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Giveaway!!!

For a chance to win a print copy of Glenn Rolfe’s short story collection, Slush, or a chance to win your choice of any of his titles in e-book format, go to the link below for the Rafflecopter sign-up. Good luck! The print copy is only good for those in the United States.

Questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.



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Hell Hole by Hunter Shea





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Roger Ebert (1942-2013)









DID NOT FINISH by Simon Wood

Rough Cut by Brian Pinkerton (Bad Moon Books)

Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland (Samhain)

Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea (Samhain)

Wolf's Edge by W.D. Gagliani (Samhain)

See the blog post about my Gun Store experience!

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Lupo's World ~ A Blog

“My Top Five Werewolf Movies!” by Glenn Rolfe

November 19, 2015

Tags: werewolves, werewolf movies, glenn rolfe, blood and sand, werewolf fiction, horror

Werewolves are beasts! They are usually not very pretty, not very nice, and the less CGI the better! When I was asked to come up with a guest post for Bill (W.D.) Gagliani, I knew just what I wanted to do: My Top Five Favorite Werewolf Movies….

I left off some that people love, but that’s because this is MY list. I probably wasn’t impressed or overjoyed by some of your favorites. That’s just how it goes. So, without blabbering too much, here’s my top five!

1. The Howling — This gets the top spot. No questions asked. It’s vicious, it’s sexy (not in a glimmering teen girl/boy way), and it features the BEST transformation scene in werewolf movie history.

2. Silver Bullet — Based on my favorite written work (Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf), Silver Bullet was my first cinematic taste of werewolves and is still #2 for me. Corey Haim and Gary Busey are GREAT in this one. Haim’s ramrodding in his suped-up wheelchair? Sweet!

3. An American Werewolf in London — The next best werewolf transformation ever. From the opening scene of the two Americans waking through the foggy moors to the damn terrifying visions that take over, to the eventual full transformation and attacks in the city. Fantastic.

4. The Wolfman (2010) — Even though Benicio Del Toro is playing an Englishman, this one looks fantastic, has an excellent screenplay, and his wonderfully acted. It kept the vibe of one of those spooky old Universal films but with all the modern touches. That’s a feat in itself. Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt are great in this one. “I’ll kill you all!!!”

5. Wolf — Jack Nicholson, James Spader, and Michelle Pfeiffer are wonderful in this dramatic, vengeful tale. It is a long movie, but the acting and story are so good you can’t help but get caught up. This movie made me HATE James Spader for years (he’s the best asshole on the planet). It came out in 1994, so it is a bit dated, but still so good.

Blood and Rain, Synopsis

The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.

Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man's terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen. Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can't even comprehend? One night can-and will-change everything.

Find Glenn Rolfe at: http://glennrolfe.com/ as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Biography, Glenn Rolfe
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram's Bridge, Boom Town, and the forthcoming, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will be released in March, 2016. He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Praise for Blood and Rain

“A major new talent rises from the Maine woods…Rolfe is the real deal, and Blood and Rain is a classic monster novel, full of blood and teeth and the kind of razor sharp writing that makes the pages sing. Small town horror is back, with a vengeance!” –Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Sparrow Rock, Diablo: Storm of Light and Day One

"With slashing claws and blood-soaked fur, Blood and Rain will have you howling in terror and delight. A welcome addition to the werewolf mythos, and proof that we're in the presence of a rising star in the genre. Highly recommended!" -Ronald Malfi, author of The Floating Staircase

“Rolfe tells a tale that captures your attention like King without all of the wordiness. He also spills the red stuff like Laymon…” – Into the Macabre

“Blood and Rain is a monumental piece of horror fiction. It represents everything I love about werewolves, creature features, siege films, and everything else in between. It is still early in the year, but this is a clear cut candidate for my favorite book of 2015.” — Horror Underground

“Wow! Easily one of the best werewolf books I’ve ever read.” – Hunter Shea, author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

“Some good ‘ol fashion violence and gore…” – Jason Parent, author of Seeing Evil

“Glenn Rolfe takes a swing at the werewolf genre and hits a home run.” – Russell James, author of Q Island and Dreamwalker

“…not just another werewolf story, Rolfe has managed to take the werewolf to a-whole-nother level…” – Horror Novel Reviews

“The best werewolf novel I’ve read since Jeff Strand’s Wolf Hunt.”–Horror After Dark

Excerpt

Stan Springs stared at the curse in the night sky. His curse. He clenched his jaw, and bit back the grunts that demanded release from within his sweat-covered body. His muscles tightened and took turns throwing fits. He could feel his heartbeat’s thunderous barrage at work inside his heaving chest. It was only a matter of minutes before the changes would come.

He ripped his gaze from the clouds, moved away from the window and knelt down next to the bed against the concrete wall. He slipped one shaky hand beneath the mattress and found the small incision he’d made when he first arrived at the institution. He had traded a guard, a heavyset fella by the name of Harold Barnes, his prized Ted Williams rookie card in exchange for a copy of the key. Parting with this gold mine had been necessary. Stan Springs had nothing else of value with which to barter. Harold trusted him enough to make the swap; he told Stan there were crazies here by the dozen, but he could tell that Stan was not one of them.

No, Harold, I’m something far worse.

Key in hand, Stan stepped to the unlocked door and cracked it open. The hallway was clear. He moved down the corridor, as stealthily as during his heydays working on the force in New York. Hearing footfalls ahead and to his left, he fell back and pressed his large frame against the custodial door. Hidden by the entryway’s shadow, he watched Nurse Collins—a tall, thin woman with a dark complexion—pass fifty feet from where he stood, before she disappeared into the nurses’ break room.

Barefoot and dressed in only a Red Sox T-shirt and his sleeping shorts, Stan made a break for the staircase across the hall. His breaths were coming faster now. If he didn’t hurry, he wouldn’t make it outside. He crept down the steps leading to the main hallway.

Through the small window on the stairwell door, he could see Harold Barnes’s haunted jowls illuminated by the laptop screen in front of him. The old man’s eyes were closed, his mouth open. Harold hadn’t even made it an hour into his shift before he was out. Stan knew Harold also ran his own antique shop in the neighboring town of Hallowell. He’d told Stan that working both jobs on the same day, which was sometimes unavoidable, made it difficult for him on the night shift. It was another shared nugget Stan had stored away for nights like this one—the nights the beast in him needed to get out.

Easing the door open, Stan skulked his way along the shadows on the wall, and tiptoed to the main entrance door. Despite the cramps now rampaging through his calves and thighs, he slipped the procured key into the lock, slow and steady. The door clicked open, and he stepped out into the night.

As the cool breeze brushed against the sweat of his brow, the tendons and bones in his face began to shift. The rest of his body followed suit. He dropped to one knee and cried out. His skin, his scalp, his eyes, his muscles were all too tight. He reached behind him and managed to push the door shut.

If you could see me now, Harold.

The private roads out front were deserted. He launched from the building’s stairs and landed on the lawn below, making a beeline for the woods to the left of the large property.

He was twenty feet from the forest when the change hit him like a massive wave, crashing him to the ground. His muscles clenched and squeezed and tore, while the bones of his face continued to crack and grow. His teeth began to fall out in place of the monster’s. Down on all fours, he crawled to the tree cover and vomited. A mix of last night’s cafeteria meat loaf, black coffee, loose teeth, and blood splashed the ferns before him. Stan’s fingers extended as his claws dug into the soft soil of spring’s floor. He moaned and grunted his way through the rest of the fluid process.

In full beast mode, Stan Springs stood and howled at the cloud-covered sky. The creatures of the night became ghosts among the trees. He felt the strength flowing through him and the hunger begging to be sated.

He burst forward, headed north. Despite Stan’s best effort to control the beast’s killing zone, he found himself heading home.

The Mogwai – More Than Just a Gremlin! and La Llorona – The Weeping Woman

August 17, 2015

Tags: Catherine Cavendish, horror, angels, demons, mogwai, la llorona, revenge

My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

(See pic 1)

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. Today, I’m going to focus on just two of these, starting with the mogwai.

If you thought those cuddly, furry creatures who mustn’t see sunlight, get wet or be fed after midnight were just figments of Hollywood’s fevered imagination, then think again. Forget little Gizmo, think more of the evil Stripe and you are starting to hark back to the old Chinese legend of the mogwai.

(See pic 2)

Over the centuries, the term mogwai has come to refer to a breed of dead spirit which returns in order to wreak vengeance on any who have harmed it in life. Such vengeance can be of the most deadly and destructive kind and anyone who falls victim to a mogwai attack needs to think long and hard about who they might have hurt in the past. Getting rid of such a vengeful spirit is no simple affair, but burning (usually fake) banknotes seems to help. This gives the dead spirit money to fund their afterlife and entices them to move on and leave the world of the living behind.

In older Chinese tradition, mogwai were a breed of faerie folk with superpowers which they used to cause harm to humans. They were said to reproduce sexually during mating seasons which would be triggered by rainstorms. You can see where the film-makers got their ideas!

(See pic 3)

La Llorona – The Weeping Woman

A sad story of revenge comes from a legend – retold in different versions – originating in Mexico.

Maria was a beautiful woman who drowned her children in a Mexican river as an act of revenge against her faithless husband who had left her for a younger woman. Her triumph – if any – was short-lived because, once she realized the horror of what she had done, she could not live with herself, so she drowned in a river in Mexico City.

At the gates of heaven she was challenged. Where were her children? She was told she could not move onto the afterlife until she found them, so now she is bound to the earth, endlessly searching for her missing infants. Her constant weeping gave her the name ‘La Llorona’. Her story is often cited as a salutary tale that parents will recount to their children to dissuade them from wandering off alone at night because, in her quest, La Llorona will sometimes kidnap any youngsters she finds alone. She begs forgiveness from her own children, but they never grant it. She then drowns those she has stolen in order that they might take the place of her own offspring, but that never happens. Her children are never restored to her and La Llorona is forced to continue her quest.

(See pic 4)

She appears late in the evening or night, emerging from lakes and rivers in Mexico. Some believe that anyone who hears her wails is marked for death. Her pitiful cries of, ‘Ay, mis hijos! (‘Oh, my children!’) are terrible to hear. It seems La Llorona is destined to walk this earth, trapped in a limbo between the living and the dead, for all eternity.

