Saturday, October 29, 2011

Egomania, Runnin' Wild! #DownWithHacks Starts Right Here!

Do independent writers (or even writers in general) have huge egos?

Yeah, most of them (or should I say us?) do.

Hell, mine's bigger than the biggest late 1990's cock ever described to anyone on a Yahoo private message in the age of phones on wires and computers without web cams.

Let's just call that Egomania, brother.  I owe it all to the training, the prayers and the steroids.  WHAT'CHA GONNA DO WHEN EGOMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOOOOOOOOUUUUUUU?

Humph..... Well, I'll tell you what Michael C. Laney is gonna do, brother.

You see, I hear a lot about me, Michael C. Laney/Master Vyle being the go to guy.  Oh, yeah.  Yeah-Ya!  I'm the guy that's not afraid to tell it to you straight.  I'm the guy that tells it like it is.  And the people say, "Man, we love you.  We love you being you and telling it like it is.  Preach on, brother."

Yeah, except for a small segment of Egomaniacs who think it's all good unless it's them.  In the past several weeks I've gotten it from several people.  It actually began a couple of months ago with a friend who told me that they admired me for being who I was and never being afraid to say whatever I thought.  Until that person took exception so something I said.  Then all the sudden I found myself getting talks on fitting in, and playing nice with others.  But, I must admit that that situation is a little off subject, as that is something in my personal life.

Let me get into the writing world.  Independent and fairly independent authors know that place.  You know, the one full of catty and jealous little bitches that would stab you in the back for a penny, or if they feel somewhere inside that maybe you're a better writer than they are.  You know, the place where anyone with less talent than you will do whatever it takes because they're afraid, in a realm where the odds of an indy finding wild and outrageous success is an astronomical anomaly anyway, that you might make it unless they put the kibosh on you.  A world filled with drama queens who put their noses in the air so high it nearly breaks their necks because they're sure that whatever thing they've written is better than anything else anyone else has ever written PERIOD!

There's a term for someone who has no talent and will turn out whatever to make a quick buck, and that term is HACK.  And the only thing worse than a hack is a hack that's an Egomaniac.

Now, it's true that everyone has their own definition of success.  For myself I'll admit it's being out there.  Going to one of many sites that sell eBooks and stories and putting in my name, to see myself listed, to know I am there across the nation and around the world, and that on occasion someone will do me the honor of deciding, Hey, this looks good.  I think I'll buy it and read it.  (Oh, yeah.  I did say do me the honor, because as a published author it's an honor to be read, and not some privilege that I feel I'm granting to someone who wants to spend their hard earned cash to read my works.)

Are all my stories 100% perfect?  No, but I do make an effort to edit them as well as I can, being a one man show.  I continually re-read works I have put out, and I note anything missed in the editing to be corrected as soon as I get the chance.

Are my stories for everyone?  Again, no.  I know not everyone is going to like what I write, and many of my stories cater to a very small demographic.

Are my stories going to get totally positive reviews?  Are you fucking kidding?  In a world where everyone over the age of four has a cell phone or laptop and thinks it's their duty to say whatever they want the answer is no.  I had my first honest to goodness review last month, and everything else up to that point has been "comments".  Truth be told I would like to see a great many more reviews of my works, and that said I am not looking for glowing reviews and recommendations from every person that writes one.  In fact I'm very keen to know what is lacking or may be missing from a work.  Its weaknesses as well as its strengths.  Because I may be an Egomaniac like everyone else in this business, but I also strive to tell the best story I possibly can.

So what is it the Egomaniac hack wants?  Well, to quote the late Too Short. "If you ax-sss me what it's all about I'll say it's about that money."

Yeah, you know.  Money, the great motivator.  It's motivated writers with little or no talent to crank out stories and publish them by any means necessary in the hopes of getting a few quick bucks in their pockets for at least the past two centuries.  For years I used to look at so many crappy stories and know that the only difference between me and them was that they were writing shit, but somehow had enough start up money to hire an agent to fence their crap to third rate publishers, who would sell them to book brokers, who would in turn sell them to book stores.  Now in the 21st Century, the age of the Internet and eBooks, the opportunity has finally come for me (and many other independent authors and writers) to cut out all those middle men.  I write, I submit it to an eBook retailer, DONE.  Unfortunately most of the hacks have also figured that out as well, along with a new generation of slack hacks and plagiarizers.  Many of those retaining a middle man are in business with someone who also does not give a crap about the quality of the work as long as they make that money.

Now for months I've talked about wanting to start a #DownWithHacks movement, a way to mention whenever you come across a total turd disguised as a literary work and be recognized as someone who cares about quality stories and story telling.  Why care?  For the most obvious reason.  Hacks give real writers a bad name.  They're not authors, or even writers.  They're just people who strung a few related words together between 5 and 100 pages and called it a story in the hopes of making a quick buck or two.  I want to get this rolling and bring writers who actually care about their work together on Twitter and das FaceBooken.  So start using DownWithHacks on Twitter, and I should have a page for the movement on FB within the next day or so.

So why after only talking about this idea here and there for the past few months am I suddenly spurred into action?

I've had some correspondence in regard to reviews over the past couple of days that have really burned my ass.  The first was for a review I had offered to do when an acquaintance asked if I would like a pre-release copy of her new novel, which was an expansion of a short story of hers that I had really liked.  After reading the story I was left with the overall impression that it did not work as a novel.  There were some other issues with the work, so I sent her an e-mail to let her know my concerns and to say that my review would most likely contrast the two versions of the story and focus on some of the technical problems in the story.  This received an indignant response from her letting me know she was " to make money" and that "...It would be a shame to get a scathing review on a novel that was not published yet.."

Well, we all have our definitions of success, as well as our own priorities.  I'm refusing to review the work because I will not lie on a review, nor will I endorse a substandard story and suggest anyone reading this blog read it.  Because, yeah, I am the guy that tells it like it is.  I had no problem pointing out flaws from the One Buck Horror collections, some of Jason Darrick's stories, and Jim Bronyaur's novel, and they've had no problem with fault being found in their work.  I do my best to point out a story's weakness and strengths, unless it's a total hack job, which I reminded this author of in my initial e-mail.

Case two.  I was approached by the owner of a small press and her "executive assistant", about the possibility of doing a review on the first straight horror novel from that press because the owner of this little ePublisher liked my review for Ray Sostre's Their First Night Together.  I was flattered and delighted at the offer, especially since the owner of the company is highly endorsing both the novel and its author, assuring me that he's bound for greatness, and that " probably will not believe it was written by an 18 year old."

(Just a little spoiler alert, I will use these words again because hell or high water I'm reviewing the work in question as well as its publisher.)  Oh, yeah.  I can definitely believe it was written by an 18 year old.

Halfway through I stopped reading the manuscript.  The story does have a great premise, and the author has a great imagination.  However his inexperience in writing and in life shows a great deal, and the story comes off looking like a 11th grade creative writing assignment.  There were so many problems, so many facts that turned out to be incorrect that I decided to send the publisher an e-mail to let her know a few of the glaring flaws it had, and to let her know that based on what I had seen a review would be less than favorable.

Well, as an independent writer and owner of her own little publishing house she wrote me back in a fashion that let me know that she was an Egomaniac as well.  It was the most surprising thing I had seen since Twisted Twins Productions reviewed my review of Dead Hooker In A Trunk.  My e-mail was slightly reviewed by Madame Publisher, who informed me that readers of erotica and horror did not care about the facts.  Well if that's the case how does everyone know who Stephen King and Clive Barker are but have no idea who Patricia Wallace or Stephen Gresham are?  She also informed me that, and I quote, "I've virgins who write some of the hottest pieces of erotic literature I've read and obviously that comes from the imagination only."

Yes, boys and girls, I think I've found the 2011 House Of Master Vyle WTF! Statement of The Year in that one.

Who is this nameless author and publisher of which you speak?  You're the guy that tells it like it is, right?

All in good time.  Just a little suspense before the review.

The sad thing is with a little work and research the novel in question would be far from horrible.  Given a little guidance I think the author would go far, but it seems he's just another little cog in the great big hack machine who will never advance (or at least not advance as quickly) as an artist because his publisher doubts anyone who reads it is going to care about the facts.

Are you an independent writer or author?  Are you tired of having your work, or seeing the work of your friends stolen by no talent plagiarizers who want to make a buck and a name off your work?  Are you tired of indifferent publishers and third party brokers that want a cut of your work because they made you believe you would not make a dime without them taking your work to a retailer?  Are you sick of getting that look when you say you've been published either on a story site or in eBook form, and knowing that look means they think you will never have any success because "Everyone knows people that publish that way write crap"?

If you're answering, YES, then join the movement.  Show these little hacks, whacks and plagiarizers what you think.  Call them out.  Tag garbage with DownWithHacks.  You read something that rubs you the wrong way, review it.  Because the fact of the matter is, as writers, there's some of that Egomania in you too, and like me you can tell it like it is.


Master Vyle

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Review: The Devil's Weekend by Jim Bronyaur

This is another one of those reviews that has kind of been languishing on the back burner.  In fact it's at the top of the list from my review backlog going in order, so here it is at long last.  The Devil's Weekend by Jim Bronyaur is the story of the final murder spree of Oliver Ignis.  Oliver has terrorized his childhood home town of Damon, Pennsylvania since childhood, earning the nickname "The Anything Killer", due to the fact that his crimes are perpetrated a'la Jason Vorhees and Michael Meyers, where anyone can be a victim and anything can be a weapon.  Unfortunately for Oliver his time to kill is coming to an end, with the police and an investigative reporter closing in on his true identity.

Just as Oliver is wondering what his final move might be the Devil appears to him with a unique proposition.  Oliver will be able to kill anyone and as much as he wants for an entire weekend without anything happening to him, weapons can not harm him and he can not be captured.  If he accepts and makes it through the entire weekend, obeying one simple rule that the Devil forgets to mention, then Oliver will be free to continue on living a normal life, only at the cost of his soul.

The concept is innovative and unique, and I found it intriguing as well as original.  I had pretty much expected the story to be a non-stop bloodbath once the meeting with the Devil was over, had been prepared for it before I even started reading the first page.  However Broyaur manages to present Oliver pretty much in the fashion of reality, showing us someone who has had to plan and hide for years slowly adapting to a new situation.  He tests the waters for several chapters, his confidence building, and it is not until closer to the end that he tries to really pick up his pace.

As unique and as innovative as The Devil's Weekend is, it is not without its flaws.  The novel's erstwhile hero, Detective Ralph Samuels, is a heavy handed protagonist who would probably be more at home in a novel set sometime in the 1980's, back when the police had the balls to be a little more rough with suspects and witnesses.  There are a couple of subplots, such as one characters underdeveloped sense of clairvoyance, that seems to be introduced to give the story a more King or Koontz feel, yet falls flat because the information comes out more than halfway into the novel, and really adds zero impact to the story.  There are long tracts of story told before the point of view switches to another character to give an equally long description of the same thing, sometimes done with up to three characters.  I feel the story would have been better served if the POV changes had come a bit quicker, cutting the scenes and intervals down to help the scene in its entirety move at a faster pace.  There are more than a couple of usage errors, so as with many things I have looked over a reviewed this past year Bronyaur needs to watch his tenses.

In his Author's Note at the end of the novel, titled This Novel Shouldn't Have Happened, Bronyaur admits that the idea for the story had come to him and that the novel was written quickly.  And I agree, this novel was written and published quickly, a little too quickly.  I'm not necessarily going to slam Bronyaur as I pretty much rushed The Sound Of her MASTER'S VOICE into publication on the spur of the moment, and here eight months later I am slowly going through it to remove misspellings, and other simple corrections I didn't take the time to do in the moment.

It is in the Author's Note that Bronyaur says that the character of Gary Thas becomes a "show stealer", which he does despite the fact that this character is barely seen or even relevant, until well into the last quarter of the book.  I hate to imagine what another author's characters or story should be, but my own writing instinct tells me that this novel was not the story of a serial killer, but the story of two serial killers, one overly active and the other (should have) been presented as having been dormant for several years.  Had this novel been split more evenly between Oliver and Gary (making Gary into a serial killer as well), instead of being 98% about Oliver and 2% Gary, who suddenly causes his downfall at the end of the story, it would have taken it to a higher level, perhaps even into Six Star territory.

For all it faults The Devil's Weekend is not some hack novel that should be avoided.  On the contrary, just like with Thomas Scopel's Twitch, it is worth a look at to get a look at the parts that do work, Bronyaur's story telling and his unique take on a cautious and careful serial killer suddenly unleashed to kill without fear of consequence that is presented in a realistic manner.  Overall I give The Devil's Weekend Three and A Half Stars, and can't wait to see how Bronyaur's skill and storytelling develop over time.

You can find out more about Jim Bronyaur at his website or follow him on Twitter @JimBronyaur.

Here's where you can find your copy of The Devil's Weekend:

Barnes & Noble:

Master Vyle

Review: One Buck Zombies from One Buck Horror

Right in time for the holiday season, that ghost wonderful time of the year, One Buck Horror strikes again, this time with a special All Zombie Extravaganza titled, One Buck Zombies.  Of course you know I was jacked to know that there was a new volume coming out so close to the heels of the release of One Buck Horror: Volume Three, and that it was all about zombies, which of course are all the rage.

One Buck Zombies delivers a set of five zombie tales in the One Buck Horror tradition of being short, sweet and on the cutting edge.  Each story has its own unique style and take on the Romero zombie genre, where the walking dead have a hunger for the flesh of the living!

Here's a look at the stories:

The Best Mother by James Owens
No one wants to play with Jimmy after his mother's accident.  Even his father turns away with the passage of time.  But he will never leave his mother, and she wall always be there to protect him.  As always the editors at OBH have a way of picking the perfect lead in story.  It reminded me of Brian Rappatta's The Dead March and that new classic, Fido, due to similar themes and story elements, but beyond that The Best Mother is its own story.  Five Stars!

The Levees Of The Styx by David Dunwoody
A fallen scientist finds himself trapped in a tunnel with a young girl with a dwindling supply of food, and a gun containing only two bullets.  The story starts out fairly strong, but then goes down a slight slope once an explanation of how the zombie plague started is added to the story.  The story does however leave the reader hanging with an ambiguous ending that I though was great, because for the last few pages I was expecting to see a rehash of the ending of Stephen King's The Mist (the hopeless film ending that is).  Three and a Half Stars.

Little Red Zombie Hood by Alana I. Capria
I spent a majority of the time wondering where this story was going, and what possible point Capria was trying to make with it.  In OBH's guidelines it states they are not looking for "torture porn", and this story seems like zombies, werewolves and torture porn all mixed together.  Little Red was a zombie baby in the womb, so of course she is born pretty much the way you'd expect.  The Grandmother takes her in and arms her against wolves and man, which she dispatches with sick and gory glee for pretty much the entire length of the story.  Again this is one of those stories that someone else might be able to find merit in, but I found it to be a mix of concepts from the Dawn Of The Dead remake, the Saw series, and Diana Trees at her harshest, though not done well.  By far the weakest story in the collection from the standpoint that it is a story, as well as being the weakest story in the entire One Buck Horror series.  Two Stars.

He Stopped Loving Her Today by James R. Tuck
A man hides out in a home repair and improvement store as a zombie horde that includes his wife mills around, ever circling.  It is one of those stories you just know how it's going to end, but the fact is made up for by excellent storytelling that aims at the heart and tugs at it.  If you've ever known true love then you can feel the pain of a man who has lost absolutely everything that he ever cared about.  I do not want to give anymore away, as this story goes above and beyond.  Six Stars!

Mother Sisyphus by Robert Davies
Reading this story you begin to feel that you've found a story that is unique for the gut munching zombie genre, a story of hope.  Then you reach the hopeless and disgusting end to realize that at any rate the story is still unique.  A well told tale that harkens back to the extreme films of the golden age of Italian cannibal/zombie films while adding its own legacy.  Thus far the best ender in a One Buck Horror collection.  Five Stars.

Overall One Buck Zombies is a five star collection that continues to prove that One Buck Horror is perhaps the best anthology series that presents some of the best stories from the new voices of independent horror.  I'm not sure if there will in the future be specials that will be all vampire or werewolf, but I have a pretty good feeling that somewhere down the road there will be a One Buck Zombies: Volume Two!  At any rate at least I hope there will be.

Here's where to get your copy of One Buck Zombies:

Barnes & Nobel:

Be sure to lurk for this one kids!  Required reading for the ghost wonderful time of the year!

Master Vyle

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Milestone, The First Review For One Of My eBooks!



No, wait, that's not it.  (And don't laugh at the phrasing there please.... though maybe you should after the next line.)


Yes, at long last another of those milestones, and they do seem to be coming faster and faster.  A Letter To Doctor Freudstein - Demoni - And Ten Poems is the first of my eBook published works to be reviewed, by Mr. Fear In Words himself, Jason Darrick, and it was an open and honest one too, just as I've always hoped for.  Like me Jason is unbiased when it comes to reviewing, and he expressed how he felt about the stories and poems, as well as the collection overall, as I always hope that any good reviewer will.

Thanks, Jason.  (I just know he still respects me and is going to call me later....LOL).

In other news, a couple of days ago KDP went live on Amazon France, so all my works as well as those of Jason Darrick, Rebecca Treadway, Mia Natasha and so many other independent writers are now available to an even broader audience.  I will be updating the site with link information sometime in the near future.

Master Vyle

Review: Halloween Spirits: 11 Tales For The Darkest Night edited by Lisa Morton

This is a collection that I added to my "wish list" a few months back, knowing that I wanted to stock up on some reads for that ghost wonderful time of the year.  In Halloween Spirits: 11 Tales For The Darkest Night Halloween historian and screenwriter Lisa Morton has put together a group of tales that mainly focuses on her forte, traditional Halloween, but it is not without its mix of the strange and the gory as well.

Here's a look at the stories:

Someone To Carve The Pumpkins by Kealan Patrick Burke
Two brothers try to sneak up on the ghost of an old witch, but things are not quite what they seem.  You may see the end of this one coming, but it is still an entertaining story and a good lead in to the collection.  Four Stars.

Carrion Man by Joseph Nassise
After a rash of child disappearances Grayson Shaw, the "Carrion Man", is called in to help the investigation.  Grayson has a paranormal ability that lets him hear the voices of the dead, but only Grayson knows his power is even more than that, and it is a power he uses to make sure that murderers and child molesters do not escape justice.  Gritty and gory.  I loved it.  Five Stars.

The Devil Came To Mamie's On Hallowe'en by Lisa Morton
Editor Lisa Morton herself gives us a tale filled with images and lore from the pre-trick or treat Halloween.  The Devil comes to a brothel after being summoned to claim a soul, but he's also always prepared to bargin for more.  A young girl and soulful blues singer finds herself faced with a choice: a life of prostitution, a rocky road in a life of trying to make it on her own, or fame and fortune at a price.  Breaking my house rules and giving it that Six Stars!

The Gunner's Love Song by Joe McKinney
A soldier returns home from the war to find himself in charge of protecting his cousin, accused of consorting with a murderer in various ways.  She loves him and he loves her, but it's a love that's deadly on many levels when she refuses to stay in the grave.  Another gritty tale and an excellent one at that.  Hell, another Six Stars!

The October Girls by Scott Nicholson
A grim and gritty tale in the Scott Nicholson style.  Ellen loves to spend her days playing with her best friend Margret, even though she's now a ghost, and sometimes her tricks and humor are dark and just a little bit scary.  Life with her abusive and alcoholic mother is harsh, but she won't let Margret harm her.  She longs to be as free as her friend, but is afraid of the unknown.  Easily the best thing that I have ever read from Scott Nicholson, and I went in with the feeling "Yeah, here comes another one of those stories where the characters are ghost and the 'ghost' are living people."  I was more than happy to be disappointed.  Yeah, okay, another Six Stars.

Trick Or Die by Rick Pickman
This story actually was written by the collection's cover artist.  It blends and bends trick or treating with Stephen King's The Running Man (with elements that remind me of both the novel and the film adaptation), and additionally gives a more updated view on the current obsession with prime time game shows and reality TV.  A group of young trick or treaters is sent into a game zone armed to the teeth to trick or treat at ten houses while surrounded by real monsters, in a game whose object is to kill or be killed.  It's nice and gory and begins brilliantly.  Then near the end it becomes muddled with a forced happy ending for all that probably should have been something much darker considering a majority of the content of the story.  Three stars.

Thursday by Simon Janus
A carnival fortune telling machine delivers a one word fortune that sets Nick on edge.  Someone is messing with him.  Someone knows what he's done, and he is sure that it is his best friend, Rich.  A story that is slow to start but keeps you guessing for most of its length, until the crime is revealed, and it ends with a brilliant twist.  The final resolution is a little predictable, but it's still a good read.  Four Stars.

The Outlaws Of Hill County by John Palisano
The Long Fellow has returned to Hill County to devour people's souls through their fingertips.  It's a story that has that old school King flare for presenting us with a group of teens trying to take down a monster without telling adults or the authorities the things they know al'a It.  However the story falls short in the way several of King's own shorts fall with a quick and somewhat contrived ending.  Three Stars.

Bones Lie Quietly Now by Nate Kenyon
There's restoration going on at the local haunted house, and two children play near the basement window that has finally been uncovered after years of being boarded up.  Once they go through that window and into the basement the terror begins, at least for one of them.  A great story with a brilliant twist where it seems Kenyon is trying to out "Scott Nicholson" Scott Nicholson.  Five stars.

Coming Home by Maria Alexander
Perhaps the weakest story in the collection, and not because of its Christmas setting, but having recently read Helpers by David Steffen, I have to say that that story was better written and offered a more brilliant twist.  I think a big part of the problem I had with this story comes with some of the information at the beginning not quite jibing with revelations from later in the story.  I can't say I at all agree with Morton's decision and insistence of including this story in this anthology, but maybe someone else can see its merits.  In a nut shell, a man runs away from his abusive father after deciding that he does not want to be part of the family business.  He hides as far away as he thinks he can, until one Christmas his parents and 11 siblings track him down.  Two Stars.

Almost Paradise by Jeremy Shipp
I find myself a little confused as to where Shipp was intending to go with this, and a little interesting story telling is what keeps it from being a weaker story than Coming Home.  In a world where everyone has a personal Angel to keep them in line Halloween is the only night of the year that people can be themselves, make mistakes and do wrong without fearing being killed.  If this was meant as a metaphor for the FaceBook Age I find myself unsure.  I found the whole story to be confusing and muddled, centering around a good idea that really went nowhere.  Two Stars.

Overall Halloween Spirits: 11 Tales For The Darkest Night is a Five Star collection, despite containing a couple of weak stories it gives several others that are way above and beyond.  The Introduction, also by Morton, is well worth reading and is added proof that she knows her stuff when it comes to Halloween, both traditional and modern.  In my opinion the collection would have been better served if it had ended with Scott Nicholson's The October Girls instead of having it in the middle, then again my opinion of uneven anthologies is if they're uneven they should end with a bang as well as begin with a bang instead of leaving the reader off on a whimper.

Here's where to get your copy of Halloween Spirits: 11 Tales For The Darkest Night:


If you're looking for a pretty good Halloween short story anthology lurk no further!

Master Vyle

Review: Their First Night Together by Ray Sostre

It's not everyday that I come across something that might be categorized as "erotic romance" that I actually like, even a little bit.  Their First Night Together by Ray Sostre is one of those exceptions, mainly due to the fact that it is an actual story as opposed to a lot of sappy drivel that gives us some hot stud making some hot, yet strong minded and independent, woman turn into a blubbering pile of idiot with his oh so super studly touch.

Their First Night Together is the story of Jared Hill and Natalia Hernandez.  Natalia is a good looking young woman and Jared is a kind of awkward and gangly guy, and the pair become friends shorty after Natalia graduates high school in 1991.  They hang out, talk about the future, and do all the things that best pals do until the summer comes to an end and Natalia leaves NYC to attend college in Florida.  Jared, who is a year younger, still has his last year of high school and his own plans for the future ahead of him.  On the last night before she leaves for school they share a kiss that leaves them wondering, what if?  What would have happened if they had done more?

Eight years later they connect again, and finally get together to put the question to rest.  Sostre gives us a great scene that realistically presents a couple of friends trying to catch up after several years mixed with slight awkwardness and heat.  Then right before the end is a slightly over the top second helping of the type I like and write myself.

This is a great read.  "After Dark" Ray Sostre delivers with his first eReader short story.  It was well paced, and the story itself is cut pretty evenly between the build up, and Natalia and Jared finally "getting together".  There were a few places where he needs to watch his tenses, and more smoothly transition his character points of view, but it is not enough to take too much away from the overall story.  I give Their First Night Together Four Stars.

Ray Sostre has been writing erotica since 2010, and Their First Night Together is his first short story published for eReader formats.  He is the founder of AfterDark Online , his own erotic submission site, and writes his own blog, The AfterDark World, .  You can also follow him on Twitter @afterdarkonline

Here's where you can find your copy of Ray Sostre's Their First Night Together:


Be sure to lurk for it!

Master Vyle

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Sam by Lisa McCourt Hollar

Because it's that most wonderful time of the year, HALLOWEEN, it means it's time to kick back and watch some good old horror movies and read some horror stories.  This short story Sam by Lisa McCourt Hollar mixes two of my favorite things neatly into one quick read:  pet fish and zombies!  From the description alone I knew I just had to, and am very pleased with this Five Star story!

Tommy is upset when his pet goldfish, Sam, dies, so he takes him to the psychic across the hall, who cast a spell to bring him back to life.  Now Sam is a hungry little fish, a very hungry little fish, and that little box of Hartz goldfish food ain't gonna cut it.

It reads like a YA tale, and has just enough gore in it to keep it from getting out of the hands of a PG-13 audience.  Lisa McCourt Hollar gives you a little tale where nothing is wasted.  Short, sweet and brilliant.  I loved it.  Plus it has an awesome cover done by Rebecca Treadway, which actually lead me to find this cute little gem of a horror story.

Lurking for a short and sweet read for the Halloween Season?  Here's where to get your copy of Sam.

Barnes & Noble:
The iTunes Store:

Master Vyle



Yeah, I'm not sure it it's because I'm not all that computer savvy, or if it's just that this aging PC is a PC of shit, or if it's just the fact that blogger and Google hate me like a case of  burning diarrhea.  For the past several months I haven't been able to comment on anyone else's stuff.  Hell I can't even comment on my own blogs.  So from now on when you leave a comment and you're someone I'm connected to elsewhere I promise to respond there.

Lurk for My responses!  I command it!

Master Vyle

Review: Fear In Words Volume Two: The Poems by Jason Darrick

Since I'm feeling pretty much back to normal it's time to hit another review that's been on the back burner for awhile.  Yes, I'm finally getting to Fear In Words Volume Two: The Poems by my friend from the north Jason Darrick.  I'm sure that this review couldn't come at a better time, since last night his countryman, Paul Michael Levesque, was dissed by pretty much the entire WWE staff and roster, while John Cena and C.M. Punk were in the back shaking hands, or whatever so they would not been seen in public giving Triple H the big diss and look like a couple of haters.  But anyway, I'm not going to turn this into a Master Vyle Championship Wrestling Blog post, just a little something I had to get out of the way.  (And believe me it could use something because I said a month ago I would post there once a week, and well it's kind of been a month since I posted there.)


Poetry is one of those things that is a hard sell.  In fact it is a point Jason and I agreed on yesterday afternoon as we tweeted back and forth.  He had made it through the Ten Poems part of A Letter To Doctor Freudstein - Demoni - And Ten Poems and said he liked some and didn't like others.  I told him I pretty much expected that, my feeling on anthologies and collections extending to my own once they're in someone else's hands.  He said that he didn't expect everyone to embrace every one of his either.  Not only is poetry a hard sell, but it's often a hard write.  At least it usually is for me.  For others the words just flow on out in no time, and boom they've got a collection.

Overall I have to say that I like Fear In Words Volume Two: The Poems better than I do most poetry collections.  If nothing else every single one is well written, and you can tell that Jason put a lot of though into each one.  The collection covers quite a range of things: horror, insanity, murder, even a little political commentary.  (I think.)  It's short and sweet, will probably take most people an hour or two to read depending on your speed and comprehension ability.

Out of the ten poems in the collection I would have to say that 'Guillotine' and 'Catch Me If You Can' are a couple of my favorites.  'Jump' is another good one, and the final poem in the collection, 'The Game', (Nothing to do with the afore mentioned Mr. Levesque) helps it end with a bang.  Overall I can't help but give Fear In Words Volume Two: The Poems anything less than a solid Five Stars.

Here's where to get Fear In Words Volume Two: The Poems.  It should be coming to more outlets soon, and I will keep you posted as soon as I know additional sites.  Plus Jason is putting this out there for free, so there's no reason to put it on your wish list, just go an get it!

Barnes & Noble:

Also be sure to lurk Jason Darrick up on FaceBook and follow him on Twitter @Fear_In_Words.  And by the way he also writes about his own thoughts on writing and reviews on his awesome blog, Fear In Words

Master Vyle

Review: One Buck Horror Volume Three from One Buck Horror

I know I said I was going to get to this one weeks ago, and it really was my plan, but between some writing of my own, a string of disasters and illness I did not get to review One Buck Horror Volume Three as quickly as I did the first two, which were both done days after the collections' initial release dates.  I did get it read on time, partly due to having some free time to kill between my car dying and going to buy a new one.

Yes, the crew at One Buck Horror went at it again, giving us six new tales of terror from several rising talents on the independent horror scene.  Overall the collection is good, though this time out for me it seems they have finally fallen into that rut where the quality of the stories as a group are a little uneven.  Judging from what I've seen in the past I am sure that OBH is gonna keep them coming and keep me shelling out them dollars, however One Buck Horror Volume Three is my least favorite of the collections so far.

Here's a quick look at the stories:

Helpers by David Steffen
He picks them up off the street and stuffs them in a bag.  Once he gets them home he has plans for them and work for them to do.  An excellent lead-in that's short and sweet and has a great little twist at the end.  Five Stars all the way!

Home by Augusto Corvalan
In a post apocalyptic world a family struggles to keep it together as the remaining people in the world devolve into crazed and flesh eating beasts.  A unique take on the zombie/cannibal genre that comes off as nothing but good from start to finish.  Five Stars!

Child Of Dirt by John F. D. Taft
Someone was sleeping in his bed one night, then nine month later came a bundle of joy, of sorts.  This story of a man doing battle with an infant illegitimate creature had a lot of potential in the beginning, but quickly turned to the average, a retread of similar stories and way too predictable.  Three Stars.

The Catman Blues by Leisa K. Parker
At a blues joint a humanoid cat comes to play, resulting in some gore and shattered nerves.  This is one of those stories I like to categorize under the headings the damnedest things and what the fuck.  Stories like this are pretty hit and miss, you either like them or you don't.  It was highly imaginative, but it just quite didn't do it for me personally.  Three Stars!

Vacation by L. Tanner
It's time to go on the annual family vacation.  An event that gets more bizarre, sick and twisted by the year.  Another story that starts off fairly well, but the end is way too predictable.  Three Stars.

Off With His Head by Mark Budman
A man wakes to find himself decapitated, but still alive.  Another story in the damnedest things/wtf category.  Again a highly imaginative tale, but also a weak note for a collection that started strong to end on.  Three Stars.

Okay, so I have to admit that this time out I was personally disappointed with the latest volume from One Buck Horror, but it's far from making me give up the faith in them.  Again, in my opinion it's the nature of the beast when it comes to collections and anthologies.  For the most part you usually get a mix of the good and the bad, and I think it's the One Buck Horror approach of only putting a collection of around half a dozen stories together at a time that helps keep them fresh.  I very much look forward to their next collection, as well as One Buck Zombies, which is due out very soon!

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

Check out One Buck Horror Volume Three and see what you think for yourself.
Barnes & Noble:

Plus keep a lurk out for OBH's first all zombie collection One Buck Zombies!

Master Vyle

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Review: The Little Book Of Fuck You by Rebecca Treadway

There have been very few bright spots for me over the past couple of weeks.  The headache and sinus infection I have been suffering from has had me zapped to the point that all I wanted to do was be in total darkness, liquored and pilled-up.  Even getting Honcho and A Letter To Doctor Freudstein - Demoni - And Ten Poems out there and live did not make me feel very well, and in fact I feel pretty robbed by not being in a celebratory mood over the event as I usually am.  Oddly enough one of the things that has managed to make me feel a little upbeat is the song 'Rhaposdy In Blue' by J-Pop super-group DA PUMP.  And the other was a wonderful little piece of poetry.

You see I had been reading this total piece of the smelliest cheese you can get from Ellora's Cave, a little gem titled Her Very Special Robot, that was so awful it just made the migraine I've been suffering with for two weeks worse. Once I finished that off I turned to this, my head eased, I had a laugh, and like Shawn Michaels was able to find my smile again. Rebecca Treadway has a way with words that truly make you feel like you've found a kindred spirit.

The Little Book Of Fuck You is a long poem Rebecca wrote after being awakened in the early morning hours by her arguing neighbors and how it made her feel.  Her thoughts are real and surreal, sometimes bordering on horror and tinged with a little religious imagery.  I could relate, I've been there with neighbors past and present.  Believe me, in the time it took me to get through this poem I indeed had a smile on my face, and felt just a little less alone in the world.  So obviously, Five Stars!

Now for you nit-pickers and naggers, I know some of you will complain that you actually have to pay for a single poem.  And there is much use of the N-Word, sometimes ending in "a" and sometimes ending with an "er".  But, like me, Rebecca writes in the real world, and in the real world that's how people talk, and if you would like to know my views on that subject in more detail search back in the archives for a little essay titled, "Why I'm Not Afraid To Use The N-Word When Writing".

Really if you're the kind of person that has a problem with words and paying their hard earned cash of a single poem, trust me it wasn't written with you in mind.  Except for maybe the poem's underlying theme...


Here's where to get your copy of The Little Book Of Fuck You:


Be sure and lurk for it!

Master Vyle

Oh, My! I Got A One Star Review! Oh, What To Do?

First off I would like to say that it feels like I might finally be back in the world of the living.  Of course I've said that before, quite a few times over the past couple of weeks.  I did wake up at 3:00 A.M. this morning because the migraine was back with full force.  Fortunately since I am off today I was able to go ahead and take the medicine and lay back down.  After dealing with this for two weeks now I am really hoping that I can get through today, and that maybe by the time Tuesday rolls around I will be My normal self.

Before I get into doing any reviews I want to take a moment and speak on reviews.  Now if you've read ones I've posted here before you know I don't hold back, like ever.  Sometimes I just read something that is such a piece of crap that I just have to jerk down the pants of the hack that wrote it and expose them to the world as the fraud they are.  Hacks, plagiarizers and other assorted whacks who want to make a quick buck for themselves give independent writers and the independent writing scene a bad name.  Many of you know I have spoken before of starting a #DownWithHacks movement, something I plan to more seriously work on once I am on My feet again.  In fact I actually would go so far as to lay My migraine on a little gem titled Private Games by Tawny Taylor.  It is a piece of "erotic romance" drivel, crap of the worst kind, and it's an epic that according to my size meter on My Kindle I'm only about 35% finished, though this mother fucking turd really needed to end about 50 pages ago already.  Someday, if I can force Myself the rest of the way through it without getting migraines or just wanting to puke, I do actually plan on reviewing it.

Now additionally if you've read My reviews you know they're not all bad news.  Rebecca Treadway feels that I was more than generous with one story in particular, however sometimes in the midst of what looks like a bowl of circling turds there is a little bit of potential.  When it's there I say it's there, that shiny peanut or piece of corn stuck in the brown.  Even though My reviews can be a little harsh and scathing, I do step back and try to keep in mind the intended audience of a work, its technical merit and the writer's style and ability.

That being said there's a huge difference between a work being "reviewed" and a work being "commented" on.  Most story sites have a place to review stories, and most book seller sites also list a spot for customer reviews, but really, what they are in reality are places for people to leave their comments.  And who comments the most?  Well in My experience the top two types of commenters are ones who are pissed off that a story was not what they expected, and ones from people with no writing talent and find that writing harsh comments on a work that does not meet their expectations or "high moral standards" for erotic works who write ultra nasty reviews and take shots at authors as a way of getting attention.

My opinions is that all sites should label these sections as comments.  For all you other writers out there, you should bear in mind that on any given site you're not going to find true reviews of your work in these places, mainly the opinions of the reader.  Initially in My online posting phase of publishing I was upset, not due to the fact that I was getting bad comments, but because no one bothered to point out things that were technically wrong with the story.

Now if you know Me by now you know two things.  One: I'm highly opinionated.  Two:  I can't shut up when something pisses Me off.  That said when I get nasty comments, unless it's obvious they've been written by a total attention whore, I respond to them.  I also welcome responses on the reviews I post and will gladly answer any questions about My feeling on the author's work, but as yet I have gotten no feedback from any author who has been negatively reviewed.

I got a one star review!  What do Me and My pallid bust of Phallus think of that?
Getting your first "review" on an eBook seller site is a momentous occasion.  I've actually been waiting for once since February, so the fact that the very first one was rated one star and given a dig did not in any way ruin the moment.  In all honesty I had a real good laugh over it, because of course I knew it was a comment.

The "reviewed" story in question is My Gay Male short story Honcho, which I had just released a few days before as a Free Read on All Romance eBooks and Lulu due to the fact that it is so short (only about three pages).  It was reviewed by a user who goes under the name of dozyllama on ARe.  And I got to tell you the name just conjours up the image of some lazy and lanky looking inbred with green bucked teeth.  In fact I get the mental image of this closeted guy that at 40 still loved with his mother that I knew when I lived in Missouri.  He would act all tough, like he was a man's man and shit, and though he "wasn't gay or anything" that he once let this guy suck him off because the guy really wanted to do it.  I think he was fishing for takers.  At the moment I find Myself thinking, "Not with a whole forest of the paper bags that Cody Rhodes' assistants hands out on your head."

Anyway, My personal imaginings of what this "reviewer" is aside he had this to say about Honcho:

Thank goodness it was free. Don't bother. If this is a sample of the authors work then I will definitely be giving the rest of it a miss. A child could write something more interesting. Seriously bad.

Wow, was that really all you had?  It's pretty obvious to Me this was a pissed off reader who was hoping for a little more.  And from the description what more could you really expect?

Two men, one club, a few minutes of anonymous passion. The quick tale of a hook-up between two men for no-strings play.

I did also add a graphic sexual content warning, but perhaps the warning I should have put on it was THIS IS A WORK OF MICHAEL C. LANEY AND I DO NOT WRITE A BUNCH OF "EROTIC ROMANCE" BULL SHIT!  No, Honcho isn't some masterpiece about two guys finding true love for a couple of hot minutes.  No gently putting condoms on each other.  Hell, even no anal penetration.  But what Honcho is is a story that gives you a look at a couple of guys sneaking to a dark spot and getting each other off, and then going their separate ways no numbers, no names, no shit.  And that folks is what an anonymous hook up between two men is generally like if the tale is to be told realistically.

Now I can't say if this person is a habitual nasty commenter on ARe and OmniLit.  Is he the HarryIn VA of that site?  Maybe.  He could hunt down stories in a particular genre, like good old Harry does on Literotica, just to trash them because they do not match his morals or sexual needs.  I feel the need to mention Harry and Literotica because Literotica rewards commenters/"reviewers" by giving them a list they can be on that shows who posts the most comments on the site.  HarryIn VA spends most of his time pissed that cuckolds actually get more pussy than he does.  He's also jealous because no matter how fast he types a comment on a story he "doesn't like" with one hand while beating his little Vienna Sausage with the other that he will never EVER catch up with Literotica's top commenter, LeBroz.  It should also be pointed out that LeBroz actually writes stories and submits them to Lit...highly rated stories.  I think you get the picture.

The two comments that Honcho received after its initial posting on Literotica were both positive and brief, which is enough to let Me know that the story did reach its target audience there.  Points of the dozyllama comment that both Myself and Jason Darrick laughed over were that he rated the story One Star, yet gave it a "Two Kiss" sensuality rating.  Jason's question to this was, "So he hated it, but he still got off on it?  Some people."

And In Additional Bull...

Plagiarism.  You know, that thing we all fuckin' hate.  Over the past couple of weeks it seems there's been an explosion all over.  My good friend Marabelle Blue, has had her magazine and contents, that's KinkE Magazine, pilfered by a pair working together on two continents, one of which she believes is someone she has had issues with before.  I will give you more details on that as they come.  I can tell you that I couldn't get past much on this group's site as it made My headache worse.  There was plenty of babble about the founding of a New Babylon ( 5 ? ), and how Flight 77 was faked and that 9/11 was a plot concocted by the 77 Whores of Babylon (which I would actually give them if I believed for one second these people could show us where Mesopotamia was on a map).  Yes, I'm pretty sure the American component of this US-Australian team is from Fuckedmyownsister, Alabama, and believes that space flight, "Ain't real."

Do you really want to steal from this woman?

My erotic writing pals Alan Jankowski and Sharon Pearson have also been victims of submission site plagiarism.  Alan it seems has been getting it left and right, which of course as many have pointed out is a testament to his skill and craft.  Several writers had their stories copied and pasted off of Lushstories.Com and onto other story sites.  (Oh, say it ain't so.  I though Gav had the fix for that).   Anyway, from experience I can tell you there's nothing that pisses a writer off more than to find out they've been plagiarized.

In an additional piece of crap!
I've started thinning out the heard over on Twitter, removing accounts from people who I never interacted with, are boring, I have nothing in common with, or have eggs as their avatars.  The purpose of course is to make room for other writers, readers and fans who want to communicate with Me.  However, there are those people and accounts that make a huge deal out of being unfollowed.  You know, the ones with no lives.  In particular one @sissygirlslave (Miss K's jen).  Not only did this account have to list Me as someone who unfollowed them, but also took exception to Me calling them a cry-baby with no life.  Went as far as to insult Me by insinuating I'm not a dominant, and made fun of Me for insulting a bot.  Really, that was funny because if the account was really a bot I would not have gotten such a detailed response back.  Again, looser cry-baby, upset about getting unfollowed on Twitter.  I do hope you occasionally dump that five gallon piss and poop bucket you keep by your desk that keeps you from leaving your seat so you don't have to take a break from tweeting and playing World Of Warcraft.

On a brighter note, it's finally here, the truly most wonderful time of the year, Halloween season.  I've already begun My little Silver Shamrock count down on twitter and FaceBook, and am looking forward to reading some great spooky stories.  Unfortunately I won't be decorating this year.  Partly due to the fact that we've decided to put our house on the market in the hopes of moving into a larger one, and partly due to the inbred rednecks that moved across the street with a gaggle of "youngins" who I doubt have any clue about respecting other people's property.  Anyway, there's always next year, and maybe with a new yard.

Master Vyle