

Read the complete excerpt here.

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Nero Wolfe – Stamped for Murder

Monday, February 13th, 2017 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Nero Wolfe TrainThe New Adventures of Nero Wolfe radio show aired in 1950 and 1951, starring Sidney Greenstreet. I mentioned it in a prior post. I’ve taken one of the episodes, Stamped for Murder, and turned it into an 11,000 word story. I kept most of the dialogue and the original scenes, since I wanted to adapt the show. I’ve tried to make it more Stout-like, as I don’t think that the series was very true to the original stories. So, some liberties here and there. But hopefully you’ll enjoy a “new” Wolfe pastiche!


Nero Wolfe had just settled his seventh of a ton into the only chair that really fit him. Made of Brazilian Mauro wood, it was in this room, the office: as opposed to the dining room, kitchen or the front room because he spent about nine hours a day here. You read that right: nine hours. More on that later.

Down from his two hours in the plant rooms on the roof, he had greeted me with the standard “Good morning” and placed a spray of Miltonia Charlesworthi in the vase on his desk. After going through the usual ritual, which includes drinking beer, brought by our chef, housekeeper and doorman, Fritz, going through the morning mail and checking his pen (which I’ve already done), he looked up at me.

“Your notebook please, Archie.”

It was there on my desk, ready for use. I took a pen from the middle drawer and swiveled my chair, not made of Mauro wood but under much less pressure, to face him.

“Inform Mister Salzenzbach that the recent Long Island pea fowl he provided was most unsatisfactory. Pea fowl’s breast flesh is not sweet and tender unless it is well protected from all alarms. Especially from the air, to prevent nervousness. Long island is full of airplanes.”

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Black Gate Online Fiction: An Excerpt from Mad Shadows II by Joe Bonadonna

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Mad Shadows 2 cover by Erika M. Szabo-small MAD SHADOWS 2 BACK Cover-small

Joe Bonadonna’s Dorgo the Dowser novelette “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” part of Joe’s first swords and sorcery collection, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, is one of the most popular pieces of fiction ever posted at Black Gate. Joe’s other contributions to the Black Gate Online Fiction library include an exclusive excerpt from Waters of Darkness, his supernatural pirate dark fantasy novel co-written with David C. Smith, and his recent story “Queen of Toads,” an old-fashioned pulp horror tale.

Black Gate is very pleased to offer our readers an exclusive excerpt from Part Three of Mad Shadows II — Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent, published in trade paperback and digital formats this month.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: A Holmes Christmas Carol

Monday, December 19th, 2016 | Posted by Bob Byrne

A Holmes Christmas Carol – By Bob Byrne

christmastree_victorianIt is with a certain sense of misgiving that I relate the following tale, which took place during the Christmas season of 1902. I had moved out of our Baker Street lodgings earlier that year, having married only a few months before that most festive of holidays. I now had rooms in Queen Anne Street and was quite busy with my flourishing medical practice. A newly married man, I once again found myself as head of a household, with all of the duties thereof. I saw Holmes infrequently, but had found the time to visit him the day before Christmas. Certain that he would have no plans of any kind, I extended to him an invitation to join my wife and I for Christmas day.

Holmes rebuffed my attempts to have him share in the holiday spirit with us. “Watson, I have no use for the Christmas season. Is it rational to believe a man rose from the dead? And even if it were, do you not see the hypocrisy of it all? For one day, a man will give a beggar a farthing, because it is Christmas. He would pass by that beggar 364 other days and pay him no mind. That is Christmas?”

I could not recall Holmes being so churlish. When we had roomed together, he had not been an avid celebrator of Christmas, but he did accommodate my warm feelings towards the season. Now, left to his own devices, it seemed that his natural contrariness was shining through. I made one last effort to have him spend a pleasant dinner at the Watson household. It was to no avail.

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