Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- Shock Totem #11—Available Now!
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
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Tag Archives: Tom Moran
Shock Totem 11 is live!
We’ve put together another fantastic issue for you, our biggest to date, with nearly 60,000 words of fiction alone!
Cover art by Mikio Murakami.
Here is the official Table of Contents:
* Notes from The Editor’s Desk
* The Fluids That Giveth and Those That Taketh, by Chad Stroup
* His Hands, by Natalia Theodoridou
* Georgia on My Mind, by Robert Ford
* Bird on a Wire, by Chad Lutzke (Narrative Nonfiction)
* Our Gentleman of Blue Bay Massage, by Chris Kuriata
* Summertide, by Josh Malerman
* Strange Goods and Other Oddities (Reviews)
* Plague Rooster, by Micah Hyatt (Poetry)
* The Dark Lord of Silk, by Brian Trent
* From “Family Man” to Renaissance Man: A Conversation with Henry Rollins, by Chad Lutzke
* Ichthyosis, by Pierce Skinner
* Mastectomy Scars, by Mark Matthews
* In the Field Where the Fireflies Glow, by Trevor Firetog
* Damage, Inc., by Aaron Dries
* Howling Through the Keyhole (Author Notes)
As I mention in the “Notes from The Editor’s Desk” piece, this one lacks the amount of nonfiction that is featured in past issues, and that is simply because in our push to get all of the submissions read, we weren’t paying attention to the total word count. Ultimately we accepted enough for two issues, and my initial plan was to hold back some stories for issue 12. Knowing what I know now, however, how my work schedule and other responsibilities keep me from focusing on Shock Totem for a good part of the year, I didn’t want to hold those stories any longer than we already had.
So all of them went into this issue! Given the caliber of talent featured here, I don’t anyone will mind.
If you have any questions, please ask. Thanks for your patience and support!
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!
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.
Shades of Lovecraft collects eight tales that are competent and thoughtful tributes to one of the genres founding fathers, heavy on influence and tentacles.
We begin with “Dead City.” After a flood, a town resident refuses to evacuate with most of the populace, he bonds with a strange old man as they realize this flood is merely a doorway to bigger, beastlier things.
“Ensnared” finds the crew of a fishing vessel in haunted waters, hauling in a catch they would have done better to have cut loose.
“The Shimmering” is a wonderful old-school adventure into the more science fiction side of Lovecraftian tributes. A man is the sole heir of his missing uncle’s estate. Upon moving in he makes odd discoveries through reading the volumes in the library. Then he notices bizarre lights in the woods, and upon exploring them finds that there are things much stranger than the lights out there.
All the stories in this collection are strong and well-written. But as it is with a lot of Lovecraft’s original work, they can get a little tedious. Rather, they don’t all resonate. The stories that left an impression, I singled out above; and while I didn’t mention the rest, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them.
With Shades of Lovecraft, Paul Melniczek delivers a lovingly rendered homage to one of the true masters of modern horror literature. Recommended.
After the Mississippi river floods leaves a majority of southern Missouri underwater, good ol’ boy David Miller sets out by boat to see if he can “be of any help” to the neighboring communities. After making his way through flooded fields and soggy streets, he finds himself in the odd little burg of Clayton.
Consisting of strange shacks built on stilts and a boardwalk all above the flood line, it’s like the residents of Clayton knew the flood was coming. David shores up and pays a visit to the town, but the pale and unfriendly denizens, with their glossy fish eyes and strange postures, unsettle him and he leaves.
It’s then that he encounters a couple who fill him in on the town’s ungodly history and their diabolical plan to bring about something this world has never seen—and will never survive.
The Smell of Cherries, by Jeffrey Goddin, is a short collection of horror tales. The ideas within are great, but they all seem to suffer from the same malady: They could have used some extra fleshing out.
Starting off with the titular tale, “The Smell Of Cherries,” we have the time-tested “new security guard on the night beat seeing weird shit” plot, mixed with a bit of the “government experiment gone wrong” trope. It ends abruptly and with little luster.
“Year of the Serpent” finds a truck driver reconnecting with an old buddy and his new girlfriend…who reminds him of a past lover. One long dead.
The third story and my favorite of the bunch is “Night Shoot.” A pair of cops respond to the report of a body being found down by the docks. They find a lot of strange things that don’t quite add up and soon wish they had ignored the call. Even though this story is a bit of a mess—plot points are flirted with and then not ever really expanded on—the vagueness sort of works. It’s more like an episode of a cheesy horror-anthology series than a story.
