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Everything Is Cancelled! Time To Crush The TBR Pile.

You know things are taken to a whole other level when all sports are cancelled. We’re talking billion dollar industries, canned for the foreseeable future. Wow. I mean, if was told to quarantine myself, I was looking forward to afternoons watching the Mets spring training games.

For better or for worse, whether the chain of reactions are rational or ill-advised, this is the way the world is going to be now. I’ve washed my hands raw (because I work with the public and don’t want to bring anything home to 3 of the 4 high risk people in the family), tapped elbows and now am locked in an office as we practice some heavy duty social distancing. It’s all a very good excuse to ignore people, especially the ass wads who try to ruin your day.

Our favorite movie theater just closed for the next few weeks. The St. fucking Patrick’s Day parade is kaput. I’m sure the bars will be temporarily shuttered by next week. We need to learn how to make our own toilet paper if we’re ever going to carry on.

The Shea lair s stocked up on beer and wine. And whisky. And peanuts. Plus a smattering of other food stuffs. Is there anything else we’d need?

Through all of the madness, I see this as an opportunity. For some, it’s a golden chance to stay home with no pressure to go out and do a thing, veg on the couch and watch TV until their eyes bleed.

Me? I’m looking forward to catching up on my reading. Oh, and writing. Started a new book and I can really put a dent in it this weekend.

Here are some of the books I’m hoping to dive into as coronavirus drags on. What’s in your TBR pile?

unexplained

three chords

shriek

rise

borne

con season

Calm Down and Drink Corona Beer

I’m looking at this post as a kind of PSA, an urge to get folks to take a deep breath and stop spiraling into panic and madness over the Coronavirus. Just think, we’ve lost trillions of dollars here in the US stock market over 2 deaths. That’s right, as of today, we have 2 deaths in the US. More diabetics have died from toe infections in the past week.

Detail of lined up Corona beer bottles seen on the store

If the Coronavirus was put here on Earth as a kind of intelligence test, we’ve failed. When people are not buying Corona beer out of fear, well, we’ve lost.

Did you know that there have been over 4,000 death from the common flu in the US this year alone? The good old flu has a just over 5% mortality rate here in the country with the best access to medical care in the world. The Coronavirus has a 2.3 (and that’s rounding it up!) mortality rate. Don’t believe me? Click here to see the website that is tracking all of the madness. 

We can’t compare ourselves with other countries that don’t have our healthcare underpinnings. Sick people come here when hope is running out, not the other way around. Trust me, I know. With a handicapped wife who has been given last rites twice in her life, only to keep the fuck on trucking, we’re well versed in where to get the best treatment. In China, where the virus has hit the hardest, the mortality rate is 3.6%. Again, less than the flu in the US. And do you think communist China has healthcare than even deserves to stand in the same room as the US? If you do, you need to get back to school.

Nothing makes me angrier than blind hysteria, especially in a time when cold hard facts are at your fingertips! Does critical thinking exist anymore? Or are we just programmed to react to anything spoonfed to us by a corrupt, fear-mongering media? What I’ve witnessed here in New York over the past few weeks has left me shaking my head. What’s really behind this beating of the drum?

And now it’s being politicized. I saw a commercial for Mike Bloomberg last night extolling how the current administration has bungled the Coronovirus and only Mike can save us. Hey, moron, by the time you’d win, according to you, we’ll all be dead anyway. Have fun running an empty country. This kind of fear mongering should get people thrown in jail, just as you would a person yelling ‘fire!’ in a packed movie theater.

You can’t find hand sanitizer on store shelves (or plastic bags now that the ban is in effect in NY. Imagine if plastic bags were the cure to Coronavirus?). I see people stockpiling food and water and talking of self quarantines, even if they’ve been working from home since the so-called outbreak began and haven’t so much as walked by another human being. Hell, I want to quarantine myself if it means I get to not go to work for a couple of weeks and binge on horror movies and books. Hmm, maybe in that sense, the panic does have a silver lining. A nice two week vacation. Two weeks of sipping on cold Coronas.

Maybe you think this whole post sounds harsh and I’m a cruel, uncaring person. Truth is, I do care. Mental health is as important as physical health. And right now, the head ain’t right. It’s listening to voices and losing the plot.

My advice. CALM…THE FUCK…DOWN. Please. Look at the facts and think!

Oh, but always wash your hands. Because if you get the flu, you really have something to worry about.

Or again, you get to stay home for a few days and catch up on that TBR pile.

Indiegogo Campaign – CAR NEX ANTHOLOGY

When my good buddy Terry M. West comes a-calling, I answer the fucking call. This time around, the master of all things horrific is starting an Indiegogo campaign for his Car Nex Anthology. We’re talking fresh tales of ooey-gooey terror, gals and ghouls. I’ve been tapped to write a brand new bit o’ 80s inspired squeamishness and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

However, this shit ain’t gonna happen unless peeps jump on the campaign. (yeah, I said peeps without any sense of irony). So let’s spread the word and get this bad mutha off the ground. Here are the deets. (ok, you can mock me for deets).

car nex indiegogo copy

Pleasant Storm, Texas. 1965. A God-fearing family man finds an ancient book of secrets and is compelled to perform a blood ceremony. The Car Nex is brought into our dimension, and Hell is given form and fangs. Weapons will not slow it. Prayers will not stop it. It is coming. And it hungers.

SIGN ON TO BE A PART OF THE INSANITY RIGHT HERE! 

10 Christmas Present Ideas For The Writer In Your Life

Ho ho ho, Hellions! Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Yeah, me neither. Gotta visit Amazon later today. I already hit up Fright Rags for a ton of gifts for the family. Love their shirts and socks.

One thing I’ve noticed is that most readers know writers, whether they be aspiring scribblers or established hunt and peckers (insert snickers). If you’re wondering what to get them for Christmas, let old Hunter make some suggestions. I guarantee you’ll be their favorite person to have under the mistletoe if you pick something from the list below.

OFFICE SUPPLIES GIFT CARD – Office supplies are like porn to writers. We love pens and printing paper, index cards and storage bins. When I have time to kill, I often find myself walking the aisles of Staples, glassy-eyed and wobbly, overwhelmed by all the stuff I want to revamp my office for the hundredth time.

A COMFY CHAIR – It can be an office chair on casters so they can roll around the room, a rocker from Cracker Barrel or an overstuffed armchair you found at a tag sale. Find out where they like to write (at a desk, in a corner of the room, the yard) and find something comfortable for them to park their ass. Writers spend a lot of time on their keisters and it needs to cozy.

chair

BOOKS – What have I said a thousand times? You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. If your writer pal loves mysteries, buy him or her the latest C.J. Box or Lee Child. Do they write cookbooks? Go old school and buy them a cookbook written by Julia Child or James Beard  (or, for a horror foodie, Vincent Price’s wonderful collection of culinary delights). For writing inspiration, I always suggest A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and On Writing by Stephen King.

v price

BOOZE – It’s no secret that we authorly types like to tip back a few. We’re more than happy with a cold six pack or a flask of liquid fire. A great recommendation is Writers Tears Irish Whiskey. It won’t break the bank at a little over forty bucks a bottle and even if they don’t drink it, the bottle will look great on the shelf.

writers-tears-irish-whiskey-1_1

A NEW LAPTOP – Technology has made writing so much easier, and there’s no better invention than the laptop. It gives writers total freedom to write anywhere at any time. This is no casual gift. You better love the hell out of the person you give this to and believe me, they will thank you profusely. My mother-in-law bought me my first ‘computer’, a nifty Brother word processor. When that died, my wife got me a Gateway desktop computer that weighed more than my car. Still two of my favorite gifts ever.

A HOTEL STAY – Does your friend or loved one need some alone time with their manuscript? Maybe they need to sprint to the end of a book or buckle down and do revisions. A day or two at a hotel does wonders. Almost every writer I know has holed up in a Marriott or Days Inn to focus on their work. Go to one of those hotel dealie websites and book a room at a discount, but understand you can’t go with them. They need total alone time.

A FANCY SHMANCY PEN – A nice pen is a great gift for a writer, but only if they write in longhand often. If they spend the vast majority of their time on a computer, a fancy pen will only stay in the box and collect dust. We want to get some practical gifts this Christmas. You don’t have to go all Montblanc, but you can get some pretty amazing writing utensils for around a hundy.

A LAPTOP TRAY OR DESK – I’m writing this on a laptop tray that’s resting on my knees. This is especially awesome for writers who prefer to create in bed. Since becoming an early morning writer, my laptop tray has proved itself to be invaluable. I literally wake up, pluck the tray from the side of my bed, plop my laptop upon it and get to work, all while still under the sheets.

lap

TIME AND UNDERSTANDING – Writing, especially in the early years, is exceedingly difficult. Friends and family wonder what the hell you’re doing in that room or repeatedly ask why you’re wasting your time since you didn’t land a JK Rowlings-type deal yet. It’s soooo damn easy to get distracted, and usually the ones doing the distracting are the ones closest to you. Give the writer in your life a daily coupon book, good for X amount of time of uninterrupted writing. When the door is closed, don’t go in. Respect their time and passion. This might be the best gift you can give.

MOVIE PASS – Nothing sparks creativity like a day at the movies. Or it can be used as a time to unplug your brain and just enjoy the show. Best part is, this is one thing you can do together! Then, after the movie, let them redeem a coupon for writing time so they can whip out their laptop desk, knock back a shot of whiskey and get to writing.


What are some of the gifts you’ve gotten for writers in the past? You might come up with something I’ll want to put on my own list!

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.

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…

The_Ouija_Board

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.

tombstone

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.

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.

thing

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.

shinig

 

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?

mono

 

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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