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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I'm taking an extra day off after the Memorial Day weekend to get some serious work done on my latest novel. On Saturday, the missus and I drove out to Hertford, NC, to spend a couple of pleasant days at Stately Wilson Manor, residence of writers  David Niall Wilson and Trish Macomber. Mostly, we watched movies, bummed about the local terrain, and irritated their children (and their little dog too). The highlight (apart from irritating their children) was watching Pan's Labyrinth, about which I had heard good stuff aplenty, and none of us were disappointed. It's a beautifully crafted dark fantasy film, with some disturbing imagery and a gripping story. We also checked out The Descent, about which I had also heard much good stuff; however, while it had some effective moments, this one was not so impressive. At best, it effectively conveyed the impression of being deep beneath the earth and on occasion managed to be nerve-wracking (in a good way). Otherwise, alas, not much different than everything we've ever seen before.

Knowing that I was once upon a time inclined toward creating art of the spine-chilling variety, Dastardly Dave impressed me into service illustrating the signature page of his special one-of-a-kind edition of Ancient Eyes, his latest novel. The "normal" limited edition is due soon from Bloodletting Press. A low-res repro of my little scribble may be found here.

Friday, May 25, 2007
So, it's Star Wars's 30th birthday. Not that I've ever been a geek or anything, but I did see the original Star Wars at the theater 23 times during its initial run. Before I went off to college that fall, I caught it a couple of times in my hometown, but in that little college town, there was absolutely nothing, nada, zip, zero to do on weekends (at least that was legal), so for a couple of months, on Saturdays, bunches of us would get in our vehicles, cruise up to Roanoke, and sit through Star Wars a couple of times.

Yeah, I guess it beat a lot of the trouble I might otherwise be getting into. On the other hand, I got into trouble a lot on weekdays. (I know, someone's going to want the details, but I can't reveal what I can't remember. Sorry.)

It's tempting to go put on the DVD tonight just to celebrate. Not that I'm a geek, or anything, but I've completely lost count of the number of times I've watched this movie. Something tells me it's in the triple digits. But there's nothing at all wrong with that. Really.

Saturday, May 19, 2007
Just returned from Selma, NC, after spending an excellent evening at the home of the redoubtable Robert M. Price, former editor of Crypt of Cthulhu as well as many an anthology of macabre tales. He and his wife Carol have been hosting the Babylonian fish god, Joe Pulver (author of Nightmare's Disciple), this week and were kind enough to have me out for what has become known as the first meeting of the new Kalem Club. There was much prattling on about things religious, political, and literary, as well as the devouring of things culinary (homemade sausage and pepperoni pizza, to be precise) until the wee hours of the am in the Price's superb haunted mansion.

I was beyond blown away by the enormity of Bob's collection of cinematic and literary 3-D figures — everything from Cenobites to Spiderman to Bela Lugosi to Space Godzilla. (To his credit, he also owns a complete set of Deathrealm.) Mr. Pulver was a character of the first order, and never were hosts more gracious. I do hope that there will be many, many more gatherings of this newfangled Kalem Club — perhaps even at the Rainey dwelling, for those who dare.

Thursday, May 17, 2007
Nice sushi lunch today with Stormalong Williams, the man responsible for "Town Called Dobson." You should visit the place. Mind you, it's for grown-ups and isn't too terribly work-safe.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I've put together a promo package, complete with illustrations, for Retro Monsters, the graphic anthology project that Todd Tennant conceived to feature stories by himself, Rob Hood, Mike Bogue, and me ("Pachacutec"). The package has gone to my agent, so we're hoping that we'll get some bites from a publisher on this lil' monster. (See the April 9 entry for more details.)

The Lebo Coven is officially out of print; it's sold out from Shocklines, and no longer carries it new — only through its affiliated merchants. I have a handful of personal copies left, so I'm going to make a few of them available (autographed, of course) for $25, postage paid. This is pretty much the last opportunity to pick up the book at a reasonable price, suitably devalued with the author's signature. See the book page (here) for details.

