Book Review: Dark Hollow Road

I was so excited to get my hands on the newest novel from Pamela Morris. Want to know what I thought? Read on for my review!


Pamela Morris’ latest novel Dark Hollow Road is a psychological horror story that grips you from the start.

The novel follows Mary Alice Brown who we’re introduced to early on as the oldest of four children. They live with their abusive and alcoholic father Clay Brown in rural Pennsylvania. The poor family lives far away from outsiders and sticks to their own.

DarkHollowWhen we first meet Mary, we find she’s the victim of abuse at the hands of her father and this sets the dark, eerie tone for the entire novel. Mary comes across as both victim and monster (as the story progresses) and it’s not hard to sympathize with her plight. I loathed her while wanting to help her. Mary fights for everything she has and wants nothing more than to have her family whole. This passion drives her to do what she does though the madness consumes her.

We’re also introduced to a family that moves in next door. Renee, her son Brandon, and her partner Samantha find a house near the old Brown house and soon experience weird situations, culminating with a visit from the Sugar Lady. Contrary to her sweet name, the Sugar Lady is not someone you want to meet.

One of the unique aspects of Dark Hollow Road is the alternating view points. The chapters from Mary’s point of view are in first person and the chapters dealing with Renee’s son Brandon are in third person. Pamela handles this back and forth with great skill and the chapters are fluid and entertaining.

The overall tone of the novel is dark and foreboding. The abuse Mary suffers early in life dominates everything she does. She’s so wrapped up in preserving her family she doesn’t realize how she’s destroying it herself.

I absolutely loved this book! The characters were well crafted and believable. The setting was perfect for the story. The tone and pace were spot on. Do yourself a favor, if you like creepy psychological horror that makes you squirm, try Dark Hollow Road by Pamela Morris.

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Guest Post: Simon Bleaken

Hi there, my name is Simon Bleaken and Jason has very kindly given me the chance to say a few words on his blog. Firstly I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself, and then I’d like to share an excerpt from a work in progress.

EldritchI live in the UK and write in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres. I’ve had work appear in Tales of the Talisman, Lovecraft’s Disciples, Strange Sorcery and in several anthologies including Eldritch Embraces and Space Horrors: Full Throttle Space Tales #4.

Last year I brought out my first collection of short stories A Touch of Silence and Other Tales, and I am currently working on a second collection, which I hope to release later this year.

My biggest influences have to be my favourite authors, among them: Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. I am in awe of the worlds those guys built. I’ve always found the boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy often merge with the horror genre, and I’ve never tried to restrict myself to either – but to tell the story that needs to be told.

SilenceBy day I work for an Infection Control Team in a hospital, and it’s a job that keeps me pretty busy – but I always try and make time for writing in the evenings all the same. It was this job, and my constant promise to my colleagues to ‘write an infection control horror story’ that was the origin of the idea for the excerpt of my work-in-progress I’d like to share with you now. This story is planned for inclusion in my forthcoming collection, and is about a survey team who encounter a deadly infection on an alien world. The idea was – what if the disease was utterly deadly, but the cure was utterly unthinkable?


The shovel scraped metal. I froze, crouching in the dirt down inside the grave pit. My heart was racing, and despite the cool breeze coming up from the valley below I was dripping in sweat, my sodden shirt clinging to my skin. I sucked in a shivering breath, fighting the dizziness creeping through my body. I wanted to curl up in a small corner somewhere, to close my aching eyes and sleep. But to do that would be to die.

The fever had started an hour ago, a steady burning at the base of the spine that had spread to the limbs and up the neck into the brain with terrifying speed. I had seen it kill over twenty people in the last thirty hours, and now it was my turn.

I straightened with a wince, craning my neck to glance over at the lander. There was no sign of Gregson. For all I knew he had already passed out, maybe even died.  His infection had been far more advanced than my own, and I had left him writhing and thrashing in the throes of delirium. A flicker of guilt fluttered through me at abandoning him, until I remembered my own predicament. Falling to my knees, I clawed away the remaining dirt until I uncovered the metal casing of the storage unit. A fresh wave of dizziness washed over me as I wiped a shaking hand across my brow.

Come on, keep it together. You can do this.

Fear quickened my heart – both of what I was about to do, and of the disease now consuming my trembling sweat-soaked body. Sliding off the top of the unit, I squeezed myself between the side of it and the wall of dirt to my right. We had used one of the worker units to dig this pit just over a day ago, and I wished we still had them around to help me exhume it again.

I held my breath as I hauled the lid open. It didn’t make much difference. The smell was unbearable in the confined space. Inside the makeshift coffin the corpse was already beginning to liquefy, undergoing some kind of accelerated decomposition. Despite the state of the corpse, I could clearly see the strange fungal growths covering it. They had turned from blue to brown after death.

This foul rotting thing had been a friend once, Jason Cain, to be exact. I probably stared at his bloated discoloured face for a good twenty seconds, part morbid fascination and part shocked revulsion. Here was the brutal reality of death. We put people in the ground and then tried to forget what came next, tried to remember them as we had known them, as if that was how they would stay forever. But there was no time for any of this. I knew I was trying to put off what I had come here to do, but time was no longer on my side.

The hand tore clean away as I pulled it free of the body.

Somehow I managed to keep my breakfast down.

I crawled out of the pit, skidding down the slope beyond in a cloud of dust and grit. I collapsed at the bottom, my whole body shaking as I dragged myself weakly forwards, dry heaving painfully until my stomach and sides ached. Finally, I crawled up against a large boulder and huddled against it, filthy and shaking, drenched in sweat. Every part of my body hurt, and my vision was beginning to blur.

I looked down at the hand I held. It had been a part of my friend once. Now it was just a thing, an object, or that’s what I tried to tell myself. I just wondered how much of it I would have to eat. My stomach churned at the thought.

It’s just meat, I told myself.


If you want to read the rest of the story, keep an eye out for my next book The Basement of Dreams and Other Tales later this year.

KeplersCowboysTwilightVol2If you can’t wait that long, A Touch of Silence and Other Tales is out now in paperback and for the Kindle, and contains ten short stories (nine previously published, and one new one). You can also find my stories (and lots more by other great authors) in the brilliant Kepler’s Cowboys anthology and in Twilight Madhouse Vol 2. from Schreyer Ink Publishing.

I’ll sign off here, but a huge thank-you to Jason for giving me this chance to say hello. If you’d like to get updates on my work, I don’t have a blog yet (it’s on my to-do list!) but you can find me on Facebook at the group: ‘The Stories of Simon Bleaken’.

Why not drop by and say hello?

New Year, Better Plans

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you can take the best of 2017 and carry that over to this year. Let’s leave all that negativity and hate in the past and move forward with a purpose and a bright future ahead.

ipadrt_823x978 copy2017 saw the release of my first novel, The Selection. It has since been rebranded as The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1. It’s now the first in what I’m planning as a trilogy, set on the planet Anastasia and following Eron as he moves beyond the Selection. As the series title suggests, the Forgotten play an immense role in all of this.

I’ve had mostly positive responses to the book and it’s brought me more readers which I hope to continue into 2018.

To further that, the audiobook release of The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 is due within a week or so of this post. It’s narrated by Paul Jenkins and sounds AMAZING! I cannot wait for its release. I think you’ll love it!

ipadlt_823x978The second book in the trilogy, Rise of the Forgotten comes out on January 19th. You can pre-order the ebook now for only .99. ( A little under the radar pro-tip: if you really don’t wanna wait, the paperback is actually live and available to purchase now.)

I’m working on the third book of the trilogy, The War for Truth. I’m about 8,000 words into it and I’m planning a late Summer release, maybe July. If all goes well, you may also get the release of a series of novellas in the Fall that relates to 4-5 characters from the series.

Other than the scifi series, I’m planning on releasing two horror novels in 2018. One is titled Brown’s Sacrifice and the other is Soul Windows. Both are set in Brownsville, my pseudonym for Murphysboro, where I live. I’ve thought about branding those as Brownsville Oddities Novels and see how that goes. I have a possible third novel to include in that series, however I’m not certain about that yet.

OnTheHorizonNoWoodIn May, my book The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1, will be re-released as part of the On the Horizon book bundle which includes 22 full-length scifi and fantasy novels with the theme “little to no tech.” My book fits perfectly with the theme and to make it enticing to those that have already read my book, I’m going to include an exclusive short story that’s only part of this bundle. The best part is you can pre-order it for only .99! I highly encourage you to check it out and pre-order your copy today. Even if you’ve read my book, that’s still 21 other full-length novels for less than a $1!

Finally, I’ll be working on a fantasy novel for a 2019 release as part of a larger shared world project. I think at last count we had something like 20-25 authors committed to the project. Our plan is to release a book a month, all tied into the same world. It’s a fascinating concept and will finally get me to write the fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to write since I started creating stories.

This is what you can look forward to from me in 2018. I’m grateful to those of you who’ve supported me by buying a book, sharing my posts, or offering words of encouragement. It’s lonely sometimes as a writer and you make it all worthwhile. Thanks again for everything! Let’s crush 2018 and make it the best yet!

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 and More

NaNoWriMo has been over for about a week now. How’d you do? Did you cross the 50K threshold? If not, did you at least make progress on a new project or work on an existing one?

I nailed my target on the last Sunday of November. This makes my fifth NaNo win since I started many years ago!

soul windowsThe book I wrote, titled Soul Windows, is probably my darkest one yet. I wanted to write something closer to a pure horror novel than anything I’ve done before. I think I did it, but time will tell. I haven’t gone back to revising it yet. Immediately after I finished it I went back to an older manuscript set in the same small town of Soul Windows. I have a third book also set in the town and my plan is to release all three of them in rapid succession for a horror “series” in the sense that they’re all in the same world. There might be a few minor tie-ins between them, but other than the setting they are stand-alone books. Once I’m done with the older manuscript, I’ll get back to Soul Windows.

While writing during NaNo, I was also busy revising and working with my editor for the new sequel to my scifi novel The Selection. I’ve rebranded it as The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1. My plan is a trilogy with the possibility of a series of 4-5 novellas set in the same world but not part of the main storyline. Think of it like the Star Wars movies where there are the main movies with other movies set in the same galaxy. The new book, Rise of the Forgotten: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 2 is due out January 19th. It’s actually up for pre-order now though the cover is a placeholder until I get the actual one. Feel free to grab it for .99 today! (Oh, btw…if you’ve read The Selection and would like to be part of my ARC team to help me launch with at least 10 honest reviews, let me know. I’m assembling my team now!)

GodsEyeCover2And as if that wasn’t enough, you may have missed my release of The God’s Eye: A Collection of Horror Short Stories. This might be the last short story collection I release. I have so many longer projects in the works that I haven’t written short stories in a long time. I only have a couple reviews on it, but wow–I struck a chord with my readers! I’m humbled by the kind words. You can get it here: The God’s Eye.

I’ve also got a short story in the new collection from Hellbound Books called Shopping list 2. It’s one of my darker pieces and something that made me squirm as I wrote it! Check it out here: Shopping List 2.

OnTheHorizonNoWoodFinally, my book The Selection is part of a 22 author, 22 novel international collection called On the Horizon. We’re offering it now for a preorder price of only .99! That’s 22 novels for less than .05 each! The theme of the collection is scifi and fantasy with little to no technology. My book was a perfect fit and I might be adding something to it that’s exclusive to the collection. Please consider preordering it on the Nook or Amazon. You’re support would be most appreciated by me and the entire collective of international authors.

So, yeah. That’s what I’ve got going on. What about you? Share with us your new releases, projects, or other awesome news in the comments below!

New Release Alert: Shopping List 2

Hey everyone, I have a new release alert to share with you!

The good folks at Hellbound Books have a new short story collection called Shopping List 2 that’s available in paperback (and ebook soon) with one of my stories in it!

I’m so excited to be part of their growing stable of authors. They’ve published a couple short stories by my friend Thomas Gunther (an amazing writer you need to check out) and a novel by my friend and supremely talented author Pamela Morris.

Shopping List 2 carries on the premise of “These authors are so good, I’d read their shopping list!” Each story also has a shopping list submitted by the author and it could be a real list or made up one. You’ll have to buy the book to see which one I did! My short story A Tiny Piece of Soul will entertain and scare you. It’s probably the darkest piece I’ve published to date.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of horror, you gotta check out this new collection. I’d appreciate the support. Thanks! You can get it on Amazon here: Shopping List 2.

New Release: “The God’s Eye”

So…I have a new collection of horror stories releasing November 1st. It’s called The God’s Eye: A Collection of Horror Short Stories and features 4 stories for your reading pleasure.

While waiting for the release of the sequel novel to The Selection I decided to package 4 stories for my readers (all 4-5 of you!) to give you something new from me. Unlike my previous collections of stories, these are not flash fiction.

GodsEyeCover2The God’s Eye includes the previously published story “The God’s Eye” which is a nod to the Frankenstein mythos with a different touch. The second story titled “The House Across The Street” is about murder in a small town and is a story I’ve wanted to write for quite a while. Following that is “Roosevelt Is For Lovers,” a disturbing tale about a married couple looking to rekindle their love. Finally, “Duardo” is a companion story to “Roosevelt Is For Lovers” and delves deeper into the happenings at the Roosevelt Hotel.

I’ve had these stories around for a while and thought they’d be better out in the wild instead of on my computer. They’re longer stories, clocking in at about 5,000 words per story, and a little bit darker too. Whereas my previous collections could be considered PG13 material, I feel like these are closer to R rated, especially the last two stories.

You can pre-order it now for only .99 on all major ebook stores. Just go to books2read.com/godseye and choose your store. I hope you grab the stories (and they grab you back!)

Please share the good news to anyone who might be interested in the book. I certainly appreciate all your support and hope to continue providing new stories for your enjoyment.

Thanks!

 

NaNoWriMo Novel 2017: “Soul Windows”

As NaNoWriMo quickly approaches, I want to share a bit more about the novel I plan to write.

The title is “Soul Windows.” It’s a reference to the term “Eyes are the windows to the soul.” This should be a true horror novel, if it all goes to plan. Of course, the beauty of NaNo is that it often doesn’t go according to plan!

The story follows a twenty something man as he and his girlfriend encounter a horrific series of murders in the small town of Brownsville. If you’ve read any of my writing, you may recognize the town. It’s one I set many stories in, kinda like Stephen King. The town is based loosely on where I live. Back in the 1840’s, the county seat of Jackson County, IL (where I live) was in Brownsville. It was about 3 1/2 miles west of Murphysboro. It burned to the ground and the town was relocated to Murphysboro which is now the current county seat. I like that the ghost town doesn’t exist, yet can be a pseudonym for Murphysboro. It’s the perfect place to create all kinds of creepy and scary stuff.

soul windowsThe couple, and the town, must deal with a series of murders that occur on the full moon of every month. The victims are discovered with one eye removed and the eye is never found. The story takes place from August through November of the year of the story. I’m not sure if I want to actually use a year, like 2017, or leave that up to the reader to decide. I’m leaning toward not using an actual year.

Other than that, my loose outline is just that: loose. I’m going with more discovery writing versus planning the entire story out. I’ve already created character sketches for three main characters. I have the town and setting ready to go. I’ve mulled over motives and reasons why the crazed murderer does what they do.

I intend to shoot for 60,000 – 70,000 words. I’ve done it before. Several years back I wrote a horror/thriller novel that clocked in at 75,000 words, so I know it’s possible for me. That means if I break it down by the numbers, I need to average at least 2,000 words per day. Doable, but I’ll need to focus and make sure to dedicate my writing time solely to this while at the same time revising my latest novel set to release in January!

I’ve created a private Facebook group for fellow writers doing NaNo this year. It’s a small group and fairly quiet now, however I hope it’s a place to encourage one another and share experiences as we go through November. If you’d like to join, click here and I’ll add you to the group.

Good luck to all you other Wrimos! If you’re doing it this year, feel free to add a comment below. What kind of story are you writing? Are you a pantser or plotter? Just remember, you got this!