Monday, June 30, 2008

Please Help the Losander Family

Luna and Dirk Losander are friends of mine, and I would dare say icons in the magic community. As I also perform magic for events held by the American Heart Association--a cause near and dear to me--this situation takes on a greater urgency. Below is the email I received from Paul Gross of Hocus Pocus, who has set up on his website a fund to help the Losanders. As he has made the call to the magic community, I am posting this to all of my online friends. Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

As some of you already know, Luna and Dirk Losander recently had a brand new baby girl, Ione. Unfortunately, her birth came with a grave challenge, and she is in dire need of heart surgery, which the Losander's medical insurance is unable to cover.

As of Monday, June 30 at 10:00 AM, she was admitted to surgery, and we are sending a call to the magic community to help the Losanders in their time of need. We know that these are difficult times, but none as difficult as for the Losander family.

You can make your donation here of $20.00:

If you can afford more, please make note on your online checkout process. If you can afford less, please make a note on your online checkout process as well.


Thank you all in advance for any support big or small that you can provide.

Best regards,

Paul Gross
Hocus Pocus
1492 N. Clark #104
Fresno, CA. 93703
559-266-4517 FAX

The Ups & Downs of the Writing Life

This week, I got a check in the mail for my story in "Legends of the Mountain State 2", received a very nice compliment for the first "Legends" anthology, and the story I'm working on now is coming along better than I hoped. But, I also received an email Saturday from a magazine, saying they were taking a pass on the short story I sent them. Close, but no cigar.

Such is the life of a writer.

Harry Anderson once described Las Vegas as a town that, in one moment, could make you feel like the King of the World, and the next minute remind you why the hotel windows don't open past the first floor. Both gamblers and writers know about playing the odds. The difference is that even the most daring gambler would refuse to play a writer's odds.

Writing never gets easier. In fact, if you're doing it right, it gets harder as you go along. When I started writing, I could stay up all night writing, and by the morning have a short story ready to send out. I can't do that anymore; not because I'm older, but because I'm smarter. I never managed to get any of my all-nighter stories published, and with good reason. I don't let stories go now without putting a great deal of work into them, and thank goodness for that. Writing is hard, and it should be. Writers who are looking to "make it" so that they can coast by and not work so hard to get published are really in the wrong business. Sure, there are those rare few authors who have built a reputation and could get away with coasting; but those authors achieved that reputation by never wanting to.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

HorrorHound in Monroeville

My friend Kevin and I went to Monroeville and the HorrorHound Convention. Mostly, I went to see with Greg Nicotero. We don't get to hang out that much, since we live at opposite ends of the continent and are both pretty busy (he, of course, is a lot busier than I am), so it's great to have these occasional weekends where we can get together and goof around. Greg is like the big brother I never had, and he's always looking out for me. I can always count on him for those precious things all big brothers dish out: ridicule and abuse. And I do loves me some ridicule and abuse.

I ran into some other friends I didn't expect to see. Rob Lucas was there helping out with Toe Tag Pictures, and I hadn't seen him for awhile. We also ran into Mike and Patty, two friends from JawFest and NoFest. I made a few new friends, like Slick and Jessica. They were good friends, but hadn't met each other except for online. HorrorHound was the first time they had met face-to-face. Horror Conventions: They Bring People Together.

A few things I took away from HorrorHound:

  • Jovanka Vuckovic rocks hard. You may think you rock, but you don't rock like she rocks. Not even close. End of story.
  • John Landis proves that the very best in the business never stop being fanboys.
  • Not everyone should do karaoke.
  • No movie can ever truly suck if it has a monkey in it.
  • No good deed goes unpunished. Thanks to Time and Space Toys for keeping "Dawn of the Dead" playing at the Monroeville Mall, although it was an obviously uphill battle. I appreciated all you did. I wish more people did.
  • If you find a model of the USS Enterprise that screams "Khan! Khan!" when you press a button, you have to buy it. You are powerless to resist.
  • Always be ready to pitch your zombie golf movie. Doug Bradley will remember Kevin Pauley forever.

This will be my last horror con for a while, and least until August and HorrorFind. I still have NECon in July, and I'm ready for a more laid-back trip, although the drive itself is long and no fun at all. I have about a month to rest up for it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Legends 2

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the cover for "Legends 2":

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

My friend Kevin and I spent the weekend at the HorrorHound Convention at Monroeville PA. I will blog about that later; for now, I would like to say a few words about comedian George Carlin, who passed away this Sunday from a heart attack.

