Sunday, December 27, 2009
With Pod of Horror #58, we bring you tidings of great joy, especially if you’re a fan of Robert R. McCammon. He discusses MR. SLAUGHTER, his new Matthew Corbett novel, and his return to writing contemporary fiction; we announce the winner of the PoH Christmas Story Contest and present the winning story; Scott Sigler talks football with aliens; Nanci has the latest news; Jason L. Keene uncorks Moonshine Matinee; and we have a new Tomb of Trivia clue. Get it at iTunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Get ready to have your giblets rocked. Edward Lee visits Pod of Horror #57 to talk about the differences between his mass market and small press fiction. Mike Oliveri tells us how The Pack will roam the world of prose fiction and graphic novels. Michael Vance discusses the pulp influences that went into the writing of Weird Horror Tales. The Call of Kalanta covers the news and the Thanksgiving menu. You can win free books in The Tomb of Trivia. And we debut the new movie feature Moonshine Matinee with Jason L. Keene. Get it at iTunes or download it at here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
After years of trial and error, I find that I fall into the latter group.
Writing, for me, is a head game. I have to convince myself that the story is worth telling and I am the only guy who can do it. Then, once the writing begins, I have to trust myself to tell the story. It is so easy to get distracted or discouraged by doubting yourself as you go along. Perhaps it’s part of my nature to look for reasons not to write, but in the past I’ve scapped countless projects because of a lack of confidence in what I had written, projects that – had I stuck with them – would likely be publishable.
So experience has taught me to just sit down and write, damn it, until I reach the end. For me, writing is most gratifying when I get caught up in the heat of the story, letting it pour out. The results always feel more honest and powerful, whereas a story that I’ve carefully plotted in advance and revised constantly during the actual writing can feel cold and contrived.
When I finish I can revise and, if necessary, fix story problems. And I find a lot of things to fix, believe me. You’re talking to the king of typos. On the other hand, I usually discover that those parts of the story that were originally doubt-inducing read just fine in the finished product.
A few days ago I was rereading The Gunslinger by Stephen King and found inspiration in his foreword to the revised edition:
“My approach to revision hasn’t changed much over the years. I know there are writers who do it as they go along, but my method of attack has always been to plunge in and go as fast as I can, keeping the edge of my narrative blade as sharp as possible by constant use, and trying to outrun the novelist’s most insidious enemy, which is doubt. Looking back prompts too many questions: How believable are my characters? How interesting is my story? How good is this, really? Will anyone care? Do I care myself?”
As usual, King says it better than anybody.
So how do you write?
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Michael Knost, the sexiest horror editor from Logan, West Virginia, will join me Saturday at Border’s in the Huntington (WV) Mall, from 3-5, to sign Legends of the Mountain State, Appalachian Winter Hauntings and The Writer’s Workshop of Horror. All of them make great Christmas gifts for the reader on your list.
And, hey, got somebody on your list you don’t like very much? Then a photo of Mike and me signing books makes a fine present for that person, too. We’ve got you covered either way.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Appalachian Winter Hauntings has just been released. Here's the publisher's description of the anthology:
Appalachian Winter Hauntings includes eleven bone-chilling accounts—penned by many of the preeminent storytellers in the business—that are appropriate to the Appalachian region and relative to the heart of the holiday season. This anthology is designed for cozying up close to a blazing fireplace on the coldest of winter nights.
When organizing the theme and the writers for this venture, Woodland Press, along with editors Michael Knost and Mark Justice, wanted to seek stories and tales that did not disrespect or alter the religious aspects of the holiday season. Instead, the stories, although having a distinct ghostly theme, are of a family-friendly nature. Contributors include: Ronald Kelly, Brian J. Hatcher, Patricia Hughes, Steve Vernon, S. Clayton Rhodes, Steve Rasnic Tem, Sara J. Larson, Scott Nicholson, J.G. Faherty. EmmaLee Pallai, and Elizabeth Massie.
The texture is gritty and the stories are moving. Think Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" turned up a notch with a ghostly Appalachian backdrop.
So, pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa, wrap your favorite blanket around you, and brace yourself for ghostly stories and weird encounters that take place in the shadows of snowy hilltops or along icy mountain trails.
I'll be participating in a book signing for AWH on November 14 at Border's in the Huntington (WV) Mall.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I was honored to be chosen as the guest speaker this year. The speech went well, I think. At least the small audience laughed in the right places.
The local paper did a story on the party, and it's fairly accurate, except the reporter believes Norma's maiden name was Kay. You can read it here.
Lucky for me -- and for the world of photography --it looks like I managed to escape without anybody snapping a picture of me. I took a few, though, and this is one of my favorites.
Tim was pretty sure his big brother was kidding about the ghost at the park, just trying to scare him. He changed his mind when he saw the boy. Or, rather, when he saw through the boy.
Hughie and Tim sneaked out of the house after their parents were asleep. If they had done only that, it would have been the scariest thing that ever happened to Tim. He never snuck out or had been outside this late without Mom and Dad’s permission. But Hughie said the ghost at the Flatwoods City Park only came out at night. So here they were.
They sat on the edge of the amphitheater stage, kicking their legs and trying to stay warm.
“So who is this ghost again?” Tim said.
“Some kid who lived here when this was a farm, a long time ago,” Hughie said.
“Why’s he hang around here?”
Tim shrugged. “He’s a ghost. I guess he likes to scare people.”
“Let’s go home,” Tim said.
“You scared?” Hughie smiled at him.
