Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

From now until Friday, October 14, you can get my supernatural occult horror novels Devil’s Nightmare and Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions, for only 99 cents each! Just in time for some creepy Halloween reading! All you need is an Amazon account and a Kindle. Heck, you don’t even need a Kindle, because Amazon has nifty apps you can download on your iPad, iPhone, or whatever device you use to read e-books.

Below are descriptions of the first two books in the Devil’s Nightmare series with universal links to download each of them from Amazon.

Devil’s Nightmare (Book 1)

Veteran homicide detective Aaron Sanders thought he’d seen it all, but nothing could have prepared the seasoned detective for the mutilated remains of a kid’s parents or the equally vicious deaths of three boys at another crime scene. As Aaron works to solve the cases and protect his only witness, an orphaned child, he learns of an ancient curse that leaves him questioning all he’s ever believed. Now, to save himself and the child, Aaron must confront his own inner demons, and some he never knew existed. But if he does, will he make it out alive?

Devil’s Nightmare is an occult suspense horror novel by Robert Pruneda, who shakes readers with his visually graphic scenes, supernatural twists, and disturbing settings in this first installment of the Devil’s Nightmare series

Get it for $0.99 on Amazon

Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions (Book 2)

Sequel to the bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare, Robert Pruneda brings readers another horrific thriller full of twists, chills, and a shocking conclusion. Two years have passed since Aaron Sanders retired from the Austin Police Department after what the media has labeled The Saint Hedwig Massacre. He moves his family out of the capital city to start a new life as a small town cop in Lost Maples, Texas, where he is once again caught in the middle of a mysterious investigation that has an eerie familiarity. This time, however, something even more sinister is responsible for the violent deaths. Evil knows no boundaries, and it is up to Aaron to figure out how to protect the residents of his community, and his family, from becoming its next victims

Get it for $0.99 on Amazon

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Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

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Creature of Maple Hills (eBook jpg)A novella from author of the best-selling supernatural occult horror novel, Devil’s Nightmare

Parents always tell their children that there are no such things as monsters. They’re only a figment of imagination caused by watching too many horror movies late at night. But what if they were wrong? What if the monsters were real? What if the creature that neighbor kid teased you about really was lurking in the woods behind your home?

On October 31, 1987, one family finds out exactly what it means to believe in monsters. Sometimes the news headlines don’t tell the real story.

Now available worldwide for Kindle and Kindle reading apps:

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Excerpt from Creature of Maple Hills

The wind was gusty when Brayden stepped out to the back yard. The temperature had also dropped several degrees in the past couple of hours. It felt colder than usual for a late October night in central Texas, but it still wasn’t cold enough to light up the fireplace. It could be sixty degrees outside and his mother would want to fire that thing up, a product of being cold-natured. But if the warm-natured family members didn’t make it nice and toasty inside for her, they’d all suffer from the complaints. At least a fireplace kept her from jacking up the heat on the thermostat.

“Hey, dummy,” he heard Cayden yell as he began his trek across the yard.

Brayden turned around, walking backwards. “What?

“Better take this with you.” His brother tossed him a flashlight. “Don’t want to get bitten by a snake.”

“You’re the one that’s afraid of snakes.”

“I’m not afraid of them. I just don’t like the slimy things. There’s a difference.”

“Not really. And they aren’t slimy. They just have smooth scales.”

“Slimy or not, don’t forget about that coral snake we saw in the woodpile last week.”

“I know how to handle snakes, Cayden.” He flipped the flashlight on.

“I’m just saying. If you get bit in the butt, I ain’t sucking the poison out.”

Brayden laughed. “I think I’ll be fine.”

His brother did make a good point. The snake they’d found in the woodpile was only about twelve inches long. Its small, fixed fangs would make it difficult to penetrate his skin—let alone through clothing. But Brayden also knew corals were the second most venomous snakes in the world. If it did manage to get in a lucky strike, it could mean very bad news for him. He wasn’t taking any chances.

He checked the woodpile for snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, or any other critters that his mother—or Cayden—would freak out about if they made it inside the house. Other than a few toads and a couple of small cockroaches, the coast was clear. Before carrying any logs inside, he rolled them around on the ground a few times, shining the light on them. He didn’t want to end up with a roach scurrying down his shirt. Venomous snakes and tarantulas he had no problem with. But cockroaches? Nuh-uh! No thank you. Those nasty things gave him the heebie-jeebies. That last tale in Creepshow sure as heck didn’t help the matter, either. Blah!

The first two logs were clear of any of Stephen King’s cockroaches, but while he inspected another log, something rustled from the edge of the forest nearby. Brayden spun around and shone the light in the direction the noise came from. It was more out of curiosity than fear. He loved animals and anticipated spotting a deer or maybe even a bobcat. That would be so cool! He’d never seen one out in the wild.

A couple of small trees swayed. The bushes rustled again. It couldn’t have been the wind because he’d only felt a slight breeze. Branches popped—big ones from the sound of it. Brayden squinted his eyes. He wasn’t certain, but he thought he caught a glimpse of something just inside the tree line. His eyes widened when something big moved within the shadows of the forest. More branches cracked as it moved. Brayden aimed the beam of light ahead of where he saw the movement. The light reflected off a set of eyes several feet above the ground. They blinked and then he heard a low growl and more twigs and branches snapping. It was moving toward him!

Brayden stepped backwards, tripping over one of the logs. He heard a loud snap and a roar that sounded like a lion. He screamed and sprinted towards the house, leaving the firewood behind. Without looking back, he rushed inside and locked the sliding glass door. His heart pounded in his chest, his breathing labored.

“What the heck?” his twin brother said. “You look like you just saw a ghost.”

Brayden switched off the porch light and yanked on the cord to close the vertical blinds. He peeked through them expecting to see a cougar in the backyard. That in itself would have been a rare and exciting sight, at least from the safety of inside the house. He didn’t see a cougar or any other animal in the darkness. Something was out there, though.

