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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Books, Body Parts & Teddy Bears Oh My!


Hello Creepies, Crawlies, Ghosties, Goblins, Slashers, Monsters, Zombies, and all things that go bump in the night, I’ve been away from Staying Scared for some small expenditure of time and I do apologize. However, I haven’t avoided horror and have used the time wisely. I’ve read a couple of books and a few magazines, rewritten six chapters of my new book, submitted a short tale, obtained a couple collectibles, canned some body parts and watched a few flicks. Oh yeah, there was that work thing too. Regardless, I intend to tell you all about it since this might take a while, sit up and get comfy in that casket, poke your head out of the grave, stop gnawing on the body, keep the razor knife at bay and creep a little closer to lend an ear. I promise you’ll keep it and besides, you have two of those.

Drive In Night begins at dusk and can include up to 3 flicks. Of course, one is always horror.
First off, before we officially get started, let me tell you that Adult ADD does have benefits. Besides compelling me to do a bunch of everything all at once, the condition also has me reading three books at a time. Why? Because I can. When I sit down to read, although I may be deep into a book, I may not feel like going back to it just yet and choose to delve into one of the others, usually already started. Sure, I could finish books one at a time, but my mind craves variety and so I typically find myself holding some sort of monster tale in one hand, the latest horror best seller in the other, my favorite author clutched in between big toes, all while glancing at the most recent horror mag that is lying in front of me. Thankfully & fortunately, I am quite proficient at soaking it all in. Yes, I know…there are pills for this, but why fix something that isn’t broken. I kind of like it this way and over the years have seemingly perfected and am able to keep everything in my head organized. Every evening provides a few new chapters, an article on Godzilla or Freddy or who knows what else, and just before falling asleep somewhere near the witching hour, I have already explored what I will write after the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. (Coincidentally, this has remained consistent and is my first full-length novel – A Lawnly Existence). At 8:00 a.m., the workday begins and could end anywhere between 5 & 10 p.m. depending upon workload. However, days off see a slight change in schedule, especially if Drive-In Night was part of the prior evening’s curriculum, and it is then that I find myself sleeping in a bit, all the way until 6 a.m. Did you know that by using both hands at the same time, one is also using both sides of the brain and therefore, the action tends to regulate any chemical inequity? Typing falls into this category. Some would call it a curse!
Since carnivals are my thing, especially creepy ones, two books easily drew me in; Stephen King’s Joyland and the Bloody Carnival anthology.

Personally, King could probably describe watching paint dry enjoyable, even if he does get long winded sometimes. Nonetheless, Joyland is a tale certain to suck in not only fans of the writer, but both horror, mystery and spirit world lovers too. The story surrounds a main character, Devin Jones, a college student who accepts a summer position at an amusement park called Joyland. This park, while small in comparison to the more well known amusement parks, has been around for decades and between the rides, games and such, still offers much fun. Primarily a first person coming of age story told through the eyes of Devin, an interesting cast of “carny” characters is only one aspect that will keep the reader turning pages. The other is that, unlike King’s typical indigenous horror tales, this one is a mystery that surrounds a girl who was murdered in the park’s spooky ride known as the Horror House many years ago. At 281 pages, Joyland seemed more like a novella than a novel and was a quick read. Add in the thought provocation and clue following factor, and the read is even faster.

Bloody Carnival, a 2010 Pill Hill Press offering edited by Jessy Marie Roberts is 34 tales of horrific fun surrounding everything from carnivals, county fairs and amusement parks to circuses and rodeos. There are freaks and sideshow attractions, rides so old that one may be fearful and reconsider getting on, a ringmistress with a demonic side, ghosts and goulies, spook houses and my personal favorite…demented clowns. Although the writers, with an exception of a choice few, are primarily unknown, at the conclusion of their tale a bio is offered, which yours truly began looking forward to reading even before getting halfway through the 286 pages. Most of the writing is spot on and there are only a few stories that appear slightly amateurish. This is more likely due to inexperience and with such, is certain to improve. There are also a few tales that are rather predictable, but were still fun to read nonetheless. So, want fear that surrounds carnivals, fairs and festive celebrations? Anticipating riding the latest and greatest rickety ride? Want to know what’s behind the airbrushed painted freak curtain? Bloody Carnival is for you.

And then there was and is the Writers Workshop of Horror, a 2009 Bram Stoker award winner for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction. This book, edited by Michael Knost, is a veritable who’s who of the horror world and might very well be the one single book all horror writer wannabes should read. With essays exploring everything from setting and description to dialogue and tone, these successful top of the heap writers will guide you through writing that tale from beginning to end. Plenty of insights here, discussing specific aspects of the basic horror tale and the 245 pages will probably be read more than once.
What I'm reading now.
Of course,  both Amazon and the newsstand also contributes
I've been exploring my extensive electronic collection of horror comics too. They definitely bring back memories.


What have I written?
Yet again I am going through and rewriting A Lawnly Existence. This is a horror tale with a smidgen of love tossed in and surrounds an old man who is desperately trying to fulfill his recently deceased wife’s dream. It is neither a zombie nor ghost tale and the twists are rampant. Written with short chapters, I’m consciously attempting the cliff hanging chapter aspect. Although 90% of the book is written, edits are necessary since I want to submit the best possible. Where to submit to is still under consideration and there is no time frame just yet, but as soon as I know, you will too.

And my tale 2084 Is a Good Year to Die is at Suspense Magazine. In a civilization closely monitored by government, possessing something as simple as a school history book can have mortal repercussions. It is my ode to George Orwell and his Nostradamic vision.

And, just a little heads up, Mary G. Fortier (aka Nighty Nightmare) and yours truly will be on a radio show October 27th. But more on that later.
Undead Teds
For quite some time now, I have been trying to get my hands on an Undead Ted. These grotesque, yet wonderfully macabre teddy bears are not the cuddly “for children” type. They are neither cheap nor easy to obtain, but, are certainly well worth both time and money. Artist Phillip Blackman only makes 20 or so per batch before placing them for sale. Each are meticulously handmade one of a kinds, anatomically correctly detailed, come with certificate of authenticity and are specifically tagged. I learned very quickly that one must be extremely fast and pre-organized in order to be one of the lucky few owners.
Each tag is specifically numbered
Prior, when first learning of these, I made a beeline to the website, only to find that they were always sold out. Then I signed up for the newsletter and started following Mr. Blackman on Facebook. It was the social media mecca which indicated when the next sale would be and for fourteen hours I eagerly watched the website countdown. I was ready, or so I thought. The clock struck zero and after a quick peruse of the selections, chose one. Much to my dismay, even before checking out, my selection had already been snatched up and was gone. This surprised me and I lost a few seconds lingering in awe, but regained composure and with the speed of gnashing zombie teeth, went back and selected another. This time the order went through and I had purchased. Ecstatic, I went back to the display page. There were seventeen sold signs, including mine, leaving only three left. Mind you, this was a mere 15 minutes or so after the sale had begun and, while it was not my initial intentions, I selected another, not really expecting to get it. Needless to say, I was fortunate and obtained a second and am now in the process of seeking the perfect acrylic case for which will display them both.
Interested in owning your very own Undead Ted? Be aware, they are highly sought after and time is crucial. There will be no room for error and they will sell out within minutes. This said, creep over to http://www.undeadteds.com and good luck. One final warning, as I have intentions of adding to my collection, expect one of your competitors to be me. Mwhahahahahahaha!
Similar to the ones seen
There was a time when, while making my way through a seasonal haunted house, I came to a kitchen display, which was nothing short of a cannibal’s dream. There were boiling pots on the stove with red foam spilling over the tops and each had a various limb sticking out. This in itself was wonderfully horrendous, but not quite as gruesome as the row of various shaped jars on the shelf above, each filled delectably. To me, this was a fantastically macabre and superb display. Well, the idea stuck and I’ve since started canning myself.
Various distinct jars, a spool of gauze, a few dabs of fake blood and a liberal supply of body parts found at the local Halloween store is all it takes.




Call me demented. Call me appalling. Call me sick. Just don’t call me late for dinner, especially when finger nibbles, eyeball soup and thigh fricassee is on the menu. Heh Heh


Went and saw The Purge 2: Anarchy and must say that it is considerably better than the first attempt. Guess they listened to the fans' backlash. Now, if they can just add some gruesome gore and demented shocks, they'll be right on.

I also revisited some older flicks. Tales from the Crypt Demon Night, Basket Case and The ABC's of Death. This latter flick has become somewhat of a macabre favorite of mine and offers 26 independent directorial visions. While not all of the short films are stellar, the complete alphabet is depicted and oddly enough, I'm looking forward to part 2, which is currently in the making.



Next theater visit will be October 24th for Ouija. Who knows, maybe I'll show you my Ouija Board beforehand. Heeheeheeheeheeheeheeheeheeheehee!

Sunday October 12th, 2014 is The Walking Dead season 5 premiere. Mark your calendars zombie fans.



Now, if I could just get another episode of Staying Scared made...no worries ghouls, I will.




And so Kiddies...until next time, keep in the shadows, aim the butcher knife well, allow the blood on the blade to dry, appreciate the quiver fluttering up and down your spine, and most of all...Stay Scared.

Thomas