Cerberus Rising in Audio

I’ve been listening to the various stories in Cerberus Rising by myself, M Ennnenbach, and Patrick C. Harrison III in audio, and it’s an understatement to say they’re good.

They’re freaking outstanding.

We have nine stories in all in this beautiful book of perfection. Three themes, three stories per theme, nine novelettes. They are:

Cabin Fever

Insides Out

Into the light

50 Words for Writer’s Block—a Decline

Letters

The Final Correspondence of Thomas Baker Wolfe

Baptized by Lethe

Blame Jonathan Swift

Chaos

The Incident at Barrow Farm

Taking the Loop

Day 69

We couldn’t be more proud of these stories…or so we thought. When we started hearing Daniel Caravetta’s readings of these stories, we saw them catapult into the stratosphere. They stand on their own weight, but the fine voice acting and inflection from Mr. Caravetta just sets them all apart in a way that you’ll have to hear to fully appreciate.

There are two stories left to be produced, but the other seven have been nothing short of brilliant. When you hear them, you’ll understand of what I speak.

Are you an audiobook fan? If not, why not? I’ve always loved to have stories told to me, even from childhood with my grandparents and parents, and hearing a skilled actor perform them is all the better. But that’s me. What are your thoughts? What are your favorite audiobooks, and who are your favorite narrators? Mine are Frank Muller, Will Patton, Mare Winningham, Rosario Dawson, Santino Fontana, Matt Godfrey, and, of course, Daniel Caravetta.

I’d love to hear from you. Actually, all three of us would love to hear from you. Send us an email or connect on social media or just respond here. You guys are the best. God bless.

And keep reading!

Chris Miller—10-3-2020

Criminal Leanings

I’ve got some things brewing I wanted to share with all you fine folks, if you’ll indulge me. I hope it sounds intriguing to you…

I am—and have been for a very long time—a huge fan of crime fiction. Novels, movies, doesn’t matter. I adore it. And I’m not talking about the Scorsese greats (though I love them too), but really gritty, not-Italian-Mafia-crime fiction. Think Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown by Tarantino. Think Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Rock-N-Rolla by Guy Richie. Sexy Beast with Ben Kingsley. Narc by Joe Carnahan, and his visceral classic, Smoking Aces. How about some absolute favorites of mine like Fargo (both the movie and the series), Blood Simple, Suburbicon, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, No Country For Old Men, Miller’s Crossing, and The Ladykillers by the Coen Brothers (and there are even more from that pair of utter geniuses). A History of Violence by David Cronenberg.

And many, many more.

I think you can see the kind of stories I’m talking about. It’s crime, some of it is gangsters, but it’s not like The Godfather or Goodfellas or Casino. A different element, something grittier. The Mafia movies usually are plenty gritty and grim, but these are guys in the life, usually competent in so much as one can be competent in such a role. But my favorite crime stories are the ones where there are strange and bizarre characters, people getting involved with criminal elements and getting in way over their heads as they watch what they set in motion careen off the rails, completely out of control. The crazier the set up, the characters, and the resolution are, the better. I like to call it “batshit crime”, my own genre invention.

And that brings me to the point. If you follow me, you know I’m an author. While I often tout myself as a suspense writer, most of what I’ve written falls clearly into the horror genre, and there’s a reason for that: I love horror. A suspense writer can have a great deal of fun with horror, and while most horror has some suspense, I usually want to see it cranked well past an 11 and settle somewhere around a 93 (on a scale of 10, mind you). Crime fiction, on the other hand, ONLY works when you can ratchet up the suspense and really get into who the characters are, likable or not.

One of my books, The Hard Goodbye, is just such an exercise. One of my most well-received but also least read efforts, it’s the one novel of mine that cannot be categorized as a horror story. It’s sprinkled with horror elements, but I think most people feel the suspense is horrifying, and so they will say it’s “kinda horror”, even though it really isn’t. There isn’t a single “likable” character, all of them are scumbags to varying degrees, and they’re all caught up in a sordid web of lies, betrayal, theft, and murder.

I love that kind of story. Absolutely love it. Crime, like horror, has the benefit of freedom in that you can show the worst side of humanity in bold, blatant realism. You don’t have to have a protagonist who is a good person, don’t have to have redeeming qualities in the characters, and you can cut loose with absolute chaos on the screen or page and it will entertain. I love the no holds barred approach to this kind of fiction, and I think that most horror lovers would/will as well if they dive into it and give it a chance.

