Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Interview Posted / New Website Updated

Ginger Nuts of Horror conducted this interview with me in conjunction with the release of Diabolic Tales 3, to which I contributed the story "Coke Mule Deer." Thanks to Jim McLeod for the great questions. Full interview is linked above.

My web site is now open and updated. Features a big photo gallery of covers, information on recent and upcoming anthologies and more.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

New Home Page Now Live

HERE is my brand new web page, with a photo gallery of select anthologies I have contributed to, information about my writing, ordering information, and additional features coming soon. Browse around and come back often!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dark in the Limelight anthology now available

  • Horrified Press announces their newest horror anthology, Dark in the Limelight.
    Perfect for the Halloween season!

  • Dark in the Limelight is a horror anthology containing the works of over 20 new and established authors. It was expertly edited by editor-in-chief of Schlock Webzine, Gavin Chappell, and contains an eclectic mix of authors that range from the newly-published to old Nic's old pros. Let's take a look at the table of contents before I hand you over to Gavin to describe this groundbreaking collection to you all in his own words...
    Author List:
    A FLAW IN THE RECORDING Jacurutu: 23
    BLOOD BATH Angela Bodine
    BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS Nicky Peacock
    DEMON IN HIS SOUL David Perlmutter
    DETACHED Mark Slade
    DRESSED FOR SUCCESS Mathias Jansson
    LET THEM EAT CAKE Rob Smales
    PREY FOR THE DEVIL H. I. M. Hortenzia I Moscato
    STAGING WITH THE DEVIL Sergio “ente per ente” Palumbo
    SNUFFED OUT Adrian Ludens
    THE BLUE-EYED DEAL Greg McWhorter
    WITCHBONE Greg McWhorter
    THE INGÉNUE Pepper Scoville
    THE NEW MODEL Matthew Wilson
    THE REPO-MAN Carl Fox
    THE KNIFE Todd Nelsen
    TRINKET Gary Murphy
  • What's it about?
    Fame and fortune, success and celebrity – it’s what we all aspire to. But should we?
    What is the price of fame? Is it all it seems? Or does something sinister lurk in the limelight?
    In here you’ll find tales of Faustian pacts, of the Devil’s music, of the horrors of Hollywood. Musicians and playwrights, actors and actresses: all have something dark in their past – or in their future!
  • Comments by Adrian Ludens: I'm pleased to be in another anthology with Ken Goldman! I think he's a talented, and too often overlooked author of dark fiction. Second time sharing a TOC with Mark Slade and Angela Bodine as well. Nicky Peacock had a great story in Night Terrors II. There may be others as well, and if I forgot you, I sincerely apologize!
  • Monday, September 30, 2013

    Another 5 Star Review and Diabolic Tales Anthology News

    Harper Hull, a very talented writer of creepy, shocking horror, has read Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles. He was kind enough to write a review for it on Amazon. Harper brings my reviews into double digits, and I am pleased (or perhaps relieved) to note that they are all five star reviews.

    Find his review, and those of other kind folks, HERE.


    Received my contributor copy of Diabolic Tales III: An Anthology of Horror in the mail today. Diabolic Publications has put together a great looking anthology just in time for your Halloween reading pleasure. The book will be available from Amazon later in October.

    A nice lineup here. I recognize several names. B. Adrian White, who leads things off has a story in Epitaphs, from the New England chapter of the HWA. Adam Millard is a prolific indie horror author. Michael Wehunt has the kind of resume I envy, with stories in Shock Totem, One Buck Horror, and Innsmouth Magazine. Aaron J. French contributed stories to two Stoker-nominated anthologies last year, Chiral Mad and Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations. MP Johnson has several indie horror appearances, including Steamy Screams from Blood Bound Books. Also includes Christopher Nadeau, Michael Bray, and many other established and up-and-coming horror authors.

    My entry is one of my darker tales. Coke Mule Deer follows a serial killer/rapist who enlists the help of a witch to help him escape Mexican authorities. After double-crossing her, he flees across the desert. A hungry cougar and the American Border Patrol will be the least of his troubles. Inspired by something I saw while driving through New Mexico two decades ago, this story will NOT be published in my next volume of short stories. Diabolic Tales III will be the only place to read it.

    If you live in Rapid City or anywhere in the Black Hills, I invite you to attend my book signing at Everybody's Bookstore in west Rapid on Saturday, October 19th from 11-2 pm. I'll be on hand with copies of Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles (and probably some Halloween candy) so please stop by!

    As always, thanks for reading!

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

    Answers to Questions: Just for Fun

    While my wife watches the series finale to Breaking Bad, I thought it would be fun to answer some of the most-often asked questions of horror and dark fiction authors.  I'll keep it brief. Here we go!

    1) What is your favorite horror magazine?

    Cemetery Dance is always excellent, though I almost always skip the articles. The fiction each issue is usually phenomenal. Weird Tales is a close second. Great heritage to this magazine. They've recently begun doing themed issues, which are hit or miss for me.

    2) Who is your favorite author?

    I've read everything Stephen King has ever written, except for three books, one of which is the brand new one, Doctor Sleep. Other favorites include Joe R. Lansdale and Tom Piccirilli. I could easily do a top ten.. or top twenty!

    3) What work would you like the chance to write a sequel to?

    I don't think I'm the right guy for the job, but I'd sure love to see someone tackle Twin Peaks. I'd gladly go along for the ride on anything  furthering or expanding that story, particularly the fates of Agent Dale Cooper and Agent Chester Desmond.

    4) What is your favorite post-apocalyptic novel or story?

    I don't think I have one. I own The Stand by Stephen King, Swan Song by Robert McCammon and The Road by Cormac McCarthy... maybe I better get started on them! Now if we're talking Dystopian visions of the future, then 1984 by George Orwell takes the prize.

    5) What is your worst fear?

    Outliving my children.

    6) What was the first work of horror you remember reading?

    Many great stories in the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, particularly Monster Museum and Supernatural Tales of Terror and Suspense. That series introduced me to Roald Dahl, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury and many others. Before that I owned a series of illustrated classics that were square block books with an illustration on every other page. I remember discovering Edgar Allan Poe there.

    7) What horror novel would you recommend everyone read?

    I would cheat and recommend the Signet Classic three-in-one edition of Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It contains an introduction from Stephen King where he explains that all horror basically originates from these three works (and traditional ghost stories). Dracula is the Other, Mr. Hyde is the Evil Within, and Frankenstein's Monster is the Created Abomination. Pretty much everything since falls into one of those three categories (again, except for ghosts). It is likely that I misquoted King, but you get the idea. And with that recommendation, I admit that I only enjoyed two of those three novels, but I won't say which, because all three are important.

    8) What is your favorite book cover?

    I like painted covers. A good amount of cool covers came from the Leisure Horror imprint over the years. Favorite cover of any anthology I've been a published in would probably be Zombie Kong (Books of the Dead Press).

    9) What music do you listen to while writing (if any)?

    Listening to instrumental music while writing is an absolute must. Top composers are Angelo Badalamenti, Philip Glass, and Henry Mancini, among others.

    10) What are you reading right now?

    I am about a third of the way through Stephen King's Desperation (yes, reading it for the first time). I just finished Tom Piccirilli's Last Whisper in the Dark, which was excellent. I have the newest issue of Cemetery Dance on my desk at work. Also finishing up the Otto Penzler-edited Kwik Krimes, which is a stupid title, but an excellent mystery anthology. Once I have those all finished, I intend to delve deeply into the Borderlands horror anthology series.

    Thanks for reading!
    Happy October!

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Why Do I Write What I Write?

    I attended the Festival of Books in Deadwood this weekend. I was at the Black Hills Writers Group booth passing out flyers and visiting with aspiring authors and book lovers.

    Unfortunately, I didn't sell any books. Even the woman wearing a "I Love Halloween" sweatshirt read the back of my book and quickly put it down.

    Judging by the long lines for certain authors during the mass book signing, people sure love erotica and mystery. 

    My wife says I should write an erotica-based novel because that's what is popular right now. A friend of mine has sold several thousand copies of a dark erotica novel. During the same time span, I've sold three copies of my collection of short horror stories. Yes, it is frustrating, it is quite humbling. People read what they want to read. And for better or worse, I write what I want to write.

    Horror, weird westerns, paranormal suspense, gritty crime, more horror.

    I'm certainly not in it for the money. 

    I write because it is challenging and rewarding to me on an emotional level. Being published alongside authors whose work I have read and enjoyed is always a thrill. And there are many items on my literary bucket list that I will continue to work hard in order to hopefully attain. 

    Right now I have 14 stories submitted. Most are to pro paying markets. A couple are short listed. Several haven't been looked at yet. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

    In closing, with Halloween right around the corner, and the nights getting chillier, I humbly invite you to...

    Sunday, September 8, 2013

    Two New Stories this Fall, Two Free Stories Revisited

    Have a Kindle? Have two bucks to spare? The latest issue of Dark Eclipse includes my short-short, "Sweet Tea and MamaLady", told from the POV of a lap dog. Sweet Tea's day is not going well. Something bad has happened to her mistress, but Sweet Tea doesn't understand...

