Tag Archives: Shock Totem Magazine

The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications

In recent days, many in the small press have banded together in support of Ed Kurtz and others who were mistreated by those running ChiZine Publications and some of its authors. I have never had any interaction with ChiZine or its owners, but all of us here at Shock Totem Publications stand in support of any author abused by unprofessional publishers.

Sadly, through the various and many discussions across social media, one person in particular tossed Shock Totem into the fray, particularly to assail my character.

I have been very open about my mistakes as a publisher. I regret them. I publicly detailed all of it here, here, and here.

“At some point in the past year, I stepped back and realized I was slowly but surely becoming a bad publisher.”

I said that and more. There’s no need to go over it all again. There are no smoke and mirrors here.

To further add to that, there have been delays with Shock Totem 11. Life is different for me now. I no longer work third shift from home; I work day shift in the office, and I have an hour commute each way. One of my kids is now in kindergarten, the other is in preschool, and I have to drop both of them off before I head into work. My father is dying, and for the past year I have been taking care of him. If you’ve been paying attention to my Facebook feed, you know I do a lot of fishing and traveling on the weekends. All of these things and more—life has changed for others on staff as well—has dramatically slowed the Shock Totem train compared to our early days. This new issue has taught me some lessons, knowledge which will be used to alter and improve the process for future issues.

I am human, I have made mistakes, and I have owned up to them and righted my wrongs as best I could, as detailed in the posts I linked above. I won’t repeat what vile lies this person has spread about me. I have interacted with countless people in the eleven years Shock Totem has been in existence, and while I am certain not everyone—staff and authors alike—has liked me or agreed with me at times, I am equally certain you will find no one in or outside the small press who agrees with this person.

Shock Totem Publications is not ChiZine Publications. I am not the monster this person describes.

The next issue of Shock Totem is about to drop, and that is far more important. We have eleven fantastic stories from eleven equally great authors, and I’m hoping we can focus on that instead of all the drama and lies.


Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

Posted in Shock Totem News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Shock Totem Returns!

Last week, on Halloween, to the surprise of many, we announced the return of Shock Totem magazine after a relatively long hiatus.

When I put the magazine on hold a few years ago, I was certain we’d return someday. The amount of time and work it took to produce the magazine had become something I couldn’t continue to manage at that time, but I was committed to bringing it back. And though the magazine was on hold, we forged on with the book line, releasing Michael Wehunt’s outstanding Greener Pastures, which quickly became our bestselling book, and had future releases by Kristie DeMeester (Everything That’s Underneath) and Kirk Jones (Aetherchrist) on deck and pretty much ready to go.

Then things changed…

In a nutshell, at some point I realized that, despite my best efforts, I had become incapable of performing the duties required to be the honest, respectable, hardworking publisher I once was—or hoped I was. And that led to my dissolving our book line, which effectively laid Shock Totem Publications to rest.

That hurt. Especially since it was my fault. I killed something I love dearly.

Then things changed again…

On February 23, 2017, a little over a month after transferring most of our books to Apex Publications, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, from which, it became clear, I’d been suffering for years.

But all of a sudden, after I got over the initial fear of dying and losing everything, there were potential answers to the massive questions that had been casting shadows over my life. A few months later, with a new diet and my health on track, all those questions had been answered. I was no longer constantly tired and moody, I was motivated, positive, my mental game was on point, I was sleeping through the night. All of the things that I had previously attributed to simple parental exhaustion, work, burnout, and so forth, had become non-factors. I had been sick all along, and I didn’t know it.

Nearly two years have passed since that day. I am no longer on any diabetes medication—metformin, Invokana, insulin, etc.—and my blood sugar levels remain in the normal range thanks to a new diet and a greater understanding of nutrition and my overall health. I could certainly lose some more weight, but that’s a much slower process and will come in time. The important thing is, I’m good, I’m ready to roll, I’m committed once again.

Out of respect for our past authors, I will not resurrect our book line.

The magazine, however, is different. I put the magazine on hold when I wasn’t as sick as I would become, and now is the right time to bring it back.

John Boden, who’s been with me from the start, is of course on board, as is my wife, Sarah. Mercedes M. Yardley is back as well, and we brought some fresh blood to the table for this new chapter: Chad Lutzke, who I’m sure you’ve heard of, and Tom and Billie Moran, both of whom ran the outstanding Sideshow Press and Gallows Press before taking a break years ago. Together, we make a fine team, and I hope you’ll agree.

We’ll unleash our eleventh issue in 2019!


Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

If you want to be a part of it, please check out our guidelines here.

Thanks for sticking with us all these years!

Posted in New Releases, Shock Totem News, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Importance of (Good) Reviews

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!

Posted in Editorials, Publishing, Reviews, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Shock Totem #7—Now Available!

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


“I see the bad moon rising. I see trouble on the way.”

Shock Totem steamrolls ahead with its seventh issue, featuring tales of classic horror, creature features, heartbreak and loss!

The legendary William F. Nolan offers up “The Horror That Et My Pap–and Other Swamp Stuff,” a tale the likes of which you have never read before. S. Clayton Rhodes delivers “The Gates of Emile Plimpkin: The Gravedigger’s Legacy,” a novelette that veritably oozes horror borne of the 1800s. Damien Angelica Walters (formerly Damien Walters Grintalis) gives us the heartbreaking “Shall I Whisper to You of Moonlight, of Sorrow, of Pieces of Us?” And M. Bennardo supplies this issue’s creature-feature with “Thing In a Bag.”

Newcomers are front and center, beginning with the one-two punch of “Consumption” and “Among the Elephants,” by Victoria Jakes and Amberle L. Husbands, respectively. In “The Long Road,” Kristi DeMeester leads us to the water’s dark edge and tempts us to drink deep, drink long, because we are so very thirsty. Rounding things out is Dominik Parisien’s excellent poem, “Smoking, The Old Sergeant Remembers 30 Mins Past Ceasefire.”

In addition to all the great fiction, you will find conversations with literary stalwart Laird Barron and Violet LeVoit. The early 70s are explored in the fifth installment of the horror-in-music serial, “Bloodstains & Blue Suede Shoes.” Narrative nonfiction is handled by Kurt Newton, and with “The Hook, the Hole, and the Garden,” John Boden delivers possibly the most heart-wrenching piece of nonfiction ever published in Shock Totem.

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!

Posted in New Releases, Shock Totem Digital, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Reads: On Drugs, Zombies, and Creepy Children

Here are a handful of links from around the Internet that we found interesting this past week.

Artist Bryan Lewis Saunders takes several different kinds of drugs and then draws self-portraits. Drugs are bad, m’kay, but the results are interesting.

I’m sorry, zombie friend, but I didn’t quite catch that. One of the funniest things I saw this week was a Bad Lip Reading of The Walking (and Talking) Dead.

Zombies aren’t creepy. Children are creepy. Nothing exhibits this better than this very cool, very strange Reddit conversation about the creepiest thing your young child has ever said to you .

And after you’ve been chilled by little Jimmy’s prophecy of your death, or sweet Molly’s insistence that SOMEBODY IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU, you can finish freaking yourself out by looking at these hyper-realistic dolls…of you.

Knock yourselves dead, darlings. See something cool that should be in the roundup? Drop me an email, or leave a post on our forum. Let’s while away our time in the dark.

Posted in Artwork, Blog, Humor, Recommended Reading, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sign Up for the The Bram Stoker Weekend and WHC Pitch Session

Why? Because you want to pitch your stuff. And you won’t be able to sign up at the convention. You have to do so now.

The Bram Stoker Awards® Weekend and World Horror Convention are combined this year in New Orleans. Pitches to several publishers and one agent will be held on Saturday, June 15. The editors and agent are:

Alec Shane – Agent, Writers House
Blood Bound Books – Geoff Hyatt
Cycatrix Press – Jason V Brock
Dark Regions Press – RJ Cavender
Hydra, Random House – Sarah Peed
JournalStone – Chris C. Payne
Nightscape Press – Mark Scioneaux
Samhain Publishing – Don D’Auria
Tor – Liz Gorinski

To secure your slot, email RJ Cavender at rjc@editorialdepartment.com with your top three pitch choices. In the subject of your email, please write Pitch Sessions – (Author’s Last Name).

All authors will be signed up for two pitch sessions, available on a first come, first serve basis.

Not sure what each publisher and agent are looking for? There’s a website where they straight up tell you. Read it. See if you have anything that fits. Then sign up, and don’t be nervous.

There will be a dark-haired Shock Totem girl in stilettos who will be helping out. Taking you to your pitch session, letting you know when your time is almost up. Straightening your collar and letting you know if there’s lipstick on your teeth. Join me! It will be fun!

But sign up ASAP. Slots are limited and they started filling up immediately.

Posted in Blog, Con Reports, Miscellaneous, Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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?

Posted in Alumni News, Magazine Reviews, Reviews, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Contests, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in New Releases, Shock Totem Digital, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in New Releases, Shock Totem Digital, Shock Totem News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment