Monday, December 12, 2011

Seventh Star Singles: An innovative new eBook line!

Welcome to Seventh Star Singles! It is an exciting and creative approach to eBooks involving the writers of various series with us. Steven Shrewsbury has two new Gorias La Gaul Adventures, and Stephen Zimmer has three new tales set in Ave (of the Fires in Eden Series) and one new one from the world of the Rising Dawn Saga.

They are just 99 cents, and available now on Kindle (Nook should be available by this evening).

The stories are stand-alone tales, but they offer more material to the fans of the various series.

Steven Shrewsbury's new collection is called Blood and Steel: Legends of La Gaul

Stephen Zimmer's are titled the Chronicles of Ave and the Annals of the Rising Dawn.

Expect these collections to grow in the months to come!

The full press release can be found here:

And for a breakdown of the first six eBook short stories, visit here:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pick of the Week: Blood Sword, by Terry W. Ervin II

Pick of the Week (#12): Blood Sword, by Terry W. Ervin II
(Gryphonwood Press)
-Selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:The Necromancer King has been defeated and his surviving forces are in retreat. But a new threat marches against the Kingdom of Keesee, promising destruction. Scouting along the western frontier, Flank Hawk and Grand Wizard Seelain discover an army massing, the army of Fendra Jolain, Goddess of Healing. Weakened and battle weary, Keesee and her allies cannot withstand Fendra Jolain's powerful army of men and beasts arrayed against them. One hope of survival remains: Retrieve the Blood Sword from the immortal Colonel of the West and bring its sinister strength to the battlefield. To accomplish this end, Flank Hawk accompanies Grand Wizard Seelain as she leads a mission across land and sea. Together they find new allies while confronting new foes, learning that the war ravaging Keesee is part of a larger struggle whose roots stretch back to the First Civilization's Fall. If the Blood Sword can be obtained, it must be done quickly. Every day means more death for the defenders of Keesee. Every day is one day closer to utter defeat. Even if Flank Hawk can deliver the Blood Sword to King Tobias's hand in time, will the malevolent blade's magic be enough?

The Author: Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. He is an editor for MindFlights, a guest columnist for Fiction Factor and is the author of two novels and over two dozen short stories and articles. Flank Hawk was his debut novel. When Terry isn't writing or enjoying time with his wife and daughters, he can be found in his basement raising turtles. To contact Terry, or to learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at

The Publisher: Founded in 2004 as a fantasy print/webzine, Gryphonwood Press publishes speculative fiction novels in print, including epic and modern fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, and adventure with a touch of the supernatural. Gryphonwood is committed to introducing talented new voices to the field of speculative fiction. The roster of Gryphonwood Press includes authors such as David Wood, Jim Bernheimer, Terry W. Ervin II, and Sherry Thompson. Visit Gryphonwood Press on the web at

My Comments: Blood Sword is simply an outstanding fantasy novel. Terry Ervin is really developing something very special with his First Civilization's Legacy series. I should say right away that the book would work well as a stand alone or in conjunction with his first novel, Flank Hawk (which is also the nickname of a main character in the series). As in his first novel, Terry weaves in a number of mythical creatures, putting his own stamp on each of them. From Centaurs to Griffins, and some very nasty sea creatures, there is much to encounter around every turn as Flank Hawk and his companions go on a very harrowing journey. The Necromancer of the first book was a great adversary, but Blood Sword ratchets up things up even more with a new, very powerful enemy. There is a really nice balance between action and character development. Some of the characters, like Lilly, really grow on you, and Terry has a knack for making them live and breath. Blood Sword is a tremendous installment in one of the most inventive and compelling fantasy sagas I have read in years.


So make Blood Sword by Terry W. Ervin II (from Gryphonwood Press) the SSP Blog Pick of the Week!

Pick up Blood Sword today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spec the Halls: Holiday Season Charity Project

Today, we are passing along a guest post from Steven Saus, regarding a new charity project he is involved in. Steven is an author, teacher, and operates independent eBook services, and is one of the good guys of the small press/self-publishing world. We hope you give this project a look!
Stephen Z

Spec the Halls

My name is Steven Saus; I'm an author and publisher. I run Alliteration Ink, where I both publish original work and also provide publishing services. This year, I've taken up the mantle of running Spec The Halls from Abra Staffin-Wiebe. There's both a writing contest and a charity fundraiser. Right now, I'm doing a bit of a blog tour to support the fundraiser; each entry talks about something different, so you'll want to stop by them all. You can see a full linklist of the guest posts at and read more about the whole project (and get the charity eBook) at

I've already been asked a few times why Spec The Halls is only going to be available in digital formats.

First, I want to point out that if you get the eBook from our website, not only will more of the purchase price be going to charity, but you'll get more formats. You will get a PDF as well as the ePub (iBooks, nook, Kobo, Sony) and Kindle formats. Basically, if you have a computer, you'll be able to read it.

Second, it means that more of the money can go to charity. If I printed the book (about 150 pages if you made it a trade paperback size), it would cost a few dollars a book - and that's not counting what the retailers take. Because the authors donated the stories, Kathleen Tennant donated the cover art, and I do eBook conversions myself, there are neither up-front or per-unit costs. More money for Heifer International!

Third, this eBook is only available for a short time for the fundraiser. When the fundraiser is over, I won't have excess inventory to worry about!

Finally, digital distribution means that we can do innovative things with the book - like accepting reciepts for donations that people make on their own instead of requiring people to pay me directly.

It's that kind of flexibility that made it obvious that this project required digital-only distribution.

This year's edition of Spec The Halls is only available for a limited time, so act quickly to get your copy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday-New Books Available!

Today is Small Business Saturday in the United States, a day in which shoppers are encouraged to support the independent, more localized business. A small press definitely falls under the category of a small business, so we hope you will give our titles a look today, whether you pick up an eBook on Kindle or Nook, order a softcover on, or pick up something from our own online store.

We have two brand new releases available now in Kindle, Nook, and softcover. The pricing on our eBooks, as always, is just $2.99.

If you like urban fantasy, we have Angelkiller, Book One of the Angelkiller Triad, from H. David Blalock.

Kindle Link for Angelkiller

If you like fantasy, we have The Fall of Dorkhun, from D.A. Adams, the latest in his Brotherhood of Dwarves series.

Kindle Link for The Fall of Dorkhun

Both books feature some outstanding interior artwork, Angelkiller's was done by Matthew Perry and The Fall of Dorkhun's was done by Bonnie Wasson.

Give one of our titles a look today as one of your gift purchases.

Like YA Fantasy? Try Jackie Gamber's Redheart
Like Sword and Sorcery? Try Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall
Like epic fantasy? Try Stephen Zimmer's Fires in Eden Series (Crown of Vengeance, Dream of Legends)
Like horror? Try Michael West's Cinema of Shadows
Want to try epic-scale urban fantasy? Try Stephen Zimmer's Rising Dawn Saga (The Exodus Gate, The Storm Guardians, and The Seventh Throne)

Every one of them can be found in softcover, Kindle, Nook, on the iBookstore, and at other eReader vendors. A few still have some limited edition hardcovers left at the Seventh Star Press online store

We hope you will participate in Small Business Saturday, and pick up a nice gift from Seventh Star Press!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thank You to Our Readers

With the holiday week, we won't be having our Pick of the Week or featured blog post, both of which will resume next week.

We do want to take a moment, in light of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, to say a few things to you, our readers.

We are always grateful to you, an appreciate each and every time you share a link, tell a friend, or buy a book from one of our authors. You come first with us, as authors and publishers cannot exist without you. You are the reason we are here, and we want you to know that we put every ounce of resource, time, and effort into bringing you the best books that we can.

As we grow, you can expect even more, as we strive to always improve in what we are able to offer you. Publishing is one of the hardest industries, in the midst of a very difficult time economically, but your support helps us to move forward and support our authors in every way we are able.

Just know that every time you pass a link, make a post, put up a review on or a similar outlet, or buy a book or other item related to Seventh Star Press, we deeply appreciate it.

Thank you!

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Emerging Issue With Online Book Ratings: The No-Review Review, and Non-Book Related Rating

An Emerging Issue With Online Book Ratings: The No-Review Review, and Non-Book Related Rating
by Frank Hall

There is an increasing problem that needs to be dealt with soon. Unfortunately, I am not sure what to do about it. It's been happening for years, but now that ebooks are really coming into the fold, it's becoming more and more of a problem.

Stephen King's newest book just came out. Now, this is Stephen King I am using as an example, so I know that he is not going to be hurt by bad reviews. As of right now there are 10 reviews that are 1 star reviews on Amazon. Of those, 9 are just complaining about the price of the ebook.

We license people to drive cars. If you don’t have a license, you can't drive a car. We do this because if you can't drive, you can hurt yourself or others. Maybe we need to license people to use the internet. Now this has been a running joke for a while, but I think it is something that might need to be done. Maybe not a license for the entire internet, but maybe websites like amazon should put a hold on people's accounts like most forums do. For the first 6 months, everything you post will be reviewed before it is actually posted.

Like I said, Stephen King is not going to get hurt by a bad review. But what about all of the indie authors out there that only get a small amount of reviews? What about someone who is not reviewing the book, but making a comment about how Amazon took three days instead of two to ship them their book, or the fact that the Publisher has set the ebook price at 8.99, and that is way too much to pay for an ebook. A single bad review wont kill someone like getting behind the wheel of a car might, but it will damage an indie author's sales and their ability to make a living.

The world has gone digital. We are a digital society, and we need to start putting common sense, and at least some guidelines in place in cyberspace, like we would in real life. Like I said, I am not sure what the solution is, but we need to work on finding one.

UPDATE (as I finished this blog post): There are now 14 reviews of Stephen King's book, 3 of which have actual reviews of the book.

--Frank Hall
Owner of That Book Place and Hydra Publications

Visit the sites for That Book Place and Hydra Publications:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pick of the Week: Crab Town, by Carlton Mellick III

Pick of the Week (#11): Crab Town, by Carlton Mellick III
(Eraserhead Press)
-Selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book:In this town, everyone's a bottom feeder...

Five desperate criminals are robbing one of the last remaining banks in Freedom City, a town devastated by the previous nuclear war. But these are no ordinary criminals. They are members of the House of Cards, an organization designed to help the less fortunate citizens of the city. In a place where the poor are separated from the rich, jobs are as scarce as clean water, and even the doctors are as corrupt as the politicians, the House of Cards are a final beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless world.

Featuring: radiation fetishists, balloon people, mutant crabs, sail-bike road warriors, and a love affair between a woman and an H-Bomb. This is one mean asshole of a city.

Welcome to Crab Town

The Author: Carlton Mellick III is one of the leading authors in the new Bizarro genre uprising. Since 2001, his surreal counterculture novels have drawn an international cult following despite the fact that they have been shunned by most libraries and corporate bookstores. He lives in Portland, OR, the Bizarro fiction mecca.

Visit the author's site at:

The Publisher: Founded in 1999, Eraserhead Press is an independent publishing company with a focus on Bizarro Fiction, with an aim to bring you the weirdest most fun to read books you'll ever find. For more information about Bizarro Fiction visit:

To visit the publisher's site, visit:

My Comments: Crab Town was my first foray into the messed up mind of Carlton Mellick III, and I enjoyed every single sentence of it! I originally picked Crab Town up because of it's awesome cover, and then fell in love with it after reading the synopsis for it.

With Crab Town, Mellick has managed to pack 85 pages with as many ideas as possible, without taking away from the story. Each page pops with two to three concepts that Mellick manages to blend together so well, without taking the reader out of the ridiculousness of it. (After the first few pages, your mind quickly realizes and adjusts to all of the crazy, twisted ideas of the story.)

It doesn't take much to trip my trigger, and immediately upon opening the book, several things jumped out at me that grabbed my attention: crime (the House of Cards, a crime organization created to help the less fortunate), crustecians (for which a specific part of town is named after), post-apocalyptic setting (Crab Town takes place after a nuclear war), and the novella length format (short enough to enjoy in only a few sittings, but long enough to get a full story). And ultimately it's a story of people who have nothing, trying to help others who are in the same situation, told each chapter from a different main character's point of view. Add to it the fear of debt and the extremes that people will go to in order to demolish such a burden from their shoulders, and you have Crab Town.

Not only is the cover art beautiful, but the genesis of the novella was brilliant, and I'm glad all the more for picking this quick read up based solely off of the cover art. If you've got a taste for the strange, weird or bizarre, or you're unsure of what Bizarro is, then check out


So make Crab Town the SSP Blog Pick of the Week!

Pick up Crab Town today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:



Monday, November 14, 2011

Seventh Star Press Announces Legacy of the Gods, the New Urban Fantasy Series from Michael West

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2011

Seventh Star Press Proudly Announces New Four Book Urban Fantasy Series From Michael West

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce Legacy of the Gods, an exciting new urban fantasy series from Michael West that begins with Poseidon's Children.  Four titles are scheduled in the series.  The award-winning horror author's foray into urban fantasy is his second series with Seventh Star Press, joining his Harmony Indiana novels in a schedule that will see two books a year released from the prolific author.

Poseidon's Children has already received high praise from Maurice Broaddus, whose series, The Knights of Breton  Court, has been making big waves in the urban fantasy world.  As Maurice commented, “Poseidon’s Children is some of Michael West’s best writing and storytelling!”

As with all Seventh Star Press novels, the books will feature interior artwork, with covers and illustrations being done by acclaimed fantasy/horror artist Matthew Perry.  His artwork appears in other Seventh Star Press releases from Jackie Gamber, H.David Blalock, Stephen Shrewsbury, and Stephen Zimmer.

"This has been an epic story that I have been passionate about for a long time, an idea that would not let go of my brain, it just kept growing, and growing, demanding that I start writing it all down,” Michael said in regards to the upcoming series.  “I've talked about wanting to do this series for years, and my faithful readers kept asking me, 'When are you going to do that? When is it coming out?'  Well, I'm happy to say that the answer is now, and I am so pleased that Seventh Star Press has given me the opportunity to finally make this dark, horrific, fantastical dream a reality."

In Poseidon's Children, man no longer worships the old gods; forgotten and forsaken, they have become nothing more than myth and legend. But all that is about to change. After the ruins of a vast, ancient civilization are discovered on the ocean floor, Coast Guard officers find a series of derelict ships drifting in the current--high-priced yachts and leaking fishing boats, all ransacked, splattered in blood, their crews missing and presumed dead.

And that's just the beginning.

Vacationing artist Larry Neuhaus has just witnessed a gruesome shark attack, a young couple torn apart right before his eyes ... at least, he thinks it was a shark. And when one of these victims turns out to be the only son of Roger Hays, the most powerful man in the country, things go from bad to worse. Now, to stop the carnage,Larry and his new-found friends must work together to unravel a mystery as old as time, and face an enemy as dark as the ocean depths.

