Thursday, September 26, 2013

Snow Day with author, Dan Maurer




It happens each winter, and has for over 35 years. Every time the snow starts to fall late in the evening before a school day, the dreams begin again for Billy Stone. They are always the same – there’s a dark tunnel, and there’s blood, lots of blood, and someone is screaming.

In this chilling childhood tale, Billy, recounts the events of one unforgettable day in 1975. On that day, he and his friends played carefree in the snow, until an adventure gone awry left him far from home, staring death in the face, and running from a killer bent on keeping a horrible secret.

Set in a time before Amber Alerts, when horror stories were told around camp fires instead of on the nightly news, Snow Day is a blend of nostalgia and nightmare that makes us question if the good old days were really as good as we remember.

From a new voice in dark fiction comes a thriller about an idyllic childhood turned horrifying; a cautionary tale about how losing sight of the difference between feeling safe and being safe can lead to deadly consequences.



Snow Day: a Novella
A Single Night of Thoughtful Thrills
 
I love novellas.  http://bit.ly/171CHuP>Snow Day
, the ebook and audiobook thriller that I’ve recently published, is a novella. 
 
I even like the sound of that word. It has a nice ring to it. Say it with me – no-vel-la
.  Many great writers like John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, and Ernest Hemmingway have written famous novellas. And for those of us who prefer to read about things that go bump in the night,  authors like Richard Matheson, Stephen King,  Robert Lewis Stevenson and many others can be added to the list.  That’s not bad company. In fact, I love the form and I’m excited to tread, with light foot, along the same literary path as such worthy craftsmen. 
 
Longer than a short story, but shorter than a traditional novel,  the novella is a wonderful but rare bird.  So rare, in fact, that many young adult readers have never encountered one – not in paper form, any way.  Sometimes, when I tell people I’ve written a novella, they cock their heads like a confused puppy.  The words of encouragement or congratulations that spill from  their lips are always polite, occasionally enthusiastic,  but often accompanied by a questioning tone that lingers in the air like the scent of a sweet smelling herbal cigarette smoked less than an hour ago – not terribly unpleasant, but still, something I could do without.
 
In that moment, I pretend that I can read minds, and their thoughts often fall into three categories. Either they think they misheard me – He said novel, didn’t he? Or, they are mildly disappointed, as if a good friend missed the mark on the grail-like quest to write the great American novel– Only a novella, hmm, that’s too bad.   And then there are those who dismiss it as something it is not – Oh, it’s just a short story. At least, that’s what they think as they smile and wish me well.
 
Snow Day  is simply a tale that found its natural length and scope in the land of not-quite-a-novel.  But like King’s The Mist, or Matheson’s Duel, or Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,  its size is its charm. Like all good novellas, it strives to concentrate its impact on the reader into a single evening of thrills, and if I’ve done my job right, offer a few interesting ideas that may chill you. All in one evening, all for the price of a cup of coffee, and for no more personal commitment than the time that passes between the end of dinner and the start of Charlie Rose.  In this age of long work days and over booked calendars, who could ask for more? 
 
As a parent, I was eager to use Snow Day as way to explore  an earlier time – 1975 –  a time when the world that young children played in was much different from what we know today. As they page through Snow Day, younger readers will no doubt think they’ve entered an alien world, one that their parents might call the good ol’ days.  But as you’ll discover, they weren’t always as good as we remember,  and they certainly weren’t any more safe. In Snow Day, Billy Stone, a middle-aged father of two sons, has been haunted for years by nightmares that only come when a blizzard is brewing the evening before a school day.  In his personal recollection, written at the suggestion of his doctor, he takes us back to that one unforgettable snow day from his childhood and the origins of his dark dreams.  Essentially an ode to the campfire stories of my youth, I readily and proudly admit that Snow Day owes a few strands of its DNA to tales like Harper Lees’ To Kill a Mocking Bird (still my favorite novel),  King’s The Body, and others tales of their kind.  There is even a subtle nod Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. See if you can’t find it in Chapter 15.
 
I’m sure these influences will be clear as you read Snow Day, but the real question will be this: did I do them justice, and more importantly, did this novella fulfill the promise of the form – a single night of thoughtful thrills and an interesting, perhaps chilling idea for you to consider as you power down your Kindle, refresh your night cap, and tune in to hear Charlie Rose utter those familiar words...”Tonight on the program...” Only you can be the judge of that. 


