Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lurking Back To Lurk Forward


As a writer you always have things going on to keep you from making deadlines, whether they're from a publisher of some form or whether they're selfimposed.  I've had My fair share of blocks and dilemmas.  And then on course there's always a writer's worst enemy, "Hey wouldn't it be cool to start on this thing instead of what you're doing now?"

Well, having had success with new distributors I realized that I was sitting on quite a little trove of stories that might do well formatted and put out for eReader.  My stories Town Slut, Honcho and Balcony Diddling are in my cross hairs.  And then there was that need to get something that has Michael C. Laney and horror on it ahead of those other projects slowly being written over time.  Okay, so maybe it is still going to be more a foray into erotic horror, but it will still be horror.

The idea is a collection with the long title of A Letter To Doctor Freudstein - Demoni - And Ten Poems.  In this collection will by My short story, A Letter To Doctor Freudstein along with the poems Jack-O-Lantern Lady, Beneath The Bright Zombie Moon, Woman With Plumage, The Gorgon, The Crypt Below, Graveyard Sunrise and Dance Of The Elder Gods.  It will also include the previously unpublished erotic horror short story Demoni and poems Mummy Waits, Critter and Coffin Banging.

If things go well the editing should be done in a couple of weeks, and I expect the above collection and Balcony Diddling to be ready to go, and Honcho released as a free eBook story on All Romance eBooks.

Of course I assure you that work does go on with My other projects as I get ready to adjust to yet another work schedule change.  I am really (I mean really, really) getting to the final stretch of It Takes Two To Matango.  And last week I wrote the opening scene of Heather's Journey: The Manual Of Discipline!

So, I'm looking back to some older works to help look forward and to also help generate a little more interest in my works.

A Letter To Doctor Freudstein - Demoni - And Ten Poems, Balcony Diddling and Honcho all coming soon.  Lurk for them!

Master Vyle

Review: Divine Wine by Diana Trees


Diana Trees, the woman who's motto is "My vampires don't sparkle, they kill people".  She was someone I had heard of, or "seen" around, you know.  Her name kept popping up on other people's Follow Friday suggestions on Twitter.  I would see her name come up in someone's Twitter timeline.  Then she followed me on Twitter.  I followed her back.  Round and round, if you're on Twitter, you know.  We're aware of each other, but we really haven't gotten to know each other.  She had kind of been filed away on the "to read, eventually" list.  Then I saw Dianna Mcheck's review for her novella Divine Wine on her blog (alas no more), and decided to move Trees up on my list.

First off I have to say that Divine Wine is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended.  This story is extreme horror at its most extreme, bordering on that much reviled "torture porn" genre.  So my first word of caution is to have a strong stomach and an open mind, or don't bother.  The subject matter, which includes a serial killer who sexually assaults his victims postmortem, is sure to turn many away.  Yeah, I know the first thing that probably comes to mind is sick, but it's a sick fucking world and most of the time what a horror writer is going to give you is a reflection of that.

Set in a gritty part of Atlantic City, the story is told from the point of view of a female vampire who stalks her prey, a twisted serial killer with a small penis, for who she has plans.  She observes the scenes of necrophilia, which though graphic are not presented in a way that is meant to arouse or titillate.  Oh, she has plans for him that are almost as sick and twisted, giving him a taste of his own medicine and forcing him to endure a torturous living death that will make even the most hard core gore hounds, and even torture porn lovers, cringe.

Trees has a definite way with words, although her present tense POV through an exceptionally long narrative seems a little tedious at times, and I did have the feeling she let her tenses slip at points, although I can't site an instance that stuck in my mind.  The fact of the matter is it is one of those stories you feel you just have to finish, so it keeps you going forward instead of looking back.

If you like a good, gruesome and edgy story this one is for you.  I give it Four and One Half Stars overall, and can't wait to read more of what Diana Trees has to offer.

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Wine-ebook/dp/B0050YUZTM
Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/divine-wine-diana-trees/1102799447
Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59804
eBook Store:  http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/diana-trees/divine-wine/_/R-400000000000000401826

Blog:  http://dianatrees.blogspot.com/

Master Vyle

Review: Shock Totem # 1 from Shock Totem


Okay, so this is the point where I stop making comments about not having very much faith in anthologies due to the fact that anthologies and story collections (even collections of a single author) are collections of uneven story telling.  This opinion was formed at a time when there were only print collections available from mainstream publishers.  As I have said before eBook publishing has leveled the playing field, and now it seems every collection I get in eBook format from an independent or independent group is showing me that writers who care about good stories and good story telling are stepping up the game.  Plus since I have yet to review a truly uneven mix of stories in an eBook collection it seems kind of pointless to mention the fact I traditionally dislike anthologies and collections every time I review one.

Up for review this time out is Shock Totem #1 - Curious Tales Of The Macabre And Twisted (and boy is it ever).  Now if you're not familiar with Shock Totem (as I wasn't, but the book kept coming up on my suggested read list) it is a website and eZine dedicated to horror stories.  It has distributed several issues of its magazine in print, and the first one is available for eReader, containing reprints of the stories and interviews from people in the horror writing business.  Now I'm not much of a Q&A reading guy, and pretty much skimmed over those, but believe me the stories in the issue are more than enough to make this purchase worth it.

Here's a look at what's inside:


The Music Box by T.L. Morganfield
Imagine Toy Story 3 with violence and murder!  Yes Morganfield admits that a twisted version of Toy Story was what was in mind when this story was written.  A husband and wife's favorite toys battle it out, literally, for the affections of their son.  However things become darker and twisted when the war escalates to include toy vs, human.  Five Stars!

'Til Death Do Us Part by Jennifer Pelland
I hate flash fiction as most of you know, and feel it is the speed dating of the literary world.  However when someone truly does something other than string together a few words that don't really go together to try to tell a story and actually succeeds in giving you a chill in less than half a page I call it utter brilliance.  No, not even a zombie apocalypse will keep will keep him from the altar.  Six Stars!!!!!!!  Oh, yeah!

Murder For Beginners by Mercedes M. Yardley
A nice and quirky look at the aftermath of a murder that the killers and everyone else seems perfectly okay with.  I've already told the Soska sisters they need to check it out (maybe they will want to secure the film rights).  Five Stars.

