Monday, December 31, 2007

Neat and Tidy!!

The links section to the right is now finally organized in something resembling a logical manner, so that I or others can find things of interest with relative ease.

Jersey Horror/SF

The good people at the Science Fiction Society of Northern New Jersey (wow, that's a lot of words) gave their end-of-year recap, graciously mentioning my humble visit to their august gathering:

Hopefully '08 will see a return to the Garden State!

Dark Fantasy

That's right, gentle readers. The story I used yesterday as an example of the financial end of things, more importantly marks a genre crossover for me into something closer to Dark Fantasy. Here's a sample paragraph from near the beginning of the story:

"And on each trip she would gather shells and little, white stones and bring them back to cast into her pit. With each load of the tiny, white sea-objects, Anna would then squat by the pit like some primitive, wild woman about to give birth in a cave or the open air. She would lean forward, putting part of her weight on to the handle of a sledge hammer she’d also bought for this purpose, once she had realized that she had such a purpose. Then she would methodically raise and smash down the head of the sledgehammer into the contents of the pit – not swinging it, but just raising it up a few inches, then forcing it down, grinding all the stones and shells like one would, if one were using a giant mortar and pestle. Each fall of the hammer tightened her stomach and brought an animal grunt. In a few minutes it would also bring the evening’s tears, which would continue far into the night, mingling with her sweat and even drool from her open mouth, all of it to slide down the handle of the hammer and mingle with the pit’s slurry to make a cold, smoking stew of anguish. Some warm nights she’d collapse next to her grinding work and sleep in the dirt; when the nights were colder, she’d usually make it inside the back door to fall unconscious on the kitchen floor. Usually."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Economics of Short Fiction

It's really very simple, so long as you make a couple unwarranted assumptions. I farted around yesterday and couldn't really get anything going. So I lay down on the couch, read a few verses from the Koran, took a nap, and when I awoke, I had a story fully mapped out in my diminutive brain. Everything was really in place, clicking, ready to go. I sat down at the computer almost continuously from 2pm till 11pm, with about an hour away to eat dinner and do the dishes. So, for the sake of calculation, that works out exactly to eight hours of "work" (never mind that I've been trying for days to get the inspiration for this story - let's just assume that I could use all that "down" time to do other things [housework, grocery shopping, read the newpaper, blog, pay bills, etc.] or that the "down" time will diminish as I write more and get more practice). Now for the calculations.

IF I sell said story to a market that pays professional rates of 5 cents/word (difficult, but possible), then I'll be paid about $220. So, theoretically, writing short fiction would earn one as much as $220/day.

IF one could continue to do that EVERY DAY (basically impossible to do) and sell to professional markets EVERY story (really impossible, as the market couldn't absorb 260 more short horror stories/year), that'd be $1100/week, or about $57,000/year (about what I make at my teaching job).

IF older stories were reprinted or anthologized (unlikely but possible), and IF I could eventually republish them as collections of my own (very unlikely for many years to come), and IF I could sell some rights for comic book or film versions (could happen), then the $57k number could theoretically be supplemented a little more, maybe a lot more.

So, since several of my "ifs" after the one in which I assume I could sell it to a pro market are more or less impossible, one is left to conclude that one will have to do something other than write short fiction. The return on novels, of course, is much higher. Many writers prefer to write short stories, but they just can't afford to do so as their sole source of income.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I's Not Using Enuf Big Words

Or maybe not enough cuss words. I can't tell, as I don't know the criteria that go into this little button, but here it is:

cash advance

Get a Cash Advance

Friday, December 28, 2007

The London Times!!

Okay, the "trying to communicate with the cover artist who doesn't speak English via translations from a former colleague" has now been way topped in oddity.

Yesyerday my blog hits soared. Then late last night, a friend pointed out that my blog comments on Bhutto's death had been picked up by the London Times online version as a quick article they slapped together on "The Blogosphere Reacts to Bhutto Assassination." That is some wild web of connections, from some crazed religious nut with a bomb in Pakistan, all the way to my virtual doorstep. A scientist-friend told me it's called "Unpredictable emergent properties." So now if someone in Hollywood was reading the online London Times yesterday, options my book for film, I make a ton of money, quit my job at Iona, and someone interviews me and asks me where my success comes from, I can say, "Because Benazir Bhutto was assassinated." I believe very strongly that she's somewhere - sipping tea with Martin and Mohandas - where she can enjoy the oddity of that even more than I can.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Murdered

I kind of thought it'd happen, but I'm still stunned.

I don't think the human race deserves beacons of hope. We smash and break and blow them up. So to hell with us. We can sit in the damn dark, since that's apparently what we really want.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Braunbeck's Mr Hands

Oh my god, I finished this short novel in one long sitting a couple days ago. I was floored. Braunbeck has this quality that is, for me, right where horror needs to be. If I wrote that story, [SPOILER ALERT!!] then Ronnie would show up in time to save Sarah. [END SPOILER!!] It'd be sappy, sweet, unthreatening. If most other horror authors wrote the story, then Mr Hands would go on a killing spree that would kill the entire population of the world. Grim, tasteless, pointless. But Braunbeck strikes this balance where there's real sacrifice and pain, but things work out in some affirming way. I am in awe. And the story is so darned learned: this story could easily be seen as the one of the most effective, beautiful adaptations of the exchange between Ivan and Alyosha in the Brothers Karamazov that has ever been penned. My highest recommendation and admiration for this work.

End of the Year Surge!

Amazon #s on D2L, History Is Dead, and Gospel of the Living Dead are all phenomenal! Thanks!

They will now be helped by the great review of "Sloggoth" on Amazon -

Thanks again!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

To arm, or not to Arm? That IS the question?

It rears itself again! Kim wants to be armed! Kim had a hankerin' this afternoon to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace with 12 hot rounds slammin' into a cast iron fryin' pan hangin' off a dead tree! Gonna think about it some more in the days to come. Maybe it was a passin' (if recurring) phase. Maybe not. Gun bunnies - feel free to chime in, either with general observations or specifics. Ideally, I'd like the following:

1) Fun to shoot, maybe as often as every weekend at a pistol range.
2) Good stopping power. Man-sized target down after one hit anywhere in its torso.
3) Preferably suitable for all family members, in case they have to pry it from my still-warm, dead fingers after zombies pull my guts out, in order to continue the maelstrom of hot-lead death.


I don't know if it was the best evah! But all the parts were awfully in sync!

Presents! - Kids seemed to love theirs, and the boy child is nearly old enough to not like anything. But he was building Lego sets all afternoon, while the girl child designed clothes on this clothes designer game, and they got along! I got cooking presents and gummi bears and stuff and it looks fine! The lovely mother of my children seemed to like hers too.

Dinner! - This spiral cut ham was unbelievable! Moist, tender, falls apart, but with such intense flavor! And I made a roast beef with this horseradish sauce that was kickin'! And a turkey breast! (I didn't eat that, but the family members who did said it was nice!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Year Resolutions

A little early! I was listening to music this evening, and I decided "You've Got Another Thing Coming," for too long we've gone our "Separate Ways," and now it's time to have "One Vision."

Seriously, things are out of whack. They need to change. I need to make a little more progress in my life before I die or become useless.

So without further ado, here are my 2008 resolutions (which are more like a list of little changes and huge ass goals):

LISTEN TO HEAVY METAL MUSIC EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'd think about 3 hours/day oughta be right. I don't know how I got out of the habit, but it's bringing me down. There's no excuse. I can do other things while I'm listening - wash dishes, pay the bills, answer email, maybe even write some fiction. But whether I'm typing or scrubbing, the house is gonna be rockin'. (I just bought a fairly expensive Sony receiver, so this makes all the more sense.)

GROW MY HAIR LONG AS IT WILL GO. To be honest, I actually never liked how my hair looked long - it gets all shaggy and wavy and gross past my shoulders. But I'm on sabbatical next year, so what the hell, let's try it! Most men my age don't even have hair, and mine's all over the place, so let's let it go!

GET AN AGENT AND A CONTRACT WITH A BIG PUBLISHING FIRM. Okay, this is one I can make efforts towards, but it's not as much in my control as the first two. But it's gonna happen. In the next year I'll have a mass market paper back. Not out, surely, but in the pipeline.

