November 19, 2014

The Horror Near to His Heart: an interview with Christopher Golden, author of "Snowblind"

When Christopher Golden isn't collaborating with Mike Mignola on Hellboy or Baltimore tales, he's writing tie-in novels for celebrated franchises like Sons of Anarchy and Uncharted and others, and when he's not doing all that he's writing his own celebrated novels, the most recent of which is a return to the horror genre with Snowblind. I had the chance to ask him some questions in the lead-up to the book's paperback release. Enjoy.


Once upon a time, Coventry weathered a horrific blizzard, one that left many people dead—and others mysteriously lost. Twelve years later, the town is still haunted by the snow that fell that one fateful night…and now a new storm is on the way.

Photographer Jake Schapiro mourns the little brother he lost in the storm and, this time, he will see another boy go missing. Mechanic and part-time thief Doug Manning, whose wife was never found after she wandered into the whiteout, is starting over with another woman—and more ambitious crimes. Police detective Joe Keenan has never been the same since that night, when he failed to save the life of a young boy…and the boy’s father vanished in the storm only feet away. And all the way on the other side of the country, Miri Ristani receives a phone call—from a man who died twelve years ago. Old ghosts are trickling back to life as a new threat rolls in. Could it be that this storm will be even more terrifying than the last?

Gef: Where did you get the inspiration for Snowblind, since it's been about a decade since you last put out something resembling an outright horror novel?

Christopher:  I was talking to my editor at St. Martin's and he told me that what he wanted was the novel I would write if I could write anything, the one that would be nearest to my heart.  I'd had several of the ideas in SNOWBLIND percolating for years and they really just gelled together when I started thinking about this sort of small town New England tapestry of people. People recognize the Stephen King influence, obviously, but there's a big early Dennis Lehane influence in there, too.

Gef: What kind of a gear shift is it when writing a stand-alone novel as opposed to a series--or comic books for that matter?

Christopher:  I always find it hard to answer those questions.  I'd say it's easier writing a standalone for the obvious reason--you know you need to bring it all to a close.  But at the same time, there are always threads that you could continue following into future novels.  Right now I have no such plans for SNOWBLIND, and I don't think I've ever written a sequel to anything that wasn't intended to have one.  But never say never.

Gef: How intensive was the research process for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Christopher:  It wasn't really a research heavy book.  I did a little poking around in folklore books, but that stuff is my bread and butter, so I knew where to look to refresh my memory.  I have a friend who's a local cop here in town and he was hugely helpful with that sort of thing. The character of Detective Keenan is named after him.

Gef: What do you consider to be the strength or saving grace of the horror genre?

Christopher:  Horror, as Doug Winter famously said, is an emotion.  But within the confines of what is considered the horror genre, you can really write about anything.  There's more room in horror to talk about the human condition than in most genres, and because characters are in extreme circumstances, you can really unravel them and see what's going on inside.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Christopher:  Early on, certain people told me I'd destroy my career by doing media tie-ins. They're certainly not my primary work, but I don't regret them (well, most of them).  And, obviously, those people were wrong.  During the lean times, some of that work--Buffy, in particular--kept me working.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Christopher:  I rarely feel guilty about that stuff, but if you're asking what kind of crap do I like in spite of it being crap...shit, I still don't know.  I could muster a defense for pretty much anything I enjoy.  I mean, who's going to tell me Matango and War of the Gargantuas are bad movies?  I've been really enjoying the new Taylor Swift album.  I bought it for my daughter, but I think it's a terrific call back to different era of pop--and I listen to almost zero modern "pop."  I guess some of the Marvel comics I read are guilty pleasures, but some of them are still great.  No guilt.  Just enjoy the things you enjoy and to hell with anyone who wants you to be embarrassed about it.

Gef: We're coming up to the end of the year, which means everyone and their mama is writing a year-end lists. So what book, movie, game, show, song, or dirty limerick has found its way to the tippy-top of your favorites this year?

