Publisher Interview – Pulp Modern: Alec Cizak

Interview with Alec Cizak, publisher of Pulp Modern


It was an era of bigger-than-life heroes, imaginative villains, sexy sirens, and hard-boiled detectives. The public consumed pages and pages of adventure, horror, and tantalizing mystery. No subject was too lurid or sensational. Pulp Fiction magazines teased readers in the first half of the 20th Century and the genre got its name from the rough, low-quality paper it was printed on.  Alec Cizak has brought some of this literary daring back with his magazine Pulp Modern, and agreed to talk with me about his passion and publication. You can find the current issue, Pulp Modern: Tech Noir for sale now on Amazon.  It is a special edition of futuristic crime stories in collaboration with the crime fiction journal Switchblade.

AF: What do you do as a day job?


AC: I teach lit and composition to pay the bills. I’m lucky to have a wife with a much more marketable skill. Between her salary and the pittance my salary as a part time professor provides, we don’t have to live on the street. I wish I made my money writing pulp fiction, but I was born at the wrong time in history for that!


AF: What motivated you to start up your small press?


AC: I started publishing Pulp Modern because I didn’t see any journals at the time that brought the major genres together. I also didn’t see any big-time publications publishing riskier stories, so I felt there was a need for a market that could take chances since no advertising dollars were on the line.  That’s not a slam on the majors, by the way. I understand they are beholden to advertisers who may not want to be associated with gut-honest stories about junkies, pimps, and hookers. As time went on and the bulk of the original underground pulps that were big at the end of the last decade and the beginning of this decade (Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, Twist of Noir, Crime Factory, Pulp Metal, etc.) either folded or became much more low-key, I continued publishing Pulp Modern because it provided a place for new writers to get their work in print. I suppose it’s become something like a farm team in baseball. Writers get their work in Pulp Modern and then move on to get agents and contracts with the Big Five and all that good stuff. Of course, now we seem to be in a silver age for this movement, with journals like Switchblade, EconoClash Review, Tough, and Broadswords and Blasters providing a new generation of markets.


AF: How long have you been publishing and how many anthologies have you produced?


AC: I started publishing the work of other writers in 2010, at a blog called All Due Respect. That was taken over by Chris Rhatigan when I started Pulp Modern. Rhatigan, of course, has turned ADR into an independent powerhouse. To date, I’ve published fifteen editions of Pulp Modern–a first run of ten issues that ended in 2016, and a second (and current) run that started in 2017 when I asked Richard Krauss (publisher of The Digest Enthusiast) to take over art direction duties. The results have been stunning.


AF: Is there any profit margin?


AC: Nope. This is, financially, a losing venture. The recent Tech Noir issue cost about six hundred dollars to produce. It’s generated about fifty dollars in sales and I doubt that number will even double. This is a labor of love. The independent pulp fiction community has had lags over the last ten years or so, moments where there were almost no markets for new writers, and I’ve gone through periods where I thought I would quit, but enough people would write to me and insist I keep Pulp Modern going that I gave in every time and got back to it. There are many, many writers out there. Some of them are really good and they don’t have connections in the publishing world. A journal like Pulp Modern is there to make sure those unheard voices are heard.


AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?


AC: Funny you should ask. I’m expanding Uncle B. Publications to a “regular” book publisher. I will be working with David Cranmer (Beat to a Pulp) to produce a nice, single-volume collection of all the Drifter Detective novellas. I’m also putting together several charity anthologies, including a collection called Naptown Noir that will benefit the Indiana Literacy Association. Call me naive, stupid, or optimistic, I believe a population that reads is a population that thinks and that, more than anything, will turn this world back in a positive direction.


10 Awesome Christmas Gifts For Authors – 2019 Edition

Disclosure: Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article, we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
It’s 2019 and we’ve got a fresh list of great items to get to the writers (and in some cases, readers) in your life! A nice mix of tools and fun, we can only hope that this list sparks an original idea to help cover the holidays this year. While I put this one together, a huge shout out to Kim Plasket who helped write up most of these on why we enjoyed them! Hurray for team work!
Handmade Leather Journals

I have to say, these are some amazingly well put together journals. If you’re looking for putting pen to paper on something unique, you have to take a look at what Soothi is putting out! Beautifully hand made, these are a great addition to any author’s toolkit who enjoys writing by hand.

