The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

The VanishingThe Vanishing by Wendy Webb

Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead.

When she arrives at the Sinclairs’ enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her “too-good-to-be-true” position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I struggled for a little while when trying to decide how to rate and review this novel. If you are a Gothic horror fan then this will likely please the part of you that craves old houses and things that go bump in the night. Still, I definitely think you have to be someone who can suspend your desire for reality to fully enjoy this book.

The main character begins the story by having lost everything, including her husband, her friends and is about to be arrested for something she didn’t do and lose her home all in one swipe of bad luck. I get how she ended up making some of the decisions she did, but there were times when I thought out loud “How stupid is this woman, for heaven’s sake.” I am judgmental, we know this…but I almost felt at times like I was seeing two different personalities emerge from the same character. One who was rational and thought things through and another who just made rash dumb decisions and accepted anything and everything she was led to believe.

Other than that, this is a well written, engaging and fun story that actually scared me enough to make me look over my shoulder a couple of times. Might not want to read this alone, at night, in an old house, like I chose to do if you want to sleep later that night.

Wendy Webb is a new author for me, but I will definitely check out more of her books after this one. She has a careful way of building suspense from the very beginning of her novel and ensuring that it lasts until the very end. One of the things that set this book apart from other recent Gothic tales I’ve read, is that the present and past in this story are merged to where one truly affects the other. I love when an author is so good at spinning a back story for their characters that you feel as if you have known them for a long time, and this author did that.

I was impressed by the pacing of the story. There were rises and falls, major events and minor ones and I was always so curious about the big secret the author kept nearly revealing that this book kept me up way later than I intended to stay up.

Amaris Sinclair was certainly a character to be reckoned with, one of my favourites in recent books. She has a personality that makes you hope you will be like her in the future.

Even at the very end when everything has been revealed and you think you are good to start breathing again, there is one last surprise. I think you should give this one a shot. I liked it.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

An Interview with Author Michael M. Hughes (Blackwater Lights)

Today, I am very pleased to feature author Michael Hughes from Random House’s Hydra imprint. He is the author of “Blackwater Lights,” which I recently read and fell in love with. You can find my review here in case you missed it. I would like to take a moment and thank Mr. Hughes for agreeing to the interview and providing insight into his creative process. Please welcome him to Readful Things :)

 

 
 Tell us a little about you and your writing career.

I’ve been writing fiction and poetry ever since I was a kid, and I first attempted a novel when I was seven (about a modern day vampire) but only got through three chapters. I distinctly remember sitting on my bedroom floor pecking at the keys on my typewriter and being startled (and a little freaked out) at how the words I was putting on paper were actually creeping me out. I was scaring myself! That was my first taste of the magic of storytelling. As I got older I drifted into acting and was a theater major in college, and it wasn’t until I was almost forty that I decided to get serious and write a novel. I have to credit Stephen King’s excellent On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft with lighting the fire that made me decide I could, and should, do it. So I gave myself a deadline of my daughter’s birth to finish my first draft. I made it by a few days and celebrated with a glass of champagne. I had actually done it!

But I was all alone when it came to the formidable world of publishing, and didn’t know anyone who had written a book, much less published one. By a lovely stroke of luck, the Borderlands Boot Camp—an intensive writing workshop focused on horror and dark fantasy—was taking place that winter, and was located about fifteen minutes from my home. One of the instructors, bestselling author Thomas F. Monteleone, read my first three chapters and asked me, “What have you published?” “Nothing,” I said. He looked surprised. “Who’s your agent?” he then asked. I told him I didn’t have one. “Well, this is really good stuff. It should be published. Let me introduce you to my agent.” I was in shock. It wasn’t supposed to be that easy.

His agent liked the story (which at that point was titled Cabal), but decided to pass. But Tom hooked me up with another agent, and he immediately loved it and decided to represent me. We revised the hell out of the book, maybe a total of five or six major revisions over the course of a year. A film agent expressed his interest, but wanted to wait for print publication before securing rights. At that point I was fantasizing about quitting my day job and building my lake house writing retreat where I could spend my life cranking out bestsellers. Good thing I didn’t, because soon the rejections started coming. One after another, almost all along the lines of “Great story, very suspenseful, but just not for us.” I got depressed. Then I submitted to tiny publishers, and even tinier publishers, but no one wanted the damn novel. Even my short stories were getting rejected from magazines with horrible names along the lines of Rotting Corpse Review. My agent finally said, “Just write your next book.” Which I started to do, but my heart was still with my firstborn novel. I couldn’t just shove it into a drawer, so I kept sending it out whenever a faint possibility arose.

Then I saw that Random House was starting a new sf/f/h digital imprint. I’d become a massive reader of ebooks after getting one of the very first iPads off the assembly line, so I knew that digital books were going to become more and more important to the industry. So I sent off my first few chapters, expecting the usual rejection. About a month later an email popped up. The editor wanted to read the whole thing. A couple weeks later I got an offer, and to say I was elated would be an incredibly understatement. And my first novel, Blackwater Lights, is now a real book, albeit made of electrons and not paper. And I’m working on two more books in the series.

