Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Resolving to be Resolute

So. Here we are. The year ends, and since we use this arbitrary system of dates to mark beginnings and endings, let me just say, “Adios, 2010, you rat bastard.”

There was a lot of good this year, to be sure. But the year was also filled with many frustrating roadblocks, from a health problem that had a serious impact on my productivity, to family drama to those charming little surprises the universe tosses your way from time to time. I accomplished perhaps one-tenth of what I had planned this year.

And it’s all my fault.

My time management skills went out the window in January. Or I got Time Management Amnesia. In any case, my schedule became a game of Jenga, with work and writing commitments and personal responsibilities piling on one another until the tower of babbling buffoonery toppled.

I missed deadlines. I had to drop out of projects. Everything I managed to complete was very late. Some publishers were understanding and other not so much. I’m thankful for the former and I do not blame the latter. The second worst offense a writer can make is agreeing to a deadline and blowing it (the first is turning in a manuscript that reads as if it were shat out by a diarrhetic monkey).

Looking ahead, I’m working hard to get back on track. A big part of this is figuring out how to balance my writing with my day job. The job takes a lot of hours and I need to make a realistic writing schedule that reflects that.

This week I’m finishing up another long-overdue project. Next, Then Dave Wilbanks and I start writing the next
Dead Earth novel on January 1. At the same time, I will do rewrites on the first Dead Sheriff prose book, then starting on a new horror novel, thanks to our collaboration schedule which allows me three days of “alone” writing time after turning in my latest segment of the DE novel. Following that, I will write the second Dead Sheriff book.

I will also continue my serialized pulp-adventure novel
Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods.

There are other stories and novellas I would like to write next year. However, the projects mentioned above take precedent. Anything else will have to wait for the rare window in my schedule.

I also have to get better at saying no. Even though I’m near the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to writers, each year I do receive a smattering of invitations to write something for an anthology or other project. In 2011, the project will have to be either incredibly compelling or very lucrative to get me to sign on. That goes for audio book narrating, too.

Where does this hard-line scheduling leave
Pod of Horror?

Good question. I love
PoH. I love talking with other writers. I love working with my friend, the very patient Nanci Kalanta (but please don’t tell her I said that).

It takes me roughly 12-15 hours to put together a typical episode. That includes scheduling segments, prepping interviews, conducting interviews, editing, and the other boring details that are a part of every episode. Because of the previously mentioned day job–which gets even busier near the end of the year–I didn’t have 12 hours to spare in December, so there wasn’t a
Pod of Horror.

Despite my best efforts to keep the show monthly, I end up producing far less. In 2010 there were only four episodes. Part of that is due to the issues that affected my productivity all year long. Still, I have to be honest with myself and admit that I won’t be doing 12 new episodes per year. I think a more realistic goal is 6 shows in 12 months. If I manage to squeeze in an extra show that will be gravy on the mashed potatoes, as we say back home.

I’ll check in regularly and let you know how the plan is working.

Fangora Reviews Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road

On their website,
Fangoria magazine gives a positive review to the novel. In my favorite quote,the reviewer says the book "packs in a heavy dose of blazing shoot-’em-up action and intense scares."

You can read the review in its entirety here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pod of Horror #62: F. Paul Wilson and David Morrell

Pod of Horror returns with a double dose of best-seller action. First, F. Paul Wilson talks about FATAL ERROR, the next-to-last Repairman Jack novel (sorta). And David Morrell tells us why he went Kindle-only with his new book, THE NAKED EDGE. In the Call of Kalanta, we get some news along with Nanci’s metamorphosis into a southern belle. And we have a bunch of free books in The Tomb of Trivia. Get it at iTunes or download it here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks' DEAD EARTH: THE VENGEANCE ROAD is now available in paperback and eBook. Order before Nov. 20 and get a *FREE* eBook of DEAD EARTH: THE GREEN DAWN as well! Go here for details.

Writing Dead Earth

This month in my Horror World column, I discuss collaborating On the Dead Earth series with David T. Wilbanks. If you like behind-the-scenes stuff, you might enjoy it. It's like a special feature on a DVD.

You can read it here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Dead Earth Interview

David T. Wilbanks and I were interviewed by the International Thriller Writers regarding Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road. The result is in the new Big Thrill newsletter. You can read it here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dead Earth on Display

The above ad will appear in the December issue of Rue Morgue, the excellent horror magazine.

Thanks and kudos to Permuted Press for actively supporting their authors.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dead Sheriff Update

Here's the latest news on my supernatural western series from the publisher, Evileye Books.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Zombies For Your Kindle

Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road is available now for Kindle, and the other eBook formats will soon follow. The print version will be out in November.

But if you have a Kindle, you can start the zombie-alien chompfest by clicking here.

Update: If your e-reader of choice is the Nook, DE:TVR is now available for that device.

Covering the Dead

That's the cover for the eBook edition of Dead Earth: The Green Dawn, which will be available in a few days from Permuted Press. I think it has a spooky pulp feel, and I wanted to share it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 11

The latest chapter of my pulp adventure novel is up now at Pulp Nocturne. You can read it or listen to the podcast.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hornet in the House

My contributor copies of the Green Hornet Chronicles arrived today. It's a beautiful book, and I'm honored to be among these stellar writers, including James Reasoner, my friend Ron Fortier and one of my heroes, Harlan Ellison.

You can order the book here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scene From a Book Signing

I discuss writing and beard grooming with Woodland Press CEO F. Keith Davis.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 10

I've finally produced a new installment of Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods, my pulp adventure novel. Chapter 10 just went live at Pulp Nocturne. You can read it or listen to it or both, if you're so inclined.

I know I've made earlier pledges that Donovan was back on a weekly basis, and I've failed to keep to the schedule. So I'm not going to do that this time.


Since my recent health issues have cleared up, I seem to have a more energy than the past several months. I plan to keep working on Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods until it's finished, then collect it between covers.

As always, thanks for your support.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Book Signing

Click on flyer to ginormisize it.

The Green Hornet Strikes

I'm in Moonstone's new Green Hornet anthology, available in both hardcover and trade paperback.

This is the Table of Contents:
  • "Reflections on The Green Hornet": Introduction by Van Williams
  • "The Night Car" by Will Murray
  • "I Had The Green Hornet’s Love Child!" by Greg Cox
  • "Weakness" by C.J. Henderson
  • "Topsy-Turvy" by James Chambers
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Richard Dean Starr
  • "Just a Man" by Thom Brannan
  • "The Cold Cash Kill" by James Reasoner
  • "Flight of the Yellow Jacket" by Howard Hopkins
  • "By Scarab and Scorpion" by Mark Ellis
  • "You Can’t Pick the Number" by Rich Harvey
  • "Eyes of the Madonna" by Ron Fortier
  • "Stormy Weather" by Patricia Weakley
  • "The Auction" by Terry Alexander
  • "Go Go Gone" by Robert Greenberger
  • "Mutual Assured Destruction" by Bill Spangler
  • "The Crimson Dragon" by Mark Justice
  • "Fang and Sting" by Win Scott Eckert
  • "The Inside Man" by Matthew Baugh
  • "The Soul of Solomon" by Harlan Ellison(R)
  • "Life at 90 MPH": Afterword by Dean Jeffries
  • "The Green Hornet's Hunch" by Dennis O'Neil (bonus story in Limited Editions only)
You can order it here. (Please note that even though the page says "Preorders", the book is in stock and shipping).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Legends of the Mountain State 4

The fourth installment of the extremely popular "Legends of the Mountain State" series (Woodland Press) is here—and it's fantastic! As a matter of fact, Woodland Press is taking pre-orders now and books will ship by Oct. 18th, 2010, the same week as the national release of "Legends of the Mountain State 4" at the West Virginia Book Festival, Oct. 16 - 17th, held at the Charleston Civic Center, Charleston, WV.

Again, Appalachian myths, ghost tales, and folklore provide an eerie backdrop for powerful, dark, and gritty storytelling. Concerning the series, Shroud Magazine has written that myth, legend, and folklore are among the most powerful forms of storytelling, and "Legends of the Mountain State 4” will not disappoint—not one bit. Michael Knost again takes the reins as chief editor and coordinator; and here you’ll discover 13 "creeped-out" chapters—bone-chilling tales and legends to delight the reader. Stories are penned by many of the preeminent writers in the horror industry along with exceptional in-state storytellers. Authors include:

Gary A. Braunbeck
Steve Rasnic Tem
Alethea Kontis
G. Cameron Fuller
Jason Keene
Elizabeth Massie
JG Faherty
Brian J. Hatcher
S. Clayton Rhodes
Lisa Morton
Mark Justice
Lisa Manetti
Michael Arnzen

Pre-order the book here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pod of Horror #61: John Everson/Tim Curran

Pod of Horror #61 has interviews with two of the hottest writers in the field, as John Everson discusses SIREN and Tim Curran exhumes THE CORPSE KING. Nanci has all the news that fits in The Call of Kalanta, Jason L. Keene is back with his macabre movie feature, MOONSHINE MATINEE, and we have a winner in The Tomb of Trivia. Download the show at i Tunes or here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Depraved Darkness

Here are a couple of recent reads that horror fans may enjoy.

First is
Darkness on the Edge of Town by Brian Keene. A small burg in Virginia is cut off from the world, if there even is a world, anymore. Darkness surrounds them, total and complete. Anyone who ventures into the darkness screams and never returns. Those who get to close to the city limits see disturbing visions. The residents turn into savages. Much craziness ensues.

This reads like a bleak B movie. It’s sleek (sleek and bleak? Yeah, that works), compact and brutal. Keene’s ongoing mythos play a part here, but you don’t have to be familiar with his previous work to enjoy
Darkness. The writer has become much better at weaving the exposition unobtrusively into the narrative.

Definitely not for wimps.

Next up is Depraved by Bryan Smith. Okay, I’m going to be honest with you. This novel has no redeeming social value. It’s a non-stop gore-and-sex-filled romp. And I loved every page.

This is an 80s movie turned to print. Various characters pick a bad time to show up in a small town, where the backwoods residents participate in an annual ritual of cannibalism. And guess what weekend the tourists drop by? If you have a weak stomach or are easily offended by graphic descriptions of violence and sex (in other words, if you can’t read a book by Edward Lee), then skip
Depraved and pick up a paranormal romance.

However if you enjoyed
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or chortled your way through Header, you’ll probably get a kick out of Depraved.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Whispered Sigh of Grateful Souls

The Whispered Sigh of Grateful Souls
By Mark Justice

Truth may seem, but cannot be:
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.

--William Shakespeare
“The Phoenix and the Turtle”

“Mommy, why do we collect?”

“Because our grandmothers did it and their grandmothers and their grandmothers. Because it’s a sacred obligation and duty, for those still here and those who are gone.”


The little girl skipped down the sidewalk, gracefully turned onto the driveway, and continued her joyful romp to the carport door, whereupon she knocked three times, the rapping somehow musical and happy.

She stood patiently, all freckles and gap-toothed smile, dressed in new jeans, pink sneakers, a windbreaker and a pink t-shirt picturing cartoon super hero girls. She held a wicker picnic basket that would not be out of place in a fairy tale.

The door opened and a small woman with blue hair peered out. It took the woman a moment to focus in on her visitor, but when she did she flashed her dentures in a friendly smile.

“Hi, Mrs. McKenzie.” the girl said.

“Is that little Rachel Dowling?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“My, you’ve sprouted up like a weed. How are old you now?”


The woman clapped her hands together in delight. “Eight. Oh, that’s such a wonderful age.” She held the door open wide. “Come in, come in.”

Rachel hopped up the step and into the house. Mrs. McKenzie took tiny, slow steps as she crossed the kitchen. She went to a cabinet and pulled out a plate. She opened a cookie jar shaped like a puppy and removed several Oreo cookies, which she placed on the plate. She then took down a glass and filled it with milk from the refrigerator.

“Have a seat dear.”

Even though Rachel was in a bit of a hurry, she pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat. Mommy said that old people were sometimes a little lonely and forgetful, so you should always be kind and patient with them.

Mrs. McKenzie sat the plate and glass in front of Rachel, then took the seat opposite her. She smiled at Rachel. “Eat, sweetie. You’re a growing girl.”

She took a bite of the cookie. It was too soft and smelled like cardboard. Rachel wondered how long it had been in the puppy jar. She picked up the glass of milk, thankfully smelling the sour odor before it got to her lips. She pretended to swallow some, then choked down the dry piece of cookie. She didn’t want to offend Mrs. McKenzie.

“Mmmm,” Rachel said.

“Is this your first Collection?”

Rachel, still trying to swallow the dry cookie, shook her head. When the lump finally went down her throat, she said, “Last year was my first. This is my second. It’s Mandy Rogers’ first time, though.”

Mrs. McKenzie sat back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. She was smiling. “First Collection,” she said. “How I remember mine. I was so frightened.” She looked at Rachel. “Were you frightened?”

Rachel shrugged. “A little, I guess. But Mommy told me what to expect. And my cousin Trish was there. She’s done, like, six of them.”

Mrs. McKenzie patted Rachel’s hand. “Enjoy it while you can, sweetie. It doesn’t work when you get older. You lose the gift.” She pulled a crumpled–and stained–tissue from the pocket of her sweater and blew her nose on it. She then opened the tissue to examine her fresh deposit. She sighed, and slowly stood up. “I better go get it, dear. You didn’t come here to listen to me babble on. Have some more cookies.”

When Mrs. McKenzie was out of the room, Rachel rushed to the sink and poured out the milk.She sat with her hands folded on the table until the old woman came back.

“Here you go,” Mrs. McKenzie said. She handed Rachel something that looked like a watch, but without the watchband or any cool cartoon characters on the face. “It was Henry’s favorite pocket watch. He was so proud of it. I just wound it. Listen.”

Rachel held the watch to her ear. The ticking was much louder than she would have expected.

“Thank you, Mrs. McKenzie,” she said. She carefully placed the watch in her basket, where it softly clinked against the other items she had collected..

“Oh, Henry,” Mrs. McKenzie said. She removed the soiled tissue from her pocket and blew her nose again.

“I have to go. I’ll see you next year,” she said.

Mrs. McKenzie was crying, so Rachel let herself out.


“Why can’t boys do it, Mommy?

“They don’t have the sight. Most girls don’t either. But you do, whether you want it or not. Don’t be scared.”


The air smelled like Jack-O-Lanterns and mystery. Rachel skipped down the driveway to the street and saw some of her fellow Collectors gathered there. She joined them, thankful for the hundredth time that they got Collection day off from school.

“What’s that?” she asked Mandy Rogers. Mandy was a chubby girl who carried a large white object at her side.

“A leg,” Mandy said. She held up the thing for all to see. It was a leg, made of some kind of plastic. It was adult sized, with straps at the top that were brown and stained with large spots.

“Ewwww,” Cynthia Hart said.

“That’s gross,” Samantha Green added.

Mandy looked like she was going to cry. “I asked Mrs. Irwin if she had something else, something littler, but she said it had to be Mr. Irwin’s fake leg.” Her lower lip started to tremble. Mandy was a first year collector. Some first years had a hard time of it.
Rachel’s mother had told her that she had to step up this year, especially because her cousin Trish was now too old to take part, and Gwen Thomas’ family moved to North Carolina. Gwen would have been a fourth year this fall. Rachel didn’t even know if they had Collection day in North Carolina.

