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The Scariest Part: Ray Clark Talks About IMPLANT [Aug. 14th, 2018|07:00 am]
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My guest this week on The Scariest Part is author Ray Clark, whose new novel is Implant. Here is the publisher’s description:

Bramfield, near Leeds, a sleepy little market town nestled on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. Detectives Stewart Gardener and Sean Reilly discover the naked corpse of Alex Wilson, nailed to the wall of a cellar in his uncle’s hardware store. His lips are sewn together and his body bears only one mark, a fresh scar near his abdomen.

Within forty-eight hours, their investigation results in dead ends, more victims, no suspects and very little in the way of solid evidence.

Gardener and Reilly have a problem and a question on their hands: are the residents of Bramfield prepared for one of history’s most sadistic killers, The Tooth Fairy? The detectives race against time to stop the trail of horrific murders…

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Ray Clark:

I had a good think about the scariest part of the novel, and I even spoke at length to my editor about it and we both came to pretty much the same conclusion. I don’t think there is anything in Implant that falls in the really scary category, particularly not in the sense of a heart-pounding, jump out of your skin, nearly mess yourself, scary moment.

However, I think the overall concept of notbeing in control of any given situation is a particularly frightening one. As human beings we all like to control our environment, even if it’s something as simple as having friends over for dinner and you suddenly start to realize that you’re making a mess of a relatively simple meal you’ve cooked a dozen times or more. Running late for a meeting is another good example of losing control: you’re stuck in traffic, you’ve lost signal on the mobile and shortly afterwards you start to lose it. So, there are varying degrees of loss, most of which we can overcome. But if you are threatened by someone who has imprisoned you, is going to kill you, and who takes their time to explain how and why they have you, and what they’re going to do, that’s a whole different ball game: a brand new level of fear. As things progress, you can see that no matter what you do, there is no way out. Given that scenario, I imagine your heart will start to pound, very rapidly. As a writer you can control that situation perfectly by concentrating on your own fears before transferring them to the page.

There are definitely two very intense horrific scenes in Implant that fall into that category. They instill a sense of fear in the creeping-dread-of-what-is-about-to-happen sense. Both include victims who are isolated but treated in very different ways. With one, it’s a long drawn out affair in which the victim is held captive, and being forced — in a unique way — to part with information; the other is a scene set in the waiting room of a small country railway station. I take quite a bit of time throughout the novel to explain the gentle, rural setting where life is lived at a slower pace, with a small-town, tranquil yesteryear feeling. And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, I describe what I believe to be an extremely cringe-inducing, spine-creeping scene that the police are faced with. All along, you instinctively know that no matter what they do — or attempt to do — things are going to end very badly for the victim. Hopefully, the rising panic the scene invokes causes a sense of fright in the dreaded anticipation of what is coming.

Even whilst I was writing it I could sense it all perfectly, and despite what I was doing, and the fact that I was also starting to inwardly feel uncomfortable, I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to make sure that everyone who reads that scene feels as I did — or maybe even as stressed out as the victim.

Implant: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound / Press Release & Official Trailer

Ray Clark: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon Author Page

Ray Clark’s first published work in 1995 was a 3,000 word essay on the author Graham Masterton, with The British Fantasy Society for one of their in-house magazines. A book length adaptation, Manitou Man, followed in 1998. Ray is the author of several stand-alone horror and crime novels including, The Priest’s Hole (May 2012) and Seven Secrets (Jan 2015), published by Damnation Books. Calix (Nov 2012) and two short story collections, A Devil’s Dozen (Dec 2013) and A Detective’s Dozen (June 2015), published by Double Dragon books of Canada. Ray’s first full-length crime novel, Impurity, was published by Caliburn Press in 2016. The second, Imperfection, followed in March 2017 from Urbane Publications. Endeavour Press also released Ray’s stand-alone horror novel, Resurrection in June 2017. Implant is book 3 in the IMP series, published by Urbane Publications.

