Monthly Archives: October 2007

“Insomnia is My Only Friend” available free to the public

“Insomnia is My Only Friend,” a short story of mine that appeared in the first issue of Horror Literature Quarterly, is now available free to non-subscribers from now until the end of Stoker Awards voting.  Either link above is good.  The first will take you straight to the story, while the second will take you to HLQ’s homepage, where you can check out great fiction by John Urbancik, Kealan Patrick Burke, and a host of other incredibly talented souls.

On a personal note, “Insomnia” is one of my favorite stories, and I feel it’s one of my most successful.  I’m very proud of it, and I want to thank Paul Puglisi for giving it a chance.  Only time will tell if anybody thinks it’s Stoker-worthy, but I’m damn happy it came out of my head in the first place.

The 2007 Halloween Buffet

I really enjoyed doing this last year, and my love of Halloween has not died in the slightest.  That said, here’s your halloween recommendations for 2007.

SHORT STORIES

1. “In the Hills, the Cities” by Clive Barker.  Barker set the horror world on fire with his original Books of Blood.  This story, about two lovers who stumble upon a ritual that involves two cities who fight it out by lashing their citizens together into living giants, is a masterpiece of mood and mayhem.  Available in The Books of Blood.

2. “Black Leather Kites” by Norman Partridge.  Norm writes stories that can be hard boiled as hell or so over the top you can’t help but smile.  This story, about vampires, warlocks, and a small town cop who uses nunchuku instead of his standard issue baton, is both.  Available in Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales.

3. “Gray Matter” by Stephen King.  An early work of King’s and one of his best.  A tight, suspensful story about a group of men checking in on a friend of theirs who may or may not have turned into a cat-eating blob after drinking bad beer.  Sounds silly, but this is an incredibly tense reading experience.  Available in Night Shift.

4. “The Pit” By Joe R. Lansdale.  Brutal, unrelenting, and kinda funny.  This story of kidnapped gladiators forced to do battle for a small town’s amusement is one of Champion Joe’s finer tales.  Available in High Cotton.

5. “Menage A Trois” By JF Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is one of the best writers you might not have heard of, and this story is a good old fashioned zombie yarn set in a world where safety and sex don’t always go hand in hand.  Available in When the Darkness Falls.

NOVELS

1. Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.  I didn’t want to repeat authors during this list, but I will make an exception for this incredible book.  One of my favorites, and one I will be reading every year at Halloween.  Partridge creates a tribute to Halloween, B Movies (without giving in to B Movie production values), and the culture of the sixties and small towns.  Breathtaking.

2. Ghoul by Brian Keene.  A love letter to the eighties and childhood, and proof that adults can be worse monsters than anything that lives in a graveyard.  Next to Terminal, this could be Brian’s best work.

3. Pressure by Jeff Strand.  The story of a man running from the obsession of a former friend, a friend with some serious issues.  A masterpiece of terror and suspense.  Strand pulls out all the stops, and he’s never been better.

4. The Store by Bentley Little.  Never has Wal-Mart looked more evil.  Okay, maybe that isn’t true, but this novel by Little is about big box policies taken to there most extreme.  Riveting and frightening on several levels.

5. Succulent Prey by Wrath James White.  White writes horrible, gory prose with the grace of a poet.  It’s really an interesting experience.  This novel, about a man who fears he may have contracted a disease that’s making him a serial killer, is a visceral ride through Hell.

COMICS

1. The Damned by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.  Mystery and shoot ’em ups in a prohibition era populated by humans and demons alike.  An incredible series.

2. Fell by Warren Ellis and Ben Temlpesmith.  It may be disguised as a police procedural, but this is a horror comic all the way.

3. Dragon Head by Minetaro Mochizuki.  An earthquake has trapped a commuter train underground, and everything feels far too hot.  And is there something in the darkness?  And what’s happened to the rest of the world?

4. Tales from the Crypt.  The EC classic is back in a archive edition.

5. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. Kirkman’s meandering masterpiece.  Zombie menace with some of the best human characters the comics world has ever seen.  This is what most soap operas should be like.

MOVIES

1. Hard Candy.  Ellen Page gives an incredible performance in this horrifying and riveting film of a pedophile getting his just desserts.  An incredible flick from start to finish.  The director or this film recently helmed 30 Days of Night. 

2. Kontroll. Director Nimrod Antal juggles comedy, drama, romance, and horror in this tale set entire in Budapest’s subway system.  Kontroll officer Bulcsú has become such a part of the underground he hasn’t left it in months.  An incredible movie from start to finish, and one of the best I’ve seen this year.

3. 13 Tzameti. 22 year-old Sébastien takes on a false identity in a quest to gain untold riches, but instead finds himself in a sick game of chance where losing means a bullet in the head.  A study in tension.

4. Prince of Darkness.  The second movie in John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy.” A group of grad student descend on a church to study a strange contraption that just might house the antichrist.  One of Carpenter’s most terrifying.  Once the terror starts, it does not stop.

5. Burnt Offerings. A dose of seventies cheese, but this Oliver Reed/Karen Black-led thriller combines plenty of chills with the creepiest representation of Death I’ve ever seen.

Speedbumps on the road to health

I knew it.  Goddammit, I knew it all along.  I never should have told you fine people about my attempts at losing weight and feeling better.  It could only end in tragedy (or in the best possible case… annoyance).

So, yeah.  I’m annoyed.  Last Monday, October 15th, I told you all about how I’d been running every morning.  I also told you how the running had led me to feel better than I had in years.

The next morning, a dog chased me. 

It wasn’t a very big dog, maybe in the 20-30 pound range, and I even kept my pace for a little while, figuring the little guy just wanted to play.  Then I felt the hideous hell-bastard clamp down on my heel.  Now, it had only bitten my shoe, not my skin, but my fight or flight instinct kicked in.  I had to choose between outracing the dog or turning around and defending myself with the strongest kick I could muster.

I decided to run.  Living with Shawna for over six years has overthrown my highly intelligent hatred of this species that will one day depose mankind, or at the very least has made me not want to be caught by her as I kick a dog halfway to Saturn.  For those of you who think I’m taking this a little too seriously, please see above where the fucking thing bit me!

So I took off at a sprint, and the little bastard kept pace with me far too long.  I ended up winded, sore, and had managed to twist the living shit out of my ankle.  I made it back to the house, where Shawna was just getting ready to take our dogs out for their morning walk.

“Go another route.  There’s a loose dog out there.”

“Oh,” Shawna says.  “Well, can you distract it?”

And that’s how I ended up sprinting from the dog again.

I managed to run my regular route the rest of the week, though by Friday I could feel my ankle collecting fluid whenever I wasn’t moving.  I applied ice over the weekend, and come Monday I was ready to run again.

This is when the temperature dropped twenty degrees. 

To say I was unprepared for the difference twenty degrees and some strong wind makes is a bit of an understatement.  I made it about a quarter of my normal route before I felt something pop in my face.  You read that correctly.  I felt something pop in my face.  By the time I’d run another block, it felt like somebody had poured a gallon of fluid into my sinuses.  I stopped and evacuated about a cup of snot into somebody’s front yard.  This feeling has continued since Monday.  Yesterday, my eye started to feel like it had been punched.  When I woke up this morning, said eye was swollen halfway shut, and I had to evacuate more snot.  Ice got the swelling down quite a bit, but I’m sitting here waiting for the rest of my face to explode or something.

And I’m pricing stationary bikes.

Announcement: Horror Mall

It has come to my attention that a huge announcement was made this morning.  Shane Staley of Delirium Books and Larry Roberts of Bloodletting Press have joined forces to create Horror Mall, a one stop shop for all things horror with an emphasis on books.

Larry and Shane have been at this a long time, and they know what they’re doing.  Together, they’ll provide a service unlike any other.  Trust me.  I’ve ordered a book or five from the both of them, and they deliver what they promise. 

When Horror Mall opens on Halloween, they’ll have more than 500 small press horror titles available for purchase.  If you consider yourself a horror fan of any kind, you need to jump in there and check some of this stuff out.  You owe it to yourself.  One can’t live on shitty horror remakes alone, right?  No way.  You can’t live on cinematic abortions like Death Proof, either.

You can sign up for the Horror Mall Newsletter right now, and come with me on the 31st to buy a book or a movie or a comic.  You won’t regret it.  Nope, not in a million years.

Monkeys: The New Menace

A senior government official in India has been killed by monkeys.

You read that right.  It appears there are terrible mobs of monkeys roaming New Delhi.  Remember this, folks.  This is what happens when you let animals congregate in large numbers.  Just look at Detroit’s feral dog packs.  Take a second and read that second article.  Packs of twenty dogs, people.  This will be the end of mankind.

You have been warned.

Recent stops on the Get Healthy train

Had my latest physical about a month ago, and to say the doctor was pleased with the results would be much like saying remaking Halloween was a good idea (hint: it wasn’t).  Turns out, seven years of hard drinking isn’t good on the liver, and 30 years of eating like a trash compactor isn’t good on the rest of your body.

So, Nate’s getting healthy.  In the past month, I’ve started running.  A jog through my neighborhood covers 1.7 miles and takes about 15 minutes.  After three weeks of taking the route every other day, walking on the off days, I’m ready to run it every weekday and walk on weekends.  Then I’ll start extending my distance.  It really is shocking how much better I feel in such a short amount of time.

Of course, running alone isn’t the best way to live forever.  I’m now on a diet.  I’m not just eating healthier, I’m eating less.  The doctor said the key words were “portion control,” which I find more frightening than if he’s said “exploding bowels.”  For thirty years, I’ve loved eating whatever giant slab of meat was shoved in front of me.  Now, however, I can’t eat anything bigger than a deck of cards.  Also, I can’t go snacking all day or eating three cups of Cheerios (dry, of course) for breakfast anymore.  This is tough stuff, but I’m doing quite well so far, and I’ve only cried once or twice.

On a related front, I’ve decided to cut out both fast food and soda (this latter choice inspired by Mike Oliveri).  My hope is to drop some major pounds by the time the new year rolls around. 

And the drinking.  It’s done, for the most part.  Aside from the occassional glass of wine with dinner or a trip to a con, alcohol is out of my life.  I’ve officially gone a week without getting trashed, and it feels good.  Damn, it’s embarrassing to think about how out of control my drinking was.  You live and learn, I guess.  

So there we go, my multi-pronged attack plan for getting in shape.  Wish me luck!

Death, Hell, and IKEA

Last weekend, Shawna and I went shopping for a rug to go with our brand new tile (Author’s Note-Ha!  We have new tile!).  Anyway, we had a great system picked out for our rug selection, namely that Shawna would pick something out, and I would pay for half of it (Author’s Note-Shawna will deny this, but that’s because she is a liar.  Just ask her.  She’ll deny that she’s a liar, as well.  Proves my point, don’t it?).

Back on topic, we searched several stores and quickly decided Austin is a terrible place to shop for rugs.  Luckily, we remembered the new IKEA store that had recently opened in Round Rock.  After agreeing that shopping there would not make us yuppy scum, we hit the highway and headed to the store.

I should mention at this point that I can get claustrophobic.  It’s not crippling or anything, but I despise crowds, elevators (unless they’re empty), and most closed in spaces.  Most times, this condition is completely under control.  Other times, it will cause a freak out.

Like last weekend at IKEA.

Returning to our little cautionary tale, we found the IKEA store easily.  You can probably see the fucking thing from space, so spotting it from I-35 wasn’t such a challenge.  We navigated the sprawling parking lot with ease and within moments found ourselves inside the store itself.

And the problems started.

See, the IKEA store must have been designed by Nazi scientists or something.  Instead off being laid out like, I dunno, a department store, it’s laid out like a reasonably priced and vaguely chic in a really contrived way museum exhibit.  One path winds its way through the roughly 5,000,000,000,000,000,000 square foot space.  Travelling through the bedrooms will take you to the living rooms, past the office chairs and toward the bookshelves.  Any attempts at a short cut lead you into a trap, like the Living in 379 Square Feet display (Author’s Note-Apparently, you can fit a lot of IKEA stuff in there, as well as fourteen cub scouts, seven politicians, and a baby elephant.).

After about thirty minutes of winding down the IKEA path, we didn’t appear to be any closer to the exit.  We’d already discovered that IKEA ain’t exact Rug Central, and we just wanted to go home.  Every turn, however, just took us deeper into Satan’s own furniture outlet.  Soon, I was sweating, shaking, and blinking hard in an effort to fight back approaching tears.  Everything was closing in on me, all shiny chrome and pastels.  I have seen Hell, ladies and gents, and it looks like cheap Swiss furniture.

So, I’m starting to walk through the store faster and faster, my breath coming in gasps and chokes.  Once or twice I stop and comment on something while I attempt to calm down, gain my bearings, and search for escape.  Shawna probably thought I was crazy for going ga-ga over the cutting board display, but I was desperate at the time.

As things grow worse and worse, I consider punching an IKEA employee.  Surely security will then escort me outside, probably in stylish handcuffs that are available in the kink section.  Why it never occured to me to simply ask one of them to lead me outside is beyond me.  I can only imagine I was beyond the bounds of rational thought.

Then Shawna pointed at a sign.  “Look, another shortcut.”

I started to cry a little then.  I couldn’t take another tease of freedom.  It was just too mean.

Then I saw another sign.

Exit.

I nearly ripped Shawna’s arm out of the socket as I charged through.  Magically, we were back at the front of the store, staring at the glass doors.  I saw actual sunlight.  The parking lot looked like Heaven.

Shawna led me into the sunny afternoon, and we put IKEA behind us.

There is a moral to this story.  What is it, you ask?

Fuck IKEA.

Thank you.

News from the great big waiting period

Yep, still here waiting for word back on projects. As you may have guessed (or not…like I know), that’s why there’s been a lack of updates.  I wasn’t eaten by my own ego or anything.

So, news…

Currently waiting to hear back from four different publishers on four different projects.  Nerve-wracking, man!

Of course, that’s not counting the short stories I sent in to various anthologies.  More nerves!

I somehow managed to start a new novel on Wednesday.  I was trapped in one corner of the house by the people laying down tile in our living and dining rooms, and at the end of the day I had the first 2000 words.

And that’s all I can think of right now.  At least I wrote an update.