Top 10 (OK, 12) Books of 2013!

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Top 10 (OK, 12) Books of 2013!.

Bearing in mind that I have read 160 books this year, these are my top 10 picks in no particular order….and, yes, I picked a top 12, because this is the best year I have had for reading in a very long time and it was difficult to whittle the list down to only 10.  I also only counted books released in 2013, so lots of classics etc were not counted.


1. A TRUE NOVEL by Minae Mizumura.  Beautifully translated and filled with unforgettable imagery, Mizumura’s modern day Japanese take on WUTHERING HEIGHTS is brilliant, funny, and absorbing.  Taro, our brooding hero, is exposed little by little to be an anti-hero if there ever was one.

2. THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tarrt.  More than a tragic tale of loss, this story of a boy who steals a painting connected to his mother, is a lovely look at redemption, art, beauty, and how we can change the future through acts both good and wicked.  Although long, this novel is never dull and always fascinating.  The ending is incredibly moving.

3. THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton.  The winner of the Man Booker Prize tells the twisty tale of a man who steps into a tragedy told by twelve characters.  A man has been murdered; a prostitute is found supposedly committing suicide; but the truth of the matter lies somewhere in the crossword puzzle of stories told by the members of a New Zealand gold rush town.

4. TELLING THE BEES by Peggy Hersken.  Southern fiction at its loveliest, TELLING THE BEES is about a man who cuts himself off from the world, associating only with the bees in his hives.  When the woman he once adored is murdered, he is forced to re-examine his solitary life and the bonds he broke with the world.

5. READY FOR A BRAND NEW BEAT by Mark Kurlansky.  The master of micro-history brings us the story of the song ‘Dancin’ in the Street’, the woman who recorded it, and the way that particular song affected the Civil Rights Movement.  Fascinating, funny, and revelatory, I dare you to stop reading it once you’ve started.

6. THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker.  An epic historical novel starring two mythological creatures who fall in love in the early Twentieth Century after immigrating through Ellis Island.  A beautifully written, evocative piece on what it means to be American and how mythology from so many cultures has influenced us.

7. MURDER AS A FINE ART by David Morrell.  This blood and thunder Victorian set mystery gets everything exactly right.  You will feel like you are breathing the yellow fog as you follow author Thomas de Quincey in his search for one of the first serial killers.  Don’t start this one late at night!

8. DRAMA HIGH by Michael Sokolove.  An inspiring true story about one of the poorest towns in America, whose public school has the best drama department anywhere.  During the drama teacher’s last years directing plays, we experience everything from the loss of the arts in our schools to the love lives of the students.  The best non-fiction I read all year!

9. THE PROMISE OF BLOOD by Brian McClellan.  A terrific epic fantasy that eschews all the stereotypes of the genre.  Imagine a world where countries battle each other with wizards who ingest gun powder and turn themselves into living cannons.  I can’t wait for the next installment.  Adult fantasy is rarely this great!

10. THE SON by Phillip Meyer.  A brutal family saga as big as Texas.   Three stories are conjoined – a man is kidnapped by Indians but escapes to become a cattle baron, a young man goes against his father’s wishes when he falls in love with a Mexican woman, and a woman intrudes upon the male only business world.  Fascinating, intense, and exciting.

11. WHERE THE LIGHT GETS IN by Louise Penny.  The ultimate Inspector Gamache novel ties up all the story threads from the past years while presenting a great mystery about who is killing off a group of sextuplets.  Louise Penny is the best crime writer working today.

12. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS by Elizabeth Gilbert.  A fantastic historical novel that delves into the divide between science and spirituality while emulating the great novels of the Victorian period.  Gilbert proves herself a prose expert, and the story unfolds lovingly, like a flower exposing a petal at a time.

There are several others that may make my list once I read them, but these were the favorites of the year!

It’s out!  Finally!  From Necon e-books and available through, Barnes and, and straight from Necon e-books website….THE SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED, my homage to 1970s and 1980s grindhouse/drive-in movies is here!


Dolly Elliott’s School earned its reputation as a school for bad girls.  Nestled within an isolated forest outside of the London suburbs, it’s the last stop for students who have been expelled from every other school in Europe.  For the right price, the administrators guarantee a diploma for any girl, no matter how rebellious.
But, the halls of Dolly Elliott’s are haunted by more than the laughter of the young women earning their degrees.  At night, the wail of a baby can be heard emerging from the cellar, and foul odors permeate the dorms.  Glimpses of blinded nuns disturb the daily routine of the young women.  And something is moving from the other side of the mirrors, seeking a way into our world.  It hates the living, especially the girls it jealously watches.
When Laura Pennington arrives as a new student, she carries secrets, a past that led to her fleeing her last school screaming in terror.  On the same day, Sarah Stallworth begins teaching the young women of Dollie Elliott’s, and she brings her own baggage.  When a young maid is horribly mutilated and a teacher is murdered, they launch an investigation into what roams the halls of the school at night. The past is trying to intrude upon the present, attempting to force its way into the new century.  Can Laura and Sarah learn the terrible truth about the school before more women die?
THE SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED is a loving homage to the over-the-top exploitation films that were imported from Europe in the 1970′s, a drive-in flick brought to vivid life on the page.  Full of sex, sin, slashings, and secrets, it delivers a grindhouse sized dose of terror and laughter.

LibraryJournal says, “Carl’s third novel (Bestial: Werewolf ApocalypsePrimeval: Werewolf Apocalypse 2) succeeds overall as a casual, fast-paced addition to contemporary horror. This short, dialog-driven read oozes all the good—and bad—of a 1970s B horror movie (think Dario Argento’s classic Italian splatterfest, Suspira). Fans of the genre may find this satisfying. [“

Get your copy today!

Are You A Bad Girl? Take the SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED quiz!d. ….

SCHOOLTHATSCREAMEDcoverTo celebrate the upcoming release of THE SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED from Necon e-books, I have created the following quiz.  THE SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED is my tribute to Euro-horror-sleaze movies from the 1970s and 1980s, featuring an all girl (and one gay man) cast as they attempt to solve the puzzles lurking within their school.  Why do some girls hear a baby’s cries from the basement?  Why do some girls see blind nuns staring back at them from mirrors?  Really, why are all female gym teachers lesbians?  It’s a funny and terrifying road to the answers.

Now, take the quiz and discover if you really are a bad girl!


1. If you find yourself possessed by the spirit of a wicked nun, do you…

a. Attempt to understand the nun and what she is doing to you.

b. pick up a melon-baller and attack a maid in the kitchen.

c. Exorcise yourself using herbal remedies and accidentally resurrecting the dead in the process.

d. Make up for lost time and sleep with as many priests as possible.

2. How many schools have expelled you?

a. you say four, but it was really one.  However, it was pretty exciting!

b. 18.

c. 12

d. 37…in Europe alone!

3. How many men have you slept with in the past month?

a. none

b. one local village boy

c. none, but several girls!

d. 781 and a half.

4. What is your biggest vice?

a. Telling lies about your past.

b. being practically perfect in every f’ing way

c. your Wiccan powers pretty much top out at making tea.

d. Men find you irresistible.  Oh, that’s not a secret.  Everyone, including cats and dogs, know this!

5. You believe hauntings are…

a. …all in your head.  Time for some shock therapy.

b. …terrifying!  Flee!  Flee!

c. …pretty cool, if only the ghosts would haunt you and not your roommates.  Why the hell are they so special?

d. … fake.  Ghosts aren’t real and aren’t scary.  Lesbian gym teachers, however, can be horrifying.

6. You curse an average of how many times an hour?

a. 6

b. 7

c. 2

d. 781 and a half.

Give yourself10 points for every A answer; 20 points for every B answer; 30 points for every C answer; and 40 points for every D answer.

Add them up.

If you scored…

40-60-you’re not all that bad.  You’re like Laura Pennington, a Nancy Drew wannabe with secrets galore.

70-100-you’re on your way to being bad.  You’re like Allie Sayers who talks a good game and indulges her passions, but only performs evil deeds on people when she is possessed.

110-140- You are fairly naughty!  You’re like Jane Melville, a Wiccan-Priestess-wannabe who tries very hard to be bad, but only succeeds when her lesbianistic tendencies override her senses.