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Booklist Raves About 100 FATHOMS BELOW [Aug. 13th, 2018|03:21 pm]
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Booklist is going to print a rave review of 100 Fathoms Below in their September 1st issue! I saw a sneak peek of it and have been cleared to share this pull-quote with you:

“An entirely new nightmare…Between potential attacks from enemy boats and the paranormal danger lurking among the crew, readers will wonder which will destroy the USS Roanoke first.” — Booklist

100 Fathoms Below comes out October 9th in hardcover, e-book, and audio, but you can preorder it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Steve Lichman, Vol. 2 [Aug. 8th, 2018|03:15 pm]
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Steve Lichman - Volume 2Steve Lichman – Volume 2 by David Rapoza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catching up with our favorite, all-too-human D&D monsters, STEVE LICHMAN, VOL. 2 finds the characters dealing with petty jealousy, peer pressure, misguided 1980s Sunset Strip fashions, porn addiction, an organized crime syndicate run by a talking frog, a keytar-playing Bard, all-out war between dungeons, and the perils of ordering too much Meat Lover’s Pizza from Pizza Hut. Along the way readers will find hilarious riffs on everything from THE LOST BOYS and Stephen King’s IT to Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and Francis Ford Coppola’s DRACULA.

Rapoza and Warren’s humor is as sly and knowing as ever, and the art perfectly captures both detail and emotion. The storyline that has Ben the Beholder being pursued by a child molester was a little too much for me, but other than that I loved STEVE LICHMAN, VOL. 2 as much as VOL. 1. I just wish that A) these volumes came out more frequently, and B) they were widely available to the general readership and not just to Kickstarter donors. I personally know a lot of people who would love to read about Steve the big-hearted Lich King, Flay the sarcastic Mind Flayer, Ollie the deeply insecure Owlbear, and the rest of the gang if only they could find these books in bookstores!

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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PW Raves About 100 FATHOMS BELOW! [Aug. 6th, 2018|09:19 am]
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Publishers Weekly has a rave review of 100 Fathoms Below in this week’s issue. Here’s the pull quote:

“The perfect blend of suspenseful political thriller and creepy horror is sure to please fans of both genres. Readers will not be able to turn away.”

You can read the entire review here, although be warned: it is a little spoilery.

100 Fathoms Below is coming out in hardcover, audio, and e-book on October 9th, but you can preorder it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you like to shop!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Ten Dead Comedians [Aug. 1st, 2018|08:09 am]
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Ten Dead Comedians: A Murder MysteryTen Dead Comedians: A Murder Mystery by Fred Van Lente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A clever riff on Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, Fred Van Lente’s fun, fast-paced debut novel traps a gaggle of comedians on a remote island owned by a Woody Allen-like comedy legend, where they are picked off one by one by an unknown killer. Each of the characters is modeled after a popular, real-life comedian you’re sure to recognize, although Van Lente knows not to make them 1:1 replicas or simple stand-ins; each has his or her own personality and motivations that are important to the novel. Some of the murders are gruesome, but to Van Lente’s credit he understands that, for this novel’s purposes, the comedy is more important than the deaths. He manages to keep things light and brisk. Although (just to toot my own horn) I did figure out who the killer was before the big reveal, this is still a fun, enjoyable mystery I would recommend to anyone.

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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The Scariest Part: Karen Randau Talks About DEADLY PAYLOAD [Jul. 31st, 2018|07:00 am]
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My guest this week on The Scariest Part is author Karen Randau, whose new novel is Deadly Payload. Here is the publisher’s description:

Dead birds raining from the sky. Poison in the water supply. Spies on the back porch.

A lifeless crow shatters the windshield as Rita Avery, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter arrive at Arizona’s Rim Vista Park. Rita dodges bird carcasses on the road home, where she finds her husband Cliff and son Travis gravely ill from a mysterious pathogen with no cure.

The CDC assembles a team to create a cure, but Rita doubts it will arrive in time to rescue Cliff, Travis, and dozens of her friends and neighbors.

In a race to save her family, her community, and potentially thousands more Americans, Rita launches her own investigation. She partners with a certified herbalist and a homeless war veteran dubbed Crazy Mary.

But the more clues Rita uncovers, the deeper she finds herself in the middle of a ruthless plot that could unleash a wide-ranging American disaster. And the culprits aim to stop her at any cost.

Before it’s too late for her loved ones, Rita must thwart the next attack on innocent civilians.

Murder, spine-tingling trips through Arizona’s rugged wilderness, and callous spies determined to spread havoc — this isn’t your average family outing!

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Karen Randau:

The scariest part about writing Deadly Payload was researching how easy it would be for the spies among us to launch a chemical attack on our nation’s water and food supply. It scared me so much I kept having to pause work on the manuscript — once for several months.

