Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review: Zombies Inside.

Zombies Inside, the latest collection from author, Rebecca Besser.

"If zombies are what you crave, open the pages of this book for a wild ride! The 12 zombie short stories within (equaling over 64,000 words) will make you cringe, delight your imagination, and possibly even warm your heart . . . so the undead can feast upon it! Be brave and see if you can survive the Zombies Inside!"

Okay, let me start with the one story included by guest author, Courtney Rene. Now, I've not read The Hunger Games, or anything like it, but I was immediately reminded of it with this offering. A young woman, zombie apoc, kill or be killed.

I've never read Courtney Rene, but I am now tempted to pick up a Howl in the Night book.

Her writing was flowing and reminded me of some bleak mashup of Douglas Adams and Richard Laymon. It's funny and distressing at the same time. In such a short piece it gave me a believable world. Ms. Rene, Courtney, if you are reading this: Write THIS. I want a novel of this. It is excellent.

That is all.

So, to Besser.

Just to get this out of the way at the start, as always, Rebecca Besser puts out well edited, well formatted work. Apart from the occasional minor editing error, it goes without saying the book is presented well.

Besser's own stories are all good, of course. We expect nothing else from her these days.

One or two of the stories did stand out for me. Most notably was "My Kind of Woman". The story is utterly mesmerizing. I could picture every second of it, even though it talked greatly of things I (as an Englishman) have never experienced. I loved the protagonist. The ending was perfect. What more can I say?

Other standouts included: The World of Zombies (which has personal meaning to me *winks*); When Plans Fail (utterly heartbreaking); and The Magic of Christmas (and it's sequel).

Each of the stories plucked at the heartstrings, with Besser emoting throughout. The collection gives a mix of stories as well, and I never once felt I was reading stories too similar, which is always a potential problem with single author, themed, collections.

Throughout reading the collection there seemed to be a slight change in style with some stories. Some seemed a little YA/NA to me. Most probably wouldn't notice, but I never venture into reading that style of material, so it caught me off guard. However, if you wanted a gateway book into the genre, I think that helps and would heartily recommend this as a starting point.

That said, if you like zombies and are looking for fun, scares, and emotion, this is also the book for you.

You can find out about Courtney Rene here: 

Rebecca Besser Here:

And buy the book here:

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Review: GRIEF. The Horsemen Tetralogy

Okay, so I did some Google work on the author, Dimpra Kaleem, and came up with it being a pen name for someone else. Um. Whatever. To the book!

So, I picked this up...somewhere...I'm so freaking vague these days. It was on Amazon, and free, so I guess Bookbub? Or maybe a Facebook Group? I don't even know.

Anyway. Between longer reads I thought I'd jump in and read it. It's like 45 pages on Kindle.

From salvation to damnation.

When an act of desperation leads to a demonic deal, one man must pay the price of his arrogance.

The Horsemen are being assembled - renewed and renamed.

Grief, Fury, Hatred and Lust.

Each with a story to tell. 

Okay, the synopsis gives nothing away, and hell, neither will I. Rolling it into one sentence, a parson - preacher - is about to lose everything, and starts to make deals...if you get my drift. It's dark fantasy. Modern horror. It's really well written. There are a few grammatical errors, but aside from that the formatting is excellent.

Kaleem brings humor, a well written word, and a twisted realism to the world that he has created. And good it is too. The protagonist is realistic and within the story (it'll make more sense when you read it, and I suggest you do) you have no idea who is who.

For such a short story it brings in a great sense of worldliness.

I was - am - sold on it. 

I cannot wait for the next one. 

Hold on. I've said nothing about the written word. The story is written with a light touch. It's very 'fun' to read. It bounces along, and lets you enjoy the scenes. It does have its dark moments though, trust me. And by dark, I mean pitch fucking black. 

That's not to say that a younger reader (Late YA) would not enjoy it. 

I'll say this: It has stuck with me. Kaleem has pitched me. I know he's there. I just need more.

You can purchase the book here:


WITCHES: Tea Party to be released under the EGP Family.

This is just a quick (late) announcement.

WITCHES: Tea Party is to be published Feb.16 by the good people at European Geeks Publishing. I had already announced the release when owner Elisha Neubauer expressed an interest in it. She totally dug it, and brought it into the fold.

As many of you know, I'm moving away more and more from self publishing. This is not because I struggle with it. No, quite the opposite. I am proficient in formatting and cover art, I know some awesome editors, and I can publish across multiple formats. That's the easy part. No, I see my self published work adrift in a sea of other self published work, and I want to work with a publisher. 

The Hand will stay self published until the four planned parts are out, and then the omnibus? Who knows. And I've also got at least two more stories to tell in that universe, so we'll see. I also plan on re-releasing Small Cuts to the Psyche some time in the future, with some internal changes, new cover art etc., however that works out.

So anyway. Mark your diary. Coming February 16 from European Geeks Publishing:

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

How To ART.*


This is it.

Firstly, answer me this. What is...writing? Your writing? Mine? Anybody's? Yes. ANYBODY'S. It's simple. It's art, right? You're creating something that people will look at and appreciate. You know, like Matisse, and Rembrandt.

Jackson Pollock did this:

And it's pretty fucking amazing. No? Did I hear you correctly? It's bollocks? Oh, you're one of those. Well what about this?

This is by Constable:

Wow. I mean, look at the lighting. The Hay? The Wain? 

But, you're asking me now, what the fuck I'm talking about. Art. Look at the two pictures. Wait. Never mind. Look at the movements:

Abstract Expressionism; Academic Art; American Regionalism; American Scene; Art Deco; Art Nouveau; Arte Povera; Arts and Crafts Movement; Ashcan School; Barbizon School; Baroque Art; Bauhaus; Camden Town Group; Blaue Reiter; Brücke; Byzantine Art; Canadian Group Of Seven; Classicism; Contemporary Realism; Cubism; Cubist Realism (Precisionism); Dada; Der Blaue Reiter; Die Brücke; Die Neue Sachlichkeit; Divisionism (Pointillism); Early Renaissance; Expressionism; Fauvism; Futurism; Golden Age of Illustration; Gothic Art; Group Of Seven; Harlem Renaissance; High Renaissance; Hudson River School; Impressionism; Japanese Ukiyo-e; Les Nabis; Magic Realism; Mannerism; Minimalism; Nabis; Neoclassicism; Neo-Impressionism (Pointillism); Neo-Plasticism; Neue Sachlichkeit; Northern Renaissance; Op Art; Photorealism; Pointillism; Pop Art; Post-Impressionism; Precisionism; Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; Realism; Regionalism; Renaissance, Early; Renaissance, High; Renaissance, Northern; Rococo Style; Romanticism; Sensation Show; Social Realism; Surrealism; Symbolism; Tonalism; Ukiyo-e; Victorian Classicism.

This is (one of) the list(s) of art movements as listed by Wikipedia.  

Every single one of these movements was created by some fucker saying, 

(paraphrased, of course)

You want to know what else? If Stephen King wanted to follow the rules of, what, say, Shakespeare, Carrie might have been written in iambic pentameter. Yeah. Think about that. Think real hard about that. Then Google it. Now back to me. See what I'm saying?

"News item from Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED."

Not so much Iamb, report?

You want to follow the rules, then fine. I'm certainly not saying that's wrong. But breaking the rules, bending them... that's how you create something new. Something people want to talk about.

But you want to really go that extra mile?

'Cause that's the real secret. If you read this far, of course. (I know, a list art movements isn't exactly exciting.)

If you want to break the system. If you want to be a movement, firstly learn the rules. Learn every fucking one of them. You don't need to use them. But you should have used them. But once you know them, you know their purpose, you know why they are there, then you can break them.

Be an artist, and be able to use iambic pentameter in conversation with other people who also know what it is. (In other words don't be a pretentious cock-womble)    

Write some. It is, can be in the right hands, hauntingly beautiful. It brings gothic architecture to the page.

Then break it.

Use it.