“N-no. I’m cold and I’m bored.” But Tim was scared, a little. He hadn’t seen the boy yet, and that was fine with him. He didn’t exactly believe in ghosts, but he didn’t exactly not believe. Hughie sighed. Tim could tell his big brother was getting bored, too.
Then the ghost walked across the frost-dappled lawn right in front of the stage. He was small, not much bigger than Tim. His hair was kind of long, like he was past due for a hair cut, and he wore old-fashioned clothes covered with patches. He was barefoot.
“Do...do you see that?” Hughie whispered.
Tim’s mouth suddenly got so dry he couldn’t make a sound. The boy wasn’t solid. The shadows of the playground equipment showed through the ghost’s body.
Tim swallowed and found enough of a voice to mutter, “Can he see us?”
The ghost boy stopped. He turned to stare at Tim and Hughie. His eyes were pale blue ovals. Instead of being scared, Tim sort of felt sorry for the ghost. He looked lonely and cold.
For a long moment, the three boys – two living and one not – stared at each other. Then Tim pushed himself off the stage and landed on the grass.
“What are you doing?” Hughie whispered. Instead of answering, Tim walked to the ghost boy. Being this close to a ghost was pretty scary, but not as bad as he had feared. Up close, the boy’s image flickered like an old movie.
Tim bent over and removed his sneakers. His socks were immediately soaked by the grass. Tim shivered. He held out the shoes to the ghost.
The boy hesitated for an instant before he accepted Tim’s gift. He slipped his ghostly feet into the sneakers. It looked to Tim like a perfect fit. The ghost boy smiled. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a small object. He passed it to Tim. When he touched the ghost boy’s hand, Tim felt a slight tingle.
The ghost boy turned and walked away toward the picnic shelters. Tim’s sneakers left small footprints in the frosty grass. As he got further away from the stage, the ghost boy faded away.
Neither Tim nor his brother could speak for a moment.
Finally, Hughie said, “What did he give you?”
Tim stood close to a streetlight and examined the crude wooden disc. Words had been carved into the disc’s surface.
“Where’s Advance?” Tim said. Hughie thought for a minute before he exclaimed, “Here! Mrs. Robinette told us that Flatwoods was called Advance way back, like before the Civil War!”
Both boys looked at the spot where the ghost of John Driscoll had vanished.
“What do you think he wanted?” Hughie asked.
“A friend,” Tim said. “I think he just wanted a friend.”
“Let’s go back before your feet freeze,”Hughie said. “I can’t wait to hear how you explain your missing shoes to Mom.”
Tim laughed, and, along with his big brother, he went home.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I love living in a small town, and getting to speak at my city’s annual celebration – especially a Halloween celebration – is more than a tad cool.
In honor of the occasion, I wrote an original ghost story for kids, set in the Flatwoods City Park. Copies are free, if you’d like to grab one Saturday.
Also on the local news front, I was named Best Radio personality by the reader’s of The Daily Independent. Thanks to everyone who voted.
Growing up, I wanted to do two things: be on the radio and write. Now I get to do both, so I’m a lucky guy (And I’m not counting my brief flirtation with being a gumshoe; things you do for three days at age 11 shouldn’t count).
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
You can listen live on your computer at http://wlgcradio.com/ and or watch the webcast (talk about scary) at http://www.drewskaggs.com/. This is also a call-in show, so harass us at 800-551-1057.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thanks to everyone who showed up at the singing for Legends of the Mountain State 3: More Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia. It was great to hang out with the guys, especially afterward, when beer and beef came into play (along with a visit to a Halloween store; who knew you could buy a Baby Hulk costume?).
What did I learn? If Brian J. Hatcher starts telling the story about luxuriating in the hotel bathtub in Nashville, cover your ears.
We'll be back at Border's in the Huntington (WV) Mall on November 14 to sign Appalachian Winter Hauntings. It's a great chance to give someone the gift of holiday horror this Christmas.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The contents remain the same. It'll be out in a couple of weeks, and I'll provide ordering details then.
I'll be at Borders in the Huntington (WV) Mall Saturday, signing the anthology Legends of the Mountain State 3: More Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia, along with armed and dangerous editor Michael Knost and fellow contributor Brian J. Hatcher.
I'm sure there will be plenty of copies of the previous Legends volumes on hand, as well as The Writer's Workshop of Horror.
Still on the fence about coming? Let me sum up the experience in four words:
Fat guys and horror!
What's not to love?
The signing is from 2-4. I hope you can make it.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
by Mark Justice
Charlie was running behind even before he encountered the procession.
It had been a three-snooze-button morning. Waking up was getting harder. No surprise there; he had to drink more and more just to get to sleep each night. When he showered he slipped, bruising his shin on the side of the tub. And he wasn’t even dry when the phone rang.
“Your cell is off. What are you doing?” It was Donelly, the firm’s managing partner.
“Getting dressed. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Here? You’re not coming here, goddamn it. You’re in court today.”
“Shit. I forgot.”
“You forgot? Victor Glimcher is our biggest client, you remember that, don’t you?”
“ Look. Duane, I screwed up. I’m sorry. I’m leaving now. Okay?”
“I owed you, Charlie,” Donelly said, his tone indicating that the old debt had been paid in full. “You were there for me back in the day, and I hated what happened to Kevin. I was glad to return the favor, you know? But please understand: we can’t afford a loss here. Got it?”
“Got it.” Charlie hung up. It was 9:15. Court was in fifteen minutes. Ashland was twenty minutes away. His tongue felt thick and he wanted a drink.
He knotted his tie and grabbed his jacket. He would come up with an excuse for the judge. Making excuses was something he’d gotten very good at.
He hurried down the steps to the parking lot of the complex. The windshield of his Corsica was covered with frost. He threw his briefcase into the front seat and started the car. Charlie didn’t have a credit card anymore, so he used his library card to scrape a small circle of visibility on the driver’s side of the glass. He really missed the Escalade at that moment, with its remote start. He climbed in the car and started to back up before he realized the rear window was also frost-covered. He got out again, wondering if Debra still had the SUV. He hadn’t talked to her in over a year. She could have traded it in. She always did think it was a bit pretentious.
Finally able to see, he backed out of the lot and cranked the heat up full blast. The street was clear, and he gunned the engine, hearing the four cylinders whine in protest. A half mile later he slowed for traffic at the intersection to US 23.
He glanced to the right and saw the impossibly long line of vehicles headed toward him, going east, the direction he needed to turn.
It was a funeral.
He looked at his watch. Was this a joke? Who got buried at nine in the morning?
Christ, that was a long line of mourners. Whoever this guy was, he was popular.
The hearse passed in front of his car and the need for a drink instantly doubled.
I can’t watch this, he thought.
He put the car in reverse and lifted his foot off the brake.
The horn blared from behind him and he stomped the pedal again.
He saw the truck in the rearview. An eighteen wheeler. He hadn’t heard it’s approach. In fact, he had never seen a big rig on this small road.
Charlie slammed his hands on the steering wheel.
He couldn’t back up. He was stuck.
A black Town Car drove slowly down 23. The windows were tinted, but he could imagine the faces of the family and the grief that settled in the car like an unwelcome passenger.
Charlie sighed and rubbed his face. He didn’t want to think about this. He didn’t want to think about Kevin.
“Please, Dad. I’ll do what ever you want. I’ll mow the grass and clean my room and volunteer at the old folk’s home.”
“You’d really volunteer?” Charlie said.
“Well,” Kevin said with a smile, that charming “gee-whiz” smile that Charlie could never resist, “I’ll clean my room and mow the grass.”
He was almost thirteen. Girls were slightly more interesting to him than they were a year ago, but he still craved adventure more than female companionship. He had decided that for his birthday he wanted an ATV, so he could ride in the woods behind his friend Alex’s house.
“I don’t know, big guy. That’s a lot of responsibility. And ATV’s aren’t cheap.”
“Aw, come on, Dad. You can afford it. Everybody knows you’re the best lawyer in Cincinnati. Probably in the whole country.”
“Hmm,” Charlie said. “Flattery will get you somewhere.”
“Charlie...” Debra had entered the kitchen. Her opposition to the ATV idea had been made very clear. Charlie thought she was being a tad overcautious.
“I propose a test,” he said.
Kevin and Debra gave him anxious looks, one hopeful, the other apprehensive.
“Saturday we’ll go over to Kentucky and rent an ATV for an hour.”
Debra started to speak. He held up his hand.
“Let me finish. There’s a safe course over there. We’ll have helmets. We’ll all give it a try.” He nodded at Kevin. “After that, if your Mom still says no, it’s no. Deal?” He directed the last at both of them.
Kevin nodded vigorously. Debra looked concerned, but she would cave. He could tell.
“You think it’s safe?” she said.
“Hey, if it’s not we’ll sue ‘em.”
Kevin thought that was very funny. Debra didn’t laugh.
Charlie squeezed his eyes shut and tried to will away the memory. He needed a drink, enough to put the guilt back in its box for a while.
When he opened his eyes, he saw a pickup truck and another luxury car glide past him, each with the magnetic funeral sign attached to the hood.. He tried to lean forward enough to see the last car on the funeral column. It looked like a hundred or more vehicles back there, the end of the line lost beyond the curve of the highway.
The truck behind him hadn’t budged. No surprise. Something that big couldn’t find a place to turn around on this small road.
Charlie wondered if he could back around the truck and head back into Harmony. He could take the back road for a few miles, maybe get ahead of the funeral before he merged with 23.
He pulled forward as far as he dared, causing the driver of a Volkswagen to open his mouth in alarm. He then cut his wheel, put the Corsica in reverse and discovered he had nowhere to go.
The bastard in the tractor-trailer had straddled the narrow road. There was no room to pass. The yards on both sides had prominent mailboxes blocking the way, so he couldn’t drive on the grass.
“Son of a bitch.” Charlie pulled forward, straightening the wheel and resuming his original spot. He leaned back against the headrest and closed his eyes.
The funeral procession kept coming. He could feel it behind his eyelids, a black train of bad memories calling for him to jump aboard. Making him remember.
It was a fine June day: few clouds in the sky, a nice breeze and 75 degrees. The three of them drove out to Alexandria in the Escalade. Debra had to have her say, as he knew she would.
“He doesn’t ride alone,” she told Charlie.
“Listen to your mother, kiddo. We’ll still have fun,” Charlie said.
Kevin settled back against the seat with a heavy sigh.
The place was called Big Ron’s Off Road Rampage.
Ron, it turned out, had sold the business to Steve, a skinny guy with greasy long hair, who smoked a cigarette with the longest ash Charlie had ever seen. It seemed glued to Steve’s lower lip, and it moved up and down when the man spoke, every syllable threatening to shake loose the ash. Charlie was fascinated. It was like a magic trick.
Steve and his cigarette showed them three different ATVs and Charlie picked the largest one. It was a real monster. “It’ll be safer,” he told Debra.