Bracelets For Book Lovers

Inspirational bracelets adorned with quotes from classic authors. What better way to feel the energy of the muse than with words from William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, & Mark Twain on your arm as you write your heart out.

These are high on the list of anyone who wants to feel some inspiration from those who walked this very path before.

Available on Amazon.

Do Not Disturb!

This is an absolute can’t miss! When you or a loved one need to take time out to get that all-important deadline covered, this sign will help! Simply place it on the door and it will give you as much free time to write that masterpiece as you need. Just don’t forget to eat

We’ve all been there, stuck with needing to crank out those words and everything wants to get in the way. Now, this simple solution should help filter out at least a couple of those distractions!

Available on Amazon.

A perfect gift for the writer in your life who may have appeared in Trembling With Fear or need the motivation to appear in a future installment! Also, a great read and something which directly supports the site! That’s right folks, we’re talking about all 3 installments of ‘Trembling With Fear’!
Trembling With Fear – Year 1
Trembling With Fear – Year 2
Trembling With Fear – More Tales From The Tree

The titles above are a direct link to all three installments for you to enjoy!


Drink Super Coffee - Grab N' Go Goodness.

Let’s be honest, most authors out there love drinking something. Tea, Coffee, or perhaps something stronger. This year I’m going to say coffee is the way to go and I’ve got one which I personally like while on the run. 10 grams of protein, only 80 calories, and, most importantly, caffeine! I’m a huge fan of the vanilla and caramel Espresso varieties and the hazelnut coffee as well. (Also lactose free, soy free, and gluten free for those who are interested.)

So if you or you’re favorite author might be interested head over to Kitu Super Coffee today!

Get Busy Writing!


For those few times, you feel the dreaded writer’s block coming on. This 12×16 print is all you need to get those creative juices flowing once more. Conquer the dreaded writer’s block, allowing the creativity to flow once more as you draw inspiration from the words you see. This is the perfect gift for the writer who sometimes needs a little boost.

Available on Amazon.

You should never really finish learning and MasterClass is the perfect way to continue your education. Either from a one-off class from a favorite author to a full-on membership to see what some of the greatest creatives out there are reaching – MasterClass has you covered!

An Awesome New Notebook!

Custom notebooks for your writing friend! Specifically, a great example is the Night Owl Paper Goods notebooks. Not only are these high quality but the imagery on the front is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! Maybe, not the best sentiment for writing horror but a nice change of pace for when you’re stuck and need to get some words down on paper.

Not only that, but you can feel good about the wood being used as Night Owl Paper Goods creates “Eco-friendly, sustainably harvested birch wood” notebooks.

A Styling Pencil Holder

A must-have for every writer. What better way to keep all your pens and pencils in one place. No more having to search them out when you have this stylish and affordable keepsake. The perfect gift for the beloved writer in your life. It fits for the lifestyle, is visually appealing, and practical!

Available on Amazon!

Nothing says that you love to write like Horror Tree Swag! That’s right folks, we’re doing a second promo of our own work here and you can snag some great shirts and more for the authors in your life!

If you’re looking to support some of the writers for Horror Tree or those who help on the site, we have a few suggestions there as well! (Don’t forget to leave them reviews folks!)

There you have it folks! A few solid ideas for the authors in your life (or things to add to your own wishlist.) Are we missing anything that you feel NEEDS to be included? Let us know in the comments below!

If you want more ideas, be sure to revisit our 2016 and 2018 editions.

Patch Lane Blog Tour: Five Things That Inspire My Writing By: S.F. Barkley

Five Things That Inspire My Writing

By: S.F. Barkley


Some people grow up always knowing that they wanted to be a writer. They loved writing essays in school, maybe got their college degree in English, or perhaps they even wrote their first novel before ever finishing grade school. That, however, wasn’t me. I had no idea that I wanted to be a writer until, well, I started writing. To explain what gave me the push to first put the pen to paper (or more realistically, my finger to the keyboard), I’ve narrowed it down to the five main things that inspire my writing.


