Friday, September 25, 2015

Sisters of Slaughter: The Literary Rise of Garza & Lason

Something very rare is taking place in the horror genre... something that I haven't witnessed for quite some time. Twin sisters who write the nastiest, most horrifying and effective prose in the form of a single literary entity. Yes, take it from me, it's damn rare. It's enough of a feat for one person to write gruesome and macabre fiction with fluidity and a vision that grabs you by the throat and says "You're mine until the last freaking sentence is over and done with!". But for two writers to do it and do it seamlessly -- almost as though the combined might of two intellects and imaginations had merged into a single flesh-and-blood wordsmith... well, like I said, it's rare. More than that, to us in the genre (both those who read the stuff and write it) it's both exciting and encouraging.

The last time I came across a horror-writing sister duo was in 1991 at the first World Horror Convention. Like myself, this twin-team wrote for Zebra Books and under a single nomenclature. Regretfully, I do not recall their individual names (it has been nearly 25 years), but I remember that they were an odd pair; one was an extroverted party girl, while the other was quiet, reserved, and a devout Christian. But they wrote effective horror novels... not very many, but they consistently accomplished a cohesive story that melded well and did not reveal the fact that two people had collaborated on the project, rather than simply one. I have no idea what happened to them. Like many on the Zebra roster of authors, they faded from the scene after the unfortunate implosion of the horror genre in the mid-1990s and the abrupt shutdown of Zebra's horror line (ask me about it some time and I'll tell you a genuine tale of writer's angst and woe.)

Now we have two more on the horror scene, but with much more potential and originality (and downright freshness) than most collaborative teams I've come across in the past two decades or more. They call themselves the Sisters of Slaughter and when you read what they have to offer you can't help but say "Yeah, that moniker fits just right!". Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason hail from Mesa, Arizona, where they raise their families (they are both loving mommies and wives) and write grisly and gruesome tales of terror that make your skin crawl so much that it's a wonder that it doesn't slither right off your bones and cower beneath the bed, dimpled with goosebumps and shuddering in fright. Like most sibling teams, their personalities vary. Michelle is the outgoing, kick-ass sister unafraid to take risks, while Melissa is the quieter, more reserved , and calculating of the pair. Together, the mixture of their individual talents meld almost psychically, resulting in a horror reader's delight... and a horror writer's respect (and perhaps even a little bitty touch of envy).

So far, they have only published a handful of short stories, but what they have published has proven strong enough and effective enough to make the reading public sit up on the morgue slab and take notice. I've had the pleasure of getting to know these two ladies through the magic of social media (namely Facebook) and, in turn, have read both their published and unpublished work, and even edited for them on occasion. My opinion of their literary efforts thus far is extremely positive, not because I am particularly fond of them (I call them 'cuz" and that's the way it feels... we're kin both in terms of professionalism and friendship), but because they are so damn good at what they do. And like all genuinely talented and versatile writers, they can write almost anything, from present day horror to antiquated gothic tales of the macabre that would give Poe and Lovecraft a run for their money.

If you haven't sampled the fiction of the Sisters of Slaughter, then you're missing out, big-time, and you need to correct that unfortunate situation immediately. You can start your indoctrination with their chilling story "A Church in the Middle of Nowhere" in the James Newman benefit anthology, Widowmakers. (Truthfully, I've suggested to M & M that they should seriously consider expanding this story and its incredible characters -- particularly the antagonists -- into a novel-length offering). After you've recovered from that tale of terror, you can move on to even more savage and sinister doings in "Hydrophobie" in Sinister Grin's latest anthology, Fresh Meat 2015.

