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Friday, 30 June 2023

June Update!


Hey! How are you today? What have you been up to? Can you believe we're halfway into 2023 already?!

Yikes. Where does the time go, right?

In Oz, June means winter, and you (probably) already know this is my least favourite season. 😫 I have to admit that it took longer than usual for the cold to settle in but now that it's here, it's seeping into my bones. FFS. I hate feeling cold. I much prefer spring and summer. Autumn used to be nice, too. But now the seasons are all muddled up anyway.

On to other things...

In case you missed it, my horror novella, SUFFER THE DARKNESS, was released by DarkLit Press almost two weeks ago, and it's been a whirlwind of awesomeness.

Check it out:


You can pick up a copy from THESE STORES, and add it to Goodreads HERE.

I'm SO excited!! Kae Roscoe's story is sad and dark. Although she gets her wish and her missing daughter returns, as soon as Molly comes back, everything starts to fall apart. It's a nightmarish ride that I hope you'll enjoy.

Everything is super cool now, but it didn't start out that way because Amazon decided to delete all the pre-orders. πŸ˜‘ But the horror community helped get the word out in a big way (THANK YOU, EVERYONE), and I had a blast celebrating this release. πŸ˜πŸŽ‰

So, what else did I get up to this month? Oh yeah, I wrote the first draft of a novella. Then got stuck into a short story that came out of nowhere, but happens to be the prequel to one of my upcoming releases, and finished it this week.

Oh, speaking of upcoming releases... have you seen these two announcements?


That's right! My horrormance slasher novel about a group of friends who meet up for a reunion dinner ten years after high school and find themselves in a grisly nightmare, has found a home with Aesthetic Press. And my modern gothic horror novella about a newlywed couple, an old house, and a horrible secret legacy will be released by DarkLit Press.

Both of these will be available next year. Yay!!

I'm very excited about these upcoming stories and can't wait to share more details as their release dates draw near. They're very different, feature characters who find themselves in horrible situations, but both are horror stories I can't wait to share.

Well, this has been such a busy month full of so much that my brain feels like it's turning to mush. I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend with my husband and chilling out for a bit.

Have an awesome one!


Thursday, 29 June 2023

EERIELLA: SUPER-FIEND by Sophie Ingley

 

Eeriella: Super-Fiend!Eeriella: Super-Fiend! by Sophie Ingley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was really looking forward to reading this story because I love the cover and the concept sounded so cool.

After a really bad night, in which Ella gets dumped by her girlfriend and gets so drunk she doesn't remember a single thing, she wakes up the next day without a hangover. But there's a painful, lumpy growth on her knee. One that slowly transforms her into something else...

Well, this gory and bloody novelette turned out to be such a fun trip!

Not only is Ella a very cool and interesting character, but the strange situation she's thrown into had me turning the gruesome pages fast because I couldn't wait to find out what was happening to her. I was also totally intrigued by her mysterious friend, and when the twists and turns started to take me into unexpected and exciting territory, I couldn't stop until the truth was revealed.

And it didn't disappoint.

Loved this quirky, wicked tale. 😈

Wednesday, 28 June 2023

THE HIBISCUS AND THE GRAVE by Wendy Dalrymple

 

The Hibiscus and the GraveThe Hibiscus and the Grave by Wendy Dalrymple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Firstly, I want to thank the author for sending me an ARC of this lovely book. I really like the cover, because it totally matches the story.

In 1920, a new governess arrives at Hibiscus House, an estate on Tybee Island, GA. As soon as she gets there, she has a good feeling about the place and instantly likes the little girl she'll be looking after. She even likes the owner of the estate, but it doesn't take long before strange things start to happen...

Wow. I was hooked from start to finish, and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.

The Rebecca vibes are felt throughout this lovely gothic gem, but it's got a unique style that sweeps you under until you get to the end. The mysterious circumstances are both spooky and intriguing, and the atmosphere is so strong I could taste the salt in the air. Felt the cold seep into my bones because every description about the old, but grand house is so very lush.

Not to mention how much I liked the characters because they all felt authentic in their own way. Each had a role to play, and played it well. I also enjoyed the touch of romance.

Well, I absolutely LOVED this! It's another fantastic Wendy Dalrymple book. She's got an addictive writing style that really appeals to my reading tastes.

Thursday, 15 June 2023

BELOW ECONOMIC THRESHOLDS by Adam Hulse

 

Below Economic ThresholdsBelow Economic Thresholds by Adam Hulse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here's another novella I've been looking forward to getting stuck into that didn't disappoint.

After a brutal civil war, demons stalk the slums where the starving people are trying to survive. Kurt works for the Agency to get rid of the demonic pests stalking the buildings, and his payment is barely enough to feed him. But when he stumbles on a plan to rebel, Kurt gets caught up in a fight he can't walk away from...

Well, this is a fast-paced, action-packed ride through a very bleak future! And I mean that in the best way possible because I couldn't put it down.

