Friday, July 29, 2011

Win a FREE Copy of PENANCE, my chiller about Chicago Street Kids

UPDATE: Thank you all for entering! Through a random selection process, we have a winner: Ike Rose. Congratulations, Ike! Untreed Reads will be in touch with you to get you your copy soon.

 To celebrate the e-book release of my 1993 horror novel, Penance, from Untreed Reads, I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader in the e-book format of his or her choice. To enter the drawing for my terrifying story of a group of homeless street kids terrorized by a madman hellbent on cleansing the world of their kind, simply:

1. Leave a comment below.

2. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so I can get in touch if you're a winner.

3. Bonus points for reposting news of this contest/release on your Facebook, Twitter, group, blog, or other social network.
4. Even more bonus points if you click on the link at the right to subscribe by e-mail to this blog.


I will announce the winner next Wednesday morning, August 3.

Penance was part of Dell's historic horror line, Abyss, lauded by none other than Stephen King, who called it "remarkable".

You don't have to wait to win the contest to get a copy. Penance is now available through the following:

Kindle version
Nook version
From Untreed Reads

SYNOPSIS


Bound by misery. Marked by sin. Set free by death.

Barely into their teens, without homes, they dwell in neon shadows, the violent eddies of urban America. They trade their innocence for money, abuse their hopes, and then a monster comes...

A monster without fangs or claws, but more deadly. Because of them, he has lost everything: his wife, his family. And he vows to clean the streets of Chicago...for good.

One of the street kids and a man of the cloth form a desperate pact. Together, they will find the madman whose basement has become a chamber of horrors...

EXCERPT

Lawrence Avenue was alive with rain-slicked excitement. Here, in Chicago’s uptown, royal blue, yellow, and green neon reflected off the pavement’s darkness. Cold night air. Steam rushing up through manhole covers. Christmas lights in neighborhood bar windows beckoned passersby with watery promises of “Christmas cheer.”

Jimmy Fels occupied his street corner. At thirteen, he already knew the poses. There was a casual defiance in the way he leaned against the storefront doorway, pelvis thrust out just enough to attract the interest of the cars cruising by more slowly than the others. He wore a faded jean jacket, Metallica T-shirt, pegged jeans, and Reebok Pumps. His ripped T-shirt deliberately exposed a nipple and a flash of smooth white stomach. The top of the T-shirt was cut away to reveal a gold rope chain, glinting in the glow of the streetlight above him.

Green eyes, wizened beyond their years, stared out of a pale face. He brought a cigarette to his full lips, lips almost too feminine and full for a boy, too ripe for anything clean. His hair, freshly washed, was still damp, looking darker than blond.

He tried not to appear too interested in the cars passing by, some slowing down to take a look at him. He knew it was bad to look too hungry. Make them think you’re doing them a favor…always keep the upper hand. Street knowledge passed on. Remember Gacy. Remember Larry Eyler and what he did to Danny Bridges, the boy who ended up chopped into pieces and thrown into a Dumpster. Get it over with as quickly as possible and keep moving. But he looked anyway, his eyes moving slowly, catching glances out of the corners, and saw the shadows of men leaning forward, their faces ghostly through car windows.

*

Dwight Morris looked at himself in his bathroom mirror. Forty-two years old, he thought, forty-two years old and you can’t even tell. The Cubs baseball cap was positioned just so, with the bill facing backward. His acid-washed Levi’s jacket hung loosely on him, with the cuffs of the sleeves turned up. Under the jacket, he wore an old grey-hooded sweatshirt unzipped just enough to show the New Kids T-shirt underneath. The mirror didn’t reveal the pegged black jeans and the BK high tops.

Dwight smiled at himself, exposing the boyish gap in his teeth. The hint of rouge on his cheeks made him look flushed; a young boy.

I must look at least twenty-five years younger.

*

Jimmy imagined their yearning.

He was cold, but didn’t want to warm himself. That would destroy the pose. The tough guy. So his arms remained at his sides, the cigarette an orange glow in one hand, held between thumb and forefinger. Too many suburban guys tucked at home with wife and kiddies, Indiana Jones on the VCR, lust for his little thirteen-year-old ass on their minds.

“Isn’t it a little cold out here for you, little boy?”

Jimmy jumped at the sound of a girl’s voice. He turned to his left and there she was. Miranda. Tonight she was wearing a black derby, a big black sweatshirt, urban camouflage pants, black leg warmers, army boots. Christ.

