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

Darker Days

Darker Days tagline:
Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.

Where to read this book:

Crystal Lake Publishing

Blurbs:
“Wildly varied and always surprising, Darker Days is a fantastic collection of dark wonders. Cain is a gifted storyteller and a writer to watch.”  Jonathan Janz

“His prose is precise, his plotting and pace move seamlessly and quickly, and his stories are compelling.” — Gene O’Neill, The White Plague Chronicles

“A feast for the senses no matter your tastes!” — Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award® winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

Ranging from subtle horror to downright terror, from science fiction to weird fantasy, Cain demonstrates a breadth of styles that keeps you off balance as you move from one story to the next.” — JG Faherty, author of The Cure, Carnival of Fear, and The Burning Time

From reviews:
“Cain pulls it off with style.  His influences are apparent on every page.  When the mundane is combined with the supernatural, magic can happen, and Cain is a sorcerer.” — Signal Horizon

“Kenneth Cain has the ability to bring up hard topics without driving them into the ground or beating you over the head with them.” — SciFi & Scary

a great collection of tales that any fan of horror fiction would enjoy. There’s something in this book for everyone.” — HorrorAddicts.net

Kenneth W. Cain is an exceptional writer. His stories never fail to provide the chills and thrills you want from a horror anthology. Highly recommended.” — Goodreads review

 

Tales From The Lake Volume 5

Tales From The Lake Volume 5 tagline:
Where are the real horrors? Whether they be a family member returning from the dead, exploring the depths of depression or the deterioration of the mind, you’ll find them here.

Where to read this book:

Crystal Lake Publishing

Edited by Kenneth W. Cain

Blurbs:
“If you’re a short story reader, this is an absolute must-read. Volume five is even better than the four preceding volumes, which is a very hard bar to hit. Go buy this!” — John R. Little, author of The Memory Tree, Miranda, and Soul Mates

From reviews:
“…not a “look under the bed for monsters” volume, but one that has a pensive chill. The stories are like a tap on the shoulder; a reminder that good days end and that no one is protected from anguish.” – Hellnotes

“…an absolute triumph, a wonderfully inclusive celebration of the best that the Horror genre can produce, unhindered by the constraints of themes or specific topics. The individual stories within the collection are uniformly of a very high quality, and have been expertly brought together and edited by Kenneth W. Cain and Crystal Lake Publishing.” – Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

“…edited by Kenneth Cain, one of the as yet unsung heroes of dark horror fiction–an author in his own right who deserves much more attention and spotlighting.” – The Haunted Reading Room

“…by far the best volume yet in the Tales from the Lake series!” – Amazon review

“Though the stories in Tales from the Lake Volume 5 are not themed in the traditional sense, they form a cohesive unit. Threads connect each to the others as if the authors had conspired to give the anthology its unique flavor.” — HorrorAddicts.net

“The most terrifying thing in the world is not a vampire or zombie, it is mankind and what we are capable of doing to each other. This collection from editor Kenneth W. Cain will eat at you for a long time. Horrifying, haunting, and unforgettable!” – Goodreads review

“I’ve been a fan of the Tales From The Lake anthology since the first volume and it’s amazing to see how much it has evolved over the years. Volume 5 is quite possibly the best yet.” – Goodreads review

“Kenneth W. Cain did an excellent job of weaving the stories together and they flow from one to another leaving the reader on a journey of terror and entertainment.” – Goodreads review

“…this one has some seriously fantastic offerings.” – A.E. Siraki

“Over the years I’ve read enough anthologies, short story collections and fiction magazines to refine my expectations for what comprises a premium horror story. So when I declare that I thoroughly enjoyed two-thirds of the fiction in TALES FROM THE LAKE VOLUME 5 – – that says a lot about the high quality of the contents.” – Pop Culture Podium

 

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

Embers

Embers tagline:
Where are the real horrors? Whether they be a family member returning from the dead, exploring the depths of depression or the deterioration of the mind, you’ll find them here.

Where to read this book:

Crystal Lake Publishing

Edited by Kenneth W. Cain

Blurbs:
“Not a squall, not a blizzard … It’s a pulp horror AVALANCHE!” — Mort Castle, Bram Stoker Award® winner

From reviews:
“I think I can safely say that this collection is one of my all-time favourites.” — Confessions of a reviewer

“Cain’s characters are anything but black and white. They are as multi-faceted as any real person you know. They are presented with difficult decisions and even worse situations, and they do the best that they can. Monster and man both are tested relentlessly, Cain never taking the easy way out. Some of the stories are predominately scary, some are predominately sad. All of them will evoke a range of emotions while you read and long after you’ve finished.” — Charnel House Reviews

“Prepare for the stretching of your mind and the expansion of your imagination as Kenneth W. Cain boldly goes into unexplored territory, sometimes speculative, other times horrific, but always enlightening.” — Mallory Heart Reviews

“Some of these tales take on a poe-esque quality, while others a more Lovecraftian tone, and then we find those that bestow upon us the moral musings of Rod Serling. Yeah, these stories are good!” — Horror Novel Reviews

“If you enjoy your horror with a touch of Lovecraft, I believe you’ll appreciate this body of work from Kenneth W. Cain more than you would otherwise.” — Cemetery Dance (Frank Michaels Errington)

“The market is flooded with short story collections and I sincerely hope that Cain’s Embers finds an audience as he has a strong voice and an obvious writing ability. A really good collection overall” — The Grim Reader

“Each story is connected by a little thread to the next one. Kenneth created a web of weird, sometimes gory, sometimes psychological and always scary threads.” — Banshee Irish Horror Blog

Embers is a collection that strolls into every corner of horror to gather bits before running them through the spin cycle, dial set to dread.” — Unnerving Magazine

“…from page 1 I enjoyed reading each and every word.” — Terror-Tree

“Books like Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark were always a fun read as a child right before bed. Cain’s Embers is like an adult version of those novels.” — The Horrific Network

“What makes his work scary is that he takes normal everyday situations with characters just like you and me and twists them into something horrific. These are tales that really could happen to anyone.” — S.J. Budd

“Overall, Embers is a well-constructed and put together collection of horror stories from Kenneth W. Cain that marks another quality release from Crystal Lake Publishing.” — A.E. Siraki

“I thought it was a great collection.” — Sci-Fi and Scary

 

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Jack Wallen: Cry Zombie Cry excerpt

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chapter 3 | exit light, enter Rizzo

 

“Oh my God, turn that fucking thing off!” Joshua shouted over the Obliterator.

“What’s the matter, tough guy?” Morgan chided.

Jamal leaned forward, his head between the front seats, to address Josh and Morgan. “Tell me you have an ETA on your unit.”

“Aren’t you having fun? It’s like Camp of the Damned.” Joshua laughed at his attempted humor.

“Yeah, I’ve seen that film; it doesn’t end well—at least not for us.”

Morgan leaned over and smacked the back of Joshua’s head. “Stop being such a goofball, Josh. Tell the poor man how soon the cavalry will arrive.”

Josh laughed and glanced at his watch. “They should be here any minute.”

The distant sound of moans wafted up from the darkening sky.

“Please don’t get dark yet,” Echo whispered, as if to hide her plea. I wrapped my arms around her tiny frame and pulled her into me.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let anything hurt you.”

The words took me back to broken promises from the past. Susan—another young girl I’d promised to protect. That failure would eat at my heart for eternity. The only thing to be done was to finally make good on a similar promise and ensure nothing happened to Echo.

So far, so good.

“By the way, what’s the plan once we’re gassed up and on the road?” Jamal spoke softly. I loved that about him, how he always knew when to effect peace in a room—one of his many gifts.

“The plan hasn’t changed,” I started. “We hunt down and kill the Zero Day Collective and reclaim Jacob.”

