The Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge July 2020 {[All Authors]}

This amazing Picture Prompt challenge has been hosted for the last 3 years by our lovely, Nina D’Arcangela. She selects four pictures and distributes them out to all the women authors who sign up to play along. Check out everyone’s work here:


July 20th – Ellie by Kendra Hale

July 22nd – John by Kathleen McCluskey

July 24th – Head’s Swimming by Sonora Taylor

July 26th – Odokuro by Tawny Kipphorn

July 28th – Last Meal by Angela Yuriko Smith

July 30th – Death’s Head Fall by Naching T. Kassa

August 1st – Phasing by Sheikha A.


July 20th – Journey Out of Time by Rie Sheridan Rose

July 22nd – NPC by Michelle Joy Gallagher

July 24th – Incantation by Christina Sng

July 26th – Deeper Shade of Dark by Terrie Leigh Relf

July 28th – The Sea Nymphs of Furthest Reach by K.R. Morrison

July 30th – Miscreation by Tiffany Michelle Brown

August 1st – The Temple by Holli Walker


July 21st – The Bet by Elaine Pascale

July 23rd – The Road Taken by Marge Simon

July 25th – Perpetual Peace by Ela Lourenco

July 27th – Beyond the Fog by Linda Lee Rice

July 29th – Sparks Like Stars by Scarlett R. Algee

July 31st – Absent of Me by Melissa R. Mendelson

August 2nd – The Buried by Asena Lourenco


July 21st – Where the Ghosts Lie by A.F. Stewart

July 23rd – The Outside by Bailey Hunter

July 25th – The Fear by Alex Grey

July 27th – Grave Discussion by Kim Richards

July 29th – Niran by Lydia Prime


July 2020 Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge: Niran | @LydiaPrime

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!


