Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bonnie Morgan Crawls into our Nightmares, an Interview

Actress Bonnie Morgan scares her way out of screens and into our hearts. Or perhaps into our nightmares.

Horror fans enjoy reminiscing about the first films and scenes that scared them. Maybe it was Pennywise peering through the street gutter, or the white face of Michael Myers appearing in the dark. In 2005, Bonnie Morgan scared a generation of fans as Samara chasing Naomi Watts’ character with her infamous “spider crawl” in The Ring Two.  Now, a decade later, Samara is back in Rings, and Bonnie Morgan plays the role in its entirety, bringing back the crawl that made the character epically frightening—no CGI required. Contortionism is one of Bonnie Morgan’s specialties.

“Buckle in for the ride. Samara is here to stay. She never sleeps. The first sequence will terrify you,” Bonnie told me. I had the honor of speaking directly to Bonnie to get the inside scoop on Rings, learn about other upcoming projects, and received some inspiring advice for making it in Hollywood.

“I’ve played many scary monsters, but Samara has been my favorite to create. I enjoy doing terrifying more than anything else. Samara is near and dear to my black little heart,” Bonnie states.

As a little girl, Bonnie loved to scare her sister and her sister’s friends. Bonnie would pop out from behind the couch and laugh as the other kids screamed in fright. They called her “Gollum” because of the way she could creep and crawl. Bonnie’s the daughter of third-generation circus performers and is also a trained stunt-actress. She’s deeply connected in the horror genre, too. Her father famously played the stunt-double to Cujo, and her aunt was Jason Vorhees’ first victim.

From scaring her sister to scaring the world, Bonnie delivers terrifying like no one else. In a Rings prank, the actress played Samara in a department store and crawled out of a television display to scare unknowing costumers—the video went viral and had over 200 million views in less than 24 hours. She’s also known for the possessed Rosa in The Devil Inside.  Every part of Rosa—vocals, spasms, twists and turns—is played by Morgan. It’s a great role to watch to see her diverse talent.

Her acting career started early—she was an Oscar Meyer Weiner kid and had roles in several favorite shows from the 90s, like Quantum Leap, Blossom, Step by Step, and Dr. Quinn.

But the turning point, Morgan told me, was her role as a Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “It was that movie where I played and created innovative movement,” she says. The live-action movie with Jim Carrey as the Grinch and Ron Howard as the director got her noticed by lots of other Hollywood stars.

When you get the amazing opportunities that she’s had, Bonnie says, “Make yourself invaluable. Be ready. Train hard. Work hard. Find people to train with. Ask who they train with. Have a specialty. Pitch in and help out, and always do what makes you happy.” On the phone, Bonnie’s enthusiasm is as powerful as Samara is scary. Her love for her work and fans is genuine, and it’s easy to tell that she’s someone who goes above and beyond.

“It takes six and a half hours to get into Samara’s make-up,” she says. “I’m at the studio by 4:00 a.m. or earlier. In total, I wear 43 appliances.” Her legs, arms, neck, chest—every part is covered to bring Samara to life. She’s also hooked up to hoses because Samara is always weeping—she’s the girl in the well, after all. In addition to the 43 individual pieces and attached hoses, she’s covered in paint and gels. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to make Samara genuinely terrifying.

Morgan’s evolution becoming Samara is now a legendary story. The director, Hideo Nakato, originally wanted to go with CG. The stunt coordinator, though, had a better idea and contacted Morgan. That’s when Morgan created the spider walk. “Real is always more scary.” The spider walk originated on her living room floor, and when the director saw Morgan’s work, she was hired to create the spider crawl for The Ring Two. Now, she not only plays Samara in Rings, but she’s also the inspiration behind possession movies using contortionists instead of CGI to create more realistic and haunting movements. As a contortionist, she also holds a title in the Guinness Book of World Records for staying in a two by two box for nearly three minutes with two others. And after so many stunts and rolls, there is one only thing that scares her: being buried alive.

Morgan’s skills landed her parts in a variety of successful Hollywood projects. She’s had roles in Minority Report with Tom Cruise, a hilarious part in Piranha 3D—remember the victim eaten alive through the inner-tube? That’s Bonnie Morgan. In Men in Black II, she became known as Jabba the Butt—she’s the one with a head-like appliance placed on her rear. The list goes on and on with stunts and roles in films like Hellboy II, Fright Night, and Peter Pan, and television roles on hits like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, CSI, Criminal Minds, Castle, and more.

Morgan has a variety of new projects coming, too. In the spring, she’ll be on the small screen for Sundance’s Hap and Leonard, a “swamp noir,” she says. Among other things, “you have a gay black cowboy hunting down a murderer who is killing children,” Morgan says.

Additionally, Morgan is thrilled to have just joined a major sci-fi franchise overseas.  “I can’t tell you what it is yet, but it will be amazing.”

What’s Morgan’s favorite horror movies? If you don’t love her already, you will after her first response. “IT. I love Tim Curry. Also, Pet Semetery. That scared me because we had a pet cemetery near our house. I also love Killer Klowns from Outer Space, even if it’s not really scary.”

Rings opens in theaters February 3. Hap and Leonard season one is available now on Amazon, and season two premiers March 2 on Sundance TV.

Follow Bonnie on Facebook, Instagram, and be sure to check out her website and her IMDB page.

About the author:

Joe Chianakas is the author of Rabbit in Red, a horror trilogy. Rabbit in Red won best horror book of 2016. It was picked up by Horror Block and sent to thousands around the world. The second book, Burn the Rabbit, hit #1 on Amazon’s hot new horror releases and is available now. The trilogy concludes this fall with Bury the Rabbit. Follow Joe on Facebook or visit his webpage here

Readers will find a fun tribute to Samara in the book.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year Giveaways!

I promised that when Rabbit in Red received 100 ratings on Goodreads that we would do a giveaway as a thank you to all who have supported! Well, we're at 103 ratings as of today, so thank you! Every rating, add, and review helps reach new readers.

Well, I don't just want to do one contest. I want to do multiple contests! So, if you have fun with this and participate, I'll keep doing them (it's a great distraction from cold, gray winter skies, don't you think?).

Plus, I do have some new things coming your way to announce!

How many should we do? Hmmm . . . the number 666 is coming to mind. That's probably too many. Let's just start with just six.

Six contests, each with a different prize, each with a different but easy way to enter! I'll announce and update the blog as we go.


Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! You can use this to buy anything on Amazon, not just my books!

How to win: Share the Amazon link of my book with a comment as to what you thought about it or why people should get it. Tag my Facebook page in your post so I see it (this is my Facebook page link or just use @Chianakas): 

For each share, you will be entered to win. BONUS ENTRY: Add a review of Rabbit in Red and/or Burn the Rabbit on Amazon. You do NOT have had to purchase the book on Amazon to post a review, so if you got it somewhere else, you can still review it on Amazon. Just be sure to let me know you added a review-- post a message or comment on my Facebook page. Everyone will be entered into a random drawing.

Contest begins now, 11:30 a.m. CST, January 12. Contest ends Sunday night, 11:59 p.m. Winner announced on Monday, January 18, and contest #2 will be revealed then!


Win a $25.00 gift card to Etsy! See the details here


Thanks for the support!

Monday, December 26, 2016


A post-Christmas special is happening on Etsy right now. Might as well take advantage of it, especially if there's something you've been wanting.

Here's the message I received:

Between now and December 27, qualifying Etsy buyers who spend $50 in a single transaction with one shop will receive a $10 credit toward a future purchase on Etsy.

Now seems like a great time to get those signed copies of Rabbit in Red!

