What Are You Reading?

Christian had this idea that you guys might enjoy knowing a few of our favorite things. Maybe he was wrong, but we’re going to tell you anyway. This week, let’s all share our favorite book. Yes, he expects us to narrow it down to just ONE. Sigh.

 

Christian: For me, this is almost impossible to answer. But I guess that’s the fun in trying. Of all the books I have ever read, probably the one that had the most lasting impact was Luke Reinhart’s Dice Man. It’s about a guy who gets sick of making decisions in life, so decides to literally roll a dice and leave everything to fate. It’s enlightening, and inspirational. I read it when I was at university, so I probably particularly impressionable. I even spent a few weeks living the dice life in Spain. It was an unforgettable time of personal growth. And beer.

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Peter: Impossible to choose one, you may as well ask me to pick a favourite limb (my right arm, if you are asking). But the ones that spring to mind first are The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noah Finn & the Art of Suicide by E. Rachael Hardcastle, and Red (extreme horror) by D.J. Doyle. That said, I’m also a big fan of Dr Seuss.

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Steve: The book I return to most often is Terry Pratchett’s Guards Guards. It’s a narrow favourite to all my other favourite Discworld books, but it’s still my favourite. I don’t think there’s any more of an appropriate view point to take in a fantastical city than those who have to arrest the drunks and sort out the domestic disputes. Guards Guards introduced us all to The Watch, and the no nonsense grizzled copper Sam Vimes. Some of the best Discworld stories gravitate around these wonderful characters.

Renee: I have a lot of favorite books. Narnia Chronicles, IT, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Outlander, The Mayfair Witches Series, Game of Thrones, and so many more that I’ve read more than once would have to be at the top of the list. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

So, I’m not really answering the question.

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Liam: I believe that it is thermodynamically impossible for me to choose only one book as my favorite ever. There are just so many that have had a dramatic impact on my life, and that have influenced my writing. That being said, I’m going to pick one at random, and go with Dennis McKiernan’s Eye of the Hunter.

Katrina: Of course you’d ask me to choose ONE book. Sadist. I don’t know if it’s my FAVORITE of all my favorites (of which Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, and The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin rank pretty high), but I reread The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern at least once a year. It’s a multi-layered story with half a dozen points of view, unforgettable characters, vivid imagery, and an extraordinarily inventive circus that appears only at night and never announced in which two magicians battle each other using the circus as their chessboard and the performers and patrons as their pieces. Morgenstern is (supposedly) writing a new book—I’ve been waiting on something from her for YEARS—and I hope it can hold a candle to The Night Circus.

Mike: Impossible to answer, let the reader choose: Boneland where every word is imbued with power.

Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy as well as Blood Meridian. The Trilogy is a magnificent reminder that you cannot neatly divide history into self-contained epochs. In some parts of America (the Texan/Mexican border) the ‘old west’ still existed in 1900 its ghost lingering until 1952 where the trilogy ends. Blood Meridian on the other hand is firmly in the old west where sunsets are soaked in blood.

Wolfhall Hilary Mantell. After the first chapter you are so thoroughly in Thomas Cromwell’s head you can never get out, nor do you want to.

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Okay, now’s your chance to give a shout out to your favorite writers. Let us know which books you can’t forget.

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August’s Deviant News and Books

In July, we had all kinds of things happening, and it looks like the Dolls won’t be slowing down in August.

First, C.M. Saunders is having a sale! Out of Time, Apartment 14F, No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches, and Human Waste are all 0.99 for a very limited time. Grab ‘em quick.

 

Find these and the rest of his books here:

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Saunders’s latest short story, Lakeside Park, is included in the anthology Terrors Unimagined out now on Left Hand Publishing.

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Lakeside Park is an old-fashioned creature tale about a down-on-his-luck, ex-alcoholic custodian who agrees to take a job looking after a remote caravan park deep in the Welsh valleys during the winter. Suffice to say he doesn’t get the anticipated peace and quiet.

 

 

Also, check out the super snazzy trailer!

https://youtu.be/ow4XfWt2q7w

You’ll also be able to find one of his drabbles, My Tormentor, on the Horror Tree on July 29th.

Meanwhile, on his blog, he takes an introspective look at Ringu, the original Japanese version of the seminal movie Ring. Next up for the RetView treatment is the Hammer Horror classic The Witchfinder General. Finally, , if you’re a non-fiction reader with a taste for the paranormal, he has an article on the Nelson Mandela Effect (false memory syndrome) in the latest issue of Fortean Times (FT368).

And we’ll never forget Steve Wetherell’s debut installment in the Authors and Dragons “Shingles” series, The Monkey’s Penis. In August, Steve’s second Shingles tale, “Put Your Hand in My Ass” will be available. Pre-order it now!

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Will Monroe wants to be a famous entertainer more than anything, and he knows the high school talent show is the first step. Unfortunately he has no talent.

What he needs is a mentor. What he gets is Sloppy- an enchanted puppet with weird sexual proclivities and an extremely problematic approach to comedy.

Does Will have what it takes to make it in the cut-throat world of showbiz? And how deep is he willing to stick his hand to find out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In July, Steve also had a story included in Beyond Midnight: Volume One.

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Magic. Mystery. Mayhem.

Dive into the pages of this alluring anthology and enter a world of mystery and adventure. Stalk the streets of sprawling metropolis’ and hunt terrifying creatures. Explore towering cities where the supernatural is everyday and magic is as common as coffee.

Devour 13 all-new urban fantasy stories from debut and best selling authors.

Pick up your copy of Beyond Midnight today and join the adventure.

 

 

 

In July, Renee Miller released Eat the Rich, with Hindered Souls Press (audio and paperback coming very soon).

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Some fantastic reviews are already in from Book Review Village, Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews, Hellnotes, and more. Renee’s also been visiting a few blogs, including Kam’s Place, Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews, and Kendall Reviews. Renee also wrote a little thing called The Women We Should Be Writing over at Inkheist.

And if you missed it, check out her Eat the Rich podcast over at Deadman’s Tome. Lots of shits and giggles happening there. Also at Deadman’s Tome, look for Renee’s story BITER in The Meat Grinder contest. Stories should be up the first of August, so if you want her to win, you should go on over, read the story, like it (unless you hate it) and comment.

On August 14th, look for Renee’s dark comedy, Contractual Obligations, in Books and Boos Press’s “A Sharp Stick in the Eye” anthology.A Sharp Stick in the Eye—Front Cover

 

Renee will also be releasing Howl, an erotic horror novella, with Grinning Skull Press later this summer, as part of GSP’s Grave Marker series.

And finally, we missed it in July’s announcements, but it’s not too late to take advantage of the sale. So, Katrina Monroe’s Sacrificial Lamb Cake is just 99 cents from July 26th to 30th. Definitely take advantage of this awesome deal.

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And that’s all for August (so far.) We’ll try to keep the excitement at this fever pitch in the fall as well.

 

 

Negative Nancy’s

Negative reviews suck. Doesn’t matter if the reviewer is making good points or if they’re just being malicious. They all suck. Each of us has our own way of dealing with them, right or wrong, and we thought this might help some of you dealing with the same for the first time, or maybe it’ll help you decide, as a reader, how to write that review that says you didn’t like a book at all.

Christian: If they have something constructive to say, I take what I can from them. Writing is a constant learning curve. I’m better at it now than I was when I was twenty, but if I wrote until I was three hundred, there would still be room for improvement. For some reason, though, most negative reviews just tend to be scathing and offer nothing of value whatsoever. That’s how you spot the malicious ones. They just say something like ‘Awful!’ or ‘Terrible!’ Thankfully, I haven’t had too many of them.

One of the worst ones I’ve had was from a woman who read my novel Sker House and called me a misogynist just because one of the characters (a 21-year old student) used the term ‘friend zone.’ That was harsh, and untrue. I would have liked the chance to explain to the woman that whatever our characters do or say, it isn’t a reflection of the writer’s core values. If it was, Thomas Harris would be a serial killer.

Renee: I try not to think about the negative reviews that don’t offer me some constructive criticism I can use to improve in the future. I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had any truly nasty reviews. (Probably just jinxed myself.) There was one reviewer that called me and my book a man-hating, nazi-feminist, blah, blah, etc. All I could do is laugh and move on, because I can’t do much about that kind of thinking, even if it’s a totally inaccurate description of me and the book.

Most of the not so great ones at least tell me why they didn’t like the story/book. That’s helpful and I can use that moving forward. I’ll admit to bitching about them in private, though.

Steve: Poorly. Especially the ones that make a valid point. I hate those suckers.

Peter: I have been very lucky in not having received many negative reviews, and when they do come I’m way more confident now that I could take / ignore any criticism. The only 1 star review I have had was actually from a close family member, so that stung, but I don’t think they actually read the book.

Liam: I stalk them online and plot their death. Not really, I just shrug and move on. Just the fact that they actually read it counts as a win for me. Everybody has different likes and dislikes, and not everybody is going to like my stuff. They probably absolutely love something that I detest.

Michael: Purse my lips.

Katrina: I just pretend they aren’t there, like I do with ALL the problems in my life.

 

Flame Wars

By C.M. Saunders

I’ve had a few interesting experiences recently. My life is full of interesting experiences. I seem to attract them. But these particular interesting experiences involved social media. Wow. What a strange world we’ve created. Sometimes, it’s a free-for-all. Other times it’s worse.

A couple of weeks ago, a guy sent me a friend request on Facebook, closely followed by a copy-and-pasted ‘Please fund my Kickstarter’ message. He was trying to raise funds to make a horror movie. I replied, saying I would be happy to support him, if he would support me in return. If he would be so kind as to buy one of my books, I would make a donation to his Kickstarter scheme. Seems like a fair deal, right?

You know what he did? He blocked me.

