Tag Archives: James Newman

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—all of 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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Chaos

I had the pleasure of hearing Mary SanGiovanni read from Chaos at the Scares That Care! convention a few months ago. After the reading (and much discussion about haunted mental asylums, creepy places, and eyebrow bugs), I got a copy.

The tone, style, and vibe of the book took me back to 80’s pulp horror, though the setting is contemporary.

Chaos tells the story of Bridgewood Estates, built upon the grounds that were once home to Bridgewood Asylum before it was torn down. The asylum once being the setting for a grotesque and horrific explosion of violence. Now, only the old office ward remains. Unluckily for the tenants, something evil still stains the grounds, and has for decades.

Upon moving in, Myrinda and her boyfriend are greeted warmly by the neighbors. The old lady across the hall nervously extols the virtues of the place, but then the things that haunt the building loosen her nerve and she tries to warn Myrinda about what she’s moved into.

And soon the other residents begin to have their own sinister encounters: the writer who begins seeing the woman shambling in the yard, without feet or hands; the ex-cop who begins a blood-drenched courtship with the mysterious woman in 2-C, a courtship of sticky notes and gifts of flesh; the man who is ordered to murder his wife by the man on the TV. All of these characters and events weave a tale of paranoia and terror.

Bridgewood is the site of a hole between dimensions and the neighbors that are coming through are far from friendly. They’re insane and malicious. It will take all the courage the young couple can muster to try to resolve things before it’s too late for them and the other dwellers of Bridgewood Estates.

Having read a few of SanGiovanni’s earlier works and enjoyed them, I found Chaos to be a bit different. Whether or not it was intentional this seemed to have a nostalgic sense about it. As I stated at the opening, it reminded me of the “evil in a small town” kind of novels I devoured as a teen (and sometimes as an adult): Salem’s Lot, The Wicked, The Ceremonies…that sort of thing.

The writing is strong and vivid, with well-drawn characters and events. It was a great B-movie of a novel, fun and frightening. Probably excellent with popcorn.

Chaos is available directly through www.marysangiovanni.com.

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Shock Totem #8.5—Now Available!

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

Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

Love is in the air. Can you feel it? The most wonderful and diabolical emotion of them all, and we’re going to celebrate it. Ostensibly as a Valentine’s Day issue, but really…it’s all about love.

And horror, of course.

In this special edition of Shock Totem you will find “Clocks,” a beautifully tragic tale told by master storyteller Darrell Schweitzer. “Silence,” by Robert J. Duperre, is a gut-wrenching tale of love, war, and death. You won’t soon forget this one. In “Broken Beneath the Paperweight of Your Ghosts,” Damien Angelica Walters tells of a man and his tattered heart. Catherine Grant’s “Sauce” teaches us that sometimes things left behind are best left alone. Tim Waggoner examines the perfect lover in “The Man of Her Dreams.” “Hearts of Women, Hearts of Men,” by Zachary C. Parker, follows a battered woman struggling to free herself from an abusive relationship while a serial killer is on the loose. In total, nine tales await you…

Like our previous holiday issue (Christmas 2011), the fiction is paired with nonfiction, this time by Violet LeVoit, Jassen Bailey, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, C.W. LaSart, Bracken MacLeod, John Dixon, Brian Hodge, and more. True tales of first loves, failed relationships, misfortune, death, sex, and…meatloaf.

Love has its dark side, folks, and fittingly this issue has very sharp teeth.

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

Table of Contents:

* Clocks, by Darrell Schweitzer
* Lose and Learn, by Brian Hodge (Holiday Recollection)
* Hearts of Women, Hearts of Men, by Zachary C. Parker
* Unlearning to Lie, by Mason Bundschuh (Holiday Recollection)
* Sauce, by Catherine Grant
* Something to Chew On, by Kristi Petersen Schoonover (Holiday Recollection)
* Silence, by Robert J. Duperre
* Hanging Up the Gloves, by John Dixon (Holiday Recollection)
* Golden Years, by John Boden
* Akai, by Jassen Bailey (Holiday Recollection)
* She Cries, by K. Allen Wood
* The Same Deep Water As You, by Bracken MacLeod (Holiday Recollection)
* One Lucky Horror Nerd, by James Newman (Holiday Recollection)
* Omen, by Amanda C. Davis
* The Scariest Holiday, by C.W. LaSart (Holiday Recollection)
* Broken Beneath the Paperweight of Your Ghosts, by Damien Angelica Walters
* Everything’s Just Methadone and I Like It, by Violet LeVoit (Holiday Recollection)
* The Sickest Love is Denial, by Richard Thomas (Holiday Recollection)
* The Man of Her Dreams, by Tim Waggoner
* 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.

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.

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.

As always, thank you for the support!

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Splatterpunk 3

After only reading one issue of the U.K.’s best DIY flavored extreme horror magazine, I’d call myself a fan. So when Jack Bantry sent me the next issue, I dove right in.

I’ll begin by showing my ignorance as to who the cover art is trying to portray, but I’ll be damned if the M*A*S*H fan in me doesn’t want it to be a psychotic Alan Alda brandishing a butcher knife. And again, Wrath James White’s cover blurb—“It makes me nostalgic”—could not be more truthful.

But let’s get to the meat of the sandwich, shall we? The fiction begins with “Balance,” a strange tale by J.F. Gonzalez, wherein a man wakes up to find everything in his life skewed, but not quite that skewed. The same people occupy this life but in differing roles. A heady but not all that extreme tale.

Ryan C. Thomas offers up “Ginsu Gary,” a darkly comedic take on an old urban legend. In this one we meet a flustered mafia henchman as he tries to get the “cleaner” to stop pitching products and get to work.

Splatterpunk editor Jack Bantry teams up with Nathan Robinson to deliver a strange tale of odd justice in “Squash.” Never before have amphibians and revenge worked so well together. Robert Ford turns in a story entitled “Maggie Blue,” which, while being written well and cringe-worthy in its nastiness, seems a bit disjointed and wonky in its logic.

As always, the stories are wonderfully illustrated, this time the guilty parties are Glenn Chadbourne, Dan Henk, and Daniele Serra.

The featured interview this time around is with the always witty Jeff Strand, he of the twist ending and nasty premise, who is not afraid to show a lovable goofy sense of humor. Dig him.

Rounding things out are another interview with editor Paul Fry and reviews (including a great one for Shock Totem’s reissue of James Newman’s The Wicked).

While I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as I did the last, it was still great fun. Please, do check Jack and Splatterpunk magazine out. They have their black hearts in the right place and aim to entertain. And that is the best target.

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Resurrecting the Backlist: The Dead Book LIVES!

As a reader, the first time I came across a new edition of a backlist book was Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. First published in 1983, it was full of wonderfully outdated references that, as an 80s child, I felt right at home with. In 2003, Duane re-released the series under a “New Millenium Edition,” complete with bonus material and updated technology like cell phones. I didn’t understand it, so I dismissed it as a marketing gimmick.

My second exposure to the subject of backlist books was as a writer this past July at Necon. I attended a panel moderated by Lynne Hansen, where she, Christopher Golden, Lori Perkins, Heather Graham, and John Douglas discussed the act of “resurrecting” the backlist and general marketing advice for one’s writing. The panel not only interested me as a writer, but also as a reader. Established authors dusting off their “old” novels creates a library of undiscovered stories released either before I was old enough to read them, like Young Wizards, or that just escaped my attention.

Lynne Hansen, owner at Lynne Hansen Designs, specializes in “book covers that tell a story” and helping authors resurrect their backlist titles. Her clients include Christopher Golden, Amber Benson, James A. Moore, Owl Goingback, Jeff Strand, and Rick Hautala. When I asked Lynne about the top benefit for an author to look at their backlist, her answer echoed my own excitement as a reader: “When a fan discovers you for the first time, you hope that they’ll love your work so much that they’ll want to read your other books. The more books you have in print, the more they’ll have to love.”

In the past few years, many veteran authors are discovering that they are sitting on a gold mine of backlist material. Of course, the reason for books to go out of print is that bookstores can’t carry new releases, classics, and backlist titles in brick-and-mortar stores. However, with the emergence of e-books and the Amazon marketplace, space is no longer an obstacle. Many midlist authors are hoping to again have the luxury of cultivating a fan base without the insane pressure to either hit decent sales numbers or see their books out of print.

Throwing books out of print after a short sales period is a publishing practice that pushed veteran authors like Holly Lisle over the edge in favor of self-publishing their work. On her site, Lisle echoes the sentiments of many authors. “Now,” she says, “frontlist is all that matters, backlist dies, and writing fiction for a living has become not building a career but playing the lottery.”

However, Amazon has kept up with it’s reputation for driving change in the industry and has become the best place to find “new” backlist titles. “I don’t think readers look for re-released titles the same way they look for discount e-books,” said Hansen. Sites like Amazon ensure that multiple editions, “paperback, hardcover, audiobook, etc., are all linked together,” which has been a benefit to authors and a convenience to consumers.

Hansen is passionate about her work, not just for her clients but for readers who “say they’ve wanted to read a book for years but could never find it, and they just downloaded the e-book. And I’ve heard folks say they’re re-reading a book, or even an entire series, now that it’s available electronically. That’s a nice bonus.” As a reader, I appreciate Hansen’s dedication. Nothing makes me happier than finding a new author that has a vast catalog that can be ordered with the click of a button.

Of course, one of the largest benefits to authors using a print-on-demand (POD) service like Amazon and Createspace is “you don’t have to print 10,000 books and store them in your garage just to get an affordable per-copy rate. Companies like Smashwords make it easy for you to upload a single Microsoft Word document and get your e-book distributed to a gazillion different retailers.” As Hansen also mentioned, it isn’t so much the format of the e-book that has made maintaining a backlist possible again, but rather the affordability of the process and the accessibility of those titles to readers.

I’ve heard varied arguments for or against self-publishing. There is an impression that “indie pub” has created a market flooded with unedited first drafts, thrown up for public consumption by amateur writers that are not doing their homework, which is making good writers look bad. Hansen has a much different view: “People like to think that self-publishing is The Great Leveler, but it’s not. Good books still rise to the top and bad books still (generally) fall into obscurity. Sure, there are more opportunities, but there are also a lot more challenges, especially when you’re faced with the prospect of having to do all the production work yourself.”

Fortunately for readers, there is a level of professionalism and dedication that an established author possesses to do it right. The writer seeking to resurrect their backlist has intense work ahead of them in order to re-launch and market their title, which is where Hansen comes in. “If your car breaks, you don’t pop the hood and start checking wires unless you have those skills.” Authors are great at writing books, but a lot more goes into releasing a backlist title for a new market. Obtaining the needed components to resurrect a backlist title take time and energy. This energy is better spent doing the most important task to a writer—actually writing.

“That being said, reissuing a book isn’t as simple as pulling up the Microsoft Word document and adding a copyright page,” said Hansen. “You need to make certain you have the final, edited version of the manuscript and have incorporated any line edits that came from the original publisher. You need the dedication, introduction, acknowledgments, afterword, bio, and links to your online presences.”

Hansen also suggests hiring a cover artist. “You want your name and title crisp and readable, and an image that is striking when it’s small. Most importantly, your book cover needs to resonate with the readers of your genre. If it’s a thriller, it needs to look like a thriller, not like a horror novel. You need a designer who understands marketing, because ultimately, your book cover and blurb are the best marketing tools in your arsenal.”

One difficulty Hansen has faced with marketing her client’s backlist books is “they’re not new books. They’ve already been reviewed and promoted and odds are that your die-hard fans have already read them.” Even authors with an established platform would still need to promote their backlist to a new audience. This might be as easy as appealing to a new generation of fans or hitting the market with the right book at the right time, such as Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala’s Body of Evidence thriller series, featuring young protagonist Jenna Blake.

“In today’s marketplace, the Jenna Blake books would be categorized as ‘new adult’ and is much more likely to be read by adults than by teens. It’s a category that didn’t even exist when the books were being written. For the re-issues, I designed covers that were more familiar to thriller readers than to young adult readers, and we tweaked marketing descriptions to reflect the new focus. It’s really helped the entire series reach many more readers.”

One way that authors can promote their backlist titles might seem obvious: “Backlist books are the gravy, not the meat,” said Hansen. “The best way to promote an old book is to write new ones.”

Personally, I’ve snapped up quite a few backlist titles that were released on Amazon in the past year, including Strangewood by Christopher Golden and The Wicked by James Newman, the latter released by Shock Totem in May of 2012. I was also excited to find Closed Circle Publications, a site created by award-winning sci-fi and fantasy authors C.J. Cherryh, Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher to market their backlist titles.

Keep an eye out for the above authors and their amazing, high-quality re-releases coming to an Internet near you. I personally will continue to forgo the trip to Barnes & Noble (which I’ve never been a fan of, honestly) in favor of staying at home with a beer, or a coffee if it’s early enough, and scouring Amazon and Google in search of new backlist titles from veteran authors. So far, my purchases have been more than worth it and have exposed me to stories that would have otherwise gone unexplored.

If any Shock Totem readers have questions about specific backlist projects, please e-mail Lynne Hansen or visit her website for further information.

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Tales from the Metalnomicon: James Newman

We here at Shock Totem HQ are big fans of Decibel Magazine, and we’ve been very privileged to have a fan in one of their writers.

Shawn Macomber has featured Shock Totem on the Deciblog in the past, and just recently he invited James Newman to stop by and drop some knowledge on writing and music for his Tales from the Metalnomicon feature.

Looking for inspiration? Click here.

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James Newman’s Holy Rollers: The Short Film

Your help is needed. Watch this video…


[ click here for a conversation with director Kevin Woods ]

Now go here.

I’m disappointed this has yet to reach its goal. I’ve seen people raise $5,000 or more for an anthology, and we all know that it doesn’t cost nearly half that much.

There have been charity anthologies published, paid for by pledgers, with proceeds from sales going to the charity. Proceeds from SALES! Thousands of dollars in donations to create something that will generate hundreds of dollars in donations to the charity, if that. Seems utterly ass-backwards, doesn’t it?

Worse, there are now magazines being funded by Kickstarter campaigns—and they’re making a killing! Now tell me, what happens when these magazines don’t make their funding goal? Who’s going to pay then? Surely not the publishers.

I’ve seen other people donate to someone who wants to take six months off from work to write a novel. People donate money so someone else can do this! Seriously. Stephen King used to write in his laundry room, with a board across his lap and a typewriter on top of the board—all while being a teacher, a husband, and a father—and some of you want donations so you can quit your job and write your novel? Bitch, please.

So I find it disheartening to see this Holy Rollers campaign failing to reach its goal.

James Newman is one of the sweetest, kindest writers in the small press. Better yet, he’s also one of the BEST writers around! He may not be the loudest in the room, or the most adept at spamming you on Facebook and Twitter, but he is undoubtedly the kind of writer we need to rally around—because he’s not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass, trying to impress you with stuff that doesn’t matter; James just writes, and he does it goddamn well.

And Holy Rollers deserves a shot. So please visit the Indiegogo page, check out the perks, and consider donating. There’s not much time left, but there is enough.

Please share this!

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Horrorfind Weekend

This coming Friday through Sunday, John, Sarah and I will be down in Gettysburg, PA, for this year’s Horrorfind convention. Shock Totem #3 authors Amanda C. Davis and S. Clayton Rhodes will be in attendance, as well as James Newman, who will also be reading from The Wicked Friday evening.

We had hoped to have a bigger presence this year, possibly seeing some of our authors on panels and the Horror Writers guest list. Unfortunately, despite for three months calling the number on the website, leaving voicemails, and e-mailing the people in charge of organizing the event, we were never able to make it happen.

I got one reply out of at least a dozen e-mails sent, and that came on August 20, seventeen days after I sent the e-mail it was in response to (and months after I first contacted them).

“Unfortunately, our author guest list & reading schedule has already been finalized and we are not taking any additional requests for readings at this year’s event.”

According to the website, there are ten authors on the guest list, eight of which are Samhain Publishing authors. With absolutely no disrespect meant to those authors or the publisher, I find that to be rather unprofessional. Of course, that should come as no surprise to anyone who reads Brian Keene’s blog.

If this sounds like complaining, it’s not. It’s disappointment. Not only were we ignored by the organizers, but our authors were as well, and I know that stings them more than it does me.

That said, I’m glad to see the fantastic Damien Walters Grintalis on the guest list. She’ll be selling pre-release copies of her debut novel, Ink. Yeah! And Ronald Malfi, who is quickly becoming my favorite small-press author, will be on hand, so I’m looking forward to meeting him if possible, and maybe picking up some of his work I don’t own. Nick Cato will be there. Mangos! David G. Blake and his lovely wife, Dawn, will hopefully be there. Plenty of other cool-cool cats will be on hand as well (I just can’t remember who at the moment).

And us! Yes, we will be present and available. And we will have limited copies of Shock Totem, The Wicked—which James will gladly sign—and a few other things our work is featured in. If you’d like to buy anything, let us know. Perhaps we’ll set up shop in the lobby or have a boot sale in the parking lot.

On Sunday we’re planning a pilgrimage up to York to visit the York Emporium, which according to John is the “coolest bookstore” he’s ever been to. Looking forward to it.

See you there?

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Brutal As Hell Reviews The Wicked

Getting a Google Alert that links a review of The Wicked on a site called Brutal As Hell is a scary thing. Not having heard of the site before, I was worried that it was some elitist website run by a bunch of literary snobs that just shred anything read by more than 3.75 people.

Luckily, Brutal As Hell is a site we should all be reading. Fantastic stuff over there! And I’m happy to say, the reviewer, Marc Patterson, gave The Wicked a great review. If you have a moment, give it a read, or at least bookmark the site.

“At 325 pages long The Wicked is a surprisingly quick read thanks to Newman’s immersive storytelling that propels you deep into the pages at a frenzied pace. Time will be lost quickly as you rabidly consume this horrifying tale.”

Have you picked up your copy yet?

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The Horror Booth Reviews The Wicked

A relatively new site–at least it appears that way–called The Horror Booth has reviewed The Wicked. We didn’t send them a copy, so it’s a nice surprise.

“Newman’s writing is very easy to devour in this book and I am curious to read some of his other stuff to see how it compares; he has certainly set the bar high with this one.”

Another great one! You can read it here.

Have you picked up your copy yet?

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