An amused grin played about her lips. “Shouldn’t you be home in bed, little boy? I think your mama has some cocoa and Oreos waiting.”

“Real funny, ’Ran. C’mon, gimme a fuckin’ break. I’m workin’.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “Slow night?” She took off the black derby she wore and ran her hand through her close-cropped red hair, making it stand on end.

“It is with you standin’ there blockin’ the fuckin’ view.”

Miranda shook her head. “I can see we’re in a mood tonight.” She started away from him, hips sashaying, swinging her bag.

“Hey.” Jimmy took a last drag off his cigarette, flicked it into the gutter.

Miranda stopped and turned, cocked her head. “Thought you didn’t want to be bothered.”

Jimmy raised his hands to her. “See ya later?”

Miranda shrugged. “Depends on how it goes.”

“Right. That’s cool.”

Jimmy watched her walking away. Who would she find tonight? Would she make enough to buy herself a bottle of Cisco?

“How you doin’, son?”

The man’s voice made Jimmy take his eyes away from Miranda. He pulled a cigarette out of his jacket pocket and lit it, cupping his hand to shield the flame, before he looked up.

It was the creep. At least that’s what Jimmy called him. Some fucking preacher who lived around here. Tall, thin, pasty white with these little old-fashioned wire-rim glasses.

“Beat it. I ain’t interested.” Jimmy sucked in on the cigarette, blew the smoke toward the man.

The preacher made a gesture like a shrug, bringing his hands up, like I’m innocent.

Right. “Look, man, I’m okay. All right? See you later?”

Jimmy smirked as the preacher walked away, his hands dug deep in his pockets, head hunched down against the Chicago wind whistling down Lawrence, off the lake.

A Toyota pickup pulled over to the curb. Black with neon detailing. The truck had these squiggles of hot pink and turquoise. Jimmy pretended not to notice at first, then glanced in the direction of the truck. There was some young guy inside, wearing a baseball cap backward, leaning over and rolling down the window. Jimmy leaned over to get a better look at the face.

Wait a minute. Jimmy moved a little closer, trying to make it look like he’d just decided he wanted to cross the street or something. But he needed to get a better look.

This guy wasn’t so young. There were lines around his eyes, across his forehead. He had so much makeup on his cheeks he looked like fuckin’ Bozo the Clown.


Kindle version
Nook version
From Untreed Reads

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Notable Read: Bad Dog

I loved this book because it's about redemption, humility and getting a handle on one's place in the world. The framework of all this is the training of a lovable, possibly untrainable Bernese Mountain dog named Hola. Hola's training is the road back to life for her alcoholic, wife-separated owner, who, along the way, learns just as much about himself as he does about his dog as they make their way--and not always without missteps--toward triumph. A poignant, heartfelt memoir that offers as many life lessons as it does lessons in dog behavior.



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Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday New Releases at MLR Press!

Friday New Releases at MLR Press!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

WIN A Copy of My New Release: ECHOES

UPDATE: Thank you all for entering! Through a random selection process, we have a winner: Jason, who appears to be a "slave to passion." Congratulations, Jason! I'll be in touch with you to get you your copy soon.

Remember: you can still get a copy, just click here.

 I'm happy to announce the release of my Chicago-set ghost/love story, ECHOES, from Amber Allure as part of its A Ghostly Affair collection.

To celebrate ECHOES' release, I am giving away a free copy of the e-book format of your choice, including Kindle-compatible. To enter, simply follow the rules below:

1. Leave a comment below.

2. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so I can get in touch if you're a winner.

3. Bonus points for reposting news of this contest/release on your Facebook, Twitter, group, blog, or other social network.
4. Even more bonus points if you click on the link at the right to subscribe by e-mail to this blog.


I will announce the winner on Wednesday by midnight, Pacific Time.

Here's what ECHOES is about:
Rick and Ernie have found the perfect loft apartment on Chicago’s west side. But before they are even settled, Rick begins having strange “dreams” that seem all too real. A young man, emaciated, with sad brown eyes, appears to him, frightening and obsessing him.

From their next-door neighbor, Paula, Rick learns of the gay couple, Karl and Tommy, who lived there before them. Paula had been close to them and Tommy’s mysterious disappearance still pains her. When she shares a photo of her with Tommy and Karl, Rick is shocked and troubled. Tommy is the man who has appeared to him in his dreams.

The dreams and the revelation put Rick on a quest to discover the truth about Tommy’s disappearance. It’s a quest that will lead him to Karl, Tommy’s lover, who may know more about Tommy’s disappearance than he’s telling, and a confrontation with a restless spirit who wants only to, finally, rest in peace...

Be sure to check out the other sensational authors' stories in the GHOSTLY AFFAIR collection:
Cemeteries by Lynn Lorenz
Hellish Twist in Tinseltown by Lee Avalone
Lost Between by Shawn Lane
Under My Bed by T.A. Chase

Don't want to wait for your copy of ECHOES? Read an excerpt and grab your copy here.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Writing Love Stories and Living Them


Today I'm the guest blogger on Jessewave and am baring my soul and going very personal--about my own love story and the effect it's had on writing my fictional ones. I hope you'll take the time to check it out and leave me a comment.

In part, my blog on Jessewave says:

"For my partner Bruce and me, June and July are celebratory times. Our anniversary was June 15 (yea! we have made it to nine years now…and I see many more ahead of us) and both of our birthdays fall in July (mine on the first, along with our Boston Terrier Lily) and Bruce on the 12th.

Bruce and I were having dinner at a little French bistro in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle on my birthday last week and, as the wine flowed, we talked. He told me how content he was with his life and that, really, there was nothing else he could wish for. I felt the same way. It’s nice when you’re on the same page. He said we had something special and that one word summed up what we had.


I’ll get to that word later.


But it wasn’t easy getting to this page in the book of our lives. And thinking about Bruce and me has made me consider my other special love, and that’s writing. If any of you out there have followed my career at all, you’ll know that, lately, my stories have plotted out the course of love just as much as they have the build-up of suspense or horrifying revelations. I can proudly say I am now just as much a romance writer as I am a horror or dark suspense writer..."

Continue reading the blog here.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Win a FREE copy of OBSESSED, my serial killer thriller

UPDATE: Thank you all for entering! Through a random selection process, we have a winner: Sherry Strode. Congratulations, Sherry! Untreed Reads will be in touch with you to get you your copy soon.

To celebrate the e-book release of my 1991 thriller/horror novel, Obsessed, from Untreed Reads, I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader in the e-book format of his or her choice. To enter the drawing for my story about a deranged serial killer who believes he's a vampire preying on Chicago, simply follow these rules:

1. Leave a comment below.

2. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so I can get in touch if you're a winner.

3. Bonus points for reposting news of this contest/release on your Facebook, Twitter, group, blog, or other social network.
4. Even more bonus points if you click on the link at the right to subscribe by e-mail to this blog.


I will announce the winner on Friday morning.

Obsessed was part of Dell's historic horror line, Abyss, lauded by none other than Stephen King.

You don't have to wait to win the contest to get a copy. Obsessed is now available through the following:

Kindle version
Nook version
From Untreed Reads

SYNOPSIS


I kill, therefore I am…

Voices slam through the corridor of his wounded mind. The words of his dead sister cry out. His parents' taunts fill the silent room where he sits and waits--waits for the murderous rage, filling him with strength, driving him to kill, to touch the cold flesh, taste the warm blood--to feel alive again…

A witness has seen him, but his killing only turns her on and now she wants to protect him. His wife suspects him, but the private detective she hired cannot stop him. Joe MacAree fears nothing--except that he may no longer be human.

The thirst that drives him is relentless, moving deeper and deeper into his own shattering, private realm, where each murder is a delicious new gift of life, where revulsion is beauty, and the obsession will never let him go.

EXCERPT

Joe MacAree had just murdered a woman, and all the things he felt when he killed the other four he was feeling right now. How would he describe it? In his journal, he might call his feelings an “elevation of the senses” or “an ethereal quality bringing the world into sharp focus.”

After each killing the reaction was the same. There was a moment of sharp pain right behind his left eye, an instant where the pain was so intense as to block out the act he had just committed, the blood and the ripped flesh…then a moment where brilliant flecks of silver light swam before him, and he could not keep his eyes from rolling, trying to follow the patterns the stars made.

And then the clarity.

