Posts Tagged ‘Codorus Press’

horrorWell, it’s been a long haul. Been dealing with some stuff. (See last blog entry.) But somewhere in there, the Oct. 31 release date for my short story collection, “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take Requests,” crept up on me. So I guess now’s as good a time as any to blow the dust off this blog and post something. A while back, I found some two-sentence horror stories on the web. Here’s an example:

“The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.”

Here are some more.

Since then, I’ve made kind of a Halloween tradition of posting my own two-sentence horror stories every year. This is the 2016 edition. Be forewarned. Bone-chilling terror awaits:

  • “Don’t apologize to me for your foul mouth,” my new cubicle-mate says. “Apologize to Jesus.”
  • A new congressman is elected in your district. InfoWars endorsed him.
  • “I’ll be here for the next four weeks,” the contractor says. “Have you heard the one about the two blacks and a Jew in the gay bar?”
  • Your daughter says things are getting serious with her boyfriend. He has a “9/11 Was an Inside Job” bumper sticker on his car.
  • “We’ll get started in just a minute,” the woman at the front of the room says. “But first, we have a fun team-building exercise for you.”
  • I hand her my phone to show her the picture I just took. She starts scrolling through the rest of my pictures.
  • “Welcome to ’90s night!” the DJ says. “Who remembers the Macarena?”

 

I’m excited about the coming weekend. I’ll be attending the 9th Annual Western Maryland Independent Lit Festival in Frostburg, Md. I’ve gone for the past couple of years and it’s always a very rewarding experience. I get to meet some very talented authors and publishers, exchange ideas and network.

I’m particularly psyched this time around, because I’ll get to do a reading from my upcoming short story collection, “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take No Requests.” I’ll also be selling advance copies, as well as copies of my 2013 novel, “The Freak Foundation Operative’s Report.”

Joining me at the Codorus Press table will be Wayne Lockwood, author of “Acid Indigestion Eyes,” and Scott Pruden, author of “Immaculate Deception.”

http://www.frostburg.edu/cla/indie-lit-festival/

Well, I had a great time representing Codorus Press at the Western Md. Independent Lit Festival at Frostburg State University this past weekend. Got to hang out with a few of my favorite authors, such as Gerry LaFemina, and some of my favorite publishers, such as Bill Olver of Big Pulp. Also walked away with a few new favorite authors, including Bram Stoker Award-winner Michael Arnzen. I got to sit in on a panel discussion with Michael about speculative fiction, and it was a lot of fun. An informal atmosphere and a smart, friendly audience turned it into quite a lively discussion.

As an added bonus, I picked up Michael’s new novel titled “Play Dead.” I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I’m already impressed. Look for a forthcoming review.

Much as I enjoy all the book festivals I attend for Codorus Press, the Indie Lit Festival has a special place in my heart. The vibe isn’t about selling books, so much as participating in an event by and for people who really love books.

The cool thing about sitting in on panels is that it makes you think about what you do as a writer, and sometimes things occur to you that might not have otherwise. On the speculative fiction panel discussion, a young lady asked us why horror, fantasy and science fiction are grouped together under the classification “speculative fiction.”I’d really never thought about it before. And in answering, I realized for the first time what’s always drawn me to those three genres.

I told her the common denominator of horror, science fiction and fantasy is that they all deal with something outside the reader’s everyday life. Maybe something possible. Maybe something completely outlandish. But all three genres make a point out of taking the reader to new realms of existence and experience, and showing how characters deal with them.

And really, I think that’s what we should all be doing with our lives in one way or another. Constantly introducing new elements and new experiences that negate our previous conceptions of what’s possible and what isn’t.

Oh yeah. Michael took a picture of me striking a writerly pose. I couldn’t track down a tweed jacket or pipe on short notice, but here it is.

writer

 

clamorThere are plenty of things I like in Gerry LaFemina’s novel “Clamor,” which is the story of a 39-year-old punk rocker going home for his father’s funeral. But it’s one of those books that I like just as much for what’s not in it. More on that presently.

When I was reading it, I found myself remembering a question that a black friend of mine once asked me more than a decade ago. Why don’t white people respect older musicians?

I told her that I don’t think that’s true. These days, older musicians such as Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello are regarded more as revered elder statesmen than creaky relics. But I could see where she was coming from.

In thinking of the musicians that white people are into, she was probably thinking of rock stars. (And for the time being, I’m not going to go into the oversimplified but certainly not meritless assertion that white people simply appropriated rock music from black people. That’s a big can of worms.) And the template for rock stars was forged, with some overlap in adjacent decades, in the youth-obsessed 1960s.

I remember a time not so long ago (By my standards. I’m no spring chicken myself.) when the mere act of getting older was considered a kind of failing on the part of rock musicians.

Back in 1989 when the Rolling Stones were on their Steel Wheels tour, a lot of my peers were making dismissive cracks about “Steel Wheelchairs.” As if the fact that the Stones were in their 40s — their freakin 40s! — meant they were far too old and decrepit to continue their careers, and it was pathetic of them to even try. I can’t see anybody harboring that attitude toward a painter or a writer. Or a classical musician, for that matter. (more…)

I had a great time this past weekend at Enigma Bookstore in Astoria, N.Y., at a panel discussion with fellow Codorus Press authors Wayne Lockwood, author of Acid Indigestion Eyes: Collected Essays and Musings on Generation X and Alex Segura, author of Silent City. First off, the bookstore was really cool. They specialize in science fiction, fantasy and mystery. You could just tell by browsing the selection that the owners have a genuine love for — and excellent taste in — the aforementioned genres. It’s the type of bookstore I’d make a roadtrip just to visit. And I really enjoyed sitting on the panel and talking about writing with Wayne and Alex, too. It was funny. We got so engrossed in our talk that somebody had to remind us — hey, you guys might want to sell some books, as long as you’re here.

One element of our discussion that I found particularly interesting was a conversation about how a story comes together. This mainly had to do with fiction. And while “Acid Indigestion Eyes” is nonfiction, Wayne is currently working on a novel so he was able to share some insights as well.

While I’d read and admired “Silent City” (see my review here), Alex and I had never met or discussed the writing process before. So I found it interesting that he also experienced a phenomenon I encountered numerous times when I was writing The Freak Foundation Operative’s Report. It’s the moment when my characters did something I hadn’t expected. And the book took a turn that made me say: “Whoah! Didn’t see THAT coming!” That was kind of unnerving, since I was WRITING the freakin thing! (more…)

Old Mrs. MacNamara used to live down the street where I grew up, and the kids all loved to hear her talk about the superstitions from her native Ireland. Never butter a slice of toast when it’s raining outside, lest you bring bad luck down upon your house. Leave a saucer of milk outside on the night of a new moon as an offering to the wee folk, lest they bedevil your dreams and tie knots in your hair at night. Close your eyes every time you walk past a sewer grate, lest the Screaming Purple Monkey Man climb out, burrow through your eye sockets and eat your brain. Later, we found out those weren’t really Irish superstitions. She just did a lot of acid.

I’ll be in York, Pa., tonight, promoting The Freak Foundation Operative’s Report. I’m doing a reading, book signing and TV interview at the York Emporium, 343 W. Market St. If you’re in town, feel free to come by and heckle me.