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Tommy Reads 2018

Thank goodness for Goodreads. Seriously. I don’t know how else i would keep track of my year long books read without it. Plus, there’s the progress goals that helps you keep on track with reading. There were more than a few times that I had gotten so bogged down in my own work that I needed that reminder to take a breath and read other peoples books. And I have found some good suggested reads on there too. This year, my goal was 12 books, one per month. Kinda wimpy when compared to others, I know. I saw one person with like a 500 book reading goal. Freaking crazy! I guess i’m just a slow reader. I am setting 2019 goals a little higher with plans to read more small press indie books. There year is, though, what it is. Can’t complain. I’ve read some really great titles. So, without further babbling on my part, here are my 2018 reads! Continue Reading

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Now Coming to You in Atomic Soundwaves from Space!

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I got my first taste in publishing when I was in high school. Some short story of which I have long since forgotten the title for and have long since misplaced the letter of authentication. Given my moody teenagerism, it was probably something dark and depressing. It would be another 15 years before I’d publish again. In 2014, I put out my second short story, Hobo, and followed it closely with Are You Hungry, Dear?, and then released my first novel, Reinheit. In that very short span of time, I’ve been able to launch 4 more novels in a continuing series called The Subdue Series (Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging), 2 solo shorts, contributed to 7 published anthologies (the 8th to be published later this year), including a serial short story exclusive to the 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction series, my first collection called The Hobbsburg Horror, AND 2 novellas,  Lanmò and Feast.  That’s what? Some 20 published works, most of which are shorts. I’d say I was simply prolific, but I know more authors that do way more than my meager sum.

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No, the aim (for me) cannot be about out producing the competition. I’d go nuts trying to keep up. What I can aim to do is provide quality entertainment in the vein of horrifying reads. I want to tell stories, plain and simple. I don’t want to out do anyone. I want to tell tales and get them out there to be read. Easy enough, right? What’s interesting, in this current era we find ourselves, is the constant development of technology that allows schmoes like me to publish our works. Amazon wasn’t around when I was a grump moody teenager. Self publishing was unaffordable. And traditional publishing took knowing someone who knew someone who knew someone. If you didn’t have that connection to your father’s brother’s uncle’s cousin’s former roommate, you were SOL. And the BIG 5? Forgetaboutit.

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But now? Man, the entire system has expanded exponentially. With the development of eBooks (and its popularity) which later gave rise to print on demand (I use CreateSpace), publishing became insignificant. Not to belittle it, just that anyone can and many do. In fact, its not uncommon to stroll into a cyber writers group and read at least a dozen complaints about how saturated the market is. Its a favorite word to toss around that makes you sound more knowledgeable than what you really are. Saturated. Saturated. Saturated. Martha. Martha. Martha. And its true, the market IS super saturated. Personally though, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Now readers have more of what they want. They have options outside of what they thought they could only get from the BIG 5.

But there’s a trick.

You cannot just put something out there and expect readers to flock to you. That’s just insane. Unless you have a known name, readers are not going to flock to you. Connections help; making connections is even better. What I’ve found most appealing with how this publishing world has evolved is how much of a community it has become. Embrace it. There will be some who try to take advantage. Don’t let a few turds keep you from making lasting connections. If people are willing to not only share your stuff, but also interact and maybe even give advise, those are the connections worth holding on to.

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Experiment. 

Experimenting with marketing can lead to surprising results. Ever heard the phrase, “Put your money were your mouth is?” The same applies to marketing your wares. I think “nut up or shut up” also applies, but its a tad cruder to tell your 80 year old grandma who wants to self-pub her book of recipes. In lieu, sometimes you gotta take a risk. Just don’t bet the farm. Play it smart, ask and listen to those connections, share what has worked or hasn’t worked. A word to the wise, among small press folk, BookBub is a known book promoter that lives by the slogan, money well spent.

