“Malignant”

Co-authored with Steve Thompson
Synopsis of our story:

A man fleeing a creature of pure evil gets unexpected help from a brave knight looking for redemption..

Crystal Lake Publishing

Shallow Waters Vol.2: A Flash Fiction Anthology – edited by Joe Mynhardt:

Description from Amazon:
Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried.

With 26 dark tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the pain between them.

The TOC includes Jess Landry, Dan Weatherer, Mark Cassell, Michael Harris Cohen, Mark Allan Gunnells, Chad A. Clark, John Boden, Chad Lutzke, Dani Brown, David Charlesworth, Kenneth W. Cain, Steve Thompson, Raven Dane, Linsey Knerl, Andrew Garvey, Darryl Foster, Austin James, and Pedro Iniguez. With more names to be announced.

Shallow Waters is the official monthly flash fiction challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing. Every month a new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email. The best submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page, where patrons read daily entries and vote for the winner. What you’ll find in these Shallow Waters anthologies include the best of our finalists.

Stay tuned for more volumes in this series, or find Crystal Lake Publishing on Patreon to enter or vote on future challenges.

Volume two includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of life after death, the supernatural, murder, and the beauty beneath it all.

Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

“Standing Tall”

Synopsis of my story:
An ancient soul finds himself and his people threatened by an ever-growing hostile race.

Crystal Lake Publishing

Shallow Waters Vol.2: A Flash Fiction Anthology – edited by Joe Mynhardt:

Description from Amazon:
Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried.

With 26 dark tales diving beneath the surface of life, death, and the pain between them.

The TOC includes Jess Landry, Dan Weatherer, Mark Cassell, Michael Harris Cohen, Mark Allan Gunnells, Chad A. Clark, John Boden, Chad Lutzke, Dani Brown, David Charlesworth, Kenneth W. Cain, Steve Thompson, Raven Dane, Linsey Knerl, Andrew Garvey, Darryl Foster, Austin James, and Pedro Iniguez. With more names to be announced.

Shallow Waters is the official monthly flash fiction challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing. Every month a new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email. The best submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page, where patrons read daily entries and vote for the winner. What you’ll find in these Shallow Waters anthologies include the best of our finalists.

Stay tuned for more volumes in this series, or find Crystal Lake Publishing on Patreon to enter or vote on future challenges.

Volume two includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of life after death, the supernatural, murder, and the beauty beneath it all.

Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

“Not Your Average Monster”

Synopsis of my story:
In our ever-changing world, what we view as a monster is constantly evolving but at what cost?

Crystal Lake Publishing

Shallow Waters Vol.1: A Flash Fiction Anthology – edited by Joe Mynhardt:

Description from Amazon:
Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried.

With twenty-two dark tales diving beneath the surface of loss, love, and life.

Shallow Waters is the official monthly flash fiction challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing. Every month a new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email. The best submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page, where patrons read daily entries and vote for the winner. What you’ll find in these Shallow Waters anthologies include the most popular of our finalists.

Stay tuned for more volumes in this series, or find Crystal Lake Publishing on Patreon to enter or vote on future challenges.

Volume one includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of love lost, death, 2nd chances, the monsters within, and the beauty beneath it all.

Introduction by Joe Mynhardt
“Closure on a Bed of Nails” by Chad Lutzke
“Fast Car” by Tracy Fahey
“Tears of Buddy” by Patrick R. McDonough
“Puzzle Pieces” by Armand Rosamilia
“Pretty Like Butterflies” by Tim Waggoner
“S1:E7” by Robert Ford
“Pain is Your Teacher” by Michael Harris Cohen
“Memory Lane” by Red Lagoe
“The Silence of the Sirens” by Loren Rhoads
“It’s Me Not You” by Jonathan Winn
“Sisters of Loss” by Mark Allan Gunnells
“Talisman” by Jezzy Wolfe
“The Melting of Your Gods” by Mercedes M. Yardley
“Charms” by Dino Parenti
“Not Your Average Monster” by Kenneth W. Cain
“Where the Children Run in Darkness” by Guy Medley
“Tunnels” by Tom Over (winner)
“The Truth about Dani” by Joe Mercer
“Baby Savannah” by M.J. Sydney
“Rats Scratched in the Linen Cupboard” by Dani Brown
“Raining” by John Boden
“The Death Experience” by Leigh Ann Story


