Horror on steroids

Let’s have some fun!

Today I’m reviewing Fresh Meat by Carolyn McCray

I’ll warn you right now this is not a scary story. This is a can’t catch your breath, squirm in your seat, all out horror fest with a cast of characters that Bundy or Gacy would feel right at home with!

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**Warning, this book is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. The gore level is a cross between Saw and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Much of Fresh Meat is set in a dungeon filled with vicious serial killers. It isn’t a matter of when blood will spill, it is how much.

No kidding!

Poor Evie. Never in a million years could her mind have imagined what’s happening to her now.

The night started out well enough. She hung out with her co-workers at the nightclub, enjoying herself for the most part. When they all want to move on to the next club, Evie declines. She’s had enough of the smoke and noise. Despite Nancy’s urging to catch a taxi, Evie elects to walk home. It’ll clear her head and her lungs.

She should have taken the taxi. With little warning, she’s grabbed, dragged into the alley, and  knocked out by a chemical filled rag pressed tightly over her mouth and nose. Her world fades to black.

alcatraz photo: Alcatraz alcatraz.jpg

She comes to in what looks like a prison. There are cells on each side of the room. In those cells are men. Dangerous men.

This book had me thinking “SAW” or “DEXTER” on steroids. Some sick twist gathers a bunch of serial killers, controls them with metal shock collars, and brings in a plaything for them to fight over. He randomly opens cell doors and watches as the poor sap tries to survive.

Just imagine being kidnapped and used as fresh meat for a bunch of rapists, murderers, and worse. Oh Yeah, there is worse. One of these guys is a cannibal.

There’s no way out, cameras are watching your every move and then the games begin.

When the cell doors open and the serial killers emerge from their cells, the only reason Evie survives is they are busy fighting each other over who gets her first. The big guy, Clyde, only wants her top half. Back Door wants her fighting and screaming, and Andrew wants to be friends before he kills her.

She’s lucky when she gets knocked into Darion’s cell. He makes no move to hurt her and  the others won’t enter his cell. They’re all afraid of him. You see, he only kills men. Maybe if she’s grateful they can come to an arrangement. Her options are slim to none.

Oh, what a twisted, shocking, psychological, read this was. What made it even better was the writing. The author had me worrying about how bad it was going to get. And it got bad. I like how she had me actually liking something about a few of these guys. She must have done a lot of research into the psychology of serial killers.

You’ve heard it said so many times, “He was such a nice guy, I never would have believed he could do something like this.” I watch the show ID often, and it’s surprising how often the killer is someone no one would suspect. Someone the victim knew well.

I, for one, will be looking over my shoulder, peering  into dark recesses, and never walking alone at night after reading this. It’s my wake up call.

You just never know what or who is out there, waiting to snatch you up for a little fun and games called murder.

scared woman photo: Color Splash Comic option3.jpg  Kudos for freakin me out!

About the author

Image of Carolyn McCray

Carolyn has had a long and extremely interesting road to become a bestseller.

When she head to veterinary school those many years ago she had no idea decades later she would be writing controversial historical thrillers, gut wrenching mysteries and roller coaster-style action/adventure tales!

Born in San Francisco and raised in the beautiful Napa Valley, Carolyn always had an overactive imagination. As a child you could usually find her dragging the neighborhood children out to the haunted barn to make her Nancy Drew-style audio tapes. Oh and did she mention, there was an entire life-sized recreation of the nativity scene in the rafters? Yeah, that wasn’t just a little creepy.

Which of course was great practice for writing such blockbusters as Plain Jane: A Patterson-style thriller with a dash of Hannibal and 30 Pieces of Silver: An Extremely Controversial Historical Thriller.

Carolyn is honored to have a seven book contract with Amazon’s mystery and thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer along with being one of the eight books during the inaugural launch of Amazon’s new Serial program (9th Circle).

With over 250,000 books sold, Carolyn now lives on a beautiful lake in the Pacific Northwest where the fog rolls in over the water, snuffing out all signs of life around her. Yep, she still loves the creepy!

To purchase the book click on the cover

Carolyn has written many books. Go here to see more.

How To Kill Someone The Right Way

A sequel to “How To Kill Someone“. Confidence was the main theme of that last article. You can’t sell a death if you don’t believe it. But what else do you need to write a good scene? Here are some other pointers I picked up that I think are useful.

Gore and Blood: I can look back at everything I have ever written and have not once describe how the person died in every vivid detail. Gore and Blood – to me – are almost like overused adverbs. You don’t need them. A simple “And he died” can make a scene dramatic with only a handful of words. Of course you can’t have two people talking and cut straight into it.

