But do you mean it?

This past year I had the great honor of joining the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association). For a writer at my level, becoming part of an organization like this seemed like a great idea. I’d heard many things, many of them not very good, about the group, but had been assured that with the new leadership in place, things were changing and better days were ahead.

And then the white supremacist, fascist-thing happened.

Which brings me to what’s bugging the hell out of me:

Is this who the HWA wants to be? And, more importantly, if that’s the case, is this the kind of group I want to actively support or be a part of?

The first question I can’t answer. I’m not in the heads of Those Who Decide, so who knows what the heck they’re thinking. Their earlier statement was not what I’d hoped it would be. In fact, it felt like a dodge. The second question? Yeah, I can answer that.

And it’s no. I would not actively support that kind of group or be a part of it.

And it breaks my heart.

Listen, the life of a writer isn’t all wild parties and hookers and crowds of adoring groupies cheering every comma and applauding every editing of an adverb. Believe it or not, it’s kinda lonely. (cue tiny violin) Your head — or at least my head — is buried in a computer watching black pixels clutter an electronic page from sun up to sundown. And to be a part of a group of OTHER writers, well, heck, that sounds cool, right?

On the surface, the HWA felt like a perfect fit.

But what they believe and what they tacitly endorse through inaction when Real Life upends their rhetorical apple cart is more important than being part of a group. If they allow a white supremacist and fascist to sit on a Jury — a position we’re led to believe is a great honor — what does that say about them?

Saying you don’t discriminate is one thing. Words are easy. You can say anything and, until you’re tested, people will believe you. But allowing a person with an avowed, unapologetic hatred of anyone who is, in his eyes, an “other” to sit on a jury in my opinion goes against that. Are we to believe his skewed world view won’t influence his decision? Or that his knee-jerk animosity for Person X or Author Y won’t cause him to vote against a work worthy of recognition? Recognition that could make a career?

For an organization already struggling with a perception problem regarding the Stoker Awards (see, cronyism, vote trading, favoritism for past Stoker winners and/or Officers, a byzantine, confusing balloting system), the decision to keep this member on the jury seems a bit tone deaf.

It also makes me doubt whether or not the HWA, in the end, will, in fact, be a fit for me.

As I understand it, no one is calling for the member in question to be banished into the Dark Forest of No Return. Different beliefs — even ones most find onerous or deplorable — are fine (not good, mind you, but “fine”) if you’re a member. Heck, I support the HWA endeavoring to be as widely diverse as the horror genre itself.

But to be faced with a Juror — not just a member, but a Juror — with beliefs that are counter to what you say you, as an organization, believe and then choose to do nothing, that speaks volumes.

Personally speaking, this has been a big splash of very cold water on my excitement at being an HWA member. In fact, I feel a bit embarrassed to now have it mentioned in my bio.

I can’t imagine that’s how the HWA wants their new members to feel.


predator and prey and Click

Click. The third apartment and third story in Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast. To be honest, I’ve dragged my feet getting around to talking about the process of writing this story. I’ve hemmed and I’ve hawed and, heck, I’m still doing that now! Filling up the page with words, words, words and shifting them into sentences, all so I can put off, again, talking about this story. Fact is, out of all the tales that comprise Eidolon, this was the one I found the most difficult to write. Not the writing of it, I mean. But the psychological tunnel I needed to crawl through to bring it to life. That was the nightmare. That was what literally kept me awake at night. That’s what would – more than once, more than twice – force me from my chair and out the door to get some fresh air while the story waited, mid-sentence, for my return. Because I simply could not handle what the main character was doing. I couldn’t handle the thinking behind it, I couldn’t handle the cruelty behind it, and I couldn’t, for one second more, be the conduit for this monster to continue telling his story.

Colton Carryage. That’s the monster. Tits. Freckles. Teeth. Unnecessary. Those are his victims. These are names, predator and prey, that will stay with me for awhile. That stay with me still. And I didn’t set out to write the story I eventually wrote when I sat down. It took a sharp right into shadow and, despite my trying to turn the wheel back into the light, it insisted on going even deeper. And I certainly didn’t intend for it to be the first book my publisher needed to put a Warning Label on. But Colton’s madness, his cruelty, his insatiable need and dark desires demanded it. Not everyone’s heart or head can handle the horrible secrets that wait in Apartment 1C. Hell, I wrote the damn thing and I’m still recuperating. And that’s all I think I’m going to say about Click.

a necessary death

I’m in the dark.

