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Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Q&A with Hunter Shea


I have a guest on my blog today.

Hunter Shea writes awesome horror stories and has a very impressive backlist. And he's dropping in for a Q&A.

 
Hi Hunter. Congratulations on your latest release from Flame Tree Press.

Slasher movies are some of my favorites. Is SLASH a throwback to the 80s subgenre us horror fans know and love so much?

Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to write a slasher novel, but I needed to come up with the right killer. I was a teen in the 80s and feasted on everything from Friday the 13th to Maniac, The Slumber Party Massacre, and Microwave Massacre (a terrible movie, by the way). My ten best times in a movie theatre mostly involve watching Jason carve campers up while the crowd went wild. What people growing up today miss by watching horror movies at home is the shared experience. They were wild, wild nights. So, needless to say, a lot of ideas have been rattling around my brain pan for many years. Driving past the old, abandoned Nevele Resort in the Catskills, I suddenly had this concept of a killer called The Wraith. Wouldn’t it be cool to make a crumbling resort his home base? And wouldn’t it be fun to start the book through the eyes of a final girl who barely escaped The Wraith some years earlier? What would that do to not just her, but her friends and family and everyone associated with The Wraith’s victims? Once all of those questions started buzzing around, I had to sit down and write. 

When did you realise horror was the genre for you? 

Way too early. I mean, I was begging my father to wake me up when I was 6 so I could watch The Night Stalker with him. I’d been taken to drive-ins and local theaters to see every conceivable movie since I was a baby. Horror is the genre that stuck with me the most. As a teen, my walls were filled with either posters of girls in bathing suits (yes, I had the Farrah Fawcett in the red suit) or still shots of gory movies ripped from the pages of Fangoria. One wall would have a shrine to Victoria Principal next to heads being lopped off and Nazi werewolves from An American Werewolf in London blasting people away. I lived and breathed scary movies back then, and I still do now. 

I’ve noticed you have a thing for monsters and cryptids, when did your interest/fascination begin? 

Good old Leonard Nimoy and his series, In Search Of, got me hooked on Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. That show was both informative and downright creepy. I read every book I could find in the library about cryptids and monsters (there weren’t many). To me, it’s a natural progression from horror movies to potential real life monsters. It’s fun to write books about creatures people are familiar with and taking them to places maybe most people never even considered. 

It’s October, and for me that means celebrating Halloween all month. What do you do to celebrate the spooky season? 

First, I renamed the month many moons ago to Horrortober. Trademark pending. 😉 My goal each year is to watch at least one horror flick a day. When I’m done with each, I tweet out the movie and my rating system, which is x number of 9 tana leaves (for you Mummy fans). I also pick out certain books throughout the year that I save to read in Horrortober. My family and friends always meet up at the Chiller Theater con at the end of the month. And Halloween at the house is crazy. Last year, we got almost 600 trick or treaters. It’s a huge event for the neighborhood and the perfect way to cap off the season. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on my next Flame Tree Press novel, Misfits. It’s tense and it’s dark and it has a villain that I think quite a few people will recognize. It’ll be all complete and wrapped in a bloody bow by December. Your readers can follow my progress, and insanity, over at www.huntershea.com


Thank you so much for answering all of my questions. I look forward to reading more of your awesome books.

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I hope you enjoyed reading Hunter's very interesting Q&A as much as I did. 






Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 6 October 2019

ON THE NIGHT BORDER by James Chambers

Dark things stir in the night. When the world sleeps and quiet settles in, shadows assume sinister shapes, guilt and regret well up from the mind’s deepest recesses, and the lonely face their greatest fears. Darkness bares the secret truths whispered on the lips of the lost and the desperate. At night, terrors come alive. For those who journey too far into the dark, no escape remains—but there is a place from which to view these nightmares, a place…on the night border. 

The fifteen stories collected here come from the last edge of the light and deliver glimpses into the dreadful, the mysterious, and the strange. These stories offer readers unsettling and weird visions from across the border, visions out of history and from the world around us, visions of cosmic horror, personal madness, and agonizing heartbreak. 

A literary legend confronts the reality of a chaotic, uncaring universe. A young girl grows up in the shadow of a ferocious monster. A man seeks to kill his memories. Love defeats death in an odd world not unlike our own. An artist’s drawings unlock a terrifying truth of his adopted city. A mask burns. The mother of plagues offers a deadly future. 

Readers will find here all of these and many other visions of what lies on the far side of the line, including, by special arrangement, stories of Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak and Kolchak, the Night Stalker. Walk up to the edge. Listen to the whispers on the wind. Peer across at the terrors beyond from your vantage point…on the night border!


I was really excited when I received this collection of short stories because this is the first time I've read a book by James Chambers. And now that I have, I'll definitely want to read more.

Okay, this is going to be a long review because I've got a little something to say about every single story.


A SONG LEFT BEHIND IN THE AZTAKEA HILLS: 

What starts out as the sad thoughts of an artist who feels abandoned by love and muse going to a bar to drown his sorrows, soon turns into an unexpected encounter with a mathematician that throws him over the edge of memory and so much more... 

This is one trippy story that manages to twist mathematics, music, addiction, monsters and other dimensions together, while throwing in Jack Kerouac and heartbreak into the mix. 

MARCO POLO: 

A silly game turns into a horror story when one kid accepts the creepy dare of finding a mask inside a burnt-out store that is better left untouched... 

OMG, this situation escalated fast! It starts out harmless enough with one kid daring another to go and find something creepy. And when he does, they all get stuck playing a hideous game of tag with deadly consequences. 

LOST DAUGHTERS: 

All Drew wanted to do was help three girls who looked like they were going to jump from the bridge. Instead, he gets caught up in a nightmare that might be just what he needed... 

I loved everything about this story. The creepy girls. The Good Samaritan. The way it was written. The way the uncertainty and dread builds. And especially how it ends because sometimes, everyone needs to be reminded about what's really important in life. 

SUM'BITCH AND THE ARAKADILE: 

There's something in the woods that hunts the young. Jillian's mother told her so. Always warns the children about the Arakadile. But what's really going on is even weirder than she imagined...

I enjoyed this one. It's short, but definitely not sweet. It's also a really dense story, where so much about family, secrets and lies is twisted with the monster hunting them. Very clever tale! 

MNEMONICIDE: 

When you can't handle all the memories that haunt and hurt you, you might one day decide to kill them... 

This was quite the story. It's interesting, horrible and totally mad. The fact this man goes on a killing spree to free himself of the bad stuff is bonkers. But you know, it's very well writtem in a POV I usually don't like. And it's clever in its madness too. Plus, Angie... she was really something. ðŸ˜ģ 

THE MANY HANDS INSIDE THE MOUNTAIN: 

What starts out as a straightforward situation about a guy who loves his town and his girl, even though he's unfaithful, turns into a macabre Halloween celebration of bloody proportions... 

Yikes! This one really got me with it's sharp turn. A tale of deception, love, revenge and greed with an awesome horror twist. And there's plenty of candy to give everything that happens an extra bittersweet dose. Great story that proves everything has a price, and that some people aren't as clever as they think they are. 

WHAT'S IN THE BAG, DAD? 

Garde's business is struggling. The circus/carnival scene and its performers just don't pull in the crowds they used to. And now that his wife has been gone for a year, his grief threatens to overwhelm him...

I've kept this brief and don't go anywhere near the heart of this very sad story. I loved the carnival feel and the array of characters. The twist is also very, very cool. But like I said, so sad. 

THE DRIVER, UNDER A CHESHIRE MOON: 

The driver is speaking to the woman sitting in the passenger seat beside him. He's talking about violence against kids, showing his scrapbook, sharing a few bits about his life, and that's not all... 

OMG. This story! It starts out a little disorientating because this guy is talking and talking inside the claustrophobic confines of a car, but once the narrative steps back and the big picture starts to come into focus... Wow. 

What an amazing story. It's violent and totally unapologetic about it. It's disturbing but totally takes you into territory you don't expect. 

LIVING/DEAD: 

Phil and Gustav are two friends heading to a pub to do a bit of speed dating. One is there in search of love, the other is there for moral support. But they both live in a world where dead isn't always dead...

This was a lot of fun. A bit of a zombie tale with a wicked and very original twist. Yet, it's also takes a very interesting look at how society reacts to change, and how love can destroy, fulfill or complete someone.

THE CHAMBER OF LAST EARTHLY DELIGHTS: 

In a world where it's encouraged to commit suicide by entering the Government Lethal Chambers, one man's life is torn apart when his family is affected and reality blends into nightmare... 

This is one weird tale. Told as journal entries by a very unreliable narrator, I was instantly drawn into this macabre version of 1920s New York and the crap this man goes through. The imagery in this one is vivid and gross, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

ODD QUAHOGS:

Big Gene is a good guy with a few problems. But none as big as what's happened to his wife... 

Whoa. This was something! It's mysterious, weird, and all-so wonderful in a cosmic kind of way. There's a lot to love about this story, especially the easygoing style it was written in, even though there's a lot to be terrified about. You really need to be careful with what lurks beneath the water.

A WANDERING BLACKNESS:   

An interesting story about a man who feels he deserves so much more than he has, and winds up getting himself into a pretty dark corner...

With names like Blackapple and Zarnak, this was a trippy story featuring some dark mystical magic and plenty of selfish motivations.

KOLCHAK, THE NIGHT STALKER: THE LOST BOY: 

Carl Kolchak, supernatural investigator and reporter meets with a lady who is convinced her toddler is not her child. He accepts the challenge and discovers a very interesting situation bound to cause a lot of trouble... 

I love supernatural investigators. I don't mind if they're PIs, special cops, journalists, reporters, or even of the made-up variety. And the mystery at the heart of this one was one of my favourite scenarios. There were no surprises here, but I loved it just the same.

PICTURE MAN: 

Ethan wakes up in hospital and doesn't remember how he got there. Even after reading about it in newspapers and on TV, he can't remember what happened in the subway. And when the memories start trickling in, he might wish he didn't know... 

Another great story! This one is about amnesia after an attack, and how sometimes not remembering a bad incident might be a blessing in disguise. Because what Ethan discovers is pretty nasty.

RED MAMI:

When sickness hits a village, it starts taking everyone with it... 

This one was just okay for me. Maybe it was because the subject matter was too real and the supernatural aspects didn't hit the right note for me.


Well. Wow. This book is certainly packed with dark delights. There's something here for everyone, and because I love variety in my horror, this was perfect.

Not only was there variety in the subgenres, but also in the writing style. These tales are full of nice narrators, bad narrators, unreliable accounts, interesting people, horrible people, monsters and everything in between. They're also told in first, second and third-person POVs, and everything works together very well.

I enjoyed the hell out of all fifteen stories, but my most faves were: Lost Daughters, The Driver, Under a Cheshire Moon, The Chamber of Last Earthly Delights, Odd Quahogs, Kolchak, the Night Stalker: The Lost Boy. These were the ones that really stood out for me.

On the Night Border is an outstanding short story collection by a very talented author. Every tale is different, but all cover some sort of nightmarish situation. Plus they all have one thing in common: they hooked me in right away and kept me there. 

I loved this collection!

I'd like to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy of this great book. I will definitely add this to my Keeper Shelf.





Friday, 4 October 2019

AN INVITATION TO DARKNESS by Hailey Piper

An Invitation to Darkness (Short Sharp Shocks!, #33)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few months ago, I had a novelette published under the very cool Short Sharp Shocks! series by Demain Publishing. Since then, I've been slowly buying some of the other books.

I decided to start with this one because I've been looking forward to reading it since I first heard about it on Twitter.

Captain Jamie Thames has decided to leave the high seas and wants to take her wealth to a quiet place where she can settle down. This leads her to the coastal village of Lucre Shores and Leavenworth Manor. A place that manages to enchant her as much as the lovely Lady Elizabeth Leavenworth.

But Leavenworth Manor has secrets hidden in its depths, and Jamie is determined to discover them all...

I read this excellent gothic tale in one sitting because I couldn't stop. The story dragged me in instantly, and demanded I keep reading until I discovered all the creepy mysteries alongside Jamie.

And I'm glad I did because it's filled with all the elements I love so much about gothic horror.

I also loved Jamie's voice. She's such an independent woman during a time when they weren't supposed to be. But she's strong, stubborn, passionate and such a romantic. When she sets her sights on this freaky manor and envisions what it can become, nothing (or no one) is going to get in her way.

The atmosphere was also great. The sense of location vivid. And the creepy factor was pretty high. Not to mention the pacing, which heightened the suspense.

I loved this dark tale of love, ghosts and curses.


Monday, 30 September 2019

THE APOCALYPTIC MANNEQUIN by Stephanie M Wytovich

Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats. 

This is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who—or what—lives inside us once everything is taken away. 

These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive. 

What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are. 

So tell me: who will you become when it’s over?


I was really excited when I received a paperback copy of this really nice book last week and couldn't wait to read it. I mean, look at that creepy/pretty cover, and the title.

So, as soon as I finished The Institute, I got stuck into it.

There are 90 amazing poems included in this collection. They come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is a surreal and very traumatic quality that sends your mind floating in a river of blood and ash, littered with the bones of the suffering.

I felt the pain and loss in every word. Saw the devastation with every line. And couldn't turn away. The more I read, the more I craved.

The way each poem painted a terrifying picture glowing with radioactive brightness, was only enhanced by the bleak clips that were playing inside my head. I felt like I was inside each poem, so scared of getting trapped, yet not wanting to escape because so much of the destruction was layered with beauty.

The macabre and the lovely twisted together in a way that still haunts me after reading the last word.

Usually, when I read a short story and/or poetry collection, I single out my favourites. I'm not going to do that with this book because, to me, every poem fits together in its own unique way. 

The sequence was perfect, and although I know they were individually written and self-contained, my mind totally perceived every end of days fragment as one brilliant masterpiece.

I think horror poetry is definitely something I need to read more of. Not to mention more of Stephanie M. Wytovich's work.

Apocalyptic Mannequin is as disturbing as it is elegant. It made me feel like I was lost in one of my own personal nightmares about the world dying after careless, greedy men choose to destroy the planet rather than admit they were wrong. I felt like I was a kid back in the 80s, constantly scared about the threat of nuclear war becoming our horrid reality. And just like I did then, when I read and watched as many doomsday stories as I could even though my distress was as deep as it was strong, I devoured every bit of this collection with raw terror beating inside my chest.

This truly feels like falling into a nightmare full of awful images told through beautiful words. A nightmare with a broken landscape full of death and ruin, dripping with dreamy and stunning imagery.

I'd like to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy of this book. It's one I will cherish and add to my Keeper Shelf.





Saturday, 28 September 2019

End of September WIP Thoughts

Hey! How are you today?

Well, the last week of the month is here and it's time to post an update. 😀

At the beginning of this week, my head was crowded with so much story stuff--including the ending--that I knew I was close to the finish line. It was just a matter of getting there.

So, after 4k-word days on Monday & Tuesday, I did reach the end. But not The End. That happened on Thursday, after I re-read my frenzied words and added another 1k:

That's right. The first draft of my gothic horror WIP is DONE at 50,263 words.

It turned to be a creepy, nightmarish haunted house story with a twist. It's bleak and features two characters that surprised me at every turn. Also, I really enjoyed writing this little tale of spooky goodness.

From the beginning (back in April, before life got in the way) I wasn't sure how long this story would be, so I gave up guessing. That turned out to be the best thing to do, because writing the whole story is all that matters. And this one was eating my brain, demanding to be told even when I wasn't ready because of stuff.

Anyway, I'm so excited to have finished this draft.

As you might have noticed, Wednesday was a missed day, and there's a reason for that. It was our 20th Wedding Anniversary. 🎉

So hubby took the day off and we spent it doing some of our favourite stuff: hanging out, thrifting and bargain hunting. It was such an AWESOME day. 😍

Asides from that, I read THE INSTITUTE by Stephen King and it was amazing. It's shocking and sad and a total page-turning event. Some of the characters wormed their way into my heart, others I loathed. But this is definitely worth reading.

If you want to read more, my review is HERE.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm going to enjoy the weekend and hope you do too! 😁



Friday, 27 September 2019

THE INSTITUTE by Stephen King

Deep in the woods of Maine, there is a dark state facility where kids, abducted from across the United States, are incarcerated. In the Institute they are subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their exceptional gifts - telepathy, telekinesis - for concentrated effect. 

