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It’s My Duty to Inform You That…It’s NaNoWriMo Time!

November 2, 2010

I don’t know how this fell to me, but I’m going to leave the humor aside for one week (and I know many of you are saying “what humor?”) so I can remind faithful readers about the one time of year we all really enjoy…besides Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th and Halloween — namely NaNoWriMo

For those not familiar with this event, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and was started by Chris Baty back in 1999. The challenge is to write a coherent novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. It began yesterday (Nov. 1) and runs through 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30.

By that date, you’ll either be beaming with a new novel or still pissed at the results of the Grambling State-Southern Bayou Classic.

Anyway, there is no actual prize associated with being a winner. Writing 50,000 words in a month and making them fit into a novel is prize enough. You do get a little banner that you can paste to your account (if you have one).

And who knows? You may find your novel getting picked up by a publisher. Think it doesn’t happen? Ask Sara Gruen and her novel Water for Elephants, which hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. For a list of NaNoWriMo participants whose novels got picked up for publication, check this out.

If you should decide to participate, here’s how to get started:

1) Sign on to the Internet

2) Go to

3) Sign up

Note: If you’re one of the 60,000-plus who did this last year or the year before, use your old sign-in name, please. Otherwise, they won’t remember you. They have the means to help you if you’ve forgotten user name and password. Also, remember that the word count will appear on your WDC page.

Want to be the next A.M. Homes? Join NaNoWriMo

And don’t worry if you’ve never written a novel before. A friend of mine wrote something about vampires, vacations and Alaska and it got published. And the writer was from Jersey, no less. So, it’s not that difficult.

Anyway, here are a few helpful hints for writing 50,000 words in one month:

A) Be loose. Set aside time to write. Say about an hour a day. It can be morning, noon, night or late night. Especially a time with no distraction like kids or snoring spouses (hey, husbands can snore, too). Most importantly, write every day because, if you don’t, it’s like missing a day of exercise. You’ll suddenly miss more and more and it will be Nov. 30 before you know it.

B) Have some flexibility. You might find yourself wanting to change directions with your novel. It might start out as a memoir of how you met your husband and then change into how you met and married husband no. 5.

C) Set goals. Now, NaNoWriMo suggests writing at least 1,667 words a day, but that’s mathematical. Write what you can. You’ll have days when you don’t feel like writing much of anything and then there will be days when your significant other can’t pry you loose from the computer. Go with the flow and just write something.

D) Wait until the end to edit if you must. Trust me, I’ve fallen into this trap too many times in the past. Think of NaNoWriMo like the SATs. With tests, you answer all the questions and, if you have time left, you go back over them. With your novel, write until it’s done. Then, if it’s not quite 11:59 p.m. on the 30th, go back and browse through it. (one exception to this hint: please use Spellcheck and Grammarcheck).

Also, here are a couple of books, including one by Chris Baty himself, on how to write a novel in 30 days (both available on

By Chris Baty

by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Special note: The winner of the Halloween novel contest is Kris M. Kris, if you would please review my last blog and pick a title from the list, I will have that sent to you post-haste. Just leave a comment on this week’s blog when you decide and then we’ll go about exchanging info offline so I can order it.

Halloween: Season of the Witch

October 29, 2010

     I suppose that I should apologize for borrowing from the film, Halloween III: Season of the Witch for using part of their title for my heading; however, since that film is so universally [Censored by WW editorial staff], they may actually wish to offer us some residuals for bringing it up in the first place. In any event, I mean only to speak of the season that we are currently in, which is, of course, Halloween.

Now, being a church-going, Bible-thumping, Bible-believing kind of guy, I could easily write a very long post about several reasons why we should not want anything to do with such a date and the supposed thinning of the veil. Thankfully, this is not the forum for such posts, and personally I let this particular “holiday” pass by like water off the proverbial duck’s back. We have never really decorated our house or yard, but that wasn’t because we had taken some concrete, unyielding stance or another. We just never have. My sons did go trick or treating. How else was my wife going to get her chocolate fix? Okay, I wanted some candy, too. I kind of like the whole ghosts and goblins craziness…as long as there are no “real” apparitions to be seen in my house in the middle of the night. Some of you may know just how early I have to get up in the morning for my day-job; if there were some “things in the dead of night”, I would definitely “bump” into them.

