Check Out My Review of Channing Whitaker’s “The Remnant”

The Remnant
Channing Whitaker
Off Speed Press
May 21, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Channing Whitaker has got a hot new novelette coming out on Off Speed Press’ Black Band Shorts series that I think you’re really going to like! The Remnant is a fast run of tragedy, amazing coincidences, and ancient things that should not be messed with. But we humans are never happy just leaving well enough alone and accepting the world as it is. So when Gene Winfield has a chance to muck around with a book that has been clearly labelled as something mere mortals should not even read, he dives right in.

The Remnant starts with a woman named Hazel zooming around in mysterious ways. The things she comes across and does don’t seem to have any clear meaning, but keep your eyes open, folks. Everything will be revealed as the story unfolds. The next place we find ourselves is the green room for an Oprah-type TV show. Gene Winfield is just about to go onstage and chat with the famous talk show host, Liberty Strong, when his cellphone rings. He gets some very surprising news but can’t talk to the attorney on the phone right then, because it’s GO Time! He needs to be onstage stat to tell the world about his brand new novel! Fame is calling and it waits for no man or woman.

But the show doesn’t go exactly as planned and soon Gene is on his way to the estate of his late aunt, Hazel Winfield. Mysterious circumstances surround his aunt’s death and her mansion is um…very unique. At first, Gene is a bit put off by the whole situation. He’s a New York City boy out in the middle of nowhere. The kind of place where the town is so small, they roll up the sidewalks at night and when you shut off the lights, it’s really dark. Yikes!

Since he can’t order pizza or Chinese take-out, Gene starts poking around until he finds himself in his aunt’s study. Ah, now this is more like it! There is a massive old fireplace to heat the place and some very unique furniture, but Gene is really taken with the massive desk. There is a picture of him and his Aunt Hazel on it. Not only that, but all nine of his previous books are prominently displayed in her library. Gene sheds a few tears and feels proud that he made that much of an impact on this exotic adventuress’ life.

As Gene goes about getting a fire going in the fireplace, he finds something which was supposed to be destroyed. It’s a mysterious old book with which he becomes infatuated and reads the whole thing in one sitting. As many of us writer-readers find, there are others who can tell tales better than we. The Remnant knocks his socks off and Gene is inspired to write a tale similar to the one he just read. After doing a search, there’s nothing online anywhere, so he won’t be violating copyright laws. He really needs a career boost, so what could be the harm?

Turns out there is plenty of evil that is unleashed by Gene’s new book. But before that happens, there is a section of the book that made me smile. As Gene gets all ready to write his best book ever…beeyoop! His tablet’s battery dies. It happens to us all, right? The frustration of it all! You’re inspired and ready write, but you got nothin’. Then Gene’s disappointment turns to elation as he finds exactly what he needs to get the job done in fine fashion-a typewriter. I like this because I use a typewriter on a daily basis and there really isn’t anything quite like it for writing. As long as you have the time, like Gene does, there is something magical about pounding those words directly onto paper and watching the pages pile up. Minutes turn into hours and hours into days until Gene finishes his story. If we stopped here it would be a happy story about a guy who loses his mojo and gets it back.

But The Remnant is not a happy story! Not at all. While Gene is having fun at the old typeroo, strange noises keep happening. At first, he stops and checks around, but after finding no source of the sound, he lets it go because…writing. A surprise guest comes by and unfortunately takes some actions upon herself that are not in the best interests of the publishing world. As Gene rushes back to NYC in an ecstatic rush towards fame and fortune, something else gets there ahead of him and…

Well, my goodness! Will you look at the time? That’s all I can tell you about The Remnanttoday. However, I’d like to offer this piece of friendly advice. Snap up a copy of this brand new novelette today! Channing Whitaker has put together a great little book of speculative fiction that will not only chill you, but also make you smile. Five Stars!

Check It Out! I’m Featured In the Summer Issue 34 of the Lowestoft Chronicle!

keep calm and smile on

Sometimes I like to write funny stuff. Usually it just kind of happens. I laugh, send it out and…That’s as far as it goes. Until the Lowestoft Chronicle took my short piece of of  creative nonfiction for their online magazine that specializes in travel related humor. Check out “Noise!” I hope you like it!

http://lowestoftchronicle.com/issues/issue34/brianjameslewis/

 

Rod Serling’s Royal KMM

Serling Royal KMM before restoration

This week, my friend Timothy G. Huguenin, asked me if I still had any pictures of Rod Sering’s typewriter around. I had to look around, but I’m slowly digging them up and thought they might be fun to share.

Let me preface things with this disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, this Royal KMM belonged to Rod Serling during a time in his life when he still lived in Binghamton, NY. It was purchased by the man I bought it from to write term papers while he was a student at Harper College in the 1970’s. Everything is word of mouth, I have no documentation. The typewriter is not for sale and I only learned about its previous ownership after I paid a whopping ten dollars for a rusty, mud covered, old typewriter with keys that barely moved. I was looking for a project and I sure got one!

This picture was taken after I’d removed the mud, strands of hay, and bird poop. There was still a long way to go to make it work and clean it up. I don’t restore the typewriters I work on very much cosmetically because that takes the history away and the fun. My interest was in getting it to work. The process took roughly a month of spare time sessions. I’ve always been fond of the Royal and Remington brands of typewriters, so that’s where I was headed at the time. A nice non-portable typewriter to either use for writing or possibly sell when it was ready.

