Writer Wednesday: Hellscapes Review

Mornin’ kids… I’m on a roll!

So y’all know I like to read. A lot. And then I like to talk about what I read so other people can read it too. Today’s post is all about something I read. My good friend, Stephen Zimmer, published a collection of short horror stories last year entitled Hellscapes. (By the way, he totally doesn’t know I’m doing this, so his reaction will be big fun!) When it went on sale earlier this year, I snapped up my copy, and over the last few months I’ve been reading the stories one at a time.

One at a time is good for this collection. Trust me. More than one will give you nightmares.




First, let’s talk about the book:

Hellscapes by Stephen Zimmer

Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Seventh Star Press
Cover Artist: Matt Perry

Journey into realms of darkness and explore the regions where angels fear to tread! Welcome to the Hellscapes, featuring tales of the infernal in settings where the horror never ends and the inhabitants experience the ultimate nightmare.

In “Blood Dreams” follow the tale of a woman who knew great political authority and influence in life, as she discovers the reward awaiting her in the next world.

“The Grove” welcomes a new arrival, a wealthy man who is looking forward to a weekend of indulging in lust and libation, as he has for many years in this secluded convocation for the elite. Something is different this time, though, and he soon finds that his visit will be taking a very different turn.

In “The Smallest Fish”, the story is told of a ruthless business mogul who finds himself in an abandoned, ruined version of the city he knew well, in life. This city won’t be remaining vacant for long.

“Drowning in Tears” tells the story of a young man’s unhealthy obsession for a suicidal girlfriend that leads him on a path of severe transformation.

The final tale of Volume 1, “Lords of War”, follows the story of a man who wielded military power on a worldwide scale as a Secretary of Defense, who now learns the deeper nature of war and what kinds of monstrosities it breeds.

Hellscapes, Volume 1 is the first release in an exciting new themed horror collection from Stephen Zimmer.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |iBookstore

And now…my thoughts.

In a word: TWISTED. This book is dark, kids. It’s creepy, it’s scary, and it’s deeply poignant. Psychological and situational horror combine to bring you a brand new set of nightmares. Just as the title promises, each story is a glimpse into the personal Hell of its main character. There’s chaos and destruction, debauchery, and even a little bit of a sad love story. Human emotions are powerful things, as is evidenced in every story in this collection.

If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would have to be The Grove. I knew what was happening long before the main character did, but that just made the anticipation even sweeter. A close second would have to be Drowning in Tears. It’s a horrifically beautiful display of obsession. To be honest, there isn’t a bad story in the bunch. They’re all good, all frightening, and all perfectly executed.

The reason I said reading them one at a time is wise is because they truly are frightening.  More than one is almost guaranteed to induce nightmares in even the strongest of minds.

Overall, an excellent display of literary terror.


Writer Wednesday: Selah Janel

Yes, ladies and germs, Selah Janel is back for another round of fun. You guys should all know her by now as one of my best friends in the world. She’s a cohort, a partner in crime, and a horrible, horrible enabler. That having been said, I have absolutely NOTHING to do with what happens from this point on. It’s all her.




Disclaimer from SJ: Please for the love of all that’s holy don’t do this. Just don’t. This is not advice, this is Ippick trying to start something. Seriously, remember that he’s a troll and don’t blame me if you decide that he should be your new patron saint for social activity. Just…just don’t.


Online Security an’ Etiquette in a Modern Fantasy World

By Ippick Bonecrusher

The thing ye gotta worry ‘bout these days is online safety. Ye never know what kinda idjit is bein’ a busybody over yer shoulder, so ye gotta think ‘bout these things. Luckily, ye got me t’teach ye all bout safety on the spider web realm wide web.

First off, get yerself a club. I like the ones that ye can fold up and put in yer pocket. That way, no one suspects ye know they’re up t’somethin’ until ye whomp ‘em over the head. They don’t get in yer business and ye can go on bout yer day. I like the proactive approach, meself, but I’m told that in some parts it’s frowned upon, so practice responsibility an’ all that hogwash.

Now then, the thing ye have to remember about online behavior is that ye wanna be proactive and offensive here. No defensiveness and creepin’ round. Ye gotta get at others before they get at ye, especially if they have stupid opinions. Not everyone knows if their opinions are stupid, so ye need to tell them. Put it in language they understand. For example, if I were to see someone talkin’ about how curses and magic are made up, it’s my responsibility to get in their convo and reply somethin’ like


A lot of exclamationy points and making it all capitals and in a big font helps so that they pay attention and definitely know that they’re wrong.

Now, sometimes ye gotta be subtle. I don’t recommend bullying, but sometimes ye gotta tell people if their shirts are dumb looking or their dogs look like their wives. Ye want yer hints to be real strong-like, but this is when ye don’t want the capitals and the all the punctuation right away.

I’m sure ye think I’m being mean since I’m known to be a little sneaky on forums to stir things up. To that I say YER WRONG YE STUPID IDJITS. I HAVE A RIGHT TO MY OPINIONS AND TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE SEE WHERE THEY’RE BEING DUMB.

So what happens if someone tries to get cute and throws things right back to ye? Do ye cry and shut yer laptop? Bluebeard’s balls, of course ye don’t! That’s when ye go with somethin’ like “Yer dumb and yer grammar’s dumb and yer clothes are dumb and ye obviously can’t type right because yer hands are yer girlfriend.” What if they say somethin’ stupid like they have a right to their opinion? Well I have a right to walk around without pants if I want to, but folks have problems with that, so if I have problems with yer opinion I’m gonna point it out! I find that’s fairly effective, but then again I like to aim to the subtle side, myself.

If ye combine that sense of helpfulness with a vigilant eye and a good, sturdy, hidden club, ye shouldn’t have one jot of problem muckin’ about online. An’ if ye do, well, yer probably not doin’ it right anyway and need the advice of all those smarter than ye yelling at ye in all caps. After all, if yer seeing it aimed at ye, there’s prolly a reason.

Ippick Bonecrusher - Olde School

Ippick Bonecrusher is a mean sonofadragon who resides in Kingdom City, The Land. A real estate agent by trade, he also occupies many odd jobs to make up for his poor people skills.

Although this is Ippick’s first attempt at freelance writing, he is very prone to giving unsolicited advice. You can find him in Olde School, book one of The Kingdom City Chronicles, which can be found in Print, Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.




Olde School by Selah Janel

Olde School by Selah Janel

Book One of the Kingdom City Chronicles


Available at:

Kindle       Amazon Paperback   Amazon UK  Nook    B&N Paperback     Kobo


Cross-Genre: Fantasy, Fairy/Folktale, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror


Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.

Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.

Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians



Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield. Olde School is the first book in her new series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, and is publishedthrough Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.


Selah’s Links:

Blog – http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

Facebook author pagehttp://www.facebook.com/authorSJ

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel

Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Selah-Janel/e/B0074DKC9K

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5622096.Selah_Janel

Sad Stories and New Families

There’s been radio silence on this end again. For that, I apologize. I really shouldn’t stay quiet so long, but this time of year seems to really get to me.

September 13th  would have been my father’s 67th birthday. At this point in his life, he would have been preparing to retire and making plans to spend his Golden years enjoying the world he’d worked so hard to build. Unfortunately, that idea was cut short a year and a half ago when he passed away. Losing my father devastated me in more ways than even I realized.  I wasn’t myself at all last year, and now that the fog is somewhat beginning to lift from my mind, I’m realizing just how bad off I really was. That’s the problem with severe depression – those suffering from it often don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late. You feel normal until you come out of it and realize how un-normal you really were. Normally I can fight it, and I couldn’t fight this. That scares me.

I’ve brought all of this up for a reason. The different facets of my mind have been discussing this for a very long while, but given this month’s activities, posting this journey in the wake of my father’s birthday seemed apropos, considering his death is what ultimately set me on this track. I’m going to tell you a story. Some of it is very sad. Some of it is scary. But it has a happy ending. Just bear with me.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

On April 2, 2012, my father went in for quintuple bypass heart surgery. The surgery went well, but we discovered that his lungs were weak and in bad shape from years of smoking. He tried to pull the respirator tube out of his throat, and had to be sedated. He stayed i

n that drug-induced coma for the remainder of his life. For three weeks, my mother and I camped out in the CCICU waiting room at Roper Hospital in Charleston, SC. I’d come home for a day or two, then turn around and go back to stay with her. My brothers came and went as they could, and we watched the ups and downs, the good days and bad, pass in a blur of floral wallpaper, cafeteria food, and heart monitors. At one point he seemed to be doing better and the nurses were hopeful. Then he crashed hard.

burning candle and heart hands

On April 25th at 12:00 PM, he passed away, with all of us standing by his side.

