The season of spookyness is here and what better time to get into a book because the evenings are short and the lanterns of carved fruit are being lit. Here are some indie books that I think are perfect for spooky season.
‘Evil Eye: A Slasher Story’ by April A. Taylor
Of course this season brings with it the plethora of slasher films like ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ so if you like them, you’ll love ‘Evil Eye’. Set on a remote island during a hurricane, there’s a masked killer stalking those left behind. Perfect for this time of year. Full review here.
‘Fear Farm No Trespassers’ by S.J. Krandall
For those who enjoy shorter reads that all link together, this is the one for you. Each story of ‘Fear Farm’ starts with that slow creepifying burn which then flows into much quicker tempo producing those spooky season thrills and spills. Well worth a read for anyone looking to be thrilled. Full review here.
‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ by Dave Williams7
Although to me ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ is an all-year-round type of dark read it will definitely haunt you in deep and unique type of way. Conscience and repercussion take centre stage in this story that I couldn’t put down and there are plenty of themes within that perfectly align for this time of year – atmosphere and creepy visuals are a plenty in this one. Full Review Here.
‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean
It probably doesn’t get any darker than the apocalypse and Brooklynn Dean delivers it on a lavish plate full of prose, depth and darkness in a story that will keep you glued. This one is perfect for spooky season but again definitely an all-year-round type of read. Full Review Here.
‘Nocturnal Blood’ by Villimey Mist
Without vampires there would be no spooky season and my go-to indie vampire story is the ‘Nocturnal’ series starting with this part one. A unique blend of chase and discovery take a young lady on one hell of journey down the sometimes gory but always satisfying rabbit hole of vampire horror. Full review here.
‘Demonspawn’ by Christina Engela
I’ve always got time for a little space horror especially when it is this good and chilling. A stranded and down on their luck crew of the I.S.S. Mordrake discover a seemingly abandoned vessel floating in the depths of space. What they discover takes the reader on an awesome ride. Full Review Here.
‘The Ghost Beside Me’ by Lee Hall
You’ll have to excuse the blatant self promotion here but there isn’t a ghost story on this list and considering how well this book is doing of recent, I thought I’d give it a little plug. ‘Ghost’ is a unique short read making it low commitment which is part of the appeal. All you need is a free evening and you’ll probably get through the whole thing. Here’s a recent review.
Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for some more reads that are perfect for spooky season!
“…what do you know of the forces that stretch beyond the boundaries of our own mortality?”
Lee Hall, The Ghost Beside Me
October is the perfect month for a ghost story. I learned about The Ghost Beside Me through the Twitter writing community.
With its enchanting cover, The Ghost Beside Me drew me in. Part ghost story and part love story, this beautifully written novella is about the lonely M. Neville and his quest for companionship.
Initially, I was a little thrown by the formal tone of the language, but it worked with the setting and the story. I appreciated the book’s overall message. I just wish it had been a little longer with more character development.
I’ve read other works by Lee Hall and he is a versatile writer. Bonus: Hall includes a sneak peek of The Teleporter in this book. I will be…
Brenda tapped Sara on the shoulder to take over her register. Brenda was starting the second part of her eight hour shift. Deep into the full swing of Black Friday. A day that Brenda never looked forward to working. So many obnoxious, rude customers all demanding to be catered to. She logged into the register and looked out over the sea of people lined up with their overflowing carts. The vast amount of greed made her stomach turn.
Here she was twenty-three working retail in order to support herself. Her modest means, and simple lifestyle, she rented a rundown studio apartment, was vigilant about turning out the lights, keeping the thermostat at a comfortable sixties-five degrees and only took fifteen minute lukewarm showers. She utilized the public library for her entertainment needs, and used the neighbors Wi-Fi for her laptop when she needed to be online, which wasn’t often. She…
And we thought selling our books to people who would actually pay money was hard. If that was the big victory then getting them to leave a review after is a whole different challenge so let’s talk about that struggle.
This post is partly inspired by a message I received over on Twitter from a fellow author struggling to get more reviews for their work. Of course, like all authors who approach me in need I did my best to provide some advice that is both practical and thought based.
I’m going to break down in detail the whole deal of that struggle to get reviews with a little overview, some story telling, some solutions and even tips on how to get more.
I’ll admit now that there are no real quick fixes, like anything in writing, my advice is subjective but let’s all agree first and foremost that finding reviews is really really difficult. Over the years and through much struggle I’ve concluded that the reason why it is so difficult is because the average reader never thinks to leave a review. Back when I used to read Crichton or King novels way before being published, never once did it cross my mind that they needed my review and they probably didn’t on an individual level.
But now, we stand in a shiny new era of publishing and this new-ish social media self published indie generation have only really just emerged in the past few years (a decade at best), that is of course only a slice of the author pie as I would like to acknowledge anyone else published through traditional or smaller presses. Our struggle is the same, but only recently has it become so apparent because a lot more folks are self publishing and the spotlight from social media makes everything way more heightened.
