Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Terror in the Canadian Wilderness

People often ask me why I’ve set two of my novels in Canada while I live in down south in Texas. I guess the simple answer is I love the remote wilderness and Canada has plenty of it. It is also rich with Native American legends about mysterious creatures that inhabit those woods. My novel Dead of Winter is set in Ontario and builds an epic mystery around the Wendigo legend.

My new novel The Devil’s Woods is set in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. In the novel, there’s an ancient forest that exists at the back of a Cree Indian reservation that is completely unknown to most of the world. But the Cree people have feared it for centuries. They call it Macâya Forest. Animals stay clear of it too. The townspeople of a nearby logging town called Hagen’s Cove know that those woods are responsible for the countless people who have been disappearing around those parts since the 1800s.

My story’s main character is Kyle Elkheart. He’s half Cree and was born on the reservation. When he was a child, his parents got divorced and his white mother moved Kyle and his brother, Eric, and sister, Shawna, to Seattle to live with an abusive stepfather. Now, all three of the Elkheart kids are adults trying to make it in the world. When they learn that their Cree father has disappeared, Kyle and his brother and sister fly a seaplane to the Canadian wilderness. Traveling with them are Eric’s girlfriend, Jessica, and Shawna’s boyfriend, Zack. When the five arrive at the Cree village set deep in the wilderness, Kyle begins to see clues to an unsolved mystery that spans decades and he learns the real reason why his tribe fears Macâya Forest.

As for why I write about Canada ... well, while living in Texas is nice, we don’t have mountains here and there are no ancient forests where man has not tread. I once traveled to British Columbia, visiting Vancouver and Whistler and I’ve hiked around the Rocky Mountains. The mountain country north of the U.S. border is breathtaking and a beautiful place to visit in my mind as type at my keyboard in Dallas. The Canadian wilderness is also so vast and remote that it’s ominous when you find yourself far away from civilization. The native tribes feared the legendary creatures of the forest. And if you enter the Devil’s Woods, you will discover there are some places in the world where man is considered prey.

The Devil's Woods is now available at Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Interview with Author Jeff Dawson

A few weeks back, I had the great opportunity to meet up with author Jeff Dawson for lunch and talk about books, publishing, and a whole lot more. Over cheeseburgers, fries and giant onion rings, Jeff enthralled me with story after story about his life and his incredible knowledge of WWII. He was also gracious enough to give me a copy of his WWII vampire novel, Occupation. That’s right; the book combines sinister Nazis against vampires you can root for in one hell of a great story. Today, I’m interviewing Jeff so you can get to know him, as well.

Brian: Jeff, welcome to my blog. It’s a real treat to interview a fellow author who has combined two of my favorite subjects: horror and WWII history. Tell us about your vampire vs. Nazis thriller, Occupation. What’s the story about? 
Jeff: Plain and simple; evil versus evil. The story follows the historical events of Germany invading Poland September 1st, 1939. When the Nazis start implementing their plan of shipping off the undesirables, they have no idea they are stealing the food supply of two warring vampire clans: The Romanovs and Boirarskys. Will the clans continue to fight amongst themselves, or combine and take on a force more evil than themselves: the Third Reich? Caution, if you’re a fan of Twilight, the only thing sparkling in this work is the moonlight reflecting off the mutilated bodies of the SS.
Brian: The vampires are obviously fictional, but does where the story takes place relate to any true events in WWII Poland?
Jeff: Yes. The Nazis set-up Krakow as the capitol of the General Government in Occupied Poland. Many of the Jewish residents were shipped to nearby Auschwitz and other camps.
Brian: I know you’re a huge war buff and that your shelves are filled with nonfiction history books. So what inspired you to come up with a horror story that mixes real WWII history with vampires?
Jeff: An interesting question. I didn’t come up with the idea, rather two women did. The lady taking care of my mom suggested I write a love story about WWII. Nope, not happening. Saw Enemy at the Gates and was very disappointed. Seriously? A love story in Stalingrad. No! I called my deceased’s fiancé’s daughter Jessica and asked her if vampires were still big. She convinced me they were. So, for two or three months I thought about combining the two in a believable historical scenario. The result: Occupation.
Brian: As someone who has done countless research for a historical novel, I’m curious how much research you had to do for this book? Did you go over to Poland? Did you study vampire lore? Or did you just tap into that encyclopedia mind of yours and let your imagination run wild?
Jeff: The later would be true. I haven’t traveled to Poland until recently; never read a vampire novel in my life. I tapped into the memory banks and let the story flow. 
Brian: I read somewhere that when you were in school you used to shoot war films. Tell us a bit about that. Did it pave the way for you to become a storyteller?
Jeff: Yeah, a couple of my buddies, back in junior high, shot a few short 8mm films. To say the least, they were really bad. Yes, I still have them. I wouldn’t say they launched me into storytelling, just the opposite. We took our stories and valiantly attempted to put them on film. Steven Spielberg has nothing to fear.
Brian: Before being an author, you worked for years in road construction. Tell us a bit about what that job was like. What made you switch careers to writing books?
Jeff: I’ll keep it toned down, since this is the family hour. If you like working outside in 110+ temps or even the bone-chilling 20 degree delight, sign on and be prepared to be called every wonderful accolade Webster’s Dictionary can’t print. At times it was a thankless profession because the average driver looked at us with disdain and contempt. “Hey, we’re only trying to help the flow of traffic. Take a pill.” Those comments were usually greeted with the one finger salute. “Back atcha, buddy.”
Back surgery in 2010 derailed the construction career, so I took up writing.
Brian: You’ve written a number of others books for different genres? Give us a brief synopsis of each of those books. Which book is your favorite?

Jeff: My favorite is Love’s True Second Chance, a memoir about my high school sweetheart. We reunited in Jan of 2009. Seven months later her breast cancer returned with a vengeance. The story chronicles the love we shared.
Why Did Everything Happen? This is another memoir/autobiography. How many times have we found ourselves wondering why our lives didn’t follow the path we laid out. That question was answered August 29, 2009 at a small cemetery in Seagoville, TX.

Terror at the Sterling. The story is loosely based on actual events. Mel Thornton is given orders from the new GM, Cheryl, to evict two hookers. The eviction plunges him back into the ’70s and an unsolved murder. Think vampire/zombies. Will Mel live to tell the secrets of the past?

Gateway: Pioche:  How about an unconventional time travel/sci fi/political thriller with a touch of the Vegas mob thrown in? The co-author Larry Welch pitched the idea to me in March of 2012. The story revolves around four Stanford grads, Muki, Larry, Judith and Abdul. After six years of studying and obtaining two Masters Degrees, the kids decide to take a vacation across the United States before joining the work force. First stop, Vegas with the hopes of earning extra cash for the trip. Their winnings don’t go unnoticed by local mob boss Nathan Francisco. The kids find themselves in deadly pursuit, leading them to a military complex NE of Pioche, NV.
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1QzqlXv9Pg

Destination D.C. is the 2nd in the series. In hopes of getting the vacation back on track, our intrepid travelers find themselves enmeshed in a plot by the Fourth Reich to overthrow the U.S. Government.
The Baseball Coaching Manual: Little League to High School Volumes I and II. I spent twenty plus years coaching and umpiring baseball. The books contain the overlooked fundamentals of baseball. Firstly, the first three letters: f,u,n. Sadly, fun has been taken out of the game. I give a no nonsense look into coaching kids.
Brian: Sounds like you’ve written a wide variety of books for all sorts of readers. There are many aspiring writers out there looking for ways to be more successful at completing books. Can you share your writing schedule and offer some success secrets to create time to write? 
Jeff: Like any job, you’ve got to work at it and keep pushing yourself, because no one else will. If you don’t work well on your own or are undisciplined, this might not be a career you want to enter. I try and write each day, but that doesn’t always happen. Many say you need to write even if it’s bad. If it’s bad, why write? I wait for the characters to let me know they are ready for the story to continue. When this happens, I can crank out between 2,000 to 5,000 words in a day.
Brian: I share your same theory. When I’m writing bad stuff because the words aren’t flowing right, it feels like a waste of time. I may write a sentence or paragraph to keep me connected to what I’m writing, but mostly the books I’ve accomplished have come on days when my characters are letting me know it’s time to write and then I can write 2500+ words a day.
Jeff: Discipline is the key here. It’s so easy to walk around aimlessly, turn on the TV, or fiddle in the garage. None of those will get word one on paper. SIT down and do it. Stop procrastinating or worrying if it’s going to be any good. DO IT! Will you make mistakes? Of course. It’s the mistakes which make us better. One other thing, do not give up and if you’re serious. Patience and perseverance will pay off.
Brian: Good advice. Any new books on the forefront, like a sequel to Occupation or something in the same WWII horror genre?
I’m working on sequels to Occupation and Target Berlin: the third in the Gateway series. With luck, I’ll release a poetry book in time for Christmas
Brian: Jeff, it’s been an honor having you as a guest author. I look forward to talking with you again soon. For anyone looking for a fascinating read, get yourself a copy of Occupation today. In this supernatural thriller, the evil Nazis have finally met their match. Find out what happens when they start taking away the vampires’ food supply.
About Jeff Dawson
I spent twenty-five years in the wonderful world of road construction. Back surgery in 2010 put the skids on that career. My body couldn't handle the rigors of twelve to sixteen hour days, six to seven days a week anymore. As I convalesced, licking my wounds, I wondered what to do next. Not being out in the sun getting baked, or dodging traffic, was going to be a hard act to follow. Seriously, what else did I know? An article in the Dallas Morning News caught my eye. It was about being a professional speaker. Hmm. That sounds interesting. Becoming mobile again, I took a seat in front of the blank monitor, pondering what to write. 

Let's start with something we know: my life. The first work was titled God's Plan: A Glimpse Into One's Life. I re-titled it six months later to Why Did Everything Happen? This is a look back at the last twenty-five years and how the death of my partner, father and true love affected my life. I was amazed at the revelations. Since then, I've moved on to write in several different genres. Some say I should change my name when diverting from the path. Well, right or wrong, I'm sticking with my name. The current works range from the love story of my one true love: Debbie Beck--RIP 7-20-2009, an alternate historical perspective of Vampires and WWII, a newly released Sci-Fi time travel adventure to Baseball Coaching Manuals. Granted, not every book I write is for everyone. I understand that, but I hope I'm showing readers diversity can be a good avenue.

I currently live in the DFW area (Dallas-Ft. Worth), spending a lot of time with my daughter, her girls and my oldest son. When I was in construction, I never had or took the time to enjoy what surrounded me: love, family and friends. My true love, Debbie, and her girls reminded me what was important in life; "we work to live, not live to work." 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Every Aspiring Writer Needs to Know by Hunter Shea

Today, horror author Hunter Shea shares some great tips that every aspiring writer needs to know about what it takes to be a professional writer.

You know, I should write a book about this.” --- phrase said every minute of every day.

There are a few things that separate the person who says they want to write a book from those who actually publish a book. They may sound simple but each actually requires passion, dedication and discipline – and maybe a little dash of insanity. How many other endeavors require you to lock yourself away for hundreds, maybe thousands of hours, with no guarantee of success after all that time missed with friends and family?

A friend of mine, who is also a writer, wrapped the mind of the writer up in one word : compulsion. Writers are compelled to tell stories. That compulsion is the driving force that keeps our butts in the chair, tapping away at our keyboard or scratching on legal pads.

So, what do you have to do to channel that compulsion and push through to publication? Be warned, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Read. If you don’t read, you can’t write. Do not pass Go. I don’t know a single successful writer that isn’t a voracious reader. Saying you want to be a writer without reading is like saying you want to be a mechanic but you never drive or tinker around with cars. If you’re a genre reader, gather up everything you can in your genre, but don’t forget to read other genres as well. You’ll pick up something from every book you read. Reading teaches you the craft, the cadence of writing. I’ve been reading 50-100 books a year since I was a teen. Reading is where it all starts.

Write.  This one seems self-explanatory, but it’s not always easy to do. Life is crazy and busy and demanding. It’s hard to establish a writing routine. (quick tip – turn off the TV. You’ll be amazed by how much time you have to write if you steer clear of the boob tube) You have to make a conscious effort to follow the AIS rule. That means Ass In Seat. While you’re there, get to writing. Fill those blank pages. Keep going until you type The End. Start something new. Then go back and revise. Odds are, your early efforts will be clunky, but don’t despair. When it comes to writing, practice does make perfect. When I look at the stories and books I wrote at the start of this 18-year journey, I cringe so hard, I’m afraid my face will freeze. You will get better if you stick to it and always, always finish what you start. When you finish, polish it like a diamond.

Study. Writing is more than an art. Writing to be published is a business. You have to learn the publishing business. What are the acceptable formats? What companies publish the kind of books you want to write? Who are the editors? The agents? What are the submission rules? How do you build a brand? Market your work? There are more books and websites and blogs out there to help the beginner writer than I can name. You can start with The Writer’s Marketplace – an invaluable tool for every writer. Subscribe to the Writer’s Digest. Look at the dedications in books, see which agents are representing the authors you hope to one day stand beside. Writing your book is just half the battle.

Submit. No one will know about the new light under the bushel if you don’t send your work out. I know, it’s scary. It’s kind of like walking naked down a busy street. Here you are, offering up your soul’s hard work to be evaluated by perfect strangers. Grit your teeth and send your work out. You studied your market, so you know exactly who to send it to in a professional manner.

Patience. The pace of publishing can be, well, glacial at best. Editors and agents aren’t always quick to get back to you. My first horror novel, Forest of Shadows, spent almost 4 years with an editor before it was accepted. Now, that’s an extreme example, but not unheard of. Patience pays off in the end. At least that’s what I tell my kids. I’ve published half a dozen books with that many more to come and this is still the most difficult part of the entire process for me.