First Light by Les Berkley
A man has a visit from the spirit of the recently departed.  Set in a kind of alternate western town Berkley packs this one with lots of atmosphere and subtle tension.  Five Stars.

Complexity by Don D'Ammassa
Everything is connected.  A man becomes a prisoner to irrational fears and obsessions.  Or is he?  If you've ever felt technology was an enemy with a mind and agenda of its own you'll really dig this one.  Five Stars.

Mulligan Stew by Brian Rosenberger
Short and sweet.  In my opinion the weakest entry, but that doesn't mean it isn't well written.  Guess who's coming to dinner and who's being served?  Four Stars.

Below The Surface by Pam L. Wallace
In a far away kingdom a princess falls victim to her jealous sister.  Her body dies but her spirit remains, refusing to go until she can assure her son escapes her fate.  Never underestimate the power of a mother's love.  Five Stars.

Slider by David Niall Wilson
An auctioneer listens in disbelief to the tale of an old timer as he spins a yard about a cursed baseball.  He won't be skeptical about curses for very much longer though.  Another Five Star tale packed with atmosphere and wrapped with good old fashioned story telling.

The Dead March by Brian Rappatta
Aaron is a lonely boy but he has the ability to make friends.  He has the power to bring back the dead.  Unfortunately his dad does not understand his gift and takes all his friends away as he finds them, even his mother.  Aaron will make him understand.  He will make more friends than anyone can stop.  A great twist on the zombie apocalypse genre, and my favorite story in the collection.  Six F'n Stars!!!!!!

Thirty-Two Scenes From A Dead Hooker's Mouth by Kurt Newton
Yeah, if "Dead Hooker" is in the title it's got to be good, and it is.  Newton gives up 32 brief scenes in the life of a dead hooker in reverse and all centering in some way on her mouth.  A great closer to a great collection.  Five Stars.



This collection will leave you hooked and wanting to see more from the crew at Shock Totem (who call themselves A Cast Of Nasties, which is by the way the title of one of my favorite Smashed Gladys songs).  It also contains a couple of interviews (as I mentioned before), author bios and site information, submission guideline, and front and back cover art that are killer and continue with each issue.  'Til Death Do Us Part and The Dead March alone are worth the price of the eBook version.  This is definitely a collection that won't leave you feeling cheated.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shock-Totem-Curious-Macabre-ebook/dp/B0057U14BC
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shock-totem-1-curious-tales-of-the-macabre-and-twisted-k-allen-wood/1103996820

Shock Totem Website: http://www.shocktotem.com/

Lurk for it, as well as print editions of issue #2 through 4!


Master Vyle

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: The Abandoned by Amanda Stevens


Have you ever picked up a book while shopping and forgot that you bought it?  This was kind of the case with this short novel The Abandoned by Amanda Stevens.  I was going through my Kindle and looking for something to read when I was like, Oh, I remember the cover but I don't remember getting it.  I made an impulse purchase one day I'm sure while stocking up on cheap and free titles and ended up with it.  The novel itself is billed as a prequel to The Graveyard Queen Series, and who doesn't love a good story or series about graveyards?  Not me, so I know that was what hooked me in to snagging this title.

I'll admit to one of my first eReader compulsions being going into the file and choosing the cover as a location (again I am a cover art lover and love to see one across the screen).  Well from the cover I always "flip" through to the beginning, and as I did I saw a little something else I missed, a great big Harlequin Romance logo and publishing information.  Now okay, I'll admit that dime romance stories and such fluff aren't my forte, but I have read a couple here and there in the past, so I decided to give The Abandoned a chance.

The story is about a university student and mental hospital volunteer Ree Hutchins, who also happens to be the daughter of a Private Eye (yeah I know she was going to be a Cowgirl-Astronaut-Robot-Veterinarian-CEO of a big company and a Super Model when she grew up), who becomes involved in some intrigue following the death of her favorite patient at the private mental hospital.  The ghost of the deceased woman leads her to the graveyard where she meets Hayden Priest a young attorney set to take the bar and amateur ghost hunter (no I'm not making that up).  With Hayden's help she begins to investigate the ominous Coffin And Claw Society, and has a talk with her former school-mate, the titular Graveyard Queen herself, Amelia Gray.

"I'm a ghost hunter, you've got a ghost.  Match made in heaven.  Or hell, depending."

For what it is I have to say that The Abandoned is not a bad little story.  In fact, remembering that it is from Harlequin and who their target audience actually is, I have to give it Four Stars.  Yes, I know some hardcore horror readers will find it lame, and even though much of the investigation and character thought processes is pretty Nancy Drew it doesn't stop The Abandoned from having its moments.  Stevens give us as hot and steamy little sex scene near the end that is definitely more than enough to get the juices going.  The story also has a step-brother/step-sister incest scene followed by a cemetery gang bang that (although not too explicit) is definitely not your standard Harlequin fare.  There are plenty of red herrings and some Scooby-Doo moments, but the above mentioned plot elements keep this out of the range of standard juvenile fiction.  Perhaps what the story suffers from most it that fact that Ree is pretty much a one-dimensional character who comes off as a weak female who thinks like a jealous 15 year old when she really needs to be stronger and more dynamic, especially when most of her supporting characters are more well rounded.

If you don't particularly care for the dime romance genre you would want to avoid this book.  For my part I again say it was not all that bad, but there is also not enough to interest me in checking out the rest of The Graveyard Queen Series.

Here is where you can get you copy of The Abandoned for eReader or download:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Abandoned-ebook/dp/B004RQD3J8
Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-abandoned-amanda-stevens/1030477177
Reader Store:  http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/amanda-stevens/the-abandoned/_/R-400000000000000353484

Master Vyle

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hearing Those Words, "I Bought Your Book"!


Today I reached a milestone, and it was a surreal moment that left Me feeling giddy for the rest of the day.  August 25, 2011, is the day I heard the words I had dreamed of hearing from the moment I first sat down and wrote a story that wasn't a part of a school assignment.  I've dreamed about it and imagined how it would come for 25 years, how it would sound, what that moment would be.  Of course it came out of the blue, and I was totally unprepared for it.