Luke Ellis is the latest recruit. He's just a regular 12-year-old, except he's not just smart, he's super-smart. And he has another gift which the Institute wants to use... 

Far away in a small town in South Carolina, former cop Tim Jamieson has taken a job working for the local sheriff. He's basically just walking the beat. But he's about to take on the biggest case of his career. 

Back in the Institute's downtrodden playground and corridors where posters advertise 'just another day in paradise', Luke, his friend Kalisha and the other kids are in no doubt that they are prisoners, not guests. And there is no hope of escape. 

But great events can turn on small hinges and Luke is about to team up with a new, even younger recruit, Avery Dixon, whose ability to read minds is off the scale. While the Institute may want to harness their powers for covert ends, the combined intelligence of Luke and Avery is beyond anything that even those who run the experiments - even the infamous Mrs Sigsby - suspect.


I always get excited when a new Stephen King book comes out, and push it to the top of my TBR pile. Yes, I am a Constant Reader.

Tim Jamieson is just minding his own business when he makes a decision that changes the path of his life, and takes him to a small town. Luke Ellis is a highly intelligent kid who loves to learn and is on his way to college, but there's something else about him that attracts the attention of a secret facility.

The Institute is in the middle of the woods. It's where unique kids are held against their will and have the capacity of their young minds pushed to the edge. 

But they didn't count on Luke, the determination of the kids they mistreat, or how Tim fits into everything...

Wow. Just wow.

This book hooked me in from the very beginning. So deeply, I felt like the story kept creeping under my skin and the infection wouldn't stop until I reached the end.

Every time I sat down to read, I was nervous, but I couldn't stop. Didn't want to stop because I felt so bad for these poor kids, and really needed to find out if they were going to be okay. 

Stephen King has a knack for writing stories full of characters that are so wonderful you love them to pieces, and others that are so despicable you hate their guts, but all of them keep you turning the page. For very different reasons.

It's not just the characters, though. The story captivated me so much, I loved how everything unravelled. The pacing is as perfect as the multiple POVs. The way all the chapters thread around each other keeps the action moving perfectly, and kept me on the edge of my seat.  

I don't think there's any need for me to mention the outstanding writing. But I will, because every time I read a King story, I'm in awe of his storytelling skills. He's got such a wonderful way of stitching real life, pseudo-science and the supernatural together in a way that keeps the reader guessing and the suspense rising to breaking point. 

The Institute is such an amazing book, an action-packed, page-turning adventure that deals with the worst of humanity, as well as the best. Even though a lot of horrible things happen, even though the characters broke my heart, even though every new page was more nerve-wracking than the one before, I still enjoyed the hell out of this disturbing and sometimes dreadful story.

This book goes to some very dark places and has several characters with no redeeming qualities, but you do get to meet an awesome group of kids. I'll never forget Luke, Kalisha, Avery, Nick, Helen, George or Iris.

Also, make sure you read the Author's Note.

I absolutely LOVED this!


The Institute, September 2019, ISBN 9781529355406, Hodder & Stoughton

Friday, 20 September 2019

More WIP Thoughts...

Hey! 

How was your week? As far as writing, reading and spending time with hubby went, it was great. The weather was really crappy, though. It rained most of the week, and you know I can't stand more than a few days of shitty rain. 😒

Personally, I don't find rainy days inspirational. I'd much rather have sunny days all week, but I didn't let that stop me from adding new words to my WIP.

The story's really coming along, so every time I sat down with my laptop, I typed up quite a storm. And that's why I once again gave myself the day off today. Not only does it seem to be working for the story, it's also great for my motivation and thinking things through.

So, the total word count is now: 40,203.

A lot of nightmarish and creepy things are happening to the girls in my story, and I'm really enjoying the adventure. There's a lot of dark stuff going on, and now that the ending is clear in my head, it's only a matter of getting there.

And I suspect that's not too far away. Everything's going downhill from here. 😁

Asides from the writing, I also read an awesome YA book. It's called THE DEATHLESS GIRLS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, and is a re-imagining of the Brides of Dracula before they became the creepy vampires haunting his castle. And I loved it! It's SO good.

If you want to read more, my review is HERE.

After all the writing and reading, I enjoyed spending downtime with hubby every evening. Going for walks was a bit of a pain with all the rain, but we managed.

Well, since last week's super crazy thrifting finds, we're giving it a break. Not for long, of course. Just enough so there's time for new stock to arrive. LOL. And... I'm very proud to say that we didn't go anywhere near our usual haunts all week. I can't believe it! 😂

There you go, that's my update for now.

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!



THE DEATHLESS GIRLS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness - they must sate it. Even with their own kin. 

On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community. 

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts. 

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate... 



Earlier this year, I read and absolutely LOVED Bram Stoker's Dracula. There were many things I enjoyed about this classic, but I was especially intrigued by the Brides of Dracula. I found them fascinating and wanted to know more. IMO, they just didn't get enough page time.

So, when I found out this book featured the Brides, of course I wanted to read it.

Lil and Kizzy are twin sisters who enjoy their peaceful and free lives as Travellers. But on the eve of their divining--when they'll have their futures read by the camp's Seer--their group is attacked by soldiers.

All the kids are taken to Boyar Valcar's castle, where their lives and dignity are stolen away. The twins are forced into a life of slavery in the castle's kitchen.

They might have taken their freedom, but they can't stop their thoughts or determination. They won't take their ability to love, and will never break their sisterly bond...

Wow. The first two chapters of this book are heavy. They really got me! Everything starts out lovely and serene, in a wonderful place that shows just how close the twins are to each other and nature, how peaceful their lives are, and how much they love everyone around them.

Then it burns all that happiness to the ground. 😞

After that, I couldn't put this book down. I knew I was going to love it. Lil's voice is strong and kind. She's selfless and determined to stay calm for her sister. Yet, she doesn't see any of that, doesn't realise her own strength in the face of adversity.

All of the characters in this story shine. Asides from Lil, my other favourites were Mira and Fen. Both tough in their own way and devoted to the ones they love. Hell, even the horrible ones leap off the page. They made me so angry and frustrated, I couldn't wait for them to pay. LOL.

For an origin story about the creepy vampire women living in Dracula's castle, there's a melancholy innocence throughout this tale of heartbreak and sisterhood. All Lil and Kizzy ever wanted was to find their own place in the world and be left alone, but find themselves fighting off constant unwanted attention.

I also have to mention how well the sense of location is portayed in this book. I could feel everywhere the characters went. From the overdone wealthy castles to the derelict villages, and especially the Traveller's connection to the land.

The Deathless Girls is an intriguing re-imagining about the girls who became the Brides of Dracula. It's beautifully written, dripping with atmosphere, and hooked me instantly. As the story slowly unravels and the stakes (pardon the pun) are heightened, I lost myself in the dangerous and violent world.

Although I already knew where this would end up, I still enjoyed getting there. I loved every minute of it.

Also, the cover is so pretty. The little details all represent something important in the story. Very nice!



The Deathless Girls, September 2019, ISBN 9781510106918, Orion Children's Books

Friday, 13 September 2019

My September WIP Thoughts

Hey! You know what I just realised? That I haven't posted anything about my current WIP yet.

Why? Well, to be honest, I just kept forgetting because I was too busy writing. 😃 

So, let's change that.

Last week, I decided it was time to get back into the gothic horror story I started writing earlier this year. It started speaking to me again last month, and when that happens it's not a good idea to ignore it.

I already had 6k words written, so the first thing I had to do was go back to the beginning and re-read what I already had. I couldn't move forward until I did that. It took a few days but, I'm glad that's where I started because once that was done, I was able to get back into the swing of the story.

This time around, I wanted to add words as often as I could and at the same time, squeeze in other things. Some days I added heaps, while others I didn't add much. Actually, I kinda took both Fridays off so I could finish reading books, proofread blog posts and reviews, plus sort out my ever-growing pile of books.

Every WIP is different, and this year I'm finding that every story I've written has dictated its own process.

It's funny, because I used to have a certain way of tackling first drafts and keeping track of word counts, but this year hasn't gone according to plan. But that's fine. As long as I'm writing and the stories are coming together, it's cool.

I do have targets, though. By the end of this week, I wanted to reach 20k and I'm happy to say that I did. Yay.

Total word count is now: 21,596.

I'm really enjoying this tale. It's dark and creepy, has a nightmarish feel that turns everything upside down. There are a bunch of different bits and pieces coming together in the back of my mind. All exciting and spooky things that confuse everything for my poor girls.

I still don't know how many words this draft will end up being, but I'm not too concerned about it. I just want to get everything out of my head because this particular story, and the characters living inside it, are crowding my brain.

Well, that's all I wanted to say. Just thought an update was overdue. 😁

Happy Friday the 13th and have a great weekend!


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

IT by Stephen King



You can now read my review of the ravenous monster that is IT here:




Friday, 6 September 2019

GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS by Suzanne Young

Girls with Sharp Sticks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that caught my eye a few weeks ago. First I noticed the cover, then the title, and by the time I'd read the blurb, I knew it was something I would be interested in.

I'm a sucker for dystopian books about girls written by women because, although these kind of tales are bleak, the characters turn the narrative into strength and love. The fear lights a fire within them, one that puts them in motion until they end up risking everything for the freedom to be what every girl and woman deserves: the ability to be themselves and be recognised as a person.

So when I found it on the shelves during the new library opening last weekend, I had to borrow it. I'm really glad I did because it's amazing.

Mena attends an exclusive all-girl private school in the middle of nowhere. It's far from town and hidden near the picturesque mountains.

Innovations Academy is run by an all-male staff, all very eager to teach these students how to be better, proper girls for their investors. The girls are happy and willing to please, until dark secrets about the school start to surface...

OMFG. This book is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant! It's as disturbing as it is interesting. As infuriating as it is intriguing. And Mena's POV, as well as the writing style, hooked me in and kept me glued to the pages.

I seriously couldn't put it down. Didn't want to.

As soon as I started reading, the air of malice surrounding these poor girls is obvious and filled me with fear, for them. Shortly followed by rage, because the more I read, the more I started figuring out what was going on. And all I wanted was to see these girls succeed in finding themselves and being able to find their own path.

This story raises a lot of other issues because it doesn't just deal with the obvious imprisonment and control of girls. But I can't go into that without giving away the shocking secrets that are better found out while reading this very cool book.

I loved the characters in this book. Especially the girls. Their sense of sisterhood, and the way they love and support each other is so awesome I loved every minute of their interactions. The way they trust one another and are willing to do whatever it takes to stay together just solidified my appreciation for this story.

There are a lot of other unexpected things that happen. For starters, it's quite violent. And very bloody. Not to mention that all of these kinds of books are horror tales of the worst kind.

I've seen this book compared to a lot of obvious titles I agree with--The Handmaid's Tale, Never Let Me Go, Westworld--but I'm going to add another one: Frankenstein. Doesn't it always come back to man's desire to control everyone? 😒

Anyway, I'm so glad I read this very disturbing, but empowering book. Can't wait to read the next one.

Monday, 2 September 2019

More Kendall Reviews News


Hey, how are you today? 

I hope you all had a nice weekend, and that September is treating you well. I'm excited because spring is finally here. 🌞

Anyway, I've got a bit of an announcement.

Remember my post from the other day? The one where I mentioned I stopped by Kendall Reviews a few times?

Well, I joined the Kendall Reviews Team!


That's right, if you check out the Meet the Team page, you'll see me listed on there. Yay.

So, what does that mean? I'll be popping in several times a month, and you'll be able to read some of my reviews and other posts over there. Plus, I'll be part of a group full of really cool horror-lovin' guys who love to promote horror. 

It's going to be fun. 😃

Hope to see you over there!


😈

Saturday, 31 August 2019

This week, I visited Kendall Reviews



That's right. This week I was featured at Kendall Reviews. Twice! And it's SO exciting.

If you're interested, these are the links:


You can read my answer to Why Do You Write Horror? here 

Both were a lot of fun, and I had a great time answering all the questions.

In the interview you can find out a bit more about Breaking the Habit, as well as my writing, reading and a bunch of other stuff.

And the guest blog is about my long love of horror, and why I enjoy writing in this great genre.


I LOVE stopping by Kendall Reviews.
Not only is it an awesome blog to visit, but Gavin is a very cool guy and is super supportive of all things horror

So, you should be checking out this website anyway. There are always a lot of cool reviews, very interesting interviews, and a bunch of other features.

Have a great weekend!

😁

Friday, 30 August 2019

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR by Lex H Jones

Carl Duggan has worked as a Detective in the City for a long time. The kind of ‘long’ where you’ve seen everything, and seen it twice. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise to him when a pregnant nineteen year-old girl washes up on the banks of the Styx. But something about this one is different, and before Carl gets any answers, two more bodies join the pile; a corrupt Judge and a big-shot lawyer. Carl’s gut tells him there’s a connection, the little things, the tiny details that others would ignore. 

The bodies keep on coming when a second case rears its head; three young men with nothing in common except their sexuality, each murdered in their own home. Gaining little assistance from his fellow officers, Carl goes it alone into the darker regions of the City. Along the way he makes acquaintances and enemies of the City’s more colourful residents, including the beautiful sister of the first dead girl, a Catholic hit-man dubbed “His Holiness”, and a shady casino owner named Dice. The closer he gets to the truth the more Carl’s life is put in danger, forcing him to move further and further away from the rule of law. Never once does he suspect that the two cases are so intimately linked, or that the truth could be so close to home.


I received a copy of this book from HellBound Books Publishing, and I'm really glad I did because it didn't disappoint.

Carl Duggan is a rough and tough detective in the dirty, overcrowded City. There are two sides to the City and they're separated by a river they call the Styx. The East side is full of the poor, homeless, prostitutes, pimps and crime. The West is full of rich, the successful, escorts, businessmen and crime.

Both sides are mirrors of each other--same criminal activity, but one tries to conceal the ugliness beneath a veneer of money.

When Carl starts investigating several unrelated homicides, it doesn't take long for him to solve each case. Except, the more he figures out, the murkier everything becomes when the solved investigations keep coming back...

You know, even though the blurb caught my interest, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book. I thought it might be the kind of disturbing I might not enjoy. But I was wrong. 

Well, I was right about the filthy feel of the story, but I was wrong about not enjoying it. Every moment I spent reading the pages of this book made me feel like I was actually there. I could feel the cold and bleak air, could see the dilapidated nature of the streets, experienced the weight of despair on both sides of the City, and couldn't shake the filthy sense every word imprinted inside my head.

All of the characters are simultaneously likeable and easy to dislike. They're complicated and not very nice or giving. The police department is overrun by corruption, the medical examiner is a junkie, the only future prospects for the young is crime or prostitution. This stinky City digs its claws into the residence and refuses to let go. 

The main character, Carl Duggan, is a prickly asshole who doesn't seem morally-inclined and is quite the violent cop. Yet, he pushes for justice and isn't easily corrupted. Plus, he's helpful and although he likes to pretend he's heartless and doesn't give a shit, Carl's quite a helpful man. He's got heart. He might not possess much finesse and has quite the acid tongue, but you know what? This made him the best noir voice to narrate most of this dark story.

And this book is dark.

I also liked the City's descriptions. They're done in a way that makes the location into its own character. This awful place reminds me of Gotham or Sin City, an urban playground for criminals. A place where the bad thrive and the good are squashed. A location where there's no definite good and bad.

The pacing is great. The story takes you down one path, makes you feel comfortable and then switches everything on you.

The Other Side of the Mirror is a gritty noir story that grabbed a hold of me from the first page. It's full of unapologetic, foul-mouthed non-PC people who just DGAF about who they're offending or hurting. But instead of turning me off, it totally fit the narrative.

It's full of twists and turns, keeps circling back to the beginning in a way that ties everything together in a messy bow. And by the time I reached the shocking and quite sad conclusion, I was on the edge of my seat. OMG, I can't believe it went THERE.

Of course, the suspicion bloomed inside my mind during the backend of the book, but even then, more unexpected surprises popped up.

I REALLY enjoyed this insanely awesome book.

Also, I'd like to thank HellBound Books for sending me a copy.


