New Year-New Typewriter!

New Year's Royal Typewriter

Okay, maybe what I should say is, “New Year and Old Typewriter!” Either way, I’m grateful for a friend who thought of me when he came across this awesome vintage Royal at a barn sale. Not only did he nab the typewriter, but the textbooks with it! One of which has exercises written in pencil dated February 15, 1932. The machine itself is in pretty nice condition after being kept safe under a plastic cover. The paint is groovy olive green color and everything moves without much effort. Quite a different story from the Rod Serling Royal KMM I restored a few years back, which was totally frozen and required significant work.

After some cleaning, oiling, and a fresh ribbon-this might just become my new favorite! Although I will never put my Remington Quiet-Riter away. I may be disabled, but there is something magical about typewriters that helps me go where I want to be. Big Thanks to Dan Foster for giving me a gift that will last forever. Happy New Year to ALL! Time to start writing.

Craig DiLouie’s “One Of Us” May Be The Most Powerful Book of 2018!

One Of Us cover shot

ONE OF US
Craig DiLouie
Orbit
July 17, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

When I read and reviewed One of Us by Craig DiLouie for Hellnotes this summer, I was really excited about it. Amazingly enough those feelings never went away and I wanted to make sure to share them with you here before year’s end. DiLouie presents a rich collection of powerful images that are branded into your brain as you read. Here’s a couple of them: A boy named Enoch Bryant who has the head and limbs of a dog. He stands upright, wears clothes and goes to school. A dilapidated mansion that is the remnant of a large plantation in Huntsville, Georgia. Its original purpose was to house cruel people who kept slaves to do all their dirty work. In 1984, the grandness is long gone, but the cruelty behind those doors isn’t. A strikingly beautiful teenage girl who’s innocent on the outside and dirtier than a truck stop hooker on the inside. She might be true to her beau or toss everything away for a cheap thrill. A small southern farm town that looks like a picture postcard, but has enough secrets and dirty laundry to burn down a paper mill. Over all that, lay down a big powerful soundtrack made up of songs by Black Flag, The Clash, X, and Oingo Boingo singing “No Spill Blood.” If you’re not familiar with this band, look this song up-It will add much to your experience!

I hope you are intrigued by my lengthy and lurid introduction! One of Us is a book about monsters that everyone should read. Yes, fans of horror, science fiction, and fantasy always enjoy well done monsters, but there’s a lot more going on here. The monsters in Craig DiLouie’s book are constantly changing, shifting shape, and proving that there’s a lot more to a person than how they look. In fact, it will surprise you just who the monsters really are in a book rich with emotions and images that you won’t be able to get out of your head for a while. There are twists and turns galore in this excellent novel. You’ll be kept off balance or hanging on the edge of your seat a lot. So make sure to wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes! Oh, and you might involuntarily shout at times when the action gets really hot. I know I did!

Our point of entry is The Home-an orphanage that is meant for the containment of plague children. Which, put that way, sounds like a noble and health conscious effort by the town of Huntsville to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, there is nothing kind or gentle about raising these children that everyone has identified as monsters. Besides Enoch Bryant, who is called Dog, Goof’s face is upside down. Brain has the head of a lion and the body of a gorilla, while Wallee glides around on things that look like roots. All manner of combinations exist and some of the children don’t appear to be altered much until they are put into situations of intense stress. A strain of what the adults in town call “plague germs” are the cause of these mutations. They are kept away from “normal” society and forced to work on farms for free and other demeaning jobs.

A few miles away, in the village proper, life goes on in a semi-normal fashion. The year is 1984 and we are in the rural south. Many of the kids live on farms or have parents who work at The Home. Even though some of the more broad minded teachers in the area are trying to show the kids that the monsters are really just unfortunate children, the overall consensus is that the creepers at the home are horrible and should be dead. Some of the children at the home are quite aware of this, others like Dog, are still hoping that the humans are friends that will help them and see to their welfare. There is a sheriff in town and he is a mixture of decency and pomposity. He is a smart man and knows the truth about many things, but he also wants to get re-elected. Plus, who gives a hoot about the monster kids anyway? The only time anyone does is when caring about the kids will benefit them. Like the good old US Government, they care when they exploit the special powers of the plague children. Otherwise, they keep many of them locked up like one might serial killers or high level drug dealers. The kids try to be friendly and cooperative to adults that give grief in return. Especially Mr. Gaines who gets my vote for stalker of the year.