Join Dan Maurer, author of the thriller/suspense/horror novella, Snow Day, as he tours the blogosphere July 1 - September 27, 2013 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book! This tour is part of a huge Kindle Fire HD Giveaway. If interested in signing up for a review, interview, guest post, or book spotlight, please let us know by contacting Tracee at tgleichner (at) gmail.com or leave a comment below along with your contact information.
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SnowDay_Maurer_BookCover_Small_LowRez_287x459_Color_FinalABOUT SNOW DAY: A NOVELLA

 
It happens each winter, and has for over 35 years. Every time the snow starts to fall late in the evening before a school day, the dreams begin again for Billy Stone. They are always the same – there’s a dark tunnel, and there’s blood, lots of blood, and someone is screaming.
 
In this chilling childhood tale, Billy, recounts the events of one unforgettable day in 1975. On that day, he and his friends played carefree in the snow, until an adventure gone awry left him far from home, staring death in the face, and running from a killer bent on keeping a horrible secret.
 
Set in a time before Amber Alerts, when horror stories were told around camp fires instead of on the nightly news, Snow Day is a blend of nostalgia and nightmare that makes us question if the good old days were really as good as we remember.
 
From a new voice in dark fiction comes a thriller about an idyllic childhood turned horrifying; a cautionary tale about how losing sight of the difference between feeling safe and being safe can lead to deadly consequences.
 
Free Audiobook Sample — Snow Day: Prologue
 
 
Buy Snow Day at Amazon
 
Buy Snow Day at Amazon
 
Buy Snow Day at Audible
 
Buy Snow Day at iTunes
 
 
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Dan MaurerABOUT DAN MAURER

Dan Maurer is an independent author, publisher, theater producer, director, and digital marketer. He is also a proud member of International Thriller Writers, Inc. and the Horror Writers Association. Throughout his career in publishing and marketing, he has been involved in the publication of bestselling titles such as John Grisham’s The Firm, Richard Price’s Clockers, and Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger’s Lost Moon, which became the film Apollo 13. As a digital marker, he has supported popular publishing brands including Curious George, Peterson Field Guides, and The Polar Express. He has also developed marketing strategies for many corporations, including Citizen, Dun & Bradstreet, RCN and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Dan is a member of an acclaimed New Jersey-based theater company and has won awards for his producing, directing and sound design. He lives with his wife and their daughter in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

An Excerpt from Snow Day: a Novella by Dan Maurer
Copyright © 2013 by Dan Maurer. All rights reserved.
Prologue
January, 1975
     Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
 
”Hello?”
 
My voice was cautious as I called into the darkness. It wasn’t my house and I had no business being down in that cellar. By the look of the boards on the windows upstairs, and the weeds that strangled the front yard, it hadn’t been anyone’s house for a long time. But still, even at ten, I knew in my bones that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.
 
One of the windows was busted at the corner, and the cold wind whipped and whistled at the breach. Outside, a loose metal trash can rolled and rattled and knocked about with each new gust. It made a soft, distant sound.
 
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
 
The only light was an old Coleman lantern that I found there. It lay at my feet, the mantle fading and sputtering. Beyond the meager glow that lit no more than my boot-tops, it gave me the terrifying certainty that someone was here, or close by, and would soon —
Was that a sound? I held my breath and listened carefully, trying hard to dismiss the pounding pulse that thrummed in my ears. Was that a shuffling sound, maybe feet moving and scraping across loose dirt?
 
“Hello…? Anyone here…?”
 
I squinted hard but it was useless. The darkness was unyielding and oddly thick with the smell of freshly turned earth. Someone had been digging down here.
 
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
 
Running into the house to hide from the police was my only option. The place should have been empty, long abandoned. But it wasn’t, and I knew now that I had to get out. I turned to leave, to run; and then I heard it, a word from the darkness. It was whispered and pitiful and — it was my name. Someone in the darkness called my name.
 
”B-Billy?”
 
”Who’s there?” I called out.
 
”I…I…didn’t d-do nothing wr-wrong, Billy.”
 
Both the voice and its stutter were familiar. Just hearing it made my guts twist.
 
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
 
I snatched up the lantern at my feet, recalled my scout training, and worked the pump to pressurize the kerosene. The lantern’s mantle hissed a bit, burned a little brighter, and pushed back the darkness.
 
