Posts Tagged ‘Guest Post’

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Stuart R Brogan, the author of the brutal thriller Jackals which is out now. I have a review scheduled for tomorrow, so I won’t dig too much into the novel, but Jackals is a very impressive debut. This was the first work of Brogan’s that I was able to read, but I left very impressed and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future! Brogan’s post is about his thoughts on self-publishing and his experience with it when it comes to his own writing.

My own personal thoughts are that while I have no issue with major publishers or horror titles that are released through one of the major publishers or affiliates, I have to say some of the best horror fiction I have read since starting this blog (or even before) has come from independent presses and self-published authors. Brogan makes some good points about how some self-published books can be sloppily put together, but I know of a ton of authors who have gone into self-publishing and done an incredible job.

Before I turn over the blog to Stuart, I want to thank him and Nev of Confessions Publicity for having me on the tour!

Going It Alone

By Stuart R Brogan

A seismic shift has occurred within the publishing world over the last few years. Many of the big players within the industry have battened down the hatches and tightened their belts with regards to the number of new books released and the new authors they take on. Even those eagle-eyed literary agents searching for the next big thing have cut back regarding new clients, thus the hopes of many an author securing that dream deal have been pretty much dashed. But should we retreat and sob into our cereal bowls and hurl abuse to anyone that will listen regarding the injustice of it all? Or is there another way to attain that craved recognition regarding our work, regardless of the genre we dabble in?

For many years, the term “Self-Publishing” was looked upon with disgust. The mere mention of those two words was only whispered among the echelons of literary power and deemed a “Vanity” rather than a viable publishing platform. However, it seems that now the whole world and his/her dog is involved in it to some degree, proving that it is a monster that shows no sign of retreating any time soon.

Let’s be brutally honest, self-publishing is a veritable minefield. It is a double-edged sword that can destroy a career before it even begins, or catapult an unknown author into Bestseller-Dom. One only has to trawl the most popular sites to witness the vast array of titles vying for our attention, most of which are subpar for even the most ardent fan. It is a sad fact that the internet is awash with ebook’s and trade backs that suffer from horrendous formatting, editing, cover design and a whole host of other issues. It would appear this new technology has unleashed a tidal wave of authors, all clinging to the dream that their book is bound for Hollywood.

But herein lies the problem. With such a sea of titles, how can we make ourselves stand out from the crowd? In essence, we are just one blade of grass in a field of green, all competing for that one shot and trying to secure our name as a quality brand.

The cold hard truth is that ninety-nine-point nine percent of self-published authors will sell next to no books; even fewer will catch the attention of a “big name” agent/publisher. Even less still, will be able to make a living from it. Even the big boys have noticed a dramatic change in our reading habits. When once it was acceptable to sell “X” amount of books when released, it has now diminished to half that number. So, you see, even THEY are worried regarding sales figures and look what kind of media/promotional machines they have behind them. What chance do we have?

But hold your horses; we have a few things that can work in our favour. For one, we have the tenacity to dance to our own tune and behold to no-one. Secondly, we have total control over content / rights and the marketing plan and thirdly, we have the passion to become better and to push ourselves. Without the corporate machine pushing us, we are reliant on our own resolve and determination to propel our career forward. This, of course, is down to our own individual level of dedication; some may flourish under such pressure while others may fold.

I myself tried to obtain that elusive agent to take me on with the hopes they could find me a home, and while I got excellent feedback, I had no takers. But before you call me a failure, I would like to state that looking back, it was a great thing because it galvanized me into action.

I would do it myself damn it and see what happens. Of course, I have faith in my work, but going at it alone was as scary as it was exciting. I have to say, I have been lucky to have made contact with some truly fantastic people within my genre. To be honest, I thought that it would be a dog eat dog scenario but I am glad I was proved wrong because instead of polarising authors, self-publishing has brought us together. Everyone helping each other and spreading the word. I was amazed by the openness shown to me and I am truly humbled by the advice and help given. It is something I shall never forget.

Don’t get me wrong I am not selling millions of books (not yet anyway) but have slowly got my name out there amongst those who matter. I have to say that I was (contrary to my earlier statement) amazed by how many big-name authors have left or turned down deals with major houses to go it alone. It would seem that being signed to a big boy isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Some of them seem to be doing very well in terms of making a living and all because of going at it alone.

So, there you have it. Self-publishing is either a gift or a curse depending on how you approach it. Will you curl up in a little ball, scared of rejection or will you stand on your own two feet and go for it? I know what I would do.

In fact, I’m doing it!

Until next time…

LINKS

Stuart R Brogan’s author Facebook page

Purchase Jackals: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Jackals Synopsis

From the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.

About Stuart R Brogan

 Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”.

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from John Quick, who I featured quite a bit over the summer. I reviewed his debut novel Consequences, which is based on a real-life serial killer legend from his hometown. One of the things that I really loved about Consequences was that it was written in a style that is reminiscent of vintage slasher films and featured well-developed characters and a vicious premise. In case you missed my full review, you can check that out here. I also got to have an interesting conversation about the inspiration and history behind Consequences and some of his upcoming projects.

John has a new short story collection out now called Three Shots and a Chaser and it is one I am looking forward to reading! Consequences was an excellent debut and there is no doubt in my mind that John is going to have a bright future and I can’t wait to check out his upcoming release for Sinister Grin Press. Check out this guest post from John and then enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed print copy of Consequences. The sale on Consequences ends tomorrow, so for all you late night readers snag a copy before the sale ends!

From Slasher Novel to Short Story Collection: Enter to Win Debut Novel CONSEQUENCES

By John Quick

three-shots consequences

2016 has been a strange year, both rough and rewarding by turns. I am pleased to announce that my second release, a short-story collection called Three Shots and a Chaser, is now available in both digital AND print editions!

If you’ve read my first work, Consequences, you experienced brutal, bloody horror in the style of the old slasher movies from the eighties, only told in my own way. But that’s not all there is to me; this collection demonstrates that quite clearly.

Here, you’re going to find a more subtle horror than I did before, horror not only of sight and sound, but of mind. And if you heard Rod Serling say that line, well, you’re on the right track. See, this time, it’s not Jason or Freddy or Michael or Pinhead that influenced me. Instead, it’s a Twilight Zone, reaching for The Outer Limits, and telling a few Tales from the Darkside.

