Hot Summer Reads! Horrendous Sunglasses!

Desperate for some creepy reading for when you’re at the beach? I’ve come up with a list of five (it’s actually seven, but don’t tell anyone) novels and audiobooks. You can check that out over on my YouTube channel. If you haven’t hit that subscribe button, I’d love it if you did.

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Are movies more your thing? Well I was lucky enough to get the chance to check out the upcoming 68 Kill at a special screening during Wizard World last month. The movie was directed by Trent Haaga, stars Matthew Gray Gubler and AnnaLynne McCord, and was based on a novel by Bryan Smith. I’ve got a video review of that where I discuss other recent novel-to-film adaptations.

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If you’ve no interest in watching me talk, and would rather read my take on a giant monster story: Exponential is now out in paperback from Black T-Shirt Books. This new edition sports a dope new cover and a brand new afterword. If you already own the old edition: this is the same book, don’t double-dip unless you’re really sure you need to own the new cover. If you’d prefer to save paper: there’s always the ebook, also available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

EXPONENTIAL - AMAZON + FLAT

If you’ve already got that, or monsters aren’t your thing: Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume Two is now out in ebook, paperback, and audiobook narrated by Joe Hempel.  There are great authors like Tim Waggoner, Michael Arnzen, and Bryan Smith in there. Along with one by me.

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That’s all for today! Happy reading, stay cool!

Video Night Returns! The Con Season is Cheap!

Check this out:


Yeah boy! That’s the stuff. Above is the new cover for one of my most popular titles, recently relaunched under a new imprint. If you’re new to my work, or somehow just missed this one, then I urge you to click over to amazon to check it out.

It’s about the 1988 alien invasion of Long Island, NY. So it’s not only thrilling, but educational.

The book’s not only got that sweet new cover by Fredrick Richardson, but a new afterword, and a couple of editorial nips and tucks.

If Video Night is something you’ve already got, then maybe I can interest you in The Con Season, my newest novel, for the next couple of days priced at 99 cents. Yup, one dollar will get you a full brand-new novel and 5 will get you two novels and the self-satisfied warm and fuzzies that accompany helping out an independent author. (Sorry, this offer has expired, but the book’s still cheap at $2.99).


Speaking of being an indie author, that new version of Video Night has been wiped of its 40+ reviews, so if you’ve read it and liked it: I would really appreciate you taking a few seconds to review on Amazon.

Okay, pimping over. Other than trying to sell you those two things, I also wanted to share that I’ve watched and reviewed a couple of movies since we last spoke. The best of which was The Autopsy of Jane Doe, which I did a video review for right here. Please hit that like and subscribe button if you haven’t already. It helps.

Beyond that: I want to here from you. Consider signing up for the mailing list if you haven’t by clicking the “Free Short Read” button at the top of this page, I’ll send you an exclusive ebook for your troubles.

Piece,love, blood, and guts,

Adam

Surprise! THE CON SEASON is available NOW!

First the good news: you can click here, right now, and secure yerself a copy of The Con Season: A Novel of Survival Horror. That’s the ebook link, but paperback will be out in a month or two if you’re an absolute tree-hating physical media diehard.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Horror movie starlet Clarissa Lee is beautiful, internationally known, and…completely broke.

To cap off years of questionable financial and personal decisions, Clarissa accepts an invitation to participate in a “fully immersive” fan convention. She arrives at an off-season summer camp and finds what was supposed to be a quick buck has become a real-life slasher movie.

Deep in the woods of Kentucky with a supporting cast of B-level celebrities, Clarissa must fight to survive the deadly game that the con’s organizers have rigged against her.

A demented, funny, bloody, and strangely-poignant horror novel from the acclaimed author of Tribesmen, Zero Lives Remaining, and Mercy House.

Go ahead and buy the book before scrolling any further.

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I’ll wait.

Now the not-so-good news: if you nominated the book, probably already you know that Kindle Scout has decided to pass on publishing The Con Season.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s a bit of a bummer. I feel like our numbers game was strong, but I also understand where the editors are coming from.

This book—an inside-baseball horror fandom satire with moments of blackly comedic ultraviolence—probably doesn’t scream “marketable!” It also doesn’t help that their cover guidelines suggest “no weapons or blood” and I was trying to sneak in a book featuring a blood-smeared woman holding a rifle…

Or all of that could be me trying to justify them simply not liking the book. I’m big enough to admit that.

But enough about the past! Let’s talk about the future. More specifically, let’s talk about Black T-Shirt Books!

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Boom! We got a logo and everything. Huge thanks to Chris Enterline for getting that done.

I wasn’t messing around in last month’s post where I claimed to have “contingency plans” in place for The Con Season. As touched as I am at all the messages of condolence that I’ve received for being passed by Scout: really, it’s cool, nobody died!

I entered into this campaign knowing that having the book rejected was a very real possibility. I had to hand KS a completely edited manuscript and final cover art: so I was always viewing the program as an experiment in self-publishing.

And now that experiment is live and YOU get to decide if it keeps going or not.

Will Black T-Shirt books be releasing more titles? Yeah, if you and a few friends buy, review, and share this one.

I know I harp on the need for reviews (seriously, not just my books, if you read ANY book and like it: please review that ish on Amazon, you’ll be helping make quality writing more visible). But this time, since Black T-Shirt books is me doing this all by myself without the backing of a publisher, reviews are doubly important. As is word of mouth, shares on Facebook and Twitter, and updates to your Goodreads.

And if the Black T-Shirt Books experiment doesn’t succeed? Well, then it’s back to the drawing board, because we all know I’ve got schemes and machinations and secret-books for miles. 🙂

Thanks so much for everything, guys and gals, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support.

With love,

Adam Cesare
CEO and Master of Shirts at Black T-Shirt Books

P.S. New episodes of the YouTube show are up:

An early review of Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe:

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And a less-SEO friendly review of 1984’s The Mutilator, recently reissued by Arrow Video: 

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BONE MEAL BROTH—Not an Introduction


In the introduction to one of Haruki Murakami’s short story collections (it’s either After the Quake or Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman) he states he likes to approach his anthologies the way a musician puts together an album. I’m paraphrasing here because I’m away from my books and can’t look up his exact wording, but I distinctly remember that he pays careful attention to rhythm. He discerns between mellow pieces and “rockers” while also considering whether he wants the overall piece to be a concept album (i.e. the way that After the Quake is four or five very different stories all based around the same real-world event).

I like this method a ton and I tried to emulate it in some small way putting together my new collection Bone Meal Broth.

I’m no Murakami, and I don’t pretend to be, so when you pick up the book you won’t be bothered by any of this posturing and pontification. There’s just a copyright page, a short paragraph of acknowledgements and BAM! the stories begin. But hey, this is a blog so I think that self-indulgence is admissible.

If you don’t want to hear me babble about “my process” (you’ve got to imagine me holding my pinky finger out and sipping at a flute of champagne while I say that), stop reading now and just buy the book. It’s two bucks on amazon or you can rent it for free if you’re one of those one-percenters who’s got amazon Prime. If you’re not sure you want to invest the two bucks, you can also try a free sample that gives you the first complete story in the collection.

Returning to “my process”… pinkies out, everyone:

Originally, I was going to put together a collection where the stories were linked by a common subgenre: Southern Grotesque/Southern Gothic. Though many horror fans will contest that they’re not “pure horror”, I’m a big fan of the writers who’ve worked in this field (Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, etc.). My earliest short stories, the first ones I managed to sell, had been pastiches of these authors mixed with a more “straight-horror” sensibility.

I thought I had a pretty good thing going there, some semblance of a “voice” maybe. So I looked at the best two I had, the one’s that had sold to magazines and thus had been vetted to some extent, and decided I’d write two or three more to go along with them.

Wrote a new one, it took forever and wound up being longer than those earlier two combined, even after I’d cut it down. The problem was that it sucked. Maybe writing a bunch of “samey” stories wasn’t a great idea after all.

I knew that I was going to go the self-publishing route with this, that I wanted the ebook to be a quick and dirty calling card, something that would be cheap enough that people might buy it on a lark and that it would possibly be a gateway to my other work (Tribesmen, still racking up the praise, buy it now so you don’t feel left out). I also didn’t want it to be hastily put together and have the opposite effect (“hey this guy sucks, I’ll be sure to stay away from his funny typo of a name”). I wasn’t going to put in stories that I didn’t feel 100% confident about.

Enter the voice at the back of my mind: remember when you were writing stories like crazy and some of them were pretty good? The good ones were all different kinds, there were even some dark scifi ones that you never let anyone see. What about all those stories that you’ve sold and the rights have reverted back to you? Ding!

Self-publishing is both exhilarating and terrifying. You’ve got the final cut, the last editorial say-so, and that can be a good or pure self-destruction.

Bone Meal Broth consists of the nine best stories I’ve got. It’s just under 20,000 words, which means that you’ll be able to read it in about an hour and a half. That’s short, some would say too short. I would disagree, but that’s like, your opinion, man.

I like these stories. Some were dusty, that’s to be expected when you look back at something you did any length of time ago. But I dusted them off, tinkered and rewrote large swaths where it was needed, then I set out to make the most professional production I possibly could.

Just because it was meant to be a low-risk investment for consumers, doesn’t mean that it had to look cheap. One of the biggest mistakes self publishers seem to make is shoddy editing and cover art, and I wanted to avoid that.

Arthur Wang (who did my blog’s beautiful banner all those eons ago) created one of the most drop-dead gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen, and I’m truly blessed to have it. Neal Hock provided astounding editing/proofreading, sometimes making insightful corrections and alterations to stories that had already appeared in professional magazines. Finally author Guido Henkel created perfectly formatted documents for me to upload to amazon.

If you consider all the expertise that went into this little slip of a book, it’s not even really “self publishing” anymore. It’s myself and three talented professionals working together to bring you nine stories that I feel I can stand by.

As with Tribesmen, if you take the time to share, tag, “like”, or review Bone Meal Broth: you’ve got my eternal gratitude. Thank you!

The Tribesmen Spring Cleanout Sweepstakes

So my debut novella Tribesmen has been out for a full month now and I couldn’t be happier with the reception it’s garnered so far. Not only have there been several generous write ups around the web (e.g. here and here, with a piece on the launch of Ravenous Shadows at Publishers Weekly), but the book’s also been picked up by kickass writer Duane Swierczynski who called it “Sick and sardonic and just plain brilliant.”

Over the past month I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with an appropriately fun and fierce way to promote this fun and fierce little book, and I think I’ve settled on something you’ll enjoy.

I own a lot of movies. Considering that this is the era of streaming media, some would say that I own too many movies.

One thing’s certain: I’ve got to do some spring cleaning and that’s where you folks come in!

From now until April 3rd I’m going to be running a giveaway, where the prize will be a bunch of genre DVDs from my private collection. Let me be clear that these will be store-bought discs (some slightly used).

Here’s what you’ll win:

  • One Grand Prize winner will get no less than three (3!) DVDs (possibly a Blu-ray too, if they’ve got the equipment) from my personal collection.
  • One Runner-up will receive a single DVD from my stash.

Here’s how it gets even better:

  • For every tenth person (not number of entries, but individual entrants) that enters the giveaway, I will add one additional disc to the grand prize pool and there will be another runner-up winner.

How to enter-

  • The “no purchase necessary” option: For one (1) entry you can either mention this contest on your blog/website (leave a comment below with a link to where I can find it and how I can get in touch with you if you win) or you can send out this tweet, verbatim:

Vampires suck and zombies can bite me. Cannibals are the new hotness in TRIBESMEN by @Adam_Cesare http://amzn.to/xaaGfj


If you want to increase your odds of winning, you can pick up a copy of the book and enter in three more ways:

  • For two (2) entries, you can purchase a copy of Tribesmen for your kindle or nook and then forward me your receipt to adamcesare [at] gmail dot com (replacing that at with an @ symbol).
  • If you wanted to go for four (4) entries, buy the book through amazon, read it, and then leave a short, honest review for other customers to read. Someone who leaves a glowing review will get you just as many entries as someone who thinks that I’m mediocrity incarnate. Be honest and play fair!
  • Not only do I stand by my own work, but I stand by the work of my fellow Ravenous Shadows writers as well. John Skipp has put together an amazing starting lineup, so you can also get two (2) additional entries into the contest if you buy any of the other books from the imprint.These are: Eric Shapiro’s The Devoted, Jan Kozlowski’s Die, You Bastard! Die! and Mikita Brottman’s House of Quiet Madness.

I will keep track of entries and use a random number generator to decide upon a winner on the night of April 3rd. This contest is open to everyone (even Brits and Canadians, the book’s available pretty much worldwide) with the obvious exception of my family and fellow Ravenous Shadows authors who are listed above (reviewing your own books sounds unethical).

Be sure to follow me on twitter @Adam_Cesare, because as more people begin to enter I may drop hints as to what kind of crazy crap the winner will be receiving.

GOOD LUCK!

The TRIBESMEN post: To thine own self-promotion be true


Hello dearest Reader,

You may not know this, but not only do I write (intermittently) about obscure films and books, I also write fiction.

In the past I’ve posted links to various magazines my work has appeared in, but this time things are slightly different. This time I’ve got a whole book all to myself and it’s being released as part of John Skipp’s new Ravenous Shadows imprint.

Tribesmen is a 30,000 word novella (meaning it will take roughly the same amount of time as a feature film) and it’s available right now for your amazon Kindle (or the Kindle iphone/android/PC app, if you’re not into the whole e-reader scene).

Here’s the official synopsis:

In the early 80’s – at the height of the ultra-violent “Italian cannibal” grindhouse film craze – a small international cast and crew descend on an isolated Caribbean island, hoping to crassly exploit the native talent.

But the angry, undead spirits of the island have a different, more original script in mind. And as horror after staggering horror unfolds, the camera keeps rolling. To the blood-spattered end…

If you read this blog regularly, it’s up your alley. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the incredible authors who were generous enough to blurb me:

“The best new writer I’ve read in years. Wonderfully lean prose and edge-of-your-seat thrills. Drop everything else and start reading Tribesmen.”

Nate Kenyon, author of Sparrow Rock and Starcraft Ghost: Spectres

Tribesmen is a gory and clever homage to those Italian cannibal flicks that we all love so dearly, but without the real-life animal cruelty! Highly recommended.”

Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Wolf Hunt.

“Sometimes everything goes wrong, in the best possible way. Think Snuff and Cannibal Holocaust meeting at a midnight movie. And then give one of them a camera, the other a knife.”

Stephen Graham Jones, author of It Came from Del Rio, Demon Theory and The Ones That Got Away

There you go, that’s my pitch. If you’re curious but not sold, you can send a free sample to your Kindle (the first 1 and 1/2 chapters, I believe).

Check it out here and if you do pick it up, please consider writing a quick review.

Thanks for your time,

Adam

Update: if you are a nook user, the ebook is now also available at Barnes and Noble.

Cruising Up Mulholland Drive


If you’re an occasional gamer, like me, then you’ve probably already heard of L.A. Noire. What you may not know is that publisher Mulholland Books has partnered with Rockstar Games to put out an ebook anthology that contains original fiction from some of the best authors in the crime business (Joyce Carol Oates! Joe Lansdale! Dwayne Swierczynski! Lawrence Block!). I currently have a guest post over at the Mulholland Books site that extols the virtues of both the game and the book. It would mean the world if you dropped by and gave it a read.

