December 30, 2016

My First Year as a Published Author: a guest post + giveaway by John Quick, author of "Consequences"

John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world. He is the author of the novel Consequences and theshort story collection Three Shots and a ChaserHis work has also appeared in the Full Moon Slaughter anthology from JEA Press. His second novel, The Journal of Jeremy Todd is due for release from Sinister Grin Press in the summer of 2017.He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and four dogs that think they're kids. When he's not hard at work on his next novel, you can find him online at www.johnquickfiction.com, Facebook at johnquickbooks, Twitter @johndquick, and Instagram at johndquick.


Reflecting Back on 2016 as My First Year as a Published Author

by John Quick, author of Consequences
It’s weird for me to consider this, but I actually now have a back-catalog. It consists of one book, but still, it counts. And it’s pretty surreal. Which got me to thinking (I know, oh crap, he’s thinking again….).
When I first hit the “publish” button on Consequences back in April, I had no idea what I was in for. Oh, I’d convinced myself I knew, but I really didn’t. See, no matter how much research you do, no matter how many people you talk to, no one can truly prepare you for that feeling right after you send your first tale out for other people to read. People you don’t know, or that never knew you even were considering being a writer, much less had something so close to release. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, depending on what they hope to get out of it, but for me, who hoped this would be a springboard to a long-term career, it was a gut-punch of reality.
“What was I thinking?” “What if no one buys it?” “What if everyone who buys it, hates it?” “I must really be nuts, I can’t believe I’ve done this.”
That’s a small taste of what ran through my mind in the hour after I hit “publish” in CreateSpace and waited for the links to go live on Amazon. I’d heard the whole “writing is a lonely profession” line before, and now, suddenly, I understood completely. It’s different when you’ve got a team working with you, editors and marketing and cover designer and the like; you act as cheerleaders for one another to a large degree. But for me, at that time, I was all I had. My family and friends had my back, sure, but it’s not quite the same. I wish I could say I handled the affair stoically (even though I’ve already indicated I didn’t), but the truth is that within an hour of hitting “publish”, I was stumbling drunk and fighting a case of the shakes so bad it only served to multiply the effects of the whiskey. How fragile was my emotional state? I went from all of that to laughing like a nut simply because I got a friend request from one of the authors that heavily influenced the book on Facebook. Flipped on a dime, all over that.
After a couple of days, the panic and mania faded, and I was able to push forward. I started making contacts, I started figuring out the things I needed to do in order to make Consequences as successful as I possibly could, all while knowing I was fighting the uphill battle that comes from self-publishing, even with how accepted the practice has become nowadays. I started making connections in the horror community, all of whom were supportive, even though they really didn’t know anything about me. They saw I was trying, and that I was serious about making it work, and that was enough. I found an incredible publicist, who was not only willing to take me on as a client, but also taught me what to do and how to do it and how to make it work more effectively.
And somewhere along the lines, friendships were forged where I never expected them to be. I’m a bit old-school, so the concept of becoming friends with someone who I only interact with only online was strange, but I have to say it was extremely welcomed.
And Consequences started to become the little book that could. Reviews began to come in, and to my surprise and delight, they were good! I’d worried for nothing. Even the ones that found faults in the book were things I’d wondered about myself at various times while it was being written, and were constructive enough I took them to heart and put them to use in the other things I worked on. Somewhere in there I landed a contract with one of the best horror small presses to ever release a book, Sinister Grin, for the follow-up novel.
Suddenly, everything I’d dreamed of—once I settled into realistic goals for being published, that is—started to come true. I wasn’t about to become a multi-millionaire through writing, but I’d sold copies to people I didn’t know, and strangers had enjoyed the story I’d crafted. For me, that was reward enough.
As the fervor that immediately followed the release began to die down, I started looking toward what came next. The Sinister Grin novel wouldn’t be released until the middle of next year, so there was a gap where I worried that momentum I’d built up might slow. So the idea came to do another self-published release, something to tide people over until The Journal of Jeremy Todd was revealed to the world.
I’d only recently begun exploring writing shorter things at this point. For whatever reason, the story ideas I came up with were too broad in scope to be restricted to only a couple thousand words. I managed to find a home for one of them, “In the Moonlit Forest Glade,” with the Full Moon Slaughter anthology, but I had a few more floating around that I wasn’t even sure where to look for placement. They sat just outside easy definition, which is the opposite of what’s needed for most anthology open calls. Then again, I did have that gap and was looking for a way to fill it, so why not a collection?
I pitched the idea to some friends both in and out of the business, and got an almost universal yes to it. My publicist, Erin, who is also an editor, agreed to put those editorial skills to use on it, and so Three Shots and a Chaser was conceived. I cleaned the stories up, and added a wrap-around tale to tie it all together. I got a cover together that looked incredible. The pieces were falling into place, so I set a release date and started to brace myself for another series of panic-induced sleepless nights.
Only a funny thing happened. This time around, I didn’t feel alone. My family weren’t the only ones sharing the announcements about this collection on social media. I had people to talk to about issues figuring out how to set up the pre-order on Kindle. I found that I could reach out with questions and get answers easily when I needed to. I had that team I’d been missing. I was self-publishing, but I wasn’t doing it all by myself.
The release date came, and instead of panic and doubt, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment. This time around, I got to ride the high, so to speak, and actually feel some pride at having proved I wasn’t just a one-trick pony when it came to putting things out there.
Some of this was due to it no longer being a new experience, but I think there was more to it than that. This time, I think, once the release date came, all the rough edges and little worries that had built up during the preparation for Consequences had been worn away by the support and encouragement I felt along the way.

This has been a rough year in many, many ways, but for me, it’s been incredible as well. I had no idea when I made the decision that I would have something published, no matter what, that this is where I’d be by the time Christmas came around again. I would like to thank everyone who’s supported me these past few months, whether it was just a kind word, a “like” on a post or a tweet about Consequences or Three Shots and a Chaser, or sharing the word however you could. Maybe you didn’t feel like it was all that much, but what a difference it made to me.

Enter the GIVEAWAY for a Print Copy of Consequences!
Purchase the e-copy on sale!
You can purchase CONSEQUENCES at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E6B9ZV8

December 25, 2016

Thirteen Books I Read and Enjoyed in 2016

I may not be the guy to look to for a definitive list of the best books from this year, mainly because I didn't read nearly as many as I had intended to, but I can at least come up with a list of a baker's dozen that I did read and enjoyed enough to recommend to my fellow genre mutts.

So here ya go. And have a MERRY MERRY and a HAPPY HAPPY!



Resume Speed by Lawrence Block - Maybe the best noir writer out there? Maybe? Yeah, probably. This novella about a new fella in town trying to make a fresh start as a dark past catches up with him is as good a call sign for the kind of dark fiction at which Block excels.

Zero Lives Remaining by Adam Cesare - While the book isn't drenched in the 80s nostalgia like so much of what has been heralded this year, the arcade is one of those things I associate with my formative years of that time, and Cesare manages to turn it into coin-operated carnage as only he can.

The Terminal by Amber Fallon - 2016 was a tire fire, but at least we weren't invaded by interdimensional barbarians. Yet. Same can't be said for Fallon's gory ode to holiday air travel though. as she turned the dial from zero to mayhem in no time flat. 


In Midnight's Silence by T. Frohock - This novella was the first in Frohock's Los Nefilim trilogy, and is a riveting piece of urban fantasy that has the added touch of being historical fantasy with a tremendous backdrop of the impending Spanish civil war.

In the Shadow of the Axe by Nicholas Kaufmann - Speaking of historical, Kaufmann's channeling of Hammer films was a treat to read, with the spectre of a necromancer terrorizing a remote German village.

Pressure by Brian Keene - In keeping with the globetrotting was this bit of deep sea horror set in the Indian ocean. A sea bed crawling with Lovecraftian horrors isn't a bad way to go and the first half of this novel was absolutely spellbinding with the buildup to the monster's reveal.


Hap & Leonard by Joe R. Lansdale - A year can't go by without me including something by Lansdale on a year-end list. This time it was the short story collection that complemented the airing of the TV series. The meat of the book comes from two novellas, but there's plenty more to enjoy.

Wilted Lilies by Kelli Owen - Maybe this novella is the best thing Owen has written yet, but it's hard to say because I haven't been let down by anything of hers I've read so far. This one starts off with a police interrogation of a young girl who claims to talk to the dead and it just gets more unsettling from there.

Greetings From Moon Hill by Anthony J. Rapino - Granted, I had already read everything in this collection at one time or another before it was all brought together through a Kickstarter campaign. But that doesn't change the fact that the guy can spin one weird tale after another.


Mother of Abominations by Desmond Reddick - If being a brilliant podcaster wasn't enough with Dread Media, Reddick is turning into a heckuva writer too, and this debut novel with kaiju beasts romping and stomping the globe shows real promise.


Devils in Dark Houses by B.E. Scully - I hadn't heard of Scully's work before, but enough people whose opinions I hold in high regard praised her work enough that I felt the need to check out this book of connected novellas. I was not disappointed.

Still Mine by Amy Stuart - Stuart's mystery novel was another debut that caught my eye this summer. I felt her protagonist, Claire, was more compelling than the actual mystery Claire was trying to solve in this book, but that's hardly a complaint considering I'm keen to read more Claire in the future.


Little Dead Red by Mercedes M. Yardley - This novella won a Bram Stoker Award this year, and it was a well-deserved win at that, as Yardley's prose is downright magical. Even with a story that had an ending I felt was a bit too telegraphed, it was the journey of a distraught mother seeking justice for her missing daughter that had me captivated.

