MORE Christmas Terror Tales on Sale NOW!

Available NOW in paperback & Kindle!

Available NOW in paperback & Kindle!

7-30-2016– Author Kevin M. Folliard’s new compilation MORE Christmas Terror Tales: Spine-Tingling Holiday Chillers is now available in paperback and Kindle for scary story fans 12 and up!

The Grim Reaper is making a list and checking it twice, because terrible surprises lurk in the winter wonderland! Strange creatures hide in brown paper packages. Twin sisters hold tickets to a treacherous train ride. And mischievous elves stalk unsuspecting fishermen to pull them under the frozen surface of Mirror Lake.

All season long, these tales of foreboding bargains, creepy cryptids, and sinister stocking stuffers will frighten and delight horror fans of all ages!

Bone-chilling illustrations by Chicago area artist J.T. Molloy enhance each story, bringing snakes, monsters, and alien critters to the page with sinister style.

MORE Christmas Terror Tales: Spine-Tingling Holiday Chillers is sold for $5.50 in paperback and $2.99 for Kindle. Preview pages are available through Amazon’s “search inside” feature, and more information is available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland fiction writer with a degree in English and creative writing from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. His published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels for 12 and up such as Jake Carter & the Nightmare Gallery, Violet Black & the Curse of Camp Coldwater, and Jimmy Chimaera & the Temple of Champions.

Folliard’s work has been collected in Sanitarium Magazine, as well as anthologies by Nosetouch Press and Black Bed Sheet Books. He has also developed films and web series for the Champaign based studio Neon Harbor, including the acclaimed videogame parody “Press Start” series.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: J.T. Molloy is a Chicago area artist and post production editor.  Recent works include artwork for Valentine Terror Tales and Jimmy Chimaera & the Temple of Champions. Molloy writes and illustrates his action adventure graphic novel The Sapphire Spectre, and he is also a filmmaker with the Chicago sketch group Kick A Rock (

Kevin M. Folliard
Kmfollia AT Gmail DOT com

Kevin Folliard’s Books on Amazon:
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Wrong Coat Reading at the Brookfield Library

WrongCoatPlease join the myself and my fellow authors from the La Grange and Brookfield Writers Groups for readings from our “Wrong Coat” anthology on Tuesday, 7-12-2016 at 7PM at the Brookfield Library! Info below:

“The Wrong Coat” anthology 
Tues., July 12, at 7 p.m. at Brookfield Library

“Our coats are quiet, obedient servants, reliably there for us when we need them . . . until they’re not. Learn what can happen when the wrong coat meets the wrong person. It could happen to you.”

Local authors will present a reading from a paperback collection of their fiction works, “The Wrong Coat: an anthology by the Brookfield and La Grange Writers Group,” Tues., July 12, at 7 p.m. at Brookfield Library, 3609 Grand Blvd, Brookfield, IL 60513. For more information, or to register to attend, contact the Brookfield Public Library at 708-485-6917 or visit

You can also check out The Wrong Coat Anthology on Amazon in paperback or Kindle:

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Christmas in July: Kindle Giveaways!

terrortalescoverHappy 4th of July! In honor of Independence Day, I have 2 FREE Kindle titles to share from 7-4 through 7-8:

Please share and enjoy! Exciting new titles and stories are on the horizon as well! Enjoy your summer!

Author Website:
Amazon Purchase Links:
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Angry Geeks VS: Best. Simpsons. Ever!

DOH! Forgot to plug my Angry Geeks Vs. guest spot sooner!

DOH! Forgot to plug my Angry Geeks Vs. guest spot sooner!

Attention fans of film, comic books, TV shows, pop culture and especially The Simpsons!

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the Angry Geeks Vs. podcast! You can hear us talk about recent developments in pop culture as well as our undying love for the Golden Age of The Simpsons in the following episodes:

I think we have an especially awesome rundown of the greatest episodes of The Simpsons ever that you don’t want to miss!

You can also keep up with D-Rod and Milhouse’s always insightful rants and observations about geek culture and cool stuff on FB and Twitter as well!angrygeeks

Angry Geeks Vs. on Facebook:

Angry Geeks Vs. on Twitter:

Angry Geeks Vs. on iTunes:


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Christmas Terror Tales: “Below” is Going Away!

Last call for CTT "Below!" (For now . . .)

Last call for CTT “Below!” (For now . . .)

Thanks to everyone who has checked out my Kindle exclusive story “Christmas Terror Tales Presents: “Below!” This was a really fun story that Kindle gave a great home to. However, in early May it’s going to melt away with the snow.

Okay! Actually, “Below” is just going into cryogenic suspension for a bit. You see, I always intended to make this story a fun Kindle exclusive experiment, and then some day include it in a paperback collection. Well that day is fast approaching! With my upcoming publication of More Christmas Terror Tales, “Below” will finally find its way into old school print, and eventually back to Kindle with a slew of NEW stories!

Until then, I wanted to give readers ONE last chance to read this novella for FREE from May 2nd – May 6th. Get it here while you can:

And in case you were wondering: I do have more FREE Kindle giveaways scheduled for end of the school year this May! Gear up for summer reading:


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The Dreaded Chapter One!

inkwellGiven how tough it is to write “the perfect chapter one,” no wonder so many people talk about writing a novel, and never do it.

You may have seen articles championing the dos, don’ts, and cardinal sins of chapter one. But read a stack of best sellers, and you’ll find a slew of “sinners” who made tons of money.

Forget about perfection. There’s no chapter one that will please every agent, publisher, or reader. And when starting a Herculean project like writing a book, perfection is your enemy.

Think in terms of what you want to accomplish, not what you’re terrified of doing wrong, and you’ll end up with a solid draft of chapter one that you can keep improving.

Here’s a checklist to help you roll up your sleeves and draft the dreaded chapter one:

1.) Write a Killer First Sentence: Sentence one is like that opening shot in a great film. Purposeful “linguistic cinematography” is necessary to impress the audience.

Again, sentence one doesn’t have to be completely perfect at this stage, but even in draft form, this sentence should intrigue or inspire. Ideally sentence one resonates with something central to character, setting, or plot.

Check out this opening sentence from Max Brooks’s World War Z:

As if the title wasn't a good enough opening sentence.

As if the title wasn’t a good enough opening sentence.

“The first outbreak I saw was in a remote village that officially had no name.”

On the surface, this sentence might not seem masterful or poetic like Dickens’ famous openers, but we’ve got a place and we’ve got a problem. There’s a sense of dread and impending doom. A feeling of isolation. A mystery brewing. That’s a sentence that launches a blockbuster zombie apocalypse!

Don’t overthink your first sentence. Just use that opportunity to tell the reader a concrete, meaningful idea about the person, place, or situation at hand. Your opening sentence should gel with the whole hook of where you start your story. It can be action, description, a simple fact, or even a line of dialogue; but it needs to really matter.

2.) Appeal Your Character: In spite of what some will say, it’s often okay if the POV or focal character of chapter one isn’t necessarily your main character. Just know why you’re starting with that character and give that character something to do that matters.

The title of Blake Snyder’s excellent screenwriting book Save the Cat refers to a moment early in the screenplay where the protagonist should do something the audience can respect. That thing doesn’t actually have to be saving a cat, but we need a reason to care about these people (good or bad).

I’ve published three novels and had a different approaches to the POV character in all three openings:

Make Us Love Your Hero: My horror adventure Violet Black and the Curse of Camp Coldwater opens with 13-year-old paranormal investigator Violet intervening when she sees a peer being bullied. The reader knows right away that we have a hero who goes out of her way to do the right thing.

It’s like when Steve Rogers stands up to that disrespectful movie-goer, before he gets his super solider serum, at the beginning of Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve is a good guy! He stands up for what’s right, even if he’s going to get beat up for it.

He's not Captain America yet, but we know he'll get there because he's trying.

He’s not Captain America yet, but we know he’ll get there because he’s trying.

Make Us Respect a Supporting Character: In chapter one of my book Jimmy Chimaera & the Temple of Champions, we meet a heroic spider named, putting his life on Spiderthe line (literally) to complete his mission. Counselor Speck isn’t the central main character, but he will become Jimmy’s mentor, and the audience can respect his determination for being an underdog. A (literal) little guy in a big world of high stakes challenges. As a bonus, starting with a spider’s POV immediately informs the reader that they’re about to read a book with an extraordinary world of fantastic possibilities.

You may recall that the Harry Potter series doesn’t exactly open with the title character. It opens with Harry’s future mentors begrudgingly leaving him in the care of his rotten relatives—where he will be safe. You learn how important Harry is through how much these Hogwarts teachers care about him.

Make Us Hate Your Villain: Chapter one of my fantasy adventure Jake Carter & the Nightmare Gallery is told from the POV of a boy being pursued and punished by the Dr. Shadestory’s villains. We get a sense of just how nasty the bad guy is, and what this could mean for the main character we’re about to meet in chapter 2.

