60 Seconds of Midnight

If I Die

It was the perfect day for a yard sale, the kind of day where the sun mesmerized its audience by providing a magical glow to every object it touched. Jaime loved going to yard sales with her good friend Lana and was excited that they had picked such a flawless day to indulge in their shared hobby.

While others she knew would have preferred to be shopping the luxurious department stores, Jaime favored pouring over old books and antique lamps each touched by real people and their families, touched by their triumphs and tragedies. These used things brought more character to Jaime’s home unlike the factory produced junk one could snap up at any home store.

This particular event had not been in their original plans, but crept into their schedule when they spotted a man at a lazy intersection enthusiastically twirling a sign that boasted of the spectacular sale.

Jaime was perusing over some nicely framed old world maps with Lana at her side when she spotted a silver jewelry box, one that she knew well.

“Amazing. I used to have a jewelry box just like this when I was in high school.” Jaime said running her fingers along the slightly unclean salmon colored velvet interior. She noticed a small school photograph of a striking teenage girl.

“Really?” Lana responded.

“Yes, I used to love it because I hid notes from James in it.” She said as she fiddled with the bottom of the box.

“Sneaky girl.” Lana mumbled as she made her way to another table that displayed a colorful quilt.

“If you pull this compartment up here in the bottom there is a little space, perfect for hiding little not-” Jaime stopped when she noticed a folded piece of paper in the hiding space. With a careful hand, she unfolded the note and read the words that caused her suddenly unruly breath to choke up her throat.

“Twenty dollars for the jewelry box.” A man’s voice startled Jaime, who quickly balled the crumbling piece of paper in her hand. She looked up to see a man and woman standing behind the table.

The woman looked down at the jewelry box and removed the picture, “I didn’t even realize that this was still in here.”

“Is that your daughter?” Jaime stuttered.

The man took the picture and fell deep into his thoughts. “Yes, her name was Ashlyn. She died in an accident last year. Her mother has finally convinced me that we have to let these things go. Excuse me.” He said, walking away as the tears begin to well in his eyes.

“Would you like the jewelry box? I’ll cut you a deal…eight dollars.” The woman insisted.

“No, no thank you.”

“Is something wrong?” The woman asked a flushed Jaime.

“No, I’m ok, it’s just a little warm out today.” She lied as she turned away taking a few steps from the table. Jaime unfolded the note once again as she had to be sure of what she had seen and there she reread the same frightening message, If I die, my mother killed me.  –Ashlyn.

Midnight in Black List

September 15, 2020

A Comprehensive List of Black Horror/Thriller/Mystery/Dark Fiction Authors
(More than the same 10 you see on these types of lists over and over)

Every year around this time, I google, “Black Horror Authors” and I pull the same six or so lists made of up of the same ten black, traditionally published authors. I’m tired. While those regulars are AMAZING, there are more of us out here writing solidly dark stories and this list will help you develop a more well-rounded list of independently as well as traditionally published, black, dark fiction writers.

Pick up a few of these titles and give yourself the creeps this season. Some Kindle editions are even FREE. If you do read a book from this list, do not forget to leave the book an Amazon or Goodreads review. For authors, reviews are EVERYTHING.

  1. Jean Nicole Rivers        Black Water Tales: The Unwanted                                                                                              Me! That’s right. I write horror because I love to read it. Check out my latest novel listed above and be on the lookout for my upcoming release, To the Moon and Back.
  2. Brandon Massey            The Quiet Ones
  3. Dorothy Koomson         Tell Me Your Secret
  4. Daka Hermon                 Hide and Seeker (Middle grade)
  5. Dia Reeves                      Dark Side of the Moon
  6. L.G. Davis                        The Stolen Breath
  7. Jewell Parker Rhodes    Voodoo Dreams
  8. Tiffani D. Jackson          Allegedly
  9. L.A. Banks                      Minion
  10. Justina Ireland               Dread Nation
  11. Wrath James White      The Resurrectionist
  12. Danyell Hunter              Jester
  13. Tananarive Due            The Good House
  14. E. L. Jefferson                What Do Your Fear
  15. Alexis Henderson         The Year of the Witching
  16. Megan Giddings            Lakewood: A Novel
  17. Helen Oyeyemi             White is for Witching
  18. Octavia Butler               Fledgling
  19. L. Marie Wood              Crescendo
  20. Alyssa Cole                    When No One is Watching
  21. C.C. Adams                    But Worse Will Come
  22. Gracia Rich                    Handkerchief
  23. La’Quisha Brown         The Haunting
  24. Steven Van Patten        Killer Genius
  25. Andre Duza                   Technicolor Terrorists
  26. Steven Barnes              Devil’s Wake
  27. A. Renee Hunt               Nightmare Home
  28. Oyinkan Braithwaite   My Sister, The Serial Killer
  29. LaTresa Payne              Margo
  30. Pat McKanic                  Illusions of Paradise
  31. Linda Addison              How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend
  32. V.M. Burns                    The Plot is Murder
  33. Kellye Garrett               Hollywood Homicide
  34. Tracey Baptist               The Jumbies (Middle grade)
  35. Carolyn Marie Wilkins   Melody for Murder
  36. Faye Snowden              A Killing Fire
  37. Victor LaValle               The Changeling
  38. Walter Mosley               Down the River Unto the Sea
  39. Valerie Wilson Wesley  Dying in the Dark
  40. Terence Taylor              Bite Marks
  41. Lori Titus                       The Bell House
  42. Zin E. Rocklyn               The Night Sun
  43. Kai Leakes                    Sin Eaters
  44. Crystal Conner             In the Valley of Shadows
  45. Eden Royce                   Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror
  46. Nicole Givens Kurtz    Kill Three Birds: A Kingdom of Aves Mystery
  47. Kenya Moss-Dyme       Prey for Me
  48. Chesya Burke               Let’s Play White
  49. Dwayne Alexander Smith Forty Acres
  50. Kenya Moss-Dyme Daymares
  51. Abby Collette A Deadly Inside Scoop
  52. Sylvester Barzey Planet Dead
  53. Necole Ryse A Mistletoe Murder: A Christmas Novella
  54. Tnae Wilcox Not A Violent Bone and Other Stories
  55. Bianca Sloane What You Don’t Know
  56. John Edward Lawson Devil Entendre
  57. Pamela Samuels Young Failure To Protect
  58. Rachel Howzell Hall And Now She’s Gone
  59. Nic Joseph The Night in Question
  60. S.A. Cosby Blacktop Wasteland

Into The Action: Placing Your Reader In The Story

May 9, 2018

People read for adventure, for the chance to escape to a place that is exciting and different. Part of the art of being a writer of great stories is the ability to bring your reader into the scene, to place them dead center in a dramatic shootout or right alongside the main character as she fights off an attacker. The best way to draw your reader in is to engage all of their senses.

Sight:              What should the reader see? The color, the brilliance, the movement of things paints a picture of the scene and your reader can easily bring it to life with their imagination if you give them the right images.

Sound:            What should the reader hear? Is the room so quiet that you could hear the floors settling or is there the soft shuffling of unidentifiable movement all around?

Smell:              What should the reader smell? Is there a sharp, burnt scent originating from the spark that caused the lights to go out?

Touch:            What should the reader feel? Touch is very important; this allows the reader to simulate a physical feeling in their own body. Explain the searing pain that washes over the victim’s bare back as the intruder drags her across the thick carpet.

Taste:              What should the reader taste? Taste is often forgotten but extremely important and does not relate only to food. Describe how the man can taste the smoke caused by the fire that has trapped him in the basement threatening to consume him at any moment.

Of course you cannot, or at least should not try to engage each of the reader’s senses with every new event or idea that you detail, this will bore your reader and could be a distraction, but strategically placed descriptions that allow the reader to use their senses will draw them into the moment in the most intimate way. Bringing your reader into the story by touching all of their senses will give the reader a better-rounded experience and the next time they want to take a trip out of their own world, your book will be the first one they grab.

