A new era at Machine Mean
You may have noticed that a new name has been added to the banner of the Machine Mean site. I thought this would be as good a time as any to introduce myself. My name is Chad Clark, indie author of horror and science fiction. I have accepted the gracious invitation from the talented Mr. Flowers to join on as a partner on the Machine Mean blog.
I have been writing for most of my life, a passion which was forged in the incredible popular culture of the 1980’s. Whether it was the magic of Spielberg and Lucas or the grit of Stephen King and George Romero, I was quickly hooked on the art of storytelling. I was an avid reader from an early age and was fortunate enough to have parents who were willing to give me room to explore the areas that interested me.
After high school and as I got into college, I took some time away from writing as my passions went elsewhere. As was likely inevitable though, I found my way back to books, both to read and to write. After re-dedicating myself to the craft, I would have the honor to publish my first book in 2014, a collection of shorter stories titled, Borrowed Time : And Other Tales.
In 2013, I also launched my first blog, The Baked Scribe. The blog would start with featuring new short stories every week and as it grew, would also add essays on the craft of writing as well as book reviews. The Baked Scribe would last for several years and total two hundred stories before closing its doors earlier this year. In addition to my initial book, I have published a novel, Behind Our Walls, two novellas, Down The Beaten Path and Yesterday, When We Died and two collections of flash fiction, A Shade For Every Season and Two Bells At Dawn (due to be released on July 26). My short stories have been featured in various anthologies as well as on Amazon. In 2016, I also took on a position as a reviewer for the book blog, Confessions Of A Reviewer.
So that brings us to Machine Mean.
What will I be doing for the site? In addition to assisting Thomas with some behind the scenes stuff, I will be posting book reviews every other Wednesday. On the off weeks, I will post a piece of original short fiction. These will be either new stories or will be classic issues brought back from the Baked Scribe. I will also be sharing posts from my other online project, Tracing The Trails, an examination of the works of Stephen King as I read every one of his books in order and review each one along the way.
I am looking forward to this opportunity to work with Thomas on the site and to bring you more of the great content you have come to expect. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or comments. If you are interested in seeing more of my work, you can click here to check out my official website and here for my Amazon author page. You can also follow me on Facebook. Look for the page for Chad A. Clark.
Thanks for your attention and for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here!
July 19, 2017 | Categories: Local Happenings | Tags: amwriting, books, dark fiction, Fantasy, fiction, Horror, indie, indie author, indie fiction, science fiction, writing | Leave a comment
Come to the Feast
What would you do for family? I’d say most of us would do anything for family. However, we can imagine of certain situations in which we couldn’t do everything for family. We couldn’t betray our core values, or moral obligations, or our principles…or could we? I think for the most part we follow something similar to Issac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics when it comes to the lengths we’ll go or will not go for family. The law is as follows, with some tweaking on my part to adjust to our question of family.
A family member may not injure another family member or, through inaction, allow a family member to come to harm. A son/daughter must obey orders given by their parents except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A person must protect their own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Something kinda like that, though not perfectly fitting, of course, this is just a thought exercise. And in actuality, the First and Second Laws typically conflict with each other, as demonstrated in the cartoon on the side.
And why do the Laws come in conflict? Because people are beautifully horrifyingly imperfect. Imperfection invites conflict. Anyone with mothers or fathers or brothers or sisters or really close cousins know all too perfectly how imperfect people can be. And yet, we cannot escape our families, though I am sure some have tried and succeeded in some measure, but overall our love remains for our sisters who are still our sister, our brothers still our brother, etc. etc. This brings us back to my original question: What would you do for family?
This question over the lengths we’re willing to go for family is what inspired the story in my latest book. FEAST is the story of a family, dysfunctional perhaps, but in the end, still family. Titus Fleming is a father and a businessman, and as the story progresses his dual nature between the two conflict. Is he a father more or is he a businessman? His surviving son, Luke, is going through a transformation in his life, becoming who he has always been, Lavinia. but when tragedy and scandal-beset his family, an arrangement will be made that will conflict with who Lavinia (Luke) really is.
And then there is the barbarous Lange family. Tamora and her two sons, Chad and Drake, and her employee Aaron. Who are they in this story? Victims? Perpetrators? Accomplices? Allies? What are these sons willing to do for their mother?
FEAST will ask those questions.
I am very excited for this release! FEAST is an extreme horror story inspired by Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus, one of my favorites from the famous playwright. Maybe a bit twisted to admit, but I had a lot of fun writing this book. The story and the characters pushed me into worlds and situations I have not dared to go before. While I do enjoy conjuring fantastic creatures, FEAST reminded me of the most horrifying of all horror monsters, humanity. Big shout out to my friend Travis Eck who came up with the design for the cover. I simply gave him a concept and he ran with it. Producing his own creation and artwork. Totally blew me away, as always, with his work and talent. Also, some thanks are in order for Jeffery X. Martin for editing my horrible use of the English language. Shout out to my favorite Canadian, Duncan Ralston, for not only helping me with the formatting of this book but also inspiring me to delve into a subgenre of horror I have only previously flirted with.
To help introduce the characters in Feast, here are some “character cards” that will provide a sort of visual representation:
What would you do for family?
Between the rural Texas towns of Bass and Sat is one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in America. Big Butts Bar-B-Que has been the seat of power for the Fleming family since the Great Depression, but when tragedy and scandal-beset Titus and his surviving transgender son Lavinia, deals are made to keep control of the restaurant. An arrangement that will put a father at odds with his legacy. As the table is set, is it just the keys to the barbecue kingdom some are after, or something else entirely?
An extreme horror story inspired by Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus.
Get YOUR copy today!
Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of character-driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Apocalypse Meow, Lanmò, and his newest release, The Hobbsburg Horror. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, including Dwelling, Emerging, Conceiving, and Converging (coming soon), are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving 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 on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can keep up with Thomas and all his strange events by joining his author newsletter, at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.
April 14, 2017 | Categories: Book Review, Horror | Tags: barbecue, books, cannibalism, dark, dark fiction, extreme horror, family, family values, fiction, graphic, homosexuality, Horror, indie author, indie authors, indie fiction, LGBTQ, lust, new book release, new release, novel, Novella, pain, Shadow Work Publishing, Shakespeare, social satire, Titus Andronicus, torture, transgender, values, William Shakespeare | 5 Comments
Book Featurette: Hunting Witches
Mark and Nika Pendleton have just moved into the small town of Elders Keep. But the presence of the newcomers has awakened the evil that lives in the forest. Now, the Pendletons are in more danger than they’ve ever known as forces beyond their comprehension conspire against them. Pray for the Pendletons before it’s too late.
