Big Lizard cover shot

Joe R. Lansdale & Keith Lansdale
Short, Scary Tales Publications
Publication Date: September 30, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

When Joe Lansdale sent out a call for reviewers of Big Lizard, I jumped on it faster than a bullfrog slurping up a blue tailed fly. The projects that Joe has done with his highly talented children have been a treat for both readers and the writers, alike. Many of you will recognize Joe’s iconic writing style, but as it has been with daughter Kasey, combining his storyteller mojo with Keith’s exuberance brings about a new flavor. Big Lizard does not disappoint. In fact, it’s absolutely delightful and what we expect when we hear that family name. This book is a rocket-fueled blast of fun and suspense that elevates a group of people who’ve fallen on hard times into legend.

The concept of a Big Lizard superhero who doesn’t have a rich, handsome alter ego is perfect. I mean, come on now! We regular folks need someone we can relate to. Superman is damn near indestructible and will potentially live forever. Batman may be mortal, but he’s handsome, witty, and richer than a chocolate lava cake with caramel drizzle and whipped cream. The hero of this tale, Buster Nix, looks more like a chocolate lava cake that’s eaten all the whipped cream. He can barely pay his rent, the cable TV has been shut off, and his car is a 1983 Honda Civic that goes from zero to sixty in maybe 15 minutes, or some such.

So how the hell does a hefty fellow with trick knees and a bad hip become a superhero? Well, he starts off by taking a job as a security guard for a fun place called Pick-A-Chicken, where dinner begins with the violent death of a chicken. Yum! As his new boss, Ellroy Cuzzins shows him this funky new concept in dining, Buster is wondering how great a choice this joint is. But a job’s a job right? Cash coming in means gas in the tank and a few bucks in the bank. So our hero goes on to fame and fortune, to become the black Colonel Sanders and life is fantastic!

No, Nope, Nonsense. What Buster does is set the whole damn place on fire and burns it to the ground. He hates the senseless killing of chickens, the food sucks, and even gives his dinner to a homeless guy. Buster may be a failure and a bumbler, but he’s got a good heart. Truth is, the fire was an accident and Buster nearly catches his death. Instead, he gets what’s behind door number two. What have we got for him, Johnny?

“Buster Nix you get the ability to change into a Big Lizard when necessary! In times of danger, when fear’s no stranger, you’ll be stronger, faster, and unbeatable. However, your wing wang will also be huge and flap around in the breeze. So make sure to cover it, please! I mean we got women and children here and stuff.”

Take a look at the cover photo. That’s Buster wearing a red cocktail dress while saving two children from a fire. A little unique, but he’s keeping himself under wraps and using his powers for good. Unfortunately, there’s another creature in town and he isn’t nearly as nice as Big Lizard. Elroy Cuzzins has become Big Chicken and one mean mofo in the bargain. His game plan is to fulfill a secret mission that will cause harm to many fine folks. In return, Elroy gets to ascend the ranks and Pick-A-Chicken returns to its former place of dubious glory.

If anybody is going to stop Big Chicken, it’s Big Lizard, but he’s not going to do it alone. Enter Buster’s former chicken crush “Socks” and boy wonder, Isaac who’s been living inside a religiously themed amusement park for the majority of his life. A veritable jack of all trades, this dark-skinned young man is amazing. I guarantee you’re going to like this guy! Buster doesn’t have any family, so these characters, including Hadrian the homeless are all he’s got to lean on. Good folks and colorful to the max. They probably aren’t  The “A” Team, but they just might be the B Team!

Plans are made, gears are greased, decoys set in place, but Big Chicken is a truly unruly dude…err, rooster! As time grows short the only thing left to do is have our competitors wade into the ring for the ultimate slug fest. Yee-Haw! But these are not infallible superheroes and shit goes sideways a time or three until things aren’t looking real good for Big Lizard. Even with his sturdy, reptile hide, the authors describe the battle sounding like “Somebody slapping a Naugahyde couch with a belt” Ouch! Anybody got a towel to throw in?

It’s up and down for Buster and Elroy, but somebody’s got to win. Oh, and did I mention there’s a strict time limit on the match? Well, consider it mentioned! What I can’t share with anyone is how this crazy cool entertaining book turns out. Because that would spoil y’all’s fun. A crime punishable by death or being run over by Big Chicken’s red convertible. Whichever comes first. Your mileage may vary!

Big Lizard is a 5 STAR reading experience that offers relief from the real life horrors that the world is facing right now! Frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of this book and know that this baby belongs in your hot little hands, come September. A couple other reviewerly thoughts: I do not think it’s by accident that the protagonists in Big Lizard are people of color and the bad guy is a rich, white corporation owner who deals with the devil for his success. Might be that Elroy Cuzzins is supposed to resemble Donald Trump a bit, might not. Heck of a satire if it is, though. Silly hats, racism, white fella out of control and going down the wrong road, funky family…

BUT, the most important thing is that Joe R. Lansdale, Keith Lansdale, and artist Jok who is contributing the color panels inside the book which are top secret until release time…have put together an excellent book! It’s gonna be a humdinger! So you might want to “Cluck  It Up” and order yourself a copy of BIG LIZARD real pronto like before that deep fried goodness is gone!

Want some more information? Contact Short Scary Tales Publications at:
Joe R. Lansdale at his page: on Twitter: @joelansdale or
Keith Lansdale at: You can also visit Keith on twitter and Instagram using the handle @KeithLansdale.
Jok is on Facebook
As always, thanks for checking out Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer! It’s lonely down here in the Skullcave, so please visit me at  On  Twitter @skullsnflames76 and Facebook at:




Under Her Black Wings cover shot

Hello dear readers! My next book for review is the fabulously intense anthology Under Her Black Wings which is currently available from your favorite booksellers. I absolutely love this cover art by Corrine Halbert! In this case you can judge a book by its cover, because the stories inside will rip your face off. The contents include work by:






Be sure to check back often, or follow  to check out my upcoming review. It’s gonna be a THRILLER! 


The Horror Zine logo

Monday was wonderful this week! Editor in chief Jeani Rector replied to my recent submission by accepting ALL SIX POEMS for the December 2020 issue of her most excellent online magazine THE HORROR ZINE! I mean, wow! This is a chance for wider exposure for my work, so readers can get a solid flavor of what I do when writing dark poetry. Instead of having a grumpy, hazy Monday morning: I only needed one cup of coffee. That’s how happy I am to be included in this special, long running Zine. Check them out at:  for lots of good reading! They are currently open for submissions, as well. So if you’re looking for a new place to send your work, give them a try! 



In Darkness Delight Creatures of the Night cover

Edited by Andrew Lennon & Evans Light
Corpus Press
August 5, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello again from the Skullcave, home base of Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer! It’s funny, but I always read speculative fiction to get my daily dose of unreality, scary situations, and creepy weird stuff. But with the current world situation being so crazy and out of control, I feel like I’m going to horror for normality! Does anybody else feel this way, or is it just me? Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know.

Today’s subject for review comes from Corpus Press, a magical place that always manages to find the most disturbing tales for their anthologies! This review is of In Darkness Delight Vol. 2 Creatures of the Night, a superb collection that horror fans are going to eat up like the sharp toothed monster on the front cover. Y’all ready? Then let’s take a walk into the darkness.

Mason Morgan kicks things off in fine style with The People In The Toilet! Jimmy has serious problem on his hands. There are monsters in his bathroom that won’t let him use the facilities. They are a dangerous lot and to make matters worse, there’s another monster in the house. Jimmy’s abusive father is an angry, hating, hurting giant who terrorizes Jimmy, his mother, and even their tiny dog. In an alcoholic rage, he forces Jimmy to confront The People In The Toilet. When Jimmy folds, big bad dad steps up to the plate and confronts the invisible threat. Who’s right? Great, well thought out story.

Let’s be honest, we all call in to work once in a while, right? Sometimes we need a mental health day or have a 24 hour virus that ends up with us going fishing. In Scales by Christopher Motz, there is definitely a legitimate reason for Michael calling in. What starts out as a pesky itch in his feet quickly turns into something a whole lot worse. Michael is in horrible pain and can barely stand up. That’s when he can stay awake at all. Time slips by at an alarming rate until he has to call his boss with the news of feeling terrible and burning up with fever. He’s not lying either! The skin of his feet and lower legs is changing into…scales? WTF? Even in his demented fever dream state, Michael can see that other residents in the shabby apartment building are turning into bloody, insane wrecks, too. Well, he isn’t going down like that! Michael has a plan to cure himself and gets to work. Can he stop the virus before it’s too late? Let’s just say that Annie Wilkes would certainly be a fan of this story because it causes so much Misery.

Eddie Generous, champion of independent writers, editor in chief of Unnerving Magazine, and publisher of high quality books, contributes his story The Newel Post to this anthology. When Samantha Tremblay buys a very unique and ancient newel post at a flea market, it turns out to be more than just a piece of wood. The plan is to jazz up the stairway of Coyote Bed and Breakfast with it, and The Newel Post is certainly an attention grabber. Its intricate carving and obvious age bring about reactions from everyone who sees it. Things become quite lively, but not necessarily in a good way. While it brings lustful urges to Samantha, others are not so lucky. The carpenter who installed the post, her guests, and even her children, all have negative experiences that seem to be brought on by the newel post. Samantha tries to gloss things over, but the dreams don’t stop and neither does the trouble. If she doesn’t hurry up and do something, Samantha will find herself in a very tight spot. Good stuff!

Speaking of weird and unexplained things that happen in one’s house, you’ll want to check out Glenn Rolfe’s story Human Touch. You’ve heard the saying “No good deed goes unpunished?” Well, in Rosie’s case, it couldn’t be more true. When she tries to save an injured creature on the side of the road, it thanks her by going into destructo mode. Soon Rosie is trapped inside her own home and no one can save her, including her police officer boyfriend. Yikes! Despite all that, it looks like Rosie might make it to freedom! But, once again, things do not go according to plan…This one is a SCREAMER!

In Darkness Delight-Vol 2-Creatures Of The Night is an awesome collection of stories that rates five out of FIVE STARS and a place on the Skullcave’s Wall Of Fame! Beside being awesome, this anthology is HUGE, including stories from: Richard Chizmar-Josh Malerman-Evans Light, Frank Oreto, and Kev Harrison, just to name a few of the great writers that await you inside 300 plus pages of delightful darkness. I highly encourage lovers of horror and the unexpected to grab a copy of this fine volume at your bookseller of choice! If you haven’t yet read In Darkness Delight-Masters of Midnight I suggest you give that a whirl. And, for all of us who can’t wait for the arrival of Halloween? Doorbells At Dusk will make you smile, possibly in a demented way. But that’s okay, we’re all friends here.

Looking for more info? Then head on over to: Thanks again for visiting Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer! If you could just take a moment to hit the “Like” button and consider following my blog here on WordPress, I’d sure appreciate it. Wishing you all health, safety, and happiness!


Under A Raging Moon covershot

Mike Sherer
World Castle Publishing
October 7, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis


Welcome back to Damaged Skull Writer! Today’s review subject was delivered to me in a lunar appropriate fashion, seeing as how the 4th of July moon was full of crazy and looked the part. So I just had to read Mike Sherer’s novel Under A Raging Moon over the weekend! If you’re looking for a wild, fast-paced read, that’s jam-packed with action, lots of blood, and liberally spiced with sex, grab yourself a copy of this book, pronto. Let’s check it out!

Down on her luck mom, Vivian, is driving her son Kody home from a failed sleepover during a nearly blinding supermoon. They are having the usual mom vs teenager arguments and fusses, when she nearly runs over a jogger. Not real unusual and she doesn’t expect to see the guy again. But someone runs him over in front of her house and she has to call an ambulance. That seemingly helpful act, results in Vivian and Kody’s world being turned upside down.

Most folks would be happy about a police officer arriving on scene and initially, Vivian is. That relief dies quickly when the cop attempts to put the jogger out of his misery by shooting him in the head. What the hell? Then the nearly dead jogger kills the police officer barehanded! Hand rarely beats gun in the real world, but somehow, this guy does it. After some frantic activities, Vivian and her son appear to be safe. Not only that, but her boyfriend Newman arrives to protect her. He’s a quiet, flabby, middle aged dude, but he always carries a gun on his person. So next time anybody gets out of line, “Man” will take care of them.

While that logic sounds good, it doesn’t actually work. Before long, things going so incredibly awry that Vivian can’t even comprehend it. She and Kody are on the run from demons with superpowers and nowhere seems safe. Not the all-night convenience store, not the pharmacy, and certainly not the people who have sworn to “serve and protect!” Under A Raging Moon everything is different. Not only that, but someone who calls himself her guardian angel has taken possession of Kody’s body. Vivian is horrified but keeps following orders because she wants to stay alive and save her children if possible. That’s right, children. Vivian is pregnant with Man’s child, or so she thinks. But she doesn’t have time to dwell on that, because the most important thing is to stay alive until the sun comes up. Can Vivian and Kody survive the night? Who is this individual in her son’s body? Will every supermoon be like this?

To find out the answers to those questions, you’ll need to grab yourself a copy of Under A Raging Moon by Mike Sherer! Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates this hard-hitting novel a very respectable 4 STARS! If you want action, GET THIS BOOK. It’s just that easy. Sherer offers a solid portrayal of the real America as the backdrop for his novella. Beat up houses, crappy apartments, no money, and folks who’ve chosen to arm themselves for protection rather than wait for the police to respond. And the reminder that love heals all.

Mike Sherer has written many other books, including A Cold Dish published by James Ward Kirk publishing, a screenplay “Hamal 18’ available on DVD, and is currently seeking representation for future titles “Shadytown” and “Souls Of Nod.” Want to get in touch with Mike or learn more about his previous work? Then catch up with him on Twitter@mikewsherer , or: You can Email him at: Thanks for stopping by Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer and keep an eye out for supermoons!


Seeing Things Cover shot

Sonora Taylor
June 23, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Well friends, once again, the Skullcave’s Wall Of Fame is making room for another excellent book by Sonora Taylor! Seeing Things is a 5 Star reading experience from a writer who gets consistently better every time I read her work. I’ve also been fortunate to be in the same publication with her more than once and I do consider that an honor! While Sonora’s previous release Little Paranoias was a mix of speculative short stories, flash, and poetry, Seeing Things is a novel. Another big difference is that this novel aims for a wider range of readers, while staying speculative and retaining Taylor’s voice. This will be a great book for teens but is complex enough to be enjoyed by adult readers as well. Let’s take a peek inside and find out what readers can expect.

Abby is the typical thirteen year old girl going through all the trials and tribulations of becoming a woman. That means a lot of blood is included in her daily life. But should she be seeing blood coming out of a locker in her middle school? How about the ghost of a dead girl or random dead folks that nobody else can see? Everybody thinks Abby might be having psychological difficulties brought on by her age. But adults aren’t always as sharp as they think. Turns out, Abby’s superpowers are real. Trouble is, she has no idea what she’s supposed to do with them, except try to keep them under wraps. The dead won’t talk to her and everybody living gets all squirrely whenever she says anything.

To top off all the “fun” she’s having, the summer vacation Abby was hoping for has been put on ice by hard reality. Abby used to visit her Uncle Keith and Aunt Sandra in the seaside town of Sangway Bluff every summer. But due to confusing circumstances, the visit with her uncle will be a short one this year. There’s a student missing from the high school her uncle taught at and he has changed employers rather suddenly. What the heck is going on? Not only that, but it appears that the dead have followed her to Sangway Bluff!

Abby is a kind and helpful person, who wants to help. She doesn’t understand her uncle’s erratic behavior or the way her parents are ganging up on him. As the book picks up pace with facts and questions flying, you won’t be able to put down this mystery until the last page. How many victims have there been and who’s the killer? Could there be more than one? Don’t jump to any conclusions right away, because you might be wrong! Angry boyfriends, corrupt local law enforcement, and adults who aren’t telling the whole truth. This book is very current with its look at men and the need for them to take responsibility for their deeds. Women are not just playthings to be used up and thrown away, they are human being who deserve respect.

The bottom line? Seeing Things is an excellent book with a very surprising ending that rates FIVE STARS! It also accomplishes something I really enjoy in a book, the sharing of the author’s ideals within the larger story itself. I’m not going to give them all away, but a few are that women are a lot stronger than mass media makes them out to be, friendship is golden, and the people closest to you can hurt you the most. Especially in the case of parents. Speaking of parents, I dig the two moms couple. Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor is a great summer vacation read with wide appeal for teens and adult readers alike. Currently available from your favorite bookseller or, grab a copy today! Want to find out more about Sonora Taylor and her other work? Then go to: or follow her on Twitter @sonorawrites You can also check her out in the 50th issues of The Sirens Call e-Zine by going to their site:

Thanks for stopping by Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer for news and reviews! Wishing you all health, safety, and happiness during this pandemic that refuses to go away. Now, more than ever, wear those masks! If not for yourself, do it for all the children and elderly who don’t have the immune system strength to survive without our help. Be sure to follow this blog and stay tuned for the next review, which will be coming soon!

Congratulations to THE SIRENS CALL E-ZINE on publishing their Fantastic 50th Issue! Not only that, but I’m In It!

Sirens Call Issue 50 cover

Happy 50th Issue to The Sirens Call e-Zine and happy publication to all the artists, poets, and writers included in this extra super jumbo whopper of speculative goodness! I’m proud to say that my horror poem “Home Sweet Hideaway” and sci-spec poem “Alien Ambassador” have been included in the mix. Zowie!

Interested in reading this fine fare? Then simply go to the link below and download your FREE Copy today!

Click to access SirensCallEZine_June2020.pdf


GOOD NEWS! My Poem “Wrenching On Dreams” Has Been Published In Issue 20 of TRAJECTORY JOURNAL!


I felt it was only right to put this issue of Trajectory in my toolbox because it celebrates the joys of turning wrenches on your own car or truck with your best friend. My best friend was a four-legged guy named Jake who I lost earlier this year to old age and bad joints. I learned a lot from that rescue Pitbull, even though he wasn’t my first and I really hope he wasn’t my last. Even though Jake had been treated very badly by people in his early life, he went on to a help a whole lot of them. He was a challenging garage companion at times, but some things just go together. Know what I mean? I hope a few heads are nodding out there!

Jake will live on forever in this poem. However, the fate of Trajectory is very much up in the air. Sadly, it might be curtains after ten great years with editor-in-chief Christopher J. Helvey at the helm. If it is, being included in multiple issues of this fully independent literary and art magazine has been an honor! One really important lesson from all this, is that we as writers need to support the publications we write for. A lot of you already do a great job at this, but for the holdouts-Please consider buying a couple copies of the mag that chose YOU over hundreds, sometimes thousands of  other possible contributors. No funds? Donate a couple minutes promoting them on social media. A little positive energy can do lots!


If you’d like to help the folks at Trajectory go to to order a copy of issue #20. Thanks




With the days growing so warm, there are times when I actually emerge from the Skullcave and absorb some heat from my porch. Not sun! Goodness no! That would most likely be the end of your pal, Damaged Skull Writer. Like the bats that circle my home on hot summer nights, I am a creature of darkness.

Unlike bats, I enjoy reading speculative fiction and my latest favorite is SEEING THINGS by Sonora Taylor. So far, I’m about halfway through this tale about a teenager who can see things that no one else can. Hmm…Could be a handy skill or a whole lot of trouble…Want to find out more? Then keep your eyes on this page for a review coming soon from DAMAGED SKULL WRITER!


Little Paranoias cover shot

Want to read something from Sonora Taylor before her new novel comes out? I highly encourage you to try this excellent collection of short horror fiction, poetry, and flash LITTLE PARANOIAS