My Experiences in Self-Publishing and the Indie Press Scene

I read a really cool article from Sci-Fi & Scary. It was about small presses and self-publishing here in our indie writing world.
Here’s the link if you missed it: Let’s Talk About It: Small Press Publishing
Having worked in both arenas, I just wanted to share some of my own experiences.
In 2013, I broke into the publishing world with a serial novel I, for lack of knowing any better, self-published in e-Book on Amazon. I did all the editing and formatting, and had a good friend doing the art. Launching off on my own, it could have been a complete disaster. It could have ruined my writing career before it even got started. Luckily, my stories and characters, combined with Jason Lynch’s fantastic cover art, garnered me enough positive attention to make a safe landing.

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One of the scariest things I did while creating this serial was reaching out to review sites and asking them to check out my work. Part of that fear was the everyday creatives insecurity. The other part was knowing that I needed an editor. I was lucky not to be slaughtered by sites like Matt Malgaard’s HORROR NOVEL REVIEWS, and to Joe Hempel’s TOP OF THE HEAP REVIEWS.
It was also in this initial toe-stepping into the self-publishing world/ review site reach-out that I met Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. OH, FOR THE HOOK OF A BOOK reviewed my serial and gave me one of my first interviews. Our shared love of Ronald Malfi really bolstered our instant friendship. Erin’s been editing or helping with book publicity ever since.
Having Matt (R.I.P.), Joe, and Erin in my corner early on was invaluable. This trio saw something in my work that gave me the confidence I needed to keep going and to work harder.
After my 2013 self-publishing experience, I learned that I needed to push harder to get published traditionally. I set my sights on cool indie publishers like Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Nightscape Press with an ultimate goal of landing a book with Don D’Auria and Samhain Publishing.

At the time, PMMP was doing these monthly novelette/Novella releases in a series called, One Night Stands. They were down to their last spot of the year, and I had just finished writing a ghost story/small town mystery novella called, ABRAM’S BRIDGE. I sent it to PMMP and got word it was strongly being considered along with seven other stories for the last spot in the One Night Stands series. It did not get the final spot, but I couldn’t have felt any better. Knowing that I had written something good. Really good. That it had made it past the slush pile and into the ring with the big boys, I was elated. I sent the editor a response to the rejection letter that probably surprised him as much as anything. It was 100% positive and probably the most enthusiastic thank you on a rejection they ever received.
Armed with a story I now had validation was good, I decided to take my chances sending it to Don D’Auria and Samhain Publishing.
That was in December of 2013. In April of 2014, Don sent me an email letting me know that he loved ABRAM’S BRIDGE and that he’d love to send me contract if I was interested.
I ended up signing three novellas and two novels with Don. I got to sit at the Samhain table at the Bram Stoker Awards with a bunch of real writers and got to sell books at the Samhain table at two Horrorhound conventions. By 2016, I had achieved all my writing goals.

In 2016, Samhain announced that they were going under. Samhain’s demise was followed by a number of other small presses closing shop, most notably, Dark Fuse.
I managed to land a fourth novella (CHASING GHOSTS) with Sinister Grin Press, but by mid-2016, I decided I was going to try my hand at self-publishing again.
In my experiences, I’ve learned a few things. If you are going to self-publish, you must have a good editor. One that will tell you if something doesn’t work, or that you can do better. You must have professional looking cover art. And you have to actively seek reviews and readers. You are in charge of getting your book out there. It is a ton of work. And it will try to break you. But in my experience, the rewards can be well worth it.
For example, the year I’ve made the most money from writing? Had to be with Samhain, right? No. It was actually this year. A year when I’ve almost exclusively self-published. To be fair, the success I’ve had this year would not have been possible were it not for the small platform I made as an author on the Samhain roster.
As Joe Mynhardt, head of Crystal Lake Publishing, suggests in the Sci-Fi & Scary article, it is wise for authors to dabble in both traditional indie publishing and self-publishing simultaneously. Plus, working with and having a book contracted by a respected editor or company like a Crystal Lake Publishing legitimizes you and gives you a little extra street cred in the self-pub world. It let’s readers and reviewers know that you’ve been vetted.
As a writer, it is way easier to have a publisher in charge of editing, cover design, and helping to put together a publicity tour. They’ll also submit your book to reviewers and the Bram Stoker Awards jury. That’s a load off a writer’s shoulders. As Joe said, the publisher needs to earn that royalty cut.
I have continued to work with indie’s like CROSSROAD PRESS (they have ABRAM’S BRIDGE and THINGS WE FEAR-which Joe Hempel did a fantastic job on the audio book performance) and SINISTER GRIN PRESS.

Personally, I enjoy the madness that comes with being in charge of all that goes into creating, releasing, and promoting a book. I have a great team to work with Erin and Jason being my top picks for editing and covers.
That said, I am looking forward to a break soon. As with all goals in life, once you’ve achieved all the ones on your list, you create a new list.
In 2019, while still releasing my own work, I will begin my pursuit of this new batch of goals.
I hope you guys enjoyed this unofficial companion piece, and hope you’ll consider checking out one of my works.
Cheers!

LAND OF BONES

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“A rising star in the genre!” – Ronald Malfi, author of BONE WHITE
“A vital part of this generation.” – Brian Keene, author THE RISING

Demon lights, granted wishes, strange things, and brutal love at the Lucky Lounge Motel. A haunted sister, desperate parents, a little human touch, and the end of the world…

These are the stories whispered among dead leaves, the script etched bare for all to see. When the chills sink deep and your heart begins to pound…are you alone?

Welcome to Glenn Rolfe’s LAND OF BONES
14 tales of the strange and macabre

 

THE WINDOW

What kind of demons await you tonight?

For Richie, life’s constant cheap shots are adding up. When he finds something is watching him, he never dreamed that it would show him everything he ever wanted.

When his son, James, comes to stay for the last month of summer, the changes in his father’s behavior come to the forefront. What is his father doing staring into the window in the middle of the night?
Was the fiery spark in the dark real? Or is Jame’s imagination getting the best of him?

Summer’s almost over.
And life is about to change.
Will James be able to save his father? Or is it already too late?

The Window holds the answers…and the key.

OCTOBER HOUSE: Some of my Favorite Halloween Reads

 

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There’s nothing us horror writers enjoy more than sharing the horror. We write because we fell in love with reading. We fell in love with stories that moved us, frightened us, aroused us, and made us say, “What the fuck?” Horror has it all. Good horror especially. Heart and soul, ghouls that take hearts and souls, love stories, lust stories, blood and rain (he, he, he) and all the guts, perseverance, and monsters and heroes you could ever want, or want to see bested.

Here’s a few of my favorite October reads ever, and a few other suggested titles, too.

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Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work—in fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town.

With this, his second novel, Stephen King established himself as an indisputable master of American horror, able to transform the old conceits of the genre into something fresh and all the more frightening for taking place in a familiar, idyllic locale.

It all has to start somewhere…. My favorite book of all-time, STEPHEN KING’s ‘SALEM’s LOT.  I’ve read this four times (all in October).  You can do no better than this one.

Purchase here: ‘SALEM’S LOT

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The town of Stillwater has a very unwelcome resident. 

The town of Stillwater has been dying – the long and painful death of a town ravaged by floods and haunted by the ghosts of all who had lived there. Yet this most recent flood has brought something with it – a creature that nests among the good folks of Stillwater…and feeds off them. The children who haven’t disappeared whisper the same word – “vampire”. But they’re wrong. What has come to Stillwater is something much more horrific. 

Easily one of my other all-time favorites, Ronald Malfi delivers the perfect October concoction with his novel, THE NARROWS. If you’ve enjoyed his recent hits (BONE WHITE, LITTLE GIRLS, THE NIGHT PARADE), try this one for your next October read.

Purchase here: THE NARROWS

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“Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills.” — Stephen King

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.

Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townsfolk refer to it as the Hell House.

Okay, definitely one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. HELL HOUSE reads like a highbrow literature version of a Bentley Little book. Twisted, scary, and wonderfully written, Richard Matheson reset the true standard for haunted house tales.

Purchase here: HELL HOUSE

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The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

My wife is currently reading this one for the first time. Jackson set the original standard for haunted house novels with this beauty. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE has a creeping death type of vibe. By which I mean, it crawls under your skin and slowly pulls you down. Jackson succeeds without the gore and gruesome revelations of say, HELL HOUSE or THE SHINING, but hits with just as much impact.

Purchase here: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

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There are all kinds of legends about the forests of Central Pennsylvania, and in this sequel to DARK HOLLOW, the truth about those legends is finally revealed.

Halloween is coming, and a new haunted attraction is open for business in LeHorn’s Hollow. Folks will come from miles around to walk down the spooky trail and get scared witless. But there’s one thing the owners of the ghost walk haven’t counted on. There really is something waiting in the woods-a vast, ancient evil whose hunger threatens to consume all life on Earth. Soon, the unsuspecting customers will pay their money and get in line… to die. And only one man, occult detective Levi Stoltzfus, can save them and stop the evil before it is unleashed.

What’s better than a book set around a Halloween attraction?  Brina Keene’s GHOST WALK is a fun October ride with one of his best characters, Levi Stoltzfus.

Side rant here…. I am probably in the minority, but I prefer his Leisure book covers over the newer Deadite ones.  To me, the LB covers look more professional. The newer ones would actually deter me from picking up the books. A little too nasty for my taste. BUT each and every one of Keene’s novels are worthy of your time. Pick one up today!

Purchase here: GHOST WALK

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During the great depression, a small backwoods community in Iowa face even more difficult times than most, having to endure the slowly fading sanity of their leader, Reverend Joshua Miller. When it’s clear the man has slipped beyond the edge of reason and perhaps signed a deal with the devil, the citizens unite to stop him any way they can, breaking into the church to lash the reverend to his wooden alter cross then boarding up the windows and doors to leave him to fate and God’s judgment. The people of Oak Valley then abandoned their town to the cornfields and woods; ending the madness for what they hoped was forever.

They were wrong!

Seventy-four years later, the corn and trees have taken back the area and not much is left of the once thriving little community but Joshua Miller’s desecrated church still stands, and within its boarded up and sun-baked walls something that used to be a holy man waits for whoever is unfortunate enough to release him from his cross…

THE SCARECROW WILL WALK AT MIDNIGHT

One of my favorite books by Gord Rollo. This one is guaranteed to scratch your Halloween horror itch. Also, if you’re a fan of King’s IT, check out Rollo’s other offering, CRIMSON.

Purchase here: VALLEY OF THE SCARECROW 

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THE PAST NOT ONLY HAUNTS. IT HUNTS.

In a small, rural Arkansas town in the midst of World War II, hotel house detective George “Jojo” Walker wearily maintains the status quo in the wake of personal devastation. That status quo is disrupted when a hygiene picture roadshow rolls into town with a controversial program on display and curious motives in mind. What begins with a gruesome and impossible murder soon spirals into hallucinatory waking nightmares for Jojo—nightmares that converge with his reality and dredge up his painful, secret past. Black magic and a terrifying Luciferian carnival boil up to a surreal finale for the town of Litchfield, when truth itself unfurls and Jojo Walker is forced to face his own identity in ways he could never have expected.

Ed Kurtz delivered in last year’s THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD. Fans of the classic Leisure Books Horror stories will mLOVE this one. If that’s you, make this your next buy.

Purchase here: THE RIB FROM WHICH I REMAKE THE WORLD 

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Another recent scare, DREAM WOODS, from author, Patrick Lacey, offers some great characters set in a Little-esque world. AND it’s just 99 cents!

Terror abounds!  A theme park setting is the perfect horror ride.

Purchase here: DREAM WOODS

 

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And  if you’ve read all these already, check out Sinister Grin Press for more. ALL of their eBook titles are on sale for $2.99 or less!

Check them out here: SINISTER GRIN PRESS 

 

Lastly, check out any of books here: GLENN ROLFE

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Happy reading!!!!\

 

(REVIEW) WE CAME BACK by Patrick Lacey

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Growing up dead.

Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.

One decade after Melvin’s death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School’s smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.

Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?

(REVIEW)

We Came BackWe Came Back by Patrick Lacey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WE CAME BACK is the second novel from Patrick Lacey. After reading his novella, A DEBT TO BE PAID, his collection, SLEEP PARALYSIS, and his debut, DREAM WOODS, I thought I had this guy figured out. I assumed he was gonna slip into a comfortable little spot a lot of horror writers find themselves in and stay there. And he could, but Lacey doesn’t seem to care for complacency. He’s eager, he’s productive, and guess what? He’s pretty damn good. His previous works showed promise. WE CAME BACK delivers on that promise, and I’d be willing to bet that it’s just a hint of things to come.

WE CAME BACK isn’t just a great horror novel, it’s a horror novel with depth. Multiple characters deal with loss throughout, and find themselves figuring out how to move forward. The problem is that, in Lynwood, there may be no future. A past incident at the old Lynwood High School sets into motion the eventual troubles that spring up in town in the present. The Lynwood Vampires, a new and ever-growing clique of honor roll students gone all Marylin Manson, are upsetting expectations and smearing their darkness across this quiet little town. Are they just a pack of good kids going through a rebellious phase, or is there more behind the black outfits and sudden change in moods?

Lacey does a wonderful job drawing these characters–their hurts, their losses, their frustrations, and their faults—on his way to delivering a fantastic piece of horror fiction. The emotional undercurrent is what pulls this dark story along. Lacey crafts and executes some wonderfully frightening scenes throughout and does not disappoint in the blood and carnage department, a playground he’s proved himself as adept at running as a chambered bullet exploding your brains against the wall.

Incorporating pain and heartache with touches of humor, and pound-after-pound of fear and creepiness, Lacey proves that scars are not the exclusive property of weathered vets. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re not paying attention to Patrick Lacey yet, now is the time, and WE CAME BACK is the book. This author is something special. Introduce yourself to his work now, you won’t regret it.

I give WE CAME BACK 4.5 stars!

View all my reviews

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags:
#WeCameBack #monstersandcults #AmericanCancerSociety

**Patrick Lacey will be donating all his proceeds from this book to the American Cancer Society in memory of his dad, who lost his battle with cancer.**

We Came Back, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Press
  • Publication Date: April 15, 2017

Patrick Lacey, Biography

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit his website.

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Praise for Patrick Lacey

“WE CAME BACK is an emotional trip through our darkest fears. One of the best books I’ve read in years.”–Kristopher Rufty, author of SOMETHING VIOLENT, DESOLATION, and JAGGER.

“The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author of A Mixed Bag of Blood

“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, author of The One Who Lies Next to You

Patrick Lacey’s Dream Woods works a razor’s edge into an after school special.”
– Unnerving Magazine

Purchase Links

Amazon

Also find at other online retailers like B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. Also ask your local indie bookstore to order or ask for your local library to order it!

Want to Feature?

If you’d like to feature Patrick Lacey on your blog or site, or review We Came Back, please give Erin Al-Mehairi, marketing and publicity at Sinister Grin Press, a shout out at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

(REVIEW) BLUE DEMON by David Bernstein

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When the meek need defending, they call on Blue Demon, a guardian of bloodshed and retribution. Its loyalty is forever, as long as you remain righteous. For those that oppress the demon’s flock, life grows short. It kills in the most brutal fashion, and maims those it most despises. It has no feelings, only loyalty and devotion for the ones it protects.

Of course, this is all from the Blue Demon television show and Cal Langston, Blue Demon’s biggest fan, knows such things can’t be real, at least not until the people who messed with him start dying in the most horrific of ways.

Frightened and not sure what to believe, he sets out to discover what is truly going on, and if Blue Demon is for real, does he want it watching over him?

First off, look at that freaking cover! Beautiful!

Here’s my review:

Blue DemonBlue Demon by David Bernstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderfully entertaining and ruthless novella.

David Bernstein’s BLUE DEMON is about a blue demon action figure that holds the ability to exact revenge upon command. It’s a fun idea that Bernstein runs with and executes like a boss.

The main character here is Cal Langston. He suffers a horrible amount of shitty things in the 100-plus page story. There were multiple times I found myself saying, “Holy fuck, Bernstein!” There’s two scenes in the hospital that got me for different reason. The first shocked me, the second was just a perfectly executed horror scene. Great stuff.

I love how Bernstein’s twisted mind works. He has a vision and follows through fearlessly. I won’t give anything away, but even the most Sherlock of you readers out there are in for some surprises.

The blue demon’s viciousness might seem like a bad thing, but these people have it coming.

I give BLUE DEMON 5 stars!

View all my reviews

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #BlueDemon  #SinisterGrinPress

 

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Biography of David Bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

 

Praise for David Bernstein

 

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

 

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

Add to GoodReads

Purchase Link

Amazon

Check out Sinister Grin Press

(Review) WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING by Hunter Shea

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They’ve watched over the house for generations… 

The move from New York to the decrepit Pennsylvania farmhouse is as bad as West Ridley thought it would be. His father’s crippling vertigo only seems to get worse, and even with his mother working herself to the bone, they’re out of money and options.

Grandpa Abraham is a drunk bastard and the living embodiment of the long neglected farmhouse. He claims the place is haunted. Ghosts roam the hall at night and their muffled cries fill the silence of warm, summer nights.

On the ceiling above West’s bed are the words WE SEE YOU. In a house plagued by death and mysterious visitations, West realizes something beyond the fiction of his favorite horror books has to be faced.

Dark secrets are buried deep, and there are Guardians who want to keep it that way. No matter where they go or what they do, West and his family know one thing… they are always watching.

We Are Always WatchingWe Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hunter Shea is one of my current writers that I know will deliver the goods each time out.
WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING (Sinister Grin Press) offers another solid glimpse into an author who is a master of creating characters that are just as fallible as you and I.
Grandpa Abraham is a great, cranky old man. The relationship he builds with his grandson, West, is wonderful to watch (or read) unfold. Their shared scenes throughout most of the book are the heart and soul of this one.

The story is about a family and their home being stalked from the shadows by a someone, or someones, referring to themselves The Guardians. Odd messages are left outside the house, but take a turn for the freakier when the messages appear INSIDE the home. Is it ghosts? Is it neighborhood kids? Is it someone closer than we think?
The ending is action-packed.

Fair warning: There were some slow chapters in here. The story dragged a bit in spots, but nothing that kept me from enjoying the overall story. After finishing the book, there were still “good guys” that I couldn’t pull for, and “bad guys” that didn’t get a fair shake. That could just be me, or maybe Shea wants us to question this, as well.

I think you’ll have fun with this one.

I give WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING 4 stars!
View all my reviews

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We are Always Watching by Hunter Shea
Sinister Grin Press

We Are Always Watching, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2017                                       Media Kit

Publicist/Marketing: Erin Al-Mehairi
Contact: hookofabook@hotmail.com

Follow along the tour with these hashtags:

#WeAreAlwaysWatching #ISeeYou
#HunterShea #SinisterGrinPress

Hunter Shea, Biography

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of frightful tales such as The Montauk Monster, They Rise, Island of the Forbidden, Tortures of the Damned, The Jersey Devil, and many more, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

You can follow Hunter and join his action packed Dark Hunter Newsletter at www.huntershea.com.

Praise for Hunter Shea

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness

“Hunter Shea has his own style. It’s simple, yet well-written, stories that flow with ease. Mr. Shea graciously walks you through the adventure and mystery, all the while, tickling the hairs on the nape of your neck and filling the pit of your guts with lead. It’s this “I’m your friend who just might make you wanna sleep with the lights on” relationship the author builds with us that keeps us comfortable, but not too comfortable, and on our toes throughout his work. I find that an extremely admirable ability.” –Glenn Rolfe, Author of Chasing Ghosts and The Haunted Halls

Purchase

Amazon

Want to Feature?

If you’re a book blogger or media site and would like to feature Hunter Shea or review We Are Always Watching, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Also, COMING IN APRIL from HUNTER SHEA:

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Stay tuned!!!!!

(Review) Splinterlands by John Feffer and Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz

I’ve been a bit behind on my reading in the last six weeks or so, but… I did manage to fit in these two fantastic novels. SPLINTERLANDS by John Feffer and EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

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Up first, we have one of my surprise finds from the library. John Feffer-SPLINTERLANDS

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The wolf is at the door. I don’t know why you can’t hear it. But I hear it. And I know how hungry it is.”

Am I glad that I’ve started using the library? Heck yes. Browsing the “New Arrivals” shelf introduces me to works I might otherwise never come across. Such as John Feffers’ SPLINTERLANDS.
Is it horror? Not genre-wise, but it is scary as Hell.

“Water boils fiercely just before it disappears. And so it is, evidently with human affairs.”

Its a short dystopian novel that is eerily tied in with far too many things actually happening right before our eyes in 2017. Hurricane Donald (very apropos), the result of our ignoring climate-change, wipes out Washington DC. The world is in flux under the ever-growing number of countries splintering into separate, self-governed states (see Brexit, or the increasingly popular idea of Cal-Exit), geo-paleontologist and author of “Splinterlands”, Dr. West, sets out to write his follow-up report, and also, to reconnect with his splintered family.
The journey is fantastic. I couldn’t put the book down.

This short novel is freaky with how close we are to following in its “fictitious” future’s footsteps.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but I would suggest anyone out there who loves good fiction, horror or otherwise, to track SPLINTERLANDS down. Hell, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing this book become “mandatory reading” for high school kids and adults alike.

“Empires, like children, think they’ll live forever.”

I fear the future, especially these past few months of “Hurricane” Donald Drumpf with a too-large number of our country’s citizens eyeing immigrants as enemies. SPLINTERLANDS is scary, and it should be. Anything with an honest message of what-could-be, should be taken seriously and carefully considered. We the people should take a lot more things in our country seriously before they land us in this future.

“I don’t doubt that we still have convictions. We just don’t seem to have the requisite courage to follow them.”

I give SPLINTERLANDS 5 stars!

View all my reviews

And I got the chance to read one of my most-anticipated releases for 2017, Jonathan Janz- EXORCIST FALLS

Exorcist FallsExorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my most anticipated release of 2017, so my expectations were extremely high. EXORCIST FALLS did not fail to entertain.

This book starts with the original novella, EXORCIST ROAD, one of my favorite pieces by Janz. It was great to re-read it here and love it just as much.

That brings us to the follow-up, the short novel, EXORCIST FALLS.
This story was pretty great, overall.
I loved not knowing what was going to happen. Every time I thought (or hoped) I knew where Janz was going, he took my someplace else. He really did an amazing job of keeping you off guard throughout.

Father Crowder is definitely the star of the show, and you’ll be praying for Danny Hartman to get his. There’s a lot of great gore and wildly imaginative action going on that is also well balanced with the internal struggle between Crowder and his curse. Janz’s writing is on point.

There were a few characters that fell flat (Liz) or seemed to be a little inconsistent from start to finish (Father Patterson, for instance). That said, neither character ruined the experience for me.

The ending….I won’t give it away, but it was both REALLY awesome and somewhat disappointing. Sound confusing? Yeah, it’s a frustrating thing. I LOVE where Janz goes here, but I think he should have written about three more chapters and brought the story to an even more amazing conclusion. Oh well. Not everything works the way we, the reader, want it to.

I still give EXORCIST FALLS 4 stars! Entertaining as hell.
I look forward to seeing it on many, many year end lists.

View all my reviews

I should have some new reviews for Hunter Shea, Patrick Lacey, William Meikle, and Jason Arnopp coming up…..

STAY TUNED!

(REVIEW) EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

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“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene

EXORCIST FALLS (Sinister Grin Press, 2017)

Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.
When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.

But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.

Jonathan Janz’s brand new release brings the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and a brand-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) together for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.

MY REVIEW

Hmmmm. This was my most anticipated release of 2017, so my expectations were high. Maybe unfairly high.
This book starts with the original novella, EXORCIST ROAD, one of my favorite pieces by Janz. It was great to re-read it here and love it just as much.
That brings us to the follow-up, which is maybe a short novel or long novella, EXORCIST FALLS.
This story was pretty great, overall.
I loved not knowing what was going to happen. Every time I thought (or hoped) I knew where Janz was going, he took my someplace else. He really did an amazing job of keeping you off guard throughout.

Father Crowder is definitely the star of the show, and you’ll be praying for Danny Hartman to get his. There’s a lot of great gore and wildly imaginative action going on that is also well balanced with the internal struggle between Crowder and his curse. Janz’s writing is on point.  That said, we had a few characters that fell flat (Liz) or seemed to be a little inconsistent from start to finish (Father Patterson, for instance). That said, neither character ruined the experience for me.

The ending….I won’t give it away, but it was both really awesome and disappointing. Sound confusing? Yeah, it’s a frustrating thing. I LOVE where Janz goes here, but I think he should have taken the time to write about three more chapters and brought the story to an even more amazing conclusion. Oh well. Not everything works the way we want it to.

I give EXORCIST FALLS 4 stars, but this one should have and could have easily been 5.

Still, I know people are going to love it. So I look forward to seeing it on many, many year end lists.
Overall, a terrific start of what is gonna be another great year for Janz.

You HAVE to pre-order your eBook copy now. EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

 

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Visit Jonathan Janz’s website: JonathanJanz.com

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And be sure to keep up with all of the great titles and merchandise at SinisterGrinPress.com

And keep you eyes out for all things Janz and Exorcist Falls related from Oh,ForTheHookofaBook

(Interview) Talking Horror with the New Kid in Town, Patrick Lacey.

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I came across Patrick Lacey in 2015. He was one of the new authors signing with Samhain Publishing.  I reached out and invited him to the Samhain Author Secret Club I’d started on Facebook.  He seemed cool. I read his novella, A Debt to be Paid, and found that he was also talented. I suddenly realized that I’d seen his name before. Looking through my bookshelf, I found that we’d published alongside one another in an anthology called, PAVOR NOCTURNUS: Dark fiction Anthology Vol. II.  He had a great story in there called, “Pen Pals”.

