Guest Post: Richard Schiver

Today on the blog, horror author Richard Schiver is guest posting. His latest release, All Roads Lead to Terror, tells a story where the horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Four boys taking their first hesitant steps into adulthood, will be tested at every step as they travel through a blasted land where the only hope is for a swift death followed by an endless sleep. Survival lay in the firepower they carried, coupled with their willingness to use it, and their ability to trust each other with their own lives.

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Creating the Cover by Richard Schiver

As an independent author with limited resources, what I’m able to save to put into my writing is used to have my work edited before it is released. As such I’m unable to afford the covers I would like to see on my work so for the past couple of years I’ve been designing my own, while teaching myself how to use Photoshop to create covers.

I’m pretty damned proud of what I came up with for All Roads Lead to Terror. I wanted to touch the potential reader on an emotional level while at the same time showing that the story within the covers was about leaving your childhood behind as one stepped into adulthood. Of course what better way of showing innocence lost than with an abandoned teddy bear. I tried several different routes, all with little success, until I staged the photo myself.

I picked up the stuffed bear from Goodwill for a couple of bucks. When I carried him out of the store he was in pretty good shape. Once I got him home it got a little interesting, even though I look like a grumpy old man, I can be rather emotional at times. I believe a writer has to be very much in touch with their emotions in order to properly convey the feelings of their characters on the page. It was this familiarity with my own emotions that stopped me at first from doing what I knew I had to do. It’s just a stuffed bear, I kept telling myself. That might have been but before he went to live at the Goodwill it was obvious a child had taken good care of him.

In the end I quickly removed his left leg and ear. A bit of black paint and some hard rubbing gave me the look I wanted for with his fur, a matted, unwashed appearance. Adding the sling was a final touch to show that though he had been abandoned at one time he’d been cherished by a child that shared its sorrow for a world turned upside down.

He has no name, yet. But his sacrifice has earned him a place of honor in my office, he sits on the top shelf of my bookcase, watching over my shoulder as I work, occasionally he will sit in my lap as I write, to help me connect with the emotions that I strive to bring to the page. He will also appear on every subsequent cover in the series.

He serves as a constant reminder of what I hope to achieve with The Dreadland Chronicles that will focus not on the brutality of the world in which they live, but the undying hope of the young as they struggle to rebuild a shattered world that has been left to them, and make a better place for those who will follow.

Buy Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Barnes & Noble 

Itunes  Kobo  Smashwords 

rschiverauthorphoto

Bio:

Richard was born in Frostburg, Maryland, in the winter of ’58’ and currently lives eight miles away. A five-year stint with the military allowed him to see what he wanted of the world. Married with four grown children and eight grandchildren, he and his wife provide a home to four pets that are spoiled beyond rotten.

In addition to writing daily he works a full time job in retail, and piddles around in his wood-shop making one mess after another when time permits. Richard can be found online at:

Facebook  Twitter  Written In Blood

He can also be contacted directly at rschiver@gmail.com and would be delighted to hear from you. Sign up to be notified of publishing updates and new releases as they become available. He promises to never share your contact info, nor will he swamp your inbox with unnecessary crap. He’ll also toss in a free copy of White Walker when you sign up.

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Guest Post: Crafting a Character

I am pleased to have Loren Rhoads as a guest poster on the blog today. Loren was kindly willing to share the origins of one of the characters from her new release, The Dangerous Type, part military sci-fi, part adventure space opera. Read on to see why Publishers Weekly mentioned its “well choreographed action.” 

Crafting a Character

by Loren Rhoads

A well-rounded character draws from many inspirations. Raena Zacari, the reformed Imperial assassin, in my new trilogy was born in ballet class.

I studied ballet as a child. I started the year I entered first grade – in a studio in the basement of the teacher’s house – and continued at a different studio until I went away to university at 19. One of the girls I danced with got accepted into the corps at Joffrey Ballet. Another became a ballet teacher at our studio. All of us in my class were serious about our lessons. We danced as many nights a week as we could afford.

Raena Zacari, main character of The Dangerous Type and its sequels, came directly out of those dance classes. Ballerinas are strong, fierce, and completely unafraid of pain. If something hurts, you suck it up: because if you can’t do the combination, someone else will take your part.

Cover of The Dangerous Type, Book One in the Wake of the Templars trilogy.
Cover of The Dangerous Type, Book One of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy.

