Category Archives: fiction

Guest Post: Maynard Blackoak

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Musical Inspiration for the Wild Weird West

Maynard Blackoak

 

Writing takes me down many paths through the tales I spin.  Each dusty trail taken was influenced in a different manner.  Sometimes, it is something as simple as a grouping of trees around a large sandstone boulder.  Other times, an old film sparks a flame of creativity.  Many things activate the part of my brain that manufactures the stories I write.  However, music is one of the most important tools used for inspiration.

A particular song can put me in the saddle in the middle of a cattle drive.  Often, a tune can make me smell the leather of the saddle beneath me and feel the sun on my forehead, or a cold rain slapping my face.  Music can remove my mind from my body and teleport it through space and time to an era when vigilante justice was meted out quickly with a gun or a noose.

In my collection of Wild West collides with horror tales, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, music was instrumental in nearly all my yarns.  Though most of the stories in this collection were not directly inspired by a particular song, listening to a special song put me in a proper frame of mind.  On some occasions, I listened to the same song repeatedly as I weaved the fabric of a tale.

Take the story, Willows of the Mourning Dove; I listened to Running Bear by Sonny James several times, as I penned the tale.  Though the character of Mourning Dove was very loosely based on the female love interest in the song, little else about the story resembles the tune.  Still, the music and lyrics inspired me as I wrote.  Had I listened to another song while I put words to page, the story would have most likely taken a different path.

While inking The Jonah Herd, there were two songs on my playlist, Stampede by Chris Ledoux and Rawhide by Frankie Laine.  Other than both using a cattle drive as the subject matter, nothing about the story suggests a tie to either tune.  Nonetheless, both kept my mind firmly planted on a trail drive.  Both brought me to a place where I could feel the mud from the hooves of horses and cattle hitting my face and see the rain as it dripped from the brim of my hat.

As I sat writing The Guns of Clay Allison, the tune Big Iron by Marty Robbins played almost exclusively.  There is absolutely no link between the song and tale, but I knew I needed to listen to it if I was to pen the story.  It gave me the sense of using a primitive six-shooter and filled my nose with the scent of spent gunpowder.

In the story Collateral Winds, the song Seven Spanish Angels by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles inspired and influenced the story.  A tale of a path taken leading to regret and remorse, the impact the tune had on the storyline is evident.  Sometimes, decisions made affect not only the people in our sight, but also others we fail to notice.  Both the story and song depict the ramifications of a life lived by the gun.

The Devil’s Herd was inspired by two songs, Ghost Riders in the Sky by Johnny Cash and to a lesser extent, El Paso by Marty Robbins.  Elements of this story are derived from the lyrics of both tunes.  Though I listened to the latter more often, the other had more influence on the path the story took.  The imagery created by both songs helped set the tone of a long ride across a barren landscape in brutal heat to an unknown destiny.

As you read the dusty tales in Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West, feel free to play the forementioned songs or create a playlist of your favorite cowboy tunes.  Let the music and the stories take you back in space and time to a rowdy era where vigilante justice was the law and guns ruled the land.

 

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Eerie Trailsof the Wild Weird West

In this collection of fourteen strange tales from the wild west, Cowboys and Indians face down supernatural beings of all varieties – from vampires and werewolves; to ghosts and vengeful spirits; to mythological creatures.

Saddle up cowboys and ladies alike, once the journey begins, Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West will take you down a strange and bizarre path though the old west that you’ve never been on before.

Available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil |India |

The Netherlands

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil |India |

The Netherlands

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Smashwords

CreateSpace (Print)

 

maynardblackoak

 

About the Author — Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He draws upon the sights of neglect and unusual sounds around him for inspiration. A bit of a recluse, he can often be found strolling through an old, forgotten cemetery or in the woods among the twisted black oaks and native elms under the light of the moon.

Twitter: @maynardblackoak

Facebook: Maynard Blackoak

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Armand’s Summer Clearance Event! $5 Print Books!

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I’ve just come back from back to back conventions, Scares That Care Weekend in VA and Authors After Dark in GA. Both events went well but I realized something. OK, let me back up a second and be honest… I always knew I had this problem but until the past few weeks I never realized how bad my problem was… I pack enough books for every author in the room to sell.

I lost count (and too lazy to look) but I believe I am well over 50 different print books with my name in there somewhere. No way I should be able to carry a few copies of each, yet every time I go to a con I bring 3 full crates and at least 2 full boxes with me. Insanity! 

So… I decided to do something drastic about it. Actually, my wife forced me to do something intelligent about it, especially since certain print books are out of print or have had an update, etc. 

I’m going to sell every book listed below for the earth-shattering low price of $5 each plus $4 shipping first book and $1 each additional. Sorry, only available for U.S. buyers  AND I’ll even sign them because I’m really a nice guy at heart. 

Here are the print books and the number next to each is how many are available, so get your orders in asap. I will update this page as books are sold:

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Highway To Hell (original naughty version) – 2 left

Highway To Hell 2 – 1

Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer (out of print) – 2

Dying Days 1 through 5 (original covers) – 1 of DD1, 8 of DD2, 16 of DD3, 9 of DD4 and 7 of DD5

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Dying Days: Siege of European Village – SOLD OUT

Dying Days: Siege 2 – 9

Undead Tales anthology – SOLD OUT

Undead Tales 2 anthology – 1

Dying Days: Origins – 2

Dying Days: Origins 2 – 3

Still Dying – 2

Still Dying 2 – SOLD OUT

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Zombie Writing! – 5

Creeping Death (out of print short story collection) – 5

Metal Queens: Models 2 – 6

Belford Stories (original version) – 10

Quick Bites of Flesh (out of print) – 1

Zombie Tea Party – SOLD OUT

Skeletal Remains anthology – 1

Rymfire Erotica anthology – 2

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There ya go! 24 different titles to choose from. When they’re gone they’re gone! I won’t be printing them again. Some are still available through Amazon but at the normal $9.99 – $12.99 price and those aren’t signed, either. 

How can you get your hands on these copies? Simple. Send me an email at  armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know which signed print books you’re interested in along with your PayPal address. I will send you an invoice and get your book(s) ready to ship. 

Any questions?

Armand

Armand Rosamilia on Patreon – Updated!

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I’m on Patreon. I started it not to become rich (but I won’t complain if I do) but to find another outlet for my writing and creativity. To that end I post a continuing Dying Days YA novella with a new chapter the beginning of each month. I have no idea when it will end. The fun is just writing another chapter and seeing where it goes. Hell, it might end up becoming a Dying Days YA epic novel before I’m done. That’s the fun of Patreon for me.

The other thing I like to do is post short stories many readers have not seen. Stuff sitting around collecting dust I find. And after writing for most of my life, I have quite a few. I’d have more if I hadn’t lost them on floppy disks and inside a word processor and all the other antiquated technology over the years. It allows me to share a few things with the readers who are definitely interested in what I’ve written or will be writing.

Yes, I get money for it. Mostly you donate $1 and you get to read anything I post. Simple as that. I do a weekly update with all of my writing and you get to see what I’m currently working on. You also get some cool stuff if you pledge more, too:

Pledge $1 per month

You get exclusive content like my weekly update for what I am writing as well as a new first draft chapter for my Dying Days YA novella before anyone else reads them as well as either an out of print or new short story each month or a new novel I’m working on chapter by chapter. As well I’ll be posting videos of random things I shoot like story readings, answering questions or general nonsense.

Pledge $5 per month

Besides all of the above you get a shout-out on my Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast during the month as a very cool person!

http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/arm-cast-podcast/

Pledge $10 per month

 Besides all of the other rewards you’ll receive a FREE audiobook from me of your choice! Listen to other people read the words I wrote!
Thanks in advance for all of the support!
Armand on Patreon

Reblog: Armand Rosamilia Interview for ThrillWriting

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Fiona Quinn interviews me about podcasting and books and stuff! 

http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/2016/07/podcasting-information-for-writers-with.html

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YOUR Favorite Horror Books – May 24th 2016 Edition

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This summer I’ll be doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time… I want to recognize some great books in the horror fiction field. I also want to find some new books I might’ve missed myself, so…

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http://amzn.to/20ncxLd

From the powerful imagination of a new horror master comes a bone-chilling tale set in a small town where good and evil are joined in a terrifying, deadly battle. . .

Evil Endures

Once an idyllic Pennsylvania village, Pine Deep awoke one morning to find itself bathed in a massive bloodletting. Twice in thirty years the townsfolk have endured the savage hungers of a murderous madman. . .but if the residents think the death of serial killer Karl Ruger put an end to the carnage, they’re dead wrong.

The Nightmare Never Ends

Bodies mutilated beyond description, innocents driven to acts of vicious madness. A monstrous evil is preying on the living–and the dead–and turning the quiet little town into hell on earth. Their only hope is to find the source. But the secrets that lurk in the heart of Pine Deep are twisted into its very roots. This time the townspeople aren’t just fighting for their lives, but for their very souls…

(suggested by Nina D’Arcangela)

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http://amzn.to/1Ri2Ozo

For over two decades, Detective Ray Truman has been searching for the killer or killers who have terrorized Portvale. Headless corpses, their bodies mutilated and posed, have been turning up all over the industrial district near the docks. The remains of young female prostitutes have been the killer’s victims of choice, but now other districts are reporting the gruesome discovery of decapitated bodies. It seems the killer has expanded his territory as more ‘nice girls’ feel the wrath of his terrible rage. This horrifically disturbing tale of a family tree of evil will embed itself in the mind of the reader, long after the last page has been turned. A crime thriller in the vein of other power-packed thrillers like Thomas Harris’s ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and James Ellroy’s ‘Killer on the Road.’

Meet the Cunninghams . . .
A family bound by evil and the blood they have spilled. The large lodging-house they live in and operate on Artaud Avenue reeks of death and the sins that remain trapped beneath the floorboards.

Meet Caleb Cunningham . . .
Caleb is a disturbed young man whose violent father is a suspected serial killer and mother, an insane alcoholic. After his Father’s suicide, Cunningham’s disturbing fantasy-life becomes reality as he begins his killing spree in earnest. His identical twin brother Charlie is to be released from an asylum and all hell is about to break loose when the brothers combine their psychopathic talents. Eventually stepping out from the shadows of his murderous forebears, Caleb puts in motion his own diabolical plan to reveal himself and his ‘art’ to the world. He’s a true aesthete. An artist of death. His various ‘installations’ have not received the status he feels they deserve, so Caleb is expanding his ‘canvas.’

Meet Ray Truman . . .
A tragic cop whose personal demons won’t let him rest. Overworked and underpaid, Truman is tenacious as a pit-bull. He won’t rest ‘til he’s brought to justice Portvale’s infamous serial killer. His battle with his own demons gives him the strength to chase the shadows and to cut corners when necessary, as he embarks on the hunt of his life. His search leads him to the Cunningham’s house of horrors. What he finds there will ultimately lead him to regret ever meeting Caleb Cunningham and the deviant family that spawned him. The hunter becomes the hunted as Truman digs deeper into the abyss that is the horrifying mind of the most dangerous psychopath he has ever met.