Jean Nicole Rivers

BWT: The Unwanted: https://tinyurl.com/y89hru75

BWT: The Secret Keepers: https://tinyurl.com/yctrtqft

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

Starting Your Novel Today

March 22, 2018

You were going to start today, but you hardly slept last night so you’re way too tired. You’ll start tomorrow even though you have that “thing” after work so you may or may not get a chance. Also, you really should get a new laptop before you begin, it’s too dark in your office, etc. Many of us want to write a novel but have multiple excuses to keep that dream from ever coming to fruition. Writing a book is not quick or easy, I’m not here to tell you that it is, but the only way to finish one is to start one. Use the tips below to start your great work today!

  1. Get confident
  • Writing a novel can be a long and strenuous process and the only way that you will ever get to the light at the end of the tunnel is to stay positive and persevere. You must tell yourself that it is time and you are writing a novel, not trying to write a novel or thinking about writing a novel. Today is the day you start your book, rain or shine. Make the decision and don’t look back.
  1. Set aside 30 minutes
  • 30 minutes? That’s right! That’s it! 30 minutes is all you need to get started. Schedule it and let your family know that you will be OFF LIMITS for that short period of time.
  1. Get a rough start
  • Use the time that you set aside above and start with 5 of those minutes to summarize your novel in one sentence. This one sentence hardly needs to be perfect, it just needs to be present. Once you have your summary sentence, write the first page of your novel, and just start writing. DO NOT overthink what you are writing. DO NOT worry about having the perfect opening line. DO NOT consider anything but putting one word in front of the other until you have a full page or until the remaining 25 minutes are over. You can do all of the editing you want later, but today is just about getting the words on paper. Once done, take a huge exhale and pat yourself on the back, you have officially begun your novel.

Need a little extra help? Try a writing software like Simply Stylus (simplystylus.com) to help you stay on track. Simply Stylus is in beta (save your work outside of the software) and being offered for free for a limited time.

Completing a novel is one of the most gratifying accomplishments in the world and you can do it. Any start for your novel is better than no start at all. Get started, keep going, finish!

Jean Nicole Rivers

BWT: The Unwanted: https://tinyurl.com/y89hru75

BWT: The Secret Keepers: https://tinyurl.com/yctrtqft

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

Let’s Play: A 60 Seconds of Midnight Story

October 26, 2017

Kiera and Freddie stood in their front doorway, bodies intertwined for warmth, amazed that it was finally happening. The small car came to a stop in their driveway and the door opened. The couple knew that all of the final approvals were complete but had no idea until two days before when their new daughter was coming home for the first time. When Kiera received the call she was excited, but nervous since her husband was due for a business trip at the end of the week which would leave her to parent the child alone at the very start. Ms. Alice of Alice’s Angels Adoption Agency bumbled out of the car, spilling some papers unto the ground, then hastily gathering them up again before opening the back door and allowing Gentry to place one then two small boots on the pavement. Kiera could hardly hold back the tears as the girl ran toward her, her red puffer coat covering a corduroy dress of the same color. “Mommy” She yelled. Kiera hugged the girl, picking her up and swinging her around. Freddie pulled his wife and new daughter close as Kiera’s shoulders heaved and dropped with her sobs.

Over the next hour, Kiera showed her daughter around her new home and introduced her to Pinky, a pet hamster they had purchased especially for Gentry. In love with Pinky at once she could hardly keep herself from the little animal or from Doc, the family’s golden retriever. Kiera and Freddie then hosted Alice for tea and cake and they talked for an hour before Ms. Alice finally announced her departure, “I really should get going and allow you all some time to spend with Gentry, especially since you will be away for a couple of days soon, Freddie. I want to give you as much time to spend with your family this week as possible.”

“We could not be happier, Alice.” Kiera whispered as she walked the woman to the door.

“Don’t thank me. It’s what I do.” The woman said as she barreled toward her vehicle. With a quick wave she ducked in through the car door and was soon out of sight.

That night as Kiera tucked her daughter into bed for the first time, she read her a story. “Can I play with Pinky?” a sleepy Gentry asked. “Not anymore tonight, sweetie. You are tired. We can play with him in the morning.” Kiera turned off the lamp leaving the glow of the night light to cast ominous shapes on the walls.