  1. My Love for All Things Creepy

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to the paranormal. Every eerie sound I heard in my house as a child, every chill down my spine, I always believed in ghosts. It’s no surprise that my favorite books growing up were Goosebumps by R. L. Stine. My interest in the paranormal only grew the older I got. I love going on ghost tours of old cities, visiting supposedly haunted places (big fan of Gettysburg), and hearing the fascinating histories of buildings and places.


  1. My Experiences as a Cop

I was a cop for nearly three years. During that time, I discovered an underground tunnel system, a secret room behind a fireplace, and was dispatched to an abandoned building for 911 hang up calls- all while on the job. First responders commonly find themselves in creepy situations, especially those who work the night shift. All of my experiences left me wondering, “What if…”


  1. My Personal Life

One of the most famous pieces of advice for writers is to “Write what you know.” I know law enforcement, but there’s a lot more to a story than just the main character’s career. I constantly draw on my personal life’s experiences to help build the world and characters in my stories. For example, I grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, so the fictional town I created was in Western Pennsylvania and inspired by the towns that I knew. There are pieces of my life sprinkled throughout my stories.


  1. Reddit r/NoSleep

My first attempt at writing was on Reddit’s subreddit r/NoSleep, which is a forum for realistic horror stories told from first-person perspective. My first short story was about finding dead space in my house, but it only received about 60 upvotes, deeming it not very popular. I still had a lot of fun writing the story and reading the responses though, so I wrote a second short story series. This second series was about being a rookie cop and getting dispatched repeatedly to an abandoned house for 911 hang up calls. In a blink of an eye, the story blew up. It was read over 100,000 times, upvoted by over 5,000 readers, and eventually went on to win Story of the Month in August 2018, having competed with nearly 4,000 other short stories.

Once I received such an outpour of positive feedback, I was inspired to turn the short series into a novel, and that’s how Patch Lane was created.


  1. Wine

There are actually two ways that wine helps inspire my writing. First, it’s no secret that alcohol loosens us up and gets the creative juices flowing. My writing routine involves sitting in my wine/writing room, pouring myself a large glass, and turning on some soft music. Second, by making such a cozy and zen writing setting, I give myself something to look forward to. I don’t allow myself to sip on wine until I’ve sat down with my laptop in hand.

PLane digital cover.jpg

Patch Lane

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

Genre: Thriller

Sarah Hastings is a rookie cop who works the night shift in Amber Forest, a small rural town nestled in the Western Pennsylvania mountains. After repeatedly responding to an abandoned and allegedly haunted farmhouse for 911 hang up calls, she discovers a dead body in a secret room. The forensic investigators determine that the body has only been dead for three to four days, but the case takes an unexpected turn when Sarah runs the victim’s fingerprints and finds that her Jane Doe actually died 20 years ago.

The murder investigation is complicated with a sloppy autopsy and delayed forensic reports. When the US Marshals and FBI join the case, Sarah realizes that she is caught in a web of jurisdictional politics that seem to care less about the victim and are more concerned with a larger confidential case. Sarah soon realizes that she may be closer to the victim than she thought and finds herself drawn deeper into the case, threatening not just her career, but her life.

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The house was in total disrepair. The exterior had white wooden siding with loosely attached, rotting black shutters. The moonlight highlighted the chipping paint, making the shutters appear two-toned. The old brick chimney was pulling away from the side of the house, and small trees were growing on the lower roof. There were no signs of life inside—no lights, no sound, not even a car parked on the property. It was the only house on the lane, so I deduced this was once a running farm. This must have been the original farmhouse. I slowly made my way around the house, trudging through the overgrown grass, to check the perimeter. With no evidence of life or habitation, I was beginning to question if Dispatch had gotten the address wrong. I got on the radio. “1034 to Dispatch.”

“Dispatch, go ahead.”

“I’m at 52 Patch Lane. Can you confirm this is the address?”

“Stand by.” After about a minute, Dispatch got back on the air. “1034, yes, that’s the correct address. Do you need backup?”

“Negative. It appears no one is home, but I’ll update.”

At this point, I knocked on the front door and announced myself. “Officer Hastings, Amber Forest Police Department!” No answer. All of the windows were closed, so I tried the front door. Locked. I didn’t have any extenuating circumstances that would allow a warrantless entry, so all I could do was leave. There wasn’t even enough for me to write a police report.

“1034 to Dispatch,” I radioed again.

“Dispatch, go ahead.”

“It looks like this house is abandoned. I think the 911 hang up might have been some crossed telephone wires. Clear me from the call with no report.”


I began driving back down the gravel lane when another wave of chills shot through me. I hit my brakes and glanced in my rearview mirror. My brake lights flooded the house in red, and for a split moment I thought I saw someone standing in the window watching me leave. I blinked, and the figure vanished. My intuition had kept me alive this far, but I knew Chief Fox would rip me a new one if I tried to enter that house based on my intuition and faintly seeing shadows. I took a deep breath and convinced my foot to ease off of the brake and back on the gas.

Available on Amazon

Click the link below to win a Kindle download of Patch Lane!

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Blog Tour Schedule

December 2nd

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)

Horror Tree (Guest Post)

I’m All About Books (Review)

Kim Knight (Review)

December 3rd

B is for Book Review (Guest Post)

Just 4 My Books (Spotlight)

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Review)

December 4th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview)

Reading Nook (Spotlight)

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review)

December 5th

Cup of Books Blog (Review)

Read and Rated (Review)

My Comic Relief (Review)

December 6th

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight)

Jessica Belmont (Review)

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight)

About the Author


S.F. Barkley is a former police officer who uses her law enforcement knowledge and experience along with her love for all things creepy to create short stories and novels. She had several eerie experiences as a cop, including having discovered secret underground tunnels and responding to 911 hang up calls to an abandoned industrial building. She has published short horror stories in various anthologies and is publishing her debut mystery novel, Patch Lane, in October 2019. She was raised in Western Pennsylvania and currently resides in Maryland with her husband and their rescue pup.

S.F. Barkley | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon

Blog Tour Organized By:


R&R Book Tours

Introducing Our New Review Coordinator – Catherine Jordan

Welcome sign on towel food

A friend recently debated me over the difference between horror and thrillers. Well, there’s a fine line between certain genres. Take erotica and romance, for example. Romance uses a feather; erotica uses the whole chicken. Thriller send a shiver down your spine. Horror opens your back and twists that spine into something sinister. (ie, Zelda in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary)

My name is Catherine Jordan. I hope you’ll welcome me as the new review coordinator for I’m a horror novelist, although I edit and write in many genres. I’ve been featured in a variety of anthologies, on-line publications, and print magazines. It was my pleasure to serve as judge for the Bram Stoker Award and for the ITW Young Adult Award. I also facilitate writing courses and critique groups.

I’m a petite harmless blonde and mother of five children. Oh, and we have a cat, too. I’m often asked why I write horror since I look more like a Hallmark romance writer. Well, I do have 5 kids. Haha. No, really I think it’s because I was raised Catholic, and Catholicism is filled with the supernatural. There are so many cautionary tales about how to deal with helplessness and horror and fear. Confront it and embrace hope. Hope is the key word. Be forever hopeful.

I reflect back on the haunted houses my sister and I walked through (I hate jump scares), the rollercoasters my children asked me to ride (I loathe heights), and the planes my best friend and I have flown (turbulence scares the shit out of me). I wouldn’t say I conquered any of those things. I’ll still down an Ativan whenever taking on the aforementioned phobias, but I do tackle them. I don’t let fear hold me back; trepidation challenges me, and when overcome, it raises my confidence. The ole ditty rings true: “I did it before and I can do it again.”

