Today I have a special offer for you, and hopefully I can entice you…

As you are certainly aware, I am currently putting the final touches to the latest Jason Dark supernatural mystery with the title Fu Man Chu’s Vampire. The book is currently with my editor for a final polish — at least I hope he’s not going to recommend a complete rewrite — and I have tentatively scheduled it for a late January release.

What you may also know, since I mentioned it on occasion, is that the previous Jason Dark book Curse of Kali actually foreshadowed the events of Fu Man Chu’s Vampire. To call it a prequel would be going too far, but the earlier book definitely leads up to the upcoming mystery with very overt references and a subplot.

Now, I know you may be sitting on hot coals, waiting for Fu Man Cu’s Vampire, so I thought, perhaps there is something I could do to make the wait a little more tolerable. That’s where my special offer comes in…

Kali CoverPurchase a copy of Curse of Kali anytime between now and the end of the month, and I will give you a free copy of Fu Man Chu’s Vampire as soon as it is released. In fact, I’ll do one better. You will get the book before anyone else!

So, not only do you get two books for the price of one, you will also be among the first to read the new one. Do I have your attention?

All you have to do is purchase a copy of Curse of Kali anywhere you can find it — on Amazon, at Barnes&Noble, at Kobo, in Apple’s iBookstore or on the Jason Dark website. Once you have that, simply forward the email with the order confirmation to and we will take care of the rest. Even if you purchased your copy a week or two ago, feel free to send in the receipt and I’ll put you down for a free copy of Fu Man Chu’s Vampire.

Are you ready, yet? Curse of Kali is only $2.99 and you could get your copy right now. Why wait?


Purchase on Amazon
Purchase at Barnes&Noble
Purchase at Kobo
But it in Apple’s iBookstore
Get your copy from the official Jason Dark website

You won’t regret it, and these books are perfect fodder for that new eBook reader you got for Christmas! 🙂

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Happy New Year

Although I’m a little late, I didn’t want to be remiss in wishing all of my visitors, fans and readers a happy new year. So here you go… Happy New Year!

With the old year behind us, it is time for me to look forward and make plans for 2012, decide what I want to do, how I want to tackle certain problems, how to overcome various obstacles. It’ll be interesting to see how this year will turn out, especially in the light that none of the things I had planned for 2011 really panned out. It proves to me once again that strategic forward planning in an industry that is not only unpredictable but driven by other companies is truly a waste of time. I mean how can you create a sensible business plan when all the parameters are out of one’s control… waste of time, like I said.

Nonetheless, there are goals I wish to achieve in 2012 and they are essentially the exact same ones I had for 2011. Funny, isn’t it? Feels like deja vu. Like I just wasted an entire year. The entire year of 2011 was stagnant for me, without any growth. Oh well, let’s hope 2012 will be better.

At long last, Literary Landmark Press, the publisher behind the “Spirit of Poe” Anthology, to which I have contributed a short story, has finally unveiled a release date for the anthology. Arriving on January 19, fans of the American master of macabre literature will be able to see how Poe’s stories and spirit have influenced writers across the country and infused us with images and elements of terror.

Make sure to grab a copy to support the cause that all of us contributors felt so strongly about, namely the preservation of the original Poe House in Baltimore. You can pre-order copies now at the Literary Landmark Press website.

Those of you interested in my Jason Dark mysteries will also be pleased to hear that Fu Man Chu’s Vampire, the next Jason Dark book, is with my editor at this time to get its final polish. With things moving along the way they are, I am confident that I will be able to release the title later this month. Unfortunately I have no cover for it. The response to the Cover Contest I set up a month ago has been extremely slim, unfortunately, and none of the submissions met my approval. So, it seems that for the next weeks, until the release of the book, I will have to get cranking on a cover and see what I can come up with. In a way I am very tempted to take it into a completely different direction than the previous ones, just for the fun of it, but who knows. I’ll have to find some time and play around with Photoshop a little.

Stay tuned for more about Fu Man Chu’s Vampire in the coming days and weeks.

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Dear Amazon,

Recently you sent me an email, telling me about your new Kindle Select Program. It was an email brimming with promise, but all too quickly did I see through your marketing ploy, I’m afraid.

You are truly asking me to give you my books on an exclusive basis for the privilege to forfeit potential sales so that you can lend them to your Prime customers? What’s in it for me?

Oh, yes, I recall, you mentioned something about $7,500 a month… no, that can’t be right. I don’t even make that in sales.

Because 500,000 divided by 7,500 makes 67, what you are so tastefully proposing would give exactly 67 authors the chance to make that kind of money. Will I be one of them? Will you make sure that I will be one of them? No, you will not. Of course, not. What am I thinking? You’ll throw me in the pot with everyone else, as usual. Just like you never took an interest in my success in the past, you will take none whatsoever in my doing in the future, so why should I support an effort that serves the sole purpose to grow your bottom line? Most of the time you don’t even respond to emails when they touch upon a subject you’re not comfortable with.

Even if you did not major in Math, the way I did, it is easy for anyone to tell that your math is broken – very broken.

To split $500,000 between all participating books may sound like a lot, but it is not. Here we are, six hours after you opened the doors to authors to enroll, you already have 15,000 books in your Lending Library. That means that each book will make an average of $33 per month. We both know what will happen in the next few days. The Lending Library will swell to over 100,000 titles and we will be looking at an average of $5 per book. That’s not a whole lot. In fact, it represents two real sales. Not quite the way to make a living.

What’s worse is that we have to take into account that bestselling books sell about 500-1000 times more than midlist titles, which means the potential revenue for the average book will be a few cents. Now, explain to me again, please, why I should be a part of this program? I am giving up potential sales, I am giving Amazon exclusivity for 90 days for the privilege to earn a few cents every month?

Sorry, Amazon, but Homey don’t play that.

To top it all off, I would have to explain to all my disgruntled readers why they can no longer get my books on other retail sites for their Nooks, their Kobos, their iPads. I wish they had all the sympathy in the world for my desire to fatten Amazon’s bottom line with my hard work, but let’s face it, in reality they will be upset with me. The result will be that I am actually losing readers in the long run over this. But it may affect you, too, because you know how people feel about corporate greed. I know, I know, it’s an overused buzzword, but it still works every time to get people up in arms.

You may not know this, but in the business world, if you want something exclusively, you usually have to sweeten the deal. A lot. Companies are typically receiving big fat checks up front to make their products available exclusively to a retailer. It is the way the free market world turns. I mean, after all, you expect me to give up stuff to make you look better. So let me ask you again. What’s in it for me? To become part of a convoluted Lending Library that decreases in value with every new book that is being enrolled?

You may think, all Kindle authors are amateurs and don’t know a scheme if only the verbiage is enticing enough, but I will tell you that I saw right through you. Your mentions of $500,000 and $7,500 figures are nothing but a carrot — ooooh big numbers. It has to be good.

I am sorry to disappoint, but I’m not a donkey. I can do math and I can see clear.

I can’t blame you for trying, of course, but I think you have been making a few serious mistakes lately that indicate to me that you have lost touch with your author base. Perhaps my friends were right. Perhaps you were luring all of us authors to your Kindle platform only so that at the right time you can strangle the life out of us in order to grow your own bottom line and to make your board of directors happy. I am not sure I would like that. I am not on your board of directors, but perhaps we can change that. With a little bit of goodwill on your end, that should be feasible, right?

Write back soon and let me know how things are going,
Guido Henkel


Addendum – 12/9/2011:
As of this morning, the Kindle Lending Library is over 35,000 titles thick. That means the average revenue for each book is now $18 and it keeps plummeting very quickly! Those were only the first 24 hours. I have no doubt that after the weekend we will be looking at 100,00 titles in the Library — all of them devalued, all of them no longer available to Nook, Kobo and iBookstore readers. How can that possibly be good business?

Oh yes, there is the lure of “Free” – you can make your book free for a few days and it will undoubtedly result in millions of downloads, catapulting your name in the ranks of a Dean Koontz, Lisa Jackson or Stephen King. I think people should watch “The Incredibles” a little more, because there’s a lesson to be learned. In the film the superheroes fight a villain who plans to give superpowers to ever man, woman and child in the world, but here’s the crux of the matter, as Syndrome, the villain himself states – “Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super… no one will be.”
To put it in plain Kindle language, if everyone is offering their book for free, it is once again disappearing in the glut and no longer special. Already, this morning there were a whopping 2400 new free books on Amazon. Do you really believe these will all see the phenomenal download numbers of the past? Think again. There is no gain in this.

