Resurrection on Q Island

In 2015, Samhain Publishing released my post-apocalyptic horror novel Q Island. At the time, editor Don D’Auria, a legend in horror publishing, added a note to the acceptance letter reading “This could be big.” While he had been enthusiastic about my five previous novels, this was the first time he’d been predictive.

The cover proof came in and it matched my design request, except better. Even I wanted to buy the thing, and I knew the ending.

Q Island released with a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, being selected as the Editor’s Pick of the month for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and garnering a series of excellent reviews from some trusted, picky review sites. It was advertised at SXSW and other major markets. I thought Don’s crystal ball had been right. This was going to be big.

Then it wasn’t.

For whatever reason, it didn’t hit public consciousness. Maybe it was an issue being from a small press, maybe it was just bad luck. But when I sold the book at horror conventions, I would sell out the first day. People saw the cover, came to check it out, and then frequently cut me off mid-sales pitch to buy it.

When Samhain folded their horror line, I bought the cover art. Rather than farm the book out as backlist to another publisher, I opted to re-release it myself. It couldn’t hurt, plus I could opt into Kindle Unlimited, which my publisher could not. I ran a 99 cent promo and hoped for the best.

Instead I got amazing.

That promotion did what the earlier advertising could not. Q Island has taken off like it should have, the ignition on the engines finally lit. It is finding an audience in sales, as well as on Kindle Unlimited, and the audience is worldwide, moving pages in the UK, Australia, Canada, and India. Wow. Reviews are kicking in on Amazon and Goodreads, and they are excellent.

So to authors, never give up on something you’ve written. Even years later, the audience may find it.

To all the new readers, thank you for giving Q Island a try. All the reviews, social media support, and personal messages are really appreciated.

If you enjoyed your stay on Q Island, there’s more where that came from. Keep an eye out for Return to Q Island later this year. Millions long to leave, but one man stranded in Connecticut must go back to save his mother and pregnant sister. In the year since the first book, Q Island has gotten worse.

Much worse.

You can sample some Q Island here.

Christmas on Q Island

Copy editors are excellent. They have the detail-oriented personality to read through a text, catch every typo, flag every incorrect reference, and erase any continuity errors. Their value cannot be underestimated and no book should EVER be sent out to the world without one.

Copy editors are also on the lookout for the publisher, keeping them from being legally entangled in some mess, especially a copyright issue. Q Island raised that red flag a number of times, all about the same thing.

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The lead character, Melanie Bailey, has an autistic son, Aiden. His autism brings on terrible panic attacks, and Melanie can calm him by singing to him.

When he was still just two years old, before his diagnosis, Melanie and her husband didn’t know what to do to calm this poor, sleepless child who seemed in constant distress. Then a song came on the radio and Aiden just relaxed, relaxed enough to finally go to sleep after an exhausting day. Their prayer was answered. Since then, Melanie used that song to calm Aiden in the most stressful circumstances. The first time he heard it was in December. It was a Christmas carol. So Melanie sometimes sings a Christmas carol year round.

Well, every time she sings the song in the book, the copy editor comments stain the margins like spilled wine, reviewing all the dire consequences possible when this copyright violation comes to light after publication. The good news was that I already had permission to use the song. Because I wrote it. The lyrics for it anyway. They are:

Angels in heaven, look down on the child,

Perfect and lovely, tender and mild.

Shepherds that evening, tending their flocks,

Kneel without pain on nettles and rocks.

The rams and the ewes, surround him in awe.

First to acknowledge our Savior and Lord.

Wise men who travel, came from afar,

Guided by faith and the light of a star.

 

Okay, “awe” and “Lord” is a stretch for a rhyme.

I’m thrilled when someone reads a book I’ve written and says the characters ring true, or the locations are vivid and real. But I was stunned that I might have written something that could pass as real song lyrics.

So if anyone wants to volunteer the melody, I’m willing to bang out a chorus and two more verses. Let’s get it done by December.

 

 

 

A Visit from Hunter Shea

Hunter has been a friend since we both were in the initial crop of Samhain Horror authors to debut in 2011. His latest is Tortures of the Damned and he offered to give us all some insight into this latest terrifying treat. Who am I to refuse?

 

The Real Life Event Behind Tortures of the Damned

by Hunter Shea, Author

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Back in late 2013, I spent a lot of time puzzling over the next book I was contracted to write for Pinnacle. The Montauk Monster was getting final edits before its print run in the summer of 2014. I was dead set on spinning an elaborate Bigfoot tale, one that I was sure had never been told before. Hell, I was ready to go travel and do some of my own squatching just to get a feel for things.
All that changed on a cold night in January.
My family was sitting in our living room, watching TV at around 10:30.
Suddenly, three tremendous explosions rocked the house! My first thoughts were – our furnace exploded, someone set off a bomb, or a plane exploded in the sky. The walls and floor literally shook. My kids were terrified, tears brimming in their eyes. I ran outside to see what had happened.
The frigid night air was as still as the calmest winter night. I waited. Neighbors came out to see what had happened. But there was nothing to see. We didn’t even hear a single siren.
Calls to 911 were answered by operators who were inundated by frightened people all across lower New York. We were told that the blast could be heard for a 50 mile radius. We all went to bed not knowing what the hell had happened. Even the news was silent. How was that even possible? When I say it sounded like a plane exploding, I’m not exaggerating.
The next day, the early news said someone had gotten hold of industrial fireworks and set them off in the Bronx. The lot they showed where they’d been set off looked to have zero damage. We’ve been suspicious ever since. In a few days, it slipped from our collective conscious. No one died, so why dwell on it?

There was one casualty. Bigfoot died that night. The fear my family experienced, the total lack of knowing what had happened was the seed for my latest book, Tortures of the Damned.
That night could have been much worse. Tortures of the Damned explores a world where the unthinkable happens when you least expect it. The damned are not the dead. It’s those left behind who are forced to trek through a hell they never saw coming.

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You can purchase Tortures of the Damned in mass market paperback at more retail stores nationwide, as well as bookstores, both independent and chain.

You can also buy online at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble-

And there’s a giveaway here.

 

 

Copy Edits With Old Friends

Here’s how writing a novel works, at least for me. I spend about a year creating it. A first draft, a second draft, then a third draft after another round of revisions from Beta readers. Then it goes off to my publisher. With luck my editor buys it for publication sometime in the next year.

So a few months before it gets published, I get the copy edit version back. This has notes and correction from my editor, the amazing Don D’Auria, and a copy editor. If I did well with the first three drafts, these are usually minor continuity errors, typos, and a few review lessons on embarrassing grammar points I’d forgotten. This my last chance to get the whole thing right. Whatever goes back to Samhain from here gets sent out to the rest of the world.

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This week I got back Q Island which releases in June. In the story, Long Island, NY becomes a quarantine zone as a plague breaks out. The victims become ultra-strong psychopaths, bent on murder. The island goes to hell. One woman, Melanie, finds out her son is immune, and this is the story of her escape attempt.

I could just check and approve changes and corrections, but instead I decided to re-read the whole thing. What am I finding?

First, the copy editor is apparently a much bigger fan if commas than I am. I swear the whole thing is two pages longer now.

Second, I really like these characters. The heroes, the villains, the ones in between. Honestly, after beating the thing to death for twelve months, I never wanted to see the book again. But it feels good to visit with Melanie once more, feel the strange combination of love and frustration she experiences with her autistic son. I missed old Samuel, the GP doctor who ends up treating Patient Zero+One, and watch the spread of the epidemic through his eyes. But the bad guy, Jimmy Wade, now he’s a trip. A nickel-and-dime crook and perennial loser, he gets infected and instead of going psychotic, he goes telepathic, though a little psychosis still develops. What fun watching him grow into his role as Long Island’s new crime lord.

In a few months, Q Island will hit the stores, and the rest of you will get to meet these friends pulled from my subconscious. I think you’ll like them, or hate them as need be. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy Melanie’s desperate attempt to get herself and her son off Long Island before Jimmy Wade and his thugs or the growing army of the infected can get to them. I mean, I’m enjoying reading it. And I know how it ends.

“Sacrifice” Arrives

Sacrifice, my latest paranormal thriller is now available in both e-book and paperback versions.  Goodreads, Amazon and Fresh Fiction reviews are all outstanding.

Thirty years after graduating high school in Sagebrook,New York, five friends come home for a long overdue reunion.  None have had any contact with each other since graduation and the horrible events that transpired when they took on the child-murdering entity they came to call the Woodsman. 

As soon as they arrive, death stalks the six once more.  They band together again, forced to relive the terrifying trials of their past while they battle resurgent dangers in the present. But thirty years have taken a physical and mental toll of them.  Can they overcome their psychic scars and keep the children of Sagebrook safe? What will each of them have to sacrifice to once again keep the Woodsman at bay?

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and anywhere else that sells paper or ebooks.