In this volume…

  • Taunted by a cactus, a man copes with grief after the loss of his wife.
  • Alondra DeCourval visits Franz Kafka’s grave to think about death.
  • A lovestruck woman strives to connect with a man she’s convinced is The One.
  • The perfect funeral for a child—all according to a Mother’s well-crafted plan. The exception is one small, unexpected development no one could have ever prepared for.
  • A short meditation on the haunting nature of love and loss, and the aftermath of both.
  • Victor’s sanity has been threaded together by the memory of his daughter’s voice, until now, when her laughter falls silent.
  • An adrenaline junkie believes he can take on the ultimate challenge—coming back from the dead.
  • Sisters share everything. The good…and the bad.
  • Sometimes being a hoarder is dangerous…
  • In our ever-changing world, what we view as a monster is constantly evolving…but at what cost?
  • Buddy’s heart aches for his family’s arrival.
  • Bright colors may be beautiful, but sometimes they can be dangerous.
  • Sometimes the darkness we harbor within is best left behind closed doors.
  • Rats scratch in the children’s ward.
  • A surprise wedding present from daughter to father, built over a lifetime, reveals his true nature to all his guests.
  • Can a mourning Mallory find comfort before she loses her mind?
  • While coming to terms with the death of his mother a man learns that he harbours a strange ability, one that could threaten to tear his reality apart.
  • A woman’s last letter to her abusive ex-husband returns the favor of his tutelage.
  • Lillian’s search for her daughter’s doll leads her on a journey through tragedy, loss, and madness.
  • The brutal murder a man’s only child leaves him burdened with a question only he can answer.

Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Mark Allan Gunnells: For The Love of Collections

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER THIS BOOK NOW

I’ve always been a lover of short story collections. Even more so than novels perhaps. I find something infinitely satisfying about the short form, and I think a single author collection is a great way to introduce yourself to a writer, the range of which he or she is capable. Multiple author anthologies can provide of smorgasbord of different talent, introducing me to writers I may have missed otherwise.

The first short story collection that really grabbed my attention was The Twilight Zone. I know what you’re thinking – that wasn’t a collection but a television show. Well, yes, but it was an anthologytelevision show. Instead of providing one continuous story with recurring characters, instead it offered the TV equivalent of short stories. Each episode was a self-contained tale with a beginning, middle, and end. One week I might get science fiction, another suspense, another horror. It was my first experience with that sort of storytelling, and I instantly fell in love with it.

So when I got older and became a voracious reader, it is not at all surprising that I would be drawn to short story collections. One of the first books I ever read by Stephen King was his first collection Night Shift, and I delighted in all the different tales I found between the covers. To this day, I get excited when I find out a writer I like is coming out with a new collection. And I love writers who release multiple collections. King, Gaiman, Lansdale, Hodge, etc.

I also became a huge fan of anthologies. In my formative years, I remember devouring anthologies with titles like Under the Fang, Prime Evil, Book of the Dead, Shock Rock…eclectic collections of stories by some of the top talent in the horror genre of the day. Every new anthology was like a trip to heaven for me. So much treasure in one book.

As a writer, I enjoy writing novellas and novels and even the occasional poem, but short fiction has always been my truest love and greatest passion. And I dreamed of having multiple collections out there, just like my favorite writers.

And I’m thrilled that I have made that dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the privilege of working with a myriad of wonderful publishers who also believe in the power of short fiction.

My latest collection is BOOK HAVEN AND OTHER CURIOSITIES (April 26th) from Crystal Lake Publishing. I published a previous collection with them, and what really impressed me about them is that they promote a collection as hard as a novel. BOOK HAVEN contains the title novella as well as 20 short stories of various lengths. I touch on different subjects, different tones and themes. A lot of horror, some straight dramatic pieces, and even a few poems. The reader will definitely see the Twilight Zoneinfluence in a couple of the pieces.

I am beyond ecstatic to have a new collection coming out into the world. I think this is an assembly of strong stories, and I look forward to getting feedback from writers.

*   *   *   *   *

Stop by Mark’s Amazon page and keep an eye out for the book: https://amzn.to/2OCdVva

Darker Days

“Wildly varied and always surprising, Darker Days is a fantastic collection of dark wonders. Cain is a gifted storyteller and a writer to watch.”  Jonathan Janz

“I’ve said before that the way to assess the health of a genre is to look at the number of excellent young writers it attracts. There is a new wave of excellent writers showing up in Horror. Kenneth W. Cain is one of these very good writers. His prose is precise, his plotting and pace move seamlessly and quickly, and his stories are compelling. Darker Days is a good example of some of his best work—highly recommended.” — Gene O’Neill, The White Plague Chronicles

“A feast for the senses no matter your tastes! Kenneth W. Cain does it again with Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction.” — Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award® winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