Christopher:  SO MANY GREAT BOOKS, many of which I've read as advanced copies, so the actual books won't be out until next year.  THE SILENCE by Tim Lebbon.  GOLDEN SON by Pierce Brown.  UPROOTED by Naomi Novik.  THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey.  STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.  Musically, it's HOZIER's two EPs and Glen Hansard's EP DRIVE ALL NIGHT.  Movie-wise, I haven't seen any of the big fall dramas yet, but come on...what was more fun than GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY?  Nothing.  On TV, of course, we're getting to the end of SONS OF ANARCHY and it's such a twisted ride.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Christopher:  My next novel, TIN MEN, is due out in June.  Later in the year, look for DEAD RINGERS, a new horror novel from St. Martin's.  I've edited a new anthology called SEIZE THE NIGHT--more on that soon.  I'm at and on both FB and Twitter (@ChristophGolden)


You're quite welcome, Christopher. As for the rest of you, you can find the new mass market paperback edition of Snowblind is available for pre-order right now and due to be released on November 25th.

November 18, 2014

Chasing Tale [11/18/14]: What's Worse Than Amazon?

Let's say you're depressed by the present state of the publishing industry. You probably look at Amazon as a carnivorous behemoth devouring publishers and authors alike in a manner befitting the Cookie Monster. Or a giant squid getting handsy with a fleet of ships. Whatever imagery works best for you. Well, the horror story that trumps the most Machiavellian schemes attributed to Amazon, at least for me, is the idea that Facebook could become the new hub for book consumers.

Is Facebook a Life Raft for Web Publishers or the New Gatekeeper?

Basically, it posits the notion that book publishers and book sellers may come to rely on Facebook in the way news media has come to subsist on "Likes" and "Shares." Given the rather insidious and dishonest tactics employed by Facebook regarding its Fan Pages, with a miniscule percentage of subscribers actually seeing posts and such on their Timeline, A book wouldn't stand a chance in such a climate.

I mean, have seen the Olympian-caliber stretches authors and publishers have had to go to just to get a modest signal boost via Facebook? The percentage of followers that actually see posts with any regularly is infinitesimal. And with the "protection money" Facebook asks of content providers to raise that percentage, and the relatively small budgets with which writers have to work with, Facebook's influence would make any strong-arm tactics from Amazon appear charming and quaint by contrast.

Amazon may not be a paragon of virtue, but it is a helluva lot more friendly to authors and publishers than Facebook, in my estimation.

Agree? Disagree? Lemme know, and also leave a comment with what books you've discovered lately. Here are a bunch that found their way onto my TBR pile.

The Year I Died Seven Times (Book #6 & Book #7by Eric Beetner - The serial novel comes to a close this month with the seventh and final installment now out. I think the novel is going to be released as an actual novel next year, but there's no need to wait if you want to read it all now.

Devouring Milo by Tonia Brown - A short novel from Tonia with some new twisted take on werewolves. It's been a while since I read her twisted take on zombies in that weird western of hers, but that was a good'un so I expect more of the same here. And Luke Smith's narration in the audio sample is brooding and creepy.

Dark Screams: Volume One edited by Richard Chizmar and Brian James Freeman - This is a new anthology series coming soon, helmed by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance fame, so you know the quality of stories will be top notch.

SuperGhost by Scott Cole - Some more bizarro fiction has found its way onto my TBR pile. "Mad science, giant monsters, and a whole lot of severed limbs ..." Well, sounds like it's off to a good start so far.

The Dark Fantastic by Stanley Ellin - A college professor set to go on a killing spree and a private eye out to stop him. It's set in Brooklyn. Funny, with a wild premise like it, it would be well-suited to Florida in real life considering the craziness that goes on in that state.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King - Stephen King may be rich, but it's the second-hand bookshops that are making the coin when it comes to my buying his books most of the time. Got a copy of this one and dove right in.

The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio - Just in time for Christmas, Manochio's debut novel tackles the Krampus myth with an American backdrop. I actually interviewed him a couple days ago, so you can check that out if you're curious. Just click here.

The Hammer of Dr. Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert - I wasn't expecting a sequel to The Nine Lives of Dr. Valentine, but it looks like we've got one and it's like finding out you're getting something you never knew you wanted. This time around, the doc has his sights set on some scoundrel journalists. Ooh boy, this oughta be good.

Rough Magick (Gnomesaga Book 1) by Kenny Soward - I was lucky enough to win a paperback copy of this one from Kenny during a little Ragnarok Publications release party. The sequel, Tinkermage, should be released sometime in December too, so this series is officially off and runnin'.

