2019 is off to a great start! In January I was one of the authors featured in readings at Days of the Dead in Atlanta, where I read the title story from my short story collection “I Never Meant to Start a Murder Cult” and sold several copies of the book!
And in February I attended Con-Tagion 2019, a new con in Charlotte, NC, focused on professional development for writers and other creatives. I sat through some very informative writers’ workshops conducted by Gail Z. Martin, Jeff Strand, and John Hartness, the coordinator of the con.
Selfie at Con-Tagion 2019 with friends and fellow writers Lynn Hansen, John Hartness, Jeff Strand, Jessica Nettles, and Richard Dansky.
At Con-Tagion with Nicole Givens Kurtz, whose new collection of Weird Western stories, “Sisters of the Wild Sage,” will be published this Spring!
…and with Gail Z. Martin. I’m a big fan of Gail’s urban fantasy novels (check out her latest, “Sons of Darkness”) and the gay paranormal romance/action novels she writes under the pen name Morgan Brice (check out “Badlands”).
Me drinking coffee and being cool at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in Charlotte, NC.
2018 was a great year for me as a budding author! I did my first two author readings, moderated my first-ever DragonCon panel, got to be on two DragonCon panels with my friend James Tuck, and was on a panel at Monsterama for the first time. I had 4 story publications, and I released my first collection of short stories, the horror/crime chapbook, I Never Meant to Start a Murder Cult and Other Stories.
Some highlights of 2018:
Getting involved in the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association
Reading my story “The Curse of the Spider” at Scary Fireside Stories for Halloween, on October 27th at the Lake Clair Land Trust in Atlanta. Good times and s’mores were had by all! Authors reading their spooky tales were (L-R): Lynne Hansen, Nancy Collins, me, Michael Wehunt, Gini Koch, Peter Salomon, Jessica Nettles, Jeff Strand, Amanda DeWees, and Brian Kirk.
Being on the Occult Detectives panel at Monsterama with Amanda DeWees and John Hartness:
Being on a DragonCon panel with my literary idol Katherine Kurtz:
According to Goodreads, I read 104 books in 2018. Several were multiple books by the same author: 2 by Amanda DeWees; 2 by E.J. Stevens; 2 by Katherine Kurtz; 2 by M.C. Beaton; 4 by Bobby Nash; 6 by Gail Z. Martin and her pen name Morgan Brice; and most disturbingly, 13 by Jeff Strand. A spookily large percentage of these books were ghost stories.
Looking forward to an awesome 2019!
[Updated] I was on three panels this year at the DragonCon Horror Track, including my first-ever panel as moderator. All three panels went well and were a lot of fun! Hope to see you at DragonCon 2019!
Friday 8/31, 1:00 pm, Westin, Peachtree 1-2
V-Wars (picture below)
This year, we’re helping to fill the Jonathan Maberry-sized hole in the schedule by assembling authors who have contributed to his V-Wars (Vampire Wars) anthologies.
V-Wars is coming soon to Netflix!
James R. Tuck, Dacre Stoker, Scott Sigler, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Larry Correia (moderator Darrell Grizzle)
Sunday 9/2, 2:30 pm, Westin, Peachtree 1-2
Collaborative Storytelling from Hell!
A roundtable of authors contribute to a collaborative story that is sure to put the “corpse” in “exquisite corpse.”
E.J. Stevens, Eric Asher, Shawnee Small. Darrell Grizzle (moderator David Maynor)
Sunday 9/2, 5:30 pm, Westin, Peachtree 1-2
Candles in the Night: Christians in Dark Fantasy
Authors discuss the role of Christianity in Horror & Dark Fantasy.
Katherine Kurtz, Faith Hunter, Tim Powers, Clay Gilbert, Darrell Grizzle (moderator James R. Tuck)
The Kindle version is here now, and (UPDATE) so is the paperback! Foreword by Jeff Strand and cover art by James R. Tuck! Check it out!
Here’s a preview from my upcoming short story collection, “I Never Meant to Start a Murder Cult and Other Stories.” Two of the stories will be illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Brian MacGregor from Savannah. Here’s one of Brian’s awesome illustrations! The collection will be a chapbook of horror and crime fiction: four short stories and five flash-fiction stories. All of the stories have been previously published except for one, a brand new ghost story set in the Victorian era. The collection will be available in paperback as well as eBook. I’ll post links as soon as the book is available (sometime before the end of August).
My latest flash-fiction story is all dialogue. This is my second appearance at the crime fiction site, Near to the Knuckle. Check it out here: “Gun, Hypothetical.”
My flash-fiction crime story “I Never Meant to Start a Murder Cult” is now online at Shotgun Honey. I’m proud to say that this is my second publication on this esteemed crime fiction site, following “The Bag in the Corner” from May 2016. Thank you to friend and author Bobby Nash for creating this cool graphic!
My macabre semi-autobiographical story “What My Family Should Know in the Event of My Demise” is now online at the flash-fiction site, Daily Science Fiction! Be sure to click “Display Entire Story” to see it all!
My first author reading went extremely well! The reading was on February 4, 2018, at the Days of the Dead convention in Atlanta. The two stories I read were very well received, and it was an honor and pleasure to share the panel with Jeff Strand and Nancy Collins. I read my ghost story from Mad Scientist Journal (Summer 2017) and a macabre humor piece that recently sold to a major sci-fi market and will be published soon. Several people took my author business cards and said they look forward to reading more of my work. We had a much larger audience than we expected, especially for the very last time slot on the last day of the con.
Many thanks to friend and filmmaker Lynne Hanson for this pic of the reading (L-R: Nancy Collins, me, Jeff Strand)
and this pic of (L-R) me, Jeff Strand, Days of the Dead Blue Track director Nathan Hamilton, and Nancy Collins:
Here’s my favorite photo from the con! Jeff Strand, me, and Lynn Hanson with a giant Yeti!
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
When the priest makes the sign of the cross, with ashes, on my forehead, I find these words, this reminder of my mortality, not morbid, but comforting. I am dust. I am earth. I came from the stuff of the earth and to the earth I shall one day return. I am made of the same elements as my fellow human beings, my fellow non-human beings, my fellow cats and trees and sunflowers and stars. I am connected to the Whole. I am earth, and fire, and water, and air, and spirit.
As I receive the Eucharist, the sign of the cross newly imprinted on my forehead, I feel my spirit remembering my connectedness to God, my sacred origin. The opening words of the Ash Wednesday prayer, “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made,” remind me that the feelings of self-hate I sometimes feel, those moments of self-denigration when I forget my origin in the Divine Beloved – those moments do not come from God. God hates nothing God has made.
As children of God we all have what the Quakers call “the divine spark” within us. We are all connected to God. We are all connected to God’s creation. We are all connected to each other.
Playlist for Ash Wednesday:
Harry Connick Jr.: Ash Wednesday (jazz instrumental)
Grateful Dead: Throwing Stones (“ashes ashes all fall down”)
Mumford & Sons: Dust Bowl Dance
The Low Anthem: I’ll Take Out Your Ashes
Matisyahu: On Nature
Rage Against the Machine: Ashes in the Fall
Chagall Guevera: Violent Blue
David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes
Steve Earle: Ashes to Ashes
Bruce Cockburn: Lord of the Starfields
Leonard Cohen: Anthem
Kansas: Dust in the Wind
The Byrds: Turn Turn Turn
Photo: Sunlight through stained glass window at The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta