Monday, March 24, 2014

Dark Souls 2: My Obsession and Addiction

I grew up playing video games; the NES era had a lot of games that would be difficult by today’s standards. Most games on the market today are easy and focus heavily on the multiplayer element, which I can understand, but I’m not a big fan. I’m used to playing with someone sitting beside me, or braving the mighty robots of the Mega Man universe by myself.

I used to love playing the Final Fantasy games, but the last three entries have been awful, in my opinion (I’m talking about the trilogy of crap called Final Fantasy XIII). I used to love playing video games, but most games are too easy, or they’re a Call of Duty clone. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve played several games that I absolutely love, but most of the franchises I used to love (Resident Evil), suck. I have to play Suda 51 games, games most people hate, just to get something “different” out of a video game. To me, most games are the same. Open-world games usually bore me to death, unless it’s one of the Fallout games.

I remember stumbling upon an article on IGN about the ten hardest games in the last few years, and I saw Dark Souls on the list. I had no idea what it was. I bought the game for Xbox, and I obsessed over it. Absolutely obsessed over it. I felt like a teenager all over again because I spent countless hours playing it. My wife screamed at me several times. 



(Two hours and several deaths later...)

The game was difficult at first, sure, but once you became accustomed to the combat system, it's fairly easy. When I re-started with a different character, I wiped the floor with Smough and Ornstein, one of the hardest boss battles in the game. I beat them in one try. The game was hard, but it wasn’t impossible.

So. Dark Souls II.

I haven’t wanted to play a game this badly since Final Fantasy VIII; the release date was circled on my calendar. I’m 31 years old with two kids and a good job, but here I was, fantasizing about a forthcoming video game. I actually went out and bought at PS3 just to play Demon’s Souls, which I also loved. Dark Souls is the only game I’ve played more than once since the Resident Evil 2 days. 

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo over which Dark Souls game is better, and some people are bothered by the graphics. I feel like we’re comparing Megan Man 2 to Megan Man 3; both games are fun and challenging. I’ve read articles from several reviewers who say that Dark Souls II fails to live up to expectations because they liked the Firelink Shrine idea from the first game because the world felt “connected” to a middle place. Well, you can walk back to your “home” in Majula in Dark Souls II, but it would be a very long walk from some places. That’s not always the case, but the game certainly has a central hub. The graphics aren't perfect, but I like how the world looks "tired" and wasted. 

Human effigies are tough to come by. You can keep repairing a ring that will break every time you die, but it costs 3000 souls to fix and you have to keep warping back to the blacksmith to get it fixed—the inconvenience is enough to keep me from being reckless. 

The game world feels far more “coherent” than the last game did, despite the fact that some professional game reviewers prefer the Firelink Shrine idea. There is a bit more story, and it’s an intriguing one. The game is still mysterious.

There is certainly an emphasis on multiplayer, but I’m okay with it because I don’t have to voice chat with juveniles to enjoy it. I prefer to use a warrior so I can play with all the cool weapons, but I’ve noticed that some bosses are easier to take down with a character who can keep their distance and throw magic spells. It seems like some bosses would discourage this strategy. 

The game is a cross between Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. I am displeased with the game’s AI, because you can easily bait some enemies to a certain point, and for whatever reason, they began to backtrack, allowing you to shoot them with your bow or hit them with something else from a distance. Enemies normally just stand there and take it when you’re pelting them with arrows from a distance. I can only imagine how hard some parts of this game would be if enemies ducked behind cover or tried to flank you. 

I usually get wasted when I’m summoned to another world by another player, but I like hanging out in the belfry, because I usually win those fights. There are different ways to approach multiplayer this time around. I’ve noticed how important the poise stat has become, and opponents with small, quick weapons can stagger you and hit you with a devastating combo as soon as they can find an opening.

I could go on and on. I love Dark Souls II. I love Dark Souls. I love Demon’s Souls. Like the old NES games, I’ll keep playing them and playing them, because the challenge is always fresh and fun. I’m embarrassed by the number of hours I’ve logged on the game since it came out. I always criticize people who sit there and play Flappy Birds and Candy Crush when they could be reading a book, and here I am… I could be WRITING a book…

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Writing the Werewolf Apocalypse

The book is finally available from Severed Press, with an awesome cover by Alan M. Clark. In the foreword, I explained why I wrote the book; the novel is essentially a love letter to Takashi Miike and Meiko Kaiji, both legends in Japanese cinema.