The next four days are still a complete mystery to me. We got back to my parents’ house (my mother’s house, I corrected myself more than once) later that afternoon, and I started writing. I wrote for four days in between trips to Walterboro for arrangements, visitation, and finally, the funeral. When I got home the evening of April 29th, I had a nearly complete story in my hands. I don’t remember writing it, and I wasn’t sure what I really had.

At the time I was working with someone I thought was a friend of mine. She’d recently started up a press and was trying to build her reputation. She had already published my first story, Haunted, and it seemed to be doing okay. We were talking one afternoon, just as friends, about all sorts of things, and the conversation turned to writing. She knew my situation and knew what I’d been through, so when it came around to what I’d written, she asked if she could read it.

So I sent the first draft of Devil’s Daughter to her. She immediately turned around and offered me a contract on it. Which I foolishly accepted.

I should stop here and explain something – not because I want to start a firestorm, but because it’s part of the story – that’s touchy and may seem a little cruel or catty. At the time I was publishing with No Boundaries Press, and the owner, Kharisma Rhayne, is someone  I thought to be a friend. We’d talked quite a bit and we’d become good friends over the year or so we’d been in contact. At least, I thought we had. What I failed to realize was that there were warning signs all over the place. First, she’d never told me her real name. She’d told me stories of her past and some of the bad things she’d been through, and we’d talked about both her children and mine, about families and pastimes and hobbies… everything.  I never once thought I’d end up on the receiving end of her cruelty.

What I didn’t realize when I signed that second contract was that I was being taken advantage of. I honestly don’t remember the things that turned out to be in it. I have the clear memory of reading the contract and thinking “okay, I can live with this”, signing it, and emailing it over to her.  The book released in November 2012 without announcement or fanfare. it had been out nearly four days before she even told me.

Then things began to get weird.

Off and on over the next few months, people sent me messages asking about a possible sequel to Devil’s Daughter.  It was praised for its emotional value as well as its creativity.  A few people even asked me to make it into a series.  Having written it out of grief, it did my heart good to hear that it was well accepted. I wasn’t really writing at the time, but Lydia kept talking. She put all sorts of crazy ideas in my head and I realized in early January that I was gearing up to write actual novels about her. That was the point when, in the middle of this awful depression, I started to see light at the end of the tunnel. I started outlining and writing. It got to the point where I was only happy when I was working with Lydia, and the more I talked to her, the more I realized that she had a whole lot to say and wasn’t going to be done any time soon.

In January, I got into a discussion with a friend about writing, publishers, and the series in general, and in the end I had a full proposal for a five-book series that I wanted to submit. Of course, at the very last minute I went back and re-read the contract only to find that there was a surprisingly one-sided first refusal clause written into it. And by one-sided I mean not just first shot at the next book, but first shot at any book involving those characters.  It appeared that if I wanted to publish this series with another house – because there was never any conscious intention of writing a series at the outset – I was going to have to pay through the teeth to get my rights back. We’re talking a $200 buy-out clause on a story that was less than 10,000 words.

I decided I’d deal with that when it came down to it. I sent the proposal over to this friend with a note that if there was interest, I would have to take care of that before we could move forward.

Fast-forward to June of this year. We’ve passed the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, and I’m starting to clear out a little. Logically I know that if he were to see me the way I was, he’d be upset by it. That was sort of the reason why he didn’t want to tell us he needed surgery in the first place. Anyway… I’m getting better. I’m writing again. Things are finally starting to look up.

Of course, at this point, nobody at NBP has been paid since August 2012. We’re in the middle of our third quarter without payments, statements, or even any words as to when this might happen. Kharisma has dropped off the face of the planet. A few of us started talking just offhand about whether payments were expected or not. We began to sort out who had gotten paid and who hadn’t. People were beginning to contact Preditors & Editors and Writer Beware, and everyone was getting upset. Once the clear consensus was made that a group was going to approach her about breach of contract, nonpayment, and rights reversion, there’s this bizarre coincidence:

I’m still trying to sort out exactly how to handle this process when lo and behold, that very night, an assistant appears.

“Heather”, whoever she may or may not be, pops up and announces that as of the end of that quarter, No Boundaries Press will be shutting its doors. Everyone will get their rights back. Everyone will be paid. Meanwhile, I’m talking to Kharisma, trying to sort out what’s going on because everyone knows we’re friends and they’re coming to me to find out what happened.  I get a few interesting stories, and then she falls off the planet again.  The last time I talked to her was June 17th, and that was right before the letters rolled out giving us the rights back to our stories.

Great. Score one for the home team. Now about my money…

Messages started flying about when we were going to get paid. We were told August 31st would be final close-out date. At this point I’m assuming that I’m owed a small chunk of change from two stories over a year and a half from first publication to final rights reversion. Did I hear anything about it? No. Am I upset? Yes. From June 30th until August 31st, I’m in contact with the No Boundaries girls, trying to keep this thing on the tracks. We’re all angry, but we ultimately decide to wait until after that deadline to start grinding the gears. I’m particularly angry because over the last two years, I’ve stood up and defended this woman against the rest of the world. I did everything in my power to help her, and in the end I walked away with no money, no books, and egg on my face.

Toward the end of August, I heard from the other publisher friend again. We exchanged some ridiculous dialogue, then spent over an hour on the phone one night.  We talked about Lydia and my plans for her, as well as my plans for the future and the best course of action now for world domination later. It was a strange conversation, but one that makes me laugh every time I think about it. And that’s saying something, because very few people have been able to truly make me laugh lately.

August 31st came and went. No payment. No statement. No contact. At this point I just want her out of my life and to put this whole mess behind me. Yes, I want her to pay up. Yes, I want the world to know that she took shameless advantage of about fifty people. No, I don’t believe any of the stories she told me. Yes, I want this to end. I don’t have the money to hire a lawyer and go after her, and for what it’s worth, I’d be far overspending. I’m ready to let it all go, but that niggling voice in the back of my head just wouldn’t shut up. The whole thing was still hanging out there, left unfinished. It was driving me mad.

Which is ultimately what led me to tell this story in the first place.

Like I said, it’s not a particularly happy story… overall I’d consider it a learning experience.  I’m much more wary of people offering “too good to be true” deals.  Everything I read, I read very carefully now. I dissect contracts, and if I don’t like it, I won’t sign it.  And I’m not as quick to trust people these days. They have to earn it.

Fast forward again to the happy ending.

On September 11, 2013, two days before my Daddy’s 67th Birthday, Seventh Star Press made this announcement:

SSP Banner

Seventh Star Press is proud to welcome S. H. Roddey to its author family with the addition of a wonderful new genre-crossing series, The Soul Collectors, which debuts with the release of Damnation Day in early 2014.

The dark fantasy/horror series introduces the character Lydia St. Clair, a bounty hunter who is a collector of souls due to the deal she made with the Devil to save her father’s life.  In the first book of the series, Damnation Day, she awakens from a troubling dream, only to find a charred piece of parchment with the word “Armageddon” on it.

The document contains her upcoming assignment, which will send her on an adventure filled with twists, turns,  and an assortment of deities, strange creatures, powerful artifacts, supernatural realms, and more!  An apocalypse looms, and it is up to Lydia to unravel mysteries and put a stop to the most diabolical of plans.

All of it is just part of the job for a collector of souls!

On bringing The Soul Collectors Series to Seventh Star Press and joining its author family, S.H. Roddey commented, “I like the family atmosphere. It’s nice to see that there’s still a publisher in this world that isn’t just about the money – that that an old-fashioned place still exists where the doors are always open and the people are always willing to help each other. It’s cozy, but still professional.”

It’s official, ladies and germs, Lydia is back! I’ve signed a seven-book contract with Seventh Star Press, and the first novel is due in to my poor, unsuspecting editor by December 1st. They have even graciously agreed to re-publish Devil’s Daughter in digital format. And when they call SSP a “family”, they truly mean it. I’ve made some wonderful friends already, and it’s an amazing feeling. It’s nice to know that there’s a group of people that have my back, just like I’ve got theirs.

It took awhile to get there, but in the end, I’d say things have worked out nicely. I lost a friend, but I’ve gained a new family, and today I couldn’t be happier.

Champagne Toast

Want the lowdown on NBP? Check out Erica Pike’s blog post:
When Authors Steal from Authors.

Tomorrow Comes Media Presents: John F. Allen’s “The God Killers”

John F. Allen Tour Banner

Good morning, Creeps!

Welcome to another episode of Twenty Questions with Susan! Today’s victim: Seventh Star Press’ own John F. Allen. I’m particularly excited about this one because not only are we showcasing a fantastic book, but also a fantastic author and someone who has quickly become a great friend. I have a blast with this guy, and I’m sure all of you will too.

So, enough of my mouth…let’s see what John has to say, huh?


John F. Allen

SHR: So, John, tell us a bit about yourself: 

JFA: I’m an American writer, who focuses primarily on speculative fiction, but I also write poetry, essays, literary fiction stories and I am also a business writer. I studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus on Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force. I was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN where I currently reside with my wife and two children.  My debut novel, The God Killers is published through Seventh Star Press.

SHR: And how long have you been writing?

JFA: I’ve been writing since second grade. I started reading comic books in kindergarten, graduated to action adventure tales and mysteries and then began to make up my own stories about the characters I read about. It wasn’t very long before I started making up characters and stories of my own and the rest is history.

SHR: What is a typical day in your life like?

JFA: Throughout the week I take my son to school, come home eat breakfast and brew some coffee, and then I dive into writing! My goal is anywhere from 500 to 1000 words a day and most of the time I hit right around there. In the evenings, I work at a bookstore. Sunday is family day and I usually don’t write on that day.

SHR: Let’s talk books. When choosing reading material, what factors are important to you?

JFA: Genre, story and characters are very important factors I consider. I usually reach for speculative fiction works, but sometimes I read literary fiction, biographies, and other real life tomes. Of course I’m reading a lot of those types of books for research purposes, but I do enjoy them on their own merit occasionally.

SHR: And about your book now… tell us about this book and how we can get it:

JFA: The God Killers is available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon/Kindle, Barnes & Noble/Nook, ibookstore, ebookpie and kobo.

 Here is a link: http://johnfallenwriter.com/the-god-killers/

SHR: On Writing: How many genres do you write in?  Which is your favorite? 

JFA: I write in fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery. My primary genre is urban fantasy as it can encompass practically any of the other genres to some extent. I’d have to say that it is my favorite for this reason.

GodKillers Interior Shot 1SHR: Question about the craft: Which type of horror holds more appeal for you and why: situational or psychological?

JFA: I’d have to say that from a reading standpoint, psychological. I think that I want to be threatened right along with the protagonist in such a way that I’m a bit paranoid after reading the work. From a writing standpoint, I’d say situational. In placing my characters in a situation and letting the horror unfold, I allow for the characters to lead the way in their fate as I write.

SHR: Do you prefer to scare your audience with a subtle build of terror or a big monster-behind-the-door reveal?

JFA: I actually prefer to use a subtle build of terror, then end up with the BIG monster-behind-the-door being revealed as the threat and shattering the psyche of my protagonist in the process. I’m just sort of churlish that way.

SHR: Are the blood and guts necessary? Why or why not?

JFA: I think that it depends upon the story. I would not like to read or write a monster story/novel where there are no blood and guts involved. Then on the flip side, I don’t want to read or write a story/novel where the blood and guts are thrown in for absolutely no other reason than to gross me out. The blood and guts should serve some greater purpose than just shock value and gratuitous gore. However, that’s merely my personal opinion.

SHR: With the paranormal being all the rage these days, do you feel non-human characters are required for a good story?

JFA: No, but they are expected in certain circumstances and in those circumstances when they are omitted, the story most often falls flat. For example, an urban fantasy tale with some sort of fantasy creature, no matter how humanlike, is something that is expected. But, when they are lacking, it’s sort of a let down, at least to me. When I read science fiction I want aliens, robots/androids or intergalactic war.

SHR: Back to your writing: Your inspiration – is it from your imagination or from personal experience?

JFA: Both actually. I believe that imagination is heavily influenced by personal experience. When a creator imagines something it is bound to take into consideration either what they have experienced or imagine experiencing based upon what they haven’t. I personally, tend to be inspired by the, “What if?” question. I usually am spurred to imagine a scenario by asking myself that question and it’s often tempered/influenced—in at least some way—to my own personal experiences.

SHR: If given the opportunity to meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be and why?

JFA: It would definitely be Ivory Blaque. I think that she’s a dynamic character and one I’m particularly fond of. She is dearest to my heart for various reasons and I find her to be particularly interesting due to her worldly acumen and struggles with faith and understanding of the world she lives in. I suppose we have a lot in common.

SHR: Plotter of Pantser? Is there an advantage to either?

JFA: I’m a pantser. I think that the advantage of being a pantser is the spontaneity of the process. For me, plotting is too rigid and doesn’t allow for the truest development of the character. I’ve tried plotting and the closest thing I do to that is I jot down about 1-3 paragraphs to get my idea some tangibility, then I start writing. I rarely refer to the paragraph(s) ever again.

SHR: How do you go about researching your stories?God Killers Interior 2

JFA: I think of the people, places or things that I am either unfamiliar with or have limited knowledge of and make a list. I generally take at least 3-5 pages of notes on any given subject and often times only utilized about 1-3 sentences of fact. This is basically to lend authenticity to what I’m writing about within the realm of possibilities. Sometimes, I do delve quite a bit further into my research for say a historical figure that happens to be a character or an actual place where a generalized approach would be disingenuous. Sometimes setting (place) is an integral part of the story or affects the everyday life and/or thoughts of the character and serious consideration is needed. For example, a person living in Chicago (Ivory Blaque) would have some sense of history as far as the city is concerned and holds that in regard. If I as author I don’t take that into consideration when I write of her responses, thoughts and actions, I’m being disingenuous to the character and the city and its citizens. That’s no way to endear readers I think.

SHR: What comes first, the plot, the characters, or the setting?

JFA: For me it can depend upon the answer to my “What if?” question. If the answer is focused on a general idea (plot), then that comes first. If the answer solidifies into an actual character, then the character comes first and the same if the answer focuses on setting. When I’m creating, just because one of the above comes to fruition in my mind, it doesn’t mean that it will take precedence in the story once the creative juices begin to flow.

SHR: Who is in control when you write, you or your characters?

JFA: I’d say that for me it’s a give and take situation.  Most times I’m only in control up to a point before the baton is passed to the character and they start to dictate to me. I feel that this give and take relationship is something mutually beneficial for me as a writer and for my readers.

SHR: When you write, is it with or without visual/audio stimulation (tv, music, etc.)?

JFA: I always write listening to music. Sometimes depending upon the scene, I may play a specific genre of music, but mostly it’s a blend of old school R&B, Rock, Disco, Hip Hop, Jazz & Blues. I almost NEVER watch TV while writing as I find that to be too great of a distraction and it interrupts my creative flow.

SHR: If you were told you could never write again, what would you do to fill your time?

JFA: I would draw and paint. I’m also a visual artist as well as a writer. I think of it as a double edged gift, both a blessing and a curse. I would be able to write with pictures, which is a cheat in a way. I find that it’s the strong visual images in my visual artist mind that lends to me being as descriptive as I tend to be in my writing. It is great for that purpose, but sometimes gets in the way of giving much flexibility to my readers to interpret things as they want in their own mind’s eye. Although ironically, the majority of my readers thus far have said they enjoy my descriptiveness.  

SHR: Literary Hot Button: What are your thoughts on Writer’s Block? Does it exist? How do you overcome it?

JFA: Writer’s block is a real phenomenon. I don’t believe it to be an act of laziness or sloth—even though some folks genuinely use Writer’s Block as a crutch for such behavior/inactivity. I have personally experienced it and can only speak for myself in regards to it. I usually find myself writing my way out of it. I just type anything that pops into my mind and keep on in that vain and I usually end up back in the saddle as it were. This simple solution works for me, but might not work for everyone. I think that we all must find our own way to deal with Writer’s Block, but deal with it we must!

SHR: As an author, what’s next for you?

JFA: I am currently promoting my debut novel The God Killers, an urban fantasy and Thunder on the Battlefield, a Sword and Sorcery anthology which features my short story, Forest of Shadows. I’m also working on the second book in the Ivory Blaque series titled, The Conclave as well as a plethora of short stories and novellas in various genres.

Remember The Best Is Yet To Come (TBIYTC)!!!

How to find John:

Website | FB Author Page | FB Fan Club Page | Twitter


The God Killers Cover

In The God Killers, the first book of The God Killers Legacy, former professional art thief Ivory Blaque is hired to procure a pair of antique pistols and gets much more than she bargained for when several attempts are made on her life.

Her client turns out to be a shadowy government agent who reveals that she is descended from a race of immortals, and that the pistols are linked to her unique heritage and the special psychic gifts she possesses. He uses the memory of her father to guilt her into working for him.

Ivory eventually gives in to his request, and in return, he presents her with her father’s journal, which was written in an unbreakable code. Bishop believes that she is the only one capable of breaking the code and unlocking the plans of the vampire hierarchy. But when the city’s top vampire is a sexy incubus with an attraction for her and she’s assigned a hot new lycan enforcer to protect her, she finds herself caught between two sets of rock hard abs.

To regain her autonomy, clear her name, unlock the secrets of her past, and protect the lives of those closest to her, Ivory must play along with the forces trying to manipulate her. Ivory’s life is rapidly spiraling out of control and headed for an explosive conclusion which she just might not survive.

Buy it Here:

Print | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBookstore

Be sure to check out John on the rest of his tour!
Click here for more information.


Ahem… now that I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to present to you a pair of new titles from a wonderfully fabulous author (and one of my favorite people in the world). Coming to you live all the way from Kentucky (not really…he doesn’t even know I’m doing this to him yet), Ladies and Germs, please raise your Monster Energy Drinks in a toast to Seventh Star Press’ own Mr. Stephen Zimmer!

Can I just stop right here for a minute and tell everybody that Stephen is the most awesome person on the planet? Because he is. I mean he really, truly is. Just between you, me, and the wall, I’m not entirely certain he’s completely human, because no human can pull off this sort of massive greatness. He’s like superhuman.

Or something.

Anyway… let’s get to the books shall we?


How about some Horror for your Saturday? Between Stephen’s super-brain and Matthew Perry’s superb artistic skills, this one looks like it’s going to be a bucket of thrills. I know I’m already lining up for my copy.


Journey into realms of darkness and explore the regions where angels fear to tread! Welcome to the Hellscapes, featuring tales of the infernal in settings where the horror never ends and the inhabitants experience the ultimate nightmare.In “Blood Dreams” follow the tale of a woman who knew great political authority and influence in life, as she discovers the reward awaiting her in the next world.“The Grove” welcomes a new arrival, a wealthy man who is looking forward to a weekend of indulging in lust and libation, as he has for many years in this secluded convocation for the elite.  Something is different this time, though, and he soon finds that his visit will be taking a very different turn.

In “The Smallest Fish”, the story is told of a ruthless business mogul who finds himself in an abandoned, ruined version of the city he knew well … in life.  This city won’t be remaining vacant for long.

“Drowning in Tears” tells the story of a young man’s unhealthy obsession for a suicidal girlfriend that leads him on a path of severe transformation.

The final tale of Volume 1, “Lords of War”, follows the story of a man who wielded military power on a worldwide scale as a Secretary of Defense, who now learns the deeper nature of war and what kinds of monstrosities it breeds.

Buy it Now!

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Having read the first two in the Fires of Eden series, I can tell you that you’re in for a real treat with this one. The power and emotion in this world is absolutely amazing. The voice is strong and clear, and the characters are so moving… Yeah, I love it. I’m in awe of his ability to make words work.  Anyway…enough of that. Just read on and buy the book already!

Chronicles of Ave - Stephen Zimmer

Chronicles of Ave, Vol. 1

The new release features six tales, including the novella-length “Winter’s Embrace”.  It will be issued in eBook formats on Wednesday, September 4, with the print version to be released the following week. The tales are stand-alone short stories that do not require familiarity with the Fires in Eden novels.  However, those who have read the novels will find their experience of the world of Ave broadened and deepened.
The stories exhibit a range of settings, styles, and characters displaying the diverse kinds of cultures and lands to be found in Ave.  Volume 1 features the following tales:
“Into Glory Ride” tells the story of a young Trogen Warrior who is called to go up against insurmountable odds when Elves raid his homeland.  The Trogens have only begun training winged steeds for combat, but time is of the essence and a choice has to be made by the young warrior.
In “A Touch of Serenity” a conscript laborer working on a massive wall constructed under the orders of the Divine Emperor begins to hear ghostly voices asking for help.  His response leads him on a journey that will test his courage, wisdom, and compassion.
In “Moonlight’s Grace” a young man goes to help his people when a Midragardan raid strikes Gael.  He seeks to prove his worth to the chieftain whose daughter he loves with all his heart.
The novella-length “Winter’s Embrace” follows a warrior-monk deep into dangerous woodlands in the heart of winter.  There he will find his faith tested in ways he never anticipated, when he must help a forest witch against an enigmatic, immortal being known as the Undying.
“Lion Heart” introduces the heroic Sigananda of the Amazu people, who must confront things that transcend the laws of the physical world when powerful Wizards threaten his homeland.
In “Land of Shadow”, a knight who is part of a band of Avanoran mercenaries discovers how perilous the mysterious Shadowlands are when they undertake a journey to locate a site to build a fortress.