Archive for December, 2013

Stories in THE BEST OF THE HORROR SOCIETY 2013 “push the boundaries of horror”

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

Gordon Bean, author of DAWN OF BROKEN GLASS, has written an in-depth review of THE BEST OF THE HORROR SOCIETY 2013, which features my short story, “It Has Teeth”:

Now available via Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

Now available via Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

THE BEST OF THE HORROR SOCIETY 2013, edited by Carson Buckingham, is a collection of twenty eight excellent horror stories designed to sit with you long after you read the final page. What’s interesting is that unlike many recent anthologies, this one is built not around a theme but rather is a collection of simply great stories which are dark, disturbing, and in many cases, push the boundaries of horror. Ironically, I did find a common thread through many of the stories and that was that bad things often happened to bad people, although good people certainly got caught in the grip of evil as well.

Of the twenty eight stories, there were some from well-established voices along with relative newcomers to the horror genre. As is often the case in these anthologies, sometimes the most entertaining stories came from the newer voices who are just now flexing their storytelling muscle. There wasn’t a single bad story, which made my task of narrowing down to my favorites all that much more challenging. Of the stories that I listed below as my favorites, please understand that my selection is entirely subjective to the impact each of the stories had on me. While I enjoyed each story in the anthology, the following managed to hit a nerve and make the story stand out and linger long after the final word was read.

“Ceremony”, by William F. Nolan is the perfect tale to kick off the anthology in style. A story by one of the grand masters of short fiction is bound to be a treat and Nolan certainly does not disappoint. The story centers on an unnamed hitman traveling to New England to carry out a job. Of course, the bus breaks down in the creepy town of Doour’s Mill, and the man gets thrown into the middle of some very odd goings on. To tell any more would ruin the story. Of course, like any Nolan story, getting there is half the fun and Nolan pulls out all the stops in his descriptions of the town and its very strange citizens. Ceremony is a story that lingers with you long after reading it.

“Lemminaid”, by Carson Buckingham is a story of a wealthy old man, Peterson Sharpe, who spots a young boy selling lemonade by the side of the road and decides to stop. While to story starts in an almost lighthearted tone, it quickly dissolves into something a lot darker and leaves us with an ending very reminiscent of early Richard Matheson. A strong moral lesson is given here in that you will reap what you sow.

“White Hell, Wisconsin”, by Weldon Burge was another stand-out story in the anthology and clearly the case of bad things happening to good people. It follows the story of a snow plow driver who on the night of a huge blizzard comes face to face with a very familiar monster – mankind. What really stood out in this tale was not only the sense of isolation from the storm, but the manner of how cold and calculating those in the story can be given the right circumstances. A dark and unsettling read, it sends chills as it serves as an allegory for what is happening to the youth of America. Very chilling indeed.

“Normal is Relative”, by Dan Dillard starts off as a simple paint by numbers story of a young couple having dinner at home when their idyllic evening is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the man’s psychotic brother. Of course, this story quickly spirals out of control and after the blood soaked violence, the ending hits you with an twist I can guarantee you won’t see coming. It lingered long after reading and is highly recommended.

“Madeleine”, by Julianne Snow is a dark tale about a six year old girl haunted by prophetic dreams of her family’s gruesome demise. Throw into the mix a creepy aunt who gives the terrified girl an unusual doll to help with her night terrors and you have another great tale with the requisite twist ending. Another story that pays quiet homage to Richard Matheson and manages to scare us long after we’ve finished reading.

“It Has Teeth”, by Christian A. Larsen is an old-school horror story of a husband and wife who think they’ve found the home of their dreams only to see it dissolve into the stuff of nightmares. Eerily reminiscent of stories ripped from the pages of the old PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES anthology series, the story does indeed have teeth and will grab you and not let go.

“Black Bird”, by Rose Blackthorn starts off telling the story of Callie Velis who notices a black bird who seems to be following her as she heads to work. The story escalates and the one bird becomes many as Callie becomes terrorized by the birds. Not to give anything away, the story builds tension as it works its way to a satisfying climax. Highly entertaining and a real page turner, it will have you looking at the next crow or raven you see with a greater degree of suspicion.

“Adjoining Rooms”, by Scott M. Goriscak is a dark tale that follows a con man who has a run in at a hotel with his very large and frightening neighbor at a city hotel. The story mixes an old-school approach with a small degree of surrealistic weirdness to evoke a sense of fear and paranoia as the story propels itself along to a twisted finale, showing once again how bad things do happen to bad people. The story reminded me of the old “pre-code” EC comics and was a blast to read as I turned the pages, waiting to see what would happen next.

“Moving Day”, by Mark Onspaugh tells the story of eight-year old Clarissa Pearson as she and her family move into their new home. The story manages to take two time worn staples in horror such as the unknown of a new home and the innocence of children and blends them together to get a dark and twisted tale that hints strongly at a Lovecraftian influence. Very clever and will keep you reading until the very last word.

“Black Mary”, by Mercedes M. Yardley is a haunting tale of abuse, human monsters and the indomitable will of the human spirit wrapped around a quiet ghost story. Very well written with strong characters you can empathize with and incrediby haunting, this story shines as one of the best in the book.

“Boy in the Elevator”, by Robert S. Wilson tells the story of a man who is convinced he sees his dead son at a hotel and follows him into the elevator. The story relies not only in the build-up of tension throughout, but also with the hard hitting ending which cbeautifully closes the story. Very creepy and unsettling and makes us caution what we truly wish for.

Again, while the above eleven stories really hit a chord and resonated with me, this is an anthology that doesn’t have a weak link. Each story is well-written and highly enjoyable and well worthy to be a representative for the Horror Society. Carson Buckingham has pulled together a solid and cohesive collection and a highly and engaging read from beginning to end. Highly recommended.

Read the review here, and if you haven’t already read THE BEST OF THE HORROR SOCIETY 2013, here’s the complete table of contents:

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

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ZIPPERED FLESH 2 “has something for everyone”

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

Amazon reader Diane J has written a five-star review of ZIPPERED FLESH 2, which features my short story, “The Little Things”:

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.

ZIPPERED FLESH 2, now available at Amazon.

This anthology is full of excellent horror from the beginning story by Bryan Hall, called “The Modern Adonis” to the last story by Michael Bailey called “Primal Tongue”. The first one starts off the book with gore and bizarre circumstances, the last story is not a bit bloody, but so creepy and full of “sign of the times” themes. In between, every single one of these offerings has something for everyone. “Taut” by Shaun Meeks is a mixture of atmospheric nightmare, fetish and what I call “the ick factor”. A more gothic and atmosphere centered tale is offered by Lisa Mannetti in “The Hunger Artist”. Carson Buckingham gives us “Skin Deep”, which delves into the human desire for perfection. “Prosthetics” by Daniel I. Russell is downright just creepy. “Seeds” by L.L. Soares is a wonderful new version of one of my favorite iconic movies. Kealan Patrick Burke spins a dark and very disturbing tale of teenage romance with his story “Underneath”. “In Piper at the Gates”, David Benton and W.D. Gagliani take us on a roller coaster creep fest ride. I would describe every story in here, but they are all so good, I just want you to buy this book or e book and start reading immediately! You will not be sorry!

Edited by Weldon BurgeZIPPERED FLESH 2 features the following contributions:

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

“Awesomeness resides within” WHAT FEARS BECOME

Posted in Book Reviews, News on December 28, 2013 by Christian
WHAT FEARS BECOME, now available at Amazon.

WHAT FEARS BECOME, now available at Amazon.

Amazon reader Michael Randolph has written a review of WHAT FEARS BECOME, which features my short story, “Bast”:

What more could I say that the other reviews don’t except, if you love horror, get this book. It’s not just the names but the voices within that grab you and don’t let go as you read through the stories. Creepy, unique and fantastic. A few of the authors I have read and love, (Joe Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Elizabeth Massie to name a couple), and the rest though new to me, are brilliant.

WHAT FEARS BECOME is the third anthology in THE HORROR ZINE series, each edited by THE HORROR ZINE chief Jeani Rector, followed by A FEAST OF FRIGHTS and SHADOW MASTERS.

If you haven’t already read WHAT FEARS BECOME, you’re missing terrific artwork, poetry, and the following horrifying stories:

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

BLEED is “one of the best anthologies” this year

Posted in Book Reviews, News on December 27, 2013 by Christian

Rena Mason, author of THE EVOLUTIONIST, has written a review of BLEED, a charity anthology which includes my short story, “The Funeral Portrait”:

Support the National Children's Cancer Society with BLEED.

Support the National Children’s Cancer Society with BLEED.

BLEED is one of the best anthologies of collected works I’ve read this year and maybe ever. The bonus being that it is for such a good cause. The introduction is very heartfelt and hopeful. There are so many great pieces it’s very difficult to pick and choose favorites, but the first story, “With Paper Armour and Wooden Sword” [by Tracie McBride] is very well done, and was a bit of tear jerker for me. “Sludge” [by Stan Swanson] is another favorite, as was “Ears” [by Eli Wilde], “Dance of the Blue Lady” [by Gene O’Neill], “King Rat” [by James Dorr] “All the Sludge” [by Benjamin Kane Ethridge], and “Never Enough” [J. David Anderson] (which was the perfect end piece, because of the first story). Honestly, I could list the entire table of contents. The essays and poetry pieces are fantastic. I truly can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a great mix of works.

Support the The National Children’s Cancer Society by picking up a paperbackKindle, or Nook edition of BLEED, featuring the following stories, poems, and essays:

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

Happy Ham Hangover Day

Posted in Observations & Musings on December 26, 2013 by Christian

Good King Wenceslas knew a good thing when he saw it. He called it St. Stephen’s Day, but most commonwealth countries nowadays call it Boxing Day. Here in the States, we call it Ham Hangover Day, and in these heady postmodern times, it’s the day we rush online to use our day-old gift cards on the things we really wanted–like, say LOSING TOUCH?

And now, the Kindle edition is on sale at the reduced price of at $4.99, so it’s never been more worth it. But don’t take my word for it…

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Professor emeritus from Pepperdine University and two-time Bram Stoker finalist Michael R. Collings, in writing for HELLNOTES, says LOSING TOUCH is an “insightful, intriguing, and ultimately entertaining and uplifting novel…”

Paula Limbaugh, at Matt Molgaard’s HORROR NOVEL REVIEWS, says: “I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book and find out for yourself where this all leads to. An easy read that leaves you wanting more…”

In her review for SHOCK TOTEM, Rose Blackthorn writes that LOSING TOUCH “wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Regardless, I was quickly caught up in the storyline and clear writing, and taken to an ending I didn’t see coming but thoroughly enjoyed…”

If you buy a new print edition (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $1.99 (Save 60%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

So why not use your gift card on a paperback copy of LOSING TOUCH? Or the Kindle (or even Nook) edition? It’s a great way to support the arts and, in the spirit of Good King Wenceslas, the artist behind it: “Ye who now will bless the poor / Shall yourselves find blessing.”

You can also mail me your leftover ham.

SO IT GOES is “a fun adventure”

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

Amazon reader Charlotte Vale has written a review of SO IT GOES: A TRIBUTE TO KURT VONNEGUT, featuring my short story, “The Fountain of Relative Youth”:

SO IT GOES, now available at Amazon.

SO IT GOES, now available at Amazon.

My fear regarding tribute anthologies is summarized in this anthology’s last story “A Tribute to Ernest Glipp” by C. M. Chapman. I’m always concerned that the authors will try to imitate their beloved author rather than tell their own unique tales. However, my fears were put to rest when I read the first story “The Grand Tour” by Frank Roger. It was hilarious and immediately put me at ease. From this moment on, I knew that I was in for a fun adventure.

Jay Wilburn‘s “Saving God” has to be one of the strangest stories I’ve ever read. Since I’m a reader and fan of Kurt Vonnegut’s work, that’s really saying something. A week after reading it I still have no idea what to make of it. I think that’s a compliment. James W. Hritz‘s story “Critical Thinking Skills” was heartbreaking and moved me in an unexpected way. “The Fountain of Relative Youth” by Christian A. Larsen had me repeating, “Oh no!” out loud from start to finish. Appropriately, I repeat that phrase every time I read Kurt Vonnegut’s work as well.

One of my favorites was “The Truth” by Jonathan Balog. The straight-forward writing style fit the genre of the story. The story itself fit my idea of good writing. “You’re Toast” by E.E. King cracked me up. And the last story was the right ending for the anthology. C. M. Chapman‘s thoughts and feelings are probably shared by every author contributing to this book and beautifully wrap-up every reader’s thoughts on art and its power.

All in all a fun and fitting tribute to a great influence. Each author interpreted and illustrated a different aspect of Vonnegut but, more importantly, gave their readers a glimpse into themselves. I hope to read more by many of them over the years. Who knows? Maybe my children will be reading a tribute to one of these authors some day!

Editor Max Booth III put together the following 22 short stories for the anthology from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. Which ones are your favorites?

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.

Racine Poet Laureate to conduct writer’s workshop at B&N event

Posted in News on December 23, 2013 by Christian
LOSING TOUCH, now available at Barnes & Noble.

LOSING TOUCH, now available at Barnes & Noble.

I will be answering questions about LOSING TOUCH at the Winter Writer’s Day hosted by Barnes & Noble in Racine on February 22, after which Racine’s poet laureate, Nick Ramsey, will conduct a writer’s workshop, providing his unique perspective on where creativity can take your career.

The Carthage College graduate is a hip-hop artist who delves into all aspects of emceeing from poetry and spoken word to freestyle and show hosting. His influences include Notorious B.I.G, Big L, Big Pun, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Rakim, R.A. The Rugged Man, Wu-Tang, Jurassic 5, Eminem, and Canibus.

From 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., children’s authors will present their titles and interact with the kiddos and their parents. Participating authors include Karen Franco (JUST HOLD MY HAND), Janet Halfmann (STAR OF THE SEA), C. Hill (the ABBY BOO workbook series), and Norma Lundstrum (THE CHUBBY GIRL).

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., I will be part of the adult author panel that will include:

From 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Ramsey will conduct the writer’s workshop, and from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., stay for the open house, during which time the authors will be available to chat and sign copies of their books.