Tag Archive | Christmas

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

A Christmas Exorcism

The miracle of Christmas from a horror writer’s perspective…

This time of year, I see a lot of signs and bumper stickers that declare we need to “put the Christ back in Christmas.” Even if you’re not a Christian, I’m sure you can agree that the birth of Christ is the true reason for the season. It’s just a matter of historical perspective. The secularization of the holiday has created a backlash, though it gets drowned out by frantic shopping, bright lights, and lying to children that elves on shelves and fat old men are watching their every move. We CAN put the Christ back in Christmas, if the Catholic church so desires. I’m going to propose a very unconventional way to go about it.

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Faith seems to be in very short supply these days. It gets harder and harder to keep the faith as we are bombarded with more and more distractions. Our 24/7 news cycle is designed to only show us the worst of humanity and the unfairness of life. It’s not only depressing as hell, it also makes you question whether there can be a Creator God who would allow such things to happen to his (or her) children. Add to that an abundance of material and opinions on religious history and it gets to the point that you don’t know who or what to believe. So what do you need to pull your head from the orgy of Christmas excess to the true meaning of this time of year?

Faith.

And like I said, faith is getting pretty hard to come by.

Even during the time that Jesus walked the earth (kinda like Kung Fu) and was performing miracles, there was a lack of faith. The Apostles and his disciples needed constant reminders of his divine origin. Remember good old Doubting Thomas?

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From John 20:24-29 : 

24 Now Thomas , one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Thomas, who was alive when Jesus was healing the lame, turning water into wine, and bringing the dead back to life, still needed concrete proof. His faith wasn’t strong enough, even though JC was in his midst doing what JC did best. Thomas needed that extra bit of proof.

So why are we expected to have so much faith two-thousand years and endless atrocities later? It’s nice to be blessed, but it isn’t easy to attain, even now, during what is supposed to be one of the happiest and most holy times of the year.

People need proof. And short of the second coming (which, if you believe the prophecy, will not be all wine and roses), we need concrete evidence of divine forces working here on earth. You might say “we need miracles!” and run to your book of saints, pointing out the oodles of miracles performed in their names over the centuries. Or the stigmata of Padre Pio, who was with us all the way until 1968, stunning believers and non-believers alike. Tales of angelic intervention and miracle cures abound.

But it’s not enough to cut through the noise. Not for us. Not for this world we’ve shaped.

We feed off the negative. I know it’s hard to say, but it’s true. If we didn’t, our newscasts would be vastly different, Jerry Springer would have been on the air for 25 days, not years, and civil discord would be the norm, not the exception.

So, in light of what we are and what we need, I propose this:

Show us an honest to God exorcism. 

We have endless ways to document and record the fantastical feats performed by the possessed. From speaking in strange languages in bizarre voices, to vomiting objects such as nails, insects and small animals (people have been known to throw up frogs and mice), levitation, and so much more, these are things that will frighten us into belief. Imagine the visuals and audio of an exorcism, presented to us not just through tacit approval of the Catholic church, but also independent sources (especially if we can get an atheist on board, which shouldn’t be hard to find in the media).

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I was told by a monsignor that had performed several exorcisms that true evil does exist. We all know that. We see it, and want to see it, everyday. What we need proof of is that evil exists as an entity separate from man. We may not be able to see the good around us, but if you take the time to show us the bad, people will take notice. Film a miracle and I doubt it will make the news (if it does, it will have X-Files music playing in the background). Show the terrors of an exorcism in living color, and it will be the headline story.

All of this says more about us (and me), than it does about God (or whatever name you want to hang on the entity that made us…if you believe). But as any parent will tell you, we learn through fear. Parents instill a fear of putting your hand on a hot stove, leaping off the edge of the tub, talking to strangers, taking drugs, and hundreds of other things. That fear keeps us safe. If you want the most incredible Christmas in history (okay, the second most), frighten us. Put the fear of God and the Devil in us. Prove to us what awaits a shallow, secular life and we will sing praises, open our hearts to love, and spread joy at Christmas. We will believe because just like Thomas, we will have been given proof.  Maybe we won’t be as blessed as those who never needed proof, but we’ll be on the right path.

Sure, this won’t work for everybody. Nothing can. People will claim the proof is fake, or a ploy to get fannies to fill church pews. There’s no such thing as a cure all. But the impact will be seismic. Is it sad we have to cater to our base nature to elevate our souls? Perhaps. Or maybe we just have to accept what we are and find a way to improve our lot in life (and the afterlife), no matter how much it makes us cringe.

Maybe we’re the little Whos down in Whoville that needed proof of evil in the form of that nasty Grinch to strip away the distractions and noise and show us that we better get our acts together. His heart may have grown three sizes that day, but what impact did his evil have on them?

Something to consider.

And speaking of the Grinch, I’ll leave you with Dr. Seuss’s parting words:

“Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.”

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Only 1 Week Left For Samhain Horror

Ho ho  ho, Hellions! Still recovering from a holiday with the family? Or is Uncle Bill with irritable bowel syndrome still living in your guest room?

Oh, the horror! And now that we’re on that subject, Samhain horror is about to say bye-bye forever. When the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, the dozens of great books they published over the past 5 years disappear. Poof! Some may find homes with new publishers, but a lot may never be seen again.

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So, if you got some cash or gift cards this year, why not spend a few bucks on some Samhain titles before they go the way of the Dodo? Then you never need to say goodbye to books by outstanding authors like Jonathan Janz, Brian Moreland, Russell James, Catherine Cavendish, Ron Malfi, Tim Waggoner, Glenn Rolfe, David Bernstein, Alan Spencer, Frazier Lee, Megan Hart, Kristopher Rufty  and so many more?

I was fortunate enough to publish 6 novels and 3 novellas with Samhain and the greatest horror editor of all time, Don D’Auria. I can tell you now that some of my titles will find new homes and new incarnations, but others may go out of print for good. I’m still talking to publishers and deciding what to do. Odds are, even the ones that will resurrect won’t be available for quite some time. I invite you to hop on over to my Amazon Author Page and take a gander and see which titles you’d like to grab before there ain’t no more to grab.

This is a great week to curl up with a good book and take a well deserved break. I hope you choose a Samhain horror book to be your post-holiday buddy.

For those who rode along with us during this 5 year journey, what were some of your favorite books and authors? I just may reward random people who post their favorites with some free Samhain ebooks. Here’s to hitting new heights in 2017!

Last Chance To Get Samhain Books – December Appearances

It’s kinda sad to write that headline. *sniff *

I have 2 final appearances for the year that will also be your last chance to pick up my signed Samhain books before they go out of print. First up, I’ll be at the Hudson Horror Show on Saturday, December 3rd at the Empire Hills Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY. It’s also the first event where I’ll have copies of my latest, Loch Ness Revenge. Even better, my daughter the baker will have specialty homemade cupcakes for sale as well. Get a book and a cupcake and enjoy the movie marathon.

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Then, on Friday, December 9th, I get my bad Santa on along with authors Robert Stava, Time Meyer and Matt Manochio with our Horror for the Holidays event at Yonkers Brewing in Yonkers, NY. The festivities begin at 7pm and end when Santa’s sacks are empty. Yonkers Brewing makes some of the best beer in NY and they have an excellent restaurant. Come and ho-ho-ho along with us.

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Looking Back – And Forward – At Christmas

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking the same thing I am today – ‘We made it!’

The month of December seems both a marathon and a sprint, days and nights spent planning, shopping, arranging travel, sending out cards, decorating, more shopping and then just a tad more shopping. The stores and malls this year have been more crowded than ever, which for economists is a good sign. For those caught in those crowds, it was a nightmare.