Darker Days, the latest collection of short stories by Kenneth W. Cain, delivers on its title’s promise. From the very first story readers are dragged into seemingly ordinary situations that serve as cover for dark secrets. Ranging from subtle horror to downright terror, from science fiction to weird fantasy, Cain demonstrates a breadth of styles that keeps you off balance as you move from one story to the next. There is something for everyone in this collection—as long as you don’t want to sleep at night!” — JG Faherty, author of The Cure, Carnival of Fear, and The Burning Time

Reviews for Darker Days:
“This collection from Crystal Lake Publishing is varied and huge.  It is ambitious to produce a single author short story collection.  Cain pulls it off with style.  His influences are apparent on every page.  When the mundane is combined with the supernatural, magic can happen, and Cain is a sorcerer.  Get this on Amazon now.” — Signal Horizon

“Kenneth Cain has the ability to bring up hard topics without driving them into the ground or beating you over the head with them.” — SciFi & Scary

“There’s a lot of interesting content in DARKER DAYS. What makes this twenty-six story collection memorable is the diversity of genres and the variety of themes.” — Pop Culture Podium

Darker Days, by Kenneth Cain, is a great collection of tales that any fan of horror fiction would enjoy. There’s something in this book for everyone. The subject matter of the tales therein includes ghosts, cosmic horror, zombies, vampires, weird creatures, aliens, kaiju, and demons. While there were stories I enjoyed more than others, there wasn’t a single dud in this collection.” — HorrorAddicts.net

Kenneth W. Cain is an exceptional writer. His stories never fail to provide the chills and thrills you want from a horror anthology. Highly recommended.” — Goodreads review

Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.

The author of the short story collections These Old Tales, Fresh Cut Tales, and Embers presents Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 26 short speculative stories arise from a void, escaping shadows that ebb and weave through minds like worms, planting the larvae that live just under the skin, thriving upon fear. These are Cain’s darker days.

In this collection, Cain features stories from the Old West, of past lives and future days, the living and the dead, new and unique monsters as well as fresh takes on those of lore. Once more he tackles themes of loss and grief and the afterlife, always exploring the greater unknown. In “The Sanguine Wars,” Cain takes us to a future where soldiers are made to endure the horrors of war. He explores the complexities of global warming and what lengths men and women alike sink to in “The Reassignment Project.” And, as often is the case, he ends on a lighter note, with “Lenny’s New Eyes” and “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse.”

When the darkness comes, embrace it. Let it wrap you up in cold. Don’t worry, it’s not your time…yet.

Includes the following stories:

  • “A Ring For His Own”
  • “Heirloom”
  • “Rust Colored Rain”
  • “Prey”
  • “Passing Time”
  • “What Mama Needs”
  • “My Brother Bit Your Honor Roll Student”
  • “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 1 – Henry Wentworth”
  • “The Sanguine Wars”
  • “The Hunted”
  • “Her Living Corals”
  • “Puppet Strings”
  • “The Trying of Master William”
  • “By The Crescent Moon”
  • “Mantid”
  • “The Underside of Time and Space”
  • “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 2 – Gemma Nyle”
  • “The Griffon”
  • “Adaptable”
  • “When They Come”
  • “The Reassignment Project”
  • “Presage”
  • “One Hopeless Night by a Clan Fire”
  • “Lenny’s New Eyes”
  • “Outcasts: The Sick and Dying 3 – Anna Kilpatrick”
  • “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse”

Tales From The Lake Volume 5

“If you’re a short story reader, this is an absolute must-read. Volume five is even better than the four preceding volumes, which is a very hard bar to hit. Go buy this!” — John R. Little, author of The Memory Tree, Miranda, and Soul Mates

Reviews for Tales from the Lake Volume 5:
“…not a “look under the bed for monsters” volume, but one that has a pensive chill. The stories are like a tap on the shoulder; a reminder that good days end and that no one is protected from anguish.” – Hellnotes

“Taken all together, Tales From The Lake – Volume 5 is an absolute triumph, a wonderfully inclusive celebration of the best that the Horror genre can produce, unhindered by the constraints of themes or specific topics. The individual stories within the collection are uniformly of a very high quality, and have been expertly brought together and edited by Kenneth W. Cain and Crystal Lake Publishing.” – Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

“edited by Kenneth Cain, one of the as yet unsung heroes of dark horror fiction–an author in his own right who deserves much more attention and spotlighting.” – The Haunted Reading Room

“This anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing is by far the best volume yet in the Tales from the Lake series!” – Amazon review

“Though the stories in Tales from the Lake Volume 5 are not themed in the traditional sense, they form a cohesive unit. Threads connect each to the others as if the authors had conspired to give the anthology its unique flavor.” — HorrorAddicts.net