Scary situations teach focus when deciding whether to fight or flee. And know that there’s another F word—flight!  You see, some people fear change. In my opinion, change brings opportunity, and opportunity leads to success. You can’t soar like an eagle if you let the turkeys keep you grounded. So, challenge yourself to spread your wings and fly.

Tell yourself it’s okay to be afraid. Everyone has fears. Fear builds character. Hey—isn’t that what we writers do for a living—build characters?

On that note, I’d like to appeal to you horror lovers—we need reviewers. I have a list of 10 books ready. Opinions matter and here’s an opportunity to share yours! Our writing community depends on readers and their honest reviews. If you’re a writer, you may be tempted to say you’re too busy. I used to think the same thing, until I realized that the more I read, the better I become at writing. I can help by sending a review sheet for areas to consider. If you like the book, tell the world. If you don’t, tell the writer.

Thank you!

Enter To Win A Digital Of ‘Figments And Fragments’ In Our Latest Giveaway!

Figments and Fragments – Horror Tree giveaway

This is a full color image of a book cover for Figments and Fragments by Deborah Sheldon

Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories, a collection by award-winning author Deborah Sheldon, will be released November 18 by IFWG Publishing Australia.


“I’m excited by this project,” stated Gerry Huntman, Managing Director of the publishing house, “because we have Deborah’s latest fiction collected in Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories, and this acquisition distills the very best of her earlier dark fiction. We also decided to add a bonus three original pieces.”


The Horror Tree gave Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories a five-star review. In part, reviewer Alyson Faye wrote, “Deborah Sheldon is adept at drawing you in, writing fast, furious dialogue, making you smell and taste the landscape and the characters’ sweat, taking you on a journey with the lost, the displaced, the broken, the runaways, the misfits and the mad, who populate the pages.”




Brutal. Compelling. Sinister.


From wheat farms, roadhouses, caravan parks and beaches to quiet suburban streets and inner-city apartments, award-winning author Deborah Sheldon tells distinctly Australian stories about violence, loss, betrayal and revenge.


Figments and Fragments includes three new stories written especially for the collection.




Deborah Sheldon is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia. She writes short stories, novellas, and novels across the darker spectrum of horror, crime, and noir.

Some of her titles include horror novels Body Farm Z, Contrition and Devil Dragon; the horror novella Thylacines; the romance-suspense novella The Long Shot; and collections Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories and the award-winning Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work 2017”).

Her short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, and Dimension6. Her fiction has been shortlisted for numerous Australian Shadows Awards and Aurealis Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award and included in various “best of” anthologies. She’s also guest editor of this year’s edition of Midnight Echo.

Other credits include TV scripts such as Neighbours, feature articles for national magazines, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing. Visit her at




The Horror Tree is giving away TEN copies of the ebook Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories.

Publisher Interview – Jolly Horror Press: Jonathan Lambert

Jonathan Lambert is the founder and editor of Jolly Horror Press, and has been known to pen a horror story or two himself. His third anthology Accursed will be released December 10th, and if you love stories that mix comedy and horror, this compilation has dark scary moments featuring cursed items. Each story may lead you down some dark alleys, but then surprise you with some laugh-out-loud moments. I contributed a story to this anthology and was impressed with the time and attention Lambert paid to his edits and revisions. I can’t wait to read the entire book. In the meantime, I had some questions for him about the indie anthology business and his role as a publisher.


AF: What do you do as a day job?


JL: Interesting question. Truth be told, I like to keep my day job separate from my role as publisher at Jolly Horror Press, and even my writing. In my experience, people sometimes begin to act odd or different once they find out a coworker writes or publishes horror. God forbid the little old lady a few offices away grabs one of our books and starts reading about incubi and witch orgies, or some other risqué story in one of these anthologies. She’d never look at me the same, or she’ll never leave me alone. LOL. So, I’d rather avoid that all together If I can.

I’ll tell you a little though. I’m a senior executive at a US Federal Government agency. I lead a very large program (~2.5 billion dollars) to modernize aging computer systems over the next ten years. I work in Downtown DC near all the monuments and museums and I have a 2.5 hour commute each way, every day. That doesn’t leave me a lot of time for the publishing and writing business. That’s what the weekends are for.