*Or, "How to Make the Words From Your WordButt Yours."

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Review of the Year '15

This year has been a good year. A really good year, for me. A fucking great year.

Normally, about now, I'd do a "look at me and what I did" post, maybe highlighting some pitfalls, and such, but this year? Nah. I'ma do a rundown of people to thank, great books I've read, and just general indie awesomeness!

It's been a year of me reading indie authors. There have been highs, as well as lows. My only comment on the lows is that if you're going to self publish, or publish through a small press, do it right. Make sure the formatting is right, the grammar checked, and proof your story. Make sure it makes sense. Anyway. HIGHS!



Undead Drive-Thru
Rebecca Besser

When Kyndra, Colleen, and Jose apply for jobs at a diner that has seen better days and is undergoing renovations, they have no idea what they're in for.

Aunt-B and John have a horrible secret, and when it's unleashed on the unsuspecting employees of the diner, things get . . . complicated.

Bloodthirsty and dangerous, a zombie awaits the opportunity to feast on them all.

Who will be served first? Can any of them make it out of the Undead Drive-Thru alive?


Spook Lights
Eden Royce

Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these twelve tales of Southern Gothic horror:

Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….

These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.

The stories are rich in flavor and clever in metaphor, the horrors completely surreal or—far more unnerving—all too possible. She brings a refreshing perspective to the table that paranormal lovers are sure to enjoy.


Donald White

Evil always comes first for the young. Two girls trapped in a nightmare world must struggle to survive. A place where dolls move and bears operate. It is a land of heartless children, and brutal discipline; a realm of witches and shadowy beasts. Fear reigns supreme, and dragon’s breath sets courage ablaze. The girls will be tested at their core, exposing the wicked things lurking underneath. Help will come in unexpected forms, and a battle will be waged for their very souls. You find yourself in Otherplace: a place to find yourself.


Heaven's Forgotten
Branden Johnson

Moira just wants a normal life for her daughter, Penelope. And sometimes, it seems like she has achieved it. Penelope is a sweet, smart, and precocious four-year-old girl. However, she is also the product of Moira's affair with an angel. Her parentage gives Penelope strength far beyond what any child should possess. It also makes her the target of fallen angels who intend to use her mysterious powers as their way back into Heaven. Worse yet, one of those fallen angels is her own father. Now, Moira finds herself caught up in a terrifying struggle for Penelope's life against beings more powerful than she can imagine. And when Penelope's true power is revealed, it will shake the foundations of reality.

Suspenseful and action-packed, Heaven's Forgotten demonstrates the power of a mother's love against the longest odds in Heaven and on earth.


The Dead Survive
Lori Whitman

Got a lot of people to thank this year. People who helped me; people who helped others; people who helped the industry. I'm not going to embarrass you by listing out why you all hold a place for me, but I am going to embarrass you by shouting your names out. So here goes. If you're on this list you'll know why, and if you're not and should be, um, oops. Sorry. If you want to be on this list next year? Go out and touch somebody. Just not in a creepy way.

Toni Rakestraw, Richard Schiver, Rebecca Besser, Ojan Borot, Elisha Neubauer, Armand Rosamilia, Alexis Allinson, Donald White, Eden Royce, Tina Marie, Jaime Johnesee, Cindy Hernandez, David Karich, Chantal Noordeloos, Pierre Rechatin, Robert Nelson, and of course, my wife. 

I'm not going to bang on about all the publishers that I have  worked with in the last 12 months, but I do think two of them have been stand out.

Publisher of The Human Condition, Gnome On Pig Productions, have had a great beginning to their first year. With everything available from books and tees to mugs, I suggest you go check them out, here:

And another fast mover out of the stalls is Eleventh Hour Literary Press. A new imprint from European Geeks Publishing, Eleventh Hour is hosting a small, select group of works, and so far, extremely professionally. Check them out here:

And that about wraps that for the year.

Me? Oh, well as you asked...

Like I said. Fucking. Great. Year.

Books out, deals done. Some you know about, some you don't. Hell, at the time of writing, even I don't know about some of them.