We  all know Samhain collapsed shortly after firing Don D’Auria. Lucky for us newer guys at the company, Sinister Grin Press was there to catch our fall.  Shortly after announcing that my latest (Chasing Ghosts) would be published by SGP, Lacey announced that they had also picked up his novel, DREAM WOODS.

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The book was originally signed by Samhain, but after they announced their intentions to close, they allowed a number of authors to retrieve the rights to the unpublished books.

Between the release of his Samhain novella, and Dream Woods, Lacey also put out an amazing collection of short stories (which you should go buy right now) titled, SLEEP PARALYSIS.

I’ve only known the guy for about a year, but it already feels much longer than that. So, let’s bring him in and poke at his brain. Let’s enter Lacey’s Dream Woods….

 

 

Glenn Rolfe: The first thing I noticed about this book was how much it felt like a lost Bentley Little book…hell, it could have been called, The Amusement Park. I know you’re a big Little fan. We’ve both mentioned how great we think his novel, The Store, is.  Do you feel like his fingerprints are on Dream Woods?

PATRICK LACEY: Oh man, there’s no denying it. For me, Little is one of the all-time masters and one of the few horror authors that consistently scares me. Some of his imagery is so odd, bizarre, so out there, that it gets under your skin in a way you can barely describe. I mean, this is a guy who wrote a short story about a farmer falling in love with a potato and managed to make me lose sleep. He’s a freaking genius. So I channeled my inner Little in some of the scenes within Dream Woods. I, too, like to take every day scenarios and make them seem just a bit off before ramping up the weirdness factor.  There’s a certain vending machine scene that I think/hope would make Mr. Little proud.

GR: There’s some punk rock going on within the characters. I know you play, did you have a band, and how much of what Vince and Audra are going through personally have you felt yourself. 

PL: For sure. I grew up north of Boston and there was a decent music scene in my little town. Lots of punk and hardcore and metal. I spent almost every weekend in high school going to shows and eventually playing at them with my own bands. As far as Vince versus Audra, I actually don’t fall into either category. Vince is an aging punk rocker who’s taken to adulthood completely, whereas Audra is pushing it off as much as possible. I’m still as immature as I was back in high school. I just hide it well. I also don’t think one has to become a slave to the system just because they have a full time job and turn thirty. Rock and roll knows no age.

GR: This story takes place at an amusement park, but within that, you get to play in a hotel setting, too.  I love hotel stories. Hotels seem to be among the most perfect playgrounds for horror writers. Did you find that to be true?

PL: There’s this book. I think it’s called The Shining? Kidding. Yes, hotels are breeding grounds for horror stories. Whenever I stay at one, I like to wander the halls at an hour that would make me seem quite creepy. I think about all people who have stayed there over the years and start to get the heebie jeebies. Plus, I always seem to wind up at a vending machine. Sensing a theme here.

GR: I loved that you really made sure to make each of the main characters decipherable from one another. Each faces their own personal demons or struggles. Did you spend a lot of time crafting each of them, or was it one of those things that just developed naturally during the writing process?

PL: Glad you found them decipherable! I’m not a big plotter but I do have an idea of my characters’ main issues when I start a book. That said, they often end up steering me in different directions. For instance, I didn’t know one of the Carter boys was going to be diabetic until I started typing away on his first chapter. His condition actually became a big part of the book and I started to run off with the idea of a theme park knowing your true fears.

GR: Dream Woods was originally supposed to be a Samhain Publishing title. How exciting was it to hook up with Sinister Grin Press?

PL: I was a huge fan of Sinister Grin before working with them and they were always on my list of dream (pun intended) publishers that I wanted to work with. They are great to work with and saved the day when something came up just prior to this book’s publication. I’m talking a real eleventh hour scenario. And I’ll be working with them again in the near future.*

GR: You got to attend your first Scares That Care this past summer. What were some of the highlights and takeaways for you? And you can skip Saturday night (if you want).

GR: Of course, I’ll skip over Saturday night. I mean, what kind of guy would I be if I mentioned the ten or so pitchers of beer that we split, or the countless karaoke videos I took of you, or one of us sleeping on a sidewalk. Anyway, it was the…best…con…ever. I got to meet so many awesome readers and writers and despite the debauchery, every single vendor and attendee is constantly aware of how amazing the charity is. My main takeaway, though, would be how delicious the hotel bar’s chicken wings were. #priorities

GR: Oh, the memories…all that beer…   Back to the interview. Which authors would you say have been a huge influence on you? Any that are under the radar?

PL: In addition to Bentley Little (did I already mention him?), there’s Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Stewart O’Nan, Graham Joyce, Elmore Leonard, Brian Keene, Richard Matheson, John Skipp, Sarah Langan, and Joe Lansdale for my formative years. For newer (relatively speaking, considering some of these folks have been at it for over a decade) peeps that are influencing me as we speak, you’ve got Paul Tremblay, Adam Cesare, Laird Barron, Kristopher Rufty, Jonathan Janz, Mercedes M. Yardley, Orrin Grey, Michael Weihunt, Aaron Dries…the list could go on forever. Also, this guy named Glenn something or other.

GR:  I know that guy! I also know you’re a scary movie guy. Do films play into your writing? If so, which ones and what aspects in particular do you feel find their way into your work?

