The Next Big Thing

Last week Weston Ochse tagged me in the latest installment of The Next Big Thing, a chance for authors to promote their next big release.  Weston sent me these questions and I, in turn, will send them along to the next author of The Next Big Thing, who I will announce very soon.

Enjoy! 

1)    What is the working title of your next book?

 

CANNIBAL CRUISE

 

2)    Where did the idea come from for the book?

 

I was out to dinner with my editor at Kensington and we started talking about the cruise I’d just taken.  I told him how gluttonous people could be on cruises, and the next thing you know we were talking about my next novel…a zombie story set on a cruise ship.

 

3)    What genre does your book fall under?

 

Horror, definitely.

 

4)    What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

 

The two main leads are women, one a badass U.S. Secret Service agent and the other a female version of James Bond working for one of the Mexican cartels.  For the agent I’m imagining Dianna Agron or Amy Smart.  For the cartel assassin Naya Rivera.

 

5)    What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 

A Mexican drug cartel releases a flesh eating virus into a cruise ship’s food supply, turning the passengers into zombies.

 

6)    Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

 

It was written on spec for Kensington.  My agent, Jim Donovan, is my representation.

 

7)    How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

 

About seven months.

 

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

 

            My own Dead World series books or possibly Deck Z.

8)    Who or what inspired you to write this book?

 

A recent cruise I took with my family.

 

9)    What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

 

This is my first book to feature a sex scene!

Why I Write the Dark Stuff

In my day job I’m a patrol supervisor for the San Antonio Police Department, working the west side of town.  The police officers who make the calls, who make the arrests, who keep the peace in the busiest part of the city, they work for me.  I’m the one they call when they have crime scenes that need managing, or when something just doesn’t look right.

What that means is that I get to see a lot of dead bodies.  And I mean a lot of them.

Like last week.  One of my officers called because he had a decomp (police parlance for a body that’s been rotting in place for a good long while) and he wasn’t sure if it was suicide or homicide.  So I showed up to the apartment and there was the dead guy, seated on the floor (or almost on the floor; his butt was about two inches off the carpet).  He had a noose around his neck, though you could barely see it because his skin was so bloated and gummy with rot that it had sort of oozed over the rope.

“So, what do you think?” the officer asked.

“Suicide,” I told him.

“But he’s sitting down.  Wouldn’t he have rolled over or something when he started to choke?  That’s like an instinct or something, isn’t it?”

“No,” I said.  “What you’re looking at is an act of will power.  If you want to do something bad enough, you’ll see it through.”

He looked from me to the body and shook his head.

“Besides,” I added, “look at all that medication in there in his bathroom.  Those drugs are for hepatitis and cancer.  He did this because he was hurting pretty bad.  And look up there.”  I pointed to the ceiling where our dead guy had nailed the rope to the rafter.  “He did that because he didn’t want the rope to slip off.  And look at where he chose to do this, here in the bedroom, so his relatives coming in the front door wouldn’t have to see him.  I bet if you look around here you’ll find a note.  Probably in the other room, out of sight of the bedroom.”

The officer nodded.

We both stood there, staring at the body.  The apartment didn’t have air conditioning, and it felt like standing inside an oven, even though it was the middle of the night.  The smell was really bad.

The officer kind of chuckled and said, “So Sarge, I guess this is one for your next book, huh?”

I offered him a bland smile.  Cops develop their gallows humor long before they learn that it’s actually a defense mechanism against the horror of confronting your own mortality, and this officer was one of the young ones.  He still had a lot to learn.

“Go look for the note,” I said.

“Yes, sir.”

When he was gone I found myself looking into that suicide’s face and sighing.  The suicides always get to me. Something about standing in the presence of someone so desperate to take control of their pain and their emotional devastation that they would resort to this makes me feel numb.

In the other room, the young officer was clumsily knocking around.  Something fell over and broke.  I almost called out to him to be careful, but held my tongue.  You see, my mind had drifted from my day job to my night job.  I was thinking about what he’d said about my next book.  So many people seem to have that opinion about horror, and about zombie fiction in particular.  To them, a book about shambling dead things eating the living must be nothing but gratuitous violence and gore.  What else could it be?

Well, I take exception to that.

I started writing because I was scared of the future.  My wife and I had just gotten married.  Then we had a daughter, and the world suddenly seemed so much more complex.  In the wink of an eye, I went from a carefree young cop – a lot like the one in the other room knocking stuff over – to a man with more responsibilities than he could count.  I had obligations and commitments coming at me from every angle.

I’d been writing stories for a good long while at that point, starting sometime in my early teens, but never with the intention of doing anything about them.  I would write them out on a yellow legal pad, staple the finished pages together, and leave them on the corner of my desk until the next idea came to me.

Never once did it occur to me to do something with what I’d written.  I just threw those stories away and forgot them.  But then came adulthood, and parenthood, and I found myself groping to put the world in order, to regain some of the control I felt I had lost.  I realized that writing could help me with that.  I realized that I could focus my anxieties and make something useful of them.

And so I started writing a science fiction novel.  It was a big space opera epic, and it was pure trash.  Every word of it was awful.

The reason?  Well, it wasn’t authentic.  It wasn’t me.

The real me, the kid who sat at his desk filling up yellow legal pads rather than going out bike riding with his friends, was a horror junkie.  I was crazy for the stuff.  Horror was my first literary love, and I figured seeing as love was what drove me to return to writing that I should write what I love. I was feeling like the world was rushing at me from every side, so I wrote a zombie story about characters who had the living dead rushing in at them from every side.  That’s when things started to click.  That’s when it all made sense.

But it wasn’t just that simple.  You see, I sincerely believe that fear is the most authentic, and the most useful, emotion available to the storyteller.  It is as vital as love, and indeed, gives love its profundity, for what makes love, and family, and everything we treasure so valuable but the fear that it could all be taken away in the blink of an eye.  For me, fear goes far beyond monsters.  It is the catalyst for my creative process, and without that creative process, I’m afraid I would wither up inside.  I’m not saying I’d end up like that suicide I just told you about if I couldn’t write anymore, nothing that melodramatic, but absence of that creative outlet would be a hole that nothing else could fill.

