Category: On writing

She Makes Me Smile Review – Now In Swedish!

SMMS - Cover by Bob FordI came across a review of She Makes Me Smile by Jonny at http://www.swedishzombie.com. It’s originally written in Swedish, but I translated it with google for your reading purposes. I suppose that makes it my first international review. 😀

Check out the original Swedish version HERE.

Check out the english version HERE.

Pick up a copy of SMMS for 0.99 cents from Amazon or Smashwords.

My Second Convention/First Reading – Horrorfind 14

Horrorfind 14 Banner at entrance.

So it’s the day after I got home from the long trek back from the United States. It was the second convention I’ve attended and nowhere near my last. We rolled into the hotel late on Friday but still in time to catch up with a lot of our friends. I wanted to get to the readings, but I ended up just being the social butterfly the entire night and meeting as many people as I can. We ended up outside on the curb, drinks in hand and people watching. (I love that part.) I ended up crawling into bed WAY too late, or is that early in the morning… but not without setting a few alarms on my cell phone.

The alarms go off WAY too early, but that’s why I set more than one. I know me and I’m bound to turn off the first one and then miss whatever I’m supposed to be waking up for. I sit up in bed, trying to clear the beer fog out of my head, or maybe I’m still drunk… I’m not sure, but I know I have to wake up for something. Oh yeah, I finally work past the temporary memory loss and remember I wanted to attend Tom Monteleone’s reading, which was at 10am.

Tom Monteleone

*(We chatted later about him getting stuck with a horrible time slot… People do like to drink at these things.)

I had my first reading this weekend, and Kelli Owen told me I had to see Tom read. She was right. He really keeps the audience interested, he walks around the room, and even uses voices for different characters. I was really impressed. (Not that I would be walking around during my reading, it was my first and I’m pretty kultzy. I opted to stand at the podium for the entirety of my reading.) My time slot wasn’t til 4pm so I went back to the room to find the rest of my crew and regroup.

I made sure to make it to Kelli Owen‘s reading at 200pm. She read an awesome excerpt from her new novel “White Picket Prisons“. (I’ve read it and I highly recommend it.) The girl next to me nearly lost her shit when Kelli got to the part with the eyeball. Speaking of eyeballs Kelli had some awesome shwag to give away as well, everything was eyeballs. 🙂 Nicole Vlachos read from her new novel, “In The Absence of Sun” for the second half of the hour. It was her first reading as well, but she did a great job.

Kelli Owen

330pm I’m in my hotel room, checking the clock every two minutes. I’ve practiced my reading twice now. I have avoided beer for the entire afternoon (I was drinking vodka and flavored water though, I didn’t need to be sober, just not burp-y.) I was ready for my reading time. We decided to go down early as I wanted to set out some LampLight Magazine shwag on the seats before people showed up. (Yay, free bookmarks!)

*(Also,the first issue of Lamplight is free to download and my story “Summer Break” is in it, along with other great stories. Click this link!)

400pm The room was pretty full, I was a little nervous but not as bad as I thought I was going to be. My friend Dickie had my IPhone and was ready to record the reading and I was ready to read. People were still coming in, so I didn’t start just right on time… Plus the other author who was supposed to be reading with me, wasn’t there yet. All in all, she didn’t show up so I got the hour reading slot. 😀

Mandy DeGeit (ME!) 😀

I didn’t use the whole hour since I chose to read my flash stories, “Fatty” and “Summer Break”. I stuck with my decision to read those. I don’t think I went too fast, I was loud enough and I got through the reading.

*(After watching the video, I know I was a little fast, more so during the Q&A, but it was my first reading so I can only improve. My volume wasn’t too bad, it was a just a little room… and that would explain the heat issue.

I was sweaty and getting attacked by that freaking fly, but I did it. People enjoyed it, one of the girls in the audience even reacted to the ending of “Fatty”, and that is exactly why I write. 🙂

We had some time left so we were lucky enough to get a surprise reading by Michele Mixell, 2nd place winner of Yorkfest with her story “It Roars”. We still got out early, which was nice, since it was crazy hot in the little reading room.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the reading.

I have video which will is posted on Youtube. (The audio isn’t great, but it’s not bad.)

The rest of the con was what cons are known for, lots of drinks, lots of new people and lots of laughs. I had a great weekend and came away with some new connections. If you haven’t had the chance to attend a convention yet, you should add that to your bucket list. There are tons of them around, I should know, I keep adding more to my roster.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

Part One of Live Reading at Horrorfind 14 – “Fatty”

Part Two of Live Reading at Horrorfind 14 – “Summer Break”

Part Three of Live Reading at Horrorfind 14 – “Q&A Session”

Mandy’s Upcoming Appearances for 2012

So, I’ve been waiting to hear back from a couple conventions regarding possible readings or appearances. I’m really not good with waiting, so there’s been a whole lot of checking my email over and over and over and… well you get the picture.

Some of the wait is finally over. I heard back from two places so far. 🙂

I’ll be doing readings at both conventions. I’m hoping to have something different to read both weekends, just to shake it up a little.

August 31st to September 2nd 2012 – Horrorfind Weekend at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Saturday September 1 – 4:00 to 5:00pm

September 20th to 23rd 2012 – Killercon 4 at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sunday September 23 – 11:40am

These are my first official appearances, so f you happen to be in the area, stop by and say hi. Or have a seat in the audience as I stumble through my first live readings  😉

I’ll have chap books for sale and they will include the infamous short story “She Makes Me Smile” and a brand new story called “This Only Happens In The Movies”. The new one is really a novelette but I’ve  taken to calling it a novelita (my word for a 10 000 word short story).

The chapbook price will be in the 5$ range.

I have to say I’m pretty stoked about this. I’ll probably stumble through my reading as I stand in front of everyone shaking like a leaf, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Hope to see you there!

MDG

Having Words – The Boys of StrangeHouse Books

When I decided to start running interviews on my blog, I knew I’d run into some very interesting people. Never once did I think I would meet authors, (not one but TWO of them), who parallel my level of weirdness.

After having read Strange Sex and Scary Fucking Stories, (both books put out by StrangeHouse Books and right up my twisted little alley), I got in touch with Kevin Strange and Don Noble to find out what makes them tick…

***

Mandy: Hi! or Bonjour! as some of us Canadians say. Thanks for taking the time to answer my sometimes inane, yet fun questions. (I’ll try to keep my eh’s to a minimum throughout the questioning…) So tell me about yourself, one paragraph each of awesome explanatoriness.

Kevin: First up thank you beautiful authoress Mandy for doing this interview with the ones them call StrangeHouse Books! I’ll let Donnie Boy go first. Take it away, beautiful!

Don: I was born poor and have successfully stayed that way with dreams of being an artist. At a young age I started reading comics, I learned to draw and fell in love with creating my own stories. As I got older, I started playing music, toured, released a couple albums, and found that my writing was easily translated into song. I spent almost a decade doing the sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll bit (mostly tampering with psychedelics) and now find myself going full circle, back into my original love. Telling stories.

Kevin: Well, I used to make movies. Really offensive gore/sex/comedy indie movies. I did that for years and years. I made 5 feature films and over a dozen short movies. But shooting guerrilla style, ultra low budget indie movies, while extremely fun, is also extremely limiting in terms of scope and storytelling ability. Eventually I burnt out and felt like I’d told almost everything I had to say at that level of storytelling. So I started StrangeHouse with this beautiful, blue eyed lumberjack. And the rest is extreme horror history!

Mandy: Speaking of history, how did you two meet? I’m sure there’s an interestingly wicked story there… 😛

Don: I think I first met Kevin through a crazy chick. I mean…she was nuts. She told me that she used to fly jets for the mafia to deliver heroin. When I asked her when she did that, she replied, “1992.” I counted it up. She would’ve only been twelve at the time. Super hot girl, though. Just crazy. She had psychic powers, the whole shebang. Good times.  She was playing in one of Kevin’s short films (Dead Shit) and I came along to play a Steak ‘n’ Shake zombie. We might have met earlier, but you have to understand, it was my early twenties, I was always drunk. It gets a little foggy.

Kevin: That’s about right. I’ll add that the reason I stayed in touch with the bastard, and eventually asked him to join me on the StrangeHouse adventure, was that when we hung out together (through the crazy girl. Beautiful. Big ass tits!) All Don wanted to talk about was shit like Robert Anton Wilson, psychedelic phenomenon, ancient aliens, alternative history and just a ton of other non mainstream shit. The dude was obviously well read and intelligent, and his love for the arts made it a no brainer when I was ready to start a new chapter in my artistic life, to ask this dude to come along with me and help me re-shape the face of indie horror literature, for better or worse! And 6 months in, I have to say, I have not regretted that  decision once. Dude is a workhorse man. He takes everything I have to throw at him and keeps asking for more. (full homo)

Mandy: Gotta love the crazy girls… we do good work sometimes. 😉 Crazy girls aside, you two have paired up and created Strangehouse Books. Tell me (and the readers) a little about Strangehouse Books and it’s two current releases. (Strange Sex and Scary F*cking Stories.)

Don: Well, for a while before Kevin came up with the idea to start a publishing house, we had both started writing. He had transitioned from doing movies, and I had left music. We started this race to see whose short stories could get rejected the most, and then by sometime in late 2011, he proposed the idea of StrangeHouse Books. I said I wanted in, and in January (I think?) we pulled the trigger, and started emptying our wallets.

Strange Sex: A Strange Anthology was purely Kevin there. He wanted to come out of the gates just raunchy and provocative as hell. Since I have no shame, I agreed it was a fantastic fucking idea and immediately began writing a load of short stories just in case no one submitted. Since he’d built a lot of relationships with other artists through Hack Movies, it was the exact opposite. Greatly disturbed and talented folks came out of the wood work. I was very proud to be in those ranks. I keep telling people that book is like the penthouse forum in hell, so much dark, cynical humor in there, and so many great gross out scenes.

Scary Fucking Stories was the accumulation of my bump in the dark, more straight-forward horror. I grew up with the horror genre, and I always knew I could tell a good yarn. I spent a few years three-shits-deep in psychedelics, mainly fresh, wet, super potent fungi, and luckily I was a horror fan and had a good sense of humor, otherwise I might have gone absolutely mad and not just quasi-mad like I am now. Some of the story concepts in that book are blended in from those visions, and hallucinations. I took the big taboo- Death- and tried to weave a new spin, using mysticism and science to create what I thought were creepy, and suspense filled paranormal stories. When I started getting some great responses from them, the idea to make a book of short fiction came to mind. Guess I’m a creepy guy, just finally had to put it on paper.

Kevin: I spent 6 years, starting when I was just 19 years old, managing a chain of indie porn shops in the mid west. I’d been a pervert LONG before that, but the shit I saw and heard in those stores for the better part of a decade, I’ve used as much of my subject matter for my films and now my fiction. Since the Hack Movies (my indie film label) are extremely offensive horror/sex comedies, I wanted to help ease that fan base into StrangeHouse by keeping the subject matter as close as I could. Weird, offensive, totally crazy sex horror stories were the natural progression into StrangeHouse Books. I fucking love Strange Sex. There are so many stories in there that will just fuck you up if you’re not ready for them. It’s the perfect flagship book for our label and if you haven’t read it, you’re missing the fuck out, for real.

Mandy: I have to say I’ve read both books, really enjoyed them and recommend them to friends all the time. Strange Sex was even my coffee table book for a little while. Inquiring minds want to know who or what inspired you to start writing?

Don: I was a huge fan of the comic Spawn and Preacher when I was growing up and every terrible and great zombie movie you could think of. Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm Street, Gremlins. All those things were constantly playing in my childhood. They were huge early influences in storytelling. I was an avid fan of the old Conan books and Stephen King. As I got older guys like Robert Anton Wilson and books like the Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy appealed to my quirky nature. I think it was my earliest love really, and I’m such a hard-headed fuck I refuse to give it up.

Kevin: As I said earlier, ultra low budget film does not offer the same type of creative outlet as fiction. I’ve been an avid reader my whole life, starting with Choose Your Own Adventure books, moving into Goosebumps as I got older (I sometimes read two a day!) and finally when I got into high school, shit like H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. But what inspires me creatively? (now I’m interviewing myself!) Porn, Saturday Morning cartoons, John Waters movies, Troma, Full Moon Pictures, comic books, ultra gore Japanese flicks like Ichi the Killer and Tokyo Gore Police, cheese-ball 80s horror flicks like C.H.U.D., Chopping Mall, and Street Trash. Just anything generally considered low brow and only technically artistic.

Mandy: We must be around the same age… A lot of those are very familiar to me as well. Now to the extreme opposite side of inspiration, what do you think has been your biggest challenge as an author?

Don: Typos and motherfucking dyslexia. Ha, no really, I think it’s just finding a place away from the world where I can concentrate and not be bothered, or suffer from interference.  With a world filled with cell phones and Facebook, electronics can be like heroin.

Kevin: My biggest challenge as an author is picking one idea to stay excited about. A lot of authors claim to suffer from writers block, or a shortage of ideas that haven’t been done before. I say bullshit! There is no such thing as writer’s block! I get inspired with new ideas while taking shits or jacking off (sometimes both at the same time. Hey! Let’s keep it classy here!). And there hasn’t been a fresh idea since the god damn bible (see what I did there?). Writing is all about putting your personal spin on shit. Thinking outside the box, not in terms of new ideas. Everything you ever write is going to have an intro, a conflict, a climax and a conclusion. There’s only so many ways to tell that story. The thing you can add to it, and make your own, is the flavor of toppings you use on your story pizza. Want to tell a vampire story? Throw in mutants, the apocalypse, ultra gore fight scenes, feral vampires that look more like Predator than Edward Cullen and lots and lots of toxic goo! Except don’t do any of those things cause those are the plot elements of my new novel Vampire Guts in Nuke Town. Steal that shit and I’ll sue the fuck out of you! (not really. Yes really. No, not at all, go ahead, just call it part 2: Return of the nuke! I’ll write an intro for you!)

Mandy: Ha ha, electronics and masturbation… Those are two of my biggest distractions as well. 😉 Change of subject… Who are your current favorite author(s)? Favorite novel(s)?

Don: S.M. Stirling and the “Dies the Fire” series.  The “Dark Tower” series by Stephen King. “Death Lands” series by James Axler. Anything by Chuck Palahniuk. Brian Keene’s “The Rising” and “City of the Dead.”

Kevin: I’ve recently (believe it or not, it took this long) gotten into the bizarro/hardcore horror authors like Ed Lee, Carlton Mellick, Jeff Burk, Jordan Krall, etc. I’ve also read a lot of Brian Keene and Jeffery Thomas lately. I’m also into lovecraftian writers like W. H. Pugmire. I’d have to say, my current favorite novel, and the one I’ve been recommending to all of my writer friends, is Mellick’s Ape Shit. It’s just a crazy, ultra offensive 80s horror send up that does not skimp on the shock and awe. Very simplistic but very well done if you’re into schlock.

Mandy: Bonus brownie points for me as Strange Sex is one of my favourites at the moment, which would put the two of you (as well as 11 other authors in this category for me). You know I’m going to ask for a poster when I meet you guys… 😛 I seriously hope there’s more coming down the pipeline from StrangeHouse Books. What are your current or upcoming projects?

Don: So far I have “Scary Fucking Stories” and “Beer Run of the Dead” out. My next upcoming novel is called, “Grownups Must Die,” a tale that follows how tribes and clans of children survive after an apocalypse of sorts. It’s a darker, more serious work. Ultra-violent. After that, my next novel will be totally bizarro. It’s called, “Apocalypse Meow.”

Kevin: The aforementioned Vampire Guts in Nuke Town will be my debut novel. It follows the main character, Guts, through a post apocalyptic nuked-out wasteland full of deformed mutants, motorcycle gangs, and big, nasty, feral vampires. It’s like my version of Conan. Guts is a character I can always come back to and explore. Writing this novel has been some of the most fun I’ve had in the decade I’ve been writing professionally (Can you really call writing/directing movies like COCKHAMMER professional? And how many times can I use parentheses in this interview?) After that, I’ve got another ultra-gore, super sexual novel coming out called, Face Melting Pizza Freaks. It’s a send up to all the cheesy 80s goo movies like Street Trash, The Blob, Slime City, and The Stuff. You’ll definitely feel like taking a shower after you’re done with that one. Also sometime in there, I’ve got a collection of short fiction called, Murder Stories for your Face Meat coming out. All these should hit in 2012.

Mandy: Hooray! More to add to my bookshelves. I happen to like “real” books, so I usually order the paperbacks. What about you guys, do you prefer Print or Ebook and why?

Don: I haven’t tried the Ebook thing yet, so I can’t really say. I think I’m more old-school. I like having the book on my shelf, and plus, I don’t have to worry if I forgot to charge my book’s battery or not.

Kevin: As both an author and a fan, I’ll always enjoy the tactile sensation of owning and reading a hard copy of a book. I have two bookshelves full of books at home. The eBook thing, just like the digital music craze, it just cheapens the artistic effect. Songs stop being albums, they just become MP3 files to randomly listen to, catalog, and eventually delete. There is no soul in digital art. You can’t connect with an artist through an LCD screen. You can’t have your favorite author sign your Kindle. It’s rubbish man. Fuck eBooks. (Pick up Beer Run of the Dead, and soon the entire Strangehouse Books catalog on your Kindle by surfing over to Amazon.com today! Thanks Joel!)

Mandy: Sign… the… books??? Great idea! I’ve always just gotten my boobs signed, but it always washes off and you can’t not shower. (Lol! Totally just kidding.) I’m sure I’ll have a few things for you guys to sign when I meet up with you guys at a convention somewhere. I’ve noticed on Facebook you guys have been hitting up a lot of cons lately, which is your favourite convention and why?

Don: All the conventions have been a blast. I can’t really pin-point an exact one, but I think I was most surprised by the St. Louis con. Since it’s sort of our hometown, there was a sense that maybe we would be a flop (because people like to think STL is a dead zone), but so far, that’s been our best show. Plus, a good chunk of our friends could make it down, and it’s always nice to burn through some vodka with the locals. Honestly, the biggest, meanest show so far has been HorrorHound. Those guys did it up.

Kevin: I’ve done over 20 shows since 2006, but my favorite show as StrangeHouse on this first year’s worth of book tours was hands down Contamination in St. Louis. We got lots of love and made a shit load of money dollars! But my favorite con town, and the place I’m super stoked to go to next month for Flashback Weekend, (featuring a From Beyond cast reunion!) is Chicago. We’ve had nothing but success up there. Chicago loves to support indie art. I can’t fucking WAIT to show them these twisted ass movie books in color! (It’s a movie book cause it plays in your head…. in color…. get it?)

Mandy: Follow-up question to the con one: What’s your favourite drink? (We’re authors… it’s a valid question.)

Don: Tequila, lime and salt. Although… that is not my “writing” drink. That’s my party-time drink. Vodka or Whiskey, or some cheap beer, PBR will usually do the trick. I’m not a materialist, nor do I have a taste for the expensive stuff. I’m a lush.

Kevin: I didn’t drink for 7 solid years. The entire catalog of Hack Movies was created stone sober. I used to be proud of that fact, until I was so stressed and beaten down by the cold, unforgiving indie art field, that I was driven to start drinking again. And guess what? I’ve found that near a decade of sobriety helps one deal with moderation. (Or maybe it’s that I’m 32 and not 25) I don’t know. But suffice it say, I enjoy my drinky time now. Oh yes. Especially at cons. Find me sober at a show. I dare you! Any hard liquor will do, but lately I’ve been drinking a shit load of Vodka Sprites thanks to my lovely lady friend Kristen Lugosi. (Take a drink every time Kevin goes parenthetical. You’ll be hammered by now!)

Mandy: First rounds on me when we meet. Topic change! Time for something more serious… Everyone seems to be up in arms over reviews at the moment, how important are reviews to your work?

Don: Since I’ve only been published this year, reviews to me are more about learning about my works through the eyes of others. I want to see how my work has affected someone, whether it’s good or bad, that doesn’t really matter. I know I can’t please everyone. Shit, the best responses have been from older family members who decided to buy my stuff. The older folks couldn’t really handle it. “It’s written well, I mean you’re a great writer, but Jesus, it was too fucked up to get through.” That’s been the best so far. Plus they’ll never ask me to baby sit again. I enjoy that.

Kevin: Reviews have always been integral to my indie art. I don’t have the budget to advertise, so it’s always been the word-of-mouth from die hard horror fans that has spread my perversion around the globe and allowed me this tiny bit of cult infamy that I’m grateful to possess. BUT! Having said that. Don’t ever, EVER take these things to heart. It’s just one fucko’s opinion. I’ve had one critic call a scene from a Hack Movie the worst thing he’d ever seen in a film, hands down. And another say, of the exact same scene mind you, that it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen on film, and that it made him an instant fan for life. I’ve been called the worst filmmaker of all time. I’ve been called a poser trying to BE the worst filmmaker of all time. (How’s that for a kick in the nuts?) I’ve been called the next Kevin Smith and one of the most original voices in indie horror. You just NEVER KNOW! So don’t let the bad reviews get you down. Don’t ever let critics question your writing ability. Write for your damn self! If you put something out into the world you’re not proud of and happy with, then it’s your own fucking fault and maybe you deserve to be put in your place. Calm down and write shit that you want to read that nobody else is putting out. Like a mutant gangbang with tiny deformed humanoids that shoot green squirmy jism all over a porcupine girl (again, from Vampire Guts in Nuke Town). Otherwise, do what I do. Look for any sentence that can be construed as a positive and use it on your cover art all big like, then send the snarky asshole a picture of it in an email. 🙂

Mandy: Since you both have stories and books out or coming out, you must be doing something right. Would you have any advice for other writers?

Don: Learn some mechanics of telling a story. Really, brush off some of the English classes, and just write. One word at a time, every goddamn day. I would never worry about being original, completely original. Everything has been done. Between the Greeks and the Simpsons you’re already fucked on that. Find a story you want to write, and tell it your own way. I’ve read tons of stuff in the same universe, tons of zombie and apocalyptic shit. A lot of the basic ideas are the same, but it’s in the new characters, and the new scenes. Those things keep drawing me back in.  Add your own spice, and really, just write.

Kevin: Yeah. Quit fucking trying to re-invent the wheel. You’re not going to write the next Fight Club or The Rising. Those guys didn’t sit down to write a cult classic. They set out to write a fun story. Write shit that makes you whoop and pace around your desk when you finish it. Get fucking excited about writing instead of acting so insecure and passive/aggressive about it! You’re a fucking artist of words. Be fucking proud of it! Yes anyone can open a word processor and write fiction, but not everybody can rape, torture, and kill the same chick in a novel 5 separate times! (Guess what post apocalyptic vampire book that’s from? Oh and take another drink.)

Mandy: I’m not playing the drinking game. I’d never get this interview posted… Okay so we all know that I’m no fortune teller, I wish… but I’m not. In this case, I’ll need you to tell me what are your plans for the future, either writing or otherwise?

Don: I plan to keep writing, and building StrangeHouse Books with ol’ Kevin Strange. I want to write till people beat me to death with my own literature. Eventually, I would love to get back into film, and I’m sitting on an unreleased album I might put out in a year or so, but I’m at home here. Until I can build an Iron Man suit, this is what I plan to do.

Kevin: Writing, writing and fucking more writing. And when I’m not writing? Touring the books I write. And in between those things? Signing other bad ass authors and taking them out on tour with me to the great mid western USA where it is still, and will always be, 1985. The mid west, where you can meet 80s action stars like Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds, 80s porn stars like Seka and Ron Jeremy, AND see crazy motherfuckers like StrangeHouse Books all at the same show!

Shout out to our newest partner and head editor of StrangeHouse Books, Nicholas Day! (who will no doubt cringe at the amount of grammatical mistakes in these interview answers) Shout out to Mikey Lombardo at ReelSplatter.com! (who gets horribly murdered in Pizza Freaks!) Shout out to StrangeHouse editors Sean Ferrari and Joel Blair! Shout out to those two chicks from Fright Night Film Fest! Shout out to the motherfucking Sexsquach! Peace Bitches! Strangehouse fo Life!

Mandy: I’d like to thank Kevin and Don for participating in my second instalment of Having Words, here on MandyDegeit.com. It’s comforting to know there are other writers just as weird as I am. I shall end this interview with pictures of the boys in their natural habitat. (Just so you know who they are and can either seek them out or avoid them. Whichever one fits your needs more.) ~MDG~

Don Noble

Don Noble

Kevin Strange

Kevin Strange

Review: Strange Sex – A Strange Anthology

Cover Art by Shamus BeyaleStrangehouse Books takes horror, erotica and a dash of weird, pops everything into a blender and liquifies it into what becomes Strange Sex, a Strange Anthology. Each of stories toe the imaginary lines between right and wrong. Your reaction to the stories will depend greatly on how twisted your mind is, they will either gross you out or turn you on but overall they will entertain you with a new idea. If you’re tired of all the “usual” horror stories (or bored of the regular guy on girl erotica), this is definitely the book for you.

When it comes to short stories, it’s difficult to say something about it without giving too much away. (This explains why some of the story descriptions sound like movie tag lines.)

No spoilers have been used in the writing of this review.

Interloper by D.F Noble – A man who’s life has been thwarted in life seeks answers. He manages to find them in the most unusual place.

Love Bites by David C. Hayes – Andy Crank has a disturbing fetish and no one to share it with. Until he comes across the newscast from which stems the idea that changes his life.

Pulmonary Ed by Rich Bottles, Jr. – Pulmonary Ed is the kind of loser you don’t want near your children, however, he eventually finds himself in a position of authority over the public. As scary as the latter sounds, Ed doesn’t work alone.

Appetites by Mike Lombardo – Everyone has a sexual appetite, but in some, it’s much stronger than others.

Foreigner by D.F. Noble – It seems like you haven’t been yourself lately… in more ways than one.

The Language of Love by Amanda Williams – Aliens have managed to coexist with humans for years. A young woman begins to wonder if it would it possible for a human and her dinosaur like teacher’s assistant to connect on “other” levels?

Deth Morgue by Elizadeth Hetherington – Edith is a quiet, lesbian coroner who normally keeps to herself. That is until Morianna, the sultry new employee, shows up for her first day of work.

Vagary by Justin Roberts – Sam’s sexual appetite is starting to rule his life. When he confides in his friend Eric about his issue, Eric tells him about a whorehouse where, as long as you follow the rules, all your fantasies can come true. However, the rules are never to be broken, as Sam will soon find out.

F*ck or Feast by Craig Mullins – Normals and mutants now inhabit the world turned wasteland.  You are captured, taken prisoner and brought to the city, Darkham. You and two other normals are taken to a room where you’re left in wait. Unfortunately, your future doesn’t look very promising.

Cinnamon by D.F. Noble – In 2032, humans have perfected androids for all their needs. Cinnamon is the first self-aware android who’s had enough of human need and decides to do something about it.

Cotton Candy by Kevin Strange – Girls in a literature class receive a strange text from their professor informing them to meet in the classroom at 8pm on a Saturday. When they arrive, the classroom is strangely filled with plush animals and furry costumes. On the desk is a manuscript entitled “Cotton Candy” penned by their recently absent teacher which will hopefully explain what’s going on.

Necrosaurus Rex by Nicholas Day –  When things go wrong for Alice, they really go wrong. Martin, a janitor struggles with who he really is. Time travel and dinosaurs add element of science and mystery to this strangely erotic tale of finding out where you belong.

The Sexorcist by Kyle Noble – A young girl is possessed by a powerful demon and the priests understand the only way to rid her of her unwanted guest is to perform a sexorcism.

Strange Sex: A Strange Anthology can be purchased here in paperback format.

*(The great cover art was thanks to Shamus Beyale and his website can be found here.)

I deem this book Mandy-tory reading.

MDG

Review: Scary F*cking Stories by D.F. Nobel

Cover Art by Gabriel Wyse

Sometimes a title of a book strikes a chord and sticks with you. Maybe it’s because it moves you, maybe it reminds you of something from your past, or if you’re like me, it’s cause it’s got a huge swear word in the title.

This exact thing happened to me when I saw the cover for the collection of stories by D.F. Noble called Scary F*cking Stories. (I’d explain the * is really a “u” but I’m sure everyone figured that out already.) These weren’t just stories, these were f*cking stories.

I HAD to have it.

I waited and waited for it to be released by Strangehouse Books,
I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived. 😀
I didn’t get around to reading it until now and I’m glad I did.

Scary F*cking Stories contains ten short stories and an introduction by the author himself. The introduction informs the reader about the paranormal experiences Noble and his relatives have been involved in at the family farm house.

The stories in this collection cover a wide variety of themes, from monsters to weird weather patterns, to paranormal experiences and even aliens.

The Cellar – A short story about a teenage virtuoso, Marcus, and his psychologist, Shelly Andrews. Shelly delves into Marcus’ subconscious to help him through a tough time, but is she prepared to deal with what she uncovers?

Through The Walls – A babysitter loses a child and her sanity but leaves behind a letter and security camera footage that may hold the key to the truth.

Loop Road – Steven is on his way to visit his uncle when an accident on Loop road has him running in circles. The journey is sometimes more than half the battle.

Contact Schematic – This quick read outlines how to use strategically placed mirrors to induce a “visionary state”. The author also includes an email if the readers decide they want to share their experiences.

Wait In Line – The military has evacuated your city into refugee camps. People must comply or they are put to death. You move along with the herd like everyone else, but where are you heading?

Dead Wrong – A letter from a man to his brother which could change everything.

James – Sam’s dreams turn to nightmares the moment she moves into her aunt and uncle’s place. What or who is the reason for the horrible things she sees when she sleeps?

The Pen Or Sword. The Ghost Or Gun. –  An employee decides to torment his boss with the ultimate practical joke but something happens that wasn’t in his plans.

The Blood Tide – Strange clouds roll in, condemning the patrons of a small gas station to face the most horrifying storm ever.

The Doorman – An autistic boy disappears and his parents entertain some extreme ideas to find him.

Night Cap – In the final part of the book, Noble addresses more of his personal strange experiences that all have a common denominator, the tiny town of Bunker Hill.

Scary F*cking Stories was a fun read. Noble’s retelling of his paranormal personal experiences in the introduction helps set the tone of the book early on.  The stories were imaginative, entertaining and progressed easily. Noble takes the things that use to go bump in the night to a new level.

Stories deserving extra mention are Wait In Line, The Pen Or Sword. The Ghost Or Gun and The Blood Tide.

Posts From A Treadmill – The 20 minute blog post.

I haven’t blogged from the treadmill lately since I decided to move my workouts outside. However, today I’m back in the gym/fitness room because I started a running program in the last few days and it’s easier for me to follow the interval training on a treadmill. Supposedly, this 8 week, 3 days a week program will allow me to run 5km at the end of it. That’s not bad specially for someone like me who doesn’t run at all right now. (Unless of course something is chasing me).

I figure running serves a few purposes:

1- Cardio is super important for both for my health in the present but also when the impending zombie apocalypse comes in the near future.
2- Weight loss 🙂 I have to do cardio anyways so I might as well run.
3- It’s something I can’t do and I hate not being able to do something. I figure learning to run is something new and I like newness. I hope at the end of my program to take part in a 5km run and actually finish it. It’s not a lot, but for me who runs not at all right now, it’s a good thing. (I can run, but not well and not for very long. I’m really down and out on my aerobic lung capability… Even with quitting smoking… Oh and I look HORRIBLE when I run right now, but this is why I’m  working on that. I’ll get better.)

Also, the treadmill here is not working right, but I’m dealing with it…

Besides running or learning to do so, I’ve been focusing on my other business Idle Hands.ca. (Shameless plug. Haha plug, how fitting…) IdleHands is my home business where I sell masturbation toys / pleasure objects through online shopping and in home parties. It’s a pretty awesome job in itself as I get to make people happy. I’m expanding my product line and will be doing home parties n the Ottawa area in the fall. I think it’s going to be an interesting business year to say the least.

Writing wise, I’m still plugging away at Maple. She’s a great character and I think her first appearance in a story will not be her last one.  I’m sitting at 3700 right now and I’m pretty happy at my first attempt at a story genre other than horror. I’m hoping to have it done and submitted by the end of the month, I started it for an anthology and Maple just happened.  I’ll be doing more with her in the future so keep an eye out for more Maple.

What else…? Oh stand-up. No, not you, don’t get up from your seat… “You should be a stand up comedian”  is one is the most commonly mentioned phrases to me and yes, I want to do stand up. I’ve been jotting down the stories I think I would want to use for an upcoming open mic night somewhere, some future time. Who knows, I might be alright at it.  It they don’t laugh I prob will.  So I’m gonna do it… Or at least try to.

~ Do or do not… There is no try. ~  Yoda

…and that would be a twenty minute blog post.

MDG

Pressurized Deadlines -or- Why I write better with no time at all.

With Canada Day come and gone, I’m back to the regular grind again. July 1st was an important day for about four other reasons as well, it was deadline day. For the past few months, I’ve had July 1st circled on my calendars because things were due to be submitted. I tried to get things done earlier, but every time I sat down at the computer, I struggled with what I had to do. Apparently, I love to procrastinate.

I had months to finish up the four stories I wanted to submit. I tried to get things done earlier, but it didn’t happen. Finally as the last week approaches, something in me switched on. I started to get things done. I didn’t have much choice as they were due in a few days…

The moment I realized the due date was approaching, I completed one story after the other. It was easy, I just sat down and wrote. In less than a week, I had four stories completed, pre-read, edited and submitted to their respective anthologies.

Now I wait.

What I want to know is why couldn’t I get them done a long time ago? Why did I have to wait ’til the last week to find it in me to do what I had to do? I understand that Facebook is a serious issue for me. *(I’ve been on it three times so far in during this blog post… lol!)

It’s not like I don’t have the ideas, my phone and my desktop are full of notes about stories I should write.
It’s not like I don’t have the time. Time, I seem to have too much of.
So why can’t I do anything??? ARGH!

(I do have to say, at least I got it done. I didn’t miss any deadlines, but this isn’t a productive way to work.)

I’ve made calendars and lists, so yes, I am working on managing my time better. I wonder when this all started… I don’t think I had this problem before. I used to manage a department store. Did I have issues with time management then? I don’t think so, I would’ve been talked to about it. Maybe I need an assistant manager. Like a secretary or something to help keep me on track, or at least completing things much more quickly.

I’ve done well today, my plan is to work on the story I started over my holidays. “This only happens in the movies” is the working title and it’s a horror story. I also am working on another story this week, not horror though. More of a comedy/action with a wicked character named Maple. I have her planned out to be a recurring character, but my procrastination has so far kept her as just an idea. She’s made it onto the paper, but then I just stopped writing. Feedback on this storyline is awesome so far.

It’s in my plans to only work on those two stories this week. I hope to have them finished by Friday. I’ve also slacked off on my reviews and interviews, so I’ll be reading two books this week and attempting to do one author interview.

Maybe cause I wrote about it here, it will happen.

It’s my magic blog.

(I’ll keep you posted…)

~MDG~

Surprise! Guess Who’s Back? Again…

ARGH!!! I wish this issue would just go away…
The issue being Tony and his presses: Undead Press, Living Dead Press and OpenCasket Press*.

*(On that note, why does he need three presses anyway? It makes him seem sketchy. Well he is a sketchy publisher, we all know this, but after the whole fiasco and everyone knowing what he’s up to… he’s still trucking in the publishing world.)

I was messaged by one of my fellow authors yesterday, Brent Abell. He had originally been accepted into Cavalcade of Terror, but was smart enough to pull out of the ToC when he saw the contract. Tony emailed him a few days ago, asking if the story he had originally sent in was still “up for grabs”. You can read Brent’s story here. I shook my head and said WTF? I couldn’t believe that after Brent pulled out of the anthology, Tony had the nerve to message him asking for the story. Obviously, Brent said no.

Shortly after the above mentioned happened, I received a message from Wes Southard (one of the authors who was in Cavalcade of Terror) stating the same thing. Tony emailed him asking for a story. This request was also turned down with a resounding NO! and Wes blogged about it here.

Since Tony is still up to his shoddy/vanity publishing tricks, I feel it necessary to bring up a few facts that may have saved me a lot of trouble in the beginning.

The two most important rules for writing, which have been driven into my brain by Kelli Owen, are both #1’s because they are both EQUALLY IMPORTANT and they are:

1- GET PAID!

Is your book up on Amazon for free? Is this a work for charity? Fine then, not a problem. Continue on.

If it’s not free to the general public, this means the publisher is making money off something you created for free. That’s not right. We are writers, it’s a job for us, why are we working for free? Do you get free gas from the gas station? Harlan Ellison says it best in his rant about getting paid. Watch the rant here.

1- CONTRACTS CAN BE CHANGED! (Before signing obviously)

This is something I didn’t know. The contract sent to you isn’t the be all and end all. You have the right to change things that you don’t like and send it back. If you don’t understand contracts, find someone who does.

Here’s the first page of the contract Tony sent me for She Makes Me Smile. Let’s discuss.

It’s like a game. FIND THE MISTAKES!!!

First of all, there’s a mistake in the title. “Calvacade of Terror” should be “Cavalcade of Terror”, I noticed this, but signed anyways. Honestly I told Wes Southard: “Worse case scenario, the spelling mistake gives us a way out of the contract, if we need one.” (Jebus, if I only knew how right I was.)

#1- License to Publish: “Publisher has the right to edit WORK before release” EDIT EDIT EDIT. Now even thought Tony doesn’t know the difference between edit and rewrite/rework/create new paragraphs, it was up to me to ensure somewhere in here said “I GET TO SEE THESE EDITS BEFORE THE STORY GOES TO PRINT” aka a galley will be sent to me so I can approve my story. *(This tiny step would’ve saved Tony a lot of trouble). Make sure you see something of the sort, allowing you to approve edits before publication.

#4- “Author is to be paid the rate of one print copy of an overstock book.” This is crap. This is Tony having too many of his own VanityBullcrapBooks floating around in his mom’s basement and she’s sick of looking at them. He’s paying us with one of his own books which he couldn’t sell, not even a copy of our own anthology. NO NO NO!

#5- “Subsidiary Rights” This means: Tony would get paid if you ever sold it for any movie rights or anything, that HE would get paid, so for a story he never paid YOU for, HE would get paid. THIS IS CRAP! *(I didn’t understand this one, and just signed it, that was my mistake. Kelli Owen explained it to me.) Please be cautious, again if you don’t understand something, ask around.

I could spend time going over the whole contract, but there’s really no point. Tony’s grammar and spelling in correspondance should’ve been enough for me to walk the hell away from whatever he was doing as a publisher, but the stars in my eyes blocked me from seeing what I should have. I let “the idea of being published” get in the way of common sense.

What I know now:

-Getting published in a vanity book like his isn’t worth the time I spent writing my stories.
-How to deal with contracts.
-Good presses will allow you to change your contract if there’s something you don’t like.
-If they want your story, the publisher will make things happen.

MDG

(I understand not everyone wants to hear me talk about this issue. I’m directing this specifically to the girl who told me off when I tried to warn her and a friend about Tony’s bad habits. While I understand you haven’t been screwed over YET, why risk it? To be published in a book that no one will see, which was just made so the publisher can showcase his stories and make money off something you worked on? If that’s why you write, then I bow out to you. You should check your contracts though, because I’m 100% sure you’ve lost a hell a lot more than you should’ve… but that’s okay, because you know better than me. 😀 Good luck with your writing. Sorry for trying to help. Also, I have a big fat I-told-you-so waiting, so don’t come crying to me when something does happens…)

Self-Publishing: Do or do not. Here’s the why…

“…and they lived happily ever after.
The end.”

In the world of writing/publishing, once the writer is done his part, the story doesn’t magically disappear, only to reappear on someone’s bookshelf as a completed novel. *(While that would be really nice, it doesn’t happen.)

The step between writing and reading—and the topic of this article—is publishing.

To publish or to self-publish?” seems to be the question on a lot of minds these days.

With the addition of D-I-Y programs through websites such as Amazon and Smashwords, Self-publishing has become a much simpler task. However, a recent article* from The Guardian states, “Half of self-published authors earn less than $500 a year”.

So what is an author with a finished story to do?

Here are some points that may help facilitate the decision-making process

-You’ll make more money: (PRO) You will pocket most of the profit from your book sales. (CON) There’s no guarantee the book will sell a single copy if you self-publish.

-You get paid faster: (PRO) Places like Amazon send monthly payments for royalties, whereas publishers pay royalties by the quarter. (CON) Publishers pay quarterly, but they may offer advances.

-Retain all rights to your work: (PRO) Self-publishing allows you to retain all your rights, whereas publishers will try to retain some rights to the story. (FYI: Don’t forget authors have the right to question/change their contracts with publishers prior to signing.)

-Book comes out quickly: (PRO) Self-Publishing can have a book up in 12 hours whereas publishing houses can take months or even more than a year. (CON) There is a prejudice against self-publishing: Self-pubs have an amateur feel to them (as they were, more than likely, put out by an amateur).

-Publish at your own pace: (PRO) You can set your own deadlines and write at your own pace. (CON) If you wait too long between books, your fans will lose interest.

-Total Control: (PRO) No more waiting for acceptance/rejections. You are in charge of the entire project. (CON) You are in charge of the entire project, which means in charge of the editing, formatting, marketing, advertising and anything else that comes with writing a novel.

-Complete Freedom: (PRO) You have complete freedom to market your book as you see fit. (CON) Time becomes an issue when you are juggling writing and marketing your own work.

-Time to find an audience: (PRO) The author has time to find an audience, it’s not as time-sensitive for their books to sell compared to being put in a bookstore. (CON) How much time do you really have to invest in marketing yourself?

Finally, while anyone can self-publish—the question remains—should it be published in the first place? If you are debating on self-publishing because publishers keep rejecting your story, you may want to look into why they are rejecting it in the first place (content, grammar, editing, overall storyline, etc.)

Personally, as a fledgling author, I’d prefer to go the route of the publisher rather than self-publish (for now). While I do have one self-published short story, (due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding it), I am focusing on writing and leaving the publishing up to the professionals. This decision allows me the time to build my writing skills and learn to be a writer. I’d much rather spend my time writing new stories and honing my craft, than trying to build my audience or learning to myself as an author.

Overall, a good mix of both publishing houses and self-publishing will allow you expand your reach as an author, generate more sales and create a larger fan base. (A good example of someone using both methods for her benefit is author Kelli Owen. All of Kelli’s new work is released through her publisher and she is using the self-publishing route to put her older titles back on the market as the rights revert back to her.)

I leave with two final thoughts.

Just because it’s been rejected, doesn’t mean it’s no good.
Just because you can self-publish, doesn’t mean you should.

MDG aka Mandy DeGeit

* http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings?CMP=twt_fd