Michael West is a fast rising force in the speculative fiction world. His work includes novels such as The Wide Game (Graveside Tales), Cinema of Shadows (Seventh Star Press) and a single author collection, Skull Full of Kisses (Graveside Tales). He also has an array of short fiction published, spanning many magazines and anthologies, including appearances in Shroud Magazine, and the Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

Amanda DeBord will be handling editing duties on Poseidon's Children and the other three Legacy of the Gods titles.

"Seventh Star Press is simply amazing to work with,” Michael commented. “They know good fiction, put out hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions of the highest quality, and they support their authors and releases more
than any other publisher in the business. I could not be happier to be working with them on my Harmony, Indiana books and now the Legacy series."

The projected release date window for Poseidon's Children is March of 2012, with versions released in limited hardcover, trade paperback, and several eBook formats, such Kindle, iPad, the Nook, and Sony/Sony compatible eBook reading devices. The second novel is slated for spring of 2013, with other titles to follow on an annual basis.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at, or at the author's site,

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
email: ccjames at

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Angelkiller Video Trailer

Here's a brand new video trailer for the H. David Blalock novel Angelkiller, Book One of the Angelkiller Triad from Seventh Star Press.

There are still limited hardcover packages available for pre-order for about the next week and a half. Only 75 will be issued of this first limited hardcover edition of the exciting new urban fantasy series. Be sure that you get one of these sharp editions! Visit the online store today!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

For the Self-Published: The Do-and-Do-Not's on How to get Reviewed

For the Self-Published: The Do-and-Do-Not's on How to get Reviewed
-by Rodney Carlstrom

Okay, so you've written a novel. Now, let's assume that you're capable of holding it in your hands, or you've received the finished product; whether it's dead tree or space on your hard-drive. The next step is getting it into the hands of readers. Obviously, the strongest form of marketing is word of mouth. That's where people like myself (a reviewer), come into play.

For those who might not know, or are interested from a reviewer's perspective, here are some ways to avoid getting your work ignored, badly reviewed, or discarded.

Most people who run review sites have a set of rules they follow. Before you decide to up and send said site your book for reviewing, make sure that they take self-published works, and that your novel fits the bill for the specified genres that they are willing to review. If you're novel fits the bill for the site, the next step is to contact the person(s) who run it.

Every site should have some form of contact information available to visitors. If there isn't, then the next best way to contact the reviewer is by leaving a message, whether it be in the response section to a recent post, or, for the desperate, hunting them down on Facebook (which might seem stalkerish. Do this at your own risk).

Some would recommend that you use a form letter if you decide to contact more than a handful of reviewers. Others would suggest writing the initial letter so that each is authentic and personal. To me it doesn't matter, although I can tell instantly which one is used. This might matter to some reviewers, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just as long as you hit the main points: who you are, the title of your book, what it's about, if it's part of a series, and your interest in sending them a copy to review. Whichever method you decide to go with, make sure it's professional and courteous.

Once initial contact has been made, and a decision has been finalized in regards to the delivery of your novel, send your work forth to be devoured by hungry and objective eyes.

This next bit is crucial. For no reason should you do any of the following:

-Send a manuscript of your novel. Unless the reviewer specifies that it's alright to do so, don't. Not even if you've only released your novel in e-book form.

-Consistently e-mail or contact the reviewer to see if they've read your book yet, or to get their thoughts on it. Wait. Sooner or later you're going to find out, that's the whole point of a review. And by constantly contacting the reviewer you will not only make them annoyed, but it could very well land you with no review to speak of. Now, if it's been awhile, and you haven't heard anything about your book, then it's okay to send an inquiring e-mail. Otherwise, don't worry.

-And when the review does surface in regards to your work, even if it's a negative review, post it. Any publicity is good publicity.

-Don't argue with the reviewer, because ultimately what they've written in regards to your novel is their own opinion. They're just one person. If it upsets you, then too bad, grow thick skin and move on.

If you can manage to follow these steps, and avoid pissing the reviewer off, then you're set to get feedback and publicity for your newest piece of work.


Be sure to visit The SciFi Guys Book Review blog or add them on Twitter at the following links:

Rodney's personal blog and Twitter page can be found at:
The Bloody Pen

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pick of the Week: Choices Meant for Gods, by Sandy Lender

Pick of the Week (#10): Choices Meant for Gods, by Sandy Lender
(ArcheBooks Publishing)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

The Author:Fantasy enthusiasts will recognize Sandy Lender as the author of the breakout novel Choices Meant for Gods and a leader of workshops on world-building and characterization. Her four-year degree in English and seventeen-year career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations.

Learn more about Sandy at

The Publisher: ArcheBooks Publishing is an independent commercial trade publisher of original Hardcover Editions, our own proprietary paperback ArcheBookZine, and eBooks (PDF and Kindle).

Visit their site at:

My Comments: Choices Meant for Gods was Sandy Lender's first novel, and what a debut novel it was! Well-written, imaginative, and full of diverse, distinctive characters, the novel is the first of the "Choices" trilogy.

Chariss is a very strong heroine, and is complimented very well by Nigel Taiman, who she becomes very inclined towards later in the story. It is a world where gods walk the earth in human form, a pantheon containing an array of individuals with different personalities and interests. Anyone familiar with Roman, Greek, or Norse gods will easily connect with these characters. On the other side of the equation is Jamieson Drake and Julette, a dragon who walks the earth in human form. The conflict between the two villains make for a very interesting element within the book. Overall, it is a fantastic book that readers of fantasy and those who enjoy myths about Roman/Greek-style pantheons.


So make Choices Meant for Gods the SSP Blog Pick of the Week.

Pick up Choices Meant for Gods Today! Direct hardcover and Kindle links below:



Saturday, November 5, 2011

Advice on Three Things Authors Can Bring a Blog Site That Are Good For Both

Advice on Three Things Authors Can Bring a Blog Site That Are Good For Both
by Stephen Zimmer

One of the best avenues for authors of all levels, major press, small press, and self-published, for raising awareness is the growing literary blogosphere. In every genre, there are growing numbers of active bloggers that cover new releases, do reviews, interviews, and much more.

Obviously, authors want reviews of their books, and this is a primary focus of most of these blog sites. Most blog reviewers, after publishing a review on their own blog, will cross-post the review to other highly important sites for authors such as, Goodreads, Shelfari, Barnes and Noble, and others.

But beyond the reviews, there are three areas in which an author can participate with a blogger, each of which is of direct benefit to the blogger and their site. These are; interviews, giveaways contests, and guest posts by the author.

The three areas also provide an opening for an author on a blog that is not accepting new reviews, due to having a large TBR (To-Be-Read) pile. As many sites are deluged with new books from publishers of all sizes, the authors that have the flexibility to participate in each of the three areas raises the chances for increasing the number of blogs they are exposed on.

Let's take a look at the trio, one by one:

1. The Interview. Blog reviewers will conduct interviews in a variety of ways. I have experienced some that send you a question at a time, almost like an ongoing conversation (such as one I did on the blog site of author Terry Ervin, writer of Flank Hawk). Others will send you a standard list of questions, and still others will customize the interview to you.

A few reviewers will want to read your book before doing an interview, but many do not have such a policy. This provides a nice opening for the blogger and you to get to know each other a little better before they read your work.

My advice regarding interviews is to work to make them conversational in tone. Do not worry about making them “formal” or perfect, literary-wise. It is tempting to do that, since it is a written interview. Just keep in mind it is not an essay, but an interview for a potential or current reader to learn more about you. Try to keep the tone similar to how you would be on a radio or podcast interview. This will make it more interesting, and it will also allow for more of your personality to be reflected.

When doing multiple interviews, you will sometimes come across similar questions. Answer them uniquely, as they happen, and do not “cut and paste” answers from early interviews where you responded to a similar question. While your answers might ultimately be quite similar when addressing similar questions, it is disingenuous to cut and paste responses. Providing unique answers shows proper respect to both the blogger and the reviewer, and you just may discover that you put a few different things into the responses that give your readers more to glean about you.

