The Exorcism Begins in Three Days…

EXORCIST ROAD is coming. If you haven’t heard about this brand-new plus-sized novella, here’s the description:

Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?

Chicago is gripped by terror. “The Sweet Sixteen Killer” is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.

A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.

But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn’t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

This story combines the ferocity of the demonic possession sub-genre with the mysteriousness of a classic whodunit. I think you’re really going to enjoy this one, folks.

Get it here for only $3.15.

Sweet dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

On the Eve of EXORCIST ROAD’s Release, Pope Francis Approves Exorcisms

THE EXORCIST. LEGION. SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT.

Some of the best horror novels of the past half-century have examined demonic possession and the rites of exorcism. The topic itself is extremely complicated and even more controversial. Clearly, however, the concept of exorcism is a fascinating one that continues to enthrall readers and moviegoers everywhere.

demonic1

As the title of this post mentions, Pope Francis has just reinstituted exorcism, calling it “a form of charity that benefits the sufferer.” Whether demonic possession is real or not, and whether or not exorcism is “a form of charity” are fiercely debated questions.

In my very-soon-to-be-released novella EXORCIST ROAD, two priests attempt to exorcise a fearsome demon inhabiting a fourteen-year-old boy. If you enjoy a spine-tingling tale and have ever enjoyed a story about demonic possession or exorcism, I hope you check out EXORCIST ROAD. And even if you haven’t read or seen an exorcism story, now is a great time to pick one up.

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

I have to go now. I’m editing one novel and writing another. I’ll be telling you about both of them soon…

Classic

Classic

EXORCIST ROAD: The Serial Killer and the Possession

Have you heard about my new novella? Even though I’m primarily a novelist, there are readers who actually prefer my novellas to my novels. They’re crazy, of course, because I’m awesome in either length. But yeah, some folks dig the novellas more.

But seriously.

Wait a minute...There aren't any butter churns in this one?

Wait a minute…There aren’t any butter churns in this one?

There have been three novellas thus far: WITCHING HOUR THEATRE (which I’ll post some news about soonish), OLD ORDER (which you’ll enjoy unless you’re looking for an Amish romance, in which case you’ll leave me a one-star review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and chastise me for not writing a wholesome story that features the Plain People doing, well, plain things, I guess), and THE CLEARING OF TRAVIS COBLE (which has an ending that once caused a co-worker to look at me like I was the lovechild of Ted Bundy and the Devil himself).

And now there’s a fourth. EXORCIST ROAD is the longest novella I’ve written, clocking in at well over a hundred pages. It’s also the first story I’ve written entirely from the first-person point-of-view. It’s also the first time I’ve dealt with demonic possession (in my fiction, not real life, though I sometimes wonder about my wife when she’s sleep-deprived—KIDDING, LOVEY! Don’t throw anything at me! You’re always sweet and loving and—*flees into another room*). Lastly, it’s my first Chicago story, which is sort of exciting. I love that place.

The Possessed Novella

The Possessed Novella

Here’s what it’s about:

Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?

Chicago is gripped by terror. “The Sweet Sixteen Killer” is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.

A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.

But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn’t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.

Cut!

That’s all for now. I really think you’ll enjoy this one. So check it out. And read about the Sweet Sixteen Killer, the Chicago cops, the conflicted priests, the pretty mother on whom one of the priests has a crush, and the boy who just might be possessed.

Peace, friends. And stay off those Ouija boards.

"And you're SURE you don't cut people into small pieces before eating them?"

“And you’re SURE you don’t cut people into small pieces before eating them?”

 

EXORCIST ROAD Available for Pre-Order

Howdy, all! Great news. My upcoming Samhain Horror release EXORCIST ROAD is now available for pre-order!

I guess I said that in the title, huh?

But that doesn’t make it any less true, people. Because it is. Available. Now. For pre-order, that is.

And it’s discounted! For only $3.15, you get over a hundred pages of supernatural (and serial killer) horror. But I’ll let the cover and the synopsis do the convincing…

Terror Comes to Chicago

Terror Comes to Chicago

Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?

Chicago is gripped by terror. “The Sweet Sixteen Killer” is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.

A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.

But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn’t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.

And…cut! You ready to take the plunge yet? Don’t make me send the crazy thing on the cover over to your house!

Leisure Horror Fans Rejoice! Samhain Horror Is HERE!

How many of you remember how awesome it used to be to be able to count on two Leisure Horror titles every month? I remember discovering names like Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, John Everson, Tim Waggoner, and too many others to mention through Leisure. I also remembering, many years ago, deciding I wanted to be published by Leisure and edited by the man behind the line, Don D’Auria.