SHIFT MY PARADIGM. My good friend Bill keyed me into this. He's a graphic artist who's now tried (once) being a film director. So he usually introduces himself as, "Hi, I'm a graphic artist. I direct, too." But sometimes he tries something different, like, "Hi, I'm a film director." Just to see how it fits, how it feels. And maybe it feels good. Like you wanna wear it some more. Maybe from other people, when they say, "Oh, I want you to meet my friend Bill. He's a director." It doesn't have to mean you've switched completely, but it does the old brain and ego some good, like a little massage or jolt. Right now I introduce myself as "Hi, I'm a theology professor. And I write zombie novels." In one year's time, I'll be introducing myself as, "I'm a horror novelist. And I teach theology classes." Yeah.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Great Review in Dark Scribe!

Very detailed, too!

I didn't see any spoilers, but she does give a synopsis of each story, and heaps praise on the originality of the collection! Thanks!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Orpheus and the Pearl

After my post the other day about cover art, I see the publisher, Magus Press, has in fact announced that I'm on the upcoming list for 2008, so now I can announce it! Magus Press ( will be publishing my novelette, "Orpheus and the Pearl." It will be a standalone little chapbook, bound together with a more gruesome tale by Derek Clendening. (A little yin-yang to the pairing!) Mine is a very non-traditional zombie story, and one of love and forgiveness. I don't want to give away much more, so I had to pick an excerpt carefully. Here is where our heroine (in fairly typical Gothic fashion) finds out that something's afoot in the mansion.

"Catherine was understandably exhausted, but she was too restless to sleep, so she drew all the curtains and settled herself in the sitting room, reading one of the books there. The selection in this room was somewhat unexpected in a medical doctor’s home, as it seemed to be all literature, so she picked a copy of Jane Eyre, a story she remembered loving as a girl. After a while, when it must’ve been quite late, she heard voices in the main house, then a door opening. She heard scratching on the outside door to the west wing, and what sounded like the doctor’s voice saying, 'No, dear, not there, no. Come away to bed. You’re tired. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.' The scratching continued, then there was some unidentifiable growling, and finally Catherine jumped and sat bolt upright at the sound of a very high, loud, and sustained shriek. There was the sound of scuffling, more growling, and the door to the main house slamming shut. Then Catherine was left sitting there for several minutes that seemed so very much longer – eyes wide, heart pounding, breathing through her nose in short and silent huffs, her fingers gripping the arms of the chair as tightly as she could, until she darted to her bedroom and locked the door. "

Many thanks for David of Magus Press for taking a chance on this unusual little tale. Look for it soon, hopefully by February 2008!

The Perfect Gift!!

My December Amazon numbers are crazy, both for D2L and History Is Dead, so people must think that's what they are!! Way to go! Still plenty of time left! And with weather like today's, it's so much easier to shop online!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Slamming into us right now, and for the last 5 hours! Took me three hours to creep home from giving an exam, driving 15mph and sliding around, while being pelted with sleet that would change back and forth to blinding snow squalls!!

This would be the worst time for a mass zombie attack, as you couldn't get away. Of course, if Max Brooks is right, the cold would stop them, too.

Strangest Cover Art Story Evah!!!

I have a novelette coming out as its own little chapbook next spring. I won't say more, since the publisher hasn't announced it yet. But let me tell you about the evolution of the cover art, because it's the wildest email exchange I've had in a while!

The publisher sent me a first draft of the cover. I didn't like it. I asked my friend Bill (a world famous artist) what to do with it. He had specific suggestions that he sent back. The publisher was very accomodating, but mentioned that the artist only speaks Italian. So I thought of a friend who's fluent in Italian. Now I'll take Bill's comments, have Paul translate them, send them to the publisher to forward to the Italian artist, and see what pops out! That's a tangled web. I think it'll be great though!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spring Appearances!!

Wow - I'm in demand! I just got word that the good people at LeMoyne College would like me to present at their spring conference on "The Grotesque and the Sublime in Contemporary Culture" - Thanks!

This brings my spring schedule to five appearances in six weeks!

LunaCon (Rye, New York) - March 14-15
International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (Orlando, FL) - March 19-23
World Horror Convention (Salt Lake City, UT) - March 27-30
Religion and Literature Forum (Syracuse, NY) - April 4-5
EerieCon (Niagara Falls, NY) - April 18-20

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Conceptual Breakthrough!!

