Monday, July 24, 2023

The Canterbury Nightmares Is in the House!

My contributor copy of editor David Niall Wilson’s The Canterbury Nightmares, featuring my story, “The Secret Place: A Knight’s Tale,” is in the house. As one might infer from its title, the anthology is inspired by the work of Chaucer. It’s now up for pre-order from Crossroad Press in ebook, trade paperback, and hardback.

The Canterbury Nightmares is a new anthology of terror tales, all of which combine the essence of Chaucer’s pilgrims on their journey to a shrine with the apparent climax of the recent global COVID-19 pandemic. These stories were born in a time when personal connections were few, breathing the air in a grocery store felt unsafe, and the country all but dissolved into divided and seemingly irreparable factions.

The Canterbury Nightmares: Eleven travelers head out to visit the Grand Canyon, all motivated by their own powerful, personal reasons. All have suffered profound losses; all harbor secret but consuming agony. An old man taking a long-promised journey with his wife. A congregation that has lost its way. Individuals of different backgrounds and cultures, all dealing with grief, loss, and isolation. In The Canterbury Nightmares, you will be led not only to the soaring precipices of the Grand Canyon but also into deep, dark, unimaginable recesses.”

Table of Contents:
“The Old Man’s Tale” – Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Liberation of Brother Buffalo” – Michael Boatman
“Think of the Family” – Ai Jiang
“To See Her in Sepia” – Scott J. Moses
“The Preditor's Tale” – Terence Taylor
“The Wife of Wrath’s Tale” – John B. Rosenman
“The Secret Place: A Knight’s Tale” – Stephen Mark Rainey
“The Sacred Clarion” – S.A. Cosby
“The Tour Guide's Tale” – Anna Tambour
“Every Form of Person” – J.A.W. McCarthy
“Vending Machine Girl”– Eric LaRocca

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Deathrealm: Spirits—Table of Contents TBA


The complete Deathrealm: Spirits anthology table of contents will be revealed on Tuesday, July 25...

So far we've only teased four contributors: Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene, Elizabeth Massie, and Eric LaRocca. There are 16 more incredible authors in the lineup! These are all new stories (and poems as well)!

Deathrealm: Spirits, edited by... me... releases from Shortwave Publishing (trade paperback & ebook) in October 2023.

Pre-orders are now available (trade paperback and e-book): Deathrealm: Spirits

Some years ago, I put together a comprehensive retrospective of Deathrealm magazine, which — if you are brave and daring (or perhaps masochistic) — you can find here.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

What a Waste

On Valentine's Day, 2020, Ms. B. and I were going out to dinner when a very impaired young fellow named Austin Mabry smashed into my car while we were sitting at a stoplight. He was immediately arrested on the scene, and I was called to be a witness at his court appearance. He didn't show up.

Since then, he has apparently faced numerous other drug-related charges, and the local police have been looking for him for a while. A short time ago, they found him dead in the crawlspace under a building not far from here. Doesn't sound like foul play; I suspect an overdose.

By all indications, he was the consummate waste of flesh. Still, I can't help but find it tragic for someone that young to be so fucked up. And now gone. Of course, this shit happens every day, but having experienced this kid up close and personal, that twinge of sadness isn't so abstract. He wasn't really a "kid," but for me, it's hard to think of him otherwise.

February 14, 2020: A Smashing Valentine's Day

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Damned Rodan's Chicken Dijon

Ms. B. and I eat a lot of chicken, and I have quite a few recipes, most resulting from trial and error while trying to reproduce (or come close to) some dish I've had at a restaurant or friend's place. Now and again, I find a recipe online and follow it with varying degrees of faithfulness (usually, I go all kinds of nuts with such things, and I'm pretty sure that what I come up with is usually better than if I'd simply followed the recipe to the letter).

Last night, on a whim, I decided to try my hand at Chicken Dijon, which I'd never made before. I found a base recipe (where, I'll never remember), and fucked around with it until I came up with what turned out to be a winning formula. Now, most of my recipes are for fiery things (some of my Thai-based concoctions have on occasion been almost too much for me), but not always. The Chicken Dijon certainly wasn't loaded with heat, although it did have a pleasant little kick.

Feel free to try this (or screw around with it to your heart's content).

