Sunday, August 19, 2007

Peru Earthquake Relief

Cesar Puch lives in Peru and is a frequent visit to my message board. He recently posted the following. I wanted to share it here. Hopefully, you will be moved enough to assist in some small way:

Hi guys,

Sorry for bringing this up but some of you mentioned I should let you know if there was anyway to help those affected by this weeks Earthquake in Peru, and maybe there is.

The following text is from Facebook group "Support Peruvian Earthquake Victims":

ACCOUNT NAME: Embassy of Peru – Sismo Peru 2007
- HSBC Bank: Account # 389060178, Routing # 021001088.
- Bank of America: Account # 2260 0024 9603
- Citibank: Account # 15378535 Routing # 254070116

Checks can be mailed to the following address:
1700 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington DC 20036

For additional information, please call (202) 833-9860.

7050 N.W. 51 St.
Miami Florida 33166
Phone: 305 599- 6369
Att. Coronel Ernesto Ortiz

Some towns of southern Peru are completely devastated, the number of deaths is already over 500 and it will continue to rise as aid reaches more isolated areas. There are over 80,000 people left without shelter, food, or clothes. Ica, Pisco, Chincha and Canete are gone with over 70% of all buildings completely destroyed. Poor people have lost everything and are sleeping outside on the streets in one of the worst winters in the history of South America.

We cannot see and hear all these things and do nothing about it. Massive donations are currently needed. I know many of you would like to collaborate so here are some links to relief agencies that are currently accepting donations to help Peru. Just imagine loosing everything you own unexpectedly in a little over two minutes and being unable to do something to stop it from happening.

Please invite as many people as you can to join this group
RED CROSS: donate: Peru Earthquake

Many thanks to all.


The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

In James lee Burke’s 16th Dave Robicheaux novel, the author and his creation deal with the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and the abandonment of the city’s poorest citizens by the local, state and federal government.

As Katrina strikes, Robicheaux and the rest of the New Iberia Parish sheriff’s department are dispatched to the Big Sleazy to offer aid. As a result, Robicheaux becomes entangled in a case involving a middle-class white couple suspected of shooting a black looter in the storm’s aftermath. The looters broke into the home of one of the city’s biggest mobsters, a man who is rumored to have used a chainsaw to cut off the legs of the driver who accidently killed his small son. As in all of Burke’s crime novels, the resolution of the case isn’t as important as the arc of the characters and Burke’s observations on class, crime and social injustice.

In The Tin Roof Blowdown, Burke’s anger over the way Katrina and New Orleans were handled by our government is so palpable it nearly sears the eyes of the reader. With disbelief, he chronicles the rapidity of the city’s collapse into barbarism. At one point Robicheaux observes, “We saw an American city turned into Baghdad.”

Burke’s writing has never been more moving, as in this passage describing Katrina’s victims: “They drowned in attics and on the second floors of their houses. They drowned along the edges of Highway 23 when they tried to drive out of Plaquemines Parish. They drowned in retirement homes and in trees and on car tops while they waved frantically at helicopters flying by overhead. They died in hospitals and nursing homes of dehydration and heat exhaustion, and they died because an attending nurse could not continue to operate a hand ventilator for hours upon hours without rest.”

Through Robicheaux, Burke finds plenty of blame to spread around, including the enduring theme of this series: “The old southern nemesis was back, naked and raw and dripping -- absolute hatred for the poorest of the poor.”

The only part of the novel that didn’t work for me was the subplot involving a defrocked Catholic priest, a junkie who apparently died while trying to free hurricane survivors from the attic of a church. His story feels unresolved. Since much of Katrina’s aftermath also remains unsettled, perhaps this is fitting.

While I’ve enjoyed all of Burke’s work, this entry in the Robicheaux series is the most focused
and hard-edged in years. Dave Robicheaux’s endless reservoir of rage finally has a worthy foe.

After reading The Tin Roof Blowdown, you may feel you do, as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Deadneck Duct Tape

What do world famous oceanographers do in their free time? Apparently, they design book covers. Dr. David Gallo, from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a frequent visitor to my home base of Ashland, KY, the location of the now infamous Duct Tape Bandit. So Dr. Gallo -- the smartest listener of Pod of Horror -- had a little fun with my Deadneck Hootenanny cover.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Horrorfind Snapshots

Courtesy of Erik and Laurie Alkenbrack.

Lazylion, Erik, me and my brother Dave offer support to Nanci Kalanta.

Nanci and I adopt the no-double-chin pose.

At Baltimore's Inner Harbor, thinking, "Mmmmm, onion rings from The Hard Rock Cafe."

Nanci, myself and Dave in a post-Johnny Rocket burger stupor at the Inner Harbor

Monday, August 13, 2007

Horrorfind 2007

Horrorfind 2007 was certainly a mixed bag, but still an overwhelmingly positive experience, thanks to the time I spent with friends.

First, my gal pal Nanci Kalanta was a blast as usual. From organizing a trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Saturday when we realized there was nothing to do at the con for five or six hours, to her “five minute bottle” contest Saturday night, a good time was had by anyone within her sphere of influence.

One of the highlights of the con is spending time with Erik and Laurie Alkenbrack, two of the nicest people I know. It’s always a pleasure to talk horror and politics with them. This year I was converted into an honorary Canadian by their gifts of socks, wristbands, a pin and hockey jersey all adorned with the maple leaf. On top of that, Laurie brought me homemade cookies and butter tarts that induced mouthgasms in everyone who sampled them. And it wouldn’t be Horrorfind without Laurie’s White Russians.

My reading on Friday was in doubt thanks to my voice problem, but on the drive up with my brother the voice got a little better. Two hours in the hotel bar prior to the reading seemed to patch up my vocal chords enough to get me through the story, though the presence of the legendary Tom Monteleone in the small audience nearly iced me. The whole thing was captured by Nanci’s video camera. She’s threatening to post it somewhere.

I shared my reading with Erik Tomblin, a fine writer who did a great job on a spooky little tale.

After the reading, I managed to sell the few copies of Deadneck Hootenanny I had brought with me.

Speaking of Tom, his reading followed mine and the man is simply the master. He read his story from Taverns of the Dead, totally enthralling the packed house. Amazingly, Tom can play broad and still maintain an intimate connection with every audience member. Anyone who plans to make any public appearance or reading should seek him out. He’s definitely the gold standard. He’s a helluva writer, too, but I figure you already know that.

I also ran into several fans of Pod of Horror.

I got a chance to speak with old pal Mark Seiber a couple of times. We share a common love of Doc Savage, horror and movies, though Mark is the more experienced cinefile. He has so much enthusiasm for the horror genre and its writers that a few minutes around gets me even more jazzed about the books and films.

Another fine reading was the hour split between Norman Prentiss and Bill “C-Word” Carl. Their two stories couldn’t have been more different, yet each was fascinating and the performances were top notch.

I know I’ll forget a few names but it was good to speak to Beth Massie, Steve Wedel, Marcy and G Italiano, Ron Dickie, Douglas F. Warrick, Tomo, Matt and Deena Warner, Beth Blue, KelliwithanI and her sister and...several more folks who would have been mentioned here if it weren’t for Laurie Alk’s White Russians.

Special thanks must be given to Tomo and Matt Warner, whose careful observation alerted me to a faulty zipper situation on Friday night. Thanks for looking, boys!

The trip to the Inner Harbor was a lot of fun. Baltimore’s Light Rail is a comfortable and inexpensive way to travel. A nightmare. Instead, we were able to ride in comfort. The Harbor was as busy as Disneyworld on the Fourth of July and it was pretty friggin’ hot. The place had changed so much since my last visit there, twelve or fifteen years ago. Still, it was good to get away from the hotel for a while.

Jimster made his usual Saturday night appearance in the hotel lobby to hand out free horror, SF and fantasy books. His generosity is enormous and he’s one of the greatest ambassadors the genre has. Thanks to Jim, I scored a copy of the western novel The Lawmen by Lee Davis Willoughby, a pen name for Richard Laymon. It was a book I never expected to find, and one I can’t wait to read. Jim also gave me Sherlock Holmes’s War of the Worlds by Manly Wade Wellman and Wade Wellman. I saw this book when it came out in 1975. At the time I only had the money for one paperback and I chose the latest Doc Savage reprint. When I went back to the store the next week with money in hand, the book was gone. I had forgotten about it until Jim dug it out of his box on Saturday night.