    You can order a digital copy for only $1.99 HERE.
    The month of October will see the release of Diabolic Tales III. I am very pleased with this publisher. Full disclosure: before submitting to them, I was unfamiliar with Diabolic Publications. The pay semi-pro rates, offer contributor copies, and suggested a copy editing program that I have started using on everything I write. It doesn't hurt that that the cover art is stellar, either! You can be in the loop as soon as this anthology is released by bookmarking THIS.

    My story, "Coke Mule Deer", follows a serial killer as he flees Mexican authorities, a hungry cougar, and a vengeful witch. Will he make it to the border?
    READ REVIEWS of Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles using the link provided. I and thankful for the nine people who took the time to review my collection, and feel fortunate that so far, all reviews are 5 stars. Remember, this is my only collection. Anything else I advertise will feature one of my stories along with many other fine authors. Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles contains what I consider to be my best stories from five years of writing.

    Read my Dystopian (and dream-influenced) story, "Metsys" for free HERE. (Courtesy of the science fiction e-zine Chrome Baby.)

    Read my beauty shop crime story, "Monday Mourning at the Curl Up & Dye" for free here! (Courtesy of Over My Dead Body! e-zine.)

    If you enjoy my stories, tell your friends! The best advertising a writer can ask for is word-of-mouth from their readers. As always, thank you for reading!

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Another positive review for Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles

    HERE is a review of Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles from Matthew Scott Baker of Shattered Ravings.

    I am grateful to Mr. Baker for expressing an interest. Many potential reviewers won't consider self-published works. 

    To quote him directly (from his email to me):

    I LOVED this collection of short stories. I really enjoy your imagination and the things that dwell there. I mentioned a couple of my favorite stories in the review. PLEASE keep me in mind to review your future projects as well...I would love to keep in touch.

    Hellnotes also reviewed my collection several months ago. Thanks to K.H. Vaughn for taking the time to read my work.

    Remember, you can read my dystopian sci-fi story, Metsys, for free right here.

    I have stories upcoming in Diabolic Tales 3 (this fall), Darker Edge of Desire (next spring), and Dark in the Limelight (also next spring). Ten other stories under consideration. One never knows what tomorrow's mail (or email) might bring!

    Thanks for reading.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Free read: "Metsys" in Chrome Baby this month.

    Adrian Ludens ushers Chrome Baby into the two digit era:


    HERE is an alternate link if the first one doesn't work.

    Here are two more quotes from the editor, Robin Dunn:

    This is an astonishingly beautiful story I would be honored to publish in Chrome Baby.

    You know, you and Bosch have something in common, somewhere down there
    in the psyche.

    The Bosch referenced is Hieronymus Bosch, a Netherlandish painter who lived from 1450 to 1516. Bosch painted a triptych called The Garden of Earthly Delights. When I was a small child, our neighbors and friends were Ella and Leonard Boschma. I find that to be quite interesting.

    Metsys also received some kind words from Borderlands editor Thomas Monteleone. I will always be proud of the email he sent me saying the story almost made the cut for Borderlands 6, but that the story was too sci-fi.

    I shortened the beginning of the story, and, at the suggestion of Robin Dunn, tweaked the ending to make it have a greater emotional impact, I am pleased to see Metsys published.

    Metsys is easily my most esoteric and bizarre story. 80% of the events in this story come straight from a dream I had. Who knew my subconscious was so ugly? Well, you do, now.

    I hope you enjoy Metsys, and thanks again to Robin Dunn for purchasing my work.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Mid-August Update: Stories and Contracts

    First, I'd like to say "thank you" to everyone who purchased a copy of the August 5th issue of Woman's World. It featured my solve-it-yourself mystery "Coin Return". Appearing in such a widely-circulated publication felt great, and the pay is remarkably good! For those who read the story, I hope you enjoyed it.


    My story, "Snuffed Out", inspired by Zita Johan (Boris Karloff's costar in The Mummy), will be published in February 2014 in Dark in the Limelight (Horrified Press). This will be an anthology featuring show-biz related horror.


    Just signed the official contract and made final revisions for my story, "Reynolds' Tale" for Darker Edge of Desire (Cleis Press). This horror erotica anthology will be published Spring 2014.

    We also draw closer to "Coke Mule Deer" making its long-awaited appearance in Diabolic Tales III (Diabolic Press). This story was accepted previously by two other anthologies, but both were cancelled. Hoping third time is the charm!

    I will post art work for both anthologies as soon as I have it.


    Completed a new story, "Asylum" and will begin work on another new story (titled, but still a secret) tomorrow.

    I encourage you to take a look at my collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles, available HERE.

    Thanks for reading!

