Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line

Shock Totem Publications was born in 2008. With the help of John Boden and Nick Contor (and many more in the years to follow), we created Shock Totem magazine, of which there have been a total of thirteen issues to date. Eventually we branched out into books. We produced some great ones, written by equally great authors.

Then my wife and I had kids, and everything changed.

I’ve discussed all of this before, so I won’t bore anyone with the details yet again. The bottom line is, I’ve tried to keep it all together, but certain things have slowly fallen apart despite my best efforts. The reasons are many, but mental exhaustion is the biggest, I think. I have struggled greatly.

At some point in the past year, I stepped back and realized I was slowly but surely becoming a bad publisher. Royalty payments were late; e-mail replies weren’t sent in a timely manner if they were sent at all; promotion was non-existent; and the distance between me, Shock Totem, and our readers was growing. Worst of all, my relationship with our authors, whom I respect greatly and consider friends, suffered because I was not present to perform my duties as a responsible publisher.

Because of this, I have put an end to the Shock Totem book line.

Instead of simply dumping all of our authors and leaving them responsible to find a new publisher, I reached out to Jason Sizemore at Apex Publications. I have great respect for Jason and what he’s done with Apex (the original Apex Digest was the biggest inspiration for Shock Totem magazine, after all), and so I asked Jason if he was interested in acquiring our books, a simple transfer of rights (and cover art, illustrations, the whole nine).

Thankfully, he was. And so very soon the following books, including two that were forthcoming from Shock Totem Publications, will have a new home at Apex Publications:

Beautiful Sorrows, by Mercedes M. Yardley
The Wicked, by James Newman
Ugly As Sin, by James Newman
Shine Your Light on Me, by Lee Thompson
Greener Pastures, by Michael Wehunt
Everything That’s Underneath, by Kristi DeMeester
Aetherchrist, by Kirk Jones

Adam Cesare has decided to self-publish Zero Lives Remaining under his own Black T-Shirt Books. John Boden’s Dominoes will remain with Shock Totem.

As much as I regret having to make this decision, I have no doubt Jason and Apex Publications will do right by our authors and present greater opportunities for them in the years to come. They deserve at least that much.

Shock Totem Publications is not dead. We will carry on and focus on one-off limited editions, special projects, and Shock Totem magazine, things I can work on in fits and starts, as time permits. More on that soon…

For now, we sadly say goodbye to some fantastic authors and books.

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Shock Totem #10—Available Now!

It’s been a long time coming, but we are happy to announce that the tenth issue of Shock Totem magazine is available for purchase!


Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

Here is the official Table of Contents:

* Notes from The Editor’s Desk
* Rumor and Shadow: The Haunting of the Everett Mansion, by Barry Lee Dejasu (Article)
* The Henson Curse, by Paul A. Hamilton
* Blue John, by D.K. Wayrd
* Post-Modern Pea Soup: A Conversation with Paul Tremblay, by Catherine Grant
* Three Years Ago This May, by Trace Conger
* Malediction, by Margaret Killjoy
* Sweet William, by Mary Pletsch
* Deerborn, by Leslie J. Anderson (Poetry)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* There’s a Tongue in the Drain, by Roger Lovelace
* Wasps, by Thana Niveau
* Standing Behind the Curtains: A Conversation with T.E.D. Klein, by Barry Lee Dejasu
* The Tall Man, by Eric J. Guignard
* Winter Fever, by Samuel Marzioli
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 8, by John Boden and Barry Lee Dejasu (Article)
* The Eavesdropper, by Sarah L. Johnson
* The Last Treehouse, by David G. Blake
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

The print edition can be purchased at our webstore or Amazon.com and other retailers. The Kindle edition can be found here. E-mail us directly for ePub editions.

If you have any questions, please ask. Thanks for your patience and support!

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Adam Cesare’s ZERO LIVES REMAINING—Limited Edition Hardcover Available Now!

It’s been a long time coming, but the limited hardcover edition of Zero Lives Remaining is finally finished and ready to ship. It took almost a year longer than anticipated (rookie mistake; sorry about that), but we hope it’s worth the wait.

It took a lot of hard work from a lot of talented people, notably Frank Walls (artwork), Yannick Bouchard (additional artwork), Nick Gucker (illustrations), and Mike Lombardo and Reel Splatter Productions (film, photography), and we think this is one of the best limited editions ever released.

Robby Asaro is dead.

And alive.

He’s a ghost in the machine, keeping a watchful eye on the arcade where he lost his life two decades before. And the afterlife is good. The best thing ever to have happened to him. But when the conscious electric current formerly known as Robby Asaro makes a decision to protect one of his favorite patrons, Tiffany Park, from a bully, he sets loose a series of violent supernatural events that can’t be stopped.

Trapped inside the arcade as the kill count rises, Tiffany and a group of gamers must band together to escape from what used to be their favorite place on Earth…and the ghost of Robby Asaro.

From the author of Tribesmen, Video Night, and The Summer Job, Zero Lives Remaining is a masterful mix of horror and suspense, dread and wonder, a timeless ghost story that solidifies Adam Cesare’s reputation as one of the best up-and-coming storytellers around. This is Adam Cesare firing on all cylinders—and he’s just getting started.

Strictly limited to 100 copies, the hardcover itself is made to look like a VHS tape, which is housed in a classic VHS case with full wraparound “80s horror film” artwork and photography exclusive to this edition. Nick Gucker provides exclusive interior illustrations, and there is also a bonus short story. A special insert features additional artwork and photography, plus an interview with “B-movie legend” Adam Blomquist. And finally, there are six autographed “movie still” cards featuring the entire cast (from the trailer) and director, Mike Lombardo.

Check out these photos (apologies for the less than stellar quality):






Click to Enlarge

We expect this edition to sell out very quickly, so order now if you want to secure a copy. When all 100 are gone, they’re gone for good. There will be no future hardcover pressings. Paperback and digital editions will be available soon.

If you have any questions, please ask.


Click to Order.

(Special thanks to Mike Lombardo and the Reel Splatter Productions crew for the brilliant trailer!)

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Open for Novel/Novella Submissions

Shock Totem Publications is once again open for novel/novella submissions!

Please read our updated guidelines and submission requirements on our Submittable page prior to uploading your work.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us.

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Shock Totem at Anthocon

After a long absence from conventions, this coming weekend, June 5–7, we will have a table at the fourth annual Anthology conference (AnthoCon) up in Portsmouth, NH. Special guests include Christopher Golden, Tom Monteleone, James A. Moore, Gene O’Neill, and more…

Cat and Barry will be manning the table and selling copies of all Shock Totem releases at a generous discount. Barry will also be selling his hand-drawn bookmarks, individually or as a set.

Anyway, it is sure to be a helluva good time. Stop by the Shock Totem table and say hello (and maybe buy a thing or two).

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The One-Hour Flash Fiction Challenge

This Saturday, August 8th, at 8 PM EST, we will once again be hosting our bi-weekly flash fiction challenge. The challenge: You have just one hour to write, edit, and post your story.

This is a “prompted” challenge, meaning your story must be based on the prompt, which will be revealed just before 8 PM. The challenge takes place here on our forum, so you’ll need an account if you want to participate.

The purpose of the challenge is to force you, the writer, to clear your mind of all distractions and write a complete 1,000-word-or-less story within the allotted time. You’ll have to not only write the story, but also edit it, and then post it by 9 PM EST.

For those interested, here are the rules:

Unlike our bi-monthly flash fiction contest, the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge is just for fun. The challenge will be held every other Saturday, officially beginning at exactly 8 PM EST. There are no prizes! And the rules are simple.

1. All stories should be complete, written and posted within one hour, and can be anywhere from one sentence to 1,000 words in length.

2. You may choose to write your story in any genre.

3. Your story must be built around the restrictions—words, themes, photo prompts, word limits, etc.—provided by the Flashmaster at the beginning of the challenge.

4. Once the participants’ work is posted, the voting and comment session begins and continues until all votes are in. Time limit for voting will be determined on the spot, depending on how many people finish the challenge.

5. The winner becomes Flashmaster and hosts the next contest.

And that’s it. Simple and fun.

Think you can do it? Join the forum and be present this coming Saturday at 8 PM EST. More information can be found on the forum.

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Thank You, Brian Keene!

Brian Keene, bestselling horror author of such titles as The Rising, Ghoul, Earthworm Gods, and The Lost Level, recently listed his top 10 favorite books published in 2014 on his podcast, The Horror Show.