Here's what I have in my Etsy Shop (click this link to be taken directly to my Etsy page):

Rabbit in Red paperback, new cover, signed, $15.99
Burn the Rabbit paperback, signed, $15.99
T-shirts, $14.99 (I only have 4 small size shirts left, will restock soon)

Rabbit in Red original paperback (signed), $15.99 OR hardcover (signed), $24.99

NEW Nightmares (includes a never-seen-before preview of book 3!), signed, $9.99

So, head over to my Etsy shop today before the sale is over, stock up, and Etsy gives you a $10 shopping credit if you spend $50 or more.

Of course, you can always get my books wherever you want: 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Gift for Horror Fans

As Christmas quickly approaches, let me offer you a unique gift option for the horror fan in your life (or for yourself).

Rabbit in Red earned best horror book of 2016 by SIBA (Summer Indie Book Awards), and most recently was included in Horror Block as a special gift for thousands of horror fans around the world.

On Goodreads, it has over 80 reviews with an average over 4/5. On Amazon, it has over 70 reviews with a current average of 4.7/5.

It's been called the perfect book for horror movie lovers. In short, the book takes horror fans through a Willy Wonka journey where their favorite horror stories come to life!

The back-of-the-book blurb for Rabbit in Red

Here are special options to get a copy of this book-- including AUDIO, DIGITAL, and even SIGNED paperbacks!

Here's the cool thing about audio and digital copies: Maybe you're shopping last minute and need something NOW. Well, you can gift the audio or digital codes of the book!

1. Get the DIGITAL copy on Amazon for just $3.99 ($1 off the normal ebook price through the holidays).

2. Get the AUDIO book narrated by the awesome Fitz of Horror on Amazon, iTunes, or Audible. This is a perfect option for the horror movie lover in your life who may not like to read but would enjoy the story.

Those options above will allow you to get instant access to the book, and then you can send it to your friend or family member as a gift!

3. Get a signed paperback from our Etsy shop. This is a great deal, but please allow time to ship it to you.

4. Get paperbacks at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. (Note: Amazon told me "due to high demand, your paperback is currently out-of-stock, but we have ordered more and expect a shipment to arrive early this week." It may be best to order from B&N until that status changes.)

Perhaps they already have Rabbit in Red? The good news is that Burn the Rabbit, the second book in the series, is available now on e-book or paperback! Signed copies are also available from our Etsy shop.

So, take advantage of digital, audio, or paperback options and get the horror fan in your life a truly unique gift that will give them hours of enjoyment!

Follow the author on Facebook or visit his website to learn more!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CONTEST-- Win a Free Horror Block!

Horror Block is the coolest pop-culture mystery subscription box in the world, and in November, they included my book, Rabbit in Red. It's been awesome already connecting with so many new readers, and I'm honored to receive your messages and thrilled you've enjoyed the read.

What I didn't know is that Horror Block had planned on sending me a free box this month. I already subscribe, so I actually received two boxes.

That gave me an idea-- CONTEST TIME! I will give away a complete November 2016 Horror Block box to one person in the United States (just to save on shipping costs, sorry, international friends). 

First, take a look at what you will win:

This is over $60 worth of goodies including: an adult large ugly Christmas sweater Cthulu design on a t-shirt, a Krampus Christmas ornament, an awesome Gremlins Christmas snow globe, Freddy vs Jason cookie cutters, and my book, Rabbit in Red with the Horror Block exclusive cover. Plus, you get a copy of Rue Morgue magazine, too. That's six awesome items! FOR FREE!


I'm looking for people to post a review of the second book in the Rabbit in Red series, BURN THE RABBIT. You'll post a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads, then share it on social media and tag me, and you're entered! That's all it takes.

You don't have to write a book report, friends. Just write a couple of lines about what you enjoyed (assuming you enjoyed it, I hope!). Short, simple reviews are perfectly fine!

Haven't read it? Get a copy online or order the paperback now! Or swing by your favorite bookstore and ask them for it. The app, Tapas, has copies, too.

So, let me get more detailed and break it down for you. Follow these steps by the Wed, Dec 14 to be entered to win this amazing Horror Block!

1. WRITE a review of Burn the Rabbit on Amazon or Goodreads. Yes, you get TWO entries if you post your review on both platforms! If you've already posted a review, you can still be entered to win. Just skip to step 2!

(Note: To write a review on Goodreads, you need to view "desktop mode) or access it from a computer.)

2. SHARE your review online or at least make a PUBLIC status about the book and tag my Facebook page, Joe Chianakas, or my Twitter account. This is how I'll be notified that you posted a review!

3. You have from today (Tues, Dec 6) until Wed, Dec 14-- a full week to do this! I'll get the Horror Block in the mail on Thursday, Dec 15 in hopes that you get it by Christmas! WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE THURSDAY, DEC 15 in  the morning on my way to the post office!




My FACEBOOK PAGE-- be sure to LIKE this and TAG me when you share your review

My TWITTER handle-- in case you prefer Twitter, just tag me when you share your review

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fantasy Lovers, Welcome to Everly

Fantasy Lovers: Here’s a book for you!

I’d like to introduce you to Everly, the first book in a brand new series by author Meg Bonney.

Everly (Everly Series Book 1) by [Bonney, Meg]

I met Meg online about a year ago. She’s a pop culture blogger, primarily for the entertainment site Pure Fandom. Some of her work has been featured on Entertainment Weekly’s page! If you enjoy popular shows like Supernatural, This is Us, The Gilmore Girls, and more, then I’d encourage you to follow her on Facebook, here.

Pictured above: Author Meg Bonney

When her book Everly was released, I purchased a paperback.

So, what’s it about? Here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

Madison Rosewood is about to graduate and head off toward a big, bright future that any kid would kill for: a full ride on a track scholarship, the world's greatest best friend, and an aunt that has always provided for her. The problem? Madison just wants to find her birth parents, even if it costs her all of the above. 

When her Aunt Ruth is kidnapped, all of Madison's plans are put on hold. Guided by a mysterious stranger, Madison and her best friend follow Aunt Ruth's kidnappers through a portal into a hidden world called Everly. Traveling through fairy-lit caverns and towering oak forests, Madison quickly realizes that behind Everly's beauty is a world filled with treacherous magic, violent encounters, and shocking truths about her family.

There, armed only with an enchanted sword and a sharp tongue, she battles her way past deceptive witches and bounty hunters to attempt a dangerous rescue that changes both her and Everly's future forever.

I enjoyed the read, and if you like fantasy novels with strong female protagonists, then this is a book for you.

Madison “Mad Dash” Rosewood can’t wait to get out of high school. She may have broken records in track and field, but she doesn’t have any interest left in the sport. Something strange happens to Madison at the end of her senior year, and she finds out there’s a lot more to her past than she had known. She’s anxious to find her birth parents, but then she’s told they’ve passed away. That’s not quite the truth, though, either. In another world, one may be a powerful king and another a strong witch. There’s another dimension Madison discovers called Everly, where Magics as they’re called (people with special powers) have been imprisoned and are going to be executed by . . . well, you’ll see! It’s up to Madison with her new companion Ren and her best friend from our world Jason to stop them.

Madison is a humorous character, full of wit. Even with battle approaching, she can fire off fun one-liners and see the irony and humor in her life. There are twists and turns throughout the tale—are her friends and family truly on her side or has someone betrayed her? Not everything is at seems. Themes of loyalty, friendship, family, and betrayal are strong throughout the book. 

In each chapter, you’ll feel right by Madison’s side. The writing has a strong pace and good description. It turns out, without spoiling the end of the story, that there’s more to Madison’s destiny, of course. She prepares to deal with significantly stronger responsibilities—and tragedies, too.

