Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jagger and another kind of Horrorhound

Here we are, in March. That's important for many reasons. First of all--my son turned twelve last week. He's growing so fast!

Second, I had a new book released this month. JAGGER, from Sinister Grin Press. This is my second book through SGP, the first being JACKPOT, which was cowritten by David Bernstein, Shane McKenzie, and Adam Cesare. The idea for JAGGER was something that had been bouncing around my head for a few years now, and I'm very happy with how it turned out. Sure, it gets a bit tough in parts, but overall, I had a fun time writing it. This was a book that poured out of me, and I'm pleased to share it with the world.

To buy, click HERE! The Kindle version is .99 for just a short while longer. Also available in paperback.

My final reason that March is significant is I will be making my third appearance at Horrorhound in Cincinnati, Ohio. Always a good time, and this year should be no different. I'll be there signing books at the Samhain Publishing table with some fellow Samhain scribes. If that's not enough, there'll also be a lot of Horror celebrities and a few The Walking Dead cast members.

AND if that's still not enough, Tom Atkins will be there. TOM ATKINS!

To see the full guest list, click HERE!

Two weeks ago I was interviewed by the Horrific Podcast. The show should air soon. I'll be sure to post links when it goes live.

I hope to see as many of you as possible this weekend.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Haunchy far.

The Lurking Season

Available now! The sequel to THE LURKERS!

The legends were true. The creatures were real. And now they’re back!

People have whispered about the tiny humanoid creatures in the woods and cornfields of Doverton for decades. Three years ago a wildfire devoured much of the rural village, but as the ashes were cleared, more questions were uncovered—including abandoned houses, missing people and dead bodies. Since the fire seemed to wipe out the majority of the town’s woodland acres, the murmurs about the creatures have gone quiet. The residents have begun to rebuild their lives, trying to forget about the tragedy that nearly killed them all. Yet the mysteries remained unsolved.

Now a group of people will go there with good intentions, venturing into the dead heart of Doverton, thinking it’s safe. But they will find out that the legend was only sleeping. Now it’s awake. And ready to kill again.

Purchase the Kindle version or paperback here!
For Nook !

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I first became acquainted with Russell James through Facebook. He sent me a wonderful email, introducing himself. His debut novel, DARK INSPIRATION was going to be released soon. In the email, he told me he was about to read my debut novel, ANGEL BOARD. I was tickled, because it was only the second time somebody had emailed me to tell me that. The first time was from my stepmother, so naturally I was pretty giddy. We kept in touch through FB for a long time after that. I'll never forget his encouraging email after Publishers Weekly released a not-too-kind review of ANGEL BOARD. I knew right away this was a nice guy, with a sense of humor that matched my own. We finally got to meet at Horrorhound, and our reunions are a huge part of my going back. I enjoy our conversations, though we're sometimes too busy to communicate during the event, it's the big dinner afterward where we get to cut loose and talk about writing.

 Here's Brian Moreland and Mick Ridgewell--the meat of a James/Rufty sandwich. 

I read Russ's second novel, SACRIFICE, and fell in love with, not just the story, but the way he wrote it. He writes in a style that shows his influences, yet is still all his own. As I read it, I was amazed at how natural it seemed to flow. To me, it felt as if he didn't have to struggle to explain something. He put words on the pages that easily transformed to visuals in my head. And since that book, I have been a Russell James fan. I've quickly devoured everything he's written. I'm equally hungry to dive into his newest release--DREAMWALKER.  

When I sent out the offer to have him come on my blog, I was ecstatic that he said yes. Below is what he wrote, and in it, you'll see his personality and his dedication to writing. Something I admire wholeheartedly about the guy. Thank you, Russ, for stopping by! 

Dreamwalker Took A Long Walk

Days. Months. Years. Once you accrue enough time, you need to change the unit of measurement. Each jump up adds gravity to whatever the endeavor is, or highlights a significant lack of progress. Someone asked me how long it took to write Dreamwalker, my latest release from Samhain Horror. I checked the start date of the first version, which was just the first electronic version. A handwritten version preceded that. I shook my head in wonder.

A decade. I’d been working on this novel for a decade.

Not a decade straight, of course. A big flurry of work for a year or so, another push a year later, then nothing, then another chunk over the past year. The latest file is named Dreamwalker 4.5, so it has been through a few revisions.
   What took so long? Simple. In 2005, I didn’t know how to write.
    Dreamwalker was probably my third attempt at a long form story. I finished it. My mother loved it. So did my wife. I mailed copies out (yes, it was that long ago) to agents and publishers, and got a collection of SASE rejections. Pretty humiliating to have bad news sent to me penned in my own hand, with my own saliva on the back of a stamp that I bought. One publisher did bite, provided that I shorten the 100,000 word story to 70,000 and pony up $10,000 to buy myself a garage full of copies. I passed, money aside, because I thought I couldn’t possibly make the thing shorter without ruining it.

    A family connection got me in touch with an English college professor in California who for a reasonable fee would check my novel and provide some coaching. With nothing to lose and an income tax refund in the bank, off Dreamwalker 1.0 went. Months later it came back, with more scrawled notes than a wall in a truck stop bathroom. 
   Looking back, I’m embarrassed by the things she explained to me. Point of view. Passive sentences. Filtering. Showing versus telling. Basically, Writing 101. I sucked up the knowledge and made a new version. But it sat in a metaphorical drawer. New projects had my attention and enthusiasm. I had this haunted house story called Dark Inspiration I was really excited about.

    That was the one that sold, as did three more after that. Out of curiosity, I re-read the synopsis for Dreamwalker one day. It sounded pretty good. The original enthusiasm I had for Pete Holm and his adventure in Twin Moon City reignited. I had the bright idea that I could pretty much check for typos and send this baby out to the world. A month to make a novel this time, instead of twelve. I called up Dreamwalker 3.0.
    What a pile of crap. On every page, unnecessary words sprouted like weeds. One protagonist was unrealistically perfect, the other two-dimensional. A Swiss cheese of plot holes made me cringe. Apparently I’d learned a lot more since 2007. Two online classes and the real world had provided Writing 201. This rewrite wasn’t going to take a month.
   It took nine. The story pared down to 75,000 words (maybe the scam publisher had one thing right.) Pete, the hero, had to struggle more to beat the evil voodoo spirit. Rayna, his girlfriend, had to be won over. The sappy happy ending…well, you need to read it to find out where that went. Don D’Auria, the horror editor’s editor at Samhain, bought Dreamwalker 4.5.

   So the lessons here? Get some education about writing from a pro. Tim Waggoner’s college classes, RJ Cavender’s Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat, the Gotham Writers’ online classes like I took. All of these are taught by published, experienced writers who know what they are talking about. Even Luke Skywalker needed to listen to Yoda. Then be open to criticism and improve.

   Second lesson: never toss any ideas away. Their time may come.

   Visit Russell James on the web HERE

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Book List

2014, can't say that I'm sad to see you go. A lot of hard times have been experienced this year, but as the year reaches its end, I can say things have definitely improved. 

I've read a lot of books this year. Each January, I start off with a vow: I will read more books and comics than the previous year. Sounds like a pretty simple resolution, but sometimes I don't come close. However, 2014 blew away 2013 in the amount of read books category. I'm going to list a few I really liked down below. This is not a "best of" list, in the sense that I think these are better than everything else. I just really enjoyed these books. They've stayed with me and, to me, that means something. Also, this isn't a "What was released in 2014 only" list. Some of these books came out well before the others. And I didn't want to discriminate them because of their age. They can be on my list, it's cool.  

Now, having written all of that, I will share my list. 

Once Upon a Halloween by Richard Laymon (Finally got to read this book, thanks to a friend. It has been on my 'books-to-read' fantasy list for a very long time) 

Dreadful Tales by Richard Laymon (Again, same list, and same friend made this dream come true)

Apartment 7C by David Bernstein

Wolf Hunt 2 by Jeff Strand

Spook Night by David Robbins (Loved this book. A great Halloween story)

Hell-O-Ween by David Robbins  

Junkyard by Barry Porter (This might have been my favorite. Such a fun time. The kids in this book reminded me a lot of my old friends from my teenaged years)

Tribesmen by Adam Cesare  

Feral by Berton Roueché 

Dogkill by Al Dempsey

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Witch Island by David Bernstein

Riding LawnMower Reunion by Alan Spencer

Wild by Gil Brewer (My first of his, and it won't be my last. I've really gotten into crime fiction, and this was a wonderful book)

Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz

The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

December Park by Ronald Malfi

Pus Junkies by Shane McKenzie (My first read of 2014. And what a way to start it off!)

Fecal Terror by David Bernstein (My second read of 2014, and the perfect double-feature companion with Pus Junkies. I truly felt like I was a kid again, with old-school movies playing on my VCR!)