2. The Giveaway Contest: Giveaway contests are fantastic ways to expose yourself to new potential readers, as everyone likes the idea of winning prizes, or getting something for free. An author always has to take cost into account, as with most blog sites, the author is responsible for mailing the winner their book (the blog will typically just email you the winner's mailing address).

The cost for an author in postage and mailer will often be close to the cost of the book itself, in regards to a trade paperback of around 250-300 pages. Be careful of taking on too many prizes and contests, as things can add up in a hurry. Ebook giveways are a less costly option, as even gifting a Kindle edition is fairly inexpensive, and ePubs are free.

My advice regarding giveaways is to make the most out of them, especially in terms of building up your social networks. Most blog sites will have a system for allowing extra entries into the contest if the participant joins the author's own blog, Facebook page, twitter site, etc. A contest can result in several new adds to each of your social networking pages, which definitely does not hurt in terms of promoting your work. The blog sites will also often allow extra entries if the participant puts a Facebook post up or tweets about the contest, which puts the author's name out there even more.

Make use of these tools to maximize the benefits of sponsoring a giveaway contest on a blog site. The blogger will appreciate your participation too, as they won't mind being able to offer their readers some perks in the way of free books.

3. The Guest Post. Guest posts are a great way for potential readers to get to know you, as well as providing rich new content for the blog site, something a blogger will really appreciate. Some bloggers will suggest a topic to write about, and others will leave things wide open. Just be sure to stick to any parameters you are given, in terms of word count, and if you are given a topic, stay on it. If you are not given a topic, I suggest to try to get an idea of what the blogger's readership might enjoy, perhaps covering something relating to the genre of the site that has not been used in a post as of yet.

My advice regarding guest blog posts is to try and make them either very useful, or very interesting, such that readers will be tempted to share the link via Facebook or Twitter, maximizing your exposure. Give readers a reason to dive into your post. Do not forget to include links at the end of your post for your own website, Facebook page, etc. Give readers every way to find you, even if you have multiple links/social networks. Not all readers are on every social network.

The blogosphere is a fantastic place to raise awareness and secure interviews. It is growing larger by the moment, both in size and importance as eBooks increase in market share. Do not hesitate to reach out to bloggers, and explore ways to engage of activities that are of mutual benefit. Interviews, contests, and guest posts bring content of interest to a blogger's readership, while also promoting you and your work. Treat each instance uniquely, conduct yourself professionally, and you'll find yourself making headway without spending a large amount of money, never a bad thing for the typically cash-strapped author!

-Stephen Zimmer

To find out more about Stephen or connect with him, visit the following:

Stephen's Website
Facebook Page
Twitter Page
Blog Site
and also on Google+ and GoodReads

Monday, October 31, 2011

SSP's Latest Release, The Fall of Dorkhun by D.A. Adams, Cover Art and Hardcover Offer Unveiled!

For Immediate Release
November 1, 2011
D.A. Adam's The Fall of Dorkhun, Book Three of the Brotherhood of Dwarves Series, Unveiled with Limited Edition Hardcover Offer

Seventh Star Press proudly announces The Fall of Dorkhun, Book Three of the Brotherhood of Dwarves series by D.A. Adams.

The Fall of Dorkhun is now available for pre-order in both limited edition hardcover and softcover versions, both of which include special packages of collectibles. The limited edition hardcover run of 75 signed and numbered copies marks the newest addition to a growing line of affordable, high quality hardcover editions published by Seventh Star Press. The limited edition hardcover features an exclusive illustration commission not found in any other version, as well as a special signature page and unique ISBN number.

The Fall of Dorkhun also marks the debut of Seventh Star Press' newest artist, Bonnie Wasson. Bonnie created the cover art and illustrations for The Fall of Dorkhun, as well as for the forthcoming reissues of book one and book two in the series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, and Red Skies at Dawn. She joins Matthew Perry in producing some of the finest quality presentations in the small press world, creating an exciting and fast-growing collection of speculative fiction artwork in the process.

(two of the interior illustrations by Bonnie Wasson for The Fall of Dorkhun)

The Fall of Dorkuhn continues the story of the dwarf Roskin. In the newest adventure of the series, Roskin returns home to a kingdom divided by war with the ogres. On one side, his father desires to restore peace, but on the other, Master Sondious, seeking revenge for having been crippled, seeks to escalate aggression against the ogres Roskin and his friends make a desperate attempt to resolve the growing rift, but unknown to the dwarves, new and powerful menaces threaten to destroy the entire kingdom...

Living and working in East Tennessee, D. A. Adams is an established novelist, a farmer, a professor of English, and has contributed writing to literary as well as fine art publications. He also maintains an active blog, entitled "The Ramblings of D. A. Adams".

Limited edition hardcover and special softcover collectors packages include an assortment of collectible extras, such as a 14X20 art poster, bookmarks, a set of glossy art cards, a magnet, and a pair of buttons. Packages are scheduled to be shipped the second week of December, when the trade paperback will be made available everywhere, along with several eBook formats, including the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Sony eReaders and other electronic reading devices.

The Fall of Dorkhun was edited by Philip Hopkins. Book One, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, and Book Two, Red Skies at Dawn, will be reissued by the end of 2011, with two more books remaining in the series.

Those wanting to reserve one of the 75 limited edition hardcovers, or pre-order a softcover collectors package, should visit Seventh Star Press' online store at

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's site at

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Pick of Week: Asylum, by Mark Allan Gunnells

Pick of the Week (#9): Asylum, by Mark Allan Gunnells
(Zombie Feed Press)
-selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book:Curtis, a young college student is dragged to his first gay club by his best friend Jimmy for a night of dancing, drinking and sex... at least until the dead start to rise and attack the club. Trapped inside the Asylum are a small band of survivors, including a drag queen, a male stripper, a Vietnam vet bartender, a pretentious gay couple, and an unstable DJ. Will this motley crew survive the hungry undead rattling the sealed-off doors? Will they survive each other? Will they survive their own personal demons? Asylum recalls George Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead – except with more gore and a more current social message. (Synopsis from

The Author: Mark Allan Gunnells is 37 years old and holds a degree in English and Psychology. He is the author of the Sideshow Press Book A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT, WHISONANT/CREATURES OF THE LIGHT, TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIT VOL. 1, and DARK TREATS, as well as the novella ASYLUM from The Zombie Feed, the digital collection GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC from Bad Moon Books, and the forthcoming novel THE QUARRY from Evil Jester Press. A small town boy at heart, he still lives in his hometown of Gaffney, SC, with his partner of 10 years.

The Publisher: The Zombie Feed Press (TZF Press) is a specialized imprint of Apex Publications and publishes zombie novels, novellas, and anthologies.

My Comments: With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to focus in on a scary title. And since zombies seem to be the new rage this year, I figured I'd share one of my favorite small press zombie titles. With Asylum, Mark Allan Gunnells does a superb job with creating characters that could easily carry a three hundred page novel instead of a mere eighty pages of story. Breathing life into them, Gunnells invokes an immediate understanding that the majority of the warm bodies in the nightclub are nothing more than zombie food.

Gunnells takes the phrase: “Death is not prejudice,” and executes it to it's fullest, reminding the reader that Good Ol' Mr. Grim doesn't care what color your skin is, if your rich or poor, what religion you practice, or your sexual preference... because in the end everyone will be thinking the same thing: BRAINS!!