How about some of you folks? Are there any traditions that you enjoy, regarding this particular season? Do you decorate your yard or the inside of the house? Do you have small children or grandchildren that you dress up and escort about town, hunting for treats? The following photo is of Disney’s Haunted Mansion after it has been transformed into The Nightmare Before Christmas. They do this for the holidays and not necessarily every year. Speaking of someone who has visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California quite often, it is spectacular to behold.

Disney's Haunted Mansion

There is one thing that I would like to do, but continue to fail at and that is hunting for horror films to watch. When I was a teenager, back when Nosferatu was a new film, I used to enjoy watching scary things (I was kidding about Nosferatu; I hope you caught that). I grew up with Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, John Carpenter films, and several other movies commonly regarded as Slasher Films. However, now that I think about it, I question whether we actually enjoyed those films, or simply partook of them because they were a bit of a taboo. Perhaps it was simply the thrill of watching something that our parents were barely allowing us to view, or that we were not allowed to do, but were doing so behind their backs anyway. Maybe it was a bit like that first drink, or the day we passed our driving test and could finally drive alone or our first [Once again,Censored by WW editorial staff] .

My problem now is I don’t think I have the stomach for senseless violence. I’m not terribly interested in something so formula-driven: several teenagers get together for drinking, doing drugs and having sex (yeah, I let that one go-the Censored joke had run its course) only to be hunted down, one by one, until the last one defeats the villain and survives; at least until the sequel. I’m not interested in torture porn, either. These days I prefer to be pulled along by The Sixth Sense or White Noise or The Silence of the Lambs or something that is more mentally frightening than physically disgusting.

How about you folks? Do you enjoy scary movies during this season of the year? If so, what are your favorites? Perhaps you may even help me by pointing out some films that I should really give a chance to. I’m always ready for a good ghost story, for example. Recently I have thought about watching certain films, The Messengers or The Skeleton Key come to mind, but I just never really took the plunge. Part of the reason has to do with having no one to view these films with; my wife can’t watch anything the least bit scary and my oldest son is barely at that age now. I let him watch Silence about a year ago and he sat there quiet as that lamb that finally stopped screaming when it was over, mind fully blown. When I have watched these films, I have had to do it on a laptop in the privacy of the back bedroom, so nobody else would see what they most definitely did not wish to see.

In any event, I am open, so what have you got? I would love to hear from any and all of you on this subject.

No matter how you view Halloween, may it be a safe one.

And if you must say Candyman or Beetlejuice, please refrain from saying it no more than twice…

…and never in my presence. I like all of my ghosts on the printed page.

Watch out for hitchhiking ghosts.

Halloween: From a Lost Generation Perspective

October 27, 2010

I recently found out I am of the ‘Lost Generation’. Those poor souls born at the tail end of the baby boomers but didn’t quite make the mark to be seriously considered for Generation X.

In other words, we are the generation who didn’t have careers already established before computers came on the scene, and we are the generation who never got the computer training in school, because most of our schools couldn’t afford them when they first started rolling off the assembly line.

However, I digress.

This piece is about a favorite Halloween memory. The backdrop is a time, not too long ago, when one knew their neighbors. When children actually played outside in the sunshine. When one didn’t worry about what they ate, being politically correct or staying out after sundown.

The time was 1977.

I was in 6th grade that year. My mother had informed me that since I was on the cusp of becoming a teenager, this would be my last Halloween.

I was devastated.

You see, Halloween was really special back then. It wasn’t all horror, gore, and Freddy Kruger.

It was a time of bon-fires. Of hayrides, bobbing for apples and the Keetch’s haunted corn maze.

