Monday, October 31, 2011

SSP's Latest Release, The Fall of Dorkhun by D.A. Adams, Cover Art and Hardcover Offer Unveiled!

For Immediate Release
November 1, 2011
D.A. Adam's The Fall of Dorkhun, Book Three of the Brotherhood of Dwarves Series, Unveiled with Limited Edition Hardcover Offer

Seventh Star Press proudly announces The Fall of Dorkhun, Book Three of the Brotherhood of Dwarves series by D.A. Adams.

The Fall of Dorkhun is now available for pre-order in both limited edition hardcover and softcover versions, both of which include special packages of collectibles. The limited edition hardcover run of 75 signed and numbered copies marks the newest addition to a growing line of affordable, high quality hardcover editions published by Seventh Star Press. The limited edition hardcover features an exclusive illustration commission not found in any other version, as well as a special signature page and unique ISBN number.

The Fall of Dorkhun also marks the debut of Seventh Star Press' newest artist, Bonnie Wasson. Bonnie created the cover art and illustrations for The Fall of Dorkhun, as well as for the forthcoming reissues of book one and book two in the series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, and Red Skies at Dawn. She joins Matthew Perry in producing some of the finest quality presentations in the small press world, creating an exciting and fast-growing collection of speculative fiction artwork in the process.

(two of the interior illustrations by Bonnie Wasson for The Fall of Dorkhun)

The Fall of Dorkuhn continues the story of the dwarf Roskin. In the newest adventure of the series, Roskin returns home to a kingdom divided by war with the ogres. On one side, his father desires to restore peace, but on the other, Master Sondious, seeking revenge for having been crippled, seeks to escalate aggression against the ogres Roskin and his friends make a desperate attempt to resolve the growing rift, but unknown to the dwarves, new and powerful menaces threaten to destroy the entire kingdom...

Living and working in East Tennessee, D. A. Adams is an established novelist, a farmer, a professor of English, and has contributed writing to literary as well as fine art publications. He also maintains an active blog, entitled "The Ramblings of D. A. Adams".

Limited edition hardcover and special softcover collectors packages include an assortment of collectible extras, such as a 14X20 art poster, bookmarks, a set of glossy art cards, a magnet, and a pair of buttons. Packages are scheduled to be shipped the second week of December, when the trade paperback will be made available everywhere, along with several eBook formats, including the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Sony eReaders and other electronic reading devices.

The Fall of Dorkhun was edited by Philip Hopkins. Book One, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, and Book Two, Red Skies at Dawn, will be reissued by the end of 2011, with two more books remaining in the series.

Those wanting to reserve one of the 75 limited edition hardcovers, or pre-order a softcover collectors package, should visit Seventh Star Press' online store at

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's site at

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Pick of Week: Asylum, by Mark Allan Gunnells

Pick of the Week (#9): Asylum, by Mark Allan Gunnells
(Zombie Feed Press)
-selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book:Curtis, a young college student is dragged to his first gay club by his best friend Jimmy for a night of dancing, drinking and sex... at least until the dead start to rise and attack the club. Trapped inside the Asylum are a small band of survivors, including a drag queen, a male stripper, a Vietnam vet bartender, a pretentious gay couple, and an unstable DJ. Will this motley crew survive the hungry undead rattling the sealed-off doors? Will they survive each other? Will they survive their own personal demons? Asylum recalls George Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead – except with more gore and a more current social message. (Synopsis from

The Author: Mark Allan Gunnells is 37 years old and holds a degree in English and Psychology. He is the author of the Sideshow Press Book A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT, WHISONANT/CREATURES OF THE LIGHT, TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIT VOL. 1, and DARK TREATS, as well as the novella ASYLUM from The Zombie Feed, the digital collection GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC from Bad Moon Books, and the forthcoming novel THE QUARRY from Evil Jester Press. A small town boy at heart, he still lives in his hometown of Gaffney, SC, with his partner of 10 years.

The Publisher: The Zombie Feed Press (TZF Press) is a specialized imprint of Apex Publications and publishes zombie novels, novellas, and anthologies.

My Comments: With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to focus in on a scary title. And since zombies seem to be the new rage this year, I figured I'd share one of my favorite small press zombie titles. With Asylum, Mark Allan Gunnells does a superb job with creating characters that could easily carry a three hundred page novel instead of a mere eighty pages of story. Breathing life into them, Gunnells invokes an immediate understanding that the majority of the warm bodies in the nightclub are nothing more than zombie food.

