Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Royce Prouty's Stoker's Manuscript--Guest Post and Review

On this day of all Hallows' Eve, I would like to welcome Royce Prouty, author of the most excellent novel, Stoker's Manuscript.

As is tradition in our household, each October I read a story aloud to my wife, ending just before Halloween. A couple of years ago we chose the original Dracula, by Bram Stoker. (It was actually the first vampire novel I'd ever read.) After several days of reading we reached the ending, and both of us felt disappointed with the final outcome. Here it was, this gloriously written and constructed novel, and it ends with an inglorious ambush, followed by the Count turning to dust. It didn't even allow for a meaningful sequel.

We have a special Century edition of the book, appendixed with notes and reviews, and discovered that the ending had been changed, from one where the novel originally climaxed with a great battle at Dracula's Castle, down to a brief ambush. Originally, a great storm rages on outside while the Count battles to the death. Lightning strikes the castle and crumbles it. The Count is killed, and then is carted off by shadowy characters to be buried beside his wife.

"So why the change?" I mused.
My wife responded, "Maybe the family does not want anyone to know where they are buried."

The following morning the story hit me. Like all my stories, it arrived in entirety in a single moment-- the storyline, setting, characters, voices, final conflict scene-- everything. It is as if they are sent to me. From there it's a matter of getting it out and on paper. Quickly I wrote character sketches and a story synopsis and sent them off to my professional editor, Ed Stackler, up in the Bay Area. He gave it the thumbs up along with the following advice: "Go ahead and write the first draft. The put it down and read a couple of modern vampire stories, Kostova's Historian and Dacre Stoker's The Undead, to make sure you're not covering any trodden ground. Then to back and do your research before writing the second draft."

So that's what I did.

Funny thing-- when an author does research, it is typical to find things that causes one to alter/modify the manuscript. However, with every bit of research I did, both big and small, the historical events only strengthened my story, never necessitating a change. For example, I wrote of a fire at the Lyceum Theatre, where Bram Stoker worked, that forced the ending to change from his first editions to subsequent ones. Historically, there was a fire in the theatre during that time.

One of the areas I researched was the vampire creature itself. I never envisioned vampires as warm & fuzzy romantic creatures, but rather as sinister creatures of the night, encounters with which tended to end badly for the humans. In that vein I fashioned my villains. No romance in Stoker's Manuscript.

For help I enlisted my sister, Christine, for advice. She is an expert on things vampiric, and assisted on the list of vampire traits, conventions and expectations. From Stoker's writing in the 1890s to present, several permutations of the creatures have presented, and I felt it necessary to bring the medical and scientific understanding to modern. Bram Stoker did a great job of building the bridge over to Vampireland, but I felt the bridge needed to be brought up to modern building code, if you will. To explain what the creatures are, and equally, what they are not, seemed an important step. For example, there are several things in Stoker's novel that would not make it past an editor in today's publishing houses, such as having Count Dracula walking around London mid-day.

When completed, I sent my manuscript off to an agent, Scott Miller, at Trident in New York, who accepted it and successfully presented to Putnam & Sons.

Such are the origins of tales.

My thoughts on Stoker's Manuscript
I have been on somewhat of a Dracula kick lately. I'm listening to Bram Stoker's classic novel on audio and I'm slowly working my way through a reread of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. So I was thrilled when Royce contacted me and offered me a copy of his book. My friend, J. Kaye, had raved about it and it turns out she was not wrong.

What I liked most about the book was the creepy elements that crept up on me throughout the book. I felt chilling fingers move up my spine more than once. This made for excellent reading for the Halloween season. Add to that, the writing of a story that kept me guessing and characters and settings that made me feel part of the story, and this is definitely a book worth reading.

Anyone who is a fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula or even Kostova's The Historian will love this book. It's obvious that Prouty has a voice. I look forward to his next novel.

I leave you with this wonderful poem by Romanian poet, Lucian Blaga, which Prouty included at the beginning of the book. It really struck me...

Lost in the night, somewhere, there is
all that once was and no more is,
what got lost, what was uprooted, 
from living time to time that's muted.
In Hades is--all that is passed.
From Acheron, the river vast, 
all memories to us return. 
In Hades is--all that is passed
the Aprils and loves we yearn.

UK edition

About the book
When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker's Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he's become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley's only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley's salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward's flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker's original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.

About the author
Patrick Royce Prouty is a CPA, business consultant, and Harley-Davidson enthusiast. He and his wife live in Southern California. Stoker's Manuscript is his first novel.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado: Guest Post and Review

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dora Machado

1. I have to travel because staying put doesn't make any sense to my restless mind.

2. I love thunderstorms. Over the sea, over the desert, over the mountains, nothing clears the mind and awakens the senses like thunder's epic voice.

3. I'd be skinny if cake hadn't been invented.

4. I think that tyrants are bullies that have beaten the hell out of their peers and taken over the playground.

5. I write at night because that's when my characters are awake.

6. I think sarcasm is the cleverest form of humor.

7. When you grow up on an island, the long road and the uninterrupted journey are quite the novelty.

8. I'm a very careful skier. In fact, people watching me from the lifts often like to encourage me in passing. "Downhill, lady," they shout. "You want to go downhill!"

9. I haven't taught my kids half the lessons they've taught me.

10. The spring fed river that runs through my backyard reminds me every day that change is constant and more is yet to come.

My thoughts on The Curse Giver
I have found myself a new fantasy author! For me, good fantasy has to have the following elements: phenomenal world building, engaging and multidimensional characters, and just plain great writing. This book has all of them. I have always been a fan of epic fantasy that makes me feel and care for the characters and also makes me feel like part of the story. I honestly felt like I was there with Bren and Lusielle, experiencing the danger and adventure right along with them.

I feel I must share a quote from the book. When I read this, I chuckled, and then I thought that the author must be a lover of books. This quote is just so fitting for us book lovers...

"Word was that that the Lady of Tolone had been selling some of the lesser known valuables from her library in order to raise cash to pay for her whims. Upon learning this, Hato had gone into a quiet panic. She could have sold the somber paintings or the extravagant windows. Instead, she chose to dismantle the library. The library!"

Scandalous! Don't mess with the library.

Dora Machado has written one hell of a fantasy novel in The Curse Giver. I can't believe I have not read her books before this, but I definitely will now...and I look forward with great anticipation to her next book.

About the book
Lusielle’s bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when her husband betrays her and she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn’t commit. She’s on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark.

Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON or at Barnes and Noble. 

About the author
Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, coming this summer from Twilight Times Books. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University. She was born in Michigan and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a bilingual fascination for writing, a love for history, and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She enjoys long walks, traveling, and connecting with the amazing readers who share in her mind’s adventures. She lives in Florida with her indulging husband and three very opinionated cats.

Her latest book is The Curse Giver. Visit her website at

Connect & Socialize with Dora!

Visit other stops on The Curse Giver tour HERE

This book tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Hunt and Giveaway Hop...Enter if you dare!

Welcome to the Halloween Hunt & Giveaway Hop!

From now until Halloween we're celebrating all things spooky! So hop around and visit the blogs, enter giveaways and collect the Halloween Hunt "words"!

Hunt words will make up different Halloween quotes and earn extra entries in the grand prize giveaway so don't forget to enter those in the giveaway widget! The Grand Prize is a Kindle Paperwhite and an Amazon gift card...two winners! Happy hunting!

Trick or Treat on over to the other blogs! Good luck!


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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Page Turner Book Tours: Charles O'Keefe's Killer on the Road--Guest Post and {Giveaway}

Pay it Forward

If you’ve seen the movie, or read the book, you’ll know what the title means right away (and a hint at my anecdote) but the meaning will become clear regardless. In September last year I did a book signing (in fact two in the one day) the first at a local Chapters and the other at a Coles in a mall. The first one went fairly well, I sold 3 copies and I went on the next. The second book signing also was going good, a Twitter follower introduced himself and we had a nice chat about the internet, Twitter and writing in general. It was the first time a Twitter follower had come up to me in person and I was feeling good. Four more copies sold and I had about ten minutes left, I had done some writing, a little reading and played some video games on my iPad.

Before my time was up I noticed a young woman who had been sitting close to the book store entrance, near the escalator. She had been there a good hour or more and did some reading, played with her phone and occasionally looked at me and smiled. I’m a friendly guy so I smiled back and didn’t think much else of it. Then just before I left she came up to me and said, “I noticed you’re selling your book. I’m sorry I don’t have any money on me but I wanted to wish you luck and I wrote this note for you.” I said “Well thank you.” She smiled, waved and left and I was left with the note. I kept it and will share it with you now it said, “Every writer starts off with one word, one phrase, one book. Then builds their success on passion and love for their stories and imagination. Don’t be discouraged at what people say if negative. Write for yourself.”

It touched my heart and I smiled broadly, I wanted to thank her but she was gone. Instead what I can do is pass this note along to anyone who reads this blog and hope that maybe somehow she’ll see it. Simple words of encouragement from a stranger meant more to me than her money, someone who would be nice expecting nothing in return and only wanting to help is worthy of praise. It is comments like that make me want to continue to write, to see the benefit of it. Not everyone (besides my friends, family and wife of course) is apathetic; there are good people out there who care. Maybe she got it from a book or the internet but it doesn’t matter, it’s the thought that counts and its one I very much appreciated. I can’t repay her but I’ll pay it forward, I hope another reads this and takes it heart. Writing is a worthwhile activity that a chosen few (or many if we’re lucky) enjoy and appreciate, I encourage others and I hope you’ll do the same.
The book: If you like what I said maybe you’d like to check out my books The Newfoundland Vampire and Killer on the Road. They have both gotten some good reviews and I promise that my vampires don’t sparkle. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day/afternoon/evening!

About the book
Title: Killer On The Road
Series: The Newfoundland Vampire
Author: Charles O’Keefe
Genre: Horror / Paranormal / Romance / Vampire
Publisher: Penumbra Publishing
Formats Available In: All eBook formats and Print
Release Date: January, 2011

Joseph O’Reily is still adjusting to the lifestyle and the dangers that come with being a new vampire. He and Cassandra recently fought to the death with Cassandra’s estranged husband John Snow, and now Joseph has experienced his first ménage a trios, as only a vampire can. As if all of this was not complicated enough, he and Cassandra have been tasked with hunting down and killing a rogue vampire, Donald Rathmore.

Another of John Snow’s creations, Donald is an evil misogynistic killer in his own right. Donald has no interest in avenging his creator’s death, but killing Cassandra is at the top of his list.

While Donald continues his murderous spree, Joseph and Cassandra always seem to be one step behind him. The chase is further complicated as they encounter other vampires and learn more about the mysterious nature of the Vampire Council and the coming war between good and evil.

Joseph is only now beginning to trust Cassandra, and this trust will be shaken when he discovers she has even more secrets than he imagined. Her idea of justice and morality is at complete odds with his own. Despite all his powers and growing skill, Joseph is tested physically as a vampire and emotionally by Cassandra. This time the answers and challenges may be too much for the young vampire to handle.

Amazon Kindle
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

About Charles O’Keefe
Charles O’Keefe lives in the beautiful province of Newfoundland, Canada, with his wife and two feline ‘children,’ Jude and Esther. He works as an I.T. support guy and enjoys many hobbies and activities that include writing, reading, watching fantasy/science-fiction movies and television shows, gaming, poker, walking, acting, martial arts and of course fantasizing about vampires.

He currently has two novels out, books 1 and 2 of "The Newfoundland Vampire" series.

