Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bigfoot Motel?

"Bigfoot see a shiny light
In the middle of the night.
Bigfoot see a neon sign.
Bigfoot reach for his credit card....
OH NO! Bigfoot Motel! Bigfoot Motel!"

That's a few lyrics from The Jazz Butcher for you there....

After an enjoyable, mostly relaxing weekend at Mum's in Martinsville, Kimberly and I headed back to Greensboro via a number of back roads through Rockingham and Guilford Counties that I might hunt a few geocaches en route. One never knows what one may discover in the field, and it's always most satisfying when you happen upon a cryptozoological wonder or two. "Bigfoot" (GC47472) was the most enjoyable of today's discoveries, chief reason being, well, it was Bigfoot. Not only Bigfoot but a few rather intriguing carved totem figures were watching from the nearby woods. As you can see in the photo at left, my feetz ain't the bigfeetz.

I'm currently hard at work on my next novel, which is a tale of horror involving... geocaching. It's tentatively titled The Night Cache, and while it's a long way from being finished, I think it's shaping up so that it will be equally engaging to readers whether they know (or care) diddly about caching or are fanatics about it. That's my aim, anyhow.

While I'm at it, allow me to mention that my creepy, deep, dark horror story, "Beneath the Pier," in Lovecraft eZine issue #21, is still readily available to check out, and it's free. You read. You enjoy. You scream, run, and hide. Is here.

A happily haunted little spot not far from Bigfoot Motel
Picturesque — and possibly haunted — tobacco barn, also not far from Bigfoot Motel

A couple of the fun little totem chaps that chuckled madly as Ms. B. and I hunted for Bigfoot

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fresh Air

The inevitable portrait from the day's caching trip

The best thing one can say about the days getting longer and the weather warming up is that it's a bit easier to fit the geocaching into the schedule. At the office, Good Friday is one of those days during the year you can take a floating holiday, and so, being as the caching was calling me and all, I took it. Spent most of it over in Alamance County, hunting for a few hides around Graham and Burlington. There's a fairly expansive natural area in north Burlington called Oakdale Town & Country Park, which runs along the always gorgeous Haw River. Much of my time out there was spent on a couple of hides that I ultimately could not find, but I did not care; it was just a great day to be outdoors. I love finding old, forgotten, and unusual things out on the trail, and there were several out that way: what might have been part of an old set of weighing scales hanging from a tree; a busted-up toy racing car stuck on a metal post; a portion of brick column in a creek that came from who-knows-what old structure. Perhaps the most interesting was discovering a new, unused can of Febreze out in the middle of woods, not too far from a cache. I figure I can always use a little extra fresh air in the house, so I took it home with me.

Today, Ms. B. and I popped up to Martinsville to see Mum, detouring through Eden to go after a four-stage multi cache called "Murdered by State of NC," after the inscription on the gravestone of a convicted murderer who proclaimed his innocence up until he was executed by the state. His mother had the epitaph put on his stone to protest the ostensible murder of an innocent man. A fun hide in a neat location, at which one discovers quite a bit of local history as told by the stones at many of the grave sites.

And that is all. For now.
A very green portion of the trail along the Haw River, on the way to a cache aptly titled "Emerald"
This little racer must have hit this pole pretty danged hard.
I think this came from an old set of scales; if you know, please weigh in.
No telling what this portion of column came from; I saw no other remains nearby.
Restored cabin and well at Graham Municipal Park

Monday, March 25, 2013

A New Freebie — The Gaki

I figured it was time to offer a new piece of free fiction on my website, so... tis here. It's "The Gaki," the headliner of my short fiction collection, The Gaki & Other Hungry Spirits from Dark Regions Press. I rarely look back at my older works of fiction unless I have reason to re-edit them for new publication or some such — or if I consider making them available on my website. After all these years, I still have the dickens of a time looking at my stories and novels with any sort of objectivity; more often than not, the best I can say about them is that they bring back vivid memories of the times that inspired the tales — sometimes good, sometimes bad. When I recently gave "The Gaki" a look-see, I actually rather liked it, above and beyond the years-old memories it conjured up.

Dark Regions is running all kinds of specials on their products, and both The Gaki and Other Gods may be found amongst them. I cordially invite you to check out the short story, and if you enjoy it, please venture over to Dark Regions, or Amazon, or what have you, and pick up the book. It's available in trade paperback and e-book formats — and Dark Regions may have a few signed hardback copies left.

Check out "The Gaki" at my website here. You can read it free online, or download a PDF or MOBI file for your Kindle. Enjoy (or run away in mindless terror, whichever best suits you).