Leytonstone by Stephen Volk - Here's another new one from Spectral Press from a fella that wrote my favorite novella of 2013, Whitstable. I'm not too sure what this book is about,  but I fully expect it to hold up with the quality of storytelling  I've come to know the guy for.

November 17, 2014

#TheTreeofWaterTour Catching Up with the Deep Down: an interview + giveaway with Elizabeth Haydon, author of "The Tree of Water"

Find it on

Little is known for sure about reclusive documentarian and archanologist Elizabeth Haydon.

She is an expert in dead languages and holds advanced degrees in Nain Studies from Arcana College and Lirin History from the University of Rigamarole. Her fluency in those languages [Nain and Lirin] has led some to speculate that she may be descended of one of those races herself. It should be noted that no one knows this for sure.

Being an archanologist, she is also an expert in ancient magic because, well, that’s what an archanologist is.

Being a documentarian means she works with old maps, books and manuscripts, and so it is believed that her house is very dusty and smells like ink, but there is no actual proof of this suspicion. On the rare occasions of sightings of Ms. Haydon, it has been reported that she herself has smelled like lemonade, soap, vinegar, freshly-washed babies and pine cones.

She is currently translating and compiling the fifth of the recently-discovered Lost Journals when she is not napping, or attempting to break the world’s record for the longest braid of dental floss.

She was kind enough to answer some questions about the latest of Ven’s journals, The Tree of Water. Here is what she shared.

Dr. Haydon, can you give us a brief summary of The Tree of Water?

Certainly. Ven Polypheme, who wrote the, er, Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, lived long ago in the Second Age of history, when magic was much more alive and visible in the world than it is now. His journals are very important finds, because they tell the story of ancient magic and where it still may be found in the world today.

In the first three journals we saw how Ven came to the mystical island of Serendair and was given the job of Royal Reporter by the king of the island, a young man named Vandemere. The Royal Reporter was supposed to find magic that was hiding in plain sight in the world and report back about it to the king. As you can imagine, this could be a fun but dangerous job, and at the beginning of The Tree of Water, we see that Ven and his friends are hiding from the evil Thief Queen, who is looking to find and kill him.

Amariel, a merrow [humans call these ‘mermaids,’ but we know that’s the wrong word] who saved Ven when the first ship he sailed on sank, has been asking Ven to come and explore the wonders of the Deep, her world in the sea. Deciding that this could be a great way to find hidden magic as well as hide from the evil Thief Queen, Ven and his best friend, Char, follow her into the Deep. The sea, as you know, is one of the most magical places in the world—but sometimes that magic, and that place, can be deadly.

The book tells of mysterious places, and interesting creatures, and wondrous things that have never been seen in the dry world, and tales from the very bottom of the sea.

The main character in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series is Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme. Tell us about him.

Ven was an interesting person, but he really didn’t think so. He and his family were of a different race than the humans who made up most of the population where he lived, the race of the Nain. Nain are an old race, a little shorter and stockier than most humans, with a tendency to be on the grumpy side. They live about four times as long as humans, are very proud of their beards, which they believe tell their life stories, don’t like to swim or travel, and prefer to live deep in the mountains.

Ven was nothing like the majority of Nain. He was very curious, loved to travel, could swim, and longed to see the world. He was actually a pretty nice kid most of the time. He had the equivalent of a baby face because only three whiskers of his beard had grown in by the time The Tree of Water took place, when he was fifty years old [around twelve in Nain years]. He had a great group of friends, including the merrow and Char, who were mentioned earlier. It is believed that his journals were the original research documents for two of the most important books of all time, The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World’s Magic. The only copies of these two volumes were lost at sea centuries ago, so finding the Lost Journals is the only way to recover this important information.

What kind of research do you do for the series?

I go to places where Ven went and try to find relics he left behind. Usually this is with an expedition of archaeologists and historians. I am an expert in ancient magic [an archanologist] so I don’t usually lead the expeditions, I’m just a consultant. It gives me the chance to learn a lot about magic and lets me work on my suntan at the same time, so it’s good.

What is/are the most difficult part or parts of writing/restoring the Lost Journals?

