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SJ Reads: The Unwritten

Published August 21, 2017 by admin

Today’s SJ reads is another graphic novel/comic series, since that’s our theme this month. I’d heard the title The Unwritten kicked around for a while, but not really taken the chance to investigate it. Then, when I had worked my way through a two-month long manga binge and was craving something else, I checked out the first couple of volumes from the library.

Holy. Guac.

I mean, it’s Mike Carey, so it’s not going to be bad, but seriously, guys, this series is amazing. Picture Harry Potter mixed with Christopher Robin mixed with every genre ever (including children’s lit), mixed with conspiracy theory, mixed with Jung, and you might come close to describing The Unwritten. Maybe.

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So we open with Tom Taylor doing conventions, because his dad is a famous author noted for writing a series that would be similar to Harry Potter in our world, and the main character coincidentally is named Tommy Taylor and looked like him as a boy. Things really get going when an audience member questions if he’s really who he thinks he is during a panel (welcome to every panelist’s worst nightmare). What follows is a long, winding story where Tom struggles to figure out if he’s real or fictional, how his world crosses with the literary or how that’s even possible, all while fighting a strange cabal of people known as the Unwritten, who have lived throughout history making sure that only the write message gets written. He also has to deal with what his father did to him and turned him into. Helped by the questioning lady in the audience who may or may not be sane (or real), and a reporter, and a few other people who may or may not have his interests at heart, this is a fast-paced, intricate romp through not just fantasy, but also a lot of really interesting literary paths. We fall into Moby Dick and other titles, go back and forth in history, go to Hades, go to a kid’s world that is reminiscent of Beatrix Potter or the Hundred Acre Wood – there’s even a crossover with Fables (admittedly, since I’m the one person who absolutely isn’t a fan of Fables and since that volume really didn’t affect the plot one way or the other, that’s the one weak part of the series for me).

Also, this series has balls. I will warn you, there is language, there is violence, stuff gets dark. If you’re going into this expecting Not!Harry Potter fanfic or happy fantasy time, this is not that. At all. The stakes are high. If you ever wondered what would happen if your YA fantasy friends grew up and had to play their adventures straight, this is definitely the series for you. I can’t say much or I’ll give it away, but the ending is also one of the best series endings I’ve ever read. As I went along, admittedly I began thinking that there was only one real possible exit if things were being played out to their logical conclusion…but no way a series author would go there, right?

Oh, he did. He goes there. And it is magnificent.

So yeah, if you want something different, if you feel like you’ve aged out of Harry Potter or want some dark fantasy that also explores some high concepts, check this one out.

You can find vol 1 here

 

New #Horror: Gods & Monsters by SH Roddey

Published August 17, 2017 by admin

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What can I say, it’s just a promote-y kind of week. Today I’m not talking about myself, though (for once). When one of my co-conspirators has something awesome out, it makes me want to cheer and smash it in everyone’s face. What can I say. So yeah, S.H. Roddey is writing again, which makes me incredibly happy. And her

new one looks awesome.

 

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Title:         Gods & Monsters
Subtitle:   A Shadow Council Case Files Novella
Author:    S.H. Roddey
Genre:      Dark Fantasy, Historical Horror
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Monsters-Council-Archives-Novella-ebook/dp/B0745XLWSN

Series Info

They have worked behind the scenes of society for centuries, protecting humans from threats beyond their understanding. They are The Shadow Council, and these Archives are the stories of their members and adventures throughout recorded history. From folk heroes to monsters out of darkest nightmare, the Shadow Council Archives explore the world beyond mundane understanding.

He is the original horror novel. He is the first science fiction hero. He is Adam, creation of Victor Frankenstein, and he is more than dead, but less than alive. And he is being hunted.

From the pages of the Quincy Harker novellas comes this original tale of Adam, Frankenstein’s monster, in his earliest days. Wandering Europe shortly after the death of his “father,” Victor, Adam encounters a secret society determined to unlock the mysteries of life and death. He’s seen this obsession before. It never ends well.

Blood, lust, life, death, and friendship are all explored in this incredible look into the mind of the original monster.

This Shadow Council urban fantasy novella comes from the world of Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter. Similar in length to Bookshots, these novellas provide a glimpse behind the curtain at an urban fantasy world where demons walk the earth, and the monster may well be the hero.

Cover Blurb

“My scars, my disfigurement…those were things I could not change. But who I was? That was entirely up to me. I, Adam, Son of Frankenstein, could, at long last, be a man.

Decades after the death of Victor Frankenstein, Adam returns to Ingolstadt in search of answers and acceptance.  What he finds is not what he expects: a beautiful woman spiraling into insanity, a murderous cult determined to harness the power of creation, and his worst fears coming to fruition. An offer of assistance from a mysterious stranger turns his world on end and sets him on a path toward both salvation and destruction.

 

First Chapter

 

Victor Frankenstein is dead.

This startling revelation settled in my mind on a clear day in February as I sat atop a snow-capped mountain and watched the lights of Selfoss wink on in the evening gloom below. Iceland as a whole slept under cover of darkness, soft and secure in the thoughts that monsters did not exist. If only they knew… Though to me it seemed the true monster was gone at last. It had been some time since I looked over my shoulder in search of his maddened visage, and longer still since word of his pursuit reached my ears.

