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What the heck are BookShots

And no, they are not inoculations to prevent you from getting the dreaded book worms. BookShots are, in fact, the brainchild of James Patterson, the man who sells more books than there are zombies playing Pokemon Go. They made their debut last month and are literally popping up everywhere.

BookShots are a very clever bit of marketing targeted to today’s dwindling attention spans. They are, in every sense of the word, novellas. You know, not quite a short story, not quite a novel. For authors who think in word counts, novellas tend to settle between the 25-50k word range. Novels, on the other hand, are typically 90k words or more. Novellas have been around forever and a day and night. What’s new with BookShots is the branding and availability.

cross kill

They’re fast reads that pack a lot of punch in a little package. It’s usually hard to find novellas in print. They’ve become the darling of the ebook world. BookShots, on the other hand, are being  published in print with wide, and I mean WIDE, distribution. They’re designed for readers on the go who want to be thrilled or romanced in one or two sittings. According to Publishers Weekly, in the first week of sales, BookShots sold over 30,000 copies. Not too shabby.

The first BookShots were written by James Patterson – CROSS KILL (an Alex Cross thriller) and ZOO 2. These will be followed up with many more by a host of different authors, all geared to get your pulse pounding. I just found out that there’s also a romance line called BookShots Flames. I happened to stumble upon a copy of The McCullagh Inn in Maine by Jen McLaughlin in a supermarket. Jen and I share an agent, so even though it’s a romance (woven within a suspense story), I had to pick it up and I’ll be damned if I didn’t read it in two sittings, just like Patterson promised. And I dug it. I also downloaded Zoo 2 on my Kindle, even though I never read Zoo or watched the TV show. I had to see what all the hubub was about. It was fast paced, campy fun. Those are two sweet spots for me.

Maine

I have to admit, I’m actually kind of excited about this. Anything that gets more people reading is a major win as far as I’m concerned. As an author, I prefer writing novellas. And I’m not alone. Most authors I talk to love novellas, both writing and reading them. There’s something about knowing there’s a limit but also having the space to explore characters deeper than you can in a short story or just go for broke and let the rollercoaster run free.

As a horror writer, I hope Patterson casts his gaze in the genre’s direction. Novellas have always been a huge part of horror. Even today there are great horror novellas being published weekly by the likes of Severed Press, Sinister Grin, Deadite and so many more. It would be nice to see them in print at the airport or supermarket or any bookstore you happen to find.Why do you think shows like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside and other half hour bites of terror were so successful? Because horror is best when it’s short, twisted and terrifying.

BookShots in print are a little wider than a mass market paperback. Kind of like a classic Goosebumps book. They feel so good in your hands. It’s book crack at its best.

I’m keeping a watchful eye on BookShots. Could it be a game changer? We can only hope. The success of BookShots means more readers and more good paying opportunities for writers.  Everybody’s happy, unless you’re Captain Beatty. (extra credit if you can name the book!)

And James Patterson, if you’re looking for a thriller writer who can send readers to dizzying heights within the warm confines of BookShots, give my agent a call. You already have her number.

Upcoming Appearance in New Jersey

So, a priest, a horror writer and Snooki walk into a bar…

Thanks to the wonderful Jay Kay with Horror Happens (you need to be listening to his show), I’m breaking out of my cage and will be at a very special event in Joisey on Friday, July 15th, you know, that place with the devil that popped outta Momma Leeds. I won’t be the only author and there’s going to be a women in horror film fest.

Here be the gory details. Hope to see you there!

spin scream

Horror Happens Productions brings some of the best short and feature horror films to the record/book/music/movie store Spin Me Round in the Phillipsburg Mall every 3rd Friday of the month FREE. The event will run from 7 to 11 PM EST with the following schedule:

July’s Authors, Filmmakers and Films Lineup includes:

(Head over to http://horrorhappens.com/ for now to see bios and trailers!)

