Christmas Balls

The Christmas free eBook giveaway from The Self-Publishing Roundtable is underway, along with a contest to win a Kindle Fire and Amazon gift cards. Thirty-seven Christmas-themed books (including my own Sex Tape—now officially launched) are up for grabs for nothing at all. And the contest entry is as simple as signing up to be on some author mailing lists, which you can bail on at any time.

christmasgiveawayWhy brave the madhouse Black Friday sales when we’re giving away so much stuff for free? There’s everything you could want here from sparkling-clean cute romance, to utterly vulgar sleaze (that last one would be mine).

Have I mentioned recently how very proud I’ve made my family by managing to use the word “cumshot” in my first two books?

I’ve been running a few other promos in conjunction with the Roundtable group-author one, this being the first real push for my novel. As of this writing, Sex Tape has climbed to number seven on Amazon’s free mystery/private investigator list, number eight on their free thriller/crime list, and number 348 on the overall free eBook list (up many thousands of spots from where it was a couple of days ago). Snatch a copy now and let’s see how much higher we can push it. The higher it goes, the more browsing eyes get to see it.

Three Missing Years

holmesawayfromhome1We’re down to the final few days of the Kickstarter for Holmes Away from Home: Adventures from the Great Hiatus. I’m excited for this two-volume collection, and wanted to take this last opportunity to suggest, if you’re interested in reading all about what Sherlock Holmes got up to during his faked-death episode, that you back the project now. Funding has been met, but you’ll benefit from getting the books first and cheaper than anyone else.holmesawayfromhome2

The most recent Kickstarter update features a mini interview with me about The Adventure of the Melting Man, my second Wiggins story to date (with more pending). So far, each of these short stories has proved to be a fun diversion and research project away from my usual topics of morbidity and gallows humour. Running around Victorian London with some of the most famous characters in detective-fiction history is a mini holiday for me, before I get back to the grind of writing about my own original creations.

Speaking of which…

The official launch of Sex Tape, starring Sid Volke, the shabbiest of all slob private detectives, is almost upon us. I’m setting up some final promotions that will coincide with the next big Self Publishing Roundtable multi-author giveaway. This one is Christmas themed, and since Sex Tape is a mystery/thriller that specifically takes place over the holidays, my new tawdry crime-comedy is wedged into the middle of the pack of holly and jolly romance, erotica and shifter-bear novels. There are other genres sticking out of the scrum like sore thumbs as well, so check the list. You’ll find something up your alley, or down your chimney.

It will all be free this weekend, starting Friday. If you can’t possibly wait that long, Sex Tape is currently on Amazon for the reduced launch price of $0.99. Or you can read it for free right now if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

Hat Trick

I’m back on CJLO’s Cinema Smackdown at 7:00 pm EST again tonight. This will be my third appearance at the film-nerd Thunderdome, where I’ll attempt to crush all who oppose me once more and maintain my short but unbroken winning streak. Unlike the last show, I’ve had more than 30 minutes to prepare, so my answers will be carefully considered and cultivated. Two weeks ago, I won by throwing out the first things that came to mind. This week, find out if my over-prepared change of strategy will trip me up. Tune in online or at 1690AM in the Montreal area.

Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction is now available, not only as an eBook, but as a paperback as well. Twenty-six stories, each with an illustration by Emory Watts, awaits. And the dark fiction does indeed get dark. My own story, Raw, stands among the darkest things I’ve ever written. Grab a copy in your format of choice if you’re brave enough.

The Kickstarter for Holmes Away from Home: Adventures from the Great Hiatus marches on past the halfway mark. This terrific two-volume Sherlock Holmes anthology will be available in time for Christmas, with my story, The Adventure of the Melting Man, capping off the collection. Funding goals may have been met, but I urge you to support the Kickstarter, if only to get your copies sooner and cheaper than everybody else.

A Thrilling Weekend

This weekend (November 12 & 13), Sex Tape is part of a collection of 54 mystery novels and thrillers on sale for only $0.99 each. Check out the complete list of titles here.

Inconvenient dead bodies, mysterious circumstances, spies, detectives and…witches? Again? I have to look into this cozy witch mystery thing, now that I know it’s a thing. The genres you discover in these joint promotions…mysterythriller

Anyway, it’s a lot of fun stuff to be had at a great price. Not quite free like last time—but at a buck, it’s a price that can’t be beat. At least on Amazon, where they won’t let us set the cost at anything lower.

Post Mortem

The Halloweeny event is over and Hot Pennies (which did an extra free day tacked on the end) is back to the exorbitant price of $0.99. For those who are interested in numbers and data, I managed to hand out 1352 copies over a five-day stretch, with over half of those going out on the first official day of the group giveaway.

Reports from other authors who participated show numbers that dwarf mine—sometimes by multiples. But considering Hot Pennies was a brand new publication with no reviews to assure downloaders that it wasn’t a piece of crap, it did very well. It’s also an uncommercial short story. As such, I just can’t compete with the juggernaut that is shifter romance novels. There’s a huge market of readers who want to curl up with stories of hunky men who turn into hairy beasts and protect their chosen mates from any and all threats outside their cuddle-den. I’d try to write one to make a buck, but I know I’d fuck it up. I’d get a chapter or two in, and then my leading lady would come home to the manbearpig cave and discover her werewolf lover licking his balls in autoerotic fashion to a copy of Best in Show magazine. Then the rest of the book would descend into bitter arguments and accusations, and any hint of romance would shrivel up and die faster than if they’d been married for the last six books of the series.

Best to stick to morbid comedy, morbid horror, and morbid crime.

Speaking of which, Sex Tape has been released for Kindle. I’ll get around to designing the paperback sometime in the coming weeks, and arranging a proper launch for the eBook in the coming days. But for now, it’s yours for the low low (pathetically low) early-look price of $0.99. Reviews on Amazon.com are welcomed and encouraged.

In other news, I’m trying to participate in NaNoWriMo for no other reason than it’s November and I need to be working on the next book. It’s a sequel to one that isn’t even out yet—but apparently the market dictates that if you want to launch a series, you need to hit those readers with multiple installments early on.

Day One was mostly a bust. Already. I was about 600 words in when I got an emergency call, asking me to fill in as a guest on Cinema Smackdown. Since my first appearance went well, and this episode was all about horror movies, I agreed to get Shanghaied away in the back of an Uber. With only half an hour to consider what I was going to talk about before air time, I didn’t have time to tell anybody about it, mention it on social media, or otherwise tip off the world at large. Pity, as I crushed the opposition again.

The backlog of Cinema Smackdown episodes still hasn’t been updated on the CJLO website since April, so I don’t expect you’ll be able to listen to a rerun anytime soon. I’ll just mention that I successfully explained why being digested by The Blob is the worst horror-movie death, argued that the zombie virus counts as a character, and pitched a movie standoff between Dracula and Der Golem. I also chose to argue the indefensible position that Uwe Boll is the greatest horror director of all time—just to make things challenging for myself. I got zero points for that one, and demanded I receive no more than that. I would also have gladly accepted negative points. That’s how purposely wrongheaded my answer was.

Next time—and there may well be a next time—I’ll try to plug it in time.

Happy Halloweeny with a “Y”

So many things to promote, so little time. In the interest of focusing on the most pressing, time-sensitive item, this blog post is all about the huge Halloweeny free-eBook giveway spectacular explosion of digital-candy goodness. With monsters and sexy shape-shifters and shit.

This is my first joint promotion for my work, and on Day One we’re off to a rocking start. More copies of my novelette (there’s that damn word again) Hot Pennies have been given away in the opening hours than what I managed with Filmography during its entire five-day promo (and I was pretty happy with those results). It’s incredible what we lonely writers can accomplish, when we clump together for something resembling social interaction, and collectively organize ourselves. It almost makes me want to break into song with a verse or two from “Look for the Union Label.” But I won’t. One writers guild is enough for me, thanks. At any rate, this advertising blitz has done right by Hot Pennies, and I’m pleased. But enough about my darkly humorous Halloween-themed story that’s free through to the end of this most pagany of pagan celebrations. I want to talk about all the other amazing stuff you can get, also for free!

14560020_1139109222844955_5588342688062981172_oThe Halloweeny promotion, organized by Erica Conroy of the Self-Publishing Roundtable, has gathered together an astounding collection of 57 (59 if you count the box-set individually) Halloween-related eBooks by a broad spectrum of horror, supernatural, occult and otherwise weirdo authors. All of it is available from Amazon for free through to October 31. Whether you like hard horror or gooey paranormal romance, there’s bound to be something to scratch your itch here. From sexy manly men who turn into sexy bearly bears, to cozy witchy mysterious mysteries, to vampires who both suck and swallow, to deeply fucked up shit of questionable taste (y’know, what I write), there’s a lot to explore. And since it can all be downloaded without charge, there’s nothing to stop you from experimenting. You might awaken fetishes you never knew you had.

And isn’t that what Halloween is all about? Crawling out of bed with a hangover on November 1st, wearing strange and suggestive clothes you don’t remember putting on, and praying nobody took any pictures of you at whatever party you attended last night. And then, before the coffee has even had time to brew, discovering you’re trending on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and that there’s an angry email from work advising you that your desk has been cleaned out and your final paycheque is in the mail. Don’t worry. It’ll all be worth it. Because what’s important is that you’ve discovered something about yourself—something unexpected, special, unique, and only slightly mortifyingly embarrassing. And though those pictures of you in the sexy rubber chicken costume will never ever go away so long as the internet persists, those same photographs are getting a shocking number of swipe-rights on Tinder. Congratulations. Halloween has broadened your horizons yet again. And we all can’t wait to see what stupid pervy costume you drink yourself under the table in next year.

Why Everybody Suddenly Hates The Walking Dead

There are really no spoilers at all ahead, except in the broadest general terms. I wouldn’t screw you like that. All you need to know, going forward, is that season seven began this week. And many long-time fans weren’t happy. It wasn’t just what went down this episode, though. It was more about tone.

The Walking Dead has been accused of jumping the shark several times now, but that’s not what happened on Sunday night. Nobody jumped the shark. Nobody nuked the fridge. What the show did was hop the track. No, it didn’t derail, it jumped onto a whole other track. Hard.

For six seasons, The Walking Dead coasted along as everybody’s favourite example of a particular sub-genre. It was a horror show and, specifically, it was a zombie-apocalypse horror show. And we got what was advertised, exceptionally well done – thus the popularity. In a zombie apocalypse, you expect to see some of your favourite characters get munched on, or die in battle against rival survivors who have turned into marauding maniacs since the collapse of civilization and all the rules and laws that go along with it. That’s been a staple since the genesis of the genre, under its originator and master, George Romero.

But this season premiere wasn’t zombie-apocalypse horror. Sure, there were zombies in a dangerous-scenery sense, but they were window dressing. This episode was a different sub-genre of horror entirely. It was torture porn.

Now, I like torture porn just fine when it’s done well. I like the Saw series, I think Martyrs is something of a horror masterpiece. But a lot of people are not cool with the oeuvre at all, thus the derisive name. “Torture Porn,” a moniker initially slapped onto this not-really-so-new wave of horror by displeased critics, has since been adopted as an official title of dubious honour. Like the term “Spaghetti Western” fifty years ago, similarly meant as an insult, it has now become its own thing, with its own fans.

There is not a lot of crossover between zombie-apocalypse fans and torture-porn fans, even if they’re both horror sub-genres.

What we saw last episode was a bunch of beloved characters being mercilessly terrorized and brutalized with no recourse. They were victims being victimized for a whole hour. They couldn’t fight back. They couldn’t help themselves. Rescue was not forthcoming. And it was hard to watch. By the end of it, even I felt a little ill, and I’m damn near unflappable when it comes to these sorts of things.

A lot of fans did not care for it. They didn’t necessarily know why. Surely we’ve seen awful things happen on the show before. Perfectly nice people have been torn to shreds right in front of us on many occasions. But this was different. Our heroes were helpless, and we were helplessly watching them suffer.

And that’s going to be an emotional deal-breaker for a lot of viewers. You can’t swap out genres like that. Sure, you can do a single fantasy episode of your sci-fi show, or a film-noir episode of your teen-comedy show. But you can’t drop torture porn on unsuspecting viewers and expect it to sit well with them. It’s too harsh – even for people who like their zombies with extra guts and arterial sprays.

“But it’s just following the comics,” is what I’ve heard in response to the shocking number of fans who have announced, “I’m never watching another episode.”

Yeah, fine. There have been developments to bring the TV show more in line with the comic-book story arc, but they have always been two entirely different entities with the same brand name. The comics are many many many times more brutal and horrific and uncompromising than the show. The comic books are like hell, the TV show is like the Disney-resort re-creation of hell. It’s just not the same. A lot of the people who love the show probably couldn’t stomach what goes on in the comics. And there are probably people who read the comics who think the show is for pussies.

This last episode left me feeling depressed and gut-punched, even though I had predicted much of what would happen months in advance and was prepared for a deeply uncomfortable hour. I thought it was well done, and it certainly established Negan as the new, improved, worst-threat-they’ve-ever-faced villain. But the show’s producers were playing with fire, and they may have been burned. In an effort to demonstrate how hardcore they’re willing to go (on a show where you’re still not permitted to say “fuck” mind you), they may well have cut down their viewership by numbers they won’t ever be able to recover.

Season seven, still in its infancy, hasn’t jumped the shark. Not yet. But did I just spot Fonzie strapping on a pair of water skis?

On a side (and more spoilery) note: I’m still spot-on with my call from nearly three years ago, marking The Five Most Unkillable Characters on The Walking Dead. I always know something bad has happened on the show whenever that post gets a spike in clicks. Don’t read it unless you want to know some of the names of who survived this season’s opener.

A Scary Week Ahead

Like an exploding pumpkin sending pulpy orange shrapnel everywhere, next week promises to be the messiest wave of publishing in the history of Eyestrain Productions thus far.

sextapeebookcoverSex Tape will make its eBook debut on Amazon, becoming my first official novel despite the existence of Filmography. Filmography, you see, is only a novella, whereas Sex Tape is indisputably a novel. There are well-defined technical differences between the formats that mostly come down to word count. I won’t get into novelettes which, as far as I’m concerned, are only short stories with delusions of grandeur.

hotpenniesebookThen we have Hot Pennies, which is a novelette (dammit!) concerning horrible, nasty Halloween pranks, Just in time for the candy-giving pagan festivities, it’s out right now and available for purchase. Next week, however, it will be part of a big Halloween promotional package organized by the Self-Publishing Roundtable. More on that when the time comes, but there will be a shit-ton of themed eBooks up for grabs, all at once.

silentscreamscoverThe Silent Screams anthology has revealed its final design, which specifically names me on the cover as one of the contributors. Y’know, because I’m such a big draw. After a year-long delay, this book is due out shortly before Halloween, and is full of dark and creepy stories of injustice and exploitation. My story, Raw (another one of those novelettes!?!), will compete with the others to see which short story (or novelette) will prove to be the most disturbing.

The same week all this other stuff is coming out, we’re also going to see the launch of the Kickstarter for Holmes Away from Home from Belanger Books. This is the new Sherlock Holmes anthology I’m taking part in following The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories. The two volumes in the collection will be filled with stories about the missing years between Holmes’s faked death at the Reichenbach Falls and his reappearance on Baker Street just in time to capture Colonel Sebastian Moran. My story, The Adventure of the Melting Man, will close the collection of all-new material, detailing what happened on that final day before the detective’s survival was revealed to the world. And guess what. It’s long enough to be considered a novelette.

Like I said, delusions of grandeur.

Last Chance to See?

Last month I was asked to write a letter of support for the restoration of The Empress. The ongoing destruction of venerable movie theatres has long been a sore spot with me. Montreal has had a particularly shabby history of letting these heritage sites—even after they’ve been declared culturally significant—fall apart and eventually die by the wrecking ball. For the record, here’s what I wrote.

Montreal’s cinema heritage is dying.

In my lifetime, I’ve watched most of the grand old theatres on the island shutter their doors and get torn down, chopped up, or reduced to a facade for retail stores. It breaks my heart every time.

These were the screening halls I grew up in. This was where I spent so much of my youth, in the dark, absorbing cinema from around the world and a dozen past generations. These were the places where I learned what I wanted to do with my life.

I’ve worked in the film industry for my entire career. Recently, I published my first novel. It’s about movies and my love of film. So is the second one coming out later this year. Such is the impact cinema has had on my life—impossible without places like The Seville, The Rex, The Loew’s, The Kent, The Palace and The Paris to bring me in. All of them are now lamentably gone, obliterated beyond restoration.