With the revelation came a near-crippling release of emotion. Relief flooded my senses, and had my tear ducts been operational, I might have shed tears of joy. My long-suffering countenance could finally clear, and I might, for the first time in my miserable existence, have the opportunity to experience life without the specter of my past. Time was no longer my enemy. My father could no longer hurt me. I could accept my beginnings and move on from them. In that instant, I made a series of choices.

I chose, to the best of my ability, to integrate myself more with the creatures from whose stock I was built. I chose morality. I chose humanity. I chose to let my demons lie and embrace the things I could be. My scars, my disfigurement…those were things I could not change. But who I was…that was entirely up to me.

I, Adam, Son of Frankenstein, could at long last be a man.

I stood and crept down the mountain. The tiny hamlet contained roughly a dozen buildings, all in varying stages of disrepair. Many had roofs made of straw and thatch; others bore wood plank walls with large pockmarks packed hard with ice. In very few windows did lanterns burn. The only building that could, in fact, be considered habitable by European society’s standards was the inn. A puff of white smoke billowed from the chimney, and inside sat the majority of Selfoss’ inhabitants.

I’d watched them for weeks now from a cave above them. They were an industrious people who rarely saw outsiders. These men and women were isolated from the world by the ice, the mountains, and the waterfalls. It seemed as good a place as any to begin my attempt at humanity.

I took a deep breath and entered the inn. My hood was pulled tight around my face to hide from the occupants. As I crossed the room, I pulled a purse from the pocket of my coat. The innkeeper smiled as I approached, but when I stepped up to the counter, I pulled back my hood. All movement in the building halted as three dozen pairs of eyes turned curiously toward me. A woman’s frightened gasp filled the air as she leaned into her husband’s side.

“A room for a weary traveler, please,” I said in their brusque language. Eyebrows rose in surprise.

The innkeeper—though disturbed by my excessive height, the sharp angle of my jaw, and the angry scars bisecting my face—nodded, accepted my money as if I were an average man, and handed me a key.

“Upstairs,” he replied, then hesitated. He glanced around at his patrons, then back up at me. “There’s stew in the kettle if you’re hungry.” He pointed to the heavy cauldron hanging in the fireplace.

“Thank you,” I said with a nod. “Perhaps soon. I am still frozen from my travels.”

He nodded and gave me a tentative smile. “Of course. Enjoy your stay.”

The ice in my chest thawed a bit at this man’s show of kindness. I would not tell him I did not require sustenance, but to know that it was possible to be treated as any of his other guests was enough. And because of his unexpected kindness, I allowed myself to feel at ease. And because of my ease in this place, I slept. For the first time in my miserable existence, I found myself able to slip into unconsciousness with absolutely no fear of attack.

I should have expected the worst.

 

*****

 

I woke with a start well after midnight to a series of bindings crossing my body. Cold hands scrabbled at my wrists and ankles, tying ropes and anchoring chains. Hushed voices whispered around me, frantic, frightened, and deadly. Undoubtedly, I’d slept harder than I thought, as I found myself completely immobilized.

My back hit the floor, knocking the wind from my lungs, and I was dragged from the room. They pulled me down the stairs, my head banging against each step as I coughed and gasped, no doubt carving out divots with the impact. Tables and chairs flew aside, bouncing against my legs and arms as my captors struggled to move me through the deserted tavern by the ropes around my ankles. I didn’t fight. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t hurt anyone else unnecessarily. I wanted to know their plans before I retaliated.

So, I allowed these terrified men to drag me into the cold, through the uneven and sleeping streets to the edge of town where a copse of snow-capped trees stood. The crunch of dirt and gravel muted as they pulled me off the path, their boots sinking deep into the drifts of snow collected at their feet. Even from this distance, I could hear the water rushing over the falls. The air around us was calm and quiet, devoid of any sound except that of the water and their labored breaths. I did not struggle as they dropped me into the muddy snow and kicked at me—I would not risk breaking my promise to myself and injuring another man. I accepted that they were frightened of me, of my face and my size, of the scars and waxiness of my skin. A booted foot crashed down on my nose, breaking the cartilage and sending warm, thick streams of blood across my face. My sinus cavity filled with blood, and I coughed it away involuntarily, holding in a cry of pain as another landed a blow in the soft meat between my ribs and my hip. Perhaps they meant only to drive me from their sleepy, little hamlet. I was an interloper, a thing to be feared. I would allow them to run me away.

Then the rope came around my neck. Boots continued to connect with my chest and ribs. Blood poured from my ruined nose. My bones ached. My skin burned. Then they pulled—six men it took to drag me from the ground—and I realized their true intent: they wanted to kill me. They feared me so greatly that they could not suffer me to exist a moment longer.

My airway constricted under the pull of the rope as my feet left the ground, inch by torturous inch. It was not the first time I’d been hanged, and though I knew it would not kill me, it hurt nonetheless. I had done nothing to these people!

My anger boiled. I wanted to destroy them all, yet I remained motionless and allowed the noose to tighten. I would hold onto my convictions, anger be damned. I would not become the monster they saw.

“Why won’t it die?” one of my attackers asked.

“Because it’s a demon,” another said.

“It’s not a demon,” the first replied.

“It is! Why else won’t its neck break?”

“How do we kill it?” another asked, this voice young—no more than a teenager by my estimation.

“Do we burn it?”

“Stab it!”

“Cut its head off!” came another voice, and the cries of assent rallied around this call to action.

