All posts by justinalcala

GHOSTS OF THE PAST 4 Days Ago Have you ever opened up some of your long forgotten poems, short stories or novels? Painful right? The document is probably littered with vague pronoun references, unnecessary shifts in tense and fused sentences. Even worse, there are sections of the story that don’t contribute to the plot, insignificant characters and mawkishly sentimental underlying messages. If you’re like me, the first thing you do is plant your face in your hands (a.k.a. the “Face-palm”) and try not to cry. Afterwards, you stare at the Delete button, tempted to obliterate all proof that this story or poem was once yours. Finally, after waging a war with your conscience, you decide to live and let live, leaving the document alone, but lamenting about how terrible your writing once was. But wait, that’s not fair. Your old work shouldn’t be some dark secret that needs to be hidden from the world. It should be a testimony of what you’ve accomplished. Not only did the “old you” put a lot of effort into that story, but the work is a reminder of who you as a writer once inspired to be. It’s a roadmap of your writing life. Sometimes, we as writers are very hard on ourselves. We have to be because we’re constantly pursuing perfection. However, we forget that we didn’t just learn how to write overnight. There wasn’t some magical gift bestowed upon us by a divine being. No, we had to start somewhere and work at it, and those old documents are a symbol of that. For me, once the shock wears off of how bad my writing once was, I realize how beautiful these works really are. Because behind the jungle of grammatical errors and turbulent plot hooks is a vision I once had. I see Justin Alcala, the writer who wanted to give readers a little scare with his horror stories. I see Justin Alcala, the yarn spinner who wanted to give a fresh perspective on legends and folklore. I see Justin Alcala, the young man who wanted to make people happy by telling great stories. All too often, we authors get swept away by the power that comes with having your works published. I know I get a real kick out of talking to my publisher about cover art or sending new ideas to my editor. It’s fun to put your work onto bookshelves. But we can’t forget about the fundamentals. We need to remind ourselves why we started writing in the first place, and those old tales are just the thing. So the next time your dusting off an old manuscript, remember what those pages really mean. The words may tell a bad story, but the history of its creation is its own sort of autobiography.

READERS, Don’t PAY THE PRICE

It’s the spooky season, and Covid has created a need for scary books, but holy smokes, they’re expensive. That doesn’t seem fair. So, it’s time to flip things around. For a limited time, I’m offering a few short stories and books for free, and another set at discount price. Check them out below and enjoy. Some are online magazines, others Kindle based. All are for your enjoyment. Happy Halloween!

FREE

Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine

A Horse for Us All

http://blackpetalsks.tripod.com/blackpetalsissue71/id35.html

Killian Black is a ruthless highwayman on his last shilling due to a treacherous epidemic in eighteenth century England that’s forced everyone into hiding. Luckily, he’s heard rumors of a royal convoy riding from the King’s country estates, a score that’ll replenish his pockets and pay for his many vices. The only catch, his informant can’t confirm that there’s riches in the royal carriage, so it’s up to Killian to investigate. 

Drunken Pen Writing & Podcast

Buried in the Rain

(Available 10.25.20)

https://drunkenpenwriting.com

Steve is a stuffy professor down on his luck, grading papers on a rainy night at a coffee house. His only excitement are the glances from his crush, the barista, Nikki. Then something strange happens. While Steve reads about a possible killer in the area, a teary eyed girl appears in the entrance of the lonely cafe. Steve tries to comfort her, but scares her back into the stormy street. Torn, Steve pursues her through the bleak weather, beginning a chase that takes him to a broken house in a bad side of town, and ends… in blood. 

DISCOUNTED PRICES

A Forest Only Whispers (99 cents)

DLG Publishing 

A Forest Only Whispers is a romantic witchcraft story about Melissa, a contemporary witch that lives with her mother and Nanny in a charming New England village. Years ago, her high school boyfriend, Rían, disappeared in the nearby woods, and since then Melissa has never been the same. Now a college student, Melissa spends time with her family, the O’Phelans, her coven sisters and best friend, Hellwise. While the story starts off with a simple family tradition of baking Nine Maidens Pie during the Autumn Equinox, the reader learns that Melissa is sneaking off to join her sisters in praise. As the plot continues, Melissa joins her modern day coven as they go into the legendary Limingdover Woods, where Rían disappeared.

