Hey, folks. Can’t stay long. But since you passed by, maybe you’d like to check out a pair of rather revealing and interesting interviews with me recently posted at the excellent Ginger Nuts of Horror and Wag the Fox websites.
Good night, friends.
Hey, folks. Can’t stay long. But since you passed by, maybe you’d like to check out a pair of rather revealing and interesting interviews with me recently posted at the excellent Ginger Nuts of Horror and Wag the Fox websites.
Good night, friends.
My new novel THE NIGHTMARE GIRL is available everywhere, friends, and I hope you check it out. Here’s the cover:
And here’s the synopsis:
Playing with fire has never been more dangerous.
When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror.
Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back.
And that’s all for tonight. Have a great rest of the weekend, friends.
Hey, all. Before I say this, please know that I’m not minimizing anyone’s struggles (quite the opposite), claiming that all issues present equal difficulties (they don’t), or making a veiled cry for help (I’m not).
But here’s something I’ve learned.
Everyone has issues.
If you’re like me, you tend to believe you’re insane, that everyone else has it together, or that you’re bizarre or weak because of the problems you face. However, the longer I live the more I realize that every single person struggles with something. Sometimes that struggle is physical, often it’s psychological. In a great many cases, it’s emotional.
Like that woman next door. The one with the perfect family, the striking good looks, and the brand new BMW?
She struggles with depression. Even worse, she has no idea why she’s depressed because she believes she should be happy and doesn’t realize the issue is chemical rather than situational.
That man you pulled up next to at the stoplight. The one in the sensible gold Honda Civic. He looks confident, together. Everyone must surely look up to him.
But he’s having debilitating headaches that make it impossible for him to enjoy life. The tests don’t show anything, but he knows how he feels, and he suspects—correctly or not—that he has an inoperable tumor.
That lady you passed this morning on the sidewalk? The one with the fancy new leather gloves? She’s a germophobe. She scrubs her hands so often and so violently that her skin is in a constant state of raw irritation.
The girl at the drive-thru, that smiling sixteen-year-old with the sunny disposition? She’s struggling with her sexual identity and is getting cyber-bullied because of it.
That grandmother you said hello to at the supermarket, she’s estranged from her only daughter, and she cries herself to sleep every night. She misses her grandchildren, but she’ll never get to know them. So she cries some more.
The little kid walking home from school, he struggles with intrusive thoughts. He’s also terrified of getting a bad grade on his spelling test. What’s more, he feels like he’s a coward because he feels so afraid all the time.
The little boy’s older brother went through a phase in junior high when he sought attention through negative behavior. Now he’s a freshman, and though he wants to do better and longs for others to give him a chance, he’s still branded a troublemaker by his peers and teachers, and he wants nothing more than to go back and live his life differently. But he can’t.
I say all these things not because they’re related or similar but because I think two helpful things occur when we remember that others have problems too.
One, we realize that we’re not weak or dumb or crazy or lesser creatures than others. Remembering that everyone is struggling with something teaches us that struggling is universal. We’re not broken. Or if we are, there’s nothing wrong with our brokenness.
Secondly, remembering that everyone struggles with something is a constant reminder that we need to show compassion whenever we can, that we need to try to understand before we condemn. Knowing that others struggle encourages us to practice empathy.
Personally? I’m that little kid who struggles with intrusive thoughts. I’m besieged every morning with a nightmarish newsreel of my mistakes, and believe me, there are plenty of mistakes in the reel. I’m afraid of hurting people’s feelings, afraid of letting them down. Afraid of making a mistake and regretting it and then having to be haunted by it every night as I struggle to fall asleep. I have insomnia. I get furious with myself. I cry at least three times a week because I love my children so deeply, and I don’t want them to leave me. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way because it feels selfish.
I’ve got issues.
So do you.
Let’s be kind to one another. Let’s try harder to understand.
Have a good night, friends. Take care of yourselves.
I hope your Christmas and/or other holidays are wonderful, safe, and relaxing. Love your loved ones. Enjoy the blessings of time and togetherness. Celebrate life, your families, your pets.
And, after everyone goes to sleep, read a good book.
Peace and love, my friends!
I’m irrationally excited. I know I’ll make less money on $0.99 books, but truthfully, I’m more concerned about readers.
You see, I want them.
I want them all to check out these deeply discounted books because I think they’ll enjoy them. Readers have been really kind to me in their reactions to all of my stories, but these three books, particularly, have been well received. Now, SAVAGE SPECIES, DUST DEVILS, and EXORCIST ROAD can be had for less than a buck.
Pod of Horror named SAVAGE SPECIES one of the three best books of 2013. And for a limited time, it’s 99 cents.
Or DUST DEVILS? Jack Ketchum, one of the best writers in the history of living organisms, called it a “Rousing-good weird western!” And it’s 99 cents.
Or what about EXORCIST ROAD? About this novella Dreadful Tales says, “With Exorcist Road, Janz ushers in a new era of thrills and violence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the old school paperback days. I would gladly stand this novella alongside lurid horror gems like Ketchum’s Off Season for its shock factor; the unbridled aggression of Laymon’s One Rainy Night; and the sexually charged nastiness of Tessier’s Rapture.” And this creepy demonic possession/mystery/serial killer story can be had for only…
Well, you know.
Folks, I hope you check these out, and just as importantly, I hope you spread the word about the sale.
Have a great night, friends!
The below ad is the back cover of the new issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland:
Ain’t she beautiful?
Here’s the front cover (Issue #277, in case you want to pick one up):
I don’t have much to add except the fact that the reviews are starting to appear for THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, and they’re extremely positive.
And thank you to Samhain Horror, Don D’Auria, Christine Brashear, Kaitlyn Osborn, Amanda Smith Hicks, Mackenzie Walton, Jacob Hammer, Matthew Woolley, and the rest of the crew. You all have been amazing to me. Thanks for all your support!
Seventeen five-star reviews.
Nine four-star reviews.
No three-star reviews.
A single two-star review.
No one-star reviews.
And I’m pretty sure the two-star rating happened when the user’s finger inadvertently twitched. I’m still waiting on confirmation from my covert operatives.
Amazon tells a similar story about my novella, where there are eleven five-star reviews, six four-star reviews, and that’s it. Heading up into Canada or hopping the pond to the UK only yields more five-star reviews.
“Riffing on the exorcism theme, newcomer Jonathan Janz delivers a novella that will propel him to the top of the horror field.” —Not Too Terrible Reviews
“With Exorcist Road, Janz ushers in a new era of thrills and violence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the old school paperback days. I would gladly stand this novella alongside lurid horror gems like Ketchum’s Off Season for its shock factor; the unbridled aggression of Laymon’s One Rainy Night; and the sexually charged nastiness of Tessier’s Rapture.” —Dreadful Tales
“‘Exorcist Road’ is an extremely well-written novella that started with a bang and never relented through the entire story.” —Minneapolis Book Examiner
“It’s one of those books that you’ll have to stop and catch your breath while reading. The shots from the demon are so rapid fire, and so evil, that you’ll be flying through the words and pages.” —Top of the Heap Reviews
*stops to catch breath*
Okay, folks, that’s enough for now. If you haven’t checked this one out yet, I really hope you do.
Back soon with some more exciting news.
My guest tonight is Mr. Matt Manochio, whose debut novel THE DARK SERVANT is about to be published by Samhain Horror. His topic is “blurbs,” which is an area that pains me more than any other. Asking for blurbs, I mean. So maybe I’ll learn as much as you will from this post. Here we go…
Every author has to do it at some point. It’s painful and annoying, and we all know it cannot be avoided: giving blood for money to pay the power bill.
I’m kidding, sort of. But what most authors typically must do after signing a book deal is get blurbs. Ugh. This invariably means you pester an established author (in my case, New York Times bestselling and/or Bram Stoker Award-nominated -winning writers) to read a book the established author might not otherwise read. And most established authors have a bunch of projects going on leaving them little free reading time.
But we newbies must ask. And that’s what I did after inking the deal for The Dark Servant. And I had a 6% success rate in getting blurbs.
That’s right: 6%.
But let’s explore that number.
I queried 157 authors, including names you’d recognize and names you wouldn’t. But they’re all successful writers. I had a large gap of time between signing the deal and my publication date, so I cast a wide net.
Of those 157 authors, 29 expressed interest or suggested I try later. That’s an 18.4% success rate.
Of those 29 authors, 23 asked for the manuscript! That’s a whopping 79% success rate. See where I’m going?
Finally, of those 23 authors, 10 provided endorsements, and that’s a 43.5% success rate. That means almost half of the authors who had the manuscript came through. And that’s about what I expected because of varying time commitments and the author’s interest in the project (it might not be to an author’s liking—and that’s fine).
So where did that 6% come from? If my math is right—and might not be because I’m a writer—10 out of 157 means 6% of the authors queried provided a blurb.
That 6% matters! And I got those 10 blurbs by asking, knowing I would get many more nos than yeses, but those yeses were crucial.
My advice to any author going through this blurb-gathering process for the first time:
So there you go. That’s how I achieved a 6% success rate. And I’m damned proud of it.
And there you have it, friends! Some very thought-provoking ideas from a really cool author. I haven’t read THE DARK SERVANT yet, but I plan to. And I’ve really enjoyed interacting with Matt over the past few months.
Have a great night, friends. Some blurb news of my own on the way…
Hey, friends. Hope you’re well. I am. More importantly, my family is. Thanksgiving is coming up, which makes me happy because it’s one of the coziest holidays, and I enjoy eating, and, on a selfish note, I’m really hoping to get some extra writing time over the long weekend, and I love writing time even more than eating.
*takes deep breath*
So a few items of interest…
If you haven’t heard about Jesus Gonzalez’s passing, here are the facts: He was a great person and a great writer, and you should buy one or more of his books today.
My horror epic SAVAGE SPECIES is now available at Audible.com. Check it out now.
EXORCIST ROAD, my recent novella release, is slaying audiences. Between Goodreads, Amazon, and a few other prominent sources, it has received a grand total of thirty five-star reviews, fifteen four-star reviews, and not a single review of three stars or fewer. That’s pretty good, no? You can grab it here or anywhere else ebooks are sold. And if that doesn’t do it, my fellow (excellent) author Hunter Shea recently said, “Exorcist Road is Jonathan Janz’s most terrifying tale to date. Raw, brutal, chilling, it demands to be read in one sitting. The best fiction book on possession since The Exorcist!”
My upcoming January release, a novel called THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, is also garnering raves. I’m extra proud of this one and can’t wait for folks to read it.
More stuff to talk about, but we’ll save that for later posts. I hope life is well with all of you, and I hope you’re enjoying and appreciating your families (and/or your friends). I can always do better, but I tend to be thankful all year. Every day I get to spend with the ones I love is a gift. Really.
Hey, friends. I apologize for the blog silence lately, but I’ve got a special treat for you this weekend. My good friend and fellow writer Kristopher Rufty agreed to answer a few of my questions, and even if my questions were inane, his answers weren’t. He’s an awesome guy and a fantastic writer, so without further preamble, check out what he has to say…
Some readers have compared your stuff to the stories of Richard Laymon. How do you feel about that comparison, and is there a specific Laymon story you enjoy the most?
I’m honored whenever somebody compares my writing to his. One person actually apologized when they told me PILLOWFACE reminded them of a Laymon book. I asked why they apologized. Their answer was because his stuff is so outrageous. Smiling, I told them that’s one of many reasons that I like writing. You can be outrageous and there’s no limit to what you can do.
The comparisons are rewarding, but at the same time, I don’t want anyone to think they’re deliberate. I love Laymon’s work the most, but I never wanted to copy him. I like how he’s able to tell so much by writing very little and that’s what I try to do with each story of mine. Because I was worried about the Laymon, Lee, and Ketchum comparisons, I wrote OAK HOLLOW in a completely different voice than my usual. I tried to write in an almost Joe Hill and Bentley Little sort of style. And Don D’Auria sent it back to me. He said it was a great book, but I needed to write it again in my real voice. He told me not to let the comparisons hold me back. I explained how I worried that people thought I was trying to copy those guys, and he said he used to edit them all and he’d be the first to accuse me if he thought it was true. Then he told me I reminded him of Ray Garton, so I figured I was in good hands. J
There are so many Laymon stories that I love. Even the not so popular ones. DARKNESS, TELL US is a lot of fun. I’ve read it multiple times. I also like DARK MOUNTAIN, a lot. Again, not one of his popular stories but, to me, the writing is flawless. QUAKE is as close to perfect as you can get for a truly horrifying story that makes you sweat with tension. That one wound me up so much one night that I never went to sleep. It’s very intense, steals your breath.
I love the Beast House books. THE CELLAR was my first Laymon story and I was hooked from there, but my favorite of the three (four counting FRIDAY NIGHT IN BEAST HOUSE) is probably THE MIDNIGHT TOUR.
IN THE DARK might be a close second choice for my favorite.
Hmmm…if I have to pick one, I choose THE STAKE. Great concept that’s done in such a unique way. It has everything he’s known for on its pages and is written in perfect, punchy prose. Plus, it takes its time building up to the wild climax. Larry Dunbar might also be my favorite Laymon character. For writers like us, Jonathan, this book is required reading. We get to see the life of a successful midlist writer caught in a situation that he would’ve written about in one of his own books. Could you imagine what would happen if you found yourself stuck in something you could have written? Wow!
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW and ENDLESS NIGHT might tie for my third favorite. Aargh! So many to choose from. I love them all the best!
I’ve read a good deal of your stuff and loved it all. I haven’t read Proud Parents yet, but its cover is one of the coolest covers I’ve seen in years. How did that cover come about?
Wow, thank you, man. I’m very happy you like the cover. I believe I had the idea for the cover before the book was even finished. There’s a scene in the book where a character is flipping through Gabe’s drawings and finds many grotesque childhood memories captured in crayon. The cover is one of them and there was another one created for the back cover that features Greg (the Dad) burying a body, but it’s hidden underneath the cover copy. If you look very closely, you can somewhat see part of it.
I love the old garish paperback covers from the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. Since PROUD PARENTS is also a tribute to those books, I wanted the cover to reflect that. The artist nailed it. It’s probably my favorite, next to A DARK AUTUMN.
One thing that makes your work so engaging is your characterization. Can you pick one or two of your characters that you like most of all? And why did you choose these characters?
Thank you, again. To know that you enjoy the characters is very relieving. Favorites? That’s tough. Believe it or not, I really like Wendy from THE LURKERS. People hate her, but, to me, she’s just misunderstood and very bad at expressing herself through outlets that aren’t anger. SPOILER ALERT: I received emails from readers outraged that Wendy survived in THE LURKERS and so many of the nice characters were killed. I was happy that she made it. It really showed that her love and devotion to Gary could keep her motivated during such a nightmarish ordeal. She wasn’t unscathed by any means and on the last page we know her story isn’t over. I was happy to revisit her in THE LURKING SEASON. Hopefully she will be forgiven for some of her actions in the first book when she comes back in the second one.
Joel from PILLOWFACE is another favorite. A twelve-year-old horror fan living in a world of fantasy that shields him from the horrors of the real world around him. Myself at that age. But I’d like to think that if I befriended a maniac straight from the horror movies that I adore, I wouldn’t be so quick to follow the same path as Joel. Maybe it’s his lack of guidance, but the boy makes a lot of terrible decisions and too many innocent people pay the price.
But my favorite of them all has to be Detective John Stiltson. He’s been with me since I was fourteen years old, pecking away on a typewriter in my bedroom. He’s popped up in so many stories I’ve written throughout the years that I feel like I know him best out of anybody I’ve written about. He’s in ANGEL BOARD as a main character and OAK HOLLOW in a small role. I hope to spend more time with him in the future. He was almost in THE SKIN SHOW, but I quickly decided not to have him come in and take over the book. It was about Andy Raab and if Stiltson showed up, heads would roll.
But he’ll be back soon. I want to do a book that focuses on Stiltson and his trusty partner, Giles. Kind of a crime novel, but with horror elements sprinkled throughout. I have the title and the premise in mind, but haven’t sat down to work on my notes for it.
What is your favorite part about being a writer? Is there a least favorite part?
Great question. Nobody’s asked me what I like least about being a writer. Maybe I should start there. Honestly, what I like the least is not getting to write more than I already do. I had a huge health scare last year that I’m still trying to recover from. It was one of those close-the-door moments at the doctor’s office when he explained my options. I thank God that it didn’t turn out as badly as the doctor prepared me for. But the future was unknown and I didn’t get to write too much for a long time afterward. My wife helped me set up in the bedroom and I wrote the majority of PROUD PARENTS and all of THE SKIN SHOW in bed. But those weeks where writing was scarce, I felt like an addict in need of a fix. I couldn’t sleep. I was moody and irritable, not a pleasant person to be around. But when I was able to get back to work on PROUD PARENTS, I noticed a quick improvement in how I felt. My attitude changed. I felt better, excited, and eager. Hungry. By the time work began on THE SKIN SHOW, I couldn’t be stopped.
So what I like least about writing are the days I don’t get to do it at all.
And what my favorite part is everything about the process. I love those moments when I can sit back and let the story flow from my brain through my fingers, the days my hands struggle to keep up with the flow. I call it a creative dump from my brain, like it’s been holding it in during a long drive and finally found the rest stop toilet. The story just plops out. Haha. Gross, I know.
I love watching the characters grow. Wendy from THE LURKERS is the perfect example of this. So is Sheriff Ben Holly from PRANK NIGHT. Greg and Sheila from PROUD PARENTS. Miles from THE SKIN SHOW. These characters start off as one type of person, then they quickly adapt into something stronger. But there’s also a flipside to that. There’re those characters that start off strong but quickly decay into something you’re not expecting. I’ve been surprised more than once when somebody I think will live to the end are quickly dispatched in a rather gruesome way.
And I love hearing from my readers and getting to meet them. Last March in Horrorhound a reader came to the table with a stack of my stuff for me to sign. Another person came with a framed DVD sleeve of Psycho Holocaust for me to sign. That was a humbling experience. I felt like, maybe for the first time, that I was finally there, you know. It still makes me feel tingly whenever somebody pops up and tells me they enjoyed one of my books. I know I can’t win them all, and I don’t, but when I do I’m very grateful.
What’s on the horizon for Kristopher Rufty? Can you talk about the projects you’re working on and what else you have planned?
I love talking about what’s coming next. Sinister Grin Press picked up my novel JAGGER and will be releasing it in December. They’re planning a huge promotion to coincide with the release. I think they’ve already booked podcasts, interviews, and have a lot more plans for it. It’ll be available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. I’m really excited about this book. It’s my killer dog story, but told in a way that I think has never been done. I put characters from my independent movie, Rags, in the book and had so much fun with them.
Somewhere around that time I’ll put out the e-book and possibly the paperback of BIGFOOT BEACH. The hardcover will come next year sometime with some other surprises inside. This book was a blast to write. The idea started two years ago when I went to eat lunch with my kids at school and somehow we got on the subject about how we all have big feet. I made a comment that if somebody saw our footprints in the sand at the beach they’d think a Bigfoot was running loose. It was one of those moments where the idea exploded in my head and I couldn’t talk for a few moments as the story just assembled itself right there. My kids have been excited to see this one come out, so I can’t wait for people to read it.
Thunderstorm Books wants to put out one more new one from me before the end of the year also, but I don’t know if it’ll make it. This one might be the first of 2015, but if I can get the rewrites done in time, it just might print before Christmas. Either way, it’s going to be a beautiful book. This one is my vampire tale, set in the 50’s in a small farming town in Wisconsin. That’s about all I’m going to say for now.
I have two titles coming from Samhain in 2015. The first will be THE LURKING SEASON, a sequel to THE LURKERS, and the other I won’t name just yet. I turned it in last week, so I can talk more about it soon.
Also, Audio Realms will release the audiobooks for PILLOWFACE and OAK HOLLOW before the end of the year, plus some more next year. I’ve heard samples of these books and I’m very happy with how they turned out.
I also have to have a book turned in to DarkFuse by May. It’s my first of three for them. It’ll come out the year after, with the other two following each year after. So I’ll be busy for a while and I couldn’t be happier.
Thanks for having me on your blog, buddy. It’s always fun. Can’t wait to hang out again and talk about writing and old horror paperbacks. Congratulations on EXORCIST ROAD, such a powerfully horrifying story that I still think about. It’s one of those that’ll stay with me forever.
And that’s a wrap. See what I mean about Kristopher? Not only does he write outstanding, edge-of-your-seat books, he has impeccable taste in other writers.
So check him out now. I promise you’ll have a great time!