Guest Post: John Paul Allen

The venerable John Paul Allen is currently toured to support an anthology he is proud to be a part of. Fresh Blood, Old Bones is a horror anthology published by Biting Dog Press and contains stories from great names in the genre as well as a number of authors that should be on your radar. Without further ado, I give you over to John…

In the Beginning

I’m asked from time to time how I got into the writing business and I think I’ve got an interesting tale to share. I’m not like most of those who do this. I read a lot of interviews and when the question, “When did you know you wanted to write” is asked more times than not the answer is pretty much the same. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, or something close to that – an answer that shares a lifelong goal. For me it was different. I didn’t dream of writing books and the itch never hit me until I was forty-eight.

Back Story:

In the early 80s I attended college at Central Michigan University and enrolled in a Creative Writing Poetry course. At the time I was a single dad to a four year old and one evening while he slept on the couch I watched a made-for-TV movie about the kidnapping of Adam Walsh (son of America’s Most Wanted John Walsh). When the movie ended I decided to write a poem for my class and typed:

The best time for me was just before the screaming stopped,

and their voices hit that pitch.

Twisted little limbs bending back and forth,

back and forth,

and all the blood

and the blue lips

and the begging for me to stop.

I love little children so very very much.

I got an A for it and went on with my life.

Twenty-five years later:

I was living in Humble, Texas (Houston area) working as the Assistant Wellness Instructor (fancy name for PE) at Quest High School – an alternative program. I was paid to watch kids play basketball or walk around the track, as I sat in a beach chair and read the daily edition of the Houston Chronicle. As part of the faculty, one of our responsibilities was to “earn points” each school year. This was done by enrolling in workshops, attending lectures or taking college classes. I signed up for a Monday night Creative Writing Fiction course at a local community college.

The first two weeks I turned in stories inspired by my experiences growing up in Michigan and my years in the navy. When week three rolled around I decided to write something different. By the time Monday came I still had nothing written so I went to the campus early and found an empty seat in the computer lab. For an hour I sat looking at a blank document and with an hour left before class I decided to take a walk around the building. Minutes later I was in a lounge where a couple of students were watching – America’s Most Wanted – and the poem I wrote years before came back to me. I rushed back to the computer and in less than an hour I wrote a five page short story (first person) of a guy sharing how he picked up children at elementary schools. Finishing it I hurried to class and was told that I would be the last to read.

When my turn came I stood in front of the class, read my story, and looked at my classmates. The only word spoken was, “Wow” from my instructor. When I got home I woke my wife and read it to her. She responded, “If I didn’t know you, I’d suggest therapy.” She went back to sleep and I got on my computer to search for email address of published writers. Without asking first, I sent my story to several and waited for feedback. One did write back. I’ll leave him unnamed (don’t want others sending him stories), a well-known horror writer who told me I should consider expanding my short into a longer work. I wrote back telling him I had no desire to write horror and only wanted comments about my writing. He responded: Rethink that.

I did and a week later began my first novel, Gifted Trust. During that time the writing class ended (Note: I didn’t pass it), I continued teaching at Quest and working on my novel during my off time. This went on several weeks until one morning while watching students walking around the school track. I was called to the office.

Entering the principal’s office I was asked to shut the door and upon sitting she slid a folder across her desk toward me and said, “Tell me about Gifted Trust.” I explained it was a book I was writing and she informed me that someone found my manuscript on my website, adding that the superintendent was not happy. We argued and I defended my off-work activities until she dismissed me back to my class.

The next day, while I was back outside near the track, I was summoned back to the principal’s office. This time she informed me that two detectives of the Humble Police Department wanted to speak to me about my writing. I checked out of the school, stopped at Wal-Mart to buy a small recorder and continued to the police station for the meeting. For three hours they played Good Cop-Bad Cop, told me I knew too much about child abductors, and finally gave in – they agreed that I was probably writing a novel and sent me on my way.

Note: At this time I only had one character – a child abductor, murderer  – in my manuscript. I had not come up with the rest of the story.

The next day I was back at work and again called into the principal’s office. This time she was in a better mood – smiling – so I knew something was up. She informed me that I was correct. I couldn’t be fired for writing a book, but they could change my job description. For the rest of the school year I would stay outside where I could watch the cars in the parking lot. I still communicated with the students, but I had to remain outside. At the end of the school year I was informed that the district did not apply for the grant that paid my salary so I was out of a job. After the summer break I tried working as a substitute, but wasn’t permitted and never taught again.

What I did do though was write a book. I developed a tale that included a character named Ed who is a Living Well Instructor at Discovery, an alternative high school in Quinley, TX (near Houston). Ed has dreams of someone kidnapping and killing children and he writes about them on his website called Gifted Trust. One day he is called into the principal’s office where his job is threatened and a few days later he is sent to be interviewed by two detectives of the local police department.

A year after leaving Quest High School I had a contract for my first novel – a life I never planned on living. Oh and for the record – my first story was inspired by my life. It is not a copy of it. As the disclaimer goes – This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Note: I’d like to thank the following:

Free Book Dude for putting together this book tour and for all they’ve done to help writers promote their works. Check out their site.

Biting Dog Press/Publications who puts out some damn good stuff.

