Ink Stains Vol. 2 coming Sept. 27!


Dark Alley Press to release second volume in Ink Stains Anthology

Ink Stains Vol. 2 coverThe second edition Ink Stains, a dark fiction anthology, will be released Sept. 27, 2016 in both print and digital formats.

Trust. Sometimes it is freely given. Other times it is hard-earned. Either way, it’s is a fragile thing. Give it to the wrong person, and it just might cost your life.

The second volume of Ink Stains literary anthology explores the complexity of placing your trust in another person and what can happen when that trust is betrayed.

Join authors Brian Becker, Cooper O’Connor, Marc E. Fitch, I. K. Paterson-Harkness, Daniel Henshaw, J.D. Kotzman, Melanie Marshall, and Douglas Andrew Smith as they deftly delve deep into the dark side of betrayal in a collection of literary tales.

From random encounters with strangers in the night to lovers turned enemies, from “I swear I didn’t know!” to “Who’s laughing now?” our authors dissect reasons betrayal is inevitable, no matter what the relationship, and the sometimes fatal consequences of such actions.

About Ink Stains

Ink Stains, a quarterly anthology published by Dark Alley Press, features gritty fiction. We are about shining a stark light on the shadows of life, exploring those dimly lit corridors, and unearthing those long-buried secrets. We are about examining the human existence and the human psyche in its raw, delicate and dangerous state. We don’t shy away from controversy, nor do we believe good will always triumph over evil or that someone will always be around to save the day. Sometimes all we have is ourselves. And the stories that keep us turning the page.

“Ink Stains Vol. 2” released Sept. 27, 2016 by Dark Alley Press. ISBN: 978-1-946050-00-7 $14.95 trade paperback; $2.99 digital. 164 pages. Edited by N. Apythia Morges.

Review copies available upon request.

Ink Stains debuts


InkStainsVol1_FinalPRINTCover5.25x8inch300dpiCMYKDeath. A permanent end. Termination of life.

Some embrace death as if reuniting with a long-missing old friend. Others fear it, try to outwit it, hide from it. And then there are those who are fascinated by it, mesmerized by it, chasing it down, taunting it, challenging it.

In Ink Stains, Volume 1, eight authors explore death in all its facets in a collection of short stories that range from fantastical to gritty to supernaturally creepy. Join them in a journey through the darker side of fiction.

Ink Stains, Volume 1 features stories by Michelle K. Bujnowski , Eddie Cantrell, John S. McFarland, Steph Minns, A. O’Neal, Tamela J. Ritter, Aaron Vlek, and J. S. Watts.

About Ink Stains Vol. 1

  • Series: Ink Stains
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Alley Press; 1 edition (March 26, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692628118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692628119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches

Buy it from Amazon  /   Barnes and Noble

New anthology to launch


Check it out! Submissions for the new Dark Alley Press anthology Ink Stains open Wednesday, July 1!

Meet Thomas Lopinski, author of The Art of Raising Hell


Thomas Lopinski is the author of the YA dark fic, The Art of Raising Hell, published by Dark Alley Press and available in print and digital formats wherever books are sold.

About The Art of Raising Hell

In The Art of Raising Hell, Newbie Johnson has recently moved to Bunsen Creek,
Illinois, when his mother is killed in a tragic car crash. His father does his best to
maintain a normal household, but his broken heart is just not up to the task.
Newbie finds solace by hanging out with his three buddies in their clandestine
Backroom hideout. Getting into mischief becomes their favorite pastime as they try
to follow in the footsteps of Lonny Nack, who has perfected the art of running on all
four.

Thomas Lopinski interviewed by N. Apythia Morges

NAM: I met Tom through my freelancing work. He was looking for an author to help with the first chapter of a book he loved but wasn’t getting where he wanted with it. The first time I read it, I knew I had to have it for Dark Alley Press. I was very excited when he submitted it to VBP and, of course, I snatched it up immediately. There was something about this book that drew me in and made me feel a part of this wonderfully messy world of these four teenagers finding their way in life. Tom does a brilliant job at representing what those formative years are really like – hard, confusing, full of love and loss and discovery, yet is still full of profound and wondrous moments.

Now, let’s hear from the man himself.

What was your inspiration for The Art of Raising Hell?