Cayden grabbed his shoulder, making his body jump. “Dude, what’s got you on edge? A bunch of raccoons chase you inside or something?” Cayden pulled the blinds aside. “Or maybe it’s the Creature of Maple Hills. Whoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo!” He lifted his hands and twitched his fingers at his brother while he voiced his bad ghost impression.

Brayden didn’t say anything. He just swallowed and gazed at his brother.

“Oh, give it a rest, Cayden,” their father said. The brothers turned around. “Dinner’s almost ready, so—hey, didn’t your mother ask you to get some firewood?”

Brayden nodded.

And? Go get it.”

“He did go out,” Cayden said. “But, chicken shit is too scared of the—”

“Hey! Watch your language, boy,” Brandon said, pointing at Cayden. He then repeated for Brayden to get the firewood.

He shook his head in a rapid tremor. “I’m not going back out there.”

“Why the hell not?”

“I think I heard a cougar . . . or something.”

Cayden laughed. “Oh, please. There’re no mountain lions in Austin.” He snatched the flashlight off the mantel. “I’ll do it.”

“No!” Brayden grabbed his brother’s arm. “Don’t go out there.”

“Dude, let go of my arm.” He pulled away from his brother’s grip and unlocked the patio door.

“I mean it, Cayden. There’s something out there. I saw it. It sounded big.”

Cayden rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You’re pathetic, you know that? I swear we didn’t come from the same sperm.”

“Watch it, Cayden,” his father warned.

“Sorry, Dad.” He glanced at Brayden and shook his head before heading outside.

“I’m not kidding,” Brayden said. “Don’t go out there.”

Cayden ignored the warning and hiked across the large back yard. Brayden pushed the blinds aside and watched his brother trek into the darkness.

* * *

Did you enjoy the excerpt? Download the full story to your Kindle reader here (FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers):

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Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

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Join Sharky’s VIP newsletter for access to exclusive giveaways, updates on new releases, and other goodies! You’ll also receive a gift just for signing up (Hint: It has something to do with this post). Click on the image below (or CLICK HERE) and a link to claim your gift will magically appear in your inbox.

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My favorite holiday of the year (Halloween, of course!) is fast approaching, which also means it’s time for another awesome giveaway for newsletter subscribers. This year I’ve partnered with four super-talented authors in the horror, science fiction, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, and thriller genres. In addition to my own work, I’m very excited to announce that Duncan Ralston, Thomas S. Flowers, AJ Powers, and Michael R. Hicks have graciously donated signed and e-book copies of some of their books for prizes. The only catch is that you sign up for our newsletters (current subscribers to my newsletter can also enter for a chance to win), but don’t worry, we don’t bombard our readers with a bunch of spam. Scroll down the page for more information.

On October 31, one lucky reader is going to walk away with two e-books, eight autographed paperbacks, and a $10 Amazon US gift card. Two of you will receive six e-books, and five of you will receive your choice of one free e-book to add to your digital reading library.

As an added bonus, all newsletter subscribers are entitled to a free e-book copy of my horror novella Creature of Maple Hills. You’ll get this one in an email within 24-48 hours of entering. As a hook, Michael Hicks is also giving away an e-book copy of the first book in his international best-selling Harvest trilogy, Season of the Harvest, and In Her Name series, First Contact. You can get them both free RIGHT HERE.

Here’s the list of all the goodies up for grabs in this year’s Halloween Mega Giveaway. To enter for your chance to win, just fill out the form at the bottom of this post. I’ll announce the winners here and in my newsletter on Halloween night.

GRAND PRIZE (1):

  • Signed paperback copy of Devil’s Nightmare (Devil’s Nightmare, Book 1) by Robert Pruneda
  • Signed paperback copy of Premonitions (Devil’s Nightmare, Book 2) by Robert Pruneda
  • Signed paperback copy of Reinheit by Thomas S. Flowers
  • Signed paperback copy of Dwelling (Subdue, Book 1) by Thomas S. Flowers
  • Signed paperback copy of Season of the Harvest (Harvest Trilogy, Book 1) by Michael R. Hicks
  • Signed paperback copy of Gristle & Bone by Duncan Ralston
  • Signed paperback copy of Salvage by Duncan Ralston
  • Signed paperback copy of As the Ash Fell by AJ Powers
  • eBook copy of The Journal of Avery Moore by Michael R. Hicks
  • eBook copy of The Black Gate by Michael R. Hicks
  • $10 Amazon US gift card

Update (9/10/16): Due to high international shipping costs, physical books will ship to USA and Canada addresses only. Exception: Since this wasn’t clarified in the original post, if you signed up before Sept. 10, 2016 and are overseas, you are still eligible to receive the signed copies (or you can have them sent to an address in the USA or Canada). I apologize for the misunderstanding, and thanks to “Galaxy Curse” for asking about this in the comments. 🙂

Winner will also have the option to receive e-books instead of paperbacks, if that is their preferred format.

SECOND PRIZE (2):

  • eBook copy of Salvage by Duncan Ralston
  • eBook copy of Reinheit by Thomas S. Flowers
  • eBook copy of The Black Gate by Michael R. Hicks
  • eBook copy of As the Ash Fell by AJ Powers
  • eBook copy of Devil’s Nightmare by Robert Pruneda
  • eBook copy Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions by Robert Pruneda

 

THIRD PRIZE (5):

  • Your choice of one e-book from participating authors in this giveaway. 

 

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For your chance to win, fill out the form below to enter the giveaway. Please note, current subscribers to my newsletter can also enter this giveaway, so please be sure to enter below if you already receive my newsletter. More information about the authors and the books included in this giveaway are included below the form. The deadline to enter is Saturday, October 29, at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) Good luck!