Consumed, BLKDOG Publishing ($3.99)

Sergeant Nathaniel Brannick is trapped in Victorian London during a period of disease, crime, and insatiable vices. One night, Brannick returns from work to find an eerie messenger in his flat who warns him of dark things to come. 

When his next case involves a victim who suffered from consumption, he uncovers clues that lead him to believe the messenger’s warning. Despite his incredulity, he can’t help but wonder if the practical man he once was has been altered by an investigation encompassed in the paranormal. That is, until he meets the witch hunters, and everything takes a turn for the worse.

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Get Your Free Cooy

Get your FREE Amazon Kindle copy today through Saturday, October 10th. Join Ned, his miniature hellhounds, nerd-minions, and book-witch girlfriend, Chelsea, as they try to save Chicago from the corporate warlock. Hilarious, fun and supernatural adventure just in time for Halloween.

https://youtu.be/Lx0ihfa8e48https://youtu.be/Lx0ihfa8e48

https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Wide-City-Justin-Alcala-ebook/dp/B07TT7BNYT/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=justin+alcala&qid=1601976233&sr=8-3https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Wide-City-Justin-Alcala-ebook/dp/B07TT7BNYT/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=justin+alcala&qid=1601976233&sr=8-3

What A Spooky Year

It’s been a fantastic literary year for this nerd (amidst the real life horror). I want thank all of the great supporters including readers, interviewers and fellow bloggers. I can not, nor want to, do this without you. On that note, take a look at all the recent titles from 2020. The year has been frightening, but hopefully the books will merely give you a fictional scare.

https://www.amazon.com/Justin-Alcala/e/B00SN2VJAM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1601474301&sr=8-1nd

Beyond the Levee and Other Ghost Stories Anthology: “It Dances Now” by Justin Alcala

Power Loss “It Snows Here” by Justin Alcala

DLG Publishing Presents: “A Forest Only Whispers” by Justin Alcala

Running Wild Anthology of Stories Volume 2: “A Blind and Terrible Thing” by Justin Alcala

101 Proof Horror “The Lantern Quietly Screams” by Justin Alcala

On Time Anthology “Time Will Tell” by Justin Alcala

Black Petals Magazine Presents “A Horse for All of Us” by Justin Alcala

On that note, please, be safe, healthy and happy. Read books and make life as cool as you deserve.

Justin Alcala

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Check Me Out on My Latest Podcast Interview, “Were You Still Talking?”

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“A Dead End Job” Will Hit the pages with the Parliament House

When you’re an author, you dream of signing w/ a publisher like The Parliament House. They have knowledgable editors, an intuitive market team and a creative process for getting your book the attention it deserves. That’s why I am excited to say that my absurdists-urban fantasy novel, “A Dead End Job,” has been deleted by this great publishing team to hit the pages between 2021-22. Stay tuned for more electrifying details about Buck, an ex-hitman interning for the Grim Reaper, soon.

“A Dead End Job” was initially proofread by the powerful “Add an Eye” editing team. If you’re working on that first great novel or need someone to edit your written presentation, look no further. I used Add an Eye services for “A Dead End Job,” and it helped make me a finalist for the Speculative Fiction Writer’s Award in 2019. Since then, I’ve never looked back. Try them today, and see where their skilled eye can help your writing. https://addaneye.com

Checkout my interview on WERE YOU STILL TALKING w/ Joel Albrecht

Checkout my interview on WERE YOU STILL TALKING w/ Joel Albrecht. We talk nerdy, discuss the great author pantheon and ponder whether Antonio Banderas can play any part without being super McSexy.