Then the branch snapped, and I collapsed to the ground. Pain flared through my feet and ankles from the impact, and all six men fell backward with a series shouts and grunts. The others moved backward as a single unit, afraid of being within my reach…as they should. The noose loosened, and I flexed my arms, breaking the bindings around them. Even the chains they’d used to drag me fell away. I jerked my legs free and planted my bare feet on the snowy ground. Metal and rope pooled at my feet as I stood, towering over the cowering, crying men. They backed up farther, those with torches holding them toward me as if to ward off an attack. I laughed.

“Shoot it, Agnar!” one screamed, and I heard the cock of a revolver’s hammer.

“Yes,” I replied in their own language, turning toward the gunman. Those who had not been present for my arrival gasped in surprise. I imagined they did not think me capable of intelligent speech. I took the barrel of the gun in my hand and stepped forward, pressing it into my chest to mark my heart. Should it work, I would be out of this eternal misery…and if not, I would continue as I always had: alone.

“Shoot me. End my existence. Prove me human, Agnar.”

The man’s hand shook so violently he could not keep the weapon trained on me. I stared down at him, still as stone as tears poured down his face. His lip trembled. Mucus ran from his nose in slimy strings, and saliva dripped from his bottom lip. He wiped a gloved hand across his face, smearing the mess to his cheek. He blinked away tears, and the trembling intensified. Finally, unable to hold my gaze, the terrified man threw down the gun and turned to run.

I caught him mid-stride, my hand closing around his throat. His windpipe collapsed as I squeezed. His eyes bulged, and when I released him, he fell to the icy ground, dead. Sightless eyes stared up at the canopy of trees. Blood leaked into the soft white snow from his nose and the corner of his open mouth. The rest of the mob remained motionless, stunned into silence as they stared at their dead comrade. The gun lay between them and me, and had any of them thought to grab it, the battle may have ended differently.

Then again, perhaps not.

A new combatant appeared from the mass of trembling men, brandishing a knife. A second followed him. One after another they attacked, driven out of fear—knives and guns, sticks and rocks. Each man charged, fueled entirely by the instinct to destroy, and each died with a look of shock upon his face. I crushed one man’s skull in my hand, broke another’s neck. A third I slammed face first into the very tree from which they’d attempted to hang me. One fired a round at me and missed, hitting his comrade in the chest and knocking him backward into a snow drift. I tore those men apart, leaving their bloody carcasses scattered beneath the trees. Still, the rush of water over the falls in the distance sang out, uncaring of the carnage.

At last I stood in the grove, the powdery, white ground stained muddy red beneath my feet. Blood soaked into my clothing. I needed to return to the inn and retrieve my boots and coat. I needed to leave this place before I was found.

It wasn’t until I started to walk away that I recognized the face of the innkeeper among the dead.

Author Bio

South Carolina native S.H. Roddey has been writing for fun since she was a child and still enjoys building worlds across the speculative fiction spectrum filled with mystery and intrigue.  She brings to the literary world a unique blend of humor, emotion, and wild ideas filled with dark themes and strong characters. In her spare time, she offers professional book formatting services and writes romance as her imaginary friend, Siobhan Kinkade.

In addition to writing she is also a voracious reader, wannabe chef, and video game addict with two full-time jobs: administrative social media professional, and mom to a cat, a young twenty-something, and a pair of precocious youngsters with an affinity for computer keyboards. She also works as the formatter and cover artist for www.ClickingKeys.com and enjoys the perks of being married to her best friend and full-time muse.

Author Contact Info

Website: http://www.shroddey.com
Blog: http://creepyauthorgirl.wordpress.com
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorSHRoddey
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/draickinphoenix
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/draickinphoenix
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/shroddey
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/draickinphoenix
Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/user/1235345680

As Siobhan Kinkade:
Blog: http://siobhankinkade.wordpress.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSiobhanKinkade
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/siobhankinkade
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/siobhankinkade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flashing the Internet and other Projects

Published August 15, 2017 by admin

Oh, you try coming up with clever, engaging titles all the time.

So in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, here’s what I’ve been doing lately. Besides the Curious Incidents anthology, I’ve also been doing some flash fiction here and there. The Ladies of Horror Flash Project has given me a great chance to stretch my writing muscles again, to the tune of short bits of fiction between 50-300 words.

And if you’ve ever been caught talking to me, you know how horrible I am at limiting myself.

July’s theme was based around different fantasy images, and it was not the easiest task I’ve ever been given (Though you’d think Olde School would’ve given me an edge…yeah, no). Though somehow I came up with something I’m pleased with. So, if you’d like to check out my piece Little Nightmare, click away!

For those who want some more low-key reading, I’ve started doing guest posts over at Books by Violet. Any place that will enable my love of YA graphic novels and give me a legit reason to read them is cool by me! My first post talks about one of my faves – Raina Telgemeir’s Smile. Check out my thoughts here. 

Available for Preorder: Nurse Blood by Rebecca Besser

Published August 19, 2016 by admin

I’ve got a nice, bloody title for horror fans today written by the lovely Rebecca Besser, so check it out! Nurse Blood is on preorder at Limitless Publishing  and Amazon with a release date of August 23rd.

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Sonya Garret roams the bar scene hoping to steal the heart of an unsuspecting victim—literally…

Sonya, better known as Nurse Blood, is part of a team of lethal organ harvesters who seek out the weak to seduce, kill, and part out for profit on the black market. When Sonya meets Daniel McCoy, a young man recovering from a broken engagement, he’s just another kill to line her pockets with quick cash.

Agent David McCoy vows to find out how and why his twin brother Daniel disappeared…

Daniel’s body hasn’t been found, and the leads are slim to none, but it won’t stop David from dedicating his life to solving his brother’s case. When the evidence finally uncovers the shocking truth that Daniel’s disappearance is linked to organ harvesters, David knows his brother is most likely dead. But he’s determined to stop the villains’ killing spree before they strike again.

One last harvest is all Sonya and her team need to put their murderous past behind them…

A family with the rarest blood type in the world is the only thing standing between Sonya and retirement. David McCoy and the FBI are hot on their trail, though, and multiple targets make this the most complicated harvest yet. Will David unravel Sonya’s wicked plans in time to avenge his brother and save an innocent family? Or will Sonya cash in her final kill and escape for good?

Murder for profit stops for no man when you’re Nurse Blood.

***

Prologue

The air inside the nightclub was hazy from smoke machines. Flashes of colored light cut through the swirls in beat with the pulsing music that shook the walls and the floor. The atmosphere was alive with movement―a mass of hot, swaying bodies bent on enjoying the moment. A monster waited in the depths of the darkness to bat her pretty eyes at someone and make them her prey.

The door of the establishment swung open to give way to three eager young men looking to have a good time and celebrate. The trio was instantly surrounded by dancing women. They made their way through the press of bodies to reach the bar.

Daniel forced himself not to scan the crowd for his ex-fiancée, April. But she was the least of his worries, as the real danger was a face he wouldn’t recognize.

Roy got their drinks while Hank and Daniel stood at a balcony that overlooked an even larger dance floor below. The smoke was thicker down there, and there were more lights. The dancers looked like they were paying sensual homage to their deity. The air was tainted with the aroma of perfume and alcohol; it burned the men’s nostrils and fueled their excitement for the revelry to come.

Daniel took a moment to text his twin brother, David, to let him know where they would be celebrating their shared birthday. He received a text back from David saying he was still an hour away.

Roy joined them with three shots and three cold bottles of beer, passing one of each to his friends. They downed the shots in one swallow before turning their attention to their beers.

“Dave will be here in an hour or so,” Daniel announced after downing his shot.

“Awesome—we’re gonna have a great time!” Hank yelled over the music.

As Roy took a drink of his beer, a petite, slim blonde grabbed his waist from behind. He jumped in surprise and turned, recognizing the young woman.

She tucked a finger into the front of his jeans, smiled at him, and tugged him away from his friends toward a table with another girl.

Roy looked back over his shoulder at his friends and shrugged.

“That’s Lynn,” Hank yelled to Daniel. “They’ve been seeing each other for a while. And that’s her cousin Trisha—you don’t want to go there.”

Daniel nodded and looked around. The warming effect of the shot was spreading through his body, relaxing him. He felt less paranoid about running into April.

While he was looking over the crowd, a woman caught his eye. She was a tall, slim brunette, and she was beautiful. She was standing alone at the end of the bar. He watched her for a few moments, and when she looked around, their eyes met.

He smiled and looked away.

Hank noticed Daniel’s mild interest. He knew what his friend had been through recently and why he was gun-shy with women.

“Go for it!” he yelled, nudging Daniel. “Have some fun!”

Daniel looked at his friend, took another swallow of beer, glanced at the woman—noticing she was still alone—and shrugged.

Hank laughed and gave Daniel a shove toward the bar, causing him to slam into two people who happened to be walking past. When he turned to them to apologize, he came face to face

with the very woman he was hoping not to run into: April. The man she was with was leaning on her with all his weight while she struggled to hold him up.

Daniel’s heart clenched in his chest and his lungs seized up for a moment. He felt his hand tighten around the neck of his beer bottle. He wanted to slam it over the other man’s head, but he managed to restrain himself. He didn’t want her to know how much the sight of her with another man hurt him, so he put on a brave front.

“Excuse the fuck out of me,” he said with a sadistic smile, raised the bottle in the air like he was toasting them, and then took a big swig of the brew. He was pleased with the shocked expression that spread across April’s face at his harsh greeting.

They didn’t say anything to Daniel, but focused back on each other and moved around him and deeper into the establishment.

Daniel glanced over to Hank, who was grinning from ear to ear.

He smiled at his friend, nodded, and forced himself to put one foot in front of the other until he made it over to the woman at the bar. While he walked he pretended not to notice that April had glanced back at him several times as she guided her drunken man to a table where he could sit down. He was determined to show April she wasn’t the only woman in the world. He was going to prove to himself and her that he was over the breakup.

“Hi, I’m Daniel!” he yelled when he reached the woman, leaning toward her a little so she could hear him as a new song started to play.

“Grace!” she yelled back.

They smiled at each other.

The couple chatted for a while about nothing important, since it was too loud to carry on a serious conversation, and ordered drink after drink as they stood at the bar. Daniel’s emotional tension eased little by little with every drink. He became more and more relaxed, and friendlier and friendlier with Grace. Before he knew what was happening, they were pressed up against each other while they conversed so they could hear each other better.

“Let’s get out of here,” Grace said. She kissed him and reached down between them to rub his crotch.

