Quite some time ago, I was asked by a co-worker if I ever wrote about my hometown. I hadn't really thought of it before. I suppose everything I write has some origins in my hometown, whether planned of subconsciously. Some root, or filament, connecting it to the place I have always lived. But, had I ever written specifically about it? No, I decided, I had not. So, I took pen to paper and tried to write about the place I was born and raised, where my daughter was born and raised, and now my granddaughter. It wasn't so easy. I scrambled to put something together that was meaningful, yet all I had achieved was a stack of notes, descriptions that came to mind, places, people, feelings. It wasn't at all a cheery perspective. I tried for two years to assemble these thoughts into a story, with no success. It wasn't working. So, I thought, why not use those fragments in a poem? Now, I'm no poet. I haven't written any poetry for almost thirty years. But, it seemed the words felt more at home in verse than in paragraph, and so, this, for whatever it's worth was the final result. Being unschooled in poetry, its form and structure and such, I can't say if it is done properly, poorly, or if I should burn the whole thing and eat the ashes, but this is what I have.
(I have to share via a link to Dropbox due to formatting difficulty. It's safe...don't be scared!)
back a few friends and I, obviously bored, drunk, and of unsound mind,
decided it would be fun to do a series of chapbooks, short books
containing a few short stories. We thought, what if one of us, each
month, came up with a theme or prompt and we each wrote a short based
upon it. We would rotate who got to choose and go from there. Little to
no direction, genre, or anything. We wanted to keep these stories in as
raw a form as possible. To experiment with form and structure. To
basically just have fun and see what came of it. Well, after a year of
procrastination, we finally have a few to show. I was hoping to
these free on Kindle, but Amazon had other ideas, and so $.99 was the
best I could do. So far we have three available for Kindle,'Fresh Flesh Fables', 'Livor Mortis Lullabies,' and 'Fresh Flesh Fables: Contamination',
but there are more on the way, with equally odd and disturbing themes. I'll be
updating this post as they are available. Eventually we'd like to
combine all the chapbooks into one and publish a paperback, but that's a
ways off yet. We hope you like the stories we've created in these little books. The
first two have stories by just two of us, but later books will
have stories by three or four authors, one being a screenwriter, so I've
tried to keep his formatting as true to the original as possible for
that bit of Hollywood flare. So, sit back, crack open a beer, and
prepare yourself for some horrific stuff.
You can always check out my Amazon author page for more titles and information by clicking here:My Amazon Page.
I haven't really done a year's best list in the past, just more a running review of the books I've read that I thought were noteworthy. The problem is, while I may buy a lot of books every year, sometimes it's a year or two before I work my way down the pile towards them. And believe me, I have a mega pile of books waiting to be read. Even reading several per week I'll never catch up. However, with the exception of one book, the following were all released in calendar year 2016, and all very much worth you reading.
Best Novel The Fireman by Joe Hill First of all, Joe Hill is not his father. Lets get that out of the way right now. I'm SO tired of people constantly comparing him to Stephen King. Yes, Joe is a brilliant author, and that's where the similarities end. He has his own very distinct style and voice. A talent that has been successful in the comic and graphic novel markets. Is a master of the short story. He's really become one of my favorite new authors. The Fireman is an epic work of survival in a world gone to hell, almost literally. It's about the fragile state of community during a crisis that nobody knows how to fix. About finding love in the most unlikely of places. If you can only manage to read one book this coming year, pick this one up. You just may become a Joe Hill fan, and that can't possibly be a bad thing.
This book came out in 2015 but I had to put it on this list because, first, I didn't read it until 2016, and second, I think you need to read it too. It's a brilliant book, and I don't say that lightly. A woman's recollection of the horrors her family is put through as her sister is gripped by a nasty possession while a producer seeks to exploit their terror and crumbling family for the television audience. It's a gripping book, one you won't be able to put aside for a minute. Best Short Story Anthology Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano & Alexander Ward
I've blogged about this collection before, and for good reason. It's one of the best short horror story collections I've read. This book is full of some of the best talent out there; Barker, Gaiman, Campbell, Lucia...and many more. Plus, the interior artwork by Luke Spooner is as breathtaking as the tales themselves. This is a must read for all short story lovers, horror lovers, or anyone who simply loves great storytelling.
Expanded from the former e-book only 'Welcome To Moon Hill', this reincarnation is an amazing collection of stories centered around the mysterious eastern Pennsylvania village of Moon Hill, where nothing is as it seems, and dark things lurk in the shadows. I've been waiting year for this to be available in print form, and the work Tony Rapino and Tod Keisling put into this has made it well worth it. Backers to the project received varied extras, such as a map of Moon Hill, exclusive sculptures and more. The writing is not only amazing, but the presentation and layout is second to none.
I don't read a lot of novellas. But, because Mercedes was involved in this one, well, I just had to. And I have to say, it's a wonderfully bizarre love story. This book swept me up in a world beyond the light and into the dusty realm of forgotten places. I don't know what words to use to describe it. If you're at all familiar with Mercedes' writing, you will understand. This is the first time for me reading Boden, but the book and storytelling is seamless. Dark and lovely and strange. I urge you to pick it up. Best Horror Magazine Issue Cemetery Dance #74/75
I read a lot of horror magazines, mainly for the exclusive short stories they contain. Magazines such as Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Dark Discoveries, Gamut, and many more. And while I have a certain loyalty to CD because I've read it longer than all the others combined, I don't have a particular favorite. They're all excellent reads, every issue. However, CD's special double issue 74/75 was above and beyond fantastic. Not only did it contain a great interview with Joe Hill, and a new Hill short story that will blow you away, but the rest of the issue was literally jam packed with amazing stories, reviews and more. Pick this issue up! It will get you hooked on a magazine I have loved for many years now.
About two years ago I started to write a short Halloween story to put on the blog. For some reason, most likely laziness, I never completed it and it lay forgotten in a notebook. So, this year, as Halloween approached, I remembered it and dug it up and made a few changes and decided to finally post it. It's not spectacular, or particularly good, just a weird, somewhat humorous tale of holiday decorating gone perhaps a bit too far, depending on one's particular tastes in such things. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe get a little chuckle out of it.
Gunther had worked feverishly the past week, setting-up and
perfecting every little detail of the Halloween display that had slowly
transformed his meticulously manicured front lawn into a necropolis of
there was much more that needed done yet, and time was quickly running out. The
judges would be by tonight to evaluate and score his hard work, and this year
he was certain he would take the top prize for best display. He had worked
tirelessly, put many months of painstaking planning and effort into it. He just
had to win. He was determined he would.
looked out through the large picture window at his work so far, only to witness
a handful of thieving crows atop his centerpiece, missing the irony it being a
scarecrow. They went about happily plucking delectable eyes from the holes of
the masked corpse, trailing optic nerves wiggling free from their sockets like
groups of long bloody worms.
you little bastards!” he yelled, running for the door. Gunther flew from the
porch, arms waving furiously, scaring the vile creatures off, fearing they had
ruined his wide-eyed scarecrow and any chance he might have had at winning
thoroughly inspected the damage to the
figure, which stood proud and impaled upon a blood slicked post, front and
center facing out toward the street. He was relieved to find the scavenging
crows had in fact, if anything, improved upon the look he was striving for.
Newly dislodged chunks of gore dangled from ragged eye holes between the
battered and frayed burlap mask, giving the totem a new sense of wicked blight.
