Inkshares Interview - G.A. Finocchiaro & THE KNIGHTMARES

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9 geek-culture loving, bantering punk kids are pitted against an evil, sexy succubus from another dimension and her demented plans for revenge. There are ghosts and pirate treasure and alien gods and alchemy and exorcisms and lots of weird stuff too.

Who is G.A. Finocchiaro and what's THE KNIGHTMARES all about?

G.A. Finocchiaro is a single 37 year old Creative Director and writer living in Philadelphia, PA. Born to be a storyteller and never one to pass up a fun analogy, G writes through the lens of the strange, like Joe Dante and John Landis had a brainchild nine months after they invited Don Coscarelli over for a threesome (yeah, he went there). An oddball lover of all things geek, G hopes to inspire as he was inspired for the next generation of genre fans to come.

THE KNIGHTMARES is about 9 geek-culture loving, bantering punk kids that are pitted against an evil, sexy succubus from another dimension and her demented plans for resurrecting her long lost warlord lover. At its heart, The Knightmares is a story about loyalty and friendship, and the kind of crazy inside jokes that develop within those kinds of close knit circles. There just happens to be this crazy villainess named Nexus who comes in and ruins the party, along with her cloaked acolyte minions, a horde of mercenary werewolves, and a lunatic with a possessed stuffed toy elephant.

Where did you get this idea, and what made it worth developing for you?

I was inspired by my friends back in college, and the crazy things that we experienced together. Each character was loosely based on someone I know. I’ve always felt that writers and artists should create things they themselves would enjoy, and so THE KNIGHTMARES grew from there. I am a huge fan of the supernatural and supernatural fiction, and what better way for me to create and write than to take the things I love and put my own spin on it.

I have always wanted to be published, but to be published and inspire others to do the same is really the full dream. To me, that is what makes it worth developing.

Why Inkshares?

I submitted many queries to traditional literary agents and many times received rejections less than 15 minutes after I submitted. I realized that many of these agents weren’t even reading my pitch, and those that did gave me feedback to keep trying as the industry is very subjective. Inkshares gave me a destination, a benchmark to hit rather than an unending amount of research and hoping that one of those agents will pay attention and appreciate the first paragraph enough to want to read more. Crowdfunding is difficult, but it’s more tangible and you are more in control of your fate by finding potential fans than by emailing agents that may never even respond.

What books have captured your attention lately?

I recently finished The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, which was excellent. I also finished David Wong’s Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, which was another great novel by someone I hold up as one of my largest influences.

I also recently started Monkey Business, an Inkshares book by Landon Crutcher. I’m about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m looking forward to more from him, but also I was pleasantly reassured that Inkshares has some great writers on board. It’s a professional reassurance that we belong on bookshelves.

Who are your greatest influences?

My influences are very wide ranging and not limited to books and authors. I am a huge John Carpenter fan. His work, like Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness, have really been the backbone of my inspiration.

David Wong has had a huge influence on me. His ability to write comedy and scare at the same time is excellent, and I can’t wait for more work from him. Neil Gaiman and his wide ranging books of fantasy have inspired me more than any other author.

Everything from Doctor Who to Monster Squad, to John Cusack classics like Say Anything and One Crazy Summer, to Joe Hill’s book Horns and Dan Harmon’s TV show Community, all have inspired me greatly. I could go on and on...

What's next for you as a writer?

Well, first I want to make sure I concentrate on THE KNIGHTMARES and pushing it through crowdfunding to Quill. I am about three-quarters of the way done on my own third round of edits on the manuscript, and will be finishing that up as well.

After that, I want to do my due diligence and continue to promote THE KNIGHTMARES by going on the convention circuit and hitting up as much of the potential fan base as I can, and try to get the word out there.

And while I’m working on that, I have several more books I am either wanting to write or currently writing, including my next book, VEXED, which is currently up on Inkshares as a draft. It still has a ways to go, and lots of editing to be done, but the tone and the subject is vastly different than THE KNIGHTMARES. I think it’ll be a hit in its own right.

 

You can read a sample & pre-order THE KNIGHTMARES on Inkshares.

Tonight! Independent Bookstore Day @ Papercuts J.P.

papercutsjp Today is Independent Bookstore Day AND Free Comic Book Day - so get out there and support some local biz!

I'll be at Papercuts J.P. tonight at 6:00pm with Paul Tremblay, reading some of our favorite short stories by other authors that inspire us, and talking crime and horror. Both of us will be hanging around afterward for the late night festivities. Check out the full day of events planned for Papercuts J.P., beginning at 11:00am with free muffins from neighboring Blue Frog Bakery and live music.

Papercuts J.P. will also have free copies of the EXPATRIATE zine Ricardo and I put together last year - updated with stunning colors by Mat Lopes. Grab 'em while they last!

New fiction - Late Term Ejection

SpinetinglerLogo1 I'm proud to have a new short story, "Late Term Ejection," in Spinetingler Magazine this week. It's on the Sci-Fi/Horror side of things, and a bit different than 'my usual stuff' (if I have such a thing...). I've been toying with the idea of turning aspects of the story into a longer work or comic for a while now. I hope you guys dig it!

You can read "Late Term Ejection" online (for a low price of free) HERE.

 

Keep the Devil Down the Hole

keep_the_devil_1"Keep the Devil Down the Hole," originally published in Dreadworks Journal, is now available to read on Wattpad.

Dreadworks Journal (2012) was a fun little project with writing Mad Dogs Errick Nunnally, Bracken MacLeod, and Javed Jahangir. My good buddy, Joe DellaGatta, did the interior illustrations featured in the book. Check out Joe's deviantart for more of his fantastic work.

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Winter Animals - Spring Thaw Sale!

With signs pointing to the arrival of spring... (rain!)

Winter Animals

Beginning today through the first week of May, Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.ORG is shedding the fat and going on sale! Get the best the Mad Dogs have to offer for $0.99, half the price of that Dunks you'll be enjoying on your morning commute, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity, PROTECT.ORG.

Get some!

Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.ORG

Winter Animals Winter Animals: Stories to Benefit PROTECT.ORG is out and available for purchase on Amazon.

WINTER ANIMALS bark less and bite more!

This chapbook anthology collects four stories from the members of The Boston Mad Dogs writing group meant to give you a little extra chill this winter and bring a touch of warmth to others left out in the cold. Christopher Irvin, Errick Nunnally, KL Pereira, and Bracken MacLeod have crafted tales of December creatures in styles ranging from noir, fantasy, magical realism, and crime thriller, all for a single cause. 100% of the author proceeds from the sale of this chapbook will be donated to PROTECT.ORG, to support the mission of lobbying for effective legislation to protect children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Featuring cover art by Joe DellaGatta and a Foreword by Thomas Pluck, author of Blade of Dishonor.

Help PROTECT.ORG fight and WIN for kids who need it and treat yourself to four stories with bite from a pack of Mad Dogs!

A HUGE thank you to those involved with the project - Errick Nunnally, KL Pereira, Bracken MacLeod, Joe DellaGatta, Thomas Pluck, and Ron Earl Phillips - as well as you readers who have supported us over the past month.

Please check out the e-book on Amazon and help support PROTECT.ORG.

Interview with Errick Nunnally

Once upon a time I said something like "2014 will be the Year of the Nunnally." It appears I was off by a few months as the man has FIVE short stories out in the past couple of months. NEHW_Wicked_Seasons   Doorways_2013-cover-200x255   Anthology_InnerDemonsOut   AfterTheFall-200x276   a-dark-world_cover-200x253

A great friend and fellow Mad Dog, Errick Nunnally has written some absolutely killer fiction. I can't wait for his first novel, BLOOD FOR THE SUN, to drop next March.

Let's meet the man!

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What kinds of fiction did you read growing up? What grabbed you and still sticks with you today?

I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy--escapist stuff--as well as tons of comic books and newspaper strips. I'd read any strip I could find in the papers, even the editorial stuff whose content I never understood! Any trip to the library meant classic sci-fi came home with me and whenever we were near a bookstore, I'd beg my parents to let me buy books. Most of my money went to comics, books, and movies. Oddly enough, I continually find that of all the stuff I've read, very little of it--excepting classics like Stranger In A Strange Land, for instance--seems to be familiar with my storytelling contemporaries. Not that what I'm reading is so much better, but I seem to have not crossed paths with as much of the more well-known influential fiction.