 

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Above all this noise, the most important thing publishing schmoes can do is keep writing, keep publishing, keep moving forward. And if you want those quality stories to reach more readers, you need to be willing to adapt to new technology. Last year, I was introduced to a little thing called Audiobooks. This is not new, per say. The spirit of audiobooks has been around a long time, back in the land before TVs and cable networks. Audio entertainment is not a new idea, but the tech behind it has come a long way since The Shadow and Little Orphan Annie broadcasted to delighted listeners gathered around a cherry red cabinet Philco radio. Cassette tapes came, followed by CDs. Nowadays, we’ve got digital recordings. At first, it was new and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I turned my nose up at it. But then Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) made everything so bloody simple its almost scary. I jumped in and released 4 titles on ACX last year and have released 2 titles thus far in 2017.

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The idea here isn’t that your putting out even more stories (though you ought to be working on that). The idea is to use the technology available in order to put your work on as many platforms as possible so you can reach readers on the format that suits them best. And you’d be surprised. Audio is a expanding market for books. And the more this tech develops, the more affordable it becomes. Readers are now listeners, tuning in while driving to or from work or school. City and urban consumers plugged into YOUR book from their phones or tablets while they ride the train or bus or even airplane. Times are a-changing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing unless we let it, right?

Thomas S. Flowers is known for his character-driven stories of dark fiction ranging from Shakespearean gore feasts to paranormal thrillers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, his debut novel, Reinheit, was published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston-Clear Lake with a Bachelors in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he reviews movies and books and hosts a gambit of guest writers who discuss a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can follow Thomas by joining his author newsletter at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.

Now Available for YOUR earbuds!!!

The Hobbsburg Horror Audiobook


New Release: 13 Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series Book 2)

Following the huge success with 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction that released last October (keeping on the top charts for horror anthologies ever since), Limitless Publishing has decided to bring even more dark fiction and horror. 13: Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series Book 2) has just released and as one of the authors in the anthology, I couldn’t be any more excited. The authors you enjoyed in the first 13 book are back with brand new tales, most of which are either sequels or continuations in some way to the work done in the original 13, to include: by Bradon Nave, Elizabeth Roderick, Carissa Ann Lynch, Sara Schoen, Marissa Farrar, Thomas S. Flowers, S. Valentine, Erin Lee, Jackie Sonnenberg, Samie Sands, Luke Swanson, D.A. Roach, and Taylor Henderson

For my part, you will find the next installment in my continuing Twin Pines Hotel stories, completely exclusive to the 13 Anthology Series. You witnessed Will Fenning’s strange demise in Room 313, now bear witness to the story of mass murderer Andy Derek and his confrontation with Room 249. iScream Books had this to say regarding the story:

A disturbing story of a cross country cold blooded murder spree. The murderer hides out in a unique hotel while the man hunt ensues. I found myself cringing and grossed out with this story but I also found it very unique and clever with its plot.

Pickup your copy today on Amazon for only $0.99!!!

 

 


Book Featurette: The Exchange

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Unemployed and out of ideas, Jake and his friends head into town for something to do. But before long they are in over their heads. Determined to get their friend back from the clutches of a lethal and shadowy group, the teenagers find themselves in possession of an object with mysterious powers. With their sanity crumbling amidst a warping reality, the gang is cornered on a wasteland in the middle of the city, caught in a bloodthirsty battle between criminal underlords, religious sects, and sadistic maniacs. Nightmares become reality as the stakes begin to rise. Who will have the upper hand and who will survive this deadly encounter as they bargain for their lives in this most deadly exchange.

What readers are saying about The Exchange:

“The Exchange is the stuff of nightmares. J.R. Park takes us on a fast-paced ride of warring factions in competition for the most coveted prize in existence. We are thrust in and out of fantastically hellish realms, as the protagonists struggle to survive the exchange. An engaging story that will leave you in wonder– highly recommended.” -Lydian Faust

“This book had a lot of action. I felt it was almost like a run-on sentence, seemed to me the action was running at full speed with no end in site. But overall good book.” -Thomas Hobbs

“The Exchange thrusts the reader into the heart of the action from the first page. Our story begins with two groups facing off against each other in an abandoned building site, each holding something the other group wants. As I was reading I kept waiting for the ‘6 hours earlier’, ’12 hours earlier’ or ’24 hours earlier’ flashback that would delve into everyone’s backstories explaining who they were and how they all got into this mess. Wisely, the book NEVER does this. You get a few lines here and there helping to fill in the blanks, but you’re never yanked away from the action as more and more characters with their own motivations drop in to complicate things further, never letting the plot get onto an even keel. As a result, it can be discombobulating and perplexing. There’s a cosmic puzzle at the heart of The Exchange and occasionally it feels like the author is going far out of his way to deny the reader all the pieces. Thankfully, the action surrounding the central mystery is fantastic. The book is at its best when people are dying in extraordinarily gruesome ways, being tormented by fantastical visions or being transformed into monsters. There’s a level of detail and originality in the descriptions that sets the writing apart from that of others in the current horror field. There were certain inconsistencies in the final pages, along with a conclusion that felt more like a set-up for a future book, that kept this from being a 5-star work for me, but even so, it’s still the most purely entertaining horror novel I’ve read this year. And it has unicorns! (N.B. The book has its own soundtrack, listed in the opening pages. I wasn’t able to listen to it all, but I played it along with the first few chapters and it’s pretty good. I recommend it.)” -Amazon Reviewer

“Park is a much-needed shot in the arm for gritty pulp horror.” – DLS Reviews

You can get YOUR copy of The Exchange on Amazon for $2.99

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Justin Park is no stranger to Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us both Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Werewolf in London (1935), and The Beyond (1981). Mr. Park draws from the crazy worlds of exploitation cinema and pulp literature for his literary inspiration. His family are both equally proud and disturbed by his literary output dragged from a mind they helped to cultivate. He resides on the outskirts of Bristol in the UK and hopes one day they’ll let him in. Mr. Park is the author of several twisted tales of morbid doom, including Upon Waking and Terror Byte and Punch. He was also featured with a horrifyingly wonderful short in the horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. Besides giving his readers terrifying nightmares, Mr. Park is also one of the founding members of the up and coming UK Publishing team, The Sinister Horror Company, active in promoting other writers and attending numerous conventions. You can read his review on A&C Meet Frank here.


Book Featurette: Chasing Ghosts

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The Cobbs were ignorant woods-people that died off and left nothing to fear. Locals in Naples, Maine think they know this story. But are they wrong? Luke Howard and his mom move to Naples and Luke’s eager to make new friends. When Jason and Davey invite him out to the abandoned Cobb place for a game they call “chasing ghosts,” he’s ready and willing. However, the boys will come to discover that some vacant houses are better left to die alone. Meanwhile, a punk band set to play in a rented cabin out of town feel eyes upon them. Somebody’s watching, but not their usual audience. When their lead singer strays too far from the group and disappears, his band mates set out in the darkness to find him. Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there’s more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined. Chasing ghosts is more than just some children’s game.

Chasing Ghosts according to reviewers:

“Glenn Rolfe has upped his game again with this one. Blood and Rain had blood and guts and gore but this one has much more than that. You get really gritty parts but the suggestive way that it is written makes your mind go into overtime. You can at times literally feel the pain.” – Confessions of a Reviewer

Chasing Ghosts is one of the scariest books I have read in a while and it may just be Glenn’s darkest work yet…definitely my favorite novella of the year” – The Horror Bookshelf

“With shades of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, Rolfe also summons his inner-Laymon and, in my opinion, outdoes what his predecessor couldn’t do.” – Into the Macabre

“This is a fantastic read! I can’t recall how many times I muttered, ‘holy s***’ while reading it, but it happened a lot. Wow.” -Somer Monique Canon

You can get your copy of Chasing Ghosts on Amazon for $2.99

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Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness. He’s the author of Blood and Rain, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, Things We Fear, and Slush. He’s already in his dark room scribbling away on his next story. Stay tuned. Find him at: http://www.glennrolfe.com

Opus Questions with J.R. Park

Next on our insidious list of horror writers is none other than J.R. Park. If you do recall, we’ve been traveling down this macabre road to discover what tickles the underbelly for horror writers, that is, what kinds of books do dark and unusual wordsmiths keep on their shelves? When it comes to writing, one must read. It is a necessity for the trade in which we like to keep. Reading other works helps showcase a range of talent by not only reading our own genre of choice but also other genres. And when it comes to horror writers, we are often found to have a wide assortment of favorite books we like to keep close-by. And because we are “prolific readers”  we can reach into a deep chasm of knowledge and information that helps shape and adds depth to our own stories. So, in keeping things interesting and to be a bit villainess on my part, I’ve asked my guests to tell us what their two favorite books are and why. That’s right. You heard me. Only two!!! (laughs manically) So, without further ado, here is… J.R. Park:

The crafty author of Reinheit asked me to nominate and write about two of my favourite books.  Since he extended the invitation I have been pondering over exactly which two to choose.  Whilst I make it no secret that the books of Guy N Smith was the spark that ignited my motivation to finally sit down and write I didn’t want to repeat myself.  Nor did I want to write about classics that you have read about countless times.  Whilst I have a big love and admiration for Alice In Wonderland, The Picture Of Dorian Gray and The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, these books have been discussed often. So instead I thought about my horror influences and the books that guided me on to that shadowy path from an early age. My first selection would be House Of Hell by Steve Jackson.  This was book number 10 in the Fighting Fantasy series: a collection of choose your own adventure books with a combat gaming system involved.  Most of the series was set in a fantasy world with the usual goblins, dwarves and elves as well as a breath-takingly imaginative menagerie of original creations.  House of Hell was the odd one out in that it was set in modern times.

House of Hell, Steve Jackson, 1984

House of Hell, Steve Jackson, 1984

In the book you are the central character and after driving through a storm and crashing into a ditch you spy an old house and decide to take shelter.  From this moment the choice of the story is in your hands and you can either knock on the door or wander round the side of the house and investigate this potential place of refuge. Once inside the house things get real nasty quickly.  Wandering through the corridors and different floors you encounter zombies, a hunch back, devil worshippers, fire sprites, severed heads, scary ass demons and more.  At the young age of seven this was spooky fun, made even more creepy by having the submersive element of being able to decide what to do next.  I was so scared of turning the wrong corner that I’d keep my fingers in previous pages so I could quickly go back. Unfortunately this would end up with me marking six or seven sections, running out of fingers and make turning the next page an impossibility. I still have my original book from 1985, horded like a piece of treasure and still love to look over the stunning artwork inside. To this day I never completed the book and vanquished the House Of Hell, but I’ll keep trying. My second horrific piece of prose is the sensual and genre breaking work that is Cabal by Clive Barker.  It was 1990 and although still young I was beginning to read more adult books.  Nightbreed was coming out as a movie and I remember seeing it being written about in computer game magazines of the time.

Cabal, Clive Barker, 1988

Cabal, Clive Barker, 1988

Intrigued by this, but knowing I was far too young to be allowed to watch the film I tracked down the book, discovering it to be called Cabal.  Reading this book I realised horror could be much more than the adaptation of Stephen King stories I had seen played late night on the TV.  Barker offered an intellectualism that I had not encountered in the genre mixed with an eroticism that seeped through the text on the page. I read the first few chapters in my mum’s car as she drove me back from the neighbouring city where I had bought my copy.  By the time we had arrived home I had already been witness to a man losing his mind, overdosing on meds and trying to kill himself by jumping in front of truck, only to end up in a hospital with a lunatic that spouted about monsters before tearing his own face off. The speed of the action was wonderful.  Within a short space of time we had gore, horror and the building of an imaginative mythology. The imagination only flourished from there.  A wave of monstrous outcasts, rejects from society, filled the pages as they banded together for survival.  This was a very poignant sentiment for my young teenage mind at the time. I have read this book more times than any other and the beautiful thing is that I keep reading different interpretations. It was only last year I read that Cabal was considered the first openly gay horror story, an allegory I had not thought of before.  But it fits with the ‘Breed being an underground culture persecuted by the Church, the Police and Psychiatry (something very true for the gay community in the 1980s/ early 90s). Another comment and viewpoint came from the author himself, explaining how it was a reaction of the old, fantastical horror of myth and beasts vs the new horror of hack and slash, human killers. I won’t labour the point any more, but this book has hidden depths, deeper than the 268 pages it is printed on. With a restoration of the ‘directors cut’ of the film and a TV series currently being worked on I suggest you take a look at the source material and read this wonderful novella.