So that’s why I write the dark stuff.

John Joseph Adams Announces Nightmare Magazine Kickstarter

I just learned that John Joseph Adams, one of the best editors working in genre fiction today, is starting a new horror magazine called Nightmare.  That in and of itself would be wonderful news, but he’s doing it in conjunction with Creeping Hemlock Press, which is owned and operated by RJ and Julia Sevin, the husband and wife team who published my zombie novella THE CROSSING and who will be publishing my collected zombie stories, DATING IN DEAD WORLD, later this year.  For me, this is the perfect storm of editorial smarts and publishing savvy, and I’m thrilled to support them in their kickstarter campaign to get the magazine off the ground.

There are far too few professional horror magazines out there these days, and this promises to be one of the best ever.  The Nightmare Magazine kickstarter pitch is below.  Please take a look, and if you to see some quality horror fiction in the next few years, I hope you’ll help out too.

About the Kickstarter

Nightmare Magazine is a monthly magazine of horror and dark fantasy short fiction which  will be published both online and in ebook format. This Kickstarter is  intended to help fund the first issue and to get the magazine off the  ground.

Not familiar with Kickstarter? Essentially, you pledge any amount to support a project, and then choose one of the rewards in the right  column. You only get charged if the project reaches its fundraising  goal. Here’s the FAQ page.

About Nightmare

In Nightmare‘s pages, you will find all kinds of  horror fiction, from zombie stories and haunted house tales, to visceral psychological horror. No subject is  off-limits, and we will be encouraging our writers to take chances with  their  fiction and push the envelope.

Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, every month Nightmare will bring you a mix of originals and reprints, and featuring a variety of  authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the  best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Nightmare, it is our hope that you’ll see where horror comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.

Nightmarewill also include nonfiction, fiction  podcasts, and Q&As with our authors that go  behind-the-scenes of their stories. Our planned publication schedule  each month will include two pieces of original fiction and two fiction  reprints,  along with a feature interview and an artist gallery showcasing our  cover artist. We will publish ebook issues on the first of every month,  which will be available for sale in ePub format via our website and also available in other formats such as Kindle and Nook. We will also offer  subscriptions to our ebook edition in a variety of formats. Each issue’s contents will be serialized on our website  throughout the month, with new features publishing on the first four  Wednesdays of every month.

About Issue #1

As described above Nightmare will typically feature two original stories and two reprints in every issue. For our debut issue, however, we will be bringing you four all-new, never before published horror stories. Issue #1 will feature stories by the following authors:

Laird Barron is the author of several books, including the short story collections The Imago Sequence and Occultation, and the novel The Croning. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Inferno, Lovecraft Unbound, Sci Fiction, Supernatural Noir, The Book of Cthluhu, Creatures, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, and Best Horror of the Year. He is a three-time winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, and a  three-time finalist for the Stoker Award. His work has also been  nominated for the Crawford, World Fantasy, International Horror Guild,  and Locus awards.

Sarah Langan is the author of the novels The Keeper and The Missing, and her most recent novel, Audrey’s Door, won the 2009 Stoker for best  novel. Her short fiction has appeared in the magazines Cemetery Dance,  Phantom, and Chiaroscuro, and in the anthologies Brave New Worlds, Darkness on the Edge, and Unspeakable Horror. She is currently working on a post-apocalyptic  young adult series called Kids and two adult novels: Empty Houses, which was inspired by The Twilight Zone, and My Father’s Ghost, which was  inspired by Hamlet. Her work has been translated into ten languages and  optioned by the Weinstein Company for film. It has also garnered three  Bram Stoker Awards, an American Library Association Award, two Dark  Scribe Awards, a New York Times Book Review editor’s pick, and a Publishers Weekly favorite book of the year selection.

Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer.  He’s the author of many novels including Assassin’s Code, Flesh & Bone Dead of Night, Patient Zero and Rot& Ruin; and the editor of V-Wars: A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars.  His nonfiction books on topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop-culture. Since 1978 he has sold more than 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, two plays, greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, and textbooks. Jonathan continues to teach the celebrated Experimental Writing for Teens class, which he created. He founded the Writers Coffeehouse and co-founded The Liars Club; and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries, as well as a keynote speaker and guest of honor at major writers and genre conferences.

Genevieve Valentine is the author of the novel, Mechanique: a Tale of the Circus Tresaulti. Her short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from magazines such as Lightspeed, Fantasy Magazine, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod, and in many anthologies, including Armored, Under the Moons of Mars, Running with the Pack, The Living Dead 2, The Way of the Wizard, Federations, Teeth, and The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, among others. Her writing has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award.

A Commitment to Diversity

We believe that the horror/fantasy community’s diversity is its greatest strength, and we wish that  viewpoint to be reflected in our story content and our submission  queues. Accordingly, we will welcome and encourage submissions from writers both experienced and new, as well as from writers of every race, religion, nationality, gender, and  sexual orientation.

A Note to Writers

If the Kickstarter  is funded, we will open to submissions shortly afterward. Please do not  submit or query before the Kickstarter concludes.

About the Publishers

Nightmare will be a joint venture between John Joseph Adams (who is also editing the magazine) and Creeping Hemlock Press.

About John Joseph Adams: John Joseph Adams—called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by  Barnes & Noble—is the bestselling editor of many anthologies,  such as Armored, Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom, Brave New  Worlds, Wastelands, The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, By Blood We  Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Way of the Wizard. Forthcoming work includes Other Worlds Than These (July 2012), Epic (November 2012), The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination (January 2013), and Robot Uprisings (2013). He is a four-time finalist for the Hugo Award and a  three-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is also the editor  and publisher of Lightspeed Magazine, and is the co-host of Wired’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Learn more at www.johnjosephadams.com.

