Serpent Mound Lore #SomethingWickedTour @stacitroilo @storyempire

Hello and welcome to the first day of Story Empire’s Something Wicked Blog Tour! The SE authors will be sharing posts all week long, visiting the blogs of our colleagues  with posts and books offering shivers and goosebumps. We hope you’ll join in the fun and, hopefully, discover some chill-inducing reads along the way. You can find the complete tour schedule here.

But don’t expect all of those goosebumps to come from creepy-crawling things or ghosts and ghouls oozing from the crypt. As my first guest, Staci Troilo, explains, darkness comes in all shapes…

Thanks for welcoming me here today, Mae.

The Gate

Ciao, amici! When my SE cohorts came up with the idea for a Something Wicked tour, I was initially concerned about how my current writing would fit into the theme. Sci-fi felt like a far cry from malevolence. Then I realized aliens with a nefarious agenda were just as wicked as demons; they just had a different origin. I don’t think it matters if a being is from a star in the Hydrus constellation or from Hell… evil is a matter of intent, not origin.

My Astral Conspiracy series is a combination of futuristic tech and ancient history. If you (like me) are obsessed with—or even aware of—Ancient Aliens, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

In The Gate, the first of my five-book series, the characters visit the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio. They’re there to steal a buried artifact, which is absolutely fiction. But the lore behind the effigy is pure fact. And it’s fascinating. Serpent Mound (aerial view)

Photo Attribution: Timothy A. Price and Nichole I.; uploaded by the authors. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Serpent Mound was built by Native Americans. I wish I could tell you when, but that’s still up for debate. A set of charcoal pieces was found in 1996. Two of the pieces were carbon-dated to 1070, which would make the builders the Fort Ancient society (a mound-building culture from the Late Prehistoric era, 900-1650 AD). But the third was dated two thousand years earlier to the Adena culture (2920 +/-65 years BC). The current theory, and the one that makes the most sense to me, is that is was built during the Adena period and then renovated by the Fort Ancients. Adena graves nearby strengthen that theory.

The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot long, three-foot-high earthwork of a snake. It’s the largest known serpent effigy in the world. It’s located on an astrobleme (an asteroid impact structure whose center is raised sedimentary strata). At the west end, the snake’s tail is coiled into a spiral; at the east, its mouth is open as though eating an egg, the sun, a giant eye, or the body of a frog (experts can’t decide). There are seven curves to its body.

But what was it built for? The oval and head area of the effigy is aligned with the summer solstice sunset while the tail is in line with the winter solstice sunrise. It’s also been suggested that the undulations of the body are correspond to certain lunar events. So, the mound may be a calendar marking the seasons.

The sculpt mimics the constellation Draco, with the star Thuban mapped to the first curve of the body. Thuban was used as the North Pole star from the fourth to second millennium BC, so there is an argument to be made that the effigy was a compass of sorts.

And nearby graves suggest this may have been a mortuary of sorts, a place that would help guide spirits to the great beyond. (It’s worth noting the graves were nearby, but none were found at the site itself.)

Whatever its true purpose, it has a great significance in my novel, The Gate, book one of my Astral Conspiracy series. If you’re curious about how I used it, I encourage you to read the book.

The Gate

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

The Gate is the first of five novels in the Astral Conspiracy Series, part of Sterling and Stone’s Invasion Universe.

Universal Purchase Link

Other Links:

Staci’s Amazon Page | Staci’s BookBub Page | D.L.’s Amazon Page | D.L.’s BookBub Page

Bio box for author, Staci Troilo

I found this fascinating, just like the book. The Gate is an excellent story that moves at a break-neck pace. I highly recommend adding it for addictive reading.

Finally, in closing, Joan Hall is hosting me today, where I’m sharing a scary historical encounter. Hop over if you can and check out Red Eyes and Winged Beasts.

Mae Clair Presents: Karen Malena and Sound of Silence #Science-Fiction #Dystopian

Today, I’ve got a brand new guest on my blog, and I hope that you’ll make her feel welcome! 🙂 Karen Malena and I have several things in common beside writing–we are both “Keystoners” from the state of Pennsylvania, love cats (check out her author pic below), and both have an Italian family heritage.

I recently met Karen through a mutual friend, and am delighted to host her today with her compelling release, SOUND OF SILENCE. I think you’ll find her backstory inspiring as well. Please drop Karen a comment and say hello!


