Thursday, December 13, 2012

A review of Bloodpath by Lori Lopez

"Don't Mess with Sasquatch"
 Four Stars

While this short story by Lori Lopez isn't quite as comical as the Jack Link's Beef Jerky commercials, some of which I love, it might make you think twice about frolicking through the woods. Bloodpath squeezes a lot of action into a dozen or so pages, which is exactly what I want out of a short story. When one typically hears about a real-life Bigfoot encounter, it usually involves the sighting of a single creature. However, this isn't the case in Bloodpath. The main character, Boyd, encounters a group of them (some being hybrid types) and there is even a hierarchy of order involved. Given Boyd's poor physical state and his lack of weapons, the odds are definitely stacked against him. While I was sensing, or maybe hoped for, a different ending to this story, I respect what Lori did. In fact, as a writer, it's probably what I would have done. Regardless of the outcome, Bloodpath is an entertaining read that cuts to the chase. There isn't any filler material in this story, so your money is well spent.

Cover of my tween novelette The Vanishing

I hope to have this book out early next year (January if things go smoothly). I'll be providing additional information as things progress.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cover for Earth Ablaze

Here's the cover for my soon-to-be-released book - Earth Ablaze - by MuseItUp Publishing. The cover art was done by the talented Charlotte "Charlie" Volnek. The book is currently scheduled for a March 2013 release.

A Review of Three Miles Below

Thanks to Shawn Micallef for reading and reviewing my recently released story - Three Miles Below - by MuseItUp Publishing. It's available at, as well as

Friday, October 26, 2012

Haunted Halloween Blog Tour 2012 - Meet Horror Author Mark Tufo

Hello All,

My name is Mark Tufo. I am the author of the Zombie Fallout series, the newest being Zombie Fallout 6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part, which was released on October 1st.

Why the horror genre? Hell why not? Who doesn’t like a good scare? Ever seen some of those roller coasters? They might be called amusement parks, but if they could get away with it, I bet they’d go with something more along the lines of Blood-curdling Scream Park. That would be way cooler. Alright, but I’m digressing. If you’ve read any of my books you’d know I do that a lot. There really is something about a good scare, about pulling your legs up to the rest of your body and making sure that your blanket covers you completely, because I’m sure that will stop the sharp toothed clown with claws for hands from being able to get at the tender meat that surrounds your throat (sorry I had to) as you watch or read your favorite scary story.

The exhilaration of your heart pounding as the hero or heroine runs for their life, with the vampire (not the sparkling variety), zombie, werewolf, or even the guy with a crazy knives hand chases them invariably through the darkened, wet, and lonely forest. It’s always a forest maybe because of the innate fear we feel when we’re alone amongst those silent sentinels. What’s behind that tree up ahead? Did you see it? It could be anything.

Couple that with Halloween and you easily have my favorite time of the year. I love the thought of curling up to a good book as I stare out my rain soaked window, leaves lazily making their way down in the cool crisp bite of autumn air. I can think of no better time to relax and let a wave of fear wash over me. Maybe it’s nostalgia. I read Stephen King’s IT way back when in the days leading up to Halloween, and something took root. I’ve always associated a good scare with the fall, so when most folks are waiting for the buds to form on trees so they can pull out of the dark winter season, I am briskly rubbing my hands together happy to be rid of the yolk of heat.

My books, including the Zombie Fallout series, Indian Hill trilogy, Timothy, The Spirit Clearing, and The Book of Riley all have one common element. In one shape, way or form they deal with horror – some internal, some external. They are meant to evoke feelings of tension and fear, and maybe even trigger a flight or fight mechanism in you (if that happens I’ve really done my job!). I’ve had folks tell me that at certain parts of my stories they’ve had to read while they are peeking through their splayed fingers. I could think of no higher compliment with which they could tell me!

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to post on your blog and Happy Halloween!

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All five of us - Tonia Brown, James N Cook, John O' Brien, Armand Rosamilia and Mark Tufo - hope you have been following along on the Haunted Halloween Blog Tour 2012. We love to see comments after the posts, and we also love to pick a random commenter and give away a free eBook or even a signed print book, so maybe you'll get lucky!

We have centralized all the upcoming dates and blog posts on a Facebook event page. Feel free to join us there and see what is coming up next!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Haunted Halloween Blog Tour 2012

I'm back after a three-month or so hiatus, and I will be hosting horror author Mark Tufo on October 26 as I welcome the Haunted Halloween Blog Tour 2012. Mark will discuss his love for horror and Halloween, as well as his new book in the Zombie Fallout series. I hope you'll join us this Friday.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meet Joshua Cook - Author of Alice in Zombieland

All zombie stories are the same.

The dead rise, they attack the living and maybe some people with big guns swoop in and make an even gorier mess. As writers, we have a duty to take this classic formula and polish it up all shiny and new for readers.

The point in my life when I began writing the short stories that would become AiZ: Alice in Zombieland was very dark and depressing for me. Just a month before, though, I was sitting on top of the world. I was in love with a beautiful woman and things we’re going great. My job, while not awesome, it was a steady retail job, and those are hard still hard to find. I was living with a friend, but the girlfriend and I were looking at getting our own place. Sam Dogg was happy as any dog could be. The world was bright and sunny.

Then it wasn’t.

It began with the messiest break-up I have even been through. I mean things got really ugly. This drama stretched out for about a month, each day tearing my heart out more and more. While dealing with this, I lost my job. Times were already tight, but now there was no money coming in. Then a fight with my mom turns ugly and we haven’t spoken since. Top all of this off with my friend losing his place and my life was a perfect storm of depression.

With no job prospects coming, and no foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel, I began to write. As the writing went on, things got more emotional for me; there were many times that I would write myself into tears.  What some people do not appreciate is how much it takes out of a writer spending that much time in such a dark place. It is draining both mentally and emotionally. So why do we do it? To set our stories above the rest of the zombie fiction running rampant out there.

We have all felt lost and alone at some point. These are real emotions that we feel every day. By focusing on the emotions of the story, I am able to connect with fans of zombie stories, but also with readers who don’t normally enjoy the undead.

Excerpt from AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga)

Having grown up in the Age of the Zombie, Gee knew what needed to be done. She pulled the fence board out of Barbara’s head, finding a sick gratification at the squishing sound it made as it overcame the suction of the wound, and headed for her step brother.

Gotta make sure he’s dead… For good.

Gee stood over her little brother’s body. Even though Josh and Alice weren’t her full blood siblings, Gee had always thought of them as her little brother and sister. The tears came and she was powerless to stop them. She waited, watching for any movement through the blurry lens of her tears... Nothing.

Still better safe than sorry.

Gee tightened her grip on the fence board and braced for what she must do. She took a deep breath to steady herself and, without hesitating, she stabbed the sharp wood through her little brother’s head and fell to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably.

As she rose to her feet, wiping tears and blood from her face, Gee surveyed the devastation that surrounded her. At her feet lay the dead body of Josh, an innocent child. Barbara, once a loving mother and wife, was now a corpse, skull fragments and blood surrounding her. Young Alice’s life was still in trouble. There was no fairness in any of it. The anger over the injustices swelled inside Gee until she could not resist one last kick to the side of Barbara’s bloody head.

You caused this. I only wish you could feel the pain.


AiZ: Alice in Zombieland (Complete Saga) is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store, on Smashwords for all formats, and through many online retailers. Pre-orders are open for the signed limited edition paperback, as well as the regular paperback editions, at Also available through Amazon is the anthology 100 Horrors, which features an exclusive Zombie A.C.R.E.S. story, along with 99 other tales of terror. 100 Horrors is available in Kindle and paperback formats.

Joshua Cook is a writer for hire living in the Seattle area. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. To find out more about Zombie A.C.R.E.S., visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and in the ACRES merch shop.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Author Dan O'Brien

Today I host author Dan O'Brien. Dan is kind enough to offer insight on the submission process for writers. Be sure to check out his Kickstarter project as well -

A Writing Perspective from the Other Side of the Fence
A Guest Post by Dan O’Brien

Life as a writer can be hard sometimes.

Success is elusive; fans shift as often as a summer wind.

Yet, we persevere, writing into the late hours of the night and waking in the early hours of the morning to log the hours and enter, for a time, the worlds we create. When I first started writing, more than a decade ago, it was because I loved the idea of immersing myself in a place where I could construct the narrative; walk through dense forests and to the tops of mountains. Over time the process became more about writing as a tool to move through emotions and languishing memories that required catharsis.

Writing takes on many forms, for many different writers, over the course of our lives.

For me, the process is the reward.

I love to write.

When I ask myself that silly question of what I would do if I had all the money in the world, the answer is always quite simple: write. Now more than a decade later, I have a renewed sense of purpose and have become quite adept at balancing the spinning plates of responsibility.

Recently, between being a full-time graduate student and writer, I joined Empirical magazine as an editor – among other responsibilities. A national magazine similar in spirit to Harper’s or The Atlantic, the magazine is firmly rooted in a West Coast sensibility. There is a little something for everyone, and honestly, the hope is that everyone will take a look. Contributors to the magazine come from around the globe and cover everything from politics to fiction.

Working at a magazine, especially at this point in its maturation, is a wonderful experience. There are so many moving parts that enliven your day. Sometimes I spend the day sorting through fiction and poetry submissions, searching for that piece of prose, or perhaps a stanza, that ensnares my imagination. Other days I am editing, constantly referring to the Chicago Manual of Style to ascertain the correct usage of an archaic sentence structure. As a writer, the prospect of editing and rummaging through the work of others might not sound exciting, but there are some wonderful consequences:

1.       You learn to become a better editor of your own work
2.       You begin to recognize redundant sentence structures and overused phrases
3.       Your grasp of language grows exponentially

However, the most important component for me is:

4.       You get to help others bring their work into a public forum

For many writers, and certainly for me early in my writing career, the notion of being picked up by a magazine or a small press was foremost in my mind. It was that distant promise of publication and everything that goes with it that pushed me forward. When I got rejection letters, most of which lacked a personal touch, I would get down on my writing, denigrate my ability.

The years passed, during which thousands of rejection letters amassed, and I realized that the pursuit of writing for a purely extrinsic reward was dooming myself to Vegas-style odds. I became clear to me that I needed to write because I loved it, and then find a way to share it with others – even if it was not through traditional routes. I found that I was more comfortable with my writing when I did it for the pure joy of it.

Now that I am on the other side of the fence, so to speak, I have noticed a few myths about submitting to paying publications that otherwise mystified and frustrated me prior to becoming an editor and being responsible for interacting with first-time and established authors.

I have decided to provide a humorous, but serious, collection of things you should do and things you shouldn’t do when submitting and entering into a discourse with a publication – sprinkled, of course, with some anecdotes. And without further ado (or perhaps slight ado if you count this sentence here):

Things You Should Do

1.       Read the publication you are submitting to before sending an email. This one sounds obvious, I know. However, it happens so often that it warrants mentioning. If you have written a brilliant piece of prose that is about zombies, it is quite likely that Popular Mechanics will not be that interested in it. Pick up an issue of the magazine you are interested in submitting to and familiarize yourself with the kinds of stories they publish. The next part is the hardest part: be honest. Does your piece fit with what they publish?
2.       Read and follow the submission instructions. Again, a no-brainer. If you are thinking that you don’t know where to find the submission instructions and you just have an email address, be prepared for disappointment. Your email might go to submission purgatory with a one-liner response about having received your correspondence – if you’re lucky.
3.       Address your submission to the appropriate person. If you are thinking that I am giving you the obvious pointers, then you are quite right. With that in mind, imagine that I still receive hundreds of emails a month that manage to ignore these simple suggestions. If you are writing a stunning expose on corporate greed, the poetry editor is probably not the best destination for your work.
4.       Edit your work. I tell this to students a lot, so I will mention it here as well: spell check in Microsoft Word is not sufficient. I am not saying that you need to be a copyeditor to submit to a magazine, but do yourself a favor and read it out loud. If it something sounds funny when you read it, you can only imagine how it will sound to an editor who is choosing among thousands of articles and stories to determine what goes to print.
5.       Be cognizant of turnarounds. By this I mean, the amount of time between when you sent in the work until you hear back from an editor about the status of your submission. Nothing will send your work to the bottom of a slush pile than to send a follow-up email the day after you submitted, wondering whether or not you are going to be in the magazine. Most publications will post how long it takes to hear back from them about the status of a submission, and an amount of time after which you should contact them if you haven’t heard from them.