(suggested by Pheebz Jackson)

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http://amzn.to/1Ri2VLh

Tormented by grief after his four-year-old daughter is murdered, Charles hears sinister whispers as he tries to discover the truth about Naomi’s death. But long-buried secrets threaten to take Charles to a place where he could lose his very soul. Aycliffe is a pseudonym for Daniel Easterman, the bestselling author of Brotherhood of the Tomb.

(suggested by Noelle Kelly)

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http://amzn.to/1Ri3N2s

“The painting forced him to move back with such suddenness, he nearly fell over the side of the old wooden railing. It depicted a grisly scene, as if your worst nightmare had been splattered on canvas. Despite his mind screaming to look away, he could not avert his eyes” – Ancient

Keyport Cthulhu

Five stories with a Lovecraftian feel to them… set in the New Jersey fishing village of Keyport, where the Esoteric Order of Dagon has been planning for the awakening of the Deep One all these years…

ANCIENT
BARREN
CABAL
DAGON
EVIL

Includes two bonus stories, the steampunk tale “Rats In The Cellars” and “Cthulhunicorn” co-written with Katelynn Rosamilia

(suggested by Chuck Buda… and who can blame him, right?)

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Armand’s Bonus Suggestion

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http://amzn.to/1WKUQYi

Roaring south in a black Cadillac, John Smith is on the road trip from Hell through a nightmarish version of Americana, a place of rotting hollows and dusty crossroads, slaughterhouses and haunted trains. He doesn’t know how he woke up after sitting down in the electric chair, where he got the black suit with the slit up the back or even the cigarettes in his pocket. All he knows is that there is a woman guarding a great secret and he’s supposed to kill her.

(suggested by Armand Rosamilia, who said: Brilliantly written and the story will have you guessing at each page turn)

I am opening this blog up to suggestions from YOU!

I want YOU to give me one horror book suggestion you loved. It doesn’t have to be new. It doesn’t have to be a certain length or within a certain subgenre of horror (although I won’t be taking zombie or post apoc books on this website because I’ll be doing the same thing on my other site, http://DyingDaysZombie.com each week for that!) It just has to be something you liked enough to want to let the world know. Or the readers of this blog. 

You CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT suggest your own book. That is super tacky and frowned upon by management. 

I’ll be picking 3-5 each week and I’ll post it up each Tuesday on this site and the zombie/post apoc every Thursday. It’s free of charge. It’s just a way for me to not miss what is out there, too. Hopefully it will become a place where horror readers will enjoy some new suggestions, too. I’ll even let people know you proudly suggested it, too. 

Send me an email with the title/author and Amazon link to the book and I’ll do the rest. Simple as that!

armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com

Armand Rosamilia

YOUR Favorite Horror Books – May 10th 2016 Edition

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This summer I’ll be doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time… I want to recognize some great books in the horror fiction field. I also want to find some new books I might’ve missed myself, so…

UshersPassing

http://amzn.to/1rKoKOw

Two men argue in the low light of one of nineteenth-century New York’s vilest bars. One is an aristocrat, clearly slumming, while the other, in appearance no better than the gutter-trash around him, is the finest author of his age. The wealthy man is Hudson Usher, come to berate Edgar Allen Poe for using Usher’s family history as fodder for his most famous story. The house of Usher has not fallen, Hudson boasts. It will endure into the centuries.
One hundred and fifty years later, the Usher line persists. The newest heir is Rix Usher, a hack horror writer whose ailing father has just called him back to the family’s North Carolina estate. To become the new Usher patriarch, Rix must confront a Gothic mystery more twisted than anything even Poe could have imagined.
(suggested by Nina D’Arcangela)
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 AnnaDressedInBlood

http://amzn.to/1rKqxmU

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

(suggested by Loren Rhoads, who said:  I finished reading Anna Dressed in Blood last week and it was so much fun!  It’s a YA about a teenaged ghost killer who falls in love with a ghost)

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shiftingfears

http://amzn.to/21OcedO

A journey to the past … where a serial killer awaits.

Some believe time is a curve. The days behind us fall from view as we move forward, rounding the bend to discover what lies in store for us next. Nothing is gone … it’s merely back there, accessible again if we only knew how to reverse course.

Others believe that time is a straight line that is obliterated as our present is created, existing only in our memories … gone forever, never to be seen or heard from again.

Luke McCabe wishes the latter were true. He really does. He never wanted to be a serial killer. He never wanted to be The Cowboy.

Take a ride in Luke’s restored, 1958 Cadillac Sixty Special Fleetwood. Buckle in and feel the desert ground beneath your wheels. Only then will you be fully equipped with the knowledge to decide how time really unfolds.

One recommendation: The Cadillac named Adeline holds dark secrets.

Stay clear of her trunk.

(suggested by Giles Batchelor, who said: I know you know Eric for his Zombie/Apoc work but this stand alone horror tale is one of his best.  The story to me is reminiscent of some of the Stephen King books I devoured as a youngster.  It has well developed main character and an interesting twisty plot that has you on the edge of your seat towards the end)

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Hodgson considered his three novels, “The House on the Borderland”, “The Boats of the Glen-Carrig” and “The Ghost Pirates” a trilogy. They are not sequels and not related, except for their emphasis on the supernatural beings, who came, perhaps, from another dimension.
“The Ghost Pirates”, the third book of this trilogy, was one of H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite works.

(suggested by Morgan Griffith, who said: My pick would be an old one, but a book that heavily influenced my love of horror literature, although it might also be classified as dark fantasy. I choose William Hope Hodgson’s “The House on the Borderland”. The imagination and sense of adventure and dread is unique and withstands time. I have read it more than once, and it remains a favorite. This version also includes two other great tales— Boats of the Glen-Carrig and The Ghost Pirates. Hodgson also excelled with his dark tales of the sea)

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damnation gamehttp://amzn.to/1TzuFwr

Marty Strauss, a gambling addict recently released from prison, is hired to be the personal bodyguard of Joseph Whitehead, one of the wealthiest men in the world. The job proves more complicated and dangerous than he thought, however, as Marty soon gets caught up in a series of supernatural events involving Whitehead, his daughter (who is a heroin addict), and a devilish man named Mamoulian, with whom Whitehead made a Faustian bargain many years earlier, during World War II.

As time passes, Mamoulian haunts Whitehead using his supernatural powers (such as the ability to raise the dead), urging him to complete his pact with him. Eventually Whitehead decides to escape his fate after a few encounters with Mamoulian and having his wife, former bodyguard, and now his daughter Carys taken away from him. With hope still left to save Carys, Marty Strauss, although reluctant to get involved in the old man Whiteheads deserved punishment, decides to get involved and attempt to save the innocent gifted addict from being another victim to the damnation game.

(suggested by Misha Burnett)

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Armand’s Bonus Suggestion

breed

http://amzn.to/277rQNh

The quaint Florida town of St. Augustine is a magnet for tourists. But one site is off-limits even for the locals.

Built on the site of an ancient Indian village, Tolomato Cemetery has been closed for years. But now a slaughtered Wiccan priestess has been discovered on the grounds. Human remains have been found in a nearby Dumpster. And a cryptic message is haunting a woman’s sleepless nights–a warning that the doors between two worlds have been opened.

Whatever’s buried in Tolomato Cemetery is more than legend.

It’s alive.

(suggested by Armand, who said: just a phenomenal book by a phenomenal writer. A creepy, wonderful novel)

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I am opening this blog up to suggestions from YOU!

I want YOU to give me one horror book suggestion you loved. It doesn’t have to be new. It doesn’t have to be a certain length or within a certain subgenre of horror (although I won’t be taking zombie or post apoc books on this website because I’ll be doing the same thing on my other site, http://DyingDaysZombie.com each week for that!) It just has to be something you liked enough to want to let the world know. Or the readers of this blog. 

You CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT suggest your own book. That is super tacky and frowned upon by management. 

I’ll be picking 3-5 each week and I’ll post it up each Tuesday on this site and the zombie/post apoc every Thursday. It’s free of charge. It’s just a way for me to not miss what is out there, too. Hopefully it will become a place where horror readers will enjoy some new suggestions, too. I’ll even let people know you proudly suggested it, too. 

Send me an email with the title/author and Amazon link to the book and I’ll do the rest. Simple as that!

armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com

Armand Rosamilia

Your Favorite Weekly Horror Books

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This summer I’ll be doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time… I want to recognize some great books in the horror fiction field. I also want to find some new books I might’ve missed myself, so…

I am opening this blog up to suggestions from YOU!

I want YOU to give me one horror book suggestion you loved. It doesn’t have to be new. It doesn’t have to be a certain length or within a certain subgenre of horror (although I won’t be taking zombie or post apoc books on this website because I’ll be doing the same thing on my other site, http://DyingDaysZombie.com each week for that!) It just has to be something you liked enough to want to let the world know. Or the readers of this blog. 

You CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT suggest your own book. That is super tacky and frowned upon by management. 

I’ll be picking 3-5 each week and I’ll post it up each Tuesday on this site and the zombie/post apoc every Thursday. It’s free of charge. It’s just a way for me to not miss what is out there, too. Hopefully it will become a place where horror readers will enjoy some new suggestions, too. I’ll even let people know you proudly suggested it, too. 

Send me an email with the title/author and Amazon link to the book and I’ll do the rest. Simple as that!

armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com

Armand Rosamilia

HBS Author’s Spotlight on Armand Rosamilia

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Brand spankin’ new interview with me is up today! You should really read it! 

http://hbsauthorspotlight.blogspot.com/2016/05/armand-rosamilia-author-interview-at.html

US Apocalypse

New Release: United States of Apocalypse by Mark Tufo and Armand Rosamilia

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US Apocalypse

New release today. Very excited. This book took us quite a bit of time to put together but we hope it was worth it. 

When World War 3 erupts on American soil it is up to some less than likely heroes to band together and stand tall against any and all comers as a once proud nation is brought to her knees.

Cowardly terrorist attacks and indifferent Global communities have isolated America as she spirals into a desperate bid for survival.

Follow Darlene Bobich, and her group on the west coast along with Michael Talbot on the east coast as they do everything in their power to thwart those that would take everything that they and all of us are, away.

United States of Apocalypse is available on eBook and audiobook versions. Print version coming soon! 

 

Following The Living – Guest Post by Jay Wilburn #WeAreAllHaunted

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Following the Living: Telling Ghost Stories

 

We find ghost stories familiar because they have the touchstones of every type of literature. We as writers and readers are looking over characters’ shoulders as they carry on their lives. We watch from above or we enter their minds and read their thoughts. We watch the action through their eyes as we passively possess their bodies. We are the ghosts looking down on the pages from outside their world trying to get into it.