I conceived of Raena years before River Tam combined dancing and killing in Firefly, long before I knew Natasha Romanoff had gone to ballet assassin school. Raena’s first appearance in print was in 1986 in a story called “Claustrophobia” in a zine called simply Anthology.

Misty Copeland’s Under Armor video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY0cdXr_1MA

I was never built like a dancer. Even in the earliest picture of me in costume, I’m thick in the thighs and it’s clear my hips are going to be wide. Still, I loved the narrow, androgynous bodies of my dancemates. Raena’s shape is a tribute to them.

Raena’s size – barely five feet tall in a galaxy of much bigger creatures – is a direct tribute to my vertically challenged female friends. At 5’4”, I’m average height for an American woman, but I still feel dwarfed by most men. My friends who stand under five feet make up the difference with heels or platform shoes, so Raena wears – and fetishizes – her high heels.

I wondered: what if high-heeled shoes didn’t mimic weapons, but actually were weapons? What if your heels were steel instead of chrome? What if they were sharpened? What if your kick had a dancer’s power behind it? What if you could put out an android’s eye with your heel?

And what if my character had spent the early years of her life dressing in black, because black doesn’t show the blood? After she came out of solitary confinement in the dark, what would she wear? As hard as it is for me to imagine personally, Raena is tired of black. She plays with wearing poisonously bright colors or a mirrored cat suit because she’s done creeping around in the darkness.

So that’s the genesis of Raena Zacari and her fashion choices. From the outside, she may seem to fall into the cliché of the tiny fierce warrior waif like Alice from Resident Evil or Buffy Summers, but she’s more directly inspired by Princess Leia, if the princess liked to kill people with her hands. Milla Jovovich actually stands 5’9”, while Carrie Fisher is only 5’1”. The amazing Misty Copeland is 5’2”, plus the height of her pointe shoes. She might be a little tall for Raena as I imagined her in the books, but I wouldn’t want to tell her she couldn’t play the part.

Photo of author Loren Rhoades taken by Ken Goudey.
Photo of Loren Rhoads taken by Ken Goudey.

Loren Rhoads is the author of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy, published by Night Shade Books. The Dangerous Type is out now, followed by Kill By Numbers on September 1 and the conclusion, No More Heroes, on November 3. She is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of As Above, So Below and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two.

Find out more about the trilogy on it’s home page: http://lorenrhoads.com/writing/the-dangerous-type/

Get your copy of The Dangerous Type below:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s Books

You can also find Loren around the web on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

The Things A Writer Can Learn In Six Months

I am pleased to have urban fantasy and horror author Amy Braun as a guest poster on the blog today. Amy was kind enough to share what she’s learned as a new author this year. Read on for some great info, even if you’ve been in the writing game for a while.

The Things a Writer Can Learn in Six Months  

by Amy Braun

When 2015 started, I decided to take the leap: I would publish a full length novel by myself. I was proud of my standalone novella, Needfire, which served as a way for me to test the waters of the independent world. But of course, the next step was harder.

I didn’t go to school for writing. I don’t have any mind of independent business. Marketing and press boggle my mind. I thought I was going to gain readers and a following by continuing my method of trying my hand at short story submissions. I’ve had some great successes that way– my stories being favored by readers and even winning an Editors award for my macabre short story “Dark Intentions And Blood” in the AMOK! Anthology– but it wasn’t enough. My muse got a little greedy, and I wanted more.

Path of the Horseman became more than a standalone novel to me when I wrote it in 2014’s NaNoWriMo. I knew the moment I finished it that I wanted to share it with as many readers as I could. I took a risk with an emerging cover artist, worked with an editor I trusted, and chose to release it with a major distribution/publishing company that has helped thousands of independent authors get their work out to the world.

Cover for Braun's novel Path of the Horseman
Cover for Braun’s novel Path of the Horseman

Needless, to say, when the release date came, I was both excited and nervous as Hell. I was given a guide about how to go about promoting my book. I learned that nothing was free, patience is an agonizing virtue, and you still have to hunt for acknowledgement.

Despite all that, I gained more positive feedback than I could have imagined, and not just from my family. People I’ll probably never meet praised my book and left reviews that humbled and honored me. I know that you can’t please everyone, and sooner or later I’ll get a negative review that will leave me doubting, but to know the risk would be rewarded brought me a joy that’s hard to describe.

