Saturday, January 23, 2016

Land of a Thousand Leaks

You can read the column I write for a local newspaper right here. Just click on “Current Issue” and look for my piece at the top of page 2.

For Your Snow Day Listening Pleasure

 On Pod of Horror #80, Kealan Patrick Burke tells us about Sour Candy...Nanci and Mark talk about David Bowie, The X-Files and maybe some horror...and we review books by Kealan Patrick Burke and Brian Keene.

If you’re a horror fan, this is the one podcast you can’t afford to miss! You can listen to Pod of Horror on iTunes or stream it right here. Just click on the link below.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I was asked this many times today: “How much snow we gettin’?”

I checked four different weather forecasting services. The only thing they can agree on is that they can’t agree.

When Norma was doing TV weather I learned it’s difficult to accurately predict the weather more than a day in the future. Too many things can change. So why do we have Five Day, Seven Day and Ten Day forecasts?

Because you demand them. You insist on knowing the unknowable. That’s why forecasters have to engage in a process that we in broadcasting call Making Shit Up.

Fortunately, I do have some insight. Here it is:

It’s going to snow A LOT.

Or it isn’t.

Either way, you can’t do jack about it. So relax.

Maybe it will be a pleasant, though cool, weekend. Or it will be, as you suspect, THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT!! In that case, I recommend thermal underwear and hot cocoa. Oh, and about thirty loaves of bread from the store.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Best of Pod of Horror?

I’ve been thinking about doing an occasional “Best of Pod of Horror”, featuring excerpts from maybe three or so of our interviews over the past decade. Each “Best of” would have links to the full interviews in our archives.

Yes, you can go directly to the archives and listen to the old episodes now, but this way you could sample a portion of an interview with someone you might not ordinarily be interested in. 

That’s my thinking, anyway.

Keep in mind I’m short on sleep and way too caffeinated.

Would you guys be interested in this?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What I Did With My Sunday

In addition to writing, we recorded a great installment of The Call of Kalanta today. Nanci and I discussed David Bowie, The X-Files, The Taco Society and, oh, yeah, horror.

Pod of Horror #80 will go live on Wednesday with special guest Kealan Patrick Burke. You’ll find it here.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Back in Time

Yesterday I had occasion to be in a building where I once worked, more than 30 years ago.

It’s a different place now. New business. New owners. Completely remodeled. Except...

Except I could see the old place, like a ghost image. Two photographs overlapping. I thought of my time there, and tried to conjure up one single good memory.

I couldn’t. All I remembered was screaming, cursing, unhappiness and general dysfunctional behavior.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to stay long.

As I drove home, I realized there had to be one or two pleasant recollections associated with that place, if only I could dig down deep. And then I thought of my life today, and realized that my experiences in that place helped shaped me into the man who built a life far better than all that craziness so long ago.

So, I acknowledge that time. But only just barely. It’s 2016 and I’ve got things to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mr. Powerball

This week in my newspaper column, I reveal what I’ll do once I inevitably win the Powerball. You can read it for free here. My column is on page 2. Also, past columns are available in the archives.

Monday, January 11, 2016


I spent the morning watching the Sunday news shows (I’m a news junkie, in case I’ve never mentioned it) and writing my weekly humor column for a local newspaper.

Later, I recorded an interview with horror author Kealan Patrick Burke for an upcoming installment of Pod of Horror. His new novella Sour Candy is one of the best things I’ve read in recent memory. We discussed that and many other topics. The interview will appear on Pod of Horror #80, which should be out in the next week to 10 days. I’ll let you know when it’s streaming.

I also dabbled a bit with the short story I mentioned earlier. I know, I know. I have a novel to finish and The Dead Sheriff to revise (and then the Donovan Pike book and a collection of pulp stories and something else I’m talking about with a collaborator...) but I love short stories. I love reading them and writing them.

Once it’s finished I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with it. I’m very out of touch with the markets these days, and most of the magazines I like to read all seem to be closed to submissions.

Still, that’s okay. It’s a story that’s demanding to be written and that’s all that really matters.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Mark Gets Marked Up

As a follow up to my posts this week on The Dead Sheriff, my wife pointed out that the original book is listed on Amazon for $201.70. Heck, there’s another copy listed for $390.56.

Listen, I’ll be happy to sell you one of my personal copies for a mere $200. That’s what we call a real bargain back home.

Seriously,  the new version of the book will be out this year with more than 20,000 words of new material.

And it will be a lot less than $390.56.

The Dead Sheriff Reviewed

While digging through some books and magazines yesterday (okay, okay, the truth: a towering pile of unshelved books and unboxed magazines toppled over in our crowded den/writing office, and I was picking them up) I came across the March 2013 issue of Rue Morgue, the one with this review:

It’s my first and only review in a major magazine, and it reminded me that I have to get the revised version of the first Dead Sheriff book off to Airship 27 so it can begin to make its way through their production process.

I have a couple of more days writing on the horror novel until I reach a point where the plot of the book takes a dramatic twist. After I hit that part, I’ll pause work on that project to write the new novella for TDS: Zombie Damnation. I have my fingers crossed that will take about two weeks. After that, I’ll send the whole manuscript off to my first readers and then to Ron at Airship 27.

The second TDS book is done in first draft. It will also include a separate-but-connected novella. What I have planned for that one puts a rather large smile on my face. More on the second TDS later in the year.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Deadneck Dreaming

A couple of days ago I posted about a buddy of mine who is stationed in Afghanistan. He called me to say, among other things, that he’d just enjoyed my story “Deadnecks”.

A little background: “Deadnecks” concerns a small Kentucky town exposed to a zombie outbreak. Once the town's good ol’ boys are converted to the dead side, the retain their original personalities. So they drink beer and watch NASCAR, as well as eating brains. The story was horror with a big dose of humor.

The story was first published in Dark Discoveries magazine. In 2007, I wrote a sequel to the original “Deadnecks” and both stories were published in Deadneck Hootenanny, a chapbook by Novello Publishers. In 2010, there was a third story, “Deadneck Woman”, in the Novello anthology Dark Jesters.   

Since then I’ve contemplated writing a Deadnecks novel, incorporating the three stories. I think it would be a hoot to write, but until I can carve out more writing time, the redneck zombies will be pouring back PBR on the back burner.

I just found Deadneck Hootenanny listed on Amazon for $36.00. I would like to have another copy, but not at that price.

By the way, both stories from DH are in my collection Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye.  You can still get a copy here.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

When We're Not Podcasting

Between episodes of Pod of Horror, you can find some other cool stuff on our site, including industry news and book reviews.

We just put up a review of The Complex by Brian Keene, a novel that scored a spot on my Top Books of the Year list.

Feel free to leave feedback for Pod of Horror at the links at the top of the page.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Deadnecks in the 'Stan

So, we have a friend who is stationed in the Middle East. He can’t really talk about what he does, but he checks in frequently to let us know he’s safe. Before Christmas we sent him a package with snacks and books and graphic novels. One of the books was, at his request, a copy of my collection Looking at the World with Broken Glass in My Eye.

He called this morning while I was on the air. During our conversation, he mentioned how much he enjoyed “Deadnecks”, the first story in my collection. I was unexpectedly struck by how moving it was to hear that. I never imagined my little redneck zombie story would be entertaining service members half a world away.

That was a cool moment that will stay with me all day.

(By the way, the book is out of print but you can still get a copy here.)

Black and White and Read Online

It’s been a while since I posted about my newspaper column. I’ve written a weekly humor column for a local paper, The Greater Ashland Beacon, for the last four or five years (I lose track, but my wife has saved all the columns, so one day I’ll add it up).

Anyway, this week’s column is an adventure of the Argillite Secret Service. You can go here to read it for free. It’s on page two every week.

The Beacon has the last several years of the column archived on their site.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

2016 Reading

As I mentioned when I announced my Top Books of the Year on the latest Pod of Horror, there were many books I didn’t have time to get to in 2015. I’m trying to correct that now. in the lineup for the next few weeks are Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden, Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Trembaly, The Silence by Tim Lebbon and Answers of Silence by Geoff Cooper.

What am I looking forward to in 2016? In no particular order:

A Long December by Richard Chizmar. Probably best known as a publisher, Chizmar deserves to be better recognized for his moody, evocative writing.

End of Watch by Stephen King. I loved the first two entries in the Bill Hodges series. It looks like the third one is taking a turn into more traditional supernatural King territory.

The Fireman by Joe Hill.  Hill’s NOS4A2 rocked, and I'm looking forward to this novel of a plague that causes its victims to spontaneously burst into flames.

Freedom of the Mask by Robert McCammon. Another entry in McCammon’s spectacular Matthew Corbett historical detective series.

And, I’m sure, many, many more to come.

What are you poanning to read this year?

Monday, January 04, 2016

Top Books of 2015

Since Pod of Horror #79 has been out for a few days, and others are posting about the list, I wanted to share my picks for Top Books of 2015.

If you’d like a little more info, check out the show.

#3 A tie! Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz and The Complex by Brian Keene.

#2 Slowly We Rot by Bryan Smith.

#1 The Border by Robert McCammon.

You can listen to the entire episode free here

Another Dead Sheriff Custom-Made Figure

Last Christmas, my talented friend Brian Spears presented me with a custom-made Dead Sheriff action figure. Now, on the heels of the announcement of a new publisher for the character, Brian gave me another figure, this one of Sam, the Dead Sheriff's "partner". Truly amazing work that left me speechless.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Work In Progress

This isn't the opening to the novel I'm currently working on. It's a novella I started a few years ago and shelved to work on The Dead Sheriff, The Dead Earth books and some other stuff. I like the story and hope to finish it in 2016. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section. This is the first page and a half of what is a 45 page manuscript. So far.

Dale Hewitt heard the sounds the first night he lived in the house.
            This was after the moving men left in the truck that spewed vile blue smoke like a rolling factory, and after his old friend Brody had finished the last slice of pizza before hitting the road. Brody gave him a man hug, patting Dale on the back and bumping shoulders. Brody belched, then departed, trailing the odor of pepperoni and banana peppers as he went out the door.
            Dale cleaned up in the kitchen (actually, he tossed the pizza box and the paper plates and the empty cans of Mountain Dew; cleaning the kitchen would commence after he unpacked the kitchen) and stood for a long time staring out of the small window above the sink. The unfamiliar backyard was barely visible through Dale’s reflection. In the twilight shadows, he made out the shape of a big maple tree and the beginning of the hill that climbed to the sky.
            He felt like crying.
            He wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t have to search far for reasons: the impending divorce, the events that led to the end of his marriage, moving back to his father’s house. Okay, technically he hadn’t moved back anywhere. Dale didn’t grow up in the house and had only visited a handful of times since his dad sold the old place and moved here a couple of years back. The house sat empty for almost six months after his father passed away and now Dale stood in his father’s kitchen, looking at his father’s backyard and feeling untethered from everyone and everything.
            It was a notion he would have embraced when he was 18. At 38, it produced tightness in his chest and the early tickle of a panic attack. His doctor had given him a prescription for Alprazolam, but the bottle was stowed away in a suitcase or his duffle. Dale leaned on the sink and closed his eyes. Taking deep, slow breaths, he tried to break down the reasons for his anxiety.
            That’s easy. You’ve never been alone.
            It was true. He had moved from his parents’ house—the one he actually grew up in—to the dorm at WVU. He met Renee in his sophomore year and they became inseparable. The marriage was the day after graduation, and they moved into a crappy little apartment in Morgantown, while he snapped up all the substitute teaching gigs he could find and she started part-time as a dental hygienist.  After he got on full-time at the elementary school, they saved up the down payment and moved into a small two bedroom home in an old and quiet neighborhood. It was a great time in their lives. Dale had never been happier than in those early years, struggling to meet the mortgage and having candlelight dinners of cheeseburgers from Dairy Queen. Life was so good then that Dale even half-joked to Renee one night about waiting for the other shoe to drop. She wasn’t amused.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Saturday Writing

I made good progress on the horror novel today. This is the book I have to finish before I can revise The Dead Sheriff and write the Donovan Pike pulp adventure novel.

As I mentioned elsewhere, the weeks between Thanksgiving and the new year were not the best for writing, due to work, family commitments and the other intrusions of day to day life. With the holidays over, I think the writing is back on track.

Also, I dabbled a bit with a horror short story. I’ve had several story ideas jostling around in my head for months, fighting to get out.

Years ago, a writer I greatly admire warned me not to divide my attention among multiple writing projects at the same time. I’ve tried to stick to that bit of wisdom. But this story really wants to be written.

On the other hand, it’s been so long since I’ve completed a piece of short horror fiction that I’m not sure what to do with it when I do finish it.

Also, I’m not certain many people are interested in these little writing updates. So I’ll try to keep them short. I do these from time to time as a form of motivation for me. If you get something out of them, that’s great, too.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday.

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Dead Sheriff Has A New Home

Several years ago I wrote the first novel in what was going to be a series called The Dead Sheriff.

It was the legend of the Lone Ranger turned inside out and pureed in a blender.

The myth of The Dead Sheriff says that a lawman died trying to protect his family, only to return from his grave to avenge their deaths and avenge all who suffer injustice.

The truth was very different.

What if...

...the faithful Indian sidekick was really the guy in charge?

...the undead lawman was a reanimated corpse controlled like a puppet by an arcane magic stolen by a young man who barely understood the power he controls?

...a writer from the east traveled west to report the story of The Dead Sheriff, only to be caught up in a world of magic, murder and monsters?

The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation, the first volume, was published a few years back. It got several good reviews (including one from my favorite horror magazine Rue Morgue) and I started writing the sequel. For several reasons, some personal, the book was never published.

A few months ago, the original publisher of the book decided to take the company in a different direction, leaving me free to pursue a new home for The Dead Sheriff.

I’m happy to announce that Airship 27, award-winning publisher of New Pulp and the leaders in pulp fiction publishing, will bring The Dead Sheriff back into print.

The new version of The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation will include the full text of the original novel, plus a new novella set in the world of The Dead Sheriff that will ready the stage for the second book The Dead Sheriff: Cannibal Carnage.

Airship 27 produces beautiful books with action-packed covers. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for my reanimated lawman.

Publication dates will be announced as the books are scheduled. I have quite a bit of writing to do before the manuscripts are ready, then we have to fit into Airship 27's very packed schedule.

Thanks to Ron Fortier at Airship 27 for believing in the project. I can’t tell you how excited I am that my dead lawman still lives.

I’ll update you here as the project progresses.