Dead Trash by Ed Kurtz

Fairy by Shane McKenzie

Bloody Mask by Alan Spencer

The Vagrants by Brian Moreland 

Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Depraved 2 by Bryan Smith

Relic of Death by David Bernstein

So that's my list. I'm sure you saw David Bernstein's name was on there quite a few times. He put out a lot of books last year and I tried to read them all. I found great joy in each one, and I highly recommend that you pick them up. Also, we got to cowrite a book with Shane McKenzie and Adam Cesare. That book's called JACKPOT. If you're interested in complete madness that leaves the pages soaked in crimson, please give that book a try as well. 

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 will be filled with wonderful excitement and peace for you all. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Janz Road

I know the saying is a tired one, but that doesn't make it any less true. Most horror writers are the nicest people. The majority I've met have been nothing but friendly to me. And I like to think I'm a pretty nice guy, unless you leave your beef jerky unattended in my presence, then I'll eat it. Well, not really. I'll ask first. If you tell me no, then I'll wait until you're gone and I'll take some. Not too much, just a bit. Wouldn't want to be a jerk and take the whole bag! See, I am nice! 

But one of the absolute nicest guys I've met in my short writing career is Jonathan Janz. A few years ago when Samhain Horror was about to release six books to debut its new line, I pulled together the last Diabolical Radio to this day with as many of us newbies I could get. Janz's The Sorrows was going to be released the following month, but we had gotten to know each other pretty well on Facebook, so I asked him to come on. Listening to him talk about his passion for writing and sharing his natural love for older paperbacks and the pulpy gore-filled pages of Splatterpunk, I felt I'd found not only a cool guy to chat about writing and horror with, but I'd found a kindred spirit. Of course, we all love King, Barker, Koontz, Little, and Saul. But there weren't too many people out there that I'd met who loved Laymon, Ketchum, Lee, White, Smith, and Skipp nearly as much as I do.

We finally got to meet at Horrorhound Cincinnati last year in 2013 when we were at the Samhain booth with other super-nice authors Brian Moreland and David Searls.

Here's a picture of our third venture at Horrorhound, last March, when we returned to Cincinnati. He's only a couple inches taller than me, another thing I like about the guy. He knows what it's like to constantly bonk your head on nearly everything.       

Below is an interview I did recently with Janz. We talk about a lot of things, but mostly about his newest novella, Exorcist Road, which was the first book in years to give me genuine gooseflesh. 

KR: Most writers have a certain style they're known for, and with EXORCIST ROAD, you took a first person point of view and strayed a bit from the Janz voice. I would've thought this was a genuine confessional and not a work of fiction. It was something completely different. Was this a decision you made early on, or did it come to you later as the book progressed?

JJ: Wow, man, thanks! I’m glad the voice was authentic for you. It certainly flowed out of me without any sort of extra effort. I think I wrote it in eleven days (though the editing took more than three times as long). I did believe the first-person narrator would work well for this story. Being a novella, I didn’t want to go into multiple viewpoints like I sometimes do (like with THE SORROWS and SAVAGE SPECIES). There just isn’t enough space in a novella for me to inhabit, say, five different POV characters and do them all justice. So I knew I wanted to limit the perspective to one person, and I knew a young, inexperienced priest could bring with him a great deal of interesting facets in a story like this. He’d be terrified, first of all, and because he knows something of evil, his terror is even deeper than a layperson’s would be. Also, by limiting the perspective, I thought I could keep the other characters a little more oblique with regard to the central mystery. I drew them as well as I could, of course, but I could hold back just enough to maintain their status as suspects in the serial killings. And I think Jason (the young priest) is a suspect too because of his many issues. 

But thanks for your “confessional” comment. That makes me happier than you know. 

KR: Was there any research involved beforehand? If so, how much time did you spend educating yourself on the subject matter?

JJ: The research I did was mostly the several exorcism books I’ve read over the past couple of years (both fiction and non-fiction). The most influential books were William Peter Blatty’s THE EXORCIST and LEGION, as well as John Farris’s criminally underrated masterpiece SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT. Since I read those without knowing I’d be writing EXORCIST ROAD (which was brainstormed and written very quickly), I was able to internalize them like I would any book instead of being on the lookout for facts I could utilize. I’m thinking that’s why the exorcism stuff seems organic to the story—precisely because I wasn’t just learning it just to recapitulate it in a story. It always annoys me when I can see where an author is just showing off the new stuff he’s learned. That kind of information regurgitation jerks me right out of a story. So even though I did do some research while I wrote it, most of that preparation came well before the book was conceived. 

