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12 Suspenseful Reads with Religious Themes

12 Suspenseful Reads with Religious Themes

Death of the Body was recently featured on in this incredible list of 12 Suspenseful Reads with Religious Themes.

If you enjoy the Crossing Death series and are waiting for the final installment, Death of the Soul, take a quick look at this list of books, which seems specifically curated to hold you over while I continue writing!

Click through to the site on the image below for an excellent video summary, and to see the curated list of novels that delve into the struggle of good vs evil.


My Favorite Halloween Moments

Two True Terrific Memories

There are a two Halloween memories that really stick out in my mind as some of the happiest moments of my life. The first was when a group of my friends and I went down to The Haunted Forest, an outdoor haunted house attraction in American Fork, Utah. A friend of mine, Hilary, brought a date and was so terrified that she ran as fast as she could through the whole event. I think I only saw her for the first 20 or 30 seconds before she disappeared, pulling her poor dates’ arm off in the process.

After getting out of the attraction myself, we found her chatting with some of the other members of the group about how she missed some of the most entertaining parts of the haunted house. This made me very sad, because I knew that as scared as she was, she didn’t REALLY get the full experience.

Near the end of every haunted attraction in Utah, you can guarantee a guy with a chainsaw will be there to chase you out. Me and my friend approached this chainsaw man while he was waiting for the next victims to arrive, and explained that our poor friend Hilary really didn’t have much of a chance to experience being scared (she totally missed the awesome flame thrower and the creepy children!).

Surprisingly, the actor broke character. “I’m not allowed to go past those rocks,” he said, pointing to the boundary, about twenty feet away from where Hilary was standing.

“If we get her over there, can you help us out?” we asked.

The man agreed, so we rejoined the group waiting for some of the stragglers to get out, and engaged in conversation, ever so slightly inching the circle closer and closer toward the rocks.

It must have taken fifteen minutes or longer to get Hilary to where she was finally within the boundary. I thought after all that time the actor would have forgotten our request but as soon as Hilary stepped one foot inside the legal chain-saw-massacring zone, the actor charged up behind her, chainsaw in hand.


Now imagine not only feeling totally safe because you’ve already made it out alive, but hearing the chainsaw after some stranger screams your name!

“Hilary!” the actor growled, starting the chainsaw just behind her back.

I’ve never seen someone jump so high in my life. She soared over her date, and ran so fast that she plowed me over and scurried up and over my friend faster than a squirrel could scale a tree.

The actor high-fived me as everyone died of laughter.

To this day I remember watching how expertly this actor snuck up behind Hilary, with a quick but calculated gait. It had to be one of the most incredibly timed, perfectly executed shuffle, name calling, and chainsaw-starting events in the history of the world.

My apologizes to poor Hilary, but I still look back on that night with fond memories. And before Hilary blames me entirely, yes, her date was in on it.

My other favorite Halloween memory was a spur-of-the-moment Halloween night decision. I was in my early teens and had no plans (and the cutoff age for trick-or-treating in my house was 12). I decided to dress in my dad’s giant camouflage clothes, and stuff myself with newspaper. A ski mask, some sunglasses, and some black eyeliner to fill in where skin was still visible completed my costume. I tied the ends of the sleeves and legs off, and even put some newspaper hanging out of my eye socket. All of the lumps and bumps made it very hard to tell that there was an actual person inside the baggy clothes.


I’ve always been a small, skinny guy, so by the time I was done I looked more like those leaf-garbage-bag scarecrow-type things you sometimes see on people’s porches in the fall.

I then took a bowl from the kitchen and filled it with candy, and taped on a sign that said “Please just take one.”

I’m sure you can see where this is going, and it wasn’t an original or novel idea, but the execution was thrilling. I sat on the porch, slumped in a chair. I had people come up and kick me, pinch me, and otherwise try to prove I was alive. Afterward, some of them decided to be safe and take just one piece of candy anyway. Those people never saw me move.

I remember two guys in particular, who debated whether or not I was real. They pushed my leg back and forth a few times (which I let swing gently, just like it would if there were just a broom stick in the pant leg). They decided not to risk it.

