Baker’s Dozen Edited by Candace Nola

I had the immense pleasure of reading Baker’s Dozen in advance to write a blurb for the anthology. It seemed only natural that I would also be writing a review of the collection now that the release date is looming on the near horizon. Rarely has a themed anthology come together so perfectly in capturing a motif and carrying it through all of the component pieces included. There is no question that Baker’s Dozen is overall one of the best anthologies I’ll have the pleasure of reading. Paraphrasing what I said in my blurb, this is a delicious concoction, albeit neither safe nor healthy. If you’re looking for those qualities, you’re in the wrong place.
It would have been a challenge, bringing this assortment of spectacularly imaginative authors together and compiling an anthology that wasn’t worth reading; there’s no doubt that Candace Nola deserves a great deal of credit for editing this volume, though. Anthologies are only as good as the editor who brings them together, and there’s no question that this collection was in excellent hands from the beginning.
Christine Morgan kicks it all off with the period piece, Pretzels of God, spinning a tale of jealousy and bitterness, of sacred vows broken most violently and unpredictably.
Apple Pie & Diamond Eyes by Chris Miller tells the story of an aptly-named Karen being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately, Karen has a passel of teenage girls in tow, as a trio of criminals gets their just desserts in a truly literal sense.
Ruthann Jagge’s The Piebird introduces us to Flora Corolla, so desperate to bring pride to her family’s bakery that she’ll accept guidance from the most unlikely and untrustworthy source.
Next Best Baker by Jeff Strand is perversely hilarious. A man after my own heart, I feel like he watches cooking and baking competitions the same way I do, imagining the worst conceivable surprise ingredients being tossed into the mix and laughing as he envisions it all playing out. I assure you that this is no baking competition for the faint of heart.
Aron Beauregard hits us with A Muffin In The Oven, and he hits us hard. The announcement of a friend’s pregnancy–an event that should be full of warmth and cheer–turns sour and horrific as the facts surrounding the paternity come to light.
Carver Pike’s Blueberry Hill is a tale of bullying, teenage cruelty, revenge, and witchcraft. This one is, without a doubt, the hardest story to read, in my opinion. Hillary Hightower doesn’t deserve any of the terrible things that happen to her, but when seeking retribution, one should probably be careful what they wish for. This story has the “dig two graves” adage on full display.
They Are Always Watching is equal parts sad and terrifying, and Patrick C. Harrison, III leans into both qualities heavily. A daughter struggling with her mother’s declining mental capacity is forced to face the truth of what seems like little more than her debilitated mother’s fevered mind.
My Lil’ Cupcake by Lee Franklin floats us through a dysfunctional marriage and one woman’s desire to find freedom from the domineering, cruel, and awful men in her life. The method by which Lindsey seeks her emancipation is something visceral to behold.
Kenzie Jennings provides us with the worst Florida has to offer in Just A Local Thing. A family on vacation finds themselves at the mercy of the perverse whims of a seemingly prescient baker.
Of Dough And Cinnamon brings us heartbreak and satisfying vengeance as Daniel Volpe tells the story of a widower who experiences one more loss than he can handle.
Rowland Bercy Jr. introduces us to the most unlikely cryptid in Homegrown Comeuppance. A fierce rivalry between two bakers reaches a horrific conclusion that just might spell the end for not only those involved but also the innocent residents of a Brazilian town.
Candace Nola showcases not only her editorial skills with Baker’s Dozen but her skill as a writer as well. County Contest provides us with a glimpse of a small business still struggling to recapture the success once known when Horace’s wife was still around. As a new librarian arrives in town, it seems like her sole purpose in life is to tear down everyone around her with sarcasm and bitterness. But maybe that bitterness is just what the recipe calls for when it’s time to unveil a new flavor.
Death, And A Donut by Michael Ennenbach is a most peculiar yet beautiful love story, built on a substrate of random, wanton bloodshed and disorder. A cacophony of disaster paves the way through this narrative, leading us to a surprisingly touching conclusion.
You can’t go wrong with a single piece in this collection, and I recommend dedicating some time to taking in the fantastic illustrations that accompany the text. This whole volume was painstakingly assembled with obvious love and care like the best recipes always are.

https://www.uncomfortablydark.com

This Post May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding…Or It May Cause You To Buy It, At Least

If you haven’t already heard about May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding, this post is for you. If you’ve heard about my new book, but you don’t know whether it’s something you’re interested in, this post is also for you. Essentially, this post is for anyone and everyone.
Tomorrow morning, August 18th, my second collection of short fiction becomes available in digital formats at http://www.godless.com for the low price of $2.99, which is $1 cheaper than it’ll be in digital format when it goes live on Amazon on Friday, August 20th. It will also be available in paperback on August 20th for the low price of only $8.99.
Check out this cover, designed by the fantastic Drew Stepek.

That design alone should be enough to whet your appetite. If you’re one of those style over substance sorts, that cover layout should be all it takes to convince you that you need this in your collection.
Of course, you’re in for more than a fancy-looking cover when you pick up a copy of this book.
Not only does this collection include the sleeper hit, Horseplay, from Godless, but it contains nine additional short stories that are sure to make my readers uncomfortable as often as it entertains them. Not only that, but I have made certain to include a brief note that details the inspiration behind each of these tales of terror and tribulation. Some of these notes are more worthwhile than others, but I wanted you–my readers–to know me a little better when you came out of the experience than you might have on your way in.
Here’s the description from the back cover of the paperback edition:

I didn’t know how to react when Carver Pike provided me with what I must admit is likely to be the best blurb I could ever hope to receive. Any comparison to a writer of Gaiman’s caliber is going to be flattering–and also impossible to live up to. I’m going to hope that I don’t let my readers down when I turn out to be nowhere near the author Neil Gaiman happens to be.
Adrian Ludens not only provided a fantastic blurb, but his keen eyes also caught little bits and pieces of editing that had slipped through the cracks along the way. After staring at the same stories for so long, one becomes inured to faults and flaws that might ruin the tone of a story. It’s a sort of editing blindness that creeps in and destroys otherwise fantastic manuscripts. Had it not been for Mr. Ludens taking the time to read the stories with a critical eye, I might have missed a handful of mismatched tenses and incorrect words.

You can, of course, purchase this title from http://www.godless.com or through the Godless app tomorrow. The link is below:

You can also hold out until Friday the 20th, to pick up a copy at the following link on http://www.amazon.com

Howls From Hell: A Horror Anthology from HOWL Society Press

Howls From Hell was a thoroughly refreshing anthology to read. Filled, as it was, with names largely unfamiliar to me from my extensive reading, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this ARC of the book.
The stories are as diverse as a horror anthology can be, with tales that entertain, unsettle, or force the reader to question what they’ve just read.
The foreword provided by Grady Hendrix took me back to my teens in a way I enjoyed. Though I must admit that my friends and I never played a game quite like “rehash” and I’m not sure I could have convinced anyone that it was a game worth playing, no matter how hard I might have tried. The theme of that foreword is one many–perhaps all–horror fans will find familiar, the way the films and literature of our youth provide us comfort as adulthood takes its toll, and we often find ourselves returning to the unconventional things that help to reinvigorate us and, at least temporarily, return us to those golden years of our youth.
It was no surprise, after reading that, to find the fantastic selections collected in this anthology. These were horror stories written by those who deeply and unabashedly adore horror in the way one does when it was one of their first loves.
There isn’t a bad story to be found in this book, but there were some that stood out more for me than others, so I’ll focus on them.
The infernally-oriented urban fantasy of J. W. Donley’s “The Pigeon Lied” paints a fascinating picture of a Seattle underground that puts the underground music scene there to shame.
“She’s Taken Away” by Shane Hawk is an entertaining and disturbing take on the evil twin tale.
The surreal, horrific folklore underlying Solomon Forse’s “Gooseberry Bramble” reminded me of the late 19th and early 20th-century horror stories of the American gothic authors.
“Possess and Serve” by Christopher O’Halloran blends a bit of Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report” with Richard K. Morgan’s “Altered Carbon” to produce a near-future mystery/suspense tale that kept me focused on the screen of my tablet until the end.
Finally, “It Gets In Your Eyes” by Joseph Andre Thomas showcases an eye infection from hell…something I found personally disturbing because I’ve got a bit of a phobia centered around eyes and injuries associated with the eyes.
These were just my favorites, your favorites might be different. You’ll have to read the book to find out for yourself.

Active Kickstarter Campaigns I Support

The first project I’ll recommend here is an upcoming comic/graphic novel from Madeleine Holly-Rosing. It’s a continuation of her Boston Metaphysical Society series of graphic novels.

You have until April 29th to support this project.

Next up is a no-brainer for those who know me. Joel Hodgson is working to bring fans of MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000, for the uninitiated) a 13th season. There was no way I could avoid supporting this project.

You have until May 7th to support this project.

And, finally, from Weird Little Worlds Press, we have the Humans Are the Problem horror anthology. Not only can you support this project, and help to make it the best anthology it can be, the publisher is also open for submissions through May 15th. I’m also including the link to their submission page below the link to the Kickstarter campaign, just in case I have any interested authors viewing my blog. I’ve been considering submitting something as well.

You have until May 8th to support this project.

Additionally, there’s an Indiegogo campaign I’d like to see more horror fans supporting. I was the first one to back this project and I hope to see them reach their goal well ahead of the conclusion in 25 days.

I have been a fan of the Friday the 13th franchise since before I was technically allowed to watch the movies. These films, along with other slasher fare, had a profound influence on me as I was growing up. No, that doesn’t mean I slaughtered my way through dozens of scantily clad camp counselors…just that I developed a deep and lasting love for the slasher genre as a whole, in large part due to the Friday the 13th films.

This project is meant to provide a connection between the 8th and 9th installments of the Friday the 13th story. As many of you are aware, the film series, prior to Jason Goes To Hell, built from one installment to the next, often directly following the previous movie. That changed with the release of the ninth movie, to some extent because of issues with the rights to the Friday the 13th name vs. rights to the character of Jason Voorhees. This movie is intended to help smooth out that transition. Please find it in your heart to support Voorhees: Night Of the Beast.

The link follows:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/voorhees-night-of-the-beast-movie/x/26176655#/

And Hell Followed: An Anthology

I hate trying to review anthologies.

Most of the time, I’ll rate them and leave it at that, but it also means I’m left with a lot of my reading material never receiving the review it deserves. I’m going to try to get better about that.

Death’s Head Press decided the Christian apocalypse–as popularized by The Book of Revelation, that hallucinatory bit of end times fan fiction John the Revelator got included in the Bible–would make for a fitting topic. They weren’t wrong.

It’s an uneven anthology, but it’s challenging to find one that maintains a certain tone throughout, so that’s not a fault. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature…so to speak. Whatever sort of horror you might be in the mood for, there’s something in this book for you.

We’ve got stories that are heartbreaking and strangely touching like Chris Miller’s Behind Blue Eyes and Godless World by Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason (The Sisters of Slaughter).

There’s sacrilegious, irreverent humor in Christine Morgan’s Censered, K. Trap Jones’s Ham and Pudge, and Hell Paso by C. Derick Miller.

There are unique, takes on the apocalypse or the interpretation of Revelations like those found in Apocalypse…Meh by John Wayne Comunale and Wrath James White’s Horse.

That’s not even half the contents of this anthology. As I said, there’s a little something for everyone. If you’re not opposed to a little bit of heresy and a whole lot of hell on Earth, I absolutely recommend this anthology.

Bloodsaints: Rawspense for a Cause

A good number of months ago, a fellow author and friend of mine discussed with me the possibility of getting a handful of horror authors together for the purpose of assembling an anthology with the express purpose of raising money for COVID-19 relief.

We’ve all suffered during this pandemic in various ways, large and small…some far more than others. We wanted to do something that might help in some small way.

After a couple more months, this friend of mine settled on UNICEF as the charity we’d donate the proceeds to, as the most likely to provide a real, tangible benefit.

A couple of months later, he began working with Becky Narron of Terror Tract Publishing LLC for cover design and the actual publication of the anthology.

And here we are today, with the release hitting the Kindle store only a little over half a year after the first conversations began taking place.

Pick up a copy. Enjoy the stories. Find comfort in knowing that your purchase helps to support a worthy cause.

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano & D. Alexander Ward

I’m copying over some reviews of titles I’d written up in 2018 and earlier, just in case these titles are new for other people.

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories is a fascinating anthology of short fiction from a variety of diverse authors…providing an assortment that varies in both style and substance to a huge extent.
I don’t know that a lot of these stories are “horror” in the sense that some of you might expect, but they are quite deeply unsettling as a whole. Many of what you’ll find are examples of the horror that we carry within us or manifest internally, like in the unexpected choose-your-own-adventure tale ‘A Haunted House Is a Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken’ provided by Paul Tremblay or the devastating ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ by Lisa Mannetti.
Clive Barker’s ‘Coming To Grief’ was my personal favorite, and a more subtle tale than a lot of his short fiction. Strangely enough, because I normally love his short fiction, my least favorite story was ‘The Problem of Susan’ by Neil Gaiman, a dark and perverse take on the world of Narnia…it wasn’t necessarily a bad story in any way, but it felt like the weakest inclusion.
I definitely recommend this book, especially if you’re looking to discover new authors you might not have already been familiar with.