Manuscripts Burn


MANUSCRIPTS BURN

"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Quick Word

Hey everybody!

I'm just going to level with you: I am not on top of my game.

I just got a new job.  It's extremely demanding.  The person I'm replacing hasn't left yet, and we don't think alike.  Which means I'm being second-guessed on nearly everything I say.  Which was bad enough when it was just the nature of my job.  I guess you could say I'm now being third-guessed.

Not to mention I'm being trained while still having to do essentially 2.5 jobs (my new one, my old one, and a bunch of additional duties I've accrued over the years.)  My training mostly consists of being interrupted every five minutes to be asked to do something else.  So nothing is really getting done.

This is the first time I'm verbalizing this.  Well, type-verbalizing it.  Whatever.  I not good with word-thingies.

So I have been absent.  Absent from social media, which means the blog is suffering.  I've also been absent from the writing desk, but you wouldn't know that.  Only I know that.  It's disheartening at the end of a long day of getting nothing done to be too exhausted to get anything done.

I was going to make this post about the importance of reviews, but it seems that what I had intended to be a brief prologue has turned into practically a blogpost unto itself.  I guess that's one benefit of being long-winded.  Long-typing-winded.  Whatever.

So maybe I'll put off that review post until I'm more composed to put it together.  But for now I'll just say: sorry.  I'm human, too.  I usually try not to waste everybody's time complaining about stuff, but here I am.  So I'm going to try to crank out a few hundred words before midnight.  That's going to be my new goal.  And I'll apologize now if the blog ends up suffering.

God, is this even making any sense?  Okay, back in a jif.  Good night and good luck.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What's a "Nice" Dog Like Me Doing in a Place Like This? (Guest Post by Prozac, Star of THE THING IS)

Welcome, comrades!  It's another beautiful day for a guest, don't you think?

In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit that today's guest is the star of a novel by one of my fellow Red Adept Publishing stablemates.  But considering I've never read a bad Red Adept book (and I can't say that about any other publisher) that's basically just a matter of semantics.  Let's jump right in, shall we?

About Prozac:



Prozac is an orphaned Yorkshire terrier.  Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, he is an active pet therapy dog. He also visits Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, each week.

Guest Post:


When I learned that I'd been asked to contribute a guest post to Manuscripts Burn, I thought....me? Moi? What could a cute and cuddly, five-pound Yorkshire terrier--practically a stuffed animal with a beating little heart inside--possibly contribute to a horror and sci-fi blog hosted by Stephen Kozeniewski, author of BRAINEATER JONES, and an avowed cat-lover, of all things!? Little, four-legged old me...sent into a lion's den promoting scary stories of zombies, ghoulishness, blood, and guts? Hey, wait a second—what's a nice dog like me doing in a place like this?

But hold your chewsticks a minute, folks! While I may not resemble the foaming-at-the-mouth likes of Cujo--once a good-natured St. Bernard-turned-vicious via the creativity of horror writer, Stephen King--I can be just as devious and damaging...minus the bravado of stellar attacks and rabid fangs. You see, my menace comes from my mind. It's not always about gut animal instinct/action-reaction. With me, it's often about insidiousness--dog-human head-games--like water slowly wearing upon a stone. Trust me, in the right paws, being emotionally exacerbating can be just as menacing as tearing into limbs! 


You see, I'm a "Spirit Guide Dog," which means I get the best of both worlds. Yes, I'm a dog. I pant, poop and slobber, and I can also lift my leg on fire hydrants like the best of them. (Although I've been fixed, so those types of gymnastics aren't my speed anymore.) But at the same time, I have the unique intellectual and spiritual capacity to experience a fully human perspective--as well as having divine insight; I see into human souls--which allows me to devise ways to help some pitiful humans...those like Meredith Mancuso, a blocked romance writer who has no romance in her life (that's a horror story unto itself!) and who shares narrating duties with me in THE THING IS. My job is to light a fire (not literally, of course) that sparks some significant changes in Meredith's lonely, stagnant life. And who better than a lovable (often devious, yet completely unsuspecting) little dog to achieve that end? Believe me, I love Cujo--yes, he even scared me--but I bet I could've taught him a thing or two in the canine (reverse psychology) finesse department!

So, if you want to learn more about THE THING IS and bask in the spot-lit glow of 'yours truly' (after this post, how could you possibly resist?), then click here.  Hope you'll pick up a copy of the novel soon, and we'll get to spend even more time together on the page... Happy Reading!!

About THE THING IS:



Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancé, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she's not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac.

Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal broken-hearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week.

Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it's still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and sometimes, even love—along the way.

About Kathleen Gerard:



Kathleen Gerard is a writer whose work has been awarded The Perillo Prize, The Eric Hoffer Prose Award and nominated for Best New American Voices and Short Story America, all national prizes in literature. Kathleen writes across genres. Her short prose and poetry have been widely published in magazines, journals and anthologies. Her essays have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR).  Kathleen's woman-in-jeopardy novel IN TRANSIT won The New York Book Festival - "Best Romantic Fiction" (2011). Kathleen is a book reviewer for and a contributor to Shelf Awareness and maintains the blog Reading Between the Lines.

You can find her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and her Red Adept page.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review Week! Part 6: THE STAKE by Richard Laymon

I have Christine Morgan to thank for a lot of things.  First, for her novel CURSE OF THE SHADOW BEASTS.  Second, for a whole shit-ton of reviews of my work.  Third, for a batch of Christmas cookies.  (Yeah, really.)  And, finally, for my first Richard Laymon books.

Laymon is a sadly underrated gem in his own country, the old joke about rock stars being "big in Japan" (or in his case, Germany and the UK) being applicable.  This was my first Laymon book, and the reason I read it is because I was working on vampire novel for Sinister Grin Press and I couldn't get over the worry that I was writing the same old shit, so my good friend Claire Ashby suggested I pick up a vampire novel to kick me in the ass.  It worked (I think) but more about that later.  Today is about THE STAKE.


About THE STAKE:


In an isolated corner of a deserted hotel, horror writer Larry Dunbar uncovers a grisly relic. It's naked, it's female, and it has a wooden stake through its heart.

Bonnie Saxton was a young, innocent high school senior...sacrificed on the altar of a madman's obsession to rid the earth of its most ancient, pitiless evil: the curse of the vampire.

A world of horrors was born the day the stake was driven in.

Now Dunbar wants to pull it out...

Review:


There's a sexual peccadillo or technique called "edging" which basically involves bringing yourself or your partner right to the edge of climax and then backing off multiple times so that when release finally comes, it's incredible. THE STAKE is essentially the literary equivalent of edging. The climax of the book is a foregone conclusion within the first hundred pages or so, as Larry Dunbar, a horror author and (one supposes) a thinly veiled version of Laymon himself, discovers a desiccated corpse in the desert with a stake through its heart.