“So Murray, whatcha doing tomorrow?” And he died. 

It’s a worthless and very amateur line.

Try with feelings first.

There was a burst, not like a sound and not like a light but of pain and it tore through his back and left him lifeless on the floor. There on the dirty alley, where children once laughed, Murray died.

A death in two sentences and to me fills the world easily with the right image. No description of guts or organs being destroyed. You don’t really need it. Which leads us to the next important topic . . .

The Lead Up: Plain and simple, it helps if your reader see it coming. People dying out of thin air is just broken writing. A man walking alone, or a man not in the middle of conflict works the best. A lot of times stories have too much stuff going on, with people hunting this guy and that, you lose the power of just slowing things down. So back to Murray . . .

Sun dripped along with the water drops from the brick walls. Each stealing a piece of attention that Murray should have had for his own safety. The walk had already tired him and carrying the two suitcases had already taken a toll on his shoulders, yet he smelled something in the air. I once read that water didn’t have a smell, it was a catalyst for your sense, boosting your sense. So what you  are actually doing is smelling something that’s already there. And there, at the end of the alley was Genova. Standing like a gun fighter waiting for the clock to strike and the smell reminded Murray of his father.

You know why girls like bad guys? It’s because if a nice guy brought them roses they feel just like an other girl that he gave roses to – nothing special. But when a douchebag brings a girl a single rose, he is going up and beyond for her, making her feel like the only person in his life that means anything to him – pure fucking special. (My own sexist theory.) Writing is the same way. You got to take it slow, tease the reader with some slow paces so that when you hit something fast, something climatic it feels like . . . they are getting something special.

Tools of Death: Now this is important. One day I want to write a whole post on guns. For now, I’ll settle with some little tidbits. Just remember that you need to research. Research, research and research. Buy a gun, buy a knife. Hold them in your hand, write how they make you feel. Shoot a gun, smell the air, listen to the sound and watch what it does to a target.

Or read these handy little guides online.

Stupid Gun Mistakes EVERY Writer Makes

So you want to write about guns…

Emotional Paint: Everything we try to convey, we paint. We paint with keystrokes. This article is intended for those who need help doing something they haven’t done or something they can’t figure out of to do – paint death. I like to paint with real emotion. I always find it easier to write about feelings when I recently have used them. So I want to tell you a personal story. I have to warn you, animals were killed in it and you may not agree with what I did. So here it goes:

There was a neighbor, there’s always one like this, who had two large boxers that turned into eight over months. They were big, strong and dug holes like trenchers. In a matter of months they had killed two of my neighbor’s dog, my wife’s seven year old lab and three cats of ours. Now, we live outside city limits, so there really is no one to help us with our troubles. We, my wife and I, love animals. We had 9 cats living outside at one time living in that yard, which sits in front of our new property. We used to live there but bought the property across the street and the cats refuse to move. What can I say, it’s their property too.

So one of the cats had kittens, she was the only one that wasn’t fix and since we had lost other cats we thought it would add some sunshine to our yard, after all kittens are incredibly adorable. And they were. I fell in love immediately, and I don’t like cats. I’m a dog guy, but these little furry balls of joy liked me, and would climb on me as I feed the other animals. How could I not love them.  At this point, the boxers numbers had thinned. There were now two killers. 

Somehow, perhaps determination of these crazed animals, they got in my yard. Littered throughout the yard were many dead kittens and my wife’s oldest cat. Now I don’t condone killing anything, I never in my life even wanted to go hunting with my father and brother. It’s not for me and I’ve always made it clear, yet there I was standing with a flashlight in one hand and trying to balance a rifle in the other, aiming at the two dogs that won’t leave my yard and had just left little shadows of life in my yard; the cat’s yard – our yard.

I killed one. The other wouldn’t leave, just sat close to the dead body perhaps hoping he’d come back to life. I fired, maybe I missed because I saw the look on his face. Or maybe I just didn’t see the point in killing both dogs. I didn’t miss completely, he now walks around with a limp, but I look back at the day and I don’t regret anything. Wait, I do regret something. I regret not killing that other dog.

This one event inspired many of my newest stories. I really think the best way to paint is when you are emotional. Try writing when you’re angry, when you’re sad or, my favorite, when you’re in love.

-L. Vera

Review: Requiem in E Sharp

Requiem in E Sharp by Joan De La Haye (Fox Spirit Books)

Blurb: Sundays in Pretoria are dangerous for selected women.

A murderer plagued by his childhood, has found a distinctive modus operandi to salve his pathological need to escape the domination of the person who was supposed to cherish him.

