Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Audio Series: Migration





Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.




Today, Brian Morse is reading a few letters from his debut book Migration, which was
 published by Pski's Porch in September. Brian lives in Rochester, NY."

 








Click here to experience Migration, as read by Brian Morse:










The Word on Migration:

A wonderfully disorienting mix of nature writing and haunting surrealism, told in epistolary form, accompanied by delicately unsettling illustrations. Brian Morse and Betsy Potter have made a book that will make readers feel slightly to the left of themselves, as they follow a narrator through a peculiar landscape via letters home to his mother (and a few other folks).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Page 69: Driven

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....









In this installment of Page 69, 

we put Dane Cobain's Driven to the test







Set up page 69 for us (what are we about to read):

This is page 69 of my current work-in-progress, Driven. In this scene, private detective James Leipfold and his assistant, Maile O’Hara, are discussing the case that they’ve taken on. They’re just about to find out something unusual about the accident that killed Donna Thompson – there was no-one behind the wheel of the car!



What is Driven about?

It’s the first book in a series of detective novels that I’m working on. It follows the story of private detective James Leipfold and his assistant Maile O’Hara as they investigate the bizarre circumstances around a young woman’s death after she’s killed in a hit and run accident. The catch? There was no-one behind the wheel. I haven’t proofread or edited this at all, and so it’s a pure first draft!



Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the books overall theme?


I’m actually surprised by how much it worked, so absolutely! There are lots of different aspects to the investigation that it could have landed on, but it turned out that page 69 is all about the thing that gives the novel its name – the car wasn’t being Driven! 








~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PAGE 69
DRIVEN



…loop of hair absentmindedly and avoiding Leipfold’s piercing eyes. “It’s just that not all cars need a driver.”

“Yeah,” Leipfold said, “I know. I’ve watched the TV shows, you can put a weight on the accelerator. But I hardly think that’s likely.”

“That’s not the only way to do it, boss. Haven’t you heard of Google? Tesla?”

“I’ve heard of the first,” Leipfold said. “But not the second. So what?”

“What do the two of them have in common?”

“I have no idea,” Leipfold admitted, “but I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”

“Both of them are working on autonomous cars,” Maile explained. “And so are some of the bigger manufacturers, the ones who’ve got a good hold on the market and can afford to invest in research and development.”

“So?”

“So maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way,” Maile said. “I don’t know about you, but I was working on the basis that there was someone in the car, and that they were crouched behind the wheel. That’s why you can’t see a driver in the CCTV footage.”

“That’s one theory,” Leipfold admitted.

“But what if there’s another explanation?” Maile continued. “What if there was no-one in the car at all? What if it was just following orders? Orders contained within its programming? Orders that told it to kill Donna Thompson?”

Leipfold considered this for a moment and then shook his head. “It seems a little far-fetched,” he said. “Too far-fetched. There must be a simpler explanation.”


“It would explain why no-one’s been able to find the driver,” Maile pointed out. “And that’s not all. I checked a couple of social networks and it turns out that these cars are more common than you might think, especially around here.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~










Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released in the summer of 2015.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Where Writers Write: Dana Diehl


Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!


 
Where Writers Write is a series that features authors as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 






This is Dana Diehl.

Dana is the author of Our Dreams Might Align, being released by Jellyfish Highway Press in December 2016. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in North American Review, Passages North, Booth, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in Fiction from Arizona State University, where she served as editor of Hayden's Ferry Review.









Where Dana Diehl Writes


I’ve had six homes over the past five years, and every time I move, I tell myself this is the time I will create The Writing Space. I dream of a desk like the ones in my professors’ homes and in the homes of older friends. Desks so wide and spacious you could stretch across them like a Labrador. Desks facing floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a garden where stray kittens lounge under homegrown tomato plants. Desks with mason jars full of freshly sharpened colored pencils. Desks that hold a single coffee cup, which is washed and placed in a small saucer so that it won’t fuse with the coating on the wood.