Jim actually had more books than any dealer at this year’s Horrorfind, which leads to the mixed bag” mentioned at the beginning. When I attended my first HF several years ago the balance between books and movies was nearly even. Every year since it had tilted toward the cinema end of the spectrum. I love movies, but I first came to Horrorfind for the authors and the publishers, so it’s a little sad to see so much less emphasis on the written word. I realize that the convention certainly makes far more money off the movie fan, but it would be nice to feel that horror fiction wasn’t the red-headed stepchild of the con. From the comments many of the attendees made, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the readings phased out in the next couple of years.

There were also fewer dealers in the big room. The rumor mill said it was due to an increase in table rates. It was certainly easier to get around in there this year. It took maybe fifteen minutes to check out everything in the room.

The best part of the con was seeing old friends, and that’s the way it should be. If I go next year, that will be the only reason. Still, it would be nice it the convention organizers reversed their current trend and made books once more an important part of Horrorfind.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Way Mark's Universe Works

I leave in the morning for the annual Horrorfind Weekend in Baltimore, where I'm doing a reading tomorrow night.

And today I'm losing my voice.

I've worked late the past three nights, going from the extreme heat to the AC. I suspect sinuses and the lack of sleep have taken their toll. I'm resting the voice today so, hopefully, when 6:00 p.m. Friday rolls around, I'll be able to provide voices to all my characters.

If you're going to the con, drop by Salon F to see if I sound like Froggy from Little Rascals.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pimping Pod of Horror

Help spread the word about Pod of Horror and you could win an ARC of TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME by Brian Keene.

Here’s how it works:

Post a link to the current episode of PoH on your website, blog, Live Journal or My Space page.

Here’s the URL:

Then post a link to your site in this thread on the Justice & Wilbanks message board :

The deadline is August 31, 2007.

In early September, I’ll select a winner by random drawing to win the ARC of TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME.

Start posting. And thanks for listening to Pod of Horror.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Grief Enough To Encircle The World

This was a story I wrote for a contest Hellnotes had a couple of years ago. The idea was to use one of their "prompts" -- in the case "something bad is happening to the moon" -- and write a story of 1000 words or less. Here's what I came up with.

Grief Enough to Encircle the World
By Mark Justice

I hadn’t seen Jeremy since sophomore year of college, after Raiders of the Lost Ark led him to switch his major from English Lit to Archaeology. I stayed in journalism, my dreams of a career as a crusading journalist giving way to a position in sales at a newspaper in Massachusetts, a victory of economics over integrity.

We lost touch over the next two decades. While he delved into the past, I struggled through two marriages, a drinking problem and a firing. When Jeremy’s letter reached me, I was selling cars at a Ford dealership in Worcester and hating every minute of it.

The return address was someplace in Vermont. The message was simple: “Please come.”

So I did. I took a vacation from the car lot and drove my ten-year-old Taurus up I-89 to a small house set next to the woods outside Burlington.

Jeremy had aged a lifetime in twenty years. Rail-thin, with sunken eyes and thinning hair, he greeted me like the ghost of a friend.

He invited me in to the cluttered house, leading me through a living room deep in dirty dishes, through a dark hallway, to the screened-in porch. A thin chunk of stone, maybe two feet in diameter, rested on an easel. Several books and writing pads were on a card table. Jeremy pulled two beers from a cooler.

“Still a Rolling Rock man?” he said.

“Not anymore,” I said. Just the sight of the bottle made my mouth go dry.

“Oh. Okay.” He put one bottle back, opened his and took a long swallow. “Thanks for coming.”

“Yeah. So, you okay? You look...”

“Rough?” He chuckled. “I know. You ever marry?”

“Twice. You?”

He looked away. “Once. I met her on a dig in Ireland. Her name was Isabella. She was...” He made a small sound, like a cough. “She was everything.”

“Where is she, man?”

He rested his hand on the stone. “We found this in Syria. It’s the find of a lifetime, the culmination of everything we had worked for, the cornerstone of....”

