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TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL.4 cover reveal!

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Coming this Halloween:

Tales from The Lake Vol.4 book cover

Joe R. Lansdale, The Folding Man.

Jennifer Loring, When the Dead Come Home.

Kealan Patrick Burke, Go Warily After Dark.

E. Grau, To the Hills.

Damien Angelica Walters, Everything Hurts, Until it Doesn’t.

Sheldon Higdon, Drowning in Sorrow.

Max Booth III, Whenever You Exhale, I Inhale.

Bruce Golden, The Withering.

JG Faherty, Grave Secrets.

Hunter Liguore, End of the Hall.

David Dunwoody, Snowmen.

Timothy G. Arsenault, Pieces of Me.

Maria Alexander, Neighborhood Watchers.

Timothy Johnson, The Story of Jessie and Me.

Michael Bailey, I will be the Reflection Until the End.

E.E. King, The Honeymoon’s Over.

Darren Speegle, Song in a Sundress.

Cynthia Ward, Weighing In.

Michael Haynes, Reliving the Past.

Leigh M. Lane, The Long Haul.

Mark Cassell, Dust Devils.

Del Howison, Liminality.

Gene O’ Neill, The Gardener.

Jeff Cercone, Condo by the Lake.

Series: Tales from the Lake
Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

$3,99
Dive into fourteen tales of horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world. More info →
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Tales from the Lake: Volume 2
Tales from the Lake: Volume 3

 

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Sep 25, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Out today! UGLY LITTLE THINGS by Todd Keisling

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THIS IS GOING TO HURT

The eleven stories in Ugly Little Things explore the depths of human suffering and ugliness, charting a course to the dark, horrific heart of the human condition. The terrors of everyday existence are laid bare in this eerie collection of short fiction from the twisted mind of Todd Keisling, author of the critically-acclaimed novels A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man.

Ugly Little Things wraparound cover art by Ben Baldwin

With an introduction by Bram Stoker Award-winner Mercedes M. Yardley and illustrations by Luke Spooner, Ugly Little Things will be your atlas, guiding you along a lonely road of sorrow, loss, and regret. This is going to hurt—and you’re going to like it.

“Todd Keisling is a born storyteller, drawing the reader into artfully constructed narratives that scout the darker end of the literary spectrum with skill and bravado.  A pleasure to read, his stories linger well after the last page has been turned.  Excellent stuff.” – John Langan, author of The Fisherman

Experience it today!
Amazon
Goodreads
Trailer

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Sep 15, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

John Connolly joins WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM line-up

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Huge announcement!

We’re really stepping up our game here at Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m happy to share the current WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM line-up, and update it with a brand new interview with John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker books, as well as NOCTURNES, my favorite short story collection. Thanks to author Marie O’Regan for making this happen.

Author John Connolly

The rest of the line-up includes: Joe R. Lansdale, Bev Vincent, Richard Chizmar, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Jonathan Maberry, Lisa Morton, Ray Garton, Elizabeth Massie, Del Howison, Amber Benson, Tom Holland, Fred Dekker, Kevin Tenney, Tim Waggoner, Michael Bailey, Mercedes Yardley, Jason V. Brock, and many more…

There are a lot more names to announce (huge surprises), and we’ll reveal one new name every week. The book is edited by myself and Eugene Johnson. It’ll be out some time in October or November.

Follow the FaceBook page so you don’t miss out.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Aug 30, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End author interview with Richard Thomas

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The Deep End author interview with Richard Thomas

 

Joe Mynhardt: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Richard Thomas: I was always a big reader. Won a spelling bee in fifth grade, and a reading challenge in sixth grade for most books read. In high school English was always my best subject, and even classes like spelling and mythology really resonated with me. I was reading Stephen King by then, starting with The Shining, which scared the crap out of me.

Author Richard Thomas

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

RT: For sure. I got into writing after seeing Fight Club, the movie. I went and read every book by Chuck Palahniuk and that woke me up, inspired me. I went to his website, The Cult, and hung out, taking classes with Max Barry (which got me my first novel, Transubstantiate), Monica Drake, Jack Ketchum (which got me Disintegration, my second novel, based on his idea to “write your worst fear”), and Craig Clevenger. That got me to The Velvet, another website, where I read CC, Will Christopher Baer (informing my neo-noir voice) and Stephen Graham Jones (who has been a huge influence and inspiration). Based on that success, and a story of mine, “Stillness”, getting into Shivers VI (Cemetery Dance) alongside Stephen King and Peter Straub, I decided to get my MFA. That was the first serious investment of time and money, but it wasn’t until last year that I decided to leave advertising where I’ve been a graphic designer and art director for 25 years, to write, edit, publish, and teach. I now do that full time.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights?

RT: Getting that story, “Stillness”, into Shivers VI alongside King, I broke down and cried. My first true success as an author. I felt like maybe I didn’t totally suck, and that was the first time I got the thrill of the chase and win, and thought maybe this could become my career.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family?

RT: My family is very supportive, and it’s very exciting when I have big news. When I was able to take the advance money from my books Disintegration and Breaker and buy us a new AC for the house, my wife saw it was real money, and not just a hobby. My kids are big readers and really like what I’m doing (yes, they can read some of my work). My wife can’t handle the dark stories, haha. When I went to Transylvania to teach, when I went to UC-Riverside in California as a guest author, when I started teaching at the University of Iowa in the summer—they saw it was real, and how it might be something we could all share in, together. When we drove cross country to LA for The New Black release party that was a blast.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

RT: Early was King for sure, but I don’t write like him at all. I recently sold a story, “Nodus Tollens,” that was probably the first (out of 135 published to date) that actually sounded like him. For neo-noir, it’s definitely Baer. Stephen Graham Jones is a huge influence; he really raises the bar. For instance, his novel Mongrels (I saw an early draft and tried to buy it for Dark House Press but was too slow, but William Morrow did great with it) inspired my “we” story, “Asking for Forgiveness” (long-listed for Best Horror of the Year). His story, “Faberge”, which will be up at Gamut this month (July) inspired my story, “Undone,” which is a 1,500-word story in one sentence. I know, nuts. Anybody I’ve published in my anthologies or at Dark House Press or Gamut have influenced my work. In my MFA it was Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Cormac McCarthy, Joyce Carol Oates, Haruki Murakami and many others. I’m also a big fan of Benjamin Percy, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, Angela Slatter, Usman T. Malik, Brian Evenson, and so many other great voice. The list is huge.

Joe: Instead of just focussing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

RT: Wow, that’s tough. Disintegration is definitely my most personal novel. For short stories, maybe “Victimized” since it’s one of the few that’s a female POV, and the women I beta-tested it with said I did a good job with that aspect of it. It’s almost 7,000-words, so probably my longest short story. I really like the two that came out last year, “The Offering on the Hill” (Chiral Mad 3) and “Repent” (Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories). I was able to somehow write and sell five stories so far in 2017, one, “Battle Not with Monsters”, landing at Cemetery Dance (again). Of course “Chasing Ghosts”, my first story in CD was a big deal. And the one I sold this year to Crystal Lake for Behold is very risky, thrilled that Doug liked it, “Hiraeth”. The work I’m doing this year is pretty out there. Hopefully people like it.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

RT: I don’t write every day. It’s either on or off, working or not. I write in spurts. But luckily I type fast (70 wpm) so I can write a 3,000-word story in a day. My best day was 12,000 words at the end of writing Breaker (currently up for a Thriller Award), in one day. I wrote 25,000 words in 25 days. My biggest week was 40,000 in five days, the second half of Disintegration. If the writing fails that day, I don’t dwell on it. It happens all the time. I step away, do something else, and come back to it.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

RT: I try to avoid writing rape scenes, but there’s an intense on The Soul Standard, in my novella, Golden Geese. I also avoid molestation, incest, beastiality, etc. I’ve only really written one story with molestation, “Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears”, and that was a really hard sell, took forever, even though he exacts justice and revenge. Landed in an anthology with Jack Ketchum. And the only real incest is a storyline in Breaker, but it’s not really true, not what it seems. Out of everything I’ve written, that’s it.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

RT: I love good food, movies, reading, getting outside and doing something physical (hiking, tennis, golf, basketball, biking, games, etc.).