3 slices bacon
4–6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lb.)
2 c angel hair pasta (4 servings)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
1/4 c fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tsp ground coriander
4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 c white wine (I used Vermouth, since it was the nearest thing at hand)
1 c chicken broth
1 c half-and-half
2 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 c frozen green peas
1/4 c capers
4 to 6 Lemon wedges

In a large skillet (I prefer cast iron), cook bacon until very crisp. Remove when done and crush into bits.

2) Add chicken, skin-side down; season to taste with salt and pepper and cook in the bacon fat on medium-high heat until skin is gold and crispy, about 8 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

3) Add butter, onion, garlic, carrots, thyme, coriander, and red pepper flakes. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently and scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Stir in mustard, wine, chicken broth, half-and-half, and sugar. Cook until mostly reduced, about 10 minutes.

4) While ingredients simmer, cut chicken and skin from bones into bite-size pieces. This is a good time to start cooking the angel hair.

5) Reduce heat to medium and return cut chicken to pan. Simmer until sauce has thickened, about 10–12 minnutes. Add peas and capers and let simmer for another 3–4 minutes.

6) Plate the angel hair, and squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges directly onto the pasta. Ladle the chicken and sauce onto the pasta and garnish with thyme and crushed bacon bits.

Et voilà!

Saturday, July 8, 2023

On Writing for $$$

A thread on the Horror Writers Association Facebook page prompted me to respond, so here are my thoughts on the subject in a nutshell, somewhat edited.

Would I write if I didn't get paid?

Sure, I'd write, but it wouldn't be the same. True professionals write passionately, with discipline, and have an eye toward publishing and making money (if not necessarily a living at it). Getting published and making money requires a dedicated drive that goes hand in hand with writing. There are plenty of good editors, agents, and publishers in the business who get the best out of writers because they are equally passionate about presenting the best they can find. Big houses, smaller but prestigious presses, indie publishers... there are so many avenues that writers can pursue without simply giving their work away or hiding it in a closet. Going through that process can work wonders on one's writing skills, determination, motivation, all that good stuff.

It's all about personal goals. You want to write all your demons out of your head, whether anyone ever sees it? That's a hobbyist, and that is absolutely fine; a lot of hobbyists reach a level of satisfaction and achievement that is enviable. But I'd wager that most of us who've made — and make money — in the business will crank out what we have to crank out to keep us unfucked in the head. I may be far from a household name, but I've been active as hell in this field for going on 40 years; for all this time, writing what unfucks my head, making some money with it, and knowing other people are going to read it (whether they like it or not is a whole nuther thing) is still an unbeatable treat — as is editing pro-paying books and presenting work by many of the best writers working today.

It's all about personal goals. That's the ticket.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

007 Reloaded on Audible

Thank you, friend and fellow author Ian McDowell for pointing me in the direction of 007 Reloaded on Audible. Not long ago, Ian posted positive sentiments on the audio production of Moonraker, Ian Fleming’s third James Bond 007 novel (1955), specifically actor Bill Nighy’s narration. Intrigued, I decided to purchase the audiobook on Audible. In the past year or so, due to my all-too-frequently overtaxed eyes giving out on me when attempting to read for any length of time, I’ve taken to heart my wife’s suggestion to listen to audiobooks. Having lately been putting in far more than customary mileage on my automobile, audiobooks have been just the ticket to make driving considerably more pleasant.

I’ve been a 007 fanatic since I caught Diamonds Are Forever at the theater in January 1972 and then proceeded to read all of Fleming’s novels, most of which lurked in my dad’s den bookcase at the time (and have recently been somewhat ceremonially returned to that hallowed spot). During my teens and early twenties, I read all the books at least twice, some far more than that. My favorites of them are From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (of the movies, both of those rank highest as well). Although I’ve read the later 007 offerings of Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond BensonAnthony Horowitz, and others, I’d not read any of the original Fleming novels in decades, so the prospect of experiencing a reputedly excellent audio production appealed to me.

Ian McDowell did not err in his praise. Although Moonraker doesn’t occupy the highest tier on my personal favorites list, narrator Bill Nighy — whom I rate most highly as an actor — kills the performance, and in fact readily elevated my appreciation of the source material. At that time, I knew nothing about the audio series. By way of a little research, I learned it came out in 2014 and featured a host of accomplished actors as narrators, including Dan Stevens, Damian Lewis, Hugh Quarshie, Hugh Bonneville, Jason Isaacs, David Tennant, Martin Jarvis, and Kenneth Branagh, as well as veteran 007 film actors Rory Kinnear, Rosamund Pike, and Toby Stephens.

Happily, on the most recent Amazon Prime Day, the audiobooks were made available at wonderfully discounted prices. So, I purchased most of the series, excepting the story collections For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy & The Living Daylights and Other Stories — which I most certainly will once I have finished listening to the novels. I suspect that won’t be very long, since I’m currently nearing the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

There’s not a clinker among these. Each narrator brings his (and her) unique vocal interpretation of the prose. In the enjoyable interviews that follow each production, many of the actors profess to have never previously read the books they narrate, and many apparently consciously avoided mimicking the vocal styles of the actors who played the characters they're reading in the movies. My personal favorite narrators are probably Nighy, Damian Lewis, Jason Isaacs, and Rosamund Pike. I still look forward to the vocal performances of Martin Jarvis and Kenneth Branagh (as well as Samuel West in For Your Eyes Only and Tom Hiddleston and Lucy Fleming in Octopussy & The Living Daylights and Other Stories).

The merits and shortcomings of Fleming’s original material aside, I’ve found these performances consistently invigorating treats. The audio form can be dicey in less-accomplished hands (or voices, as the case may be); it took me a while to warm to audiobooks in general largely because some of the narrators I’d experienced never seemed to hit all the marks. That is anything but an issue with this collection of Bond novels, so these, individually as well as a bunch, rate five out of five Damned Rodan’s Dirty Martinis. If you’re even marginally interested in the world of James Bond 007, whether books or films, I would say this audio series is absolutely for you.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Dark Corners of the Old Dominion — Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Dark Corners of the Old Dominion, due in September from Death Knell Press. This one features my very scary tale, “Doom at Dragon's Roost.

What’s so scary about Virginia?
From Edgar Allan Poe’s Ragged Mountains to the shores of Tidewater’s Seven Cities… From the blood-soaked battlegrounds of the Civil War to the shadowy political arena of the D.C. Beltway.

We have four hundred years’ worth of ghost stories, folk horrors, small-town terrors, urban legends, backwoods monsters, otherworldly secrets, and down-home Southern Gothic.

Within this idyllic landscape, there are many dark corners. Within these pages, Virginia authors explore twenty-four dangerous destinations, myths and monsters from the commonwealth’s past, present, and future. Read on, if you dare.

Dark Corners of the Old Dominion is edited by Joseph Maddrey and Michael Rook, with a foreword by Brian Keene. Every author in this anthology has strong ties to Virginia and it is clear in the stories and poems they’ve created. They are steeped in the salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay, pulsing with the thrum of the beltway, and bleeding from old battlefield scars.

Pre-ordering info is coming soon!

Table of Contents:
“The Bride of Dream Lake” — Catherine Kuo
“Keep It Civil” — Clay McLeod Chapman
“A Holler You Can’t Call Home” — Paul Michael Anderson
“Doom at Dragon’s Roost” — Stephen Mark Rainey
“The Woods Behind My House” — Sonora Taylor
“Room 1968” — Nicole Willson
“By a Thread” — Querus Abuttu
“Notches” — D. Alexander Ward
“New World Order” — Ella B. Rite
“Chesapeake Bait and Hook” — Sirrah Medeiros
“The Girl Who Sleeps in the Room Next to Me” — Charles E. Wood
“Cave Kisses” — William R.D. Wood
“In the Mountain Mist” — Margaret L. Carter
“The Wrong Time” — Ivy Grimes
“The Flooded Man” — Michael Rook
“The Bunnyman of Clifton” — Brýn Grover
“The Song Between the Songs” — J.T. Glover
“A Mischief in Gordonsville” — Valerie B. Williams
“Lost Soul” — María Badillo
“Odditorium” — Sidney Williams
“This is How Your Garden Grows” — Joseph Maddrey
“Beach House” — Bryan Nowak
“A House’s Tale” — Brad Center
“The Path to Freedom” — James L. Hill