"I bought your book."

This was said to Me by a member of the management team at work, someone I felt pretty unlikely to buy or read My available works so far because of their adult nature.  I learned that she knew I was published a couple of weeks ago, and when she first mentioned buying one I did warn her that they were all erotic in nature.  She said she would wait for Me to write a horror novel, just in case she found reading erotica from someone she knew to be a little too weird.

She changed her mind, however, informing Me as I was on My way out the door.

"Which one?," I asked.

"The one with the big blond woman on the front."

Already giddy, excited and taken off guard the only thing I could think of to say was, "That's My wife on the cover."

She tried to apologize, thinking she had offended Me, but I explained that, and actually said that, I was feeling a little giddy.  It was unexpected.  I had seen comments online before, and "chatted" through print online, have even been read by a high school classmate, but never before had anyone said to Me, face to face and in person, "I bought your book."

Of course it isn't the monetary gain that I was fixated on.  I had not been expecting trumpets or grandier (things of course I had dreamed of early on).  But just hearing it period, after so many years of being content that writing was only going to be a private hobby, made Me feel that I had made it.  I achieved a forgotten goal.  I have mentioned before that My intention was not to let another year pass without making a royalty check, which is already an accomplished goal, but I have to admit that I really had not set any others, aside from the hope of finishing a couple of projects.  Even reworking and publishing A Day In The Life Of Abagail King as a fully fledged novel was a spur of the moment decision.

So here I am, a goal and a desire accomplished, out of the blue and with no warning.

"I bought your book."

Would I like to hear it again, and again?

Yes, of course.

However, I seriously doubt that any time that I hear it after today that it's going to have the giddiness inducing and somewhat humbling effect that it did that first time.

Thanks Sarah!

Master Vyle

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Twitch by Thomas Scopel


Sometimes you pick up a story for various reasons.  Sometimes it has a interesting and eye catching cover.  Sometimes the "jacket" information speaks to you and says, "Hey, this sounds pretty interesting.  It's probably worth your while to eventually give it a read."  Sometimes reviews will build up a story and make you feel pretty sure that you have a winner, even before you read the first page.  Thomas Scopel's Twitch has be the triple threat on those accounts at first glance.  Great cover art, interesting, but not really too much to give away what is coming from inside the novel, and not one to give you a red herring to make you assume what the story is about while having nothing to do with it in reality.  Great description, definitely more than enough to make someone want to invest in buying a copy.  Then four great reviews that make comparisons of the novel against Shelly's Frankenstein and classic episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Well I know better than anyone that having plenty going on on the outside of a book does not necessarily equate to a good story.  Believe me, like so many others I have bought dozens of dogs over the years and felt robbed.  Critical acclaim is of course often the opinion of the reviewer, though usually on target, sometimes a reviewer will talk up a story based on their opinion alone, while others (such as in this case) leave one wondering if the reviewers even read the story at all.

Okay, before I go any further let me say that Twitch is not a totally awful novel.  In fact it starts off hot, a testament to Scopel's imagination and story telling ability.  The problem is that he only truly shines in the first chapter.  I think seeing that this book had so much potential and went south so quickly actually made me feel double disappointed, and more than slightly robbed.  It was almost as if Scopel was doing his best to cram an epic story (1,000 pages +) into the space of a 250 to 300 pages, and in turn greatly sacrificing the quality of the story.

Twitch starts out as the story of McB, a man who spent nearly his entire childhood in an orphanage, now the owner of a traveling carnival, and his latest acquisition, Twitch, a creature of unknown origin, an armless and legless torso which usually only looks out at the world with a single white eye.  McB feels a kind of kinship and sympathy for the creature after seeing him in a competitor's show, and the creature's former owner warns him that once he felt the same way, but once he had Twitch in his show things began to change and he assures McB he will someday feel the same.  Chapter One is a very interesting character study, and it leaves the readers hungry for the main course.  This is the kind of chapter most writers aspire to write because they know that once the reader makes it through they're hooked.  I finished up and moved on, waiting to see the story of the sympathetic Carine and his new attraction unfold.

Unfortunately that never happens.  For the rest of the novel McB and Twitch's relationship is only commented on third hand, enough to let you know that he takes a genuine interest in the creature as a person, but not enough to truly build a real feel of what their relationship is like, or what McB thinks and feels for Twitch as time moves on.  Instead of following what the reader will feel is the heart of the story after reading the first chapter the novel quickly devolves into episodic chapters where in slasher film style various characters who are totally unlikeable are introduced and given a brief background for the express purpose of being killed off in some horrible way.  Most of the deaths are nice and bloody and hearken back to some great scenes penned by Stephen King and William W. Johnstone, however bloody and violent deaths do not a great story make.  Death at the carnival comes to a quick climax as the carnival catches fire, costing the lives of douche bags and innocents alike.

From there the story, now at the halfway point and still at least retaining the ability to hold the reader's attention to want to know what comes next, becomes a complete train wreck.  The story shifts back to the creature's origin, and is revealed to be the product of a rape of a witch by a religious zealot in 1692.  For the last half of the story the reader has to trudge through from the mother's point of view, through her late childhood, to her marriage to a local doctor and convincing him she is a worthy assistant, to the assault on her, then her trial for witchcraft and imprisonment, to the creature's birth and finally to her execution and Twitch eventually being sold to a traveling carnival.

In the final chapter the reader is taken back to modern times and the aftermath of the fire.  There we see McB looking over a medical report made some 30 years before on Twitch, which is meant to offer some insight on what his condition is, which really only speculates that the creature is very old, or at least will live to be very old.  The despondent McB checks a final time so see that Twitch has perished, before taking a gun and doing himself in.

Okay, yes, the last little bit of the story makes it seem hopeless, and leaves the reader wondering, what was the point?  Honestly, in my opinion, the point was lost on the first half of the novel being scenes of death to some people who probably deserved it, instead of focusing on what Scopel seemed to be building on in Chapter One, the story of the carnival owner and the freak he feels a kind of kinship with.  I think if this had been a well defined concept in the story, and if no time was wasted on going back to explain Twitch's origin and instead focused on building just a bit more on the characters who become victims of Twitch's revenge instead of simply making them into gory death fodder, this would have been a much more well rounded story.  Presented that way the reader would have surely gotten from the first chapter to the last chapter without wondering, What The Fuck?

