The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Let's Talk...

January 27 is Bell Let's Talk Day. Every day should be a Let's Talk Day. Or at least a Let's Be Open-Minded Day. Being a horror writer has been a blessing for me. It kept me sane, grounded and allowed me to disappear within a world I had control over, where no one could touch me and I was safe. It is that same refuge for me today. I am one of the lucky ones. That does not mean my life is easy or that every day is a picnic. Dealing with a brain injury that caused brain damage juxtaposed with depression, compound complex PTSD and auto-immune diseases has been...interesting. And that's okay. It just means I get to read the same book 12 times and still be surprised.

In the horror community, there are many of us that struggle with depression, severe, crippling, clinical depression. There are others that battle BiPolar issues, PTSD, mental illness brought on by chronic illness and pain and sometimes, all of the above. Some of us give up. Some turn to drugs or alcohol. Others sabotage themselves so they can beat themselves up and say, "See, I told you you were a loser."

Mental illness is just as debilitating and just as challenging as living with Crohn's, diabetes, or Downs Syndrome. Sometimes even more so. But, unfortunately there is a stigma to mental illness.

Mental illness means you are weak, pathetic, stupid, lazy or violent. Mental illness makes you less than a person and more of an object of scorn. People who commit suicide are selfish. Cops or soldiers with PTSD are not to be trusted.

Isn't it incredible that you can break your leg and people will support you, open doors for you, run errands for you, but break your mind, and your world empties of people you thought loved and cared for you.

How many times have you heard, "Snap out of it; get some exercise; quit feeling sorry for yourself; if you really wanted to (______) you would, you're just lazy"?

We would never dream of saying these things to an Autistic, blind or deaf person, but feel it is justified in attacking the mentally ill. I often wondered why. Is it something they think is contagious? Does it make them feel superior that they have never suffered from a 'weak mind'? Or is it coming from a place of anger where they feel the person struggling with this is seeking attention?
So, on this mental illness let's talk and be friends day, I say share embrace your pain, accept your darkness, live in the moment. If you feel like crap, accept it. Think about it mindfully for five minutes. Really feel what it is like to be you, instead of trying to smile and put up with it. And then, after five minutes of examining your emotions, tell yourself, "I accept this about me and I am still a good person. I will do everything I can, regardless of my demons because I get to win."

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Solstice List 2015

Another year has come and gone and with it, many things have changed. A good friend of mine whom I have never met, but became very close with, lost her battle to cancer on December 9th this year. Lisa Hinsley was a horror writer, a mom, a wife, a friend and was deeply loved. Her disposition was always positive. Always. I wish I had her strength. Every post was about the good in life and the good in people. She had the strength of a thousand people. She had a Facebook Party from the moment she knew her time was coming. Hundreds of people posted stories, pictures, messages of hope and sentiments of love. Lisa joined in whenever she could and posted great pictures of herself and the people that loved her.

I never met Lisa. In fact I told her a few months ago I was coming to Holland in May of next year and was planning a trip to England to see her. She never said a word, though she knew she would not be here. I know she did that to spare my feelings because that is who Lisa was; a caring individual who, although she was going through hell, still thought to think of me.
Lisa was a gifted writer. She went were others could not go. I remember reading MY DEMON and thinking you did not just do that. She did. And she pulled it off eloquently. Her writing was clean, structured, entertaining, flawless, and she had a gift for creating fabulous characters. Her stories always drew me in and left me entranced for days. In Lisa’s honour I am creating an award called The Hinsley Award which will go to the author that best embodies the value and quality of horror writing that Lisa created.

This year will be the start of something new. As always, THE SOLSTICE LIST© is evolving. I know many people wait for this list and some have been with me since the beginning. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your friendship. But most of all, thank you for supporting these gifted, talented authors. Please buy their work and leave a review.
And for Lisa, please buy her books. I promise you will not be disappointed.

A young writer haunted by her past writes in the dark a story so vile and so disturbing, she begins to lose contact with reality. Chloe Sender is in a spiral of madness, clawing her way back to reality, but which one?
Outstanding book. Simply outstanding. I have read this one five times I think and I still pick up different things every single time. This is a thinking person’s book and not for the weak of heart. A soon to be runaway hit.