Don D'Auria. Suspected of Vampirism. *If anyone has proof that Mr. D'Auria has aged in the past two decades, please contact the CIA.

Don D’Auria. Suspected of Vampirism.
*If anyone has proof that Mr. D’Auria has aged in the past two decades, please contact the CIA.

Then Leisure and its parent company, Dorchester Publishing, went under, and Don began a horror line at a different company (Don, by the way, had nothing to do with the company’s financial woes and always treated his authors with the utmost respect).

Enter Samhain Publishing. Already a red-hot seller of romance titles, Samhain was ready to begin a new line of books in a different genre, and when Don D’Auria became available, they snatched him up and created Samhain Horror.

Erotic Horror

Erotic Horror

What’s my point?

Before everything went bad at Leisure, you could count on two awesome horror novels every month. Now, at Samhain Horror, you can count on (at least) two awesome horror novels every month, plus at least one or two novellas.

Leisure’s book were affordable. You could grab a paperback for about eight bucks. Now, by clicking on this link and buying directly from the Samhain Horror website (and using the PAPERBACK50 code at checkout), you can buy a paperback for about eight bucks. The ebooks are reasonably priced as well, often selling for under four bucks in the first month of release.

Tim Waggoner. Rock Star.

Tim Waggoner. Rock Star.

Same editor. Same quality. Same affordability. Heck, Samhain even features some of the same authors (including the aforementioned Bryan Smith, John Everson, and Tim Waggoner). And I dare say you’ll love many of the new authors Samhain Horror has midwifed into existence (including Brian Moreland, Hunter Shea, Kristopher Rufty, a ton of other fantastic writers, and….*whistles politely*….*pauses out of respect for other authors or maybe just to add drama to his own name’s unveiling*…Jonathan Janz).

Bryan Smith Mayhem

Bryan Smith Mayhem

So if you were one of the orphaned Leisure Horror fans left in the lurch when that company—well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty, you can rejoice. Samhain Horror has your fix. Monthly. For a good price.

That is all.

Oh, and buy the book pictured below. It’s a great place to start reading Samhain Horror.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

Scares That Care, Part Four: Jack Ketchum and Brian Keene

Okay, confession time. I’ve been putting off writing this post because these are the two guys whose work I knew the best going into the Scares That Care Weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia, and it’s really difficult for me to set aside Fan Jonathan from Professional Writer Jonathan.

Then again, maybe I don’t have to.

Yeah, I probably embarrassed Bryan Smith and Tom Monteleone with my last blog post, but I meant every word I said, and I’m not very good at pretending to be something I’m not. I tried to be cool when I sat there signing books with Bryan Smith, but I kept thinking to myself, “This guy is one of the best writers working today. You’re sharing a table with him. This is happening.” When I talked to Tom Monteleone, I felt a similar rush of excitement and disbelief.

Basically, I have a hard time pretending I’m unexcited by interacting with people who helped mold me as a writer and who’ve given me untold hours of reading pleasure. Which means I wasn’t sure how to act around Jack Ketchum and Brian Keene. I think I did okay. I mean, neither of them took out a restraining order against me, so there’s that. And neither threw a drink in my face or ran screaming from my presence. So…how did they act?

Ketchum and Keene from the Stalker-Cam

Ketchum and Keene from the Stalker-Cam

Let’s take Jack and Brian in turn.

(*I’ve decided to call Jack Ketchum/Dallas Mayr by his real name at certain points in this post because, well, that’s how I think of him. I mean, I think of him as both Jack Ketchum and Dallas Mayr, so I’ll be using both names. Just to confuse you.)

Jack Ketchum is one of my primary influences as a writer. Stephen King calls him “the scariest man in America,” and I can’t disagree. In my humble opinion, he has written four classic novels (The Girl Next Door, Off Season, Red, and The Woman) and a whole lot of other outstanding novels and short stories. I wrote this post about Ketchum’s fiction a couple years ago and mean to write another one about his work soon. The title of that long ago post was “The Ketchum Blade,” so named because of how deeply his fiction cuts. I dare you to read The Girl Next Door and not be emotionally moved. Whether that emotion is outrage or sorrow or despair or something else, you will feel something when you read that book. More likely, you’ll feel a number of emotions, which shows how astute and versatile Ketchum is.

But what of the man?

Dallas Mayr, I’m happy to report, is extremely kind, intelligent, and…well, classy. You ever hear someone say “(Insert name) has It“? Well, that applies to Dallas Mayr. Most people couldn’t live up to the legend of Jack Ketchum. Cary Grant, for instance, never could live up to people’s expectations of him off-screen. But Dallas Mayr/Jack Ketchum does. Yet there’s absolutely no affectation to worry about with him, no elitism. He treats everyone with warmth and wit, and though I was deeply afraid of meeting him (you know, a guy doesn’t want to make a fool of himself in front of one of his heroes), his personality soon put me at ease, and I got to spend several wonderful moments just talking to him.

Standing with a Legend (the one on the left)

Standing with a Legend (the one on the left)

Did you know, by the way, that he was once Henry Miller’s literary agent? Half of you are gasping in shock, while the other half are frowning at your monitors. To the former group I say, “Yes, he actually knew and learned from one of the literary giants of the twentieth century.” To the other half I say, stop reading this blog post and pick up Tropic of Cancer. Now.

Anyway, hanging out with Jack Ketchum/Dallas Mayr was one of the biggest thrills I’ve experienced since becoming a writer, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to talk to him again.

So what about Brian Keene?

I’ll just be honest. Brian’s public persona—at least as I’ve always viewed him—is that of a rebel, a fiery and outspoken debunker of lies, and a fiercely talented author.

After meeting him, I can say it’s all true. He doesn’t suffer idiots, he doesn’t do things the way the system dictates one should do them, and he is indeed fiercely talented.

But one of the highlights of my summer was seeing another side of him. And by the way, if you want to cling to the above persona as his only persona, I suggest you stop reading now.

Photobombed by a Grand Master

Me and Kelli Owen Photobombed by a Grand Master

Here’s the thing you might not know about Brian Keene: He has a huge heart.

He might not like my saying that, and like Jack/Dallas, he’ll probably be embarrassed by this blog post, but I think it’s important for people to know the human beings behind the words. And the human being behind The Rising, behind Levi Stoltzfus, behind too many incredible books to mention in this meager space, is one for whom I have an incredible amount of respect.

Samuel Johnson once said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

Let’s be honest here. My writing career (hopefully) is in its early stages. I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, but I am far from a household name, and there are a great many more readers who haven’t heard of me than those who have. I do what I can for my favorite authors—I recommend their work to anyone who will listen, and I blog about their stuff here—but really, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to bring more wealth or fame to a guy like Brian Keene. He has written books that have sold more than half a million copies (!), and along with 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead comics, he was the guy who started the zombie phenomenon that continues to dominate popular culture. More importantly, his work continues to get better because he is devoted to his craft, he continues to read actively, and he has the discipline and the drive to always strive to improve himself.

So why would someone like this take the time to a) add me as a celebrity guest at an incredible charity convention, b) treat me like I’m someone special from the moment I walked into the Doubletree Hotel in Williamsburg to the moment we parted on Sunday afternoon, and c) invite me to every meal and allow me to spend time with him, his girlfriend, her son, and several other of his friends?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because Brian has a sincerely kind heart, and he remembers what it was like to know no one.

But I think what I appreciate most about Brian is how sincere and real he is. There isn’t one ounce of artifice with him. He did give me advice about writing, but mainly what he talked about was the importance of family. Speaking of family, one of my favorite memories of the convention was the moment when he dashed into the celebrity room mock-screaming because he was being chased by two newly-painted little girls who turned out to be my daughters.

The Girls Who Terrified Brian Keene

The Girls Who Terrified Brian Keene

And lest you think we spent the weekend in hushed conversation as he earnestly divulged the secrets of writing success, I should also mention he has a fantastic sense of humor and shared stories that made me laugh and gape, sometimes simultaneously.

So after writing nearly fourteen hundred words about two of my favorite writers, I’ll leave you with this thought: If ever I achieve a tenth of what these fine writers and men have achieved, I’ll remember my first Scares That Care convention. I’ll remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and that those who have the ability to make a newbie feel accepted and valued should do so in every way they can.

So thank you, Dallas and Brian. You made me feel like more than a fellow writer. You made me feel like I belonged.

I Wore This Grin for Most of the Weekend

I Wore This Grin for Most of the Weekend

 

For My Daughter on Her Seventh Birthday: The Grub on My Chest

One of my older daughter’s nicknames is Sparkle, so we’ll go with that for now. A quick story about her…

When Sparkle was a wee baby, we brought her home from the hospital (after only a brief debate). I was prepared for the worst. See, my first child (my son) was Mr. High Energy and allowed us to sleep for no more than twenty-six minutes at a time over the first year of his life. My boy, as much as I love him, was a force of nature, his wails slamming into us like a neverending tsunami. A tsunami on steroids.

So we figured Sparkle would be insane as well, right?

I had everything set up. I had my recliner by the big picture window in the den, I had my portable DVD player, I had a pile of DVDs I could watch and listen to on my headphones. I was ready. It was the middle of summer, so I was shirtless. I mention that not to make you shiver in revulsion but because all the parenting books talked about how important skin-to-skin contact is for a baby.

I placed my newborn Sparkle on my chest, reclined the chair, donned my headphones, and started my first feature. I’d even been sure to avoid liquids for an hour prior so I could minimize urination breaks.

Like a human grub, my little Sparkle lay on her stomach, curled up her legs beneath her, and nestled into me with her fuzzy head under my chin and her tiny diapered buns pointed heavenward. She lay there and lay there, and even when the vicious cannibal in RAVENOUS began murdering and devouring people, Sparkle never stirred.

Ravenous_ver1

This is uncanny, I thought to myself. And amazing. My first child never remained this still for this long. I’m almost halfway through an honest-to-goodness movie, and she hasn’t begun to shriek at me like Donald Sutherland at the end of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

sutherland

I finished the movie, and the grub on my chest continued to slumber.

I replaced RAVENOUS with the original THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

Still no movement from Sparkle. For perhaps the sixtieth time since I’d taken my position, I craned my neck down to make sure she was breathing.

Yep. Still breathing. Just not crying or kicking or shaking her fists at me like Peter Finch in NETWORK (Hey, might as well stick with the movie references, right?). I got halfway through my movie and began to get seriously worried. Because Sparkle still wasn’t crying.

Crazy-Howard-Beale-Peter-Finch-from-the-movie-Network.

I licked my lips, debating. I was worried about her, but after all, this was what I’d hoped for, wasn’t it? I mean, had my son been this docile I might not have spent 2005 and 2006 sleepless. So I took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the movie. Yet despite its quality, the only thing I could pay attention to was the barely-moving grub on my chest.

day_the_earth_stood_still_poster

I felt a mental chill. Panic gripped me. I reached down as quickly as I could without upsetting Sparkle and called the nurse.

ME: I think I’ve got a serious issue.

NURSE ON CALL (voice tight with apprehension): What is it, sir?

ME: It’s my daughter. She’s a newborn. We just got her home and…

NURSE ON CALL: Yes?

ME: She’s, um…not crying.

NURSE ON CALL: (silence)

ME: That’s bad, right?

NURSE ON CALL: Is she breathing without effort?

ME (glances at Sparkle’s back): I think so.

NURSE ON CALL: Does she appear to be in any discomfort?

ME: No. Not at all. See, that’s what’s worrying me.

NURSE ON CALL (bemused): I’m afraid I don’t see the problem.

ME: She’s not screaming at all. She hasn’t slapped me yet or peed sixteen feet in the air or punctured one of my eardrums with her shrieking.

NURSE ON CALL (another pause): Is there anything else you need tonight, sir?

ME: So she’s…okay?

NURSE ON CALL: (click)

Sparkle continued to breathe gently. I sighed and lay back, more relaxed than I’d ever been in my life. Then I put in RESERVOIR DOGS.

Daughter, you continue to have that same soothing effect on me. When I’m worried or unsure, you calm me. Your smile, your positive attitude, your assurance that Yes Daddy, everything’s going to be just fine all work to achieve the impossible. You help me relax.

Proof of the Sparkle

Proof of the Sparkle

When I’m sick, you always volunteer to help me. You bring me a warm, very wet washcloth and slop on it onto my forehead. You pour me the Sprite we always keep on hand for sickness, and you always remember to pour some for yourself as well. You caress my hair and talk, it doesn’t matter about what.

You’re my little angel.

Sparkle, I hope you never change. Oh, you can grow and all that stuff, but never lose the amazing, warm, nurturing heart that makes you who you are.

I love you forever, my little daughter! Thank you for being you!

IMG_3134

Author Jonathan Janz Defines Horror

Jonathan Janz:

Earlier this month, author Matt Manochio was kind enough to share some of my thoughts on his blog. See what you think about my definition of horror…

Originally posted on Scary Funny:

Today’s a big day for Samhain Horror authors Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz, whose respective books, Hell Hole and Castle of Sorrows, hit shelves both physical and digital. I’ll be posting something with Hunter in a few weeks regarding both Hell Hole and his recent Kensington release, The Montauk Monster, which is already on my Kindle just aching to be read. Both guys have been supportive of me in my schlep toward publication come November 4, and I can’t wait to meet both at a yet-to-be-determined horror convention down the road.

But today’s post involves Jonathan Janz, which isn’t his real name and I’m still not sure how to refer to him when I write to him. But that’s another story. Isn’t this a kick-ass cover? (Yes.)

Courtesy: Amazon (Lord of Everything)

Courtesy: Amazon (Lord of Everything)

Castle of Sorrows is the sequel to Jonathan’s 2012 release, The Sorrows, which I read, and which involves the…

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