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

SILENCE IN THE WOODS by J.P. Choquette

In 1917, four friends and photojournalists set out in the woods looking for answers. Why have so many hikers and hunters gone missing in the area of Shiny Creek Trail? 

No one imagines the evil lurking in a remote cave. A horrifying discovery leaves one person dead and two others missing. Two months later, Paul, one of the four, returns to the forest to find his wife. But will he find her before someone—or something—finds him?


The author of this book was nice enough to send me a copy. And although I didn't know anything about it, the blurb instantly caught my interest. 

It's 1917, and two couples head into the woods hoping to find the story of a lifetime. They want to figure out why people go missing around the Shiny Creek Trail, while having an adventure. But things start going wrong right away. 

There might be an animal stalking them and when the weather takes an ugly turn, the couples end up inside a cave that is supposed to offer shelter. Instead, they find themselves in the middle of even worse danger... 

This was such a good and fast read! The pacing is great, and kept me turning the pages so fast I ended up reading the whole thing in 24 hours. 

I really liked how the story started in an asylum and quickly took the reader back into the woods. Not only that, but it's mostly told in the POV of a very likeable married couple, Paul and Jane Rogers. One of them is telling the story in the present, the other in the past, but both POVs are perfectly intertwined. 

The way the story unravelled was great. The suspense was thick all the way through, and the spooky atmosphere never lets up. Not to mention that the location was so mysterious, and the glimpses of the evil presence only added to the building tension. 

Silence in the Woods is a dark and intense thriller with an intriguing mystery and just the right dose of horror. All of these combine together to reveal a great story that doesn't disappoint, and will keep you interested until the very clever end. 

I'd like to thank J.P. Choquette for sending me a copy, because I really enjoyed this.

Monday, 26 August 2019

A Month After Breaking the Habit


That's right. Exactly one month ago, my horror story about a newlywed couple's terrifying honeymoon ordeal was released by Demain Publishing.

Just because I love posting it, here's the eerie cover:


Adrian Baldwin made it, and I seriously love how well this cover fits my story. Everything about it captures the mood without spoiling the twist. Puts the reader in the middle of the location without giving anything away.

There's a little something in this novelette of mine, that's best not to know until you're actually reading it. This makes it hard to reveal too much when I'm answering interview questions, or writing blog posts. But it's also exciting to read about the reader's reaction.

My story is actually part of the very excellent, Short Sharp Shocks! series. It's #27, and was released with these four other stories: 


They all look very cool, right?

So, how do I feel now that Isla's bloody, heartbreaking and violent tale has been out in the wild for a whole month? Well, I'm STILL super excited. How could I not be? It's been several years since my last book was released, and this awesome opportunity was the best way to step back into the publishing arena.

Not to mention that Dean from Demain was so awesome to work with. And that being part of a horror series alongside so many fantastic authors makes me very happy.

Yeah, I'm still very excited about Breaking the Habit, and am really enjoying finding out what readers have to say about it.

If you've read my tale of woe, thank you and don't be shy about letting me know what you think. Feel free to post a review so I can read your thoughts. 

And if you haven't, and you're interested, you can grab a copy from these Amazon stores:

US | UK |Australia | Canada

Another cool thing about this book is that it's 99c!

So, help me wish my creepy little story a Happy One Month Anniversary! 

Also, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who's read, reviewed, shared the announcements and links to help me get the word out. 😀

Friday, 23 August 2019

The Monster Book Ate My Brain

That's right. After a very productive week, this one slowed down a bit. I still got several things done, but it didn't include finalising two stories, LOL.

This week, my main goal was to finish reading IT. And to be honest with you, I tried to squeeze in some brainstorming but just couldn't concentrate. All I could think about was what was going on in the book, what was going to happen next, and looking forward to The End. Not because I wanted to be done with the book, but because I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen.

Even then, it took most of the week to get through. Exactly three weeks after starting IT, I finished this amazing tome. And I loved every minute. Even after reading the last sentence yesterday, I continue to think about everything that happened. Keep going through all the stuff in my head. 

I guess it's hard to let go of a story that I've been stuck in for so long. Hard to forget all the shit that went down. Everything is still floating around inside my head, blending in together. I'm in awe, but haven't even written my review yet (which will be featured at Kendall Reviews) because I need a few days to get everything straight.

How can anything I say do the experience justice? 😎I plan to write it over the weekend and then proofread what I come up with on Monday.

So, asides from getting lost in this intoxicating read, we watched the second season of GLOW. Man, this show is so well written. I love how women are portrayed, the sisterhood and all the personal problems each one brings to the table. Not to mention that it's funny and so much FUN. Plus full of 80s and wrestling references.

I really hope there's another season.

When I wasn't reading or watching, I was sorting through my (many) books. In the last few months I seem to have doubled the amount of books I own and have to keep sorting them out. I also managed to trim my hair, which was long overdue. ðŸ˜ķ

Anyway. It's getting late so I'm going to wrap this up now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 16 August 2019

Another Week

That's right! It's FridayAnd this week, I'm happy to say that I completed several writing projects I had on my to-do list. Yay. 😁

These are things I've had on my mental to-be-done list for a while. Things I constantly carried in the back of my mind but, for one reason or another, I kept (unintentionally) pushing them back. So, last weekend I decided to move these things from my mental list to my handwritten to-do list.

That way, I actually set deadlines for myself, which always pushes me to complete the tasks. I don't know why, but when I write things down on paper, I hold myself accountable.

So, what were these things? Here's the list:
  • Complete third draft, read-thru & sub latest short story WIP.
  • Proofread the previously contracted story I recently got my rights back for.
  • Write two guest blog posts & email.
  • Answer interview questions & email.
  • Reach the halfway mark on IT.

This list might not look/sound like much, but I broke everything up into different days, and it took most of the week to get through. I managed to cross everything off by the end of Thursday. Plus, I have another two finished short stories on file. 👍

Then, we celebrated by going to one of our favourite thrift stores. Where I found a LOT of awesome books. Our apartment is slowly becoming a books and games library, and I love it! 😁

I also (really) like productive weeks. It makes me feel quite accomplished. Especially when it involves writing pieces that were stuck in my brain for ages. 

Although my mind is never clear--because there are always ideas and plans and stuff jammed inside--I'm now in a place where I can start thinking about other projects. And that's what I'd like to concentrate on next week: planning my next project/s.

I have a pretty good idea what I'd like to work on next, but need to get pen + paper to sort through my thoughts on paper before getting stuck into a nice lot of brainstorming.

But first, I'm going to enjoy the weekend.

I hope you do too. Have a good one!


Thursday, 8 August 2019

Strange Writing Thoughts

Yeah, that sounds like the best title for a post about my jumbled writing thoughts for this week.

As we all know, story ideas come out of nowhere and everywhere. Sometimes I wake up with one. Other times a dream sparks something bigger. Walking fills me with inspiration. A song might become an unexpected story nugget. Even a word while reading can make something happen. Or even a creepy picture posted on Twitter...

I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say. 😎

Sometimes, these ideas are so well formed I can write a 4k first draft in a day. I actually did exactly this several months ago. I woke up with the story in my head, and had the first draft written by the end of the day.

My latest idea, another one that wanted to be told RIGHT NOW, was a little different. 

First, the character--who happens to be from the same series as the story I mentioned above--appeared out of nowhere. The time and setting were there too. Then later that day, the beginning struck me. But still, I needed a few days to mull everything over and double check a few details.

By the time I sat down to write with pen & paper a few days later, I handwrote 4 pages without stopping. It flowed well. I too notes and left it alone again.

During that time, the story was constantly in the back of my mind. Percolating in the background. Forming deeper roots than I expected. But no matter how many times I thought about how it would all turn out, I couldn't put everything together. Things weren't clicking.

At this stage I knew that the best thing to do was to just write. That was the only way I was going to find out if it was going to work or not.

So I grabbed my laptop with the intention of typing everything up, but on that day Windows 10 decided to be an a-hole and needed a thousand updates and restarts. (Okay, so it was more like five but that's a lot. A LOT.)

I was lucky to get the pages typed up (added up to 677 words) and put everything aside. Again. I was too frustrated with my laptop to continue.

Yesterday, I decided nothing was going to stop me. I sat at my Writing Nook (more on that another time), opened the Word doc and started typing. I kept writing until lunchtime and--by that time I knew how everything was going to end--went back to it after eating.

Not long after that, I finished the first draft. It turned out to be 3,884 words. It's a bit rough but the main story is there. Finally out of my head and ready to be revised.

Do you understand the title of this post now? 😁 

I had all the pieces of this story inside my head for a few weeks but they were scattered, and no amount of thinking or note-taking could put them together. BUT, as soon as I started typing, everything fell into place and made total sense.

It's strange and wondrous and weird. Every story is as different as its process. 

To me, that feels quite magical.✨


Friday, 2 August 2019

This Week


Hey! I'm going to start this post with this awesome Demain Publishing graphic:


I love how this features all the great Adrian Baldwin covers. These are also the latest Short Sharp Shocks! released last week. And of course, that includes mine. Yay!

I've actually had a really nice week. Even though we had a few rainy days, I didn't let the weather affect me. There were too many things to focus on, that's for sure.

It's tax time here in Oz, so we got some pesky real life stuff out of the way, which always feels good. Now that our daughter is 18, finished school, and isn't even living in this country anymore, this is the last year of long-winded claims.

So, what else did I do? I read a fantastic YA horror book called TEETH IN THE MIST by Dawn Kurtagich and reviewed it yesterday for Hachette. It's awesome. It's also the third book I've read by this author and I enjoyed all of them.

Now, it's time to get stuck into IT. Yep. This'll be my first time reading this encyclopedia-sized book and I'm super excited. I promised myself that I would read this book sometime during 2019 and before the second movie is released.

There's no better time to read it than a month before the movie hits. 😉

Oh, this week my Guest Review of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina prequel, SEASON OF THE WITCH, was posted at Kendall Reviews. It was really nice of Gavin to host my review of a book that I adored.

You know I LOVE the show, and this book totally felt like another season. So cool.

Hubby and I finally watched GOOD OMENS on Amazon Prime. We watched an episode a night for most of the week, then binged the last two on Thursday night. We loved it. This show was heaps of fun, and I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than the book. Yep. I did.

Asides from all this cool stuff, I also received the Flame Trees ARC I won in a Twitter contest. I really enjoyed this author's first book, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Now that most of the reorganising of my writing & reading nooks are done, I started writing a new short story. Yes! This one is an unexpected idea I had about a character from my Sierra Fox series. It's strange how many of these are hitting my brain years after I finished writing the series. And the five books are no longer available.

BUT, a story that is available is BREAKING THE HABIT. Actually, today, the first two fantastic reviews posted made me grin like an idiot because both readers totally got this little story of mine. If you're curious, you can read them both on Goodreads. 😍

You can also grab yourself a copy for 99c. That's a bargain! Here are the links.

Well, there you have it. This turned out to be a great week. And now, we've got the weekend ahead of us...

Have a good one!


 
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