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Snaring a ticket to this carnival doesn’t ensure fun and frivolity

Threatened, assaulted, and ultimately dismissed from their jobs, a group of disgruntled ex-carnival workers swears vengeance on the sinister new boss responsible for their state. Coercing even the most unwilling amongst them to join in on the revenge mission, the collective wait, biding their time before returning to the carnival grounds under cover of darkness. Plans for regaining lost property and enacting some simple retribution swiftly turn deadly when a series of grisly discoveries are made.

Now, having unwittingly involved them in something insidious and monstrous, this miscreant collective are being hunted by a relentless force. As more people are sucked into the maelstrom, innocent and nefarious alike, they’re all about to find themselves on an escalating nightmare journey into a brutal world of unimaginable pain and perversion.

Snaring a ticket to this carnival doesn’t ensure fun and frivolity…

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This was an article I knocked up for JEA’s Newsletter a few months back, so in the interests of sharing it with anybody who might not have caught it then, I’ll publish it here too.

SO YOU WANT TO PUT TOGETHER AN ANTHOLOGY?

So you want to put together an anthology?

Sounds like a fairly simple straightforward proposition? Well, actually, yes and no.

Assembling an anthology seems to be one of those activities with polarising opinions. Some folks absolutely love it, while at the other end of the spectrum are those who swear they would never do it again. I’m well entrenched in the former camp, but I’ll go into my various experiences with anthologies a little later on.

For now, we’ll deal with basics, and what could be more basic than understanding the terminology, or in fact, exactly what an anthology is.

I’m know I’m not alone in being a little astounded by just how many folks-and here I’m talking about actual authors-who don’t seem to know the difference between an anthology and a collection. This happens with alarming regularity across social media and elsewhere, with somebody making a grand announcement that they have their own anthology coming soon, or such and such is writing stories for their anthology, or I’m putting together a pile of my stories for my anthology. Closer inspection of course, reveals that what said individual is actually referring to is a collection, given all those stories which will be appearing in that book are penned by a solitary author.

An anthology is made up of several stories contributed by myriad authors, while a collection is comprised of several stories all written by just one author. Fairly simple notion, yet one which seems to not be as widely known as it should be.

Then there are those books which feature a fairly heavily weighted percentage of stories by one author, yet also include a few stories from different folk. Technically an anthology per se, but pushing the boundaries of the simple definition there.

Anyway, that’s neither really here nor there; the main point here is if you’re aiming to assemble an anthology be mindful of just what constitutes it. If it is to be made up of all your own stories, well, that’s not an anthology at all. Refer to above points.

I’m no authority on anthos, so don’t take anything I make mention of here as the gospel (except that part about knowing the difference between anthologies and collections-that is the gospel. Can’t expect folks to take you seriously if you don’t learn that distinction); this is more a case of highlighting some of the challenges one might encounter when dealing with them.

Aside from what I’ve already hammered home pretty solidly above, there are no hard and fast rules. Story length is variable, overall book length is variable-that’s all up to the discretion of the individual in charge. Genre, theme, open theme, all of that is wide open to interpretation, unless one has a very clear vision of what they want to present in their particular anthology.

In the event you are specifically searching for submissions and pieces that address a very particular theme, and anything which doesn’t match this criteria won’t be looked at, it’s best to make that painfully clear in your open call. This also relates to genre. If you’re planning on sticking to just the one, make sure that is what you state-again, there are no rules existing that preclude you from having no theme whatsoever and taking stories from every genre under the sun; it might just be a little bit of a harder sell. This is only personal opinion, but an open theme, open genre anthology isn’t something I’d delve into-too broad a scope, no specific defined audience there.

I’m not going to explore the whole accepting submissions, the less fun part of rejecting pieces and providing critique or helpful reasons why certain stories were rejected, or contracts-all of that in itself would be enough to comprise another article-but I may do a follow-up piece later on which does cover all these bases. All of that is part of the process, and perhaps tosses up some of the reasons people hate the compiling of anthologies and wouldn’t do it again for the life of them. Which is perfectly understandable. It can be a challenging process indeed, but like I mentioned earlier, I’m one of those weird folk who dig all of the various elements which are involved.

In any case, once the aforementioned things are all dealt with and in place, one of the most important things with getting your anthology right is establishing a Table of Contents (hereafter referred to as a TOC). That might seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t merely a case of tossing stories in any which way, or just whacking them up in the order you received them, or something along those lines.

Different people have their different ways of constructing TOCs, but rest assured, the way you arrange this could either make or break your book, and either ensure readers continue reading or pass it up in favour of something else.

This has been well-established before by many others, so I’m just reiterating what has been previously addressed, but I’m a firm advocate of opening up your anthology with one of the strongest stories, if not the strongest, in the arsenal of accepted pieces. I stand by this, whether one is an antho virgin, making their first foray into the assembly of one, or the book you’re constructing is the latest instalment in a long-running successful series. Granted, the latter type might stand more chance of being read by an already established fanbase, but kicking it off with a great story is just going to further cement desire to read on and explore the rest of the stories. As for the former, don’t cruel your chances to gain that readership and build on it, by slapping a TOC together haphazardly and placing what is perhaps a weaker story as the opener.

I’m sure folks have elected to construct their TOC deliberately as such, building up to their best stories in an escalation of quality, tension, or what-have-you depending on genre, but personally I’d never be inclined to go that way. Considering the first few pages of any book are important, you might be able to get away with that with a novel, but not so much anthologies. That kind of slow-burn approach usually leads to story skipping, and ultimately book skipping all together.

And by the same token, don’t do the same in reverse. Having all your best stories gradually winding down until the end of the book features less remarkable ones is liable to engender a negative impact as well.

Before I proceed, I’ll just slip this in here. In an ideal situation, all of the stories selected for your anthology will be stellar pieces, top shelf stuff and whatnot, but in reality, some things are always going to stand out more or appeal to readers most of all. Of course different readers have different tastes, so what one thinks is the best tale may not be regarded as such by another person; it’s all a matter of opinion. Furthermore, if you’ve run one of those anthologies which wasn’t one with a deadline, but rather an open-until-full situation, then you’re left with whatever stories you okayed to fill up the book, and in the grand scheme of things, these might not essentially be the best of the best. There’s a high chance you’ll be contending with a few stories which though solid and well-suited to the particular theme you sought, might fall into that unremarkable category. Constructing your TOC in a certain way to highlight your strengths and distract from any potential weaknesses is a skill you’ll be wanting to cultivate.

Now, back to the last item of the TOC. You want to kick the book off with a bang, and you want to do likewise at the end. An equally strong story as your opener, or your second strongest, or if you so choose, even the best weapon you have in the armoury should be the concluding number. Leave your readers with something memorable, something ticking over in their heads. Hook them right in with the opener, leave them reeling with the closer, and between these two big bookends, keep things interesting and well thought out.

How you do that is entirely up to you, but it could be a case of somewhat similar stories following a logical progression; or it could be starkly different tales chasing one another like some deliberate paradox. Perhaps, if like me, you choose to compile anthologies in the horror genre, you might choose to alternate between shocking and subtle from story to story, juxtaposing brutality with more understated finesse, lulling a reader into a false sense of security before unloading another balls to the wall slugger that leaves them shell-shocked. It is an art form of sorts, and for me, one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding parts of creating an anthology.

There are no sure-fire methods or secrets to ensuring a certain anthology is going to be a bona fide hit, or a big seller, or a massive success. Well, there are certainly ways of shoring up the chances of the book’s success, but even then that is no guarantee. Here I’m referring to bolstering the ranks of your TOC by the possible inclusion of a big name author or more in your selected genre, whether they elect to write something new for it or graciously allow the inclusion of a reprint, but not everybody putting together an anthology is going to be afforded that luxury. Nor is it a guarantee that the name alone will be enough to pull in prospective readers, especially if a reprint is involved. It’s a fair bet diehard fans of said big name author have already come into contact with that story and buying a book on the strength of that alone may not be enough. It’s a gamble, it’s a lottery, it’s a risk.

Since I dwell in the horror domain, and have zero experience with how things operate in say, romance or science fiction or other types of genre, I can’t really wax lyrical on what sort of things are big in their anthology sphere, but I’d imagine, just as in horror, one never knows what is going to be hit and what will be a miss.

Horror itself is a funny entity in that there will be no guarantee in what is going to take off like a rocket anthology wise. Some things seem to be constantly in vogue, while others wax and wane, though innumerable factors may determine whether even those things which have eclipsed trend status and slipped into mainstream acceptance succeed or falter. Once more, if you’ve elected to make an anthology revolving around one of the most popular subjects imaginable, but have a line-up of complete unknowns or newcomers, that’s a gamble. Stacking one side (the theme), while being light on the other (the personnel) is a risky approach which may or not pay off, and same goes for reversing the scenario. Either way, it’s up to the individual to explore and discover what works.

I’ve personally been involved in anthologies in various capacities that represent both sides of the coin; the successful, and those that slip beneath the surface without making much of a ripple at all.

Most folks who know me will be aware that I run a little anthology series which goes by the name of Rejected For Content. This particular entity has been an enormous success, and I’m currently in the process of editing volume number six, such has been the favourable reception to what has pretty much become an unstoppable juggernaut. In its inception, like most ideas kicked around, this was a gamble, an experiment. However, it was a successful one. It dropped at a perfect time into a sea of readers keen to be immersed in the extreme, the taboo, the affronting and sometimes offensive, and from a brainstorming conversation between a handful of folk it went from strength to strength. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to what else I might have a hand in that would be likely to replicate that success, but inevitably there will be varying degrees of success and failure along the way, and I look forward to that. As should anybody else launching themselves into the world of anthologies. What worked for Rejected For Content won’t necessarily work elsewhere. Its emergence at a time when folks were desiring new levels of extremity assisted it to the point where it now has a hardcore fanbase (and naturally, the opposite end of the scale).

Mere gross-out attempts or shock just for shock value's sake isn't, and hasn't ever been, what Rejected is all about. There has to be solid stories anchoring all of the extremity or it's

Yes, extreme horror has been on the rise for a little while now and continues to be rising, but invariably, like the omnipresent zombies as a theme, it will reach saturation point and folks may start looking around for something else to alleviate that flood of extremity. Nobody has the ability to predict what that something else is going to be, so the best bet in regards to creating your own anthologies is not to follow the same formula and go for the common and overused themes in the hope they’re going to reap rewards, but rather think outside the box a little. Find that something else, even if it is left of centre. As it’s been well-established over the course of this article, assembling an anthology is one hell of a gamble regardless of theme. So rather than borrow from oft-used ideas or try to replicate the success of previous offerings by riding too close to what you suspect made them the hit they were, go for that little something different. The market can be fickle, riding trends isn’t essentially going to reap any reward, but that something different might just be precisely what the market is looking for.

Now, having said that, and having also referred to zombies earlier, I’ll make mention of an anthology experience that tends to go against some of what I just said.

As you might or might not be aware, J. Ellington Ashton Press has been rolling out a series of books in a massive creation that is known as Project 26. This is a collective of books comprised of anthologies, novellas, and novels, covering each letter of the alphabet, coming out in lots of four in completely random letter order.

Among these has been the anthology Zombies: Zero Hour which I took on-board as editor. The particular topics/themes of each book in the project were decided and established quite some time ago, and at the time, I’d have not elected to run with the undead subject, for no other reason other than the fact that they are often over-represented in horror fiction. When the original editor for this book dropped out, I opted to take over it and another one of the P26 anthologies also lacking an editor. Most surprising to me has been the fact that of the two anthologies, and indeed some of the others, the zombie-centric book has been most successful. This either goes to show, that I know absolutely nothing about what is likely to sell, or more likely, that as I’ve mentioned a few times around various places, that zombies are now one of those things which have surpassed mere trend status and comfortably settled their rotting corpses into the mainstream, where pockets of undead fiction fans will always be inclined to read about them. However, that in itself is still no guarantee that a zombie-based anthology is going to be a winner. The books comprising Project 26 have come out with plenty of publicity and attention, alongside teasers and information to prepare readers, excite them and make them look forward to what might be releasing next, so relying on just the notion that it’s zombies selling because zombies sell isn’t really going to push a book far.

 

Putting together an undead anthology with or without established names then letting it loose without any fanfare or press release, or promotion of any sort, and then expecting it to be a chartbuster because, hell, it’s zombies, isn’t realistically going to achieve much of anything. Expectations of success and reality are two vastly different things.

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SotS Cover

I’ve had the great fortune to helm anthologies that have garnered decent levels of success, and I’ve also been able to appear several times in anthologies alongside some of the absolute giants of the horror genre, which is an honour and a joy that never gets old, and I’ve also had stories appear in niche anthos that have had very minimal readership, some to the point where they’re no longer in print. Some of the latter were based around themes which I certainly dug, and imagined many others would have enjoyed too, but for whatever reason, the books themselves just didn’t take off at all. All of which demonstrates that there is no guaranteed success, there is no secret that can be unlocked.

So you want to put together an anthology? Go ahead and throw yourself into it. Hopefully some of this will prove beneficial to you. And best of luck.

 

 

Jim Goforth, 2017

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FESTIVAL OF THE FLESH

Plebs was bloody. Riders was bloodier. The Sleep was monstrous and Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger was an undead splatterfest.

And Carnival of Chaos was just the beginning of a new venture into bloodshed and brutality.

However, the culmination of that new venture, Festival of the Flesh, makes all of those look somewhat tame in comparison.

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I meant to post about this a little earlier, but inexplicable internet issues resulted in me being offline for a couple of days while my internet provider hustled to find out why their so-called fabulous service was suddenly absolute shit, but in any case, that’s neither here nor there.

If you’ve been playing along at home you’ll know that JEA’s Project 26 has been steadily rolling along, unleashing a series of books every few weeks. Project 26 of course is twenty six books in total, one for each letter of the alphabet, all dropping in completely random order. Among these was Carnival of Chaos (which I’ve rambled on about a little in previous blog posts) emerging on the 6th of October, and introducing folks to an octet of disgruntled ex-carnival workers seeking revenge on the man responsible for their jobless predicament.

On October 21, the second part of the ongoing story revolving around these eight would-be vengeance-seekers, along with a host of others sucked into the maelstrom of escalating violence and peril, surfaced in the form of Festival of the Flesh. This cheerful little excursion into depths of depravity is, as mentioned earlier, perhaps a book that will make Plebs and it’s sequel books seem like a pleasant walk in the park.

Carnival of Chaos definitely has its moments, but it is the foundation of the story, the build-up and setting of various scenes, the introduction of the assortment of miscreant characters that populate this freakish, violent and dangerous landscape. Given where this particular book ends, it should probably come as no surprise that Festival of the Flesh launches into bloodthirsty mayhem almost from the word go and doesn’t let up.

Carnival is occasionally laced with levity, lighter moments and instances of jocularity courtesy of some of the characters, but Festival, not so much. It is grim, bloody, ultra-violent, and keeps the foot on the accelerator throughout. In addition there’s a moment in here serving as a brutal analogy for the reality that the laughter is over. Let’s see if anybody can pick that moment.

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The crew comprised of Loco, Blades, Angelique, Cleo, Stix, Ben, Minx, and Jason have discovered exactly what the Festival of the Flesh is, and the true motivations behind the sinister Mister E. steamrolling their former place of employment under a garish new horror themed carnival entity. Along the way, their reckless and dangerous choices and entanglements have created a snowball effect that has dragged numerous others into the slipstream.

Percy, Jason’s flatmate, a studious, naive fellow, prepared to blindly folow Jason and stick his neck out for him and his friends without fully understanding what he’s involving himself in.

Dawn, gym junkie fitness fanatic blonde who happens to live in the same apartment building as Jason and Percy. Her presence in the right place at the wrong time leads her into a world of deadly obsession, and of course the perverse world of the Festival of the Flesh.

Amber, beachy blonde beauty, with an attachment to Ben, and a distrust of all else. Circumstances have rendered her abandoned and friendless, but for the motley crew that is the ex-carnies, and she’ll do absolutely anything in her power to steer the mission away from entering into the Festival of the Flesh.

Colin Kadogan, Patrick Doolan and Jennifer Brand, police officers tasked by their boss, Chief Cavanaugh to investigate the Carnival, certain that a string of incidents are tied to the new horror creation. Chasing leads on what originally seemed like fairly routine cases, albeit of an unusual nature, these officers of the law are about to be catapulted into nightmarish realms, with Doolan in particular coming face to face with horrendous visions of his past.

And while the malevolent Mister E and his whole sadistic family loom large and threatening over all, behind the scenes lurks another more insidious soul. The demented Desmond Drago, surrounded by ghosts, intent on perversion, damage and bloodshed, stalks in shadows, driven by infatuation and the desire to twist the Festival to his advantage.

While many of these characters and others (including Amber’s duplicitious cordon of former friends) first surfaced during Carnival, they are all on a collision course of violence and horror that will land each and every one of them right in the midst of the Festival of the Flesh.

Come along and join them, but remember, Carnival of Chaos needs to be read first before you throw yourself into the mayhem of the Festival.

I can’t guarantee you’ll have a good time, in fact, I’m pretty sure you’re in for the exact opposite of that.

Available now in paperback and Kindle formats (part of J. Ellington Ashton’s massive Project 26, and most likely the bloodiest of the lot). Should come with several warnings, but doesn’t. Most folks by now should be well aware of what they’re getting into here, and the cover alone should serve as warning enough. This is a bloodsoaked, boobytrapped extreme carnival ride into the sheer depths of depravity and horrific violence. Come prepared.

festival cover

 

Hidden within a seemingly innocuous horror-themed carnival exists something far more disturbing. Where those with dollars and depraved desires find everything they seek catered for.

Hunted by mutant backwoods freaks, pursued relentlessly by the malevolent ringmaster who usurped their former boss, stranded in the deep woodland, and fast running out of options, the remaining few free ex-carnival employees are about to be forced into bloody battle that is only the beginning of a descent into sheer terror.

Having discovered the truth behind the carnival’s existence, these desperate souls know there is only one way to save any of their friends from becoming prized exhibits, and perverse playthings for the sick and bloodthirsty. They must gain entry and take part in the gruesome enterprise that lurks behind the garish trappings and faux horror extravagances of the carnival’s new and improved version.

Blood is going to pour like rain, to a symphony of screams. Bodies are going to stack up. The entertainment to be had here is enjoyed only by the most sadistic and degenerate of souls, and from all walks of life they come, from every corner of society, seeking to indulge their sickest, bloodiest impulses.

Peel away the bright, colourful facade of the carnival and you’ll find the hideous heart that is the Festival of Flesh.

http://smarturl.it/festivaloftheflesh

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CARNIVAL OF CHAOS

Meet the eight souls who used to be employees of a quaint little establishment known by the rather cumbersome name of Chippy the Champ’s Classic Circus and Carnival.

They’ve just turned up to work to find their old boss has inexplicably parted ways with the business, leaving it in the hands of a sinister newcomer with an entourage of brutal staff, and vastly different ideas on how to run his new acquisition.

Not only are most of their old professions likely to be rendered obsolete and not required in the malevolent Mister E’s new vision of a sleek, ultramodern, terrifying Horror Park, but their loyalty to their former employer has them at odds with the new owner from the word go.

Harsh words become physical violence, as assaults and intimidation are carried out upon those unwilling to bend to fit into the new Ringmaster’s grand regime. Threats, sleazy propositions, and warnings that more violence and far worse will follow is just the precursor to all dismissed carnival employees being forced to leave the premises immediately without being allowed any access to personal possessions. There are many terminated employees shown the door on this day, but only these eight make the potentially foolish decision to return at a later date, seeking retribution.

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Angelique. The trapeze artist. Acrobat. Gymnast. A fiery, feisty, compact brunette stunner with a burning desire for revenge. She’s a ringleader, an instigator, and possesses a natural willingness to launch herself into dangerous situations, and the ability to convince others to do likewise.

Ben. The strongman. A six foot five shaven-headed behemoth, comprehensively covered in tattoos, fond of toting around sledgehammers. Powerful, loyal, and keen to right the wrongs he sees perpetuated on his friends. Looks intimidating, but there’s a good heart beneath that muscled, inked exterior.

Minx. The elephant trainer. Blonde and nervous, never a leader, always a follower. The least willing to buy into any vengeful missions, she’s also far too prone to succumb to peer pressure. Born of affluent folks, Minx doesn’t really need a job, but the chance to see her beloved elephants again is a powerful incentive to sway her into joining her wronged co-workers in all they seek to do.

Stix. The clown. With a penchant for food and painfully bright ridiculous clothing, the genial Stix isn’t just a circus or carnival clown at work, he’s a clown in general, fond of pranks and mischief, and a good time all round. More prepared to look for the safer way out of trouble than to plunge headfirst into it, he’s nonetheless also prepared to follow his long-time friends and associates into the pits of hell.

Cleo. The tiger performer. Aloof, statuesque, pierced brunette beauty. With a propensity for profanity, a stubborn streak and a temper, to go with no qualms about speaking her mind, she is among the first of those vowing vengeance on those responsible for the carny crew’s rough treatment.

Blades. The knife man. Short, wiry, and gaunt, Blades is small in stature, but big in intimidation. Blades isn’t merely a catchy nickname plucked out of thin air; this fellow is lethal with anything sharp and carries more concealed knives around than an average armoury. Stix’s sidekick, or more appropriately, vice versa. While Stix brings the jokes and good humour, Blades brings the genuine menace.

Loco. The oddity. The freak. The true ringleader, spearhead and driving force behind all the maelstrom of events the displaced ex-carnival workers find themselves engulfed in. A six foot tattooed, pierced, braided, Mohawked entity Loco is who all the others seek direction from. Looks frightening, genuinely is frightening. Carries around an abundance of secrets.

Jason. The sometime sideshow operator. Jack of all menial trades. Easy-going, metal-loving Jason is the newest member of the Carnival, and not being a true ‘carny’ as such, most likely to be kept around for the new Horror Park vision. Instead, despite being in desperate need of a job, he is first to speak up against those seeking to undo the antiquated notions of the Classic. Quick-thinking, quick-acting, impetuous, impulsive, Jason is the wildcard in the vengeful jobless carnival brigade.

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Spearheaded by the persuasive Loco and Angelique, this intrepid (or insanely foolish) octet bide their time for a week, then meet up once more, with plans to return to the Carnival grounds. Motivated partly by the desire to regain some of the possessions they weren’t allowed to take upon their termination, but mostly by the need to somehow seek vengeance on those they feel wronged them, the disgruntled collective return under cover of the dark.

Soon enough they can see that in that week absent from the place, Mister E, his hordes of workers, and most likely those who elected to remain in the new Ringmaster’s employ have not been idle. Nothing remains of the rustic old, tranquil place of employment they were all used to. In its place is a massive sprawling monstrosity of a creation, a modern Carnival behemoth still in the process of being completely set up. Surrounded by towering chain-link fences topped by barbed wire, this giant entity dwarfs the tiny Classic Carnival it has eclipsed.

This is the Carnival of Chaos, and what they’re about to discover inside is going to change a simple revenge mission into an escalating nightmare of terrifying proportions, where it isn’t just the eight of them being dragged into a slipstream of violence, pain, perversion and unimaginable horror, but many others as well.

 

Carnival of Chaos (which is part of the massive Project 26 creation from J. Ellington Ashton Press) is available now in paperback and Kindle, part one of a two book tale which culminates with Festival of the Flesh (available in two weeks).

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Threatened, assaulted, and ultimately dismissed from their jobs, a group of disgruntled ex-carnival workers swear vengeance on the sinister new boss responsible for their state. Coercing even the most unwilling amongst them to join in on the revenge mission, the collective wait, biding their time before returning to the carnival grounds under cover of darkness. Plans for regaining lost property and enacting some simple retribution swiftly turn deadly when a series of grisly discoveries are made.

Now, having unwittingly involved themselves in something insidious and monstrous, this miscreant collective are being hunted by a relentless force. As more people are sucked into the maelstrom, innocent and nefarious alike, they’re all about to find themselves on an escalating nightmare journey into a brutal world of unimaginable pain and perversion.

Snaring a ticket to this carnival doesn’t ensure fun and frivolity. It only ensures carnage and chaos. Survival is not guaranteed.

http://smarturl.it/carnivalofchaos

 

PROJECT 26 ROLLS ON

If you’ve been following the mammoth ongoing Project 26 entity (or alternatively, even if you haven’t-you’d probably have seen an assortment of posts regarding it floating all around Facebook, Twitter and various other places) you would be aware that more P26 books have emerged in recent weeks.

On the off-chance you aren’t up to date with Project 26, I’ll do a quick recap, though elsewhere on this site I’ve laid out what the project is all about. In short, it is a series of books-26 in total, one for each letter of the alphabet. Novels, novellas and anthologies are all represented. Unlike other projects of a similar nature (the whole alphabet represented by books or stories or whatnot) these books are not being released in strict alphabet order, instead they are coming out in lots of four or thereabouts in completely random order, so you’ll never know what is coming next.

In any case, among those recently released are a few where I have involvement in different capacities. Two of these, Slaughter on the Seas and Zombies: Zero Hour, I’m editor for (I’ll just mention here that I wasn’t initally planning to be editor for these, but stepped into the role when the original editor dropped out of the project. I have a story in Zombies, and generally speaking I’m not one to put my own stories in works I’m editor for, hence the disclaimer regarding how I came to be helming those particular books). Nonetheless, both of them are doing well, particularly the latter, despite the fact that it revolves around zombies, which of course many people feel are over-saturating the market, or they’ve had their day or some such shit. Bear in mind though, Project 26 has been in the making for quite some time now, and regardless how one feels about zombies, the truth is, they’ve gone beyond a trend to a mainstay in horror fiction, and there is always going to be a market for material revolving around them. While there may be nothing new under the sun, there are always plenty of ways to put a different spin on things and many of the authors involved in books like this with familiar themes or popular horror entities/monsters/what-have-you have found engaging and unique ways of keeping well-worn paths interesting.

Notions of the undead have fascinated and terrified humanity for centuries, and none more so than those tales revolving around zombies. From the very root of the zombie myth back in Haitian slave days to a saturation through popular culture, zombies have crawled their way up out of their graves, refusing to stay interred.

Now, as their hordes increase and their hungers grow, the undead plagues cannot be stopped. It isn’t just a case of no more room left in hell, now there’s no room left on earth. The apocalypse is here, and it’s time for humanity to abdicate their position as rulers of the planet to those monstrous reanimated ghouls from the tomb.

Humans have had their day. Time’s up. The world belongs to the zombies now. It’s zero hour.

http://smarturl.it/zombieszerohour

 

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Filled with monstrous entities from the deep, both real and fabled, and sailed by marauding pirate ships with bloodthirsty souls looking to plunder and destroy, the great briny blue of the ocean is one of the most terrifying places imaginable.

With almost three quarters of the earth’s surface covered by sea, this vast expanse is home to myriad horrors.

From hundreds of fathoms down, or lurking just beneath the surface, to brazenly navigating the nautical domain, these deadly threats are just waiting for unsuspecting souls to take to the waters.

So come on, take the plunge, dive on in. The water is fine. What exists within it is another story.

http://smarturl.it/slaughterontheseas

SotS Cover

Elsewhere I have stories appearing in a couple of the others released in those surprise bundles, including the demonic collective Dance With the Demon and the swarming plague of horror that is Insectile Illusion, both anthologies helmed by Toneye Eyenot. In the former I have a piece titled Summoning where a black metal band inadvertently bring forth a malevolent being after messing around with what they think is merely a cool song. In the latter I present Sewer Dwellers which features a thief too smart for his own good, thinking he’s evaded police capture by hiding out in the sewers beneath the city. This cunning fellow is about to discover staying one step ahead of the cops is the least of his worries.

Demons – we all have them. Like a parasitic shadow, attaching itself and penetrating its foul claws deep into your soul, your own personal demon feeds on your fears. Fear – the basest of all human emotions; the one from which all our others gain impetus and purpose – even of love.

Throughout history, the Demon has been projected outwards, given form, given a cornucopia of names and even hierarchies. Truth be told, they are a deeply ingrained expression of our own psyches. Manifesting in a myriad of ways: addictions – physical, mental and spiritual; hatred and prejudice, ignorance and subservience – the Demon lives within us all, and choreographs the dance of life towards death.

As you immerse yourself in the demonic tales within these pages, the question may arise…

How much of yourself have you given away, as you Dance with the Demon?

 

Nothing makes the skin crawl more than skin crawling with insects. Making their way into every orifice, burrowing through flesh to lay their eggs by the million; you, their unwilling host. Swarms invading your home, infesting the streets, devouring crops, bringing disease, famine, and death. If the insects decide to take over, there is next to nothing you can do in defence. Now, keep this in the forefront of your mind as you delve into this entomological excursion. The stories within are guaranteed to have you swatting and scratching at illusive insects as you read the tales these authors have poured into this bug collection from hell. Your own bed, especially, will no longer be a sanctuary as the antagonists of these stories follow you into your nightmares.

But hey, it all just an illusion, right? Right?

 

There have also been releases from Essel Pratt, Roma Gray and Mark Woods to check out as the Project 26 Machine rolls relentlessly on. Be sure to collect them all.

And stay tuned as more releases emerge since among them will be new brutality and bloodshed in the form of the dual monsters known as Carnival of Chaos and Festival of the Flesh.

CARNIVAL

Part one of an ultra-violent, splatterpunk, visceral expedition into a world of revenge, pain, perversion and bloody death. Come along and snare a ticket to this carnival, but proceed with caution. Survival is not guaranteed.

FESTIVAL

Hidden within a seemingly innocuous horror themed carnival exists something far more insidious. Where those with dollars and depraved desires find everything they seek catered for.
Peel away the bright, colourful facade of the Carnival and you’ll find the hideous heart that is the Festival of the Flesh. #P26

COMING SOON

 

REJECTED FOR CONTENT 6: WORKPLACE RELATIONS

 

Ever had that one job you absolutely hated? Where the thought of getting out of bed in the morning to head off to work filled you with utter dread? Where just about anything is an option if it means being able to avoid the place?


Evil boss? Creepy, conniving co-workers? Never been a team player, and can’t stand the thought of having to work as one?
Appalling working conditions? Underpaid, underappreciated? Sick of seeing others advance while you stagnate?


What about the other side of the coin? Ever had that one job you absolutely loved? Where you couldn’t bear the thought of losing it, couldn’t imagine how you’d get by if you didn’t have it? What lengths would you go to, to ensure you kept it?


How about no job at all? The endless parade of pounding the pavement in a fruitless search for employment, with doors slamming in your face. No experience. No prospects. No future.

Where do you go after you've been to hell_ You go insane.(1)

For the long awaited sixth volume, Rejected For Content is heading off to work.
I’m looking for tales from the workplace. Any workplace.
When good jobs go bad. When bad jobs get worse. Bastard bosses. Disturbed co-workers. Places where the most unhinged of souls would never dream of working in their wildest nightmares.


When workplace relations break down beyond fixing. Or when workplace relations strengthen, in ways that are just plain wrong.


I’m primarily after horror, but any genre is considered, as long as the piece has been, or is likely to be, rejected on the grounds of content.


For those who are no stranger to RFC, you know the drill. For anybody else, familiarity with the first five volumes just to get the gist of what we’re after is recommended, but not essential.


Get hired. Get fired. Get rejected.

REJECTED FOR CONTENT 6

There’s one month left until this closes, so get cracking with those applications (aka stories) if you have any plans to try out for a position in the most disturbing, dysfunctional, deranged workplace of all-Rejected For Content.

3k to 10k word count (flexible on both minimums and maximums-flash fiction and poetry will be considered, but since I’m primarily after stories, only a few poems etc. are likely to be accepted, so bring the best).

As this is WetWorks, extreme horror and bizarro stories are preferable, but ultimately any genre is fine provided it has been, or is likely to be, rejected on the grounds of content.
Times New Roman
12 pt
double line spacing
Deadline: August 31, 2017
Email address for submissions is blackmetaljim@hotmail.com

WetWorks Logo

TRIGGERED

Posted: August 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

TRIGGERED

This was originally intended be an invite-only experiment, but I figured I’ll throw it open for anybody who might want to get involved. Let me know and I’ll add you to the group.

Triggers. Everybody has them. Some traumatic life event. A phobia. Something brought on by anxiety. Fear. Loneliness. Desperation. Desire. Rage.
It’s how we react to them, that shapes us.
Will they break us, leave us curled up and lost, helpless and hopeless? Or will they be the catalyst in making us snap? Triggered to run riot and rampage?
Everybody has triggers. Anything can set them off.
I want stories of triggers, of the reasons behind them, what triggers folks, folks who have been triggered, how they react. And the consequences when events, situations, overheard words or misconstrued actions kick off a chain reaction where anything can happen.

TRIGGERED


This is a WetWorks project, so naturally I’m primarily looking at extreme horror, though not exclusively.
10k maximum, no minimum (flash fiction and poetry are acceptable if you feel you can do the theme justice with minimal words. Bear in mind though, the large proportion of material I will be looking for will be stories, so bring the best for poems etc. Three poem limit on submissions).
Multiple story submissions are fine.
Time New Roman 12 preferred. Double spaced.
Subject matter is wide open to interpretation, there is very little that is taboo here; after all it is trigger material and the exploration of it. However, remember I’m after stories, not just gore for gore’s sake, or something deliberately intended to offend or set someone off without the presence of a solid storyline. We’re after reasons, reactions, whys and hows, and so on.
This project is an experiment, so feel free to have fun with it, see what your imaginations can dredge up.

blackmetaljim@hotmail.com

PhotoFunia-1497952530


SOME BOOKS COME WITH A TRIGGER WARNING.

THIS WHOLE BOOK WILL BE ONE BIG TRIGGER WARNING.