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Monthly Archives: March 2016

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

I’m feeling nostalgic today. Remembering times when things ‘seemed’ simpler. I’m positive they weren’t but in retrospect, they certainly seemed that way.

A decade or so ago I worked in an office and one of the few souls there who I honestly felt was a friend used to share his life experiences regularly. It seemed that the funnier or stranger a story was, the more we were pulled into it. He used to toss his hands in the air at the end and say, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

We all understood what he meant. No matter how odd life can be at times, truth (it seemed) was stranger than fiction.

I have no doubt the honesty and veracity of his many stories, but I’ll admit that many might seem far fetched to those who didn’t personally know the storyteller.

And that leads me into the real subject of this post…

As I said, I was feeling nostalgic today. I made the mistake of checking my author rank and to get myself out of the depression, I checked some of the reviews…just to see some of the feedback. I ran across a glowing review for Whispers and in it, the reviewer made the comment, “Stallcup did an excellent job of researching thus making the haunting more real.

Whispers

That statement made me smile. I was instantly returned to the time we lived in our previous house…a house that was most definitely haunted. There was little ‘research’ put into Whispers…no, it was more like using life experiences and putting a twist on them in order to use those experiences in a story.

Now, to those of you who don’t believe in haunted houses…I really don’t care. I didn’t believe they were real until I experienced it myself. Even then, it took me a while to admit that what was happening, was truly happening.

I remember trying to tell my father in law about the haunt and he stopped me. “I don’t believe in that stuff and you’ll never convince me that it’s happening.” I asked why and he stated that it “Went against his beliefs and what the Bible says.”

Okay. I can respect that. I told him as much. Then I told him what was going on and you could see him visibly pale. He finally admitted that the physical things had no logical explanation, but he refused to believe it was a spirit. A demon perhaps. Well, thanks a lot pops for upping the stress levels to maximum. :-/

To those who are chomping at the bit, wanting to know ‘what kind of things’ actually was going on…I’ll give you a taste. Whatever ‘it’ was, it had seemed to focus on my youngest son. Slamming doors. Stomping across the upstairs floor. Throwing things. Pushing him in the shower. Scratching down the middle of his back (and yes, drawing blood) where he couldn’t possibly reach. Yelling at him (and his friend) to ‘get out’ of his room. Scratches along the inside of the wall (and when we accessed the space to put rat poison, there was ZERO sign of vermin). Shadows crossing the loft. Electronic things going off and on on their own.

But the activity that convinced me…the first thing I observed? A Dora the Explorer floatie.

We had shut down the pool and the kids brought their toys in. The kids were scattered to the winds for the night and our best friends came over for dinner. We stayed up late and were playing a board game in the dining room when the Dora floatie (that I had earlier tossed upstairs into the girls’ room…I saw it bounce off the bed and hit the far wall) floated OVER the railing then slowly lowered itself and settled gently into my wife’s recliner.

Meh, big deal, right?

My best friend is a heat and air guy. In fact, he had just installed a new unit in our house. When the floatie was slowly dropping straight down into my wife’s chair, his wife grabbed my wrist and pointed, “DO YOU SEE THAT BLANKETY-BLANK FLOATIE?!”

Her husband and Jess both had their backs to the living room and didn’t see it, but Holly and I had a front row seat. Her husband picked it up. “It’s cold. The air conditioner must have blown it down.”

“Dude, you installed that unit. Do you really think it blows hard enough to blow it out of the girls room and over the rail?”

“No.”

I carried it to the top of the stairs and dropped it. It swished to the side and slid into the couch. We tried again, dropping it on edge (even though that wasn’t how it came down) and again, it swooshed to the side. I tried twice more and never could get it to fall straight down…but when it fell, it was easily two to three times faster than what Holly and I saw.

