HAUNTED FOREST TOUR FRIENDSHIP REBORN THROUGH AWARD
For Immediate Release
From all outward appearances, James A. Moore and Jeff Strand, co-authors of THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR, couldn’t have been happier. Behind the scenes, however, their relationship was a maelstrom of fiery rage, cruel deception, and rancid jealousy.
“By the end of it, just hearing the name ‘Jeff Strand’ made me want to vomit all over my jeans,” said Moore, chuckling at the memory. “He was simply an awful, awful human being, and collaborating with him on that novel was like having somebody ignite a chimpanzee and shove the burning monkey up one of my nostrils. Just flat-out painful, you know what I mean?”
Strand concurred. “There were challenges in our working relationship, no doubt about it. I read his first chapter and I’m all like, WTF? Because I was familiar with Jim’s previously published work, and I didn’t recall it sucking. It was like that with every chapter. An endless avalanche of suck.”
“Here’s the thing,” said Moore. “You tend to elevate the level of your work when you’re writing with a quality individual. When I wrote with Chris Golden, my stuff rocked! When you write with Jeff Strand…well, it’s important for a novel to have balance. If it’s one great chapter, one crap chapter, one great chapter, one crap chapter, and so on, the reader’s going to get motion sickness. I was just ensuring continuity.”
That said, Moore and Strand kept their mutual hatred secret for the long thirteen years it took for the project to reach fruition…to all but Paul Miller, owner of Earthling Publications.
“Oh, jeez, you wouldn’t believe what I had to go through with those two,” said Paul Miller, drinking an unidentified beverage from a double-sized flask. “Every two minutes I’m hearing ‘Jeff is doing this!’ and ‘Jim is doing that!’ and I was about ready to bash their frickin’ heads together. I had dreams about it. Sweet, sweet dreams where their heads smashed together and their gooey brains splattered out the top and I danced on their corpses and laughed and laughed and laughed.” Miller paused for another gulp of his beverage. “It was a difficult time.”
Ultimately, the book was completed. After a “light” rewrite to fix “minor areas of concern” to make the book “into something even remotely publishable,” THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR was made available by Earthling Publications to universal acclaim, if one excludes Publishers Weekly from the universe.
Horror World called it “one of the freshest and most entertaining novels in recent years,” while GoreZone magazine described it as “over two hundred pages of non-stop, in your face, gore-drenched action.” FearZone said “If you enjoyed Shaun of the Dead in the theaters, you’ll absolutely love this book,” and Horror-Web said “James A. Moore and Jeff Strand are a literary dream team. Devout readers of the genre are in for a real treat.”
Despite the kind words, Moore and Strand still pretty much hated each other’s guts.
In public, they played the role of happy co-authors, with Strand even offering up a charming and amusing contribution to the James A. Moore Roast at NECon 2007. “But if you look at the pictures, you’ll see the disgust in my eyes,” said Strand. “The audience saw Jim Moore, unwilling roast victim. I saw Jim Moore, the bastard who’d slept with my mistress not thirty minutes prior.”
“She was a very naughty girl,” said Jim Moore with a devilish grin.
But then the impossible happened. Dark Scribe Magazine announced its first annual Black Quill Awards, and THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR won the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Small Press Chill. Elated, Strand made call after call to share the news…but nobody was home. “I had to talk to somebody,” he said, “and finally I got to Jim Moore’s name and thought, what the heck?”
The two spoke for hours, offering tearful apologies, sharing fond memories of good times during their pre-collaborative days, and honoring each other’s requests on webcam.
“This award fixed our friendship,” said Moore. “Fans of the first novel can now look forward to THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR II, THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR III, THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR 4 (we decided, like the HALLOWEEN series, that we didn’t want to alienate dumber readers by using IV), THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR 5, THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR: MUMBLECRUST’S VENGEANCE, and then a reimagining of the original HAUNTED FOREST TOUR with a younger cast.”
“Jim is awesome,” said Strand. “Just…awesome.”
10 SIMPLE WAYS TO FURTHER MY CAREER
If you’re reading this, no doubt you pre-order all of my new books in a flurry of “Oh, jeez, please don’t let it be sold out…please, please, please don’t let it be sold out…all I ask is this one small–oh, thank God!!! Woo-hoo! V for Victory! Yeeeeeee-ha!!!”
That’s cool. You have my utmost gratitude. Unfortunately, it’s been brought to my attention that many of you think that your role in the process ends with purchasing and subsequently reading the book. Well, that kind of lackluster effort puts a frowny face on my face. I thought we were in this together? I’m not saying that you should be as committed to my success as I am, but is a 65/35 split too much to ask?
The process should be: 1) I give you the precious gift of writing a new book. 2) You buy and read my gift to you. 3) You try to help me make it wildly successful. 4) I get paid more for giving you future gifts of writing new books. We’re good with 1) and 2), but 3) and 4) are a bit shaky. Perhaps it’s my fault. I haven’t provided enough guidance. Therefore, I’ve helpfully compiled a list of 10 ways that you can assist me in selling lots of books Please select three (3) tasks from the list and complete them at your earliest convenience.
1. Buy Extra Copies. This is the easiest way you can help. Order several extra copies (several = 3 to 7) and leave them in strategic points around your city, such as a bus stop or a Starbucks. This allows a stranger to discover the book, think “Here now, what’s all this then?”, read a few pages, and–BOOM!!!–I’ve just acquired a new fan who will order Pressure and Single White Psychopath Seeks Same and The Haunted Forest Tour and Disposal and Gleefully Macabre Tales and Elrod McBugle on the Loose and How to Rescue a Dead Princess and Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) and Mandibles and The Sinister Mr. Corpse and Out of Whack and Casket For Sale (Only Used Once). All for the rather effortless act of changing the number in your online shopping cart from “1″ to “7.” See how easy this is?
2. Spam. Spam like your frickin’ life depended on it. Look, when I spam, it’s spam, but when YOU spam, you’re merely sharing news about your very favorite author. Possible subject lines include: “OMG!!! Jeff Strand RULEZ!!!” and “STRAND HAS MAD SKILLS!!! LOL!!!”
3. Defend Me From Critics. Sometimes there’ll be a message board thread, and somebody will say “Gosh, I can’t wait until my copy of Jeff Strand’s new book arrives,” and some other cretin will say “Forget that! I don’t order those overpriced hardcover limited editions!” Well, pardon my use of the f-word disguised with asterisks, but f*** them! Don’t allow those Whiny Walters or Negative Nellies to poison the populace against my overpriced hardcover limited editions! When somebody posts something like that, reply back (in all caps) that you’re going to kick them right in the teeth. If the message board allows you to insert graphics, include a picture of some teeth and Photoshop a picture of your foot kicking them.
4. Write Your Own Jeff Strand Fan Fiction. If it’s slash fiction, include relevant illustrations.
5. Act All Impressed And Stuff By Good Reviews. After you’ve read the review, print out 75-80 copies and post them around your hometown. Stand next to the flyer in the highest-traffic area, put on your most winning smile, and tell passing strangers that we roomed together in college.
6. Drive a Species To Extinction in My Name. This sounds ambitious, but I’m not talking about a major species, like manatees or humans. I just mean that if, maybe, you’re walking down the sidewalk and you see this weird-looking beetle, and you remember from some science documentary that only one of them remains, that you stomp on it and shout my name. No big deal.
7. Include the phrase “That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with Jeff Strand’s fiction?” in all of your daily conversations. I think this one is self-explanatory.
8. Praise Booksellers Who Carry My Books. The owner of The Horror Mall doesn’t HAVE to carry my books. Nobody put a gun to his head and said “Put these books on your site or your brains will create abstract art upon your flowery wallpaper,” and they didn’t punch him in the gut when he made a witty but anger-inducing comment about his splattery brains being better reading material than my books, and it certainly wasn’t necessary to break a couple of his fingers to get him to cooperate. So why not praise the man? Tell him how much you appreciate the fact that he carries fine books written by people like me. Send him a package of expensive pears, or maybe bring over some hot cocoa after you visit his website, just to say “Thanks.”
9. Add Strand Promo To Your Signature Line. What does your current signature line have? A funny quote? A life-affirming statement? Promo for YOUR book? Sorry, but that me-me-me attitude isn’t going to sell more copies of Gleefully Macabre Tales, now is it? Change your signature line to say something like “Buy Jeff Strand’s superb short story collection Gleefully Macabre Tales or you suck!” Post often. Send a flurry of one-line e-mails with vapid content that won’t distract the recipient from your signature line. Bonus points if you create a flashy, obnoxious, eye-melting banner that links to my website.
10. Every Time You See a Computer, Visit This Webpage. At work? At your public library? At your local Circuit City? Anyplace there are computers around, just pop that URL above into the web browser and walk away. If they’re seated in front of the computer and try to slap your hand away, pretend to enjoy the physical contact a little too much.
Okay, everybody got it? Let’s get the Strand army into gear and RULE THE WORLD!!! March on, punks!
APPALLING BEHAVIOR BY STEPHEN KING
Stephen King’s LISEY’S STORY won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel and my own PRESSURE did not. I’m fine with that. No sour grapes. However, I very strongly object to Mr. King’s abhorrent, juvenile behavior towards me after his victory.
It started Monday night when I finally got home from the World Horror Convention. I was exhausted and just wanted to get some sleep. But the phone rang around 2:30 AM, and I’ll transcribe the conversation as accurately as I can remember.
KING: Is this Jeff Strand?
KING: Congratulations on winning the Stoker, Jeff! You totally deserved it.
KING: Oh…wait…my mistake, it appears that I’M the one who took home Stoker gold this year. How silly of me. You’re not JEALOUS, are you?
ME: Who is this?
KING [ignoring the question]: Poor little Stokerless Jeffie-Weffie. I bet you cried like a little girl whose Barbie doll got decapitated in an elevator mishap. [snickers]
ME: Is this Stephen King?
KING: Yes. I mean, no. [muffled giggling] Hey, wanna hear a riddle?
ME: It’s the middle of the night!
KING: What do you call an author without a Stoker? Give up? Jeff Strand! Hee hee hee hee hee! [whispering] Shhhh, Tabby, he’ll hear you…
ME: This is really unprofessional and inappropriate.
KING: [muffled hysterical laughter] You should write a sequel called PRESSURE II: WAAAH, LISEY’S STORY WON AND I SUCK! Looooooser! Here, you can borrow my Stoker. Psyche!!! No, really, I’ll mail it in the morning. Psyche!!!
He prank called me six more times that night, although I won’t bore you with the details. I’m cool with that. He won, I didn’t, and he has the right to gloat a bit, I suppose. But the next day I received a Federal Express package. Inside was a CD by the Rock Bottom Remainders, with a handwritten note that said “A special song just for you! — Love, SK.”
I put in the CD. As the song began, I immediately recognized Dave Barry on lead guitar and Ridley Pearson on tuba. Then Stephen King began to sing, to the tune of Queen’s “Under Pressure.”
Um boom ba bay
Um boom ba bay
Um um boom ba bay bay
Was beaten by me
I put a frown on you, you’re feelin’ sore
I beat Pressure
Made you look like a clown
Snapped your big ego in two
Put you on the streets
Um ba ba bay
Um ba ba bay
Dee day duh
Ee day duh
You feel sorrow in knowing
Which Stoker you’re without
Watching your good friends
scream “Let’s all pout!”
Tomorrow takes me higher
Pressure’s for people
Who can barely read
Day day day
Da da dup bup bup
I shut off the CD at this point, not wanting to tolerate any more of his childish antics. I want to make it perfectly clear that I did nothing to instigate this behavior, and in fact I would have continued to take the high road and kept this matter private. However, this evening was the last straw. I came home to find my front window broken. When I hurried inside, Stephen King was seated on my couch, drinking a Mountain Dew he’d stolen out of my refrigerator, with numerous Stoker statues spread out on the floor in front of him.
“My, my, my,” he said. “Look at all of these lovely Stokers I’ve got. It’s a whole neighborhood of them! What a friendly little community!”
I very politely asked him to leave, but he picked up one of the haunted house statues and rested it on his lap. “Look, the little door opens! How cool is that? Whose name is that on the plaque inside? Why, it’s MINE! Oh, goodness, I’m sure that at least ONE of these must have your name in it! Let me check. This one? Nope. This one? Nope. This one? Nope. This one…?”
I asked him–once again, calmly and politely–to leave my home or I’d call the police.
“This one? Nope. This one? Nope. This one? Nope.”
At this point, yes, I’ll admit that I lost my temper. I said in a very stern voice that I expected him to pay for both the window he broke and the soft drink he consumed. Is that unreasonable? If he broke into your home and taunted you with his awards, would you just put up with it? I am not the bad guy here. But he just chuckled, gathered up his Stokers, and walked out through the front door, dropping the empty Mountain Dew can on my floor.
Look, I’m not asking anybody to quit buying Stephen King books. However, considering his poor sportsmanship, I think the best revenge would be if PRESSURE outsold LISEY’S STORY. LISEY’S STORY sold about 1.2 million copies in 2006, so this won’t be an easy task; some of you will have to buy doubles. But we can’t let Stoker winners treat those of us who came up short in such a shameful manner. Buy PRESSURE. Buy it now. Buy it often.
Thank you for letting me vent.
REJECTED STOKER ACCEPTANCE SPEECH #1
[Wait for presenter to say "And the winner is...PRESSURE by Jeff Strand!" Gasp. Hug wife. Wipe tear from eye. Give high-five to 4-7 people during victory jog up to stage.]
Oh, wow, just…wow. I can’t believe this. You know what, I barely even know what to say right now. Wow. This is so cool. I guess I’d like to start by saying “Ha! You SUCK, Stephen King!”
[Long, uncomfortable silence.]
I can’t believe I said that. I’m sorry, that was very disrespectful. Stephen King has made countless contributions to our genre, and he’s always been generous in his support for new authors, and there was no excuse for my comment. I apologize. I’m sorry.
Damn, I really screwed this up, didn’t I? This was supposed to be an exciting moment, and I had to go and ruin everything. This isn’t the way I envisioned this at all. Now I’m just babbling, aren’t I? I’m sorry…I’m sorry…
OW! This [expletive deleted] Stoker has sharp edges! Who the [expletive deleted] designed this thing?!? Now I’m bleeding all over the place! Great. Juuuuuuust [expletive deleted] great.
[Push Mistress of Ceremonies Sephera Giron out of the way as she tries to assist with stopping the flow of blood.]
Leave me alone! I can take care of it! Oh, jeez, now I’m feeling light-headed. I’m gonna have to lie down for a minute. Oh, man, that thing got me good. Everybody just…just give me a second…just…
I’d like to start by thanking Paul Miller, who published the book. You go, boy! I’d also like to thank Jim Moore. You da man, Jim! Waaaaazup??? Heh heh, that’s from those beer commercials. Finally, I’d like to thank everybody else who will be offended if I don’t thank them…except YOU over there in the corner! You didn’t do squat. I don’t even know you. Who the hell are you?
Oh, sorry, Mr. Bradbury. That was rude of me. You deserve much more respect than that. I’m always doing this. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
[Beat self repeatedly.]
[Regain consciousness. Banquet room is deserted. Realize that Stoker trophy has been stolen. Weep softly in the darkness.]
REJECTED STOKER ACCEPTANCE SPEECH #2
Well, well, well. What an interesting turn of events, hmmm?
They say it’s an honor just to be nominated. So tell me, do the rest of you feel HONORED right now? I didn’t think so. Why don’t you try this experiment: Go buy a big, delicious, juicy cheeseburger, dangle it in front of a homeless man, and tell him that he’s a finalist for the cheeseburger. Then say “Sorry, you didn’t win!” and gobble it up yourself in front of him. Do you think he’ll feel HONORED that his starving carcass ALMOST got a meal? I think not.
Many people say that the Stokers are nothing but a popularity contest. Why, that must mean that I’m the most popular guy in the room! I’m captain of the football team, scoring with hot cheerleaders, while you’re all getting wedgies and being stuffed into lockers! Hey, Gary, discuss any fascinating theorems in physics club today? Yo, Tom, how are the clarinet lessons going? Haw haw haw!
To be perfectly honest, those of you who won some of those second-tier weenie categories aren’t much better. Best short story? Ooooooooh, I’m SO impressed! What, did you run out of ideas after 2000 words? Best poetry? Oh, yeah, people just LOOOOVE poetry! “Look at me, la la la, I’m a fruity poet!” C’mon, give me a break. Here’s a poem for you: The Stoker is mine, and f*** the red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens!
How much time do I have left? I’m out? Yeah, well, why don’t you bring up the band then? Oh, that’s right, you don’t HAVE a band! This whole ceremony is one big–hey, hands off, punk! Don’t MAKE me hurt you! Hey! That was completely unnecessary! Dammit, Shrews, get your–OW!!! Okay, jeez! I give up! I SAID I give up! Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! I’m sitting down, okay? Here I am, sitting back in my chair. Jerk.
Screw you all. I should’ve won this in 2005 for TWO TWISTED NUTS anyway.
REJECTED STOKER ACCEPTANCE SPEECH #3
Thank you very much for this wonderful honor. A lot of you are probably surprised to see me standing on this stage tonight, considering that it was not my name announced as the winner. But though you have chosen somebody else for this year’s recipient of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel, I would like to take this opportunity to plead my case and hopefully change your mind.
You see, I’m not the kind of author who’s going to get many chances to win this thing. Gary Braunbeck, Tom Piccirilli, Stephen King…they’ve already got Stokers. A couple each, actually. Jonathan Maberry is also up for Best First Novel this year, so why not give him that one instead? Let’s share the love and stop the Stoker hoarding!
I need this. Oh, God, I need this. I mean, do you think I’m gonna win a frickin’ Stoker for THE SINISTER MR. CORPSE? This is IT for me, people! So I was thinking that maybe we could do an impromptu re-vote, just amongst the people in this room, and see what happens.
We wouldn’t even have to announce it. For the press releases and interviews and stuff we could say that the other guy won, but just let me take home the trophy, okay? It doesn’t even have to be forever. One month. That’s all I’m asking. Let me borrow the Stoker for one month, and I promise I’ll give it back. That’s cool with everybody, right? Three weeks. Three short weeks and I’ll mail it to the winner. I’ll even pay for Priority shipping with delivery confirmation.
Yes, I know the winner worked hard for this honor, but look at my eyes. Do you see the desperation in them? I don’t want to beg. Please don’t make me beg.
Really? Oh…that’s so great! Thank you! Thank all of you! Seriously? You’ve got a buffer right there? Well, yeah, let’s get that other name off the nameplate right now! You all don’t know how much I appreciate this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
[Blow kisses to the audience.]