David’s Haunted Library: Two from Crystal Lake Publishing

Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors by Todd Keisling is a collection of stories that explore what happens when people are pushed to their limits.The first story called A Man In Your Garden sets up the anthology perfectly. It’s about a man who believes a stranger is standing on his lawn. The man is scared but is there, someone, really out there or does he have an overactive imagination. I love how this story shows that sometimes we are our worst enemy.

Another good story here is Saving Granny From The Devil, this is a coming of age story where a young kid name Todd gets help from the devil. Flash forward a few years and the devil is coming for Todd’s Granny and Todd makes a deal to save her. The problem is that while Todd’s heart is in the right place, he may have made the wrong decision. We then see how his actions affected his life and his Granny’s. What I like about this story is the idea presented that love lasts forever and maybe the devil isn’t such a bad guy. Todd Keisling shows that he has a gift for creating deep characters that you can’t help but care for even when they do wrong.

My favorite story in this collection is When Karen Met Her Mountain. Karen comes from a religious father who recently died and not too long ago she had a miscarriage that she hasn’t mentally recovered from. Tragedy strikes when a religious cult shows up and kidnaps her husband. The Cult is messing with the wrong woman and Karen is going to make them pay.  I liked how you see Karen’s personality change as she hunts down her victims and then towards the end we find out that her therapist believed something like this would happen if the wrong trigger was pulled. The ending of this one really surprised me, this is a woman pushed to the edge and comes out stronger and more vicious.

The last story in the collection is a novella called The Final Reconciliation. It’s about a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings, four kids with big dreams set out on their first tour. Little did they know that their first album would only be heard once and would cause the death of nearly 200 people. This story is a twist on an old mythology and a story of four kids achieving their dreams and worst nightmares at the same time.This is another coming of age story as the kids are working to leave the rough backgrounds that they come from.

Ugly Little Things is a book about the human spirit but the human spirit doesn’t always triumph. Even when you get what you want there is a dark side to it and that’s what Ugly Little Things is about. This is a book that’s shocking and disturbing but most of all it’s a look at what happens to people when they can’t handle the horror of life.

We’re all fascinated by things that are strange, odd and just plain different. Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders edited by Doug Murano is an anthology that embraces weirdness. When you start reading this book you know to expect the unexpected from the first story. In Larue’s Dime Museum by Lisa Morton. The story follows a woman who is obsessed with the past and finds two photos that transport her back in time. I loved how this story opens leading you to believe it’s about a circus style sideshow. Then you start to realize it’s really about a photographer and a woman who wishes to be in another time. I loved the descriptions of the setting and hearing about the woman’s daily routine and how she sees the world around her.

Another good story in this anthology is Chivalry by Neil Gaiman. In this story, an old woman finds the holy grail in a second-hand store and before long Galaad comes on a quest to bring the grail to King Arthur’s Knights Of The Round Table. The woman does not want to give it up. Galaad keeps coming back with extravagant gifts and finally offers three gifts to the woman and the woman accepts two in exchange for the chalice but the one she rejects is a huge surprise in the story. I love how the woman rejects the gift and her reaction after Galaad leaves her. At this point you are left to wonder is she crying because she liked the attention from Galaad or is it because she really wanted the third gift. This story is a must read.

Another good one is the Wildflower, Cactus Rose by Brian Kirk. This is a completely original story about a woman who goes in for surgery to take care of a sleep apnea problem. She comes out mutilated and thinks her life is over. Her new gifts seem to change her life though as she finds it easier to do the right thing.  There is a good message in this story about how the way you look doesn’t affect the life you choose. In reality, it’s our attitude that either draws people to us or pushes them away. The world is a mirror, you see what you want to see.

This book is full of great stories and one of the best is Clive Barker’s Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament. This is an odd story about a woman who almost dies due to a suicide attempt. She then discovers she can make men do anything she wants and kill people with a simple thought. This one is fascinating because it is told from two perspectives and there is a bizarre love story involved. This tale can be described as a journey as you watch Jacqueline change as she understands her power and you watch the men around her change as they figure out what she can do.  Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders is a speculative fiction anthology that is a must read.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

Press Release: Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson

Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson


Journey through the Heart of Terror

Listen.
They are calling to you.
Do you hear them?
They are the whispered echoes of your darkest fears.

From the pen of horror writer Paul F. Olson comes Whispered Echoes, a stunning dark fiction collection that will carry you down lonely twilight byways into a world of darkness and dread. It’s a world of forgotten roadways, sleepy small towns, deep forests, windswept waters—a place where the uneasy spirits of your imagination roam free and anything at all can happen.

• A man searches for answers at an abandoned lighthouse and uncovers an unspeakable past
• An unassuming tourist goes for a stroll and leaves devastation in his wake
• An ancient voice speaks from the depths of a long-forgotten cave
• A violent storm rages overhead, while the scratching sounds begin in the cellar below
• A man inherits the family talent, but what price does that legacy demand
• A return to the family homestead brings

Submission Call: Crescendo of Darkness Anthology, HorrorAddicts

Cover by Carmen Masloski

Crescendo of Darkness
Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” -Victor Hugo

There’s a funny thing that can soothe the soul after a rough day at work, can put you in the mood to take on any challenge, or can transport you back twenty years in time. It’s the most widely enjoyed mode of entertainment and the most used form of mood alteration. Music.

Your story must involve music in some way. This could take the form of a specific genre or song, but also the creation of music, an instrument, or even the lack of music. What would you do if you didn’t have your favorite music to calm your mind or to motivate you? What horrible deeds are prevented on a daily basis because someone listened to their favorite song? How many people are alive because someone heard the right song at the right time? What is the power of music?

Note: This is a HorrorAddicts.net anthology. Your story must be a Horror story and contain something emotionally, physically, or mentally horrifying.

Manuscript Format:
Font: either Courier or Times New Roman.
Double spaced, font 12 point.
Your manuscript must be in either DOC or RTF format.
1st page header to state: author name, mailing address, email address, and word count.
Following pages header to state: author name, story name, and page number.

In the body of the email:
100 words or less bio about you.
One sentence explaining the story attached. Your elevator pitch.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ids
Your website or blog

Subject of the email state:
CRESCENDO OF DARKNESS/Author Name/Story Title
Send to: horroraddicts@gmail.com

No previously printed work and no simultaneous submissions.

Deadline: October 31st, 2017, 11:59pm PST
Length: 2,000-5,000 words
Payment: $10.00 USD + digital contributor copy
Return time: Final decisions will not be made until AFTER the submission close date (10/31/17). You should expect a return within 3 months of the submission close date.

If you do not receive an email stating your manuscript was received within two weeks of submission, please send a polite query to horroraddicts@gmail.com

For any other questions, please send an email to horroraddicts@gmail.com

David’s Haunted Library: Kind Nepenthe and The Lucky Ones Died First


 

Deep in the wilderness of Humboldt County in Northern California lies a pot farm where a young woman named Rebecca wants to teach her five-year old daughter how to live off the land. Along with her boyfriend Calendula, they are helping a man named Coyote who is growing marijuana and is in need of help harvesting it. Calendula and Rebecca are hoping to live the hippie lifestyle and get enough money together from the harvest to buy their own farm.

It won’t be an easy task, living close by is Diesel Dan who helped start the farm and Coyote owes money to. Dan lost everything due to drugs and a stint in prison, but now he looks to make amends for his past and set an example for his soon to be born granddaughter. Coyote is strung out on pills and barely keeping his head above water and he wonders if he can come up with the money to pay everyone. To make matters more complicated the farm is home to an old legend and the ghost of a boy who is looking for a playmate.

Kind Nepenthe by Matthew Brockmeyer is a story about what happens when you dream big and reality slaps you in the face. All of the characters in this story make decisions that they hope will make their lives better but each decision comes with drastic consequences. For instance, we have Rebecca and Calendula who are working hard to get the money together for a farm but they have to deal with things like Coyote disappearing and threatening not to pay them and several other problems. They both get to the point where they wonder if all of this is worth it and their personalities start to change with Rebecca wondering if she ever cared for Calendula in the first place.

Another interesting character is Coyote who is regularly thinking of the wife and kids he left and you see how the drug lifestyle he has led has ruined him. I also enjoyed the relationship between Diesel Dan and his son. Dan is hoping he doesn’t follow in his footsteps as a drug dealer but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree even though Dan is trying hard to change. My favorite part of this book was watching all of the characters deal with the pressure of their lives falling apart.

Whether you like Kind Nepenthe depends on what you are looking for in a story. As a human drama, this book is excellent, I loved all the characters including the ones that do bad things such as Diesel Dan’s son. The book is sold as a ghost story though and it felt like that was an unnecessary part of the book. While there is a ghost and some elements of horror here it didn’t add anything to the plot and I felt that if you took out the supernatural parts it would have been better. All in all, though this was a really good read and I’m looking forward to more from Matthew Brockmeyer in the future.

In the English countryside lies the small town of Hambleton where tourists come to get away from the big city. Life changes for the village when an earthquake awakens a hungry and horny cryptid from a 60+ year hibernation. Now the monster is killing everyone in its path and the only ones who may be able to stop it are a group of potheads, a former Nazi, and a bigfoot hunter.

The story in The Lucky Ones Died First by Jack Bantry is a pretty simple one, a creature is on the loose and no one seems to be able to stop it. The descriptions I read this book called it splatterpunk and compared it to the work of Richard Laymon, who was one of my favorites. Going into it I thought that the whole point of this story was to be as gross and offensive as possible. The problem is that the book isn’t descriptive enough to be that offensive. The story has several characters and a monster that aren’t described in much detail. The plot moves along at the speed of a freight train and it’s over before you know it. It felt more like a detailed outline than a real story.

I’m not saying that The Lucky Ones Died First is a bad book, I’m just saying that it could have been a lot better if the characters were given more description. I didn’t know enough about anyone in this story to feel emotion for them. It kind of felt like the author was embarrassed and didn’t want to go into a lot of detail, so the sex and death scenes suffered for it. There was a lot of potential in this story and if it had another 100 pages or so it could have been a great horror tale.

The Lucky Ones Died First does have some fun moments though, for instance, the two closing scenes put a huge smile on my face. This book has the feel of a cheesy blood-soaked monster movie. If it was a movie I would have loved it but as a book, I wanted more. All this being said there were enough good ideas in this book to make me want to read whatever novel Jack Bantry comes up with next.

Press Release : BEHOLD! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders by Doug Murano

Crystal Lake Publishing and Doug Murano, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor of GUTTED: BEAUTIFUL HORROR STORIES, are proud to present BEHOLD! ODDITIES, CURIOSITIES AND UNDEFINABLE WONDERS.

Slide into the spaces between the ordinary. Embrace the odd. Indulge your curiosity. Surrender to wonder. Witness as the finest talents of our time bring you tales of the strangeness at the edges of existence.

Featuring:

Clive Barker, John Langan, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Erinn Kemper, John F.D. Taff, Patrick Freivald, Lucy Snyder, Brian Hodge, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Coake, Sarah Read, and Richard Thomas.

With a foreword by Josh Malerman.

 

Press Release: Florida Gothic by Mitzi Szereto

Press Release: Florida Gothic by Mitzi Szereto

 

FLORIDA GOTHIC by Mitzi Szereto

Stuck in a twilight world between life and death…

A hit-and-run driver leaves Ernesto Martinez to die by a Miami canal. Then an alligator comes along to finish the job.

Being dead gives Ernesto plenty of time to think. He thinks about his wife, taken from him too soon by illness. He thinks about his daughter, the victim of a drunk driver. He thinks about his death as he watches his body slowly decompose.

Most of all, he thinks about injustice.

The meth head ex-con living in the Everglades. The judge enjoying retirement on the Gulf Coast. The son of a Colombian drug kingpin partying in South Beach. These men care nothing for the pain they’ve caused. But they’ll soon know what it is to feel pain.

Set against the sweltering bug-infested backdrop of South Florida, Florida Gothic weaves a darkly unnerving and visceral tale of sex, drugs, crime and vengeance.
 

“Mitzi Szereto’s dark night of the soul is one wild, soul-blasting old mother of a trip, plus maggots, cockroaches, and cocaine. Solid, slippery, bug-eyed fun.”—Peter Straub, Interior Darkness: Selected Stories

(Book #1 in The “Gothic” Series of standalone horror novels from Mitzi Szereto.)

Buy links:
Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Florida-Gothic-Book-1-ebook/dp/B06ZZ6QCXN/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Florida-Gothic-Book-1-ebook/dp/B06ZZ6QCXN/

About the author:
Mitzi Szereto (http://mitziszereto.com) is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog of humorous essays at Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (http://mitziszereto.com/blog) and a web TV channel Mitzi TV (http://mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers the “quirky” side of London, England. Her books include Oysters and Pearls: Collected Stories;Phantom: The Immortal (co-authored with Ashley Lister); Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)—the cozy mystery/satire series co-authored with celebrity author bear Teddy Tedaloo; Love, Lust and Zombies; The Wilde Passions of Dorian GrayPride and Prejudice: Hidden LustsDying for It: Tales of Sex and DeathThrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire and Getting Even: Revenge Stories. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She divides her time between the Pacific Northwest and the UK.

David’s Haunted Library: Whispered Echos and The Devil’s Children

We all have something we’re scared of. In the back of our heads, we hear a little voice that reminds us about our darkest fears. It’s like a Whispered Echo that just repeats itself over and over again. Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson is an anthology that looks at things that scare us so much that we never forget it. This book contains 12 stories set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula showing it as a place where strange things happen.

What’s interesting about this anthology is that the stories are presented in chronological order by the dates that were written. The first story was originally published in 1983 and the last one was written this year. So what you have in this book are stories from a horror writer who’s writing improves a little with each tale told. You also get a good look at what goes on in the mind of Paul Olson and how he has evolved as a horror writer.

Mr. Olson has a few different themes that he works with in this book. One of these themes is individuality. In a story called The Visitor, a man visits the town of Patterson Falls every year in Autumn and when he does, someone gets hurt. The people in town finally get fed up with this routine and decide to confront him but they don’t get the results they are looking for. This same theme comes into play in two other stories in the book with a man suffering the consequences of not being like everyone else.

My favorite story in this book is They Came From The Suburbs. You could call this a zombie story but its a little more complex than that. David Finley works in a mall and notices that the same people show us every day and seem to mindlessly wonder the mall and shop. He calls them the quiet ones but he soon finds out that if they can’t consume anything there will be hell to pay. I love the message about how some people go through life blindly doing things having no real life at all and how it affects others. This was a perfect little horror tale that had a Twilight Zone feel to it.

Another good story here was Bloodybones which includes ghosts, a serial killer and a mystery. What I liked most about this story is the descriptions of the setting. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is as much a character here as the people in it and I loved reading the description of an area that I’m familiar with. Olson’s using of Michigan and Wisconsin in his stories reminds me a little of how Stephen King uses Maine in his stories.

Whispered Echoes could be looked at as a philosophy book disguised as a horror anthology. Paul Olson writes about staying true to yourself, loyalty, love and not letting the past define you. These themes are all presented in short horror stories that pack a punch. This is the kind of book that young horror writers should read because it shows that good horror can deliver a  message and your writing will get better over the decades if you stick with it.

Harry and Adam grew up together in a small New England town. They were never the most popular kids in school but they had a good time watching horror movies, drinking alcohol, exploring abandoned buildings and hunting imaginary demons. Flash forward to the present, life is not going well for either person and they decide to move back to their old hometown to relive their childhood. When they get there they discover that something strange is going on in their old stomping grounds.

People are seeing ghosts, Adam is having visions of his old teenage girlfriend who has been missing for 13 years and a local historian has sealed off a newly discovered tunnel that may have the answers to some old mysteries. We soon find out the demons that Harry and Adam hunted may have been real and they may be the only ones who can stop these strange happenings. As Halloween night rolls around, Harry and Adam put a plan into action to stop the evil that is plaguing their town.

The Devil’s Children by Benjamin Blake is the kind of book that I love reading. It’s a simple horror story about a couple of outcasts who notice something strange is going on and realize that they are the only ones who can stop it. I love the characters in this book, Adam and Harry reminded me of a couple of people I knew in high school and the way they both changed by the end of the book showed that they had a lot more depth than your average character in a horror novel. I also like how the story is told from the present with flashbacks showing how they use to be in the past. The one thing I didn’t like about the book is that it seemed to take a long time to get into the action of the story. While I liked the characters enough to keep reading, it could have used a few more scares in the first half of the book. The Devil’s Children is sort of a mixed bag but it has enough good parts to make it worth your time. Despite what I didn’t like about this book, I’m still looking forward to what else Benjamin Blake comes up with in the future.