”Holy shit…”
 
The light washed over a young boy. Like me, he was just ten, and I knew his name.
 
”…Tommy?”
 
It came out like a question, but it wasn’t. Tommy Schneider lived next door to me and was part of our snowball fight just a few hours before.
 
When the light touched him, Tommy flinched and turned his shoulder, as if anticipating a blow. He shivered and folded his arms across his chest, hands tucked in his armpits. He paced and shuffled his feet in a small circle, as if his bladder was painfully full, and he whined and muttered; half to himself, half to me.
 
“It w-wasn’t m-my fault, Billy. I…I just w-wanted to play.” His eyes were swollen and red, and the tears ran streaks through the dirt on his freckled face.
 
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
 
“Tommy, what the hell are you doing down here?”
 
”I..I…I’m sorry, b-but I d-didn’t do nothing wrong, Billy. I’m s-sorry.”
 
He kept his hands tucked under his armpits, but motioned with his chin. And that’s when I saw it, just a few feet from where I stood.
Naked and half buried in a pile of loose earth lay the dead body of a boy that appeared to be our own age.
 
”Jesus Christ…what the hell, Tommy.”
 
”No….” His whining grew and fresh tears were coming.
 
”What the hell did you do?”
 
”Nooo…” he whined more and covered his ears. “I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
 
Frantic now, I held out the fading lantern, quickly looking around. We were still alone. The scene before me was unfathomable.
In the half-shadows of the cellar where the lantern struggled to reach, there was a pile of fresh, moist earth and broken shards of concrete. I saw some tools – a sledgehammer and a shovel, and I think a pickax, too. A few brown sacks of cement mix were piled against the wall. And there was a large hole; a gaping wound in the cellar floor that reached beneath the foundation of the house, a hole that led down into a place where the lantern’s light could not touch. Nearby, a stray boot lay in the dirt, just beyond it a gym sock, and another lay close by my feet. A faded, wadded up pair of jeans was perched at the edge of the hole.
 
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
 
I shivered, despite my layers of clothing and new winter coat. Tommy was freezing. He wore only jeans and a t-shirt pulled over a long-sleeved sweatshirt. His breath, like mine, fogged in the January air, and his jaw waggled helplessly from his shivering.

 
“Who’s that?” I asked, pointing to the body.
 
At first, Tommy’s eyes followed my finger, but then he just moaned and cried some more, and turned away.
 
I couldn’t tell if the boy on the ground was from our immediate neighborhood, or my school, or Boy Scout troop, or baseball team. It was difficult to discern much about him at all. He lay on his belly in a pile of dirt, and the loose earth covering his face and parts of his torso were, it seemed, tossed on him carelessly by whoever dug the hole. The backs of his pale white thighs glowed in the lantern’s light. The only stitch of clothing left on him was a pair of white Fruit of the Loom jockeys tangled around one ankle.
 
I picked up one of the gym socks from the ground, pinched it into a ball and held it with the tips of my fingers. Kneeling beside the dead boy’s head, I held the lantern close with one hand and used the sock to brush the dirt from his face with the other. Like a fossil being unearthed by an archeologist, the truth came slowly. As the seconds passed, the light and each stroke of my hand brought broken, bloodied and indecipherable features into sharp focus. But the crushed and jellied eyeball put me over the edge.
 
I jerked back from the body.
 
”Oh, God! Tommy, what — “
 
My stomach lurched.
 
I dropped the lantern and fell backward onto the ground. Turning and scrambling away on hands and knees, I found a corner and began to wretch. My back arched and my body convulsed uncontrollably. It was the Coney Island Cyclone all over again, but this time nothing came up, only thin strands of bile dripped from my mouth and down my lips.
 
In time, the convulsions faded. I finally rolled over and just sat there, looking at Tommy, wiping the spittle from my lips with the back of a shaky hand. My head throbbed and my mind was fuzzy. No words would come.
 
The wind howled through the broken cellar window again. Outside, the passing cars made a distant shushing sound as they crept along Woodlawn Avenue, tires rolling through the snow and slush. My heaving, stinking breath clouded in the cold air, and Tommy just cried.
 
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
 
I was ten years old and had just seen my very first real dead body – still and soulless, and battered beyond recognition – lying on the floor of a cold, dark cellar of an abandoned house. What the hell did I get myself into?
 
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
 
Staggering to my feet, I picked up the lantern and held it out.
 
”Tommy… who did this?” My throat was dry and pained.
 
Just as the words passed my lips, something in my mind and in my ears opened up – popped open, really, like in the cabin of an airliner during descent. That sound.
 
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
 
It was different. It was continuous. It wasn’t the rattling trash can anymore. The sound came from a distance but it was there, and it was distinctive. I knew exactly who was standing impatiently, hip cocked and jaw set, banging on the lip of a dinner bell with her soup ladle.
 
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
 
Tommy looked at me. He heard it too and knew what it meant.
 
”Your Ma’s calling, Billy.”
 
”Who, Tommy?”
 
”I…I…didn’t d-do nothing wr-wrong, Billy,” Tommy whined. “I just w-wanted to play.”
 
”Tommy…”
 
”It was ol’ George,” he finally said. “He did it. Stay away from ol’ George.” And then he started to cry again, whimpering. “I just wanted to play,” he mumbled through the tears. ‘ …just wanted to play…”
 
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…Clang, clang
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Pump Up Your Book and Dan Maurer are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

Here's how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn't set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries.
 
This promotion will run from July 1 - September 27. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 28, 2013.
 
Each blogger who participates in the Snow Day virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win.
 
Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.
 
If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at)gmail.com.  What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Snow Day Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

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JULY
Wednesday, July 3 – Book reviewed at Midnight Thrillers
Wednesday, July 3 – Book featured at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
Wednesday, July 3 – 1st chapter reveal at Rainy Day Reviews
Thursday, July 4 – Book reviewed at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Thursday, July 4 – Guest blogging at Midnight Thrillers
Friday, July 5 – Book featured at Mom with a Kindle
Saturday, July 6 – Guest blogging at Rainy Day Reviews
Saturday, July 6 – 1st chapter reveal at Parenting 2.0
Sunday, July 7 – 1st chapter reveal at Inside BJ’s Head
Sunday, July 7 – Book featured at Margay Leah Justice
Sunday, July 7 – Guest blogging at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Wednesday, July 10 – 1st chapter reveal at Read 2 Review
Friday, July 12 – 1st chapter reveal at Book Him Danno
Sunday, July 14 – Interviewed at Review From Here
Thursday, July 18 – Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book
Friday, July 19 – Book reviewed at Sarah’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, July 24 – Book featured at Parenting 2.o
Wednesday, July 24 – Book featured at Books R Us
Thursday, July 25 – Book featured at My Cozie Corner
Saturday, July 27 – Interviewed at Broowaha
Monday, August 5 - Book reviewed at The Road to Here
Tuesday, August 6 - Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Tuesday, August 6 - Book featured at Naturally Kim B
Wednesday, August 7 - Book reviewed and 1st chapter reveal at Thoughts in Progress
Thursday, August 8 - Book reviewed at Bookingly Yours
Friday, August 9 - Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz
Monday, August 12 - Guest blogging at Janna Shay
Tuesday, August 13 - Guest blogging at Straight From the Authors Mouth
Wednesday, August 14 - Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Friday, August 16 - Book reviewed at Miki's Hope
Monday, August 19 - 1st chapter reveal at As the Pages Turn
Thursday, August 22 - Interviewed at Examiner
Monday, August 26 - Book reviewed at Gina's Library
Tuesday, August 27 - Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Wednesday, August 28 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Friday, August 30 - Interviewed at I'm Shelfish
Monday, September 2 - Book reviewed at Emeraldfire's Bookmark
Wednesday, September 4 - Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Friday, September 6 - Book reviewed at Mary's Cup of Tea
Monday, September 9 - Book review and 1st chapter reveal at Laurie Here
Wednesday, September 11 - Guest blogging at Between the Covers
Thursday, September 12 - Book review and Guest blogging at From the TBR Pile
Monday, September 16 - Book review and Guest blogging at Cindy's Love of Books
Tuesday, September 17 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Wednesday, September 18 - Guest blogging at Allvoices
Thursday, September 19 - Book reviewed at My Book Retreat
Monday, September 23 - 1st chapter reveal at Literary Winner
Thursday, September 26 - Book review and Guest blogging at Cheryl's Book Nook
Friday, September 27 -Book reviewed at The Self Taught Cook
Friday, September 27 - Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty

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