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Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head.

Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel (see links at left):

Samhain Publishing
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Omnilit

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here:

Website: http://www.catherinecavendish.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendish
Twitter: @Cat_Cavendish
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish
Tsu: http://www.tsu.co/CatherineCavendish


Tough Guys by Hunter Shea

November 17, 2014

Tags: tough guys, horror, westerm, weird western, protagonists

I love tough guys.

Let me clarify. I love tough guys existing in desperate situations, men who know fear, but who also know how to work with that fear. Conquerors, vanquishers, men of action who make no apologies. The world needs men like this now more than ever. Imagine a place where tough guys routinely strode up to politically correct mullet-heads, slapping them silly – slapping sense into them. Better yet, let’s send a battalion of tough guys to Washington and get our collective heads out of our asses.

I’ve always been intrigued by cowboy culture. To me, the men of the range were the next to last tough guy generation (the last being those who fought in WWII and reshaped the world). Cowboys were heavily mythologized by Hollywood in the 20th century, so for most folks, it’s impossible to separate tall tale from true story.

Then again, there’s a certain sublimity to a well told tall tale (say that 10 times fast, pardner). So, where is all this heading? Honestly, I’m not so sure. Really, this is a snippet of what was going through my head when I sat down to write my weird west novel, Hell Hole. Yes, it had to have horror because that’s what I and Samhain live to write and publish. But this time around, I craved something different – to lose myself in the character of a bonafide tough guy. Nat Blackburn, the former cowboy, Apache scout and Rough Rider is as tough as it gets, but not in an Aahnold or Die Hard parody. He’s simply a man, flesh and heart hardened by decades of hard living under the unrelenting sun. Despite his swagger, he knows he doesn’t have all the answers and he necessarily doesn’t relish facing danger. But when you’re in a tight spot, a man does what a man’s gotta do.

America needs more men like this. I can only imagine what Teddy Roosevelt would do and say if he was alive today. Heads would roll and he wouldn’t give a damn about the popularity polls. He wouldn’t get re-elected, but his four years in office would be a hell of a ride.

But, seeing as that’s not going to happen, it’s up to us writers to spin our tales, taking you back to not necessarily simpler times, but at least ones where every action wasn’t picked apart by media and consumers alike. Living ain’t pretty. Hell Hole takes you to a place where it’s downright ugly. It takes a man like Nat to spit in its eye.

You’ll wish you could be a man like Nat…or be with a man like him.

Tough guys are a dying breed. But they’re not dead yet.

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HELL HOLE Synopsis:

Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits.

Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem–those who go seeking their fortune never return.

Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. But the remnants of Hecla are far from empty. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark mine...as well as a force so sinister Nat’s and Teta’s very souls are in jeopardy.

There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.

Hunter Shea, Biography:

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. HellHole came out in August 2014 and is his first western horror. His next Samhain novel, Island of the Forbidden, publishes January 2015.

His thriller Montauk Monster was published by Kensington/Pinnacle in June 2014, and he's working on a second novel for Pinnacle. A short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks is available for free download, and he has written a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. Hell Hole (Samhain) is his first western horror. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Raves for Hunter Shea:

Forest of Shadows
"A frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won't soon forget." --Night Owl Reviews

Sinister Entity
"This is the real deal. The fear is palpable. Horror novels don't get much better than this." --Literal Remains
". . .Culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages!" --Horror Novel Reviews

Evil Eternal
"Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant. . .a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare." --Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows

Swamp Monster Massacre
"If you're craving an old-school creature-feature that has excessive gore. . .B-horror movie fans rejoice, Hunter Shea is here to bring you the ultimate tale of terror!" --Horror Novel Reviews


The Power of Rejection

October 26, 2014

Tags: writing, horror, twilight zone magazine, rejection, wdgagliani, halloween

What a difference a rejection slip can make…

It’s Halloween again, theoretically my favorite time of year, and at my age you get nostalgic a lot, so I started to think back at how I ended up writing horror. Why horror?

I’ve written before about how during winter of 1976 I read a paperback novel by a writer I’d never heard of. I saw it on a grocery store rack, found the cover intriguing, and picked it up. And it scared the shit out of me, a latchkey kid home alone every day until well after dark. The novel was ‘Salem’s Lot by unknown writer Stephen King (his second, but I was unaware), and even though I had always “wanted to be” a writer, and had written plenty of short stories and aborted novel beginnings by then (including my first werewolf tale in a 4th grade parochial school English class), that book made me seriously say: “I want to do this!”

I read plenty of horror (especially King and James Herbert) in the next few years, but I also read plenty of mysteries and British thrillers, which were also a first love, so my horror phase took a back seat.

Then in late spring of 1981 I was on a field trip with my college geology class (spending the weekend in Wausau, WI, if you care) and during the bus ride I noticed that our T.A. was reading a magazine I’d never seen before: Twilight Zone Magazine. After getting bored playing electronic football (remember that? I think it was Coleco Electronic Quarterback) with my lab partner and motel roommate, I leaned across the aisle and asked the T.A. if I could borrow that magazine. Not only did he lend it to me, when I tried to return it later he told me to keep it.

Now I think that small kindness was a catalyst for my writing career.

Inside the June issue of the magazine, among other things, was Stephen King’s story “The Jaunt.” I still have that issue. Something else in there was an ad for the very first TZ story contest, which was to be judged by Harlan Ellison, a writer I already admired.

I read that magazine cover to cover, and I became convinced I should enter the contest. I spent the rest of my weekend trying to get excited by the rock formations we were visiting, some in very picturesque places indeed… but all I could think about was the story I was going to write. And I did write a story, and submit it to the contest. I had submitted stories to pro-level publications since 1976 (remember ‘Salem’s Lot?), accumulating a fair stack of form rejections. Turned out some were the very same men’s magazines that had published King, but I didn’t know that. In any case, I submitted my story and waited eagerly, knowing deep down I wouldn’t win, but still hoping.

Well, there were 7000 entries and Dan Simmons won that contest, if I recall correctly.

And I got a rejection slip.

I still have it. See photo above, or at top of left column.

It was the first rejection slip on which someone had bothered to write an encouraging note. Of course I knew it wasn’t Ellison, but still… I owe that person a huge debt.

That rejection slip, and later that summer Raiders of the Lost Ark, kept me writing and reading and dreaming in the genre.

I would have more good responses from Twilight Zone (see second photo in left column), but none would ever match the injection of hope and persistence and encouragement given to me by that one person, who told me that “Web of Dreams” was a good story. It later morphed into another story after various rewrites and workshop appearances, and is included in my collection, Shadowplays. In that form, it earned an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror (14th Edition).

It took me twenty years to publish a novel, but I might not have changed my major from geology, or pursued my Master’s degree in Creative Writing, or taught at the college level, or finally finished that first novel, which remains in print to this day, and which started a series which is now up to a sixth installment.

As for Twilight Zone magazine, I remained a subscriber until its demise.

But what a difference a “good” rejection slip can make…

Thanks, Twilight Zone, and whoever wrote that note. Hope comes in many shapes.

Happy Halloween!


W.D. Gagliani
Milwaukee, WI
Halloween 2014

ON THE LAKE - Guest Blog Post by Hunter Shea

July 23, 2014

Tags: Hunter Shea, Montauk Monster, horror, monsters, thriller

I’m sitting on a covered porch at this very moment, looking out at a still lake, its borders hugged by closely packed trees. A few birds chirp in the branches around me. There’s nary a ripple on the pristine water. It’s a sunny day with the promise of rising humidity.

My family and I will be plodding down to the water soon. At this particular spot, we’ll be the only people enjoying the lake, bobbing on rafts. The water by the shore is clear. We can see the sandy bottom and occasional fish dart by. But if we paddle out a little further, the water becomes impenetrable.

Out beyond the dock, the sand stops and the slimy muck begins. Treading water, you can’t see your knees, much less your toes.

And you wonder, what else is in the water, right now, just below my paddling feet? It’s a big lake. There aren’t many power boats. This is canoe country. Nature rules here. If your raft drifts into the center of the lake, you know you’re floating high above an unseen bottom that is deeper than you’d care to imagine.

Something splashes behind you. Your head jerks around, but you only see the widening rings of something’s dive into the depths. What the hell was that? It sounded big. Too big. You paddle fast, eyes fastened on the dock where your wife snoozes in the sun, unaware that something has risen up to view the lake’s interloper.

There’s that splash again, closer this time, following you. Your arms burn. Your heart trips and stumbles. A loon releases its ululating cry in the distance. At the moment, it sounds like a warning. Or is it cheering on the thing trailing you?

You want to cry out, but you can’t scare the kids. So you keep paddling, despite the cramp in your shoulder. You feel a thump under the raft that nearly jolts you into the air.

Stay calm. Keep paddling. Christ, what was that?

And suddenly, you can see the bottom again. Your daughters are playing Frisbee in the water. Your wife wakes up and asks, “You want another beer?”

Yes, oh yes, I’d like that.
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Hunter Shea
July 23, 2014


Publisher’s Weekly named the upcoming thriller, THE MONTAUK MONSTER, one of the best summer books of 2014:

The urban mythologies of the Montauk Monster and the government labs on Plum Island unite to cause staggering levels of mayhem when mutant animals with toxic blood descend on a Long Island town. This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley. — PW

The Montauk Monster, Synopsis and Advanced Praise:

"Shea combines ancient evil, old school horror, and modern style." --Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author

It Kills. . .

On a hot summer night in Montauk, the bodies of two local bar patrons are discovered in the dunes, torn to shreds, their identities unrecognizable. . .

It Breeds. . .

In another part of town, a woman's backyard is invaded by four terrifying creatures that defy any kind of description. What's clear is that they're hostile--and they're ravenous. . .

It Spreads. . .

With every sunset the terror rises again, infecting residents with a virus no one can cure. The CDC can't help them;FEMA can't save them. But each savage attack brings Suffolk County Police Officer Gray Dalton one step closer to the shocking source of these unholy creations. Hidden on nearby Plum Island, a U.S. research facility has been running top-secret experiments. What they created was never meant to see the light of day. Now, a vacation paradise is going straight to hell.

"Hunter Shea is the real deal.. . .intense." --Gord Rollo, author of Valley of the Scarecrow and Crimson

"Shea delves deep into the unknown. A thrill-ride of a read!" --Alexandra Holzer, author of Growing Up Haunted

Called “Most Anticipated Summer Read of 2014” by The Horror Bookshelf along with Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes and Brian Moreland’s The Vagrants.

LAUNCH PARTY FOR WOLF'S CUT (Friday, March 28, 2014, 8-10 PM CST / 9-11 PM EST)

March 26, 2014

Tags: wolf's cut, samhain publishing, horror, thrillers, noir, crime, werewolves, launch party, hook of a book

LAUNCH PARTY FOR WOLF’S CUT, THE 5th NICK LUPO HORROR-THRILLER!

You're most likely strolling through Facebook in the evening right? Posting your favorite book, cartoon, and chatting with friends in between watching a cool show or settling down for the evening? There’s a fun VIRTUAL party you can drop by to help celebrate the publication of my new novel! We've got some books to giveaway also that you can enter to win, too!

DETAILS ABOUT PARTY:
The virtual party sponsored by Hook of a Book (www.facebook.com/HookofaBook) page takes place on the actual wall of the Facebook page (not on the invite wall if you have a FB invite) on Friday, March 28, from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CST (9:00-11:00 PM EST).

Attendees will be able to ask me any questions they want by PRE-ASKING or asking during the party via an email submission which will then be posted by the moderator to the Hook of a Book wall. Attendees can see questions answered and will be able to comment.

HOW TO ASK QUESTIONS:
Please pre-ask questions using email listed below or Erin will also take limited questions during the party which will go in a queue to be asked in order received. Email Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com (subject: (author) question). Emailing a question enters you in the giveaways, or you can email just to enter.

The night of the event (Friday, March 28) you can also inbox message Erin Al-Mehairi on the Hook of a Book Facebook page (below) if you can’t email and it will go into the queue.

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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT WOLF’S CUT AND OTHER NICK LUPO THRILLERS:

"Wolf's Cut is a stellar addition to Gagliani's Nick Lupo series. An impressive and addictive read... cements Gagliani's place at the top of the new wave of horror/crime fiction."
--Dreadful Tales

"Let out a howl, because Lupo's back, and badder than ever!"
--John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes and NightWhere

"With his series of Nick Lupo books, W.D. Gagliani has done more than pump a little oxygen into the tired werewolf thriller. He's resurrected the entire genre and added a rush of nitrous oxide excitement. Do yourself a favor and pick up Wolf's Cut, a nice addition to this superior series."
--Gene O'Neill, author of Dance of the Blue Lady and Other Stories

"W.D. Gagliani's Detective Lupo series is the best of the werewolf genre. Top-notch writing, nail-biting suspense, and a ferocious mix of serial killers and werewolves... Gagliani continues to deliver fast-paced horror that will get your heart pumping. Highly recommended."
--Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter and The Devil's Woods

"Being Italian and a former cop I can relate to Lupo on many levels. The whole series is a big hit at our store with several of our staff. We can't wait for the next book. Keep howling!"
--Tony D'Amato, Chief Armorer of The Gun Store, Las Vegas, NV

"Wolf's Edge is an exciting page-turned full of suspense, mystery, and thrills. Don't miss it."
--The Horror Zine, on the 4th Nick Lupo novel

"Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell."
--Jonathan Maberry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dragon Factory on Wolf’s Edge

"Gagliani has brought bite back to the werewolf novel!"
--CNN Headline News Book Lizard on Wolf’s Trap

"The best werewolf novel since The Howling!"
--J.A. Konrath, author of Whiskey Sour on Wolf's Trap

"Riveting, disturbing, gut-wrenching – and entertaining as all get-out – and and I loved every page!"
--Jay Bonansinga, author of The Killer's Game and co-author of The Walking Dead Series, on Wolf's Trap, the 1st Nick Lupo novel

ABOUT THE BOOKS
WOLF’S TRAP: The Nick Lupo Series Book One.

It takes a beast to catch a killer!

Nick Lupo is a good cop--with the instincts of a great detective... or maybe a wolf. Lupo has a lot in common with wolves, which is only natural considering he's a werewolf. He's battled the creature inside him for years, but now there's another predator in the area. A bloodthirsty serial killer is leaving a gruesome trail of victims, and it's up to Lupo to track him down and stop the slaughter. Will Lupo dare to unleash one beast to stop another?

Wolf's Trap is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated first book of the savage series of horror/thrillers about Nick Lupo, the werewolf/cop. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.
Other books in the series are Wolf's Gambit, Wolf's Bluff, Wolf's Edge, and the new one, Wolf’s Cut.

WOLF’S GAMBIT: The Nick Lupo Series Book Two.

There's something terrible happening near the resort town of Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Some people are afraid there's a wild animal on the loose, savagely tearing its victims apart. Others, like Nick Lupo, know better. Lupo knows a werewolf attack when he sees one. He should, since he's a werewolf himself, though he's been able to control his urges and maintain his secret for years now. He's also a homicide cop, so it may be up to him to hunt down one of his own kind. It looks like there's a new werewolf in town, a rogue out only for blood. But looks can be deceiving. And it's only the beginning of Nick's problems.

Wolf's Gambit is the sequel to the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, and the second in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

WOLF’S BLUFF: The Nick Lupo Series Book Three.

The animal attacks in Wausau, Wisconsin, remind Nick Lupo of werewolf attacks. He should know...

Homicide cop -- and werewolf -- Nick Lupo has battled other werewolves before, killers who unlike Nick have no problem hunting human prey. So when a new series of savage animal attacks terrifies the area, Nick already has a suspect in mind. And he knows that if he's right it'll be up to him to destroy her. But even as he begins his surveillance, someone else is out there, watching them both. Someone with a very deadly plan. Someone who knows just what it takes to kill a werewolf.

Wolf's Bluff is the third novel in the series started by the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, following Wolf's Gambit. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

WOLF’S EDGE: The Nick Lupo Series Book Four.

Can one werewolf stop a pack of super-wolves?

Nick Lupo is a homicide cop with a difference. He's a werewolf. He's worked hard to control his condition, but it isn't easy to contain the beast inside him. It also means he has some very powerful enemies. Wolfpaw Security Services is a mercenary organization that wants Lupo dead. They want to infiltrate the US military with their own werewolves and they can't let anyone -- especially a fellow-werewolf like Lupo -- stand in their way.

Wolfpaw's genetic experiments have their roots in the Third Reich, or perhaps even farther back, and now they might have created a "super-wolf" nearly invulnerable to silver. Soon their ranks will be filled with these invincible warriors. Can one wolf -- even a fierce beast like Lupo -- face the fangs and claws of a pack of these killers and hope to survive?

Wolf's Edge is the fourth novel in the series started by the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, and following Wolf's Gambit and Wolf's Bluff. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

WOLF’S CUT: The Nick Lupo Series Book Five.

Nick Lupo: A cop, a werewolf...and a target!

Homicide detective--and werewolf--Nick Lupo is hoping to finally have a chance to focus his attentions on the woman he loves, instead of the Wolfpaw mercenary werewolves who tried so hard to kill him. Lupo survived that battle--barely--and brought down Wolfpaw. But Wolfpaw was backed by a super secret group within the Pentagon whose sinister plan is already in motion. And a new enemy has set its sights on the local casino. Nick Lupo thought he was home free, but whenever he tries to get out, they drag him back in...

Wolf's Cut is the fourth novel following the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, so it is the fifth in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

The Next Big Thing Blog

November 18, 2012

Tags: Next Big Thing, work in progress, horror, thriller, Nick Lupo, W.D. Gagliani

I was tagged for the Next Big Thing promotional blog project by good friend and author Debbi Mack, whose Sam MacRae mystery series is well worth your time. Debbi's tackling a YA suspense novel right now, so (unless you're coming here from there) go read about it here (see the link at left):

http://midlistlife.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/the-next-big-thing/


The Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:


What is your working title of your (work in progress) book?

Wolf’s Cut

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Wolf’s Cut is the 5th novel in a series that began with Bram Stoker Award nominee Wolf’s Trap (then came Wolf’s Gambit, Wolf’s Bluff, and Wolf’s Edge). The first book was essentially intended as a stand-alone, but the second, third, and fourth books together form a loose trilogy. The ideas for this one (Wolf's Cut) came from both resolved and unresolved plot points in the other four books. This book will also be the start of a loose trilogy.

What genre does your book fall under?

Horror fits, but usually I prefer Horror-Thriller. It can also be considered Urban Fantasy, though of the very adult variety due to its graphic content.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is actually harder to answer than I thought. These days I don't usually write with a type in mind, although as I wrote Wolf's Trap in the late 90s/early 2000s I sometimes pictured my protagonist, Nick Lupo, as a young Andy Garcia. For his love interest, Dr. Jessie Hawkins, I pictured supermodel Cindy Crawford, minus the famous mole. If I were to cast the movie of Wolf's Cut today (it's years later than Wolf's Trap), I'd look for a 40-something Hugh Jackman type, but David Giuntoli (of NBC's GRIMM, where he also plays a cop named Nick) could fit. For Jessie I could see a combination of (TV-show CASTLE's) Stana Katic, plus an older version Megan Fox and/or Mila Kunis, but "earthy" – beautiful but not outwardly glamorous. Lupo's partner, Di Santo, would probably be a Ben Affleck type, able to be both serious and silly. In my series there's also a blonde bombshell TV news investigative reporter with, um, a very "developed" libido – for Heather Wilson I'd have to cast a Jenna Jameson type, although she could exhibit some Scarlett Johansson, Kate Upton and Julia Stegner qualities, too!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In Wolf's Cut, Nick Lupo has to face both the remnants of the evil Wolfpaw mercenary organization (with its roots way back in Nazi Germany and beyond) and a mob family that wants to take over the nearby reservation casino, finding a way to play one against the other.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My next book was sold to Samhain Publishing via the L. Perkins Agency. The first book was also reissued by Samhain, who also published the fourth (Wolf's Edge). The middle two books are now published by Amazon's 47North imprint.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It's in progress, so I'm still working on it! My first novel took about nine years. My second novel about nine months, third novel about seven months, and fourth about six. A lot depends on my day job, family and life crises, inspiration, other projects, and so on. But I'm definitely able to plot a novel faster than I used to be. This one will have taken me about seven-eight months when it's done.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Wolf's Hour, The Howling, and any fast-paced thriller that also includes horror, paranormal, and noir elements.

In this day and age, however, some of the newer Urban Fantasy series might be a closer parallel.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A huge inspiration on me was The Wolf's Hour by Robert R. McCammon, plus The Howling by Gary Brandner, Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King, by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I also have to give a shout-out to the TV show "Forever Knight," which gave me a blueprint.

But there's more. I was always most impressed – and frightened! – by the werewolf in the Universal monster movies such as "The Wolf-Man" and (later) "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein." Larry Talbot was a tortured man, a reluctant monster – a true tragic figure. I related to his troubles and his fears. I could see how difficult it would be to try to get along when you were a slave to the Creature Within – and that struggle became a central part of my protagonist's character. I tried to look logically at how he could get along in the world, how he could learn to control the Creature without killing indiscriminately. It seemed to me that vampires tend to love being vampires, sort of like evil superheroes. I wondered why it couldn't be done with a "good" werewolf (who still has a bad side). When I started my fisrt novel, Wolf's Trap, almost no one was writing about werewolves. Now they seem to be gaining in popularity. I hope I had a tiny little bit to do with that. My first publisher, Leisure Books, only started adding werewolf novels after mine sold better than expected, so maybe I did…

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think my book(s) will interest anyone who likes the idea of a hero who is also a monster, anyone who is not afraid of graphic sex and violence, is interested in parallel stories (in the past and present), as well as multiple points of view, Nazi werewolves, and thriller elements such as fast pacing and lots of action. This new Work in Progress shouldn't be the first one you read, though: start with Wolf's Trap, or at least with the 2nd book, Wolf's Gambit. The books Gambit-Bluff-Edge should be read in order. This new book, Wolf's Cut, will be the next chapter in the Nick Lupo saga.

And now, check out the authors I have tagged and their blogs the week of November 26th:

David Bernstein - http://davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com/
Adam Cesare - http://www.adamcesare.com
John Everson - http://www.johneverson.com/wordplay/
Brian Moreland - http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com/
Brian Pinkerton - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/288505.Brian_Pinkerton/blog
-------------------------

My post is going up between November 19-23rd, so the 5 authors I've invited will do the same a week later. I've linked back to my inviter, Debbi Mack, and at left I also include links to my 5 tags.

How this works, in step form:
1. I write a blog answering those questions, and put links to the blogs of 5 others whom I invite. I also credit my inviter.
2. You write a blog answering those questions and put links to 5 others of your choice, as well as linking back to my blog.
You are now finished!
3. The 5 authors you invite answer the questions; each one puts that blog up the week after yours goes up and each one credits you as the inviter & puts a link to your blog.
4. They in turn tag 5 other authors, & the cycle continues.
So, you're done once you put your own blog up and list your 5 authors.
The idea is that each person gets shouted out a) as an invited author, and then b) 5 times as the one who invited.





Diving into Uncharted Territory: Audio Books by Armand Rosamilia

June 16, 2012

Tags: Armand Rosamilia, audio books, horror, zombies, writing

Armand Rosamilia
Diving Into Uncharted Territory: Audio Books By Armand Rosamilia

I read things, whether in print or with my Kindle. I always have and I always will. I love books and read 3-5 of them a week if I have time, and can't go to sleep unless I've read for at least an hour a night no matter how late and no matter where I am.

Before last February I swore I'd never buy a Kindle and had no desire to read inferior eBooks. I was old school, damnit, and I'm in my forties and too old to change now. Then Kim bought me a Kindle and I fell in love and can't imagine life without it.

I swore I'd never listen to an audio book as well. What use was that when I still had good eyes to relax and read with? I didn't want to hear some strange voice reading to me. I wasn't four anymore and needing mommy to read me a bedtime story. I was a big boy and could now read to myself.

But, as an author, I'm always looking for new ways to connect with readers. It seemed like every eBook I added to Kindle someone wanted the link for the B&N version or SmashWords or Lulu. So I spread my work around to appease the masses (said tongue in cheek, I promise).

Then someone asked if I had any of my books available on audio. I answered, truthfully, not yet, but I was working on it. As in, as soon as you asked me the question I started working on it.

I spent days and nights researching the various ways to get a quality audio book together, and decided right away I had neither the voice nor the equipment to do it myself. I needed a… wait, what did they call them again? Oh, yeah, a Narrator.

So I signed up on a site and posted a sample chapter of my Dying Days zombie novella, figuring it would be a perfect place to start. Besides, that was the book the reader asked about, so I was hoping I'd have one sale from it.

I also put out a blanket call on Facebook and Twitter in case anyone was interested in narrating it and had a good voice. If I could throw some work at someone I already knew, so much the better, right?

Then I started getting narrators interested and sending me samples of the work. As soon as I started listening I realized something: I had no idea if they were good or not. I'd never listened to a book in my life.

So I bought three of the cheapest horror and/or thriller audio books I could find and listened to them and heard what I liked and hated about the narrators and style.

I decided what made sense for Dying Days would be a female narrator since our main character, Darlene Bobich, is a female. That made sense. I had several to choose from and a couple narrators were pretty good, but one above all else intrigued me.

Amanda Lehman. I loved her sample and knew her voice well. The reason? I grew up across the street from her. How weird is that? We both grew up on Orchard Avenue in Belford, New Jersey, directly across the street. I hung out with her older brother as a kid and we all played kickball and football and manhunt at night.

I hadn't seen or spoken to her in probably twenty years. She'd married a guy I knew that was always cool, played bass, had long hair, a crazy dry sense of humor and loved Queensryche as much as I did. Alexis was the man, and the handful of times we hung out we had some fun. Heck, somewhere is a demo tape of me screaming into a mic doing Metal/hardcore crap with Alexis putting it all together musically.

Amanda was a few years younger than me, and I even remember her parents bringing her home from the hospital when she was born. Now, here she was, dropping the F bomb reading my story and making it come to life.

Out of everyone in the world who could potentially read Dying Days, she'd grown up a kickball throw away. And I couldn’t be happier with her reading and look forward to her diving into Dying Days 2 at some point as well.

Funny how life is sometimes stranger than fiction.

-------------------------------------------------

All six of us - Todd Brown, Mark Tufo, Ian Woodhead, Armand Rosamilia, John O'Brien and Dave Jeffery - hope you'll keep following us on the Summer of Zombie blog tour, and comment as we go along.

And… one lucky commenter for each blog will receive a Free eBook or Print book from one of the authors! Simply leave a comment with your e-mail address and we'll pick a random winner each day! Simple as that!

In Service To My Masters by David Benton

May 28, 2012

Tags: Writing, time management, David Benton, horror, rock music, Mysteries & Mayhem, A.G. Kent

In Service to My Masters by David Benton

Time.

Some days (weeks, months) managing it can seem almost impossible. Once you reach a certain age maintaining all of your responsibilities becomes a daunting task. This is true for everyone I know. Juggling home ownership, kids, pets, career, bills, and relationships can be a real drag. Even tackling only some of the aforementioned items can feel like a daily quest to the summit of Mt. Everest. But for those people who were blessed (cursed) with a creative bent, the day to day drudgery becomes compounded by the sting of the Muses’ whip.

Unfortunately I’m one of those people.

Like most, I struggle endlessly with very little monetary reimbursement or notoriety for my efforts. Yet somehow in the spaces between the day job, keeping track of my kids, making sure my pets don’t feel neglected, mowing the lawn -- and even occasionally eating and sleeping -- my hands always find a computer keypad or a fretboard to rest upon. Music and writing are my task masters (sometimes I even get a chance to blow the dust off of my air brush!), and they punish me with mental anguish when I don’t heed their call.

I had thought that writing horror fiction and playing hard rock would be a perfect marriage. After all, they go so well together. But I find that music and writing are very different art forms, each requiring a different set of skills and switching gears can be difficult. Music (in performance) is an art of moments, each beat sweeping away the last. One moment’s triumph or tragedy is instantly replaced by the next set of notes. Writing, on the other hand, requires more careful consideration. Words have to be crafted in such a way that conveys a vision from writer to reader. Both, when done exceptionally well, can carry a real emotional impact. And the effort to do both well eats a lot of time. It’s time that I really don’t have to spare, but somehow I fit it in by shifting everything to accommodate it.

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person – and that being the case – I oftentimes find myself wishing the demons were less demanding. If only I could be happy just going to work and coming home to relax in front of my TV! Then I could find a career and worry more about my pay stub and less about whether or not I could get a month off to go on tour. Then I could get an even bigger TV! My neighbors wouldn’t complain about my lawn because I was at rehearsals or working off a writing deadline and didn’t have a chance to cut the grass. I could be at my daughter’s recital instead of playing a show halfway across the state (or world). But of course, then I wouldn’t be me.

You might wonder why I’m complaining. After all it was my choice, right? The answer to that is: NO. To steal a line from Charles Bukowski: You don’t choose writing, writing chooses you. And the same can be said for music, or art, or dance, or theater. You don’t choose, you are chosen. Much like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind building a replica of the Devil’s Tower out of a pile of mashed potatoes, I am compelled, obsessed, and in need of an intervention. In fact I stopped playing music for four years. I sold all of my gear. I thought I was done. But the hooks were already set too deep. I came back to it. It was waiting for me (waiting for me to write the opus that the aliens are feeding into my brain).

I find that even moderate success comes with a staggering price tag. And that the cost must be paid not only by me, but also by everyone close to me, whether by choice or circumstance (sincerest apologies to my friends and family who have to put up with my madness).

You see, being an artist (writer, musician) isn’t something that I do; it’s something that I am. Being creative is more akin to being tall, or nice, or talkative than it is with having made a career choice. I can decide if I want to be a bricklayer or cheesemaker, a doctor or lawyer. But, much like being Indian, or Egyptian, or French, creative is something that you are or you aren’t – there is no choice.

I’m not driving the bus, you see. I’m being driven. You gotta let that boy boogie, ‘cause it’s in him and it’s gotta come out!

If I could choose, I would choose a life that was more…simple.

