Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy, Etc.

Holy guacamole! The end of the year already?

2014 has been better than some years, worse than others. My actual writing output was much less than I had hoped, but I’m still optimistic that I’ll polish up a couple of projects in the next few weeks.

I continued to be amazed every day that I’m married to Norma Kay. Everything else is just details. I love my friends and family and my cats (who are a huge part of my family). I look forward to what is to come.

I hope in 2015 you and I are able to accept with grace what life both gives and takes away. Be kind to yourself and others. And please try not to go nuts when someone expresses an opinion that differs from your own.

That’s all.  Now put on a goofy hat and make some noise.

Markstradomus Predicts!

My predictions for 2015 are in this week's Ashland Beacon, on page 2. As a bonus, I recap my predictions for 2014. What's that? You don't remember my 2014 predictions? As if I just made them up days ago? 

Ha ha. Really, get that memory checked,

Be amazed by reading it online now. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Dead Sheriff For Christmas

I just received the most awesome Christmas gift of my life, as my friend Brian Spears gave me a custom-made action figure of my character The Dead Sheriff. I cannot believe the craftsmanship he put into this, all the way down to the packaging. I am blown away. Thank you, Brian.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Evil Flatwoods Tree is Still Rocking the Evil

Taken from my walk earlier today. The ol' gal is showing her bones.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Of Possible Interest

Last weekend I participated in a local Halloween Storytelling Festival. I wrote a children's ghost story for the event and read it live, along with Tammie Womack and Geoff Moore providing award-worthy performances in bringing two of the characters alive.

It seemed to go over well. I've enjoyed every children's or YA piece I've written, and I find myself wondering why I don't produce more of it.

I have two YA book series I would like to write. It's a matter of getting proposals and actual first volumes written. Which will come after I finish up a number of other projects.

Meanwhile, the story I wrote, "The Ghost and the Constable" is my column in this week's Ashland Beacon. You can read it here on page 2.

Also, Dave Wilbanks and I recently chatted about the beginning of our writing relationship. He's put the conversation up on his blog. If you like this sort of thing, please let one of us know and we'll share more if it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thanks to Matt Cowan at Horror Delve for including my novella “The Autumn Man” on his annual Halloween Reading List.

I was more than a little stunned to be included on a list of legendary writers like Manly Wade Wellman, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Landsale and Norma Partridge.

“The Autumn Man” is included in my collection Looking at the World With Broken Glass in My Eye. I believe the publisher is out of business, but Amazon still lists new and used copies here.
I have plans to eventually turn “The Autumn Man” into a novel, hopefully in the next year or so.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Dead Earth Tweets

Earlier today I answered some Dead Earth questions on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

My Favorite Comics

In the early 1970s America–and much of the world–had kung fu fever. On October 1, 1972 the TV show Kung Fu premiered and I was there for every slow David Carradine kick to some ignorant cowpoke’s head. Suddenly, the comics racks were filled with martial arts titles, and the best of them began right here. Master of Kung Fu (which would soon graduate to its own title) was the story of Shang-Chi, son of the infamous Devil Doctor, Fu Manchu. I was drawn in because of the kung fu connection, but the quality of the writing and the art, not to mention the pulpish undertones from the Sax Rohmer characters. Unfortunately, Marvel no longer has the Fu Manchu license, so the stories have not been reprinted yet. The original series lasted for well over a hundred issues, much longer than the fad that inspired it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pod of Horror #71

After a lengthy hiatus, we've attached the electrodes to the corpse,  shot a million volts of current through the rotting remains and viola! Pod of Horror is back! Episode #71 features interviews with authors James A. Moore, Hunter Shea and Daniel Boyd, along with regular features The Call of Kalanta, Jason Keene's Moonshine Matinee and Scary Words. Listen on iTunes or here

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When I’m 55

I never think of my age that often. But when I do, especially in the last couple of years, I’m am totally, abso-freakin’-lutely gob-smacked.