Amazon author page

Check out the tour schedule HERE for more exciting posts about Killer on the Road!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

99 Cent Book Deals from Spooky Scott Nicholson!

Available for 99 cents until October 19, 2013....

New release, Box of Boo: Four Horror Thrillers (4.8 avg, 12 reviews)

Speed Dating with the Dead (4.1 avg, 94 reviews)

Author Scott Nicholson has written 20 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and indulges in the vain whimsy of believing his thoughts are important. Read more at and also find him on Facebook.


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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Tell If A Member of your Book Club is a Witch

In 1692, the Salem Witch Trails were in full Swing. Using the methods during this time, here is how you can tell if a Member of your book club might be a witch.

*Feed Their dog a Witch Cake! What is a Witch cake, you ask? You take the urine of the person who are thought to be under the spell of the witch in question, mix it with rye meal and make a little patty. Then you feed the patty to a dog. Because some of the powers the witch used to cast a spell on the afflicted people were in their urine, when the dog eats the cake, it will hurt the witch and she'll cry out in agony.
*Check for The Devil's mark. Moles, birthmarks, scars, or extra nipples - they're marks of the Devil. That's a sure sign right there, but if you need even more proof, try pricking the Devil's Mark with a blade. If it doesn't bleed or hurt when it's pricked, you've definitely got a witch on your hands.

*Observe them talking to themselves. During the Witch Trials, one accused woman, Sarah Good, was partially damned based on the fact that she was sometimes seen muttering to herself, and sometimes this even happened when she was leaving people's houses. Her accusers knew she was casting spells on people, even though Sarah claimed she was just reciting the commandments or a particular psalm. Her claims weren't enough to save her, because she was hanged on July 19, 1692.

*See if they can say the Lord's Prayer. If they don't, they're guilty. If they do, they're guilty too. George Burroughs, the only minister to be executed during the Trials, ran across this problem. He was standing at the gallows to be executed when he recited the Lord's Prayer to prove his innocence - it was believed that a witch would be unable to utter the holy words. People were momentarily convinced that the jury had wronged him until a minister named Cotton Mather told the crowd that the Devil allowed George Burroughs to say that prayer to make it seem as if he was innocent.

Read Part Two at Abbie's blog, The League of Extraordinary Readers.

Thank you, Abbie, for putting this together!


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Monday, October 7, 2013

Horror Movie Reviews--Insidious 2 and The Lords of Salem

I am a huge fan of the first "Insidious" film so I was highly anticipating this movie. I was not disappointed. In fact, I felt that this sequel may have been even more scary than the first. I loved the way it went into more detail and told us a back story. And there was even more humor this time, mostly courtesy of Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker. James Wan is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors having moved on from the gore of the "Saw" films to making intelligent horror films that focus more on the story and genuine creepiness that I find more scary than all out slash and gore. Examples are this film and the first "Insidious" and the brilliant "The Conjuring," which came out over the summer. Leigh Whannell should also be credited for his brilliant writing on this film and others. Needless to say, I'm pleased to tell you that "Insidious 3" has been announced!

About the film
The Lambert family learn their struggle with the supernatural is far from over when a long-buried secret plunges them back into a terrifying world of darkness. Director James Wan reteams with screenwriter Leigh Whannell for this horror sequel starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Ty Simpkins. ~from Fandango

