Snatching at ideas

I don’t know how every writer out there writes, and I certainly won’t pretend to know.  If nothing else, I like to be honest about how little I know.  It keeps me humble and makes me look slightly amusing, two qualities I enjoy.

One thing I do know, however, is how the ideas bouncing around in my head turn into stories, and I felt that would make for a nice return from the holiday weekend.

Again, I’m not speaking for anybody but me.  So there’s that.

At any point in time, there are dozens of ideas bouncing around in my head.  Some are more fully formed than others, and some bounce around a lot faster, really grabbing my attention.  None of them, however, is a complete idea for a story.  They’re pieces, fragments.  Without something else to go with it, they’re useless.

Luckily, most days the ideas will find each other.  A little something from here will latch onto a little something from there, and the ideas turn into something new.  If that happens enough, I’ve got a story.  It’s tough to say when the ideas have turned into a story except to say it just feels “right.”  When that feeling hits, there’s nothing quite like it.

Sometimes, however, that feeling doesn’t hit at all.  There’s been one idea floating in my head for seven years now, but I haven’t been able to find something that fits with it and makes it a story… yet.

Deeper Waters from Broken Skin is a good example of things coming together the right way.  For years, I’d been sitting on the idea of a small rivier town that’s been flooded up to the second story.  I knew there was something in the water, but I didn’t really know what.  Only when that idea came together with the notion for white trash magician Charlie Crawdad and the memory of a town that had been filled in after a flood did the story start to take shape.  Without coming together, those ideas would have just been a bunch of parts.

So that’s how I do it.  Equal parts construction, magic, and dumb luck.  Kinda like everything else.

Eat me! It’s Thanksgiving Day!

So Thanksgiving is two days away.  Maybe you need a side dish, and maybe I need a blog topic?  Maybe there’s some way we can help each other out?

You bet your sweet ass, there is!

See, I’m a meat eater from way back, and I’ve only recently reached the point where I can eat vegetables without making gag faces.  While I realize this doesn’t make me a paragon of maturity, it down put me in a position to expound on vegetable dishes that the non-vegetable lovers out there might like.  For instance, here’s one I’ve made for the last three Thanksgivings that has gone over very well.  Feel free to try it.

(You’ll notice everything is sort of tossed in without much precision. You won’t find a lot of measurements here.  Sorry about that.)

Nate’s Green Beans and Sundried Tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced (show some self-respect and don’t use a garlic press, okay?)
3-4 sundried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
About a tablespoon of diced white onion
A big bunch of fresh green beans, as many as you want (I usually do enough to fill a 14″ cast iron skillet)
About 2 tablespoons of butter
A few splashes of white wine

Okay, so heat up your skillet and sautee the garlic and onions in the butter.  Wait until they’re good and fragrant, then toss in the tomoatoes.  Give those some time, then add the green beans .  The goal is to sear the beans and tomoatoes a bit, so cook them for a good while, splashing now and then with the wine.  Once you’ve got some good black marks on them, splash one last time and then cover.  Leave it for a couple of minutes to cook the rest of the way, and then you’re done!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Introducing The Late Late Show

One day when I was a kid, my oldest brother Tim showed up at the house with a motorcycle.  I didn’t get a good look at it–it was a Yamaha something or other–because my mom made him park it a few blocks down the street so my impressionable young mind wouldn’t decide I wanted a motorcycle.

Sadly, I’d already seen too much.

Years later, I still felt an urge to ride.  Southeast Indiana is a haven for poker runs and such, so there were always motorcycles rumbling through town, and I loved ’em all.  Over the years, I went through various bike phases.  Racing bikes, ATVs, little dirt bikes, I wanted one of each.  Sadly, that wasn’t going to happen so long as I lived in my mother’s house.  By the time I got out of the house, I was broke as a damn joke, so my motorcycle dreams remained just that, dreams.

When my father died, I decided it was time to remedy my situation.  See, my dad had later bought Tim’s Yamaha, and though I never found out when he got rid of it or where it ended up, he helped push my love for bikes.  He also gave me a love of the ’49 Mercury, but I don’t see me getting one of those for a long time.  A bike, however, I could manage.

So I spent a lot of time getting my debt under control, erasing almost all of it.  I also did a lot of research.  Harley Davidson had just released the Iron, an 883 sportster that looked like a good blank canvas to create a bike that would be mine.  It helped that I’ve had a long-standing love of sportsters.  With enough time and experience, I could change the Iron into something made just for me.

So I went and picked one up.  I received the bike about three weeks ago, and I’ve already added a few mods, notably forward controls and a set of 14″ gimp hangers from Nash Motorcycle Company.  Finally, I gave the bike a name.  Mixing together my favorite activity when staying with my dad–staying up late and watching TV–with my late start in the motorcycle world, I give you The Late Late Show.

This Sunday: Dunlap Speaks

This Sunday, my good friend (and one hell of a writer) Kelli Dunlap will be the featured guest on The Funky Werepig.  I’m sure she’ll talk about plenty of projects both recent and upcoming, including her novel In the Shadow of Darkness.  Since there’s no video, you won’t be able to tell how much she talks with her hands, but she’s always got something interesting to say!

So be there this Sunday, 9PM eastern, at The Funky Werepig.

The Grieving Process

In the past year, I’ve lost both of my parents.

Summer of 2008, a day after I received my Just Like Hell comp copies, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The doctors started him on chemo, and five weeks later, we learned the chemo wasn’t helping.  He was given two weeks to live, but he only lasted half that time.

He remained in high spirits, but a few days before he finally died, I saw him give up.  The two of us were eating chocolate sheet cake (his favorite) in the living room.  he took two bites, frowned, and grumbled, “I can’t taste anymore.”  He set the cake aside, closed his eyes, and I never saw him open them again.

I wasn’t supposed to like my dad. He was quiet, friendly, and easy-going, but he also moved to Florida a month before my high school graduation.  He barely ever called or wrote, and our conversations were stilted, clumsy affairs at best, and they reminded me of how clumsy and stilted I am in public, how terrified I am of people and how much I live in my own head.  I didn’t really get to know him until he moved to Texas a few years before his death. I’m very grateful for those years, when I finally realized that I loved my dad.

Almost a year to the day my father was diagnosed, doctors diagnosed my mother with liver cancer and gave her four-to-six months.  Again, they started chemo right away, and again, it was eventually determined that said chemo wasn’t working.  My mother lasted six days after she was told, catching pneumonia and falling victim to it.  Terrible, but better than the three more months of wasting away the doctors had given her.

I talked to my mother three times after she was diagnosed as terminal.  The first two were clumsy, stilted conversations that involved me trying to keep things light while I talked to this woman who was dying a minute at a time.  The third conversation took place after she’d been hospitalized on Saturday.  It was tough to understand her through her oxygen mask, but I got her to chuckle by telling her some stupid joke, and I told her twice that I loved her.  A few hours later, I’m told she closed her eyes and ever opened them again.

I love my mother, this over-protective woman who wished a nasty death on every girl whom refused to date me, this woman I never told about my new motorcycle because she would have spent hours crying about my imminent death.  Now, she’s gone, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting her birthday or calling every week so she won’t think I’m mad at her, and for some reason that just doesn’t feel real to me.
My mother and father are dead, and I don’t know how I feel.  There’s a mixture of sadness and relief, I think.  And fear.  And a desire to close myself off from everything else in the world.  I don’t want anybody else close to me to die.  I don’t want to experience that again.

I’m 32.  Neither of my parents made it past 72.  My life could be half-finished.

My oldest brother is in his fifties.

All I can think of is how desperately I want all of us to live.  Not survive, but live.

I’m going to spend the rest of the day writing and riding and holding Shawna, because those are the things I love to do.  In two days, I have to go to a funeral.  That’s two days in the future, though.  In two days, I can grieve.

Right now, I want to live.

Brian Keene Must Die!

A while back, a bunch of writers got together to kill Jack Haringa.  Well, not really, but they wrote stories in which they brutalized our favorite Grammar Hammer.  Now, it’s Brian Keene’s turn.  It’s for a really good cause: to drum up support, both financial and otherwise, for the Shirley Jackson Awards.  You’ll find a link at the bottom of the story.

But first…


By Nate Southard


The tragedy of horror author Brian Keene’s death is still fresh in the minds of many, but a new wrinkle is well worth examining.  Shortly after the author’s grisly death, fans pointed to his twitter feed.  Several of the tweets he posted during the last 24 hours of his life paint a timeline some might find very interesting.  Are there clues here that may lead authorities to suspect foul play? 

less than 5 seconds ago from txt

Jesus, the elevators moving
half a minute ago from txt

Martin gardens hotel in cleveland, oh.  Call them now!  Tell them about me!
3 minutes ago from txt

I’m down here.  Bottom of one of the elevator shafts.  Can’t feel my legs.  Somebody tell the police.  Tell hotel security.  Please!
4 minutes ago from txt

Anybody reading these?
4 minutes ago from txt

5 minutes ago from txt

What is this shit?  An elevator shaft?  A fucking elevator shaft?!  Why the fuck am I here?
6 minutes ago from txt

7 minutes ago from txt

And with that, I bid you goodnight.  See you tomorrow, Cleveland.
about 4 hours ago from txt

Perils of old age, I guess.  Fuck.
About 4 hours ago from txt

Wow.  Fatigue coming on fast.  Probably gonna crash soon.  Shame.  Party is still going strong.
about 4 hours ago from txt

Fucking ow!  Don’t know what just stung me, but it hurt bad enough for me to feel through half a gallon of bourbon.
about 5 hours ago from txt

@MikeOliveri and @CullenBunn are doing jello shots.  Fucking jello shots!  As long as they don’t jello wrestle, I guess it’s cool.
about 5 hours ago from txt

Aw, hell.  Is this kid gonna cry?
about 5 hours ago from txt

Yeah, Greasy Punk Kid is back, just asked me why I don’t respect my fans.  Told him I respect the sane ones just fine.
about 5 hours ago from txt

Christ.  This guy again…
about 5 hours ago from txt

Cracking open third bottle of Knob Creek. My name is Brian Keene, and I can bend the universe with my mind.
about 6 hours ago from txt

@DrJoeMaynard is sooooooo getting laid tonight.  I’ll see to it.
about 6 hours ago from txt

There’s Knob Creek bottle number two empty and tossed.  Sweet jumping fuck, I need snack cakes.
about 8 hours ago from txt

Time for room parties.  We shall tear this world apart.
about 9 hours ago from txt

Pasta and good conversation.  There’s no better dinner!
about 11 hours ago from txt

He stomped out. Some folks just can’t take a joke, I guess.
about 13 hours ago from txt

Some greasy haired punk kid asked what Ob’s doing right now.  I answered “Your mom.”
about 13 hours ago from txt

And there’s a panel down.  Ruffled some feathers, so it must’ve been a good one.
about 13 hours ago from txt

Why can’t we just kill zombies? Panel about to start.  Wish me luck.  Hope it’s not all mouth-breathers.
about 14 hours ago from txt

Broadcast from Cleveland continues.  Con going great.  Good finds in dealers’ room.  One panel today.
about 20 hours ago from txt

Hello, Cleveland!  HELLOOOOO CLEVELAND!!!
about 21 hours from txt

Again, we’re doing this to help raise awareness and money for the Shirley Jackson Awards.  If you could, please go to and consider making a donation.  Hope you guys had fun!