Here’s the list, mostly from the archaeological digs where the journals have been found:

1] Cannibals
2] Crocodiles
3] Sunburn
4] Sand flies
5] Dry, easily cracking parchment pages
6] The horrible smell of long-dead seaweed
7] Grumpy members of the archaeological expedition [I could name names, but I won’t]
8] Expedition food [when finding and retrieving the journal for The Tree of Water, we ate nothing but peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives and yellow tea for six months straight]
9] When salt water gets into your favorite fountain pen and clogs it up. This is very sad.
10] Unintentionally misspelling a word in the Nain language that turns out to be embarrassing [the word for “jelly” is one letter different from the word for “diarrhea,” which caused a number of my Nain friends to ask me what on earth I thought Ven was spreading on his toast.]

What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your other books?

Getting to write about a lot of cool magic stuff that used to exist in our world, but doesn’t anymore. And getting to travel to interesting places in the world to see if maybe some of it still does exist. Also getting to show the difference between merrows, which are real, interesting creatures, and mermaids, which are just silly.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope, in general, that it will open their eyes to the wonder of the sea, which takes up the majority of our planet, but we really don’t know that much about it down deep. There is a great deal of magic in the sea, and I hope that if and when people become aware of it, they will help take care of it and not throw garbage and other bad stuff into it. I have a serious dislike for garbage-throwing.

Probably the most useful secret I learned that I hope will be of use to readers is about thrum. Thrum is the way the creatures and plants that live in the ocean communicate with each other through vibration and thought. As Ven and his friends learn, this can be a problem if you think about something you don’t want anyone to know about when you are standing in a sunshadow, because everyone gets to see a picture of what’s on your mind. Imagine how embarrassing that could be.

Are there more books coming in this series?

Well, at least one. In the archaeological dig site where The Tree of Water was found was another journal, a notebook that Ven called The Star of the Sea. We are still working on restoring it, but it looks like there are many new adventures and different kinds of magic in it. The problem is that it might have been buried in the sand with an ancient bottle of magical sun tan lotion, which seems to have leaked onto some of the journal’s pages. This is a very sad event in archaeology, but we are working hard to restore it.

As for other books, it’s not like we just write them out of nowhere. If we haven’t found one of Ven’s journals, there can’t be another book, now, can there? We are always looking, however. We’ve learned so much about ancient magic from the journals we have found so far.

You are a best-selling author with other books and series for adults. What made you want to write books for young readers?

I like young readers better than adults. Everyone who is reading a book like mine has at one time or another been a young reader, but not everyone has been an adult yet. Young readers have more imagination and their brains are more flexible—they can understand magical concepts a lot better than a lot of adults, who have to deal with car payments and work and budget balancing and all sorts of non-magical things in the course of their days.

Besides, many adults scare me. But that’s not their fault. I’m just weird like that.

I think if more adults read like young readers, the world would be a happier place.

Tell us where we can find your book and more information about where you are these days.

You can find The Tree of Water anywhere books are sold, online and in bookstores. There are several copies in my steamer trunk and I believe the palace in Serendair also has one. I also sent one to Bruno Mars because I like his name.

At the moment, I am on the beautiful island of J’ha-ha, searching for a very unique and magical flower. Thank you for asking these interview questions—it has improved my mood, since I have only found weeds so far today. I am hoping for better luck after lunch, which, sadly, is peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives, and yellow tea again.

All the best,

Dr. Elizabeth Haydon, PhD, D’Arc

Thanks, Elizabeth. And as for the rest of you, if you'd like a chance to win a copy of Elizabeth's latest book, and you reside in Canada or the United States, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and I will randomly draw a winner's name on Friday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 14, 2014

Grieving Las Vegas: a review of Kate Jonez's "Ceremony of Flies"

Ceremony of Flies
by Kate Jonez
DarkFuse (2014)
232 pages

If Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas made a baby with Natural Born Killers, that baby's name might be Ceremony of Flies.

Now, I'm not going to get too much into the nitty gritty of this novel's plot, because I think it is best experienced if you go into it cold. Heck, you should probably avoid the book's back cover blurb if you can help it, because even that gives too much away to prospective readers. Sufficed to say that when you think this book is heading in one direction, it veers wildly and you can't help but hang on for dear life.

Basically, you've got a gal named Emily stuck in a dead-end job at a Vegas casino. It beats her life in New York and that horrible ex she left back there, but when she goes a little ... crazy one night and stabs her Vegas boss, she has little choice but to run for her life. To where? Where all fugitives from justice go? Down Mexico way.

She can't do it on her own though, and soon finds herself in the company of a stranger named Rex, who at first blush seems equal parts mystery and menace. But looks can be deceiving, as Kate Jonez's imagination illustrates along Emily & Rex's road trip into the desert. Tension mounts incrementally as Emily's rather insidious tendencies spring forth, almost from out of nowhere, but even then the true threat of the story is yet to be revealed.

Okay, I've probably given too much away with that. It's an engrossing read and a superb introduction into the dark machinations of Jonez's storytelling. The story has its hiccups here and there with pacing and swerves in the narrative, but overall the characters leap off the page in beautiful and horrifying detail. As much as you are kept guessing what might happen next, you are also left guessing just how Emily and Rex will react and how long their tenuous allegiance can hold.

If you haven't given this one a go, you should remedy that, because Kate's got the goods.

November 12, 2014

Krampus His Style: an interview + giveaway with Matt Manochio, author of "The Dark Servant"

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway.

He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.

Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn't own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.

To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer's Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller.

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in history/journalism.

About The Dark Servant: Santa's not the only one coming to town ...

It's older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy's devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint's ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

Find it on and Samhain Publishing's Online Store.

Gef: Where did you get the inspiration for The Dark Servant?

Matt: From my boss. He came into work in early December 2012, and, knowing that I’m a fan of obscure pop culture, asked me if I had ever heard about Krampus. I hadn’t and he directed me to I was both horrified and amused to the point of laughter when contemplating that Saint Nick would discipline bad children by unleashing a monstrous horned beast from Europe on them. I remember that day because it marked the first time in a while when the writing bug infested every part of my body. I couldn’t wait to explore a story with this creature set in the United States.

Gef: How has the process of working with Samhain in getting the book ready for release been an eye-opener for you?

Matt: It’s the first time I went through the process from start to finish. I submitted the manuscript to my editor in May 2013 and got an offer a few weeks later. I signed the contract in June and delivered the “final” manuscript on July 1, 2013. I received the cover art that same summer and was allowed to give input as to what I envisioned it would look like (which was nice). So, from essentially July 2013 to July 2014, all I did was query established authors for blurbs, and had success getting 10 of them. I also wrote another book. Things really picked up in August 2014. My editor sent back his marked-up, copy-edited version of the book. I was allowed to review it, make small changes (nothing to the plot/no major rewrites), and then resubmitted it in about a week. I received the advance reading copies (ARCs) a week later, along with the cover copy and blurbs to proofread. I was busy sending out ARCS to reviewers and bloggers in September 2014, now eagerly awaiting my pub date of November 1. I’m glad I went through the process so I know what to expect (knock on wood) the next time. One thing people must know about commercial publishing—it takes a while, and the waiting can be excruciating. And when things finally happened, they happened fast.

Gef: How intensive was the research process for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Matt: Not very intense. I visited websites that worshipped Krampus to get a feel for the creature’s origins. It was entirely Internet research. I searched for US news stories (there weren’t many) that chronicled the monster, just to get a feel for how the US media approached the legend. While I wanted to give readers Krampus’s back story, I didn’t want to overwhelm them with every tidbit related to him, just enough to familiarize them with the monster, and to keep the story humming.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Matt: I haven’t received any advice, solicited or otherwise, that stood out to me as being bad. Nobody told me that I should outline my book before writing, and I know there are authors who religiously outline stories before going to town on the computer. I’m not saying outlining is bad. I prefer to simply sit in front of my laptop and fire away, let the story develop as I go.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Matt: I’m a Star Wars nerd. I followed The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network until it abruptly ended following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. I was bummed because I dug the show—and I wasn’t the only one. I’m now getting into the new animated Star Wars offering, Rebels. I have a toddler, which means I rarely can simply pick up and go to the movies. For me and my wife to go to the movies sometimes takes months of planning in advance. Parents reading this who have toddlers know what I mean.

Gef: We're coming up to the end of the year, which means everyone and their mama is writing a year-end lists. So what book, movie, game, show, song, or dirty limerick has found its way to the tippy-top of your favorites this year?