Gunnells takes the phrase: “Death is not prejudice,” and executes it to it's fullest, reminding the reader that Good Ol' Mr. Grim doesn't care what color your skin is, if your rich or poor, what religion you practice, or your sexual preference... because in the end everyone will be thinking the same thing: BRAINS!!


So make Mark Allan Gunnells' Asylum, from Zombie Feed Press, the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Asylum today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:



Friday, October 28, 2011

Change is in the Air, Let's Work Together.

Change is in the Air, Let's Work Together
-by Frank Hall

Change is in the air. It is affecting every part of our life. Governments are falling all around the world, and democracy is taking root. Even here in the states, we have the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread across the country and the world. It does not look like it is going away anytime soon.

For those of us in the book industry, be it as publisher, author, bookstore owner or even reader, change has come, and if we don't adapt, we will fail. Chain bookstores are shutting their doors. Publishing houses who have been around for years are having financial troubles, not paying royalties, and some are even closing down. It is time for us all to work together, to make sure we get through this.

Capitalism is the name of the game for the economy. Make money. That is everyone's goal. But just because I am out to make money doesn’t mean I have to hurt others to do it. In fact, in our industry, if we work together we make more money then if we fight amongst each other. For us it all equates to readers. The more of them there are, the more money we all make. Bookstores need to work with authors and publishing houses, particularly small presses, and get events going in the store and community. Authors need to talk to everybody they meet about their books, get those books in people's hands, and generate new readers.

Books are addicting, we all know this. There will never be enough time to read everything we want to read. But most readers will try. It is impossible for a single author to write fast enough to keep any one person occupied.

We can help our fellow authors by telling our fans about them. I have yet to meet a writer who is also not a reader, so I know we all have books we like. We just need to understand that now is the time for us to work together.

Change is here.

-Frank Hall
Owner of That Book Place and Hydra Publications

Visit the sites for That Book Place and Hydra Publications:

Monday, October 24, 2011

H. David Blalock's Angelkiller Unleashes New Urban Fantasy Series With Limited Edition Hardcover Offer

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2011
H. David Blalock's Angelkiller Unleashes New Urban Fantasy Series With Limited Edition Hardcover Offer

Seventh Star Press proudly unveils the cover art and pre-order windows for the limited hardcover and softcover editions of Angelkiller, book one of a provacative new urban fantasy series by H. David Blalock..

With only 75 limited edition hardcovers to be issued, Angelkiller continues the Seventh Star Press tradition of producing one of the best value limited hardcover editions available anywhere. The limited edition hardcover edition includes an exclusive illustration not found in any other version. The artist for the book and series is Matthew Perry, whose artwork can be found in other Seventh Star Press titles from Jackie Gamber, Steven Shrewsbury, Michael West, and Stephen Zimmer.

(two interior images from Angelkiller. Artwork by Matthew Perry)

Angelkiller introduces Jonah Mason, the oldest, and most experienced of the Angelkillers, an elite force in the Army of Light. They are fighting an ancient war, one in which the Darkness achieved a great triumph long ago that has had profound influence on the fabric of life as we know it. It is the simple answer as to why bad things happen to good people. The great battle may have been lost, but the war continues in a modern age, pitting Jonah against the Enemy in a way even he had never faced. A provocative mixture of the supernatural and technological, Angelkiller is a very special, thought-provoking tale, one that shines forth in the upper realms of urban fantasy literature.

Based out of the Memphis area, H. David Blalock has an impressive writing career of 35 years and counting that has achieved numerous publishing credits in print and online mediums. He is most known for his fantasy novel Ascendant (Sam's Dot Publishing), which was the basis for a twenty minute short film produced in 2010 that featured former WWE wrestler Al Snow. The sequel to Ascendant, Emperor (Sam's Dot Publishing), was released in March of 2011. David is also the founder of Imagicopter, an author-driven organization that creates an array of event opportunities for small press authors and artists, while also publishing the highly-regarded Imagyro magazine.

The limited edition hardcover and special softcover collector's packages are scheduled to be shipped the first week of December, when the trade paperback will be made available everywhere, along with several eBook formats, for readers with the Kindle, the iPad, the Nook, Sony eReaders, and other electronic reading devices.