December 20, 2016

Movie Madness: an interview with Lucas Mangum, author of "Mania"

Mania follows controversial filmmaker William Ward as he films an adaptation of a supposedly cursed screenplay.
Though he doesn’t believe in curses, he’s happy to have the hype surrounding his newest movie. But as production begins, he soon learns that the curse is all too real and the vengeful ghost haunting the script is only a piece of the puzzle.

At its heart is a shadowy cult, manipulating events behind the scenes. As dark forces gather around him, Ward and his girlfriend Rachel try to find a way to break the curse before it’s too late.

AVAILABLE AT Amazon

What was the impetus behind Mania?
I wanted to do the literary equivalent of the films I grew up watching. Stuff like In the Mouth of Madness and Candyman and The Ring. I started with the idea of a cursed object—in this case, a screenplay that kills anyone who tries to film it—and went from there. My main character is a controversial movie director, skeptical of the curse, but willing to accept the aura of the curse as a selling point for his movie. I was fascinated by a creator being consumed by his creation, someone killing himself by making a movie.
What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from the previous titles?
The developmental stage of the book is the longest I’ve ever spent on a project. I got the idea back in 2006, did all the character sketches in 2008, outlined it in 2011, and wrote it in 2014. My planning stage for a project usually happens a lot quicker than that, and I usually only take one to two sittings to map out a story before I write it. This idea came to me before I had really sharpened my skills as a writer, and I think I liked the idea so much I saw fit to work on it a little at a time and wait until I was truly ready to write the book.
How have you found your progression as a writer thus far?
Writing is one of those skills that, in my opinion, you never stop learning. I just recently went to Bizarro Con and took a workshop with Brian Keene on writing visually, which taught me a lot about how to cue the reader to see what I see, or rather what I want them to see. Fascinating stuff, very useful. Most importantly, it wasn’t something I’d thought of before, even if in some cases I was subconsciously doing it. I’m constantly trying to sharpen the tools, to get better. I think if I get too comfortable, my writing will certainly suffer.
Who do you count among your writing influences?

Clive Barker is probably my biggest influence. Him and Italian horror movies from the 70s and 80s. Something about that elegant approach to carnage really stirs me. Recently, I’ve found my inspiration in the work of Samantha Hunt, Kali Wallace, J David Osborne, Shane McKenzie, AE Padilla, Autumn Christian, Laura Lee Bahr, Lee Thompson, and Rios de la Luz.

What do you consider to be the biggest misconception of the horror genre?
Believe it or not, there’s still a large group of people who think horror is nothing but gore. Now, I admit to being a bit of a gorehound myself, but the genre encompasses so much more. As Douglas E. Winter said, horror is less a genre than it is an emotion. I think people tend to forget that. Any piece of fiction can have horror elements without adhering to the strict confines of genre.
Is there any kind of a gear shift when switching genres or story lengths?
My stories always tend to begin with character. Length and genre tend to figure themselves out. Of course, if I’m asked for something specific, like with my story in V WARS: SHOCKWAVES from IDW, there’s more prewriting involved.
What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

The worst piece of advice I ever received was that I should learn how to use Twitter before I even have a book written. Now, social media is important, but I don’t think it should ever get in the way of the writing. Writing comes first. Always.

What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

I’m shopping two books. One is a novella called Gods of the Deep Web which is a cosmic horror tale based in the ugliest corners of the internet. The other is Blood and Brimstone, a large scale horror novel set partly in a small Pennsylvania town and partly in hell that pre-readers are calling hilariously dark and Tarantino-esque.



Lucas Mangum is an author living in Austin, TX. He enjoys wrestling, cats, wrestling with cats, and drinking craft beer while crafting weird tales.
His debut novel, Flesh and Fire, is out now as part of Journalstone's Double Down series with a new novel by New York Times Bestseller Jonathan Maberry and Rachael Lavin.
Follow him on Twitter @LMangumFiction and talk to him about books, pro-wrestling, and horror movies. Learn more about him at his website

December 19, 2016

Author Insights: Balancing a Series: a guest post by Thomas S. Flowers, author of "Conceiving"

Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter.
He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Books, Dwelling, Emerging and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC.
In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History.

He blogs at machinemean.org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can learn more about Thomas and all his strange writings by joining his mailing list at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.


Author Insights: Balancing a Series
By Thomas S. Flowers, Author of Conceiving

There are plenty of examples of how different writers handle balancing various series. Consider the classic Universal monsters for example. The Mummy character ran within the original lexicon for about five or six (if you include the Abbott and Costello feature) movies. Arguably, we could say that The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), and The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) are more technical faithful sequels, most of which taking place at the end of the previous film. And in similar fashion, some writers balance their series with the next book and/or film taking place directly following the events of the predecessor.

And there are those that keep to the context of the previous work but move forward in time, be it a few months or a few years. Consider J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise as a good example of that. The next book picking up a few months following the end of the previous book/film, at the end of summer vacation as the new school year is taking place. Thus, each book is closely connected. I’d be amiss not to mention Stephen King’s manga opus, The Dark Tower series in which the gunslinger embarks on a quest to find The Dark Tower. Though technically a trilogy, Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series takes part years between each other, with both new and reoccurring characters.

A third example, I think, are book series, and even film, in which the sequels are only connected through characters and/or theme. Consider the classic young reader series The Boxcar Children as a good example of a series that is connected on the theme of solving a crime or mystery. The books can be years or days apart (story wise) from each other, it doesn’t matter. Goosebumpscould be another example, though with Goosebumps the only connection is the “Goosebumps” title and the understanding that you’re about to read a scary story, the brand more or less.

I’m sure there are other examples of how different writers balance and control the flow and development of their series. For me, I wanted to make my Subdue Series both connected and rewarding for longtime readers, but also easy enough to jump in without getting lost or confused, making the new book accessible for those who do not want to read the previous ones. This was somewhat challenging, balancing the two groups of readers, the faithful and the newcomers. Giving just enough to satisfy both. Before we dive into that, let me at last describe each book, generally, so that we are all on the same page.

Dwelling was my first book in the Subdue Series. The story follows five childhood friends now adults and torn apart by war. Each character is thus connected to the Iraq War in some way. All served directly, except for Maggie, who was married to the fifth friend, Ricky. As adults the once childhood friends are now only loosely connected. Phone calls every now and then. Letters. Emails. Etc. etc. Some stay in touch more than others. Johnathan and Ricky for example were very close, up until Ricky’s death. From his death, we see an impact in the lives of Johnathan and Maggie. Bobby, another member of the childhood friends, is in hiding, more or less, homeless on the streets of Houston, Texas. He chooses to live a life of solitude because he fears he’ll harm those he loves if he’s around them. During his service in the Army he contracted a curse, an uncontrollable rage that takes over every full moon (wink wink). On his course of self-destruction, he happens upon a strange woman who seems to know a lot about his condition. She attempts to help him, warning him of impending danger. Jake is the last of the childhood friends. He more or less stays connected with Maggie and Johnathan the most, as no one is able to find Bobby. Having served as well, Jake deals with his own brand of guilt and doubt. As a Presbyterian minister, this religious doubt becomes more of a focal point for him. And of course, I’d be amiss not to mention the House, the driving force that eventually will reconnect the friends, for good or bad…who can say? Some of the history of this “house” is told in historical segments through the character Augustus Westfield, dating back to just after the American Civil War (1865).

Dwelling ends somewhat nihilistically. Most have enjoyed this aspect, however, a few did not jive well with the stories conclusion, or lack thereof. The questionability of purpose and meaning, I felt, was an honest take on the characters and the deeper theme of the book.

Emerging is the second book in the series and takes place only a few short months following the end of Dwelling. The same cast of characters return and are in route to rondevu at the “house,” Maggie’s house in Jotham, Texas. At the end of Dwelling, Maggie had sent out letters to each of her surviving friends. Due to their individual struggles and issues, some of the characters begin to clash with one another. Trust becomes elusive as the “house” begins to take its toll on them. The history of Jotham and its connection around the “house” is farther expanded on, as is the source of the presence felt in and under the “house.”

Emerging ends less nihilistically than Dwelling, but since I do not personally believe horror is ever meant to answer anything, but rather raise more questions, the story cannot completely remove the mood of this philosophy.

Now…how to pick up from here in continuing a series? Hours? Days? Weeks? Years? And with what characters, some, all, or none? Can the source of the power within the “house” in the previous books be so easily destroyed? All these questions were considered when drafting the third book. I decided to base the story “nearly” a year following the events of Emerging. And limited the characters. In Dwelling and Emerging, with four-five major characters and the minor characters of whom they interacted, the cast was filling a bit cramped. In Conceiving, this third book in the series, I decided to narrow the players to three groups and individuals. And the only major carry over being, Bobby Weeks, who’s particular condition allows him the ability to survive extreme situations.

Let’s stop here, as Bobby is really the key to how I balanced Conceiving as being accessible to new readers and faithful to reoccurring readers of the series. Dreams and memory can be useful tools when trying to “recap” previous episodes or events. But you have to be careful, as too much of these can be daunting and downright annoying. For Bobby, I did a “recap” in a memory within a dream. I’d love to explain more of that, however, I do not want to spoil anything that ought to be discovered through reading. But I can say, though, there is a minor recap regarding the events of the previous books, mostly dealing with Emerging. For new readers, they get to be introduced to this new character while getting a little bit about their history set within an action sequence and not just exposition. Exposition is fine, but only in short doses, and with Bobby (especially with new readers) I didn’t want the first impression to be a boring one. For reoccurring readers, you are reintroduced to an old friend, catching up on why he is the way he is, his horror, why he is in mourning and the benefit of seeing him and his curse evolve.

Luna and Ronna Blanche, the second group in Conceiving, would be the only other characters long time readers will be familiar with. Thus the major benefit of having read the previous books is already being intimate with the history of the cast. Luna was a minor character in Dwelling and Emerging but now plays a larger role. Ronna is a name you will only recognize if you’ve read my novella Lanmȯ, a horror story based in Mississippi’s 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Ronna was a young voodoo priestess then and now in Conceiving, as it is set during modern time, she is an old woman, Luna’s grandmother. There are events that happen in Lanmȯ that correlate and farther develop in Conceiving, of which I cannot giveaway. In balancing old and new readers, this story between Luna and her grandmother is new for both parties. New readers get the benefit of discovering who this woman, Ronna, really is and what her so-called “sin” is as described in the book. Longtime readers get the added benefit of already knowing that “sin,” but being able to see the story told from another perspective with detail not previously known.

Boris and Neville Petry, the third and final major group in Conceiving, are brand new characters for both longtime readers and new readers, thus benefiting both equally. Between Bobby as the one major carryover and the Petry’s as the one “brand new” members to the cast balance each other, giving more tasty detail to longtime readers and making the story accessible to new ones. Telling the story like this has helped me make Conceiving approachable as a standalone AND as a continuation faithful to readers of the previous books.




Dark things are dwelling in Jotham, Texas. Malicious forces are seen emerging from the sinister house on Oak Lee Road…
With little memory of the events that took the lives of his friends, Bobby Weeks tries to move on with his life, and finds a job at a warehouse on Galveston Island. The evil in Jotham won’t leave him behind, though. Strangers from the cursed town find him, offering information about what happened to his friends. It all leads back to Baelo University…back to Jotham.
Luna Blanche has always been gifted, but now she must use those gifts to save Bobby…
Luna goes to the Mississippi Delta to take care of her dying grandmother. She misses Bobby, and when she attempts to see Bobby through her mind, all she finds is a deadly future. Fearing his life is in danger, she leaves the Delta and searches for him in Jotham.
Neville and Boris Petry want nothing more than the picturesque American Dream…
After Boris accepts a new job teaching at Baelo University, the Petrys move to Jotham to finally live out their dream. Following a drunken faculty party, Neville discovers she is pregnant. She should be ecstatic, but dreadful dreams lead her to feel as if something is wrong with the baby, her husband…and the school.
Four destinies bound on a collision course, a plot conceived in the shadows of Jotham…and an evil biding its time…waiting for them all.
Dwelling, Book One in the Subdue Series
A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war…
A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.
Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away…
Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity.
Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse…
Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.
Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield…
While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.
When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them.
The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?
Emerging, Book Two in the Subdue Series
Traumatized by war, friends gather for a reluctant reunion…
A historic house in Jotham, Texas harbors a malevolent force, and as her fear grows, widow Maggie Smith pleads with three lifelong friends to gather in her home. But will their presence combat the darkness…or feed it?
Minister Jake Williams fears Maggie has had a breakdown…
Feeling he has no choice, Jake locates the other intended guest, Bobby Weeks, who agrees to go with him but struggles with keeping his lycanthropic curse hidden.
Jonathan Steele, a wounded veteran battling PTSD, arrives with his disgruntled wife. After drinking too much at dinner, Jonathan insults the homeless Bobby, and Bobby is missing from the house the next morning.
The dark past of Maggie’s home awakens in the present…
Jake, whose faith is in doubt, confides in a local priest while he and Jonathan search for Bobby, and Ricky’s ghost makes another visit to Jonathan, causing him to become fixated on saving Maggie from the evil that surrounds her.
As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…
Maggie might be lost, Bobby confronts a terrible choice, and Jake and Jonathan fight to save them all—before they become more victims of the horror emerging beneath the deadly house in Jotham.

Purchase Links
Conceiving – Book Three
Dwelling – Book One
Emerging – Book Two
Limitless Publishing will be offering all three books in one boxed set coming late December 2016! You can pre-order NOW though for an exclusive price of only .99 cents!

December 5, 2016

Salton Preppers Here: an interview with Jennifer Brozek, author of "The Last Days of Salton Academy"

It's referred to as 'The Outbreak,' and it happened just over three months ago, casting the world (or at least this part of it) into a state of powerlessness and chaos. The Salton Academy has become a rare sanctuary for those few students who remained behind over fall break.

As winter approaches, cracks are revealed in the academy's foundations as it's discovered someone is stealing food, another is taking advantage of a captive audience, and yet others have banded together and are thinking about mutiny, even murder. One thing's for certain — a supply run must be made soon, or everyone will starve before winter's end.

Oh yes, and then there’s the matter of the headmaster’s son and his undead dog…

The Last Days of Salton Academy is a classic tale of horror in the spirit of Night of the Living Dead meets Lord of the Flies, featuring an ensemble cast and written by Hugo Award-nominated editor and award-winning author, Jennifer Brozek.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Days-Salton-Academy/dp/1941987702/

Gef: With The Last Days of Salton Academy, you purposefully kept the setting vague as far as pinning it down geographically. Is that for creative license or for that "it can happen anywhere" vibe?

Jennifer: Yes. It is. It is also based on my extensive travel. I consciously took pieces from four areas to create the Anywhere, America setting for The Last Days of Salton Academy. I took the small town feel from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The structured setting and brick buildings from Fort Dix, New Jersey. The rolling, golden hills and “tri-cities” concept from where I lived in California—Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton tri-valley area. Finally, the isolated feeling from the Pasco, Kennewick, Richland tri-cities area of western Washington.

Gef: Outbreaks come in all shapes in sizes. How specific do you get with yours in this book, or are you more concerned with the aftermath and the human interplay there?

Jennifer: The Last Days of the Salton Academy is focused solely on the aftermath and the interplay between a small subset of people. The location is isolated. The nearest town is at least ten miles away. In the story, only one zombie makes it to the academy campus and its casualty is a black Labrador. I don’t care about zombies. I care about the situations they put people in and the hard choices they are forced to make.

Gef: Apocalyptic fiction has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance as it were. Why do you suppose that is and what drew you to writing this novel?

Jennifer: Every generation goes through a phase where they wonder “what if what I know breaks down?”. Because of that, apocalyptic fiction waxes and wanes. Right now, there are some scary things happening in the real world. In this digital age, you can’t get away from it. It makes people turn to the “what if” stories that wipe the slate clean. 

This novel drew me because I got to play around with some of the worlds I’ve experienced—Small Town, America; the bubble world of a military base; the security and isolationism of living somewhere that has eight foot stone walls; Belgium. 

Gef: What would you say in the biggest misconception about “YA” fiction?

Jennifer: I think there are two. The first is that there must be a romance in the story. Not all teenagers are hormone-addled. Some of them just want an adventure tale. The second is that you don’t need to dumb down your language. Today’s teens are smart and savvy. They know a lot more than their parents want to admit. I focus on plotlines that haunted me as a teen—how do I fit into this world and how can I make a difference?

Gef: Was there anything different in your approach to writing this book that was different from your previous titles?

Jennifer: This book is a little different for me because more than half the characters are idealized, exaggerated, teenaged versions of my friends. Now, I never knew any of them as teens. I’ve taken pieces from what I know of them and blown them up. Then, I based my main teen antagonist on my husband, Jeff. We had so much fun talking over what fictionalized, teenaged him would do in the situations I described—how and why. Some people really love that character. Some really hate him.

Gef: You have some snazzy covert art for your novel as well, complemented by the overall design. Who was behind that, and did you have any input into it?

Jennifer: That was all my publisher, Ragnarok Publications. The cover was designed by M.S. Corley and it perfectly captures the gothic horror of the story. One review called The Last Days of Salton Academy a “gothic zombie story.” It’s old school horror and I love it. My only input was to enthusiastically approve it.

Gef: As you were researching for this one, were there any tidbits of info that took you by surprise? Something that came out of left field that you either had to include in some fashion or was just too distracting from what you already had in mind?

Jennifer: The only thing that really surprised me was the medical condition of the headmaster’s son, Evan. It is based in reality. I didn’t know he had the condition until we once talked about what you would do if the unthinkable occurred and zombies did appear. His wife’s answer was “I’d join the winning team.” Evan agreed and we talked about why. People with a need for lifesaving medicine would be seriously screwed in an apocalypse. It gave me the perfect reason to have Evan do what he did.

Gef: It's closed quarters and potential for a large cast of characters. How wide a net did you cast when exploring these characters? Did you hone in on one to view through his/her experiences or did you want more of a mosaic feel for the story?

Jennifer: In close quarters, every person’s actions touch every other person whether they know it or not. I had several point of view characters. It was needed. There is a mosaic feel to the story, but it really was all about the downfall of one person, Jeff, trying to do what he thought was best for the good of the whole. Even though his actions were a catalyst to condemn the school, it was the actions of the other students that actually brought it to ruin.

Gef: Assuming the Outbreak doesn't occur anytime soon IRL, what else do you have in the works? And how can readers keep up with your shenanigans?

Jennifer: I’ve just finished and turned in a couple of RPG tie-in novels. I plan to go back to writing teen horror in 2017. I am active on Facebook as Jennifer Brozek and have a fan page, Jennifer Brozek Author, as well. Most of my short burst interactions are on twitter (@JenniferBrozek). If you want to know about any of my books or other stuff about me, www.jenniferbrozek.com is the way to go. Just expect a lot of talk about writing, cats, ingress, and gaming.



Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award-nominated editor and an award-winning author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fifteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, and the Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.
Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS.
Jennifer is the author of the award-winning YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO Aion and the award-winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns. She is the author of The Last Days of Salton Academy, published by Ragnarok.

December 2, 2016

Between White Wizards and Evil Girlfriends: an interview with Jon Del Arroz, author of "Star Realms:Rescue Run"

Since being court-martialed by the Star Empire, smuggler and thief Joan Shengtu has done what she needed to do in order to survive—gaining a reputation along the way. When a new client’s mission goes sideways, Joan finds herself caught in the middle of dueling gambits between the Star Empire and the Trade Federation. Recruited to perform the heist of a lifetime, the fate of the Star Empire rests in her hands. 

On the opposite side of the galaxy, Regency BioTech manager Dario Anazao sees an unsustainable situation brewing that promises a full-scale revolution. The megacorporations of the Trade Federation have kept the population in horrible working conditions, violating their human rights. With no one else to help, Dario must take it upon himself to rescue the workers of Mars. 

Can two heroes from warring factions come together to make a difference in the galaxy? 


Star Realms: Rescue Run is the first novelization of the critically acclaimed Star Realms spaceship combat deckbuilding game. You can check out the game here: http://www.starrealms.com.




Gef: How did your involvement with Star Realms come about?
Jon: I started playing the card game of Star Realms right after the Kickstarter copies came out in 2014. It’s been a staple of a game that I’ve played hundreds of times since then both in person and on the app. Last year I started talking with the White Wizard Games folk about my ideas for a deeper background for their world. They liked it, and we got together with a phenomenal publisher in Evil Girlfriend Media. 
Gef: Was there anything in your writing process of this book that you approached differently from previous titles?
 
Jon: Absolutely. I had more than a hundred different cards to look at with beautiful images of ships, bases and heroes. This helped me to envision the world more clearly in my mind and the naming conventions of the game dictated a lot for coming up with the world. White Wizard Games had to approve a lot of the ideas and background as well, so they gave input on the world building and writing process, which is usually much more of a solitary endeavor.
 
Gef: What's the greatest challenge when it comes to adapting an RPG/tabletop game into a novel? Is there much of a balancing act in catering to diehard fans and those unfamiliar with the game?
 
Jon: The way games flow, at least in a board game capacity, don’t always make sense from a narrative perspective. There’s a balance and speed that don’t quite work for stories, especially in long form version. This particular game focuses a lot on battle and mostly on ship to ship combat at that. I took a route of drilling down and focusing on characters who live in that dangerous world, and how they would act to different situations. The balancing act ended up mostly being how much slice of life do we see versus how much action. 
 
I think the story itself can be read and enjoyed by anyone who likes military science fiction. If you’re a player of the game, you’ll get a ton of Easter eggs that should make you happy, but the story stands very well regardless of your knowledge of Star Realms. I dropped a lot of references to some of my favorite sci-fi works as well for those coming from that perspective. That said, I highly recommend playing the game. It’s about as fun as it comes!
 
Gef: What's the biggest misconception of space opera from what you've heard from readers--and writers for that matter?
Jon: Most of the younger generation doesn’t seem to know the term at all and I get blank looks when I mention it. If you are talking to someone of a certain age, they seem to view Space Opera as a derogatory term, which I don’t view that way at all. I still remember being a kid and scanning through a bookshelf and finding an Elizabeth Moon book on the shelves which said: “Space Opera is back! And Elizabeth Moon writes it!” I pretty much dreamed of writing Space Opera from that point. 
I think a lot of the old stigma changed with Star Wars and Babylon 5 for the term Space Opera, but it persisted through some of the literary field. I proudly hail my work as Space Opera, though many of my more established author friends tell me I should refer to my work as Military Science Fiction. I tell them that my characters aren’t in the military so that seems like false advertising.  Naming conventions for sub-genres are tough, is what I’ve learned!
Gef: What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?
 
Jon: Writing is really tricky. I’m not certain there is such a thing as bad advice – unless that advice makes writing such a chore that it makes you stop writing, and that hasn’t happened to me. I’m very firmly of the belief that writing is a learn by doing and repetition skill, and so repeating and doing writing is what’s most important.

A lot of what works for a person won’t work for another person. Some people just write on the fly, some do a lot of prep before starting writing (I’m in that camp). My processes wouldn’t work for a lot of people and a lot of people’s wont work for me. I’ve paid for online classes which some great authors swear by that I feel like didn’t help me at all. I’ve also had some friendly critiques of my work change my process completely. I’m hesitant to call the stuff that didn’t work for me invalid or worst because it might just work for someone else and I wouldn’t want to take away that exploration of the process for someone coming up.

Writing advice I wish would go away is a different matter. There’s a list of words in a book called Self Editing for Fiction Writers which I like to seek and destroy after a couple of passes. It is excruciating to do so, so I certainly wish I would go away, but it won’t because it’s darn good advice!

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?
 
Jon: I love Twilight and Stephenie Meyer! I don’t feel guilty about it though. I think she’s taken a ton of undue flack because she had the nerve to get too popular. Every interview I’ve read of her she seems like such a nice, humble person.  I am certainly looking forward to her new book, The Chemist.
 
Gef: How intensive does the research process get for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?
Jon: I go pretty intensive. My current work in process has a character who has a masters degree in botany, and so I’m spending hours watching Youtube videos on plants and flowers, reading academic papers. I want to pick up some of the lingo so it comes across as authentic. Star Realms was a bit easier because I play that game so often I know the cards like the back of my hand. But we can call all of those hours I spent playing a game research now, right? Seems justified.
Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?
 
Jon: I mentioned my work in progress already, which I’m at about 25,000 words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’m not sure when that will be ready for publication. I have a few short stories out there in anthologies you can find on Amazon with a quick search for Jon Del Arroz.  I aim to spend December/January editing a novella which I’d like to release in ebook form in February 2017, along with another Space Opera novel which I wrote before Rescue Run which is going to be a lot of fun. 
 
I’m at:
@tbr_otomo on twitter – I do periscopes periodically talking about games and writing
And I’m a season ticket holder for the Oakland A’s. I’ll be in section 124 in the summertime.


December 1, 2016

The Monsters Inside Us: a guest post + giveaway by Donna Galanti, author of The Element Trilogy



The Monsters Inside Us

by Donna Galanti



In some movies and books the monsters are obvious. But are the monsters inside us?
In my paranormal suspense, A Human Element, X-10 is obviously monstrous. He kills. He seeks blood and revenge. He has no remorse. Yet as we come to discover it’s a combination of his genes and environment, can we blame him?
And sometimes we create the very monsters we fear who are really to be pitied, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We can identify with him as we have all felt like an outcast, rejected and unloved at times. Is Frankenstein truly the monster or is it the human who created him?
I believe the true monsters in my book lie beneath the surface of characters that are not so obviously monstrous.
The abusive foster father.
The scientist who tortures his experiment.
The doctor who sells a baby.
The men who kidnap and torture a sailor.
Do they get what they deserve in the end? You’ll have to read to find out…
I created new scenes of the monster, X-10, for the re-release of A Human Element that blur the boundaries of good and evil further for him. We see him now once loved and desired, and in return he shines kindness on the only soul that ever touched him with tenderness. While genes and environment have made X-10 what he is, should he be feared or pitied? Or both? In an interview here with X-10, you may fear him more than pity.
New scene with X-10. A true monster?:
As X-10 ran under the full moon, leaping over rocks and roots, darting around boulders he could see her in his mind.
Laura. You are mine.
Then he saw her with her man. Water coursed all around them. Her hair hung wet about her shoulders. X-10 closed off his mind's eye to the scene. It made him feel strange. And in that strange feeling he couldn't define, X-10 hated her even more.
Rage surged through him and his blood pulsed fast, throbbing under his white skin in blue rivers. Why did she get to have her man when he couldn’t have his woman? Why was she worthy and he wasn’t? But Sabrina’s touches had made him feel worthy. Even if they were paid. And she had smelled and looked so good.
The night flashed through him again and he moaned with agony over the loss of the girl who left a hole in his heart. The girl who called him Charlie and loved him for just one night.
After Sabrina’s fear of him had left her, she’d sat down on his bed then. "Why don't we just lie here for now? We can talk, you know. Like real…people."
He stood over her, considering. What would he talk about with a human girl?
She lay down on her side and he did too, facing her. Her blonde hair curved along her breasts like silky strands of sparkly cotton candy. He'd seen a picture of it once being swirled on a stick at a fair. He wondered what it would taste like. What she would taste like.
She touched his face then pulled her fingers away. "When you look at all your parts, you're not so bad."
"A monster."
"No. I've been with monsters."
"Like me?"
She shook her head. "Monsters on the inside."
Even in the garish light she was the loveliest thing he had ever seen. He wanted to touch her, but was afraid of his urges. To hurt and maim and kill. Good guys don't do those things. And she had called him by his name. As if he was a good guy.
No! No good guy!
He was evil to the core.
And hate spurred him on now. Hate would help him survive. He forced himself to run faster through the night. Why did Laura get to live a normal life? He vowed to make her end not normal. And in that end, she would wish she had never been born.
A lonesome dog bayed in the hills above X-10 as if approving his plan. Streaks of moonlight and shadows fell across his face like whip lashes over and over, creating a living painting from darkness and light. He would show Laura darkness like she never experienced, and pain. There would be so much pain. He howled back at the creature that rode alone through the woods as he did. Perhaps they would meet along their journeys.
He hoped so. He was getting hungry again.
Who are some of your favorite monsters? And did they get what they deserved in the end or were they to be pitied and redeemed?
About A Human Element:
Evil comes in many forms…
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.
Praise for the Element Trilogy:
"Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.  Highly recommended." —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Code Zero
"Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world." —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall
"Fascinating…a haunting story…"—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath
Purchase the Element Trilogy on sale through December 15th
Book 1 A HUMAN ELEMENT for $0.99
Book 2 A HIDDEN ELEMENT for $1.99
ABOUT DONNA:

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse that has lots of nooks and crannies, but sadly no ghosts. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com.


ENTER GIVEAWAY! Prize Pack: Win $15 Amazon Gift Card, e-book of The Dark Inside, Element Trilogy story collection, and become a character in the final Element Trilogy book!