Sally Bosco

Author of Dark Fiction

Tag Archives: Seton Hill University

Cover Reveal for Al Wendland’s Novel, The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes

I first met Al Wendland in 2001 when I attended Seton Hill University in pursuit of a Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction. Al was one of the co-creators of the program, which focused solely on genre fiction. His enthusiasm for the program was infectious, and I grew to love the program. I’ve been an avid Seton Hill supporter ever since. In fact, I loved the program so much that when they offered an MFA in 2011, I returned to Seton Hill U and earned that degree as well.
Al is now Program Director for the Seton Hill U Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. He first opened my eyes to the Sublime in writing. A concept I’d never heard of. The sublime is a term used in regard to the features present in a Gothic or Romantic piece of literature. It is concerned with the spiritual wonderment experienced by an individual after he or she is emotionally affected by an awe-inspiring situation that is almost always related to a scene of natural grandeur. For that reason I’m really looking forward to reading his novel. I’m pleased to take part in the cover reveal for The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes!

What could draw poet, explorer, loner and paranoid Mykol Ranglen away from the relative peace of his own ring-in-space habitat?He has no choice in the matter as one by one acquaintances are murdered or disappear altogether. Propelled by ever changing and deepening mysteries Mykol embarks to uncover secrets which could make people rich beyond their wildest dreams…or tear apart human civilization.

The escalating quest takes him through worlds of many dangerous extremes, leading him to confront the deadly alien Fist of Thorns, extinct species refusing to give up their power over the future, and those racing against him to uncover the secret first. But in the course of his pursuit, he must also face his own secrets. And some of these are even more dangerous.

The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes by Albert Wendland

Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Foreword by William H. Keith