Grow a thick skin. Rejection will be your constant companion. All published writers have drawers full of rejection letters. Most of them are form letters, some encouraging and helpful, and others downright mean. You can’t let it get you down. In fact, those rejection letters can be helpful. They may be telling you what you need to work on to improve. I once had a story that was soundly rejected by everyone because of the precarious situation I put a character in. They were very explicit about why it would never sell. What did I do? I changed the character, kept the situation, and sold that story half a dozen times over ten years.

Keep on truckin’. If you truly have the writer’s compulsion, keep working, keep learning, keep growing. It took me almost 15 years to get to where I wanted to be as a writer. Now that I’m here, I’m working even harder to improve and most of all, get the voices in my head onto the page. See, I told you there was some insanity in here.

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Sinister Entity, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal and Forest of Shadows. His first short story collection, Asylum Scrawls, recently terrorized the locals during its Halloween season release. He has three novels scheduled for publication in 2014.

When he’s not lamenting the state of the Mets, he’s working on his all horror podcast, Monster Men, a light hearted take on dark topics. He lives in New York with his family and rescue cat that won’t stop peeing in his tub.

You can follow Hunter's latest travails at www.huntershea.com. You can find the Monster Men at www.themonstermen.net

Friday, November 22, 2013

First review for THE DEVL'S WOODS

In 2 weeks my latest novel THE DEVIL'S WOODS releases (Tues, Dec 3rd), and the reviews are starting to come in.

Here's a glowing book review from Shattered Ravings.

The Devil's Woods is currently on sale for a limited time through my publisher Samhain Horror.

Here's what others are saying:

The Devil's Woods is an awesome horror novel, filled with nerve-wracking suspense and thrilling action!”

Jeff Strand, author of Wolf Hunt

“Brian Moreland’s fiction is taut and spellbinding, often blending varied themes to form a dark genre very much his own.  From his WWII occult thriller Shadows in the Mist, to the haunting chiller The Devil’s Woods, Brian’s work is at once versatile, original, and deeply engaging.” 

—Greg F. Gifune, author of The Bleeding Season

"The Devil's Woods is a force of nature. A complex, chilling foray into the darkness of a forbidden land, and man's tortured soul." 

—Hunter Shea, author of Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity

"In Dead of Winter, Brian Moreland showed why he's one of the strongest new forces in horror fiction. In The Devil's Woods, he proves he's as versatile as he is talented. The Devil's Woods is fantastic--a terrifying and emotionally-involving read from cover to cover."

—Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows and House of Skin

"Brian Moreland has created a new horror classic bursting with bloodshed, chaos, and truly disturbing creatures. Prepare to travel down a dark, terrifying, and twisted path that is The Devil's Woods. Backwoods horror at its finest!"

—David Bernstein, author of Damaged Souls and Amongst the Dead

"Reading anything by Brian Moreland makes me understand how much harder I have to work as a writer to generate the level of chills he can deliver."

Kristopher Rufty, author of The Lurkers and A Dark Autumn

Sunday, November 3, 2013

News for Upcoming Books

There's been a lot of activity going on lately with my publishing career this fall. I'm happy to announce on Halloween day I signed a contract with Samhain Publishing to publish my 5th book THE VAGRANTS (scheduled to release June 2014).

This morning I finished polishing the last couple chapters of THE VAGRANTS and emailed the final manuscript off to my editor. What a great feeling it is to have another book completed and out the door. I've been working on some cover designs, so I should have a cover to post here soon.

The premise for THE VAGRANTS is about a journalist in Boston, Daniel Finley, who has spent 6 months living under a bridge among the homeless people to study their way of life. While there, he witnesses some eerie phenomena: something strange is happening with the vagrants. I don't want to give too much away at this point, but Daniel gets caught up in a terrifying battle between the Irish Mafia and an evil that is gathering beneath the streets of Boston.

I also recently signed deals with Audio Realms, who will record all my books as audio books. If you prefer to listen to books, then be on the look out for these titles in 2014:

Dead of Winter
Shadows in the Mist
The Witching House
The Devil's Woods
The Vagrants

One month from today, December 3rd, my next novel THE DEVIL'S WOODS releases on eBook and paperback. You can order now at Samhain Horror, Amazon and all major book stores. The audio book will release in January 2014.

Now, I can start working on my next novel.

I also coach writers to be successful. So if you are an aspiring writer or know one who could use a boost, feel free to email me about one-on-one coaching at Brian (at) BrianMoreland (dot) com.

I appreciate your support and have a great day.