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Featured Image -- 6213Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Michael HicksBorn in 1963, Michael Hicks grew up in the age of the Apollo program and spent his youth glued to the television watching the original Star Trek series and other science fiction movies, which continue to be a source of entertainment and inspiration. Having spent the majority of his life as a voracious reader, he has been heavily influenced by writers ranging from Robert Heinlein to Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven, and David Weber to S.M. Stirling. Now living in Florida with his beautiful wife, two wonderful stepsons and two mischievous Siberian cats, he lives his dream of writing full-time and spends as much time on the road in the family RV as possible…when he’s not at the beach!

AJ Powers

AJ Powers is a professional game developer working on some of the biggest franchises in the game world–Halo, Call of Duty, and Borderlands to name a few. However, once he leaves the fluorescent pit of polygons and PBR materials, he switches gears into a reading, writing monster fueled by caffeine and ideas that won’t stop pestering him. His first full-length novel, As the Ash Fell, released in May of 2015 and has become a best seller in both the US and the UK.

In addition to writing, AJ also does his own cover art, as well as covers for various other indie authors.

AJ resides in Ohio with his beautiful wife, Lia, and their two incredible children. They also have a dog that really could use some braces.

Thomas Flowers Profile PicThomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, both Dwelling and Emerging and Conceiving (coming soon), are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics.

Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto and spent his teens in small-town Ontario. As a “grownup,” Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes dark fiction about the things that frighten, sicken, and delight him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in GRISTLE & BONE, the anthologies EASTER EGGS & BUNNY BOILERS, WHAT GOES AROUND, DEATH BY CHOCOLATE, FLASH FEAR, and the charity anthologies BURGER VAN and THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS Vol. 1, he is the author of the novel, SALVAGE, and the novellas EVERY PART OF THE ANIMAL and WOOM, an extreme horror Black Cover book from Matt Shaw Publications. He is one-third of the horror podcast Screen Kings, dedicated to dissecting Stephen King movies and miniseries.

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ABOUT THE BOOKS

Devils Nightmare

Veteran homicide detective Aaron Sanders thought he’d seen it all, but nothing could have prepared the seasoned detective for the mutilated remains of a kid’s parents or the equally vicious deaths of three boys at another crime scene. As Aaron works to solve the cases and protect his only witness, an orphaned child, he learns of an ancient curse that leaves him questioning all he’s ever believed. Now, to save himself and the child, Aaron must confront his own inner demons, and some he never knew existed. But if he does, will he make it out alive?

Devil’s Nightmare is an occult suspense horror novel by Robert Pruneda, who shakes readers with his visually graphic scenes, supernatural twists, and disturbing settings in this first installment of the Devil’s Nightmare series.

BUY THIS BOOK

PremonitionsEbook

Sequel to the bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare, Robert Pruneda brings readers another horrific thriller full of twists, chills, and a shocking conclusion. Two years have passed since Aaron Sanders retired from the Austin Police Department after what the media has labeled The Saint Hedwig Massacre. He moves his family out of the capital city to start a new life as a small town cop in Lost Maples, Texas, where he is once again caught in the middle of a mysterious investigation that has an eerie familiarity. This time, however, something even more sinister is responsible for the violent deaths. Evil knows no boundaries, and it is up to Aaron to figure out how to protect the residents of his community, and his family, from becoming its next victims

BUY THIS BOOK.

Creature of Maple Hills (eBook jpg)

A novella from author of the best-selling supernatural occult horror novel, Devil’s Nightmare…

Parents always tell their children that there are no such things as monsters. They try to convince them that it’s only a figment of their imaginations. But what if the adults are wrong? What if some monsters were real but just stayed hidden away from civilization? What if the creature that neighbor kid teased you about really was lurking in the woods behind your home?

On October 31, 1987, one family finds out exactly what it means to believe in monsters. And sometimes the news headlines don’t tell the real story

BUY THIS BOOK

harvest-cover-full2-800-259x400

If you’ve enjoyed stories by James Rollins, Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, get ready to strap yourself in for a roller coaster ride of terror as you learn that you truly are what you eat…

At a genetics lab where a revolutionary strain of wonder food crops is being developed, FBI Special Agent Jack Dawson’s best friend and fellow agent, Sheldon Crane, is brutally murdered. The killer was looking for very special seeds that Jack’s friend had taken from the lab, and tore his body apart trying to find them…

Jack is convinced that Naomi Perrault, the beautiful geneticist who leads a group of suspected eco-terrorists, is behind the murder. But when FBI agents who aren’t quite who they claim to be show up on Jack’s doorstep after a bomb devastates the FBI lab in Quantico, destroying the evidence from his friend’s murder, Naomi becomes Jack’s only hope of survival.

Framed for murder and confronted by the terrifying truth of what the genetically engineered seeds stolen by his friend are truly for, Jack joins Naomi in a desperate battle across half the globe to save humanity from extermination…

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black-gate-cover-800h-375x600

It is early 1945 and Nazi Germany, reeling under the relentless onslaught of the Allied armies, looks to futuristic superweapons like jet fighters, V-1 buzz bombs, and V-2 rockets for its salvation. But Peter Miller, an analyst at the headquarters of the Office of Strategic Services in Washington D.C., learns of a secret Nazi weapons project that may pose a far greater threat: the Black Gate…

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Avery-Moore-Cover-800h-389x600

Avery Moore is rushed to the hospital with a suspected case of appendicitis. But when he awakens after his procedure, he finds himself in a small white room, strapped to a table and his lips sewn shut. Then he discovers that his nightmare has only just begun…

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first-contact-no-number-800h-386x600

Young Midshipman Ichiro Sato joined the Terran Navy to escape a tyrannical father and find freedom among the stars. He had no idea when he boarded the survey starship Aurora for his first assignment that he and his crew would make humanity’s first contact with a sentient alien species. Little did he know that this fateful encounter would trigger a catastrophic galactic war…

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AtAF_Cover_Kindle

Life in the frozen wastelands of Texas is anything but easy, but for Clay Whitaker there is always more at stake than mere survival.

