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Author Thomas Brannan talks about his APOCALYPSE anthology contribution

 

So, Lovecraft is my jam. The reason I started writing in the first place was a combination of Robert B. Parker and H.P. Lovecraft, meaning, that's what I wanted to write, those two things together (still working on that, by the way). So when this anthology came along, with the option to write fairy tales with either zombies or Mythos, of course I chose Mythos.

I knew there were a lot of good authors out there, thinking the same things I think. We're all surfing the same brainwave, on some level or other, so I wanted something short but impactful, so as not to cross too many lines with other authors. Jack the Giant Killer, all his stories were short things, so that was the foundation for what I built here. It was great fun, and I hope it's as much fun for you.—Thomas Brannan

Check out the dedicated webpage for more info on this anthology.
Twitter hashtag: #LovecraftFairyTales
We even have an Apocalypse shirt!

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

Blitz interview with author Richard Thomas

In 2016 we published our biggest anthology to date in Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. One of those beautiful horror stories was written by the acclaimed Richard Thomas. With another story by Richard coming up in our Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders anthology (out July 28th), I thought it best to share some of Richard’s thoughts with you:

Joe Mynhardt: What makes Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories so special?

Richard Thomas: To me, the whole reason I wanted to be a part of this anthology was to take a run at the idea of beauty and horror, and where the intersect. Maybe it’s me going back to memoires of watching Hellraiser, or even my own dark days when I used to cut myself, seeking answer in the pain and release, but I’ve always found tragedy, and what comes out of it, a compelling story. I know the Nietzsche quote, “What does not kill me makes me stronger” is cliché at this point in history, but really, I think of my darkest days, whey I was lost, abusing myself, stuck in horrible job in isolated communities, the days I saw death around me—at the base of the St. Louis arch, a sheen of blood as wide as the structure, or my friend on the local news, drowned in a creek—and how that shaped me as a human being. You appreciate what you have, you are grateful that the fog has cleared, and you are hopeful that the days ahead will be better.

Joe: Tell us more about your story.

Richard: “Repent” taps into my feelings as a father, and as a man. I have always carried with me a nugget of compressed rage, just in case I need it. I don’t like to fight, I don’t like violence, but I’ve been there a few times, seen things, done things. I know that I would protect my family against society, but what about the things you can’t control—like sickness? What would you be willing to offer up to save your son? What if you’d had a life that was tainted, dark, bad deeds done under the cover of night? The chance for redemption, the ability to save a life, especially that of your own son—well, I think I’d do just about anything to make that happen. So with this story, I want the reader to witness everything that has happened, and to dislike my protagonist, but also see that people can change, and that not every story has to end with death and destruction. Sure, sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train bearing down on you, and sometimes it’s a flashlight to show you the way out.

Joe: Why should readers give Gutted a try?

Richard: I know there is some dark material in here, but I don’t think these stories are without hope, without redemption. So, if you can handle the content, and are looking to feel some strong emotions, to react, then pick it up and dive in.

Richard Thomas
It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares To Life
Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories
Tribulations
Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

  Crystal Lake Publishing   May 10, 2017   Blog   1 Comment Read More

New novel release – THE THIRD TWIN by Darren Speegle

Some things should never be bred…

Barry Ocason, extreme sportsman and outdoor travel writer, receives a magazine in his mailbox and opens to an ad for an adventure in the Bavarian Alps. Initially dismissing the invitation, which seems to have been meant specifically for him, he soon finds himself involved in a larger plot and seeking answers to why an individual known only as the elephant man is terrorizing his family.

Barry and his daughter Kristen, who survived a twin sister taken from the family at a young age, travel from Juneau, Alaska to the sinister Spider Festival in Rio Tago, Brazil, before he ultimately answers the call to Bavaria, where the puzzle begins to come together.

Amid tribulation, death, madness, and institutionalization, a document emerges describing a scientist’s bloody bid to breed a theoretical “third twin,” which is believed to have the potential, through its connection with its siblings, to bridge the gulf between life and afterlife. The godlike creature that soon emerges turns out to be Barry’s own offspring, and she has dark plans for the world of her conception that neither her father nor any other mortal can stop.

Read it today:
Amazon
And add it on Goodreads

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

The Deep End interview…with Darren Speegle

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?