2. A COIN FOR CHARON By Dallas Mullican
He is an Angel sent from above and he is known as The Seraphim Killer. But, he is not killing people, he is saving them. Detective Marlowe Gentry witnessed the slaying of his wife and now has to deal with The Seraphim Killer as well.
Dallas Mullican is an amazing human being. I hate him. This is is first novel and he hits this one out of the park. Novel two and three are sure to be hits as well. Another thinking person’s horror book. You will be hearing more from this talented ex heavy metal singer.

Sarah has a recurring nightmare. Night after night, she and her husband are brutally murdered. This morning is different. Her sheets and mattress are covered in blood. *MOVIE: COME BACK TO ME.
Caught the movie on Netflix and was instantly drawn into this surreal world. And look what rolls up on the credits: Wrath James White, my man! This boy is a major talent. I have read a few books by him and am yet to be disappointed. True gift.

4. SHACKLED By Ray Garton
Children are disappearing and someone is doing unspeakable things. Teenage runaways, Satanists, children housed like cattle, an emotionally disturbing story, a dark and gripping tale told by one of the best voices in the business.
Ray Garton wrote a blurb about a book he wrote that disturbed him. Well, you know I went there. That was the reason I turned to Indie books in the first place: they went places the BIG SIX said we couldn’t go. Ray went there, and he handled it beautifully. This is one talented and kind hearted man.

5. THE RAIN By Craig SaundersJohn March runs a struggling bookshop with just one regular customer - Mr. Hill. His life is defined by routine until the day he discovers he is sole beneficiary of a will worth £5 million thanks to the eccentric Mr. Hill's untimely death. But Mr. Hill also leaves behind something else - a lock of hair, a finger bone and a tooth in a jar of water. It's certainly not the worst day of John's life...until the rain comes and the dying starts. There is something in the rain and only John can give it what it wants. And yet, even when people are dying, even in the midst of terror, it's not the hardest thing John's ever faced. He faces horror every day when he locks his shop, drives to August House and opens the door to the room where his wife clings to life. But what he doesn't know could kill her, because if the rain doesn't get what it wants, his wife will serve just as well...

6. LEFT TO DARKNESS By Craig Saunders
A comet has hit the earth and God is no longer in charge. The Devil is.
A brilliant post-apocalyptic horror where the good guys and the bad guys are indistinguishable, because the one thing that Saunders is a genius with is character creation. This book flows and flows oh so well. NOTE: It is a start of a s brilliant post-apocalyptic horror where the good guys and the bad guys are indistinguishable, because the one thing that Saunders is a genius with is character creation. This book flows and flows oh so well. NOTE: It is a start of a series.
Craig Saunders is a gift to readers. He should come with a bow wrapped around his head, ringing your doorbell or sitting under the tree. The man can write anything.

The Witch is waiting, and is she ticked off. The small town of Byre has a dark secret and only with the help of a soldier just returned from the army and a few locals, can the town be saved.
Neil Davies writes and he makes it look simple. This man has a true gift for storytelling, weaving a tale through twists and turns and he truly loves his characters.

8. HIGH MOOR 2: MOONSTRUCK By Graeme Reynolds
This book picks up where HIGH MOOR left off. A small English town is facing some hard truths: Werewolves live off the townsfolk, blood-soaked gruesome murder scenes are the norm, and John Simpson is incarcerated for the killings. Finally, a collective sigh of relief. But someone does not want the werewolves to be a known.
I love wolves. I love werewolves and I love what Graeme Reynolds does to the genre. He is the Werewolf God. I swear, he turns at the full of the moon.

9. THE RIDEALONG By Michaelbrent Collings
The Ridealong begins with a daughter accompanying her father one night on a police shift. Nothing usually happens as the town is pretty quiet. But not tonight. Tonight a madman is leaving clues for Mel’s father that suggests he might be guilty of killing a fellow cop.
Michaelbrent Collings is the sort of writer I want to be when I grow up. Alas, that is not to happen at this point in my life. Collings has more talent in one hand than most of us do put together. I have yet to read something from him that I did not love.

The Lightning Weaver is a young girl that has a special gift: she can command lightning with her mind, although this gift has been suppressed by her mom. If anyone knows Katie has the power to control the forces of nature, who knows what might come of it? And just before Katie can start thinking about a life of her own, she is thrust into a world of the unknown. Uprooted from her home, her, her mother and a friend frantically try to escape Mr. Apples. Loved this story. Loved the characters, the plot, and the pace. ALSAPA got this one right. PLEASE NOTE: The start of a series.
Bryan W. Alaspa has a few books out and I have generally liked them and loved a few. Last year Sapphire made The Solstice List and this year THE LIGHTNING WEAVER is another hit for ALASPA.

11. THE FAMILY TREE By John Everson
The Family Tree has a new patriarch to the family line. A famous line in Dracula says The Blood is the Life. In The Family Tree, The Sap is the Life. Scott checks out his inheritance and meets the rest of the family. Dinner the first night is a wee bit odd, but then, maybe things in Virginia are a little different than in the big city.Who knows how different, as Scott is soon to find out when he starts wandering the family inn.
Another heavy hitter in the horror hive......John Everson is a treat to read.

12. WISHBONE II By Brooklyn Hudson
Tink. Do you want to make a wish? Please make sure you know what you are wishing for because some wishes are better left at rest. Wishbone II starts where Wishbone left off, and it is a pretty creepy first chapter. A bird flies into a classroom and will not leave Jessica alone. At the same time, another student is missing. Things go quickly downhill for Julien as he tries to save Jessica from the demons that tormented his wife.
Brooklyn Hudson does it again. Reading Hudson is reading a professional with a passion for her profession.

13. THE DEEP By Michaelbrent Collings
The Deep is the story of a woman desperately looking for her sister who disappeared while out on a sea voyage in a deep sea dive. Along for the journey is her father, whom she has not had a great relationship with, a disgusting sea captain and other assorted people are all on the same journey, but for different reasons. Great characters and fantastic action.


From the twisted mind of Bram Stoker Award Finalist Peter N. Dudar comes a ghost story of vengeance, death, and stark terror.
Sadie Mills, the one-time soap opera star of Forbidden Steam, is terminal and waiting to die. Her private life has been haunted by the tragic death of her husband, Andrew, and the subsequent dogging by tabloid reporters over her lascivious past. Her daughter Theresa is now her full-time caregiver and health proxy—a curse of indentured servitude that has driven their damaged relationship to the razor’s edge. Theresa has never forgiven Sadie for driving her father to an early grave, and is praying that her mother’s death will finally undo the web of deceit that Sadie has created. And now, at the hour of her death, Andrew’s angry ghost has returned for Sadie, longing to introduce her soul to unspeakable horrors.

2. ICU BY Jerry McKinney
This is a short story. Simon could always handle women, that was one thing his father had taught him well. But Jake was a real ladies man, He could really make them ... scream.

3. JASMINE & GARLIC By Monica J. O'Rourke

4. DEADLIFT By Craig Saunders
Deadlift is a weightlifting term that refers to the action of lifting a weight from the floor to a standing position, gripping a bar.
David Lowe is currently performing the heaviest unrecorded deadlift, performed outside competitions rules, or any rules, by holding the severed cable of a thousand-pound hotel elevator containing his wife and an undetonated bomb, while a killer in a sackcloth mask looks on, and a hit man holds a loaded gun to his head.
David is no superhero, he has no special abilities other than mere human strength and the will to save his wife. He’s been holding the elevator for one minute and thirty-six seconds, bloodying his hands, tearing muscle fibers and cracking bones.
But push him to his limit and he'll dig deep, find more. Because when everything is on the line, it's not about muscle anymore—it’s about heart...and never, ever, giving up on what you love.


6. MONKEY LOVE By John Paul Allen
When Professor Sandra Rixx lost her husband in a terrorist bombing, she turned toward her work for salvation. When Richard kept his vow and returned three years later, she learned to mix business with pleasure. Sometimes we can't help who we love. Sometimes we can't help what we love.

This collection features ten gripping and darkly imaginative stories by Taylor Grant, one of the horror genre’s rising stars—including the Bram Stoker Award nominated tale “The Infected.”
Discover what happens when: An author stumbles upon an incomplete manuscript by his deceased father, and makes the grave mistake of trying to complete the story.
A wealthy industrialist awakens after ten years in suspended animation, and finds out that the horrors of the past can never be left behind.
A lonely man realizes that he’s gradually vanishing from existence, into a nightmarish limbo of his own making.
A woman learns that the imaginary voices that haunt the delusional and criminally insane are, in fact, real.
These stories expose terrors beneath the surface of our ordinary world, behind people’s masks of normalcy, and lurking in the shadows at the farthest reaches of the universe.

DUSK: A time between times. A whore hides something monstrous and finds something special. A homeless man discovers the razor blade inside the apple. Unlikely love is found in the strangest of places. Secrets and dreams are kept…orever. Or was it all just a trick of the light? Suspended in Dusk brings together 19 stories by some of the finest minds in Dark Fiction: Ramsey Campbell, John Everson, Rayne Hall, Shane McKenzie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, S.G Larner, Wendy Hammer, Sarah Read, Karen Runge, Toby Bennett, Benjamin Knox, Brett Rex Bruton, Icy Sedgwick, Tom Dullemond, Armand Rosamilia, Chris Limb, Anna Reith, J.C. Michael.

Each of the nine authors in this book presents a different approach to storytelling, a different writing style, and a different interpretation of the theme. Some of the stories are very short, others are long. In some tales, the devil is a literal figure, in others a metaphorical one, and in several he is something else altogether.

4. DEATHS REALM By Stephen Graham JONES and Hank SCHWAEBLE
There's something that awaits each and every one of us on the road ahead. Our death... Death hides somewhere in the shadows of the great unknown that stretches out in front of our lives. It's here, at the crossroads of this existence and the next, where the forces of the Living and the Dead converge. It's here in DEATH'S REALM where the souls of the dead make ghosts of the living. DEATH'S REALM is an anthology of terrifying ghostly encounters, paranormal experiences, and spectral hauntings from sixteen acclaimed award-winning modern masters of the horror and speculative fiction genres.

5. BROKEN By Weldon Burge
This is a collection of five horror/suspense stories by Weldon Burge, including:
SIZZLE -- A philandering doctor meets a hill man who wants the "sizzle" cut out of his brain
ANOTHER HIGHWAY FATALITY -- A college girl, driving alone late at night during a heavy storm, is stalked by a car with a missing headlight
WHITE HELL, WISCONSIN -- A snow plow driver, plowing back roads in rural Wisconsin during a blizzard, fights for his life against elusive assailants
PERMANENT DETENTION -- A stressed-out teenager believes his History teacher is actually one of the living dead
BLUE EYE BURN -- A Vietnam veteran is haunted by a terrifying incident involving a young Vietnamese girl

6. STUCK ON YOU By Jasper Bark
Cheating husband Ricardo could never keep it in his pants, and now it’s stuck in the worst possible place . His Mexican road trip becomes a nightmare straight out of urban legend when he agrees to take the wrong woman back over the border. A bolt of lightning sees him fused to his fellow cheater on a detour into the backwoods. Now he’s fighting wild beasts and raw nature just to stay alive in this dark comedy romance that blends erotic horror with black humour and extreme splatter.
And now... A warning! Do not buy this book, gentle reader. No really, we mean it. Move along, click away from this page and go look at some Dino porn instead. We’re not kidding. The only reason we published it is because award winning author Jasper Bark has got some serious dirt on us. Honestly, there’s no other reason to put out something this depraved.

1. THE COLONY By Michaelbrent Collings
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT ZOMBIES. In under 10 minutes, 99.9% of the world's population will be dead… or changed. Conversion is instant. Headshots just make them angry. And they’re getting smarter. Ken Strickland has made it through the first moments. But his family is still out there. Can he survive? Can he find them? Or will he become one more of the creatures that now rule our world? *** THE COLONY: GENESIS is the first volume of an apocalyptic series by #1 bestselling novelist Michaelbrent Collings

2. PINES By Blake Crouch
Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.
2013 International Thriller Award Nominee

And finally, The Lisa Hinsley Award this year for superior writing and character definition goes to......Michaelbrent Collings. Michael builds characters, stories, and plots with a flick of his wrist. He writes words and turns them into magic. His writing flows. He has depth. He researches the heck out of everything he writes and he is entertaining. Collings is where we should all be as writers.