Normally Daniel would be shocked and uneasy by such a gesture so soon after meeting a woman, but he’d had enough drinks not to care about how respectable she was or wasn’t being.

He nodded in agreement and looked around for his friends, frowning.

“I have to tell my friends I’m leaving,” he said, taking a step away from Grace.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Grace said, rubbing his crotch again. “They’ll figure it out. Besides, you can call them later and they can pick you up from my place.”

That sounded reasonable so he followed her out to the parking lot. The night was clear and felt cool after the heat from the population of patrons inside the nightclub.

They stumbled together through the parking lot and paused to make out, pressed against the side of her car for a couple minutes before they finally separated their bodies to get in.

Daniel had the passenger’s side door open and was about to climb inside when his cell phone beeped, notifying him of a text. He stopped, stood up straight beside the car, and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket by mistake. He reached into his other back pocket and extracted his cell phone. He frowned and squinted to focus on the tiny, bright screen that said David was only a block away.

“What are you doing?” Grace asked.

“I can’t go with you,” he said with a sigh. “Sorry. I—”

He felt a sharp pain in the side of his neck. He reached up to figure out what had hurt him and spun around at the same time, dropping his cell phone and wallet to the asphalt parking lot.

Grace was standing behind him holding an empty syringe.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “but you have to come with me.”

He tried to shove her away, but his limbs wouldn’t do what he wanted them to. His legs gave out from beneath him as the world blurred into a black blob of nothing.

***

Grace shoved Daniel’s tall frame into the passenger seat when he started to fall, smacking his head on the door frame. She quickly picked his feet up from the ground and spun him so she could get him all the way into the car.

She heard laughing as a couple made their way through the parking lot a few rows over, so she didn’t take the time to pick up what Daniel had dropped.

Grace shut the passenger door and ran around to the driver’s side of her car. She scanned the parking lot as she pulled out, not seeing anyone close-by. She’d been careful, watching for people as they’d headed outside, but the distant couple had snuck up on them. Luckily they hadn’t come close enough to see what she was up to. She tensed slightly when she had to pass another vehicle as she pulled from the lot out onto the street, but the man was looking in the opposite direction and didn’t even glance their way.

Once she was out of the parking lot and a couple blocks away, she pulled out her cell phone and called Roger.

“Hey,” she said into the phone. “I have fresh meat…”

©Rebecca Besser & Limitless Publishing, 2016. All rights reserved.

Rebecca Besser 2016

Rebecca Besser resides in Ohio with her wonderful husband and amazing son. They’ve come to accept her quirks as normal while she writes anything and everything that makes her inner demons squeal with delight. She’s best known for her work in adult horror, but has been published in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for a variety of age groups and genres. She’s entirely too cute to be scary in person, so she turns to the page to instill fear into the hearts of the masses.

To learn more about Rebecca visit her Website, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and/or follow her Blog!

 

Author Interview: Dan Jolley and Gray Widow’s Walk

Published July 21, 2016 by admin

I’m really excited for today’s interview. It’s always fun to talk to someone whose work you’re already familiar with, and Dan is just an awesome, talented guy. I always enjoy what I read by him, and I always walk away from a conversation with him feeling positive. He’s one of those artists who knows how to listen and relate to people, which is golden, people. I cannot stress that enough. Be articulate like Dan.  Plus he’s one of the few people I can talk to about visiting Poland who gets half of what’s coming out of my mouth, so there’s that, too.

But today we are talking about his new book!

As an aside, just picture how many times I have to remind myself that it’s spelled gray because apparently somewhere I have a recessive British spelling gene. It’s killing me over here.

Gray Widow_s WalkCOVERFINAL

Amazon    Kindle  B&N  Nook

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

DJ: In the whole plotter-vs-pantser debate, I come down as far on the side of the plotters as you can get. This is not just personal preference; when you’re doing any sort of writing for hire, as I’ve done my whole career, you have no choice but to be a plotter. No publisher is going to pay you to come up with stuff as you go. You have to submit an outline, or a summary, or both, and once that gets approved, you generally have to stick to it. That’s one of the things I learned very early on — never tell an editor, “And you’re going to love the ending!” No. No, they won’t. Or at least, they won’t take the chance that they will. That approach has carried over into everything I work on, whether it’s on spec or not.

Also, there are writers who, like Dean Koontz, go into their office every day and write for hours and hours and hours, draft after draft, until they’re satisfied. Then there are the writers who spend days or weeks or months thinking about a story, and when they’ve thought enough, they write it all down in a whirlwind. I’m in that second camp. I do most of my “writing” driving around listening to loud, aggressive music, or working around the house, or showering, or brushing my teeth. I get the whole story worked out beforehand, and then write it all down in bursts. I have a reputation in some circles for being a very, very fast writer, but most of the time, all the heavy lifting has been done before fingers touch keyboard.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

DJ: I have a couple of writing habits, but they’re kind of boring. If I’m working on a comic book, I draw the outlines of all the pages of the comic on one page of a sketchbook, and do a very basic form of storyboarding; by the time I’m done drawing twenty-two little rectangles representing the twenty-two pages of a standard comic, my brain is fully in comic-writing gear. When I’m doing prose, I have a walking desk set up, and by the time my blood gets moving (around five minutes at two miles per hour), I’m totally in the prose-writing groove.