There were two reasons that I rented "The Lords of Salem." One...huge fan of Rob Zombie. I loved him when he was in his band, White Zombie, and loved his solo music too. His films, especially "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects," have really pushed the envelope. I much prefer the former of these two, as the latter focused too much on torture rather than all out horror. His remakes of the "Halloween" films 1 and 2 were pretty good, albeit quite a bit more gory than the originals, if that's possible. So, with my being a fan, it was a given that I wanted to see this film. The other reason is that it's about witches and its back story has origins in the history of the Salem Witch Trials. Zombie takes liberties with the Salem history because in his story the witches are burned and the accused witches of Salem were not burned. They were hanged and one accused man was pressed to death. Also, Zombie's witches, or "Lords of Salem" weren't just accused, they were really evil witches. Another error, or maybe it was just an error in the spelling on the subtitles (yes, I have the subtitles on while I'm watching), was the misspelling of John Hawthorne's name. Anyone who knows the history of the Salem witch hysteria knows that a John Hathorne was one of the judges (who never repented his actions during the trials). Note the spelling of his name. He was a direct ancestor of author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who added the 'w' to his last name because he did not want to be connected with the ill deeds of his ancestor. Anyway, I'm not going to say that this film was excellent, but there were some genuinely creepy moments and a startlingly freaky performance by Meg Foster (blast from the past) as the hideously haggish and evil, Margaret Morgan, the ring leader of the Salem witches, or "Lords of Salem." There were actually a bunch of blasts from the past which Zombie is known for showcasing in his films, including Dee Wallace (of E.T., Howling, Cujo fame), Bruce Davison, and Maria Chonchita Alonso. And, of course, Zombie's normal regulars...wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, Ken Foree, and Sid Haig. "The Lords of Salem" has its moments, one of them being some deliciously creepy music (listen to the music at the end of the trailer below) introduced in the film via a record album sent to the main character by a band called "The Lords." What a coincidence. I would say see this if you're a zombie fan, or if you just like weird, eclectic horror films.

An excellent review on sums up my feelings about this film almost exactly.

Meg Foster as Margaret Morgan
About the film
Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record -- a "gift from the Lords." The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town's violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?

Film reviews for...

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

TuesBookTalk October Selection: Joyland by Stephen King

TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs on Twitter (@tuesbooktalk #tuesbooktalk) and on Goodreads will be reading, Joyland by Stephen King, in October. Our first discussion will be on Tuesday, October 8. Our chats take place on Twitter at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT on Tuesday nights (see hashtag above). If you can't join us on Twitter, feel free to share your thoughts in the Goodreads group. Get the full reading schedule HERE. Hope you will join us!


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Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Arrow Chest Read-a-Long...The End

Yes, yes...I'm days late with this. Last week, work was just so....UGH! I had no time for reading and got majorly behind on all of my books. But I have finished this one and I am quite satisfied with the experience, I must say. I'll do a full review later over at The True Book Addict, but I just want to share some final thoughts.

Of course, the parallels still continued with Lord Bowlend becoming increasingly piggish and downright cruel. One of the things I detest from these eras in history is the terrible treatment of women. "Oh, I don't want to be married to her anymore, so I'll have her declared insane and commit her to an asylum." What an outrage! Thank goodness Daphne had someone there who cared about her. I really thought she was going to succeed with her suicide attempts. I have to say, I was very pleased with the outcome of the story. Can we allow ourselves to hope that Amos and Beth will marry? That was the impression I came away with and I honestly felt throughout that Daphne was nudging Amos toward Beth for that exact thing to take place. So, who was it at the end...Anne Boleyn's ghost or Daphne herself? I guess we have to come to the conclusion we believe to be true.

I hope you enjoyed the read-a-long! This was a perfect read for Gothic September. Please share your final thoughts in the comments and come back and leave me a link if you write a formal review of the book.

Thanks for joining me!


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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's that time of year again...Season of the Witch!

Season of the Witch is back for another season! This year, I'm once again going to try to read some witch related books during October, but the event is really to focus on anything scary. I will be participating in my FrightFall Read-a-Thon (going on now--click link to join us!) from here during the event as well. Again, I would love some guest bloggers so if you'd like to participate by writing a guest post or being a guest reviewer, let me know. I hope you will join me and share your witchy or scary reads with me this month!

I have a lot of scary on my plate this month, with R.I.P. VIII in full swing so there will be some scary books up for review. Among these are This House is Haunted by John Boyne, Stephen King's Joyland, Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert (how appropriate!) and Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty. Royce will be stopping by with a guest post too!

If you do a post, feel free to share your link in the comments, or just let me know what you're going to be reading.


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