He liked it. No, he absolutely loved it!
raised a friendly hand into the crisp autumn air, saluting his new carrion
eating friends, who still circled high overhead, no doubt eyeing other
prospective meals from neighboring sections of his yard display. Perhaps taking
a newfound fancy toward the neatly de-skinned gentleman that hung festively
from the corner oak tree on an oversized and rusty meat hook.
went about his preparations with military-like precision. No detail, no matter
how slight or seemingly insignificant, went unnoticed, unattended to.
yard was festooned with a plethora of Jack-O-Lanterns that Gunther had made
himself, lovingly hollowing out dozens of skulls. He lit candles within each
one, the flickering light dancing playfully about, glowing a beautiful sunset
red through the voided eye sockets.
the depths of the basement, he carefully carried up his old woman corpse. She
was his oldest, most fragile piece, having dried to a delicate dusty shell that
smelled like nutmeg and old leather shoes. She was his favorite, so
grandmotherly in appearance and smell. He supposed she very well could have
been, most likely had been, someone’s grandmother at one time. But now she was
his, and during Halloween she had always taken on the roll once again for
children all over the neighborhood. Gunther set her in a creaky old rocker on
the front porch, leaving the lattice work of a year’s worth of spiders webs
intact to complete the look. He fluffed up the ancient lace collar of her
dress, picking away the stray strands of brittle grey hair that tangled in the
pattern, fixing what was left of the hair that still clung in a tight bun to
the dry skin of her scalp. She had always been the perfect prop to use as candy
distributer. Gunther placed a large silver bowl full of treats in her bony lap
and gingerly contorted her dry brittle fingers so that they appeared to be
grasping the sides. Her eyes had long since sunk and withered to dust, deep
grey wrinkles taking their place like puckered lips, as if her eyes were now
had filled the silver bowl, like always, with his best Halloween treats,
relishing the sound they made as they plopped against the cool metal. Candied
eyes, caramel coated fingers, brightly colored kidney balls, and of course his
favorite, chocolate toffee stuffed tongues. It was a festive treat bowl if he
ever saw one. The trick-or-treaters would no doubt swarm his house once word
got around tonight.
Gunther was inspecting the last of his work, approaching footsteps echoed along
the sidewalk, crunching through dry leaves. From the darkness appeared five
well-dressed individuals who stepped up to his front gate sporting wide smiles
each. The judges had arrived.
was all smiles, ear to ear, as the judges ooh’d and ahh’d over his yard
displays, commenting over and over again at how incredibly life-like everything
was. They praised his custom Jack-O-Lantern skulls and their uniqueness, and
were especially pleased with the masked scarecrow centerpiece, looming over it
all. It looked as if his hard work and perseverance was going to finally
the judges let out a shrill scream, followed by nervous laughter. “Sorry,” she
said. “It just moved and brushed against my leg. Very effective.”
looked quizzically at the object in question, a twisted corpse rising half out
of a burial plot. The corpse, which obviously now seemed wasn’t a corpse at
all, moved again, twitching a bloody
arm, its fingers raking through the grass. As he approached it let out a soft,
exasperated moan. It was ruining his display and he was none too pleased and
me,” Gunther said, mortified by this most unfortunate oversight. He grabbed
hold of an axe that was lodged firmly into the torso of a young girl laid atop
a fake boulder, and with a grunt pulled it free and returned to the twitching
the axe raised high over his head, Gunther brought it down swiftly, forcefully,
and repeatedly with maniacal determination, slicing into the corpse’s back with
bone crunching whumps. Blood and gore flew about in a widening arc, covering
himself as well as the five judges, who all gasped in wide-eyed unison.
Intestines oozed out from the corpse’s gaping mouth, and alas the cursed thing
twitched no more.
bloodied judges stood frozen in place, silent, looking at the axe now buried to
the hilt in what little remained of the grave crawling corpse. And, as if a
switch had been thrown, they all simultaneously began to applaud and cheer,
elated in the efforts Gunther had endured to deliver such a realistic and
original interactive yard display. Smiles erupted from faces running and
dripping with blood.
is a first rate display,” said one judge as he wiped away blood from his
prize without a doubt,” said another.
beamed with pride, his first place ribbon pinned proudly to the front of his
gore splattered shirt, and he began thinking about the Christmas display he had