7:00 to 7:45 PM: Meet and Greet /Signing with
Authors LJ Moran & Hunter Shea

8:00 to 8:30 PM: Panel Discussion with the Authors

8:45 to 9:05 PM: Quartet of Short Films including:
“Boxer” by Toy Lei (5m)
“Grammy” by Jill Gevargizian (2m)
“Cleaning House” by Andrea Mark Wolanin (5m)
“Postpartum” by Izzy Lee (7m)

9:10 to 10:50 PM: Our July Feature Film “Dys-” Directed by Maude Michaud (1 hr 40m)

Event is FREE to attend, meet the filmmakers, stay for the panel discussion and if you are over 18 years old (with ID), watch the selected short films. Filmmakers and/or authors may have merchandise, films and more to purchase and get signed.

Location: Spin Me Round in the Phillipsburg Mall at 1200 US Highway 22, Phillipsburg, NJ (Come shop for Records, DVDs, T-Shirts, Books, CDs and more…)

Unlike Bela Lugosi, Samhain Is Not Dead

Hello and happy summer, Hellions!

First, does anyone remember the 80s Bauhaus classic, Bela Lugosi’s Dead? It’s one of my favorites from back in they da, at the time a perfect marriage of my two passions, horror and new wave music. Man, I miss new wave. Never did go for the Flock of Seagulls look, though.

 

We just got word this past week that after months of reshuffling things, Samhain is back on its feet. Soon, they’ll be opening to new submissions as well. That’s good news, not just for the authors who have books with Samhain, but maybe more importantly for those who love to read horror. As a man who devours scary books like they’re Tic Tacs, the more places I can find them, the better.

It’s especially good because some amazing books that had been acquired before things went sideways are coming out now , including works by the legendary RICHARD LAYMON and the wildly popular BORDERLANDS anthology, edited by Thomas and Olivia Monteleone. This is top notch stuff. I repeat – TOP NOTCH.

Samhain will always have a special place in my cold, black heart. They not only gave me my big break, but linked me with another legend, editor Don D’Auria. Everything I have now is thanks to Samhain. And now I’m thinking of writing the next Jessica Backman/Eddie Home book for Samhain. So many more stories with those two, it’ll be nice to keep them all in one place.

So yes, you can still get superb books by what I call The New Class – authors like JONATHAN JANZ, BRIAN MORELAND, RON MALFI, TIM WAGGONER, KRISTOPHER RUFTY, FRAZIER LEE, RUSSELL JAMES, DAVID BERNSTEIN, AARON DRIES, GLENN ROLFE and so many more, I could write names for the next hour.

Samhain has risen from the…well, not the grave, but the gurney? Works for me. Celebrate by buying a book or two!

I Kill in Peace Cover    IslandoftheForbidden-H Dover Demon Large Cover

Appearance this Saturday!

I grew up spending half my waking hours in comic book stores (and old time stationery stores that sold comics and Mad Magazine).

I’m crossing another item off my bucket list this Saturday, June 11th at the Spider’s Web, the best comic book store in Westchester, NY. It’s located at 887 Yonkers, Ave, Yonkers, NY, right across the street from Empire City Casino. Here’s a bit of trivia, the proverbial poop hits the fan in my book, Tortures of the Damned, right at that very spot. So come see me, buy a book (all of my books will be on hand) and see where the end of Yonkers began. I’ll be in a nice tent right outside the store, working on my tan.

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A Message From Beyond?

Do the dead speak to us from time to time?

Maybe not so much in words, though that’s been known to happen. Sometimes they communicate with us in dreams, or in a strange happenstance.

I know it’s easy to dismiss those instances as coincidence or an unconscious longing to know that a loved one is not only ok, but nearby.

It’s coming up on 3 years since my father passed away. He went in to have a kidney stone blasted, a simple procedure, and 36 hours later, he was gone. It was devastating.

I’ve literally not purged my phone of pictures since 2013, so a few weeks ago, I decided it was long past due. I wanted to download all of my pics (graduations, vacations, holidays and just goofing around) and save them to my computer and a backup drive.

You all know how that works. It’s real simple. You connect your phone to your computer, select all, and presto, they’re off the phone in one fell swoop.

