All the Halloween

Happy Halloween!!

For my last post of October, I’d like to round up what’s been going on around here for seasonal sharing and steer you toward my two most recent releases, which both happen to be fantastic books to read for Halloween.

killing-it-softlyIt’s no secret that I love Edgar Allan Poe, so it’s probably no big surprise that I have a short story homage to him. “The Call of the House of Usher” is a modern story in Poe’s style that takes place generations after “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Our fateful narrator becomes haunted (stalked?) by a mysterious presence and is summoned to his ‘long lost family home’ to restore it. Things, of course, are rarely what they seem, and the past has a way of clinging.

First printed in a charity anthology that went to help save the Poe House in Baltimore, “The Call of the House of Usher” is also now reprinted in the all-women horror anthology Killing It Softly. Editor Suzie Lockhart and publisher Digital Fiction Publishing Corp. are billing it as “The Best by Women in Horror,” and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Right now you can buy Killing It Softly in ebook for just $0.99 or in a big, beautiful paperback for $14.39. (Those who like neat book tricks will want the paperback; the header images do a cool flip-book effect as the pages go by.)

Dark Hallows II

And I’m very excited to announce that Dark Hallows II is out now! This anthology put together by editor Mark Parker, published by Scarlet Galleon Publications, is bound to be a must-have.  With stories by Richard Chizmar, Lisa Morton, James Chambers, and 11 other talented writers, I can’t wait to get my hands on it myself! Right now you can buy Dark Hallows II in ebook for $8.99 or in paperback for $16.99.

My story “The Devil Take the Hindmost” has never been published before, and it’s a doozy. It’s the longest story I’ve ever sold and the most research I’ve ever done (short of my novels). Set in 16th-century Scotland, “The Devil Take the Hindmost” follows Hellen Guthrie after her mother is burned at the stake for witchcraft. When her cat brings Hellen a dangerous present, the neighbors turn their witch-hungry gaze upon her, her own family grows suspicious, and Hallowmass Eve — when the Devil’s dues are due — is fast approaching.

I hope you’ll consider buying one or both of these fantastic anthologies for some creepy reading. And in case you missed it, treats I’ve also shared this month:

Happy reading, watching, and listening. And happy, happy Halloween!

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The Shed

“The Shed” was first published in the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume III. ($2.99 for the ebook or $7.99 paperback.)

If you prefer to listen or want to read along, I really enjoyed Pete Mesling’s reading of “The Shed” on his show The Bare Knuckle Podcast! In this episode Pete reads a selection of several poems from this year’s Showcase. If you’re in a hurry, my poem starts at 16:50, but they’re all worth listening to. Listen above, read below — or both. Enjoy!

The Shed

The lawn lays wide
and bright with yellow
sunshine, spread flat
with no corners,

except the shed.

The shed’s paint is pale
but dull, as if the owners
who inherited it
thought the best
they could do was make it
“blend in.” And it does,
for a second

until your eyes catch
the black rectangle
of the haphazardly open doors
stuck in their tracks
gummed up with debris putrefied
to the same color of black,
jarring in all that wide bright.

And you try not to picture what lies in there
what things might collect and colonize in a structure
so low and squat,
but there you go picturing centipedes
and scorpions, spiders and weevils, snakes and rats,
and other, darker things that can’t be
– can’t possibly be in that shed – yet there
you go picturing them: tentacles from corners
and tall, pale men standing against the walls,
and chittering, creeping things that slide down off the ceiling and
open your doors  at night, when they can’t be seen,
but then, then, that’s not the most disturbing
part of that old shed.

The most disturbing part is how the structure itself seems sly and sentient with its thin metal walls propped like foldable gills, with its near-flat little roof peaking subtly like an eyebrow, how its rotted wood floors lie in panels, like they could all be rolled back like a tongue shoving food to the gullet, how that open rectangle of black at the doors sits still, patiently, waiting, and how eventually, when this moment of feverish imagination has regressed under the rightful armor of adulthood and you have nearly forgotten all about it (nearly),
you will have to go inside it.

© Annie Neugebauer, 2016.

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Listen to Hide at Pseudopod

I’m thrilled to share that my flash horror story “Hide” is now out in podcast at Pseudopod! “Hide” was first published in Black Static Issue 43 by TTA Press in November 2014. It was subsequently included in Ellen Datlow’s recommended list for Best Horror of the Year Volume 7. And now you can listen to it for free at Pseudopod. My story starts at 13:26 and is only five minutes long (but both of the other stories in this episode are well worth a listen).

A note: unlike my story “Jack and the Bad Man,” also podcast by Pseudopod, “Hide” is not family-friendly. Here’s what reviewers have to say about “Hide”:

from Des Lewis at Dreamcatcher Real-Time Reviews:

“This is what I call the perfect horror ‘short short’. To describe its plot would spoil it. It is powerful and surprising…”

from Gareth Jones at Dread Central:

“Annie Neugebauer’s ‘Hide’ is possibly the shortest entry that I’ve ever come across in the pages of Black Static, but it’s an enjoyable little slice of grim micro-fiction – twisting the jargon of the ‘pickup artist’ into something much more horrendous than it already is.”

I love what editor Shawn Garrett has to say about this flash story episode, too, which is focused on body horror. Listen to his intro for some really cool thoughts about Walt Whitman’s poem “I Sing the Body Electric.” A classical poetry reference to illustrate body horror? Yeah, I love Shawn even more now. 🙂

Thank you to readers Marc Bailey and Heather Welliver who both did a fabulous job narrating “Hide.” I couldn’t be happier.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to go listen to “Hide” at Pseudopod. Remember: it’s not for the faint of heart. 😉 Enjoy!

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Happy October! To kick off my seasonal blog fun, I’m reprinting one of my poems here.

“Fiend” was first published last year in the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume II by the Horror Writers Association. I always enjoy the broad range of poetic styles and topics in these anthologies, and am honored to be included. I hope you enjoy!


When the dreams begin,
I slip in and crouch on your chest,
compressing relaxation
into something tighter, heavier.
The soft little moan of protest you give?
My cocktail.
I sip it from your lips
like fine brandy.
You try to shift; I settle in.
The slick dew that blooms
on your forehead tastes salty and sour –
an exquisite appetizer.
My darling,
you are one of my favorites.

Once the nightmare takes hold,
your eyeballs roam fiercely behind your lids.
I want to pluck them out
and pierce them with my teeth,
but I resist
for now.
I content myself with swallowing whole
your cry of fear.
The frantic beats of your heart,
my main course,
rising and rising, faster, faster,
heightened by those delicious shouts.
Your thrashing arm brushes my cheek,
and I nuzzle the fine hairs that stand on end there,
breathing in the aroma.
My dinner music:
the grinding of your teeth,
the convulsive rhythm of your swallow.

The longer I stay with you,
the further you descend
into the twisted world of sleep.
I could make a glutton of myself.
I could devour you and, perhaps,
finally feel satiated –
fill the chasm within –
for once, know what it is
to not be hollow.
But not this time, darling.
This time I will slip away
and give you time to recover,
for another night will come
when I will need you again.
Someday, though.
Someday I will take my fill.

© Annie Neugebauer, 2015

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