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Sunday, 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 usual.

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. Or didn't.

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 foreseeable future.

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
Chet 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 here: The Little Things.
Enjoy.


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 anyway.


Saturday, December 23, 2006
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,
they may have sounded their own death-knell...


Friday, December 22, 2006
I'm 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 the pants.

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 found it.

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
I just discovered this new review of The Last 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 out.


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 Thunderball.

Also 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 posted here.

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 called 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 friend 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.

The astute 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

I finally 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
I took 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 autograph.

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
And 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 Blue Devil Island an excellent review in this month's HorrorWorld (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 bad.


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