The editor for Angelkiller was Amanda DeBoard. Book 2, Traitor Angel, and Book 3, Doom Angel, will be released over the course of 2012 and early 2013.

Those wanting to reserve one of the 75 limited edition hardcovers, or pre-order a softcover collectors package, should visit Seventh Star Press' online store at

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's site at

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Pick of the Week: A Mirror in Time, by Kim Smith

Pick of the Week (#8): A Mirror in Time, by Kim Smith
(Moongypsy Press)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:When Carly Jean Simms, also called CJ, and the hunky Josh Jamison get lead roles in the school play at Broken Branch High School, they never dream where it will land them. But Mrs. Mac, the drama teacher, warned them about playing with her "special" mirror. Now it's sent them back to the time of their play and they have to use all their drama training to survive the travails of the Civil War!
(synopsis from publisher’s website)

The Author: Kim Smith is the author of the zany Shannon Wallace Mystery Series, and several contemporary romances, all available from Red Rose Publishing .

Kim is branching out into the YA field, and her debut YA time travel, A Mirror in Time, is now available at Moongypsy Press . Kim is also the hostess of the wildly popular Introducing WRITERS! radio show on Blog Talk Radio. For a more complete listing of guests and segments, please go to the IW page at

The Publisher:
Moongypsy press is a small press publisher of romance titles, including all subgenres of romance, especially historical and gothic romances. Their catalog features the works of over 30 authors, in print and eBook formats. For further information, please visit their site at

My Comments: Ever since my first encounter with the Chronicles of Narnia series, I have always loved stories that involve a commonly found physical object with a transfer to another place or time. The YA novel A Mirror in Time, by Kim Smith, is very appropriately titled, as it does indeed involve a mirror in a tale that reaches from the modern age into the heart of the Civil War. Kim is a very talented writer, with flowing prose and well-developed characters. The story does not shy away from historical realities, and builds some nice suspense, from encounters with wild animals to the trials of war. The growth in the protagonists, CJ and Josh, over the course of the novel, is really well executed. A Mirror in Time is quite simply a wonderful excursion into another time and place!


So make Kim Smith’s A Mirror in Time, from Moongypsy Press, the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up A Mirror in Time today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:


Kindle Version:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Authors and the Overwhelming World of Social Networking

Social networking has been a significant factor for artists, authors, musicians, and filmmakers ever since the rise of MySpace. Obviously, there have been some seismic shifts in social networking during the intervening years, but the result has been a plethora of social networks available for authors to utilize.

The good news is that participation in these networks holds no financial cost. But there is a big cost in terms of time, as many authors have probably discovered as increasing portions of their day is consumed by activities on FaceBook, Twitter, WordPress, Blogspot, Google+, GoodReads and a wide range of other, more specialized social networks (such as Book Blogs for book reviewers/book bloggers).

After having worked with several of these, I have come to the conclusion that authors should definitely make use of multiple social networks. Currently, I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Googe+, Blogspot, in terms of the larger and more popular networks, as well as ones on author/reader specific places like GoodReads. Google+ has been the latest entry, with a layout that brings in some Facebook-type elements, some Twitter-type elements, and adds a few things of its own.

Each community is different,each network has its strengths and weaknesses, and authors need to familiarize themselves with the tools that each one offers.

For example, in regards to myself, I love the ability to develop groups on Facebook (except for the fact that you can be added to a group by someone else, which is why I have developed my own policy of clearing permission with someone before I add them to one of my groups). I have some active groups relating to the two book series I have, as well as groups relating to Seventh Star Press and the conventions I do programming for. Google+ has some good options for developing similar things, but I have put most of my focus on Facebook groups, as the FaceBook community is still the largest by far.

Google+ shows a lot of flexibility for organizing a friends list into any number of circles delineated by geography, activities, or anything you want. This can be handy when sending out an appearance announcement relating to a specific town or city.

Twitter is wonderful for sending out periodic reminders about the titles you have available, with links.

Blogspot posts can be fed right into your page and other places that take feeds.

Needless to say, each network has much to be utilitzed for an author.

Yet for the author, the most important thing in regards to participating in social networks is maintaining discipline. The way I approach this is through doing all of my writing on one computer that is not connected online, and doing my social networking on a home office computer that I use for all of my business activity.

Keeping my creative and business worlds separate has helped greatly, as it eliminates the temptation to blur the line between the two or get distracted. I know I would be tempted to check up on a message or post if it were easy to access, so I got rid of the possibility of being side-tracked!

I have also evolved in the way I schedule myself, to where I do the bulk of my writing in one time slot, and do the bulk of my business work and social networking in another. I have found myself getting better at logging off on the social networking at the time windows I set, which is not always easy to do if I'm looking in to some new events, promotional opportunities, or other things.

I feel it is important to set some firmer boundaries, though. Similar to online games like World of Warcraft, social networking is an open-ended environment, where you can spend as little or as much time as you want. For authors, that alone demands a need for boundaries.

Time is precious for authors, as the overwhelming majority are balancing so many elements, whether it is a day job, the needs of a family, or any number of tasks relating to life in general. To be productive as a writer, time-management is critical. Obviously, there are ebbs and flows in the amount of activity going on during an author's promotional activities, hitting much more intensively when a new book is released, but I strongly advise authors to stick to their time boundaries as much as possible.

Social networks are tools, and just like a tool box has a variety of implements, it is good for authors to maintain more than one social network presence. Learn those tools, use the ones that are the most effective, and develop multiple presences. But be very careful to manage the time that you spend on social networking, or you will find it quietly invading your writing time!


Connect with Stephen at the following:

and also on Google+

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pick of the Week: Frayed, by Tom Piccirilli

Pick of the Week (#7): Frayed, By Tom Piccirilli
(Creeping Hemlock Press)
-selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book: “Are you the one who helped him kill the angel?”

Twenty years of repressed anger and memories. A bitter knot of hatred that binds and divides two friends. The dark secret that fuels and devastates them both.

“He killed it. I only helped him to bury it.”

Eddies doing his best to get by, but every day the good fight just gets harder. And now there's a new burden to shoulder. Gray – his best friend and nemesis in literature, romance, and life – has landed a bizarre mental hospital, known for its radical treatments, because Gray couldn't bear the weight of an unspeakable trauma.

The last time they met, Gray almost killed Eddie, but it seems that all is finally forgiven. Tonight, there's a wild hootenanny up at Gray's house.

The nuthouse.

And Eddie's invited.

(Synopsis from

The Author: Tom Piccirilli is the author of twenty novels including THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN, SHADOW SEASON, and the forthcoming THE LAST KIND WORDS (Bantam, May 2012). He's won two International Thriller Awards and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de l'lmaginaire.

You can learn more about him and his works at:

The Publisher: Creeping Hemlock Press was founded in Gretna, Louisiana by the husband-and-wife creative duo R.J. And Julia Sevin. As sometimes writers, oftentime readers, they found themselves frustrated with the scarcity of generous-paying, atmospheric and bizarre short story anthologies. They took matters into their own hands in late 2004 when they began to accept submissions for their own anthology. Many months, one baby, two hurricanes, and one soggy home later, CORPSE BLOSSOMS was born to critical success and a nomination for the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker award. As their homeless wanderings carried them to Texas and back, the Sevins also produced an original limited-edition novella by Tom Piccirilli, FRAYED, to terrific reviews and enthusiastic reader sentiment.

My Comments: There's so much that I love about Piccirilli's writing, and FRAYED is one of the highlights of my personal collection, including his phenomenal EVERY SHALLOW CUT. Both of which are 'noirella's,' – a term coined by Piccirilli himself – novella length stories that always have one or more of the following bend to them: crime, mystery, noir, (and sometimes) horror.

Piccirilli is always doing something different. If he's not plucking your heartstrings, then he's making you feel every inch of pain, sorrow, anger and madness that the characters are feeling. He manages to do all of this, and more with FRAYED. Although at first I was afraid that FRAYED would be a dud, I quickly realized that Piccirilli was setting it up to be more than just a crime story, but a story of two friends who not only have to try and find their friendship again, but also – somewhere in the darkness and damp dirt – themselves.

For those willing to take a chance on something new, I'd highly recommend FRAYED. And at the novella length, it's a nice set up: a story longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel, that is as in-depth as a short story, but as complex and deep as an 80k word novel. It's intense, rich and breathtaking.

Why not take a chance?


So make Tom Piccirilli's Frayed, from Creeping Hemlock Press, the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Frayed today! Direct Hardcover and eBook links below:



Friday, October 14, 2011

The Day After You Finish Your Manuscript

The Day After You Finish Your Manuscript
by Ren Garcia



You dot the last sentence and hit the carriage return. Congratulations! You just finished your killer new manuscript. The world has never experienced anything like it and will never be the same again.

