Tag Archives: Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes

Shock Totem #9—Available Now!

We are very proud to announce the release of our ninth issue!


Click for larger image.

In this ninth issue of Shock Totem you will find not only a brand new, previously unpublished tale by Stephen Graham Jones, but also an interview with this modern master of words. Kathryn Ohnaka presents “Buddy,” a twisting, slithering serpent of a tale. The words are pure poetry, with fangs. “Saturday,” by Evan Dicken, follows, creeping and crawling and filled with Things that whisper of doom.

Similar whisperings can be heard in Bracken MacLeod’s “Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods” and most of you will know the voices. Tim Lieder’s darkly rhythmic “Hey Man” will get you toe-tapping and “in the mood.” With a touch of science fiction, Emma Osborne’s “The Box Wife” is sure to leave you uncomfortable. The box wife is one and many, but you’ll recognize all.

Stephen King once called Jack Ketchum “the scariest guy in America.” What scares the scariest guy in America? Karen Runge. And you’ll know why after reading “Good Help.” Peter Gutiérrez provides the poetry with his outstanding “Anteroom.” Closing out the fiction in this issue is S.R. Mastrantone’s “Alan Roscoe’s Change of Heart,” a tale that chips away at a well-mined vein–the near-death experience–but manages to produce an untouched gem.

In addition to the previously-mentioned conversation with Stephen Graham Jones, F. Paul Wilson is also interviewed. The seventh installment of our music-meets-horror serial, “Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes,” tackles the 80s and Catherine Grant provides the editorial, a scary piece that hits close to home for creators and readers of horror.

All that and more!

Here is the official Table of Contents:

* Unacceptable Content, by Catherine Grant (Editorial)
* Buddy, by Kathryn Ohnaka
* Saturday, by Evan Dicken
* Morning Books and Evening Books: A Conversation with F. Paul Wilson, by Barry Lee Dejasu
* Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods, by Bracken MacLeod
* Anteroom, by Peter Gutiérrez (Poetry)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Hey Man, by Tim Lieder
* The Nightmare Rolls On: A Conversation with Stephen Graham Jones, by Zachary C. Parker
* You Are Here, by Stephen Graham Jones
* The Box Wife, by Emma Osborne
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 7, by John Boden and Bracken MacLeod (Article)
* Good Help, by Karen Runge
* Alan Roscoe’s Change of Heart, by S.R. Mastrantone
* 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.

As always, thank you for your continued support!

Please note that if you buy the print edition through Amazon.com, you will also receive the Kindle edition for free.

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Shock Totem #8—Now Available!

Shock Totem Publications is proud to announce that our eighth issue is available for purchase!

Shock Totem returns with its eighth issue, featuring classic tales of hauntings, monsters, and clowns!

Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp, who as collaborators have penned numerous short stories as well as the modern-horror classics Jake’s Wake and Spore, provide “The Barham Offramp Playhouse” and “Depresso the Clown,” respectively. Carlie St. George’s “We Share the Dark” follows a woman struggling to leave her ghosts behind. “Death and the Maiden,” by David Barber, revisits a classic time and a classic character in horror fiction. D.A. D’Amico’s “Watchtower” and John C. Foster’s “Highballing Through Gehenna” both traverse surreal landscapes full of monsters and madness.

WC Roberts, last seen in our third issue, returns with another mindbending slice of poetry, while newcomer Harry Baker’s “Fat Betty” is a stark reminder that sometimes it’s better to give than to take. “Stabat Mater,” by Michael Wehunt, our flash fiction contest winner for 2013, takes parental sacrifice to a whole new level.

You will also find conversations with Cody Goodfellow and rising star Adam Cesare, narrative nonfiction by Catherine Grant, an article by Joe Modzelewski, reviews, and more…

Come see why Shock Totem is billed as “…one of the strongest horror fiction magazines on the market today” (Hellnotes).

Table of Contents:

* Nosferatu: The Origin of Vampires on Screen, by Joe Modzelewski (Article)
* Highballing Through Gehenna, by John C. Foster
* We Share the Dark, by Carlie St. George
* The Highland Lord Brought Low, by Catherine Grant (Narrative Nonfiction)
* A Conversation with Cody Goodfellow, by John Boden
* The Barham Offramp Playhouse, by Cody Goodfellow
* Whisperings Sung Through the Neighborhood of Stilted Sorrows, by WC Roberts (Poetry)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Watchtower, by D.A. D’Amico
* Death and the Maiden, by David Barber
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 6, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)
* Fat Betty, by Harry Baker
* A Conversation with Adam Cesare, by K. Allen Wood
* Stabat Mater, by Michael Wehunt (2012 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
* Depresso the Clown, by John Skipp
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

Currently you can purchase the print edition through Amazon or our webstore. More online retailers will follow in the days and weeks to come. The digital edition can be purchased here.

Please note that all of our releases (except Dominoes) are enrolled in Amazon’s MatchBook program, so everyone who purchases a print copy gets a Kindle copy for free.

Interested in our back catalog? All past issues are still available digitally and in print and can be ordered directly from us or through Amazon and other online retailers.

As always, thank you for the support!

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Announcing Shock Totem #8…

Shock Totem Publications is excited to announce the upcoming eighth issue of Shock Totem magazine.

We do not have cover art finalized at this time, but it will once again be created by the amazing Mikio Murakami.

Here is the unofficial Table of Contents:

* Article (TBD)
* Highballing Through Gehenna, by John C. Foster
* Death & the Maiden, by David Barber
* Narrative Nonfiction (TBD)
* A Conversation with Cody Goodfellow, by John Boden
* The Barham Offramp Playhouse, by Cody Goodfellow
* Whisperings Sung Through the Neighborhood of Stilted Sorrows, by WC Roberts (Poetry)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Watchtower, by David D’Amico
* Fat Betty, by Harry Baker
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 6, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)
* We Share the Dark, by Carlie St. George
* A Conversation with… (TBD)
* Depresso the Clown, by John Skipp
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

We will fill in the blanks as we draw closer to release. Look for it in January 2014!

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Fangoria Reviews Shock Totem #6

John Skipp has reviewed Shock Totem #6 on Fangoria’s website.


Shhh…listen!

“[Jack] Ketchum and I are in firm agreement that Shock Totem is living proof that we’re in a golden age when it comes to the short horror story. Some of the best stories ever written are being written right now.”

To read the full review, click here. Have you picked up your copy yet?

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Goodreads Giveaway—Issue #6

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shock Totem 6 by K. Allen Wood

Shock Totem 6

by K. Allen Wood

Giveaway ends April 06, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Shock Totem #6—Now Available!

Shock Totem Publications is very happy to announce that our sixth issue is available for purchase!


Don’t listen to this guy. Tell everyone!

Shock Totem returns with its sixth issue, featuring stories that range from troubling tales of loss to chilling examinations of mankind’s dark side. In “Lighten Up,” four-time Stoker Award™-winner and Grandmaster of Horror Jack Ketchum gives us a dose of dark humor that still manages to be righteously menacing. “The River,” by rising star Lee Thompson, is a brutal tale of purgatory, wasted life, and regrets.

Soulmates connect through murder, love and revenge in P.K. Gardner’s “For Jack.” In “Orion,” a young girl who has only known darkness makes the ultimate sacrifice—in blood. “No One But Us Monsters,” by Hubert Dade, follows a man who is haunted and tormented by his own crippling fears. Mail hoarding, sin eaters, political horror, Shock Totem #6 runs the gamut.

Also included: Conversations with Lee Thompson and seven-time British Fantasy Award nominee Gary McMahon, as well as narrative nonfiction—a tale of true horror—by Ryan Bridger. An editorial about inspiration; the latest installment of “Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes,” which examines the connections between music and horror; plus reviews and much more…

Come see why Shock Totem is billed as “…one of the strongest horror fiction magazines on the market today” (Hellnotes).

Currently the print issue can be purchased via our webstore or Amazon. More online retailers will follow in the coming days and weeks. Kindle owners can order the digital copy here.

Interested in our back catalog? All past issues are still available digitally and in print and can be ordered directly from us or through Amazon and other online retailers

As always, thank you for the support!

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Announcing Shock Totem #6…

Right on the heels of our fashionably-late fifth issue, we are proud to announce that our sixth issue is primed and almost ready to go. I am doing the layout this time, so I’m making sure everything is perfect. It’s close, though.

For those who have yet to see it, here is the cover artwork:

Once again the cover art was created by the brilliant Mikio Murakami, who has done all our magazine artwork since issue #3.

Here is the official Table of Contents:

* The Spectacular Inspiration Suit, by John Boden (Editorial)
* For Jack, by P.K. Gardner
* Orion, by Michael Wehunt
* The Hard Way: A Conversation with Gary McMahon, by John Boden
* Ballad of the Man with the Shark Tooth Bracelet, by Lucia Starkey
* She Disappeared, by Ryan Bridger (Narrative Nonfiction)
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* No One But Us Monsters, by Hubert Dade
* The Cocktail Party, by Addison Clift
* Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes, Part 4, by John Boden and Simon Marshall-Jones (Article)
* Lighten Up, by Jack Ketchum
* Magnolia’s Prayer, by John Guzman (2012 Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest Winner)
* When We Crash Against Reality: A Conversation with Lee Thompson, by K. Allen Wood
* The River, by Lee Thompson
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)

Yet again we feel this issue sits well apart from previous issues, though without straying too far from what readers have come to expect from us. We dig it, and we’re confident you will as well.

Look for it soon in digital format. Print will follow shortly after, and if interested you can preorder it here.

As always, thank you for your continued support!

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The Eyes of Rough Music

I have reviewed all of the chapbooks that Spectral Press has issued, and all with a hearty dose of favor. I seem to recall stating in an earlier review that the Spectral line of chapbooks seem to share an unspoken theme of loss and haunted lives. Upon reading the latest two, I still hold that opinion.

Simon Kurt Unsworth delivers a strangely bleak tale in Rough Music. The title comes from a folk term for the din created by a concert of ragged instruments such as tin pans, bells and horns, often used to embarrass someone.

The story begins with a man being awakened in the night to the cacophonous sounds of a lone drummer—a mysterious man literally banging away on a pot with a spoon. No one else seems to be bothered by the raucous symphony and our main character dismisses it as his imagination. He feels tension from his wife and his neighbors, as well as a heavy yoke of paranoia and guilt.

As the week rolls on, the nocturnal orchestra continues its nightly performances, growing in its membership until it reaches a crescendo that is both literal and metaphorical.

Unsworth spins a fine tale that weaves a thick thread of unsettling dread into seemingly everyday occurrences. His prose is easy and smooth. I will look forward to reading more of his work.

I had heard of Alison Littlewood but had been unfamiliar with her work. I must be honest, The Eyes of Water did not woo me as much as the other Spectral books have. Most likely just a matter of taste. It is well written and not necessarily a bad story, I just did not seem to connect with it as I did the others.

The story takes place in the Mexican cenotes, a collection of flooded caves. Alex meets an old friend of his while traveling. The chance meeting is followed shortly by tragedy and then by strange events. There are ominous warnings from the locals and creepy visitations in the night from the departed. The stories conclusion is not one that I expected.

There is a lot going on in this tale: caves, diving, jealousy, sacrifice, death and dread. Maybe that was part of the problem I had with it—it seemed too cramped. A small meal with far too many flavors and fragrances that it just became cloying and overpowering.

I still stand by my assessment that Spectral Press is a great small-press entity and that they put out high-quality fiction. Spectral Big Kahuna, Simon Marshall-Jones, knows what he likes and he knows how to pick ‘em. I eagerly await the next chapbook. And statistically speaking, if one out of six chapbooks failed to get me giddy…those are not bad odds.

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The Light and All the Dark

A few years back, I was fortunate enough to review By Blood Alone’s Eternally EP. Here is an excerpt of that review: “Like the legendary Bauhaus (arguably the most famous gothic rock band ever) stylistically mixed it up in the 80s, By Blood Alone have combined many different elements on Eternally, from rock, metal, doom, gothic romanticism, even a little pop, and created a tapestry that is undeniably gothic in style but also much more—if you can listen beyond the free-form, minimalist nature of the songs.”

And so comes Seas Of Blood, By Blood Alone’s first full-length album.

Not a lot has changed since Eternally, in terms of style. I’ve read some call this a progressive gothic album, but I disagree. The band still mixes it up pretty well, but they keep that musical sea a bit calmer than the term progressive suggests. The album does, however, boast some very interesting, style-shifting pieces that also have the metal and symphonic elements kicked up a few notches. This is immediately evident on the opening track, “Serpentarius,” which starts like a lost 80’s-metal classic before shifting into a keyboard-heavy masterpiece. “Wants Me Dead” (re-recorded from their 2004 demo) continues to carry the proverbial metal torch, its fire fed by John Graveside’s galloping “fist in the air” riffs. However, the song’s heaviness seems to come not from the guitar but from the subtle yet chilling keyboard work of Jenny Williamson. “Lovely Lies” and “Nidhogg” embrace a similar style, slowly exuding a sense of dread and foreboding.

With four of the album’s eight tracks walking a relatively similar path, it could have been very easy for the band to get bogged down in a well-traveled rut. Fortunately, By Blood Alone understand balance. The creepy “Undead Friend” plays like a burial waltz for the recently departed—if it were the 1800s. And the twisted and quirky “Little Lady Lillit”—with vocalist Cruella doing her sadistic best at sounding cute and downright devious—reminds me of Emilie Autumn’s post-Enchant foray into her self-dubbed Victoriandustrial style. A new recording of “Deny Yourself”—which was on the Eternally EP—is the album’s heaviest track, relying more on the crunch of guitar and double-bass than the atmospheric veil of keyboards. The epic—and arguably best—of the album is “Seas Of Blood,” a graceful and expansive track that evokes a sort of sad beauty. The music rises and falls with the slow intensity of an ocean swell, Cruella’s voice lightly but passionately rocking on its surface.

By Blood Alone isn’t a flawless band. Part of me wishes the guitars had a fatter, heavier tone, and others have mentioned that Cruella’s vocals aren’t as strong as some others. While those might be valid complaints for most bands, I think it actually adds to the character of the band’s music. There’s something real and warm in its imperfections. And there’s nothing bad about this band, especially when it comes to the songs. A band like Linkin Park might have the luxury of spending two years doing pre-production, two more years of studio recordings and even more overdubs, for what ends up a thirty-minute album with not a note out of place, but it loses the human element in the process—it lacks the passion and defined character of something real. While not flawless, By Blood Alone is a band that is nearly so, in spite—or possibly because—of its flaws. Seas Of Blood is an outstanding album.

Jericho Hill Records | 2007 | 8 tracks (50:19) | File Under: Gothic Metal

Originally appeared in Shock Totem #1, July 2009.

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When the Radio Goes Dead

What happens when you partner the son of a country legend with one of the greatest and most recognizable writers of the century? You get one of the best albums released in 2010, in my humble opinion.

Shooter Jennings has, thankfully, never tried very hard to shake the shackles of his roots. When your father is Waylon Jennings, why would you? He looks and sounds so much like Waylon, it is uncanny. After putting out several albums on his own, all mining familiar territory of honky-tonk outlaw country with tinges of hard rock, he upped the ante.

Black Ribbons was an undertaking, and I would imagine a hard sell to the label. CD sales—and music sales in general—have been on the steady decline for a few years. So how the long hard, dark-eyed young man was able to sell a cynical concept album about the government control of the media, and land the participation of the one and only Stephen King, is nothing short of a miracle. But it worked. Whatever he did, it worked.

The story arc of the album is an edgy one. In the not too distant future, on a given day, the big bad government will take over all voice media, TV, and radio.

The tale follows a lone disc jockey (voiced by Stephen King) as he conducts his final broadcast before the faceless brutes shut him down. The story is told through his spoken tirades and sermons as well as through the songs by his favorite band, Hierophant, which is essentially Shooter Jennings and band channeling whatever styles seem to suit them.

This album most likely horrified fans of his earlier work, as the music contained on Black Ribbons is a multi-headed beast. Taking some of the country flavored rock he has always presented and incorporating elements of nu-metal, industrial, folk, and alternative.

Stephen King does his best to channel his inner DJ, not a difficult task considering he owned his own radio station for some time, and he knows his music. His role is solid and well-played, and makes the album a more enjoyable experience.

Also of note, the packaging for this particular album is among the coolest I have ever seen, every bit as darkly gorgeous as the music within. A masterpiece that will sadly smolder unrecognized for years until someone discovers it and proclaims loudly from the hilltops what it is: A dystopian prophecy, a 1984 for 2011—or more actually, the sad truth.

Rocket Science Ventures | 2010 | 20 tracks (71:33) | File Under: Indie Folk Fusion

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