So 2012 was pretty darn good, writingly-speaking. I’ve managed to churn out a few more manuscripts and BLACK DOG has been pretty successful so far, and it’s all thanks to you guys–the readers. I hope we have many more adventures together, if only through the shared telepathy of writer and reader.
Just to keep you all up to date, here’s a list of projects coming up this year and next year. I have a ton more that hopefully will fill the next five years or so after that, but those will keep until I have somewhat of a release date.
BLACK DOG: PROPHET IN THE WILDERNESS–The sequel to BLACK DOG: THE LONG DARK ROAD. It’s being edited right now and has tallied-out at a little over four-hundred pages. There’s a few more stories in this volume than the first. The two books were actually one book originally, but that would’ve had the page count at just over eight-hundred pages, so it was deemed necessary to split the book in two. I think the flow from one book to the next is pretty smooth. Since they’re episodic short stories (and as a result, resemble the episodic nature of a TV series), you can read either one on its own, but if you want the full story, it’s better to pick up the first volume. In the second volume, readers will see what happened to Amos to turn him out on the road as a hobo, how he got his special guitar, when he first saw the phantom black dog, and how his road finally ends. Out in April!
NIC ARCHER: ARROWHEAD–The first in a planned ten-book YA/Teen series about a boy who discovers his parents were soldier-agents for A.R.R.O.W.–a clandestine secret army that has been protecting America since before the American Revolution. He also discovers that he was a test subject for the Arrowhead Initiative–a plan to create the perfect agent, one who will spearhead their army in a terrible looming conflict. No one’s asked Nic what he wants, but now that he’s been targeted by SCARAB–A.R.R.O.W.’s ancient nemesis–he may not live to make up his mind! Mid-to-late 2013. (Fingers crossed!)
THE MARK OF CAIN (The Book of Cain–Vol. 1)—The first book in a Civil War supernatural trilogy about Ira Cain, a Confederate cavalry captain who is cursed by an old Haitian slave woman. Cain must not only survive the final year of the Civil War with Hell literally on his trail, but must also wander the Antebellum South, searching for the slave to remove the curse before he is dragged to Hell. The second and third books are called GONE SOUTH and HELL ABORNING, respectively, and will find Cain and a Buffalo Soldier named Deke Sherman searching through the post-war South for the slave woman, dodging bounty hunters, and fighting the forces of Hell itself.
ALONE—A stand-alone post-apocalyptic novel set in rural North Georgia. No zombies, no vampires, but plenty of Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man, and especially Man vs. Himself. I wanted to do something in the vein of George Stewart’s Earth Abides mixed in with a little Jack London and the Tom Hanks film Castaway. Too many post-apocalyptic novels have a protagonist that’s ex-military/Special Forces/Super-Prepper and is all kitted-out and ready for the downfall of civilization. I wanted to show what a normal, average Joe-Schmoe would do if suddenly pressed to survive. How would he learn to shoot? To hunt? To dress game or make shelter or preserve food and keep a fire going? So the main character is a guy who, like most of us, has become so dependent on the Internet, cell phones, and prepackaged food that he’s at less than Square One when he starts out. I also wanted to explore the effects of being alone on a person (which the protagonist is for most of the book.) What would it do to their mind? Would they crave human companionship or shun it completely? And when other humans do show up in the story, what then? Find out late 2013-early 2014.
If you’ve read BLACK DOG, please take a moment to write a review on Amazon.com, B&N.com, Goodreads.com, FaceBook, and anywhere else you can paint Internet graffiti. Believe it or not, word of mouth still makes the best advertisement!
Thanks again for reading!
Hope all of you have a happy one! Thanks so much for the support and well-wishing all year! I hope you all hang around for another year and then some! I’ve got a LOT more stories to tell and I hope as many readers.
Speaking of, here’s a BLACK DOG Christmas greeting by way of Mike Torrance over at the Daily Sketch Blog.
Until next time, be safe!
The 1970s saw a huge spike in horror and the supernatural–books, games, movies–but especially TV shows and made-for-TV movies.