Apple Podcast:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/were-you-still-talking/id1460064725?ls=1

Google Play:

https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iwk5c5gjjrar4rvtwxu72vpcrye

Spotify:

Radio Public:

Deezer:

https://www.deezer.com/us/show/427982

For Our Heroes

You deserve a free story! Check out my short work, “The Dilemma of Old Furnaces” on Please See Me Magazine’s “Heroes” issue. The online magazine’s mission is to elevate the voices and stories of vulnerable populations, and those who care for them. At the heart of their publication is the cultivation of meaningful patient–provider partnerships in the spirit of wellness. So please, sit back and enjoy. This one is for our medical heroes, the sick but brave patients, and any other readers who just need a retreat into their imagination.

https://pleaseseeme.com

The Dilemma of Old Furnaces

Please See Me Magazine “Heroes”

Need a Scare: Check Out My latest Ghost Story

Who doesn’t love to be scared? Check out my latest short ghost story, “A Lantern Quietly Screams” in the 101 Proof Horror anthology by Czykmate Productions/Haunted MTL. There’s so many talented authors in this book of horror, it’s scary. 

“A Lantern Quietly Screams”

When four history students researching the Underground Railroad can’t find records on the old network near the Blue Ridge Mountains, they put out an ad in the paper. Luckily, an archivist, and descendent of a former slave-gone-guide, agrees to drive up to tell her grandmother’s tale. However, as the group waits along the base of the dark mountain, ghostly lanter lights flicker in the wood line. Will their source arrive before anything happens? Only time will tell.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1989225306?pf_rd_r=8C6DPNBRE1QRXN6T59Z2&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee

Need a reliable proofreader or editor for your short. Look no more. Check out Add an Eye editorial services. Their charming, elite staff are the best. I use Add an Eye for all my editorial needs.

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June Updates

Consumed faced off against fifty other BLKDOG Publishing titles to win Next Best in the 2020 Book of the Year Awards, losing by a mere three-percent for first place. It was a lot of fun, and thank you to everyone for the support. 

Check out my appearance on Marsha Cook’s “Michigan Avenue Media” podcast where we talk shop about writing during Covid, genres and my upcoming short story, A Forest Only Whispers.”

Finally, writers, if you’re looking for a talented set of eyes to edit your work, look no further. I’ve used Add an Eye Editorial Services for the last year, and have had four short stories published, plus one award earned, because of it. Add an Eye knows what they’re talking about and can clean up any manuscript, report or document flawlessly. Rates are extremely fair and the staff is the friendliest on the planet.
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I Need You: Help Save Consumed

Hello WordPress Community,

It pains me to ask, but my book “Consumed” is neck-and-neck in the final two for BLKDOG’s Book of the Year award. I hate to beg, but would you be so kind as to take seven seconds to vote CONSUMED as the Winner on yourTwitter account? Every vote matters in this clash of horns! No worries if you can’t. 

Just click the below link, scroll down to the survey section, and vote CONSUMED. Thank you so much.

My Side of the Tracks: A Call For Understanding

Like a lot of you, I have a simple rule with people. If  they anger, baffle or discourage me, I try to spin the table, flip the coin, walk a mile in their shoes. I try to justify actions I might not understand by thinking about the world from their perspective. A fool will say this is foolish and a wise person will say it’s wise. Whatever you want to call it, at this point it’s instinctive. 

So when people took to the streets after the recent string of police murders, it was easy to understand. Now I’m half Mexican, so maybe it’s because I saw the struggles of my father. It’s easy to see the pain when you’ve watched it on the faces of people you love. Yet, everywhere online, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, there seemed to be this static, a genuine confusion amongst people. Not just any people, but specifically White America. Now, before you react, before you think, Here we go again with another lecture, read a little further. This isn’t a speech of criticism. 

See, most of the White America confusion that I saw wasn’t hateful. It’s just that the questions seemed to lack insight from the other side. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “It isn’t that they cannot find the solution. It is that they cannot see the problem.” So I thought I’d reach out to an old friend of mine. A person from another lifetime, when I still lived in Chicago. I wanted to ask him questions for myself, and for others. I wanted to ask what’s it like being black during these unrestful times, and what is it that most of White America is getting wrong. 