About Creeping Hemlock Press: Creeping Hemlock Press was founded in Gretna, Louisiana by the  husband-and-wife creative duo R.J. and Julia Sevin (seh-VAN). As  sometime writers, oftentime readers, they found themselves frustrated  with the scarcity of generous-paying, atmospheric and bizarre short  story anthologies. They took matters into their own hands in late 2004  when they began to accept submissions for their own anthology. Many  months, one baby, two hurricanes, and one soggy home later, Corpse Blossoms was born to critical success and a nomination for the Horror Writers  Association’s Bram Stoker award. As their post-Katrina wanderings  carried them to Texas and back, the Sevins published many fine editions  from such authors at Tom Piccirilli, Adam-Troy Castro, Tim Lebbon, and  Lawrence Block. In 2011, they unveiled Print Is Dead, an imprint devoted to zombie fiction and endorsed by none other than George A. Romero.  After nearly a decade in the business, they’re just getting started.  Learn more at www.creepinghemlock.com.

About the Funding

All of the money raised by this project will go into issue #1 and otherwise launching Nightmare Magazine. This includes webhosting, web design, paying authors professional rates for their work (at least 5 cents per word), and promotion. Anything raised above and beyond our stated goal will go toward the production of future issues of Nightmare.

About the Reward Tiers

We’ve priced our reward tiers so that if you contribute to our Kickstarter,  you’re basically placing a pre-order. When we launch, individual issues  will cost $3, and a one-year subscription will cost $25, and so on. Assuming the Kickstarter is funded, we will launch the magazine on October 1, 2012, and rewards will be delivered at that time.

Pledge $3 or more

You receive a ebook copy of the first issue of NIGHTMARE in ePub or  Mobi format, compatible with all major eBook readers (Kindle, iBooks,  Sony, Nook).

Pledge $25 or more

You receive a one-year ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or Mobi format.

Pledge $50 or more

You receive a two-year ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or Mobi format.

Pledge $75 or more

You receive a three-year ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or Mobi format.

Pledge $100 or more

You receive a one-year ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or  Mobi format. You also receive a special, limited edition print version  of  issue #1, which will be printed only once as a reward for  Kickstarter backers. Note: If you reside outside the United States,  please pledge an additional $15 for this reward to cover added shipping  costs.

Pledge $500 or more

You receive a two-year ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or  Mobi format. You also receive a special, limited edition print version  of issue #1, which will be printed only once as a reward for Kickstarter backers, SIGNED by all of the contributors. Note: If you reside outside the United States, please pledge an additional $15 for this reward to  cover added shipping costs.

Pledge $500 or more

You receive a LIFETIME ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or  Mobi format (i.e., the subscription will last as long as either you or  NIGHTMARE does!).

Pledge $500 or more

You receive a two-year ebook subscription to NIGHTMARE in ePub or  Mobi format. You also receive a LIFETIME subscription to Creeping  Hemlock/Print is Dead trade paperbacks (i.e., you will receive a copy of every new book Creeping Hemlock/Print is Dead releases in trade  paperback), and a copy of every in-print title from Creeping Hemlock  Press. (For a list of in-print titles: http://www.creepinghemlock.com/toptier.html.)

Pledge $1,000 or more

You receive a LIFETIME subscription NIGHTMARE in ePub or Mobi format, plus a LIFETIME subscription to Creeping Hemlock/Print is Dead trade  paperbacks (i.e., you will receive a copy of every new book Creeping  Hemlock/Print is Dead releases in trade paperback), and a copy of every  in-print title from Creeping Hemlock Press. (For a list of in-print  titles: http://www.creepinghemlock.com/toptier.html.)

The Event Schedule for the 2012 World Horror Convention is Out!

The 2012 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City is coming up next week.  I’ve got my plane tickets purchased, hotel room reserved, and bags packed.  It’s going to be a great time.  For those of you still undecided about going, here’s the schedule.  I’m going to be sitting on a panel, attending the HWA events on Saturday, and attending a number of book launch parties for anthologies I’ve taken part in recently.  I hope you can make it!

World Horror Schedule

THURSDAY 29 MARCH

3:00 PM
-Social Networking.  How blogs, facebook, twitter and other social media can help you network with others.
(Loren Rhoads (M), Lawrence C. Connolly, Lincoln Crisler, Derek Clendening)
-Religion in Horror.  It’s more than just exorcism.  Religion has always played an important role in horror.
(John W. Morehead, Eric James Stone, Jaleta Clegg (M), Michael R. Collings)

4:00:
-Poetry of the Weird from the Romantics to Lovecraft. A discussion of the history of “weird poetry” and some of the poets who wrote it.
(G. O. Clark, Michael R. Collings, Stephen M. Wilson (M), Linda Addison)
-Horror Film Festivals.  How to get involved and where to find them.
(Thomas M. Sipos, Blake Casselman (M), Stephen Graham Jones, Jonathan Martin, Mario DeAngelis)

5:00
-Breaking into Comics. The Managing Editor of Dark Horse Comics tells you what you need to know to break into the business.
(Scott Allie)
-A Vampire is NOT your boyfriend.  Why it’s not a good idea to fall in love with the undead.
(Tom Carr (M), Christine Morgan, Carter Reid, Jeff Carter)

6:00
Opening Ceremonies  A brief welcome to SLC.
(P.N. Elrod, hostess)

7:00
Poetry Readings
A stellar lineup of some outstanding horror poets reading their works.
-Book Bombs/Blasts.  How to get your book to shoot up the charts at Amazon and other sites.
(Michaelbrent Collings, Paul Genesse)
-Rev Mayhem Concert

8:00
-Poetry readings, cont.
-Classic Horror Movies.  What you really need to watch – and own.
(Thomas M. Sipos, Norman L. Rubenstein, Michael McCarty, Orrin Grey, Mike Marano
-Cutting Block Press/KillerCon party (what better way to start off a convention?)

9:00 PM
-Buffy and cult TV shows.  We still love ‘em.  Why they resonate with fans and forever live on in syndication, books and comics.
(Scott Allie, Leslie S. Klinger, Dana Fredsti(M), Alice Henderson)
-Why We Love Lovecraft.  His works are more popular than ever.  Come here why we love the grandfather of horror.
(Peter Cannon, Bobbie B. Wilcox, Eric Swedin (M), James Chambers, Ross E. Lockhart)
-Cutting Block Press/KillerCon Party, cont.
-Zombiance Concert

10:00 PM
-Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: What you need to know when the zombies attack. (Don’t forget your Twinkies!)
(Tom Carr (M), Dana Fredsti, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Stephen W. Booth)
-Writing a believable ghost story.  How can you make your paranormal seem, well, real?
(Ellen Datlow, Michaelbrent Collings, Christine Morgan, JoSelle Vanderhooft)
-Cutting Block Press/KillerCon Party, cont.

FRIDAY 30 MARCH

10:00 AM
-Laugh ’till you Die: The “Joys” of Humorous Horror
(Jeff Strand, Jaleta Clegg, Scott Allie (M), Tim Marquitz)
-Stephen King.  He’s gone beyond a genre writer to one of the legends of literature.  Why we read and study him over and over.
(Rocky Wood, Scott Edelman, Jason Brock, Blake Casselman (M), Michael R. Collings)
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

11:00 AM
-Understanding the Mind of a Serial Killer.  An expert looks at what makes a killer kill.
(Dr. Al Carlisle, PhD)
-A Short Look at Horror Fiction: why short fiction is still popular
(Gene O’Neill, John Skipp, Ellen Datlow, Stan Swanson (M), Darren O. Godfrey)
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel, cont.
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

Noon
-The Art of Mike Mignola
(John Picacio, Mike Mignola)
-Writing Your First Novel: What you really need to know.
(Steven James Searce (M), John R. Little, John Hornor Jacobs, Simon McCaffery, Thomas Roche)

1:00 PM
-Sherrilyn Kenyon: Dark Hunter.  A Q & A with the Queen of Paranormal Fiction
-How Poetry can influence your fiction writing.
(Michael R. Collings, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Charlene C. Harmon, James Dorr, Roberta Lannes

2;00 PM
– The Tapestry of Horror: Words Horrific, Words Hilarious.” It will use examples from Lovecraft and others to talk about how horror writers use language to create horror–or misuse it to create unintentionally comic effects.
How horror as genre uses language to create a sense of the horrific
(Michael Collings)
-Women in Horror.  Some of the top women in their field talk about beign female in the horror industry.
(Ellen Datlow, P.N. Elrod, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lisa Morton, Kim Richards(M))

3:00 PM
P.N. Elrod Q&A
-The Digital Revolution: ebooks and the future of publishing.
(Guido Henkel, Joe Nassise)

4:00 PM
-The craft of writing comics (2-hour workshop)
(Scott Allie)
-Horror Makeup: Making it look good
(Mindy Trim, Michael McCarty,

5:00 PM
-The craft of writing comics (2-hour workshop, cont.)
(Scott Allie)
-What a horror author needs to know to write YA
(Derek Clendening, Lynne Hansen, Dan Wells (M), Jacob Ruby)

6:00 PM
Break

7:00 PM
Break

8:00 PM
Mass Autograph Signing

9:00 PM
Mass Autograph Signing, cont.

10:00 PM
-Cemetery Tour (hosted by Tom Carr and the Residual Hauntings Revived Team).  Space limited.

10:30 PM
-Gross Out Contest!  It’s back and better than ever!  Come root on your favorite readers and crown your champion!
(Hosted by Rain Graves)
-Dark Moon Digest Party
-Damnation Books Party
-Evil Jesters Press Party

SATURDAY, 31 MARCH

9:45 AM:
Introduction to “Celebrate HWA Day”
(6 panels/presentations to celebrate 26 years of the Horror Writer’s Association.)
(Lisa Morton)

10:00 AM
-Q&A with Robert McCammon
-Writing for Comics.  How it differs from other forms of writing and how to work with the art for better storytelling.
(Scott Allie, Mike Mignola, Howard Tayler (M), Brady Canfield)
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

11:00 AM
-Presentation by Dacre Stoker
-What an Editor Does
(Scott Allie, Don D’Auria, Ellen Datlow, Dave Wolverton (M))
-Pre-Pitch Preparation Panel, cont.
Pitching your project is an art form and a learned skill. The purpose of this panel will be to give “pitchers” an idea of the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Project”. So why not get the rules straight from the editors you plan to pitch this weekend? What better edge could you possibly have than hearing what those editors want from authors and the best way to deliver it? Show up early, take some notes, and prepare for the pitch sessions to follow immediately after!
(R.J. Cavender)

Noon
Q&A with Joe Lansdale
-Vampires Through the Ages. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the myriad of modern bloodsuckers.  The on-going fascination with our favorite form of undead.
(Leslie S. Klinger, James Dorr, Hal Bodner (M), Thomas Roche, Ed Erdelac)

1:00 PM

-The Supernatural in Fiction.  Why it fascinates us and its place in horror and other genres of fiction.
(Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michaelbrent Collings (M), Rick Hautala, Michael L. Calvillo, Andrew Fuller,
-Real vs. Fictional Multiple Personalities.  The realities behind Disassociative Identity Disorder.
(Dr. AL Carlisle)

2:00 PM
HWA: Past, Present and Future
(Lisa Morton, Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale)
-Writing for RPGs and Video Games
(P.N. Elrod, Angel McCoy, Guido Henkel, Travis Heermann,

3:00 PM
Q&A with Rick Hautala
-Music in Horror.  How it influences the “scar” and why we love it.
(Lawrence C. Connolly, Guy Anthony De Marco, John Hornor Jacobs, Rain Graves (M), Rio Youers)

4:00 PM
Horror Publishing
(Don D’Auria, others)
-The Art of John Picacio: A Song of Ice and Fire, Elric and more!
(John Picacio)

5:00 PM
Resonance in Storytelling
(Dave Wolverton)
-Disney’s Haunted Mansion
(Paul F. Anderson)

6:00 PM
Artists’ Reception

7:00 PM
Artists’ Reception

8:00 PM
HWA Bram Stoker Awards Banquet

10:30 PM

SUNDAY 1 APRIL

10:00 AM
-The Good, The Bad And The Ugly in Cover Art.
Industry professionals  Joe R. Lansdale, P.N. Elrod, Scott Allie, John Picacio, and Mike Mignola discuss their favorite recent horror/dark fantasy cover artworks as well as some of their not-so-favorite.
-Screenwriting Techniques.  Or, how to write a screenplay that works.
(Blake Casselman, Michaelbrent Collings (M), David Hayes, Hal Bodner,)
-WHS Board Meeting
World Horror Society meeting.  Want to know more about running WHS?  Want to run a convention?  Come to the meeting!