“The current and previous have been a huge improvement and I enjoyed them immensely.” – Amazon review

“The most terrifying thing in the world is not a vampire or zombie, it is mankind and what we are capable of doing to each other. This collection from editor Kenneth W. Cain will eat at you for a long time. Horrifying, haunting, and unforgettable!” – Goodreads review

“I’ve been a fan of the Tales From The Lake anthology since the first volume and it’s amazing to see how much it has evolved over the years. Volume 5 is quite possibly the best yet.” – Goodreads review

“Kenneth W. Cain did an excellent job of weaving the stories together and they flow from one to another leaving the reader on a journey of terror and entertainment.” – Goodreads review

“Over the years I’ve read enough anthologies, short story collections and fiction magazines to refine my expectations for what comprises a premium horror story. So when I declare that I thoroughly enjoyed two-thirds of the fiction in TALES FROM THE LAKE VOLUME 5 – – that says a lot about the high quality of the contents.” – Pop Culture Podium

“…this one has some seriously fantastic offerings.” – A.E. Siraki

The Legend Continues…

In the spirit of popular Dark Fiction and Horror anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, and the best of Stephen King’s short fiction, comes Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from The Lake anthologies.

Where are the real horrors? Whether they be a family member returning from the dead, exploring the depths of depression or the deterioration of the mind, you’ll find them here.

This anthology contains twenty-two tales and three poems to elicit unexpected emotions, to bring you into the story. Welcome to my lake, where dreams really do come true… As nightmares!

This fifth volume of speculative fiction contains:

Poetry:

  • “From the Mouths of Plague-Mongers” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – A wonderful look at our world and the cruel reality of it all.
  • “Malign and Chronic Recreation” by Bruce Boston – Where Internet addiction meets sexual addiction.
  • “Final Passage” by Bruce Boston – A breakdown of mental acuity as it leads to the inevitability of death.

Short stories:

  • “Always After Three” by Gemma Files – A young couple discovers that in a downtown condo you almost never know who your neighbours are, or what they might be doing.
  • “In the Family” by Lucy A. Snyder – A former child actress reveals dark family secrets to her long-lost niece.
  • “Voices Like Barbed Wire” by Tim Waggoner – Sometimes forgetting is more painful than remembering.
  • “The Flutter of Silent Wings” by Gene O’Neill – A heartbreaking tribute to a Shirley Jackson classic.
  • “Guardian” by Paul Michael Anderson – Even creatures beyond time and space need friendship.
  • “Farewell Valencia” by Craig Wallwork – When you’ve got no reason to live, there’s a hotel that can give you every reason to die. So book in, unpack, and prepare to be checked out, forever.
  • “A Dream Most Ancient and Alone” by Allison Pang – A lake mermaid with a penchant for eating children forms a tenuous friendship with an abused girl trying to escape her past.
  • “The Monster Told Me To” by Stephanie M. Wytovich – In order for Bria to deal with her past, she must confront the ghosts of her present.
  • “Dead Bodies Don’t Scream” by Michelle Ann King – If the universe won’t give her a miracle, Allie will make one for herself. But dark magic has a price, and paying it is going to hurt.
  • “The Boy” by Cory Cone – Grief-stricken from the sudden loss of her husband, a young woman fears she may lose her son as well, if she hasn’t already.
  • “Starve a Fever” by Jonah Buck – Fleeing down a bayou highway with a sick criminal in the backseat, a getaway driver must sate his passenger’s horrifying needs while evading the police.
  • “Umbilicus” by Lucy Taylor – A father becomes involved in a scheme to rescue a friend’s lost son—with terrifying results.
  • “Nonpareil” by Laura Blackwell – Maisie’s wedding cake business needs every client it can get—especially rich ones—but between the groom’s unpleasant family and the mysterious bride’s strange requests, Maisie has a tough job baking a cake that will please everyone.
  • “The Midland Hotel” by Marge Simon – If walls of a hotel could talk is one thing, but what if it happens to be a sentient collector of souls?
  • “The Weeds and the Wildness Yet” by Robert Stahl – Still reeling over the sudden death of his wife, Charlie stumbles across a mysterious object at a yard sale—a monkey’s paw, like the one in the legendary story. Despite the terrible events that befall that fictional family, he can’t help but want to give it a try.
  • “The Color of Loss and Love” by Jason Sizemore – A couple set out to rescue an unfamiliar couple, only to face an airborne disease that overtook the world.
  • “The Loudest Silence” by Meghan Arcuri – A woman is trapped by her worst enemy: her mind.
  • “The Followers” by Peter Mark May – The Followers are slow, but they never tire. Nor do they or have to stop to drink, eat or sleep like us living. They are on a relentless death march and we are only delaying the inevitable.
  • “A Bathtub at the End of the World” by Lane Waldman – A little girl plays with her toys in a locked bathroom. Everything is fine, except for the zombies outside.
  • “Twelve by Noon” by Joanna Parypinski – An old farmer goes about his routine tending to the nine scarecrows that preside over his field, when three college student show up and cause a strange disturbance.
  • “Hollow Skulls” by Samuel Marzioli – When Orson’s son is born, the memory of a tragedy creeps back into his life, threatening his very sanity.
  • “Maggie” by Andi Rawson – An intense, disturbing relationship between love and murder is exposed.