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    Mid-July Update with News, Links, and Pics

    I submitted to the last two Blood Bound Books anthologies. Alas, though my stories were short-listed, I did not make the final cut. Rather than dwell on any disappointment I might feel, I'd rather revisit one of my biggest successes as a writer: having my Civil War-era "weird tale", Life and Limb, published in BBB's "Blood Rites" anthology, which also features stories by Brian Lumley, Maria Alexander, Daniel O'Connor, Lisa Morton, Joe McKinney, Aric Sundquist and many more! I read the whole anthology cover to cover and didn't think there was a bad story in the bunch.

    You can order a copy or read reviews HERE

    You can find out more about the authors and their stories here!
    Here is a link to a new online 'zine called Chrome Baby. I believe it is the sister site to Bairn. At any rate, transgressive sci-fi seems to be what they're all about and I am pleased to announce that my story, "METSYS" will be published there in August!

    From editor Robin Dunn: "This is an astonishingly beautiful story I would be honored to publish." Direct link to follow.


    Just finished my final edits on "Coke Mule Deer" which will be included in Diabolic Tales III, to be released on Halloween of this year. I am very pleased with the improvements in the story. The original version of the story was picked up not once, but twice! But both projects were cancelled. Third time will be the charm! 
    Here's the cover. It's pretty epic!
    Finally, don't forget the July 26th issue of Woman's World will feature my solve-it-yourself mystery "Coin Return". Circulation is 1.6 million, so that's pretty darn cool.

    Thanks for reading!

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    An Honest Review of Blood Lite III: Aftertaste

    You may not be aware of this but Amazon does not allow authors to post reviews of anthologies to which they have contributed. I always made it a practice to review everything I contributed to. Then, one day, Amazon removed all my reviews.

    Among my proudest accomplishments was having Kevin J. Anderson purchase one of my stories for Blood Lite III: Aftertaste. This was my first professional sale and I felt very excited to be in such great company.

    But, as a reader, and a fan of horror, did I enjoy the stories in the anthology? Yes and no.

    About 40% of the stories are meant to be humorous (keep in mind everyone's sense of humor is a little bit different). About 40% of the stories are meant to be lite / light horror / supernatural suspense. And about 20% end up in various other categories.

    Personal highlights for me were:
    -Put On a Happy Face by Christopher Golden. I've read a novel and a novella by Mr. Golden and didn't particularly care for either. This story, however, is very good. Not the least bit funny, though it does involve clowns. And it's not some dumb "clown is really a serial killer" story. This tale involves a legendary text, and the secrets of laughter.

    -Mint in Box by Mike Baron. This story included the biggest laugh out loud moment in the entire book ("One to a customer.") And yet, if the reader can get past the premise, it packs an emotional punch. Can't really say why, but I was reminded of Clive Barker as I read this story. Creepy, macabre and funny.

    -Dating After the Apocalypse by Stephen Dorato. I read this story twice because I liked it so much. The date with Carrie was particularly fascinating. The mysterious maladies the characters suffer kept me turning the pages. And it turns out that... no, I better not spoil it.

    -Making the Cut by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn. A cute story with a great cast of quirky characters. These two team up to create the perfect humorous lite horror tale.

    -Short Term by Daniel Pyle. The other story I read twice and still my favorite of the entire anthology. This would have made a phenomenal Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode.

    -Distressed Travelers by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. She always comes up with interesting concepts in her short fiction and this story is no exception. Not a "funny" story, but I found myself grinning with anticipation as the bad guy gets what he deserves.

    -Two for Translyvania by Brad Hodson. I've read some pretty dreadful retreads of horror classics. Thankfully, this is not one of them. This author does a very nice job telling the back story of two legendary literary characters. Dracula meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

    Honorable mentions to Joel Sutherland, Kelley Armstrong, John Alfred Taylor, Norman Prentiss, Don D'Ammassa, and Lisa Morton. I enjoyed their stories too.

    There were a few I didn't care for. Some of the authors tried a little TOO hard to be funny or used gimmicks (maybe I'm guilty of that!). A few others were fine, but as I mentioned before, everyone has a different sense of humor. I think Leslie Nielsen is funny, and Ben Stiller is not, for instance. It stands to reason that no reader will love every story included.

    Ironically, some of the biggest names turned in the most disappointing stories. Heather Graham's Mannequin, for instance: not funny, not horror, not suspenseful. Why is she famous?

    The Great Zombie Invasion of 1979 by J. G. Faherty wasn't a bad story. I would have liked it in a different, more serious anthology. Drunken hillbillies murder a group of survivors of a commercial airplane crash because they are bloody, and stagger like zombies. Not funny! Gut wrenching and sad.

