Bit by Bloody Bit: CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? edited by Lincoln Crisler – Part 5

Last week I wasn’t completely honest with y’all. Although Part 4 of the Bit by Bloody Bit Corrupts Absolutely? edition was titled “The Final Chapter,” there are actually a couple more stories to go before we wrap this up. I hope you can find it in your horror lovin’ hearts to forgive me.

This time it really is the end *tear*

The second to last story in this dark metahuman collection is “Gone Rogue” by Wayne Helge. This yarn is about how one sidekick finds his arch-nemesis and has one of my favorite endings among the 21 stories in this anthology. Z-pack is the trusted sidekick to the city’s hero Zooster, but when Z-pack has to step up to fight villain The Midshipman alone he proves to be more than capable. From then on, Zooster leaves the fighting to Z-pack so he can spend his time wooing the Athena sisters. That doesn’t mean he lets Z-pack take the credit for keeping the city safe, oh no. Z-pack does the dirty work and Zooster is there to take the credit giving interviews and smiling for newspaper photos. So where does that leave Z-pack? You’ll have to read to find out. “Gone Rogue” is one of the funnier stories in the bunch, mostly due to the hilarious punch line ending. Helge has a dark sense of humor that I think any reader will be able to appreciate. Short, sweet, to the point, and an ending that made me giggle out loud. “Gone Rogue” is a winner.

Corrupts Absolutely? ends on a bit of a sad note with Andrew Bourelle’s “Max and Rose.” While it’s not revealed explicitly how, Max has recently acquired superpowers and continues to get stronger. He has physical and mental strength, even able to control people with his mind. He hopes he can fly soon. Bourelle’s short gets at the heart of what Corrupts is all about. Max has newfound abilities, but he is not compelled to use them for good. He’s not stopping muggers from attacking innocent old ladies or disrupting bank heists. Instead Max is mind controlling women to have sex with him, using it to gain riches, and when this story opens he is manipulating the maître d’ of a fancy hotel restaurant to give him and Rose the best seat in the house. This may not sound so bad, but could this be how supervillains are born? Rose seems to think so and suddenly at this dinner at the fancy hotel, she has that epiphany which has recently been building. Everyone knows a true villain can’t find true love. In fact, it’s usually the loss of love that finally turns them completely to the dark side. Bourelle’s “Max and Rose” is the story of their relationship coming to an end, but in typical Corrupts fashion it is with a dramatic finale. This is a heartbreaking love story, the prologue to what could be a great supervillain’s tale and one of my favorites in the entire collection.

Corrupts Absolutely? opened strong, with Tim Marquitz’ “Retribution,” and ended with the equally strong “Max and Rose” by Andrew Bourelle. While there were a couple stories that I didn’t connect with as much as others, Corrupts represents a diverse group of dark metahuman fiction from a host of talented writers, rookie and veteran alike.

I was immediately intrigued when I first heard the concept for Corrupts Absolutely?. The collection quickly exceeded my expectations and what I thought would be an anthology of fun, lighthearted stories about evil supervillains turned out to be deep and often very personal. Childhood abuse, rejection from society, greed, power hunger, political corruption are all flavors offered in this anthology. A person corrupted by extraordinary ability is the perfect backdrop for some delectable mayhem, but Corrupts offers much more. While it’s impossible for every story to be a homerun for all readers, I think you will find that there are more RBIs than strikes. Did I say that right? My husband is making me watch a lot of baseball this summer. Thought I would throw that analogy out there.

If you’re like me, you will pick up this anthology because it has an interesting concept but after a few stories find that you were missing this type of superhero prose all along.

For a diverse collection of stories with a blistering pace, heavy action, and a lot of heart pick up Corrupts Absolutely? at Damnation Books or Amazon.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Bit by Bloody Bit: CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? edited by Lincoln Crisler – Part 4: The Final Chapter

We are nearing the home stretch of the Bit by Bloody Bit Corrupts Absolutely? edition. This is the Final Chapter where we wrap up the closing stories in the dark metahuman fiction collection. Unlike the Friday the 13th entry by the same name, editor Lincoln Crisler will not come back from the grave to torment you and other mentally unstable residents of a backwoods halfway house. Not yet anyway.

I think Crisler’s team of author-heroes have almost exhausted every possible angle to dark metahuman fiction. While some of the superheroes featured in these stories are inherently corrupt by their own evil, others are puppets of the government, and others still are driven to corruption from the pain and anger of abuse and exploitation. Until now, the majority of the stories in this collection highlight the human element in metahuman, tugging on the heartstrings of the readers as we are offered a glimpse into the psyche of man and woman burdened with superpower.

This anthology closes with a healthy mix of metahuman tales, but many of the stories celebrate the Tony Stark and Bruce Waynes of superherodom. They are powerful corporate moguls for whom monetary influence isn’t enough. Or in other cases, they use their endless funds to control the superhero game, rigging a system to work in their favor, and never for the little guys.

We finally get some much needed female sex appeal in Anthony Laffan’s “Sabre” which features a powerful, seductive protagonist Leandra Shields, a.k.a. superhero Sabre. Katy Pierce, a journalist with The Informer, is determined to prove there is a connection between Sabre and Miss Shield’s company Aegis Inc. “Sabre” is one of the shorter shorts in this collection and more of the beginning of a story than a complete tale, but with an undeniably sexy edge that will leave the reader wiping drool from their mouth. I run the risk of revealing too much by saying more since this is a very brief story, but the heavy eroticism, while understated, was a welcomed surprise.

While the first two stories in this section have a bit of fun with the traditional superhero mythos, Lee Mather’s “Crooked” is a dark and violent drama. When we meet up with Leon Light, a.k.a. Lightfingers, he is making his way to Dale Howard’s place, though at the time we’re not sure why, then he heads over to his former girl Willa’s place. When he gets there Willa is missing along with their kid. Leon Lightfingers has been on the run from Jimmy Delvita, the Mouth of Truth, after taking his money for sixteen years, but his past has finally caught up with him. The history between Leon and Jimmy is deep. He took Leon in when he was just a kid, starting him in his burglary racket. All the sordid details play out from the time Leon is picked up by one of Jimmy’s henchman at Willa’s to the blistering finale at Jimmy’s headquarters. “Crooked” is one of the few stories in this collection with strong horror elements. Both Jimmy and Leon have acquired their power in tragic accidents. The former proudly displays a scar across his stomach known as the Mouth of Truth which mimics Jimmy’s emotion in its varying forms. And the latter can control objects with his mind, the result of a crippling beat down, and subsequent stroke, by his father. Only one can survive this final standoff. Vicious and cruel, “Crooked” is a heartbreaking story with a satisfying twist.

We get back into the mechanical gadgetry of superheroes with Trisha J. Wooldridge’s “Fixed.” Victoria Chattham works for a real asshole of a boss – excuse my language – Broderick. Despite her over qualifications in engineering, she’s treated like a glorified secretary. She also sports a prototype prosthetic arm, a project in which she was lead engineer. This bionic arm becomes the focal point of the story. Broderick needs her expertise to make an entire suit of the same caliber. This may sound a lot like Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit, but this story isn’t about the suit or Broderick, it’s about Victoria breaking free from his corrupt power and taking back what is rightfully hers. But that requires hard work and late hours, both threatening to breakup her already fragile marriage with Bill, a serious hothead. Wooldridge reveals the volatile relationship between Victoria and Bill tactfully and the tension between them is palpable. The only trouble was I wasn’t particularly interested in them making it work. As I mentioned, Bill is a hothead, but not just a little irrational, he is at times violent and often whiny. I feel like I may have missed an integral point to what drives this relationship, besides their children. Victoria was relatable though. She’s obviously strong and highly intelligent, but marginalized for more than just her disability – she’s a Hispanic female in a predominantly male field. A minor downside for me, though, was a majority of the scenes were focused on the mechanics of the project Victoria is working on with heavy mechanical speak that went right over my head. This made it difficult for me to stay engaged. At the same time, that’s the point of the story! I suspect that fans who dabble in straight sci-fi, or fans that are less superficial than myself, won’t have that complaint. Don’t get me wrong, I like straight sci-fi too, but I struggle with too much technobabble.

Next up is a piece from a writer with a name worthy of only a tried and true badass, Cat Rambo and her short “Acquainted with the Night.” She has either the coolest name or pen name in the history of names. “Acquainted with the Night” is heavy on the supernatural elements focusing on a group of superheroes, the Weather Team, that enjoy a bit of pleasure with their work, in particular our protagonist Captain Hurricane. Unfortunately, Captain Hurricane can’t have the love he truly pines for, an alien from beyond Betelgeuse named Waterlily Elegance. “When she returned home to engage in the mating ritual that would lead to her explosion in a rain of seeds,” Captain Hurricane finds himself in the arms of Sunshine Princess. He can’t shake his infatuation for Waterlily Elegance and Sunshine Princess’ affection only fuels his anger and depression further. Too bad his convienent lay bears real fruit and Sunshine Princess reveals that she is with child. This is much like a fantasy-fueled Jerry Springer episode in its dramaticism, but despite this Rambo makes the whole tragedy play out in beautiful prose. All this culminates in a gut-wrenching conclusion that will turn any reader’s stomach. “Acquainted with the Night” has very light and dreamy prose, but seriously dark subject matter. Bravo to Cat Rambo for offering up a piece that lives up to the soft / hard dichotamy of her name.

That wraps up this edition of Bit by Bloody Bit. Remember when I said there would be no ressurection? OK, I lied. I know this isn’t the way to foster healthy relationships, but I promise this is the last time 😉

I’ll be back next week with the final two stories in this collection and the wrap-up!

Don’t wait for the conclusion to get your copy, you can pick up Corrupts Absolutely? at Damnation Books or Amazon.

Stop back next week for the real finale of Bit by Bloody Bit Corrupts Absolutely? edition!

Bit by Bloody Bit: CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? edited by Lincoln Crisler – Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of Bit by Bloody Bit, Corrupts Absolutely? edition. Corrupts is anthology featuring dark metahuman fiction, the perfect collection for horror fans with a taste for superhero prose or lovers of hero tales who enjoy a bit of corruption with a horror flavor. This medley of stories has a common theme–fiction about people with superpowers–but covers a range of scenarios which bring into question what real life human beings, people with vulnerabilities and flaws, would really do if they had superhuman strength or advanced mental capabilities.

The first installment from this collection featured some downright nasty, sadistic, and purely evil individuals using their power to inflict pain and suffering on the innocent, but this next round of 5 stories goes in a slightly different direction. Now we explore the gray area of vigilante justice, or the misguided hero. Some of the superheroes (?) featured in these stories have all the best of intentions, but human weakness has a tendency to corrupt their cause, hence the question mark in the title of the anthology. Are these people really corrupt? Or are they doing what is best for mankind? Is an eye for an eye real justice? Is man (or woman) meant to play God?

These are all questions provoked in this 2nd quarter of Corrupts Absolutely?

Out of the five stories in this installment of Bit by Bloody Bit, Jason M. Tucker’s “Enlightened by Sin” is the closest to being a straight superhero vs. supervillain story. Victor Ives is a reporter for the Angel City Beat by day, moonlighting as a superhero, cleansing the city of scum, by night. While this scenario may remind you of Clark Kent or Peter Parker, Victor ain’t no Superman or Spider-Man. As readers will quickly realize reading this anthology, this is a fantasy world but considers a very real darkness in our human character. For such a brief story, Tucker is able to provide a lay of the land in Angel City without being cumbersome with his words for the set-up. There is complicated web of Aberrants, corrupt politics, and vigilante justice at play in this tale, but all the detail develops naturally without overwhelming the reader. Victor Ives has a mantra he likes to repeat before doling out justice; “I know the bad things you’ve done. I know the horrible things you are going to do. Your fear betrays you. I can smell the blackness on your soul and I see your inhumanity flash in my mind’s eye. You can’t hide your corruption. No one can. And that’s why you have to die.” Even though Victor starts out with his heart in the right place, there is a tricky side to power; you could “be a dark god or a shining hero.” And Victor can’t be too sure where he will fall.

The next story was the main reason I picked up this collection. I am a fan of Lincoln Crisler and our tastes are aligned when it comes to horror fiction, so I knew I would be in good hands with him as editor, but the inclusion of a Jeff Strand title made this a no-brainer. As fans have come to expect from Strand, and the title suggests, his short “The Origin of Slashy” is thick with inky black humor. The subject matter is serious, but Strand is a master of horror-comedy, so even though the content is centered on brutal reality he elicits chuckles without being inappropriate or offensive. “Kaylie was raped.” That’s how his story begins. After this tragic incident, thinking she can’t live with the horror of the violation, she attempts suicide, but discovers instead that she has self-healing powers. This discovery gives her a renewed sense of purpose and an uncontrollable urge for vengeance. Like the protagonist in Tim Marquitz’ “Retribution,” Strand’s Kaylie offers a grim perspective on misguided vengeance considering circumstances in which there is no clear target for retribution. Good and evil may be black & white in the superhero world, but in Corrupts Absolutely? there are various shades of gray that exist in between.

Following that, we meet poor young Punkinhead Abassi. He lives in a rough area, is tormented by the GDs that run the streets, and haunted by the death of his drug addicted sister Lateesa. Edward M. Erdelac’s “Conviction” opens as counselor Daniela Orozco tries delicately to get the emotionally fragile Abassi to open up about his problems. His drawings indicate a strong artistic talent but also a potentially dangerous mental disorder. Of course, it is the non-stop abuses of all those around him dragging him down to this depressed state. Miss Orozco encourages Abassi to draw what he wants to see in the world, the world he wants to live in. Like the titular Carrie in Stephen King’s classic novel, Abassi channels his talents to work to his advantage and I don’t think there is a reader who won’t be cheering him on. Compared to Strand’s story which precedes it, Erdelac’s tale has a decidedly serious and heartbreaking tone, but that is the beauty of this collection. The imperfections in man that guide their choices upon the acquisition of superhuman power are complicated and vast. While some men are driven by greed, others are driven by pain and loss.

In “Threshold” by Kris Ashton, we continue to explore the cruel fate that comes into play, even for a superhero driven to use his power for good. Told in the first-person, our narrator explains his special skill. He can read the deepest and most vile acts of man and woman. Unfortunately his talent comes with the crippling migraine that can only be cured when he ends their life. He never knows when the pain will strike or who will be the target, or even what causes the unbearable episodes. He only knows what they did to cause his agony and what he must do to stop the pain. His next mission hits too close to home and our narrator must make a decision. “Which of us has to die?” Even if you’re driven toward good, in the world of Corrupts the life of a superhero can never be that simple, or that black and white. Ashton builds the suspense in his story impeccably and elicits sympathy for his narrator effortlessly. Those two elements facilitate an ending that is both shocking and heartbreaking.

The last story in this section of the book, “Oily” by A.D. Spencer, highlights the dangers of human error in vigilante justice. Jim and his daughter Cin are a team. Jim crafts a special marble, oily, each time he gives Cin an assignment. She must then figure out what the mission is by perusing the papers for suspects. Once Cin has her target she becomes Cat’s Eye, manipulating the gifted oily with unlimited ease, doling out justice and freeing the streets of scumbags one marble at a time. Cin suspects her latest mark of murder, but is this a clear cut case of “eye for an eye?” Spencer’s story stays on track with this group of stories illustrating how the good guy can inadvertently do bad. Cin finds out that it’ll take more than a hunch and an oily to do the right thing. Even if this a test to evaluate her ability to make a fair judgment, does that mean she will always be equipped to make the right decision?

All the stories in this section of Corrupts Absolutely? were consistently entertaining and perhaps contained the most sympathetic characters in the collection. Instead of the corruption, greed, power-hungry metahumans of the first section, these people want (or are driven by outside forces) to use their powers for a positive end. But unfortunately, good intentions are never enough. Each story had its own unique charm and were all memorable.

You can pick up Corrupts Absolutely? at Damnation Books or Amazon.

Stop back next week for part 3 of Bit by Bloody Bit!

Part 3
Part 4

Bit by Bloody Bit: CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? edited by Lincoln Crisler – Part 1

I originally came up with the idea for Bit by Bloody Bit when I took on Stephen King’s masterpiece IT. That book was too epic, too immense to cover in one sitting, so I broke it up and reviewed it in parts. I got to thinking this would be the perfect review format for not only the larger-than-life novels breaking the 1,000 page mark, but in particular anthologies.

Even if every story in a collection isn’t exceptional, it feels wrong to leave anyone out, so usually I don’t. That can be a bit daunting for readers who want to sit down to read a quick review, so I decided to apply the Bit by Bloody Bit technique to the superhero anthology Corrupts Absolutely? edited by Lincoln Crisler and out from Damnation Books.

We can find superheroes in movies and comic books, but it’s not often you come across superhero prose. This is a unique collection of short stories that editor Lincoln Crisler has good reason to gush over and horror fiction fans with a taste for superhero tales can geek out over too.

These aren’t your run of the mill superhero stories. With a variety of authors, including horror veterans alongside fresh faces, each contributor asks what would someone really do if they had superpowers in what Crisler has dubbed dark metahuman fiction. Crisler and his legion of author-heroes offer stories where the reader can enjoy a bit of escapism, but also explore the possibilities that come with infinite power. You might even learn a (bloody) bit about yourself too.

Without further adieu, this is part 1 of Bit by Bloody Bit, the first five stories from Corrupts Absolutely? Squeeze into that fitted body suit and pull on your matching pleather boots, it’s time to get Super!

The opener, “Retribution” by Tim Marquitz, is exactly the type of real world scenario I imagine when I think of average human beings, flawed and vulnerable, being bestowed with superpowers. In this case, our protagonist lost almost everything with the death of his wife and son in the tragedies of 9/11. “Once all the tears had dried and the empty words of comfort had soured on sorry tongues, there was still my fury.” This broken man signs up to fight against the bastards who stole his family from him asking for only “a gun and a one way ticket to the desert.” But they gave him more than ammunition; the ability to explode and regenerate. They made him a human bomb and therein lies the problem. His insatiable vengeance turns him into the same villain he hates, killing with impunity, guilty or innocent. This is the ideal story to open the anthology, generating thought-provoking inner dialogue for the reader as they consider their own potential reaction in this situation and also including the main element of superpower for the character. This story tows a more predictable line establishing the common thread that will run throughout Corrupts but the story is no less interesting because of it. Marquitz offers exquisite prose that shows a beautiful and poetic side to blowing yourself up.

The next story, “Hollywood Villainy” by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Weston Ochse, was my favorite in this block of stories and ultimately the entire collection. A fifteen year old Chinese boy born Valiant Fang (pretty cool, huh?) hasn’t aged a day since 1937 and now he tools around Hollywood on his old bicycle making a real mess of the world, destroying lives by utilizing his mind-reading powers. Valiant Fang, a.k.a. The Yellow Shadow, didn’t start out that way. In fact, when he discovered his mind-reading ability, he set out to be a hero like the ones all kids admire. Unfortunately, he “soon learned that no one liked a little Chinese kid superhero.” And that’s the hook to “Hollywood Villainy.” Despite being an evil lil’ bastard, you feel sorry for the kid and even root for him while he enacts his horrible, life crushing deeds, and laugh along to all his silly jokes. For a mind-reading boy who doesn’t age the world has endless possibilities and your worst nightmare is his playground. The Shadow explains that while there are three types of heroes, there is only one type of villain. “No matter the power, no matter the ability, no matter the technology, the single factor that decides if someone is a villain or not is their desire to do evil.” “Hollywood Villainy” is a suspenseful dark comedy with a disturbed but ultimately likable narrator. You kinda feel bad cheering him on, but it’s hard not to. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man? The Shadow knows.

On the surface, it seems William Todd Rose’s “Mental Man” strays a bit from the theme than the first two, but it turns out this is just a more unconventional way to explore the main premise of Corrupts. Instead of a protagonist with enough power to go to his head, our narrator Rob is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder and a taste for downers. He deals with all this while trying to make a name for himself in the detective game utilizing his unique skill; he can see into another person’s past. Ron, known appropriately as Mental Man by his associates, is working on the case of The Suburb Slayer, but struggling to identify the killer in his flashbacks. Instead of a feeling a defeat at not catching The Suburb Slayer, this killer becomes Mental Man’s arch enemy and purpose for living. Like the first two entries, this short is told from first person perspective giving the reader direct access into the mind of the desperate Rob. Rose skillfully builds the suspense in a short amount of time, letting it linger but careful not to reveal any important clues early on so the twist ending has the most impact. “Mental Man” is a murder mystery / detective story that reads like an old noir tale turned on its ear. Rob isn’t your typical gumshoe detective and the plot has a unique spin, but his dialogue has a classic noir flavor at times. “I want this fucker so bad I can taste it. He haunts my dreams, a faceless shadow dancing on graves that bulge as if they’re about to explode with the expanding gasses of the corpse below. His laughter echoes through the corridors of my mind, mocking me with haughty arrogance as I stumble about in the darkness like a blind man.” With an interesting premise that kept me guessing until the very end, this story fits easily into my top five.

Owen McKinney discovers the ability to heal in “The Real Church” by Jeremy Helper. After lobbing a fatal baseball at the neighbor’s dog in anger, Owen is immediately filled regret. He places his hands on the limp dog while praying to Jesus to bring him back to life and surprisingly it works. Like the other stories, “The Real Church” is also told from first person perspective following twelve year old Owen when he discovers his talent to the moment he and his mom, dissatisfied with what she called Greedy Commercial Churches, open the titular The Real Church and through to present day. While the first two stories feature characters that become corrupt by some outside force of evil or wrong-doing, Owen uses his power to attract more members to worship at The Real Church. Not every person bestowed with superpowers dons a cap and tights. “The Real Church” offers another bent to the darkside of exceptional skill if it was in the hands of a boy desperate to make his religious mother proud. The last three stories maintain the central theme of Corrupts — what would a person really do if they discovered they had a superpower —  but are still wildly different. “The Real Church” also offers another fresh idea for this anthology that may not immediately spring to readers, but fits perfectly with the theme nonetheless.

Unlike “The Real Church,” “Ozymandia Revisited” by A.S. Fox features the kind of dilemma I would expect from a flawed human who acquires superpowers. The story reminded me in a way of the predicament celebrities and star athletes might find themselves in when they become larger than life. If you can have anything you want and do anything you want, how do you get your kicks? Can you resist the temptation to abuse your status? Doesn’t the sky’s-the-limit lifestyle get boring when there’s no door your restricted from opening? Our narrator, who calls himself Ozymandia a.k.a. Oz, discovers firsthand how his greed for ultimate power is actually a curse. “Ever wonder what Hell looks like? It looks like a suburban Thursday night, where you can score as much coke, meth, girls and danger as your body can endure and come away unscathed.” For Oz, this is a curse he brought on himself. Unlike The Yellow Shadow, Ron the Mental Man, or Owen the healer, Oz went looking for the ultimate power completely blind to the consequences. Oz has a bitter and biting humor, but a cocky disposition that isn’t likable. Oz and The Yellow Shadow of Ochse’s “Hollywood Villainy” are both inherently evil, laughing in the face of other’s pain, but Oz’ evil acts aren’t near as elaborately calculated as The Yellow Shadow from Ochse’s “Hollywood Villainy.” Oz is looking for instant gratification, trying to satiate a taste that in a world where anything goes will never be satisfied. This results in a The Twilight Zone type groundhog day effect that any horror fiction fan can appreciate.

The first five stories in Corrupts Absolutely? set the reader up for a variety of tales all with that one continuous thread; what corruption would be born from a person with superpower. There is tragic drama, black comedy, a suspenseful murder mystery, and more horrific entries signaling the start of a diverse anthology. The authors that open this collection have fresh ideas and sick imaginations giving their following contributors much to live up to.

You can pick up Corrupts Absolutely? from Damnation Books or Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.

Come back next week for Part 2 of Bit by Bloody Bit: Corrupts Absolutely? edition.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Dreadfully Anticipated 2012

Dear Dreadful readers, we have a great 2012 ahead of us because there a frightful number of horror titles clawing there way to your bookshelves and e-readers this year. While our film-obsessed horror brothers and sisters discuss the state of dismal box office turnout and the exhaustive onslaught of remakes, reimaginings, and reboots, we’ll be celebrating the hard work and dedicated efforts of some of the best in genre literature as well as meeting some fresh faces to the scene. Every year seems to get better as my to-read list climbs to new heights and the outlook for 2012 is no different. Here is a list of the releases we are dreadfully anticipating this year, in no particular order.

The unfolding of Monica S. Kuebler’s online YA vampire series Bleeder

We’ve mentioned Bleeder a few times now, but it is timely to give it another shout because Chapter 2 just went live yesterday! If you haven’t been reading along, go back and check out the first two chapters in the series and buckle in for the exciting saga of Mildred “Mills” Millhatten as her life is turned upside down by a long dormant family secret. Monica S. Kuebler calls Bleeder “pitch-black urban fantasy/horror crossbreed” for teens, but I can assure you this will be enjoyed by adult readers too. A new chapter will go live every Sunday, so mark your calendars! Visit the Bleeder website here.

Jeff Strand’s Faint Of Heart (February 2012)

Jeff Strand just made an announcement this past Thursday about his upcoming novel Faint Of Heart via his website, Gleefully Macabre, with a very simple but enticing teaser followed by a peek at the cover:

Some of you prefer my funny stuff.

Some of you prefer the more serious stuff.

For those of you in the latter category, on February 1st there’s…

We are huge Jeff Strand fans here at Dreadful Tales. Hell, I even got dressed up like the guy and went strutting around town because I admire him so much! I like the funny, I like the serious, I’m just happy when he’s releasing new work! Faint Of Heart is due out February 1st, so keep your eyes peeled on Strand’s Facebook page and website for the deets.

The Hunger Artist by Lisa Mannetti (TBD)

Lisa Mannetti just announced via Facebook a few hours ago, at the time of writing this, that she is starting her next novel, tentatively titled The Hunger Artist, so I can’t say for certain that is will be published in 2012. Regardless, I am as pleased as punch to hear there is a new book on the horizon from this Bram Stoker Award-winning talent. I have no synopsis to tease you with or cover art to entice your eyeballs, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted as information becomes available. In the meantime, you can stalk her Facebook page and visit her website to stay abreast (stop giggling, Colum!) of everything Mannetti.

Everything Greg Lamberson is releasing! (April 2012, June 2012, October 2012)

Greg Lamberson has at least three books coming out in 2012! Yes, you read that right, three! And he may even have some super top secret book that he’ll squeeze in before year end as well, but we’ll have to wait and see.

First up from Lamberson is his zombie road novella, Carnage Road, out from Creeping Hemlock Press’ zombie line, Print Is Dead, in April. I scanned the aged wall postings of my Facebook to find the original blurb Lamberson used to describe this novella, but without success. If memory serves me right, he said it’s “Dawn of the Dead meets Easy Rider.” If that doesn’t sell you, read Colum’s glowing review that just went live yesterday. Lamberson also put together a book trailer where he puts that filmmaking experience to good use! Carnage Road is due out April 3rd, 2012, which is also my birthday, so plug that one in your calendar! Creeping Hemlock Press has an obvious eye for talent and they’re quickly becoming my favorite indie press, so stop by their their website to see the other horror titles they offer.

Second on the agenda is the long-awaited follow-up to Lamberson’s werewolf novel The Frenzy Way, The Frenzy War. Already available for pre-order, The Frenzy War is due out in June 2012 from Medallion Press. It’s been almost two years since we left our hero, Detective Tony Mace, and I am anxious to catch back up with this hunka hunka burnin’ love fearless protector of humanity. Tony, if you’re reading this, call me!

And finally, the third book Lamberson will release this year is the fourth installment in the action / horror mashup, The Jake Helman Files series, Tortured Spirits, due out in October 2012 also from Medallion Press. This is a truly epic series with a badass paranormal detective, Jake Helman, and a whole host of monsters. If you haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, make it your top priority! Otherwise, Detective Helman might come kick you right in the groin! Find out more about the fourth book here.

House of Skin by Jonathan Janz (Summer 2012)

I just recently finished Jonathan Janz’ first title published by Samhain Publishing, The Sorrows, and it really blew me away. I will be posting a proper review soon, so I won’t elaborate too much here now, but I will say all you children of Laymon out there will be pleased. The Sorrows is a turbo-charged, erotic horror that has passages to make the roughest biker dude blush and maybe even warm his heart! Samhain will publish his sophomore effort, House of Skin, this summer and I can’t wait to see what other sick and twisted monsters Janz will unleash upon the reading community. Read more about House of Skin and browse around Janz’ site here.

Corrupts Absolutely? anthology edited by Lincoln Crisler (March 2012)

Corrupts Absolutely? asks its readers what would happen if people had superpowers. People including the mentally unstable, social outcasts, and the regretful and bitter. Featuring work by genre favorites like Jeff Strand, Joe McKinney, Weston Ochse, and a dozen more, this anthology will undoubtedly be on everyone’s wish list this year, if it isn’t already. Corrupts Absolutely? will be available from Damnation Books March 2012.

Zombies vs Robots: This Means War, edited by Jeff Conner (April 2012)

Here is another title being released on my birthday! I don’t know who sent the memo to the publishing world, but THANK YOU! Zombies vs Robots: This Means War takes IDW’s comic book series, created by writer Chris Ryall and artist Ashley Wood, and promises it “expands it in ways that will redefine both zombie and robot fiction.” While I’m not familiar with the original series, I like a good comic and the lineup for this collection is promising which makes it worthy of an instant self-gift for my day of birth! Great concept, talented contributors, and a pretty badass cover too. You can preorder ZVR: This Means War, due out April 3rd, 2012, now at Amazon for a slight discount.

Wild 2 by Lincoln Crisler (September 2012)

Lincoln Crisler is gonna be a busy bee this year, buzzin’ all over the genre scene. Not only is he involved in the two projects mentioned above, but he’ll also be releasing the sequel to his weird western zombie novella Wild with Wild 2. There’s no cover art available to tease you with just yet because the book won’t be out until September 2012 (apparently he didn’t get the memo that all releases are due on my birthday!), but here is a peek at what to expect from the second entry.

While escorting Henry Waters to his new beginning at a Massachusetts prep school, Matthias and Juan uncover the reason for the school’s headmaster’s mysterious disappearance. Less cowboy. More questions.

Release of the film adaptation of Elizabeth Massie’s short story Abed (Spring 2012)

Abed, short story by two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie, has been called one of the most disturbing horror stories ever written. Now, the director adapting the short story for film, award-winning writer/director Ryan Lieske, has his sights set on making it the most disturbing zombie film of 2012. Until just last night, literally right before I went to bed, I hadn’t read Abed, but being a Massie fan I was still excited to learn that one of her stories would be adapted for film. Now that I have finished Abed, I can say undoubtedly that the short is one of the most disturbing stories I have ever read and I am very curious to see how this evolves from the page to celluloid. You can pick up a digital copy for just $0.99, so you should do that right now! And just wait until you find out what “abed” means. Production for this project is in full swing and due out in my most anticipated season of the year, spring 2012! Like Abed on Facebook and keep up with one of the hardest working writers in this gory game on Massie’s website. Below is a synopsis to get your blood pumpin’.

The dead have risen … and in one small, Midwestern town, the residents have learned to cope as best they can.

Meggie lost her husband, Quint, during the early days of the undead uprising. She now lives a life of quiet horror and desperation, for her mother-in-law will do anything to help the family adjust to this new world. Even the unspeakable …

NightWhere by John Everson (June 2012)

Ever since Colum gave me a copy of John Everson’s The 13th a few years back, I haven’t missed anything by this author. His blend of erotica and horror has been perfected into an intoxicating signature style that hits all the right notes. Everson revealed some details about this project in his interview with Dreadful Tales here where he assures his sixth novel, NightWhere, is a return to form. More blood, more sex, more mayhem! NightWhere centers on a swinging husband and wife who are invited to a floating sex club, the titular NightWhere, where anything goes. There is no cover art available yet, but we’ll keep you posted. NightWhere will be available from Samhain Publishing June 2012. Prepare yourself! Until then, visit Everson’s website and sign-up for his newsletter to stay in the loop on everything the master of sexy is up to.

So, those are the titles we are most anxious for this year. Tell us about your most dreadfully anticipated titles in the comments section below!