So I took another risk, and released a novel that’s beyond precious to me. Demon’s Daughter, the first in my Cursed series, has been with me for years. Like Path of the Horseman, I know I’ve done something special with it and have received great feedback on it. But this series is my proverbial baby. I’m watching two of my most beloved characters– Constance and Dro– take their first steps into the literary world. I don’t know how they’ll do, and it’s a little worrying to hear what readers will think about a story I’ve poured my soul into.

That being said, I wanted to give Demon’s Daughter the release it deserved. That meant paying extra to work with a fabulous cover design company and go through the trials of printing and proofing physical copies, and learning the joys of proper book formatting. Oh, did I say joys? I meant agonies. I’m not kidding when I say the hardest part of printing paper books for me was getting the damn formatting to line up. I ordered at least two copies of each book, none of which were free. And don’t even get me started on headers and footers. So I learned the hard way to look at each book with excruciating detail before approving said proof. And if you’re going to print with Createspace, have a CMYK version of your cover available so your book cover isn’t filled with sharp, angry colors fighting to share space on the paper.

Demon's Daughter cover Ooooh...ahhhh...
Demon’s Daughter cover
Ooooh…ahhhh…

Most recently, I learned the value of media kits and submitting queries for reviews. I’m still waiting on some of them, but looking back I should have sent out requests for reviews before I started publishing. That being said, I have a couple reviewers lined up who are generally excited about reading my work and have a significant following that will hopefully trickle over to me. I didn’t choose this career for the money, but it’s not easy working for free.

These are lessons I wish I had known earlier, but I’m new to the writing world. I’m learning from my mistakes, and I know I will be better for it when my next release– the sequel to Demon’s Daughter– comes out in December. Like I said, I don’t do this for the money. While my dream is to walk into my favorite bookstore and see my book on the shelves (or even better, see someone reading that book and surprising the hell out of them by explaining that I wrote it), I would be perfectly happy writing independently for the rest of my life.

The year is barely half over, and I know more lessons, good and bad, are on the way. But the most important thing I’ve learned so far is to keep going. I’ve had days where I’ve been frustrated, days where I’ve been lazy, and days where I couldn’t find motivation to write at all (AKA the worst days ever). But when I have those days, I look up at my desk and see the two printed books resting against the wall. I think about the entire process it took to create them, and how endlessly satisfying it is to see them there, knowing I can do it again. Writing a book is a long, sometimes torturous process. But the end result, no matter how you look at it?

Perfect.

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Amy Braun is the author of the urban fantasy novels, Path of the Horseman and Demon’s Daughter. She’s been published in anthologies by publishers such as April Moon Books, Ragnarok Publishing, Mocha Memoirs Press, and Breaking Fate Publishing. To find out more about Amy, go to her blog literarybraun. Or you can find her elsewhere online at:

So You Think You Know Horror?

I am lucky to have the multi-talented horror queen Emerian Rich as a guest poster on the blog today.  Emerian is an author, editor, artist, and vocal talent who I’m pleased to have worked with on the new release The Horror Addicts Guide to Life. Without further ado, heeeerrre’s Emerian!

So You Think You Know Horror?   Night's Knight cover
by Emerian Rich

As a horror writer and hostess, I pride myself on seeing the world through zombie-colored glasses. I figure, I can riff on anything horror related and have a better-than-average grasp of horror topics. So, when I first contemplated creating a horror almanac to be included in our Horror Addicts Guide to Life publication, I thought…no sweat, right?

Wrong. The thing us horror addicts forget is that for most of the year we are pretty useless to the general public. Sure, we are cool to invite if you want a spooky campfire story and always called upon for costume advice, but when Thanksgiving rolls around, we’re utterly forgotten.

My task was to find something to say about every month. Tasks to do, events to attend, people to celebrate. 365 days becomes a daunting task when you have to fill every single day with horror content. Holidays can be punked, horror birthdays can be found, but what do you do on a month like August when there is absolute nothing going on?

In the beginning, it was fun. I started with October because that is the beginning (and end) of a true horror addicts calendar. I got six months filled without hardly a backwards glance, but then, the dreaded blank page stared back at me, mocking my ignorance for the task and my cocky belief that I could tackle every day of the year horror-style.

My first solution was to ask my horror friends and staff. When that turned dry, I asked non-horror people, then I scoured the internet for fun horror facts. But still, all of this left gaping holes in a calendar that I live every year and should have been a piece of Devil’s food cake. Having exhausted all my sources, I took a deep breath and had a talk with myself.

Cover of The Horror Addicts Guide to Life.  Because who doesn't need a little help with the horror?
Cover of The Horror Addicts Guide to Life.

“Listen, Emz, this shouldn’t be so hard. You live the horror lifestyle. Calm down and think about what you do each month, each day, that makes your life happily horrific.”

And that’s when the blood started flowing. The almanac was done in no time at all once I tapped my inner horror addict, the silly, zany, spooky gal inside that likes to tell ghost stories and play corny zombie board games.

Inside the Horror Addicts Guide to Life, you will find twelve months of awesome horror addict-ness. What do to, what to wear, what to celebrate, as only a true horror enthusiast would. For just a little taste, I’ll share April’s to do list with you:

  1. Plan your epitaph.
  2. Appreciate your bat.
  3. Stock up on garlic (except for vampires).
  4. Stock your laboratory for World Lab Day (23rd).
  5. Tell a spooky story.
  6. Recycle, the spooky way, for Earth Day (22nd).

Don’t forget, April is contains a lot of spooky holidays such as Be Kind to Spiders week, the 1819 publication of the first vampire story, The Vampyre by John Polidori. It’s also home to Walpurgisnaught, the holiday quoted in Dracula, 1931 as the night of evil.

For more fun facts and horror-ific things to do year-round, check out the Horror Addicts Guide to Life.

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Horror hostess Emerian Rich.
Horror hostess Emerian Rich.

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. Emerian is a podcast horror hostess of HorrorAddicts.net. To find out more about Emerian, go to: emzbox.com.

Guest Blog Post and Book Release: Tom Olbert

Today, I’m taking a break from my blog and handing the reins over to sci-fi and horror author Tom Olbert. Tom is talking about his new release, Long Haul, a Science Fiction Action-Adventure novella.

 Space truckers? Yes, please.

This trucker’s haul takes him to the end of time and space, and beyond…

Take the wildest ride of your life!

In the near future, physicists have stumbled on a way to open rifts into other universes, making it possible to transport goods and people anywhere in the world in nothing flat. The unscrupulous corporation that owns the new technology uses it to monopolize shipping worldwide.

Thrill-seeking, death-defying truckers like veteran army driver Garth Jenkins and his gun-toting trucking partner Sally Drake earn hazardous duty pay by hauling rigs through perilous alien universes often infested with deadly alien monsters and many other dangers besides.

Garth and Sally accept a shady corporate contract to deliver some unknown cargo to an alien universe, no questions asked. It looks like an easy way to score big money. But, things go south fast when their truck is hijacked by the beautiful and mysterious Keira Takahashi, and they find themselves pursued by hideous alien parasites in undead human bodies.

On the run and in danger, Garth and Sally find themselves on a crooked cosmic road leading to bizarre other worlds and exotic time periods. They have one chance to unravel the company’s twisted plot and save themselves. Whether they succeed or fail may decide the fate of a universe…

***

Garth Jenkins is the kind of guy who just can’t stay out of trouble, as both his ex-wives will testify. But, when trouble comes (and, to him, it always does BIG TIME) there’s no one you’d rather have in your corner. Sally Drake has her hands full trying to keep Garth on the straight and narrow. They fight over everything (including women.) But together, they are an unbeatable team. To hear Garth tell it in his own words:

Excerpt:

Three suns burned brightly in the sky, the Earth was breaking apart, and giant moths were attacking us. For most guys, that would describe a bad dream after a bender, but when you’re trucking a load on the long haul, that’s business as usual.

A big mama moth was comin’ straight at me, and she looked pretty damn pissed. Wing spread of about fifteen feet, jaws bigger than my head. Yeah, that’s how big they grow in the crazy gravity in this parallel ’verse.

I squeezed the trigger of my flamethrower. A long, twisting stream of fire snaked out and nailed that sucker right between its foot-wide sparklin’ silver eyes. The shrieking noise those mothers make when they burst into flames cuts to the marrow and curdles the blood. Kinda like my ex-wife when I’m late with a payment.

It was still coming straight for me. I felt the fire on my face as it swooped in. Those things go up like freakin’ gas balloons, y’know. As it passed over, I held onto the rearview side mirror, crouched down on the running board, and nudged that big flaming bug with the muzzle of the flamethrower. It passed on over, stinking, singed pieces of it falling onto my hair and coveralls.

“Damn!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as the truck hit the guard rail, sparks flying, metal screeching. My feet slipped off the running board, and the rearview started coming loose in my hand. I looked down. My feet dangled over a damn long drop into a kind of island floating in mid-air, a jungle landscape splitting apart, volcanoes erupting and lava bubbling up.