I used to write in a zero-gravity recliner, and my cat, The Minkus, would get in my lap, so I’d rest the laptop directly on him and work away while he slept. That had to stop, though, for two reasons. First, he doesn’t like my new laptop. I think it’s too heavy. Second, I had to take the old one in to the shop several times to get all the cat hair vacuumed out of it.

SJ:   Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

DJ: I am a very meticulous planner, as I mentioned earlier. If I had a muse, her name would be “Deadlinika,” and she would whisper things in my ear such as, “Your mortgage payment is due in two weeks,” or “You really need to get that transmission looked at,” or “The editor is expecting your first draft Monday morning,” and I’d shout, “I’M WRITING! I’M WRITING!”

As far as where ideas come from…they come from everywhere. Stories I read in the news, snippets of conversation I overhear in line at the grocery store, anecdotes my 13-year-old niece tells me…it never stops. Sometimes (not as often as I’d like), a fully-formed idea will just drop into my head out of nowhere. I wish I knew how to make that happen on a regular basis.

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

DJ: I’m afraid Deadlinika would look like a really stern, matronly grammar school teacher. She’d just stand there and stare at me, arms crossed, a ruler in one hand, tapping her foot.

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

DJ: In comics, my creator-owned series Bloodhound is closest to me. In video games, my work on Transformers: War For Cybertron came out really really well, though I’m also proud of the work I did on Dying Light. In novels, my answer used to be Alex Unlimited, the trio of YA sci-fi/espionage books I wrote for Tokyopop. But right now, the answer to the whole question is definitely Gray Widow’s Walk, the book that just debuted from Seventh Star Press. It’s what you might call “superhero noir,” and it’s the first time in my entire career that I’ve been able to take the gloves off and write anything and everything I wanted to. I am intensely proud of it. Everything I’ve ever written contains at least some of me, but Gray Widow’s Walk in general, and the characters of Janey Sinclair and Tim Kapoor in particular, are very very much me. Janey is even more me than Tim — which isn’t all that surprising, I guess, since I’ve been told more than once that my inner child is actually a 14-year-old girl. (My wife tends to agree with that assessment.)

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

DJ: I’d have to go with science-fiction. I love the genre, I grew up on it, my whole life changed the day I saw Star Wars in 1977. (I was six.) But the reason I’d choose it is that it’s so freaking broad. You can write almost anything in science-fiction. Space opera? Sure. Dystopian future, zombie apocalypse, rogue A.I.? No problem. Time travel? Of course. Superheroes? Almost all of them qualify. Even the epic fantasy saga I’m working on behind the scenes is, technically, science-fiction, in the way The Dragonriders of Pern is. I used to consider myself a horror writer, but I think I’ve really been a science-fiction writer all along.

SJ:  What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

DJ: The downside to being a freelance writer, which I’ve been for years and years, is the unpredictable nature of the business. I’ve actually been noticing a lot of similarities between what I do and what my sister-in-law and her husband do: they own and operate their own machine shop. We’re all self-employed, we’re all entrepreneurs, and when you’re self-employed, it’s always feast or famine. You’re either covered up with work (the good times) or you’re scrambling to get work (the shitty times). Sometimes I wish I had learned to do something useful, that would pay well, for the stretches when little or no work was coming in, like welding. Something I could just go do for a week or two or three until the next contract showed up. But then I think, if I hadn’t taken the whole throw-your-hat-over-the-fence, burn-your-ships approach, I wouldn’t be as far along with things as I am now. And I do love where I am now.

SJ:If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

DJ:I’d probably choose to be in Gray Widow’s Walk, because it’s set in modern-day Atlanta, and you could live your whole life in that book and not realize people were being targeted by unknown parties and having their DNA forcibly rearranged. Of course, if you did get pulled into that process, it would get a lot less pleasant in a very short amount of time, but 99.9% of the people in the city don’t realize what’s going on. Of any of my books, Gray Widow’s Walk would probably be the (relatively) safest, so that’s where I’d put a loved one, too.

I’d stick an enemy in Harran, the Middle-Eastern city overrun by zombies in the video game Dying Light. No one stays happy there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

DJ: I think some people have tapped into the (forgive me for using this word) zeitgeist in a way that lets them create success after success. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. For that matter, Aaron Spelling. And y’know what? If I could do that, I TOTALLY would. Because that would mean I would have the freedom to write anything I wanted to. Collect the millions and millions of dollars from my super-popular creation(s), and then just retire to a villa in the south of France or something and write whatever I wanted to write, with no pressure. It’d be like winning the lottery.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

DJ: Marry someone with a steady job that provides good insurance. I wish I were joking about that.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

DJ: I’ll make a case for every genre, and it goes back to a tried-and-true bit of wisdom: it’s not the story, it’s how you tell it. Good writing is good writing, no matter what genre it’s in, and it’s that fact that has led to a few of my projects (if I may toot my own horn for a moment) getting reviews that proclaim, “This is way better than it has any right to be.” I especially enjoyed those reviews when I got hired to reboot Voltron in comic book form, back around 2002. A lot of writers would have sneered and turned up their noses at that kind of job, but I dove into it head-first, and turned it into an action-packed space opera with intense character relationships and overtones of interplanetary politics.