And then come those black-hearted Muses with their whip, putting me to task…

--------------------------------

David Benton is currently the touring bass player for the heavy metal novelty band Beatallica, as well as playing in the Milwaukee area with the hard rock trio CHIEF. His horror fiction collaborations with W.D. Gagliani are collected in the Mysteries & Mayhem ebook and in the mid-grade novel I Was a Seventh Grade Monster Hunter. More work in both fields is always on the horizon.

Author Kristopher Rufty on "Creating Characters"

May 12, 2012

Tags: Kristopher Rufty, Angel Board, writing, characters, horror

"Creating Characters"
By Kristopher Rufty

Other than being asked where my ideas come from, one thing I’m asked a lot is: “Am I in your book?” or “Was the character ________ based off of you?” Most of the time the answer is No, but there have been instances where I’ve borrowed from real life and turned them into fantasy. I’m sure I’ll do it again, many times, as well.

Back when I penned the first draft of Angel Board I was working as a manager for Office Depot. So, during the plotting stages I decided early on that David, the main character, would also be an office supply manager for a chain of stores known as Office Warehouse. While working for the Depot we hired an employee by the name of Dane, who later became a dear friend of mine, and also made his way into the book as the character of Martin. The baler wire incident that occurs in the book was a sensationalized account of what happened to me while making a cardboard bale. The wire snapped and lashed at my face, and if I wouldn’t have jumped backwards, the tip might have gotten me. I felt the wind on my eye as the wire just missed plucking it right out of my head.

Actually, the baler incident was what inspired all of Angel Board. It started with that one scene and everything else branched from there.

My recent release, PillowFace, is also very loosely based on fact. I took myself as a twelve year old kid and put him in today’s world. It was kind of fun imagining me as a kid and being surrounded by the technology we have today. When I was growing up, Cable TV and VHS were changing the world. Watching horror movies on Cinemax during their Full Moon Fridays series was a crucial part of my growing up, and as I began writing the book, I learned there is nothing like that out there now. The closest we have to Full Moon Friday today is Fearnet and Chiller. VHS has already become American nostalgia and Cable TV is ridiculously priced.

But, growing up in the sticks, and without internet, what I didn’t have in technology, I made for with imagination. My friends Chad and Eric (two guys that lived in the same vicinity as me) and I would spend our summers in the woods, hiking to a public pool that was located two roads over from my house. Instead of having our parents drive us, we walked on our own, and the best part was our parents didn’t mind. We were so isolated that the fear someone might be lurking in the shadows, waiting to snatch up your kids was absent. We stuck to the trail. It was an hour or more hike but we enjoyed every step of it.

The biggest worry we had were snakes. There were a lot of snakes where I grew up.

On our trips to the pool, and just our time spent in the woods riding dirt bikes, hiking the trails, and just being kids, we’d have some of the goofiest conversations, much like the trio of kids in PillowFace. Talking about horror movies, girls, and porno mags that we one day wanted to score, we’d travel the woods, searching for whatever we might find. The scarier, the better. And of course, we were not above the secluded wood nymph that might be hiding in the trees. In fact, we were driven by the possibility of finding some kind of beautiful forest woman who may be able to grant our wishes.

Well…I was anyway. I don’t believe I ever shared that vision with my friends.

So, taking such aspects of my childhood, the character Joel Olsen was born. A twelve year old horror fan with the dream of one day being a special effects artist. Although I was raised with two parents for the majority of my childhood, they did eventually divorce in my early teenage years. And while they were together, they both worked when I was old enough to be left home alone during the summers until around four o’clock. I’d have the whole day to myself while my sister was at summer daycare. In the book, Joel has lost his parents in a car accident and is being raised by Haley, his twenty-three year old sister. She’s just starting her career path and is now forced to become not just Joel’s older sister, but also his parent. She doesn’t cope well, and Joel spends a lot of time home alone as well.

And for Joel…that isn’t a good thing.

While my parents would be working I’d spend the majority of my time playing guitar or clacking away on a typewriter that weighed close to forty pounds (no lie) the adventures I wished I could take in real life.

And as grotesque as it is, PillowFace is one of those adventures. When I set out to write the book I asked myself: “What would have happened if I would have discovered someone like PillowFace when I was twelve years old?”

Not knowing the answer, I sat down to write PillowFace, and the book escalated from there. What I learned is a twelve year old can make awful decisions on his own.

---------------

Kristopher Rufty wrote and directed the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood, and is also the author of Angel Board, PillowFace and The Lurkers. He also hosts Diabolical Radio, an internet radio show devoted to horror fiction and film. The show has been online for nearly five years now and has developed quite an archive list and following. He is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of two insane children that he loves dearly, and together they reside in North Carolina with their 120 pound dog Thor and a horde of cats. He is currently working on his next novel, script, or movie.

Guest blog post: Monsters and Me by Brian Pinkerton (author of Rough Cut, Bad Moon Books)

April 9, 2012

Tags: Brian Pinkerton, Rough Cut, Bad Moon Books, horror

W.D. Gagliani: Yeah, most of us who admit to writing horror grew up just a little twisted, a bit warped. And we wouldn't trade it for the world. Maybe, maybe for... a million dollars.


Monsters and Me
By Brian Pinkerton

Blame it on the babysitter. Or perhaps the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. You see, it all started like this. When I was little, my parents routinely escaped the terrors of three rowdy young boys by going downtown on Saturday nights to enjoy the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Our teenage babysitter did what most teenage babysitters would do, she turned on the television to distract us from tearing up the house.

And that is how we discovered WGN-TV’s Creature Features, a weekly offering of monster movies unlike anything we had ever seen before. I recall the first movie to dent my brain was War of the Gargantuas, a Japanese epic about two enormous ogres (one green, one brown) battling it out in Tokyo, shoving one another into crumbling skyscrapers as the military counterattacked with tanks, bombs and lasers. The mayhem was positively thrilling and left a lasting mark. (Imagine my surprise during this year’s Oscars telecast when Brad Pitt declared the same movie to be a cherished memory from his childhood.)

In the following weeks and months, Creature Features introduced me to many of the Universal classics of the 1930s and 1940s, and I relished in their moody, black and white worlds. My hunger for monster movies extended to the cheapie 1950s and 1960s horrors regularly screened on Saturday afternoons on fuzzy UHF channels – dumb but compelling films like Attack of the Puppet People and Death Curse of Tartu.

When an elementary school classmate excitedly told me about a terrifying TV movie featuring a haunted house, it became my mission to track it down. He described the chilling scene of a woman hearing a baby crying in the middle of the night and tracing it to a jar of glowing red goo in an old shed.

I combed the TV Guide for the movie’s reappearance and when it showed up for a late night rerun, I pestered my parents into letting me stay up to watch it in exchange for a nap earlier in the day. The movie was indeed super eerie and many years later I discovered the director was none other than Steven Spielberg. The title is Something Evil, one of Spielberg’s earliest, most obscure films and to this day it remains unreleased on DVD, adding to its vague, dream-like existence.

I remember my other personal entries into the world of horror: the fantastic wolf man painting on the cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland # 99, gleefully out of place among the ladies magazines stocked at the local grocery store…Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing comic book…Jack Kirby’s The Demon…television’s Kolchak The Night Stalker…short stories by Richard Matheson.

Whenever my interest in horror waned, there would be something unexpected to rev it back up. I remember seeing the original Halloween in a theater packed with shrill teenagers screaming in unison like a massive chorus – it remains one of the most electrifying movie experiences of my life.

I found bad movies endearing, too, and grew particularly fond of Ed Wood films before he became a household name. There are still people who won’t forgive me for making them watch Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Some passions of my childhood dissipated over time but somehow the monsters endured. There is something about the thrill of a safe scare that invigorates us in our stale, ordinary adult lives. We all like fake frights with a soft landing because there are too many real terrors in everyday life – just watch the evening news.

The classic horror films continue to reach new audiences through their original incarnations, sequels and remakes. (A new version of I Spit on Your Grave? Seriously?) Zombies are back in style (TV’s Walking Dead), vampires are hot (the Twilight books and movies) and werewolves haven’t lost their bite (Bill Gagliani’s wonderful Nick Lupo series).

My passions inevitably become my creative outlets. As a writer, my earliest novels were suspense thrillers (I also love Hitchcock) but more recently I have been creating horror stories with satisfying results.

My newest book, Rough Cut, is a big, affectionate tribute to the world of horror movies. It features a deadly rivalry between two horror directors – a legendary ‘80s slasher filmmaker and a contemporary “torture porn” hotshot. There are references to everything from Bela Lugosi to Blair Witch.

Rough Cut has got horror, humor and heart…it’s my letter to the genre that has kept me wonderfully entertained for so many years.

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Brian Pinkerton is the author of Rough Cut (Bad Moon Books), as well as Abducted, Vengeance, and Killing the Boss. He can be found at http://www.brianpinkerton.com. Please see a purchase link for Rough Cut at left. Link for the Rough Cut paperback: http://www.badmoonbooks.com/product.php?productid=2317.

Guest blog post: An interview with Brian Moreland, author of DEAD OF WINTER (Samhain)

January 14, 2012

Tags: Brian Moreland, Dead of Winter, horror, Samhain Publishing

Brian Moreland, author of Shadows in the Mist and the new novel Dead of Winter (just published by Samhain), discusses his influences and research and what makes him tick as an explorer of dark deeds and darkness in general. Prompts by fellow Samhain author W.D. Gagliani...


1. So, Brian, what experience warped you and turned you into a horror writer?

I would say watching movies like Jaws and Alien and The Howling when I was a kid. I never had so much fun being scared. I got similar experiences from reading horror novels. For me, horror creates an adrenaline rush that makes the experience thrilling. When I decided to try my hand at writing a horror story, I discovered that being creative and exploring my own imagination can be just as thrilling as watching a great movie or reading another author’s novel. It’s also very fulfilling to share my fiction with readers.

2. What was the book or movie that made you say: "I have to do this kind of thing myself!" (Or maybe you said: "Boy, I could do a better job than this!")

I’ve said both those above quotes many times. The Alien, Aliens movies definitely inspired me, as well as Dean Koontz’s Watchers, Robert McCammon’s Stinger and Swan Song, and a number of books and short stories by Stephen King. I wanted to write at their level. I’ve studied their books, their writing style, how they orchestrated terrifying scenes, and did my best to learn from the masters.

3. I read about how you intended your novel Dead of Winter (Samhain Publishing, part of their new horror line, which debuted in October 2011) to have parallel past and present stories, but then chose to stay in the past. How did you research it? How did you handle the time-relevant details?

That’s correct. Dead of Winter was originally about a modern-day detective, Tom Hatcher, and a serial killer that had links to strange killings that happened back in 1870. The historical flashbacks were based on real events that I discovered in my research. Whenever I get a kernel of an idea that intrigues me, I read a lot of non-fiction books and surf the net. Google has been great for doing research. I always double-check facts I read about on the internet, because you can never be too sure. I might read something interesting on Wikipedia and then search for books on the subject to cross-check the historical facts. I also interview experts and historians. The more I came across weird supernatural stories involving the Jesuits and the Ojibwa tribes of Ontario, Canada, and cannibalism and mysterious evil spirits, the more I felt the 19th Century scenes were much more fascinating than the modern-day scenes. So I decided to place Inspector Tom Hatcher and the serial killer known as the Cannery Cannibal in 1870 with the rest of the characters. It was a fun challenge writing a completely historical novel and I’m glad I did it.

4. You wrote a novel set in World War 2 (Shadows in the Mist). Why is this war so fascinating? Why are Nazis so desirable as bad guys -- is it because they dabbled in the occult? (Indiana Jones said: "Nazis! I hate those guys..." What was your inspiration for this book (which I haven't had a chance to read yet, but I look forward to reading.)

I’m like Indiana Jones, I hate those guys too. I believe that any fanatical group makes for a good villain. And the Nazis--based on how cold and ruthless they were and how many millions of people they killed--are universally thought of as evil. The fact that a few of them really practiced the occult makes them interesting for a horror novel. Shadows in the Mist explores the question, “What if at the height of WWII, the desperate Nazis created a supernatural weapon to stop the Allied forces from invading Germany, but instead, unleashed something evil into the foggy woods?” Following a rogue U.S. platoon behind German lines, I blend action, adventure, horror and suspense with real historical facts about WWII and the Nazis and the occult. (Shadows in the Mist re-releases from Samhain Horror in September of 2012.)

5. How do you create your characters? Are they born whole in your mind, or do you develop them layer by layer?

Definitely layer by layer. At the beginning of a novel I’ll usually decide what occupation the main character will have first and build from there. In Shadows in the Mist, I wanted to tell my story from the point of view of a U.S. soldier, Lt. Jack Chambers, fighting in the trenches. He’s also got a squad to look after, so I made him a platoon leader who cares too much about keeping his men alive.

Dead of Winter was a detective mystery from the beginning. Originally my main character was a small-town sheriff in present-day Michigan. When I decided to move the setting to Ontario, Canada, my character changed to a British inspector to fit the history. The priest was a Jesuit exorcist from the get-go, but he went through several name changes before I was satisfied with Father Xavier Goddard. My characters always evolve over time. Each draft I write, I add more character flaws, back story, and often make them stronger than they first start out. For instance, I might think a lead heroine is acting too much like a damsel in distress—so I’ll change her actions so that she can handle her own. As I throw my characters into scenes of conflict, I learn who the are and how they handle themselves, how they talk, how they behave battling for their lives or risking their lives to save others. It’s like painting a painting. It’s never a masterpiece after the first attempt. I just keep adding brush strokes, layer by layer, until I feel a character is the best that I can make them.

6. What is the one element in your fiction that you think most reflects your voice/philosophy?

I would have to say Good prevails over Evil. I believe that when a man or woman digs deep into their soul to face their greatest demons, they can tap into a reservoir of courage and strength and conquer anything. We all have that capability and I like to write stories where the heroes and heroines come out stronger in the end.

7. If you were forced to pick only 10 books you could keep (the desert isle scenario), what would they be?

Horror

The Island by Richard Laymon
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Phantoms by Dean Koontz
The Stand by Stephen King
Books of Blood by Clive Barker

Non-Horror

Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
Iron John by Robert Bly
Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
Harry Potter Series by R.K. Rowling
Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien

8. Which three authors have influenced you the most and why?

Horror authors Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Richard Laymon. They write stories that are pure fun and adventure. They create loveable characters and monsters, and their writing style keeps you on the edge of your seat. They know how to write thrilling action and ratchet up the tension. I’ve done my best to write books that ignite all the senses and are a joy to read.

9. Describe your next novel project!

I’m over 300 pages into writing my third novel The Devil’s Woods about a secret forest on a Cree reservation up in British Columbia, Canada where a lot of strange things are happening and people are vanishing. This one has both ghosts and some really cool creatures. I don’t know why I keep setting my books in Canada. I guess because there are some places up there that are still isolated. Plus, I love the wilderness, and British Columbia is absolutely beautiful.

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Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels are Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist. He loves hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and dancing. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://brianmoreland.com/ or on Twitter @BrianMoreland.
Brian’s blog for news about his books: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com


Guest Blog Post by Hunter Shea, author of Forest of Shadows (Samhain)

October 9, 2011

Tags: Hunter Shea, Forest of Shadows, horror, ghosts, Alaska, Samhain Publishing

Growing up an absolute horror junkie, starting at around age 5, when it was time to write my first full length novel, I had one major question to answer. What, out of all the monsters, spirits and demons that populate my subconscious, will I pluck out and spend the next year or so living within an almost invisible, conjoined twin state? I spent a lot of time living with that question, letting it roll around the old brain pan, sifting its contents like a mad gold digger until I found that one true nugget that could give birth to a writing boom.

And then it hit me. It has to be about ghosts! Why ghosts? Because, unlike discovering gold in them thar hills, most people either have a personal ghost story, or are close to someone who has lifted the veil between this world and the next. I recently tested that theory in my writer’s group when I brought the subject up. Sure enough, five out of six people had had their own encounter with a phantom, wraith, ghost, whatever you want to name it.

Ghosts scare people because of what we, as a society, perceive to be their very real nature. Even if someone says they don’t believe in spirits, put them in a strange house at night and see how they react to odd noises or distant moans. Sure, it could be the house settling, but there’s a very primal part of our brains that reacts to the potential of the supernatural in ways we can’t control. Everyone loves a good ghost story, even the ones who say they get scared by them. It only seemed natural that I try to spin my own ghost story, and for close to four years I did just that, writing my book, Forest of Shadows, combining the classics of a good haunt with new, hopefully terrifying twists and turns.

Another reason for choosing ghosts was a series of unexplained encounters my wife and I had with a phantom boy in my house for over a year. He would be there, clear as day one moment, and gone the instant you went to seek him out. The oddest part of all was the feeling of comfort that always washed over us when he was around. Who was that boy and why did he only stick around for that one year? We’ll never know. But I did know that I wanted to get aspects of those events onto paper.

So I wrote. And the ghosts of my past and that shades of society’s darkest nightmares became my constant companions. When I knew I was going to write a scene involving apparitions or shadow people, I would darken the room, so it was only me and the feeble light from my computer screen. I wanted to feel the tingle of the phantom presence at my back, catch shadows within the inky darkness moving about from the corner of my eye. I wanted to be scared.

Enjoy this excerpt from Forest of Shadows. If you feel you have to sleep with the light on tonight, I’ve done my job.

--
“I’m here,” he called out with far less authority than he had wished. His voice cracked and he swallowed off the last syllable as he gulped for air.

With the normal night sounds silenced, his ragged breathing sounded like the whoosh of an incoming breaker.

He caught movement behind the window leading to the great room. A flash of something pale and alive. He blinked hard.

The face of a boy was pressed against the glass. But there was no body beneath it.

Judas stifled a scream and felt a strong urge to empty his suddenly swollen bladder right there and then. He watched the face, with its benign expression, indifferent to the terror stricken man in the front yard, as it pushed forward through the glass without breaking it. As the head hovered on the porch, a prepubescent body dressed in a dirty t-shirt and shorts slowly materialized. His neck came into focus last, forming the bridge between head and torso.

No way! No freakin’ way! Judas turned on his heels and started to run.

Shadows were seeping out of the trees like spilled molasses, coiling through the grass and sweeping up their trunks. The deathly quiet was broken by the hum of incoherent murmurings. Dozens of whispered voices swirled around him as the shadows continued their steady march towards the driveway and his only means of escape.

He swung back around and the boy was only a few feet from him, his body more corporeal. In fact, if Judas hadn’t seen him materialize from a wafting head he would have sworn he was face to face with your average ten year old boy out for a late night sneak.

This time Judas gasped aloud.

The boy narrowed his cold gray eyes, raised a rigid arm and pointed at the advancing shades.

Even though he wanted to run mad and screaming from this place, something compelled him to stay. Slowly and with great fear, he turned his head.
---

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/forest-shadows-p-6508.html?osCsid=0e2aeca5196563a84a95963ca0977bb8



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Killercon 3 is history, and it rocked...

October 9, 2011

Tags: Killercon, conventions, writers, horror, thrillers

For a few days in late September, over a hundred writers gathered in that city of sin, Las Vegas, to examine why they write what they write: chronicles of sins disguised as tales of horror and thrillers and paranormal romance and everything in-between.

As a veteran of the first two Killercons, I felt obligated and destined to attend the third installment, and as always it was a great decision. First and foremost, conventions are all about friendship and collegiality. Writing is a lonely business, a kind of thankless business (unless you hit it big), and there's nothing better than recharging your batteries by hanging out with your friends, most of whom you haven't seen in a while, and making new friends out of the like-minded people who are drawn to the events to promote, sell, buy, or collect books -- and authors.

Really, I could list just about the entire roster of attendees as friends, so instead I'll just mention a few. Anyone I've neglected here, please forgive my failing memory. You all made an impact on me, but it's possible we didn't have a chance to hang together much. That's what Killercon 4 is all about then! Yes, I will be there. And so will you, if you know what's good for you.

This year's event got off to a great start as I had dinner with other early birds Gene O'Neill, Gord Rollo, Chris Welch, Bob Meracle (and a cameo by Erik Williams). Soon we were joined by Weston Ochse and Shane McKenzie. Next day was reunion day as good buddies and new buddies rolled in: Brian Pinkerton, Lisa Morton, Mercedes Yardley (and her friends Ryan and Mason), John Palisano, P.S. Gifford, Hal Bodner, Michael Calvillo, Rhonda Wilson and Craig, Steven Booth, Norm Rubinstein, Monica O'Rourke, John Skipp, John Little, Gabrielle Faust, Robert Devereaux, William F. Nolan, Laura Hickman, Gardner Goldsmith, Lauren (whose name I can't remember!), Ben Etheridge, and of course organizers Wrath James White, Bailey Hunter and R.J. Cavender. The guests were notable and it was great both seeing them and being on panels with some of them: Ray Garton, Jonathan Maberry, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Monica Kuebler, Jeff Mariotte... and more! There were more people, but my memory fails. My god, if I missed anyone I apologize! It was great talking to you all, buying some books, talking shop, sitting on the hot and controversial Erotic Fiction panel with Wrath, Ray, and Hal, getting my picture taken with the legendary Bill Nolan (of Logan's Run, Night Stalker, and Norliss Tapes fame) while chatting about his days writing for Dan Curtis (another legend), and meeting Paul Gifford's "creepy" friend, Bob. I don't think I had a bad conversation all weekend. I managed to get out some, too -- to The Gun Store (more in a separate post), to Fremont Street, to the Strip, to Bite (the Stratosphere's rock-themed vampire musical), and out and about. I want to thank my main posse: Chris, Brian, P.S., Gene, and Gord for some of the best times, but hey, there was nothing but good. I will see you all again next year. Killercon gets in your blood and doesn't seep out, believe me.

Excerpt from WOLF'S EDGE (Nick Lupo #4) - Samhain Publishing

October 3, 2011

Tags: Wolf's Edge, Nick Lupo, WD Gagliani, Samhain Publishing, North Woods Noirs, horror, thriller, World War 2, Italy, mercenaries

EXCERPT FROM
Wolf’s Edge
By W.D. Gagliani


“He who fights with monsters should beware lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Prologue

(Somewhere between Minocqua and Eagle River, WI)

The keys clicked lightly under his fingers, and he watched the short paragraph take shape on the laptop’s screen before him. The light it emitted was enough to cast a blue-white glow across the room and over his shape. He hunched over slightly, refocusing his eyes and positioning the bifocals to give him a clear look at the text he was leaving behind. He moused over a phrase, adjusted it, cut another word here and added several words there.

He was very quiet. His family slept, and he didn’t want to complicate things by awakening them. Karina snored softly in the adjacent room, her form stretched under the sheet in the sideways position she preferred. Down the hall, the nearest room was where Katerina slumbered the innocent sleep of the six-year-old, a favorite bear watching over her from one side of the pillow and an animal—a jolly looking dog from the latest Pixar movie—was crushed in her sleepy embrace. The boys slept in the far room, across the hall from the main upstairs bath.

He smiled sadly as he thought of his family, asleep and unencumbered by what ate at him like acid. His smile turned into a frown and then a grimace as he tasted the acid column that rose in his throat. Real or not, he felt the vomit push its way into the back of his throat, and he fought to swallow it down.

Hands shaking, he typed a few more words, reread the six lines or so he had written into the blank file, then he moused over to the Print command and heard the sheet work its way through the elderly Epson below his desk. Then he highlighted and copied the text, clicked into the open browser, scrolled to where the text box sat waiting, empty, its cursor blinking like a clown’s evil wink. He pasted the text and Submitted it, then closed the page and clicked into the Preview function. There it was, his text posted on his website’s main page where the counter would soon begin to click upward as his regulars checked his blog and news.

He closed the browser but left the computer on. It really didn’t matter.

Behind him, where the bottom of the built-in bookcase met the lower cabinets, their shelves hidden behind cherry-wood doors, he flicked the disguised switch and waited for the upper bookcase to disengage from its lock. It hissed open a few inches, and he reached between its edge and the frame and opened wide the secret compartment. Behind the movable bookcase were several shelves of items and a built-in safe. He ignored everything but one item. He took it from its resting place inside the red velvet-lined case, then pushed the compartment door shut again.

He took the object and held it up where moonlight entering the wide picture window could illuminate it. The huge, silver disk above shed light over the lake and its surroundings, leaking into the living room and over his hands. The heavy object shone in the light. It was a dagger perhaps nine inches in length, sheathed in lightweight wood criss-crossed with carved symbols. The dagger’s grip was set with several irregular shaped jewels in a line above the straight cross-guard. The moonlight blackened the jewels so they looked like pools of darkness in the hilt.

His eyes suddenly filled, and he tilted his head as if tears could be coaxed to clear his pupils on their own. His motion achieved nothing, and the tears swelled up until they were heavy enough to seek their own ways across his cheeks. He repressed a sob.

He had decades to sob over.

He tucked the sheathed dagger into his belt, leaving his hands free.

Almost without realizing how he had gotten there, he stood in front of a door down the hall. Now holding the dagger in one hand, he used the other to edge the door open just enough to slip inside, where his daughter slept among stuffed animals and at least one doll. Her golden hair was made into a silver halo by the moonlight filtered through the blinds. She was tucked in all the way to her chin, her tiny hands wrapped around the plush dog.

He let his tears fall onto her pillow for a moment, looking at her one last time. Then he swiftly slid the blade from its scabbard, placed one hand over the top of her face and pressed down hard, effectively preventing her scream and keeping her from seeing what he was about to do.

Forgive me, he prayed as he quickly drew the blade once across her throat. He wasn’t sure who would grant the forgiveness, however.

Dodging the hot spray, he held her head down on the pillow until it and the bed were sodden, and her tiny struggles were finished.

Not long. It didn’t take long at all.

Sobbing quietly, snot bubbling from his nostrils, he left his daughter’s room and entered the next, where the boys slept.

Thankfully they had given up the bunk beds, preferring two individual singles set perpendicular to each other. He approached the closest, his younger son, and said his quiet good-bye.

Then he repeated the procedure with the heavy hand, pressure downward holding his son’s neck in position and keeping him quiet and blind. The blade sang through the young skin with nary a hitch, but this time the blood gush half-caught him as he swayed to evade it. His older son grumbled in his sleep, muttered, and snored after shifting sideways on his pillow. In a moment the large hand, the father’s hand, was holding the small head down, and the other hand was doing the deed almost as if they were independent of each other and of his control. He barely moved this time, letting more of his son’s blood bathe him as he suppressed the struggling boy beneath. This son had been his favorite.

He waited again for the bleed-out, snot now coating his chin. He was unmindful of the snot and tears and saliva that ran freely from his open mouth.

Then he headed for the master bedroom, where his wife waited.

Her eyes were open and questioning when he approached, apparently having heard either his walking or the children’s struggling. She probably hadn’t processed what she’d heard, because her instinctive alarm had not forced the issue and fully awakened her fear.

“What—” she began, but his hand covered her lips and eyes, and his one motion took the blooded silver blade through her neck. Even as the curtain of blood jetted out from her, he could feel the scream under his hand, the accusation, the terror.

“Why?”

It didn’t matter whether she asked the question, it was what he heard. His body covered hers, lovingly, feeling her struggles diminish until finally it went still beneath his.

He was drenched with his family’s blood now, a symbolic sacrifice of everything he had ever loved.

Carefully, he replaced the blooded dagger in its hiding place. The box contained two dagger-shaped cradles, and his filled one of them. The other cradle was dusty—it hadn’t held its dagger in decades.

Then he took a pistol from its hooks above where the case holding the blade lay among other items. He closed the secret compartment’s door.

He dragged himself through the hallway and to the living room, with its view of the woods and the lake. He surveyed the moonlit scene one last time.

He felt nothing, really. Did he?

His family’s fresh blood soaked his clothes and clogged his nostrils with its sweet, metallic stench.

No time for regrets. It was too late. Better decisions would have led to better outcomes.

The pistol in his hand was an antique, but he had kept it oiled and in good condition. And the magazine was filled with his best home loads. He pulled the toggle and cocked the German war-issue 1908 Parabellum model, which most people knew as the Luger. He felt the weight of the pistol, its superb balance, and he allowed himself one small, sad smile.

He stood with his back to the wide, white wall. Twisted the gun around in his grip. Rested the oily barrel on his forehead.

When he squeezed the trigger, the last thing he saw was the frozen face of his wife, asking Why? Her staring, accusing eyes registered for a fraction of a second, and then it was over.

His body spasmed once against the wall now ruined by the shower of blood and bits of skull, spasmed then slumped to the hardwood floor. A lake grew quickly below him like a crimson outline.

One hour later, the sound of breaking glass washed over the frozen tableau inside the house. Heavy boot falls marked the intruder’s trek through the rooms, one by one, ending at the wall where a man’s body lay slumped, his head collapsed like a deflated child’s balloon.

The blood was black in the reflected moonlight.

The intruder shook his head, then set about the search, which had just become more complicated.

Another hour passed, and the intruder found what he knew was there to be found. Not much effort had been made to keep the secret storage area truly hidden. With a laser measuring device, the intruder quickly located the several discrepancies that signaled secret compartments behind false walls.

Still almost two hours before dawn, the intruder found the main gas valve in the rear of the basement, the portion behind a door located in the cedar-paneled bar area dominated by a regulation pool table and various rich man’s toys. Behind the door, the house’s systems were ensconced in a room with walls of reinforced poured concrete. The intruder flicked on the lights, located the gas line and took a few moments to follow it with his eyes, then he took a wrench from his waist pack and loosened a couple connectors. He waited for a minute until he could smell the gas quickly escaping the pipe, then retreated through the open door.

Back upstairs, he set an innocuous-looking cell phone housing on a hallway table near the back door and basement entrance. Inside was a tiny, remote-operated device that would ignite upon receipt of a certain signal text. When it did, it would at the same time provide the needed spark and destroy itself. It would be indistinguishable from the kind of slag left by any sort of cell phone upon melting.

Confusion was the intended result. The crime scene would be a mess. Suicide? Murder? Murder-suicide? Unlawful entry, or fakery? The man whose body lay slumped against the wall would be blamed, and they’d stop looking for the rest of the story. Small-town cops would never go beyond the obvious in this one. There was plenty of the obvious on which to concentrate.

The intruder left the premises undetected. Two hours later—and a fair number of miles away—the time he knew was needed to fill the enclosed space with gas, he sent the text message.

Imagining the fireball, he smiled slightly.

In his trunk lay the wooden case he had removed from the scene.

Endgame: First Day

Chapter One

Lupo

The bitter breeze blowing off the lake cut through his leather jacket and, instinctively, he dug his large hands into the pockets. He made fists, but he wasn’t aware he had.

The usual clanking of small boat rigging was down to a dozen or so stragglers still in the water of the North Point Marina. Lupo stood with his back to the old roundhouse, which was boarded up for the season. Wistfully, he recalled warm days on the lake, playing dominoes and drinking overpriced canned beer from the roundhouse deli, getting greasy with chips and sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. Across the weathered picnic table in his memory was Caroline Stewart, laughing as they struggled to play the old man’s game they had somehow both enjoyed picking up.

Lupo’s fists started to hurt from the pressure, and then they started to itch.

It was strange, after all these years, having such clear memories of Caroline. She’d been his professor, confessor and confidante, and then lover.

And then he had killed her.

“Jesus, Nick, could you just let it go?” The voice from behind him startled him, but he pretended otherwise.

“You’ve beaten yourself up for too many years. You have good reason to move on now, and accept the past and what you are and what you will always be.”

Lupo wanted to stifle the raspy voice, but he already knew the old man would have his say.

He had killed Caroline Stewart, and that act of violence, while not completely his fault, had damned him forever, as far as he could tell. It had confirmed his suspicions—he really was a monster.

“Get over yourself,” said the old-man voice.

He resisted for a few moments, then whirled around.

There was no one there. Ghost Sam liked these surgical strikes, making his point in as bloody a manner as possible, then disappearing…wherever he disappeared to. Most likely Lupo’s head, which was definitely not a healthy place to be.

He was a monster, Ghost Sam’s platitudes notwithstanding.

How could a werewolf not be a monster?

“You’ve faced real monsters. I know monsters. You’re not much of a monster.”

“Christ, Sam, you still have a sick sense of humor even after death, you know that?”

“Laugh away, cop boy. But will you ever listen to me? No, you won’t. Apparently you inherited that stubbornness you always accuse your dad of having.”

Actually Lupo listened to Ghost Sam fairly often, both when he saw him and when he didn’t. But there had to be an end to it, a line he could draw.

His mind wandered back to Caroline, and what the Creature had done to her. The guilt was still tangible. She had backed his decision to become a cop, and he’d been on his way to being a good one when the most traumatic incident of his life took place. The Creature had done it, he knew it intellectually, but he couldn’t stop thinking that the Creature was still part of him, or that he could have controlled its rage. Miraculously, he had managed to evade suspicion, though he’d lived in fear for years, and then he’d climbed the ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department, all the way to Homicide Detective.

Until his past—and his secret—had come back to torment him and endanger the woman he now loved. He had managed to protect her so far, when she wasn’t protecting him, but he had a lousy record when it came to women who became attached to him.

He stifled what he had to admit was a sob.

Jessie.

Things weren’t so smooth now, and it was all his fault.

Again.

He’d tried to get her some help, but she was either at her meeting right now or at the casino. He couldn’t quite grasp why a woman as successful, intelligent, beautiful, and perfect in every way had succumbed to a strangely warped version of the same gambling addiction he saw manifested in old folks who flushed their life savings away while standing blank-eyed at slot machines.

What the hell was he supposed to do, lock her up? Keep her out of the casino?

He snorted in spurious laughter. He remembered when he was the one who needed to be locked up, when he feared the full moon would take him and force him to commit murder after grisly murder. In fact, the moon had indeed caused him to do some bad things, but he’d learned to beat the moon’s influence.

Usually.

He had a lot on his mind today. It wasn’t just Caroline’s memory, or Jessie’s gambling. It was the look in Tom Arnow’s eyes as he’d died, after Lupo had flicked that damned dagger squarely into his chest. And it was what he’d done even later.

That damned cursed dagger.

He turned away from the gray water, his fists itching like a delicate torture. He wished he could flay the skin off his hands.

His iPhone buzzed in his pocket. Damn it, somebody always interrupting his life. He dug it out with an itchy hand.

“Yeah?” he barked.

He listened for a minute, verified the address, and clicked off. Third Ward, crime scene. He was practically there already. Just a hop down Lake Drive and then a few blocks south of downtown. DiSanto was meeting him there.

He turned and half expected to see Sam Waters standing nearby, his gray hair gathered in its usual ponytail and his small but somehow still imposing frame tucked into a too-large leather parka. But he was alone.

He crossed the deserted parking lot between the boarded-up roundhouse and the yacht club and climbed into the slightly battered Maxima he clung to stubbornly. Rich DiSanto, his partner of two years, hounded him ceaselessly about the car. As a homicide detective, Lupo had the choice to drive his own vehicle while on duty, and he preferred comfort to style.

“At least get a Mustang or a Camaro, one of those new ones,” DiSanto had a habit of nagging almost weekly.

“If I did,” Lupo usually reminded him, “you wouldn’t be very comfortable.” It was true—the Maxima had the horsepower he wanted, thanks to some custom work, and the leather seats were comfortably worn. DiSanto’s long legs needed the ample space below the seat.

No way would he confess to the childish DiSanto that he’d been, in fact, tempted by the recent Mustangs.

Lupo sat for a minute. A strange tingle centered on the back of his neck made him turn and scan the rest of the lot. A couple cars in slots near the yacht club and a minivan toward the beach side were his only company. They were deserted, probably people who worked maintenance at the club. He shrugged.

Paranoia strikes deep.

He’d given Wolfpaw Security Services—or whatever they were calling themselves these days—enough to chew on for a long while, and right now the congressional hearings were gearing up in D.C. He had to be the last thing on their minds at the moment.

He shrugged, then started up and zipped onto Lake Drive, heading south along the coastline. The trees that dotted the parkland around the pond beside the curvy road were already half bare. He chafed at the thought of another case, on top of the half dozen he and DiSanto still had pending. It was just that kind of fall season, he mused, with people losing their cool after having lost their money or their house, or their family. Tended to make people a little crazy, as did the weather, which had been gray and drizzly or downright cold for three weeks already.

Lupo knew, because the Creature within also wanted out. The depression that had set in to harass his human side had begun to affect the Creature, too. Bleed-through had started to increase a year ago, and Lupo wondered if it was an age thing.

The shitty fact of it was that he didn’t know, and he couldn’t ask, because all the other shapeshifters he had met so far he’d had to kill. There was no asking for fatherly advice in his world. He hadn’t even realized there were others like him until they showed up and started killing people he cared about and trying their damndest to kill him, too.

He checked again the address they’d texted him as he passed under the U.S. Bank building, Wisconsin’s tallest skyscraper at a conservative 601 feet, and headed for Water Street, which would take him into the heart of the Third Ward a few blocks south.

He had ambivalent memories of the Third Ward, since his friend Corinne had been involved with a porn outfit that had set up shop in a loft in one of the renovated warehouses there. She’d been murdered by Martin Stewart and a long nightmare had begun to unfold, the only positive aspect of which was his new and sudden relationship with Jessie Hawkins, whom he’d known for years but hadn’t realized he had fallen in love with until they were both targeted by the serial killer.

First she’d been his landlord Up North, where he went a few days a month to distance himself from people he might hurt when the moon turned full. They had certainly been friends for years, since she’d first taken over her family’s properties near Eagle River. In that time she had begun her practice inside the reservation, tied to it and its people because they were her own people, too. Jessie Hawkins came from a mixed marriage, her father having been a prominent physician and surgeon and part-time coroner, and she’d followed his footsteps in all the best ways. But neither Jessie nor Lupo had realized their attraction until the killer Martin Stewart began targeting everyone Lupo knew, including Jessie.

Now Lupo was hip to the fact that she was beautiful, a sort of earthier version of a famous model, as he had been told. Her flaming, highlighted chestnut hair either left to bounce off her shoulders in a controlled blaze or harnessed in a ponytail still made him want to comb it with his fingers. Her dark eyes were limpid, light-reflecting pools set above a long, straight but slightly upturned nose and a generous, smile-ready but sensuous mouth.

She had moved in with him recently, after he had brought them more trouble by kicking the sleeping wolf that was Wolfpaw Security Services.

Just thinking of them and what they had done—and almost managed to do—to everyone he cared about brought a rage so severe he worried about his own self-control. He shook his head.

“You’re right to worry,” Ghost Sam said, speaking from the passenger seat. He was translucent.

Lupo was used to the sudden appearances. “Damn right. But I almost took care of it, didn’t I?”

“If running away is taking care of it, then yes, you almost did.” Ghost Sam had a way of speaking sarcastically that made Don Rickles look like a comedian for children.

Damn it, Sam, I miss you.

“I know. I miss those Bloody Marys we used to have Up North,” the apparition said wistfully. “I miss the better Bond movies…Daniel Craig’s good, but they’ve sacrificed character for non-stop action.”

“It’s a reboot,” Lupo pointed out.

No answer.

The passenger seat was empty again.

Shit, talking to myself again.

Except he always felt slightly better afterwards.

He was almost there.

* * *

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Selected Works

fiction - horror/crime thriller
A Nick Lupo novella, set between the novels Wolf's Gambit and Wolf's Bluff. Find it on Amazon!
What do you do when two enemies come at you at the same time? Pit them against each other! Lupo keeps trying to get out, but they drag him back in...
Bram Stoker Award nominee that began the Nick Lupo series...
Is now back in ebook and trade paperback editions from Samhain Publishing!
Nick Lupo #4!
The stakes are high when Wolfpaw finally reveals what it wants from Nick Lupo. And why.
Fiction - Horror/crime thriller
"In Wolf's Bluff Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell ... fast, vicious and thoroughly satisfying."
-- Jonathan Maberry
Fiction - Horror/crime Thriller
Wolf's Gambit is the sequel to the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap. It's now published by 47North, an Amazon imprint.
Fiction - noir crime Thriller
Savage Nights is a tough, pulls-no-punches, hard-noir thriller that's not for the faint of heart.

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