For hundreds of pages Larry obsesses over pulling the stake, what will happen, whether the corpse is a vampire, and regardless of whether anything supernatural is going on or not who, exactly, staked her and why. And this is why I brought up edging at the beginning of this review. There must have been a dozen scenes when Larry or one of his close friends or relatives for one reason or another just about wraps their hands around the stake and then doesn't pull it out. For a while I thought that stake was going to come out handily, but (SPOILER ALERT, I guess, for a 25-year-old novel) it doesn't come out until the very end.

For a while I was pretty sure Larry was going to pull the stake early on and then the rest of the novel would be about the fallout from that. Instead, the whole matter was drawn out so excruciatingly that the tension never really seemed to tamp down. Meanwhile, a number of human monsters began to creep into the lives of Larry and his family, perhaps remoras riding along on the evil of the stake or perhaps just representing the general cussedness of the universe. And then, like the master I've repeatedly been told he is, Laymon weaves all of the plot threads together into the conclusion. It was a rather incredible balancing act, to be sure.

This is definitely an unconventional vampire novel - if it can be called a vampire novel at all. I suppose I won't spoil that for you. If you want to find out what happens when the stake gets pulled, well, you'll just have to read it for yourself.

About Richard Laymon:

Richard Laymon was born in Chicago and grew up in California. He earned a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian, and a report writer for a law firm, and was the author of more than thirty acclaimed novels.

He also published more than sixty short stories in magazines such as Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, and Cavalier, and in anthologies including Modern Masters of Horror.

He died from a massive heart attack on February 14, 2001 (Valentine's Day).

Also published under the name Richard Kelly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review Week! Part 5: BONE MEAL BROTH by Adam Cesare

It's the rarely seen Review Week! here on Ye Olde Blogge!  Today we feature a collection by a real up-and-comer who I've had the pleasure to have met in person.  Adam Cesare ("che-za-ray" or "see-zar," depending on whether you're endlessly singing the wrong lyrics of a Neil Diamond song or not) is a hell of a stand-up guy.  And a school teacher.  In Philly.  Which means you know he'll fucking cut you if you don't buy his book.  So do it.  Do it now.

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About BONE MEAL BROTH:


The world is full of horrors both real and imagined. BONE MEAL BROTH adds a few more.

The nine stories in this collection vary in style and content, but all of them strive to unsettle.

Inside BONE MEAL BROTH you'll meet a P.I. who works the dark streets of a post-biological-cataclysm New Orleans, a sleazy glamor photographer with a pest problem, and a misanthrope who's just made the most important (and deadly) purchase of his life. And those are the heroes.

You'll visit the grotesque inhabitants of America's backwoods and shrink from the quiet terrors of suburbia. No matter your dark preference: a cup of BONE MEAL BROTH will hit the spot.

Review:


It seems peculiar to use the word "breezy" to describe a collection of deeply dark and disturbing tales of short horror, but that's the adjective that leaps to mind. Not "lightweight" in the sense that there was no substance to them, but "breezy" in that they flew by, slipping down the throat of my mind like sliders from some kind of infernal White Castle.

First, some generalities. Cesare has an incredible command of prose, and the way he assembled words and phrases reminded me of an orchestral conductor. This isn't workmanlike prose, this is art.

As for the style, I wouldn't really classify any of these as extreme horror, but neither are they quietly restrained Victorian spook pieces, either. I hate to use a term like "middle-of-the-road" because it implies mediocrity (and these stories are anything but) but their scare levels are somewhere between 4 and 7 on the terror spectrum. Gorehounds like myself will find a lot to enjoy but I don't think average, non-horror types should feel intimidated, either.

Now, a look at some of the specific stories. As with any collection, there were highs and lows. Nothing was truly terribly, but a few of the weaker stories elicited a "meh" rather than a bloodcurdling scream.

"Pink Tissue," on the other hand, was the standout of the lot. Set in a post-apocalyptic New Orleans populated by mutants who have become the de facto norm, this noirish body horror piece packed a punch and managed to sketch out a world in a few thousand words better realized than most sci-fi movies can do with a couple of hours and a multi-million dollar budget. I sincerely hope Cesare revisits this setting in the future.

"Bringing Down the Giants" was a fascinating creeper. I was a little bit lost on the nature of the creatures. Were they toys brought to life? If not why did they so closely resemble one of the protagonist's childhood toys? In any case it takes a conceit played for fun in countless cases of children's fare like "Ferngully" and "Epic" and turns it on its ear with the result being rather grotesque.

I know now where Cesare gets his reputation. As a primer and an introduction to the Cesarean section of the horror world, BONE MEAL BROTH is definitely worth checking out.

About Adam Cesare:



Adam Cesare is a New Yorker who lives in Philadelphia. He studied English and film at Boston University. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including Shroud Magazine.

His nonfiction has appeared in Paracinema, Fangoria, The LA Review of Books and other venues.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Review Week! Part 4: ONE UNDEAD STEP by Ian McClellan

Hello, chums and chumettes!  It's pretty rare that I feature reviews on the blog (because I don't want this to turn into a review blog - way too much stress) but every once in a while I break down and run out of other content...er...I mean...I decide that I've read a few books that are just so damn good, not reporting on them would be something of an unforgivable sin.  2016 has been a rare good year for me for reading, and for reading horror especially, and I've discovered a few incredible new authors and caught up with some old friends who I probably shouldn't have put off for this long.  So, let commence the second ever Review Week!  

We start with someone who is no stranger to the blog, having been interviewed here before, our good friend and star of "Lord of the Rings" Ian McClellan and his zombie/moon landing faking novel ONE UNDEAD STEP.

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About ONE UNDEAD STEP:


Many people know that the 1969 moon landing was faked, but are unaware of the actual circumstances. Find out how the U.S. faked the moon landing to avert the zombie apocalypse as the lives of a disgraced B-movie director, a bar owner, some drunks, an Army Ranger unit, a bunch of gangsters, an affluent but very dysfunctional family, and a few cops come together in ONE UNDEAD STEP.

One year after Romero shocked the world with Night of the Living Dead, a small city is rocked by grisly killings, the gory details of which are only known through whispered rumors. The government presence that makes the populace all the more nervous is unable to contain the impending threat that grows out of control on a hot, humid night in Mid-July. As the city's residents fight for their lives, the Military rushes to make a film about two men landing a small spacecraft on the moon. Will their plan work? Find out as an evil man finds redemption, some soldiers choose between their mission and duty, a young couple finds forbidden love, an older couple reignites their passion, and a bartender gets stiffed for lots of drinks in ONE UNDEAD STEP.

Review:


** spoiler alert ** SPOILERS!

McClellan starts off with a familiar premise, one that's been run into the ground in fact: a group of plucky survivors in an American urban center face down the zombie apocalypse with nothing to rely on but their wits, and each is paid back in kind according to their moral compass (assholes die horribly, heroes die heroically, and plucky kids survive.) If you've read more than one zombie book you've heard this story already.

As I read on, though, I realized that my familiarity with this premise was what McClellan was counting on, and possibly preying upon. As the book progresses, he slowly fills in some fascinating details that gradually turn the narrative on its ear. With clever flourishes like a gangster named Nicky "No-Nickname" (get it?), a rather perverse story of statutory rape that ends as it must, and always, always in the background a seemingly unrelated B-story about a director faking the moon landing, McClellan gradually draws us in to a tale that's not been told before.

ONE UNDEAD STEP is "Mad Men" meets "Night of the Living Dead." Where the latter was a product of the '60s played straight, the former was an attempt to re-create an era through its anxieties and foils, also played more-or-less straight. I admired how McClellan tries to do the same with ONE UNDEAD STEP. As with any historical drama, occasionally the satire was a little too on the nose, but I don't remember anything especially egregious along the lines of, "Look, we're smoking on a plane because people used to do that back then isn't that craaazy?" or "Wouldn't it be cool if someday we had phones we could carry around with us?" McClellan's depiction of the '60s was aware but nuanced, without ever resorting to easy targets.

For a long stretch of this book I was wondering why the moon landing plot was even there. It felt completely shoehorned in. By the end, though, I realized that this was by design, so that McClellan could smash us over the head with a Shyamalan-style twist. Believe me, by the end, the title and the focus on the moon landing and not just "Mad Men" style '60s shenanigans becomes fully deserved.

If you love the shambling dead but you've been waiting for someone to do something new with them, your wait is over. Grab a copy of ONE UNDEAD STEP now.

About Ian McClellan:



Ian McClellan was born in a small harbor town in southwest Ireland. In an effort to be cliche his parents moved the family to New York when he was thirteen. Once a promising up-and-comer in the world of competitive eating, his career was cut short by an ACL injury. He now resides in Florida with his dogs and drives a truck for a living, but is crossing his fingers and hoping his writing career will earn him enough money that he can tell his boss where to stick it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Art to Seeing and Seeing as Art in Dark Fantasy (Guest Post by K.P. Ambroziak, Author of THE JOURNAL OF VINCENT DU MAURIER)

In our lives we all have something to blame Shawn Hoge Remfrey for.  For some of us (perhaps most of us) it's the clap.  For others, it can be good things, too.  For instance, I have her to blame for discovering today's guest, heartbreakingly talented author and polymath, K.P. Ambroziak.  Let's not waste any more time and meet today's guest, then let her speak for herself.

About K.P. Ambroziak:



K.P. Ambroziak’s published works include THE TRINITY and THE JOURNAL OF VINCENT DU MAURIER, featured in Publishers Weekly Reviews Roundup in 2015. With a doctorate in Comparative Literature, she moonlights as an academic, indulging in her interest in visual art and literature, a love inspired by the work and fervor of her mentor and friend, surrealist scholar Mary Ann Caws. She lives in Brooklyn near a bridge with her favorite person, and likes basset hounds because their droopy eyes get her every time.

You can purchase her works: THE JOURNAL OF VINCENT DU MAURIER BOOK ITHE JOURNAL OF VINCENT DU MAURIER BOOK IIA PERPETUAL MIMICRYTHE TRINITYEL & ONINE, and "The Piano String."

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Guest Post:


Dark fantasy has got me thinking about my soul. Not in the spiritual sense, or the metaphysical, or even the poetic. But in the aesthetic sense. Let me see if I can make sense of what I mean. We all know the saying, the eyes are the window to the soul, and perhaps some may even know the biblical adage: “The eye is the lamp of the body” (Matt 6.22). Either way you spin it, the turn of phrase is poetic to be sure. But what if the reverse were true? What if we have it backwards, and the soul actually captains the eyes, directing them to see? Alters the idea of “seeing,” doesn’t it?

Dark fantasy, horror, the sublime, the fantastic, and the creepy challenge our ways of seeing and essentially our soul. But from where do these strange tales come? We can certainly find demons haunting the literary landscape well before the first gothic novel. Antiquity is filled with dark figures, manipulating man’s sight for their own means; and Dante’s pit of Hell is abundant with perverse and perverted embodiments and bodies blinded to present-day happenings as punishment for polluting their souls; and we could ask Doctor Faustus. He’d tell us a thing or two about losing one’s soul. Once he’d sold his, he lost all perspective, wallowing in a vat of empty knowledge and blind amusement playing parlor tricks with Mephistopheles until the devils came for payment, to flay and tear his flesh to pieces … But I’m getting off track. I wanted to talk about our ways of seeing and how they are so inevitably tied to the soul.

Literature, like the visual and plastic arts, demands we see what is before us and make sense of what we see. Literature that finds itself on the darker side makes greater demands on us, expecting us not only to see, but also to illuminate what we see. Seeing, in fact, has always been a part of gothic fiction. Take Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN as example – that poor creature, monster that he is, was terrorized by how others saw him. Until the De Lacey siblings had discovered him, papa De Lacey, blind to the horror in front of him, was content to converse with such a gracious and compassionate guest. We as readers can readily sympathize with the creature because we do not have to look at him, but need only imagine his abhorrent figure, which is not the same as witnessing it with our eyes, our soul. Anyone who doubts Mary Shelley challenges our ways of seeing hasn’t read the same text as me (which is very well a possibility, but that’s a whole 'nother post).

Shelley works with sight but also the sublime, a mere by-product of her luscious prose and the time in which she wrote (hanging out with poets like Percy and Byron couldn’t have hurt, either). Frankenstein is evocative of, and reliant on, the terrifying landscape in which its characters live—it is Nature, with a capital N. For her the grandeur of the Swiss Alps and the mystery of the glaciers up North satisfy, but we know even greater majesties of fear—we ride in airplanes and rockets. Can you imagine how mad Victor would think our science? We understand the sublime viscerally, though we may not know it. The sublime is about seeing, and yet it’s also about feeling fear upon that sight. Standing on a precipice, looking over the edge, into an abyss, that’s sublime; walking into a room we know is haunted … wait, I digress again, but surely it’s my prerogative to do so, no?

