December 31, 2006
2006 was a
pretty good year for my work getting published; a novel, an anthology,
several short stories, and another novel due in January. Plus, I'm
midway through writing another (ye old Monarchs of Harrow),
so I can't much complain on that front. My day job has gone fairly well,
though the stress level has been on the high side this year. I guess I
could complain about that, if I were so minded, but I'll spare you. The
big negative of the year has been my wife's declining health, which has
put a lot of strain on both of us — physically, emotionally, and
financially. Her surgery on the day after Christmas went reasonably
well, and she seems to be recovering nicely, so at least I can be
thankful for that. I just wish this would do the trick for giving her
some long-term relief from pain, but I'm afraid, in the bigger picture,
it's little more than a Band-Aid.
In the media and in literature, for me as a consumer, it's been a very
satisfying year. Some of the highlights include
Casino Royale, the newest
Bond flick. I loved this one pretty much all the way around. Daniel
Craig is killer as 007; the story, stunts, and acting were all
top-notch; and even David Arnold's score impressed me more than his
The "Ultimate" DVD releases of the James Bond series are something else.
I picked up You Only Live Twice to replace my old copy,
which was skipping and locking up, and the quality is so intensely good
that it's tempting to get all twenty of the damned things. Alas, my
budget and I don't agree, but it's nice to dream about.
The Flock, James Robert Smith's first novel, was one of the
year's most memorable reads. It's a very fine Thomson-Gale/Five Star
release, and I recommend it highly.
Warrener's Beastie, William R. "Mr. Bill" Trotter's latest. A
sprawling, epic monster tale that occasionally lurches, but in the end
proves to be one of the most exciting adventures I've read in years.
Classic Media's releases of Godzilla Raids Again and
Mothra vs. Godzilla are so good that I can only wish the
entire Godzilla series would get such treatment for U.S. re-release.
Ju-on, Kei Ohishi's novelization of the movie series, actually
gave me a little case of the creeps. That just doesn't happen anymore.
I'm leaving out a ton of good stuff, to be sure; it's tired out tonight,
and I'm trying not to hurt myself thinking. Don't anyone feel slighted,
unless you think you deserve to.
As for good experiences, Horrorfind 2006, in Baltimore last August, was
one of the best gatherings I've been to in years. Special nods go to
Steven Sommerville, Fran Friel, Greg Hill, Beth Blue, and my darling
daughter Allison, who really helped make it a memorable event. Would
love to make it again this year, but with Peg's precarious condition, I
won't be able to make advance plans for this, or any other cons for the
MySpace, for all its pitfalls and overall ridiculousness, has brought
many new folks to make my acquaintance, and some have become true
friends, even though we've never actually met face to face. Hopefully,
we can remedy that one of these days, at least for a few on board...
So 2006 really had its share of ups and downs. At the end of it all,
Mark is feeling a bit older and more fatigued than is at all
comfortable, but I can honestly say there have been many worse times. I
have to anticipate more of the same for 2007; I just hope that the tough
stuff doesn't spiral out of hand, and that I have the presence of mind
to count my blessings when counting is due. As the saying goes, I do
have a lot to be thankful for.
Till next year...
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Williamson wasn't able to post his Storytellers Unplugged essay today,
so I went ahead and put mine up, at da boss's request. It may be found
The Little Things.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Christmas itself was a nice holiday
— spent a couple of days at my mom's in Virginia, along with the
missus, my brother
Phred, and his girlfriend
Golda. Gave and got some nice gifts (received a bunch of
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, which makes me a happy boy),
played rock-n-roll trivia (which I somehow won, even though
Phred is imminently more qualified), ate a lot of good food, and
almost relaxed. However, the last couple of days have been
anything but relaxing, since Peg's surgery was yesterday. I've
been mostly at the hospital, with a few breaks at home in
between, which have been mostly hectic. Haven't had a chance to
write much at all, although I did manage to get my Storytellers
Unplugged essay finished, which will go up on Friday.
I do hope everyone who frequents this joint has had a good
holiday season so far. If you're one of those many
Christmas-hating sourpusses I know, well, I hate it for you. May
you be filled with peace, love, happiness, and all that
A nice Christmas
present arrived in the mail today — issue 10 of
Dark Wisdom magazine, which contains my story,
"The Lake of Shadows." This issue is full color and
printed on glossy paper. I haven't had a chance to look at it in
detail, but my first impression is that William Jones and
company have outdone themselves. Lots of gorgeous artwork (the
piece by Tim Wilson that accompanies my story is excellent) and
some cool features and fiction that I'm looking forward to
reading. I tend to be leery of small-press magazines with
full-color production because it's a hideously expensive
process, and too often, the publisher will opt for some
shortcuts to save money. That doesn't appear to be the case
here, and I really hope that Dark Wisdom will
succeed in the long haul because it's easily one of the best
magazines specializing in Lovecraftian-style fiction ever to see
the light of day.
Of course, having seen fit to publish my work a few times,
may have sounded their own death-knell...
December 22, 2006
flaming mad because I haven't gotten to see A Charlie
Brown Christmas this year. I'm sure it must have been
broadcast and I just missed it, but I even up and ordered the
DVD of thing (because I despise trying to watch it, edited, with
all the commercials on regular TV) and it hasn't gotten here
yet. Since it's being shipped to my office, it won't get to me
before Christmas. I thought I'd ordered it in plenty of time for
delivery, but alas not. Now that's a kick in
Unfortunately, the missus has to have shoulder and knee surgery
the day after Christmas — her second this year — so that's going
to cut the holiday a little short. She's got bone spurs in the
shoulder again, for the fourth time in as many years, and the
cartilage in her knees is distintegrating, so they're going to
do some repair work. I'm sure she'll do fine. By now, this crap
is old hat.
