Saturday, April 5, 2014

Horror Writer Jeff Strand is HERE with a Sneak Peak at WOLF HUNT 2!!

The "Countdown to Jeff" Series has led us HERE, so Please welcome Jeff Strand!!

* * * * *

I think Jeff scares even himself!
So I've been doing this guest blog tour to promote my new novel, I Have A Bad Feeling About This, available now at classier bookstores and online retailers near you. "Sinister Sister Speaks" was the first commitment I made to this blog tour, and is now the final stop. (*sniffle*) (*cue heartwarming music and flashbacks to prior guest blogs*)

Why did I save this one for last? Because Rebecca, in an act of unrestrained sadism and cruelty, created a "Countdown to Jeff" series on this blog, where, in anticipation of this guest blog, she posted reviews of my books. She did a build-up to this guest blog. She created...expectations! Noooooooooo!

When somebody features a "Countdown to Jeff," you can't just send them a guest blog like:

My Top 5 Colors of M&Ms!
(in no particular order)

1. Blue
2. Orange
3. Red
4. Green
5. Dark brown.

Remember how they used to have light brown M&M's? Yep, they didn't have blue ones, but they had two different shades of brown. Presumably the conversation went like this:

EXECUTIVE: Look, these candies can't all have bright, unnatural colors! Nobody will associate them with chocolate! We need light brown and dark brown ones mixed in there with the yellow and green ones, or it will be just too weird!

LAB GUY: Yes, sir.

See? If Rebecca hadn't done her "Countdown to Jeff" thing, that would be a perfectly good guest blog. I wouldn't even have to address the idea that red M&M's were discontinued for a decade because of controversy about the dye. (The controversial dye wasn't even used in red M&M's, but they got rid of them just to avoid the perception that they might be using that particular dye. They were replaced by orange ones.)

Truth be told, I don't even like M&M's all that much. I mean, they aren't gross or anything--they're a perfectly delightful little snack. But in a world that has Twix, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Hershey's With Almonds, Three Musketeers, and Milky Way, it's rare that I can justify using M&M's as my vessel for chocolate flavor.

My Top 5 Candies!
(in order)

1. Haribo gummi bears (and only Haribo)
2. Red Vines (not Twizzlers)
3. Chewy Tart & Tinys (Discontinued. Jerks.)
4. Tangy Taffy (back when it was just cherry, grape, and strawberry, and they didn't add all those stupid sprinkles to it)
5. The good flavors of Jelly Bellies.

You're probably thinking, "Dude, this is a book-themed blog. What's with all the candy talk?" You're missing my point. If Rebecca hadn't put all of this pressure on me, I could waste space on her blog with irrelevant candy-themed Top 5 lists, but now I can't. I'm a busy guy. I don't have time to generate actual content.

I feel that it is the responsibility of blog owners to ensure that authors who are generous enough to write something for them are not robbed of their ability to half-ass that contribution. And that doesn't even take the readers into consideration. What about the people who follow her blog who were thinking "Ooh! Ooh! Countdown to Jeff! I can't wait!"? How has their sense of anticipation been rewarded? Right now they're reading a blog where I have spent 544 words whining about writing this blog. Is that fair to them? No. And is it my fault? No.

My Least Favorite Candy
(in order)

1. Whoppers

In hamburger form, a "Whopper" is a delicious meal that saves you time by giving you most of your daily caloric requirements in a single serving. In candy form, Whoppers are an abomination.

(Note: I know that many of you not only tolerate malted milk balls but enjoy them. That is your right. My opinion is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Sinister Sister Speaks. It's not Rebecca's fault that Whoppers are nasty.)

Anyway, none of the above material is worthy of a guest blog that had an actual buildup to its publication. Instead, here's the first-ever sneak peek at my upcoming novel, WOLF HUNT 2.

Catching Up With George and Lou

George Orton and Lou Flynn sat in their living room, which was also their kitchen and bedroom, sipping watered down margaritas and watching a terrible but weirdly addictive telenovela.

"That kid's not really hers," Lou said.


"It's Ramon's."

"You're out of your frickin' mind. She doesn't have any feelings for Ramon."

"That's what makes it so tragic! She's carrying his baby and she doesn't even love him. Ignacio suspects, though. You can see it in his eyes."

"No way in hell did she hook up with Ramon," said George. "They're totally wrong for each other."

"You can't tell me there's no way they didn't hook up even once. He's hot, she's hot, they're both recovering alcoholics--I'm telling you, that baby is his. Just watch. You'll see that I'm right."

"Not a chance."

"Want to put some money on it?"


"One peso. Just to make it interesting."

"We're not going to be here long enough to find out how it turns out."

Lou sighed and reached for his margarita. He reached with the wrong arm--the one that no longer had a hand--then switched and picked it up in his right hand. He took a sip. "I know we said that we were just laying low for a while, but I like it here. Nobody telling us what to do. Catching up on our reading. Learning a new language."

George glared at him. "You understand that we're living in a shithole, right? An inferno shithole. I used to fantasize about beautiful women; now I fantasize about not being drenched with sweat twenty-four hours a day. I whack off to pictures of glaciers. Don't you miss A/C?"

"Sure, I wish it wasn't so hot," Lou admitted, "but isn't it kind of nice to lounge around in shorts? We always had to dress up before. I hate ties."

"Don't talk about ties. If you remind me that we own ties, I'll use one to hang myself."

"I'm not saying that if I could pick anyplace in the entire world to live, this would be it. I'm just saying that being broke and hiding out isn't as bad as I thought it would be."

"Well, thank you Mr. Pollyanna Sunshine Sparklepants. Who needs running water when I've got a great big ray of optimism with me? Your radiant smile just fills me with--"

A bullet came through their wall, shattering George's margarita glass.

Several more gunshots fired as George and Lou dove to the floor. They'd been living in Costa Rica for two months, and about three days ago George had finally gotten out of the paranoid habit of keeping his gun with him at all times.

George scrambled across the floor toward his bed, as bullets continued to tear through the very thin walls. There were at least two different shooters.

Lou let out a cry of pain.

George glanced back at him. Lou hadn't been shot; in the chaos of the moment he'd tried to crawl with his stump.

The shots stopped just as George reached under the bed and grabbed his loaded revolver. He could return a few blind shots and hope to get lucky, but lots of little kids lived in this area, and George didn't want to take a chance on shooting one who was trying to see what the excitement was all about.

George grabbed Lou's gun and slid it across the floor to him. Because their crappy floorboards were warped, it came up a couple of feet short.

Another shot. This one shattered the TV screen.

George fired at the new bullet hole. Somebody on the other side let out a yelp. Unfortunately, it didn't sound like a fatal yelp.

He looked around at the dozen or so bullet holes, trying to keep track of all of them at once. His whole body was tense and somehow he'd found new sweat to pump out of his pores.

One of the holes right next to the window darkened.

George fired. A few specks of blood hit the glass.

He got to his feet and rushed for the front door. It was a risk, but hiding under the bed wouldn't save his life. He opened the door, quickly peeked to the right, and saw a man clutching at his bloody side. He'd dropped his gun.

George shot him in the leg. He fell to the ground.

Lou followed George outside. "I'll check on the other guy," said Lou, hurrying around the corner of their shack. The injured guy made a grab for his gun, but George stepped on his hand and crouched over him.

It was a young guy, maybe twenty-one or twenty-two. Nobody George recognized.

Some of the neighbor brats were already coming over to see what was going on, so George shooed them away. "Get out of here! You wanna get shot?"

Lou came back around. "Other guy's dying. I don't see any more of them."

"Good." George pushed the barrel of his revolver against the young guy's face. "Are there any more pieces of crap like you around here?"

The young guy shook his head. "Dude, call an ambulance."

George glanced at his wounds. "You're not going to bleed to death yet. Did Bateman send you?"

"Bateman? Where've you been? Got his head chopped off weeks ago."

"Oh. Good. So you work for Dewey?"


"You seem pretty green. Is that the best he can do, send a kid after us?"

" important do you guys think you are? This was a training job for me. I don't even get paid. You just killed my mentor!"

"How much cash do you have on you?"


"Because I'm going to steal it, numbnuts. Roll over."

The kid rolled over with a wince. George took his wallet out of his back pocket and flipped through the contents. About sixty bucks in United States currency. George was ashamed to admit that this was a pretty big score.

More children were starting to gather. George waved his gun at them. "I said, get out of here! What's the matter with you?" The children scattered.

"You gonna kill me?" asked the kid.

"Nah. Lou's going to use his switchblade to carve a message into your back to deliver to your boss. It'll say 'To whom it may concern, please note that George Orton and Lou Flynn wish to express their displeasure over the fact that a low-level underling was sent to end their lives. They would like to officially register a complaint about this disrespectful treatment, and formally request that it never happen again. Most sincerely yours, George and Lou.'"

"That a joke?"

"Yes. The real message would be longer."

"I don't wanna die."

"I already said that we weren't killing you. Stop being so whiny. What proof were you supposed to bring back?"


"Proof of our demise. Photographs of our corpses? Our heads? What?"


"Yeah, right."

"Seriously. You think I want severed heads in my car when I'm crossing the border? And I can't go around taking pictures of dead bodies when I've got my phone set to synch with the Cloud." The kid coughed up some blood. "Not to be rude or anything, but again, you're not as big of outlaws as you think you are."

George shrugged. "Fair enough. So are you willing to go back and tell them that you killed us? It's win/win."

"Sure, sure. I'll do that. No problem."

George glanced over at Lou. "Pack our stuff. We're getting out of here."

Lou, looking sad, walked back inside their shack. He came back out a moment later and tossed George's vibrating cell phone to him. George frowned and touched "Accept Call" on the screen. "Ricky?"

"Thank God you answered! Hey, I know I'm not supposed to know that this phone number exists, but I need to warn you that Dewey sent two men to hunt you down. They could be at your place any minute now. I'm taking a huge risk by telling you this, and I could end up on their list if anybody finds out that I gave you a heads-up, but you and Lou need to get out of there as soon as possible!"

"You're a bit late."

"Oh, no! Did they get Lou?"


"Oh. Okay, good to hear. You're not going to squeal on me, are you?"


"So how are things going? Is Costa Rica nice? I thought I might check it out someday."

George hung up on him and stuffed the cell phone into his pocket. Lou went back into their shack. George returned his attention to the kid.

"The story is, your mentor put a bullet in Lou's forehead. Then I killed your mentor. He died bravely. I shot you, but you took me out before I could finish you off. Sound okay?"

The kid nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I'm all for that. Can you take me to the hospital?"


"C'mon, Mr. Orton. I've got a shot leg."

"A good Samaritan will help you out." George waved his gun at the children again. "I said, get out of here! Jesus!"

George knew that the kid wasn't going to stick to their story. Sure, the kid could play the hero, but he'd be found out eventually, and then he'd be screwed. Still, George couldn't just murder him, and they had to abandon this place anyway, so he and Lou might as well buy themselves some time.

It didn't take long for Lou to fill the trunk of their car with their meager possessions, and they drove off, unsure of the next stop on their journey.

* * *

"It's frickin' freezing," said George. How did anybody live in this environment? He and Lou were wrapped in blankets, huddled next to their tiny space heater, but it wasn't doing enough to counteract the Northern Ontario climate.

"It's not so—"

"Do not say anything positive about our situation! I mean it, Lou. This is not a time for the glass to be half-full. This is a time for misery and complaining."

"I'm just—"

"I will break a freaking icicle off my chin and stab you with it if you try to be happy."

"Maybe you should grow a beard like mine. They're pretty warm."

George ignored him. They sat there for a while, shivering.

Lou finally spoke again: "Better than being hot, though, right?"

"Yes. And having a toenail yanked out is better than having a fingernail yanked out."

"Is it? I'd think that a toenail would be worse."

"Are you crazy?"

"They're bigger. More surface area to hurt."

"You only have one hand," George said. "How can you possibly say that you'd rather have a fingernail ripped out?"

"I guess I was being more hypothetical about it. And maybe you're right; I bet a finger has more nerves."

George sighed, watching his breath mist in the air in front of him.

Lou smiled. "At least I have one less hand to be cold."

Their front (and only) door burst open. Three men rushed inside, all of them wearing facemasks and holding guns.

"Lose the blankets!" said the man in front.

George and Lou tossed their multiple layers of blankets to the floor, revealing their lack of weaponry.

"At least shut the door behind you," said George. "You're letting out all of the heat."

A fourth man walked into their shack, closing the door behind him. Jonathan Dewey grinned at them. "Hello, George and Lou. How nice to finally meet you in person."

Coming sometime in 2014

Thanks to Rebecca at Sinister Sister Speaks for letting me mess up her blog for a day.

* * * * *

-I cannot believe that Jeff Strand picked MY blog to share the first chapter of his upcoming sequel, the sequel to MY favorite Jeff Strand book (and let's face it, one of my ultimate favorite books, period) ... Honestly, seriously, and truly, I feel very honored. And really super excited for WOLF HUNT 2. And my favorite M&Ms are green. Then brown. Just sayin'.

Check out Jeff Strand's website, Gleefully Macabre, and if you haven't picked up a book by him yet, I will consider not penalizing you with rotten fish if you get with the program. May I suggest WOLF HUNT to get you started?

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