by Lydia Prime

Guards of bone struggled as they pulled a wispy spirit from within its holding cell. A short journey between buildings, but the creature wiggles tirelessly trying to avoid being chained. With a clever fake out, one of the captors secured it, allowing his cohort to start towards the door. The small structure was nothing short of a sardine can that all unfortunates wallowed in prior to their hearings. However over crowded it seemed, somehow more always managed to be squeezed in; centuries would pass and more were always held rather than seen.
The guard’s bony hand (held together by who knows what) clanged against the iron gate as he opened it for his company to pass through. In front of them was a massive stone crypt, a home for long deceased elders; those who’d stalked the darkness as scaly beasts began to crawl out of the sea. The metal door opening created a slight breeze within the stale room. Dual lanterns wavered against the damp enclosure, their dim flicker barely illuminated the features of the waiting immortals.
A single ghoul jittered restlessly in his undersized cage; munching on scraps of stubborn muscle that clung to the child femur he’d been able to snatch. Banging echoed from behind the walls – the undead were infamous for their bloodlust. The building shook, the aging stone threatened to buckle from their force.
As the guards held their vaporous prisoner in place with iron chains, the soul eaters of the group perked up, mouths watering from the explosive energy. The mistreated ghoul growled and snarled at them as they passed.
“Niran, of the Phi Pop. Criminal act: exposing the existence of your kind.” A chorus of gags, boos, and curses reverberated around the surprisingly tight chamber.
“Order! Order!” demanded the shadowed speaker, “have you anything to say for this act of gross negligence?” Its long slender fingers rapped against a casket that laid before it.
Niran’s form burned from the sacred iron, but he would not grant them the satisfaction of knowing. He drifted before the court and raised his arms. “The Phi Pop are a proud race. Possessing humans and devouring intestines. Hell, it even takes an exorcism of dancing fools to rid the flesh host of us.” Low murmurs from the back sprinkled over the room’s tense atmosphere.
“Of course, someone would gain proof of our being – how could they not with a rule like that? I ask you, is that truly a crime that I am to be punished for? Would it not make more sense, your dishonorables, to allow me to correct the matter?”
Niran was slick. He always knew exactly what to say in order to get what he wanted. The guards tugged at his chains, callously pulling him back towards them. A heavy silence filled the room, one could almost hear the sound of dust gathering upon the cobwebs.
“Niran, your point may be valid, however an example must be made. You are guilty and let this be a lesson to all Phi Pop; sloppy mistakes will not be tolerated.” The banging started again, the names and dates that marked the walls chipped. Low chanting buzzed through the darkness, dark silhouettes phased in and out of the lantern light. The decomposing representative who spoke for the council stood, opening the coffin he’d been using as a desk. A freshly extinguished human body laid within; bloody streaks still trickling from its eyes, mouth and nose. Its soul was missing, only the meat remained. “You know what to do.” He rasped as he waved his hand over the carcass and towards the skeletal beings.
Niran felt terror, an emotion he’d only ever been able to experience during possession of a human. He tried to resist, but their grip was absolute. He was abruptly forced into the corpse, his limbs immobile, though he could still hear, still see. The festering prison was a toxin to Niran’s very being. Although in a rapid state of decay, the eyes dashed frantically around the room, trying desperately to see what would happen next.
The horde of fists beat from behind the walls, growing louder and more intense. All manner of creatures howled and clapped as they bore witness. The representative instructed another guard to release the ghoul for some exercise and laughed with such a deep foul humor. The room quieted, all spectators on the edges of their seats.
Slowly and carefully the guard moved the crate near Niran; the cage door quickly removed. Instantly the ravenous ghoul chowed down on the body Niran was occupying. He shrieked in pain as it tore through his chest, working its way to his face. The ghoul bit down on Niran’s tongue, slurping it down while his hands ripped out his vocal chords. The room remained hushed; the wet splashes of sinew hitting the ground and muted gurgles echoed in the chamber.
When it was finished, Niran was trapped inside a half devoured cadaver; his anguish was only beginning.
Stomach protruding, the ghoul climbed back into its crate, happily satisfied with its meal.
“An example: sloppy work will not be tolerated – by any race.” The speaker intoned. “Now bury him beyond the cemetery lines.”
All those in attendance gasped, being buried outside hallowed grounds meant never being able to return in any form. Obediently, the guards picked up the pine box and carried it out of the mausoleum. The speaker returned to his seat and gestured for a recess, he’d grown hungry after that last case.
Fiction © Copyright Lydia Prime
Image courtesy of


More from author Lydia Prime:


Graveyard Smash:
Women of Horror Anthology Vol. 2

Step through the prettiest cemetery gates you’ve ever seen and experience tombstone raves and widow’s dances, Japanese snow-spirits, Aztec bruja and temple goddesses, vengeful ghosts, djinn and cannibals, vampire hunters, plague bearers, graverobbers, and terrors beyond reason. Read through the night as the dead rise from boneyards all around the world!

#FRIGHTGIRLSUMMER recommended reading!

Featuring chilling tales from:
Christy Aldridge
Carmen BacaDemi-Louise Blackburn
R.A. Busby
V. Castro
Dawn DeBraal
Ellie Douglas
Tracy Fahey
Dona Fox
Cassidy Frost
Michelle Renee Lane
Beverley Lee
J.A.W. McCarthy
Catherine McCarthy
Susan McCauley
Ksenia Murray
Ally Peirse
Janine Pipe
Lydia Prime
Paula R.C. Readman
Yolanda Sfetsos
Sonora Taylor

Edited by Jill Girardi
With foreword by Doc Holocausto (Evilspeak Magazine, Harvest Ritual, Creepy Crawls)

Available on Amazon!


Damned Words 43



Nina D’Arcangela

Jabba-jaw, raking claw, with haste to the frenzy you did make.
The fray engaged, you are quick to slay any beast brought to slaughter.
Fierce clashing, teeth snapping, bones split beneath hammering rage.
Yet fleet of feet, it has you beat, as it fells your carcass to ground.
The battle fought, fury spent naught; your grin the jester’s call.
With placid lips and eager sips, it sups where you did fall.

