Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dark Screams: Volume 5

Title: Dark Screams: Volume Five
Editors: Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar
Writers: J. Kenner, Bentley Little, and Mick Garris
Genre: Horror / Paranormal Fantasy / Paranormal Romance

Mick Garris, J. Kenner, Kealan Patrick Burke, Del James, and Bentley Little pry open a sarcophagus of horror and dread in Dark Screams: Volume Five, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the esteemed Cemetery Dance Publications.

It was supposed to be the night of his life: a celebration of his one hit slasher flick. But the price of admission is higher than this has-been filmmaker ever could have imagined.

When he was seven, Will Underwood’s nanny told him she had the Sight. Years later, a broken heart sends him to New Orleans . . . but it’s fate that leads him to Madame Darkling’s Voodoo Emporium.

THE LAND OF SUNSHINE by Kealan Patrick Burke
Although she was mute long before the affair that nearly wrecked their marriage, her silence has tortured her husband ever since. Now he will seek out what he has lost—or be driven mad by remorse.

Arnold loves his ’68 Camaro almost as much as he loves his wife, and he’s willing to do anything to protect them both—especially after hearing strange noises coming from his garage.

THE PLAYHOUSE by Bentley Little
A real-estate agent is drawn into a children’s playhouse behind an abandoned property she’s trying to sell—and finds herself strangely reluctant to leave.


From "Everything You’ve Always Wanted” by Mike Garris"

It had been a long time since I’d flown first class, and I must admit that I’d missed it. But here I was, winging across a vast, arid, flyover America, bound for the bustling metropolis that was Indianapolis, wondering which came first in the English lexicon: metropolis or Indianapolis. Surely the former. I’d have to remember to Google it when I was back within Internet range.

I had never been to Indianapolis before, and for that matter, don’t think I know anyone who has. Is there a reason to visit there? Other than as a special guest at the annual MonsterThon convention, of course, which was the crown of thorns I wore this particular moribund weekend. Leaving L.A. before the landlord came sniffing around for his filthy lucre was always a good idea, and to have travel and accommodations paid for—and in first class, no less!—by a third party put the emphasis on the party.

Some time ago, I had made a little independent film, one that maybe even you have heard of (let me virtually buff my fingernails on my shirt and let them gleam in the sin of pride). Taxed was one of those exceedingly rare little horror thrillers that could have happened only before the end of the twentieth century: It cost about $400,000, was filmed with an unknown cast in Florida, got picked up and released on five hundred screens by New Century Millennial, and somehow earned a box-office gross of more than $12 million (well, that’s $12 million that New Century Millennial would admit to, so I’d bet you could add at least fifty percent and be closer to the actual gross).

Taxed was crude, I’ll admit it, but that worked for the story, which was a hillbilly horror tale of rural cannibals who excelled at human taxidermy, and it owed huge debts to Tobe Hooper, Alfred Hitchcock, and Wes Craven (the movie, not the cannibals, though I suppose they did, too). But I think it was the Shakespeare references that I had injected—and expounded on in every interview—that gave it an air of respectability in the mainstream press.

Of course, the horror genre, particularly at that time, has always been a gutter in the eyes of the tastemakers in America. But if you can bandy about Lady Macbeth and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as well as DalĂ­ and GaudĂ­, and at least have a passing knowledge of a cultural past, the pretenders of critical mass will take in your bullshit and look for Deeper Meaning and embrace your little cinematic masterpiece and give it attention.

The Taxed reviews weren’t all good, but the fact that it was taken seriously enough to review at all was quite an accomplishment, so our audience went beyond the bloodthirsty gorehound Fangoria subscribers and the multiplex subbasement and into the arthouse sensibility as well. We had that rare crossover horror hit. Well, if you can call twelve million bucks a hit, and New Century Millennial did, repeatedly.

It did even better on video.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Special Announcements!

