This site is for Horror fans. We can discuss all things Horror here. Enjoy

John Marino

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday again

Yep, it's Monday again and I hope everyone had a good weekend. Got some writing done. Worked on a cannibal story for Indie Horror's Cannibal Cookoff. Now to come up with a recipe for the Cannibal Cookbook. Found a publisher of short stories that I will probably send a submission or two. Etopia Press, here's the site for those of you wanting to check it out.

I had a fruitful two days, how was your weekend?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Shout out to a hard worker

I feel the need to do a shout out to someone who has been busting his ass to create and maintain a site for us Horror writers and fans.
Matthew Kremer.
In a short time, approximately a month, he has created the site, started a contest for a Cannibal Cookoff story, and promoted his butt off. The site has fifty members at the time I am writing this and I am sure that the way Matthew is promoting it, the number will continue to grow.  Matthew's love of Horror is evident, and his tweets about the site are creative and witty.
His enthusiasm is contagious and I expect the Cannibal Cookoff to be a success.

Hats off to you Matthew and thanks for giving us a site we can share our work, connect with others and enjoy reading Horror.

Check out Indie Horror at http://indiehorror.org/

John Marino

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quote of the week

Alright Horror fans, something whimsical here. I'm going to do a quote of the week from either a movie or a book and you try to guess. The first one is from an obscure Australian Horror/comedy and if you have followed my recent tweets, you will know this one.

"Have you been eating meat Grant?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shameless self promotion

I first heard the term a decade ago when I was managing my son’s rock band, Dark Minions. Whose logo by the way I use as my profile picture.
Small plug there.
 It was a local promoter that introduced us to that phrase and being a self explanatory concept, we did just that; shamelessly self promoted.  It worked in so far as the band started getting regular gigs across the New England area and even served as a house band for awhile. Alas the bass player, one of my two sons in the band, is currently in Iraq. That has the band on a hiatus from playing live, but still promoting music Dark Minions has already recorded on radio shows and the web.  
I bring the band up for two reason, one to shamelessly promote, and two, in defense of shamelessly self promoting. If they had not gone out and put flyers up, stickers all over and talked about themselves as if they were the next Black Sabbath… nobody would know them at all. Now, even though it is small, they have a following; a fan base to start with.
The same goes for us writers. Whether we are or not, we must believe that we are worthy of being read and shamelessly self promote. If we are not willing to climb to the top of a mountain and yell “HEY WORLD LOOK AT ME” who else will?  We need to plug ourselves so that others will be attracted to us. If they like our stuff, maybe they will whisper to someone else, “check this person out”.
Of course bringing attention to our writing, means being critiqued, and being critiqued means learning to be better writers.  But that’s a good thing and another subject for another post.
For now I will keep to the shameless self promotion. 
Shout out loud that you are here.
Help others to shout, they may help you in the future.
Enter contests that fit your writing.
Be willing to be critiqued and learn.
Believe that you are worth reading.
Be willing to pimp your work out for free until you’ve proven people want to read you.
Go ahead leave a shout on this blog that you are here.  Put an addy down where others can find your work.
Shamelessly self promote in this post.  You’ve earned it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Interview with Draven Ames

                                                      A dad with a laptop

I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading a couple of pieces written by thought provoking new author, Draven Ames.  A recommendation from a fellow twitter user (and believe me Draven is definitely  #WW) led me to this young family man from Oregon.  Almost immediately, I could see the passion for writing in his tweets.  They led me to his blog and to his story, Nothingness, featured in the January issues of SNM Horror magazine as story of the month.

Intrigued by this philosophical author, I made contact with Draven to see if he would let me interview him. He graciously agreed and I emailed questions.  In the emails that we exchanged back and forth about the interview and following review of Nothingness. Draven himself gave me the title for this piece when he wrote that he is " just A dad with a laptop.”

I submit for your approval (extra points for those who know where I stole that) A dad with a laptop.

JM ….Congratulations on having the story of the month for January at SNM Horror Magazine with the short story, Nothingness. Nothingness makes the reader have to think for themselves to stimulate their own imagination. The ending makes you go hmmm. Was that your intention at the start of the story?

