Sunday, December 31, 2017

Money Back Guaranteed by Hunter Shea

Your money back or your life...

The Mail Order Massacres trilogy is over?! Say it ain't so! The first book was about sea monkeys, while the second book consisted of X-Ray glasses. Money Back Guarantee deals with a cardboard nuclear submarine. All of these items are advertised in the back of comic books. 

Dwight sees the advertisement for the nuclear submarine in the back of a Spider-Man comic book. He immediately wants it. After all, the submarine is only $1.99! Dwight's mom, Rosemary, buys it for him. After it arrives, Dwight tests it out. He almost drowns in his test run. Rosemary wants her money back. That's when things get bizarre!

Hunter Shea is a tour de force! He delivers the goods every single time! His stories are packed with nostalgia. The 1980s are alive and well in the Mail Order Massacres trilogy. The nod to 1980s comic books and Tupperware parties brought back some fond childhood memories. To be honest, I wish there were more books in this series. I want more Mail Order Massacres!

Highly Recommend!

5/5 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐




The Marque by Michael Patrick Hicks

The Marque is great! It is tight and entertaining. I'm a sucker for tentacles and aliens. It is sci-fi/horror with a touch of western style. When I started reading this short story, news outlets were reporting on a UFO video. Coincidence? I think not.

The Marque is set in the near future. The world has fallen beneath the rule of alien invaders. The aliens wipe out the technology infrastructure. The remnants of humanity are divided into two camps: those who resist, and those who serve. Bastion leads a resistance cell. Darrel Fines serves the Marque–he's also a Benedict Arnold.

The aliens are vicious and wicked. They turn humans into slaves. The aliens set up "breeding farms" as well. Humanity is at the lowest rung of the new world order, and resistance is their only chance of survival.

MPH can write! With this short story being only 57 pages, MPH delivers a great read. It is a quick read, but the scenes make it feel like a full-length novel. MPH unpacks a great amount of detail in so little time–this makes the story even better. The scenes are evocative. The characters are authentic and believable. The storyline is fluid. Overall, The Marque is a great story. 


Highly recommend!

5/5 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Bay's End by Edward Lorn

Officer Mack Larson is not everything he appears...

Edward Lorn dropkicks you in the feels with this book. Bay's End is equal parts raw and gritty. It's a hair-raising story that contains ample amounts of twists and turns.

Twelve-year-old best friends, Trey and Eddy, play a prank on Officer Mack. The prank causes a ripple effect that shakes the small town of Bay's End. On the surface, Bay's End seems like the ideal town, but underneath it all, there is something far sinister than anyone can imagine.

Bay's End is written from Trey Franklin's point of view. Trey is older, but he is still haunted by his childhood. The only way Trey can tackle his past is by writing about it.

Trey and Eddy are your average best friends who like to get into a little mischief everyone now and again. Bay's End is a brutal coming of age story. It has everything that you are looking for and more. There is first loves, horrific reveals, and twists that will blow your mind. 

The dread starts building from the beginning and doesn't stop until the explosive climax. The writing style is solid and the storyline is hiccup-free. The characters feel real, and the issues they face are horrendously real. That ending will punch you in the chest. 


Highly Recommend! 

5/5 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, December 23, 2017

SIPHON by A.A. Medina

There is an urge inside you...

Dr. Gary Philips is the resident hematopathologist at Claybrook Medical Center. He is quite lonely. He struggles with several things pertaining to his job. He hates his boss, but he is obsessed with his co-worker. Gary also has to deal with his abusive grandfather. 

Nothing seems to be going Gary's way until a workplace mishap changes everything. After the accident, he becomes empowered to pursue his fantasies. 

Siphon is a great, enthralling read! The cover intrigued me, but the story blew me away. The writing is immaculate. There are a couple of scenes that are vivid, but there is one in particular that stands above the rest. The scene is written so well that I can't get the image out of my head–it's that disturbing. Siphon is a book about body horror, but it is so much more than that. The characters feel real. A. A. Medina has a great main character in Gary. He is lacking and vulnerable, which makes the story better. 

Siphon is a swift read that will grip you from the first page. The storyline is seamless. The ending is equal parts brutal and beautiful. A. A. Medina has arrived! 

Highly recommend!

5/5 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Interview With Michael Patrick Hicks





CHHR: When did you start writing horror?

MPH: About twenty years ago. I’ve been writing horror for as long as I’ve been writing, which began way back when in a high school creative writing course.

I spent a few decades writing as a hobby before moving into freelance journalism with some local publications, and then decided to release my first novel, a sci-fi cyberpunk title called Convergence, after it became a quarter-finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Publisher’s Weekly loved it, gave me a great review, and I figured I should put it out there and see what happens.

Once that was out, I needed a bit of a palate cleanser as it were, and shifted gears back to horror with the writing and release of my novelette, Consumption. I spent a few years kind of going back and forth between sci-fi and horror, even sometimes melding the two depending on the story, but have always found myself gravitating more naturally to horror.

No matter what genres I’ve written in over the years, it always, always, leads back to horror.

CHHR: What scares you?

MPH: I was going to say spiders, but the truth is that now that I’m a parent of two, I’ve found that I’m scared of a lot more than I had ever thought. It’s all the unknown stuff that scares the hell out of me now. Getting those middle of the day text messages when I’m at work from the wife or babysitter asking me to call and there’s that slight moment of panic where I’m scared of what happened. When my oldest first started learning how to walk and climb up on things, he split his lip open, screamed up a storm, got blood everywhere. That was one of the scariest moments as a still-new parent.

CHHR:  What does your writing schedule look like?

MPH: It looks very unscheduled, very erratic and disorganized. When I began working on a new project, I used to have a personal mandate of a thousand words a day until it was finished. With two small children in the house and a full-time day job, that mandate is pretty well dead and buried. Now I write whenever I can, in those small moments of calmness when the kids are in bed, or I’m on a lunchbreak at work. It’s all about flexibility now, just doing whatever I can, whenever I can, however I can get it done. I’ve even installed a web-based word processor on my phone so I can write on the go, and access the document when I’m at home online.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?

MPH: I don’t have time for quirks! Even when I wasn’t lost in the middle of the parenting tornado, I don’t think I had really any quirks outside of simply having to write.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

MPH: It varies by project. Typically, I have a very, very rough outline of what the story is, and that’s just really the beginning, middle, and end. Once I get through the beginning, I am aiming toward those other two benchmarks. And that’s usually about as in-depth as my outlines get. I’m very much down with simply going with the flow for the most part.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

MPH: The editing experience, more than anything else, had the largest impact on my writing process. Many of the lessons learned then have since been ingrained in me, and I’m a lot more cognizant of avoiding things like infodumps, what my crutch words are and ironing those out of the manuscript, and building better sentences right from the get-go.

CHHR:  What do you think makes a good story?

MPH: Characters, first and foremost. I need believable characters, particularly if the story itself is pretty fantastical and unbelievable. And I’m not talking about likeable characters, just simply believable characters. I’ve seen great stories ruined by shitty, paper-thin, cardboard cutout characters, and I’ve seen not-so-great stories made bearable because of the characters. Obviously, if you have great characters and a great story, you’ve got a great book, so always strive for both! But I think characters carry the day more often than not.

CHHR: What do you think makes a great character?

MPH: Their story, which is not necessarily the story of the book itself. Characters need to have their own stories, their own motivations, which can sometimes be pretty incidental to the plot.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

MPH: Right now I’m prepping for the release of a new novella, Broken Shells, which will be out Feb. 6, 2018. I’ll be reviewing paperback proofs very soon and getting everything finalized for that title’s launch.

Writing-wise, I am working on the third book in a trilogy of historical horror novellas that will hopefully be out late-2018. I’ve been plotting out a short story and jotting down some notes for it, and that will be my next project. And then it’ll be on to writing another novel.

CHHR: What authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

MPH: Lucas Bale and Alex Roddie put together a couple anthologies a few years back, and Lucas invited me and several others aboard. We had formed a small group and critiqued each other’s works for those anthologies, provided sounding boards for one another, and offered suggestions. Alex and Lucas worked together to edit all our stuff, and they had plenty of great feedback that helped improve the stories all the more. We were all pretty early into our careers then, with, I think, most of us having only one book out at that point. But it was an encouraging little band of upstarts from all around the world to have as a young, newly-published author, and the anthologies gave us a bit of room to maneuver and explore topics we might not have otherwise.


CHHR: What’s in your TBR pile?

MPH: Oh god. So freaking much. I’ve got a slew of Kealan Patrick Burke, Ronald Malfi, Craig Saunders, Edward Lorn, Brian Keene, JF Gonzalez, and Chuck Wendig titles I want to get caught up on. And tons of other stuff besides. There’s some Valancourt Books and Word Horde titles I’ve been meaning to get to, some stuff from Journalstone. Richard Chizmar’s short story collection, a handful of Stephen King titles I haven’t gotten around to. Those are the ones right off the top of my head, but god there’s just so much in my TBR pile. It’s ever-growing.

CHHR: What’s the horror scene like in Michigan?

MPH: Pretty cool, actually. We have the annual Motor City Nightmares convention, which I haven’t made it to yet unfortunately. It’s on my bucket-list. I’m a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writer’s, and they’re a very active group, always attending regional events like local comic cons and horror conventions. I hope to be able to do more with them in the New Year. Michigan is also home to some great talent. We’ve got Tim Curran in the UP, and Josh Malerman, Kathe Koja, and Mark Matthews are in the Detroit area. The Horror Writers Association recently announced they’ll be holding StokerCon in Grand Rapids in 2019. So I think the horror scene in Michigan is pretty strong and healthy.

CHHR: If you could have a beer with one horror author, who would it be?

MPH: Kealan Patrick Burke. Besides being a horror author, he’s also an amazing cover artist. He did the covers for Mass Hysteria and Broken Shells, and I feel I owe him a few beers just for those. But I’d like to pick his brain over his writing process and see what I can learn/steal from him. He’s an amazing writer, and the amount of heart and emotional manipulation he packs into so few pages is mind-blowing.

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

MPH: Probably a cat. Cats mostly just want to be left alone to sleep all day, which is how I feel more often than not.

CHHR: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and trying to get published?


MPH: Finish your book, first and foremost. If you are going the indie route, get your work edited by a professional, and get your cover designed by a professional. Find a real cover artist and a real editor. It will be expensive, but it will also be worth it. When you release a book, it has to be top-notch, high quality stuff. Well-edited, well-designed, well-formatted. Put your best foot forward. Releasing a half-assed book tells the world of readers you are not ready for this business. Oh, yeah, you also have to realize this is a business. Writing as a hobby is terrific, but if you are going to publish, you need to understand that writing is also a business.


Author Bio:

Michael Patrick Hicks has worked as a probation officer, a comic book reviewer, news writer and photographer, and, now, author. His work has appeared in various newspapers in Michigan, as well as several The University of Michigan publications, and websites, such as Graphic Novel Reporter and Leelanau.com. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from The University of Michigan in Journalism & Screen Studies and Behavioral Science. His first novel is CONVERGENCE.



Synopsis:

The world has fallen beneath the rule of alien invaders. The remnants of humanity are divided into two camps: those who resist, and those serve.

Darrel Fines serves. He is a traitor, a turncoat who has betrayed his people, his wife, and most of all, himself. In this new world order, in which humanity is at the very bottom, Fines is a lawman for the violent and grotesque conquerors.

When the offspring of the Marque goes missing, Fines is charged with locating and recovering the alien. Caught in the crosshairs of a subdued worker's camp and the resistance cell that he was once allied with, Fines is forced to choose between a life of servility and a life of honor.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Interview With Edward Lorn





CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

E:  I don’t think I ever consciously decided to be a writer. I was a horrible liar as a kid. I liked letting my imagination run wild, no matter where it took me or who was listening. I only started writing everything down because I was constantly in trouble for telling stories during Show-and-Tell that weren’t real. Believable, but fiction all the same. For instance, I told my first grade class how my baby brother had died over the weekend. There I was, little six-year-old me, telling a story so convincing that I had the teacher crying. Unfortunately, the story was so compelling and believable that my teacher called my mother to express her condolences. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, not only did my baby brother not die, but I never had a baby brother to begin with. Boy, did I get my ass beat that night. But the next day my mother bought me a typewriter and told me she and my teacher had spoken at length about my stories, and they both felt it was a good idea if I wrote this stuff down instead of telling my stories as if they were true. That was thirty years ago, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?

E: Up at five. Watch Good Mythical Morning on YouTube (any Mythical Beasts in the house?). Once my morning shows are over, I head out to the office. Write/edit until the words stop coming, or my back starts hurting from sitting in my chair, and then I go inside. My office is on the same property as my house, but removed from the main structure. Like a shed, but with all the perks of an office: electricity, books, computer, heat and air, etc. If anyone reading this has seen my YouTube videos, the set in those videos is my office. Anyway, there’s nothing special about my process. I have to get my words out before I play on social media or I write less, I’ve found. That’s the only reason I get up so early, because not many people I associate with are up at that hour, including my family.

When I’m done with a book, it goes into a cyber-trunk for a few months while I write the next one and edit the one I completed before the one that’s now in the trunk. So, no matter what, I’m always editing something old, writing something new, and letting one marinate, all at the same time. Been doing it that way for almost a decade and don’t plan on changing any time soon.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?

E: Not sure if this is a quirk, but most writers strip away during the editing process, at least I’ve found that to be the case. Whereas I’m constantly adding details I didn’t catch the first time through. Because of this, I’m one of those rare writers whose final drafts can be double the size of the rough draft, or at the very least, half as more. There’s only been one exception to this, and that was with Cruelty. The original draft was 175,000 words, but publishing as a serial required much trimming and rearranging, and the book lost 20,000 words in the process.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

E:  That varies from book to book. I used to be a dedicated pantser, meaning I went entirely with the flow, but more recently I’ve had to pitch ideas to publishers, which required plotting everything out in a detailed synopsis so that the acquisitions editor can get the gist of the entire novel before they decide to contract with me or not. If the book varies too far from the idea they purchased, I run the risk of having to repay my advance and the book never coming out.

I did, however, just finish a book for NaNoWriMo that wasn’t plotted in the least. I feel that’s still my favorite method of writing a book, so here’s hoping I’ll one day have a publisher that will allow me to write only by following the natural flow of the story.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

E: After publishing Bay’s End my hobby quickly became a profession. Problem was, I continued to treat it like a hobby.  I don’t think I really started taking the business side of things seriously until Cruelty because I ran into so many budgetary problems trying to publish that series. Since then, I’ve completely restructured how I go about publishing. There have been some hiccups, but it’s finally, this year, starting to run smoothly.  In the end, I think that’s the only thing that changed. My hobby became my job, and I now take seriously something I’ve been doing my whole life simply for the joy of doing it.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good story?

E:  For me it’s something original blended with a passionate voice and understandable characters. I can even take one if there’s not the other. For instance, I hate vampire novels, but ‘Salem’s Lot is a favorite novel of mine due to the way it’s written and the characters whose journey I’m following. Same with Jo Nesbø: cookie-cutter detective novels, but the way he writes is like no other (or perhaps I should be giving that credit to the dude who translates Nesbø’s books…) But every once in a while, I’ll come across a book that’s nothing special in the writing department, but the story blows my mind. Hasn’t happened in a long time, but it has occurred. For me, I think clarity of language and characters you can relate to make the best story, because if you cannot understand what the author’s saying, or a character’s motivation, what’s the use of a good plot?

CHHR:  What are you currently working on?

E:  I’m currently editing a novel entitled Everything is Horrible Now, for Thunderstorm books. It’ll be the fourth release of a limited-edition-hardcovers series they’re doing called All Things Lead To the End, which revolves around my fictional town of Bay’s End. I’m currently writing a mermaid story set on a crab-fishing boat. It’s probably the farthest outside of my comfort zone I’ve ever travelled, but I’m having a blast. And I just published my seventh novel, The Sound of Broken Ribs, on 19 December. That’s one’s currently available, if any of your readers wanna grab it.

CHHR: What authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

E:  Craig Saunders and Gregor Xane are both good friends and inspirations to me. Craig because he’s the only author I know who writes more than I do while maintaining a certain level of quality. Gregor, on the other hand, publishes very little, because whatever he publishes is near-fuckin-perfect. Together, Craig and Gregor both make me wanna strive to be quicker and slower, all at once, which might sound crazy, but let me explain. I speed through a first draft. Getting the story out is my only mission. After all, you cannot fix what doesn’t exist. I resemble Craig in that manner. But then I dwell over the story, sometimes completely forgetting about it while I’m writing the next one, and in that way, Gregor’s influence on me shows.

By the way, if you’re not reading either of these guys, you really should fix that. They’re both excellent and bizarre in the best possible ways.

CHHR: What’s in your TBR pile.

E:  Bruh, sometimes I wanna answer this question by asking a question of my own. What isn’t in my TBR pile? But, seriously, I need to read more Ronald Malfi (Bone White is one of my favorite releases this year), and I need to finish the Timmy Quinn series from Kealan Patrick Burke (his novella Blanky is another favorite of mine from 2017). I only have Nemesis left to read, but I’ve been putting it off because Burke publishes so damn little. I also have a load of non-fiction to read for my next project after the mermaid book, so The Beatles, by Bob Spitz, and Life, by Keith Richards, is also on my TBR. The new Caroline Kepnes book Providence… the new McCammon novel The Listener… Dude, there’s sooooooo much.

CHHR: What’s the horror scene like in Alabama?

E:  This I honestly have no idea about. I stay pretty much to myself around here. I know Robert McCammon lives around here, as does Blu Gilliard (managing editor of Cemetery Dance Magazine and Cemetery Dance Online), but other than that, I don’t think there is much of a horror presence here. Now I could be wrong, because I don’t get out much, but there you go. That’s the extent of my local-horror knowledge.

See, now I feel like I’m forgetting something or someone…

CHHR: How did you get involved with National Novel Writing Month? Has it helped your writing?

E:  Way back in the before times, before I published Bay’s End, I published a lot of short fiction on a certain writing website who will remain unnamed. Sorry, but I refuse to give them any promotion due to me being removed from their site for disagreeing with how the moderators ran things: deleting people’s stories without allowing them to be backed up first, censoring writing without the author’s permission, etc. Anyway, my point is, everyone on that site was doing NaNoWriMo the first year I was a member, so I decided to jump in. If nothing else, NaNoWriMo taught me that a rough draft doesn’t need to be any good. You have one goal: finish the book. You can decide later if it’s good enough to clean up and publish. But always finish because you never know what kind of beautiful statue is hiding in that stone you just extracted from the cliff side of your mind.

CHHR: If you could have a beer with one horror author, who would it be?

E:  Whenever this question is asked, my first response is always Stephen King, but I think that would be awkward, given that he quit drinking ages ago. So, if King were still a cocaine-addled alkie, I’d pick him. But out of plausible choices, I’d rather share a beer with Kealan Patrick Burke. The dude’s a hero of mine: from his writing to his cover designs to his pleasant persona to his work ethic. I mean, the dude is great at everything he does, even when it comes to simply existing. And I’d like nothing more than to have a drink with the guy and argue about whether or not Rob Zombie is a good filmmaker. (Spoiler alert: Burke is not a fan of Zombie’s films, yet I am.)

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

E:  Raccoon. Without a doubt, my spirit animal is a trash panda. I’m nocturnal, perpetually-uninvited, and I’ll eat damn-near anything. I’m unbearably curious, and I feel like the dark circles around my eyes are a testament to that. I want you to go to YouTube and search for “Raccoon running away” and allow it to be an accurate representation of me fleeing reality when I write.

CHHR: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and trying to get published?

E:  As I’ve said numerous times in this interview, finish the damn book. Don’t tweet or DM or PM or snail mail copies of your unfinished manuscript to published authors or close friends or even family members. That rough draft is for you and you alone. Nothing kills momentum better than showing off what isn’t completed. Because if one person offers a criticism, even constructive criticism, that wily beast Self Doubt will creep in and destroy all forward progress.

Finish. The. Book.

Then find someone you trust to be honest with you and ask them to read it. Tell them you want them to hurt your feelings. It’s the only way you’re going to get better. A pat on the back helps no one grow. It might inflate your ego and/or give you motivation to try again, but it’s never fixed anything.

When you’re all done, and the manuscript is as tight as you can possibly make it on your own, hire a professional editor (not your buddy who once got an A+ in English the last semester in high school, and not someone who moonlights as a poet/publicist/editor). You need someone who’s going to be honest with you. If you want to survive in this business, you’re going to have to realize that there’s a million other people seeking the same career path. You will be discouraged to see lazy authors finding success, and surprised at how little money amazing writers make, but all that matters is the quality of your own work.  Create something you can be proud of, something that you want representing you in the public eye.

Oh, and drink coffee. I hear it basically writes books for you. Or at least that’s what a Facebook meme told me.

Thanks for having me, Curtis. This was a lot of fun.


E.




Author Bio:
Edward Lorn (E. to his friends) is a reader, writer, and content creator. He's been writing for fun since the age of six, and writing professionally since 2011. He can be found haunting the halls of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Goodreads. 

E. lives in Alabama with his wife and two children. He is currently working on his next novel.






Synopsis:

Lei Duncan has it all: the ideal life, the perfect career, a loving husband. What more could someone ask for? It is with this in mind that Lei takes her morning run. 

Belinda Walsh has lost it all: her home, her husband, her mind. She thought she knew Dan, but one phone call changed all that. Now everything she’s known to be true is a lie. It is with this in mind that she goes looking for something—or someone—to destroy. 

When the lives of two strangers intersect, something will be born of the connection. For one of these two souls, the truth of the world will shift and morph into something powerful and dangerous. A darkness of the mind, a tear in sanity. 

And something will peek through that darkness, beckoned by the sound of broken ribs.