Tag Archives: horror books

Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger by K.C. Grifant Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A monster-hunting gunslinger must traverse the Old West and stop an army of soul-devouring monsters arrive on Earth in author K.C. Grifant’s “Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger”.

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The Synopsis

In an Old West overrun by monsters, a stoic gunslinger must embark on a dangerous quest to save her friends and stop a supernatural war.

Sharpshooter Melinda West, 29, has encountered more than her share of supernatural creatures after a monster infection killed her mother. Now, Melinda and her charismatic partner, Lance, offer their exterminating services to desperate towns, fighting everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs. But when they accidentally release a demon, they must track a dangerous outlaw across treacherous lands and battle a menagerie of creatures—all before an army of soul-devouring monsters descend on Earth.

The Witcher meets Bonnie and Clyde in a re-imagined Old West full of diverse characters, desolate landscapes, and fast-paced adventure.

The Review

I love this book. The author does an incredible job of finding the balance needed to connect this horror and supernatural plot with the Western setting. The imagery the author utilizes in their writing comes into play brilliantly when setting the stage of gritty old-west drama and the visceral and haunting creatures that the protagonist comes up against. The balance of tone was great to see as well, as the author was able to bring camaraderie and lightheartedness in some sections of the narrative while also providing a depth and emotional connection that keeps the reader invested in these characters.

The driving force of this narrative was not only the action and suspense that comes with these supernatural threats but the well-developed characters that inhabit this world. The immediate heroism and complexity of Melinda, as well as her leadership alongside Lance, was great to see, and her evolution as a protagonist when coming up against these larger and larger threats was mesmerizing to behold as a fan of these genres.

The Verdict

Haunting, chilling, and entertaining, author K.C. Grifant’s “Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger” is a must-read western horror novel of 2023! The story felt like a natural blend of The Witcher, the cult classic video game Darkwatch, and a mind-bending Lovecraftian story. The twists and turns in the narrative and the powerful draw of the protagonist will have readers enthralled with this brand-new saga that introduces a hero worthy of the reader’s attention. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy today or grab your copy on February 2nd, 2023!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

KC Grifant is a Southern Californian author who writes internationally published horror, fantasy, science fiction and weird west stories for podcasts, anthologies and magazines.

Her writings have appeared in magazines and podcasts including: Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (cover story for issue #70), Unnerving Magazine, Aurealis Magazine, Fission Magazine, Cosmic Horror Monthly, Dark Matter Magazine, Tales to Terrify, the Lovecraft eZine, Sley House Podcasts, and many others.

In addition to a Weird West horror novel, MELINDA WEST: MONSTER GUNSLINGER (Feb 2023), she has also written stories for dozens of anthologies, including: Chromophobia; Dancing in the Shadows: A Tribute to Anne Rice; Musings of the Muse; Field Notes from a Nightmare; The One That Got Away; Six Guns Straight From Hell; Trembling with Fear: Year One; Shadowy Natures; Beyond the Infinite: Tales from the Outer Reaches; and the Stoker-nominated Fright Mare: Women Write Horror.

In addition, she is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA), as well as the co-founder of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) San Diego chapter, an organization that helps to connect writers and fans of horror literature.

This Cold Night by Erica Schaef Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman must face both psychological and physical horrors in one night in order to keep her family together in author Erica Schaef’s “This Cold Night”.

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The Synopsis

Following the death of a loved one, Rachelle Collins visits Ferguson Estate, an expansive country mansion that holds many fond memories, and one sinister secret, within its walls. Throughout the course of a single, terrifying night, Rachelle must confront horrors, both psychological and tangible, to prove just how far she is willing to go to keep her family together.

The Review

This was a short yet powerful horror read. The author took an iconic story trope like the haunted house horror genre and flipped it upside down, crafting a chilling atmosphere and haunting setting that kept the reader glued to the page as the story unfolded. The grim imagery the author employed was balanced well with the emotional weight of the protagonist’s journey.

Yet for this story, it was the narrative and character growth that really held this novel together. The backstory of how the protagonist and her best friend came together as a family and the emotional weight of their shared loss was so profoundly moving, and yet the jarring experience of the horrors they face in this story will leave readers breathless. The mythos the author builds upon for this setting really puts an interesting spin on the haunted house tale and keeps readers invested as the story progresses.