11:00 AM
-H. P. Lovecraft: The short stories
(Peter Cannon (M), Michael R. Collings, Scott Allie, Travis Heermann, Orrin Grey)
-Residual Hauntings Revived: A Look at Hauted Sies
(Tom Carr, RHR Crew)

Noon
-Scaring ‘em Young: MG horror
(Jacob Ruby, J. Scott Savage, Roh Morgon,
“Zombies, Vigilantes, and Antiheroes: The Ambiguities of Monstrousness in The Walking Dead”
(Kyle Bishop)

1:00 PM
-Collecting Horror.  What is collectable, why to collect and where to find the best stuff.
(Paul Anderson, Nick Montelongo (M), Allen Lewis)
Writing Groups
(Henry and Hollie Snider)

2:00 PM
-Paranormal Romance.
(Aaron Bennett, Kim Richards, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Hal Bodner (M))
-Classic Horror
(P.N. Elrod, Scott Allie, Robert McCammon, Eric Swedin (M), Joe McKinney)

3:00 PM
Da End: Closing Ceremonies and Gothic Belly Dancing

5:00 PM
Dead Dog Party

Publishing News – Quarantined to be Rereleased

Quite a few readers have asked me what’s going on with my second book, Quarantined.  Well, here’s the scoop.

My contract with Lachesis Publishing ran out on April 1st, and I’ve decided not to renew with them.  Lachesis is a good outfit, run by some wonderful people, but they’ve had some real difficulties dealing with distributors here in the U.S.  That’s made availability a problem, to the point that nearly all sales of the book over the last three years have come from Amazon.  Getting the title into the brick and mortar stores has been nearly impossible.

So, after some difficult decision making, I’ve decided to reposition the book with Permuted Press.  They will be doing an inexpensive ebook version that can be read on both the Kindle and the Nook, plus a trade paperback edition that I’m really looking forward to, as it will include a few technical revisions to bring the fight against the San Antonio Flu up to date.

Rollout will occur in two parts, with the ebook version appearing first.  Hopefully, the ebook version will be available within a few weeks.  The trade paperback edition is still waiting on new cover art and should be coming out sometime this summer.

I’ll have full details and exact release dates soon.  In the meantime, I’m told that the few remaining new copies of Quarantined are running for over a $100, with used copies going for over $50.

Questions about Dead City?

Quite a few readers have written to me with questions about my novels Dead City and Apocalypse of the Dead, so I thought it would be helpful to write a reader’s guide to the whole Dead World series. You can find it in the headings listed across the top of this webpage under “A Reader’s Guide to Dead World.”

I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, while at the same time providing some useful information. Of course, I can’t anticipate every question, so if there’s something special you want to know, just ask it in the comments section on that page. I won’t worry about spoilers in my answers back to you.

Enjoy!

Joe McKinney’s DEAD CITY is one of those rare books that starts fast and never EVER lets up. From page one to the stunning climax this book is a rollercoaster ride of action, violence and zombie horror. McKinney understands the genre and relies on its strongest conventions while at the same time adding new twists that make this book a thoroughly enjoyable read. Highly recommended!
–Jonathan Maberry, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Ghost Road Blues and Dead Man’s Song

I enjoyed Dead City. It was a quick, fun read. I also thought McKinney did a fine job of realistically portraying the police officers and keeping their world accessible to “civilians”. Not always an easy balance, but he pulled it off.
–Brian Keene, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rising, City of the Dead, and Dead Sea

Dead City is a real thrill for the reader, jam-packed with fast driving, shooting, desperate stand-offs and lots of blood. McKinney, a San Antonio homicide detective by trade, writes with an authenticity that brings the events of “Dead City” to bloody, grasping life.
–Matt Staggs, Editor of Skullring.org

Tight writing…is what makes Dead City seem frighteningly possible. I like to have chills race up and down my spine, and I like to have to look over my shoulder to make sure I’m safe, and his writing had me feeling this way the entire time I was reading … and even after I’d finished the book!
–Phillip Tomasso III for In the Library Reviews

From the very first page of this urban thriller, Joe McKinney puts the cuffs on his readers and throws away the key. Gritty suspense, great characters, and very real cops. You’re gonna like this guy.
–Tom Monteleone, author of The Blood of the Lamb and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel

Plague Dogs

The cover for Potter's Field 3

Plague Dogs
By Joe McKinney

If they’d come a few minutes earlier the dogs would have surprised him in the bedroom, kneeling next to the bed, muttering his goodbyes to his dead wife. They’d have found a middle-aged man in shabby clothes, dirty gray hair hanging in curtains over his face, his expression ashen with grief. He would have been unarmed. They could have torn him to pieces. But they came too late, and when they broke out of the treeline and into his weed patch backyard Mark Vogler was already on his feet and headed for the kitchen, where he had moved most of his tools.

At first there were only two of them, both mangy and feral, but there were almost certainly more moving around in the dense cedar thicket that lined the yard. The dogs were part of the pack that had been trying to get at him for the last week, chewing holes in the boards he had nailed over his windows and doors, baying in the night, melting into the cedar thicket that surrounded his house like ghosts when he got drunk enough to stagger onto the back deck and take pot shots at them with his pistol.

Now, numb with grief, but not as numb as he thought he’d be, he leaned his forehead against a gap in the boards and watched the dogs charging the house. He wasn’t afraid, and he found that funny. He tried to tell himself that he should be afraid, that this time the dogs would smell death inside the house and keep at it till they got inside, but instead all he could think about was how long it had been since he’d slept last. What was it, two nights? Three?

He coughed. Yeah, he thought, it’s mutated all right. I’ve got a day left, maybe two.

“You need to do it if you’re gonna do it,” he said.

He grabbed an old Ruger pistol he kept on the counter and ran his finger over the trigger. The gun was a .357 with a blued barrel and walnut grips, nothing fancy, but solid and reliable.

Probably the last solid and reliable thing left in this world.

His eyes snapped to a loose corner of the plywood board he’d nailed over the back door. A Doberman, its muzzle streaked with blood, one eye clouded to a pale milky pink from a recent fight, was forcing its head and shoulders inside.