If I had to make comparisons, I’d say the story starts out a bit like a teenage Bridge to Terabithia or Stranger Things—young, conflicted characters find another world, an alternate dimension. From there, it takes a Star Wars kind of motif, where the reader experiences not just a physical journey but a journey of self-discovery, too. Who is Madison (and the other characters), really? Who are her parents? What is her destiny?

Those questions keep the reader engaged throughout Bonney’s debut novel and what is sure to be a strong fantasy series. I look forward to the next installment, and I encourage you fantasy-lovers to give this one a chance!

Pick up a copy on Amazon, today!

About me:

Joe Chianakas is the author of the novel Rabbit in Red and is a professor of communication at Illinois Central College. Follow him on Facebook here

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Four Phoenixes Books

Four Phoenixes Publishing is proud to announce our holiday specials for our authors’ books. If you have a book-lover in your life, consider giving them one of these great selections.

CAT MOON by Jennifer L. Gadd

Cat Moon Final Cover.jpg

Emma has big problems. She has no family and no home. She wanders the streets of The Warren, scavenging for her next meal and trying to keep warm. Haunted by the memory of a mother she barely recalls, Emma dreams of being a part of a real family. She is helped in her search for belonging by an assortment of eccentric characters: a friendly shopkeeper and his cranky uncle, the nice woman who runs the local mission, a ditzy cat lady, and a good-natured prostitute with a drinking problem.

Her biggest obstacle, however, is that every full moon, she turns into a feral cat! Emma is one of the Were. She and those like her are ruthlessly hunted by the captain of the Were-Guard, whose religious zealotry makes him especially dangerous. When the sinister Bram Fitzwilliam enters the picture to assist the Guard, Emma is in more danger than ever. Before she finds what she’s looking for, Emma must find a strength and courage she never knew she had. Her journey will teach her that dreams don’t always come true the way you want them to, that people aren’t always what they seem, and that real families can be chosen.

FINN AND THE BOYS by Jennifer L. Gadd

Finn and the Boys Ebook Cover.jpg

Irish hero Finn McCool was once just a little boy. He wants to play with the boys, but they won't let him. This All-By-Myself! story from Irish mythology tells how he solves his problem.


NFV I Front.jpg

Like many geeks, Joseph O’Reily has always fantasized about being a vampire.
Then one night Cassandra Snow walks into his life and he learns that not all dreams should come true. Cassandra has plans for him – plans for eternity.

As his world begins to turn upside down, Josephs wrestles with the changes to his everyday life. Eternal youth and amazing power come at a price that might be higher than he can afford. Vampires may not be human, but Joseph is determined to hold on to what he values most—his humanity.


Amazon Kindle


Barnes & Noble



THE KNIGHT OF CUPS by Kevin Wright

Book 1.jpg

While investigating a gangland murder, Chicago Police Detective Tom Chapel discovers that the world is darker than he'd ever dreamed possible -- a world where evil is very real, where creatures like vampires gather in dark alleyways, and where the most dangerous predator isn't always what you'd think. Are Chapel's experience and skills as a cop up to the task, or are they a liability? And just who is Pieter Durant? There are things hunting in the night that even the monsters fear...

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Check out for more information!

RABBIT IN RED by Joe Chianakas


Bill Wise has blood in his past, so he turns to horror films to wipe it clean. Jaime Stein has felt the betrayal of death, so she too takes refuge in the on-screen deaths of others. Now Bill, Jaime, and seventeen other horror-loving teens have gathered at Rabbit in Red Studios, the brainchild of eccentric horror producer Jay “JB” Bell, for the terror-filled, blood-drenched contest of their lives.

JB has presented this competition as a race between the best of the best that will reward the winners with cash, internships, and a career making the movies they love. But things aren’t always as they seem at Rabbit in Red, and soon life starts to imitate art. Will Bill and Jaime be strong enough to confront real horror to save their friends, or will they all fall victim to JB’s twisted plans?

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