Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Greetings constant reader.

As you may have observed, this blog has been spotty, almost from the day of conception. 
I started it after my father passed away in 2009...and it did OK.
Then my only child, my son, got in a car wreck in 2010 and died a month and a day later. He was in a coma from the time he hit the hospital until he passed.
Then my mother's dementia got worse...and worse...and she passed in May of 2014.
I've moved four times...and finally come to the realization I've been battling depression and anxiety my entire life.

I've got remitting/recurring MS on top of everything else...and am currently mostly bed ridden.

I don't tell you these things because I'm looking for sympathy.
I tell you these things to explain the irregularity of posting to this blog. I've got some novels in the pipeline to review and will do my best to post them soon. I'll also be posting other news as conditions warrant.

Yes, this has been a rocky road, but it's starting to smooth out. Thanks for being patient with me.

Monday, July 6, 2015

13 Questions with...James Newman


1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
     That feeling of having all the time in the world to do whatever you want to do.  There were no boundaries, no limits.  The clock wasn't going to "run out", eventually.  The day-to-day worries and responsibilities of adulthood . . . it all seemed incomprehensible, a lifetime away.   Your loved ones weren't going anywhere, and you'd be together for a long, long time, everyone healthy and carefree.

2. You're hosting a dinner party. What is the menu? Do you cater or make it yourself?
     Spaghetti.  And my wife makes it (are you kidding?  I'm useless in the kitchen, would probably scorch a can of tuna). 

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
      Not really, other than buying books obsessively.  But I'm a reader, not a collector.  I have a two or three shelves stocked with signed limited editions, but for the most part I prefer an old dog-eared copy over a pricey edition that makes me feel like I should wear gloves if I get anywhere near it.  I'll also pick up a comic book now and then, usually horror stuff or the occasional Batman title.  But I'm definitely not a "collector".   

4. You're about to walk the Green Mile. What do you have for your last meal?
     My wife's spaghetti and a single glass of Jack-n'-Diet-Pepsi.

5. Physical book VS. an E- reader. Your preference and why?

       Physical book, all the way.  I don't care for reading more than news-feeds or Facebook on a computer screen, cellphone, Kindle, whatever.  I understand why it appeals to many people -- and my own aversion to e-readers doesn't prevent me from publishing my own work in that format! -- but it's not for me.  Give me the feel of an old-fashioned book any day.  I even love the way they smell.

6. What are you currently reading?
      PROMISE NOT TO TELL by Jennifer McMahon, and AVENUE X by Nancy Collins (one of my all-time favorite short story writers).

7. What musical artist are you currently into?


       Been listening to a lot of John 5's work lately.  Oddly enough, I've never been a fan of show-offy instrumental solo albums, but this guy blows me away.  He's such an amazing guitarist.  While I do enjoy a few songs from Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson (the latter more-so than the former), I think Mr. 5 is wasting his talent when he aligns himself with those bands.  He's so much better than that.

8. Do you have a hidden talent?
       I'm actually a pretty decent shot if you put a basketball in my hands.  Especially long shots, beyond the 3-point line.  Don't guard me, though.  Just let me throw it in the basket, uncontested.   LOL

9. What is your favorite word?
     Acetaminophen. 

10. What is your current desktop wall paper?


       A picture of Batman brooding.  I'm a huge fan of the Bat, like I mentioned before.

11. You're at a Chinese buffet. What goes on your plate?    
     Oh, man, I love Chinese.  Definitely two or three egg rolls, some crab Rangoon (sp?), some rice, and sweet n' sour chicken.  You've got me in the mood for Chinese now.  Think I'll have that for dinner tonight . . . .

12. What kinds of books make up your personal library?
     98% of it is horror and suspense, but then there's the occasional comic book . . . a few nonfiction book about movies, crime, or the craft of writing . . . even some humor.  My readers might be surprised to learn that I'm a pretty big Jodi Picoult fan too.  I know Picoult's got a reputation for being Oprah Book Club kinda stuff, but I've loved her work ever since I read THE PACT.  The human element in her stories is what hooks me.  

13. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
     Tell a good story.  Don't try too hard to impress.  Poetic prose will come, without forcing it.  It's all about the flow.  Most readers want you to tell them a good STORY, first and foremost.  Don't bore your reader.  Write a story so enthralling that you wouldn't be able to put it down unless someone was holding a gun to your head . . . and the folks who buy your work won't be able to put it down either.

Friday, June 19, 2015

13 Questions with JD Barker


1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
I think it’s the wonder of not knowing. As children, we can look out over a large body of water and wonder what is on the other side, we wonder what is under it, we wonder what it’s like to swim above and below it. As an adult, we know all these answers. There is a magic in learning but I think the greater magic can be found in not knowing and allowing your imagination to fill in the blanks.

2. You're hosting a dinner party. What is the menu? Do you cater or make it yourself?
My wife is a vegetarian and I am not, however, she has gotten really good at tricking me. Last night we had tacos made from something called “crumbles” which tastes just like real beef. When people visit, she tends to roll out these culinary delights. She has done the same with pizza and meatloaf. So, catering is out and healthy, home-cooking is in.

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
I love old timepieces. I have a large collection of old watches, clocks, and hourglasses.

4. You're at a carnival. Favorite attraction and why?
Roller-coasters. I love a good adrenaline filled scare. I occasionally go skydiving, a good roller-coaster is the closest thrill I’ve found on the ground. Sometimes, they’re even better. If you’re ever in Ohio, check out the Millennium Force at Cedar Point.

5. Physical book VS. an E- reader. Your preference and why?
Oh boy, this is a question of much debate at our house. My wife firmly believes in only reading printed editions and I tend to lean toward e-readers. In my defense, I read a lot, on average 3-5 books per week both fiction and non-fiction. While we both like the smell and feel of a real book (I’ve been known to walk into a bookstore just to get a whiff of that scent), I’ve been spoiled by the convenience of e-readers. I can pull out my iPhone and read books from Kindle, Kobo, or Nook anywhere, anytime. And I do read anywhere, even if just waiting in the checkout line at the store. I’m also a huge fan of audiobooks. I listen to them whenever in the car or out exercising.
6. What are you currently reading?
Not sure if you heard the news, but the Stoker family has asked me to co-author a prequel to Dracula (http://jdbarker.com/j-d-barker-signs-on-to-co-author-prequel-to-dracula-with-dacre-stoker-draculabegins/), so lately I have been reading all things vampire both past and present. I recently just finished The Vampyre by John Polidori and the original Dracula. I’m currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kosova and Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty. I’m also digging through a substantial pile of material from Bram Stoker, both published and private.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?
I don’t listen to as much music as I probably should, particularly since I discovered audiobooks. If I listen to music at all, it’s usually a movie soundtrack. Lately I’ve been listening to the soundtracks for Interview With a Vampire and Mockingjay.

8. Do you have a hidden talent?
I love to build things and renovate old houses.

9. What is your favorite word?
Fiction. It allows you to visit places you’ve never been, meet new people, and experience thrills that reach far beyond our day-to-day lives.
10. What is your current desktop wall paper?
I typically don’t change my wallpaper, I have a boring black background. I do have a note taped to my monitor with the tagline for the new Dracula book: “Beneath Every Penned Fiction Lies a Truth”.

11. You're at a Chinese buffet. What goes on your plate?
Everything. Then I get another plate. I never seem to get full on Chinese food but I enjoy trying.

12. What kinds of books make up your personal library?
At this point, I have over a thousand books made up of nearly every genre. We tend to get hardcovers for everything we read (including the ones I read on my e-reader) and sign/date the back when we finish them. We ask borrowers to do the same. It’s fun to pick up a book and see everyone who has read it over the years. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid so the library has grown tremendously over the years.

13. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
I know you’ve probably heard this numerous times but you need to write daily. It really is necessary to succeed at the craft. In addition, your heart must be in it. If you take on a writing project and you’re not dedicated 100% to the topic, the reader will know. Here are two tips I tend to live by:
  • I outline my next book while I’m writing the current one. This way, I don’t have any downtime between projects.
  • I never leave my desk unless I know the next sentence I plan to write. Then, when I sit back down, I hit the ground running. If I stop writing for the day because the characters have nothing else to say, I’ll find myself staring at a blank screen the next day waiting for inspiration to hit.
On a related note, listen to those characters, even if it causes you to stray from your outline – they know what they’re talking about.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Author JD Barker to write prequel to Dracula with Dacre Stoker



Bram Stoker’s Dracula is without a doubt one of the greatest horror novels of all time. It has gained new audiences since it was written, been translated into over 40 languages, sold millions of copies across the world, and has been responsible for over 300 films.

But, what if the book we know and love was not the book Bram Stoker turned in to his publisher in 1897?

Official representative of the Stoker family Dacre Stoker has spent the last ten years researching his family’s legacy. He has examined documents public and private trying to piece together information on the man, his great-granduncle who wrote this epic work, and the events that inspired it. In doing so, he has come across a disturbing fact: Bram Stoker may have intended his novel Dracula as a warning, a glimpse of a very real entity of evil.

With Bram Stoket award winning author JD Barker, Dacre plans to explore materials including journals and other personal papers to delve into the idea that Stoker did not intend his novel as a
fictional entertainment, but a warning about a real menace.

For more information, go to Dracula Begins

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Midnight Rain

Midnight Rain
by
James Newman
Available in trade paperback and
Kindle format from Amazon.

Hello kids, miss me?

If a coming of age story set in the woods of North Carolina with murder and mayhem thrown in is your cup of tea, then this book is for you.

Midnight Rain starts off by introducing us to 12 year old Kyle Mackey. His favorite past time is riding his bike, Burner, in the woods and spending time in a deserted cabin, perfect for alone time.
But that all comes to a screeching halt one month after he witnesses the death of Cassandra Belle Rourke in his cabin. It's violent and bloody. Kyle puts two and two together and knows who did it...but who will believe him? He struggles with what to do and when to do it, and ends up taking matters into his own hands.
Newman has you firmly perched in Kyle's pocket every step of the way as he wrestles with what he's seen. The rain is almost a secondary character in the story and I swear I felt a little water logged by the ending.
If the trade edition or Kindle edition are not to your liking, you may find Midnight Rain in a used bookstore in a mass market edition as Leisure, the original publisher, is no more.
James Newman however, goes on. He's been writing for a while and deserves a wider audience. I've got one of his short story collections, People Are Strange... oh yes...you bet they are.
Go check Mr. Newman out, as he keeps getting better with each book.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: Fosaken (Shadow Cove Saga #1)

Forsaken
by
JD Barker
Available in Kindle format
and in paperback
on Amazon.


Forsaken is a Bram Stoker Award nominee for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. The award are currently being voted on and will be presented on May 9, 2015.
Will Forsaken win? Possibly. I've not read any of the other 4 nominees, but I'd say this has a fair chance at taking the prize.

Meet author Thad McAlister, who has just penned what he believes to be his best, biggest seller, "Rise of the Witch". Written in journal style, we're taken back to 1692, in the town of Shadow Cove where a witch trial has begun. Thad details the trial, and introduces us to a young woman who may or may not be guilty of witchcraft.

In present day, his wife, Rachel, is pregnant with their second child. Thad goes to New York to meet with his agent and Rachel and daughter Ashley are left at home alone, where odd things start to occur. Their yard is taken over by little piles of dirt. Then the dirt starts showing up in the house...along with...no, I won't tell you that part.

The chapters are short and lead up to a rattling conclusion. My first thought about a third of the way in was, "Man, this is giving me the creeping tinglies." And that is a good thing.

I hope Forsaken wins. And I hope JD Barker keeps writing.

Oh, and by the way, the last chapter is an homage to Stephen King in the best way ever. Not going to spoil it by telling you here. Read it for yourself.









Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas to all I've reviewed and all who follow my reviews


Merry Christmas Constant Reader.

I don't have a new book for review, (yet), but I wanted to take this time to tell you what I'm doing for all the authors I've favorably reviewed here. It's a small gesture for Christmas. I'm going to post the review I posted here on their author page on Goodreads.
Big deal, you may be saying.
Well. Yes, as a matter of fact it is.
Authors live and die with reviews, and if I've given them a good one, I need to post it where it will do some good.
Goodreads prides itself on the reviews posted there, so mine are about to join.
My TWU reviews are already posted on Amazon. Posting on Goodreads is just one more way for folks to find a good read. Pun intended. ; )