DUSK AND SUMMER, by Joseph Pinto

I met Joe through friends of writer friends. He is a contributor to the esteemed Pen of the Damned writing collective, a friendly commentor on my blog, and has the sweet charm and humor found most purely in horror authors. He asked if I would host him as part of a blog tour to announce and celebrate the publication of his newest book, DUSK AND SUMMER, and I agreed because I like Joe, and I enjoy his work with Pen of the Damned. I didn’t know what to expect of DUSK AND SUMMER, but what I got was a new perspective on aging, life, and learning how to live with the specter of mortality.

If you haven’t read Joe’s guest post, please do! If you haven’t read DUSK AND SUMMER, you can puchase it here:

Amazon: US |UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil

CreateSpace | Smashwords

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes (Apple)

Joe is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Pancreatic Cancer

Please leave a review for Joe on Amazon or Goodreads!

xoxo,

-aniko


DuskAndSummerThere are two types of coming of age stories. The common one, with which we are all familiar, examines the psychological and emotional landscape of a boy becoming a man. The less common concerns the next great leap, a transition for which we have no name, but which happens when our parents pass away and we are left to understand a world in which we are the elders, the guardians, the guides. DUSK AND SUMMER, a novella by Joseph Pinto, is of the latter type.

In the forward, Pinto reveals that he lost his father to the ravages of pancreatic cancer. DUSK AND SUMMER is Pinto’s tribute to the man who loved, raised, and inspired him. It is a beautiful elegy that transcends the personal nature of the content to reveal something essential about life: DUSK AND SUMMER shows us the unselfish nature of love. Love, in Pinto’s narrative, is about shared moments as much as it is about knowing when to let go, and intuiting the wholeness that only death can restore. Eons ago, Epictetus advised  “never say about anything, I have lost it, but say I have restored it.” People of faith have ritual and community to guide them to acceptance. If there is a hereafter, then Omega is Alpha, and the only reason we cannot recognize that in the same dry, factual way in which we recognize the elements in the periodic table is because we are limited – locked into – our Now, our Here. The challenge of discovering faith in a “beyond” is the hallmark of this second, nameless coming of age. DUSK AND SUMMER is the story of moving to the acceptance that what is lost, who is lost, is restored to wholeness in a way we cannot rationalize, touch, or mentally conceive.

***Spoiler Alert! Some plot points are revealed in the next paragraph, but the true magic of the myth is preserved. You’ll love the way Pinto brings it all together, so get the book!***

Pinto presents his theory of this transition as a myth. Myth is the most natural means humans have to absorb ideas that exist outside of reason. DUSK AND SUMMER leads the protagonist, an intentionally unnamed Everyman, on a mystical  journey from the symbolically laden memories of the Tolten, a sunken ship, to the concrete locale of 141 Sea Cargo Drive. His dying father sent him there, with instructions to do what must be done. A woman of otherworldly beauty meets him on the beach. The protagonist understands, with a soul-shock, that he is tasked with helping her guide his father’s soul to the other side. Initially, he fights the idea of his father’s departure. This is the vestige of the child in him, crying and gripping his father’s trouser leg. It is this sentimental attachment that must give way to unselfish acceptance in the second coming of age. His father gave him everything he needs to enter the second stage of adulthood, and to honor all his father gave, the son must let go. The son fully takes on the strength which was in the father, and uses it to carry his father across the threshold to a new life. The end of a life, and of DUSK AND SUMMER, is bittersweet. The myth is completed, and the narrator arrives in the next phase of his maturity. DUSK AND SUMMER is a beautiful tribute, and a salve for all psyches battered by the loss of a beloved parent.


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The Writer’s Doldrums: A Guest Post by Joseph Pinto

 
 

Joseph Pinto, author.

Joseph Pinto, author.

Joseph Pinto is a speculative fiction author, a member of Pen of the Damned, and author of the modern myth, DUSK AND SUMMER. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to introduce you to Joe. His post, about curing the writer’s doldrums, is followed by cover blurb and purchase information for DUSK AND SUMMER. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of DUSK AND SUMMER are donated to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. 

-aniko


Cleansing a Writer’s Drain

A writer’s doldrums – we all get them.  They’re sneaky little critters, too, coming in all sorts of guises.  Latching on to normal everyday life, they sink their grubby claws into you just when you least expect it – and even if you did, it’s always at the worst possible time.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  A hectic schedule, stress from your job; even if you’re lucky enough to be a fulltime writer, the panic of meeting a deadline.  Responsibilities as a parent or spouse; the list is endless.  With life happening at the speed of…life, how does a writer keep their brain sharp, focused and uncluttered?  Is it even possible?  There may never be a reasonable or foolproof answer, but I’ll share something that’s worked for me: I turn into a plumber.

Say what?

Yes, a plumber.  Now please, don’t tell my wife because I can barely unclog our kitchen sink if need be, but there alone I’ve revealed my trick – I view my mind as though it were a drain.  I need to keep it filtered and free-flowing.  At the first sign of a clog, I’m all over it.  But trust me, it took a long time to figure out how to use my ‘mental plunger,’ and it’s not always the easiest thing to do.

It starts with an escape.  I’m fortunate to work from home, and my office serves as my sanctuary.  Those sneaky little critters (yes, those critters, oh how they love to cause a back-up!) detest any sign of routine cleansing.  I shake them off at the door, but it never comes without a fight.  As I said, once they sink their claws in, they’ll do all they can to distract; to detract.  If you suffer from critters as I sometimes do, shake them off, pull them off; hell, snap them off at the knuckles if need be.  If you can’t find salvation in your office or writing nook, then go for a walk, a drive, maybe even exercise.  Anything to step away from what might be attracting those critters in the first place.  You’ve got to get that proverbial water in your sink and flowing through your pipes; if it’s still going down slowly, then it’s time to figure out the true size of your clog.

Some clogs are an easy fix.  Once I rid myself of those critters, a few deep breaths while sitting in my office are all I need to get myself focused.  Yours might just be that walk or that drive.  But what if it’s not?  Critters can be awfully persistent.  Some have even evolved to survive beyond a ‘mental plungering.’  Those are the worst of the lot; attracted not to your daily trials and tribulations, but born from within, feeding and gnawing from deep inside your gut.  Those sneaky little critters are now something much worse; they’ve become parasites, infecting every ounce of you, downright malicious and destructive.  Sneaky little critters?  Oh no, not anymore…now full-fledged monsters of self-doubt.  A writer’s worst nightmare, believe you me.  A horribly slow, cruel death of your prose awaits if you don’t act.

Ahh, that’s when I employ my spiritual jetting.

Tiger’s eye is a protective stone, one that heals issues of self-worth and self-criticism.  It encourages creativity and positive energy.  I have two such stones carved and shaped as skulls atop my desk.  Actually, they rest just below my computer monitor.  Cheekbone to cheekbone they touch, infusing one with the other’s energy, staring out at me.  Before I write, I make sure to touch them.  Sometimes, I even place them against my chest for a minute before positioning them carefully back to their guardian positions.  My tiger’s eye skulls have helped cleanse those monsters from inside me, and from the moment I owned them, my drain has flowed smoothly since.  You can believe me or not, that’s up to you.  But sometimes you need to bring in the big guns.

I know that not everyone can get their hands on something created from tiger’s eye, and not everyone will be affected the same way I am by it, if at all.  I’m very open to it, and so for me, it’s worked.  But self-doubt is a terrible thing.  I suffered from it for a very long time and have no one but myself to blame for allowing it to hold me back.  There comes a point, however, when you need to learn and practice various little tricks to eliminate it – to take back your own power.  Those sneaky little critters are exactly that for a reason – they’re clever.  You need to outsmart them.

Me, I turned into a plumber.  It’s all about cleansing a writer’s drain.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Aniko, I greatly appreciate the opportunity!

You’re welcome, Joe! It was my pleasure!


DUSK AND SUMMER

DuskAndSummer

Does Heaven await beneath the waves? One man needs to know.

When his dying father whispers a cryptic message to him, he has no choice but to summon his courage and begin the quest of a lifetime. It’s a race against time to realize his father’s wish and fulfill his own destiny; it’s a discovery of the unbreakable bond between father and son. It’s a journey of the heart that unfolds where only the Chosen exist – in the moments between Dusk and Summer.

“A poignant, metaphoric conversation between son and father. A story that will warm your heart.”
–Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., bestselling author of The Ditchdigger’s Daughters

The author will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Pancreatic Cancer

Dusk and Summer is available at:

Amazon: US |UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil
CreateSpace | Smashwords
Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes (Apple)

The MONTAUK MONSTER Is Here!

Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

I’ve been a fan of Hunter Shea’s writing since the publication of his first novel, FOREST of SHADOWS. When Hunter asked me if I would like to help him promote his thriller, THE MONTAUK MONSTER,  I was ecstatic! Imagine being able to ask one of your favorite authors a question. Now imagine him answering – on your blog, no less! Well, that’s what’s happening for me here today.

Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea’s Official Website: http://huntershea.com/

Hunter Shea’s Twitter Handle: @HunterShea1

MONTAUK MONSTER on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/SheasMontaukMonaster

My Question:

Have you ever had a book that just felt stuck, or a time when you thought it might be “easier” to not be a writer?

(Okay, I really posed this question in about ten different ways in one breathless paragraph. I’ve abbreviated my intense fangirling it so you can get to the good stuff: Hunter’s answer!)

Hunter’s Answer:

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Not in the sense that you see in movies or read about where the world famous author just can’t come up with the next great novel. To me, writer’s block is a fancy way of saying a writer is either afraid (of rejection, success, criticism), tired or just plain lazy. By nature, writers have overactive imaginations. Truth be told, there isn’t enough time in a writer’s life to type out the ideas that float through our brains in a given month.

That in no way means writing is easy and consistent. It’s hard work, and sometimes, getting from start to end is a long, long slog. That spark of excitement you had at chapter one will most definitely begin to fizzle around chapter ten. Sooner or later, no matter how smoothly you think things are going, you’re going to get snagged by the mid-book-blues.

What happens during the mid-book-blues? For me, this is when the story takes on a life of its own, shaping itself into something I hadn’t quite anticipated. It’s at this moment when I realize I have written myself into some tight corners. It’s also usually when I start to lose faith in the entire endeavor.

Reading over the past several days’ work, I’m often known to mutter, “Oh Jeez, this is crap. What the hell was I thinking? Why on earth would anyone want to read this?” Confidence waning, I look ahead, knowing I have another 45,000 words to go. Are you kidding me? That’s 45,000 words to add to something that I’m dead sure is utterly worthless. I could be watching the Mets lose in extra innings, out with the kids at Starbucks or teaching my cat to stop peeing in our bathtub.

Since the publication of my first book, Forest of Shadows, back in 2011, I’ve written 7 novels. That’s seven times I’ve doubted myself and wanted to throw in the towel or tear my idea down and start anew. As nice as starting from scratch might seem, I have deadlines that don’t allow for a massive re-start.

So what do I do? I remind myself to stick with the instincts that got me started writing in the first place. Somehow, they were sharp enough to get me multiple book deals. The worst thing I can do is stop writing and allow myself time to lament. Lament is like Miracle-Gro for doubt. If you let doubt take root, the book is done, and quite possibly, your writing aspirations along with it.

Sometimes, I’ll head to the classics for inspiration, re-reading The Sun Also Rises or I Am Legend (a book every horror writer should hold near and dear). Great writing makes me want to write. And if you read great writing, your own writing will improve.

Rewards help too. It could be as simple as, “If you get through this chapter, you can sit back with a cold beer.” Or, “Finish the next 5,000 words and you can binge watch Orange is the New Black with the better half.” Just remind yourself that you are a writer, and writers write, which implies finishing what you started.

When I started writing The Montauk Monster last year, I was supercharged. This was my first chance to write a thriller that would be out in paperback all over the country. I plowed through the first 20,000 words like it was nothing. Then, my father passed away. The family was devastated. I kept at the manuscript but my heart wasn’t in it. I suddenly didn’t think my crazy idea could get me to the finish line. Worse, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to get there.

I thought of my father and how proud he was that I had become a writer. The man was the biggest reader I ever met and I always secretly believed he wanted to be a writer – and would have been a hell of an author. That lit the fire under my ass and infused belief in what I was trying to create. I attacked that manuscript with the same ferocity as the maniacal creatures I had conjured. I almost didn’t want it to end.

Every book will come with its own struggles. It’s up to you, the writer, to find the strength to plow through them.

My Reaction:

This amazing writer is a human being! He has a cat! He has a bathtub and watches television and likes one of my favorite books (THE SUN ALSO RISES). Hes’s also written an astounding SEVEN (7!!!) novels in less than five years. That is a lofty achievement, made all the more impressive given that Hunter endured – and overcame – the virulent doubt that plagues writers. Here, though, here’s what really speaks to me:  Hunter completed MONTAUK MONSTER despite suffering an intensely personal loss. He didn’t give up, didn’t break under the weight of his grief or the resurgence of doubt. Instead, Hunter found the strength to finish his book. When I read MONTAUK MONSTER, it will be in honor of Hunter’s father, a reader who raised an amazing writer!

xoxo,

-aniko

Publisher’s Weekly Praises MONTAUK MONSTER!

Publisher’s Weekly named THE MONTAUK MONSTER one of the best summer books of 2014! Not only that, they gave it an awesome review. Here’s a snippet:

The urban mythologies of the Montauk Monster and the government labs on Plum Island unite to cause staggering levels of mayhem when mutant animals with toxic blood descend on a Long Island town. This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley. — PW

 

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Welcome to the Swamp! Monster! Massacre!

It was a Friday when I started reading Swamp Monster Massacre. The day hadn’t been stellar; I was supposed to meet friends for lunch, and I got so lost, I ended up missing lunch and just heading back to the office with a soggy sandwich from a nearby cafe. To cheer myself up, I decided to take a quick peek at Hunter Shea’s newest novella. An hour later, I remembered where I was. I sent Hunter an email telling him I was strongly considering spending the afternoon reading – even if it meant I got fired. Swamp Monster Massacre is that good. I can’t think of another book that keeps such a frenetic pace and still tells a riveting story that hangs together better than a band of angry swamp apes. I ended up getting back to work (and, yes, staying late to make up the time I lost driving around who-knows-where-Austin)…. but the story had me in thrall. Horror fans, rejoice! Swamp Monster Massacre is the action-adventure blood’n’guts fix you’ve been craving! 

Adopt a swamp ape!

Read a preview & get a chance to win a monster!

Swamp Monster Massacre Blog Tour Info – lots of blogs to visit!

He resembled every childhood nightmare of the bogeyman, except this one murdered the monster under your bed.

How bad do things have to be for the bogeyman to be the good guy? That is the question posed by Hunter Shea in Swamp Monster Massacre. The answer is a swift tour of an Everglades hell that includes violently severed limbs, a rotten stench, a masterfully disgusting combination of necrophilia and bestiality, and death. Lots of death. Swamp Monster Massacre is a breathless amalgam of action and horror with a higher than average gore content, but it is also an examination of the dark nature of revenge.

***

Rooster has a temper. A damn bad temper that’s caused him to put his fist through another man’s skull. Sure, it wouldn’t have killed the guy if he hadn’t done all that blow and rotted his own skull, but the simple fact is that Rooster killed a drug kingpin’s son. And what are drug kingpins notorious for if not avenging the death of their own? Rooster’s got a problem.

He’s also got a bag of money and a bigger bag of guns.

Rooster’s on the run in Florida, and he ends up on a pier. A amphibious tour plane is docked at the end, loaded up with tourists waiting to get a bird’s eye view of the Everglades. They get Rooster instead; Rooster and a barrage of bullets fired by angry drug dealers.

The passenger manifest is varied. There are two co-eds, blonde as the Doublemint twins and  trained in Marine combat technique. A pair of slickly groomed guys from NYC are tough talkers. A couple of empty-nest snow-birds are trying to rekindle their romance. There’s a dork, skipping out on a conference. The guest list is rounded out by the grizzled pilot, who is no longer captain of his airship. Throw in Rooster with his guns, and things are about to get wild.

All of these characters have names, but there isn’t any need to know names in this story. Not only are names meaningless when fighting for your life, they are also meaningless if you lose that fight. Lots of characters lose, but not because they mutiny against Rooster and cause the plane to crash.

They lose because they crash land in the territory of the skunk apes, reeking beasts eight-feet tall and twice a brutal. These are the titular swamp monsters, and they live up to their terrifying name and stench. They hunt the humans, employing amazing battle tactics that will leave you in  awe of both Shea’s inventiveness and his ability to make even the insanely bizarre believable.

(((( SPOILER ALERT: Read at own risk! ))))

(((( To read, left click and drag mouse over white space. ))))

The swamp monsters aren’t just picking on the humans because they have trespassed. They are attacking for revenge. When the plane crashed, it mauled and killed a swamp monster child. Mommy is mad, and all the child monster’s big brothers and sisters have joined Mommy’s hunt. This echoes the kingpin’s henchmen slavering to kill Rooster because he accidentally murdered one of their own. When it comes down to bloody revenge, no one in this book comes out looking any better than a monster. One of the NYC boys is taken by the swamp monsters early, and his friend becomes a blind instrument of revenge, taking stupid chances that cost him his life. Shea doesn’t sugar coat his view on revenge: it turns you into an animal. A stupid animal.