Morning seemed to come earlier than usual with Gentry’s excessive knocking on her parents’ bedroom door. “Mommy, daddy! Can I play with Pinky?” She was asking. Kiera and Freddie looked at one another before he smiled, “So this is what being a parent is like, huh?”

Kiera adjusted the thermostat to warm the chilly house before she came up the stairs and made her way to Gentry’s room. She crossed the room to take Pinky’s cage off of the high dresser and placed it on the floor. “Pinky.” Kiera said trying to rouse the little rodent. “Perhaps he’s still sleeping. Pinky?” She called again as she swished her fingers through the dressings. She felt a cold, hard mound. Kiera jumped, pulling her finger back. Shaking the dressings away revealed Pinky’s stiff body.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” Gentry asked.

“Nothing, I just don’t think that Pinky is doing too well this morning. I’m going to have daddy look at him, ok? Wash your face and come down for breakfast.”

Freddie seemed somewhat relieved, “He was a rodent, and they die all the time. I’m kind of glad he’s gone, those things are nasty. She can play with Doc.”

“I guess. Can you get rid of him?” Kiera asked before going into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

“Sure thing.” Her husband said, disappearing with the cage.

It was Gentry’s first night in their home and her animal had died. It was Kiera’s second day having a child and she was now going to have to explain life’s biggest catch…death.

“Can I play with Pinky?” Gentry asked again over her eggs.

Kiera looked nervously over her coffee cup to her husband then back to Gentry. “I’m sorry, honey, but you can’t.”

“Why not?” She wanted to know.

“Because Pinky is…dead.” She finally said.

Gentry looked bewildered then spoke again.

“So?” Gentry asked again, her brown eyes completely blank.

Kiera stopped short and turned to face the girl.

Freddie quickly cut in. “Because when something dies, it has to be buried. It goes away.”

“Oh.” Gentry said, returning quickly to her breakfast.

All that day Kiera kept an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach that could be traced back to the breakfast conversation, but her husband was convinced that it was not strange, nothing more than a child’s simple reaction to a complex concept. Kiera wasn’t convinced, but she would not put up a fight. Still she wished that Freddie didn’t have to leave for his business trip the following day. The next morning as Kiera started to wake Gentry, the girl popped up almost as if she hadn’t been sleeping at all, “Can I play with Doc? Huh, momma? Can I?”

Instantly a dread crept up in the new mother. Doc was a good dog, but during the night Kiera would usually hear him bark at least once or twice, but she realized that the night before he had been exceptionally quiet. Scrambling down the stairs, Kiera called for her dog, “DOC!”

Freddie emerged from the bedroom. “You can’t find Doc? Did you let him in last night?”

“Of course, I let him in.” she snapped. They both searched the house but no Doc. In the backyard Kiera noticed that the gate was flapping open, “Doc” she called as she crossed the yard. Her husband was close behind her. She closed the gate and then turned back to the house and that was when she saw something brown on the side of the air conditioning unit. “Doc.” Kiera called nervously as she ran up and touched her dog’s rigid body. His head was a mess of wounds and gashes. “Jesus.” Freddie said, pulling his sobbing wife away from the animal into the house, passing Gentry who watched with a dull expression.

That evening Kiera lay in bed, sipping tea. The television was on and her eyes were trained on it, but she wasn’t watching.

“I really wish that I didn’t have to go, but my mother is coming in the morning to stay until I return, ok.” Freddie informed her. “I made sure to lock the gate so that whatever came out of those woods and attacked Doc can’t get back in.”

Kiera’s eyes darted toward her husband. “The woods…” She said.

“Sure, what else could it have been?” He asked. Kiera’s eyes rolled up into her head.

Before leaving for the airport, Freddie put his daughter to bed and Kiera was so exhausted from the emotional stress, she was sleeping no later than he was gone. Something in the dark house woke Kiera in the middle of the night. The hallway light flicked on and she heard massive footsteps crashing down the hall until the shadow stood right outside of her door.