Space Opera Paperback coming from Dog Star Books in June 2014

~~~

What They’re Saying About The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes

“Mystery, heart-pounding adventure, and the dazzling wonders of far-flung space play significant roles in Wendland’s breakout novel, all while gifting us with a mesmerizing tour of alien landscapes destined to get under your skin and remind you of the very reason science fiction exists: Not to escape to other worlds, but to find ourselves within them.”
–Diana Dru Botsford, author of THE DRIFT and FOUR DRAGONS

Inside are alien worlds and titanic space habitats and a brilliant and paranoid hero, all skillfully blended together with long-vanished galactic secrets. Science fiction… good science fiction, by a college professor of literature who loves good SF.”
–From the foreword by William H. Keith, New York Times Bestselling Science Fiction Author

Cevin’s Deadly Sin is Live Today!

Cevins_Deadly_Sin_72dpi3inWriting Cevin’s Deadly Sin has been a wild ride for me. Literally six years in the making, seeing the culmination of my work published is a huge thrill for me. First, this is a departure for me, before I’ve always written horror and paranormal. For this project that didn’t fit. At first I toyed with the idea of having a cross-dresser vampire or cross-dresser werecat, then I decided, no. This story needs to be told in a realistic fashion.

Cevin’s Deadly Sin is the story of a closeted hetero teen cross-dresser. In most ways he’s a normal kid, yet has that one difference he has to hide. It makes him feel that no one will accept him for his true self. It’s the story of feeling like an outsider, and who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another?

This was my thesis novel for an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. I struggled with the plot tremendously and ended up scrapping and rewriting the entire book after graduation. Then once I had it finished, it was difficult finding a publisher. Publishers told me they liked it, but they didn’t know how to market it. Cevin is hetero so he didn’t fit into the LGBT category, strictly speaking. He doesn’t want to have surgery to become a woman, so he doesn’t fall into the transgender category.

My present publisher, Queer Teen Press, is a little more broad in its content, so they seemed like a good fit to me. I was so happy when they accepted it for publication.

Why did I write this book? I’m fascinated with gender. How much of it is inherent and how much is from upbringing? Why do people in our culture react so violently against someone who defies gender?

I have cross-dresser friends, and I’ve interviewed a lot of cross-dressers, and I know that they had no support groups they could access during their school years. I’m writing Cevin to help them out—to bring awareness to the public about cross-dressing and help CD kids to realize that they’re not alone.

Also, how do we treat those who are different in some way? Tessa is totally taken with Cevin, but when he tries to tell her about how he’s different, she doesn’t want to listen. She becomes afraid and pulls away from him.

In many ways, this is a universal story. Has there ever been a time when you felt like an outsider?

Link to purchase Cevin’s Deadly Sin:

Queer Teen Press logo small

The Cellar Door Anthology and My Fascination with Weird Architecture

I’m just realizing that I’ve never written a post about the “Cellar Door Anthology” in which one of my stories is published. Edited by Shawna L. Bernard, the book is a compilation of tales of beauty and terror about what may lie beyond the cellar door.

Cellar DoorI have a fascination with weird architecture that started when I read The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and it grew when I read the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

I wanted to write something involving weird architecture for this anthology. My result was my short story, “What Grows In Between.”

My inspiration for this story came from doing research on the Dupli House, which is located in Marbach, Germany. It was in disrepair and had to be torn down. Here’s a photo of the original house.

Dupli house orig

The architectural firm of J. Mayer Arquitectos took on the task of building a new modern house in the footprint of the old house. Actually, they came up with a new footprint by duplication and rotation of the out line of the old house:

Rotation

The result is breathtaking:

cellar door house

I thought, what if the spirit of the old house wanted to come through the framework of the new. That idea gave birth to my story, “What Grows In Between.”

Here’s the synopsis: Emily and Daniel have ditched high-powered jobs for a more low-key life. Though Daniel actually prefers more traditional architecture, Emily falls in love with an ultra-modern house that is situated out in the woods in Massachusetts. They’ve been waiting all their lives for this. He’s going to start painting and she’s going to do freelance architecture from home. That was the plan, but when the house grows an old-style cellar door, they start to realize that it has motives of its own.

The following is an excerpt from a review written by Dr. Robert Curran, psychologist and author of several works on folklore and the paranormal:

“There are some places in my mind where I seldom go. They are rooms of imagination, impression and memory that are often better left undisturbed because they are full of old fears and terrors which still have the power to grip me. They are better off left to moulder behind locked doors. This anthology tells me that I’m not alone in this respect.

“There are too many stories and poems within this anthology to review comprehensively–and I’m not going to try–but each one reflects the horror of some dark world, lying around the foot of the descending cellar steps or up in that shuttered attic. And they are brilliantly illustrated in paintings and drawings which are evocative of each tale.

“This is definitely a book for the winter, when the nights are dark and the wind makes strange houses through the house. It is a book to be savoured and shuddered at. It will take you to places in your mind where you really shouldn’t go.”

Cellar Door Anthology – Link to Kindle

Cellar Door Anthology – Link to paperback

Day 9 of the Flash Fiction 10 for 10 Challenge: Cemetery Dance

Cemetery Dance:

Since Jack dumped her, Lilly had found solace in an odd pursuit—attending funerals. Cemeteries were such peaceful places. She has several local favorites, Rosewood with its large lacey trees and Pleasant Hill with its finely manicured lawns.

Today she decided to visit Tatum Ridge, which had tombstones dating back to the 1800’s, with a more recent section that accepted new arrivals. Here she marveled at the beautiful headstones carved into angels and stone benches set out for rest and reflection.

Lilly started noticing a young man at the funerals. He was pale with dark hair and always wore a tasteful black jacket and dark jeans, just the outfit for blending in. She noticed him noticing her, so she got up the nerve to talk with him. “I see you at a lot of these things.”

He brightened up. “I find them peaceful and reassuring, and it’s kind of my job to go to them.”

“Your job?”

“I work for the funeral home—making sure everything goes off without a hitch.” He held out his hand. “I’m Sariel.”

She took it. “Lilly. Pleased to meet you.” These burials were from all different funeral homes, but his eyes burned into hers, drawing her in, so she didn’t question him.

Soon they were meeting for coffee, and their favorite pursuit was haunting the vintage cemeteries at night. They’d sit on the stone benches and talk, sometimes pretending they saw a ghost so they’d get scared enough to hold hands.

One night he suggested entering a crypt.

“I don’t know. That’s vandalizing, isn’t it?”

“It isn’t vandalizing when you have a key.” He held up an ornate skeleton key and gave a mischievous laugh.

“How did you get that?”

“I told you. It’s part of my job.”

Lilly went along with it, just because he was so delightful. Since she’d met Sariel she hadn’t given a thought to Jack.

He put the lock in the key and turned it. She was afraid there would be dead bodies lying around, but instead there were the carved figures of a man and woman resting on their backs in eternal peace. It reminded her of the tombs of Abelard and Heloise she’d seen in Paris. So romantic.

“Look at the workmanship on these.” He took her hand and guided it over the delicate face of the woman. So intense were her feelings that she turned around and kissed him. It was the most exquisite kiss she’d ever known in her life.

“You don’t really work for a funeral home, do you?”

“No, I’m an independent contractor you might say. I like to check up on my work.”

Suddenly she knew exactly what he was. “You help people over to the other side, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

She grew more and more excited at hearing this. They sunk down onto the cold stone floor and made intense, passionate love.

Lilly was happy at last. What could be cooler than having a boyfriend who’s the Angel of Death?

Day 7 of the Flash Fiction 10 for 10 Challenge: Girlfriend

Girlfriend:

His girlfriend hung over the shower door like a deflated weather balloon. Now he wished he’d gotten the extended warrantee.

 

 

 

Many of the participants of this challenge are affiliated with the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

You can view the rest of the entries here.

 

 

Day 6 of the Flash Fiction 10 for 10 Challenge: Intruders

I’ve found this challenge to be very inspiring. Not only that my fellow 10 for 10 challengers are turning out some kick-ass flash fic, but I seem to have gotten over my short story mental block. I felt like I absolutely couldn’t write a short story. The idea of deadlines and constraints did spur me on to come up with some stories that surprised me.

Here’s today’s story.

Intruders:

The boy slid down the banister of his majestic home, just as he had for so many years. He loved the scent of the wood and all of the wide-open rooms that allowed him free space for playing—tossing a football, running races; the place was so big he could even ride his bicycle around. Sure, he was lonely since his family had left him, but he could live with it. He thought of them a lot, though.

He remembered when the house sparkled with fresh paint and smelled of that lemon oil they used to polish the wood floors. But now, the grimy walls stood all alone and the furniture had transformed into linen-covered ghosts.

Lately, disturbing occurrences jangled his peace of mind. People came in at odd hours, banging around and piercing the dark with their torches. When that happened, he hid in a small room on the third floor. He did not want them to find him and take him off to some foster home. This was his home.