What readers are saying about Hunting Witches:
“An old time witch hunting story reminiscent of times in ancient history with a modern feel to it. It has scary parts and humorous parts. It has plenty of blood and guts when you want it. It is filled with emotion and a tale that will totally draw you into every printed word.” -Confessions of a Reviewer
“Elder’s Keep is the type of town you’d like to pass on by and never look back. Yet, some of us, including myself, can’t wait to return. In “Hunting Witches,” we meet Mark and Nika Pendleton, a modern couple who can’t wait to buy their old-fashioned, southern dream-home in Elder’s Keep- a seemingly sleepy town with a turbulent undercurrent. Familiar characters return, as the sheriff of the Keep struggles to maintain the balance between personal and professional, and struggles between the dark and the even darker forces at work in the Keep. References to witchcraft, folklore, Christian, Pagan, and even Satanic tradition, are woven throughout the work and are a pleasant surprise to scholars of folklore and/or religion. Five is a number oft-repeated … This is an engaging work, part of a series that I hope will continue. We get yet another glimpse into the mythology of the town of Elder’s Keep, and I hope that we get to dig in further.” -Lydian Faust
“I’m not usually a fan of horror but this story really captures some of the mysterious and creepy feelings that permeate the landscape and culture of West Tennessee. The romantic relationships are fun to read and entirely believable. Hope there is a sequel!” -Amazon Reviewer
“When a young couple moves to an idyllic Tennessee town, happiness ensues, right? This is a novel with roots in a collection of short stories by the same author. You’ve likely read the synopsis, and telling anymore would inevitably bring spoilers, and I will not do that. You must get this book, and help out an indie author who has a seriously twisted, and often humorous voice. It is speaking loud and needs to get louder.” -Chuck Knight
“King has Derry, Martin has the Keep. We all give things a second thought when they go “bump”. Read the anthologies for character backgrounds and just because they are great. Definitely worth the wait.” -Amazon Reviewer
You can get YOUR copy of Hunting Witches for $4.99!!
Jeffery X. Martin is the published author of several stories that are sure to shock, including those in the Elders Keep universe. He also published a fantastic tale in The Black Room Manuscripts. You can find his work, including his latest novel, Hunting Witches, on Amazon’s blood-soaked altar. When Mr. X is not writing creepy mind-benders, he’s the host and/or contributor to several podcasts and review sites, including but not limited to, Popshifter, Kiss the Goat, and the Cinema Beef Podcast. He is a frequent contributor to Machine Mean, reviewing for us The Wolf Man (1941), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and Squirm (1976).
December 30, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: American Dream, book boost, Book Review, books, creepy, cults, dark fiction, fiction, Hunting Witches, indie, indie author, indie fiction, Jeffery X Martin, novel, podcaster, podcasts, publish, racism, religion, Reviews, shock, small towns, Supernatural, Tennessee, thriller, tragedy, witches | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Hexagram
Their lands plagued by invaders, the Inca resort to an ancient ritual. By harvesting star dust from people, they hope to accumulate enough to raise the sun god, Inti, and reclaim their lands. Yet when the collection is interrupted, it sets in motion events which will rattle human history. Six stories. Six different time periods. One outcome.
We are all made of stars.
When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history. Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.
Yet…the most unlikeliest of them all will succeed.
What readers are saying about Hexagram:
“A rip-roaring boy’s own adventure yarn. This novel contains multitudes, and the sheer scale and breadth of the story is exhilarating. A glorious unhinged thrill ride.” – Kit Power, author of GodBomb!
“Hexagram is a visceral journey through the dark nooks and crannies of human history. Lovecraftian terror merges with blood sacrifice, suicide cults and body horror as Bradshaw weaves an intricate plot into an epic tale of apocalyptic dread.” – Rich Hawkins, author of The Last Plague trilogy
“In an interweaving of horror, science fiction, metaphysics, and mystery, readers travel a path convoluted and purposeful, from the era of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, through the cleaning-up post-conquest (loading the gold and delivering it to Spain), pausing at the American Civil War, the Whitechapel murders of 1888, and continuing to the present, where the path and its purpose collide and all is revealed. Lest a potential reader might think that this novel is only science fiction, or perhaps New Age, I assure that horror resides as well on every single page, and the gore content is high and mighty.” -The Haunted Reading Room
“…a novel following various groups of people as they all try and achieve one goal across many centuries. A scary concept that could have delivered more for me on the horror front but makes up for that with the blood and literal guts. Either way, it’s Duncan P Bradshaw. You need to read it.” -Confessions of a Reviewer
“…an ambitious novel that jumps around a lot and because of this it could become Bradshaw’s Vegemite novel, meaning you either like it or you don’t. I did like it, a lot. The pacing is very good and I felt the short stories intertwined well, whilst being long enough without outstaying their welcome. The witty dialogue was enjoyable and there were some great scenes of gore. I read it in two sessions so it’s a thumbs up from me. Extra points to Bradshaw for mentioning the cricket, too!” -Adrian Shotbolt
You can get YOUR copy of Hexagram for the low-low price of $2.99!!!
Living in a hollowed out pumpkin, Duncan P. Bradshaw finds October the most troublesome of months, as people become intent on sticking flaming candles into the midst of his happy abode. In fact, the only good thing to come about from it is the copious amount of candy that he steals from passers-by. When they have all sodded right off, he retires to the tip of the stalk, which affords him excellent views of the neighbourhood. As the rest of the street slumbers, he writes down the weird and wonderful thoughts that have built up during the day, like the plaque. Find out what he writes down, by checking out his website http://duncanpbradshaw.co.uk/ or follow him on Facebook, where he does all manner of things https://www.facebook.com/duncanpbradshaw/
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking on the image below to receive updates on sales and new releases, and also the latest horror news.
December 23, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Action, adventure, American History, apocalyptic fiction, book reviews, books, Civil War, Duncan Bradshaw, English History, fiction, gold, Gore, Guest author, Hexagram, historical fiction, History, Horror, Inca Empire, indie, indie author, indie authors, indie fiction, invaders, metaphysics, Mystery, novels, Reviews, ritual, science fiction, Small Press, Spain, Spanish, Spanish history, star dust, stars, thriller | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Killer Moves (Horror High Series Book 3)
After last year’s tragedy, life at Horror High should go back to normal…
Winter Addams has always loved to cheer and she’s ready to finally focus on the squad and their upcoming competition. But when a suspicious note is found on the body of a dead cheerleader, everyone immediately fears the worst. Is the real killer still out there?
Ready. Set. Stay alive…
Winter and the squad head out to a national competition, determined to reestablish themselves and clean up the school’s reputation. But danger follows Horror High everywhere, and another cheerleader ends up in the hospital. With half a squad, and a killer on the loose, Winter and her friends fear it may be time to give up cheer for good.