As he guided his light blue Honda Accord along Harlem Avenue just south of Chicago, everything seemed more alive, as if to contrast the death he had just brought about. He noticed things he never noticed: the shifting red, amber, and turquoise of the reflections the stoplights made on the rain-slicked pavement. He noticed how the color spread, muted, over the slick black roadway. Even his radio, usually sounding tinny tuned to WLS, seemed more vibrant. He heard the different instruments in “Hungry Like the Wolf” as if Duran Duran were in the car with him, playing. Although it was February and his windows were rolled shut, he listened to the sounds of the other cars, the hiss of their tires on the pavement, the bass of their engines. He felt each perforation on the cover of the steering wheel. He thought he could even sense the mechanical smell of his own and the other cars as they all made their way northeast, to the Eisenhower Expressway and the city.

And in his mouth, he savored a slight metallic taste.

* * *

Randy Mazursky had lived in Berwyn all his life. The suburb just west of Chicago had been where his father grew up and where his grandfather had set up his home when he came over from Poland to work in the meat yards of Chicago.

Randy liked Berwyn. It was familiar: The streets, gridlike, had always made it easy to get around and easy to give new people directions to his house on Oak Park Avenue. And best of all it was close to where he worked, the North Riverside Mall, where he managed an ice cream parlor called Whipped Dream.

Tonight he had spent a little longer at the restaurant than usual, since one of his waitresses had come down with the flu that everyone (his wife, Maggie, included) seemed to be getting just as it looked like winter was about to come to a close. She had left midway through her shift, leaving a busy Friday night crowd of screaming kids, hassled parents, and birthday party victims.

Randy had donned the blue and white striped waiter’s cap he had worn when he started at Whipped Dream three years ago and, like the trooper he thought himself, had gone out and served up Tin Roof sundaes, blown whistles, banged drums, and sung “Happy Birthday” with the rest of the crew. He knew it wouldn’t hurt the “kids” to let a pro show them how it was done.

Randy had enjoyed the change. But it had been a long time since he had waited tables and he barely had the strength to hold the steering wheel properly. It was only ten minutes to his home and Maggie, but the eagerness to get there made the ride longer.

He knew he didn’t have to worry. Maggie would have a great dinner waiting for him. Ever since Maggie had quit her job as a proofreader of Sears catalogs, she had become a virtuoso cook, even taking classes in Chicago. Randy had gained fifteen pounds.

He and Maggie had been married for only seven months and already she was pregnant.

The baby was unplanned; they had wanted to wait until they had a chance to buy a house before they had children. Right now they rented the second floor of a two-flat.

But when Maggie had whispered “we’re going to have a baby” in his ear right before he fell asleep one night, he felt nothing but delight. That delight and anticipation had not worn off in the two weeks he had been aware of his imminent fatherhood.

Now as he backed the car into a space in front of their yellow brick home, he felt a sudden urge to run up the stairs and hug Maggie. He knew she didn’t like him working late and wished he had thought to bring her something.

Well, he could make it up to her in other ways. As he closed the door of his car he smiled: There was no trace of the exhaustion he had felt just moments before.

Quickly he unlocked the two locks on the outer door and took the steps two at a time. As quietly as he could, he slid the key into the door of their apartment, hoping he could surprise Maggie in the kitchen.

He opened the door and closed it behind him, trying to stifle the click of the door as it closed. Randy crept through the living room, not wondering why the apartment was so still, why their stereo, Maggie’s constant companion, wasn’t on. He noticed only the yellow block of light that was the entrance to the kitchen as he made his way toward it on tiptoe.

As he stood in the archway, he began laughing. And the laughter did not stop until almost an hour later when paramedics put him under sedation.

Maggie, her dark hair a bizarre contrast to the pasty white of her usually dark Italian skin, lay dead in the middle of the kitchen floor, her throat and wrists cut. Her hair fanned out on the beige linoleum and her arms were out, almost as if she had been crucified.

The cat, Scruggums, sat beside her, licking his paws.

Kindle version
Nook version
From Untreed Reads

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coming Sunday, July 10 from Amber Allure!


A Ghostly Affair 
An AmberPax Collection Of 
Paranormal Gay Erotic Romance

Featuring The Following Titles...
Cemeteries by Lynn Lorenz
(Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings) 

Echoes by Rick R. Reed
(Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings / Suspense / Thriller) 

Hellish Twist In Tinseltown by Lee Avalone
(Gay / Dark Fantasy / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings / Voyeurism) 

Lost Between by Shawn Lane
(Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings) 

Under My Bed by T. A. Chase
(Gay / Paranormal / Ghosts / Hauntings) 

 
Cemeteries   Echoes   Hellish Twist In Tinseltown   Lost Between   Under My Bed
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