 

The ghosts in a ghost story are representatives of our position from within the pages. Sometimes they reach in deeper and influence the action. Even when they are invisible and we are watching the unexplained events with the living human characters, we get the sense of being watched and influence from outside the world of the story. When they become something that can be seen or spoken to, it is as if both sides of the world of the story have been allowed to interact in a way other literature does not get to do.

 

These interactions have meaning for us. The past informs all our choices either with pride or regret or any of a thousand other emotions. We make leaps of faith or we fail to do so out of fear. We stand by our principles or we fold up in the moment of testing. Those experiences though dead and gone in the past haunt us. They fill us with fear when the same pattern of conditions rise again for another test or another leap. Even when we went through it all before and survived, we are afraid of those ghosts when they appear in our lives again.

me with jenny

The things we know about our family and friends both good and bad linger with us even once they are out of our lives. The things we suspect or wonder about them do too. Their hidden motivations translated into actions played a part in shaping our lives and setting our paths. We might only begin to put the pieces together later during the haunting of memory to see a fuller picture of the light and darkness behind the people who were once in our lives and may still have a cold, ghostly hand on our souls in the present. No one haunts us as deeply as those that were supposed to love us whether they succeeded at it or not.

 

Armand Rosamilia and I wrote a ghost story together called The Enemy Held Near. It explored a spiritual manifestation of this family haunting in the lives of a troubled family and a strained marriage. We were attempting to tell what would be considered a traditional ghost story and haunted house story set in the modern South. We wanted it to be innately tied to the struggle of the characters experiencing the haunting. We ended up creating a story that included the hauntings of addictions, past mistakes, fear of failing as a parent, family prejudices that go back generations, and the way we hurt the very people we would have once died to protect. Because in the end we are all flawed and we are all haunted.

 

If we could see all of the picture of the generations that came before us, the darkness might be too much for us. The weight of that might be crushing to our spirits. Our heroes would be further fallen than they are now and our monsters would become uglier in the most unexpected ways. We would be tormented by seeing our own failings reflected back at us from the villains in our ancestry. We might be robbed of any hope of changing our course, if we really saw how many tried and failed in the line before us. Death and silence can be a gift when the farthest generations back step off the stage and leave the scene allowing us our brief time with the script to make our best attempt at a worthy performance.

 

This is the real horror to be found in a ghost story. Those actors dismissed from the stage step back on. The hidden darkness is revealed as the shadows take on the characteristics of life. That baggage from the past is laid at the feet of the living. The weight of the motivations of those that were supposed to love us come to bear once more in a manner that is much more threatening than mere memory or unsettled fear. It all comes back in a haunting.

 

Our ghosts in The Enemy Held Near are a manifestation of past mistakes. They reveal how regret and loss would fester if they were allowed to continue on after the release of death. The novel explores how the inability to let go can become destructive in life and after death if ghosts are in the picture. Sometimes the living and the dead are called on to make sacrifices and will suffer from a lack of forgiveness.

 

If you are looking for a great ghost story, there are a lot to choose from. We think you’ll enjoy The Enemy Held Near for the characters and for the haunting. Consider haunting our story and characters for a while.

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Reblog: We Are All Haunted by Armand Rosamilia

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I posted over at Jay Wilburn’s blog. We wrote a book together. It is good. 

http://jaywilburn.com/we-are-all-haunted-by-armand-rosamilia/

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The Enemy Held Near – Guest Post by Jay Wilburn #WeAreAllHaunted

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What Are Ghost Stories Really About?

Ghost stories are about ghosts. End of blog … Okay, there are other characters too. It’s possible to just have the ghosts floating around haunting each other, but generally the only thing that makes a ghost story interesting is going to be the living humans forced to deal with these spirits in some way. That interaction between life and death is significant to the story and as pervasive as the ghost story is to our culture, it must have significance to us as the audience and story tellers.

 

My father loved ghost stories. When I was in Boy Scouts, ghost stories around a camp fire were a staple of our camping experience. The darkness and isolation enhanced the atmosphere. There was an edge to the fear. The ratio of rationality to superstition shifts with the cycles of day and night.

 

Really good ghost stories tend to be about unfinished business. Death has a finality to it on this side of the veil. Even for those that believe in an afterlife or an eternal reward, the moment a life ceases has an impact. There were the moments before and the moments after and that cross over in the timeline changes everything for those left behind. Even the best of us will consider things that might have been done differently in the time before or things that could have or should have been said. Those of us that did not manage to live our best in the time we had with someone may feel regret and be haunted by wasted opportunities. The ghost story picks up that timeline and takes up those unfinished tasks. These stories can address relationships, lost love, or revenge. The full range of things uncompleted missions are available in these stories.

 

The conflict comes in the haunting. We may all be haunted by something whether we believe in ghosts or not. The impact of abusers can stay with a person long after they are out of our lives. The fear of those that hurt us can hang with us long after they are dead and gone. The need for forgiveness often remains even after the ones seeking it or the ones that might extend it are in the grave. These relationships haunt us and shape our lives no matter where we are in the time line of the life and death of those relationships.

 

I have written a few ghost stories. I tend toward other things in writing horror, but I revisit ghosts fairly regularly. I try to find some angle that changes the script or reorients the threat involved in the hauntings.

 

The Enemy Held Near, which I coauthored with Armand Rosamilia, is my first ghost story or haunted house story I’ve written at novel length. We had coauthored other work before including a horror humor trilogy. As we discussed the possibility of doing something more serious, we were standing behind a convention table selling our work to readers. We began to talk about what we had written before and what stories interested us now.

 

The discussion led us to the idea of a ghost story where the main characters dealing with the haunting perceive the events differently from one another. We also discussed that typically haunted house stories find some way to trap the characters in the house. Usually it begins by their own choice to stay despite the early signs of danger and then later they know they need to go, but find themselves physically trapped and fighting for their lives. We discussed the idea of our characters experiencing both options: one character stays and the other goes. Both choices have consequences and we wanted to see both in our story.

 

This led us to trying to put the meat on the bones of this skeleton of an idea. Who were these people, why did they see things differently, and why would they be led to opposite choices. We realized that we were describing a circumstance that happens in relationships all the time. This particular haunting was the framework of a break up or a troubled marriage. In the sense that we are all haunted by something, every home carries the ghosts of the pasts of all the members of that household. They all bring their baggage in with their earthly possessions. Sometimes the weight of those pasts and the choices in the present push us apart. The haunting becomes too much. Every day in homes all around us, someone stays and someone leaves.

 

The ghost story in The Enemy Held Near explores those generations of family baggage attached to a house and the people living in it. We set the story in Atlanta where I grew up and Armand and his wife visit often. It is a haunted city. It has a deep and diverse past. It has trouble in its past too. You have old wealthy neighborhoods across a highway from poor neighborhoods. The city is a patchwork of the remnants of its past. Southern families have storied histories as well with endless tales to tell.

 

We attached our haunting to the breakup of a marriage and we dove into the beginning of the story right in the heat of the coming conflict. The struggle to hold a family together while forces within and without pull the relationships apart is an all too familiar story. The escalation of our haunting mirrored the family struggle well. The inclusion of children in these struggles ups the stakes too. In The Enemy Held Near, we were able to look into the time when our characters saved and fought for each other and when they found themselves working against each other in their anger and resentment. Eventually, the good of the family requires sacrifice and demands that they find what made them fight for each other in the beginning. As with all hauntings like this, it might be too late to find that spark again in time.

 

Working together on the story, Armand and I found deeper and more interesting character dynamics and motivations than we could have conjured up alone. We traded back and forth with the narrative, moving in and out the various characters’ minds. We as the authors were the ones possessing them and moving them through the story. Some characters were haunted by both of us as they dealt with their conflicts. Others were voiced primarily by Armand or primarily by me. The living characters as well as the spirits took on personalities of their own that were completely apart from either one of us. As we blended and adjusted the story once we were finished, we were pleased and surprised at the emotion and action that had found its way into the tale.

 

We are all haunted by something. We hope we have created a ghost story in The Enemy Held Near that haunts readers because we both love and respect ghost stories so much. These characters became something special for both of us as their heartaches played out on the pages. We hope readers will root for them as much as we did. The Enemy Held Near is a ghost story that may reveal the hauntings in our own lives outside of the pages because that is what ghost stories are really about.

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Armand’s 2016 Updates – Signings, Cons And Releases

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2016 was supposed to be a slower year for me with book signings, conventions and leaving the house… so far it looks like another busy year is upon me.

After a nice and relaxing opening 6 weeks I’ve started to pack everything in…

Friday February 12th

Book signing for Dirty Deeds with author Wayne Stinnett at Golden Lion Cafe in Flagler Beach, Florida

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Saturday March 19th

Mandarin MiniCon 3

From 11am-5pm I’ll be a vendor outside of Mythical Mountain in Mandarin FL selling some books, hanging with other cool vendors and seeing some excellent cosplay, too!

Tuesday March 22nd 

Release Day for the haunted house novel The Enemy Held Near, co-written with Jay Wilburn and released by Devil Dog Press

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Thursday April 7th – Monday April 11th

The Novel Experience Event (TNEE) convention in Atlanta, GA

I’ll be there with the newest releases as well as a huge back stock of books. Sharing a table with author Jay Wilburn, so you know it will be wild.

Tuesday April 5th

Release Day for the contemporary fiction novel Belford Stories, featuring photography from Tammy J. Kelly

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Friday April 15th

Belford Stories book signing with me and photographer Tammy J. Kelly at Belford Brewing Company

Will feel great to be back home after more than 12 years away! Details

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Saturday May 7th

Free Comic Book Day book signing at Nerdz Comics And More

Flagler Beach FL

Tuesday May 31st

Release Day for Dying Days 6

Friday July 22nd – Sunday July 24th

Scares That Care Weekend convention in Williamsburg VA

My favorite convention, looking forward to it. Will be sharing table space with Jay Wilburn, Mark Tufo and Devil Dog Press. There will also be a special taping of Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast with co-hosts Armand and Mark wearing kilts and joined by Joe Ripple and Brian Keene (also in kilts)

? October

Spooky Empire convention in Orlando FL

I will return to hang with cool authors, be on jam-packed panels and check out the celebrity guests! More information like set date as it gets closer

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That’s just the start of everything coming up in 2016. Look for many more releases and appearances!

Armand Rosamilia

Flagler Beach Fiction Series on Audiobook

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All seven books in the Flagler Beach Fiction Series are now available on audiobook and all narrated by the great Jack de Golia. 

Flagler Beach Fiction Series

Check them out in order:

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Kokomo’s Cafe Complete

Golden Lion Cafe Complete

J and J Fitness Complete

Flagler Fish Company Complete

Nerdz Comics And More Complete

Change Jar Books Complete

Bahama Mama’s Complete

Guest Post: Stacy Green

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Title: Shots Fired
Author: Stacy Green
Series: Delta Detectives 
Release date: January 18
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
 
Cage Foster is finishing up a long shift as a criminal investigator for the Adams County, Mississippi’s Sheriff department. He’s eager to go home to his fiancé and new baby when a report of shots fired at a friend’s historical antebellum home changes everything.
When Cage arrives at Magnolia House, he discovers a victim on the front lawn and realizes his friends are still trapped inside. A domestic dispute between two guests has gone horribly wrong, and the hostage negotiation team won’t arrive before the situation explodes.
With time running out, Cage must sneak into the house through the long forgotten tunnel once used to shuttle slaves back and forth. Once inside, his only hope is a surprise attack, but the old house has tricks of its own. 
Will Cage be able to save his friends, or will he become yet another victim of a furious husband hellbent on punishment?
 
**The Shots Fired novella was originally a part of the Protect and Serve anthology.  The Re-release of this book includes new added scenes. ** 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Stacy Green is the author of the Lucy Kendall thriller series and the Delta Crossroads mystery trilogy. ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) was runner-up for best mystery/thriller at the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies. Stacy loves to hear from readers! Visit her website at stacygreenauthor.com, or Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StacyGreenAuthor
 
 
 
Stacy Green, Award Winning and Best Selling Mystery and Suspense Author
 
2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medalist for Best Mystery/Thriller (Ebook)
 

 

Armand’s 2015 Year In Review

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2015 was another solid year for me when it came to releases. While the amount of new product slowed, the same amount of words was released in my estimation. My goal each year is to hit 400,000 words written and except for a couple of short stories currently awaiting publication, everything else was released via self publishing or through a small press in 2015.

I had 30 releases, which was less than the 45 a year average I’ve done the last two years. I also went through my works and eliminated all of the serialized stories that made it into complete collections as well as redundant releases I did myself.

Box sets were still a big deal for me in 2015. A lot of my secondary sales through them as well as key Amazon ranking came because of the box sets and I hope to continue to be involved in a few more in the future.

OK, time for the breakdown by month for me and 2015…

 

January

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Ultimate Undead Collection: The Zombie Apocalypse Best Sellers Boxed Set (10 Books)

The last day in January Dying Days was published in this box set along with notables Joe McKinney, Bobby Adair, TW Piperbrook, Michaelbrent Collings, Sarah Lyons Fleming, Shawn Chesser, Rachel Aukes, David Moody, Timothy W Long and Eric A Shelman. The best part? it’s still only 99 cents!

February

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State of Horror: North Carolina

February 8th I was in another State of Horror anthology (you already know my initial involvement in the franchise, so I won’t digress) which featured some really cool stories by  Nathanael Gass, Frank Larnerd, Randal Keith Jackson, Kathryn M. Hearst, Spencer Carvalho, Kenneth W. Cain, Frank J. Edler, Stuart Conover/Kerry Lipp, Susan Hicks Wong, Matt Andrew, L.J. Heydorn andMargaret L. Colton

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State of Horror: Illinois

The audiobook for State of Horror: Illinois came out on February 20th (narrated by the wonderful Jack Wallen)

March

Dying Days: Origins by Armand Rosamilia

Dying Days: Origins

The audiobook for Dying Days: Origins came out on March 3rd, narrated by Jack Wallen. Obviously I enjoy working with Jack on these audiobooks.

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Change Jar Books Complete

March 13th the audiobook version of this came out, narrated by Jack Di Golia, who did the entire seven book run for me. I couldn’t be happier working with him, either.

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Hollywood Hellmouth

Also on the 13th, the first part of a trilogy came out, a horror humor tale written with Jack Wallen, Jay Wilburn and Brent Abell. This was fun to write. We debuted this at Mid South Con in Memphis to rousing success. Fine, we sold 5 copies.

State of Horror: Louisiana Volume I available March 17th, 2015

State of Horror: Louisiana I

March 16th State of Horror: Louisiana I debuted, with more great stories, this time from Chad McKee, Pamela Troy, Tommy B. Smith, Amanda Hard, Allie Marini Batts, Sarah Glenn, Armand Rosamilia, Ethan Nahte, J. Jay Waller, Alexander S. Brown, Henry P. Gravelle, Jay Seate, and Margaret L. Colton.

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State of Horror: Louisiana II

March 30th saw the second part of LA being released, this time with stories by Stuart Conover, Herika R. Raymer, Teresa Bergen, J. Lamm, Nathan Pettigrew, Armand Rosamilia, Ambrose Stolliker, B.A. Sans, Edward Moore, Anthony Watson, Jonathan S. Pembroke, J.M. Lawrence, and Melodie Romeo.

April

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Fairly Wicked Tales: Dark Fantasy Anthology

April 19th Fairly Wicked Tales: Dark Fantasy Anthology was re-released and featured one of my short stories, “The Wolf Who Cried Boy.” Over 20 great stories are in this one, so buy it. Now.

May

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Anything but Zombies: A Short Story Anthology

On the 26th of May my short story “Down In A Hole” was featured in this Simon and Schuster release. Tim Curran, Jeff Strand, Rebecca Besser, MontiLee Stormer, Lee Moan, Tonia Brown, Jake Bible, Faye McCray, and Jimmy Pudge were all involved as well. Get it.

June

Tales of Magic

Tales of Magic and Misery: A Collection of Short Stories by Tim Marquitz

Tim put 19 of his stories together in this fine collection, and had other authors (such as myself) give him one of our stories to promote. He’s a swell guy. This came out June 6th. I had “Dying Days: Noah Stern” short in there.

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State of Horror: New Jersey

This audiobook came out on the 10th. Narrated once again by Jack Wallen and once again featuring a Dying Days short from me in it.

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Dying Days 5

June 16th Dying Days 5 was released. Putting this together I realize its my first self published full release for the year, as everything else was an anthology or audiobook previously out. I’d been writing up a storm up to this point in the year but most of it would be released later (as you’ll see) or written for the movie team and those books sometimes come out months in the future. Anyhoo… this is part 5 and it was released right in the midst of my annual #SummerofZombie blog tour.

July

This month saw the two year anniversary of Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast as well as the debut of Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast, co-hosted by Mark Tufo. Both on Project iRadio.

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Hoboken Hellmouth

The second book in our trilogy was released on the 21st. Another fun time was had by all: me, Brent Abell, Jay Wilburn and Jack Wallen.

August

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Bite-Sized Offerings: Tales & Legends of the Zombie Apocalypse

This was a really cool charity anthology to help a friend in need who is such a big supporter of zombie authors. Over 30 authors contributed a YA zombie story, including my first-ever, a Dying Days story featuring the children of the family. It will definitely lead into my first-ever Dying Days YA novella in late 2016, too.

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Highway To Hell

This is the updated version. I changed the crazy sex parts and over the top violence and made it more in line with the rest of the Dying Days books. So far people have enjoyed the less intense version, although it still isn’t for the kids. I’d give it a solid R rating instead of the NC17 it used to be.

September

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Children of The Grave

September 4th this cool anthology came out. It’s a shared world anthology and written by Joe McKinney, Armand Rosamilia, Tonia Brown, Joe Mynhardt, Aurelio Lopez III, and Alex Laybourne. You don’t get any cooler than that group. Am I right?

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Honolulu Hellmouth

On the 8th, right in time for the Imaginarium convention on Kentucky, we released the third and final part. Single digits of people flocked to our signing tables, creating such a noise the car alarms went off in the parking lot.

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Dying Days 4

On the 17th Dying Days 4 audiobook (narrated once again by Amanda Lehman) was released.

The Louisiana Incident: Former Navy SEALs Vs Zombies

I wrote this novella based on a movie that was filmed but some people weren’t happy with it. So (because it is Hollywood and beyond me) I was listed as editor, the cover is just words and it has distanced itself from the movie by changing the title. The book is much better than the movie, by the way. Much.

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Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol 1

October 14th saw this extensive collection released. Nonfiction essays and interviews by film legends and authors such as Wes Craven, George A. Romero, Ray Bradbury, Ed Naha, Patrick Lussier, Stephen Volk, Nancy Holder, Tom Holland, John Shirley, William Stout, and John Russo. For some crazy reason they thought I had something to say on the subject, too.

Chelsea Avenue

Chelsea Avenue: A Supernatural Thriller

On the 30th Devil Dog Press re-released this book, one of my favorites and my first real full-length novel. Look for longer books from me in 2016, and most of them more thriller and less horror as I change things up a bit. This book is one of my favorites I’ve ever written, and you need to read it and tell me I’m right or wrong. As long as you read it.

October

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Paying The Ferryman

On the 18th this anthology was released. My short story, “Black Tooth Grin,” joined  Melodie Romeo, Rick Scabrous, Silas Green, D. S. Ullery, Brian W. Taylor, Diane Arrelle, Bryan Best, Tanya Nehmelman, Mariesa Inez, Rachel Hogan, S. H. Roddey, Jenner Michaud, Scott McCloskey, Heidi Lane, Brian Fatah Steele, Eric I. Dean, Herika R. Raymer, Lee Pletzers, and Jerry E. Benns writing fun stories about death.

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Bahama Mama’s Complete

The seventh and final release in the contemporary fiction Flagler Beach Fiction Series was out on the 20th. The audiobook followed in November, too, once again narrated by the great Jack Di Golia. This wraps up the series although I have a feeling we’ll see some of these characters again in the future.

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Middletown Apocalypse

Halloween saw the release of this cool anthology, where eleven authors took the kernel of the same basic story and made it our own. Hi-jinx ensued. Abel, Chesser, Evans, McKinney, O’Brien, Rosamilia, Shelman, Stallcup, Tufo, Wallen, Wilburn. So cool you don’t need first names.

November

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Highway To Hell 2

November 3rd, at the basic start of my annual #WinterofZombie tour I always release a new Dying Days book. I still technically did, and it nicely combines characters from the first Highway To Hell as well as Dying Days: Origins.

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Dying Days Ultimate Box Set 1

Four novellas set in the Dying Days world are included in this massive box set: Still Dying: Select Scenes From Dying Days, Still Dying 2, Dying Days: The Siege of European Village and Dying Days: Siege 2
Plus… the two-story Dying Shortly set (now out of print except here) and 2 short stories previously only available on a website: “Dying Days: Downtown From Hell” and “Dying Days: The Scorpion”… Over 500 pages and more than 174,000 words in all! This special box set will only be available for a limited time at a special price of $9.99 but right now its only $3.49, so get a copy. Look for the second one in early 2016, too.

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Hellmouth Trilogy

November 23rd I released all three of these glorious books Jack, Brent and Jay and I had written in a convenient box set. Now you have no excuse not to read them. And its priced right now for only $3.49, so you really have no excuse at all.

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Flagler Beach Fiction Series Complete

I told you I liked box sets this year. On the 30th I put all 7 of the Flagler Beach Fiction Series books together in one massive 190,000+ word ebook collection and priced it at only $3.99. You’re welcome.

December

GreenRiverBlend

Green River Blend: A Supernatural Thriller

My last release of 2015 and one of my favorite stories. I liken it to a Bentley Little weird tale and so far readers have agreed. A little different from my traditional horror work, which I will be getting slightly away from in 2016. I’ll still have many horror releases and more Dying Days but this book (as well as Chelsea Avenue, both released by Devil Dog Press) will further expand what I’m doing.

Also look for my Kindle Scout-winning Dirty Deeds crime thriller in early 2016, too! Mark Tufo and I wrote an apocalyptic tale together (no zombies!) featuring Darlene Bobich and Mike Talbot. Look for that in 2016 as well… big things on the horizon for me in 2016.

Armand

Guest Post: John Mc Caffrey

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The Mechanics of My Writing Style

John Mc Caffrey

As far as I know, writing style isn’t taught in school. I’ve read of the various writing styles some writers utilize, but that was after I had already come up with my own. Mine seems to be a loosely based form of organized confusion. Typically, I get an idea and jot it down on a small notepad I carry with me. Later, I’ll transfer it to a spiral notebook and elaborate for a page or two and then leave it for anywhere from a week to as long as a year. The initial concept however, is never far from my thoughts, and I will pull out the spiral notebook jotting down more ideas. Some of these concepts never get written, but for the ones that do, I’ll sit at the computer and begin an outline. I try to break the outline up into scenes, much like a movie, and when I feel I have a good outline, I’ll once again, leave it for a while, working on something else. It’s only after I’ve separated myself from the initial idea that I will start writing in earnest. I don’t have a time frame, or some type of internal deadline I force upon myself. If the story isn’t working for whatever reason, I allow it to sit. I have one piece that I have been working on for seven years that I can neither walk completely away from, or approach it the way I want to. But when everything comes together, I’ll take the story to completion. This is what becomes my first draft.

Depending on the length of my first draft, I either start right away with the initial editing or wait for a few weeks. I’ll go through a manuscript numerous times, always finding something that needs to be changed, revised, or deleted. When I’m satisfied with what I have, (and I’m never truly satisfied—even after things are in print, I see what I could have done differently), I load it up on a Kindle and leave it with my wife, Karen, for proofreading.

She is amazing. She proofreads and edits what I was absolutely positive was an almost flawless piece of work and finds everything from punctuation mistakes to problems with syntax and continuity. I go back to the computer and once again revise, upload it to her Kindle, and only when I receive her thumbs up, do I consider it finished. Her support and continued eye for detail has been instrumental in the development of my writing. If not for her, it’s unlikely Nora’s Wish would have ever been published. After writing it, I was certain that it was too far outside my usual genre, and was uncertain there was a market for it. I loved the story, but it went into a folder where it sat for a few months. It was her continual urging, and in the end, outright demands that it needed to be published that I finally submitted it to the fine folks at Sirens Call Publications.

Nora’s Wish began with a conversation I had with my father, about how he wished he was able to change certain decisions he’d made when he was younger. That, and the thought that there are probably many elderly people who shared the same sentiment, and how awesome it would be if they all could magically have that ability, was the beginning of the story. The character of Ben emerged almost immediately, Nora soon after. It was their friendship, and shared forgotten isolation in Willow Manor that became the nucleus of exploring the possibility of changing their destinies. My father passed away before he could see how his simple comments to me grew into the published book, but I’m sure he would approve.

 

Nora’s Wish

John Mc Caffrey

 

Ben Jameson is a bitter retiree residing at Willow Manor, a home for the aged or those in need of care, and has nothing more to do than await the inevitable conclusion of a life wasted. Forgotten by his family, his days are marked by the solitary existence of books, loneliness, and regret.

A chance meeting with a terminally ill resident named Nora, and her unshakeable optimism in the face of her eventual demise, rekindles emotions he was certain were gone forever. Nora reawakens his ability to love, and with her compassion and her companionship, he comes to realize that even a life as wasted as his own can be salvaged and, given the right incentive, is still worth living.

As Nora’s health declines, they both dare to hope that the magic of a strange pendant Ben purchased from an antique shop as a gift for Nora will overcome the odds, offering them more time with one another.

 

Nora’s Wish is available on:

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

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil| India

Barnes & Noble (Print & eBook)

Kobo

iTunes

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — John Mc Caffrey writes tales of horror, the supernatural, science fiction, and fantasy. He was born in Illinois and grew up on the south side of Chicago. While still in grade school, he developed a passion for reading through the works of Tolkien, Poe, and Lovecraft as well as being addicted to watching Hammer Film’s at the local Saturday matinee. Today he lives in Northern Indiana with his wife where he writes in his spare time.

Guest Post: Mark Allan Gunnells

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Flowers in a Dumpster

THE BOY WHO KILLED SANTA CLAUS

 

Seven year old Henry Childers crawled reluctantly under the covers of his bed. “But, Mom,” he whined, “I’m not sleepy. Can’t I stay up a few more hours?”

“It’s almost ten already,” his mother Tonya said with an indulgent smile. “If you don’t get to sleep, Santa won’t stop here tonight.”

“Do you think Santa got my letter this year?” Henry asked, sitting up against the headboard.

“I’m sure he did, honey.”

“’Cause I don’t want it to be like last year.”

Tonya sighed heavily and rubbed at her temples. She’d been hearing this same tirade from her son for an entire year now. “Henry, there was nothing wrong with what you got from Santa last year.”

“I asked for an XBox, and he gave me a Playstation. It’s not the same.”

“As I’ve told you a hundred times, maybe Santa was all out of XBoxes,” Tonya said, pulling the covers up to just under Henry’s chin. She and her husband had gone to every store in the city looking for an XBox last year, but they’d all been sold out. It had been a Playstation or nothing, but still it hadn’t satisfied Henry.

“I mailed my letter in October last year,” Henry said. “That gave him plenty of time to have his elves whip me up an XBox.”

“Henry,” Tonya said, a little more sharply than she’d intended, “you’re being awfully ungrateful. There are children in the world who have nothing. If you don’t start being more appreciative, Santa may decide to just skip our house altogether.”

“Okay,” Henry said, his lower lip poked out like a shelf. “I’m sorry.”

“Just get to sleep,” Tonya said, leaning over and kissing her son on the forehead. “When you wake up in the morning, you just might find that bike you’ve been wanting waiting under the tree.”

“You think Santa will like the cookies and milk we left for him?” Henry asked.

“I’m sure he’ll think they’re delicious. I’ll see you in the morning, sweetie.”

Tonya turned off the light, the small nightlight plugged into the electrical socket by the closet throwing a muted yellow glow throughout the room. She eased the door closed, leaving Henry to dream of Christmas morning.

* * *

“Do you think it’s safe to start?” Jonas Childers asked his wife. They were sitting in the living room, watching a SciFi channel marathon of the Silent Night Deadly Night films.

Tonya glanced at the clock, saw that it was just past one o’clock in the morning. “He should be sound asleep by now,” she said. “I think we can get started.”

“Good,” Jonas said. “It’ll probably take me ‘til dawn to get that bike put together.”

They went up to the attic, careful to avoid all the squeakiest boards, and brought down all of Henry’s presents. Tonya began arranging all the smaller gifts around the tree while Jonas unfolded the instructions for the bike and began assembling it.

“Shit,” Jonas cursed under his breath, trying to fit together two pieces that simply refused to fit together. “As much trouble as this is, Henry better like this damn bike.”

Tonya knelt next to her husband, took the uncooperative pieces and easily snapped them together. “Are you kidding? He’ll absolutely love it.”

“He better. I don’t want to have to go through another year hearing him bitch and moan like he did about that damn Playstation.”

“It did get a bit tiresome,” Tonya said with a giggle. “But Henry just wants what he wants, and he won’t settle for anything else.”

“Like mother, like son.”

Tonya swatted her husband on the arm. “That’s not true. I settled for you, after all.”

“Very funny,” Jonas said. “How about you settle for passing me those cookies.”

Tonya had baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, half of which her family had eaten, the other half of which had been placed on a plate for Santa. She took the plate and handed it to her husband, who immediately scarfed down two of the cookies.

“Careful,” Tonya said, reading over the instructions. “You keep that up, you’ll soon be fat as Santa.”

“This isn’t for me,” Jonas said around a mouthful of cookie, spewing crumbs like a fine mist. “It’s for Henry. Think how disappointed he’d be if he woke up and saw that Santa hadn’t eaten the cookies he left for him.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Tonya said with a smile.

“Hand me the milk, please.”

They did not leave out a glass of milk for Santa since that would curdle, but they placed it in a thermos to keep it cold. Tonya passed the thermos to her husband.

Jonas popped the top of the thermos and gulped down several swallows of the milk. Suddenly he retched, spitting milk into the air like a geyser, the thermos dropping from his hand and leaking its contents onto the carpet. Jonas clutched at his throat, making strangled gagging noises as milk and blood dribbled down his chin.

Tonya screamed and grabbed her husband as he collapsed onto her lap. His body was jerking with violent spasms, his eyes rolled up to the whites. He coughed violently, and more frothy blood sprayed Tonya’s arms, and she thought there were chunks of tissue mixed with it.

“Oh God, Jonas,” she screamed, crying. “What’s wrong? What should I do?”

“What’s going on?” Henry said, stepping into the room wearing his pajamas, rubbing the sleep dust from his eyes. “I heard screaming.”

“Henry, get the phone and call 911,” Tonya yelled frantically. “Something is wrong with your father; he needs an ambulance right away.”

“What is it?” Henry asked, wide-eyed, stepping further into the room.

“Henry, call 911 NOW!”

Henry started to turn toward the phone, but then he spotted the spilled thermos of milk and froze. “Did Dad drink the milk?” he asked, snatching up the thermos and waving it at his mother.

“What?” Tonya said, feeling her husband’s spasms tapering off, afraid to contemplate what that might mean.  “Your father needs help.”

“Did Dad drink the milk?” Henry said again, his old stubborn self. “This milk was for Santa Claus, not for Dad.”

“Henry!” Tonya screamed, desperate tears of frustration and helplessness streaking her face. “This isn’t the time—”

“THIS MILK WAS FOR SANTA CLAUS, NOT FOR DAD!” Henry roared, throwing the thermos across the room.

A numbness began to spread throughout Tonya’s body, starting in her chest and reaching out through her limbs. Comprehension came slowly, and it made her feel cold inside. Cold and empty.

“What did you do?” she croaked, her voice raw and raspy. “Henry, what did you do to the milk?”

“I poured Drain-O in it,” he said matter-of-factly, as if stating that he’d brushed his teeth.

Tonya was on her feet in an instant, the still form of her husband stretched out on the floor. She grabbed Henry by the shoulders and shook him, shook him hard. “Why would you do such a thing?” she shouted into his face. “Why in the name of God would you do such a thing?”

“I wanted an XBox!” Henry shouted back, wrenching out of his mother’s grasp. “Not a Playstation, an XBox, and Santa knew that. He knew that, and he gave me the wrong thing anyway. I wanted to teach him a lesson, make him pay for giving me the wrong gift last year.”

Tonya stumbled back, hands to her mouth, and watched as her son turned and ran back to his room, slamming the door behind him. She snatched up the phone and quickly dialed 911 while Santa chopped up a topless teenager on the television behind her.

© Mark Allan Gunnells

5/26/06

If you enjoyed Mark’s story, be sure to grab a paperback or Kindle copy (available in Kindle Unlimited, as well) of his Flowers in a Dumpster short story collection – out now from Crystal Lake Publishing:

With the link to Crystal Lake, as well, please: www.crystallakepub.com

Guest Post: Richard Schiver

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All Roads Lead to Terror (synopsis)

 

The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Four boys strengthen the bonds of their friendship, while taking their first hesitant steps into adulthood, as they face the brutality of an old, new world. They will be tested at every step in their journey, as they travel through a blasted land where the only hope is for a swift death followed by an endless sleep. Survival lay in the firepower they carried, coupled with their willingness to use it, and their ability to trust each other with their own lives.

The world had become a wild place filled with wild things, and into this new reality each of them had been born. Coming of age at the end of days, where savagery was the norm, and man’s inhumanity to man was on daily display. Where the only law was the firepower one carried and the only hope was for a swift death followed by an endless sleep.

Meat was born at the height of the Zombie apocalypse, upon his birth his mother took one look at him and pronounced him meat. He grew up in a reality where they were all nothing more than walking bags of meat, so in his mind the name fit perfectly.

Window, his best friend, is very quiet, and ever watchful with a quick hand. To him friendship was the most important thing in the world. His family had perished in the ruthless times after the awakening and his temperament had been forged in the fire that took them from him. His friends were all he had left so he watched over them with a jealously protective nature strengthened by that sense of invulnerability all boys his age embraced. Further backed up by a quick hand with the .44 he’d used to kill the men who had raped his mother.

The remaining members of this quartet are Einstein who had been born within the compound at Bremo Bluff after the apocalypse. Having spent his life behind the fence he had no first hand knowledge of how brutal the world has become. As his name implies he’s the smartest in the group, as well the most innocent. While that innocence helps to soften the ruthlessness of the other three, it will serve to drive a wedge into their friendship. On this trip he will discover just how terrifying the world beyond the fence has become.

The final member is Billie-Bob, one half of a set of twins who appeared outside the fence several years earlier. Your typical class clown whose mouth runs a mile a minute, if he isn’t sharing overused jokes about Zombies, he’s whispering the passages from a book his mother used to read to him when he was younger, a chant that provides him with a degree of comfort. Billie-Bob is unique in that at the tender age of eleven he has proven himself to be a natural born sniper with a willingness to use his special talent to protect his friends.

The trail they follow leads them East, into the Dreadlands, a mysterious land from which those who dared to venture in the past, never returned. For there are places where the fabric of reality is at its thinnest. Where nightmare creatures roam the shadowy corners of a well lit world. Having existed at the edge of man consciousness since the dawn of time, an indistinct blur briefly glimpsed in our peripheral vision. Their presence felt on a primitive emotional level that reached our consciousness as a faint whisper in the night. Their touch the soft caress of chilled fingers dancing along the spine like the half remembered terrors lurking within the childhood memories of every person who had ever feared the night.

In Richmond they will be confronted by a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. A creature that until the apocalypse had existed in the shadowy corners of a well lit world A beast of nightmares that feasted upon the fear of its victims, delving into their innermost secrets, revealing half forgotten terrors that lay like a rotting carcass at the heart of their souls. For these creatures, that were once considered nightmare imaginings, are now awake in a world where the population has been reduced.

Awake and very, very, hungry.

 

Buy Links:

 

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016MLXM32

Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B016MLXM32

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-roads-lead-to-terror-richard-schiver/1123014703?ean=2940152477603

Itunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/all-roads-lead-to-terror/id1061157501?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/all-roads-lead-to-terror

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593434

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Richard was born in Frostburg, Maryland, in the winter of ’58’ and currently lives eight miles away. A five-year stint with the military allowed him to see what he wanted of the world. Married with four grown children and eight grandchildren, he and his wife provide a home to four pets that are spoiled beyond rotten.

In addition to writing daily he works a full time job in retail, and piddles around in his wood-shop making one mess after another when time permits.

Richard can be found online at:

Facebook: http://www.facebook/RichardSchiver

Follow Richard on Twitter: @RichardSchiver

Written in Blood is Richard’s personal blog where he shares his thoughts on writing, and whatever else might strike his fancy. http://www.richardschiver.com

He can be contacted directly at rschiver@gmail.com and would be delighted to hear from you.

Sign up to be notified of publishing updates and new releases as they become available. He promises to never share your contact info, nor will he swamp your inbox with unnecessary crap. He’ll also toss in a free copy of White Walker when you sign up.

http://www.eepurl.com/2bYSf

 

 

 

Guest Post: T. Eric Bakutis

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Writing The Sequel: Demonkin

 

“How could the same [stuff] happen to the same guy twice?”

Somewhere during Die Hard 2, scrappy underdog John McClane delivers the (censored) line above as a wink to the audience. Yes, he says, we know this is the same story, but we hope you’ll like it anyway. That’s one method of writing a sequel. As much as I enjoyed Die Hard 2, I decided to go a different way.

When it came time to start Demonkin, the sequel to my first book, Glyphbinder, I wasn’t sure where I wanted it to go. My first book tells a complete story, and I debated how I wanted to develop a follow up. Characters must return and stakes must be raised, but how best to go about doing that?

Die Hard 2 knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s a decent action movie that takes the scenario from Die Hard, changes the location (an airport instead of a skyscraper) and raises the stakes. Rather than a single building of hostages, we have multiple airplanes full of them. It’s a fun movie, but it plays out just like the first Die Hard. Our scrappy hero wins, the bad guys lose, and McClane reunites with his gutsy wife.

As I went back over sequels to movies I’d enjoyed, I kept coming back to the same sequel over and over: The Empire Strikes Back. In my opinion, it’s a perfect follow up to Star Wars, building on the first movie while taking the series and characters in a completely new direction. ESB does everything I want in a sequel, so as an author, I decided to dissect what it was about ESB that I liked so much.

ESB expands the universe, changes the characters in permanent ways, and reveals the cost of earlier mistakes. ESB’s ending is bittersweet at best and sets up a third movie where I know many pieces will collide in a final battle — and I’m okay with that, because ESB understands what it is. It’s the second act of a three act play, rising conflict that sets up the climax of a trilogy. A complete story, if a brutal one.

ESB also refocuses on underdeveloped characters from the first movie. In Star Wars, Luke is the hero and the story revolves around him. Han and Leia support Luke and don’t change very much. In ESB, we go another way. Han and Leia have significant character arcs and while Luke’s still in the movie, he’s off learning from a Muppet in a swamp. Luke had his story. Focusing on Han and Leia kept me hooked.

ESB also doesn’t limit itself to the same cast. It’s not afraid to introduce new characters (like Lando and Yoda) who have roles equal to the original cast. Rather than raising the stakes by rehashing the first movie (what if the Empire fielded multiple Death Stars?) ESB raises the stakes by flipping the script.

The Rebellion fights the Empire (like at Yavin) but at Hoth, the Empire wins. Risky decisions that went fine in the first movie (like Han’s decision not to pay off Jabba so he could help Luke) become huge problems. Our heroes unite to rescue Han (like they rescued Princess Leia from the Death Star) but this time, our heroes fail. Luke arrives at Cloud City to save everyone (just like he blew up the Death Star) and this time, Vader defeats him. We see our heroes savaged and forever changed.

ESB ends with one hero captive and all the others battered by huge losses and costly victories. They’re safe, for the moment, but facing even bigger challenges. It’s because ESB resolves most but not all of its threads that it works as a middle movie. It’s a soft cliffhanger. The bad guys landed some big hits, and now our battered heroes must fight even harder to recover. I’m hungry to see them redeem themselves and finally defeat the Empire, which is right where I want to be after the second volume of any trilogy.

Once I figured all that out, I was ready to write my second book. If Glyphbinder was my Star Wars, then Demonkin is my Empire Strikes Back. It’s a complete story, just like my first book, but new characters take the lead, heroes fall, survivors are traumatized, and bad guys strike mortal blows. I tried to write an exciting yet brutal story that I hope satisfies readers of my first book and gets them excited for my third.

If you enjoy darker stories where the heroes might not always win, I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

 

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Eric Bakutis is an author and professional videogame designer based in Maryland. The staff of Balticon selected his debut adventure fantasy novel, Glyphbinder, as one of eight finalists for the 2014 Compton Crook Award. Glyphbinder has since received positive reviews from Kirkus and other review sites.

Eric’s dark fantasy short story, Hunted, recently won second place in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s 2015 short story contest. Eric’s short fiction has also appeared in various markets and anthologies including Fairly Wicked Tales (from Ragnarok Publications) Superhero Monster Hunter (from Emby Press) and The Ways of Magic (from Deepwood Publishing).

You can read the first five chapters of Glyphbinder for free at Eric’s WordPress site, Tales of the Five Provinces, along with sample chapters of Demonkin (so long as you don’t mind spoilers). Glyphbinder is now available on Amazon Kindle (and compatible platforms) for $0.99, and Demonkin will be available on December 18, 2015. For the latest news, including pre-orders, please check out Eric’s Twitter feed.

Guest Post: Thomas S Flowers

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From Combat Veteran to Horror Writer

By: Thomas S. Flowers

Before we start, there’s a quote from Michael Herr in his book, Dispatches that I’d like to share. It’s a long quote, so bear with me. Herr says, “I keep thinking about all the kids who got wiped out by seventeen years of war movies before coming to Vietnam to get wiped out for good. You don’t know what a media freak is until you’ve seen the way a few of those grunts would run around during a fight when they knew that there was a television crew nearby; they were actually making war movies in their heads, doing little guts-and-glory Leatherneck tap dances under fire, getting their pimples shot off for the networks. They were insane, but the war hadn’t done that to them. Most combat troops stopped thinking of the war as an adventure after their first few firefights, but there were always the ones who couldn’t let that go, these few who were up there doing numbers for the cameras… We’d all seen too many movies, stayed too long in Television City, years of media glut had made certain connections difficult” (Dispatches, 1977). My reasoning for sharing this quote from Herr is because, in more ways than one, it seems to sum up my feelings regarding my own experience in the Iraq War, OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom), and writing/living with those memories today. Allow me to explain.

 

There seems to be a surge of “war stories” finding their way into the media nowadays. I’m in no way saying this is a bad thing; I wish there were more veteran writers. However, I have to be somewhat suspicious when I see books marketed as “another action-packed heroic tale of contemporary military service.” Such as from a Navy Seal’s perspective or some high ranked officer sharing their “retelling” of command with low fidelity storytelling. I’m not trying to be quip here, nor am I trying to call out any one individual. What I am trying to call out is similar to what Herr stated in the quote shared above. There seems to be this carnivorous appetite for war stories, but not war as it really is, rather war from a heroic narrative, or worse, war where soldiers are nothing more than pawns in a Mad Hatter’s political chess game. I feel these kinds of stories are for people who do not have a genuine interest in the reality of war from the perspective of, say, Joe-Shmoe from Littlerock, Arkansas. These kinds of stories are for people who want to be entertained, not enlighten to the cruel banality of combat.

 

For a long time, I didn’t write much about anything. A few poems, here and there, but nothing I was willing to share with anyone, under any circumstance. Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

 

I signed up for the U.S. Army in Sept 2001 and was honorably discharged in February 2008. Roughly seven years of service, including three tours in Iraq, 2003-2004, 2004-2005, and finally 2006-2007. The last tour was probably the hardest, not only was my deployment extended for the great 2007 Iraq War troop surge (Operation Arrowhead, I think), but we took more hits than in any of my previous two tours, and on top of that, I had someone other than my parents waiting for me at home. My wife and I had just met a few months before I deployed. She stayed with me the entire deployment. We wrote dozens of letters to each other, we chatted on the phone and on the internet, if either were available. She supported me, on and off the field. Being away from her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For the first time I couldn’t imagine myself dying and not being afraid. Not just for the circumstance (bodily suffering) but for the recompense of leaving her behind (emotional suffering). I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to be robbed of this imagined life we could’ve had together. I didn’t want to lose that. And I didn’t want her to suffer for my loss.

 

In 2008, after being hounded by family to get into college, I finally agreed. I’m glad I did. Slowly, through the course from 2008-2014, I began to “open up.” Soon, I started writing again. I didn’t really want to at first, again, back to the “glamorization of war,” I feared any attempt to recount my experience would be a cheapening of it, a cheapening of other veteran’s experiences by attempting to sale my own. I didn’t want to do that, but I felt drawn to write something. My first attempt was a short narrative story. For this assignment I wrote, “There will be Ghosts,” which was my ode to both my experiences and the movie, “Born of the Fourth of July.” From there I dove head first into fiction-writing. I began a little science-fiction piece which never came to fruition, and probably never will. I consider these first works to be a learning curve, not something I’d want published. A dabbling, if you will, in the creative cosmos.  When I left community college to enter the university (University of Houston-Clear Lake), I had to put my fictional writing on the back burner and focus almost exclusively on my history studies. While this may seem like a setback, I do not see it that way. My studies focused on 20th century Germany, namely the Weimar Republic and Nazi eras. I also took classes on the Vietnam War, Texas history, and the Civil Rights Movement, each class taught from the ground-up. This is a somewhat relative new way of teaching history. Traditionally, history is taught from the top, that is, from famous generals and presidents or other such impressive folk. From the bottom-up, history is taught from the Joe- Shmoe perspective, the everyday lives of everyday people. It was fantastic. A new way of looking at our world and the people that fill it by giving them relevance. In 2014 I graduated from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelor of Arts in History… so now what?

 

Finally, I was able to get back to writing for myself and not just for, say, a term paper. I wrote two short stories soon after graduating. “Hobo,” and “Are you hungry, dear?” Both are horror in genre. And before you ask, “why horror,” let me be brief and just say that I’ve always been a fan of horror fiction, ever since my big sister let me watch “Night of the Living Dead” one Friday night. It made sense for me to gravitate to the genre that I felt more akin to. And besides, horror gives us the most honest and straightforward morsels of social commentary.

 

Reinheit was my first novel, published under the Booktrope imprint Forsaken. While penning Reinheit, I was able to develop my, what authors call, “writers voice.” When you read a lot, which is a must if you want to write, you kind of take on the voice of the authors you are reading. You need to write to chisel away all those voices, and hopefully find your own in the process. The more you chisel, the more defined your voice becomes, until maybe reaching some point when your aged and withered and giving lectures to a new generation of writers. Obviously, I haven’t reach this milestone yet. I’m still having fun with everything. Needless-to-say, Reinheit helped define my own voice and gave me the necessary encouragement to take the next step, writing my “war story.”

 

Again, I couldn’t write something heroic, though I know a lot of whom I consider to be heroic. I didn’t want to pass the war off as some grand adventure. I wanted to rip the decorum off war, the shininess of it. I wanted to bring audiences into the preverbal trenches of “All Quiet on the Western Front.” I wanted to bring an air of hardnosed poetry as Philip Larkin had done for his own generation with his masterpiece, “MCMXIV.” And above all this, I wanted to be direct and honest, no matter how hard or depressing that may be. With my pile of one-subject notebooks (yes, I write everything longhand before MS Word), a set out on this endeavor. Dwelling and Emerging were inked in about nine months, from paper to MS Word, and has recently been picked up by my new publisher, Limitless Publishing, LLC, who has brought those pages to life in a full length series called, “The Subdue Series.” Within the story is something real, raw, and utterly difficult. While hopefully still entertaining, because of the relationships between the characters, it was not written to entertain, it was written to discuss the reality of war and living with the memory of war, I wanted to talk about PTSD, anger, war-guilt, and suicide because these are discussions that need to happen by getting away from the myth and disconnect of combat and focusing on the naked ugliness of it and how we can live with those memories through expression.

While there will always be “those” books that do not give much substance to the echoes of war, I’ve been seeing more and more veteran writers coming forward from the trenches. There was a recent Vanity Fair article called, “The Words of War” that included a few of these up and coming writers of poetry, novels, and screenplays. I felt encouraged reading it. Seeing fellow veterans picking up the pen and expressing themselves. I’m proud to be part of this “Lost Generation,” as Elliot Ackerman, one of the veteran writers mentioned above, put it, “it might have been better to be part of the ‘Lost Generation’ than the lost part of a generation.”

 

DWELLING by Thomas S. Flowers

Subdue Series, Book 1

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Release Date: Dec. 8, 2015

: : : SYNOPSIS : : :

 

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?

 

PURCHASE LINKS:

KINDLE: http://amzn.to/1lVX86K

PAPERBACK: http://amzn.to/1YFDjP5

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MEET THE AUTHOR: Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of fright. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. His first novel, Reinheit, was published by Forsaken. He also has a short story, “Lanmò,” in The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. 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.

 

LIMITLESS PUBLISHING: http://www.limitlesspublishing.net/authors/thomas-flowers/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ThomasSFlowers

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/machinemeannow

WEBSITE: http://machinemean.org/

Guest Post: Ela Lourenco

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What is Creative Writing?

Ela Lourenco

Aside from writing books for both adults (the Essence series) and young adults (the Dragon Born series), I also run creative writing workshops for children. I myself was lucky enough to be exposed to the wonderful world of writing from a young age, both in and out of school. I wanted to give that same opportunity back to others, who like me when I was much younger, have found that same passion for telling a tale. I must be honest and admit that I get as much (or maybe even more!) out of my workshops than the children do. The enjoyment and renewed inspiration I get each time a child reads out their latest wonderful story or poem or article, that same glint of excitement in their eyes, is immeasurable. And the questions they ask… oh the questions! There is no one more direct and to the point than a child! Just yesterday a new girl in my workshop asked me “What are we here to do? What is creative writing?”  And just like that the entire classroom came to a standstill, pens that had been frantically writing stilled and a sea of puzzled faces looked at the newest addition to the group.

You know a question is brilliant when it makes everyone stop and think – to look behind the ‘we’re here to write stories and stuff’ or ‘I’m here because my mommy made me’ (don’t worry, I always manage to infect them with the joys of writing until they no longer remember that they didn’t want to be there initially!).

So what is creative writing? It is something different for everyone, but for me it is the freedom to write anything you want with no limits, rules or restrictions – to take an idea, a feeling, and run with it until your story takes on a life of its own. The new girl could not get over her shock that when she was with me she could tell whatever story took her fancy. She couldn’t believe that I was not going to dictate a topic for her to write about or tell her that yes she could write a poem but only if it rhymed and was in iambic pentameter. ‘There really aren’t any rules?” she whispered in disbelief, “and you don’t mind if I write a comic strip?” I told her that I only had one rule – make sure you write what you enjoy, write to please yourself.

I use this advice when it comes to my own writing. When writing my first YA book Dragon Born I let my imagination run wild. No magical ritual or character was too fantastical – there were no limits to what races and worlds I could cook up. I stayed true to writing what I enjoyed myself and the story just flowed, the characters taking on a life of their own.

True creativity is born when limits are cast aside.

 

Dragon Born

Ela Lourenco

Far in the distant reaches of the universe is a world called Azmantium. A planet with lilac skies, jade green seas and fiery red suns. A planet where everything, from the tides of the sea to life itself, is rooted in magic. Children are assessed at an early age and trained according to their unique magical talents.

Lara, an orphan who has no memory of her true origins, is unaware that she has a vital role to play in the ancient prophesies that are about to begin coming true. Older than most who are just beginning their magical training, Lara will soon find out that destiny waits for no one, especially when the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.

With the help of her new friends, Lara will learn that in order to save the future, she must journey into the past – to a time when Dragons ruled the world!

 

***

 

Dragon Born is available on:

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

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India

Barnes & Noble (Print & eBook)

Kobo

iTunes

Smashwords

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About the Author — Ela Lourenco lives in Scotland with her two daughters and husband. She has been an avid reader since childhood and has long enjoyed mysteries, mythology and anything related to the paranormal/supernatural/mystical/science fiction. She loves nothing more than making up stories about faraway people and places (helped somewhat by a mind that just won’t grow up!). When she isn’t nose deep in a book or writing herself she can be found dancing around the kitchen whilst baking. Her biggest wish in life is to infect others with a passion for reading.

Guest Post: Linze Brandon

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*** BOOK  TOUR ***
 

It was time for the Lords of the High Council to step in when the Grandmaster of Kryane is accused of murdering his own people. They had little choice but to prevent the collapse of the whole magicians order, so they sent Michael to investigate the allegations.
The people of the desert planet were an enigma, but none more than Andesine, the healer assigned to assist Michael. Why did she report the Grandmaster? Was she involved, or was there something more sinister going on?
The more people they interrogated the more they suspected that nothing was as it seemed. Not the murders, nor the Grandmasters’ motive as everyone thought.
Unable to resist the growing attraction between them, Michael and Andesine learn that they had to trust each other with their own secrets, and risking any future they might have.
Time and again the High Lords had to step in to prevent chaos on Kryane, but time was running out for Michael and Andesine. They had to get a new Grandmaster in place before the Kryane Order collapsed completely. And they had to find the who the true culprit was.
Fortunate to escape an attack from this monster once, they were risking the lives of many others in the process. Before the High Lords could formulate a plan, Michael and Andesine were captured, leaving the High Lords helpless to prevent it.
Kidnapped and imprisoned, Andesine was confronted with the realisation that if they were to survive their ordeal, it was up to her and her long suppressed powers. But as a healer she saved lives, would she be able to destroy the monster before he forces her to unleash her power to destroy the future of mankind?

About the Author:

Teaching herself to read before she went to school, it was the start of her life long love affair with books. Trained as an engineer, Linzé has worked as an export consultant and is presently a project manager. Although she still loves to read, she also enjoys counted stitch embroidery, archery, tai chi, fly fishing, painting, her husband’s medal winning photographs and watching Manchester United play.

She counts both novels and short stories to her publishing credit. Her fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian, is planned for publication early in 2016. Her story, The Vernal Equinox, was a finalist in a sci-fi flash-fiction competition in 2015.

Linzé Brandon lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her engineer husband and German Shepherds who are convinced that the world revolves only around them.

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Guest Post: Dan Padavona

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Dark Vanishings series

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “I liked the book, but the movie was scarier,” I’d be a rich man.

Let me be clear about one thing. It is hard to frighten someone with the written word alone. I don’t care if your name is Ketchum, King, or Laymon. Scaring people with mere words is incredibly difficult and is only fleetingly accomplished, even by the most gifted horror writers.

The truth is that horror movies hold significant advantages over novels when it comes to delivering scares. While films, due to their brevity, cannot compete with books for character and plot depth, films take advantage of musical score, strong acting performances, camera angles, and innovative direction. And although cliche’, the horror movie can also deliver “jump scares,” momentary shock scenes – for example, the killer leaping out of the closet, or the false jump scare, where the hissing cat suddenly bounds across the set – which are almost impossible to replicate in printed form.

Yet authors have managed to frighten readers since the advent of horror fiction, and for my money, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and Intensity by Dean Koontz are the most heart-pounding examples. But how should a writer attempt to frighten a reader?

The Slow Burn

The trend in fiction and film is to deliver action immediately, and while I don’t disagree with this methodology, I believe it is less than optimal when it comes to horror.

My horror fiction employs a slow burn, a creeping dread if you will, similar to the gradual builds of 1970’s horror films (think Black Christmas and The Exorcist). Similar pacing dates as far back as horror has existed as an art form, yet it was perfected by Alfred Hitchcock and leveraged by the classic horror films of the 1970s.

Everything begins with characterization. A book should contain characters which the reader can get behind and put emotional stock into, whether the characters are villains or heroes. The reader should believe in and care about the character. Then, when the character is put into jeopardy, the reader’s natural reaction is to become stressed. This alone isn’t enough to frighten the reader, but it’s a necessary beginning.

Read a Clive Barker or Stephen King novel, and pay particular attention to the author’s pacing during a frightening scene. In most cases, a slow burn is utilized. Nothing is rushed, and the scene is allowed to unfold gradually. When done to perfection, the horror broods and broods until the reader realizes she has been trapped and is without an escape route.

Let’s take the classic example of the monster or boogeyman hiding in the closet.

If I come right out and show you the boogeyman, I’m not likely to frighten you. Inside of a movie, I could use a cheap jump scare to get you to drop your popcorn, but in fiction I have no such advantage. In order for me to frighten you, the scene must unfold with near perfection.

For one thing, you’ll need to feel a sense of place. If the boogeyman is hiding in the closet, I haven’t done my job until I walk you from the kitchen to the bedroom and sit you upon the bed with cookie in hand. You need to feel the cookie crumbs on the bed sheets. You need to see the room – the lamplight pooling around the base of the nightstand and dying in the middle of the room, the Black Sabbath poster scotch-taped to the paint-chipped wall, the way the bed sheets and blankets covering your chest and legs won’t stretch past your neck.

And even then you won’t believe the boogeyman exists. But if I place you in that desolate room and make you hear the muffled rumble of the television through the floor, so that no matter how loud you scream, your parents won’t hear you, then I’m at least halfway home. Because once your closet door starts to creak open, and once those shadows start to spill into the bedroom like a black ocean, I need you to be that kid in the bed.

And then if I do everything right, and if I catch you in a receptive mood, I might just chill you to the bone with the written word.

Don’t Let Them Run Away

Think about how expert directors like Hitchcock paced their scenes, allowing the disquiet to simmer before the monster was unleashed. The shower scene of Psycho didn’t open with Norman Bates holding the knife. We followed Janet Leigh through the dingy motel room, watched her peel her clothes off and step into the shower, and saw from her perspective the spray cascading down. Think about how you would write this scene, if you were constructing a Psycho novelization.

Two more excellent examples are the directions of Fred Walton’s When A Stranger Calls and When A Stranger Calls Back. The pacing of the brooding horror is tortuous. You cannot help but squirm as the babysitters are unknowingly stalked by madmen. In a bad slasher movie, the opening scene to When A Stranger Calls would last a few minutes. In Fred Walton’s direction, it lasts over twenty excruciating minutes in which the viewer is trapped inside the creepy house.

The best horror authors never allow their readers to run away before the monster gets them. They lure the readers in, then they lock the doors.

As authors of horror novels, it is important we slow down and allow our readers to immerse themselves in a scene. Slower is better. Go for a gradual build, and never rush the process. Writing for horror is incredibly challenging, and it is imperative we give ourselves every advantage.

Take your time with the scene. Then scare Jessica to death.

About the Author

Dan Padavona is a horror and dark fantasy author. Dan’s gothic vampire novel, Storberry, reached the top-10 among Amazon horror novels, and his post-apocalyptic series, Dark Vanishings, has been compared to Robert McCammon’s Swan Song and Stephen King’s The Stand. You can visit Dan at his website, danpadavona.com.

Guest Post: Brenda Pandos

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RELEASE DAY BLITZ
Evermore 
by Brenda Pandos
Mer Tales, Book Four
 

The underwater world of Natatoria is enjoying a long awaited period of peace — and with it, the merpeople’s very first chance to visit human civilization. Ash and Fin’s wedding marks the perfect opportunity for the mers to celebrate their newfound freedom. But when they return home to Tahoe to prepare, Ash’s absence from the human world has raised more than a few questions about where she’s been. When blaming fingers point to Ash and Fin as the culprits who burned down Fin’s home, even his mindjacking mojo hasn’t stopped the authorities from issuing the happy couple an early wedding gift—a matching pair of arrest warrants. 


Instead of bringing their families together, Ash and Fin’s upcoming wedding drives a wedge between the very cultures they’re trying to bridge. And when their reality takes an unexpected twist, Ash realizes her dual existence comes with a hefty price. Neither her human nor her mer family understand the sacrifices they’re asking of her, and as much as she wants to please both her mer and human mothers, she knows she’s one misstep away from breaking two maternal hearts. 
But while everyone is distracted in preparations for the big day, there are those who are intent on elevating their own bloodline, even to the point they’d risk exposing the mer secret. Ash and Fin must scramble to save their families, their societies . . . and their love. The only thing they know for sure is that when it comes to Natatorians, old habits die hard. 


And a royal should never get too comfortable. 

 
My heart pounded with thoughts of
why they’d come. Did something happen to Dad? Gran? My mother? Once I entered
the house, the taller of the two cops stopped talking.
“Ash?” My mother blinked at me, eyes red and swollen. Then
she jumped up and attacked me with a hug.
My arms circled around her, squeezing tight. I didn’t
understand why the happy reunion since
I’d only been gone for a few weeks. Tears wet my cheeks anyway. I’d wanted
this, for her to miss me. Gran hugged me next, followed amazingly by my sister,
Lucy. Then they all stared at me like my
head might pop.
“What’s going on? Why are they here?” I gestured to the
cops.
Mom eyed me up and down “What are you wearing, and why are
you all wet?”
I looked down at the puddle under my feet from my pink
beaded gown, realizing my mistake. Luckily, Fin walked in behind me. He quickly
sang, using his mer mojo to get them to
ignore my attire.
“I’m sorry to interrupt the reunion,” the shorter cop turned
to me, “but you’re under arrest, Ashlyn, for arson.”
“Arrest?” I leaped backward.
Mom stood between us. “I told you. She didn’t do this. I
don’t care what evidence you have!”
“Ma’am, please…”
Fin started to sing, “Ash is innocent, and it’s time for you
both to leave.”
The cops’ eyes glazed over.
“Sorry for the confusion.” The taller of the two looked at the shorter one, then nodded and they left.
“We’ll be going.”
I swallowed hard, my heart thundering.
Then my mother’s gaze turned cold. “Where have you been?”
I flicked a glance at Fin. She’d been mojoed. How could she have forgotten? “I was on
a mission trip in Africa.”
She chuckled. “Really? And where are your plane tickets?
Your visa? Your passport?”
Fin opened his mouth to sing, but I grabbed onto his hand to
stop him.
“No. Let me handle this.” They deserved answers, not some
fishy mind-jacking makeover. I turned to my mother. “You’re right. I wasn’t in
Africa.”
Mom’s jaw tightened. “Then where were you?”
“I was with Fin and his family.”
“Doing what?”
I gritted my teeth. What could I say that didn’t sound
totally lame? “Just traveling.”
“Traveling?” Mom barked out a laugh. “Are you kidding me?
Oooh! Jack and Maggie are going to get an earful!”
“Karen,” Gran said. “I’m sure there’s a logical
explanation.”
“Let me handle this, Mother!” Mom snapped.
“Please,” Fin whispered to me.
I held up my hand for him to wait, but I had no excuse to
give her that wasn’t a lie. How was that any better than just singing them a story? “Mom, just trust me—”
“Trust you? You disappear without a word, and I’m just
supposed to look the other way?” She stretched the small space between us and slapped me. “This is unforgivable, and
your life will be over as you know it, Ashlyn Francis Lanski. You can leave
now, Fin.”
“Karen!” Gran scolded. “That’s uncalled for.”
I turned away, gasping while I held onto the stinging flesh. My mother and I may have had a strained
relationship, but she’d never hit me before.
Gran begged for Mom to calm down, while Lucy let out a rude cackle. Fin sang for everyone to
sit and be quiet. Tears trickled down over my hot face, and my stomach turned
over, making me want to vomit. I knew coming home wouldn’t be blissful, but
this? The wedding most definitely wasn’t happening now.
Fin walked over to me. “Let’s just smooth this over and find
out what’s happened.”
I wanted to, but with the cops ready to arrest me, I knew whatever
had happened was irreparable.
Find the series on Amazon.

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 Author Brenda Pandos lives in California with her husband, two energetic boys, eight chickens and a grumpy orange cat. She writes fast-paced stories about kissing, hot mermen, bad boy vampires, and occasionally zombies–not all in the same stories. When she’s not writing, or wrangling her kids, she’s failing at her latest Pinterest replication or delivering a really bad pun. More than anything she loves to hear from readers. Feel free to email brendapandos@gmail.com or write on her facebook wall.