This story is sad and infuriating because people are treated like scum just because they're in a dire situation that wasn't even their fault. It totally echoes a lot of the shitty things that are going on right now in our world because the rich are never satisfied and continually want to oppress everyone. And that's before considering the vermin who are willing to do their bidding. Wilkes, I'm looking at you. 😐

Sure, Kurt and all the other poor but brave souls live in a dystopian version of our world with the added problem of demonic beings, but the social commentary in this novella is very familiar and perfectly woven into a violent, dystopian story with intriguing supernatural elements.

Another thing I really enjoyed were the main characters. I mean, Kurt is suffering from severe PTSD and leads a very lonely life, yet he's still empathetic and willing to help whenever he can. They're all very relatable and sympathetic, totally had me cheering for them every step of the way.

This is another excellent book by a very talented author.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, 14 June 2023

28 DAYS SASSIER by Damien Casey

 

28 Days Sassier28 Days Sassier by Damien Casey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had my eye on this novella for a while, so I'm glad I finally got the chance to check it out.

Jim Tiptree is the last man on Earth. It was just his luck to be left behind when humans escaped to another dimension after a goblin invasion. As the lonely days go by, he slowly realises that he's actually not the last one left on Earth. There's also Bigfoot...

OMG. This book is hilarious. I couldn't stop cackling because it was just SO MUCH FUN!

Okay, the situation Jim finds himself in is quite disturbing: the world is overrun by deadly goblins who eat concrete. The idea of these creatures is outrageously funny. Yet, also quite terrifying. I swear these little assholes reminded me of those rude Gremlins.

If only they were the worst of it, though. Imagine being left behind with a bunch of conspiracy nuts. Ugh. The thought makes me ill.

I really enjoyed this story because it's original and quirky. Jim's voice is interesting and humorous. What he goes through is both funny and scary. I mean, there might be a lot of lighthearted stuff going on here, but there's still plenty of violence and horror packed within these pages.

And finally, I have to mention Bigfoot. Who turns out to be a charming and super cool character who surprised me every step of the way.

This is a great post-apocalyptic adventure with extra sass.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

HUNGERS AS OLD AS THIS LAND by Zachary Rosenberg

 

Hungers as Old as This LandHungers as Old as This Land by Zachary Rosenberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been looking forward to reading this novella for several weeks now, and it didn't disappoint.

Esther and Siobhan live in the safe and prosperous town of Grey's Bluffs with Esther's father. In order to stay safe, they have a pact with the Hungers who dwell in the nearby mountains. But during their latest trip, they cross paths with Cyril, a man from her father's past who now leads the unscrupulous Blackhawks and has gold in his sights...

I really enjoyed everything about this story, which turned out to be a fast-paced and very entertaining novella through some rough terrain, interesting characters, and even darker secrets.

The heroines in this story are tough, devoted, and never sway from their loyalty to their people or each other. The villains are despicable men who only have violence and wealth on their minds. As for the monsters, I loved how they were portrayed and thought they took up just enough page time to make them fascinating without revealing everything.

Sometimes, less is more. And that's why I liked this approach to the Hungers.

This story is also very well written, and features a sweet love story between two strong women with even stronger ties to their Jewish faith.

A great addition to the splatter western genre!

Sunday, 11 June 2023

A little writing...

How are you?

I can't believe it's already June! Yikes. 😳

In Oz, this means that winter is here. As you might already know, I'm not a big fan of winter. I don't like the cold and definitely have a hard time adapting to shorter days. But this year, I'm trying not to let it get me down too much. I'm also trying not to concentrate on the rising Covid numbers. I mean, no one else seems to care anymore, right?

Also, not having Loki around makes me sad because he used to get really affectionate during the colder weather. It's been over three months since he passed away and I still miss him every day. We used to spend most of the day together, so it's hard sometimes. There are a lot of reminders around the apartment, and I can't seem to shake the sadness whenever I think about him.

So much, that I ended up spending the last few weeks writing a story that first came about because of how much his loss is affecting me.

I think it's easier to add the tweet I posted about it because it explains what I mean:

Yep. In mid-May, after waking up from a horrible dream that made me so sad I spent quite a bit of the morning crying, my subconscious decided to do something about it. I wasn't thinking about a new idea because I was so distracted by the sadness, but my writer brain decided to present me with a new story concept. One that would probably be hard to write because it dealt with the loss of a cat, but that could help me get through this in the longrun.

I ended up writing the first chapter on my phone one night, but didn't get stuck into it until late May. I didn't want to put any pressure on myself. Even thought it might end up being a one-chapter writing exercise and that's all. And I was fine with that.

Well, this attitude sure helped because after a slow start, I spent the last two weeks writing the first draft. I didn't put any pressure on myself to add new words if I didn't feel like it, and started slow. But then I began to lose myself in the story, couldn't stop thinking about it. I picked up the pace and couldn't wait to get back to it every afternoon.