Meet Author John Paul Allen:

Five OhJohn Paul Allen describes himself as a semi-complete unknown. “I’m like a literary lounge singer,” he shares, “but thanks to social networking, digital technology and good people who believe in my work my readership is expanding. Author of Gifted Trust (novel), Monkey Love (novella), and Dark Blessings (short story collection). His short story, House Guest, has remained in the top 100 for Kindle horror twelve straight months. John recently took part in Fresh Blood Old Bones, an amazing collection of works by some of the best tenured and new writers in the horror genre.

Former Michigander, Eagle Scout, and fourteen year veteran of the U.S. Navy John Paul Allen has lived in Cuba (GTMO), Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Texas and now resides in Tennessee where he spends time with his girlfriend and enjoys being Paw Paw to one-year-old Makenzie and his new granddaughter, Zoe.

Follow John on the Fresh Blood, Old Bones Tour from December 23 – 29. Read special guest posts, enter to win John’s entire Biting Dog Press digital library, read reviews of Fresh Blood, Old Bones and even listen in on a live podcast interview. For more information, check out the John Paul Allen Tour page from and Biting Dog Press.

Fresh Blood, Old Bones Synopsis:

fresh bloodFresh Blood, Old Bones showcases the work of new and established writers in horror, fantasy, and science fiction (with bizarre thrown in for good measure). Enjoy eighteen tales as true masters of the genre (including Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy Collins, and Neal Barrett Jr.) combine their talents with stories from up-and-comers (including Tim Bryant, Monica J. O’Rourke, John Paul Allen, and many others) in this unique and exciting anthology.

Thank you John! As they say, art imitates life.

The Next Big Thing…

I’ve bowed to the pressure and accepted the challenge of The Next Big Thing from my dear friend and fellow Snow, Rebecca. She blogs over at Rebecca Snow – Cemetery Flower; where she writes from the house because the Zombies are at the door.

It’s not really a daunting task, mainly you just need to answer the questions below and then post next week after the person that nominated you. Then you’re supposed to tag five victims other authors for the next week (it should be Wednesday January 2nd, but with the holidays, I am posting a day late).

What is the working title of your book?

At this point, I’ve been toying with a few different titles. I won’t know what it will end up being until the first draft is finally finished. But just to give you a teaser, it will either be called… The Sanity of Insomnia or Shift.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for this book materialized on one of the many nights that I lay awake plagued by persistent insomnia. It all centers on the question: what happens when we fall asleep?

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a genre-bending horror tale with science fiction undertones.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, that’s a good question. I’d love to see Carrie-Anne Moss playing the main female lead named Catherine and Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing one of the two main male leads. The other male lead would be played by Alan Tudyk, in a perfect world of course.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sleep is essential to our sanity, but what if sleep was merely a portal to a different life?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

At this point, the book will be self-published, but I’m always open to what may happen.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still currently writing the first draft and with all of my other obligations, it’s coming out slowly, but surely. I’m hoping to be completely finished sometime in the spring. I cannot wait for this to hit the shelves as it will showcase a completely different side to me.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Honestly, I cannot think of any at the moment. Not that I’m trying to say that there are no other books that are similar, I just haven’t come across any that are.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The need to get the story out of my head. It’s hard to live with different story lines fighting for attention. The life of a storyteller is difficult one because you are always at the beck and call of your muses.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It will make you reconsider what you thought you knew about sleep, especially what you dream about.

Now for my five two choices (and these are in no particular order):

Wolf Scott

Alex Chase

Hopefully next week, you’ll be seeing a blog post from them!

Nine Questions with… Michael Williams

Today I am joined by Michael Williams, author of the popular Dragonlance series in support of the tour for his current release Vine: An Urban Legend. For those of you not yet familiar with Michael, let’s give him a moment to introduce himself.

MichaelI was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and through good luck and a roundabout journey through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, have ended up less than thirty miles from where I began.  Over the past 25 years, I have written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines.  Trajan’s Arch (2010) was my eleventh novel, the first published with Blackwyrm Press, and on this blog tour I am promoting my newest book, Vine: An Urban Legend.

I am an Assistant Professor in Humanities at the University of Louisville, where I focus on European Romanticism and the 19th century, Modernism (especially the Modern Fantastic), and early 20th century film.  I am married, and have two grown sons.

Welcome Michael, tell us about your writing process?

There’s no single answer to that question.  The process varies with the project.  My wife has often said, though, that she begins to wonder if I’m ever going to put words to the page as I begin—there’s a long process of research, planning, turning ideas over and around in my mind.

But generally when I begin to write, the first draft comes out readily.  I’m at my desk by 4:30 or 5 am and write for 2-3 hours, usually 1000 words or so a day.  It’s really that mechanical.  During that time I’m allowed to do nothing but drink coffee and write.

Revision, unlike to other writers, is a delight to me.  You go over the drafted manuscript and notice connections you had no idea you were making, ideas that mean something different once the arc of the book is complete.  Sometimes revision sends you down productive side roads, sometimes not: it’s a part of the process that is as full of peril and discovery as the rough draft, at least for me.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

When I think of one, I try it.  I love bending and blending and breaking genres: to me, the most interesting part of genre writing is playing one series of themes and conventions up against another, and letting a novel rise from their interplay.  Things like early Star Wars and Firefly always fascinated me with the way they blended space opera and western.  Ridley Scott does the same thing with space and haunted house in Alien, and sf and noir in Blade Runner.  It’s stuff I grew up loving, and I still like the blending—as reader, viewer, and writer.