One night he was in the living room and before he could run away, he saw a flash of light in the driveway. A shiver of fear passed through him as he heard someone insert the key into the lock and rattle the doorknob. Since he didn’t have time to run, he cowered in a corner of the massive living room. He’d be fine, he told himself. People had tried to get him from time to time, but he’d been shrewd in avoiding them, like a feral cat that loved its freedom.

The invaders poured in through his front door. Terror overtook him as he watched them gather into a circle. He feared it was some kind of satanic cult, come to pollute his home. He smelled incense and heard chanting. “Exorcizámos te, ómnis immúnde spíritus.” But he cowered behind the old couch, afraid to raise his head.

Then he felt something very strange, a sensation of pressure that pulled on his skin and caused a loud noise in his ears. He started kicking and yelling, trying to fight the demonic force, but gradually the pull started to feel soothing and the din changed into the sound of the ocean.

A force sucked him down a long, dark tunnel, illuminated at the far end by a blazing light. A feeling of love so big he’d never known such a thing existed filled his body and mind. He let himself be pulled along now, until he ended up in an open expanse of perfectly manicured lawn that had flowers and pools and fountains.

Then he saw them, his parents. They looked young and healthy. And his little sister. His mom was the first to hug him. “You’ve gotten here at last. We’ve missed you so much.” An elation so strong he thought it would make him float, filled his being. When the others joined in, a whirling, illuminated vortex sucked them up into the pure light.

Many of the participants of this challenge are affiliated with the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

You can view the rest of the entries here.

 

flash fiction, Seton Hill University, Writing Popular Fiction, Sally Bosco, 10 for 10 flash fiction, #FlashFic10for10

 

 

Day 5 of the 10 for 10 Flash Fiction Challenge: Amish Goth

Here’s today’s story.

Amish Goth:

‘So, this Amish girl walks into a Goth bar.’ It sounded like the setup for a bad joke, she thought.

Sarah was on Rumspringa, the one time in an Amish person’s life they could go out and explore the world, do what they pleased. She’d always had a fascination with the Goth subculture, so she bought some daring clothes: a leather mini-skirt, fishnet stockings and boots. She ripped up a black tee shirt and pieced it back together again with safety pins. Perfect.

She’d left her house wearing her prim bonnet, apron and calf-length dress, but when she was far away from her parents’ house, she’d pulled the magical clothes out of their hiding place and dressed, releasing her long blonde hair from its bun and letting it fall around her shoulders. She so wished she could dye it black. A touch of the makeup she’d bought at the CVS and she was ready.

Now she could barely recognize herself in the mirror.

At first, the din of the bar made her ears throb, but she quickly got used to it. The sight of vampires, dominatrix, and assorted creatures of the night scared her initially, but she knew they were only play-acting at being Gothic, just like she was.

She sat down at the bar, trying to get her bearings and ordered a Coke. Soon a man sat down next to her. She didn’t even know how to act or what to say.

“Come here often?” the young man asked. He had a pleasant yet pale face with dark hair, cut shorter at the back and longer in the front. Wearing a hint of eyeliner and lipstick he was quite attractive, actually.

“No,” She blushed at his attention. “This is my first time here.”

“Mine, too.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. You’re going to laugh at this, but where I come from, they’d really disapprove of this whole thing. They’d say it was sinful. But I was curious. I came a long way to see this place.”

“Where did you come from?”

“Lancaster, Pennsylvania.” He extended his hand. “I’m Jacob. Pleased to meet you.”

 

Many of the participants of this challenge are affiliated with the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

You can view the rest of the entries here.

Day 4 of the 10 for 10 Flash Fiction Challenge

Here’s today’s story. It’s a really short one.

Recognition:

The curve of her neck. The tilt of her head. The enticing way she played with her martini. He instantly knew she was the woman he’d want to divorce in six years.

 

 

 

Many of the participants of this challenge are affiliated with the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

You can view the rest of the entries here

Day 3 of the 10 for 10 Flash Fiction Challenge

Here’s my entry for today:

Revenge

I woke up in darkness barely able to breathe. When I tried to move my arms and legs, I found that I could, but in a limited way. Something smooth and crinkly confined my limbs. I struggled and kicked against the barrier that enveloped me. Surely I’d suffocate in short time if someone didn’t rescue me. It must have been the work of a mad serial killer. I yelled out, “Somebody help me. Please.” My voice echoed within my confined space. I kicked and punched at the material, struggling to break free.