The Bones of Her Earth
Charles Gramlich

Her name at ten was Melody. She lived amid the avocado green woods on Millstone Mountain in Arkansas, near a town called Liberty. Melody had hair like a thicket of weeds and eyes no one ever looked into. She had thoughts no one offered a copper penny for, and all her words she kept in her mouth so they couldn’t be slapped away by Mama.

Her name at twelve was Holly, after the necklace and wristlets of red berries she always wore. Most days, she spent in the woods, eating hickory nuts and wild cherries in season, eating other things no one ever thought to name. She caught tadpoles and carried them in her pockets until they dried hard and dark as rabbit turds. Then she buried them and made wishes over their graves. The wishes never came true.

At fourteen, her name was Harmony. She’d learned to sing the pain of her bruises through the heat of the summer like the cicadas. She would lie in the creek and place flat stones on her belly. The smooth weight comforted her scars. Sometimes she slept out under a roof of cedars and stars and dreamt of flying through the trees like dragonflies. She always awoke before she grew wings.

At sixteen, she threw away her names. That was the year she found the jawbones, white on the ground amid frost-killed leaves. She prayed to them as Gods. They answered. Carrying them in her fists, she returned to the house she’d never called home. The bones were no longer white when she was finished with Mama.

Marge Simon

Today is Wednesday, the day the Beast people come for the dying. The grown-up’s call them ghouls. Once, the Beast people lived deep in the earth and ate dead bodies. But now they came up to stay here. They wear long, hooded cloaks and their breaths rattle as they move. It’s like the sound his father made when he was so sick. Papa coughed all night, even in his sleep. On a Wednesday, the Beast people came and took his father away. Now Mama is very sick too.

When the sun passes to afternoon, he is worried about her. If he stays in the house, they’ll come in. They’ll hide in the shadows and wait for Mama to die. That’s what they did when his father got so sick. He’s sure they want her too. Two miles up the road is the cemetery. He decides he will lure them away from Mama.

When he sees them coming, he goes outside and runs as fast as he can all the way to the cemetery. He is out of breath, but first he walks around, searching the gravestones. One of them has to be his Papa’s, but he can’t remember where it is. He’d come with Mama to put flowers on it last week, but there are no graves with flowers and he can’t read. Exhausted, he sinks to the ground, bumping into a peculiar shape. The headstone creaks, the ground gives way and he falls in. When his eyes adjust to the dim light, he sees the cavern is filled with long skulls and old bones. The skulls have the Beast people’s faces.

Above, he hears the rattle of their breathing coming closer. This must be their secret burial place. There’s nowhere to hide. He starts to cry.

In the Forest
A.F. Stewart

Shall I tell you a story, little one?

No, no, wait, don’t back away. Stay here, with me, and listen. I’m sure you will find it fascinating. My tale is about this forest, you see.

They say this woodland is haunted, don’t they? Well, they’re correct. Spirits move past the trees, within the wind, and worse, the ravenous dead walk here, among the bones.

Can’t you hear their murmuring voices growing closer?

They’re hungry. Always hungry.

I think you understand now, why the villagers told you not to come, not to hunt here. This forest kills everything that enters, and nothing ever leaves.

They’re here now. Can you see them, those pitiful skeletons, gnashing their jaws? You can run if you like, but you’ll be dead soon whatever you do. The forest takes us all.

We all remain.

Until we are nothing but bones.

And cursed souls.

New Friend
Lydia Prime

As little Melanie burst through the back door, curtains flew and the screen-door slammed shut. Mommy yelled for her to stop, but she was going so fast in her slippery shoes that she skidded halfway across the room. She could see her mother eyeing the mud on her new lace dress. With hands on hips, and a scowl on her face, Mommy’s pinched lips said everything her mouth didn’t need to.