KR: What is your usual writing routine when working on something new? Do you have any weird traits or habits that you have to do while working? 

Hah! You know I’m a weird dude, so nothing would probably surprise you. In fact, I considered making a bunch of stuff up just to see if you’d believe me. Of course, nothing I could do would compare to your habit of building a small chapel out of pastrami and hanging upside down in it by your big toes all night before you start a new book. 

But to answer your question, I’d say that I go for total immersion when I’m “in the zone,” and that helps me fully invest in the writing process. When I’m not with my family or teaching, the story and the characters hold my mind hostage. I think about them in the car, when I’m walking somewhere, when I’m standing at the urinal. I think about the story as I try to sleep at night. And when I shower. 

When I actually write, I listen to baroque music, sit in my favorite chair in my upstairs library, place my mug of coffee next to me, and get after it. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of discovery, as you well know, Krist.

KR: What are three books that have stayed with you throughout your life?

JJ: Awesome and difficult question. Okay, here are three (with the caveat that I’d give a different answer tomorrow): 

1. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I think of that book as love on paper. It’s beautiful and should be required reading for the human race. 

2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. A classic that exceeds its billing, I love this one for its endless capacity to make you think while it entertains you. 

3. Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I had to include one horror novel, right? This one transported me when I first read it and transports me still when I revisit it. A towering achievement. 

KR: Are there any newer authors out there that you frequently read? 

JJ: You mean other than you? Because I’m a big fan of Kristopher Rufty, in spite of the bizarre pastrami fetish. Other than him, I love Hunter Shea and Brian Moreland. Anything those guys do is excellent. Also, Russell James has a great voice, as does Mick Ridgewell. To be honest, I don’t read many new authors despite how incredibly hypocritical that is. But most of my reading is by guys who came before me from whom I feel I need to learn before I move on to more contemporary writers. That’s not really logical or fair, but it’s the way my twisted mind works. 

KR: What are you working on now, and what can we expect next? We need more Janz now!

JJ: Thank you, Krist. I finished a novel recently that no one knows about except me, my family, my agent, and a handful of pre-readers. I’m not sure what I’m doing with that one yet, but I can tell you about my two (probable) Samhain Horror releases. One is called THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, and it’s coming in January. In that one, I really channeled Joe R. Lansdale, and the result was a cool mix of horror, mystery, and suspense. It’s very different than my other stuff, but I’m really proud of it and excited for folks to read it. The other Samhain Horror novel will likely be a werewolf story. The contracts aren’t signed on that one yet, and I’m not done writing it, but it’s moving along nicely and should be a very interesting book once it’s completed. Every writer feels this way, but I believe I can say with complete sincerity that no one’s ever done a werewolf book quite like this one before, which has made it both fun and challenging to write. 

Thanks for having me on your blog, Krist. And if any of you are reading this and haven’t yet checked out Rufty, I suggest you get on that ASAP. This is just my opinion, but I’d start with THE LURKERS (though Krist might have other suggestions). 

THE LURKERS sounds great to me! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Proud Parents and Authorgraph

Proud Parents was released yesterday from Samhain Publishing's horror line and I couldn't be more excited. I wrote this book while I was on bed rest from liver issues. My future was unknown at the time, so I chose to write a book about a family whose futures were also unknown. Actually, their present was just as unknown and a constant risk, so it made for an exciting and heartbreaking adventure. This book poured out of me, finishing a draft in a little over six weeks. I couldn't STOP writing. And I honestly believe it helped keep my spirits up during all the medical tests and treatments I had to go through at the time. There were many moments in that span where I felt like poor Gabe from the book.  

The root of the idea has been with me for many years, and was almost shot as a movie a few times with some pretty cool people. The movie never happened, but the idea remained. The book changed so much that it hardly resembles that old screenplay, but I believe the changes were for the better. I am so very proud of this book. I hope you all enjoy it, too.

I have been very pleased with all my covers, but this one is probably my favorite of them all. 

You can pick it up from Samhain's website HERE! If you use the coupon code PAPERBACK50, you can get the paperback for around 8 bucks. Can't beat that price anywhere! 

To purchase on Amazon click HERE!

I am also registered on Authorgraph, a neat website that allows me to autograph my e-books. If you have any on your Kindle or any other e-Reader, click the box below and send me a request. I'll be more than happy to sign anything. 

Thank you so much for reading my books!