Friday, September 18, 2020

 THE HALLOWEEN STORE

& OTHER TALES OF ALL HALLOWS' EVE

Now Ready to Preorder!



My new collection of Halloween stories and essays, THE HALLOWEEN STORE & OTHER TALES OF ALL HALLOWS' EVE is now available for preorder in paperback and e-book editions.

When you first enter The Halloween Store, things seem normal. Fun and frightful decorations, ghastly costumes and masks of the season, and bags of candy galore. Then, as you travel farther into its shadowy depths, things begin to change. The air smells of damp autumn leaves and candle-scorched pumpkin. The shelves of All Hallows’ Eve fare grow darker and more disturbing. Strange and unsettling things of Halloweens past and present lurk amid the cobwebs and dust…

Four trick-or-treaters purchase vintage costumes from a strip-mall shop, only to discover that they must sign a mysterious disclaimer for the Halloween celebration to come…

After a man’s missing daughter is found–near death and physically altered–he must once again face a horrifying monster from his own childhood…

A teenage girl hitches a ride after a Halloween rock & roll concert, only to learn that her favorite singing idol has made a pact with the Devil himself…

Three kids receive unusual treats during a Halloween stop at their favorite teacher’s house…

During a random visit to his hometown, a businessman treats a young boy to the joy and excitement of a Halloween festival, only to find that things are not what they first appeared to be…

A rash of ghoulish jack-o’-lanterns leads a small-town sheriff to the doorstep of one of the most notorious serial killers of all time…

An advertisement in the back of an old comic book prompts two friends to place an order that they soon come to regret…

Seven horrific tales and two nostalgic essays… hand-picked for your Trick-or-Treat bag. But beware! With the arrival of a 2020 Halloween, there is no telling what terrifying treats and petrifying prizes may await you!

This is my first collection of Halloween tales since MISTER GLOW-BONES & OTHER HALLOWEEN TALES in 2014. Published by Crossroad Press under the Macabre Ink imprint, THE HALLOWEEN STORE offers five brand new tales, plus Halloween versions of two RK favorites, plus two nostalgic essays .

The official release date for THS is on September 25th. You can preorder the paperback and the Kindle e-book now to receive your copy before the month of October rolls around. For you Nook fans, you can preorder the Barnes and Noble Nook edition here.



If you haven't read MISTER GLOW-BONES, it is currently available in e-book. A paperback edition with new bonus stories will be published by Crossroad Press in October of 2021.

2020 has been a strange and difficult year for us all. Don't let it ruin your Halloween spirit... grab yourself a Trick or Treat bag full of Halloween fun and order now! 


Friday, August 21, 2020

Author's Insight:

HINDSIGHT


 


A while back, I posted series of Author's Insights on my Facebook page, detailing my journey as a mid-list mass market paperback author for Zebra Books. It was a nostalgic and introspective trip down memory lane.. one that was both enjoyable and bittersweet for Ol' Ron. I've decided to repost these Author Insights here at Southern-Fried & Horrified for those who missed it the first time. I hope you enjoy them and get a sense of how things were back then and how a unique era of horror paperback publishing both thrived and perished within the matter of only a few crucial years. 


Author's insight: HINDSIGHT
Original title: THE TOBACCO BARN
Publication date: 1990
Emotion: Bittersweet

After writing and publishing short stories of Southern-fried horror in the small press horror magazines for several years, I tried my hand at my first horror novel. It was heavily inspired by family history... two aspects in particular. First, my mother's life as a child during the Great Depression and her gift of second sight. And secondly, a brutal triple murder that took place in a rural barn during that time, one of the victims being my mother's teenage cousin. I had heard so many stories about the Depression, the murder case, and my mother's childhood from both my mom and my grandmother that the essence and place of time of the mid-1930s was fully accessible. I had no trouble whatsoever writing about rural life in that tragic and hardscrabble period in American history, since I had relived those times through their words.