When working on a new story, one always needs one of these! Well, actually, one needs a LOT of these for it to work. Sometimes it's something huge, sometimes it's something minor that breaks a logjam. I think I just had one of the latter. It started out with something that could be really minor - what to name a character - but it got me to thinking about what race/ethnicity to make that character, which will make a HUGE difference in the story! I think a lot of other things will fall into place now!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Horror World Interview

Lots of great questions from Steve Wedel, and my attempts to answer them:

Thanks, Steve!!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Hitchens Home for the Holidays

I like how he implies that Antiochus Epiphanes (whom he never mentions by name, as it would be a tad embarrassing that his champion of enlightened secularism named himself "God Incarnate") was the embodiment of "enlightenment and reason." You know, since worshipping him and Zeus was all so enlightened.

What Antiochus and Hitchens both seem to prefer would be the establishment of a state orthodoxy that makes all particular religions interchangeably and equally meaningless and indistinct. (Antiochus thought everyone should worship Yahweh and any other gods as well as himself and Zeus, so you can't accuse him of trying to outlaw Judaism, just outlawing its particularity.) I admit that (if such an experiment were possible), it might have the advantage of getting rid of religious strife. Religious strife quite understandably frightens me and Mr Hitchens. However, the diversity of our faiths is much more a part of our democratic life than Mr Hitchens' orthodoxy. (Religious diversity and particularity are also the underlying assumptions of the anti-establishment clause.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007


So the little nozzles that spray windshield wiper fluid on to the windshield of my car stopped working. And at this time of year, with a bunch of shmutz being sprayed up off the road surface, without necessarily rain coming down to wash the windshield, it was nearly impossible to drive it home yesterday. So I take it to the dealer (where so far every repair has taken THREE visits and cost a ton of money). It takes one hour and costs $75! (Ok, 75 bucks for a little plastic gizmo is still a rip, but you know how car repairs go.) Then I go next door and have kung pao chicken for lunch for $4! And next door to that I buy 6 rolls of toilet paper for a dollar! VICTORY!!!

Top Ten!!

My good friend Brian Keene has named D2L one of his Top Ten Books of 2007!!

Thanks, Brian!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Editing D2L2

I'm going over it with DL. He's got such an eye for detail, so many sentences are improving. It's just what you want at this point in the process - tweaking. Polishing. It's good and necessary.

At the same time, I see so many amazing little confluences and parallels in this one. Zoey and Lucy? Wow, that's some parallels. Lucy and Truman? Wow, what a yin and yang. Oh - you don't know these people! HA! You will!!

I am in awe of what I was doing last summer. It's "literature," dare I say!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Finally - the Truth

Let it be known: I have been saying since she announced her candidacy that Hillary is unelectable. Now finally someone finally admits it. This from Frank Rich in today's NYTimes:

"The unspoken truth is that the Clinton machine is not being battle-tested at all by the Democratic primary process. ... neither Mr. Edwards nor any other Democratic competitor will ever hit her with the real, personal mud being stockpiled by the right. But if she’s getting a bye now, she will not from the Republican standard-bearer, whoever he may be. Clinton-bashing is the last shared article of faith (and last area of indisputable G.O.P. competence) that could yet unite the fractured and dispirited conservative electorate. The Republicans know this and are so psychologically invested in refighting the Clinton wars that they’re giddy."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Review!

Always a pleasure to see the first one!

That's not even counting the super-hyperbolic one Weston Ochse posted on Amazon:

"When I was asked to read History is Dead for a possible blurb, I was hesitant. I have to admit that there's been a lot of Zombie novels and stories published recently and I was concerned that this would be another rehash of mindless flesh eating zombie shooting. I'm pleased to say that I was wrong. This is a tremendous anthology. Although each story deserves individual credit, I especially liked the contributions from David Dunwoody and James Roy Daley. Dr. Paffenroth is a shining literary light who has stitched together an anthology of the undead that will live far beyond anything that has come before. Each entry is a marvel to behold."

This little light of mine! I'm gonna let it shine!


Triumph of The Walking Dead