I read plenty of Asimov's robot stories. I, Robot, the Foundation Trilogy, The Caves of Steel--it blew my mind that a sci-fi author could pen functional mysteries in a made-up, future universe. Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man short stories really stuck with me. Far too many comic books have been in my life. I grabbed and read anything I could get my hands on--not just Marvel and DC. I preferred Marvel, but I remember having copies of E-Man, an old Charlton Comics title, for instance, the early Question and Blue Beetle stuff before DC picked them up. I have a bunch of Classics Illustrated and Golden Legacy comics in the attic. The former reproduced the "literary" classics like The Man In The Iron Mask and the latter covered African-American history up through the civil rights era. I'd just devour them all if they were a combination of pictures and words. Except Prince Valiant. I hated that shit.

Much of your writing deals with werewolves and other shape-shifting beasts. What fascinates you about them and keeps you coming back for more?

When I was growing up werewolves always got the shaft! The wolf man was always a mindless beast bent on killing everyone that got in his path or he was controlled by vampires. I always thought having the power to become a super-tough man-animal would be pretty cool. A dichotomy that was easier to identify with than choosing to put on a mask and fight crime or something. Werewolf stories are always about the struggle between the human and other parts within. We all have a "dark" side that's capable of something that would frighten or surprise even those we're closest with. I think it's fortunate that we aren't tested to that point with any regularity. Someone who's a wereanything is going to be tested over and over until death. I read the Werewolf by Night comics and the most satisfying stories were the ones where Jack Russell makes peace with his wolf and is more in control--not that his situation got any easier. All of that just stuck in my head. Then learning that cultures all around the world have shapeshifter myths was just the icing on the cake!

Other than the Werewolf by Night series, what are some of your favorite werewolf/shapeshifter tales?

Ugh, that's tough. Most series have the werewolf characters as secondary or uncontrollable packs. Let's see: in the comics there was Man-Wolf--when John Jameson takes control and we've got a hero in a kind of John Carter of Mars scenario. Jonathan Maberry's short story Like Part of The Family featured a lycanthropic detective. The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is really good. Honestly, there's precious few, in my experience, that have the main character using their lycanthropy rather than suffering from it--like so many vampire stories. I enjoy the struggle of such characters, but the everlasting uncontrollable beast-rage thing wore on me something bad. I have yet to read Glen Duncan's werewolf book, but I get the impression it's main character is someone who has embraced their inner-monster to a certain extent.

What do you think is essential for a great paranormal thriller/mystery?

I believe two things are required: 1) the main character has to have a compelling, troubled background with a conflict larger than a single novel and, 2) the immediate situation they happen to be dealing with should bring a fresh perspective to all the mythology that has come before. (I'm assuming good characterization and writing.) People who read the paranormal mystery/thrillers are looking for that fresh take and new characters to care about as they take a badass thrilling ride of intentional and unintentional adventure. I sincerely hope I've done that with Alexander Smith in my upcoming novel. He's got quite a checkered past, more so than I've read before in books of this genre.

Speaking of upcoming novels... you are making your debut next year! Tell us a little bit about BLOOD FOR THE SUN.

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The book, Blood For The Sun, being published by Spence City, is about a werewolf, Alexander Smith, old enough to be suffering from a kind of supernatural Alzheimer's--all werewolves and vampires lose their minds eventually. To keep his mind intact, he's been puzzling out cases of missing or murdered children. There's also some very dark stuff from his past--such as his responsibility in the death of a child--that keeps turning up to haunt him or people he's forgotten. One of his redeemable acts in the past was to adopt Ana, a vampire since shortly after birth, and raise her as his own. It's ostensibly his first effort to track and save a child. The first book deals with his first large conflict against a vampire conspiracy using children as sacrificial fuel to shield themselves from the sun.

Since it's a series, the reasons behind the memory loss, where the vamps and shapeshifters come from, and some of the other mysteries in the book are intended to play out on a larger stage. The entire back story is mapped out, there's reasons for everything and the whole story is going somewhere. The monsters can't hide forever. There's also diversity among the supernatural characters and humans, martial arts, bloodletting, guns, explosions, depravity, and at least one flamethrower. All the things I enjoy in a thriller liberally tinged with horror.

As we are nearing the holidays - What are some of your favorite books and short stories from 2013 that you recommend readers check out?

Wow, this is a very tough question for me. I started reading Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series this year and it's quite good. Kim Harrison has been a perennial favorite, her Hollows series is wonderful. Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim books are great fun. All of the aforementioned authors have had a novel out in the past year. Adam Cesare's Tribesmen was really interesting; Mountain Home by Bracken MacLeod gave an unexpected thrill. I've been reading Arthur Conan Doyle's The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes for the first time and they're excellent fun. Tom Piccirilli's Fuckin' Lie Down Already is a tragic hot potato of super-noir, great crime fiction. Ishmael Toffee by Roger Smith was an envious piece of work, really good stuff, another amazing crime fiction story. I've come across too many good stories in Apex Magazine to list--as well as the Science Fiction Megapack anthologies. Ugh, I have so much more reading to do and no time to do it; so many books purchased in 2013 that are still unread!

Thanks, Errick!

 

a book a week 1.7

The Horror! Autumn has finally arrived and that means it's time to delve back into one of my favorite genres. Without further ado....

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Jack & Jill by Kealan Patrick Burke

As a big fan of Burke's work, I was psyched for the chance to get my hands on an early read of his latest novella, JACK & JILL. Having read four of his novellas (and way past due on the rest) I can say that Burke has mastered this short form - providing tight pacing and plots that pack an emotional punch, along with his style of scares and dread that has become so well known.

The novella follows Gillian, one half of 'Jack and Jill,' as an adult, and deals with her struggle with recurring nightmares/dreams from events of her childhood.

JACK & JILL is one of my favorite reads of the year. The beautifully odd - and sometimes ugly - dream sequences took me back to the opening pages of Burke's novel, KIN, and one of the best scenes I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The images of Gillian's 'dream version' of her father are truly frightening, especially when...well I won't spoil that. Likewise, near the end of the novella (no spoilers) there is a pivotal moment that hangs on one phrase, and just when you might think there isn't enough space to pull it off, you realize Burke had already set the foundation and it makes perfect sense.

JACK & JILL hits the stands (e-book) in November 2013.

BREW

Brew by Bill Braddock

Holy smokes... you know when you read, "His eyes focused on her abdomen, just below the floating rib, where several inches of plump, externally herniated intestine shone in the light. He licked his lips. What would it taste like?", in the first few pages, that you are in for a ride. It's the Hell Yeah kind of ride that took me back to what I love about horror, and reminded me why I was so taken by the genre many years ago.

One minute the city of College Heights is party central and the next...well, green ooze dripping psychos are going to town on each other. BREW nails survival horror - tight pacing, blistering action, and well-developed characters (spread throughout the city/campus, natch) who are real and whose decisions throughout the course of the novel make sense (crucial). When done poorly, survival horror boils down to a handful of paragraphs detailing whatever creative deaths the author could conjure up. When done well, or as in the case with BREW, very well, you hang on every word.

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Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers

Some of the best dark/horror fiction these days can be found in short story collections. Ian Roger's EVERY HOUSE IS HAUNTED is no exception.

EVERY HOUSE IS HAUNTED lands smack in the middle of some of my favorite kinds of horror. It's haunting (as the title suggests) but more than that, it carries a ghostly vibe throughout. The stories are moody and thought provoking, odd and sometimes bizarre. The story "The House on Ashley Avenue" was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award this year. My other favorites were "Autumnology," "The Currents," "Leaves Brown," "The Rifts Between Us," "Hunger," "Inheritor," and "Twillingate."

Rogers has also pulled together a little commentary on the collection. While it didn't make the book, I recommend you check it out HERE after you've read the stories. I'm a junkie for that kind of 'behind the scenes' look - there is always something fascinating behind excellent short fiction, especially when you veer into dark/odd/haunting tales.

Sacrifice Island

Sacrifice Island by Kristin Dearborn

SACRIFICE ISLAND is a novella about a pair of paranormal investigators who head to the Philippines in search of material for their latest book. It's difficult to delve into more of the plot without getting into serious spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, Dearborn does an excellent job of reinvigorating what may seem like an old story and worn tropes. She doesn't waste time with pieces of the mystery that you can put together early on, instead focusing on the characters and their unique traits which are cleverly revealed along the way. Overall, what appeared at first to be an easy trek through the jungle, turned out to be much more and a fun read. Another great example of why I love the novella. Looking forward to Dearborn's novel, TRINITY.

Candy House

Candy House by Kate Jonez

Roland, a brilliant young scientist, loses his prestigious job and is forced to move back home with his parents. If that weren't bad enough, his neighbors are a family of witches, imps and demons.

It has been quite a while since I read any Dark Fantasy, but I'll be seeking out more after reading CANDY HOUSE. I found Jonez's writing to be very engaging, especially the scenes at the neighbors. The vibe of CANDY HOUSE reminded me of Brother's Grimm and Alice and Wonderland - full of odd/bizarre moments, unreliable characters, and dream-like sequences. It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once the full extent/agenda of the neighbors is revealed, I was hooked.

So...what's next? My TBR pile is ever-changing, but with the end of the year fast approaching, these are the five I have my sights on:

Snowblind     The Thicket     Country Hardball     The Inner City     The Last Porno Theater     Day One Kenyon

REVIEW: Recovery by Adam Aresty

Recovery A novella-length story of psychological terror set at a remote drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, RECOVERY is a story about one man's battle against demons inside and out. If you enjoy tales like The Shining, The Thing, or Jacob's Ladder, then RECOVERY is for you.

If you are buried under four-foot snow drifts this weekend like I am, then I've got the perfect book for you. Published just last month (Jan '13) Adam Aresty's RECOVERY is Kraken Press' first release in a planned line of E-PUB and POD books (the next being STARING INTO THE ABYSS by Richard Thomas.) I'm very happy to report they are off to a great start.

I stumbled onto Kraken Press last year when searching for publications to submit short stories and was immediately taken by the art direction (created by none other than the owner of Kraken Press, George Cotronis). Needless to say, I was ready to purchase RECOVERY solely based on the cover.

I loved RECOVERY - it's fresh, engaging and packed with wonderfully-creepy images. After a bit of setup, the pacing is lightning fast and Aresty's style kept me turning the page at a high speed that I rarely reach. I think this is in part because of Aresty's background as a screen writer (per Kraken Press, Adam won first place in the Screamfest Film Festival’s writing competition for his screenplay THE PALACE, about a haunted palace in Iraq.  In 2011, his original pilot, UNCIVILIZED, a cop show set in post-apocalyptic Texas, took first place in the Slamdance Film Festival’s writing competition.) The novella feels very tight, like a screenplay, in that Aresty is moving the reader along with quick cuts between scenes and only lifting the curtain on what you need to know. It's the perfect length for the story Aresty wanted to tell and I highly recommend it to fans of dark, horror and thriller fiction/movies.

It's difficult to review the novella without spoiling a great read. The book is ~40 pages and most will finish the ride in an hour or two, so if you enjoyed the official blurb above, I recommend you stop there and boot up your kindle. At $2.99 it's a steal - sure, a lot of writers sell their work for $.99 or (sigh) free, but I for one fall in the camp that you should sell your work for what's its worth and if people like it they will make the purchase. I'll happily throw down $2.99 for another Kraken Press E-PUB.

RECOVERY links:     Goodreads     Amazon     Kraken Press     Adam Aresty

The Undead That Saved Christmas Vol. 3 Monster Bash - available for pre-order!

More good news: The Undead That Saved Christmas Vol. 3 Monster Bash, published by Rainstorm Press, is now available for pre-order! The charity anthology features my story, "Santa's Bones." Proceeds from the sales of book benefit the Hugs Foster Family Agency (hugsffa.org) and will help them give their foster children gifts this holiday season.

Learn more here!

REVIEW: Attic Toys Edited by Jeremy C. Shipp

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Giglio and Charles Day last Fall at Anthocon. Their passion and enthusiasm for Evil Jester Press was instantly infectious and I picked up their first book, 'Help! Wanted: Tales of On-the-job Terror' (great read).

ATTIC TOYS stays on prompt (you guessed it...toys and/or attic is present in all of the tales) but I was pleasantly surprised at the range of the work. It starts off on a comedic horror note with Jeff Strand's, 'Inside the Boxes,' and Emily C. Skaftun's, 'Down in the Woods Today.' I loved both and there were some great lines from Strand that made my laugh. Then I was shocked by the intensity of, 'Poor Me And Ted,' by Kate Jonez.

'I Heard it Through the Grape Vine' by S.S. Michaels had me chuckling.  'Attic Dog' by David Raffin was a very unexpected gem.

'The Doll Tree' by Amelia Mangan (incredible imagery) and 'Googly' by Jeremy C. Shipp (totally bizarre) rounded out my personal favorites.

ATTIC TOYS is a great read - solid selection of stories with something for everyone - even some fantasy ('Living Doll by Piers Anthony and 'White Knight' by Eric Sundquist.)

4/5 Stars

BACK ISSUE! #52 DC's Bronze Age Horror

I stumbled into BACK ISSUE! at a local gaming store this past Winter and instantly wondered why more stores weren't carrying the magazine - the quality is stunning.  Issue #52 was buried in a haphazardly arranged display, but the old-school horror cover screamed 'pick me up!' And I'm glad I did.

BACK ISSUE! #52 is a must buy for horror fans.

Today's comic and bookstore shelves are filled with excellent horror: Hellboy (Mike Mignola), 30 Days of Night (Steve Niles), The Goon (Eric Powell), The Walking Dead (Robert Kirkman), American Vampire (Scott Snyder)...the list goes on - and is only expanding thanks to the reach of smaller publishers (i.e. Dark Horse) and e-comics.

CREEPY and EERIE have seen a resurgence of late thanks to hardcover collections released from Dark Horse, but much of the horror comics from the 1930's - 1970's has been lost to time (Thank you, Comics Code Authority!).  BACK ISSUE! #52 steps up to the plate and gives a crash course on Bronze Age horror.

It starts off with my favorite article, Hosts of Horror, a lengthy discussion covering each host in detail from birth to demise, how radio influenced comics and how comics in-turn influenced such shows as Tales from the Crypt on HBO.

BACK ISSUE! #52 also features interviews with artists Bernie Wrightson, Sergio Aragones, Gerry Talaoc and DC Mystery writer Lore Shoberg, along with the comic history of Black Orchid and Madame Xanadu.

The horror genre in comics has traversed a rough and painful road.  After reading BACK ISSUE! #52 I can state that I fully appreciate the passion and determination of past creators to push boundaries and ensure that horror has not only survived but continues to thrive today.

A print copy of BACK ISSUE #52 is under $10 (with a free electronic copy).  An electronic copy is only $2.95.  I highly recommend picking it up; at that price it's hard to say no.

REVIEW: Epitaphs edited by Tracy L. Carbone

The second book I had the pleasure of reading from my AnthoCon binge (5 anthologies and 3 novels) was Epitaphs: The Journal of the New England Horror WritersThe New England Horror Writers released the anthology at AnthoCon and had several of the authors on hand to read during a panel. Trisha J. Wooldridge was exceptional in her reading of her poem, Kali's Promise.  I've read it twice and each time I hear her voice in my head as I read the words.  Epitaphs brings a wide range of dark fiction (23 short stories and 3 poems) and while several didn't appeal to me, there seems to be something for everyone.  I was disappointed at first to see two reprints but Rick Hautala's Perfect Witness, originally published in 1995, ended up being one of my favorites in the anthology.  Overall I thought Epitaphs was a great read and contained several stories that I will want to revisit in the future.  Below are my favorite pieces from Epitaphs: A Case of the Quiets: A poem by Kurt Newton that reminded me of Jack Ketchum's Bram Stoker award winning short story, The Box.

The Possessor Worm: Editor Tracy L. Carbone introduced B. Adrian White's The Possessor Worm stating that it was Lovecraftian in nature and she hates Lovecraft. No love for Lovecraft?! Come on! I was pumped to read it, however, as I am a huge fan of Lovecraft.  White does not disappoint.  The story updates the letter format of some Lovecraft tales with emails back and forth between two characters on opposite coasts of the U.S. and the horror that one of them finds in an old home in the North End of Boston.

Make a Choice: The situation in Make a Choice by John McIlveen is one that I think we see in a lot of contemporary horror (Strangers, Last House on the Left, etc.) But the tale is very well written and makes the reader question what really is the best outcome for the family.

Perfect Witness: Mentioned above - don't want to say much else to spoil the story other than I loved it!

Kali's Promise: Also mentioned above. The poem is about a woman who doesn't exactly get the revenge she was looking for. Voices for the demon and the main character come through loud and distinct.

Malfeasance: I really like the questions that David North-Martino delves into with this story: How does the individual react when presented a situation vs. how is the same situation viewed by society as a whole? Murder and torture are accepted as wrong by society, but as an individual, would you commit the crime to save a loved one, for example?

A Deeper Kind of Cold: Great sci-fi horror story from K. Allen Wood. I love the setting in the space station and it screams Alien to me.  Brutal revelations for characters with a lot of pent up emotion and an ending that I'm still tossing around in my head.

Legend of the Wormley Farms: Philip Roberts, this may be my favorite piece in the anthology.  A family farm fallen on hard times. Cue the horror!

The Church of Thunder and Lightning: I'm a news junkie so I loved this story.  Peter N. Dudar tells the tale of a reporter who is so desperate for a big story she sneaks into a cult ceremony with disastrous results.

To Sleep, Perchance to Die: In which an obese man suffering from a sleep disorder doesn't find the cure he's looking for with a CPAP machine.  I have a like/dislike relationship with this story.  It's not something that I would rave about but wow, does Jeffrey C. Pettengill know how to keep the reader in the moment or what? This story is so visceral and keeps the reader in such a gruesome - albeit very short - moment, one that Pettengill drags on over six pages. I could tell where the story was headed after things started to go wrong but I think that was part of what kept my eyes glued to the page even though I wanted to look away.

Next Up: Dead of Night by Jonathon Maberry (And maybe I'll get some damn writing done!)

REVIEW: The Armageddon Chord by Jeremy Wagner

The Armageddon Chord is a crazy over-the-top romp of good versus evil and is exploding with little music Easter eggs for fans who know where to look.  The story switches back and forth between the protagonist, Kirk  'God of Guitar' Vaisto, compared to real-life guitarist Michel Angelo in the novel, a clean metal guitarist who never really fit into the band that made him rich and famous, and the antagonists Helmut Hartkopff (metal reference!) and Festus Baustone.  Hartkopff is straight out of Indiana Jones and I liken Baustone to an evil mastermind from a James Bond movie. Crazy, yes, but it works.  The antagonists' motivations are explained and it makes sense how events pull both sides together. Wagner does a great job of weaving in secondary characters to assist in fleshing out Vaisto and Baustone. I was pleasantly surprised with the character Mona and I enjoyed her scenes with Vaisto after her introduction through another character (not to be spoiled).  My only real complaint character-wise is the Priest could have been more developed. I thought he came out of nowhere and I would have liked to know more.

Wagner fills the pages of The Armageddon Chord with his knowledge and experience as a musician.  From Vaisto's guitar playing to scenes in the studio to industry details, it's obvious Wagner poured his passions into the novel.  And the chapter titles--Dream Evil, The Cabal, Nocturnal Emissions, Diabolus in Musica, Metal Heart, etc.--all metal music references that were fun to find and that I could tell Wagner had fun slipping in.

I had no idea what I was getting into with The Armageddon Chord but it was a lot of fun.  At times it felt like the story struggled balancing its over-the-top nature with serious tones; the strong religious themes near the end didn't fit with the characters as well as I'd like them to but overall it was a great read. And the pace of the final act is just awesome.  I'm looking forward to Wagner's next book. Check out The Armageddon Chord!

Recommended: 8/10 (10/10 for metal music fans)

Next up: Epitaphs: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers edited by Tracy L. Carbone.