The Anniversary of Lovecraft Leaving

Today is the anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s death, back in 1937.

For those in the business, it’s near impossible to conceive of modern horror without Lovecraft’s influence.  Granted… giant tentacle monsters, arcane spell books, and murderous cults are all fun, but I’m talking about his style.  He gave us a sense of lurking dread and impending doom that was frequently hinted at as monstrosities so far beyond human understanding that insanity was a blessed ending.  And lunacy usually was the fate of many of Lovecraft’s characters, if he didn’t just outright kill everybody.

His was a complex blend of theological horror and dark science fiction.  Entities roamed the stars that were so grand in comparison to us, we feeble humans would do little more than worship these creatures.  He explored the burgeoning field of quantum physics as a type of magic, and although he never left the American East Coast, his characters traveled far.

Lovecraft died young, near penniless, believing himself a failure.  Today, there are numerous volumes published every year by contemporary authors honoring the work he began.  There are toys, clothing, games, and other types of merchandise all based off his creations.  There is a literary award fashioned after his likeness.  His name itself has become an adjective to describe not only a kind of story-telling, but an overall type of horror.

Thanks again, Howard…



4 Authors, 4 Tales, 4POCALYPSE

What happens when the world as we know it comes to an end? Will it be with a bang or a whimper? What comes next? Who survives and why? Here are four disparate stories of post-apocalyptic adventure, terror, revenge and love. In The Last Pharmacist, underground cities are dealing with the deadly epidemic of a synthetic heroin supplied by an unknown source. In Smile, the world is overrun by a terrible, terrifying invasion from an unstoppable interloper. In White Sands, a girl searches for the one responsible for the worldwide pandemic that killed her father. In Futureblind, one woman finds that she has survived a horrible fate only to face a unique destiny. Welcome to the 4POCALYPSE – Four Tales Of A Dark Future.

Presented by Dark Red Press, featuring John J. Smith, Jack X. McCallum, C.L. Stegall, and Brian Fatah Steele.  A Kindle exclusive for only $0.99, paperback version available soon.


Serenity J. Banks teaches us how to be Better Authors

Serenity J. Banks, co-founder of Dark Continents Publishing and the driving force behind Redheaded Stepchild Books, has decided it’s time to share some of her wisdom and experience.  Her new, ongoing blog So You Wrote It… Now What? is dedicated to elevating the indie press industry and answering the gazillion questions that many new authors have.  She tackles everything under the sun, from standing behind your book’s idea to using social media responsibly. 

Her latest post, “How Authors Can Becomes Social Media Stars,” features such names as Brian Keene, Douglas Clegg, Deirdre Reid, Michael Hyatt, Peter Shankman… and (shockingly) me.  It’s a wonderfully detailed blog that discusses an assortment of social media markerting concepts along with our behaviors on these sites.  I truly believe posts (and entire blogs) like these are essential to the up-and-coming author.

“Ideas aren’t created in a vacuum.”  And if the ideas of young authors are going to be shaped and sharpened by anyone, I can think of few people better suited to lead that progression than Ms. Banks.  Check in at her blog, regardless of your writing skill or popularity – you just might learn something.



Would-Be Authors, you need to READ!

Today I was engaged in a discussion over on Facebook about self-pubbed authors.  I got the feeling most of the authors involved in the debate were either traditionally published or with small presses.  While I’m with a small press now, I used to self-pub so I kind of felt sorry for the object of their scorn.  None-the-less, I understood completely the issue at hand.  It all came down to the utter lack of editing that a majority of self-pubbed authors have with their work.

Cthulhu knows I didn’t have a whole lot back in the day.

Now, I do think self-pubbed authors would greatly benefit from having a professional editor.  Wait… let me clarify something – let’s make a crowbar division between “Editing” and “Proofing.”  We’ll say Editing is when someone looks over your manuscript for issues with character development, plot flow, theme, and all that other literary stuff.  Proofing is when someone looks over your maniscript for SPaG issues, or problems with Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.  All self-pubbed authors should have someone else (preferably semi-trained) dispassionately Proof their manuscript.  The Editing I’ll leave to your discretion.

However, I think it’s more than that.  Too often I find that both Would-Be Authors, early Self-Pubbed Authors and (sadly) a lot of D-List Authors (like myself) only read the works that are similar to the genre they write in.  Just because you’ve read every gigantic tome written by Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind, you are not necessarily in a position yourself to write the next great fantasy epic.  Consuming every YA Vampire novel you can get your hands on does not make you an author of one.  Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read the stuff you like, nor am I saying that you need an advanced degree in English to pen a book, but c’mon… diversify.