Things You Shouldn’t Do

1.       Send an email telling an editor that they would be stupid not to publish your work. It always surprises me when I get an email telling me that I need to publish a story, poem, or piece of nonfiction because it is the next best thing. Top this off with letting me know that I would be a fool not to accept it, almost guarantees a trip to the trash can.
2.       Send a photocopy of your story by registered mail.  If you want to have your story in a magazine, start by giving it to editors in a format that they can actually use. By sending a faded and blurry photocopy of your forty-word poem and declaring that it is a soul-searching masterpiece does not inspire as much confidence as you would think.
3.       Contact an editor on a frequent basis about the status of your submission. I have to sort through hundreds of emails a day, edit for the current issue, and work on editing an anthology; not to mention a thousand other intangibles. We posted a time table about getting back to you for a reason: read it.
4.       Be discouraged by a form rejection letter. This is a bitter pill to swallow for many writers. They think the form rejection letter means that the editor didn’t read their work, or simply had things already planned and was stringing writers along. The reality is on any given month I send out hundreds upon hundreds of rejection letters. There is simply not enough time in the day to offer feedback to every single person. This not to say that I do not offer feedback, or that editors do not offer feedback in general, but instead the process is streamlined so writers can be responded to in a reasonable amount of time.
5.       Call the magazine to find out about your submission. This is subsumed by not contacting an editor about the status of your submission before enough time has passed, but I thought it warranted a special mention considering it is really going the extra mile in terms of being an irritation. If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, calling us is not going to suddenly make us more accessible.
6.       Send another email with corrections. Read twice, send once. If you don’t think what you sent is ready for publication, then please don’t send it. You get one chance at a first impression, and nothing speaks to being underprepared and unprofessional than sending a draft and immediately following up with another draft. If your piece needs work, note that in your submission, but don’t send a series of emails chronicling the different stages of the edits for that story. The exception, of course, is if you have already been accepted and you have been asked to make edits.
7.       Contact the magazine to air your frustrations about not being selected. I say this with all seriousness. It is very likely that you got rejected because the piece was not a good fit and not that the magazine has decided to order a hit on your writing career. Please don’t treat it that way. Lashing out at a publication for sending a form rejection letter, or passing on a piece you have written, reeks of a lack of professionalism and could impact your ability to publish elsewhere. Many editors are friends, especially in the digital age, and word spreads fast.
8.       Contact the magazine to ask if you think a story you are working on would be a good fit elsewhere. I can appreciate the sentiment. A lot of editors are writers themselves, and they love talking about the process and the product. I find myself building friendships with writers, those we publish and those we do not, and often I will give them suggestions about their work. However, if you don’t know me personally and have never been published or solicited in any way to use me as a sounding board, then do not contact me and ask if a poem or story would be a good fit at another magazine. If you think it is ready for publication, then submit it here. An obvious exception would be if the writer knew the story would not be a good fit and asked because they were uncertain in venturing into new territory.

I could probably keep listing things you shouldn’t do, but I will wrap it up there. I encourage you to keep trying and keep writing. Things only get better with time, and time is all we really have. I love to hear from other writers and potential readers, so please stop by and say hello.

Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, Deviance of Time, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He also works as an editor at Empirical, a national magazine with a strong West Coast vibe. Find out more about the magazine at

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I've been awarded Indie Book of the Day!

Fourth of July Sale!

In celebration of Independence Day in the U.S., my publisher - MuseItUp Publishing - is offering a 50% discount on any e-book today and tomorrow. Come check out some great titles.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Author Penny Estelle

Today I am hosting author Penny Estelle. Learn more about Penny and her various works. 