The same concept holds true for anything, really: witness the rise of My Little Pony, built on the series’ outstanding writing. Or, from several years ago, the TV show Girlfriends. I happened to catch an episode one day, flipping channels, and while I didn’t think I would have all that much interest in a show about four young African-American women in Los Angeles, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The writing on that show was razor-sharp, and I loved it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing magical-girl manga, or gritty military science-fiction, or a story about a bitter rivalry between two old men in a retirement home. Good writing will elevate any genre, just as much as bad writing will damage it. Is every genre for everyone? No, of course not. But no genre is inherently “inferior.” That’s elitist bullshit.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

DJ: Hmmm…that’s a tough one. But I guess it goes back to when I was working for DC Comics, and was doing a signing at the DC pavilion at the San Diego ComiCon. I ran into one of their big-time, heavyweight writers, a guy who’d done multiple blockbuster books for DC and racked up walls full of awards. I hadn’t ever met him before, but he shook my hand and said, “Y’know, I always pick up your books, because I know when I see your name on the cover it’ll be top-quality.” (I eventually pried the stupid grin off my face.) Now, that was just one guy, of course, and he could’ve been blowing sunshine up my ass. But ideally? I’d love to instill that kind of confidence in all my readers. I’d love for people to see my name and, whatever medium it’s on, in whatever genre, for them to think, “Okay, I know this is going to be good.” Like virtually every creative type, I’m rife with insecurities, and I’m not saying I am that good. But it’s something to strive for.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

DJ: Well, I’ve already said a few things about Gray Widow’s Walk, so I’ll just put the blurb right here on the page:

Janey Sinclair’s ability to teleport has always been a mystery to her. She tried for years to ignore it, but when tragedy shatters her life, Janey’s anger consumes her. She hones her fighting skills, steals a prototype suit of military body armor, and takes to the streets of Atlanta, venting her rage as the masked vigilante dubbed “the Gray Widow” by the press.

But Janey’s power, and her willingness to use it, plunges her into a conflict on a much grander scale than she had anticipated.

Soon she encounters Simon Grove, a bloodthirsty runaway with a shapeshifting ability gone horribly wrong…

Garrison Vessler, an ex-FBI agent and current private defense contractor, who holds some of the answers Janey’s been searching for…

And Tim Kapoor, the first person in years with a chance of breaking through Janey’s emotional shell — if she’ll let him.

But as Janey’s vigilantism gains worldwide attention, and her showdown with Simon Grove draws ever closer, the reason for her augmented abilities — hers and all the others like her — begins to reveal itself. Because, high above the Earth, other eyes are watching. And they have far-reaching plans…

Gray Widow’s Walk is book one of the Gray Widow Trilogy, to be followed by Gray Widow’s Web and Gray Widow’s War.

That’s from the back of the book, which debuted May 13 at StokerCon in Las Vegas. The following two books will come out one per year, unless I get them done sooner than that, which is entirely possible.

I’ve been trying to decide on the perfect way to sum the book up, and I’ve got a couple of possibilities. You could say that it’s like the Netflix version of Daredevil meets Red Sonja. You could say that it’s a sci-fi/action/horror story, since the principal antagonist, Simon Grove has been responsible for more than one reader’s nightmares. But really, it’s what happens when I get to tell a story entirely my way. No word count restrictions, no age-related language restrictions, no limits on the subject matter. Gray Widow’s Walk is the purest story I’ve ever told, and I’m beyond thrilled finally to have the chance to show it to people.

DanBeachHiRes

A Georgia native, Dan Jolley is an American author who writes novels, video games, and comic books, collects unmotivated felines, and should really go to the gym more. His first original novel trilogy, the YA sci-fi/espionage “Alex Unlimited,” was published in 2007. In 2016 he launched two new series, the superhero noir “Gray Widow Trilogy” and the Middle Grade urban fantasy series “Five Elements.” His comics work includes DC Comics’ Firestorm, Eisner Award nominated JSA: The Unholy Three, and TokyoPop’s The Lost Warrior, an extension of the Warriors novel series by Erin Hunter; his video games include Transformers: War For Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, Dying Light, and Chronos. Dan and his wife, Tracy, live somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills.

Website: www.danjolley.com
Twitter: @_DanJolley
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dan.jolley1

Southern Haunts 3: An interview with Alexander S. Brown

Published May 8, 2016 by admin

SouthernHaunts3TourBadge

It’s blog tour time! Today I have an interview with not only a fantastic editor and author, but one of my favorite people and podcasting co-host. But first, ze book.

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Amazon           B&N

Genres/Subgenres: Horror, Short Story, Paranormal, Occult, Folklore/Southern Regional

Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.

From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.

These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.

Authors:

Alexander S. Brown

Angela Lucius

  1. H. David Blalock

C G Bush

Della West

Diane Ward

Elizabeth Allen

Greg McWhorter

John Hesselberg

Jonnie Sorrow

Kalila Smith

Linda DeLeon

Louise Myers

Melissa Robinson

Melodie Romeo

J L Mulvihill

Robert McGough

Tom Lucas

***

SJ: Tell us about SH3.  What makes it unique compared to 1&2?

ASB: Actually, each vol. of Southern Haunts is unique, as the subjects vary with each book.  Vol 1. Spirits that Walk Among Us, focused on ghosts.  Vol 2. Devils in the Darkness, featured on demonic entities.  Vol 3. Magick Beneath the Moonlight, regards witchcraft and cursed objects.

SJ: Why witches?  What attracts you to the theme?

ASB: I have always been attracted to the occult.  I find the whole subject fascinating and since Spirits that Walk Among Us was published, it was only a matter of time before we released an anthology about magickal persons.  But for this to happen, I had to wait.