So make Mark Allan Gunnells' Asylum, from Zombie Feed Press, the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Asylum today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:



Friday, October 28, 2011

Change is in the Air, Let's Work Together.

Change is in the Air, Let's Work Together
-by Frank Hall

Change is in the air. It is affecting every part of our life. Governments are falling all around the world, and democracy is taking root. Even here in the states, we have the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread across the country and the world. It does not look like it is going away anytime soon.

For those of us in the book industry, be it as publisher, author, bookstore owner or even reader, change has come, and if we don't adapt, we will fail. Chain bookstores are shutting their doors. Publishing houses who have been around for years are having financial troubles, not paying royalties, and some are even closing down. It is time for us all to work together, to make sure we get through this.

Capitalism is the name of the game for the economy. Make money. That is everyone's goal. But just because I am out to make money doesn’t mean I have to hurt others to do it. In fact, in our industry, if we work together we make more money then if we fight amongst each other. For us it all equates to readers. The more of them there are, the more money we all make. Bookstores need to work with authors and publishing houses, particularly small presses, and get events going in the store and community. Authors need to talk to everybody they meet about their books, get those books in people's hands, and generate new readers.

Books are addicting, we all know this. There will never be enough time to read everything we want to read. But most readers will try. It is impossible for a single author to write fast enough to keep any one person occupied.

We can help our fellow authors by telling our fans about them. I have yet to meet a writer who is also not a reader, so I know we all have books we like. We just need to understand that now is the time for us to work together.

Change is here.

-Frank Hall
Owner of That Book Place and Hydra Publications

Visit the sites for That Book Place and Hydra Publications:

Monday, October 24, 2011

H. David Blalock's Angelkiller Unleashes New Urban Fantasy Series With Limited Edition Hardcover Offer

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2011
H. David Blalock's Angelkiller Unleashes New Urban Fantasy Series With Limited Edition Hardcover Offer

Seventh Star Press proudly unveils the cover art and pre-order windows for the limited hardcover and softcover editions of Angelkiller, book one of a provacative new urban fantasy series by H. David Blalock..

With only 75 limited edition hardcovers to be issued, Angelkiller continues the Seventh Star Press tradition of producing one of the best value limited hardcover editions available anywhere. The limited edition hardcover edition includes an exclusive illustration not found in any other version. The artist for the book and series is Matthew Perry, whose artwork can be found in other Seventh Star Press titles from Jackie Gamber, Steven Shrewsbury, Michael West, and Stephen Zimmer.

(two interior images from Angelkiller. Artwork by Matthew Perry)

Angelkiller introduces Jonah Mason, the oldest, and most experienced of the Angelkillers, an elite force in the Army of Light. They are fighting an ancient war, one in which the Darkness achieved a great triumph long ago that has had profound influence on the fabric of life as we know it. It is the simple answer as to why bad things happen to good people. The great battle may have been lost, but the war continues in a modern age, pitting Jonah against the Enemy in a way even he had never faced. A provocative mixture of the supernatural and technological, Angelkiller is a very special, thought-provoking tale, one that shines forth in the upper realms of urban fantasy literature.

Based out of the Memphis area, H. David Blalock has an impressive writing career of 35 years and counting that has achieved numerous publishing credits in print and online mediums. He is most known for his fantasy novel Ascendant (Sam's Dot Publishing), which was the basis for a twenty minute short film produced in 2010 that featured former WWE wrestler Al Snow. The sequel to Ascendant, Emperor (Sam's Dot Publishing), was released in March of 2011. David is also the founder of Imagicopter, an author-driven organization that creates an array of event opportunities for small press authors and artists, while also publishing the highly-regarded Imagyro magazine.

The limited edition hardcover and special softcover collector's packages are scheduled to be shipped the first week of December, when the trade paperback will be made available everywhere, along with several eBook formats, for readers with the Kindle, the iPad, the Nook, Sony eReaders, and other electronic reading devices.

The editor for Angelkiller was Amanda DeBoard. Book 2, Traitor Angel, and Book 3, Doom Angel, will be released over the course of 2012 and early 2013.

Those wanting to reserve one of the 75 limited edition hardcovers, or pre-order a softcover collectors package, should visit Seventh Star Press' online store at

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's site at

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Pick of the Week: A Mirror in Time, by Kim Smith

Pick of the Week (#8): A Mirror in Time, by Kim Smith
(Moongypsy Press)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:When Carly Jean Simms, also called CJ, and the hunky Josh Jamison get lead roles in the school play at Broken Branch High School, they never dream where it will land them. But Mrs. Mac, the drama teacher, warned them about playing with her "special" mirror. Now it's sent them back to the time of their play and they have to use all their drama training to survive the travails of the Civil War!
(synopsis from publisher’s website)

The Author: Kim Smith is the author of the zany Shannon Wallace Mystery Series, and several contemporary romances, all available from Red Rose Publishing .

Kim is branching out into the YA field, and her debut YA time travel, A Mirror in Time, is now available at Moongypsy Press . Kim is also the hostess of the wildly popular Introducing WRITERS! radio show on Blog Talk Radio. For a more complete listing of guests and segments, please go to the IW page at

The Publisher:
Moongypsy press is a small press publisher of romance titles, including all subgenres of romance, especially historical and gothic romances. Their catalog features the works of over 30 authors, in print and eBook formats. For further information, please visit their site at

My Comments: Ever since my first encounter with the Chronicles of Narnia series, I have always loved stories that involve a commonly found physical object with a transfer to another place or time. The YA novel A Mirror in Time, by Kim Smith, is very appropriately titled, as it does indeed involve a mirror in a tale that reaches from the modern age into the heart of the Civil War. Kim is a very talented writer, with flowing prose and well-developed characters. The story does not shy away from historical realities, and builds some nice suspense, from encounters with wild animals to the trials of war. The growth in the protagonists, CJ and Josh, over the course of the novel, is really well executed. A Mirror in Time is quite simply a wonderful excursion into another time and place!


So make Kim Smith’s A Mirror in Time, from Moongypsy Press, the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up A Mirror in Time today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:


Kindle Version:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Authors and the Overwhelming World of Social Networking

Social networking has been a significant factor for artists, authors, musicians, and filmmakers ever since the rise of MySpace. Obviously, there have been some seismic shifts in social networking during the intervening years, but the result has been a plethora of social networks available for authors to utilize.

The good news is that participation in these networks holds no financial cost. But there is a big cost in terms of time, as many authors have probably discovered as increasing portions of their day is consumed by activities on FaceBook, Twitter, WordPress, Blogspot, Google+, GoodReads and a wide range of other, more specialized social networks (such as Book Blogs for book reviewers/book bloggers).

After having worked with several of these, I have come to the conclusion that authors should definitely make use of multiple social networks. Currently, I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Googe+, Blogspot, in terms of the larger and more popular networks, as well as ones on author/reader specific places like GoodReads. Google+ has been the latest entry, with a layout that brings in some Facebook-type elements, some Twitter-type elements, and adds a few things of its own.

Each community is different,each network has its strengths and weaknesses, and authors need to familiarize themselves with the tools that each one offers.

For example, in regards to myself, I love the ability to develop groups on Facebook (except for the fact that you can be added to a group by someone else, which is why I have developed my own policy of clearing permission with someone before I add them to one of my groups). I have some active groups relating to the two book series I have, as well as groups relating to Seventh Star Press and the conventions I do programming for. Google+ has some good options for developing similar things, but I have put most of my focus on Facebook groups, as the FaceBook community is still the largest by far.

Google+ shows a lot of flexibility for organizing a friends list into any number of circles delineated by geography, activities, or anything you want. This can be handy when sending out an appearance announcement relating to a specific town or city.