There are a few other drawbacks that help to keep this story from attaining a higher rating than it actually does.  The contemporary part of the story takes place in 2009, but the characterizations and attitudes within the story, as well as the presentation of the carnival setting, seem more well in tune with the 1960's or 1970's, mid-80's at the very latest.  A glaring mistake dates the last chapter in 2010 instead of 2009.  A traveling carnival in the 1692-93 part of the story is pretty much out of place in the late 17th Century as carnivals really did not take off until later in the 18th Century, and the sideshow and ten-in-one did not really take off until the 1920's.  The story and characterizations of the 1692-93 characters are flat, and I was reminded of Elizabeth Lloyd's Witch Child, which trudged along from beginning to end and really went nowhere at all.  The sinister clergyman, who should come off as a dynamic character seems to be a pale rehash of any other corrupted or fallen religious character portrayed in any number of period pieces (Arhtur Dimmesdale, any version of the Reverend Trask from any version of Dark Shadows) with a dash of Salem's historic Cotton Mather thrown in for good measure.

Now this is the point where I'm sure you're betting that I'm going to tell you to avoid Thomas Scopel and Twitch at all cost, however I'm not going to do that.  For all that is lacking and for all of the places that it fails Twitch is not totally unreadable or unlikable.  Despite the loss of focus this novel is a worthy read because you can still get a glimpse of Scopel's genius, and I am sure that upon reading this story you will reach the same conclusion, that Scopel can tell a deep and entertaining story, and probably will deliver best seller worthy works as long as the focus remains on the story of the characters as opposed to focusing on the horror elements and perhaps unnecessary history.  I give Twitch Three Stars and hope to see more from Thomas Scopel in the future and watch as his story telling progresses.

You can find out more about Thomas Scopel by visiting his website and his blog.  He has quite a few other works of varying lengths out there, and I myself an looking forward to checking them out.

Blog: www.stayingscared.blogspot.com
Website: www.thomasscopel.com

Twitch is available for eBook and download:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Twitch-ebook/dp/B005CWGFKK
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twitch-ebook/dp/B005CWGFKK
Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/Twitch-ebook/dp/B005CWGFKK
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twitch-thomas-scopel/1104299298
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/73755

Even though I didn't think that Twitch was the greatest it is definitely enough to make me look forward to Thomas Scopel's future releases, and at $0.99 it is definitely worth the price to get a glimpse at a writer in progress.

Master Vyle

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some Of Stoker's Other Works


Bram Stoker.  When most people hear the name they immediately think of Count Dracula, Lugosi's accent, undead aristocrats, Christopher Lee, romantic strolls by goth and emo kids in old cemeteries, Gary Oldman with bat wing nub arms, and about 1,000 other cliches that surround his novel Dracula or The Un-Dead.  The few who do not usually conjure up the sounds and images of a handful of films based on some of his other works, films usually billed as (in his best 80's deep voiced voice over guy), "A tale of horror from the mind of Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula."

Yeah it happens.  And truth be told whenever any wannabe little goth kid wants to be a vampire the first thing they do is buy some black clothes, some dark eye make-up, and a copy of Dracula (which they give up on after a couple of days before renting or downloading Tod Browning's Dracula or Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula).

As with Mary Shelly and her creation, Frankenstein, Stoker's body of work is most often overshadowed by Dracula.  Are his other works classics, well no, not by any means.  If they were everyone would be familiar with them.  The fact is that Stoker's body of work beyond Dracula is an assortment of stories that are good, bad and occasionally ugly.  Many leave the modern reader scratching their head, however, sometimes when you really look at the content you can see that Stoker was ahead of his time, or perhaps as in touch with his time as writers of today are in touch with their own.

Here is a look at four of Bram Stoker's other works.  Three of them have been made into movies that quite often do not do them justice, sometimes make them more interesting, and perhaps are most often made with the intention on cashing in on name recognition.


The Chain Of Destiny (1875)
This novella was initially published in four parts in The Shamrock.  It tells the story of a young man who comes to stay at an old estate with that has been recently acquired by his friends and mature benefactors, Mr. and Mrs. Trevor.  Mrs. Trevor has it in mind to set our hero, Frank, up with the lovely Miss Fothering.  It turns out that a curse has been placed in wait of the fairest of the Fothering's to set foot on the estate, and Frank's intended fits the bill.

For most readers I am sure this tale will be quite tedious, but it does have it's moments, including a self-mutilation and suicide scene which was probably scandalous in the late 19th Century.  Also I got the impression that old Mrs. Trevor had more than chaste and motherly feelings toward Frank.  It may seem lame to most by today's standards, but it is still interesting to read over and try to determine what Stoker was saying about the morals and society of his own time.

Burial Of The Rats (1878)
This short story was made into a movie in 1995 by Roger Corman.  It is the tale of a man investigating some of the more unsavory denizens of Paris, only to end up being chased by a group who wants to rob and murder him.  Through the course of the story a couple of his pursuers meet their ends, and they receive "the burial of the rats", meaning that rats quickly descend on the bodies and strip them clean, like land-borne piranhas.

I was really reminded of Poe and Lovecraft as I read this one, due in parts to the setting and the style in which the tale is told in, the narrator revealing his horror while being chased around the backstreets of Paris by the unknown.  If you like the other two then this story is right up your alley, so to speak.

The Jewel Of Seven Stars (1903)
This Stoker novel has made it to film twice, as Blood Of The Mummy's Tomb and The Awakening.  A mystery surrounds a household once its patriacrh is suddenly stricken and put into an unnatural coma.  Once his partner in Egyptology arrives the truth is revealed, an ancient Egyptian queen is trying to resurrect herself, and she plans on getting a little help from the one who has taken her body and raided her tomb.

This is a long and tedious story, almost a mystery story with the pace of a slasher film, but without the slasher.  Still, if you want to be a Stoker completest it is a must read, and it serves as proof that mummy stories were out some 30 years before Universal made the original The Mummy.

