Michael Carter

Biography

THANKS FOR VISITING MY PAGE

*****''LACH NACH N'GAI, WITH SALAD' TO BE PUBLISHED IN 'OUR WORLD OF HORROR', ANTHOLOGY, PRINT AND EBOOK, FROM ELDRITCH PRESS - COMING SOON*****

******FANTASY NOVELETTE "THE BEAR AND THE BOGGLE" FORTHCOMING IN STUPEFYING STORIES*****

***** OVER 11,000 DOWNLOADS THROUGH SMASHWORDS *****

I'm a writer of mainly horror, science-fiction and fantasy stories, and live with my wife and cats in County Durham, England. When I'm not being a full-time registered carer, I enjoy writing, reading, watching films and TV, drinking good beer with good friends, and collecting rejection letters.

My horror/fantasy story "Lach Nach N'Gai, With Salad" is to appear in the anthology, "OUR WORLD OF HORROR", soon to be published by Eldritch Press. Other stories [and occasional poem] have been published in small press magazines and e-zines including, "The Colored Lens", "Cthulhu Cultus", "Dark Legacy", "Dread", "Pop Fiction", "The Domain", "The Ancient Track", "Blue Silver Dementia"; "Frightnet", "Nightscapes", "Dark Portal", "Magnetic Fiction" "alt.ghoststories.", "Writers Dungeon", and "Raise The Dead".

My many influences include H.P.Lovecraft, Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, Thomas Ligotti, Angela Carter, Sue Townsend and many more.

Of the stories here, UNCONTAINABLE is the most recently written while HUNTING COMP, OBLIVIOUS and CONS go back to the mid 1990's.

Thanks to all who have downloaded, read or reviewed my stories. Like most writers [some don't give a hoot], any feedback is very important to me, and I appreciate every review.

Comments, queries, or correspondence can be sent off to mickcarter1978@gmail.com or on Twitter @mickcarter78

Enjoy.

The next story to be published here will be ???

Where to find Michael Carter online


Books

Oblivious
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,790. Language: English. Published: January 9, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
(4.20 from 5 reviews)
If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise... A horror fantasy short story. 1500 words plus an Authors Afterword
It's The End Of The Universe As We Know It [And I Feel Scared]
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,330. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
(4.17 from 6 reviews)
Huge metaphysical concept science-fiction, as discovered by a spaceship of idiots! This is silly light-hearted science-fiction in a flash. Also featuring monkeys in cummerbunds!!! Yes,really!
A Greasy Spoon Life
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,340. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2013. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
(5.00 from 5 reviews)
It's a difficult stressful week when you start talking to your cutlery... A crazy, silly, funny and sad story about a poor depressed spoon. Have a free chuckle today, and never be comfortable in your kitchen again. A story of 2300 words.
The Steps At Silloth
By
Price: Free! Words: 3,630. Language: English. Published: June 22, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(4.80 from 5 reviews)
Bizarre and terrifying dreams lead a man to a lonely coastal town in the middle of the night. What will he discover on The Steps At Silloth? A free Lovecraftian short story. 3400 words
Blue
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,380. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.40 from 5 reviews)
A new life, a new beginning on the ocean planet Mosa VI, commonly known as Blue, goes awry for one colonist and his family. A short sci-fi story. 2300 words.
The Place Of The Shoggoths
By
Price: Free! Words: 490. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(3.50 from 4 reviews)
"They caroused on the foliage, and fumbled in the dark; they formed a grotesque army, and the vanguard crossed the park..." Shoggoths roam and shudder in this short Lovecraftian poem.
Uncontainable
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,690. Language: English. Published: April 16, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.25 from 4 reviews)
In the not-too-distant future, a man is hired by a secret Government agency to be a mole in a high-tech ghosthunting team. What will he discover, and what is it that is Uncontainable? A novellette of 13,000 words.
Horse-Flesh
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,420. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2013. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
(2.83 from 6 reviews)
What surprises lie in store at your local bakery? A short horror story, with 100% horse-flesh.
Tempests
By
Price: Free! Words: 7,610. Language: English. Published: February 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(3.50 from 4 reviews)
An old friend with a terrifying secret suddenly appears in Bradley's life. What has been happening to her, and can it be stopped? 7600 words.
The Monarchy Of The Rats
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,820. Language: English. Published: December 26, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(3.67 from 3 reviews)
There were two distinct and very dangerous tribes of rats at war in the grey, rain-lashed city of Cernogratz.
The Chaac Ornamentation
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,740. Language: English. Published: November 27, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
(4.00 from 3 reviews)
A man is on trial for the attempted theft of an ancient Mayan artefact. Given the opportunity to take the stand, he presents the court with a fantastic story... 2700 words.
Twas The Night Before Christmas (When The Aliens Appeared)
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,140. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2012. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Epic
(4.67 from 6 reviews)
It's the night before Christmas, and the aliens are here. A silly jolly Christmas poem to warm your cockles. Yes, cockles!
Banshee
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,020. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
(4.00 from 3 reviews)
The job should have been easy. Some quick cash. No problem. But things went wrong. And death leaves a legacy... Does the Banshee scream for you...?
Cons
By
Price: Free! Words: 1,490. Language: English. Published: November 5, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Crime
(3.83 from 6 reviews)
A new cellmate brings a new conversation; What did you do? A violent and grisly short story for adults only.
The Dark Divide
By
Price: Free! Words: 5,310. Language: English. Published: November 2, 2012. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Monsters
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
In the vast coniferous forests of the Pacific North-West something is stirring...
Hunting Comp.
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,140. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(4.00 from 3 reviews)
A Cautionary Tale of Time Travel. How much fun would it be to hunt a dinosaur with an Enfield rifle?
The Curiosity
By
Price: Free! Words: 770. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(4.40 from 5 reviews)
I bought an artifact from antiquity, and antiquity wants it back! A super-short Weird Tale.
Snow Wonder
By
Price: Free! Words: 2,950. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
A science-fiction horror, about a survey team on a distant planet, who encounter some very startling and mysterious snow.
The Pods
By
Price: Free! Words: 5,090. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
When strange metallic pods begin to suddenly drop from the sky one night, two young brothers take one home and make a terrible discovery... Now looking better than ever on your e-reader...
Esther's House
By
Price: Free! Words: 4,670. Language: English. Published: September 6, 2012. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Paranormal
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
Esther's House - A true story of the paranormal. Childrens fears, scary relatives, and ghostly family histories... 4600 words.
Ride The Wild Worm
By
Price: Free! Words: 3,010. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
When an Englishman visits an American rodeo show, he gets far more than horse-play... A horror/fantasy story with a Lovecraft tinge. 3000 words.

Michael Carter’s tag cloud

aaarrrgghh    abduction    abominable    action    alien    alien abduction    aliens    almasti    american    ancient    animals    apocalypse    ashton    atlantis    atmospheric    badger    bakery    banshee    bigfoot    blue    bobbins    burrowers    chakras    christmas    clark    comedy    conspiracy    cover up    creatures    crime    crypto    cryptogeology    cryptozoology    cthulhu    curiosity    cutlery    dagon    death    deep ones    dhole    dinosaur    dream    earth    epistolary    experimental    falling objects    fantasy    fiction    flesh    folklore    fortean    free    funny    future    ghost    ghost hunt    ghost story    god    gods    gore    gory    ha ha ha    happy    haunted    haunting    horror    horse    hot sex    humorous    humour    humourous    hunt    idiots    interstellar    job centre    jolly    killing    king rat    legend    letters    leylines    lovecraft    lovecraftian    maya    monarch    monster    murder    mysteries    mystery    mythology    mythos    natural world    nature    new age    north east    ocean    paranormal    planet    pods    poem    poetry    prose    pulp    rain    rats    relic    religion    revenge    rhyming    santa    scary    sci fi    science    science fiction    scifi    sense of wonder    shoggoth    short    short story    silly    smith    snowman    snowmen    space    spirit    splat    spooky    spoon    stories    story    supernatural    tales    tech    time    time travel    topical    torture    true    true story    twist    twist ending    ufos    universe    very short    violence    war    washington state    water    weird    wierd    woods    world    worm    yeti    youth    zeitgeist   

Michael Carter's favorite authors on Smashwords


Smashwords book reviews by Michael Carter

  • The Curse Of The Cowboy on Sep. 05, 2012

    THE CURSE OF THE COWBOY is another great read-in-one-sitting story, a kind of Weird Western Tale. Reading like a mixture of tough spaghetti-western and rowdy tongue-in-rotting-cheek horror story, it covers the exploits of Jake Scouler and his posse who find a whole lot of trouble when they go treasure-huntin' in an old Indian graveyard. Sarcastic, very fast moving, gory and very funny, COWBOY has Strickland's salt-of-the-earth characterisations and biting English humour down to a tee. If you like your stories imaginative and witty, read the first few pages and I guarantee you'll read the rest of it with a smile on your face.
  • Of Muscle And Magic on Sep. 15, 2012

    This is a great sword and sorcery story from Jonathan Strickland, and is very fast moving, full of interesting characters, lots of muscle, magic and monsters and quite a bit of blood. Calin is a warrior mercenary who loves his women, and his ale. In fact he’s in the pub when he hears a tale of distant Pagzuire, where peoples’ hearts are being ripped from their chests by person or thing unknown. A local wizard on the island has spread the story far and wide in the hope of attracting a group of warriors to locate and destroy the culprit. So off Calin goes to make his name and fortune, and getting to the island, he becomes one of a “Magnificent Seven” of hard-as-nails barbarians, determined to get to the bottom of the macabre mystery. However, despite a massive battle, all does not go well, and soon Calin has to look much further afield to find a partner –trainee magician Vlax – to help him on his quest. At 39,000 words, this is the longest thing Strickland has yet published, and yet it effortlessly retains the fast-moving pace and down-to-earth characters of his short stories. OF MUSCLE AND MAGIC is compelling from the beginning, and action-packed. The battle concerning the seven mercenaries makes up quite a large scene in the middle of the book, and it moves with an almost breathless pace, with blood and gore, monsters and severed limbs everywhere. Take care not to break the buttons on your Kindle device from pressing them too fast. Then unexpectedly the story goes off in a different direction, as Calin searches for a young magician to help him; when he finds him, Vlax has big problems of his own! I loved this story and read it in two exciting sittings. It has everything you would expect had you read any of the authors shorter work; larger-than-life yet down-to-earth characters, evil demons and massive great monsters; humour and sardonic wit, and a great story at its heart. I thought it read a bit like a cross between one of those fast Moorcock novels like THE RUNESTAFF, for its twisting story and fast pace, and the work of Clark Ashton Smith or Robert E Howard for its brilliant flurry of invention. If you love fantasy fiction, especially the sort written by Howard, Leiber and Kuttner, then this is an excellent read, in fact it very much follows in the footsteps of those authors by being a self-contained and excellent short fantasy novel, instead of a massive never-ending and self-indulgent series of doorstops, like most modern fantasy. Hopefully, Mr Strickland will follow in Howard and Leibers footprints further by producing more stories of his heroes Calin and Vlax and their brilliantly-imagined demon-haunted world.
  • A Divine Tale on Sep. 17, 2012

    Seglaman the Snow God is an inter-planetary deity who is taking over worlds left right and centre. However, on one particular world he has become complacent, and doesn't plan on any resistance. After all, who could fight against a Snow God and his 24,000 Snow Warriors...? A DIVINE TALE is another fun fantasy/sci-fi story that is filled with invention. There is more of an emphasis on humour here, and some strong visual images. I see it as kind of a cross between Douglas Adams and Lord Dunsany, fun, and light-hearted yet with a sense of ageless myth about it. I am looking forward to Strickland's forthcoming collection on Smashwords.
  • The Night Halloween Took Over The World on Sep. 25, 2012

    This is perhaps just a one-sentence idea and I suspect the author took longer on the very good book cover than they did writing the "book". It's far too slight to be affecting or memorable and really comes across as juevinilia, with dodgy grammar and clunky sentences. I would give it an extra star just for the cover but this is smashwords not smashart!
  • The Ghosts of Summerville Plantation on Sep. 28, 2012

    Sorry, Mr Stoller, but I can't seem to get into your stories. This again reads like notes for a story; a few hundred words to get the idea out. It isn't a bad ghost story, though nothing new, and is similar to many 'true' accounts. However it should have been developed and expanded, as there is little atmosphere here, and only matchstick characters.
  • Mervin Badman on Oct. 04, 2012

    MERVIN BADMAN is a classic-style pulp horror story, reminiscent of Guy N Smith's THE SLIME BEAST, but also completely different. Four friends go on a Time-Team sort of archealogical expedition on the Northern English moors, but discover much more than they bargained for. Every area on the planet has its own local 'boogeyman', a mythic tale used by mothers to scare their children away from dangerous places. In this imaginative story, the four friends [and a lucky beetle] meet the 'boogeyman' of the Tremwell Moors, a dirty piece of work called Melvin Badman. This is another enjoyable and compelling horror story from my friend Jonathan Strickland. He often says he doesn't write horror, but I really beg to differ.
  • The Dare on Oct. 05, 2012

    More Drac von Stoller!!! The thin characters in this story constantly, annoyingly, refer to "the game Dare", and their dialogue is very unrealistic. The ghost, when it appears, is described as merely 'a ghost'. This is another example of von Stoller's well-meaning but anorexic horror. On his bio Drac von Stoller says that he doesn't develop his stories because he would habve written too many words. I have no doubt of his love for the genre, but this statement almost says that writing is hard work for him, a slog, and not a passion. This comes across in his writing; his stories seem to be told as quickly and simply as possible; pile em up, and get them out. How he has managed to sell 400+ Audiobooks I have no idea, but on the strength of two or three of his stories I have read, his writing has little style and no substance. I have no wish to bash this writer's work, but for me personally, I fail to see the appeal. It would be interesting to read what other authors could do with von Stollers usual word count of six or seven hundred words.
  • Pain Is So Close To Pleasure on Oct. 05, 2012

    This is a great easy-to-read story, you'll read in five minutes. It's a sort of first-contact-with-aliens type of tale, and the communication problems they would have. It's very funny, and you'll laugh. I read this on my Kindle while sitting waiting for an opticians appoitment and everyone looked at me funny when I was laughing out loud.
  • Number Withheld on Oct. 09, 2012

    One technique of super-short stories can be for them to describe a fraction of a story; the story is complete, yet indicates that more has happenned before the story began, and more will continue to happen after the story is finished. The short self-contained micro-story should bring up questions and queries; who is this, what is that, what is going on here, offering a brief glimpse into a larger world. David Blake's story does this well; I see the potential for expansion, yet it stands well on its own. I never answer Withheld Numbers and will continue to not do so.
  • The Ten Second Time Traveller on Oct. 09, 2012

    All you need for a short sharp story is that one central idea, the one weight upon which the story hangs. I salute Jonny Strickland for producing, in around two days, a fine cautionary tale of time-travel. We've all seen The Terminator and Twelve Monkeys etc, and the whole time-travel paradox theme is very familiar, but here we see how a simple idea, cleverly compacted, and well written can bring a fresh angle on an old theme. As Jonny states in his story description, we had a kind of writing challenge to produce a brand new story in around 100 words, within a week. Jonny here has produced his fine story and met all the criteria; try it yourself, it's harder than you'd think. My own attempt, Skippy Jack Joe, is here on smashwords too, but is, I think, less focused than Jonny's tale. Check out this fun sci-fi story for a quick, satisfying, and head-scratching read.
  • Hamster Horror on Oct. 13, 2012

    Ths seemed to have promise at first, and was like a very compact Anmal-On-The-Rampage novel, but suddenly became very bad, both writing-wise and story-wise. The final paragraph was just nonsensical and gave the impression the author was just sick of the story, but published it anyway, without even correcting the errors. Oh well!
  • A Heartless Task (“Of Muscle And Magic”) on Oct. 22, 2012

    This is the first [big] half of a great sword and sorcery story from Jonathan Strickland, and is very fast moving, full of interesting characters, lots of muscle, magic and monsters and quite a bit of blood. The first half here works very well as a stand-alone story. Calin is a warrior mercenary who loves his women, and his ale. In fact he’s in the pub when he hears a tale of distant Pagzuire, where peoples’ hearts are being ripped from their chests by person or thing unknown. A local wizard on the island has spread the story far and wide in the hope of attracting a group of warriors to locate and destroy the culprit. So off Calin goes to make his name and fortune, and getting to the island, he becomes one of a “Magnificent Seven” of hard-as-nails barbarians, determined to get to the bottom of the macabre mystery. This is among the longest fiction that Jonny Strickland has yet published, and yet it effortlessly retains the fast-moving pace and down-to-earth characters of his short stories. OF MUSCLE AND MAGIC is compelling from the beginning, and action-packed. The battle concerning the seven mercenaries makes up quite a large scene in the book, and it moves with an almost breathless pace, with blood and gore, monsters and severed limbs everywhere. Take care not to break the buttons on your Kindle device from pressing them too fast. I loved this story and read it in one hugely enjoyable sittings. It has everything you would expect had you read any of the authors shorter work; larger-than-life yet down-to-earth characters, evil demons and massive great monsters; humour and sardonic wit, and a great story at its heart. I thought it read a bit like a cross between one of those fast Moorcock novels like THE RUNESTAFF, for its twisting story and fast pace, and the work of Clark Ashton Smith or Robert E Howard for its brilliant flurry of invention. If you love fantasy fiction, especially the sort written by Howard, Leiber and Kuttner, then this is an excellent read.
  • Smashwords Writing Duel on Nov. 04, 2012

    Jonny Stricklands new story is a clever, entertaining and thoughtful story about one of my favourite subjects, writing and writers. Using this very own smashwords as a basis, and therefore bang up to date, the story tells of a group of smashwords contributors who, through their stories, reviews, and profiles begin to have an online feud with each other, which escalates to events that produce surprising conclusions. Even though I know Jonny Strickland personally, I thought this was a fabulous story; it contains some of his best writing yet and manages to be both wise and funny. I didn't see the twists coming at all, and I found myself grinning like an idiot while readiing it. It has some very thought-provoking things to say about the art of writing, and about the appreciation of writing. The beauty of the story is that, even though it is set in a smashwords setting, the basic premise - human nature - could be appliied to all manner of things like facebook posts, twitter accounts or blogs, or to any forum of creativity. I really loved this story, and if you have even just a casual interest in writing, reading or reviewing here at smashwords, then you'll love it too.
  • Slaughter Wolf on Nov. 11, 2012

    This is an engaging short concerning how to kill a werewolf, which subverts and complements the usual old ideas. Some amount of thought clearly went in to it, and the writing is very good. SLAUGHTER WOLF seems like it may be an excerpt from a longer work, but stands alone quite well. All in all, an enjoyable short read, and a very well presented e-book.
  • We Stand at the Gate on Nov. 11, 2012

    A very enjoyably fantasy story, drenched in Lovecraftian ideas. Two soldiers discuss what is in The Blight, a rift-like zone where nightmares dwell. This is very evokative of Lovecraft and his themes, and very well written, with a dash of humour and a 'Wierd Tales' vibe. Generally very good and reccomended, especially to Lovecraft fans. I will read more of this exciting new author.
  • Let The World Die on Nov. 13, 2012

    This is an interesting idea, and those 400 words intrigue you to know more about the world and the situation. Well written, too, an exercise in concision, but it comes across almost as a teaser for a much longer work.
  • Destined To Be Damned on Nov. 15, 2012

    Yeah, I liked this, about a mans quest for belonging and peace, and how he is drawn to a strange house. It's a very Weird Tales-type piece, with prose akin to Lovecraft or perhaps Clark Ashton Smith and a conclusion that is familiar yet well executed.
  • A Ghost Story of the Norfolk Broads on Nov. 19, 2012

    Interesting ghost story about a mysterious tavern. This is very well-written and the author conjures up an atmosphere of mists and slow canal days and nights, with a slow build-up of expectation, similar to Jonathan Aycliffe and M.R.James [Indeed, I believe Aycliffe's A SHADOW ON THE WALL was also set in East Anglia]. It is obvious that the author knows their way around the area and about boating on the canals. The only problem I had with this story was the conclusion and explanation - I thought it could have had more relevance in the rest of the story, the final "twist" seems to come from nowhere. Still, good atmosphere, and I will read more of this author.
  • The Pale Shovel - Death in 100 Words on Nov. 21, 2012

    Well-written and creates a vivid image of a serial killer at work. Good as an experiment but far too short to create a lasting impression. It would perhaps be interesting in a longer story, where perhaps each snapshot of a scene could be written in 100 words.
  • THE ARK ANGEL RONALD'S QUEST FOR CHAOS on Nov. 22, 2012

    My friend Jonny Strickland's first story, and while you can see a huge improvement curve in his recent writing, all of his trademark humour and plot is here. The story deals with heavy themes, that of neccesary evil, but does so without a hint of pretentiousness. In everyman matter-of-fact prose, Jonny's story is a bit like a twisted CHRISTMAS CAROL with the Ark Angel Ron taking the Devil to see a happy jolly caring world where there is no evil. Along the way there are observations on sexual positions and whether serial killers have any mates to go to the pub with. The story is increasingly laced with black humour; I was particularly tickled with the thought of Ron copying THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but not being able to get any Fava beans at the shop, so just slapping a poor mans liver on a plate with a tin of cold baked beans. Oh My! Reminiscent of Douglas Adams, this is a great fun story, utterly without pretension.
  • Cwn Annwfn: The Gabriel Hounds on Nov. 22, 2012

