Category Archives: Cemetery Dance Publications

What I’ll Be Reading Over the Christmas Break

Quite, I hope.  At least if all goes according to plan.  We’ll find out.  Watch this space.

20161213_122339Two packages arrived in the mail today.  You can see the contents on the left.  At the upper right is Richard Chizmar’s massive collection, A Long December.  With a title like that, I’ve got to read it this month.  Richard Chizmar is the publisher of Cemetery Dance, but this collection was published by Subterranean Press.

The other items are part of the Warriors of the Wildlands Kickstarter.  This was a little project Jim Cornelius put together (see this post).  It’s a book containing short biographies of a dozen frontier partisans.  I pledged the level that got me three signed books (one personalized; thanks, Jim!), a patch, the poster (which has books on the corners to keep it from rolling up), along with downloads of three songs performed by Jim’s musical group, The Anvil Blasters.  If you’re not reading Jim’s blog, Frontier Partisans, you’re missing out.

Anyway, Santa came early today, and I’m looking forward to getting grades in so I can dive into these books.

A Review of Six Scary Stories

king15large_360x540Six Scary Stories
Selected by Stephen King
Cemetery Dance
hardcover $24.95 (with custom slipcase $49.90)
paperback $14.95
ebook $4.99

I’d already bought but hadn’t had a chance to read the electronic version of this book when a review copy showed up in the mail.  Cool.  Now I can read the book in either format.  Then I did a very foolish thing.  I, um, well…I put the book on my desk.  Where it disappeared.

I found it when I was moving things from the desk to the new bookshelf.  I dove right in and finished it in two or three nights.  Which isn’t bad with all the time constraints I’ve got at the moment, but is pretty slow compared to my regular reading rate.  (To give you an idea of how tight things are at the moment, I finished the book over a week ago and am just now getting a few minutes to sit down and write.)

In case you just fell off a turnip truck awoke from a coma and don’t know the genesis of this little anthology, Stephen King was asked by his British publisher to select a story in a contest the publisher was running to promote The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.   The publisher would select the final shortlist of six (from what turned out to be over 800 entries).  King would make the final selection from those.  King writes in his introduction that he had hoped to find one good story among the finalists.  What he found were six stories of publishable quality.  Hence, the anthology we’re discussing.  Here’s a quick summary of the contents: Continue reading

Don’t Go Out on “Devil’s Night”

e_chizma01“Devil’s Night”
Richard Chizmar
Cemetery Dance
Ebook short story, $0.99

Cemetery Dance has over the last few years published a number of Halloween themed short stories in ebook form.  (They all have the same cover illustration you see here with different text.)  I reviewed some of them a couple of years ago and enjoyed all the ones I read.  Richard Chizmar, in addition to being a top-notch editor, is also a writer.

The night before Halloween is known in many parts of the country as Devil’s Night.  In the story of the same name, a small town high school teacher is alone in the parking lot of an abandoned rural post office on Devil’s Night.  He’s worrying about things and is taking advantage of the solitude to think.  Then a car pulls up in another part of the lot.

The Phantom of the Opera gets out, throws up repeatedly, then takes a body from the trunk.  After disappearing into the woods for a brief time, the Phantom returns to his car and leaves, completely unaware that he’s been observed. Continue reading

Dark Screams is Something to Scream About

Dark Screams v1Dark Screams Vol. 1
Brain James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, ed.
Hydra
ebook only, $2.99
publication date December 9, 2014 preorder

I’d like to start off this review by thanking Brian James Freeman and Hydra/Random House for the review copy of Dark Screams Vol. 1. I had originally intended to review the book closer to the release date. I finished the first story while waiting for my son to get back from All Region Band tryouts and kept going. It turned out there were almost twice as many students trying out than were expected, so after 2 1/2 hours of waiting past the time they were supposed to be back, I had finished the book. I decided to write and post the review while the stories were fresh on my mind.

As you can tell from the title, this is the inaugural volume in a series.  There are currently five volumes planned, with more to come if sales and reader response are positive.

If the first volume is any indication, this should be a long-running series.  The editors have stated that each volume will have a variety of different types of horror from some of the top names in the business. Continue reading

Rick Hautala’s Indian Summer

hautala06Indian Summer
Rick Hautala
Cemetery Dance
signed limited edition hardcover $40

It’s only been within the last year or two that I’ve really become acquainted with Rick Hautala’s work. The fact that we lost him last year really irks me, because I know that there won’t be any more stories coming from him.

One of the things I’ve liked about Hautala’s fiction is how well he captures childhood and adolescence while telling a very grown up tale. Not all of his work is like that, but much is. Indian Summer is a perfect example. While the protagonist is a 12 year old boy, the story provided plenty of thrills and chills for the adult reader.

This short novel concerns Billy Crowell, who goes along with some of his friends to watch a forest fire late one hot October afternoon. The boys get recruited to help fight the fire, which is pretty much under control. Trying to cut around and head off a portion of the fire, Billy gets lost.

While he’s wandering in the woods, he comes upon a deer that has been butchered. Billy runs until he comes out at a run down house. The woman who lives there, whose name is Ellie Martin, lets him call his parents. By this time the sun is going down, and Billy knows he’s in trouble. But once he tells his parents whose house he’s at, they change their tune.

Before he leaves, Ellie Martin asks him to come back. Billy is scared of her, but he also is attracted to her. He soon realizes he has a crush on her.

Billy finds himself in a tight spot. He’s both frightened by and attracted to Ellie. None of the adults seem to be willing to talk about her. And Ellie is very obsessed with something she believes lives in the woods… Continue reading

Turning Down the Lights

Turn Down the LightsTurn Down the Lights
Richard Chizmar, ed.
Cemetery Dance
trade hardcover $35
slipcased artist edition $75
traycased limited edition $750

Cemetery Dance has long been one of the major players in the horror and dark suspense fields. That’s true for the magazine and the publishing house. The first issue of the magazine Cemetery Dance was published just over 35 years ago.

To celebrate, Richard Chizmar has put together this little volume. It’s a great introduction to the type of thing you’ll find in the magazine as well as among the titles in their catalog.

In addition to an introduction by Chizmar and an afterward by Thomas Monteleone, there are stories by Stephen King, Norman Partridge, Jack Ketchum, Brian James Freeman, Bentley Little, Ed Gorman, Ronald Kelly, Steve Rasnic Tem, Clive Barker, and Peter Straub.

Some of the top names in the field. May favorite stories were by King, Freeman, Little, and Gorman. All of them were well-written. Not all of the stories are supernatural. The Gorman and Freeman entries especially dealt with more mundane terrors. In fact these two were some of the best short fiction I’ve read in the horror field.

There’s not a bad story in the book, and there’s something here for every taste.  This is the type of book Cemetery Dance excels at.  With Turn Down the Lights they’ve met and surpassed their own standards.

Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate Cemetery Dance on 35 years of publishing some of the best dark fiction to be had and wish them another 35 years. If you haven’t read them, check them out.

Two Items of Halloween Interest

I’m buried under a mountain of grading, so there won’t be any post on Robert E. Howard’s horror stories tonight.  Tomorrow doesn’t look too promising, but I’ll see what I can do.

HalloweenMagicMysMacabre-500I did, however, want to make you aware of a couple of items of seasonal interest.  First, I’m reading Paula Guran’s Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre  from Prime Books.  The review is for Amazing Stories (TM) and will go live on Monday.  It’s the sixth installment of a series I’m been running over there I’m calling Six Weeks of Scares.  I’ll be sure and post the link here when the review goes live.  I’m about halfway through the book at the moment, it’s quite good.

ShiversVIIThe other item is one from Cemetery Dance.  It’s the latest installment in the Shivers anthology series edited by Richard Chizmar.  I received a copy of the ARC through Cemetery Dance’s ARC club earlier this year.  I’ve read a few of the stories, and the ones so far are top notch.  There are a couple of rare stories in this one.  One is “Weeds” by Stephen King, which hasn’t been reprinted since 1979.  The other is a story by Clive Barker that was originally published in the New York Times on October 30, 1992.  I haven’t read those yet.  I’d hoped to have this collection finished by Halloween, but I probably won’t make it.  I will review it early in November if things go as planned.  They rarely do, but I can dream.

This Femme is Quite Fatale

Femme
Bill Pronzini
Cemetery Dance
175 p.
trade hardcover $19.99
signed limited edition hardcover $50
deluxe traycased and lettered edition $175

One of my favorite subgenres, and probably the one I read the least since I started this blog, is that of the private eye.  And one of the top practitioners of the form is Bill Pronzini.  His Nameless Detective series has been going since the 70s, with new entries still being added.

The most recent is the novella Femme, published this past fall by Cemetery Dance along with a reprint of another Nameless novella, Kinsmen.  They were separate volumes, but Cemetery Dance had a preorder special.  I snatched them both up.  (The trade editions, but even without the signatures, they were a good buy and look great on the shelf.)

Both feature top notch covers by Glen Orbik; more on that shortly. Continue reading

2012 in Retrospect: Publishing

Rather than doing a single post about what I thought of the past year, I’m going to break things up into some smaller posts.  There will be on short fiction and one on titles I especially enjoyed.  But I thought I would start with publishers.

Last year, I wrote about the publishers I thought you should be reading this year.  That list hasn’t changed much.  The day before I posted that list, I gave reasons why I wasn’t going to be reading much from the main imprints.  Those reasons haven’t changed much, either.  If anything, they’re more valid than ever.

What I’m going to attempt to do here, in this present post, is to assess some of the things I said in those two posts.

First, I said I wouldn’t be buying many titles from the major publishers.  What constitutes a major publisher is probably going to vary among individuals.  That’s fine; it will give us something to talk about.  So many publishers are trying to grab as many rights as they can from authors and paying them so little once you take a close look at the numbers, that I have trouble with supporting such a system, just as a matter of conscience.  Add to that the fact that most of the major publishers are pricing their ebooks way too high, and in some cases as much or more than the paper editions, and I really don’t see the point.