“Sure will,” Steve said, patting the green body of the machine. “Fuel injected four-by-four. Independent rear suspension.”
“Is that good?” Debra said.
“Mom!” Kevin said.
“It’s good.” Charlie told her.
They got a quick safety lesson from Steve, and each picked out a helmet.
Charlie helped Steve–whose cigarette ash still hadn’t fallen–push their ride out of the garage.
Charlie paid Steve, then climbed on the ATV. He strapped on his helmet.
“Okay,” he said. “Who’s first?”
Kevin looked to his mother. Debra sighed, then finally laughed. “Go on.”
Kevin literally jumped onto the back of the ATV. Clasping his hands around his father’s waist, he said, “This is gonna be fun.”
Sunlight struck the windshield of each car in the funeral procession, sending little bursts of agony into Charlie’s eyes, like semaphore from hell. He had forgotten his sunglasses–they were probably on the kitchen table back at the apartment–which was typical for this day. He turned his head away, and saw a small house with a bird feeder in the front yard. The after-images from the sunlight left whirling spots of yellow in his vision. He blinked for a few seconds and the spots began to fade. He looked out of his windshield again, lowering the sun visor until some of the glare was reduced. Most of the vehicles–especially the SUVs–had tinted windows. But a few didn’t, and within those Charlie saw the passengers staring straight ahead, lost, perhaps, in thoughts of mortality, of why we suffer and die, of whether anything lies beyond.
He could relate.
He was in that procession too recently, and most days he thought he was still there: moving through life in a sort of numb shock watching events unfold from a great distance and hoping–no; praying–that it would end soon.
A Cadillac passed in front of him, driven by a large man with a shock of white hair that stood straight up like the bristles of a brush. Next to him was a small woman, also white-haired, wearing a black pillbox hat, because she had always admired Jackie Kennedy Onasis.
Charlie was looking at his parents, dead for many years.
His mother passed in ‘82. His father almost made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999.
His mother raised a gloved hand in a fleeting wave. His father nodded toward him. For his father, that was nearly an emotional outburst.
Charlie was cold. He put a hand over the heater vent and felt warm air blowing out. But it wasn’t reaching him, as if he were surrounded by a shield of ice.
That was Mom and Dad.
The car passed, and Charlie suddenly was unsure what he had seen.
What do you mean, unsure? That couldn’t have been them.
Of course it wasn’t. He saw two old people who bore a resemblance to his parents, that was all.
But that had been his mother’s hat. No one wore a hat like that.
He took in a deep breath that seared his lungs. He exhaled a plume of smoke.
Oh, God, Kevin. I’m so sorry.
The wheels were spinning.
Charlie would always remember that. He was sitting on the ground, cradling his broken right arm with his left.
Kevin was probably dead, bent all funny under the ATV like that. And the wheels kept spinning on the upside down vehicle.
He wondered if he would get the deposit back on it, then thought that was a silly thing to be thinking about, what with Kevin laying there dead. Charlie realized he might have a concussion. He struggled to his feet and took a step toward the ATV, hesitated, then stepped back.
Maybe he should get help.
Maybe he should have said no when Kevin asked if he could drive. Maybe, Charlie thought, if he had been driving, then he wouldn’t have jerked the wheel at the sight of that squirrel on the path.
He had to get help. Man, was Debra going to be pissed.
Stop thinking like that, goddamnit.
It wasn’t his fault. It must be a concussion. He touched the tender back of his skull and found he wasn’t wearing his helmet. He briefly wondered what happened to it, then looked again at the wrecked ATV with Kevin’s twisted body beneath it.
“I’ll get help, son. You just rest,” he said, and part of him knew–even as he was saying it–how stupid it was. Kevin was dead. He let Kevin drive, and now his son was dead.
Charlie started down the trail, stumbling on rocks and tree roots and downed branches. His vision was doubling, and he lost his footing.
As he fell, time slowed, and the rich brown earth and the rocks and twigs floated gently toward him.
Through the pain in his skull, he forced out one coherent thought: Good. Let it hurt. This is what I deserve.
Charlie saw a pickup truck in the funeral parade that was driven by Brian Soderfeld, his best friend in high school. Brian died from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the year after they graduated. He gave Charlie the finger, then smiled to show that the gesture was only a joke.
The next car contained his grandparents–all four of them–and they didn’t wave because they appeared to be bickering, just they way he remembered them.
Charlie climbed out of the Corsica, barely noticing the cold that had sunken deep into his bones. He walked toward the line of cars.
His Uncle Harold drove a van that passed in front of Charlie. Harold had been a lawyer and had encouraged his nephew’s interest in the profession. Harold had died at his desk, eating lunch, in 1996.
What the hell was happening?
He awoke in a white room that smelled of disinfectant. He had a throbbing headache and the certainty of knowing that his picture perfect life was over.
Debra didn’t come to see him in the hospital.
They rode to Kevin’s funeral in separate cars.
He watched them drive by and he recognized them all now, all the ones who had died. All the lives that had touched and shaped his own. And who else did he have now? Certainly not Debra, who hung up every time he called. There was his sister Beth in Michigan, but they were never close, even before Kevin’s death.
Charlie felt very small and incomplete. It took him a moment to realize why.
Each vehicle that passed by carried in it a sliver of his soul.
The caravan rolled on past him, and he saw aunts and cousins and old friends and a client or two and, as he started to cry, he was surprised to find at least a part of his body that wasn’t frozen.
The last car in line was a long white limousine, one of the sixteen-passenger models. It came to a stop directly in front of Charlie.