jrpark I want to thank J.R. Park for taking the time to sit with us and discuss the two books that have helped shape how he sees and understands horror. I’ve seen Nightbreed but have yet to read Cabal. I think I’ll be adding a new book to my reading list. Thanks! J.R. Park is the author of horror fiction and strange tales, including both Punch and Terror Byte. Mr. Park is also contributing to a horror anthology titled The Black Room Manuscripts to be released later this year. You can keep up with J.R. Park on his website and follow him on Twitter.


Hobo: A Horror Short Story

There isn’t a real post per say. There is no real discussion going on here. This is just some good old fashion shameless self-promotion!

Besides posting articles on this site, ranging anywhere from history to horror movie reviews and even a random political conversation, besides all that,  I also fancy myself a fiction writer. I dabble a little in the dark arts of horror fiction and suspense and while I’m waiting for one short story title to be considered for publication with TOR, I’m biding my time with another short story. For whatever reason, other than just getting this out there for people to read, I’ve decided to self publish this second piece, called “Hobo: A horror short story.”

Here is an exurb for your reading pleasure:

 

The red glow of the traffic was eternal. Beverly wiped what looked to be a crumb off her Ivanka Trump dress pants, pretending as if the hobo was not there, in the median, next to her luxury car. She said a small prayer of thanks that the valet had stored her shopping bags in the trunk. She remembered handing the young twenty-something a Hamilton as he closed her door. He was handsome and young. She fantasied a late night rondevu, perhaps a bar encounter. “What are you having,” she’d ask. He was silent in her mind; his deep blue eyes did the talking, and his toned arms, and legs…and the tight bulge in his designer jeans. Her smile curved with hunger, but quickly went away. From her peripheral, she could tell that the hobo was talking to her now, muttering something inaudible through her tinted driver’s side window. He began to tilt the sign to give her a better angle.  Beverly thought of turning on the radio, but decided against it. She did not want to make any movement that would suggest she was reaching for anything. Her eyes remained fixed on the light.

“Please turn, please turn. Come on – turn,” she breathed.

The man abandoned his resting place and shuffled toward her. Beverly dared a glance. And for a moment they locked eyes. She could see his deep brown irises’ and the swollen blue and purple bags underneath. His cheeks were hollow. Afraid to take breaths through her nose, Beverly swore she could smell his stink of skunk and booze choking through the window. Sneaking another glance, she could see something else in those browns, there was something other than hunger, perhaps anger or resentment because she was well off and he was poor, or maybe she was the only vehicle stopped at the light, the only one he could beg and bother. Or perhaps because he didn’t like women and meant her harm. Or maybe he was drunk, she wasn’t for certain, but whatever it was, she despised those morose eyes. She despised that he was looking at her, judging her for not giving him money.

The hobo was off the curb and in the gutter when Beverly waved her hand, dismissing him with the universal sign for, “Sorry, no money. Please go away.” The man kept coming. Reaching her driver side door, he placed a surprisingly large hand on the dark glass. Smearing dirt or whatever else collected from lying in the street. The hobo smiled at her, exposing gaps where teeth had once resided, and those that remained were both yellow and nasty. He let his sign drop to the ground, moving his other hand up, cupping the tinted window, peering inside. Beverly reached for the locking mechanism, again. The bolts danced back and forth, unable to lock any further. The man opened his mouth wide, brandishing his black tongue, and fogged her window with a long drawn exhale. With one large finger he wrote, “Hungry” in the cloud.

If you are interested in reading more, you can check it out on Amazon Kindle.

Or, if you are interested in being an “not so” advanced reader and receive a free copy (PDF) of Hobo and are able to leave a review on Amazon, just let me know via comment or private message.

Thanks!