Friday, April 27, 2007

Horror Fiction Market News - Noctem Aeternus

I have news from Michael Knost of a new fiction magazine he's editing called Noctem Aeternus coming Jan. 1, 2008, and I try to share market news when I can.

According to Michael's news release it's going to be a free quarterly PDF magazine featuring science fiction, fantasy, western and mystery stories with a touch of horror.

There will be an emphasis on story and character and the first issue will include a tale from
Ramsey Campbell, author of The Face that Must Die and other modern classics.

Guidelines and other info are found at Michael's website,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What I'm Reading Now - A Walk on the Nightside

I've been reading urban fantasy a bit of late. My reading tastes are cyclical, I suppose, caroming from genre to genre and author to author.

Karen Chance's first novel nudged me onto this current path, though I have a history as far back as Mike Resnick's Stalking the Unicorn. Of late, every couple of books, I pick up something from the contemporary fantasy scene. And I've been recording "Blood Ties" and "The Dresden File" based on some urban fantasy novels, but I guess that's another story.

I like urban fantasy because the flights of imagination are wonderous and intriguing, perhaps moreso because they occur in universes slightly to the left of the real world vs. far flung galaxies.

I discovered Simon R. Green's tales of the Nightside while browsing collections of people with whom I have books in common on Library Thing, and I'm now about halfway through the second novel, set in a shadowy city within London where things are just weird.

Dead singers are on hand in the clubs, demons masquerade as gangsters and larger, more shadowy types are on hand to menace John Taylor, the main character who's essentially a private eye with a psychic gift for finding things. In the first novel, Something from the Nightside, he returns after five years in the real world, rekindling old rivalries and acquaintances.

There's a subplot running through his activities related to the identity of his mother and his potential to bring about a dark future.

It reminds me of "Sandman" as well as a host of current television shows i.e. "Heroes" not to metion the aforementioned cable shows. I think I'll stick with it through the following volumes, then I have to get back to the Weather Warden series.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sahara and Mariah Arrive At Black Beauty

The Humane Society is providing video of Mariah and and Sahara arriving at Black Beauty Ranch.

More from Black Beauty Ranch

Here are a few more pics from my trip to Black Beauty Ranch on Earth Day.
This guy's right horn points downward. It saved him from a canned hunt venue. Hunters pay to shoot animals in enclosures for trophies they can then hang on their home or office walls. Because he has only one visible horn, he wasn't deemed worthy and will live out his days at Black Beauty.

Above is Babe, the only elephant at Black Beauty Ranch. Omar, a camel has become her closest friend. Elephants are herd animals and thus need companionship. Black Beauty hopes to expand the elephant area and take in another elephant when funds are available.

One of these ponies is blind. The other has become his companion and guide without prompting or training.

Donate to Black Beauty

Saturday, April 21, 2007

At Black Beauty Ranch on Earth Day

What better way to celebrate Earth Day (weekend) than a visit to Black Beauty Ranch, the refuge started by author and critic Cleveland Amory?

It proved to be a wonderful time to be on their grounds, 1,300 acres of green pastures, forests and fields all making a home for animals rescued from canned hunt venues, zoos, circuses and now the slaughter house.

I saw Friendly again, one of the original burros rescued from the Grand Canyon in the '70s.

I also got to see two of the newest residents at the ranch, horses Mariah and her daughter Sahara, who came to the grounds last week.

They are being called "Miracle Horses" because they were actually in the last open U.S. horse slaughter house in DeKalb, IL, when a court decision effectively ended horse slaughter in the U.S. at least until someone finds another loophole.

Mariah and Sahara and a few other horses wound up routed to sanctuaries like Black Beauty.

They're currently in Black Beauty's infirmary, a bit thin and rattled from being transported back and forth on trucks, but they will have a permanent home on the grounds.

I believe it was Sahara who came over to the fence as our group passed by, stretching her neck a bit to reach some weeds that were a tad greener than those inside the pen.

Sometimes, the grass really is greener.

Donate to Black Beauty Ranch

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I used to have that issue they were discussing on Lost

On the Lost episode "Catch 22" there's a Tarrantinoesque exchange between Hurley and Charlie - what if Superman and The Flash had a race?

Apparently they've raced many times over the years, but my dad bought me the first matchup back in the '60s. I don't have a theory about the allusion like the fabulous Jeff Jensen at Entertainment Weekly. I'm just sayin'.

I can remember sitting on our back steps and reading it. It does indeed feature The Flash vibrating through a wall as discussed by Hurley, though the comic is long gone and I would be pressed to tell you who won that round or what else happened other than passes by exotic world scenes.

It takes me back, though. My old man bought me "Superman" comics sporadically. I replaced a few of those a while back by mail order, but if I'm recalling the Superman-Flash race was expensive as such issues tend to be.

It's a little cheaper to get Gold Key "Tarzan" issues. They adapted Edgar Rice Burroughs novels in multi-issue arcs, and we managed to follow those, purchasing them at a 7-11 near our house.

My dad read them to me along with issues of "Ripley's Believe it or Not," and things like "The Gold Bug." He inadvertently scared the shit out of me with "The Raven" too.

And that's when the spell of imagination was cast over me too.

Good times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cat Health Food - Switching to Organic

You know, when you're changing your cats' food you're supposed to mix a little of what they've been eating in with the new stuff so that they have an opportunity to prepare their pallets.

Given all of the problems with pet food of late, I figured I better get my cats something safe so I ordered some organic food from Amazon.

I thought "human-quality," organic food should suit my cats just fine, so I didn't mix it. I used up the food that they had been eating, which I'm thankful wasn't part of the recall then opened a bag of the new stuff.

I expected them to be happy to eat one of the same brands I do.

I left them some super primo delux new stuff with free range chicken at bedtime last night. That seems to work well, usually.

At 3 a.m. Monty, our eldest-- apparently elected spokesman for the other cats--woke Christine demanding to be fed. I hid under my pillow and pretended I didn't hear this going on.

Groggily Christine went to the kitchen, expecting to find an empty bowl. Instead the food I'd put down hadn't been polished off.

Monty sat beside it staring at the bowl, then up at Christine.

Daisy, our female, has accepted the change just slightly better. She's probably just pleased its expensive, and she's given up on getting any more of the fuzzy things on my iPod earbuds.

Oliver, our indoor outdoor cat who sometimes plans his own organic meals outside, has also begun to eat it as has Ash.

Since they keep recalling more brands, I'm thinking organic is the way to go. I'm not mentioning the organic brand here because I don't think it's the fault of the brand my cats are turning up their noses at least short term. It's my cats hitting me with 'tude.

It's become a struggle of wills 'twixt Christine and Mon, however. He's still demanding a return to the flavor he previously enjoyed. She's adamant he learn to like what we've, in our finite wisdom, selected.

Would that I could explain and have him understand it's only because we love him and we're glad we didn't get any tainted food before.

We'll work through it. It just may take a little time.

When we bought the new food, we got some canned organic as well - same brand. Our cats only get canned on Saturday night.

We tried it out last night - 4-22-07 and they liked it. The dry - still not so much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Who's still writing to those Q&A Columns?

It's probably one of the tragedies of our electronic age that the art of letter writing is becoming antiquated, ushered toward extinction by terms like snail mail. Who wants to wait days for a missive to reach its destination when a message can be there in seconds?

That is a shame, but I'm a bit perplexed when I pick up magazines and see people are still writing in to letters columns to get bits of trivia resolved.

"Who was that guy that played the cousin of Charlie Sheen's girlfriend on the April 25 episode of..."

Pardon the pseudo-expletive but how frakin' dim are these people? Have they never heard of I mean you can even build their search into Firefox's address bar. You don't have to write a letter to Matt at TV Guide and wait weeks for a half-assed answer.

This week's "Ask Matt" really prompted this. Someone asks if Rick Schroder didn't play Jack Bauer's daughter's boyfriend in Season 2 of 24.

No, Rick Schroder's role as an asshole on this season of 24 is his first on the show, TV Guide answers: You, gentle reader--I'm paraphrasing--must be thinking of James Badge Dale who played Kim's boyfriend in season 2.

Actually, this is just a supposition, but I bet the reader was confusing seasons as well as former child stars. See I watch 24 just like I watch Lost--they're the only two I watch "live" unless Christine is in a mood for House--and I happen to know that C. Thomas Howell played Jack's daughter's boyfriend in a guest shot last season.

Don't you think that's something someone's a little more likely to confuse, Ponyboy vs. the kid from Silver Spoons?

I could be wrong, but you'd think TV Guide could have thrown that in.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What's on the iPod? The Rupert Holmes Edition

Sadly the only Rupert Holmes songs I could find on iTunes were "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"; "The People That You Never Get to Love" (recorded not by Holmes but by Susannah McCorkle); and "Timothy," the Holmes-penned tale of cannibalism in verse originally recorded by The Buoys.

I was looking for selections from perhaps his most famous solo-artist albums "Partners in Crime" from which "Escape" and "Him" became hits--and the later "Adventure." I had others, but those I owned in their 8-track versions and listened to repeatedly in my car in the early '80s.

The tracks on those are almost all story songs and they were a significant piece of the soundtrack of my life and probably a subconscious creative stimulant.

I was reminded of that because I was watching "Where the Truth Lies" on cable, the MPAA-challenged film based on Holmes novel of Martin and Lewis-like performers with an unsolved murder in their past.

It's not a surprise Holmes went on to write for the Broadway stage, television and finally novels given the narrative nature of his tunes.

"Escape" is basically flash fiction and "Him" has something of a narrative arc as well. Ditto the lesser known "The O'Brien Girl." It's the tale of a mysterious transfer student, her presence at her new school never quite explained.

"The People That You Never Get to Love" is slice-of-life, and it played well in the background of my early single life with its lament of missed opportunities. Your perfect love is in a "passing Buick" when you've "been pulled over by a traffic cop," the song observs.

It would have been nostalgic to get some of those onto my pod for replay.

I guess I'll need to buy one of Holmes greatest hits albums on CD, or at the very least get the audiobooks version of his newer mystery "Swing" to have Holmes stories in my car again.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Would we accept the Lost Others as Aliens?

For those avidly following "Lost," as I am, an intersting Easter Egg (or red herring?) popped up last night, as documented on the Lost Easter Eggs Blog.

The symbol on the tree at the suitcase drop in the jungle appears similar to symbols related to Ummo aliens, claims that beings from planet Ummo began visiting Earth in 1950. I'd never heard about them before although it's aparently well known though not Roswell-well known.

So, does that mean Adam and Eve in the cave are dead astronauts who spawned or deposited core members of the Others group?

Is the seemingly superhuman strength of the Others of alien origin? Is the oft-referenced Jacob a "Stranger in a Strange" land who's garnered worshippers?

Did they have, then lose the ability to reproduce on The Island? Or are aliens trying to breed with humans and failing?

Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindeloff have stressed Adam and Eve who appeared in Season 1 are proof they've had a narrative plan all along.

Is that step one in foreshadowing that might soon take the already strange story even further into the realms of science fiction?

And if so, as viewers are we primed enough to accept it or is such a revelation a potential "jump the shark moment." I'm not sure how I'd feel.

How far can you go in a fictional stretch? Anyone have thoughts?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stuff I Noticed In Grindhouse

I'm a little bummed that they're going to release extended versions of "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof" from "Grindhouse" now that it's being considered a box office failure. What about the people who turned out? That's kind of cheating us, right?

Oh well, I'm glad I went to the double feature. Took me back to drive-in movies of my younger days. We had drive-ins in the South, not grind houses--except for the older downtown theaters that mixed B-movies in with the A stuff from time to time.

Anyway, I noticed a few fun things in Grindhouse - probably reported elsewhere also but maybe you'll read it here first.

  • Michael Parks of "Then Came Bronson" is police officer Earl McGraw in both movies. He also played Earl McGraw Texas ranger in "From Dusk 'Til Dawn." He's the guy George Clooney and Quentin Tarrantino battle it out with in that vampire flick's opening scene.
  • Kurt Russell's death-proof car is a Chevy Nova. It's a Chevy Nova Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta have to clean out and ditch in "Pulp Fiction."
  • What no cameo by Barry Newman? IMDB reports he was appearing in episodes of The OC as recently as 2005. The "Vanishing Point" star should have at least been hanging out at the bar in "Death Proof."
More if I think of 'em.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What's Your Story?

The official launch of a new site called What's Your Story? is schedule for April 12, but the doors are already open for submissions in a variety of categories, and there are already a few posts including a personal biographical sketch from author Joseph Finder and a horror short story.

Other categories for submissions include fiction of apparently all genres and celebrity stories. Looks like the pay is in the form of prizes if I'm reading it all correctly.

Their "About Us" page phrases their mission this way: "Here at we want to hear about you! Whether you are a budding author, or would just like to tell the world your story, you can do it here."

Check it and out for yourself and decide if you want to play.

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Dispatches from World Horror Toronto via Chicago

Here's more of what Wayne saw and did at the World Horror Convention Toronto. Nothing like the lightning immediacy of the Internet to provide instant information. I've tried to provide links to the friends Wayne mentions. Visit their sites - buy their stuff! Otherwise read below without commercial interruption:

Dispatches From Toronto, Part 2:
I left off somewhere about the time of the homeless guy yelling at me for talking to the birds, I think.
I finally met up with everyone at the right hotel around 3 PM. In one of those odd moments, the elevator doors opened to none other than Barrett McGivney, who I had not seen in years even though he lives only a few suburbs over in Palos Park. In fact, he did not even know that I had moved to Burbank in 1999. Much later that night, he and I went to a place called Zanzibar, lots of ambiance and pretty women. We spent about $250.00 between us in just over two hours, but I did get to meet a nice native Torontonian as well as a girl from Romania who told me a lovely made-up story about how doctors sew up the belly buttons on all the baby girls. You had to be there, but then you'd also have spent money like we did.
Prior to that was the autograph party. I am always curious as to what people will bring up for me to sign, earlier that day a man had me sign 3 copies of VAMPIRE DETECTIVES. Several people had copies of DOWNWARD SPIRAL to sign, in part, I believe, because another contributor, Gord Rollo, is from Ontario. In a sudden surge, I signed copy after copy of DARK DREAMERS, the collection of black and white photos Beth Gwinn has taken over the years. My pose was from WHC in Atlanta, 1997. The program book was passed around, it was a HARDBACK, and people were asking for our signatures in a nice little section at the back. Many of us were angry because we never did get our "goodie bag," being given various excuses, until Saturday. This could be a contributing factor to Barrett and I going to Zanzibar. (I should have photos of the neon signs in the downtown area by tomorrow evening).
There were several parties that evening, and I saw Yvonne Navarro for the first time in many years. Now married and living in Arizona, I have known her the longest of all my writer friends, beating out my first meeting with Sid by four years. A few blocks away there was a restaurant called Devil's Advocate, which served a decent meal an a reasonable price. Jeremy Lassen of Nightshade Books and Maurice Broaddus, a writer from Indianapolis who I met, oddly enough, through the letters column of a STARMAN comic (yea, sounds weird even now) were tied for who was dressed most flamboyantly. I was content to wear a Frankenstein T-shirt and was pleasantly surprised that Roger had brought along a shirt I gave him last year that I picked up at the Salvation Army, touting that he was Head of Security at O'Hare Airport. Larry pretty much dresses like Larry all the time, wearing dress shirts compared to my T-shirts. Claire wore one of those glittery mind control helmets that Zelda Fitzgerald made famous, this alone made her stand out over Kasey Lansdale in the "who gets noticed first" department.
Saturday was much of the same, only parties overlapped with anesthesiologist convention, and I recall talking with people from Seattle and, again, Toronto, about their jobs. They were intrigued by my recounting the various people who have gassed me up over the decades before my various operations. We drove back home through torrential rainstorms in Michigan, Roger as stoic as Sgt. Rock behind the wheel of his Jeep, and within a day of returning, the temperature here dropped 50 degrees.
And that was my first stay in another country, believe it or don't.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Snow Day

We were getting groceries yesterday when the blizzard started, a snow shower that blotted out the sun.

I'd seen clips from Georgia on CNN before leaving but did not expect I'd be travelling through the artic to get home.

It was a pretty sight even though we knew it would not stick, and fortunately I'd covered our tomato and pepper plants Friday night in anticipation of cold though not snowy weather for the weekend.

I rigged up some spikes made of old coat hangers and old sheets that we usually fold into padding for the aging wooden chair the cats trade off sleeping in.

The sun is climbing high enough now that it should be safe shortly to remove the covering and see how the plants weathered.

Yep, being a farmer gives you a whole new respect for the weather man.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

All You Have to Do Is Write It

Undenialble truth: When you write, people will seek you out to tell "their story." You didn't hear that here first.

Charles' posts on Assumptions About Writers sent me on a trip back in time, one recollection leading to another.

I've lost count of how many people have tracked me down to get me to write books for them and it's hard to know where to start but to name just a few:

1. The woman with the government documents - A woman arrived near the end of a book signing, a stack of papers and folders clutched to her chest. When pointed to my table she launched into an explanation of state government mismanagement, all detailed in the papers she could provide. "All the research is done. Somebody just needs to put it all together."

"I'm, uh, really a fiction writer," I explained gesturing to the novel with the vampire on the cover I was there to sell. I suggested she go to the government reporter at her local paper.

Not to be disuaded by such a logical suggestion, she reiterated her point repeatedly in a stab at persuasion. It was all there, it just needed a writer to string it together.

I finally had to tell her, "If I wanted to be a reporter, I 'd still be one. I'm not going to write an expose for you."

2. The reporter with the great idea - When he was alive, God bless him, my father could never get straight who it was OK to give my unlisted phone number.

He had the same name as me, so people would find him in the phone book and when they asked him to write a book for them, he'd say "Oh you want my son" and give them my number.

"Wow, it was like clearing security to get to you," said the TV reporter one Sunday afternoon.

"That's the general idea," I said.

"I thought we could write this book together," he said. "I had this great idea: The Firm set at a TV station. I've worked at TV stations for years so I know all of the inside scoop."

Yeah, for that piece of originality my afternoon needed to grind to a halt. I told him I was going to have to pass.

3. My life's so interesting - Maybe not my favorite, but one of the odder requests came as a missive to Michael August, which was my pseudonym for young adult novels. At least it came as a letter and not a phone call. Michael August's father was not as prone to rat him out, I guess.

The correspondent noted people had told her that her life should be a book. After contemplation she had decided, yeah, it was true, there was something for everyone.

She'd read his book and Michael August--author of novels for kids 11-16--was just the man for the project. Michael wrote back that he'd only work with Sidney Williams.

4. The private eye - The private detective, who was very nice, liked my thriller Azarius and thought I'd be perfect to write a novel based on his theories of an unsolved murder. The killer was still alive.

I've seen too many TV movie about things just like that. Writer gets the real killer mad at him. I passed.

Some were sadder than others. I've mentioned before in this blog the old man who used to call about the Green River Killer, and I once had a prisoner who wanted me to chronicle his life mistakes as a warning to others and, he hoped, a path to his enrichment.

What's the moral of the story or the profundity of all this?

Don't give your dad you unlisted number if you're not looking for collaborators.

Dispatches from Toronto Via Chicago

Here's more from Wayne's Trip to World Horror in Toronto, dispatched after his return. I'm printing almost as is with only a few interruptions from me.

This continues from passing through the border.
8:45 PM Thursday evening, we get to the hotel in time to get Claire to the poetry reading.
9:00 PM The rest of us--me, Larry Santoro, and Roger Dale Trexler--decide to go to the 5th floor hospitality suite for free food. I find that I can't get Jack Black--not the actor--straight up no ice and I find myself on a mission. I palm a pen and pads of paper for the Marriot and put them in my jacket pocket. This will be important later.
9:30 PM The three of us walk to the Bond hotel, where we stay just the one night.
9:45 PM The hotel is in a bizarre Blade Runner-like area, with giant moving billboards for Maybelline and things I have never heard of. (Sorry I missed this part. I didn't know Toronto had anything like that. Countries other than the U.S. always seem to have higher tech billboards. Why is that? --Sid)
10:29 PM Larry goes to bed, Roger joins me on my mission and we cross the street to the Imperial Pub, an odd little joint with fake pal tress and an honest to God old-timey Seeburg jukebox. There were many obscure names, I played some, annoyed for some reason when I heard Bing Crosby from the speakers. I met a guy in the bathroom who told me where Roger and I could continue our mission, the Zanzibar.
11:45 PM We are told by a huge man at the Zanzibar that we were too drunk to come in. We did not argue. Back to the hotel and bed.
10:30 AM Friday. Larry and Roger leave for the other hotel. I sleep in for a bit, mostly from the hangover but also because the previous night I worked 14 hours, came home, watched LOST, ate a meal, then slept for an hour before Roger pulled up. Claire told me I slept for about thirty minutes at one point during the ride. Regardless, I WAS indeed hungover.
11:45 AM I leave the hotel with my backpack and bag. I realize I do not know what hotel to go to, mostly because I had a ball peen hammer stuck between my eyes. I walk to the Sheraton and find my friends not registered. I call Larry's cell and leave a message, not thinking that the roaming charge will cost him $22.37 at least. The clerk looks at me as if I am Rain Man, and tells me that perhaps I am thinking of the Hilton.
12:30 PM I then start to trudge there, but stop at Mr. Happy Fries, a type of ice cream truck-thing, only with hot dogs and fries. I gave the guy an extra tip when I was done eating because it was so good. He surprised me by saying it was an honor to serve me because I was a guest in his country. I could not figure out how he knew I was a guest, unless it was because I was wearing my Superman shirt.
12:50 PM A woman on the street finally point me in the direction of the Hilton, and I walk past a church. Happy that I am on my way, I talk to the pigeons around me, still thinking about Mr. Happy Fries comment. I see a homeless guy, his beard stained by nicotine, and I wave hello. He says to me and I quote "Why the fuck are you talking to birds?" I had no real answer and continued forward.
1:15 PM The Hilton has no knowledge, but a clerk Googles the convention and tells me it is at the Marriot. I take the pad from my jacket pocket to write directions, the pad that reads Marriot, and the clerk looks at me as if the ball peen hammer in my head had performed a lobotomy. At least I knew I was on the right track.
1:45 PM I am at the Marriot, the desk clerk calls up to Roger and tells him his associate is here, and he okays me to come to the 15th floor. From the window by the elevator I can see the church and the guy who yelled at me but asked an honest question.
Sid, I shall stop here. Tomorrow I will write about the autograph party, and the melodrama afterwards, then Saturday as well. Feel free to enter it in your journal.
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