The driver got out, dressed impeccably in a white suit and cap. Charlie had never seen him before, but he smiled, which put Charlie at ease. The driver opened one of the rear doors and beckoned Charlie to enter.
Charlie glanced back at his rusted car. The big truck was no longer behind it, but it didn’t matter.
He climbed in the back of the limo and settled back against the heated seats. He could feel his heart begin to thaw.
The driver closed the door, then climbed in the front.
As the car began to move again, Charlie’s son took him by the hand.
There was love in that touch. And forgiveness. It was all he wanted now, all he needed.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Just like Halloween, Pod of Horror #56 is a little scary and bad for your teeth. This time around, we discuss Repairman Jack with New York Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson. Actor-writer-director-producer-carpenter Crobin Bernson gives us the lowdown on his new zombies-disc jockey horror flick DEAD AIR. Editor Michael Knost talks about LEGENDS OF THE MOUNTAIN STATE, WRITER’S WORKSHOP OF HORROR and his plans to rule the world. Nanci has horror’s most comprehensive newscast with The Call of Kalanta and we make somebody a winner in The Tomb of Trivia. Get it at iTunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.
Here’s the table of contents for Appalachian Holiday Hauntings, edited by Michael Knost and Mark Justice, published by Woodland Press:
A Soul’s Wage/Brian J. Hatcher
Lorelei Wakes at Midnight/Patricia Hughes
A Sky Full of Stars and a Big Green Forever/Steve Vernon
The Christmas Bane/S. Clayton Rhodes
Smoke in a Bottle/Steve Rasnic Tem
The Nativity Tray/Sara J. Larson
Apple Head Dolly/Scott Nicholson
Yule Cat/JG Faherty
The Christmas Letter/EmmaLee Pallai
Beggars at Dawn/Elizabeth Massie
The anthology will make it’s debut at Borders in the Huntington Mall in Ona, WV on October 24th. For more information, check www.woodlandpress.com.
I’ll be part of a book signing for Legends of the Mountain State 3: More Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia, on Saturday October 24 at Border’s in the Huntington Mall in Ona, WV.
The book includes my story “The Angry Dark”, set in Matewan and concerning the town’s bloody history.
I’m also happy to note that Appalachian Holiday Hauntings, the anthology I edited with Michael Knost, will make it’s debut at the same event. I’ll post the table of contents in a bit.
If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi. I promise to shower and use deodorant. If you love horror fiction, I think you’ll be satisfied by both books.
Dark Jesters is now out. It has the first Deadneck story since Deadneck Hootenanny, the sold-out chapbook also from Novello Publishers. You can order Dark Jesters and Legends of the Mountain State 3 from the Horror Mall. Click on the titles for a link.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I’m now reading submissions for the Pod of Horror Xmas Story Contest.
The guidelines are simple. I want to see horror stories with a Christmas setting. No limits on language, theme, setting, blah blah blah.
Length: 500-2000 words
Deadline: December 15, 2009
Format: E-mail subs only to podofhorror at aol dot com. Word document or .rtf file. Double space, please. I have old eyes.
Compensation: No pay, but the winning story will be read on Pod of Horror #58, which goes live on December 19, 2009. The winning author will also receive a box of cool stuff from the Pod of Horror Prize Vault.
Monday, September 21, 2009
And here's the cake:
Charlene did a great job, and it tasted wonderful.
By the way, I'll be reading the new DH story "Deadneck Woman" at Horrorfind Weekend in Batltimore. The reading is Friday, 9/25 at 6;45 PM. If you're attending the convention, drop by to jeer me, won't you?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
My rowdy undead rednecks from Deadneck Hootenanny are back in a new story in the upcoming humorous horror collection Dark Jesters, from Novello Publishers, and edited by Nick Cato and L. L. Soares. "Deadneck Woman" is a fun romp through the beer-swillin' world of flesh-eating hillbillies. I had a great time writing it, and, yes, I have more Deadneck stories to tell, if the opportunity presents itself.
Dark Jesters, due out in late September, also includes a tale from my frequent collaborator Dave Wilbanks. Here's the complete lineup:
- FOSSILIZED BRAAAINS by William A. Veselik
- THE PLAGUE OF GENTLEMEN by Matthew Fryer
- TONGS AND THE ROACH by David T. Wilbanks
- BLESS THE BEASTLY CHILDREN by Laura Cooney
- WOLF PLUGS by Jerrod Balzer
- HACKS by Sam Battrick
- PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG by Robert Guffey
- CURSE OF THE BLIND EEL by James Roy Daley
- RETIREMENT by Rob Brooks
- DEADNECK WOMAN by Mark Justice
You can pre-order the book right here.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
On Pod of Horror #55. We talk frights with three novelists: David Jack Bell, Nick Cato and Steven Shrewsbury. Norm Rubenstein reviews a bunch of new and forthcoming titles, The Call of Kalanta offer the genre’s most in-depth news coverage, and we have another winner in The Tomb of Trivia. Get it at iTunes or download it at here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The anthology I'm editing with Michael Knost is open for submission for a couple of more weeks. If you were thinking about writing a story for AHH, you can find the guidelines here.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Here's the cover to Legends of the Mountain State 3, edited by Michael Knost. It includes my story "The Angry Dark", and will be out this fall from Woodland Press.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
"The collection you hold in your hands is an excellent example of what Mark Justice can do with words, imagination, and a generous helping of twisted humor. As I read these tales, I was completely drawn into their storylines. The characters were akin to folks I know or knew growing up, the places familiar ground that I had walked all my life. Mark is damn good at that. He’s the kind of natural storyteller that was once so plentiful in the South, but now has dwindled down to a surviving few. And the man can make you laugh! Laugh so danged hard that you nearly want to pee. (I don’t think I actually pissed myself during the reading of these tales, but I do think I lost a drop or two)."