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As I am revising the latest Jason Dark supernatural mystery, Fu Man Chu’s Vampire, my mind was wandering. I thought about possible covers for the book, and then I had an interesting idea. What, if I let fans design the cover?

Here’s the deal. It works like a competition, in essence. You can get your cover on Fu Man Chu’s Vampire! All you have to do, is create a cover artwork for the book and send it over for evaluation. If my wife and I like it, we will use it for the eBook and print versions of the book, and you will receive full credit, naturally. If you’re an artist, this will be a nice opportunity to add to your portfolio, to have a valuable publication credit. I’ll also throw in some goodies on top of it, such as a box of DVDs or so.

Most importantly, however, you will have the ultimate bragging rights!

So, what is the story about? I can’t tell you a whole lot about it, really ,because I do not want to give away the story as such, here in public. You may want to read the opening chapters of the last Jason Dark mystery, Curse of Kali, however – you can find it online here – as it gives you an impression as to where the story goes.

In a nutshell, you can say that evil Doctor Fu Man Chu is putting a Jiang Shi, a hopping vampire, on the trail of Jason Dark and Siu Lin, in an attempt to have them killed.

In technical terms, I don’t want to impose all to many guidelines. Needless to say, it should fit in with the series as a whole. I am posting some of the covers from the previous books below, so you can get a feel for the direction we’ve been taking in the past. Alternatively, please visit the Jason Dark website for a closer look of the respective covers.

However… if you feel you have the ultimate idea, even if it does not fit into the current style of the series, we’d love to see it. The reason is simple. With eBooks in particular, it is easily possible to “play” with covers. To try different approaches and see which cover works best. I know people who have been able to increase their sales tenfold by simply changing the cover of their eBook. With that in mind, I believe, it is important for me to point out that while I have a preference for the current style, I’m not entirely in love with it, either. If someone tosses me a cover that knocks my socks off, I’ll take it, even if is on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The only real guideline that I do have is this. The final cover needs to be at least 8.5”x11” at 300 dpi in size. For the purists among you, that would be 2550×3300 pixels. We have this size requirement in place to make sure we can use the artwork for marketing and sales materials.
If you send your cover for evaluation, you can send it in smaller, of course, so that it easily fits into an email, but I want to make sure everyone understands, that the final version will have to be super-sized.

So, get creative! Pull out your pens, markers, canvasses or Wacom tablets and get cracking, already. Email scribbles, sketches, drawings, paintings, layouts, anything you want us to take a look at to contest@guidohenkel.com. You have until Sunday, December 18 to completely blow my mind! I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with.

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Things are moving along, as I reported in last week’s post, and I am proud to report that at this time, the Jason Dark Supernatural Mystery Collection 1 has been released.

Currently available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble, the book should be available on Kobo any day now also. For the time being, this collection will be available only as eBook. I will make a print version available if I feel there is demand for it, but at this time I am happy to release the collection for eBook readers exclusively.

Jason Dark Collection 1 cover

As I announced recently, the release features the first three of my Jason Dark supernatural mysteries, namely, Demon’s Night, Theater of Vampires and Ghosts Templar in one book.

As an added bonus, the book also contains the short story Food for the Dead that appeared in Fangoria magazine as a five-part serialized story earlier this year.

Available now for only $6.99 this collection gives readers the chance to safe big money over the individual releases while also getting the short story a a bonus that is not available anywhere else.

Work is also progressing on Fu Man Chu’s Vampire. The first draft is finished and I am currently in the revision stages. I will take a few passes at the story to make sure it feels round and reads well before handing it off to my editor for the last polish. Look forward to seeing it to be released in a short few weeks, hopefully.

I am also ramping up work on a new project. Can’t tell you much about it yet, other than that it excites me quite a bit right now. I will unveil more details as I get deeper into the actual “creation” of it.