I love the idea of blending the genres – it just makes a book more interesting and appealing to readers. What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Oh, my, there are more than five.  Tolkien is at the top of my list: changed my life when I first read the trilogy at 14.  It was then I decided that I wanted to write, that the coolest thing in the world had to be making up worlds and making them convincing, a place someone could live in.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez created a magical world closer to our own, perhaps only a step away from the back door.  I liked the proximity of the real and the fantastic, how they blended with one another until it was hard to tell them apart, and how GGM tells the story with a deadpan voice that gives them both equal weight.  It helped my storytelling style no end.

Oddly, Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot did much of the same.  It’s American small town writ Gothic.  Another example of the fantastic and realistic in play side by side, the transition from one world to another that King does pretty well, but strikingly well for me in this book.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  The best place to go for the classical mythology that I love and that underpins a lot of my work, especially Vine.  I love Ovid’s sophisticated and psychological take on the old myths…it’s like early mythic fiction, which is what I think I write.

Kafka’s short fiction—almost any of it, but primarily “Metamorphosis” and “The Hunger Artist”—is very influential.  Guess he’s about my favorite writer at the moment, though that distinction changes constantly.

Great choices! I love discovering how books have helped to foster and form the love for creating and recording stories. Let me ask you this, if you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Let’s do Vine, since it’s the book I’m touring with.

Polymnia = Scarlett Johansson

T. Tommy Briscoe = Tom Waits

Stephen Thorne = Philip Seymour Hoffman

Jack Rausch = a slightly younger Colin Kim

LOVE Phillip Seymour Hoffman – he’s one of my all-time favourite actors! What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I’d go back to sleep.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I’m already there.  Pitifully addicted.  Back spasms and jonesing when I haven’t had a mug in a day. But the vice becomes more vicious when I’m writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing, Michael?

I teach and sleep, basically.  Most writers will tell you that writing is not only a full-time job, but a 24/7 preoccupation.  My teaching and writing dovetail nicely, as both lines of work nourish the other.  I love my family very much, and most down time is spent enjoying them.  I’m really a private kind of person, without being a hermit or a recluse or any of those romantic things people usually associate with writers.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

T. Tommy Briscoe (the homeless Elvis impersonator/chorus leader), begins the novel by speaking:

I have come back home, children, riding unscrupulous winds.

This amphitheatre is a wreckage now.  The crew is breaking down or setting up. It’s hard to tell from standing here. But I do know you can’t paint what ain’t, so everything we build falls into geometry.  The theatre is the heart of my city, the haunt of derelicts and squirrels. It’s the point of origin, the towhead in the river where the god rises out of the current, and settles, and takes human shape.

The whole world slopes to the stage.  Up there is what they call the colonnade.  They’s stone lions at guard by it, and up on the hill, past Magnolia and the church and the big rock there’s another statue—a girl rising up from the water like the towhead god.

Thank you for sharing that Michael! If you’re looking to connect with Michael, you can find him on Facebook or his website.

And now for the moment you’ve all been patiently awaiting! Time for a sneak peek into Vine: An Urban Legend

Vine-FrontAmateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.

Michael Williams’ Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.

Don’t forget to click on the cover to be taken to Amazon!

Thank you Michael! Don’t forget to join me next week when I’m joined by author, Jeff Jake!

New Release: Finding Esta by Shah Wharton

Finding Esta Christmas Giveaway Banner

Finding Esta Christmas Giveaway Banner

Welcome to the

Finding Esta‘ Launch Christmas Giveaway!

Yes – it’s finally here. After three years of writing, re-writing, beta readers, editing, cover designing, book trailers, yet more edits and many agonising hours of formatting, the first instalment of The Supes Series is ready and finally up on Amazon! There are five e-copies (you choice of file: ePub/Mobi or PDF) up for grabs, so please have a go and get Finding Esta FREE for Christmas. It’s $2.99 on Amazon, and will be for sale on Smashwords and Kobo in by February, and in print shortly after that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is the fabulous cover – Like it?

BRIEF Blurb: A young journalist sets off to find Esta, but is unprepared for all she finds, and soon realises it’s a journey from which she may never return. This is a new adult, urban fantasy about one woman’s struggle to retain her identity while everything she knows crumbles around her. Finding Esta is the first of an Urban Fantasy/New Adult Series

Please enjoy the book trailer

Yeah, But What’s The Book About?

An unusual young woman and fledgling journalist, Luna has various restrictive oddities, all of which prevent any kind of physical intimacy. Abusive parents take pleasure in Luna’s misery and isolation, yet Luna strives to make them proud, to finally earn their elusive love – something she craves almost as much as the painless touch of a lover.

When she learns of a tragic story involving the kidnap of baby Esta, she jumps at the chance to investigate, dragging her Shadows along for the ride within the murky depths of her mind.

Meanwhile, a dark stranger visits Luna’s dreams and stalks her reality. In lieu of the real thing, their intimate moments excite rather than terrify. Nestled within his presence, she begins to sense an urgent message of danger – a message she struggles to interpret, until they finally meet….

Her investigations lead Luna to a vibrant seaside town, hiding copycat aliens and an underworld of Supernaturals. Here, she comes face-to-face with her own, terrifying identity. Confronted with life-changing decisions and the harshest of truths, Luna questions her sanity, searching for logic, feeling deceived by both.

Is Luna trapped in a newfound supernatural world, or within her own delusions? And will anyone care enough to save her?

Author Biography

Shah Wharton

Shah Wharton

Shah began meeting authors and bookworms galore when she began blogging back in 2010. She’s learned a lot about blogging and writing on her adventure, mostly from the awesome advice of her online peer-group.

