Purgatorium Releases! Horror Anthology Extraordinaire!

Today is the release day for the amazing anthology of Horror from ID Press called PURGATORIUM! Click on the cover below to be taken to AMAZON to get your copy of PURGATORIUM!

 

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I am thrilled to be one of the authors featured in this anthology. I have now had the opportunity to read Purgatorium from cover to cover and it was thoroughly enjoyable. You can pick it up yourself today from Amazon.

A fun fact for me, having the distinction of having the first story in the collection, is that the LOOK INSIDE feature at AMAZON gives potential purchasers a glimpse into MY story! Here’s the first page from the LOOK INSIDE feature on Amazon…

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Dubious was such a fun character to create. Doing so took me out of all of my norms. I went into a fantasy reality where everything shifted and began to appear not quite right. It’s a lot of fun to let down your hair. For me, in this instance, it was about writing something that wasn’t simple contemporary fiction. It was a challenge to bring in the magical and the surreal…but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

There are 11 stories in this anthology. All offer a slip into the dark-side…all challenge reality. All are worth the price of admission. Pick up Purgatorium today! You’ll be happy you did so.

And keep your eye on ID Press. They promise to continue to challenge the norms of genres and offer up some great reading moments for your future enjoyment…

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Back in October I did some fun Proustian Questionnaire Interviews with all of the contributors to Purgatorium. By clicking on the links below, you can read all of those interviews:

PURGATORIO DIALOGUES PART V – AMANDA TOMPKINS

PURGATORIO DIALOGUES PART IV – YVONNE HESS AND KEVIN CRAIG

PURGATORIO DIALOGUES PART III – KATE ARMS AND MEL COBER AND SAMANTHA BANIK

PURGATORIO DIALOGUES PART II – PAT FLEWWELLING AND TOBIN ELLIOTT

PURGATORIO DIALOGUES PART I – CONNIE DI PIETRO AND DALE LONG

 

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Pat, Connie, Dale, and Tobin – The Staff of ID Press and 4 people I’m happy to call friends!

 

Good luck to PURGATORIUM! Happy BOOK BIRTHDAY! And Happy Launch Day to the folks at ID PRESS!

PURCHASE PURGATORIUM IN PAPERBACK AT AMAZON .COM TODAY!

PURCHASE PURGATORIUM IN KINDLE AT AMAZON .COM TODAY!

PURCHASE PURGATORIUM AT THE CANADIAN AMAZON SITE TODAY!

OR

PURCHASE PURGATORIUM AT KOBO TODAY!

Bullies, Bullying and Bullied – The Real Bs Behind Burn Baby Burn Baby

WallpaperWhen I started writing Burn Baby Burn Baby I knew it would be a difficult journey. Not the writing part. I knew the writing would flow like water. The story had percolated in my head for a couple weeks prior to the Muskoka Novel Marathon, where I wrote the novel over the course of a long weekend. The story had wheels. I would just have to drive it home.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000 The difficult journey was going to be the revisiting of the whole bully thing. I still flinch when I remember high school. Though it’s decades in my past, I just have to turn my thoughts to it for a second to conjure those sick-in-the-belly feelings. Waking up in the morning and thinking, ‘I can’t do this again.’ I had to be out of my mind to spend an entire weekend inside that bullied mindset in order to write Francis Fripp’s story!

wrapBut I did it. I had to. We are living in a world of TELL these days. With social media, we have the dangers of cyber bullying…but we also have the tools to shed light on the bullying, to stop it. SPEAK. In my day that really wasn’t an option. We suffered our bullies in silence. We ate our lunch in the bathroom stalls. We loitered near the office when we had free time, hoping the distance from the principal’s desk created a safe enough bully-free zone.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000 I know it still exists. I know there are still people suffering at the hands of bullies. Adults and teens alike…thanks to the phenomenon of workplace bullying. But I think it’s getting better. I hope it’s getting better.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000When I set out to write Francis’s story, I purposely steered away from the clique situation. I’m too long out of high school for that. Nowadays I see teens of different cliques hanging out together. I no longer understand that social situation. I was a punkrocker in the early eighties. The lines were firmly drawn in the sand. The punks cliqued, the sportos cliqued, the rockers/skids cliqued, the preppies cliqued. If you belonged to one of these cliques, you did not talk to people from other cliques.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000For this reason, poor Francis needed to have a visually noticeable reason to attract a bully’s attention. I gave him horrendous scars courtesy of an abusive father. He became a burn victim struggling to fit in in a world where beauty has become a social epidemic. Sadly, those living with scars and handicaps do become victims of bullies. As hard as it is to fathom. Bullies look for weaknesses. Physical ones make their jobs less difficult.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000In short, I created a character who was perfectly set up to be bullied. Then I moved in for the kill. I recalled my bullies, I amalgamated them into one horrendous beast with no social graces, and I set him on Francis. Why? Because I wanted to talk about bullying. I wanted to take the reader into the mind of one who is suffering at the hands of his abuser. I certainly didn’t want to beat anyone over the head with a lesson on anti-bullying. I just wanted to tell a story…and I hoped the story would somehow get the point across that the days of bullying are due to end. If we who were bullied speak up against it, we might start a dialogue that will rumble through social media and strike a chord.

jst_burn_baby_burn_1000Francis Fripp is not alone. I loved writing his story. I also had a very difficult time revisiting those feelings. But it was worth it. I hope I managed to create a likeable character…one that invokes not only your sympathy, but one who conjures a symbol of strength. Because Francis is a victim, but he’s also just a boy…trying to love and be loved, trying to navigate the complicated terrain of high school. He just happens to live with visible scars…but we all carry scars. They don’t need to be visible to be there. We’re all vulnerable and we’re all capable of great acts of heroism. I hope you find something to relate to in Francis’s story. What would I like readers to take away from it besides the obvious BULLYING IS BAD message? That none of us are ONE thing. We are not defined by one aspect of our person. Everybody has a story. What you see when you look at a person is just a tiny glittering spark of sun-caught ice breaking the surface. Most of who we are is under the surface. We are, each of us, icebergs waiting to be discovered.

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BUY YOUR COPY TODAY. WHEREVER PAPERBACKS OR EBOOKS ARE SOLD.

ADVANCED PRAISE FOR BURN BABY BURN BABY:

“Kevin Craig’s books just keep getting better & better. A must read.”

“I read this book in one evening, while sitting in my rocking chair, wrapped in a fleecy blanket, chewing on my fingernails (especially during the last seven chapters or so). Actually, I believe this is the ONLY book I’ve read during 2014 (out of 83 books so far), that I have stayed up past my bedtime to finish reading it. It was that good.”

“As you can see, I highly recommend this book for those who love YA books – I’ve been a YA reader for years and, if I don’t like a book, I’m not afraid to say so. This book ranks five stars on my list.”

“Wow! I really loved this book.”

“The characters are perfect this author knows how to write characters that are realistic yet likable! You will quickly fall for Frances the main guy of the story. The entire cast was great! I used Cast cause it played out like a TV show in my head when I read it.”

Back from the Magic Kingdom! AND a Cover Reveal for Book 4 Coming Your Way!

I can’t even describe the joy I found in Orlando when I went to the Walt Disney parks found there. I’m not even going to try. I’ll just say, “I’m home!”

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Yesterday I saw the cover for my upcoming young adult novel BURN BABY BURN BABY for the first time. I was speechless. I was goosebumps. I was teary-eyed. I was mesmerized. I LOVE IT!

I can’t wait to show you. It’s one of the best covers I’ve seen in a long time. And I get to share it with you tomorrow (WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1st, 2014)!

If you would like to be a part of the cover reveal, please let me know. I’d love to have others host the reveal on their blogs, tumblrs, etc. Just let me know and I can send you the cover file along with some information about the book, etc.

Or…just stay tuned for tomorrow’s post! And feel free to share the cover far and wide once the reveals roll out.

Thanks much!

BURN BABY BURN BABY AT CURIOSITY QUILLS PRESS!

BURN BABY BURN BABY - COVER REVEAL COMING TOMORROW!!
BURN BABY BURN BABY – COVER REVEAL COMING TOMORROW!!

BURN BABY BURN BABY ON GOODREADS! <<<Don’t forget to add it to your shelf!

Man, I am in LOVE with this cover. My publishers have truly outdone themselves!

CALLER 107 Blog Tour – Catch a Glimpse of the New Matthew Cox Title!

Blog Tour

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Caller 107 by Matthew Cox is now available for purchase!

Genre: young-adult, contemporary paranormal

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

 

Description:

When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people that want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.

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MATTHEW COX: Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey. Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

And now for a sneak peak into CALLER 107! This excerpt is from CHAPTER 5 of the young adult novel:

 

The hot shower helped her mood; the wall of silence that hung over breakfast and the ride to school did not. Mrs. Mendoza was off that day, and her mother’s culinary efforts were limited to dumping cereal in a bowl and carrying the unopened bottle of milk to the table. Even toast was a challenge. Natalie kept her arms folded and her gaze out the passenger side window. After last night, she wanted to stay as far away from Etan, Kevin, and Cory… even Jason, as she could. That had been far too close. She wondered if they had gotten away. The police cruiser had come in quiet; somehow, she set off a silent alarm. If they got pinched, she had no doubt they would drag her into it. After all, she was the one that set off the alarm.

 
After that night, she wanted―needed―comforting, but the only thing Mother offered was more yelling and derision. She should talk. Why did Mother do that to their family? What happened to the woman that she used to admire? By the time the car squeaked to a halt by the private school, Natalie was crying. She did not look over before getting out. As her boot hit the street, she froze; one hand on the door and her back turned. A sense of something wafted out of the car that made her pause. If Mother apologized for being a bitch, Natalie would fall apart right there―she might even apologize herself, perhaps even hug her. Was she going to say sorry? Come on, Mom, you can do it… please.

 
“Have a good day, hon. Please think about what you’re doing with yourself.”

 
Bitch. Slam.

 
Mother had no idea how shallow she was; much less see what she was doing to the people she supposedly loved. Natalie trudged through the courtyard, clinging to her backpack, ignoring the other kids trickling in just a little late. The massive front door guard offered an honest smile as she shrugged through the metal detector. For him, she managed to brighten up. He was the only one in this entire building that did not judge anyone.

 
“Morning Darius.”

 
“You a’ight?” Buttons threatened to spring off his white shirt as he leaned forward. The security guard hat tilted at an odd angle, balanced atop thick cornrows. “You don’t look so good.”

 
“I’m okay, just a fight with the bitch.”

 
He shook his head. “Y’oughta ‘spect yo’ momma, girl. Y’only get one.”

 
She frowned. “She doesn’t respect herself, why should I?”

 
Darius leaned against the wall, folding his arms with a resigned shake of the head; the stool protested his change of posture with an audible creak. Natalie wandered through the hall, pivoting through the flood of a sudden post-homeroom crowd as she continued on her way to her locker.

 
It had been a week since she had even bothered to open it; the combination took a moment to come back. 3-14-15. Pi… You are such a damn nerd. The door squeaked to the left. You’re better at nerd than you are at street punk. She frowned at the texts and notebooks. For no reason she could think of, the sight of them made her angrier with her mother. What did that lawyer do that made her father break contact? She put a hand on a thick calculus textbook, rubbing her thumb over the spine. She could pick herself up, try to start giving a shit again, but what was the point? A yearlong deliberate slide was a hard thing to pull out of, and repeating a grade would destroy any chance of early college admission.

 

Skipping senior year and going right to college was a prospect her father had been thrilled about; now, he did not even want to talk to her. She dropped a few books into the backpack and pushed the locker closed.

BUY THE BOOK:

CALLER 107 at AMAZON

Don’t forget to add CALLER 107 to your Goodreads Shelf!