So, now what?? That stack of paper in the tray, or that file on your jump drive is just sitting there, mocking you. What to do with your grand new opus, that Monster you've been slaving over?? There are many possible answers to that question, and, depending on who you are as a person, the answer will vary. The trials and tribulations of what happens to you and your manuscript the day after you finish could fill a giant-sized book and be made into a number of movies, so this will, no doubt, be the first of several blog posts covering the topic.

First of all, are You a Perpetual??

The first question you'll need to face as you consider your finished manuscript is: Are you really done??

There are many Perpetuals out there and either you are one yourself or you know someone who is. You know, a Perpetual is someone who is engaged in a never-ending pursuit: that person who's been in college for fifteen years and is nowhere close to graduating, that person who has been grouting the bathroom forever, or that person who has written a manuscript and is never quite finished. Let's face it, a manuscript is your baby and it can be tough to let go, couple that with an artist's tendency to never be satisfied, it's very easy to fall into a surreal mire of revision, re-thinking, re-editing and re-focusing, until such time that the original vision and purpose of the MS is lost. Some are perpetually "tweaking" and "fine-tuning" their MS and it will never be quite ready for Prime Time. Years pass, no progress is made, it's just not quite finished.

The Perpetual and their Manuscript shall waltz together until the proverbial music stops, and it's not going to stop anytime soon, so, for that person, the day after you finish your manuscript is the first day of the rest of your life.

Publishing: The Banana Republic

The next logical course is to attempt to publish your work-it's only natural, you've written something, now you want to share it. The road to publishing is long and difficult and there's no 1-2-3, step by step method of accomplishing it. Ask any author and they'll have all sorts of horror stories of how they got put through the wringer prior to being discovered. It's an inevitable process, and, whether you choose to seek an agent or submit directly to a publisher; it's basically the same.

First: you need to know who to submit to. Different agents and publishers represent and publish different things, so, if you've written a hardcore science fiction tome, you're not going to want to submit to a Christian, non-fiction publisher of inspirational short stories. Various publications and websites go over who does what, so it's worth your time to do a little research and target a specific list that is best suited to you.

Next comes the part that has been the bane of many writers everywhere. All agents and publishers have a lengthy list of requirements that you have to follow pretty much to the letter; any deviation, anything added or omitted will lead to your submission being summarily rejected. These people can get pretty detailed in their demands, from the line spacing, to the exact type of font to use, to the word count of the submission. It is a real Banana Republic where they make the rules and you follow them, or else. You know what they say about absolute power corrupting absolutely-well, there's the proof. They have the power and you don't. If you don't like it, complain to the President.

However, as we'll see, these days there are other ways to get to Heaven that don't involve going through Christ (But, that's a different Blog Post).

The Hell of Manuscripts

So, let's say you jump through all the required hoops and abased yourself as demanded, the final destination of your MS is a withering hell known as the "Slushpile". Lording over the Slushpile is a demon from college, paid minimum wage (if they're being paid at all) with girlfriend/boyfriend issues and a monitor sunburn who can barely see straight known as the Slush Editor. It's the Slush Editor who picks through all MS's consigned there and determines which will be forwarded on to the real editors for further consideration. Little balls of teenage angst, these editors vent their fury on the MS's in their charge, tossing them aside willy-nilly as the case might be (Yes-I was a Slush Editor, and Yes my attitude was poor. It actually felt really good having supreme power at a time in my life when I was otherwise powerless, so flushing a manuscript or two really made my day). Just remember, the next time you see some ridiculous person who's locked themselves out of their car with the engine running, that could be the person who just rejected your MS.

Thus begins the cycle of Submission and Rejection that many authors will face going the traditional route. Almost all MS's meet their demise in the Slushpile, and almost all will end up there more than just once. Writers on the lecture tour are fond of mentioning that Harry Potter was once on the Slushpile. The truth of the matter is that Harry Potter was probably on a lot of Slushpiles and drowned in the vortex of most of them. It is a real, lottery-winning moment when your MS happens to make it out of the Slush purgatory and into the hands of an editor who loves it as much as you do. But, that's a rare moment that can take years and lots and lots of rejection letters to get to.

Next, we'll go over the Promised Land of Self-Publishing, the stigma that comes with it and the Hungry Beast/Chain-Gang of Marketing

Bowl Naked

Ren Garcia on Facebook

Ren Garcia on Twitter

Visit Ren's blog and website:

Would you like to be introduced into Ren's literary world? Here's a couple of titles that will get you underway!:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pick of the Week: The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, by Robert Krog

Pick of the Week (#6): The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, by Robert Krog
(Self-Published Title)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:From sorcerers to space captains, from common criminals to common housewives, this collection contains the stories of a variety of characters from a diversity of genres. Fans of adventure, suspense, humor, horror, fantasy, and science fiction will all find tales to treasure. Every story invites the reader into a world where things are not always what they seem, where events do not always turn out as one expects.

Includes “The Stone Maiden”, “Acantha”, “The Hand of Darden”, “I Would Have My Bones in the Earth Facing North”, “Nothing to Lose is Nearly Enough”, “The Three Epiphanies of Seqeranc”, “Tell Me Your Dreams”.

The Author:Robert J. Krog is a native of Memphis, TN, where he still resides with his family. Mr. Krog is a devout Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has been an assistant arborist to his father, who was a professional arborist. He has also been a grocery store clerk, a waiter for one week, an order out delivery guy for one week, a legal runner, a substitute teacher, and a high school History teacher, all in Memphis, TN. He has several degrees, mostly in History, but is putting none of them to good use, though he loves History and can still translate Middle Egyptian, if he works at it (and maybe Hieratic, if he really works at it). Currently, he works in chemical yard care and writes as much as obligations to a full-time job, the church, and family life allow. His published works include the collection, The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, Babies' Breath (a short story that was published in parABnormal Digest), several more short stories on his website,, and the novella, A Bag Full of Eyes, to come out in January 2012 from Sam's Dot Publishing. He continues to write and is working on finishing several novels.

Visit Robert's website at:

The Publisher: Self-published title. The book used for this Pick of the Week is a 2nd Edition with cover art, book design, and layout by Lewis Pearson.

My Comments:Single author collections give readers a chance to experience many different facets of an author, as well as showcasing the strengths and voice of the writer. The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, by Robert Krog, certainly delivers in that regard, as there is a real range of characters and genres within this well-crafted collection. From the Lovecraftian touches of the title story, The Stone Maiden, to the chilling undercurrents of “Acantha”, which underscores the timeless adage of be careful what you wish for, to the nobility and sense of honor on full display in “I Would Have My Bones in the Earth Facing North”, the seven tales connect with the reader in many ways, and on many levels. This is a real showcase of a highly promising writer, one whose name is going to become very familiar to the reading public in the future.


So make Robert Krog’s The Stone Maiden and Other Tales the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up The Stone Maiden and Other Tales today! Direct Paperback and eBook links below:

Click here to order a paperback edition of The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, 2nd Edition.

eBook Edition:
Click here to order an eBook edition (PDF) of The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, 2nd Edition.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Four Steps to Finding Your Next Good Read

Four Steps to Finding Your Next Good Read
by Rodney Carlstrom

As a reviewer, I don't have certain privileges, but as a reader I have all rights in the world. When it comes to reviewing, I usually – 95% of the time – stick to what I'm sent to read. But as a casual reader, I'm very picky about what I consume. I have the right to do so, and so do you!

You are leveraging your time for quality entertainment, unlike the average movie where you get a full story – and sometimes not even that – within an hour and a half. A book is different: you spend more time with the characters, the culture/environment; by the time you're done reading, you've invested so much time in the novel that you might as well have spent all day watching a full season of your favorite show.

For some these following four steps are going to sound very familiar, but they work. Unless you're picking up an author that you absolutely adore, or have heard good things about, chances are you're just looking for that next good read. This checklist will help you achieve that. I can't promise that it's fool-proof, but it's better than picking a book at random.

1. You've heard it before. Chances are you've probably uttered it more times than you care to admit: “Never judge a book by its cover.” It's a worn out, clich├ęd adage that has more validity to it than most people are willing to admit, especially in the publishing world. And here's why: depending on the publisher, whether they're small press or one of the bigger publishers, the author either has complete control of the cover, or none at all. Yes, the cover might look kick ass, but are you going to take the chance on something so trivial as a picture? Do you know for certain that the cover depicts accurately something within the pages of the book (character/scene)?

Every book has one. Covers are just eye candy for the masses. If they see something that intrigues them, they probably won't hesitate to pick it up. It's the same reason stores put all the chocolates, candies and sweets in the check-out lanes. It's an impulse buy. And unfortunately, that's how the majority of our culture reacts: on impulse. Don't be one of those people, instead go one step further...

2. Flip to the back of the book. Read the synopsis. Now granted, the sole job of the synopsis – and for that matter blurbs from other authors – is to catch your fancy. Smart writing that engages you and makes you think. Does it sound interesting? (Most times, this will be a yes...) If so, move to the next step.

3. Crack open the book. Read a little bit. Don't be afraid. I mean, isn't that why you're in the bookstore to begin with: to find a book to read? To spend quality time absorbed in a world that's not your own? If your answer is yes to either, then:

a. Start with the middle. Open the book and read. See if there's anything worth reading. Does the author's writing catch your fancy, or is there something in that brief glimpse that just doesn't sit right?

b. Now, do the same thing, only crack it open somewhere near the end...preferably three fourths of the way through it. Read. Ask yourself again: is there anything worth reading?

c. Finally, open the book to the very front, preferably the first page. Read (if you've got the time, try the first chapter). Ask yourself again: is there anything worth reading?

4. And finally, follow your gut instinct. Always. Because, somehow, somewhere, between gazing at the cover, reading the back synopsis (or blurb(s)), reading from the middle, the beginning and somewhere close to the end, you've already subconsciously decided. You might not realize it, but you have. Somewhere deep inside your mind, something snapped. Listen to your heart and gut, and one or both of them will pay off with a damn good read. Something you are not only going to remember, but something you won't be able to stop talking about, recommending and demanding your friends, loved ones, and even strangers read.

This might all seem obvious, but time and time again I'm surprised by the conversations I have with people who complain that they're picking up boring reads. Yes, you're going to pick up a book every once in a while that's going to suck big time, but those are risks that everyone takes.

Sometimes it takes the obvious to find that next good read...


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The Bloody Pen

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pick of the Week: Just Like Hell, by Nate Southard

Pick of the Week (#5): Just Like Hell, by Nate Southard
(Deadite Press)
-selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book: Dillon is a popular high school football star, gay, and tied to a chair in the dark. His lover is bound and gagged next to him. Around him are his teammates – his captors. They aren't happy that they've been playing with a “faggot” and they intend to repay the disgrace. There will be humiliation, blood, and pain. But then it gets out of control. What started as black-hearted entertainment has turned into a cat-and-mouse game of gruesome justice. By the end of the night, four people will be dead. And those left alive will be forever scared. Deadite Press presents Nate Southard's modern hardcore horror classic of torture, terror, and bloody vengeance. This edition also includes four bonus stories: “A Team-Building Exercise,” “Miss Kenner and Me,” “Senorita,” and “Work Pit Four.”

The Author:Nate Southard's books include Scavengers, Red Sky, Just Like Hell, Broken Skin, This Little Light of Mine, and He Stepped Through. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Thuglit, and the upcoming anthology Supernatural Noir. A graduate of The University of Texas with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film, Nate lives in Austin, Texas. You can learn more at

The Publisher: Deadite Press publishes the very best in cult horror. Home of Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Bryan Smith, J.F. Gonzalez, Wrath James White, Robert Devereaux, Dave Brockie, David Agranoff, Andre Duza, and Carlton Mellick III. For more information check out:

My Comments: In an age of rage and hate for being 'different,' Just Like Hell isn't just fiction, it's a horrifying reality that many are too afraid to write about. At it's worst it's an all too plausible situation, and at it's worst it's a glimpse into the real evil that we as humans can do to one another.

Although not all of the extra stories that followed Just Like Hell had the same feel or tone to them as the title novella, each story brought a different aspect of Southard's writing style to my awareness. Not only can Southard write, he can make you think too. Which isn't as common these days as most people might think.

When I originally heard about Just Like Hell, and the rave reviews that were being given to it, I had to check it out for myself. Thanks to Deadite Press for reissuing it, I had an opportunity to do so. And let me tell you, there's a reason it's considered a modern hardcore classic. It is one brutal read! Definitely worth picking up for anybody that's willing to read outside of their comfort zone for a change, and honestly think about what they're reading.


So make Nate Southards's Just Like Hell from Deadite Press the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Just Like Hell today! Direct Paperback Link Below: