Thursday, September 18, 2014
The new anthology WIDOWMAKERS is live as of now for the Kindle, with a trade paperback on the way. Over 700 pages of Dark Fantasy with stories by folks like Bracken MacLeod, Elizabeth Massie, James A. Moore, Brian Keene, Jeff Strand, and even some guy named Rutledge.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I was reviewing my posts here this year and I noticed that in addition to the general drop off in posting from last year, that there's also been a scarcity of posts dealing with Robert E. Howard and his most famous creation, Conan the Cimmerian. If you check the previous few years of Singular Posts, Conan has been a fixture and there are, in fact, a couple of years where this is almost a REH themed blog.
At the moment, Howard's colleague and pen pal, H.P. Lovecraft seems to have edged REH and Conan out. Not sure if that's because I've been spending so much time writing horror or what. I've definitely been reading more Lovecraft than Howard for the past six months.
Anyway, I assure you that my enthusiasm for all things Conan and Sword & Sorcery hasn't waned. Just doesn't seem to be where my posting interest lies at the moment.
As I mentioned in a couple of other posts, I think that my activity on Facebook and other social media has made the biggest difference in the frequency of my blog posts. Any time that I have a lot to say about something I blog about it, but the quick little snippets about stuff seem to end up on Facebook. I've yet to hit 100 blog posts for the year so far. Checking last year's stats, I averaged about 20 posts a month and now I average about 10.
Anyway, I've no plans to stop blogging, but it is interesting how the changing face of the internet has affected things.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Albatwitches is the chronologically fourth book in Keenes' series featuring ex-Amish Occult Detective, Levi Stolzfus. The book is actually two novellas, "The Witching Tree' and the titular 'Last of the Albatwitches.'
In 'The Witching Tree' Levi is called in when a lone tree in an old field apparently starts killing people. The local law enforcement is a little out of their depth and soon Levi finds that he could be in trouble himself.
In 'Last of the Albatwitches' Levi runs up against an old local legend, something similar to Bigfoot, but smaller, and a lot less friendly. As he digs deeper though, he finds that there's more than meets the eye to what's going on.
As I said, this was my first Brian Keene book and so my first meeting with Levi. He's a terrific character, with an original and complex background. He's no longer Amish but he still holds to many of his old ways. He's also a mage, a man who practices 'powwow' magic, and uses the book 'The Long Lost Friend' as his primary source of power. I first heard about The Long Lost Friend in the stories of Manly Wade Wellman, The book and the magic behind it figure in some of Wellman's John the Balladeer stories and in some of his other horror stories.
Keene has gone farther then Wellman though, having Levi use the spells, charms, and protections from the book against all kinds of supernatural menaces. This is, of course, the original, unexpurgated version of the book. Not the one you can get online for your Kindle.
Brian Keene is a sure hand when it comes to horror and these two novellas are darn scary. They're also fascinating and well written, really some of the best horror I've read this year. You don't have to read the books in order but if you want to, the first is 'Dark Hollow', followed by 'Ghost Walk', 'A Gathering of Crows' and then Albatwitches. Like I said, I've already ordered the others and plan to read a couple during Halloween. Highly recommended.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
This gets a little tougher every year because I've used up my absolute favorites, so the selections from favorite writers become more difficult. Luckily I continue to collect horror short stories, so there are always new (or new to me) stories and authors. This year marks my first inclusion of stories by folks like Brian Lumley, William Meikle, and Gene Wolfe, and the return of old favorites Ramsey Campbell, H.P. Lovecraft, Karl Edward Wagner, Stephen King, and Manly Wade Wellman.
Speaking of Wagner, this is the first time I've used a story about his hero-villain, Kane in one of my lists. I usually stick to Wagner's traditional horror yarns, but 'Undertow' is probably the most horrific of the Kane tales and I think it fits right in.
I almost included Kealan Patrick Burke's story 'Offline', but at the last minute I replaced it with his 'Someone to Carve the Pumpkins' because of its creepy Halloween vibe.
There's nary a whisper of the supernatural in Ed Gorman's story, 'Angie', but trust me, it's horror, and perhaps more so than some of the other because it's all too believable.
I was a bit surprised at the sheer, out and out terror evident in William Hope Hodgson's 'A Tropical Horror' because I usually think of his horror stories as being more reserved. This one is a real shocker and would make a good movie, I think. Ditto Amelia B. Edwards' 'The Phantom Coach' which has an ending that's just plane gruesome.
One of my favorite Ghost stories in quite some time is Chet Williamson's 'Jabbie Welsh'. Chet writes beautifully and here his horror chops really shine.
William Meikle's 'The Keeper of the Gate' is a top notch Cthulhu Mythos story, as are most of the yarns in the collection 'Dark Rites of Cthulhu'. I highly recommend that anthology. It's often hard to find Mythos stories that manage to actually be scary these days and Dark Rites has more than its share.
So there you have it. 13 horror tales for your Halloween reading pleasure. Hopefully you old hands will find something you missed, and for the horror newbies among you, I hope I can point the way to some new writers, even if some of them are of Victorian Vintage.
1. Manly Wade Wellman -Pithecanthropus Rejectus
from The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein
2. Amelia B. Edwards -The Phantom Coach
from The Phantom Coach
3. Karl Edward Wagner -Undertow
From Night Winds
4. Chet Williamson -Jabbie Welsh
From Figures in Rain
5. Brian Lumley -The Fairground Horror
From The Taint and Other Novellas
6. William Hope Hodgson -A Tropical Horror
From The Centipede Press Library of Weird Fiction
7. Gene Wolfe-Lord of the Land
From Cthulhu 2000
8. H.P. Lovecraft-The Shunned House
From The Best of H.P. Lovecraft
9. William Meikle-The Keeper of the Gate
From Dark Rites of Cthulhu
10. Kealan Patrick Burke-Someone to Carve the Pumpkins
From Dead Leaves
11. Ed Gorman-Angie
From Scream Queen and other Tales of Menace
12. Stephen King-The Monkey
From Skeleton Crew
13. Ramsey Campbell-The Show Goes On
From DAW Year's Best Horror Vol XI
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Went out to breakfast at Waffle House this morning. I took along volume II of S.T. Joshi's biography of H.P. Lovecraft, I AM PROVIDENCE because I'm doing some research. Sitting there, listening to what passes for Country Music these days, I suddenly wondered what Lovecraft would have ordered if he'd been with me. Reportedly his usual breakfast was donuts and cheese, and he had a notorious sweet tooth, so I figure he'd have been good with a waffle and maybe some eggs with cheese in them. Yes, there are the sorts of things writers think about at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. What would I buy H.P. Lovecraft for breakfast at Waffle House?