I’ve published five novels now, and one novella. Of those five novels, only The Hard Goodbye is not a horror story, though plenty of horrifying things occur on the pages, starting on the very first. And lately, I’ve been watching and reading plenty of this type of crime fiction and, well…

You guessed it! It’s got me itching to get back to another crime story. Gritty, dark (The Hard Goodbye was called the darkest book ever read by more than one reviewer), but above all fun, I’ve wanted to come back to this type of story for a while, but with the weak sales of The Hard Goodbye, in spite of the extremely high praise it has received (Ray Garton and Jonathan Janz both enjoyed the hell out of it), it’s kept me focusing more on horror stories. And I haven’t run out of those, but I’ve had a list of several ideas building over the past couple years for more “batshit crime” fiction, and thus, this post.

I’m about halfway through a new story which will likely be a short novel (like The Hard Goodbye was) called WAKING UP THE DEVIL. There is nothing supernatural here, nothing horror, no monsters lurking beyond the veil, no ancient gods trying to reign havoc over the earth in the late 1870s, nothing like that. It’s small town, big crime.

And it’s mean.

I’m loving it, I’m loving how it’s coming together, I love the suspense, I love writing big action sequences, and I can’t wait to get it finished and into everyone’s hands. But I’m worried about it’s reception being like The Hard Goodbye was. I may approach crime-specific publishers with it as it is certainly a step outside of the horror community, even though that community would eat it up if they tried it. But more than just this new novel, I’ve got two more well developed ideas for other “batshit” crime novels, and a western that is the same type of crime story, plus two collaborations that both involve crime. That’s five new novels/novellas I’ve got brewing, and none of them are horror. Problem is, I’m an established horror author!

So, I’d love to hear from all of you. Seriously, here on the blog, on Facebook or Twitter, wherever. I want to hear from you. I want to hear your thoughts on this type of crime fiction and how you feel about it next to horror. Do you want to follow an established horror author who is “expanding” into crime fiction as well? Make no mistake, I’m not giving up horror at all. I’ve got some ideas for more horror stories, short and long alike, but they’re further out on the horizon. Jeff Strand, who is a genius prolific author of everything from YA to horror to comedy to crime (and sometimes a mixture of all), mentioned to me once that as someone much more established than I am (he writes for a living, which is the dream), when he writes something that’s not horror, his sales plummet. That’s not why we write what we write, but it is certainly a factor.

What I’m driving at is this: do you—horror fans—also like crime fiction of the sort I described at the outset of this post? Or do you specifically stick to horror? If so, why? Is it because you like the darkness, the terror of it all? What if I told you that crime fiction of the kind I’m speaking can be equally horrifying and intense? Would you be willing to follow your pal Chris into some of these stories?

I’m not a pen name guy. Chris Miller is my real name. And I’m not going to use a pen name for different genres. Part of that is vanity—I want credit for whatever I write—and part of it is simply I’m not going to start over from scratch building separate audiences. I see no reason why the two audiences can’t be one, or at least merged.

What are your thoughts? Again, I’d really love to hear from you. You can email me here, comment on this post, or comment on the links on social media. Give me your thoughts and your reasoning, for or against. Love you guys.

And keep reading!

Chris Miller—9-26-2020

We Are Cerberus

Cerberus Rising, our first collaborative effort (and there will be many more), is available now in print and ebook. It has some of the best writing—maybe even the best—that any of we three have ever done. Who are the three of us, you ask? Well, I’m thrilled you inquired.

M. Ennenbach (Mike, not Marcellus)

Patrick C. Harrison III (that’s ‘the Third’, not “Aye! Aye! Aye!”)

Chris Miller (that’s…me…not Mike ME…me me)

Follow the links to our respective websites and give us a follow, and be sure to check out our other publications while you’re there. But while I’ve got you here, I want to take a few minutes to talk to you about Cerberus, our book, and why you need it in your life.

About a year ago, Mike and I were discussing collaboration. We had just endeavored to work on a sci-fi/cosmic horror book together (one we’ll get back to before long) and we talked about the process of collaboration. Patrick (henceforth PCIII—or PC—in this post) was and is someone we both respect a great deal as both an author and a person. In the course of this, we started talking about doing a book, a sort of collaboration, but where we each wrote our own stories. We wanted to feel like it all belonged together, like a cohesive piece, but also distinct like our own writing.

Then we talked about getting PCIII involved.

Ah, the trembling. Both of us were and still are good friends with PC, best friends, even. But our cigar-chomping pal tends to put out an aura of unapproachability. The cigar, the crossed arms, the scowl, it’s all there, ever-present, ever-intimidating.

Plus, he’s just a great writer. It was for this reason we wanted him in the book, along with the fact that he’s our good buddy. But, how to approach him? How to broach the subject in such a way that he would be interested and, God-willing, agree to be part of the project?

Alcohol.

That’s right, some good ol’ liquid courage turned out to be just the ticket. The three of us decided to meet in Rockwall, TX at a really neat Irish pub (I can never remember the name, but Mike and PC always seem to know, so ask them) and have a meal and hang out. We got some sort of Scottish Eggs (it’s a hard-boiled egg entombed within sausage and then deep fried and served with some sort of jelly sauce or another—delicious). I think I had a Philly Cheesesteak as my main meal (or was it a French Dip?), but that’s not what’s important. Neither is the way my pinky stuck out (sticks out?) every time I raised my glass of beer to my lips.

So, after we ate, the three of us retired to the patio out back with our brews and had a cigar and some terrific conversation. Now mind you, Mike and I had been steadily shoveling buckets of beer in front of PC the whole evening, trying to lower his guard as much as we were trying conjure our own nerve. The man is so stoic, so granite-hard, I was starting to believe this whole approach was going to be a bust.

The evening churned on, conversation moving from music, to movies we liked, to books. We began discussing not books that were out in the wild that we enjoy, but books that were not. We talked about the kinds of collections and anthologies that we wanted to read. Everywhere you turn there’s another themed anthology with anywhere from ten to twenty authors all writing about a similar theme. Nothing wrong with those, but they’re everywhere, and it also puts a limit on what the reader gets from each author, what they can showcase. If one author writes a zombie story for one anthology, you don’t really get a feel for them as an overall author. If that story was good and you wanted to check out more from them, you gotta go find other anthologies, all of varying degrees of quality, so on…

We wanted to see an anthology (or collection) with a shorter author list, but with more diversity from each involved. At some point the alcohol finally pierced through PC’s diamond-hard surface and the scowl faltered. There were even a couple of smiles (expertly cloaked by the cigar), and Mike had reached the point where the jokes were flowing and his rapier wit was cutting us to pieces.

Then, finally, we asked him.

“Patrick, please, sir, might you consider joining your talents with ours? Might you bless us with thine presence on papyrus that shares our ink? Might you, sir?”

That was Mike, who’s balls were big enough to approach PC with our proposition, but only by transforming into a really butchered version of Tiny Tim.

But anyway, it worked.

I stepped in and rambled a few incoherent sentences about writing and togetherness and actualization. I have no idea what I said, and I can only assume it was that PC found amusement in our deteriorated absurdity. Perhaps he took pity on Mike and I, and you know what? I’ll take it. Pity is underrated.

In any event, he agreed. “Let’s do it,” he said, and Mike and I both peed in our chairs, squeeing like young women at a pop concert for whoever the current heartthrob is (I have no idea who’s popular in music).

We had a rough outline of what we wanted, too, and laid it out. Three authors. We each come up with a prompt. Then we each write one story for each prompt.

9 novelettes.

Mike, sage that he is, already had his prompt together—Cabin Fever. Patrick wanted to think for a bit on his, and I had about fourteen swirling around, each of which I thought inferior to the others. But at the end of the night we had a solid idea for a book, still lacking two of the prompts—both of which would come within a week or two—but we had a vision. Diversity, even though we’re three straight white guys (can’t help how we were born), was the name of the game. We wanted to highlight our strengths, but also challenge each other, to take chances, to write stories we normally wouldn’t, and to approach the material in ways perhaps not inside our comfort zone.

Before we left for the night, we had our waitress take a photo of us out there on that deck with our cigars and hoodies and jackets (it was December 23rd and I, for one, had extremely hard nipples). We threw our arms around each other, each of us blissfully unaware of the coming pandemic that would reduce us to elbow bumps in a couple of months, and showed our pearly whites. Well, I don’t think PC did…or did he?

We posted the picture to Facebook and our dear friend and the most awesome horror fan of all time—Brad Tierney—commented under it with what would become a sort of identity to the three of us.

Brad’s comment was: ‘Cerberus’.

That was it. WE were Cerberus. Cerberus would write this book (and many more in the coming years) as a collective, but also as individuals. Mike is a Poet. PCIII is a Master of Horror. And, people tend to call me a Master of Suspense (makes me smile every time). So that was who we were. Once PC and I figured out our prompts for the book—his was ‘Letters’ and mine was ‘Chaos’—we were off to the races.