There’s a faculty bathroom in the college where I teach I’m certain is haunted. I feel it every time I go in there and yet it thrills me to test the eeriness of the atmosphere. I’m always alone in there, despite its row of stalls, and it’s locked, so anyone who enters needs to use a key. But I swear each time I unlock it and walk in the lights flicker just a little and when I see the black garbage bag that’s been wrapped on one of the sinks for repair—every time—I hesitate. It’s like a shadow in the corner of my eye I know is there but don’t want to see. When I see it for what it is I’m still put-off by it, despite its being an ordinary black garbage bag. And then there’s the sound the room makes, the low hum that seems to come from somewhere far beyond the vents, some place like the bowels of a nineteenth century madhouse … But hold on, this isn’t a unique experience. I used to live in The Dakota on the upper West Side of Manhattan. You know the building in which "Rosemary’s Baby" was filmed? Yes, that one. I lived alone in the maid’s quarters on the empty and desolate eighth floor, but my only bathroom was a floor up, and even more desolate, and was the size of a summer camp latrine. Spooky stuff, I tell you, especially since I’m one to drink a cup of tea before bedtime …

Okay, back to the sublime—sight and soul. I’d say it was the Romantic poets who really got the sublime, the terror and darkness of grandeur. For Longinus, the sublime was great and lofty rhetoric, grand thoughts; and the kind of sublime Kant refers to is that which enlists tall oaks and lonely shadows rather than flower beds and low hedges; night is sublime, day is beautiful; the sublime moves and the beautiful charms. But it’s Burke who says it best: “Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime ... terror is in all cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently, the ruling principle of the sublime.” When I think of terror I immediately think of sight, what I see (or don’t see, perhaps an even more frightening scenario), whether it is bathed in darkness or blown out with light, temporary blindness and visual disorientation stimulate the imagination.

Back to the Romantics who as it goes adopted Milton’s Satan and made him their son, their poetic hero and inheritance, the discarded and unforgivable wretch who warred on his maker. Did you ever wonder how we came up with the Byronic hero? The lonely and sublime figure walking on life’s precipice? Lord Byron, in fact, made no small contribution to dark fantasy. He’s rumored to have penned "The Vampyre: A Tale" (1819), a short story about a bloodsucker who drains the life from everyone he encounters. But we shouldn’t disregard Polidori, who may very well have written it as fan fiction to Byron’s "Fragment of a Novel." And then there’s Lermontov’s “The Demon,” a poem also inspired by the great Lord Byron … Again, I digress, but Byron’s poetry is dark in ways we may not have seen before:

Her eye (I’m very fond of handsome eyes)
Was large and dark, suppressing half its fire
Until she spoke, then through its soft disguise
Flash’d an expression more of pride than ire,
And love than either; and there would arise,
A something in them which was not desire,
But would have been, perhaps, but for the soul,
Which struggled through and chasten’d down the whole.


What is that “something” that arises in those dark eyes, the thing the soul chokes before it escapes? Pity or fear? Horror? The sublime?

We are haunted not only by what we see, but how we see, if we see. When frightened, we say, “did you see that?” Apparitions are things we build out of thin air; they just magically appear, forged in the shadowy corners of our imagination. The noun “apparition” first appears in 1500, used as “unclosing” in reference to Heaven, and to epiphany, as in the Epiphany, when the Christ child is revealed to the Magi. It comes from late Latin, referring to “an appearance” or “attendants” and is first recorded in 1600 as meaning a ghost. Appearance versus apparition; the one is expected, the other startles us. The haunting of an apparition seems to have its roots in antiquity, as poor Narcissus is tortured by the apparition of the one he sees in the lake. He does not know it is his own reflection, cursed as he is, but its disappearance haunts him more terribly than its appearance.

Dark fantasy deals in haunted sightings, and one writer who has mastered this is E. T. A. Hoffman, whose “The Sandman” (1816) is all about “the eyes! the eyes!” as Mister Coppola calls out to potential buyers of his lenses. Coppo is Italian for eye-socket and Klara, of course, symbolizes clarity. “Things are as we see them,” has never rung more true as it does in this short story, for even the reader can’t tell if Nathanael is mad, or imagining the memory of Coppelius, or Coppella. The eyes are of importance here, for they determine how we see, what we see and what our eyes appear to be. How much more may be said of the soul? And then there’s Guy de Maupassant’s “Le Horla” (1887), a particular favorite of mine. The story entails a psychological splitting of the self embodied in the spirit, or, as some say, madness. The narrator is haunted by a passing vessel out in the harbor, and the feeling that arises from seeing it. He is more frightened, in fact, by the invisible spirit since he can’t tell when it will appear. And, of course, Maupassant can’t help tipping his hat to vampirism when his narrator doesn’t see his reflection in the mirror.

But Poe so beautifully questions sight in "The Oval Portrait” I’d be remiss not to bring it up. If you haven’t read this short masterpiece, you must—you really must! I won’t spoil it for you but I think it could be a thesis for my current ramblings: There is an art to seeing, and seeing is an art; dark fantasy encapsulates both most readily.

So dark fantasy takes me to visual art because, well, quite frankly, I think painters and writers are kinfolk. Just as the painter asks his viewer to see his canvas, so too does the writer appeal to her reader’s sense of sight—only her paints are language and her canvas unlimited. But how again do we get to the soul? If you’ve ever seen a painting that has taken you out of the space in which you stood, sucked you into its landscape, or forced you to look, “to see!” by the very strength of its design, you’ve met your soul. It’s the thing that’s forced your eyes to feast on the visual offering, to sacrifice your common sense to the imaginative caves of the mind, to spill blood on the page so you may pass the feeling along to a reader—any reader, willing to swim in the depths of your darkness.

Now, having overstayed my welcome, I leave you with a few lines from Phoebe Cary’s “Dove’s Eyes” to ingest as you see fit,

There are eyes half defiant,
Half meek and compliant;
Black eyes, with wondrous, witching charm
To bring us good or to work us harm.


About THE JOURNAL OF VICENT DU MAURIER:


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In the days of the bloodless, a healthy human is a vampire's most valuable resource. But they're in short supply and Vincent Du Maurier is hungry.

Evie could be the last human being alive--and she's pregnant--which makes her situation most inconvenient for Vincent. As he struggles to keep her and her unborn child from both the jaws of the bloodless and the fangs of his starving clan, he faces the most difficult choice of his long life.

If he gives in to his gnawing hunger, he risks a destiny worse than that of the shades in Hades. But if he denies his nature, he could end up turning into something far worse--a vampire with humanity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Comment on a Comment

I swung by (as I often do) Janet Reid's blog last week.  The subject was being yourself.  Because of course you should always be yourself.  But then in the comments, the point came up that the part of yourself that you show is sometimes situational.  Because your boss at work doesn't need to know you're a weepy drunk for instance, right?

The discussion reminded me of a story I heard somewhere, likely Dan Savage's column, and I composed this comment:

For some reason, perhaps because I'm deranged, your comment reminds me of a story. 

A man was a regular customer at a bondage dungeon, and being as all parties involved were consenting adults and no crimes were committed, to each their own, right?  The man had an early appointment on Thanksgiving day before his entire extended family was due to fly in from all over.  Partway through his session and much to his amazement his dominatrix suddenly broke down crying because her family didn't approve of her lifestyle and she had nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.  Being a generally decent sort, and feeling that no one should be alone for the holidays, he invited her to his home.  When the family was seated around the dinner table the conversation turned (as it was wont to do) on what their guest's occupation was.  The man interrupted to say that she was an actress or some such bland white lie which prompted the dominatrix to stand up and tell the entire family what she did for a living and how she knew the man, and that he shouldn't be so ashamed to be who he was, and then stormed off, leaving the man facing his grandparents and siblings and everyone who now all knew his secret. 

Or, as you put it, "don't be afraid to be yourself, but don't advertise every little facet of your life that makes you who you are when it's inappropriate to do so."

And then I never pressed "publish" on the comment.  You know why?  Because I kept trying to tone it down and I wasn't sure if I had toned it down enough for public consumption.  Then it occurred to me that Janet's blog is a place kids probably go, and certainly a mixed audience goes, and this isn't the sort of story I would relate in mixed company no matter how much I toned it down.  On my own blog?  Sure, why the fuck not?  I say whatever I want on my own blog because that's the kind of space I've carved out for myself here.  But in the comments on somebody else's blog?  That's a different matter.

And then it occurred to me that this story - I mean, the story of me not publishing this comment - also spoke to the subject at hand.  I may be the kind of person who laughs at risqué stories, and that's certainly a part of who I am, but does an agent and potential future business contacts need to know that?  No, not really.  So, you know, I found it interesting that my story about my story was also kind of a story.  But maybe you won't.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Re-Animated #4: Duckman

*cracks knuckles*


Okay, Women in Horror Month kind of threw me off my overarching plan for the blog, and then when it was over I had a backlog of interviews, etc.  Now I'm back (for good or ill) to the point of having to generate original content again, so here we go.


First of all, I should say as I dig deeper into the Re-Animated series, I'm remembering more and more things that I want to cover.  So forgive me if it seems to keep ballooning, or, maybe "ballooning" isn't the right term, but more like forgive me if it seems to keep rambling.  I'm not strictly committed to a chronological schedule with this series, which would likely be impossible anyway, but for a while at least I'm going to keep things chronological so I can keep my head wrapped around them.


Last Re-Animated you may recall we covered "The Critic" which was a bit of a queer duck, but in many ways is of a piece with "The Simpsons" and many of the later screwy adult comedies that would come after.  Today's entry is even stranger, in a sense, and it represents what I can only describe as a dead branch in the adult animation family tree.  There's a fairly clear line from the common ancestor of "The Simpsons" to the progeny we have today.  But there's also the weirdness that is "Duckman."




I'm inclined to say there's really not a whole lot else like "Duckman."  I can't think of any later shows that make me say, "Oh, yeah, that show clearly owes a debt to 'Duckman.'"  It's like the Cro-Magnon man that split off from the simians and never quite took root.


"Duckman" aired on USA, a network which today I describe as a network of ironing shows.  They're shows you can watch while concentrating on the ironing without really missing a whole lot of what's going on.  Things like "Suits," "Burn Notice," and "Royal Pains" don't really require significant brainpower to watch, but aren't quite soap opera-level dumb.  They're pleasant non-entities.  (Of course, with the inception of "Mr. Robot" I may be eating my words soon, but I digress.)


In the '90s, USA wasn't even that advanced.  What original programming it had teetered on the brink of low-budget softcore porn ("Silk Stalkings") and micro-budget shows cobbled together from clips of marginally better shows ("Airwolf.")  Their Sunday morning cartoons were junk created by a company called Klasky-Csupo which has a distinct (and distinctly cheap) aesthetic.  Klasky-Csupo had success in the early '90s with some Nickelodeon shows which would go on to become the legendary NickToons (perhaps the subject of a future installment, but I'll leave it at that for now) and finally had the juice to propose a primetime adult show.


Also, it being the '90s, "Seinfeld" was ineluctably the most important show on TV.  Jason Alexander, who you probably know better as George Costanza, was cast in "Duckman" shortly before "Seinfeld" became a breakout hit.  And then, of course, it largely had a "big name" actor to coast on in marketing.


What was the show like?  Well, if I'm being kind I'd say it had a stylized appearance.  If I'm being realistic, I'd say it was ugly.  It wasn't "God, I have to look away from the screen" ugly (we will eventually cover a few shows like that) but it was ugly enough that I'm sure many viewers tuned out before ever finding out what the show was about.


So what was it about?  Well, there lies "Duckman's" redeeming qualities.  "Duckman" was ridiculously and consistently funny.  It was also dark, deranged, and misanthropic.  Duckman himself barely even rises to the moral level of anti-hero most episodes.  Despite being the protagonist, he can be downright villainous, and only his straight-as-an-arrow partner, Cornfed Pig (a pitch-perfect parody of Joe Friday from the old "Dragnet" series) as well as memories of his beloved dead wife keep Duckman from being an outright monster.


Actually, now that I think about, maybe "Duckman" isn't a complete outlier on the adult animation family tree.  Shows like "Rick and Morty" and "BoJack Horseman" (which, trust me, we'll get to in due time) which have been described as sadcoms may owe more to "Duckman" than I initially thought.


Because, despite being outrageously funny at times, "Duckman" is a deeply sad show.  Duckman himself is clearly manic-depressive, and so dyspeptic that he gives fellow avian forebear Daffy a run for his money.  (I guess there must just be something inherently amusing about watching ducks lose their cool...)  His family, despite loving him in the obligatory filial sense, largely despises him as a person.  As a detective, he is so incompetent that if it weren't for his much-abused partner and staff, he would likely be a pauper.  Duckman is someone who never got over the loss of his wife, which is a dark place to start a show, and simply doesn't care about the things he has left, like his professional and family life, except in fits and starts.


For being an adult cartoon on a basic cable channel at a time when there really weren't that many adult cartoons to begin with, "Duckman" was weirdly successful.  It lasted four seasons, from 1994-1997, and then pretty much became a piece of '90s arcana, along with Crystal Pepsi, The Rachel, and The Spice Girls.  Should you seek it out on DVD?  I would give a yes to that.  This was a clever, subversive, dark show, ahead of its time in a lot of ways, and definitely worth a watch if you've never seen it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Huge Tonal Shift: Interview with Simon Pearce, Director of "I am the Doorway"

*takes off sunglasses*

Oh, hello there, peasants.  In case you haven't noticed, Manuscripts Burn has become bit of a destination blog lately.  I've been having to fend off all kinds of requests for interviews from Hollywood-types, most of whom I am now on a nickname basis with.  Robert de Niro, for instance, is now simply "Bobby" to me, and Martin Scorsese, naturally, is just "Ol' Mr. Brownpants."  But as for the rest of you, here, have another high-profile interview.  It's not like I'm running out of them.

*laughs endlessly*

About Simon Pearce:



Simon first began making short films when he was just 13, when he met friend and colleague Chris Marshfield, with whom he has collaborated closely ever since. Their first short ‘I’, went on to be broadcast on BBC 2 in November 2004 as part of the BBC Blast Young Film-maker’s challenge.

He took a Media Studies ‘A’ level course at Wellsway Sixth Form college in Keynsham, Bristol, whilst simultaneously receiving training at the ITV Production Skills workshop, held at the ITV West studios in Bristol. Tutored by local short film director Paul Dudbridge, this course included training on camera work, editing, lighting and sound. He also attended several short film-making workshops in Bath, run by Suited and Booted Studios.

By the time he left college in 2005, he decided to go straight into work and began taking jobs wherever he could, in order to advance his skills as well as gain valuable experience and contacts in the industry. This included work as a runner, camera assistant and video assistant, where he worked on a series of digital shorts for South West Screen, and went on to amass credits on productions such as 2006’s “Casino Royale”, and the first season of the BBC drama series “Lark Rise to Candleford.”

Eventually, he began to get work as an operator and finally an editor, as which he now works freelance. Outside of this, he continued to make his own short films, before, in early 2008, he was approached to direct his first feature length drama “Shank.”

Interview:


SK:  Thanks for being with us today, Simon! My first question is why are you an independent filmmaker? Is the studio system something you're trying to break into or would you chose to remain an indie regardless?


SP:  Thanks for having me! I don't know if I've ever truly considered myself an independent film-maker, I mean certainly I am right now - but the thing I've only ever wanted to be is a film-maker, full stop. I guess the independent part at the moment is borne more of necessity! I definitely grew up on studio movies, and if I'm going to the cinema it is just as likely to be to see the latest "Fast & Furious" as it is to see an indie film! I try to watch a range, but I'd be lying if I didn't say my tastes weren't more mainstream. So yes, I would happily work in the studio system - at the end of the day if I can make a living directing full-time though that's all I want, however that comes about. Whatever project it is at that time that ignites my passion, and however it is best that that project gets made....

SK:  So I understand you started working in film at the age of 13. What was the situation regarding that? Was this for a school project or just in your backyard or were you apprenticing for serious filmmaking?

SP:  This was basically just in my back-yard. I picked up the family video camera probably even earlier than that actually, simply out of boredom, and made up a film on the spot with my friend. Straight away I knew this was something I was into so it became a regular thing - myself and a group of friends would get together and make something (often which involved us all pretending to beat and kill each other in various ways!) Then, as soon as I was able, I was looking to get involved in more serious shoots - I would enlist in summer schools, film competitions, volunteer on shoots as runner, and gradually the shorts I made alongside this became more serious, too, or more professional rather! When I left school at 18, I went straight into work in whatever capacity I could in the industry, and slowly worked my way up to where I am now.

SK:  For our readers who may not be aware, Stephen King has placed all of his unoptioned short stories up for option to enterprising filmmakers such as yourself for a dollar under his Dollar Babies Program. With all of King's work that was available to you what made you choose to adapt "I am the Doorway" in particular?

SP:  That was actually Jeffrey's choice. He contacted me having already acquired the rights to "Doorway" and I must admit I didn't know the story. I went straight out and bought NIGHT SHIFT though to read it, and I really liked it. Straight away it felt quite different to horrors I'd seen before, there was a lot of visual scope, and the way Jeffrey, Richard & Wendy have interpreted it for their script is really interesting. It's quite true to King's version, but they've also added some of their own themes and really expanded on some subtler layers to the story. Crucially for me too, it was a huge tonal shift from my first horror, which was the feature "Judas Ghost" - that gave me a taste for the genre, but I wanted my next one to feel very different. This certainly is that!

SK:  Is the Chicken of Bristol really as vicious as Sir Robin has led us to believe?

SP:  I must confess I wasn't familiar with that and just had to google it! Haha, you've taught me something there. I shall watch my back walking the streets at night.




SK:  Well, thanks for being with us and I wish you the best of luck with "I am the Doorway." Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers?


Just that it would be great if they could take the time to look at our crowd-fund page and see what we've put together so far - I know a lot of these dollar babies get made, not to mention crowd-funds for movie projects in general, but I genuinely believe we have something special here. So, if you're a fan of King or even just horror and film in general, do take the time to watch the campaign video and help us if you can! Even a share goes a long way.

Thanks again Stephen, we appreciate it!

About "I am the Doorway:"



After a journey to investigate desolate Pluto, astronaut Arthur returns home a shattered man.  He sees eyes forcing their way through the skin of his hands, eyes that distort his friends and the landscape itself into monstrous visions.  Believing himself the doorway to alien invasion and gruesome murder, he must take desperate action.

I am the Doorway,” a shocking science-fiction/horror short, is based on the chilling Stephen King story and fully authorized by the author.  It has been adapted by Jeffrey Stackhouse, Richard A. Becker & Wendy Lashbrook, a multi-award-winning screenwriting team based in the US, with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things horror.

From their original pitch for the adaptation:                                                                            

“... a movie in the tradition of Argento and Cronenberg, a film of beautiful colors and gorgeous wide-screen set pieces, which frame a brutal and devastating horror.”

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Write a Good Sci-Fi Villain



I know it's hard to believe (especially after last month) but sometimes even yours truly can be a guest for other people!  Such was the case when I made this video for Hazel Butler, aka The Bookshine Bandit.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Do Not Cut Yourself Slack: Interview with Jeffrey Stackhouse, Screenwriter of "I am the Doorway"

Welcome back, boils and ghouls!  Manuscripts Burn is turning out to be quite the hotspot for folks in the horror field.  I was very excited a few weeks back when Jeffrey Stackhouse, a ginuwine Cali-for-ni-ay screenwriter reached out to me for an interview on the blog.  Both Jeffrey and his collaborator, director Simon Pearce, will be featured on the blog this month to get a little attention for their Indiegogo for "I am the Doorway."  Their film is based on a story by an obscure 20th century horror author named (I think I'm spelling this right) Stephen King.  But enough of my jiggery-pokery.  Let's jump right in and meet the guest.

About Jeffrey Stackhouse:



Jeffrey Stackhouse has won multiple awards for horror screenplays with his partners Richard A. Becker and Wendy Lashbrook, including The Page International Screenwriting Awards, Shriekfest Horror Festival’s Best Short Screenplay (from an Anthology Horror Feature), and The Las Vegas Screenplay Contest.  Three of his seven scripts produced in the last three years are optioned by Allied Artists Film Group, one of those fully funded.

His most recent project is the fully-authorized adaptation of Stephen King’s "I am the Doorway," and his very first foray was on a short script whose finished film won 27 major awards.

Interview:


SK:  Welcome! Now, Jeffrey, you're the first professional screenwriter we've had on Manuscripts Burn, so I'm going to focus a few questions on that. First, how did you break into the field?

JS:  “Break in” is a euphemism, right?  “Kinda on the outside looking in” is perhaps the less-kind version.

Contests did a bit for me, in that it gave me a legitimacy of sorts, but similar to a University degree, those really don’t matter as far as forward motion.  They’ll get an occasional e-mail perhaps opened due to subject-line (“multi-award-winning horror screen writer’s new horror script”), but you still have to have a very engaging cover letter hit exactly the right moment and the right venue (“What’s this?  Why, we were discussing adding a contained-military-horror script to the roster just the other day … oh, dammit, it has SPFX, none of those; next!”).

Crap shoot does not nearly cover it.

Sadly, it really can be who you know.  My three optioned scripts (of our seven) at Allied Artists came because I got someone in a class to read a script, which he loved as far as writing style and energy.  But it was a Western (Spaghetti, but hey), and no place to position that, how dumb do ya gotta be in today’s market muttermutter …

Two years later and that acquaintance is the President of Allied Artists and it’s “Well maybe a Western, but alzo what else ya gots?”  <

But who you know.

NYC wasn’t like this.  In NYC, if someone saw something and loved it, they told all their friends; hell, they brought people to you.

I’ve had two high-B actors that I approached call me and spend, truth, over an hour telling me how wonderful the character/story/writing was and “Yes, I have people to get this to and will …”

Not A Thing.

Heh.  I had a big director request a specific script, receive a once-a-month e-mail from me going “I’m fully aware not every script is for everybody, no harm no foul, but look here’s an interesting article on that aspect of the genre, here’s another contest placement, my best to you and yours …”

-- Seven months later I get a reply saying “Did you ever send me that script?  Send it to me and I’ll look it over this week.”

… hadn’t read my requested script, hadn’t read my clever e-mails for 6 months, didn’t read the script this time.

So, you keep plugging.  Mining.  Finding.

In NY, I had finally reached the point where I could get other people opera/musical/stage-acting work, because people hired me for what I could do as a performer and would open their other castings to me.  I got to surround myself with skilled and kind people on a project.  Lucky boy.
I’ve applied that out here.

I mod a safe closed space where other writers, directors, nascent producers support one-another.  I see things I like, I put folk together.

Got my producer, director, location, co-writers on the Stephen King adaptation in that way.

-- It is who you know in LA, but you create those connections.  Ya canna just put out good product:  that’s shouting into a well.  You have to be your own manager; be kind to your future self with the hustle you bring today.

Ask me something simple.

SK:  How does writing a script differ from writing prose? And, on a technical note, what kind of software do you use? I prefer Celtx but I know people swear by Final Draft and others just prefer to use Word and do the formatting their damn selves.

JS:  - Easy first: Final Draft.  I like the interface, like that it will remind you if you stray.  Good solid program.  It might-maybe-could allow you to tweak it more, but then I’m eccentric.  

An aside on Format:  Screw those people who say formatting isn’t important.  Do you really want to miss an opportunity because one reader somewhere was convinced you didn’t know your stuff based on formatting?  You know their job's are on the line when they pass something “upstairs” right?

Yes, “write a story they can’t put down!”  But really, get your bad self together; it’s easy, learn the language professionals use.

- Differs:  I’m working on a novel right now, so I have actual thoughts on this; ya’ll judge if they’re cogent or not.

I started as a screenwriter and soon learned that my job was to get my thoughts into the reader’s head.  Economy, action, forward motion in a compelling story, satisfying finish.

Do The Job.

I write in a very literary style, and contest-wins aside, I need to put that style in service to the work.  It ain’t my job, it does not serve my co-writers or myself, for me to paint the very prettiest of pictures.

(I do, but I’m subversive about it)

I’ve said it elsewhere, but the only definition of poetry I know is “when you remove every word you can, what is left is poetry.”  

I try to write poetry, but my screenwriting achieves (when it does, hey) that with a scalpel, with a brutal eye.  Sacrifice the pretty turn of phrase, let fall the axe.

My co-writers love keeping me in line, lol.

(Couldn’t have better of those, by the way.  Richard A. Becker is an enormous reservoir of horror knowledge and can come up with the most thrilling story-turns and beats.  Wendy Lashbrook is patient with breaking a story and can cut to the meat of the meaning every time.  Did I say lucky man?)

Novelsnovelsnovels.  Still feeling my way.  Have a huge passion project in the works about a group of students in a rambling manor and how to call a dead god to Earth for just one annihilating wish.  

-- But when a reader comes to a novel, they still want that essential story, yet they want to be carried on a beautiful ship.  The “voice” of the author is more important.  Stephen King, Roger Zelazny (RIP), I love their “voices.”  I’m willing to see if they stick the landing, because the journey is so so fine.

Those things there^^


SK:  How did you get hooked up with your partners across the pond for "I am the Doorway?"

JS:  Wendy and I were awarded two of Mr. King’s stories, and I’ll tell you why we chose “I am the Doorway” sometime, but this question isn’t that.

We approached Richard as a valued resource and began talking the beats and approach.  My original thought was to create a film in the style of Argento and Cronenberg: a beautiful and lambent jewel that framed this absolutely brutal and terrible story.

Two years earlier I had seen Simon Pearce and Wolfram Parge’s feature horror “Judas Ghost” at Shriekfest Film Festival (my favorite Fest) and it blew me away.  The acting was well directed, the shots were intriguing and served-the-story, the forward motion was intense.  But as far as this project, even moreso, their color palate was beautiful.

After the screening, I made damn sure they knew my thoughts, and we kept in touch, I brought Simon into that supportive group, Shadowland: A Haven for Genre Professionals.

And I pitched the project to them, and they were intrigued and asked us for a short script, which we promised in a month.

And since it was an adaptation, and because Richard jumped on the first draft, and we then stayed up long nights and traded versions, we got it to them in nine days.

And they liked it (we do too).

Aaand because they’re consummate pros, they were able to attract the likes of DP Phil Meheux ("Casino Royale," "Mask Of Zorro") and Illusion Industries (SPFX for "Pirates of the Caribbean") to the film.

“How did I get hooked up …?”  

I was verah verah lucky.

SK:  What's your favorite Western and why?

JS:  “Unforgiven” is a stellar bit of the genre:  right amount of grit, multi-layered characters brought to life by tremendous actors, a compelling story racing to a merciless ending.  Good stuff.

-- Our can’t-be-named/contractually-obligated Spaghetti Western has some of that boiled down to a simpler story, driven by the lead.  He’s terse and no-nonsense, recognizes kindness but suffers no fools.  He spends the first third of the story trying to give the responsibility of righting a brutal tragedy to others, simply because he knows what will happen once he becomes involved.

“A dark haze hangs over the valley below him.  Only the shards of a town are left behind.”
We bill it as “A ferocious reimaging of the Spaghetti Western for the 21st Century.”

-- Characters, and character, are important.  You look at Jimmy Stewart in any Western he did:  warm, someone you look up to, but sometimes in his eyes you are left cut and bleeding by what you see.

Too many Westerns, to the point that Hollywood thinks the genre is the problem, are simply flawed stories with no logical progression, filled with characters of no moral center.  Hell, even a villain believes in something.  Did you see the remake of “3:10 to Yuma?”  Lawdy, the lead was an f’ing reed in the wind, changing his morals predicated on whatever seemed most likely to succeed.  Tell a damn story!  You don’t tell a story around a campfire wherein everyone is flawed.  Who cares if there’s no one to root for?

-- “The Salvation” is the most interesting thing I’ve seen lately (tho I haven’t yet watched “Bone Tomahawk,” don’t judge me).  It simply unfolds, anchored by Mads Mikkelsen’s tremendous gravity.

SK:  Well, thanks for being with us today! Is there anything I didn't ask about that you'd like to get out there to your fans before we go?

JS:  How about things I’d like to say …?

Hi Mom, hi Dad! (waving to The Universe).

-- Be kind to yourself, kinder than you need to be.  Treat yourself like you would treat someone else who was having that desperate “when will I succeed” time in their lives.  – Do not cut yourself slack (learn you job and do it), but try to lead that person to somewhere more productive.

Your future self deserves a helping hand, same as any human being.  Grant them that moment of your time.

Unless you’re a jerk to others.  Then grow up or screw you.

Thanks so much for the opportunity.  It was fun.

.. oh yeah, and this thing.  I’m pretty proud of it.  Maybe your audience could help, even if it’s only spreading it around.

About "I am the Doorway:"



After a journey to investigate desolate Pluto, astronaut Arthur returns home a shattered man.  He sees eyes forcing their way through the skin of his hands, eyes that distort his friends and the landscape itself into monstrous visions.  Believing himself the doorway to alien invasion and gruesome murder, he must take desperate action.

I am the Doorway,” a shocking science-fiction/horror short, is based on the chilling Stephen King story and fully authorized by the author.  It has been adapted by Jeffrey Stackhouse, Richard A. Becker & Wendy Lashbrook, a multi-award-winning screenwriting team based in the US, with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things horror.

From their original pitch for the adaptation:                                                                            

“... a movie in the tradition of Argento and Cronenberg, a film of beautiful colors and gorgeous wide-screen set pieces, which frame a brutal and devastating horror.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2016 Appearances

Hey there, everybody!  I'm a bit late getting to this post this year (I'll have to start making a note to do it early in January) but I didn't want to interrupt Women in Horror Month for it.  So hopefully nobody that wanted to attend missed Farpoint - but I also announce my appearances on Twitter and Facebook.

So, in case it's not readily obvious, red entries are events that I attended in the past.  I don't list any tentative events here - these are all confirmed.  I have my own personal tentative list and as that changes I will update this list, so make sure to check back periodically for updates.

If you'd like me to make an appearance at a convention or other event you're organizing or attending, feel free to contact me and we'll discuss it.  Most events in Baltimore or Philadelphia are a slam dunk for me to attend, but I'll consider travelling if invited.

Farpoint
Date:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 12-14 February
Location:  Radisson Hotel North Baltimore
2004 Greenspring Drive
Timonium, MD 21093

Panels:  None.  I will be in the Dealers Room all weekend.

Amazicon
Date:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 15-17 April
Location:  The Doubletree Hotel by Hilton
4727 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803
Panels:  None.  I will be in the Dealers Room all weekend.

World Horror Con
Date:  Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 28 April - 1 May
Location:  Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center
101 West 100 North
Provo, UT 84601
Panels:
Friday, April 29, 9:00-10:00am - Using Social Media Effectively
Friday, April 29, 4:30-5:30pm - Horror in the Small Press
Friday, April 29, 10:00-11:00pm - Gross-Out Competition
Saturday, April 30, 9:00-10:00am - Self-Published vs. Traditional vs. Hybrid

Carlisle High School Sci-Fi Day
Date:  Saturday, May 21, 11:00am-5:00pm
Location:  Carlisle High School
623 W. Penn St
Carlisle, PA 17013
Swartz Building
Panels:  None.

Rural Pennsylvania Author Expo with Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni
Date:  Friday and Saturday, June 10-11
Location:  Bradley's Book Outlet - Dubois
5522 Schaffer Rd
DuBois, Pennsylvania 15801
Panel:
Friday, June 10, 7:00pm - Q&A

Horrible Saturday at the York Emporium with Lesley Conner, Rachel Autumn Deering, Bob Ford, Brian Keene, Kelli Owen, Jason Pokopec, Mary SanGiovanni, and Chet WilliamsonDate:  Saturday, July 9, 12 noon - 5:00 pm
Location:  York Emporium
343 W Market St
York, PA 17401
Panel:
Saturday, July 9, 1:30-2:00pm - Q&A

Shore Leave 38
Dates:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 15-17
Location:  The Hunt Valley Inn
245 Shawan Rd.
Hunt Valley
MD 21031
Panels:
Friday 5:00 pm, Hunt Room - "How to Survive Your First SF/Media Con" (M)
Saturday 2:00 pm, Chase Room - "World-Building" (M)
Sunday 11:00 am, Concierge Room - "Publishing in 2016" (M)
Sunday 3:00 pm, Concierge Room - "Connecting With Readers in the Modern World" (M)

Scares that Care Weekend Part 3
Dates:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday July 22-24
Location:  50 Kingsmill Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Panel:
Sunday, 1:00 pm, Room TBD - Reading with Rachel Autumn Deering

ChessieCon
Dates:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday November 25-27
Location: Radisson Hotel North Baltimore
2004 Greenspring Drive
Timonium, MD 21093
Panels:
Friday, 3:00 pm, Greenspring 1 - "Gadgets in Fiction"
Friday, 5:30 pm, Greenspring 1 - "The Other Side of Over the Top: Writing Your Turkey Award Entry" (M)
Saturday, 10:00 am, Greenspring 3-5 - "Literary Agents and Query Letters: What, How, and Why"
Saturday, 11:15 am, Greenspring 1 - "Gruesome Deaths: GRRM vs. GRIMM"
Saturday, 12:30 pm, Chesapeake 1-2 - Reading: HUNTER OF THE DEAD
Saturday, 1:45 pm, Greenspring 3-5 - "Turkey Awards Panel"
Saturday, 4:15 pm, Greenspring 3-5 - "Character Building: Quirks, Hobbies, and Passions"
Saturday, 6:45 pm, Atrium - Group Signing
Saturday 9:15 pm, Greenspring 1, "What's My Line"
Sunday, 10:00 am, Greenspring 2, "The Martian -- Repopularizing the Robinsonade" (M)
Sunday, 11:15 am, Greenspring 2, "Protagonists With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"

New Year's Party Con
Dates:  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday December 30 - January 1
Location:  Holiday Inn Allentown Lehigh Valley
7736 Adrienne Dr
Breinigsville, PA 18031
Panels:  None.  I will be at a table all weekend.
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