Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 in the Rearview/ 2011 Giving Me a Lap Dance…

***
Wow. This was a landmark year for me and the most enjoyable I've had since found stumbling around this mortal coil.

I met the woman of my dreams. Then we learned that a dream is just a dream and a real loving relationship takes work, which turned out to be kinda fun, and well worth the effort on both our parts. We've taught each other things, we've learned to listen, we share so much and give like you wouldn't believe. I was happy before. She makes me happier. I hope I can always do the same for her.

I've come to love limited edition books. They make my blood sing, my fingers tingle, and my hair stand on end. It's amazing the talent and skill that goes into making them, an outer beauty to match the inner glory of the stories. Perfect. I'll do everything I can to support authors and publishers I believe in. Like Steve Clark’s Tasmaniac Publications, Tom and Billie Moran’s Sideshow Press, Shane Ryan Staley’s Delirium Books, Brett Alexander Savory’s Chizine Publications, RJ and Julia Sevin’s Creeping Hemlock Press, as well as Centipede Press, Bloodletting, and Bad Moon Books, as well as magazines like Shock Totem, Dark Discoveries, and a dozen others. And authors they publish: Greg Gifune, Brian Hodge, Tom Piccirilli, Douglas Clegg, Peter Straub, Shaun Jeffrey, Clive Barker, Sam W. Anderson, Erik Williams, John Mantooth, Tim Lebbon, Cate Gardner, Gary Braunbeck, Mark Allan Gunnells, Sheldon Higdon, Ronald Malfi, Brian Knight, and a host more.

I learned that sometimes I need to step away from the Internet, to strip my life down to what matters most—the barest essentials: my relationship, my family, my closest friends, and my work. Energy ebbs and flows. I have to stay in step with it to keep dancing so smoothly. Pretty fly for a white guy, eh?

I learned a lot from writing this year from those who have critted my stories (Shaun Ryan, Kevin Wallis, Kara, Ken Wood, Ben Eads, Wanda Clevenger, Shaun Jeffrey, and Mark Allan Gunnells) and I give them all a big butt smack filled with appreciation to carry them into 2011. Not only are they great critters, they're great people with great butts.

I've met amazing editors who have helped me develop faith in myself that goes beyond the normal, and sometimes tiresome, back-patting you see among writers. So a big thanks to Steve Clark, Tom Moran, Shane Ryan Staley, Ken Wood, Claire Nixon, Michael Louis Dixon, Jassen Bailey, James Beach, and Jason Sizemore. Not to mention their great teams with people like Maggie Jamison, Mercedes Yardley, Nick Contor, John Boden, Jason V. Brock, etc., etc.

I had a blast while helping select stories for Horror Library Volume 4. It's such an excellent collection.

I found some great shows that made me laugh. Spaced; Spartacus: Blood and Sand; Peep Show; and some others that elude me because I'm a dork.

I've read a hundred great books (my top five would be: Greg Gifune’s The Bleeding Season; Tom Piccirilli’s Shadow Season; Sam W. Anderson’s collection Postcards from Purgatory; Douglas Clegg’s Neverland; and Jack Cady’s Street (which I copied the entire novel by hand to learn more. LOl. I am insane.)

I got to see some of my friends sell stories, collections and novels. Outstanding! I expect they'll all sell much more in 2011. I’m excited for them!

I gave my first blurb! (Kevin Wallis’s fantastic collection Beneath the Surface of Things)

I had my first interview! (AJ Brown interviewed me. What fun! And an equally fun second interview performed by Mark Allan Gunnells!)

I had my first professional sale! (Shock Totem issue 4, baby! Where my story “Beneath the Weeping Willow” sits in wait to get its hands on your throat, and maybe your heart.)

Hosted our first Scary Sad Stories Talent Show (We will repeat every Halloween!)

I found a career after a lifetime of living as a hooker and part-time vagabond!

I had my first limited-edition hard cover release! (As I Embrace My Jagged Edges—which was released in digital, is also being released in a limited hardcover run for collector's and features a bonus story! Drop kickin’ a pregnant watermelon.)

I’ve learned that there is more pleasure in having work through publishers I love and having my work among my heroes than the measly satisfaction given by money. A whole lot. But the money is nice because then I can buy people stuff (like breath mints.) :D

I wrote several long pieces (45-90,000 words). Four of them to be exact. Everyone of them was fun—we danced, we laughed, we cried, we collapsed, exhausted! And I am proud of them all. And you'll see some of them released in 2011!

I hope others have had such a wonderful year. It’s overwhelming at times. Surreal. But I'm grateful and looking forward to hitting my stride this next year! Dig it! And the great thing is 2010 is not even over yet and more wonderful news might arrive!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For your enjoyment…




an interview with Mark Allan Gunnells. He’s a promising talent on the rise. His stories are well-written, dark, and have a playful quality that can easily trick you into thinking maybe everything will work out all right. Mark has various things coming out soon from Sideshow Press and Apex’s imprint The Zombie Feed. It’s wonderful to see him off and running, and I hope that everyone gives his work a chance. He’s a pleasant and gifted host.

Lee: How did you come to love reading and writing, Mark? Were they a soft whisper that coaxed you into the dark, or a deafening roar that compelled you to set yourself apart?

Mark: I fell in love with reading at a young age, with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Something about that story just really captured my imagination and I began reading a lot. However, I fell away from reading as I got older and didn't find my way back to it until high school, with the help of one Mr. Stephen King. As for writing, that also began at an early age, with me penning these little one-page Twilight Zone knock-offs. Hopefully I've improved some since then.

Lee: People love your work. You’ve improved. Do you have a process when composing stories?

Mark: I'm very lucky in that I get to write at work. I'm a security guard, and have pockets of downtime throughout the day. I have trained myself to write in those pockets. It isn't ideal for some, the constant stop-and-start method, but I've managed to make it work. I don't put pressure on myself by aiming for a certain number of words or pages per day. My aim is just to write.

Lee: And knowing how much you’ve written I’d say it’s working very well for you! Who are some of your greatest influences?

Mark: Well, there are many writers I love. King is wonderful at characters and just seems to exude a passion for storytelling; Lansdale is awe-inspiring and has taught me how sometimes simplicity in style can expose great depths; Barker is just a master of the short form. That said, I don't know if I'd call them "influences" in that I do try not to emulate but write with my own voice.

Lee: Who’s Lansdale and Barker? (Hehe. I kid.) What are your favorite types of stories? And does your work naturally fall into this camp or that?

Mark: I like different types of stories, but horror is my first love, and perhaps my truest love. I've always found them to be thrilling and exciting. And because it's what I love to read, naturally it's what I love to write as well.

Lee: You have several stories which will be available soon through Sideshow Press with other talented writers like Sam W. Anderson, Erik Williams, James A. Moore, and Kurt Newton. What are your stories there about? What is unique about this press and why does your work fit so well among their catalog?

Mark: My upcoming projects include WHISONANT, which contains two novellas. "Whisonant", which is a ghost story of sorts set on a college campus, and "Creatures of the Light" which is a post-apocalyptic creature feature. Also, Sideshow will be releasing TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT VOL. I, my first full short story collection, which I'm most excited about. Sideshow is a wonderful press run by Tom and Billie Moran. They have a true love for the genre and for books in general, and they bring their passion to their company. I am very fortunate they were willing to take a risk on me.


Lee: What do you want to accomplish? What is your ultimate goal?

Mark: Some may call it simplistic, but my ultimate goal is just to entertain. Not that I don't sometimes have deeper themes and meanings, but to me the most important thing is entertaining. I want to be entertained by what I write and entertain those who read what I write.

Lee: That’s a great goal. People love to be entertained! (I'm a great pointer out of the obvious.) What do you have in the works now?

Mark: Right now I'm working on "The Summer of Winters", a coming-of-age novella.


Lee: You have a novella coming out through Apex's imprint The Zombie Feed. What's the title? How long did it take you to write? What's it about?

Mark: It's called ASYLUM, and it's a zombie story that takes place in a gay club. I sometimes jokingly say it's like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD only in a gay club instead of a farmhouse. There are zombie attacks and flesh-eating goodies, but it's also more of a character study of the people trapped inside the club.

I actually started a version of this story--then called NIGHT OWLS--in college when I first got the idea, but I wrote only the first few paragraphs (including one of my favorite opening lines: "When the dead arose, Jimmy was going down on the balding accountant.") before putting it aside. After college, I went through a dark period where I stopped writing altogether, but when I finally came back to it (came to my senses more like it) I looked at those paragraphs and decided I wanted to try again. NIGHT OWLS became ASYLUM (because I liked the dual meaning of the name) and I started. I got halfway through then for whatever reason felt it wasn't working and put it aside again. A little over a year later I looked at what I had written, really liked it and couldn't remember why it wasn't working for me at the time. Maybe all I needed was a little distance. So I went back to it and finally finished the thing up.

Had a hard time finding a home for this one, for various reasons. For some, the explicit gay themes was a problem. For others, it wasn't zombie intensive enough. I am very happy that The Zombie Feed is taking a chance on it.


Lee: Neat! Any advice for aspiring writers?

Mark: If you love to write, write. Plain and simple. Yes, you should strive to learn all you can and improve your craft. Definitely seek publication. But above all else, just sit down and write. And have fun with it. In my opinion, if writing isn't a joyful experience, you're not doing something right.

Thanks for sharing some time with me and these intelligent gents and ladies who read my blog! I’m sure we’ll see a lot more quality work coming from your golden pen, Mr. Gunnells. Looking forward to it!

Mark’s story “Dancing in the Dark” from Darkside Digital is a good first taste of his fiction. Support a great writer and a great publisher. And it’s cheap! Buy it HERE! (<--Right there)

Here’s a sneak peek of his novella coming out through Apex’s Zombie Feed imprint: Clickie.

Here’s a free story up on Sideshow Press’s website. (Click ME)

Mark's novella just went up for pre-order! The details are here: Asylum

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I strip in an interview (and other news)

***

It’s been a great year, which I’ll be posting about as soon as 2011 rears its pretty head. For now, a talented and entertaining writer—Mark Allan Gunnells—just interviewed me on his blog. Fun! We share space at both Darkside Digital and now Sideshow Press! You can read the interview here: Lee’s boogie woogie.

And tomorrow I’ll be posting my interview with Mark on here. He has some entertaining work you don’t want to miss!

In other news my story DADDY SCREAMED WITH US is going to be included in Delirium’s Horror Wired anthology. It’s a hardcover and I’m excited because I LOVE Delirium’s roster and quality! And it’s the second limited edition hardcover featuring my work. Neat, yeah? It is to me. I’m pumped. Bouncing off walls in my fancy yellow helmet.

I had an invite to an anthology with some of my favorite writers too! Can’t wait to write the story for this one and see/hold the end product!

Still waiting for the release of my novelette from Sideshow Press (see previous blog post). I’m so thrilled to be working with Tom and Billie and having work alongside some of the horror genres rising stars (Sam W. Anderson, Mark Allan Gunnells, Erik Williams, and a few others.) *Beaming*

I received my contributor copies of Tasmaniac Publications Festive Fear: Global Edition. It’s beautiful and has my story “A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky” alongside Tom Piccirilli, Paul Kane, Tim Curran, Kaelan Patrick Burke and lots of other talented folks. Sweetness. I’m looking forward to reading some reviews when they start coming in!

Also got some great books from James Beach. Dark Discoveries is running an excellent deal. Check it out HERE!

Working on a novel (The Dampness of Mourning), and editing a novella, pitched a novella to one of my favorite publishers, and got some other irons in the fire. I hope you’re all staying busy too (and having fun with it!)

Don’t forget to come back and read Mark’s interview tomorrow. If you love dark work he’s your man.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Update... :D

***

Doing great. Enjoying time away from all the hustle and bustle, just loving on Kara like I should and being leveled by her intensity in return.

Also got a look at the cover to my novelette being released by Sideshow Press in digital next month, and as a beautiful limited-25-hardcover copy for collectors and featuring a bonus story, early next year.

I'm going to share it with you. Because I'm proud. And maybe a little excited. Thanks to Sam W. Anderson for suggesting I send something their way and thanks to Shaun, Kevin and Mark for reading this story when it was in its infancy. :D

The artwork was done by Tom Moran. Fantastic!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Personal note...



My personal life has taken a nose dive and the song “If I only had a brain” sums it up pretty well. I need to regroup, make amends, and find a way to make things right. So, that’s what I’m going to do—work on fixing things I’ve broken, and write, and read, and face up to my actions. I shut down my FB pages for a bit. They are too distracting, it’s too easy to pretend everything is right in the world when it’s not, and too easy to get caught up in having fun with all the people I like instead of dealing with some issues I should have dealt with a long time ago to treat Kara like she deserves.

I’ll be back, I just don’t know how long it will take to do what I need to do. You guys rock though. Thanks for sharing so much joy with me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sideshow acceptance and other dance moves

***

AS I EMBRACE MY JAGGED EDGES, a novelette of mine, was picked up by Sideshow Press! Yay! It will be released digitally as well as in a Limited (25) hardcover edition (which will also feature a bonus story.) A big thank you to Sam W. Anderson for suggesting I send something their way! I’m stoked. I love the passion and quality that goes into the Sideshow line and Tom Moran has been an absolute pleasure to deal with. Plus this will be my first hardcover release!

Here’s a teaser for the story:

AS I EMBRACE MY JAGGED EDGES is a Horror/Dark Fantasy story about Boaz—a gay Jewish boy whose family protects a bronze shard of Solomon’s Temple from people who wish to possess it and use its magick to procure wisdom and power over demons. After his uncle Jack is murdered darkness crouches at their doorstep. Torn with rage at God for letting it happen, and doubting he’ll ever be a normal man worthy of love and hope, Boaz faces his fears and questions, determined to make a stand against the coming chaos.

Interesting reads this week:


Tom Piccirilli’s SHADOW SEASON. This is a gut wrenching tale.

Erik William’s THE REVEREND’S POWDER. Another great story from Erik. The pace is kicking, the plot tight, and the character’s relatable. I see a bright future for this guy. Also features some great artwork by Tom Moran and Jacob Parmentier.

Horror Library Vol. 4: I had a hand in selecting stories for this and it is one badass anthology. With work by Lee Thomas, Bentley Little, Nate Kenyon, Hank Schwaeble, Kim Despins, Erik Williams, Brian Knight, and a ton of other super talented folks.

Recent purchases:

The Bag and The Crow tee for Kara. I have one and look so good in mine that I thought she needed one too so we’re not unbalanced. :D You should get one too. Dress your lady up in something sinister and sexy. It’s good for ‘em!

Bull Spec #3- These guys are high quality. And I have a hard time turning away from anything featuring work by Lavie Tidhar.

Dark Discoveries subscriptions. They’re offering a great deal right now that is irresistible. They’ve teamed up with Bad Moon Books and if you buy a year’s subscription (29.99) you get a free BMB book. Kickass.

Tim Lebbons THE THIEF OF BROKEN TOYS (Chizine Publications)

Mark Allan Gunnells story from Darkside Digital: A fun tale based on a Bruce Springsteen song. Mark also has a free story up at Sideshow Press’s website: here.

The Separation by Ronald Malfi: the first book in Delirium’s new novella series. I love their books and have high expectations.

Shock Totem 3 is coming soon too. Here’s a glimpse at their fantastic cover: Yowzers! Can’t wait to read this issue.

I have a number of things in the works. Loving the process. Thanks for spending some more time with me and my obsession.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Eat Your Wheaties Before Starting a Knife Fight…

***Been a great time creating a mythos that ties together the Red Piccirilli trilogy I’m writing and my Reckoning and Redemption novels. It’s been a blast actually and I see these characters popping up in short stories and novellas too. For some reason they speak to me. Does it come from reading some of my favorite writers who have built worlds within worlds, writers like Gary Braunbeck and John Connolly? I think partly. And I think part of it is there is much to mine from certain storylines and certain characters. When I wrote the original draft of “Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children” I had no idea it was going to branch out and infect other stories, other books, but it has, and I love it. I’ve had a hard time writing short stories because the arc feels so fast, and even at novel length it is still only a smidgen of a characters life. Yeah, I can do this. I can go for a multiple book arc spanning a dozen characters lives because I want to, because it excites me.

What about your writing excites you? Have you thought about it? If so, have you used it?

I’m nearing the end of a very dark book (Within This Garden Weeping) that features Red Piccirilli thrown back and forth between this world and Glory on the Green. He has things he’s overcome, both internal and external, and he wears pride and disgrace beautifully. I hurt for him because the journeys he’s been through have scarred him, but they’ve also made him grow. Nearing the climax of the book I can say, quite firmly, that he is no longer the boy he is in "Before Leonora Wakes." It’s sad to see a child stripped of their innocence though, when all around them adults trundle past in denial, busy, exhausted, pretending they’re happy. Like my novella “Iron Butterflies Rust” I wrote recently (and still need to edit—damn blasted time!) I feel like I’m refining my voice, that it is clearer, more intense, and yet more subtle, and touching in places than I could have executed four months ago. I think I’m learning a lot from my buddies Shaun Ryan, and Kevin Wallis, and my sweet lady Kara. And I’m probably learning some stuff on my own, all of these experiments I’ve subjected myself to finally paying off. Yay!

And I rewrote (for the sixth time, and yeah, I’m really happy with it this time) a long story called “As I Embrace My Jagged Edges” and subbed it to Burning Effigy Press for chapbook consideration. They kick major ass, and if you haven’t heard of them, buy Lee Thomas’s chapbook The Black Sun Set and tell me it’s not outstanding all across the board.

I also subbed a story to the CaféDoom/Shock Totem contest ! It’s a strange story about the bonds of love, about giving up, and about being a man even after life steals your testicles (metaphorically, of course.) Wish me luck!

Also of note:

Mercedes M. Yardley, this fine lass with a silver voice just made for reading her work, was on The Word Count Podcast and it will make you smile and nod your head. Give her a listen and let her know she did a fantastic job. She’s in about the ten minute mark. (Also Aaron Polson, another writer I respect, does a reading on there as well. Give him a nod. Tell him how well he did too.)

My buddy Steve Lowe has a crooked book coming out called "Muscle Memory." He writes lean and mean, and well worth the money. The books will officially release at BizarroCon on Nov. 13(ish) during the annual convention of the weird in Portland(ish), OR.

I hope that everyone is doing great, giving it their all, taking pride in what they do and what makes them unique. Smile, say cheese, because life is constantly taking your picture.

Friday, October 8, 2010

There's a river full of bodyparts lodged in my frontal lobe

*I took a week off FB and some other online places and got a lot of work done. I completed a decent first draft of a new story for the CafeDoom/Shock Totem contest and will enter as soon as the story is tightened up! I plan on wowing them, but a lot of people might hate it. I like to take risks. Also pounding this new novel, Within This Garden Weeping, into the ground before it can do so to me (actually, I don't think it's going to be a novel. I think it's going to be a longish novella, and I also think I'm going to send it out after editing and try to sell it because I haven't been very active with trying to sell longer work. That's right. I suck.)
I have another Dark Sci-fi story that needs tending but I think there's too much sex and crying, but what can you do? Really, what can you do? I say, "Give the characters what they want." :P

Reading "Jack Cady's "Street, which is an amazing book. I'm copying it out by hand, which is a slow process but I feel like I'm learning and internalizing a lot. That man could write!

Also reading Haunted Legends (edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas) and have yet to be disappointed--all stories being very good and some of them outstanding. Well worth the money.

Since I took a week off I'm extending the deadline for The Scary Talent Show until Oct. 15th! We have some great entries so far but it never hurts to have more! Send your short story (up to 3k), poem, photo, video of you dancing or singing, poem, whatever you want in, as long as it's entertaining to more than just your imaginary friends, and you'll be in the running to win a one-year subscription to Dark Discoveries, a kickin' tee from The Bag and The Crow, or a sexy novella from Tasmaniac Publications. All fine prizes. All things I own too, and I have very good taste.
On Oct. 16th those entered people can cast their votes for their favorite at the new Scary Sad Stories blog :D The winner will be announced on Halloween! One entry per person to: scarysadstories (at) yahoo.com

My story, Daddy Screamed With Us, is also on the bestseller list again at Horror Mall! And it's been recommended for a Stoker Award a few times! Not very exciting for you if you don't like me, but very exciting for me and people who do like me! If you haven't read it, it's a good way to sample my fiction for a cheap price (a buck forty-nine).

I'm pretty happy with what I've been splaying on the page this past month or two and can't wait for people to read it. There is a maturity, perhaps, that was only hinted at before. Of course, I could be full of shit. But I don't think I am. :P

Treat yourselves and those you love well! (<--Yeah, I'm bossy, but it's good for you.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I have no idea what I'm talking about...

*** but someone did ask me what I thought about writing short stories, my take on it. And here it is. These things help me. If they don't help you that's not my problem. :P


#1: Find the Meaning of every story, even if what you feel you’re writing is drivel, because something is trying to get out, be understood, and you owe it to yourself and the story to uncover/discover that meaning, to understand it, and display it to the reader and let them agree or disagree.

#2: Write as clean as possible on every first draft. Saves time later to actually live.

#3: Expose as many of your character's weaknesses as you do his strengths.

#4: Put your ego to the side when creating. It only gets in the way. In fact, put it aside in general, it gets in the way of everyone.

#5: Let your imagination run wild. Trust that it and your subconscious will develop something wondrous and somewhat original. Something you can be proud of because it’s truly yours.

#6: Find three good people who can read your work and give you honesty without much back patting. The more they point out what you’re doing wrong, the faster you can absorb it and improve.

#7: Once in a while sit down and copy one of your favorite short stories, by hand, in a notepad. Just don’t try to sell it. (the story. You can sell the notepad.)

#8: Read more non-fiction about history, autobiographies, music, hobbies, special interest, psychology, religion, pretty much anything. There are hidden treasures all around you that you can use in your work, things that will pop up naturally in a story because they’re right, they fit. Go on. Don’t be scared.

#9: Give as much as you get. No one likes a taker who takes, takes, takes. Thank people. Give back.

#10: Experiment outside your genre (if you write only Horror, write something else for a bit. Write a Romance short, a Sci-fi short, a Fantasy short.) and read widely. Very widely. Being narrow minded only makes your stories narrow minded. By opening up to other ways of thinking and by pushing your boundaries you can have a subway, a gigantic tunnel that attracts more people. Then you can squash them with your genius. But be humble about it.


That's my drivel. Use what you can. Don't sue me if it gives you a headache or gives you cancer.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bloodbaths, Blessings, and the Great Inferno

The last few weeks have been wonderful and testing, they've brought me joy even as they've flayed me. I don't think it's enough to just soul-search. I find myself peeling back my flesh and inspecting the bad patterns I have, the way I self-sabotage, and slowly I'm learning to take responsibility for the misery I've caused others and myself. Luckily I have a wonderfully beautiful soul in my life who respects me and respects herself, a woman who has enough courage to dig through the layers of muck that have accumulated over both our hearts, and together we've begun to chip away, to understand the things that have driven us and the things that still haunt us.

She sees my best and worst yet still believes in me, still inspires me, gives and gives of her time and talent, showing me the side of humanity that has always given me hope. The selfless side. I'm grateful for her, have been for months as we've shared our greatest dreams and deepest fears, and I'm glad we're learning to understand each other (and ourselves) even if it's rarely easy.

She makes me smile.

Thank you, Kara. I adore all you've done to enrich my life. You make it look easy.

---

I had two sales recently.

#1 sold to Jason Sizemore's anthology The Zombie Feed. He was the first editor to ever give me detailed feedback and encourage me to keep at it a couple of years. THIS FINAL DECEMBER DAY is a story about the end of the world (obviously), about regret and love, how sometimes all we can do is cling to those we love, and that's okay, it's enough.

#2 sold to Shock Totem. Like the novella I recently finished and the novel I'm working on now, BENEATH THE WEEPING WILLOW came about as if I'd entered a trance while writing, climbed inside myself and torn down some walls. It's beautiful, sad, and powerful. It has more of my heart in it than any short I'd written before. I'm honored beyond words that ST accepted it.

---

Kevin Wallis, a fine writer and editor for Liquid Imagination, just released his collection through Bards and Sages. Here's what Gary Braunbeck said about it:

"An impressive, often unnerving, and always gutsy collection, Beneath the Surface of Things easily marks Kevin Wallis as a writer to Beware of with such stories as Redemption Song and No Monsters Came That Night. Every story showcases Wallis' determination to break through the so-called boundaries of dark fiction and explore disturbing and sometimes even eye-opening new worlds, some without, but most within. You owe it to yourself to look Beneath the Surface of Things."

Cate Gardner also has a wonderful collection up for pre-order and shipping soon. You can buy it here: Strange men in pinstripe suits

---

And lastly... time is counting down for the close of The Scary Talent Show (Oct. 7th) See the previous post for your chance to win a one-year subscription to Dark Discoveries, a groovy tee-shirt from The Bag and The Crow, or a sexy novella from the ever popular Tasmaniac Publications. :D

Respect yourselves.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Scary Talent Show!

***The Scary Talent Show***

All right! Time for someone to win something! I hope it's me! Hehe. Just kidding. Here's how it works. The contest is open now and the time for entries ends on Oct. 7th. You can send in any kind of entry: a video of you singing, playing music, reading poetry, or write a poem, or piece of flash fiction, or something you've drawn (but if you draw well, know this... I will envy and hate you. :O

1 entry per person so make it your best! Send entries to: scarysadstories@yahoo.com

Me and Kara will pick the top 10 (or 20 if we get a lot of entries). We'll post those entries here (on my discussions page of the fan site:Contest fanny page for vote thing
and then... By Oct. 10th, YOU can view them and cast your vote for anyone but your own work! The power is in your hands. Entertain! We'll award the winners on Halloween!

Prizes:

1st Place: A One-year subscription to Dark Discoveries (or another mag if you're already subscribed to DD. If you are, great! They rock!)

2nd Place: An awesome Tee from The Bag and The Crow! Mine makes me look edgy! You want to look edgy too, don'tcha?

3rd Place: An awesomely random book, but I can tell you this: It will be from the super cool Tasmaniac Publications. I've got a ton of their books and they're dyn-o-mite. :)


So, again... enter and entertain. Make us laugh or cry. Send entries to:

scarysadstories@yahoo.com

Thanks! And good luck!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Strange Award, Context Strutting, People Bashing

***
It’s been a great week. Had four days off work and got a bunch of writing and critting done. :D
My novella is cooling down now, and soon I’ll start editing. I’m excited because it IS the best thing I’ve written and I think it has more heart at 160 pgs than my last few novels have. And my new short turned out just the way I wanted it too, which is always nice. It was one of those that kinda wrote itself. Yay! My heart tells me it is much too dark for the anthology I wrote it for, so I think I’ll have to send it somewhere else.

Kara helped me setup a FB fanpage and we’re talking about running a contest soon. Fun! And if you like my work you can leave me some love, here: I think Lee is Hot and I wish he’d buy me a scarf


I will be attending my first convention this year! Context in Columbus, Ohio at the end of the month. I’m taking some special goodies to give away. :D

I also started using Scribd, which I’ve had for a while but didn’t mess around with because I heard it gives you herpes. I’m posting the first half of most of my work that is out now, or that will soon be released. It’s pretty neat. Take a read, let me know what you think! Thanks!
A story has to start before it can end

Also, I was interviewed! This time I got to answer questions! How exciting! It was a lot of fun, and a big thank you to AJ Brown for asking! He’s interviewed Jeff Strand for Dark Recesses, works with Horror Library and several other places, and he’s a damn good writer too. We talked about my crazy dance skills, a fun project I’m working on with Kara, and the secrets to having 18 children and still keeping your sanity. You can read the interview as soon as it’s posted.

Kara McElhinny gave me a strange award along with some other people. Thanks, Kara! Now I get to pass it on by awarding seven other people for their strangeness in the blogosphere. Fun! (I copied all of this stuff below off her blog because I was too lazy to write my own. Don’t tell…)



The 'Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits' award is given to only the strangest of folk, and as the recipient of such you are deemed very strange indeed. Congratulations. Now you must go forth and celebrate the strangeness of friends (and strangers - strangers are always allowed) by nominating blogs run by strange folk. *Beware, some people don't like you to refer to them as strange…Try to avoid them if possible.

Note that Cate Gardner's short story collection 'Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits' is forthcoming this October from the fine folks at Strange Publications.

Some rules:
1. Add the logo of the award to your blog post.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (don't mess with strange people).
3. Nominate seven other blogs telling us why you think the recipient is strange enough to deserve the award.
4. Leave a message for those nominated on their blogs.
5. And, if you email catephoenix(at)gmail(dot)com and tell her you've received the award for your strangeness, she'll enter you in the biggest kick-ass Strange Men competition ever. Details over at strangemeninpinstripesuits.com (click on the award link on the home page)

So them be the rules behind this strange contest. Do check out her link as there are some cool prizes available.

And so I bequeath this award, and all the accompanying strangeness, to the following people who are among the most strange that I know (and adore like crazykins)... (<--Those are not my words. Hehe.)

1. Shaun Ryan’s blog
is new. Give it a read and tell me this guy is not one strange and deep cat! I learn tons from him and it’s great to see he’s sharing his thoughts with the masses now!
2. Sam W. Anderson’s blog
It is rumored that Sam is actually from the planet Xadar 6.317652. That’s plenty weird. And he has a midget throwing/lizard fetish. *
3. John Mantooth’s blog
John seems like a ‘normal’ guy. That makes him very strange to me.
4. Ben Eads blog
Ben catapults his career forward via the mafia and solid writing. What makes him strange though is his urge to dance drunkenly with mannequins.
5. AJ Brown’s blog
AJ is strange because he passed up the chance to be a Victoria Secret Supermodel! Do you know how much money those people make?!?!
6. Kevin Wallis’s blog
Sure, Kevin just looks strange, but I’m sure he has other odd qualities too. :P
7. Ken Wood’s blog
Hell, just look at the title of his blog. One weird fella. :D Entertaining too.

All of these guys are damn fine writers. I would have picked a woman but I know M, Kara, Nat, and some of the other kickass ladies were already picked for this right away.

So, yep. Life is fun. Enjoy yourselves! Read some fiction! Live!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A ramble on people and love and the way back home

***
Howdy! God, I feel horrible. I thought I'd win the lotto by now and be able to give writing up for warm beaches (<--yeah, that's supposed to be 'beaches' not another word) and lotsa drinks. I guess I have to keep plugging away. :D

I'm thinking about life. A very awesome lady (I'd have her baby) has been reminding me of things I'd once known and forgotten. Things from childhood, things that have shaped me into this devilishly rogue warrior. (<-- Not really what I am, but it sounds better than the truth. My life is simple: I work, I read, I write. I love those who deserve it. I enjoy myself. I walk a lot at night because I'm restless sometimes or I'm enjoying someone special's conversation and I'm too happy to stay trapped inside my home.)

So she has me thinking, and it's so easy to lose sight of who we are when we're looking at who we want to be.

I want to be a horror writer, but I love so many genres, and I think the struggle to only be one thing, one type of writer, creates a lot of tension (in me at least.) I don't fit into a box very well. I want to experiment. I want to write whatever story, in whatever genre the characters point me to. I feel like I always let that happen in the heat of composition, but there is still an internal critic (and he's a dick) who tells me I'm steering away from the beaten path. He needs to shut up and just let the story go where it's meant to.

I've been reliving the chaos of certain things. Some people just don't let go and move on (these are the obsessive, needy people who suck the life from everyone around them. They create drama. They feed off other people's misery and think it makes them stronger when it only shows how needy and weak they really are. It sucks there are other writers like that, let alone people in general).

Other people are too nice and keep getting beaten down (these are the good ones who take a flogging for their kindness and heart. It irritates me to see them getting taken advantage of). I think people should stand up for themselves--and if they're your friend and they can't do it on their own--you should stand up for them and with them. Our characters do it. Why shouldn't we?

None of this is making much sense is it? I just need to ramble. No one even needs to read (except for maybe a few people.)

My life is a blessed one. I have a great family and great friends and the start of something beautiful in the three most important parts of my existence (writing, work, and a relationship.)I don't feel like I deserve any of it because I've wasted away so much time--being stupid, or drunk, or stupid drunk--when I was younger. I won't waste anymore time. This past year has been a "Get serious" year mixed with a "Look at all the great things in your life and appreciate it year!"

I've learned a ton thanks to a lot of people both good and bad.

Someone posted a link recently on Ray Bradbury. And he's one of my favorite writers. The whole point of his life was based on one simple thing. Love... not the 'I scratch your back, we exchange favors,' business end of it, but the selfless love that comes with opening yourself up to the people that matter, the ones you can trust, the ones who help you be selfless and just be. So many things hold us back (ourselves and our drive for respect, the perfect job, the right marriage, the big book deal)from just loving the little things that really bring the greatest joy: honesty with someone we cannot get enough of; a paragraph that embodies everything we stand for or everything we don't; the smile of someone who has held our hand when no one else would; the laughter that comes when the hard times have passed and we can see things clearly, when we're stronger because of the struggle--because we endured it and learned from it and can share it with someone else when they need a shoulder to lean on or the truth: that they matter. To Us.

Love. That's what it's about. Blazing and bright, hard and soft, admiration of their actions and trust of their words, all pretense cast off, all expectations and demands behind us where they can't tarnish what is such a wonderful experience if we'd just let it breathe. There is beauty all around us, that's true. But there is so much more inside if we can only scrape away the gunk from so many broken hearts and so many disappointments, and let love and truth shine.

Love. I don't think everyone deserves it, but everyone deserves the chance for it. If they can't appreciate it, screw 'em. Time is precious. I'm grateful for all the love in my life. I have more than I ever expected and more than I know how to handle. I adore all the important people in my life who do so much with every little gesture. Those people amaze me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Danger and Sex are Better than Being Bored

*****
Life is great. A lot going on in my world between work, relationships, and writing/reading. Sometimes I feel like dancing and other times like standing on my head, but neither one mixes well while on the roof of a moving car.

I'm super stoked to have a story accepted by Tasmaniac Publications! My story, "A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky," is in there with A LOT of talented folks, and I even heard one of my heroes is gonna be in it! Upon release (of the book, not your prison sentence) buy it quickly because they're a limited edition collectible! Steve Clark is awesome too. I had an interview with him a while back and he's always passionate and entertaining. A good man.

The blog contest has ended! Sam W. Anderson gave away a limited-edition hardcover of his fantastic collection "Postcards from Purgatory" to Jassen Bailey! Congrats to Jassen! And a big thank you to everyone who entered! You're all peaches and made me laugh. :)

I also have a story "When Crows Sing Sweetly Bitter Music" up at The Bag and The Crow! Two other kickass writers have free stories on there as well. Check out Sheldon Higdon's tale of retribution, "A Murder of Crows," and Wrath James White's brutal "Carrion." After being entertained check out the awesome tee shirts they sell too. They're great quality and they make people look at your chest alot. :)

Shock Totem's second issue is now available! I have to order it this week. Some great writer's in there and the first issue was outstanding. And the people behind the scenes are just the coolest. Why not buy both issues? You're missing out if you don't. -->Issue 2 Here.<--

Recent kickass reads include: 1. Lee Thomas's chapbook "The Black Sun Set." A haunting story, rich with emotion and a blistering pace. 2. Tom Piccirilli's "The Last Deep Breath." It just crackles. Includes some amazing artwork from the super-talented Daniele Serra, and a bonus short!

Presently reading Greg Gifune's "Long After Dark."

My silly buddy, K.M. McElhinny, has a poem and a story that won third place in a contest. Congrats to her! Poem: "Faeries aren't the same without wings." And story: "The Light and Shadows of Independence."

My hero, Tom Piccirilli, recently won a Thriller Award. Very cool! You can read about it on his blog: Pic's Blog.

I think it's time for a coffee and some cotton candy and a little calliopes music.

If you're a writer... write on, craft the stories only you can tell!

If you're a reader... Share your favorite's with your friends, share the emotions and stories.

If you're both... well, you're extra special.

Stay true to yourselves. No one else will do it for you.

***

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Win an awesome book!

Sam W. Anderson is offering a hardcover of his limited-edition collection "Postcards from Purgatory" to the winner. All you have to do is read Sam's interview on my blog (It's easy, it was the last post since I've been busy) and leave your sense of humor in the comments. The one Sam deems the funniest response to his interview wins!

We need ten contestants. Two people have entered and they said your mom is fat and ugly and there was no way in hell you can top them! (I made that up. They said they like your mom.)

So, read the interview, bring the humor, and make Sam laugh so he can send you the damn book. It's awesome! (I've got a copy.)

Thanks!

Lee

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Interview: Sam W. Anderson

* This was my first Sideshow Press book, and the first thing I’ve read by the incredibly talented Sam W. Anderson. Sideshow did an amazing job in construction. This book is solid and beautiful with lots of wicked artwork by Tom Moran. Making it extra special is this book is a limited edition: only 100 softcovers and 40 hardcovers. I’m a sucker for picking up something that not everyone can have. Call me Mr. Vain.

There was a period of warming up to the tales, and a friend of mine also read it at the same time, and drew the same conclusion: This book sucks you in. And it gets better the deeper you sink your teeth into the marrow. Sam is a truly gifted writer with imagination that is as wide and deep as a hooker’s selfishness.

Lee: Thanks for joining us, Sam! It’s a treat!

Sam W. Anderson: Thank you, Mr. Vain. I bet you think this interview is about you, don’t you, don’t you.

Lee: Some of my favorite stories in the collection were: “What I know,” “Amongst the Wailing Winds,” “Degrees of Persuasion,” “In Shadow,” and the rest of the stories in the second half of the collection are all top-notch. Is it possible you have a few of your own favorites? Or do you love all of your children equally?

Sam W. Anderson: Hell, I don’t even love my real children equally… I put them through certain tests every day, and whoever does the best gets my affection. The other, I ridicule publically.

But my stories, well, that’s important stuff!

Seriously though, all my stories mean something to me – where I was at a time; what struck me as important.

Many stories in the collection mark a change for my writing. Sifting Through the Ashes of His Gutted Being was a huge story in my development. In Shadow was where I found my voice – what I wanted to say as a writer.

Surprising, to me anyway, is you prefer the later stories in the book, while I think the beginning stories are my best representation. If Mama Ain’t Happy, well, that’s where I felt like a writer for the first time ever. I love the fact that there’s a stupid crazy story that’s juxtaposed with a serious theme and has something to say.

And, I love the reaction Tossing Butch, Saving Theodore gets. It’s the one story you tell people about, and they say “I have to read that!”

Lee: How did you create such unique characters? A troubled childhood? Did you see past the façade and see the freaks we all are just beneath the surface? (Too many of these characters scare me, for when I hold them to the mirror, I see all of us at our most vulnerable and our worst.)

Sam W. Anderson: I’m just gifted…what can I say?

Honestly, writing is characters. I just play the “What if/How’d they get here” game. I come up with a situation, figure out what type of person would be there and then work backwards. I don’t intend to dismiss the question, because I spend hours thinking about this. I drive a lot. I have kids…I pretend to talk to them and I really think about who I’m writing about. But, seriously, how much can you act like you care about Pokemon anyway?

Lee: How did the Money Run world come about?

Sam W. Anderson: Well, hundreds of thousands of years ago, there was this event that scientist called “The Big Bang.”

Oh, wait, that’s not what you mean.

On the first day, there was light, and it was good.

Shit.

TMR was kind of an evolution. I wanted to write about a strong character, but not be cliché. So, I started with all the clichés and then worked backwards. A badass who could crush anybody…seven foot, three-hundred pounds of badass named Mack West. Again, start with character.

But how do you not make him cliché? A skirt might help, right? And then you have to explain the skirt, which means a tail (for me anyway) and, naturally, that’s followed by a world where this can happen.

Then, I had to deal with a good friend of mine, the excellent writer John Mantooth, who was absolutely livid I was writing stories about lizard people. So, I quit writing about those particular characters and started writing about the setting, which has become somewhat of a character itself.

It’s been a fantastic arena to explore the themes that interest me. And I get curse a lot…I fucking like to curse.

Lee: What common threads/themes run through this collection, things you’ve learned as a man, or still question as a fragile child, that saturate your work?

Sam W. Anderson: Dude, you’re getting way too deep for me here.

I think the common thread among my work is the common thread among all writing when you boil it down. It’s about identity. Identity and midget tossing.

I’m fascinated about the gossip industry in America. Not the gossip itself, but the fact that a business empire can be built around it. What is the most profitable newspaper in America? The Wall Street Journal? The USA Today? The NY Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times? Fuck no…it’s the National Enquirer. It has been since long before the downturn of the print press.

Why do we care so much about this trash? It’s because we want to think we’re good people. We judge others to say “at least I’m not that bad.” But we most all are. We all are capable of great things and horrific things, sometimes in the same day, but which act defines us? That’s what makes me write.

Lee: Do you outline? Or write to surprise yourself? (So you know, my money is on surprising yourself and your readers)

Sam W. Anderson: While I never write a formal outline, I also only have one rule. I don’t outline or take notes or anything that a sane writer would do when I write a Money Run story. It means they take longer, but I need that discovery to make them have the edge I hope they have.

But other stories, I’ll take copious notes. I find if I actually try to do something like a formal outline, well, then that’s time I should be writing. Notes, detailed notes, yes. Outlines – depends on the project.

Lee: What is in the works now?

Sam W. Anderson: I’ve turned in my new project for Sideshow Press – 13,000 word novelette entitled The Unusual Events of a Saturday Afternoon at Big K’s Truck Stop and Fine Dining Emporium –A Money Run Tale. Of course, the title is like seventy five percent of the word count.

Now, I’m back to the novel that I deserted to write the novelette. It’s another Money Run story, and it’s kind of exciting to re-experience the events again. Of course, it’s depressing as hell to realize how much I’d forgotten about it.

Lee: Who are some writers’ people should be reading? Who has influenced you? Enlighten us, please…

Sam W. Anderson: I regret how little I get to read now. My wife is a social worker, so she often works late, and I guess we have some really short people that live at our house that I’m supposed to do stuff about…like feed them, and apparently yell at them. They seem to like for me to yell at them because they make me do it all the time.

But this is a question that I could spend all day talking about. Influences, I mean, not yelling at the kids.

I still mostly read short stories – magazines, anthologies and collections. Recently read John Langan’s Mr. Gaunt collection. Not all my cup o’ tea, but I see why he’s the new “it” kid. Along the same lines, Paul Tremblay is a really talented dude. I don’t always love his work, but when he’s right, he’s as good as it gets.

My favorite genre writer is Thomas Tessier. I went to Borderlands Boot Camp in 2006 for one reason: to meet Thomas Tessier. He generously provided the intro to my collection, so I guess it worked out, especially considering how rarely he does that.

As for short stories, I have a “Big Five.” They are: Matheson, Bradbury, Beaumont, Ellison and Steve Tem. I’ll buy most any anthology with these writers, and I’ll read their stories first all the time. I think if you read these writers and my work, it’s pretty easy to see how I’ve been influenced by them. Not so much technique-wise, because I’m nowhere near their class, but in the types of stories I write.

I think Palianiuk and John Irving are a huge influences on me. Quirky characters that you should hate, but still pull for – that’s right up my alley.

But for the people who most influence my writing, there’s six. Melanie Tem is my mentor…yes, the Melanie that’s married to the aforementioned Steve Tem. The other five are the members of my writing group, Snutch Labs: Kim Despins, Kurt Dinan, John Mantooth, Petra Miller and Erik Williams. Snutch all have unique personalities and writing styles, and what we bring is a chance to write more well-rounded stories. I’d never look at a story like Petra would, or Kim or Erik…but their insight makes me rethink things. By far, this group has been the most important thing in my writing life.

Lee: Where else can we read your fiction?

Sam W. Anderson: Well, I could post my resume.

The collection took most all of my stories. At least the ones I deem good enough to share. I actually misread an email from the publisher asking me what percentage of the stories were original, and like, well…Yeah, I had to add a bunch of originals. I suck.

However, I do have the chapbook (The Unusual Events of a Saturday Afternoon at Big K’s Truck Stop and Fine Dining Emporium – A Money Run Tale). Sideshow Press should be releasing this in the fall. It’ll be released in tandem with Ray Garton’s chapbook.

I also have a short story coming out in the HWA anthology, Blood Lite II, Overbite, around Halloween. The story is titled “Son of…a Bitch.” I had to water it down some for the publisher after it’d been accepted by the editor, but I think it’s still a very entertaining story. Someday, though…someday. That original version will see the light of day.

Lee: Thanks so much for your time, Sam! Any closing thoughts?

Sam W. Anderson: I’ve joked a lot about my kids, and just wanted to say that I love them more than life itself. I think they’re the greatest, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything less than fair market value.

And I leave you the eternal life lessons courtesy of Navin R. Johnson:

1 – Lord loves a working man.

2 – Don’t trust whitey.

3 – If you get “it,” see a doctor and get rid of it.

Thanks for your time, Lee.

Lee: My pleasure, Sam!

Sam's Blog

Sideshow Press

Friday, May 21, 2010

A little news from an idiot

Been a busy bee so I’ve slacked off on the blog because other things have taken precedence—mostly regular work. And the little bit of reading and writing I can squeeze in lately.

Recently read:

Erik William’s “Blood Spring” which was a cool little novella from Bad Moon Books, though I wish it would have been a little longer because I really liked the sheriff and wished I’d learned a little more about the bad guys. There is a lot of potential here and I think Erik is definitely a writer you should watch.

Sam W. Anderson’s “Postcards from Purgatory” was an excellent collection of 16 stories from the creepingly subtle to the downright wild. A stunning mix of horror. I hope he writes a novel.

Recent purchases:
I picked up two awesome books from Gauntlet. A signed limited Ray Bradbury novella (with lots of extra goodies) called “Somewhere a Band is Playing.” As well as signed limited Jack Ketchum: “Only Child (Stranglehold)” which is beautiful and I’m looking forward to because I haven’t read any Bradbury or Ketchum in a while and they’re two of my favorites.

My buddy who promised me a million dollars when he’s rich, the sexy beast Ben Eads, has a story called “Stray” coming out in Shroud issue 11. It’s a fine tale. A disturbing monstrosity. Pick it up.

And the great magazine Shock Totem has their second issue coming out soon. I’m sure it’s going to be as great as the first issue. Maybe even better! Visit Ken Wood’s blog to see the cover here: Sexy.

I had some good news lately in that I heard my story “Daddy Screamed With Us” was recommended for a Stoker-award in the short fiction category. Woot! Totally unexpected, but very much pleased. It was also the #3 bestseller in Digital on Horror Mall for the month of April. Pretty cool. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy!

My story “Crawl” is live on the great podcast Pseudopod. Alasdair did a fantastic intro and outro. And Dave Thompson did an excellent job reading it. Give it a listen and if you’re a long time fan of Pseudopod and haven’t thrown money in their tip jar, feel free to. They’d love it. Hell, they deserve it.

My story “At Least the Dead” is also live at Dark Recesses. I’ve had some people say some great things about it. I was surprised there too, because to be honest, it’s a weird effing story. But thanks to all who have taken time from their busy lives and shared it with me. You rock!

I’m going to have an upcoming interview with Sam W. Anderson soon. Like I said, his collection is outstanding. He’s also a pretty funny guy and he’s going to make you spit milk out your nose. And if you haven’t read my previous post—an interview with Steve Clark, the god of Tasmaniac Publications —you should. Because Steve is one cool cat.

I hope everyone is getting some sunshine and smiling. Be good to yourselves!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Interview: Steve Clark/Tasmaniac Publications

***Steve Clark is an awesome dude—witty, and funny, and kind—as well as a great publisher. Tasmaniac’s limited edition novellas are beautiful and the stories gripping. I first stumbled onto them when Steve released Tom Piccirilli’s The Nobody and Mr. Clark hooked me up with a special deal (I know, I’m lucky.) Since then we’ve exchanged a lot of emails and I signed up to receive #12 of each book he puts together. They are a steal and some of my favorites to curl up with.

LT: When did you realize you wanted to publish some of the best authors in the business?

SC: I’d been wondering what it would be like to be a small press publisher ever since I started collecting small press titles some ten years ago, thinking it must be a wonderful endeavor to commission a piece from an author you admire, have it illustrated, bound and released to the public in the hope that they appreciate their talent too. The beginning of 2007 became a turning point, when I realized the only thing stopping me living out this dream was myself. Life’s too short to dwell and ponder so I went for it!

LT: What was your first title?

SC:
That would be Paul Kane’s THE LAZARUS CONDITION. A very different take on the zombie theme that was unlike anything I’d read before. I was asked to review Paul’s SIGNS OF LIFE, a year before Tasmaniac was established, and loved it. I was also a sub-editor on DARK ANIMUS issue 10/11 and pushed for Paul to offer a story, he came back with DIG THIS, and the rest is history.

THE LAZARUS CONDITION was such a special project. Wonderful illustrations from Dion Hammill with an introduction from US director Mick Garris (The Stand, The Shining). Paul also wrote the bonus short story, DEAD TIME, which later became adapted by Steve (30 Days of Night) Niles as NEW YEAR’S DAY, an episode for the US series FEAR ITSELF. With blurbs from Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon and Christopher Golden I just couldn’t of asked for a better launch.


LT: How long have you been involved in this nitty gritty biz?

SC: Woops! Kinda answered this in question one but yeah, 2007 was when I put my serious head on and pulled my finger out.

LT: What titles/authors can we look forward to in the future?

SC: What? And give away all the surprises in one hit! 
Next up is Tom Piccirilli’s THE LAST DEEP BREATH, our second Pic release following THE NOBODY. If you like fiction to grab a hold of you and threaten a swift kick to the gut then give this man a try, his noirellas take some beating.

We have our second FESTIVE FEAR anthology due out Christmas along withBrett McBean’s CONCRETE JUNGLE – the first of three novellas based on Brett’s Jungle mythos. There are going to be a couple of guest writers (one established, one new blood) offering their own take on this apocalyptic vision with each release. I’ve recently seen the cover from Steve Crisp (renowned for his UK Headline / Laymon series) and it’s excellent. Steve will be doing all three covers with Keith Minnion providing all the internal illustrations.
Next year will see our first all-hard cover release, BONE MARROW STEW by Tim Curran. A massive collection of Tim’s work heavily illustrated throughout by Keith Minnion. Beyond that my lips are sealed!


LT: Who’d win in a fight- You or Chuck Norris?

SC: The Good Guys Wear Black Norris would kick my ass quite easily thank you. The Walker, Texas Ranger Norris would also kick my ass with those terrible one-liners.

LT: Why did you specialize in novellas?

SC: Simply put, I personally enjoy reading them. Kinda nice to take a break, stretch out and read a substantial story in one sitting. I think for as long as Tasmaniac is around novellas will always be our main focus, but that isn’t to say there won’t be a different kind of project thrown into the mix from time to time.

LT: What interest do you have outside the publishing world?

SC: No prizes for guessing reading is high on the list! Always seem to have a book close at hand. Used to have a hobby farm and enjoyed breeding pigs (Large Whites) but my wife and I sold that property and bought a general store & post office, which pretty much takes up our time. My bulldog, Bubba, is getting on in years now and I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my constant companion. I enjoy watching cricket and the occasional box set on DVD. I also enjoy putting a smile on my wife’s face.


LT: What do you think of the growing digital formats? Will you incorporate any more e-packages like the great Simon Clark bundle you offer now (I bought and read it, and it’s a steal at 99 cents)

SC: Digital is here to stay, offering the publisher a cheaper option to distribute titles, whether they are novels, novellas or short stories. It also makes the decision easier for a publisher to give new authors some exposure, which is good for the genre. The Simon Clark e-package, THE CALLING & OTHER WRAITHS, was released in 2008 (before the digital hoopla boom) and was an exciting project for the author and myself. Incorporating the story, THE CALLING, being an accompanying piece to the novella, STONE COLD CALLING, a non- fiction piece where Simon offered writing tips to the budding scribe in us all and a short video shot by Simon, it was a fresh extension to the novella release.

Having said that I have no desire to release titles through the digital format. Better publishers than myself are doing it, and to be honest I don’t enjoy the experience. I much prefer a physical page to turn; as it stands I spend too many hours in front of the computer screen. A book in my hand equates to leisure time and is a million miles from anything work related.

LT: Real quick: Three favorite horror movies?

SC: Jaws - will always be my number one choice. Parents took me to the cinema to see this when I was seven and I’ve never been that scared since. I can watch it again and again.

Session 9 – because the last line freaked me out!

Angel Heart – great book, Mickey Rourke was at the top of his game, Robert De Niro, Courtney Pine on the soundtrack. Just perfect.

LT: What three books have moved you the most?

SC: Will There Really be a Morning? - Frances Farmer (autobiography)

Factotum – Charles Bukowski

Tooth Fairy – Graham Joyce


Touch Tasmaniac links: Killer Novellas at Tasmaniac


LT: Thanks a bunch for giving us your time, Steve!

SC: My pleasure Lee! Currently reading your novel NURSERY RHYMES 4 DEAD CHILDREN and it’s a wonderful page-turner. Keep it up!

LT: Hey, you’re not supposed to give me a shout out. LOL. Thanks again. You rock, man!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A big thank you...

*** Over the last couple years I have met so many people that have enriched my time here in this little pocket of my world, both in the fiction area and even more importantly, in life. Some are encourager's, others rain down sunshine, some push you, some lift you up. So, thanks to all these people for making my life better, some are old friends, and some are new, but most of all, they're all true...

From Editred: Shaun Jeffrey, Wanda Clevenger, Wendy Benton Parker, John, and Teri.

From Zoetrope: Shaun Ryan, Kevin Wallis, Linda Evans, Linda Manning, Sue Babcock, John Miller, AJ Brown, Steve Lowe, Bogey, Michael Louis Dixon, Boyd Harris, R.J. Cavender, Erik Williams, John Mantooth, Sam W. Anderson, Michael Pennington, Rick Taubold, Scott Gamboe, and Shanna Wynne.

From other places: Ben Eads, Grace Patri, Steve Clark, James Beach, Ken Wood, Kara McElhinny, Mercedes Yardley, Claire Nixon, David North-Martino, R. Thomas Riley, Shane Ryan Staley, Tom Piccirilli, Mark Allan Gunnells, Kaelen Patrick Burke, Bec Zugor, the CafeDoom team, Catherine Edmunds, Jason Sizemore, Maggie Jamison, Jassen Bailey, Greg Hall, Jezzy Wolfe, and Kristen Finley.

And those who've known me forever: My mom and dad, Dale and Corrie, my little brother, my dead bestfriend-Jeremy, and my best alive friend-Greg.

That is all. Count how many people add some depth to your life. I bet it's more than you expected.

***

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Upcoming Interview and more

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Within the next couple weeks I’ll have an interview with Steve Clark, owner and publisher of Tasmaniac Publications. They publish limited edition novellas by amazing writers like Gary Braunbeck, Tom Piccirilli, Steve Gerlach, and many others. Steve is a very nice guy and I’d marry him if I was a girl. But I’m not. Poor Steve.

In my writing life: I’m working on a novella and a short story that are so different from each other I have a hard time believing the same guy is writing them. I don’t know where the idea came from recently, but I’ve developed a little system that works well for me when it comes to each draft. But it’s a secret, so chew on that.

Recent purchases include:

“Blood Spring” by Erik Williams (Bad Moon Books); “The Girl in the Woods” by David Jack Bell (Delirium Books); “Saying Uncle” by Greg Gifune (Delirium Books); “Defining Moments” a short story collection by David Niall Wilson (Crossroad Press); “Cold Comforts” by Tom Piccirilli (Darkside Digital); “There’s No Place in a Sleeping World for a Wakeful Man” by Michael Louis Calvillo (Darkside Digital); “Midnight Blues” by Brian Knight (Darkside Digital); “Postcards from Purgatory” by Sam W. Anderson (Sideshow Press); “Dominion” by Greg Gifune (Delirium Books).

And here’s something I found recently that just astounds me. I love cool art. Daniele Serra’s paintings are so frickin’ cool.

Recently read/Still reading:

“Saying Uncle” by Greg Gifune—the guy is a freakin’ master. I’m halfway into it and it was hard to set the book down to write this.

“There’s No Place in a Sleeping World for a Wakeful Man” by Michael Louis Calvillo—which is a digital short from Darkside Digital. I didn’t like the first half of this story. In fact, I wanted to punch someone in the head. But the second half was excellent. I’ll buy more of his work to see what other styles he writes.

“Midnight Blues” by Brian Knight—this was great all the way through. It was like Stephen King’s “From a Buick 8” if Clive Barker had written it. Looking forward to more by Knight.

“Bust” by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr. A fast paced noir/crime book that had me laughing. Great stuff.

“Shroud: issue 2” A smattering of good fiction from the likes of Kealan Patrick Burke, Tom Piccirilli & Ken Bruen, Nate Kenyon and a woman I never heard of (Maura McHugh). I really loved her story. I actually rubbed the magazine all over my body. (Not really. But it was a great story and I love finding new authors so talented.)

Also read various non-fiction for research and fun.

Within a week or so my story “At Least the Dead” will be live on Dark Recesses! It was a fun story to write and only three people (outside of the editors at DR) have read it. It’s weird and freaky sticky.

For those who have never read my work, you can pick up my short “Daddy Screamed With Us” at Darkside Digital/Horror Mall. If you like it, send me a message. If you hate it, just send me nothing.

I hope everyone is doing great! Stay alive!
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Friday, April 16, 2010

New Story available and other slippery news

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My story, Daddy Screamed With Us is available through Darkside Digital/Horror Mall. It's an honor to have work among such great writers as Tom Piccirilli, Greg Gifune, David Niall Wilson, John Everson, etc. Shane Ryan Staley is a real pleasure to deal with as well. You can pick the tale up for $1.49. Let me know what you think!

Things of interest--

Apex is doing a neat little thing for their latest anthology, Dark Faith. Interviewing a new contributor every day. Very cool. Check 'em out. Dark Faith: Devotion

Recent Purchases--

David Niall Wilson's Joined at the Musefrom Darkside Digital. A big helping of co-authored stories with the likes of Brian Keene and others! Sweet.

Douglas Clegg's Neverland

Tom Piccirilli's Cold Comforts

Charles Beaumont: The Short life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man -- a documentary by director Jason V Brock and author William F Nolan. Featuring exclusive interviews with Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, John Shirley and many others.

Ken Bruen & Jason Starr's novel from Hard Case Crime: Bust

An anthology edited by Joe R. Lansdale: Dark at Heart

On the writing front. I'm getting a lot done. Feels great. Don't forget to read my interview with Shaun Jeffrey, author of The Kult and Deadfall, in the previous post.

Treat yourself well!

*****

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Interview: Shaun Jeffrey

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I first met Shaun Jeffrey while learning the craft of writing on Editred. He was well ahead of most people there, but he took the time to help others. I always appreciated and admired that about him. His work bears a sharp edge—a tough mixture of crime and Horror. When it comes to his characters: you like some things about them and hate other attributes, there isn’t a lot of gloss on them. They’re real. His plots are tightly woven, fast paced and entertaining. Shaun is a star on the rise. I highly suggest picking up his story collections and novels.

LT: Hey, Shaun. What’s the latest news in your career? Did I hear something about The Kult being optioned for the movies? How did it come about? Is it already in production?

SJ: Hi Lee. Yes, The Kult was optioned towards the end of last year by Gharial Productions. The deal was secured by the publisher. At the moment, the director, Kip Shelton is doing the casting, and shooting is scheduled for September. I’m hoping I will be able to make it out to the US to see some of the filming so that I can get a look behind the scenes.

LT: Having read your work I know how ferocious it is. How long have you been writing? How do you manage to build such believable characters and thrust them into such dire circumstances?

SJ: I’ve been writing on and off for about 20 years – nearly half my life! My early work was a lot more graphic, but I guess I’ve actually mellowed with age. As for building believable characters, I just try to give them human foibles. Of course I then want to make things difficult for them, creating conflict. Without conflict, there’s no story.

LT: What’s the premise (and what was your favorite part to write) of your new novel DeadFall? Where can we buy it and your other works?

SJ: Well the synopsis is as follows:

"Kill them or convert them – either way we win."

A team of mercenaries race to an abandoned mining village to rescue two children held hostage by rogue ex-soldiers. But the kidnappers are a ruse, the real threat more terrifying than any of them could imagine.

Aided by a couple of unsuspecting eco-warriors, mercenary team leader Amber Redgrave must fight to survive against foes that don’t sleep and don’t feel pain.

Now as the body count rises, so do the stakes, and when the dead won’t stay dead, there’s going to be hell to pay.
***
My favourite part to write is the end, as that means that I’ve managed to finish what I started. It’s easy to start writing something. The difficulty is continuing with it for the long haul. People can purchase my work from most online venues, and there’s purchasing details for all of them on my website: http://www.shaunjeffrey.com

LT: Is your collection Voyeurs of Death still free to read? (Side note: A few of those stories still haunt me!)

SJ: Yes, I made my previously published collection free to download to try to allow more people to sample my work without having to splash the cash. Anyone interested can check it out here:
Voyeurs of Death I think it gives a pretty good idea of my style and the kind of warped things that inhabit my imagination.

LT: Let’s backtrack a bit. When did you first know you wanted to write? Have you always had a fascination for the darker side of fiction/human nature?

SJ: I don’t think it was a conscious decision to start writing, but I guess one day I just started putting pen to paper or finger to key. And as I’d always read horror, then I suppose it was only natural that I wrote horror. Add to that the fact that I grew up in a house in a cemetery and it’s probably fair to deduce that I wasn’t going to be vying for shelf space with Barbara Cartland.

LT: What short stories do you have forthcoming? Where can we read them?

SJ: As I’ve been concentrating more on novels, the only short story I have forthcoming is In Darkness which is going to appear in Cemetery Dance.

LT: What’s next for Shaun Jeffrey?

SJ: Well I’m working on another novel featuring the protagonist from The Kult, Prosper Snow. I also have a few other ideas bubbling, and I’m also working on a zombie screenplay with Daniel Kahaeku who wrote the screenplay for The Kult. But as my crystal ball isn’t working too well, I can’t say for certain what will happen. I just hope it’s good.

LT: Anything else you would like to add?

SJ: I’d just like to say thanks to anyone who’s ever read my work. A bigger thank you if you enjoyed it. And an enormous thank you to anyone who’s actually put their hand in their pocket or purse and bought it. I just hope it doesn’t disappoint, as at the end of the day, I want to entertain, and for a brief moment, I want to take you by the hand and lead you into a world of my imagination. A world of dreams, shocks, laughs and terror.

Kiss Shaun Jeffrey links:

Blog
Facebook
Myspace
Website

Thanks so much for your time, Shaun! Looking forward to many more of your twisted stories!


***

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Upcoming interview, news, links

*****

I had a fun time interviewing Steve Lowe (see previous post). Next on my list is Shaun Jeffrey --He’s a helluva talented writer and a nice guy. Looking forward to it!

Recently read/still reading:

Steve Gerlach’s Within His Reach (Tasmaniac Publications) A fast-paced novella paying tribute to the Twilight Zone team. Great story with a heart-felt introduction by the legendary William F. Nolan. Well worth the money.

Eulogies: A Horror World Yearbook 2005: I’m halfway through. So far I’ve loved about half of the stories. The others weren’t my cup of tea, though they were still quite entertaining. Looking forward to some of the upcoming stories by Braunbeck, Burke, and Ketchum.

Deep into that Darkness Peering by Tom Piccirilli (Terminal Frights): About a quarter of the way into this massive collection. Top notch and layered stories. Well worth the money.

Recent Purchases:

Subscribed to Dark Discoveries, Weird Tales and Realms of Fantasy. Can’t wait to get the first issues of each!

Memory by Donald Westlake (Hard Case Crime)
Shadow Season by Tom Piccirilli
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Shroud issue 2
Kingdom of Shadows by Greg Gifune (Delirium Books)
The Fever Kill by Tom Piccirilli (Creeping Hemlock Press)
Corpse Blossoms anthology (Creeping Hemlock Press)
Dark Faith anthology (Apex Books).
Lots of great reading material!

Writing: I have 12 shorts stories subbed right now. And I just finished the first draft of a new long story “The Devil Calls it Quality.” Also nearing the last ¼ of a 7,000 word tale entitled “Embrace Your Jagged Edges.”

Stories coming out soon:

At Least the Dead in Dark Recesses.
Crawl in Pseudopod.
Jackie’s Lost Children in Morpheus Tales Dark Sorcery Special.
Family Curse in Morpheus Tales 13.

Stories available now:

Boys without faces in Twisted Tongue 13.
The Nun and another story Mystery’s Vast Empty in Morpheus Tales Special Flash and Morpheus Tales Fantasy Femmes.

I’m still waiting to hear back from agents on my YA novel query for Before Leonora Wakes. Have my fingers crossed.

*****

Friday, April 2, 2010

Interview: Steve Lowe

*****
I met Steve Lowe in 2009 while work shopping stories on American Zoetrope. He’s helped me with a few of mine and he has a fine eye for details (probably stems from his journalistic background and from being a perfectionist—both noble endeavors.) I’ve also read some of Steve’s fiction and here’s my opinion: It’s clean and sharp and gutsy. He spins some weird yarn that is easy to get caught in. But you should read some of his stories and form your own opinions.

1. Tell us your background. Have you always scribbled nasty letters? What shoved you toward the dark side? Movies? Books? Ex-girlfriends?

SL: I’ve scribbled for a long time, but it’s only been nasty for a short while. I’ve been writing about sports in my fair hometown of South Bend, Indiana since 1999 and I hadn’t written any fiction for about six years before I got back to it again in late 2008. My wife had one of those cheesy werewolf romance novels with a burly, long-haired dude on the cover. I read the first chapter and knew I could do better, so I wrote a short story mostly on a lark. The lark was not happy about it, let me tell you, so I switched to writing it on a computer and it went much better. That story (after transcribing what I could from the lark) is now a novella called WOLVES DRESSED AS MEN and will be released in November of this year. We had to put the lark down. It was both a happy and sad day.

2. How would you label your fiction? (For example, mine is “Goth/Hillbilly” but you can go into further detail with yours and mention some writers you adore/stalk)

SL: I don’t know how I would label it because it continues to change all the time, though I will admit I’m enjoying writing the weird stuff right now. I like minimalism and getting right to the point (a product of sports writing and newspaper journalism in general) but I’m not really focused on one style or genre. I’m still in that stage where I write what comes to mind based on what mood I’m in, how annoying my children are being at any given moment. I’m all about capturing what I’m feeling in the moment. If I start writing homo-erotica, then I’ll know it’s probably time to stop hanging out at the YMCA.

3. Tell us about your two novellas (Who bought them? What are they about? When can we buy them?)

SL: The first one is more of a novelette. It’s called MUSCLE MEMORY and it’s somewhat low-brow comedy about body-switching in rural Pennsylvania. Eraserhead Press is publishing it in October as part of their New Bizarro Author Series, which is sort of a proving ground for authors who want to become real, grown-up bizarro authors and no longer be forced to sit at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving. Basically, if my book sells 200 or more copies in a year’s time, I could get a five-book deal from Eraserhead and be forever labeled an official bizarro.

The other novella is the aforementioned WOLVES, and it’s being published by Eternal Press as an eBook first, then will be offered in print a month later. I wrote this one almost a year ago, and like I said, as my writing has evolved since then, I don’t know if I would write this story today. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the story or the style, just that it’s not what I’m writing now. The story is about a werewolf loose in a crumbling Detroit-like slum, but there’s very little focus on the beast and more about the men fighting it, very dark and brooding stuff. I must have been all dark and broody at the time.

4. Where can we find your short stories?

SL: Oh, here and there. I had one in the most recent issue of Liquid Imagination, I had one in the first Dead Bait anthology, a couple on The New Flesh: Crowd parted for great lucchesi
Ambling Along as I'm Wont to Do Knobby) and I’ve got some forthcoming in Three Crow Press and Esteban’s House of Bizarro. Probably my favorite story that’s been published so far was made into a podcast on Drabblecast: Varmints!) It’s entitled VARMITS! and it’s about a paranoid guy who think raccoons are out to get him.

5. What’s the deal with your brain always stroking off over “Two Minutes,” and who is this Bogey character that’s sending you death threats disguised as lingerie?

SL: If you mention “stroking” and “Bogey” in the same sentence, you’ll never hear the end of it from her, the auto-erotic little minx that she is. As for the 2-Minute Drill, it just sort of happened. When this year began, I was shopping my novellas around and thinking I would need a website, or at least a blog, if I ever happened to sell one or both of them. Once I got the blog up, I didn’t have much of interest to post and I really didn’t want to do another normal author’s blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that obviously, but if I was going to do it, it had to be different. I wasn’t going to just write about stuff that popped in my head, because I’m really not that interesting or insightful. I wanted to use it for entertainment, or at least post goofy, funny stuff. That’s when I thought of doing author interviews, but making them a little more unique. See, I get bored easy, so I thought five short questions, five short answers, totally off the wall shit, while also attempting to push the authors’ books and wares to the readers, and maybe it would work. I had AJ Brown do the first one and the next day I had a list of about 20 writers and artists wanting to do their own 2-Minute Drill. And they’re fun as hell because I get to make up just about whatever I want.

6. What is your proudest moment as a writer? As a man?

SL: As a man is easy, it was the day the paternity results came back. Didn’t have much of an argument left after that day, but I digress… As a writer, that’s tougher. I suppose that first acceptance and first payment. That was a good feeling, to know that I was cunning enough to fool someone into giving me money for my fiction. (Insert maniacal laugh here…)

7. What does the future hold for Steve Lowe?

SL: Pain. No, just kidding. Hopefully, a novel, which will probably be painful for anyone who tries to read it. After writing for newspapers for so long, you get conditioned to keeping it short and sticking with only the most important stuff. But fiction is such a different animal. I’ve always wanted to write novels, but I didn’t think I could manage something that long. Once I got to the 20,000-word mark on WOLVES, I started to figure it out. At some point, I’ll knock out a full-length novel. I have 18,000 words of something I may or may not finish, but before then I’m working on another novella, then I’ve got two more ideas started that I want to flesh out and see where I can take them. They may not be novel-length, but I haven’t really focused on them yet so we’ll see. And of course, more 2-Minute Drills. At some point, I’ll convince another big-time author to come on. I had Jeremy C. Shipp do one in early March and he was great.

8. Anything I forgot?

SL: Did you pick up your dry cleaning yesterday?

9. Befriend/Worship Steve Lowe links: (Facebook, etc.)

Twitter
Facebook
Blog

Thanks, Steve!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sale to Dark Recesses and other News!

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Alright, I just sold my story--At Least the Dead-- to Dark Recesses, and I’m silly happy. They’re a market I’ve been trying to crack for a while because I love what they publish, and they’re all shiny. A big thank you to a few friends who helped with their opinions: Shaun Ryan, Kevin Wallis and Ben Eads. You guys rock.

In other news, I decided to stay away from Facebook and some other sites that had started to eat up large chunks of my time (and brain power) the last week. The break was great! I finished a number of projects and my eyes don’t ache. And even better I got to read some real books! Which is something my soul has been starving for.

Two things I read this week, both highly recommended, are Greg Gifune's “The Bleeding Season” from Delirium Books and Shock Totem's first issue. Okay, Gifune knocked me flat. The Bleeding Season is a dark mix of Crime, Human Nature, and Horror all wrapped up in beautiful, gut-wrenching prose. I’ll be buying another of his books ASAP.

And Shock Totem’s first issue is excellent! The quality of the magazine blew me away (I know, tired cliché, but oh so true) and I read all the interviews first (all great.) Once I dug into the stories I realized something. They’re stretching new ground with the diversity they have going here, in subject matter and styles. Big kudos. Some of the stories were stronger than others (personal taste thing going on) but all of them were a treat for my brain projector. My two favorites were “The Dead March” by Brian Rappatta, and “Thrity-Two Scenes from a Dead Hooker’s Mouth” by Kurt Newton. Buy it, read it, you won’t regret it!

Now I have to work. Thanks for stopping by! Treat yourself well.

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