Shock Totem Radio
- 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
- Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Soundtrack
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Tag Archives: Shock Totem #4
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Lee Thompson’s work. He writes fast, he writes hard, and he comes up with beautifully tragic stories that are both engaging and soul-crushing.
Gossamer: A Tale of Love and Tragedy is no different. From the very beginning, we’re tossed into an uncomfortably unflinching look at love and loss. Dorothy is a little girl forced to watch her father denounce her mother as a witch. As the sentence is passed, Dorothy hardens her heart and promises revenge.
The main story has to do when Dorothy has lived several lifetimes. She resides in the small town of Gossamer, guardian of an area filled with people that she grows to care for. Then her loneliness puts the residents of Gossamer in danger, and everything changes.
Lee has a clean, easy prose that still manages to be beautiful. He’s especially gifted at writing women, which is rare to see from a male writer. His portrayal of Dorothy and her aunt are both strong and chilling. Later in the book, we are introduced to two more strong mother/daughter characters, and the ineffectual boyfriend. It’s interesting to see the spine and determination in these women, and how far Lee is willing to push them until they either push back or break completely.
This book is full of witches and vampires. It’s full of magical carousals. It’s also full of betrayal, love reciprocated and not, and cowardice. Lee takes the unlovely parts of real life and sets it in a setting so deliciously bizarre that you think you’re simply reading a story, when in fact you’re listening to a man sitting across from you and telling you all about pain.
Gossamer goes down easy and leaves a bitter aftertaste. It’s dark and lovely. I’d recommend it.
This week only we’re running promos on the first five issues of Shock Totem (not including the special holiday issue). Starting today, Kindle users will be able to download issue #1 for free. Tomorrow, issue #2 will be free, Wednesday, issue #3, and so on.
Click the links below to download!
Monday/Tuesday: Shock Totem 1: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Tuesday/Wednesday: Shock Totem 2: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Wednesday/Thursday: Shock Totem 3: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Thursday/Friday: Shock Totem 4: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
Friday/Saturday: Shock Totem 5: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted
We ran a similar promo a little over a year ago, and it generated 10,000 downloads. We hope to once again reach thousands of new readers. If you haven’t read all—or any—of our issues, now is the perfect time. If you have, please encourage others to give us a shot.
Ellen Datlow just released her full honorable mention list for Best Horror of the Year Volume 4, and while there are a daunting 608 stories on that list, we’re very happy to say that seven of them are from Shock Totem authors.
Though none listed will actually appear on the list of 50 featured in the anthology itself, the recognition for our authors is hardly diminished.
You can read their stories in Shock Totem #3 and #4.
And before I end this, I would be remiss if I didn’t send a very big thank-you to Ellen for her time and consideration. Our appreciation is beyond words.
Doing a free promo was a great high, watching the numbers go up and up and up. But the higher you go…
Expected, but the visual is depressing.
As noted in my previous update, we opted to make our digital issues exclusive to the Kindle and lowered the price on a few of them so that they’re all priced at 99 cents. A lot of people dislike the 99-cent price point, suggesting it cheapens the product and conditions buyers to expect that price for all e-books. A valid argument, but it’s something that doesn’t work for us. Not now, at least.
So all digital issues are priced at $0.99. Future issues will likely be priced higher, but not much. For now, though, sales are good. Of course, selling a hundred copies nets $35, so “good” isn’t necessarily monetarily good. But this is about readers, and more readers is what we desperately need.
The digital issues have helped with that. And in an attempt to boost our readership, on Sunday, December 10, we made available for free through Amazon the digital version of our fourth issue. On the surface, it was a great success.
In the span of 24 hours, issue #4 was downloaded 408 times. Sounds fantastic, right? Well, only time will tell. I learned long ago that people love free stuff, but not necessarily for any other reason than it’s free. At conventions, you’ll sell more, in my opinion, if you don’t have a table loaded with free bookmarks, stickers, pins, candy, etc. Just have your product visible and you’ll make more sales.