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author?

RT: That not everyone wants you to succeed. There are so many haters. And people constantly surprise me—good and bad. When we launched the Kickstarter for Gamut, which ended up raising $55,000, there were so many people who not only didn’t back it, but did very little to spread the word and support ANY of my efforts. That crushed me. And then they’d send me notes asking when the doors were opening, since they wanted that 10-cents a word paycheck. That hurt. A lot. But then there were people that stepped up and donated books (such as yourself, Joe!) and other items, friends who chipped in several thousand dollars, no strings attached, as we got close, making sure we made it. A total stranger donated $3,000 and when I asked her why, she just said it was important what we were doing, and to just make it happen. She’s now a student of mine, very talented, her work will be breaking out soon, I’m sure. Those people offset the others. Inspired me to keep going.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

RT: It taught me to go after my dreams and to never give up. I don’t think I realised how much my writing career meant to me until I started having success, and realised how fulfilling it was, how important it was to me. I live a different life now, and I fight for every moment.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

RT: There’s a note at the end of Breaker that talks about abuse (the main character Ray deals with abuse in his childhood and in fact the title comes from his working in underground fight clubs and trying to break the cycle of abuse). She said thank you so much for putting that at the end of the book, that she cried, but it meant so much what I had to say about survival, and how the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always a train bearing down, but something a way out of the darkness. That meant a lot. A few people have reached out to say thanks for what I’m doing at Gamut, when it comes to diversity. I’ve had a few gay authors, and gender-fluid authors drop me notes, as well as authors from different countries around the globe, even just authors saying thanks for supporting women. Which means a lot. But to me, I guess I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special, it seems like the bare minimum, to not judge or rejected based on anything but the quality of the writing and how it fits in at Gamut. It’s part of why we read blind, but I also make an effort to let authors know that everyone is welcome.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

RT: To keep writing stories and novels, to be able to keep this dream alive, making a living as an author. It’s not easy. To make Gamut a huge success, to keep it going. Subscriptions have not been great, maybe 200 new since we launched. But if we can only get to double our base of 650, I think we can sustain just based on that. When you add in our editing services, our film series, our retreat, our first Best of Gamut anthology, and everything else—we have a shot. But it’s not going to be easy. I’d love to see some of my work adapted into films. When I write I can see it all unfurling, the film rolling. That would be amazing.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

RT: Man, that’s a great question. I do think about it. I want my stories and novels to be worth reading in 10, 20, 100 years. I want them to be timeless. I know they won’t all survive, but I hope some will. I want to be part of the landscape, to be a name people recognise, and remember. And beyond that, I want to help other authors grow, find inspiration, evolve as writers, and make their mark. I’d like to help their dreams come true, as well.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Aug 25, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Cover Reveal for Jasper Bark’s QUIET PLACES – A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror

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Coming September 29th! Cover art by Ben Baldwin:

Cover art for Jasper Bark's QUIET PLACES - A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror

In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born.

The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip.

It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, with the whole town against her, she must ally herself with an ancient woodland force and trace Dunballan’s secret back to its bitter origins. Those origins lie within the McCavendish family history, and a blasphemous heresy that stretches back to the beginning of time. Some truths are too terrible to face, and the darkest of these lie waiting for Sally, in the Quiet Places.