Meantime, Ron's new novel Hell Hollow is out in a couple of months. Look for a review here very soon.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Intorduction by Ronald Kelly
Nursing Home of the Gods
Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye
Hell is a Lonely Street
The Losers vs Beelphegor
Song of the Bones
Agent of Death
Hole in the Sky
The Truths We Cannot Bear
Monday, August 03, 2009
For those who don't know, Ron is the Southern Fried author of Hell Hollow, The Sick Stuff, Midnight Grinding and a bunch of classic novels from the 90s. You can find out more at his web site.
I couldn't be more humbled that his introduction will be gracing my little book. I can't wait to see it in print.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The title – which may be too long for the book’s spine – contains previously published stories, including the long out-of-print Deadneck Hootenanny.
LATWWBGIME (I hope you don’t mind the acronym) also has several unpublished stories, plus a new 25, 000 word novella.
I'll let you know more when it’s available for pre-order.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Our annual Fourth of July cookout was a nice affair, very mellow and marked by good food, great conversation and a light rain, which was kept at bay by the otherwise unsightly gigantic tree that sprouts from the middle of our deck. Norma did her usual terrific job of preparing food and, as usual, we had way too much. So even after sending plates of grub home with family and friends, we’re still eating leftovers on the Seventh of July.
Not much writing to report on these past couple of weeks. I always intend to be a productive little worker on vacation. Instead, I read, watch movies and sleep late.
Speaking of which, over the last couple of days I've enjoyed Gran Torino, Valkyrie, the animated Wonder Woman movie and Doctor Who: Planet of Death.
I've been reading a bunch of graphic novels this week. I've caught up on the Red Hulk, Justice Society of America and J. Michael Straczynski's run on Thor.
It does look like there is some progress on the publication of my story collection. I hope to be able to announce the details very soon.
Story Station has been updated. The Young Adult fiction online magazine I edit has new stories by Bev Vincent, Debra Purdy Kong and Vicki Miller Livesay. Check them out here. It’s free.
My brother and sister-in-law are in a music video from Davenport Cabinet, the solo project of Travis Stever from Coheed and Cambria. You can watch it here. Charlene is the one singing on the baby monitor. Dave is seen sleeping with a bunch of guitars and, in the last shot of the video, dining on a music sandwich.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
With demonic technology they can raise the dead into an unholy conquering army.
The "necros" destroyed Jubal Slate’s home and everyone he loved. Now the only thing that matters to Slate is payback. No matter how far he has to go or how many undead warriors he must slaughter, Slate and his motley band of followers will stop at nothing to end the reign of the aliens.
Even if it costs them their lives.
When you’ve lost everything, the only thing left is vengeance.
Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road
by Mark Justice and David T. Wibanks
Coming in 2010 from Permuted Press
On Pod of Horror #53, Jonathan Maberry diagnoses PATIENT ZERO and talks about writing BLACK PANTHER for Marvel Comics. Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai introduces Gabriel Hunt, the next generation of pulp heroes. HARLAN COUNTY HORRORS terrorizes the Bluegrass State, thanks to editor Mari Adkins. Norm Rubenstein has the latest reviews and Nanci covers the horror news on The Call of Kalanta. Download the show at i-Tunes or here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Robert B. Parker’s latest is a slim novel –a novella, actually– focusing on the childhood of his best known creation, tough-yet-sensitive PI Spenser. Spenser’s past in Wyoming growing up with his father and two uncles has been referenced by Parker in earlier novels, but this is the first time the reader has been given the story behind Spenser’s development.
The story is filled with boxing lessons, an encounter with the titular grizzly, Spenser’s first rescue of a fair maiden, the first time Spenser causes a bad guy’s death, a fight with the town bully and instructions on how to have a manly code of honor.
In other words, typical Parker.
The thing is, I love Parker’s writing, and Chasing the Bear, short as it is, stands as a fine addition to the PI’s canon.
One caveat: the incidents in Spenser’s boyhood alternate with contemporary chapters featuring Spenser and his shrink girlfriend Susan discussing said events. The subject of Susan is a touchy one among many Spenser fans.However, I find the relationship between the two to be a warm and comfortable part of the series. And Parker’s dialogue crackles here, as always.
Chasing the Bear will tide fans over until the Fall release of The Professional, the next Spenser novel.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
On the writing front, work is progressing on that horror novel.
I’m also going to be serializing an adventure novel on the web, beginning in July. I hope to post a chapter a week. I grew up with two-fisted pulp fiction and I’ve enjoyed dipping my writer-ly toe into the waters in the past. So far it’s a lot of fun. It will be challenging to keep up the schedule.
Now the big news: Dave Wilbanks and I have sold a novel. We’re signing the contracts now, and will hopefully be able to announce details soon. We’re also in the early stages of writing a new novel. I love this part of the process, bouncing ideas around and hammering out the details. Dave’s a great collaborator, and not just because he never makes too much fun of my dopier ideas.
And the other good news: It looks like I’ve sold a short story collection. I just got the word, and no other details have been delivered. Again, I’ll let you know more when I can.
Recent reads: The Judas Strain by James Rollins, Chasing the Bear by Robert B. Parker, The Boxer and the Spy by Robert B. Parker. Currently reading Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler.