Time went by, my son was harassed and I eventually called our states version of Ghost Hunters…who drove out and had all of their brand new equipment fail at exactly the same time. Although their things would be moved around and they saw and heard some strange things, they couldn’t get it on tape, so it was ‘unprovable’. A second group came out to simply observe. I explained to them that whatever it was didn’t always participate, but since they had ‘minimum’ activity, they declared the house clear and removed the residence from their list.

I had made a few comments on an internet forum and got the standard questions about burial grounds, murders in the house, etc…none applied. Eventually, we moved and the activity stopped. The family who moved into the house were friends of ours and although the wife was informed and ‘looked forward’ to coexisting with whatever it was…she soon refused to stay in the house alone. Whatever it was, she felt it was evil. Duh. Pretty sure we told you that.

Anyway, long story short…there wasn’t really a whole lot of research put into Whispers.  But I’m glad it seemed accurate to those who have experience in the field.

For those of you who haven’t ‘experienced’ Whispers yet, let me know. I’ve got a few audio codes left that I’ll trade you in exchange for an honest review. Aaron Shook did a helluva job bringing this story to life!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Artist & Storyteller – Jeffrey Kosh

I know things have been a bit quiet here lately, but I’ve been dealing with this thing called LIFE and sometimes life kicks you in the nards. So, to make up for that, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine who really is the complete package…Jeffrey Kosh is an author, actor and artist all wrapped into one very handsome package. I feel lucky to be able to call him friend.

So, let’s kick this party off! Here is my interview with the incredible Jeffrey Kosh:

Me

Me: Jeff, thanks for doing this buddy. I really appreciate you taking the time. So, starting off, let’s hit some easy questions. Are there any recent works (books) that you admire?

Jeff: Yes, I fell in love with Shaun Jeffrey’s The Kult, one of the most brilliant thrillers I have read (and keep in mind that I’m a fan of Michael Slade and Thomas Harris). Another one that really impressed me was Whipers by Heath Stallcup: I enjoyed the characters, the backstory, and the stunning prologue. There are more, but I don’t want to bore your readers.

Me: Wow, Jeff…thanks. Just having my name tossed into the same paragraph with Slade and Harris, that’s a huge compliment. Now I’m all blushing and…okay! Anyway, who is your favorite author(s) (and is there a reason why)?

Jeff: The roster of my favorite authors changes almost yearly. At the moment I’d put Michael Slade at the top. The reason is that his stories are full of details, trivia, and quite twisted. I’d love to write a thriller in that style, but I don’t feel ready yet. Second, Mary Shelley. Her Frankenstein is a really unique creature that can’t be assembled again, only imitated. Third, Michael Crichton. While I’m not a fan of all of his books, his writing style was exceptional.

Me: Man, I’m right there with you, especially Crichton. I LOVE his stories. Are there similarities between you and any of the above mentioned authors?

Jeff: I don’t know. Certainly I like to do a lot of research when writing my books. If a story is set during the Irish Civil War I want to know all the details, the slang of the times, what they ate and what they used to drink. I can be anal for those things. So, this puts me closer to Michael Slade’s obsession for historical details. From Mary Shelley I’d take her dark poetry. Crichton? No, he was a wordsmith; I’m a storyteller.

Me: Wow, I love that. Wordsmith vs Storyteller. I’ve often said something similar but you hit the nail on the head with Crichton again. So, tell me, why do you write?

Jeff: Because I like it, because I feel it, because I need it. Certainly not for money. It’s very hard nowadays to make a living out of your writing.

Me: I totally understand what you’re saying. So what is a typical working day like for you?  

Jeff: Graphics, graphics, and more graphics. It is rare I find time to write. However, when I start a story I try to dedicate an hour or more to it. In the past, before I opened my graphic company, I used to write for most of the day. I wrote shorts and novelettes. However, now I prefer to keep putting out only longer works.

Me: What kind of research do you do for your books?