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The Verdict

Thoughtful, terrifying, and entertaining, author Erica Schaef’s “This Cold Night” is a must-read novel to end the year. The twists and turns in the narrative and the haunting tone the story sets will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word, and will keep them wanting more from the author in the future. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

ericaschaef.wordpress.com

The Pizza Deliveryman’s Tale by Ronan Barbour Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An aspiring actor and part-time pizza deliveryman working in a wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood discover mysterious and sometimes dangerous voices hijacking his GPS, and soon learns a deadly threat looms behind one of the doors of this wealthy community in author Ronan Barbour’s “The Pizza Deliveryman’s Tale”.

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The Synopsis

Can a phone be haunted? That is the question for Dylan Murray, an aspiring actor who gets a part-time job as pizza delivery driver in the beautiful affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of Grantwood. All seems easy sailing until mysterious voices on his smartphone begin to interrupt his GPS, one of which, ‘The Demon Voice, ‘ deliberately misdirects him away from his route and into areas of danger. As his encounters with the quirky and sometimes bizarre residents of Grantwood continue, a mysterious thief known only as The Cat Burglar makes nationwide headlines for a string of high-end estate robberies in the area. Is it a matter of time before the malevolent voice interrupting his GPS leads him to the wrong place at the wrong time? One thing is certain: behind one of these doors awaits Vampire Santa, and you will not like his presence. .

The Review

The first thing that stood out to me was the absolute mastery the author has over imagery through their writing. The entire story felt very cinematic and jumped off the page. The vibrant atmosphere of the Los Angeles/Hollywood setting clashed beautifully with the horrors hiding underneath the city. This was illustrated perfectly by the neighborhood of Grantwood itself, which seems beautiful on the outside but held great terrors behind closed doors. 

The heart of this narrative was the rich character dynamics the author established early on and the haunting tone the story set throughout the entirety of the novel. The protagonist highlights and represents the unique backstory of many aspiring actors, working difficult and almost impossible jobs to help until they realize their dreams, only to meet loss after loss in the process. The wide variety of characters the protagonist comes across in his line of work, as well as his coworkers and even his best friend and comedy writer roommate, reflected the setting of Los Angeles and those who often call it home perfectly. 

The Verdict

Thoughtful in its approach, haunting and chilling to the core, and thoroughly entertaining, author Ronan Barbour’s “The Pizza Deliveryman’s Tale” is a fun and twisted horror read. A perfect twist in the story adds the perfect holiday element to sink your teeth into as a horror fan this holiday season, and the dynamic storytelling the author employs here makes this one novel you won’t be able to get enough of from a stellar up-and-coming horror author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ronan Barbour is an Irish-Canadian actor and writer based in Los Angeles, California. He most recently co-starred in the award-winning shorts MOJAVE SHADOWS and THE McHENRY TRIAL–DON’T JUDGE A KID BY THEIR HOODIE directed by Jaime Torres and Ken Sagoes of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08LZ7SPP1/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F55835719-the-pizza-deliveryman-s-tale%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DCMo2eWkY08%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Extinction Hymns by Eric Raglin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Eric Raglin takes readers on a perilous journey through 18 short stories that explore the depths of humanity and the horrors of our world (and the next) in the collection “Extinction Hymns”.

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The Synopsis

A vengeful owl haunts the man who poached her. A desperate entrepreneur holds a ghost hostage for profit. An addict finds hope and terror in an imprisoned angel. A father and son search their dying world for something to eat other than human flesh. Eric Raglin, author of Nightmare Yearnings, returns with his second collection of horror and weird fiction. Strange, terrifying, and tender, these eighteen stories explore what happens when extinction comes for us all.

The Review

This is both an emotional and frightening collection of stories. The author does an incredible job of capturing the grief and emotional weight of these characters and their circumstances, all without shying away from the terrifying and haunting atmosphere these stories instill in the reader. The equally haunting imagery that these tales conjure up captures the chilling nature of these stories and reflects the horrors of humanity and our world in general, from grief and loss to addiction and greed. 

The heart of all of the author’s stories has to be the world-building and character development that these stories brought to life. Whether it was the injured workman using the ghost in his home to bring him much-needed money, or the man desperate to understand his husband’s tragic loss, the decisions made in desperation and grief added depth to the author’s plunge into horror. The variety of supernatural occurrences made this an equally entertaining and chilling collection as much as it was poignant. 

The Verdict

Haunting, thrilling, and engaging, author Eric Raglin’s “Extinction Hymns” is a must-read horror short story collection. The inclusion of LGBTQ+ themes and characters throughout these stories added more layers to this growing collection and kept the collection more relatable and engaging for readers overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Eric Raglin (he/him) is a Nebraska-based speculative fiction writer. He frequently writes about queer issues, the terrors of capitalism, and body horror. His debut short story collection is NIGHTMARE YEARNINGS. He hosts the Cursed Morsels Podcast and is the editor of SHREDDED and ANTIFA SPLATTERPUNK. Find him at ericraglin.com or on Twitter @ericraglin1992.

South Side Alchemy by J.M. Sawyer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man seeking a temporary escape from the responsibilities of life finds intrigue and mystery surrounding him as he escapes to the circus for a night, only to find himself immersed in dangers that threaten his future and force him to confront his past in author J.M. Sawyer’s “South Side Alchemy”.

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The Synopsis

Jordan Peele’s Get Out meets Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Henry Lewis needed a temporary escape from his life. His job, home, and family have become the shackles that bind him in the prison of his mind. He longs to be free of it. . . for at least a little while. When Henry learns the circus has arrived in his Bronzeville neighborhood, he sneaks away in the night, hoping to find a brief escape from his troubles. With a world of distractions all around him, he finally feels free. But the circus paints a bright facade over a dark past, and the freer he feels, the more bound he becomes. He needs to break away. But before he can save his future, he’ll have to discover the sinister truth about his past. The stakes are high, and time is running out.

The Review

This was such a powerful and moving story. The blend of suspense and horror with edge-of-your-seat thriller and a hint of magic made this novel flow and kept me engaged throughout the story. The rich settings of this story, set in a particular historical period that gave readers a unique point of view that is rarely explored, were brought to life through powerfully vivid imagery and made the atmosphere feel thicker with tension.

For me, the psychologically and emotionally complex social and historical themes that were brought to life through dynamic character development made this a one-of-a-kind read. The protagonist’s journey and everything he endured were pushed to reflect the haunting history of the Black community and the chilling realities that very few people will ever know or understand. The dynamics between his interactions with the circus folks and the “real-world” people he interacted with not only mirrored the themes of segregation and social dynamics but the powerful effects that the events of the narrative began to have on his own psyche. 

The Verdict

Powerful, engaging, and thought-provoking, author J.M. Sawyer’s “South Side Alchemy” is a must-read suspense and horror thriller you won’t want to miss. The twists and turns in this story feel like a Jordan Peele movie bleeding into historical fiction and magical surrealism novel with a few elements of It’s a Wonderful Life thrown in for good measure, making this one novel that readers won’t want to miss this year. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J. M. Sawyer is an author of adult suspense and horror novels. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, in Political Science from Seton Hall University and his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law. Formerly a criminal defense attorney, his road to publication was anything but conventional. It was during trial preparation that he learned his true calling was that of a storyteller and his true talent was plotting complex, multi-layered narratives that will keep readers turning pages until the very end. Those are the stories that shaped his love of books, so those are the stories he endeavors to tell. A New Jersey native, he now lives in Michigan with his wife, Nora, and his two sons, Jesse and Alexander.

https://www.jmsawyerbooks.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BHDVZ2N2/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F63225315-south-side-alchemy%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DC3Or7XYxYQ%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

The Prisoners of Stewartville by Shannon Felton Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A teen boy starts to look into the mysteries of the small town defined by its prison system after discovering a hidden tunnel in the basement of a home, and in doing so uncovers dark histories and hidden secrets that will terrify him to his core in the author Shannon Felton’s “The Prisoners of Stewartville”.

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The Synopsis

Stewartville. A town living in the shadow of the prisons that drive its economy. Haunted by the ghosts of its past. Cursed by the dark secrets hidden beneath. A town so entwined with the prisons waiting outside the city limits that it’s impossible to imagine one without the other, or to ever imagine escaping either.

When a teenage boy digs into the history of the town, he discovers a tunnel system beneath Stewartville, passageways filled with dark secrets. Secrets leading not to freedom, but to unrelenting terror.

Stewartville. Where the convicts aren’t the only prisoners.

The Review

This was a truly captivating and masterful read. The heavy atmosphere of the narrative kept readers engaged right from the beginning. The rich mythos that the author develops for this story and the evil that infects this town (or is it the other way around?), really do a remarkable job of keeping the reader’s hearts pumping.

The heart of this short horror read is actually the balance of character development and the book’s setting. The thing that stuck out to me was how the people of this town felt very much like a by-product of the infestation that this town had become, as it not only seemed to draw in people who are typically deemed by society to live “on the fringes” but would transform people into their worst nightmares through fear and terror. The protagonist’s story and his confrontation with the evil of this town reflected the status of the town altogether, which became a central character in its own right.

The Verdict

Horrifying, chilling, and entertaining, author Shannon Felton’s “The Prisoners of Stewartville” is a must-read occult fiction meets paranormal & urban fantasy novel. The twists and turns this narrative takes and the larger discussion on the prison system and how society treats those living on the fringe kept me invested in this gripping story, as did the shocking twist final pages of this instant horror classic. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Shannon Felton lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, their four children, and three dogs. The Prisoners of Stewartville is her debut novella.

The Prisoner of Fear by Chad Miller Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two detectives searching for proof of the supernatural must search for a missing friend who had reached out to them regarding a young woman with a mysterious ailment, but their search soon uncovers a horrible abomination that cannot be explained by science or modern medicine in author Chad Miller’s “The Prisoner of Fear”.

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The Synopsis

It is 1889 in Philadelphia, and detective John Doyle is restless. Along with his miserable partner, Thomas Braham, Doyle pursues mysteries, strange sightings, and other obscurities tossed aside and disregarded by the police. For years, Doyle has taken on these cases in the hopes of discovering something supernatural – something that could upend and dispute his long-standing, debilitating fear that immortal souls do not exist.

Doyle’s search for the supernatural remains unsuccessful until he receives a strange letter from an old doctor friend regarding a young woman with a mysterious and rather disturbing illness. When the doctor goes missing in the same town that this young woman resides in, Doyle and Braham decide to take on the case and search for clues regarding their missing friend. In doing so, they discover that there is no longer any suffering young woman, but a dangerous abomination whose origin cannot be explained by science nor modern medicine.

Meanwhile, an unnamed victim has been kidnapped. Trapped in a cell with nothing but a journal to document their experiences, this mysterious Prisoner must undergo terrifying scientific experiments while trying not to lose all hope and sanity.

Inspired by the works of renowned horror and mystery writers like Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and Arthur Conan Doyle, The Prisoner of Fear brilliantly weaves questions of mortality and the human propensity for evil into a truly intriguing, unique, and frightening narrative.

The Review 

This is the perfect blend of the gothic horror-meeting medical thriller. The author does an incredible job of immediately thrusting readers into a heavy atmosphere, as the narrative jumps between those seeking answers and the fearful ramblings of the unknown prisoner. The way the author writes this story in a format that showcases journal entries, various correspondence between characters, and even newspaper articles from the fictional world he has created was an inspired choice, as it felt like the 19th century and literary version of a found footage film. 

The world-building and character development indeed took center stage in this novel. The 19th-century Philadelphia setting played well into the gothic tone of the story while also giving readers a vastly different perspective than classic gothic horror has in the past. The relatability of the characters, especially Doyle and his deep desire to find that irrefutable proof of an afterlife, was so great to see come forward in a rich storyline such as this. The story’s tension and chilling nature will stay with readers long after they put the book down.

The Verdict

Thrilling, haunting, and engaging, author Chad Miller’s “The Prisoner of Fear” is a must-read gothic horror and medical thriller novel of 2022. The twists and turns this narrative takes will feed well into the frightening atmosphere and adrenaline-fueled story the author has created. The dynamics between these characters will have readers fully invested as the horrors begin to reveal themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Chad Miller has a B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University and a Pharm D from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He’s a pharmacist and lives in lifeless Delaware with his girlfriend, Natasha and her daughter, Sasha, and his three kids, Killian, Willow, and Halina. He is a horror writer and began crafting stories 25 years ago. His writing is not for the faint at heart and his goal is to plant seeds of terror in your mind so that you can’t sleep at night. His novel, The Prisoner of Fear, is being published by Hear Our Voice and will be out fall of 2022. His short story collection, The Void is available on Amazon now! His short story, The Thorn, is published by Sweety Cat Press and is included in the anthology, Beautiful: In the Eye of the Beholder and is out now available on Amazon. His story, Diseased, will be included in the anthology, Movement: Bodies in Motion, and is available now. His future project includes his follow-up novel, A Paroxysm of Fear, and a 3 part series of novellas titled Cerebus. Check out other stories on his website, chadmiller-author.com. 

Sanctuary (Hell Hare House Short Reads Book Seven) By Michael J. Stiehl Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young man who has grown up in a monastery soon has his world turned upside down after the arrival of a young girl who holds the key to unlocking the secrets of his past and that of the Sanctuary he calls home in author Michael J. Stiehl’s “Sanctuary”, the seventh book in the Hell Hare House Short Reads series.

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The Synopsis

Deep in an impenetrable swamp, lies the Sanctuary. Abandoned there as a child, Theobard has lived a quiet life among the Silent Brotherhood, a monastic sect that never speaks.

The arrival of Dellia, a beautiful golden-eyed girl with a secret, will change everything.

Her secret will expose Theobard’s true nature, and that of the Sanctuary, pulling apart the only world he has ever known, leaving nothing the same. 

The Review

The author did an incredible job of crafting a unique and captivating horror story. The tension and heaviness of the setting really captured the isolation and eerie silence that mirrored the monks and their dark secrets. The blending of different sub-genres of horror, from psychological thriller to creature features made this story feel very haunting and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The heart of this narrative however was a unique blend of the rich character dynamics and the chilling atmosphere the author was able to infuse into the narrative. The physical and emotional toll the twists and turns this story took on the protagonist and the connection he made to this new arrival emphasized the harrowing journey they found themselves on, and the atmospheric style of writing really honed in on the horrifying nature of the dark secrets this Sanctuary holds.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, mesmerizing and entertaining, author Michael J. Stiehl’s “Sanctuary” is the perfect short horror read and the perfect continuation of the Hell Hare House Short Reads series. A brilliant blend of psychological thriller and horror, the fusion of gothic and isolated horror themes really brought the terror and heart-pounding action to life in the best way possible. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Michael J. Stiehl has had a lifelong passion for fiction, in particular horror, comics, adventure and science fiction, and is thrilled to finally be writing some of his own. Michael lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife, two kids and his very silly poodle Jack. When not writing fiction, Michael spends his time riding bikes, camping, reading books, obsessively listening to music and playing D&D with his friends. In short, he hasn’t changed a bit since junior high.

https://www.facebook.com/michael.stiehl

Interview with Author Jason Goss

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?


I’ve always been creative. I have an over active imagination.  And often times I’ll read a story and think the ending could have been better, or something else would have made more sense.  So I eventually decided to write my own stories.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?


Specifically with this book, I was sick of most vampire stories featuring vampires falling in love with a whiney neurotic teenager.  Vampires see us as food, not lovers.  I’ve never lusted after a big mac. So why would a vampire lust after his food.  So I decided to write a dark vampire story with an actual monster who has a complete disregard for human life.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?


That’s a tough on.  The theme itself is about revenge.  But at its heart…the story explores the vampires broken heart.  He loved someone who turned on him.  It drove him mad. And most of the book focuses on his madness.    I guess that’s the take away…women drive men mad 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Honestly…a facebook vote lol.  I wanted to write several different genres.  And I asked my followers which of several ideas they liked most based off 3 line pitches…and this one got most likes lol.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?


This is a hard one.  I get into the head of all my characters as I write them.  Good or bad, I try to write from his or her point of view.  So in essence…I’m already a part of all of them.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?


Id say facebook has been most influential.  I have a decent following from my days as a former youtuber.  My old YouTube channel still has 25k subs…and I haven’t yet released a video on the channel to get sales for my book.  But im debating advertising on my old channel.  So if I do…YouTube will likely be most helpful lol but as of now…its facebook.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?


Just do it.  Don’t do it for fame or money.  Just write what you enjoy.  Tell a story you would want to read. And get it done.  If people like it great.  If not…who cares.  You did it.  The most satisfying part so far…is being able to say I wrote a book.  The fact so many people who’ve read it….like it…is just a bonus.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?


This book is a planned trilogy.  So I’m really excited for people to find out what happens to Alaric after the cliffhanger ending. After that I want to do a autobiography. I’ve lived a crazy life and want to document it in case I die one day lol

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About the Author

I’m Jason M Goss, and I’m a huge nerd 

Love anything sci fi or fantasy. I have a million ideas in my head and finally decided to start putting some down on paper.

I hope you like them, and I’m always open to feedback!

Life is about growing and become better than we were previously, and that’s what my goal is!