Readers just not thinking to leave reviews is both logical and hopefully reassuring to you and that’s what this post is designed to be, an objective viewpoint to hopefully reassure and help. So, how do we deal with this struggle for reviews. We’ll get to the logical/practical soon but first comes the story which aims to reassure…
I think sometimes its as simple as being committed and dedicated in order to get results over time as a social media author. While there are so many technical inputs and outputs, if you spend time trying to figure it all out, eventually good things are going to happen and even then perspective is everything. Just a few more likes, sales, follows or interactions than yesterday is progress.Take this whole deal seriously and serious results will happen.
We roll everything up into a snowball of expectations when really that work which is being laid down now might not pay off instantly, it could take years. Social media is a constantly moving conveyor belt where something you shared before might not be seen by those who you are visible to now. The work will eventually be worthwhile for those who do keep going and spend that time figuring out how to reach an audience and believe me, I know it’s hard but if you really want this, then you’ll get it, if you work hard.
Through all the algorithms blocking links and keywords to folks just not seeing your posts, there are so many things thrown in front of our attempts to hamper our progress online. The platforms have an agenda also but we just don’t know what it is. Write a book and share the link to your social media following, instant sales – I don’t think so ‘Marketing Experts’ of 2010. More like spend as much time as you can reminding folks you create stuff that is worth reading while exploring every possible way to trick the algorithms that you are not trying to sell something. The experienced veterans of social media don’t even spend much of their time pushing sales, they push themselves in front of an audience using conversation which drives visibility. Supporting others genuinely, that helps too. Be like them and you’ll succeed because I do, every day. Social first, media second will always win the day.
Emma Jordan is back to talk about Romance Indie Author Monty Jay.
I first discovered romance author, Monty Jay, earlier in 2021, when I bumped into the release of her latest novel, Courage for Fools, a rock star and US road trip romance that tugged, but didn’t sever, the heartstrings: who doesn’t need a happy-ever-after in their fiction?
From the first couple of pages I was hooked on Courage for Fools. Rhett and Quinn leapt off the page, and their road trip and romance are just gorgeous. He’s the reckless rock star on his way from the east to the west coast; she’s on a road-trip with a purpose. Emotion + banter = happy reader.
As I confessed to Lee’s readers recently, I’m a little bit of a music fan – I loved the book so much I had to see what else Monty had written.
That’s when I discovered her 4-book hockey romance series and promptly lost a weekend underneath my Kindle. I was immersed in the fictional world of the Chicago Fury hockey players, starting with the two main characters from book one, Love and Romance. Valour Sullivan (Vallie Girl) and Bishop Maverick (B) have known each other since childhood. Both characters live for hockey and are destined to follow in her father’s footsteps, becoming the best hockey players in the NHL. It was great seeing the perspective of both Men and Women’s hockey, and following other Fury players in books two, three and four.
THEN Monty announced that author merch is available from her online shop.
Now, as a fellow indie romance author, I always have an eye on unique marketing opportunities. (I recently encouraged readers to download one of my free books so that I could treat myself to a new coffee machine). What better way than for a writer who has created a fictional rock star and a fictional hockey team to enhance the reader experience than by offering hoodies and shirts in a shop that ships worldwide? I was more than happy to help out and treated myself to a Vallie Girl sweatshirt which is so comfortable, whether I’m writing (or editing) at my PC or on the school run! Supportive AND practical.
As Monty told me, ‘I love being an indie author because I have the freedom and control over my own work. It’s hard to build readership, but when you do you know it’s because you did it your way. I can write the stories that inspire me, and brand and market myself the way I want others to view me!’
Why shouldn’t authors who have created worlds for their readers be a bit rock star and offer readers clothing, bags, stationery, home items, to celebrate their characters? I’ve started to notice other authors offer swag bags or reader-themed goodies, or authors who have an Etsy presence. The marketing opportunities for independent authors are phenomenal.
What will you come up with to share your character’s stories with readers?
Monty Jayhas a new, supernatural, series on the way, out in September 2021.
Sabi followed Vane through the front door of the house, out to the porch. She placed herself in the rocker then watched him. Vane cradled the gun in her lap then crossed her hands over it as though she was trying to hide it. Sabi leaned against the post next to the steps facing her.
“Go ahead. Who is Sabi and why does he need to hide at my house?” She asked while lazily rocking in the chair.
“Okay. I’m not sure where to start.”
“Why don’t you start by telling me why a guy that drifts in and out of British accent. Sometimes sounding European and sometimes sounding American is in Guatemala? And why that guy is lugging around all this computer equipment?”
“If I answer questions for you will you answer questions for me too?”
“We’ll see. Get started,” she said as a light breeze blew her hair moving it gently.
“Okay. I was staying at a resort on the coast.”
“I knew that.”
Sabi shot her a look, telling her not to interrupt him with his eyes before he continued. “I’d only been there a few days. Before that, I was in Bolivia, before that, Sierra Leone and before that, Togo.”
“Togo? You’re making that up.”
“No, it’s a real country. Look it up. It’s in Africa on the west coast, very small. Nice on the coast, but when you get inland a little, there’s not much and it’s a lot warmer. Anyway, you are starting to get the picture. I’m always moving. I’ve been home three times in the last two years. I go from one hotel to the next.”
“Why?” She asked. She had stopped rocking and scooted forward in the rocker.
He held up a finger, “I’m trying to explain. I’ve never told anyone this story. I have one friend that knows parts of what I do and other than that, it’s my boss and Momma.” Sabi stopped talking, moving from the post he was leaning against to the opposite side of the steps. He sat down leaning back against the other post. “I was educated in England then went to university in America. America is where I received my degree in international finance. My dad was a big wig in the Ministry of Finance at home.”
“Oh. Turkmenistan. So I get home, dad gets me a good job at the biggest bank in our country. In less than two years, dad is convicted by the government for a bunch of crap. Basically dad was on the take. The trial is like the first one ever in our country to be televised. Within a week of his conviction, I’m fired.”
“I guess I can understand that, but it doesn’t seem right.”
“I knew it was coming. There was a lot of talk at work during the televised trial. Not much I could do about it. So I’m out of work. The government took everything from my Momma and dad. Momma moves in with me and I’m now the man of the house with no way to support her. Two weeks later, I’m down to next to nothing in money. A guy shows up in front of me on the street, asking if I want a job in international banking. “Sure,” I say. He tells me to be in front of my building the next morning at nine and someone will pick me up. I’m out there a little early, waiting and right on time, this limo pulls up in front of me and this man tells me to get in. I get in, there’s another guy in there. I’m thinking he’s interviewing too when the first guy hands me a hood and tells me to put it over my head.”
“You get into a limo and they want you to put a hood over your head?” She says not really asking a question.
Sabi nodded his head. “Yeah. So, I have to wear this hood the whole time. And it wasn’t really an interview. Basically, the guy tells me that he was friends,” Sabi used his hands to make air quotes as he says friends, “With my dad. He says he will give me a job and he’ll make things easier on my dad. He says Momma will be taken care of. And he will even make sure my two brothers are able to stay in school, one in England, one in America. I have to do what he says.”
“Shit. I thought I got dealt a bad hand. Go ahead.”
“So it turns out, this guy is a big-time opium smuggler. He needs to be able to launder his money now that the government threw all his contacts in jail. I spent about three months, traveling all over the world to conferences. I learned how to catch money launderers. Then I came up with a system to use, to beat their system of catching people like me. One of the things involves me moving all the time. Hence, I’m in your country.”
“Okay, that explains why you’re in Guatemala, but not why you’re at my house.”
“You don’t think I’m a bad person after hearing that, do you? I did what I could to help my mom, dad and brothers. I never planned to be involved in something like this.”
“No, I don’t think you’re bad. You’re not doing good things, but…” Vane shrugged her shoulders.
“I know. Sometimes I’m not happy with myself. I don’t like what I’m doing now, but I don’t know another way out. Momma. My brothers and dad. I didn’t want to steal the money, but I don’t know any other way to get out and save my family.” Sabi hung his head down between his knees.
He started sobbing quietly and turned away from her. Vane moved from the chair and knelt behind, him placing her hand on his back. She rubbed his back in a circular motion, “Sabi, you’re not a bad person.”
“You don’t understand.” He said between sobs, his shoulders heaving up and down. “I haven’t had anyone to talk to in so long. Always being careful what I say. Looking over my shoulder. This is the first time I’ve been able to let my guard down with anyone in-” He trailed off, trying to remember the last time he openly talked to someone.
“You want to take a break for a little bit? I could tell you my hard luck story if you’re interested…
This is an excerpt of ‘Killer Coffee Beans’ by Shaun Young which will be released on August 1st. You can find more information via Shaun’s Twitter.
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
My writing journey began when I was around twelve years old. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when I first started typing stories about robots in the future on a Windows 98 computer. The majority of my teen years were spent sporadically exploring the concept of writing stories while I did some all-important reading.
Influenced heavily by science fiction with a tech theme Michael Crichton was an author who grabbed my attention a little later on but the first real immersive adult book I read was ‘The Lost World’ by Arthur Conan Doyle. The majority of my story telling influences came from television and cinema with shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and films like ‘The Faculty’ and ‘Final Destination’.
I think we need some mood music to set this post off:
Let’s see what I have read so far this year (according to Goodreads)
Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries
by Julie Kusma (aka The Queen Of Horror)
Six well crafted creepy, grotesques, makes your skin crawl short stories. That are enjoyable and slightly thought provoking. Julie Kusma definitely has a way with words, and a natural talent for crafting compelling short stories.
Midwinter Mysteries: A Christmas Crime Anthology
by Keith Moray
An enjoyable introduction to a handful of authors. That I look forward to getting to know further. A must read for any crime fiction fan.
by Dorothy L. Sayers
I’m not sure what it is about Dorothy L. Sayers’ style of writing I find it tedious to read. There is a strange pacing to it that I can’t seem to get into. The characters are…