Reading One of Us made me shout in surprise and anger while trapped on the emotional roller coaster that DiLouie put us through. I felt the fear and anger deeply. There were times when I even felt hopeful, then crushed when the humans failed. Especially when I understood what “the plague” really was and how it came to be. Amy Green and her mother will put you through the wringer. I’m still not sure how I feel about them! Maybe they’re victims, but they are also experts at manipulation and even murder. But they do what they have to in order to survive. If the men can cat around whenever they feel like it, then why can’t women? Jake Coombs is a noble young man who aches to do the right thing. He and Dog are very similar in their direct and innocent approaches to the world of “normals.”

This is a FIVE STAR work that has risen high on my Wall of Fame! As the book races towards its climax in the last third, One of Us just keeps blowing you away. Your heart will be broken, sensibilities altered, and you will find yourself taking a good hard look at the powers that enforce the rules wherever you live. For those of us who feel marginalized, this book brings hope by showing what a bunch of “good for nothings” can do when their backs are against the wall. A smashingly good book with so much to say! Don’t wait another minute to purchase your own copy of One Of Us! Available NOW from Orbit, Amazon.com, and your favorite bookseller. Put those holiday dollars and gift cards to good use on a purchase you’ll never regret!

O Unholy Night in Deathlehem – a holiday horrors charity anthology available now

This great new collection from Grinning Skull looks like a good, scary read. Check it out and help an important charity at the same time!

S.E. Casey Author

My doom laden Christmas story, TRADITIONS AND ROTTEN DELICACIES, is included in the latest edition of the Grinning Skull Press annual Deathlehem charity anthology series available here. Its for a good cause as proceeds go to The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

This was a story I wrote a long time ago which was to be included in a Christmas/winter weird horror anthology by me. Due due to some heroic procrastination techniques I diligently employed throughout 2018, it hasn’t yet gotten off the ground, so it gave me an excuse to work on polishing one of the stories. Plus, it’s going to a good cause.

Thanks to Harrison Graves (editor) and Grinning Skull Press for publishing. Other authors include fellow flash fiction writers I often get published with Wiebo Grobler and Christopher Stanley (#teamdarkness).

Happy holidays and good reading!

S.E. Casey

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Guest Article: Four Activities to Teach Your Kids About Other Cultures by Anna Levine

For those with young readers to buy for, may we suggest this excellent book by Anna Levine and illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto?

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

Today I welcome Anna Levine to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Last week, my daughter’s and I reviewed her picture book All Eyes on Alexander. We loved it and you can see that review HERE! Now, she offers us some educational ideas to be done with children after reading the book. Thanks, Anna!

now-you-are-the-western-underneath-this-holding-hands-around--1280467Where in the World…?
A few fun activities to learn about different cultures!

All Eyes on Alexandra is a picture book about a crane that flies from Europe to Africa. Let Alexandra introduce your child to the world.

1. Play the migration game. The Smithsonian has a wonderful on-line migration game. Fun questions teach about the habits of a Wood Thrush that migrates from Costa Rica to Maryland. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/play-migration-game

2. Follow the Leader. Alexandra leads her family in their Vee. Here’s an opportunity to talk about good leaders, people who take responsibility and…

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“Who to Be Kind to”—A Poem by Allen Ginsberg

Thanks to The Sanguine Woods for sharing this poem, which is just as vital now as it was in 1965. The monsters are still here, they’ve just changed their masks and gone in for spray tanning of their unhealthy hides. Be kind now, don’t wait. Because if you do it may be too late. Love is love and it warms the universe, keeping the forces of fear and hate from taking over completely.

Be Sure To Check Out SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLOOD SOAKED By Christa Carmen! Another Awesome Release From Unnerving!

Something Borrowed SBS cover shot

 

Something Borrowed, Something Blood Soaked
Christa Carmen
Unnerving
August 21, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Quiet, powerful, serious, sometimes witty, but also downright terrifying…Yep, I’m talking about Christa Carmen! The author of the amazing short story collection Something Borrowed, Something Blood Soaked recently released from Unnerving. Eddie Generous has the amazing superpower of finding great writers and displaying their finest qualities. This book is another gem from the tireless champion of independent horror writers and readers. Who is, in the words of Christa Carmen, “A beast of an avid reader with an incredible work ethic.” If you haven’t yet spent time enjoying the excellent books available from Unnerving and their magazine which contains a fantastic mix of stories, interviews, and art, please head on over to their site at www.unnervingmagazine.com and dig all the greatness available! The holidays are coming, don’t be caught unprepared!

Now onto the excellent subject of today’s review: Something Borrowed, Something Blood Soaked by Christa Carmen. Inside the beautiful cover are thirteen stories that are going to rock your world! And make some important social statements along the way. Let’s jump right into the thick of it with the front cover model, Priscilla, in Lady of the Flies. Also known to her detractors as Priss-killa because of an unfortunate accident involving dogs, she is a tall and powerful woman, who doesn’t relate well to people. One more thing she’s faulted for by many who think themselves to be perfect. Is there any truth to the creepy stories about Priscilla, or are they just a pack of lies meant to be hurtful? That’s up to you to decide. A crisis begins when her new boss at the farm brings her from behind the scenes, where she’s usually hidden and into the bloody limelight of the annual Halloween maze. Well! This is new, and good, right? Maybe she can finally be a “real girl” and just be one of the gang! Stu even extends a party invitation to her. Do you really think so, dear reader? Do you? Pardon me a second while I get my Vincent Price laughter track going…Don’t read this one alone, because it’s a 5 Star Screamer!!!

Do you like blood, monsters, and plenty of action? Good! Then The Girl Who Loved Bruce Campbell is going to make you smile. I really enjoyed this awesome, fast-paced story that features a female who decides to put her “naughty foot” forward and handle a pack of monsters all by herself. A solid, well-crafted tale that includes a cool tribute to Ash and the Evil Dead’s lead character actor, Bruce Campbell and demonstrates why doing drugs can be very hazardous to one’s health! The plausibility of this story is really very good, including the illegal dumping of hazardous waste. When you start reading, you have no idea where this one is going. The twists and turns are connected well and rest assured that women can kick ass with just as much flair as men. Pow!

How about a more subtle story that keeps you guessing? Time for the novella length piece Liquid Handcuffs. Damn, is this story good! It starts out with Olive, a drug and alcohol counselor at a clinic, helping her patient Nicole to rid herself of a demon by the name of Eddie Vance. While Olive seems very professional and appears to have it together, something is a little off. When her lunch break turns into an emergency, Olive finds herself at the mercy of Angry Eddie and it ain’t looking too good for the home team! This story alone is worth the price of admission. I had an inkling, but the conclusion is as surprising and dirty as a random employmee piss test!

Souls Dark and Deep is not a story to speed read. Take it slow and soak in all the details. You want to savor this like a fine wine. Breathe it in and get the essence of powerful writing that shows that horror is much more than just blood and screaming. You know what’s really scary? People whose beliefs cause misery and pain to others who are doing nothing wrong. When babysitter Belinda arrives at the residence of sisters Annie and Abigail, their parents are charging off to a, um…”dinner reservation.” After they’ve gone, Belinda has some unique dolls for the girls to play with and learn the truth from…

Two dynamic forces in independent horror have produced thirteen stories that will kick your ass. FIVE BIG STARS and Wall of Fame inductee! Something Borrowed, Something Blood Soaked changes what has become the usual horror story dynamic into something better and more empowering for all involved. These stories present female characters who have no interest in waiting for a man to come fix a problem that they can handle just as well. Hell, maybe even better, because they just do it and avoid all the macho swagger. Hold the hate mail, fellas. I mean really wouldn’t it be nice to equally partner with someone? You can ponder that in the future, but right now…Zip on over to www.unnervingmagazine.com and grab yourself a copy of this snouted beauty today!