Echo shuddered. “Jesus, when you put it that way it makes Jacob seem more property than prophet.”

The sentiment cut sharply. The thought that Jacob would ever be seen as a commodity to be tossed back and forth between enemy lines was insane. He was my baby, my joy, my hope for life. The idea threatened to spiral me down into emotional withdrawal. I had to change the subject before I reached critical psychological mass.

“Speaking of which,” I added, as I focused my attention back to the laptop, “I need to see if the tracker has any hits.”

It has always been rumored that technology would eventually be the ultimate demise of man. The singularity would occur and machines would take over. The tiniest fragment of my intelligence begged me to consider it possible the singularity had finally arrived—in human form. The lowest common denominator had won out and would overtake the planet with predictable stupidity and greed. Ignorance and power were the new currency.

I propped the laptop back on my lap and minimized the Obliterator application. In its place came the tracker. The application ran in the background, collecting tons of data from the network at large. Any time specific suspect words were captured, traveling across the global network of connected computers and communication satellites, a flag would be raised and the data packets logged. Once the tracker had collected enough data, I could sift through the information and begin piecing together the location of the Zero Day Collective and Jacob. It was only a matter of time before they appeared on my radar. The NSA and Sherlock Holmes had nothing on me.

As soon as the tracker window was open, Jamal peered over my shoulder, his eyes wide and his mouth agape. I could feel his warm breath on my neck as my eyes ripped through the information. A pattern started to develop.

Mobile unit.

Biologist.

Zero Day Collective.

Jacob.

40.0176 degrees North.

105.2797 degrees West.

“Bethany,” Jamal whispered, “that’s Boulder, Colorado. But what does it mean by “Mobile unit”?”

“Well, Jamal, I would assume it means that whoever is sending out these communications happens to be on some sort of mobile Zero Day Collective biological unit. In other words, it’s moving.”

Jamal sighed. “So getting a fixed location isn’t likely.”

I nodded.

Jamal grinned. “Yes, but…if you get a number of consecutive coordinates, you can at least predict where the unit will be at a given time. Of course, that would require knowing what type of unit and at what speed they were traveling.”

Before Jamal could continue, I silenced him with a palm to the lips.

“Joshua, how quickly can you get us to Boulder?”

Josh laughed. “At this rate it’ll take, oh, forever!”

Again, Morgan smacked Josh across the back of the head.

“I’m just fucking with you. We get back up to speed soon, and I can have you there in a day…tops.”

“B, what do you have in mind?”

Before I could answer Jamal, a soul-destroying roar ripped through the truck. The prehistoric release was followed by the shattering of glass and a pale arm reaching into the truck. Dirty, blood-soaked fingers tangled deep into Echo’s hair and yanked hard. Echo released a cry that was almost too high in pitch to hear as the arm pulled her head toward the shattered glass.

“What the hell? The Obliterator is running strong.” Josh shouted, as he gave the volume knob for the Obliterator one last turn.

“Oh my God, look at its ears,” was all Morgan needed to say.

Blood was caked around both ears. A thick, viscous liquid bubbled from the holes on the side of his head.

“The fucker cracked his skull on the cement until he went deaf,” Joshua added. “Perfect immunity to the power of the Obliterator.”

The beast gave another tug that pulled Echo’s head nearer the shattered window. Echo’s arms flailed outward to thwart the thing’s attempts at commandeering her skull.

 

* *   *   *   *

 jack_hands

The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

https://www.facebook.com/events/1524813084430035/?ref_notif_type=plan_user_joined&source=1

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/11/01/winter-of-zombie-post-list-winterzombie2014/

The Big Book of Monsters & Friends

The Big Book of Monsters & Friends tagline:
200 pages of fun, coloring, activities, games, stories mostly about fun creative monsters

Where to read this book:

BBoM-Cover
Distressed Press

From reviews:
“Lots of fun, good monsters and good stories. My grandson loves this!” — Amazon review