Sunday, May 13, 2007
A happy Mummy's Day to all the mummies out there.

Received nice news from William Jones, editor of Dark Wisdom magazine and the man behind the curtain at Elder Signs Press, that he'd like to include "Terror From Middle Island," which I co-wrote with Durant Haire (originally published in Dark Wisdom issue #9), in his upcoming anthology, Frontier Cthulhu, to be published by Chaosium in late summer of this year. Sounds like a cool project, with stories set in past times in various primitive settings (hence the antho's title). Nice to know the story will yet again be foisted on an unsuspecting public.

Well, at least a certain segment of the public has now been forewarned. Dang me.

Friday, May 11, 2007
These days, virtually anytime I write, I listen to Internet radio over iTunes. My favorites are Space Station Soma on SomaFM and Secret Agent on SomaFM, which play atmospheric electronica, which is the perfect backdrop for working on fiction. However, Net radio is about to be doomed by the Copyright Royalty Board's decision that would  boost the royalties due to music companies by a staggering 300 to 1200%. As a creative person, I'm all for fair compensation for artists of any speciality, but given the niche markets that Internet radio serves, this wrong-headed act will do nothing but shut down outlets for some of the best music out there. All that will be left are the large, corporate monstrosities that we hear everywhere, all the time, and never stop throwing up over.

There may yet be hope, though. There is a movement in Congress to save Net radio, and I've written my Representative and Senators to urge them to co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act — S. 1353 in the Senate and H.R. 2060 in the House of Representatives. If you value the diversity that Net radio offers, I'd recommend you do the same. As it stands now, Net radio will go virtually silent on July 15.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
So, last night I'm zipping a couple of emails back and forth with Brian Keene. Just as I'm hitting Send for one of them, lightning hits the house behind us and fries our cable line. So I'm out of commission till this afternoon, when Time-Warner was good enough to come round and put it right.

Nobody's place burned up or anything. I don't think. I guess our neighbors should take some comfort in the fact that the boy can't shoot straight.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Ah. If I could afford to live like this, I could afford to live like this. Nearly 10,000 words written on my current novel since Saturday. Took a couple of days off from work and have been racking up points doing little but writing. Got in a few good walks to recharge the batteries, an evening hanging out with my brother in the woods with a campfire and liquid refreshment, some fine eatin', and pretty much no TV to distract me. I did get together with some good old friends on Sunday afternoon — a couple of whom I haven't seen in 25 years. That was a blast.

Tomorrow, alas, is back to the normal grind at the office. Suckafrigginraggindingdongblastedsamhill snootinhootintootindonkeyshit.

Saturday, May 5, 2007
Good ghott! My brother came round today bearing his new copies of the deluxe SACD editions of several of the Moody Blues albums — Days of Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream, and To Our Chlidren's Children's Children. I was a more than a casual Moody Blues fan back in the 70s. In addition to the original recordings, each album features extended versions, alternate versions, additional tracks, and live performances. I saw the Moodies several times in the 70s and early 80s; I never thought their live performances stood up to their studio work — largely due to the nature of their music — but their music in any form meant a lot to me back in the day, and these things have rekindled my enthusiasm. They offer a lot of goodies for the price, so I give 'em top recommendations.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Another birthday. So what? Big deal.

Didn't do anything special. Worked. Got a few nice goodies from Peg. Had pizza, cake, watched Space Monster Dogora just for kicks, and Lost. Then my old body asleep in front of the TV.

Old. Yuck.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Spent most of the weekend with Peg at the old homestead in Martinsville, writing up a storm, doing some more Web site updating, and relaxing in the woods with a bonfire and some gin. Not much better than putting up tiki torches and having a roaring fire going on till all hours. When I was a kid, I used to camp out in these woods, and even the local Boy Scouts would occasionally set up camp. One of the coolest things about the place is that with just a little hunting around, I can often find the remains of old toys that had belonged to my brother and me damn near forty years ago. Back then, it was not out of the question for me to determine that Phred had outgrown his things and then use them for all kinds of pyrotechnical special effects experiments. (I might mention that down at the nearby lake, the entire Seventh Fleet probably still lines the bottom — plastic model ships that I loaded up with model glue and firecrackers, set afire, and then afloat.) Somewhere in my mom's attic, there are a bunch of photographs of some of those special effects extravaganzas. They're pretty crappy, but I'll try to hunt them up one day and scan them.

Peg took the shot at the right. Looks to me kinda like a jaguar leaping out of the flames...

Anyway, the weekend turned out to be both relaxing and productive, and it's just a damn bitch that tomorrow is Monday. Boogers.

Saturday, April 28, 2007
Thanks to overworking my little hands at the office, I've developed one of these nice ganglion cysts on my right wrist, for which I'm having to wear a wrist splint. The cyst is merely an annoyance, not debilitating or anything, and it'll probably go away on its own. They're quite common — I bet some of you reading this have one of these little knots of your own, eh? Anyway, work sent me over to the local urgent care so I'd be taken care of, and the brace at least helps with the discomfort.

Last night, our good friends Stormy and Channel Williams escorted us to dinner at Akashi, for one of the best Japanese meals I've had in years. Mountains of sushi! Yay! Turns out the sushi chef was an old acquaintance of ours from a previous favorite local restaurant, and we ate more than the law should allow. The Storm is an accomplished artist — specializing in political satire — so I had to reluctantly refrain from stealing his sushi, lest I be made into a caricature.

And that Elizabeth Massie! The dastardly woman sent me a box of the black plague. You'd think a former biology teacher might know better. What if the damned thing should escape into the wild?

Sunday, April 22, 2007
I should bite my tongue, but the weekend has just about come to its end, and we haven't suffered any catastrophic calamities. In fact, it was generally pleasant; very quiet and relaxing for a change. I'd rather have been at RavenCon, to be sure, but at least I'm starting to feel almost inhuman again, after such a god-awful sinus bug this week. I fit in several good writing spells, did a mess of housework, and watched a few entertaining goodies, including Bigfoot from 1969 — perhaps the cheesiest and most hootin' fun Sasquatch flick from that wonderful, bygone era. With an exquisitely horrid cast (including John Carradine, John Mitchum, and Doodles Weaver), motorcycling hippies, and an unabashed lifting of themes from King Kong (including a play on the "It was Beauty killed the beast" closing line), it was the perfect late-night movie show to send me to bed happy last night.

Did a bit of updating on the Web site as well. Browse around and spot the new stuff, if you're bored and have nothing better to do.

Friday, April 20, 2007
Air raid!

To finish the week on a positive note, I've received a slew of copies of Blue Devil Island for the Shocklines bookstore, devalued them with my scribble, and packed them up to send to Matt on Monday. Hopefully, he can get customer copies out by the end of next week. If you'd like to pick up a copy, order one from Shocklines. Autographed, and free shipping. (Click on the picture or the title above for the link.)

I still feel not unlike crap, but I worked half a day, and this afternoon, I can almost breathe a bit without the assistance of Vicks nasal spray. I am, of course, envious of the rotten, dirty, lucky-ass weasels my fine friends who are going to RavenCon this weekend, since it was the only con I was planning to make this year, for a variety of reasons. Ah, well. I'm saving gas. Yeah, that sounds good, don't it?

Thursday, April 19, 2007
Topping off a most distressing week, I've been sick with a particularly nasty sinus infection since Monday, and it hasn't gotten any better. Went to the doctor today and got an antibiotic, but this bug is going to knock me out of going to RavenCon in Richmond this weekend, which I was really looking forward to. I should look on the bright side, I suppose, and think of all the money I'll be saving, since gas has just hit $3.00 a gallon here. I'm going to miss abusing some good friends, though, so I'm officially bummed out.