150-160-You are one bad mofo!  You’re like Brandy Huber, who proudly wears her bad girl status as a medal of honor.  She could never be a cowgirl, because she just can’t keep her calves together.

Hope you had fun, and watch for the release of THE SCHOOL THAT SCREAMED, featuring some very bad girls and some who only try to be bad.

Coming very soon from Necon e-books!

I know it has been a while since I posted.  It’s been a while since I wrote anything.  I have two novellas and a novel in stagnation, just waiting for me to get back to them.  However, life is full of dark surprises and road-blocks, and this year has brought me more than a few.

In January, I had a cyst on my wrist that became quite large and painful.  Typing morphed into one-handed pecking, like a demented chicken in a barnyard, so I grew tired of working for hours to get a single page of usable material…if that!  They removed said cyst (which had elongated to three and a half inches down my arm, strangling my radial nerves and arteries), and there was a recovery period of several weeks, in which I hurt so much the urge to write simply dissipated into a FARSCAPE marathon-viewing haze.  As soon as I was able to return to work, even with some bearable pain and nerve damage (oh hurray for that), my mother became very sick.  I drove as many times to the hospital in Columbus where she eventually passed.  I was holding her hand at the time, so I feel as if I may have done SOME good for the poor woman.  Then, there was the funeral, getting my Dad adjusted, and have I mentioned work is literally killing me by forcing me into extremely long hours just to meet last year’s sales.  My friends, a bookstore is not a glamorous place to toil.  In any case, I haven’t written a word since mid-January.

Have I missed the writing?  Yes and no.  I missed it when I had the time, but other matters are so much more important than getting out that next book that a couple thousand people will read.  It isn’t my living; sadly, I don’t think many people nowadays can exist on writing wages.  With the internet, anyone can put out a book they wrote.  And I mean, ANYONE.  People fuss and complain if your e-book runs to more than two dollars, but nobody can live on that.  And publishers are slowly dwindling away.  Their marketing departments have certainly gone the way of the dodo.  No, I have to work rtail to pay the bills and put food on the table, and retail is a volatile area right now.  We live in a society where people don’t want to pay for products.  Everything must be cheap or free – especially intellectual property.

In any case, I am about to kick-start the creative juices.  I have been asked into an anthology that is so exciting, I am busting to talk about it (but I can’t yet).  This is the first anthology I have been invited to join, a true honor.  Somebody out there likes me.  It’s nice to know, even if it is a first time.    Writing can be a lonely business, possibly the loneliest in the world.  As writers, we grasp at any praise or validation of our books and stories.  We thrive on good reviews, on people discussing our worlds, on sales for goodness sake!  My books have been kind of stagnating lately, and I don’t know why.  Everyone who reads them enjoys them for what they are – pure action entertainment.  Still, sales of my books are hovering around the HOW TO DIG YOUR OWN LEECH PIT and erotic zombie fiction that runs 4 pages.  It’s not a happy place to be.

But I will struggle on…at least for a while longer.  Now that I am able to write (at least between shifts), I aim to do so.  I need to get those creative juices flowing again.  I need to re-catch the writing fever that used to grip me in its warm arms and rattle the words out of my hands and onto the page.  I need to regain my hope for the human race again.

This anthology may be the answer.  I hope so, as I’d hate to disappoint anyone who actually INVITED me into their book!

Will it work?

Stay tuned.

Yes, fellow horror novel fans, there is some exciting news on the William D. Carl horizon.  I will be making an announcement about a project that was started six years ago and only now completed, a project that will chill you to the bones, make you laugh aloud, and possibly doubt your sanity.  All of the forms aren’t signed, so I will be waiting to talk about this when the ‘I’s are dotted (with Grumpy Cat faces) and the T’s are crossed.


Yes, it is a book.


Yes, it has an amazing, terrifying cover!  Can’t wait to see it on a shelf in a store…preferably the Joseph-Beth Booksellers where I toil during the daytime hours.


Here is your only clue…Argento, Serrador, Walker, and Dallamano!


Have fun figuring this out, and in the meantime, you should read (or reread) PRIMEVAL!  It is up to seven five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  People sure do seem to be enjoying it.