Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Communications in omlette form?

What my wife said:
"Your Caps destroyed the Devils last night. YaY!!!"

How I interpreted that statement:
"An inability or unwillingness to remove the cap lock on the keyboard resulted in an exorcism or inadvertent slaying of some satanic being over the evening."

Apparently, she was talking about a hockey match wherein the club from Washington scored more baskets than the ne'er do wells of New Jersey.

Gotta love the flexibility of language and the gap between intended message and received message.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Maudlin Look at Days Dead and Gone

I don't know why this took so long to write, maybe because it took so long to really and truly kick in.

It isn't a secret, by now; to any fan of horror literature that Dorchester Publishing's horror line (Leisure Horror) has fallen on hard times. They have pulled out of the mass market business and plan on only releasing trade paperbacks and e-books. I certainly won't knock either approach, especially since printed words are destined to be a very niche market as ereaders proliferate and cheapen but it still makes me incredibly sad to see.

You see, dear friends and neighbors, Leisure was my introduction into the horror that I truly adore now. Without their covers leering at me during eight hour mindless slogs in a Kroger photo lab, I never would have discovered the likes of Tom Piccirilli, Gerard Houarner, Jack Ketchum, Charlee Jacob, Gary Braunbeck, Dick Laymon, etc. etc. If I had never discovered them, then I would not have been pulled into the dark tunnels of the independent horror publishers in search of more of their stuff. This, in turn would have deprived me of the huge, ghastly and gorgeous surprises that have lit up my life over the years. I never would have known there was such a thing as the Hardcore movement or met a lively dead cat with a penchant for unvirtuous living. My library would suck!

This loss means a lot to many writers who would never have had the opportunities they currently possess, but it means as much to me as a fan. This is a loss to the art itself, a loss to the horror community. Without a mass market publisher willing to take the risks Leisure took, I am afraid that the chances others have of accidentally tripping over something amazing that lies just over the boundary of easy profit will be practically nil.

I'll be okay. I get free books from amazing writers and publishers all the time just because I talk too much about them. I'll also continue to follow the Leisure line, as their editors have shown remarkable taste. All the same, a glorious time that means more to me than I can adequately convey is over.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

They done popped my cherriy.

I'm no longer a virgin people.

On January 21st, 2011, my first monetarily lucrative story will be available to smack you in the face. The story is “The Song that Crawls”, the product of my split obsessions with Lovercraft, Tom Piccirilli and all things Dax Riggs (the title actually comes from an Agents of Oblivion song, but Dax gave me permission to use it) and I'm glad to see that it has found comfortable little home in Necrotic Tissue. They've got a great mag going on there -I've said a few nice things about them periodically- and I am awed to have my name appear in their pages.

Sure, I've had work published in the past and some of it will eventually result in money gracing my palm but none have actually done so yet. That makes this particular work something very special to me and I would like anyone reading this to celebrate by buying a copy or, even better, subscribing to the magazine.

In case you are curious, “The Morning Ritual,” a tale of sacrifice and the morning commute, will be appearing in the digital version of Title Goes Here and “Beautiful Things,” dealing with familial responsibility, will show up in an upcoming issue of Shroud. I'll let you know dates when I know them.

For the moment, I feel a little bit tired, a little bit sore and very content in your arms.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At the Precipice of Sadness?

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m having second thoughts about power duo Guillermo Del Toro and James Cameron’s upcoming film adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness. I’m a huge Lovecraft dork who would love finally see a good adaptation in an honest to goodness theatre (the only thing that disqualifies the marvelous HPLS version of Call of Cthulhu) and that team should be the ones to finally pull it off. Cameron has the clout to access a practically bottomless budget and Del Toro has the vision and imagination to pull off the look and feel. Still, I’m worried.

Let’s start with a comment Del Toro made regarding monsters in horror films on Deadline. It’s that “you have to keep the monster in black and white” that gives me shivers of potential rage. One of the things that makes it possible to get past the overbearingly dry presentation of Lovecraft’s prose and what makes his work truly great is the moral relativity he presents. None of the “monsters” can be easily classified as such, they are just too alien to humanity to be viewed with anything but panic. Larger than us, ancient beyond our ken and produced by wholly incalculable evolutions, they are things beyond our comprehension. That is what scares us, not any sense of inherent evil.

(this is one of the more relatable ones)
But there’s more. Even if I can get beyond what is a major philosophical roadblock (to me), there is the issue of the story itself. AtMoM, is far from Lovecraft’s best work and suffers from a major problem in relation to narrative: very little actually occurs. If translated literally, the audience will be following an archeologist as he wanders through the wreckage of a dead civilization. Sure, an elder thing destroys the base camp near the beginning and a Shoggoth chases our intrepid duo away at the end, but that is it. I am having a hard time imagining how someone would turn that into an enjoyable film without demolishing the original story.
(and we're walking...)
That ties into a central problem with adapting Lovecraft: he didn’t create satisfying narratives. Most of his stories were revelatory, ending when the curtains are pulled to the side and some hapless soul goes insane with the knowledge of unfathomed infinity. It makes for great short fiction, but the lack of a central conflict saps endurance out of a reader fairly quickly. This effect is multiplied a thousandfold with most moviegoers.

What I’m left with is something that may go directly against everything I love Lovecraft for while also alienating the vast majority of the public, who could give a rat’s ass about the man, with an overlong story about some guys walking through a cave.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Temper Tantrums as Bad PR

Recently, the proverbial fit has hit the almighty shan of the interactive media (read: video games) market due to a decision THQ made to tell purchasers of pre-owned games to go fuck themselves running. Now, I don’t bother with online gaming (I’m too much of a misanthrope to deal with even digital imaginations of people), so this doesn’t affect me in any way but the statement is rather loopy-minded and will probably hurt them and the industry through an unnecessary build-up of bad blood.

Yes, I know that publishers and creators get jack-all from a resale of a previously purchased game and I acknowledge how much that sucks. There are several incredibly cool people I know in the book publishing market who face the same situation in regards to used bookstores. They put hard work into something and get nothing back for the enjoyment they provide. But I have never heard an author or publisher in the indie market (the ones that are truly hit by this) call out for one-time use from a book purchase.

They don’t do that because the (very limited) benefit would be outweighed by a wealth of negative feeling on the part of their actual purchasers (not the ones mentioned here). People who would normally be perfectly willing to buy new would still be likely to take offense to being called thieves. Besides, they also realize that someone who bought a used copy of Cthulhu Unbound (by the fine folks at Permuted Press) and enjoyed it will be much more likely to pay full price for the new shiny Cthulhu Unbound 2.

On a side note, as evil and generally dickish as Gamestop may be, the HUGE markup they make from used sales allow them to survive with the minimal markup allowed with new sales. Otherwise, my only options would be Best Buy and Walmart, neither of which carries much beyond the latest Halo clones. Because of that, I tend to go there for new games as well. In addition, their willingness to buy games I don’t play anymore often nets me the $15 bucks extra that allows me to buy the brand-spankin new game in all its crisp and shiny glory.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Uh oh! There's gonna be something in my pants.

So, Context is a mere day away and I'm a terrified little boy.

Let's back up so I can splain. In a moment of arrogance (I have had 5 Poems accepted for publication, after all), I signed up to be a part of the Open Poetry panel, which has seen the likes of Mike Arnzen, Matt Betts and Cathy Callaghan in recent years. I've enjoyed it as a member of the audience so I figured that it could only be more enjoyable as a panelist. All was fine and good in happy town when I was officially accepted for it.

Then I found out that I will be there along with both Cathy Callaghan and Lucy "Giant Steel Ovaries" Snyder.

Don't get me wrong, I'm honored to have such an opportunity. At the same time, my pants are filled with fear poo and the urine of dread. How, precisely, do I not look like a talentless hack in that company?

So, please come and watch me make a fool of myself.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stepping off into the wild blue yonder.

The great Brian Keene released some interesting news earlier this week via his website. Amid explaining his recent decision to split with long time publisher Leisure, he let spill that some upcoming rereleases he has been promising (Fear of Gravity, Unhappy Endings, The Rising: Selected Scenes From the End of the World, and Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes From the End of the World) will be self published. I’m quite curious to see how this experiment will work out for him.

As a reviewer, I have a tendency to cringe whenever I see something that is obviously self published. There is a lot to be said for a good editor with experience in the field and the importance of your work being seen with a fresh set of eyes. Every writer needs someone cold and heartless, who is willing to tell them what needs to die in their precious little darling. Also, the little bit of extra quality control is usually a good thing. The only good experience I’ve had with a self-published work is Bradd Quinn’s Under, which has a damn good story at its heart but is still in desperate need of solid content editing. I used to self-publish through my own company, Generic Publishing, and the stuff of my own that I put out sucked donkey nuts. Even Stephen King proved that we cannot be trusted to be our own editors.

At the same time, the self-publishing stigma has been waning in recent years, due in part to a combination of the rising e-publishing market and the proliferation of quality software to self format your book. There are also a shitload of hired gun editors out there, but beware that many of them will only copy edit instead of editing for content and providing useful advice on how to make your story better. It isn’t easy and advertising on a budget is a real bitch, but it can be done.

If someone can do it well, it would be Brian Keene. The man has already proven himself as a quality writer and he has the clout to draw attention without depending on a publisher’s good name. I think this is going to be a big test for self publishing. If he can’t do it and make it at least mildly profitable, then the future doesn’t look so bright anymore.

But, to paraphrase a poster from Jello Biafara’s bid for mayor, what if he wins?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lucky Number 5!

A very short poem of mine, “She Doesn’t Speak Anymore”, has been accepted for an upcoming anthology by Needfire Press. This puts me up to an amazing and confounding total of 5 works of mine that will see print in forms that I did not create. Yay me.

These Apparitions is a collection of poems riffing on Ezra Pound’s “In the Station of the Metro” with a focus on answering the following question: Who are the faces in the crowd? Since imagist poetry isn’t done very much these days, I’m looking forward to seeing how the other authors have approached the form. You, of course, should be looking forward to basking in my glory once this goes to print. However, if I am not enough to pique your interest, Steve Rasnic Tem, Steve Vernon, Roy C. Booth, Cynthia Booth, Barry Napier, Bob Freeman, Louise Bohmer, and J. Bruce Fuller are also featured.

More info will be made available as it appears to me in dreams. Or in Emails.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who got that swagga?

I’ve good news to share, for those of you that care. Now, in addition to the reviews I am already writing for, I will also be writing reviews for Shroud Magazine as well as their book review blog. It’s a hell of an honor and a nifty feeling to be working with some of the best people in the independent horror market.

I am as giddy as a little boy, gazing upon his first pair of honest-to-goodness breasts.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lick my sores, please.

For those of you who don't already know, I write book reviews for It's a great gig and I would recommend it to anyone, but I have been informed by some people that they do not wish to use that venue to peruse my wondrous and amazing opinions. For those people, I present the Pustule Oozings blog devoted entirely to my arrogance and sense of self importance. I think I may also use that as a venue for none horror related reviews as well, but you never know with a lazy bastard like me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Night Terrors available.

Just a quick plug:

Night Terrors, the first anthology by Bloodbound Books, is available for order through the ubiquitous powerhouse that is Amazon.

The reason you care (trust me, you do) is because it contains a marvelous little ditty by the name of “Are you the Fairest?” written by a marvelous little lady known as Piper Morgan.

You should buy it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

WIP Wednesday? Why not.

If anyone is reading this, I’m not sure you would actually care about these things, but what the hell, eh?

Fairly fresh off of a story that blatantly rips off both Lovecraft and the work of Dax Riggs (ranging from the early Acid Bath stuff on up to his Deadboy and solo stuff) so much so that I felt it necessary to obtain permission the Dax before continuing, I’m trying my hand at poetry again.

This time, it is a rather large prose poem in five parts detailing the night Manatees got pissed off, organized and violent. The first draft is about 2/3s done and I am feeling a bit stuck. One of the sections is going to mirror the opening to Jaws, so maybe I should watch that again. I also need to read up on some good battle poetry.

Here’s to an idea no one in their right mind would buy!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Marvel Comics Officially Run by Wussies

Strap yourself in, it's bitchin' time. Read the following link first, then continue on. I'm too lazy to bother recapping.

Caught up? Good. Let's get this shit on.

Before you start making an ASS out of U and ME, I could give a shit about those who are complaining about this new "anti-American" Captain America. You don't agree with the point of view presented in the comic, go ahead and bitch your little heart out. It's your right and I'm sure the artists appreciate the extra attention you brought to the series. What pisses me off here is how Marvel reacted... retracting and apologizing like a little bitch.

I'll put it simply: pull up your big boy panties and act like damn adults.

Art, even of the trashiest sort, should have something to say. Even better if it pisses people off. That means that it is bringing core precepts and ideals into question. Who knows, maybe then people will be forced to think about their assumptions. That, to me, is what makes great art stand out from the merely good.

To me, this approach, in addition to the stance the writers had him take with the Civil War storyline, does not represent an Anti-American point of view. Instead, I see it throwing into sharp relief the conflict experienced by many Americans who quite truly and deeply love their country, but see its government going in a direction that runs counter to the philosophy it was founded upon. This is precisely the type of issue that only a character like Captain America can address,.

But that isn't the issue. The issue is Marvel rolling over on their back to appease a silly, childish bit of playground bullying because they have no goddamn balls. As the publisher, they should simply have stated that any implicit or explicit opinions expressed in that work, like in any work of art, are those of the artists and BACK UP THOSE ARTISTS' RIGHT TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES THROUGH THEIR ART. If you publish it, own up to it.

Comic fans and artists have been rightfully pushing for the elevation of Graphic Art above the level of childish entertainment in the eye of the public for decades, but this sets that movement back to square one. By essentially saying that political views and commentary have no place in their publications, they are saying that they do not trust their readers to consider these issues on their own. They are agreeing that Captain America has no place except as mindless entertainment for children. And this is coming from a company whose best output has boldly dealt with issues of race, environmental destruction, corruption and nuclear proliferation.

Hell, Random House never apologized for Primary Colors, despite the blatant personal attacks on the President. Tyndale House never retracted the Left Behind books due to the political and social agenda that takes just as much center stage as religion and action. Plume still stands behind Atlas Shrugged, an unadulterated plea for total laissez-faire governmental policy. They acted precisely like a publishing company should: they stood behind their artists.

Marvel, meanwhile, is run by wussies.