I’m afraid a poor innocent lady, who I couldn’t even see coming up the sidewalk, got the worst of it. The guy in front of her decided to take more than one piece of candy. I grabbed his hand so quickly that even he was startled and yelled, “The sign says just ONE.”

The woman dropped her bag of candy, grabbed her child, and ran down the street screaming bloody murder. She never did come back.

The next year my little sister played the stuffed guy on the porch while I yelled at people from on the roof. My entire family still looks back on those years with fondness.

What are some of your favorite Halloween memories?! Tell me about them in the comments below.


Death of the Spirit Blog Tour

presented by Verna Loves Books

Click to visit Verna Loves Books

October 25th through November 1, 2015

These wonderful bloggers are hosting reviews, promos, giveaways, and more for Death of the Spirit. Celebrate this spooky time of year and support the bloggers on their given day. Click the links below to read their reviews, comment on their posts, and enter to win!

Thank you, Verna!

Click to visit Verna Loves Books

Be sure to click the banner above to visit Verna Loves Books. Also, you can follow Verna on Facebook





Indie BookFest 2015 is a three-day event celebrating indie/hybrid/traditional authors and artists and their freedom of expression. Join some of your favorite authors for three days filled with a book signing, sessions, lunch, author meet and greets, an after party, and great fun!

You won’t want to miss the sessions throughout the day, where panelists will be speaking on a variety of topics relevant to readers, book lovers, and writers.
Indie BookFest 2015 will be held at Caribe Royale in Orlando, Fl., on July 31, August 1, & 2, 2015
The Caribe Royale is located just 1.5 miles from the Walt Disney World® area!


Over 60 authors representing indie, hybrid and traditional publishing will be featured at this premier author and reader event.
Keynote speaker is multi-award winning author Jana Oliver.
This weekend is all about readers connecting and finding new authors to love. There are reader panels, a Fan Fare where readers can hang out with the authors, a Gothic Romance party, a gourmet luncheon, Author sponsored parties, and a book signing.
View the Schedule of Events
$75 Buys an Entire weekend pass which includes all of the parties and the luncheon Saturday!
Buy Tickets HERE
Are you a blogger? Get a blogger media pass for $50!
Help us promote the event!
It includes all of the above as well as a casual Author/ Blogger breakfast.
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Friday the 13th Release of Death of the Spirit (Crossing Death #2)

Title: Death of the Spirit (Crossing Death #2)

Author: Rick Chiantaretto

Genre: New Adult Epic Fantasy, Occult, Suspense, Dark Fantasy

I have no idea who I am anymore.

In Los Angeles, I would have given anything to go home to Orenda, my world where magic was alive and nature spoke to me. Now that I’m back I feel out of place, burdened with responsibility. The human part of me misses the simplicity of Earth, the mage part begs for connection with magic, and the demon part? I don’t want to admit that exists.

As the darkness inside me grows, I’ll learn to sacrifice for the greater good, as my people have always done. In order to save my family (both mage and human alike), I must face my nightmare, embrace the demon, and descend into the shadowy world of my enemy—the Hell of the Damned.

Once there, I will have nothing left to fear but myself: Edmund Gavel, human, mage, demon… maybe monster.


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I watched in disbelief as blood seeped through my fingers and dripped, thick as syrup, to the ground. I heard each drop thud against the ground beneath me. The echo in my ears beat louder than any drum.

This time, it was different.

This time, it was someone else’s blood.

The descent into insanity was like plunging into a frigid lake. The hair on my arms stood on end as blood turned to ice in my veins. Waves of goose bumps danced over my skin, scurrying up and down my arms like bugs―thousands of tiny feet skipping along my flesh, crawling through the hair of my arms, legs, and head.

I scratched at the thought, which did nothing but smear the now-tacky blood all over. As soon as I felt its hot fire on my skin, the itching changed to frantic and futile attempts to wipe it off. I whimpered. My vision clouded over in foggy red. I knew no matter how much I washed, I would never feel clean again.