I read just about everything except Harlequin Romance.  Well, and Sports Biographies.  (Lame.)  An author should always be up for absorbing new things, gathering more information.  Read Westerns, SciFi, Horror, Romance, Fantasy, whatever.  Read non-fiction books on History, Cooking, Physics, Crime, Technology, Philosophy, whatever.  Read the local newspaper, read the label on your frozen pizza, read your junk mail, whatever.

After running a used bookstore for a year, I found that most readers have one or two genres they like, with only about a half-dozen authors they regularly read.  While that might be fine for the general public, you’re an Author… you don’t get that luxury. You just need to read.

And who knows – maybe there won’t be as much Proofing that needs done later…


The Perfect Horror Monster in 10

I get the honors of writing the Guest Blog over at THE FECKLESS GOBLIN today.  A spot of Horror, Dark Fiction & Writing Tips from Ziggy Kinsella, I composed a objective look at the Ten Characteristics that the Perfect Horror Monster must have.  With a deconstructed theme, working more on archetypes and theories, I tried to throw in a bit of laughs along with the all the screaming.

Check it out over at THE FECKLESS GOBLIN.



Dreaming like Randolph Carter

I had this dream for the second time last night.  It was a bit more vague than the first, but the general imagery and sensations were there.  I believe it’s quite telling…


It is a charnel swamp, a bog built out of death.  The blood and bile run in thick currents knee deep, the “vegetation” nothing more than meat.  Bushes of gristle, vines of intestines, trees of bone – these things and more obstructed my passage through this slaughterland.  It was an absurdist blend of overgrown greenhouse and over-enthusiastic butcher shop.  Nothing appeared too far decayed yet, as if the entire environment had been mutilated into existence only hours ago and then held in stasis.

Above me, the sky was burning.  There was no moon or sun present, only rolling fields of liquid fire as far as my eyes could see.  The stratosphere aflame, it provided a dull orange glow to the ground below, everything shimmering and wet.  Here and there, thin clouds of soot raced past, low and insubstantial.

I continued to wade through the gore, this red reality.  I can recall feeling somewhat placid, neither disturbed nor comforted by these sights.  I don’t remember what I wore or for how long I traveled, and perhaps these things were irrelevant.  However, I eventually saw something akin to an island of viscera in the distance.

Drawing closer, I saw this mound was built with the corpses of babies, their flesh sewn and nailed together.  I don’t believe they were human infants, though… their dead eyes still squirmed with a living darkness.  This animated tar-like substance undulated and swayed in a subtle pattern deep in those tiny sockets.

There, sitting on the apex, was some type of throne.  I still can’t properly describe the material or style, nor can I attempt to describe the entity that sat upon it.  Occasionally, I found it humanoid, most often I did not.  I think it may have been composed of that same living darkness, that “deeper black” that I speak of in my fiction, but sharper and more defined.  I have the precise recollection that this abomination was the current king of this realm.

I remember… this monstrosity and I, we gazed at each other for a moment before speaking.  When we spoke, we spoke as equals.  I somehow understood that it acknowledged me as a peer.  I can recall that placid sensation remained, a casual feeling, perhaps closer to boredom or even slight irritation.  I can’t determine what we talked about, but I know the thing gestured off into the distance, and I had a bizarre but distinct feeling wash over me.  It was reminiscent of those time when you can’t find your car keys after having just sat them down, or when a needed word is right on the tip of your tongue.

And that was it.


I believe the first time I had the dream, I may have actually started walking off in the direction indicated by my abhorrent host.  I’m not sure.  I know I awoke before leaving its presence the second time.

I can easily explain away certain elements of the dream.  I had already written a scene with a similar brutal landscape for the novella I’m working on, and I’ve already incorporated portions of this dream into a new part of the fiction.  This “Deeper Black” is a concept I’ve played with in almost all of my horror and paranormal fantasy work.  The entity is undoubtedly from reading far too much Lovecraft.

No, the visuals are meaningless to me, simply window-dressings.  The sensations are what fascinate me, this nonchalant acceptance combined with faint annoyance.  While this is my general state in everyday life, I’m terribly interested on the how’s and why’s this would translate so clearly into such a atrocious dreamscape.  And, of course, I would very much like to discover where I was supposedly journeying off next to.

Once, I used to dream on par with Lovecraft’s great reoccurring character, Randolph Carter.  Various medications stole much of that from me, most of my dreams now either utterly mundane (going to the store to get lunchmeat) or a jumbled sensory-salad of images, sounds and concepts that would make Salvador Dali weep.  The majority of people would find such a dream like I’ve described above horrific, a nightmare to be banished.  I find it hopeful, something to return to.

And if I’m lucky, perhaps, I’ll be able to get my bearings back in the slaughterlands and travel even farther…