Halloween Treats

Here it comes again, my favorite time of year. There’s a special place in my heart when the moon grows ominous, and the trees go naked. They’re signs of Autumn, and more importantly, they’re harbingers of Halloween. As for little old Justin Alcala, it means research for some of my darker projects. This year I’m cataloging some lesser known European and American folklore and tales. And how selfish it would be of me to not share them with you. So, until the children scream for Halloween, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite monsters and specters with you in order to lure you into the mood.

The Witch of Newark

“A witch should never be afraid of the darkest forest because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.”-Terry Pratchett

Not every monster starts off as such. The Witch of Newark is a legend past down from generation to generation in both the New Jersey and New England area. As the tale goes, she was once just an ordinary Newark settler girl who’d come from Europe with her family. As time passed and the girl grew older, she turned away from God and began to deal in dark magic within the wilds. She then joined a witch’s cult where she fornicated with the devil. Though this gave her special powers, it also cursed her flesh. Her features contorted into a demon’s, and her skin became withered and old. It’s said that she uses powerful magics to disguise herself, though if you look at her from behind, you can make out her horrific form. She now wanders the forests of New Jersey and New England looking for victims. She tempts them with food, money and sexual favors. Those who fall for her ruse have their souls violently ripped from their bodies in order to sustain the Witch of Newark’s unnaturally long life. 

 But just because it’s a legend, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any merit. Though the Witch of Newark’s folktale may be embellished, occultists and witch hunters have claimed to have evidence of the creature. Huts with dead animals and missing children are found every several years, and it’s said that these are the dwellings of the dark mistress. More over, the occasional survivor of her sin-offerings occasionally comes forth to confirm stories of a young woman who offered them silks and honey, only to transform into a deformed hag that tries to eat them. And although much of it can be construed as fear mongering for curious children who wish to play in the forest, it hasn’t stopped several witch hunters from looking into clues. 

 

Book Signing at Bucket O Blood Bookstore

Hello Chicagoans,

Come to Bucket O Blood Bookstore to get your signed copy of “The Devil in the Wide City” from 5-7pm. I’ll be the guy at the table telling corny jokes.

Book Signing Event Details

3182 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

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“The Devil in the Wide City” Hits Amazon

“The Devil in the Wide City” is now available in both ebook and paperback. Get your copy today.

https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Wide-City-Justin-Alcala-ebook/dp/B01E1R504I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1465854233&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+in+the+Wide+City

When Ned, a fallen angel who’s as suave as he is brainy, accidentally starts the Great Chicago Fire during an assignment, he all but gives up on ever visiting Earth again- that is until his replacement goes missing, and Ned gets a chance at redemption. 

Book Excerpt 

“It was one hell of a day, and that’s saying a lot where I’m from. It began as cliché as one might expect when living in the nine circles of Satan’s abyss. My girlfriend dumped me, my dogs ran away from home, and work gave me the pink slip. Things were looking dismal. If only I knew then that by this time tomorrow I’d be back on Earth, I might not have been so whiny.”

Justin Alcala, Author of “Consumed” and “The Devil in the Wide City”

On the tracks

 

Win an Ebook Copy of”The Devil in the Wide City”

Hello readers,

Below is a bona fide link to the Zharmae Publishing Press Giveaway, “The Devil in the Wide City.” Supplies are limited, so click now. You’ll be the envy of WordPress if you’re the lucky ebook winner, Act now, and as an added bonus, I’ll also pray for your immediate career success in a remote Shaolin Temple that I’m currently training at.

“The Devil in the Wide City” Ebook Giveaway

And remember, “The Devil in the Wide City” officially hits shelves May 26th, 2016.

Sincerely,

Justin Alcala

Author of “Consumed” and “The Plenty Dreadful” Series. 

The Devil in the Wide City Zharmae Cover

The Parking Lot Goose

Chicago is no stranger to the goose. Its home to Goose Island, The Mother Goose Parade, and it supports one of the largest Canadian Geese populations in the United States. There’s geese in the Chicago River, geese in Lake Michigan, and geese all over the north and west suburbs. And why not? With fresh grass, large parks and few natural predators, the goose can flourish. That’s why what I’m about to tell you is so interesting. For there’s a goose in Chicago that refuses to be like everyone else. It’s known as The Parking Lot Goose.

 

The Parking Lot Goose is a loner. It lingers along a near vacant parking lot between an electronic store and a furniture depot. There’s no pond to swim in. Food consists of scraps by a nearby dumpster and there’s no other goose to interact with. This is The Parking Lot Goose’s home. But, as dismal as this goose’s existence might seem, the bird refuses to leave. 

 

The first time I drove past the goose, I thought that this was something random and that the bird would surely move on and reunite with other pond geese soon. But one year became two, two became three, and after sometime, I’d come to the realization that The Parking Lot Goose wasn’t going anywhere. This was its kingdom, where it felt most comfortable. Living in the vast gray cement field with scraps as its feast and puddles of water as its wine was what the goose enjoyed. And who was I to judge?

 

Often in writing, we hurry to critique literary Parking Lot Geese. Stephen King’s recent genre exploration has been frowned upon. Andrew Smith’s consistent choice to write about teenage angst is often berated. Even young authors are attacked. Literature websites and blogs demand inspiring writers to get out of their comfort zone. There’s more than one article out in the world that states, “You need to remember that you’re writing to sell books. Target an audience, not yourself.” This is faulty logic. 

 

We live in a consumer’s world, so I get it when someone’s criticism is that a book will not sell. We have these expectations that everyone wants the same thing. And don’t get me wrong, if an author reaches out to a publisher, to a certain extent, they do want people to read their work. But we have to remember that if an author isn’t enjoying writing their book, you’re not going to enjoy reading it. Maybe it’s time to stop castigating writers for creating books that make them happy, and instead come to understand that not everything is made to fit the norm. If we can all learn to appreciate those Parking Lot Geese out there, we may discover that their peculiar way of going about things can be just as great.  

Justin Alcala

Author of “Consumed” and “The Devil in the Wide City” by Zharmae Publishing

http://www.justinalcala.com

On the tracks

And Don’t Forget…

“The Devil in the Wide City” is available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle May 26th, 2016

The Devil in the Wide City Zharmae Cover

Come Say Hello at My Book Signings...

I’ll be at Bucket O’ Blood Bookstore in Late June (Date to be announced)

Bucket

3182 N Elston Ave,

Chicago, IL 60618

AND…

Days of the Dead Horror Convention, June 24th-26th, 2016

Days of the Dead copy

The “Consumed” Horror Novel Giveaway

As part of our excitement for Justin Alcala’s next novel, “The Devil in the Wide City,” we are giving away 10 copies of Justin’s first novel, “Consumed.” Readers if you love Gothic-Horror mysteries, this is the book for you.

Please follow the link below for your chance to win!

“Consumed” Giveaway

Consumed 2

Horror Bookstore? I think I’m in Love.

There are some things in life that you just can’t ignore. One thing recently for me is Bucket o’ Blood bookstore. This wild establishment specializes in horror novels and horror-vinyl. It has anything a blood sucking vampire or misunderstood gothic kid could ask for. It’s one part macabre library, one part vinyl depot, and perhaps most importantly, a community hub where people can get together to enjoy the simpler thing in life- like discussing Zombie Apocalypses during their book club events or live music on specific weeks.

If you’re a Chicagoan, please feel free to stop by (3128 N Elston Avenue, Chicago IL 60618). Their awesome selection of novels will leave your head spinning and speaking in tongues. Not in the Chicago area? No problem. Check out their online Discogs page for great music and more (https://www.discogs.com/seller/BucketOBlood/profile).

Am I a Chicago lover? Of course. Am I also a fan of all things creepy? Well, yeah. But, it’s not to say that I’m alone. Remember, it’s places like this that keep weirdos like us happy, so please stop by or visit online.

Bucket

Official Site: http://www.bucketoblood.com/index/index.html

Events Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/119769541743572/

 

“The Devil in the Wide City” Official Publishing Date 5.26.16

It’s official! Zharmae Publishing Press has announced that “The Devil in the Wide City” will be available on Kindle May 26th, 2016, with paperback copies to follow shortly afterwards. For those who don’t know about the book…

When Ned, a fallen angel who’s as suave as he is brainy, accidentally starts the Great Chicago Fire during an assignment, he all but gives up on ever visiting Earth again- that is until his replacement goes missing, and Ned gets a chance at redemption. 

Excerpt:

 “It was one hell of a day, and that’s saying a lot where I’m from. It began as cliché as one might expect when living in the nine circles of Satan’s abyss. My girlfriend dumped me, my dogs ran away from home, and work gave me the pink slip. Things were looking dismal. If only I knew then that by this time tomorrow I’d be back on Earth, I might not have been so whiny.”

Stay tuned for more!

Justin Alcala

Author of “Consumed” and “The Devil in the Wide City”

http://www.justinalcala.com

By the Pond

 

 

Let the Right Ones In

No writer should ever go without critiquing. Receiving writing advice is beneficial. It helps test our mindset and keeps us thinking about the reader. However, there are many types of advice- sometimes good and sometimes…well, corrosive. It’s the responsibility of the writer to understand the difference between a valuable assessment and harmful opinion. While you may think that this is easy, you’ll find that your relationship to the source, the experience of the contributor and the preference of the reviewer all come into play when measuring the value of one’s opinion.

 I’m a strange kind of writer (shocked, I know). I write for friends and family, but rarely ask for their opinion. That’s because I learned early on that I associate deep rooted emotions in anything that loved ones might say. On the contrary, I’ve been told by editors, reading analysts and critics alike that they strongly disagree with the direction I’ve sent a story, and I haven’t minded one bit. That’s because I understand that outside sources aren’t judging my work based on the link between who I am and what I put on paper. Bending a paragraph in order to satisfy a friend’s opinion can be counterproductive. It’s up to the writer to understand that asking a loved one what they think may leave you more confused than when you started. 

 Another factor a writer must consider is the knowledge of their contributor. In my early years as a writer, I often made the mistake of asking someone that I wanted to be my reader (coworker, blogger, and online-reader) to analyze my work without considering what they know about the writing process. I’ve bounced ideas off of these respected individuals, only to find that I’ve let them deviate me from an underlined theme, highly thought out conflict or well developed character. In essence, their opinions have derailed the course of my story. By the time they read the book, they’re either disappointment that I didn’t take their thoughts into consideration or I’ve compromised, forcing a triangular thought into a circular peg. Once again, shame on me.

 Finally, one has to question the source of a critic’s literary preference. I’ve made the mistake of asking a biography editor about absurdist fiction, and a rationalist about urban fantasy. That’s like asking a Trekkie why Darth Vader ultimately returned to the light side. You’re begging for the Vulcan Death Grip. Instead, make sure that your source has written about the subject or is a knowledgeable fan. Ask the butcher about steak, not taxes.

Writing and criticism go hand-and-hand. The wrong kind can complicate your story. No criticism and you detach yourself from the reader. Critiques are useful. It’s up to us as writers to decipher the delicate balance between the beneficial and the poisonous. Just remember- don’t ask unless you’re prepared for something negative. We’re writers. It should be expected. In the words of Grub Street journalist, Samuel Johnson, “I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.”

Justin Alcala, Author of “Consumed” and “The Devil in the Wide City”

Visit at http://www.justinalcala.com

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