Resolutions are for Suckers

This is going to be a short post because I want to get right to the point. This time of year, a lot of people start thinking about what their new year’s resolutions are going to be for 2019.

Don’t be one of those people. Resolutions, like hearts, are made to be broken. You want to do something? Get off your ass TODAY and do it.

I’ve known a lot of people who swear they’re going to start writing that book that’s been circling around their brain right after the ball drops. Guess what? They don’t.

Ideas are like passion fruit. Eat them now before they wither and die.

If you said you will write a book in 2019 and wait until 1/1/19 to start instead of today, you’re already behind. You could have written 30,000 words already! And face it, by the time New Year’s Day rolls around, you’re going to bitch and moan that you’re hungover or tired or just worn down from the holidays.

Write now. Eat right and exercise now. Start your own custom bagel shop now. Pet every dog you meet now. I don’t care what you do. Just don’t be one of those suckers who thinks they need to wait for a date on a calendar to start your passion, your dream, your big plan!

Don’t just take my word. Listen to this guy. He has a beard and tattoos and curses a lot – and he says it like it is.

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The Hustle of Balancing Life, Work and Writing

It’s Sunday morning at 9:00 and I’m already tired. But no matter how tired I feel, this old man is not taking a nap. I’ll be going at it full force until my head hits the pillow. Why? Because I want to…and maybe a lot of ‘because I have to’.

I may have written and published over 25 books, but that doesn’t mean I get to coast. No way. Not until Stephen King and I can trade investment secrets. Writing, or better yet finding time to do it, hasn’t gotten any easier. Like most scribblers, I have a day job. At age 50, I embarked on a totally new career, shucking 20 years of experience and clout to do something I would enjoy. The day job takes up about 11-12 hours of my day, Tuesday through Saturday. It’s mentally and physically demanding. People half my age bail when the going gets rough here. Oh, and I get to work on Saturdays for the first time since I was a stock boy in Gristedes supermarket back in 1990. Yay me for missing out on a lot of fun.

Because I get home later than ever now, I had to adjust when I write. Fortunately for me, my ability to sleep in was broken long ago by my children (who are now adults). So instead of writing a night, which I did for almost two decades, I’ve had to retrain myself to become an early morning writer. It wasn’t easy, but I knew if I didn’t push myself, I would miss every deadline, both professional and personal. And I had to learn to write in bed so as not to clunk around the house and disturb everyone.

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On workdays, I wake up, write and answer emails and do a little marketing for two hours. Then it’s time to get ready for work and head off to my one hour commute.

What about weekends? Take today for an example. It’s a gray Sunday, my first day off. What do I do? Wake up at 5:30am. I watched an episode of Mars on National Geographic because I want to write about the series. I then read for thirty minutes, a little for pleasure and a little for work. The sink was full of dishes so I cleaned them and started a load of laundry. I cleaned the bathroom and saw the toaster oven was in need of some TLC, too. We’re (finally!) shooting new episodes of Monster Men today, so I put together a list of things to do for one of the episodes. Now it’s time to write on the old blog and chain, get in at least 1,000 words on my new book, SLASH, and prep the house, aka – the set – for Monster Men. We’ll record for several hours, watch a movie and then I’ll be hosting a live viewing party of THANKSKILLING with my special hellions on Patreon. By the time that’s over, I’ll be in bed, dead to the world until tomorrow before dawn.

Within all of this craziness, I’ll be with my family, the most important people in my life. Those of you who follow this blog know my wife is disabled. When I was writing CREATURE, she was sick with pneumonia. Cut to a year and three months later and she’s still not over it. In fact, we’re waiting for the CDC to deliver special medication formulated just for her, as her compromised immune system just can’t do the work it needs to do. Being with her and my girls is crucial, which is another reason why I write when they’re asleep. When I get home from work, it’s dark out and I’m tired as hell. Better to spend that time recharging the love battery by hanging out with them.

I can attest, spinning these plates does not get easier as you get older. Some days, it sucks. It sucks real hard. But I love my family and I love writing, and heck, I even like my job, so for me, there is no other choice. Whenever I’m about to bitch and whine about doing something I hate or dread doing, I think of this : If I was laid up in a hospital bed right now and unable to ever be healthy or get up again, I’d trade everything for a chance to do that thing I think I don’t want to do. Would I rather go food shopping in a packed supermarket than have terminal cancer? If the answer is shit yeah, it’s time to shut up and tarry on.

Despite all of this, don’t feel like you have to tackle the world each and every day. Carve out time, even if it’s only ten minutes, to recharge. Meditate, read, do air guitar in your car to Metallica, make a dump cake. Find your zen. Watching the laundry spin is a personal favorite. Kinda like watching the flames dance in a fire.

I have big ideas and projects for 2019, as I’m sure you do as well. Now’s the perfect time to plan and figure out how to make them happen, and the best time to do so. It ain’t easy. But neither is Sister Mary Margaret Bernadette. There is one vital thing that nun knows how to do – get into a habit.

What new habits or changes to existing ones do you need to hit your goals? What is the one thing you want to accomplish in the next year? What are you major stumbling blocks? We can kick some ass if we decide to kick it together. Spill the beans right here, tell the world and make yourself accountable. It does wonders.

Cover Reveal for GHOST MINE

For those of you who have been asking when my western horror novel, Hell Hole, is coming back, well, here’s a start. Flame Tree Press is bringing it back to your eyeballs with a new title and cover! It will be reborn on May 9th, 2019.

Ghost Mine cover

This is the book that has it all – Teddy Roosevelt, cowboys, hired guns, black eyed kids, Bigfoot, ghosts, traveling preachers, dust storms, missing soldiers, a fiery Mexican temptress and so much more. Oh, and it’s set in a real current abandoned mining town. I’m thrilled with the new cover that’s been branded so it’s similar to Creature. Also very happy I was able to slap a new name on it so it no longer sounds like a Spinal Tap song. 🙂

Here’s the synopsis :

Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits. Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem-those who go seeking their fortune never return. Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. But the remnants of Hecla are far from empty. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark mine…as well as a force so sinister, Nat’s and Teta’s very souls are in jeopardy. There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.

Hope you Hellions will be ready to do some spelunking in the GHOST MINE soon!

Crazy Swedes – I’m Big In Stockholm

Ok, that may be an understatement, but I am IN Sweden. All righty, I’m not personally there, but Creature was just spotted on a bookshelf in the Science Fiction Bookhandlen, which I’ve been told by an awesome resident, Dan J., is the premier horror/scifi bookstore in all of Stockholm. Now I know I have to leave the US to find a horror section in a bookstore!

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It’s kinda cool to see Creature between Rice and Straub and right next to Jeremy Shipp.

Swedish bookstore

Flame Tree Press, for those who don’t know, is a UK publisher, so I guess it’s only natural the book would find its way into stores in Europe. Fun fact, my favorite candy as a kid was Swedish fish. They cost a penny a fish and the corner store owner would count them out by twos whenever I slapped my money on the counter, sweeping them into a small brown paper bag when he was done.

Since I’m bound to New York for the foreseeable future, I need your help. If you find Creature in the wild, aka – on a shelf in a bookstore – take a pic and send it to me at huntershea1@gmail.com along with where you found it. I’ll share the pic and thank you by sending you a free book! 

Happy hunting!

A True Ouija Board Story for Halloween

Happy Halloween to all my Hellions far and wide. As we slip into the spookiest of all days, I thought I’d share my one and only time messing around with a Ouija board. I wrote this article a few years back and thought it would set the mood perfectly. So light some candles, lock the door and call out to the dead…

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Halloween is fun until the scares are real. I learned that in college.

This is something I and my old friends rarely talk about, not because we worry it might sound crazy to people (and it does). No, we don’t like bringing it up because of how deeply it affected all of us. Maybe it was the night (Halloween), the place (my friend’s apartment next to an old cemetery), our intentions (five dopes looking to talk with the dead) that took us down a dark path. It was most likely all three. Yeah, it had to be.

My friend Gene (all names changed to protect the quasi-innocent), rented a top floor apartment right across the street from a cemetery in New Rochelle, NY. We were in college and had started our own fraternity because we hated the dumb crap frats made pledges do. With us, if we liked you, you were in. No humiliation.

I digress. Four of us went with Gene to his apartment on Halloween night with the express purpose of having a séance. There wasn’t anyone in particular we wanted to reach beyond the veil. Any disembodied spirit would do. Oddly enough, we were all stone cold sober. That alone should have told us something was off.

We had a couple of problems. None of us were mediums and we didn’t have a Ouija board. It was too late to run to the toy store to buy one. That problem was easily solved. We drew up letters and numbers on paper, cut them into squares and lined them up on the floor in a circle. For a planchette, we used a cut-up plastic coffee lid. There, Ouija boards made easy! It wasn’t the best looking spirit board, but it would do.

The five of us sat around the carefully placed scraps of paper, each putting a finger on the makeshift planchette. We asked it questions. The wind actually howled outside the window. All we were missing was lightning and a black cat.

At first, nothing happened.

But then the planchette started to move. It was the oddest sensation. My finger was barely on it. Sure, one of them could have been moving it, but I got a strange rush that went through my body. Something was talking to us, answering our questions. And it wasn’t happy. The more freaked out we became, the angrier it got. As much as we wanted to stop, we just couldn’t. When we spoke about it later, we all agreed we were feeling the same unearthly vibe.

We learned the name of the spirit was Fran Turner. Fran wasn’t thrilled that we were disturbing her. We were no longer thrilled that we had called something into our little, unprotected circle (I later learned that homemade spirit boards are a biiig no-no. It’s like opening a portal without knowing how to close it properly).

Finally, we couldn’t take it any longer. We removed our fingers at the same time. Hearts racing, we were happy to leave Fran alone.

But it didn’t stop there. Even in the dark, we could see Richie’s eyes had rolled up to the top of his head. He began talking in a strange voice, saying he was Fran Turner! Now, Richie was one of the most innocent, unassuming guys I’d ever met. Still is. He’s not a prankster. For several minutes, this Fran Turner talked to us through Richie. I’ll admit, I nearly crapped myself. We were so flipped out, we shook Richie hard and scattered the pieces of the Ouija board all over the room.

That seemed to break the spell. Richie stopped talking, head rolling onto his chest. When he opened his eyes again, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. It took a while to settle him down. We left the apartment an hour later feeling an invisible set of eyes at our backs. We promised to never, ever screw with a Ouija board again. It took a few slugs of Jaegermeister to get me to sleep later.

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We couldn’t let it go. The next day, we were all still shaken. Our usually boisterous meet up in the school cafeteria was markedly subdued. While I was in media class, a couple of the guys went to the boneyard. I’m pretty sure you can guess what they found.

Fran Turner’s grave was right there, the old headstone nestled in the middle of the cemetery. At one point that week, each of us went to the grave, mouths hanging open, minds blown, knees feeling as if they’d been turned to Smucker’s jelly.

It’s over 25 years later and we’re still confounded by what happened that night. Some guys refuse to even talk about it. Did we actually pluck the shade of Fran Turner from the ether? Was it our focused, collective unconscious that created the spirit’s actions on the board and Richie’s bizarre spell? I don’t know or hold out hope to ever get to the bottom of it. All I know is that it happened, and there are five grown men who would pay good money to have the whole night erased from our memories.

If you take anything from this, please don’t fuck with Ouija boards next to cemeteries on Halloween night.

Trick or treat instead. You can thank me later.

Just in Time for Halloween – THE DEVIL’S FINGERS

That’s right hellions, the final book in my One Size Eats All Trilogy is finally here! THE DEVIL’S FINGERS is a nasty “be careful when you go in the woods” tale of conspiracy, infection and brutal murder. Think of it as a mashup of Day of the Triffids/Cabin Fever/Friday the 13th/Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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WHAT HAS LONG PINK FINGERS AND SMELLS LIKE ROTTING FLESH?
It is a slime-covered fungus known for its pinkish red tentacles and pungent odor. It is indigenous to Australia but has spread to North America. Its Latin name is Clathrus Archeri, also known as Octopus Stinkhorn. Most people call it The Devil’s Fingers . . .

I DON’T KNOW BUT IT’S GROWING ON YOUR NECK. 
Deep in the woods of Washington, botanist Autumn Winters stumbles onto a field of the luridly colored fungi. Two of her fellow campers make the mistake of touching it. Now it’s growing on them. Fleshy gelatinous pods. Sprouting from their skin. Feeding on their blood . . .

AND IT’S STILL GROWING.
Autumn watches in horror as her friends are transformed into monstrosities—grotesque, human-fungal hybrids as contagious and deadly as any virus. Autumn knows she must destroy these mutations before they return to civilization. But if there’s one thing that spreads faster than fear, it’s The Devil’s Fingers . . .

“The descriptions of pods bursting with tentacles wiggling was enough to make me gag. I had a hard time not reading this book in one sitting. If you’re a fan of Hunter this will not disappoint. Go and download a copy, it’s a must read. Just be warned, the level of gross is high in the pages of this one…” — The Scary Reviews


Guess what? Devil’s Fingers are a real thing! It’s a terrifying looking fungus that looks straight out of an alien nightmare. Their actual name is Clathrus Archeri, and watching one “hatch” will make your stomach turn. Don’t believe me? Check this out…

 

If you’re intrigued by the terrible things I do with this horror fungus, click here to order The Devil’s Fingers today! 


And for those audiobook lovers out there, the first 50 people to pre-order my One Size Eats All audiobook from Graphic Audio will get a free Grand Pa Guignol yo-yo!

One Size

The Sounds of Horror

Hey there Hellions. How’s your Horrortober so far? I’m starting this week working on a new novel for Flame Tree Press titled SLASH and editing my next Severed Press book, ANTARCTIC ICE BEASTS. So, since I’m a tad swamped at the moment (because if I have free time, it will be filled with watching horror movies), my buddy Dallas Ray Kitchens is going to talk about his love affair with horror movie soundtracks. What are some of your favorites?


In the fascinating world of horror, whether its books, movies, or soundtracks, I find that we have a fascination with violence. We see an accident and we can’t look away. It’s a burning, itchy feeling in the brain impossible to ignore.

 

And often it’s the soundtrack that makes or breaks a movie. Which brings me to the first and one of the best, 1982,s John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s a throbbing pulsing beat that gets your blood boiling. The main theme sets the tone for the entire movie. It grabs you by the throat and does not shake you loose until the end credits.

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Music can and often does make the movie. When you’re sitting there waiting for your movie to start, all relaxed and comfortable, staring at the screen, telling yourself, I’m not scared, telling yourself, this movie ain’t nothing, the house lights suddenly go down, and the first musical note hits, and you hope against hope you don’t shit yourself.

 

Let’s delve into The Shining from 1980. The terrifying soundtrack starts with a low deep vibration in your chest, and you start thinking, what the hell is happening to me? You begin to realize that you’re being released from the horror of your life, and opening up to a whole other world. A world of sound unlike anything you’ve ever heard or felt. Just close your eyes, and it will take you back to a fear that’s never left you. It’s just been buried deep down in your soul.

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Some of the movies that changed my course forever are 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera and The Monolith Monsters. The Phantom runs you over like a tank, leaving you breathless, saying thank you sir may I have another. The Monolith Monsters, is a scifi classic, where a desert town is attacked by giant blood thirsty Crystals. A giant meteorite crashes and explodes, leaving hundreds of fragments that grow to be big and tall and menacing, and then they fall and it starts all over again. Yep, killer rocks. What more could ask for?

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When a soundtrack gets it right, all you need to do is turn it on, close your eyes and relive the horror in your mind. We all have our favorites. What give you shivers in the dead of night?

 
 

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