 

 

 

Writers at the Mic – Taking Your Words on the Road

Ten years ago. That was when I did my first reading at a microphone. I was a complete and utter mess. Walking to the mic was equivalent to the walk to the gallows. Even thinking about speaking into the mic had me hoping and praying for a lightning bolt to take me from this mortal coil. And yet, there I was, walking up to the mic and preparing to read words that I myself actually wrote. The horror!

I neglected to mention that when I get myself into these pickles, it’s usually all or nothing. It’s a BIG BAD PICKLE! My first turn at the mic was actually in a recording studio at CBC Radio. Yep! Someone who hyperventilates at the mere imagining of sharing his words was stepping into a recording booth to–are you still with me here–SHARE. MY. WORDS! On a national scale. With people at a soundboard watching my every move. With the producer of one of the station’s most popular listener-contributed shows on CBC Radio1 (FIRST PERSON SINGULAR) smiling at me from the other side of the glass.

Go big or go home.

With that dip into the world of reading under my belt, you would think that it would begin to come easier to me…right? You’d be wrong. I was asked later in the same month to read the same piece in front of an audience of writers at the (WCDR) Writers’ Community of Durham Region’s monthly Breakfast Meeting. The request sent me into a tailspin of panic. I mean, I was ready to call 9-1-1 for myself. What did I do? I said YES. This only increased my anxiety. I thought of many ways to get out of this. I would tell them a taxi ran over my legs, so I’d be unable to make it to the meeting. I would tell them I was stung by a Brazilian Wandering Spider, and I only had a few short minutes to live…so I’d be unable to attend. Or, I could tell them I fell down one of those wells everybody always seemed to be falling down. These may seem like ludicrous alibis now, but at the time each one was viable. ANYTHING to get me out of the horror of reading my words in public. It was a double whammy of anxiety stew. Public speaking AND sharing my words. The horror!

I did it. I sat down with my back to the audience, but I did it.

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The whole time I’ve been on this writing journey, I understood that public speaking and the sharing of my words were both necessary. I could not get out of either if I were to progress to anyplace of any significance. So, I hunkered down and accepted my dismal fate. I bit the bullet. I read. In public.

A reading I did at the Renaissance Café in Toronto.
A reading I did at the Renaissance Café in Toronto.

I think I’ve come a long way since that first audience interaction where the audience remained out of my field of vision and I sat down so that my wobbly legs were not forced to hold me vertical. I know I’ve become more comfortable…or that I’ve become more adept at hiding my discomfort. I’m not sure which one it is, but does it matter? I’m biting the bullet whenever I can, now. It hurts! I won’t ever pretend it doesn’t. But I’m doing it.

Reading at my first book launch at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario
Reading at my first book launch at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario

In today’s world, the writer is a self-promoting machine. It’s no longer enough to sit in a candle-lit garret room and write the next Gatsby. One has to take that work on the road. Even the shyest most introverted writer would do good to get to open mics and spread their words. Believe me when I admit to you here and now. I AM THAT SHYEST AND MOST INTROVERTED WRITER of which I speak. It’s me. I’m it. And if I can do it, anybody can.

A million open-mic may not prepare you for the shock of having your first book launch, but they will prepare you to give a reading from that book while you're there!
A million open-mics may not prepare you for the shock of having your first book launch, but they will prepare you to give a reading from that book while you’re there!

Wherever you live, I’m sure there are open mics happening in your area. Do yourself a favour and sign up. Attend. Read at the mic. Listen. You will never get good at it if you don’t keep doing it…especially if you’re an anxiety ridden lunatic like myself. Keep this in mind before you attend your first one–people are there because they want to hear writers read. Upon arrival, you already have their support. All you have to do is read.

One more piece of advice. Whatever you write–read it aloud. Whether you intend to stand up in front of the mic and read it to an audience or not. READ IT TO YOURSELF. OUT LOUD. A writer who reads their work out loud will discover that this is one of the best editing tools in the writer’s toolbox. Hearing your words will help you to hear what works and what isn’t quite ready. The writer’s ear knows.