My long-time friend Perry Lynch introduced me to Carlin in junior high. He lent me his copy of Carlin's "Class Clown" album. That's right, I said album. I'm old enough to remember when turntables weren't musical instruments. We called them record players, and once you put the needle down, you just left the thing alone and let it play. And did I ever play the hell out of that album. I did eventually give it back to Perry, but not before I managed to record it on tape.

I picked up every Carlin album I could get my hands on. I looked forward to his HBO specials like other people look forward to the Super Bowl. And he kept going strong over the years, writing books, acting in movies and on TV, and doing more HBO specials.

My junior high sensibilities were drawn to Carlin by his colorful language and his willingness to talk about anything (Remember "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television? Of course you do.). But what kept me following his career was the thoughtfulness of his material. He made you laugh, but he also made you think, something not a lot of comedians can do. He was the master of what I call an epiphany laugh. You'd laugh while thinking to yourself, "Oh god, that's so true! I never noticed that before." Comic genius is a term thrown around a bit too easily; for George Carlin, that label was earned in the trenches and deserved many times over. He was the perfect successor to Lenny Bruce, and as important to comedy as his contemporary Richard Pryor. Sadly, they're all gone now.

I doubt there's a comedian working today who wouldn't site Carlin as an influence, and his work will continue to influence comedy and art. He showed us that art has to be brave and unflinching. He made comedy mean something. I miss him already.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Journey to Monroeville

My friend Kevin and I are leaving this morning to Monroeville and HorrorHound Weekend. It will be a weekend filled with fun and visiting friends I get to see only a handful of times a year. I am very fortunate to have talented and successful people as my friends, and they all are inspirational to me. However, success means we don't see each other that much because of busy schedules. I'm beginning to learn how precious little time one has when they are developing and perfecting their Art. All my free time seems filled to capacity with work; but I wouldn't have it any other way.

HorrorHound Weekend will be my last real trip before I apply nose to grindstone and begin work on a short story I plan to submit to an upcoming anthology. I can't say more right now, but this story may be one of the most important of my career. The competition will be tough, and I will need to be at my absolute best to place a story here; but this is an extraordinary opportunity that couldn't come at a better time. With a lot of hard work—and a little luck—something wonderful may happen here. We'll see.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Explanation, and the Secret of Writing

Several weary Mo*Con attendees (Mo*Coners? Mo*Conites?) have come out of hibernation to blog about their Mo*Con experiences. Jason Sizemore of Apex Publishing has posted his blog, and on a numbered list appears this item:

5) Brian J. Hatcher tried to get me naked. At least by proxy.

Perhaps I should explain. One of Jason's authors happens to be Brandy Schwan, whose website I maintain. Brandy called with a request, one that I attempted to fulfill. Nothing more needs to be said about this, except that perhaps I should sit Brandy down and explain what services a webmaster does and does not provide.

Speaking of blogs, Fran Friel's blog mentioned that an excerpt from Thomas F. Monteleone's book "The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Writing a Novel" has been reprinted on Cemetery Dance's website. Anyone who knows me know how much I value Tom's advice, and what he has to say here is crucial for any writer. While you're at it, you should pick up the "The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Writing a Novel ". Good instruction from cover to cover.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Yes, I know it's Wednesday--three days since I returned from Mo*Con--and I've yet to blog about it. I did have some other things to take care of, and I promised someone a long letter, so I hope you forgive my lateness.

Most people have given up trying to blog about the extravaganza that is Mo*Con. Lots of promised blogs that are yet to come to fruition. Even Maurice hasn't posted yet. They closest thing to a blog has been Nick Mamatas proving that he can deadlift anyone, including yours truly. So, this is gonna be short and sweet.

Mother Grove played on Friday night, and they rocked the church. The panels on Saturday were very interesting, and took full advantage of my cellphone's ability to order books instantly from, as the reading suggestions came fast and furious. It was great to see friends again and make new ones.

There is one item I mentioned before I left: that I was going back to Indiana to find something I left behind. I really believe this deserves a blog of its own, and I have to admit I'm not sure what I'm going to say yet. I suppose I'm still thinking about the experience. What I will say is that twenty-two years ago, I attended a Baptist seminary in Crown Point, Indiana. When I left, I left a part of me behind.

More on that later…

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back from Mo*Con

And boy am I tired! More details when I finally wake up.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Journey to Mo*Con

As many of you know, I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Indianapolis IN and Mo*Con. Obviously I won't be online this weekend. I'll be busy meeting old friends and making new ones. But I'll be doing something else as well.

Twenty-one years ago, I left something I valued a great deal in Indiana. Now, I'm going back to see if I can find it again.

Stay tuned…

Monday, June 9, 2008

Back To Writing

I survived my week on the pager, and still managed to show up to my friend Tara's birthday party on Saturday. Always an interesting time at Kevin and Tara's. It's been a while since the last time I went to bed as the sun rose. Nice to know I still have it in me to do that. Nice to know I still have it in me to do a lot of things.

Oh, wicked Dionysus, tempting Maenads enclose;
Ah, blest Bacchanalia, stealing righteous repose.

I received in the mail today the contracts for my story that's appearing in Legends of the Mountain State 2. I sign them, send them back, then do my best to patiently wait for October. I'm very excited for this volume to go to print, and I can't wait for all of you to see it. Everyone's been really positive about the first one, and the second one will be that good and better.

It seems the heavy rains and flooding in Indianapolis will do nothing to stop this year's Mo*Con. Everything is on schedule, and I leave here first thing Friday morning. This is my first Mo*Con, and I'm not going to miss it, come Hell or high water. They already have the high water, and I'm bringing the… well, you know.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Magical Weekend

Yesterday I received new magic books and DVDs in the mail. I just finished watching Jeff McBride: Magic at the Edge. The DVDs also feature Abbi Spinner-McBride and Eugene Burger. I have benefited greatly from their teachings, both in books and DVDs and in person. They teach more than tricks; they teach the Way of Magic. They strive to go deeper into magic, to take simple tricks and explore their spiritual centers, and to make their Art transcend themselves. And they strive to encourage that passion in others. Jeff, Abbi, and Eugene always make me think, and I walk away inspired and motivated to make my magic better.

The timing of these DVDs couldn't be better. This coming Friday, I journey to Indianapolis, Indiana, and Mo*Con III: The Intersection of Spirituality, Art, and Gender. It may sound contradictory for a group of horror writers to get together to discuss spiritual matters, but really it isn't. The best writing--especially horror writing--comes from a spiritual center. One of the greatest lessons on authorial responsibility and having a moral center to your work was given to me by writer Jack Ketchum. He writes some of the most brutal fiction I've ever read, but the moral core in his work is why he is a superlative writer. Other writers try to be as graphic and shocking, but lack that core; and I believe that's why their work always falls short.

I hope this week brings beauty, creativity, and greater spirit for all of you. I should have good news to report in the weeks and months ahead.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We Have Blurbage

Here it is, the first blurb for the new book Legends of the Mountain State 2: More Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia:

"Hardboiled, Southern Gothic. I loved it. It's lean and mean and it doesn't care if you like it, which is what makes me like it all the better. Written with a razor on the back of a dead bloated redneck cracker down by the river side, the mountains in view, this is one excellent read."  - Joe R. Lansdale

Monday, June 2, 2008

We Got The Blurb

Check in tomorrow for the details.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Speedbump Week

I am on the pager this week at work, which always puts me behind schedule on my writing. I manage to get a little done, but it's hard to get into the flow when the pager can go off at any time (this makes sleep a bit tricky sometimes, too).

My plan is to get my home office cleaned up and organized this week. Projects have a way of spreading themselves out while you're working on them. I'm hoping to pick up a couple of six-foot bookcases for my bedroom. I can move some books out of my office to give me more storage space. At least until I get more books, which is entirely possible.

Michael Knost sent me my copy of the picture of us presenting a copy of Legends of the Mountain State to the Governor. I took that, along with the nice letter the Governor sent me, to the Art Emporium to have them framed. By the end of the month, I will have a gorgeous frame and matting in an apropos blue and gold theme displayed in my office.

Speaking of Legends, the manuscript for Legends of the Mountain State 2 is in the hands of a very distinguished author in hopes of getting a blurb for the book. I can't say more right now, but it is an author I admire a great deal, and the thought of him reading my story makes me a bit nervous, I have to admit.

I have two novellas in development: The Grimhawkins and Living with the Freemartins. Grimhawkins is about halfway through the first draft, and I'm outlining Freemartins. I don't expect to have much progress on those this week, but if I can get some groundwork laid, I will be raring to go by next week.

In travel news: The travel season is now officially underway. I'm heading out to Indianapolis and Mo*Con on the weekend of the 13th, then it's off to Monroeville and HorrorHound Weekend on the 20th.

So, a lot of work ahead for me, which I of course don't mind, but some fun times ahead, too. Yeah, life is good.