Horrornews Takes on THE NIGHTMARE GIRL and Ginger Nuts of Horror Honors Richard Laymon

Hey, friends. How’s that for a straightforward title? I considered typing the entire text of this post in the title, but I figured that’d be pushing it.

So first, here’s Horrornews.net’s fantastic review of THE NIGHTMARE GIRL. My favorite part?

“The Nightmare Girl is a fantastic novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. There’s a reason people in the horror fiction community are raving about this Jonathan Janz character, and this novel is a prime example. He brings a smooth writing style, never too wordy to slow you down, but with well-crafted sentences that allow the reader’s imagination to wrap them up and see for themselves. This book is scary, it’s tense, and it’s a lot of fun. I can’t help but drink the kool-aid here.”

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Ginger Nuts of Horror posted a wonderful lost interview this week featuring Richard Laymon, who is one of my primary writing influences. Additionally, they included comments from Brian Keene, Richard Chizmar, many other awesome writers, and me. You can read that part here.

We miss you, Mr. Laymon.

We miss you, Mr. Laymon.

On a personal level, I’m going to get some writing time back soon. For one, my son’s basketball team (which I’ve been co-coaching) finished its season today. Secondly, my next novel (WOLF LAND) is almost ready to go to my pre-readers.

I’ll be working on the following three titles next: THE DARK GAME, THE STARS HAVE LEFT THE SKIES, and THE DISMEMBERED. I’m incredibly geeked about all three of these, but I think THE DARK GAME is going to come first. It’s a story I’m beyond excited about.

Talk to you soon, friends.

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL: Reviews and Book of the Month!

You can always tell when I’m up against a deadline by the scarcity of my blog posts. Sorry about that, but the book I’m currently editing turned out to be a whopper (nearly 160,000 words), and I’ve been working like crazy to downsize it, to shape it, and of course to enhance it. It’s happening, but it ain’t easy, and it’s certainly not a quick process. But it is rewarding, and I have the promise of my next two projects to get excited about (and believe me, the projects in question are ones I’m itching to dive into).

But for now…

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL has been doing marvelously in its first month of release. Between Goodreads, Amazon, and everywhere else, it is garnering uniformly positive reviews, with not a single review below four stars, and the majority of them five stars. Here’s just one of them, courtesy of Nev Murray and the Ginger Nuts of Horror. My favorite part (though the whole thing is outstanding):

“It will scare the crap out of you repeatedly. It will make you laugh. It will give you a lump in your throat at times. You will hold your breath. It also has one of the old classic mad mental endings that will have you rushing to turn the pages.” 


As you can see above, the awesome folks over at Dreadful Tales and The Mortuary have selected THE NIGHTMARE GIRL as their February group read. If you get a chance, hop on over to their message board and join in the fun. Dark Mark, Meli, Colum, and the rest of the gang are great people, and I also happen to be partial to the book they’re discussing this month too.

Lastly, the new blog Into the Macabre has featured a couple reviews of my books over the past week: EXORCIST ROAD and THE SORROWS. Thank you to Ken McKinley for reading and reviewing my work!

That’s all for now, friends. Gotta get back to editing.

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult



New Interviews with Me (and THE NIGHTMARE GIRL Takes Flight!)

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.

And if you haven’t checked out THE NIGHTMARE GIRL yet, it’s available now. And kicking much booty.

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Good night, friends.


My new novel THE NIGHTMARE GIRL is available everywhere, friends, and I hope you check it out. Here’s the cover:

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

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.

Take care.

A Reminder: Everyone Has Issues

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.

Let’s love.

Have a good night, friends. Take care of yourselves.


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.

Experience the Terror

Experience the Terror

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.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

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 NIGHTMARE GIRL Ad in Famous Monsters of Filmland

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!


So I wrote this novella called EXORCIST ROAD. It’s only been out for about three months now, but man is it on fire. Some Goodreads numbers for you

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.

 Windy City Horror

Windy City Horror

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.

Now, I’m no statistical analyst here, but those numbers seem pretty good. Horror After Dark also just published a review of EXORCIST ROAD. And in case you need more persuasion, here it is…

“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.

More Inspiration

More Inspiration

Back soon with some more exciting news.

Matt Manochio on Blurbs (and THE DARK SERVANT)

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:

  1. Ask as many authors as you can, and this is easier than you think. Almost every established author has a website, and some famous authors post their email addresses on them. How famous? One of the first authors I queried was Anne Rice. Yup, her. Her email address was right there on her site. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask, and I live by that: Ask. Ask. Ask. You might get what you want. It’s like dating. Guys, if you want to get a girlfriend, you’ve got to ask out women, sometimes hundreds of them. Thousands even. Not every woman’s gonna mace you and call 911. If you’ve got something good to offer and are nice about it, you might just end up eating Burger King and seeing the new Hunger Games movie. So anywho, I wrote Anne, never expecting to hear back. She replied the next day, very politely declining and giving her reason (time constraints). That blew me away. The woman who wrote Interview with a Vampire emailed me! Even though she passed, I thanked her nonetheless, explaining how surprised I was to have heard from her, and she replied nicely in kind. That motivated me. Keep asking.
  2. Be professional. Send a query—that’s the way I look at them: query letters (but by now you’re used to sending them to agents and publishers). If there’s a specific reason why you think the author would like the book, say so. Compare your work to something the author has written. Does this mean every letter must be unique? Look, your time is valuable too. It’s OK to have a somewhat generic query letter that has specifics related to you, your book’s subject, editor, and publisher. But make sure you tailor that letter to each individual author when you can. (Don’t overly ass-kiss, either. Keep your dignity!
  3. Should the author agree to look at the manuscript, don’t be a pest. State when your editor will need the blurb (there’s usually a little wiggle room) and provide the editor’s contact information. Say you’ll touch base with the author about a month before the deadline just to see where things stand. And stick to it. No update inquiries every two weeks or every month. Leave the author be.
  4. Always be polite in rejection. Never take it personally. You will get way more nos than yeses. Live with it. Send a quick note thanking the author for considering. Why bother? Perhaps the author will express interest in your next project.
  5. Although I’m sure there are writers who’ve successfully done this, I wouldn’t go to an author’s book signing and ambush him/her with a blurb request. That’s just me. Think about it, do you like it when someone asks you out of nowhere to take them to the airport or help move a body? I don’t. It puts you on the spot and you feel rushed to answer “yes” for the former and “I’ll do it for $1,000” for the latter. I want an author focusing his/her attention on my project, and that can’t happen at a busy book signing. However, if you’ve already provided your manuscript to the author, and learn the author’s doing a nearby signing, then touch base and let them know you’re gonna swing by to introduce yourself. I did this twice. One of the authors provided a blurb, the other wasn’t able to. But in each case I bought a book, got it signed, made connections and am on good terms with both. Both remain exceedingly friendly and supportive, and I can’t wait to run into them at conventions.

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…