I’d like to thank Mae Clair for the opportunity to share a little about the ups and downs of life, from adversity to hope.

Adversity: Out of it can come great pain and sometimes great reward. Growing up the daughter of a mom who had a mental breakdown, I know a little about this.

When I was in fourth grade, it was a love of reading that would carry me through the toughest moments of my young life up until then. You see, my mother had been hospitalized for the first of many times, and it would be reading and the world of make believe that would bring me solace and comfort. With the world around me turned upside down, the love of a good father and my Italian nonna, books, and the desire to create my own stories would become the catalyst which held me together.

After a time, Mom was restored to us whole and well, a true miracle. It was then another bit of adversity would strike in the way of  my health. Looking in the mirror, I knew something was wrong with me, my body looked distorted but I said nothing to my mother, hoping perhaps it would “go away.” Of course no such thing happened, and when Mom noticed, a visit with a surgeon followed.

My battle with scoliosis was not an easy one. A year’s worth of hospital visits, major surgery and an all-encasing body cast would follow. Once again, it would be books and the world of my imagination that would help me through.

I’d like to think that it was all the challenges I went through that shine in my writing. The fact that I know a thing or two about tough times. When I write about a dysfunctional family, I know because I’ve been there. When I write gritty, and from the heart, I bare my own soul hoping perhaps to touch someone else who may be encountering difficulty.

Most of my books are inspirational fiction, but I’ve gone way out of my comfort zone with Sound of Silence. It bothers me when I watch a family of four sitting in a restaurant, each engrossed on their smart phones, game system, or I-pads. Nobody communicates; their eyes are glued to the almighty screen.

A thought began forming. What if we weren’t permitted to speak any longer? What if it became a punishable crime? Who would make such a decree?  What if that person was ruthless and had other reasons for silence, secrets perhaps that he wouldn’t want anyone to know about? And what if he was someone you trusted and liked, a handsome senator with a black heart?

Ray Warren is a good husband and father. In a moment of kindness, he helps an old woman who has fallen in a transportation portal, and when she thanks him, he answers her out loud in an era where speaking has been abolished.  The peacekeepers of the time, the brutal Stewards of Order hunt for Ray until he turns himself in. When he meets the dark-hearted senator, the dictator who rules our country in the year 2050, Ray isn’t intimidated by the man and in a brave show of defiance, he marks himself for termination. A seemingly kind Steward appears to help him, but does the Steward of Order have his own agenda and is something far more sinister at work?

Here is an excerpt from the first part of the book:

Morning came too soon. Now he’d have to answer to the accusation. There was no escaping the Stewards of Order, government agents with years of training in combat, military action and humanity control. Execution squads, they would stop at nothing to retrieve him. It was over. Ray was finished, all because he’d spoken out loud in an era overrun by communication devices; where the spoken word hadn’t been permitted in at least thirty years.

Ray glares at the government monitor, the cold metal listening apparatus mounted in the corner of every room, car and place of business. Knowing they can’t see him, he thumbs his nose in the direction of the hated box.

Ray slides out of bed. His parched throat aches, and his head pounds to the beating of his heart, the imminent hangover from last night’s bourbon indulgence. He glances around his room, grabs the jeans and button-down shirt he’d worn the day before and heads into the bathroom. What he sees in the mirror frightens him even more. Sunken cheeks, dark hollows under his eyes: a haunted, hunted look. Yes, that is correct. If he doesn’t answer the text, if he fails to show up at the Justice Premiere Tribunal Station, he will be hunted. How could he have been so careless?

Ray holds onto the edges of the sink and a silent scream forms in his throat. He turns the faucet on, splashing cold water onto a face that seems too pale.

While he dries himself off, he feels another emotion this morning: pity. He’s not sorry he tried to help the old woman. She’d reminded him of Bubbe.  Many years ago, he’d seen his beloved grandmother taken from the only home she’d ever known and loved. He remembered watching as the Stewards of Order had guided Bubbe into their vehicle, promising to take care of her, promising her lie after lie, not knowing they had every intention of exterminating her.

Ray sits on the edge of the bathtub, the towel gripped so hard in his hands, his knuckles turn white. What’s become of our society? Our privacy is completely gone, and with it, many, many people. Ray sighs as hopelessness shrouds itself around him. He remembers the day he discovered the forbidden newspaper—he was fifteen. . .