When it was done, I was relieved, because I was really worried about losing those captured memories. I unplugged the USB cable with a feeling of satisfaction. The old man had conquered modern technology.

I went to my Camera icon on my phone just to bask in the afterglow of a job well done, which in this case would be zero picture files.

I quickly discovered one solitary picture had refused to move on.

It was the last picture taken of my father.

He’d just had the outside of the house redone and was very happy with the results. Super Storm Sandy had done a number on it, and the whole structure had to be resided. We were in the yard and I snapped a pic of the house. My father just happened to be standing by the grill, looking off somewhere to my left. Now, I know it looks like he’s not happy, but that was his ‘I’m conentrating’ or ‘the sun is too damn bright’ look.

dad in  yard

 

And there he still is, in my phone, in a sense, with me at all times, since my phone is practically attached to me.

There is no logical reason why that picture didn’t transfer over. Select All means you select all, not all minus one.

I’ve been doing a lot of flying lately – something I hate and dread – and I guess he wanted to make sure he was there with me. Or maybe he just wants to collect some frequent flier miles. But there he is.

I hope he enjoys the flight from New Orleans later today.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Today is the happiest of days, Hellions!

I may be at the day job, but to keep myself in the proper mood, I have the first four Friday the 13th movies playing in rotation. Just hearing the soundtrack and screams in the background gives me the warm fuzzies. I even got old time 3-D glasses for part 3! I forgot how they give me huge headaches.

ft13

When I get home later, it’ll be more Friday the 13th movies. Which got me thinking…what’s your favorite of the bunch? I lean toward part 4. Love little Corey Feldman hacking Jason up at the end. I felt a kinship with that horror mask making little weirdo. Share your favorite Friday the 13th movie or kill scene! Today is our day!

friday

Goodbye Prince

I don’t think I’ve ever had, or will ever have, a celebrity death hit me as hard as Prince, who passed away at age 57 in his Paisley Park estate on Thursday, April 21st. I never met Prince, but his influence on my life was profound, his music literally the soundtrack to my life. If you were a teen in the 80s, I’ll bet that my experience mirrors your own.

Prince

The first time I became really aware of Prince the musician was when I heard the song Little Red Corvette. The sound was like nothing I’d ever heard before, being a 14 year old white kid from the Bronx. I bought his 1999 album from the record store two blocks away and listened to it over and over.

Then came the blockbuster, Purple Rain. That was it for me. I was sold. Prince fan for life. I saw the movie a half dozen times in the theater. I bought the album and wore the grooves out. Because we didn’t have cable or MTV, I waited every Friday night for Friday Night Videos on a local channel so I could watch the videos for When Doves Cry or Let’s Go Crazy. I fell in love with Apollonia. There were two issues of Cream Magazine featuring Prince that I carried around in my back pocket for an entire summer, rereading the articles constantly.

I was hooked into the Minneapolis wave of music – Morris Day and the Time, Vanity 6, Ready for the World, Wendy & Lisa and even early Janet Jackson. I dove into his back catalog, a string of funky-pop albums that started when he was 19 like For You, Prince, Dirty Mind and Controversy. Those early albums are full of so much raw energy and wild sexuality, it’s hard to believe they were written and performed by such a young man.

Gold album

Even as I grew older and became a metalhead, Prince was still my go-to. No one’s music has meant more to me than his. Since his death, some local stations here in NY have been  playing nothing but Prince songs, some I haven’t heard in a long time, deep cuts from Around the World in A Day or Lovesexy. Radio has been so homogenized, watered down and turned into corporate shilling for plastic performers, the wave of Prince classics has been a breath of fresh air. It makes me wonder, why the hell did you not play these songs over the past 15-20 years?

It also made me realize I know the lyrics to every Prince song from 1977 until about 1999 (right when my kids were born and priorities…ummm…shifted). I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve teared up several times over the past 24 hours, driving to Alphabet Street or Pop Life.

I’ve tried to come up with a list of my all time favorites. It’s almost impossible. There are just so many. It was rare that I disliked even 1 song on an album. But here are the ones that I could listen to on an infinite loop :

  • I Wanna Be Your Lover
  • Purple Rain
  • Darling Nikki
  • I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
  • The Morning Papers
  • 7
  • The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Literally, the list could go on and on.

I was lucky to see him in concert in the 90s. I tell people, it was the closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had. People of every age, race, creed and color were literally one that night, many with tears streaming down their faces as we swayed with the music. Prince played over a dozen different instruments that night, and played them masterfully. The man was a legendary guitarist. He could shred like no other and drop funk like Napalm.

There was a time I was going to get a tattoo of the symbol he became during his dispute with Warner Brothers. I think it’s time I did it.

Prince symbol

Damn, I’m going to miss him. I don’t care about how he died. He’s gone, and can’t come back. But I’ll always have his music.

And let’s not forget that Vanity passed away earlier this year. I’m losing vital parts of the fabric of my soul, and it’s happening way too soon.

Vanity

 

Saying Goodbye to Samhain

Yesterday, the authors received word from Samhain Publishing’s President, Christina Brashear, that their doors were closing.

“It’s with the heaviest of hearts and a great sadness I bring you the news of Samhain beginning the process of winding down due to our market share’s continuing decline.”

The signs had been there over the past few months that this day was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier to hear the news. Samhain will gradually wind down this year. They’re not closing up shop right away. Books that are in their queue for publication, like my upcoming I Kill In Peace, will still be released. I just can’t tell you how long it will be available. I’m hoping for the remainder of 2016.

I Kill in Peace Cover

It’s truly sad to see Samhain go. They, and editor Don D’Auria, were the first ones to give me a chance. They nurtured my growth as a writer, giving me free reign to be as creative and twisted as I wanted, providing the means for my stories to be told and, hopefully, enjoyed by thousands of readers. I remember when I got my acceptance letter for my first novel, Forest of Shadows, way back in early 2011. I was over the moon. To be asked to be part of the premier of a horror line was just astounding to me. I mean, I was a total nobody, and they wanted to print my book next to Ramsey Campbell. What the fuck were they thinking? I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. But I’m damn glad they did it.

forest-of-shadows

 

Over the next 4+ years, I made it a point to write 2 books for Don and Samhain. I wanted Samhain’s horror line to succeed and grow. And grow it did. In the end, I’ve published 10 books with them. And I wasn’t even the most prolific! Samhain gave voice to some of the best new talent in the business – writers like Jonathan Janz, Kristopher Rufty, Brian Moreland, Russell James, David Bernstein, Frazer Lee, Catherine Cavendish, Aaron Dries, Adam Cesare. The list goes on and on. This gang is no longer the future of horror. They are the present.

Samhain gave you that.

It was an honor and a pleasure meeting my fellow writers at conventions like Horrorhound, Scares That Care and Horrorfind. We’ve formed bonds that I know will last well beyond the Samhain era. And the people who work at Samhain were top-notch. You couldn’t find a more likable bunch. There was Jacob and his kilt, Amanda, Kaitlyn, Tera, Tanya. All good people with enough enthusiasm to power a V2 rocket.

Unfortunately, the sales never matched expectations. I see it when I go to horror cons. Horror fans are devout and loyal as hell. They are the best people I know. But I also know that most would rather spend $40 on a terribly produced movie or signed headshot of the woman who guest starred in Maniac Cop 2 than buy a book or two.

I’m not complaining. I can’t complain. So many of you have bought my books, I’ve been astounded. Though I can’t count the number of times people have told me, “I don’t read horror” or “If they make that book a movie, I’ll watch it”. Really, it’s not just the horror genre. We’re not a nation of big time readers, especially in a world with limitless distractions. We never have been. Don’t believe me. Next time you go to the beach, count how many people lay on their towel reading a book. You’ll get an accurate percentage from just one visit. Last time I was at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, a one mile stretch of white sand with thousands of sun worshippers, I counted only 2 other people in my immediate area, which encompassed about 200 or more people. I made book lover #3.

Could Samhain have tried better? Sure. Maybe lowering the cost of books and working at better distribution would have helped. But then again, Dorchester/Leisure books were everywhere, and even they collapsed.