A man’s voice called to me. “Save your energy. I’ve been trying to bust through this thing for days and it’s no good. Nothing works. It’s indestructible.” The voice sounded middle-aged and tired.

I looked around and saw the outline of a man lying beside me in the same bound condition as myself. It was so dark in the closed room I hadn’t even known he was there. “Hey!” I called. “Who are you? What’s going on?”

Though I could barely make him out in the darkness, I watched his head turn. “I’m Ben and I have no idea,” he said in a voice muffled by the material.

“What kind of maniac would bind people up like this and put them in a dark room? It’s a small room too, like a casket.” I shivered

“I don’t know. I’m hoping for the best. Hoping that it’s not some crazed killer who’s going to torture us. Maybe it’s like aliens or something, who will do their tests and wipe out our memories and put us back where we were. What’s your name?”

“I’m Carmella.”

“Pleased to meet you, Carmella. I wish I could shake your hand.”

“Me, too. What do you do?” I rolled onto my side within the confines of my sack so I could see him better.

“I run a used bookstore, collectibles, that sort of thing. How about you?”

“I’m a housewife, basically. Nothing exciting there. I do sell a few things on ebay to make some extra money.”

“Interesting. I’m a big ebay seller myself. For a while there ebay was like a gold mine. Now, not so much. What with the bad economy and the fact that they take more of a cut.”

“I’m telling ya, it’s hard to make an honest living on there anymore.” I paused and tried to wriggle closer to him. “Ben, what do you suppose will happen to us?”

“I wish I knew. Look!” He pointed to a glowing spot at one of the top corners of the room.

“What’s happening?” The entire ceiling lifted off, and the light nearly blinded me. So much so that I could barely discern the outline of a huge person.

Ben shrieked. “No, it’s not!”

A giant hand grabbed for me. It wrapped around my midsection, crushing my ribs. I’d never survive this attack.

Holding me over a vast drop, the thing stood me upright and opened the top of my prison. It had huge round eyes and a furry nose.

It was only when it lifted its arm that I saw the paper heart hanging down.

Ty, the tag said. Beanie Baby.

 

Many of the participants of this challenge are affiliated with the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

You can view the rest of the entries here.

Day 2 of the 10 for 10 Flash Fiction Challenge

Here’s my entry for today:

The Good Teacher

I slip the cover off the body, make my initial cut beneath the right ear and wait for the first student to faint. Not to disappoint me, a strapping, six-foot-tall guy staggers then face-plants onto the cement floor. I’ve been teaching this “Forensics for Writers” class at NYU for five years now, and I’ve never seen a bigger bunch of wusses.

“I showed you this cut during the last class, but we’re going to go over it again, because mostly everyone keeled over the last time.”

The women usually fare better than the men. That’s why I’m not surprised when a thirty-something soccer mom comes right up to the front of the table and looks on, spellbound. “I had an experience with a cut up body.” The way she examines my face gives me the creeps.

“We only have time for questions, not personal stories.”

“See, there’s this lady who lives…lived…next door to me and I heard a funny noise coming from the cellar. Like somebody screaming, but muffled. After I heard the noise, I went over to the half-window of their basement and looked in.

I put down the scalpel and hold onto the table to steady myself. “You saw…”

“You know what I saw? Her throat was slit ear-to-ear with the exact same cut you’re making right now–the Superficial Fascia from one side of the Platysma to the other.”

The sweat pours down my neck now into the collar of my shirt. I’m remotely aware that the rest of the class is watching, frozen, bug-eyed with mouths gaping.

“The killer made the cut exactly the same way you do.”

All of my blood drains down into my shoes. This is the exact description of the case of the Aquarius Killer.  It’s a detail that hasn’t been let out to the general public, which worries me. “You saw this?”

Her eyes widen. “I saw you, holding that same scalpel right over the victim’s body just like you’re doing now. Left-handed.”

I am left-handed.  “No.  You didn’t see me.”

“I can describe the shirt you were wearing—a black button-down with long sleeves.” Her eyes narrow into a squint.  “With a green surgical mask and latex gloves.  And those same cufflinks you’re wearing now—silver dragons.” I notice that she’s talking into her blouse.

“No, it wasn’t me. I…”

The door to the lab explodes open and a team of guys in suits pour in.  One of them flips open his wallet and I see the shiny indistinct blur of a badge.  “NYPD.  You have the right to remain silent…”

“What’s this all about? I’m on the forensic team for the Aquarius Murders. I have no reason to want to kill anyone.”

The woman leans in to whisper to me so no one else can hear. “But I do, and I learned how to make that cut from you.”

“Wait!” I yell as they cart me away.

Many of the participants of this challenge are affiliated with the MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University.

You can view the rest of the entries here.

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