AF: What motivated you to start up your small press?

JL: The genre I write is horror/comedy. Short stories. The long days I put in at the office aren’t very conducive to writing longer works at this time (maybe something I’ll do when I retire.) For many years I would submit these stories to other anthologies. I had a good bit of success, yet horror/comedy stories are difficult to place. Most anthologies want pure horror. I also sold a lot of stories for peanuts. I think 3 dollars for a 5,000-word story was the lowest. I also noticed how so many publications no longer pay at all. They pay through ‘exposure’ but if they aren’t well marketed, the exposure is limited.

After a few years of experience selling short stories to anthologies, I just decided that I could do a better job. Provide better customer service, and be more author friendly. I could also create a press that is dedicated to horror/comedy. Finally, these stories could have a home. I just needed the name, and one day Jolly Horror Press just popped in my head. The rest is history.


AF: How long have you been publishing and how many anthologies have you produced?

JL: I started Jolly Horror Press about two years ago. Purchased the domain name, developed the website myself, got some legal advice, had a logo created, and put out the call for our first anthology, “Don’t Cry to Mama.”

While the stories were coming in, I decided to put out a collection of my own work, all horror/comedy short stories, called “Betwixt the Dark & Light”, as all the exclusive rights had expired.

“Don’t Cry to Mama” came shortly after. We got a great response. Some really great stories. It was supposed to be horror/comedy, but we’ve found that not many people actually WRITE horror/comedy either. So for now, we accept both. However, funny horror stories will always be the ones we accept first. And in one of our next anthologies, “Coffin Blossoms,” we’ll only accept horror/comedy. Might be a great story but if it doesn’t make us chuckle…

Before that though, we will release our third anthology, “Accursed,” in December. It’s an anthology where each story is about some kind of cursed item. Again, both pure horror and horror/comedy.

I’m trolling the alphabet.  “Accursed”; “Betwixt the Dark & Light”; “Coffin Blossoms”; “Don’t Cry to Mama”. Not sure what the one after that will be called, but you can bet it will start with an “E”.


AF: Is there any profit margin?

JL: For now, no. An anthology generally consists of 20-25 stories. We usually pay $25 per story. That amount is the minimum sale price to qualify for Horror Writer’s Association membership. We thought that was a good thing to do for authors. If we purchase 25 stories at 25 dollars, that’s a cost of $625. Throw in a cover for minimum $200, and a marketing budget ($500), and costs for supplemental editing and other things, it easily costs about $1,500 minimum to make an anthology. And we do our own editing and formatting or it would cost even more.

We generally price our print books for $12.99. Amazon takes 40% of that, leaving $7.79. But then, they subtract the print price of the book (depends on number of pages, mainly). Jolly Horror Press books have a particular style and format that I really value. I could make the print price cheaper by using smaller fonts and cramming things together, but this is a labor of love. I won’t sacrifice quality for profit. So, from the $7.79, they subtract the print cost which for “Don’t Cry to Mama” was about $4.98. This leaves an actual profit of $2.81 per sale.

Ebooks are about the same. If we price them at $3.99, Amazon takes a 30% royalty leaving $2.79 as profit.

So, we need to sell around 600 copies to come close to breaking even. We are getting close with “Don’t Cry to Mama” but haven’t quite reached it yet.

Marketing costs soon have diminishing returns. After a few months, sales begin to drop off. They pick up again when a new anthology is released though. So, in the long run, who knows?

I used the words “Labor of Love” earlier, and that’s true. I don’t care if our books are profitable. I’d love it, of course, but it’s not going to stop us from producing quality anthologies. I do have that day job, you know?

AF: What are your plans for your press in the future?

JL: I’d like to keep going until we have 10 or 15 anthologies out there, and then turn Jolly Horror into movie production company. You know how you watch a horror movie and see “Blumhouse Productions” or “Ghost House Pictures” in the beginning credits? Well, with any luck, one day you’ll see “Jolly Horror Productions” at the beginning of a horror/comedy movie

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