Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remembering DARK SHADOWS at

The past couple of weeks, Greg Lamberson of has been interviewing me about Dark Shadows: Path of Fate. It's interactive and in-depth, and I really enjoyed doing it. I hope the positive energy shows through.

Check it out here:

Picked up four new caches after work this afternoon, which leaves me 41 before hitting the big 1K. Now it's back into the dark world of the short story I'm working on....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

There and Back Again

Last night was such a beautiful evening, I couldn't not go out into the woods geocaching. About 10:30 PM, I took off with my caching pal, Ethan (Sneaky Bulldog), and we ventured out into the great beyond to claim a few finds. Yep, we snagged the ones we were looking for, but in the process had to pass through a dense pine forest full of spiders, which gave even the one of us who doesn't ordinarily mind spiders (which is not me) a touch of the shudders. Thousands of little glowing eyes in the beam of my headlight, and there we were traipsing amongst them. (Silly humans.) Took a close look at a few of them, and they were not necessarily small and innocuous. Think Shelob.

Then it was up fairly early this morning for a day-long trek over to Archdale with Mrs Death and our friend Beth (UNCGBogTurtle). We were mostly after quick park-n-grabs, but at Creekside Park, we got out and hiked a good ways in very picturesque surroundings. We ended the evening with dinner at Rearn Thai, which really hit the fiery spot after long day on the go.

I'm up to 952. 1K, here I come.

Now I'm tired as fire and contemplating sleep. Not sure I have the energy left to get to the bedroom, so if you hear a thunk and the text goes wonky...that was just my head hitting the keyboard.

I sleep now.
Success! UNCGBogTurtle and Mrs Death signing the log

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OTHER GODS on 2008 Stoker Award Prelim Ballot

If you're an active member of HWA and would like a comp copy of my short fiction collection, Other Gods, drop me a note, as Dark Regions still has a few copies available (mark-at-stephenmarkrainey-dot-com).

Here's the preliminary ballot. Note: Only active members of HWA are eligible to vote on the Stoker Awards.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Coffin County by Gary Braunbeck (Leisure)
The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford (William Morrow)
Ghost Walk by Brian Keene (Leisure)
The Reach by Nate Kenyon (Leisure)
Duma Key by Stephen King (Scribner)
Johnny Gruesome by Gregory Lamberson (Bad Moon/Medallion)
Water Witch by Deborah Leblanc (Dorchester/Leisure)
Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
Dead and Gone by Harry Shannon (Delirium Books)
The Price by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martins)
The Man on the Ceiling by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem (Wizards of the Coast)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse by William D. Carl (Permuted Press)
Apricot Brandy by Lynn C├ęsar (Juno Books)
Midnight On Mourn Street by Christopher Conlon (Earthling Publications)
Veins by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)
Eternal Vigilance by Gabrielle S. Faust (Immanion Press)
The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press)
Monster Behind the Wheel by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin (Delirium Books)
Frozen Blood by Joel A. Sutherland (Lachesis Publishing)
Crimson Orgy by Austin Williams (Borderlands Press)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
"The Lagerstatte" by Laird Barron (The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy)
"The Shallow End of the Pool" by Adam-Troy Castro (Creeping Hemlock)
"Miranda" by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
"Redemption Roadshow" by Weston Ochse (Burning Effigy)
"The Confessions of St. Zach" by Gene O'Neill (Bad Moon Books)
"Orpheus and the Pearl" by Kim Paffenroth (Magus Press)
"Behold the Child" by Harry Shannon (Brimstone Turnpike)
"Just Like Hell" by Nate Southard (Thunderstorm Books)
"Population Zero" by Wrath James White (Cargo Cult Press)
"Orgy of Souls" by Wrath James White, and Maurice Broaddus (Apex Book Company)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
"The Last Word" by Maria Alexander (Sins of the Sirens)
"Mama Strangelove's Remedies for Afterlife Disorders, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Mother Death" by C. Dean Andersson (Brutarian)
"Consumed" by Michael Louis Calvillo (Horror Library Volume 3)
"Petrified" by Scott Edelman (Desolate Souls)
"Mechanix" by Christopher Fulbright (Bound for Evil)
"The Lost" by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance Publications)
"The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft" by Nick Mamatas, and Tim Pratt (Chizine)
"The Haven" by John Palisano (Horror Library Vol. 3)
"Turtle" by Lee Thomas (Doorways)
"The Blog at the End of the World" by Paul Tremblay (Chizine)
"Those Eyes" by Mark W. Worthen (Thinner Than Mist)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology
The Undead: Headshot Quartet edited by Christina Bivins and Lane Adamson (Permuted Press)
Like a Chinese Tattoo edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
Horror Library, Vol. 3 edited by R. J. Cavender (Cutting Block Press)
Abominations edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing)
Beneath the Surface edited by Tim Deal (Shroud Publishing) Unspeakable Horrors 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)
Little Creatures by Michael McCarty (Sam's Dot Publishing)
Other Gods by Stephen Mark Rainey (Dark Regions Press)
The Autopsy and Other Tales by Michael Shea (Centipede)
Sheep and Wolves by Jeremy C. Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press) Fourtold by Michael Stone (Baysgarth Publications)
Gleefully Macabre Tales by Jeff Strand (Delirium)
Ennui and Other States of Madness by David Niall Wilson (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction
Shadows Over New England by David Goudsward, and Scott T. Goudsward (BearManor Media)
Bram Stoker's Notes for Dracula by Robert Eighteen-Bisang and Elizabeth Miller (McFarland)
Spirits and Death in Niagara by Marcy Italiano (Schiffer Publishing)
The New Annotated Dracula by Leslie S. Klinger (W. W. Norton)
Beauty and Dynamite by Alethea Kontis (Apex Publications)
Cheap Scares by Gregory Lamberson (McFarland)
Zombie CSU by Jonathan Maberry (Citadel)
Modern Mythmakers by Michael McCarty (McFarland)
A Hallowe'en Anthology by Lisa Morton (McFarland)
The Book of Lists: Horror by Amy Wallace, Del Howison, and Scott Bradley (Harper)

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)
Virgin of the Apocalypse by Corrine De Winter (Sam's Dot Publishing)
The Flayed Man and Other Poems by Phillip A. Ellis (Gothic Press)
Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty (Skullvines Press)
Ghosts of Past and Future by Darrell Schweitzer (Borgo)

Congrats and best wishes to everyone on the prelim ballot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dare to Hope

I expect just about every blogger on the InterWebz is having his say about today's inauguration, so here's my little contribution to stew.

(I'm backtracking here; I wrote much of the following using a lot of collective "we's". That's a mistake. I have substituted a few "I's" for a number of them. Otherwise, I would have reason to doubt my own honesty.)

This is a cynical nation, and it's no wonder. Near as I can tell, irresponsibility, divisiveness, and caustic rhetoric have all but replaced thoughtful, rational discourse across the entire socio-political spectrum—to the point that it seems everything, from the most urgent national/international summit to the weekly Boy Scout meeting down the street, is stalled in a gridlock of negativity. Wherever I am, in virtual space or real space, it's absolutely pervasive. People thrive on conflict, no matter how counterproductive. And since we are wired into the world's conflicts via every conceivable form of communication from the time we get up in the morning till we hit the sack, our senses are overwhelmed. It doesn't take much to short-circuit us because our circuits are overloaded.

In some respects, we are experiencing trauma. Certainly not like in so many other places. Here, we're not being shelled daily. Most of us are not facing a murderous famine that's the result of both nature and human depravity. We don't suffer under a theocracy that oppresses women and ferociously punishes dissent with corporal and capital punishment. Still, there is trauma. It's insidious. It's the cancer of chronic frustration.

Much of my personal frustration comes from the fact that the world is too small to process comfortably anymore. There's no over there left; the land across the water is my own backyard. And so many of the dire things I witness daily have nothing to with my choices. Constantly, I witness the consequences of greed, irresponsibility, and arrogance of a relative few, about whom I can do little or nothing—other than accede to so many demands to clean up their mess—to the point that that, instead of pulling myself up and out of it, I adopt a victim mentality.

A grave mistake.

(I think I can comfortably add a few "we's" here. Because I know there are an awful lot of others like me.) We are a people desperate for a breath of hope. We are mad as hell and don't want to take this anymore. We're dying for the medication that will bring down our collective blood pressure.

Whether real or illusory, Obama represents something different to a nation burned out with the garbage we've immersed ourselves in—unwillingly and all too willingly—for decades, and particularly for the past eight years. His words ring with common-sense truth. He gives the impression of integrity. His dynamic delivery lends credence to the idea that we can overcome the cancers of chronic frustration and cynicism.

The question that now stands is this: will he, can he, deliver? The problems he faces are BIG, and I feel it is a fatal mistake to place too much faith in one man, whatever his position of power, whatever his true intentions. People fail, and after the period of orientation, I fear that many who support him now, all too quickly disillusioned, will not just be watching for him to fail (eagerly watching, at that), but willfully placing stumbling blocks in his path.

That's the cynic returning. No. It's the realist returning, but I believe that realism and cynicism are all too closely entwined. But for today, I see people daring to hope. They make me dare to hope. Whether I personally believe the new president's words or not, those words — and his presence — have generated what I fervently hope will be a long-lasting wave of positivity powerful enough counter widespread negativity. To turn frustration into inspiration. Pessimism into productivity.

What I dare to hope for is that Barack Obama will just be a good president.

And please, please, pardon this cliche, but I see no good way around it. (Mind you, I love Rush but I hate this song—except for the message of its opening lines, which to me, have strong meaning.)

"And the men who hold high places must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality closer to the heart."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tagged! Six Random Things...

I almost never do these random meme things, but since I was tagged by my friend Dave, who also almost never does these random meme things, I figured I would get into the spirit and do this thing.

Okay. Six random things that most people probably don't know about me.

1) My girlfriend from 1982–83 is now Assistant Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Navy. Had we gotten married (which didn't seem too far beyond the realm of possibilities at the time), there's no telling where we might have ended up, but something tells me she would not now be Assistant Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Navy.

2) Speaking of getting our wedding reception, Mrs Death and I danced the first dance to "Do You Remember Love?" which was the song played during the final battle in the 1984 anime feature Super Dimensional Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (we gave the band the music so they could learn it). Our final dance of the night was to "Born to Be Wild."

3) When I was seven years old, there or about, I watched Godzilla, King of the Monsters on TV, and just as it ended, an earth tremor shook my hometown—the first in over a hundred years. At that moment, I became a true believer in Godzilla.

4) My favorite drink is a hot-pepper martini of my own recipe. But then you knew that.

5) From age 12 to age 32, there was never a time I didn't have at least one guinea pig for a pet.

6) I created Japanese Giants, a fanzine about Godzilla, kith and kin (believe it or not), when I was 14 years old. Because of it, I met hardcore daikaiju fans Bill Gudmundson and Ed Godziszewski, both of whom lived in Chicago. They took the helm for JG in subsequent years so that it would not die. When I got out of college, I moved to Chicago to: 1) be at the bustling hub of daikaiju fandom and 2) find gainful employment. I haven't really been involved with JG in recent years, but Ed has kept it going to this day, albeit irregularly and infrequently. While in Chicago, I ended up meeting Mrs Death at my place of employment, and marriage resulted. So, in essence, starting up JG was probably the event that set me on the path my adult life has taken. So here's a hot pepper martini to Japanese Giants.

And in the spirit of keeping this blog-thing going, I'm going to tag Maurice Broaddus, Matt Cardin, Bob Freeman, Alethea Kontis, Kim Paffenroth, and Stewart Sternberg.

THE RULES (for this game of tag):
7) DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN (not actually a rule).

It's Becoming a Habit

Finding old cars in the woods.

Came upon another one while bushwhacking around Lake Townsend on the hunt for a few new caches (found five). I knew there was one old auto nearby, since there's a cache hidden there, but this one was a surprise. Well, not too big a surprise, as they seem to be everywhere out there in the wild (Out Yonder and Baby, You Can Drive My Car, Redux).

Mein gott, Mark is tired and shagged out after the afternoon's nice hike. But the deadline looms, and there's still work to be done on "The End of Henry Switch Road," so tonight, work will be done. It's progressing nicely.

A gray but very pleasant day for hiking.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Well-Oiled Machine

That's the name of a geocache placed in honor of my impending one-thousandth cache find, which isn't too far down the road now. This one was a slippery challenge, to be sure. In fact, if you live within a hundred miles of here, you probably heard me fussing and hollering and yelling and kicking and screaming as I labored to conquer the thing — and finally succeeded. So, I'm one cache closer now to the big 1K.

Otherwise, I'm working on an interview for about Dark Shadows: Path of Fate and a new short tale titled "The End of Henry Switch Road." It's all flowing pretty well. Have gotten both bad news and good news on the writing front, so I guess it all evens out in the end...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Owe the Author a Drink... I had a martini.

The Dark Shadows audio drama I wrote, The Path of Fate, is now officially available from Big Finish. It's the first time something I've written has been performed professionally, so I've been eager to hear how the finished product compares to what I heard in my head while composing it. I listened to it for the first time this morning, and by and large, it's pretty true to my original mental construct. Some aspects are, as expected, rather different, but its most intense moments are perhaps even more intense than I might have expected. As it moved toward its climax, I found myself going "Whoa." And I mean, "WHOA!" The actors (David Selby and Lara Parker) really gave the drama a fine treatment, particularly in its more, uh, energetic passages. While I can't exactly put myself in the position of a listener experiencing the story for the first time, I was able to listen to at least portions of it in the company of a partner at the office — an old-time Dark Shadows fan, at that — who was experiencing it for the first time.

By her reaction, I'd say she was pleased, perhaps more than a little. And that pleased me, like, more than a little, too.

Like anything I've written, Dark Shadows: The Path of Fate will have its admirers and detractors, and that's all fine and as it should be. How ever it's received by ye audience, to me, it's kind of a landmark in the ol' career.

So I consider that martini at least reasonably well-deserved.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ack. Gack.

To kick off 2009, I'm posting no year-out, year-in words of wisdom; no lists; no vivid and exciting adventure stories.

F'ing cold bug. It's a nasty one, and it's all I can do to manage getting these several stories written and tidied up to get off to editors by deadline. And it's back to the office tomorrow, no matter how I feel, as we're off to a heavy start for the new year. Which is, all things considered in this economy—or lack thereof—a damn good thing.

At least things on the writing front are still keeping me hopping. Also a damn good thing. Sure would help to feel better, though. It was particularly frustrating yesterday, as it was absolutely perfect caching weather.

Oh, yes. This year, there will be caches hidden and found, and I expect lots of them. January 12 is the one-year anniversary of my first cache find, and right now, I'm just shy of 900. Perhaps in February, I'll hit 1K.

Man, I feel better already.