Every time I move, I try to create this space. I choose a secluded, quiet room in my new house or apartment. I buy a cozy lamp. I repot my tiny cactus in an interesting jar. I pin maps on the walls.
And then, I avoid the space as though it’s become invisible to me. The cactus starts to wither. A layer of dust grows like fur over the lampshade.

Sometimes I feel guilty for not working, and I think about using my Writing Space, but then I remember all of the Important, Good Writing I’m supposed to do there, and I convince myself that it can wait. I’m not in the right mood, I say. I really need to make a PowerPoint for that lesson two weeks from now, I say.

Inevitably, my laptop ends up on the kitchen table, or on the arm of the couch, or next to my bed. Only then do I find myself able to write again.


My dorm room at the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland, where I spent a semester in 2011. There was a lake in the middle of the campus, and sometimes a duck family would wander into the parking lot outside my window and quack through the afternoon, their calls echoing against the windows.


My senior year of college, I lived in a house with several other writers. I had a window that overlooked a big front porch and a row of fraternity houses. In the winter, we’d fight over the thermostat, and I’d end up writing in my twin bed, wearing a Snuggie only kind of ironically.


I’ve learned that I do some of my best and most productive work when I trick myself into writing. I need to tell myself I will only write until the microwave buzzer goes off. I need to tell myself that I’m just going to reread this draft, and then I’ll watch another episode of Parks and Recreation. It’s when I tell myself these lies that I find myself naturally entering that mental space where I’m not afraid to write, where I’m not looking forward to the point when I can stop.

I need the potential of interruption: my housemate’s cat jumping into my lap or someone starting dinner or switching on the television. Maybe it’s because I need stimulation to stay focused, just like some of my students can’t sit through a lesson unless they are building a sword out of highlighters or tapping their foot against the leg of their chair. Maybe knowing I could be interrupted at any moment adds a sense of urgency to my process. Whatever it is, I know that I work best when I can get up and pace to the fridge between sentences or water my plant between paragraphs.


My first year of graduate school, I wrote from a futon until I found this couch abandoned near the dumpster in my apartment complex’s parking lot. Dumpster Couch, it was affectionately called.



I wrote most of my MFA thesis sitting at this table. Something about the repetitive bounce of my housemate’s dog’s tennis ball against the floor was reassuring.  


Now I write at my kitchen table on top of a Dungeons and Dragons grid within sight of the kitchen. The table was inherited from a writer friend, and I took it with me when I moved from Tempe to Tucson.


The next time I move, I’ll go through the same routine. I’ll U-Haul my desk to the new city. I’ll buy a bamboo shoot at Home Depot. I’ll buy expensive pens with very black ink. And like before, I’ll end up doing the majority of my writing in the least glamorous part of my house. I’ll take comfort in the fact that, in another corner of my home, there’s a space that represents the writer I imagine myself to be, a version of myself that I can still become.


Monday, November 28, 2016

The Audio Series: Alice Kaltman



Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.




Today, Alice Kaltman is reading 
“Her Giant Sequoia” from her collection Staggerwing. The excerpt is part of a series of micro-fictions called “The Honeymoon Suite”, four related stories, all taking place in the same hotel room with different characters at different times.
Staggerwing was recently published by Tortoise Books . Her work can also be found in Hobart, Joyland, Whiskey Paper, and Storychord among other fine literary journals, and in the print anthologies "On Montauk" and "The Pleasure You Suffer". She lives and surfs in Brooklyn and Montauk, NY. Give her a shout out on Twitter and check out her website. It’s kinda pretty.












Click on the excerpt below to begin listening:







The word on Staggerwing: 

This irresistible collection of stories brilliantly skewers the close-to-rich and not-so-famous of 21st century America. With keen yet kind perspective, Kaltman revels in the triumphs and travails of misfit trophy wives, psychic hotel maids, jilted bridegrooms, show tune-singing security guards, and assorted other oddballs. Always balancing her sharp eye with a soft heart, Kaltman ensures that this collection isn't just funny, but memorable and lovable as well. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Buried in Books - My New Precioussssess



Because I can't possibly read every single book that finds its way into my home IMMEDIATELY, though I fully intend to die trying, allow me to show off our most recently acquired precioussssess...




For Review



Steph Post
Polis Books
January 2017

Judah Cannon is the middle son of the notorious Cannon clan led by Sherwood, its unflinching and uncompromising patriarch. When Judah returns to his rural hometown of Silas, Florida after a stint in prison, he is determined to move forward and live it clean with his childhood best friend and newly discovered love, Ramey Barrow. Everything soon spirals out of control, though, when a phone call from Sherwood ensnares Judah and Ramey in a complicated web of thievery, brutality and betrayal. 

Pressured by the unrelenting bonds of blood ties, Judah takes part in robbing the Scorpions, a group of small-time, meth-cooking bikers who are flying down the highway with the score of their lives. Unbeknownst to the Cannons, however, half of the stolen cash in the Harley saddlebags belongs to Sister Tulah, a megalomaniacal Pentecostal preacher who encourages her followers to drink poison and relinquish their bank accounts. When Sister Tulah learns of the robbery, she swears to make both the Cannons and the Scorpions pay, thus bringing all parties into mortal conflict rife with deception and unpredictable power shifts. When Judah’s younger brother Benji becomes the unwitting victim in the melee, Judah takes it upon himself to exact revenge, no matter the damage inflicted upon himself and those around him. Judah becomes a driven man, blinded by his need for vengeance and questioning everything he thought he believed in. With Ramey at his side, Judah is forced to take on both the Scorpions and Sister Tulah as he struggles to do the right thing in a world full of wrongs.






Kiini Ibura Salaam
Third Man Book
November 2017

In this eagerly-awaited collection, Kiini Ibura Salaam continues her exploration of the dark, the sensual, and the mysterious with fiction that disturbs, delights, and dazzles. The five stories and one novella collected in When the World Wounds examine the tumultuous nature of the human condition through such wild imaginings as sensual encounters with deer, escapism in a dystopic prison, and volcano women. In “The Taming,” a lupine creature is trapped by beasts whose nefarious nature is beyond their prey’s understanding. In “Hemmie’s Calenture,” a woman escaping enslavement is thrust into a war between gods. “The Pull of the Wing” is the prequel to Salaam’s wildly popular "Of Wings, Nectar, and Ancestors" trilogy. “Because of the Bone Man” transports readers to the desolate landscape of post-Katrina New Orleans and the struggle of the city’s culture bearers to carry on. A welcome follow-up to Salaam’s award-winning Ancient, Ancient, When the World Wounds is perceptive and engaging as it examines our world’s callous and perilous landscapes while tickling the imagination and startling the senses.





Harry Hunsicker
Thomas & Mercer
March 2017

Former Texas Ranger Arlo Baines didn’t come to the tiny West Texas town of Piedra Springs to cause trouble. After his wife and children were murdered, Arlo just wants to be left alone. Moving from place to place seems to be the only thing that eases the pain of his family’s violent end.

But a chance encounter outside a bar forces him to rescue a terrified woman and her children from mysterious attackers. When the woman turns up murdered the next day—her children missing—Arlo becomes the primary suspect in exactly the same type of crime he is trying desperately to forget.

Haunted by the fate of his family, and with the police questioning the existence of the dead woman’s children, Arlo decides it’s his duty to find them. The question is, just how deep will he have to sink into the dusty secrets of Piedra Springs to save them and clear his name?
 





Caitlín R. Kiernan
Tor.com
February 2017

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.

In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible—the Children of the Next Level—and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.

A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.

And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Audio Series: Dane Cobain



Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.




Today, Dane Cobain reads the prologue from his upcoming horror novella/screenplay Come On Up to the House. The book drops on December 6th, and you can pre-order a copy over at its IndieGogo page. Dane resides in 
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK. He is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released in the summer of 2015.














Click on the excerpt below to begin listening:









The word on Come On Up to the House:

Doesn't life seem nasty, brutish and short? This horror novella and accompanying screenplay tells the story of Darran Jersey, a troubled teenager who moves into a house that's inhabited by the malevolent spirit of his predecessor. As time goes by and the family begins to settle, Darran begins to take on more and more of the qualities of James, the dead teenager who committed a bloody suicide.
As tragedy after tragedy threatens to destroy the family, Darran's mother Alice decides to leave the house behind and start afresh, but is it too late? 


Find out when you Come On Up to the House...  



You can also check out the book trailer here.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Book Review: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Listened 10/29/16 - 10/31-16
5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Audio Book - What are you waiting for?
Length: 5 hours, 22 minutes
Narrator: 
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Released: June 2016





Holy crap was that a nerve-wracking read! I'm surprised I didn't revert back to nail-biting as I listened to this book on my daily commute back and forth to work. I don't usually do well with high tension wtf-ery but wow, this thing. This fucking thing! I am throwing all the stars at it.

You guys trust me, right? How often do I steer you towards bad books? So when I say you have to download a copy of I'm Thinking of Ending Things in audio right the fuck now, you'll drop whatever you're doing and purchase it, right?

Don't be like me. Don't wait for this book to find you on its own. If it wasn't for this Bustle magazine article, I may never have picked it up. Somehow, the love/hate buzz that surrounded this debut novel passed me by, though if I'm being honest, that was probably a good thing because I have a tendency to stay away from the super-hyped-up books, cause, you know, nothing ruins a potentially good book faster than everyone friggen talking about it all night and all day.

In my case, though, the timing of that article and my stumbling across it was everything. Not just because the hype was long gone, but also because I had been holding on to an audible credit, not sure what to spend it on, and then, here comes Bustle Magazine boasting kick ass creepy audio books and I was like "ok, yeah, I like the sound of this", and holy hell you guys, this thing just sucked me right the fuck in.

The narrator, who is one of the most deliciously unreliable narrators I've met in a looooong time, is also so ridiculously relatable that I want to punch her in the face and then immediate kiss it and make it all better. Things start off innocuously enough. She and Jake are taking a road trip out to meet his parents. He's taking their relationship to the next level. She's thinking about ending things. And you might be thinking 'ugh, this is gonna suck' only it doesn't because the thoughts that run through her head on their way out there are fanfuckingtastic - she's thinking reasonable shit like 'maybe meeting his parents will change my mind'  and 'it'll be nice to see where Jake grew up' and 'thinking of ending things takes the pressure off' and then she starts thinking about more existential shit like what it would feel like to get inside someones head, to truly know what they are thinking and have full access to their thoughts. She wonders if being alone is the only way someone can truly know themselves. Because when you're with someone, it's impossible to know their thoughts. And it's the thoughts that count. Thoughts are reality. And I remember thinking, man, that's the kind of crap I used to obsess myself with when I was younger. How you could really never know what someone was thinking because what they're really thinking, they would never say aloud. And I remember how desperately I wished I could get into people's head, so it was me thinking their thoughts, and how crazy intimate that would be. Even if it was just to see yourself the way other people see you. Even if it was just to know, without a doubt, how other people really thought of you. Or if they thought of you at all.

The conversation in the car is typical of a fairly new couple on a long drive down country roads. They feel each other out. She asks some questions, Jake does his best to answer them. They share stories. It starts to snow. And then they arrive at his parents' farm. It's old and secluded. His parents are a little... off. And Jake's demeanor begins to change. There are old photos on the wall that feel... familiar to her. But that doesn't make any sense. And when Jake disappears for a bit, the dad tries to convince our narrator to stay the night. He says he'll make coffee. The mom gives her a present, tells her she's not ready to open it yet. It's a folded piece of paper. She tells her she's good for Jake, that she's happy he has her. That he needs her.

After dinner, they hop back into the car and start to head home. The roads are getting bad, and Jake pulls into a Dairy Queen so they can grab something sweet and there's a weird interaction between our narrator and one of the girls behind the counter. The girl says she's worried. That she's scared for her. And even though shit had been getting weird for a little while now, that was some really creepy shit right there. It was like that girl behind the counter knew our narrator, but our narrator has never been out in the country before, never been out to this Dairy Queen, there's no way they could know each. When they get back in the car, she asks Jake about the girl. He's oblivious. And he's also freaking out about the lemonade they just bought, melting and sweating into his cup holders, so he detours them down a back road towards an empty high school out in the middle of nowhere, where he plans to throw them out.

From here, the whole thing goes to hell, in a terrifyingly good way. The story quickly begins to unravel. We become aware of our heart beating in our chest at the same moment our narrator notices hers. We panic and begin to sweat. We worry. Our breathing comes more rapidly as we start to follow the breadcrumbs Iain Reid has cleverly laid out before us, but let's be honest, we were already following them. We might not have noticed, not exactly, but we knew something was not quite right. We'd been trying to work it out for ourselves. We were just waiting for... what? What are we waiting for? What are YOU waiting for? What are you WAITING for???

Kudos to Simon and Schuster for their choice of audiobook narrator. Candace Thaxton did a fabulous job infusing Iain's words with just the right amount of tension. It's an unsettling read. Completely unnerving. She brought the book to life in a way I may have missed, had I been reading the words off the page myself.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things is a twisted, mental mindfuck of a novel. It's the sort of book you'll want to read again, backwards, to revisit the finer details, this time with eyes wide open.

I haven't re-read it yet, but I imagine it will be much like that photo of the glossy legs that was making its rounds this past week. Have you seen them? The shiny legs? Once you know what makes them look that way, you can never see the picture the same way again.

Ditto for this novel.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Kelcey Parker Ervick


Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....


Today's ink story comes from Kelcey Parker Ervick, whose new book, The Bitter Life of Bozena Nemcova, was released Tuesday with Rose Metal Press. 





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




I just got my first tattoo this year. I almost passed out. Twice. The kind tattoo artist took pity, fed me Snickers and Sprite, and traded my upright chair for a gurney so I could lie down.

The tattoo is a sketch by Kafka: a figure seated at a desk, head down. Dreaming? Despairing?

For me, it epitomizes the life of the writer: Leave me alone, I’m trying to write, I’m failing, I’m thinking, I’m hiding, I’m hoping, I’m dreaming.

“All I am is literature,” said Kafka, “and I am not able or willing to be anything else.”




My new book, The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová, is about a nineteenth-century Czech writer Kafka adored. He compared his beloved Milena’s writing to her writing: “I know in Czech only one music of language, that of Božena Němcová. Here,” he says to Milena of her own writing, “is another music.”

I’ve been traveling to Prague regularly since 2003, where I first encountered a different Kafka than the one I was reading in grad school. In Prague, Kafka’s magical, metaphorical stories grow concrete and terrifyingly real. In seminar we discussed The Castle and its elusive Klamm as an extended metaphor. But, as I say in my book, in Europe castles are everywhere and real. Prague’s castle looms over the city. Kafka lived on its grounds. In fact, The Castle was inspired by Němcová’s 1854 book, Babička, set in a small village with a castle. The tattoo is a reminder of all these things too.

My people are not a tattooed people. My daughter does not approve. My parents, knowing my fear of needles, are baffled. But this summer I was in a bowling league called “Tattoos and Bowling Shoes,” and everyone in the league received a gift certificate either for a tattoo or for the pro shop, so I am already thinking about my next tattoo. Perhaps it will be of “How Doth the Little Crocodile,” the painting and sculpture by Leonora Carrington. But that’s another story. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Bio:
Kelcey Parker Ervick is the author of The Bitter Life of Bozena Nemcova, a hybrid work of biography, memoir, and art. Her previous books of fiction are Liliane’s Balcony (Rose Metal Press), set at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and the story collection, For Sale By Owner (Kore Press). She directs the creative writing program at Indiana University South Bend and leads a study abroad program to Berlin and Prague.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Leo X Robertson's Guide to Books & Booze



Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 




Today, Leo X Robertson is throwing booze all over this new horror novella Bonespin Slipspace. Check it out.....


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


My new horror novella, “Bonespin Slipspace”, released by Psychedelic Horror Press this Halloween (and available for preorder now here), is about a group of disaffected youths who visit Blackburn Manor, where six-hour torture experiences hold six-month waiting lists. As you can imagine, “thrillseekers” of the most depraved order hold stimulants, narcotics and all manner of mind- and body-altering substances in high regard. So here’s what my characters are drinking!




Rudy: Club soda. Boooo! Well, Rudy’s bored of being taken advantage of by his callous art school buddies. He’s actually a hair’s breadth from ditching the party life outright. He’s the only one of his friends to go through with the plan of starting a small business, while he watches their hedonistic lives remain on pause. But his squat-mate Tammy is insisting he attends just this one, little last party with her. At Blackburn Manor?!


Tammy: Warm MD 20/20 from a bottle held beneath her skirt with a makeshift garter of duct tape. Tammy is the proudest of the hottest of messes: she continues to drink as if she’s still thirteen and hiding in a dark corner of a local park with kids who are going nowhere. It’s endearing only to the wrong people, which is perfect: they’re her favourite kind.


Ollie: A fresh recruit at Blackburn Manor, Ollie’s heard there’s this new drink where you mix antifreeze with Blue WKD and absinthe in such a ratio that it’ll only almost kill you but get you so instantly out your tree that the night will be forgotten but the pictures of it will be epic, and they’ll last forever anyways, but he won’t, so who cares? Unless Rudy is around, in which case, two club sodas please. I mean, Ollie doesn’t need to drink, right? Who does? By the way, has Rudy been thinking about him lately? No, of course not. Sure, they broke up for good reasons. No harm in a kiss though, right?


Blackburn: who knows? Blackburn’s one of those guys you never see with a drink in his hand, but he’s weathered at least an additional ten years above his real age into his skin, so he must be into something. He sits brooding at the back of every secret excessive party, and never looks like he’s having any fun, but he can’t seem to resist them either, otherwise why would he be there? I think he has a heroin drip under that kilt, in such a low dose that it can flows into him continuously: he never feels too much or too little of anything. I don’t even know if a guy like that has feelings. I’m wrong for thinking that’s sexy, right? I might ask if I can look up his kilt. For my theory.


Alex: Is he here? I thought he was in prison! Don’t look at him. Stop it! Don’t ask him. I mean it! Don’t. It’s not funny. He’s seen us talking about him. He’s coming over. What do we do? Call the police? Run! I think we lost him. Regroup at yours? I stole Stoli from the open bar when no one was looking. The manor’s covered in cameras? Are they gonna come after us? I can’t take it back now! Let’s split up: save yourself! If I’m still alive Tuesday, beers at mine!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~






Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and emerging writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has stories most recently published by Schlock!, Twisted50 and Creepy Campfire Quarterly. His horror novella, Bonespin Slipspace, will be published by Psychedelic Horror Press this Halloween - available for pre-order here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Liv Hadden



Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....


Today's ink story comes from Liv Hadden, whose novel In the Mind of Revenge released on audio yesterday. 





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




I have quite a few tattoos, each one special and meaningful. I chose this one because the inspiration for this piece came from the same place as my first novel. Long story short, I was depressed and definite downward spiral. The only things keeping me afloat were my writing and my new obsession with Florence + The Machine’s album, Lungs.

Though I incessantly listened to the entire album for months, the song “Howl” in particular resonated with me. If you know the band, then you know the writing is poetic and vivid, making it ridiculously easy to actually picture the story being painted. The image of beasts emerging from inside heartbroken lovers, on the hunt and howling at the moon while lost in the forest captivated me.



The piece spans to both sides of my torso. On the left, there’s a wolf howling at the moon. On the right (at the bottom), there’s a bear doing the same (but there’s only a moon on the wolf’s side. Sorry bear!). For obvious reasons, I named the girl head Florence – in the box is her heart where she plans to keep it locked away safely.


I was dealing with a lot of shame and guilt at the time, but having this beautiful piece of artwork represent that time provided a lot of healing. Between that and my book, I look back on that time without bitterness…I have a sense of reverence for how I was able to come out on the other side better and healthier. I actually made something with it instead of drowning in it. With powers like that, who can hate art?!



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Debut novelist Liv Hadden has been writing ever since she was a little girl. Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. 

Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma,, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management.  She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas.