Author Spotlight- David Beers

David Beers

David Beers is a former pizza delivery guy, a yacht coveter, and a recently debuted author.

He tweetsposts, and updates from Florida.

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CMStewart: First, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed your novels “The Devil’s Dream”  and “Dead Religion.” I recommend these novels to horror fans and thriller fans. I’m also a horror writer, and your books inspired me in my own writing. Thank you, David.

David Beers: That just made my entire week! I’m kind of speechless about to say about that, besides thank you for reading! That’s one of best compliments I’ve ever received and I’m smiling so hard right now.

CMS: What genre(s) do you like to read?

DB: I’m a pretty voracious reader. To give you a bit of an idea of what I read, right now I’m reading: The Brain and Buddhism (nonfiction), A Brief History of Nearly Everything (nonfiction comedy), Cholesterol Clarity (nonfiction nutrition), Good Calories, Bad Calories (nonfiction nutrition), and Carrion Comfort (horror).

I generally like anything from fantasy novels to nonfiction science, but I try to stay away from YA.

CMS: So YA is something you avoid. Why is that?

DB: My answer here might seem arrogant, but I promise it’s not meant to. I need a lot of mental stimulation, almost constant. I make sure I meditate early in the morning and that’s because the rest of the day I’m trying to find hard tasks to put my mind against. Young Adult fiction hasn’t been able to supply me with that–to me, they’re kind of like a James Patterson novel, fast but more of a surface skim rather than a deep dive. Again, no knock on people that love YA–my fiancée reads them constantly, and she’s a much better person than I am.

CMS: Religion is a major theme in your novels so far. Was this an intentional decision?

DB: I was brought up in a Christian fundamentalist household, and I think working my way through a lot of things I was taught in order to create my own belief system left a mark on me psychologically. I don’t intentionally ever create themes, but they do recur quite a lot. Religion is one. Loss of a loved one is another. Relationships between siblings is something else that I explore a lot both in my head and I think in my novels. I imagine themes will change as I continue growing as a person, as well.

CMS: Who are your favorite authors?

DB: Stephen King ranks at the top here. In the field of horror, he is the standard bearer.

Robert Pirsig is an absolute genius, and it’s unfortunate that he only published two novels.

George R.R. Martin, as far as I’m concerned, has replaced Tolkien.

I also am excited to see how Joe Hill’s career turns out. So far, I’m wildly impressed.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. Card never reached so high again, but to do it once is more than most people can ask.

CMS: Do you focus on one genre in your writing?

DB: No, not at all. I write stories that I like telling, and they tend to be darker, and can mix elements of horror and science fiction into them. At the same time though, I find myself writing a good bit about love, although not your typical romance novel type love.

However, I never think about genre when I write. I think about characters, and everything else comes from what those characters tell me about themselves.

CMS: When did you first know you wanted to be an author, and what were the circumstances?

DB: I worked in a pizza shop during my undergraduate years, and I remember the exact moment with surprising clarity. My boss was twenty-six, about to graduate college, and I asked him what his plans were once he graduated—because surely no one wanted to get a degree and then manage a pizza parlor.

He looked at me like I was either willfully ignorant or slightly stupid; I imagine he was unsure which. He said, “I’m a writer, man.”

Before that moment, I’d written my entire life and never once thought it could be a profession. That sentence, though, opened my mind to a completely different universe of possibilities.

CMS: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors in general?

DB: I do. Well, for entrepreneurs, but a writer (whether they know it or not), is an entrepreneur.

What you need to be an entrepreneur (in order of importance):

1. Vision. You have to see yourself in the future. This is important because every day is not rainbows and puppies. There are a lot of days where you feel like quitting, even more days where you look at someone with half the talent you possess, and wonder–’just how in the hell is this guy doing it?’ Yeah, that’s jealousy, but so what? Without vision, without seeing where this will end, or at the least, has a possibility to end, YOU’RE GOING TO QUIT. Before you start down the road of opening a business, know exactly where you want to end up. Don’t say, I want to be rich. Don’t say I want to be famous. Your vision needs to be specific and attainable. Some people say put a timeline on it; I don’t subscribe to that, but specific and attainable are necessary.

2. Work. A Lot. A close, close second here. Between this and vision, you’re probably leaving behind 90-95% of the population. Much of the world values their down time as much or more as their productive time. I don’t understand these people, and I’m not going to lie, a part of me thinks they’re wasting their time here. That doesn’t matter for this post though. You have to put in more hours than anyone else. I’m not being facetious; that should be your goal. 70 hours a week, minimum. If you go into this thinking you’re going to work 40 hours and be successful, apply to Enterprise Rent-A- Car, because owning a business isn’t your calling. I wake up at 4 AM weekdays and don’t stop producing until 6 PM. That’s fourteen hours. Plus another thirty minutes to an hour of studying between 8-9:30. So, around a fifteen hour workday. On the weekends, I slack. I probably only work five hours on Saturday and then another five on Sunday.

That’s 85 hours and I feel like I could be doing more.

3. Read Everything. The first two on this list will be absolutely nothing if you don’t follow this. Charlie Munger called Warren Buffett a learning machine. You have to be one too. Each day, the entirety of your day has to be concerned with either producing or learning (both, daily). To learn, you can watch television, but mostly you’re going to get garbage. The real learning comes from reading. I don’t care if it’s blogs, messageboards, books, newspaper articles, fiction, non-fiction, memoir. I don’t care. Just read. Read extensively in your field and extensively out of your field. Right now, a book I picked up on a whim–A Brief History of Nearly Everything has substantially influenced Against the Dark, so much so that the book would have been a completely different novel if I never read that non-fiction novel. Stretch yourself to read until your eyes hurt and you think you can’t find anything else to read. Then read another sentence.

4. Concentrate on Positives. Learn from Negatives. You’re going to have a lot of negative experiences, and the human brain is wired to pay more attention to them. This comes from our hunter-gatherer days, in which a lion looking at you was a lot more important than an apple tree. We put more emphasis on negatives in our lives, and that can change your entire mindset. When something negative occurs, find out the source of that event, and move on. When something positive occurs, spend time–a good bit of time, focusing on that positive event. This will help rewire your brain as well as put you into a better mindset.

5. Customers First. When I’m not crafting a novel, I’m thinking about what I can do for my fans. Have I answered all my fan mail? Have I spent adequate time thinking and coming up with ideas that can delight them besides the novel? When I’m actually writing the novel, I’m constantly thinking of one fan in my mind (I won’t say who), and I’m wondering what he/she will think given this or that. I try to make sure that fan is going to be pleased, because if he/she is, then I’ve done my job well. Your customers are your heart that that keeps blood pumping throughout your body. They’re your core. Treat them well.

6. Build a Network. I ignored this for so long and it has hurt me. I was like, f-it, I’m going to write good stories and the world can find me. That’s a fine attitude to have, I suppose, and it helped me develop into the writer I am, but if that’s the case–don’t be surprised if the world doesn’t find you. When you’re reading, when you’re learning, converse with people about your thoughts. Promote others. Help others. Become their friends and ask them to be your friends. Bill Clinton didn’t become President because he shagged well; he became President because he had the ability to make friends out of anyone he came in contact with. That’s your goal. The more friends you have, the more you can help them, and the more they will help you.

7. Have a Supporting Significant Other. This is number 7, because some people don’t have a significant other. If you do, then this is up there with vision, because if he/ she doesn’t understand your vision, it’s over. All of it. I have probably the best significant other I could ask for. I go to bed at 8 PM, wake up at 4 AM. I spend about an hour to an hour and a half with her on the weekdays, a bit more on weekends. She wakes up at five in the morning to edit my work before she goes to work. She doesn’t complain.

She sees the vision. Could I do this without her? Sure. If she left me for some reason, I could continue doing what I’m doing–however, could I stay with her (which I need) and continue with this if she didn’t see my vision? No. Not at all. Be thankful for your other half, and make sure they know you are.

CMS: Do you have any advice specifically for writerly yacht enthusiasts with a pizza delivery background?

DB: Yeah.

Party hard. Help others. Try to produce something of value every single day. Attend therapy regularly. Meditate. Remember to appreciate those that allow you in their life.

Seek truth. Stay out of needless Facebook debates. Track everything important to you meticulously. Write for the sake of writing, not for the sake of ‘making it’ (I don’t care what Russell Blake says about this).

CMS: What are your long-term goals or ambitions as a career author?

DB: Long term goal? Simple, really, I guess—to be remembered for my work. That’s it.

Short term, as in my life time? To be able to pay back my fiancée—for all of her endless devotion to this start-up I’m building—with massive amounts of shoes and jewelry.

Part of me hates Kanye West with a passion that runs deeper than the Mariana Trench, and the other part of me is like, dude is right. No one wants to say their goals because they sound grandiose, and make you seem arrogant. If I’m being honest though, and indeed that’s what the Good Lord told us to do, I’d have to say my goal is to be known across dark fiction genres as someone who consistently delivers quality prose and compelling stories. People may show that they appreciate this prose and excellent fiction by showering me with money and praise.

CMS: What’s next for David Beers?

DB: Surprisingly, a lot. I actually just hired two people that work exclusively for me, so it’s going to give me a lot more control over what I’m producing.

I have the first part of a 2-3 book series coming out this summer. It’s titled: Against the Dark.

I’m finishing up the sequel to The Devil’s Dream in the next week—should have a summer release date. I’m also working on a serial novel which I’m digging just about as much as anything I’ve ever written. It’s called: A Series of Somewhat, but not Entirely, Sinister Business Proposals. It’ll be at least ten parts, so around 130,000 words.

All in all, I hoping by this time next year I have out an additional 5 books, with five chapters of the serial novel available as well.

CMS: Whoa, that’s a whole lotta writing, and more books for me to read. But I digress . . What’s something your fans don’t know about you?

DB: Oh, man. I’m pretty open and honest about everything—especially to fans that follow me on Facebook.

One thing that they don’t know—my cholesterol numbers are absolutely horrible by traditional medical standards, and I’m not the slightest bit worried about this (see the book Good Calories, Bad Calories above).

CMS: Any final comments?

DB: Just a great big thank you to CM for allowing me to talk a bit about myself as well as reviewing my novels!

Oh yeah, I can’t prove it, but I’m fairly certain that signing up for my mailing list improves your chances of dying from any sort of disease by about 50%.

CMS: Awesome! I’m signed up.

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If you wanna read my reviews of Beers’ books, click anywhere on this sentence.

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 List o’ Beers’ links:

mailing list AKA free stuff
website
G+
Twitter
Facebook

The Devil's Dream e-book

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The Devil’s Dream / Dead Religion (books 26 and 27)

The Devil’s Dream / David Beers

Synopsis – In an act of racist violence – or accidental over-vigilance, depending on your perspective – the world’s most intellectually gifted person loses what is most important to him. That’s bad enough, but it turns out the former wunderkind is now a mad scientist with one goal in mind. He will bring his slain son back to life, and wreak vengeful destruction and death while doing so. And if the world tries to stop him, he will simply stop the world. He can do that, you know – he’s an evil über genius.

Reaction – The action was fast and brutal, and the characters were 3-dimensional and palpable. At times I wondered just how far a genius intellect could carry the world’s most wanted criminal, even if he was motivated by all-consuming love and vengeance. The actual science of the resurrection was a bit like watching Frankenstein’s monster come to life, but I compartmentalized that into the main character’s deluded state of mind. A couple plot twists nearly had my jumping off the edge of my seat. Read this if you’re into “mad scientist” stories served with blood and guts.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Dream-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00IAN7AV6/

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Dead Religion / David Beers

Synopsis – An ancient god of destruction and death comes back from hibernation for its final hurrah. But the last true believer isn’t willing to surrender. Even with a past including violently self-destructive parents and institutionalization for clinical insanity, this theist isn’t going down without taking his evil god with him. What happens when an iron will battles a voracious theity?

Reaction – This book read like the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” played… layered, vast, drawn out, and with several BAM-POW scenes which counterbalanced the meditative stretches. The psychological horror was well-executed in a supernatural framework. A fair amount of violence and gory imagery.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Religion-David-Beers-ebook/dp/B0098LA1Q0/

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The Outlaw Among Us / Sworn Secret: A Novel (books 24 and 25)

The Outlaw Among Us / Nathan Dodge

Synopsis – Mr. and Mrs. Average American are living their average working-class lives with their average children in an average working-class neighborhood. That is, until Mr. and Mrs. Wealthy Gorgeous move into the house two doors down. When Mr. WG showers Mr. AA with free limo rides, major league baseball games, strip club outings, and booze, Mr. AA is hooked. But then Mr. WG saves Mr. AA’s life by shooting a street thug. But Mr. WG doesn’t want the police involved. Too complicated. Then of course, things get even more complicated. Soon Mr. AA is in way over his head in a deadly game of espionage, terrorism, and psychopathic manipulation.

Reaction – This story was a fascinating study of the ways and means of psychopaths and their victims. As the psychopathic couple ensnared the unsuspecting man with money and favors, I found myself wondering how obvious – or concealed – their motives may appear to somebody who is going through one major life crisis after another. Indeed, desperate circumstances call for desperate battles. Just how far do players in a web of deceit go to win the war? The story was written in a conversational style, and the main character arc was a surprise. Read this if you’re into psychological horror with a twist.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Outlaw-Among-Us-Nathan-Dodge-ebook/dp/B0061OTQC2/

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Sworn Secret: A Novel / Amanda Jennings

Synopsis – Picture a close-knit, loving family – a wife, a husband, and two lovely teenage daughters attending a good school with dedicated faculty. Of course, “picture-perfect” isn’t always what is seems. Now picture the unthinkable. A daughter falls from the roof of the school. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or something more sinister? In the aftermath of a tragic death, devastating secrets are revealed. When confronted with damning evidence, can a grieving family accept one of their own was leading a double life? As the layers of secrets and lies are peeled away, the exposed reality tears apart a community and drives the survivors over the edge of sanity.

Reaction – This complex, multi-layered novel was masterfully written. The characters were real and sympathetic. Reading the story was like watching a slow-motion train wreck of raw twisted drama and shattered emotion. One tragedy dominoed another, which dominoed another… I teared up toward the end, and I’m usually quite stoic. How much pain can one strong family endure? Read this book and find out.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Sworn-Secret-Novel-Amanda-Jennings-ebook/dp/B00G98B1WS

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47 Echo / Sharcano (books 22 and 23)

47 Echo / Shawn Kupfer

Synopsis – After a war-tainted society fails a man and his family, the man finds himself thrust into the penal military combat. But this man has some mad military skills, and proves to be a MacGyver A-Team hero. When the law catches up with his innocence and finally gives him a break, will he desert his wartime teammates?

Reaction – I usually don’t select war novels, but I’m glad I selected this futuristic military thriller. Though it was full of military jargon, military numbers, and military acronyms, the writing was rhythmic and propelled me forward with surprising ease. It had a balance of cold, hard specs and humanizing psych, and the main characters were sympathetic. Read this if you’re into jagged survivalist military grit tempered with a core of human kindness.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/47-Echo-Shawn-Kupfer-ebook/dp/B00BZPIGP0/

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Sharcano / Jose Prendes

Synopsis – What do you get when you cross the scariest water-borne killer with the scariest fire-borne killer? Sharks. Volcanoes. Molten lava sharks spewing out of volcanoes. A hellish Sharcanocalypse! Can science and religion come together to save the world from the fiery end-of-days flying lava sharks and a plague spawned straight from Hades? Will the “cure” be worse than the epidemic?

Reaction – I grew up reading the tabloids Weekly World News, National Enquirer, Globe, Star, and watching B movies, so this long and twisted tale of Sharcanocalyptic terror was right up my alley! I even made popcorn. Every other paragraph had my eyes bugging out with Did I just read that?!  This story was an absolute joy to read, and Prendes obviously had a wicked fun time writing it. I’ll be coming back to this gaudy, bawdy gem of a book again and again.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Sharcano-Sharkpocalypse-1-Jose-Prendes-ebook/dp/B00I0K9UE4/

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Mount Gold Goatboy: The Legend of Winky Rivers (a short story)

Photo by Jo Naylor.

The sun started to slip behind Mount Gold, and Jan dismounted his horse, his eyes brimming with tears of awe and longing. As the last few rays splayed over the summit, the crest of the mountain glowed a brilliant gold. Jan draped his arm around his horse’s neck, and he squinted at the fiery crescent. “That there is what I’m after, girl,” he whispered in the animal’s ear. “It may be just the sun playing tricks, but it may be gold after all. So rest up tonight, ’cause tomorrow I’m gonna be the first man brave enough to reach the-”

A movement at the base of the mountain caught Jan’s eyes, and he quickly focused his attention on an out-of-place shadow about twenty feet away. As the last of the sun’s rays blinked out, the shadow grew larger and darker, solidifying into the shape of a goat. The side of the goat swung open, as if on a hinge, and a man dressed in a black bodysuit rolled out and fell to the ground. He untucked his limbs, stretched, and stood on wobbly legs.

Jan gasped. “What in tarnation-”

The man in black politely waved. “I’m a goatboy,” he called out. “In a steel goat I ride.”

Jan and his horse slowly walked toward the man. “What in tarnation is that contraption?” He pointed at the goat.

“It’s new-fangled machinery. This here goat can instantaneously take me anywhen I wanna go.”

“Anywhen? What’s that supposed to-” Jan stopped talking when he stood face-to-face with the man in black. “Say, you look like that fella in the wanted poster I saw in town.” Jan hovered his hand above the handle of his holstered six-shooter.

“I likely am that fella,” the man nodded. “But don’t get too excited, not just yet. Whatever reward they have posted for my head, I can double it.”

“How do I know that?” Jan said, his trigger finger twitching.

The man gestured to his mechanical goat. “As you can see, I’m a man of means. I’m here to liberate a fortune in gold with the help of my goat. Back home, there’s a gold shortage. I figured I’d procure an investment here, so I can cash in. For the future. So to speak.” The man grinned. “But I need a partner to navigate me up the side of this here mountain. I tend to close my eyes when I get more than a couple hundred feet up. I’m acrophobic.”

“Acro-what?”

“-phobic. Irrationally afraid of heights. As many times as I’ve transported myself to this mountain, I’ve yet to actually reach the summit. That’s why I- er- my goat keeps havin’ to jump claims.”

“Yer a claim jumper?”

“No better animal than a goat fer jumpin’. Claim-jumpin’, that is. An’ that’s why I’m wanted, dead or alive.”

Jan relaxed his trigger finger. “So you’ve heard of the legend of Mount Gold.”

The man nodded. “Well, ‘cause the name – Mount Gold. Makes it kinda obvious.”

“Yep. Folks say she’s capped in pure gold.” Jan gazed up the side of the dark mountain and sighed. “But don’t worry ‘bout me. The sheriff is crooked. He’d never make good on that reward anyway.” Jan extended his hand. “Name’s ‘Jan Rains.’ Pleased to meet ya.”

The man shook Jan’s hand. “Ya say yer name’s ‘John Wayne’?”

“Nah, I didn’t say that.” Jan cocked his head.

“Sorry. I’m a bit hard of hearin’. Nearly got trampled by a herd of wild goats as a young’un. ‘Bout blew out my ear drums.” The man laughed. “What kind of a name is ‘John Wayne,’ anyways?” Sounds like some high-falutin’ Hollywood name.”

Jan raised his brow. “Hollywood?”

“Nevermind. I’m getting’ a little ahead of myself. Anyway, people call me ‘Winky Rivers.’ ”

“Now that’s a cowboy’s name if I ever did hear one.”

“Cowboy? Try ‘goatboy.’ There’s no way a cow’s gonna make it up the side of Mount Gold. It’s dang near a sheer cliff.”

“Cow? Try ‘horse.’ No way I’d be caught ridin’ a cow.” Jan patted the shoulder of his stallion.

Winky shrugged. “Same difference.”

“Say, how ‘bout we team up an’ get us some gold? Bein’ as yer an outlaw, I figure you can use my help.”

“I thought you’d never ask. We’ll start fresh in the mornin.’ Me an’ you an’ this here goat.”

They built a campfire, laid out some blankets, and retired for the night.

—–

After a breakfast of coffee and crackers, Winky showed Jan how to maneuver the goat’s ears to steer, accelerate, and brake.

Jan tapped the side of the goat. “So you’ll be ridin’ inside this contraption?” he asked.

“Ridin’ inside is for… quicker trips, so to speak.” Winky smiled. “It gets kinda stuffy in there. There’s room enough fer both of us in the saddle, an’ she’s sure-footed.”

Jan shrugged and they mounted the mechanical goat. “We’ll follow Chaos Creek upstream until we git to the summit.”

“Good idea,” Winky said, his hands gripping the sides of the saddle.” Gotta keep ourselves hydrated. And clean.”

“Yer right,” Jan replied, chuckling.” Nothin’ worse than dried up, dust-covered goatboys.”

Winky fastened his saddle belt and closed his eyes. After a few minutes, Jan saw that the trail up the side of the mountain had faded out, and they continued making their way up the sheer cliff face. The goat precariously jumped from jutting rock to jutting rock.

Half-way up, they came to a plateau and dismounted. Chaos Creek was now a miniature waterfall flowing into a shallow pond bordering the cliff face. After a thirst-slaking drink and refreshing dip, they mounted the goat and continued up the side of the mountain.

Nearing sunset, the goat finally jumped onto the gleaming summit of Mount Gold. “Open yer eyes if you can stand it, Winky – we made it!” Jan whooped and hollered. “An’ it looks like real gold, no foolin’!”

Winky peeked through his fingers and slid off the goat. He kept his eyes on the glinting gold ground. Jan jumped off the goat and fell to his knees, kissing the golden summit.

“Just one question – how we gonna divvy up this here gold?” Jan said, rising to his feet. “I figure I’ve done most of the work, steering the goat all the way up here.

“If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even be up here, you doltish cowboy!”

Jan frowned and kicked a gold pebble off the side of the plateau. “I’m no cowboy, not anymore. I’m a goatboy, Winky. You taught me. I thought you’d do right by me after all we’ve been through.”

“Doesn’t matter. Watch this.” Winky led the goat to an outcropping and pulled the goat’s tail.

The goat’s eyes shot brilliant red laser beams from its rectangular pupils, slicing a dozen neat gold bars from the summit. Winky moseyed up to the bars, grabbed one, and held it up. The last of the sun’s rays illuminated the bar in a warm golden glow.

“How in tarnation did yer goat do that?” Jan took a staggering step toward the stack of gold bars.

“Like I told ya yesterday, it’s new-fangled machinery. This here goat can carve standard-issue gold bars from a gold boulder, an’ inscribe my name on each one of ‘em. I aim to carve up this entire mountain top.” He ran his finger over the inscribed bar. “Well, gotta cash in. Good luck gettin’ down the mountain. After I load my gold, I’ll be on my way.” He twisted his goat’s horn, and the side panel swung open. He put the gold bar into the goat.

“You can’t take all the gold, Winky! If you do, I’ll tell this story to my children, and they’ll tell it to their children, and on down the line until a whole army of my future kin hunt you down! I know yer one of them time travelers.”

Winky giggled. “Or I could just blast ya with my goat eye lasers. I think I’ll do that.” He grabbed his goat’s ear and swung the head around to face Jan. Before he could aim, Jan dived at the stack of gold bars, grabbed one, and ran for the edge of the summit. He leapt off, still clutching the bar, screaming all the way down.

—–

“Say, is this here Mount Winky Rivers?” the man in black said.

The goatboy nodded. “Sure is.”

“I heard there’s gold bars on top of the summit. Used to belong to an outlaw named ‘Winky Rivers.’ ”

“So you’ve heard of the legend of Winky Rivers.” The goatboy dismounted his goat.

“Yep. That’s why I’m here.” The man patted the side of his own goat.

The goatboy extended his hand. “Name’s ‘Jan Rains, the Third.’ ”

“Yeah, I reckon,” the man said, sliding on a pair of farsighted glasses.

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Thanks to Tony Southcotte of Human Echoes Podcast for this short story challenge!

Old Man / Kiss Me Like You Love Me (books 20 and 21)

Old Man / Christopher Gronlund

Synopsis – A fickle and psychologically unstable teen first rejects, then embraces his dying grandfather’s cross-generational bonding offer. When the old man dies, the young man grows up fast. Really fast. Too bad he still has to go to high school with those gosh darn whippersnappers.

Reaction – This is a feel-good (except for the death part) book with an odd undercurrent of neurosis. The main character is a bit of a mystery, but I decided to attribute that to the flightiness of teenagers. He comes across as naïve, yet confident – a charming combination. Read this book if you’re in the mood for a warm and fuzzy family story.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Old-Man-Christopher-Gronlund-ebook/dp/B00GRLF3BW/

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Kiss Me Like You Love Me / Wednesday Lee Friday

Synopsis – Sometimes a nice guy just can’t get a break. A crappy job, a nagging mother, a divorce, and your ex’s kids hate you. And to top it all off, those girls you pick up for dates won’t even put out unless you drug them and tie them up. Sometimes they make you knock them around a little. If only they weren’t so fragile, and weren’t so full of evil… You’ll show them, you’ll be even nicer. Because nice guys eventually get what they deserve, right?

Reaction – This story is told, chapter by chapter, from the perspectives of a serial rapist / killer and the people in his life. The characters are well-rounded and believable. The main character, albeit a monster, shows just the slightest hint of concern for his actions to keep him intriguing. Several plot twists keep the suspense high. This novel is a superbly well-crafted web of horror.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Me-Like-You-Love-ebook/dp/B00BVOPXNS/

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The Mulch Pile / Prodigal Son (books 18 and 19)

The Mulch Pile / Albert Berg

Synopsis – An older brother. A younger brother. A finger. A mulch pile. A neglectful, abusive father and a passive, broken mother. Put them all together and you have… an older brother who is finally pushed across the threshold into insanity.

Reaction – A delightful tale mixing literary, horror, fantasy, and YA genres, told in the voice of an introspective teen. I was particularly enamored of this story because, although I didn’t live in a trailer park as a child, I live in one now. And I have my very own huge composting mulch pile in my backyard, bordering “the wood” forest. Just like in the book. And I have my every own garden shovel. Just like in the book. The wire fence – just like in the book – is coming down this year. I’m not the least bit hesitant to put “unusual” items in my mulch pile. I wonder if I’ll get much lightning in my neighborhood this spring.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Mulch-Pile-Albert-Berg-ebook/dp/B005MHBTU6/

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Prodigal Son / Christine Sutton

Synopsis – A young boy is abandoned by his misogynistic, violent daddy, leaving him to be alternately neglected and tortured by his alcoholic mommy. So of course he grows up to be just like daddy. All grown up, he goes on a quest to find his dear old dad so he can join him in his life of misogyny. Kidnapping, beating, raping, and killing women – real father-son bonding stuff. Different strokes for different folks.

Reaction – This book was pure torture porn, in my opinion. In the interest of not just posting reviews of what I consider average- to high-quality books, I read this brief book to the end so I could post my review. This story could’ve benefited from some scrap or hint of humanity in the characters. But I found no trace of redemption. Every single person seemed to be a caricature. The main caricatures came across as demons from Hell. Read this book if you’re into excruciatingly detailed descriptions of marathon rape sessions. If not, skip it.

Recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Prodigal-Son-Christine-Sutton-ebook/dp/B00AYV3CSM/

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Flatland / The Raw Shark Texts (books 16 and 17)

Flatland / Edwin A. Abbott

Synopsis – After a relatively lengthy primer on 2-dimensional entities living in 2 dimensions, a 2-dimensional entity is visited by a 3-dimensional entity and is temporarily pulled into a 3-dimensional existence. But does the mind-blowing knowledge translate back into 2 dimensions?

Reaction – The first half of this brief book covered the geometrical and social specifics of Flatlanders and their Flatland – sans plot. I found that focusing on the technical descriptions was challenging. It was like reading an other-worldly geometry and social etiquette manual in one. But the second half of the book picked up with an actual plot, complete with suspense and drama. I’m glad I powered through and finished this gem. Get through the background tedium, (as I’m pretty sure the author intended) and you’ll be rewarded with an inspirational tale of mind-expansive possibilities.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Flatland-Romance-Dimensions-Illustrated-E-Reader-ebook/dp/B004AM5AZO/

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The Raw Shark Texts / Steven Hall

Synopsis – After a violent psychosomatic trauma, a man discovers he’s been stripped of his personal memories and identity. Weirder still, he starts to receive rambling letters in the mail from his former self. Weirdest yet, he is befriended by a runaway who says she can help him escape the conceptual shark which has popped into existence and is trying to eat him. All they have to do is journey through unspace texts and find a mad word scientist. Yep, you read that right.

Reaction – The first part of this book was promising. Who is this man without a personal identity? Why and how is his former identity sending letters to him? Why is this mystery man not moving ocean and earth to rediscover his past? The middle part of this book morphs into what seems to be a YA fantasy, complete with long, drawn-out flirt scenes, irritating kissy games, and bizarre, unexplained non-logic, even for a fantasy novel. The last part of this book is a copy of homage to last part of the novel “Jaws.” From start to finish, a lot of filler dialogue, and rambling, mincing non-action. The man’s incredibly docile pet cat is featured throughout the book, but I’m not sure why. Though I found this book a bit lengthy for its storyline, and lacking in a number of explanations, overall, it was worth the read. Wade through the chum and you’ll find a few clever literary surprises.

Recommendation –You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Raw-Shark-Texts-Steven-Hall-ebook/dp/B001KU65BW/

*

The Exorcist / The Light at the End (books 14 and 15)

The Exorcist / William Peter Blatty

Synopsis – A jaded priest struggles to re-discover his faith. An atheist and single parent struggles to raise her child. A malevolent power brings the two worlds together when the child starts to display symptoms of extreme psychosis… or something much more mysterious and terrifying. How do you fight an evil entity with the logical and reason of modern medicine? How do you trust the life of a tortured child to an ancient superstitious ritual? Can a non-believer accept the possibility that Satan could be real?

Reaction – Masterfully written. A few odd sentences which cemented the confidence of the writing. A sweeping storyline which asserted the skill of the writer. I questioned the decision to keep the possessed child out of the hospital, but concede the in-house setting is crucial to the storyline. A few graphically violent scenes which were integral to the story. A classic which I will be reading again, with layers I will further ponder.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/The-Exorcist-40th-Anniversary-Edition-ebook/dp/B004V5180G/

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The Light at the End / John Skipp and Craig Spector

Synopsis – An unholy force reaches across the globe and has its evil way with a cast of unsuspecting characters. Now it’s vampire time in the big city. And a makeshift team of vampire hunters must kill or be killed. Or rather, a splattering of both.

Reaction – The story started with several graphically gory murder scenes, all seemingly disjointed, but I’m glad I kept reading. The further I got into the story, the more (morbidly) interested I was. The characters were believable, and the stakes were high. Shots of humor injected an otherwise overwhelming gore fest. This splatterpunk novel is not for the squeamish.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Light-at-End-John-Skipp-ebook/dp/B0049P23PW/

*

The Gentle Man / The Loyal Man (books 12 and 13)

The Gentle Man / Michelle Montague Mogil

Synopsis – A dissatisfied wife struggles to hold her marriage and her life together. Seems some of her needs are not being met. As luck would have it, she encounters a pitiable drifter with a taste for blood. The drifter tells her he has some things she needs… and she reluctantly agrees. He then fulfills her needs, but gives her a few more needs she must meet. So the long-suffering wife jilts her long-suffering husband for a new life with her drifter. Trouble is, now she’s a vampire. Sometimes love sucks.

Reaction – The wife and her lover were sympathetic, and I enjoyed watching their love story unfold. The husband was a bit bland, but I guess it’s hard to compete with the stuff of myth and legend. Lots of curious instances of the wife covering the shift of an ill-fallen pub co-worker. Lots of implausible law elusion by the blood-thirsty duo. And the wife certainly took her time rescuing her vampire lord from an unfortunate circumstance. Perhaps she was enjoying playing coy after being neglected for so long. Overall, I found the characters engaging and the plot suspenseful.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Man-Love-Eternal-ebook/dp/B00AA1P5NG

Get the 2-book set (Love Eternal) here – http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Books-Michelle-Montague-Mogil-ebook/dp/B00H6TIKA0

*

The Loyal Man / Michelle Montague Mogil

Synopsis – A long-suffering husband reconciles with his long-suffering wife for a renewed life together. In the process of adjusting to their new lifestyles, they make some friends, make some enemies, and make each other jealous. See, the trouble is, now he’s a vampire too. Sometimes love keeps on sucking.

Reaction – For book 2 of the Love Eternal set, the POV shifts from the wife to the husband, and the story is filled with a bunch of vampires, vampire sympathizers, and vampire wannabes. A dizzying cast with dizzying motivations. I felt I was reading the script to a vampire soap opera. So much fickle and fawn. Overall, I found the characters interesting insomuch as they were perplexing and… sexy. Vampires are sexy. They can’t help it.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Loyal-Man-Love-Eternal-ebook/dp/B00H4IPAQA

Get the 2-book set (Love Eternal) here – http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Books-Michelle-Montague-Mogil-ebook/dp/B00H6TIKA0

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