My head was full of ideas and situations. Problems the main character needed to overcome in order to move on. I was gripped and the words were pouring out of me every time I fired up my laptop.

I actually finished the first draft last night. The word count is: 45,078. During most of the writing, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a novelette or a novella, and didn't care. As long as the story kept coming, I kept typing.

So, what started out as a personal exercise to work through my own feelings of loss, turned out to be SO much more. This story, characters and world surprised me. A lot. What begins as one woman's grief after losing her pet companion, became a very involved tale about self-acceptance. About facing what she'd tried to avoid for years. It ended up being deeper, more emotional, pretty violent, and even a lot sexier than I expected.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. And the process really was cathartic. It really did help me, and I look forward to returning to it when it's time for revision. But right now, I'm going to enjoy the fact my sadness was able to produce a whole new (unexpected) story.

Besides, it's a long weekend right now and I'm going to enjoy it with my husband.

Have a good one!


Thursday, 8 June 2023

EXPECTATIONS by B.T. Hayes

 

ExpectationsExpectations by B.T. Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this novel and I have to say, I was hooked as soon as I started reading.

This story doesn't waste any time getting started and throws the reader into a very violent and confronting scene. Who is this man and why is he doing this? How did we get here? But there are enough hints to start putting the clues together when we're introduced to the main characters.

I enjoyed the way the three POVs flow with each other and allow the story to grow. Jamie and Dale are such great narrators, two smart kids who finally get together and face a lot more trouble than they suspect. I also couldn't shake the unnerving dread. The closer I got to the end, the more I didn't want to get there.

Expectations is an engrossing and very disturbing read that I couldn't put down. On one hand, it's about the normal everyday complications. On the other, it's about the depravity of the human mind when exposed to stimuli secretly craved but not realised. It's also quite sad, really. And definitely delivers a devastating knockout.

Definitely worth your time.


View all my reviews

Friday, 2 June 2023

Q&A with Nico Bell


I have a guest on my blog today. Nico Bell writes awesome horror stories and she's dropping in for a Q&A.

Hi Nico. Congratulations on your latest release.

 

1. What was the inspiration behind your new book?

My insomnia mixed in with my addiction to Zillow! These two ended up sparking my idea to write a haunted house story but in a mansion where all of the locks are controlled by smart tech. This was an important element of the story and one that gave the villain a little more latitude with their scheme. 

2. You described your novella as 'a twist on a haunted house' story, can you expand on that? 

Haunted house stories are a blast because there’s so many ways the plot can turn! For example, in the movie Poltergeist, we see a supernatural haunting, while in Shirley Jackson’s House on Haunted Hill, a case can be made that the real haunting was happening within the mind of the protagonist. Sometimes ghosts aren’t exactly who they seem to be, like in the movie The Others (2001), or sometimes the ghosts are family, like in The Amityville Horror. When I say a “twist” on a haunted house, I’m referring to the way a ghost story can be so much more than a spooky spirit lurking in the shadows, just as they are in these examples.

3. If you were only allowed three adjectives to describe your book, what would they be?

Wicked, wild, and fast! It’s a quick fun read!

4. What came first Caleb, the mysterious woman, or the house?

The house started the brainstorming process. I wanted to dive into the haunted house world and come up with something fun! Then, I developed Caleb, and it’s actually my first time publishing a book with a male protagonist. I typically write largely femme, if not entirely women, casts, but it just made sense to write from his point-of-view. The mystery woman was always lurking around in my brain, but I developed her last. It was important to get her motives right, so she required a bit more work. 

5. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the leads?

I envisioned Caleb as a smoothing talking, young, arrogant man who cares a little too much about his appearance. I think an actor like TimothΓ©e Chalamet would pull that off. The mystery woman is a clever antagonist who is the perfect match for Caleb’s ego. In my mind, I was picturing Scarlett Johansson.

6. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination of both?

When I started writing, I was 100% plotter. Outlines were my lifeline to story writing. As I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with writing and character development, I’ve be able to incorporate a bit of “pantsing” into the process. I usually do fast drafts of the first act and the middle of the book, and then I go back and plot everything out. This helps ensure that there is enough material to work with.

7. Authors always have the best (and most disturbing!) Google search histories. What kind of research, if any, did you do for this book?

I researched a lot of million-dollar homes. I saw one with its very own spa and hair salon, which was wild to me. I also researched home security systems and how smart tech has been incorporated into those.

8. How much research do you do for your stories?

The amount of research usually depends on the project. For example, I have a sci-fi horror novella coming out October 2023 entitled Static. That one required a bit more since I wanted to explore technology and the supernatural. I’m currently working on a sapphic vampire horror which I’ve been researching a ton in order to have a strong foundation for my vampire lore. For Open House, I researched a few key ideas and then got to drafting!


Nico Bell can be found online at www.nicobellfiction.com or on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube @nicobellfiction.

Open House comes out 6/15/2023 by PsychoToxin Press


 
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