Quitting won’t save them now…
The sociopath behind the murders has it out for the squad, and all their lives are at stake. Not everyone will survive the final season of…
What readers are saying about Killer Moves:
“This is the 3rd book in this series and please grab and read the 1st two books in the series. So here we are another year at horror high, The cheerleaders have been stalk, and killed by a sociopath, and just when they think it finally over, it’s not. These poor cheerleader, wow there is a sentence I never thought I would write. I loved reading this series, made me glad I was a band geek, lol. Anywho I will not give any spoilers… So go grab these books! Find out how KILLER these cheerleaders are. Fantastic Job Carissa. I would recommend this series to any horror loving YA readers.” -Amazon Reviewer
“I love this book!!! Carissa knows how to suck you in, and keep you guessing! The psycho is finally revealed and it’s a shocker!! Me Likey the Book!” -Me Likey The Books
“This is a great wrap up to an amazing series. This author always keeps me on my toes- this is the 6th book of hers I’ve read- and Killer Moves was no exception. I was enthralled, and couldn’t put it down until I reached the end. And the end was amazing! I had no idea….never even crossed my mind to suspect… I love it when I can find books that keep me guessing and Carissa Ann Lynch never disappoints. Great book, great series. 5 stars.” -Wendy
“Being a longtime fan of Carissa Lynch, I always get super excited whenever her new book hits the shelves because I know that she’ll take me on a wild ride of suspense, mind games and my fruitless attempts to figure out who the murderer is. ‘Killer Moves,’ a third book in the ‘Horror High’ series, was exactly what I was so anxiously waiting for, and even more. The mood and atmosphere in this one is even darker and more ominous, and the intrigue is masterfully built up until it reaches its boiling point in the final scene where the killer finally reveals…themselves (I’m not going to spoil you the ending, so I’ll just admit that I suspected both boys and girls!). The Harrow – or Horror – High (as the name for this high school is very well deserved by now) cheerleading team is off to the cheerleading competitions, but that’s where the Sociopath strikes again, threatening the team with more bloodshed if they keep pursuing the championship. Throw in the mix a rival school’s team, more suspicions that fall onto yesterday’s friends, two girls fighting for a boy’s attention, and you have yourself a perfect thriller that you won’t be able to put down. I’d love to give ten stars to this brilliant conclusion of the “Horror High” series, and I already can’t wait for a new thrilling ride from the talented Ms. Lynch. Amazing, as always!” -Amazon Reviewer
You can get YOUR copy of Killer Moves (Horror High Series Book 3) for the mere price of $3.99!!!
Carissa Ann Lynch is the author of the Flocksdale Files trilogy, Horror High series, Grayson’s Ridge, This Is Not About Love, 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction, and Dark Legends: A Collection of 20 Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Novels. She resides in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with her husband and three children. Besides her family, her greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, smelling them…well, you get the idea.
Connect with Carissa by following her and checking out her work on the following places:
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/chb46z
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2bKQCyz
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking on the image below to receive updates on new book sales and releases, and also the latest and greatest horror movie and book reviews.
December 22, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book reviews, book series, books, Carissa Ann Lynch, cheerleader, cheerleading, cheerleading horror, fiction, high school, high school murder, Horror, Horror High, indie, indie author, indie fiction, Killer Moves, Limitless Publishing, novels, psycho, Reviews, serial killer, series, sociopath, thriller, YA, young adult | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Behind Our Walls
The world has fallen to ash.
Governments have collapsed, police and armies no longer exist and the people of the world have been left behind to fend for themselves in the midst of escalating violence and nuclear fallout.
One community of survivors find each other, come together and try to rebuild, to start over. Confronting the threats from without and within, they do everything necessary to find the only thing left, the most scarce resource of all.
What readers are saying about Behind Our Walls:
“I read Chad A. Clark’s short story collection, Borrowed Time, a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. So, when I learned that he was expanding one of those stories into a novel, I was excited to get to read it. You don’t need to have read the short story first, and the story is included at the end of the novel, since the novel is a sort of prequel to that story, laying out the what happened before ‘Tomorrow’s Memory.’ Behind Our Walls is a unique take on post-apocalyptic fiction. There are no zombies, no dictatorships, no aliens. The threats are not external and easy to unite against. The world has simply fallen apart and we are watching it reform around Sophie, our young protagonist. Many of the themes popular in post-apocalyptic fiction are present here–extreme situations bringing out the worst and best in people, trust as a limited commodity, resource management for survival. But I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel before that focused on “what happens now” so fully. Backstories and causes of the downfall of the world take a serious backseat to grappling with how society will reform in the new reality. The novel begins with Sophie on the run in the company of her parents, her sister Corrine, her sister’s fiance Adam, and a man named Rowen. Without getting too spoilery, I think it safe to tell you that they meet other travelers and that people are lost, new alliances are made, and betrayals happen. I was engaged by the story and cared about the characters throughout. There good tension and suspense regarding what decisions different characters might make and what struggles they would face. I recommend the book for those who enjoy post-apocalyptic or survival stories but are looking for something a little different in that genre.” – Samantha Dunaway Bryant
“An excellent debut novel by Chad A. Clark for fans of postapocalyptic fiction. The characters and their actions are believable and each is well-defined. Behind Our Walls is a quick read and does what most excellent stories do — leaves you wanting more. Looking forward to future works from Mr. Clark.” -Amazon Reviewer
“I would say that the story has a young adult feel to it, but be warned there are some dark moments, albeit not so explicitly described as to make this 18+ (in my view). As a self-published work the formatting sometimes reveals the odd typo, but nothing too numerous or jarring to shake the reader out of the story. I would recommend this book to those who love post-apocalyptic scenarios but are looking for rich character interaction as opposed to violent gore or horror elements. It was an engaging read and I think we’re going to be seeing some more first class output from Chad Clark in the future.” -Amazon Reviewer
“The interesting thing about post-apocalyptic fiction is that it becomes a sort of character study. You’d think we’d want to know more about “how” the world ends, a virus, flesh-eating zombies, alien invasion the likes of War of the Worlds, something. But sometimes, the best apocalyptic stories are stories about us. Stories about what we do when faced with uncertainty. When the warm fuzzy blanket of banality falls to a cold stone floor, what will you do? This is my first foray into the mind of Chad A. Clark, and it won’t be my last. The work here was very daring. While most writers focus on the Hollywood action of ‘how-it-all-happened,’ Clark focuses on ‘what to do we do now?’ Now that the wall has fallen, do we rebuild another? I find it interesting that while most would indeed write a book with a modern definition of ‘apocalypse,’ being the end of the world, humanity, etc. etc., instead, Clark gives us a story that defines the original Greek definition of ‘apocalypse,’ which means a disclosure of knowledge, an unveiling, a revelation. And he presents his revelation in a tradition mode of storytelling, delivering both suspense and drama, around the family unit.” -Thomas S. Flowers (me)
You can get your copy of Behind Our Walls for the low-low price of $0.99!!!
Chad Clark is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us before with commentary on House of Dracula (1945) and House of 1000 Corpses. Mr. Clark is a midwestern author of horror and science fiction. His artistic roots can be traced back to the golden era of horror literature, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon being large influences. His love for horror began as well in the classic horror franchises of the eighties. He resides in Iowa with his wife and two sons. Clark’s debut novel, Borrowed Time, was published in 2014. His second novel, A Shade for Every Season was released in 2015, and in 2016 Clark published Behind Our Walls, a dark look at the human condition set in a post-apocalyptic world. His latest book, Down the Beaten Path, released in September 2016. You can keep up with all of Mr. Clark’s works by following him on Amazon here.