“The Pacific Club” is the final and strongest story in the book. A nice mystery, but one that reads a little too compacted.
As I said at the start, I think the main issue with this collection would be the cramped feel of the stories; they all hint to larger aspirations that went unrealized.
The Serial Killer trope is a hard one to crack. I mean, we’ve all seen hundreds of movies that have had hundreds of imitators…it’s like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. With Hacks, Brian Knight delivers a gore-drenched love letter to the “stalker in the woods” corner or our horror estate. While not going above and beyond with originality, it makes up for it with strong characters and detailed plotting.
A fine young talent receives an invite to a prestigious retreat for writers. He is ecstatic and eager to attend, not only to hobnob with the elite of his field but to get away from the soon-to-be ex-wife and her unabashed bitchiness.
Once there, the body count starts to rise.
As I mentioned earlier, the plot is fairly cookie-cutter stuff. Where Knight shines is with his rich character portrayals—most of which are based on actual writers I would wager. The writing is strong and the pacing excellent.
Writing is about entertaining the reader. If you can do that, you can’t ask for more. Knight does that with Hacks, and he does it well.
I had no idea what to expect with Bleeding the Vein. The back cover synopsis was cryptic and the artwork strange. I was also unfamiliar with author T.G. Arsenault.
So I shrugged and dove in.
Eddie Townsend used to be a Naval Officer who fell for a Filipino stripper on his first tour of duty. In exchange for sex, Eddie is drawn into an ever escalating quid-pro-quo, with her demands growing more and more bizarre. When he finally makes the discovery that this woman isn’t even human, he has to kill her.
Now, Eddie Townsend is an alcoholic and shambling joke in his home town, spoken of in hushed tones or behind cupped palms.
A vile stench begins to waft about the village. A smell of death and rot. Then strange things happen to the pregnant ladies of Shadow Creek. Things Eddie recognizes. Things Eddie thought couldn’t happen. Not again, anyway.
Arsenault delivers a truly original take on the “evil in a small town” trope, giving us a fresh creature to skulk in our nightmares. I’m not going to spoil it by giving it’s name or origins, but I was compelled to Google it after completion.
Bleeding the Vein is a good old-fashioned horror novel. A small town, its people, and an evil monster. Classic!
After reading Erik Williams’ chapbook, The Reverend’s Powder, I was sold. His lean prose and vicious brutality made me smile and wince at the same time. So when Gallows Press sent me a box of books to review, and I saw his name among them, his was the first to be read.
Progeny concerns sort-of-private detective Frank Baldwin, who does stuff for money. Not handjobs in the bus-station men’s room kind of stuff. He finds people and things for a fee. When he’s hired by a man to locate his missing daughter, a pop megastar, and return her to him for $100,000, it seems too good to be true.
Baldwin uses his familiarity with Tijuana to his advantage but soon discovers that this case is nothing like he expected. Nothing is what it initially seems. The missing girl seems tethered to a vicious death cult, nightmares that could be prophetic, and a terrifying arachnoid god.
If I had any qualms at all with this novel it would be that it’s too short. I wanted more. I hope to read more of Erik’s work. He definitely has the goods.
Later this month, at this year’s Bram Stoker Awards™ banquet, to be held at the World Horror Convention in Utah, Mercedes and I do battle. To the death!
Okay, maybe not to the death.
And maybe it’s not so much a battle.
But we are both lucky enough to have stories included in an anthology up for a Stoker Award. That’s worthy of a battle roar or two!
Demons: Encounters with the Devil and His Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed, edited by John Skipp, features Mercedes’s short story “Daisies and Demons”; while my story, “A Deeper Kind of Cold,” appears in Epitaphs: The Journal of New England Horror Writers, edited by Tracy L. Carbone.
Though some would call me biased, I think both anthologies are worthy of the nod. As I’m sure the other three anthologies up for the award are. So may the best one survi—win! May the best one win.
In other news, John and I have had some very short pieces—by me, “Skipping Shingles”; by John, “Wishes” and “Always Never Enough”—published in Necon E-books’s just-released Best of 2011 flash fiction anthology.
This e-book features all winning and honorable-mention entries from their monthly flash fiction contests throughout 2011, plus a few additional stories from the cover artist, Jill Bauman.
As well, Sideshow Press has finally released the seventh installment in their Black Ink series of extreme fiction (i.e. not meant for children or the weak-stomached). This one features John’s disturbingly twisted “Peter Peter,” which he calls a “tender and sweet, family-friendly tale about the wages of sin.”
I also hear he’s selling bridges in New York.
If any of these books interest you, click on the cover images to purchase.