Quiet Places is folk horror at its most cosmic and terrifying. Blending folklore with psychological terror, it contains stories within stories, each one leading to revelations more unsettling than the last. Revelations that will change the way you view your place in the cosmos, and haunt you, relentlessly, long after you have put down this book.

Quiet Places is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle and has been substantially rewritten and revised for this edition.

Author: Jasper Bark
Writers on Writing Volume 1-4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide
Run to Ground

Run to Ground

$3,99
Author:
Genre: Novella
Jim Mcleod is on the run. More info →
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The Final Cut

The Final Cut

$4,99
Author:
Some stories capture the imagination, others will be the death of you. More info →
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Writers on Writing: Volume 1
Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts

Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts

$2,99
Author:
Genre: Novella
A word of caution gentle reader, these tales will take you places you’ve never been before and may never dare revisit. More info →
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Stuck on You

Stuck on You

$2,99
Author:
Genre: Novella
Cheating husband Ricardo could never keep it in his pants, and now it’s stuck in the worst possible place . His Mexican road trip becomes a nightmare straight out of urban legend when he agrees to take the wrong woman back over the border. A bolt of lightning sees him fused to his fellow cheater on a detour into the backwoods. Now he’s fighting wild beasts and raw nature just to stay alive in this dark comedy romance that blends erotic horror with black humour and extreme splatter. More info →
For the Night is Dark

For the Night is Dark

$0,99
Darkness, our most primitive fear since shadows first moved.

The Dark is coming!

Call your friends. No one should wander through the dark alone. More info →

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  Crystal Lake Publishing   Aug 25, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview with author J.S. Breukelaar

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The Deep End interview with author J.S. Breukelaar

 

Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

JS: I grew up in a small town in western New York State modelled on Little Ridge, in Aletheia. When I was a teenager, my family moved us to Sydney, Australia, which for a small-town American girl was like going to a different planet. I moved back to the States for a while and these days I straddle the two hemispheres pretty seamlessly, but I think that shock to my system—moving from a remote lake town to the big smoke on the other side of the planet—was profoundly disorientating and this sense of disorientation is in everything I write.

Author J.S. Breukelaar

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

JS: No. I was always an author, if not in action then in intention. The moment when I decided to stop taking crap jobs to support those intentions was when I was a young mother and my husband and I decided to go back to school. We had two kids and I was still doing all sorts of part-time jobs like temping and data entry and so on and one of my husband’s colleagues offered me another data entry job. It was worth $300 and I said no. I decided that hell or high water, writing for money—didn’t matter what kind of writing—to support writing for love was going to be the rule from then on. The next week, a friend at Time Warner Publications sent me a book for me to write a sample review. If it was any good, I could be a regular book reviewer for Who Weekly (the Australia-New Zealand title of People Weekly). They took my review and that, along with a gig ghostwriting fashion copy for a clothing manufacturer (like Elaine in Seinfeld for the J Peterman catalogue), was how I paid my way through school. Since then, all my day jobs have been writing or teaching.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights?

JS: I got an article accepted by the San Diego Herald Tribune and I yelled so loud you could hear me down in Mexico. It was a total high. I sold my first fiction story to John Joseph Adams at Lightspeed. Cue more screaming and yelling.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family?

JS: It hasn’t. Of course I’ve made some friends who I wouldn’t have made without being a writer, and my life is better with them in it. My family continues to be the air that I breathe, and the reason I do this is to make them proud, so I love it when they are. Except that probably would have been the case no matter what career I chose. Intense writing jags, when I don’t come out of my office for days at a time, are tough on my husband, but that’s what you sign up for, right? I try and make it up to him.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

JS: Pretty sure that my early career was influenced by writers I read at college, and before that even. Cervantes first, then Poe, Melville, Shelley, Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Oates, McCarthy, Borges. I read, along with Cervantes, a lot of Latino writers and I’m sure they had a lasting influence—Cisneros, Fuentes, Bolano, Marquez—along with Straub, King, Shelley. And the list just gets longer—Stephen Graham Jones, Kelly Link, Joe Hill, Jeffrey Ford, Cathrynne Valente, Amelia Gray, Seb Doubinsky—I wouldn’t call them influences as much as wild rides thundering up the road just ahead of me, just around the next bend.