But The Empress still stands.

Perhaps the single most important movie theatre of my youth, during its stint as the Cinema V repertory house, The Empress introduced me to James Bond, Alfred Hitchcock, John Waters, the Universal Studios monsters, Jerry Lewis comedies, Vincent Price thrillers, red and cyan 3D, Odorama, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Canadian genre pictures, cartoons for adults, and friends I’ve kept for decades.

It’s one of the very last of its kind, and one of the finest examples—not only in this city, but in the whole country.

Spare it the axe. Save it for those who remember its glory days, and those who will experience all it has yet to offer.

The Empress is also dear to me because it’s just a short walk away from where I live now. The idea of one day being able to pass through its doors and watch a movie again fills me with joy. The prospect of watching it being turned into condos, or worse, an empty lot, fills me with dread.

empress19281-1000x699

The Empress in 1928, the year it opened.

Check out this recent article about the ongoing effort to save it, or visit the project home page for more information and pics of the beautiful old lady.

My Sex Tape

If you’ve followed the blog long enough, you know about my sex tape—that shameful, humiliating experience I was subjected to about seven years ago now, that left me raw, exposed, and kind of sticky.

It was a gangbang, if I’m being perfectly honest. One of those screenwriter gangbangs I’d heard about in the film industry, where a single hapless hack is subjected to the wishes of a plethora of producers, each determined to have their way with an innocent, virginal script in whatever sick, perverted way they want.

There is, ironically, no filmed evidence of my sex tape. To my knowledge, there’s not so much as a single photograph of my participation in the gangbang. And yet it happened. I remember every excruciating moment well. And there was no happy ending—not for anyone, me least of all. A long week of living in various Delta Hotel conference rooms, fuelled by bad hotel food and thin, dishwater coffee, with a lanyard around my neck that ended in a laminated card reading, “Shane Simmons: Sex Tape” ultimately came to nothing.

Sex Tape was the name of my feature-film pitch; a detective-fiction mystery about a hotshot Hollywood publicist pursuing a stolen celebrity sex tape to the porno-distribution underbelly of Montreal, determined to stop it from going public, and discovering some people were willing to kill for it.

Shortly after I cashed my cheque for a development deal and finished a first draft, I was informed that no one was likely to touch my funny-sleazy-mystery movie in the current political climate. The sitting government had recently lost their shit about tax dollars backing a feature film called Young People Fucking, even though the dirtiest thing about it was the title. Common wisdom suggested that no movie called Sex Tape, involving the porn-and-sex industry in Montreal, was ever ever EVER going to get produced under a Stephen Harper mandate. And that mandate lasted nearly a whole damn decade. Stuck in a film industry so beholden to government backing, the movie had hit a wall, and my Sex Tape had, indeed, left me thoroughly fucked.

Years passed.

But Sex Tape continued to weigh on my mind. I thought often of Alexandra Middleton, the plucky L.A. publicist given an impossible task to accomplish in a completely alien city during the madness of the Christmas holiday season. I retained much love and affection for Sid Volke, the burnt-out ex-paparazzo slob, bottom-feeding his way through life as a cheap private snoop. And I still wanted to tell their story of trying to stop a scandal that would do damage to the career of America’s bitch-queen sweetheart Helen St. Simone and, more importantly, put her used and abused staff on the unemployment line come the New Year. My tale, which specifically took place somewhere in the first decade of the new century, wasn’t getting any younger. And even with a new non-Harper government in place, my hopes of getting it made by the dysfunctional Canadian film industry (or any other dysfunctional film industry) seemed remote. There was only one solution—a novel solution.sextapeebookcover

Sex Tape is the new novel I’m coming out with later this month. Once again, I’m looking to recruit readers so I can get some reviews up early on Amazon.com. If you’d like me to send you an eBook version of the book for free in the next few days, visit the contact page and drop me a note. You’ll get it a couple of weeks before anyone else.

And remember, if you’d like to keep up to date on what I’m putting out next, or be the first to hear news and special offers from Eyestrain Productions, FOLLOW the blog by hitting that button on the right-hand side of this very page.