I’m proud of this book. We are proud of this book. And I think you’ll find yourself enamored with the brilliant ideas and prose of both Mike and PCIII, and you might even enjoy my stories as well. Who knows? But the only way to find out is to click the link at the top of this post and fetch yourself a copy to read for yourself.

We hope you’ll try it out. We hope you’ll leave a review, regardless how you feel about it. But most of all, we want you to experience the same magic we discovered as we traveled through nine levels of Hell.

Cerberus rises. Rise with us.

Chris Miller—9-19-2020

Where the heck have I been?

I’ve kind of been absent—both here and on my Newsletter—for a good while, so we’ll call this a “soft reboot” of my blog, what do you say? I could start with an introduction, except you’re reading this on my website, so I feel like you must know who I am, at least. But—for all three of my followers—I’ll just assume you landed here by accident and can’t figure out who the hell I am. So, let’s get off on the right foot, shall we?

“Hi, my name is Chris Miller, and I write horror and suspense fiction.”

THREE FANS: ”Hi Chris!”

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive in!

So, what have I been up to these past months? If you take a stroll back through my blog here, you’ll find the random update (none very recent, either), but mostly you’ll find book reviews. I was doing this for a while on every single book I read that I enjoyed. I enjoy doing reviews, and thought I could share my love of books on my website, give some other authors a little boost, and maybe help drive some traffic to my own books as well while I was at it. Why not, right?

That didn’t work so well, at least not in the way I had hoped, and I also started to get burned out on writing up reviews. Or, more to it, I was getting burned out on writing all around.It was like the very process of writing seemed to become a burden, and I’d never experienced that before. It’s usually an escape, cathartic and healing, even when I may not feellike doing it. But these last months have been a different story. The pandemic, the unleashing of allthe assholes on earth at once (at least it seems that way), personal and work problems…it’s just been a nightmare. While I’ll look back fondly on 2020 as the year I released my first western, I will notbe looking back on 2020 proper with any kind of fondness whatsoever.

I’ve been largely working on my first collection of short fiction most recently, which I dived into after completing work on my part of Cerberus Rising (which kicks ass and you can get right here). Novelettes and short stories and novellas, oh my! I’ve been working on so much short fiction, both for my own works and for anthologies, that I’ve started to wonder if I’ll have trouble going back into long form. Ugh. And it’s been slow going much of the time, too. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, 2020 has really brought me down, and I find more and more I have been staring at a blinking cursor rather than punching keys.

I’ve tried everything. I tried abandoning a couple works I was in the middle of and started new things, gone back to a couple older projects, took a break for over a week, etcetera. A time or two, this seemed to work, at least initially. But then things would come grinding to a halt again. Being in the midst of all of this—and riding my backlog of projects that have been coming out through this year—I’ve been getting more and more nervous about my writing and wondered if I’d lost my mojo forever.

That’s a scary thing for a writer. Truly frightening, especially when you’ve started getting a modicum of recognition and garnering a bit of a following. And that, my friends, is why this space has been largely inactive in recent months. I just…didn’t have anything to give an update on.

But you know what? I don’t think I’m anywhere near the only person dealing with that. Certainly not the only writer, but wordslinger or otherwise, we’re all going through this level of hell known as 2020 together, and it’s taken it’s toll on us all. We’re going to make it through this, and for us creatives, remember: keep on shoveling, even if all it seems like you’re doing is moving shit from one place to another. You gotta keep on mining, and eventually you’ll start to uncover some gems.

Thankfully, I’ve started to pick up steam again, and I’m getting close to having my first collection completed. Only this morning, I was able to pitch the book to a publisher—fingers crossed on that one! So, hang in there, and try to hold me accountable. You can email me from my site here, just click the ‘Contact’ tab and get in touch. Send me questions, maybe some suggestions on what kind of content you’d like to see here. I want this to become my main hub one of these days where I can talk with fans and you guys can talk with me and we can cut out all the dramatic, nightmare bullshit that is Facebook and Twitter. I just want to be me, and I just want to get to know all of you. So drop me a line, say hi, convince me the world is flat, I don’t care. There’s one place the Coronavirus can’t get us, and that’s on the internet, so let’s use it!

Take care, my friends, and keep reading. We’re far from being done here.

Chris Miller—8-31-2020