The Girl from the Blood Coven by Brian Moreland

thegirlfromthebloodcovenEvery generation has experienced some level of satanic panic. From The Manson Family to the Son of Sam to a rash of bible belters claiming devil worship, we are always reminded that no matter how picture perfect things may look on the outside, there is always a great evil lurking beneath the surface. A sleepy town with a horrible secret seems the perfect backdrop to revive this oft used horror fiction trope. This may not be new ground, but Brian Moreland offers his own interpretation with an unexpected twist in a short story prelude to The Witching House (out from Samhain Horror this August) titled The Girl from the Blood Coven also out from Samhain Horror July 2nd for FREE!

Moreland’s The Girl from the Blood Coven teaser follows East Texas Sheriff Travis Keagan who is drinking at the local watering hole when a girl covered in blood stumbles in. When the Sheriff and his deputy drive her to the crime scene, the local hippy commune known as The Belvins House, it’s immediately apparent that this won’t be a simple case of mass murder (or as simple as that could be anyway). With an entire house painted in red, the smell “a mix of blood, wine and evacuated bowels,” victims with missing heads, and a young survivor singing in unknown tongues, this is no ordinary tale of Satan worship or devil sacrifices. Is this the work of a sick cult? Is the perpetrator of this violence even human? We’ll have to wait for the August release of The Witching House to find out.

We may not have any mysteries solved or questions answered in Moreland’s short story, but he offers just the right amount of blood, guts, and mayhem to give this pre-dinner killer cocktail bite. So sit back and sip on the pungent prelude to Moreland’s satanic summer story. The Girl from the Blood Coven is a vicious little short, it’s FREE! and besides, what says summer like a story about human sacrifice and Satan worship?

Get a FREE! copy of The Girl from the Blood Coven from Samhain Horror tomorrow July 2nd available in a variety of digital formats here. You’ll have to wait until August 6th for the full length novel The Witching House also out from Samhain Horror.

To keep up with all things Brian Moreland visit his website, follow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook.

-Meli

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Meli Goes to HorrorHound!

HHW_Cincy_Samhain

I’m almost 32 years old (turning the big three-two April 3rd if you want to flood my Facebook with birthday wishes) and I’ve been a horror fan for as long as I can remember yet I’ve never been to a horror con until now. This past Friday I rectified that blaring omission from my horror fan resume and made the trek from Bowling Green, OH to the beautiful city of Cincinnati, home of my beloved Bengals, the Cincinnati Reds, Samhain Publications (apparently, I had no idea), and the great people of Night of the Living Podcast.

Drive time: 3 hours. Time spent waiting in line: 3-1/2 hours. Cost of a Friday day pass: $25. So, for a six hour round trip and a line stretching back to Dayton you may wonder what all the fuss is about. For thousands of women with hearts in their eyes there was Norman Reedus, a.k.a. Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead, signing autographs and taking pictures. There was also some dude named John Carpenter. For horror lit fans like us there was Samhain Horror up front and center with a few authors on hand to chat with readers and sell great horror fiction.

At the Samhain booth were Jonathan Jaz – the Samhain author I am most familiar with having read both The Sorrows (review here) and House of Skin (review coming soon) – Brian Moreland and Kristopher Rufty, both authors whose work I am anxious to get better acquainted with. Besides Elizabeth Massie at the premier of Abed – the short film by Ryan Lieske based on Massie’s short story by the same name – I have never met an author in real life! Still, all the interactions I have with horror writers online are exceptionally pleasant. They’re always passionate about their craft, willing to share that excitement for the genre with fans, and characterized by a humble and friendly disposition that strongly contrasts with the baddies in their stories.

Daryl

I didn’t get a photo with just Janz and I, but I got a photo with the Daryl lookalike. Check out me cheesing!

Meeting these three Samhain authors face-to-face was just as thrilling as corresponding with them virtually and left me feeling completely reinvigorated with a passion for this small but growing community. In this horror microcosm you can boil it down even further to the very specific part of the genre you love most. For many it is film, for others it may be art, fashion, sculptures, toys, or music and for me (as well as my new friends Erin from Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK! and Tim) it’s horror fiction. The opportunity to be a freak among like-minded freaks was overwhelming. I had no idea what I was missing. Not only did I make a bunch of new friends, I was struck by how hard these authors work. Their love for the genre and the fans of their work is unparalleled. While they may not have the glitz and glamour of a crossbow bearing zombie killer, these are my rockstars.

As I mentioned, I am most familiar with Jonathan Janz’ work and was excited to meet him in person after corresponding via the internet for more than a year now. His debut novel from Samhain, The Sorrows, offers an impressive introduction to his work and the man couldn’t be any more grateful to his fans. Standing at 6’4” Jon is a gentle giant that chatted excitedly with fans about horror and worked diligently to spread the good word for his fellow authors as well. He is a fanboy just like you and me – hell, they all are! – even trying to suppress the urge to chase down a Daryl Dixon lookalike for a photo op.

The Darkest Lullaby out April 2013!

The Darkest Lullaby out April 2013!

I remember when I wrote the review for Janz’ The Sorrows I boldly stated that “You shall know thy name Jonathan Janz!” With a growing fanbase and a number of projects lined up for twenty-thirteen, I can stand confidently by that statement. There is a 5 part serialized novel Savage Species, the first installment will be released 6/4/2013 with the subsequent 4 entries coming out in bi-weekly increments. The Darkest Lullaby will be out 4/2/2013, but you can pre-order the eBook for only $3.85 here. I picked up a tpb copy at the con and I can’t wait to check it out. We can also expect Dust Devils (western meets vampires!), no release date that I know of yet, and possible sequels to earlier work. If you haven’t read his stuff yet, you gotta gotta gotta! You can look him up on the Samhain website or check him out at http://jonathanjanz.com/, follow him on Facebook, and Twitter.

Moreland

Me, Brian Moreland, and my signed copy of Dead of Winter. Success!

I also met Brian Moreland, author of Shadows in the Midst and Dead of Winter. While I haven’t read his work yet, I picked up a copy of Dead of Winter per Moreland’s recommendation. We talked a bit about written horror versus horror film and it turns out he studied screenwriting but shifted his attention to novels to avoid the obvious constraints of making movies – budget requirements for effects, etc. Moreland traveled the furthest to HorrorHound Cincy making his way from the state where everything is bigger and better, Texas! Like Janz, Moreland too will be having a busy year at Samhain with a short called “The Girl from the Blood Coven” coming out the first week in July 2013, a novella called The Witch House to be released in early August 2013, and the novel The Devil’s Woods coming out in December so be on the lookout for those. As I mentioned, I haven’t read his work yet, but based on our discussion I would expect cinematic writing with historical underpinnings. Find Brian Moreland via Samhain, or his website http://www.brianmoreland.com/ and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Rufty

Rufty, me, and his better half Angie. Below that are my signed copies of PillowFace and his movie Psycho Holocaust.

Last but certainly not least, I met Kristopher Rufty who was there with his lovely wife Angie. With the second longest commute after Moreland from Texas, Kristopher and Angie made the trek from North Carolina, about an 8 hour drive. Still, they came fresh faced and wide eyed ready to meet fans and at other times be fans. Rufty has written a number of titles available. His short “The Night Everything Changed” is available for free at Samhain here, and you can pick up Angel Board, The Lurkers, and A Dark Autumn from Samhain as well. His next novel Oak Hollow will be out August 2013. Rufty had advance copies of Oak Hollow for sale at HorrorHound, but I opted for a copy of PillowFace (Lazarus Press) along with his film Psycho Holocaust instead. The killer in PillowFace is drawn from a psycho of the same name in Rufty’s movie so I had to have them both. Something about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired pulp fiction that I was drawn to. When I got home from HorrorHound Friday night at about 2am I immediately popped my copy of Psycho Holocaust into my DVD player, cracked open a beer and braced myself for the mayhem. As Rufty put it before we parted ways, “It’s super violent and super low budget.” That’s an apt description, but I think the movie deserves more credit, so I will save my thoughts for the Dreadful Tales review. I will tell you that after all the excitement of my day I fully expected to pass out 5 minutes in, but I just couldn’t stop watching. Based on the depravity I witnesssed in Psycho Holocaust, I have high expectations for his horror fiction where he has an unlimited budget for practical effects that depend on the reader’s own imagination. To follow Rufty in his book writing / filmmaking adventures you can find him on the Samhain website, his blog Last Krist on the Left (pretty clever, huh), Twitter and Facebook.

While the time spent at HorrorHound was short, it was certainly sweet. It was great to meet everyone in person and make new friends in the process. Thanks to Samhain and their authors for not only making great horror fiction but going out of their way to connect with fans.

Meli

The Boys of Samhain

Don Henley has The Boys of Summer, but I got The Boys of Samhain.

Shadows in the Mist by Brian Moreland

During World War II, Jack Chambers survived battle after battle, along with a few members of his unit–the Lucky Seven. Drafted for a secretive mission into the depths of the Hurtgen, a dark, eerie German forest, Jack and his men join up with a team of special forces soldiers to take down a horrifying Nazi occult experiment. The records of the mission are kept sealed, lost forever except to the two survivors–Jack and one other man, a rabbi who seems afflicted with the same dark nightmares and mysterious scars Jack has.

Now, on his deathbed, Jack has one request for his grandson, Sean.

Return to Hurtgen.

Reading this book was like watching an old black and white war film. Even though it only lightly grasps the reader’s interest, you just sort of hang on and plow through. The story is well-crafted and well-written. Each character is fleshed out and written in such a way that you feel like you known these guys. The gore is light, but it’s good. In regards to the violence in the novel, it focuses more on the emotional reactions of the survivors. That’s not a bad thing in any case, but here it was almost like an attempt to weigh down an already-heavy plot. Speaking of which, the plot is a little heavy, and while the subjects–Jewish mysticism, gollums, Nazi occult secrets– are all fascinating on their own, for some reason, they just seemed sort of ho-hum. I couldn’t gather enough real interest in the events to care if the soldiers made it out of the scary medieval German castle alive. By the time something actually started to happen, I was mentally ticking off the members of the unit to see who was still left and who had yet to die.

I think my biggest issue with the book was how slow it progressed. I would sit down and read several chapters and realize absolutely nothing of consequence had happened. For all the perfect editing, amazing world building, and awesome character-development, this book was just plain dull.

Moreland did his history homework–there’s not a single negative thing I can say about the excellent world-building. I admire the character work. As I said, each one was crafted so solidly they felt like real people. The book is very well-written, the story airtight. I loved the gollums as the monsters. It’s a refreshing change from the usual supernatural bad guys. Even the Kabbalah plot line added a level of interest to the story, taking it a little further from the usual Nazi cult plots out there. If you can get past the turtle-slow pacing of the first 5/8ths of the book, the conclusion is satisfying enough to almost make up for the other issues.

Visit Brian Moreland’s website and Samhain Publishing for more info.

An Insiders Look at Samhain: Brian Moreland

Brian Moreland is one of the bright new talents unearthed by Samhain Publishing.  He was gracious enough to give us his personal perspective on what Samhain means to not only him, but the genre as a whole.

Samhain Horror came to me at just the right time in my career. I had already published my first novel, SHADOWS IN THE MIST, through Berkley/Penguin. They passed on DEAD OF WINTER because it’s a historical horror novel that takes place entirely in 1870. My editor told me Berkley doesn’t publish historical novels that date pre-World War II. So I had to find a new publishing house. My agent and I were trying to find a good fit that would help take my career to the next level. I had finished DEAD OF WINTER in November of 2009 and was eager to sell it to a publisher right away. But that year, publishing houses were shuffling their editors, and the book industry was highly unstable. My agent was afraid my book would get bought up and then lost in the chaos, so she told me “let’s wait it out.” It was tough to do, because I had eager fans asking when my next book was coming out. My agent and I held out from submitting my book for over a year. I’m glad we did, because I was ready and waiting for the right opportunity.

