KANA COLD: Case of the False Incubus (Sample #1)

This is a rough draft sample from the upcoming novella KANA COLD: Case of the False Incubus coming this May for Amazon Kindle.



Colors and shapes formed before his eyes. The harsh red grew brighter from the center while the corners of his vision pulsated with blobs of auburn and splashes of ochre floating from the edges. A black dot, no larger than a pinprick, pierced the red and then grew, second by second, turning and morphing as it expanded, chewing away at the center of his sight. A pressure built up at the back of his skull and then thinned itself out down the length of his neck and spine. He wanted to speak out, to tell AJ to stop the experiment, but his lips didn’t move nor could he summon the breath to form a word if they did. He was a slave to this inner dimension, and a passenger, the destination unknown.

You dare?

The voice came from behind the white noise. Not quite man or beast, but something in between, coarse and deep.

You do not understand what you are doing, do you?

With each syllable the voice grew louder, the power of it shooting a stabbing pain through Mark’s temples. There was no doubt this was the creature that haunted his little girl.

Speak little man! Speak or leave!

Mark felt a tickle in his throat, like a spiky ball scratching at his esophagus. A bundle of words ached to challenge this bastard, and he’d force them through his lips despite the pain.

“Leave her alone,” he warned. “My daughter… she is not for you.”

You’ll have to do better than that.

The incubus laughed, it’s bellowing chuckle pounding the inside of his skull. Mark could make out the outline of a chin, and then a nose, later the furrows of a forehead, all sketched by the floating black mass swirling in his mind’s eye.

“Who are you? What do you want with my daughter?”

Oh, you want me to tell you my name, is that it? You are a foolish, pitiful little creature who dabbles in what you don’t understand as if you have authority here. Of all places, here!

“You invaded my home, I invade yours,” Mark said, not bowing to the spirit’s threatening voice. “I am ordering you to leave my daughter, leave my home, leave my family in peace.”

Peace? Your family has never known peace. I have watched you all—yes, for some time—watched as you and your wife squabble and ignore your child. I’ve watched as you fumbled together in the night, her passion that of a slug, trying to create another child that will never be. Your home is one you can barely afford. Day after day you toil at a meaningless job and come home to a loveless marriage and a daughter you have no hopes of understanding. But I do. Oh, yes, I understand her completely. It’s why I chose her. It’s why she’s mine. She is special; a diamond hewn from the most unspectacular mounds of coal, and she will serve me in any way I choose.

“No!” Mark howled. “I told you to leave! Leave my daughter alone! Or, I swear to God—”

God? The monster laughed. He has no power here. He left you long ago as you left him. Your threats are as impotent as you are. But those who you brought with you are making this harder than it should be. I’ll just have to… adjust.

“What does that mean?”

Time is up.

Top Ten FREE Action Adventure Books For Spring 2018

Top Ten FREE Action Adventure eBooks for Spring 2018

The action adventure genre is heating up in the ebook world. If you’re looking for something new and fresh, there are plenty of options available as the spring showers necessitate a good book!

Here are the Top Ten FREE Action Adventure/Fantasy eBooks as the weather gets warmer and sitting under the stars with a good book becomes a possibility again.

The Captive (Griffin Force #1)

The Captive (Griffin Force #1) by Julie Coulter Bellon

Dark Waters: A Deborah Jones Thriller by J.B. Turner

Dark Waters: A Deborah Jones Thriller by J.B. Turner
Pitch Black: A Romantic Thriller

Pitch Black: A Romantic Thriller by Elise Noble
The Liftsal Guardians

The Liftsal Guardians by Alexandra Moody

Secret Memories: A Gripping Mystery

Secret Memories: A Gripping Mystery by J. S. Donovan
Sign Off (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1)

Sign Off (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1) by Patricia McLinn
The Naughty List

The Naughty List by Perrin Briar
The Fireproof Girl (Sophie Shields Book 1)

The Fireproof Girl (Sophie Shields Book 1) by Loretta Lost
Lost Wolf (Curse of the Moon Book 1)

Lost Wolf (Curse of the Moon Book 1) by Stacy Claflin
Secrets: The Hero Chronicles (Volume 1)

Secrets: The Hero Chronicles (Volume 1) by Tim Mettey

Ten Things Modern Readers Really Hate

Ten Things Modern Readers Really Hate

Today’s average reader is not the same as those who were considered bookworms thirty years ago or even ten years ago. The industry itself has changed quite a bit and with the advent of audiobooks, the rise of ebooks, the indie author revolution, and the changing tastes in genres every decade or so, there are some pet peeves that today’s readers have specific to this era.

We take a minute to look at ten things modern readers really hate.

10. Unhappy Endings

While in the horror genre this is pretty much expected, your romance novel should likely not end with the protagonist not getting it on with the hunky bartender or her husband finding out about her affair and murdering her. There’s also the trend lately of scifi and fantasy stories (we’re looking at you George R. R. Martin) killing off loads of main characters which can leave a bad taste in the mouth. It can be effective to have a bad ending but too many books seem to want this edge where it’s really not needed.

9. Inconclusive Series

You’ve read fifteen books in this series. You’ve stuck with this author even though books five and six were a bit shaky. You’ve invested in these characters over months, sometimes years, and now we’re getting to the ending and … there are still six or seven plot threads left unanswered. This is probably something we should eradicate entirely from the literary world simply out of the frustration it causes readers.

8. Cliffhangers

cliffhangersThis one ties into number 9 but since it happens more often due to simple mathematics it goes higher on the list. Many series tend to have cliffhangers and while you’ll read a good amount of book reviews that complain about them, they are effective in getting audiences to read the next book in the series. Personally, I have vowed to not use cliffhangers unless it serves a purpose, and even then limit it to maybe one or two books I may ever write again.

7. Author Names Bigger Than The Title

Now, unless you’re Stephen King or someone on that level, your name shouldn’t eclipse the title of the book (according to many readers). It’s confusing, especially if you’re a new author or an author not widely known. Is that the name of the main character or is that the author? Many readers feel you have to earn that kind of book cover.

6. Vague Amazon Reviews

Vague Amazon ReviewsWe know not everyone has the time to craft a 1,000 word review of the book going over every detail. I appreciate anyone who leaves a review for one of my books, it’s the most helpful thing to any author. Readers on the other hand have told me some of the less-detailed reviews of books aren’t very helpful when they’re trying to decide whether or not to download or purchase a book.

5. Movie Poster Book Covers

We’ve all seen them. Whether it’s The Martian or Annihilation, a book that’s been around for a while gets a new edition where the cool cover from before is replaced with the face of some Hollywood actor. To avid readers, that’s about as enticing as bug spray is to a fly. Yes, Matt Damon is a handsome man and we know you’re proud there’s a movie made from this book and most of the unwashed masses who don’t read wouldn’t be able to make to connection … it still doesn’t keep readers from finding it annoying.

4. Too Much Description

This is one that I personally as an author take issue with. However, I believe (or hope) this is not readers complaining about detailed prose where you get into the psyche of a character or flesh out an environment or scene. After all, the ability to use words and invoke emotional responses or spark imaginations is the entire point of writing novels in the first place. I believe this is should probably be called Unnecessary Description where the author is going into great detail about a ping pong ball and how it bounces across the table. That’s fine if the ping pong ball is important, but if it isn’t, you’re just wasting time. And God, how many times to do we need to read about someone detailing every aspect of a tree?

3. Clichés

I’ve gone on extensively about the rise of what I call Hack Publishing, which is often confused with Writing To Market which is more about finding the right genre to write your book in. Hack writing is more about ripping off someone else’s work or using cliches in a genre with NO twist to them whatsoever. How many Edward Cullen clones have you read in the last ten fantasy/romance/adventure books starring teenage girls who are infatuated with them for no reason, and he’s a vampire?

2. InstaRomance

InstaRomanceSpilling over from number 3 is the InstaRomance: the overwhelming tendency for the lead character (usually female) to fall completely and madly in love with the mysterious bad boy for no reason whatsoever. It has been done for eons. Some will argue that you clearly can’t give the entire backstory to a romance in a 300 page novel. However, modern readers seem to be souring to the InstraRomance these days.