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Fine Time at Binding Time

Today's book signing at Binding Time in Martinsville went quite swimmingly. Overall, a decent turnout — I came very close to selling out of The Monarchs — followed by an enjoyable interview for The Martinsville Bulletin, conducted by writer Ben Williams and photographer Mike Wray. As an aside, back in the spring of 1974, The Martinsville Bulletin ran its first feature about my rather monstrous creative activities — I had just sold a filmbook of Godzilla vs. The Thing to the very late, very lamented Monster Times (the filmbook ran in issue #42, July 1975), and I was just putting together the very first issue of Japanese Giants — and Mike was the photographer even back then. It's quite nice to see he's still providing a wonderful service for the newspaper and the community. It was most gratifying to have several geocachers pop in — Norman & Lynn, a.k.a. Spring1; Carol, a.k.a. Cassiliz; and Jeanne, a.k.a. Cantergirl — as well as my good friend Beth from Winston-Salem; and my seventh grade history teacher, Mrs. Tillery, who was surprised (and I gather pleased) to see I've made something other than fertilizer of myself.

Binding Time is a wonderful little cafe with a decent book section, and they actively promote local writers, which I very much appreciate. They serve excellent deli sandwiches (named after local streets — I had one called the Sam Lions Trail, which was smoked turkey, swiss cheese, red onion, tomato, and baby spinach on a croissant), desserts, and specialty coffees. It's a fine commodity for this economically challenged town, and I wish them every success for the long haul. They sponsor book festivals in the spring and fall, and I'll be appearing at the next one, which is on Saturday, May 4. If you're in the area, by all means stop by.
Ye auld author with his seventh grade history teacher, Mrs. Kerry Tillery
Beth Nelson sharing a laugh with a right funny fellow. Funny ha-ha, that is.
There be cachers here — Mr. Norman Dillon, one half of "Spring1"

In the sheer sadness department: by now, most everyone in the dark fiction community is aware of author Rick Hautala's passing of a heart attack at age 64, just yesterday. I was at dinner with Kimberly last night when I received the news, and it hit me so hard I could barely eat. I first met Rick back in the late 80s, at Necon, in Bristol, RI, and we ended up at various events together many times over the years. We've kept in touch pretty regularly via Facebook, though we hadn't met face to face for most of a decade; the last time was when we had dinner together at a convention in Charlotte, NC. I was never as close to him as many of our mutual friends, but I liked and admired him more than just about anyone in this business, and he always seemed to really appreciate our various interactions. I had published at least one story of his in Deathrealm, a good many years back. He was a congenial, rather humble man, clearly possessed of integrity; to my mind, that rarest of all things, a true gem of a human being. It's doubly tragic in that he had just secured a new book deal and it seemed as though, after taking some serious knocks over the years, he had finally reached a great place in his life. I know he dearly loved his wife, Holly. Rick touched many, many people, as evidenced by the vast outpouring of grief from those who knew him. His life — and his death — serve as a stern reminder that our time is short and we ought make the best of it. He set a mighty worthy example.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lost Places

One of the buildings at the old Dan River Mills facility, Danville, VA, now falling to ruin
There are many such locations in southern Virginia: once-thriving farms and factories, formerly affluent neighborhoods, opulent southern colonial mansions now fallen to ruin. A geocaching run through Danville and surrounding Pittsylvania County took me to quite a few of them today. Last night, I rode up to Martinsville and spent a very pleasant, very relaxing evening with Mum, reminiscing on our many good times over the years, particularly down in Georgia at her parents'. This morning, I headed over to Danville to hunt yet more caches that have popped up in the vicinity in the past month or so. I found a handful of entertaining hides, had a fabulous (and half-price) lunch at Tokyo Grill (which, for sushi, has become quite a favorite of mine — see some of my blogs about Danville), and then met my friend Audra and her son, Zachary, for a caching expedition through northern Pittsylvania County. After 80-degree weather yesterday, it was back to winter today, with cold, biting winds and occasional rain, but this deterred us none at all; fortunately, the rain tapered off and remained scarce for most of the afternoon.

Our hunt led us to a few truly forgotten, lost places that make one wonder just what might have transpired over the years. One of the sites we found had, at one time, apparently been a thriving neighborhood, with a scenic lake, a tennis court, and lord knows what other amenities; now it's an overgrown wilderness, home only to the local wildlife. The most intriguing of our stops was a once-expansive homestead, now completely overtaken by the forest. The main house is a collapsed ruin, the barn and outbuildings barely peeking out through dense barriers of trees. Inside one of the old structures, we came upon the decomposing head of an old doll nailed to the wall, which gave poor Audra a bit of a start — at least, that's what I gathered from her nervous, near-hysterical laughter upon her discovery of the thing. Our target was an old well, some fifty feet deep; a potentially treacherous place to hide a cache, yes, but we were smart — we let Zachary do the dirty work. (Audra wasn't too worried; if she lost him, she's still got another young 'un back home.)

An added bonus was stopping off to chat briefly with the owner of several of the coolest caches in Danville, Mr. Klaussinator his own self, as well as his daughter, who, in geocaching circles, goes by the name Sunpoppy. At the end of the day, we had added another ten or so caches to our respective totals; today was more about quality than quantity, and I'd say we certainly got it.

Till the next outing....

Audra (a.k.a. Homestyle) heading out to the tennis court of the dead
The old railroad bridge over the Dan River, now a part of the Riverwalk Trail
Geese double-parked on the Riverwalk; and they had the nerve to honk at me.
Old farmhouse overtaken by the woods. I'm pretty sure I heard unearthly voices whispering
horrible nothings somewhere in the darkness.
Looking down the old well. Yep, there's a cache in there.
Old dude in the front yard of the even older ruins
A much-needed rest stop. I said REST stop, not pit stop.
Yes, gracious. Young Zachary does have his ways of dealing with an unruly mum.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Of Caches and Unpaid Electric Bills

It's been a good week for first-to-finds. Got 20 last Sunday ("Cache au Vin," March 10), one on Wednesday (My First Cache Challenge, GC47FM4), and one yesterday (366 Days, GC47GX9). No first-to-finds today, but after work I did get out to Hagan Stone Park, down near Pleasant Garden, for a little caching and hiking. Not a big hike, but a pleasant one along the Ridge Trail, which is probably my favorite of the many out there. Near its beginning, the trail takes you through a tunnel of pines that extends as far as the eye can see — beautiful in any season, as you can see in the pic with the old dude to the left. And, as you may deduce from the photo above, someone in the great outdoors must have forgotten to pay their electric bill. I couldn't get that blasted bulb to turn on no matter what I did. At least I managed to sign the log. (That there is one of many fun geocaches in the park.)

Maybe it's because it's the Ides of March, but I have to wonder whether someone up and broke the internet today. The work computer, my phone, my home computer, all slower than corn-starched crap — when they're working at all. My phone wound down to a dead halt two or three times today, necessitating resets. I half-suspect Droolie, or perhaps even Frazier, since both of them are known to type unwholesome things on my computer when I'm not looking. Undoing their work can surely be a chore. Above and beyond that, technology just sucks bilge water sometimes, and I so despise that everything we do has become so dependent on it. I have embraced it almost too enthusiastically; too many changes too damned fast, too many evil minds throwing monkey wrenches into the works. Lord, sometimes I long for the days of a good ol' monkey wrench. The better to chuck it at someone, my dear.

I am done.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cache au Vin

Cranky old reptile — not looking too cranky — and very nice lady
Couldn't have paid for a nicer weekend for outdoor activities, so outdoor activities it was. Yesterday, the right lovely Ms. Brugger and I headed westward toward the Yadkin Valley, bound for Laurel Gray and Raffaldini Vineyards. Brugger and I both prefer dry reds, and Laurel Gray currently offers only two — Windsor, a Meritage-style blend of four estate-grown French vinifera grapes; and Scarlet Mountain, an off-dry blend of four Bordeaux grapes — but they're both so frippin' excellent that anything else would likely be superfluous. The winery itself is set in a scenic corner of Yadkin County, and the building features a large veranda from which one can sit comfortably and view the vineyards, a picturesque pond, and a bunch of rocks wherein lurks the geocache ("Grape City," GC1B8DX, which I found on an earlier expedition out this way). Was there additional caching on our way out west? Hell yes, there was caching on our way out west; what kind of question is that?
The view from the veranda at Laurel Gray Vineyards
After a couple of delicious glasses of wine at Laurel Gray, we moved on to Raffaldini, only five miles to the northwest, which is a much larger and more ambitious establishment. The winery is patterned after a Tuscan villa, and, as Ms. B. aptly observed, if you squint just right, you might get the feeling you're actually in western Italy. From the elevated terrace, you can see for countless miles, the crests of the Blue Ridge Mountains extending from horizon to horizon. Raffaldini's current list features about a dozen wines, including several dry reds that are uniformly excellent. Their Bello Misto — a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Petit Verdot — is a long-time favorite of mine, and their Sangiovese Riserva proved to be superb. They also make a delicious Montepulciano, but it's currently sold out.
The Villa at Raffaldini Vineyards (photo from their website)
Cupdaisy and Robgso signing the
log at one of many caches found
today. Why do suppose Cupdaisy
is holding that milk jug?

After an enjoyable afternoon at Raffaldini, we returned to the Piedmont Triad and met our friends, Terry and Beth Nelson, for a spot of dinner at Bill's Pizza Pub in Oak Ridge. Killer good pizza, this place has. Before retiring last night, I noticed that 26 new geocaches had been published down in the Grandover/Guilford Tech area, not too far away....

This morning, it was up early — way too early, since we lost a freaking hour to Daylight Saving Time — and a day on the caching trail with Rob Isenhour (a.k.a. Robgso) and Debbie Shoffner (a.k.a. Cupdaisy). We targeted those 26 new ones, and dang if we didn't get first to find on 20 of them. Most were none too difficult, but there were a couple that offered enjoyable physical challenges (tree climbing — woo hoo!). Afterward, a tolerable Mexican lunch at San Luis on High Point Road, and then a bit of maintenance on one of Cupdaisy's older caches. At the end of it all, we spent nearly an hour out in my driveway shooting the shit and swapping caching stories... which, you might be shocked to learn, geocachers are wont to do.

And that, I expect, will be the extent of our winery visitations... until we go visit more wineries. There are plenty of good ones in the area to choose from.

'Tis all.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Binding Time Book Signing

That's right, a dingy-dang book signing, on Friday, March 22, 2013, 3:00–5:00 PM, at Binding Time Cafe & Bookstore, 1115 Spruce Street, Martinsville, Virginia 24112. Stop in, meet the old man, and check out his latest novel, The Monarchs, among others. Binding Time is a cozy cafe that specializes in delicious food — and a fine selection of books. If you're in the area, do come round for a pleasant... and very likely frightening... afternoon in Martinsville! And for you geocachers out there.... Martinsville has a crapload of caches just waiting for you. I should know — I put a fair mess of them out there.

Hope to see you.

Monday, March 4, 2013

It Is NOT the "Lesbo" Coven

Author/retired college professor Anthony Servante gives The Lebo Coven the critical treatment in the latest installment of his blog, Servante of Darkness. Here's a little teaser:

"As I’ve eagerly awaited the paperback version of Blue Devil Island to arrive in the mail, I got to reading The Lebo Coven — 'a traditional, family-centered supernatural tale,' as Rainey calls it. So, even though I had (and still do) planned to review the historically based horror novel, Blue Devil Island, I jumped the gun a bit to review the latter work, and I'm glad I did...."

See why by heading over here: Servante on The Lebo Coven.

Also on the horror writing front, I'm planning to have a book signing in Martinsville (VA) at Binding Time cafe and bookstore, tentatively planned for Friday, March 22, from 3:00–5:00 PM. Binding Time is a fabulous little place — a cafe-slash-bookstore with excellent food and an intimate atmosphere. Check 'em out on Facebook too: If you're in the vicinity and can make it in, please do. I'll have copies of The Monarchs, Blue Devil Island, Other Gods, and The Gaki. I'll post an update when things are set in stone.

Read. The Lebo Coven at

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Just a Travelin', Cachin' Con Man

Stellarcon 37 is over and done — a reasonably successful weekend for me, with a couple of entertaining panels, a few books devalued with my signature, and a bunch of geocaches logged. (Alas, I neglected to take any photographs this year, candid, incriminating, horrifying, or otherwise.) On Friday evening, Ms B and I headed over to the Greensboro-High Point Airport Marriott Hotel, checked in at the con, and then headed straight back out to procure a first-class, grade-A, truly fabulous Japanese dinner at Little Tokyo in High Point (their bulgogi roll made my eyes roll back in my head, and I've not been able to see straight since). A couple of panels at the con followed, along with some pleasant, relaxing time with Ms Kimberly at the hotel bar. Saturday, I returned, sans girlfriend, for another panel and a book signing, and then I headed out for what really makes a convention a convention — a geocaching run. Since I've pretty well cleaned up the airport area, I headed into High Point proper and successfully hunted several, including one that has eluded me on several previous occasions.

A definite highlight of the con was getting to hang out with fellow writers/geocachers Andi Newton and Chad Bowser. We met for the first time at Stellarcon last year, and this time around we found several moments to swap caching and tale-telling tales. They live over in Kernersville, which Kimberly and I fairly regularly infiltrate (Bistro B in K'ville is one of our favorite places in the world), so we're hoping to get together to scheme, plot, bamboozle, commiserate, and cache in the near future.
A right nice picture of my
right nice Mum

It was nothing if not a well-traveled weekend. Today, I needed to head up to Martinsville to help Mum with some pressing financial matters, so I rousted myself at the crack of dawn and, hoping to grab several new caches, made the trip in very roundabout fashion: first, up through Madison, NC; then up to Stuart, VA; over to Fairystone Park, VA; and finally into Martinsville. I did manage first-to-find on a couple of them, and, quite by chance, I ran into my friend Ed Kuykendall (a.k.a. Kuykenew) on the caching trail (we had shared first-to-find honors on a new night cache in Martinsville last weekend). Before heading home, I detoured through Eden to grab a new puzzle cache. That done, it was back to Greensboro to see how much of my house Droolie had left me.

It wasn't completely in shambles. Not completely. But the team from Designs by Droolie® had definitely given the place a thorough once-over.

That is all.