On a much more encouraging note,
The Nightmare Frontier made Gary Braunbeck's "Best
of 2006" list, which is so not a bad thing. I'm more than
honored to be on that list; Gary is one of the most
distinguished writers working today, and one of the most
gentlemanly gentlemen I've ever met. Visit him at
www.garybraunbeck.com. If you haven't checked out his work,
do it RIGHT NOW. If he's ever hit a clinker, I haven't
Anyway, it's going to be busy for the next few days, so if I
don't have a chance to come back and wish you a Merry Christmas
— or whatever holiday suits you — have a great one. Hope it's a
very special time for you.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
discovered this new review of
Trumpet by Nicholas Grabowski, and I'm humbled:
Nicholas Grabowski reviews The Last Trumpet
This just prompted me to kick my ass into overdrive on The Monarchs of
Harrow, which I'm working on feverishly today...
Last night, our good old friends
Stormy Williams and his wife Chanel came round for a visit,
and we had ourselves a whopper of a dinner at the Green Valley
Grille, which is an upscale little joint in the O'Henry Hotel
here. I had what may have been the most kick-ass calamari I've
ever eaten, and a couple of 90 proof martinis.
A Christmas Story is showing on TCM shortly, so
guess where Mark is going to be. Yes, probably shooting my eye
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Between working on chapters of
The Monachs of Harrow, I've had to watch 007 movies
over the past few nights. It always happens when a Bond movie
comes out at the theater; I get the bug, and then it becomes
necessary to put on the DVDs and watch the entire series.
Usually in order, but this go-round, I'm doing it willy-nilly. Tonight was
watched and wrote a review of
Hellsing, a Japanese anime flick, for About
Horror.com. It was merely okay — kind of a
Vampire Hunter D wannabe, with all the blood and
little of the heart. I guess, technically, animated gore isn't
really gore at all, but the Japanese sure can animate some
explosive bloodletting. This is part one of three of a
made-for-video series; I kind of doubt I'll be checking out the
rest of it. I was a diehard anime fan back in the 80s, but in
the intervening years, I've seen precious little that would
rekindle my interest. Late addendum: my review is now
Got a nice card and note from Fred Chappell today, telling me
how pleased with
Evermore he was. Indeed, pleasing it is.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Spent a most enjoyable evening last night
with my brother
Phred and his S.O.
Golda. He played guitar and hollered for a benefit at a local gallery
Two Art Chicks, and sounded fairly respectable, at least according
to the passersby whose ears didn't begin bleeding. There was also an
auction to help a local cancer victim, so I donated a copy of
The Lebo Coven, which picked up bids as soon as it hit the
block. A good
cause and a good time. Afterward, went with Phred, Golda, and their
Jessi for Thai food at Rearn Thai, where I demolished a big old
plate of Crying Tiger — one of the best concoctions of dead cow anyone
has ever come up with. Alas, Mrs. Damned Rodan was feeling rotten and
missed an excellent evening.
And a late
addendum: a photo from BOB Smith from our signing session on Thursday.
viewer might notice a certain peculiar shadow above the mantelpiece. How serendipitious! When signing books about Poe, one really should be
surrounded by Poe-things...
Friday, December 8, 2006
picked up Lara Parker's second Dark Shadows novel,
The Salem Branch, which at least has a pretty cover. Based
on all that I've heard about it, I dare not build up any high hopes. I
know from Lara's first,
Angelique's Descent, that she can spin a reasonably decent
story, but — of all things — her grasp of the Dark Shadows
characters themselves is rather spotty. In particular, her characterization of
Barnabas in Angelique's Descent was wretched, and though I
hear she's remedied some of her previous problems in this book, there are numerous
other, equally egregious gaffes that are prone to inspiring groans.
Way to go into
this with an open mind, no? Ah, well, I probably won't get a chance to
start reading it before the Christmas holiday. I still kinda look
forward to getting into it. It's Dark Shadows, after all,
and I'm still a raving DS nut and make no bones about it.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
off the afternoon, and Mr. James Robert (BOB) Smith came up from
Charlotte so we could autograph the copies of
Evermore for Shocklines — which is now all done. Got the box
shipped out, as well as two boxes of
The Nightmare Frontier,
which Chad Savage will be remarquing before they head to
Shocklines. But my part on these is done, and now I have a big stack of
signature sheets for the
Cthulhuian Singularity anthology to sign and send to John
Pelan. Always a pleasure to devalue someone's product with my
Anyhoo, Bob and I watched the H. P. Lovecraft Historical
Society's production of
Call of Cthulhu, which is always a treat, and then we
went out for sushi at Sapporo, one of the decent local Japanese
restaurants. Not a bad way to have dinner on Pearl Harbor Day, right?
Also got a call from my darling daughter in the greater Washington, DC,
area, where they are apparently getting snow. We are merely undergoing
raging interstellar winds at the moment. Anyway, hearing from her made
for a nice ending to the evening.
Saturday, December 2, 2006
another edition of The Log meets the archives...
Had to fill out a customs form for Fed Ex this morning so they
can deliver the boxes of
The Nightmare Frontier
from Sarob Press for Shocklines — probably on Monday. If so, I'll
autograph those, ship them off to Shocklines on Tuesday, and by
week's end, Matt will probably be filling orders. Here's hoping.
And on a very nice note, I found that Ron Dickie gave
Devil Island an excellent review in this month's
(you have to scroll down a little ways for the review;
that link will work through December, and then it will
go into HorrorWorld's
archives). So far, the book's batting a thousand for decent
reviews. That's encouraging, and I'm just glad that the advance
readers all seem to really be enjoying it. That's what it's
really all about.
Well, that and all that other writer-type stuff, both good and