Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bits N Pieces 1.28.15

Recently released is Real Illusions by Tanya R Taylor (who previously published Hidden Sins Revealed). A hidden mansion in the woods. Dark secrets. A man with a brutal past. Sounds like the recipe for a fun ride. For Kindle or in paperback.

Crystal Lake Publishing offers a couple rare Kindle deals now through February 3rd. A five-book offer includes Things Slip Through by Kevin Lucia, as well as Horror 101, a collection of essays by Lucia and other horror writers. Find both value packs at CLP's website.

Christian horrorpunk favorites Grave Robber have issued a statement saying their vinyl EP, "Straight To Hell" will be available some time in March. On their official Facebook page, the band has also put out feelers for interest in crowdfunding a new full-length album. The band hints the new record will be called "Escaping The Grave," but have not confirmed that this will indeed be the case.

End Times thriller The Remaining is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. The disc dropped Tuesday, January 27th.

Friday, January 23, 2015

DevilBus! Superstistians Strike Back

Dear Outraged Christian Moms of the World,


Earlier this month, a mom in Tennessee was disturbed as she drove behind a school bus to be assaulted with the 5-pointed symbol of the Devil himself, a pentagram. It wasn't drawn on. It wasn't hanging from the windows. It wasn't the school logo.

It was the LED formation in the brake lights.

The surprised mom snapped a quick picture of the lights and ultimately went to the news media express her outrage that impressionable young children should be forced to ride a bus that, apparently, Slayer built.

"Anyone who fears a god, if not God and Jesus Christ, should be outraged." (via WMC Action News 5)

As they say on the social media, that escalated quickly.

Meanwhile, a video has been floating around the YouTube for quite some time suggesting the logo for Monster Energy Drink is actually a triple Hebrew vav, signifying the Mark of the Beast, 666. Even more damning, apparently, is the company's slogan, "Unleash The Beast." But most telling of all, apparently, the "O" in "Monster" apparently forms a cross, which when you take a drink turns upside-down and... oh, just watch the video.

"Bottoms up. And the Devil laughs." 


Look, I know what you're thinking. But the point is not, actually, to make fun of these well-meaning, if misguided people. Not at all. 

The point is to point out another example of superstition among Christians. I pointed this out a couple years ago on my devotional blog, Still Unfinished, in a post entitled "Superstistians." 

See, Christians have long been guilty of idolizing the trappings of religion, in essence behaving as pagans, with our own rituals and forms of magic (though we never call it that!). We'll kiss a cross necklace for luck, as though this piece of metal -- as significant a symbol as it is -- is also a talisman to ward off evil and misfortune. 

Christians! We have got to calm down about this sort of thing. Is there evil in the world? Yes! Does Satan have control of this world? Yes!!

But temporarily. And in hearts and minds. And in ways unnoticeable to most people. In the little things. In everyday temptations and sins. In the fear he places in our hearts. Is God the God of Paranoia? No! Paranoia is fear and confusion. These things are Satan's domain. These, and not LED lights on a bus, or company logos. 

Don't fear coincidence. Don't worry that you're putting your kids' souls at risk because you sent them to school on the wrong bus or because they're drinking Monster instead of Red Bull. Fear instead he who comes to kill the soul, as Jesus pointed out. But recognize, most of all, that even he, who comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy, is already defeated. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Books for the New Year

Heading into the new year with nothing to read? How about these recent releases?

The Ghost Box
Mike Duran


Reagan Moon -- paranormal reporter, terminal underachiever, and staunch cynic of the human race. The only ghosts he really believes in are the ones in his own head. But his world is about to get an upgrade. When Moon is hired by a reclusive tycoon to investigate the events surrounding his girlfriend's tragic death, he learns of an impending apocalypse about to flatten Los Angeles. Seems that the Summu Nura, ancient gods from a parallel dimension, are looking for a new stomping ground. And Hollyweird is ground zero. What's worse, Reagan Moon is the only one who can stop them. With the help of an occult archivist and a carefree guardian angel, Moon is forced to confront an invisible world of toxic parasites and dimensional outriders. But no amount of magic can save him from the monster that awaits... inside him.


Larry L. Deibert


Enlisted by an angel of God, eight humans are given the task of sending all earthbound ghosts to their final reward, be it Heaven or Hell. After dispatching the spirits from the battleship North Carolina, they are ferried to Masonboro Island, ostensibly a deserted barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. However, the island is not deserted; along with thousands of spirits, terrifyingly, four unsuspecting people on a camping trip will have their lives changed forever.

The Journal of Ezekiel Walker (Prequel to Walker's Vale)
John Zelenski

In the fall of 1945, just after Word War II, Ezekiel Walker has returned home on a furlough from his Civilian Public Service Unit. As Ezekiel tries to adjust back to life at the farm, strange and unexplainable events begin to occur at the homestead, and Ezekiel begins to experience visions and bizarre sightings. When a stranger suddenly arrives with promises to rebuild the small town of Walker's Vale and befriend the young Ezekiel, a portal to the supernatural is opened and lives will never be the same.

Blood for Blood Ben Wolf

What if a vampire got saved?

Calandra, an evangelist's daughter, is amazed to watch as Raven, a century-old vampire, develops faith. As Raven ceases to drink blood and becomes more human with each passing day, Calandra cannot deny her growing attraction to him even though she is being courted by another man.

Raven's newfound salvation is both a relief and a burden, as he encounters multiple vampire taboos and must overcome them. Just when Raven begins to get the hang of his new lifestyle, Calandra is attacked by bandits.

Will Raven revert to his old vampiric ways to save Calandra from certain death? Or will he rely on his faith in God to help him ransom Calandra from a new brand of evil more horrifying than he ever was as a vampire?

The Remaining Coming to Blu Ray and DVD

Highly-anticipated (around here, anyway) supernatural thriller The Remaining has an official release date. After a frustratingly limited theatrical release, the DVD and Blu Ray are expected to drop January 27, according to the Christian Film Database.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review: Rocky Gray's Accursed

Rocky Gray's instrumental solo effort, Accursed, is being called the "soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist." While I concur in part, the album is also so much more.

Accursed is horror-inspired instrumental music, in the vein of Midnight Syndicate. Gray creates soundscapes of a sort of terrifying beauty, while paying tribute to the genre he so enjoys. And tribute it is. Accursed plays like a sonic love letter to the horror films of past and present, never once copying any particular theme or style, yet recalling the feel and impact of soundtracks past.

The album starts off with "Cannibal," a hard rock piece of the style popular in modern zombie actioners. He continues this more metal horror style a few songs over, in "Undead," which recalls in particular the Resident Evil movies. Given Rocky's musical proclivities, it's hardly surprising to see the style featured here.

What may be surprising to listeners unfamiliar with his enormous body of work is the ease with which he also tackles more classic soundtrack themes. For example, immediately after "Undead," the title track winds up with a soft, if sharp and jarring, music box. Add in atmospheric keys, synth, and choir vocalizations, and you have a spooky and wonderful piece bringing to mind good ghost stories.

All the tracks are excellently crafted, but the standout for me is "Lovecraftian," in which the synth and drums produce an unmistakably 80s horror vibe. Instantly calling up gory classics like the later Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th sequels, the song is still very much its own creature. As with all the tracks on this album, Gray manages to carry a theme through the song without making it feel repetitive or boring.

Fans are used to Rocky Gray's work with great metal acts, and even a bit of gothic rock with Evanescence. With Accursed, Rocky Gray uses all the tools in his vast musical arsenal to bring about a creepy tour de force that is simultaneously nostalgic and exciting.

Small Bites with Rocky Gray

Metal musician and composer Rocky Gray, whose Accursed is currently available, sat down to answer our quick questions and help us get to know him a little better.

A Flame in the Dark: What is your favorite monster/horror icon?
Rocky Gray: There are some really great monsters throughout film history, I really don't have one that I could pinpoint and say THAT'S THE ONE. Lon Chaney Jr's Wolfman is great, to name just one.

AFitD: Favorite horror movie?
RG: That's always difficult for a real horror movie fan. The Exorcist, pretty much every John Carpenter film, Jeepers Creepers, Evil Dead II, Return of the Living Dead are all high on the list of favorites.

AFitD: Favorite author?
RG: Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft.

AFitD: Who is Jesus, to you?
RG: Jesus is the nicest, sweetest guy that ever existed. This guy is so cool he gives your soul a hug when your feeling blue. He can do some crazy stuff. Jesus is awesome.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Howlin' At The Moon: An Interview With Ben Wolf

Splickety editor and publisher Ben Wolf is a name familiar with many in the Spec-Fic industry, particularly among independents. His new book asks the question, "what if a vampire got saved." Always intrigued by vampires in Christian fiction, we asked Ben about his new novel, and whether he's planning on writing more horror in the future.

A Flame in the Dark: Well, let’s get right to it. Blood For Blood doesn’t pull any punches with its faith-based subject matter, and it’s a pretty interesting concept for a book. Can you tell us a little about it?

Ben Wolf: Thanks for having me, Randy. Blood For Blood is the story that explores the possibility of "what if a vampire got saved?" Raven, the main character, encounters Christian faith after having been a vampire for the past century. He chooses to turn what's left of his existence over to God, and God begins to sanctify him and transform him from being a vampire into being a human again.

Since vampires don't have souls, this sort of presents a theological problem. How can God save a soul that is already damned? Is he a God of his promises, a God who can do all things (Luke 1:37)? Blood For Blood explores those questions in a fun, tightly-paced action novel.

AFitD: I suppose there are a lot of interpretations to the vampire myth, i.e., what exactly makes a vampire a vampire. So rather than getting into the spiritual mechanics of just what Salvation looks like for the undead, tell us about yours. How much classical vampire mythology went into writing your character?

BW: I studying a lot of classic mythology and adapted what I could use for the novel. I think Raven and the other vampires in my story are about as close to being "true" vampires (the non-sparkly kind) as they could possibly be. They're traditional bloodsuckers, 10 times stronger than normal men, they can't tolerate sunlight, they can only be killed by a stake through the chest (or by sunlight), they hate garlic and Holy items (crosses, Bibles, other Christian relics) repel them, and the only way to end them once and for all is to cut their heads off and stuff their mouths with garlic--after you've staked them.

It's very difficult to bring something new to the vampire genre because so much has already been done to develop their fictional mythos. That's part of what inspired me to look back at their history so I could assess their traditional existence and give it new (unnatural) life in Blood For Blood. With that said, I did manage to conjure a new facet of vampire lore that I've never seen before (and I've encountered a LOT of vampire fiction and history), so I'm pretty proud of that as well. It's also a key feature of the story, especially with regard to the climax. I love it, and I think readers will too.

AFitD: This is your first novel, and an explicitly Christian vampire novel is quite the risk. So, first, an
obvious question: why vampires?

BW: Vampires have always intrigued me. I'm not old enough to have "grown up" with classic horror movies like Bela Lugosi's original Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr.'s Wolfman flicks, and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein movies, but I watched them as a kid and loved them. So the love of these types of stories has basically always been there. (Bonus shout-out to the Creature from the Black Lagoon.)

As for Blood For Blood, I actually didn't come up with the concept. My friend and fellow writer Matt Sheehy was talking about how hilarious it would be if a vampire got saved. He was jawing about how maybe a Christian vampire could help out with a tent revival, and how he'd have to use a hammer and big wooden stakes to secure the tent to the ground. The juxtaposition of the vampire using tools traditionally used to kill his kind to secure a tent to advance the Kingdom of God struck me, and the entire plot for my novel (well, almost all of it) blossomed in my head. I asked Matt for permission and he gladly granted it.

AFitD: How has Blood For Blood been received so far? Indie publishing being what it is, have you been pretty happy with how the book has gone down with readers?

BW: Of the folks who have read it, the response has been amazingly positive. all five-star reviews so far (as of when I'm typing this response) with the exception of one 4-star review, and she only ranked it low because she didn't think it was long enough. The book is 86,000 words, so I'm not sure what she considers "long enough," but whatever. I'm always looking for more reviewers, and I'll gladly send digital versions of the book to qualified reviewers for free if they're willing to talk me up.

Our mutual friend Carla Hoch asked me if I had stirred up any controversy over the book yet. Sadly, no, I haven't. I'm open to ideas on how to do that, though.

AFitD: What’s next for you, novel-wise? With interests all over the speculative fiction map (like many SpecFic readers), are you going to stay with paranormal and horror for the next book or move on to something else?

BW: I've got four other books written and mostly well-polished, but two of them are in a YA fantasy series that I need to update and smooth out before I'm ready to do anything with them. Another is my first novel, which is a supernatural/cyberpunk mashup with sword fighting and other mayhem, and the last one is a historical western. Of all of them, the western is in the best shape, but it doesn't fit my speculative "brand" at all, so it's shelved for now.

As for new projects, I am working on a solidly paranormal idea at the moment. It's an idea that just came to me, and it's awesome, so I know I have to write it. My agent, Julie Gwinn, is trying to sell my other works/ideas at the moment, though, so if one of those hits, then I'll obviously switch gears and work on that instead. Otherwise I'm editing novels and other writings for authors full-time and running Splickety as well.

AFitD: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work, Ben?
BW: If you want more information about me, visit You can find my book on there, information about how to book me as a speaker, and details on what I charge for editing. I'm happily booked through March of 2015 right now, but I'm actively looking for new clients, so I'm happy to review your work and see what I can do for you. I'm not cheap, but I'm very, very good, and I have the references to show that.

If you love flash fiction (or have a short attention span or don't have a lot of time to read) check out Splickety at We offer three flash fiction magazines available in print or digital format (including a speculative imprint). We've got some holiday deals coming out pretty soon as well, so if you want to get in on a subscription bundle a bit early that includes a digital copy of my book, email the words "Holiday Bundle" to

You can get all three magazines (digitally) plus my novel (also digitally) plus a variety of other goodies valued at $89 for only $19.95. It's a rare thing that we offer stuff like this, especially since the digital subscription to all three magazines is normally $24.95 on its own, so if you want a bunch of free stuff, now's the time.

Thanks for having me on, Randy.