She Will Rise – Calvin Demmer

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Five tips to definitely live (or die) by…

Following from last week’s short story ‘Spring Outbreak’ we continue down the road of Calvin Demmer’s Dark Celebrations series with yet another spectacular addition ‘She Will Rise’. If reading is an addiction then I must confess to being completely hooked to these short stories, I cannot get enough! Hoping to continue through the whole collection I am already so engrossed with each individual story and this one is no exception!

This story actually came across rather differently than the others, almost softer and more toned down to what I was expecting. Needless to say this didn’t last long as we are given wonderful twists and taken down a dark path no one can return from. However I really enjoyed the build up of this story, even though most short stories dive straight into the action this one allowed us to feel what the protagonist Luna was feeling (love towards her ill mother, grief for her dead twin sister and hatred for her step-father). By building these relationships and background we are able to mirror those emotions and understand the reasoning behind the actions taken.

We are drawn in straight away by Luna coming home from college for Easter break, knowing her mother is ill she wishes to make this weekend special. Little does she know that this Easter will change her life forever. Building on the relationship that Luna has with her mother really hit home for me, it takes a lot to care for someone but even more so to stand up for them! Luna shows courage and bravery to stand up to Ralph (step-father) and when all hope is lost, an unexpected ‘helper’ arrives.

Darkness is a common theme in Calvin Demmer’s work and sometimes the characters you least expect to have a dark twist emerge and bring with them sinister behavior. Without giving away any spoilers, Luna really surprised me with her characteristics towards the end. Not just the compassionate daughter, there is always more than meets the eye with people. Honestly I didn’t expect the ending (the VERY end sentence) which is why I enjoy these types of books, you never know what you’re going to get.

All the way through I was actually hating Ralph myself, getting that connected to another characters emotions is so hard to achieve but I was thinking about how repulsive he is and how Luna and her mother could do so much better (I think it was the throwing away the VCR tapes that did it for me). The fact that there were so many twists to this story kept me on my toes and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!

Hopefully I will get the chance to read more of Calvin Demmer’s work (I do aim to read the whole collection) as he always seems to surprise me. Even if you’re not a fan of horror genre you can still appreciate a good plot twist!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘She Will Rise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

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Spring Outbreak – Calvin Demmer

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Never fall asleep at the beach…

As you may have known I’ve reviewed Calvin Demmer’s work before, already accustomed to his style of writing I was very eager to read another addition of his Dark Celebration collection. With short stories you never know what you’re going to get and they have to move in a fast paced situation to get the detail across effectively and this book delivered that completely!

Normally with short stories they jump straight into the action without having much background information on the characters, this however was not one of those books. You get a glimpse into Gwen’s backstory bit by bit, firstly we find out about her recent breakup and how something like that could bring sad memories even in the happiest of scenarios. Secondly we find out that Gwen is not only mourning a past relationship but also the loss of her younger brother Thomas. By having this information the reader is able to really connect with Gwen and understand the pain she must be feeling.

This story really flowed well building on the emotions of the characters, one of the main ones that I really saw was fear. Without giving away the story there are certain levels of fear Gwen goes through. Fear of upsetting her friend who is there to cheer her up and celebrate a great first year of college (spring break in Mexico kind of cheering up). Then there is the fear of being alone, followed by the fear of needing to survive and finally the fear of the unknown. By having such a strong emotional connection with the character you get fully drawn into what might happen next and I feel that this book really delivers that!

Another thing I’ve noticed with short stories, especially the horror genre is that they end in surprising, cliffhanging ways. This book however challenged that way of ending and even though it was still shocking I felt it really fit with the way the book was going, also on a more real note I think that if this book happened in real life the ending may not be as far fetched as you’d think!

Normally with these types of stories I try to guess what will happen (not that all are that predicable) but with this one I struggled, on some levels I did guess what may happen (even the title clicked half way through) but there were times that I must admit stood out to me.

I will be looking out for more of Calvin Demmer’s work (I do have another one of his short stories lined up for next weekend) as I think that his work is very well written and definitely stands out in the horror/ short story genres.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spring Outbreak’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

Author Interview – Gary Buller

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Digging deeper into the lives and career of authors…

As promised I’ve done another author interview to highlight and give thanks to the lovely authors that gave me the support and encouragement I needed for my blog to flourish and grow. Hopefully this will give some very well deserved recognition to Gary Buller, an author who gave me a chance and allowed me to start something I’m passionate about, my blog! So without further delay let’s get to know him a little better…

When did you decide to become an author?

Only last year. It came out of the blue to friends and family- even my girlfriend of sixteen years, but was an idea I’d been toying with for a while. I wasn’t very confident initially, but when the story acceptances started to roll in I felt better about my abilities.

Where do you get your story ideas?

I get ideas from things that happen day to day, no matter how mundane. My story ‘Shelf Life’ (Hindered Souls anthology) had origins in supermarket trips with my other half. Pushing the trolley along behind her, bored out of my tree, I wondered what would happen if this experience lasted forever?

Authors are traditionally cast as reclusive loners. Are you?

No, not at all. I’m very sociable but most of all I’d say that I’m a family man. On social media I’m quite cheeky and full of innuendo which I think goes completely against the grain for horror writers. I think some of them balk a little at some of my tweets. I have a good sense of humour and am not easily offended. I find it quite odd when horror writers talk about pushing boundaries in one breath and in the next they’re getting upset over a rude shaped vegetable or something. Writers can take things far too seriously.

Does your writing require research?

Sometimes, especially when it’s about something that I’m not overly familiar with. Google is handy for occasions like that. When I’m writing from experience though I’ll just go with what I know. I have a fairly short attention span when it comes to research, and get bored fairly quickly.

Which authors influence your writing?

I’ve been compared to Stephen King a couple of times which is both flattering and a curse. I think there are too many King wannabes out there. I have read most of his stuff, but don’t intentionally try to ape his style. I do like Joe Hill, Ray Bradbury and Adam Nevill for my horror and speculative fiction fix. I also enjoy the Helen Grace stories by MJ Arlidge.

What part of writing do you find most challenging?

Finding the time is the biggest challenge these days. Also self-editing. It’s one of the reasons why I initially joined a writers workshop and moved on to be part of a writers circle. It’s very difficult to spot faults in your own works.

Do you write the story, or do your characters take over?

The characters always seem to lead the way when I write. They are an extension of me, I suppose, so it makes sense. I’m currently working on some writer-improvement exercises under my Horror Writer Association mentor, Bram Stoker winner Hank Schwaeble, and he’s of the opinion that you have to incorporate at least a little plot development when you sit down to write.

When a reader closes one of your books, what do you hope they’re left with?

I hope that they enjoy it, and want to read more of my stuff. That’s the challenge- to get your name to stand out amongst the thousands and thousands of fledgling writers. If I scare the reader, or give them nightmares then even better.

Do you have any advice for new/ aspiring authors?

Learn that rejection and criticism is not a bad thing. Take that story and work on it some more. Before long you’ll be looking back at drafts of your work from months ago and seeing an improvement. Join an online writer’s group, or circle. Read other aspiring writers work and critique it, then let them do the same to yours.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/spirit animal, why?

My mascot is my six year old daughter, Holly. She’s my inspiration and I love her very much. She has a short piece of flash fiction in my horror collection ‘Mechanisms of Despair’ called ‘Dog of the Dead’ and absolutely delighted in signing the books when they arrived from the printers.

Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally. It’s never anything very interesting though. Just links to my Twitter and Facebook, and the occasional review or Amazon page.

How did you choose the genre you wished to write in?

I think horror chose me. Since the days of secretly watching video nasties when I was too young to do so back in the eighties, I’ve been interested in the macabre. My grandad used to tell a mean ‘true’ ghost story and it used to really freak me out. I’ve attempted writing other stuff but my eyes glaze over just a little. My heart is not in it.

Do you have any new books coming up that you wish to shout about? 

My short story collection ‘Mechanisms of Despair’ is out now and available on ebook and paperback from Amazon. All my proceeds go to Sarcoma UK, a bone and soft tissue cancer charity, and the publishers proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation in the USA.

I have a short story coming up in a massive horror anthology with a collection of very talented horror writers including John Palisano, Vice President of the horror writers association. It’s called ‘Monsters Exist’ and features cryptids and legendary beasts local to each author. Published by Deadman’s Tome, it should be available June/July time from Amazon and we expect it to do really well.

I would also be amiss if I didn’t mention a project that I’ve been working on with Unnerving Magazine. Hobo Chapbooks will be available in limited editions of 44 from the 5th June 2017. They feature collaborative mashups where horror writers put their slant on other authors works. They are available to pre order here.

Until next time…

If you want to know more about Gary Buller you can have a look on his website for all sorts of updates. Alternatively follow him on Twitter (@garybuller) for regular content!

Hell Will Rise – Skyla Murphy

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Always be one step ahead when dealing with the Mafia…

This is the first book I’ve read that had a Mafia theme and quite honestly I was intrigued to see how much my innocence to this theme would filter down into the book and impact my reading experience. It is safe to say I was pleasantly surprised with the story that unravelled, giving me a bit of everything (romance, violence and revenge) to keep me on my toes and turning each page with held breath!

Before you even begin the book you are told by the main protagonist ‘Hunter Garciez’ that you are reading his story, his tale of misery and warning you that Hell Will Rise! If that doesn’t give you enough persuasion to keep reading then I don’t know what will… This book splits the story between two perspectives, one of the male protagonist (Hunter) and one of the female protagonist (Shayla), this gives you a way into how each see the same situation but dealing with them in complete opposite ways, but also insight into their separate lives.

One of the plot twists unfolds early in the story (no spoilers here!) and allows the reader to almost anticipate what each character will do with that information, slowly having the characters realise the connection between them makes you really question the actions that may follow. The suspense built with this book really kept me going, always wanting to know what will happen next whilst really connecting with the characters and their own struggles and actions that lead them to be where they are now.

Now, the characters are just something else! I was a bit sceptical of Shayla as I’m not usually the kind of person who likes the whole ‘damsel in distress’ story line, but she is most definitely not that kind of girl! Shayla proves to be a headstrong, sassy and durable character, who has been dealt a rough hand yet keeps on fighting! Hunter being in the mafia is shown to have a sensitive side even after the years of gore, violence and malicious behaviour he’s endured and dealt out. Protecting his little sister after his parents died, his love for her shows no boundaries even after he is tested again and again!

This actually is the first book of ‘The Bloodthirst Mafia Series’ and from what Skyla Murphy has provided in ‘Hell Will Rise’ I most definitely cannot wait to read the rest of this series! Considering this is Skyla Murphy’s first book I must admit I’m impressed with the level of detail to the storyline, character creation and development and overall keeping me hooked onto every word she provided.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Hell Will Rise’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Skyla Murphy
Skyla Murphy is a highland junkie from the West Coast of Canada. When she’s not searching the Rocky Mountains for Sasquatch, she can be found researching every other conspiracy theory known to mankind. Her Yorkshire Terrier is usually clung to her side, but he doesn’t buy into her philosophies much. Therefore, she writes about them instead.