April Reviews!


I purchased Ganymede by Cherie Priest at my local bookstore the day before my flight to World Horror and devoured it between the flights there and back. It’s the fourth of her Clockwork Century steampunk books, set in an alternate 1890s America where the Civil War is still raging. I was slightly apprehensive at first after having to set aside Dreadnought (the third book) a third of the way through because it didn’t hold my interest. At this point, I’m invested in the series, though—I’ll be taking another stab at Dreadnought soon enough, I’m sure, and will probably find something to like. I’d been looking forward to Boneshaker, the first novel, for nearly a year before it’s release, and Clementine, the Subterranean Press-released novella, was nearly as good.

I found Ganymede, which revisits Boneshaker’s pirate Andan Cly as he undertakes one last illegal operation in order to finance his retirement, to deliver on the promise of Boneshaker better than any other book in the series to date. For those eager to meet another of Priest’s plucky heroines, we have Josephine Early, a mulatto cathouse owner and one of Cly’s former lovers. For readers looking forward to revisiting old friends, Briar, Zeke, Mercy and Swakhammer all make appearances. If you’ve never read a Clockwork Century book yet, you can certainly jump in with Ganymede (these novels are all self-contained, though they do build on each other), though I’d recommend at least reading Boneshaker first.

Red Empire and Other Stories by Joe McKinney collects his previously released novella Red Empire and seven short stories, some written specifically for this collection. McKinney fans know him best for his zombie stories (he took home a Stoker this year for Flesh Eaters, his third Dead World novel), but there’s not a zombie in sight here, but for one story. Like most of McKinney’s work, many of these stories take place in Texas and feature police. The novella in particular reminded me of the mid-90s-era Dean Koontz novels I enjoyed before I figured out they all followed the same formula—but with the possible romance between the male and female leads left to happen after the story, rather than bogging down the action. A solid collection, and a must for any McKinney fan.

Rust and Blood by Ed Kurtz collects nine short stories, many brand-new with a few reprints. Kurtz has a great writing style, and even the stories that failed to suspend disbelief for me held my attention all the way through. I ripped through the collection in a couple of hours. The premises behind ‘Hungry’ and ‘Pearls’ were a bit farfetched, but both were fun–‘Pearls’ in particular was an uncomfortable read for a guy who had a nickel-sized, inch-deep chunk of necrotized flesh carved from his thigh a couple years back. ‘Sinners’ and ‘Roadbeds’ were confusing, to be completely honest, but the rest of the book is packed with solid, old-school horror–‘Family Bible’ in particular was a great read.

Faint of Heart by Jeff Strand is a self-published novella featuring Rebecca, a young wife who is kidnapped from her home the night after her husband, Gary, goes off on a hunting trip with a couple of buddies. Her kidnapper and his accomplice force her to relive everything Gary did the day before—or else. Strand is great at making a reader care about his characters in a short amount of time, and screwed with my expectations expertly. I also appreciate his economical, to the point style. Faint was a quick, exciting read that I blew through in one sitting.

The first two Sam Truman Mysteries novellas—Catch My Killer! by Ed Kurtz (released this month) and The Last Invasion by Brandon Zuern (coming in May) are the first in a new ongoing series of pulp novellas from Abattoir, an imprint of Kurtz’ Redrum Horror. Abattoir plans to release a new digital novella every six weeks, with print omnibus editions collecting every four or so. If I had to compare the Sam Truman series to anything else I’ve read, it’d be Shroud’s Hiram Grange series, in that both feature down-on-his-luck investigators-for-hire who solve paranormal mysteries. Killer! introduces Sam Truman, an involuntarily-retired private investigator who doesn’t have a pot to piss in. He intercedes in an attempted robbery at a diner by blowing away the perpetrator, only to be later visited (and hired) by the ghost of a murder victim housed in the robber’s corpse. In Invasion, Sam is hired by the family of a missing girl, and uncovers much more than a simple kidnapping or disappearance. Kurtz was born to write noir pulps; Killer! flows effortlessly and is grounded firmly in the series’ 1960s setting. Invasion is Zuern’s first published work, but hopefully not his last.


Archive: El Paso Public Forum, 4 APR 10


I’ll be in Salt Lake City from the 29th to the 1st, attending the World Horror Convention. I’ll have something from the archives for you here on the site each day, though. This is a radio interview I did shortly after returning from my deployment to Qatar. While I was deployed, my second book, MAGICK & MISERY, was released by Black Bed Sheet Books. Thanks again to Clear Channel’s Melissa Kerr for doing the interview, and to my lovely wife for setting up the whole deal while I was still overseas.


Short Story Collection FAQ


Author’s Note: Another FAQ resulting from a discussion between my critique partners and I on my now-defunct online forum.


One of my Seven Deadly Pens partners was curious about some of the specifics of publishing a collection of short stories. Since I’ve already had two published, I had a fair amount of information to share. Here it is for your own edification, should you be curious as well.

Did you approach a publisher with a completed manuscript & table of contents?


Did they reject any of the stories or how you had them put together?

A couple of stories got rejected for Despairs & Delights because they were a little too extreme for the editor. Those made it into Magick & Misery, though, which was released through a different publisher.

Did you self publish?

Hells no. See here and here.

What about rights? I would assume many of the stories in a collection were previously published, so did you have any issues with what could go into the collection? Are there rights covering this sort of thing? (I assume there are…) Would anthology rights apply here? What rights would apply to a collected work?

It is assumed that a collection will include a lot of reprints, so that shouldn’t be an issue. What you do need to make sure of is that you’re not violating any agreements with other publishers/editors. If you signed a contract giving print rights to a specific story to Dark Recesses for a year, for example, you need to either wait that whole year before publishing it elsewhere or else ask DR for permission to use it sooner. Anthology rights are rights a magazine purchases in order to include work they’ve published in the magazine in a ‘Best Of’ anthology at a later date. The rights that apply to the collection? It’s your work, and you have the right to publish it, unless you’ve signed a contract giving those rights away either temporarily or permanently.

I have enough stuff right now that would come together to make a 60,000-word collection. Would that be long enough?

Absolutely. Neither of mine are that long.

Did you buy a number of your own copies at a discount to resell?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I can sell signed copies direct from my website for cover price or below and still make a buck or two per copy.

You do that through your website and keep the money, or do you have a deal with your publisher to split any of that revenue?

If I buy them, I don’t get royalties on those copies, of course, but I keep any revenue from their sales, which, depending on the circumstances, can amount to more per copy than I’d see if someone bought the book through Amazon, for example.