The phone rang and I picked it up nervously because it was the guy I’d bought the two typewriters from. Maybe he’d want them back or more money? Turned out he’d just called because in talking about writing and my reviews of speculative fiction, he’d forgotten to tell me about the Royal…

Hoping to post more about this well-used typewriter soon. Stay tuned!

Moon and I Want to say THANKS!

Moon Writer

This is my little buddy, Moon Moonbeam, who hangs out with me every day when I’m writing and reviewing. We just want to take a minute and say thanks to all of our friends who follow us and even those who just popped by for a quick look around. I feel very fortunate to have learned so much from all of you and the trust you put in me to provide honest reviews of your work. Every creative person I’ve met has inspired me to look at things differently. Recently I’ve been invited to try new things and I wasn’t sure if I should, but the encouragement I received has been awesome! On Sunday I will be a guest on a podcast that is run by WC Marchese and Gary Buller to talk shop. Also coming up is a project that Aphotic Realm is doing. AA Medina got in touch and asked if I’d like to contribute. Pretty cool stuff, right? I am working on ideas right now! Life can be pretty good sometimes!

WHITE DEATH by Christine Morgan – Review

Here’s a cool review from Pint Bottle Press of the well researched historical horror novel WHITE DEATH by Christine Morgan on Bloodshot Books

Pint Bottle Press Blog

I recently finished Cormac McCarty’s Blood Meridian and was in the mood for something a little more accessible. (As much as I marvel at McCarthy’s style, it takes effort for me to digest). A novel about monsters sounded like it’d hit the spot, and my interest had recently been piqued by word of the new title White Death, which boasted a cool looking cover that featured a gnarly sabre-tooth creature roaring from the darkness. I’d never read anything by Christine Morgan, but I’d seen the author’s name pop up in indie writing circles. I heard she was mailing out signed paperbacks for a very reasonable sum, so I bought one on impulse.

I’m glad I did.

Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon:

white death coverJanuary 12, 1888

When a day dawns warm and mild in the middle of a long cold winter, it’s greeted as a blessing, a reprieve. A chance…

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Remember-Your Song Is Important! The only bad songs are the ones left unsung.

woody_guthrie kills fascists

THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NO LONGER NEEDED AND WHO TRY TO MAKE SLAVES OF US ALL. THEY HAVE THEIR MUSIC AND WE HAVE OURS

THEIRS ARE THE WASTED SONGS OF A SUPERSTITIOUS NIGHTMARE

OURS ARE SONGS OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY

BUT WITHOUT THEIR MEAN HURTFUL MUSIC, WE WOULD NEVER KNOW HOW STRONG, TRUE AND POWERFUL OUR MUSIC REALLY IS

-WOODY GUTHRIE

A little inspirational quote for the day from a man who was never shy to speak his mind. Woody wasn’t perfect and neither are we, but he went out and did things. He took that risk and spoke up during some dark times. We owe it to ourselves to at least try shining our light in the darkness. Be that light a poem, story, essay, song, painting, sculpture, or dance. By doing those things we assert that we are human beings and that we are free no matter what else is happening around us.

 

Looking For Just One More Way To Celebrate National Poetry Month? TRAJECTORY JOURNAL Has Got It Covered!

Trajectory 16

Trajectory Journal wants to wish everyone a most happy National Poetry Month! Issue 16 came out this April and contains a powerful hybrid full of Poems by Mark Kinnaird, William Greenway, and Denise Thompson-Slaughter among others. There is also short fiction by yours truly, nonfiction by Michael Kroll, book reviews, and great photography by the legendary t. kilgore splake. That’s just scratching the surface-but I’m busy as heck with yucky real world stuff, so I got to roll!

In the meantime, follow your soul to http://www.trajectoryjournal.com ! You can dig the Editor’s Picks section for free and purchase a single paperback (really nice paperback w/ enclosed binding and glossy cover) through PayPal for $12 or perhaps subscribe. If you’ve got a brain, you’ll really dig this stuff!

It’s Still National Poetry Month! May I suggest Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi’s collection of poetry and prose BREATHE, BREATHE?

Breathe Breathe cover shot

As National Poetry Month eases towards its ending, I want to give thumbs up to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi for her daring hybrid book of stunning poetry and strong stories that I am currently in the process of reading. Due to a wacky week from hell, I was only able to get started, but what I’ve seen so far is really great! I should have a full on review of BREATHE, BREATHE up next week, please stay tuned! Should you wish to read this excellent book yourself, head on over to Unnerving Magazine at https://www.unnervingmagazine.com to purchase your own copy and peruse the fine products this rapidly growing independent press is putting out! Also, Erin is a wonderful person full of positive energy who works very hard to push authors into the limelight and keep our community growing! More soon-over and out. Happy Trails until we meet again!

National Poetry Month Guest: Poems from Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award Winner

Hook of a Book is also celebrating National Poetry Month! Great writing from Christina Sng!

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

April is National Poetry Month, and though I’ve been behind on getting many posts up about it, I’m hustling and featuring several poets I know and love from the dark fiction/horror/fantasy/sci-fi genres this week. I’d want to thank the authors that agreed to hustle with me in order to be able to offer this small April series to readers. In the future, I plan to hopefully feature poetry here, beyond my own, at least one or two times a month as a special project.

One of those amazing ladies I adore for her positive spirit, her friendship, her talent, is Christina Sng! She’s a ray of sunshine to me every day and her creativity in both art and writing inspires me. Christina won a 2017 Bram Stoker Award® this year for her collection, A Collection of Nightmares from Raw Dog Screaming Press. She’s garnered more than 70 awards and nominations, including…

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