Aletheia novel, a supernatural thriller by author J.S. Breukelaar

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

JS: I’m proud of my breakout story, “Lion Man.” That took me back to a house that had been haunting me for a while and unleashed a lot of other stories I didn’t know were in me. And I’m proud of a recent story, “Rogues Bay 3030” (Gamut), which is set in a different landscape, a more antipodean place that was harder for me to reach in my fiction, and I’m glad I finally did.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

JS: Itchy all over.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

JS: They’re all difficult.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

JS: I always think about writing. I’m most relaxed when I’m working. I run. I spend time with my family. I’m a Netflix junkie.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

JS: For my first book, which was about a DJ, I met a bunch of musicians and DJs. They were generous of their time and talents, but I’m not really still friends with them. For American Monster, I spent time on the road in Southern California, and people I met worked their way into the book, and I’m grateful for that kindness of strangers. The characters in that book are still very much my friends if that counts.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author?

JS: Being organised. It’s a skill I haven’t mastered yet but it’s the one that, when I do, will give me special powers.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

JS: Not really at all. I wasn’t ever not an author.

Joe: Which response /comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

JS: That’s impossible to say. Every single time anyone reaches out—either in person or on Goodreads or wherever— to tell me that something I wrote touched them in some indelible way, it pretty much proves to me that this thing with words is something we should all just keep doing the best way we can. Most recently I was at WFC and a reader commented that American Monster destroyed them and made them different after that, and by the end of the conversation we were both in tears. I’ll always be grateful for moments like that. Oh, and a beta reader for Aletheia told me that after she finished the read, she went on to an iconic novel by a bestselling author, and the whole time she was reading that she couldn’t get my characters out of her head. “How do you do that?” she asked. So I guess that thing we do, finding characters that live on in hearts and minds, is pretty much the end game here.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

JS: Survival. I don’t mean that flippantly, or even in terms of the “business,” but literally. Getting this wascally wabbit under control is part of that, but it’s ongoing. Every time you think you’ve got it wrangled—words and sentences and story and character and time—it slips out from under and you’re back to that same old thing again. Process. Practice. Survival.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

JS: I don’t think about that, honestly. Kind of like asking a bullfighter or a gladiator or a werewolf about legacies. You’re too caught up in going the distance to think about what happens after that.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Aug 18, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

“The Smoke” by Randall Mincy

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The Smoke

 

Randall Mincy

 

 

Sometimes you can see a faint pillar of smoke rising up out of the trees. On those nights where the wind doesn’t blow, but whistles, the same nights where no one has their car on the road and for some odd reason the crickets forget to cricket, and you find yourself out all alone with nothing but the Chemical Plant that sits close to State.  As if this wasn’t enough, the plant is continuously churning out this unnatural noise that just makes you question every breath of air you take. Only on nights like these is it possible to see the smoke.

The smoke itself could easily be written off as being a product of the ever present fog, or the “who knows what” escaping from the vents from the chemical plant, but to those who are unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of this mysterious pillar, the sight is unmistakable.


Something about the smoke sets it apart. Just hearing about the smoke gives a person a sickening feeling, the same one your grandmother can get when it’s sunny and 75, not a cloud in the sky except for the one that has perfectly shielded just enough of the sun’s rays that you can stay outside for hours without getting too hot, but right as you are enjoying that perfect warmth Grandma walks back inside the screen door, only to warn you of the eminent storm approaching.


One who has caught sight of this eerie billow of smoke often has trouble getting a clear view. You see, for some reason there is a mystery as to exactly where the smoke arises from. It can barely be distinguished from standing on the train tracks, and if you go farther back toward I-64, for some odd reason, the smoke is hardly noticeable. Still, for one reason or another, a person knows it’s there. Many people can truthfully say that they have seen the strange fog, but few have been able to comprehend its existence.


Many locals who believe that there is more to the mysterious smoke than just coincidence, have erected many a tale to explain the occurrence, but one seems to stand atop the rest. A while back, when everybody still lived in the hills, there lived a group of miners who resided somewhere deep in the trees, not necessarily miles back to where no one could easily approach them, but in such a place that made it difficult to be found.  At the same time it was a place where it was easy to find lost souls meandering through the woods on the nights previously mentioned. 


As the story goes, there were three men: Artimus, Winley, and Job. And while the men were not related by blood, through some long-standing relationship, or a binding experience, they were brothers. And on those nights where the crickets forget how to cricket, and the wind doesn’t blow but whistles, the brothers would go out. It is never specified what made them decide to go on this unnatural mission, but what is known is that they were hunting. Hunting for sustenance, hunting for life. On those nights the men would wait, hoping for a curious soul to stumble upon their camp, not knowing what would be waiting in the brush.  

 

But on those nights the men’s hunger would take hold, and when an unlucky creature would cross paths with Artimus, Winley, and Job, no one ever heard a noise, neither a yelp nor a cry, not a grimace nor a moan. All that could be seen was the meek pillar of smoke, rising up from the trees, the smoke that smelled of human flesh.

©Randall Mincy – 2015

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Aug 04, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

New Release out today – BEHOLD!

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Want to see something weird? Embrace the odd. Satisfy your curiosity. Surrender to wonder.

From Crystal Lake Publishing and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated co-editor of the smash hit Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories comes Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders.

Sixteen stories and two poems take you into the spaces between the ordinary—and the imaginations of some of today’s masters of dark and thrilling fiction.

  • A travel writer learns the terrible secrets at a hotel that’s not at all as it seems.
  • A disfigured woman and her daughter explore methods of weaponizing beauty.
  • An amateur beekeeper acquires an object that shows her the true
    danger of the hive-mind.
  • Drifters ride the rails seeking something wondrous that could change their fates forever.
  • A strange creature that holds our very existence in its hands shapes the lives of two lovers to touching and devastating effect.
  • A young man helps his grandfather—and something much more monstrous—atone for bargains made during wartime.
  • And much, much more…

Featuring Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner, Stephanie M. Wytovich, John Langan, Erinn L. Kemper, John F.D. Taff, Patrick Freivald, Lucy A. Snyder, Brian Hodge, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Coake, Sarah Read and Richard Thomas. Foreword by Josh Malerman. Illustrations by Luke Spooner. Cover art by John Coulthart. Brought to you by Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor Doug Murano and Crystal Lake Publishing. Tales from the Darkest Depths.

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  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jul 28, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL.5 submission window opens soon!

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We’re excited and pleased to announce Kenneth W. Cain as the editor for next year’s TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL.5 anthology.

The submission window opens October 1st. Come take a look at our submission guidelines.

 

Series: Tales from the Lake
Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

$3,99
Dive into fourteen tales of horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world. More info →
Buy from Barnes and Noble
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Tales from the Lake: Volume 2
Tales from the Lake: Volume 3

Author: Kenneth W. Cain
Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

eBook: $3,99
Author:
Where darkness dwells, embers light the way. More info →
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  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jul 26, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with Jonathan Winn

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Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Jonathan Winn: I grew up in a very small town in Western Washington State surrounded by trees, trees and more trees. And since I didn’t have a large social circle growing up—my best friend was me and often only me—I spent most of my time alone sitting in my bedroom or under the shade of a tree.

But the solitude of being an outcast—no prom or homecoming or anything like that, really—forced me to connect with my imagination, the creation of elaborate worlds filled with magic and demons and angry gods that lived in the clouds somehow making me feel a bit less lonely. And that, right there, was the beginning of the world I still live in. A world where all my stories begin to this day.

