Monochromes and Other Stories by Matt Bechtel ~ 2017

Find horror hidden within humor, hope persisting amidst anguish, and absurdity pretty much everywhere

Author: Matt Bechtel
Publisher: Haverhill House Publishing; 1 edition (April 30, 2017)
Publication: April 30, 2017
Pages: 120
ASIN: B07257VQ7K
Language: English
Cover design & Illustration: © 2017 Dyer Wilk
Foreword: James A. Moore

5 Stars

"This book was provided by John McIlveen in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

Matt Bechtel
Matt, Matt, Matt ... what did you do to my mind on a few of these stories?  No, I shouldn't start out that way.  I will start by saying Thanks! for a great read!  Has anyone told you your mind is a bit twisted?  I mean twisted Matt.

Monochromes and Other Stories is a series of short stories with each story's ending leaving an impression on you that will take a minute or two to digest (one with some discomfort if you have too many Halloween cookies).

The horror/thriller fan will absolutely love this read.

Don't let the title fool you, every story is filled with color.  The prose is humorous satire having a quite pleasingly dark hue lighting your read.  A plethora of 19 cognitive shades of insight is what is in store for you one weekend.

As I sat down with my cup of beverage, Good N Plenty at the ready and jammin' to Chris Botti in the background I was ready to disappear.  Truly, here's the good-thing Warning folks: you will not be able to put this down.

Matt Bechtel took his pen, his ingenuous abnormal? mind, and crafted you story after story of thought-provoking tales.  His unbalanced insight to capture a reader needs applause and an encore.   Few of my favorites of this collection of unhinged writings are After Hours, This Story Approved By The American Dental Association (I'm a bit OCD), Dreams, Cozzy's Question, and hell - I gotta say Tele-Serve is pretty damn good.  Funny and oh so true.

Monochromes starts this collection with color.  The inner turmoil people go through, even the inner happiness people go through, and everything in the between -  shows your true color.  You might even be able to see other true colors as in these pretty cool characters Kiki and Eric.  I am so glad I don't have their predicaments.  Matt your atmosphere at the diner is spot on.  Especially the woman with the kids leaving and the waitress's demeanor.  Actual life stuff, I dug it.

Which brings me to my thought - I'd put a quarter on many of these stories you've personally been through, or watched - you just added to the experience with exceptional endings to the events.  Mmm?

I have not read this type of skill in writing for a minute folks.  Matt Bechtel has an impressive talent/skill to captivate, envelope, and take you Reader into a realm of abnormality.  An abnormality that you'll enjoy for a couple hours.  Seriously, you can take my word on it, or better yet, once you read this collection, you'll understand.

So ...

Grab a Saugy, your beverage, and a couple of hours.  If you enjoy reading how the world is viewed a bit differently, you'll love this.

Thanks Matt for a hell of a time

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Monochromes and Other Stories:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Paperback $12.95 USD

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About the author  ~

Author Matt Bechtel

Connect with Matt

Some people just see the world differently.

Matt Bechtel was born just south of Detroit, Michigan (cursing him a Lions fan), into a mostly-Irish family of dreamers and writers as opposed to the pharmaceutical or construction giants that share his surname.  As such, he has spent most of his years making questionable life decisions and enjoying the results.

Mentored by their late-founder Bob Booth, he serves on both the Executive Committee of the Northeastern Writers’ Convention (a.k.a. Camp Necon) and as a partner in the Necon E-Books digital publishing company.

His own writing tends towards dark humor / satire and has been compared to Ray Bradbury and Cormac McCarthy.  He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island (and if you look closely at his author’s picture you can see that he follows Irish tradition and signs his initials into the head of his Guinness).

Matt Bechtel has, at times, argued that The Terminator is a love story, that Bob Dylan’s “Don't Think Twice, It’s All Right” is joyful rather than bitter, and that the characters of Everybody Loves Raymond are more monstrous than the Bates Family.

In his first collection of original fiction, he turns his wry, satiric eye upon landscapes of his own creation — such as the early days of skydiving, the terror of collecting unemployment, the extreme sport of competitive standing, a circus performer succumbing to zombieism, and the most anticipated day never circled on any calendar — to find horror hidden within humor, hope persisting amidst anguish, and absurdity pretty much everywhere.

The views from his pen are equal parts hysterical, unsettling, and thought provoking.
Some people just see the world differently. Matt Bechtel is one of those people.