She uses her imagination to write short stories as well as the poetry, but stumbled into her first novel, but falling in love with the character Luna in a short story she wrote 2010. It became grew into Finding Esta, the beginning of Luna’s journey to self-discovery. Finding Esta is her début novel and the first of The Supes Series.

Her passions include blogging, writing, reading, movies, photography and picture enhancement, music, theatre, travel, and fine dining. Her qualifications include BSc(Hons) psychology, counselling, mentoring.

She also has one short story published The Dead Party & two poems published in anthologies.

Her favourite genres include anything dark with fangs and/or that will make her squirm or jump or scream out an expletive. She is an avid Kindle abuser and adores the indie writing community and being part of the e-publishing revolution.


Get Social With Shah



Praise to…Derek Murphy at Creative IndieCovers who developed the incredible book cover

& AubrieAnne at Who’s Your Editor? who did the final edit

Shah would also like to add…

Huge thanks to all the beta readers, patient and enduring online friendships,

and to the mass of wonderful writer resources, all of which took me from thinking,

“Could I do that?” to “Hell yeah, I can do this!”

* * *

For more on Shah’s other writing, inc. poetry and short stories,

try Shah’s Scribbles.

* * *

99 Authors, 99 Books – 99 Cents!

These prices are available on Amazon only.

For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!!

Nine Questions with… Christopher Kokoski

Today I am joined by Christopher Kokoski, author of Dark Halo. If you haven’t been properly introduced to Chris, let’s rectify that now…

CK Author's Pic 2012Christopher was born in Kansas, the son of an Army Ranger and Black Hawk pilot. He grew up in Kentucky and Germany, and graduated from Murray State University in 2002 with a degree in Organizational Communication. He spent the next three years laboring over his first book, Past Lives, while getting married to his college sweetheart, having a beautiful daughter, and more or less finding his stride in life.

He currently lives in Southern Indiana and works in Louisville, Kentucky as a national trainer. He has presented at local and national conferences on a wide spectrum of topics including communication, body language, cultural sensitivity and influence. Other notable activities include writing articles, short stories, novels and training materials for national and international audiences.

Christopher continues his passion and dedication to writing by working on additional novels, including a sequel to the Past Lives series. His most recent book is the standalone paranormal thriller, Dark Halo.

Welcome Chris, take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

I was born on an army base in Kansas and grew up in Hopkinsville, KY and Darmstadt, Germany (two wildly different places, but both wonderful). This overseas experience broadened my perspective of the world, of culture and of life. Many people who know me now are surprised to hear that I was chronically shy in high school where I ran track for one year, played the trumpet for all four years, had a really great group of friends, made lots of silly teenage mistakes, learned to snow ski and play hacky sack. After graduation, I attended college at Murray State University (Go Racers!), where I majored in communications and joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. Strangely, I didn’t write much in college. Only after graduation did I plunge back into writing short stories, novels and nonfiction books. My first published novel was the first in the Past Lives series. My latest novel is the standalone, Dark Halo.

Tell us about your writing process?

Typically, the first thing I do is work out a basic plot, setting and characters sketches for structure. Next, I write the novel slowly (500 words or less per day slowly!). Since I’m also a national trainer and coordinator for a non-profit, I write early in the morning (6 am early) for about an hour, focusing on each sentence and each word. This process takes longer to write the first draft, but often saves me time in the revision stage. After finishing my first draft, I let the story sit for a few days or weeks before conducting my first revision. Once I’m satisfied, I send this revised version to a few people I trust for further edits. While I wait for their responses, I come up with a title, back cover blurb and possible ideas for the cover image for the book. When I receive the edits, I read, reflect on and compare them, making the changes with which I agree.

That’s quite the process! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I really enjoy espionage, spy or secret agent thrillers. I have some ideas cooking for a possible series and maybe a standalone or two in this type of genre. We’ll see what happens!

Oohh, what a tease! Tell me about the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

The Bible, for perhaps what are obvious reasons. None of my fiction books are in the Christian genre, but spirituality is such a big part of my life that these ideas, symbols and concepts often weave their way into my writing. As a Christian, there is no other book that has and continues to influence me more.

To Kill a Mockingbird. This is the first novel I read that I remember really enjoying. The story planted seeds that blossomed into a love of reading.

The Breakout Novel Workbook. I’ve also read the book, which is good, too, but I’ve fallen in love with the workbook. I use the exercises and principles to plot every story I write.

Techniques of a Selling Writer. This book is one of the best I’ve read on writing techniques. It’s helped me enormously.

Scene and Structure. A student of the person who wrote Techniques of a Selling Writer wrote this book. The ideas are similar, but I like this one because it is simple and easy to understand and apply immediately to my writing.

Interesting choices. If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

If I could cast Dark Halo, I might have Matt Damon play Landon Paddock and Chris Hemsworth play the angel. I like Kate Beckinsale for Lucy. I’m not sure about who might play Katie, Frank or Gina. Any recommendations?

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

You mean after “happy dancing” and waking up the neighbours with loud screams of delight? Call everyone I know to celebrate.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Happily, I leave most of my vices for the characters in my stories. If I have any left myself when it comes to my writing, it is coffee, if that even counts, and I’m slowly transitioning into drinking more tea.