DA….The original story was about a military man who woke up to the post he lived on being attacked by the nothingness. Lots of gore, but little thought. The characters were paper thin and the story was so-so. It had been accepted for the January author showcase by their old submissions editor. When that editor left, Steve read my story and was honestly unimpressed. He said the ending was very good, but the rest... not so good.

But I had this on query letters. They promised and already said yes.

For a moment, I reverted to childhood and wanted to say "Not fair!" I could take my cookies elsewhere. But I read the story and he was right. I went into this story with a chip on my shoulder. To me this had to provoke a little thought. The heron marked swords and wands of holly, implies that the worlds in our stories are connected.

I'm very happy with the end product and hope people like philosophical horror.

Do I agree that imagination is dying? It depends on your perspective.

JM….People have said that certain aspects of Horror are played out like Vampires and Werewolves. Do you think that is possible or are there more stories to tell?

DA…That is like saying that human stories are played out. Nothing is played out. There are plenty of original stories to be made in any genre.

I'd love to see some of Shakespeare's greatest works put into vampire novels, if they haven't done it yet.

Stephanie Meyer may be hated by some and loved by others, but she did one thing Anne Rice did very well: She made vampires human. She made people identify with them, long to be them and also shy away from them. 

There are not enough werewolf books like this. I think this could be approached in a more adult arena. I would love to see a YA Ladlit, like title with a werewolf theme. Something that makes werewolves more human. Take out the full moon, turning into a wolf and so on. Make it like Teenwolf without the cheese - throw in romance, male masculinity issues in today’s age and our darker sides of human nature, and I think you could have a great story. I could see a Legends of The Fall type of story working in the market today, using werewolves.

I'm sure someone is already doing this. But there are many ideas to be written. Werewolves created in a genetics testing lab in space? Vampire football team in high school? Something where the vampire/werewolf side isn't the main plotline, but only a backdrop to the greater story.

JM...Your blog has had some very insightful and helpful tips for writers. Everything from keeping an ego in check to popular traps writers fall into. Have you ever considered the editing side of the business as a career?

DA...That is something I would love to do. I'm certain that I'd make a good literary agent or editor one day. Right now, I still have a lot to learn. College, for one, would be very nice. I don't believe I'd be currently qualified to edit someone professionally. I'm very harsh on myself, but I paid for an editing job that was not worth paying for.

An editor must be honest to make a writer better; we must be humble to get better.

JM….Have you considered starting your own magazine or publishing effort?
There are so many other ezines pushing to make it. I'd rather put my time into supporting them and writing. There are plenty of opportunities to be read, and anything I would do would only serve to detract from them.

JM….Favorite two authors and why. 

DA….Oh, I could never bring it to just two. Recently, I said my favorite horror author was King. That's true. But in all genres? Too many to count.

But here are two that come to mind: Terry Brooks and Ursula Le Guin.

As a kid, I grew up on fantasy books. Terry Brooks kept me engrossed with his Shannara series. I still love the Elfstones the most. The descriptions in his books always gave me a wildly engrossing world to enjoy. The human issues that were dealt with were very real. Each generation of characters becomes a living world. I also loved his Magic Kingdom for Sale, Sold books. Funny and good morals. Even my kids like that one.

And Ursula wrote amazing stories about Earthsea. The journey of Sparrowhawk is still with me. There were moments that I really identified with Sparrowhawk, especially in his adolescence. Ursula was also the very first author I remember reading. The thing I loved the most had to be how Earthsea's magic worked. To create something, something had to be exchanged. Nothing is created without destroying something. Sparrowhawk learns this, though I believe his name was Ged at the time. It has been so long since I read that, I can't believe I remember this.

JM….If in some futuristic censured world, Horror was outlawed, what genre do you think you would write in.

DA….You know, I didn't pick horror. One day, after finally taking the time to read a horror novel, I read Under the Dome. My wife has an extensive collection of King shorts. I read a few more books of his and decided to write something.

And here we are.

But I want to write some dark comedy, MG, YA, romance, fantasy and so many others. But if I had to pick only one - MG. I want to write something my kids can read too. I have an outline for a 4 part kids series with a very original plot, just waiting for me to get to. I can't wait.

JM….What do you look for in a good Horror story as a reader?