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Here’s what I’ve been doing lately

It seems I have neglected posting here on my blog for a little bit, but let me assure you that it was simply due to so many exciting things going on here on my end. So, perhaps, I should tell you a little about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard that the city of Baltimore had cut their financial support for the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, one of the city’s historic landmarks. I assign quite a bit of significance to this museum, as it is dedicated to perhaps the most important American horror writer. So when I heard that Literary Landmark Press is putting together an anthology of Poe-inspired short stories to benefit the Poe House, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I wrote a short story with the title The Blackwood Murders and submitted it to the editors. To my delight I was notified shortly thereafter that my story would, in fact, be included in the anthology The Spirit of Poe, which will be released shortly.

I felt both honored and flattered at the same time. Honored to become associated with something relating directly to Edgar Allan Poe, helping to protect his legacy by no small means. Flattered, because the editors of the anthology actually found my piece worthy enough to be included alongside many other accomplished writers.

I had a blast writing “The Blackwood Murders,” and during the entire time, I saw it play in front of my eyes like an old Roger Corman movie with Vincent Price. That should give you an idea what to expect from the story, and I hope many of you will show your support of the Poe House by purchasing a copy of the book. If you do, please DO let me know how you liked my entry. I’m a sucker for flattery. 🙂

Once I had that short story finished, I decided that it was time for me to put together a collection of Jason Dark mysteries to sell together as one book. After some soul searching and talking to friends, I have decided to release collections featuring three stories in one book. The first one, which will be available shortly, will therefore feature Demon’s Night, Theater of Vampires and Ghosts Templar in a single volume. In addition, as a bonus, I have decided to include the Jason Dark short story Food for the Dead in the collection. As you may recall, this story was a Fangoria exclusive and ran in five serialized installments in the magazine earlier this year. This collection will mark the first time this story will be available in one piece.

My wife and I are currently finalizing the cover for the release, but expect to hear more about it shortly. Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all the cool developments.

And then, just before Halloween, I had a great idea for a new Jason Dark story. Those of you who read “Curse of Kali,” the latest Jason Dark mystery, may recall that I seriously foreshadowed a story called Fu Man Chu’s Vampire in that book. Well, I had finally had the igniting idea where to go with the story.

Funny enough, at the same time, “National Novel Writing Month” – aka NaNoWriMo – kicked off and there was this huge frenzy of writers around the country starting up new projects. While I do not participate in NaNoWriMo, I decided it was a good occasion to kick off “Fu Man Chu’s Vampire” in earnest, and perhaps against my better judgment.

So, on November 1st I outlined and began writing this exciting new Jason Dark supernatural mystery with the intention to fulfill the NaNoWriMo required 1,600 words a day. I knew it would be hard for me to keep that pace with all the other stuff going on in my life, but I was very determined to give it a good and honest try.

Well, here we are, 12 days later and I am very proud to report that I have not only fulfilled my daily word counts, but exceeded them significantly on most days. As a result, “Fu Man Chu’s Vampire” is rapidly heading for its completion. As I am writing this, I am just about to tackle the book’s final scene, which means, the first draft should be complete later today!

I will then set it aside for a few days to work on the cover for it, before beginning the edits and revisions. Although I had planned not to write an Jason Dark stories in the near future, I am very happy I did. This is the fastest I have ever written any of these supernatural mysteries, and it could mean that, perhaps I will actually be able to release it around Christmas time, or at the very least, first thing in the new year. Either way, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more info on this and other developments. It just so happens that I had another interesting idea for a project that I might pursue in the near future…

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Yesterday, Amazon released information that with the introduction of the Kindle Fire tablet they will also switch to a new eBook format. Anyone who will check out the quick overview will certainly be pleased and also notice that with the upcoming KF8 eBook format, Amazon seems to have addressed virtually all the shortcomings I have raised in my blog post 10 Things Amazon should correct in the Kindle that I posted a while ago.

And yet, I am not happy. Why is that?

One would think with these issues out of the way, the Kindle should finally catapult itself to the top of the eBook capabilities, right? Well, yes and no. The problem lies in the details, the fineprint, so to speak. The big problem with the introduction of the KF8 format is that Amazon is doing a pretty hack job with this, I am very sorry to say, because, according to Amazon’s announcement and FAQ, none of the older Kindles will be able to support this format.

Why is this a problem? Well, as a professional eBook formatter, the question for me is, how am I supposed to deal with this? Instead of creating the foundation for one rock solid Kindle platform that has powerful capabilities, Amazon is now going down the road of platform fragmentation. Already we had issues that the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 had capabilities the Kindle 1 did not possess. It was a big problem because things such as tables were unusable, despite the fact that the capabilities were built into the K2 and K3. Since authors have to make sure they cover the largest possible market share, however, using tables made no sense, as the Kindle 1 did not support them and rendered them in a useless, garbled fashion.

With KF8, things will get even uglier. We now have three different sets of capabilities. The Kindle 1 at the bottom end, the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3, and then the new Kindle 4 and Kindle Fire. This is not a smart move on Amazon’s behalf and reeks of either laziness or engineering ineptitude.

From a programming standpoint none of the features introduced in KF8 are in any way supercharged capabilities that require special hardware. Let’s face it. eBook reader software is, in effect, nothing more than a specialized web browser. It is not rocket science! Therefore, Amazon’s decision is hard to comprehend. Web browser implementations have been written a thousand times — I wrote one myself 10 years ago for use in a computer game. There are reference implementations out there that they could have used for free, all things that should have made it possible to retain a unified platform. So, why could’t the software engineers at Amazon make sure they introduce these capabilities in all devices through firmware upgrades?

It is a very short-sighted decision in my opinion, that not only shortchanges the end users, but causes a lot of problems on Amazon’s end as well.

They will now have to begin offering and delivering different versions of the same books – one formatted according to the old, outdated MOBI file specifications, and another one formatted according to the new KF8 guidelines for this to make any sense. How does that make sense?

So, not only will they now have to deal with publishers having to create and upload multiple versions of the same book. This comes at an additional expenses to authors and publishers, as they have maintain two versions of the book. But it also comes at the expense of Amazon, as they have to modify their existing pipeline to accommodate these multiple versions.

To make matters worse, they will have to educate people which format to use for which device, and they will have to prepare – and possibly ramp up support staff, to answer all the customer questions stemming from this sort of confusion.

As I said, I do not think this was a very smart move and it is not in Amazon’s best interest.

Writing and updating the firmware for all existing Kindle platforms would have been a clean way into the future, without all the hassle that comes with platform fragmentation. I know what I am talking about – I’ve been programming for 30 years and I’ve been working in the mobile field for many years, where device fragmentation has gone rampant and costs publishers and cell phone carriers hundreds of millions of dollars every month just to support the insanity.

I know, that for me, KF8 is a step backwards, no matter how attractive it looks at first glance. For the most part it is useless out of the gate because if it doesn’t work on all Kindle devices, it has no value to me and I suspect most of my clients.


Addendum:

An important point was raised in the comments to this post that deserves a few additional words, I think.

Amazon promises that KindleGen 2, the tool they provide to allow authoring KF8 files “will convert your content so that it works on all Kindle devices and apps.”

If you think, this means that all problems are solved with this, you can smoke that notion in a pipe. There is a big difference between could and should.

Just because KindleGen 2 promises to convert your books, doesn’t mean you should, because the output quality will be dubious at best. Of course, if you are part of the I-don’t-care-just-make-it-easy, Smashwords-adoring crowd, yes, that might work for you, but if you take pride in your ebook’s layout and formatting, this is not going to fly.

Let me illustrate this with a very simple example. Say, you have an image and you add the float property to it, to have it embedded in your text with the words flowing nicely around it.

When converting such a file, all KindleGen can really do is ignore the float property — which, coincidentally, all the devices do already. As result, on a Kindle 2 you will now have the image sitting on the left side of the screen with nothing surrounding it. Perhaps the first line of the text that was supposed to float around it will sit firmly at the bottom, creating a huge, ugly gap. Surely not what you had in mind.

If you had properly formatted a version for MOBI devices, instead, you would perhaps have centered the image in this case and spaced it out a little more. That is where KindleGen’s auto-conversion will fail you miserably, because it cannot make decisions like that for you. Things will, undoubtedly get even nastier when your formatting is more complex than this one very basic example, and I would not be surprised if certain elements would even disappear entirely.