For me to say the book is violent and original is a bit pretentious. I will say I used a different approach when writing the book, and did whatever I could to capture a sort of Japanese aesthetic to the prose. The book is a big one (over three hundred pages), but there aren’t many large paragraphs. Sometimes, there is beauty in “simplicity”; so I didn’t write the thing like it was a Haiku, but I wanted readers to infer and “feel”; telling readers much of anything would have ruined the cultural context. 

Are there werewolves in the book? Yes. A lot of them. 

Meiko Kaji in Lady Snowblood
I didn’t create a “dream cast” for this book on the blog because a lot of the actors would be Japanese, and not many folks know about the actors who I’d want in the movie. I’m also biased; I think even the “cheesy” Japanese films, or even the horror films, take their approach to acting and presentation far more seriously than most American film studios. An American film studio couldn’t make this into a movie. No way. Not even Tom Cruise. 

I won’t apologize for how “weird” the book might seem. I won’t apologize for anything in this book. It shifts between stories, jumps around, and entire chapters are presented differently. It’s exploitative, ridiculous, and very, very, Japanese. 

With werewolves, of course. Many of them. Many, many werewolves

Takashi Miike's remake of Hara-Kiri. A movie that is kind of "normal" for him, although depressing as hell.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


A lot of publishers do their best to advertise their books as original works of art. At least, I think a lot of presses follow this model. I think a lot of readers enjoy reading books that are similar to others they’ve read in the past, especially when it comes to genre; a reader who enjoys The Hunger Games might be looking for more Dystopian fiction, for example.

Although I write stories of my own, I love to read. I’m under the impression that a lot of writers also read, though I can’t say ALL writers read because I don’t know that to be true. Writers have different goals in mind when it comes to publication, but there is a select group of writers out there who enjoy writing what hasn’t been written before. I’m talking about writers who write for a select audience, an audience they also belong to.

I know it’s true that writers often write in genres they love, but what if there are writers who enjoy writing for the sake of writing, for the sake of art itself? Do these writers exist? What do we consider ART? It’s subjective, of course, but I believe I have found a publisher that specializes in art. A publisher that exists for the writers it publishes, who also happen to be the publisher’s audience.

Dynatox Ministries, I love you.

To have your work published by them you need to purchase their books; Limited-edition chapbooks written by authors who want to read what Dynatox publishes. There are authors from all over the world, including Sebastien Doubinsky, Chris Kelso, Michael Faun, and several others.

What exactly do they publish? What’s the big deal?

Their books include the work of authors who do not care about narrative, literary, or grammatical rules. Dynatox Ministries has several imprints, including a bizarro imprint (Holy Mountain Outreach), and a hardcore horror/noir crime imprint (Christbait Rehab). They publish conspiracy theory books, poetry, nunsploitation, blaxsploitation, Nazisploitation, and they’re publishing a box set dedicated to the cannibal-horror genre. Authors are paying tribute to underground subgenres of film and art that have existed for several years—Dynatox Ministries is the only place you can find these books.

Did I mention the books are limited-edition? You can pre-order the books, and they do take a little while to come out, but the wait is worth it. These books will be out of print. Dynatox is also one of the few publishers dedicated to producing actual books; while they do have an “electronic division,” their books each come numbered.

You’re missing out if you’re not reading their books, or maybe you just like to read the same thing over and

over again? That’s not a bad thing. If you want something that’s actually different, and work that is meant to be appreciated for what it is rather than how much it entertains, Dynatox has what you’re looking for. In my opinion, the best part is there is no pressure to review books once you’ve purchased them. The books are limited edition, so who cares?  I’ve left a few reviews on Goodreads for some of the books, but I prefer to just leave stars. Gold stars. Lots of gold stars.

Check out what Dynatox has to offer. They’re currently about to host a convention called Krallcon, so some of the books were published for people who donated (and you can donate to the convention by ordering the new books, hence why they are a bit more expensive).

The books are sexy. The authors are sexy, too. Especially Jason Wayne Allen and R.A. Harris. Rumor has it that Chris Kelso is sexy, too, but he lives in a fictional land that served as the backdrop for Highlander and Braveheart, so we know his home isn’t real…

Here's where you can buy their stuff. CLICK HERE

Monday, January 20, 2014


What is the title of your latest book? 

It is called Cherub and available from Bizarro Pulp Press on February 4th... in Kindle and paperback!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book started as a competition between longtime friend Kevin Moyers and myself regarding what is taboo and what is not. Both of us were used to pushing the envelope and the first chapter of the book sprung from that about eight years ago. It has taken some time, but the surrounding story, as well as the metaphor, developed around that scene.

What genre does your book fall under?

Some may call it a hardcore horror novel and others may call it trash. I’m going with good, old-fashioned crime exploitation. Hardcore Crime.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?  