In January of 2011, my agent told me that Leisure Books was dissolving their horror line and that their veteran editor, Don D’Auria, had moved over to Samhain Publishing to start up a brand new horror line called Samhain Horror. Don planned to start the line in October 2011 and was looking for submissions. My agent sold me on Don, saying he was a legend in the horror business. I hadn’t heard of him, but I did a little research and discovered that he had been the editor for many of my favorite authors—Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Ronald Malfi, and Jack Ketchum, to name a few. On his blog, Brian Keene wrote a post about how much he loved working with Don D’Auria. I flipped through a dozen books by Leisure authors and read the Acknowledgements. Again and again, I kept seeing Don’s name being praised, many describing him as the nicest editor to work with. That sealed the deal for me, so I told my agent let’s submit DEAD OF WINTER to Don at Samhain. The timing was perfect. We submitted within two weeks of Don starting his new job. Less than 30 days later in February, my agent called and said that Don loves DEAD OF WINTER and wants it to be one of the first books to release in October. I was so excited I called half the people I know with the news. Then I went out and celebrated over a cheeseburger.

Shortly after signing the contract, I was contacted by a woman who told me she was my “liaison” to Samhain Publishing. If I had any questions about royalties, contracts, publishing dates, or anything, I could contact her anytime. That was the most personal service I had ever been given by a publishing house. They even sent me a birthday card.

Working with Don D’Auria has been a dream. Like everyone says, he is the nicest guy and an icon in the horror business. A few months after my book deal, I attended the 2011 World Horror Conference in Austin, Texas. While there I saw a cool flyer for Samhain Horror that had my name on it included among Ronald Malfi, Hunter Shea, and Ramsey Campbell. I wondered who had put out Samhain Horror flyers on the lobby table. Turns out Don D’Auria was attending the convention. I had no idea he’d be here. We tracked each other down and met for the first time in person. Don treated me to lunch at Pappadeux’s, and we talked about Samhain’s long-term goals for the new horror line. The more he described his marketing campaign and his vision for my career, the more confident I felt that I had chosen the right publishing house. The next few months I worked with Don on editing DEAD OF WINTER. It was a very smooth process. Don is very diplomatic in his style of editing. He made some great suggestions on how to improve my novel while keeping most of the book intact. The editorial took me less than a day to correct and send back. I even got to offer my ideas for the cover design, which doesn’t typically happen with large publishing houses. The art director and illustrator implemented all of my ideas and came up with a great cover.

At Berkley, I had to wait over a year to see SHADOWS IN THE MIST in print. With Samhain, my second novel released eight months after we concluded the book deal. I was fortunate to be chosen among six authors to roll out the new Samhain Horror line. The best thing that has come out of releasing with a group of fellow horror authors is that we’ve been like a band of brothers helping one another promote our books. I’ve brainstormed marketing ideas with a few of them. I had a blast doing a radio show with Hunter Shea, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi, and Jonathan Janz. We’ve helped each other get book reviews and interviews in magazines. I interviewed several “Samhainers” for my blog (http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com), including Frazer Lee and W.D. Gagliani.

Samhain Horror has done a fantastic job marketing, getting my book cover in magazines like Fangoria, Famous Monsters, and even on a digital billboard in New York’s Times Square. With big publishers, I’ve had to do all the marketing myself; only the celebrity authors got to benefit from advertising. Samhain Horror’s parent company, Samhain Publishing, is one of the fastest growing e-book publishers in the business. And they heavily promote their authors. When I got back the rights to SHADOWS IN THE MIST last November, I immediately signed a new book deal with Samhain to re-release my World War II supernatural thriller in September of 2012.

With Leisure Books gone and the Big Six publishers focused on YA vampire romance novels, I see Samhain Horror as one of the front runners to be the next big horror publisher. Here, new authors can get their big break. And readers can discover a mix of fresh new horror talent along with new works from established authors. As one of Samhain’s contributing authors, I definitely feel like I’ve found a home to publish my books for years to come.

Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of historical horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels are Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist (available September 2012). He also has two thrilling short stories available for Amazon Kindle: “Chasing the Dragon” and “The Dealer of Needs.” Brian loves hiking, kayaking, traveling, and watching sports. He lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://brianmoreland.com/ or on Twitter @BrianMoreland. Brian’s blog for news about his books: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com