horror books

New Project

Hey, how’s it going? I hope everyone is doing well.

As the title of this post suggests, I wanted to let you know I’ve started work on a new book. Fans of my short story, COVERT GENESIS (which appears in SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror), will be pleased to know the new book takes place in the same world. I’ve talked about wanting to take that short story and make a book out of it. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

My previous literary agent suggested I finish a different book because it was more lucrative. I’m not writing this new book because I think it’ll be lucrative (even though I believe it will be anyway). I’m writing this one because I love the story, and world of Covert Genesis. This is a labor of love for me and I believe that love will find its way to the page. I have a loose outline and the first chapter is going well. My goal is to have the first draft done before the new year.

What can readers expect from the new book?

While I don’t have a title for the new book yet, it will explain where the parasites come from. It’ll be a mash-up of horror, sci-fi, and military action. You’ll find familiar characters as well as new ones. The goal is to set the parasite menace free and see how humanity stands up to it.

I’ll be sure to share more details as the project nears completion. Stay tuned. It’s going to be one hell of a ride!

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Enter To Win Paying The Ferryman Anthology

Hey, everybody! How are we all doing today? If anyone is interested, you can head on over to Goodreads and enter to win one of three paperback copies of Paying the Ferryman anthology, published by Charon Coin Press. The giveaway runs from today through the end of May. Winners will be chosen at random and receive their books shortly after the giveaway ends. I also want to mention that the giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. I may do a second giveaway for my European friends after this one is over. It all depends on how well this one works out.

Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/182184-paying-the-ferryman

So, what is Paying the Ferryman?

CHARON_FERRYMAN_fulldesign

From the publisher: Death. Just the word can trigger gut-wrenching fear. The kind of fear causing the heart to pound, cold sweat to run down and burn the eyes, and fingers to tremble with a loss of strength. Is our fear the realization that from the moment of conception, the clock starts counting down until we come face to face with death? More likely, it is the fear of what comes after the moment our last breath escapes. The exploration of this fear is contained within these pages. Join us as we follow a serial killer who tries to outrun the minions from Hell. Meet a man forced to relive his past hoping for redemption. What if your destiny begins after your death? Death is truly just the beginning. After death has occurred, what could be worse? Paying the Ferryman answers the question of what comes next in twenty imaginative tales. Foreward by Bram Stoker Award nominated author, Hal Bodner.

Good luck to all who enter! If you don’t win but would still like to read the anthology, the Kindle edition is only $2.99. The paperback is $13.99. You can grab either here: Paying the Ferryman on Amazon.

Paying the Ferryman Releases Today

Paying the Ferryman releases today! Readers can get it from Amazon / Kobo / Barnes & Noble. Reviews would be greatly appreciated at this early stage. I’d like to personally thank every reader who purchases and leaves a review for this anthology. It means a lot to an up-and-coming author like me. Hope you like it!

Just a reminder that you can join Charon Coin in celebrating the release of Paying the Ferryman by attending their Facebook party, tonight. There will be prizes! Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/509816859176321/

Add Paying the Ferryman on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27240094-paying-the-ferryman

For all the latest news and updates about Paying the Ferryman, follow Charon Coin Press on Twitter.

CHARON_FERRYMAN_fulldesignFrom the publisher: Death is just the beginning…

Death. Just the word can trigger gut-wrenching fear. The kind of fear causing the heart to pound, cold sweat to run down and burn the eyes, and fingers to tremble with a loss of strength. Is our fear the realization that from the moment of conception, the clock starts counting down until we come face to face with death? More likely, it is the fear of what comes after the moment our last breath escapes. The exploration of this fear is contained within these pages.Join us as we follow a serial killer who tries to outrun the minions from Hell. Meet a man forced to relive his past hoping for redemption. What if your destiny begins after your death? Death is truly just the beginning.

After death has occurred, what could be worse? Paying the Ferryman answers the question of what comes next in twenty imaginative tales.

Paying the Ferryman Has a Release Date

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen this information. If not, why aren’t you following me on Twitter?

CHARON_FERRYMAN_fulldesign

Charon Coin Press are gearing up for the October 20 release date of their forthcoming anthology, PAYING THE FERRYMAN. What’s this PAYING THE FERRYMAN ANTHOLOGY, you ask? In each of the stories in this anthology, the main character dies and passes through to the other side. Each author brings a different perspective, and definition, to their other side. Sounds pretty cool, right? I thought so too and was so inspired by the concept that I penned a short story called Death Blossoms.

When I sat down to write Death Blossoms, I knew I wanted a main character of color. They had to be someone from the street. A hustler of some sort. Someone who did what they thought they had to in order to survive. I drew on my earlier years for this character–one of my good friends from high school in particular. I’m no hustler, but I’ve been around them enough to know how some of them think. Despite what some of us may think, not all hustlers are bad people. Desperation and fear can drive even good people to do bad things. My father started out robbing the offering plate from his local church so he could feed his brothers and sisters. All of those things went into Armando Castillo, a young car thief who only wants to get his mamma out of the projects and into a better life. He’s someone, I believe, we all can relate to.

Without giving too much away, the heart of my story is about overcoming our darkest fears (whatever they may be). And, if you’ve read any of my other work, you know I’m big on redemption. Did I mention killer bacon? Don’t adjust your eyes. Yes, I said killer bacon. Bacon…that kills!

Death Blossoms was a lot of fun to write. Turns out it was easy for me too. I can’t wait to see how readers react in a few weeks. Expect more promotion leading up to PAYING THE FERRYMAN’S release.

Mark your calendars. Have your payment ready. The Ferryman is waiting.

The official press release can be found on Charon Coin’s website. Follow this link.

You can find Charon Coin Press on Twitter / Facebook / Official Website

Book Review: Bait, by J. Kent Messum

Imagine a reality show where drug addicts had to hop from island to island trying to be the first to a box of drugs to quell the ache of addiction shuddering through their bodies. It would be like The Amazing Drug Race, except sharks are patrolling the waters around the islands waiting for the splish-splash of water. You get the picture. If you can imagine that scenario, then you’ve just discovered J. Kent Messum’s frantic tale of addiction, sharks, and maybe even some redemption that is Bait. Oh, and by the way, nobody will care if you’re missing because you’re a low life addict who has burned every bridge there is to burn. The only way out, possibly, is to play the game.

BaitFrom the publisher: No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.

Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves. So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible—swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights—and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.

Wiggle little worm, wiggle…

Mr. Messum’s prose is lean and mean. His sentences and paragraphs seem to be carefully crafted to keep the action train chugging along. It makes for a quick read.

The characters in Bait were believable as not only addicts, but down on their luck street urchins too. They’re street smart and know every trick in the book when it comes to scoring their next hit. I really liked the “hood mentality” Mr. Messum displayed. It made his characters that much more believable. You don’t find that so much in today’s books.

This book is exactly as advertised. If you’re looking for an entertaining read that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering which character will be picked off next, then you’ve come to the right place. A lot of what makes Bait work is the author’s simple, yet well thought out approach. Could this happen? Sure it could. Would anyone notice if addicts suddenly started vanishing off the streets? Maybe. And then readers start putting themselves into the character’s shoes. What if it wasn’t drugs waiting on the next island, but a loved one? How far would we go? That’s the brilliance of Bait.

The first half of the book alternates between present day and a few days ago. I would have preferred more of a chronological timeline. After the events of the prologue, readers get the gist of the game. I think the book would have worked better if Mr. Messum would have kept things in real time. We’d even get a better sense of the bad guys too.

Speaking of the bad guys, I would have liked a little more from them. They go through an awful lot to set these little games up and then sit around waiting for something to happen. I found them to be an interesting bunch and would have liked more time with them. Why would these former soldiers follow Greer so faithfully, knowing what they were doing? I understand their loyalty, but I believe someone would have had some kind of objection. A bigger picture would have helped.

I like the sense of isolation Mr. Messum creates. Taking place on a cluster of small islands, it’s easy to believe these characters have nowhere to go and have no choice but to play along.

Bait is simply a well thought, face paced read. It’s raw and holds nothing back. Mr. Messum shows readers humanity at its worst, but also reminds us that even the worst of us still have something good inside. We’re all redeemable.

J. Kent Messum is officially on my radar. I can’t wait to see what he cooks up next. If it’s half as good as Bait, it’ll be worth the wait. Consider me hooked. 😉

What I liked:

  • The pace. Bait is a quick read. It’s so interesting that you could devour it in one sitting if you so choose.
  • The isolation. Waking up on a small island with nothing but the clothes on your back would be a nightmare for anyone. Add to that the need to satisfy a craving for drugs and it’s easy to understand why these characters have no choice but to play this twisted game. There really is no escape.
  • The street vibe. Each character is a rock bottom addict. They’ve been hustling for their next score for some time now and Mr. Messum does a good job incorporating that hood mentality, or street vibe. Even though these characters would like it if everyone lived, ultimately they’re looking for their next hit.
  • The constant threat. Keeping a yacht full of soldiers and God knows what lurking beneath the blue waves, Mr. Messum successfully creates a constant source of tension. Will the soldiers move against our contestants, or will the local wildlife strike first? You’ll have to read.
  • The characters. Even though most of the contestants are addicts with little to live for, I found myself rooting for them. I wanted them to make it and cringed every time something happened.
  • Mr. Messum’s style. The prose is lean and mean. Mr. Messum writes like he’s spent some time on the streets, and his style will appeal to every kind of reader.

What I didn’t like:

  • The broken timeline. I think this story would have worked better chronologically, instead of alternating between current events and a few days ago. Learning about the characters was just as interesting as the action, in my opinion. Alternating felt a bit tedious after a while.
  • Not enough time with the bad guys. The former soldiers do a lot to set up these little games. I would have like to know more about each soldier, maybe even have them participate more.

Overall: I’m giving J. Kent Messum’s Bait, four out of five stars. Bait is as quick as a Tiger shark and as visceral as one too. I could easily see this on the big screen and would be one of the first in line for a ticket. Mr. Messum does an outstanding job creating a sense of dread while moving the story along at break neck speed. Bait, quite simply, is an entertaining and fun read. Do yourself a favor and get a copy.

You can find out more about J. Kent Messum by visiting his official website here: http://jkentmessum.com/

You can follow J. Kent Messum on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/_JamieK_

Horror Means…Stephen King?

Horror, to me, means many different things. There’s monsters–vampires, werewolves, witches, demons, the blob, etc. Slashers like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Norman Bates, and Freddy Krueger. Books like Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY, Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND, and Dean Koontz’s MIDNIGHT. From movies to comics to books, there’s plenty to love about horror as a genre.

The Shining

Then why do so many people immediately bring Stephen King into the mix, like he’s the be-all end-all when it comes to horror in literature?

I want to be clear about something. I have no animosity for Mr. King or his work. I own, and have enjoyed, a handful of his books (specifically THE STAND and SALEM’S LOT). He’s a passionate storyteller with a love for the creepy. He’s a man after my own heart who I admire and respect.

I don’t know what it is. I’ve been seeing it all over social media as people–authors and fans–give a nod to Mr. King because Halloween is coming. “Want to read something scary?” they say. “Read Stephen King.”

I can’t help but wonder why?

Is it because Mr. King’s name is easily recognizable to even casual readers? Perhaps Mr. King is the only name they know in horror literature because they aren’t well read in the genre? I don’t really have an answer. I also understand that some people genuinely enjoy Mr. King’s work and love talking up their favorite author, as is their right. I’m all for anything that shines a light on horror, especially in literature.

I can’t think of a better way to show your love for your favorite author than by investigating authors who they love. I would hope the people who love Mr. King’s work have looked into authors like Richard Matheson who heavily influenced SK. I’d recommend I AM LEGEND and HELL HOUSE (been a while since I’ve read this one).

DarkfallMy first reaction to hearing Stephen King’s name is always what about Dean Koontz? Mr. Koontz is a legend in the horror genre. His earlier books–DARKFALL, PHANTOMS, MIDNIGHT, STRANGERS, TWILIGHT EYES, WATCHERS, and LIGHTNING (just to name a few)–are hardly ignorable. Dean has spent a lifetime walking the line between literary and mainstream horror. He writes with an eloquence few others can match, except, of course, Stephen King. In my mind you can’t mention one without the other. For years these two writers dominated horror in literature.

I’m sure we could make a case for a few other authors too. We could make an argument for someone like Anne Rice, Clive Barker, or John Saul just to name a few. The point is there are plenty of other authors out there with a career’s worth of novels worthy of mentioning in this conversation.

I guess I fear readers are limiting themselves to only Stephen King. If you’re a fan of horror in literature I recommend exploring the genre to discover other authors, and books, you may like. Ask authors, book bloggers, publishers, or anyone else you can think of for recommendations. Try asking for multiple recommendations at once. You may just find you’ve been missing out on the greatest talents you’ve never heard of.

What horror books would I recommend? Keep in mind these are in no particular order. You can’t wrong with any of these.

  1. AFRAID, by Jack Kilborn
  2. THE STRAIN, by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
  3. I AM LEGEND, by Richard Matheson
  4. GHOST ROAD BLUES, by Jonathan Maberry
  5. THE DESCENT, by Jeff Long
  6. HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL, by Malachi Martin (I can honestly say this is the only book I’ve ever been scared by…ever.)
  7. THE EDINBURGH DEAD, by Brian Ruckley
  8. NECROSCOPE, by Brian Lumley
  9. THE STAND, by Stephen King
  10. DARKFALL, by Dean Koontz

Check out Flavorwire’s Top 50 Scariest Books of All time here: http://flavorwire.com/419194/the-50-scariest-books-of-all-time/

If you’re anything like me, then you get excited around this time of year. October tends to be the month a spotlight shines on horror as a genre. While it may have much to do with Halloween, true horror fans keep that light shining all year round. This is our passion. We love, and welcome, everyone to the table no matter who you are or what level of knowledge you may possess. Just make sure you check your seat before you sit. We’ve got some wonderfully twisted individuals who won’t pass up the chance to scare your pants off. 😉

Does horror mean Stephen King? Yes. But it also means so much more.

You can find out more about Stephen King here: http://www.stephenking.com/index.html

You can find out more about Dean Koontz here: http://www.deankoontz.com/

What horror books would you recommend? What’s your favorite Stephen King book? What’s your favorite Dean Koontz book?