Matt: Godzilla, which my wife and I saw in Florida on vacation (our son was with grandma and grandpa in New Jersey). You see what I mean? For my wife and I to see the eagerly awaited Godzilla, we had to fly to a different state. (At least that’s what it felt like.) I’m looking forward to seeing the final installment of The Hobbit in December. I’m negotiating with a babysitter now.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Matt: I’m eagerly awaiting word from my editor on revisions I made to my second book, hoping he likes what I did enough to sign me up for my next Samhain book. It’s a supernatural Western set in South Carolina during Reconstruction. And that’s all I’m saying for now. I’d love for people to follow me on Twitter, visit my Facebook author page, my Goodreads page, and sign up for my newsletter. And they can do all of that by visiting my website:

Tour Giveaway!
For everyone! CREATE a PINTEREST board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.
Second rule: You must pin Matt's book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link. Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.
Third Recommendation: Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.
Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!
Prize: A "Santa Checked His List and I'm on the Naughty Side" package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

November 4, 2014

Chasing Tale [11/4/14]: Not So Swift

Chasing Tale is a regular look at the most recent books to wind up on my to-be-read pile, along with a rant on whatever is on my mind.

Taylor Swift has a new album out, and I'll be damned in that "Shake It Off" song ain't the catchiest damn thing I've heard in a while. If that song was Ebola, we'd all be dead right now.

The thing is, however, that with the release of this new album and her record labels desire to ensure its success in sales, they have pulled her entire music library from streaming services like Spotify. It's a bold move, and some are wondering how she could cut off an income source like that. Well, when you see the pathetic share of royalties an artist receives from those streaming services, it's not like they are missing out on any great fortune. We're talking fractions of a penny for each time a song is played by a user.

Now, the music industry and the book industry are pretty much apples and oranges, but MP3s did serve as the canary in the coalmine for the major record labels, and ignoring the changing technology earned them a big ol' kick in their complacency. As for the book industry, we have seen the age of ebooks take hold, and now we are even seeing Amazon roll out their "Unlimited" service to subscribers that allows them to read a slew of books for free with publishers and authors scrabbling for a mysterious share of the royalties as calculated by how many times a particular book is read.

For now, publishers and authors are not obligated to place their books on the Unlimited service, but what if that changes? And what if that change has an adverse reaction on their revenue streams? It's just something that has me wondering. It's a nagging feeling. Maybe I should try to shake it off.

Ah, see what I did? ... Anyway, more books have found their way onto my shelves. Have a gander and let me know what you've picked up this week.

Bad Mojo by Shane Berryhill - "Southern-fried" supernatural noir? I think I might enjoy that. This came out over the summer via Ragnarok Publications, which is showing a keen eye for cool titles.

Descent by Sandy DeLuca - Published by Uninvited Books, this one involves a painter getting tangled up with a love interest who has some underworld connections. Interesting, and likely a quiet little thriller considering DeLuca penned it.

The Pumpkin Man by John Everson - I won this book last month as part of Everson's launch party for his latest release through Samhain Horror, The Family Tree, which I bought upon its release. I received it a little late for Halloween, but it's never too early to start up for next Halloween.

Eyes Deep: A Clandestine Daze Novella by Tim Marquitz - A new novella with a gritty urban fantasy story. Considering it's coming from Tim Marquitz, I've little doubt it will prove to be a rollicking, and possibly profanity-laden, adventure.

The Big Adios Western Digest (Fall 2014) edited by Ron Earl Phillips - A new periodical kicked off this all, and a western one no less. One Eye Press has gathered up some new names (new to me, anyway) to go along with the likes o David James Keaton and Tom PItts as contributors. I have high hopes for this one.

The Whitechapel Demon by Josh Reynolds - Here's some pulpy fantasy adventure set in 1920s England, and penned by quite the pulp monkey himself, Josh Reynolds. This new series sounds promising as heck with a sequel out earlier this year, too.

Strange Ways by Bryan Smith - I've bought a few of Smith's novels over the last few years and I see his latest features a coven of witches. Somehow I don't think this is going to be quite like The Craft or Bewitched.

That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley - I tend to enjoy my Lovecraftian horror when it is penned by someone other than Lovecraft, so when this book came up on sale a week or two ago, I figured there was no harm in adding it to my Kindle, since I've heard nothing but good things about it.

October 30, 2014

Five Movies I Enjoy Most On Halloween

Maybe you will be home handing out the candy this year, which means you're going to need some entertainment in between the incessant ringing of your doorbell. A book is great, in fact a book is best in my estimation. But there are other ways to while away the time, like a video-game or a movie. For this blog post, let's talk movies.

When I'm looking for the perfect movie to watch on Halloween, there are plenty of choices.I wrote a blog post about my favorite comedic horror movies a few years ago, and honestly any of those would quite ably work as a quintessential movie for me this time of year, because they share two common traits that I look for in a great Halloween movie: horror and nostalgia.

Even more than Christmas, Halloween drudges up a metric ton of nostalgia for years gone by, whether from childhood, adolescence, or college. Trick-or-treating until our buckets/pillow cases were brimming with plunder, pranking friends with jump scares or copious amounts of toilet paper and silly string, or drunken revelry while dressed in costumes way to elaborate for such tight quarters. Christmas is great, but it's about getting up early Christmas morning, where Halloween is all about staying up late Halloween night. Come on, that alone should put it in the win column.

So here are five movies that I could watch any time of year, but enjoy the most when it is creeping closer and closer to All Hallows Eve. And no, Halloween nor any of its sequels will appear on this list, simply because it's way too obvious and I'm just not that big of a fan of the series.

1) The Evil Dead II (1987)

The first Evil Dead is good, but there is just something even more manic and mesmerizing about the sequel. Okay, it's basically the first movie with a spit-and-polish and a bonkers ending, but come on ... it's just fantastic. And this movie also has Ash with a prosthetic chainsaw in the latter half. Groovy.

I first saw this movie in the early 90s when I was sixteen (old fogey, right?) at a friend's house. It was probably the best of the bunch from our all-night movie marathon, and was the first time I'd ever done the whole staying up late with a group to watch horror movies. Good times.

2) Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Honestly, the movie is kind of hit-or-miss with me. Gary Oldman, amazing. Anthony Hopkins, his usual, effortlessly great self. Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder ... errr, like I said: hit-or-miss. This was another movie I saw at a house party. I didn't know many people there, but they were total movie nerds and were like a live DVD commentary for the thing, which was one of the few times I actually enjoyed people talking through a movie.

One of the trivia tidbits I remember being mentioned was the insane amount of fake blood used through the course of shooting. I never bothered to fact check, but somebody said it was the most fake blood ever used in a film. Given some of the scenes from that movie, I could believe it.

3) The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

From the Universal Monsters of yesteryear, this movie just has the most impact with me. I really only saw for the first time around five years ago or so, but hoo boy, did it pack a wallop. It picks up almost exactly where the first Frankenstein film left off, and really ups the ante with the characters being fleshed out--pun intended--even more, along with the outhouse crazy Dr. Pretorious as the new villain.

For the longest time, this movie was little more than the visage of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride emblazoned on posters and t-shirts. After finally seeing it though, it's really hard not envisioning some of those iconic scenes from the film.

4) The Monster Squad (1987)

Maybe, just maybe, this is the perfect Halloween movie for anyone who was a kid during the 80s. A group of foul-mouthed kids rally to fight the iconic Universal monsters? Oh hell yes!

It is a sad commentary on modern filmmaking to know a movie like this just would not stand a chance of being made today in its current form. I mean, with the flavorless pablum Hollywood doles out to kids these days in theaters, it is impossible to think we could ever see a scene like this again ...

5) Beetlejuice (1988)

Okay, this movie isn't nearly as frightening as it is just plain delightful. The cast is stellar, the story is just a perfect blend of the macabre and the whimsical, and the special effects are among the last batch of great SFX before CGI became the norm.

I could prattle on incessantly about the things that make this a wonderful movie for Halloween, but maybe this musical number led by the incredible Catherine O'Hara would offer the best testimonial.

So there are five of my favorites for Spooktober. What movies would you put on your list?

October 29, 2014

Chasing Tale [10/29/14]: Go Big or Ghomeshi

Chasing Tale is a recurring highlight of the most recent books to wind up on my bookshelves, as well as a rant about whatever is on my mind.

I do not give a damn about Jian Ghomeshi's sex life. He says he enjoys partaking in a "mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey? Fine. Knock yourself out, pal. I really don't need to know. But, near I can tell, the CBC didn't fire him because he's kinda kinky. They fired him because multiple women allege he sexually harassed/assaulted them. That's not kink. That's criminal. It also gives me the creeps.

Taking the guy at his word, I might be inclined to draw parallels between what he is now going through and what Zoe Quinn has been put through for the past few months via Gamergate. Where she has received ceaseless hostility online that was precipitated by the public ravings of an ex-lover, Ghomeshi finds himself the focus of "a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer." Except, actually reading about what's being alleged through the Toronto Star's investigation by not just one, but so far four women, the whole thing resembles less the Zoe Quinn turmoil than it does that of Sam Pepper's ousting from his pedestal on YouTube amid multiple allegations of sexual assault.

And now that the allegations have been made public, things are getting ugly. Jian Ghomeshi is receiving equal parts support and criticism surrounding his public response to the allegations and his unemployment, and the thus-far-unnamed women behind the allegations are also on the receiving end of criticism for not putting their names on the record or filing reports with the police. Well, looking at these statistics, it's little wonder a victim of sexual assault is hesitant to go to the police. And given the prevalence of “doxxing” these days, especially involving women, I would not be the least bit surprised to find the identities of these women splashed across the internet in the near future. Who is telling the truth? No way of knowing yet, but I doubt very much this "campaign" is orchestrated by some nefarious cabal of "jilted" women who have banded together like some Legion of Doom to take down Jian Ghomeshi and his team of Super Friends. While everyone screeches and hollers their opinion right now, there is a lot more information yet to be revealed.

Switching the focus to books now, Jian Ghomeshi has been removed as the host of next week's telecast for the 2014 Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious literary award, and replaced by one of my favorite comedians, Rick Mercer. While Ghomeshi flourishes in one-on-one conversations as proven by his years in radio, I never considered him that great of an emcee. His banter in previous telecasts feels either pretentious or wooden, so I can only see the inclusion of Rick Mercer as a vast improvement for the gala.

I'm interested to see who walks away with the Giller this year, as the last few years have seen some damned good books get the big nod. Looking at the shortlist, Heather O'Neill's The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is the one I find most intriguing and my pick to win it all. We'll find out November 10.

And speaking of books, more found their way to my Kindle and bookshelves. Take a look.

Just So You Know I'm Not Dead by Anonymous-9 - I snagged this trio of short stories as a freebie last week.

Welcome to the Octagon (Fight Card MMA) by Gerard Brennan (as Jack Tunney) - Fight Card has a slew of novellas and short novels published, but this MMA-themed one came up as a freebie last week on the Kindle Store. This time around it's written by Gerard Brennan working under the Jack Tunney pen name.

Sword Sisters by Tara Cardinal and Alex Bledsoe -No chain mail bras on these lasses. It's full body armor and a whole lot of badassery by the looks of it.

Dead Leaves by Kealan Patrick Burke -I snagged this freebie from Smashwords courtesy of Kealan. And it's free for a couple more days, so get yourself some complimentary horror short stories, why don't ya.

Exponential by Adam Cesare -Okay, Adam has a real knack for crafting a horror story that can wrench the gut, both emotionally and physically. This upcoming novel through Samhain Horror might be going for the latter with a tale of a lab mouse that just keeps growing as it goes on a rampage. This just might be awesome.

Suspended in Dusk edited by Simon Dewar - This new anthology came to my attention by Alan Baxter or John Everson or somebody. Either way, the list of contributing authors is impressive with its blend of new and old.

Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows by Jonathan Janz - I have not read any of Valiant Comics' Bloodshot series, but this Kindle Worlds ebook by Jonathan Janz was less than two bucks, so a cheap Janz book is good enough for me.

The God Project by Stan Lee - This is a re-release through Brash Books coming out soon. I didn't even know Stan Lee had written thrillers. Excelsior!

Burial Ground by Michael McBride - I received an Audible review copy from its narrator, Gary Tiedemann. It's a horror novel about an expedition into the Peruvian jungle after the discovery a tribe long thought extinct and a father out to solve his son's murder.

High Moor by Graeme Reynolds - I already have the Kindle edition, but I recently received the Audible edition, narrated by Chris Barnes, and listening to the first couple of chapters has impressed me already with the production quality. Werewolves in smalltown England? Oh my, yes.

Slush by Glenn Rolfe - Glenn has a new batch of short stories collected together this fall.

October Tales by Steve Vernon -So does Steve. Kind of a trend this Halloween, it feels like.


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