Thursday, October 13, 2016

Honest Reviews of Creepy Campfire Quarterly #3 (and) Muffled Scream: Corner of the Eye

Amazon typically does not allow authors to review anthologies to which they have contributed. With that in mind, here are honest reviews for two more collections that feature my work.

Title: Creepy Campfire Quarterly #3
Publisher: EMP Publishing
Editor: Jennifer Word
Number of stories: 18
Pages: 164
Price: $2.99 Kindle, $7.45 for paperback.
Theme: non-themed horror stories
My story included: Everyone Wears A Mask. A woman battling brain tumors finds herself face-to-face with her daughter's abductor/killer on Halloween night and plans her revenge in an effort to find peace before her passing.

I also wrote the introduction to this issue and my story leads the issue. Creepy Campfire Stories for Grownups, the first anthology from EMP had more violent stories as a whole, but this issue carries on a proud tradition of dark fiction and horror. Collage-style cover is pretty good. The stories are all solid, and worth the money.

My favorites were: "Exit" by Mark Silcox (I knew what was going on right away, and still enjoyed the heck out of this bittersweet tale); "Impure Breed" by Ken MacGregor (very unique "monsters" in this one), and "Second Smile" by Aaron Wright (this disturbing tale resonated with me as a parent). Rounding out my favorite five would be Eric I. Dean and Marc Sorondo.

I give it an A-. It's a good anthology/magazine at a very good price. You can order a copy here.

Title: Muffled Scream I: Corner of the Eye
Publisher: Wicked Tales
Editor: Douglas Owen
Number of stories: 8
Pages: 172
Price: $2.99 Kindle, $16.95 for the paperback.
Theme: loosely themed anthology of horror stories involving eyes, or something seen from the corner of ones eye...
My story included: Balloon Animals. A dark suburban fantasy about a grumpy, blue collar Archie Bunker-type whose wife buys a TV from--and trades away her body and soul to--a mysterious new neighbor. Revenge and retribution follow to a bittersweet ending.

The good: this editor paid well and I appreciate that. It's also the only anthology I've ever contributed to that actually made good on their promise to pay royalties. The editor also took the editing very seriously and my story improved as a result. Also, the cover is really unsettling. I like it.

The bad: my last name is misspelled in the headers above my story. There is no table of contents. (I hear from another contributing author that this was deliberate--the editor doesn't want any stories skipped.) The text on the back cover is pretty tough to read and another author has the wrong title (it's the next author's story) in the header above his. These things could (and should) all be fixed in a new, corrected edition, in my humble opinion.

My favorites were "Six Miles to Bastogne," a well-written WWII story by Ambrose Stolliker, and "Dark Matter" by B.D. Prince, which has a great ending and great last line.

Rating: I give it a C because of the misspelling of my name and the other formatting mistakes.
Here's a link to order, but I'd recommend getting the Kindle and just focusing on the stories.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Honest Reviews of Dark Moon Digest #23 and Broken Worlds

Amazon typically does not allow authors to review anthologies to which they have contributed. With that in mind, here are honest reviews for two more collections that feature my work.

Title: Dark Moon Digest #24
Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
Editor: Lori Michelle
Number of stories: 8
Pages: 100
Price: $2.99 Kindle, $7.95 for paperback.
Theme: non-themed horror stories
My story included: Reunited, about a radio announcer who is dangerously close to losing his job--and his sanity--until he resorts to drastic measures to revitalize his morning show.

I love the cover art by Allen Koszowski. It reminds me of the interior art of vintage Weird Tales. It's so good I wish the text on the cover had been kept to a minimum.

My favorite stories in this issue were "A Constant Effort to Bind the Pieces Together" by Joshua D. Moyes. This is an excellent story that brought back memories of Theodore Sturgeon's "It" but with a darker focus. "Shifting Sands" by Shannon Lawrence was another favorite, with a beautiful and haunting opening sequence. Matt Andrews' story was also good, and Jay Wilburn provided a thought-provoking non-fiction piece.

I give this issue a B. It's a magazine worth buying every issue. You can order a copy here.

Title: Broken Worlds
Publisher: A Murder of Storytellers
Editor: Jack Burgos
Number of stories: 34
Pages: 286
Price: $4.99 Kindle, $12.99 paperback
Theme: broken worlds, societies, families... a mix of horror and some sci-fi.
My story included: The Way It Will Be, featuring a gifted local newscaster whose words become truth every evening. But who's writing his scripts? And for what purpose?

The cover art and layout by George Cotronis is really good.

My favorites were "The Wailing Women" by M.R. Ranier, "Good Enough for Jeorgia" by John Biggs (more people need to read his work, he's an undiscovered talent), "Exodus of New Sodom, South Georgia" by Franklin C. Murdock, and "Nice Guys" by Adrean Messmer.

One of, if not THE best, story I've read in several years is included in this anthology. It's called "The Cords of the Neck" by J. Robert Shelton. This author doesn't have a web presence, doesn't appear to be on Facebook, and remains a mystery (to me.) I am told this is his first published story. If true, that in and of itself, is remarkable. The story has a strong "voice" and I've never read anything quite like it. Post-Apocalyptic carnival barkers vie for non-existent customers in this quirky, macabre tale.

I give this one an A-. There were a few stories I didn't care for or found confusing, but overall, a very enjoyable anthology. If I lost my copy, I'd buy it again just to have J. Robert Shelton's story.

You can order a copy right here.

I'll be back again soon with two more reviews. Thank you for reading.