DA….I read mostly new authors, so good grammar is a start. Quick scenes work best for me in a short, where we can't spend much time in world building. I like to discover a character, so that usually means I want to see some characters interact and discover their traits, wants and needs on my own. Then, I want you to surprise me. Suspense is great, but nothing beats out well written characters. Mostly, I want the story to make me think about how ugly or beautiful humans can be.

JM….If you could ask your favorite author one question, what would it be?

DA….I'd ask King to play guitar with me. I'm sure he gets all the other questions. But to jam with the man, maybe hear some songs he has written?

Not one of those "Who would you have dinner with" questions.

You know, now you have to answer that. Who would you have dinner with?

Hmm. Horror theme here... I'll go with dinner with Judas - there is a philosophical story waiting to happen.

Who would explore that topic though? Maybe he thinks the other apostles had him killed because he knew the truth. What is the truth? Could you imagine the horror novel that has the second coming as being a bad thing? Perhaps it would say we pray in the name of a false idol - a plan of the devil from the beginning. Wow, I could imagine the controversy and hate mail on that one...

Sorry for the tangent - you had me thinking.

Nah, I'll take dinner with my wife on the top of the space needle. We can toast to getting an agent.

So there you have it, a small glimpse into the mind of Draven Ames.  Even in his answers, he challenges us to think for ourselves.

I want to thank him for his time and thoughtful answers.

The following is a review of Draven’s short story, Nothingness, about the death of imagination.

When I was a younger me reading Horror anthologies in the seventies, some of my favorite stories were written by authors that made you think. The Horror was of a subtle nature that used a feather to tickle you instead of a sledgehammer to drive the point home. For me Nothingness did that, it tickled me with a “Mental Mind F@#K”.  The ending made me go “Whoa, nice concept” and let me as the reader, come up with my own conclusion, while at the same time telling a complete tale.

I enjoyed this well written story by author Draven Ames. His style of description gives poetic visual references for the mind’s eye with lines like… “Lightning became electric tinsel in the sky, an ebony backdrop that left tracers of their existence.”   

The author gives enough of a glimpse into the characters lives to make you understand them; almost as if you knew them before this tale began. Not an easy thing to do in short stories. He builds up the “villain” slowly as the story progresses but fast enough to make you say “uh oh something evil comes.”

With talent like this, I expect Draven Ames to be a name well known in the literary world before too long.  He is indeed now shopping for an outlet for his first book, Bullets Till Midnight.  That is a book that I will definitely be looking forward to reading.  

John Marino

Draven Ames has a blog worth reading at…  http://dravenames.blogspot.com/

His short story Nothingness can be read at…  http://www.snmhorrormag.com/snmjan2011issue2.htm

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good taste?

 In 2000 I wrote a novel called Unholy Conception. After reading it again eleven years later, I'm not a fan of it and am rewriting it. I had a part in the book that I wrote a certain way and then rewrote before self-publishing because of the events of 9/11.

In the original version, an evil warlock training the Antichrist to use mind control powers, had the villain send hundreds of people leaping to their deaths from the top of a tall building in N.Y.C. When 9/11 hit, I thought in the name of good taste I would change that part, lest someone think I grabbed that from the headlines for sensationalism of a tragic event.

My question is, now that I am re-writing it, has enough time to gone by to make it original again, or should I leave it the way it is now? The villain instead of having them plunge to their deaths from a building, has them march into the lake at Central Park and drown.

Am I being untrue to my writing by changing this? Or do look at it as since rewriting is part of the editing process, then edit it and move on?

What would you do?

Friday, January 14, 2011

I don't know if other writers experience this or not, but I often find myself straying from where I thought the story would go when I start one. Sometimes the story takes a a mind of its own and before I realize it, a complete turn has happened and the work ends up somewhere other than the place I thought it would be. I've started out writing about crazed abductors and ended with up with Vampires. Does this happen to you?  Do you keep to a strict story line that you have come up with or does it change as it does with me?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Second excerpt from Zombie book. Feel free to critique if you want.