If you have a gaming console and haven’t picked up L.A. Noire yet: I strongly encourage that you do so as the the price is already dropping. I’m not versed enough in game economics to know if this price drop is a good or a bad thing (I want a follow-up damn it!).

Pleased to Meet You: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and It Came from Del Rio by Stephen Graham Jones

Last weekend, whilst visiting my native Long Island, I attended the Horror Writers Association’s Stoker Weekend. Stoker weekend is a semi-self-congratulatory, but fully awesome, writer’s convention and awards ceremony where I got to meet a bunch of people whose work I know and respect. A week later, looking back on the experience, I’ve realized that what I found just as satisfying as meeting those folks that I was familiar with was meeting writers whose work I had never given a chance. What follows are quick reviews of two such books, both of which I burned through in a couple of days (a sign of quality if I ever heard one).

I pride myself on having one finger on the pulse of horror at all times, so how the hell is this the first time I’ve picked up a book by Stephen Graham Jones? While many of the great horror writers seem preoccupied with either distancing themselves from their genre or legitimizing it, Jones jumps into the fray with a one two punch of high-literary sensibility and unapologetic pulp in It Came from Del Rio.

The story concerns a career criminal smuggler, Dodd, who is looking to retire after one last big job. Unfortunately for him the job is a doozey; one that leaves him genetically altered and concerns not only giant mutant rabbits, but radiation-sick chupacabras.

Del Rio is the kind of novel that sounds silly when summarized and puts the reader off guard with its title and lurid cover art (the subtitle is Part 1 of the Bunnyhead Chronicles, just in case the “It Came From” prefix didn’t do it for you), but pays big emotional and artistic dividends. The only corollary for Del Rio that I can think of is the work of Joe Lansdale (and not just because of the Texas connection). In fact, if you place this next to Lansdale’s The Drive-In, you could make a pretty good case that Jones is working in a brave new sub-genre: art-camp.

Both prosaically and structurally interesting (the book is broken down the middle for its two narrators, Dodd and his daughter Laurie) It Came from Del Rio is a quick read that sizzles with originality and genuine affection for the genre it is elevating to the level of high-art. I can’t wait to see what surprises the rest of Jones’ work holds.

Buy it right now from amazon!

I’ve seen both of Gillian Flynn’s books at my local bookstore, so when I was asked by one of the convention organizers if I knew her work I answered: “I’ve heard the name.” Not the best choice of words, because the next thing I know I’m being introduced to Flynn by said organizer as “a fan.” It was a little white lie on his part that was benign enough until Flynn asked me point-blank: “So you’ve read the books?” I can only assume that I turned all kinds of colors before confessing that “He may have overstated that ‘fan’ part a bit.”

It was only once I began reading Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, that I realized my embarrassment had yielded more than a funny story: I was indeed a fan.

A dark, neo-noir crime story that centers on a Chicago reporter’s return to her small hometown to investigate a series of murdered young girls, Sharp Objects is one of the most shocking and intelligent books I’ve read in a long, long time. To summarize is to bastardize, especially in a book where mystery is such an integral element to the work’s effectiveness, so I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

Our reporter protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a reformed cutter. She compulsively carves words into her skin and throughout the narrative is constantly reminded of her scars and the words they spell. It’s a haunting device that works far better than it would at the hands of a lesser writer. Camille’s scars, unsurprisingly, stem from her childhood. Her past, the death of her beloved little sister and her strained relationship with her mother, are pieces of backstory that don’t strictly serve as characterization, but directly inform the plot in such a way that it takes the text far beyond the typical series of red herrings and reversals usually found in crime fiction.

Flynn excels in creating supporting characters that at once evoke disgust and pity. There are times, especially when the reader is completely unsure who is the killer, where certain characters are either complete sociopaths, or absolute victims of circumstance. These constant subversions of expectation are a neat trick, and one that never outstays its welcome thanks to Flynn’s clean pacing and insightful prose.

