Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November Update: Covers, Announcements, Free Stories!

This post will include a big announcement, links to THREE FREE stories, and three new anthology announcements!

Before the end of the year, Grinning Skull Press will release my debut novelette, a weird western titled "Bottled Spirits" as part of their Grave Markers series. Initially, this will be issued as a standalone Kindle single. Later, it will be collected with two other Grave Marker novelettes with historical settings in paperback. More details--including a cover reveal, and ordering information, coming soon!

Newly released (and long-awaited) is Cranial Leakage 2 from Grinning Skull Press. This non-themed horror anthology includes a number of up-and-coming and established horror authors. Among them, Ken Goldman is an author who I have shared quite a few tables of contents with.

My story, "Another Mouth to Feed," is about a blue collar family struggling to make ends meet. Things go terribly wrong when the youngest member of the family tries to do a good deed for a stranger.

This story has an interesting background. One editor accused me of racial stereotyping (not the case) while another editor accused me of making poor people look bad (not the case). I'd like to thank Harrison Graves and Michael Evans for seeing the potential in--and the meaning of--this story and buying it for this book!

You can order a copy for Kindle here. A link to the paperback is here.

Next up we have a dark science fiction anthology, Dark Horizons, from editor Charles Zaglanis and Elder Signs Press. My story, "Making the Rounds," is included.

Authors I have read and/or appeared with before include: James Dorr, Lee Zumpe, Jay Caselberg, and Aaron French.

Note: My name is misspelled in the first pressing of this anthology. It has been corrected for Kindle (due soon) and will be corrected by the second pressing. I will keep readers updated (and will likely re-announce this title) when I have confirmation.

In my story, a dystopian, Mythos-inspired tale, medicine and health care have taken a huge step backward.

The paperback can be ordered here.

The debut volume of Turn to Ash, a new literary horror magazine (in book form) includes my story "Sod Webworms." Edited by Benjamin Holesapple, and from Turn to Ash Media, LLC.

Turn to Ash features work from Lucy Snyder, CC Adams, J. Daniel Stone and others.

My story is inspired by true events. There is no supernatural aspect to this story, but the end result is truly horrifying. Anyone know what 'sod webworms' are? They're a small, seasonal moth that look like tiny bits of rolled-up parchment. What do they have to do with a radio announcer showing up for a remote broadcast at a car dealership on the wrong day? Find out (and try to separate fact from fiction) in "Sod Webworms."

Here is a link to order.

Finally, below are THREE links to free stories published online this year. All three stories are new. All three stories are VERY different from each other. I hope you enjoy them.

Storm Cloud Rain, Graveyard Dirt

Little Hearse on the Prairie (co-authored by Heidi M. Roth)

Nic Fits

As always, thank you for reading!
More announcements coming soon!

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.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Honest Reviews of Taboo (and) HWA Poetry Showcase III

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: Taboo (A Morpheus Tales special issue)
Publisher: Morpheus Tales
Editor: Sheri White
Number of stories: 12
Pages: 52
Price: $2.99 Kindle, $5.73 for paperback from Lulu.
Theme: horror stories examining taboo subjects
My story included: Questions Still Unanswered, in which a man seeks answers about his wife's death from his uncooperative step-children.

This seems like a short magazine, but the print is quite small so you DO get your money's worth. The shiny cover on the paperback diminishes the cool artwork by Lubi (it's much darker than the picture). Speaking of "darker," these stories strive to be collectively darker than a typical horror anthology.

My favorites were "Four Locks" by Adam R. Shannon, a historical horror tale with a great ending, "Apron Strings" by S.K. Harrison, and "The Witch Finger" (cleverly written POV) by Brent Michael Kelley.

Rating: I give it a B+
Here's a link to order the ebook. Paper copy is here.

Title: Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase, Vol. III (2016)
Publisher: HWA
Editor: David E. Cowen
Number of poems: 51
Pages: 96
Price: $7.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle
Theme: horror and dark-themed poetry
My poem included: Ant Farm Necropolis, about a deceased man whose spirit is trapped in a plastic ant farm from his childhood.

First the bad: I don't care for the cover at all. Also, there's an instance of the word "airing" used instead of "erring". "Airing on the side of caution"? Oops.

Now the good: I admit I have to read poetry aloud to increase my comprehension. This is a very good collection with a number of highlights and only a few I didn't care for. My favorites were the poems by Bruce Boston, Chad Stroup, Chad Hensley, Davide Camparsi (his piece, "Playground" is my favorite in the collection), and Janet Leach.

I give this a B+ and recommend the Kindle version.
You can order it right here.

Title: The Beauty of Death
Publisher: Independent Legions PRess
Editor: Alessandro Manzetti
Number of stories: 41
Pages: 587(!)
Price: $6.99 Kindle
Theme: Death from all perspectives
My story included: Building Condemned, in which a man makes improvements in an oddly-familiar asylum. He wants to put everything right but time is running out and something is working against his efforts...

The only reason I have not read this is because it's a Kindle ebook only and I prefer reading paper books. For the rest of you who aren't so ingrained in their reading habits, this book should be a "must have". Reprints by horror legends Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Ramsey Campbell, John Skipp and Edward Lee. New stories by Nick Mamatas, Tim Waggoner, Rena Mason, John F.D. Taff, Maria Alexander, and many more!

Overall: I can't rate it because I haven't read it (yet). If you like horror and own a Kindle, getting this anthology is a no-brainer.

Here's a link to order.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

An Honest Review of Shadows Over Main Street (and) Abstract Jam #3

Amazon does not allow authors to review anthologies if they have contributed a story to that anthology. With that in mind, I wanted to post some honest reviews here on my blog for books to which I contributed.

This week, I'll review two more titles.

Title: Shadows Over Main Street
Publisher: Cutting Block Books
Editors: Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward
Number of stories: 20
Pages: 211
Price: $13.95 paperback, $4.99 Kindle
Theme: Small-town Lovecraftian terror
My story included: Estranged. A young woman who grew up in Innsmouth reminisces about her childhood and reflects upon her estrangement from her father, who came to look upon her as a freak.

This title was available for a short time in 2015 but the publisher closed their doors. What a relief to have Cutting Block pick this title up! The cover is slightly altered, as is the interior layout (the font is a little bit on the hard-to-read side for these eyes), but otherwise the stories are the same. This anthology is great. I read it cover to cover twice. In reading the reviews posted on Amazon, one story that gets mentioned repeatedly as one of the reviewers' favorites happens to be one of the stories I enjoyed the least. Just goes to show how subjective fiction can be. Very evocative cover art by Luke Spooner.

My favorites stories came from Nick Mamatas (with a story I believe is called "Octopus Salad", but the title is in Greek). This story has one of the best closing lines I've read in years. More favorites: Brian Hodge ("The Stagnant Breath of Change"), Mary Sangiovanni ("The Floodgates at Willowhill")--liked it even more upon a second reading, Cameron Suey ("The Crisis")--breathtaking action in this one, and Jay Wilburn ("Boss Cthulhu")--funny and creepy. Even narrowing it down to five was a struggle. I also applaud the editors for going the extra mile and commissioning interior artwork from five different artists.

Overall: I enjoyed 16 of 20 stories, which rarely happens. I give it an A.
Here's a link to order.

Title: Abstract Jam (Issue #3, June 2016)
Publisher: none listed
Editor: Samantha Leng
Number of stories: 15
Pages: 179
Price: $7.58 paperback, $1.45 Kindle
Theme: quirky short stories
My story included: Sprat

I admit I was not familiar with this market before selling "Sprat" to appear in their third issue. I was missing out! This is not a genre magazine, nor is it literary. The story selection is eclectic and unique. The stories are something quirky, sometimes gritty. Some are hilarious, some are heartbreaking. Some are very down to earth while others are speculative/imaginative fiction.

My favorites were "Fishbowl" by A. Katherine Black, "Somewhere East of Santa Fe" by Christian Riley, and "An Absent Member" by Charles Wilkinson. That story is nearly worth the price alone. Ever read those Rudyard Kipling stories that begin with a group of men sitting fireside at an exclusive club, cigars and scotch in hand, and then one old fellow begins to relate a shocking story of adventure? Wilkinson takes that familiar trope, stands it on its head, and punches it right in the junk. It leads off the issue, and with good reason.

I give Abstract Jam a B+.
You can order a copy here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

An Honest Review of: Now Playing in Theater B (and) Morpheus Tales: The Best Weird Fiction Vol. 5

Amazon typically does not allow authors to review anthologies if they have contributed a story to that anthology. With that in mind, I thought I'd post some honest reviews here on my blog for books that fit this category.

This week, I'll review two titles.

Title: Now Playing in Theater B
Publisher: A Murder of Storytellers
Editor: Adrean Mesmer
Number of stories: 27
Pages: 235
Price: $12.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle
Theme: Grindhouse-inspired, B-movie horror stories
My story included: Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town. Clive's home is for sale. But as the tour of the house unfolds, and more and more of Clive's strange and surreal memories are revealed, the prospective home buyer comes to realize something is very wrong.

I like the simple, yet eye-catching cover art by AP Sessler. The theme being what it is, there are some familiar themes and topics but nothing that I'm tired of reading about. I think overall, this anthology had fewer knock-me-out-of-my-chair-they're-so-good stories, but it also doesn't have any duds or stories marred by multiple typos. Personal favorite stories: The Lovely Thing by Lisa Finch and Tiny Town by Amber Bierce.

Overall: I give it a B--much like the movies the anthology pays homage to.
Here's a link to order.

Title: Morpheus Tales: The best Weird Fiction Vol. 5
Publisher: Morpheus Tales via Lulu
Editor: Adam Bradley
Number of stories: 20
Pages: 109
Price: $7.64 paperback, $3.99 Kindle
Theme: very short fiction (weird, horror)
My story included: Solitary Man. A prison guard visiting his comatose son tells the story of a famous writer who is serving a life sentence in solitary confinement. Of course, all is not as it seems...

I like the change of pace from cover artist by Matthew Freyer. Really disconcerting--in a good way. All of the stories are rather short, with the longest running 8 pages. Most of the authors do a good job within these constraints. These stories are reprints from three old issues of Morpheus Tales. There was only one story that was, for me, a chore to read. Among my favorites were: Business is Business by Lee Clark Zumpe, The Depredators' Club by Deborah Walker, and When the Letter Came by Matthew Acheson.

Overall: I give it a B. It's short, but also cheaper than buying all three individual issues.
Here is a link to order.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Free Story! Read "Nic Fits" in Crimson Streets (plus an August 2016 Update)

I wrote the introduction to this issue and contributed the lead-off story, "Everyone Wears A Mask" a story about a mother's revenge, set around Halloween. You can order it here.
The latest issue of Dark Moon Digest (#24) includes my radio-related horror story, "Reunited." You can order a copy here.
My extreme horror story, "Questions Still Unanswered" appears in the latest special issue of Morpheus Tales: Taboo. E-book available to order here: here. Paperback is available from Lulu.
The anthology, Muffled Scream: Corner of the Eye, includes my dark urban fantasy story "Balloon Animals." It is available here.
Shadows Over Main Street is in print again! It includes my story, "Estranged" which is set in Innsmouth, of Lovecraftian lore. Order this new edition here.

And here's one you can read for FREE! "Nic Fits" is a humorous pulp horror story that appears on Crimson Streets Pulp E-zine. It's the featured story for the week of August 14th. Scroll down to find my story if it's not at the top.

Illustration by Sheik.

Monday, June 6, 2016

2016 Mid-Point Recap: Covers and Links

Here's a recap of stories published thus far in 2016.

My dark fairy tale, "Sprat" was published in issue #3 of Abstract Jam magazine. An eclectic assemblage of short stories.

Jack Sprat and his wife... we all know the nursery rhyme. But did you know they started a subscription-based erotic website to jump start their waning popularity? Spoiler alert: not everyone lived happily ever after...

Order here
 Available in e-book only, to be released at the end of June, 2016 is The Beauty of Death (Independent Legions Press). 41 tales of death from an all-star international assemblage of authors.

What a thrill to be included alongside so many authors whose books fill my shelves! Poppy Z. Brite and John Skipp are particular favorites.

I included the working/mock up cover below. I actually prefer it to the final cover, pictured to the left. To me, the original art is more mysterious.

My story, "Building Condemned," follows a man's final moments as he sets things right in his psyche before bidding his body a final farewell.
My third Morpheus Tales appearance, "Solitary Man," is reprinted in Best of Morpheus Tales Volume 5.

The same story will also appear in The Prison Compendium (EMP Publishing) in October and was published in my first collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles. It's becoming one of my more popular stories.

Fun fact: the working title of the story was "Ghost Writer."

Order it here!

"Ant Farm Necropolis" is my newest poem. It will be featured in the Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase Volume III, coming to e-book format sometime during the summer of 2016.

"Ant Farm Necropolis" deals with drug abuse and is a ghost story at heart. It also happens to be the title of my upcoming short story collection, which will be published in 2017.

One of my favorite stories ever, "Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town" is reprinted in Now Playing in Theater B (A Murder of Storytellers).

This is a fun horror anthology inspired by the grindhouse and "late show at the drive-in" aesthetic.

For more about this story, and a free sample, see the next blog post.

Order here!

Last and certainly not least, my quiet horror story "Storm Cloud Rain, Graveyard Dirt" is one of the stories featured in Issue 6 of Body Parts Magazine. The theme of the issue is Grave Robbing. I enjoyed writing this story. It's based on one of my favorite real-life places. You can read it HERE for FREE!

Come back and visit! I have a DOZEN NEW STORIES slated for publication before the end of the year!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Now Playing in Theater B is out now!

Here is  short sample from my story, "Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town," available in the brand new grindhouse-inspired anthology: Now Playing in Theater B (from A Murder of Storytellers).
"Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town"

If you’re wondering, the price on the For Sale sign posted in my front yard is correct. It’s an incredible bargain and I can see you agree. This house has been in our family for several generations, but it’s time to move. Downsizing. You know how it is.
I’m Clive. Let me give you a tour.
This residence has three bedrooms, though only two are in use. House size is 3400 square feet. Plenty of room for a large family.
There’s a porch out back, a tool shed, a prefab tin shed for storage, even a smokehouse, if you like jerky. Maybe I ought to test that out, though; the last time we used it was way back in 1969, when I was only seven years old! That was the year Nixon took office, the Beatles performed on a roof and then broke up, and a tapeworm killed my mother. Sucked the life right out of her and left nothing but a husk. In the end, she was dry as an old gourd. Ever shake one? You can usually hear something rattling around inside, but you don’t know what. Seeds maybe, or dead beetles.
My dad cut my mother open and pulled the murdering parasite out of her large intestine. The damn thing was over three feet long. Dad took it on like Jacob wrestling the angel, and like the angel, the tapeworm was overcome. Dad crucified it in the smokehouse. He nailed it to the wall with a two-pronged fork with a bone handle. Stretched it tight and nailed the bottom too. Used one of Mother’s knitting needles. The gut vampire’s carcass started out flat, but curled in on itself like tightly-rolled parchment as it dried. It’s a first-rate smokehouse—or was.
Dad buried Mother out back beneath the lilacs. He mistrusted morticians. Always worried what those folks did when there wasn’t anyone around. Then Dad used the dead tapeworm as the string in his old washtub bass. He’d play it out on the porch on nights when the moon shone bright and in our living room on nights when it didn’t. It didn’t have a very good tone but it calmed down my older brother, Paul, so that was good.
Paul’s brain seemed to operate on a different set of instructions than the rest of us. He would often fall prey to a kind of darkness that has nothing to do with nightfall.

As for the music, I played along on a toy guitar that was just my size. It had four strings but still sounded fine as frog’s hair. I’d strum away while Dad sang songs he made up on the spot. Some bawdy, some mournful; and him always plucking the tapeworm that’d killed his wife, crafting rustic, mystical lullabies for the children she left behind. Paul would rock on his haunches and try to hum along. And Sadie, the baby of the family, a year and a half old back then, would hold up both hands, wanting to touch something, anything, everything. And she would smile at me as if we shared some great secret joke.

Find out more about Clive, his little sister, Sadie, and their bizarre life experiences (including his violent grudge against his former best friend, Zedro) in "Four Houses Down, on the Bad Side of Town" reprinted in Now Playing in Theater B. Ordering link is above.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Potential Covers

These are potential covers for my next two short story collections. I purchased these images from IStock and for licensing reasons am posting them now so that I can use them again later.

If you have a favorite, feel free to let me know in the comments!


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