Second, I said I would be reading more indie published authors.  I have.  The mistake I made was listing the authors whose work I intended to read.  The reason that was a mistake is that I haven’t gotten to everyone on the list yet.  Since I’m going to be focusing on small and indie presses in my column over at Amazing Stories (TM), those authors will be moving to near the top of the list.

Here’s the thing that might suprise some people.  I haven’t really missed reading books published by the majors.  I’ve still read a few here and there, and have a couple in my TBR stack.  But for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the small press and indie published works I’ve read.  I’m very selective about what I pick up these days simply due to time considerations.  Most of these works have been as good as what the Big 6 5 However-many-are-left-after-the-mergers are publishing.

So I think my decision to read indie published works has been a good one, and I’ll keep doing it.

Now, as for publishers.  I’m not going to numerically rank them.  I’m going to stick to the same list, but I’ll add a couple of publishers to it.  These are what I would call midsized publishers, in that they get national or international distribution and have major authors in their stables, but they haven’t been around for decades like some publishers have.

First, I included Prime Books as a runner-up because at the time I hadn’t finished any of their titles.  While I still dip into their anthologies without reading them all the way through, I maintain that Prime is one of the best publishers around.  I’ve got collections by Elizabeth Bear and Richard Parks to read, as well as many anthologies.

Orbit Books didn’t make the list last year because I hadn’t read any of their titles.  That hasn’t changed much, but there are some titles I very much want to read, starting with the latest Joe Abercrombie.  That alone puts Orbit on the list.  The fact that they also publish John R. Fultz and Michael J. Sullivan, two other writers I’m looking forward to reading doesn’t hurt, either.

Next is Solaris and its companion imprint, Abaddon.  This is Eric Brown’s publisher, and Brown is one of the best science fiction authors working today.  He writes good space opera, and I love space opera.

Nightshade published some interesting books this year, most of which I still haven’t gotten around to reading yet, including titles Misere, Southern Gods, The Scourge of the Betrayer, and The Pillars of Hercules, plust the more recent Siren Depths and The Tainted City.  Part of the reason I haven’t read these yet is time, but also because Nightshade no longer seems to be responding to requests for review copies.  I try (and occasionally succeed) to post a review around the time the book comes out, and since I ended up buying these titles, the books had in some cases been out a while.  The most significant thing Nightshade did this year, though, was to start the online publication, Eclipse Online, a continuation of their successful anthology series.  I’ll talk about that more in the forthcoming short fiction post. 

I probably read more books by Angry Robot this year than any other publisher, in part because of how their Robot Army program worked and in part because I really like their line.  This is one publisher I’ll keep reading and reviewing, although I probably won’t read quite as many title from them this year simply due to time considerations.  I had three titles I was planning to review when we ended up moving.  In all the commotion, I never read them.  I’m going to try to work them into the queue soon.

Pyr was top of my list last year, and this was another good year for them.  Pyr seems to be shifting its focus a bit, publishing more science fiction and YA titles than fantasy in recent months, but that’s not a bad thing necessarily.  I certainly don’t hold it against them.  They are in business to make money, after all, and markets do change.  I’ve got more titles from Pyr than any other publisher in the queue at the moment, mostly science fiction from Brenda J. Cooper, Mike Resnick, Allen Steele, and Mark Hodder.

These are all publishers who publish mass market and trade, and thus within the budgets of most readers.  Among the more expensive collectible and limited edition publishers, Haffner Press stands out as my favorite, primarily because Haffner publishes some of my favorite authors.  Cemetery Dance and Subterranean are the other two publishers I’ve bought a lot from this year.

These are the publishers I’ve read this year because these guys, from what I can tell, are not only publishing some of the best fantasy, science fiction, and horror, but they also have some of the best business practices around.  With limited time and monetary resources, I want to get the best value I can and support the players (publishers and authors) I respect.  These publishers and many of the indie authors I’ve read have more than provided that. 

So as far as publishers go, these are the one I will stick with in 2013.

Another Halloween Treat

A Little Halloween Talk
Joe R. Lansdale
Cemetery Dance
ebook, $0.99

Here’s another little treat from Cemetery Dance’s 13 Days of Halloween.  It’s not one you want to share with the kiddies.

This one concerns a tryst in a graveyard that goes horribly wrong with the lady’s man interrupts her with his best friend.

I won’t give any more details away.  If you’ve ever read Lansdale, you know he can write in some of the most compelling voices in modern fiction.  This story is no exception.  The narrator tells his story in a laid back style that you know from the first page isn’t going to end well.  The reader is pulled in by his down home drawl.  Even though I was reading, not listening to an audiobook, I could still hear the guy’s voice as I read.

The plot is something out of EC Comics, something that should come as no surprise if you’ve read Lansdale.  This is a good thing, in case you were wondering.  I’ve read four or five of these Halloween shorts, and this one is easily my favorite so far.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.