“What happened?”

“There was an accident. A cave-in. Isabella, she...”

I stepped out in the back yard to smoke and to give him some privacy. In about five minutes, he joined me.

“Why did you come?” Jeremy said.

I shrugged. The smoke from my cigarette curled over the surface of the full moon. “You’re my friend.”

“A friend you haven’t seen in a long time.”

I dropped the cigarette on the damp grass. “Things haven’t been good for me in a long time. I needed a change of scenery.”

He chuckled again.

“Why did you ask me up here, Jeremy?”

“I need your help. I’m going to bring Isabella back to life.”


After he talked me out of leaving, we sat on the porch and he tried to explain.

“The old gods,” he said. “Every culture had them. Isabella believed they existed.”

I snorted. He pretended not to hear.

“She had a theory. There’s not enough time to show you the evidence, so just listen. Isabella believed that all physical manifestations of the gods were the result of the merging of a human with what she called the God Force. She thought this was an energy that has always existed, shapeless and without sentience until it became part of a human. The ancient writings she discovered led her to conclude that only a few knew how to perform the unification ceremony, and once that knowledge was lost, it never happened again.”

I nodded toward the piece of stone. “And that’s where this comes in?”

“She died to find this. I’m going to use it. With the power of a god, I can bring her back. Will you help?”

I thought of how crazy it sounded. Then I remembered the ten-hour days at the car lot.

I opened a beer.

“What do I have to do?” I said.


I had to read some funny words that Jeremy had written phonetically on several yellow pages from a legal pad. He would be standing in a circle of stones in the yard, also chanting. And waving an odd looking knife around. Making sacred glyphs in the moonlight, he said.

I didn’t understand and I didn’t believe. I would see this “ceremony” through, then go back to my boring, sober life.

Sometime after midnight, Jeremy began his strange dance inside the stone circle. The blade of the knife flashed and pulsed in the moonlight.

“Nee-tay cole-zall-tay ree-kaw-no,” I said, along with many other meaningless phrases. At least I thought them meaningless until the moon went dark.

An eclipse? But this wasn’t gradual. It was sudden, total darkness, as if a celestial light switch had been turned off.

I dug my lighter from my pocket. The circle of stones was still there. Jeremy wasn’t.

I walked around the circle but I couldn’t find him. He must have run into the trees. I started in that direction. Then the moon was back.

The return of light was accompanied by a wail of pain and despair, resonating deep in my skull.

The scream came again and this time my own voice joined it. The pain was terrible and it forced my head up until I could see the surface of the full moon.

Jeremy’s face was spread across the yellow globe. His eyes were open wide in anger and confusion.

And something else.


Jeremy screamed again and the earth shook. Crimson lightning tore the sky apart.

I knew he could see me. I knew he could see everyone.

He mouthed a silent word. It was his wife’s name.

The ground quaked and a large fissure opened near the house. The structure began to collapse. The red lightning struck the trees, lighting them afire.

Jeremy blamed me, blamed the world.

There would be no resurrection tonight. There would only be revenge.

The vengeance of a mad god.

Pod of Horror #37: Tim Lebbon, Michael Arnzen

On Pod of Horror #37 we shake the rafters of the genre with more than an hour of action!

* Tim Lebbon reflects on his recent USA trip and dishes on upcoming books.

* Novelist, poet, teacher and musician Michael Arnzen shares tracks from AUDIOVILE.

* Reviewer Scott Bradley is back with a major announcement about his first book!

* In The Call of Kalanta, Nanci has the 411 on the horror scene, but will she come through with Necon gossip?

* And there are free books galore with The Tomb of Trivia.

Pod of Horror is produced and hosted by Mark Justice. Download it at I-Tunes or direct to your desktop.

And be sure to drop by the Justice & Wilbanks message board.


Deadneck Hootenanny has hit Ebay.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rainy Day People

I've been making my way through this great anthology the past few days. If you have a copy, push your chair away from the computer and turn to page 148 to experience "Rainy Day People" by T. M. Wright.

It's a beautiful story, surreal and horrifying. I hope awards committees are listening.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mr. Hands

My review of Gary Braunbeck's new novel can be found over at Horror World.