Remember the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds where Col. Hans “Jew Hunter” Landa (Christoph Waltz) chit-chats, enjoys a glass of milk, and prepares to exterminate the innocents under the floor boards? Pay attention to how many great movies open with the villain doing something evil. It works in books too!

Not every chapter one character needs to be heroic, or even the main character, but they should have appeal. Can you make us pity or fear an important character? Compassion and respect come in strange packages sometimes. Give the reader cause to invest.

3.) Lay Some Groundwork: Avoid an info dump, but allow important backstory to start trickling in.

Chapter one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is downright instructional, but in a charming, fun way. We learn a lot about what a Hobbit is and where they live. We learn a bit about wizards, dwarves, and the game of golf, but not everything. Middle Earth is a big place, and Tolkien probably didn’t even realize how big when he first wrote this chapter, but he gives a hearty dose of history and context, enough fuel to get us through the beginning of this journey.

4.) Set the Plot in Motion: It’s best to end every chapter with a hook that drives the reader into the next chapter, but it’s especially important to give the reader enough drama and conflict in chapter one to make them want to read the next twenty, forty, or fifty chapters. Make the stakes clear and compelling.

Even if the reader has yet to discover the major conflict of the whole story, there should be an immediate BIG problem, goal, or mystery the reader cannot turn away from. Ideally that situation will only get more sticky, convoluted, and complex with each chapter for many chapters to come; but for now, just set things in motion.

If the first domino hasn’t fallen by the end of chapter 1, you might need to start your novel with chapter 2 instead.

Kids + Gods + Monsters = Conflict!

Kids + Gods + Monsters = Conflict!

In his middle grade mythology-inspired series (Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, et al.), Rick Riordan uses opening chapters to endear the reader to a charming, admirable teen protagonist. He then swiftly suggests a mystery about the hero’s origins. (Could this kid’s parent be an ancient deity?) And then by the end of the chapter, a vicious mythological beast shows up and threatens to kill the poor kid. Chapter two is guaranteed to be an epic battle between a teenage demi-god and a blood-thirsty monster. Who wouldn’t keep reading?

Of course every novel is unique. Your chapter one might break or bend some of those rules, just know why you have to do what you have to do, and don’t sweat perfection.

At least, not until you finish the epilogue and look back.

Connect with Kevin M. Folliard on . . .

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3 NEW Stories in 3 Great Anthologies!

Story Watch: Don't miss these latest publication!

Story Watch: Don’t miss these latest publication!

Since Facebook’s algorithms work so hard to hold my posts’ exposure hostage for ad money, I thought I’d round up a quick reminder of my recent 2016 publications! You can read these exclusive stories in these awesome books!

The Wrong Coat: An Anthology by the Brookfield and La Grange Writers Group:

The Wrong Coat features a wide variety of stories, plays, poems, and essays revolving around themes of mix-ups and misunderstandings. This collection features my latest Christmas Terror Tale “Polar Bound,” about twin sisters seeking uncertain passage to the North Pole.

Black Bed Sheet Books’ Bumps in the Road anthology:

A spine-tingling horror collection revolving around the theme of travel! In my scary story “Ink,” a weary road-tripping divorcee struggles against the influence of two unsavory, black-eyed children who he encounters in the dead of night, just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Nosetouch Press’s Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales

A collection featuring 30 spellbinding stories of witches, with a wide variety of tones, themes, characters, and genres. My story “Hour of the Owl” is about a mother’s unconditional love struggling against both the figurative and literal dark forces which have fractured her family.

BONUS: Did you miss my 2015 scary story “Late Night Snack” featured in Sanitarium issue #35? You can still get that one right here!

WrongCoat BumpsRoad2016cover WaxWaneCover sanitarium35

The Wrong Coat Anthology:

Bumps in the Road:

Wax & Wane:

Sanitarium #35 Kindle:
Sanitarium #35 Paperback:

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Decoding Reader Feedback

Writer = Grill Master

Writer = Grill Master

There’s no shortcut to slow-cooking ribs, and writing is the same.

Revision takes time, but that “fall-off-the-bone” end result is worth it.

Every story needs a test audience. The key to making the most of reader feedback is: Don’t be in a hurry.


First, exhaust your own ability to critique and revise. Polish that piece as much as possible.

Readers can’t focus on problems that eluded you if they are struggling to understand the plot or distracted by grammar and mechanics.

Draft. Revise. Let Sit. Revise. Let Sit. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread . . . and THEN seek feedback. You won’t get valuable insights until you weed out issues you can catch yourself.


When you first receive feedback, be completely open. Listen. Don’t speak.

Your story must speak for itself, so don’t waste energy explaining it. When you’re defensive, you’re not listening to what worked or didn’t work. Even odd suggestions still indicate points of disconnect that you need to know about.

Once your reader(s) are done sharing their thoughts, feel free to ask questions and seek clarification. When getting verbal feedback, take notes about everything you’re hearing.


Your reaction to feedback may be defensive, celebratory, or in between. But just like when

At first, the writer must be a zen sponge in an ocean of ideas. Absorb now. Accept or reject later.

At first, the writer must be a zen sponge in an ocean of ideas. Absorb now. Accept or reject later.

you get into an argument, a day goes by and you realize, “Hey, he/she had a point!” Time turns anger into insight. Pride into caution.

You should neither accept nor reject criticism right after you receive it. Unless the changes are purely typographical and cosmetic, put revisions on hold for at least twenty-four hours. If you have the luxury, wait a week, or longer.

Give your brain time to concoct new ideas that spawn from reader insights.


Many changes are no-brainers. If something confused the reader and there’s a fix that doesn’t alter your beloved story or characters: by all means fix it!

Other changes will be murkier, and at times overwhelming. Hopefully, you’ve chosen your test audience for a reason. You trust their impressions, but you know their tastes well enough to account for personal preferences that need not define your story.

Don’t over-complicate your decision-making process. Know your story, know your audience, and let that knowledge drive the advice you accept or reject.

If a majority of your readers had a problem, something’s gotta change! You don’t have to use any one suggestion, but you have to find the common denominator issue and fix it. For example, if almost everyone found it unrealistic that Grandma suddenly knew martial arts in the climax, you don’t have to give Granny a gun like one reader suggested, but at least start dropping clues that she’s a black belt in Act One.

If a minority, or even just one reader, had a very specific problem: You STILL have to carefully consider that impression. Just know that you cannot please everyone. If you step back and think about the problem your test reader had, you can usually tell when it’s a matter of personal taste.

In some cases, your test reader just wanted to read a different story. Or your character reminded them of someone they hate. Smile, nod, and thank that reader for the idea, but you don’t have to change your story over one sour impression.

However, if that one random gripe persistently gnaws at your brain stem, guess what? Maybe you agree with that person.

I’ve frequently made worthwhile changes based on one lone insight. In particular, listen to readers who have a better perspective than you on your story’s character or situation. When writing about an ice fisherman, I trusted the knowledge of an outdoorsman. When writing about thirteen-year-old Violet Black, I trusted female readers, having never been a thirteen-year-old girl myself.

The opposite is true too. Don’t let a “civilian” inform you about something that you are an expert on. Some people are “know-it-alls.” If your test reader thought Doctor So-and-So “wasn’t being very realistic” when he neglected to wash his hands, but as an OR Nurse, you’ve seen worse, then trust your own experience and authority.

What about when half your readers love something and half hate it. Stephen King has great advice on split feedback from his book On Writing:

“In baseball, tie goes to the runner; for novelists, it goes to the writer.”

You make the call! If you like the story as written, awesome! If you’re worried about the

The King says: Tie Goes to the Writer!

The King says: Tie Goes to the Writer!

haters, though, you can compromise. Don’t throw away a character, plot point, or image that half your readers loved, but do modify, add, or enhance those elements based on the criticism.

For my novel Jake Carter & the Nightmare Gallery, I had a handful of readers who didn’t understand my villain’s motivations. I also had a majority of readers who loved the insidious Dr. Shade and found him to be a psychologically complex brand of evil.

While I personally felt I had a great villain, the criticism still prompted me to rewrite a few chapters. In the end, I was happier that I brought out more of what made my bad guy tick. The readers who didn’t like the character would still probably be underwhelmed, but the readers I had already won over were only going to like it more.


You’ve received, absorbed, and applied feedback. Now what? Chances are, you’ll feel one of three ways:

  • Satisfied: You’re confident enough to put finishing touches on this story, shop it around, or do whatever you do with stories labeled “Done!”
  • Uncertain: You’ve made great changes, but your gut says something’s still not right. Get some more feedback! Back to phase 1!
  • Vexed: Your story isn’t ready to be published. But nor is it necessarily ready for more feedback because you haven’t fixed everything you know is wrong. Sometimes the best thing to do is put a draft like this in suspension. Let it sit in a drawer (or hard drive) for a few months while you develop other projects.

You never know when you’ll eventually stumble upon the solution for that dormant project!

Connect with Kevin M. Folliard on . . .

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The Wrong Coat Anthology on Sale NOW!

WrongCoatA while back, my writers group posed an interesting prompt for its members: write a story, poem, play, or essay about a character who accidentally grabs the wrong coat by mistake. Today we’re proud to present:

The Wrong Coat: an anthology by the Brookfield and La Grange Writers Group

“Our coats are quiet, obedient servants, reliably there for us when we need them . . . until they’re not. What happens when, either by accident or design, we find ourselves in possession of the wrong coat? Eighteen writers answer this question through short fiction, poetry, or memoir. Within these pages are ordinary people whose wrong coat affects their lives in surprising, sometimes life-changing ways. Their journeys are poignant, funny, sometimes chilling. The eighteen writers in this anthology explore how wrong coats can become instructive or vindictive when they’ve left their rightful owners. Learn what can happen when the wrong coat meets the wrong person. It could happen to you.”

In my scary story “Polar Bound,” twins Emma and Alice are about to board a magical train to tour Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, but a secret between sisters provides an express pass to a far more sinister place.

The Wrong Coat is a really cool collection with a wide variety of local writers all putting their unique spins on this theme of misunderstanding, so be sure to check it out!

Purchase on Amazon:

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Discover (Don’t Invent) Your Story’s Theme!

The right theme has that glass slipper fit!

The right theme has that glass slipper fit!

Like actors struggling to find their motivation, writers fret over theme:

“What does this story mean?” “Why is it relevant?”

“What’s the gosh-darned moral?”

Here’s a secret that most writers don’t admit:

“Theme is NO BIG DEAL!”

But wait! Aren’t we taught that the meaning of a story is the most important part? Isn’t a story without thematic value essentially pointless?

To clarify: theme matters, but it’s not something to stress about. As long as you write a realistic story with authentic characters and circumstances, a natural, organic theme will arise.

That’s because real life is full of meaning, and your characters’ actions should represent believable desires, behaviors, and impulses. As a result, any worthwhile story has at least one important theme built in.

There are two approaches to theme:

1.) Start with a story idea; discover the theme LATER: Just like in real life, hindsight is 20-20. You don’t learn a life lesson until it’s over. You don’t understand why you and your spouse had that argument until the next day. Your father’s sage words of advice didn’t make sense until you turned 35. Theme does not need to be figured out ahead of time. It’s waiting to be discovered in the story, like buried treasure.

2.) Choose a Theme and Build the Story Around It: Not impossible, but potentially dangerous. Fiction written to serve a preconceived idea can be preachy, predictable, or self-serving. When characters and events become mouthpieces for the writer’s point, reader will not be invested. If you must start with theme, be careful to develop the events that fit that theme organically and avoid creating “writer propaganda.”

Themes can be as complex as the people, places, and things an author writes about. There’s no limit to the important ideas that form in your writing, but the following list suggests the kinds of themes you might discover:

  • The impacts of emotions
  • Dynamics of relationships
  • Relationships with God/nature/the universe
  • Man vs. the elements (or magical/sci-fi forces!)
  • Relationships to culture/country/society
  • Physical or mental health (sickness, vitality, virility, substance abuse, sexuality, etc.)

Your story may fall into one or more of those categories, and the theme you discover might even defy classification! Check out these familiar examples:

  • Cinderella: An innocent girl is forced to dress in rags and do chores for her nasty stepmother and stepsisters, until her fairy godmother gives her a makeover and sets her up with a handsome prince. Theme: Social/Karmic Justice
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A young boy adventures down the
    Huck didn't know what he was doing when he headed downriver. He figured it out on the way!

    Huck didn’t know what he was doing when he headed downriver. He figured it out on the way!

    Mississippi River with his friend Jim in the pre-Civil War American South. Theme(s): The relationship between race and identity in an oppressive culture. The social and moral hypocrisy of cultural expectations. The wisdom inherent in innocent people.

  • A Game of Thrones: In a fantasy world, the newly appointed Hand of the King uncovers conspiracies, corruption, and hypocrisy as he attempts to serve the realm justly and honestly. Theme(s): The Burden of Authority, Moral Ambiguity and Social Darwinism, Corruption, Bonds of Family, The Impacts of Clashing Religious Beliefs, The Futility of Control (And a LOT more!)

Notice how short, snappy tales tend to have one main overarching theme, while longer, more complex works usually have many themes that are intertwined (kinda like real life!)

Once you discover an interesting idea, concept, message, moral, or reality that your story is representing, bring it out more in future drafts. You don’t want to hit theme too hard on the head. You want the readers to discover it in that same “A-HA!” way that you did.

Connect with Kevin M. Folliard on . . .

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