In fact, there were many times I felt like the field I was walking through would come alive and get me or that there were things living in the trunks of the trees that could reach out and grab me and drag me in. Themes I’m still haunted by and that sometimes show up in my work (“Forever Dark” in Tales from the Lake Vol. 2, Martuk… the Holy, The Elder).

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

JW: The decision to be “a writer” was in May of 2005 when I was still primarily a screenwriter/playwright, a hat I’d only been wearing for a year or so.

But, you see, 2005 was the year the first script I’d written—a horrendous dumpster fire driven by hubris and encouraged by caffeine—had made its way, due to events began a decade before at Mark Sourian’s office over at DreamWorks. And that experience, even though I strongly doubt Sourian even saw the script—it was seriously that bad—gave me a surprising shot of confidence and drove me to double down to try and find a way to somehow make it work. It also helped that a friend of mine at the time, a big muckity-muck on Law & Order, knew a thing or two (or three) about screenwriting and saw a glimmer of strong talent in what I was doing, despite the fact I had, at that time, zero clue as to how, exactly, to do it.

And all of this was four years before I’d even considered writing fiction. So by the time I wrote word one on Martuk… the Holy, my first book in 2008, I was already living life as a writer.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights?

JW: I’m not sure what you mean by “success.” Having a short story (“Forever Dark”) I kinda sorta wrote in an afternoon win second place in a contest that put me on an incredible table of contents was thrilling and definitely a success. Locking a book deal with an amazing publisher on the basis of a concept, a pitch, was a success.

But, for me, my drive comes from forcing myself to write outside my comfort zone. To change up rhythm and pacing. To break those earlier rules I’ve set. To push myself and the reader into darker, uncharted waters. In short, the success of my work doesn’t drive me; the need to terrify myself into temporary inertia by demanding I do something different, bold, daring next time out does.

Then again, I’m kinda weird that way.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family?

JW: It hasn’t. My family and my tiny circle of real-life friends don’t read my work. So what I do, how it’s received, sales figures, reviews, and so on, none of that is ever discussed. Those rare times I get to see my real-life friends—schedules allowing—my work is the last thing we discuss.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

JW: Ages and ages ago, I read a lot of Anne Rice. And although I now see her work differently, her The Witching Hour still stands in my mind as one of the best stories I’ve read. I also fell hard for Stephen King’s “1922” in Full Dark, No Stars. The brilliance of that collection actually was the beginning of what became Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast. My eidolon was prompted by that shining example of the kind of reading experience that could be accomplished with just short stories.

I guess I tend to be inspired more by stories than by an author’s body of work. Which is how it should be, I think.

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

JW: Although Eidolon Avenue stands head and shoulders above anything I’ve ever done, without doubt or hesitation Martuk… the Holy, my first book, is what I’m proud of and captures perfectly the surprising journey I found myself on at that time: someone discovering, page by page, that he could really write!

For someone who’d never written a short story or an article or any piece of prose fiction to sit down (without an editor or even an experienced beta reader—I was new, remember, and knew no one in the writing community) and slam out an 80,000 word novel is beyond audacious.

Is Martuk perfect? No. But it’s ambitious. A sprawling epic covering two thousand years. It’s fearless and noisy, quiet and desperate. It’s wounded and yearning, violent and hungry. Martuk may lack the polish of its sequel Proseuche or Eidolon Avenue, which is on a different level entirely when it comes to the writing and storytelling, but what Martuk has in spades is the passionate, carefree excitement of a writer finding his voice.

And that, right there, is worthy of applause. In fact, sometimes I find myself wondering ‘Where the heck did that guy go?’

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

JW: If I did nothing but stare at the ceiling and be absolutely lazy, I chalk it up to life. If I was busy with rewrites on other projects or meetings or conference calls or outlining future work, I chalk it up to life. If the words simply weren’t there and I’ve learned if I push it I always regret it, I chalk it up to life.

In other words, life happens so I try not to sweat it too much. Until I find myself waking up in a panic at three in the morning to write a quick 500 or something.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

JW: I’m not sure how to answer this because I’ve gone horrifically dark in my work. So it would appear as if nothing is off the table for me when it comes to what I’ll write about. I do know that a character showing a shocking lack of empathy tends to make me pause and dig a bit deeper to get the words on the page. Or any psychological tick that results in unapologetic cruelty makes me wince and sigh and sometimes even sob. But those words still hit the page even if I viscerally on a very deep level violently, loudly disagree with what my characters are doing.

Joe: What do you do to distract yourself enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

JW: I’m always working. I’m always thinking of writing. Answering business emails. Outlining future projects. Polishing WIPs. Laying the groundwork to somehow, in some way, open impossible new doors. Even when I take my daily walk or hike or whatever, the wheels are still turning. They never stop, although I do take an hour each night to watch something on Netflix. But that’s it. I end my day thinking about work and I wake up, often too early, thinking about work.

A producer I met with recently made a point of mentioning my passion and drive and it was a compliment I cherished and carried with me for the rest of the day. ‘Cause lord knows to be carried by passion and drive to knock on doors that refuse to open is one heck of a long, lonely journey.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

JW: Though others may disagree, I’m surprisingly shy, so most of the research I’ve done is online or via books I already have—usually world history, political history, history of the Catholic Church and the Pope, the earliest witch trials in the 13th and 14th centuries, etc.—so, no, I’m not friends with my research material.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author?

JW: Prioritising my time. Saying no, politely but firmly, if my calendar is already over-scheduled, but always leaving the door open to future opportunity. Realising my worth as an artist who offers something which should be valued. How to exist and work on no sleep and obscene amounts of caffeine. Not defining myself by bad reviews or good reviews, but how I feel in my heart and in my gut about what I’ve put on the page even if it finds zero readers.

Joe: How did being an author change you as a person?

JW: Being an author made me braver. More courageous. Being an author helped me to care a little less—a lot less?—of what people thought of me or of what I wrote. Being unloved and disliked—‘cause, hey, not everyone is gonna love what you do or like how you do it—taught me how not to define myself through someone else’s eyes. I’m finding this skill, in particular, immensely valuable as I continue marching forward.

I’ve also discovered, especially as I venture deeper into other avenues, that taking the time and making the sincere effort to really be a good person does matter. Being honest, being kind, working hard, pitching in, doing your part, keeping your promises, being responsible, working for an end result where everyone wins… That all matters.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

JW: It’s amazing how seldom readers reach out with their thoughts. But it’s also understandable since reading, by nature, is a private journey you take with the author and I suspect most readers often have trouble finding the words to describe that journey. And that’s maybe how it should be.

I do have to say it was pretty cool when, in 2012 or something, a friend of mine showed up at my door in tears and, without a word, gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever had and then said they’d just finished chapter 49 in Martuk… the Holy and anyone who could write something that monstrous and devastating and heartbreaking and haunting needed a hug more than anybody on Earth. So, yeah, that was cool. Weird, but cool.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

JW: To have my name become synonymous with writing that is strong, stories that are courageous, characters that live and breathe and are emotionally engaging. Narratives that make you pause and think and reconsider. And words that challenge your preconceptions, test your faith, shake your core and leave you different after the read than you were before it.

I want my words to linger long after you’ve closed the book.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

JW: If people can find strength in my failures and inspiration in my successes, and then draw on that to find the courage to be more of who they dream of being, I’ll be happy.

 

Author: Jonathan Winn
Writers on Writing Volume 1-4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide
Tales from the Lake: Volume 2
Eidolon Avenue

Eidolon Avenue

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Eidolon Avenue: where the secretly guilty go to die. More info →
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Writers on Writing: Volume 2
Horror 201: The Silver Scream

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jul 14, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More
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