Even Kickstarter guy couldn’t match another dude I ran into recently for pure assholery This guy claimed to be a ‘Hollywood Celebrity.’ I messaged him, out of genuine interest, and asked how he won this celebrity status. In all fairness, he took time out of his busy superstar schedule to respond with a chirpy, ‘Hard work, motherfucker!’

I replied with, ‘What work is that?’ Quite reasonable, I thought. I wanted to get to know my new celebrity friend. Yup, that sucker blocked me, too.

I HATE it when people block me. I rarely feel strongly enough to block others. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a universal rule. Some blockings are completely justified. Like the fake profiles fronted up by stolen pics of babes in bikinis that just want to spam your page with ads for sunglasses, or the ridiculously attractive Filipino girls who want you to send them money for a new phone. You can also add angry exes, potential sex offenders, terrorists, asylum seekers, and assorted gold diggers and career criminals to that list. But the truth is, it’s rarely so dramatic. Most blockings result from trivial online disagreements.

For example, you might be involved in one of those ridiculous group chats at two in the morning discussing the merits (or not) of Metallica’s new album, when someone disagrees with something you say and instantly hits the block button. That really gets my goat. It’s the equivalent of farting and leaving the room. What would happen if we all just blocked everyone who had a different opinion to us? Our narrow online world would soon be populated by a bunch of people who all think the same way we do. Our online world would become an echo chamber. And how boring would that be?

It’s a sad indictment of the human condition that most people just want to hear empty platitudes. They want their ego stroked. They want you to agree with them.

They want validation.

What they DON’T want is to be challenged. Some do, obviously. That’s why they actively seek out controversial topics and discussions and say ridiculous things, just to get a reaction. But the vast majority just want people to agree with them. Say how they are right, and everyone else is wrong.

Well, here’s an idea. How about us, as a race, manning the fuck up? If someone doesn’t agree with you, stand and fight your ground, put your ideas and opinion across in a calm, rational manner. Help the other person see things the way you do. Don’t just go crying off like a little gutless little prick. That’s weak.

Some people jealously guard their Facebook page, as if anyone actually cares what they say on it. They keep their ‘friends’ to a minimum and have rules like, ‘If I don’t know you in real life, I don’t want to know you on FB.’

That’s understandable. But it’s not how I roll. My Facebook page is a free-for-all. An open window into my life. Being a struggling indie writer (we’re all struggling) I need the exposure, so the more ‘friends’ I have and the more interaction I can promote, the better. It’s an integral part of my platform. I also move around a lot. I’ve lived in eight cities in three countries over the past decade or so. Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch with people who would otherwise disappear from my life. So yeah, my Facebook page is utter carnage.

One of my pet hates is people coming on to one of my social media profiles and telling me off. My pages are my domain, you may as well run in my house and yell at me. Not cool. The Brexit debacle of 2016, closely followed by the American election, prompted a whole new level of Internet assholery. One acquaintance wrote ‘Get a better brain, get better friends,’ on my wall then promptly unfriended me. I messaged him to ask what his problem was, and apparently my crime was ‘liking’ something he didn’t approve of. I shit you not.

In the resultant fallout from Brexit, I was called things I’d never been called before. Right wing thug, fascist, Nazi sympathiser.

The problem stemmed from the fact that at the time I had a red dragon as my cover picture on my Facebook page, because Wales were doing well at the Euros (it’s a football tournament). Some people decided that because I had a dragon on my page, I must be a racist. What’s gone so wrong with society that people confuse national pride with racism? When you take these accusers to task, they try to show their superior intellect by nit-picking. In one conversation I misplaced an apostrophe, in another I used the common abbreviation ‘U’ instead of ‘you.’ Both were jumped upon with great delight, as if that was the only thing that could justify their argument. MISPLACED APOSTROPHE? HA! YOU MUST BE A THICK RACIST!!

Not really, mate.

Block.

The saddest and most ironic thing of all was that these ‘Remainers’ who supposedly pride themselves on a liberal attitude and racial tolerance made a snap judgement based on a picture. That isn’t very tolerant. They believed what they WANTED to believe. They wanted to assume the moral high ground and label me a ‘Leaver’ and, by extension, right-wing fascist scum. The truth is, I didn’t even vote to leave. Okay, I didn’t vote to remain, either. I was one of the apathetic 27.3% who couldn’t be arsed to vote at all.

More recently, I made a tongue-in-cheek comment on a friend’s status, about him posting too many statuses, and one of his friends told me to go and kill myself.

Harsh.

And another block. I don’t need the hostility.

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Use social networks as tools, not weapons, and don’t be dicks.

That is all.

 

61yusXRXjwLX3, the third collection of fiction by C.M. Saunders featuring revised versions of stories taken from the pages of The Literary Hatchet, Siren’s Call, Morpheus Tales, Gore Magazine, Indie Writer’s Review and several anthologies, is available now. X3 also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and exclusive artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman. 

Meet the airline passenger who makes an alarming discovery, the boy who takes on an evil troll, an ageing couple facing the apocalypse, a jaded music hack on the trail of the Next Big Thing, the gambler taking one last spin, and many more.