Lair Of The White Worm (1911)
Yes, I know.  The title alone conjures up nasty thoughts, even for those who have never seen Ken Russell's film adaptation.  A woman moves into an old estate, and death and insanity surround her.  The Lady Arabella Marsh is perhaps Stoker's best known character aside from Count Dracula, probably more due to Russell's film than the fact that it was Stoker's final novel.  It's another slow paced story, where everyone knows where the evil vileness is and what she has done, but yet they do not bother to stop her, or turn her over to the authorities.  Makes you wonder how most of the characters in the story make it through alive.  Yes, it's no wonder Russell filled his film with Roman soldiers raping nuns, pencils that stood for erections, a catchy little song, snake vampires and giant snake-headed strap-ons.

The story has some interesting little bits of goriness, as well as an evil black magician openly lusting after a white woman, which surely must have been controversial for the early years of the 20th Century.  It's another one of those reads if you're a Stoker completest, and interesting if you want to see more of Stoker's take on the morals and values of his own time.


So if you're daring and have a little patience, and you want to check out what Bram Stoker wrote other than Dracula and Dracula's Guest then you can check out these and other works, which are much more readily available than they were 14 years ago and I busted My ass trying to get my hands on the copy of Lair Of The White Worm.  There are various collections available from Amazon and Barnes & Nobel as well as some stories available online from various free story sites.


Master Vyle


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: His Voice, His Command by Vonna Harper


Okay, you see the cover, and you probably know what I was thinking before I even got to the first line of text.  Yep, another piece of cheese from Ellora's Cave.  And yeah, that's what I was thinking.  However, once I got into this little short story His Voice, His Command by Vonna Harper, I found out I was oh, so wrong.

Once you get past Ellora's Cave little legal blurb about how apparently the hold the word Quickies as a registered trade mark you're dropped right into the middle of a little scene between business woman, Rina Richards, and an un-named dominant man in a locked room from which Rina knows she can't escape.  It's a short and sweet tale of a strong person in their real life letting go and sexually submitting.  Plus did I mention it was HOT?  Yes, this story really spoke to Me, and even the fact that you're probably going to figure out that her captor is either a man-whore or a dominant for hire before the end of the story does nothing to detract from it.

This damn sure ain't no "Erotic Romance" by any stretch of the imagination, and it makes One wonder why Ellora's Cave published it in the first place, because it doesn't fit in with the moldy cheese fare I've read from them so far.  In My opinion it's a fucking crime that this story is being given away for free.  Looking on Amazon and a couple of other sites the story has gotten mixed reviews, I'm sure many of the bad one coming from people actually looking for that Erotic Romance cheese, the same way most people rate Loving Wives stories poorly on Literotica.Com because they don't understand it's hot wives and cuckolds and not faithfully loving wives.  For Me personally this was a Five Star effort all the way.

I loved the About The Author section at the end which reveals that she has a great sense of humor and does not take herself or her writing deadly seriously.  His Voice, His Command has Me ready for more stories from Vonna Harper, and at the moment the only problem I seem to have is narrowing down which one I want to read next.

His Voice, His Command is available for free for eReaders and PC download:
Amazon.Com: http://www.amazon.com/His-Voice-Command-ebook/dp/B003SX128K
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Voice-Command-ebook/dp/B003SX128
Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/His-Voice-Command-ebook/dp/B003SX128K
Sony eBook Store: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/vonna-harper/his-voice-his-command

You can check out more from Vonna Harper on her website: http://www.vonnaharper.com

Be sure to check her out, and add this little BDSM gem to your collection!


Master Vyle


Review: Vampire's Retribution by Jeremiah Coe


This week I had a chance to read a short story by an up and coming independent horror writer, Jeremiah Coe, and I have to say that he didn't disappoint the vampire lover in me.  Having found him on FaceBook I already knew he was a hardcore Twit-light hater, so I went into Vampire's Retribution with high hopes.  In this short story Jeremiah Coe makes a great effort to steer fans back to the things that make vampires vampires and away from stuff that makes them sparkle. Coe gives us his own unique ideas on the vampire condition and does his best to take you into the gritty little towns of post Civil War America in 32 pages.

The story opens with gambler turned card dealer Carl Tamell being unceremoniously being tossed off the Southern Queen by a pair of thugs under the orders of the boat's owner, Walter Uptoll, as the captain idly lets it happen, because Carl and the house have been having a bad night at the Black Jack table.  Of course from the word go this story spoke to Me, hearkening back to My days as a cage banker at the St. Joe Frontier Casino.  Carl makes it to dry land, despite getting his head nailed on the dock on his way into the water.  He makes his way to the next town wet and broke, and immediately starts looking for a job with no more luck than he was having at the Black Jack table.  Then, just when he thought his day couldn't get any worse, he is attacked by a vampire while falling to sleep in a back alley.

The Vampire Gaius show Carl mercy when he begs for his life, so he helps Carl turn instead of bleeding him dry and letting him die.  Afterward the two begin a several day's ride to one of Gaius's refuges, and along the way Gaius teaches Carl some of the ways and history of the vampire.  Once settled in the refuge house, however, Carl is overcome with the need to take revenge on the people who have cost him his old life and to ensure that they never do the same to anyone else.  Despite Gaius's doubts that he is ready to face the world on his own he lets Carl ride out in search of his vengeance.

Overall I give Vampire's Retribution Four Stars because as well written, and as entertaining as it is, it is not without a few flaws.  The story's pacing is excellent almost all the way through, however Carl's need for revenge seems to come fairly suddenly and unannounced, especially considering the amount of time the story spends detailing the two vampires' journey to reach Gaius's refuge.  Plus Coe uses a few concepts just a little out of sync when you consider that the story is a period piece, set 5 years after the American Civil War.  Coe introduces an interesting take on where zombies come from as well, although the old term ghoul would have been more appropriate for the period. Nit-pickers will point out that "millions" was not as common as a concept as it is today, and vampires themselves where not as well known at that time, despite the fact that Carl seems to understand much about them.  America only has one folk tale that mirrors incidents from the time of the European "Vampire Craze".  Vampires themselves really didn't enter popular culture in America (and worldwide) until after the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was published in 1897, 27 years after the setting of this story.  Le Fanu's Carmilla would be published a year after this story takes place.  That is not to say that Carl Tamell would not have been familiar with Padori's The Vampyre or Rymer's Varney The Vampire, but again the more defined notion of the modern vampire, their powers and weaknesses does come from Dracula.