For vol. 3 to be about witches, there is a great significance to the vol. number and the subject matter.  In the occult, there is the belief that what one puts out into the world comes back to them in triple abundance.  Also, in paganism, the maiden, the mother and the crone are recognized and honored as a trinity. These reasons are specifically why this vol. could be none other than occult related.

SJ: What makes for a good southern horror story?

ASB: Multiple elements can make a good southern horror story, such as elaborating about the habitat, cultural development, history, verbiage, and so forth.  But personally for me, what makes a southern horror story great, is the way that it is told.

Many times during childhood, I had found myself at family gatherings and I would overhear elderly relatives speak of infamous legends from the region.  The richness of their slang and phrases, made their ghost stories all the more horrifying, because it seemed more personal.  It seemed like the story tellers weren’t utilizing proper words and phrases to identify something infamous, they were using an age old southern dialect that seemed even more tangible.

SJ: Why do you think readers gravitate to themed horror like this, especially in short form?

ASB: I think the majority of readers are under attack from having a short attention span.  Because of life being so hectic, short stories can allow readers to enjoy complete stories in minimal time.  With the subjects being themed, it lets the reader know immediately what they are in store for.  This can result in a quicker purchase.  For example: Southern Haunts 3 is about witches, the title and cover image are self-explanatory.  If the reader loves witches, they are more likely to purchase.  If that reader is not a fan of magickal themed stories, then perhaps Southern Haunts vol. 1 or 2 is more their preference.

SJ: What are the benefits of anthologies?  Any downside?

The biggest benefit for an anthology is that it presents readers with a diversity of authors who they may not have read before.  This works well for the author because it can help them gain new fans.

The downside to anthologies is that no one really makes money, as book royalties are normally split between 15 to 20 creators.

SJ: Was it different wearing the editor hat compared to being an author?

ASB: It was quite different.  After finishing Southern Haunts vol. 1, I had a new respect for editors.  To me, writing is simple and relaxing, editing is time consuming and feels like work.  Although I prefer writing more than editing, editing the Southern Haunts series has improved my writing skills.

SJ:What is the best thing about putting a book like this together?  The most difficult?

ASB: The best thing about constructing an anthology is seeing likeminded authors come together and submit their creativity.  It is a good feeling to know that other names in the profession want to work with you and contribute stories that might have been stuck in their head for quite some time.

The downside is when I have to reject stories.  I can understand how an author might think that it’s so easy for an editor to dismiss a story, and this isn’t the case.  For me, sending a rejection email, hurts me just as much as it does the author.

SJ: Any advice to authors who are interested in submitting to anthologies?

ASB: First, research the publisher before you submit.

SJ: Second, follow the guidelines.  Sometimes guidelines are overly specific with their requirements, even down to spacing, font, and letter size.  Obey all of these rules.  A lot of times, editors will use these demands as ways to see if the author payed attention, or cares about their work.

SJ: What’s next for Southern Haunts? For you as an author?

ASB: For Southern Haunts vol. 4, we are anticipating creature stories.  We haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will follow the theme of its predecessors, but with monsters.

I have a few books that are in the works.  One of which is in the final edit stage, and is being published by Pro Se Press, this will be a collection of Halloween stories called The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.  I have one story left to write before Traumatized pt 2 is complete, and The Looking Glass Creatures is currently undergoing a massive edit.

AlexanderSBrown

Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Visit Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.

 

Calling all Bloggers and Reviewers!

Published March 21, 2016 by admin

Wanted to give props to some blog tours coming up – if you’re a reviewer or a book blogger, you’ll want to get in on these! Just click the link to go to the respective tour page.

Bob Freeman’s Carinwood Manor Series – Horror/Dark Fantasy

THE VAMPIRE MACGREGOR LIVES…

“Foolish pup,” MacGregor chided the werewolf, “you don’t get it. Laddie, if water were evil I’d be but a drop. What lurks below is an ocean.”

From the haunted halls of Cairnwood Manor to the bowels of Rosslyn Chapel, Bob Freeman hurls you into the very heart of the eternal conflict between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.

It’s fang versus claw, spell versus steel, and love versus death in an epic battle of blood and thunder.

When a sinister cabal converges to unleash the ultimate evil against an unsuspecting world, only the combined strength of the Wolves of Cairnwood Manor and the Circle of Nine Skulls offers up a glimmer of hope as werewolves, vampires, witches, immortal warriors, and an army of the undead collide in a battle of epic bloodshed.

Southern Haunts 3 – dark fantasy/horror –  Magic Between the Moonlight. The Southern Haunts Anthology series is back, and this time it’s featuring all stories and folklore about witches. Not to be missed.

Georgia L Jones – Remnants of Life series – paranormal/urban fantasy

Dangerous Saviors…what would you do if your life rested in the hands of something that really wanted to EAT YOU…

Come journey through the realms of the next world where everything you know about Good and Evil are put to the test.

Samantha Garrett lives and dies a good life in the human world. She awakens a new creature, Samoda, a vampire-like warrior in the army of Nuem. She is forced to realize that she has become a part of a world that humans believe to be only “Legends of Darkness”. Samoda finds her new life is entwined with the age old story of Greed, Love, Betrayal, and Vengeance.

Join our Heroine as she battle’s not just for her own existence, but for entire human race’s future.