Melanie started to protest before Mommy could speak, but one quick snap of the towel she always wore over her shoulder was enough to silence the child. As mother’s hand reached out for what Melanie was hiding behind her back, a pot lid rattled on the stove. Mommy turned thinking it was boiling over, but it wasn’t. Melanie took a step backwards.

Focused on her daughter once again, mother reached out and gestured, but Melanie didn’t want to hand over her prize, it had told her not to.

As Mommy took a step forward, she heard something rattle in the ‘fridge. Melanie was slowly sliding backwards into the hallway as she watched her mother open the icebox. The eggs were tipped and fell to the floor with a smash! Mommy bent down to clean the mess, and when she did, the large, glass milk bottle began to jiggle.

Melanie quickly turned and brought her new friend up to her face, panic flashed in her eyes. The chuckle that ran through her sent a shiver down her spine.

Watch, the voice slithered through her mind.

Melanie turned as the heavy jug crashed into Mommy’s skull and split it in two. Now put me in the puddle to feed, the bones intoned. With little choice, Melanie did as she was told. She was, after all, a good girl.

RJ Meldrum

Cody heard the truck. Pop was back from hunting. He parked in front of the house. Pop had been successful. A buck. Pop climbed down.

“I want this dressed. Skull needs to be bleached, I want it in my trophy room.”

That was where he kept his skulls and stuffed heads.

“I was gonna go swimming.”

His father’s face went dark. He grabbed the scruff of Cody’s shirt.

“I didn’t raise no pansy, I raised a man, one who can see to his own meat.”

“Yes, pa.”

“Now, get working, while I grab a beer.”

Cody went to the back of the truck to see a bloodstained deer on the truck bed. He got to work.

It took hours. His hatred for his father grew. Every day he was forced to ‘man up’. Forced to play sports he hated, crushed by boys twice his size. Forced to shoot helpless animals. Forced to cut them open, cleave their flesh, rip out their bones for display. He hated it all and he hated his father.

He stared down at the skull, boiling in the huge pot on the outside gas burner. After a couple of hours, he removed it from the water and scraped all the meat off. Cody stared down at the eye sockets. What had this creature felt, just before it died?

He knew what he had to do. He had to avenge the deaths of all the slaughtered creatures. He had to avenge himself.

Later, after sunset, he stood on the threshold of his father’s bedroom. Cody had split the skull in half and reattached the two parts with leather straps. He was wearing it, his face obscured. He was no longer Cody, he was nature. He held Pop’s favorite hunting knife.

The moon emerged. It was time.

What Remains
Mercedes M. Yardley

“Hey. Hey. Marissa.”

She ignored it, ignored the way that it chattered and teased and always called her by the wrong name. She walked past it resolutely, a discarded piece of bone nipping at her heels as she strode by.

“Hey. Melanie. Just pick me up. Take me home. Let’s play together. There are so many different ways to play together.” The animal skull grinned at her. Funny how skulls are always forced to grin. She didn’t believe being dead was as much fun as the living were led to believe.

She pulled her laundry from the line and spun around quickly, avoiding the snapping of the skull’s jaws as it lurched at her feet. She hopped over it and headed home.

“Wait. Wait,” it called after her, and she closed her eyes as she heard it whimper and snarl. It buried itself under the leaves and debris, crafting a safe little home for itself until she passed by again in the morning.

Mark Steinwachs

The streak of sunlight across the bone makes the situation seem worse. The gods illuminating what I could plainly see. Not a scrap left. I crouch down and take the lower jaw, turning it over, hoping there would be some bit of flesh. Clean. My fingers trace the scratches left in the bone. I shudder and set it down. I lift the upper jaw, not wanting to turn it over. Like the piece before, its clean. The teeth marks in this one etched deeper in bone, its hunger not satiated. I stop myself before throwing the bone across the forest. What good would that do? I did the best I could, and my offering wasn’t good enough. I stand up, remove my shirt, and draw my knife. I slowly run the sharpened blade across my chest, blood oozing.

