Shock Totem Radio
- Ugly As Sin—Now Available!
- Closed for Winter Break
- Star Road
- A Conversation with Voice Actor Georgie Leonard
- Cellar Door: Words Of Beauty, Tales Of Terror Review
- King Revives Our Favorite Demons
- A Conversation with Author Todd Keisling
- Ugly As Sin Cover Reveal
- Blood, Sweat and Drool: A Conversation with Director Jeremiah Kipp
- Chatting with Author Seanan McGuire
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Shock Totem Publications is very happy to announce that the digital and paperback editions of James Newman’s Ugly As Sin are now available!
Covers by Mikio Murakami. Cover type by Yannick Bouchard.
Our edition has been expanded to include an exclusive interview with the book’s main protagonist, Nick “The Widowmaker” Bullman, which was conducted by Andrew Holland. Speaking for all of us at Shock Totem HQ, it warms our black hearts to see these two fine gentlemen overcoming the horrors of their pasts.
The paperback edition is currently available through our website and Amazon.com for $14.99. The Kindle version is just $2.99*. We will keep you updated as it becomes more widely available through other retailers in the coming days and weeks.
If you have any questions, please let us know. Interested reviewers should contact us here.
* If you buy the print edition through Amazon, the Kindle version is free.
Shock Totem Publications has locked the doors and barred the windows. It’s vacation time! Well, sort of; we still have nearly 400 submissions to read.
We will reopen for submissions on February 1, 2014. If you have a story with us now, expect a response soon.
[ Caption added. Original cartoon by Christopher Weyant. ]
We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Stay safe and keep writing. Until then…
Coming later this month, James Newman’s Ugly As Sin! Here is the amazing cover art created by Mikio Murakami (with additional layout work by Yannick Bouchard)…
Covers by Mikio Murakami. Layout by Yannick Bouchard.
Nick Bullman was a wrestling superstar. His alter ego, The Widowmaker, was the monster heel all the marks loved to hate.
Now, after a brutal encounter with two psychotic fans left his face horribly disfigured, he’s just a monster.
Yanked from the spotlight and thrust into the shadows, these days Nick tries to live the life of an average Joe. He avoids mirrors. He’s angry. He’s alone. And he likes it just fine that way . . .
Until he receives a desperate phone call from a young lady he barely knows—his daughter.
For the first time in over thirty years, Nick returns to his hometown of Midnight, North Carolina. There he will come face to face with old demons, forge new friendships, and make enemies far more dangerous than those who ruined his face, all in a quest to save the granddaughter he’s never met . . . and maybe find a little bit of redemption along the way.
Ugly As Sin is an electrifying tale of “white-trash noir,” a taut page-turner that skates the razor edge of a familiar, horrifying reality. At times heartbreaking, funny, and terrifyingly suspenseful, Ugly As Sin is Newman’s best work to date.
Praise for Ugly As Sin:
“Ugly As Sin is James Newman’s best book yet! I loved every brutal, violent, pulpy page, and I recommend the hell out of it!”
—Jeff Strand, author of Dead Clown Barbecue, Faint of Heart, and Gleefully Macabre Tales
“Ugly As Sin is a terrific page-turner, a body slam of a book that features tough-guy noir, freakish horrors, and human redemption. James Newman skillfully spins a spiral of suspense that pulls you in and won’t let go.”
—Brian Pinkerton, Author of Killer’s Diary, Rough Cut, and How I
Started the Apocalypse
“Ugly As Sin is brutal, fast-paced, grimy fun, a compulsive page-turner with characters you’ll be deeply invested in by story’s end.”
—Blu Gilliand, The October Country
“Ugly As Sin has about as vicious a premise as I’ve ever come across. It’s not what it first appears to be. It’s worse. Wrapped inside its mystery and ticking-clock hunt is the most jaundiced indictment possible of the corrupted soul of celebrity culture…its feeders and especially its fed.”
—Brian Hodge, Author of Picking the Bones and Whom the
Gods Would Destroy
“James Newman is one of my favorite authors. His novels are always engrossing and entertaining. I can’t recommend his works highly enough.”
—John R. Little, author of Miranda, The Memory Tree, and Ursa Major
The paperback/digital editions of Ugly As Sin feature exclusive artwork and bonus material. Look for it in late November.
How important is a review? In today’s publishing world, especially on Amazon.com and its international sites, a good review (four or five stars) is worth quite a bit. Dozens of them are priceless.
Shock Totem does most of its sales through Amazon, the bulk of which are digital sales. That’s a great thing, particularly for our authors. Readers are their lifeblood. Ours as well, but while readers keep us afloat on a pride level, we need revenue to sustain us for years to come.
We’ve been around for five years and each of our issues costs around $1,500 to produce. They say most businesses take five years to become profitable. Thankfully, we’re almost to the point where we’re paying for each release with profit from sales. Our last issue, Shock Totem #7, cost $236 out of pocket, which is wonderful.
We’d love to get to a point where we’re not only paying for issues with profit but also making money, enough to expand, raise our pay rate.
And that’s why we still need your help.
The debut issue of Shock Totem is our biggest seller. This is typical for every month. On Amazon, where it matters most, our debut has 28 reviews. That’s eleven more than the closest second, which is issue #2, with 17 reviews.
Our latest issue, however, has just two reviews. And we’re having a hell of a time getting review sites to respond to review requests these days. Not sure if there’s so much self-publishing going on that they’re overwhelmed with review material or if we’re so established they don’t think we need reviews; but whatever the reason, the reality is, we do need reviews.
Why? Beside the obvious reasons, Amazon.com, where sales are highest, has a ranking algorithm (among other things) that helps authors and publishers sell books. One of the biggest theories, and it’s a good one, is that the more four- and five-star reviews a book has, the more it is shown to potential buyers.
Again, our debut issue has nearly a dozen more reviews than any of our other issues and it’s our biggest seller. Signs point to Yes, the algorithm is real and that issue is being put in front of more potential readers than our other issues.
So how can you help? By posting reviews of our work. They don’t have to be long or have literary flair; they just need to be honest.
The more our sales increase, the longer we’ll be around. When so many publications are using Kickstarter to fund their projects, we’d like to earn people’s money. So if you’d be so kind, please consider reviewing anything of ours that you have read. We’d be very grateful.
In parting, and this applies not only to our books but any book, please note the difference in ratings between sites.
Three stars on Goodreads is not the same as three stars on Amazon. (There is another theory that any review given with less than four stars on Amazon seriously impacts a book’s rankings—kicks it right into the gutter, in fact. Again, this is a theory, but based on authors’ experience, it’s a good one.) For instance, a two-star review on Goodreads should be a three-star review on Amazon, as both mean it was “okay.” Therefore, a three-star review on Goodreads should be a four-star review on Amazon, which helps the author quite a deal more. Again, in theory.
And finally, thank you! Five years strong. We’ve lost some staff along the way, but we’re still dedicated and committed to the long haul. It’s been a hell of a ride so far. Help us keep the wheels on!
by Michael Wehunt
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.
by Michael Wehunt
Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2013, Bracken chose “Stabat Mater,” by Michael Wehunt, as the winner. The contest prompt for this story was this Harlan Ellison quote from a Tor.com interview:
“In the introduction to this new edition of Web of the City, Ellison writes of a possible legend about Ernest Hemingway intentionally destroying his first novel. From the introduction:
“Yes, the story goes, Hemingway had written a book before The Sun Also Rises, and there he was aboard a ship, steaming either here or there; and he was at the rail, leaning over, thinking, and then he took the boxed manuscript of the book…and threw it into the ocean. Apparently on the theory that no one should ever read a writer’s first novel.”
The quote was referring to the reissue of Ellison’s first novel. For the contest prompt, I asked participants to write about tossing away their firstborn child and base it on the same theory Ellison describes above. I also asked that they not take the easy road and write something that involves sacrificial/religious offerings.
To read what Michael did with the prompt, check out “Stabat Mater” in the next issue of Shock Totem, due in January 2014.
This weekend is the yearly Rock and Shock event out in Worcester, MA. Like last year I’ll be sharing a booth with Tom and Billie from Sideshow Press/Gallows Press. We’ll also be sharing space with author and owner of T.R.O. Publishing, Robert J. Duperre, and artist Jesse Young, who did the excellent cover art and illustrations for our edition of James Newman’s The Wicked.
There will also be some lesser-known celebrities in attendance, such as Jack Ketchum, Jason Mewes, Dee Snider, Robert Patrick, Michael Rooker, Kane Hodder, William Forsythe, and some dude name Robert Eggland…or something like that.
The convention runs from 5 PM Friday till 5 PM Sunday. So stop by, say hello, buy some books. It should be a great time.
John won with his story “Scene Stealers.” He previously won our May 2012 contest. That story, “Magnolia’s Prayer,” was then chosen as the overall winner for the year and was published in Shock Totem #6.
The prompt for this month’s contest was the following image:
The rules were simple: What is it for? Where does it lead to? What’s it’s like on the other side? Who—or what—is over there at the end of the line? Because obviously this isn’t a normal roller coaster.
Guzman had a very decisive win, but let’s not forget Second Place winner Paul Edmonds, who won with his story “My Father’s Construction.” And Michael Wehunt placed once again, with “Always Hold Your Loved Ones Close.” This is Michael’s eighth top three finish in nine contests, three of which placed first.
John’s story, plus this year’s four previous winning stories, will be judged by a neutral reader (someone who is not on the staff and has not participated in any this year’s previous contests), and the story he or she chooses will be published in issue #8!
So a big congratulations to all the winners throughout 2013!
Shock Totem Publications is proud to announce that Dominoes, by John Boden, is now available!
Dominoes is a Little Horror Book, the perfect bedtime read for strange parents and bizarro children, a book not only meant to be read but also experienced.
Praise for Dominoes:
“Now for something strangely different: death falls like a hellish deck of bruised songs through the lives of old and young in the unexpected flow of images screaming in Dominoes by John Boden.” —Linda Addison, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial
“Strong stuff. Strange, incantatory, and speaking of things that might already have come to pass. This is some seriously weird shit.” —Gary McMahon, author of Tales of The Walking Wounded, Pretty Dead Things, and The Concrete Grove trilogy
“Equal parts evil and beautiful, John Boden has created a prose poem that reads like a bedtime story that would work best if told right before the apocalypse.” —Adam Cesare, author of Tribesmen, Video Night, and Bound By Jade
“Boden is a master of the surreal. His language is lyrical and haunting, and he packs each sentence with more emotion than other writers manage to accomplish in an entire novel. Dominoes is a wonderfully off-kilter apocalyptic tale of madness and misery.” —Mark Allan Gunnells, author of Asylum, The Quarry, and The Summer of Winters
Every other month we host a flash fiction contest on our forum. The next and last contest of the 2013 begins on Sunday, September 1.
Participants have one week to write a story based on a prompt that we provide. The prompt must be integral to the story. This requirement, we hope, forces writers to pen a brand-new tale rather than submit some previously written or reworked story.
When the week is up, the stories are anonymously posted in the hidden contest forum. The entrants then have three weeks to read each story and vote on their top three. Additionally, most give feedback on each story, thus ensuring everyone gets something out of the contest.
The final contest of the year is in September. Once that winner is announced, all five individual winners throughout the year will be given to a neutral judge, who will then pick his or her favorite. That story will be published in the next issue of Shock Totem!
If interested, sign up here. It’s a good time.
Shock Totem Publications is very excited to announce Zero Lives Remaining, a new novella by Adam Cesare.
Zero Lives Remaining will be released in e-book, paperback, and limited edition hardcover formats. The hardcover will be strictly limited to 75 copies and will come with a very special slipcase, one which we’re pretty sure has never been done before.
Here is the back cover copy:
Robby Asaro is dead.
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 Tiffany Park, one of his favorite patrons, 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.
Look for it in April 2014.