    As I read Bayou Brawl by L.A. Banks, I kept thinking "please let this be a parody...PLEASE let this be a PARODY!" Unfortunately, I don't think it is. If you are in the Twilight, True Blood crowd, this story is for you.

    Finally, Jim Butcher's story was okay. It's not funny. It's not horror. And given a nice set-up, it doesn't even play out with much suspense. But the guy sure has vocal fans. I Was a Teenage Bigfoot ends up on my 'thumbs down' list mostly as a result of said fans. Call me spiteful, but I got pretty sick of reading reviews on Amazon and Goodreads that said: "I bought this anthology for the Jim Butcher story. I skipped the others." or "I bought this for the Dresden story. All the other authors sucked."  I've never experienced such a close-minded, hostile group of fans.

    Overall, I give Blood Lite III: Aftertaste 3.5 of 5 stars. The good stories certainly outweigh the bad.

    And if there's a fourth volume in the series, I humbly submit the subtitle: IV.

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    Early July Update with Links and Pics

    "The writing is reminiscent of Joe Hill." -from a review posted on Amazon June 17th.

    " prepared for twists at the end. It's a wild ride!" -from a review posted on May 1st.

    "Mr. Ludens not only knows how to put a great story on the page, he sticks it right there in the dark corners of your mind. And it's not leaving anytime soon." -from a review posted on April 23rd.

    Positive reviews always brighten the day of *this* brooding author. A no-name author starts by having their work read by friends, family and coworkers. I'll let you in on a secret: I don't personally know any of the readers who posted the above comments. That's one more rung up the ladder!

    If you read something you enjoy, review it! (Amazon, B&N, BAM, Goodreads, and more all provide YOU with a chance to speak your mind. And it helps us authors so much. Remember, it's all about word of mouth. 

    You can find this collection at a special price HERE


    HERE is the only place you can read my 1930's-era horror story "Theater of the Spirit", partially inspired by Boris Karloff's leading lady in The Mummy, Zita Johann.  E-Horror is available for Nook at a very affordable price. (And disregard the 2 reviews currently posted. They're for a previous issue.)

    You can't go wrong with free, right? HERE is a link to Over My Dead Body!, an online mystery web site. My story, "Monday Mourning at the Curl Up & Dye", is featured, along with several other new mystery stories. I see a couple by J.T. Seate. I wonder if this is J. Troy Seate. He and I both have stories in Unspeakable, an anthology of "creature horror" stories from Blood Bound Books.


    Here's a very nice graphic created to help promote some of the books nominated for Bram Stoker Awards. This category is Outstanding Achievement in an Anthology. I had a story ("How to Make a Monster") in Slices of Flesh, an anthology of flash fiction horror stories (all about four pages or less) featuring an incredible list of outstanding authors. I am very thankful to have been a part of it. The winner, Shadow Show, features stories inspired by, and in honor, of Ray Bradbury. I own a copy and heartily recommend it to anyone who loves to read.

    More updates, links and pics coming next week!

    Thanks for reading,

    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Asimov's Find in Deadwood

    I never stop reading. When Crissy and I were in Deadwood recently, we stopped at an antique shop on the edge of town. In their musty basement I found a treasure trove. Not the vintage Weird Tales I often daydream about finding, but something more contemporary: someone's collection of 1980's and 1990's era Asimov's Science Fiction. I cherry-picked a few issues, looking for certain names I recognized. I'm not really a sciend fiction story at all, but I notice the editor always included a story or two that fit my description of weird or fantastic fiction. Among the best stories so far: tales by Tanith Lee and (the always unusual) Avram Davidson. My absolute favorite is "Jenny" by Melanie Tem. A high impact story about a rural family's escalating sorrow following the loss of a family member, it stayed with me long after I'd finished reading it. I'll definitely be looking for her name again.

    And I'm sure the box is still there, if you want to grab a few issues for yourself.

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Another Busy Week! New Links

    HERE is a review from a reader in Georgia who enjoyed my short story collection and even compared my writing to that of Joe Hill! That makes my week!

    If retired blue-collar sheriff Grant Bradley thinks he feels uncomfortable getting his hair cut in a fancy hair salon, wait until he finds out what happened to the customer who was there before him!
    HERE is a direct link to my mystery, "Monday Mourning at the Curl Up and Dye". Now available to read for free at Over My Dead Body!

    "It was an honor just to be nominated." We've all heard that before, but it's true. Although another deserving title (Shadow Show) won the Bram Stoker award for outstanding achievement in an anthology, I am proud that Slices of Flesh was also on the ballot. My story "How to Make A Monster" is included, along with several dozen other excellent flash fiction stories. The list of authors reads like a who's who of horror and I'm fairly certain I am the least-known of all contributors! HERE is a link to read reviews or order your own copy of Slices of Flesh.