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The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett ~ 2016

And a presence speaks through them all

Author: Jon Padgett
Publisher: Dunhams Manor Press; 2 edition (January 20, 2017)
Publication: January 20, 2017
Pages: 198
Language: English
Cover and interior art: Dave Felton
Jacket design: Anna Trueman
Author photographer: A friend who appreciates quite recognition

1 Star

"This book was provided by Jon Padgett in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

Jon Padgett
Don't understand the reviews,

After the first three stories were explained to me, I wondered about number four.  Any tension here?  Suspense this time around?  Instead of having the reader 'feel' the read, the narration was being explained what you will or should feel.

Reaching past 30% of this read is all I could take.  There was no need to turn a page and seek out your quest to settle your anxieties the author should have installed into you by this point in the read.  There was no part of a flow.  I felt no part of a theme.  Three down and after I read Origami Dreams - that was strike four - I'm out.

Origami Dreams did have a slight edge to the writing lending itself to mystery and suspense, yet, it was not strong enough to keep me.  Then, let's read a manual.

The next story in line after Origami Dreams is 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism.  I couldn't take 20 more explanations.  I perused the steps - they are exactly that - steps on how to be a ventriloquist.  One should know reading into a read for 30 - 50 pages, if this read is for you, you would want to turn the next page.  You're interested.  You're hooked.  That need should be in you by now.
Threw a question at myself - Gee, should I keep reading?  Will all these stories connect somehow in the end?

Jon Padgett has an idea here for a great theme, though after a third of the book was read there was no hint of suspense, no urge.  No flow.  Seemed to be a book of nothing more than miscellaneous stories grouped together to make a novel.   He's trying way too hard to be a writer who has this 'new' edge to writing.

You gotta grab the reader man.  Grab the reader by their throat right off the bat.  You need to hone in on your victims and make them have that urge to turn the page.  If you don't have your reader hooked by at least 50 pages - that curiosity to see if the antagonist gets away and lives for another day or the protagonist ... is fine - you've lost your reader. 

Will all these stories connect in the end I kept asking myself and I stopped - this overwhelming feeling came over me - I don't want to work at a read.  I would rather be scared and interested and have that need to turn a page to see and feel that all will be well ... in the end.  If I had reached the end and all the stories did fit together for some extravagant climax, even if it did come from left field and made sense, why would you have me go through so much hell beforehand?

I see this read had some great reviews and from some legitimate sources, I might add.  I don't see their view.

Been sitting here with a busted wrist, following Doctor orders and just want to read if not great stuff, at least good stuff.

I'm going to go and warm my drink.

Recommend?  It's a one star from me folks.

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Here's where you can get your fingers on The Secret of Ventriloquism:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $4.99 ~ Paperback $12.99 USD

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About the author  ~

Connect with Jon


Jon Padgett is a professional--though lapsed--ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter and two cats.  Padgett is a Senior Editor of Vastarien: a source of critical study and creative response to the corpus of Thomas Ligotti.
He has work out or forthcoming in Pseudopod, Lovecraft eZine, Xnoybis, Antenna::Signals and The Junk Merchants: A Literary Salute to William S. Burroughs.

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Echoes of Darkness by Rob Smales ~ 2016

Thirteen tales of twisted and demented pleasure

Author: Rob Smales
Publisher:  Books & Boos Press; 1 edition (February 27, 2016)
Publication: February 27, 2016
Pages: 287
Language: English
Jacket design: © 2016 Mikio Murakami
Author photographer: Billy

"This book was provided by Rob Smales in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

Rob Smales
Folks, I love traveling the world via imaginations of some very talented writers' whims they have in print.  Hell, I've practically been everywhere folks - to search for suspenseful thrill rides my for mind's eye - serial killers getting away/caught, wrongful injustice to the innocent not being set right, drug-lords having their ways, murder with twisted endings you would not ever dream of otherwise.  At times the settings and atmosphere is all too serene.

Some places you can only travel to through others' imagination.

From a very deranged and talented young mind comes a baker's dozen of tales filled with huge amounts of murder, ghosts, insanity with your own reality, disturbing dreams, & for some of you - disturbed echoes of darkness that will make you rise from the wet with sweat.  As an anthology, these tales - these incredible echoes blend together nicely if you want your shit scared out of you one weekend.

Rob Smales writes with poignant impact on twists that slaps insanity right into you.  Some of these tales will actually give you those 'quick' leg or hip twists as you read and your mind says, "Oh, man"  and you slowly shake your head a couple of times and grin.

Right on, next tale - 13 of these folks - hell on pages ... and you keep on reading.  Each tale compels you to read the next one.  Well-written echoes.

As I launch into my review,  these thirteen tales begin with an accommodating introduction from Mr. Smales, infusing you with a word or two about the title, and Rob, rest assured this tuning fork resonated with perfect pitch from your Echoes of Darkness  ~

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Death of the Boy  ~  ...“Sorry, boy. But this needs doin’.” ... Then he saw them...

Death of a Boy was what the boy needed.  Personally, I think he thanked the old man
I enjoyed the hell out of that tale

A Night at the Show  ~  ...“Because that thing needs to stay secret. Needs to stay hidden. No one can know.” ....

Keep checking that calendar  -  Valerie's mother Mrs. Redfern and Val's friend Hillary celebrate her ninth birthday - A Friday night out at the movies turns into a multiple 'double-feature' for Hillary.  Love a good scream


In Full Measure  ~  ...“Now, Mr. Capshaw, I only hope that God can see His way clear to giving you exactly what you deserve, whether it be striking you down or casting you out of Heaven to burn for all eternity." ....

LOL -  Laughed my ass off in this one.  Careful of what you wish for, oh that's right, she didn't wish she prayed.  In either case, be careful.  Keeping her backbone solid and demanding not to fiddle with such a nonsensical bill-collector at the door, Eva wanted to voice herself to the Top Dog.  Well, Eva, hindsight is always 20/20; sometimes it's 30/30 but in many cases, history does repeat itself as described in the notes after your tale Eva, just ask your author.  When is the next one? You know, the next chew?


Those Little Bastards  ~  ... I nearly laugh aloud at the quavery “Hello?” he sends into my foyer. He’s not in a crowd now, and the fear is back, so big I can see his eyes right...

Dares and thoughts of 'how big our my balls' really? Then, one pissed-off ghost, and does it make you wonder of purgatory?  Very quick tale - sweet & sour for all around


Maxwell's Silver Hammer  ~  ... More than two dozen   .  .  .  things were trying to get out. Ben screamed. His mobile phone, lying on the floor by the gurney, began to chirp. He scrabbled for it; flipped it open. “Hello?” ....

Self-righteous 'old school' doctor counts his chickens before they hatch


Photo Finish  ~  ... His father stepped back, struck a heroic pose with fists on his hips, gave an exaggerated smile, and said “Cheese!” The pose did make Billy smile. The camera flashed, the motor whirred, and the white square stuck out of the little machine like a tongue. ....

This one was inwardly different - a story developing within and ending facing yourself, and the plot twist.


A Man's Done Right  ~  ... “I didn’t come in here for you to help me! I came in here to help you!” .... 

Doing the right thing with consequences and not a damn thing you can do about it. -damn-


One Sock, Two Sock  ~  ... “They were rolled! A pair! What the hell do you do, eat them?” The dryer sat motionless, not deigning to make the slightest response. “I know it’s you.” She indicated...

My drawer consists of one color - white.  If I need any other color/type/need I go purchase, use, end.  Won't permit me to go through such hell.

Mutes  ~  ... I need to get this told, just in case, but I have to hurry. I don’t know how much time I have. Granny McCallum was right. She always said— wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Scott St. Armond. I’m making this recording in my apartment, and I swear I’m of sound mind. I swear to God. ....

EMT Scott Armond has the sight on my affinity for Good & Plenty.  He wants them gone and the sweet sickly smell they waft under his nose, too.  Sorry, Scott, no-can-do on that one, might be damned, but, I won't stay mute.  Good & Plenty kicks ass.  Or try hard Root Beer Barrels candy, maybe?


On Cats and Crazy Ladies  ~  “Great big mansion, way out from town. No neighbors. Cop response time, not so great— for them, anyway. For us, it’s pretty good. A rich old lady living all alone goes out every day to buy food and shit. She goes out, we go in and find the cash she has stashed in the house. We can’t find it, we wait until she gets home, then make her give it to us. We find a bunch of sweet lookin’ stuff we could hawk for cash, we wait ’til we get her wrapped up, then pull that”— he threw a thumb over his shoulder toward the van parked amidst the tallest of the bushes—“ up to the door and load in everything we can. Then we drive off, leaving the old lady tied to a chair for the mailman to find or something.” He brushed his gloved hands together as if dusting off after a job well done. “Easy-fucking-peasy.”

Burglary awry - Leave the crazy cat ladies alone.  See this keyword here: crazy.  Should give you a clue.  Just stay away.

Ma Liang's Crayons  ~  ... “Crayons!” The girl rocked on her little bottom in excitement, though, to tell the truth, Julie was more impressed with the box than its contents. It doesn’t look like there are any metal parts at all, and that moving rack is beautiful. That is some serious craftsmanship— seems a little silly to do all that work just to hold a set of Crayolas. ....

This colorful Chinese legend paints a scene a bit too late for all concerned.
I want a box.  Please.


Wendigo  ~  ... They left me some food— quite a bit, actually— but they took their words with them. I turn and look from place to place, at the food they left behind. At the meat. Not a lot left. But it’s mine. ....

Reality takes on a new meaning for a lone plane crash survivor.


Playmates Wanted  ~  ...“Beautiful,” he murmured, and the word echoed in his mind, buoyed by the memory of that last scream. What a voice! ....  ...“Give   .  .  .  me a   .  .  .  scream   .  .  .  lover!”...

Last victim for this serial killer?  I don't think so

This tale was perfect for closure - for Benny and for us readers

If I may come full circle, these 13 tales from a very dark and disturbing corner(s) of Rob Smales mind will delight all those in search of the creepy & chilling horror reads.  Each story is completely different than the next, yet, as a collection, this anthology is beautifully melded into one you gotta read.
Rob brings the story to your senses quickly and vividly with the role of the character being described throughout each tale.  As in Death of the Boy, the old man's character was multi-leveled in respect to being humane.  In Wendigo, the mental breakdown.  In On Cats and Crazy Ladies, the burglar's characters were developed right along with the pace.  Quick and vivid.  Great short-story skill.

Themes, settings, atmosphere envelopes the reader.  The tales read as if Rob Smales has been writing short horror stories for a while.

There were a few spots through the read where "big ten-dollar" words don't work.  Thought 4 star read; In Full Measure: chitinous carpet did not flow.  In A Man's Done Right, the word seined - I don't agree with.  You're narrating at one level of reading then Bam! a ten-dollar word.  If a small ordinary everyday word would work - then use it.  These words though are completely okay when your character needs to sound a bit above everyone. Like explain it as in Mutes: ... commotio cordis, or cardiac arrest due to impact ....  There's a couple of other spots, but, I've said my piece/peace.

Ask me if I would recommend and I would say, "You haven't read this yet?" - with a raised eyebrow

Folks, Echoes of Darkness is no longer in print

  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $3.99 ~ Paperback $11.98 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ Paperback $9.59 USD

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About the author  ~

Author Rob Smales

Connect with Rob

Facebook   Twitter



Rob Smales is the author of DEAD OF WINTER, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014.  His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines.  His story “Photo Finish” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Preditors & Editors’ Readers Choice Award for Best Horror Short Story of 2012.
Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eFestival of Words in 2015.

Lifelong reader, recently turned writer, my friends were surprised when I turned to writing horror.  They remember me reading a lot of Sci-Fi while growing up.  And I did.  But there was an awful lot of Fantasy, Crime, Mystery and, yes, Horror in the mix.

Though I do have a few non-horror stories in my head and fighting to get out (I started this ride writing a series of Sci-Fi shorts to read to my son at night), most of what I write about comes from the darker side of life.  And unlife.  I'm going to just keep sprinkling material onto the mulch pile in my mind and see what comes up.

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Feel Me Fall by James Morris ~ 2017

 Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. She has a hell of a story to tell...

A thrilling suspenseful thought provoking YA tale

Author: James Morris
Publisher: Inkspot Imaginarium (May 2, 2017)
Publication: May 2, 2017
Pages: 260
ASIN: B071KR8F63
Language: English
Jacket design: StoryWonk
Author photographer: A friend who enjoys quite recognition

"This book was provided by James Morris in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

James Morris
James Morris talks to your soul in this one folks.

Imagine you're in high school and you & your friends are traveling to South America.  A field-trip of a lifetime!  The plane you're traveling in doesn't quite make your destination.  Ended up in a river fighting for your very own life.  You swim hard for the shore.  You see folks climbing ashore, your not quite there yet.  Man, you're swimming.  Suddenly unbeknownst to you, something bites you. Again and again and again and again  -  your last thoughts: why me?

Well, that sure didn't happen to a few folks here in Feel Me Fall - what really happened to those survivors that climbed ashore?  Let's ask Emily Duran.

Gather around folks  ~

A handful characters emerge from the wreckage, climbing ashore from the Amazon right into its jungle companion.  After they group up, they cast a vote in which direction to go, up river? or down? And off the tale went.

When you come upon a certain event in your present day which makes you reflect, reminiscence maybe, or just wish real bad, and with some of us - plot; those scenes were point on.  Told from the main character Emily Duran's POV with alternating scenes flash-backing to earlier points in life, I must say, the flow of the read was refreshing.

I liked having the chapters peppered with the snippets of classic writings and poetry.

All characters were drawn as I was suspecting and with Morris' writing, no surprise to me - each had their own smell.  My favorite character is Mean Molly, hey, got heart?
Emily, Nico, Dereck, Viv, Ryan, Jacinto, and of course - Mr. DeKoning, aka, Mr. D.  These characters each had an agenda.  This was certainly a trip through the Amazon jungle you'll want to take if you want a enigmatic suspenseful thrill read.

The pecking order of high school kids was not in play here, James Morris was flawless in bringing you into an atmosphere of a group of high school teens in the jungle, deciding, learning, acting-upon, and in some of them committing themselves to a plan.  A plan of survival come hell or high water.

Each event was page-turning mystery.  The pace is comfortable, yet if you're inquisitive as you are reading, if you're never quite sure if ... is that really? ... is he? ... what if ...  ya gotta turn the page my friend.  With death happening around you, and the talk you hear, who do you/can you trust?

Loved it.  I do have a favorite part in the book - looking death right in the eyes.  Where Em wasn't sure to wake the others or not.  I can't say much more than that, it's a quick scene.  And it was quick, with a touch of ever-lasting infinity.  I have entertained my thoughts more on that scene, especially after the read.

There are issues galore - some are reality for the lot of us.  Teacher/student, best-friends-forever-what!-that's-not-real-because-you-did-something!-oh-wait-we-still-are?, love, boyfriends, girlfriends, enemy's, making friends, and just plain friends, an elixir of thoughts banded together each on their own life's survival journey through the Amazon jungle.

Since the pace is comfortable, through-out  Feel Me Fall  you are carried away into your own thoughts of what you might do if you were with them on this trip.  As missing food comes around and other accusations rise and eye-witnessing deaths of friends - what would you do?  How do you defend yourself, do you need to? Hmph?  What? You're gonna just sit there instead, say nothing?  You'll be wrapped up in this tale and your gonna make it out of there alive.

How far would you go to survive?  Now c'mon folks, how far would you go?

Reflection was huge in this read.  A coming-of-age young lady, Emily Duran has a story to tell.

Most recommended folks.  Dynamite read.

I would like to give a plug to the bandography in Frank Portman's novel  King Dork.  I see that it came in handy.

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Feel Me Fall:
  • Amazon  ~  Kindle $3.99 USD

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About the author  ~

Connect with James

I am a creative professional with over ten years of experience in digital, business and creative writing, providing cross-media content solutions.  As a former television writer with produced credits including “Smallville” and “Crossing Jordan,” I worked with a team of writers pitching, crafting and following ideas from concept to script to final episode.  This necessitated the ability to deliver within tight deadlines, on budget, while integrating notes from various stakeholders.  I love brainstorming ideas for seemingly intractable problems.

I have since entered the digital world and worked with companies such as and the health care industry copywriting, blogging and editing. 

I have also taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension, which focused on the art of short films, where through lectures, assignments and screenings, I guided students towards the completion of a short script. 

I continue to learn about the ever-evolving world of social and content marketing, and my goal is to take my love of storytelling and help corporations tell their own stories, as well as continuing to write my own.

To check out a list of my professional writing credits, check out my page.

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Reviews for

~  James Morris  ~

 What Lies Within


Feel Me Fall


An interview with James Morris

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 From James Morris:

Abraham Lincoln Must Die

President Lincoln was a national hero – or so we believe. But the truth is more disturbing. When a visitor from a distant planet arrives during the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln enlists him to save the Union. But at what cost?
In Initiation, a young boy on the cusp of puberty realizes he is changing in more ways than one.
And in Crash, a woman finds an unexpected ally at work with deadly consequences.
Abraham Lincoln Must Die & Two Other Tales invites you see the world in totally unexpected and terrifying ways.

  • Amazon ~ Kindle Price  $0.99 USD

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