Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pod of Horror #47: Leblanc, Everson and Youers

On Pod of Horror #47, we dish with Deborah LeBlanc about writing, cajun healing, literacy and the HWA. John Everson talks about his Stoker award-winning novel COVENANT. And newcomer Rio Youers introduces himself and his novel EVERDEAD. Plus Nanci noshes about the news, Norm Rubenstein brings on the reviews, and we give stuff away. Pod of Horror is produced and hosted by Mark Justice. Download it at I-Tunes or direct to your desktop.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008


So when the hospital gift shop closed at an unreasonable hour, I trucked over to Empire Books and picked up some magazines. Got Doorways #6 with fiction from Clive Barker and the Little boys, Bentley and John R., the latest Rue Morgue and the Oct/Nov F&SF with a new Stephen King story.

New book arrivals this week:

The Minotauress by Edward Lee
Skull Cathedral by Tim Waggoner
Shattered by Jay Bonansinga

Meet Scarlet Justice

There hasn't been much writing the last few days. But I have spent a lot of time at the hospital waiting on my niece to arrive.

Ain't she a cutie?

Kudos to Cabell-Huntington Hospital in Huntington, WV, simply one of the best care facilities I've every been in (except the gift shop closes too damn early, just as I was in dire need of reading material).

Say Uncle

My niece was born in the wee hours of this morning. My brother and his wife and doing fine, if exhausted, and Baby Scarlet is perfect.

I think I'm going to enjoy this uncle gig.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When Civilization Ends...

...I'll be screwed. The water was off for about seven hours yesterday (due to a water line break about a half-mile from the house where, I swear, the water department has "fixed" four times in the last six weeks) and you'd think we were both in "the box" right out of some prison camp movie. I've never been so thirsty, even though we had plenty of refrigerated soft drinks and juices. I wanted water, dammit. Thankfully, just as I was crawling across the living room floor, a mirage of an oasis swimming before my eyes, the water came back on. Sweet, sweet water. Of course it looked like Lipton's Tea, but it was wet.

Add this experience to the (I'm not making this up) 8 times our electricity has gone off this year.

Bring on Mad Max/I Am Legend/The Stand. I'm ready. As long as there's air conditioning.

Dave likes the Dead Earth sequel. Now we're waiting on comments from our first readers.

Then we'll see what happens. Regardless, I feel good about it. We're ready to map out the next entry in the series.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So How Was Your Weekend?

Other than a small automobile woe early Saturday and a touch of upset stomach tonight, it’s been pretty good.

It was a rare weekend off for me, and I only had two goals (always set the bar low, says I): to send out the synopsis for the anthology (it’s a licensed character and it has to be approved in advance) and finish the edits on the Dead Earth sequel.

I managed to do both.

I also took a long walk this morning with my wife, chopped about 8000 tomatoes for her lasagna sauce, and watched some movies. Here’s a quick recap:

Shutter: Okay, a bit predictable. C
The Bucket List: Much better than I expected. B+
Definitely, Maybe: Exactly what I expected. B-
Dead and Gone: I think I’ll save this for a later post, along with my review of the novel.


I really missed Horrorfind this year, though the negative reviews make me glad I didn’t waste the money.

I’m thinking of checking out Context at the end of September. It’s pretty close (less than three hours) and has a lineup of guests that sounds interesting.


So far, Brides of the Impaler by Edward Lee is very good.

Steve King and Me--The Book of Lists: Horror

The Book of List: Horror goes on sale September 16th. It has lists from an eclectic lineup that includes Stephen King, Johnny Ramone, Ray Bradbury, Edward Lee, Eli Roth...and Mark Justice???

How the hell did he get in there?

Anyway, it's a huge collection of horror-related lists from writers, film makers, musicians and such.

My list involves my favorite horror stories from the bloody pulps.

You can pre-order this bad boy here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lee Rocks

I've been waiting to read Edward Lee's Brides of the Impaler since I first heard about it. I mean, the only thing that would make me want to read a vampire novel these days is if you told me Lee or Gary Braunbeck had written it.

Imagine my surprise when my copy of Brides came in the mail today, I flipped to the Acknowledgments page and found my name listed there.

A cool moment for a die hard Lee fan.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Old Brain, New Books

I think I’m reading slower than I used to.

I don’t mean move-my-lips, put-my-finger-on-each-word slow. It’s just that my reading speed seems to have decreased over the last few years. Twenty years ago I could read a book a day. Now, not so much.

Of course, twenty years ago I didn’t have a cell phone, email, DVR, a DVD player and The World Wide Computer Interweb. I wasn’t working as hard as I do now and I wasn’t trying to write for a couple of hours a day (though I wish I had).

Twenty years ago I could drop everything to devour the new King or Straub novel. Now, if I’m lucky, I get to read for 10 minutes in bed before I zonk out.

I have to do something about that. I’ve added a lot to my TBR pile this week alone.

At least the writing has been going well lately. In fact this may be the most productive week I’ve had in a while.

I still have to get some pages done tonight before bed. Tomorrow is a work day from hell, so little, if any, writing will get done.

This weekend I have to finish the edits on the Dead Earth sequel and produce a synopsis for an anthology invite.

New Book Arrivals at Casa de Justice:

The Academy by Bentley Little
Secret Histories (Young Repairman Jack) by F. Paul Wilson
Just Like Hell by Nate Southard.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Making It Count

Suicide wasn’t painless.

Scott Queen realized this when he surfaced from the foul-smelling river approximately eight hours after he jumped in. The sunlight hurt his eyes, but that was the only thing he felt. The hunger would come later.

When some tree-hugger protested that Scott’s chemical plant was harming the river with runoff, Scott scoffed, then quietly paid off the state and local officials to make sure nobody looked too closely at what was being dumped in the water. Things had gone well for a long time, until a stupid state senator was caught with a hooker, and confessed every bad thing he’d ever done, including taking money from Scott Queen.

Scott could have survived an EPA probe. The weak-ass agency would have handed out a fine, and that would have been the end of it.

But the IRS got involved. Their investigation uncovered most of Scott’s secrets, including large amounts of unclaimed income scattered across the globe. His lawyer told him that he had to surrender in the morning. The shyster also informed Scott to prepare himself for prison, perhaps a very long stretch.

He couldn’t survive incarceration. His life was over. So he drove to the bridge and made it official.

Or so he thought.

It turned out the tree-huggers were right. All those chemicals his plant poured into the river did have a bad effect.

Scott dog-paddled to the bank and trudged up to the road. Just before he reached the top of the hill he saw a homeless man, sleeping beneath a tattered army jacket.

When he was alive Scott would have crossed the street to avoid anyone who looked and smelled like this guy. But things had changed.

The need instantly turned Scott into a ravenous beast. He pounced on the homeless man, ripping open his throat. The man struggled weakly for just a moment. Scott grabbed a rock and bashed open the skull. He scooped out the spongy brain and gobbled it down. After that, his mind went away for a while.

When he awoke, Scott was still in the tall grass next to the highway. The corpse of the homeless man lay a few feet away like a discarded beer can.

It hurt to think. The hunger was coming back. Scott sensed that it would soon consume his thoughts. Whatever he had been would certainly be replaced by a shambling, starving monster.

That’s when he knew what he had to do, with whatever time he had left.

When the car stopped for him, he ate the driver. Later, he drove to the state capitol with the dead man in the back seat.

Over those last few miles it was hard to remember where he was going. Then he saw the sign: INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE. The workday had just started, so Scott parked in the lot. He could wait. Soon it would be noon, and the busy workers would take a break from ruining lives.

Scott would be ready for lunch.

© 2008 Mark Justice


I love Weeds, my current favorite show. The writing is crisp and funny, and they pack a lot into 30 minutes.

Mary-Louise Parker is nominated for an Emmy again this year, and holy crap, does she deserve it. Especially after the scene this week where she talks to Shane about masturbating to her pictures and to Silas about banging the older neighbor woman (played by the talented Julie Bowen).

And all this raving is not because last week’s show gave us the most Mary-Louise nudity we’ve ever had.*

So, come Emmy time, I’ll cast my vote for M-LP.

You know, if, uh, I could vote.

*Disclaimer added in case my wife reads this.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Steve Earle and Early Autumn

When I interview writers for Pod of Horror, I usually ask about their writing routines. Many writers have to write to music. Some need total silence. I don’t prefer either way. It just depends on my mood. However, the last few days I’ve written up a storm to Outlaw Country on Sirius Satellite Radio. It must be something about the combination of rockabilly and the Loon in the Afternoon, Mojo Nixon, that gets these fingers dancing on the keys. But, hey, as long as it works...


We’re having Fall weather in August. This morning it was 52 degrees as I drove to work. I know it will all too soon become hotter than the hinges of Hell. Until then, I’ll be loving this Autumn preview. And thinking of pumpkin pie and candy corn and Jamie Lee Curtis running from Michael Myers and Linus in the pumpkin patch and Ray Bradbury.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why Mondays Suck

1) Very little sleep, which leaves me feeling like my head is full of angry bees.

2) The Internet was down at work. A twice-a-week occurrence.

3) Car troubles.

4) An hour on the phone with our evil insurance company (all traced back to the fact that our insurance company is staffed by inbred monkeys with substance abuse problems).

In the plus column, I got a free book in the mail, my beautiful wife made a fantastic dinner, I got to spend time with my cool cats and I made progress on the novel.

Okay. I win.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Review

Legends of the Mountain State 2: More Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia is reviewed at Dark Scribes. This new volume includes my story -- well, let reviewer Vince Liaguno give you the title:

"Its lengthy, schmaltzy title aside, Mark Justice’s “Dancing in Time to the Beating Heart of the World” is a surprisingly poignant story in which a heartbroken pharmacist’s faith is restored with the help of a haunted hospital’s ghost nurse and a curmudgeonly janitor. Justice imbues a genuine sense of emotion into this simple, classic-style ghost story that ably sets the tone of the anthology."

The rest of the review can be read here. I'm happy to be in the volume with a bunch of great writers (who use shorter, non-schmaltzy titles). I can't wait to read it in when it arrives in a few weeks.

The State of the Mark

Sorry I haven’t been around much. First, there was vacation, followed by a foot injury that kept me away from the computer. Now that I’m on the mend, regular postings should resume.


Norma usually packs a healthy lunch for me. But occasionally I have the urge to eat junk. That happened Friday. I’d been craving a Burger King Whopper for a couple of days. At lunch, I walked to the local BK and placed my order.

“We can’t make no Whopper,” the woman told me. “Our broiler is down.”

“So what can I get?” I asked.

“Fish or chicken.”

I ordered a chicken sandwich, then noticed that a very fat man was waving excitedly at the other end of the counter where orders are picked up.

“Well, can’t I get a double Angus burger?” he said. “I’ll take a double anything!!!!”

I don’t know when or how, but one day I’m going to write a story titled “I’ll Take a Double Anything”.


Since last we talked, Bridges Magazine, a local publication, has purchased another humor column from me. It’s in their Summer/Fall ‘08 issue. This is my fourth appearance in Bridges. You can subscribe or buy single issues here.


On the writing front, I finished and submitted a short story today. This one should make readers of one of my earlier books happy. I’ll let you know if it sells. If not, I have a feeling the story will make its debut on Pod of Horror.

Now I just have to write two other stories and a novelette I’ve promised, finish the edits on the sequel to Dead Earth: The Green Dawn before Dave Wilbanks drives from Minnesota to Kentucky to do me bodily harm, then complete novel #1 and start novel #2.

I need another pot of coffee.


I’m going to miss Horrorfind for the first time in years.

A number of factors played a part in this, including work and the impending birth of my niece, which could happen at any second.

I’ll miss hanging out with the friends I’ve made at Horrorfind, the best part of the convention, in my opinion.

If you’re going, please chide Nanci Kalanta about her potty mouth. Her profanity is a menace to all right-thinking people everywhere.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Tragic Tale of Too Much Testosterone

(originally published in Bridges magazine, Summer 2007)

When the editor of this fine publication asked me to contribute something to this issue I asked, “Is there a theme?”

“This is sort of our ‘manly-man’ issue,” she said.

Ah! It was obvious why she had approached me, the guy known in some circles as Manly Mark, Fearless Lighter of Charcoal Grills and Killer of Spiders in the Bathroom. The Master of Masculinity and the Titan of Testosterone are two more monikers I have given myself – er, others have given me over the years.

Well, this was an interesting challenge. At first I thought I should use the opportunity to recount my many manly exploits, like the time I rescued the Swedish Bikini Team after their plane went down in the Himalayas (and my lips were chapped for a week after all that mouth-to mouth) or when the CIA sent Sandra Bullock and me to Iraq, playing newlyweds, to assassinate Saddam Hussein, only to fail when Sandy – as she liked me to call her – wouldn’t let me leave our honeymoon suite at the Baghdad Hilton.

But then I realized all manly men had similar exploits (which, by the way we share with each other over monthly dinners of boar and white buffalo at the He-Man Adventurer’s Club).

So I decided to use this space to perform a public service for the new members of the manly-man community. I am going to reveal, for the very first time anywhere, how to keep your manliness hidden.

I know what you’re thinking: Mark, if you’re gifted with an overabundance of testosterone, why would you wish to hide it?

Simple. Pure unadulterated manliness drives women crazy and causes less manly men to be jealous, making it difficult to lead a normal life. Hey, why do you think Superman dresses up in a business suit and glasses?

Because – as only the manliest of us know – merely walking down the street can cause even the most proper of ladies to disrobe and the unmanly men to slink away in fear.

Therefore I will now describe, for the very first time outside of the circle of manliness, the secret of camouflaging your turbo-powered testosterone. These are time-tested, rock-solid methods employed by me, so you know they work.

1) Sit on the same side of the restaurant booth as your date. This is guaranteed manliness camouflage. Note: it doesn’t count if someone else is on the other side of the table. You and your date must be the only people at the table. Manly-men never sit on the same side of the table as their dates, as it interferes with manly-man seductive eye contact.

2) Watch musicals. A lively musical is toxic to testosterone. No one will ever suspect you’re a manly man if you’re tapping your foot while singing along with the happy songs.

“I like to be in America!
Okay by me in America!
Everything free in America
For a small fee in America…”

3) Mention to friends or co-workers that you enjoy any of the following television shows: Gilmore Girls, Oprah, Dancing with the Stars, Dr. Phil, Grey’s Anatomy or any program on Bravo or Oxygen. Get bonus points if you’ve seen a Hugh Grant movie.

4) Go shopping. If you manly-men think you already do this, please be aware that buying tools or car parts doesn’t count. You must shop for clothing and groceries. Nothing says “I’m not manly” like a friend seeing you carrying a carton of yogurt and a package of tampons. Be sure to roll your eyes and say, “My wife is making me do her shopping.” Your buddy will offer an understanding comment, but as he walks away he will think, “Nope. Not a manly strand of DNA in that guy.”

And finally, the crème de le crème, the ultimate subterfuge, the perfect disguise for manly-men:

5) Collect comic books. If you’re worried your neighbor suspects that you possess an overabundance of virile genes, try this: the next time the neighbor says hi to you as you stand on your deck grilling fresh salmon and sipping a Zima, wave and proclaim, “So who do you think would win in a fight – Wonder Woman or The Hulk?”

There you have it. Never worry again that others will see through your disguise.

Please keep this confidential, brother manly-men. I have to go now. My wife says if I don’t pick up my comic books I can’t watch Pretty Woman tonight.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Pod of Horror # 46: The 3 Steves

Pod of Horror #46 is the Three Steves Special Edition. Authors Steve Vernon, Steven Shrewsbury and Steve Alten speak with us. Nanci talks news and booze on The Call of Kalanta. Norm Rubenstein is back with more book reviews. And we finally have a winner in The Tomb of Trivia. Pod of Horror is produced and hosted by Mark Justice. Download it at I-Tunes or direct to your desktop

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