So the question is, how many of those 408 people will read Shock Totem #4? I am not crazy enough to think they all will, but I’m hopeful enough to think a lot of them will. (Hopefully we see some positive reviews in the future.) If even a dozen read it, enjoy it, and eventually check out more work from our authors or pick up our other issues, then it will have been worth it. But again, time will tell…
We peaked at 587, I believe, on the Free in Kindle Store list. It would have been great to hit the top 100, but we stayed in the top 1,000 nearly the entire 24 hours. Can’t complain about that. But the funniest thing of all, was this:
A once in a lifetime achievement, I’d say. And a fitting one at that.
Thanks to everyone who downloaded issue #4. If you read it, please let us know what you think. I’ll post again on this subject in the future…
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happened. All four issues of Shock Totem plus our brand-new holiday e-book are now available for the Kindle (other formats coming soon). The first two issues and the holiday issue are $0.99, while issues 3 and 4 are $1.99 (because they’re nearly double in size).
[ from one of my all-time favorite albums ]
I originally paid to have issue #1 done by a “professional.” I wasn’t too impressed. So I decided to attempt to teach myself. Easier said that done when you’re as busy as me. But when we decided to do this new holiday issue, which was to be an e-book release, I had no choice but to buckle down and learn the formatting. I wasn’t paying anyone $150 for a two-month turnaround on a rather unimpressive-for-the-cost product.
So this past Monday, after Anthocon, I sat down and began teaching myself how to rock this formatting. A week later, and all our issues are done, including a redesign of issue #1 so that it matches the others.
If you’ve been waiting to check us out, now is the perfect time. All four main issues and the holiday issue for LESS THAN $7! That’s a wicked deal.
Click here to purchase them from Amazon.com, or click the DIGITAL link at the top of our site for additional options.
And please, if you see any issues with the layout, let me know. As I mentioned, I’m a total noob at this e-design stuff. Thanks!
Little Knife Houses
by Jaelithe Ingold
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 Jaelithe Ingold
Ah, but now we have to break Newton’s Law, the rule we set forth in issue #2, which, after publishing Kurt Newton in our first two issues, stated that we would never again publish an author back-to-back.
And for a good reason! You’ll be able to read “Little Knife Houses” in issue #5 (see the cover and more info on that issue here).
“Delay is preferable to error” —Thomas Jefferson
I used that quote in the editorial for issue #2. I should have seen then that I might one day have to quote it again.
Our second issue was delayed. When January of 2010 came around, we found ourselves short of content. Specifically fiction. We finally filled the issue around the end of March, at which point I made the decision to further delay its release until July, so from there we could continue our July/January release schedule.
And we did, for a while. Issue #3 came out in January of 2011, and issue #4 came out in July, right on schedule. And then we hit a wall. The slush pile stopped producing gold. And here we are, once again without enough content for our next issue.
So I’ve made the decision to delay issue #5 until July of 2012. But this time I’m going to be smarter about it.
By the time our belated second issue came out, we were well on our way to filling the next issue, and in the following months we accepted a lot of stories—all of which we put into that third issue, nearly doubling its size. In hindsight, we should have saved a few of those tales for the fourth issue.
But you know what they say about hindsight.
Going back to that second issue, I thought we’d had a hard time finding content because we were still a new publication, that authors weren’t sending us their best work—or any work, for that matter—because they were still unsure about Shock Totem. I see things differently now. Sometimes four months just isn’t long enough to find the right content, at least if we want to keep releasing a magazine that is up to the standards we’ve set with our previous issues.
So hopefully by delaying our next issue, we’ll be finalizing issue #6 when issue #5 comes out next July. That’s the goal, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I just wish I’d figured this out back in July of 2010.
With that said, we do have some content ready for our next issue, and soon we’ll be announcing the overall winning story from this year’s flash fiction contests, which will be featured in issue #5 as well. And how about a peek at the cover?
Can you dig that? I hope so! And how about this…
Before our fifth issue is released, we will be releasing something else: our first non-magazine release. It’ll be a novel, slated for publication in March 2012. We’ll run a contest soon that’ll reveal the name of this novel, but it’ll require some detective work on your part. It should be fun.
Hopefully this will hold everyone over until issue #5 comes out.
You guys have always been great to us, so I thank you for your anticipated patience and understanding. It is very much appreciated.