I’m not apologizing for it. And I’m not asking for help. I’m simply stating where I am. And where that is is in the dark.

A dark so pervasive, so insistent, so oppressive and inescapable, that there is no light. Those small things that would usually pierce the darkness – the smiles of neighbors and passersby, the kind words from those very few, true real life friends I have – just don’t right now. They get lost somewhere around the edges. Familiar echoes in the distance I kinda sorta hear, but don’t. Not really. Appreciated, yes, but quickly lost. That’s how dark it is.

But I still move through life. I’m pleasant, I can laugh, I can smile, I can brighten your day and mean every word of it. And I do. But it’s not resonating for me. It’s just too dark.

But why? Why am I here? What’s the reason? Because there’s always a reason.

It’s the eerie calm before the great storm. That massive, mysterious, life-changing tsunami I see rolling in from the horizon. It’s exhaustion. And taking stock of years languishing on everyone’s TBR pile, always “next” and always passed over. It’s knowing no matter how carefully I construct a sentence or coax out a rhythm on the page, or how delicately I balance the inherent song in someone’s dialogue and meticulously build those narrative beats page by page, it’s all for naught. I’m writing for an audience of one. It’s reaching far and wide to be better and stronger, to make progress, to achieve, somehow, and coming back empty handed. It’s admitting that no matter how good I am, it’s not enough. And it’ll never be enough. It’s the necessary realization that sometimes people are not who I hoped they’d be. Not who I so needed them to be. That I saw what I wanted to see and heard what I wanted to hear. Again. It’s the admission that, despite whatever gifts I have, I am expendable and easily forgotten.

None of this is bad.

This dark is a much needed hollowing out of all that no longer fits. It’s the Universe forcing me to relinquish that which is inauthentic and illusory — people, situations, dreams, goals, loves — mourn those deaths, and then, when I can see again, fill the empty space with something better. Or nothing at all. I don’t know. The Me I am right now, right here, is being systematically shredded into oblivion so that at the end, when the light returns, I have to rediscover the Me I really am. Or at least the Me I could be. And that person might be radically different than who I think I am now.

I’m not sure. It’s too dark to see.

And so I’m writing this. Instead of doing something to give vent to my frustration, something sudden and irrevocable to bring escape or peace, I’m calmly, rationally facing the monster and calling it what it is. Hopefully lessening its hold by looking it in the eye. Because writing this little note is all I can do right now. If I take a step to try and leave this shadow, the shadow expands five steps. If I take a second step, it grows ten more. If I do any of the active, take-charge things I usually do to shrug away the dark, the dark grows stronger. So all I can do is stand still and let the light find me. Just stand quiet, take responsibility for my mistakes, own up to my self-delusions, follow the threads back to where I blinded myself with good intentions and hope, cut those cords, release those goals, people, dreams, loves, and then wait until the black loses its hold, turns grey and the shadows begin to lift.

Then, and only then, can I step forward into a world I may not recognize, but which I will make mine. Somehow.

Until then, I’m in the dark.

the frozen flesh

A month later the frozen flesh had started to tighten, the nails were coming loose, the eyes had shriveled and sunk, and the barest hint of marbling appeared from her armpits and around her neck. His plaything had become unpleasant.

– Colton Carryage, Eidolon Avenue, Apt. 1C


Jan 2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing

A sip of Anniversary

Another little teeny tiny peek at Eidolon Avenue, my new book due out in 2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, one of the top publishers of dark fiction and horror.

Why not? Besides, you’ve already had a glimpse of China followed by a taste of Bullet and then a little Click. Makes sense to take a sip of Anniversary, right?


“I suppose.” Gripping the table’s edge, she hoisted herself back and plopped down into her chair with a deep sigh. “That makes more sense.” The thought rolled through her mind as she reached for her champagne. “Oh, that’s right. I remember. He took a bump to the head, quite a big one, now that I think about it, and knocked himself cold as a cucumber for, oh, how long was it …” A glance down at Benji. “Something like two or three weeks, wasn’t it, dear?”

He ignored her, his eyes on the ceiling above her.

She looked back at Peabody. “Trust me, it was two or three weeks. Just laid there in the hospital bed, dead to the world and snoring like a lumberjack. Took his darn sweet time waking up, too, I gotta say. Found myself envying him toward the end. And then he woke up and …” She shrugged. “Life went back to being life and we went back to messing it all up, time and time again.” She paused. “Though he did seem … I don’t know. Off, I guess. Or somehow different in some way after then. Just not the same.” A small grin for Peabody as she sipped her champagne. “I guess that’s what falling off a cliff will do to you.”

“But that wasn’t the first time,” Peabody said as he placed the champagne back on the table and pulled his salad bowl near.

“Oh no, no. Not at all.” Fork in hand, she tucked into her bowl of watercress. “Now, remember, that was the ten year anniversary. We’d had, oh, I don’t know, maybe …” She stabbed a piece of lettuce as she thought. “I’m not sure, but definitely a few, if not several, tries before then.” She shoved the lettuce in her mouth.

“Really. Several?” Peabody swallowed a bite of salad and then sipped his champagne.

She nodded. “Absolutely. You see, I met my beloved Benji one month – and I was twenty-eight by then, so in the world’s eyes, and that of my family, I was darn near a spinster and utterly without hope – and I married him the next month, and then we spent the next fifty years happily trying to kill each other. By choice.”

“By choice.”

“Of course.” She returned the champagne flute to its place near the untouched glass of chardonnay. “Murder/suicide pacts. One after the other. All of them sincere. All of them determined and, one would hope, well thought out. And all of them ending either dismally or disastrously, take your pick.” She dabbed the napkin to her lips. “Never could get it right.” Napkin in hand, she put her elbows on the table and leaned forward. “And when we got it wrong, boy howdy did we get it wrong.”

“So now it’s Mr. Peabody to the rescue?” The affable stranger, the napkin covering his lap, speared another piece of lettuce.

Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come!!!!  :)

A little Click

Here’s yet another peek at Eidolon Avenue (earlier looks included China and Bullet), a collection of novellas and short stories due out in early-2016 from Crystal Lake Publishing, considered one of the best publishers of horror and dark fiction in the business today.

Really looking forward to you guys checking this out. Oh! And did I mention it’s already being circled for adaptation into a TV series? Stay tuned. —

He hip checked the door open and, taking her hand, led her into the apartment.

She stood, her eyes above him, to the walls, the ceiling, as he unbuttoned her rain coat and dragged it away from her shoulders. “Who are they?” she said.

“Huh?” He threw her coat in the hall. “Who? That’s just Brody. Relax.”


“Brody. Brody!” He watched her. “My bud Brody. He’s cool. That is who you’re talking about, right?” He pulled closer.

She shook her head. “No, no, I don’t know.” Her breath grew ragged. “There’s more than one. I don’t like them. Their eyes, they’re dark. Like people, but not people. And their fingers are like scary claws. And the smell, they smell, it’s –” Her cheeks blushed as she fought for breath, her chest rising and falling in quick jerks. “I don’t … I don’t like it.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” he said, cradling her face in his hands. “Relax. You’re okay. We’re just getting out of the rain for a minute, alright?”

“I can smell that thing. Can’t you smell that thing?” Her eyes rolled back in her head as her chin titled up. “Oh my god, Mom, Mom? Help! This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong –”

“Yo!” He gripped her face tighter. “Hey! What’s wrong?” He gave her a quick, violent shake. “Freak! Yo! Answer me!”

“It … won’t … stop … breathing.” She screwed her eyes shut and started to cry.

“That’s you.” She shook her head. “You’re the one breathing, okay?” He stopped her. “You need to settle down. You’re fine.” He lifted the umbrella. “You want this back? Here you go. See? I promised. Take it.”

She opened her eyes, her cheeks stained with tears. She ignored the umbrella.

“You can’t leave.” She sniffled. “It won’t let you.”

“You said I looked like a prince, remember? Remember that?” He forced a smile. “Wanna kiss a prince?”

She shook her head. “I want to leave.”

“Aw, c’mon.” He moved closer, pressing his body against hers. “Just one kiss? When have you ever gotten to kiss a prince, right? One time shot, right here.” A smile. “Yeah?”

Another shake of the head, this one slower, more careful, her eyes on him. She started to cry again, her nose leaking thick streams of snot, her shoulders rising as she hiccupped and sobbed.

“Shhh, shhhh, shhh.” He traced a tear with his thumb, rubbing it into her cheek. “Relax. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.”

She caught her breath, her tear-filled eyes watching him. “You lie.”