Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pod of Horror #51 is Live

On Pod of Horror #51 we answer the question: Where in the world is Scott Nicholson? Also, Ronald Damien Malfi tells us about PASSENGER and his dad’s secret life. Author-editor Louise Bohmer talks about both jobs. Nanci chews out Wall Street on The Call of Kalanta. Norm Rubenstein is back with a plethora of book reviews and The Tomb of Trivia remains unanswered. All this, and a special appearance by Rain Graves. Get it at i-Tunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Appalachian Holiday Hauntings

For the writers out there, Mike Knost and I are editing an anthology of Christmas ghost stories. Details below.


Title: Appalachian Holiday Hauntings

Editors: Michael Knost and Mark Justice

Publisher: Woodland Press

Publication date: November 1, 2009

Word count: 1000 to 3000 words

Pay: three-cents per word plus contributor copy (one-cent per word on reprints)

Submit to:

Format: Attached RTF or Word Document file. (do not copy and paste into email body)

No simultaneous or multiple submissions

No explicit language or sexual content (this project will be in regional school systems)

Deadline: September 1, 2009 (do not inquire on status of submission until after this date)

We are looking for traditional Christmas ghost stories set in the Appalachian region. Think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with an Appalachian backdrop. However, given this example, we want to make sure you understand that stories may be set in any time frame, including the present.

We are not interested in tales that disrespect or alter the religious aspects of the holiday.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Haunt

I joined the new horror social community The Haunt.

Think MySpace or Facebook with blood and fangs.

If you're a member, drop by and add me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pod of Horror #50: Skipp & Goodfellow

Pod of Horror has reached 50 episodes. Who’d have thunk it? We celebrate with John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow discussing JAKE’S WAKE and future collaborations. We also talk to Scott Sigler, author of INFECTED and CONTAGIOUS. There’s a test of the Byte Me Emergency Response System on The Call of Kalanta. Norm Rubenstein is back with a bevy of horror reviews, and The Tomb of Trivia has another winner. Get it at i-Tunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mondays Don't Totally Suck

I was given the official approval from my editor on the humor column, which may become a regular gig.

I also got that comic book proposal out to another editor.

And I hit my goal on the novel, despite a long, wacky day at work.

Let's hope Tuesday goes as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

Here’s a quick note to catch you up on what’s happening. That’s right, both of you.

The new writing schedule continues to pay dividends. I’ll hopefully be finished with the first draft in early March. My plan is to then let it age a couple of weeks while I get to work on the next novel, Reaper Road. I’ll edit Novel #1 in the evenings. I’m not being coy about Novel #1's tile; I just haven’t settled on one I like yet.

Also in March, Dave Wilbanks and I plan to start Book 3 in the Dead Earth series. What’s that, you say? Where is DE #2? We’re shopping it around at this very moment. We hope to have something to report soon.

That humor writing I referred to the other day is turning out to be a lot of fun. I wrote the first column today and had Norma proof it. Since she laughed in all the right places, I sent it off to my editor. If it gets approved, I’ll let you know where to find it.

This weekend I talked to a publisher about a cool new idea for a novella series. This will be something I’ll write later in the year. I also had a conversation with a comic book publisher. I’ll be sending out a proposal for that tomorrow.

Finally, it looks like a project of mine that I tried to get off the ground a few years ago still has some life left in it, thanks to the interest of a friend of mine.

All in all, 2009 is looking to be the busiest year yet for my writing. Now if the Bengals learn to play football before this fall, it will be a fantastic year.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Happy Soupy Day!

Soupy Sales is 83 today. In 1944 he graduated high school a few miles from me, in Huntington, WV. His daily kids show was huge in the 60s, and now, looking at clips, it's a little hard to understand. Soupy was an acquired taste. Even as a child it was obvious to me that his show was a bit more, ah, spontaneous than those of his contemporaries. Watch the clip below and you'll see what I mean. Watch it long enough and you can see Soupy lip sync--or "ear" sync--to his hit The Mouse. And I use the term "hit" loosely.

I would like to believe that my sense of humor has matured past the Soupy Sales level. But I know deep down that it hasn't.

And that's okay.

Happy birthday, Soupy.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mid-Week Update

So far so good on the new writing schedule. I've been able to hit my goal every day in 2009 ( that's big days!). Next week will be a challenge, due to some extracurricular stuff at work, but I should be able to plan around it.

It looks like I'm finally going to finish this novel, then move on to the next and the next...

An interesting proposal came my way today for some non-fiction humor writing. If it pans out it should be fun. As always, I'll keep my Internet pals and gals updated.

So far my favorite read of this very young year is Jake's Wake by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow. Splatterpunk lives, baby! It's not for the fainthearted (Skipp's name on the cover should tell you that) but once you start, it's impossible to close the cover. Listen for the dastardly duo on a future Pod of Horror.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bad New/Not-So-Bad-News

Delirium dropped my collection Bone Songs, due to the economy and the downsizing of their output. And let’s face it: I’m not a big name.

The book is already under consideration with another publisher. This version is bigger. It contains several stories not in Bone Songs, including both stories that made up the sold-out Deadneck Hootenanny. I’m also shopping it around under the original title Looking at the World With Broken Glass in My Eye. That’ll choke a librarian, eh?

The same day I got the news from Delirium, I also got an invitation to an anthology that I’m very excited about. The editor is a well-known horror writer, and I have an idea that I think will work out well.

Speaking of writing, I was checking out my blog entries for the beginning of 2008. Ah, what a naive, wide-eyed romantic I was back then. I set lofty goals and met almost none of them. My biggest regret was missing a deadline given to me by another well-known writer who took an interest in my writing career.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to break down my problem in finishing a novel. Other than the things that are out of my control (a sometimes-crazy work schedule and a steady spate of health issues), I think I set an unrealistic daily goal. When I routinely failed to meet the goal, frustration would set in, and I would eventual flee from the keyboard.

So I’ve given myself a more realistic daily goal, one that I should be able to reach successfully. It’s worked well for the past few days and with a little luck and determination I should be able to finish this novel by early March.

The new schedule will also leave me a bit of free time to work on stories. I have several of those due, not including the anthology invitation mentioned above.

So here I am in 2009: refocused, re-energized and relentless.

Let’s see if I can keep it up.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Donald Westlake

If you're a fan of mystery fiction, you've no doubt heard of the passing of Donald Westlake. I didn't know the man. I just know he was a damn fine writer. You can find some remembrances at Ed Gorman's blog.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The S**t Monster

Maybe it’s the new year, but I’ve found myself reflecting on the past, including the oddball collection of strange people I’ve occasionally found myself working alongside. Like the guy I call the Shit Monster (that’s right, kids, this entry will contains multiple uses of the word “shit”. If you thought you were logging into the Webkinz site, please leave now).

The Shit Monster had a problem. Maybe it was IBS. All I know is that SM didn’t believe he had a problem. SM thought the near-constant evacuation of his bowels was normal. Most of his stories would start like this: “You know how you’re standing in line for a prescription and you have to shit but you don’t make it to the rest room in time and you shit your pants? It happened to me again today.” Then he would laugh like we were all members of the Brotherhood of Zero Sphincter Control.

Most of SM’s stories ended with, “ I just left my underwear in the stall!” Followed by more I-know-we’ve-all-done-that laughter.

Here’s my favorite Shit Monster story (and it wasn’t easy to settle on just one, believe you me) and it’s one that SM didn’t tell me himself. Was he finally too embarrassed? I doubt it. He was probably busy buying new underwear.

A friend of mine worked at an upscale business. One day, Shit Monster ran into my friend’s office and said, “Quick! Where’s your bathroom?” My friend pointed the way and SM disappeared. It was a particularly busy day, so my friend didn’t think about SM anymore until he noticed a commotion in the lobby of his office an hour or so later.

I’ll let my friend explain it in his own words.

“One of our male staff members went into the rest room and was so shocked by what he saw that he almost threw up. There was shit everywhere. On the toilet seat. On the tank. On the floor and on all four walls. He must’ve spun like a top. We had to hire a cleaning crew. It took them two days to fix that room.” My friend shook his head, like a trauma victim remembering a horrifying scene. “It was a shit grenade exploded in there.”

One of my last conversations with SM occurred in the break room at work, where I was heating my lunch in the tiny microwave. SM was regaling me with his latest hilarious Bad Bowels anecdote. It seemed the day before he was trying to get into the men’s room at work and he didn’t make it in time. Since he had to meet a client, he told me he washed out his underwear in the bathroom sink.

I stared at the numbers on the microwave display, which had suddenly slowed so much that each second took approximately three minutes to pass. I was also trying not to throw up a little in the back of my throat.

“Well, I couldn’t go to the meeting with wet underwear. You wanna know what I did?” SM said.

In the name of the Sweet Baby Jesus, I prayed, let this microwave ding!

SM smiled like Michael Jackson at a Boy Scout meeting. “I dried them in the microwave.”

Happy New Year, Shit Monster. For the good of mankind, I hope someone finally fitted you with a permanent butt plug.

Happy New Year

I hope 2009 will be a fantastic year for you, the year you cut back on drinking cheap wine and beating your kids in Wal-Mart. The year you quit dropping "awesome" into every conversation and the year you stop acting shocked when people stare at your low-cut top. I wish 2009 will provide you a fresh start and enable you finally realize that Fox News is neither fair nor balanced. Look, I can say I'm skinny and have a full head of hair, but saying doesn't make it so, and it's time you grew up and realized that. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year you finally start making up your own mind about things that matter, instead of listening to that loud asshole at work. I know, I know. It hurts to think, but you'll be a better person for it.

Make 2009 the year you remember who your friends are. Do right by them. In 2008 I had a deal go south on me because I wouldn't screw over a friend. The money would have been nice, but I'm able to sleep soundly every night. And that's where I'm headed now. Good night.