The protagonist in my Rim Country Mystery series is a middle-aged mother and grandmother named Rita Avery. Her first husband died in the first book, Deadly Deceit, in a movie-theater shooting on the couple’s thirtieth anniversary. The investigation into the shooting uncovered a web of her husband’s lies that originated during his service in first Gulf War, making her question everything about her marriage, her life, and herself. Because her late husband knew his sins had put his family in danger, he led Family Fight Night every Friday for years. Rita didn’t realize what kinds of self-defense skills she had gained until she had to use them.

Since then, Rita has partnered with her second husband, Detective Cliff Avery, to solve the crimes that have followed them everywhere they go. Her adventures include saving her husband from drowning, him saving her after a bomb blew her onto a tree branch hanging over a deep gorge, and working together to escape from the grips of a serial killer.

In Deadly Payload, Rita is on her own.

She is thrust into the heart of a deadly mystery when her husband and son fall gravely ill from tainted water, along with hundreds of other people in her town. She deduces that the city’s water supply is the culprit and investigates what went wrong. As she digs deeper into the puzzle surrounding the contamination, she realizes that a homeless war veteran nicknamed “Crazy Mary” may be a part of the conspiracy, and that the roots behind the attack have something to do with Mary’s service in Afghanistan. They partner up to uncover the truth, but when they come too close, Rita is taken.

I’ve done a lot of research for all of my books, but nothing has scared me as much as what I uncovered for Deadly Payload.

It started with news stories about Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election. Wondering what else they’ve done to weaken their enemies, I discovered the real Russian spies who inspired the TV show The Americans, the actual use of chemical weapons on school children in Afghanistan, and multiple assassinations worldwide using KGB tactics.

I combined those revelations with my curiosity about the American electrical grid, water system, and food crops. The result was Deadly Payload.

My friends and I spend more time washing our produce and filtering our water now.

Deadly Payload: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Karen Randau: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Karen Randau is the author of four Rim Country Mysteries: Deadly Deceit, Deadly Inheritance, Deadly Choices, and her newest, Deadly Payload, as well as Deadly Reception, one of several novellas by best-selling and award-winning authors. All her books are published by Short On Time Books. A native of the southwest U.S., Karen’s books feature a tough family-oriented protagonist from the fictional mountain town of Rim Vista, Arizona. Her article, “How Research Can Help Sell Your Story,” recently was featured in Writer’s Digest. She is a proud member of the International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. Karen lives with her family in the mountains above Phoenix, Arizona.

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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The Scariest Part: Linda Bennett Pennell Talks About MIAMI DAYS HAVANA NIGHTS [Jul. 24th, 2018|07:00 am]
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My guest this week on The Scariest Part is Linda Bennett Pennell, whose new novel is Miami Days Havana Nights, a follow up to her novel Al Capone at the Blanche HotelLet’s hear what the scariest part was for Linda Bennett Pennell:

My fourth work of fiction, Miami Days Havana Nights, was released as an e-book through Amazon on July 18. The dual-timeline work of historical suspense and contemporary mystery features 1920’s-1960’s gangsters and a young, female history professor determined to suss out their secrets.

While there are certainly some exciting action scenes filled with tension scattered throughout both timelines, in my opinion the scariest part is something that readers might not initially consider frightening. It is not a murder or attempted murder, though several such take place over the course of the novel. It is not a natural cataclysm, though the deadly 1926 Miami hurricane blows through the early historical chapters. It is not the undertaking of a dangerous assignment that could have fatal consequences, though that type of action certainly occurs in both timelines. For me, the scariest part is something more subtle than blazing guns and howling winds.

The back cover blurb offers hints at my choice for “the scariest part”:

Sometimes our biggest debts have nothing to do with money.

1926. When seventeen-year-old Sam Ackerman witnesses a mob hit, he is hustled out of New York under the protection of Moshe Toblinsky, A.K.A., the mob’s bookkeeper. Arriving in Miami with no money, no friends, and no place to hide, Sam’s only choice is to do as the gangster demands. Forced into bootlegging, Sam’s misery is compounded when he falls in love. Amazingly, the beautiful, devout Rebecca wants only him, but he cannot give her the life she deserves. When Prohibition ends, Sam begs the mobster to set him free. The price? A debt, as Toblinsky puts it, of friendship. A debt that will one day come due.