If you love horror, I encourage you to read more in the genre. Don’t just wait for the next insipid tits-n-zits slasher flick to pop on-demand. I guarantee you, any book you read from a Samhain author will be better than that $5 movie.

And now is the time to pick up print copies of the Samhain books you either love and have in ebook or have on your wish list. There’s no telling when they will be no more and maybe someday become collector’s editions.

samhainlogo

Thank you, Samhain, for the opportunities you’ve given me, and the career you helped me build. I can’t repay you enough for that (though my Samhain logo tattoo should come close). And for introducing me to a posse of wonderful writers and your amazing staff. It’s been a wonderful 5 years. I just wish it could have been many, many more.

 

Let’s Help Create The Feminomicon

For those of you who don’t know, February is Women in Horror Month. I really wish we didn’t need a month to dedicate to the incredible women who bring the horror to us day in and day out. With so many talented writers, artists, directors and more, every day should be about women – and men –  in horror. That being said, it is true that the genre does need more female voices to be heard and seen.

In light of that, I bring to you a wicked cool Kickstarter campaign by artist Christopher Stoll. He’s creating a book called THE FEMINOMICON, an incredible collection of artwork on mythological women from all around the world.

Feminomicon

Here’s a little on THE FEMINOMICON in Christopher’s words –

The Feminomicon is a fantasy-art style bestiary of incredible female myths and monsters from around the world with a focus on diversity and empowerment. A wealth of ancient creatures have been completely forgotten by contemporary culture, and this Lovecraftian tome aspires to rediscover the essence of these lost horrors through detailed illustrations and terrifying descriptions of their abilities, behavior, and origins. 
Everyone knows harpies, medusa, and hags… but have you heard of the great Dearg Due, Futakuchi onna, or Campe? Rediscover a lost heritage of female horror, and check out a book where vampiric flying severed heads that trail glittering intestines are one of the more ordinary beasts on display. 
Check out his Kickstarter page to see more of the amazing artwork he’s done and view the video. I love the fact that he’s traveling the country in a tricked out school bus while he works on the book. Lucky young bastard. I really like this project and will be supporting him as well. For Women in Horror Month, we’re bringing you the women who have instilled horror in men’s hearts for centuries. Let’s all make it happen.

Happy New Year – Let The Top 10 Lists Begin

I hope you’re all planning to have an irresponsible…I mean safe and chaste…new year’s eve. For guys like me, you know, north of forty with a family, the amateur nights of NYE hustling from drunken party to drunken party are behind me. Now, I force myself to stay awake just so I can watch the start of The Honeymooners marathon. The day after, I switch between that and The Twilight Zone, sprinkling in some Odd Couple here and there.

This year we’re doing something different. A couple of families are going to an immense indoor water park and resort. I packed my bathing suit and a bottle of Fireball. I think that’s all I need. Looking forward to hitting the water slides.

And speaking of looking forward, this time of year is also about looking backward, which is why you see so many top 10 lists. When I get back, I’ll not only publish my annual Top 13 horror films of 2015, but a top TV shows and top reads of the past year as well.

Until then, here are links to some other top lists. The reason I include these particular lists is because one of my books is on each. I know, sly dog. But there are some incredible books on each list, more than enough to satisfy your  thirst for quality horror. So here they be…

Top 10 Horror Novels by Horror Novel Reviews (you’ll find THE DOVER DEMON there on one of the most prestigious horror review sites out there)

Dover Demon Large Cover

The Mouths of Madness 2015 Best-Of Books! (featuring ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN and TORTURES OF THE DAMNED…ZDubbz gives you not only the best, but what he’s looking forward to in 2016)

IslandoftheForbidden-H

Super Author Glenn Rolfe’s Top 10 (ISLAND OF THE FORBIDDEN makes another list, which makes me think I have to write another Jessica and Eddie book soon!)

I’m sure there are plenty more lists to come. I’d stay and write longer, but I have to get the car ready, stop at the store, and try to wake 2 teenage daughters up. No easy task.

Have a Happy New Year and stay thirsty, my fiends!

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