Anyway, I'm sure that most readers will enjoy this story and will not be bothered by those little details, just as I did.  As for Carl Tramell and Gaius I'm hooked and would love to see more of their adventures, or even better, see this story turn into a fully flushed out novel.  I look forward to greater things from Coe in the future and so should you.

Vampire's Retribution is available for eReaders and PC download:
Amazon.Com: http://www.amazon.com/Vampires-Retribution-ebook/dp/B004XQWLWC
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vampires-Retribution-ebook/dp/B004XQWLWC
Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/Vampires-Retribution-ebook/dp/B004XQWLWC
SmashWords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55548

Be sure to check out a great story from one of the new voices of horror.

Master Vyle

Review: Dead Hooker In A Trunk


A few weeks ago I had a chance to see a movie that had been on My "to watch" list, Dead Hooker In A Trunk.  Yes, for those of you who have not heard of this film it probably sounds like it should be paired up as a grindhouse double feature with Hobo With A Shotgun, and yeah in all reality it probably should.  This is the vision and debut film of Jen and Sylvia Soska, a pair of twins from Canada who are crafty, creative, sexy and definately twisted, as their Twisted Twins production company with a logo that is a pair of small "t's" which look like gravestones would imply.

Now I love independent films. even the really bad ones and especially off the wall ones.  For those unaware before Peter Jackson began putting out Lord Of The Rings, and Sami Rami began making Spider-Man films that they had both churned out outrageous splatterfest like Brain Dead, Bad Taste and the Evil Dead Trilogy.  So if Dead Hooker In A Trunk seems a little off the wall, wild and wierd, remember that some of the biggest names in movies started out the same way.

I have seen some people complain that the plot seemed jumbled, that the sound and camera work was shoddy, and that the situations are pretty unbelievable, as well as the fact that none of the characters really seem to have any names.  However, if you love the indies that won't bother you at all, because such things are standard fare.

Given the basics: A pair of sisters, played by the Soska's themeselves, (one a bad-ass and the other one a geek), head out with their band member druggie female friend to pick up Geek Sister's youth church group leader friend.  Bad-Ass Sister catches the eye of the Youth Minister at the church, a small event that becomes more important later in the film.

Well it isn't too long before the foursome discover that there's an extra occupant in the car, the titular Dead Hooker in the trunk, a local prostitute that Bad-Ass Sister and Druggie Friend know from the club they hang out at.  From there it's surreal situation after surreal situation.  They check into a motel where a creepy night clerk hugged up with a goat lets them have a room after Geek Sister convinces him that their friend (the Dead Hooker) thinks he's hot and wants to have sex with him.  Oh, yeah, a little unintentional necrophillia.  Later on a pair of bumbling cops track Bad-Ass Sister down, only to be tricked into being stripped and put into a compromising position with each other, and of course to be later found by Pervert Motel Clerk.

Later on they go by Druggie Friend's boyfriend's so she can fight with him and then have make-up sex.  However it seems that the Cowboy Pimp watching the door is in cahoots with some Asian Drug Dealers that Boyfriend owes money to.  Boyfriend is killed and Druggie nearly has her arm severed before Bad-Ass takes out the whole Asian Trio in an over the top fight and gun scene set to a little J-Pop.  Meanwhile someone whacks Geek Sister in the head as she is waiting outside of the car causing her eye to fly out of her head.

Well, the group regroups momentarily, Geek fixing her eye with an X of black tape, while the others argue on the street.  As Druggie throws her wounded arn out in frustration it is taken the rest of the way off by a passing semi, and believe it or not Druggie stays on her feet for the entire scene.  Getting more in to unbelievable territory?  Well it is an independent film, and I think the Soskas showed a lot of guts by not trying to make some of the action real or even serious.

After regrouping again the foursome heads to the woods, where Youth Group Leader sews Druggie's arm back on, and it works as good as new.  After some pot smoking and talking the group decides to bury Dead Hooker.  Just as Bad-Ass is about to shovel the first shovel full of dirt on top of her following a eulogy by Youth Group Leader, Dead Hooker sits up.  Bad-Ass whacks her full force with the shovel and comments it must be nerves, before continuing to bury Dead Hooker.

Cowboy Pimp returns, complete with horse, demanding that the group give him back his hooker.  He ropes Bad-Ass and drags her behind the horse, before she shoots the rope, then engages in another little fight scene.  After she kills Cowboy Pimp comes one of the funniest moments of the film as Youth Group Leader goes off and cusses out the body.  I don't think that the term "Ass Rape" has been used as effectively in a film until now.

Well feeling everything is over the group head back to town and go their seperate ways, Druggie Friend to the hospital because her arm has fallen off again.  Eventually they are all drawn to the house where Dead Hooker lived to discover that she had a dog and that she was afraid of a Hooker Killer who was mentioned in the news paper in her house.  There is a police sketch of the killer in the paper, and as the group exits Dead Hooker's house they see him walking down the street, and know they have to bring him to justice.

What happens next is a surreal and violent scene.  Hooker Killler awakes to find himself tied to a chair in Dead Hooker's house.  He looks down to see that there is a bowl between his feet that already contains his severed penis, which the dog begins to eat.  He starts screaming for help and protesting his innocence once the sisters tell him that they know he is the Hooker Killer.  What follows is a scene of tortue with household objects as the two sisters take turns mutilating Hooker Killer.

Jen and Sylvia Soska.  Twisted Twins?  For sure!
You may think that's it, but in great indy horror fashion there's a bizzare twist.  It turns out that Hooker Killer is Youth Minister's twin brother, and that Youth Minister is actually Hooker Killer.  The reason he kills women are that they make fun of his penis, which is forked due to being circumsized by a drunken rabbi at his bris.  The Dead Hooker in the trunk was his way of getting Bad-Ass's attention, having picked her out as a target the same night as his encounter with Dead Hooker.  Bad-Ass's sister and their friends fight off Youth Minister/Hooker Killer's gang, and rescue her from Hooker Killer's lair full of dead women.

Now despite its many twist and flaws, and sometimes complete absence of traditional logic I give Dead Hooker In A Trunk Five Stars.  It is a hell of a lot better than Rob Zombie's House Of 1,000 Corpses, which I'm still wishing to get the two hours of My life I lost watching it back.  The Soska sisters have talent, and like those other famous directors I mentioned before them it's easy to see that Dead Hooker In A Trunk is only the tip of their creative iceburg.

If you're a stick in the mud who wants every frame of a movie to look slick, sound crystal clear and make perfect sense, you'll hate it.  There's a fair amout of gore in the places it needs to be, while in some places I'm sure it's either sublte or only implied due to the budget they had to work with.  The lines of humor thrown in are gold, including an early scene where Bad-Ass Sister pulls a strand of huge anal beads off Dead Hooker's body and comments, "I think these are mine", the Youth Group Leader's NC-17 Rated rant, and of course Bad-Ass's response to Geek saying that she though she was dead with, "As if death could kill me."  Plus I have to mention that Dead Hooker In A Trunk features a cameo by the most cheesy fake penis since The Gore Whore.



If you like off the wall films like Bad Taste and Pink Flamingos then Dead Hooker In A Trunk is right up your alley.  It's one of those movies you have to see to appericiate, but in My opinion it doesn't fall into that "so bad" it has to be seen to be appericiated films category, becuase in the end for all its cheesiness and lack of logic Dead Hooker In A Trunk is a great film.  In fact I even told the Soskas if I was ever in an accident and lost a limb I hoped it happened in Canada, where it appears they're doing miricales with reattachments.


Master Vyle

 

St. Pete Beach 2011

St. Petersburg Beach
Okay, so I know I'm a couple of weeks late in getting this post up, but things have been a little hectic.  Last month the lady vyle and Myself took our oldest son, Alex, and his girlfriend, Callie Holland, to stay at the Tradewinds Sandpiper Resort on St. Pete Beach for a couple of days as an added bonus to their vacation and as gift to celebrate their graduation from Savannah High School in Savannah, Missouri.  For Callie it was her first trip to the beach, and she was very excited to see and swim in the ocean, collect shells, and even see and feed seagulls for the first time.  We only had a chance to stay there a couple of days, but I have to say it was one of the most relaxing mini-vacations I have been on in a long time, and The Sandpiper is definitely somewhere I want to stay again real soon.

We spent a big part of the second day on the beach in our own little cabana, a first for Me, where after frolicking in the water and collecting shells we retreated for most of the afternoon. While the kids enjoyed the water the lady vyle napped as I relaxed and read a few things on My Kindle.  We had a picnic lunch, one that was actually enjoyable, because it seems that the seagulls on St. Pete Beach are a bit more classy and less hungry than the ones at Siesta Key.  The local crier was nicknamed, Steve, by Alex, and he waited for us to return to our cabana that evening after we went out to dinner.  The gulls would form a small cloud around the kids, almost as if they were hovering in line and waiting patiently to be fed.  Alex dubbed them "movable shade", but I warned him that that shade did occasionally let out a little exhaust.



Steve the Seagull (Bottom Center).  I like him better than the pesky bastard that hounded us on Siesta Key in February.

We had dinner at one of the little restaurants at The Sandpiper the first evening, but the second night we headed out to a place down the road named, Crabby Bill's.  Just around the corner was a little surf shop that had a pirate skeleton standing in front of it that I knew I wanted my picture with after dinner.  Crabby Bill's was excellent, with a broad selection of surf & turf, as well as some of those more Floridian delicacies (gator tail).  While looking for a place to turn around to go to the surf shop we accidentally found a place called the Candy Kitchen in a little plaza and decided to investigate.


The exterior of the Candy Kitchen, a world of sweet delights.
 Like The Sandpiper and Crabby Bill's the Candy Kitchen is another point of interest I intend to revisit on our next trip to St. Pete Beach.  To say it has almost everything you can imagine is an understatement.  This place had the classics, stuff I had not seen in years as well as things I had only heard of before.  They had bubblegum and candy cigars and cigarettes, which I was shocked to find they were still made.  We picked up a couple of packs that had been My favorite as a kid, bubble gum sticks wrapped in paper colored to look like a cigarette and filled with a bit of powdered sugar so that you blow into them and it looks like smoke is coming out of them.  I picked up several different kinds of Now And Laters, a few Black Cows, Chiclets and even Tiny-Size Chiclets.  The lady vyle bought Razzles, saltwater taffy and the kids loaded up on a few things to get their own sugar high going.  My wife got a chocolate covered banana and we all got classic bottles sodas, a Coke for Alex, an Orange Crush for Callie, Birch Beer for the lady vyle, and A Moxie for Me.

Before leaving we got to add our signatures to the encouraged graffiti on the wall.  The Candy Factory provides assorted colored Sharpies for this, and ask that you please only sign in one place.  I put Mine in between a couple of shelves were there was space and signed it, "Michael C. Laney, Author Of Heather's Journey".  It didn't occur to Me to get a picture of it, but hopefully they haven't repainted for a new batch before our next visit.  So if you're going to St. Pete Beach sometime soon be sure to drop by the Candy Factory to see if you can find it and maybe get a picture of it of your own.

Coming out of the Candy Factory quite a few bucks lighter and with a bag of loot we all sat down to enjoy our drinks, as well as a little of our dessert.

Callie, Alex and the lady vyle ready for some evening refreshment.
The sexy lady vyle enjoys her chocolate dipped banana, with NUTS!

The lady vyle shows off the Banana Boat impression left on the bottom of her chocolate dipped banana by the Banana Boat bowl.

The Loot: Chiclets, Tiny-Size Chiclets, Razzles, Black Cows and bubble gum cigarettes (Kings and Round Up).  Won't truth.com be pissed?

My first Moxie.  If you've never had one it's like a cross between Root Beer and Dr. Pepper, and very tasty.  I can't wait to buy more.
After our dessert we got back into the car and headed over to the surf shop.  Unfortunately I did not get its name, but it was around the corner from Crabby Bill's.  I hadn't been in a surf shop of any kind, not even at the mall, since I moved to Missouri.  They had some skull bead bracelets I would love to have, and they are on My list if they still carry them whenever we have our next trip to St. Pete Beach.  They had everything a surf punk needs, including a pair of orange framed Oakley sunglasses.  Yeah, My brain said I wanted them, but at $110.00 My wallet was saying, "No, Sir."

Yo-Ho, and Yai-Yo Yai-YO! This salty pirate had waited outside the surf shop all day to get his picture with Michael C. Laney.  I'm not sure who's cup was running overith more.
Speaking of orange, I loved the bedroom in out little suite at The Sandpiper.  Not only was it big but it had orange walls!  I figured that it might make a good About The Author picture someday, so I had Alex take a couple of pictures of Me.  It didn't look very well as a FaceBook profile picture, but I know when cropped just right it has potential.


Make Mine orange.  I would love it if My real bedroom had orange walls.  It would give Me another excuse not to want to get out of bed every day.
 After getting back to our room I went out with Alex and Callie to take pictures of them feeding the seagulls as the lady vyle relaxed in our room.  Steve was waiting for them to get back, and a few cries attracted several of his friends.  I took pictures and strolled up and down the beach to take some scenic pictures as well as pictures of sand castles and shells.  Speaking of shells we each found several, the lady vyle and Myself adding to our collection for our shell lamp, and Alex and Callie starting theirs.  Alex discovered one of his shells was not quite unoccupied, so they took it to the beach so the hermit crab which had claimed it could return to nature.

Movable Shade?  Alex and Callie feed the seagulls.
The next morning we packed up the car and checked out, heading down the road to the IHOP that the lady vyle had spotted the night before as we looked for a place to turn around to get to the surf shop.  For the lady vyle you haven't really been on a trip or vacation unless you've eaten at least one meal at an IHOP.  Then we paid a visit to the Florida Holocaust Museum, after getting lost and having to backtrack from nearly to home.  My camera had died before we got there, which was unfortunate because there was some very interesting penis graffiti on an abandoned bar across the street from the museum.  Then we headed back home to unpack and rest before the lady vyle and I had to go back to work the next day.

I don't think any of us can wait until we get that next chance to go to The Sandpiper, and after hearing the details of our trip Quentin wants to go as well.  If I could afford it I would love just to go there and stay for a month.  It's so relaxing, and not only would it be a great place to write, but I'm sure it would be a great place to get ideas.  Which reminds Me that as we pulled away and turned to get onto the highway we saw an adult store called, Shhhhh...Don't Tell Momma, which is also on My list of points of interest to visit the next time I'm in St. Pete Beach.

Master Vyle

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: One Buck Horror: Volume Two from One Buck Horror



Okay, I know I may be sounding like a broken record about now, but once again I'm usually not of fan of anthologies because quite often you get one or two good stories at the most, hemmed in by a lot of literary gristle.  However, knowing that there was a second volume of One Buck Horror coming quickly on the heels of the first collection I had high hopes for it considering the quality stories of that volume.  Well folks, One Buck Horror: Volume Two did not disappoint Me in the very least.

Volume Two was not only better than Volume One, but it also exceeded my expectations. If you want to see the best in new horror from a new crop of independent authors, then you need to look no further than One Buck Horror!   So far on Amazon eight of eight reviews are all five star, and I can only imagine that it is rated just as high elsewhere.  Cover to cover this is hands down the best horror anthology I have ever read.  It delivers everything I felt that Volume One was lacking, and believe Me it wasn't lacking too much.  Like it's predecessor One Buck Horror: Volume Two is a quick and easy read at the right price, and they are stories you will want to read again and again.


Here's a quick look at the stories:

What Swims These Waters by Daniel Ausema
A vacation turns into an exercise in terror as a couple finds themselves at the mercy of small and unseen creatures intent on devouring them alive.  I was taken back to My childhood and reminded of that B horror movie classic The Flesh Eaters as I read this short and sweet little story, which was an excellent lead in to the collection. Five stars.

Holes by Sean Logan
A man heads to a bad house in a bad part of town to find his sister.  What he finds is a drug den beyond imagination.  The partly seen antagonist of this story brought up visions of H.P. Lovecraft mixed with the 456 from Torchwood: Children Of Earth.  Five stars.

Beastie by David Bischoff
The middle and without a doubt the best story in the collection, and I'm not just saying that because one of the protagonists is feline.  A man is shocked when the family cat brings home something that is surely not a rat or a bird.  After seeing the cat with many strange somethings he follows it to the graveyard one night to discover the dead are not resting in peace.  Since I set the standards for all My reviews I'm going to go out on a limb and say six stars!  I sincerely hope to see much more from Mr. Bischoff in the future!

3 Monkeys by Adam Howe
An orderly at a mental hospital learns a new version of the 3 Monkeys, and it begins to play itself out right before his eyes.  Terrifying and true to life, the final moments of this story will really grab you. Five stars.

The Afterlife Of Ellen Easterling by Michael Penkas
Murdered by a serial killer Ellen Easterling spends her days haunting his home as an uncomfortable presence in any way she can make herself be. Serial killers never stop though, and soon she has company.  The darkest and most gritty story in the collection makes sure that this anthology ends as evenly as it began.  Five stars all the way.



To learn more about One Buck Horror, and the contributors to One Buck Horror Volume Two be sure to visit the One Buck Horror website: www.onebuckhorror.com .  Or you can follow One Buck Horror on twitter @OneBuckHorror .


One Buck Horror: Volume Two from One Buck Horror is another collection that you just should not miss, and on a personal note I can't wait to see what future volumes will bring.  Be sure to get your copy for you eReader or PC today.

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/One-Buck-Horror-Two-ebook/dp/B005E59IZO
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Buck-Horror-Two-ebook/dp/B005E59IZO
Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/One-Buck-Horror-Two-ebook/dp/B005E59IZO
Barnes & Nobel: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/One-Buck-Horror/Christopher-Hawkins/e/2940012785220?itm=1&usri=one+buck+horror

One Buck Horror, where the new voices of independent horror speak.



Master Vyle