PL: Maybe? I’ve had a plethora of people call my writing “cinematic” but I’m not good at self-analyzing my stuff. My favorite types of horror movies are those that bend reality. Think A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jacob’s Ladder, The Beyond, In the Mouth of Madness, etc. I definitely think they’re present in a lot of my work. I have a novel sitting with a publisher right now that’s my love letter to this type of story.

GR:  I loved Jacob’s Ladder. Very trippy!   Okay,  let’s do some rapid fire:

Best horror movie to watch: See above.  A Nightmare on Elm Street. Seen it more than any other film ever. It’s the first movie I remember watching and it never, under any circumstances, gets old.

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Favorite fancy beer: Belgian Strong Dark ale brewed with cinnamon, on oak chips with figs.

Favorite crappy beer: Gotta go with PBR. I mean it won a blue ribbon. Did you know that?

Favorite book to read in October: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge is one of my favorite seasonal reads. It’s like Halloween Hunger Games. I wish I was reading it right this moment.

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Would you rather (Death Edition) …be hit by a bus or punched out of a helicopter: I hate to take the obvious route but I’d rather be attacked by two transformers that moonlight as a bus and helicopter, respectively. First, I’m riding the bus when it morphs into its robot counterpart, therefore crushing me within its robot bones. As I’m hurled out onto the street, with my last few dying breaths, I see a helicopter transform into its robot counterpart and guess what? Its fists? You guessed it. Both propellers. One punch and I’m all guts and gore strewn about. But like I said: obvious.

 

GR: Obvious?  Yep. What’s next for you? Books to read, book releases, conventions, podcasts?  Feel free to mention anything you want.

PL: Let’s see. I’m reading an ARC of Where the Dead Go to Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allen Gunnells (to be released by Crystal Lake Publishing) and it’s great so far. For my next release, Sinister Grin will be putting out my second novel Darkness in Lynnwood. It’s a small town horror novel about a teenage cult and is the most personal book I’ve written yet. It may or may not have driven me to the brink of insanity several times during the writing process. That should be released early to mid-2017. Then for conventions, I’ll be at Rock and Shock this October 14th, 15th, and 16th, hawking my books alongside my pals Adam Cesare and Bracken McLeod. And you bet your ass I’ll be back at Scares That Care next year. In fact, I think I have a table with that Glenn guy I mentioned earlier.

GR:  Oh yeah…that’s going to be fun.  Anyways, thanks for stopping by, jerk. 

PL: It was my pleasure, bastard.

 

 

Follow Patrick’s Blog tour for DREAM WOODS below:

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #DreamWoods #ScreamWoods #PeskyBear

Dream Woods, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Press
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2016

Follow your screams…

When Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work he notices a billboard that nearly sends him into an oncoming van.

The ad is for Dream Woods, New England’s answer to Disney World. It closed decades ago, but now that it’s back in business, Vince is eager to take his whole family, hoping the magic he remembers will save his failing marriage.

His wife, Audra, isn’t so sure. She’s heard the rumors of why the place closed. Murder. Sacrifice. Torture. But those are just urban legends. Surely there’s nothing evil about a family tourist attraction.

The Carters are about to discover that the park’s employees aren’t concerned with their guests’ enjoyment. They’re interested in something else. Something much more sinister.

Welcome to Scream Woods!

Patrick Lacey, Biography

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit hiswebsite.

Praise for Patrick Lacey

“This collection has it all, showing the world that Lacey can write and do it well. From frightening, eerie, soul-stamping to funny and gross, this book has it all. The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author ofA Mixed Bag of Blood

“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, Amazon Review

“This fast-paced novella has terror on every page and will keep you searching the shadows in your home far more often than needed.” – Russell James, author of Q Island, on A Debt to Be Paid

Purchase Links

Amazon

 

(Review) DREAM WOODS by Patrick Lacey

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DREAM WOODS (Sinister Grin Press) is the latest release from horror newcomer, Patrick Lacey.

This book revolves around the Massachusetts theme park, Dream Woods. The park was the highlight of so many kids in its heyday. After a number of horrible incidents, the place which earned the new moniker, “Scream Woods”, is shut down. The park is left to rot and disappear.

Years later, when Vince Carter drives by and sees the park has re-opened, he romanticizes the best week of his childhood and imagines a family trip to Dream Woods could be just what he and his wife need to bring them closer. Vince, his wife, Audra, and their twin pre-teens set out for a week that nobody wants any part of but Vince.

Audra dreams of a time before the boys when Vince and her were just a couple of punk rockers against the world. The boys, Tim, a diabetic who is the center of the family’s attention due to his disease, and Andrew, who is understandably jealous about being the constant second fiddle, add another layer of emotion and drama to the story.

The Carter’s are in for a heck of a vacation.

Lacey sets this wonderfully crazy story up with the flare of one Bentley Little. Constantly intriguing and engaging, keeping reality tipped off kilter at all times, resulting in a near-permanent unsettling state for the reader, this author knows how to pull your strings. I mentioned Little–at times,  it feels like this could have easily been titled, The Amusement Park. While the execution isn’t quite at the level of Mr. Little, it does show that Patrick Lacey means business.

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Lacey creates a cast of very real, well-rounded characters, and moves the story at a wonderful pace that makes it hard to put DREAM WOODS down. The violence is fantastically crafted and the story itself is a lot of creepy fun. “The Director” makes for a wonderful antagonist, unfortunately, he is overshadowed by the Dream Woods mascot, Sebastian (the bear on the cover– a creepy creation in his own right).

On the nitpicky side of things, I would love to have seen Lacey swing his horror hammer even more wildly in this one. He set up a lot of great scenarios, but never quite delivered the knock-out blow I was expecting. It felt, at times, like he was holding back. It’s not easy to kill our characters, but I think it often gives horror stories (especially), a more realistic feel to them. While not everyone makes it out alive here (actually, quite a few people die), I didn’t like Lacey’s choice at the end. It felt like someone got to be bad person through most of the book and then was given a free pass. I don’t want to give it away, so whether that makes sense to you or not, it is what it is.

Overall, I believe DREAM WOODS is a fantastic piece from an author with an immensely bright future, and judging from Lacey’s two previous releases (A DEBT TO BE PAID and the excellent collection, SLEEP PARALYSIS), this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lacey is set to open up the throttle and run us all down. And I’ll be in the middle of the road eagerly waiting.

I give DREAM WOODS 4 stars!

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #DreamWoods #ScreamWoods #PeskyBear

Dream Woods, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Press
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2016

Follow your screams…

When Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work he notices a billboard that nearly sends him into an oncoming van.

The ad is for Dream Woods, New England’s answer to Disney World. It closed decades ago, but now that it’s back in business, Vince is eager to take his whole family, hoping the magic he remembers will save his failing marriage.

His wife, Audra, isn’t so sure. She’s heard the rumors of why the place closed. Murder. Sacrifice. Torture. But those are just urban legends. Surely there’s nothing evil about a family tourist attraction.

The Carters are about to discover that the park’s employees aren’t concerned with their guests’ enjoyment. They’re interested in something else. Something much more sinister.

Welcome to Scream Woods!

Patrick Lacey, Biography

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit his website.

Praise for Patrick Lacey

“This collection has it all, showing the world that Lacey can write and do it well. From frightening, eerie, soul-stamping to funny and gross, this book has it all. The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author of A Mixed Bag of Blood

“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, Amazon Review

“This fast-paced novella has terror on every page and will keep you searching the shadows in your home far more often than needed.” – Russell James, author of Q Island, on A Debt to Be Paid

Purchase Links

Amazon

 

Want to Feature?

If you’d like to feature Patrick Lacey on your blog or site, or review Dream Woods, please give Erin Al-Mehairi, marketing and publicity at Sinister Grin Press, a shout out at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Update City: Let’s Get, Let’s Get, Let’s #GetRolfed

CHASING GHOSTS at Amazon.com PURCHASE NOW

CHASING GHOSTS at Amazon.UK    PURCHASE NOW

THE HAUNTED HALLS at Amazon.com  PURCHASE NOW

THE HAUNTED HALLS at Amazon.UK  PURCHASE NOW

If you’ve never been Rolfed before, September is the best time to acclimate yourself. August 1st saw the release of my Laymon-esque effort, CHASING GHOSTS (Sinister Grin Press), and this weekend (Spetember 3rd) offers those of you new to the Rolfe universe, a chance to own my first novel, THE HAUNTED HALLS (Matt Shaw Publications). There will be a Facebook Release Party for THE HAUNTED HALLS Friday. Stay tuned for details.

Z-Dubz over at THE EYES OF MADNESS coined the phrase, #GetRolfed  We’re hoping it catches on.

For those of you new to my work, I have three novellas with Samhain Publishing (Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and Things We Fear). They are also available in a collected book called, WHERE NIGHTMARES BEGIN (also from Samhain).  These three novellas find me branching my horror out into the edge of mystery, sci-fi, and psychological horror, but I’ve always had a thing for the Laymons, Keenes, and Ketchums of the world. If you read my werewolf novel, BLOOD and RAIN, you got a hint at my darker side. With CHASING GHOSTS, you got a full on kick to the teeth (Read the latest review HERE). And if you think that was rough you will be begging for mercy with THE HAUNTED HALLS. It’s my first novel,. It was originally self-published in serial format, then released by James Ward Kirk Publishing in 2014. I signed on with Samhain and they offered to republish it. When Samhain announced that they were closing their doors (which they later decided not to do), I got the rights for the novel back. Within days of getting the rights back, I signed an exclusive eBook contract for it with British Horror master, Matt Shaw. There’s a reason this novel found a home with Mr. Shaw–it is brutal and pulls no punches.  I’m super excited to see it coming back out and can’t wait to see what people think. An audio version will follow, narrated by the talented Joe Hempel (Voice of Joey) who did my audio book of SLUSH. Joe has also recently been busy with Adam Cesare and Mercedes Yardley. Print rights for the book are being shopped around. hopefully, we’ll find a happy home.

Looking ahead, I will have another 99 cent set of short stories for you guys before the end of the year. The stories included will be “The Death Wish” and “One of These Things…” along with a surprise that I can’t mention yet.

My next two novels, WINDOW and WAITING FOR DARKNESS (aka the sequel to Blood and Rain) will hopefully see the light of day before the end of 2017 or early 2018 at the latest. I think these are my strongest two novels to date and can’t wait to share them with you all. I’ll keep you posted.

As for now, I’ll be pushing these two latest piece, both of which I am hugely proud of, and I look forward to chatting with you guys soon.

Keep up to date with all my latest releases by following my Amazon Author page HERE

Stay tuned!

-GR