“Aren’t you the smart one?” Vogler said. “I didn’t see you.”

Ropes of saliva and flecks of foam flew from the dog’s bloody mouth. There was a stuttering growl rising in its throat, and its one remaining eye rolled in its socket with a feral intensity that only hunger could create.

He put the business end of the Ruger against the side of the dog’s head and, doing his best Dirty Harry, said, “Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?”

He fired, and then everything the animal had ever known and experienced sprayed out across the rainwater-sodden floor.

“Guess not.”

He stood there looking at the mostly headless corpse of the dog and he thought about what an animal knows, what its memory is like. This one looked four, maybe five years old. That meant it might have started its life as someone’s pet, though that phase of its life would have ended quickly. It might not even remember what life as someone’s pet was like, the regular meals, the occasional belly scratch. Most of its life had been spent feral, roaming the ruins of San Antonio with the packs, feeding on the detritus of a gone world.

The clicking of claws on the terracotta tiles of the back patio pulled his attention away. Both of the dogs he had seen earlier were there now, their sinewy bodies weaving through the rusted remains of his lawn furniture.

Vogler moved fast. He kicked the boards off the back door. They tumbled away easily with the Doberman’s weight to pull them down. The next moment he was through the door, his weapon trained on the lead dog. Vogler fired, turned, then fired again at the second animal. The first collapsed instantly from a solid head shot. The second fell back with a whimper, veined bubbles forming and popping at the hole in the side of its chest.

He kept the weapon trained on the second animal, waiting for it get back up, but it didn’t. It stared at him, panting, and he stared back at it, waiting for that exact moment when the dog’s life left its body.

He was looking at the dog, but he was thinking of Margaret, his dead wife. His grief was real, that much he knew, but he felt like he was too shallow to grieve her the way she deserved to be grieved. She had loved him honestly, despite all his years of self-absorption and putting his career before her, despite his ability to convince himself that providing for her was the same thing as loving her, and that made him wonder if his grief was for her passing, or for himself having to live without her.

He thought, Oh Jesus, am I that shallow? I am, aren’t I?

Vogler looked up at the tree line. The rest of the pack had come out of the trees. They were standing inside what had once been his yard, the fur bristling down their backs. None of them barked. The feral ones didn’t do that.

“Get out of here!” he yelled.

They didn’t move. They didn’t even flinch.

“Get!”

He ran down the steps and into the yard, screaming at them and waving his arms in the air like some mad prophet coming down from the hills to announce the end of days.

All but one of the dogs ran. It was a short-haired lab with a scar down the left side of its muzzle and the dirt and blood on its flanks was so thick that Vogler couldn’t tell what color it had once been.

“You better run, you son of a bitch,” he said.

But the dog just stared at him. Vogler raised the pistol and closed one eye and put the front sight square on the dog’s head and pulled the trigger.

The gun blast echoed through the surrounding hills, and when the noise was gone, Vogler wondered at how quiet it was here at the end of the world. Like a graveyard on a Sunday morning.

***

He couldn’t catch his breath as he remounted the stairs and went back inside. In the darkened kitchen he stood with one hand over his heart, trying to will himself to breathe. And then he coughed. He coughed hard, again and again, and each hack felt like something was inside him, trying to claw its way out. When the coughing finally subsided he steadied himself against a granite counter top that had been the finest money could buy not so many years ago, before the San Antonio flu and the military quarantine and all the useless madness that had come with those times. He stared at the light fixture above the empty floor where their dining room table had once stood. The room seemed to swell and contract, swell and contract, like he was standing inside a giant lung, and he thought he was going to vomit. Vogler had been a surgeon in the early days of the flu, and he’d heard patients describe this exact feeling, the same nausea-inducing hallucinations, the shortness of breath, and he knew what was coming. Another six or eight hours and his lips would start to take on the blueberry stain of cyanosis as his lungs filled with fluid and he drowned to death in his own blood and snot.

And then he remembered the pistol in his hand. Vogler looked down at it then and was surprised to see it was still there.

“Just make sure you save yourself a bullet,” he said, and was mildly amused at how easy the decision to use the gun on himself was to make.

He wondered what it was going to taste like, the soot-stained metal.

Vogler stepped outside again to see if the pack had returned, but the yard was empty. He leaned against the porch railing and let his mind drift. Behind him stood an eight thousand square foot monstrosity, a moldering Mediterranean-style villa that had been his dream home ten years ago when he built it for Margaret. It stood on top of a low, domed hill, commanding a view of other hills, other mansions. They were all wrecks now–all that remained of what had once been the Dominion, San Antonio’s wealthiest neighborhood. Looking to the south, he saw the city skyline and the yellowish, hazy dust that rose from it. Those streets were crowded with the mummified corpses of the victims of H2N2, the San Antonio Flu.

He turned away.

There was an obligation waiting for him inside. Margaret, in the dying moment of clarity that had penetrated her fever, had asked him to bury her next to their son in the soft dirt beneath the old oak in the front lawn.

He had promised her he would.

“Promise me you will,” she’d said, trying to sit up, trying to grab his arm, but unable to do either. “Tell me you will. Promise me.”

At first he thought she repeated herself because of the fever. Maybe she wasn’t thinking clearly. But then he saw the look on her face and he knew different. He knew her mind was as sharp as ever.

Twenty-five years earlier, right after completing his residency, his head swollen with pride at his accomplishment, there had been a nurse, a sexy brunette with brown eyes and small breasts and graceful hips. A short, white hot affair had followed. He ended it when Margaret found them out. And then, as she made him promise to bury her body next to their son’s, he had seen an echo of the doubt and mistrust that had plagued their marriage during the decade after that affair. He felt its sudden return now like a knife in the gut.

He went to the bedroom, and with a great deal of difficulty, for the coughing had returned, he shouldered her shrouded corpse and a shovel and headed for the old oak tree in the front yard to do his widower’s duty.

***

He dug for two hours, listening by turns to the slice and crunch of the shovel cutting into the earth and the snarls and yaps of the pack that was circling around him.

He touched the pistol in the waistband of his jeans and felt reassured by it. When he was done, he was going to lie down on the other side of his son’s grave and eat the gun.

“It’ll be like it used to be,” he said to the simple cedar post marker at the head of his son’s grave. The boy had been twenty years old when he died, but at that moment, Vogler thought of him as he had been many years earlier, a four year old child coming downstairs in the middle of the night to climb in bed between his parents.

Vogler wiped the sweat out of his eyes and went back to digging. Despite the coughing, despite the knowledge that there wouldn’t be anybody to throw earth on top of him when he was done, he had a sense that the labor was a good thing, that he was making good on the most important promise he had ever made. It felt good to sweat. The stiffness in his lower back felt good. The pain was honest, and Margaret deserved that. After all the years and all the troubles, she deserved something honest from him.

***

Later, when the hole was finished and the body was put inside and he had said all he could say in words to a woman who had shared his life with him and given so much of herself to him, he began to shovel the dirt back in.

So absorbed was he with his work, so overheated by the unaccustomed exertion, that he failed to hear the big black dog loping through the grass towards him.

He didn’t so much as hear the dog as feel the weight of its stare on his back. And when he did finally feel that weight he spun around on his heels and let out a startled cry at the charging black mass of fur and teeth.

The dog leapt at his face and knocked him down and tore into him. Vogler put his hands up to keep the dog’s teeth away from his throat and they fought, not as man and dog, but as two wild things whose only weapons were the muscles and the fists and the teeth they were born with.

Vogler managed to get one hand in the dog’s mouth and grabbed onto its lower jaw. The dog’s teeth shredded the palm of his hand, but Vogler wouldn’t let go. He twisted the jaw and the dog went down. But even then, even with the dog on the ground, whining in pain, Vogler refused to let go. He pushed the dog’s head up and away, exposing the throat. Vogler threw punch after punch into the soft flesh of the dog’s throat. “You go to hell, you son of a bitch!” he roared, screaming the words with the rage of one who has seen the world around him die and has been unable to do a damned thing about it, even for all the wealth and power that had once been his to command.

The dog convulsed under the blows, raking at Vogler’s belly with his back claws in a futile attempt to save himself. But there was no stopping Vogler’s attack. As a civilized man, he had farther to fall to reach that savage state where only survival mattered, and when he did finally make that fall, when the protective veneer of reason and humanity fell away and there was nothing left but the bright burning spark of primal rage inside him, he proved to be the stronger. He sank his teeth into the dog’s throat and tasted the fur and then the blood as the dog’s life leaked from its veins and down to the corners of Vogler’s mouth.

The dog kicked once, twice more before it died, and with that last kick snagged the trigger guard of the Ruger and pulled it from Vogler’s waistband. Vogler was bent over forward so that he couldn’t feel the gun leave its seat. But he did hear it go off, and he did feel the bullet punch into his belly and go tearing through his organs like a boy with a stick who has rammed the pointed end down into a fire ant mound and stirred it till nothing but an angry mess remains. That was what his belly felt like. That was what the pain of being shot in the gut felt like.

Vogler coughed in disbelief, then pitched over, face down in the soft black dirt beneath the oak tree. He lay there, trying to catch his failing breath, his eyes growing darker by the second and his skin crawling with sudden cold till it seemed he was the only being left alive on the barren, bald tip of the world, the blackness of space all around him. The thought passed through his mind that in the time before the world died of the flu he had been a surgeon, the head of a hospital…a wealthy man…a married man…a father. And now, he was a dying man, and none of it counted anymore because now he was none of those things. Now, he was merely a tree falling in the woods, unseen. Unheard.

The dogs closed in on him. He could hear them, he could hear their excited panting and their slobbering jowls slopping together, and he knew what was coming. Though he couldn’t see, he could still feel, and he could feel hot breath and wet teeth on his fingertips, the teeth pulling at the skin, almost gingerly but for their sharpness, taking a hesitant first taste of the flesh.

THE END

“Plague Dogs” originally appeared in Potter’s Field 3, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, 2009. The anthology was edited by Cathy Buburuz.

QUARANTINED makes the 2009 HWA Preliminary Stoker Ballot

I woke up to some great news this morning. My novel, Quarantined, made it onto the HWA’s 2009 Bram Stoker Award preliminary ballot. This is not the same thing as being nominated for a Stoker (that comes later, when and if a work advances to the final ballot phase of the process), but I am very excited. And as an added treat, my short story, “Plague Dogs,” also made it onto the preliminary ballot. Here’s a rundown of works on the ballot.

2009 PRELIMINARY STOKER BALLOT

Superior Achievement in a Novel
QUARANTINED by Joe McKinney (Lachesis Publishing)
AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
CURSED by Jeremy Shipp (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
SACRIFICE by John Everson (Leisure)
AUDREY’S DOOR by Sarah Langan (Harper)
ETERNAL VIGILANCE II: DEATH OF ILLUSIONS by Gabrielle Faust (Immanion Press)
TWISTED LADDER by Rhodi Hawk (Tor/Forge)
VORACIOUS by Alice Henderson (Jove)P
THE BONE FACTORY by Nate Kenyon (Leisure)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)
THE BLACK ACT by Louise Bohmer (Library of Horror)
SLAUGHTER by Marcus Griffin (Alexandrian Archives Publishing)
BREATHERS by S. G. Browne (Broadway Books)
THE LITTLE SLEEP by Paul Tremblay (Henry Holt)
SOLOMON’S GRAVE by Daniel G. Keohane (Dragon Moon Press)
DISMEMBER by Daniel Pyle (Wild Child)
SLIGHTS by Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)
THE DEAD PATH by Stephen M. Irwin (Hachette Australia)
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan (Delacorte Press/Random House)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction,
MAMA FISH by Rio Youers (Shroud Publishing)
HUNGER OF EMPTY VESSELS by Scott Edelman (Bad Moon Books)
DIANA AND THE GOONG-SI by Lisa Morton (MIDNIGHT WALK)
DOC GOOD’S TRAVELING SHOW by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)
THE GRAY ZONE by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
THE LUCID DREAMING by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
DREAMING ROBOT MONSTER by Mort Castle (MIGHTY UNCLEAN)
LITTLE GRAVEYARD ON THE PRAIRIE by Steven E. Wedel (Bad Moon Books)
ROT by Michelle Lee (Skullvines Press)
BLACK BUTTERFLIES by Kurt Newton (Sideshow Press)

Superior Achievement in a Short Fiction
IN THE PORCHES OF MY EARS by Norman Prentiss (PS Publishing)
BLANKET OF WHITE by Amy Grech (BLANKET OF WHITE)
KEEPING WATCH by Nate Kenyon (MONSTROUS: 20 TALES OF GIANT CREATURE TERROR)
ONE MORE DAY by Brian Freeman (SHIVERS V)
THE CROSSING OF ALDO RAY by Weston Ochse (THE DEAD THAT WALK)
WHERE SUNLIGHT SLEEPS by Brian Freeman (Horror Drive-in)
THE NIGHT NURSE by Harry Shannon (Horror Drive-in)
PLAGUE DOGS by Joe McKinney (POTTERS FIELD 3)
THE OUTLAWS OF HILL COUNTY by John Palisano (Harvest Hill)
NUB HUT by Kurt Dinan (Chizine)

Superior Achievement in a Anthology,
MIDNIGHT WALK edited by Lisa Morton (Dark House)
POE edited by Ellen Datlow (Solaris)
HARLAN COUNTY HORRORS edited by Mari Adkins (Apex Publications)
HE IS LEGEND: AN ANTHOLOGY CELEBRATING RICHARD MATHESON edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)
LOVECRAFT UNBOUND edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse Books)
DARK DELICACIES 3: HAUNTED edited by Del Howison and Jeff Gelb (Running Press)
BUTCHER SHOP QUARTET 2 edited by Frank J. Hutton (Cutting Block Press)
GRANTS PASS edited by Amanda Pillar and Jennifer Brozek (Morrigan Books)
MIGHTY UNCLEAN edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
BRITISH INVASION by Chris Golden, Tim Lebbon and James Moore (Cemetery Dance Publications)

Superior Achievement in a Collection,
A TASTE OF TENDERLOIN by Gene O’Neill (Apex Book Company)
SHADES OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Angeline Hawkes (Dark Regions Press)
MARTYRS AND MONSTERS by Robert Dunbar (DarkHart Press)
IN THE CLOSET, UNDER THE BED by Lee Thomas (Dark Scribe Press)
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS by Michael McCarty (Sam’s Dot)
GOT TO KILL THEM ALL AND OTHER STORIES by Dennis Etchison (Cemetery Dance)
DARK ENTITIES by David Dunwoody (Dark Regions)
SHARDS by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Brimstone Press)
UNHAPPY ENDINGS by Brian Keene (Delirium Books)
YOU MIGHT SLEEP… by Nick Mamatas (Prime)

Superior Achievement in a Nonfiction
WRITERS WORKSHOP OF HORROR by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)
STEPHEN KING: THE NON-FICTION by Rocky Wood and Justin Brook (Cemetery Dance)
CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT by L. L. Soares and Michael Arruda (Fearzone)
ESOTERIA-LAND by Michael McCarty (BearManor Media)
MORBID CURIOSITY CURES THE BLUES edited by Loren Rhoads (Simon & Schuster)
THE STEPHEN KING ILLUSTRATED COMPANION by Bev Vincent (Fall River Press)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
CHIMERIC MACHINES by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)
MORTICIAN’S TEA by G. O. Clark (Sam’s Dot)
DOUBLE VISIONS by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions)
VOICES FROM THE DARK by Gary William Crawford (Dark Regions)
BARFODDER by Rain Graves (Cemetery Dance)
STARKWEATHER DREAMS by Christopher Conlon (Creative Guy Publishing)
TOWARD ABSOLUTE ZERO by Karen L. Newman (Sam’s Dot)
NORTH LEFT OF EARTH by Bruce Boston (Sam’s Dot)
GRAVE BITS by Todd Hanks (Skullvines Press)

“The Night Nurse” by Harry Shannon

Harry ShannonA new Harry Shannon short story is always a treat, and his latest, “The Night Nurse,” which you can read here, is no exception. There’s a brief interview included with the story that gives some pretty good insight on how and why “The Night Nurse” was written.

“The Night Nurse” has got a great twist at the end that really lands the story. I was so impressed with it that I recommended it for a Bram Stoker Award. I hope you like it, too.

Publishing News – Potter’s Field 3

I just got my contributor’s copy for Potter’s Field 3, edited by Cathy Buburuz. This is the first time I’ve worked with the good folks at Sam’s Dot Publishing, and I am really excited with the results. Carole Hall and Scott Virtes did a beautiful job on the cover, and quite a few of the stories have black and white drawings. I feel especially honored that my story, “Plague Dogs,” got a Marge Simon original illustration. She did a wonderful job capturing the mood of the story.

I’m also excited that “Plague Dogs” is coming out at the same time as my new novel Quarantined. Now that I have several novels under my belt, I’ve found that it is really hard to let go of the worlds in which my novels are set. As authors, we spend so much time fleshing out the setting and the environment and the politics that create the background of a story, that it seems a shame to just walk away when it’s all done. So what I sometimes do is write a short story or two set in the same world as the novel I just finished. It eases the separation anxiety. That’s the case with “Plague Dogs,” which takes place in San Antonio about four years after the events depicted in Quarantined.

I hope you enjoy “Plague Dogs,” but make sure and read the other tales as well. My favorites are “Deadline,” by Michael James McFarland, and “Whisper,” by Mark Onspaugh.

Here’s the full table of contents:

“Stone Heart,” by Alison J. Littlewood
“Sky Cemetery,” By Charlie Bondhus
“Deadline,” by Michael James McFarland
“Much of Madness, More of Sin,” by Lorne Dixon
“Plague Dogs,” by Joe McKinney
“The Worst is Yet to Come,” by Pete Mesling
“Whisper,” by Mark Onspaugh
“The Course of Reckoning,” by Ronda Scheerer
“The Caulbearers,” by Rebecca Nazar
“A Feeling Like Freedom,” by Dev Jarrett
“Sixth Son,” by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
“Encounter at Emerald Lake,” by Cathy Burburuz

And featuring illustrations by:

Carole Hall
Tom Moran
Marge Simon
Jacob Parmentier

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