1000th Post! Collector’s Item!

Wow. 1000 posts. That’s cray.

The most newsworthy item of this 1000th post is that Lynne Hansen did a brand-new cover for Dweller. It’s currently on the Kindle edition but there’ll be a new paperback soon.

DwellerNewFront

The paperback edition of Wolf Hunt 3 should be available fairly soon. The sample copy is on its way, and if it passes my brutal inspection (“Oooh! Pretty!”), it’ll go live. Shortly after that it’ll be joined by new, much more affordably priced paperback versions of the first two books.

On Monday I did a Q&A at the Books of Horror group on Facebook. There were lots and lots of great questions and I gave lots and lots of adequate answers. On Tuesday, I went to the Laundromat and nobody asked questions about my writing process.

Finally, I’m sharing this for no particular reason.

Screen Shot 2020-01-29 at 4.47.11 PM

 

January 25th

Still working on Hazel. This one falls into the “less funny” category, closer to My Pretties than Clowns Vs. SpidersMy goal with the scene I’m writing now is “grueling emotional intensity,” but that’s for YOU, the reader, to decide!

Meanwhile, there’s a brand-new interview with me (conducted by Lionel Ray Green) up at Horror Tree! Check it out right HERE.

 

No News About A Short Story Collection

There’s this Facebook group called “Books of Horror” that has started doing author Q&A’s. Mine is set for Monday, January 27th, so on that day people will post questions (“Jeff, how did you become so gosh-darn awesome?”) and I will post answers (“It’s my readers who are the awesome ones!”) and everybody will have a delightful time.

People are allowed to post questions early, and I’ll answer them on the 27th. But it seems kind of rude to have a question just sitting there, unanswered, as if my time is so valuable that I’m taking an “I will answer questions on the scheduled day and no sooner, dammit!” stance. So I’m going to answer one in the form of a long-winded blog entry, and share the link.

The question, asked by Mr. Hans Curtis, is when there will be a fourth short story collection.

The official answer is: I dunno.

Like a total frickin’ nerd, I’ve got a spreadsheet that lists all of my post-Everything Has Teeth stories. Right now I’ve got nearly 80,000 words’ worth of material, not counting over 10,000 words’ worth of stuff that won’t be included in a collection, and not counting 19,000 words’ worth of stories that were written for my newsletter. So that’s a book right there!

But……I don’t have the contractual rights to reprint all of these yet. A few of them (“Captain Pistachio’s Charming Rampage,” “All I Want For Christmas Is Your Two Front Teeth,” “Ghetto Blaster,” etc.) are stories that haven’t even seen their first publication yet. And the trade-off for a story like “Good Deeds” from Hark The Herald Angels Screamwhich had a nice pay rate and high visibility, is that the exclusivity period is quite a bit longer.

Previously I’ve started compiling the books when I’ve got “mostly” enough material, and then written new stories to fill it out. Dead Clown Barbecue had seven unpublished stories, and Everything Has Teeth had six, one of which (“The Tipping Point”) was a novelette.

What I’ve discovered is that the new stuff doesn’t seem to matter much, and with Dead Clown Barbecue it actually backfired. The publisher went nuts when I sent over the book. “OMG! Seven brand new stories!” It was the focus of the marketing campaign. But we discovered that readers were looking at it from the opposite perspective: “Oh, so it’s mostly reprints?”

Single-author short story collections are almost always mostly or entirely reprints. In the horror genre at least, it’s rare for anybody to sit down and write a collection of short stories just for that particular book. Basically, you say, “Hey, I’ve published enough short stories to fill a book! Woo-hoo!” and then you publish the collection. Seven brand new stories for Dead Clown Barbecue was craaaaaaazy!

But many readers don’t realize that, because unless you obsessively follow everything an author publishes, most of the stories are new to you. Looking at this list of stories that’ll be in Collection IV, there’s stuff like “Pointy Canes,” “Rotten Eggs,” “Don’t Make Fun of the Haunted House,” “Parody,” “Clyde the Necrophile,” “The Last Thing You Want To Be,”….I know darn well you haven’t read all of those! (Jim Morey, who proofreads all of my short stories, is shouting “The hell I haven’t!” but he doesn’t count.)

So, this time out there’s less incentive to go with brand new stuff. Which means that when asked when my next short story collection will come out, the official answer is: “I dunno.” Probably sometime in 2021.

Follow up question: What’s the deal with the stories that won’t be included in a collection?

When a story was done specifically for a charity anthology (“Death to Trees” in Widowmakers, “Hologram Skull Cover” in Mister October, “Clickers Vs. Mandibles” in Clickers Foreveretc.) I don’t reprint it. I’m not vowing that I will NEVER reprint them, but for the foreseeable future, I like keeping them exclusive to their original anthologies. “Coping Mechanism,” from Into Painfreakis a shared-world story that would probably just be kind of confusing if removed from its original context.

Anyway, the Jeff Strand Q&A at Books of Horror will be at the following link (though you may need to join the Books of Horror group to access it):

https://www.facebook.com/events/843603702719731/

Anatomy of an Unposted Joke

The Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot went out this morning. In a non-shocker, none of my 2019 books were on the list. (Okay, maaaaaaaaybe My Pretties could’ve made the cut, but there was certainly no evidence that it was a front runner.)

Clowns Vs. Spiders, despite its delightfully high entertainment value, had no chance in hell. This is not a controversial opinion. Nobody, at any stage of the process, believed that Clowns Vs. Spiders was a viable candidate for the award for Superior Achievement in a Novel. You don’t write a book like Clowns Vs. Spiders thinking it’s going to win awards unless you’re a total dumbass.

Which led to the following thought process after the preliminary ballot was announced:

  1. The idea that it would be funny to do a mock-outraged post about the unconscionable snub of Clowns Vs. Spiders in this year’s Stokers. A fake angry rant about the omission of a book that everybody knows never stood a chance. Comedy gold!
  2. The realization that no matter HOW obviously satirical a post like this might be, somebody will think it’s real. People do very quick skims of their social media feeds. It’s not at all unusual for me to have to say, “Uh, that was a joke!”
  3. The awareness that anytime somebody whines about being passed up for a writing award, at least one person will angrily respond that it’s total bulls**t that they were passed up for that award. I didn’t want people responding to my amusing post with “It’s total bulls**t that Clowns Vs. Spiders isn’t on the list!”
  4. The acceptance that, removed from its original wacky context, it could look like I was being a big fat baby about Clowns Vs. Spiders not being on the list. I’ve seen people be big fat babies about not making the list. I mock them.

And so I decided not to write the post. But at least I got a blog entry out of it.

January 19th

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. To “celebrate,” here’s the sequel to one of his best-known tales of terror, which appeared in my newsletter in October.

“The Tell Tale Heart II: Aftermath”

Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now –again! –hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

The three officers all stared at me. “I beg your pardon?” asked the first.

“It is…” I trailed off, realizing I’d made a severe tactical error. “Sorry. It’s been a long day. What were we talking about again?”

“Did you say it’s the beating of his hideous heart?” asked the second officer.

I violently shook my head. “Oh, no, no, no. You can’t hear somebody’s heart when they’re buried under the floorboards. That would be ridiculous. My ears are good, but they’re not that good. Anyway, if he were buried under the floorboards, he’d be dead, and he’s not dead, he’s away in the country, as I said earlier in our conversation.”

“Then what did you say?”

“I said…it’s the…bleating…of his…piteouschart. It’s the bleating of his piteous chart.”

The third officer frowned. “That’s a perplexing thing to say.”

“I know. But please do not think that I am mad.”

“Why did you ask us to tear up the planks?”

“I don’t remember saying that.”

“You said, ‘Villains, dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the bleating of his piteous chart!’”

“Right, right,” I said. “I admit that I’ve been careless with the maintenance of this home, and the floorboards have warped most badly. I slept fitfully last night, and so I briefly forgot that you were police officers and confused you with home improvement professionals, who would tear up the planks and replace them with straighter ones.”

“Being careless about the upkeep of your home isn’t what I would call a ‘deed,’” said the first officer. “It’s more like an ongoing state.”

“I agree with my associate,” said the second officer. “And why would you call them villains? They’re providing a necessary service. If I was here to replace your floor and you insulted me before I even got started, why, I’d march right back out the door.”

“I’m not going to lie,” said the third officer. “I think you murdered the old man, chopped him up, buried him under the floorboards, and then thought you heard the sound of his beating heart.”

“Ha ha ha,” I chuckled. “How could such a preposterous scenario even enter your mind?”

“Well, you’re clearly a whack-a-doodle. I bet you killed him because he had a weird ear or a weird nose or a weird eyebrow or something.”

“Liar!” I shouted. “I did no such insane psychotic thing! Vacate my home at once!”

“Actually,” said the first officer, “now that you mention it, I did hear the sound of a heart beating before his outburst. I didn’t think much about it at the time.”

“Me too,” said the second officer. “I just figured he had a metronome.”

“I did hear a thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump,” said the third officer. “I assumed it was all in my head.”

Everybody looked at the spot underneath my chair.

“Oh, yeah,” said the first officer. “There’s totally a heartbeat coming from under there.”

“I admit the deed!” I shouted.

“We were totally making that up to see what you’d do,” said the first officer.

“Fudge!” I said.

The officers pried up the floorboards and removed the chunks of the old man. The first officer looked at his severed head and recoiled.

“Look at his eye! It’s a pale blue eye with a film over it—the eye of a vulture! It’s making my blood run cold!”

“That’s the worst eye I’ve ever seen,” said the second officer. “How could you stand to be around him with that thing looking at you all the time?”

The third officer choked back some bile before he spoke. “I would absolutely murder an old man who had an eye like that. That’s just plain wrong. It’s like it’s following me around.” He shuddered.

“I think we’re done here,” said the first officer. “It’s safe enough to say that you won’t claim any other victims, because nobody else’s eye could be that messed up.  Just try to keep the noise level down so we don’t have to come back, okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

The police officers left. That encounter would’ve gone better if I hadn’t confessed to murder, but still, it worked out okay in the end. So, dammit, stop saying that I am mad!

 

Copyright 2019 by Jeff Strand.

 

January 17

Woo-hoo! I can post on WordPress again! Which means I was able to update my Appearances page for 2020…

Scheduled 2020 Appearances…So Far…

February 7. Winter Park, Florida: Trinity Prep Author Festival34 authors will converge in the Trinity Prep library, causing all sorts of madness! Free and open to the public. 3:00 – 6:00 PM.

February 28. Houston, Texas. Alamo DrafthouseI’ll be doing a booksigning at this legendary movie theater, which is known for its incredible events AND for throwing your ass out if you talk or text during the movie! I got to choose the double feature, so it’s gonna be May and Tucker & Dale Vs. EvilTickets go on sale soon.

May 1-3. Indianapolis, Indiana. Mo*ConI’ll be a Special Guest (less than a Guest of Honor, but better than a Wretched Commoner) at this annual, intimate horror con run by Maurice Broaddus.

June 11-14. Kansas City, Missouri. HEAR Now FestivalHey, I’m emceeing the Independent Audiobook Awards for the third time! Did I use up all of my audiobook-themed jokes after year two? We’ll find out together!

July 16-19. Salem, Massachusetts. NeconWait, isn’t Necon in Rhode Island? Not anymore! It’s moved to a new venue for this, the 40th (!) anniversary. I’ll be emceeing the Infamous Necon Roast, and this year the victim could be….YOU!!!

July 30 – August 2. Williamsburg, Virginia. Scares That CareThis amazing charity horror convention returns for its 7th year. I’ll have a wide selection of books available for your purchasing ecstasy.

More to come…

The Movie Of The Book About The Movie!

I’ve been talking about writing a screenplay adaptation of one of my books. Now I can blab that the book was The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, which was optioned by Scott Winlaw and Craig George (who will be producing and directing together) of Binge Bros. Productions!

There’s an official press release and four pieces of concept art on their website. Check it out HERE.

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