For someone like myself, who has been in and out of the horror genre for nearly 35 years now, it is exciting, refreshing, and encouraging to come upon a pair of writers as good and imaginative (as well as humble and down-to-earth) as Michelle and Melissa. When you read what they have to offer so far, you will be as hungry as a werewolf beneath the brilliant and transforming influence of a full moon... hungry for, well, fresh meat. Sometimes I can't help but wonder "Where will these two be in five or ten years?" But it doesn't take much imagination on my part to figure that out. They will be at a signing table at some major horror convention with a line of fans winding its way around the walls and out the door, or mounting the podium to graciously receive one of those spooky little haunted houses reserved for excellence and achievement in our particular field of expertise. And after it's all over and done with, they'll be back at home, wiping snotty noses and writing even more tales of sisterly-inspired horror for all of us to enjoy and carry with us for a day or two (or more). Tales that will lay dormant in daylight and then, in the dead of night, return to haunt and horrify, bringing the frantic feeling that something unseen lurks in the dark corners of the room or beneath the bed, ready to reach out of the blackness and lay it's cold, clawed fingers upon your throat, squeezing tight the scream that yearns to break free.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

And the Auctions Begin...

I have now started listing items for the Helping the Hoss Benefit Book Auction for author James Newman. You can check out what I'm listing at the link below:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ladies & Gentleman, Let the Bidding Begin! : The Helping the Hoss Benefit Book Auction for James Newman begins Sunday, May 11th!

As some of you folks may know, I've been putting together a benefit book auction to help raise money for James Newman and his family, to help out with medical expenses, loss of wages due to James inability to work, and household bills. After several weeks of contacting and talking with some of the major authors and publishers in the horror fiction industry, our benefit book auction is about ready to get off the ground. Stacks upon stacks of beautiful books signed by some of your favorite authors in the horror genre are sitting here in the Kelly living room, waiting their turn to be listed on eBay May 11th through the 17th.

If you haven't heard the entire story, here it is. On April 27th , while on a biking trip with his wife Glenda and their two sons, James and his family were relaxing at a table in a picnic area of Sycamore Flats in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina,  when a heavy limb fell from a tree and struck James, causing several debilitating injuries, including four fractured vertebrae in his back and several severe fractures in his left arm. James has had extensive surgery to his arm (which implemented multiple plates and pins) and is wearing a back brace to stabilize his injured spine during the healing process. He will be unable to work for an indefinite period of time and faces months of painful physical therapy. 

James is one of the top authors in the horror genre and is well respected and loved by his peers, readers, and fans. He is also a dear and loyal friend to just about anyone who has crossed his path, professionally or privately. Ol' Hoss (as
I'm fond of calling him) has been a good friend of mine since we became acquainted following my return to horror in 2006. So when I heard what had happened to him, I tell you, I was nearly sick to my soul. After the initial shock passed, I knew that I had to lend a hand any way that I could. So I knocked on some doors (some of them mighty big) and solicited for donations of signed books, then organized this series of horror book auctions to raise funds for James and his family. Day after day, boxes and padded envelopes of books by some of the horror genre's leading authors and publishers began to show up on my doorstep, for which I'm humbly grateful. The horror community has a huge heart, folks; when one of their number falls upon hard times, they are always there to lend a hand any way possible. They go above and beyond the call of duty, with no questions asked.

So far we have 55 signed books written by the likes of Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert McCammon, F. Paul Wilson, Graham Masterson, and dozens of others. Now it's time to offer these beautiful tomes full of weird and macabre story-telling goodness to the horror fans who support us and give us the encouragement to keep doing what we do best: scare the living crap out of you!

The Help the Hoss Benefit Book Auction for James Newman will be split into four days of auction listings: May 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th. Each book will be listed individually for a duration of 3 days (to give folks time to transfer funds to PayPal if necessary), which will make their auctions end on May 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th. If items are not bid on, we will extend the auctions a few days more, relisting the books or combining them in multiple-book sets.

We have autographed books coming in every day, but as of tonight, this is what we have scheduled for the nights of May 11 through 14:

May 11th

The Hunter from the Woods - Robert McCammon
Grimm Awakenings - Bryan Smith
Lesser Creatures - Peter Giglio
The Burden of Indigo - Gene O'Neill
Vector Borne - Michael McBride
December Park - Ronald Malfi
Restless Shadows (slipcased) - Ronald Kelly
Blood Red - James A. Moore
Scratch (remarque by the artist) - Brian Keene
Ugly as Sin - James Newman
The Summer of Winters - Mark Allan Gunnells
Coldbrook - Tim Lebbon
Specters in Coal Dust - signed by Brian J. Hatcher & Ronald Kelly
Legends of the Mountain State 3 - signed by Brian J. Hatcher
Screaming to Get Out - J.F. Gonzalez
The Wicked - James Newman

May 12th

Two Bear Mambo - Joe R. Lansdale
The Lurkers - Kristopher Rufty
Revival House - S.S. Michaels
Dreams in Black and White - John R. Little
Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism - Christopher Golden
World of Hurt (slipcased edition) - Brian Hodge
The Dark'Un - Ronald Kelly
Clickers - J.F. Gonzalez & Mark Williams
The Painted Man - Graham Masterson
The Wicked - James Newman
666 Hair-Raising Horror Movie Trivia - James Newman
Return of the Mothman - Michael Knost
Permuted Press / set of three trade paperbacks

May 13th

Soft and Others - F. Paul Wilson
The Late Night Horror Show - Bryan Smith
After the Burn - Ronald Kelly
Back Roads and Frontal Lobes - Brady Allen
New Dark Voices - Gene O'Neill
The Haunted Forest Tour - Jeff Strand & James A. Moore
A Soul in a Bottle - Tim Powers
The Forum - James Newman
Burial Ground - Michael McBride
Invisible Fences - Norman Prentiss
Seal Team 666 - Weston Ochse

May 14th

The Shining (deluxe slipcased) - Stephen King
Stealing Night - Peter Giglio
The Way of the Flesh - Tim Waggoner
Murder at PK's - Roger Dale Trexler
Pitfall - Ronald Kelly
Clickers / Downward Spiral - J.F. Gonzalez
Animosity - James Newman
People are Strange - James Newman
Missile Gap - Charles Stross
Permuted Press 3 trade paperback set
3 signed book set by Brian J. Hatcher

Of course there will be more coming in as the week progresses (out of 50 contributors who have pledged books, 22 are still in the process of sending their donations), so the four lists above will grow by several authors every day, so keep your eyes peeled for changing developments.

As with every benefit event there are certain rules and conditions, which I will list below:

1. Each auction will be three-days in duration, to give everyone sufficient time to participate and transfer funds to PayPal if necessary.

2. Bidding will be limited to residents of the United States. We would love to include Canada and International bidding, but the expensive postage and chance of damage during shipments outside the US makes doing so more risky and time-consuming. I sincerely apologize for this exclusion in advance.

3. After each individual auction ends, the winning bidder will be expected to make payment, via PayPal, within three days from the ending time (immediately after winning the item is preferred). Upon payment, the money will be automatically transferred to the Newman family.

4. Shipping of the item will be made by Media Mail through the United States Postal Service, unless the bidder specifically requests First Class or Priority Mail and pays for those charges. Slipcased editions will automatically be tagged with First Class shipping in their individual auctions to expedite swiftly and prevent damage in transit.

5. All sales are final and there will be no refunds.

As well as the book auction, we are also taking monetary donations for James and the Newman family. If you desire to contribute in that manner, you can contact me here.

I hope you'll stop on by at eBay and check out the benefit auctions going on during the week of May 11th through 17th. I'll be providing links on my Facebook page and feed, as well as on Twitter, the Cemetery Dance Forum,, and of course here at Southern-Fried & Horrified. Maybe you'll find some rare and incredible signed books to beef up your bookcase... and have the opportunity to help a good man and his family through a difficult time in the process.

See y'all there!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Helping the Hoss: A Benefit Book Auction for James Newman

Whenever I come across someone who I grow to regard with respect and affection, I usually end up calling them "hoss". Hoss is an expression we Southerners bestow upon someone who is not necessarily large in stature (think Bonanza's Dan Blocker), but, instead, large in heart and soul.

I've been calling James Newman "Hoss" for a while now; since 2006 in fact. I reckon it's because I feel a true kindredship with the man; we come from similar backgrounds, are both working men and family men, and share a mutual faith in God. I first saw his name on the spine of a book. After being on a self-imposed hiatus from horror writing for 10 years, I was tentatively considering a return to the genre and the first novel I pulled off the shelf was Midnight Rain. I read the author bio on the inside cover of that paperback and was intrigued. He was from North Carolina, so he was a fellow Southerner. That was enough to prod me into turning that first page and begin reading. After I finished, I put that book down (it has since become one of my all-time favorite novels), grinned, and thought I think I can do this again... but can I do it as good as this guy? A couple of days later I sat down and tried... and I've been writing ever since. Later I discovered that James  had had a similar experience with my novel Fear years earlier, which inspired him to give horror writing a try. So, in a way, our literary connection was mutually beneficial... even though we didn't know each other personally at that time.

Eventually, we did become good friends, through emails and phone calls and horror conventions. He wrote the introduction to my little collection of extreme horror stories, The Sick Stuff, and I wrote one for the trade paperback edition of Midnight Rain. We shared a room at Hypericon in Nashville and I introduced him to Joe R. Lansdale (who later invited him to lunch... which James graciously declined... the big dummy!). He began calling me Dude and I began calling him Hoss and that's how it has been for going on eight years now.

Then last week I heard about James' unfortunate accident; how a heavy tree limb -- a "widow-maker" the park rangers called it -- had fallen on him while he relaxed at a picnic table during a biking trip with his wife, Glenda, and their two sons. The limb had nearly lived up to its nomenclature, fracturing four vertebrae in his back and fracturing his left arm in multiple places. Truthfully, when I heard about it, I felt sick deep down in my soul. One of the most friendly and humble men I'd ever had the pleasure to know had been dealt a devastating blow. So had his family, although the toll on them had been purely emotional. The Newman family was undoubtedly in for a hard time. There would be loss of work, medical bills to pay, and weeks of physical therapy for the Hoss... and a helluva lot of pain.

Oddly enough, I was dealing with an emotional blow of my own at the same time. While heading to work at 4:30 am on Good Friday, I had collided with a stalled car on the interstate at 60 mph. It was a crash that should have been fatal... should have killed me... but, strangely enough, it hadn't. My car was totaled, but I walked away without a scratch. True, I was grateful for God's intervention, but I still found myself emotionally wounded by the accident. I felt terribly down -- depressed, suffering insomnia, experiencing writer's block, looking at my mortality flat in the face and wondering why I had been spared. Then I heard about James' accident and my pity party stopped dead in its tracks. What right did I have to mope around, feeling sorry for myself, when one of my best friends in the writing community was lying in a hospital bed, experiencing excruciating pain at every little movement?

So I put my personal angst aside and went to work. I began to email and Facebook message every horror author and horror publisher that I knew (and many that I didn't) and began to put something together for the benefit of my friend and his family. Looking back, I believe the Lord delivered me from a potentially fatal car crash because He had things He needed me to do. I believe this is one of them.

And, so, on the week of May 11th through the 17th of 2014, we will be holding "Helping the Hoss: A Benefit Book Auction for James Newman". Dozens of signed books donated by the most talented (and good-hearted) authors of the horror genre (as well as many leading publishers of horror fiction) will be put up for bid in multiple auctions during the course of the week. All proceeds from the sales of these books (minus the shipping charges) will be paid directly to James and his family. I would like to extend a huge "Thanks!" to the folks listed below for responding to my messages and donating the books we will be putting up for auction. All of them know, love, and respect the Hoss, and acted swiftly, compassionately, and without a moment's hesitation to make this benefit possible.

Joe R. Lansdale
Robert R. McCammon
F. Paul Wilson
Kealan Patrick Burke
Kristopher Ruffy
John R. Little
Weston Ochse
Michael Wilson/ Permuted Press
Ronald Malfi
Christopher Golden
Gary Braunbeck
Paul Goblirsch / Thunderstorm Books
Graham Masterson
Nate Southard
Mark Allan Gunnells
Richard Chizmar / Cemetery Dance Publications
Brian Hodge
Tim Waggoner
Roy Robbins / Bad Moon Books
Jesus Gonzalez
Bill Schafer / Subterranean Press
Ty Schwamberger
Charles Day / Evil Jester Press
Brian J. Hatcher
David Niall Wilson
Chris Morey / Dark Regions Press
Bryan Smith
Brian Freeman
Ronald Kelly
Gene O'Neill
Michael McBride
Jeff Strand
Mark Justice
Tim Lebbon
Peter Gigilo
Gord Rollo
Michael Knost
Norman Prentiss
Tom Montelone
James A. Moore
W.D. Gagliani

Mind you, this is an incomplete list. I haven't yet heard from half of those I sent messages to and believe that I will before May 11th rolls around. For all you readers and books collectors out there, this would be an excellent opportunity to beef up your bookshelves with autographed books by your favorite horror authors, as well as help a good man and his family make it through a very difficult time.

 I urge you to join us on the week of May 11-17 for this benefit book auction and help the Hoss.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Undertaker's Moon Makes the Bestseller Lists: Record Sales at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

This morning I woke up to see something that I haven't had the priviledge of seeing during my entire writing career... one of my books on not one, but two bestseller lists.

Crossroad Press's 99 cent promotion of Undertaker's Moon has paid off, not only with increased sales, but with an increase in name recognition for Ol' Ron.
UM is currently on the Amazon Kindle Occult Horror bestseller list at #2 and the Kindle regular Horror list at #8. It is on the Barnes & Nobile Nook Sci Fi & Fantasy Bestseller list at #5 (it reached the #2 spot earlier this morning). Not bragging... just happy that more and more folks are now enjoying a heaping helping of Southern-fried horror in the form of Undertaker's Moon.

The 99 cent promotion will be going on through February 4th, so head on over and pick up your copy, either in Amazon Kindle format or Barnes & Noble Nook format. And to all of you who have already purchased UM and helped make this dream come true, many thanks. I really appreciate it and hope you'll come back for more of Ol' Ron's Southern-fried storytelling.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Undertaker's Moon... Now Only 99 cents!

UNDERTAKER'S MOON, my novel of Irish werewolves wreaking havoc in a rural, Tennessee town, is now only 99 cents!
That's right, for less than a buck you can get UNDERTAKER'S MOON in either Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook ebook formats. It features the original novel, plus a bonus novella "prequel" titled "The Spawn of Arget Bethir". And, of course, you also get Alex McVey's legendary "blue werewolf" cover, painted exclusively for UM.
This special offer is valid for a limited time, so sharpen your claws and head on over and grab yourself a copy! The Howler lives!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Restless Shadows... Now Available!

My latest novel, RESTLESS SHADOWS, is now available from Thunderstorm Books.

RESTLESS SHADOWS is the long-awaited sequel to my first novel, HINDSIGHT. Cindy Ann, the nine-year-old girl with the gift of second sight, returns... this time as an elderly woman who works part-time as a police psychic. When a brutal triple-murder takes place in the old tobacco barn -- a murder almost identical to the one that took place there 78 years ago -- Cindy returns to her hometown of Coleman, Tennessee to investigate the massacre. Accompanying her is her granddaughter, Beth, who also possesses psychic abilities. Together they work to prove a young boy innocent of the crime and track down the true culprit, which the evidence indicates to be the original killer, Bully Hanson... who died violently in the winter of 1936.

RESTLESS SHADOWS has now been published as one of Thunderstorm's Black Voltage titles and is limited to 80 signed and numbered copies. It features an incredibly striking cover by horror artist Alex McVey.

Copies are going fast and Thunderstorm tells me that the print run is close to being sold-out. So head on over and grab your copy fast... before it's too late!