Twitter is wonderful for sending out periodic reminders about the titles you have available, with links.

Blogspot posts can be fed right into your page and other places that take feeds.

Needless to say, each network has much to be utilitzed for an author.

Yet for the author, the most important thing in regards to participating in social networks is maintaining discipline. The way I approach this is through doing all of my writing on one computer that is not connected online, and doing my social networking on a home office computer that I use for all of my business activity.

Keeping my creative and business worlds separate has helped greatly, as it eliminates the temptation to blur the line between the two or get distracted. I know I would be tempted to check up on a message or post if it were easy to access, so I got rid of the possibility of being side-tracked!

I have also evolved in the way I schedule myself, to where I do the bulk of my writing in one time slot, and do the bulk of my business work and social networking in another. I have found myself getting better at logging off on the social networking at the time windows I set, which is not always easy to do if I'm looking in to some new events, promotional opportunities, or other things.

I feel it is important to set some firmer boundaries, though. Similar to online games like World of Warcraft, social networking is an open-ended environment, where you can spend as little or as much time as you want. For authors, that alone demands a need for boundaries.

Time is precious for authors, as the overwhelming majority are balancing so many elements, whether it is a day job, the needs of a family, or any number of tasks relating to life in general. To be productive as a writer, time-management is critical. Obviously, there are ebbs and flows in the amount of activity going on during an author's promotional activities, hitting much more intensively when a new book is released, but I strongly advise authors to stick to their time boundaries as much as possible.

Social networks are tools, and just like a tool box has a variety of implements, it is good for authors to maintain more than one social network presence. Learn those tools, use the ones that are the most effective, and develop multiple presences. But be very careful to manage the time that you spend on social networking, or you will find it quietly invading your writing time!


Connect with Stephen at the following:

and also on Google+

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pick of the Week: Frayed, by Tom Piccirilli

Pick of the Week (#7): Frayed, By Tom Piccirilli
(Creeping Hemlock Press)
-selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book: “Are you the one who helped him kill the angel?”

Twenty years of repressed anger and memories. A bitter knot of hatred that binds and divides two friends. The dark secret that fuels and devastates them both.

“He killed it. I only helped him to bury it.”

Eddies doing his best to get by, but every day the good fight just gets harder. And now there's a new burden to shoulder. Gray – his best friend and nemesis in literature, romance, and life – has landed a bizarre mental hospital, known for its radical treatments, because Gray couldn't bear the weight of an unspeakable trauma.

The last time they met, Gray almost killed Eddie, but it seems that all is finally forgiven. Tonight, there's a wild hootenanny up at Gray's house.

The nuthouse.

And Eddie's invited.

(Synopsis from

The Author: Tom Piccirilli is the author of twenty novels including THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN, SHADOW SEASON, and the forthcoming THE LAST KIND WORDS (Bantam, May 2012). He's won two International Thriller Awards and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de l'lmaginaire.

You can learn more about him and his works at:

The Publisher: Creeping Hemlock Press was founded in Gretna, Louisiana by the husband-and-wife creative duo R.J. And Julia Sevin. As sometimes writers, oftentime readers, they found themselves frustrated with the scarcity of generous-paying, atmospheric and bizarre short story anthologies. They took matters into their own hands in late 2004 when they began to accept submissions for their own anthology. Many months, one baby, two hurricanes, and one soggy home later, CORPSE BLOSSOMS was born to critical success and a nomination for the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker award. As their homeless wanderings carried them to Texas and back, the Sevins also produced an original limited-edition novella by Tom Piccirilli, FRAYED, to terrific reviews and enthusiastic reader sentiment.

My Comments: There's so much that I love about Piccirilli's writing, and FRAYED is one of the highlights of my personal collection, including his phenomenal EVERY SHALLOW CUT. Both of which are 'noirella's,' – a term coined by Piccirilli himself – novella length stories that always have one or more of the following bend to them: crime, mystery, noir, (and sometimes) horror.

Piccirilli is always doing something different. If he's not plucking your heartstrings, then he's making you feel every inch of pain, sorrow, anger and madness that the characters are feeling. He manages to do all of this, and more with FRAYED. Although at first I was afraid that FRAYED would be a dud, I quickly realized that Piccirilli was setting it up to be more than just a crime story, but a story of two friends who not only have to try and find their friendship again, but also – somewhere in the darkness and damp dirt – themselves.

For those willing to take a chance on something new, I'd highly recommend FRAYED. And at the novella length, it's a nice set up: a story longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel, that is as in-depth as a short story, but as complex and deep as an 80k word novel. It's intense, rich and breathtaking.

Why not take a chance?


So make Tom Piccirilli's Frayed, from Creeping Hemlock Press, the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Frayed today! Direct Hardcover and eBook links below:



Friday, October 14, 2011

The Day After You Finish Your Manuscript

The Day After You Finish Your Manuscript
by Ren Garcia



You dot the last sentence and hit the carriage return. Congratulations! You just finished your killer new manuscript. The world has never experienced anything like it and will never be the same again.

So, now what?? That stack of paper in the tray, or that file on your jump drive is just sitting there, mocking you. What to do with your grand new opus, that Monster you've been slaving over?? There are many possible answers to that question, and, depending on who you are as a person, the answer will vary. The trials and tribulations of what happens to you and your manuscript the day after you finish could fill a giant-sized book and be made into a number of movies, so this will, no doubt, be the first of several blog posts covering the topic.

First of all, are You a Perpetual??

The first question you'll need to face as you consider your finished manuscript is: Are you really done??

There are many Perpetuals out there and either you are one yourself or you know someone who is. You know, a Perpetual is someone who is engaged in a never-ending pursuit: that person who's been in college for fifteen years and is nowhere close to graduating, that person who has been grouting the bathroom forever, or that person who has written a manuscript and is never quite finished. Let's face it, a manuscript is your baby and it can be tough to let go, couple that with an artist's tendency to never be satisfied, it's very easy to fall into a surreal mire of revision, re-thinking, re-editing and re-focusing, until such time that the original vision and purpose of the MS is lost. Some are perpetually "tweaking" and "fine-tuning" their MS and it will never be quite ready for Prime Time. Years pass, no progress is made, it's just not quite finished.

The Perpetual and their Manuscript shall waltz together until the proverbial music stops, and it's not going to stop anytime soon, so, for that person, the day after you finish your manuscript is the first day of the rest of your life.

Publishing: The Banana Republic

The next logical course is to attempt to publish your work-it's only natural, you've written something, now you want to share it. The road to publishing is long and difficult and there's no 1-2-3, step by step method of accomplishing it. Ask any author and they'll have all sorts of horror stories of how they got put through the wringer prior to being discovered. It's an inevitable process, and, whether you choose to seek an agent or submit directly to a publisher; it's basically the same.

First: you need to know who to submit to. Different agents and publishers represent and publish different things, so, if you've written a hardcore science fiction tome, you're not going to want to submit to a Christian, non-fiction publisher of inspirational short stories. Various publications and websites go over who does what, so it's worth your time to do a little research and target a specific list that is best suited to you.

Next comes the part that has been the bane of many writers everywhere. All agents and publishers have a lengthy list of requirements that you have to follow pretty much to the letter; any deviation, anything added or omitted will lead to your submission being summarily rejected. These people can get pretty detailed in their demands, from the line spacing, to the exact type of font to use, to the word count of the submission. It is a real Banana Republic where they make the rules and you follow them, or else. You know what they say about absolute power corrupting absolutely-well, there's the proof. They have the power and you don't. If you don't like it, complain to the President.

However, as we'll see, these days there are other ways to get to Heaven that don't involve going through Christ (But, that's a different Blog Post).