There was nothing but sky all around, filled with other floating islands, and swarms of those moth things were taking off from them. Behind that, the moon filled half the sky. It looked close enough to touch. I held on for dear life as the rubber screeched over the tar. My trucking partner, Sally Drake, was spinning that wheel blind, trying to keep the damn rig on the highway. A highway that was built in mid-air, stretching out from one floating island to the next. Don’t ask me how. Our road crews just paved over old highways that were already there. Built by aliens from another ’verse, maybe. Or by humans from our future. I just drive. I don’t ask questions.

***

Coming from Musa Publishing on Friday, Aug 1, 2014.  Find Long Haul here.

 

Women in Horror Month Guest post by author Nicky Peacock

Today, I’m featuring a guest post by author Nicky Peacock. Thanks, Nicky for your contribution to the blog and to Women in Horror Recognition Month. 

 

Tapping into fear.

Greetings! I’m author, Nicky Peacock and I’m here today to talk to you about…fear. Yes, fear; that cold creeping sensation that tickles your courage at the most inopportune times. Whether they are rational or completely insane, fears are a massive part of horror and instilling it in characters and readers is crucial for a satisfyingly scary outcome. Wahahaha!

As a writer I play around with a number of genres: urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk and dark fantasy, but horror is one of my all-time favourites. When readers curse my name for having to sleep with the lights on, I know I’ve done a good job. Tapping into people’s fears really is the key to a good ol’ scare and I’ve learnt this with first-hand experience.

A few years ago I worked as an actor in a pop-up Halloween attraction. As a writer you’re told to ‘write what you know’ and although I have a long list of my own personal fears (which we’ll come to in a moment) I felt it would help my writing to spend some quality time scaring the crap out of people! And it really did. Dressed up in blood soaked costume, portraying the ghost of murdered little girl, it was almost addictive and definitely devilishly deviant. Everyone had different reactions to my presence. Some recoiled at the sight of me, some kept a safe distance, some screamed and ran, one brave teenager even tried to help me. The whole thing was a real eye opener in terms of horror and fear.

Red Fingers

So, what scares a horror writer? Without going into a massive therapy session, I’m going to give you three of my fears. The first…clowns. Yes, I know it’s silly and probably only stems from the fact I read Stephen King’s IT far too young, but they truly worry me. Only recently, near my home town, a random guy dressed like a clown, created a media buzz; Google ‘Northampton Clown UK’ and you’ll see the photos. Needless to say my friends and family who lived there didn’t see me till he was ‘caught’.  You often find characters like clowns in horror. Mannequins, ventriloquist dummies, jesters, dolls, mimes (okay, being attacked by mime would be more annoying than scary!) But these sorts of characters can illicit fear just by their mere presence and the fact they’re having so much fun whilst committing their gruesome attacks – well, that’s just plain scary.

One of my worst fears, and probably the most ridiculous, is getting lost somewhere. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a very organised and punctual person. The thought of not knowing where I am frightens the bejeezes out of me. This isn’t helped by the fact I have little to no sense of direction. But that ‘lost’ feeling is utilised more often that you think in horror. The whole ‘backwoods cannibals’ scenarios like in Jack Ketchum’s ‘Off Season’ Richard Laymon’s ‘Dark Mountain’ and Bryan Smith’s ‘Depraved’ all rely on main characters wandering off the beaten track and finding themselves somewhere they really shouldn’t be.

Now, I’m going to tell you third one, but it’s a secret okay, so come closer, closer, don’t be shy and promise me you won’t tell anyone – promise? It is zombies. Yes, those grabby undead relentless so-and-sos. But, I hear you cry, they’re just fiction they’re not real….well, currently they are, but if that was to change, if a drug was developed that had hideous side effects, if a nuclear bomb dropped that had unforeseen consequences, if some clever scientist decides to do a Frankenstein, if a virus develops that skips the species border, if aliens decide to have some fun and let out…okay even I think the last one is a bit far-fetched. But hey, there are a number of ways this could happen and after all, zombies are just… us. The dead are already here. Scary huh?

Nicky_Peacock2

BIO: Nicky is an English author living in the UK. You can find her work on Amazon:    http://www.amazon.com/Nicky-Peacock/e/B007UH2ACW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_7 and her http://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com Her short story ‘The Red Fingers’ will be featured in The Grotesquerie anthology published by Mocha Memoirs and edited by Eden Royce.