Writer of Horror Fiction

Archive for March, 2012

Review of “Rise” by Gareth Wood

Rise was written as a blog online originally and as the author mentions in the prolog, he wrote it as the days passed in 2004-2005 when the story takes place. He paid attention to the weather patterns, studied the environments he was leading his characters through, etc. So essentially, this book was fairly early to the zombie writing party-before the onslaught of books started showing up in places like Amazon and on bookshelves at bookstores. Of course, with its introduction via Permuted Press to a wider audience in 2012, it comes during the thick of things-when journal type tales of the apocalypse have been done on a regular basis over the past six or so years, along with a wide array of other first person and third person zombie sagas. Credit to the author for crafting this piece before so many others had taken a swipe at the genre-I wish I had read it when it had originally come out because I am sure it would have felt truly fresh and new at that time.
Like other journal format tales, this story goes through the daily struggles of a survivor (this time a man named Brian who lives in western Canada) from just before until almost a year after the dead have risen. The journey we are treated to takes us on a wandering path where Brian and his sister meet up with other survivors, avoid the undead, try to gather supplies, avoid other desperate humans, interact with the military, go on rescue missions, and just try to cope with a world turned upside down. Journal writing gives an author an opportunity to detail out all the minor details that many other tales would leave out simply because they tend to focus on the elements that move the story forward at every step of the way. Journals do this too, but the whole idea seems to more or less be focused on giving you a real flavor of how people cope, which requires getting down to the nitty gritty.
Most of my criticisms of this tale would stem from the journal format and not the author’s writing, which is solid and keeps things moving. One of the things that seem almost impossible to do with this format is allowing the reader to get into the moment with the characters on the page. This happens because there is virtually no dialogue-nothing that anchors the action and relationships in the present moment. Almost always, the story is being written a day, or even several days, after the events being chronicled have occurred. This author, like others, tends to announce critical details in the first sentence of every new entry, which allows you to know, in vague terms, what is about to happen on the next few pages of the story, and in the next few days of the lives of the characters. Journal entries lack tension, though they provide you with a detailed picture of events. This is the blessing and the curse of this writing format.
If there was a genuine criticism that I have for this tale, unrelated to the journal format, is the fact that the story seems to carry on beyond its natural ending point through several more adventures of the main character. My guess is that in the original writing of the blog, the author was trying to determine a stopping point and picked one at a place where there is a relative lull in action and perhaps when he grew tired with relating the saga. With that said, the story could have stopped much earlier, or could have carried on for months and even years beyond the point where things are concluded-through the course of the apocalypse. I suppose that is another challenge related to journaling; the days of your life are not set up in neat, tidy condensed tales that will fit perfectly into a book-like story. Instead, it moves on, with different story lines always happening and intertwining at all times. In essence, this story could have gone on for another hundred pages or more, and could have ended fifty plus pages earlier, with the same result.
I don’t intend for my criticism of the journal format to speak as a negative about the authors writing capability-he has written an entertaining story in a format that is challenging, to say the least. It kept me reading from start to finish and I was definitely entertained. Rise is a solid entry into the zombie genre, and I hope to see more (perhaps in another format) from this author.

Rise can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Gareth-Wood/dp/1618680102/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332714817&sr=1-2

Zombie: The Other Fright Meat is now on Amazon!

Well, it didn’t take long for this one to make its way over from Createspace over to Amazon.  Since Amazon is easier to deal with as far as ordering is concerned, please check this book out there.  As I have mentioned before, it contains one of my favorite short stories I have ever written, Cicada.  It is a story about generations that live before, during, and after the zombie apocalypse, told in relation to the appearance of Cicadas-a particular species that comes about every 17 years.  It is a tale that speaks of generations-fathers to sons, and how life begins anew, even when there is death all around you.

So please check out Zombie: The Other Fright Meat, which also contains stories from a great list of other authors who love to write traditional tales of zombies, when so many other monsters are “selling out” and going out and doing teen romances and such.   Just click on the cover image to head on over to Amazon.  Thanks!

Zombie: The Other Fright Meat-An anthology of zombie tales, has been released on Createspace

Norgus Press has released an anthology that I have been anticipating for quite some time now, because it contains one of my favorite tales of the undead that I’ve ever written.  Zombie: The Other Fright Meat contains a wide assortment of tradition zombie tales…mainly in response to other well known monster types going all Hollywood.

Here is the description:

You can’t live with ’em…
At least not without getting a chunk bitten out of ya.
But we here at NorGus can’t live without ’em!
And who’d want to?
In a world where vampires sparkle in the sun instead of roasting like pigs at a barbeque
and werewolves run around with capri pants and washboard abs,
It’s nice that we can fall back on zombies to actually be monsters!

I am happy that my story, Cicada, has found a home in this anthology.  I wrote this tale with no plans for it to get published originally.  It was one I wrote as one of my first short stories about zombies that stood separate from my novels, and it was one I felt compelled to write.  The basic gist of my tale is that the world-and life-runs in cycles, and cicadas, as insects that come up out of the ground on a specific schedule with numerous years between each visit, would serve as a way to ‘check in’ on the world alongside them.  The particular Cicada’s that I write about are the ones that appear where I live, in Southwest Ohio, and they appear once very seventeen years.  With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to show how the human race goes from living in normal times to living at the very dawn of the zombie apocalypse, to years later, when much of the human race has been wiped out, and then again, when the human race is fighting its way back to dominance over the dead.  The story shows brief moments in time, and tracks different generations of the same family, fathers to sons, and how they cope with death, life, and rebirth, just as the cicadas do, time after time.

Again, this story has always been one I have been very fond of, and am proud that it resides in this anthology.  So please check it out…either over on Createspace or when it hits Amazon here in the next couple of weeks.  Just click on the cover art to head on over to Createspace to order your copy.  Thanks!

Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space is now available on Amazon!

I’m proud to announce that Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 From Outer Space has been released and is available over on Amazon.  This book details those first plans where the aliens tried to prevent humanity from destroying the universe before their infamous raising of the dead experiment documented in the movie from Ed Wood Jr., Plan 9 From Outer Space.  Tony Schaab has brought together a bunch of fantastic authors to tell the tales that record our interactions with the alien beings who are fearful we will invent the substance that has the power to ignite the sun and destroy us all.  Certainly, their efforts with Plan 9 were a miserable failure, but what came before?  What attempts did they make in our past to try and curb our lust for violence and destruction?

Check out Before Plan 9, which includes my retelling of the Odyssey, aka Plan 1.  Just click on the book cover to be directed over to Amazon to get your copy today.  Oh, and make sure you keep watching the skies, because the aliens are sure to return!

Here is the table of contents of this very fun and exciting new book:

Plan Zero from the Mesozoic Era by Tony Schaab
Plan 1 from the Lesser-Heralded Parts of The Odyssey by Patrick D’Orazio
Plan 2 from Ancient Egypt by D.A. Chaney
Plan 3 from the Middle Ages of Hamelin by Greg Carter
Plan 4 from the Clockwork Country by Tonia Brown
Plan 5 from the Depressing Depression by David Dunwoody
Plan 6 from the Nazi Regime by Rob Silvera
Plan 7 from Sin City by Jonathan Maberry
Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 1 by Craig DiLouie
Plan 8 from the Fantastic Fifties, Phase 2 by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty

Review of Alien Apocalypse-The Storm by Dean Giles

Alien Apocalypse-The Storm is a short story that takes place just as a comet is cutting a close path near the earth. Something has been hanging out on the comet, and comes down to earth, covering everything with a green mold like growth that devours everything living in its path. The story splits perspectives between Leon, a father imprisoned for manslaughter and just about to fulfill his term, and his son, Elliot, who is living with his aunt and uncle, waiting for his dad to be released. Leon is stuck in solitary confinement during the initial landing of the green growth that carves a swath of destruction through the prison. Only the prison guard who comes into his cell and a woman who is a clerk at the prison who hid in locker manage to avoid the mayhem. Elliot, living on a remote farm, also escapes the first wave of destruction, and the hunt is on for Leon, now freed from prison, to get to his son in time before everything is destroyed.
This is a fast paced, nicely done apocalyptic short story, with a promise for more to come from the author. For a brief tale, Leon, the father, is developed nicely as a character you can appreciate and the author tosses some nice twists into a tale whose main villain is a moss-like substance. Overall, plenty of fun, and I will be interested to see where Dean Giles takes things from here.

Alien Apocalypse-The Storm can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Apocalypse-The-Storm-ebook/dp/B005JE2W7Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1331961140&sr=1-1 

Dark Dispatches is now available on Amazon!

I’m pretty excited about a newly release anthology that one of my short stories appears in.  I had the opportunity to write a story that was a bit different for me, though at the same time, still shared a bit of DNA with many of the other stories I’ve written over the years.  This particular one was originally intended for another anthology, and fit the it to a T.  Unfortunately, before that particular anthology got very far, it was cancelled by the publisher.  I was ‘stuck’ with this story at that point, which was unfortunate, because I thought it was one of my better tales.  It was my effort at writing a war story set in the future, but having some very traditional horror elements to it-a particular menace that I had never written a story about before, and was a new challenge for me.  So when I heard about Static Movement producing an anthology entitled Dark Dispatches, which wanted tales of war, real or imagined, here on Earth or elsewhere, in any time period–past, present or future, I knew my story might have a second life.  So I submitted my tale, entitled “One Shot, One Kill”, and George Wilhite, the editor, responded within a couple of days, snatching it up.

And now this tale has been released to Amazon, and I am asking you to check it out.  I’m not sure how Static Movement works on ebooks, but the paperback version is now available.  Keep an eye on the link for further information on the kindle release, and probably over on smashwords for other ebook releases.

I would ask that you consider getting a copy of this book in paperback-a slew of war stories that contain supernatural, alien, and plain old human warriors-all with compelling story lines.  I have had the privilege of reading one of the other tales in this book already, by Richard Marsden, and I can tell you that it is excellent.  Well worth the price of admission for these two tales alone…but there are many, many more!

So go ahead: click the picture, and head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy of Dark Dispatches.  Thanks!