The Hell of Manuscripts

So, let's say you jump through all the required hoops and abased yourself as demanded, the final destination of your MS is a withering hell known as the "Slushpile". Lording over the Slushpile is a demon from college, paid minimum wage (if they're being paid at all) with girlfriend/boyfriend issues and a monitor sunburn who can barely see straight known as the Slush Editor. It's the Slush Editor who picks through all MS's consigned there and determines which will be forwarded on to the real editors for further consideration. Little balls of teenage angst, these editors vent their fury on the MS's in their charge, tossing them aside willy-nilly as the case might be (Yes-I was a Slush Editor, and Yes my attitude was poor. It actually felt really good having supreme power at a time in my life when I was otherwise powerless, so flushing a manuscript or two really made my day). Just remember, the next time you see some ridiculous person who's locked themselves out of their car with the engine running, that could be the person who just rejected your MS.

Thus begins the cycle of Submission and Rejection that many authors will face going the traditional route. Almost all MS's meet their demise in the Slushpile, and almost all will end up there more than just once. Writers on the lecture tour are fond of mentioning that Harry Potter was once on the Slushpile. The truth of the matter is that Harry Potter was probably on a lot of Slushpiles and drowned in the vortex of most of them. It is a real, lottery-winning moment when your MS happens to make it out of the Slush purgatory and into the hands of an editor who loves it as much as you do. But, that's a rare moment that can take years and lots and lots of rejection letters to get to.

Next, we'll go over the Promised Land of Self-Publishing, the stigma that comes with it and the Hungry Beast/Chain-Gang of Marketing

Bowl Naked

Ren Garcia on Facebook

Ren Garcia on Twitter

Visit Ren's blog and website:

Would you like to be introduced into Ren's literary world? Here's a couple of titles that will get you underway!:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pick of the Week: The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, by Robert Krog

Pick of the Week (#6): The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, by Robert Krog
(Self-Published Title)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:From sorcerers to space captains, from common criminals to common housewives, this collection contains the stories of a variety of characters from a diversity of genres. Fans of adventure, suspense, humor, horror, fantasy, and science fiction will all find tales to treasure. Every story invites the reader into a world where things are not always what they seem, where events do not always turn out as one expects.

Includes “The Stone Maiden”, “Acantha”, “The Hand of Darden”, “I Would Have My Bones in the Earth Facing North”, “Nothing to Lose is Nearly Enough”, “The Three Epiphanies of Seqeranc”, “Tell Me Your Dreams”.

The Author:Robert J. Krog is a native of Memphis, TN, where he still resides with his family. Mr. Krog is a devout Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has been an assistant arborist to his father, who was a professional arborist. He has also been a grocery store clerk, a waiter for one week, an order out delivery guy for one week, a legal runner, a substitute teacher, and a high school History teacher, all in Memphis, TN. He has several degrees, mostly in History, but is putting none of them to good use, though he loves History and can still translate Middle Egyptian, if he works at it (and maybe Hieratic, if he really works at it). Currently, he works in chemical yard care and writes as much as obligations to a full-time job, the church, and family life allow. His published works include the collection, The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, Babies' Breath (a short story that was published in parABnormal Digest), several more short stories on his website,, and the novella, A Bag Full of Eyes, to come out in January 2012 from Sam's Dot Publishing. He continues to write and is working on finishing several novels.

Visit Robert's website at:

The Publisher: Self-published title. The book used for this Pick of the Week is a 2nd Edition with cover art, book design, and layout by Lewis Pearson.

My Comments:Single author collections give readers a chance to experience many different facets of an author, as well as showcasing the strengths and voice of the writer. The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, by Robert Krog, certainly delivers in that regard, as there is a real range of characters and genres within this well-crafted collection. From the Lovecraftian touches of the title story, The Stone Maiden, to the chilling undercurrents of “Acantha”, which underscores the timeless adage of be careful what you wish for, to the nobility and sense of honor on full display in “I Would Have My Bones in the Earth Facing North”, the seven tales connect with the reader in many ways, and on many levels. This is a real showcase of a highly promising writer, one whose name is going to become very familiar to the reading public in the future.


So make Robert Krog’s The Stone Maiden and Other Tales the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up The Stone Maiden and Other Tales today! Direct Paperback and eBook links below:

Click here to order a paperback edition of The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, 2nd Edition.

eBook Edition:
Click here to order an eBook edition (PDF) of The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, 2nd Edition.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Four Steps to Finding Your Next Good Read

Four Steps to Finding Your Next Good Read
by Rodney Carlstrom

As a reviewer, I don't have certain privileges, but as a reader I have all rights in the world. When it comes to reviewing, I usually – 95% of the time – stick to what I'm sent to read. But as a casual reader, I'm very picky about what I consume. I have the right to do so, and so do you!

You are leveraging your time for quality entertainment, unlike the average movie where you get a full story – and sometimes not even that – within an hour and a half. A book is different: you spend more time with the characters, the culture/environment; by the time you're done reading, you've invested so much time in the novel that you might as well have spent all day watching a full season of your favorite show.

For some these following four steps are going to sound very familiar, but they work. Unless you're picking up an author that you absolutely adore, or have heard good things about, chances are you're just looking for that next good read. This checklist will help you achieve that. I can't promise that it's fool-proof, but it's better than picking a book at random.

1. You've heard it before. Chances are you've probably uttered it more times than you care to admit: “Never judge a book by its cover.” It's a worn out, clich├ęd adage that has more validity to it than most people are willing to admit, especially in the publishing world. And here's why: depending on the publisher, whether they're small press or one of the bigger publishers, the author either has complete control of the cover, or none at all. Yes, the cover might look kick ass, but are you going to take the chance on something so trivial as a picture? Do you know for certain that the cover depicts accurately something within the pages of the book (character/scene)?

Every book has one. Covers are just eye candy for the masses. If they see something that intrigues them, they probably won't hesitate to pick it up. It's the same reason stores put all the chocolates, candies and sweets in the check-out lanes. It's an impulse buy. And unfortunately, that's how the majority of our culture reacts: on impulse. Don't be one of those people, instead go one step further...

2. Flip to the back of the book. Read the synopsis. Now granted, the sole job of the synopsis – and for that matter blurbs from other authors – is to catch your fancy. Smart writing that engages you and makes you think. Does it sound interesting? (Most times, this will be a yes...) If so, move to the next step.

3. Crack open the book. Read a little bit. Don't be afraid. I mean, isn't that why you're in the bookstore to begin with: to find a book to read? To spend quality time absorbed in a world that's not your own? If your answer is yes to either, then:

a. Start with the middle. Open the book and read. See if there's anything worth reading. Does the author's writing catch your fancy, or is there something in that brief glimpse that just doesn't sit right?

b. Now, do the same thing, only crack it open somewhere near the end...preferably three fourths of the way through it. Read. Ask yourself again: is there anything worth reading?

c. Finally, open the book to the very front, preferably the first page. Read (if you've got the time, try the first chapter). Ask yourself again: is there anything worth reading?

4. And finally, follow your gut instinct. Always. Because, somehow, somewhere, between gazing at the cover, reading the back synopsis (or blurb(s)), reading from the middle, the beginning and somewhere close to the end, you've already subconsciously decided. You might not realize it, but you have. Somewhere deep inside your mind, something snapped. Listen to your heart and gut, and one or both of them will pay off with a damn good read. Something you are not only going to remember, but something you won't be able to stop talking about, recommending and demanding your friends, loved ones, and even strangers read.

This might all seem obvious, but time and time again I'm surprised by the conversations I have with people who complain that they're picking up boring reads. Yes, you're going to pick up a book every once in a while that's going to suck big time, but those are risks that everyone takes.