Present Day. History of American Crime professor Liz Reams has it all — early success, a tantalizing lead on new info about Moshe Toblinsky, and a wonderful man to love. Life is perfect. So what’s keeping her from accepting her guy’s marriage proposals? Confronting a long-standing personal debt sets her on a journey of self-discovery. While she delves ever deeper into Sam’s and Toblinsky’s relationship, her understanding of her own relationships increases as well, but the revelations come at a price. The emotional and physical dangers of her dual journeys may prove too big to handle.

The idea of being indebted to a powerful gangster who controls the entirety of one’s adult life chills me to the core. It would have been a psychologically and emotionally claustrophobic way of living to never know when the debt would be called in or the nature of the repayment. For me, never knowing when the axe might fall would be an unbearable form of exquisite torture.

Miami Days Havana Nights: Amazon

Linda Bennett Pennell: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Newsletter Sign-up

Linda Bennett Pennell has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. She supposes it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on her grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into her work.

As for her venture in writing, it has allowed her to reinvent herself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. She encourages you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

She resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

Her favorite quote regarding her professional passion: “History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Brand New Blurb for 100 FATHOMS BELOW! [Jul. 18th, 2018|06:09 pm]
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Check out this awesome new blurb for 100 Fathoms Below!

“Full of claustrophobic horror, Cold War submarine warfare, and hardcore evil, 100 Fathoms Below creates a powerful sense of place and a tension that festers in your gut throughout. Kent and Kaufmann invite their readers into a submerged haunted house and lock the door behind them.” — Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Ararat

Don’t forget, 100 Fathoms Below is available for preorder now from Amazon, B&N, and wherever fine books are sold!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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My Necon 38 Schedule [Jul. 17th, 2018|11:43 am]
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Necon 38 is coming up this weekend! Necon is my favorite annual convention. I’ve been attending since 2000, and only missed two years between then and now. Here’s where you can find me over the course of the convention:

Friday, July 20th

The Spark: What Inspires a Great Short Story, 2:00 PM
This will be a fun panel! Here’s the official description: “It’s the question all short fiction writers hate — ‘Where do your stories come from?’ And since most Necon Campers are too old to believe that old wives’ tale about a stork, we’ve gathered some of the best in speculative short fiction to give us a glimpse into their creative process.” With Meghan Arcuri-Moran, Christa Carmen, Nicholas Kaufmann (M), Toni L.P. Kelner, Ed Kurtz, Lisa Manetti, Helen Marshall

Meet the Authors Party, 8:00 PM
I will have copies of Chasing the DragonDying Is My Business, and In the Shadow of the Axe for sale! (Sorry, I’m all out of copies of Die and Stay Dead right now.) I will also be happy to sign any books or magazine appearances of mine that you bring along!

Saturday, July 21st

The Infamous Necon Roast, 9:00 PM
Once again I will be co-hosting the roast with Jeff Strand. This year’s victim is a doozy! You won’t want to miss this!

Sunday, July 22nd

Necon Town Meeting, 11:00 AM
I was responsible for putting together most of the programming this year, with the tireless Matt Bechtel’s help, so if you liked what we did come tell us so! If you didn’t like what we did, come tell us that, too.

You can also find me attending other cool panels, hanging out in the lobby or lounge, or browsing the dealer’s room. Come say hello! I look forward to seeing you there!

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Mine! [Jul. 17th, 2018|09:21 am]
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Mine!: A Comics Collection to Benefit Planned ParenthoodMine!: A Comics Collection to Benefit Planned Parenthood by Molly Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great collection of short comics in support of a great cause! Editors Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson have commissioned and assembled a striking, effective comics anthology from dozens of writers and artists, including Neil Gaiman, Dennis O’Neil, Amber Benson, Rachel Pollack, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Keith R. A. DeCandido, and many more. It’s astonishing how many good short, powerful comics are inside these pages! Because this is a fundraising anthology for Planned Parenthood, many of the comics focus on the subjects of personal choice, the need for access to health care, and religious or societal adversity, but a few move beyond to talk about how important Planned Parenthood is to the gay and trans experiences, especially in the early days when there were few other places to find a sympathetic ear and factual information about AIDS, safe sex, and transitioning.

It’s hard for me to choose a favorite among all the comics, but I have a soft spot for Stuart Moore and June Brigman’s “Captain Ginger in Unplanned Parenthood,” because it involves cat-people in a spaceship (Sergeant Mittens!) and refers to the now-extinct humans as “feeders.” That one was right up my alley. There are so many stories in this anthology that you’re sure to find one that’s right up your alley, too. Highly recommended, not just for the good cause but for the sheer, overwhelming amount of talent on display.

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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