IF YOU’VE BEEN WATCHING THE GROWING NUMBER OF MASS SHOOTINGS AND WONDERING “WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THIS?” THEN YOU’LL WANT TO READ MY IMMERSIVE FICTION PIECE “FOLLOWING MY DESTINY” FOR A FIRST PERSON VIEWPOINT. NOW AVAILABLE IN ISSUE #22 OF TRAJECTORY JOURNAL

Human beings want to understand things because it makes us feel more in control of our lives. There are countless books, articles, and blogs about how stuff works from automobiles to xylophones. But we don’t really know everything that happens inside the human brain. I know some of you are huffing and puffing, perhaps explaining the functions of neurons and ganglia to your computer screen, right now. And you’re right about the mechanics of those systems. But a list of parts doesn’t explain why a person who appears outwardly “normal” to the casual observer would want to murder a store full of people, a school full of children, or random individuals attending a concert or movie. That’s what makes the whole phenomenon so scary. How are we supposed to stop these killers if we have no idea where, when, or why they’re going to strike next?
 
I wrote “Following My Destiny” to give readers an idea of what life looks like through a mass shooter’s eyes. My original plan was to use the research I did in more of a creative nonfiction format, but the result was dryer than a high school book report. Frustrated, I talked with some trusted friends and fellow writers, who suggested an immersive fiction approach that made use of my research and my personal mental health issues with PTSD. The results were still pretty flat…Until I was wrapping up another late-night writing session and my hand wrote: The voices are always talking to me, no matter where I am…”
 
Chance McCandless had finally come to life! And once he started talking, there was no shutting him up. My day-to-day activities were constantly invaded by his observations and desires, delivered in a strangely dry and matter-of-fact voice. Sleep provided no escape, just frequent nightmares in which I was always running or drawing a bead on targets. Feelings of guilt, anger, lust, and shame kept washing through me as if I were the one committing crimes, not Chance. He brought me to the realization that mass shooters carefully plan their crimes, slowly accruing supplies, and studying targets. They also spend time figuring out how to be invisible or accepted on the surface while their brains whir like food processors inside their skulls. In our modern world where everything moves fast, and stores are understaffed, those that notice something off about a person are too busy to point it out. And if they do tell their manager or law enforcement, nothing good happens, so you can be damn sure that employee or fellow tenant will keep their head down and mouth shut in the future. The system is broken.
 
“Following My Destiny” begins with Chance telling us about the voices, his desires, and what he’d like to do to his father. Not that I’m endorsing violence, but his hatred is not without provocation. Also fueling the fire is Chance’s favorite podcast delivered by religious zealot Lediv Bloodsmoore who preaches Armageddon to his followers. Chance is desperate for recognition and is planning to do something “really big” in the nebulous future. But when an unexpected event occurs, he’s forced into action too soon. Without a fully developed plan, things speedily spin out of control. Bullets start to fly slicing open Chance’s detached view of life and making his ideas crumble. Should he give up like his friend Al, keep fighting to the bitter end, or make a run for it while he still can and continue “spreading the good word” across the nation?
 
Intrigued, interested, and wanting to read more? Excellent! What you’ll want to do next is order a copy of TRAJECTORY issue 22 spring 2022. Inside, you’ll find excellent poetry, short stories, and flash. There’s a photo documentary about the wall between Mexico and U.S., a piece about the legendary Charles Bukowski, and poetry so real that it hurts. In other words, this fully independent literary journal publishes real writing by real people, not just college kids who are guaranteed to get published because it’s part of the degree their parents are paying for. To date, TRAJECTORY issue 22 has sold out two print runs and is printing a third as you read this. To get your very own copy of this excellent literary journal you can contact:
ME through this blog. I have a limited quantity for sale at $20 each which includes domestic shipping and handling. You can also contact editor in chief Chris Helvey at: adobechris@hotmail.com to purchase issue 22. I also encourage you to check out TRAJECTORY’S website at: https://trajectoryjournal.com where you can read previously published work, sign up for the newsletter, and subscribe. All of which supports independent writers and poets, which is good for everybody. Thanks for reading this post from Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. Skull and I would love it if you’d follow us at: https://damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com so we can continue to help independent writers and presses. Until next time, keep writing!

FILTHY LOOT ARRIVES AT THE SKULLCAVE! BOSS STICKERS AND STORIES BY FRIENDS INCLUDED

Hello friends, it’s your old pal Skull with some groovy book mail from a cool independent press called Filthy Loot. Like many of my fellow writers and book reviewers, I dig stickers big time. There’s nothing in the world that can’t be improved by a sticker! From weddings to funerals and everything in between. So, when I saw that Filthy Loot was offering a special pack of them I had to have one. I mean, how genius to put them in a library card holder with those exciting words “withdrawn” on it. I also decided to get F*CKED UP STORIES Vols 2 & 3 that include stories by Madeleine Swann and many others that I look forward to reading. “Happy Suit” (Vol 3) is definitely a reflection of modern big biz and political practices. I recommend it! I also dig editor in chief Ira Rat’s mixed media art book “I’m Sorry Mom” Overall, a total win! So what are you waiting for? Head on over to http://www.filthyloot.com and http://www.irarat.com and warp your brain today! Tell ’em Damaged Skull Writer & Reviewer sent ya.

***The “I love big books and cannot lie” tote bag is an old gem of mine used for modeling purposes only

SONORA TAYLOR’S “SOMEONE TO SHARE MY NIGHTMARES” IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I’VE READ THIS YEAR!

SOMEONE TO SHARE MY NIGHTMARES
Sonora Taylor
October 19, 2021
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello there fans of horror and speculative fiction. It’s your old pal Skull here to share a cool collection of short stories with one and all. Sonora Taylor’s recently released collection Someone To Share My Nightmares is fucking AMAZING! That’s right, I said it and no one’s paying me to offer high praise like that, but it’s the truth. Once again, Taylor shows that the ladies can be just as scary as the gents. Maybe even scarier, because she gives us the perfect balance of hot and cold, wet and sweat, topped with shouts of terror and screams of ecstasy. Someone To Share My Nightmares is packed with powerful, well-crafted stories that this reviewer couldn’t tear himself away from.

The book kicks off with a couple of really cool things: A forward by V. Castro that gives readers a wonderful picture of the very modest Sonora Taylor and what she’s doing to make the world a better place. As I frequently say, you will find the most compassionate people in horror. There’s a lot more to us than scaring people. Check it out! The other thing is a notice that the author has included a list of possible trigger warnings in the back of the book. That way, those that require that feature get it and the rest of us are none the wiser until we read Taylor’s work. Hooray for no spoilers!

Someone To Share My Nightmares is the opening tale for this great collection and really sets the tone for the book. Taylor doesn’t write about wimpy women who are little balls of fluff that scream their heads off and wait to be saved by a hunky man. Protagonist Kristin is a strong woman with her own viewpoints, strengths, and desires. She lives in Creekwood, a place frequented by bravado-fueled arty types who think they can explain the dark forest there. But the forest doesn’t want to be exposed, violated, or used to make money. The same can be said about women. Some things are meant to be secret, revealed to only a select few. Kristin enjoys the hunky man but also understands that she is at one with the forest.

Bump In The Night is a cleverly woven tale of lust, terror, that also gives props to plus size sexiness, interracial love, and same sex fun. What’s not to like? I’m just going to say right here and now, if you’ve got a problem with big women being luscious or people loving who they want to love, then you’re reading the wrong book, blog, and review. We’re not going to get along. A good time is saved by magic.  

The Parrot is a chilling story with a twist ending I didn’t expect. Whoa! In these modern times, the majority of the population rely on digital assistants. Ask Alexa for a recipe, use your cellphone to shut off the lights, autopay your bills…There are even little robots that can roam about your home meeting your needs. But what if someone was able to twist that technology around for evil purposes? Charles is an asshole who thinks that he controls his wife, Melinda. He likes to hurt women and force them to do what he wants. He even has Melinda make him a personal assistant called Parrot, never suspecting that it might have other uses. Then his wife suddenly ends up dead and the Parrot starts to malfunction, showing him strange things on TV. Somebody is in control and it damn sure isn’t Charles. Satisfying conclusion for all of us who hate domestic abuse.

Prefer an ecohorror tale about a man and woman working equally together? Then check out The Sharps! Scientist Camila is a biologist doing research at her isolated cabin, which normally is a pretty chill time. But not when the sharps make their unwanted appearance, trapping her there. Enter ecological activist, Joseph who also ends up stranded by the sharps on Camila’s island. There’s romance but also two people working together towards a positive end. Equality is a lot more sexy than the outdated Hollywood stereotype of an overly brawny guy seizing the reigns and dragging a scrawny little honey who can barely lift a fork (obviously!) to safety. Sonora Taylor’s “The Sharps” is an awesome story that’s also the perfect amount of hot. BRAVO!!!

The verdict, if you can’t tell already, is that Damaged Skull Writer rates Someone To Share My Nightmares by one of my absolutely favorite authors Sonora Taylor, a hearty FIVE AND A HALF STARS out of 5! This fine paperback is also in a place of honor on the Skullcave’s Wall of Fame. I mean, seriously, if you don’t have this book, I recommend you grab yourself copy NOW. There’s a long cold winter ahead, which is great for reading in bed. Someone To Share My Nightmares will not only give you chills, but heat you up as well. It also includes many more tales than the ones I’ve mentioned!

Sonora Taylor www.sonorawrites.com is the author of many fine books, including: Seeing Things, and Little Paranoias: Stories. Both of which have been reviewed by your old pal Skull right here at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com Once again, thank you for reading and sharing this post. I’m also looking for more followers of my WordPress blog, which will cost you absolutely nothing but helps more independent authors and presses to get positive exposure. I only post once or twice a week, so I won’t bombard your inbox with a lot of extraneous garbage either. Damaged Skull Writer is a safe space that has no room for hate.

  

IF YOU’RE FREEZING IN YOUR COFFIN, THIS NEW CD FROM BAT HEARSE MIGHT JUST BE THE CURE FOR THOSE COLD WEATHER BLUES!

CRYPT LOAD
Bat Hearse
Bat Hearse Records
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello horror fiends, it’s your old pal Skull with some cool news about a great band that you’ll want to be feasting your eye and earballs on real pronto-like! Most often, Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer focuses on the written word and graphic novels, but today I’m going to be reviewing Bat Hearse’s debut album, CRYPT LOAD. Y’all ready? Then, to quote lead singer and stuntman Rick Ruiner, “All right all you bastards! Grab yourself a handful of steering wheel and let’s go!”

Coming at you straight out of Detroit, Michigan, Bat Hearse arrives in their namesake vehicle: a vintage Cadillac hearse that’s been customized into a mashup of the Batmobile and a rocket-powered ice wagon. This midnight beauty was built by none other than Rick Ruiner, who also handles lead vocals and some cool performance stunts involving fire! He’s got his foot to the floor, making the engine roar, and that big block of Detroit iron under the hood can smoke a set of tires faster than you can say “Beat It Creep!”

This is a band that creates real rock n roll and has fun doing it. For those unfamiliar with Bat Hearse, think of what might happen if The Cramps jammed with a surf music loving Detroit garage rock band. Real, raucous, with revving motors, and a sense of humor to boot! So while pop bands are busy auto-tuning, dubbing, and basically faking their way into teenagers’ ears. Bat Hearse’s Jungle Josh is wrestling riffs out of his guitar, while bass player Nate Knox keeps the grove and drummer Ajax rocks the beat. Oh, and let’s not forget the singing and dancing of goth lovely Nina Friday, who brings a lot of pizazz to the band. Nina is much more than just a pretty face. She’s also an artist and costume designer who also handles the band’s merchandise. Want a cool CD, stickers, buttons, patches, Bat Hearse poster or T-shirt? Then get in touch with her on Facebook at Nina Friday Art or click on the link at the end of this review.

There are eleven great tunes to enjoy on this CD but a few really grabbed my attention. “Go Little Bastard” and “The Day I became James Dean” both reference the iconic James Dean who was gone way too soon.  “Little Bastard” was the name of the Porsche that he died in, costing us a true American original. Hey classic horror fans, Bat Hearse is ready to show you how to “Do the Bela!” As in Bela Lugosi, the face many people see when they think of Count Dracula. They’re also getting a “Coffin For Christmas.” Because they’re “not looking for a stocking stuffer, baby.” Uh-uh! They want they want the whole enchilada or nothin’. And what would a garage rock album be without an homage to the king of cool? So, Bat Hearse gives us a “Bronze Fonz” Ayyyy!   

In case it’s not clear, your old pal Skull digs Bat Hearse like a miner after gold. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer gives BAT HEARSE’S CRYPT LOAD FIVE STARS out of five. These tunes are great and check out the pictures. Bat Hearse also has the look. Coolness to spare, baby! As the temperature drops and we get what seems like about two hours of daylight, don’t hibernate. Instead, get something really great, and dance away those blues! Yeah, baby. Or use this fun CD as the soundtrack for your next writing or reading session. To get in touch or place an order go to: www.facebook.com/BATHEARSEDETROIT Want more visuals? Then check out Bat Hearse on YouTube for some mega cool videos. As always, thanks for visiting Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. See you soon!

“RELEASED” FROM NO BAD BOOKS PRESS WILL BE COMING YOUR WAY SOON AND BRINGING “HELL TO THE HOLLER” WHEN IT DOES!

Hello again fellow horror writers and readers! I always enjoy sharing good news, so let me tell you a bit about this new short horror story anthology from No Bad Books Press. The title is “RELEASED” and the overall theme is things escaping into the world that probably shouldn’t have. Not only do I like the concept, but I’m proud to be contributing my short horror story “Hell To The Holler” to this cool project. I’m also a big fan of this amazing cover! It really gives readers a good visual representation of what’s inside. Make sure to keep an eye out for “RELEASED” from No Bad Books Press! Want more information? See what co-founders S. Faxon & Theresa Halvorsen are up to by visiting them at http://www.nobadbookspress.com