Check Out The Premier Issue of Aphotic Realm! Great Magazine And Market!

Aphotic Realm cover shot

Aphotic Realm Apparitions Issue
Edited by Dustin Schyler Yoak and A.A. Medina
Released July 4, 2017
Aphotic Realm
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

From the awesome cover art by Gunnar Larsen, to the variety of fine writing and art inside, the premier issue of Aphotic Realm grabs your attention. Available both in paper or electronic forms, the overall quality of this magazine is intense. Usually the average first issue of an independent mag is okay. This mag wants to blow your socks off and it does. Even the advertisements look special! Everything is big, bold, and colorful.

Besides the stories, there are two feature stories about important people in our world of speculative fiction, fantasy, and graphic novels. Roland Mann’s section is called Mann’s World and talks about his life as a comic book creator, professor, author, and editor. The other feature is about Matt Peters the driving force behind independent press, Beating Windward. Not only is there a profile about Matt but also a peek at what the press offers. If I were a rich man, I’d buy one of each of these badass looking titles!

I guess you could say that there are really three feature pieces, because there is also a nice gallery of Gunnar Larsen’s art. It is detailed, colorful, and…disturbing. Which is great and means we’re all going to love it! Really awesome stuff!

There are an amazing amount of stories deftly packed into this issue. The majority are fictional pieces, but the editors bookended the collection with two pieces of nonfiction that fit very nicely. Dustin Schyler Yoak’s opener is about ghosts and the beliefs about them. It includes a cool and entertaining tale about going out ghost hunting that I enjoyed. While A.A. Medina’s Hex, Drugs, and Azrael features some Ouija Board weirdness that is, well… kind of creepy! Real world meets real spiritual encounters!

My favorite story in this issue of Aphotic Realm is Steve Carr’s If A Ghost Comes Knocking. Nicely put together with a great build up! You swing right into the action without preamble. There is a shining man outside a little girl’s twelfth story window and he isn’t friendly. Nope, he has a debt to recover from her money stealing daddy. Unfortunately, Daddy doesn’t want to do the right thing and ends up paying for it with something more valuable than cash!

I also enjoyed The Princess and The Tower by Steve Hoskins. It is a cool trilogy of connected tales that is a twist on the classic theme of a noble prince rescuing his sleeping beauty from an unreachable tower.  I doesn’t take long to see that the rescuers are the ones who need saving! They aren’t locked out of the tower, they’re locked IN! Very cool!

Since it’s not much fun to know how every story goes before you buy the book, Waternish Boy by Christopher Stanley will be the last story I go over. I like Fairy stories that really show the multiple magic facets of the little people with big powers. This tale shows a young boy finding his own tribe and finally being happy.

A cool thing I really like about Aphotic’s layout is that they give a short bio after the story. Most of them also have a picture and it is cool to see how most of the writers are just like us. There is usually contact info as well. So there’s an opportunity to expand your network and also information about submitting to Aphotic.

I definitely encourage you to support Issue #1 of Aphotic Realm today! Not only is it going to be great having another cool horror mag to enjoy, but it will be a new market for those of us who write! Don’t miss out! Grab a copy today, before they’re gone. Be a part of something BIG!

Jordan Anderson Gets A Fair Review!

The Things That Grow With Us
Jordan Anderson
Released November 7, 2016
Jordan Anderson Publishing
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Straight out of the gate, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for any writer or publishing company who sends me a note telling me that they want a fair review. The hell with just being my usual nice guy self! Jordan Anderson has the confidence in his writing and wants to use this as a chance to better himself. Well, that raises my opinion of the man and his work right away. So without further ado, here is a fair review of Jordan Anderson’s The Things That Grow With Us!

My overall feelings are that this is a great collection of stories in a very strong book. There is no room for chaff in this mill! Anderson’s writing is his own, but you could make comparisons to H.P. Lovecraft in his love for detail and the slowly mounting terror in his stories. There is also a good deal of science fiction in the mix that might make one think of Ray Bradbury for the humanity and Michael Crichton for the tech end of things. The opening story “The Further We Soar Into Madness” demonstrates this mesh quite well. We are on a high-tech space journey to planets impossibly far away in search of the ancient ones and the power that alliance would grant. Harold Jamison is a man hell-bent on this goal and will do whatever he has to in order to achieve it. That includes lying to his crew, knowingly sending his own brother to death, and spending incredible sums to acquire the necessary materials. One thing it does not include? Sharing his secret knowledge with others. The sole exception being his equally self-absorbed son, whom he has promised to visit upon his return from space.

While the first story is the longest, that doesn’t guarantee it’s the best. There are many fine gems to be enjoyed in this collection. Such as “The Tides Of Oblivion” – a story that makes you think some young pup is about to get a beat down in a den of thieves, when just the opposite will occur.

“Of Sand And Wine” is an emotionally intense story of loss, but also gain for a special girl who discovers her powers of the mind while her mother drowns herself in drink.

What if there were a chance to bring back someone you loved from death? Would you try it, even if it meant trafficking with evil dark forces? A man tries to do this for his granddaughter in “Burials,” only to find out that nothing is free. Instead, he reaps horrible results that require intervention.

Speaking of frightening and devilish creatures, do you think it is possible for them to have “Angelic Tendencies?” You might find yourself feeling very surprised! A young girl trapped in human-made hell calls on her angels to rescue her from a perverted creep, who just happens to be her uncle. As things get worse, she figures that her prayers are not going to be answered. But her angels do come to her aid, just not exactly the way she expects. Nor is she ready to see her rescuers who appear to be tiny…devils.

Perhaps they dwell in “The Gore Hole?” Anderson sends us on a psychedelic journey into an opening leading to another world. It is too much for mere humans to comprehend, so it destroys the minds of those exposed to it. Adults would probably not stick their heads into it, but children will!

At the end of this book is my favorite story. Anderson obviously had to place it at the end, because after reading “Warmth In Winter” you will be done for the day. Your mind will be full in the very best of ways. This story drags you through nearly every single emotion in the human psyche over its course. It starts with Old Man Jack living an isolated life as a sort of self-punishment for an accident that took his wife and son. It’s snowy, bitter cold, and dangerous. One mistake can cost a person their life. He is warned about weird events that occur on a certain night of the year, but he lives there for many years with no problems. Until the night of the story, that is! Then all hell breaks loose when a strange black tide covers the snow and attempts to get him. There is a creature trying to get into his cabin and Jack is sure that it means him harm. The poor man is run through Hell, into paradise, then left in limbo. To escape from that, he needs to make a life changing decision. That’s him on the front cover, being amazed and confused by this black, tar-like substance that can change shape at will. Jack takes the path offered him with high hopes of something better than just existing alone.

Highly recommended reading! There is not a dud in the bunch, and Jordan Anderson knows how to pull off some really awesome work! I guess my fair review ended up being a good review! That is always a pleasure! Try The Things That Grow with Us, his collection! You will be glad you did!

Monsters Exist Review Now On Hellnotes Site Too!

DEADMAN’S TOME: MONSTERS EXIST
Edited by Mr. Deadman and Theresa Braun
Released July 7, 2017
Deadman’s Tome Publishing-Special Issue
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

This a great collection of stories from exceptional writers, including Gary Buller, S.E. Casey, Mr. Deadman, Calvin Demmer, Philip W. Kleaver, and William Marchese. Remember these names! I think we’ll be hearing a lot from them in the future. New, up-and-coming authors are one of the reasons why I enjoy doing reviews! We all enjoy books by established writers because they’re the ones who got us into writing in the first place, right? But, when you read new writing, there is a freshness and extra ferocity. Along with that, modern elements like cell phones, Google, and today’s vehicles make these stories that much more REAL. Anyway, I think you get my point. It’s important to read new writers from smaller presses. If you don’t, you’re missing a lot!

Monsters Exist kicks off in fine style with “Master Vermin” by Wallace Boothill. Sometimes in an eager rush to build new, costly condominiums, a construction company might release something that was better off trapped where it was. In today’s world of quick property flips and house upgrades that happen in the course of a 45-minute TV program, everyone thinks it’s so damn easy. But you can’t just slap a brand new name on something and pretend its history doesn’t exist, unless you want to pay the price.

Gary Buller contributes “Wicked Congregation,” and it is a chiller of a story! Faeries don’t really look or behave like those cute little figurines for sale in gift shops. Especially not the ones in this story! These guys are winged terrors who demand their dues, or the rest of the town will suffer. Either do what’s required or pay the price. By the way, these little dudes don’t want cash. Uh-uh. What they want is flesh and blood human sacrifices that must be alive upon delivery. Well done!

After reading this anthology you may “Never Sleep Again,” the title of Calvin Demmer’s contribution and nightmare-inducing tale. A retired policeman is pulled out of retirement to help a young and very gung-ho officer figure out what is causing strange deaths. All the victims are killed while sleeping, usually on beds. They also are minus their hands and feet. The only clue is a small pile of dirt and the testimony of the retired officer, which everyone scoffs at. What a ridiculous explanation! They think the man is off his rocker when he uses a children’s bedtime song as a clue. Rubbish! But that’s too bad, because the threat is real.

Can a monster offer a solution to some of life’s miseries? In Philip W. Kleaver’s tale, “The Voice From The Bottom Of The Well,” it does. Not that you will think so in the terrifying beginning of the story. A ten-year-old girl is having escalating nightmares about a voice coming from a well hidden in the woods. While outdoors playing, she finds that the well is quite near her home. Not only that, but a voice inside of it keeps telling her how hungry it is. It wants MEAT! She tries asking adults for help, but they tell her that she’s loopy and to grow up! Especially one very unpleasant parent. Perhaps this parent can help after all…

But you’ll have to grab your own copy of Monsters Exist available from Deadman’s Tome Publishing to find out! There’s also a ton more good stories included in this special printing. But grab it fast, before they run out! I definitely encourage you to give this anthology a try and also consider works by the authors included. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick up some more meat and hi-protein dog food!

DO MONSTERS EXIST? Yes they do!

Monsters Exist cover shot

DEADMAN’S TOME-MONSTERS EXIST
Edited by Mr. Deadman and Theresa Braun
Released July 7, 2017
Deadman’s Tome Publishing-Special Issue
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

 

This a great collection of stories from exceptional writers, including: Gary Buller, S.E. Casey, Mr. Deadman, Calvin Demmer, Philip W. Kleaver, and William Marchese. Remember these names! I think we’ll be hearing a lot from them in the future. New, up and coming authors are one of the reasons why I enjoy doing reviews! We all enjoy books by established writers because they’re the ones who got us into writing in the first place, right? But, when you read new writing, there is a freshness and extra ferocity. Along with that, modern elements like cell phones, Google, and today’s vehicles make these stories that much more REAL. Anyway, I think you get my point. It’s important to read new writers from smaller presses. If you don’t, you’re missing a lot!

Monsters Exist kicks off in fine style with Master Vermin by Wallace Boothill. Sometimes in an eager rush to build new, costly condominiums a construction company might release something that was better off trapped where it was. In today’s world of quick property flips and house upgrades that happen in the course of a 45 minute TV program, everyone thinks it’s so damn easy. But you can’t just slap a brand new name on something and pretend its history doesn’t exist, unless you want to pay the price.

Gary Buller contributes Wicked Congregation, and it is a chiller of a story! Faeries don’t really look or behave like those cute little figurines for sale in gift shops. Especially not the ones in this story! These guys are winged terrors who demand their dues, or the rest of the town will suffer. Either do what’s required or pay the price. By the way, these little dudes don’t want cash. Uh-uh. What they want is flesh and blood human sacrifices that must be alive upon delivery. Well done!

After reading this anthology you may Never Sleep Again, the title of Calvin Demmer’s contribution and nightmare inducing tale. A retired policeman is pulled out of retirement to help a young and very gung-ho officer figure out what is causing strange deaths. All the victims are killed while sleeping, usually on beds. They also are minus their hands and feet. The only clue is a small pile of dirt and the testimony of the retired officer, which everyone scoffs at. What a ridiculous explanation! They think the man is off his rocker when he uses a children’s bedtime song as a clue. Rubbish! But, that’s too bad, because the threat is real.

Can a monster offer a solution to some of life’s miseries? In Philip W. Kleaver’s tale, The Voice From The Bottom Of The Well it does. Not that you will think so in the terrifying beginning of the story. A ten year old girl is having escalating nightmares about a voice coming from a well hidden in the woods. While outdoors playing, she finds that the well is quite near her home. Not only that, but a voice inside of it keeps telling her how hungry it is. It wants MEAT! She tries asking adults for help, but they tell her that she’s loopy and to grow up! Especially one very unpleasant parent. Perhaps this parent can help after all…

But, you’ll have to grab your own copy of Monsters Exist available from Deadman’s Tome Publishing to find out! There’s also a ton more good stories included in this special printing. But grab it fast, before they run out! I definitely encourage you to give this anthology a try and also consider works by the authors included. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick up some more meat and hi-protein dog food!

OH NO! It’s KILLA WAFERS!

Whew! Another hard day at the ol’ desk trying to get my stuff published and catch up on some reviews. I’m starving! I’ll just grab this box of my favorite go-to writer snack, Nilla wafers! Yum!

Killa Wafers

Ow! Damn! What the Hell was that? Oh man, I grabbed the wrong box! These are Killa Wafers from Stabisco not Nabisco! I better close these qui…Aww come on! Freddy and the Joker are loose in the house! Damn these Wacky Packs!

GET READY FOR HAUNTED NIGHTS

HAUNTED NIGHTS: A Horror Writers Association Anthology
Edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton
To Be Released October 3, 2017
A Blumhouse/Anchor Books Original
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

I don’t know about you, but I find life a bit more bearable when I have something to look forward to. Especially when that thing is going to be terrifying! I don’t want a teddy bear or a hug. No, what I want is to have my warped brain pushed even farther out of the normal zone! Does this sound like you as well? Well good! Because we’ve got just what you’re looking for!

Haunted Nights is coming to bend your mind and terrify you with stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, murderous urban legends, vengeful ghosts, and parties gone very, very wrong. Here are sixteen brand-new, fresh-from-the-grave stories that are going to rock your world! This anthology will be available on October 3rd in celebration of all things Halloween and its cousins, Devil’s Night, All Souls’ Day, and Dia de los Muertos aka Day of The Dead. Who better to edit and collect these tales than award-winning editor Ellen Datlow and one of the world’s leading Halloween experts, Lisa Morton? Combined with a stellar cast of HWA writers, this witches’ brew practically guarantees bad dreams. You might wake up on the floor curled into the fetal position and whimpering, or you might laugh out loud. Either way, it’s going to be one Hell of a ride!

With so much talent in one place, it is hard to pick which stories to preview for you wonderful people, but here’s what I came up with.  For amazingly intricate detail that I could see in my head, Eric J. Guignard’s story, A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds,just blew my mind! This tale of love, magic, and possible redemption is beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. A young man carves the wrong name into his sugar skull, contacting an entity named Saint instead of his dead friend Santi, and gets some much-needed schooling about standing strong and following your heart. It is important to do the right thing on the Day of The Dead!

For a different taste of Horror, S.P. Miskowski’s story We’re Never Inviting Amber Againstarts on an entertaining note. The man of the house is sick and tired of his wife’s sister because she always ruins every get-together, romantic moment, and just has crazy misadventures. He’s also sick of her because she’s his ex. That’s a little creepy in itself, but Drew is a self-righteous dude who claims that everything was Amber’s fault. Even when it turns out that he’s an uncaring jerk who can’t even honor Amber’s simple request that he and his wife keep the backyard lit by jack-o’-lanterns. He dismisses her request as silly – until he finds himself staring up at a giant with a werewolf mask stuck on its head in his backyard. The party goes down the toilet, as everyone does a mass exodus and blames Drew for all the shenanigans, not Amber. Even after seeing the truth, he won’t admit it.

Paul Kane’s chilling tale The Turn takes us on a baffling journey of twists and turns. There is something following people on Halloween night and making them turn and look. Once they look, the rules say that it’s okay for the evil thing to kill them. The thing rationalizes this by saying that he is helping people over to the other side. On this same night, there is another man also following the rules. These rules are required to protect oneself from evil spirits and things that may do him in. Unlike the roaming killer, this man is confined to his home by the rules. To step outdoors could be lethal! But they meet when the man is forced to run to the hospital because his Gran is dying. The thing catches up and makes the man turn and see him for who he really is. Then he kills the man, which turns out to be a boon for the dead man. But not for the killer, because something is coming up behind him and what happens next is not going to be good.

To round things out, how about a nice story about an old baker man who knows how to make things just like, A Small Taste of the Old Country? What could be scary about that? Don’t you worry, Jonathan Maberry will have you spellbound with his delicious tale of culinary revenge! No natives of Argentina in the year 1948 should be so familiar with old school German cooking as to be able to call it by name, unless they’re not telling the truth. Josef Becker finds such men and lets them identify themselves by offering them his wares. It just so happens to be All Souls Week, which for Herr Becker is a very important time because all of his family members are dead thanks to the evils of war. During the week, the souls are encouraged to visit and share the world of the living. But what about those who are still living? The people that caused so many deaths? Perhaps the souls of the dead would like a visit with them as well?

My best recommendation to find out the specifics of these and twelve other fine stories, is to make sure to be at your local bookseller on October 3rd! Or, if you don’t wish to take chances, pre-order Haunted Nights today! This is a crazy awesome anthology that, honestly, I’m kind of in love with. Get it! You will enjoy it!

 

About Brian J. Lewis

Big Thank You John W. Dennehy!

 

JD 1

I got a special package in the mail this week from author John W. Dennehy! I was fortunate enough to review John’s first novel, CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE which is an awesome Steampunk Thriller that I highly recommend! This week I was honored to receive a brand new copy of his latest novel, PACIFIC RISING which I cannot wait to dig my teeth into. That is great itself, but what’s REALLY GREAT is when a person you respect for many reasons takes time out of their busy life to write you an actual handwritten thank you note! Wow! That means a LOT. Not only that, but he signed my copy of PACIFIC RISING! 

JD 3

This could not have come at a better time for me. I’ve had a tough couple of weeks dealing with my disabilities and some other boogery stuff, when HEY! This really cool thing happens! Just goes to show you that there is always something to look forward to in life and cool people who care enough to reach out and encourage you! Thanks for making my week, John! YOU ROCK!

JD 2