Sometimes it takes the obvious to find that next good read...


Be sure to visit The SciFi Guys Book Review blog or add them on Twitter at the following links:

Rodney's personal blog and Twitter page can be found at:
The Bloody Pen

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pick of the Week: Just Like Hell, by Nate Southard

Pick of the Week (#5): Just Like Hell, by Nate Southard
(Deadite Press)
-selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book: Dillon is a popular high school football star, gay, and tied to a chair in the dark. His lover is bound and gagged next to him. Around him are his teammates – his captors. They aren't happy that they've been playing with a “faggot” and they intend to repay the disgrace. There will be humiliation, blood, and pain. But then it gets out of control. What started as black-hearted entertainment has turned into a cat-and-mouse game of gruesome justice. By the end of the night, four people will be dead. And those left alive will be forever scared. Deadite Press presents Nate Southard's modern hardcore horror classic of torture, terror, and bloody vengeance. This edition also includes four bonus stories: “A Team-Building Exercise,” “Miss Kenner and Me,” “Senorita,” and “Work Pit Four.”

The Author:Nate Southard's books include Scavengers, Red Sky, Just Like Hell, Broken Skin, This Little Light of Mine, and He Stepped Through. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Thuglit, and the upcoming anthology Supernatural Noir. A graduate of The University of Texas with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film, Nate lives in Austin, Texas. You can learn more at

The Publisher: Deadite Press publishes the very best in cult horror. Home of Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Bryan Smith, J.F. Gonzalez, Wrath James White, Robert Devereaux, Dave Brockie, David Agranoff, Andre Duza, and Carlton Mellick III. For more information check out:

My Comments: In an age of rage and hate for being 'different,' Just Like Hell isn't just fiction, it's a horrifying reality that many are too afraid to write about. At it's worst it's an all too plausible situation, and at it's worst it's a glimpse into the real evil that we as humans can do to one another.

Although not all of the extra stories that followed Just Like Hell had the same feel or tone to them as the title novella, each story brought a different aspect of Southard's writing style to my awareness. Not only can Southard write, he can make you think too. Which isn't as common these days as most people might think.

When I originally heard about Just Like Hell, and the rave reviews that were being given to it, I had to check it out for myself. Thanks to Deadite Press for reissuing it, I had an opportunity to do so. And let me tell you, there's a reason it's considered a modern hardcore classic. It is one brutal read! Definitely worth picking up for anybody that's willing to read outside of their comfort zone for a change, and honestly think about what they're reading.


So make Nate Southards's Just Like Hell from Deadite Press the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Just Like Hell today! Direct Paperback Link Below:


Friday, September 30, 2011

The Value of Bookstores in an Ebook Age

The Value of Bookstores in an eBook Age
by Frank Hall

Ebooks are a wonderful thing to the book industry. They have increased the number of readers, and more books are being sold now then ever before. But there are still things that a bookstore can do for you that you can't get from surfing a website.

First, there is that personal touch. In our store we know our customers, and we know what they read. We can help find books that you might like, even when you are not in the store. Not every book is available as an ebook,and we can find those out of print ones for you.

Another advantage that I think we have as a physical store front is the ability to look at the book before you buy. Yes, I know nearly everyone offering ebooks now have the option of downloading a sample to read. But it is always the beginning of the book. Many of our customers flip to the middle of the book, and sometimes the end, to see what the writing is like there. Sometimes the first chapter or two of the book is not enough to decide if you want to invest your time in reading it.

Talking with people online is fine, going to a forum and using facebook to discuss the book you just read is great, but there is something about that human interaction face to face that appeals to everyone at some point in time.

What better place to talk about books than a bookstore? Well, maybe a library, but you have to be quiet there. Come in, sit down, and have a nice chat about books with us or a fellow customer. We see it happen all the time, and 9 times out of 10 you will learn of a new author you haven't read that you are going to pick up and try.

Despite naysayers, print books are not going away anytime soon. Ebooks have just helped spawn a change in the industry. For the better, in my opinion, as I stated in the opening. More books being sold more readers out there. What could be better then that?

But the smell of old books is still the best smell in the world!

-Frank Hall
Owner of That Book Place and Hydra Publications

Visit the sites for That Book Place and Hydra Publications:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pick of the Week: The Sticks, by Andy Deane

Pick of the Week (#4): The Sticks, by Andy Deane
(Delirium Books)
-Selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:Something evil is stirring in the sticks outside the small town of Jefferson, Virginia... And Brian was already having one hell of a night. After a disastrous outing at a party full of snobs on the rich side of town, his girlfriend Alicia dumps him then promptly vanishes under suspicious circumstances. Searching for her in the dark of night while working his way through a backwoods maze and the outlandish characters that inhabit it, Brian instead finds an enigmatic dark-haired beauty named Jessica and a monster he hadn't believed existed outside his beloved horror films. But before the night is through, everyone and everything Brian cares about will be threatened by a creature that is all too real, a bloodthirsty beast lurking in the woods of Jefferson. Fighting for his life, Brian tries to uncover the truth about the evil stalking him and the mystery surrounding Alicia's disappearance, but time is running out. Welcome to a night in THE STICKS.
(publisher's excerpt)

The Author:Andy has been writing stories and songs from the time he realized he could do either. Much of his first novel (THE STICKS, Delirium Books, 2009) was written while passing long miles between gigs on the road with his band Bella Morte. Since finishing THE STICKS Andy has completed a novella (THE THIRD HOUSE, Thunderstorm Books, 2010) and a second novel (ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD) which is due out this fall from Thunderstorm Books.

He is best known as the frontman and lyricist for the internationally renowned alternative rock band Bella Morte. They have released two EPs and seven full-length albums. (Bio excerpt from author's site)

The Publisher:Delirium Books, established in January 1999 by Shane Ryan Staley, is one of the leading specialty presses in the horror genre. Operating in the Midwest (Northern Indiana), Delirium Books has quickly gained the reputation of bringing to print the best new voices in horror fiction, including fan favorites Greg F. Gifune and Michael McBride as well as bestselling author Brian Keene. Delirium has also published established genre authors such as Brian Lumley, James Morrow, Douglas Clegg and David B. Silva.

Delirium Books won the Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Specialty Press Publishing. This was presented to Delirium Books by the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association) in 2005.(bio excerpt from publisher's site).
Visit the official site of Delirium Books at:

My Comments:The werewolves are primal and the action speeds along in The Sticks, a highly gratifying read that was one of my favorite horror novels of the past couple of years. An ensemble of compelling characters fill this novel, ranging from the rocker/metalhead protagonist, Brian, to Myrtle, a crazy older woman that likes to run out of her house and expose herself to those unlucky enough to be passing by, to Hank, a reclusive fellow living among heaps of odds and ends.

They are all made to contend with the terror of the lycanthropes, who are visceral and brutal. A brooding tension permeates key scenes, delivering horrific payoffs when the shapeshifters make their presence felt.

Yet what lifts this book above other novels of its subgenre is Andy's subtle and skillful touches in the relationships between characters. The developing bond between Brian and Jessica, and the nascent friendship between Brian and Nate are two examples of what elevates this book above the crowd, as characters that you rapidly come to care about are placed into dangerous situations with quite uncertain outcomes.

The Sticks delivers a hard-hitting, well-paced werewolf tale, with the appropriate depths of character development and plot construction needed to bring the horror reader a very satisfying lycanthropic adventure.

So make Andy Deane's The Sticks from Delirium Books the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up The Sticks today! Direct Paperback and Kindle Links Below:


Kindle Version: