Aleister Crowley Meets Elizabeth McBride

by Michael Keyton

Every book has a life changing moment. There are four in The Gift. 

Lizzie ran, unsure of the consequences or whether she meant to. She ran, veering right over cobbles and tramlines until tall, more substantial buildings enveloped her. She imagined she heard her aunt’s penetrating shriek and ran all the faster, hurling herself into Lord Street and crashing into a middle-aged man who held her and laughed.

“Who are you running from? Have you stolen something?” He sounded amused.

Lizzie struggled in his arms. “Get off me. Let me go!”

He lifted her up so that her face was inches from his. She smelled tobacco and a sweet underlying fragrance that made her feel sick. His eyes, brown and compelling, bore into hers. “You think I will hurt you in a crowded street. I am not going to hurt you, and you are not going to run away.” His eyes confused, hard like glass, and a moment later drawing her into a brown swirling ocean.

He put her down gently and squeezed her left shoulder. “Now why are you running? I want to help you, Lizzie.”

“How do you know my name?”

He seemed surprised. “You fight back. Good. Now, you think it unfair that I should know your name. Well then, my name is Aleister Crowley, and we are on equal terms.” He shook her hand but didn’t release it. “So tell me who you are running from?”

From the end of the street came a high shriek. “Lizzie Tobin! Come here this minute.”

“That’s not my name,” Lizzie hissed. “It’s McBride. Lizzie McBride.”

“ McBride, a fine name. Do you want to go with her?”

Lizzie slumped at her aunt’s approach.

“Do you want to go with her?” Crowley insisted

“No. I hate her.”

“Hate can move mountains. Wait here. Don’t move.”

Crowley released her hand and moved, blocking her from Aunt Joyce.

“Will you excuse me, sir? Lizzie, come here at once!”

He bowed. Lizzie imagined him smiling, imagined his eyes. His voice was soft and she knew he was going to betray her. “I caught her just now. A wilful girl, if you’ll allow me.”

“I’ll allow you, Mr…?”

“Crowley.”

“Crowley. She is most wilful. Most wilful indeed. The sooner we’re at sea won’t be too soon for me!”

“It’s a pity they cannot be trained…like dogs.”

Lizzie tried to run but her legs wouldn’t move. She watched Crowley bend lower as though whispering something intimate, and then her aunt drop on to all fours, barking madly and turning her head as though guarding a bone. Pedestrians stopped, some forming a loose circle around the deranged woman, and Crowley looking almost as shocked as them. Lizzie began laughing and at once her legs regained movement. Then she saw Uncle Jim, hovering uncertainly at the far end of the street.

Crowley reclaimed her hand. “I think we should go now… Did you enjoy that?”

“I did. I did.” Lizzie felt guilty but she had enjoyed it. She wanted to turn back and see more. Was it bad to hate someone so much – her own mother’s sister? Her smile faded.

“Don’t feel guilty or sad, Lizzie. Those two things will kill you.”

 

There are many subplots in the Gift Trilogy, the most powerful of which is the slow but remorseless decline of Aleister Crowley. Born in 1875, he is a charismatic twenty-seven year old when he bumps into the fictional Lizzie McBride on a Liverpool Street.

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Explorer, mountaineer, poet and magician he was approaching the height of his powers, and there are stories of him talking to otherwise sensible men, who suddenly and without warning, fell to all fours and began barking like dogs. He was associated with unexplained deaths and certainly destroyed the health and sanity of women who succumbed to him.

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 But even ‘the wickedest man in the world’ could not go on for ever.  Magic, black or otherwise, and the corrosive effects of drug taking on an industrial scale, wreaked havoc on Crowley’s mental and physical health, so that by the end of World War II he had become an amiable, doddering shadow of what he’d once been.

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To some an object still of veneration, to others a source of ridicule and perhaps disappointment.  I like to remember Aleister Crowley as he’s first introduced in the book, and not what he’s reduced to in ‘Blood Fall,’ the final book of the Trilogy.

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Superpowered

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? This question is harder than you’d think to answer, because there are so many possibilities. The Dolls have considered their limitations as mere mortals, and we all have a power we’d love to claim, even for a little while:

Steve: The ability to change people’s minds in internet arguments. I realise that’s very fantastical, but indulge me.

Renee: Time travel and/or immortality. I can’t make up my mind. It’d be nice to have both. Although, if you can travel through time, isn’t that a sort of immortality? I guess it depends on the rules of the time travel ability, right? I don’t know. Let’s go with immortality. I’m pretty clumsy and I’m sure my death will be the result of some stupid and/or embarrassing thing that could’ve been avoided. With immortality, I can’t hurt myself too badly.

Katrina: ENDLESS ENERGY. I’m sitting here chugging a Redbull as we speak. GIVE ME WINGS.

Peter: The ability to slow time down so that I could get more done! With the magazine that I put together each month, and Boxes of Blood (horror paperback delivery service), as well as promoting my own work and a huge stack of books to read, there is little time for writing.

Michael: Extreme longevity in peak physical fitness so I could do more things.

Christian: I’d like the ability to travel through time, please. Would that be considered a superpower? It would be much more useful than being invisible or some shit. Imagine the famous historical mysteries I could solve! I’d unmask Jack the Ripper, find out who really killed JFK, and invest all my money in Microsoft.

What about you guys? Any superpowers you’d be stoked to have? What about shitty ones? Are there any you’d think would be more of a burden than a gift?

Ambition is everything when you have a blank page.

by Michael Keyton

 

Writing is a democracy embracing the great and the lesser, the starting line for all being that first blank page.

A short story sometimes emerges from a single but vivid image in a dream—occasionally two or three. The secret then is to give them time to ferment (but not too long) prod them a bit, and then begin writing. Often the subconscious has done the heavy work and a story emerges with just a little help from: Who, What, Where, Why, and the shit-stirrer, What if? The five darker dwarves Snow White left in the forest. One short story came from a single lit window in a house I’d thought empty—again employing those dwarves that sculpt words into stories.

The novel is an entirely different kettle of fish and there is no one-entry point. The great divide is between the so-called ‘Plotters’ and ‘Pantsers’ ie those who plot everything, key moments, turning points etc etc. This is something I could never do, possibly because I lack the mental discipline, possibly because if I’d written the plot out in such detail I’d likely lose any further interest in it. If you know what’s coming next, why bother? Bit like painting by numbers. And yet people I know and respect swear by it, though I suspect they’ll readily bend the framework when characters suddenly develop a life of their own.

The ‘Pantser’ ie writing by the seat of your pants and not fully knowing what’s coming next, has its own dangers. You may lose yourself in the forest and never come out.

I suppose my method, like many writers, is a bit of both. The first chapter is the kindling, its purpose to start a small fire; if all you get is flicker and smoke, you might decide to start again or just give up on it. Usually though, the instinct is right. You find yourself with a nice, warming blaze you’re invested in— you want to know what’s going to happen next. If you’re lucky, you may get another two or three chapters from that initial blaze, but then you’ll stop, look for patterns, probabilities and the characters that have suddenly sprung to life. Then you’ll begin plotting – a few chapters at a time until a general theme becomes apparent, even perhaps a conclusion.

This was how it worked with The Gift and the two other books in the trilogy (January and Spring next year) In retrospect the books almost wrote themselves, though that was not how it seemed at the time.

This latest book has no title, just a strong instinct it will work but as yet no very strong sense of direction—a feeble tug of a fish or two, but no Moby Dick.

At the moment it’s akin to staring at the lines on your palm, trying to work out a pattern, seeing where and how they might join up. I’m 18K in and it’s more of a patchwork quilt than a novel; a patchwork quilt with several large and promising patterns.

And that’s the beauty of a ‘Work in Progress’. You’re under no obligation to start at the beginning and end at the end. There is a beginning, though it’s not set in stone; there are several well developed characters with aims and antagonists. Some are singing loudly in their invisible cages surrounded by airless voids, not yet in contact with anyone else but themselves. Some are more fortunate, singing to each other from interlinked cages. Others are less canaries than embryos waiting to be born—names and rudimentary functions but little if anything else.

If it comes to life, it will be a dystopian Trollope, Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of Vanities set in a world falling apart.

Ambition is everything when you have a blank page.

 

 

TV Time

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 TV show. Some of us have a bit of an addiction to television (that would be me), so this question was pretty tough to answer.

Christian: Kolchak: The Night Stalker. I remember watching re-runs as a kid (the two movies preceding the TV series came out before I was born) and being terrified and captivated in equal measures. It’s about a newspaper reporter, played by Darren McGavin, who investigates inexplicable crimes. It’s probably fair to say this show sparked my twin obsessions with writing and the supernatural. It was never very commercially successful, I think it was cancelled after a single season, but has since attained cult status. Well-deserved, too.

Mike: Frasier. Incomparable.

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Liam: This is going to date me, but I’m going to have to go with M*A*S*H*; this only because the ancient, black and white Maverick would really make me seem older than dirt. Today’s television just sucks.

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Renee: I think Liam hasn’t been watching the right shows. Yes, back in the day we had some excellent television, but a lot of it was sugar-coated, because you just couldn’t cover topics and show content we can now. Maybe some people see that as bad, but I don’t.

There are a ton of fantastic series from “today” that I’d list as favorites, including Lucifer, Ozark, House, Ray Donovan, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who (I like the modern shows more than the original, sorrynotsorry), Banshee (first couple of seasons only), and Bosch. Right now, my ultimate, all-time favorite as to be The Handmaid’s Tale. Probably because it’s one of my favorite books. Elizabeth Moss’s portrayal of June Osborne (Offred) is FANTASTIC. I’m often disappointed with film adaptations of books I’ve loved, because the way the actors play favorite characters don’t match what’s in my head. Moss is better than anything I could’ve imagined.

Steve: Three million years into deep space- the mining ship Red Dwarf…

Red Dwarf is the greatest sci-fi comedy tv show ever made. There are slicker, there are better produced, but Red Dwarf stands out precisely because of its embracing of English crapness. When the last human alive is a ludicrous slob, and his only companion is the holographic resurrection of his uptight bunkmate, you already have a great premise for a sitcom. But the show rarely rests on the laurels of its high concept. The best humour is the banter between Lister and Rimmer, possibly one of the greatest comedy duos in TV history. Not only that, but the offhand references to life on earth in the not too distant future belay the low budget and tight sit-com dialogue, creating the kind of casual world building most sci-fi authors take books and book to achieve.

Katrina: I feel like there need to be categories here. One can’t just lump Keeping up With the Kardashians (my favorite mindless television) with Elementary (my favorite crime series) and expect to choose one or the other. However, if I were forced to watch one TV show for the rest of my life, I’d have to go with Doctor Who.

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Peter: This changes all the time, as I discover new things, but most recently I’ve really enjoyed Happy!, 13 Reasons Why, and Ozark. The only show I’ve watched more than once is The Wire which is awesome in my opinion, and I did love Dexter until that last ever episode destroyed everything.

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Tony: Without a doubt, Game of Thrones. Even though this is epic fantasy, something I don’t often read or watch, the series is so well written and played with second-to-none special effects, this is a clear winner. I watched the series twice and enjoyed it so much more the second time through. Runner up is Westworld, which again plays into a common theme I write. Honorable mention, The Wire. This is a genre I don’t often watch but I found this gripping. The portrayal of crime and the inner city culture, for the most part, was honest and revealing.

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We know you guys prefer books. I mean, TV? Pfft. It’s for ignorant heathens. Pick up a book, for crying out loud! Still, most of us have a guilty pleasure and TV is often in the list, so what’s your favorite show?

 

September’s Deviant News and Books

Last month, C.M. Saunders announced that his short story Lakeside Park, was included in the anthology Terrors Unimagined, which is out now on Left Hand Publishing. 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.

Full details and ToC can be found here:

Also, check out the super snazzy trailer!

This month, Christian’s slowed down a bit, but not entirely. Get Sker House free on Sept ember 7,8 and 9th, and get ready for his newest release, a reissue of “Dead of Night” in October. It’ll be available for pre-order in September, so watch our Facebook page for dates.

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Young lovers Nick and Maggie decide to escape the city to spend a romantic weekend camping deep in the idyllic countryside. The excursion begins well, but soon degenerates into a maelstrom of terror when one of them comes face to face with an undead civil war soldier. They flee into the wilderness, but soon find themselves trapped in a deserted cabin and engaged in a mortal battle with a group of long-dead Confederate bushwackers, in the dead of night.

 

 

 

Finally, check out a couple of new entries in Christian’s RetView series.

And don’t forget, Steve Wetherell added a new story to the Authors and Dragons “Shingles” series called, “Put Your Hand in My Ass.” Get your copy here. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

As we mentioned in July and August, Renee Miller released Eat the Rich, with Hindered Souls Press. In the coming months, the audio book will also be available. Renee also has a story, “THE CARTEL” entered into Deadman’s Tome’s The Meat Grinder contest for the month of August. Still a few more days to give it a read and share your thoughts in the comments. Will she win? Stay tuned…

And in case you missed it, look for Renee’s dark comedy, Contractual Obligations, in Books and Boos Press’s “A Sharp Stick in the Eye” anthology, which was released on August 14th.

 

 

Renee will also be releasing HOWL, an erotic horror novella, with Grinning Skull Press soon, as part of GSP’s Grave Marker series. Look for her erotic horror story, VIRTUAL HEALING in Lycan Valley Press’s GAME OVER: BLACK BOOK SERIES VOLUME 2.

Coming October 16th from Unnerving, you can pre-order Renee’s horror novella, Stranded, now. Also coming in October, Licking the Devil’s Horn, also from Unnerving. A paperback-only collection that includes Stranded, Cats Like Cream and Church.

 

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Six contestants pair off into three teams of one man and one woman as part of a pilot season for a new reality show called Stranded. The challenge: Survive thirty days in a hostile and brutal environment for a chance to split a half-million-dollar prize. 

Victor, the show’s creator, chooses the northern Arctic as the first location, but after a single day, his mistake is clear: They are not alone. 

Their presence awakens a relentless and unforgiving predator that feeds on greed, lust and fear. 

In this game, the lucky ones get to die.

Off Limits

Recently we talked about the one subject we’d never write about. As writers and creative types, it’s nice to think we’re open to almost anything, but most people have a certain subject/theme that’s taboo for them. Here’s where each of us draws a line (or doesn’t).

Liam: Is this a trick question? Seriously, anything I put down here, no matter how bizarre, I’ll just end up cursed to write about someday. Once, I would have said “I’ll never write about a physic with a chipped tea cup on Key West…” We all know how that ended up.

Katrina: I don’t think there are any subjects off-limits for me. I could probably write about anything, given the right context.

Peter: I haven’t found anything that I wouldn’t write about…yet. I think if it’s well enough written, and an essential part of the story, then no subject is taboo. After all, writers shouldn’t be afraid to push boundaries. But there is no merit in writing just for shock value.

Christian: Animal or child abuse. Some writers consciously tackle taboo topics others shy away from. They think they are being brave or edgy. But you know what? There’s a reason most people stay away from certain topics, even in the horror world. And that’s because there are some things nobody wants to read about.

Renee: I used to say I’d never write about child abuse or about a child or animal abuse/murder, but that was kind of naive. I wouldn’t write a graphic play-by-play of the actual event, because it would be purely for shock value in most situations, which does nothing to enhance the story, but I don’t shy away from having my characters deal with these things. So, I don’t think anything is off limits for me. Not yet anyway…

Michael: Paedophilia because I couldn’t /wouldn’t enter their headspace.

Steve: I’m a scab picking son of a bitch and I’d write about anything. Whether I’d let anyone read it, though, is another question.

Best Movies Ever?

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 movie. Like books, movies are hard to narrow down to a single, all-time favorite, but we did try. Most of us anyway.

Liam: There are many movies that I can, and do, watch again and again. The three that I quote the most (and I quote them almost daily, even though most folks have no idea what I’m talking about) are Animal House, The Great Race (with Tony Curtis and Jack lemon,) and The Scalphunters (Burt Lancaster, Ozzie Davis, and Telly Savalas.) If I absolutely have to only pick one… I’m going to go with The Scalphunters, because I love the soundtrack too.

Katrina: Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Don’t @ me.

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Mike: Barry Lyndon.

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**We googled it. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072684/ You’re welcome.

Tony: There’s a list of favorite movies and they’re usually the ones I’ve watched more than once. It’s rare anymore I watch anything twice, but there are certain movies that are more enjoyable the second time around. The most recent ones are The Fountain, Mr. Nobody, Inception and Bladerunner 2049. They all have stunning cinematography and a layered or non-linear story arc. But all time favorite? I suppose that’s Bladerunner, the original. I think I watched that 50 times in college, back in the day when I could watch something that much. That was the movie that really influenced what I write today: what it means to be human. Side note, I’ve watched Stepbrothers half a dozen times in the last couple of years, so I suppose that deserves a mention.

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Peter: If I could choose two, they would probably be Pan’s Labyrinth and City of God. They certainly rank highly on the list, but so does Dumb and Dumber which is my level of humour.

Christian: My choice might surprise a few people. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a 2008 romantic comedy written by Jason Segel, who also stars in it with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Russell Brand, who steals every scene he’s in. It’s pretty much the perfect movie. Great script, amazing acting, lots of belly laughs, a touch of sentimentality, and beautiful scenery. Watch the unrated version. It’s longer. “When life gives you lemons, just say ‘fuck the lemons,’ and bail.”

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Words to live your life by.

Renee: It’s a tie between Labyrinth and Dirty Dancing. I’m a sucker for fantasy and happy endings. I know, I don’t give a lot of happily ever after in my writing, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love it. Also, David Bowie and Patrick Swayze dancing around in tight pants? Come on.

Steve: The most influential movie in my life was without a doubt Evil Dead 2. It’s such a unique and interestingly handled schlock horror, and an iconic cult classic- often mimicked, never bettered. I first found this movie as a surly teenager, and there’s something about its low budget charm that really got me thinking about the mechanics of film making. What followed was ten years of plotting out my path to indie film making, which sadly ended when I realised no one was going to give me a big sack of money. Still, time spent on your passions is not time wasted. Shit, I think I can actually hear my student loans laughing at me…

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Now it’s your turn. Tell us what we should be watching.

 

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.

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.