Cherub- In all reality, this may need to be a CGI character. If I had my druthers, though, I would choose King Kong Bundy. At 6’5” and 500 lbs., he is what we would need physically. As a massive five-year-old, though, who knows if he could pull it off. Some of the more vile portions of the book are due solely to Cherub’s innocence.

Vena-She needs to be physically huge, too. Again, I would dip into the pro-wrestling world and go with The Amazing Kong. Race isn’t a factor here, but Vena needs to be loving, compassionate, not na├»ve (due to her horrendous back story) but capable of extreme violence. You’ll see.

Mama-Poor Mama. Giving birth to Cherub physically destroyed her. All she wants is what is best for her boy, but we can’t be trusted. He ‘plays’ very hard. She is slight, crippled and depressing. I like Dee Wallace for this.

Angie Fletcher-The quintessential ‘bad nurse,’ Angie runs the Blessed Arms mental hospital and turns it into a meth lab using the inmates as factory workers and Cherub as sex-enslaved muscle. Middle-aged, attractive and ruthless, she will do anything to maintain control of her empire. Pam Grier is my call.

Clint- Angie’s lackey, Clint is hired middle-management. She uses him just like everyone else. When given only a small amount of control, he abuses it and lives out his sick fantasies with the defenseless inmates. He is one sick puppy. Bill Mosely is my guy, here.

Leon-Is just doing his job as an orderly in the hospital, but he gets in over his head. He needs to be large (see a theme here?). I like Tiny Lister for this one.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Housed in a mental health hospital that forces the violent inmates to work in a makeshift meth lab, a mentally challenged, hulking behemoth of man they call Cherub is used by the staff to do very bad things, very bad, until the love of his life gives him a reason to stand up and do the right thing.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

I am working with Bizarro Pulp Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Good God. All told? Approximately 8 years. From concept to first draft. Now, when the actual physical process of writing started it took about eight weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There isn’t much similar, book wise, but I would probably think classic revenge tales like Old Boy, Last House on the Left or I Spit On Your Grave are similar. Like I said, this is old school exploitation. Gloves off.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The theme is about powerlessness… like most of my work. I have this need to dress it up in the most vile package possible.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Oh, I don’t know. Vile sex. Terrible acts of torture. Enslavement. Uprisings by the criminally insane. Cannibalism. More vile sex. Even more vile sex. Mind control. Meth consumption. A distinct lack of good taste. No boundaries.

Full Synopsis:

He wasn't like the other boys. Too rough. Even on the day he came out of Momma's belly. When Momma died, though, they sent him away to a terrible place. A doctor place... but the people there didn't act like doctors. They called him Cherub and they made him do awful things. Wet things. Hurty things. Until he met his angel, that is. She made it better and the pain went away.
For awhile. 
Nothing lasts forever, except a mother's love.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Greetings, dear readers. As I write this, I am currently snowed-in. I was fortunate enough today to have an opportunity to stay home, but in years past I had to drive through snowstorms in a Ford Mustang (that was my only car), and I often think about people making wise decisions while they're driving through snow. A lot of reckless drivers compound the problem. Most importantly, I think of all the people who work very long hours in the cold; people who work to make our school parking lots safe and our neighborhoods accessible. The world continues to turn because we have people who work had to make sure life is convenient and safe for everyone else. 

To begin the new year, I wanted to share some cool stuff with you. I appeared in an interview about zombie fiction with Jonathan Maberry and other prestigious authors on the Servante of Darkness blog. Click the link to check out the interview! 


I was also featured in a UK music magazine called Mass Movement; bands like Biohazard and Funeral for a Friend were interviewed, along with CJ Ramone and a writer for Doctor Who. You can download the entire magazine for free! It's full color and awesome. This isn't a cheesy little document... it's literally a magazine you can download. 


For all the zombie fans, I do want to confirm that I am hard at work on TWO zombie projects: The conclusion to the Zombie Ascension series, and the sequel to Nightmare of the Dead.

I want to leave you with some awesome covers for projects that are coming out this year. Thanks for stopping by!

Japanese Werewolf Apocalypse

First Quarter 2014 from Severed Press

Cover by Alan M. Clark

Mother, I'm Not and Android (I Promise)

Forthcoming from Dynatox Ministries

Cover by Justin T. Coons

Gravity Comics Massacre

Updated cover for a book that's currently available from Bizarro Pulp Press.

Cover by Justin T. Coons

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: DIE YOU DOUGHNUT BASTARDS by Cameron Pierce

In Die You Doughnut Bastards, amputees, lonely young people, and talking animals struggle for survival against the freakish whims of nature. A typewriter made of fetuses is the source of woe for an expecting couple. A girl with a glass jaw hides an otherworldly secret. A demonic loner goes to a birthday party in Hell. You'll encounter a killer in a marsupial mask, a prison for anorexics, haunted pancakes, and a songwriter with a cult following.


I love reading a book and deciding that I have found an author whose work I need more of RIGHT NOW, and I’m thankful they’ve written a lot more stuff. 

I think some of these stories are good enough to stand on their own, but the composition of the entire collection enhances the overall experience. There is a sense of poetic unity among the pieces, and the little illustrations between stories enhanced the sense of loneliness and longing that I felt pervaded throughout the book. There are unifying thoughts and concepts which indicate this is not a haphazard book full of an author’s stories, but rather a book that is supposed to represent a concept. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about Max Booth III’s They Might Be Demons; both authors use flash fiction in a methodical demonstration of theme and a strange progression of plot (I would argue that Pierce’s collection has something of a progressive plot); however, Pierce approaches his work with a schoolboy charm that accepts our perception of madness as nothing more than natural occurrences in thought and action. 

My biggest problem with bizarro is that a lot of stories seem to include a bunch of random things that just “happen”, and while that’s usually okay, it sometimes just feels, well, random and contrived. Pierce makes bizarro work as a contextual element; he has infused his stories with a sense of heart and humanity that reflect the poetic elements that seem to either answer questions or provide new ones, with a sense of finality. Pierce did not include random elements, nor did he just throw things into his stories to give readers “more weird” because the book is “bizarro.” I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I wanted to see how Pierce would continue to use his collection as a vehicle for discussing similar themes, but with different symbols and characters. By the time I finished the book, I felt deprived of an awesome discussion that compares Alien to The Metamorphosis. I hope Pierce wrote an essay on it somewhere. But this deprivation is similar to the deprivation the characters felt; I wanted Pierce to give me something his characters wanted, something absolute and definite that I can take with me forever, but Pierce didn’t surrender. He remained consistent. 

The opening story demonstrates everything you will discover in the book, which makes me think the design is intentional; or I’m just over-analyzing Pierce’s work. Food and animal references, in addition to that Zen-like observation on loneliness are threads that are woven throughout the entire book, which concludes with enough of a connection to the whole damn thing to make me believe Pierce really meant to design this collection as an isolationist wonderland. I will never forget “Lantern Jaws,” or “Mitchell Farnsworth.” “Disappear” also happened to be a favorite of mine, thought that’s because I dislike Stephen King so much. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Gutmouth

He has a mouth in his gut. An obnoxious, toothy, foul-mouthed, pig of a mouth. Luckily, his girlfriend doesn't seem to mind. Marie, the one-legged stripper and cyber-prostitute love of his life is very accepting of it. And then a little too accepting. What would you do if your girlfriend cheated on you with the voracious yapper under your belly button? If you live in Gutmouth's world-a bleak city where gruesome, spontaneous mutations are no big deal, klepto-roaches take anything not tied-down, drugs turn pain into pleasure, consumers are tortured for growing food, and your best friend is a misogynistic rat-man-you might do something crazy. And what if you got caught?


A body horror story asks readers to become hyper-aware of their flesh; we must become attuned to a variety of sensations that will make us feel uncomfortable and disgusting. Combine this philosophy with bizarro sensibilities and a Dystopian setting, and we have the ingredients of a book that languishes in the dismembered, reorganized, and reimagined structure of a human body. Iglesias gives us the consumer-Dystopian nightmare with a population that is obsessed with consuming itself; the body is nothing more than an object that can cause pleasure or pain, a means to an end.

The setting is hardly unreal to our characters, and the presence of a mouth inside the protagonist’s stomach is more inconvenient than horrifying. Here is where Iglesias manages to infuse an original idea into a variety of tropes; what is uncomfortable and appalling to us is nothing more than a way of life. 

Gutmouth’s greatest strength is its relevance. Advertisements for breast augmentation and other surgical enhancements have become acceptable properties of our culture. “Look what my husband bought us/me for Christmas!” a woman might say to her guests while showing them a new pair of boobs. These transformations offer us new opportunities to experience pleasure and pain; we can become young again, perhaps even immortal, if we can purchase new parts as easily as we can order fetishist pornography. 

Theme is irrelevant if the story itself is terrible, but I didn’t care about the characters, because they felt like helpless extensions of the world they lived in. Iglesias has a writing style that is very strong for a new writer; the synonym-adjective storms that made up entire paragraphs were both satirical and vicious. Individual paragraphs became heavy metal lyrics that describe an awful world that everyone has accepted with little complaint. 

The “lack of control” and fetishist tendencies displayed by our inseparable characters provides humor and revulsion; this book is not for the faint. Dismemberment and disfigurement are just as normal as a cement driveway. 

If body horror/bizarro/Dystopian/speculative fiction genres are remotely interesting to you, a combination of them are rolled into one beast that has four arms and six legs, until they’re removed and replaced with mouths or eyes. I’ve interpreted this as a bizarro satire, although this story may just be about a man who has a mouth inside of his gut. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Zombie Gore Manifesto

Zombies are not desperate actors with hours of makeup applied to their faces and bodies. Zombies are not the creatures who run at you from across the television screen while your XBOX internet connection suddenly shorts out during a thunderstorm and you abandon your fellow survivors to the mercy of those creatures that are not zombies. Zombies are not a composite of seven million animated creatures climbing over a wall to get at Brad Pitt’s abs. Zombies are not shouting “trick or treat” outside your door. Zombies do not organize parades and march down the streets of major metropolitan cities. The word “zombie” is not a metaphor or an adjective.

We are surrounded by brick and grafitti, the tombstones
epitaphs of prophets, red and yellow cursive
shapes the cool air, autumnal, worthy of killing trees
freezing earth, fingers
can soften the ground from which nothing will grow
for months. Feet drag shapes across 
sodden hills, the sun is vain
vines vomited upon the brick
tree branches spilling from shattered windows

Zombies are not sleeping beneath the ground.

Hundreds of people want to gather for the convention,
but they don’t know what they want
they don’t know why they walk
they don’t know
cold brick from leaf piles
Latin from Martian
they want to gather for the convention
pushing into each other, oozing through the cracks 
that border rifts of space.

Zombies do not feel inclined to run. Zombies do not feel inclined to feel inclined. Zombies do not incline. Zombies are not hungry.

Their feet slap the pavement
boots scuff
cement has been ruined by this crowd
weeds growing through cracks are trampled
if only we could escape from the brick 
into the sky
glass has fallen like snow upon this plane

Zombies do not make a sound when they plunge their fingernails into your eye sockets and peel back the flesh to expose what lies beneath the skull. Zombies do not moan or dream. Zombies do not plan to attack someone, and they have no desire to run, for they do not desire. They do not want.

The smell of a thousand garbage dumps rotting
a legion of flies has perished
the worms have starved themselves
the smell of vomit and feces in the sun
the smell of a thousand things 

Zombies do not taste when their teeth scratch across your flesh like the needle on a record player, grazing the surface and making an impression upon the object. Zombies do not acknowledge the blood that fills their mouths, nor do they stop to wipe their hands on their pants. Zombies cannot remember the names of dead presidents.

Colorless renditions of Van Gogh discoloration
gray and black and green
black and black and rot
fingernails curling over shriveling fingertips
these are the knifes that won’t let go
toothless gums in askew jaws

Zombies do not suffer pain when their jaws break upon your skull. Zombies do not stop rending your flesh when their mouths fail to encapsulate enough flesh to stuff their cheeks. Zombies do not carry sticks or learn how to talk on the phone.

Spiders roam over their skulls
leathery ropes once intestines
horror tropes once invested
sound like a rake combing the beach
dead worms dangling from open stomachs
leaking the blood and chunks
undigested man
undigested child
this is the waste they have left

Zombies do not die for they are already dead. Zombies do not eat because they are hungry. Zombies do not hunger for they are no longer aware. Zombies do not exist because they cannot acknowledge themselves. Zombies do not exist because there is nobody to acknowledge them.

“I think therefore I am”
We are enclosed in red brick
They have brought us the truth
and it is violence
icy conception of flesh and bone
the concrete is the color of blood
the caves of the first man were the color of blood
they were always here
pulling faces backward, inside out
swollen tongues expunged
carrying feces in their back pockets
a thousand variations of blank
and blue

Zombies do not care about the blood on their fingers. Zombies do not notice the rain or the snow. Zombies do not step back from flame. Zombies do not have a purpose. Zombies do not exist because they cannot be seen. Zombies do not exist because they have already ripped our hearts from our chests and shoved them down their throats, beating against thorax and vein. Zombies do not vomit your eyes into the sewers. Zombies do not know you have a name. Zombies do not have names.

This is the sewer where the rats
give praise to plague
shadows fade to gray
there is nothing here to eat
a button with a smiling monkey face
floats down the turgid river
but this we cannot see
for we are not here.