Let’s face it, there are certain things the old devices simply can’t do if Amazon refuses to upgrade their firmware across the entire line of products. Just having some devices that support it and others that don’t is hackneyed at best.

As a publisher you will have to look at the lowest common denominator for your product, and that is the long-abandoned Kindle 1, that has seen little love from Amazon in recent years.

Sure, this is not a big problem if you have a novel without graphics or a special page layout. Fair enough, in that case you are really not affected by these changes at all. You will continue to build MOBI files exactly the way you did and ignore the new capabilities, because MOBI offers exactly the kind of functionality you need. Nothing wrong with that.

When books become a little more complex, that is when the problems begin and they will very quickly become exacerbated.

The bottom line — and the main point of my post — is that the way Amazon is approaching this is creating tiers of devices, each tier with different implementational limitations. And that, my friends, is a very real problem.

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What’s in a face?

Before I dive into today’s post, I wanted to remind everyone of the great give-away I am running right now. What do you mean you don’t remember? You have not been afflicted by Astaroth’s demon curse of forgetfulness, have you?

Well, fret no more, simply click on this link and visit the promotion and give-away post where I outlined all the details. More incentive, you need? You are one tough customer, my friend, I tell you that. But if it is incentives you need, look no further. How does a 1-year subscription to Fangoria sound, or an ultra-rare, highly collectable “Book of the Dead” DVD version of the horror cult classics “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2?” Or, perhaps, a $25 Amazon gift card would be more to your liking, or movies, or books, or t-shirts… I think we understand each other now, don’t we? All you have to do is spread some Jason Dark love for me!

Now, on to other things… One of the key ingredients of Halloween are costumes, of course, and I thought I’d make a little post about some of my past disguises. No, I’m not referring to Halloween costumes, but to some cameos I made on the covers of products. Yes, I know, it is hard to believe, but I am a model.

Most recently, my visage appeared on the book cover of Gord Rollo’s and Gene O’Neill’s anthology of urban horror stories, “Mean Streets.” Don’t believe me, well, let’s take a closer look.

Mean Streets cover

I know, I know, it’s all bit dark and shady, but if you look closely — and ignore the silvery eyes — this is really me. My wife, Lieu, designed the cover for the book and we had trouble locating a properly sinister urban gangster. Since we’re not real fans of stock photos either, she asked me to put on a hoodie and pose for her. And that’s what I did. Some light from underneath and a good deal of Photoshop massaging turned the photo into what you see on the final cover.

I had a cover stunt before, back in the year 1999 or so when we were finalizing a computer game called “Planescape: Torment” that I was producing for Interplay at the time. An ad agency had a cover design laid out and we had booked a male model for the cover shoot. About a day before the shoot, news came in that the model had a scheduling conflict and would not make it. While we were sitting around the office and wondered what to do, someone looked at me and said, “Maybe you should be the model.” I thought it was joke at first but everyone in the room looked at me and went, “Yeah, why don’t you?”

Planescape: Torment cover

Well, who am I to say no? So, the next day I went to the photo shoot. The really cool part about it is that we needed a monster-like look on the cover, as the character to be portrayed was undead. The agency had hired Hollywood special effects guru Tom Burman for the job, so I went to his workshop in Burbank. It was bit surreal, to walk into his studio and seeing all the work he had done on all sorts of movies, going way back to the original “Planet of the Apes” movies.

Guido Henkel

The next few hours were a completely new experience for me. Tom applied prosthetic make-up to my face – a process that took about two hours if memory serves me right. Applying layers and strip of latex to my face he slowly transformed me into a demonic-looking creature. Then, to top it off, he hand-painted the entire make-up to give it a realistic look that would hold up under the glaring light of a camera.

The photographer then took a series of shots of my face, trying to capture what we needed for the cover layout and about 45 minutes later it was time to take it all off again.

Guido Henkel

Just on a fun side note, my face was red as a beet and burned for the rest of the day, because of the solvent that was used to remove the appliances. Nonetheless, it was all well worth it, and as you can see in the pictures, it was a lot of fun. A once-in-a-liftetime experience, really, and an incredible honor to meet Tom Burman and actually have him work on me.