Yellowstone, along with two other Super Volcanoes, exploded with a tremendous fury following months of heightened seismic activity worldwide. The devastating eruptions released unmeasurable quantities of ash into the atmosphere. Coastlines were changed. New canyons were formed. Temperatures plummeted, dragging economies down, too. With no real way to sustain order, governments around the world began to fold, societies collapsed.

It’s been seven years since the ash rained down from the sky. Populations are thinning. Food is scarce. Despair overwhelming. Clay and his sister Megan have taken a handful of orphaned children into their home—a home soaring 16 stories into the sky. Providing for his adopted family is a 24/7 job for Clay. And with roughly six short months a year to gather enough food and supplies to last the long, brutal winter, Clay is forced to spend much of his time away from home—scavenging, hunting, and bartering.

Despite the vicious, unforgiving world he lives in, Clay has grown accustomed to his new life. That is, until he meets Kelsey Lambert.

Now, with winter rolling in earlier than ever, Clay must swiftly adapt to the changes in his life to ensure the safety of those he cares about.

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Reinheit

Rebecca Moss never questioned the purchase of the strange seductive armchair. She wanted to please Frank. But the armchair has a dark purpose. Nazi officer Major Eric Schröder believed fervently in Hitler’s vision of purity. Now the chair has passed to Frank, an abusive thug who has his own twisted understanding of patriotism. There are those who want to destroy the armchair, to end its curse. But can the armchair be stopped before it completes its work?

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Dwelling FRONT

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war…

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away…

Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity.

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse…

Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield…

While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them.

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?

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Salvage

Something is Lurking Under the Lake…

Struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of his sister, Owen Saddler becomes obsessed with the lake that claimed her life. The remains of a forgotten town rest at the bottom of that dark body of water — along with a host of buried secrets…

Thirty years earlier, the town of Peace Falls had been flooded to build a hydroelectric dam, and its ruins remain below the surface of Chapel Lake. The strange disappearance of the town Pastor, along with many of the parishioners, still haunts the citizens of Chapel Lake. But does the church haunt the lake itself? Is Owen really seeing ghosts… or has he descended into the depths of madness?

SALVAGE is the debut horror novel of author Duncan Ralston (GRISTLE & BONE). A disturbing story of depression, religious fanaticism, and the afterlife, SALVAGE seeks to illuminate the darkness within us all

BUY THIS BOOK.

Gristle & Bone Cover

7 Delectable Tales of Terror

Short and novella-length fiction from the twisted imagination of Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage. Including a new Introduction from Chris Hall of DLS REVIEWS!

Monsters lurk among us. Cannibals. Werewolves. Artificial-Intelligence. The vengeful dead. Some want to harm us. Some, to help. Others seek to enslave us. Whatever their motives, we can’t ignore them any longer. They are in our businesses. Our homes. They are our neighbors and families. They are us.

BUY THIS BOOK

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For your chance to win, fill out the form below to enter the giveaway. Please note, current subscribers to my newsletter can also enter this giveaway, so please be sure to enter below if you already receive my newsletter. Deadline to enter is Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT). Good luck!

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Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Stalk Sharky on Facebook  Stalk Sharky on Twitter  Stalk Sharky on Google Plus  Stalk Sharky on Klout  Stalk Sharky on Goodreads  Watch Videos Posted by Sharky  Pinterest_Badge_Red  BB_Logo    Amazon.com-Logo.svg

Devil's Nightmare Summer Promo

Have I got a deal for you! From now until Friday, July 15, you can get my bestselling supernatural occult horror novel Devil’s Nightmare for FREE! That’s right, zilch, nada, zippo, gratis! But wait, there’s more! (Am I sounding like a late-night infomercial yet?) You can also get the sequel, Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions, for only 99 cents! All you need is an Amazon account and a Kindle. Heck, you don’t even need a Kindle, because Amazon has nifty apps you can download on your iPad, iPhone, or whatever device you use to read e-books.

Below are descriptions of the first two books in the Devil’s Nightmare series with universal links to download each of them from Amazon.

Devil’s Nightmare (Book 1)

Veteran homicide detective Aaron Sanders thought he’d seen it all, but nothing could have prepared the seasoned detective for the mutilated remains of a kid’s parents or the equally vicious deaths of three boys at another crime scene. As Aaron works to solve the cases and protect his only witness, an orphaned child, he learns of an ancient curse that leaves him questioning all he’s ever believed. Now, to save himself and the child, Aaron must confront his own inner demons, and some he never knew existed. But if he does, will he make it out alive?

Devil’s Nightmare is an occult suspense horror novel by Robert Pruneda, who shakes readers with his visually graphic scenes, supernatural twists, and disturbing settings in this first installment of the Devil’s Nightmare series

Get it FREE on Amazon

Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions (Book 2)

Sequel to the bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare, Robert Pruneda brings readers another horrific thriller full of twists, chills, and a shocking conclusion. Two years have passed since Aaron Sanders retired from the Austin Police Department after what the media has labeled The Saint Hedwig Massacre. He moves his family out of the capital city to start a new life as a small town cop in Lost Maples, Texas, where he is once again caught in the middle of a mysterious investigation that has an eerie familiarity. This time, however, something even more sinister is responsible for the violent deaths. Evil knows no boundaries, and it is up to Aaron to figure out how to protect the residents of his community, and his family, from becoming its next victims

Get it for $0.99 on Amazon

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Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

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On Friday afternoon, April 29, 2016 hundreds of authors, editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and book managers received disheartening news that their publisher Booktrope is going out of business. Booktrope is a hybrid publisher that gave new and seasoned authors an alternative to traditional publishing and an innovative option to launch their books without the upfront costs of independent publishing (editing, proofreading, formatting, and cover design). The creative people involved in the process of publishing the books were all freelancers. Instead of getting paid a flat fee, creative team members would get a percentage of royalties. It certainly wasn’t for everyone, but it worked for a lot authors and freelancers. At least for a while. Things began to fall apart over the past year or so as the company attempted to grow and innovate. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great idea, but sadly, it just didn’t work.