    I always want to remind potential readers of my debut collection, Bedtime Stories For Carrion Beetles. Nineteen stories of mystery, horror, supernatural suspense, and the weird West. There's even a sci-fi story that is being made into a short film by a local filmmaker, a steampunk mystery that landed me on the cover of Big Pulp, and a humorous short story that one editor said reminded him of Neil Gaiman! You can order a quality paperback or in Kindle format HERE

    Just sold a very esoteric story based on a dream I had to Robin Wyatt Dunn at Chrome Baby. To quote the editor: "This is an astonishingly beautiful story I would be honored to publish." You don't hear that every day! (Well, I don't, at least.) Currently slated for their August online issue. More details and a link to follow.

    Also upcoming: Coin Return in Woman's World, Coke Mule Deer in Diabolic Tales III, and Reynolds' Tale in Darker Edge of Desire. Thank you to the editors of all three publications for purchasing my work.

    Several others under consideration, a couple of which are short-listed, and two new story ideas percolating in my brain. 2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year!

    Thursday, June 13, 2013

    Five Exciting Links Today!

    HERE is a link to a review I posted for Royce Prouty's novel Stoker's Manuscript. I gave it four stars and enjoyed it very much.

    HERE is a review of Gunslingers and Ghost Stories. My story, "Ghost Soup" is included and mentioned positively in the review (which I did not write!)

    HERE is a direct link to my debut short story collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles. Nineteen tales of horror, mystery, supernatural suspense, and the weird West.

    HERE is where my mystery "Monday Mourning at the Curl Up and Dye", will be posted very soon (some time this week, I believe). Just approved the final copy today. 'Sexting' leads to terrible consequences in a beauty salon in this short story.

    HERE is where you can purchase Morpheus Tales: The Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 3. My story, "A Good Game", shows what happens when two kids use Haitian voodoo to spice up their downstairs playtime. It's nice to share a TOC with Eric S. Brown, Aaron Polson and the late Joseph D'Lacey, and a great group of international horror writers.

    Hopefully readers will find something they like among today's blog selections.

    Next time around, I'll recap my UPCOMING APPEARANCES and review the latest issue of Cemetery Dance.

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    Mini-Mystery Sold to Woman's World

    A few days ago, one of my oldest trunk stories was rejected by a non-paying market. I really like the story, but I can't find an editor who agrees. So I had a moment where I thought to myself: "I can't even give my stories away!" Luckily, the feeling soon passed.

    The next day, I received a letter from Johnene Granger, Fiction Editor of Woman's World. She offered to purchase a mini-mystery I wrote for her consideration. "Coin Return" is slated to appear in the July 25th issues of Woman's World. The story is 700 words. Purchase amount: $500. I carefully read the contract and signed it with a big grin.

    The biggest difference between the stories? I wrote Coin Return in 2013. I wrote the story rejected by the non-paying market back in 2010, and revised it in 2011. I learn something new about writing every week. I like to think each new story is a little better than the last. Perhaps this recent achievement is proof that my writing is improving.

    I am pleased to note that Woman's World's circulation is listed at 1.6 million. I missed with them three times. The fourth story sold. I have already written three more mini-mysteries for their consideration. I plan on writing one new submission every month. You can bet I'll let you know if I sell another one.

    In other news, two other stories I've written have been short-listed by markets that I love. One is a highly-regarded horror magazine, the other is the newest anthology from my favorite small press. Sending positive thoughts for both stories, but in the meantime, I've completed three new stories in the last six weeks (a torrid pace for me) and have roughly outlined two more.


    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    The Ups and Downs of Self-Publishing and Self-Promoting

    I self-published my debut collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles, using Create Space. I selected nineteen previously-published stories. I felt hesitant about publishing any stories that weren't reprints. Why? I think I lacked the confidence to know which stories were "good enough". If a magazine or anthology editor selected it for publication, I felt better about including it. Even then, however, I revised, polished and made minor corrections to every story. For many, I benefited from the expertise and input of members from my local critique group. After nearly two years of editing the stories included (and dropping a few weak links along the way), I felt I had a quality product that I wouldn't be embarrassed by a stranger (or, for that matter, a friend, family member, acquaintance or coworker!) reading my stories.

    My sister, Heidi, took the cover photo. My stepdaughter, Ashley, took the author photo. My writer friend, Karen, helped me set up a couple book signings and printed business cards for me. Hopefully everyone is getting a clear picture that this was "homemade" all the way.

    More good news: As of this writing, six readers have posted reviews on Amazon. They're all five-star reviews. I greatly appreciate it when a reader takes the time to give feedback. I received a nice review on the horror web site Hellnotes from K. H. Vaughan. I received something like 34 'likes' for the review, which far surpassed 'likes' for other reviews posted. Again, greatly appreciated!

    Now for the challenge of Self-Promotion: Last month, I conducted a contest and gave away a free book and a free exclusive story. This month I've been giving some behind-the-scenes author notes on all the stories collected in Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles. I sent out fifteen query letters, asking potential reviewers if they would like a copy of my book to read and review.

    I humbly note that I got two new subscribers to my blog, got one response to my query letters, and have sold a total of three books in the last six weeks.

    That doesn't sound like a lot. It doesn't feel like a lot. Turns out promoting one's work is harder (and less fun) than simply writing!

    So here's what I decided: I'll keep promoting myself and my work, but not at the expense of my writing. After not being very productive for the last several months, I have completed TWO brand-new stories, and am about half-way done with the first draft of a third.

    That, to me, is time well spent.

    Here's a link to order my collection, if you feel so inclined.

    This is a link to the Hellnotes review of my collection.

    Tuesday, April 30, 2013

    Hellnotes Gives "Bedtime Stories..." A Positive Review

    K. H. Vaughan has read and reviewed my collection "Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles" on Hellnotes.

    "The author experiments with a variety of narrative and voice styles, giving the stories some variety, but they hold in common relatively tight, controlled prose punctuated by the occasional striking image or unexpected twist...Ludens appears to have a strong interest in tapping folklore and history for his work.  There is also a theme of body horror present, with several effective stories about parasites, invading insects, and taxidermy.  Overall, I would describe the tone of the volume as understated, wistful, and somewhat sad.  Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles was a creepy pleasant surprise, and I am looking forward to seeing more of his work."

    Read the full review HERE.

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    Upcoming Published Stories and Some Story Notes

    Recently published stories:

    "Life and Limb" in Blood Rites: An Invitation to Horror (Blood Bound Books)

    "Granted Wishes" in Dark Light 2 (CHBB Publishing) 

    Coming soon:

    "Monday Mourning at the Curl Up & Dye" in Over My Dead Body! (online, May issue)


    "Sweet Tea and MamaLady" in Dark Eclipse (online, not yet scheduled)

    "Coke Mule Deer" in Diabolic Tales III (October 31st, 2013, Diabolic Publications)

    "Reynolds' Tale" in Darker Edge of Desire (Spring 2014, Cleis Press)

    Notes about the stories:
    I had to change a small part of Life and Limb to differentiate it (thematically) from Joe McKinney's story. I was happy to do it. The fact that we came up with stories the editor felt were too similar seems like a step in the right direction for an up-and-comer like me!

    As of this writing, Dark Light 2 is only available in ebook format, but will be in quality paperback soon.

    Cherie Jung, the editor of Over My Dead Body, said "Your title is the best title I've read in years!" (And she liked the story, too! haha)

    Coke Mule Deer is a story that had been accepted twice before, but once the publisher folded and the second time the anthology got dropped. Here's hoping the third time is the charm! Coke Mule Deer actually contains a scene that inspired the title of my first collection!

    Did you know that when Edgar Allan Poe was found wandering, delirious on the streets of Baltimore, he was wearing clothing that did not fit and did not belong to him? Nurses said he remained incoherent until he died, but several noted that he kept yelling the name "Reynolds". I wanted to write about the events that led to Poe's unfortunate end, and came up with "Reynolds' Tale." 

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    Contests! (aka Shameless - but much needed - Promotion!)

    Hi there! Thanks for visiting my blog.

    I have been told that 'word of mouth' is the best promotion for an up-and-coming author. With that in mind, I'd like to offer some incentives (prizes) for getting the word out about me and my debut collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    CONTEST # 1

    1) If you already own a copy of Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles, and have finished reading it, visit Amazon and write a brief review. Let other readers know what you thought of the book, and help get the word out.

    2) Post a reply here, or send me a message on Facebook, letting me know you wrote a review.

    3) On April 14th, I will RANDOMLY select one winner from all reviewers. That person will receive a PDF of an exclusive, unpublished story of mine. The randomly-selected winner will be the ONLY person to own this story.

    CONTEST # 2
    If you do not yet own a copy of Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles, this contest is for you.

    1) Become a follower of my blog. There are several easy ways to do so. I'll make note of all new followers.

    2) On April 14th, I will draw a RANDOM winner from all new followers. That person will win a free copy of Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles. I will contact the winner to discuss format and delivery method.
    (or, if you already own the book, but are not yet a follower of my blog, I can offer an exclusive story PDF instead.)

    Thank you and good luck! I greatly appreciate your help getting the word out!

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Random News and Musings

    HERE is the best place to go to order a copy of my collection, "Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles." I also have copies available at home and work for those of you who live in Rapid City or the Black Hills. My advertising budget is nonexistent, so any word-of-mouth, posting of reviews or sharing the link is greatly appreciated!
    Random news and musings:
    The dark fiction community lost three wonderful authors very recently. Author/editor David B. Silva, James Herbert, and Rick Hautala. A very sobering reminder that you never know when your time will be up.

    I didn't know any of them personally, and won't pretend that I did. I own an anthology that Mr. Silva edited (Dead End: City Limits) but haven't read it yet. (This isn't unusual. I probably have over fifty books that I haven't read yet.) Rick Hautala was a friend on Facebook. I often agreed with his liberal posts and often laughed at his humorous posts. I love short fiction and have read quite a few of his stories in a variety of different anthologies. I could tell he loved writing horror.
    I just realized I had the honor of sharing a table of contents with Rick Hautala. We both contributed flash fiction stories to Slices of Flesh from Dark Moon Books. The collection boasts a stellar line-up of horror and dark fiction authors, and made the final ballot for Superior Achievement in an Anthology at this year's Bram Stoker Awards.
    Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste is still widely available. Included is my story, "A Misadventure to Call Your Own". This was my first professional sale. I'm very thankful that Kevin Anderson enjoyed my story and took a chance on a no-name author like me.

    As I read the reviews people posted for this collection I feel frustrated, however. It seems the majority of readers purchased this anthology just for one short story from one author. Typical comments are: "I bought it for the story by _______. I didn't read any of the other stories." or a variation: "I bought it for the story by ______. I read the others but they all sucked because they weren't like the story by ________."

    I suppose it is naive of me to think that droves of new readers will 'discover' my writing. It makes me appreciate and respect those readers who do take the time to read an anthology straight through. I love anthologies because of the VARIETY they provide.
    I've been short-listed for a couple of very promising anthologies. I've been writing and revising stories as time allows. I have about a dozen short stories currently under consideration. As good as 2012 was, it paled in comparison to 2011. Here's hoping 2013 continues its exciting start and brings good news and new opportunities.

    Thank you for reading.

    Saturday, March 9, 2013

    Dark Light 2 Cover Sneak Peek

    Coming in March 2013, is Dark Light 2. My story, "Granted Wishes" is included.
    The first volume garnered very positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads so I am excited to read this second volume.

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    Diabolic Tales III

    DT3 will be available for digital download for the Kindle and the Nook, and for pre-order of the trade paperback on October 15, 2013. From Diabolic Publications.

    My story, "Coke Mule Deer", will be included. Inspired by a sad scene I witnessed in New Mexico many years ago.

    A serial killer flees Mexican authorities, a hungry mountain lion, and a vengeful witch in this adventure. Interesting side note: the carrion beetles that inspired me to name my first collection ("Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles") figure prominently in this story!

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

    A Trio of Titles

    First, Blood Rites is now available from Blood Bound Books. I read it cover to cover. Highly recommended. For what it's worth, Lisa Morton, Joe McKinney, and Jeff Strand all made the final ballot (in different categories) for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards, and they all contributed to this anthology. My story, "Life and Limb" is included as well. Order a copy here.

    Second, I can now officially add one more tiny notch in my keyboard: Slices of Flesh, from Dark Moon Books made the final ballot for Outstanding Achievement in the Anthology category for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards. Congrats to Stan Swanson, the DMB staff and all the enormously talented authors included. This is a flash fiction horror anthology with a LOT of exciting authors. My story "How to Make A Monster" is included. Order a copy here.

    Third, Dark Light 2 will be available soon. This is an urban fantasy anthology. More details (and maybe even an updated cover photo) coming soon!

    Monday, February 11, 2013

    Blood Rites Now Available!

    To order the latest Blood Bound Books anthology, BLOOD RITES: An Invitation to Horror, go HERE!

    I've read this anthology cover to cover and there's not a bad story contained within. I couldn't even pick a favorite because several of the stories immediately spring to mind as contenders for "Favorite". The entries by Aric Sundquist, Maria Alexander, and Daniel O'Connor definitely make the list.

    Horror fans are sure to recognize the likes of Brian Lumley, Joe McKinney, Lisa Morton, and Jeff Strand, all of whom turn in strong tales.

    My story, "Life and Limb" is included as well.

    I love working with this publisher. Please support them by purchasing a copy of Blood Rites or any of their previously published anthologies.


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