Then the ringing started. It wasn’t just the annoying soft under-ring you sometimes hear when you’re smothered in silence while your mind tries to compensate by making up an imaginary noise. This was an alarm blaring impossibly loud, waking me out of a nightmare. I clasped my ears and screamed at the top of my lungs, but I couldn’t hear my own voice over the ringing. I was barely conscious enough to realize that the buzz buzz buzz in my ears matched the beating of my own heart.

My muscles convulsed, the bugs crawled, and the ringing consumed all five of my senses. I could feel nothing else, hear nothing else, and all I could see, taste, and smell was blood.

A jolt of adrenaline hit my system as my brain registered that I had just committed murder, but instead of that adrenaline triggering a flight response, it made me aggressive. Rage boiled from a dark pit in my stomach like lava boiled out of a volcano… hot… thick… destructive. I had to put that rage into something, anything! The black veins in my forearms were about to pop under the pressure. I grabbed the knife and struck the woman over and over and over again. I heard the blade sink into her body, slicing through flesh, muscle, and bone. The slurping sound it made as it retracted was like therapy for my diseased mind.

I laughed as I stabbed. I grunted as I cut. I felt charged and powerful as I slashed the tip of the knife deeper and deeper, harder and harder into the sticky flesh.

Venting my rage with the blade was arousing… until the world started spinning.

My body felt strong, but my knees buckled as the cavern spun around me with dizzying velocity. I crashed, tears flooding my eyes. I hyperventilated until my vision cleared and I woke to the horror of the scene around me.

My spirit was weak.

A bleeding spirit is much like a bleeding body. I’d heard of people on Earth who were spiritually dead―murderers who had no remorse for what they’d done, who walked around with cold hearts and hollow eyes. I could never understand just how sick they were.

Until now.

I dropped the dagger, letting myself fall the rest of the way to the ground, not bothering to catch myself. The rocky earth was hard, but I couldn’t feel it anyway; all I felt was the crawling of my skin and the stickiness of someone else’s blood.

My vision blurred again, but the vertigo remained. I convulsed and shivered. I saw flashes of red lightning as my mind lost perception of reality, red lighting that illuminated the face of my victim. Her eyes were still staring at me.

Those eyes had pleaded before. There had been a brightness and quickness behind them that echoed the sharpness of her soul. Now they were vacant and empty, her true self gone, her carcass so mutilated she was hardly recognizable.

I knew where she would go. I knew she would be born again on Earth to live a normal human life. I guessed she would probably be a talented witch there.

Is it truly murder if you know that death is only a door to another place?

Why did death on the Level of the Body, Earth, seem so definitive and final?

The only thing that truly ended was her memory. She would never remember. She would never know who she had been or the full potential of her power. I stole that from her, and the thought made me laugh maniacally. I couldn’t control my laughter. The power! How easy it was to simply take. It was just one itty-bitty life. And what was memory but a fragile, useless, pointless, selfish, defective, pile of shit?

Joshua had already stolen that part of her anyway. He was the one who’d enslaved her, who’d made her forget her family, her life, and her strength. All I did was ensure that she’d be born again into a life of freedom and free will, a life where she could choose to be whomever she wanted to be. A life where she was free from the burden of knowing she was my mother.



Title: Twice Upon a Time

Authors: Rick Chiantaretto, Bo Balder, AJ Bauers, Carina Bissett, Rose Blackthorn, S.M. Blooding, Richard Chizmar, Liz DeJesus, Court Ellyn, S.Q. Eries, Steven Anthony George, Dale W. Glaser, Jax Goss, K.R. Green, Kelly Hale, Kelly A. Harmon, Tonia Marie Harris, Brian T. Hodges, Tarran Jones, Jason Kimble, Shari L. Klase, Alethea Kontis, Hannah Lesniak, Wayne Ligon, RS McCoy, Joshua Allen Mercier, Robert D. Moores, Diana Murdock, Nick Nafpliotis, Elizabeth J. Norton, Bobbie Palmer, William Petersen, Rebekah Phillips, Asa Powers, Joe Powers, Brian Rathbone, Julianne Snow, Tracy Arthur Soldan, C.L. Stegall, Brian W. Taylor, Kenechi Udogu, Onser von Fullon, Deborah Walker, Angela Wallace, and Cynthia Ward.

Edited by: Joshua Allen Mercier

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Twisted Fairy Tales

Publication: January 14, 2015

Publisher: The Bearded Scribe Press LLC

Synopsis: Not all stories end happily ever after, and not all stories only happen once upon a time. Sometimes Beauty is the only hope to save the Beast—not from a curse, but something darker. Other times, there’s a reason why Sleeping Beauty is slumbering—and waking her could quite possibly be the worst thing the Prince could have done…

Join Joshua Allen Mercier and The Bearded Scribe Press as they bring you on a whirlwind ride through fairytale and folklore, myth and majick. Treasured stories from your childhood are revisited and remastered into newly-treasured tales of hope and heartache, of adversity and adventure.


Tailored for the King

Eden was well-spoken for a seven-year-old peasant, but I suspected her clear diction and royal accent was a playful act. She even held out her pinky while pouring tea into two crown-shaped teacups that were laid out on my bed coverings.

She picked up her tea and blew on it as wisps of purple steam danced in her golden hair. The sunlight that streamed through a nearby window (hadn’t I closed those damned curtains before bed?) lit her from behind. She looked soft and angelic.

I sat up, propped against the headboard. I reached for my cup.

“Careful, it’s heavy,” Eden’s trilling voice echoed through my chambers.

“I am King, my child. Kings are always strong men,” I smiled, pretending as though I was struggling to pick up the cup.

Eden’s face twisted to a look halfway between expectation and the look my own daughter gave me when she knew I was lying to her. It caught me so off guard that my smile widened.

As a king, not many things caught me off-guard, but children always had their way.

My prepared expression was not so pretend when I actually struggled to pick up the cup. It wasn’t only heavy, it was impossible to lift.

Eden’s eyes brightened. “Maybe you aren’t as strong as you think you are,” she chuckled, picking up the cup and forcing it, along with the rest of her tea set, down the mouth of a small teddy bear.

The fact that I could actually see the bear swallowing the cups and pot seemed perfectly normal.

“What made you so strong?” I asked. “Stronger than a king?”

Eden’s smile vanished and her gaze fell. Instead of answering, she pressed her light pink lips into a hard line, her rosy cheeks flushed.

“It is against the law not to be truthful with the king,” I said gently, feeling an overload of anxiety.

Something wasn’t right. Who was this child anyway?

“It was heavy when my daddy…” she stopped.

“When your daddy what?”

She didn’t answer immediately but crawled toward me on the bed and wrapped her glowing arms around one of my royal pillows. She began to cry. “He took a pillow like this. I don’t know why.”

“Come now, child, don’t cry. Let me fetch the nanny to dry your tears and get you something sweet.”

Eden considered my offer. “You don’t understand,” she said. “It felt like this.”

She lunged at me, the weight of the pillow on my face knocking me over.

Damn children. This was exactly why I hired nannies to play with my daughter. Sometimes they were too much to handle. I was not good at these games, and I pushed her off my body. At first, I was careful not to hurt her, but when she didn’t move, I struggled harder. When I realized that I couldn’t breathe with the pillow over my face, I screamed and thrashed. I clawed at the hands that held down the pillow. How was she so strong?

The pillow was as heavy as the teacup.



Come visit me at the St. Petersburg Main Library on Saturday, October 18th, 2014.

3745 9th Ave North
St Petersburg, Florida

I will be talking about why horror elements in fiction are the best way to emotionally connect to your reader, answer questions, and sign books!

A limited number of books will be available for sale, and I’ll have Death of the Body SWAG for everyone who attends!

Hope to see you there.



: Facade of Shadows

Author: Rick Chiantaretto

Genre: YA, dark fantasy


Judas Iscariot (portrayed as the first of the undead), the gods and myths of ancient Egypt, and vampires all play a role in this novel of the clash between good and evil on Earth. In Façade of Shadows, the supernatural beings of Egyptian lore work together with modern-day vampire slayers to wage a pivotal battle against the dark powers of the underworld. A group of young slayers and their immortal Protector, the son of ancient gods, travel through time and space while struggling to save the population of an unsuspecting town—the first target for domination by the vampires—in a conflict that foreshadows the fate of the world. If you enjoy action, humor, tragedy, even romance involving the genre of vampires and their nemeses, this is a riveting read to add to your collection.



