Monthly Archives: August 2013

Guest Post – Horror Author Ian Woodhead

  • Please enjoy this exerpt form Ian Woodhead’s novel Duplicity

duplicitycover

Chapter One

The pretty little red-head was going through her tired speech, explaining to the group just how long the famous deep red stalactites had taken to form at the famous Cullbeck caves.

This would be the third time that Henry Collins had listened to this.

On the first occasion, he’d been stuck at the back of their group, bored out of his mind and alternating his thoughts between wondering if the tour guide was good in bed and just how delicious that first beer would taste once they got out of here.

The acoustic qualities of these caves, allowed the sound to travel for miles. Henry closed his eyes and pressed his back against the rough stone. He’d promised himself a few minutes ago that when he heard her voice, he wouldn’t scream out.

“I only want to go home.” He whispered, shivering.

The woman sounded as though she stood right in front of him. Henry guessed that he must be a mile below her now, hell she could be in the next cavern and he wouldn’t know.

Her voice faded, they were moving off, just one more famous sight to witness before she’d lead them out and into their over expensive tourist shop. He never found out what the other sight was; they didn’t make it that far.

Henry opened his eyes. He couldn’t believe it; he’d managed not to make a sound. When he and his wife had first heard that beautiful voice echoing through the tunnels yesterday, they’d both screamed themselves raw.

“Have I really been down here for two days?”

If Henry had known then what he later found out, he’d have stayed silent; maybe his wife would still be with him.

They had both watched with horror as five humanoid creatures detached themselves from the cavern wall. A luminescent green substance spotted their rough, sinewy bodies. They turned as one, their huge lantern orange eyes locked onto Henry, their screams intensified. His wife, Bernadette had been almost mute since they’d followed the other tunnel and found themselves lost.  She’d found her voice as three of the things jumped on her.

Her shrieking abruptly stopped when one of them grabbed her blonde curly hair and pushed her head into his slender grey chest, muffling the sound. Henry ran forward, growling, only to have the remaining creatures grabbing Henry. One placed his claw-like hands upon his shoulders; he felt just how cold the creature’s skin was through his dirty white shirt. The other one growled back, a perfect replica other Henry’s own sound, then it kicked his feet out from under him.

The back of Henry’s head smashed into the cavern floor, he groaned and watched as the creatures dragged his screaming wife down one of the fissures beside him. Their sick green glow retreated, leaving blackness in its wake.

His eyes had closed. A combination of stress, fatigue and slight concussion knocked him cold for several hours.

Tears cleaned a narrow path down his cheeks when the vivid memory of those things stealing his wife returned. He crawled towards the fissure and howled when he saw that it had been plugged with stone. Henry moved with growing desperation from one fissure to the next to discover they were all the same.

Henry opened his eyes and moved away from the wall, according to the dim readout from his phone, it had been five hours since he had left the fissures. Five hours of intense, searching and he had failed to find his darling wife or an exit.

Henry’s feet stopped by the edge, the ledge overlooked the precipice. He kicked a small pebble over the edge and unlike those fissures; the pebble took an age to hit the bottom.

How deep was it? A hundred feet or a mile, it didn’t really matter. The fall would do the job. Henry had never considered himself a brave man but he was a realist and knew a futile situation when he saw one.

Henry was going to die in these caves, just like Bernadette. If the hunger or thirst didn’t get him then those creatures certainly would. At least two of the things had been following him for the past hour, maybe longer. The occasional sound of a dislodged pebble scraping across the floor and a couple of flashes of green proved to Henry that he wasn’t wrong. Those evil bastards were following him like hyenas followed a wounded zebra. He didn’t know when they’d strike; perhaps they’d wait until he was delirious with hunger.

Well, Henry wasn’t going to give them that opportunity; he would rather deny them their meal. He shuffled his feet forward. Until the toes of his shoe was over the edge.

“I know that you’re there!” he shouted. Henry started a little when his voice echoed through the rocks. He’d begun to cry again, he cursed his own cowardice. Henry had been so terrified that the creatures would rip him apart that he didn’t shout for help and yet here he was, ready to jump to his own death. Where was the logic in that?