Book cover, Sound of Silence, depicting a first clenched around barbed wireStashed in a dark, cobwebby corner in his parent’s basement, Ray finds an ancient trunk he doesn’t remember seeing before. He opens the lid, peers inside, and his eyes light up at finding his grandmother’s personal effects. He picks up an old apron, threadbare and well-loved. He smells it, her scent still present, as if she once again stood before him. A wave of nostalgia washes over him.

Further down, a tattered paperback novel sits under piles of old clothing and balls of yarn. He digs even deeper and is rewarded with a crumpled, yellowing newspaper, worn completely through in spots.

Ray flattens the paper on the floor taking care as he smoothes it over with his hands. He looks around as if someone will catch him in this act of treason. His eyes squint in the dimness, and it’s there that he reads for the first time about the powerful politician Frank Tomlinson, humanitarian and nephew of the president, and how the order of silence came about.

Ray feels as if he’s stumbled onto the meaning of the universe. He never knew how the edict started; he’d been way too little. Sitting back on his legs, his eyes scan the article.

“After the historic 9-11 tragedy, terrorism and illegal immigration is at an all-time high in our country, leaving us vulnerable to further plots and waves of crime and destruction. Like cancer cells, these terror groups worm their way into our society. Nothing is sacred any longer, nothing is safe. Many of our own citizens are joining these radical groups. Thousands of innocent people are being killed. The recent church bombings, the explosions at our amusement parks, mass murder in our night clubs and malls across America have led to one man’s fight.

Senator Frank Tomlinson, nephew of President Carter Tomlinson has come up with a plan. Only the written or texted word can be monitored, he proposes. Speech has become dangerous, and truly useless in our society obsessed with electronic devices. He urges that communication devices linked to control rooms in government buildings and thousands of monitored computer systems are easy to track. Any terrorists or rebels would be found and dealt with instantly.

The government wants to protect you, fellow citizens. This is the only way to detect threats before they become a reality.

You will soon see news blasts on your smart phones, computers, televisions and all electronics. The spoken word will cease. We urge you to heed and aid us with the new law as it is put into place. We are implementing this for your protection. No longer will we have to fear tyranny from other countries. No longer will we be slaves to radical terrorism.”

Ray knew better. Speaking ended as a means to control revolt or uprising of the people. The only “protection” was the monitoring of any utterance against the officials themselves.

He’d heard that the crude cell phones of their ancestors had given Tomlinson the brilliant idea. People hadn’t been speaking anyway, the man had said. Yet hardly anyone knew the other reasons for the senator’s control of the spoken word. The secrets he kept.

I hope you enjoyed the little preview of my dystopian tale. As with all of my writing, this story has a thread of darkness with pockets of light. For to be true to ourselves, don’t we all have this within us?

Although I am presently working on sequels to some of my other stories, certain people have been clamoring for more of this one. Someone suggested a prequel and the prospect did excite me. I’ll keep everyone posted on the futuristic world I’ve created. A world that doesn’t seem too far away and even appears to be happening already.

A dark, all-encompassing law blankets the country.

Driven by one terrible secret, a powerful politician brutally suppresses speech for the sake of order and holds the country in the palm of his hand.

Ray Warren does the unthinkable. In a bold gesture he seals his fate in a moment of kindness, a moment that marks Ray, his wife, and beautiful daughter as dangerous fugitives and sets a society toward rebellion.

In Sound of Silence an ominous future is introduced leaving us with the question: What if?

Author Karen Melana with catAbout the Author:
Karen Malena resides in the Pittsburgh area and is active in her community mentoring young writers and encouraging others through library and author events.

Three of her novels, Shadow of My Father’s Secret, Reflections From My Mother’s Kitchen and Love Woven in Time are inspirational family fiction. Her book Piggy is a fun cat “tail” for all ages.

She has currently released her first dark sci-fi book, Sound of Silence.

Malena has a biting sense of humor that you will find on her Facebook cat page, Piggy, and also writes heartfelt blogs at She has a passion for storytelling, and many of the events she writes about come from her loud, crazy, close-knit Italian family.

She is a member of a monthly writer’s group, Pittsburgh East Scribes.

Purchase SOUND OF SILENCE from Amazon

Find all of Karen’s release on Amazon

Connect with Karen at the following haunts:

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order: The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack #Speculative Fiction #MicroFic

Wow! You can grab your copy of this book for just $.99 by pre-ordering from Amazon today!

I positively love cover reveals and this one is AWESOME! It was created for C. S. Boyack’s new release, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, by talented designer, author, and blogger Rachel Carrera. I think it’s an fabulous cover for what promises to be an intriguing book of short stories and micro-fic. What a perfect match!


I think the cover speaks to all of the wonderful oddities that surely await within, much like opening a cabinet of curiosities.

A speculative fiction selection of micro-fiction and short stories. These were designed to be short reads for your commute, coffee break, and other times when readers are pressed for time. This book contains a bit of science fiction, some fantasy, and paranormal stories.

And Craig’s personal message:  “I’m excited to see short fiction returning in popularity. I hope you will enjoy these stories as much as I did.”

And don’t forget the best part:

You can pre-order your copy of The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack for just $.99.  I’ve already grabbed my copy from Amazon. Snatch yours up here!

Author C. S. BoyackConnect with Craig at the Following Haunts:
Find all of Craig’s novels here  

Andrew P.Weston: GUARDIAN ANGELS Book Tour

Buy the Book Bookmark Blitz Tour

In a series of terrifying events, otherworldly beings intervene to save innocent lives.

The world community reacts with relief as they realize that guardian  angels may in fact exist, and they are diligently protecting us.

But there are those who would seek to stop what they feel is a threat  against their livelihoods. How far will some go to battle the Guardians?  Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

Guardian Angels is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst  that has the power to unite society in the hope for a better future. The  spark of hope is fragile—can it last?

Luigi decided to toast himself and his accomplishments again. Finding  his glass empty, he rang the bell for a top up, and continued to gloat,  firmly believing he was beyond accountability.

When the door to the study opened a few minutes later and Gianni, the  housekeeper, came in with his favorite Black Pearl Louis XIII cognac on a  silver tray, he insisted the old servant stay with him and drink to his  success. “Come, Gianni, stay, celebrate with me. Good times should be  shared with trusted friends.” The gesture wasn’t missed by Gianni. At  fifty-five thousand dollars a bottle, the cognac was one of the most  expensive in the world, and he quickly poured a generous helping into  two glasses. As he handed one to his boss, he paused momentarily to  savor the bouquet of the blended flowers, fruits, spices, and the deep  amber color of the aromatic liquid.

“You’re looking particularly pleased with yourself today, young Sir. Good news?”

“It’s the very best of news, Gianni, and one that appears to be  maturing with age.” He replied without looking away from the screens.

The old housekeeper tossed down his drink in one and shuffled to stand  deferentially behind his employer. He listened as yet more reports of  the suffering caused by the missile detonations were announced. “That  mess doesn’t look like there’s much to be happy about, Sir. Surely that  doesn’t please you, does it?”

“Aah, Gianni, sometimes, when you need to make a point, you have to  catch your enemy’s attention,” Luigi replied. “You have to ensure they  not only respect you, but fear you. I’m pleased because I’ve done just  that. Wouldn’t you agree, my old friend?”

When no reply was forthcoming, Luigi naturally assumed the old housekeeper must have been unable to hear his question.

Turning in his seat, he felt a peculiar throbbing, tingling sensation  in his teeth and sinuses. “I said ‘wouldn’t you agr . . . .’” Luigi’s  voice choked off in his throat as he caught sight of Gianni’s eyes. The  distinctive, familiar, lazy old eyes of his longtime employee seemed to  be undergoing some kind of metamorphosis. Gone was the semi-vacant,  un-focused faraway look he always seemed to display as he pottered  about. Instead, Luigi was looking into the hardest, most piercing eyes  he had ever seen, eyes that seemed to glow with an inner furnace to  match the cold look of rage chiseled onto his face.

The shock made him drop his glass onto the carpet, spilling about three  thousand dollars worth of the deep amber nectar. Transfixed he watched  as Gianni’s body straightened, grew, and bulked out.

As the years fell away from his face, he realized without a doubt that  he was going to fully shoulder the burdens his choices had wrought.  Before him stood his own personal living nightmare made flesh, dressed  from head to toe in black. Instantly he felt the fire rising within him,  straining for release.

The Guardian stepped forward, making the barest of gestures with his  finger as he did so, and Luigi found himself lifted into the air by some  unseen force. He was held motionless, helpless as a puppet awaiting the  commands of his master.

Nodding at the screens, the Guardian spoke. “Allow me to introduce  myself. I am Andrew, Guardian Lord of Shadow Operations. Did you  seriously think you’d get away with something like this?”

Luigi stared defiantly back, fighting to overcome his shock at the  Guardian’s presence, and surprised at the lack of access to his ability.

“Do what you want, asshole, at least the world sees you as the frauds I knew you were!” he hissed.

“Do what I want? I’d love to, but unfortunately my boss won’t let me.”

Luigi stared impotently back at his nemesis as he strolled closer.

Once he was standing in front of him, the Shadow Lord said, “As for  exposing us as frauds? Well, I really don’t know why you would think  that. We never said or intimated we could be everywhere at once. The  world’s a sad enough place as it is without you adding to it. All we are  doing is trying to help people avoid as much heartbreak as possible.”  Andrew pointed to the repeat bulletins on the screens. “So, once the  world finds out that all this was the deliberate act of some sick and  twisted psycho who didn’t care how many suffered, just so long as he  could score some points, how do you think they’ll react to you, Luigi?”

The point struck home. Luigi struggled in an attempt to slap the  Guardian across the face, to do something to help vent the building fury  inside him.

Helpless, he continued stewing as the Guardian moved so close he was  able to whisper in his ear. “And when they find out about your  abilities, can you even begin to imagine how they’ll react to that? You  worthless, spineless, pathetic little man. I really wish they’d let me  play with you before we throw you to the wolves.”

“Fuck off, asshole, you don’t scare me.”

“Scare you?” Andrew smiled wickedly. “Oh no, Luigi, that’s not my job.  That’s hers!” The Guardian gestured behind Luigi at the same moment he  let go with his telekinesis. Although Luigi only dropped about a foot,  he crumpled to the floor, becoming acutely aware that the strange  throbbing in his teeth was even more pronounced than before.

Turning, Luigi was met with a vision of such barely contained power and fury that he immediately soiled his pants.

Andrew squatted beside him. “Allow me to introduce you to the head of  our investigations branch. This is Victoria, our Lord Inquisitor, and  she’s very pleased to meet you after all the suffering you’ve caused.”

Victoria stood in front of the TV screens, wreathed in a visible static  discharge that blew the circuits of all the electrical equipment in the  office and made the hairs on Luigi’s arms and head stand on end.

Her eyes, so similar to those of the Shadow Lord, intensified in luminosity and turned from grey to white hot.

Luigi shielded his eyes and cowered on the floor in his own excrement. What a fool I am. He thought.

In reply to his thoughts, the Shadow Lord said, “Yes Luigi, what a  murderous, cowardly fool of a man you are. I think the whole world will  agree when they find out, eh?”

Author Bio:
Andrew P Weston was born in the city of Birmingham, in the UK and grew  up in the towns of Bearwood and Edgbaston. He eventually attended Holly  Lodge Grammar School for Boy’s where he was School Captain and Head Boy. He was an active sportsperson for the school, college and a variety of  rugby, martial art, swimming and athletics teams throughout the city.

On graduation in 1977 he joined the Royal Marines fulfilling a number of  specialist roles both in the UK and abroad. In 1985 he became a police officer with the Devon & Cornwall  Constabulary, and served in a variety of uniformed and plain clothed  departments until his retirement in 2008.

Over those years, he wrote and illustrated a selection of private books  for his children regarding the life of a tiny kitten, called, The  Adventures of Willy Whiskers, gained further qualifications in Law and  Religious Studies, was an active member of Mensa and continued to be an  active sportsperson, providing lessons free of charge to local  communities.

An unfortunate accident received on duty meant Andrew had to retire  early from the police force, but after moving to the sunny Greek island  of Kos to speed up his recuperation, he was at last able to devote time  to the Guardian Concept he had developed over his years in the  military and police.

When not writing, Andrew enjoys Greek dancing and language lessons,  being told what to do by his wife, Annette, and hunting shadows in the  dark. He also has a magnificent mustache collection.

Andrew is now contracted to Pagan Writers Press for three books. Fairy Tail, is a short, but dark and gritty erotic paranormal/thriller  with a twist. The second book, Guardian Angels is the introductory book to the Guardian Series, a sci-fi action/adventure epic set in the near  future. The latest short story, Blood Moon, is a paranormal action/thriller  set in the jungles of South America. Further work on the Guardian Series and a new paranormal series, The  Cambion Journals, has been completed and will hopefully be published  during 2013.

Look for Andrew at the following haunts:

Barnes & Noble