Only 99¢






Good Choice Reading Blog Tours is currently organizing a review tour for Facade of Shadows from July 21st – 25th. You can sign up for the tour HERE.




When she got to class, Dominique was glad to find another new student; she always felt more comfortable when she wasn’t the only new one. The teacher seemed nice enough too. Dominique handed her the schedule to prove she was in the class and the teacher, anxious to begin, quickly made seating assignments for the two new students.

“Why don’t you sit over there?” she suggested to Dominique, gesturing to a seat in the back corner. “And you can sit over here.”

The teacher pointed out a desk to the other student. Dominique took one step toward her seat and noticed… her. The girl was paying strict attention, even though the teacher wasn’t saying anything that concerned her. Dominique wondered if she was taking notes on the new seating arrangement, as she feverishly moved her pencil. The other new student noticed the discomfort on Dominique’s face.

“Don’t worry,” he said in a calm but confident tone, “I’ll sit there, and you can have the one by the window.”

Dominique felt a wave of relief. There was something about that girl that she just didn’t like.

“Thank you,” she said to the student.

She felt him brush her arm as he pushed past her; he felt like iron. This was the first time she had been able to get a good look at him. His arms were impressively muscular. He was dressed completely in black and looked back at her with stunning blue eyes.

“No, thank you,” he said.

Maybe this class won’t be so bad after all, Dominique thought, feeling herself melt under his gaze. He smiled, as if he knew what she was thinking.

“I’m Lucas, but most of my friends call me Luke,” he said, pushing his hair out of his eyes with one hand and thrusting his other at her.

She took it firmly. “And may I call you Luke?”

That made his smile widen, “You may call me anything you wish.”

“Well, Luke, I’m Dominique,” she stated with a sheepish grin, slightly embarrassed as she felt her cheeks turn warm.

“I know,” he said, his cold hand penetrating the warmth of Dominique’s own.



I’ve often been accused of having done more in my life than the average person my age but if I were completely honest, I’d have to tell you my secret: I’m really 392.

So after all this time, I’m a pretty crappy writer.

I have two books published and a bunch half written (when you have eternity, where’s the reason to rush?). I’ve been favorably reviewed by horror greats like Nancy Kilpatrick, and my how-to-write-horror articles have been quoted in scholarly (aka community college freshmen’s) papers.

I enjoy the occasional Bloody Mary, although a Bloody Kathy or Susan will suffice.

Mostly, I just try to keep a low profile so people don’t figure out who I REALLY am.


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Title:  Death of the Body (Crossing Death #1)

Author:  Rick Chiantaretto

Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy, Occult, Suspense, Dark Fantasy

I grew up in a world of magic. By the time I was ten I understood nature, talked to the trees, and listened to the wind. When the kingdom of men conquered my town, I was murdered by one of my own—the betrayer of my kind.

But I didn’t stay dead.

I woke to find myself in a strange new world called Los Angeles. The only keys to the life I remembered were my father’s ring, my unique abilities, and the onslaught of demons that seemed hell-bent on finding me. Now I must learn who I really am, protect my friends, get the girl, and find my way back to my beloved hometown of Orenda


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I watched in disbelief as blood seeped through my fingers and dripped, thick as syrup, to the ground. I heard each drop thud against the ground beneath me. The echo in my ears beat louder than any drum. For the first time in my ten years of life, I cursed the connection I had with the planet. I cursed it for its betrayal. I cursed it because, with every drop of blood that spilled, the planet felt my pain and mimicked my screams with its own bleating sound that bounced around inside my already spinning head.

My legs were weak and my knees buckled but I didn’t dare let my hands loosen from around the wound in my stomach. I caught the weight of my fall with my face. I rolled onto my side in order to breathe. Pain surged as the ragged edges of my wound rubbed together. I felt every last severed nerve. They were all on fire.