My history with Booktrope

A friend of mine was on the staff and had tried to persuade me to relaunch my Amazon best-selling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare with Booktrope a couple of years ago. It was tempting, because my first edition wasn’t professionally edited, but it was still selling well. Long story short, in December, 2014, I decided to take the offer and publish both Devil’s Nightmare novels with Booktrope under their Forsaken horror imprint. I wasn’t thrilled about giving up a chunk of my royalty share, but my books needed professional editing and I couldn’t afford the upfront costs.

After putting together my team, I spent the next six months getting Devil’s Nightmare edited, proofread, new cover designed, laid out, and re-published under Booktrope’s Forsaken horror imprint. After seeing the final product, I knew I had made the right decision. Devil’s Nightmare is much better now. We relaunched it on July 6, 2015 and then relaunched the sequel Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions on February 16, 2015. While the process took longer than I had hoped, it was worth it… until rumors started spreading that Booktrope wasn’t doing well and struggling to stay afloat.

Signs of impending closure

About six months ago, my friend who “recruited” me left the company. He was professional about it and never told me specifically why he left, but I had my suspicions. A number of editors, cover designers, and authors had also jumped ship over the past several months. The company started making changes that I thought were positive, and just recently had gotten Devil’s Nightmare and several other Sci-Fi and Horror authors’ books in a Humble Bundle promotion giving us a lot of new potential readers. Nearly 7,000 bundles were sold in March. And then BookBub (a very popular promotional book club) selected Devil’s Nightmare to be featured in their May 3 newsletter. Things were looking great! Then I got the news that Booktrope was officially going out of business.

A message from Booktrope:

We are deeply saddened to report Booktrope is ceasing business effective May 31, 2016. We are not accepting submissions and production is complete.

Booktrope has helped hundreds of authors get over 4 million copies of their books into the hands of readers. We are proud our creative teams have produced almost 1000 books using our platform. Thank you to all readers, authors, investors, partners, and creative team members who were a part of this journey with us.

Booktrope plans to de-list every book published by them on May 31, which means I will need to re-publish Devil’s Nightmare and Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions once again. This couldn’t have come at a worse time… right as I’m about to launch a big promotion. Needless to say, I’m a bit frustrated.

Moving forward

I don’t regret my decision to publish with Booktrope because of the friendships I’ve made with staff members and fellow authors. I’ve also learned a few things about the publishing industry. But most importantly, I think I’ve learned that I’m an “indie” at heart. So, I’m not going to let this temporary obstacle knock me down. I started my writing career as an indie author and I’ve decided to continue down that path. This has created some unexpected work for me and will delay a couple of projects, but I’m okay with that. It’s just part of this unpredictable business.

Stay tuned for what comes next as I transition back to self-publishing. For those of you who have purchased my books, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude. One door is shutting, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my dreams. I promise to continue to work hard to bring you more stories for years to come. I may also have some really exciting news in the near future. I just can’t say anything, because nothing is official yet. How’s that for a cliffhanger? 🙂

Cheers!

Sharky Teeth

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Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

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april fools post 2

Today, it’s my pleasure to hand over the keys to my friends and fellow authors Sheri Williams and P Mattern to tell you about a special April Fools Day promotion…

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The trees are after you! No wait, not really, don’t run away scared!

Hey there! Are you a fan of April Fools? Like the jokes? Well this in NO JOKE! This April Fools, two spectacular female horror writers are giving you a super non-scary deal. Buy Sheri Williams’ Gothic horror, Forest of Blood (which is on sale for 99 cents) and receive a free copy of P Mattern’s The Forest of Bleeding Trees.

All you need to do is swing by Sheri Williams’ author page HERE and show proof of receipt for Forest of Blood and you can claim your FREE copy of The Forest of Bleeding Trees! It’s an April Fools BOGO!!

Bloody trees April Fools Promo

Sharky Teeth

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Profile Photo (Cropped)

Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Stalk Sharky on Facebook  Stalk Sharky on Twitter  Stalk Sharky on Google Plus  Stalk Sharky on Klout  Stalk Sharky on Goodreads  Watch Videos Posted by Sharky  Pinterest_Badge_Red  BB_Logo

The Humble Book Bundle that launched a couple of weeks ago is ending very soon… Tuesday, March 29, to be exact. The is the last chance to get $120 worth of science fiction and thriller books for an insanely low price. You get to choose the price and decide how the funds are allocated. There are three tiers that unlock different books, but it only takes $15 to get all 24 books in the bundle. Pay what you want. It’s your choice. Here is a list of all the books included in this rare and epic Humble Book Bundle:

“Devils Nightmare” by Robert Pruneda

“Salvage” by Duncan Ralston

“Gristle and Bone” by Duncan Ralston

“Willing Servants” by Eric Turowski

“Trigger” by Jill Meengs

“Destroyer of Worlds” by Dennis Sharpe

“Wednesday” by Dennis Sharpe

“The Reaper’s Daughter” by KM Randall

“Organ Reapers” by Shay West

“Cathedral of Dreams” by Terry Persun

“A Beginners Guide to Invading Earth” by Gerhard Gerhke

“The Girls Guide to the Apocolypse” by Daphne Lamb

“Daimones” by Massimo Marino

“Once Humans” by Massimo Marino

“Shadow in the Flames” by Michael Munz

“Paradise Rot” by Larry Weiner

“Sugar Scars” by Travis Norwood

“Letter From Hell” by H.Lee Mendelson

“Parallel Extinction” by T.R. Stevens

“Awakening” by Samantha Long

“Mission Veritas” by John Murphy

“Reinheit” by Thomas S. Flowers

“Omni” by Andrea Murray

“Life After the Undead” by Pembroke Sinclair

So, why are we offering all of these books at such a ridiculously low price? We want to introduce you to some talented authors you may not have heard of before and raise money for charity at the same time. To take advantage of this awesome deal CLICK HERE, and please share with your friends and family. I’ve included simple links below:

Share on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Share on Google +

Share via Email

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $150.00 Amazon gift card!

Get them all for yourself or choose the gifting option to hook up a friend or family member to fill up their e-book reading device! Enjoy!

Sharky Teeth

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Profile Photo (Cropped)

Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Stalk Sharky on Facebook  Stalk Sharky on Twitter  Stalk Sharky on Google Plus  Stalk Sharky on Klout  Stalk Sharky on Goodreads  Watch Videos Posted by Sharky  Pinterest_Badge_Red  BB_Logo

Humble Bundle Graphic

I’m excited to announce my publisher’s very first Humble Book Bundle that launched on Wednesday and is running for two weeks. My horror novel, Devil’s Nightmare, along with 23 other titles are available together in a special bundle worth over $120 if purchased separately. The cool thing is that a portion of the proceeds go to charity and you get to name the price. There are three tiers that unlock different books, but it only takes $15 to get all 24 books in the bundle. Pay what you want. It’s your choice. Here is a list of all the books included in this rare and epic Humble Book Bundle:

“Devils Nightmare” by Robert Pruneda

“Salvage” by Duncan Ralston

“Gristle and Bone” by Duncan Ralston

“Willing Servants” by Eric Turowski

“Trigger” by Jill Meengs

“Destroyer of Worlds” by Dennis Sharpe

“Wednesday” by Dennis Sharpe

“The Reaper’s Daughter” by KM Randall

“Organ Reapers” by Shay West

“Cathedral of Dreams” by Terry Persun

“A Beginners Guide to Invading Earth” by Gerhard Gerhke

“The Girls Guide to the Apocolypse” by Daphne Lamb

“Daimones” by Massimo Marino

“Once Humans” by Massimo Marino

“Shadow in the Flames” by Michael Munz

“Paradise Rot” by Larry Weiner

“Sugar Scars” by Travis Norwood

“Letter From Hell” by H.Lee Mendelson

“Parallel Extinction” by T.R. Stevens

“Awakening” by Samantha Long

“Mission Veritas” by John Murphy

“Reinheit” by Thomas S. Flowers

“Omni” by Andrea Murray

“Life After the Undead” by Pembroke Sinclair

So, why are we offering all of these books at such a ridiculously low price? We want to introduce you to some talented authors you may not have heard of before and raise money for charity at the same time. To take advantage of this awesome deal CLICK HERE, and please share with your friends and family. I’ve included simple links below:

Share on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Share on Google +

Share via Email

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $150.00 Amazon gift card!

Get them all for yourself or choose the gifting option to hook up a friend or family member to fill up their e-book reading device! Enjoy!

Sharky Teeth

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Profile Photo (Cropped)

Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Stalk Sharky on Facebook  Stalk Sharky on Twitter  Stalk Sharky on Google Plus  Stalk Sharky on Klout  Stalk Sharky on Goodreads  Watch Videos Posted by Sharky  Pinterest_Badge_Red  BB_Logo

Welcome to Chumming with Sharky™, my blog series where I treat viewers from every corner of the deep blue sea with a taste of talented authors from a myriad of genres. This month, it is my pleasure to welcome Kim Alexander, author of The Demon Door fantasy series. So, naturally, the theme for this episode is the fantasy genre. Kim even made us some snacks, so grab a tasty plate of sardines on saltines–they’re delicious and they rhyme! At the end of the interview, we’ll let you know how you can win a signed copy of The Sand Prince. Until then, grab your snack, find a comfy reclining seat, and enjoy the show . . . CLICK OR TAP HERE for the interview.

Chumming with Sharky™

Kim Alexander

with your host Robert “Sharky” Pruneda

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I’d like to welcome back fellow horror author and friend Thomas S. Flowers for a special guest post about the unusual inspiration he received from the Tod Browning classic Freaks. Then stick around to check for an excerpt of Thomas’s latest release Dwelling, which is now available to purchase on Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

Thomas Flowers Author Banner

One of the best parts of Tod Browning’s feast of film, Freaks, is the intro. Here’s a sample of what you’ll see as the opening credits roll.

Before proceeding with the showing of the following HIGHLY UNUSUAL ATTRACTION, a few words should be said about the amazing subject matter. BELIEVE IT OR NOT – – – – STRANGE AS IT SEEMS. In ancient times anything that deviated from the normal was considered an omen of ill luck or representative of evil. Gods of misfortune and adversity were invariable cast in the form of monstrosities, and deeds of injustice and hardship have been attributed to the many crippled and deformed tyrants of Europe and Asia. HISTORY, RELIGION, FOLKLORE AND LITERATURE abound in tales of misshapen misfits who have altered the world’s course. GOLIATH, CALABAN, FRANKENSTEIN, GLOUCESTER, TOM THUMB AND KAISER WILHELM are just a few, whose fame is worldwide. The accident of abnormal birth was considered a disgrace and malformed children were placed out in the elements to die. If, perchance, one of these freaks of nature survived, he was always regarded with suspicion. Society shunned him because of his deformity, and a family so hampered was always ashamed of the curse put upon it. Occasionally, one of these unfortunates was takes to court to be jeered at or ridiculed for the amusement of the nobles. Others were left to eke out a living by begging, stealing or starving. For the love of beauty is a deep seated urge which dates back to the beginning of civilization. The revulsion with which we view the abnormal, the malformed and the mutilated is the result of long conditioning by our forefathers. The majority of freaks, themselves, are endowed with normal thoughts and emotions. Their lot is truly a heart-breaking one. They are forced into the most unnatural of lives. Therefore, they have built up among themselves a code of ethics to protect them from the barbs of normal people. Their rules are rigidly adhered to and the hurt of one is the hurt of all; the joy of one is the joy of all. The story about to be revealed is a story based on the effect of this code upon their lives. Never again will such a story be filmed, as modern science and teratology is rapidly eliminating such blunders of nature from the world. With humility for the many injustices done to such a people, (they have no power to control their lot) we present the most startling horror story of the ABNORMAL and THE UNWANTED.”

What a powerful message, right? We are forewarned with a somewhat strange historical account for the philosophical reasons for the most traditional accounts of ethnocentrism. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s presentation of Tod Browning’s production of Freaks follows one of the most classic idealizations and horror film motifs, the carnival. According to film historian David Skal, Tod Browning first became enthralled with the carnival when he was sixteen years old, “infatuated with a dancer, a so-called sideshow queen in the Manhattan Fair & Carnival Company” (The Monster Show, pg. 28). The unusual attraction to the carnival for those in my generation is probably best seen through the eyes of Ray Bradbury in his epic novel, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Dark images of Ferris wheels silhouetted against dark skies. The circus, as far back as I can recall, has always been a place of strange attraction. We do not venture to the circus to see the mundane, after all. In the history of cinema, film began very in much the same way, as a sideshow vaudeville.

313px-FreaksPosterFreaks takes us through a doomed tale of a trapeze artist named Cleopatra (performed by the ever talented and beautiful Olga Baclanova) who discovers that a circus midget by the name of Hans (Harry Earles) has a sizable inheritance. She knows Hans is in love with her and decides to marry the lovesick performer, all the while concocting a dubious plan to murder him and steal his fortune, running off with her lover, a dim-witted strong man by the name of Hercules (Henry Victor). But everything is not as it seems. Cleopatra is openly disdain towards Hans’ fellow freaks. And when Hans’ friends discover what is going on, they band together and carry out a brutal revenge that leaves both Hercules and Cleopatra knowing what it truly means to be a so-called “freak.” One of the greatest and most historic scenes, I thought, was at the end, during a torrential downpour as both Hercules and Cleopatra are attempting to flee from their would-be assassins. Hercules is caught under one of the wagons and as we watch with him, the freaks, knifes drawn, close in on him. Witnessing these mutilated forms drawing near, crawling through the mud, has always given me this sense of dread one hopes to find in movies such as these. Cleopatra’s fate is probably the most heinous albeit deserving (SPOILERS) when they mutilate her so badly she herself transforms from something of admired beauty to just another disdained sideshow attraction. When we first looked upon her, we swooned with love, and now as the film closes, we can’t help but scream!

There is little doubt that it was Tod Browning’s directorial success with Dracula (1931) which allowed him to work on what many have considered his masterpiece. This is my personal opinion, of course, but I think it is more accurate to say that Freaks was more of a passion project, considering his own past experiences working the sideshow as a geek up and down the Mississippi River. What I find most interesting about Freaks is the time period in which the film was released. Horror during the 1930’s, in my opinion, is retrospective of the decades past Great War. The maiming and grinding machines of war which ended in 1918 found its way into the picture shows of this era, in movies such as Freaks (1932) and even Frankenstein (1931) we find a representation of the mutilated shell-shocked forms of returning soldiers. One need only to look at Lon Chaney’s career to see what his custom-made effects were geared to symbolize, the monster. If this was an intentional use of symbolism is debatable, but nonetheless, especially in the 1920’s-1930’s, it was a familiar image in cinema. Even here in our own age we find the same symbolic gestures. Consider the last season of American Horror Story, subtitled: Freak Show. The season took us to the 1950’s at the encampment of one of the last remaining freak shows struggling to survive, not just financially, but also in discovering their place in the world. Said season is juxtaposed with the (supposed) end of the Iraq War (OIF), or at least the era of the war of which so many of my own generation fought and died or worse, survived —mutilated both externally and internally. Has Tod Browning’s classic 1932 Freaks found a new lost generation, witnesses to the horrors of war and the macabre afterbirths? To each their own, I’m sure. For me, Browning’s Freaks is a marvelous trip into the strange and unusual and was the inspired subtitle chapter in my novel, Dwelling, in which protagonist Johnathan visits Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Hospital to talk at a conference with fellow wounded veterans. During his visit, he’s confronted with all these images of mutilated soldiers and servicemen. Even he has been subjugated as one of the mutilated, the amputation of one of his legs after the Battle of Al-Hurriyah. He of course is struggling with his own demons, but during the conference he’s struck with this overwhelming sense of belonging, similar some might say to the kinship of sideshow attractees. Again, we’re drawn back to the opening credits of Tod Browning’s Freaks, “They are forced into the most unnatural of lives. Therefore, they have built up among themselves a code of ethics to protect them from the barbs of normal people. Their rules are rigidly adhered to and the hurt of one is the hurt of all; the joy of one is the joy of all.”

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Dwelling FRONTDWELLING by Thomas S. Flowers
Subdue Series, Book 1
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: Dec. 8, 2015

: : : SYNOPSIS : : :

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war…

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away…

Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity.

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse…

Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield…

While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them.

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?

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: : : PURCHASE LINKS : : :

KINDLE: http://amzn.to/1lVX86K
PAPERBACK: http://amzn.to/1YFDjP5

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: : : EXCERPT : : :

(Warning: Adult Language)

Chapter One

THE BATTLE OF AL-HURRIYAH
Johnathan
Iraq, 2004

Something caught his eye. A glimmer. A shadow in the dark yellow fog.

The fuck? He reached for his binos in the turret. Across the street, Johnathan spied through the dust scratched lens vendors hastily tucking and clutching whatever goods they could get their hands on. Only the most meager of items remained on the street. Even the sound of the Humvees seemed to fade, as if the entire world was holding its breath.

What’s going on? Johnathan shook, his nerves pricked. Hairs stood on-end. His knees locked. He watched, hands resting on the M2 .50-cal. He searched for someone, anyone to put the tightening in his stomach at ease. Where are they going? Shadows snaked in between the empty spaces and seemed to grow larger. The yellow dust whipped the air. Al-Hurriyah was being consumed by it.

