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Where New Pulp Lives! And from Time to Time...Dies!

Friday, October 24, 2014

On Paperbacks and Childhood Dreams of Being a Writer

That's a pretty heavy-handed blog title but it does accurately reflect my feelings.  You see, I got these in the mail the other day:

Now this ain't my first rodeo when it comes to seeing my name on a physical book I've written and published by someone not me.  My first book, Blood Spring, came out in 2010 from Bad Moon Books.  It was a lovely trade paperback with original art by Jill Bauman.  The first hardcover was a super limited edition of Demon from Bad Moon Books.  In both instances, it was a profoundly cool and deeply humbling experience to see my work in a format I had, up to those points, only hoped to one day see.

Yet they weren't knock you out experiences.  Don't ask me why.  I was happy but ultimately I moved on to the next thing (the next thing being the unfortunate task of me begging others to buy the books).  And don't get me started on e-books.  I like them, but it is incredibly hard to build a tactile and sensory nostalgia with whatever preferred electronic reading device you use.

I guess that's what it boils down to: a tactile and sensory nostalgia.  I grew up reading mass market paperbacks.  My folks had a bookshelf at the top of the stairs pretty much dedicated to paperbacks.  I used to pull them off and just stare at the covers, imagining what they were about.  Dad had a lot of horror and sci-fi books.  I loved the art on those covers.  I used to draw a lot back then.  I was considered "gifted" for my age, whatever that means.  And what I used to draw a lot of were copies of covers.  Comic books at first but eventually paperbacks.  So I'd draw and start to imagine what the heck were the stories behind those covers.

Eventually, when I was in fourth grade, I finally cracked the covers and started reading.  The first book, Christine by Stephen King.  The cover to the movie tie-in.  You know, this one:

There was something strangely cool about that cover.  I remember thinking it was the ghost of a car haunting people, vice a sentient evil car that just likes to kill.

This one scared the hell out of me for some reason.  Of course, it never stopped me from looking at it:

And of course, this on just creeped me out.

I asked what it was about.  Vampires I was told.  My mom would then dutifully tell me it scared the hell out of her and she'd never read Stephen King again.

I was hooked.  And for good reason.  Mass market paperbacks boiled those covers down to emotion.  They had to lure you and hook you, even if the cover didn't match what you actually would end up reading inside.  Hardbacks work on the author's name selling it.  Trade paperbacks tend to be more "artsy" (which is fine).  But MMP, well, that's the stuff of pulp.

As time moved on, I shifted from drawing to writing.  I didn't think about getting published in some cool magazine or how great it would be to land a fantastic agent (still not represented, for any agents out there).  I didn't daydream of bookshelves line with my works.  I did daydream about being a bestseller and rolling around in a bed covered in c-notes, but don't we all?  No, the main thing I dreamed about was eventually holding a mass market paperback of my work with my name on it.

That day has come.

So when my book showed up this week in MMP format, well, I was just tickled pink.  I held it.  I sniffed it (not ashamed to admit that).  I flipped through it.

For the first time, I felt like the author I dreamed of becoming all those years ago.

I've been writing since I was young.  I've been writing for publication since 2005.  But earlier this week, I felt like I'd arrived.

Thank you, HarperCollins (and my wonderful editor, Kelly O'Connor), for taking a chance on me and helping me fulfill a dream.

End of the Week Wrap-Up

So this week I guest blogged at author Nicholas Kaufmann's site as part of his continuing series The Scariest Part.  I talked about fear and personal experience and how they both fed into the writing of Demon.

I did a Q&A with My Bookish Ways.  Still TBD on when it will go up on the site.  Trust me, I'll let you know as soon as it does.

I also wrote guest blogs for The Skiffy and Fanty Show as well as SF Signal.  Again, TBD on when they'll go up.  Stay tuned.

Lastly, I received two advanced copies of the mass market paperback for Demon.  I think I'm gonna do a separate post on how awesome it was to received those.

Of course, if you're interested in picking up a copy of Demon in e-book or paperback format, hit the link at the top of the page that says DEMON and it'll take you to a page with a buffet of purchase options.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quick Movie Review - The Counselor

People get head.

People get beheaded.

People die in other ways.

Something about drugs.

But the whole thing that starts it off with a scummy lawyer (our main character) who decides to get into the drug trade so he can afford to buy a really expensive engagement ring for his girlfriend.

And why are we supposed to care about any of these characters?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Talking Demon at The Scariest Part

Today I'm guest blogging over at author Nicholas Kaufmann's site.  He does a recurring feature called The Scariest Part in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tall about what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense.

My topic?  Why Demon of course.

Hop on over and check it out.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 12 - Break

Another break but for good reason: all day smoking a 10 lb pork shoulder really takes it out of you.  Then eating eat?  Well, not all 10 lbs but a good chunk. Yeah, I caught the coma train early.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 11 - Demon Knight

Ah, a good one.  I loved me some Tales from the Crypt growing up (in my mind, nothing tops Chop Poker).  The gore, the humor, always fun.  This flick completely embraces and personifies that same spirit (unlike the other Tales movies).

Plus it's got a good cast.  A pretty awesome one, actually.

And Billy Zane.  Ah, Billy, Billy, Billy.  He's a cool dude.

Overall, fun to revisit this one.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 10 - Event Horizon

Cool sci-fi cosmic horror with a good cast.  I saw this movie years ago and remember thinking it was pretty decent.  Upon this rewatch, I'm not sure what to think.  Probably because I fell asleep thirty minutes into it.

That being said, the wife unit quit watching it about an hour in because it was freaky and I was asleep.  So there's that.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 9 - The Woman in Black

Back on the horse and watching horror flicks.  For now.

So, last night we fell on The Woman in Black.  Imagine my surprise when I realized it didn't star Gene Wilder or hot Kelly LeBrock and a terrible '80s soundtrack.


Hey!  A throwback, old-fashioned horror movie!  Yeah!

Sort of.

I mean, it was well done and it had it's cool creepy moments.  I'm all for subtly and build-up.  No, it was the logic that bugged me.

If you live in a town where you constantly fear for the lives of your kids because some maniac ghost might make them commit suicide and claim their immortal soul so it won't be lonely in the afterlife or some shit, my advice, move the fuck away.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 7 and 8 - The Trilogy of Fail is Complete

So, no movies since Sunday.  Again, getting over being sick.  Then the wife got sick.  Then we just didn't feel like it so we watched an old episode of The Prisoner instead and that was better than any horror movie we've watched so far.

I'm starting to think we should shift to horror shows and maybe knock out a season of American Horror Story or Walking Dead.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Great Big Thank You and Some Requests

Well, it's been one week since DEMON was re-released from HarperVoyagerImpulse as a spiffy new e-book.  I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for the support and if you picked up a copy, double thanks!

To be honest with you, I'm not sure how its sales are doing.  Each merchant's algos are a little weird so it's hard to track.  I will say, from my experience the last year, and what I've heard from others, e-books sales are down quite a bit (unless you're HUGE).

I'd also hoped to have a blog tour arranged by now but that's still is being arranged by the publicity team at HarperCollins.

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, if you like my stuff and haven't picked up a copy, it would be a big boost if you did.  E-book sales tend to feed on momentum.  The higher the sales rank, the more people see it, the more people buy it.  Call it the velocity of money, if you will.  People tend to chase the popular.

If e-books are not your thing, you can pre-order the paperback.

The more popular the book, the more I sell, the more likely you'll see more books in this universe I've created.

That's, of course, if you like this universe.

Also, reviews help a lot, too.  If you've got an Amazon account (or equivalent on other platforms) and don't mind leaving a review, it's greatly appreciated.  Even if it's only a ranking on Goodreads, it is still appreciated all the same.

Finally, if you know people that like books that combine horror and military thrillers, point them in my direction.

All the different ways to pick up a copy can be found on the DEMON page, clickable there at the top of the blog.  Or by clicking here.

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 6 - First Fail

So we didn't watch a horror flick last night.  Yeah, I know.  But hey, I was sick and we were both tired.  So there's that.

Instead, we watched a couple of episodes of Portlandia and got our laugh on instead.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 5 -The Lords of Salem

Part of me thinks this was an interesting attempt at a movie.  Certainly the most mature of Zombie's work.  What it lacks is a reason to care.  About anything going on.

In addition, by the end, I was wondering if Zombie was just doing his best to reach into the mind of the viewers and fuck them up.  There's a fine line between entertainment and sacrilege.  The more I reflect on it, that more I think it falls into the latter.

On a lighter note, Sam Strange delivers a far better and funnier review.  Check it out.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 4 - The Believers

Hey, I dig freaky-deaky cult films that involve weird religious, upper class assholes, and murder.  It's what made the first season of True Detective so awesome.  However, the same cannot be said for 1987's The Believers.

Again, this isn't a terrible movie.  It's just, well, you've already seen the best parts of it, done better, in flicks like The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, and Angel Heart.  You get a decent cast, led by Martin Sheen, some intriguing subtle violence, and Jimmy Smits going insane and stabbing himself to death because he thinks he has serpents in his belly.

Oh, and you get angry Robert Loggia.  That's always a plus.

However, the rest...meh.  Predictable.  Overly even-toned.  Yet the even-toneness is in reference to the two sides of Santeria.  Yet never do they address the two-sides of race that practice this religion.  Which makes all feel awkward and false.

Oh, and they keep talking about Catholicism but hey, no priests.  Or anything else.

Some nudity but not worth watching it for.

I will say I did like the big party where all the rich yuppies are smoking cigars because that's what the gods like.  It's stuff like that that makes this weird cult shit interesting.  More of that and less trying to impersonate the worst of The Omen sequels please.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thirty-One Days of Horror Films Day 3 - Creature from the Black Lagoon

A classic that is fun to give the MST3K treatment as you watch it.  Kept getting a big Lost Skeleton of Cadavra vibe while watching.  Maybe because everyone kept referring to the need to do science,  to not interfere while I'm sciencing, and such.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Excerpt from DEMON

Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of DEMON.  Click on the cover if you want to purchase to read the rest.

“I got a work stoppage here,” Hank Prince yelled into his cellphone as two US Army Apache helicopters buzzed overhead en route to An Nasiriyah. 
“What?” Jameson yelled on the other end. “You’re almost done with that branch.”
“╩╗Almost’ don’t mean shit in this case. One of the backhoes dug up the entrance to some goddamn tomb three hours ago.”
“Tomb? Big deal. Move the stiffs and get your ass back on schedule.”
Hank rubbed his forehead. “A tomb, a crypt, a buried temple. I don’t know what the fuck it is exactly, but it’s got the government pukes all kinds of spun up.”
“Why’d you dig it up then?”
“We found it by accident, damn it. It’s twenty feet below the desert and right where the T section is supposed to go. And no, ground penetrating didn’t show shit. Right now, I’m losing two man-hours for every hour of standstill, Jameson, and I can’t afford a standstill.”
 “I can’t either, or did you forget who pays your salary? Who stopped you?”
“The Department of Antiquities shut us down hard.”
“Why are they involved?”
“Because we’re close to some place called Ur. Anywhere near an ancient site and they have to be involved.”
“And there’s no way around it?”
“All I can dig is one hundred feet to either side, but we’re screwed if we can’t get the T section in place, and the tomb is in the damn way.”
Jameson yelled and Hank could almost picture his boss’s jowls jiggling and spit flying. He’d seen the reaction dozens of times before. Hank tuned him out after the fifth expletive, his attention lingering instead on the growing excavation under the tall Ingersoll Rand towers pumping out eight thousand watts of light. Government officials had already come and cordoned off the pit with yellow caution tape and left, with the exception of one person. Control of the site now rested in the hands of the lead archeologist from the Department of Antiquities.
Hank shifted his gaze and chewed on the inside of his cheek. In the east, the first rays of sunlight crested the horizon. Another hot one on the way: no doubt about it.
“Look,” Hank said, “I didn’t bury the fucking thing, and I sure as hell didn’t mean to find it. Just pray it’s the burial place of some fifth-century nobody and not Gilgamesh’s tomb because if it is, this branch of the sewer line ain’t ever getting done.”
Hank hung up and swore under his breath. He hated cross-global leadership, especially when the asshole in charge was sitting in an air-conditioned office in Houston without any idea of the ground here. The whole situation was screwed up beyond his control. Dealing with pencil pushers like Jameson was the last thing he needed right now.
He slipped the cell phone into his pocket and looked at the pit. Around it stood Hank’s third shift of diggers and fitters, doing nothing and getting paid for it. He took a deep breath of desert air and thought of contingency plans. All he could come up with was busy work and figured it was better than accomplishing nothing.
“Get the southern line prepped.” Hank’s voice rose with each word. “And get the interceptors staged. This job won’t be on hold forever.”
The diggers and pipe fitters started moving, but not fast enough.
“Let’s go!” Hank clapped and stomped around the hole, shooing people to work. Satisfied his workers finally got the picture, Hank walked to the edge of the pit. At the bottom stood the government archeologist, next to the slab. The man who’d shut him down without a moment of hesitation.
“Well,” Hank said, “how we looking, Nouri?”
Nouri al-Hasad craned his head, his dark eyes glinting with what Hank thought was pure joy. “This is amazing.”
“Don’t look so happy. How long?”
“Ten days, at least.”
“You got to be shitting me.” Hank knew Nouri from a previous dig when they’d uncovered a mass grave near Baghdad. The guy had never been anything but serious. A pure academic nerd with no sense of Western humor. If he said ten days, he meant it. “I don’t have that kind of time.”
Nouri smiled. “We need to be careful with this find. I have never seen anything like it before.”
“It’s a stone slab covering a tomb. Big deal.”
Nouri climbed a ladder out of the pit. Fast. Like a monkey scaling limbs to the top of a tree. His spry frame stood next to Hank a moment later. He pointed at the slab, hand trembling. Then Hank noticed his whole body had a slight tremor moving up and down it.
“It is not stone.”
“Sure as hell looks like stone to me.”
“I assure you it is not.”
Hank frowned. “Well then what the hell is it? Metal?”
“I do not know. And I have never seen the language carved on the surface. With its proximity to Ur, I hope for your sake more is not under there. This could be just the tip of . . . how do you say . . . the ice cube.”
“Oh, yes, that is it.” Nouri held a small carving the size of his palm in his latex-gloved hand. “And look at this. Remarkable.”
Hank shrugged. It was the front profile of some beast’s maw with long fangs. “Looks like the carving of a wolf’s head.”
“Not a wolf.”
“Then what?”
“I do not know.”
Hank shook his head. “Look, I got a deadline, Nouri. You know, to get sanitation up and running in this armpit.”
Nouri chuckled. It was the first time Hank had ever heard him laugh, and it caused Hank’s blood pressure to bump up.
“I see your affection for my country has not changed,” Nouri said.
“I got two daughters I miss, a son who needs his ass kicked, and a wife who has earned a big old pickle tickle. I care about them and the money I get if I finish this job on time. I make it happen, and I get to go home, see them, and then get another job making more money. Your mysterious nonstone and unknown language are costing my wallet some weight and my wife some loving.”
Nouri laughed even more. “Yes, but you have something truly priceless down there.”
“I’m glad everything I say is suddenly funny.”
“Think of the story you will tell your children.”
“Oh, sure, I can see it now. My kids sitting around the fire as I describe the amazing tomb that cost them their college tuition.” Hank kicked sand into the hole. “My time is worth more than that fucking slab and whatever’s underneath it.”
Hank stuffed his hands in his pockets and closed his eyes. “You’re sure it’ll take at least ten days?”
“And there’s nothing you can do for me? Can’t look the other way just this once?”
Nouri shook his head.
Hank looked from the pit to Nouri and back. “Shit!”
“I am sorry, Mr. Prince.”
“Yeah.” Hank’s voice was softer, accepting defeat. “Me, too.”
The ground trembled, shifting the sand and causing his feet to sink about half an inch. Hank turned from Nouri to see a flatbed backing toward the pit. Loaded on it was the big T section for the sewer line.
“Hey,” Hank yelled at the guy signaling the truck to back up. “It’s not going in. Get it off-site.”
As the flatbed backed, the signalman put his hands up to brake and then gestured to pull forward. When the driver shifted into drive, the rear right tires dug into the ground and spun. The driver gunned the engine, spinning the wheels faster and digging the flatbed in deeper. Sand flew in broad arcs into the pit.
The signalman yelled and waved his arms for the driver to stop. Hank took a step toward the flatbed, ready to chew some ass, when the ground around the rear wheels buckled and sank a few feet.
Before Hank could move any farther, the sunken earth collapsed another four feet and then split. Tremors knocked Hank off balance and to his knees as a crevice opened in the desert, racing like a snake from the back of the flatbed to the pit. The truck teetered for a moment before the back dropped into the new fissure. The chains holding the T section stretched taught, and one of them snapped, cracking like thunder.
A chain link the size of a man’s fist screamed over Hank’s head and collided with something soft and wet. Hank glanced over his shoulder. Nouri was on the ground, his body twitching and pumping blood, turning the sand crimson. The link had ripped the right side of his forehead off. Skull and brain jutted away from his smashed cranium.
Hank took two steps toward Nouri when his workers yelled to run away. He turned back in time to see the other chains snap. Hank dove onto his chest but didn’t take his eyes off the pipe, even as another link sliced the air overhead. The T section rocked, tilted, and fell into the crevice, sliding toward the pit on a wave of sand. The massive weight carried it over the edge. It fell in what seemed like slow motion. The bottom of the T struck the slab covering the tomb a moment later. What sounded like concrete snapping rose up and reverberated throughout the site.
Hank pushed up and once again tried to get to Nouri, praying silently the poor bastard was still alive. As he did, his stomach cramped and his chest tightened. He dropped to his knees, attempting to breathe but failing to force air into his lungs. It was like a ton of weight pressed on him, concentrating directly on his sternum. Then his vision quit and he saw only black.
Just as quickly, the pressure on his chest eased. Hank sucked in a mouthful of air just before his muscles started twitching. Rocking over onto his side, he broke into convulsions, foam frothing out of his mouth. His insides burned.
Images of his wife and children flashed in his mind. They melted in fire and smoke. They screamed and stabbed each other with kitchen knives. The kids ripped flesh from their mother’s arms and legs with their teeth.
The convulsions stopped; his muscles relaxed. The fire abated within. Hank managed shallow breaths as the grotesque images dissolved. He started to think the pain had subsided when a headache hit him so hard he screamed. His fists clenched sand and his back arched toward heaven.
Then the pain faded. The headache retreated as fast as it had attacked. His vision returned, the pale light of the moon above fighting with the light of the towers. Everything seemed still and quiet.

Until he heard the screams...