Pop quiz. What do all these fine gentlemen (and gentlebeasts) have in commom? Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, Dracula, The Mummy, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Phantom of the Opera. Answer : They were all brought to us by Universal Studios, who over a period of 25 years created some of the most enduring icons in horror history.
In our first episode of 2013, Jack and I, your humble Monster Men, finally dedicate a podcast to the monsters that made us who we are today. Who is your favorite Universal monster?
The ball has dropped. The confetti is now in a landfill. Your diet plans have already been thrown to the wind, ready to return for a couple of days next January. The Twilight Zone marathon has passed the signpost up ahead that reads : Hey, time to get back to work!
I’m not big on resolutions because I know that 99% of them are yesterday’s dreams by the end of January. The only ones I’ve been able to keep are the resolutions that pertain to writing. For me, writing has always been my escape, my sanctuary, and now it’s also an income-providing business. All the more reason to get my ass in gear and hunker down. I admit, I took a total break from writing most of December. I needed it. My brain, like a chicken wing, was fried. At times during the holidays, I could actually hear my cells vibrate as they recharged. It was a wise decision to step back for a bit. But rest time is now bye-bye.
I figured I’d start with a list of resolutions that would benefit others as much as myself. Writing is a lonely business and sometimes we need some outside influences to kick us in the pants. Consider this my loving tap on your authorly keister.
Here are my 2013 Writing Resolutions:
1. Read More. I know I’ve stressed this in other articles and interviews. You can’t write if you don’t read. Plain and simple. I must read 75 or more books a year. I know I can do more. The number one rule is to turn that damn TV off as much as possible. Naturally, I read a ton of horror novels. But i’s also good to branch out to other genres, as well as the classics and self-help books. It all leads to personal growth. In fact, this year, I vow to read at least one romance novel. It’s the last genre out there that I haven’t touched as a reader. Any suggestions?
2. Write. Write. Write. Even though I didn’t write over the holidays, I did think about what my projects will be for 2013 and hit the library to do research. What are my exact goals? I will write at least one novel from start to finish (revisions included). I want to write one novella, if not two. I need to get back in the short story swing, so I’ve set a goal of writing at least a half dozen shorts. I also want to write and publish a collection of true ghost stories in time for Halloween. There, that should keep me off the streets.
3. Query new markets. Yes, I have an agent that does a lot of this for me, but I can’t have her do all the work. This is my career, after all. I need to be more aggressive this year and see if I can open some new doors and different writing opportunities.
4. Pitch a story to a TV/film production company. I have a few ideas/stories that I can lead with. Now I need to figure out how to go about this. I’ll research on the internet and reach out to other authors that have had success pitching their stuff. Getting a development deal is one of my bucket list things, so I better get on the ball.
5. Attend more cons and writers conventions. I already signed up for a couple of writer’s organizations while I lounged around watching Arrested Development in my sweats. I intend to go to a few national and local cons to mix and mingle and learn a thing or three. I’ll also show my face at more horror cons, like World Horror Con, Horrorfind, KillerCon and Chiller Theatre. That’s always a fun time!
6. Keep my writing area organized. This seems like a little thing, but it’s far from it. I spent 4 hours cleaning out all the crap that had accumulated in my little writing space during the year. This year, it’s getting a monthly sprucing up so things don’t get lost in the shuffle.
7. Find new ways to market my work. As a writer today, you can’t fall alseep at the switch when it comes to marketing. There are always new services popping up that can help you get the word out about your work. Some work, some don’t, but you have to try. As an example, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon last year, but learned after a few months that it wasn’t doing much for me. Hey, at least I tried.
8. Expand the scope of the Monster Men podcast. You’re going to see a lot of new stuff with our video podcast in 2013. We’re going to interview authors, directors, publishers, paranormal groups, you name it. Jack and I can’t wait to get started. If you’re any of the above and would like to be on the show, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a schedule.
9. Listen to more podcasts. I’m an audio podcast junkie. I spend a lot of time in my car with my radio, but I’m not digging what’s on the air. Since my car is old, I’m going out to get an adapter so I can play the podcasts on my Nano through my car stereo. Podcasts are great ways to inform, educate, entertain, inspire and gain more depth into whatever topic that interests you. I highly suggest Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast. Great stuff.
10. Rest. I’ve learned that you can’t run around juggling 100 things at once, 24/7, and expect to remain sane. So even though I’ve set a heavy workload for myself, I will make it a point to find moments to rest my mind, body and spirit. Sometimes you need to step out and let your subconscious do some of the heavy lifting. Believe me, it will all be there when you need it.
So, what are your resolutions for 2013? You don’t have to be a writer to set a goal roadmap. If you put it in writing now, it actually helps you work harder to achieve it.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I started to think about this past year and the roller coaster ride I call a life. I’ve had great highs and scary lows that have left me numb, sometimes empty, sometimes full, but neither for long.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good that comes our way. But I’ve come to realize that what we have to be most grateful for are the hard times. When we face adversity, we learn a lot about our true nature and the importance of the people that surround us.
Case in point. For the past couple of weeks, my father had his first health scare, his first surgery, and his first brush with the big C. We found out today that the surgery was a success and he’ll be fine. But that 10 day waiting period to get the great news gave us all pause and made us realize how little time we have together. We’ll make the most of it on Thanksgiving. I can assure you that.
Another case. For the past year-plus, my wife has been battling an unknown infection and lupus. We’re at the point where the doctors think radiation is the only cure. Talk about a cure worse than the disease. It’s like watching the person you love most being tortured every second of every day as radiation sears its way through the cells of her entire body. It shows me, daily, how much she means to me, and how little everything else matters if you and the ones you love don’t have the gift of good health.
Looking back at what I’ve written, I saw that this is an overriding fear in almost all my work. In Forest of Shadows, John Backman’s wife dies in her sleep, forever altering his life and his mind. In Evil Eternal, a strong man named Liam watches his wife’s murder and offers his soul to avenge her death, becoming the undead Father Michael. His torment is sealed to go on for infinity. Even in Swamp Monster Massacre, my crazy skunk ape romp, when John’s wife is killed, so is his soul, and soon after, his body. All of these things crept into my work, my conscious mind completely unaware. I’m forcing myself to look into the abyss so I can be grateful that though at times I’m at the precipice, I haven’t fallen through. My wife battles on, and so do I.
In hard times, we turn to others, or God, for strength and support. It’s at these moments where we’re truly thankful for all of the good people and happy moments in our lives.
So this year, when you look back at those moments of hell in your life, don’t ask ‘why me?’ Use them as touchstones and appreciate what they reminded you of, or how they brought you closer to someone, or even changed your life for the better.
Most of all, give thanks.
In this day and age of online communications, waiting excitedly for the mailman doesn’t happen very often. Well, this is one of those days. My Fedex dude just dropped off a box of my new bookmarks. I splurged for the super high gloss and heavier card stock so they would stand out and last more than a week. I gotta say, they’re pretty sweet. A lot of that is thanks to my friend and designer, Jerry Mulcahy. He did an awesome job and also designed our Monster Men logos.
If you live in the US and you’d like some signed bookmarks and a Swamp Monster Massacre promo card (gearing up for a 3 month blog tour with that bad boy), just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address and I’ll get them right out to you. This is my way of saying thanks for all of your support and encouragement. And no, you will not be added to any mailing lists. Come get some!
I’m back from the Horrorhound weekend in Indy and the air is already getting crisper, the night coming sooner. October is coming. That means Halloween is near. It also means I’m ready to begin my month-long immersion in all things horror.
To get the season going, I have a couple of things. First is The Monster Men’s new podcast on The Bermuda Triangle. Terror on the high seas!
Second, since a picture can say a thousand words, here are 14,000 words on Horrorhound and Halloween. Thank you to everyone who came to the Samhain table and especially those who picked up some signed copies. You all made our day.
I think the best way to talk about this past Horrorfind Weekend is to roll with the random thoughts and pictures. So, here’s what’s dripping out of the old brain pan, 24 hours after we departed our little horror shangri-la.
Attendance wasn’t as, shall we say, robust as it has been in the past. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot going on. This was my first time at Horrorfind as a guest. I was at the Samhain horror table with 7 other talented authors. All of them were as nice as can be (not evil, devil worshipping sex maniacs like people think horror writers are) and it made me realize I’m in some stellar company. Big time twisted love to Brian Moreland, Ron Malfi, Mick Ridgewell, John Everson, Damien Walters Grintalis, David Bernstein and Russell James. You don’t need to be a psychic to know the future of horror is right here at Samhain.
And I can’t forget the Samhain staff, including Don (our amazing editor), Dawn and Jacob, he of the mighty kilt (though he is wearing jeans in this pic)!
As the fates would have it, my hotel room was right next to actress Meg Foster’s (the actress with the amazing crystal blue eyes of They Live fame, not to mention about 100 other movies and TV shows). We got to talking about ghosts and meditation, hugged, and even exchanged a copy of Forest of Shadows for a signed picture. She’s a fascinating, caring woman. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and tell the teenage me that I would one day meet her and hand her my book that she said would be her plane read. Teen Hunter would have said, “Yeah right, hammer. Keep dreaming.”
I was in the bar with author Norman Prentiss and saw an old dude walk by. I said, “That guy looks like Rob Halford.” Norman corrected me. “That’s Pinhead!”
I watched Dee Wallace hold court one night, sitting with a few other celebs while a ring of onlookers gaped at them. Dee and the gang were just having some drinks, but it was like they were on a little stage. Not wanting to be part of the rubberneckers, I trained my attention on the scraggly guy singing karaoke tunes from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Disturbing.
Actress Kim Darby (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, True Grit) was also near my room and I happily led her down to show her where the celebrity room was. She’s a kind and seemingly fragile woman. For some reason, I kept checking on her to make sure she was having a good time.
We met the cast of Pet Sematary, with the exception of Fred Gwynne, of course.
My favorite attendee was this little guy who walked around in dress pants and dress shirt, wearing a lucha libre mask and sometimes carrying a brain on a stick. Over 3 days, he never once took that mask off.
I also met a pretty cool guy who hand crafted an entire Ghost Busters costume. It was impressive to say the least.
I rode the elevtor with Count Gore De Vol and we talked about what we had for dinner the previous night. The Count had yogurt for those keeping track. Wonder if it was blood flavored?
During my slot in the author reading room, I showed a Monster Men best -of episode and talked about ghosts. That was fun and I kept people awake, which is always a good sign.
For lunch one day, I had a hot dog that looked like a cooked baby arm. Not by intention. As someone said to me, a hot dog that big had to be filled with lots of snouts and assholes.
My wife bought me a skull for my writing area. Here I am showing my appreciation.
On the last night, all of the Samhainers went out to dinner in Gettysburg. It’s amazing to see how all of the history has been put aside so they can stress the paranormal. The sidewalks were even painted with little ghosts. Ghosts sell. We did see a bunch of Civil War re-enactors having dinner outside an old tent. Keeping to tradition, they munched on McDonald’s.