Darren Speegle: I grew up in Alabama, which was different than anything I’ve experienced since. I’m sure it was just another version of every child’s experience, and that every adult probably thinks of his childhood as different. But there was a lot of racism, tensions among area schools that manifested when they met at hangouts or weekend football games. I had a very strict, religious home life, which caused me to rebel fairly hard in my teens, doing drugs, running away, the whole bit. In my later teens, though, I had this group of friends who were pretty cool. They didn’t necessarily excel at school, though some did, but they were smart, had interests similar to my own—books, philosophy, serious music, that kind of thing. None of us knew what we were talking about, mind, but we had the desire to expand. We occasionally did acid in a self-exploratory way, attempting to broaden ourselves. That certainly opened some doors for me. Meanwhile, at home, I’d been a reader since an early age. Even when I began to resist what I thought of then as authoritarian rule in the home, my father was always recommending books and I was always eating them up. Some combination of all this, I think, informed my later writing.     

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?

DS: There wasn’t any specific moment. I wanted to be a writer from an early age. I never really had any sort of career arc, so decisions had more to do with money. When I was married it was a question of, “Can we afford to let you write full time now?” Sometimes we were able to swing it, sometimes not. It wasn’t until after I was divorced and began life as a defense contractor, seven or eight years ago, that I found myself able (between tours) to write full time without the constant worry of whether or not what I was doing was feasible. 

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? 

DS: I was exuberant, proud, relieved, a dozen mixed emotions, and indeed it did motivate me further. The cold reality of how difficult it was, even after publication, set in soon enough though. But I don’t generally have a problem with motivation. My reasons change, what I’m trying to do changes, but motivation is usually there. I have things I want to say and as long as I’m putting the words down, there’s the possibility of somebody hearing it. 

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

DS: That’s an easy one. They dig it. My parents, with whom I have a great relationship now, are proud. It’s something to them because I was going nowhere earlier in my life. To my father especially. He loves literature. Other family and friends are with me. It’s strangers you get the weird vibes from. Some are impressed, many more are suspicious. 

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

DS: It has to be Tolkien early on. As I said in another interview recently, when you’re young and in that dream world of his, the writerly juices, if you have them, are going to start flowing. But that was just where it started. My dad, when introducing me to classics or favourites, saw how Tolkien, Poe, Verne, Wells, even Hawthorne, got me, and so started to steer me in more fantastical or futuristic directions. Overall, I was more into, and had more exposure to, science fiction. He put me on Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Herbert. I branched out, exploring my own interests, eventually stumbling on Clive Barker, whom I found extraordinary. He turned me to darker stuff. I continue to write science fiction in addition to horror/fantastical, but it’s as dark as the rest.  

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?

DS: I would have to go with “Gapping” from PS Publishing’s Postscripts anthology series. It started as a little flame, was published in Australia—Antipodean maybe?—as a vignette. Later, after more than a decade, it spread its petals in my mind into a novelette. It’s about a group of people trapped after a biochemical attack by terrorists in a futuristic Holland Underground, where as a distraction they play a life-and-death game with superfast trains that continue to run though the world above is lost.

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

DS: I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. But at the same time I’m careful not to set strict targets. You’re waiting to fail doing that.

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

DS: War. I’ve been in it. Three tours as a defense contractor in Iraq, two in Afghanistan. It’s hard. It took me a long time to get comfortable writing about it. But if you’re a writer, you write about such things. I’m about truth. In war, ugly as it may be, there is truth. About humans and the human condition.

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

DS: Hiking and biking. I lived in Germany for a while and spent almost every weekend doing one or the other. Multiple day tours along the Rhine or Mosel River, day trips through forest. Did a lot of outdoorsy stuff when I lived in Alaska, too. Camping and such. Traveling has always been a thing too. I explored a lot of western Europe while in Germany. When I was a little younger I liked the party scene—Ibiza, Amsterdam. Nowadays, living in Thailand, it’s the beach. Still like my bicycle and doing the various routes. But it’s a beach-and-mountains setting, all too relaxing.

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

DS: Wow, that takes me back to a nonfiction book that never materialized. A torture/rape/murder case involving the mother (and her cousin) of someone I knew in my twenties. Somewhere in there I found I couldn’t reconcile facts and abandoned the project. But I went to the crime sites with a county sheriff, interviewed multiple people. That’s as far as I’ve ever gone into that kind of thing. Usually, because of the various settings I use in my work, I’m talking to someone about language, customs, peppering for a story. Often this is with people I already know.

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

DS: Being about the truth. In perspective and in practice. Fiction is lies. Lies can’t work without the support of truth. Truth is negotiable if not the raw, cold, hard variety. It has to be your intent to find something when looking through the writerly scope, else what are you doing? Entertainment does not have to be at odds with art.  

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

DS: See above. I’m not sure how other people come to terms with the world, but as a writer, it’s direct access and, through the process, an eventual reconciliation.

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

DS: There was one early on, after a publication in Writer Online. The story was allegorical to a degree, but I didn’t intend for it to be specific. It was set in Florence during the Black Death, told from the point of view of an angel accepting souls. The scrabbling of the rats in the rooms the angel visited was described in detail. This reader took me to mean that the rats represented the struggling and underprivileged and wrote a long note saying how I had affected him. It struck me because I think that subconsciously I must have been doing what he thought I was doing, metaphorically, in the story. It moved me in two ways: that I’d done that and that it had meant something to him.

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

DS: To have produced art.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

DS: The same. Art being truth, and vice versa.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 26, 2017   Blog   Comments Off on The Deep End interview…with Darren Speegle Read More

R.I.P. Andrew Bonime – C.H.U.D. producer

A few months ago Crystal Lake Publishing received permission from Mr. Bonime (with the help of his agent) to publish a C.H.U.D. tribute anthology. Mr. Bonime was extremely excited about the project, and even granted us an interview (which will be published in said anthology later this year). Unfortunately Mr. Bonime passed away recently. The anthology (edited by Eric S. Brown) will however continue in his honor, and will stand not only as a tribute to C.H.U.D, but also to Mr. Bonime himself.

A few friends of Mr. Bonime put the following together:

ANDREW BONIME – A BIOGRAPHY

“Renaissance Man” is a term used to describe individuals with multiple talents, skills, and abilities, who accomplish great things using all of them. Andrew Bonime was certainly one of these people. Born in the Bronx, New York on March 29, 1948, Andy moved with his family to suburban Long Island when he was four years old. Growing up in the town of Wantagh, he began showing musical talent at an early age, and by his freshman year in high school, was leading a successful rock group and consummating the first of his many deals in show business.

Called “The Abstracts,” this classic rock band was cutting demos and playing steady gigs within two months of being formed. They were also playing original songs composed by Bonime and a classmate who wrote lyrics. While other bands were playing sock hops in the gym, the Abstracts were performing two-hour concerts to packed audiences in auditoriums. Bonime also masterminded a recording session at Columbia records in Manhattan, and a record deal that won ‘The Abs’ their first single. He was just 17 years old at the time.

Graduating high school in 1966, Bonime enrolled at Boston University and entered the exciting world of cinema, also making his first venture to the west coast to attend film courses at USC. This led to his connections in the movie industry, and in 1973 he became involved in project development for the movie The Harrad Experiment. Next came Bonime’s role as Co-Producer for the movie The Bell Jar in 1979, and then in 1984, the movie he produced that has become synonymous with his name – C.H.U.D., initially a ‘Grade B’ sci-fi thriller that has today become a true cult classic with a worldwide following.

Bonime moved on from his film career to fully embrace the new digital age, co-authoring the book Writing for New Media, and teaching a constantly sold-out digital media course for The New School, a division of The College of the Performing Arts. It was there that Bonime met Diana Ross, and he was once again back in the studio as Vice President of Motion Pictures and TV for the superstar.

After the tragedy of 9/11, Bonime relocated to Los Angeles to run his film development company, Cloudshine, LLC, and in 2006, produced a Grammy-nominated independent album with female vocalist Laura Pursell. During his later years, Bonime began battling serious medical issues and finally succumbed on March 26, 2017, just three days shy of his 69th Birthday. He leaves a legacy of achievement in music, film, and digital media spanning more than five decades.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 19, 2017   Blog   1 Comment Read More

Cover Reveal – THE THIRD TWIN by Darren Speegle

Coming April 28th, 2017:

Some things should never be bred…

Barry Ocason, extreme sportsman and outdoor travel writer, seeks answers to why an individual known only as the elephant man is terrorizing his family. Barry and his daughter Kristen, who survived a twin sister taken from the family at a young age, travel from Juneau, Alaska to the sinister Spider Festival in Rio Tabo, Brazil, where the puzzle begins to come together.

Amid tribulation, death, madness, and institutionalization, a document emerges describing a scientist’s bloody bid to breed a theoretical “third twin,” which is believed to have the potential, through its connection with its siblings, to bridge the gulf between life and afterlife. The godlike creature that soon emerges turns out to be Barry’s own offspring, and she has dark plans for the world of her conception that neither her father nor any other mortal can stop.

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

New Release: EMBERS: A COLLECTION OF DARK FICTION by Kenneth W. Cain

 

Where darkness dwells, embers light the way.

“Not a squall, not a blizzard ... It's a pulp horror AVALANCHE! That's Kenneth W. Cain's new collection, Embers.”—Mort Castle, Bram Stoker Award® winner


From the author of the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales comes his latest effort, Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader. These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain’s soul.

In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown. For instance, “The Chamber” focuses on a hardened veteran of World War II who has committed heinous crimes. He seeks only to find peace from his conscience, but sometimes that comes at a great loss. “Valerie’s Window” visits a small town amid a tragic end to humanity. Only things are not as they seem, and the more Valerie comes to know herself, the more her reality is revealed. “The Benefit of Being Weighty” has a humorous side, but the theme of this story revolves around fat shaming and the price one must pay for being so ignorant. Hopefully, these three short descriptions have increased your curiosity.

When the dark comes, light a match. Let the fire burn bright and hot. So that when it dies the embers warm you.

“Kenneth W. Cain’s imagination is on full display here. He will take you by the hand, lead you into the darkest places, and you’ll be thanking him every harrowing step of the way. A bright new talent in horror.”—Ben Eads, author of CRACKED SKY

“With prose that is sometimes poignant, sometimes unsettling, but always incredibly dark, Kenneth W. Cain takes readers on a macabre journey with the smouldering burn of ‘Embers.’ A master of weaving tales around seemingly simple premises and ordinary situations with every day folk, Cain never fails to turn a story on its head and deliver a long-lasting sting. You’ll need some genuine embers to warm you after this, for some of these tales will chill you to the core.”—Jim Goforth, author of PLEBS and THE SLEEP

“Collections such as this are the reason that, even after 45 years, I still enjoy reading horror!”—Douglas Draa, Editor of Weirdbook Magazine

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 →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 03, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with Kenneth W. Cain

 

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?

Kenneth W. Cain: Born a stone’s throw from the St. Louis border, I grew up a Cardinals fan living in the suburbs of Chicago. If you know anything about that heated baseball rivalry, you’d know I wasn’t the most popular kid. Although I was shy, I never had a problem stating what I liked, which only added to my troubles. The end to each school day was met with four bullies chasing me from the bus stop to my home. Sometimes, they caught me and beat the living crap out of me. Other days, I made it home safe and sound.
And so it went for way too long. Until one day, when I arrived home safely only to find the door locked. My mom told me she wouldn’t open the door until I faced each of those kids and stood up for myself. So, I learned to fight early on, and I think those tough experiences are what I draw from quite a bit in my fiction. I also use many elements from that area: the sewer drains, the storms, some of the people including my bullies.
High school was a whole different monster. We’d moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia. I’d grown up expecting the older kids to bully me, but that never happened in Pennsylvania. I mostly kept to myself. I had a few friends—a couple I’ve even kept in touch with over the years. It was around then I started working the graveyard shift for Pepperidge Farms over the summers. I spent a lot of time on-call, so I had a lot of free time to watch reruns of all those great shows like The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond and all. That’s when I first discovered Edgar Allan Poe in my parent’s Reader’s Digest collection. And, later, Stephen King’s It, which was my introduction to his work.
I used to spend hours in the basement of this used bookstore, reading short story collections and looking for that next book. That bookstore was like a second home to me, and I read a lot back then, which didn’t do much to help pay for college as I’d intended. I kept going to that store after every semester of college to trade in my schoolbooks for horror. It was a sad day when that store went under.
All of those days and nights, I spent a lot of time in my head. I’ve always had a pretty good imagination, so I think that’s where many of my stories got their roots. Though actually writing a story never crossed my mind until college, when I started taking creative writing and literary appreciation classes. Those were formative years, and occasionally I still find story notes I left for myself back then.

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?

KWC: My high school girlfriend’s parents sat me down and asked what I planned to do with my life. Back then all I wanted to be was an artist. I’d taken private art lessons for years, and it was a passion at the time. My art from those days was dark, though, and not always appreciated. When I told them my plans, they just laughed. So, thinking I’d made a mistake, I decided to go to college for math.
I’d done well on my SATs for math, and I tested high going in. They signed me up for all these special math classes, but none of it appealed to me. I spent a lot of time soul-searching after that first semester, trying to discover myself. I tried many different majors (sociology, psychology, English, history, and others) before eventually landing back on art.
Getting back into art renewed my life, though I continued to pursue writing in the background. I think I even had a few poems accepted to a publication the college put together, though I have no proof of that.
I spent most of my life after school working 60-80 hours a week in graphic design, trying to make my way and support my family. Unfortunately, reading and writing fell mostly to the wayside during those twenty or so years. I’m typically a slow reader, and with so little time, it took me even longer to make it through a book.

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? 

KWC: For me, I felt terrified. I was so afraid of making a mistake. You see, when I got back into writing, I had little idea of what I should or should not do. All I did know was that I loved to write. Even then I had this idea that reading and writing would get me through some hard times. I think that’s why I rediscovered that passion. It came out of a need to escape real-life issues. I was working more than ever then, and playing in an adult league wooden bat baseball league too. So I rarely saw my family, and although I loved baseball, I eventually sacrificed that for work. And then work for my family.
I’m not sure the motivation came until later, when I first felt the criticism that comes with writing. Reviews used to make me very nervous. I watched for them like a hawk, not looking to respond but seeking acceptance. It was actually a Facebook post by Mort Castle a few years back that finally put me at ease, something like “Awards, reviews, and accolades are all nice, but remember that you’re doing what you love. And that’s most important.”
Whatever the actual words were, it opened my eyes. I’ve been more at ease with my writing ever since. I think that’s when I started focusing on writing that better story. My goals have changed, too, with my focus being on writing better fiction. I spent a lot of time rewriting work back then, trying to figure out my weaknesses, and working to fix them. My wife, Heather, was most helpful, showing patience and reading everything with an extremely critical eye.
Eventually I came out on the other side more confident in my skills. But even now, my primary goal is to keep on learning, to keep evolving as a writer. Having refocused my objectives like that has paid off, too.

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

KWC: Most of my friends and family have always been supportive of my writing. Not all, though, and to a degree, the story “The Benefit of Being Weighty” is reflective of that. But overall the support has been good. Whenever I’ve felt like giving up, they’ve been there to pick up the pieces and push me onward. Especially Heather, as her and the kids have sacrificed the most to allow me to pursue writing as a career. After all, it isn’t always the best paying gig. That alone inspires me to work harder, to really push myself. Often, Heather tells me I’m too hard on myself, but I feel like I need to be, as there’s a lot at stake, and I’ve gotten a very late start.

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

KWC: Many people are going to say Stephen King, and I’m not much different. But early on it was Poe. Well, I’d heard Baba Yaga as a child, and that sparked my love for dark fiction. But Poe kept me going back for more. I tore through his work back in high school, and sought other authors because of my love for his writing. So, maybe that’s where the passion really began.
As to who inspires me now, that’s every author. I don’t read a book these days because of who an author is or whether they are male or female. I’m not saying I read blind, because when I choose a book, I see the author’s name. But I don’t choose a book for any reason other than finding something interesting about it, though I do make an effort to read diversely. A lot of times it comes from word of mouth, but in today’s age of social media, it’s quite easy to ask for a list of what people are reading to get some good ideas.
I look at every book as a teaching moment. Good or bad, there’s something for me to learn from a book. Those lessons are what make me a better writer. That said I’m quite fond of Joe’s Hill’s work, especially his short work. I like Ken Liu’s and Damien Angelica Walter’s short work, too. Hill’s “Pop Art” and Liu’s “Paper Menagerie” are stories that inspire me the most, as I’ve always wanted to write a story as perfect as either of those examples.

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?

KWC: I’m most proud of this novelette I’ve been shopping around, A Season in Hell. It’s more of a literary piece with a dark edge, detailing the struggles of a female minor league baseball player through a teammate’s eyes, and how her predicament affects his life. I put a lot of myself into that story, bits and pieces of my experiences playing baseball. Also, I think it shows my feelings about some of these dilemmas on a more personal level, as I’ve always told my daughter she can be anything she wants to be. I believe that, too, very much.

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

KWC: With all these chronic illnesses I’m plagued with, I never really shoot for a target number of words for each day. For me, it goes more in waves. When I’m up, I write like the devil. I might get 10 or more stories done in a week during those periods. I’ve nearly written entire novels during those stretches. I edit mostly during the low tides, as it allows my critical eye to take its time. I don’t pressure myself with daily goals. My focus is to get done what I can, with as much detail as I can. But all writers face deadlines, so I try to stay ahead of mine by focusing on the task rather than the date.

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

KWC: My belief is, and I’ve written about this in Writer’s on Writing 4, we authors should be creating more diverse characters. By that, I mean our characters should be both male and female, represent the LBGT community, and of all colours, sizes, ethnicities, etc. The problem with that is we are often raised with generalizations. For instance, much of what we see on TV or in the movies portrays women as being weak. And sure, there are women who are like that but not each and every one of them. So, if all the female characters in a book are shown as being weak, then that writer needs to work harder because that isn’t an accurate representation of our real world. That said, there will be those who jump on every example that isn’t strong, and that’s wrong, too. Writers need to spend more time trying to create a realistic world with all sorts of people, with all different levels of confidence and strength among other traits. So, perhaps the most difficult struggle with writing is doing that with some sense of accuracy. It’s quite hard to write what you might not know, so you need to put in the extra work in those cases.

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

KWC: I’m a bit manic with words these days. No idea why, but they’re pretty much scrolling through my thoughts at all hours. I’ve written entire short stories in my head like that, before I ever sit down at the computer or take notes. Actually, one of the short stories I’m editing now was written one night while I slept (if that’s what you can call it). However, I do enjoy spending time with my family, swimming in the pool or playing games, occasionally watching movies. I didn’t get to have those days with my father when I was young because he was often away on business trips for long stretches, so it’s always been one of my most important goals. Also, I have reef tanks I tend to quite a bit. There’s nothing more relaxing than observing a reef tank.

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

KWC: My research for characters typically comes of keeping a watchful eye. For instance, a story I wrote for Fresh Cut Tales called “Split Ends” arose out of spotting a mother violently brushing her daughter’s hair at a pool (at least that was how it looked to me). A lot of my stories come of those sorts of observations. When I do need to research a fact, such as I have for my western stories, the Internet often proves satisfactory enough. But I have sought the advice of lawyers and a judge once, trying to make sure I was getting my facts straight. Those queries aren’t usually with friends, though my stable of knowledgeable people has grown much since those stories. So it’s hard to answer that just yet. I suppose I’ll find out next time I need some fact checking done.

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

KWC: I’ve always been awful at putting myself out there. I mean, ask my wife and she might disagree, as I can be quite the social butterfly (her words). That might come from her belief I can talk about most anything, which has sometimes been more of a curse than a gift. What I’m referring to, though, is live readings or talking myself up on podcasts and such. I’ve always been better at putting those things in words than doing them in front of others. I’m terribly critical of myself, and I never am able to turn off the editor, which often makes me stumble over my words. When I make a mistake, I hyper-focus on it. For instance, one of the short readings I did for the Ember’s extra material took some twenty or so takes.

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

KWC: Well, I’ve gotten out there more recently, meeting other authors and talking about the craft and all. That’s been a great experience for me. You now, you sit at a computer all day, all by your lonesome, spending time with fake people you create. It’s a rather introverted practice. So it’s not always so easy turning that off, and suddenly become the extrovert (even if I used to be more one). I’ll talk to anyone who will take the time to talk to me, but I’m not always so great at seeking out those conversations. Still, I’ve gotten better at that recently.

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

KWC: I created all these illustrated books for my children, trying to help them through specific issues and have some fun doing it. I’m actually glad I put them out there, too. When the shooting at Sandy Hook occurred, I made all the digital copies of those books free, offering them to divert the attention of children away from the tragedy. For a while, I made them available free on each anniversary of that event, and others, as well. Somehow, word of what I’d done got to one of the teachers at Sandy Hook, and she contacted me asking for some signed paperback copies for their library. How could I pass on that? It was such an honour, and it really brought on a good cry, as it made me so happy to be able to give back like that.

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

KWC: That’s an easy question. I want—no, need—to write a story to the level of “Pop Art” or “Paper Menagerie”. I place those stories very high on my list because they reached me on a different level than what I expected. There’s a beauty to their words. I want that perfection. Not to hear from someone else who feels I’ve achieved that goal, but to feel it myself, even if no one else ever does. I want all the words to click like some giant puzzle depicting a beautiful scene. That’s my ambition.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind? 

KWC: That wasn’t always an easy question, as I had this need to get my stories out there as soon as possible early on in my career, thinking that was the legacy I wanted to leave behind. As such, not everything I’ve written is at the level I would hope. But I’m not afraid of having all my bumps and bruises out there for everyone to read. I never had the expectation that I would become a great writer overnight. As with any profession, that takes both time and great effort. But, occasionally I did hit the right notes in some of those early pieces. Those are the lower rungs on my ladder, so they’re important to me.
That all changed for me a couple years back, when my daughter started writing. I’m quite proud of both her and my son for their accomplishments. My children are legacy enough for me.

 
Kenneth W. Cain
Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction

Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction

eBook: $3,99
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Genre: Collection

Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.

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A Season in Hell

A Season in Hell

eBook: $2.99
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Genre: Novella

Just one season can change everything. When Dillon Peterson is honored for his baseball career, he must face a ghost that has long haunted him. He is transported back through his memories to a single season in the nineties that broke his heart.

That was the season he met Keisha Green, the first and only woman to play baseball in the minor leagues. He sees what she goes through, what she must endure just to play the game both of them love, and this struggle leads to their friendship. As matters escalate, Dillon finds himself regretting his role in it all, as well as his career in baseball.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

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Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

eBook: $3,99
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Where darkness dwells, embers light the way.

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Writers on Writing Volume 1-4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide
Writers on Writing: Vol. 4
Tales from the Lake: Volume 3

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 31, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

New Release! Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar

It’s launch day over at Crystal Lake Publishing. Sit back and enjoy this 552 page Supernatural Thriller of a novel on Kindle or paperback: (http://getbook.at/Aletheia)!

ALETHEIA by J.S. Breukelaar


Deep below the island, something monstrous lies waiting for Thettie, and it knows her name.

“Family and small town desires and secrets simmer in J. S. Breukelaar's melancholy and affecting mix of literary, noir, and horror by the lake. ALETHEIA is a compelling 21st century ghost story. Don't lose your Gila monster!”—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock.

The remote lake town of Little Ridge has a memory problem. There is an island out on the lake somewhere, but no one can remember exactly where it is—and what it has to do with the disappearance of the eccentric Frankie Harpur or the seven-year-old son of a local artist, Lee Montour.

When Thettie Harpur brings her family home to find Frankie, she faces opposition from all sides—including from the clan leader himself, the psychotic Doc Murphy.

Lee, her one true ally in grief and love, might not be enough to help take on her worst nightmare. The lake itself.

A tale of that most human of monsters—memory—Aletheia is part ghost story, part love story, a novel about the damage done, and the damage yet to come. About terror itself. Not only for what lies ahead, but also for what we think we have left behind.

Brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

“Sometimes the monster lurks within us, and sometimes it prowls the world we inhabit, made flesh. Both reside in this unsettling, moving, and haunting story about family, loss, and the dark shadows that loom at the edge of our perception.”—Richard Thomas, author of Breaker and Tribulations

“In Aletheia by JS Breukelaar the prodigal children of a strange lake come home, their return dredging up old enmities and reopening barely healed wounds. Breukelaar’s prose is as warm as blood and sharp as a scalpel, and even the smallest moment is made miraculous. By turns unsettling, terrifying, and uplifting, Aletheia is a stunning examination of the intersections between memory, love, life and death.”—Angela Slatter, World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings 

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  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 24, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More