Amy had managed to pull herself away from the zombies grip and she stumbled backwards.  I had to step into the house in order to get a clear shot at the other zombie. 
 One shot with hollow point and what was left of his ignorant brains was oozing on the floor as he crumpled to the floor.  Amy had retreated into a corner of her living room and was shaking.  Her daughters continued their screaming.  I could hear the sound of my own daughter’s voice.
“Dad…Dad…DAD!!” My daughter Jessica’s urgent words came from the street.
“Get out here….now”
Leaving the house I entered the street to see both of my daughters and Shane staring wide eyed down the road towards the rest of the village.  All amongst the houses, in the road and on the porches, were more of the zombies.  Maybe a dozen of the foul undead creatures ambled about looking for something, or someone to bite.  My neighbors were coming out of their houses and I could see by the look on their faces that they all thought the zombies were Halloween costumes, just like I had originally thought.  I started to warn them, but it was too late. 
All holy hell broke loose as the zombies lunged, bit and clawed at the unsuspecting residents of Beebe River.  Screams mixed with undead moans as teeth tore into flesh.  The zombies were beginning their feast; blood flowed into the street of our little village.  Two of the monsters were eating Jimmy Peters from three houses down.  Jimmy was a family man with two sons and a daughter.  I liked Jimmy, I really did.  He was the kind of guy you could depend on to help if you were doing a project around the house that was too big to do alone.  You never had to ask him either, he just always offered his assistance.  He was screaming in pain and horror. Ignoring his pleas they continuing to eat.  I would have offered him my assistance right then but I could tell it was too late.  The only help I could have given him was a bullet to the brain.  Considering I only had three bullets left, and there were about a dozen of the creatures, with their numbers were growing….fuck Jimmy. 
As I watched the scene of horror unfold before me, I tried to make sense out of what was going on.  How could this be happening, where did they come from?  My thoughts were interrupted by Jimmy’s wife Delia.  She had come out to help him and been caught by one of them.  Idiot I thought to myself.  Did she really think she was going to be able to help against those things unarmed?  It wasn’t long before her screams were silenced by death.  I saw a couple of my neighbor’s doors slam shut.  Good, at least some people were thinking straight.  I couldn’t tell exactly how many people had been eaten by those things, but it seemed like plenty of the neighbors were dead in the street or on their porches.
 Screams continued to fill the neighborhood air, some of them coming from the other street near the pond. They were all over the damn place.  I knew I should be getting away myself, but it was like looking at a train wreck, morbid fascination took over as I watched the events unfolding in front of me.  It was like everything was moving in slow motion and seconds seemed like a lifetime on that grim afternoon.  Like I was in a nightmare.  All this was happening right in front of me, but I felt a strange detachment to what was going on.  Only when the screams began to die down, did I realize that three of those things were heading our way, their red eyes locked on us in an angry hungry gaze.  Red bloody drool oozed from their mouths. I could see the chunks of flesh that had gotten stuck between their teeth.
This was not good. 
They wanted our flesh to feed their unquenchable hunger.  I snapped out of my reverie and sprang to action.   
“Get into the house” I whispered the words at first.  Then I repeated them, nearly yelling the words time.
“Get into the house!”
I grabbed my youngest daughter by the arm and headed for our house.