During one of the weekend’s panel discussions, Flynn downplayed the feminist overtones of her work, and even cited instances where she was labeled misogynist (the bulk of the books most reprehensible characters are women). It is my opinion that feminism is not a dirty word, and I would even go further and say that this is a great feminist text, precisely because Flynn allows much of the ugliness to be inflicted by women. Sharp Objects is a story where the only ‘sane’ and ‘normal’ character is the one with the most emotional and physical scars. Camille is a woman who has truly felt the hurt that society ladles on women but has reconfigured societal expectation (her mother and sister are perverted into monstrosities by the extremes of this expectation) into fortitude and altruism.

Sorry if I got too pseudo-intellectual for a second, but the bottom line is that this book is excellent.

I highly recommend that you pick it up.

Giveaway: Invest in Horror and Win Valuable Prizes!


Followers of my twitter know that I’ve been (politely!) spamming John Skipp’s Kickstarter project Rose: The 3D Zombie Puppet Musical. Well, with about 20 days to go, the film needs some more support if it’s going to get made.

Skipp describes the film as “Pee Wee’s Playhouse meets Night of the Living Dead.” For those leery of donating: check out the Kickstarter page, watch the video, read the literature and see that Skipp and the rest of the production have a game-plan and that this film has a great chance of kicking serious booty.

The production is offering some very cool incentives for all the different levels of pledges (from $1 to 5K) but I figured I’d try and do my part to sweeten the deal.

Anyone who pledges on the site (even a dollar) and leaves their name (the one you used to pledge, please) and email in the comments section on this blog will be entered to win the paperback version of John Skipp & Craig Spector’s splatter-punk classic The Bridge. Not only is this a great book, but because of the troubles of publisher Leisure Books this may be one of your last opportunities to own this edition.

As a bonus, if the contest receives more than 30 entries I will add a second prize: The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction #4, which is guest edited by Skipp. This is a weird wild issue that includes stories from frequent Skipp collaborator Cody Goodfellow, D. Harlan Wilson and others.

This is a community-based fundraiser, so I’m giving you one more way to increase your odds of winning. Anyone who copys and pastes the message below into their twitter will receive one additional entry:

Support smart indie horror! #zombiemusical #rose3d http://kck.st/fTth0y

One last thing, Kickstarter will only charge your credit card if the production team raise all the funds by Feb 24th. But, you will be eligible to win my contest regardless of the team reaching their goal or not. You, literally, have nothing to lose.

If you’ve already pledged just comment below and you’ll be entered. Spread the word!

One Last Hooray for Hollywood: "The Day Before"


John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow’s novella The Day Before is notable not only for how many genres it touches on (Sci-fi, horror, showbiz satire, Mad Max-style actioner) but also how many emotions it packs into it’s modest page count.

The story concerns a group of Hollywood insiders that are pushed out of their makeshift sanctuary on Catalina Island. Our writer/director protagonist is convinced by a manipulative super-producer(a thinly veiled Harvey Weinstein caricature) to rove across the post-apocalyptic wasteland to make one final blockbuster. It seems impossible that a book with this outlandish a premise could so articulately represent two author’s complex love/hate relationships with Tinsel-Town, but it does just that.

Skipp and Goodfellow know movies. This may seem like an odd requirement for fiction but it’s not only very apparent upon reading it’s also integral to the book’s success. They pack their cast with archetypes only film fans would catch as archetypes: the ultra-professional Russian Cinematographer, the director-jail auteur, the successful hack, the alcoholic “method” actor. They’re all nicely drawn and surprising in the way that they adapt (or don’t) to the end of the world.

The authors could have easily turned the book into a damning but playful indictment of the film industry. Instead they opt to approach the subject matter with enough wit and a wider scope that moves it out of the realm of straight-up satire and into soulful, but critical, fiction.

At 150 pages The Day Before is readable in one joyous, extended sitting. Smart in ways that so few genre novels allow themselves to be: highly recommended. Available in paperback from Bad Moon Books.