I’ve always wanted to write a book about some of my best friends growing up but wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. I couldn’t write the truth because that would get everybody into trouble so I just put the idea to the side and forgot about it for several years. I also wanted to write about a few guys in my hometown who were real hell raisers that showed no fear and were feared by many. Then in the middle of the night last summer, I woke up with the opening line rolling off my tongue. I picked up the laptop and didn’t stop writing for about six weeks. That became the basis for the novel. As I was writing, other subjects like bullying, the environment, racism, and the absurd conditions we find ourselves in started creeping into the pages inspiring me to take the book to a whole other level.

What is the “art” of raising hell?

It’s more a frame of mind than anything. Anyone can howl at the moon, knock over a few trashcans and get into trouble. It takes skill to learn how to raise hell at just the right time, with just the right amount of moxie, and get away with it.

Is there any of yourself or your childhood friends in your characters? If so, how?

There were four of us in a backroom growing up. I remember sitting in the back of an old MG drinking beer at 4:00 in the morning saying, “We should write a book about all this.” Of course, when I finally got around to it, I couldn’t remember half the stories and the ones I did remember weren’t that fantastic. So, I took pieces of this story, traits of that person, made up the rest and molded it all into Bunsen Creek.

I also pulled inspiration from several residents in town that I didn’t know very well but knew about their reputations. You’d think growing up in a small town that there wouldn’t be a lot to draw from but that wasn’t the case. There were so many eccentric personalities running around my hometown that we’d classify as abnormal or psychotic today. When we were kids though, we just thought people were supposed to act like that. In the bigger cities, they’re the folks you see living on the streets or hiding behind a fenced in yard. In a small town, they’re somebody’s crazy uncle.

Did you raise hell as a teenager? If so, give us a good story of one instance.

I think the statutes of limitations haven’t run out yet so…no comment. All I will say is that many of the stories in the book are based on personal experiences.

Running on all four is a theme throughout your book. How does that theme play into your everyday life?

To me, the metaphor reminds me to take chances. We all walk around on two feet and lead fairly normal lives. When you’re running on all four, you’re taking a golden opportunity and acting upon it before it’s too late. Moving to California was a big one for me. It was scary and I still miss the family and friends I left behind. But in the end, it was the right move.

Your characters go through a lot of loss. Is that something you experienced at a young age? Why was it important to your characters to experience these losses?

I didn’t really lose anyone close growing up. That’s always one of the dangers of writing in first person. I’m sure readers will want to know what it was like growing up without a mother, but in reality, my parents both lived long fruitful lives. In college, there was a guy who always used to say “To your mother” before drinking a shot. I took that memory and built it into the storyline. People just started dying after that.

Later on in life, I did lose two of my closest friends though. They both died sudden deaths within a few years of each other. One had a brain aneurism and the other died in a freak scuba accident. Those experiences taught me that I should never take anything or anyone for granted. I think writing about loss in the book did help me heal those wounds.

What was the most challenging part of writing The Art of Raising Hell?

Keeping it short. I could have written twice as many pages easily but didn’t think it was warranted. I want people to read my book and walk away with a smile, not fall asleep.

What scene did you enjoy writing the most?

That would have to be the streaking incident. I can still remember the night it happened and how festive the whole town was throughout the evening. Of course, it didn’t quite happen the way I described it in the book but, just like any good story over time, it took on a life of its own.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I used to play in rock bands and write very silly songs when I was younger. I was never that good at it, but boy, did I have fun. Then a group of my friends asked me to join their writers group. While most of them were struggling to finish their books and losing interest, I was already working on a second novel. That’s when I realized my calling.

Why do you write?

That’s such a hard question to answer. Why do people sing or wear tattoos? It’s just who I am, I guess. Let me see if I can explain this a little better. If I didn’t write, my head would explode. How’s that?

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?

…and then some. I’ve spent my whole life around musicians, singers, writers and artists. I’ve seen the good that comes from people getting together and spontaneously creating a wonderful song out of thin air. I’ve also seen the pitfalls too where the most talented person you’ve ever met ends up in the gutter and dies of alcohol poisoning. Writers have to be thick skinned in order to survive. That’s hard to do when you’re sharing something you’ve created from your heart and soul with the rest of the world. I knew all of that going in, so there were no visions of grandeur in my mind. That allowed me to just enjoy writing, which has made this experience so much more satisfying than I ever imagined.

What do you think makes a good story?

Any plot that takes people to places they’ve never been and makes them feel sensations they didn’t know they had is a good story. But, if you can wrap it all up nicely in the end and leave them still thinking about it days later, you’ve written a great story.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

Like most things in life, I’m all over the place. I’ll read anything if it’s entertaining and interesting.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

When I was young, it was Kurt Vonnegut Jr., then it was Stephen King, then J.K. Rowling and John Grisham…then Stephen King again.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

I loved Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series. “Slaughterhouse Five”, “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest” and “The Great Gatsby” have always been favorites too.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

There are too many to list. I think the first one was “Siddhartha”. I remember walking around in school starving myself and giving away my baseball cards to people while reading it. It was the first book that I’d read where I actually became so engulfed into the main character that I physically started acting like him.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

In the most unlikely place: my hot tub. I know it sounds so “L.A.” but I’ve solved the world’s problems many times over and all of my storyline problems by just sitting in hot water and looking at the stars.

What does your family think of your writing?

Everybody’s been supportive. Most of my girls read my books and add constructive criticism. When I first started writing, my wife was a bit worried when she found out how much it would cost to self-publish a book the ‘right way’. She cautiously reminded me that we had three girls going to college soon and would need every dollar. Then after she read my first novel, she looked at me and said, “Keep writing.” Of course, maybe she just said that so I’d stay busy and not bother her as much too, who knows.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not writing or at least thinking about what I’ve written. I don’t sit down with a timer or a schedule in mind. With a family, that’s nearly impossible to do. I write whenever I can find the time. If my wife sets a bag of trash down next to me, then I know it’s time to stop writing.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I like to write outdoors in my back yard. There’s something about the trees, birds, water, wind, spider webs, the warmth of the sunshine, the neighbor’s chainsaw noises, motorcycles racing down the block that gives me inspiration. That is the great thing about living in California. I also don’t read other books while writing because I’m afraid they might influence me is some way.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Trying to find a niche or genre to stay in. I like writing different styles about different subjects. From what other writers tell me, that’s not the formula you need to be successful but, hey, it keeps me running on all four.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on the follow up book to my first published novel, “Document 512”. My mind is back in the Amazon jungle racing through the ancient ruins of Peru.

What are you planning for future projects?

I envisioned three books in the “Document 512” series so I need to finish that. There could even be a follow up to “The Art of Raising Hell”, maybe the college years. I have some other ideas about alternate universes, soul searchers, raising triplets, and adult diapers that could wind up becoming storylines too.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The best thing I’ve ever done was finding a person who reads everything I’ve written and doesn’t hesitate to tell me how good or bad it is. Without him, I’d never finish anything. Also, make sure the person you find is smarter than you are because you’ll want to bounce your crazy ideas off them with the hope that they’ll come back with something even wackier. Every bit of input or feedback makes you a better writer.

Where else can we find your work?

I’ve never had the desire to become a journalist or work in the industry. Again, probably not the best career move, but I don’t know if I could write novels if I spent my whole day writing for someone else. You can find little stories and tidbits on my blog https://thomaslopinski.wordpress.com/ and website www.ThomasLopinski.com. You also might be able to catch a nasty letter to the editor in the local newspaper every once in a while.

The Art of Raising Hell is available in print and digital formats wherever books are sold. 

Meet Ordinary Boy author Stacey Longo


A conversation with Stacey Longo

Stacey Longo

Stacey Longo, author of Ordinary Boy

Today we are spending some time with Stacey Longo, author of Ordinary Boy (Dark Alley Press, $14.95 print. Also available in e-book formats).

About Ordinary Boy

My name is Curtis Price. Until my extraordinary death, I live an ordinary life in the poor side of town in Osprey Falls, Maine, with my mother and older sister. I am the boy that nobody sees, the one picked last in gym, the student that is never called on in class to answer the question. It is not until my stepfather shoots me that I am finally—finally—noticed.

Interview with Stacey Longo by N. Apythia Morges

Stacey approached me through another Dark Alley Press author and friend of hers, Kristi Petersen Schoonover. Kristi though I would love Stacey’s story, and she was right.

When I first received the story, it was a novella, but I knew Stacey had something special, and that where she had ended the story was really just the half point of of it. She went back to work on it and delivered the extraordinary tale of an Ordinary Boy.