When did you first know that you were going to write?

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to read, and ever since I could read I knew I wanted to write stories for other people. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who loves fiction not wanting to create it. I was one of those kids who would always carry a book with me, and when visiting with my relatives I’d find a quiet corner and plop myself down and get lost in the world of my book. Some of my aunts and uncles thought I was being antisocial or rude, but my parents always supported me. They realized that reading is not passive—it’s active engagement, not mindless escape like watching TV. My imagination was always cranking out stories, so I knew at a very early age that I was lucky to have that gift and I should make use of it. My first “published” story appeared in my high school literary magazine. It was a horror short story called “The Catalyst” and I recently found a copy of it and posted it on my blog. And it’s not that bad!

What inspired you to write Blackwater Lights?

A lot of things inspired the book. I’ve always been fascinated by the capital-M Mystery—the big questions about life, death, consciousness, and the often-ignored data that bedevils scientists (and that most of them would rather ignore). Stuff like psychic phenomena, UFOs, near-death experiences, shamanic states of consciousness, psychedelics, and the like. I’ve also been a fan of horror and the macabre since I can remember, and was lucky enough to read Poe, Lovecraft, Stoker, Shelley, and other classics before I got bowled over by Stephen King in the 70s and discovered that horror can be modern and realistic, and wasn’t relegated to gloomy moors and creaky old mansions. So it only made sense that these subjects would become integral parts of my fiction.

And in 1990 I had a sighting of two extremely fast-moving orange lights in the night sky over the Atlantic Ocean. They were doing things that are impossible for conventional aircraft, and I am still trying to understand what they were. I know what they weren’t but I have no idea what they were. So that incident became the genesis for the mystery lights of Blackwater, West Virginia, where the novel takes place.

Sometimes people neglect to review a book they have read. How important do you find it as an author, for people to share their opinions about your work? Do you take their comments into consideration when planning your next novel?

Reviews have become critical to a book’s success, particularly if the book is digital-only (like mine). So I encourage everyone who reads Blackwater Lights to leave a review—even if they don’t like it. I even send personalized postcards to those who review it online, as a thank you (and as an alternative to signing a book since I don’t have physical copies to sign). But although I love it when a reader posts a positive review—especially when he or she really gets what I was aiming for—I expect there are plenty of people who will not like the book. It’s inevitable. But I would never change my vision or my style to appease a reader based on reviews. I have to go with the stuff the muses offer me. I trust them, and my judgment from years of reading and writing, more than some anonymous person on Amazon or B&N.

Can we expect further works form you in the near future and can you give us any hints about what we might see?

I’m already deep into the as-yet-untitled followup to Blackwater Lights, which should satisfy the many people who have been clamoring for a sequel. I left the book open-ended because it felt like the story should continue, and I’m glad I can watch the characters and their world come alive again. In the sequel, the main characters are on the run in Central America, so the setting has gotten bigger, as have the stakes. And Lily, who everyone loves to hate, is back and nastier than ever. The central elements from the first book—the global conspiracy, battling secret societies, ritual magic, and otherworldly entities—are there in book two, only in a much bigger way. And Ray and Ellen, and Ellen’s son, William are still fighting for their lives against malevolent forces that want to destroy them. This book is much more Ellen’s story, so readers who wanted more of her will get it. The book will arrive, again in digital form, in the summer of 2014.

Has publishing and marketing been different than you expected it to be?

I really didn’t know what to expect from Hydra, my publisher, since the digital imprint was a new concept for one of the Big Five. There was a lot of negativity when the imprint launched because people found the initial contracts too restrictive on authors and too “grabby” when it came to rights. To Random House’s credit they made a number of changes and I found the contract and their new business model (a profit-sharing partnership with authors) to be satisfactory and, in some ways, quite progressive.

One of the reasons I resisted self-publishing was the power a traditional publisher wields in not just name-recognition but in sales and marketing savvy. The team at Hydra have confirmed my choice to wait for a contract from a major publisher, in spite of all the suggestions to go it alone. While every author always wants more PR and marketing than a publisher can or will deliver, I have been impressed with the team’s dedication to my book, and at its peak Blackwater Lights was in the top 25 bestselling books in the Nook store and the top 10 in Kindle horror. I couldn’t have done that myself. I would rather spend my time writing than marketing, so I’m happy to have the professionals doing what they do best.

That said, it is critical for every writer, especially a newly published one, to do as much as possible to boost sales. That means Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and taking every opportunity to get your book and your name circulating online and in the real world. If you’re already established and have sold hundreds of thousands of books, you might, like Jonathan Franzen, be able to avoid pimping your work on social media. But if you’re a new commodity, and you don’t have a base of fans waiting to buy your work, you need to find those fans. And that means tooting your own horn, even if you find it distasteful. You may not like it, but it’s the reality of the world we live in.

Where can we find and your work?

My blog (http://michaelmhughes.com) has a list of all my writing, including my nonfiction. Blackwater Lights is available now from all the major online retailers of ebooks, and the sequel will out in July of 2014. I have a short story coming out in the anthology Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification from Great Old Ones Publishing (http://www.amazon.com/Canopic-Jars-Tales-Mummies-Mummification/dp/0615912028/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383585237&sr=1-1&keywords=canopic+jars), and some other projects in the works. So stop by my blog and sign up for the newsletter if you want to stay updated (and get some exclusive extras like deleted chapters, previews, and more).

Any final thoughts for fans/audience?

I love when readers connect with my vision. It’s dark, and disturbing at times, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But I am a hopeful, optimistic person, and I think that comes through in my writing, even when the stories go to some very creepy places. I’ve been overjoyed that many people who don’t consider themselves horror readers/fans have loved Blackwater Lights. And that’s what I was hoping for. Because I don’t define myself as a horror writer. I am a writer of stories that contain horror and the supernatural, certainly, but they’re also about human beings and their loves, their fears, their quirks, and their triumphs. I don’t like being contained in a genre—genres can become ghettos, and I’m always trying to stretch my boundaries. I think the people who like my books the most are those who don’t want by-the-numbers stories about zombies or vampires and the like, but enjoy supernatural thrills based in a very real and believable world with complex, interesting characters. That’s the stuff I find the most deliciously creepy, and I hope others do, too.

Bio

Michael M. Hughes writes both fiction and nonfiction. His debut novel, BLACKWATER LIGHTS, is published by Hydra, an imprint of Random House. When he’s not writing, he lectures on paranormal and fortean topics and performs as a mentalist (psychic entertainer). He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two daughters.

A collection of his short horror stories, Invocation of the Incisor and Other Dark Tales, can be found at Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Nook, iBooks, and other ebook vendors.

Grave Images by Jenny Goebel

Grave ImagesGrave Images by Jenny Goebel

A stylish debut mystery with the perfect balance of sweetness and scares!

Thirteen-year-old Bernie’s summer is looking pretty grim. It’s hard to make friends when your family runs a monument company, and your backyard is littered with tombstones. It’s even harder when your mother suddenly refuses to leave her room . . .

To make matters worse, her father has just hired a new artist to engrave the headstones–the creepy Mr. Stein. Bernie has a bad feeling about him right from the start, and after snooping around his cottage, she discovers an engraved portrait of their neighbor . . . a woman who promptly dies the next day. And it’s not just a weird coincidence. The pattern continues, and Bernie realizes that Mr. Stein has begun engraving headstones before people die, which forces Bernie to ask a horrifying question: Is Mr. Stein predicting the deaths . . . or causing them?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lately I have been on a string of middle grade novels that left a lot to be desired. This one–total joy. I loved Bernie. She is the kind of character that will make your child feel like they have a new friend. Her attitude is often funny and the thoughts she has about the boy who likes her are hilarious.

I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this book, was that it was different. You don’t see too many stories out there where the main characters are in the headstone and monument business. This was a perfect backdrop to build an interesting and original story that you older children will surely love.

The story of why her mother was acting as she did was touching but not overly graphic or soppy to the point that it was tear producing. I liked the dynamic between the good hero and the bad bad guy. Bernie is pretty stealthy and smart and Mr. Stein was creepy!

I also really liked that there was a balance of terror and humour, realistic events and child-like feautures to this book.

This was a fun read that I imagine middle-grade students and parents alike will both enjoy. I would definitely recommend it. You don’t have to be a child to have fun with it.

This review is based on a digital ARC from Netgalley and the publisher.

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Guest Post: Catalysts by Charles E Yallowitz

CatalystsBig thank you to Ionia for letting me post about my debut Horror novella.  I promise to clean up after myself and lock the door when I’m done.

Synopsis-

When trapped in an elevator together, Jeffrey and Darla learn that misery doesn’t always love company. With the screams of death and chaos echoing from outside, they find themselves slowly slipping into a world of fear and darkness they may never recover from. All the while, something is terrorizing the convention outside and turning the guests and celebrities into psychotic monsters.
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AVAILABLE ON AMAZON KINDLE FOR 99 CENTS!!!!!
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The inspiration for Catalysts is that I wanted to try another genre.  I’ve spent most of my life playing in the fantasy genre, so I set out to prove to myself and one annoying friend that I could step out of that comfort zone.  Supernatural horror came to mind because I use monsters in fantasy.  The difference is that I had to focus more on the mentality of the humans as they were hunted, killed, and driven to their breaking points.  Unlike fantasy adventures, every character felt like they needed to have fear in their actions and hearts.  Even those that are fighting back are doing so with the desperation to survive instead of heroic courage.  So, my main goal in this experiment was to bring across the terror of the characters.
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There is also Jeffrey and Darla who are stuck in the elevator.  While the people within the carnage are running in fear, these two are trapped within their own misery.  I went dark for them and will admit that I can to be careful about making myself depressed when writing their scenes.  The elevator scenes and the carnage scenes are aimed to contrast each other.  Jeffrey and Darla are slowly falling into their personal abyss and trying to retain their sanity.  The people on the outside are rushing around and trying to get out alive with very few moments to relax.  In fact, characters relaxing tend to be a sign that something is about to go wrong.
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Anyway, that’s the origin of this idea.  I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and hopefully everyone gets to reap the benefits of it.  If horror isn’t your thing then you can read an exciting fantasy adventure in LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE, each for 99 cents.
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Hopefully this meets with Ionia’s approval.  Don’t want her to get mad and throw me clear across a clearing.  (I made that writing mistake and I have to live with it, so I might as well own it.)

Townhouse by Brian Rowe

TownhouseTownhouse by Brian Rowe

Twenty-four-year-old Sara Crimson isn’t happy that she’s moving into a shady apartment complex with a man she barely knows. But after discovering she’s pregnant with her first child, she decides to try to make a relationship work with the baby daddy Max, an up-and-coming talent agent, who proposes marriage and asks her to move in with him. An aspiring novelist, Sara at first is elated with the additional free time she has to focus on her writing. But as the days turn to weeks, she starts to suspect that something peculiar is happening in the Executive Townhouses of North Hollywood, California. People start disappearing, strange noises echo down the corridor, and an old, creepy tenant finds his entertainment value in staring at her from afar. But what Sara doesn’t know is that the hidden horrors that lie inside the apartment complex are far worse than anything her overactive imagination could have ever conceived..

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So…all of you people who are really squeamish and can’t handle a little well placed decapitation and moral corruption might want to avoid this book. For the rest of you that enjoy a good horror story with characters that are a lot of fun and make you look over your own shoulder, this is one to pick up.

Here’s what I liked: Sarah, the main character is a brat. She really is, but she is a well written brat that makes you dislike her for her personality. When a character has enough personality that you can make a decision on whether or not you could be friends with them if they were in real life, the author must have done something right. She bugged the crap out of me. I like it.

I liked the way Brian Rowe approached horror in this book. Things didn’t happen right away, but the book wasn’t boring either. There were just enough hints given about what was yet to come to keep me turning pages. The dialogue was interesting and the internal thoughts of Sarah and Max often made me laugh. I appreciated that I was able to get to know the history of the characters before the rest of the events got started.

This book didn’t go the way I thought it would initially and it was this unexpected stuff that made me really end up enjoying it. There is a bit of gross, but not so much that it ruined the book for me. The author clearly has a handle on how to tell a good story and keep the attention of his reader.

What I loved a bit less:

There are a few editing booboos in this book, namely wrong word forms used and some sections that could have used a bit better editing. Still, as a whole, this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to others.

This review is based off of a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

*Also showing my Nevada pride here* the author is a UNR student:) Go Wolfpack!

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Blackwater Lights by Michael M. Hughes

Blackwater LightsBlackwater Lights by Michael M. Hughes

 

Michael M. Hughes’s Blackwater Lights combines the eldritch horror of H. P. Lovecraft with the supernatural thrills of Dean Koontz.

When Ray Simon receives a desperate call from his childhood friend Kevin, begging him to come visit, Ray can’t say no. Kevin promises to clue him in on shocking discoveries he has made about weird, half-forgotten events in their past—events associated with a summer camp near Kevin’s home in the small town of Blackwater, West Virginia.

But when Ray arrives, Kevin is nowhere to be found. So Ray does some investigating of his own, only to find that no records exist of the camp. Yet he is not alone in looking for information. There are Lily, a beautiful redhead with uncanny seductive powers; Crawford, a wealthy collector of art and people; and Micah, the mysterious leader of the Church of the Open Door. All of them are seeking information about the rumored camp. And they are all interested—very interested—in Ray.

Then a midnight encounter with strange floating lights sparks a return of old memories—vivid but fractured images that haunt Ray’s waking hours with intimations of terror and cruelty. Something dreadful happened at that camp long ago. Something was awakened there. Now, with the help of his new friend Ellen, a waitress at the local diner, Ray must navigate a path through madness and murder—a path that leads inexorably to an all-but-forgotten night in his childhood . . . and to a future of unimaginable horror.

“Disturbing, surreal, and spooky as hell, Blackwater Lights is a brilliantly written debut, marking Michael M. Hughes as a talent to watch.”
Tim Lebbon, author of Coldbrook and the Toxic City trilogy

“Blackwater Lights is a paranoid thrill-ride that deftly combines mystery, sci-fi, and horror elements into a modern-day conspiracy tale. An impressive debut that builds to a satisfying, action-filled conclusion.”
—Cemetery Dance magazine

“Blackwater Lights has action, adventure, sex, love, designer drugs, and violent death, all woven into a globe-spanning paranormal conspiracy. I mean, really, what’s not to like? Consider this my official request for a sequel.”
F. Paul Wilson, author of the Repairman Jack novels and The Adversary Cycle

“A harrowing and riveting thrill ride. Hughes is a welcome addition to the dark-fiction ranks.”
Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church(less)

ebook, 208 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Hydra
ISBN
0345548809 (ISBN13: 9780345548801)
edition language
English
setting

Blackwater, West Virginia (United States)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, this book is not going to be loved by all and I get that. I think you have to have a certain type of personality to really enjoy this book. If you like dark humour, are okay with things being just a bit twisted and some kinkiness doesn’t offend your senses too much, then you will likely enjoy this book. I certainly did.

So, right away–here is what I initially loved:

Ray is a great MC. He comes across as relatively innocent, he is a school teacher and isn’t setting out to look for trouble, rather just to seek answers to some events that happened to him long ago that he has not made peace with. His mysterious back story intrigued me and made me want to find out more.

As the story progressed, I began to get more interested in why the citizens of the town were acting so strange and who might or might not be involved with the cover-up of activity that was going on.

There are some very graphic scenes in this book, but they were handled well in my opinion and I thought it was all integral to the plot, so for me it wasn’t a problem. The main character has a certain charm about him that makes you want to support him. His attitude is good and gets him out of some tight situations.

I liked that the source of the lights stayed a mystery until nearly the end of the book and thought the ending was pretty action-packed and fantastic. I love it when you reach the end of a book and feel like all the build up to the final events was worth it.

Overall, this was a fun read with a lot going on and one that I would recommend to other horror genre lovers. I enjoyed that it was not the same thing that I have seen a hundred times before. Credit for great characters and originality. Michael M. Hughes is certainly an author to keep an eye on. I look forward to seeing where he goes next.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

the Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney

The Ghost PrisonThe Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney

This is the entrance to the Witch Well and behind that door you’d face your worst nightmare. Don’t ever go through there.’

Night falls, the portcullis rises in the moonlight, and young Billy starts his first night as a prison guard. But this is no ordinary prison. There are haunted cells that can’t be used, whispers and cries in the night… and the dreaded Witch Well. Billy is warned to stay away from the prisoner down in the Witch Well. But who could it be? What prisoner could be so frightening? Billy is about to find out…

An unforgettable ghost story from the creator of the Wardstone Chronicles (Spook’s Apprentice) series.

Illustrated throughout by the incredible Scott M Fischer, this beautifully produced book will make the perfect Halloween gift.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a rather spooky, very fun and suspenseful novella for children. I would say the best age group for this book would be between 8-12, but that may also depend on the maturity and reading ability of your child. If I am very honest about it–I had a lot of fun with this book, too.

The illustrations are great and the longer you look at them, the more things you notice about how detailed the pictures actually are. I enjoyed the fact that the pictures really do help tell the story. When something is described in the book, you can see it reflected in the illustrations. Obviously the illustrator paid careful attention to the content of the book, which was a nice change.

The story itself revolves around one night and a young man who has become a prison guard for a castle-like prison, complete with ghosts. His adventures will make you want to keep turning pages. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that it was over so soon. It was just too much fun.

There is a surprise ending that is different from other children’s books and made me smile. I would definitely recommend this book to all the junior horror fans out there.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

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When the PapiZ says Post, we post…

You asked for it. Here it is. An IM/CY production in honour of out good friend Papizilla and Friday the 13th. You can see the challenge he has set forth here: http://theliterarysyndicate.com/2013/09/13/papi-prompts-2/

Hey, Charles?

Yes, Ionia?

I’m bored.

Uh oh….
Ionia: It was a dark and stormy night

Charles: When Papi the Pixie’s hummingbird took flight

Ionia: It gave the other Pixies a terrible fright

Charles: They thought he wasn’t very bright

Ionia: Then Charles swooped in to save the day

Charles: He kept the thirteen monsters at bay

Ionia: Friday the thirteenth, is what you say?

Charles: A phrase that fills all with dismay

Ionia: Bigfoot showed up and frightened Jason off

Charles: Then turned at the sound of Sahm’s cough

Ionia: I thought I saw a streak go by

Charles: Screaming that it did not want to die

Ionia: We do this and I wonder why?

Charles: Because it gives us such a high

Ionia: Plus I’d rather do this than write

Charles: I should be editing a scene with a drite

Ionia: Oh my…that just isn’t right….

Charles: Should I have tried to fly a kite?

Ionia: So…I wonder who is under the mask?

Charles: You would think one of his victims would ask

Ionia: Maybe if I just say please…

Charles: He won’t hack us at the knees

Ionia:I pull of the mask to reveal…
cookie monster? eating cookies?

An homage to Friday the 13th

On this special Friday when the dreams of murderers come true
I shall share an opinion on why horror films make me say WOOHOO!

Let’s hear it for the dumb chicks, running in high heels!
Take a moment to congratulate them on those soprano squeals.

The evil guy that never dies no matter what you seem to do
stabbing,shooting, running down or even running through

The smart guy who always says “I know who he is and why he does it!”
But never checks behind him before standing in front of the closet!

The second round of victims, college kids drunk and having sex
surprised they didn’t hear him rushing toward them like T-rex

The creepy chiller music, the base rattling your butt
then silence–something about to happen….

but you don’t know what….

That moment when you have to pee but refuse to leave the room
wondering why you do this at night and fearing your own doom

So here is my homage, to the psycho with the ax, that guy with the fingernails
and those two with the masks.

You make my world a better place, each 13th and Hallow’s Eve
I’m the only horror lover here, so everyone else leaves.

I hog all the popcorn, I get the beer for me, I polish my ax and my mask
enjoy a flick to get some ideas then set out on my task…..

Happy Friday the 13th EVERYONE! Don’t forget to look behind you….

An Interview with David Hudnut, Author of ‘Night Walk’

 Today I am happy to welcome author David Hudnut to Readful Things. I recently read a horror novel by this man, and he certainly knows what he is doing! His most recent work and first full length novel, Night Walk is available now. You can find a link for it at the bottom of this page. David has a very unique writing style that will leave you at the edge of your seat!

TERROR WALKS AT NIGHT…
Like any cookie-cutter suburban family you know, the Wistfells appear fresh from the oven with their Tic-Tac smiles and formica hair styles. On the inside, beneath their Sears Family Portrait exterior, lies a pitch black heritage. The Wistfell family knows a thing or two about the Devil’s business. They also know how to hide their dark secrets, just like every other Joe and Jane American. They put on the same masks we all do every time we go out to meet the world.
Rob Wistfell, his wife Amelia, and their four-year-old daughter Eva are all set to enjoy the weekend. But a run-in with a menacing bunch of locals over a parking space sets off a disastrous chain reaction. No matter where the Wistfell family goes, trouble follows.
Rob and Amelia don’t realize that their daughter Eva has blossoming telepathic powers and she’s messing with people’s heads.
THEY ARE BEING HUNTED…
When the Wistfell family accidentally crosses paths with two thugs bent on murderous destruction, they will face the toughest struggle of their entire lives…

You can see my review of Night Walk here

Please tell us a bit about yourself

 Well, I like traveling, candle-lit dinners and walks on the beach, and um, oh wait…that’s my Match.com profile. Sorry. I’ll try to stick to the pertinent information. Let’s see…I used to obsessively build recreations of the vehicles from the movie Road Warrior out of LEGOs, I prefer first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons over all the new crap, and I think the hedge-maze scene at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is one of the greatest and creepiest moments in cinematic history.

 

 You have a lot of varied interests. You are an author, an artist/illustrator and a musician, how do you find the time to do all of these things?

 Besides using my time machine every night to travel backwards by four hours, I do it the usual way: I have no life. Well, not in the traditional sense. I work, work, work. Some people aim for day-to-day balance in their lives. I shoot for long-term balance. I’m making up for the vast laziness of my youth by spending all my spare time as an adult engaged in creative activities.

 

 I love the horror genre, but feel in some ways it has lost the terror factor it used to have. What do you think about this?

 In my opinion, a lot of the new horror books (and movies) should be called Gorror. In literature, people call it “Splatterpunk” but that always makes me think of Cyberpunk characters falling off of tall buildings and smashing to their deaths on the pavement below. Splatterpunk equals frequent eviscerations and enough blood to fill a swimming pool. I’m not a fan of the Splatterpunk genre, but I can’t deny the enjoyment that a very vocal readership takes from such books and movies. For me, there’s too much calculated sadism. Too much of that serial-killer thing of “I’m going to kidnap you and torture you and keep you as my sex-slave until I murder you.” For that reason, I’ve been telling people my novel Night Walk is a paranormal thriller. Horror no longer means Stephen King-style books. It means the “Saw” movie franchise.

When I think about your term “terror factor” and terror in general, I think of the ANTICIPATION of violence. Coincidentally, I just watched the film “Return To Oz” last night, and it has plenty of terror in it. Before Dorothy goes back to Oz, her Aunt & Uncle send her to a modern (as in 1899) brain doctor because Dorothy has been unable to sleep through the night since returning from Oz. The brain doctor shows off his electro-shock machine to Dorothy as if it were nothing more than a wonderful marvel of modern medicine that will “fix” her sleeping troubles and make her all better. Dorothy’s Aunt is 100% on board with the idea. The doctor shows Dorothy how the machine, with its dials and knobs, resembles a smiling face. I was seriously CREEPED out by this scene. And it’s in a G-rated Disney movie! THAT is what I call terror. And no serial killers or blood.

 

 What first inspired you to start writing?

 A creepy Halloween mask I saw at Gemco as a grade-schooler. (Anyone out there remember Gemco? For the youngins who don’t, imagine old-school Target or Walmart, but with a snazzy membership card (like Costco, but free.))

The Halloween mask was this scary evil clown with flaming orange hair, beady green eyes, and ghastly purple lips. A few days later, my grade-school teacher asked everyone in class to write a short story for Halloween. Perfect timing! I was all fired up about that mask, and wanted to capture in words the feelings it had evoked in me. I wrote a story, but it didn’t recreate the spirit I’d hoped for. My writing firefly died off for awhile, but flared up again some years later when I read “On A Pale Horse” by Piers Anthony. That book drove me to bang out a number of story fragments on my dad’s neglected electric typewriter, but I was too young and impatient to finish anything. Then Stephen King barged into my life. Reading “Salem’s Lot” enhanced my nightmare night-life significantly. That novel has a magic that made me want to be a writer, no matter what it took. I had read mainly fantasy up to that point, but Stephen King combined the real world I lived in with the otherworldly quality I loved about fantasy, a powerful combination. I instantly became Stephen King’s number one fan, and would have gladly chopped off his feet in exchange for his story-telling talents.

 

Who are some of your favourite authors, musicians and influences?

 the-Hudnut-Imp-2012-05-05

 

Of course Stephen King, who I’m pretty certain made a deal with the devil to gain his writing talents. Metallica (who obviously sold their souls for rock ‘n’ roll). And the movies of Clive Barker (and to a lesser degree his books). Hellraiser did a very important thing for the horror movie genre: it added an element of fantasy. In Hellraiser, Frank and Kirsty literally open a gateway to another dimension with the puzzle box, allowing Pinhead and the Cenobites show up. That blew my teenaged mind. I hate to spoil the terror here, but don’t you think “Pinhead and the Cenobites” sounds like the name of a bar band in the bar scene in Star Wars?

“Now Playing at Mos Eisley Space Port:

PINHEAD & HIS CENOBITES!!

Fridays and Saturdays.

No Kids.”

 

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing and do you feel you are getting there?

 Pay for my retirement.

No.

Check back with me in five years on that one. :-)

But seriously, entertain people with my stories by stirring up their emotions. I want my readers to laugh, cry, shout, bite their nails, stay up all night reading, then sleep only during the daytime because my books are so scary. Hopefully, some small number of people will find my novel Night Walk entertaining enough to tell a friend. And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell…you get the idea.

 What advice about marketing can you offer to other authors?

 I can best articulate my thoughts on my experiences thus far with the following cartoon strip:

 

In a word: persistence.

A good friend of mine works in high-tech marketing. He reads a lot of how-to marketing books by people who are success stories in a range of business categories. His observation is that most people who have freaky overnight success don’t really know how they got there (even though they think they do and want to sell you their method), or have had a unique and unrepeatable journey to instant riches. Often, the groundwork to such riches takes years of work that no one ever hears about.  Think Amanda Hocking, and Hugh Howey. Both wrote a lot of books over a number of years before BLAM! They suddenly started raking in cash. There are of course exceptions like Colleen Hoover.

There’s three aspects to marketing I think about constantly:

1. Hard Work

For most of us, it all boils down to hard work, constant experimentation, and a critical analysis of your methods. You can’t just throw money and time at marketing. You have to asses what works and what doesn’t. This is the scientific aspect of marketing.  A simple example: I spend $100 on an internet banner ad that will run for one month. At the end of the month, have I made at least $101 in profit? If the answer is no, you need to adjust. This serves up the canned worms of a bigger discussion of course, one I’m dealing with right now. Is there a minimum amount of money that must be spent on ads for them to have any effect? For example, must one spend at least $2,000 (or $5,000 or whatever) on banner ads to see a 1% profit (e.g. $2,020 or $5,050) in sales? I don’t yet have the answers to that, but I’m sure entire departments at the Big 6 talk about this all day long.

2. Strategizing

From the first day I told my good friend in high-tech marketing that I was working on my first novel, he said “Start developing your marketing plan NOW. Better yet, before you write your book, you need to figure out WHO YOUR TARGET MARKET IS.” I, of course, ignored him. I knew who my target market was: Me, and all Stephen King fans. Ha. Ha. Ha. I laugh at myself now. Such a target market is far too broad. At the time, my logic seemed impenetrable, and focusing on writing an entire book was more than enough of a challenge. But you can bet as I write my second novel, I’m thinking about my target market in very specific terms the entire time. Who reads books like mine? How and where do they discover new books? Where do they actually buy them? Where and when can I place ads that I can actually afford, and my potential readers will see them?

3. Pre-planning

I don’t know to what degree Amanda Hocking was thinking “I’m going to go after Stephanie Meyer’s market with my own series of Vampire books two years after Breaking Dawn’s release, while her fans are clamoring for more, AND ebooks take off.” But that’s what happened. I know Hocking has mentioned how much time she puts into marketing. I also know that quite a few Amazon reviewers describe her books as being highly derivative of Twilight. With Hugh Howey, I wonder: did he want to write more light sci-fi/space opera like his Molly Fyde books? Or did the blow-up success of “The Hunger Games” shift his writing focus to post-apocalyptic dystopia?

I think it’s safe to say that, yes, you can chase trends and perhaps be successful. But there’s no guarantee. You have to ask yourself: do you WANT to chase trends over the long term? I recently watched Howard Stern’s 2011 interview with Lars Ulrich, the drummer from Metallica. Stern emphasized the fact that Metallica has always done things their way. Having followed the band’s career from the early days, I can attest to that. They were not mega-stars for a LONG time. While I’d like to be rolling in self-published riches like Hugh Howey, there’s no guarantee that trend-chasing will get me there. So I’m sticking to my guns. Bang, bang.

 Tell us about some of your other projects besides writing.

 Well, for the metal-head inside all of us, I’m working on recording my first solo album, titled “HateBall.” I’ve got two tracks finished and posted on Youtube. A bunch of other tracks are in various stages of recording and mastering. With any luck, the album will be finished by the end of 2013.

I’m also in the process of finally putting together some art books. I’ve got mountains of art that have never seen the light of day, plus some dusty old work I did for Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and some now-defunct Wizards of the Coast game lines. Anybody remember Hecatomb or Dreamblade?

 

 

 How do you deal with negative reviews of your work?

 I tend toward the classic Kübler-Ross model of “The Five Stages of Grief.” First, denial. I tell myself that reviewers don’t know what they’re talking about. Second, anger. I call all of my friends and rant about how reviewers miss the point and that reviewers don’t GET me. My friends respond by telling me I’m awesome. Third, bargaining. I convince myself I must change my work to address ALL reviewer complaints, so that the reviewers will also tell me how awesome I am. Fourth, depression. I cry a lot in private. When the tears are gone, I realize that maybe there’s something to the criticisms. Fifth, acceptance. I look at the reviews as objectively as possible to see what I can take from them to improve my work. Every criticism, no matter how seemingly negative, usually contains something valid and relevant. I’m grateful for those.

In some cases, bad reviews are truly not relevant. As I’ve said in the past, never hand a Tom Clancy novel to a Danielle Steel fan and expect a positive–or even constructive–review. Scathing reviews of this nature can safely be ignored. On the flip side, I’ve learned that if you give a reader a story within their preferred genre (e.g. your early draft of a techno-thriller to a Tom Clancy fan), readers will forgive all manner of problems: typos, poorly constructed sentences, even lackluster plots AS LONG AS IT’S THE RIGHT STORY. You know the type: die-hard romance fans, fantasy fans, zombie fans, etc. They want their genre. Period. Give zombie fans a story with guns, knives and human-on-zombie violence, and those fans will be happier than pigs in zombie sh–! Ah, I mean refuse. Pigs in zombie REFUSE. That poses an interesting question: since zombies eat, do zombies sh–! I mean, do zombies, you know, digest? And does that mean they take zombie dumps? Do zombies use toilet paper? Or not wipe at all?

If a zombie sh!ts in the woods, does anybody hear it? Or clean it up? Do the bears clean it up? Does it turn the bears into zombie bears? Do zombie bears eat human zombies? Or only regular bears? Is there cross species zombie violence?

 

What are your plans for the near future? Any more books yet to come?

 Aside from World Domination? Marketing, marketing, marketing. And yes, working on my next novel, which I’m well into. I will say only that it’s not a post-apocalyptic dystopian YA thriller and has no zombies in it. Crap, there went half my fan base. But it does have demons. Lots of them. Grab your holy water and crucifix!

 

 Anything else you would like to say to your fans, about life in general etc. 

 First and foremost, thank you to everyone who has supported my art, books, and music over the years. As many of the writers who visit your blog know, we often work in a vacuum while sweating over our creative works of love. Until we release our art out into the world for others to experience, it can be a lonely business. Knowing that there are people out there who actually look forward to our efforts makes it much easier to tolerate the lonely journey. Thank you to all of you guys.

And thank you, Ionia, for hosting my book and interview. You are a Woman amongst Women.

NIGHT WALK, the novel, by David Hudnut

http://www.amazon.com/NIGHT-WALK-ebook/dp/B0089E40B4

The art of David Hudnut

https://www.hudnutart.com/

Songs from the album HateBall by David Hudnut

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23Q3GvwxMwQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QkyQeP__sc

The bloggy shenanigans of David Hudnut

http://davidhudnut.blogspot.com/

Thank you David for the interview! Enjoyed having you on the blog:)