“Mommy, can we play?” A deep, guttural voice asked.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

The Soul Seeker By: Jean Nicole Rivers

October 5, 2017

As the wind picked up, Arlene tightened her ill-fitting coat around her and then knocked on the door again, harder this time. Over the last few days, since her husband’s unexpected death, her eyes had dulled, her hair grew unkempt and her body had taken to inconspicuous but constant trembling.

An older man finally pulled the heavy wooden door open without a word of greeting. The silent man with the lines of worry cut deep into his face already knew why she was here, same reason as the others before her. The pair eyed one another solemnly until Arlene managed to swallow the lump in her throat.

“Th..the Soul Seeker…is that here?” She asked, her voice shuddering.

The man’s body deflated immediately expressing more sadness and even a hint of anger, anger at himself for still having hope that for once someone at the door would be a regular visitor, a jovial family member or loyal friend, the type they had not received since Betty was able to walk and talk. While he still refused to speak, he stepped aside and allowed her into the home. He started down the hall and Arlene followed. As they made their way to the belly of the old home they passed an opening into a parlor area where a woman whose appearance told a story of such pain that her eyes never had a chance to dry spoke to a priest in murmurs that ended snappishly when they saw Arlene pass.

At the end of the hall the man opened a door and allowed Arlene to step inside of a room filled with as much sunlight as the dim day offered. He closed the door behind her without ever speaking a word and for a moment she listened to his footsteps disappear in the distance. Arlene searched the room and in the corner spotted a little girl draped in a colorful frock.

“You? You’re the soul seeker?” Arlene spoke, her confusion obvious.

“No, of course not silly, I’m just a little girl…but, I am the vessel for her, she speaks through me.”

Arlene suddenly felt as if all of the terror in the world had been bottled up and was now being pumped directly into her veins, she turned and twisted frantically at the unmoving knob on the door.

“You found my information in your husband’s things, right? He came a few weeks ago with his desires and I told him what needed to be done as no dream comes to fruition without sacrifice. He had ten days to deliver the blood of an innocent.”

Arlene was quaking now. “He tried to kill a man and was shot and killed himself in the process.”

“His failure is a pity as now the responsibility falls to you. His debt to the soul seeker must be paid by you, his next of kin. If you do not deliver the blood she will take yours and your debt will be passed on to your next of kin.”

“My son? No! There has to be some other way. Please, I am begging you! My son is just a child.” Arlene said throwing herself to her knees.

Betty stood over the kneeling woman as a dark figure grew out of her, towering over both humans covering them in shadow. “10 days.” It growled.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers

Train To Busan: Easily a Top 10 Zombie Film

October 4, 2017

Train To Busan is a South Korean zombie film that is currently on Netflix and you cannot in good conscience call yourself a horror fan let alone a zombie fan unless you have seen it. It is easily a top 10 zombie flick and here is why.

  1. Unique Setting
    1. A train! It’s extremely difficult to make a zombie film work in such a small space because how long can you run from hordes of zombies in a confined space? Not long, but Train to Busan somehow manages to keep us entertained in this narrow space. There is a point where the action moves into the train station but only for a short period of time then it’s back to the train. The closest that we’ve come is Quarantine 2: Terminal where the action starts in a plane, but quickly moves to an airplane terminal which gives them much more space to run and hide from the undead.
  2. Unlikely Hero
    1. How often is the funny, quirky guy also the film’s action hero? Whelp, that’s exactly what we get with Sang-hwa who makes saving his pregnant wife his number 1 priority. He is smart, strategic and kicks zombie butt which gives him a special place in the true zombie lover’s heart.
  3. Constant Action
    1. The action is fast-paced, hard hitting and almost nonstop once it gets started which takes about 20 mins. The film is a little slow at first as they set the story, but once we get on the train, things pick up fast and rarely slow down. Zombie films have a tendency to lull strategically in order to give the viewer a false sense of security and the survivors time to bond and set up rules and routine of the new world as they know it, but Train To Busan gives us NO time to breathe.

Good zombie films are the rare gems of the horror industry and we definitely found one with Train to Busan.

Jean Nicole Rivers

Jeannicolerivers.com

@jeannicole19

https://www.facebook.com/JNicoleRivers/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832487.Jean_Nicole_Rivers