She took the leg from Mandy. “I’ll carry it. I don’t mind. Take my basket.” A grateful Mandy took traded with Rachel. Cynthia and Samantha looked shocked. Cynthia was a second year, like Rachel. Sam was a third year, but she was content to do what Rachel said.

The plastic leg was heavier than it looked, and it smelled like pee. Rachel tried to breathe through her mouth.

“Get anything cool?” she asked the others.

Sam shrugged and pulled a book from her tote bag. It was an old paperback called The Sun Also Rises. “Mr. Schwartz sent a book. How dumb is that?”

“‘It if was important to the person,” Rachel repeated the lesson Mommy had taught her, “ then treat it like it’s gold’. It’s not dumb, Sam. I hope you didn’t say that to Mr. Schwartz.”

“No, I didn’t,” Sam said, giving Rachel a dirty look. “But I wanted to. He’s not very nice and he has bad breath. And hair growing out of his ears.”

“Ewwww,” Cynthia said. It was her favorite expression.

“What do you have?’ Rachel said.

Cynthia opened her Barbie purse and removed a huge TV remote. The numbers on it were so big Rachel could’ve have seen them from the end of the block.


“Yeah,” Cynthia said. “Mrs. Oldham said it was Mr. Oldham’s favorite thing.”

“I bet that could open garage doors,” Mandy said, and they all laughed. Rachel was glad Mandy was feeling better.

“Okay, take your stuff home. We’ll met up at Mandy’s house at six for Trick or Treat.” She turned to Mandy. “If you get tired, take a nap, ‘cause you have to be sharp tonight.”

Mandy suddenly looked nervous, but she nodded. Rachel remembered how she had felt last year, like she had to go potty all day long.

“You’ll do great,” she said. “See you tonight.”


“What if it we don’t do it, Mommy?”

“Don’t say that, honey. Don’t even think that.”

“I’m sorry, Mommy. Please don’t look scared.”


They all wore costumes with masks. Mommy told her that it was a tradition. That way, the people they had collected from earlier in the day wouldn’t recognize them, and wouldn’t think too much about that fact that Rachel and the others were just kids.

And they certainly weren’t going to miss Trick or Treat.

So Rachel dressed like Wonder Woman, complete with a golden lasso and a mask with small eyeholes and tiny slits in the nose and mouth for her to breathe through.

The night was quite warm for October and she was hot. Not, however, as hot as Mandy. The heavy girl was dressed as a ghost, her outfit a thick blanket quilted by her mother, with two openings for her eyes.

After their last house, Mandy had pulled off the blanket and stood sweating in what little breeze there was. “I can’t do it anymore,” she gasped. She dug into her candy bag and opened a chocolate bar.

“One more house,” Rachel said through her Wonder Woman face. “And put your costume back on, or she’ll recognize you.”

“It’s not a costume, it’s a comforter,” Mandy said. But she licked the chocolate from her fingers, wiped the sweat from her eyes and slipped the blanket over her body.

Samantha and Cynthia–in two identical Fairy Princess costumes–led the way up to the porch, where they knocked simultaneously on the door.

“Trick or Treat!” they shouted in practiced unison when Mrs. Irwin door’s opened. The woman was ancient. Bent over from age, she had white hair and brown spots on her hands and face She was dressed in a plain blue dress and a white shawl. Her eyes were huge behind her glasses. A small colander full of suckers was clutched to her chest.

She dropped suckers in Cynthia’s bag, then Sam’s. Rachel let Mandy go next. After she received her sucker, the blanket-covered girl ran down the steps and around the corner to remove her stifling costume.

It was Rachel’s turn. She stepped to the open door and held open her Trick or Treat bag.

Instead of dropping a sucker in it, Mrs. Irwin looked at her with those giant hoot owl eyes.

“You’re the Dowling girl, ain’t you?”

Rachel didn’t say anything. She started to sweat beneath her Wonder Woman mask.

“I know it’s you. I recognized your fat friend. She was just here this morning.”

“I’m not to supposed to talk about it now,” Rachel said, her voice muffled through the mask.

“You have to do me a favor. I don’t think Frank would want me to send the leg. I really don’t.”

“Mrs. Irwin, you can’t change it now.”

“Please. I made a mistake. I wouldn’t want anybody to think–” She started crying, almost
doubling over from her sadness, allowing Rachel to see that she had a small hump on her back.

Rachel couldn’t break the rules. But she couldn’t let Mrs. Irwin be sad, either.

“What is it?” she said.

Mrs. Irwin dug down into the suckers and brought up a shiny object. It was a pocket knife, like Rachel’s Grandpappy carried. The sides were covered in knobby black plastic

“He loved this. Especially after the accident. He would sit out here and whittle on a stick for hours every day. Take it, please.”

Rachel sighed and held open her Trick or Treat bag. Mrs. Irwin dropped in the knife, which landed softly among the candy bars.


“Can they hurt me?”

“They can’t touch you, honey. Not your body, anyway. Sometimes they touch you on the inside.”


By midnight, it had grown colder and the air smelled of wood smoke. Rachel’s mother escorted them to the gate of the cemetery.

“Can’t you go in with us?” Mandy asked.

Rachel’s mother just smiled. Rachel thought it was a little sad, that smile.

“You know she can’t,” Rachel said. “It won’t work if she comes. Let’s go.”

As they entered the cemetery, Rachel glanced at her mother. Mommy was looking at her with pride. Rachel turned back to her friends and–carrying the false leg–she led them into the darkness.

It was midnight.

“I can’t see anything,” Mandy said.

Samantha giggled.

“Don’t worry, you will,” Cynthia said.

Rachel took Mandy’s hand.

The four of them stopped at the grave of Tilda Schwartz. In the pale moonlight, the words on the small headstone were unreadable. That was okay. Rachel had memorized all of their stops.

“When does it happen?” Mandy whispered.

“Now,” Rachel said.

The light seemed to come from everywhere at once, coalescing at a spot just above the headstone. Every color Rachel had ever seen was in that light, along with some she had no name for. The light grew from a ball, lengthening and widening until it had the shape and the size of a person.

The face was indistinct, but it had indentations where eyes and a mouth would be. It wasn’t as much a face, as an impression of one.

“Oh,” Mandy said. “Oh-oh-oh.”

Rachel heard Samantha’s sharp intake of breath. No one was giggling now.

The apparition hovered above the headstone. Rachel took a step closer.

“Hello, Mrs. Schwartz.”

The face moved, fixing Rachel with its glowing, empty gaze.

“Welcome home.”

The head turned slowly, back and forth, questioning. The part of the face that seemed to be a mouth grew larger and they heard a sound like the soft rustling flannel sheets made as you turned in bed on a winter night. It wasn’t a scary noise, but it was a lonely one. It made Rachel think about being locked away in a tiny room.

Mandy started to cry. Rachel squeezed her hand.

“It’ll be fine,” she whispered. “Now, Samantha.”

Samantha stepped forward and sat the paperback book on top of the headstone.
The apparition floated down to the stone. Its head moved over the book. After a moment, the head lifted, and the hollow of the mouth grew wide. What they heard was so quiet, like the sound of a dry leaf blown by the autumn wind.

Rachel thought it sounded like “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she said.

They left Mrs. Schwartz to enjoy her gift from the living world.

The rest of the night was spent visiting the other graves and offering the gifts Rachel and her friends had collected.

Mr. Irwin danced around his artificial leg.

Mr. McKenzie pressed an ethereal ear to his pocket watch.

Old Man Oldham caressed his remote control with intangible hands.

And on it went, until the entire cemetery was illuminated by the soul light of the town’s departed residents.

In the end, even Mandy was smiling and clapping her hands. She didn’t want to leave.

“But I want to watch,” she told Rachel.

“It’s their time now. They only get one night a year.”

“But what about their stuff?”

“We’ll come back and get it tomorrow,’ Rachel said. “Don’t worry. No one will bother it.”

Rachel’s mother was waiting for them at the gate. The mother and daughter walked each girl home before returning to their own house.

After she put on her pajamas, Mommy tucked her into bed. Rachel’s Daddy and brother were already sleeping.

“You did a great job, honey. I’m very proud of you.” She kissed Rachel’s forehead.


“What is it?”

“How long will I be able to see them?”

“It depends, Punkin. Maybe as long as four more years, until you start to grow up a little more. Would that be okay?”

Rachel nodded.

Her mother stood up and turned off the light. Before she could close the door, Rachel called for her.


“Will I be there one day?”

“Maybe. A lot can change over a lifetime, Punkin.”

“Will you be there?”


“Who will come to see you?”

“Maybe your little girl.”

“And I can walk her home?”

“That’s right. Now go to sleep.”

She did. She dreamed of dancing lights that smiled and thanked her in hushed voices.

© 2006, 2010 Mark Justice

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Adventures in Audio

Cemetery Dance is giving away the new novella The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman. It’s available as a pdf file and as an audio download.

I narrated the audio version, and it was a pleasure to read Brian’s lyrical, evocative prose.

Here’s a description of the story:

When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his terror by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually, Henry's mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.

Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son, and life couldn't be better... except there's something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There's something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.

A winter storm is brewing, and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child — and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.

But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him... or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?

Written as both a meditation on the art of creation and as an examination of the secret fears we all share, The Painted Darkness is a terrifying look at the true cost we pay when we run from our grief — and what happens when we're finally forced to confront the monsters we know all too well.

You can download both versions right here. Let me know what you think of the audiobook.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Under the Sea

Dr. David Gallo on the radio, 6/25/10

Our friend Dave Gallo was in town last week. He's pretty fond of Ashland, KY, and every two or three years he returns to speak at the museum, gratis.

Dr. Gallo always brings along astounding footage full of amazing creatures and new discoveries made by himself and his colleagues at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (and this year he impressed me with the DC and Marvel Comics apps on his iPad).

As I said in my introduction to his museum talk, I believe Dave's true genius lies in taking complex issues and ideas, and presenting them in a way that's easily understandable by people like me. And he does it with a sense of wonder and enthusiasm that is contagious.

He told us about a cool project that is taking him back to Titanic later this summer. Dave is also the project leader on the search for Air France 447, and he's now involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Dr. David Gallo and Norma Kay

As I also mentioned at the museum, when I heard that Dave was working on finding an answer to the oil spill problem, I felt a tiny glimmer of hope that this mess was actually going to get fixed.

No sooner than he landed at the airport it seemed he had to fly off again, to meetings in Washington, then France. It was great to spend a little time with him.

As director of special projects with Woods Hole, he also must occasionally have dinner with Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta-Jones, so you can see why I now want to be an oceanographer when I grow up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road Is Coming

Got the word today that Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road is now scheduled for November 2010 from Permuted Press. It's good to have a release date. Hopefully, I'll have cover art and pre-order information to share with you sooner than later.

Meantime, the original novella Dead Earth: The Green Dawn is still available and cheap.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Look Out--You May Get Some Pulp On You

Chapter 9 of my pulp adventure serial Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods is now up at Pulp Nocturne.

For those who prefer to listen to the podcast version of the serial, there will be a delay, hopefully brief, while a technical glitch is being corrected. The podcast is recorded and edited and waiting for you to hear it. I'll let you know when it's up.

The podcast is now loaded and ready to go.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Audio Frights

I recently did a recording of a creepy short story by Michael Louis Calvillo, titled "There's No Place in a Sleeping World for a Wakeful Man". Calvillo provided an excellent story and I had a blast narrating it. It's available for purchase/download at The Horror Mall.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Return of Donovan Pike

My pulp adventure serial Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods has returned. Chapter 8 is up now at Pulp Nocturne. You can read it, or listen to the podcast. Or both.

I think I have my life ordered enough to resume weekly posting. There's a lot of story left, and I hope Pike used his time off to catch up on his rest. He's going to need it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Black Bat Mystery

I love me some pulps.

I also love second tier characters (Marvel’s
Defenders, anybody?). So I’ve always been crazy about the other pulp characters that popped up in the wake of the success of The Shadow and Doc Savage, tough guys like The Black Hood, The Masked Detective, The Green Ghost, The Secret Six, Captain Satan, et al. One of my favorites was The Black Bat. He had the perfect origin: crusading DA blinded by bad guys, gets his sight back via experimental surgery, pretends to still be blind, can see in the dark with the new super peepers so he dresses up like a bat and fights crime.

What’s not to love?

A few years ago Ron Fortier ask me to write a Black Bat story for one of his neo-pulp anthologies. For various reasons, that book was shelved. Flash forward to 2010 and Ron is now carrying on his pulp magic with Cornerstone Books. He asked if my story was still available. It was, and now it’s part of
Black Bat Mystery, which is available today. If you’re looking to escape from oils spills and the latest Miley Cyrus scandal, than grab some thrill-packed adventure fiction.

Here’s the cover and the official press release.


Airship 27 Productions & Cornerstone Book Publishers are excited to announce the release of their latest pulp anthology, BLACK BAT MYSTERY!

One of the most original heroes in all of pulpdom returns in four brand new gun-blazing adventures crammed packed with action and adventure. The mysterious Black Bat once again patrols the urban jungle, his targets, those who would prey on the weak the helpless. Crusading District Attorney, Anthony Quinn, was scarred and blinded by gangland hoods. When an experimental transplant operation restores his sight, it also grants him the ability to see in the dark! Allowing the public to continue believing he is a harmless, blind attorney, Quinn invents a new identity, that of the crime fighting avenger known as the Black Bat! With a trio of loyal aids, Carol Baldwin, Silk Kerby and Butch O’Leary, he launches his campaign against the forces of evil.

The Black Bat first appeared in the pages of his own magazine, Black Book Detective. The author was G.Wayman Jones ( a house name for -- mostly -- Norman Daniels). It would run for 62 issues from July 1939 to Winter 1953 and become one of the most popular pulp heroes ever created.

From a giant Nazis bred monster to a gun-slinging Commie assassin, here are four original tales by today’s finest pulp writers; Andrew Salmon, Aaron Smith, Mark Justice and Frank Schildiner starring the Master of the Night. Once again the Black Bat is thrilling pulp fans with his daring exploits. Long considered the template from which dozen of comic book heroes were inspired, to include Marvel’s Daredevil and DC’s Batman, the Black Bat is truly one of the most unique characters ever born of the pulps. Featuring a cover by Mark Maddox, with designs and interior illustrations by Rob Davis, BLACK BAT MYSTERY is a must for all action-loving pulp fans.

Airship 27 Productions; Pulp fiction for a new generation!

ISBN: 1-934935-71-9

ISBN 13: 978- 1-934935-71-2

Produced by Airship 27

Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers

Release date: 06/11/2010

Retail Price: $24.95

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Captain Midnight Chronicles

The Captain Midnight Chronicles is out this week from our friends at Moonstone Books, and it includes a story from yours truly. The good captain was a radio, comic book, movie serial and TV star back in the day. Get the wiki on him here.

I wrote my story so long ago that I’m pretty sure Cap was still on the radio. It’s good to finally see it in print.

You can order it here, and this is what Moonstone says about it:

Born in the blazing crucible of war, but sworn to fight for peace, the mysterious obsidian aviator known only by the codename Captain Midnight… flies again!
An ace pilot, super secret agent, and astounding scientific genius, the heroic Captain Midnight ruled the radio airwaves and starred in comic books, film serials and a classic television series.

Now, when we need him most, he has returned, along with his legendary Secret Squadron– to battle spies, saboteurs and the mercenary armies of the evil warmonger Ivan Shark and his delectably deadly daughter, Fury. Join the Captain and his elite air warriors in eleven all-new stories by some of the greatest adventure writers in the world, as they battle evil and fight for freedom all over the world!

Featuring New York Times bestselling aviation novelist John J. Nance, the Captain Midnight Chronicles boasts a squadron of talented contributors, including Stephen Mertz, Robert T. Jeschonek, Mark Justice, Chuck Dixon, Robert Greenberger, Trina Robbins, Tim Lasiuta, Win Scott Eckert, Howard Hopkins and Christopher Mills. The volume also includes illustrations by Vatche Mavlian and a dramatic cover painting by Richard Clark.

Monday, June 07, 2010


Long time no update.

I’m slowly digging out from under an avalanche of commitments.

The writing of
The Dead Sheriff prose book is going well. I should be finished in two to three weeks. In the midst of that, I have to pause to write a short story for an anthology.

Speaking of stories, my collection
Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye is scheduled for publication in July. I’m the hold-up on this one. I have to go over the edits before we can move forward. Billy Tackett has produced a phenomenal cover. The book will be published by Graveside Tales.

My pulp adventure serial
Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods will resume on June 13 at Pulp Nocturne, and hopefully stick to a weekly schedule until it’s completed. During the hiatus, Donovan Pike has found a publisher and will appear in book form soon after the web serial is finished. The next pulp novel is lined up for 2011. It involves Nazis, monsters and a guy dressed in red, white and blue, along with the scrappiest kid gang since the Newsboy Legion.

I have a story coming soon in another pulp-inspired anthology. I can hopefully announced that, and show you the cool cover, this weekend.

On a regular basis I’m asked about the status of
Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road, the novel I wrote with David T. Wilbanks. As far as I know, it’s still scheduled for publication this year, though I haven’t had an update for quite some time.

There have been a couple of new reviews of the first book in the series,
Dead Earth: The Green Dawn. You can read them here and here.

Pod of Horror has suffered a delay, too. In fact, and in the interest of full disclosure, I briefly flirted with the idea of putting the show on hiatus or canceling it altogether. It takes a chunk of time that I'm having trouble finding these days. But I came to my senses, and I hope to debut the next episode, with guest Peter Straub, on June 19th.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Norma's Birthday

The gal of my dreams deserves a great birthday cake, and last night Jason Platt at A-La-Carte Catering really scored with the Sex and the City cake.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What I Haven't Been Doing

One thing about my life. It’s never boring.

Here in the middle of April, I can say with absolute certainty that 2010 has been the worst writing year I’ve had.

In a prefect storm of circumstance, my schedule has been derailed by my day job, a family illness and some health concerns of my own. The last two items should come more clearly into focus over the next week or two. My sincere hope is that the remainder of this year will be eight blockbuster months of productivity.

As of now, I’m behind on everything: short stories, novels, reviews, interviews, correspondence and cleaning the litter box. If I owe you fiction, a package or a favor, please know I’m sorry, and that my failure to meet these obligations haunts my dreams. I hope to be caught up on everything soon.

Well. The cats are giving me nasty looks. Time to scoop.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pod of Horror #59

Pod of Horror #59 is filled with March Madness. That’s, uh, madness of the insane kind. We talk to one of horror’s most critically acclaimed authors, Greg Gifune. Ronald Malfi makes a return visit to the show. Nanci has the news, and throws a challenge out to the listeners. Plus, Jason L. Keene uncorks a new installment of Moonshine Matinee. Get it at iTunes or download it at here. Pod of Horror is hosted and produced by Mark Justice.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Commenting on Horror

I am now a columnist for Horror World, rotating every three or four months with the site's other, far more talented contributors.

You can read my first offering (at least through this month) right here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dead Sheriff Promo Art

Okay, that's pretty damn cool. Click it for a larger version.

There's more to be found at Evil Eye Books.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 4

The latest installment of my pulp adventure serial is live. Read it or listen to it over at Pulp Nocturne.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Dead Sheriff

Western Dime Novel Tradition Resurrected with New Supernatural Series, 'The Dead Sheriff'

Evileye Books signs horror writer, Mark Justice, to multi-book deal, who will produce both prose fiction and graphic novels. The first comics series will debut in April, followed by book one of the prose line in fall 2010.

Western Dime Novel Tradition Resurrected with New Supernatural  Series, 'TheDead Sheriff' Chicago, IL, February 03, 2010 --(PR.com)-- As the saying goes, there's a new sheriff in town.

A walking dead one.

According to legend, The Dead Sheriff was a lawman forced to watch the murders of his family before he was killed. His need for vengeance would not allow him to rest, and he rose from the grave to avenge himself upon his killers. Now he travels across the west, dispensing justice for those in need and sending the wicked to their graves.

He can never return to the grave until the western frontier is free of evil and tyranny.

The reality, however, is a little different….

So goes the premise of horror writer Mark Justice's new supernatural western tales of The Dead Sheriff, a multi-book series of fiction stories with echoes of the pulp and dime adventure novels of the old west.

"The Dead Sheriff stories bring together a few of my interests," said Mark Justice. "I love old pulp western novels and comics, and as a horror writer, it was only a matter of time before I came around to writing a story that blends cowboys and monsters."

Mr. Justice continues, "but I also wanted to explore the stereotypes and metaphors that are tried and true in the classic western tale. Take the hero figure of almost every western since the fifties. The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood—all cut the brave, stoic loner against the world. What if the hero wasn't so pretty? What if he was not so lovable? And what of the sidekick: always silent, loyal, not much more than a talking door stop. What if there was more to Tonto, for example, than he ever let on? What? Tonto with an agenda? Most people would say that's absurd and it goes against the literary figure we have come to love. But that's exactly the kind of default characters and symbolism I want to challenge and explore in the series."

The Dead Sheriff combines elements of the supernatural, humor and adventure in a framework that models the adventure dime novels popularized as early as 1860: taking real events or people of the western frontier and embellishing them for the entertainment of the masses. The pioneer, and perhaps most famous dime novels depicting high adventures of the Frontier, were the Beadle's Dime Novels, a series which ran an astounding 321 issues before the dime novel format gave way to an emerging format in the 1920s, the magazine.

"The wonderful thing about The Dead Sheriff," said Evileye Books Editorial Director, A.N. Ommus, "is that at first you're just delighted it's a fun mash-up of popular genres. But then, as you dig into the tradition of the western dime novels, you realize the outlandish potboiler stories—even the format—are the precursors to the modern magazine and comics formats. With The Dead Sheriff, we want to resurrect, as it were, the dime novel tradition and honor its contribution to both fiction and comics."

Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Justice will write a series of graphic novels in the style of the Sunday comics of the thirties and forties, the first of which will debut this April as a series of weekly webcomics on the upcoming Evileye Books Online Reader.

Debuting later this year, the first prose book, The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation, will be published in a similar format to the original dime novels of the nineteenth century.

About Mark Justice

Mark Justice is the author of Deadneck Hootenanny and Dead Earth: The Green Dawn (with David T. Wilbanks). His short fiction has appeared in Damned Nation, In Laymon's Terms, Legends of the Mountain State 1,2 & 3, The Horror Library Vol. 2 & 3, The Avenger Chronicles, Dark Discoveries and many other anthologies and magazines. Mr. Justice edits Story Station, an online Young Adult fiction magazine. He also produces and hosts the popular genre podcast Pod of Horror. His next novel, Dead Earth: The Vengeance Road (with David T. Wilbanks) will be published in 2010 by Permuted Press and his first story collection Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye will appear from Graveside Tales in 2010, as well. He also hosts a morning radio show in Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and cats.

About Evileye Books

Evileye Books, an imprint of Pul+Pixel Entertainment Co., publishes crime, horror, dark fantasy, science fiction and other speculative genres in the spaces of prose and graphic novels.

They are publishers of Bram Stoker Award Winner Mike Oliveri's new supernatural thriller series, "The Pack"; Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee's dark fantasy series, "Raze"; John Urbancik's supernatural noir series, "DarkWalker"; among others.

Pulp+Pixel Entertainment Co. is an intellectual property rights management company.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 3

Chapter 3 was delayed a bit because of illness, but it's up now, along with the podcast. Find it all at Pulp Nocturne.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Donovan Pike and The City of the Gods--Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of my pulp adventure serial is live. To read it or listen to the podcast, go to Pulp Nocturne.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Captain Midnight Chronicles

I have a short story in the Captain Midnight Chronicles prose anthology, coming in late spring from Moonstone Books.

Captain Midnight was a high-flying aviator and adventurer, blazing through the 1930s, 40s and 50s in comics, movie serials, TV and radio. Now Moonstone has revived the character, setting his adventures in an alternate reality where Word War II didn't happen.

I had a lot of fun writing my entry, and the line-up of other writers is strong. Here's Moonstone's official announcement:

Born in the blazing crucible of war, but sworn to fight for peace, the mysterious obsidian aviator known only by the codename Captain Midnight flies again! An ace pilot, super secret agent, and astounding scientific genius, the heroic Captain Midnight ruled the radio airwaves and starred in comic books, film serials, and a classic television series. Now, when we need him most, he has returned, along with his legendary Secret Squadron, to battle spies, saboteurs, and the mercenary armies of the evil warmonger Ivan Shark and his delectably deadly daughter, Fury. Featuring New York Times bestselling aviation novelist John J. Nance, the Captain Midnight Chronicles boasts a squadron of talented contributors, including Stephen Mertz, Robert T. Jeschonek, Mark Justice, Chuck Dixon, Robert Greenberger, Trina Robbins, Tim Lasiuta, Win Scott Eckert, Howard Hopkins, and Christopher Mills.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Free Short Story

I have a horror short story up now in the online magazine Dead Lines. It's called "Appointed Night", and you can read it here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Pulp Fiction

I'm serializing a new pulp adventure novel at my Pulp Nocturne blog. Donovan Pike and the City of the Gods is a two-fisted action tale in the tradition of Doc Savage and Indiana Jones.

My goal is to add a new chapter every week, though I think we all know there will be weeks where my work schedule and other writing will make that impossible. But I'm pretty sure I won't miss too many weeks.

I will also podcast each chapter of the novel for those who prefer audiobooks.

You can read
and hear it at Pulp Nocturne.