I’m 55. How did that happen?

In a recent conversation with a friend of similar vintage, we discussed how old we would guess we were if our memories were wiped. I told him I would guess I was in my mid-thirties. The only concessions to my age (aside from hair color) is the occasional twinge in the back and the need for more recovery time when I miss sleep. That’s it.

But I am 55, and that number does carry some meaning for me.

It means that my time is more valuable than ever before. That means that I have less patience with people who want to sell me things and expect me to sit through a 30 minute pitch before they tell me the price (please note: if someone doesn’t want to tell you the price, the price is going to be fairly ridiculous) or with physicians and other professionals who think nothing of asking you to wait three hours past the time of your appointment..

55 means that every second I spend with my wife is precious. Same goes for other close family members. It means that when it comes to movies and TV shows and books, my choices will be made carefully.

It also means the things I put my energy into have to be important to me. I have quite a few writing projects I want to get to. When I’m not working my day job, that’s what I’m spending most of my free time on.

It’s been a pretty good 55 years. I've managed to accomplished things the 12-year-old me would never dreamed of. I only hope the next 55 are just as good.

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Favorite Comics

In 1973, DC Comics secured the comic book rights to The Shadow, the pulp magazine and radio star of the 1930s and 1940s. Around the same time as his series debuted, DC had The Shadow meet up with Batman. In the story, we learned that The Shadow had been an early inspiration to Bats. They teamed up once more before DC gave up their Shadow license, thus preventing the stories from being reprinted. But for those of us lucky enough to hold on to the originals, we can still thrill to the vigilante who was even scarier (and nuttier) than Batman.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Favorite Comics

This stands out in my memory as the moment when my love for comics and love for horror (stoked by Saturday night viewings of Chiller Theater) came together. Marvel’s line of black and white horror magazines was not regulated by the Comics Code Authority, so, in theory, they could be R-rated. In truth, there was never much of anything shocking, but the very idea that something naughty could happen gave these magazines even more appeal to a kid.

The very next issue began the origin of Dracula, illustrated by the incomparable Neal Adams. That was 1973 and it remains one of my favorite comics stories.

I have a lot of love for these magazines. Some of the other titles included Monsters Unleashed, Tales of the Zombie, Haunt of Horror and Vampire Tales.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A.S.S. Update

 In this week's column for the Freakin' Ashland Beacon, I share a new escapade of the Argillite Secret Service. As always, it's on page 2. You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Favorite Comics

This is why I loved Marvel Comics in the early-to-mid 70s. There was a try-anything feel to the books. Oddball ideas were guaranteed at least a few issues. Bother Voodoo was another reluctant Marvel hero who takes over the role when his brother, the first Brother Voodoo, is murdered. The series boasted good writing and fantastic art by Gene Colan, who also drew every issue of Tomb of Dracula, another of my favorites. Brother Voodoo’s series ended after five issues, but his story continued in the pages of one of Marvel’s black and white monster magazines.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Well, this is unexpected.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Favorite Comics

When this came out, I was 10 years old. I had never heard of Robert E, Howard, nor had I been exposed to sword and sorcery fiction. But something about the writing and art transported me in a way that nothing had before. And that first issue wasn’t even that great. Future installments deserved to be called masterpieces. This influenced my reading for years to come. All in all, the first hundred issues or so of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian remains my favorite interpretation of the character.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pod People

If you're a fan of Pod of Horror (and if you are, thank you) the show will be in about a week. For hardcore followers of our show's The Call of Kalanta, here is something to tide you over. By the way, this isn't an old clip. It was freshly recorded yesterday.

My Favorite Comics

When this came out in 1972, my brother and I thought it was one of the coolest things we’d ever seen. Like most kids, we were big fans of Evel Knievel, watching all of his jumps on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. So the idea of a guy with a flaming skull on a chopper was mind-blowing. I think I read this issue a dozen times before the next one showed up at the drug store in two months.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cover Guy

Today is the birthday of Bob Eggleton, immensely talented artist and the creator of amazing covers for fantasy and SF book. 

Of course, I have a preference for one of his pieces in particular. Thanks to Nick Cato at Novello Publishers for scoring this cover.

By the way, I have an idea swirling around in my head for a novel that would link the Deadneck stories. I hope funny zombies never go out of fashion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

News From The Future

The secrets are revealed this week in my newspaper column in the Ashland Beacon. It's on page 2! Read it here.

Sunday, September 07, 2014


I just finished Personal by Lee Child, the new Jack Reacher novel. This one has Reacher, the former Army MP, drawn into the search for a deadly sniper he originally put in prison years ago. Set partly in France and England, and concerning possible multiple assassination attempts, Child crafts a supersonic page turner. It's possible that he's the best thriller writer in the biz.

Up next on the reading list:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Still Supernatural After All These Years

I recently wrapped up watching the 9th season of Supernatural. 17 episodes were on my DVR for months.

My TV watching time is very limited during the week, so I mostly watched the show here and there on weekends. Now the season is finished and here are a couple of thoughts.

(I know the season ended a long time a go, but there will spoilers. Consider yourself warned.)

Generally, I thought it was a successful season. Supernatural is strongest when it follows the shows mythology. Nine years of continuity can be intimidating for new viewers, so the show makes a token effort to appeal to newbies with a few episodes that don’t tie in to the main story.  Some of those stand alone monster-of-the-week episodes worked well, except for “Bloodlines”, which was a backdoor pilot for a spinoff series–a failed pilot, as it turns out. In hindsight, it’s not hard to understand why the CW passed. The pilot was about as generic as a show with Supernatural in the title could be.

As for the major arc–the fallen angels, Metatron, Abaddon, Dean’s descent into evil–it took a surprising and therefore, refreshing turn (a turn which was spoiled by much press this summer. I’m not complaining. It’s my fault for waiting so long to watch the show. But had the big finale not been spoiled, I would have been stunned. Stunned, I tells ya!).

So Dean’s a demon. This sets up interesting story possibilities for next year. More good news is the promotion of Mark Sheppard and Misha Collins to series regular.

Confession time: does any other longtime Supernatural viewer get chills when the season finale begin? When that “The Road So Far” title card comes up, followed by “Carry On, My Wayward Son”, I’m in need of an adult diaper. Er, was that too much info?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reader Mail

I answer it in this week's column in the freakin' Ashland Beacon. You can read it online. It's on page 2.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Writing Update

I’m on vacation, and after the hectic work schedule of the past seven or eight months, and following the other issues of the past couple of years that have kept me away from the keyboard for long stretches, I feel like I’ve turned a corner.

I don’t want to talk much about the issues that kept me from writing (imagine that: someone on the Internet who doesn’t want to share every infinitesimal detail of his personal life). Part of solution has been some solid vacation time, allowing me to get a lot of rest and find much-needed perspective.

I’m 54. I’ve loved dabbling in writing for most of my life, and until recently I had been fairly disciplined in producing work that got published.

I have a lot of stories I want to tell and less time in which to tell them as each day ends. I have to make each day productive.

I’ve made some great strides on the long-delayed second book in the Dead Sheriff series. God bless the staff at EvilEye Books for their patience.  I hope to have it finished and in their hands by the end of the month.

Next, I will finish another partially-completed horror novel, and then write a pitch for a graphic novel that a publisher has asked for.

Following that, I have to finish a novella for one of the best publishers I’ve ever worked with, and a novelette for another company.

That will catch me up with projects I agreed to do long ago, and clear the boards for the future.

That future will include more Dead Sheriff, stand alone horror novels and, I hope, books in a couple of other genres.

If you’re a reader, thanks for your support. If you haven’t tried any of my stuff, the links on this page should give you a place to start.

I’ll update my progress as often as possible.    

Pod of Horror was also a victim of the same circumstances that cut into my writing time. It, too, is coming back soon. 

 It's always been a labor of love. And I missed talking to my co-host and pal, Nanci Kalanta, on a regular basis. 

Keep watching for a PoH update by the end of the month, if not before.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Afternoon

I took a break from the longer project to write half of a new story today. At least, it feels like half. These things tend to grow in the writing and are then usually chopped down in the editing. My writing time will be almost non-existent tomorrow and Saturday. I hope I can finish it on Sunday.

It's very different from the kind of fiction I usually write and I have no idea if there's any sort of market for it. Which is fine. It's one of those things that feels right when I'm getting it down, and sometimes that's the best reward. 

I may post it here or I may shelve it until I have a new collection of stories. That will happen one day. I have a long list of stories I need to write, including a funny one that sprang from a recent dream about science fiction writers in the 1970s and stolen starships and a daring rescue out past Pluto.

As for the longer project, I hope to have some positive news on that around mid-July. 

I also need to post a brief review of Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. That should happen sometime Sunday, too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Rocket Power

Here's the United Kingdom trailer for Marvel's Guardian's of the Galaxy. New and improved with more Rocket Raccoon!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Before MR. MERCEDES arrived today, FACEOFF downloaded to my Kindle. I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. Edited by David Baldacci, the book teams up thriller writers to pit their best-known characters against each other. Lee Child's Jack Reacher vs Joseph Finder's Nick Heller, Heather Graham's Michael Quinn vs. F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack, plus Michael Connelly vs Dennis Lehane, James Rollins vs. Steve Berry, Jeffrey Deaver vs John Sanford, and a bunch more. Best of all, R.L. Stine's Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy vs Preston and Child's Pendergast. This looks like a blast.

What I'll Be Doing The Next Few Days

Yep. Just sitting here holding this book.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Happy Birthday, Norma Kay

My beautiful wife, the gal of my dreams, has a birthday today. She is simply the best person I know. I'll save the rest for another 30 days. That's when we celebrate out 32nd wedding anniversary.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Godzilla's Witnesses

Pulp Friction

I love pulp fiction.

Maybe I should rephrase that. I love the idea of pulp fiction. Let’s face it: a lot of the stuff we call pulp fiction was pretty bad, cranked out to meet a tight deadline and earn a low wage.

But there were a lot of gems hidden in that mountain of turds, especially if you’re in the right frame of mind when you read the stuff. I know this because I’ve had quite a few friends say, “What’s the big deal with The Shadow/Doc Savage/The Spider, etc.?” I pass along some samples. Occasionally, the new reader becomes a fan. Often, they do not. In fact, they sometimes violently do not become a fan. So take what I’m saying with a big grain of salt. I’m a fan. I love the stuff.  Your mileage may vary.

New Pulp is the genre of current pulp fiction, written to emulate the tone or style or campiness of the original pulp. I’ve read a lot of it. Heck, I’ve written some of it (I even have a pulp project on my to-do list). Some of the New Pulp is great. Some of it is not. The New Pulp I’ve read includes its fair share of bad writing and bad editing (or, I suspect, no editing).

Having said that, this caught my eye today.

Here’s the link to read more or to order.

The editors have a good pedigree and that may be enough for me to check it out. If that happens. I’ll review it here. On the other hand, I have a lot of old pulp fiction left to be read, and I plan to knock out some of that over the summer. For some reason summer time always means pulp time for me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Catching Up (Part 1)

Hey. Long time, no blog. Things have been busy, as usual. But a recent renovation job at the house threw the schedule waaaay off. It’s amazing how construction at a small house like ours can become all-encompassing. But it’s over now and we have beautiful new floor to ceiling bookshelves, which will finally help organize our out-of-control book collection. This will make it far easier to see what we have, what we want to keep, and what we want to discard, probably through Goodwill. Here’s one of the shelves, partly stocked.

Here’s another, with our cat Callie in the background, holding the bed down.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, between stints at work, I read the new Steve Berry novel The Lincoln Myth. Berry writes a fast-paced thriller, with a plot drawn from American history, in this case a deal between Brigham Young and Abraham Lincoln to keep the Union intact during the Civil War. In the present day, former intelligence agent Cotton Malone has to stop the centerpiece of the Lincoln deal from becoming public and destroying America. I always think of Berry’s novels as “Da Vinci Code-lite”. And, as Martha Stewart wisely puts it, that’s a good thing.

For those who are politically inclined, here’s an article from Damon Linker where he examines why he’s not a Republican anymore (but he’s not really a Democrat, either).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Incredible Bulk VS Agents of S.H.E.M.P.

The carnage takes place in this week's Ashland Beacon. It's on page 2. You can read it here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon

First, my apologies to anyone who has received spam email from my AOL account.  No, I haven’t been hacked. I wish it was just something I could fix with a change of password. Actually, I–and around 1% of AOL customers– have been spoofed.

I always thought being part of the 1% would be more fun.

 A hacker stole contact lists from AOL accounts,  including accounts that have been inactive for years, and is using them to send out spam email from what is jiggered to appear as an AOL account. It doesn’t originate from my account and I can’t stop it. Apparently, neither can AOL, although they promise to do just that.

AOL’s help page suggests that account holders change their passwords. It won’t help with this spoofing, they tell us. I guess it’s supposed to be comforting.

If you want to read more about the situation, you can check out this article.

As with any email, if you don’t know the sender or there’s an oddly phrased message and a link, delete it without clicking on the link.


I’m in a Doc Savage frame of mind this week. I’ve plowed through two Will Murray novels–Horror in Gold and The Forgotten Realm–and I’m starting on a third, Phantom Lagoon. Two or three novels in a row from any genre are usually my limit before I have to turn to something else. I’ll let you know how it goes.



I’ve been dealing with a recurrence of the gout, and merry malady that I have enjoyed since 1991. This gout bout has not been as serious as the first go-around, and I hope I caught it early enough. Just as he did 23 years ago, the doc put me on Allopurinal, a drug which seems to work well on me. While gout limited some of my activity for a few days, it did force me to get some reading done, and things seem to be getting back to normal, so I hope to resume daily walks soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Holiday Greetings From The Easter Duck

Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, have a great day.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Doc

This amazingly cool cover was recently unveiled at the Wild Adventures of Doc Savage Facebook page. The book isn't out yet, but since the Joe DeVito cover blew me away, I wanted to share it here.

I'll review it when it's released. As detailed here, I've become a fan of Will Murray's novels.

Oh, look, another 90s Doc is being re-released, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Innocence by Dean Koontz

I’ve been reading Dean Koontz for a lot of years, starting in my youth when I knew I wanted to be a writer. My local library had a book called Writing Popular Fiction by Dean R. Koontz (I believe the book was later released under the title Writing Bestselling Fiction , once Koontz was actually a bestseller). The author’s photo showed a long-haired young man with a mustache. Cool, I thought. Unlike most jobs, writing let you grow your hair as long as you liked.

I must have checked out that book 10 times while I was in high school, trying to memorize its secrets.

A few years later, when I was looking for another author to fill the gap between releases by my new favorite, Stephen King, I discovered the fiction of Koontz (I recall searching for his work after reading the non-fiction book, but Koontz’s science fiction novels were hard to find in this part of Kentucky).  I think the first Koontz I read was Whispers. After that, I was hooked. While Koontz didn’t seem to dig into his characters’s heads as deeply as King did, his plots were outstanding and the premise of each novel was imaginative and original. Since then, I’ve grabbed everything he’s released. That doesn’t mean I’ve loved every book, but even the least of them were enjoyable.

Over the years, Koontz has introduced more spirituality into his novels. I hope it isn’t too much of a spoiler to say that Innocence is his most overt expression of this.

Innocence concerns a boy named Addison, who must remain hidden from the world. If he’s spotted and someone looks at his face or into his eyes, that person tries to kill him. So Addison only goes out at night, and only with his face hidden. One night he meets a girl named Gwyneth, who can’t stand to be touched. They bond, and we’re off on another Koontzian adventure.

At times, the book’s pace slows down, but the ultimate revelation of Addison’s “condition” is quite unique and offers a payoff that makes up for any of the novel’s shortcomings.

There are a few unanswered question, though, and that’s unusual for a Koontz novel. Those include the presence of spooky marionettes and a confrontation with an archbishop, both of which almost read like plot threads that were meant to be expanded upon.

I’ll give Innocence a grade of a solid B. We’ll see what Koontz comes up with for The City, due out in July.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Batman Turns 75

Artist and producer Bruce Timm, who brought us Batman: The Animated Series, returns to the character with this short cartoon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Evil Update

From today's walk, the evil Flatwoods tree is still bringing the creepy.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Still Stinky After All These Years

Check out the story of the human waste that still smells as fresh as when it was excreted in the 1300s.

Who knew 14th Century Denmark had a Taco Bell?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Odd Thomas and Other Sunday Morning Musings

Dean Koontz, a writer I’ve enjoyed for nearly 30 years, has a series of books about a young fry cook named Odd Thomas. Odd can see the silent spirits of the dead, who linger on Earth due to unresolved issues. Those issues usually involve murder. Odd is aided in his mission by his girlfriend, Stormy. They have been a couple since childhood, when a card from a gypsy fortune telling machine revealed Odd and Stormy were destined to be together forever.

Koontz, like many writers, has not exactly hit the jackpot when his work has been adapted for movies and TV. Watchers 3, anyone? However, several months ago, Koontz praised the adaptation of Odd Thomas, written and directed by Stephen Sommers, the man behind the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies. The movie briefly appeared in theaters and was recently released to DVD and Blu-Ray. We just watched it and here are a few thoughts.

* Anton Yelchin, from Hearts in Atlantis and the guy who plays Chekov in the Star Trek reboot, is perfect as Odd. He manages to embody a mix of optimism, dread and a sense of heavy responsibility. Humor is a big part of Koontz’s Odd Thomas books, and Yelchin and Addison Timlin as Stormy, do a fine job delivering one liners and keeping the mood as light as needed.

* The plot of the novel has been compressed and changed to work as a film. At least there’s a nod to Elvis, who is a character in the book.

* At times, Odd Thomas has the look of a TV movie, due, I’m sure, to budget constraints. On the other hand, the effect are impressive, particularly the bodachs and a scene inside the house of Fungus Bob.

* The story has a lot of heart, and it stayed with me. There aren’t many days when I wake up thinking of the movie I watched the night before. In this case, I did.

All in all, it’s a solid representation of Koontz’s work, and I would recommend it for fans of the book.

We also watched Last Vegas, which has been predictably referred to as The Hangover for seniors. Four old friends go to Vegas for a bachelor party and hijinks ensue. The big takeaway? Michael Douglas looks more like his dad than ever. The performances are good, the script has some solid jokes and Mary Steenburgen can sing. Who knew? It’s was an enjoyable couple of hours. Definitely a rental, not an owner.

While writing this weekend, I realized what the title to the third Dead Sheriff book needed to be. For fans of the first book, I realize this news might be slightly ironic and perhaps even frustrating, since I haven’t finished writing the second book yet.

No one has been more disappointed than me at my lack of productivity. The last couple of years have been tumultuous and that’s all I’m inclined to say. I may be the only person on the Internet who doesn’t feel an obligation to share every personal detail of my life with the world, but I’ve never been one of the cool kids, so why start now?

The good news is that my writing is returning to something resembling a normal schedule.

And it feels good.

In addition to the next Dead Sheriff book (which involves masked vigilantes, cannibals and a vampire bordello, so, you know, booyah), I have several other projects in the works for this year and I’m anxious to see some results. Now it’s a party.