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Where did all the horror go?

As many of you may know, I am a huge fan of movies, and in recent years I have become absolutely enamored with the Blu-Ray format — as everyone should, in my humble opinion.

As Halloween is once again racing towards us, I could not help but notice, however, the dearth of releases these days. Sure, DVD is flooded with cheap indie releases and re-releases of titles ad nauseam, but on Blu-Ray, the studios are still holding back their catalog quite severely. It appears as if barely any catalog titles are being transferred onto the high definition format and all we really get are the movies coming off their box office run or new straight-to-home video releases.

Like most people, around the Halloween time frame I love to watch a few good horror movies and as I look through the release schedules, the only horror I find is the shocking realization that nothing is coming…


I mean, seriously, if it weren’t for Blue Underground’s upcoming Blu-Ray version of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie a few days before Halloween and Lionsgate’s recent release of the Peter Jackson horror comedy Dead Alive, there is not a single horror movie in sight that is in any way intriguing or exciting.

Every year, Universal Home Entertainment refurbishes their entire horror line-up, and this year is no exception. The list of films the studio runs in promotions throughout October is almost endless – 69 titles, to be exact! Out of all these films, however, springs not a single new Blu-Ray release. Movies that are available already are re-promoted but none of the other films are making a Blu-Ray debut.

To me, as a fan of classic horror, this is painful to watch. Why don’t we get high definition versions of the monster classics like “Dracula,” Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man,” “The Mummy” and their many sequels that are once again being offered up on DVD?

Why is Halloween not an occasion to bring to the world a high definition version of Wes Craven’s hauntingly staggering “Serpent and the Rainbow” or John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness,” “They Live” and “Village of the Damned,” all of which are part of a new “John Carpenter: Master of Fear” DVD collection that just hit stores?

But Universal is not the only studio sitting on their hands. MGM Home Entertainment, for example, has yet to release John Carpenter’s “The Fog” and not to mention that they have absolutely no plans to release Roger Corman’s classic Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price in high definition.

And why Anchor Bay is not giving us any of the Hammer movies, is anyone’s guess.

It is a trend that worries me. When DVD was first launched, the studios went into complete overkill, releasing even the most mundane niche films as Special Editions with tons of extras. Now, at a time when home video is really offering theater-quality presentations, they are short-shrifting fans, by holding back way too many films. I can understand that they don’t want to go into a feeding frenzy the way they did during the DVD heydays, but leaving the entire catalog to rot in their vaults?

It kind of reminds me of the early days of DVD when the world was clamoring for George Lucas to release “Star Wars” on DVD or for Steven Spielberg to finally come to his senses and embrace the digital age — remember that? Guess what? Those guys jumped into high definition with both feet, and now the studios as a collective are slacking off.

It’s a crazy, crazy world, I tell you, and it makes me sad to see that yet another Halloween rolls around without any exciting horror releases. Dear studios, I refuse to watch kiddie-style horror remakes created by people who obviously never understood the appeal of the original movies in the first place. Like many fans of horror, I would honestly appreciate any kind of effort you would make to bring some of the film we love to Blu-Ray.

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Great Halloween Promotion and Give-Away

Halloween is coming our way faster than Dr. Prometheus’ muttered curse, and as we all know, Halloween is the time of all things ghoulish. I love Halloween and for that reason I have decided it is time to celebrate a little. I have prepared some exciting cool announcements for you.

Let us start with the first one, and perhaps the most important one.

Starting today and lasting until October 31, the night of All Hallow’s Eve, I am reducing the price of all e-book versions of the Jason Dark supernatural mysteries. You can now own any of the adventures for a new, ghoulishly low

$1.99!

I thought you would like that, but wait, don’t run off just yet, to purchase these action packed adventures. There is more you should know…

The Blood Witch just came over last night and gave me another stupendous idea. How about preparing a cool give-away where fans can win awesome prices? Cars, houses, vacations, the whole shebang! Easy for her to say, I know. But the more I thought about it the more I thought there was seed of a good idea in there that I should give a shot.

Therefore I am doing a nightmarish give-away. You can win some gorific movies, books and merchandise. I have for example five DVD copies of the Hammer Horror movie “Let Me In” here, that I will be giving away. In addition, one lucky winner will not only get that movie, but also a rare out-of-print version of Anchor Bay’s “Book of the Dead” edition of “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II.” In case you are not familiar with this, this was a release that featured a molded DVD covering made from Latex, looking like the Necronomicon in the movies. This release was a limited edition to begin with and has been out of print for years. Subsequently it has since turned into a highly sought-after collectible. Why am I giving it away then? Simple. I love my fans!

But there is more. I am also giving away a number of heavy duty Jason Dark mousepads along with Jason Dark t-shirts. And since we’re all haunted bookworms here, I am also throwing in some books, such as the incredible – and I mean incredible – “Romancing the Vampire” by David J. Skal, “Mean Streets” by Gord Rollo and Gene O’Neill and some others. For a complete list of prices, please see below, but either way, I promise I will make it worth your while. 🙂

So, are you game? I am sure that by now you are wondering how you could get your paws on these hot prices. Let me explain how this will work…

I want you to “Share” my books and tell the world about it. Simple as that. So, go to my books on Amazon and for every book in the list, click the “Like” button found on the product page. Next, a small pop-up box will appear and there, click on the “F” symbol to share your love with your Facebook friends so that they can see it, or click on the Twitter icon to share the love with your Tweeps. A share takes no more than two mouse-clicks — not a whole lot, considering what you could win in the bargain. Count how many of the books you shared this way.

Next, go to the list of my books on Barnes&Noble’s website. On the product page for each book, click on the “F” to share the love with your Facebook friends and also click on the “+1” symbol to share it with your Google+ circles. Again, two mouse-clicks are all that required. Once again, count how may of the books you shared this way.

The next step is simple. You simply send an email to contest@guidohenkel.com and put “Shared: xxx” in the subject line. “xxx” would, naturally, stand for the number of your total shares.

As you can see, this is really simple and no purchase is necessary. You can share my books even if you’ve never even read one. In fact, I would love for you to share information about the books anyway, because even if they are not your bag, maybe some of your friends like Victorian era supernatural mysteries.

At the end of the give-away, on October 22, I will then randomly draw winners from the shares and get their head-chopping prices to them. So, with any luck you might find some of these goodies in your mailbox before Halloween.

There is no limit how many times you can submit shares. You can send them in one at a time or wait until the end and send in the grand total, it is your choice. Your odds of winning will be the same. What is important, however, is that every time you share a book this way with your peeps, tweeps and friends, it will increase your odds of winning. The more, the merrier, as they say.

So, how’s that for a Halloween treat for you? Now, what are you waiting for? I want to see some Facebook shares show up on people’s walls and some shares filtering in my Twitter feed. Let’s make some noise. Let’s tell the world about Jason Dark and his awesome supernatural adventures in Victorian England!

Prices:

Grand Prize:

  • “Book of the Dead” Edition DVD of “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II”
  • “Let Me In” Hammer Horror DVD
  • “Escape From Vampire Island” Blu-Ray/DVD combo
  • “Mean Streets” paperback by Gord Rollo and Gene O’Neill
  • $25 Amazon gift card
  • Jason Dark mouse pad
  • Jason Dark t-shirt

2nd Prize

  • 1-year subscription to “Fangoria” magazine, America’s leading horror magazine, courtesy of Fangoria
  • “Let Me In” Hammer Horror DVD
  • “Scream 4” Blu-Ray/DVD combo
  • “Mean Streets” paperback by Gord Rollo and Gene O’Neill
  • Jason Dark mouse pad
  • Jason Dark t-shirt

3rd Prize

  • “Romancing the Vampire” hardcover by David J. Skal
  • “The Ruins” paperback by Scott Smith
  • “Mean Streets” paperback by Gord Rollo and Gene O’Neill
  • Jason Dark mouse pad
  • Jason Dark t-shirt

4th – 6th Prize

  • “Let Me In” Hammer Horror DVDs
  • Jason Dark mouse pad
  • Jason Dark t-shirt
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