Now let me introduce you to Anthony. He’s a proud new dad, a musician at MoneyTeam Music Group, and a man who grew up on the streets. He’s tall, brawny and has a fierce look in his eyes. Some people might not admit that they lock their car door when he passes by. Yet, for the brief time that I knew him, all I’ve ever seen was a smart, kind and open-minded man, a guy vocal about erasing hate and getting everyone on the same page. In his opinion, the problem can’t be solved unless you first understand. You have to see things from his side of the tracks.   

Anthony, thanks for taking the time to talk. Can you tell us who you are and why you may have some insight on current racial issues?

My name is Anthony Alexander Avila. I’m a mixed raced male, Black & Mexican, from Chicago.

I grew up in Englewood one of the more urban areas in the city. I’ve survived for thirty years in that environment, so I think my opinions hold some validity.

Seeing what you have from the African American and Latino community, what’s one thing that White America gets wrong?

I think there’s this sense of criminality associated with black and Latino communities. This is a false. It’s a  narrative derived from film and media. They show urban areas as some war zone. There’s some truth to the violence, but that’s not all there is We have neighborhood clubs and block parties. My uncles host cookouts where everyone is invited regardless of race and class. Everyone can eat and coexist. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for these people. I had neighbors that would watch out for me and my sister when my mom was working. You know the whole It takes a village to raise a child?. That was us. Not everything about the “Hood” is kill or be killed. We are people too. And that’s who you see in the streets. A community of tired people trying to find a voice against the violence we’ve been trudging through since the day we were born. 

If you could reach out to White America and make one thing clear, what would it be? 

Simple. Don’t judge a book by its cover.. Don’t let that fear of the unknown be what continues to run a divide between us as Human beings. We are not some alien race. We are you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you may not understand. As long as you’re humble about it, asking questions is the beginning. It’s what will help you understand why we feel slighted as a race. 

Why do you think White America is now vocal about protests and looting, but they weren’t vocal when George Floyd was originally killed? 

Honestly, I think once a fire burns hot enough no matter where you are you’re going to feel it. It’s scary to see angry ethnicities marching together on the streets where you walk. But it’s this same fire my people and our communities have been smoldering in for years —  the fear, anxiety, confusion. As much as I think social media is a curse to humanity, I’m thankful for it because these atrocities that were normal in black and brown communities and starting to land right in the palms of White America. 

You were able to WATCH Philando Castile be murdered in front of his child while unarmed. You were able to watch Eric Garner cry out, he can’t breathe eleven times while multiple officers restrained him. The entire world watched an officer put his knee in the neck of an unarmed black man for 9 MINUTES! It’s almost inhuman to not want to act or do something. Now, some people are acting out of love and some just don’t want to be burned again, but hopefully these recent events will be the tipping point and we can start moving towards REAL change. 

What’s one thing you’d like African Americans and Latinos to think about? 

Think about your place in the world. Think about the significance of your existence and what it means. Once we understand who we are as individuals then and only then can we come together and make change as a collective whole. Think about our children. Think about the future they will inherit. What are we leaving behind? Let’s fight to change the way history is taught in the school system. Let’s get the people who are confused to understand. The Latin and African American communities have made our nation what it is today. We have to teach our youth that there is no knowledge of self. That’s why so many kids view life as insignificant. They’re told they aren’t as important as others. That’s why they are able to take life so easily. The real change starts with us. 

What do you think it’ll take to make the world right? 

I think if we can look past things like race and wealth and focus more on the things that make us all human, then we will really see how significant ALL lives are. We are all more the same than we are different. We should spend our time trying to be the best human beings we possibly can. I feel like that’s the only way to find true peace, and I thank everyone who decides that today, they’ll be part of that change. 

Anthony, thanks for answering these questions. I know they might sound simple, but sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves that confusion doesn’t mean ignorance and differences don’t mean hate.

No worries. If we can get one person to say, yeah, you know what, this is a problem, then it’s all worth it. Black, latino, white — we are so much more the same than we are different. White America, can you help? Can you look past your fears and see that this gets fixed when we all come together.