Coming Back Online

*taps microphone*

*clears throat*

Hello?  Hello.  Hello!

So it’s . . . been a minute.  Eight years, give or take.

I dusted off my WordPress skills to let y’all know there will be news forthcoming.  Book News.  I’ve been head down, hard at work on a three-year project that will come to fruition around Halloween.

As for the blog, I’ve done some housekeeping.  Thought about revamping the website from scratch, then decided against it as I really like this theme.  Just wound up tweaking a few things to better fit a post-blog era of the Internet.

Since my last post in 2016, we have all been through the collective wringer.  A global pandemic.  A corrupt President.  The rise of weaponized stupidity.  And now Nazis are a thing again.  In the coming months I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been up to.  But before all that, I just want you to know:

I haven’t forgotten you.

And since this website’s closing in on three million visits (3,000,000!), it’s clear you haven’t forgotten me either.  Thank you.

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Halloween Stories VI

It’s that time of year again, when the days grow shorter and the shadows grow longer.  In order to get you in a proper Halloween mood, here’s another selection of scary tales I personally recommend.

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Scriptshadow 250 Contest

I wrote a splashy action movie called LIBERTY ISLAND.  Last year I entered it into a writing competition mostly because the contest was free and the movie producer behind it has some cachet.  Recently a list of the top 25 finalists was revealed, and my script made the cut.

The ultimate winner will be chosen at the end of this month.

LIBERTY ISLAND (118 pages)

After domestic terrorists seize control of Liberty Island during July 4th celebrations and threaten to blow up the Statue of Liberty, a lone New York City cop trapped on the island must save his hostage-held family and foil a presidential assassination.

Yes, it’s like DIE HARD.  But with higher stakes.  And a cooler setting.  And a better villain.

See the whole roster of finalists here.  There are several screenplays on that list I’d like to read myself.  Congrats to all the other writers involved, plus my sincere thanks to the folks at Scriptshadow and Grey Matter who vetted the manuscripts.

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Halloween Stories V

Been some time since I last posted, but I wanted to extend my annual tradition of serving up free scary stories in time for Halloween.

This year I chose a classic from Mr. October himself, Ray Bradbury.  Bradbury wrote many a story set around All Hallow’s Eve, none more recognizable than this conte cruel called “The October Game.”

The next tale is a recent one by Nathan Ballingrud that impressed me enough to include it here.  “Skullpocket” has the trappings of a new classic in the making.

And the following piece by Shel Silverstein isn’t a prose tale, rather several interconnected poems collectively known as “The Devil & Billy Markham.”

I’ll link to previous years, for those who want to dive into the blog vault.

Halloween Stories I:

  • “The Masque of the Red Death” — Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The Damned Thing” — Ambrose Bierce
  • “The Judge’s House” — Bram Stoker

Halloween Stories II:

  • “Shalken the Painter” — J. Sheridan Le Fanu
  • “Was it a Dream?” — Guy de Maupassant
  • “Caterpillars” — E.F. Benson

Halloween Stories III:

  • “Young Goodman Brown” — Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “The Sumach” — Ulric Daubeny
  • “The Testament of Magdalene Blair” — Aleister Crowley

Halloween Stories IV:

  • “The Dead Valley” — Ralph Adams Cram
  • “Strange Candy” — Robert McCammon
  • “The Voice in the Night” — William Hope Hodgson
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A writer friend, Tom Piccirilli, passed away this morning after a valiant battle with brain cancer.  If you don’t know his work, buy a couple of his books.  Take your pick; they’re all equally good.

After I heard the news, I re-read some of his poetry.  I came across one poem in particular, from This Cape is Red Because I’ve Been Bleeding, that struck a cord on this of all days.  I thought I’d share it with you, because it’s short and in Tom’s own words.

Cremation Reformation — Tom Piccirilli

Perhaps the crematorium isn’t the best place

to mull over your melancholy, make a chart

of your misgivings, take account of all

your secret mischief — the bodies of neighbors

and pets fill the black air with ash,

and the taste is never completely washed away.

Smoke rises but the temperature drops.

Someday, I’ll be sent on in there,

and they’ll hand a tiny box of powder to my wife,

but I want her to put me on through again,

and again, and again, until there’s nothing left

but air, and I’ll drift over town and get into everyone’s

clothes and hair, and work my way into every

crack and fissure of skin and eyelid, all your mouths,

your nostrils, breathed into every lung, until

you all tap your temples with freshly sharpened pencils,

acting for a moment, exactly the same,

as each and every one of you writes

with a flourish and grin


for absolutely no reason you can name.

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Link Olio

Read this article about the endless slate of horror movie sequels Hollywood pumps out.  The horror and action genres have always been more franchise-oriented than other genres; today it seems excessive that even successful comedies and dramas need to be spun out into trilogies.

And Mental Floss catalogs some of Stephen King’s unpublished work — mostly why it remains unpublished, and the reasons Steve doesn’t want it to see the light of day.  A couple of these I hadn’t heard of before, while others have acquired almost mythic status over the decades (Last Dangerous Visions, anyone?).

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Link Olio

Read this great article about film marketing that appeared a few years back in The New Yorker.  Writing and filmmaking I understand; the selling of a project, however, remains foreign to me.  This shed a lot of light on a process that seems at times part luck and part alchemy.

And check out this epic prop auction held tomorrow in Los Angeles.  Movie memorabilia from special effects guru Rick Baker’s entire career.  You want to bid on Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom?  Go for it.  How about a twelve-foot-tall animatronic alien from Men in Black?  If you’ve got an extra forty grand to blow, this too can be yours.  Or what if you prefer taking home a full-size Eddie Murphy fat suit from The Nutty Professor?  Whatever, I don’t judge.

Take time to peruse the entire auction catalog.  It spans Baker’s whole career, from An American Werewolf in London to Gremlins and Planet of the Apes.  No doubt Hollywood collectors have waited decades for a treasure trove like this to go on sale to the public.

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2015 Stoker Awards

The 25th World Horror Convention takes place next month (May 7-10) in Atlanta.  The annual Bram Stoker Awards are being held in conjunction with WHC this year, and the nominees are listed below.

Additionally, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree is Jack Ketchum, and the WHC Grandmaster Award goes to William F. Nolan.  Congratulations to all involved.

Taken from the WHC2015 website:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Craig DiLouie – Suffer the Children
Patrick Freivald – Jade Sky
Chuck Palahniuk – Beautiful You
Christopher Rice – The Vines
Steve Rasnic Tem – Blood Kin

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Maria Alexander – Mr. Wicker
J.D. Barker – Forsaken
David Cronenberg – Consumed
Michael Knost – Return of the Mothman
Josh Malerman – Bird Box

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Jake Bible – Intentional Haunting
John Dixon – Phoenix Island
Kami Garcia – Unmarked (The Legion Series Book 2)
Tonya Hurley – Passionaries
Peter Adam Salomon – All Those Broken Angels

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Emily Carroll – Through the Woods
Joe Hill – Locke and Key, Vol. 6
Joe R. Lansdale and Daniele Serra – I Tell You It’s Love
Jonathan Maberry – Bad Blood
Paul Tobin – The Witcher

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Taylor Grant – “The Infected” (Cemetery Dance #71)
Eric J. Guignard – “Dreams of a Little Suicide” (Hell Comes to Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales of Tinseltown Terror)
Joe R. Lansdale – “Fishing for Dinosaurs” (Limbus, Inc., Book II)
Jonathan Maberry – “Three Guys Walk into a Bar” (Limbus, Inc., Book II)
Joe McKinney – “Lost and Found” (Limbus, Inc., Book II)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Hal Bodner – “Hot Tub” (Hell Comes to Hollywood II: Twenty-Two More Tales of Tinseltown Terror)
Sydney Leigh – “Baby’s Breath” (Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl)
Usman T. Malik – “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” (Qualia Nous)
Rena Mason – “Ruminations” (Qualia Nous)
John Palisano – “Splinterette” (Widowmakers: A Benefit Anthology of Dark Fiction)
Damien Angelica Walters – “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” (Jamais Vu, Issue Three)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Scott M. Gimple – The Walking Dead: “The Grove”
Jennifer Kent – The Babadook
John Logan – Penny Dreadful: “Séance”
Steven Moffat – Doctor Who: “Listen”
James Wong – American Horror Story: Coven: “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks”

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Michael Bailey – Qualia Nous
Jason V Brock – A Darke Phantastique
Ellen Datlow – Fearful Symmetries
Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer – Burnt Tongues
Brett J. Talley – Limbus, Inc., Book II

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Stephen Graham Jones – After the People Lights Have Gone Off
John R. Little – Little by Little
Helen Marshall – Gifts for the One Who Comes After
Lucy A. Snyder – Soft Apocalypses
John F.D. Taff – The End in All Beginnings

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Jason V Brock – Disorders of Magnitude
S.T. Joshi – Lovecraft and a World in Transition
Leslie S. Klinger – The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft
Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley – Horror 101: The Way Forward
Lucy A. Snyder – Shooting Yourself in the Head For Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Robert Payne Cabeen – Fearworms: Selected Poems
Corrine De Winter and Alessandro Manzetti – Venus Intervention
Tom Piccirilli – Forgiving Judas
Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo – Sweet Poison
Stephanie Wytovich – Mourning Jewelry

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Link Olio

Here are a couple of new articles about writers breaking in to movies and television:

The first comes from Matthew Weiner.

The other is an interview with David S. Goyer.

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Bleak House vs. Ackermansion

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