Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jack-o'-Lanterns and Other Memoirs

Somehow, we've already come around another year to my single favorite day at the office. Trick-or-treating, jack-o-lantern and costume contests, and a story reading by ye old man. Today it was "The Jack-o-Lantern Memoirs," originally published in Flesh & Blood Press's Octoberland anthology, edited by Jack Fisher, back in 2002. I had to edit the tale rather severely to prevent offending small children, particularly sensitive persons, and most co-workers (including ye boss), but it all came together pretty well, and the substantial crowd packed into the break room appeared to eat it up. The unexpurgated version is currently available for free at my website (Free Fiction: "The Jack-o-Lantern Memoirs"). Keeping to my Halloween custom, I took the afternoon off, but I did have an excellent lunch with Brugger at Thai Garden on Tate Street. And, by the way, she did win the jack-o'-lantern contest, which was good for a $50 prize, which will no doubt help keep me living the extravagant lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. Usually on Halloween, I try to fit some geocaching into my time off, but today, I had some financial business to attend to. Not so much fun, but productive. Tonight, it's a gathering with some of our supper club bunch to surprise unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. That should be fun.

Y'all be sure to wear your Silver Shamrock masks tonight....

The boys are back in town. Or in the tree, as it were....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Crossroad Press Announces THE MONARCHS

Crossroad Press has announced that it will be releasing my most recent completed novel, The Monarchs, late this year or early next, in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio book formats. The story is something of a hybrid — a southern gothic murder mystery with a touch of Lovecraftian horror. The cover art, featured here, is provided by Austin Bentley. The novel is set in the Dismal Swamp of North Carolina, a place that I became a bit more familiar with than I would have liked when I got lost there several years ago, following a visit with friend, writer, and Crossroad Press founder David Niall Wilson in Hertford, NC. It happened like this. Rather than leave Hertford and head home to Greensboro, I had intended to go to Martinsville, VA, to visit my mom. At the time, having no GPS, I studied Google Maps prior to leaving and wrote out some directions to get to U.S. Highway 58, just over the state line. Unfortunately, I had not zoomed in close enough on the maps to realize that not all the little back roads on my route were continuous — a couple of them had jogs in one direction or another before they continued northward. Needless to say I missed a turn or two. This put me in some of the most desolate country I've ever encountered — mostly marshland, with only the occasional farmhouse or mobile home to suggest any human presence. I finally happened upon a little gas station and asked the attendants if they could tell me how to reach Highway 58, to which they answered, "Huh, what, where?" I purchased an honest-to-god map, finally figured out where I was, and proceeded to make only one more wrong turn before I finally reached my destination.

At the end of it all, I had just about all of The Monarchs plotted in my head. It was a maddening and frustrating experience, yet I'd certainly never take it back, for in many ways, I enjoyed visiting the desolate yet picturesque countryside, and, hey, I got a novel out of it.

Here's a brief plot summary:

After her husband murders their daughter and then commits suicide, Courtney Edmiston, devastated and homeless, accepts an invitation to move in with her old college friend, Jan Blackburn. Jan lives with her brother, David, and eccentric Aunt Martha in the town of Fearing, North Carolina, at the edge of the Dismal Swamp. The Blackburn family has suffered its own recent tragedies — and Courtney learns that Jan and David have more than their share of enemies in the town. Because of her association with them, Courtney soon finds Fearing a very dangerous place to live. Certain members of the Surber family, who once worked for the Blackburns, hold a deep grudge against Jan and David and, on several occasions, attempt brutal acts of violence against them. Courtney, determined to help her friend in her own time of crisis, sets out to broker a peace but instead becomes more and more mired in the bitter feud.

For reasons Courtney cannot comprehend, many of the townspeople fear old Martha Blackburn. However, she begins to understand why when Martha threatens the Surbers with swift retribution — by way of a ghostly entity known as the Monarch — and gruesome death does indeed visit the Surbers. And to her horror, Courtney, caught between the two feuding families, at last becomes the focus of Aunt Martha’s fury.

In desperation, two of the Surber brothers abduct Courtney and Jan and threaten to kill them unless the Blackburns meet their demands. However, Martha unleashes the horrific Monarch against her family's rivals. And Courtney, whom Martha now considers an enemy, becomes as much a target for its inhuman wrath as the remaining members of the treacherous Surber family....

I will post updates and ordering information when available, here and at my website:

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Since I was quite the young chap, most every year — usually just before Halloween — I have made the pilgrimage to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mabry Mill for their incomparable buckwheat pancakes. This year was no exception. Ms. B. and I were up long before the sun for the trip, and, as it turned out, the sun never even showed its face, for a massive wall of clouds and fog enveloped everything as we made our way from Martinsville toward the Parkway.
Tree stand
We arrived safely at Mabry Mill just before the restaurant opened at 8:00 AM and commenced the usual feeding frenzy: pancakes, bacon, and scalding hot coffee — black as midnight on a moonless night, naturally. Then it was off to nearby Buffalo Mountain for a bit of hiking and caching. Though the temperature wasn't uncomfortable, the fog remained thick, almost impenetrable, until well after noon. The drive on the gravel road to the trail head and the hike up the steep mountainside were straight out of Stephen King's The Mist, which meant the spectacular views the trail typically affords consisted mainly of solid white sheets. Occasional gunfire in the distance did make me wonder whether a heated battle with fee-rocious supernatural critters might actually be in offing. Alas, I never did spot any malevolent, carnivorous beasties; only a colorful and reasonably friendly salamander, which, I suspect, was a bit too small to manage any appreciable human carnage. Sigh. However, there are two caches at the summit ("Eye High" [GC1J1HX] and "Buffalo Mountain Preserve Cache" [GCNNZP]), both of which we logged without undue difficulty.

From Buffalo Mountain, it was down to Villa Appalaccia — one of the best wineries in the region — for a tasting and a glass of Aglionico; then over to Chateau Morrisette, just five minutes away, for another tasting, a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a picnic lunch on their sprawling, scenic grounds. About the time we started back from the Parkway, the fog began to lift — sadly, revealing not even one giant monster lumbering about the countryside. One of these days, I tell you, we're gonna find one, and then there will be such a party.

Click images to enlarge.
A wee bit of mist on the way up to Buffalo Mountain. I'm sure I heard some heavy,
booming footsteps in the distance.
Damned Rodan on the rocks
Damned Rodan at the summit
This little fellow didn't look much disposed to wreak any particular havoc. Alas.
Stephen King's The Mist has got nothing on this place.
Brugger relaxing after a long hike

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Incredible Edibles

Intrepid frosting crew members brace themselves for the horrors which are about to be wrought.
For several millennia, the nice lady has observed a particularly tasty Halloween tradition: baking a big old batch of sugar cookies and then having a frosting party. Last night, it came to be that time. The right honorable Doug Cox and reigning frosting queen Jenny Chapman joined Kimberly and me at Chez Brugger to spread a mess of stuff on a crapload of cookies. Drinks, bloody Band-Aids, gaping flesh wounds, and all kinds of happy nastiness followed. Witness the following frights....
We had plenty of first-aid supplies in case of emergency. Looks like somebody
already bled on the Band-Aids.
This cookie has a mighty ugly laceration. I'm not eating that thing!

A smattering of the spooky wares

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

YES Weekly and the Local Talent

Last weekend, I did an interview for YES Weekly, one of our local free news/entertainment/alternative newspapers. It was a lot for a little, since the Local Talent section is basically a paragraph, but it was a pretty nice little write-up, and it featured a shot of ye ol' man dropping down into the well at The Curse of Samara Morgan (GC1QF2B). Here's the link. Don't say I didn't warn you. Local Talent, 10-24-12

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grandpa Blackbeard's Barbecued Church Chicken

Some of the rural NC roads off Highway 87, between Burlington and Fayetteville, get high marks in my book, for obvious reasons....

Went down that way for some serious caching with Rob "RTMLee" Lee today — essentially, a sunup-to-sundown excursion. Rob picked out some highly rated geocaches, and we set out to grab them. Among the most enjoyable were "The Ghost of Grandpa Alex" (GC2PFMQ) which was ghostly indeed; "Blackbeard's Lost Treasure" (GC1E17N), a nicely done, three-stage multi at the very haunted-looking Texas Lake; the "Compass Rose" series (GC1K03Y), which was a set of four caches placed at points in the four cardinal directions from a center point, at which you find the final cache; "Watchful One (GCYJVK), the setup of which could make certain sensitive persons paranoid; and "Air-Dropped Cache" (GC1P48H), which is an ammo can that was actually dropped from a Blackhawk helicopter — requiring one to calculate the impact point based on the speed and altitude of the helicopter from a specific release point. At the end of the day, I think we ended up with 25 finds, few of which were quick and simple grabs. We had a great time working to get them.

Lunch was a dynamite seafood burrito from Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant in Fayetteville. Biggest damn thing I've ever seen. Bigger than Bigfoot. And good.
Texas Lake, viewed while on the hunt for Blackbeard's Lost Treasure
Damned Rodan catches "Air-Dropped Cache," and RTM Lee unearths "The Compass Rose."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Let the Holiday Season Commence

It is now officially acceptable for the Halloween season to commence, for I have watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Brugger came round last night, and, after some killer Asian food at Simply Thai in Elon, we popped in the Charlie Brown DVD, just to make sure the season didn't get ahead of us — which, around these parts, is expressly verboten. Actually, we got things off to a mighty good start on Friday night, when I put in my appearance at The Woods of Terror on Church Street, which always makes for an entertaining, energy-charged evening. Today, Ms. Bridget "Suntigres" Langley and I embarked on a decent geocaching run around Thomasville and High Point, which resulted in making the acquaintance of thirty-some caches and a very friendly northern black widow, pictured at left. Lunch happened at Mi Pueblo Mexican Restaurant in High Point, where I decided to attempt a very scientific comparison of the chile relleno and the chile poblano. I have very scientifically determined that both recipes fucking rock when accompanied by a decent margarita on the rocks and hit with a big old splash of super-dyna-whoppin' habanero sauce.

As an additional bit of fun, my horror short story, "Asylum," has been accepted for a future issue of the excellent Lore magazine, edited by Rod Heather. Pleased, I am.
The spread at The Woods of Terror on Church Street, 10-12-12
Ol' Rodan at the Big Honking Chair in Thomasville, NC, 10-14-12

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back to the Woods of Terror!

Ye old dude will be selling and signing books in the concession area of The Woods of Terror on Church Street (5601 North Church Street, Greensboro, NC 27455) on Friday night, October 12, 2012, from 7:00 pm till 9:00 pm. I'll have copies of Blue Devil Island, The Lebo Coven, The Gaki & Other Hungry Spirits, Other Gods, a few Dark Shadows audio drama CDs, and several anthologies that feature my short fiction. It's free to get into the concession area where I'll be set up, though there is a nominal parking fee. The trail itself is a bit expensive — I believe it's 25 bucks a head — but it's a fun and frightful way to kick off the Halloween season. If you're looking for a good scare, do come around. For more info about the attraction, visit

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Defileth Not!

When I was a young'un, the woods around my house in Martinsville were a source of pure joy as well as abject fear. In the daytime, they were a seemingly endless place to explore, play army, hunt dinosaurs, practice kung fu, blow up model tanks, and all kinds of exciting things. At night, whippoorwills, owls, insects, and other night creatures made eerie, sometimes ghastly noises that convinced me all was not what it seemed in the dark. It was the latter that so shaped my sensibilities early on and most directly influenced me to explore the emotion of fear in my fiction. It was from those woods that the "Fugue Devil" sprang (see The Log, May 23, 2006), and that "The Gray House" was born. In my teenage years, with the onslaught of land development in the area, I became aware of how fragile and how precious such places are — and how utterly decimated I would feel if they were destroyed by those who see such green areas as nothing more than sources of revenue. Happily, for the most part, those woods still exist, though there are certainly more houses in that part of the neighborhood than when I was growing up. One of my favorite things in my current wanderings there is finding old souvenirs of my past there: bits and pieces of countless toys and models that I used in early special effects experiments; the beech tree carved with the name of our old kung fu club ("Swords of the Dragon," or some such thing); and the two trees that boast the visages of protective demons, which, in my young teen years, I carved to emphasize the natural patterns in the bark, along with the words "Defileth Not" — warnings to anyone who might go into those woods for any reason other than to preserve them.
Well, they're all still there, so maybe the demons are hard at work. Let's hope so.

Brugger and I undertook a little trip to Martinsville this weekend, by way of the Eden Drive-In Theater on Friday night, for a showing of The House at the End of the Street. It was unremarkable, but a fun enough little drive-in movie to kick off the Halloween season. Then, yesterday, she and I spent the day uptown at the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Mainly, I went to autograph some posters from Young Blood: Evil Intentions (see Fun Blood, September 22, 2012 ), which movie makers Mat and Myron Smith were selling at their booth, but I really did enjoy wandering about checking out the vendors' wares. There was a record number this year, and I don't think I've ever seen a bigger crowd in town, save for the Christmas parades I used to attend as a kid. I hope the many vendors made lots of money. We parted with a few dollars here and there, and we had funnel cake. That's two weekends in a row I've had funnel cake. I may die. Of joy.

Last evening, my friends Joe Albanese and Dan Shannon celebrated their birthdays at the Albaneses' place in Greensboro, so after a spot of geocaching in Danville, Brugger and I went to help them out. We drank wine and stayed up late.

Today, it's back to The Night Cache, the current work-in-progress. And, if I'm lucky, perhaps a little caching as well.
Why, yes there were llamas at Oktoberfest. This is important to remember:
If you are swimming and you see llamas, you shout, "Watch out! There are llamas!"

A large number of vendors and attendees at Oktoberfest. Note the absence of stampeding llamas. Disappointing.
The old courthouse in uptown Martinsville, which has been restored and refurbished. Unfortunately, the
construction took out one of my geocaches, forcing me to archive it. A shame, as it was a nice cache.