In the fifth episode of The Horror Show, Keene listed Dominoes, written by our own John Boden and illustrated by Yannick Bouchard, at #8!


Click for full-size images.

Mr. Keene was taken by the “really interesting production” of the book, in particular its deceptively Little Golden Book-inspired layout and illustrations. “It’s a really cool little thing!” he said.

We here at Shock Totem thank you very much for the shout-out, Mr. Keene!

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Horror After Dark Interviews Shock Totem

Charlene over at Horror After Dark recently interviewed me and John. Charlene is great and it was good fun!

Check it out here.

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Shock Totem Publications: 2015 and Beyond

Shock Totem’s roots stretch back to August of 2008. When John Boden, Nick Contor, and I began this journey, we had big ideas and no publishing experience. We’ve come a long way, to say the least, and it’s been a hell of a ride. I am extremely proud of all that we’ve done through Shock Totem Publications, and I’m grateful to all those who have contributed along the way.

That said, as we enter a new year, there are a few changes coming. Some good, some not so good.

First, there will be no flash fiction contests in 2015. I know this will be disappointing to many, as the contest has been extremely popular since we began running it in 2010, but if you’ve participated in past contests I’m sure you’ll understand why I’ve made this decision.

The next issue of Shock Totem, number ten, will be our last issue for a while. The reasons for this are many, but the biggest reason is simple: kids.

Our first child arrived in October of 2013. From that moment on, life changed in ways I could never have imagined. All parents understand this. Last year was difficult for me. I work from home, so I was basically a stay-at-home dad who also works a full-time job and is a publisher/editor/writer. Suffice it to say, life has been chaos since our son arrived, as wonderful as he is. All parents understand this as well.

I need organization, crave it. I function best when things are organized. As such, I struggled in 2014, was way behind the curve. In the past, authors have told me I was the best editor they’ve ever worked with, particularly with communication. That’s the kind of editor/publisher I want to be. No author published in issues 8 or 9, or our two holiday issues, will tell you that. Each issue was late, e-mails were few and far between, promises were made and not kept—and quite frankly our authors deserved better than that. My staff as well.

I mentioned “kids” above. In late February, or possibly sooner, my wife will give birth to our second child, a girl. (Yes, pushing the elderly ages of 37 and 40, we wasted no time.) Knowing what I know now, knowing how much time and energy just one kid requires, this hiatus is necessary.

As of right now, the goal is to take a complete break from publishing the magazine in 2015 and reopen for submissions on January 1, 2016, with a new issue scheduled for July 2016. That’s the plan. Yes, I know this sort of thing is often a death knell for publications, and I am well aware that it might signal the end of Shock Totem, as I cannot predict what the next year will be like. I certainly do hope to publish more issues of Shock Totem in the years to come. And if I feel that I don’t want to lay her to rest but do need to extend the hiatus, I will do so. Only time will tell…

But that’s just the magazine. We have other plans as well.

In the next few weeks we will begin accepting novel and novella submissions. (Before anyone asks, editing and publishing a novel is infinitely easier than publishing a magazine. And I will have help.) That’s the big one. We have smaller ideas, one-off “fun” projects that we’d like to do, like a zombie collection (trust us, it’ll kick ass), some chapbooks, maybe another holiday issue…

Either way, we’re not going away, not completely; we’re just scaling back for a time so I can be a father. I’d like to read a lot more, too (I read just 13 books in 2014). And I have many stories to finish writing. My DRAFTS folder is overflowing! But most important, I need to first learn what it’s going to take to be a great father to two children. If ultimately that means laying Shock Totem to rest, so be it. We’ve had a wonderful run, right?

But don’t worry. We’re not dead yet.

Happy New Year!

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And the 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

There’s a Tongue in the Drain
by Roger Lovelace


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was our good friend David G. Blake, author of the excellent “A Kite for Sarah” (Nature, Mar 2014) and “Night in the Forest of Loneliness,” which we just reprinted in our Halloween issue.

Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2014, David chose “There’s a Tongue in the Drain,” by Roger Lovelace, as the winner. The contest prompt for this story was a simple photo:

I asked participants to answer two questions with their story: Who is this person? What’s up with the grate? You’ll be able to read what Roger came up with in Shock Totem #10, due in early 2015.

Congratulations, Roger, and all our other top three finishers this year!

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