October is one of my favorite months. NY Comic Con is in a couple of weeks. The weather's not too hot or too cold. The leaves change colors. More importantly, it's a whole month for celebrating horror. I have some fun things planned for you.

You probably noticed that new image near the top of the sidebar.
I'm starting a newsletter! Took me 3 days to get the confirmation email and the reward right. Sign up and you'll get the first 3 chapters of Chains of the Sciell. You'll also get scans of handwritten notes that helped make this story. Find more info about the newsletter HERE or by clicking the image in the sidebar.

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you've probably noticed the ever changing header. I'm not doing that on purpose. I simply can't stop designing. I decided to have some fun with it. Each month, this blog and my social networks, will have a themed header. Here's s sneak peek of October's header.

October Release
Building Dark Worlds: A World Building Guide is being released October 27. It'll be available for pre-orders soon.

Story and a Giveaway!
I'll be running my first giveaway on this blog. It's the first time I'm using Rafflecopter. I'm looking forward to it. Here's a sneak peek of the giveaway prize.
The giveaway will run 10/5-10/26 along side a Choose Your Own Adventure horror story. I'll be posting a horror/dark fantasy story series on this blog every Monday in October. You get to vote on what happens next in the story!

Virtual Book Tour Host
I'm a tour host for Enchanted Book and Goddess Fish Promotion. Every Wednesday, I'll feature books or a guest post. Occasionally, I'll publish these promotional posts on days other than Wednesday if it's a book/author I'm really interested in. If you want to write a guest post of have your book featured on my blog, email me at audendjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com!

-Update- Virtual FantasyCon

I'm participating in Virtual FantasyCon!!!
"Flavour of Fantasy is an online group and collective. We’re hosting the first ever Virtual (online) FantasyCon. It will be held online in a Facebook Event on November 1-8, 2015.
There will also be panel discussions via YouTube, a Scavenger Hunt, Giveaways, and a Cosplayer Costume Contest with a daily prize for the best selfie and costume and a grand prize."
I'm speaking on a panel about creating magic systems! Follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page to keep up-to-date on this event.

 Nov 1- Sci-Fi Sunday
Nov 2- Paranormal Monday
No 3- Dark Tuesday (I'm participating on this day)
Nov 4- Epic Wednesday
Nov 6- Urban Friday

And More
I have some special posts prepared for Instagram and Tumblr.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Week in Links 9/25/15 Prometheus, Oculus, Reading Reviews

Book Marketing and Branding
Your Top-to-Bottom Email Checklist: What to Include Before You Hit Send
How to Build a Periscope Audience for Your Business

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Guest Post | 5 Reasons to Write by Val McMurray

  1. When I am writing anything, an article, short story or chapter of a book, I lose myself in the process. I often think that I will just write for an hour, four hours later I stop and wonder where the time went! I enjoy it and it makes the day pass. 

  2.  I belong to a writers group and each of us must present a piece every week. It is the spur that goads us on. Criticism is necessary and helpful but it is given with a genuine desire to instruct and not to dampen the writer’s spirit.

  3. An idea will go round and round in my head and give me no peace until I have written it down. Once written it may be discarded in the next few days, as rubbish, or I may review it and think it has possibilities. Whichever I decide, it has stopped disturbing my sleep!

  4. Our writers group can become a bit serious or nostalgic as people reminisce about their early life in another country, so I often try to write a light hearted piece to make everyone smile. It may not be great literature but it is fun.

  5. Writing must be enjoyable. It is for me, and if a piece of mine is printed in our very professional and colourful magazine, Freexpression, ( I am very happy. I know pride is a sin but just to be a little bit chuffed, is not too awful, is it?

Title: Halloween Fires
Author: Val McMurray
Genre: Historical / Supernatural Thriller

The time: 1340

The place: Swan village, the estate of Sir Hubert Longhurst, on the banks of the River

Severn, and the city of Bristol in the south west of England.

The story:
On All Hallows Eve, a satanic mass is held in the forest across the river Severn.

A girl is sacrificed and a young boatman dies.

A suspicious priest, Father Simon, the Sheriff of

Bristol and three Dominican Monks hunt the “Satanists”.

Their evil leader is the Dominus.

The Dominus is quite mad and plans revenge. The villagers will suffer.

In Bristol devil worshippers are tortured and burned.

The Dominus murders his partner and kidnaps a girl.

A black mass takes place. There is torture and death.

A battle is fought.

The Dominus flees.

The Lord of the manor holds a Manor Court to investigate the frightening events. Prisoners must be taken to Bristol for trial by the church.

They, and a rich treasure, must be escorted to Bristol.

Satanists in Bristol, plan to fight for the treasure.

There is a battle on the road. Many are killed, the treasure is lost.

A blacksmith and a small boy assist the Sheriff in an attempt to regain it.

Perhaps Evil has been overcome; however, Devil worshippers in Bristol plan another mass.

The Sheriff is lured away.

In the Glade of Stones the Devil may yet triumph.

As a child in England I loved to write stories. I have lived in Sydney Australia for over forty years. My children and grandchildren live close by. I worked as a trained nurse until retirement. Sadly, then, my husband needed nursing. Now I live alone and needed to follow my own interests. 

First a Book Club (all writers need to read), and I love it. Our discussions are lively and I have read many books that I would never have picked but for the club. It really widened my horizons. I also joined a Writers Group in Liverpool and have found great enjoyment and satisfaction in learning from the very different people in the group. I have been pleased to see several of my articles in print.

We contribute to Freexpression Magazine (, which is edited by Peter Pike. His unfailing encouragement and that of Michael Norris, who read the first draft of this book (and believed in it) has been the impetus needed to goad me to finish it. 

The research was daunting, but I have always been interested in history, and I soon became immersed in the 14th century. How the people lived and their deeply felt superstitions and customs held me enthralled. There are, inevitably, mistakes. Please forgive them. I set out to write a rollicking good yarn, set in the south west of England, I hope that you enjoy it.
Follow the Tour

It you want to write a guest post or have your book featured on my blog email me at audendjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cover Reveal: Girl of Myth and Legend


Title: Girl of Myth and Legend
Author: Giselle Simlett
Genre: Fantasy / Romance

A girl with a past she tries to forget, and a future she can’t even imagine.

Leonie Woodville wants to live an unremarkable life. She wants routine, she wants repetition, she wants predictability. So when she explodes in a blaze of light one morning on the way to her college, it’s enough to put a real crimp in her day.

And things only get weirder…

Leonie learns from her father that she is last of the Pulsar, a phenomenally powerful member of a magical species called the Chosen. It will be her sole duty to protect the Imperium, a governing hierarchy, from all enemies, and to exceed the reputation of the Pulsar before her. So – no pressure there, then.

Leonie is swept away from her rigorous normality and taken to a world of magic. There, she is forced into a ceremony to join her soul to a guardian, Korren, who is both incredibly handsome and intensely troubled, a relationship for which ‘it’s complicated’ just really doesn’t cut it.

But Leonie is soon to learn that this ancient world is no paradise. With violent dissidents intent to overthrow the Imperium, and dark entities with their own agenda, she and Korren find themselves caught in a war where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to survive.

Dare to dream. Dare to hope. Dare to be a legend.

Book One in The Chosen Saga.

Giselle Simlett was born and raised in England. She has studied Creative Writing at both Gloucestershire University and the Open University. She has a diploma in Creative Writing, Language and Literature and will soon complete her BA Hons Open Degree.

She does not as yet have a degree in the power and responsible use of magic, but she does have a young son, which amounts to the same thing. She currently lives in Australia with her husband and son.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Week in Links 9/18/15 Harry Potter, Pub. Industry Outlook, Woman & Comics

Book Branding and Marketing
How To Write Your Book Sales Description With Bryan Cohen
Social Media Marketing Is Backwards: Strategy Vs. Tactics
Do Ebooks Earn More Money at Lower Prices?

10 Best Stephen King Film Adaptations
Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated Edition
Top 10 Horror Movie Masks
10 Amazing, Complex Girls and Women from Across Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Writing, Publishing and Bookishness
The State of the Publishing Industry in 5 Charts
The Math and Music of Multiple Characters
Batman confronts police racism in latest comic book

Did you read any memorable articles this week?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

You Can Write Too: Diversity in Fiction

Some people just don't seem to understand why diversity in fiction is so important. They really just don't get it and it's kind of frustrating.

One of my favorite arguments- the story is set in medieval times, you didn't find a lot of diversity during that period.

You do know you're writing fantasy, right? From what I understand, the medieval times portrayed in fantasy isn't all that historically accurate in the first place.

See, frustrating.

I talked about this before. As a kid, I loved, loved, horror and I've always been a writer. The only African American authors I came across were those who wrote "urban" books like The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah and Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree.

I assumed those were the only types of books I could write. They're interesting stories but I didn't want to write urban fiction. I wanted to write horror.

I thought I could only get published if I wrote those kinds of books.

Then, my mom gave me Brandon Massey and it was like the gates were thrown open. I researched African American horror writers and found a ton of them. I felt I could not only write but publish horror.

Until recently, I figured the lack of diversity and being stereotyped in the media would be something I'd have to live with. It was life. It was normal.

Then came dozens of articles and panels about the need for diversity in fiction and the We Need Diverse Books movement.

I was like, "Oh, so this doesn't have to be normal."

Not seeing yourself in the media does some damage to your self-esteem. I used to hate my hair and skin color. As I kid, I dreamed of having lighter skin and long, straight hair.

I don't think my story is that unique. I think that's one of the reasons you don't see many books with characters of color and more POC writing speculative fiction. We assume we don't belong in this industry/genre.

Don't assume you can't write anything. If you want to read a story and no one's writing it, you write it. Some people say "write for the market" if you want to make money off of your books. No one knew series like Harry Potter and Twilight would be mega-popular until they became popular.

One day, we'll have a POC writing non-issue books, genre fiction, who has a success story like Rowling's.

It's not just about POC. We need more diversity in books.

Why YA fiction needs to embrace disability
Why is There Not More Diversity in Young Adult Fiction?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Motivation: Writing Quotes

Finish writing a book is a proud moment. Publishing it is even more amazing. But, publishing can sometimes drag you away from why you started writing in the first place. I write mostly because I can't stop. I publish because books helped me. I want to pay it forward.

On the other hand, I want to make some money from my books. Money won over passion. A string of bad reviews and I was wondering why I bothered writing in the first place. Not the first time I wanted to give up. Probably won't be the last. For those published authors, you know it never, never, goes the way you planned.

Here are some quotes to help when need a boost.

What's your go to quote when you need some inspiration?

Feel free to grab these images to put on your site/blog or share on social media. You can download more from my DeviantART Gallery.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Week in Links 9/11/15 Tiny Libraries, S.H.I.E.LD. Promo, Magical Powers

Book Marketing and Branding
9 Ways to Improve Your Pinterest Marketing

Editing Mistakes: How Forgiving of a Reader Are You?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Leveling Up Your Character's Magic Skills Part 2

In Part 1, we covered the different ways your character's power can grow. Let's dive deeper into that. What does leveling up look like. It's the same as trying to figure out what your child character will be like when they're an adult later in the book or series.

So many factors contribute to the growth. It's different for every character, every book.

We'll use one of my characters from Chains of the Sciell. Most have explosive powers. Blea Carlton's abilities are quieter. The power in my Merging World series is energy from Darkness. The characters pull the energy inside themselves and use their bodies to change it into something else. The power sharpens all five senses.

Blae favors creating tennis ball sized energy bombs. His real gift is his power of observation and his strategic mind, which he inherited from his father. He's an excellent judge of character. Nothing escapes his senses. Blae has a devious side which people tend to forget about because he's so mild-tempered. He enjoys emotionally strangling people with their own weakness.

Let's put him in a scenario mentioned in Part 1. The Boss Battle. Blae's fighting a powerful opponent. He's throwing bombs. They're having no effect.

What now? He loses, he dies.

He could make the bombs larger. However, he's fighting in an underground cave. Also, larger
bombs mean using more energy. He'd run out of power faster. Blae never goes for the nuclear option. It's not his personality.

By now, he's been battling long enough to know the enemy's fighting style and the battlefield's layout. The enemy is powerful, yet slow. Blae's amazing at dodging attacks and taunting his opponents to make them angry and stupid.

Instead of attacking head on, Blae places a bomb trap around the cavern and pushes the enemy into it. He varies the depth of each bomb to throw off the enemy's footing. His trap could either drop his opponent down some deep hole or crush them under a pile of rocks. His power plus his sharp mind lets him know of any hidden chambers.

Leveling up Blae depended on:
  • The scenario (Boss Battle)
  • The battlefield (underground cavern)
  • His current abilities (his power)
  • His personality
  • His strengths 
  • The opponent 
  • The power system
This battle would've turned out differently if Blae was fighting a rock monster. Another character in the same situation would've gone for using more power. It might've worked for them. 

It's similar to voice. How each character reacts to the same thing will be different. 

Becoming more powerful isn't just about this:

Though that can be awesome! One of my characters does quite of bit of that :) Leveling up is about a character getting closer to understanding their limits and their power. It can mean endurance, faster casting, being able to hold more power...

Now, say you want to evolve your magic system, which would lead to your characters leveling up.

In my series, the power evolved between Books 1 and 2 to protect the users from an increasingly dangerous world. The characters can now see a person's aura. If they study auras, they'll know when someone or something means them harm.

The world becomes so much worse between Books 3 and 4. Logically, the power would change again.

The Problem: Darkness has taken over the world. It feeds on negative emotion and traumatic past experiences. It makes people relive the worst days of their lives.
The Current Situation: People with powers have a "natural" defense against outside manipulation, but Books 2 and 3 show the defense can be broken far too easily.
Option 1: The power transforms the physical body to make it more suited to live in this new world (It's done that before).
Option 2: Most people with power have a core, an untouchable light within. This core could grow stronger to fight the Darkness. What about those without a core?
Option 3: The power is alive inside the body. It can taste this dangerous Darkness and strengthen the person's defenses against it. And we have a winner!!

Amazing how complicated and fascinating magic systems are!
If you have problem in your world building you can't solve, consider turning it into a blog post. It forces me to face the problem and look at it objectively. You'll be helping someone else.

Share a character or magic system you leveled up!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Final Summer Inspiration

*Sigh*. Summer's over. Well, not over officially but most of us see Labor Day as the end of summer. At least that killer cold doesn't hit until November, for New York anyway. Fall is beautiful. All is not lost. Got some great pics this summer!

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Week in Links 9/4/15 Censorship, Social Media Changes, Audiobooks

Social Media Changes Authors Need to Know
Curating Links and Scheduling Them
What We Need to Make a Good Author Marketing Platform

Fantasy/Sci-Fi/ Horror
Wes Craven, man behind 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Scream,' dies at 76
World Builders — Fantasy Author Randy Ellefson (Interview)
In the exploration of vast universes, where is the rest of our planet?
“On Worldbuilding (Food, in Particular)” by Adam Rakunas

Writng, Publishing and Bookishness
Literary Tourism: Sherlock Holmes
Raising Dion: Comic Book About a Single Black Mother Raising a Superpowered Son Is a Must-Read

Did you read any informative, entertaining, annoying- memorable-articles this week?
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