We saw the new Star Trek movie last weekend. Believe every positive review you’ve heard. It’s that good. I hope to see it again on the big screen. I’m also looking forward to Angels and Demons and Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell. A trusted source has seen Terminator: Salvation and says it’s spectacular.
I’m getting thrown out of the house tonight so Norma can have a Mama Mia party. Tomorrow we’re watching Taken.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
As someone who grew up reading the paperback reprints of Doc Savage, Operator 5 and The Spider, I’ve lamented the fact that it’s hard to find new fiction that satisfies the pulp itch (a condition that no amount of Gold Bond Medicated Powder can relieve). Fortunately, adventure fiction lives, thanks to Leisure Books.
Hunt at the Well of Eternity launches a new line of novels starring contemporary two-fisted explorer-adventurer Gabriel Hunt, heir to the legacy of Doc Savage and Indiana Jones (many readers will not be able to stop smiling when one of those characters is obliquely referenced in the book).
When Eternity begins, Hunt already has several adventures behind him, a device that allows the reader to be pulled immediately into a high-octane escapade involving a stained Confederate flag, Mayans and a secret that could change the world. The action explodes every few pages, propelling the reader through the book at the speed of light.
Hunt at the Well of Eternity is a slim novel--just 226 pages. It proves to be the perfect length for this type of yarn, and it highlights the fact that publishing concerns require most modern thrillers to be bloated to an often unnecessary length.
The Hunt concept was created by Charles Ardai, the man behind Hard Case Crime. For this inaugural Hunt installment, Ardai wisely handed the writing chores to James Reasoner, one of my favorite western authors. Reasoner’s Death Head Crossing is one of the finest westerns in recent memory.
Hunt at the Well of Eternity could be used as a tool to teach prospective writers how to construct an adventure novel. Reasoner’s pacing, humor and descriptions of action are a blueprint for writing a satisfying page turner. In fact, the only negative is that readers have to wait two months for the next Gabriel Hunt novel.
I look forward to future installments. I just hope the next Hunt novels can come close to the high standard Reasoner has set with Hunt at the Well of Eternity.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
There's a nice review of Dead Earth: The Green Dawn here.
Dave and I are working hard to get the sequel novel in print, and we hope to have news very soon.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Currently Watching: In Plain Sight. This is one of Norma’s favorite shows, and we’ve caught up on Season Two. Star Mary McCormack’s lips have gone from hideously overinflated to just kind of rough looking. Check out photos of her from the movie Private Parts or The West Wing series. Nothing wrong with those lips. But she got ‘em all mangled up for In Plain Sight. Thankfully, in the second season, those monster lips are start to return to normal.
Currently reading: Castaways by Brian Keene. Cross Survivor with Richard Laymon’s Beast House and you’ve got a real page-turner. Great fun.
Here’s an interview with my buddy Ron Fortier, the man who’s working harder than anybody at keeping pulp fiction alive.
Monday, April 27, 2009
If you remembered that, you’re one up on me. Oh, I knew it. I simply chose to ignore it for a long time.
I was diagnosed in 2001. For a long time, I was great about monitoring my glucose. I ate the right stuff. I took my medication. I exercised regularly. I tested.
But my insurance didn’t cover testing supplies, so it became easier and easier to say, “I feel pretty good; I’ll test tomorrow” until I wasn’t testing at all. It also was quite simple to say, “That piece of pie I had last night didn’t bother me, so let’s have another one tonight.”
I still took my pills and I still exercised. And I was able to fool myself into thinking everything was fine.
Until I went to Mexico last November.
While spending a great day in the pool at our resort I ground massive blisters into the bottom of both feet. These developed into two deep ulcers, for which I had to see the Mexican doctor. I’ll save that story for later (except to say that when I got back home I went directly to my doc, who took a look at the oral medicine the Mexican physician gave me. He said, “I have no idea what the hell this is” then he threw the pills away). He told me to keep the wounds clean and that was about it.
So I did. And I tried to minimize the time spent on my feet. My daily walks were put on hold.
A few months passed, and the wounds began to heal. But after a certain point, they stopped. As long as progress was being made I could tell myself that I didn’t need to go to the doctor.
Meanwhile, my energy level had fallen dramatically. There were days – most days -- when it was all I could to drag myself through the door after work. And the idea of doing anything else, including writing, seemed impossible.
Norma convinced me to start monitoring my glucose again. I did, and the number was shockingly high. Apparently the amount of walking I normally did kept the glucose level slightly in check. Once I couldn’t take long walks, the sugar shot up.
I immediately cut out carbs and started trying to get the number down.
About that same time, I mentioned my situation to a coworker. It turned out that he had an appointment the following week with a new podiatrist, and while there, he mentioned my problem. The doctor advised my friend to send me in as soon as possible. So the next day I was getting the wounds examined. The doctor said they were clean and well cared for, but they were never going to fully heal because of where they were located.
Now I wear special shoes that take the pressure off the ulcers and I make weekly trips to the wound care center. I’m on the mend.
And the blood sugar is finally back in normal range, after the addition of a new medication. I’ve dropped a lot of weight over the past several weeks, and I’m exercising again, albeit not by walking, but that will come soon.
I’m pretty sure I will stay motivated. On my first visit to the wound care center, I sat in the waiting room with a number of overweight people, many in wheelchairs. The guy sitting next to me was polishing off a big burger and a bag of chips. Another patient, obviously a regular, asked Chip Boy, “How ya doin’, Ronnie?”
“Awright,” Chip Boy said. “They cut off another one of my toes last week, but I don’t know what’s wrong.”
That was the moment I vowed that will never be me.
I decided to share this story for those few who might wonder where I’ve gone or why they haven’t gotten a story/article/review from me in a timely manner
Now I’m feeling good again. I’m back to work on my writing and editing. While I didn’t finish the novel in March, I don’t see any reason I can’t type “The End” by late May or early June. I’m also working my way through the submissions for Appalachian Holiday Hauntings, so keep those stories coming.
And if you ever see me chowing down on a Snicker’s bar, slap me up the side of my egg-shaped skull, okay?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
This was a bad week.
People who don’t have pets or don’t like animals or think all dogs and cats belong outside should stop reading now.
Those who have pets or are animal lovers know how these little critters can enrich your life and worm their way into your hearts.
In November of 1995 we got two little kittens, a male and female brother and sister. We were supposed to actually get two males, but the kittens’s owner gave us the wrong one, though we didn’t know it at the time. We took them directly to our vets for a feline leukemia test. We had just lost a cat to that insidious disease and were determined it wouldn’t happen again. During the course of the test, we found out one of the kittens was female. We briefly debated taking her back and getting the other male, but while we had been waiting for the results, the tiny female had been curled up on Norma’s chest, never looking away from her eyes. They were irrevocably bonded.
When the vet asked the name of the two cats for their charts, I said the first thing that popped into my head, the name of a then-popular television series.
Thus, Lois and Clark joined our family.
Over the past few weeks, Lois had been acting odd. She was throwing up frequently, wasn’t grooming like she usually did, had lost a little weight and wouldn’t play as much as she normally had. At first, I put it off to old age. Recently, though, I was sure something was wrong.
Monday we took her to the vet, who decided she had a mass in her abdomen. On Tuesday the vet did exploratory surgery and found that Lois’s little body was filled with cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. The vet could sew her up and send her home for a few weeks of progressively worse pain. Or we could let her go while she was still under, painlessly and peacefully.
As much as we wanted to keep her with us for even a few more days, we knew it would be selfish to let her suffer for our needs.
So we went into the operating room and kissed this sweet, gentle angel goodbye.
It’s one of the hardest things either of us has ever had to do.
There have been a lot of tears over he last few days. Nights are the worst for me. That’s when Lois would climb into bed with me, purring and “kissing” my lips and nose. I think morning are hardest for Norma, as Lois would sit in the chair with her while she worked at the computer.
But we have Clark to concentrate on, as well as our newest cat, Callie. Clark especially needs extra love now, as he wanders from room to room in this house, looking for his sister.
We had Lois cremated, and she rests now in a beautiful urn just a few feet from where I sit, in her favorite room.
I hope that the pain will diminish in the coming weeks and I can concentrate on the nearly 14 years of wonderful memories that I have of my little sweetheart. But right now it feels like an enormous hole has been carved out of my heart.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Final Stoker Ballot 2009
Superior Achievement in a Novel
COFFIN COUNTY by Gary Braunbeck (Leisure Books)
THE REACH by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books)
DUMA KEY by Stephen King (Scribner)
JOHNNY GRUESOME by Gregory Lamberson (Bad Moon Books/Medallion Press)
Superior Achievement in a First Novel
MIDNIGHT ON MOURN STREET by Christopher Conlon (Earthling Publications)
THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press)
MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin (Delirium Books)
THE SUICIDE COLLECTORS by David Oppegaard (St. Martin's Press)
FROZEN BLOOD by Joel A. Sutherland (Lachesis Publishing)
Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock Press)
MIRANDA by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
REDEMPTION ROADSHOW by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy Press)
THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
PETRIFIED by Scott Edelman (Desolate Souls)
THE LOST by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance Publications)
THE DUDE WHO COLLECTED LOVECRAFT by Nick Mamatas, and Tim Pratt (Chizine)
EVIDENCE OF LOVE IN A CASE OF ABANDONMENT by M. Rickert (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
TURTLE by Lee Thomas (Doorways)
Superior Achievement in an Anthology
LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
HORROR LIBRARY, VOL. 3 edited by R. J. Cavender (Cutting Block Press)
BENEATH THE SURFACE edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)
UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder (Dark Scribe Press)
Superior Achievement in a Collection
THE NUMBER 121 TO PENNSYLVANIA by Kealan Patrick Burke (Cemetery Dance Publications)
MAMA'S BOY and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel (Apex Publications)
JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King (Scribner)
MR. GAUNT AND OTHER UNEASY ENCOUNTERS by John Langan (Prime Books)
GLEEFULLY MACABRE TALES by Jeff Strand (Delirium Books)
Superior Achievement in Nonfiction
CHEAP SCARES by Gregory Lamberson (McFarland)
ZOMBIE CSU by Jonathan Maberry (Citadel Press)
A HALLOWE'EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton (McFarland)
THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR by Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley (HarperCollins)
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)
THE PHANTOM WORLD by Gary William Crawford (Sam's Dot Publishing)
VIRGIN OF THE APOCALYPSE by Corrine De Winter (Sam's Dot Publishing)
ATTACK OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty (Skullvines Press)
Sunday, March 15, 2009
On Pod of Horror #52, we interview legendary author, film maker and artist Clive Barker. Also, 90s horror icon Ronald Kelly has returned in a big way, and we discover where he went and what the future holds for his fans. Nanci is here with the Call of Kalanta, Norm Rubenstein offers a bunch of new reviews and we give away tons of horror in The Tomb of Trivia. Get it at i-Tunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.