Archive for July, 2013

Barnes & Noble reader review of ZIPPERED FLESH 2

Posted in Book Reviews, News on July 31, 2013 by Christian

Barnes & Noble reader “RyanRyan” has written a review of ZIPPERED FLESH 2, which features my story, “The Little Things”:

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.com.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.com.

I read ZIPPERED FLESH last year and thought it was a good book. I hesitated a little getting this one because the first just didn’t wow me, but in the end I did. And this time I was wowed…and then some. The book starts off with Bryan Hall‘s “The Modern Adonis” and it is a great start.  I thought I knew where the story was going, but was I ever wrong. Great set up for a great ending.  The next story is Shaun Meeks‘s “Taut” and this is by far the best in the set. The movement of tense, the realism, the squirm factory and the dark ending made this one stick long after I finished reading it, to the point where I had to wait several hours before moving to the next story. And the next one is Lisa Mannetti‘s “The Hunger Artist”. I was glad to hear that this is a shorter version of a novel she is working on because I really wanted more. The next few stories are good in their own ways, not stand outs as the first three, but it’s hard to follow them, I think. After the first three, there are a few other stand outs though. M.L. Roos‘ “After Darque” about a detective that lets his obsessions go to far; Rick Hudson‘s “The Affair of the Jade Dragon” which takes a famous character and gives it a twist that turned my stomach and my head a bit; L.L. Soares‘s “Seeds” which falls into my list of top five stories in here. This one is a little sci-fi and horror that marry well together; and also Christian A. Larsen‘s “The Little Things” which is a quiet but very effective story.

All in all, ZIPPERED FLESH 2 never leaves a sour taste in your mouth.  Every story is satisfying and horrific in their own way. Even the most casual horror fan will find something to sink their teeth into here. Highly recommend it. 

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, published by Smart Rhino Publications, is now available in trade paperback and eBook formats at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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J. David Anderson reviews LOSING TOUCH

Posted in Book Reviews, News on July 29, 2013 by Christian

J. David Anderson, author of A TRAIL IN BLOOD, has written a review of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by Piers Anthony:

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon.com.

Let me preface this review by saying that it is very difficult to get a five star review from me. I can enjoy a book immensely but still find flaws in characterization, dialog, motivation, or story that will pull me away. Christian A. Larsen’s LOSING TOUCH is definitely a five star book.

Morgan Dunsmore is experiencing what many of us have faced over the past few years: loss of a job, financial difficulties, a sick spouse, marital problems, and because of this, feelings of inadequacy. Top it all off with a large dose of bowel trouble and you have one miserable protagonist. In the midst of his woes, Morgan begins to lose his tangibility. His body seems to randomly phase through solid matter as if it were not there. Morgan now has to learn to control this ability, resulting in situations that are funny at times and scary at others. He also finds himself questioning, if he can learn to control this ability, what to do with it.

The main thing about this novel that stuck out to me was the wonderful characterization of Morgan. The secondary characters are well written too, but this is Morgan’s story. He is truly the epitome of the “everyman.” I found myself flipping back and forth between cheering for him and wanting to slap him. His decisions aren’t always the best but they always make sense. What I mean is, as a spectator of his life, I can see where his poor decisions will lead but as a human being, I can see why he would make those decisions without seeing the consequences.

The story progresses nicely and at a solid pace. There are some great scenes involving Morgan’s self-discovery, some that are just laugh out loud funny, and even a few that will make you cringe. It was nice as well to be surprised by the ending. Some novels drop so much foreshadowing or make things so obvious that you know how things will conclude half-way through the book. Though the ending wasn’t an “out of left field” kind of twist (nor did I think that would be appropriate), I truly had no idea how things would wrap up.

Larsen has done an amazing job with this novel and I cannot wait to see what he has in store next time around.

Buy your copy of LOSING TOUCH from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble, or if you’re in the St. Louis area this weekend, stop by the Post Mortem Press table at ConTamination DEFCON 4 and pick up a signed copy.

Language is a funny thing

Posted in Observations & Musings on July 27, 2013 by Christian

I’ve been working with words throughout my adult life. Whether it was as a newspaper reporter, a radio host and news anchor, a high school English teacher, or as a writer, I’ve found that these little building blocks we turn into phrases and sentences–some version of an actual human thought–can be tricky.

Ironic signage for the win!

Ironic signage for the win!

I’m not above mistakes myself, but here are here are a couple of gems that I find particularly grating:

  • I could care less (meaning “I couldn’t care less”)
  • for all intensive purposes (meaning “for all intents and purposes”)
  • mind-bottling (meaning “mind boggling”)
  • irregardless (meaning “regardless”)
  • a mute point (meaning “moot point”)

My personal favorite (read: least favorite), though, is when you call someone and their outgoing voice mail message says something to the effect of “Hi, thanks for calling. I’m not here, but if you leave your name and number, I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience.”

Your earliest convenience? Pardon me? Did I fart loudly during your wedding ceremony?

I’m sure what they mean to say is “I’ll get back to you as soon as possible” but have somehow skull screwed the well-intentioned “call me back at your earliest convenience”, meaning (of course), “call me back as soon as its convenient for you.”

Telling me you’ll call back at your earliest convenience is the equivalent of saying, “I’ll call you back when I damn well feel like it, you asshat.”

I am not above misspeaking (and mis-writing) myself, so I suppose I should have some more patience, but this “earliest convenience” thing isn’t just wrong–it’s rude. Almost as rude as pointing out people’s malapropisms on a writer’s blog. I should be whoreswept.

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS is “delicious reading”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on July 26, 2013 by Christian

Kyren Evemy, of Artwork by Kyren, has written a review of A FEAST OF FRIGHTS FROM THE HORROR ZINE, praising the variety and selection:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a lot of content in there, and it will provide you with hours of delicious reading. A FEAST OF FRIGHTS is an anthology that serves up established names alongside promising rookies. (Christian Larsen’s “Clawed Sod” was a favorite.) Being more than just great fiction, I especially enjoyed John Gilmore’s article on the dark side of old-time Hollywood, and Benjamin Blake’s poetry.

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS, available at Amazon.com.

A FEAST OF FRIGHTS, available at Amazon.com.

Pick up your copy A FEAST OF FRIGHTS at Amazon.com, and when you’re finished reading it, it would be awesome if you would single out a few of your own favorites in a review of your own:

You’ll also find poetry, artwork, and essays from some of horror’s biggest names in A FEAST OF FRIGHTS FROM THE HORROR ZINE, now available at Amazon.com.

SHADOW MASTERS features “incredible talents”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on July 25, 2013 by Christian

Horror writer and critic C. Dennis Moore has posted a review of SHADOW MASTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE HORROR ZINE, which features my short story, “The People Eaters”:

Pick up your copy of SHADOW MASTERS at Amazon.com.

Pick up your copy of SHADOW MASTERS at Amazon.com.

Books like the latest anthology from Horror Zine editor Jeani Rector are exactly the reason I love anthologies. I always discover so many great authors I may not have otherwise discovered. And new authors, for a reader as voracious as myself, is always a plus.

SHADOW MASTERS isn’t a very big book–only 342 pages–but with over 30 stories, it feels massive. And within those 30+ stories are some incredible talents. I guess I could showcase the name authors, the ones you’ll recognize, the ones you’ll buy this book for, like Bentley Little, whose story “The End of the Trail” is brilliantly weird and so very well-written. Or there’s Yvonne Navarro‘s “Holodomor Girl”, which is without question the darkest thing in this collection, and so good. I could talk about Simon Clark‘s “The Tin House” or Melanie Tem‘s “The Classmate”, which feels like a terribly deranged world masquerading as our normal everyday one and not doing a very good job of it–this might be my second favorite story here–or there’s Elizabeth Massie‘s “Wet Birds”, But I don’t have to, because you know these authors, and when you purchase this book, it’ll be those names that drew you in.

Luckily, though, SHADOW MASTERS has so much more to offer and, while the names may not be immediately recognizable (they weren’t to me, anyway), their talent is just as solid, and their stories every bit the equal of those bigger names.

Rick McQuiston‘s “Don’t Feed the Dog” is a very short, but powerful story about denial, death and dinnertime that demands a second reading, while Tim Jeffreys‘s “The Cellar” leaves all the best bits to your imagination, and is an even more powerful story because of it.

James Marlow‘s “The Thing That Was Not There” is an excellent opener and sets the tone for the rest of the stories that follow while Christopher Hivner‘s “I Am the Feeder” and Horror Zine co-editor Dean H. Wild‘s story “Foundlings” share a similar theme, but are each very much their own stories.

Devon Carey‘s “Fearful Symmetry” read like something from Clive Barker at his most inventive and Jonathan Chapman‘s “The Wood Witch” was easily one of the most enjoyable reads of the collection. Not because of the incredibly dark content, but because of Chapman’s style. That dude can write!

The collection is aptly titled. There’s a darkness that permeates these stories–which is fitting, I guess; they ARE horror stories–but it’s more than just because they’re horror stories. There are themes of hopelessness, despair and regret that run throughout many of them, adding to the feel of the book as a whole. This is not a happy collection. But if it was, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did. Jeani Rector is an editor who knows her stuff and she has put together a 5-star collection of long-time horror talents with some up and comers who are sure to make big names for themselves, very soon. SHADOWS MASTERS was, for me, the epitome of why I love horror anthologies in the first place.

If you haven’t read SHADOW MASTERS and picked out your own personal favorites, what are you waiting for? Just check out that table of contents:

SHADOW MASTERS (Imajin Books) is a product of THE HORROR ZINE, a monthly e-zine that publishes new issues the first of every month.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2 a “jaw-droppingly fine collection of stories”

Posted in Book Reviews, News on July 24, 2013 by Christian

Chuck Briggs has written a detailed review of ZIPPERED FLESH 2: MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD, which features my short story, “The Little Things”:

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.com.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.com.

…What we have here, is a collection of mostly independent writers tapping into the darkside, all writing on the Barkeresque theme of “body enhancements gone bad”, surgically, chemically, whatever. It’s also the second of the series, which isn’t a promising start for the newcomer. One initially assumes that all of the good stuff was used up in the first anthology and what we’re stuck with here are bloody, splatter happy, intellectually wonting remainders.

Wrong, wrong, dead wrong, all wrong, and let’s start again.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2 turns out to be a jaw-droppingly fine collection of stories. I won’t tell you that everyone is a masterpiece. I won’t tell you there aren’t a couple of predictable clinkers and some that go for the gore and debauchery as an end itself. What I will tell you is that overall the writing is of a very high caliber. A glance through the author information at the end of the book reveals a cadre of extremely talented, experienced people. Editor Weldon Burge has done a remarkable job of finding a variety of approaches to what could have been an exercise in blood thirsty tedium…

Read the rest of the review here. Be sure to pick up your own copy and pick out a few of your own favorites:

ZIPPERED FLESH 2 was published by Smart Rhino Publications, a new publishing firm based in Delaware, with a current leaning toward (but not limited to) horror and suspense fiction.

What gives with Amazon’s used stuff?

Posted in Observations & Musings on July 23, 2013 by Christian

I’ve often wondered how used copies of books come out so early after release, and why they are so damned expensive. Now, I can wonder that about LOSING TOUCH, too:

Losing Touch used

Sells new from Amazon.com for $13.19, second hand sellers have new for $12.23, and USED for $40.85? WTF? Who is buying copies of my novel and then turning around and selling them at such a ridiculous markup?

Paying a $30 premium for a book that’s used? Hey, come to my house–I can sell you a bunch! I’ll crack the spines and everything, if that’s how you like it, you dirty thing, you…

I’m sure these retailers don’t actually have them in stock at all, but the question then becomes, who would they be selling them to at that price? Amazon shoppers would surely see the $13.19 price for a new copy and go that route, am I right? Who wouldn’t?

Is there something I’m not understanding here about the business model?