1. Bad Editing/Formatting

Perhaps the biggest hindrance to the self publishing world, and even in some cases the traditional publishing world, is bad editing and book formatting. Believe me, I’ve experienced this first hand and as a writer there’s nothing more annoying than when you’re first publishing, give it to an editor (or two), and accept their changes ONLY to find out from friends, your mailing list readers, or even worse from a review on Amazon that there are spelling and grammar errors. What did you pay the editor for?

In traditional publishing, it tends to go more to formatting than spelling and grammar. Some books just aren’t well produced (text is too small or too big for instance). It is perhaps the single most important thing to get right and readers do notice. Some claim not to care but a good scan of 2-star and 3-star reviews of many books today will reveal how many readers are actually infuriated by bad editing and formatting.

What are your pet peeves as a reader? Let your voice be heard in the comment box below or by sending us an email at contact@aoestudios.com.

Is The Horror Revival Skipping the Book Market?

Yes, I’m a horror author so let’s get that out there right away. What that means is I’m particularly biased when it comes to the subject of horror fiction and its place in popular culture.

While the last few years have seen various increases in what some would consider horror, or let’s call it genre fiction for now, there may be a corner of the mainstream that’s surprisingly lacking in this area.

Sure, Netflix has quite a few popular hits with series like Stranger Things (which isn’t quite horror but dives into that realm), Black Mirror (sci-fi psychological horror), and a slew of independent horror films that people either love or laugh at. And yes, in over the last few years films like Get Out, Don’t Breathe, The Conjuring franchise, and the remake of Stephen King’s IT has all renewed an interests in genre fiction beyond the formulaic hack-n-slash or torture porn seen in prior eras.

On place this resurgence isn’t hitting is, amazingly enough, in horror novels. Searching through Amazon.com’s list of Top 100 horror books and ebooks you’ll notice quite a few titles but there’s more than meets the eye here.

Joe Hill
Author Joe Hill

Firstly, unless you’re Stephen King or his son Joe Hill there aren’t too many other authors selling a large number of books. You do have indie mavericks like Willow Rose who have managed to carve out a good spot for herself on sheer volume of titles alone but then there’s the rest of us (yes, I include myself here now that I have two published works out) who haven’t quite caught on yet.

One might think because genre fiction is so en vogue now that the book market would be raking in the cash. Not so much. Of course the question is why.

There’s no one thing really. On Amazon and other online ebook retailers there are a flood of indie authors in the genre like myself. However, unlike other genres, the horror indie author community hasn’t quite gotten on board with the standards the other genres have. We don’t really have a standard book cover style that is guaranteed to sell, the covers are all over the place. Some are great, some look like they were done by a third-grader with crayon. The content is another story.

I’ve read quite a few reviews of even the top selling books from readers saying that the stories are all the same. The trend is towards ghosts stories, haunted houses, and of course the zombie apocalypse. There are a few gems out there that do something fresh (I read quite a few reviews if you couldn’t tell) but there seems to be a general been-there-done-that attitude.

We have left the age of the New Weird and entered an era that I can’t really describe. Horror fiction was known for being innovative and for a time was a top selling genre. Mavericks like Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and Ramsey Campbell gave us fresh takes and fresh ideas in the past. While Campbell and Koontz continue to put out books Barker has all but disappeared and many other authors have gone silent as well. My latest trip to the bookstore came with no trip to the horror section because there was no horror section.

Even on Amazon if you look in the top 100 there are quite a few books under “horror” that aren’t horror books at all. They’re not genre fiction either. They’re slightly paranormal and use the tag to get a top 100 ranking in a field that is woefully understocked.

Of course, I aim to do my part over the next few years to add something to the genre. My greatest desire, even more than having a successful bestseller or recognition (which anyone who pays attention can tell I really don’t want), is to give readers a new experience. If readers say they’ve gotten something that wasn’t the same old stuff they’ve read and they thoroughly enjoyed what I wrote then that’s the best compliment I can get as an author.

While I enjoy this new revival in genre fiction for pop culture, I’m hoping it touches the book industry sooner than later.

Why Are So Many Indie Author Gurus Talking About Originality Lately?

I talk quite often about originality and the unfortunate way that word is almost treated with contempt in certain indie publishing circles.

Over the last couple of months I have also seen quite a number of prominent indie publishing gurus write articles and record videos about the subject, mostly in terms again of treating it as a pejorative.

“Don’t worry about being original!”

“It’s not that important”

“It’s not copying, it’s paying homage to …”

Now, while these statements all grade on my last nerve they aren’t entirely without truth behind them. If we really want to look at what is original there is a case to be made that no story created today is original. In fact, I’d consider it an impossibility. Just about every variation of mythos has already been created centuries before the printing press. In the digital age where there’s a Democracy of Publishing aka Self Publishing it goes without saying that you’ll see themes and myths repeated.

That part I don’t disagree with at all. However, that’s not what the issue is with most of the people I see playing defense on the whole originality issue.

Original Myths vs. Original Stories

A myth, or even a trope, are at the core of storytelling. Girls meets boy, stranger comes to town, the hidden world undiscovered: all of these themes and a few others are the basis of every single story you’ll ever read, watch, or play. Unless someone discovers a new aspect of reality we’re likely to not have a new myth emerge in our lifetime.

There’s a difference between that and original stories. Telling a story is how we achieve something fresh (which is more important and often confused with originality) in modern fiction. You can take a theme or a myth and tell your own personal story using it as a template. For instance, if your story is about an affair between a wife and a circus clown, you have a unique story based on a tried-and-true myth.

Where there seems to be an issue, and it’s appearing more and more in customer reviews on Amazon for books lately, is when a story is basically following the same story beats and using very similar characters (only slightly altered) as popular books, movies, comics, or even video games.

Defending that with the “nothing is original” excuse is transparent and annoying.

It’s Not Everybody

Edward Cullen from TwilightBy no means are most of the prominent indie authors doing this however. Many are creating their own versions and variations of established myths and tropes. They write to a particular genre but the story they’re telling doesn’t feel like you’ve read it before. Nor are they using characters (the Hermione Granger character type is so overused now it’s giving me a headache) that have been established in other series or novels and just inserting them in their own story.

There’s a big difference between The Bad Boy trope and blatantly taking Edward Cullen from Twilight, changing his name to Jorge, having his skin sparkle, and basically go through the same plot points. Some of this stuff borders on parody while others come extremely close to plagiarism.

Write Your Own Stuff

I’m not going to say whether or not someone is or isn’t a true writer or an artist. Being a talented artist and being an original artist aren’t divorced from one another. The fine art world has a history of talented painters doing recreations of other artist’s work.

However, trying to deflect an obvious lack of creativity by saying “nothing is original so it’s no big deal” is lazy and damages the reputation of the indie author community as a whole. A book cover is different. That’s marketing and not the creative. The content of your story is an entirely different thing.

I’ve already read Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Carrie, The Davinci Code, and countless other popular books. I’ve already seen Star Wars, Star Trek, Iron Man and so on. I’ve played Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid, Halo, and plenty of other games. I don’t want to re-read it in a book I went on a limb to download or, even worse, paid for. Give me the story that you came up with and not some cobbled together rip off of something that’s already been sold and told a thousand times over.

Top Ten FREE Horror eBooks for Winter 2017

Top 10 Horror EBooks Winter 2017

Need some fun and terrifying reading for the cold months of winter? Looking for a break from the holiday cheer to dive into something more naughty than nice?

Here are Top Ten FREE Horror eBooks you can read during the cold, snowy months of winter in 2017. Ranging from deteriorating zombies to night devils to post-apocalyptic horror, these creepy stories will chill your bones much more than the below freezing temperatures outside!

Rotten Bodies

Rotten Bodies by Steven Jenkins

Dead Days: Season One

Dead Days: Season One by Ryan Casey
The Priest of Blood

The Priest of Blood by Douglas Clegg
The Lost Orphans

The Lost Orphans by J.S. Donovan

Miss Polly Had A Dolly

Miss Polly had a Dolly by Willow Rose
The Black Parade

The Black Parade by Kyoko M
Empty Bodies by Zach Bohannon

Empty Bodies by Zach Bohannon
Suicide Forest

Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

Tempt by Claire Farrell
The Dark Verse

The Dark Verse by M. Amanuensis Sharkchild