Usually at this time of year, churches would have a little less pew space. Not so this year. I guess there were too many sales at Target and Walmart luring folks away. It’s funny, we watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special and the very things Chuck was lamenting 50 years ago still hold true today, on a scale I’m sure he could never have imagined. (On a side note, I met the voice of Charlie Brown a couple of months ago. Funny guy. He was just sentenced to prison a week ago)

Today, with all of the Christmas cookies baked and nothing to do but wait for the big man to come down our imaginary chimney,  I have time to reflect on all of the Christmases I’ve experienced – the good and the sad.

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was spent at my grandparent’s house. I loved Christmas Eve there. For me, it was even better than Christmas. They had a small ceramic Christmas tree and little village on Grandpa’s work desk. He had the 8 track player softly playing Christmas songs. We opened presents in the living room, ate and then my sister and I would rush into the TV room to watch the first Christmas cartoon ever made, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. My aunts and uncles would come over and for one night, the family was aligned in perfection. Everyone but my mother and sister is gone now. It’s easy to get maudlin, but I choose to remember the good times we all had and to be grateful for them.

MagooChristmasI remember Christmas Eve’s in the 90s (and just over the past 2 years again) when we weren’t sure my wife would be with us because she was so sick. Christmas is her holiday. I swear she was a North Pole elf in another life. The best present I received each of those Christmases was my wife, smiling by the tree.

Seventeen years ago we spent our first Christmas with someone we were told we would never have – our daughter. She was so tiny, the little stuffed Santa we all took pictures of her sitting next to was almost bigger than her. I think that day was the happiest I’ve ever seen my family.

Now my girls are teens and, believe it or not, just plain awesome. They’re smart and witty and sarcastic, just like dear old dad. This Christmas Eve, the 4 of us will hunker together. I’m taking them in the car to tour the Christmas lights. Then we’ll come home, make dinner and watch Christmas specials until it’s time to head off to bed. Christmas day will be spent with family, me the pack mule carting presents and food from one house to the next. There will be much merriment, and I’m sure some heated words about whatever topic sets off our booze addled brains. If you can’t yell at family about things that concern no one, what’s the point?

We once played bocce in the snow after dinner, in the dark. That was a blast. It’s going to rain this year, so it’ll be the guys chomping on stogies under and umbrella, the kids running around in the mud. The key is, we’ll all be together.

Because that’s what Christmas is really about. Family. And love.

Here’s wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas, Actually…

It’s that time of the year again when I’m compelled to post the opening scene from the movie, Love, Actually – one of the very few Christmas movies for adults. My wife and I watch it every year beside our brilliantly lit Christmas tree. The opening sequence wraps up not only the spirit of the holiday, but the heart of the human condition, no matter what time of year, quite perfectly. As a writer, I’ve always been envious of these few simple yet achingly elegant lines of prose.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you all health, love and happiness.

 

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

Ho Ho No! Have A Twisted Christmas

By nature, I’m not a big Christmas guy, but I’ve learned to embrace the season by watching it through the eyes of my family. So, while I’m surrounded by Christmas lights, dazzling garland, Christmas specials on TV and 24 hour Christmas music on not 1, but 2 stations in New York (pray for the DJs), I have to find my subversion in books.

I first read Santa Steps Out about 10 years ago and just found it in my mother’s attic while cleaning this weekend. If, as a horror fan, you read one holiday book this season (and I hope to God it’s not a Debbie Macomber or Mary Higgins Clark sapfest), this is it. To say Santa Steps Out is sick, twisted and demented is an understatement. It’s also hysterical. Read it and you’ll never look at Santa, or that sexy Tooth Fairy, the same way again.

Santa Steps Out

And because the holiday season is upon us like a pandemic, I’d like to give away ebooks of Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entity and Swamp Monster Massacre. I’ll give one of each to 3 lucky winners. All you have to do is drop a comment here, tweet this out or comment on my FB fan page.

Ho ho oh where is my spiked egg nog?

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