December 16, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: apocalypse, apocalyptic fiction, Behind Our Walls, Book Review, books, Chad Clark, characterization, characters, dark, dark fiction, downfall, end of the world, end times, fiction, horror stories, humanity, indie, indie author, indie fiction, novels, Parents, review, science fiction stories, Small Press, survival, walls | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: The Exchange
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
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.
December 15, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Action, book boost, book reviews, books, Comedy, dark fiction, extreme, extreme horror, Fantasy, fiction, gang, gangs, Guest author, Horror, horror books, horror fiction, indie, indie author, indie fiction, indie horror, J.R. Park, Justin Park, nightmares, Novella, novels, Reviews, scary, Sinister Horror Company, The Exchange, The Sinister Horror Company, twisted | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Breaking Point
BREAKING POINT – THE LIFELINE TRILOGY
A Cyclist is knocked unconscious on his way home and wakes up in a nightmare…
A devoted husband begins to suspect all is not well with his marriage…
A desperate family man, running out of time and options, turns to an old schoolmate from the wrong side of the tracks – looking for work – any work…
A young man’s world is thrown into chaos as his father is abducted…
Four tales of people pushed to BREAKING POINT.
What readers are saying about Breaking Point:
“Power gets splatterpunk in a way that few do.” – Bracken MacLeod
“One of the best novellas I’ve had the pleasure to read.” – Duncan Ralston
“This is my second book by Kit Power. I loved it as much as I loved GODBOMB. This collection of 4 short stories are well written and full of suspense. Each one will keep you on the edge of your seat and just about leave you breathless by the last page. Move this to the top of your to be read pile!! You won’t be sorry.” -Tina Marie.
“WOW! This book of short tales by the talented Kit Power is a stunning read. Like the famous book on anti-gravity, I couldn’t put it down. Genesis, the prequel to his superb novel GodBomb, blew me away with its emotional power and brutality. The Lifeline Trilogy consisting of ‘The Loving Husband and the Faithful Wife’, ‘The Debt’ and ‘Lifeline’ are extremely dark and made even more terrifying due to the fact that Kit Power has steered away from the realms of fantasy, and lingered uncomfortably within the domain of the feasible. Intense, and sinister is a great combination and Kit Power nails it yet again.” -Amazon Reviewer
You can get your copy of Breaking Point on Amazon for $2.99!
Kit Power lives in the UK and writes fiction that lurks at the boundaries of the horror, fantasy, and thriller genres, trying to bum a smoke or hitch a ride from the unwary. In his secret alter ego of Kit Gonzo, he also performs as the frontman (and occasionally blogs) for death cult and popular beat combo The Disciples Of Gonzo, http://www.disciplesofgonzo.com. Kit is no stranger to Machine Mean, you can read his phenomenal essay on Bride of Frankenstein here. And you can keep up with all his publications here.
December 14, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book reviews, books, Breaking Point, collections, dark, dark fiction, fiction, Gonzo, Guest author, Horror, horror reviews, indie, indie author, indie fiction, Kit Power, novels, Reviews, short stories, Sinister Horror Company, Small Press, thriller, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Final Review
Warning: Some Scenes May Disturb. Every author knows that paying too much attention to bad reviews will only lead to trouble, and Emma’s about to find this out the hard way, thanks to her boyfriend, Wade. After the success and praise received from her first book, the two that followed haven’t done so well, and the less than shining reviews have disheartened Emma to the point where she considers pulling her books and perhaps even giving up writing altogether. Wade will have none of that, however. When Emma tells Wade reviewers are calling her books “unrealistic,” Wade sets out to teach Emma how to add realism to her horror stories. Just how “real” things get goes far beyond Emma’s expectations.
What readers are saying about Final Review:
“DC + JL’s ‘Final Review’ is a train-wreck of a story, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. You stop, you stare, you gape. Eventually, you realize there will be no order to the chaos and destruction and watch with one eye closed and jaw clenched tight. To brave this well-written but totally insane journey through the rigors of human hell (kidnapping, torture, rape, murder etc.) is a trip that will never be forgotten. Read at your own peril. You may just get thrown under the train.” -Amazon Reviewer.
“Another great extreme horror story from Dawn. She is one of the best authors of this type of story. I look daily for her new books and was sure worth the wait from her last book. I hope we get another great extreme story sooner than later. This was sad but a great story.” -Amazon Reviewer
“Speaking of bad reviews, here’s mine. I absolutely hated this story. Had I known there was so much sex in it, I wouldn’t have got it. I love horror, but not erotic, torture horror. I kept reading because I adore Dawn Cano’s writing, and there’s usually a kicker at the end. I should have just stopped. The only reason I gave this tale 3 stars is because it was well written, and most people who like extreme horror will probably like this also. I’ll be back for Dawn’s next story, but I should’ve passed on this one.” -Lisa
“Oh boy, just when you think Dawn Cano hasn’t had enough wine after cooking babies, endearing hit men, here comes Final Review. A bats**it crazy writer (but not Dawn, ok are we clear?) who goes on a ‘let’s create a story from experience’ adventure with her boyfriend. Just when you think you cannot possibly get more disturbed, Dawn Cano is your answer. obviously more wine has to head your way!” -Colleen Cassidy
You can get your copy of Final Review for $0.99!!!
Dawn Cano, aka The Queen of Extreme, is the author of Final Review(w/ John Ledger), Cash Out, Violent Delights (w/ Lewis Duncan), and several other extreme horror stories. Her latest project, editor for VS: US Vs. UK, which is a horror anthology that is currently a top seller on Amazon, pulling several up and coming authors. She also writes reviews for The Ginger Nuts of Horror. You can keep up with her work here.
December 13, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Amazon, amazon kindle, book reviews, books, dark, dark fiction, Dawn Cano, disturbed, erotica, extreme, extreme horror, fiction, grim, Grindhouse, Guest author, Horror, indie, indie author, indie authors, indie horror, John Ledger, rape, Reviews, sex, short stories, torture | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Copper Veins (The Copper Legacy Series)
Sara’s pretty sure her life is perfect. Not only are she and Micah finally married, her father, who’d been missing since the Magic Wars, has been found. Actually, he just strode up to the manor’s front door, but whatever. Sara knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. But Baudoin Corbeau isn’t content to return to family life. He’s decided that he will be the force of change in the Mundane world, and lead the Elemental resistance to victory with his children at his side. What’s worse, Baudoin doesn’t approve of Sara’s marriage and makes every attempt to separate her from Micah. After a visit to the Mundane realm leaves Sara, Max, and Sadie imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, Sara’s doubts creep to the surface. Is her father right? Does she belong in the Mundane realm, not the Otherworld? Is Micah really the right man–make that elf–for her? Was marrying him a mistake?
