As I mentioned two weeks ago, I’m finishing up edits and getting ready to publish my short story about a young man obsessed with flies. I’m hoping to have it out in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here is a draft of a cover I came up with.
Thoughts? Especially about the fact that I put “A Short Story” on the covers of all my shorts. I want to be as upfront as possible (even though it’s also in the product description) but am I losing potential readers before they even get to the product description?
What does the future hold?
Next Friday, as part of his Dastardly Bastards book tour via Penumbra Publishing, I’ll be posting my “Seven Questions with Horror Writer Edward Lorn.” As I’m writing this, I’ve just received his answers, and there are some good ones. A good peek into a horror writer’s mind. You might be surprised.
But without further ado…
A bit of trivia about my family. My mother often reads the books I review here on my blog. Don’t be too surprised. As I’ve mentioned before, if memory serves me correctly, she was the one who gave me my first Stephen King book. Followed by Koontz and Saul.
Having said that, I’m probably going to tell my mother she probably shouldn’t read these two collections. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like them. But these are not the fun-but-scary Stephen King stories that you hand off to the kiddies when you think they’re old enough. In the case of Ad Nauseum, there are four words on the back cover of the book: “Exotic, Erotic, Gruesome & Gory.” And in Axel Howerton’s collection, well, he has a story called “Henry Rollins and the Better Butter Bacon Burger.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So NOW without further ado…
From Amazon: Exotic, Erotic, Gruesome and Gory! What if your Muse really was a twisted bitch, and she lived in your spare bedroom? And how far would you go to improve your station in life? In this premiere collection by C.W. LaSart, you will find 13 gruesome tales of the macabre, from a simpleton who forms an unnatural obsession with his own backyard to a lonely woman whose suitor is not heaven-sent. These stories, ranging from the supernatural to the darkness that lives within the human heart, are sure to send a chill down your spine and a flush to your face. Certain to disturb and delight, Ad Nauseam is a walk through the twisted imagination of one of horror’s rising stars.
I picked up Ad Nauseam when I was at the World Horror Convention in March. I had limited funds for buying books and had met Caren at the conference (as well as hearing one of the stories at a reading). She seemed pretty cool, so it seemed like one of the right ones to spend my money on. And besides, I couldn’t resist that cover. Kudos to Whendy Effendy and Stan Swanson.
Then there’s the content inside the cover.
“Exotic, Erotic, Gruesome & Gory.” the description reads.
Yup, that about covers most of them. These are the stories from the dark side, the R-rated and above category. I’ve written a couple like them myself in my time, but I ended up putting them under my more nefarious pseudonyms, partially because they came from somewhere I keep mostly hidden and partially because… well, I have my mom to think about 🙂
LaSart is apparently not as concerned about her mother.
Reading Ad Nauseam, there were many moments when I found myself cringing a little at the gore, or per the book description’s predictions, blushing a little at the more erotic content.
However, beyond the splatter and the sperm (yup, I said it), each story kept me hooked until the end. LaSart has a strong voice and manages great tension in her stories. Things happen quickly and usually end up bad (well, for at least one of the characters in the story).
A few standouts:
“Micah’s Muse” about a writer struggling to get his big break. Things turn around for him when he meets an old woman going by the name of “Muse,” but there is a definite price to this success. [Pretty serious “eww” factor]
“Carnality” about a jealous friend who is given an invitation to an after-hours night club by the strange proprietor of a pawn shop with just one warning: “Don’t partake of the flesh.” Nice twist at the end. [Blush and “eww” factor]
“Lunch Date with Loa Loa” about a wildlife photographer who wakes up one morning to see a small white worm just under the surface of his eye. Apparently he didn’t just bring home pictures from Africa. [Probably the tamest of the 13 stories, but a good “eww” moment at the end]
My only disappointment was “Bone Phone,” a story about a editor/publisher who receives a mistaken package containing a… you guessed it… Bone Phone. I can’t go into too many details here without giving up spoilers, but I will just say that it started out with great promise and then turned kind of gimmicky at the end. It felt more like an inside joke between writers when I was hoping to see it go somewhere else. If you want the spoilers, comment below and I’ll respond.
Overall, though, if “Exotic, Erotic, Gruesome & Gory” appeal to you, you won’t be disappointed by Ad Nauseam: 13 Tales of Extreme Horror. I certainly wasn’t.
And now for Living Dead at Zigfreidt and Roy by Axel Howerton.
From Amazon: A lone figure stumbles in from the dark, telling tales of terror and destruction… warning of the beginning of the end. The living have been twisted beyond recognition, into foul, demented creatures of fury and depravity. The dead are rising to join them. And the last diner at the end of the world is almost out of coffee…
The Dead are on the rampage in Las Vegas. A Pirate sails the halls of an uptown office building. An irate punk rocker visits a southern-fried eatery and gets nothing that he ordered. Chupacabras rain down guts and gravitas in West Texas. A janitor for the Galactic Empire goes job hunting. New and previously published stories from one of today’s rising stars of genre fiction, Axel Howerton, author of HOT SINATRA and co-founder of the annual Coffin Hop online horror extravaganza.
Of the five stories in this collection, the title story comes in the longest at about 19 pages.
I don’t know much about zombies outside of cinema (which I love). This is actually my first zombie short story (outside of the occasional flash fiction pieces in the blogosphere). But even with my limited knowledge, I’m pretty sure there aren’t many stories that have tigers in them, let alone the tigers of the real life ambiguously gay duo (SNL, anyone?)
Or wait, he said Zigreidt and Roy. He must be talking about someone else 🙂
In addition to not reading much, outside of a haiku, I haven’t written anything zombie themed either. I’ve only dabbled in the more visceral side of horror writing, and it’s not easy. How does one depict what a flesh-eating zombie apocalypse would look, sound, smell (and even taste) like?
I think Howerton did it just about right. The story starts when an old cowboy stumbles into a diner, bloody and with a story to tell in his own leisurely fashion while ambulances and police cars race past outside the windows.
Then the proverbial shit really hits the fan.
I’ve heard one minor criticism of this story in that there seems to be a disparity in something about the cowboy’s character from the beginning to the end of the story (again, if you want to know the spoiler, comment below), but while I had a couple moments of thinking this as well, I think that when it comes to Axel Howerton’s character creations, you can’t really expect to expect anything. And this aspect of his voice breathes into almost all of the characters in his stories.
For a cinematic reference, I feel like many of them would fit well in movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Natural Born Killers.” Maybe a Coen Brothers. I couldn’t help thinking of Sam Elliot from “The Big Lebowski” in a couple of points of Living Dead. Howerton’s characters would border on caricature if they weren’t so damned real to so many extents.
Beyond the title story, I had already read (and chuckled at) Henry Rollins and the Better Butter Bacon Burger at his blog. It’s an absurd, enjoyable, quick ride with the title character never actually named. You just have to know… because the other characters don’t.
I also read Rosie’s Chicken and Biscuits (aren’t the titles great?) at his blog, and again, well-developed, interesting characters who find themselves in a serious shitstorm. (I usually don’t swear this much on my blog. These two must be a bad influence). And this particular one involves a pretty scary version of the mythical chupacabra.
My least favorite (but still entertaining) story was “Dark Flush of the Sith,” about the janitor for the Galactic Empire interviewing for a job. I dunno’. Some funny moments, but you kind of have to be a Star Wars nerd to truly enjoy it, I think. Otherwise, it just felt a little silly, for lack of a better word. I like Star Wars, but the inclusion of this story felt a little out of character given the rest.
But that’s just a minor nick for me. Otherwise, it’s a helluva handful of rides for just 99 cents.
What do I want from you?
Have you read either of these? Your thoughts?
As always, links to your blogs are welcome.
Don’t forget to check back next Friday for Seven Questions with Horror Writer Edward Lorn.
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