November 18th

I’ve made a respectable dent in the packing process. Oh, I’m not anywhere CLOSE to being done, oh noooooo, but if the boxes in the kitchen fell over, I’m confident that they could flatten even a very large human.

The first two titles in my Gleefully Macabre line from Thunderstorm Books have shipped, and they look like this:

November 16th

Sent out a new issue of my newsletter today. If you’re not a subscriber, check it out here: https://mailchi.mp/cf7a5ce415c8/the-crazy-fun-of-moving

Today I began the actual task of packing for the move to Chattanooga. 10 boxes of books down. Many, many, many more to go. When we moved from Florida to Atlanta, I got rid of a MASSIVE number of books, and after transporting the ones that survived the purge it was still “How the hell did I acquire this many books?”

To any of you reading this who have had to move my books to a new home or apartment, I apologize.

November 14th

The wait isn’t over yet, but it’s over soon! The paperback and Kindle editions of Deathless will be available on November 30th! So you have a couple of weeks to read the first book, or refresh your memory!

You can pre-order the Kindle edition HERE. No pre-orders of the paperback edition, but the listing will probably go live sooner than the 30th, so stay tuned…

November 9th

Hey, it’s a Deathless unboxing video!

This guy is actually excited to receive the book. I was once part of a Rue Morgue mystery box, which included the exclusive chapbook version of My Werewolf Neighbor. Quite a few unboxing videos were posted, and it was amusing watching the lack of enthusiasm with which people discovered this particular treasure.

November 8th

Well, this past weekend I did the last of my personal appearances for 2021. I debuted my talk “Surviving the Writing Life” (the live presentation version of my book The Writing Life: Reflections, Recollections, and a Lot of Cursing) at the Atlanta Writers Conference. It was in two parts, and some people returned for the second part, so I’ll call it a success.

We may have our (rental) home in Chattanooga. If I’m understanding the situation correctly, we’re at the “Making sure your application is not a web of lies” stage, and once we get past that, they’ll send over the lease. And then the fun of moving to a new house begins, but it should be about 10% as bad as the hell on earth of the move from Tampa to Atlanta, so I’m not filled with feelings of dread.

As far as I know, the Earthling Publications limited edition of Deathless has been received by everybody who ordered it, unless their mail service sucks. The paperback and e-book edition will be available November 30th.

The Thunderstorm Books limited edition of Autumn Bleeds Into Winter is about to ship. Allison is next!

West Virginia Trip Report, Part 3!

We’d chosen The Fly-In Cafe for an early dinner, because it was extremely close to the Haunted Majestic and they were happy to accommodate a large group even if we were pains in the ass who arrived at different times. So Lynne Hansen, Bridgett Nelson, Jeremy Megargee, Damien Casey and I were joined by Paul Lubaczewski, Coy Hall, Paul and Lisa Synuria (who drove four hours to be there!), Cassandra Arnold and her daughter Kathleen (who flew from Arizona!), and Tammy Larch-Letart. The food was good. The company was even better. The weather…ummm…

Then it was time for the big event! We headed over to the Haunted Majestic and set up our tables, joining fellow authors RJ Roles and Linley Marcum. We got to meet Dana Tomes, who was Bridgett’s point person in setting everything up for this event. Nothing could go wrong, except for the fact that it had been raining all day. But surely a cold, rainy, muddy night wouldn’t keep the crowds away!

Okay, fine. The cold, rainy, muddy night kept the crowds away, and attendance was far below what it had been just the previous day. We still had a great time, especially with bonus appearances by Eugene Johnson (and his daughter Hannah) and Michael Knost! Lynne had made a special print just for this event, with all proceeds going to Little Victories Animal Rescue, and she was able to donate $160 to the cause.

Of course, we weren’t going to be there and NOT go through the haunted house part! I’d assumed the entire thing took place on the ship, but there was a fairly substantial outdoor portion as well, and plenty o’ scares were had. Oh, but the REAL fun began after the event was over, when several of us participated in the Ghost Hunt!

Basically, we went on a tour of the Haunted Majestic for about half an hour, learning about the various spoooooky occurrences that had happened on the ship, and then were set loose for an hour. We didn’t care about the ghost hunt element–we just liked being able to roam freely around a haunted attraction! I mean, c’mon!

When the ghost hunt ended, we staggered back to our automobiles after a long but amazing day.

SUNDAY

We sadly packed the car. Bridgett’s husband Doug showed up to pick her up, and we drove to our farewell breakfast, engulfed by feelings of woe.

I mean, the woe was offset a bit by the extremely high quality of the chicken and waffles, but still…

No, wait. We couldn’t end the weekend yet. Bridgett had purchased some coonskin hats for a photo op, but we’d forgotten about them, so it was time for a quick return trip to Hillbilly Hot Dogs…

And NOW it was time to leave.

Ten minutes later, we got a flat tire. Because there was nowhere to pull over, I had to drive on it for a couple of minutes until there was a safe place to stop, by which time the tire looked like…

Okay, so, we weren’t leaving West Virginia quite yet. Fortunately, rather than being trapped in West Virginia to this very day, we did get the car towed and a new tire put on. It was a bummer end to the trip, but at least it was at the end of the trip–it would’ve been infinitely worse if it had happened sooner!

And then we made the long drive home.

Thanks to Bridgett for inviting us and setting this whole thing up. Thanks to everybody who hung out with us. Thanks to the West Virginia roads for destroying my tire and allowing me to post a picture that had lots of interaction on social media.

My next adventure is this weekend………..but it’s, like, 14 miles away for the Atlanta Writers Conference, where I’ll be giving a talk on “Surviving the Writing Life.”

West Virginia Trip Report, Part 2!

FRIDAY (Continued)

With the television interview complete and hot dogs consumed, it was time to just chill out at the hotel for a while, because we had a long evening of haunted houses planned! The first stop for me, Lynne Hansen, Bridgett Nelson, and Jeremy Megargee was Fallsburg Fearplex, which has four different haunts. Normally I’m not a fan of the “pay extra to skip the lines” model, being a cheap bastard, but we only had a five-hour window to work with, so we bought the fast-passes and got to cruise through all of the awesome haunted houses back to back.

We posed for some photos and utterly failed at the game of “toss the brain into the open cranium.” And we made a large bony new friend.

Then we were off to the next haunted house, Twelvepole Manor. The drive there involved a long winding spooky road. It had a speed limit of 55 MPH, but I’m not sure how anybody could maintain that speed without careening off the road and plummeting into parts dark and unknown.

Our arrival was kind of eerie because you parked at the top of a hill, and when you looked down you were clearly in the right place but it looked abandoned. Presumably the online reviews would have noted if Twelvepole Manor was merely a front for kidnapping and torturing the guests, but we didn’t have a great feeling about it. Fortunately, as we headed down the hill we saw a large group of smiling happy people emerging, and we could relax in the knowledge that we probably wouldn’t be appearing on any menus.

The haunted house was great, and we got deep fried Oreos afterward. Bridgett had never tried them, and now her life is much richer.

Two for two! Fear on the Farm was an hour away, but it came highly recommended, so we drove to that one. Why, it could be the best one yet! The highlight of the trip! The greatest haunted house we’d ever walked through! So amazing that we might never want to leave!

Pretty much as soon as you walk into the haunted house, you have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl through a tunnel. It had been raining most of the day and there was a lot of mud, so it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Later, you had to crawl through a hearse, through which a great many wet and muddy people had crawled. At one point, a guy waved a horse’s head on a stick in our faces and said we couldn’t pass until we kissed the horse head. We wouldn’t want to be the 937th person to kiss the horse head under normal circumstances, and we’re still kind of, y’know, in a pandemic. We made it very clear that we would not be kissing any horse heads that evening and were finally allowed to pass.

We returned to the car in reeking clothing but made it a point not to blame anybody for this adventure, except Bridgett, since it was all her fault.

SATURDAY

Mothman Museum! Woooooo!!! Here we were joined by author Damien Casey.

The gift shop alone would’ve been worth the trip, but the museum was also a lot of fun. Outside, we posed for a picture with the famous Mothman statue. You can’t see it in this picture, but the Mothman has a remarkable ass. You can’t help but wonder about his exercise regimen.

We walked over to the place that had Mothman-themed ice cream sundaes…and it was closed! We wailed in misery! It wasn’t fair! As we wept and consoled each other, Damien said that there was a place called I Scream Sundaes about half an hour away. We had time. We leapt into the car and sped off.

I Scream Sundaes is a horror-themed ice cream place that has a gigantic selection of movie-inspired sundaes. So there’s a Killer Klowns From Outer Space sundae with candy and popcorn and bubblegum, Sharknado, Cabin in the Woods, and many, many more. I got the Texas Chainsaw Massacre sundae that had strawberry ice cream and doughnuts. If this place was local, I’d weigh 850 pounds.

After showering praise upon Damien for his exquisite recommendation, we staggered out of there, full of sundaes, and returned to the hotel to prepare for the main attraction: our event at the Haunted Majestic. Yes, there’s much more of the Saturday report to come!

To be continued…

Part Three link: https://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/west-virginia-trip-report-part-3/

West Virginia Trip Report, Part 1!

Earlier this year, author Bridgett Nelson asked if Lynne Hansen and I would be willing to travel to Huntington, West Virginia (we’re in Atlanta, Georgia) for the inaugural live event of the newly formed Horror Writers Association: WV chapter. It was going to be a signing at the Haunted Majestic, a haunted house on a moored WWII medical ship. The answer, of course, was “Um, YEAH!!!” The event was Saturday, October 30th, but we decided to turn it into a full vacation and go up a few days early.

WEDNESDAY

We got up bright and early and made the drive with no issues whatsoever. (Spoiler Warning: This was not the case for the return trip.) Much of the drive was through Kentucky, so of course we had lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Due to our precision coordinating, we got to the hotel only a couple of minutes after Bridgett and her family arrived, where I was forced to pretend that I cared as much about seeing the humans as I did about seeing Bridgett’s pug Bodhi. He’s a good boy. Yes, he is! Yes, he is!

Bridgett’s family departed, sadly taking Bodhi with them, and we went to Stuart’s Hot Dogs, where we got the delicious “Six For $6” special. (Don’t worry–we divided the six hot dogs amongst us.) We also went to get ice cream, but the weird-sounding “grape pineapple” flavor was disappointingly lacking in both grape and pineapple flavor.

Then we met author Jason Keene as we ventured into The LOST Escape Room. They had a serial killer themed room, but it was a 4.5/5 difficulty level. Bridgett and Jason had never done an escape room before, while Lynne and I have always failed, so instead we went with the 3/5 “Shine” room, where you’re trying to steal the moonshine recipe from the family you’re feudin’ with.

We did not embarrass ourselves. Progress was made. Did we escape? No. Did we almost escape? No. It definitely didn’t help that I was out of the loop for about twenty minutes (you had an hour) trying to work this $%#@& puzzle requiring manual dexterity, and even when the TV screen that gives you clues played an actual VIDEO of how to do it, I struggled. Ultimately, I succeeded, but I wasn’t there for my teammates during that challenging time, and for that I am sorry.

The faces of failure

We retreated to a bar to drown our sorrows, where I discovered to my shock and amazement that I (who generally loathe all alcoholic beverages) actually liked my tiny sip of an amaretto sour. But I was doing the driving and thus did not chug a dozen of ’em.

THURSDAY

After having burgers for lunch, author Jeremy Megargee arrived and so Bridgett, Lynne, Jeremy and I were off to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum! (Presumably it would have a different name if it were built in 2021.) It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, but when you’re trapped in a car with other creative types the conversation never gets boring.

We stopped at a place called Appalachian Oddities that was indeed jam-packed with oddities. They also had an escape room, but alas our schedule didn’t offer us the opportunity for redemption. We went on the Criminally Insane tour, because of course we did, and learned lots of fun and horrific facts. Then we went through the museum, where one room was screening a vintage How-To film on performing lobotomies. There was a great deal of cringing and going “Aaahhh!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!!”

We left the asylum long enough for some perfectly adequate barbecue, then returned for their Delirium Haunted House, which was outstanding. Most haunted houses tend to be a random mix of scenes, but this one was entirely committed (heh) to the asylum theme, and the actors were fully dedicated to their roles. If they were actors…

FRIDAY

Time to look professional! We were off to WSAZ Channel 3 News to do a live television interview with Taylor Eaton about our Haunted Majestic appearance!

You can watch it right HERE.

With our professional duties completed, it was finally time for the trip I’d so eagerly awaited to…Hillbilly Hot Dogs. This place is everything you could want from an establishment called Hillbilly Hot Dogs and sooooooo very much more. It’s not just a meal. It’s an experience. We ate our dogs in a run-down, graffiti-covered bus.

There was much more fun in store for Friday. To be continued…

Part Two Link: https://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/2021/11/02/west-virginia-trip-report-part-2/

October 26th

Copies of the Earthling Publications hardcover limited edition of Deathless have started showing up in happy people’s mailboxes! Earthling sent out a newsletter about the process of making it look like a proper companion piece to their Pressure limited edition from 15 years ago, inside and out.

Though a paperback and e-book edition are forthcoming in a few weeks, the collector’s edition will almost certainly sell out today. This is your last chance to get a copy HERE.

Tomorrow I’m driving up to West Virginia, to enjoy the mountains for a few days before my appearance at the Haunted Majestic. I’ll be there, along with a dozen other horror authors and cover artist Lynne Hansen, from 7:00 – 11:00 PM on Saturday, October 30th. Remember, the haunted house is in a two-story World War II medical ship! Get all the details at their official website.

Finished up a story called “First Date,” and with that I have cleared out all of my short story commitments until March 15th, 2022! [Insert joyous cackle here.]

October 23

It’s here! The hardcover limited edition of Deathless (the sequel to Pressure) from Earthling Publications!

Only a few copies remain, and there’s usually a surge in orders after a collector’s edition starts shipping, so get your copy HERE!

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