Oohhh! I love tea! It’s my go-to drink when I’m writing. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Truthfully, I’m usually writing or thinking about writing. While I’m thinking about writing, I am a national trainer and coordinator for a non-profit agency that currently helps fathers reconnect with their family and children after incarceration. I also have a beautiful wife and daughter of my own.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

This short excerpt is from the sequel in the Past Lives series, which is tentatively scheduled to be out sometime in 2013. I hope you enjoy it.

Prisoners clamored against the corroded gates of their cages, eagerly regarding her shame and suffering with nothing short of pure delight, hissing and spitting through the bars, human projectiles of germs and pestilence that flung through the air like silky bags squirming with hundreds of agitated baby spiders. A few inmates issued long, continuous strings of admirably creative profanity, comparing her, among other things, to various lower life forms, vomit, feces and other human waste.

Cold and bitter emotion stirred deep in her chest, but she held it at bay, barely resisting the urge to raise her head, to show them what lay behind her crystal-blue eyes, to let them glimpse the vicious hell she was about to visit upon them.

Great excerpt – thanks for sharing it! Now it’s time to take a quick sneak peek into Dark Halo

Dark Halo large picIn a town besieged by shadowy, demonic forces, a father races against time to save his family.

Thirty-five-year old Landon Paddock has deserted his wife and daughter, abandoned his business, and secluded himself in his late parent’s southern Indiana ranch. But he’s barely lapsed into a drunken coma when a mysterious, winged stranger appears during a violent lightning storm, chasing him out into the maddening night with his estranged 15-year old daughter.

As layer after layer of reality is dissolved by a series of violent encounters, the only way to survive might be for Landon to band together with the family he destroyed to make one last stand against a sinister army of unthinkable magnitude.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Christopher. If you wish to connect with Christopher, you can find him on Twitter, or his website.

Don’t forget to join my next week when I will be joined by Michael Williams!

Guest Post: Sara Brooke – The Zyne Project Tour

Today I have the distinct pleasure of presenting you with a guest post written by Sara Brooke. Sara is the author of The Zyne Project which is currently making the rounds of the blogosphere on a book tour! If you’re interested in the rest of the tour, you can find out more information on Free Book Dude.

Now let’s find out a little bit more about Sara…

Sara BrookeSara Brooke is a horror and suspense novelist living in South Florida. A lifelong avid reader of all things scary, Sara’s childhood dream was to write horror books that force readers to sleep with their lights on.

Her first novel, Still Lake, was released Spring 2012.

Sara’s influences and favorite authors include Bentley Little, John Saul, William Blackstone, and Joe McKinney. 

She is presently working on her next novel.

And now for Sara’s guest post…

Why Do I Write Horror Novels?

It’s a question I get asked constantly.

Whenever I meet someone, usually a female, she typically gets all excited when realizing that I’m a published author.  Then, the inevitable question always arises.

“What do you write about?”

At this point, I smile and hesitate, at which point the other person continues to press me. So, I finally give in.

“I write horror novels.”

Now, there are two different responses that come next. The first (and rare) reaction is excitement.  Some people still don’t realize that I’ve got three books on the market in addition to several short stories.  If they enjoy scary stuff, the reaction is positive and they head off to buy my books in a flash.

But, the other reaction is more typical.

“Why?”  – is the question that comes next from people who don’t enjoy horror and never will.

Now tell me dear reader, how do you answer that question?   Why does anyone do anything?  I could answer the question like this, “Because I enjoy it, things that scare me are exciting, and I don’t think I’m really that good at writing about anything else.”

I’ve tried that answer a few times and it doesn’t work.  The person still stares at me like I’m a creature from the deep…a new species that they’ve just discovered hiding in the sewage system under their house.

Ok, so they’re not into horror – I can live with that.  But then, I start fumbling and looking for something else to say like, “Well, my books aren’t that gruesome” or “There’s a lot of sex in them, so I think you’ll like the books anyway.”


Neither of these responses ever works, because first of all, my books ARE gruesome, there is a lot of sex in them – sometimes crazy sex, and honestly…why do I need to defend that I’m writing about horror and not romance?

My grandmother used to have access to my Facebook account and she posted the following. (Keep in mind that her eyesight is going bad, so she writes everything in capital letters):

Me: Announcing the release of The Zyne Project – A horrific journey into the pits of hell.



I write horror, because I enjoy it.  There is no greater thrill than when a reader says that my novels really scared them.

When I’m writing books like The Zyne Project, there are tons of surprises, frightening moments, and sex.

That’s what I like, that’s what my fans like, and that’s what I’m going to continue to write about.  So, if you enjoy horror – check out some of my work.  And let me know what you think, because I truly love the feedback.

But if you’re looking for comedy or romance, I’ll be sure to hook you up with my grandmother who has a list of great suggestions 😉

Now let’s take a look at her book The Zyne Project (Don’t forget to click on the cover to be taken straight to Amazon)…

The Zyne ProjectBe prepared to take a journey into the pits of hell, courtesy of the Zyne Corporation.

Six people agree to participate in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial. They’re ready to change the face of science, but they’re the ones who start changing. As each subject succumbs to the horror of the trial, they begin to turn against each other…and discover the nightmare within. What was supposed to be a medical breakthrough is turning regular people into something unimaginable. And there may be a deeper truth even more frightening than the beastly evolution occurring…

Thank you Sara! If you would like to connect with Sara, you can find her on Twitter or on her website. Before I leave you, here are a few more words from Sara herself…

I’m very excited to share with you that my new horror novel, The Zyne Project, is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in eversion. Bram Stoker Award-Winner Joe McKinney calls it “A Zombie outbreak like no other…Medical Research hasn’t been this frightening since Michael Crichton!” I hope you get a chance to check it out and appreciate your support. ~ Sara

Nine Questions with… Georgia L. Jones

Today I am joined by Georgia L. Jones, author and salon owner as a part of her Remnants of Life Book Tour. Just in case some of you have yet to be formally introduced to Georgia, let’s get to know her a little bit.

GeorgiaLJonesGeorgia L. Jones was born in Columbia, Missouri on September 21st, 1968. In 1992 she settled in the beautiful Ozarks town of Lebanon, Missouri, where she met and married the love of her life. Together they have raised 7 children and have the 8th still in their home.

At a young age Georgia learned the value of getting lost in a good book. She has always enjoyed reading and letting her imagination run wild. In her early teenage years she began to put her own stories down on paper as she plunked out the words on an old manual typewriter.

In 1996, Georgia enrolled at Missouri State University where she majored in Psychology. While there she found an untamable thirst for Philosophy and Greek Mythology. Many evenings she can still be found curled up with one of the great Greek tragedies or reading about personal continuity by Rene Descarte.

Over the years Georgia has harbored the dream of being a published author and written many short stories. On January 10, 2010 she embarked on the dream as she began to bring the characters from her first novel, Legends of Darkness, to life. Upon completion in June 2010 she realized that it was not a single book but a series and created the concept of the series Remnants of Life. She is currently working diligently on the Remnants of Life series.

Introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Julianne, Thank You for having me here on The FlipSide.  My name is Georgia L. Jones and I’m a Fantasy Author.  I live in the beautiful Ozarks in Southwest Missouri with my husband, my five year old, and an English Mastiff who is appropriately named “Tank.”  I share a birthday, September 21, with the famous author Stephen King.  He has also been quite an inspiration to me.  I love his writing style and sometimes find myself saying, WWSKD, (What Would Stephen King Do), while writing.  I have enjoyed writing my entire life and embarked on the dream of becoming a published author in January of 2010 when I began writing Legends of Darkness, the first book in the Remnants of Life series.  Since then, I have realized the dream of becoming published, with Blackwyrm Publishing out of Louisville KY.  My debut novel, Legends of Darkness launched on March 17, 2012, a short story The 2012 Official Survival Guide launched on September 29, 2012, and very recently Witches, the second book in the series, launched on December 1, 2012.  I am currently working diligently on the third book in the Remnants of Life series that has a working title of Thorn, going to conventions, promoting my writing, and running Aphrodite’s Hair & Nails, which is the salon I have owned since 1999.

Speaking of famous birthdays… You started writing Legends of Darkness on my birthday! That’s awesome! Tell us about your writing process?

Writing for me is very passionate.  It is usually sparked with an emotion or a thought.   Once I get the idea, usually I let it simmer in my mind for a while.  Legends of Darkness had been on my mind for a year or so before I ever put my first words on paper.  Once I get my storyline mapped out in my mind then I begin writing.  I keep my notebook with me nearly all the time.  Small things in my day to day routine will spark something in a scene and I will jot it down.  I handwrite my first drafts.  I have tried to do it on my computer and it is just easier for me to write it down in the first draft.  Once I get the story in a rough draft form then I begin to transfer the actual story to my computer.  For me, typically I will rewrite a story 6 or more times before I’m ready to let anyone read it.  Throughout the process I keep extensive notes.  My series, Remnants of Life, is a five book series and I have a chapter outline for Thorn completed, and I am working on the first draft of the book, but I actually have character sheets started for characters that will not emerge until the fifth book.   I also have scenes written out that I may or may not use through the whole series.

So from the sounds of it, you are definitely a planner. I’m a bit of both – a planner and a pantser. Sometimes, despite my best intentions, the story goes where the story goes! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I currently write in the fantasy genre.  I have always been very comfortable with it.  The boundaries seem limitless when it comes to that genre… BUT… I have dabbled in the parody/comedy/political genre with Smarty Mic Smartypants’ book, The Official 2012 Survival Guide.  I would love to be a political comedy writer.  In my opinion, the comedy genre is very difficult to write in, but I would love to seriously try some more extensive comedy works.

Tell us about the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

1. The Bible because it has taught me many moral lessons in life.

2. Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descarte, because no matter how many times I read it, I learn something new.

3. Classical Myth by Barry B. Powell because it was the book assigned in my first college level mythology class and it introduced me to the wonder of mythology.  I have had a passion for it ever since I cracked the book open.

4. Thinner by Richard Bachman because it was just a great book and I found it very entertaining.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because it is one of the most creative fantasy series I have ever read.  I appreciate how mythology was used to bring together the fantasy elements.  

I’ve been a huge fan of the Narnia series ever since I first read them back when I was a child. I was so excited to see them come to the big screen in the recent adaptations and the actors that were chosen to play the characters embodied everything that I remember from the days I spent curled up reading them. If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Kate Beckinsale would be Samoda.  While writing, I can actually visualise how she moves in the Underworld movies and I can see Samoda moving like her.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would call Dave Mattingly, the President of Blackwyrm Publishing to find out what miracle he had performed overnight.  I would be the happiest woman on the planet!