Blood poured quickly. Worse than seeing it, I could feel it, hot and sticky in a pool beneath me. My stomach retched but it would hurt to throw up so I tried to force down the feeling. Bile came up anyway. I turned my head and choked it out. The rusty taste left in my mouth was so sour it made my eyes water. I cried uncontrollably, feeling ashamed of myself.

I wished for the comfort of my mother and father. I longed for the company of my two best friends. It was ironic that I’d just had a conversation about death with them a day ago.

As I lay sobbing on the ground, the thought that I was going to die became more and more real. Already my blood was soaking back into the earth that I loved so much. I thought of the lessons that taught me not to fear death. I had been taught that death was a return to the larger conscious mind that is nature. This awareness made my people who they were and gave us our unique gifts.

I was afraid anyway. The thought of dying was much more terrifying now than when it was taught to me by the Elders.

The Elders. The Elders who were either dead or enslaved. The Elder who betrayed us all and who did this to me.

Rage: pure, blazing, and blinding in its fury. I was too enraged to even notice that I could feel anything besides pain. Rage boiled inside me as blood boiled from my stomach and I realized it was based in two other emotions: hate and disbelief.

Then something cold and wet hit me between the eyes. I rolled onto my back and stared into the dark and threatening clouds. Another something hit the back of my hand, and I lifted it (was my arm always this heavy?). A drop of rain mingled with my blood.

I had never experienced rain before. It never rained here—at least not in my lifetime. Rain was for when the world was angry, when its powers had been abused and the balance of life had been disrupted.

But wasn’t I angry? And wasn’t I connected to the planet? Didn’t I understand its moods and feelings? Why wouldn’t it then understand me? In my delirium this seemed to make sense, and the large flash of lightning that then split the sky seemed to confirm my thoughts. The flash was blinding, and I didn’t have enough energy to be startled by the fact that my vision remained nothing but the same bright white light.

I shivered as cold crept into me; it didn’t help that I was lying in a chilling pool of blood. The rain picked up. I was nearly soaked through, but was too weak and numb to move. At least the pain was starting to slip away. I could only imagine how blue my fingertips must have looked. They felt like ice.

After the pain was gone, the fear began to fade. All the tension in my body went with it. Cold as I was, I started to feel strangely comfortable. I could feel the earth beneath me, supporting me, soft and gentle. My mom used to hold me like this.

When I realized the rage was slipping, I cried out. I wanted to keep it alive within me. I wanted to be angry and upset. I wanted to be angry because feeling an emotion—any emotion—was better than accepting death.

As the rage faded further, I thought I heard distant laughter. How could anyone be happy now? How could they laugh as I lay here, a mangled mess? It took me a minute to remember that just because the earth could feel my pain didn’t mean everyone else could too—especially not the outsiders.

Their voices were getting louder and nearer. When they suddenly stopped, I heard a gasp. Mustering the last of my strength, I reached toward the voices.

“Please,” I tried to say, but it came out as barely more than a groan.

“Get a doctor!” a woman’s voice commanded. I felt slight vibrations through the earth as somebody ran away. The woman who spoke came over and kneeled next to me. I wasn’t too far gone to feel surprise. I imagined I was a frightening sight. I expected her to keep her distance, so my eyes widened when she took my hand in hers. She was warm, but trembling.

“What did this to you, child?” Her voice shook but was full of compassion and concern.

“Magic.” I couldn’t tell if I actually said the word or just thought it.

As I repeated the word over and over in my mind, the rage dissipated and the light began to dim. A part of me was upset that I’d let the rage go but I was too exhausted to call it back. I welcomed the darkness now. The woman at my side was saying something but her words made no sense to me. Far easier to hear was the heartbeat of the earth. I wanted to soothe the earth’s tremors caused by the pain and fear it felt for me, but I couldn’t. As my breathing slowed, memories of the past day flashed into my mind. They were of the events that led up to my death, when all this started. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Who would have known it would only be one long day that would lead me here, lying on the ground, spilling blood?