    This gory story concerns a pack of ravening hounds snarling up the countryside. It is good, and has the sense of a fairytale. Given the title, though, I would have liked a bit more about the legends, the mythology [Welsh], but never mind, this is pretty enjoyable.
  • The Sleeper With The Restless Eyes Who Sleeps Beneath A Sleeper on Dec. 08, 2012

    This is a good poem about a local bogeyman, and a cautionary story for local kids to stay off the train tracks. Short and enjoyable.
  • The Empty Man on Dec. 08, 2012

    Very funny poem about something everyone can relate to. Simple and straight-forward, with no pretentious poetic stuff, with some very funny lines to be treasured.
  • Board Meeting on Dec. 09, 2012

    Highly poetic piece concerning the things you say in board meetings. Jamie Buchanan uses alliteration, metre, and some techniques that I don't know what are, as well as a unusual and vibrant vocabulary, including a couple of words he may have invented, but which fit perfectly (smiffle, for example). This is a short read, but not a fast read. Take it slow and read it aloud, is my advice. This is really interesting work;I've never read anything quite like this before.
  • The Stone on Dec. 28, 2012

    Story about a teleporting stone. Unwieldy, clunky, and just plain bad writing. There is a sausage of an idea here, but little talent in the writing.
  • Wolf on Dec. 28, 2012

    I don't particularly like giving bad reviews, butb if no-one tells you your faults, then how can you improve. This story says that the writer has a tale to tell about a werewolf but hasn't got the skills required to tell it. Bad grammar, punctuation, etc can often be excused, but not to this extent. It sounds like it has been written by someone either unamiliar with writing, or unfamiliar with the English language. To improve your writing, either [simply] read more, or don't try and write in a language that you don't know. Perhaps try and grow your story; it is rushed; take each sentence you have written and turn it into three sentences. Put some flesh on its bare bone, and give it a bit of life. Only two stars, but do keep writing.
  • The Red Man on Dec. 28, 2012

    I enjoyed this atmospheric tale of archeology and ancient secrets. Reminiscent of "The Man In The Moss" by Phil Rickman, this story is very well written, perfectly paced, and has a lot of mood and hidden malignancy which quietly grows as the story goes on. A bit like the story itself, the idea is an old one, but Anna Reith has given it new life, and I loved its folky pagan, "Wicker Man", "Blood On Satans Claw" feel. Highly reccomended.
  • The Dance on Jan. 20, 2013

    Hello Karen! It's great to see some of your writing on here. I enjoyed reading THE DANCE. It is very well written, and I thought the words that were chosen, the language that was used, complimented very well your main character and her dance. The prose danced, as it were, as well as your character. A fantasy story of palace politics, and the sometimes extreme measures required to fulfill ambition, I really enjoyed it, and think it's an excellent little snap-shot into your world. Well done, and I look forward to reading more.
  • The Hypochondriac’s Lament. on Jan. 20, 2013

    Nice writing, and a good subject; I know I'm always thinking every little ache and pain is going to be some hideous blood clot or something. Wasn't too keen on the jokey ending, but have just realised the story is in the humour section.I would have liked the earlier paranoia explored more, but never mind. A good little read, considering the concise word-count.
  • No Sense And Nonsense on Feb. 09, 2013

    Firstly a quick note; this is NOT a story, so don't be disappointed. But it IS a bizarre collection of stuff Jonathan Strickland has put together for our perusal. There's a few funny poems here [the poem, DRAGON, is very short and succint, quite profound in a way], some Hobbit-style riddles to test your brain, a great and very funny completely strange poem about Randy Stodgeflaps, and a totally bizarre tactic of online poker playing, "The Egg". You will need your brain handy [and the alphabet] for the riddles, but just some beer for the rest of the collection. You will either smile with confused glee at these pieces, or it just won't float your particular boat. But everyone needs some silliness in their lives, and this stuff will shake your funny bone, or just confuse you, for several hours afterwards. I personally would give this a full five stars just for being entirely round-the-fruit-tree, but, now the beer has worn off, and because I've got to try to be subjective, I'll award it three shiny stars and hope Mr Strickland doesn't kick my head in next time I see him. One final note; included within the text is some malice towards gerbils...just in case you're a big gerbil fan.
  • A Fools Revenge on Feb. 25, 2013

    This is another of Jonny Strickland's fantasy tales, set in the same world [I think] as his excellent OF MUSCLE AND MAGIC. This story is much in the same vein, although without the muscle, as Zarkon the Wizard prepares to do magical battle with other wizards and demons in order to secure the top magical position in the district. I can't think of any other writer with the same style as this author; it's a kind of straight-talking Clark Ashton Smith, a down-the-pub Fritz Leiber. This is a fun easy-going fantasy which follows a theme present in much of Jonny's work; don't trust demons, they're naturally demonic and would just spit in your face if your arse was on fire. This is a fun little tale - perhaps not as filling as some of his other work - and it has Jonny's lighthearted style all over it. It has a great ending too. A little note - I found this was best to read as a PDF, as the formatting was a bit funny on my Kindle and Android phone.
  • The Last Fight of the Dwarves on Feb. 25, 2013

    This is solid - if a bit standard - heroic fantasty fare. A story - or rather a snapshot - of a dwarven army defending humans who are running away from a vast horde of nasty monsters. The story focuses in, too briefly, on three particular dwarves and quickly describes their fate in battle. I liked this. It's well written, the descriptions of the monsters are good [and bizarre], and I could see it happenning in my head, which is always a good sign. It was sort of good that it was short; there's barely a word wasted, but for overall story satisfaction I would have liked a bit more scope, a bit more information, unless this is just an excerpt from a longer work. But, tellingly, the story asked me questions that I wondered about afterwards, and I would read more of this story, both before and after this snapshot, if it were available. Generally very good, liked it.
  • The Curse of the Antiquus on Feb. 26, 2013

    This story reminded me very much of my own first few stories, both style and substance. The ancient curse amid Mayan myth and legend is prime material for a tale of the weird, and I see all sorts of Weird Tales-esque influences in here. The story is told well and the narrative, through the medium of a journal, is interesting to read. I thought the ultimate ending didn't quite fit; the modern-style end didn't quite gel with the more classic-weird narrative that went before it. I don't normally comment too much about spelling and grammar but I think it's worth pointing out here that, yes, there are various grammar, spelling and typo errors, but they are of a kind that do tend to appear in early pieces of writing. I imagine that, with more practice, these errors, and the incongruous ending, will iron themselves out in time. In the main, this was pretty good, and it certainly bodes well for the future. In his introduction to this story Ian Brunner says it is his first try at distributing a story; I would say to Ian, keep on writing, you've got something there. This is a three star story but I'm giving it an extra star for encouragement and goodwill.
  • Old Jack's Tale on March 02, 2013

    This was okay, but was nothing really new in the werewolf genre. Fairly well written, and a good idea, but I would have liked just a bit more originality to distinguish it from the hundreds of other werewolf stories out there. Not bad, but there are better examples of Walter Lazo's enjoyable work.
  • The Bequest; An Homage to H.P. Lovecraft on March 16, 2013

    This is an intelligently written and faithful pastiche of Lovecrafts work. When a man inherits a strange archaic coin he becomes obsessed with discovering from whence it came. Impressive vocabulary and authentic Lovecraft references keep the story going along, although I would have liked more of a "crowning horror" thing towards the end. I felt that the ending wasn't quite as horrific as it might have been. Nevertheless, this is a very good Lovecraftian story, yet further proof that his legacy of the Wierd Tale continues, and I would recommend this to any fan of the Wierd Tale.
  • Grylio on March 22, 2013

    I've always been interested in strange and mythical creatures and love ti read anything about them. I had encountered the grylio in books in the past but it is not widely known of. Great choice then for the first in this series. The writing is good, the setting purposely vague and its an enjoyable read. Only a very slight point but the story is near to being simply a fictional retread of the creature`s description. I would have liked to perhaps see a bit more scope in the story, but perhaps this will occur in the upcoming stories. Anyway, this is good. I look forward to reading more.
  • The Ghost Of A Chance on March 28, 2013

    This is a highly-enjoyable science-fiction story, and, I think, among my friend Jonny Strickland's best work. You may think me biased, reviewing the work of my friend, but I sincerely think this is very good stuff, and well deserving of your attention. A neolithic caveman-like people are struggling to survive in a world of hideous orks and wargs. But when some of the children begin to experience episodes of incoherence and babbling - perhaps posession - it seems that an old intelligence is striving to break through, and to help these people back on their road of evolution. This is a great story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It keeps its mystery throughout, and while answering its own questions, it poses more, about the nature and paradox of belief. It keeps you thinking after reading, and it lingers in the brain, in a classic science-fiction manner. I also personally think that this story shows some of the best writing that Jonny Strickland has yet produced, and each new tale I read, his prose and style are even more improved than the last. This is a great idea, in an over-populated sub-genre, and really stands out among the crowd. This story is a result of a conversation that Jonny Strickland and myself had [in the pub]. We were talking about ghosts and about writing, and Jonny suggested that we each try and write "an original ghost story", and have it completed, from scratch, in a couple of weeks. Jonny has done his idea proud with this story, while my own, UNCONTAINABLE, is not yet quite finished, and will be published here soon. THE GHOST OF A CHANCE is definitely well-worth a read to any science-fiction or fantasy fan; also, very nice cover, Jonny, although what it has to do with the story is debateable.
  • Corocotta on April 03, 2013

    I'm currently in the middle of reading a novel by a bestselling horror author and finding the writing to be thick, stodgy and difficult. Allison Grahams writing here is like a breath of fresh air. Very easy-to-read, clear, yet stylish writing, and enjoyable to read. The story concerns a Corocotta, a wolf-like creature of legend that I hadn't heard of before. This is well worth reading. One bit of constructive criticism to the author: the ending of the story lacked a bit of punch, perhaps the narrative could be made a little stronger. All in all, though, another good story about an unusual creature. Well worth reading.
  • Leaves of Autumn: A Short Horror on April 03, 2013

    This is an admirable flash-fiction story, about some ancient rustic terror nestling in dead leaves and insect rot. It features very good, clear writing and a strong central visual image that lingers in the brain. I think this is really good; in its short length it brings to mind Lovecraft, and, more especially, Thomas Ligotti and Clive Barker. If I had written this story myself, I would be very happy. I look forward to more from this author. Liam Barker's review at the bottom is too short to bother paying attention to.
  • Disciples of Oblivion on April 03, 2013

    I'm not really keen on vampires, in fact I hate the suckers; it's rare I read a vampire story, thery're all very similar. However, here Walter Lazo puts a science-fictional spin on his vampire, and uses the creature for a philosophical discussion on the nature of Evil. This is good, enjoyable with a satisfying ending, and the ideas, if not the style, pleasantly ereminded me of some of Clark Ashton Smiths stories.
  • Tooth & Claw on April 05, 2013

    This is a very well written story relating an incident from the life of a young ork. I will read more of this authors work.
  • Humans Can Lick, Too on April 08, 2013

    Ok so this was sort of fun but a bit rubbish at the same time. If there was a bit more flesh to the story, and a bit more care taken in the writing, this would make a decent 1000-word story. As it is, it is Punctuation Of The Dead, and some of it makes no sense; one minute the main character is sitting, clutching her dog, shivering in fear, but in a few moments she has happily nodded off. To be fair, Mr.Stoller, this is a little better than your other stories I have read; at least it has a kernel of an original use of a cliched idea, and, for once, there is a detailed [for Drac Von Stoller] gore description here. Now if only you could improve the pyschotic killer's description from just "an inmate". I can sort of see how reading Von Stoller's stories may become addictive, like picking your nose is addictive. But that 5 star review from Jonathan Strickland is bonkers.
  • The Unforgettable Names Of the Forgotten Gods on April 24, 2013

    First and foremost, this short free story is a fun and light-hearted mythological-type story, much like the ancient legends of the Greeks, Romans, Norse, or whatever, but laced with Jonny Strickland's black cynical humour. It deals with the attempts of one God to gain the upper hand in the constant struggle with all the other gods. Imagine a short story by Lord Dunsany, sprinkle in some Terry Pratchett, a bit of Monty Python, and a couple of lists from Dungeons and Dragons, and you have this interesting and amusingly-silly story. If you can imagine all that in a big smelly pot, then champion; if not, then just download this free story and have a little smile in your day. This story is perhaps a three star-story; it is not Jonny Strickland's best by a long shot, but is a funny and interesting read. However, I'm giving it four stars here to balance up the totally un-fair one-star review below. That one-star review mentions nothing at all about the quality of the story, but instead lingers on the technical aspects of the text. In this story there are occasional typo errors, or common misuses of pronouns, or whatever, but there are really not that many, and they are far less important than the mood and light-heartedness of the story. To give it a one-star review based purely on grammatical issues seems very unfair. This is a FREE story; the author went to the trouble of publishing it and making it free, so that anyone out there could give it a read and have a chuckle. Pedantic feedback is unhelpful for writers; take a star off for grammar, certainly, but to give one-star reviews with no mention of plot or story is doing a disservice both to the writer and to potential readers. If you are interested enough to visit this story's page and read this [very long] review, I simply reccomend you download this free story, give it a read, and make up your own mind.
  • It's Just a Job on April 28, 2013

    This well-written story is essentially a secret-laboratory-experiment-gone-wrong type of tale, but written from a fresh and interesting angle. It's certainly worth a read and it kept me interested when I was reading it late at night [no mean feat, 'cos I'm normally nodding off after a page or two]. The present-tense style of the story, which I don't generally like much, was actually alright and I thought it gave the writing a burst of urgency. I enjoyed reading this story, which is why I was a little disappointed with its resolution; I wanted more, I was interested in the questions that the narrator had asked. A sequel story, or extension could easily be appended to the conclusion. Perhaps now the photographer has been in to document the situation, the investigators could go and take a look. Endings are difficult; readers complain if you leave them too open and if you tie everything up nicely they say you leave nothing to the imagination. But the good thing with this story, Walter, is that I wanted more of it, and not less. Thanks, by the way, for all your kind reviews of my own work. They are much appreciated, and I'm glad you liked them.
  • Peace of Mind in The Garden on April 30, 2013

    Yeah, this was ok; "Be careful what you wish for" fiction, but nicely written, good ending. I was reading this with a certain growing expectation that the guy would go fruit-cake and slaughter everyone, but instead the quiet twist was more effective. Pretty good.
  • Crackly Bones on April 30, 2013
    (no rating)
    There's no rating here as this is not a proper review, although I will say this looks very interesting indeed. However, just wanted to let the authors know I looked at this on my Android Phone using Aldiko and the format didn't seem to work very well; it didn't look good on Aldiko. I will be downloading this to try on my Kindle, and will post a proper review in time.
  • The Old Mansion on May 02, 2013

    When three young kids head off to a scary mansion looking for elves, they witness something they had not expected. This is very well written, clear prose, and easy and enjoyable to read. I think it's also a great idea, in fact there's about three great ideas in here, but I would have to echo some of the other reviews here; up to the last hundred or so words, the story is great, but the ending lacks a punch. Any tension drains away by the uneventful climax, and what momentum has been built up is lost. It's a shame, as I really liked this, and think the ideas are fresh and have great potential. Walter, perhaps you could expand the ending; I can see many different directions this could go, and the idea and the quality of writing have the strength to make a top-class story, whatever length you would care to make it. Don't be put off by these slight criticisms of your endings; your writing and ideas are great!
  • Letters to a File on May 02, 2013

    This is a great story. To dwell on the plot too much would give the game away, and half of the pleasure of this story is the inevitable anticipation towards the ending. A woman of the near-future begins a new job and, through the years, as she is promoted through the ranks, her responsibilities become more troubling. This is pretty excellent, actually; I can barely fault it. The writing is crisp, stylish and intelligent, the story compelling and cleverly done, and the ending, though I was waiting for a familiar twist [although of what kind I wasn't sure], was perhaps more effective in its quiet mood and contemplation; not so much a twist but inevitable and satisfying, adhering to the internal logic of the story. This excellent tale has lingered in my brain. I look forward eagerly to reading more of James Hampton's work.
  • Bacon Double Cheesemurder on May 03, 2013

    This is an enjoyable little horror tale; a young woman stops for gas at a burger-joint on a lonely bit of highway and gets more than she bargained for. There is a sense of unease early on in the story, and David Blake builds on it, with the reader perhaps knowing what is going on before the protagonist Rochelle does. It reads well, is impeccably written [i've probably spelled impeccably wrong], is easy to read, and seems shorter than its length. I also liked how the author had handled the ending, and there are some very good visuals painted in the words. Very good, well worth a read for horror/serial killer fans. A bit of criticism; I thought it was all a bit familiar, similar to dozens of movies or serial killer novels. The characters were very well drawn but were stereotypes. It might have been more interesting for the family inside the burger-joint to have seemed normal and bright and helpful; it was all a bit expected. It may be a typical example of the sub-genre, the lonely-highway murderer, but it is a particularly well-done typical example. Not forgetting the excellent, striking title.
  • Strange Strangers on May 13, 2013

    This was pretty good, I liked it; a fun and entertaining little story, akin to watching a movie that makes you scream at the stupid characters, "Don't go in the bloody cellar you idiot, there's a mad axeman hiding under the stairs!" Mostly well-written, it could perhaps do with a tiny edit to clear up a few [mostly unimportant] typos. I also thought that the last couple of hundred words could be happily lopped off with no loss to the story, having it end with [without giving the twist away]: "...this very INSTANT!". In my lowly opinion, this would have made a punchier and more memorable end to the tale; most of what follows is just labouring the point. It is obvious from the cover [and the tags] that someone is a werewolf, so a good part of the surprise of the twist is lost. It then becomes a case of [because there are limited characters] Who Is The Werewolf? It is good that the story leads you to believe where the plot is going, then twists, but it is difficult with a short story to attain that surprise twist [with a novel it's a completely different kettle of haddock]. In one of my own stories the end-twist is that a guy is a zombie; the problem is that how do you get zombie-fans to read your story, without giving away or hinting at the ending, which in gimmicky-stories like mine and like Strange Strangers is the majority of the point. I was loathe to add "zombie" as a tag for my story, yet the people who might appreciate it most would not know that it had anything to do with zombies, whereas if I added zombie to the tags, then the reader would know pretty much straight-away what was going on and my surprise ending is ruined. The same sort of problem applies here to Strange Strangers, but I fully appreciate the puzzle of marketing your stories. Like a previous reviewer I did see a resemblance to Stephen King's story "Popsy", but more in the structure of the tale, not the plot. Anyway, sorry for the long [perhaps irrelavant] review; in summary, a good story, I enjoyed reading it.
  • In The Realm of the Wolf on May 15, 2013

    This is a highly imaginative self-contained and well-written story, that sets up a world and a mythology which could easily be explored in further stories or novels. I like the ideas in the story; it gives werewolf fiction a splash of the cosmic, and I can see hints of Clark Ashton Smith in the sheer imaginative vision of some sequences and some themes of Lovecraft in his sci-fi/fantasy guise. The interesting story has a werewolf hunter attempting to stop some wolf-chaos which was brought about by him seeing a vision of the great Wolf God, Dread Marduel. Walter Lazo is undoubtedly a clever guy, and there is much philosophy in here, much conversation on the nature of evil and the meaning of life. While this is intelligent, reasoned, and interesting, I do think there is too much of it in the story; I believe the story suffers in pace because of the philosophising. Certainly, I believe in getting a point or message across through fiction, but perhaps not in such large blocks as are here. The philosophising is deserving and well-articulated but I think a story that is ostensibly werewolf-fiction, is the wrong place for such detailed and sometimes over-my-head thinking, and it dulls the pace and tension. I am a big fan of Walter Lazo and his work, and wish here to give an honest opinion for him. The imagination and cosmic vision in here is fabulous, but I'm afraid, for me, the philosophy got in the way a bit and I felt I had some sections of heavy reading to get through in order to get to the goods. A personal opinion would be to write the philosophy [or most of it] into a different story or perhaps some non-fiction, and cut down the word-length here by a couple of thousand, making the good story that is buried here, stand out more and snap at the reader. I look forward to more of Walter Lazo's work.
  • Slocomb's Pond on May 22, 2013

    Well, James Hampton has bottled lightning at least twice. I really enjoyed his "Letters To A File" story, and chose "Slocombe's Pond" for my next read; again, what a great story. The tale consists of a group of kids - one of whom is the narrator - who are undergoing a rite of passage, an initiation into teenage-years, of spending some time standing, covered in animal blood and chicken guts, in Slocombe's Pond, a dark and scary place where people have dissapeared amid rumours of monsters. The story drew me in from the first few paragraphs, and I enjoyed reading the carefully-crafted prose. Earlier that day, I had once again found myself struggling to really get into a story I was reading, a story in a proper, published book. I often think it's me, that I'm not giving the story enough attention, that my mind's going fuzzy, that I'm losing the ability to visualise what I'm reading. But then when a story comes along such as "Slocombe's Pond" and reading becomes effortless and highly enjoyable, I thank writers like James Hampton for assuring me that I'm not losing my brain. There is no question this is a 5-star story. It's pretty long but never flags, is realistic, believable, full of mystery and has a satisfying ending. The stuff with the kids is evocative of Stephen Kings "It!" or "The Body", and the monsters are more credible for not being too outlandish. The writing is great; good easy-to-read prose which never breaks the hold on the story; one particular sentence, I liked, clever and well done was "Maybe one patch of forest at least was rooting for us to survive.", but to really understand what that's all about, you'd have to read the story. Just to be complete, there were one or two very minor niggles; at one point in the story there are seven characters in a scene, and they, only slightly, got a bit muddled in my head. And the title is great, I wouldn't change it, but sometimes I couldn't get out of my head the TV series "Are You Being Served", and thinking about Mrs. Slocombe's Pussy!!! [but that's probably just me] In short, I loved it and would reccomend it to everyone. I will be reading more of James Hampton's work when time allows.
  • First One There Dies on May 22, 2013

    This is a nice little science-fiction short. Reminded me very much of Arthur C Clarke's gentle-style short fiction. I more or less guessed the twist ending, but there were some nice touches here [I like the aliens' leading their sacrifice away by the hand]. Short and sweet but nicely done.
  • Splinter on May 28, 2013

    This very short story has good writing, but I found it too short to make much impact with the strong theme. When the ending came it merely confirmed the "twist" I'd already guessed, mostly from reading the description of the story. I would be interested to find out more about the characters, and the situation, and, indeed, what happenned next, but this piece on it's own seemed like it had been amputated and condensed from a larger plot. Good writing, though, so I will try another of the authors stories.
  • Moments In A Crowd on May 28, 2013

    Ok flash of sci-fi. When the sci-fi is introduced it's a good concept, a good paragraph. The problem with me with this kind of story is it's all very familiar, it's been done [with minor variations] quite a few times in film, TV and literature. Not bad, but not the authors best.
  • Crash Report on May 29, 2013

    Well put together, the references and jargon make it sound like a real report; the author seems to know what he's writing about. Unfortunately, I can't give it more than two stars; the "story" provided no more story than I got from the title and the cover. It's a fun idea, but that's what it remains, there is not enough of anything much here for a story. Perhaps it would work as a sort of weak joke, printed on personal Christmas cards, something like that. Ray Daley has produced much better work.
  • The Angry Vagabonds on May 29, 2013

    Not bad animal fantasy sort of thing. Well written, quite profound towards the end, and a bit more thoughtful than Ray Daley usually writes. I didn't love the story, but I did love this one line; "Can they bear to carry on, these simple carrion?" Ray Daley can obviously write, though I must admit, sometimes I enjoy his little Afterwords" more.
  • The Secret Weapon on May 29, 2013

    What was Sookie Stackhouse, the reviewer below, expecting? The story is 400 words long! This is ok, a quick jokey read. Ray Daley's very short stories are best read in clumps; they become more than the sum of their parts.
  • The Grandfather Army on May 29, 2013

    Slightly more substantial story here from super-short supremo Ray Daley. In a lingering interplanetary war, the recruits are by neccessity getting older. Perhaps the time has come for a grizzled Sargeant to re-evaluate the war that he and his race are fighting. This is good stuff, elementary science-fiction, but with heart, instead of just big guns and warp drives. Good imagination all frames the authors anti-war stance [on which I have to agree] and you can read between the lines [and the afterword] that this is a subject close to his heart. I thought the writing wasn't quite as good as in some of his other stories, and the narrative was a bit wandery, but this is enjoyable and satirical science-fiction. Good stuff.
  • The Mason Procedure on May 29, 2013

    I'm on a Ray Daley mini-marathon today. You've noticed, right? This story isn't one of my favourites but still an interesting idea. In space, loads of people die, but eventually someone has to come up with a life-saving procedure, surely? This is ok, a bit lacking in narrative drive for me, but not bad. I do appreciate Ray Daley's snapshots of the future, though. Try some yourself.
  • Come Find Me on May 30, 2013

    I've had this on my Kindle for ages, and only just got round to reading it. Krysteen Damon is a promising writer, and this isn't a bad little ghost story at all. The writing is good, if a little inconsistent, and I was confused on occasion as to who was speaking. I wasn't keen on the ending, but at least there was an ending, and generally, this is enjoyable and bodes well for the future. I have to have a word on David Blake's review below; while he is generally correct in what he's saying, sometimes it comes across as a bit too harsh; I wouldn't take it all too much to heart. He's a tough reviewer and says as he finds, and in truth, he'll be totally honest about your story and can only help you improve it. Krysteen, this story was ok, and I look forward to "The Intruder" or anything else you might put up here.
  • Ya Can't Catch A Kipper With A Spider on June 11, 2013

    Wherever the gentleman is from, he's a great and highly entertaining narrator; kind of arrogant and full of -isms, he's sizeist, sexist, everything-ist but is a fascinating voice. This story is really good, and you'll laugh while reading it; an anecdote in the life of a slimy New York-ish [yet Northern England] private detective, explaining how his life is full of peril. People are always trying to kill him. The tale is funny and wise and has a bizarre afterword. You never know what sort of story you are going to get with Jonny Strickland, but you are always guaranteed a good time reading it. Incidentally, this was the result of another of our story challenge things from ten years ago or so. The categories went something like this; crime story, revenge, real ale, and a Chilean Rose Tarantula. We usually did our stories in one week so Jonny came up with this, from those categories in only one week. Great stuff, eh? My own story within these parameters was a murder mystery, but where the tarantula was the one that was killed. I wrote myself into a corner though and I have never finished it. I would enjoy more stories told by Kirk the Kipper. Jonny?
  • You Are The Monster on June 19, 2013

    Striking title and a cool inventive little story; the author takes a tricky present-tense writing style and makes it compelling by making the reader the monster. The whole story is enticing and reminiscent of the adventure-game books that Jonny mentions in his enjoyable afterword, but the ending is unexpected and, I thought, very clever, giving a fresh new angle on the subject. I've talked to the author at length about adventure game books; I came to the Lone Wolf books first [through a junior-school teacher] but soon started collecting the Fighting Fantasies, so beloved of children and teens in the 80's and 90's. This story is a very afectionate tribute and has impelled me to find "Creature Of Havoc" from my shelves; I'm playing it now and it's great how- -- Oh bugger, I've just been eaten by a Clawbeast!
  • We Who Embrace The Night on June 19, 2013

    This is a thoughtful little story contemplating choices, death, and scary shadowy figures from other dimensions. Very well-written, and intiguing; my only criticism would be it is too short; I would like to know more about the Bringer, and why he needs to Bring. Give it a read.
  • You Need a Little Work on June 25, 2013

    Short, sharp little tail; I quite liked it. Light-humoured and well-written in a chatty stream-of-consciousness style. If you think you hate your dentist, at least he's not plain weird...
  • Facing Death on June 25, 2013

    Really good story! I read this story this afternoon in the pub on my Kindle, and when I have just sat down to review it at home, I notice David Blake has given a very favourable review to my own story "Blue" [and I feel quite honoured to get five stars]. Now, its going to sound like we are doing each other literary favours, but that is really not the case, its simply one of those weird synchronous events. I really enjoyed Facing Death. It's a story of facing the Germans across the trenches, and about the mad fear and senselessness of it all. And when something unexpected and inexplicable occurs, it is both frightening for the characters and yet strangely uplifting. This is a really good story, perhaps the best I have yet read by David Blake. It is impeccably written, very visual, very atmospheric in its description of trench warfare, and highly absorbing. The ending, especially the effect upon the Sargeant character, is satisfying, realistic, and has quite deep context if you think about it. I can think of no good reason to not give this a five star review. [Normally I wouldn't mention typos, but I think Mr Blake would appreciate this; "Sargeant Clinch remained where he was, with his back us, but his head bowed."; small error missing the word "to", I presume; NOTE TO SMASHWORDS; authors giving criticism and especially typo information to other authors is dertrimental in reviews; there should be a better forum structure within smashwords where authors can communicate with each other, without the need of having to communicate within their own or someone elses reviews.] This is a fine, expertly-crafted and gently haunting story; give it a read.
  • Old Shock on July 03, 2013

    I've always been interested in stories of Black Shuck, Old Shock, Padfoot, Barghest, whatever, the phantom demon dog of lonely places. So when I saw this story I had to have a read; I'm pleased I did. It's a very good story, mostly well-written, with solid well-built characters. The story seems to be taking a while to get to the point, but this is largely character building; when the finale does come however, it's completely original and unexpected and quite brilliant. OLD SHOCK is a 4 and a half star story, but I can't give it that, so I'm making it five. I also had a look at the authors blogspot page, which is really good, giving East Anglia a mysterious atmosphere and showcasing some really beautiful photographs.
  • The Star Creature on July 03, 2013

    I can only really echo what the other reviewers have said about this flash sci-fi story. It's beautifully written, flawlessly executed, and provides all the information in a natural, easy style. Full of atmosphere and pathos; excellent, perhaps the best flash fiction I have read. This story proves three things; 1) the author, Kevin Lyons is an excellent writer; 2) fiction that is FREE on smashwords can be of the highest standard in quality. Just because its free, doesn't mean its worthless. 3) literary types, and the literature establishment looks down snootily on genre fiction, sci-fi, horror, romance, etc; they are wrong! This story is fantastic literature. Excellent story, very worthy of five minutes of your time. -- Oh, and 4) don't judge a story by its iffy cover image!
  • Mistaking the Dragon Mage on July 03, 2013

    Good fantasy short. A Dragon-Mage is not what he appears to be. Like Jonny Strickland says in his review, there should be more free sword and sorcery-type stuff on smashwords.
  • Close on July 10, 2013

    This flash fiction tells of an angry guy. He's out for revenge on his ex. In a lightning storm. It's all a bit cliched, really; only the [predictable] ending saves the story from total mediocrity. A different twist on the events would have been welcome. I had a few issues with the writing, and the story could do with a polish. I wish the author well, though, and am sure his writing will improve with time.
  • Cheshire on July 10, 2013

    I took a chance with this story; a little more detail in the description would be nice and would certainly encourage more readers. The short flash tale, in the form of an advert, is a sci-fi satire on the future, and is surprisingly fairly good. I'd reccomend it for a quick read, but I would urge the author to provide a more detailed description, or its likely you won't find many readers.
  • Claude The Unhappy Caterpillar/Popo The Cheeky Monkey/Sselmorg The Fire Breathing Dragon on July 12, 2013

    Firstly I hope this review comes through because Smashwords has gone peculiar today. Which brings me on to Jonny's new story; in a previous review I accused Jonny Strickland of being bonkers, well here is the proof [if any were needed!]. Claude The Unhappy Caterpillar [etc], is silly, funny, and very bizarre, and an enjoyable easy light read. However, it actually has, I think, an interesting thing to say about the writing process; what would happen if the characters in a story didn't agree with their author? What if a caterpillar wanted to be a monkey? Why do a princess' breasts constantly bounce up and down? Got you thinking, hasn't it...? This story [like Smashwords Writers Duel] has been written specifically for smashwords and is very self-aware and contains certain truths about the whole writing/smashwords process [such as why most people only get three reviews]. It's fresh and funny, irreverent [as usual] and self-deprecating and captures fully the personality of the author. In fact there's loads of the author in this work, really quite literally. For a different and amusing spin on the writing process, a swear-laden kick up the bottom for fantasy stories, a look into the authors spongy beer-addled brain, or just a funny, laugh out loud bit of fluff, give the story a spin. I laughed myself sober reading it, and so might you [if you've had a drink, obviously.] P.S. There are a few typing errors in here, but they are largely irrelavent in a story about an argumentative monkey!
  • Journal of Decline - A Post Apocalyptic Life on July 12, 2013

    After an unspecified apocalypse, a mother and her daughter remain alive. The story is the mothers journal, as she ponders on life, existence and the future, as well as a slow decline into madness and suicide. This is a downbeat but enjoyable story; I've always enjoyed stories told in letters or journals. This is moving, thoughtful, and well-written [apart from the second sentence, which I didn't understand!], and, while not terribly original, gives a good personal spin on the post-apocalypse diary. Worth a read, from an interesting British author.
  • Tiffany on July 23, 2013

    David Blake clearly takes great care with his writing; the quality of prose here is of the usual immaculate standard. A short story concerning a romantic and sensual meeting, I thought it was going to go down the standard ghost type of twist, but actually the surprise ending surprised me. A good solid story; perhaps not Blake's best work, but very indicative of his style and quality.
  • Lost Souls on July 23, 2013

    Again, the writing here is very good, amid an ambiguous story of a meeting in a lonely church. The tale leaves you asking questions as to what has happenned; not always a good thing, but here for the right reasons. It's very readable, interesting, and at one point I thought it was going to slide into blasphemous erotica [Blake's story "Tiffany" also lingers on the cusp of erotica]. Good story, worth a read. To be a pedant, I noticed a "hear" instead of "here", a mere typing error really and an unusual error in Blake's work, and at one point, the girl says "Still, it's rather late.." and this tiny little bit of dialogue ["rather"] seemed out of character for her.
  • On Full Moon Night on July 25, 2013

    I liked this. I'm not a great fan of poetry, but this - about a werewolf kill - is easy-going, no pretention, simple rhythm, and it conjures up - with few words - a reasonable atmosphere of the stalking wolf. Good show. Rik Hunik seems to have some interesting stories at smashwords, and mostly free; this is to be applauded; lots of authors, who have tasted less success than Rik Hunik, have simply seen the e-publishing route as dollar signs, without bothering to hone their writing. I intend to read more of Hunik's work; his list of tales certainly invokes imagination.
  • Dog Food on Aug. 08, 2013

    This was a fun read; dogs go mental and begin their takeover of the planet. One problem though; who would open all their tins of Pedigree Chum? A good quick read, but I wasn't keen on the last section, the explanation; this could have been subtly woven throughout the narrative for an all-round better story and a bit of ambiguity. Nice idea, though.
  • Wishful Thinking on Aug. 08, 2013

    I have read the introductions of this man and wife writing team on their Smashwords page. They seem to be a really nice, likeable couple who are finding some great success with their writing. I also applaud that [so far] they are keeping their popular Amanda Ackers novels free; it is a brave decision in this money-oriented world. However, I have to be honest about this story. It's fairly well-written, and gets the narrative across, but I found the story horribly cliched from the very beginning. From the first couple of lines I sensed where it was going, and there was no further twist or unexpected ending. The story would perhaps work better for younger readers. This is not a nasty review, just an honest one, and I pass best wishes for the future to these likeable authors.
  • Winter Cat on Aug. 08, 2013

    This is very good, yet more proof that there is great writing published for free at Smashwords. The simple but poignant story tells of a winter cat, a lynx, lonely, hungry, tired, and how it connects with its natural surroundings, having an inspirational vision in the aurora. Really quite beautiful; reading this, I wished I was there, in that forest, trees glistening with snow, reflecting the dancing light across the sky. Excellent writing [bar the occasional typo], a prose-style gentle and natural, reminded me of Ray Bradbury; an emotive look into the winter cat's thoughts and history. Very good, this would stand up very well to repeated readings, and would work well read aloud.
  • Present Company (Flash Fiction / Short Story) on Aug. 08, 2013

    This is well-written, compelling and intriguing, but the ending disappointed me a little, being really just a [good] teaser for a longer work, and lacking closure or punch at the end. Not bad, though, but not really a true self-contained "flash-fiction".
  • Black Box on Aug. 09, 2013

    This contains a nice idea, but seeing as the idea is really the story, i won't tell you it here. Take a couple of minutes to read this; it's sort of fantasy science-fiction, and manages to make an impression in few words. Not the greatest writing in the world, but this was good, worth a read.
  • Black Box on Aug. 09, 2013
    (no rating)
    And the cover looks great on my kindle.
  • Dehydration on Aug. 09, 2013

    A contagion has swept through the worlds water, rendering it poisonous. The population falls to anarchy, as people die - fast or slow. The narrator is contemplating his future - fast or slow? This was good, nice concept SF, with mostly good writing and an interesting narrative, and a faintly original plot. Worth a read, this could easily be extended to a longer piece or a novel.
  • Free Writer on Aug. 09, 2013

    This had some interesting things to say about writers and publishing, usually in an ironic way. Is it saying that publishers are vampires, sucking creativity out of people and shaping it to their own needs? Maybe. It's a fun read; clearly the author is as sick of Paranormal Romance as I am, but surely the point of this tale, is that, nowadays, every writer can be a "free writer" and write and publish whatever they wish, even if its Daddy Porn [how can there be such a large interest in this??]. I thought the story lacked a bit of focus, but was enjoyable and thought-provoking; I love anything about writing and writers [try Smashwords Writers Duel by Jonathan Strickland!]
  • Paper Ghosts on Aug. 28, 2013

    This is a sort of small collection of pieces of writing, cleverly presented in the form of an LP album; all the pieces are well-written and I give especial credit to the different viewpoints, characters and styles presented here. All of the writing seems \to hang around music in some way, indie, growing up, meaningful music - the kind that you listen to on a loop when a relationship ends, the kind you can find solace in. Therefore a well-evoked\ atmosphere shines through the writing; and this is the point, I think, that rather than a strict linear story, as such, these are pieces to touch you in certain ways; the tracks or stories might not always grab you, but the album as a whole makes an impression of what the author wanted to say. Some good snapshot visuals, and a nostalgic atmosphere give this points in my book. For the authors attention, my favourites here were towards the end, 'Max And Sally' and 'Pen And paper Girl'. Enjoyable real-life stuff, the atmosphere is of a certain time, a certain place. I'm a big suede fan, and i'd liken the feeling here to much of their work. Good stuff; what's next?
  • Toy Garden on Aug. 29, 2013

    Good flash-fiction with an ending I only half-guessed; however I would be interested to read the forthcoming stories to learn more about the time and place they are set, and the main character here. I did have an issue with some of the writing; I think it could be tightened, tidied up. At one point, nearly every sentence was 'She did this' or 'She did that'. Interesting idea, maybe develop the style a bit.
  • Letting Go on Aug. 29, 2013

    Very good writing here, I thought; it creates a strong visual image for the reader. It's a good snapshot as such, but not much of a story, more a piece of writing and it has some pathos to it. However, even though it is pretty good stuff, it would be much more powerful and have more point if we knew and cared about this character; if this was a section in a longer work, it would have more meaning. I'm sure many people write things like this, at a certain stage of their lives; a great way for self-therapy, but not always the best thing to share with others. I would have liked it more had it been in a better fictional context. I enjoyed the writing though.
  • Slither on Aug. 29, 2013

    Firstly; good cover, simple and striking, I liked it. Unfortunately, I wasn't as keen on the story, but urge readers to take a look at it anyway, to make up their own minds. This review then is really just for the authors attention, in a hope that constructive criticism might help him improve. To people who haven't read the story, this review contains SPOILERS. The idea itself, strange snake creature in a cave, is fine, great, no problem with that. I liked also the mention of a long history of oral legends of the thing, and how it would be cool if a TV investigation show came to town to take a look. Perhaps if the story had gone down this route, it might have been more interesting. Let's be honest, the writing's not great, all over the place. Odd Capital Letters all over the place put me off, as did the all-over-the-place narrative. The detailed description of the truck drive and of the layout of the lumber-yard is just not necessary and it confuses the reader and diverts attention from the story. Neither do you really need the detail about the guy's friend fancying his sister; this is an okay bit of detail, but because it's not picked up on or expanded on in any way, it's all irrelevant to the story. You could have used those words to describe some of the past encounters with the creature; instead of just going to a lumber-yard, your characters could have gone to the cave and done their own investigation, like on the TV. Your ending; 'it was a dream' was getting a bit overused a century ago, but never mind, it's overused because it's a classic ending and can still have legs if done well. What the problem was, is that the waking from the dream, the realisation that it WAS a dream, WAS your ending. There was no need to describe the entirely-normal journey back home again; doing this makes your story dribble to the finish, instead of ending on a punch. Don't take this review to heart and curse my name, it's meant as advice. I know it sounds pretentious and like a school-teacher, but I'd really like to see this story again, maybe taking on board the advice from these reviews here. Anyway, thanks for sharing, and I'll look out for more things in the future.
  • The Little People on Aug. 29, 2013

    This was a great little find. Around dusk, the narrator heads out into the Wicklow mountains to check on the condition of the body of his best friend he has just killed and hidden away. He's scared it'll be discovered, scared of the consequences, scared of the police. Really, he should be scared of the little people... This was great stuff; good writing, perfectly constructed, fascinating insight into Ireland's hidden denizens of the hills. Reminiscent of Arthur Machen, I really enjoyed this and will be reading more of the authors work. I do hope he is still active on smashwords.
  • Breakthrough on Aug. 29, 2013

    Excellent short-story, told through different forms of media, concerning the experiments of the CERN Giant Hadron Collider in the near future. The idea is sort-of familiar, reminiscent of golden-age science-fiction, with a splash of [but not the style of] Lovecraft. The idea builds, and throughout the tale, it becomes increasingly inevitable what the ending will be. But the story is written with such gusto and authority and sense-of-reality, that it convinces with its techno-babble, and does its job admirably. In short, excellent. Loved it.
  • The Towering Inferno Versus The Mighty Quinn on Sep. 01, 2013

    "What are you" asked Mandy. "Are you the devil?" "Just part of him, baby, just part of him", the creature said as it closed in for the kill.' THE TOWERING INFERNO VS THE MIGHTY QUINN is yet another enjoyable tale from Jonathan Strickland, this time utilizing lap dancers and demons. Stripper Mandy Quinn is understandably surprised when a huge fire demon breaks through the floor of the club where she works... and that's just on the first page. A great idea here, with the author's trademark maniacal psychotic demon bursting out of the page as well as the strip club floor. This is very good, very enjoyable, and I give it only four stars simply because it is not quite as excellent as some of Jonny's other early work like the CURSE OF THE COWBOY and BATTLE FOR THE FLESH. If you're reading this review and wondering whether to give it a read, then I heartily insist you to do so - it's free and a writer as good as Jonathan Strickland deserves much wider exposure.
  • Isaac's Bible (a flash fiction story) on Sep. 17, 2013

    This is an interesting idea - children are going missing every 55.5 years, which is every 666 moons. A local sheriff discovers this is down to the [cool-named] Madame Sanguinous. However, I wasn't convinced by the writing; the sentence-structure was a bit clunky, and the grammar was a bit off. Several times I had to re-read phrases to understand them, "dark skinned child" in particular has a different meaning if you don't hyphenate. But this wasn't bad, and I liked the description of the swampfire in the mangroves. [A really pedantic point; technically a moon cycle lasts 28 - 29.5 days, so there are 13 moon cycles per year. This makes the time-frame here of 666 moons corresponding with 55.5 years a bit off; it would be nearer to 51 years. But this is Smashwords and not Smashastromathematics!] Not bad.
  • Botched: A Tale of Taloria on Sep. 17, 2013

    This was okay - a lightly humorous fantasy story about a knight with good intentions but who should probably do a bit more research into his heroic adventures. This was a little predictable, but generally a fun read, a bit silly, sort of Prattchett or Monty Python feel about it. Not bad at all for flash fantasy.
  • Slipped: A Short Story on Sep. 17, 2013

    I really liked this. Simply written but understated and compelling, it describes the journey of a guy who has "slipped" off the Earth and is floating outwards through space. A few spelling mistakes aside, I loved the easy writing, great sentences like this: "Dry river beds ran over the desert surface, like wrinkles on an old face." There follows some great, concise, and very accurate descriptions of the planets. The whole thing reminded me of the scientific clarity of Arthur C Clarke, but also the sense of the cosmic vastness of space, found in writers like William Hope Hodgson and H.P.Lovecraft. As my friend Jonathan Strickland reccommended this to me, I reccommend it on to others. Very good, this one stayed with me for a while after reading it.
  • Isaac's Bible (a flash fiction story) on Sep. 19, 2013
    (no rating)
    Just an addendum to my review below; Sherry Donacy has taken note of some of my comments and implemented them into a new version of her story. To me, that is a sign of a serious writer, who takes on board constructive criticism, and uses it in their writing. Also, on a personal note, I gave Sherry's story a three-star review, and she promptly reviewed one of my own stories, giving it a fantastic five stars. It would have been easy, in that position, to have reviewed my work with bias, which Sherry, professionally, has not done. Many authors often reward a poor or average review with a poor or average review, no matter the quality of the work. So Isaacs Bible is still a three star story [but with corrections], but from a five star author. Welcome to smashwords, Sherry, and I look forward to reading more of your work.
  • The Ancient eBook Reader on Sep. 19, 2013

    A very short but interesting flash science-fiction, about an education class of the future being told about an antique item from the past, an eBook reader. A little flash into the future, here, which is always fun to read. Good ideas and writing, but I would have liked this a touch longer. Addendum:- I read it on my Android Phone!
  • A Week And A Day In The Lives Of Two Angry Young Men on Sep. 24, 2013

    This fun story was created in one of our writing challenges in 2002. A small group of friends and writers each suggested various themes or topics for short stories, and then each week some were randomly chosen for that weeks challenge. Thus, that particular week, we each had to write a short story [in 7 days] containing the following elements; A wooden spoon; the emotion of Envy; it had to be in a Diary or Journal format; and had to have elements of humour. I myself wrote a silly story, A Greasy Spoon Life [shameless plug: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/330510 ] and Jonny produced this clever tale. Jonny's story tells of two school rivals, meeting up again for a cookery competition. Whereas one of the characters has chilled out and grown up, the other has let the old rivalry smoulder in him through the years, he is bitter and twisted, and wants revenge. A simple innocent schoolyard rivalry has dominated and obsessed this character's life; a clever way of saying, through a funny story, how certain events, trivial though they may seem to others, can fester and take on massive importance to some people. So this story, I think, has a serious undertone but is also a light and fluffy read, amusing and increasingly vulgar. A few typo's aside, this is another off-the-ball and enjoyable story by Strickland, whose tales are always full of excellent characters who you don't want to meet in the pub.
  • Spellbound: A Tale of Taloria on Sep. 24, 2013

    Good little fantasy story here. Reader-friendly prose, and interesting ideas produce another glance at the authors fantasy world. Enjoyable and worth reading. My only criticism would be that as the story goes on there is a creeping inevitability about the conclusion, and I was expecting a small twist in the tale which never came. Never mind. Good story.
  • Mortal Hobby on Oct. 03, 2013

    A serial killer is viciously raping and murdering young women. The author looks through the perspective of the killer, and of the victims, and while it is an enjoyable [sort of] and realistic read, I think it needs much more detail to properly do its work and get under the readers' skin. The writing shows promise, but could do with an edit, snipping some little bits out, and putting some more detailed bits in. Interesting; good title.
  • Beyond The Fence on Oct. 03, 2013

    A quick flash horror fiction here. Well-told story in 500 or so words, fairly mundane horror plot, but well encapsulated and written. Following the advice in the reviews below; I would have liked line-breaks between the paragraphs. It looks better and is easier to read. And your cover is fine, but if you're aiming for the premium catalog, it looks the wrong shape to me [needs to be 2400 x 1600 pixels]. Welcome to Smashwords.
  • A Halo Too Deep (a flash fiction story) on Oct. 03, 2013

    Firstly, this was a very well presented e-book, attractive font, pleasant to read. The story, too, is good, drawing on Greek mythology and the insecurities of adolescence. The writing is for the most part very good; this quick tale is worth five minutes of your time. And now for the annoying, pedantic [but hopefully helpful] constructive criticism for the authoress; "swimming passed the buoys" etc should clearly be "past the buoys"; just a little error that makes it through a spellchecker. The other thing was, I thought there was a bit too much of "Billy did this..", "Billy did that...". In the second half of the story there were no other male characters so you could chuck a few "Billy's" out and just put "He.", so as to make the prose less repetitive. But generally, good solid story. I look forward to more.
  • A Heart In Autumn on Oct. 03, 2013

    Less a complete story, more of a snapshot into a life, this features very good writing and a well-weaved atmosphere of melancholy.
  • Cannibal Lovers (a flash fiction story) on Oct. 09, 2013

    I'm not a big poetry or prose poem fan, so am not the best person to review this really. However, the piece and its afterword taken together form an interesting writing experiment; the author seems to have set herself a tricky challenge, and the results are, in the main, good. A strong, otherwordly voice is created through the writing, and an atmosphere is built. Personally, I didn't get much out of the content, but I did enjoy the writing; it shows imagination and flair. And I always love Afterwords. Despite its brevity and non-narrative, this is still better than many.
  • Crimson Veil on Oct. 10, 2013

    This is a very good short story, in the Supernatural Romance category that is popular of late. Tod is into all things Occult, and he's been after a virgin so he can make a deal with a demon... This story and its twist has been plenty before, but Sherry Donacy has given it her own spin. The writing is fresh and spunky, the dialogue realistic [proper American Teenager dialogue; it reminded me of Richard Laymon], and the story itself is perfectly constructed; not a paragraph is wasted. This is coherent, logical, and believable stuff; I liked it a lot. I think this is the best story I've yet read by Sherry Donacy.
  • The Medusa on Oct. 31, 2013

    It's always good to read a story by Walter Lazo, and I just realised I had missed this one, about a group of american teens who have an odd encounter with the titular snake-haired monstress. There is good writing here, good description, and I found it easy and compelling to read. The relationships and dialogue between the annoying teenagers was very realistic, and it reminded me very much of Richard Laymon's writing. The five or six characters are introduced to the reader all at once, and I got a little confused remembering who was who; they were largely just a group of teens. But any writer knows how difficult it is to write a multi-character scene, and this one's not bad. Lazo's imagination is strong, and while the Medusa herself is fairly standard, the descriptions of her recent and ancient victims is very imaginative. I also love personally the drawings, carvings described; there's a huge toad-thing that reminded me much of Tsathoggua; love it! Lazo finishes well, with pace, and, although the story comes to a conclusion, he leaves it open for a possible sequel. This was fun to read, and I enjoyed it. It's been a while since we had a new story on Smashwords, Walter? I always look forward to reading your work.
  • Green Eyes on Nov. 07, 2013

    Another solid well-written story by Hunik, about a cat-hating guy who gets his just desserts. The author is obviously a cat lover [from his profile], and that would make this a bit of a wrenching story to write. I think, for a little flash fiction, it succeeds really well, and the ending was a moderate surprise to me. Good stuff. Rik Hunik's work here looks very diverse and interesting, and I will be reading more of his writing soon.
  • Reality Check on Nov. 07, 2013

    A clever story about the nature of reality. Well-written and well constructed, this is worth ten minutes of your time.
  • Dumping Ground on Nov. 07, 2013

    Very fast and modern Lovecraftian tale, but with pace and clipped precise prose that is far from Lovecraft's wordy style. Very good, perhaps a little too clipped in places, but well worth a quick read. Because I'm a huge Lovecraft fan, and because the story deserves it, I'm going for a very good four stars. And the stars are right...
  • Anniversary on Nov. 14, 2013

    Jeff McDaaarrggh! There's a decent little story here, about a man murdering his wife, and some good lines of writing and sense of description. However, it reads very much, and increasingly as it goes on, like a first draft. I try my hardest not to harp on about spelling and the use of homonyms and such, but here I found it to be defiantly distracting. The errors are frequent and are quite common basic problems. I am all for the story first, and a few mistakes are par for the course, but I really felt here, they kicked my teeth in a bit. I'm not gonna list all the errors and stuff [but if the author wants to get in touch somehow, I will point them out], but generally it needs a good going-over with a keen eye. My advice to the author, because this story is okay, not bad of its type, is to give it a second or third draft, listen to people's comments, and keep writing, especially stories about pyschopathic killers. That should do the trick.
  • In the Woods on Nov. 20, 2013

    Very short piece; flash flash fiction, about a flight from pursuit in the woods. There is a sense of good writing here, but this comes across as a poor translation; the author is Spanish, and I suspect there is much of the original lost in its translation to English. I think this authors works would be much better and much clearer, in his first language.
  • It Was the Night Before Christmas and All Through The House Not a Creature Was Stirring... Except For The Zombie on Jan. 09, 2014

    I'm a bit late reading this now but never mind. Bob works as a department store Santa, and he's having a grumpy time. Bad luck, Bob, things will get worse as it's the Night Of The Living Dead as well. Oh dear. This is a decent little story, good writing [could use another proof-read], and generally was better than I thought it was going to be. Nothing hugely original but it had a spark of undead life...if you see what I mean. Last point; wasn't keen on the title [though I've done something similar myself].
  • Twas The Bite Before Christmas on Jan. 09, 2014

    This is perhaps the least-worst story of von Stoller's I have read. Santa meets Drac von Stoller; that's essentially it. To be fair, the writing is a little better than I remember and the story might be good for reading out to small, nervous, pale, poorly kids who don't get out much.
  • Jacob's Closet on Jan. 16, 2014

    This is a pretty good story, about a cursed house, missing people, and a mysterious darkness, that comes complete with a twisty horror-film-style ending, and is worth ten minutes of your time. Jeff, the story, structure, character, pace and really everything technical to do with narrative are all good things here. But I get the impression that you're hurrying through the writing; don't get me wrong there are some great turns of phrase here, I was impressed on a few occasions by the style and choice of words ["Morning, like Autumn, had come too early." for example]. The story as a whole just needs a general health check-up; add a comma here, spellcheck-there, a few Capitalizations on names, that kind of thing, just a little edit to make it shine. But, just one thing, if nothing else, you're still using the word "defiantly" [as in, with defiance], when you mean "definitely" [as in, for sure], and when I was reading your intriguing and mysterious storyline, these mis-words threw me out of the story. Generally, this is great stuff Jeff, keep it up, but go over your stories with a spit and polish to make them gleam.
  • Love & Secrets on Jan. 16, 2014

    I think this is your best work yet, Jeff. I was engrossed in the first half, these people, you made them real, the situation beautiful and terrible at the same time. And the twist towards the end, what is discovered in the house, is indeed a twist, unexpected, so much so that I covered up a few sentences with my hand so as not to spoil it for myself. Excellent stuff, and I,m sensing another improvement in your writing. There are still one or two little things that could be tidied [there's an interesting spelling of 'seconds' for instance], but I can see you're working on it. And also [it almost seemed especially for me] in the very last line, you have the correct spelling of 'definitely' which cheered up my day no end. Is this Maple Drive idea gonna run, Jeff? Must admit, I'm getting interested.
  • The Fire Witch on Jan. 16, 2014

    I quite liked this, not bad writing, in a story of a revenge from beyond the grave. The power here is of the images, strong and graphic, it's a very visual story. I also admire Joe Zito's ethic; his work on here will be free, to get it read, offer it to the world. This story is more proof that just because something is free it is not worthless. Good stuff.
  • The Beast of Exmoor on Jan. 24, 2014

    I've always been fascinated by The Beast Of Exmoor and similar Alien Big Cats, large out-of-place felines that wander the British countryside, so when I saw the title of this free story, I obviously had to check it out. It comes in the middle of a series about Sir Differel van Helsing, descendant of King Arthur, and a member of a monster-hunting team. The stories seem to be set in a slightly alternative-universe, and the hints and teasers throughout this story did make me wonder about the rest of the series, which is good. This particular story deals with an attempt to catch the titular Beast, although Sir Differel [a woman] discovers that the term Alien Big Cats is about exactly right... This was good stuff, and although it didn't grip me, it kept me reading and interested. The writing is good [occasionally there seems to be a misplaced word or a word missing], the ideas are interesting, and it ends in a self-contained way, but passing heavy hints at a future story. All in all, an enjoyable read, and I'll check out more of his work. A note on the story's length; the actual story takes up only around 40% of the download, so when it says 22,000 words, this story is probably only about 9 or 10,000 words. This is still a considerable size, and thanks for it being free, but I would take this into consideration if downloading any of the other stories, as it is likely the same deal; I would roughly half the wordcount. Good reading, though. Alien Big Cats
  • 26 Minds on Standby on Jan. 30, 2014

    If you've ever downloaded and enjoyed a story by this author before, then you're gonna love this; a pure fun, clever, self-aware, irreverent and genius festival of Strickland. It's a great twist on all your favourite but overdone genres; 26 Minds On Standby gives them all a hefty swift kick up the jacksy. First of all I really loved it, I think we should all try and find a pub like this! Its typical of Strickland's writing and I read it smiling like a fool, and laughing out loud at much of it. It's starts off fairly straight, then gets unclassifiable; it's a bit crime-y, serial killer, then a bit horror, and lots of different sorts of fantasy; all humour, all singing and dancing. It's a stonking new idea; take 26 pieces of inter-related flash fiction, all concerning characters in a public house, and read them in any order you wish to. There are many revelations and surprises within the story, and these are revealed at different times depending on the order you read them. Don't be put off by the long length; perhaps read one piece a day, I practically guarantee you'll read more. As well as being a great narrative with enough ideas and plot strands to fill four or five novels, it has the quality of very self-aware metafiction; the story knows you are reading it, and the author knows he is writing it; I dare bet lots of invisible money that you've never read a story quite like this one. I read it straight through like a normal story, and I think it all progresses really well, it has a great sense of flow with each piece seguing nicely into the next. Then, a bit later, I read it through more randomly, and it's great how different things get you at different times. There are different literary tricks here, multiple narrative voices with their own distinct colloqialisms. In each piece [and the whole] there are several gems of writing, some truism, or irony, or funny humour, or just some dynamic plot turn. My favorite bits were most of it; all very compelling ["I'll just read one more part!"], but especially the Ark Angel Ronalds Quest For Alcohol and The Ultimate Atheist [These two bits are brilliant!] the Shock Horror Thing, the genius baby, the bar staff all trying to murder each other, archie the rat, the serial killer, Kirk the Kipper and Mandy Quinn. Occasionally it gets a bit bizarro, a genre-shagging mix-up of all sorts of things, a funny sort of story, a story to have a good time with instead of one to do your head in. Basically, it's a Jonny Strickland Mega Mix; love it. I've waffled on too long about this excellent piece of writing; basically, I'm a bit jealous. I wish I'd written it first!
  • Stuck in the Middle on Feb. 06, 2014

    Writing with heart and a nice piece; a lady cyclist finishes a long ride by coasting into New Orleans, where the city teases at her inhibitions. The author tackles tricky subjects in a short space of words, and creates a positive viibe on the pyschological recovery from illness. Good stuff, an author to watch.
  • The Unnamed on Feb. 06, 2014

    What's going on with this freakin' closet? Some strange stuff indeed, and weird horror in this latest Jeff McDargh story, another peek into his cycle of Maple Drive stories. I liked the stuff with the beast, and especially liked the influx of spiders, eating people, getting in mouths, ears, and even under the skin... Good ideas here, Jeff; perhaps you are thinking of tying all these Maple Drive stories together at some point. I would still recommend you edit and re-edit your stories, as there's still a few typo errors, or grammar which makes sentences occasionally confusing. Great imagination, I like it.
  • Hero Breaker on Feb. 06, 2014

    Just quickly read this. Perhaps the adult tag is because characters keep inserting big swords into their backsides. A full proper review to follow.
  • Feeder on Feb. 12, 2014

    This is a neat little flash fiction. A cool idea, well written, with a thoughtful ambiguous ending. Very good.
  • 411 on Feb. 15, 2014

    A quite long detailed short story, which despite its 5000 words feels like a very quick casual read. It's a slightly bitter and morose yet insightful glance into the mind-numbing and frustrating job of working in a large directory-assistance call-centre. The guy here tries day shift, night shift, tries a date with a fellow employee, and finally hatches a plan to insidiously alter the mood of those around him, and the mood of those that call. A good story, very borderline science-fiction, , it will more suit junk and underground readers, fans of William S Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson, it's a sort of moribund dystopia, a change-the-world type story. I thought the writing was good, compelling, and there was a realistic believable ending. It's a good story.
  • Worse Than An Orphan's Curse on Feb. 15, 2014

    More good writing here; Rik Hunik could easily become a favourite author. This story is an enjoyable glimpse into a fantasy world, and tells the second-hand story of a curse and counter-curse. Easy to read, descriptive, and compelling, but I give it four stars instead of five because while the ending is satisfying enough, I thought the piece ended too early, without much of a climax; there didn't seem to be quite the completeness and closure that I was looking forward to. Of course, this is always better than a story that rambles on. Here, I wanted more. Good story. I will read more, Mr. Hunik.
  • Incident In A Tomb on Feb. 15, 2014

    Enjoyable ressurection-of-the-dead story, but sometimes the right bodies aren't in the correct coffins. Lovecraft scholars will spot several references to The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, and I found it interesting that the body the guys were looking for died on August 20th, 1890, which just happened to be the day H.P.Lovecraft was born. Good stuff.
  • When Dragons Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Dragons on Feb. 20, 2014

    This is a short story, which runs about half the length of this e-book [around 3000 words], the rest being samples of other stories. The tale itself tells of a fantasy town that have recently taken dragons into their community, originally as pets, but soon the things are huge and destroying the town. There then follows a discussion about the future of dragons and their control. This was ok, easy-reading, but for me the allegory to gun control, or dog control, or whatever you want to take from it, got in the way a bit, and by the end I got the impression I was being preached at. This author's other work looks very fun - Monster Zombie Sharks and suchlike - but I wasn't overkeen on this free story.
  • The Tale of the Mogollon Ghost Tribe on Feb. 20, 2014

    Ok but standard-fare ghost story, about a spectral Indian tribe in the woods, and presumably aimed at kids. Would be reasonable to read out to young children, although the writing could do with a going-over and I would have appreciated more dialogue and more showing, not just recounting the story.
  • We Were Good, Once on March 02, 2014

    I have read this story twice to ensure it deserves its five-star rating, and pleased to report it does. I think this is perhaps the best of Walter Lazo's stories I have yet read; a tale of looming and mysterious cosmic horror framed in a science-fiction/fantasy setting. Occasionally, Walter's endings are a bit vague or unfocussed; this one is not. The writing is very good, very clear and fluid, with great imaginative ideas. I liked all the story but particularly the idea of The Flying Sea, a concept both bonkers and genius. Well done Walter, and it's good to see you back. I see this as a good place to just clarify what a five-star rating on Smashwords means to me; I consider any work that I have awarded five-stars of a quality that is equal to or better than stuff that is traditionally published in books or pro / semi-pro magazines. These are stories which I believe if they were sent out to magazines or editors would eventually find a home somewhere. And 'We Were Good, Once' by Walter Lazo is one of them.
  • Nan -heart- Nu on March 02, 2014

    Good, simple but effective artwork, and a boy-meets-girl plot, this is a nice little comic-strip. Give it a look.
  • A Call from Cthulhu on March 09, 2014

    Excellent lovecraftiness; a very simple idea, a basic idea, yet a great one for a parody. The writer's skill at pacing, and setting the tone work perfectly. I kinda more-or-less expected the ending, but it arrived superbly inevitably. As far as simple flash-fiction lovecraftian parody goes, this is hard to beat.
  • The Last Moment Loop on March 10, 2014

    Interesting idea, with a sense of mystery, but the ending and payoff/twist reminded me of Ambrose Bierce's story, "An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge". Ok.
  • Night Lures on June 10, 2014

    This is a fun and concise little sci-fi idea. Well worth a quick read. My first read on Smashwords in months.