With an introduction by editor Kenneth W. Cain. Cover art by Ben Baldwin. Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from The Darkest Depths.

Embers

“Not a squall, not a blizzard … It’s a pulp horror AVALANCHE! That’s Kenneth W. Cain’s new collection, Embers.” — Mort Castle, Bram Stoker Award® winner

Reviews for Embers:
“I think I can safely say that this collection is one of my all-time favourites.” — Confessions of a reviewer

“Cain’s characters are anything but black and white. They are as multi-faceted as any real person you know. They are presented with difficult decisions and even worse situations, and they do the best that they can. Monster and man both are tested relentlessly, Cain never taking the easy way out. Some of the stories are predominately scary, some are predominately sad. All of them will evoke a range of emotions while you read and long after you’ve finished.” — Charnel House Reviews

“Prepare for the stretching of your mind and the expansion of your imagination as Kenneth W. Cain boldly goes into unexplored territory, sometimes speculative, other times horrific, but always enlightening.” — Mallory Heart Reviews

“Some of these tales take on a poe-esque quality, while others a more Lovecraftian tone, and then we find those that bestow upon us the moral musings of Rod Serling. Yeah, these stories are good!” — Horror Novel Reviews

“If you enjoy your horror with a touch of Lovecraft, I believe you’ll appreciate this body of work from Kenneth W. Cain more than you would otherwise.” — Cemetery Dance (Frank Michaels Errington)

“The market is flooded with short story collections and I sincerely hope that Cain’s Embers finds an audience as he has a strong voice and an obvious writing ability. A really good collection overall” — The Grim Reader

“Each story is connected by a little thread to the next one. Kenneth created a web of weird, sometimes gory, sometimes psychological and always scary threads.” — Banshee Irish Horror Blog

Embers is a collection that strolls into every corner of horror to gather bits before running them through the spin cycle, dial set to dread.” — Unnerving Magazine

“…from page 1 I enjoyed reading each and every word.” — Terror-Tree

“Books like Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark were always a fun read as a child right before bed. Cain’s Embers is like an adult version of those novels.” — The Horrific Network

“What makes his work scary is that he takes normal everyday situations with characters just like you and me and twists them into something horrific. These are tales that really could happen to anyone.” — S.J. Budd

“Overall, Embers is a well-constructed and put together collection of horror stories from Kenneth W. Cain that marks another quality release from Crystal Lake Publishing.” — A.E. Siraki

“I thought it was a great collection.” — Sci-Fi and Scary

From the author of the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales comes his latest effort, Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing. There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain’s soul.

In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown. For instance, “The Chamber” focuses on a hardened veteran of World War II who has committed heinous crimes. He seeks only to find peace from his conscience, but sometimes that comes at a great loss. “Valerie’s Window” visits a small town amid a tragic end to humanity. Only things are not as they seem, and the more Valerie comes to know herself, the more her reality is revealed. “The Benefit of Being Weighty” has a humorous side, but the theme of this story revolves around fat shaming and the price one must pay for being so ignorant. Hopefully, these three short descriptions have increased your curiosity to read the book.

When the dark comes, light a match. Let the fire burn bright and hot. So that when it dies the embers warm you.

Includes the following stories:

  • “The Chamber”
  • “Valerie’s Window”
  • “A Window to Dream By”
  • “Each New Day Unknown”
  • “Gone”
  • “Under the Drift of Snow is Another World”
  • “Blackbird’s Breath”
  • “Desolate”
  • “Lost in the Woods”
  • “Final Breaths”
  • “Closer”
  • “Flocking Birds”
  • “Pirouette”
  • “To Save One Life”
  • “Of Both Worlds”
  • “Breathing Cave”
  • “Soul Tapped”
  • “The Water People”
  • “Water Snake”
  • “Evolved”
  • “Buried Beneath the Old Chicago Swamps”
  • “The Bad Men”
  • “Parasite”
  • “Strip Poker, Crabs, and Blue Women”
  • “The Benefit of Being Weighty”

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