Georgia, do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I probably have fewer vices while writing than I do when I’m not writing.  I usually can get lost while writing and a whole day will have gone by without moving from my spot.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work a lot.  When I’m not writing I’m either spending time with my family or working at my salon.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

The blood pouring down my face was an indication that the blow had struck harder and deeper than I had really thought.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to withstand it again and I stumbled backwards trying to regain my balance.  This time I had evaded the brunt of it and it only grazed the side of my face.  I wasn’t sure what the driving force was.  It was coming at me over and over again, and I continued backwards to try and avoid it as much as possible.  I wasn’t as fast or as strong as my assailant and before I knew it, I was overcome.  The pain stung through my body and the blood, I could feel the gooey thickness dripping from every part of me.  Then I fell into a state of knowing what was going on, but really not caring.  There was no more pain to be felt, just the realization that sweet death was coming for me and I would no longer be.  I would never again feel… anything.  I was relieved. The suffering was coming to an end.

Great excerpt Georgia – thank you  very much for taking the time to stop by today! For those of you looking to connect with Georgia, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her website.

Now let’s take a quick look at Legends of Darkness, the first book in the Remnants of Life Series...

Front Cover LegendsDangerous Saviors… What would you do if your life rested in the hands of something that really wanted to eat you? Come journey through the realms of the next world where everything you know about Good and Evil are put to the test.

Samantha Garrett lives and dies a good life in the human world. She awakens a new creature, Samoda, a vampire-like warrior in the army of Nuem. She is forced to realize that she has become a part of a world that humans believe to be only “Legends of Darkness.” Samoda finds her new life is entwined with the age-old story of greed, love, betrayal, and vengeance.

Join our heroine as she battles not just for her own existence, but for the entire human race’s future.

**Don’t forget to click on the cover to get swept away to Amazon to purchase Legends of Darkness!**

Georgeous cover, isn’t it? Thanks again Georgia! Don’t forget to tune in next week when I will feature an interview with Christopher Kokowski.

Nine Questions with… Lydia Peever

Today my guest is Lydia Peever, an Ottawa (Canada) native and writer of things dark and horror related. Let’s take a quick moment and delve into who Lydia is…

me-april-tiggy (2)Lydia Peever is a journalist and horror author living in Ottawa. With articles in some newspapers and a few magazines, she is currently working on the sequel to her violent vampire novel, Nightface.

With too many hobbies and diverse interests, you may find her researching genealogy in a dusty library, profiling artists for, or taking photos at a punk show. By day, she haunts trendy cafés, tends poison flowerbeds, and photographs roadkill.

After writing a novel and a dozen short stories as a hobby during college in the mid 90s, She began a professional writing career upon enrolling in college for the second time in 2010. By April 2011, she had sold Nightface and within the next year, sold her first short story. Thicker Than, which appears in the West Pigeon Press anthology, For When the Veil Drops.

After graduating an intense Journalism course, she returned to her Alma Mater as a teaching assistant. When not at her separate full-time job she is a regular contributor to Xalt Magazine. When not writing, she does what she can at Hora Morior Productions – a horror collective based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. From script-writing for the screen and radio, to layout and pre-press she fairly revels in anything with a horror-media edge.

Welcome Lydia, tell us about your writing process?

It evolves. Two years ago, I would have answered that I write mainly in the morning for a few hours, then edit in the evening. At that time, I was in school so that suited my schedule. It was good to have a regular time, place and space for writing even if it was my bedroom. Since then, my schedule has become far more schizophrenic though I do have an office. I can write nearly anytime and anywhere but do tend to continue the trend of editing in the evening. Lately I have been writing after midnight, which I used to do as a teenager and in my early twenties.

Ideas strike anytime. Most of my favorite stories I tend to mull over in my mind for a few weeks or longer. It takes a long time for the characters and paranormal to entwine just so. Then, I tell someone – usually with little warning! Before I know it, the story just spills out and I have to write it. Not that it will get away on me. Luckily, I don’t forget my lines. I just want to get it out while the thread is fresh. My memory is very good when I like an idea I tend to replay it over and over so if I don’t have a chance to write immediately, I don’t stress over it.

That’s a useful skill. There are times that my memory behaves like a sieve and ideas trickle out before I can get them on paper; it’s frustrating but I’ve learned to live with it. Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

Not a genre, per-se, as I am pretty much betrothed to horror. I would certainly like to branch into other media. I have had the opportunity through college to work at CBC Radio in 2011 and help produce a music video recently. I love audiovisual technology and hope to do more of that sort of work. I am slowly working on a screenplay as well. It is non-fiction and maybe not horror but does have horrific elements.

From time to time, people ask if I could write something nice. Perhaps I should try romance, they say. Try some literary erotica maybe. The answer is no. I have a few dark weird tales and a story with a science fiction element but at the end of the day, it all comes out of me as horror. No other genre relates to me, and I can’t produce something I don’t honestly adore. That said, Nightface does have a dark mystery element as well as a warped romantic glow at one point. That happens when you write long-form fiction with substance.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Starting with the most recent, Goth by Otsuichi is a phenomenal book. The plot is so deceptively simple and the writing style so clear. His words are so comfortable and prose so familiar that I felt I had read him forever after the first chapter. I collect his work now. Kathe Koja gave the same feeling when I first read Kink and Skin. There is something to be said for the simple style and relying on the reader to paint a picture in their mind. Otsuichi does a beautiful job of this.

Faust by Robert Nye was an oddball book I picked up at a used market. Haunting used bookstores is an addiction of mine, and with a satanic looking cover, a title like Faust and the fact that I had never heard of it made it an easy sell. Once I read it, I felt I had found a precious gem. So dark, so terrible and so well written. The main character is so vile, creepy and rude you get shivers just thinking of his horrid stench, greasy flesh and rotting clothing. Ugh! Every page has some point of disgust or profanity that my mind was reeling within a few pages. This is not an easy task for an author, so I fell in love with the book. Also, my cat was named Mephisto, so there’s that.

Later still, on another bookstore jaunt I found Ushers Passing by Robert R. McCammon. Those who have read it may see faint parallel in the Black River House to the House of Usher as imagined by McCammon. This is another author who can create stark characters with simple words. I was entranced by the secret dynasty going on in the house as I was by his style of describing the particularly fantastic with plain language.

On the other hand, my first foray into horror began with Stephen King. Long form dark fiction at its best and I was likely too young to be reading it! My teachers found Pet Semetary on my desk in grade four and that certainly raised a few eyebrows. From it, I learned a lot about dialogue at an early age. King’s The Shining followed in grade five. After re-reading these books later in life and again later still, I see that not a lot was lost on my tiny elementary school brain. Some may think it would warp me, but rest assured I was closely monitored by my parents and grandmother. They were on hand to answer the endless stream of questions raised by those novels and discuss anything particularly terrifying. During this time, I had also asked for a typewriter. So, in that most direct sense, The Shining had a massive influence that spurred me to write in earnest.

Great choices Lydia. If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Well, I am sure that most authors think of this in the shower every day. Those that say they don’t are likely lying. My main character, Gunnar, is impossible to wrap around a living person. Other people would have to do that for me.  This is something I thought about while editing and it is just impossible for me to assign an existing face to this person I have known so long in my own head. He does look a lot like Dana Ashbrook who could certainly pull it off… he certainly has the right style. For Solomon, his counterpart, I have one clear option. Werner Daehn. Certainly, in the big black book of casting there are loads of actors who have the right look, sound and attitude, but this is who is in my mind. Sinthia is a tough one. She is a little Helena Bonham-Carter and a little Anna Paquin. It is tough to put her in a mold. When I discussed this with an artist friend who created concept art for each main character, I basically left it to him. I had reams of notes and discussion for all the others, but for her I wanted a ridiculously fuckable zombie. She has dark hair and scars all over. That is about all I got for Sinthia. Someday I will stumble across an actress who ‘is’ her but so far none have really fit perfectly.

We all know the best way to get our works produced into the major blockbuster we see playing endlessly in our heads is to get it onto one of those coveted bestsellers lists. So tell us, what is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

Get a lawyer who doubles as a bookkeeper since I am thrifty that way. I would also take an immediate break and consult a stylist since skinny jeans and hermit hoodies are really not great eye candy. Then I would change my phone number.

Oh, and celebrate. Certainly.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Music is not something most would think of as a vice, but that is the constant one. It creates ambiance or enhances moods. It can be a subtle sound in the background or a loud stark wall to throw words at. Writing keeps me from my vices! I enjoy beer and gin, as well as cigarettes, coffee and chocolate like anyone. Though, I tend to slip into a near coma and not snack, drink, smoke or talk while I am in the process of writing. If sex is a vice, then writing keeps me from that too. All of these I treat as just average things humans enjoy since I don’t have an addictive personality. I can go without, and survive. Imagination is the only vice that I turn to when writing. I am a daydreamer and a storyteller. I think and I talk and I write. Imagination is one thing I can’t go without. I would rather be sitting quietly and lost in that place I go with stories than be doing any of the unhealthy or fattening things listed above.

Well said Lydia, well said! What do you do when you’re not writing?

Typical things. Often I complain that I don’t have time to read or watch horror movies; both things I love to do. Working a nearly full-time job and acting as teaching assistant takes up a lot of my time. Blogging falls by the wayside when I am writing fiction as I write for Ottawa Horror and my own blogs as well. Journalism is another passion, so the world technically stops when I am on assignment. On top of all that, I am a bit of a neat-freak so cleaning fills up the rest of my time. Nothing clears the mind or helps a mangled passage like washing dishes or mopping hardwood!

Oddly, I just realized that most of the things I do when not writing are actually writing. So, I guess I could add that I rented a cello once for a month. Does that count?

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

It is a toss-up here as I have three works on the go. Nightface II, an untitled short about hair that is in first draft, and a half-written short about the zombie apocalypse are all on the slab. As these opening lines may change, here are the first nine lines of the upcoming novel.

Car headlights flicked across the end of the turnaround, splashing light across the massive house. The abandoned mansion looked even bigger in the dark.

Finch had driven up here with her before, but that time she had her period. It was a lot easier for him to keep his hands on his side of the gearshift that day. He was into Liz, for sure, but not into getting blood all over.

They had talked about her ex that time. Well, she had talked non-stop while he listened and feigned concern. It had been daylight that time too, before meeting with friends to swim nearby where the river swelled and the current relaxed.

This time, it was getting dark.

Awesome Lydia – thanks for sharing! If you would like to connect with Lydia, you can find her on Twitter, her website, or her blog. Now it’s time to take a quick peek into Lydia’s novel Nightface...

NIGHTFACE - Cover May 2012Vicious, gory, and not a love story. Nightface is vampire evolution. 

Gunnar could not remember a thing. Who he was or where he came from. Flashes come, like distant lightening. A song, an abandoned house of isolated opulence, visions of the undead… 

Then he meets Sinthia – the only person who recognizes him – her body marked with hundreds of scars.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Don’t forget that clicking on the title will take you straight to Amazon!

Don’t forget to join me next week for another exciting interview!