Some may balk at my claim that my mother possessed the gift of second sight, but it was no laughing matter for her family. I witnessed the anxiety and depression that it brought her... not knowing when it would happen or what she would see. Most of what she saw involved death. The time when I was five years old when she dropped a can of biscuits on our dog's head and immediately saw her brother crushed beneath wrecked truck. Another, when she reached across a fence to take a watermelon from our neighbor and she saw him dressed in his Sunday best, lying in a casket. Both came to pass, as she knew they would. But she never told anyone... never warned them of what was to come. She lived with that awful, uneasy feeling of dread until her vision came full-circle and finally took place.

I based that first novel on the youthful life of my mother and that brutal mass murder and titled it THE TOBACCO BARN, setting the massacre inside an abandoned tobacco-curing barn. I submitted it to my agent at the time, the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, and waited. It was a long wait. They must have submitted it to every publisher in the alphabet, from A to Z, because, two years later, it was finally accepted by Kensington Publishing for their Zebra imprint. My reaction to the sale? A mixture of elation and worried apprehension. After all, this was Zebra Books... the dreaded red-headed stepchild of mass market publishing. I knew how my peers in the writing community regarded the big Z, with its hologram images, foil embossed titles, and -- heaven forbid -- those tacky skeletons. Even after I had become an established Zebra author, I still carried around the stigma of being a Zebra "horror hack". During the first World Horror Convention, before a panel on Regionalism in Horror, Charles Grant looked over at me and said, "I've read your stuff. It's damn good. So... why the hell are you writing for Zebra?"

I guess the one that was most excited about that first novel sale was my mother. It wasn't because the book was loosely based on her life or that it was a dark tale of horror/suspense... her very favorite type of fiction. No, it was because it was something we both had been looking forward to for a very long time. She was my biggest supporter and to see this happen, for her firstborn son, was something she relished with great pride and joy. "You're doing it," she told me excitedly. "You're actually going to be a published author."

Then, almost immediately after the sale, the bad times came. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer (she had never smoked a cigarette in her life, but had grown up around smokers most of her childhood and in the Nashville textile mill she had worked in before marrying my father). A difficult surgery took place in February of 1989 and, for a while, she seemed to recover completely. Then in the fall of that year it came back with a vengeance. She began to spend more time in the hospital than at home and her weight dropped away drastically. I urged her to read the type-written manuscript of THE TOBACCO BARN (by then retitled HINDSIGHT by the powers that be in the Zebra editorial ranks). But she refused. "I want to read it as a real book," she told me. "I want to hold it in my hands and smell the ink and paper and just devour it...knowing that it came from your imagination and your heart."

But, as it turned out, she never did. As September passed into October, she grew sicker and horribly frail. She went to the hospital for the very last time and never came home. The cancer that ravaged her body took hold of her brain in early November and she began to fade. Her last words to me before lapsing into a coma: "Look at all the pretty flowers!" Later, I would wonder if she had caught a glimpse of Heaven, or had foreseen her own funeral... because every wall of that funeral home ended up covered with flower arrangements from the people who loved her the most, which were many.

A month after her passing, Zebra sent me copies of HINDSIGHT, several weeks before it hit the bookstores. It was the darkest and loneliest December I ever spent. But I didn't forsake her memory or the things she loved best. I put up the Christmas tree as always and sat in the darkness, staring at the wink and blink of the colored lights.

In early January, HINDSIGHT was released. To say that holding it in my hands was bittersweet would be an understatement. Then came the book signings and the fanfare, and the preparation of my next novel, PITFALL, which I had sold to Zebra six months earlier. In time, I learned to love that simple horror novel with the cover of the frightened child in the barn doorway and the disembodied eyes that leered at her from the darkness. And I would think of Mama and wonder if they had a Horror section in the libraries of Heaven.

Friday, March 15, 2019

SADDLES, SIX-SHOOTERS, & SEX

Writing for the Jake Logan Series




You may not be aware of it, but novels of Southern horror weren't the only books I wrote in the early 1990s. I also wrote western novels... albeit under a different name. A very famous name as far as long-running western series were concerned. 


Yes, I wrote two novels for the Jake Logan series. That seemingly un-ending line of adult westerns that featured the adventures of John Slocum, an ex-Confederate soldier turned drifter, gambler, lawman, outlaw, cowboy, and about any other occupation that folks in the Old West took up in those bygone days. It was also one of the first series -- along with Longarm, Lone Star, The Gunsmith, and Edge -- that incorporated a healthy dose of hot, steamy sex into its adventurous storylines. 


And how did a young author, just starting out in the business, net such a writing coup? Well, pour yourself a shot of rotgut, light up a Clint Eastwood cheroot, and I'll give you the lowdown.


In 1992, around the time that Moon of the Werewolf (Undertaker's Moon) was published by Zebra Books, my agent at the time, Joshua Bilmes of the Scott Meredith Agency, called and asked if I would consider filling a lucrative writing spot that had suddenly opened up. When I asked him which one, he said Jake Logan. Now, I had only heard of the series and seen them on about every bookstore rack imaginable, but had never actually read one. I must admit, I was a tad hesitant to answer with a resounding "Hell, yeah!" You see, I was like most young authors back then and one thing I had equal portions of were pride and a bit of an overblown ego. What? I thought, "write a book that won't be published under MY name!" The thought of ghost-writing at the time was almost taboo in the back of my mind. After all, the main reason I wrote under my natural moniker of Ronald Kelly -- and balked at the thought of using a pen name like some of my contemporaries -- was because I felt I had something to prove. A high school creative writing teacher -- upon learning that had no plans to attend college -- shook her head in patronizing pity. "No one becomes a published author without a college education," she said, as if giving a grim and gloomy eulogy at a funeral of my own making. But, coming from a rural family where folks barely graduated high school, let alone even contemplated college, I followed family tradition and got a full-time job in the factories, while attempting to forge a writing career on the side. It took twelve long years of honing my writing skills through trial and error, and submitting endless reams of short stories and articles without success, before I finally began selling horror stories to little small press horror magazines in the mid-80s; publications like Deathrealm, Grue, Noctupla, and, of course, Rich Chizmar's Cemetery Dance.


Anyway, I told my agent that I would consider it and would let him know something within a week or two. He told me not to wait very long. Apparently, Jake Logan had a small stable of ghost writers, four or five at the most, and the one I was to replace had, sadly, kicked the bucket. If I didn't jump into the empty spot soon, it would go to another writer.


I wrestled with the idea for a few days, then decided to call someone who had been in the publishing business a while longer than I had. The someone I called for advice was none other than Joe R. Lansdale, hisownself. Now, I had known Joe for a while; we'd traded correspondence and talked over the phone from time to time (that's what we did back yonder before the internet made things a hell of a lot easier), and a year earlier he had accepted my dark Louisiana Cajun story "Beneath Black Bayou" for Dark at Heart, a crime/suspense/horror anthology that he and his wife, Karen, had put together for Dark Harvest.  So I called him up one evening and caught him just as he was leaving for martial arts training (I seemed to be annoying like that, in an eager puppy-dog kind of way). As usual, Joe was gracious to the max (sounding a lot like a Nacogdoches, Texas version of Charlie Daniels). When I asked him about ghost-writing, he admitted that he had done it before, as well as having written under a pen name, and that it was no big deal. I thanked him and called my agent back the next day. And started my brief (very brief) gig as a genuine western ghost-writer. 


The first thing I received from Berkley Books was a contract and the Jake Logan Bible. The contract stipulated that for each Jake Logan western I wrote, I would earn a flat $5,000 with no royalties to be paid out afterwards. In my mind that was fair trade; five-Gs for a measly 180 page book seemed like a godsend at that time in my writing career. Despite the fact that I was writing regularly for Zebra, times were tough. My wife, Joyce, and I would pick up cans by the side of the road and cash them in for supper money... which usually consisted of a 24 count box of fishsticks and a box of cheap macaroni and cheese (the powdered kind, not the first-class stuff with the real cheese packet). 


The Jake Logan Bible consisted of fifty double-spaced pages stapled together and told you everything you wanted to know about writing for the series. It gave the background and history of the hero, John Slocum, as well as popular plot examples and writing tips. It also gave, in great and steamy detail, the particulars of writing the customary three to four sex scenes that were required for each novel. Lordy Mercy, it was almost as good as a copy of Penthouse! It gave various sexual positions and places where Slocum and that novel's western hottie could perform the dirty deed. At the side of the trail, in a saloon's upstairs room, in the rocking chair on the front porch of a lonely widows farmhouse... the choices were endless. It also told you what Slocum was allowed -- and not allowed -- to do, during his sexual escapades. Ol' John was open to any position imaginable, but there was some things he wouldn't engage in. Oral sex (as foreplay) was okay, but under no circumstances would there be any type of anal sex. Slocum didn't plow the mudhole, no matter how horny he might be. And there would be no taboo stuff, like bestiality (which happened with sheep and such a lot back then). Slocum could dally around with the heroine-of-the-month, but his horse stayed in the barn, safe and unmolested, where it belonged.


So, in 1993 and 1994, I wrote and published two Jake Logan westerns. Slocum and the Nightriders (#174) was about the hero getting caught in the middle of a range war between a poor rancher and a dastardly cattle baron. Slocum and the Gold Slaves (#187) took a departure from the usual western setting, having Slocum drugged and abducted during a whorehouse tryst and ending up in a glory-hole in Alaska, digging for gold with a team of similarly shanghaied prisoners. I must admit, figuring out the three sex scenes for Gold Slaves was a bit tricky. Slocum is abducted immediately after a whore-hopping scene and ends up slinging a pick in the frigid depths of the gold mind. So how in the world is he going to get lucky, in a mine full of men, with nary a frolicsome harlot in a five hundred mile radius? That's where Blake Duboise entered the picture; a  stage actress who masqueraded as a man to locate her father, a prospector that owned the Glory Hole, but had mysteriously disappeared. After being captured, she was subjected to manual labor, before her true gender was discovered by Slocum. Believe you me... it took some nimble acrobatics on their part to get it on amongst ice cold boulders with their ankles chained securely together. But where there's a will, there's a way, I reckon. 


One other thing that I included in both Jake Logan novels, was my last name somewhere in the storyline (that youthful pride rearing it's ugly head again). In Nightriders it was rancher George Kelly and his voluptuous nymphomaniac of a daughter, Prissy. While in Gold Slaves the one who abducted John Slocum and spirited him away to the Glory Hole was none other than the legendary slave-trader Shanghai Kelly himself.


So, I wrote the two Jake Logans. It took me a mere two weeks to complete each novel and, afterward, I collected a cool five-grand for each. I began brainstorming further Slocum adventures, figuring I was going to turn that gig into a lucrative side career... and, in the process, start eating sirloin steak instead of Raman noodles. Then, suddenly and most unexpectedly, it all came to a halt. Berkley decided to end the Jake Logan series for an indefinite period of time. Discouraged, I went back to my horror writing and left the adult-western genre behind. Six months later, they decided to bring Jake Logan back, but despite my intentions to return to the series they had already hired another writer to fill the vacant spot, leaving me out of the picture.


I reckon I can't complain. I got ten-grand out of the gig, as well some much-need writing experience and some valuable lessons in big name mid-list publishing and contract clauses and stipulations. Wikipedia has me listed as one of the Jake Logan writers and you can find Nightriders and Gold Slaves in used bookstores and listed on eBay every now and then.


So, if you like your western adventures with a little raunchy action peppered throughout the cliff-hanger chapters, you might want to search out the two I had the opportunity... and, yes, pleasure.. to pen. And if you want to sit, naked, in your armchair late at night, wearing only boots, chaps, and a Stetson, flipping feverishly to the naughty parts... well, more power to you, partner. 



Monday, February 25, 2019

A Dark Journey into FEAR

Join me for a March reading of my epic novel of Southern Horror at Goodreads









We're going on a journey in the month of March... you and I. Will it be a fun journey, you ask? One full of adventure and thrills? A place unlike any we've ever set foot in before?

Oh, yes. Most definitely. And one chocked full of nasty critters and nightmares, to boot.

You are invited to join me at Goodreads during the month of March for a  journey into the darkest and most dangerous territory south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Horror Aficionados group at Goodreads have honored me as a Guest Author this coming month and the reading selection we have selected is my epic novel of Southern-fried horror, FEAR. Those participating in the group read will have Ol' Ron at their beckon call, to answer questions about the novel, the writing and inspiration process behind it, as well as anything else y 'all want to know. And to make the journey easier, I'm putting the price of the e-book of FEAR down to only 99 cents throughout the month of March. Where else can you get a mini-vacation -- albeit in the dark and evil providence of Fear County -- for less than a buck?

To join the Horror Aficionados,  simply head on over to Goodreads . If you're new to GR, register for an account and login. If you you're a Goodreads veteran, join the Horror Aficionados community, where everything horror and dark fantasy (books, movies, television, audio, etc.) is on the menu. Then join us for information and interaction on my Guest Author thread. I'm all fired up and ready to answer questions about FEAR, the legend of Fear County, the cast of characters, and whatever else crosses your mind.

And, as an added bonus, the e-book of FEAR includes the Fear County-based novella, "The Seedling". For those folks who read along in the Zebra, Pinnacle, or Sinister Grin paperback editions (which doesn't have the novella), I will be posting the novella in its entirety on Ronald Kelly.com.

So make a point to join me and the Horror Aficionados in the balmy month of March for the reading and discussion of FEAR. I'll be waiting for you at the sunny side of the Fear County line... along with Jeb, Sam, Roscoe Ledbetter, and Ol' Buckshot. We're off to see the Granny Woman, with miles of monsters and menace betwixt us! 


Friday, February 22, 2019

LAST CALL FOR

MORE SICK STUFF!



Time stands still for no one...

No, that's not the opening statement from the cremation insurance flyer that I got in the mail the other day. It's a warning. A warning that time is running out... to preorder  MORE SICK STUFF , the long-awaited sequel collection to the original THE SICK STUFF.

MORE SICK STUFF offers ten extreme stories of visceral horror... stories much stronger and more intense than my usual tales of Southern-fried horror. Thunderstorm Books is releasing MORE SICK STUFF in April of this year as a Black Voltage title. This limited, signed and numbered hardcover edition features artwork , inside and out, by the master artist of horror, Alex McVey. 

In the foul and fetid darkness, it awakens.

Vile, unstable, brimming with ill intent, like pus on the verge of eruption. Repulsive to gaze upon and even more disturbing to comprehend. It reaches out and discovers that the other – its twin – has abandoned this cancerous womb long ago. Angry and alone, it thrashes violently, tearing, clawing its way from dormancy into daylight… and onto the dark playground of your bookshelf.

A decade following the birth of The Sick Stuff, an even larger and loathsome sibling emerges from the Thunderstorm press; anxious to share its horrors, eager to cut deeply and expose the raw nerves of fright and revulsion. More Sick Stuff offers ten abhorrent tales to tantalize and torture the fragile psyche; to cause the stomach to revolt and gooseflesh to crawl as though something, visceral and alive, lurks just beneath the surface…


You can preorder MORE SICK STUFF through February 23rd. After that it is sold out. So why miss out? Order your copy now! 



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Back in the Saddle... Again!

Round 3 of my Hailey's Comet Career


"



"Okay.... two years worth of writer's block is long enough. Now get your butt behind that keyboard and get to work!"

That's what I told myself in mid-September of 2018. For at least a couple of years (it could have been longer) I was stuck in creative Neutral, not with my foot on the pedal, spinning my tires in anticipation, but in a steady, rumbling idle that was going nowhere. After pitching my Southern-fried zombie novel THE BUZZARD ZONE to David Wilson at Crossroad Press back in 2016, I set to work. Then, when I got three-quarters of the book done, it happened. The fabled Writer's Block. I'd had mild cases of it before, like a brief bout of the stomach flu; twenty-four hours on the mental crapper and then I was fine again. But this time it was full-blown. I was stuck -- like Indiana Jones floundering in quicksand -- and I found myself going nowhere. And, before I knew it, with no fresh material going to publication, I found my writing career dead in the water, like Daffy Duck at the hands of an Elmer Fudd gone wrongfully postal. 

This wasn't the first time my career had been plunged into literary limbo. It first happened in 1996, when the horror market imploded (due to an oversaturation of too much horror fiction on the bookracks...much of it pretty danged bad). My agent called me on an autumn day (October 9th at 3:30 in the afternoon... I remember it well), and I, all excited over the prospect of a new multi-book deal from my publisher, Zebra Books, was shocked out of my socks by the news that the Big Z was shutting the doors of its haunted house of mid-list horror paperbacks. Further more, the two novels that were already scheduled for release, HELL HOLLOW and RESTLESS SHADOWS , would be returned to me with Zebra's blessings... along with a big, fat pink slip.

As many know, that was the beginning Ol' Ron's ten-year hiatus from, not only the horror genre, but from writing as well. There was a couple of reasons for my self-exile. One was the near non-existent horror market in the later half of the 1990s and my agent's sage advice that I "write anything but horror". It was a bit of advice, in my depressed and downtrodden state, that I took entirely too much to heart. I tried writing in other genres -- mystery, young adult, children's book, even a short-lived delving into the "gasp!"romance market. But nothing took. I was a horror writer, dammit, and that was what I was meant to write. The second reason that I abandoned horror for a decade was my religious convictions. I'm a Christian (a genuine dyed-in-wool Southern Baptist) and, at that time, the Holy Spirit  was working overtime on me. I began to rationalize that I wasn't really supposed to write horror... that God hadn't given me the talent to scare and disgust with the written word, but maybe, you know, that other fellow was providing the inspiration. I wondered how I could attend church on Sunday and then turn around write about vampires, werewolves, serial killers, and all kinds of dark nastiness the rest of the week. So I decided to stop writing completely. Just give it up and turn my life and aspirations to something else. And, for ten long years, I was completely miserable.

To make a long story short, after alot of soul-searching and realizing that God wanted me to write horror (perhaps for the sole reason of perpetuating the good-versus-evil story... which had wandered into a gray area in horror at that time) I decided to finally return to horror writing. Between 2006 and 2016, things when great. Both HELL HOLLOW and RESTLESS SHADOWS were published, as well as all eight of my Zebra novels as the Essential Ronald Kelly Collection by Thunderstorm Books. Anthology invitations were steady and the new advent of digital books brought all of my work to the Kindle/Nook reading public. Throw in several short story collections -- MIDNIGHT GRINDINGAFTER THE BURN, and MISTER GLOW-BONES, to name a few -- and Round 2 of my seemingly lost writing career was on track and cruising along nicely.

Then that nasty bout of W.B. hit me (sort of rhymes with V.D. doesn't it... and hits the creative nuts just as hard!) David at Crossroad kept emailing me; sending my e-book royalty statements with cryptic notes attached, chanting zombie...zombie...zombie. I knew that I needed to sit down and finished TBZ; after all David was all ready to publish it and he even had the cover. But I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and finish it. It seemed much easier to come home from work and plop down in front of the TV and watch Netflix, than limber my fingers and begin typing. Then in mid-September of last year, David gave me the kick in the rump that I needed. "We can get this book out by Halloween if you can get it to me by the first of October." The thought of having a book out by All Hallows Eve was appealing to me and so I took a deep breath and sat down in front of the keyboard. And, lo and behold, it all came back to me. I started writing again.

Needless to say, the remaining fourth of TBZ went slower than I anticipated and I didn't get it finished until nearly November. David certainly didn't waste any time, first releasing the book in trade paperback and placing the e-book on preorder status, until it's release in mid-December.



Now things seem to be moving in the right direction again. TBZ is doing well and my much-awaited sequel to my little collection of extreme horror tales, THE SICK STUFF, is finished and in production at Thunderstorm Books. MORE SICK STUFF will be released in a limited hardcover edition this April. After that, Thunderstorm will be publishing a limited hardcover of THE BUZZARD ZONE, and I have several other projects currently in the works.

So, for now, Ol' Ron is back in the saddle again. But in the back of my mind there's that nagging feeling that creative disaster could strike again. It's almost like my career is like a literary form of Hailey's Comet, one that comes and goes every ten years. But I can't let that slow me down now. I'll simply wait until 2028... and, holding breath, keep right on typing. 


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hell Hollow: A Case of Literary Death & Ressurection



There was a weeping and a wailing and a gnashing of teeth...

That was me back in 1996.

Oh, the year didn't exactly start out that way. In fact, my literary career seemed extremely healthy and productive and destined to continue for years to come, without a hitch. I would net multi-book contract after contract and write dozens of mid-list horror novels for that red-headed stepchild of genre publishers, Zebra Books. But then, sometimes, a writer turns a blind eye to bad omens and secretive whisperings in the publishing industry. Sometimes they fool themselves into thinking every thing is just fine and continue onward, spinning their tales, their eyes on a hazy future that could be reality or a clever mirage.

I was one of those unfortunate mass market paperback writers. Yes, I'd heard the news, knew the declining state of the genre I had invested so much time and effort (and imagination) into. Authors were being cut by the publishing houses by the dozens. Publishing houses were abandoning their horror lines because the market was oversaturated with horror fiction, alot of it substandard and just plain bad. The boom of the late 80s had past. Publishers like Tor and Berkley, Pocket and Pinnacle, and the big Z had force fed readers horror pabulum until they were sick and tired of it. Readers stopped buying the mid-list books and, in turn, publishers began to make drastic cuts to keep afloat. And when they couldn't salvage their horror line and it began to sink like a haunted house of a Titanic, they simply gave up. And put dozens of talented horror authors out of a job.

But it wouldn't happen to me, I told myself. Everything was looking great on my end. Several months before, I had sold two novels to Zebra (which would have been my 9th and 10th with the publisher); Hell Hollow and Restless Shadows, and they were even scheduled for publication. So I cooked up two or three new novel ideas and submitted them, expecting a third multi-book contract to keep my productive career afloat. But I didn't get it. They rejected the story ideas -- perfectly good ideas -- without explanation. I asked my agent what was going on and, at that time, he had no answers. Or he knew the answers and hesitated to break the sad and sober news to me.

So I came up with a few more solid horror novel ideas. And they were rejected, too. It was then that the cold and dark shadow of professional dread descended upon me. My wife and I hit a financial brick wall due to me being unable to sell Zebra on another multi-book contract and her losing her job due to sickness. We left Nashville with everything we owned packed in my Camaro and in the back of my father-in-law's SUV and headed for the country. That was April of 1996. We struggled through the summer and hoped for a better autumn. Fall finally came with a dry blanket of fallen leaves and the bitter smell of woodsmoke in the cool, Tennessee air. But still, Zebra was silent and stubborn, and I was stuck in literary limbo.

Then it came. The 9th of October. My own personal 9/11. The call came from my agent in New York. Zebra had ditched their horror line. I was suddenly without a publisher I had depended on for nearly 7 years; the key reason I was able to retire from factory work and write full-time. And, what was worse, both Hell Hollow and Restless Shadows would no longer be published. They would be returned to me to do as a please and, by the way, you can keep the advance money, per the stipulations of the contract signed for the two.

The rest is Ron Kelly history. I grew discouraged and depressed and tried desperately to continue my writing career. It didn't happen. Those who had written for the horror genre and lost their publishers were shunned and ignored... treated like pure poison. My agent's advice? "Write anything but horror." And, unfortunately, I took his advice to heart. I tried to write in other genres, even children's fiction, but none of it took. I was a horror writer, pure and simple, and no one wanted me or what I had to offer. After four months of trying every publishing venue imaginable with no results, I simply gave up. I stuck the two unpublished books back in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet, laced up my steel-toed boots, and went back to the factories that I had escaped back in 1989.

And that was the way it was for ten long years. Working the day shift, first at an electric motor assembly plant, and then at an automotive electro-coating company (where I am still currently employed). There were good times, of course; I grew closer to my wife, Joyce, than I had been when I was spending 90% of my days and nights in front of a keyboard and, together, we began to raise a family. I gave my life to Christ and became a Christian, which put further distance between me and the secular life of a horror author. But despite the peaceful, uneventful life that I lived, I simply wasn't happy. That nagging need to write was still there, deep down inside, wanting to escape from the crypt of my self-imposed exile. But I was stubborn and unwilling to chance it. I ignored the horror genre and anything related to it. I'd had my chance and I blew it. My novels were lost in a past that was painful and tragic, at least in my mind. Everyone had completely forgotten that mid-list Zebra hack named Ronald Kelly.

Or so I thought.

Then in 2006 something strange happened. Folks on the horror forums began to talk about me and my old books began to sell briskly on eBay. Old writing pals and past fans began to contact me, urging me to return to the genre I had abandoned a decade ago. "Things are better now," they told me. "The genre is healthy and booming again." And, with a growing flame of excitement and hopefulness, I began to believe them. What cinched it was a phone call from an old friend, Richard Chizmar, from Cemetery Dance Publications. He wanted to publish me again. We talked and agreed on two projects: a short story collection, which would become Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors, and a novel. And that novel turned out to be the long dead and buried Hell Hollow.

Hell Hollow was published in hardcover in 2009 to rave reviews and steady sales that would result in it selling out. After that, my writing career was back on track and I published numerous books with numerous publishers: Cemetery Dance, Thunderstorm Books, Bad Moon Books, Crossroad Press, etc. After several potential publishers had folded, the Essential Ronald Kelly Collection (all 8 Zebra novels, plus bonus features, published in beautiful hardcover editions) finally found a home at Thunderstorm Books, much to the delight of my fans, both old and new.

But what about the subject of this blog post, you ask? What about Hell Hollow? What about that creepy, Southern-fried horror novel about four kids who battle the hellish evil of the soul-harvester Doctor Augustus Leech; a serial killer possessed by the demonic presence of a murdered medicine show man nearly a century before? An agent of Satan who operated both in our world and in a world of his own, a world of wondrous dreams that could turn into hellish nightmares for the owners of the special playing cards he dealt to his unaware victims?

Well, Hell Hollow enjoyed a year or two of popularity, then sort of faded into the background. The CD edition sold out and was unavailable for purchase. It was offered as an e-book for a while and then an audio book (which is still available through Audible.com). For several years it was totally unavailable in print form. That is, until now. Thanks to the good folks at Sinister Grin Press, Hell Hollow and two other RK novels, Undertaker's Moon and Fear have been resurrected to live among the annals of horrordom once again. The trade paperback edition of Hell Hollow  is now available for purchase at Amazon.com for only $17.59. You can order your copy of HH here. 

Here's your chance to read the RK novel that almost remained unpublished due to the implosion of the horror genre back in the mid-90s. A novel that may have been entombed in the dusty darkness of a filing cabinet drawer, dead and buried, if it hadn't been for your interest and support back in 2006. Thanks for letting me come back to entertain you with my particular brand of Southern-fried horror. I hope you enjoy the evil antics of the sinister Doctor Leech in shadowy, backwoods wilderness known to locals as Hell Hollow.