Johnathan could feel the lump in his heart become heavy. He pulled his scarf off. He choked on the dust, tasting all the nastiness of the Baghdad ghetto, but paid little heed. The soldier scanned his field of fire. Anticipation boiled in his veins. Then the yellow sand darkened again.

The glimmer returned, taking shape, forming in the dust. His mouth fell agape. “What the fuck is that?” He screamed inside, his mind rattled and confused and terrified.

From the alley across the road the shadows dissolved, giving form to some massive Thing with skin covered in bristle-like hair as black as tar. The bulking torso hissed, and swelled, hissed and swelled. Its thin, but otherwise muscular, fragile-looking legs twitched in the sand, protruding and stretching out, pulling down the tarps of the vender huts near it.

How many legs does this thing have? What is this? I’m dreaming, have to be. This can’t be…

In the dust-whipped wind what looked to be mandibles where its mouth should have been opened and then snapped shut. It was hissing, but the hissing sounded like clicking, the rattle of teeth in a glass jar or a snake poised to strike. On its head was an unmistakable shape, as frightening as it was. Bulging from its head, two swollen red eyes taking up nearly all of the creature’s face glared in the dust, compound, like the eye of a fly, gazing directly at him.

Its antenna drooped low, and then it began talking to him with a wild rush of clicks in its throat. The sound was terrible, reminding him of spring months back home, the swarms of cicadas that blanketed the canopy in his parents’ backyard every few years or so and the eerie sound they made, the clicking, horrible hissing, just like in that one movie Ricky loved to watch when they were kids around the same part of the year, the 1950s atomic-age science fiction flick, the one with the giant ants.

Partially hidden in the dust, the height of the hideous Thing was hard to guess, but whatever is was, it wasn’t possible. None of this was possible. It couldn’t be real, yet there it was all the same, hulking out from across the street, large and hungry looking.

“Are you seeing this?” Johnathan croaked, his voice pained with fear and doubt.

“What?” asked Ricky. He turned in his seat, looking out the driver’s side window. Searching. “I don’t see anything.”

“Are you fucking kidding me!” Johnathan yelled, panic stained in his voice. He kicked the driver’s seat.

“Dude, we’re about to dibby out. Stop being so jumpy,” Ricky scolded. “I don’t see anything, man.”

“Look, you asshole!” Johnathan kicked the driver’s seat again with his boot.

“Dude!” Smith turned fully around and peered in the direction Steele was gesturing. He fell silent for only a moment and then he yelled, “Get down!”

“We need to do more than—” Johnathan had started to say, but was cut short. He looked back to the alley where the Thing had been, but the monster was gone, replaced by a man with a shaved head shouting something terribly familiar and propping an equally terrifying object across his shoulder.
Is that?

“RPG!” Ricky screamed on the radio.

The air sucked back. Johnathan thought he was going to puke as he watched a plume of white smoke rocket toward him. The world was motionless for a second, perhaps less. In that moment he thought of Karen and Tabitha, he thought of his childhood and his friends that filled it. Then the explosion hit, lifting his Humvee upward into the air.

The large metal behemoth came crashing back to earth with a thunderous moan. He fell inside. His head smashed against the gunner’s platform below. He saw nothing, only white, burning light. Outside, he could hear the crackle of gunfire faintly against the ringing in his ears, like fireworks in a neighborhood a block away.
People were shouting. His squad mates, maybe. Language seemed beyond him at the moment. He could smell sulfur and the awful hint of something else…like overcooked meat on the grill, he imagined, dazed and numb. Through the broken window he watched the battle of Al-Hurriyah with disbelieving eyes.

Another explosion struck somewhere nearby. Pebbles or chunks of the police station perhaps rained down on his truck. The radio was abuzz with noise, fire direction, casualties. Someone yelled through the mike, “Death Blossom.” Death Blossom…? Are we under attack…? Yes…Ricky called it out, didn’t he? His head rung with the battle cry.
Johnathan shifted his weight. One of his legs fell from the strap he used as a seat, the other felt strangely dead. He looked. Among the yellow dust and stars that filled his eyes, he could see, though blurred, the gnarled remains of what was once his right leg.

“Shit!” he screamed, clinching at his thigh. I can’t look. I can’t look. Ricky. Ricky? “Smith? Ricky? Are you okay, man?” he winced, straining to get a look at his friend.

No answer.

More rattling pinged off his truck. Someone nearby yelled, “Got you, you fucking bastard!” Another voice screamed in language not entirely unfamiliar.

Must be some of the Iraqi police, he thought vaguely caring. Death Blossom…those assholes are going to ping someone in the back…

Something was pinching his neck. He reached and felt warmth and something hard. He dug whatever it was out and pulled his hand to see. He glared dumbfounded at what looked like a tooth.
Not mine, he thought, testing his teeth with his tongue. He looked at Ricky, but his form was covered in haze.

Gunfire continued to crackle outside, but in the broken and torn Humvee, the world felt like a tomb.

He could see Ricky now, lying awkwardly in his seat, one hand still clutching the radio receiver. Smoke wafted from his body. He didn’t move. And the smell…the smell was terrible.

Johnathan blinked. Not real. Not real. “Ricky, you son of a bitch, answer me! Are you okay?” he yelled. Hot adrenaline coursed through him like a drug, pooling in a venomous sundry of dreadful sorrow and hate, lumping together in his heart, stealing his breath. Maggie’s face flashed in front of him and then Karen’s, but he pushed them away.

Please, God. No.

“Ricky!”

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: : : MEET THE AUTHOR : : :

Thomas Flowers Profile PicThomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of fright. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. His first novel, Reinheit, was published by Forsaken. He also has a short story, “Lanmò,” in The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean.org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics.

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Profile Photo (Cropped)Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.

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