While the stories here are still based in horror, there’s more than just horror, too. There’s a bit of a sci-fi bent, a little fantasy. Add a hint of the supernatural, and a dash of my normal dark humor, and you’ve got some idea of what you’re in for. There’s even a bit of that old-school anthology feel, where there’s a story around the stories, too. For that idea, though, I have to credit Patrick Rothfuss and the Kingkiller Chronicle for showing how it can be used this way.

Basically, this is something different, something to show I am more than a one-trick pony. And honestly, while I’m a bit nervous about trying something so vastly different from what I’ve done before, I’m also excited as all get-out for everyone to read these tales!

I’m celebrating, but it’s YOU who gets the reward! In honor of this collection’s release, not only is Consequences going on sale, but I’ll be giving a copy to one lucky person! So take the chance; if you haven’t read it already, here’s your opportunity to do so. I suggest you read it alongside Three Shots and a Chaser, see for yourself the range of my creative insanity. I’m curious which one you prefer: fast and bloody, or subtle scares!

Either way, if you enjoy yourself, if you lose an afternoon or two in the worlds I’ve created, then my mission is accomplished. Just don’t lose yourself too much… you’ll want to be around for what comes next!

Enter the GIVEAWAY for a Print Copy of Consequences!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b33/?

Purchase the e-copy on sale!

You can purchase CONSEQUENCES at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E6B9ZV8

Three Shots and a Chaser, Synopsis

Three twisted tales to tempt your palate…

A man who drives the back roads looking for something interesting finds more than he bargained for….

A woman with a very special gift for her husband on their wedding day….

A couple headed for the beach who find themselves tasked with a responsibility they never anticipated….

These are the tales told by the patrons of the Last Hope Bar, a way for them to pass the time while waiting for another new face, someone looking for a drink, or a place to wait out a storm, or just someone unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Someone like you, perhaps?

Step right on in, have a seat at the bar, and order up THREE SHOTS AND A CHASER.

You can purchase THREE SHOTS AND A CHASER at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M2ZITNS

About John Quick

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

 

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from David Bernstein, who is currently promoting his diverse and highly entertaining short story collection A Mixed Bag of Blood (review), which is out now through Sinister Grin Press. I loved reading this collection, the diversity of the stories guarantee that there is never a dull moment throughout the 86 pages that make up A Mixed Bag of Blood. David’s post takes a look at the troubling trend of characters making baffling choices in a story and how authors can write themselves into a corner. I can definitely relate to what David is saying. It happens more with the TV shows that I watch, but I am sure I get on my wife’s nerves when I say something along the lines of,  “You know, if those characters would have just done this….”. Usually its a solution that would have cut an hour-long episode down to roughly ten minutes.

Before I turn over the blog to David, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour!

Don’t Treat Your Audience Like They’re Morons

By David Bernstein

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Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where the characters did something so ridiculously stupid you turned off the television or chucked the book across the room? Characters making stupid decisions seem to be happening more and more. I like to call it dumbed down writing, or writing yourself into a corner. More and more writers are treating their audiences like morons and I’m tired of it.

For example, I was reading a book, and really into it, when the characters did something that I just couldn’t get past. A bad guy was holding a gun on three people. He’d been after them for most of the book. One of the three people managed to clobber him on the head with a pipe and knocked him out. His gun slid a few feet away. Now what do you think happened next? Did one of them pick up the gun? Shoot the bad guy dead? Tie him up? Nope. They simply turned and ran away. And you know what the bad guy did? He woke up, picked up his gun and the chase continued. I was like—WHAT? Why wouldn’t the people at least pick up the gun. Why leave it there? Even if they were anti-gun nuns who would never kill. Why just run away? Because the author wanted to continue the story and had written himself into a corner and said to himself that the audience will buy it because they’re stupid.

Another case: I was watching a TV show where a bad guy was holding a gun on two people. One of the two people had a German Shepherd with him. The bad guy also had a friend with him, but with no gun. One of the good guys manages to grab a shovel and knock out the friend of the gunman. The dog is sicced on the gunman and latches onto his arm and starts gnawing on him. The gun is dropped and tumbled a few feet away. So what do the characters do? Pick up the gun? Knock out the guy who is fighting the dog? Tie up the bad guys? Nope. Not only do the good guys run away, the dog owner calls the dog off and tells it to run. Why? Because the writer wanted to continue the story. Why didn’t one of the good guys pick up the gun? Help the dog? They could have called the cops while keeping the gun trained on the guy. The show should’ve ended there. And do you know what the bad guy did after the good guys ran away? He picked up the gun and shot one of the fleeing good guys. Then the chase continued. For me, this is a complete turn off. I will stop watching a TV show that does this. It tells me the writer, editor, producer and all else involved think very little of the viewers.

This may seem like a rant, and it is, but I would also like to get people to stop accepting this sort of bullshit. Make a writer work and believe that his audience is intelligent. And as writers, we shouldn’t be doing this sort of garbage. Cheap thrills to progress a story that should’ve ended at that point are silly. And if you don’t want to end your story, then don’t write scenes like the above. Treat your readers/viewers like they have a functioning brain. I’d sooner believe a man can fly or lift a house over his head before making the kind of decisions the above characters made.

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LINKS

David Bernstein’s Official Website

Sinister Grin Press’ Official Website

Purchase A Mixed Bag of Blood: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

A Mixed Bag of Blood tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about A Mixed Bag of Blood! – #AMixedBagofBlood #DavidBernstein #shortstories #horrorstories

A Mixed Bag of Blood Synopsis

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood

“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you’ll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark

 Praise for David Bernstein

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

About David Bernstein

david bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, athttp://www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from C.M. Saunders, who is currently promoting his new novel Sker House, which is available now through DeadPixel Publications. I am excited to have Saunders on the site as I loved his novella Out of Time (review) and his riveting story of psychological horror “The Elementals and I” that appeared in Grey Matter Press’ Dark Visions – Volume Two. Saunders’ post takes a look at the practice of “wrecking” and the role it played in the history of the real-life Sker House. I love history, so I really enjoyed this post and learned a lot about the practice of wrecking, which is something I didn’t even know about. Wrecking plays a significant role in the novel and I look forward to reading how Saunders’ incorporates it into what sounds like a truly creepy haunted house story!