Here’s what Stacey had to say about the process of bringing Ordinary Boy to life.

Ordinary Boy cover

Ordinary Boy by Stacey Longo from Dark Alley Press

What was the inspiration for Ordinary Boy?

I knew a boy in high school who was murdered by his stepfather. It always bothered me. I learned a little more about the actual case as an adult, and realized what I’d imagined had happened was much more interesting, so I decided to write that story instead.

 

Do you see any of your life in your book? If so, how?

Of course—I grew up in the eighties, so Curtis is growing up in a world I’m familiar with. Some of his memories—watching MTV, playing Atari, the People magazine with Rock Hudson on the cover—are certainly mine. And while his relationship with his sister is much different than the one I have with mine, the true moments of camaraderie they share are lifted right from my sister and me.

What was the hardest part of this book for you to write and why?

Killing off Curtis was terrible, even though I knew it was going to happen as soon as I started writing the book. I enjoyed Curtis so much as I wrote him—his sense of humor, in particular—that I considered letting him live. But his character and the story demanded he die, so I had to do it. It hurt, though.

As a female writer, why did you choose to have a male protagonist?

I wanted to stretch my writing chops. I had a pretty non-eventful childhood, and a story about a girl growing up in the eighties and developing a crush on the members of Duran Duran would be pretty boring. Writing about Curtis opened up a whole new world for me.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a writer. I grew up on a dairy farm. When I was bored as a kid, I’d make up stories about the cows and pigs and cats on the farm. Then my friends started asking me to tell them these tales when they came over. I thought “Hey, maybe these stories aren’t just entertaining for me!” and started writing them down. I haven’t stopped since.

Why do you write?

I can’t not write. It’s stress release, revenge, and entertainment all in one.

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?

Yes and no. I always thought I’d be like Fitzgerald or Capote, traveling in literary circles and being invited to fabulous parties where we’d discuss books and writing into the wee hours. Ha! But I do get to hang out with other writers and talk about writing, even if it’s on someone’s back porch over coffee. That’s all I can ask for.

What do you think makes a good story?

Intriguing characters. Plots that aren’t transparent from page one. Well-written prose that makes me think long after I’ve finished the book.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I read everything except romance and fantasy. Non-fiction, fiction, horror, history, true crime, mysteries . . . everything.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

I’m a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe. And Erma Bombeck. Augusten Burroughs, Wally Lamb, Stephen King, Carl Hiaasen, Larry McMurtry, John Irving . . . it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

Probably King and Bombeck. It’s impossible to write in the horror genre these days and not be influenced by the King. But growing up I also studied the clever nuances of effective humor, and I’ve re-read everything by Erma Bombeck several times.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Probably Bloom County by Berkley Breathed. I quote him daily. Nothing makes me laugh quite like an old Opus or Bill the Cat cartoon.

What does your family think of your writing?

They’re mostly supportive. I have to be careful when I’m killing off a character in some horrible way to make sure that character doesn’t too closely resemble anyone I know, so as not to cause offense. But my family is my biggest cheerleading section.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I try to write every day, though it doesn’t always happen. And if something’s coming up that I don’t want to put down on paper—like Curtis’s death—I’m a huge procrastinator. I left Curtis hiding in the closet for weeks while I did more important things, like laundry.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I require a lot of coffee while writing—several pots. And complete silence. My husband’s a talker, so it’s hard sometimes.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Did I not mention my husband is a chatterbox?

I’m so fortunate, though, because I have an awesome support system in place. When I’m done with a story, I have several trusted writers I can send it to for critique, and they don’t pull any punches. They’re vital to my process, but when they’re all done, it’s rewrite time, which can be daunting.

What are your current projects?

I just sold a YA novel, so I need to start the recommended edits on that from my publisher. And I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel about Penny Paradise, Curtis’s girlfriend. I thought I wanted to make it parallel to Ordinary Boy, but I’m about 10,000 words in and I think the story really wants to be about her as an adult.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Make sure you love writing, because otherwise, it’s not worth doing. And don’t quit your day job!

Be sure to pick up a copy of Ordinary Boy wherever books are sold. It’s also available as an e-book.

 

On Amazon, of course, and wherever books are sold. Visit my website at www.staceylongo.com to order books, peruse anthologies I’ve been in, and get a weekly dose of all things Stacey on my blog.