Let's just say, "Roll on '16".

Friday, 11 December 2015

All Roads Lead To Terror, by Richard Schiver

The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Four boys strengthen the bonds of their friendship, while taking their first hesitant steps into adulthood, as they face the brutality of an old, new world. They will be tested at every step in their journey, as they travel through a blasted land where the only hope is for a swift death followed by an endless sleep. Survival lay in the firepower they carried, coupled with their willingness to use it, and their ability to trust each other with their own lives.

The world has become a wild place filled with wild things, and into this new reality each of them had been born. Coming of age at the end of days, where savagery was the norm, and man's inhumanity to man was on daily display. Where the only law was the firepower one carried and the only hope was for a swift death followed by an endless sleep.

Meat was born at the height of the Zombie apocalypse, upon his birth his mother took one look at him and pronounced him meat. He grew up in a reality where they were all nothing more than walking bags of meat, so in his mind the name fit perfectly.

Window, his best friend, is very quiet, and ever watchful with a quick hand. To him friendship was the most important thing in the world. His family had perished in the ruthless times after the awakening and his temperament had been forged in the fire that took them from him. His friends were all he had left so he watched over them with a jealously protective nature strengthened by that sense of invulnerability all boys his age embraced. Further backed up by a quick hand with the .44 he'd used to kill the men who had raped his mother.

The remaining members of this quartet are Einstein who had been born within the compound at Bremo Bluff after the apocalypse. Having spent his life behind the fence he had no first hand knowledge of how brutal the world has become. As his name implies he's the smartest in the group, as well the most innocent. While that innocence helps to soften the ruthlessness of the other three, it will serve to drive a wedge into their friendship. On this trip he will discover just how terrifying the world beyond the fence has become.

The final member is Billie-Bob, one half of a set of twins who appeared outside the fence several years earlier. Your typical class clown whose mouth runs a mile a minute, if he isn't sharing overused jokes about Zombies, he's whispering the passages from a book his mother used to read to him when he was younger, a chant that provides him with a degree of comfort. Billie-Bob is unique in that at the tender age of eleven he has proven himself to be a natural born sniper with a willingness to use his special talent to protect his friends.

The trail they follow leads them East, into the Dreadlands, from which those who had dared venture in the past never returned. There are places where the fabric of reality is at its thinnest. Where nightmare creatures roam the shadowy corners of a well lit world. Existing at the edge of man consciousness, an indistinct blur briefly glimpsed in our peripheral vision. Their presence felt on a primitive level that reached our consciousness as a faint whisper in the night. Their touch the soft caress of chilled fingers dancing along the spine like the half remembered terrors lurking within the childhood memories of every person who had ever feared the night.

In Richmond they will be confronted by a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. A nightmare being that feasted upon the fear of its victims, delving into their innermost secrets, revealing half forgotten terrors that lay like a rotting carcass at the heart of their souls. For these creatures, that were once considered nightmare imaginings, are now awake in a world where the population that once served as their food source has been reduced.

Awake and very, very, hungry.

Buy Links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Barnes & Noble:




Author Bio

Richard was born in Frostburg, Maryland, in the winter of '58' and currently lives eight miles away. A five-year stint with the military allowed him to see what he wanted of the world. Married with four grown children and eight grandchildren, he and his wife provide a home to four pets that are spoiled beyond rotten.

In addition to writing daily he works a full time job in retail, and piddles around in his wood-shop making one mess after another when time permits.

Richard can be found online at:



Follow Richard on Twitter: @RichardSchiver

Written in Blood is Richard's personal blog where he shares his thoughts on writing, and whatever else that might strike his fancy.

He can be contacted directly at and would be delighted to hear from you.

Sign up to be notified of publishing updates and new releases as they become available. He promises to never share your contact info, nor will he swamp your inbox with unnecessary crap. He’ll also toss in a free copy of White Walker when you sign up.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

When Bad Reviews go Bad-er-er.

This is a review of The Devil's Hand: Crossing Guard, reviewed by a website, who decided not to post it, as it was "poor". So what with everything I've said recently about reviews I give you:

The Devil's Hand: Crossing Guard. The Review You Were Never Meant to Read by Anonymous.

The premise for the short story ‘The Devil’s Hand’ is intriguing, but I felt the author treated the subject matter too superficially, and the characters lacked depth. Angela’s reactions to her encounter with Darin, finding herself in hell, the final confrontation with Petiot, were far too stylized to be credible. No sane person would behave in such a cool offhanded manner to a situation that jars every concept of reality and religion.

The story also left several important elements unresolved. Why did Petiot want to recover the journals? Was he a devil or merely a tortured soul dead for 50 years? His confrontation with Darin in hell, devoured by giant insects, caused me to shake my head in resignation. Surely the author could have devised something more imaginative, including better and more frightening descriptions of hell. Darin, as the devil’s right hand man, comes across weak, insubstantial and far from credible. Is he a real demon? If so, he would have greater power over Petiot, a dead mortal.

In the end, I found the story highly unsatisfying. I suggest the author revisits his plot and considers injecting realism into his characters and scenes.


The Devil's Hand is available here:

And you can find out more about it here:

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Review: Flight of Destiny

This is a sticky review to write.

Flight of Destiny, by Francis H. Powell

"A collection of 22 short stories about misfortune characterized by unexpected final twists at the end of each tale."

This review has to be a game of two halves.

Firstly, to Powell's writing.

This is the first time that I have read Francis H. Powell. I hope though, not the last. The stories within these pages are well written, and strangely articulate. Powell has a style of writing that is unusual to find within the pages of a collection of horror shorts. His choice of words careful, each sentence seems to be crafted, rather than written. Which is, of course, excellent.

As with any collection, the stories themselves contain a variety of shocks, some signposted and holding no great shock, others standout and again, crafted, with skills.

Standout stories for me must include:

Cast From Hell: a wicked little tale, the last in the collection, and going out with a bang. A man cast from Hell within a woman's body... and I can say no more without spoiling. But it's excellent.

Bug-Eyes: A mother dis-owning her son because of his looks and the redemption years on...

Slashed: Shall we say, artistry gone wrong? You'll have to read to find out.

That said, there were no stories that I found left a bad after taste in my mouth. All positive points.

My only real criticism of Powell's stories is that on occasion they finished a little quickly. Abruptly. Story, story, story, twist, end. Sometimes I wanted to know the reaction of the characters, but this style of twist-ending is common, and I felt was a wonderful representation of the old Tales of the Unexpected television program.

There is however a bad side to the review.

The second half: the editing and editorial within the piece.

Immediately upon opening the book I was presented with the Foreword of the book, written, I noted by one of the editors of the book. Surprised as I was to find it was now a Forward. So immediately I was put off, assuming this represented the quality of Powell's writing, which of course it doesn't.

However, the quality of editing is not of a standard that I expect from a book published through a house, one "Savant Books and Publications", with two credited editors. Progressively more noticeable throughout the book are editorial errors and mistakes, proving on occasion to be a little off-putting.

But it takes nothing away from Powell's writing. Of that I assure.

Sadly, if not for the poor editing, it would have fared better.

You can purchase Flight of Destiny on Amazon here:

And find out more about the author here:

Thursday, 3 December 2015

No Conformity, Only Epicness.

Don't write it like this.

Write it like that.

Put simply, WRITE IT YOUR WAY.

Everyone has chased trends. It's something writers have a tendency of doing. Well, you know what? Put that shit down. Write what you want to write. Write epically.


If you're writing for trends then that means you aren't making trends...yet. So you haven't made it...yet, right? So how long does it take you to get a novel from, "Ooh, Twilight was great," to "Here's my world changing book on the shelves, IN REAL BOOKSHOPS, Word Hounds!"?

Months. Years. And you know what? That fucking trend has changed. It's gone. You've written a sparkly vampire novel *spits on the floor at your feet*, and dystopian futures with mazes is the thing now. Or tributes. Or whatever. It honestly could be anything. BAM! Unsellable.


You're in a writer's group. Of course you are. What are they writing? Sparkly vampires. Ah, good. That falls in with the latest trend. *slowly wraps fingers around throat* Didn't you read point 1? Don't write what their writing. Don't write what anybody's writing. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," after all. (No it isn't. Not in this business. That's plagiarism.) If you need to imitate, you need to do some serious thinking.


I was talking to a writer friend of mine about a novel I was writing, and whether it would go well in the hands of an agent. Told, I was, quite rightly (Did I just turn into Yoda?), that because of it's content it would be a hard sell. Sure.

That was two years ago, and I'm still writing it. (Yeah, I know, things happen. But I have successfully had several other novels completed and published in that time.)

It won't be finished until the end of next year, according to my time table. It might be in vogue then. No, better. It might break new ground then.

I will be trend setting. People will imitate me. Um...yay?

The point is, is that I love the novel. It's my fucking opus. I might be working on it for another two years until my heart, my soul, my soles, my shoes, tell me it's done. And when it is, it'll be perfect.


By doing it your way. Yes. I could write a sparkly vampire novel. I could pull it's rotten, stinking, lifeless story from my word making butthole (my wordbutt). But, I would hate it. With a passion. That's not me. I write what I want. I throw my writing in other peoples faces, shouting things like "READ MY WORDBUTT WISDOM!" and "BLURT MY WRITING", like a drunken Englishman. (Like?)

Where has it gotten me?

I'm now contracted to write a novel for a publisher who liked the idea of it so much, they decided they had to have it.

And you know what that means to me?

I'm writing something, someone wants, because it's mine. I arted it. I created it from my wordbutt.




Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Want an honest review?

Want an honest review?

You're probably not going to get one. 



Okay, that's an extreme case, but a valid one. 

It's unlikely that you are going to get "bottled" at your place of work by an asshat with an attitude because you said that their latest book sucked balls. (Unlikely is not impossible, though.) And by the way I'm writing this, I know that you're thinking, "Fuck that shit. I'm never writing a bad review again. Writers are psychos who spend waaaaaay too much time on their own thinking about murder". 

And you'd be right. 

But I enact out my murderous rampages on little fictional people in my head, and on my page. What do you do with yours? 

But like most times I write, I digress.

More than likely you're going to get a vicious attack from the said author of "My Monkey, My Balls, and the Things I do for Fun," in the written word. They'll respond to your heinous opinion with a scathing attack on how wrong you are, and how you don't know what you're talking about. Like the wonderful responses of Stephan J Harper on the negative review of his book "Bears in Boats Fighting Crime" on Tidbits.

(In case you go all TL;DR) The author starts by getting on his high horse and tries to tear the review apart literary-ly (like in writing, not literally), and eventually loses his temper, however a number of his responses have now been deleted by himself. It was, at the time, a fascinating read by a man who slowly unhinges. Better, I'm sure, than "Bears in Boats Fighting Crime", however, I am intrigued by the title. 

So anyway. 

Unhinged Author Attacks in Writerly Way!!

Now we, as an industry - the writerly types - have been telling each other forever that we, as an industry, should not respond to negative reviews. We shout at each other about how we should learn from them. We should like them, respect them. 

I do. 

Because I understand the fact that everyone has an opinion.

However, these days I don't see bad reviews. Yes, I know that something in the public eye (*coughs* Chuck Wendig *coughs* Star Wars: Aftermath) might get bad reviews (*cough*) that may have nothing to do with the book itself, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the little guy. You. Me. Them. *points*

So many book sites now state "we won't post a bad review, we just won't review", or "tick this box to not have a review posted if it's under 3 stars." 

We're artists, man. How are we to improve if you don't tell us what you don't like? We're (probably) not going to hunt you down and bash your head in, in a supermarket. 

So I implore you, the reader, the reviewer, the writer who reviews, leave us bad reviews. We need it. And if we respond at all to peer pressure, we won't murder you in the supermarket.

And we try really hard not to murder people off the page.

That's like, real human interaction.

Ain't nobody got time for that.