No animal makes a sound. The wind rustling dried leaves stills. I join nature in stillness, my last moments. Silence. A sharp, hissing breath from behind me followed by searing pain. My last vision is its unholy darkness and razor, white teeth.

Scarlett R. Algee

Find me, the bones had whispered. Find me. Feed me. Let me protect you.

I’d discovered them by accident last night as I’d crunched through the snow blanketing my backyard: the two damaged halves of a jaw, lying in a cocoon of dead leaves atop the powder. What they were, I didn’t know, except that they were too white and too gleaming: scraped clean.

And that they were exactly what I needed.

Now I lay them, still reverently cradled in my gloves, on my laboratory table, apart from all the other pieces I’ve gathered in the past year. Ribs. Vertebrae. Limbs. Teeth. All of them had whispered to me, little indistinct murmurs, little urges of wanting to be again. None had spoken clear words until I’d found the jaws last night.

Find me. Feed me.

Some sort of intelligence resting in the bones. I shake out the rest of my tools: hammer and chisel and screws, lengths of wire and leather thongs. Enough to bind these shards into something whole, because the urge to be is strong.

Listen, the bleached jaws whisper, and I bend my ear to their words and begin to work. First the bones, then skin, then blood.

Listen, I hear again, and I know that whatever I’m creating this night, it will be enough.

Lee Andrew Forman

Soaked in crimson, its feasts had been legendary. Limb from body, head from torso, sinew and organs consumed; yet its appetite never fully sated. Memories that live deep within the remains of a banished soul. Unwritten from scripture, cast from history, forgotten by time; these bare, arid bones wait for the caress of the unsuspecting. A taste of copper-tang that will bring about its awakening.

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2020
Image © Copyright Lee Andrew Forman

Kandisha Press interview series celebrating release of Graveyard Smash part 8

Janine's Ghost Stories

Welcome back! Today we have an interview with the very talented and lovely Yolanda Sfetsos.

Hello and welcome to the blog! Please tell me a little about yourself

Thanks for having me over.

I live in Sydney, Australia with my hubby and kitty. I also have a daughter who’s currently living in the Northern Hemisphere.

When I’m not writing or daydreaming about story ideas, I’m usually reading. I love collecting books and have bookshelves and piles all over the place. I love going for walks with hubby and doing yoga. We also used to go on thrift store adventures, but since the world has changed so much, we haven’t done that for several months.

Thank you.

Now for some questions

Q1 When did you first begin the journey to becoming a writer and why choose dark fiction?

I started writing when I was in my early teens, but used to…

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Kandisha Press interview series celebrating release of Graveyard Smash TODAY!

Janine's Ghost Stories

Welcome and Happy Pub Day to Graveyard Smash! We celebrate by chatting with the lovely Dona Fox.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog! I am currently an author and a poet. Formerly, I served over two decades as a senior legal analyst for the federal government and the state of California in various capacities which included working for the United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., then for the United States Attorney’s Office in the state capitol where I worked with the FBI in the White Collar Crime Division, and eventually at the State Public Defender where I assisted in preparing the appeals for inmates on California’s Death Row. I can assure you, sitting beside a condemned prisoner in a cage at San Quentin is just as surreal as The Silence of the Lambs would have you believe yet I learned, in preparing the life histories of the…

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Kandisha Press interview series – Hell yes, it is out in the wild, baby!!!

Janine's Ghost Stories

Graveyard Smash is available to buy – NOW. Order HERE.

And to celebrate, here is an interview with my TOC buddy, the gorgeous, amazingly talented lady who is a very good friend of mine – Catherine McCarthy.

Please tell me a little about yourself.

Catherine McCarthy grew up in the industrial valleys of South Wales, U.K. where she taught in primary education for more than twenty years.

Having been ‘shown the light’ by her mother, who had the tradition of oral story-telling down to a fine art, she soon developed an insatiable appetite for all things literary.