What readers are saying about Copper Veins:
“This author reignited my love of fantasy – something I lost for a very long time since I was a little girl. I slowly read my way through this novel, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I didn’t want it to end. I love all the romance between Sara and Micah, and the tight family bonds between Sara and her family. In this installment, Sara and Micah are married. Life is perfect… or so it seems. Why doesn’t Sara’s father not approve of her husband? And why does her father seem like a stranger? Sara struggles with these issues and when she eventually learns the truth, it shocks her to her very core. I was rather surprised too, and the plot twist was anything but predictable. I recommend this series to fans of romance and urban fantasy – if you like both genres, all the better!” -April L. Wood
“I love this series! I thoroughly enjoy reading what these characters are up to and can’t wait for the next book!!” -Katherine
“It’s been so long since I Read the last book, I didn’t know if I would remember the storylines… But as soon as I started to read Copper Veins, I fell right back in love with Micah and Sara’s many adventures… And when they thought her father came back only to find her Married, I hated you for stopping it there… But as the many months ticked by while waiting for the next book. I understand why you did and I forgave you !!I don’t really hate you. But I am waiting for a book about Micah and Sara’s life with kid’s in the mix..how long do we have to wait this time??” -Amazon Reviewer
“There are surprises, secrets and the reappearance of old enemies. There are still many dangers ahead but they will have to wait for book four.” – Paranormal Romance Guild
You can get your copy of Copper Veins (Copper Legacy Book 3) for $4.99
Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs, and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and read every book in the local library by the age of twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction. You can keep up with Jennifer’s work here.
December 13, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book reviews, books, Copper Veins, Fantasy, fiction, fiction reviews, Guest author, indie, indie author, Jennifer Allis Provost, novel, novels, paranormal fantasy, paranormal romance, Reviews, romance, supernatual, The Copper Legacy Series | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Life After the Undead
Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she’s going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they’re migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life. Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves. Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.
What readers are saying about Life After the Undead:
“I bonded with Krista quickly because of her curiosity, the need to know why the zombies do what they do and we head to Florida, traveling through the grisly horror with the excellent writing and storyline, including a laugh or two along the way.” -Amazon Reviewer
” A young adult zombie tale that more mature adults will love as well. If you want a good clean tale, then this is the one for you. Plenty of perfectly paced writing that will grip you and keep you to the end.” -Confessions of a Reviewer.
“This was a really great zombie story. The characters were relatable and it had plenty of action to keep it riveting and suspenseful. I am really glad there is a second book so I can see where the storyline goes. If you like zombie stories, pick this one up and you’ll be hooked too.” -Amazon Reviewer
“This book was enjoyable. The world building was great and believable. The characters have the right amount of depth to make the reader feel a connection. There is an adequate number of characters. The premise was well done and the pacing was perfect. Superb book. I look forward to reading the next one.” -Allie Sumner
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series. Yes, there is zombies but the real drama is the fight for control over what was left after the zombies killed over 80% of humanity. The characters are easy to get to know and I was drawn to the lead female character as she grew throughout the novel and became a leader. Borrow it on KU or buy it today but read it!” -Linda C.
“I really believe that this story deserves five stars. I love The Walking Dead, so of course—I figured that I would like this book. This story portrays an accurate description of what I see in my mind if something like this were ever to happen. Not only a zombocalypse but any virus or disease of sorts that could decimate nearly an entire population. I truly sympathized with Krista and the things that she had to endure—mostly because she was alone. The originality and creativity is spectacular, the character development is superb. I am very impressed with this author’s writing style, quick pace and ability to hold me at the edge of my seat waiting to find out who will die and who will survive to see another day. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future, but would really love to read more about Krista’s continued journey with building the wall.” -Lauren Jones.
You can get your copy of Life After the Undead on Amazon for the lower price of $2.99
Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming–the home of 56 nationalities–it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.
You can learn more about Pembroke Sinclair by visiting her at:
December 9, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book release, book reviews, books, Christmas, Christmas shopping, feature, fiction, guest authors, horror novels, indie, indie author, life, novel, Pembroke Sinclair, promote, Reviews, terror, The Walking Dead, thriller, TWD, undead, young adult, zombies | 2 Comments
Book Featurette: Roulette
A young man pushed to the edge. A barrel in his mouth–one last time to reflect on his life.
What reviewers are saying about Roulette:
“I initially gave this 4 stars, but the more I thought about it, I think this short vignette deserves a full 5 because this is one that really sticks with you. I can’t really talk much about the text without giving away the whole thing, but the protagonist/narrator starts off in a very dark place but experiences a sort of rebirth and redemption. I see that this is the author’s first publication, and he’s come out of the gate really strongly. I very much look forward to watching the author as he progresses. If this is any indication, he’s going to go far.” -Geordon Vantassle“Amazingly written!!! I was immediately hooked from the first to the last sentence! I can’t wait to see more from Kurt Thingvold!!!” -Amazon Reviewer.“The juxtaposition of one man’s heaven and hell, combined with the elegance and realism of the writing makes this a definite page turner!” -Amazon Reviewer.
“Dark and twisted, triumphant yet mournful. The author manages to capture an entire lifetime worth of haunted memories in just a few pages. This is a suspenseful short story that will have you rapidly turning from page to page.” -Light Seeker
You can get your copy of Roulette for less than a cup of coffee, $0.99 cents!
December 8, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book, book reviews, books, dark fiction, fiction, Guest author, haunted, haunted past, Horror, indie, indie author, indie horror, Kurt Thingvold, novel, novels, realism, Reviews, Roulette, short stories, Short Story, veteran, Veteran Writers | Leave a comment
Opus questions with Duncan P. Bradshaw
When horror author Latashia Figueroa asked me to write a guest post for her blog with my three favorite horror movies and why, it got the old noggin cooking. Guest posts are a great way to introduce other writers to more broad audience. And besides, guest posts are fun. If your lucky enough to have an awesome reader base, it gives your readers a chance to hear from someone new, or even someone they’ve read before and enjoy their work just as much as your own. If you remember my New Year’s post a few months back, one of the projects for early this year was a submission of a short story to be included in an anthology with several other talented writers called The Black Room Manuscripts. Proceeds for the collection are going to an animal/pet rescue center over in the Jolly UK. I couldn’t be more honored to help with something that will bring about something positive in this crazy world we live. And with that being said, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to contact several of those writers who are contributing to The Black Room Manuscripts and do a little guest blogging with them. Share the love, right? Except, I wanted to be a little more dubious with my colleagues. When it comes to writing, one rule stands above all others: you have to read. No, seriously. To showcase a range of talent, you have to be a proliferate reader. And when it comes to horror writers, we are often found to have a wide assortment of favorite books we keep on our shelves. So to keep things interesting and to be a bit villainess, 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 our first victim: Duncan P. Bradshaw!
Duncan P. Bradshaw:
The rather fabulous Mr Flowers asked me to send him a little post with my two favorite horror books. One is probably a little contentious, but hey, it’s my post, so slip into something comfy, put on some Jackie Wilson, kick off your shoes, and continue reading. Yes, using your eyes just like mama used to show you how.
My first choice is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Let’s get this clear right off the bat, this book hates you, it hates me, it even hates the nicest person in the entire world. Think of that person right now. Aw, the way they help people across the street, or replace the toilet roll when they use the last sheets, clean up their mess in the kitchen. Yep, American Psycho HATES them. Why? You’re not dressed in a sharp Armani suit, Bateman glares at you through his non-prescription glasses and can see that your business card is woefully inadequate, you’re so unimportant that he and his chums won’t even remember your name. It is one of the hardest books I’ve ever read, in that it is just so difficult to get into, the world seems closed to you, alien and bizarre. Through his eyes, you’re taken on a dizzying voyage through parties and work, I had to check the front cover sometimes as it said ‘Psycho’ on the front, but the first killing takes an age to arrive. There are entire chapters devoted to album reviews. And then, it starts, almost accidentally at first, no fanfare, no Machiavellian plan, BOOM, done. Then Patrick’s spiral of murder and debauchery starts, and it is becomes a blood soaked tornado. The door to this forbidden club is grudgingly opened, and you’re given admittance into this fractured unreal life, where things reside only in diseased minds. Reading it reminded me of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, in both the truly awful ways of killing people, but also the random-ness of it. Sometimes things just happen almost from nothing, and I for one found it extremely unsettling in places. The ending is one of those where people always ask the same question, “Do you think he actually did it?” Honestly? If you don’t mind the fact that you aren’t welcome at this party, but are willing to fight for your place in it, read it and see what you reckon. My second. Okay, brace yourself, it’s World War Z. WOAH, steady on, I know what you’re thinking, or shouting out loud, it’s not a horror book. Well, let me explain why I think it is, and then we can just agree to disagree.
Zombies are my bag, since an eight year old Duncan (that’s me) sat down and watched Dawn of the Dead, I was hooked. Vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein, meh, I care for them not one jot, but the undead? Well, I love them, for me it’s the fact that they are slow and stupid, hell-bent on one thing only, to eat you. One on one, you stand a chance, but en masse is where the true terror lies, and this is what WWZ encapsulates so very well. For one, I love the way that the interviews ARE the story, from the first case through to the clean-up, Max Brooks takes you through the entire near extinction event. Some stories paint a broad picture, like the televised battle at Yonkers, New York, which was staged to show the zombies being defeated, which only resulted in the army being routed. Others though are more personal homages, the Indian General who single-handedly holds off the undead in a mountain pass so people can escape, fully aware that the pass is wired and will be collapsed as soon as they are through. It just builds this wonderful book of very different people, in far flung parts of the world, and creates a fantastic narrative. It covers many areas most zombie fiction would never think to cover, like companies creating vaccines for the infection which don’t work, yet still profit from the situation. Lamented countries like South Africa devising the Redeker Plan, which, while brutal, is an effective way of dealing with the growing grey horde. Cuba becomes a post-WWZ super power, so much so, that it’s currency is the dominant economic force. Just so many brilliant stories, of survival, desperation and hope. It doesn’t shy away from the events, of people being caught up in the mayhem and being ripped apart, but WWZ creates such a wide tableau of events and characters, that it deserves to be read. If you like zombies, you’d have read this already, and Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide. Even if the undead are not your thing, I would strongly suggest you read this, or listen to the audiobook, which is surprisingly good. Please though, do not, for one moment connect the Brad Pitt film to this book, they are completely separate. One is a work of art, the other is the latest in a line of modern zombie films which lack everything which made zombies scare the eight year old me.
I want to thank Duncan for taking the time and giving us his two favorite books, as difficult as it probably was, learning what these new faces on the horrors scene enjoy reading is, if anything else ,fascinating. Duncan P. Bradshaw is a horror author. His debut book, Class Three, is available for both paperback and eBook on Amazon. You can also find Duncan meandering about on his blog.
February 23, 2015 | Categories: Book Review, Horror | Tags: book reviews, guest posts, Horror, indie author | Leave a comment
Greetings fellow fans of macabre!!! For a limited time, my debut novel, Reinheit, will be on sale this week. Originally priced $2.99 is now only $0.99!!! Also, for new purchasers, this is an updated edition, including smoothed editing and some additions to the story. If you’ve already purchased a copy, no sweat. Amazon should be updating your copy soon. If not patient enough…well, you could delete your copy and purchase a new one, it is only $0.99!!!
Also, be sure to stop by Amazon and let others, including me, know what you thought of the story! Reviews are a very important part in the cycle of a books life.
January 10, 2015 | Categories: Horror, Local Happenings | Tags: Amazon, book promotion, Horror, indie author, Kindle | 2 Comments
Reinheit: A Horror Novel – New Promo Video
So, in full disclosure, I’m a novice to all this book promotional stuff, and I’m especially inexperienced with video productions. But, with Reinheit being my debut novel, I felt it deserved a 30 second promo ad, at the very least. Hopefully it doesn’t “feel” like an advertisement, but instead, a mystery you would like to solve. Or a horror you want to explore. If you could, please watch this 30 sec clip and either comment here @ MachineMean or leave a comment on the YouTube video comments section. I want to give a special shout out to Nicholas Conley, author of “The Cage Legacy,” for offering his awesome perspective and review of the book. You can check out Nicholas’ blog for updates on his upcoming novel here.
Thomas S Flowers
December 4, 2014 | Categories: Book Review, Horror | Tags: book promo, debut novel, Horror, horror book, indie author, indie horror, Mystery, Reinheit, Reviews, video productions, writers, YouTube video | 3 Comments
An Insider’s Look at Reinheit
Good day my friends! With the holidays approaching, I’d thought it best to make good use of some of my free time and introduce a few tidbits regarding the recent release of my debut novel, Reinheit. If you haven’t read yet (somewhat presumptuous that you will eventually be a reader, or at least I hope), no worries. There will be no major spoilers found here. My aim is to give a little insight behind the curtain on some of the subject matter discussed throughout the book. And perhaps some insight into what inspired me to write the macabre story in the first place. Reinheit was released back in early October and I’ve hinted on some of the story via “sneak peeks,” however, I have yet to actually discuss the book from an author’s perspective. So, with great joy and anticipation, I give you an insider’s look at Reinheit. Enjoy!
As I said before, Reinheit was released back in early October. The length is roughly about 164 pages on the Kindle app and the genre is horror thriller. But this information you can find on Amazon. You’re here, I hope, for something deeper that isn’t included within the strict confines of a blurb. For starters, what does Reinheit even mean? Reinheit is the German word for purity or uncontaminated. If you have read the book, the choosing of the title may make more sense now; however, if you have not yet read Reinheit, allow me to explain. Purity and contamination are key themes throughout the entire book. From start to finish, those meanings play a role. I cannot go into too much detail, but allow me, if you will, to show you what I mean through some of the characters you’ll find within the pages.
Major Eric Schröder: As an Nazi SS officer, his character deals with purity in a very real and terrifying sense. His secret life also plays into notions of purity and contamination. He is a true believer in Hitler’s vision of the Third Reich, the Thousand Year Reich as some have called it. He believes almost without question, though at times he does doubt the methodology in victory. Schröder is in command of one of the Einsatzgruppen units. These units are real and a tragic part of history. Made up of everyday men, regular blue collar folks, these units followed behind the regular German army into the eastern front and “liquidated” entire Jewish ghettos. The Einsatzgruppen were the solution before Concentration Camps turned into killing camps, before the gas chambers. In writing the story, I needed and wanted to use Schröder’s character to give a foundation of sorts for the theme purity. To show how notions of pure society can lead to terrible things. And while Schröder is a vile character for the horrifying things he does or orders others to do, he is, in his own way, a sympathetic character because of the secret life he is hiding, even from his own beloved SS. Or I should say, a secret hidden especially from the SS.
Frank Moss: a really, really, really loathed Frank’s character. I had to tap into some really dark places and imagine some really horrible things. Frank, much like Schröder, has a “different” look on life. He’s a traditionalist in the worst kind of way. An abuser and gets off on the suffering of others, especially his wife, Rebecca. When writing, originally, Rebecca was going to be the mechanism with the armchair, the carrying on, of sorts, of historic sin. However, when Frank’s character began to develop more fully, it became apparent that he would be the ideal host for the armchair to latch on to. Rebecca was simple the obstacle, in a way, that came between Frank’s later mission and those he aimed to hurt. The only sympathy for Frank, that I found, was his family history. His father was a drunk and a fiend. The idea of Frank becoming just as his father was, is a common motif and a tragic reality. I’m talking statics, of course. Not ever abused becomes the abuser. Frank and Schröder are both linked together in the story as antagonists.
Weber’s Auction House: okay. The idea that places and things can absorb the essence of those it interacts kinda terrifies me. I mean, what If someone really vile cherished a particular piece of furniture? Or what about a building surrounded by tragedy? What would happen to those places and things if that were true? That the corruption and tragedy lived on in these things? The armchair itself was born from this notion, as you see from the very get go in the book, Schröder owned the armchair that eventually comes under the possession of Frank Moss. Weber’s auction house became the go between with the past and the present. As it seems, the armchair was drawn to particular places equally as scarred as itself. The chapter dealing with Weber’s auction house was my favorite. I love the idea of historic echos, how strong emotions like tragedy can ripple through time and shape a place. The idea that I played with was what happens to our past civilizations? Are they really gone? Buried beneath us? Or does something, an essence you might say, live on?
Braun: Despite his past, I really enjoyed writing Braun’s character. He is the main human connection between the past and the present. He was part of the Einsatzgruppen unit under the command of Major Schröder, and carried out many damnable actions. And, in a way, he really never learned from his own mistakes. He is the very definition of a conflicted character trope. And a very tragic one, at that. His character is linked with Rebecca Moss, but represents how protagonists are not always heroes and they do not always succeed. Despite his failings, I believe his was a brave character, if not perhaps a little mad!
Clyde: You will not see Clyde much in the story. He is a very minor character, among many. However, he does represent an important aspect of the theme, purity and contamination. His character also represents the idea of the sins of the father kind of motif. Different from Frank’s abusive father, Clyde’s dad was an intentional abuser, though not with fists, but with words and the things he shared with his son. Clyde also became a catalyst for the end…on that, I cannot reveal too much. Clyde was also a fun character to write. A real creep and simpleton. But dark and dangerous all the same.
Why did I write Reinheit? And what is my style of horror?
Well…to answer this let me ask you what you think/feel when you hear the word NAZI. What comes to mind? Typically, when one thinks of the word Holocaust and the word Nazis, we think “blood thirsty Jew hating maniacs,” right? Well…as it actually turns out, the Einsatzgruppen, and all Nazis for that matter (or most, I should say) were just regular folk, ordinary men and women who believed in their particular cause, as murderous and heinous as it was. There are many scholars and historians and psychologists that argue for the precise causality for such brutal actions as seen during this time period; however, how can there be only one cause? I think Hannah Arendt said it best, that “the sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” In the end, perhaps maybe it all boils down to our culture and how we see the world, which is a precarious conversation in and of itself. It is my opinion that when we distrust our systems, we distrust ourselves. When we see other people as them and not us, we separate everyone and everything into boarders. We no longer see people as just that, people. The Einsatzgruppen has taught us a lesson that came at a terrible price, yet the world ultimately continues to function all the same. We still think in terms of us and them. Or as one of my history professors once put it, “We think in terms of othering.” Or as John Carpenter, a true legend of terrifying horror, once said, “The camp fire story is an easier one to sale. The enemy is out there, not us, in the woods, away from the fire. The other story is harder to tell. Where we say we have met the enemy, the enemy is us, we are the enemy.” Though, as hard as it may be, I honestly, unequivocally, believe that horror is one of the best mediums in which to have these kinds of discussions. I write horror because I love the genre and because it is the most honest expression of social commentary — period.
My style in horror I’d say is realism, because “storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” I love monster stories, but the best monster stories deal with the banality of it. The real horror is that we all in some capacity are capable of committing horrible acts, either it be cutting someone off on the highway or cutting someone off with a chain saw. Evil is something banal that lives within each and every one of us. The difference being how we react to said evil. Do we control ourselves or do we allow the beast to roam free?
Well, I believe I’ve made this post about long enough, wouldn’t you say! I hope you enjoyed this little insider’s look. Reinheit is available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. I’d love to gain you as a reader. If you have already read, please stop by Amazon and leave a comment. All writers thrive on feedback, but it is especially important for indie writers such as myself. Feedback is how we gauge if what we write reaches its mark. If there are things we should improve upon or things we need to keep doing. And, honestly, it is always nice to hear someone enjoyed the tale. This is something all storytellers cherish.
Thomas S Flowers
November 21, 2014 | Categories: Book Review, Horror | Tags: fiction, horror book, indie author, indie horror, Insider's look, Reinheit, Reviews, writing | Leave a comment
The Lonely Struggle of Indie Authors
Good day my blogger friends! If you guessed by the title, I’d like to share a few thoughts regarding Indie Authorship. As I, myself, am one, perhaps I can add to the discussion my own perspective and the things I’ve learned thus far and finally how I’ve learned to cope with the sad reality that is indie authorship. If you’re worried this post is going to be a downer, don’t. Its not. Though, I will be absolutely frank and honest. And sometimes honesty is not all rainbows and teddy bear picnics. No, the reality of indie authorship is hard, but likewise, it is not entirely bleak, nor is it entirely hopeless. As the title suggests, the road of indie authorship is indeed often lonely and it is most certainly a struggle. But sometimes, often really, the best things are those that are hard fought. So sit back and take note. If you’re old to the game, you may nod your head. If you’re new, be patient. That is all I ask.
From pen to paper to MS Word to Amazon Kindle:
The very first book I ever published on Amazon Kindle, I eventually had to go back and utterly remove from the site. Why? Because it was so God awful I did not want future publications to be tainted by its impurity. This action is both a blessing and a curse for indie authors. We can always go back and “fix” the blemishes. In fact, its often encouraged. And while its a blessing to be able to do this, it also highlights one of the first hard realities for indie authors: editing. We’re not signed with some fancy publisher that will “take care” of our unsightly editing mistakes. Its all on us. And from personal experience, no matter how often you read and double read and triple read, you will not catch every mistake. Hell, even editors with decades of experience will not catch every mistake. The problem with indie authors is that we get so excited about getting our work out there for someone to read, anyone really, we forgo one of the most important aspects of publishing. You’ve heard it more than you’d probably care to, but I’ll say it again. Editing is critical. While its true you will not catch everything, still, you do not want to use that as an excuse for ignoring the most important step in publishing your work. That first chapter, first paragraph, first sentence, first word, MUST BE PERFECT. Consider the first page or paragraph your hand shake to the reader. “Hi, my name such and such, and this is my story.” The hand shake must be firm. In control. And confident. You don’t want to shake a potential sale with sweaty clumsy hands, do you? And while this is important for all authors, its more important, I think, for indie authors. Why? Have you ever noticed that little tab beside the picture of a book on amazon? The tab says, “Look inside.” This is how future readers of your book will get a “sneak peek.” What will they find? Chances are, if they find a bunch of misspelled words, broken sentences, grammar mistakes, and just plain old sloppy writing, they will close the window and move on. you’ve missed a potential sale.
What’s the solution? Slow down. As hard as that sounds, because, trust me I know, its true. We get super excited about finally being done with the book we want to toss it out there. As much as we loved writing the book, it was taxing all the same. But, because we are indie authors, writing the book is only part of the job. We’re also editors, marketers, publishers, bloggers, etc etc. So, slow down. Take your time editing. Consider editing the work of a sculptor. The unedited book is our unshaped clay. Editing cuts and pastes and shapes the overall story. Editing, as hard as it may be, is the most important part in publishing and writing. It is also the most frustrating. Because, as I’ve stated before, you will not catch every mistake. And when you see it, when your story is already published, you’ll want to rip your hair out! Some indie authors end up paying folks to edit their work. If you’ve got money to burn, by all means. Just be careful with who you pick. And remember, when it comes to pricing, typically you get what you pay for. If you have trusted friends who can help you out, that would be the best option to go with. No only do you get “advanced readers” that way, but they can show you were things/words/structure did not work as you may have intended.
From author to publisher to promoter:
Okay. The next thing I’d like to mention has to do with formatting. I’m not going to tell you how, whatever platform you are publishing on will give you sources that will show you how. I just want to make sure you read it! Read what the sources say. I publish on Kindle. Super easy nowadays. Read the notes. Read the sources. Take note. If your editing mistakes did not turn off a potential reader/sale, your formatting issues most certainly will. So again, read what your platform has to say. Its there to help you. Read it.
Okay, moving on. So now you’re published! Awesome!! You made it, right? Excuse me…I wasn’t laughing at you, but with you. No. I’m sorry to say, you have not “made it.” Now comes the most frustrating, most infuriating part of indie authorship: bringing in potential buyers and making sales. Someone tweeted out recently a 140 character lament regarding this same issue that I so happen to respond to because I completely agreed with what they had to say. The tweet had to do with making steady or constant sales of books. Apparently, this particular indie author was not making many sales. And I totally understand their frustration. We’re writers, not promoters!!! Alas. You need to learn. And the best way to learn is to see what other people are doing.
First off: get on twitter. In my personal opinion, when it comes to social media for writers, you need to get on Twitter. Build a following. Follow and follow back. It’ll take time, but eventually you’ll build a descent size group of folks that’ll see whatever you post and re-tweet your stuff on their feed. Now, you do not need a unfathomable number of followers in order to get your promotions seen. But what you will need is to learn the hash-tag language. Hash tags are annoying and yet interesting at the same time. The feed on twitters runs so fast, if you only post regular promotions without the use of hash tags, chances are, no one will see it. Hash tags are annoying because its hard to tell which one works best. Hash tags evolve. You’ll need to pay attention to trends and what other folks are using. Consider hash tags a type of search engine. An example would be the hash tag #horror. If you type #horror in a search box you’ll see a horror feed with other folks posting #horror. If someone is looking for horror, chances are they’ll use #horror to find whatever it is their looking for. It could be your book.
Search goggle or Bing or whatever search engine works for you. There’s all kinds of information on promoting your work. Personally, I like to create creative flyers and post them on twitter. Anything that will grab a prospective readers attention. Book cover art and quick read blurbs. Be creative with your book blurbs. Be creative with your book posts. Please, do not just post: “Buy my book. Its really good.” You’d be surprised how many people actually post something similar. Give a little taste of the mood or theme or characters in your book. give a 50-100 character blurb. Its seems daunting, but it works. And again, use proper hash tags with these posts. Basically, in the space of a single moment, you’re making a pitch, telling the reader why they should read your book. Not just because YOU think its good. Inspire the reader, draw them in.
And lastly: find someone to review your work. Especially on Amazon, you need review. The number of reviews is still up for debate, but lets say somewhere in the ball park of 3-10 reviews is decently healthily. Potential readers will not sift through 100 reviews. Just like when I’m looking for a new book to buy, I’ll read maybe a few positives and most certainly one or two negative reviews. The point being, you do not need a million reviews on one book, but you do need at least a few. Even if your blurb catches someones eye, without a review to confirm, chances are your potential buyer will skip on to the next one. And yes. There will always be another book for them to buy.
From promoter to paying it forward:
In the end, after all the hard work and time you’ve dumped into getting “your name” out there, you still will struggle. Recently, I’ve come to the understanding that I cannot force people to buy my book. Nor should I. Its not the point of writing. The point in writing fiction is to tell a good story and by doing so, promoting the genre in which you work. Period. I write horror, occult, supernatural stuff, so naturally my ultimate goal should be promoting the genre in which I write. The best most karma induced way in promoting our genres is by promoting other indie writers who work in those particular fields. Follow fellow writers on Twitter. Promote their work from time to time. Use commonsense. Be ethical. I don’t want to slap you with the Ten Commandants or anything, but don’t brag, don’t boost about helping someone, just do it. Be honest and keep the other writer in mind. Trust me. Karma will come back. Some of the best most helpful and promoting tweets or emails that has ever happened for me has come from fellow writers. This what I call: Paying it Forward. Simple, right? Pay it forward. Find someone to promote. Keep to indie writers. The big guys can take care of themselves. They have big name publishing houses to get their name out there. Indie authors only have each other. Remember that.
Remember that after all the hard work and time consuming promotions and editing, that in the end, its all about the craft. It always comes back to the writing. Telling the tale, so to speak. At rock bottom, the best quality for indie authors is humility. We know were no one; we’re telling a story.
Well. I think i’ve made this post long enough to have put you asleep. If you have any questions or comments about your own journey as an Indie Author, please share.
November 17, 2014 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: amazon kindle, American Horror Story, blogging, Horror, indie author, publishing, Reviews, self publishing, thoughts, writing | 1 Comment