It was who grew and carved the biggest pumpkin, salted pumpkin seeds warm from the oven and sharing fresh apple cider and homemade powder sugar donuts (that left nifty little white mustaches.)

It was of garages turned into haunted houses, complete with cold ‘intestines’ pasta, peeled ‘eyeball’ grapes, Jell-O ‘for brains’ and a multitude of gross food items that when blindfolded, could freak even the strongest of us kids out.

devils nite kit, sans the rotten food

It was of Devil’s Night; innocent pranks of robbing hen houses of eggs and gardens of their frost bitten tomatoes still the vine. Of toilet papering trees, soaping windows and smearing shaving cream on door handles.

It was ghost stories being read by a teacher, the homemade and very creative costume contests at school, of the parades through the high school classes to show off said costumes and of the party of candy before going out and getting more candy.

Oh – and speaking of the goody run, it was a time where you could expect EVERYONE to have their porch lights on. You could EXPECT to bring in a mother load of stuff to last you until January. You could EXPECT full size candy bars and not worry about needles and razor blades.

And it just wasn’t about manufactured candy. There were Mrs. Brown’s popcorn balls. Mrs. Robertson’s sugar cookie ghosts with flooded white icing and smarties for the eyes. Mrs. Hunts Carmel apples – with or without nuts, your choice. Moreover, one could always expect a bottle of orange soda from the neighborhood “bachelors” (that’s what we called the two gay guys that lived together since the Korean War.)

One time I brought home a real kitten in my sack of goodies. My parents where ‘thrilled’.

Another thing you could expect was at least three inches of snow to be on the ground. After all, Halloween night was only 15 days away from Open firearm Deer Season – a holiday in itself, as we got two days off from school to go to deer camp.

(Deer camp. Ahhh, yes. What good memories those days had – and a post for another time.)

Being that it was so cold out, it was hard to come up with good Halloween costumes that you could actually see and keep warm at the same time. Nothing was more disappointing than going to a door, yelling “Trick or Treat” through chattering teeth, and stand there for 10 minutes freezing your butt of while Old man George and his wife Helen tried to guess what you were.

This is where ingenuity came into play.

Some of my friends wore snowsuits, along with old electric guitars and painted their faces, KISS style. Others sewed a couple of old shiny raincoats coats together and looked like spacemen. Playing on the coat theme, some mothers would take old coats and turn them into furry-headed jumpsuits, allowing the wearer to go as a demented bear. Or werewolf, depending on the shape of the ears and tail.

My best buddy Bart dressed up as a woman in a mink coat for a few years. (He’s also the one, during our last year of high school, wore a dress into a Marine recruiting office. And no, they didn’t sign him up, but he did get a few dates out of the deal.)

Men in drag, 1920s

My favorite costume I wore year after year? The mysterious dead hunter. It was an old, warm hunting jacket, donned with fake blood, a few ‘animal’ nail shreds, a ratted wig and hat, a pair of ‘Blues Brothers’ type sunglasses, a fake cigar, complete with a scruffy drawn on beard and mustache and a gun. (Yeah, this was back in the day where you could carry a reasonable look-alike weapon and not get a second glance.) Not only did this outfit keep my ‘ little naughty bits’ toasty, but also I won several costume contests. Nobody could figure out who I was.

So why, after all these years, do I remember the Halloween of 1977 the best out of all the Halloweens there were?

Because it was the last one I ever celebrated.

Oh, and because on that last Halloween of my youth, I received my first kiss on the neighborhood hayride!

I told you that hunter costume was something else!


Psychic Ability 101

October 25, 2010

Today, I’m going to take the “Free-topic wild card”, but don’t worry, I’ll keep my post Halloween related.

In ancient mythology around the world, as well as in many New-Age religions, October 31st is the one day of the year in which the veil between the physical and meta-physical is thinnest. Many believe this is why ghost are able to walk the Earth on Halloween night. In addition to spirits passing between the astral plans, psychic energy is also able to move more freely on Halloween night.

Contrary to common belief, psychic “powers” isn’t something you’re just born with. Though some people are more naturally in tune to their intuition, the truth is anyone can learn to be psychic, should they choose. Psychic abilities are a skill and, just like writing or wood carving, require practice to develop. Today I’m going to give you all a small lesson in Psychic 101 that you can use to impress your friends and family with at you next Halloween party.

But first, you must understand some basics about psychic abilities. It helps to have an understanding of how psychic abilities work. Being psychic has nothing to do with a “sixth sense”. Developing your inner psychic is all about learning to take your five senses and turn them inward. For example, instead of using your eyesight to see the world around you, you would use your inner eye to see the world inside you. It’s all about learning to trust your gut instinct.

There are 3 ways in which people “see” or “use” their psychic abilities and they are, in fact, linked with the senses:

  • Clairvoyance: The ability to see images and pictures in your mind.
  • Clairaudience: The ability to hear with an inner ear.
  • Clairsentience: The ability to feel or simply know something with your inner mind.

Some people use a combination of the above. I, for example, am clairvoyant and clairsentient.

Now, how to use and develop your psychic ability? There is a very simple exercise for beginners that requires a deck of playing cards and a quiet space. Begin by getting comfy on the floor, sofa, bed, etc. Shuffle the deck of cards and then place them turned down in front of you.

Next, quiet your mind. If you’ve never done this before, Google Yoga meditation/breathing techniques. This part of the exercise may take several minutes for beginners, but try your best to keep your mind clear.

Now, pick up the first card off the deck. Without turning the card over, try to use your inner psychic to tell if the card is red or black. This exercise is easy because you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right, but you must resist the urge to simply guess the color. Really put an effort into focusing on your mind’s eye. What do you see/hear/feel? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Usually your first thought or feeling is the correct one. Second-guessing or dwelling on the correct color for too long will mess up the process. Remember, developing your psychic ability is all about learning to trust your intuition.

A word about what you might see with your inner eye:  A large part about being psychic is learning to decode symbols. For example, even if you are clairvoyant, you won’t always see colors. Let’s say the card in your hand is red. You might not see red. You might see a heart or a diamond. Or you might see something completely random that you do not understand, but, in some way, symbolizes the color red. If you are clairsentient, you might feel heat when you touch a red card because red is usually a “warm” color. So even though you might not “see” what color the card is, do not think you’re doing it wrong. You just need to figure out how your unique inner psychic works.

So go ahead, give it a try! Now’s the time of year when this neat little trick will be easiest. Don’t be shy. It’s lots of fun. And if you’re good at it and want to develop your ability further, try guessing if the card is a face card or a suite card. Once you get good at that, go ahead and try to predict if the card is a heart, diamond, club, or spade!

Quelle horreur?

October 21, 2010

A time for confessions? Indeedy!

But, not only have I not read any Stephen King (not even his book on writing, Sharon), I have also not read Dean Koontz, James Herbert and that chap called Poe! (I have been warned off Shaun Hutson and Clive Barker – but, strangely enough, I had never heard of them in the first place. No loss there, then.)

He heard snarling, inhuman voices cutting through the ghostly blackness in front suddenly … a man was beating a dog with a stick… [He] strained helplessly not to see or hear … A small crowd watched. A squat woman stepped out and asked [the man] please to stop. “Mind your own business,” the man barked gruffly, lifting his stick as though he might beat her too …

Ooops…. Now where did that come from?

When researching for this post… “Research,” I hear you exclaim. Yes, research…

When researching for this post I recalled the one (horror) story that I read that must have appealed to me. Well, I recalled it, didn’t I?

When I was young, I had a collection of short stories – the only collection of short stories I had ever attempted to read, until I acquired a collection of Anton Chekov only last year… There I go, digressing again…

[He] quickened his pace to get away, almost ran … At the next corner a man was beating a small boy brutally in the midst of an immobile crowd … [He] recoiled with sickening recognition. He was certain he had witnessed that same horrible scene sometime before. Déjà vu?