If you like monster stories, action movies, and some really fun lines, this is an excellent book for you. The point of view hops between characters, which prevents you from getting too invested in any one scenario, but that plays into the frenetic tempo of the tale well enough that it is a strength rather than a fault. Like the single-minded intent of revenge, Swamp Monster Massacre is a fast-paced read that doesn’t let up.

Click here to buy the book!

Gleefully Scheme of Malevolent Things

Early in May, I got an email from Michelle of Red Adept Press. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in participating in the blog tour for Edward Lorn’s horror novel, Dastardly Bastard. I opened the Reviewer Pack and read less than three paragraphs of the novel before I replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!”  My job was to read the book, write a review, and post it on the 28th of June – today! At this point, I can say three things with certainty:

1. Michelle  is awesome, organized, and friendly!

2. Dastardly Bastard should be on your To Read list. Now.

3. There is a giveaway with tons of cool stuff you can win! To enter, all you need to do is follow this link and scroll down to the Rafflecopter form. Like the Bastard’s Facebook page to unlock more options to earn raffle points!


Gleefully Scheme: My Review of Dastardly Bastard

Memory is emotional shrapnel. If you’re lucky, it causes only occasional discomfort. If you’re unlucky, a fragment breaks loose, tearing and damaging.

The characters in Edward Lorn’s novel, Dastardly Bastard, are haunted by memory.  Mark is a photojournalist, tormented by the deaths he has photographed. Donald is an author, who lost his beautiful girlfriend to an act of random violence.  Lyle has lost his father to illness. Jaleel has lost his job, and his mind. Justine has lost her grandmother, Nana Penance, but gained the love of her life, Trevor.

All of them are going to Waverly Chasm for a guided trail hike. They aren’t alone. Something in the chasm feeds off of the emotional energy generated by reliving bad memories.  Something in the chasm can create alternate realities, trapping people in their darkest memories. One by one, the thickening malevolence separates the hikers, eventually taking Trevor from Justine.

That was the bastard’s first mistake.

The second was letting Justine inside the darkness, because she isn’t going to loose the man she loves. Neither her own personal hell nor twisted visions of her Nana will keep her from Trevor.  Justine brings the fight to the darkness, and in the process learns the connection between the evil in the chasm, a boy’s soul trapped there, and her own abilities.

Dastardly Bastard does not want for either action or creepiness, and Lorn manages to include plenty of both with unique verve. If that’s all Dastardly Bastard did, it would be a good book. Lorn takes things farther, though, by writing characters so very human, so very fallible, that you can’t help but connect to the human drama.

Dastardly Bastard isn’t good: it’s very good.

In fact, my only complaint is a nitpick that boils down to personal preference. In one pivotal scene, a monstrous amalgam of hikers is used as a weapon against two of the characters. In comparison to the horrifying nature of being confronted with their own bad memories, the amalgam-monster feels less intense, and therefore less compelling. My preference would have been to nix the amalgam-monster, and yet Lorn puts the incident to such good use, I’m inclined to point out, again, my nitpick says more about how I like to be scared than about any true weakness in the book itself. In fact, there’s a laugh-out-loud mix up between “mouses” and “houses” that makes the amalgam-monster scene one of my favorite in the book.  Go on, get the book – you know you want to know what in the world I’m talking about here!

Memory is a dastardly bastard, but it is also our connection to how we became who we are. Lorn examines the damage memories do, but the point of Dastardly Bastard is that no matter how bad a memory is, there are other, good memories from which we can draw strength. If you enjoy your adventure stories spiked with darkness, then you don’t want to miss Edward Lorn’s Dastardly Bastard.

You’ll never see guided hiking trails the same again!

Bastard! Links!

Dastardly Blog Tour Page  –> Giveaway! Twitter follows unlock extra points!

Buy it on Amazon!

Buy it on Amazon, UK style!

Buy it on B&N!

Buy it on Smashwords!

Lorn! Contact!

Ruminating On:  (Lorn’s Blog) or on Twitter as @EdwardLorn!