The Wreckers 

By C.M. Saunders, author of Sker House

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Every country has elements of its history it would rather forget. A black mark against Wales would be the unsavoury practice of ‘wrecking,’ deliberately luring passing ships to their doom, which was rife during the 17th and 18th Centuries. In fairness, it didn’t just happen in Wales. It was prevalent in most, of not all, coastal areas of Britain, and probably elsewhere in the world. However, one location in Wales that will be forever linked with wreckers is Sker House, a large, isolated mansion in Kenfig, Glamorgan.

sker house

During the Industrial Revolution, the Bristol Channel, the stretch of water Sker House overlooked, was one of the busiest waterways in the world, carrying a steady stream of vessels between Britain and the Continent. It was also one of the most perilous. As well as the strong currents and ever-shifting hidden sandbanks, the submerged bank of rocks known as Sker Point could literally tear ships to pieces. At that time, smuggling and looting were considered legitimate (if not lawful) enterprises, and shipwrecks were so common in the area that they were seldom investigated in any depth. Local landowners routinely claimed ‘Right of the Wreck’, whereby they were legally free to salvage whatever ‘lost’ cargo happened to wash up on their property. This is why some less scrupulous locals were said to engage in wrecking, which they usually achieved by tying lanterns to cattle or grazing sheep and leading them along the seafront at night. From a distance, especially to unfamiliar eyes in bad weather, the lights would look like those of ships lying safely at anchor. The captain would steer a course for the lights, only to run his ship aground. A cautionary tale often told is that of the Welsh wrecker who helped lure a passing ship onto rocks, killing everyone on board. While he busied himself looting the ship’s cargo, the bodies of the unfortunate passengers and crew were brought ashore for burial. Only then did the wrecker see the body of his own son who was returning home unexpectedly after a long voyage.

A pivotal event not just in the history of Sker, but in the practice of wrecking as a whole, occurred on December 17th 1753, when the French merchant ship Le Vainqueur was en route from Portugal when she struck Sker Point. It is generally held that then-owner of Sker House Isaac Williams and his cohorts were responsible for its untimely demise on Sker Point. No sooner had the ship hit the rocks, impoverished locals and respected nobility alike descended on the wreck like vultures and plundered it for all it was worth, stealing her cargo of fruit, rifling the bodies of dead sailors, and even setting fire to what was left of the ship in order to recover the iron nails that had once held it together.

Due to the delicate diplomatic relations between Britain and France at the time, the fate of Le Vainqueur was treated as a serious international incident. In the aftermath, no less than 17 people were arrested, including Isaac Williams himself, who was at the time an influential local magistrate. When questioned, he claimed to have stored goods from the wreck found in the cellar of Sker House there for safekeeping. Remarkably, he never went to trial, but his reputation was tainted forever and he died a ruined man. Of those who did go to trial, one wasn’t so lucky and was hanged by the Crown to set an example to others. In the years since wrecking was abolished, countless witnesses claim to have seen ghostly ships off Sker. Also frequently spotted is a solitary light hovering over Sker Point. Locally, this is taken to be a prelude to bad weather, but is eerily reminiscent of the Canwyll Corph, a well-known Welsh portent of death.

And that’s not all, whether connected to wrecking or not, over the years Sker House has gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted locations in Wales. It’s most famous ghost is the Maid of Sker, Isaac Williams’s daughter, who he allegedly imprisoned at the house until she agreed to marry the man of his choosing. Local legend insists that she never left. There have also been numerous reports of shadow figures, poltergeist activity, strange howls, and a crushing sensation of dread felt by visitors.

LINKS

C.M. Saunders’ Official Website

DeadPixel Publications Official Website

 Purchase Sker House on Amazon 

Sker House Synopsis

Dale and Lucy are two students with a fascination in the supernatural. One weekend, they travel to Sker House, South Wales, a private residence with a macabre history which has recently been converted into a seaside inn. They plan to write an article for their university magazine about a supposed haunting, but when they arrive, they meet a landlord who seems to have a lot to hide. Soon, it becomes apparent that all is not well at Sker House. An air of oppression hangs over it, while misery, tragedy and ill-fortune are commonplace. Gradually, it becomes clear that the true depth of the mystery goes far beyond a mere historical haunting. This is a place where bad things happen, and evil lurks.

Little by little Dale and Lucy fall under Sker’s dark spell, and as they begin to unravel the mysteries of the past, they realize that nothing stays buried forever.

Welcome to Sker House, a place where past and present collide.

About C.M. Saunders

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New Tredegar-born C.M. Saunders began writing in 1997, his early fiction appearing in several small-press titles. Following the publication of his first book, Into the Dragon’s Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales (2003), he worked extensively in the freelance market, contributing to over 50 international publications including Fortean Times, Loaded, Record Collector, Forever Sports and Nuts. In addition, he has written several novellas and had over thirty short stories published in various magazines, ezines and anthologies. He taught English and creative writing in China for five years, before settling in London where he works as a writer and editor in the sport, fitness and men’s lifestyle sectors. His latest release is the fact-based novel Sker House on DeadPixel Publications and he is represented by Media Bitch literary agency.

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Brian Kirk, the author of the psychological horror masterpiece We Are Monsters (review) which is out now through Samhain Horror. I was hooked on We Are Monsters from the very first page and was highly impressed with Kirk’s complex characters, reality-warping plot and stunning prose. This is one of the most impressive debuts I have read and easily my favorite book of 2015. Kirk’s post takes a look at what makes a human monster and the questions that helped him create We Are Monsters. We Are Monsters is a truly remarkable book and I hope this post encourages you to grab a copy and experience the journey for yourself!

Before I turn over the blog to Brian, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

What Makes a Human Monster

By Brian Kirk, Author of We Are Monsters

we are monsters

Most horror stories feature a monster of some sort. Oftentimes this is a supernatural creature divined from some malevolent origin intent on causing death and destruction. What’s interesting about these stories is how the humans typically defeat these monsters in the end, implying, whether intentionally or not, that we are actually the scarier and more ferocious of the two creatures at war. We are more intelligent, more cunning, more ruthless and relentless. We are the superior killers.  

Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated with monsters of the human variety, and spend perhaps more time than I should studying them. Let’s think about this for a second, who are the most dangerous among us? The ones who commit the vilest and most barbaric acts?

Politicians, you say? Oh, you’re killing me!

Seriously, though. If I were to create a list (so saying as I proceed to create a list) of the most heinous of our kind, I’d include the following, in no particular order: pedophiles, serial killers, rapists, and cannibals.

These are the people you definitely don’t want living next door. But who are these people? How did they get this way? What turns an innocent toddler into a monster that feasts on human flesh?

It’s difficult to say. Some of it’s nature, some of it nurture. Some people are born with abnormal brains, while others have their minds altered through prolonged exposure to trauma or violent environments. One thing that may be safe to say is that no one grows up wanting to become one of these perverted, and violent predators. I don’t think anyone with a normal, healthy brain and upbringing consciously decides to begin engaging in these acts rather than, say… go to dental school.

It’s an innate calling, an urge. An irresistible compulsion that defiles our dream that we’re all basically good. That evil does not exist in this world. That we’re more than hairless monkeys born of violence and blood-thirst.

What do we think when we see violent and heinous acts? When deranged killers walk into elementary schools and gun down innocent children? Evil is what comes to mind, isn’t it? Insane.

But not insane like an illness. Insane like a demonic possession.

I wonder about that. Is insanity more like an evil possession, or more like a disease?

Some may say, “Who cares. What’s the difference? The acts are evil and should be punished.”

While I absolutely agree that people with irresistible pedophiliac urges cannot be allowed to roam freely in society, I wonder what should be done with them. What if, instead of being deviant predators, these people were otherwise normal human beings afflicted with a disease or deformity that could be corrected or cured? What if it was your brother who inexplicably had these urges, or your son?

Let’s say we could identify and diagnose the people with this disease before they ever acted upon its urge. Would we send them to prison? Would we kill them? Or would we quarantine them while we worked to develop a cure? The same way we would treat someone who inadvertently contracted small pox and was now a health hazard to the rest of humanity.

Heck if I know. I’m just intrigued by the question. I’ll tell you this, though. If the urge to harm others is, at times, caused by a “disease” or deformity of the brain, much like how the mutation of a cell can lead to cancer, it is by far one of the worst diseases that can afflict an individual. And its contagion is among the most damaging to society as a whole.

These are difficult questions involving an uncomfortable subject. They are questions that inspired the nature of my debut novel, We Are Monsters.

In We Are Monsters, a troubled, yet brilliant psychiatrist is working to develop a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

This novel asks challenging questions. As the venerable review site, Ginger Nuts of Horror said, “Parts of the story are heartbreaking, parts will make you angry, and the whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”

But I believe they are questions worth asking. I hope you’ll check it out.


Purchase We Are Monsters: AmazonSamhain PublishingBarnes and NobleKoboOmnilit 

Thanks for having me on your site! Here’s my contact info in case anyone is interested in forming a virtual friendship.

Brian Kirk

 Twitter

 Facebook

 Goodreads

We Are Monsters tour graphic (1)

This guest post originally appeared on Hunter Shea‘s blog. Hunter is an incredible writer and another one of my favorite authors, be sure to check out his books too!

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about We Are Monsters! – #WeAreMonsters #asylum #mentalhealth #psychologicalhorror

We Are Monsters Synopsis

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum. 

He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

Praise for Brian Kirk

“Keep an eye on Brian Kirk. His ambitious debut, We Are Monsters, is a high-voltage thrill, like watching Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor and Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners on split screens. ” — Jonathan Moore, Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Redheads

We Are Monsters is fantastic — a frightening and intense thriller and one hell of a debut novel. I was blown away. Brian Kirk is exactly what readers need — a talented new voice with original, awe-inspiring ideas that can push the genre forward.” 
Brian Keene, best-selling author of Ghoul and The Rising

“Brian Kirk’s debut We Are Monsters is a smart, elaborate novel that weaves together the best and worst of us. Complex, terrifying, and still humane, this book moved me to both horror and compassion, and that’s a difficult thing indeed. Easily the best book I’ve read this year.”  – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy.

“A tightly woven tale from an author who has a heart, and that makes me excited to see what else Kirk has in store for us. The whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.”  – Ginger Nuts of Horror

“Brian Kirk’s debut novel We Are Monsters is a sure bet. A hippy-trippy jaunt that goes deep into the baser things we keep bottled up… and what happens when they’re freed. Highly recommended!”  – John F.D. Taff, Bram Stoker nominated author of The End In All Beginnings.

“A disturbing, gets-under-your-skin debut novel. I expect to read much more from Kirk in the future.” – Robert Ford, author of The Compound and Samson and Denial.


“Cleverly told. Psychologically complex.” Scarlet’s Web

“A gorgeous display of conceivable terror that resonates long after reading.”  – Ranked as one of the Top Ten Horror Novels of 2015 by Best-Horror-Movies.net

About Brian Kirk

brian kirk

Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys. He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy. We Are Monsters is his debut release. Feel free to connect with him online. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.

See more about Brian at: http://briankirkblog.com/ 

Follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter. He’s found on Twitter at @Brian_Kirk and looks forward to connecting with you.

Giveaway

Click the rafflecopter link below and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card from Brian Kirk! You can perform several tasks for entering each day here or at each stop that posts the giveaway link. Best of luck!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI1/?

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Glenn Rolfe, who recently released his thrilling werewolf novel Blood and Rain (review) through Samhain Horror. Glenn is one of my favorite writers and I knew I would read every book of his after I discovered his brutal and haunting debut The Haunted Halls. Blood and Rain is an absolute blast to read and offers a unique spin on the werewolf mythos, so I highly encourage any horror fan to pick up a copy of this stellar novel. I loved Glenn’s take on the werewolf curse and his characterization and attention to setting and pacing are top-notch. Glenn is an extremely talented author and already has locked in a few spots in my “Best of the Year list”, so I am happy to have him back on The Horror Bookshelf. Not only is Glenn a great author, but he is consistently sharing and promoting the work of other writers in the horror community. As an aspiring writer myself, Glenn’s post definitely hit home for me and his positive outlook and work ethic serve as an inspiration.

Before I turn over the blog to Glenn, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win some of Glenn’s books!

Staying Positive

By Glenn Rolfe, Author of Blood and Rain

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Positivity breeds positivity. That mantra can get a writer through many situations big and small. It helps you keep the belief and faith, even when you hit a wall, that your story will tell you where it wants to go and how you plan to go about getting the finished draft published. Not everyone is going to get your story or love that you wrote a werewolf story without leaving the werewolf’s identity a mystery. You will get rejected, but if you have written the story you wanted to write (which, it most certainly should be if you’re submitting it) you must have faith that your baby will be adopted and find a home.

Tomorrow, Annie… the sun will come out tomorrow.

Another place where staying positive comes into play is in promoting yourself and others in your genre/field. Once you get published (and you will-see how good that positive thing feels?) you will get hit with a bunch of nice or great reviews by people that get your story and love your characters. Brace yourself. You will also get someone that hates it. You’ll get someone who doesn’t understand, or can’t relate to your characters or say…all of your great ‘80’s references. And you know what? That’s okay. Nobody writes a story that everyone likes and just because that one reviewer speaks poorly of your beloved work, it doesn’t make that person an asshole. Read it and let it go. Or do as some in our field do and don’t read it at all.

No means no, and that’s okay, too.

I had only been writing for eight months when I did the unthinkable…I emailed one of my favorite horror writers and asked him if he would be willing to beta read the first three chapters of my very first novel. Was this ballsy? Maybe. But you know what? The worst I was going to get in response was NO. And that’s fine. But you know something? That writer said, “sure.” He read my first three chapters and gave me a bucket full of great advice. Nuggets like “even if you’re going to kill a character that only appears in one chapter, you MUST bring that character to life, otherwise it comes off like a big screen cheap thrill” …that’s not quite verbatim, but you get the gist. Since then, this writer has remained one of my mentors in the horror writing business. It pays to try. It pays to go forward with a positive mindset.

We can only control what we do, not what others do.

In our world as writers, we can only control what WE do. We write our story, compromise on parts when we have to, and sell our story to anyone willing to listen. That’s what we can do. Once you sign a contract, you become an employee. Once you work for someone else, you have to play by the rules and policies of that company. Regardless of what happens, you can always choose to quit, but if you signed your contract that story is staying put until its contracted time expires (there are exceptions, but hopefully you don’t run into a crazy publisher that intentionally fucks you-makes changes without your approval, refuses to pay you, etc.). But we’re staying positive, remember? Publishing is a business. It’s not always pretty, but you can only control what YOU do. Sometimes our bosses will make changes in management, marketing, and other venues for a variety of reasons. Some we understand, some we do not. It has happened in my day jobs too many times to count. It has also happened in my real job. It sucks, and it is scary, but I can only control what I do and the attitude that I carry forward. And that is what I choose to do. I took a few days to consider all of the information received and realized what in the heat of the moment I forgot, to stay positive, and that, I can only control what I do. It sounds naïve to some I’m sure, but I had to make myself look at the bigger picture. Right now, I’m walking in the big unknown. Only time can show us whether or not the shake up is for the best or not. Whether that happened to your Customer Service Manager at Wal-Mart or to the CEO of your Hospitality Group, only time will tell. If you want to keep your current job, you must learn to roll with it. You must learn to roll with the punches. You can always choose to punch out; I’m staying on the clock and getting back to what I control. I’m getting back to work.

Good, good, good, good vibrations…

Please put positive vibes out there, people. Life is full of cheap shots. We must learn how to take the hits and figure out how to keep moving forward.

I hope this post makes someone feel good.

Pay it forward. Lift up someone in your field or your life that you think deserves to know how much you think of them or their work.

Stay tuned!

-GR

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LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Blood and Rain: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

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Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Blood and Rain! – 

#BloodandRain #Werewolves #WereRolfe #Horrortober #horror #halloween #scaryreads

Blood and Rain Synopsis

The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.

Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.

Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past.

Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend? One night can-and will-change everything.

Find Glenn Rolfe at: http://glennrolfe.com/ or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Praise for Blood and Rain

Praise for Blood and Rain~

“A major new talent rises from the Maine woods…Rolfe is the real deal, and Blood and Rain is a classic monster novel, full of blood and teeth and the kind of razor sharp writing that makes the pages sing. Small town horror is back, with a vengeance!” –Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Sparrow Rock, Diablo: Storm of Light and Day One

“With slashing claws and blood-soaked fur, Blood and Rain will have you howling in terror and delight. A welcome addition to the werewolf mythos, and proof that we’re in the presence of a rising star in the genre. Highly recommended!” –Ronald Malfi, author of The Floating Staircase

“Rolfe tells a tale that captures your attention like King without all of the wordiness. He also spills the red stuff like Laymon…” – Into the Macabre

“Blood and Rain is a monumental piece of horror fiction. It represents everything I love about werewolves, creature features, siege films, and everything else in between. It is still early in the year, but this is a clear cut candidate for my favorite book of 2015.” — Horror Underground

“Wow! Easily one of the best werewolf books I’ve ever read.” – Hunter Shea, author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

“Some good ‘ol fashion violence and gore…” – Jason Parent, author of Seeing Evil

“Glenn Rolfe takes a swing at the werewolf genre and hits a home run.” – Russell James, author of Q Island and Dreamwalker

“…not just another werewolf story, Rolfe has managed to take the werewolf to a-whole-nother level…” – Horror Novel Reviews

“The best werewolf novel I’ve read since Jeff Strand’s Wolf Hunt.”–Horror After Dark

About Glenn Rolfe

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Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and the forthcoming, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will be released in March, 2016.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Excerpt

Stan Springs stared at the curse in the night sky. His curse. He clenched his jaw, and bit back the grunts that demanded release from within his sweat-covered body. His muscles tightened and took turns throwing fits. He could feel his heartbeat’s thunderous barrage at work inside his heaving chest. It was only a matter of minutes before the changes would come.

He ripped his gaze from the clouds, moved away from the window and knelt down next to the bed against the concrete wall. He slipped one shaky hand beneath the mattress and found the small incision he’d made when he first arrived at the institution. He had traded a guard, a heavyset fella by the name of Harold Barnes, his prized Ted Williams rookie card in exchange for a copy of the key. Parting with this gold mine had been necessary. Stan Springs had nothing else of value with which to barter. Harold trusted him enough to make the swap; he told Stan there were crazies here by the dozen, but he could tell that Stan was not one of them.

No, Harold, I’m something far worse.

Key in hand, Stan stepped to the unlocked door and cracked it open. The hallway was clear. He moved down the corridor, as stealthily as during his heydays working on the force in New York. Hearing footfalls ahead and to his left, he fell back and pressed his large frame against the custodial door. Hidden by the entryway’s shadow, he watched Nurse Collins—a tall, thin woman with a dark complexion—pass fifty feet from where he stood, before she disappeared into the nurses’ break room.

Barefoot and dressed in only a Red Sox T-shirt and his sleeping shorts, Stan made a break for the staircase across the hall. His breaths were coming faster now. If he didn’t hurry, he wouldn’t make it outside. He crept down the steps leading to the main hallway.

Through the small window on the stairwell door, he could see Harold Barnes’s haunted jowls illuminated by the laptop screen in front of him. The old man’s eyes were closed, his mouth open. Harold hadn’t even made it an hour into his shift before he was out. Stan knew Harold also ran his own antique shop in the neighboring town of Hallowell. He’d told Stan that working both jobs on the same day, which was sometimes unavoidable, made it difficult for him on the night shift. It was another shared nugget Stan had stored away for nights like this one—the nights the beast in him needed to get out.

Easing the door open, Stan skulked his way along the shadows on the wall, and tiptoed to the main entrance door. Despite the cramps now rampaging through his calves and thighs, he slipped the procured key into the lock, slow and steady. The door clicked open, and he stepped out into the night.

As the cool breeze brushed against the sweat of his brow, the tendons and bones in his face began to shift. The rest of his body followed suit. He dropped to one knee and cried out. His skin, his scalp, his eyes, his muscles were all too tight. He reached behind him and managed to push the door shut.

If you could see me now, Harold.

The private roads out front were deserted. He launched from the building’s stairs and landed on the lawn below, making a beeline for the woods to the left of the large property.

He was twenty feet from the forest when the change hit him like a massive wave, crashing him to the ground. His muscles clenched and squeezed and tore, while the bones of his face continued to crack and grow. His teeth began to fall out in place of the monster’s. Down on all fours, he crawled to the tree cover and vomited. A mix of last night’s cafeteria meat loaf, black coffee, loose teeth, and blood splashed the ferns before him. Stan’s fingers extended as his claws dug into the soft soil of spring’s floor. He moaned and grunted his way through the rest of the fluid process.

In full beast mode, Stan Springs stood and howled at the cloud-covered sky. The creatures of the night became ghosts among the trees. He felt the strength flowing through him and the hunger begging to be sated.

He burst forward, headed north. Despite Stan’s best effort to control the beast’s killing zone, he found himself heading home.

Giveaway

For a chance to win a print copy of Glenn Rolfe’s short story collection, Slush, or a chance to win your choice of any of his titles in e-book format, go to the link below for the Rafflecopter sign-up. Good luck! The print copy is only good for those in the United States. Questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b22/?

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Hunter Shea, who recently released his excellent new novel The Dover Demon (review) through Samhain Horror. I loved Hunter’s unique approach to the famous cryptid sighting and the exploration of the “what happens after” aspect of paranormal experiences and I highly recommend this novel to horror fans and those who are fascinated by creepy, unexplained phenomena. Check out Hunter’s post below to hear about his own UFO experience. I have a huge interest in UFOs and aliens (despite them scaring the hell out of me), so I would like to thank Hunter for sharing his story with The Horror Bookshelf!

Before I turn over the blog to Hunter, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed print copy of The Dover Demon!

Out of this World

By Hunter Shea, Author of The Dover Demon

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I’ve never had a close encounter with a being from another world, but I did see something in the sky one night that deeply affected the way I view our place in the cosmos.

It was an early evening in the fall of 1987. My sister needed to be picked up from her job at Kids R Us at the mall. For some reason, three of us piled in the car to get her – my mother, my girlfriend (who is now my wife), and me. My mother drove, even though I was 19 and had my own car. We went to the top of the small parking garage and waited for sis to come out. It had been a nice day, giving way to a clear night.

I got out of the car to get some air, staring at the headlights of passing cars on the New York State Thruway behind us. Suddenly, cars started to slow down, pulling over to the shoulder. First it was one, then another, then several that were going in the opposite direction. People got out of their cars, all of them looking at the sky.

My first thought was, what the hell are they looking at? I craned my neck back to see what all the fuss was about. It couldn’t be a blimp. They flew over all the time. What I saw knocked the breath from my lungs.

In the middle of a star-filled sky was a huge black mass, slowly moving overhead. There were very bright lights on the edges of the mass, solid orbs emitting a white/yellow glow. I could track its movement by watching stars disappear behind it while others reappeared as it hovered to the south. Its size was breathtaking. I know people always use the football field analysis when they try to describe things like this. For my money, I would say it was roughly the size of two baseball fields.

The most terrifying part is that it didn’t make a single sound.

When my sister got to the car, she joined all of us as staring at this silent, floating city. She immediately started crying, begging for us to leave and just get home. My mother, girlfriend, and I were too entranced to move. We watched it progress down the highway, heading for New York City.

Eventually, we got in the car, keeping it in our sights. By the time we got to my house, the craft was turning towards New Jersey. Then the incredible entered the realm of the fantastical. Whatever it was exploded with light, zooming toward the heavens without making a single sound until it disappeared. My heart raced so hard, I could barely breathe. We looked at each other, dumbfounded. Was that what we think it was?

It made the paper the next day. Thousands of people witnessed the same thing. The official explanation – lightweight planes flying in formation. How those planes blacked out the stars between them could never be explained.

Needless to say, my passing interest in UFOs went into overdrive. I didn’t go full on conspiracy theorist, but I have educated myself as much as possible to all the potentialities. I do know one thing. We are not the only creatures in this vast universe. The question now is, what did we see that night? What have millions of people witnessed in the skies over the past 70 years, if not more?

In the words of the post on Fox Mulder’s wall – I WANT TO BELIEVE.

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Purchase The Dover Demon: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

Dover Demon tour logo

Follow along the tour using the hashtags #TheDoverDemon #HunterSheaLovesCryptids #Monsters #Cryptozoology #cryptids

Hunter-loren-museum

A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon. 

Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link: http://huntershea.com/2015/08/30/the-dover-demon-raises-his-round-little-head-cryptid-novel-release-day/

The Dover Demon Info and Synopsis

  • File Size: 1032 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2015

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

About Hunter Shea 

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Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk MonsterTortures of the Damned, Sinister EntityForest of ShadowsSwamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal,  and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors, and anyone else living in the horror lane.

He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaways

On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIx/?

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from author Ronald Malfi, who recently released his excellent new novel Little Girls (review) through Kensington. I absolutely loved this genre-bending novel and not only would I recommend this to other horror fans, but fans of other genres as well. Check out Ron’s post below to learn about the importance of titles and how he came up with the titles for some of his books.

Before I turn over the blog to Ron, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates which run through August I believe and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book!

WHAT’S IN A NAME,

or WHY THE FBI IS PROBABLY MONITORING MY EMAILS AND GETTING READY TO SERVE SUBPOENAS ON THE STAFF OF THE HORROR BOOKSHELF

by Ronald Malfi

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I’m a big fan of a good title. I labored over this when considering the title of my current work in progress, and whenever I’m writing, no matter how deep I get into a novel, it never seems wholly real until I’ve got a title to slap on the front page. A good one. In fact, more often than not, the title of a story is usually one of the first things I come up with, as it’s sort of tied hand-in-hand with the story itself. Shitty book titles are just the pits, man, and there are some particularly bad ones in the horror genre—titles that sound like the author pulled two random words from some hat, a variation on Mad Libs for the dark arts. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. (And no, I’m not going to list real-world examples.)

Some may argue that I’m guilty of this very sin. In particular, I’ve heard readers comment on the peculiarity of the title to my novel Floating Staircase. “Seriously?” they say. “Floating what? This is a ghost story?” Yeah, I get it, but for me, man, I just loved that title. And it wasn’t until the title jumped in my head that the whole book came together. (Prior to that, Staircase’s working title was Rooms of Glass, which I also liked, but it didn’t fit the story as well. I believe my protagonist Travis Glasgow’s publisher is called Rooms of Glass Books in the final novel, or at least in one iteration of the manuscript.)

Similarly, it was one afternoon when the name “Skullbelly” jumped in my head for no apparent reason. With it came the image of a Bigfoot-esque humanoid creature whose belly would distend as it devoured its meals—which, in the case of the novella I wrote based on this idea, happened to be a trio of young campers. The skin would stretch taut to near translucence so that the bones of this creature’s victims could be glimpsed in mid-digestion. And just like that, on the power of a single name, a single word for a title, the entire novella Skullbelly formed in my head.

And if I can be blamed for the somewhat uninspired title of my 2010 thriller The Ascent, rest assured that when it was published overseas in India, the title was changed to the more enigmatic Canyon of Souls.

Which brings me to my newest novel, Little Girls. I’ll admit off the bat that my wife came up with the title. Prior to her suggestion, I had been using the working title Sadie, which is the name of the evil little girl in the novel. I felt the book had an old-school horror feel, and wanted to allude to novels of that ilk, such as Peter Straub’s Julia, Stephen King’s Carrie, and books like that. But I agreed with my wife (as I often do), and went with the catchier title Little Girls.

Everything was fine for a while. But then the emails from my agent started coming in, subject lines going something like “Let’s Talk About Little Girls” or “How Far Have You Gotten With Little Girls?” Once the book was sold and I began corresponding with my editor and his staff, as well as my publicist, email subject lines began getting more and more…well…awkward. When the publicity photos showed up in my inbox, my wife happened to be peering over my shoulder and glimpsed the subject line “LITTLE GIRLS PHOTOS!” And if you think that’s bad, you should have seen some of the early iterations of the hashtags on Twitter about the book. We finally settled on #LittleGirlsMalfi, which is bad enough, although I feel some of the earlier attempts were even worse.

Nonetheless, I dig the title. I think it’s perfect for the book, despite all those weird email subject lines and Twitter hashtags. And if the FBI is monitoring my computer—and maybe yours, too, since you’re reading this—we’ll all have a viable excuse for when they come knocking on our door. Although your neighbors may not believe it.

So grab a copy of the book and give it a read this summer, preferably while at the beach or while riding some form of mass transit. This way, you may just have a stranger come up to you and ask how far you’ve gotten with Little Girls.

Happy reading, you creeps.

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Little Girls tour logo

About Little Girls

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From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…

When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Purchase Little Girls: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
FearNet

Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”—Suspense Magazine

About Ronald Malfi

Malfi headshot

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. 


He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at www.ronmalfi.com.

Giveaway

Sign up to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls by Ronald Malfi by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter link below. Be sure to follow the specifics you can do each day to gain more entries.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjE4/?

Today I am happy to be hosting a guest post by Samhain Horror author Matt Manochio as part of the blog tour for his debut novel, The Dark Servant. Matt talks about one of the only novels that managed to scare him as he was reading it. Check out Matt’s post below to see what book that was and the inspiration it provided for The Dark Servant! Be sure to check out the end of this feature for details on a pretty cool giveaway from Matt Manochio and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity! My review for The Dark Servant will be posted on December 3, so be sure to stop back and check out what I thought of the book.

 

DarkServant_The_v4

Thank you to The Horror Bookshelf for hosting me and for reviewing my book. As I write this, I don’t know what The Horror Bookshelf thinks of The Dark Servant. We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight the one novel that, as I sat reading it, scared me to the point where my pulse raced.

Books typically don’t spook me. Movies scare me because they provide the visuals and audios—books don’t. Authors provide the words and you use them to paint the picture and turn the phonograph.

Frank Peretti’s Monster, came out in 2005, and I didn’t pick it up until a few years later. I’d never heard of either the author or book, but the cover caught my attention and I read the jacket copy. It intrigued me enough to buy. Mission accomplished on the publisher’s side. Here’s a bare-bones description:

A husband and wife venture into Idaho woodlands. They camp out the first night and hear unholy screams in the darkness. The husband witnesses a gigantic beast snatch his wife and bound into the darkened forest. Now he’s hell bent on rescuing her.

There’s certainly more to it than that, and truth be told I don’t rank it anywhere near the top of my favorite books list. But Frank did something only one other author—Stephen King, in Pet Sematarymanaged to do. And Frank did it better.

The Pet Sematary scene was simple enough: Louis and Jud went walking in the woods (at night, of course) to the graveyard. Stephen’s description of their journey through the dark woods gave me the chills. (Truth be told, I was in either middle or high school when I read it, and didn’t bother finishing the book. And it wasn’t because those few lines frightened me into not wanting to keep going. It didn’t hold my attention. Hey, it happens.)

Monster scared me when the campers first hear pained cries made by some unseen horror in the woods. Frank wrote it in such a way that I could hear the screams—or at least imagine the terror those campers felt not knowing what made them. Frank’s description of those tormented cries, and the frightened campers’ reactions to them, let loose the butterflies in my stomach and chest. My house was quiet, nobody was home when I read it. My attention was on that book and that scene. And it creeped me out. I remember thinking at the time: this doesn’t happen to me. It amazed me that Frank was able to pull it off. I don’t want reprint the passages here word for word. I want you to discover them for yourself, if you’re so inclined. (And yes, I finished Monster.)

I attempt to pay homage to Frank early in my book. Monster was running through my mind as I wrote the scene in December 2012. And I honestly hope it jangles readers’ nerves as they read.

– Matt Manochio

Matt tour graphic 1

About Krampus

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

 The Dark Servant Synopsis and Praise

Santa’s not the only one coming to town …

It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!”
Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!”
Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.”
Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!”
David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.”
Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.”

Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.”
Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.”
John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.”
Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.”
Jon McGoran, author of Drift

About Matt Manochio

MattHeadshot

Photo Credit: Eric Schnare

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer. The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s LotJurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

See more about Matt and his book on his website: http://www.mattmanochio.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MattManochio) and Pinterest.

Tour Giveaway!

For everyone! Create a Pinterest board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.

Second rule: You must pin Matt’s book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link.

Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.

Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.

Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!

Prize: A “Santa Checked His List and I’m on the Naughty Side” package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

There might be shipping limitations. Check back to tour page before entering if you live outside the U.S. for updated information.

Example:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/its-old-world-christmas/

And a board about Matt:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/the-dark-servant-matt-manochio/

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Dark Servant on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Matt Manochio) at hookofabook@hotmail.com, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

I am excited to welcome back Hunter Shea to The Horror Bookshelf! Hunter is back with a guest post about his latest novel, Hell Hole, and the Weird West genre. I am a huge fan of Hunter’s work, and Hell Hole is a wild thrill ride of a novel that is packed with horrifying entities and a must- read for horror fans. You can check out my review here if you happened to miss it the first time around. Check out his post below to learn about the Weird West genre, the inspiration behind Hell Hole and some other great authors! Be sure to pick up a copy of Hell Hole, I would also like to give a very big thank you to Hunter for his awesome guest post and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for allowing me to take part in the tour!

Weird West meets Hell Hole

Hell Hole

Did you know there was a subgenre of horror/sci-fi called Weird West? I actually had no idea these types of stories had a specific classification, even though I’d read a few books and had written my own, Hell Hole.

Now, what is Weird West fiction? According to our old friend, Wikipedia, it’s defined as : “a literary sub-genre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre,[1] usually horror, occult, or fantasy.”

My first experience with this very special, wonderfully strange genre, was through comic books in the 70’s and 80’s, all within the pages of Jonah Hex – that burned up, seemingly immortal arbiter of justice in the wild west. As a kid, I just thought he was cool as hell, a superhero that was also a cowboy and mean as a pitbull. Jonah Hex combined my love for cowboy tales and horror.

As I got older, I found the amazing tales of Joe R. Lansdale, one of my literary heroes, in my local library. The first book I read was Zeppelins West, a mélange of western, horror, science fiction and humor. I’d never read anything like it and was blown away. I promised myself that one day, I’d write a book in that same vein, as Lansdale seemed to have the same loves as me. My practice run was my college honors thesis on cowboy culture in America. No horror there, but at least I was getting the history down.

Cut to many moons later. Embarking on my fifth book for Samhain Publishing, I said, “It’s time, dammit. Let’s circle the wagons, build a fire and tell one whopper of a tale.” Over the course of 3 feverish months, I spun the story of Hell Hole. Set in 1905, a decade after the official days of the wild west were dead and gone, a hero was born in the person of Nat Blackburn, former cowboy, Apache scout, Rough Rider and now New York copper. Of course, he had to have a right hand man, a mysterious bad ass called Teta, a Dominican gun for hire who had saved Nat’s life in Cuba under Colonel Roosevelt.

Sending them into what is today an actual abandoned mining town, Hecla, Wyoming, I threw the kitchen sink at my boys. Writing it was like immersing myself in absolute stream of conscious. The story is littered with ghosts, black-eyed kids, wild men (what we call Bigfoot today), and so many other bizarre creatures, I almost couldn’t keep up. When people asked me what I was writing, I’d say, “Uh, well, it’s this kind of horror western with lots of nuttiness and men being men.”

If I only knew I could have answered the question with 2 simple words : Weird West. That would have made things so much easier.

So now I’m one of those Weird West guys, along with writers like Lansdale, Eric Red and Jonathan Janz. That’s some pretty good company.

Think I’ll go out and buy me a new spittoon.

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal and Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thrillerMontauk Monster is published by Kensington/Pinnacle.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. His next book from Samhain Horror, titled Hell Hole, is set to come out in August 2014 and is his first western horror.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.