As The Bathroom Strangler’s frenzy escalates and the body count mounts, Nico van Staaden, the lead detective on the case, finds himself confronting his own demons as he struggles to solve the murders of the seemingly unconnected victims. The lack of evidence in the sequence of deaths and pressure from his superiors are challenges he must overcome.

Review: In Requiem in E Sharp De La Haye offers up a chilling look not only at a hate-filled serial killer but at the grim world of modern South Africa. In her novel we glimpse a Pretoria that’s filled with random violence, police corruption and internecine mistrust between racial groups. The book is dedicated to her brother Johan, “who survived 17 bullets.” Against this backdrop a serial killer finds it easy to get away with a string of violent deaths for some time before the police put together the clues — and then elude capture when the lead detective finds himself hampered at every turn by incompetence and outright hostility from his colleagues. Add to the mix his new relationship with Janet, a strikingly beautiful woman but one who’s also wrapped up in her recently suicidal friend Natalie and her often overbearing partner Louis. The women want the guys to get along, the better to patch over the strains of their past. De La Haye offers up a story of twists and psychological turns that will keep you entertained.

~ K. A. Laity

How To Kill Someone

Killing people is easy, at least for writers. (Now all you weirdoes who came here to see how to really kill people can leave.) Now, the hardest thing to do is to sell the idea. I’ve never killed a person. I don’t really know all the feelings involved. I’m sure most writers don’t so we have to sell the idea that we have, or at least sell the idea that are character can kill someone.

I like to view seeing a story in my head as staring through windows. I open one and sit with my elbows on the sill, a laptop and sometimes a glass of water and stare at the contents. Many times I feel like I have no involvement in it – I’m just a scribe. The story exist as it does and it’s my job to get an accurate description of what happens. Stephen King also describes this in a similar manner in On Writing but as fossils. I like windows.

So there I am, with my laptop – sometimes with my iPad or iPhone – peering out a window watching someone die. That’s a pretty normal day for me. I’ve never killed anyone; but I think of other people doing it all the time, hence all the windows. So this window is one that floats above a grassy, sunny space away from any form of life besides these two people. One is on his knees and the other is holding him down, from the throat. Have I ever seen this event? Not in real life, just in movies, images in my mind and the internet. So let’s continue this as a story, or a window.

The sky is bright, probably too bright for such a scene; but it’s too late now, Jerry had already begun what he thought he would never do. I shuffle and write that in my laptop. Click. Clickty. Click. I know the other man’s name, Leroy. Why? I don’t know, that’s just his name and it will always be his name, even though I’m watching him die. His eyes, bulge, his face reddens first, and then it fades. It fades like a man slowly turning into a ghost, white and it’s sickening. Something in my stomach churns; but I watch and I type. I like watching.

Jerry’s face. It’s different, it’s not full of anger, it’s full of satisfaction. There’s no smile, just that look, a stoic pleasurable form of satisfaction. And Leroy dies, his face blue, his eyes like swollen white berries. Leroy dies. Click. Clickty. Klack. Klack. Klack. 

So how do you kill someone? With what you see. Ignore everything else. Did those things really happen the way I describe? Who knows? That’s the way I see it and that’s all that really matters. After all, are they buying the truth, or a story. Are they reading because what happens in the book is “possible”. No. If you want possible things watch the news. I’m here to show what I see in the windows.

I’ve read reviews where people say, “I don’t believe that’s possible,” or “Come one why would it happen on a sunny, happy grassy knoll.” The truth is I don’t know, it just did and I’m portraying that as best I can (I’m no professional, just another self-pub writer but a happy self-pub writer). Have I ever seen a person’s face turn all those crazy things. Nah. For all I know it doesn’t even happen that way.

Research is important, just for the fact that there’s a lot of douches and trolls ready to pick something apart if you don’t research. They expect our omniscient to be almost godlike. We writers know that isn’t possible, but we try. Try. For gods sake, try. Then with that research, you’ll feel confident. That’s what sells death – confidence. If you truly believe what you see is really happening, people will to.

As a writer, I like to think I’m lenient on a lot of things, I even over look spelling and send the author corrections. Yeah, I’m hardcore. But please do some homework, don’t change names and leave me confused. And not re-reading your story isn’t killing anyone but your readers. When I’m staring out my window watching poeple die, I tend to write too fast and misspell, miswrite, or just plain miss something important. So edit. Edit, edit, edit and then get someone else to edit. Please. Then kill some more people.

-L. Vera

Check out Part 2: How To Kill People The Right Way