A pair of long, grey arms peeled away from the rock near where he stood. The rest of the creature became visible. Henry must have walked right past it and not even noticed. There was movement all around him; the entire cavern appeared to be coming alive as seemingly hundreds of the things detached from the rock, like spiders clinging to walls.

The closest one took a pace towards him; it opened its long mouth and yawned. Henry cried out. A collective groan from the assembled creatures rippled out. It stretched out its arm. Henry gasped when he saw its fingernails were now painted in bright blue, the same colour as Bernadette’s were.

Henry moaned and shook his head, he had no idea what was happening. He took a step forward, his feet lost purchase and he fell into the blackness.

His last sight was of his beautiful wife as he plummeted past her, she was clinging to the side of the wall.

IWoodhead

  • Ian Woodhead is just past the age of forty.

     He lives in the north of England and is married to a wonderful woman.

     He has forgotten how many children he has.

     He had been writing for nearly twenty years but has only just gained the confidence to start showing his work.

     Ian finds it a little creepy writing about himself in the third person.

 

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Announcing … Tropical Fiction – a new genre?

A fantastic idea from my friend Susan Toy to help you find your next “beach read”…

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Guest Post – Horror Author G.R. Yeates

  • It is my pleasure to bring you a guest post from a very talented author. Please enjoy his thoughts and take a moment to visit him on-line.

Farewell to Horror

Writers are often asked where we get our ideas from and we don’t like to confess, I think, that underneath the surface we don’t actually have a lot of them in the first place. That might sound strange but what I mean is that part of becoming a writer usually means identifying a singular idea, concept or theme that will become the fulcrum of who you are as a creative artist. Years and years will then be spent finding different ways of expressing this One Idea. In today’s blog what I am going to be talking about is the catalyst for my One Idea in the horror genre. It is a book entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski.

Tadeusz Borowski was a poet and writer of Polish literature and his most acclaimed work was inspired by his time spent in Auschwitz during the Second World War. These stories were collected together as This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen or, to give it the original Polish title, Farewell to Maria. When it was published it was condemned for portrayal of a ‘world of stone’ that lacked heroism and was accused of being amoral and nihilistic. Borowski committed suicide at the age of 28.

I read it for the first time back in 2002 when I was going through a lengthy phase of reading Holocaust literature. Something about this book resonated with me more so than anything else I had read up to that time. In his fictionalised account of his experiences, I found Tadeusz Borowski expressing a view of the world that I could identify with. Existence as a series of tedious and repetitious acts. Evil’s mundane nature revealed in its everyday familiarity rather than being a rare form of aberration. The world as a kind of concentration camp into which people are steadily indoctrinated until they become perfectly willing collaborators in their own destruction and the genocide of others. It’s a cold book that treats the reader to an unflinching glimpse of reality.

A world of stone indeed.

ThinbehindthedoorDuring the long process of writing The Thing Behind the Door, though I didn’t realise it at the time, I think I was unconsciously seeking to distil what Borowski expressed in This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen and then filter it through my own experiences of late 20th to early 21st century society. The Thing Behind the Door crystallised much that I had been trying to say through the medium of the horror genre up to that time.

It was the best expression so far of my One Idea.

For the conclusions I reached and the sentence I meted out, well, you will have to open the door and see what is waiting behind it.

 

 

  • G.R. Yeates is the critically-acclaimed author of The Vetala Cycle – a historical horror series set during WWI that combines vampire folklore with cosmicism. His work has appeared in anthologies published by Dark Continents Publishing, Cutting Block Press & Static Movement. G R Yeates

    He was born in Essex, England and was brought up in seaside towns along the South-East coast. He studied English Literature and Media at university before spending a year in China teaching English as a foreign language. He moved to London in 2002 and has lived there for the last decade working in a number of different jobs and training as a singer before self-publishing his debut novel in 2011. You can find out more about G.R. Yeates at his website here

  • You can also find his work in this anthology of Great British Horror.

 

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The Shirt Off My Back (sort of)

Being an Independent Author is not as glamorous as you might think. It usually involves working a full-time job and writing as time allows (nights, weekends, whenever). Then – after the books are written there is the extra bonus of spending countless hours promoting them. It’s a non-stop process that must be done if the author expects to sell any books.

As if that weren’t enough we get to pay for editing services, cover design, interior formatting and shipping.

Bottom line…lots of time and money goes out and there’s no guarantee that it will come back.

With that being said I’m going to ask for your help and in the words of the Temptations…I ain’t too proud to beg…

I found a cool website for raising funds by selling tee-shirts.

So I designed a tee-shirt and they are available for ordering – but here’s the thing – I have to get 50 people to order shirts before September 15th or the whole thing goes away.

tee shirt front  tee shirt backIn case you hadn’t guessed, I am asking you to order a tee-shirt (You will not be charged unless I meet my goal).

Any funds raised will go toward the above-mentioned expenses for my next book.

But wait!!! There’s more…

Assuming my campaign is successful and I sell 50 (or more) shirts, not only will you be the owner of a wicked-cool tee-shirt, but I’ll have a contest where people who post pictures on facebook of themselves wearing the shirt will be eligible for prizes (free books).

In case you don’t know Ike…click here

If you are inclined to share this blog I would appreciate it very much – and I am always willing to return the favor.

I truly appreciate you support – whether it’s buying a shirt (or 3) or by simply sharing this blog post and helping spread the word.

To reserve a shirt click here.

As always – thank you for reading

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Things I Learned at The Inspired Mic

The community I call home (Flagler Beach, Florida – even though I technically live next door in Palm Coast) has a fantastic creative element.

Authors and artists of all types live here, and in the past couple of years have gravitated to each other and are really starting to make their presence known.

I’m writing to tell you about one of the events that is bringing attention to some great local talent and also to tell you of some very valuable lessons I’ve learned at said event.

programIt’s called The Inspired Mic and it’s basically an open mic night for authors, poets and anybody else who has something to share (there have been magicians, mentalists and musicians as well).

Each presenter gets five minutes of mic-time to share their material.

The event takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at a fantastic little eatery called The BeachHouse Beanery on scenic A1A in Flagler Beach. The stage is a stone’s throw from the ocean – so there are much worse places to spend a Tuesday evening.

Inspired Mic began in May (2013) and drew a crowd of about 20 people (including readers). Not a very auspicious opening, but after only four months, the most recent performance had 65 people in attendance and that number would have been higher if not for the limited capacity of the venue.

I didn’t go to the first night, but when I bumped into event organizer Michael Ray King in town he asked me if I’d be interested in reading the following month.

To be honest, I wasn’t.

In the first place, I don’t dig the spotlight. I much prefer being a behind the scenes sort of guy. Second…I didn’t think it was the proper venue for authors.

However, Michael is a good guy, and pretty persuasive, so I agreed to go. My friend Becky Pourchot read at the first one and enjoyed it, which told me there must be something good about it, so I dragged Armand Rosamilia away from Special Gal for a night and we went.

Unfinished Business had just been released so I read the opening chapter.TB at Inpsired Mic

To quote Gloria Gaynor, “at first I was afraid, I was petrified” at the thought of reading in front of people, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be (nothing ever really is). The response from the audience was not only flattering, it was reassuring. I also had a great time listening to the other presenters.

I can’t speak for other authors, but I often wonder if my books are as enjoyable to others as I hope they are. According to the response on that first night, I don’t worry about it as much anymore.

Now I’m a “regular” in the lineup and I look forward to attending and reading each month.

So what has The Inspired Mic taught me?

Several things.

First; it taught me that stage fright need not be paralyzing. Sure, it’s a bit intimidating to read your words to a bunch of strangers, but, as I said above, it’s not nearly as bad as you think it’s going to be.

stage fright

Second; hanging out with 50 or 60 creative people is a blast. My decision to move to this part of the world looks more and more brilliant every day!

I also learned two other things that are really important for all authors and writers.