Some digression! Now, where was I?

Ah, yes… a short horror story… Well, despite recalling it, I have no idea of who wrote it or what its title was; but its themes have stuck with me. If someone tries to engage me in a conversation about horror stories and writers, then this short story is about the only thing I can talk of… then I try and change the subject because I truly cannot recall the detail.

I do know that the story in question featured three inns on a desolate moor, three inn-keepers, copious quantities of darkness and fog, a traveller and various body parts – including some rather ornately carved “ivory-like” utensils, chair legs and some rather tasty soup… Just what a tired traveller on the desolate moor would look forward to! I believe one of the inns was called the Rest of the Traveller!

I could just do with a drink...

The yawning wound — was that a tube of slimy bone he saw running deep inside the gory scarlet flowed behind the twitching, startling fibres of weird muscle? — was dripping blood in several trickles, like snow melting on eaves, but viscous and red, already thickening as it dropped.

Urggghhhhhhhhhh……… too, much detail! Is that why I don’t read horror stories? My mother was a nurse, my sister is a nurse, and my step sister too… I’ve been in and out of hospitals (as patient and visitor) and I viewed the effects of knife wounds and gunshot… Do I really want to read about more of the gory stuff?

[His] undershorts… were soaking up blotches of blood on one side as though in thirst. [He] was stunned at how waxen and ghastly his friend’s bare leg looked, how loathsome, how lifeless and esoteric the downy, fine curled blond hairs on his odd, white shin and calf. The wound… [was] as long and wide as his hand, and too raw and deep to see into clearly. The raw muscles inside twitched like live hamburger meat.

I said… “DO I REALLY WANT TO READ MORE OF THE GORY STUFF?” It’s a good job I’m not a regular at MacD’s or (perish the thought) BK… (Live oysters are much more fun… they don’t twitch so much… well, maybe, if the lemon is particularly sharp! But that’s another subject entirely.)

Then he saw a sickening, gigantic hole in his friend’s ribs and watched helplessly as the man died before him, his insides spilled out all over him, revealing a secret.

“Look, this is beyond a joke…”
“This what?
“This interrupting my blog post with your constant glimpses of stuff I’m not interested in…”
“Ah! That STUFF! You mean you don’t like glimpses into…”
“Into what?”
“Stop interrupting”
“Pardon,” I exclaim, “you’re interrupting me! I thought? Now you’re getting me confused…”
“I should say!”

His teeth were chattering in horror. He forced himself to look again. Here was God’s plenty, all right, he thought bitterly as he stared — liver, lungs, kidneys, ribs, stomach and bits of…

“There you go again.”
“There. Interrupting me when I’m about to tell you what I’m up to.”
“You’re up to something?” I ask, sarcastically. “What do you know of horror?”
“More than you, it would appear!”
“If that’s horror, I’m not sure I’m going to change genres…”
“But what?” I snap.
“But didn’t you say… now let me think… last post, wasn’t it? Didn’t you say something about horror being found in reality?
“Well, yes I did, I guess. But this?
“Yes, this…”

“It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter; that was [his] secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was [his] secret. Ripeness was all”

“Where did you find this?”
“Don’t you know? I am surprised, David… it’s one of your all time favourite books, by one of your all time favourite authors.

Tasty, this soup...

“I just played with your mind a bit and changed the context.”
“Go on then, tell me.”
“No. Now sit there and eat your soup…” 😉
“What did you say the name of this inn was?
“I didn’t…”

Horrible Things

October 20, 2010

Well, they say confession is good for the soul, so while we’re on this particular kick, guess what, I haven’t read a Stephen King book, either. Except his book on  writing, which I loved. But there are a few Horrible Things I’ve read, and so (as usual) I’m going to take us on a little journey, and some of you will think I’ve gone bonkers.

Trust Me

Here are some real horror stories: advertising slicks for the upcoming elections (Oh yes, David, we’re having elections, did you hear?) My mailbox was overchoking full on Saturday. I read more horrible stories about seemingly nice-looking people who do the nastiest things. You would think they had murdered someone or should go to jail. Some of these flyers have pictures of opposing candidates that make them look like axe murderers! George, talk about clowns! I mean, who can you trust? In keeping with the season, this is what I think of ALL political ads, written, flown across the sky, emails, voicemail broadcasts, posters and junk mail:

Just pick up one of your local newspapers (sorry Greg). Mr. Punchy Palches, my high school newspaper advisor would be horrified to learn you can’t hold up a news column, clip off the bottom third and still have a cohesive story, like he used to demonstrate, with especially MY stories.

Snip, snip, my breaking news articles were amputated, and left bleeding on the floor of the Oracle newsroom. My 9″ column became a truncated version of it’s former self at just 3″. It was so bad that I developed a complex for scissors. Punchy knew what he was talking about. One of us actually became famous for writing and rose all the way to edit the Costco Newspaper. Wow, did we miss the boat.

Okay, here’s another horror story: my tax return. No. I won’t print it here. And I won’t tell you about the money I’m NOT, let me say that again, NOT making. I went online to one of those credit counseling sites to look for some cool budgeting forms. It had a computerized voice blurting out at me: “Do you have income?”

I was shocked, and didn’t know how to respond. She–that mythical creature from deep inside the bowels of my computer–asked me again. “Do you have income?”

For the he** of it I punched the no button.

The next question was a real spine tingler: “How do you plan to pay for your debts?”

I typed in the box, “Can you give me some money?”

Do you think there’s a computer geek somewhere in Iowa who reads these at 3 AM? Come to think of it, that might make a good thriller. A guy who, in the wee hours of the morning, counsels people on paying their bills and gets a distress message: “Help, I’m a beautiful princess trapped in this balance sheet.” The pencil pusher transforms into a prince.

Seriously, I did read all of Anne Rice’s books before she had her conversion, which I respect, by the way. I just like her earlier books and erotica better. But as I’ve said before, I love the new vamps, with real hot-blooded desires. I like it when they get carried away, and I always found that to be a missed opportunity by lady Anne. But she made compelling reads because of her characters, and without the cheat sheets we get to use in romance, keeping the reader hooked. Find me someone who can write good zombies, and maybe I’ll read one. Just the mention of the name and I’m seeing Bella Lugosi’s eyes with the little penlight flashlights on them. No, they have to be warm blooded, even if they’re after mine in the process.


I guess I lean this way because life can be pretty darned scary all on its own. Too much everyday horror, not enough love. Did anybody but me have a little reaction when the miners in Chile were given sunglasses and iPods? The guy who thought that one up must be running someone’s political campaign here in California. I think we’re gonna get Reverend Moonbeam here again. Those of us old enough to remember when we had him the first time don’t, due to the drugs. But that’s an issue for another time, my friends.

About as horrific as I get is this book, which I highly recommend, by Jenny Gardiner. I can relate because I have a vengeful rooster named Blanche who has tried to kill me for years, and attacks anything that comes into the yard. This book is just funny, and that’s how I deal with everyday life.

What about you? Do you have those dark and creepy books you
can’t bear to put down? Or are you like me, charmed with the
horrors of the world we live in?

May we never forget to laugh, and explore all the whacky and wonderful places inside us all.

I Have A Confession to Make: I’m A Fraud

October 19, 2010

Yes, you heard right.

I’m a fraud.

I’m not the horror aficionado that you all think I am.

You may have thought that after reading For G.O.O.D., Collection and Black Man With A Gun, but, really I’m still a novice in this genre. I know Crawl (still playing out in serial format in the latest issue of Spectacular Speculations; by the way, the October contest for Speculations is closed) was written back in 2003, but it is mostly science fiction.

Even though I have been writing for more than 30 years and call myself a science fiction and horror writer, I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar with this week’s topic — my favorite horror novel or the one that influenced me the most.

A longtime horror writer should have a wealth of books to refer back to. He should have favorite authors he can’t count on both hands.

Sorry if you thought that about me.

I have committed some egregious sins in the horror field. I did not read Bram Stoker’s Dracula until about five years ago.

For shame!

Truth is, I’ve never been able to get through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus because I still compare it to James Whale’s classic with Boris Karloff.

I did not get enough desire to go find Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds until after I had gotten the 40th anniversary DVD edition of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful film version.

And, most serious of all, I moved away from Boston in the summer of 1982 without reading a single Stephen King story. Yeah, me, the guy who won an ACT-SO award for a chilling ghost story in 1981 did not read the Master of Horror while actually living in New England (the inspiration for the ghost story was The Screaming Skull, an absolutely dreadful film, even by my standards).

I saw Salem’s Lot on television and it did not lead me to a bookstore. When I was in high school in Texas, I found a copy of Night Shift and only then did I get into Mr. King. Oddly enough, I love his anthologies but have not been able to really read his full-length novels.

And I think I can blame it all on H.P. Lovecraft.

H.P. Lovecraft, circa 1934


He was the one horror guy I did read at the library (and that was initially because of the fancy covers of his books). I found myself trying to get all of his books.

But, let’s face it, folks. H.P. Lovecraft was downright weird.

One glimpse into The Call of Cthulu, The Lurking Fear, The Colour Out of Space and The Shadow Over Innsmouth and you’d think you’ve entered another plane of reality (which you have). Fates you can’t escape, no matter if you’re a thousand years removed from the incident, deeply depressing circumstances and the inability for anyone to escape.

If I want that, I’ll reread Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home.

To this day, I still can’t psyche myself into writing a Lovecraftian tale.

Thus, I read his books trying to understand them because it was a great challenge for a growing and maturing mind that had already dismissed the juvenile books about hot rods and wanted more than Johnny Tremaine. But, my brain was not up to the task yet and I made no trips to other sections of the horror shelves.

Finally, though, I was saved by Mr. King. Nightshift, a collection of the short stories he wrote and sold for various magazines in the 1970s, really got to me in a way that Lovecraft could not. I understood King’s stories, for one thing. Secondly, I could identify with the characters. Thirdly, King did not make New England into one horrible cesspool just a level or two above Dante’s Inferno like Lovecraft did (King was born in Maine; Lovecraft in Providence, Rhode Island).

King’s stories like The Raft where four horny teenagers get caught in the middle of a forbidden lake by a monstrous entity reminded me of my days as a horny teen sneaking up to Silver Lake in Halifax to watch Rachel and Michelle skinny dip (fortunately, the lake had no black gunk in it to spoil my experiences – there’s a joke in there but I’m not going to say it, you perverts).

Eventually, some of King’s works have found their way into my writing. Take a second look at For G.O.O.D. and you’ll see a bit of Quitters, Inc. in there.

The truth is, though, is that I’ve never really needed horror stories to influence my writing. I can look at everyday normal situations and think of some way they can become horrible and terrifying.

That’s how Palmetto bugs became the boogeymen of Red Herring.

And that scratching in the ceiling, is that from the squirrels running around in the eaves?

Or can it be something else?

Wait, I hear something more. More than just scratching. It sounds like…like…


My God, they’re gnawing through the ceiling. They’re coming after me.

They’re…they’re in the walls!

THE RATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Ah, another contest: Seems like I was just here. But, since my last contest went so well, I’ll take a cue from James and try again. If we can get some new reviews or comments over the next two weeks for at least one blogger this week and next, I’ll send the winner a copy of one of my favorite classic horror novels – Night Shift (Stephen King), The Birds (Daphne du Maurier), Pyscho (Robert Bloch), Stinger (James McCammon), The Keep (F. Paul Wilson) or Dark Tidings (Gregory Marshall Smith)