 Survival mode was kicking in and I wanted us to put some distance between us and them. I hadn’t truly processed all that had gone on there on that usually quiet little street, but I knew we had to get out of the open and protect ourselves.  Shane grabbed Courtney and nearly pushed her in front of him to get her to move quicker.  Just as I was reaching the bottom step of our porch, a series of horn blasts to my right grabbed my attention.  Coming down the access road to the village, was my wife driving our Explorer.  Something was wrong with the rig.  The front end was nearly caved in and steam was spewing from under the hood.  The urgency with which she drove, that and the damage to it, made me realize she had encountered troubles over her own.  I spun around to watch as the Explorer came to a sliding halt in front of the small garage next to the house, slamming into two of the creatures and flinging them backwards as it did.  Before the rig came to a complete stop, my wife and oldest son Jason jumped out and bolted for the house.  As Lori and Jason were reaching me, a flurry of movement to my left drew gaze.  Running at full speed, out of the door of the now dead Larry’s house, was his ten year old daughter.  Only it wasn’t really her anymore.  Her eyes were blood red and frothy saliva flew from her mouth as she growled at me.  The cute little blonde haired girl from next door was no more. Her face was ashen and I could see that she had turned into one of those things. 
She was coming fast.
 Too damn fast for me to get a good shot off with the gun in my hand.  Instinctively I raised my right foot to the level of her chest.  When a moving object A, meets a stationary object B, the energy has to go somewhere.  In this case the energy tossed the zombie runt back about four feet, but it didn’t completely stop her.  Kid zombie scrambled to all fours and started to rise, that was just enough time to get a fix on her with the pistol.
Another zombie hit the ground.  
There was no time to breathe as the shot got the attention of the surrounding zombies.  Turning back around, I ran into the house where everyone else was and slammed the front door behind me.  We all looked at each other and one word came from all of our mouths.
The first few moments of any emergency are the most critical.  Panic and things fall apart. Keep your head and maybe you get through the emergency unscathed.  There was no time to discuss what was going on, things had to be done to protect us and they had to be done quickly.  I started giving orders to my family.
“Get the doors off the bedrooms, and bring them to the living room…”  My intent was to use the old wooden doors to cover the windows. “I will get my screw gun and screws.” As I spoke the words, I realized that that wasn’t going to be easy. The screw gun was in the garage and I had to go back outside to get to it.
“Shit, Jason, I need a distraction.  Go on the porch roof and get their attention.  Keep it on you.” Jason headed to the second floor bedroom that had a window which opened onto the roof. 
My wife looked at me with concern in her eyes.
“He’ll be alright, I need him to keep them busy while go out to the garage….”
“You’re not going out there….” My wife began.
“Look no time to argue, if I don’t go out there, we can’t secure this place. We need the screw gun from the garage.  I’ll be alright I’ll go out the side door.”  All of the houses had side doors that lead to a narrow alley like area between the houses and garages. 
With a little luck, I figured I could sneak out the side door, get in the garage, grab the screw gun, and get back into the house before any of them knew I was out there.  Trouble is, aside from the day I got married, I’ve never been known to have luck on my side.  It’s always been the hard way for me.
“How about a break today, huh?”  I asked looking up at the sky, talking to a God that I wasn’t sure liked me to begin with.
 On that particular day, God did not choose to change his mind.  I opened the side door stepped out onto the side porch and ran smack into….Jimmy Peters.  The one time friend and neighbor, was now not so friendly, and he wanted my flesh.
 Fuck me. I should have shot him when I had the chance.
 It was most of Jimmy anyway.  He was missing the pieces that had been eaten from his shoulder and arm and he really looked bad.  His face was the same ashen color as Larry’s daughter’s had been and his eyes were blood red, like the rest of them.  It was clearly obvious that this thing that almost resembled Jimmy, was anything but.  Now I am not the kind of guy who you would ever accuse of being quick.  I’m six foot tall two hundred and fifty pounds and anytime I was ever in a fight, I didn’t bother to dodge and duck. I just took the blows and kept on coming like an unstoppable wall of flesh.  When whoever I was fighting with thought he was done hurting me, then it was my turn.   
On that day however, at that particular moment, I was a goddamned ninja.  Zombie Jimmy did what zombies do and lunged to eat me.  I crouched down quick like and took his legs out from under him with a leg sweep like you see in the movies.  Pretty proud of myself I got up and raised my pistol to shoot Jimmy.  Only Jimmy wasn’t slow like a movie zombie, that bastard was quick and before I could fire, he was on his feet and charging me.  As he reached out for me, he knocked the gun to the ground.  Now I was weaponless against a fast zombie.
“What the hell” I muttered and did the only thing I could think to do.
I clothes lined Jimmy, sending him flying backwards off the porch.  I tell you I moved faster than I have ever moved before and stepped on Jimmy as I jumped in the garage through its side door.  All I could think was I needed something to hit Jimmy with and fast.  He was getting up and he sure seemed determined to make me his dinner.  Then I saw something I could use hanging on the wall of the garage. On its hook where it belonged, which was surprising in my garage, was a pitchfork.  Grabbing the pronged weapon off of the wall I spun just in time for Jimmy to impale himself on the forks.  With all my might, I heaved upwards and tossed Jimmy over my head and into the pile of garbage bags that were waiting for me to take them to the dump.  I knew I couldn’t waste any more time on Jimmy so I grabbed my screw gun and a box of deck screw off of the workbench and prayed that the tool had enough juice in the battery left to do what we needed to do.  I made sure to grab my .38 off of the ground and in the house I scooted, locking the door behind me.  Once I was in the house, I headed to the living room with the tool and called up to the second floor.
“Jason, keep them ugly mothers distracted for a few more. Shane, give me a hand with the doors.”   
Shane and I worked as fast as we could to get the wooden doors that he had taken off of the bedrooms and bathroom screwed in place over the windows.  My daughters and wife helped by holding the doors up for us to screw, and in fifteen minutes, we had all of them in place.  After securing all of the windows that any undead could reach from the ground or porch, I hollered to Jason that we were all set and I sat down at the dining room table.  Everyone was looking at me and I could see that none of us could believe what we were going through.  Somehow, we were stuck in one of those b rated horror movies we loved to watch so often. 

And nothing… could ever be the same.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chain story

Let's see what kind of story we can come up with together. I'm going to start a couple of lines to a story. You fill in the next two line and so on.  Keep it to two lines at a time in each post and have fun with it. One post per day per person. Wonder were we can take this.

It was a cold rainy night in October. One of those bitterly damp nights that makes you feel as if the world will never warm up again.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Agree with People's Choice Awards?

So the people have spoken.  The remake of Nightmare on Elm Street won the horror catagory on the People's choice last night. 

Chime in, do you agree with the rest of the fans or is there another movie from 2010 that you felt was better.  I must confess, I did not see the remake as I am a bit of a purist and felt the original did not need remaking.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Discussion topics

What topics interest you in the world of Horror? Put your ideas here and I will start a post for it. Have fun with this one if you like.


Most people hate them but to tell the truth, I love having Nightmares.  They are a source of creative inspiration for me; more than once I have used my own nightmares in writing. 
It’s funny but as a Horror lover and writer, there has only been one story in my adult life that ever came close to scaring me.  My nightmares however accomplish that for at least the first moment or two after waking up, then reality sets in and the fear is gone, replaced by the desire to remember my dream so I can use it.
I’ve had nightmares of werewolves and zombies as well as a red tinged world filled with demons.  All of them have been enjoyable since I have been an adult. 
I imagine there must be some other Horror writers out there who enjoy their bad dreams and use them as well.
Are you one of them?
Do you like the feeling of waking up scared in the night?
Do you use the nightmares for your art?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I still find it amazing at how many times I can change what I wrote after declaring it finished. Even after I 've submitted it, I think I should have changed a line or two. 
After I've re-written/edited a piece several times, and I think I'm happy with a story, my wife helps me with the "final edit" She picks out the missed commas and hyphens, the words that spell check misses because they are spelled right but the wrong word etc...etc...
Then I read it again and wouldn't you know it, I change something else. 
"This could be written better"
"I don't like the way this flows."
"Oops I over used that word."
"What was I thinking there?"

All thoughts I have had after I mistakenly figured my story was done.

We all go through this as writers I suppose. It's a kind of self inflicted torture.  Maybe that will be my Hell when I pass on.... editing the same story every day.

For me the editing takes much longer than the first draft.

How about you? 

Monday, January 3, 2011


Started this blog nearly a month ago and have two followers so far.  Thanks to the both of you.  I've made a promise to myself. To do something large or small each day that may get my name noticed in the writing world.  Everything from writing and editing more, to blogging more, to twittering more, to sharing stories with authors more, and reading more of others work as well.  The theme is MORE.  Years ago I had actually signed with an agent for a book that I had written about the Antichrist. She had interest from three different publishers when her husband died and she closed up shop. I lost my contact to the publishers and then I did the unthinkable, I felt so deflated that I stopped writing. Since it had taken me no less than 62 rejections and two years to reach that point, I defeated myself and let the air out of my own balloon. No more. I'm not giving up! I'm back and I've got too many stories bouncing around in my head that have to get out. So for good or bad, I'm in it for the long haul.  To the two who follow me now, thank you. To the many who will be following me but don't know it yet, come on in the water's fine.