Aloha, 2013! Aloha, 2014!

Well, this is my last blog post of 2013, so I’d better make sure it’s truly……actually, y’know, most of you won’t read this until 2014 anyway, so technically there’s no real pressure to make it amazingly awesome. 

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Two Weeks Left…

…in the Nightmares Kickstarter campaign! Artwork by four amazingly talented artists (Frank Walls, Alex McVey, Zach McCain, and Steven Gilberts) and stories by nineteen amazingly talented authors plus me! If you contribute to only one Kickstarter campaign before the end of 2013 or in the first few days of 2014, make it this one. I can personally assure you that the proceeds from this venture will go toward creating the book and not to prostitutes, heroin, and games of chance, unlike those other campaigns you were thinking about supporting.

Courage in the Lair of Satan

Last month, as part of a vacation to the Uhwarrie National Forest with Richard Dansky, Melinda Thielbar, and Lynne Hansen, I visited the legendary Devil’s Tramping Ground, a place in the woods where nothing grows, presumably because of Satan and stuff. Here is the evidence of my bravery…


Heh Heh

It is worth getting a one-star review on Goodreads just for the message you get when you click on the review.

Favorites of 2013 (Updated)

In a prior post, I said that One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper was my favorite book of 2013, but that it was kind of a cheat because it was published in 2012. The paperback came out in 2013, so it wasn’t THAT much of a cheat, although since I read the hardcover edition that excuse doesn’t really work.

Anyway, yesterday I finished reading Truth in Advertising by John Kenney and can officially proclaim that to be my favorite book of 2013 that was actually published in 2013. Five stars out of five. If you read only one book published in 2013 between now and the end of 2013, make it that one. Or Stalking You Now. One of those two. 

Fear the Reaper Special

Fear the Reaper Special.

Want some behind-the-scenes insight on various stories in Fear the Reaper? Of course you do! I mean, how would somebody as charming and normal as me come up with a story like “Stumps”? Click the above link to check out a Very Special blog entry at the Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog!

My Favorites of 2013

Favorite Book: One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper.

Favorite Movie: Found.

Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad.

Favorite Album: The only album I bought in 2013 was Popular Music by Marc With A C. So my answer is Popular Music by Marc With A C. (Okay, technically my wife bought it. My answer stands.)

Also, One Last Thing Before I Go came out in 2012, but I read it in 2013, so I’m counting it even though it officially shouldn’t count. 



As promised, here’s the very beginning of my novella-barely-in-progress, Chiggers. 

“All you get to do is kill him.”

Mr. Simon nodded. “I understand.”

“I’m very serious about this. This is not going to turn into some sadistic torture session. You will press this gun against his forehead,” Neal said, sliding the pistol across the desk, “and you will pull the trigger. If you want to make a speech before you do it, be my guest, but keep it brief.”

Mr. Simon picked up the gun. “I’m ready.”

“If you back out, I will not finish the job for you. So if you think you might not be able to go through it with, I’d advise you not to walk into that room. We can still turn him over to the police, no problem.”

“And no refund.”

Neal smiled. “Correct.”

Mr. Simon pushed back his chair and stood up. “I won’t be backing out. I’m going to enjoy every minute of this.”

“Okay, now, see, I’m getting a torture vibe from that. I don’t care what he did to your daughter. This is a quick, painless kill. There’s only one bullet in that gun, and if it goes anywhere but his brain, you and I are going to have a problem. Are we clear?”

“One hundred percent.”

“All right, then. Avenge away.”

Mr. Simon walked out through the open door of Neal’s office. Neal took a sip of his coffee, leaned back in his chair, and sighed.

He knew exactly how this was going to play out. Mr. Simon would walk into the room, shut the door, lock it, and shoot nineteen-year-old Derrick Naylor in the gut. Screw the consequences. When Neal got in there and broke his nose, well, Mr. Simon would decide that it was worth it for Derrick’s extra couple minutes of agony.

Mr. Simon’s daughter, Vivian, had been beaten, raped, and left for dead. She had yet to emerge from her coma. Odds were, she never would. So Neal could understand why her dad might want the guy who’d done this to his sweet, beautiful, thirteen-year-old daughter to suffer.

He deserved much worse than a quick gunshot to the head.

He deserved to die slowly, screaming for hours. Days.

Whoever he was.

It sure as hell wasn’t Derrick. Poor kid just happened to match the age, build, and hair color of somebody who a witness claimed to have seen walking past the playground where Vivian was abducted. The case against Derrick wouldn’t hold up for thirty seconds with actual law enforcement, but the burden of proof was significantly less when dealing with a devastated father whose mind was poisoned with thoughts of revenge.

Neal had no criminal-tracking skills whatsoever, but he was pretty good at kidnapping, and excellent at using Photoshop to provide some damning evidence.

Eventually the real rapist might be brought to justice, but Neal would be long gone, and it wasn’t as if Mr. Simon would rush to the cops to confess that he’d murdered an innocent kid.

The gun fired.

Neal stood up and walked out of his office just as Mr. Simon emerged from the other room. He was in a daze and tears streamed down his face. He handed the gun back to Neal.

Neal glanced into the room. Derrick lay on his back on the plastic, still tied up, blood pooling under his skull, a nice little hole in the center of his forehead.

Okay, so he’d misjudged Mr. Simon. Good.

My New Novella: The Process Begins…

With yesterday’s update, I mentioned my new novella, Chiggers, and said that I’d post updates following the process. Since me saying that I’ve started a novella called Chiggers doesn’t necessarily mean that there will one day be published a novella called Chiggers, this could be an interesting look at the insanity of my process.

So let’s start by taking a quick look at my contract with DarkFuse:

  • The deadline is March 1, 2014.
  • Length between 17,500 and 35,000 words.
  • Must be a stand-alone work.

And that’s pretty much it. Obviously, since DarkFuse is a horror publisher, I ought not to turn in a romantic western, but as long as I stick to the horror genre, I can write anything I want.

Every once in a while an idea will come to me and I’ll write the opening to a story with no idea where it’s headed, and often with no immediate plans to keep working on it. So a couple of months ago I wrote about 600 words of what I figured would be some kind of crime novel. Then I put it away.

Last week, I decided that it was time to at least figure out what my DarkFuse novella is going to be about. I wrote a couple pages of something that would be extremely dark, but only in its final scenes. The rest would be a long, non-horror buildup to a shocking conclusion. I will almost certainly return to this project at some point, but for now, I decided that it’s not the right fit.

So I went back to the crime novel opening and thought, “What can I do to turn this into something that’s absolutely batsh*t insane?” I’ve been wanting to return to the “bugs run amok” genre since last tackling it over a decade ago with Mandiblesand I’d had an idea for something called Chiggers which went no further than “Chiggers would be a cool idea for a book,” and I decided to Frankenstein them together.

With that in mind, I added a couple more pages to the project (though no chiggers have shown up yet). I’ve got two characters in the already-written section, and I know the other three characters that are going to show up, and deadly chiggers are going to be involved, and…well, that’s all I’ve got so far.

Tomorrow I’ll post the first piece that I wrote, before I had any idea where it was headed.

Update on Writing Stuff (December 18th Edition)

In my last thrilling update, I’d said that I had two short stories due. No doubt you’ve suffered many sleepless nights since then, wondering if I finished them. (“What if he missed his deadline? Do authors get their legs broken for that? What if Jeff’s legs are broken right now? Could I have saved him if I acted sooner?”)

Well, you need stress out no longer. They’re both done. One was for a collection of dark fantasy stories called Out of Tune edited by Jonathan Maberry, and the other was for…actually, that one still may be a secret. Out of Tune, however, has an all-star (except for me) roster of authors including Kelley Armstrong, Simon R. Green, Jack Ketchum, Nancy Holder, Seanan McGuire, Keith DeCandido, Gregory Frost, David Liss, Christopher Golden, and Del Howison. My story is very, very, very silly.

[UPDATE: The other project is a book called The Gruesome Tensome: A Short Story Tribute To the Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis, edited by Nick Cato.]

I heard back on my story for the tie-in project that I’m still not allowed to reveal. Fortunately, it was not “WTF were you thinking, you fool?!? You’ve doomed the franchise! Dooooooooooooomed it!!!” I’ll announce it soon(ish).

No updates on my novel Kumquat, dammit.

Any time I announce a project that’s in the early stages, you pretty much have to say “Yeah, yeah, we’ll see if that happens.” But at the moment, it looks like my next novella for DarkFuse is going to be called Chiggers. If you kids are interested, I may do semi-regular updates on this one, following it through the entire process. 

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