When I set out to make this list, I thought about the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Do these movies really stand up after all these years? Would they still scare, or if not scare, at least give the same freaky vibe they had 3o-some-odd years ago?
So I watched them again, in my own 31 Days of Halloween–you know, since AMC’s “Fear Fest” is basically a bucket of chocolate ass-nuggets nowadays. (Seriously, do we need to see Halloween: H2O or Friday the 13th LXII: Jason Goes to Pluto, Only to Discover It’s Not Really a Planet Anymore?)
In the end, I think they do hold up, particularly certain moments within them, if not the entire movie. That’s the problem with horror movies you saw when you were a kid–you mostly remember the scariest bits. But that’s usually enough to guarantee serious mental instability as an adult or a career as a horror writer–both of which amount to about the same thing.
There are many, MANY others, but these are the five I remember as being scariest.
5.) DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)
This puppy was frightening for one reason–the little men whispering in the walls of the house.
LITTLE. MEN. IN. THE. WALLS.
You barely saw them, but when you did, they were malformed and indistinct. You never got an explanation as to what they were, where they came from, why they were IN. THE. WALLS. They just wanted to grab the protagonist and drag her down INTO. THE. WALLS. and make her like them. That premise alone gives me the runny poops.
And not-seeing/not-knowing the Full Monty is a good thing, storywise. As H.P. Lovecraft once wrote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
See? Even 80 years ago, dude knew what was what about horror storytelling: sometimes (I would argue most times) what you don’t see is scarier. If you can’t put a face on the terror, you can’t get handle on it enough to rationalize or deal with it. That was the problem with Insidious–the movie was great until Darth Maul showed up. Then all that soul-sucking tension, that marrow-freezing faceless terror, fart-noised right out of the film like a punctured whoopee cushion.
Did I mention how terrified I am of little men in the walls? ‘Cause, damn.
4.) COUNT DRACULA (1977)
- To date, the best filmed version of Stoker’s novel. Period.
The script hewed closely to the mark, though mixing a few elements and characters and combining one or two events. All in all, it no one has been able to touch this adaptation for accuracy and sheer scariness since it aired on the BBC, then on PBS in America. I remember seeing this in high school a year or so after I’d read the novel the first time and thinking, Yeah–that’s the way an adaptation should be done–even though I was a teenager and had no idea about how a checkbook should be done, much less a screen adaptation. Louis Jordan as the Count was pretty creepy, and the scene where Harker sees him climbing the walls of the castle like a big black spider still creeps me out.
Snagged this gem as soon as it released on DVD a few years ago. Do the same. Now.
It’s not an exact replica of the book, but it’s super-close in terms of mood and story. And it’s better than turning the great material of the book into a giant, lost-love douche-fest.
Francis Ford Coppola, I’m looking in your direction…
3.) GARGOYLES (1972)
One of the scariest themes is the “accidental discovery of something we shouldn’t have accidentally discovered.”
Starring Cornel Wilde and a young Scott Glenn, an archaeologist finds a colony of living, breathing gargoyles in Nevada. They’re nearing the next 600-year cycle of hatching their young, and whenever this happens, they usually end up in another battle in the war with humankind. The gargoyles just want to be “left alone,” dammit. Why can’t modern science get this through its thick, knobbily-horned cranium?
Also, this little goodie was SFX and Makeup diva Stan Winston’s first job, for which he scored an Emmy. Soon after, he would give Styx–and the world– the Mr. Roboto mask. Domo arigato, indeed.
(Wait–did I just call Stan Winston a diva?)
2.) SALEM’S LOT (1979)
I know I’m not alone when I say this mini-series gave me nightmares for a month. I mean that literally–I had recurring nightmares about vampires in my own small town that looked just like the ones in Tobe Hooper’s classic scare-fest. I remember that they slept under mobile homes and in chimneys and even in the attic of our 100+ year-old farmhouse.
James Mason does a terrifically creepy turn as Richard Straker (“Your faith against the Master’s!”), one half of Straker and Barlow Antiques, and the ghoul to Barlow’s Nosferatu-inspired vampire lord, who is always on a “buying trip.”
The insidious notion of a small town being replaced one at a time by vampires, combined with a Peyton Place drama full of secrets, is a volatile mixture that doesn’t explode, but does a slow burn, keeping you on the edge of your seat until the bitter end.
‘Salem’s Lot is the first Stephen King book I ever read, and it was one of his best. I read it in high school, and even after all those years, I couldn’t see anything but the mini-series–effects, actors, and all–and it wasn’t a bad thing. Normally, I’d say book-before-movie, but not in this case. In many ways, it’s better.
The tiny pinpricks of light in the vampires’ eyes; the silent, lingering shots, ratcheting up the tension on your scrotum to that of a snare drum; the awesome use of the Nosferatu-type vampire for Barlow instead of the Euro-trash douchebags we’re used to. (John Steakley’s excellent Vampire$ uses the similar idea of vampires as bestial vermin, as does the filmed adaptation by John Carpenter.) Ralphie Glick hanging like an unholy Christmas ornament outside of Mark’s window, scratching at the glass, will live in my subconscious forever, causing me to download into my mental drawers every time I see a fog bank.
My parents let me watch this. I repeat: MY PARENTS LET ME WATCH THIS. Horrible, awful people…
(Thanks, Mom and Dad.)
1.) DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981)
I defy you to find a better made-for-TV horror film. There just isn’t one. After 30 years, this thing holds up like a Dolly Parton sports-bra.
Ask anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s and you’ll hear the same thing. Anyone who’s seen the film never forgets it.
Bubba Ritter (played by the insanely believable Larry Drake) is a mentally-handicapped man in his thirties; Charles Durning is Otis Hazelrigg, local postman and all-around mean bastard. (I smell a SIT-com!) Hazelrigg has always hated Bubba, especially when he’s playing with Marylee Williams, a local child. When Marylee is attacked and almost killed (by a neighbor’s vicious dog, unbeknownst to them), Hazelrigg rousts some buddies who hate Bubba, too.
Angry mob+rough justice+scarecrow hiding place=BEST FREAKING MADE FOR TV MOVIE EVER.
I will not pretend to be able to describe this movie adequately. Just SEE it.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow was just released in a sweet 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray, with TONS of extras.
Damn, oh, damn was this good.
The sequel to BLACK DOG: THE LONG DARK ROAD will be out sometime in the Spring, hopefully March or early April.
Travis Gentry, the cover artist, sent me an image to use at Space City Con last weekend here in Houston. He turned the “unfinished” image into a teaser poster, which drew the crowds to the table like flies to, um… dead stuff.
If this is unfinished, the final product is going to be phenomenal.
Had a great weekend! Only came home with 10 books out of the 50 I had, and I had four emails wanting a copy each. My Kindle and Nook sales spiked over Saturday and Sunday, as well as website hits, and someone emailed me that a girl they go to college with bought BLACK DOG at the Con and posted it on her FaceBook page with some nice comments. I also got invited to SpaceCity Con in August by its director and owner (again in Houston at the Galleria) and asked to be on a panel discussion for writers. So all in all, a pretty awesome weekend!
Thanks so much to everyone who came out and stopped by the table, and thanks to everyone who bought the book. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’d just ask one more thing from you after having taken your money: PLEASE write a review on either Amazon or Barnes and Noble–or both! It really helps the book get noticed, and right now, I’m counting on a LOT of word of mouth.
Also, those of you who bought the book this past weekend–if you have FaceBook pages, shoot me a friend request and I’ll respond, and if the spirit moves you, repost a link to the book (trade, NOOK, or Kindle versions–or all three if you want) and get it out there. You guys are great, and I appreciate all the support more than you know.
Now, I promised some people some photos. I took a bunch of pics with people that bought the book and asked if they would like being on the website in a gallery. Most said yes, and I told them I’d use hobo names instead of their real ones. These are just a few of them. So here you go, and a cooler bunch of people you couldn’t find:
Thanks again to everyone who came out and supported me. It was great getting to know all of you! Come to SpaceCity Con in the Galleria in August. I’ll be there with R.A. Salvatore and Tracy Hickman.
(See how I name-dropped there? Yeah–those guys don’t know me at ALL.)