The first two times I read at the event, I picked my material well in advance and edited it down to fit the 5-minute time limit and practiced reading it aloud several times.editing

This editing process gave me a great insight as to which words and sentences were really important and which ones were just there to fill space on the page.

Naturally, I wanted the audience to fully understand what was happening, but I had to make sure I could read it in 5 minutes (Michael is quick with the hook!). Therefore, every word that wasn’t absolutely necessary was chopped out. I was amazed at how much I was able to cut without taking away from the story.

That was important lesson #1 – if it isn’t necessary, cut it out.

Lesson #2 came at the most recent event. I didn’t prepare at all. I didn’t select any material ahead of time, didn’t rehearse and didn’t edit.

What I did was to hand 3 of my novels (Water Hazard, Pump It Up and Backseat to Justice) to a woman in the audience whom I had never met before. I asked her to pick one, but I didn’t tell her why. Once she made her selection (Pump It Up) I then asked her to pick a page. She opened the book to chapter 24 and I read from there until my time was up.

I hadn’t read this material since before it was published (August 2012) so it was much less familiar to me than it had been back then. I was disappointed to realize, as I read it aloud, that there were a couple of spots where I stumbled over the words because things were not as clear as they could have been.

Mary Dreds

Mary Dreds reading from her semi-autobiographical work at The Inspired Mic.

Important lesson #2; As you write (especially dialogue) it’s always a good idea to read your work aloud and see how it flows. You’ll be amazed at how a few simple tweaks can really clear things up for the person who is reading it “cold”.

All in all, The Inspired Mic has been very good for me (Hell, I’ve even sold a few books from it). One of Michael Ray King’s reasons for starting it was (and I’m paraphrasing) writers suck at putting themselves out there. Generally speaking we prefer the safety and anonymity of our own little made-up worlds. At some point, however, we need to put in some face time in order to sell our work, and what better practice than reading it to 50 or 60 people?

Summing up…Flagler Beach – fantastic place to live…The Inpsired Mic – great event for discovering some awesome local talent…reading aloud – best editing method you’ll find.

As always – thank you for reading

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Authors I’m Promoting – the first 5

My friend Susan talks about five authors (one of whom is me) she is promoting. Please read, share and pass it on. I will be writing a similar blog later this week where I choose five authors to promote. Thank you Susan and thank you readers!!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Last week I wrote an impassioned blog post pleading with all writers to get over themselves. In Dear Writer … it’s not all about you, ya know!, I suggested that promoting yourself is not what is going to get you and your books ahead, but finding others to spread the word-of-mouth message will.

So today’s post fulfills my promise for the “what goes around” part of the Karma circle, and I am listing here Five Authors whose work I will be promoting for the next while. Readers, please do consider reading books written by these authors I suggest. They’re all great writers and I’m sure you’ll enjoy any – and, I hope, many! – of their books. If you’ve never heard of these writers before (only one is a brand-spanking-newly published author) then you are in for a treat!

Blue GuitarAnn Ireland
Ann won the Seal First Novel Award for

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Help Save Moon Doggie Coffee Roasters

Just found this blog post about another fantastic program to help dogs (in this case Bassets)…if you are a coffee drinker (and I know most of you are) please consider helping the puppies!!!

Pam Tanzey, Artist

punkinspice

Duncan Bunkin Punkin Pie is the little song I sang to Duncan when he was a baby. It’s how he got his nickname Bunkie. That’s him in his Movie Star glasses. This is his personal coffee flavor from Moon Doggie Coffee Roasters. You can still order it and even though he’s been gone five years, his flavor will still help to rescue Bassets.

That’s what they do, besides being an outstanding, award winning Micro Coffee Roaster, Bob and Donna Funk help rescue homeless, abused, old and ill Basset Hounds. In fact on their menu page there is a long list of special flavors they’ve created to fund various rescues all across the country.

Due to a recent illness, Donna was in the hospital for two weeks and is home still on disability as she recuperates, they have fallen behind and their store landlord is threatening lock them out.

Rescue…

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