Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mid-July Update with News, Links, and Pics

I submitted to the last two Blood Bound Books anthologies. Alas, though my stories were short-listed, I did not make the final cut. Rather than dwell on any disappointment I might feel, I'd rather revisit one of my biggest successes as a writer: having my Civil War-era "weird tale", Life and Limb, published in BBB's "Blood Rites" anthology, which also features stories by Brian Lumley, Maria Alexander, Daniel O'Connor, Lisa Morton, Joe McKinney, Aric Sundquist and many more! I read the whole anthology cover to cover and didn't think there was a bad story in the bunch.

You can order a copy or read reviews HERE

You can find out more about the authors and their stories here!
Here is a link to a new online 'zine called Chrome Baby. I believe it is the sister site to Bairn. At any rate, transgressive sci-fi seems to be what they're all about and I am pleased to announce that my story, "METSYS" will be published there in August!

From editor Robin Dunn: "This is an astonishingly beautiful story I would be honored to publish." Direct link to follow.


Just finished my final edits on "Coke Mule Deer" which will be included in Diabolic Tales III, to be released on Halloween of this year. I am very pleased with the improvements in the story. The original version of the story was picked up not once, but twice! But both projects were cancelled. Third time will be the charm! 
Here's the cover. It's pretty epic!
Finally, don't forget the July 26th issue of Woman's World will feature my solve-it-yourself mystery "Coin Return". Circulation is 1.6 million, so that's pretty darn cool.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 8, 2013

An Honest Review of Blood Lite III: Aftertaste

You may not be aware of this but Amazon does not allow authors to post reviews of anthologies to which they have contributed. I always made it a practice to review everything I contributed to. Then, one day, Amazon removed all my reviews.

Among my proudest accomplishments was having Kevin J. Anderson purchase one of my stories for Blood Lite III: Aftertaste. This was my first professional sale and I felt very excited to be in such great company.

But, as a reader, and a fan of horror, did I enjoy the stories in the anthology? Yes and no.

About 40% of the stories are meant to be humorous (keep in mind everyone's sense of humor is a little bit different). About 40% of the stories are meant to be lite / light horror / supernatural suspense. And about 20% end up in various other categories.

Personal highlights for me were:
-Put On a Happy Face by Christopher Golden. I've read a novel and a novella by Mr. Golden and didn't particularly care for either. This story, however, is very good. Not the least bit funny, though it does involve clowns. And it's not some dumb "clown is really a serial killer" story. This tale involves a legendary text, and the secrets of laughter.

-Mint in Box by Mike Baron. This story included the biggest laugh out loud moment in the entire book ("One to a customer.") And yet, if the reader can get past the premise, it packs an emotional punch. Can't really say why, but I was reminded of Clive Barker as I read this story. Creepy, macabre and funny.

-Dating After the Apocalypse by Stephen Dorato. I read this story twice because I liked it so much. The date with Carrie was particularly fascinating. The mysterious maladies the characters suffer kept me turning the pages. And it turns out that... no, I better not spoil it.

-Making the Cut by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn. A cute story with a great cast of quirky characters. These two team up to create the perfect humorous lite horror tale.

-Short Term by Daniel Pyle. The other story I read twice and still my favorite of the entire anthology. This would have made a phenomenal Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode.

-Distressed Travelers by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. She always comes up with interesting concepts in her short fiction and this story is no exception. Not a "funny" story, but I found myself grinning with anticipation as the bad guy gets what he deserves.

-Two for Translyvania by Brad Hodson. I've read some pretty dreadful retreads of horror classics. Thankfully, this is not one of them. This author does a very nice job telling the back story of two legendary literary characters. Dracula meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Honorable mentions to Joel Sutherland, Kelley Armstrong, John Alfred Taylor, Norman Prentiss, Don D'Ammassa, and Lisa Morton. I enjoyed their stories too.

There were a few I didn't care for. Some of the authors tried a little TOO hard to be funny or used gimmicks (maybe I'm guilty of that!). A few others were fine, but as I mentioned before, everyone has a different sense of humor. I think Leslie Nielsen is funny, and Ben Stiller is not, for instance. It stands to reason that no reader will love every story included.

Ironically, some of the biggest names turned in the most disappointing stories. Heather Graham's Mannequin, for instance: not funny, not horror, not suspenseful. Why is she famous?

The Great Zombie Invasion of 1979 by J. G. Faherty wasn't a bad story. I would have liked it in a different, more serious anthology. Drunken hillbillies murder a group of survivors of a commercial airplane crash because they are bloody, and stagger like zombies. Not funny! Gut wrenching and sad.

As I read Bayou Brawl by L.A. Banks, I kept thinking "please let this be a parody...PLEASE let this be a PARODY!" Unfortunately, I don't think it is. If you are in the Twilight, True Blood crowd, this story is for you.

Finally, Jim Butcher's story was okay. It's not funny. It's not horror. And given a nice set-up, it doesn't even play out with much suspense. But the guy sure has vocal fans. I Was a Teenage Bigfoot ends up on my 'thumbs down' list mostly as a result of said fans. Call me spiteful, but I got pretty sick of reading reviews on Amazon and Goodreads that said: "I bought this anthology for the Jim Butcher story. I skipped the others." or "I bought this for the Dresden story. All the other authors sucked."  I've never experienced such a close-minded, hostile group of fans.

Overall, I give Blood Lite III: Aftertaste 3.5 of 5 stars. The good stories certainly outweigh the bad.

And if there's a fourth volume in the series, I humbly submit the subtitle: IV.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Early July Update with Links and Pics

"The writing is reminiscent of Joe Hill." -from a review posted on Amazon June 17th.

"...be prepared for twists at the end. It's a wild ride!" -from a review posted on May 1st.

"Mr. Ludens not only knows how to put a great story on the page, he sticks it right there in the dark corners of your mind. And it's not leaving anytime soon." -from a review posted on April 23rd.

Positive reviews always brighten the day of *this* brooding author. A no-name author starts by having their work read by friends, family and coworkers. I'll let you in on a secret: I don't personally know any of the readers who posted the above comments. That's one more rung up the ladder!

If you read something you enjoy, review it! (Amazon, B&N, BAM, Goodreads, and more all provide YOU with a chance to speak your mind. And it helps us authors so much. Remember, it's all about word of mouth. 

You can find this collection at a special price HERE


HERE is the only place you can read my 1930's-era horror story "Theater of the Spirit", partially inspired by Boris Karloff's leading lady in The Mummy, Zita Johann.  E-Horror is available for Nook at a very affordable price. (And disregard the 2 reviews currently posted. They're for a previous issue.)

You can't go wrong with free, right? HERE is a link to Over My Dead Body!, an online mystery web site. My story, "Monday Mourning at the Curl Up & Dye", is featured, along with several other new mystery stories. I see a couple by J.T. Seate. I wonder if this is J. Troy Seate. He and I both have stories in Unspeakable, an anthology of "creature horror" stories from Blood Bound Books.


Here's a very nice graphic created to help promote some of the books nominated for Bram Stoker Awards. This category is Outstanding Achievement in an Anthology. I had a story ("How to Make a Monster") in Slices of Flesh, an anthology of flash fiction horror stories (all about four pages or less) featuring an incredible list of outstanding authors. I am very thankful to have been a part of it. The winner, Shadow Show, features stories inspired by, and in honor, of Ray Bradbury. I own a copy and heartily recommend it to anyone who loves to read.

More updates, links and pics coming next week!

Thanks for reading,