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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A list of conferences I will not be attending

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, if you've recently lost a wallet, please stop by our courtesy desk. We do not have the wallet, but it is on good authority that we might know who does. And if that person doesn't know, we can most likely provide you a loaner until your wallet is retrieved.

Right ... today I am searching through a list of potential conventions.  Most are either too far or just flat out unaffordable.

2009 Stoker Awards Weekend - I've been to this one once about five years ago and the panels and information were fantastic.  Plus it's always nice to be around authors with similar views on literature. Unfortunately, this year it is clear across the country from me--Burbank, California--so I must pass.

World horror Convention 2009 - Yup, this is the biggie. Yup, I won't be there. This year it is being held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Next year it's in Brighton, England. Chances are you won't find me there next year either.

BEA - Now this one is in my neck of the woods (what a silly cliche. Woods don't have my neck). So this one is still--um--up in the air for me. If I do drop any coin, it will probably be for the Writer's Digest sponsored Writers Conference, which is held the day before BEA starts. Both are in New York City. I haven't looked through the list of agents and panels that will be available, so I'll have to weigh that against the $200 price tag. I'm not very fond of Writer's Digest because they seem to be more predatory than helpful to emerging writers, but I've never been to this particular shindig, so maybe I'll try it.

Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors (New York) - Because I want to attend at least something gory this year, I might have to check this one out. It is the cheapest of all the conventions, at least for a single day pass ($20 per day). I wasn't impressed with the lineup, mostly because I'm looking for independent presses, agents, editors and such.

So if anyone knows any additional conferences that I can't afford or are geographically inconvenient, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Later Fiends,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate*.

I woke up this morning to an onslaught of depressing news: North Korea, a country that would love to see the U.S. as a bloodstain, is testing missiles with U.S. government approval; CEO of GM given his walking papers ... by the U.S. government? adding to a financial crisis that still has no course. But at least the war on terror has a new name, "Overseas Contingency Operation," to take away our icky feelings about terrorism. It feels as if we are walking into hell and the U.S. government is our Virgil. Or maybe I feel this way because it's Monday.

*Abandon all hope, you who enter here - translated by Robert Pinsky.

Or if you prefer a more contemporary view on hope abandonment ...

Later Fiends.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Friday. Let's Dance.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, it's Friday. Let's put on your red shoes and dance the blues.

Later Fiends

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bram Stoker Award Ballot

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, today I'd like to congratulate all of the nominees for the annual Bram Stoker Award.

And a special congratulations to R.J. Cavender and the Terrible Twelve for being nominated for Superior Achievement in an Anthology.  Those folks have come a long way from a small cyber-cellar in Zoetrope.

Superior Achievement in a Novel (2008)

COFFIN COUNTY by Gary Braunbeck (Leisure Books) 
THE REACH by Nate Kenyon (Leisure Books) 
DUMA KEY by Stephen King (Scribner) 
JOHNNY GRUESOME by Gregory Lamberson (Bad Moon Books/Medallion Press)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

MIDNIGHT ON MOURN STREET by Christopher Conlon (Earthling Publications) 
THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press) 
MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin (Delirium Books)
THE SUICIDE COLLECTORS by David Oppegaard (St. Martin's Press)
FROZEN BLOOD by Joel A. Sutherland (Lachesis Publishing)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock Press) 
MIRANDA by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books) 
REDEMPTION ROADSHOW by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy Press) 
THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ZACH by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

PETRIFIED by Scott Edelman (Desolate Souls) 
THE LOST by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance Publications) 
THE DUDE WHO COLLECTED LOVECRAFT by Nick Mamatas, and Tim Pratt (Chizine) 
EVIDENCE OF LOVE IN A CASE OF ABANDONMENT by M. Rickert (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
TURTLE by Lee Thomas (Doorways)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books) 
HORROR LIBRARY, VOL. 3 edited by R. J. Cavender (Cutting Block Press) 
BENEATH THE SURFACE edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing) 
UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder (Dark Scribe Press)

Superior Achievement in a Collection

THE NUMBER 121 TO PENNSYLVANIA by Kealan Patrick Burke (Cemetery Dance Publications) 
MAMA’S BOY and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel (Apex Publications) 
JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King (Scribner) 
GLEEFULLY MACABRE TALES by Jeff Strand (Delirium Books)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction

CHEAP SCARES by Gregory Lamberson (McFarland) 
ZOMBIE CSU by Jonathan Maberry (Citadel Press) 
A HALLOWE'EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton (McFarland) 
THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR by Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley (HarperCollins)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press) 
THE PHANTOM WORLD by Gary William Crawford (Sam's Dot Publishing) 
VIRGIN OF THE APOCALYPSE by Corrine De Winter (Sam's Dot Publishing) 
ATTACK OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty (Skullvines Press)

Later Fiends

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Extreme Sheep LED Art

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, today is a not such a good day to die. It's far too cold for that nonsense.

Here's a video that I think disturbs me more than it impresses me. At the end, I was expecting the glowing sheep to be marched into some carnival-style slaughterhouse,only later to appear as a pile of wool, blood and dull flashing lights.  But I'll let you be the judge.

Later Fiends

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Blog That Cried Wolf

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, please don't feed the night.

More revisions of Sowen still to do, but I'm about 3/4 of the way through. Should have another round of editing done midweek. My current revisions have been focusing on the structure of the story, which I think for the most part is solid. I originally didn't structure the story to be a series, but the ideas unfolded into a much bigger beast that could not realistically be contained into one novel, or better yet, be sold as one novel. As a result, much of my time has been on reconstructing and removing parts that will occur later in the series. My current structure has the story broken down into 4 novels. And since the story occurs primarily on Halloween, each book will be one year apart, which would cover Christopher Sowen's high school career, since he is a freshman in the first story.

I still need to finish some research for a couple of scenes I've been putting off. One piece of research relates to the gray wolf. I found this great picture from National Geographic that I have pinned above my desk to remind me that wild animals do not talk, sing and dance like their Hollywood counterparts.

Later Fiends.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Read That Book! It Contains Lead!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, shoot for the stars but watch out for the sun.

So I was reading the AP's article about children's books containing lead.  The article states that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), who are obviously now at the top of their game after the whole China-trying-to-poison-our-children-through-toys episode, is insisting that we urge the nation's schools and libraries to test each and every children's book, at a mere cost of $300 per book. 

Scott Wolfson, a spokesperson for the CPSC, recommended that the the 116,000 public schools and libraries, "take steps to ensure that the children aren't accessing those books."

I checked the CPSC website and there was no mention of a recall, so I would imagine Wolfson was speaking on behalf of himself and not the CPSC, and no demand will be made to pull any books off the shelf.  But somehow I still get that creepy Hitler book burning or Orwellian thought-controlling feel, however much disguised in righteousness.  We just don't need another reason for kids not to read.  There are plenty already.

... And thank God I was one of the lucky ones who survived reading in the '80s.  Another near fatal accident I now know I avoided.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, shake what your momma gave you.

I enjoy cover art be it on books, albums, movies, whatever.  And the surest way for me to buy something I'm not familiar with is to judge it by its cover.  Of course this doesn't always work out, but who cares.  If the book/album/movie sucks at least I can display the artwork on a book/album/movie shelf.

I think the folks at Subterranean Press would defend my logic because they always have fantastic cover art on their products.

Let's look at the original dust jacket for Dan Simmons's Drood.

OK, we have a shadowy figure, some fancy font type, and the author's name.  Boring.  No way I'd buy this book based on cover alone. 

Subterranean released Drood with John Picacio's cover art.  If you'll remember from previous posts I was to pray to the God of Publishing that Picacio do my cover art when the time comes.  Here's why ... 

Or what about Muse of Fire also by Simmons with cover art by Picacio.

These books I would buy without having a clue what they're about. 

Here's an example of an author whose work I'm not familiar with.  Elizabeth Bear's Seven for a Secret has an awesome cover, and I will buy this even if only to display the cover on my bookshelf.

The cover art is by Patrick Arrasmith. 

So go ahead, try to write some literary masterpiece that is  grammatically sound, stylistically intense, and brilliantly researched.  But if you really want to succeed in selling your novel, hook up with an amazing artist.  You'll at least get an idiot like me to buy your book.

Later Fiends 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Revision, Revisions

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, please watch your step.  The floor is slippery.

I'm back to editing Sowen, now on my third revision, and I'm very pleased with how the story is coming together.  Thinking back to when I started the story, I am amazed at how it has changed, so much so that I could not imagine sticking to the outline I created in the beginning.  I had put some notes together before I started this project-- character sketches, big concepts, major conflicts, things like that--but as the story evolved new ideas tempted me, old ideas no longer worked, and entire chapters were tossed.  Now, looking through this old outline, I see that very few things are used.

I imagine for some the outline is imperative, but for me, it seems to be more of a brainstorming tool that helps get me going.  My characters ultimately dictate the plot.  I just try to keep up with them.

So, dear readers, what is your preference:  outline or not?


Gus Fink's Boogily Heads are the sweetest freaks I've seen in a while.  I can imagine a small army of these creatures sitting on my desk, their heads nodding in unison, agreeing to every mad thing I say.

Later Fiends,


Friday, March 13, 2009

Attention Whores & Cyber-Minions

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, TGIF (Thank God I'm Famous).

I mean really, I even have a school named after me Robert Gray Elementary School. And, ooh, look, today they're serving cheeseburgers, crinkle cut fries, lunch bunch grapes, and milk ... yummy.

And because I am famous (refer to the above mentioned school if you need proof) and because I blog, I must be a whiny attention whore like Tess Gerritson and Patricia Cornwell, because they are famous too. Of course that would make every blogging author a whiny attention whore, right? Even the writer who wishes for a fan base like Gerritson and Cornwell, and who--huh?--uses a blog to attack someone about blogging? Once upon a time Plato denounced the art of writing in his writings Phaedrus and Seventh Letter. It was stupid then too.

But obviously the problem goes much deeper than the famous attention whores, but into the whores' underground subculture of cyber-minions known as the fan base. Those willing to go to war for their author no matter what the charge, be it a mail-slide against Stephen King for his attack on Stephanie Meyer, or worse.

So what does this mean for fresh writers like us--er--you? I for one think the blog has become essential to a new writers success, especially in the realm of YA and genre fiction. Attention whore, you're God Damn right, because this is free, and if one person sees this and becomes interested in something I create then it was worth it. Fans today are gained one by one, word by word. Perhaps that is why fans are so loyal to their authors. These fans weren't tricked by some solicitor trying to sell them a ShamWow! The authors had to feed their fans, nourishing them with insight and opinion, and at times personal notes that reflect on politics, religion, life, whatever. Is it always necessary? of course not. I don't care that Neil Gaiman cant find his tea. But some fans do.

Bottom line, dear reader, there is no problem with supply for writers anymore. The problem is in the demand. So whatever works. Blog, Tweet, scream, make smoke signals ... whatever.

Rant over.


John Picacio is a phenominal artist. Tonight I will pray to the Publishing God (Loki I believe is His proper name) that Picacio will do my cover art.

Happy F13.

Later Fiends

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'm in a Michael Chabon State of Mind

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, welcome to my cyber home, where the only pork projects here involve squealing, conveyor belts, dull blades and ... well, it's all very messy really.

Michael Chabon will be speaking at Lehigh University on Sunday, March 22. It's free and open to the public. If you're in the Northeast Pennsylvania area, and you've been dying to meet me, then, you know, he'll be there too. The information can be found here.

In anticipation I've been reading a collection of short stories edited by Chabon. And what an awesome collection of writers, from Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates to Peter Straub and Margaret Atwood.

Whether or not you appreciate Chabon's writing style, you should at least give the guy credit for bridging gaps between literary and genre fiction, and this collection is something of a testament to that ability, putting together genre and literary writers in one fantastic collection.

Another book I've been reading bit by bit is Chabon's nonfiction collection of essays Maps and Legends. Many of the essays were previously published, but as a collection and because of the gimmicky cover (which I am always a sucker to) I think it stands as a fine collection and brings a deeper, sometimes bitterly passionate understanding of why Chabon walks that line between literary and genre fiction.

Later Fiends

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Magical Rabbi Lives With Me?

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, Become Us. Lead Us.  DIE.*  
* From Sowen: The Ghost Club

I was looking at my profile on Scribd and thought it funny where the elipses appear.  I would much rather have a magical rabbi.

And speaking of Scribd, my story All Too Cozy has been viewed 738 times and downloaded 85 times, which is pretty cool since it's only been up for one day.  My thanks to you 738/85 people.  You know who you are.


Haunted Hot Sauce.  Awesome.  This one here's called the Rotting Flesh Radio "Corpse-Griller" Twin Pack.   It comes in a handmade cedar coffin, which is pretty dandy.  I'm already feeling a haunted barbeque this Halloween.

Later Fiends

All Too Cozy

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, welcome to Tuesday.  I'm glad you all could make it.

Because I promised, and because so many of my wonderful fans asked me--OK, you got me, nobody asked-- I offer the gift of literature.  Oooooh!  Aaaaaaah!  Shiny!

My short story All Too Cozy is a wonderful story about love, betrayal, sexual desire, and a lime green possessed recliner.  Enjoy.

All Too Cozy height="500" width="100%" > value="http://d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=13144221&access_key=key-1a48njohbkf0jhdza0yj&page=1&version=1&viewMode=">    
   Publish at Scribd or explore others:            Creative Writing                  horror              Fiction      

Later Fiends

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mondays ... Yuck

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, enter now for a chance to win.  The prize?  Well, a lifetime membership here at Casa De Gray.  Really?  Well why the hell aren't you interested!?

The only thing I hate more than Mondays are Mondays that cost me an hour of sleep due to daylight-saving time.  The only thing I hate more than those Mondays are Mondays that also include another rejection letter.  The story rejected this time is a short called All Too Cozy, which is a satirical look at demonic possession.  In the story, the recliner becomes jealous when its owners, an old cranky man and his wife, replace it for a new state-of-the-art massage chair.  I didn't expect All Too Cozy to sell as there aren't too many markets for this type of story, so I'll probably post it up here within the next few days for your viewing pleasure (as soon as I figure out the best way to get it to you).


Something Awful has compiled a nifty list: Real Books That Look Like Photoshops.  The horror genre was grossly underrepresented with only two books, though.

Later Fiends

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A book I want. A book I have.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, awaken your mind and behold its wonders.

Artist John Jude Palencar of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance fame has a book out called Origins, which I'm looking forward to stimulating my eyeballs with. 


Currently reading and enjoying the hell out of The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell.  If you like circus freaks, biker gangs, brain fluids, mad scientists or fathers who live only for their comatose sons, then you'll love this book.


Later Fiends.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Everyone is a book of blood ...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild,  if you think you've arrived here by accident, then take it up with your parents.

I recently learned that Clive Barker's short story collection Books of Blood was made into a movie and was beside myself with excitement after hearing the movie was slated for a May '09 release.  Then I read that the movie is struggling for a release according to Fangoria's interview with the director and co-writer John Harrison.  And then I deflated.  Hopefully we'll get the chance to see it, so if anyone gets any news about release dates, please let me know.


I noticed on Duotrope.com that an outfit I used to write for called Horror Library is now accepting submissions for a horror anthology.  It appears many of the members have changed since I was with them, but I'm sure it's still an excellent group to work with.  Here are their guidelines if you are interested.

Later Fiends.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Visions of Writing

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, let it snow.

The above picture is a view from where I am writing this post. And, quite often, the view I see while I'm writing in general. It is a spot in my kitchen, a little corner where I lay out all my writing tools--laptop, pens, notebook, day's reference material, and, on days like today that are snowy and hovering somewhere around eight degrees, a bottomless cup of coffee.

I'm messing with a story that deals with how as children we envision our adult selves and how close our adult selves hit that mark. I began thinking about my younger writing self. That younger self envisioned for me some gargantuan mahogany desk, me at the helm, an entire library at my fingertips, a leather bound dictionary on a pedestal designed by H.R. Giger. After all, inspiration must come from art and art must come from inspiration. One helps the other, and so the workplace must represent the work, and the work must therefore represent the workplace.

I'm now sitting by a window, at my kitchen table, watching the snowfall, wondering if that childhood vision of myself did really come true, if I hit the mark.

Probably not. Oh well, time to go shovel.

Later Fiends.

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