Jeff: As I said before, I’m obsessed with research. I have a digital library (all that is left of my phyisical one, and more) about everything: history, geography, occultism, investigation, fiction and non-fiction, cookbooks, role playing games, graphic novels, everything. Plus, there’s always the Internet.

Me: I’d love to be able to dig through that library…I bet I could spend a LOT of time there. Anyway, so how do you conceive your plot ideas?

Jeff: I don’t. They invade me out of the blue. They obsess me until I put them down. I’m haunted by a minimum of five story ideas every day. Obviously, I can’t write all of them. That’s why I have a special folder in my laptop full of sketched stories.

 Me: Wow, man, it’s like you reached into my head and pulled that answer out. I’m the same way…you have no idea how many times I wished I could just ‘think them up’ and they’d write themselves! So, when naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Jeff: Yes. Axel J. Hyde, in Feeding the Urge, is a clear example. The name Axel resonates with axe, a tool that is featured quite frequently in his story. Hyde, because of Mr. Hyde; and Axel shares something with that guy. The ‘J’ is just for Jeffrey.

1Maggie Blair, the female heroine of The Haunter of the Moor, my last novel, comes from a character in a Scottish song that kept playing in my head when I was thinking about her. Although, she’s totally different from the character in that song.

Me: That’s cool. I often wonder if readers realize how much effort goes into a character name. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who does more than stab their finger into a phone book. So, what are the major themes of your work? How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Jeff: I think, a recurring theme in my stories is revenge. Revenge is one of those things that changes a person so deeply. It’s a strong, passionate emotion. Another one is that the past never stays buried; it will always come back to haunt you.

It can take more than a year for me to finish a novel.

Me:  Vengeance…maybe that’s why Whispers resonated so deeply with you? So, who are your target readers?

Jeff: Everyone who wants to sit around a campfire and listen to a storyteller.

Me: Perfect! Do you listen to music while you write?

Jeff: No. However, I have music in my head.

Me: Guilty of that as well. So, have you ever collaborated on a book? If so, who was the other author? How did you collaborate with that author? What writing process did you use?

Jeff: Not officially. I gave my mentor, Franklin E. Wales, all the details about my fictional town of Prosperity Glades so that he could set a story in my place. It is Sailors’ Cove, a weird story of crime and supernatural.

Me: Sounds awesome. Right up my alley sort of stuff.
If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

Jeff: The Weird and Adventurous Life of a Citizen of Planet Earth

Me: You forgot Exciting…remember, you’ve told me a lot of the stuff you’ve done in your youth.  Okay, so what question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview, but never have?

Jeff: I’d like to be interviewed as a graphic artist. That’s my main job, the one that brings food to the table. It took me time to finally find a job I really care for. Yes, I had to create it myself, but it is a rewarding and pleasant job. I’m finally creating art.

Me. I can see us doing that. I’d love to interview you again as Jeff the Artist. But since you have a new release, tell us, what have you written? And what are you working on at the moment? What’s it about?

Jeff: The Haunter of the Moor is just out, published by Optimus Maximus Publishing. I’m working on the sequel, set in the 1920s. Of course, it will feature new characters, but the settings of Ballymoor and the Glencree Valley – and Talbot House, obviously – will connect it to the previous one.

Me: Awesome. Tell the folks where can we buy or see it?

Jeff: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BRHYSFM

Me: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Jeff: Nothing. The past is the past. We are the sum of our memories.

 Me: Man, that’s a pragmatic answer. Okay, last question, what do you consider your best accomplishment?

Jeff: Creating movie posters. That’s really something I always dreamed about.

I’ve seen some of your movie posters and I think they’re some of your best work, for sure.

Okay, let’s call that a wrap. Thanks for dropping in and letting folks know what’s new buddy.
And for those of you who aren’t familiar with Jeff’s work, take a look at the covers he’s done for me. He has a website where you can purchase some very nice premade covers, too. Click HERE to see his website. Don’t forget to go by his Facebook pages here and here and give them a like, too.

 

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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