City Girl’s Trip Down Reality Lane – Part 2

One of the first things we did after purchasing our 54 acres in the middle of nowhere was sink a well.  But before that could actually happen, we were told, by the gentleman drilling our well, to hire a witcher to find the best spot.  There was no joking smirk, or even a look of amusement.  This guy was dead serious and gave us several names to choose from.

So I call one of the names, from this point on he will be known as witch guy, and he comes right out.  I got to say; he looked just like any ordinary Joe Blow on the street. He’s holding a slim 2-foot metal rod in each hand and starts walking our property. The story goes when the rods cross each other, you’ve hit pay dirt!  He stops at a spot, not far from where we are planning to build and declares, “Here’s your water.”

I’ve never been a person to hide my skepticism and my expression must have spoken volumes.  “You don’t seem convinced,” says witch guy.  “Do you want to try it?”

I took the rods, held them so they layed lightly on my finger tips and walked over the area.  Like magic, those rods crossed on their own.  “Did you go to witch school for this?”  He patiently explained how he had been an apprentice to another witcher and learned the craft that way.  (Folks, they do walk among us!)

“Do you want to know how many feet you will have to dig to hit water?” witch guy asked.

Well, of course we did.  He proceeded to rest one rod across his finger and let it bounce on the ground.  That rod bounced 300 times.  When all was said and done, we hit water at 275 feet, but they dug to 320 feet.  $10,000 later, we had a hole dug, a casing with a pump installed and a 1500 gallon water tank.  I am sure, without any water bill, we will have that investment recouped in an easy 50 or 60 years.  I will say this – the water up here tastes unbelievably good!  As a side note:  We had the water tested and there were no chemicals or any kind of bacteria found!

Over the years, the trailer Jim was living in became a hostel for every mouse within five miles of our property.  Let me say here and now, I HATE mice!  One weekend when I was there, Jim woke up to me throwing tiny water bottles at a mouse that kept running back and forth on the kitchen counter.  He grabbed his gun (which was loaded with snake shot) and aimed.  The mouse ran under our tiny futon that we slept on.  Jim was looking under that when I noticed the mouse was walking up the screen door.  I whisper to Jim, “Look, here he is.”

BOOM!  It’s true!  Snake shot and mouse guts all over and in the middle of the night!  The song, “You Know You’re a Redneck When” by Jeff Foxworthy was probably written for my husband.

It took about 4 years (or winters) for Jim to lay 2,000 cinder blocks, install windows and doors, have the trusses and roof put on.  Glory Halleluiah!  Jim could move out of the Mouse Palace into a completely enclosed block shell. It was indeed a day of celebration!
Part 3 of my Girl’s Trip Down Reality Lane will be Monday, July 2.  Jim Hatch has been kind enough to host me so I sure hope you will come back and read more of ..ahum… Livin’ The Dream!

If you would like to read Part 1 of my story, it can be found @
If you leave a message today, your name will be entered into a drawing for a PDF copy of Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare!

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I am so excited to report that Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare – the Wickware Sagas, is finally out.  The Wickware Sagas – stories about a 7/8 grade history teacher, Miss Wickware, gives certain students a little shot in the arm, when it comes to their book report assignments.  They mysteriously end up back in time, meeting the historical subjects face to face.  How does that happen?

Take Billy Cooper for example.  Who the heck is William Tell – and more to the point, who cares?  Old lady Wickware springs this assignment on Friday afternoon and the dumb thing is due on Monday.  Billy has way too many things to do over the weekend than to worry about some dude he’s never heard of.  Billy has skated by on many assignments with a quick computer search and this will be no different – until he finds himself in 14 century Switzerland, in front of William Tell’s house.

Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare is a short eBook for only 99 cents.  It can be found at:

I have also written a novella called Hike Up Devil’s Mountain.  I am honored to say according to The, Hike Up Devil’s Mountain is on the preferred summer reading list for MG/tweens.  This story is in print and eBook version.

Hike Up Devil’s Mountain

Create Space for Hike Up Devil’s Mountain – printed book

My last MG/tween story is A Float Down the Canal.  This is a feel good story for us girls out there who were always just one of the guys/the underdog/just a good buddy!

A Float Down the Canal

Barnes & Noble

I love when folks stop by for a visit and especially when they leave me a message.