Mark Allan Gunnells: For The Love of Collections

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I’ve always been a lover of short story collections. Even more so than novels perhaps. I find something infinitely satisfying about the short form, and I think a single author collection is a great way to introduce yourself to a writer, the range of which he or she is capable. Multiple author anthologies can provide of smorgasbord of different talent, introducing me to writers I may have missed otherwise.

The first short story collection that really grabbed my attention was The Twilight Zone. I know what you’re thinking – that wasn’t a collection but a television show. Well, yes, but it was an anthologytelevision show. Instead of providing one continuous story with recurring characters, instead it offered the TV equivalent of short stories. Each episode was a self-contained tale with a beginning, middle, and end. One week I might get science fiction, another suspense, another horror. It was my first experience with that sort of storytelling, and I instantly fell in love with it.

So when I got older and became a voracious reader, it is not at all surprising that I would be drawn to short story collections. One of the first books I ever read by Stephen King was his first collection Night Shift, and I delighted in all the different tales I found between the covers. To this day, I get excited when I find out a writer I like is coming out with a new collection. And I love writers who release multiple collections. King, Gaiman, Lansdale, Hodge, etc.

I also became a huge fan of anthologies. In my formative years, I remember devouring anthologies with titles like Under the Fang, Prime Evil, Book of the Dead, Shock Rock…eclectic collections of stories by some of the top talent in the horror genre of the day. Every new anthology was like a trip to heaven for me. So much treasure in one book.

As a writer, I enjoy writing novellas and novels and even the occasional poem, but short fiction has always been my truest love and greatest passion. And I dreamed of having multiple collections out there, just like my favorite writers.

And I’m thrilled that I have made that dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the privilege of working with a myriad of wonderful publishers who also believe in the power of short fiction.

My latest collection is BOOK HAVEN AND OTHER CURIOSITIES (April 26th) from Crystal Lake Publishing. I published a previous collection with them, and what really impressed me about them is that they promote a collection as hard as a novel. BOOK HAVEN contains the title novella as well as 20 short stories of various lengths. I touch on different subjects, different tones and themes. A lot of horror, some straight dramatic pieces, and even a few poems. The reader will definitely see the Twilight Zoneinfluence in a couple of the pieces.

I am beyond ecstatic to have a new collection coming out into the world. I think this is an assembly of strong stories, and I look forward to getting feedback from writers.

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Stop by Mark’s Amazon page and keep an eye out for the book: https://amzn.to/2OCdVva

A Season in Hell

A Season in Hell tagline:
Just one season can change everything.

Where to read this book:

A Season In Hell Art WITH TEXT
Crystal Lake Publishing

Blurbs:
“Kenneth W. Cain takes timely social topics and explores them against the backdrop of America’s pastime. What begins as a baseball story quickly delves into something rich, deep, and dark.” – Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls

a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story. You won’t soon forget Dillon or Keisha. Her struggle is as timely today as ever.” —John Palisano, Vice President of the Horror Writers Association and Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author of Night of 1,000 Beasts

“Kenneth W. Cain hits a grand slam with this tragic tale of baseball.” – Armand Rosamilia, author of A View From My Seat: My Baseball Season With the Jumbo Shrimp

“…a powerful microcosm of what’s wrong with our world. And a reminder of how the courage of one can change things.” — Tom Deady, Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author of Haven

From reviews:
“Rarely does a book actually break me. There are a lot of books that make me stop and go, “Oh my God, what did I just read”; but not many that just make me feel broken. A deep down, soulful, broken.” – Goodreads review

“Kenneth was in great form here, like a virtuoso who hits every note.” – Frank Michaels Errington’s Horrible Book Reviews

“I know zilch about baseball, but I know about racism, bigotry, sexism, abuse, and violence. I also know about the human tendencies to blame, to ignore, and to think violence is an appropriate tool. I am aware of all that, and so is author Kenneth W. Cain, who created a novella that made me cry, copiously. Then, his brilliant, incisive, Afterword made me weep all over again.” – The Haunted Reading Room

“A very quick read that will break into your very soul, and maybe change it a little.” – Goodreads review

“…both thought-provoking and haunting, in the sense that the story will stay with me for a very long time.” – Goodreads review

“Keisha’s story is narrated so realistically that it read like a true story. This intensified the suffering that Keisha is subjected to, making it raw, easy to imagine and full of anguish. Though this is a short novella, it evoked very strong emotion in me.” – Banshee Irish Horror Blog

“…a powerful story, and not at all what I thought it was going to be. This is fiction but it feels so real and given the history of misogyny in sports and the current struggles for women it is a different kind of horror story. Anyone who has been bullied or unfairly treated can relate to A Season in Hell. I think it would make a great teaching tool in high schools.” – I Smell Sheep

“…a powerful read, there are lessons to be learned. You know, when you pick up a horror book it usually because you want to be entertained, escaping reality for a while but real horror is much darker than that. Real horror is the reality of how and what man can do to another. The pain inflicted might not show on the surface but it’s there… deeply ingrained in your psyche for all eternity.” – Horror Novel reviews

Listen to “Perfect Little Hands” for FREE

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You can listen to my story “Perfect Little Hands” from my collection Fresh Cut Tales for FREE by clicking the link below.

CLICK HERE

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Robert Essig: The Genesis of People of the Ethereal Realm – Part Two

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All stories have a genesis, a birthing into the world from writers’ minds, through their fingertips and into their computer (or onto paper for those who still write first drafts longhand).  In part one of this essay I wrote about how I came up with the idea for my novel People of the Ethereal Realm and a bit about the writing process.  If you haven’t done so already, you can read part one at Craig Saunders’ blog. I’ll be here waiting for you when you’re finished.

People of the Ethereal Realm was published as my second novel, however it was the first novel I’d written.  That’s not to say that I didn’t have opportunities for the book to be published before Post Mortem Press released it in July.  Bringing this book into the world began with several years of false alarms and disappointments that taught me a lot about the small press in the process.

So, after selling a number of short stories, I’d written my first novel, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself.  I hit the Web and searched for viable publishers to send my manuscript.  This was before Post Mortem Press had opened for business, so they weren’t yet on my radar.  I’d sent the manuscript to a number of publishers, some of whom I had short stories published with, others with a sparkling clean reputation, and yet others I had little knowledge of.  The first thing I learned (something I should have learned from submitting short stories) was that research, particularly concerning unknown publishers, is a must.  I also learned to go with my gut, to listen to my heart. To ignore intuition is a fool’s game.

people of the ethereal realm cover

So I had several poles in the water and I got a bite from a publisher—whose name will remain concealed—that I had no prior experience with. They emailed a contract that could have been an offer on a new house it was so big. I read every word of it, mostly the same jargon typical of a publishing contract.  They offered a twenty-five dollar advance, and then later in the contract I was given the option to have my advance applied to the cost of the twenty books I was required to purchase at full price within a certain number of days after publication.

Let that sink in for a second.  How much is the average price for a trade paperback?  Somewhere around fifteen dollars give or take a buck.

I was shocked, so I ran a Google search (yep, should have done that first!), and found a great deal of bitching and complaining about this publisher.  They were a pay-to-play gig, and from what I read, they didn’t put much force behind their horror titles, as evidenced on their website where there were plenty of thriller and romance but no horror novels to be seen.  This is what I mean about following intuition.  That had struck me as strange from the get go.

Needless to say, I politely rejected the contract and waited for bites from the other poles I had in the great pond of small press publishing.

Soon enough another publisher emailed me with an acceptance letter, contract to follow.  The contract never showed up and they were unresponsive to my emails. As of this writing, they seemed to have fallen off the face of the planet. Dodged a bullet there, I suppose.

I was beginning to think that this book was destined for disaster.

Next I sent the manuscript to Twisted Library Press.  I’d had many a story published in their anthologies and even edited two of them (was taking submissions for a third anthology at the time).  I could see the signs on the wall, beginning with so many anthology submission calls that there would be no way for a publisher to possibly follow through with each one.  I also saw that there was what seemed like an equal number of novels to be published by an ever-growing list of imprints.  But still I submitted my novel when I should have taken a moment to realize what was very clear.

The book sat in limbo for a year.  The cover had been designed, it had gone through an editing process, and I had even started promoting it.  The contract expired and soon after Twisted Library Press became defunct.

So People of the Ethereal Realm was destined for disaster … or maybe not.

During the period of time that I had edited anthologies for Twisted Library, I discovered a brand new publisher: Post Mortem Press.  I sent Eric Beebe a story and it was published in their debut anthology Uncanny Allegories.  My novella “Cemetery Tour” was included in the PMP release The Road to Hell, as well as a few more shorts in other anthologies.

Having been with PMP from the beginning, I’d watched them grow. It was all the research I needed.  In Eric Beebe I found a trusting publisher and a man of determination and dedication.  I submitted my manuscript, and when I received the acceptance letter, I knew that People of the Ethereal Realm was finally destined for something good.

I learned a lot during the process of getting this book published, but I am no fool and realize that there is so much more to be learned in the strange and sometimes discouraging world of publishing.

On a final note, I would like to thank Ken Cain for being gracious enough to allow me the use of his blog.  I appreciate it, man!

Find more about Robert on his website: https://robertessig.blogspot.com or on Facebook.
Other books by Robert on Amazon.