Monday, April 16, 2007
What a terrible year 2007 has been so far. Today, we had to put down our cat Charcoal. She'd been going downhill for a month or so now; the vet believes it was a tumor in her sinuses. One eye had swollen badly, and she could barely breathe. She'd had a number of tests and went through three rounds of antibiotics, which didn't touch the inflammation. We couldn't stand to have her suffer any further, so Peg took her for a final trip to the vet this afternoon. She was as sweet as any kitty ever was, and I'm a little devastated. I had a feeling it was coming when she didn't improve any from the treatments.

We still have her sister, Dusty, and our Siamese, Chester. Charcoal would have been nine years old in July.

Sunday, April 15, 2007
Oy. Yesterday started off nicely enough; got up and mowed the yard (what a treat, right?), got some serious writing done, watched King Kong just for good measure, and then Peg and I went out for Thai food, which was excellent. About 10 pm, she complained she was having trouble swallowing — her tongue and throat were swollen up, and soon this was impeding her breathing. I called an ambulance, which showed up in less than five minutes and took her to the emergency room, where we ended up until nearly 4:00 am. By all indications, she had an allergic reaction to something; eventually, she returned more or less to normal, and she seems okay this morning. She didn't eat anything last night she hasn't had a thousand times before, so the source of the trouble is a mystery.

I'm quite tired now, needless to say. And I've seen the inside of too many hospitals way too frequently over the past couple of months.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Good God! Quite by chance, I just happened upon a film my old friend/roommate from Chicago, Bill Gudmundson, and some partners made when they were at Columbia College back in '79. I figured the movie was relegated to the halls of my dusty memory, but Roger Domian, one of the guilty parties, has created a Web site for it. If you're a fan of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it may give you a chuckle.

For me, it's a real slam-dunk for nostalgia. I always loved this little guy. At Columbia College, Invasion of the People Canners became the heralded example of how not to make a film.

It's here: (For video itself, scroll down to the bottom of the site.)

Monday, April 9, 2007
Many years ago, in my jubilant youth (about 1975, there or about), I wrote a dorky monster story called "Night of the Firebeast," which featured a daikaiju-like monster called Damarron. Several years later, I expanded the thing into my very first, honest-to-god novel, which was part Godzilla, part H. P. Lovecraft, and pretty much all not-so-good. However, having no clue about such things back then, I had loads of fun with the whole concept. I changed the monster's name to "Pachacutec" (which was the name of an Incan king, the name meaning roughly "The Transformer of the World" -- which went along with the South American origin of the beast) and worked up a series of illustrations for it (which I used as part of my senior art project at the University of Georgia in 1981). Quite a few years later — mid 1990s — on a whim, I resurrected the beast, and rewrote the original story, calling it simply "Pachacutec."

Well, I've always had a fondness for the old boy, and I incorporated him into my tale, "The Transformer of Worlds," which appeared a couple of years ago in the Australian anthology Daikaiju, edited by Rob Hood and Robin Penn. And now, artist Todd Tenant has proposed to illustrate a graphic novel of monster tales, aptly titled Retro Monsters, and it looks like Pachacutec will again come out of hiding. The project is also slated to feature stories by Mike Bogue and the aforementioned Mr. Hood. There's no publisher at this point — it's just proposal phase — but as a promo illo, Todd has done a nice splash page of my old monster buddy, based on my original drawings.

Since the pics are pretty large, rather than post them here, I'll offer links for the edification of the curious. Beware. Pachacutec is a monster who will kick your ass at the first opportunity.

"Pachacutec" Splash Illo by Todd Tenant

My original "Night of the Firebeast" illo (1979)

An illustration from the story, "Pachacutec" (1981)

A painting I made of Pachacutec in flight (1981)

Todd Tennant's art page (includes images created for Retro Monsters as well as other daikaiju art)

Enjoy. Or run away screaming, whichever you feel is more appropriate.

Sunday, April 8, 2007
If, by chance, you were reading The Log about this time last year, you might remember that it was a fine time of year for eating bugs. I managed to chow on several over the course of a weekend. This year, it would seem to be birds that are out to get me. A couple of weeks ago, I ended up with one in the grille of my car. Today, I ended up with bird poop on my shoulder. Some of it got into my beard. I experienced it closely enough to know that the bird had been eating fresh berries of some sort.

Damn birds.

I always spend Easter with the family, so I was at my mom's this weekend, along with my brother Phred. Again, Peg was in bad physical shape, so she didn't manage to come up today, as she'd hoped. Mum, Phred, and I went out to Forest Park Country Club for lunch, which was pretty satisfying, though it seemed a bit melancholy without Peg or Allison, or my mom's friends, the Wickliffes, who were originally planning to be there but couldn't make it, again due to health problems. I did manage to get in some quality writing time, and a good walk in the woods today.

Perhaps it's neither here nor there, but I was listening to some Rush the other day. Twenty-five years ago, I was a diehard Rush fan; haven't really listened to them in years, but I still do enjoy them. There's a song called "New World Man" from the Signals album that I really related to back in 82–83, and I realized when I heard it for the first time after all these years that I still do. The following passage in particular:

     "He's got to make his own mistakes
     And learn to mend the mess he makes.
     He's old enough to know what's right,
     But young enough not to choose it.
     Hes noble enough to win the world,
     But weak enough to lose it.
     He's a new world man."

So. There it is.

Thursday, April 5, 2007
I received a most gratifying phone call today. Our CEO's father, who is a World War II vet, has been reading Blue Devil Island, and he rang me up to tell me he's been enjoying it very much, particularly the combat descriptions. "I rarely enjoy reading fiction," he said, "but your book has me completely hooked." That gave me a welcome boost today, since the day job has been such a physical grind these last few weeks. Several vets I know have now read the book and remarked on its verisimilitude, which means a lot to me, given the effort I put into making it believable to someone who actually was there.

Tonight, I watched Flags of Our Fathers, which wasn't bad, though it didn't have quite the impact I thought it might. The point of view skipped around haphazardly, making it somewhat difficult to focus sufficiently on the characters. Regardless, it had some very emotional moments, not to mention a lot of vividly rendered war action. I'll give it four of six beers.

Monday, April 2, 2007
Yes, that's me. Hopeless. I was going to sit down and write my figurative ass off tonight, so what did I do? Got hung up prettying up my bibliography page. Wasn't particularly necessary, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I'm not even sure it's terribly pretty. But if you want to see the results of my handiwork, punch the "Bibliography" button on the left. Don't say I didn't warn you.

My brain is distracted, I think. Our little Charcoal spent the day at the vet; she's got a swollen eye and congested sinuses, and a couple of rounds of antibiotics haven't touched it. The vet is afraid it could be a tumor, which would break my heart. She seems to feel all right otherwise, but we do worry about her.

Charcoal is the black one.

Anyway, please wish her well. She's the sweetest of the sweet.

Sunday, April 1, 2007
This will have been posted all over the planet by now, but here it is anyway — the list of winners of the 2006 HWA Bram Stoker awards. No fooling.

Superior Achievement in a Novel: Lisey's Story by Stephen King (Scribner)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel: Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction: “Tested” by Lisa Morton (Cemetery Dance magazine #55)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology: (Tie) Retro Pulp Tales by Joe R. Lansdale (Subterranean) and Mondo Zombie by John Skipp (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in a Collection: Destinations Unknown by Gary A. Braunbeck (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction: (Tie) Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die by Michael Largo (Harper); and Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth (Baylor Press)

Superior Achievement in Poetry: Shades Fantastic by Bruce Boston (Gromagon Press)

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Thomas Harris, and the Specialty Press Award went to PS Publishing of East Yorkshire, England.

Many congrats to everyone.

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