Her first published novel, The Gatekeeper’s Apprentice, is a fantasy, magical adventure for middle grade readers. Still in love with some of the characters from this novel, she has since woven them into her adult fiction, and also has spellbinding plans for them in the future.

Her second novel, Hope Cottage, is a…

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RELEASE: Graveyard Smash: Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2

I’m super pleased to announce that my story, “South Dakota,” is included in this tremendously horrific anthology!


Step through the prettiest cemetery gates you’ve ever seen and experience tombstone raves and widow’s dances, Japanese snow-spirits, Aztec bruja and temple goddesses, vengeful ghosts, djinn and cannibals, vampire hunters, plague bearers, graverobbers, and terrors beyond reason. Read through the night as the dead rise from boneyards all around the world!

#FRIGHTGIRLSUMMER recommended reading!

Featuring chilling tales from:
Christy Aldridge
Carmen Baca
Demi-Louise Blackburn
R.A. Busby
V. Castro
Dawn DeBraal
Ellie Douglas
Tracy Fahey
Dona Fox
Cassidy Frost
Michelle Renee Lane
Beverley Lee
J.A.W. McCarthy
Catherine McCarthy
Susan McCauley
Ksenia Murray
Ally Peirse
Janine Pipe
Lydia Prime
Paula R.C. Readman
Yolanda Sfetsos
Sonora Taylor

Edited by Jill Girardi
With foreword by Doc Holocausto (Evilspeak Magazine, Harvest Ritual, Creepy Crawls)

Click the image above to be directed to Amazon or check out the links below:

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paper Back

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil |India | The Netherlands


Apple Books/iTunes | Kobo | Barnes and Noble |

Book Review: Under Black Wings – 2020 Women of Horror Anthology

Steve Stred - The Official Website


Title: Under Her Black Wings – 2020 Women of Horror Anthology

Author: Kandisha Press

Release date: January 12, 2020

It’s odd sometimes in the book world how things can get missed. Somehow, I completely missed checking this anthology out when it was announced at the start of the year. Now, whether that was because it was offered up on Kendall Reviews and someone else snagged it, or simply because there is SO MUCH amazing work coming out, for whatever reason, this wasn’t even on my radar until just last week, when Sonora Taylor put me in touch with Jill Girardi of Kandisha Press about reviewing Vol. 2. Jill asked if I’d like to check out Vol. 1, which I happily agreed to read. I devoured Vol. 2 in one sitting. It was amazing. I immediately dove into Vol. 1 once finished and over the course of a few days, cruised…

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Kandisha Press interview series celebrating Graveyard Smash release – part 7

Janine's Ghost Stories

Every single female in this anthology is outstanding and amazing. However, there are a couple of shining stars who I think are destined to make it to The Big Times. V is one of those ladies – welcome today to V. Castro.

Q1 When did you first begin the journey to becoming a writer and why chose dark fiction?

I have always been drawn to dark stories since I was a child. I’m Mexican American and there are so many folk tales and urban legends I grew up hearing.

For me dark fiction allows me a freedom to be who I want and explore the darker sides of myself and the world.

Q2 Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing?

There are too many amazing authors and films to list. But Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was my first horror book.

Q3 Do you…

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Kandisha Press interview series celebrating release of Graveyard Smash – part 6

Janine's Ghost Stories

Welcome the lovely, gorgeous ‘ginger kid’, Lydia Prime!

Please tell me a little about yourself.

Hey Janine! Thank you so much for having me. I’m actually just your every day average ginger kid with no soul, who enjoys the darker things of life. You know, pretty standard stuff. When I’m not writing I’m usually behind an 800 number helping people pay their bills or deal with their anger. Glamorous right? C’est la vie. I absolutely love gummy bears and dark chocolate with almonds. If I’m not hanging out in the horror world, I flip over to comedy.

Thank you.

Now for some questions.

Q1 When did you first begin the journey to becoming a writer and why chose dark fiction?

I suppose, if I reach way back into the deepest corners of my mind, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. At least since my sixth grade English class when…

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