Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 2016 After-Action Report

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of the first month of 2016 already. 

I’ve had the best month ever on this blog ever in terms of pageviews. Book sales were decent, better than months past. I cracked 1,100 Twitter followers.

I could also stand for some “manscaping”
once I’m done losing the weight.
There were all of three days this month in which I didn’t do 100 push-ups broken into sets of 20 and 25 reps. My weight loss has stalled out, but I’m getting the hang of fasting. Losing those 10 pounds over the holiday season made a hell of a difference. At 180, still 15 lbs overweight, I have more energy than I’ve known in decades. There can be no abandonment of principle, no turning back. This feels too damn good.

There is still so much more to do. But I’m on my way. Chapter 30 of The Wrong Kind of Dead was finished last night. I’m already at page 266, four pages past the page count for Grace Among the Dead.  I can see this thing topping off at or very close to 400 pages.

I still need to get some podcasts and videos up. I’ve done some experimental shoots with the camera and was pleasantly surprised with the results. This is more progress than I made in all of 2015.

Overall, January 2016 was one for the Win column. That status could change, however, should I fail to build on this month’s accomplishments in February. Everything I do this year has to be the prologue to something better, or it never will get better.


###

Chapter 5 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Oyster Crackers” Part 6: “Elegy for the Better Part of Winter”

From the ALL-NEW, Yet-To-Be Proofed and Published FINAL BOOK of the SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER


PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 5.5: “Eat the Neighbors”

The snow quit before dawn, but the sky was still overcast, and the solar panels weren’t pulling much juice. The mood was solemn as Elyssa and I left the mother-in-law cottage to take our places at the morning assembly.

As per custom, Elyssa stepped forward to announce the date, Sunday, the twenty-second of October. Agnes said everyone should hunker down, check their pipes, and remember it’s going to get much worse before it gets better. I stood in my usual place but when I stepped forward after the announcements to approach her, Agnes held up her hand as if to wave me away and walked quickly away to the house.


Elyssa got some toiletries out of her suite, but not much else. She spent that Sunday wearing one of my shirts. I had some 90% pure dark chocolate put back. We melted it into our coffee. I thought to myself, I wonder what the dead people are doing? and Elyssa laughed with me. She didn’t know what I was laughing about, and that made it even better.



*****

The killing freezes came earlier than we’d thought. It wasn’t too bad, at first. Elyssa still kept the calendar for our camp and we had Thanksgiving at the main house, where a visibly pregnant Agnes announced over a dinner of bowshot wild turkeys that Elyssa and I should move back in. By this point Elyssa was pregnant, too, and though she was far from showing it, it was assumed.

On the coldest nights we all shared the same bed in Agnes’ room. It’s not as romantic as you might think, especially when you can see your breath in the air, and A.J. is there, too, because, good God, it’s that cold. Cold enough to crack stones, as a great American author once put it.


After Agnes gave birth to Damon, she decided I should move back to the middle room. This was barely a month ago. I’ve been spending most of my nights with Elyssa. Elyssa’s attitude is if I’m not sleeping with Agnes, I should be sleeping with her. Some nights, though, I just need a break from both.


Glory Hallelujah! The break I’ve been looking for hath manifested. Nothing like having to run for your life to put one’s interpersonal drama in its proper perspective.

*****

Agnes snaps shut her second and last suitcase. “Okay, so I’ve got the basics for me, A.J., and the baby. Can you get your things together, or do you need me to go through Elyssa’s room for them?”


“No, it’s fine, I can get them.”


“It’s no problem. If Elyssa hasn’t packed up her own stuff already I’ll need to do that for her, too.”


“It’s done,” says Elyssa. She leans against the bedroom doorway, her bare feet stretched out to the other side, her full red lips smiling. “All I need to do now is get them outside.”


“Let’s call in the boys, then. Did you get his things packed?”


Elyssa looks at me, smiling coyly. “Oh? Is he coming with us?”

“Elyssa.”


“Agnes, please,” she says. “Our man’s all taken care of.”


“That’s all I needed to hear. Now let’s get everything outside and in our trucks. What about the children?”


“I say they should keep sleeping until the helicopter comes.”


“Fine. Let’s get everything we can get out, out.”


Elyssa winks at me and goes back into the hall. I move to grab the suitcases from Agnes’ bed. “You don’t have to get those,” says Agnes. “Elyssa’s sending the boys in.”


“You said it yourself. Let’s get this stuff out. Which truck are we putting this in?”


“Dammit,” Agnes says. She looks about the room until she sees her keys. “I’ll have to unlock it,” she says, scooping them into her hand.


“Let’s go,” I say.




For the price of a happy hour drink you can enjoy many delirious hours slashing and shooting your way through the delightful hellscapes of my first two SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER books, available in Kindle and paperback from Severed Press. We commence the collapse of civilization in Bleeding Kansas, wherein our intrepid hero, Derek Grace, must survive a plane crash, combat with the undead at the local Wal-Mart, an exploding fire truck, a female hardbody assassin, and lots of walking dead people-things.

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.


I’m told it reads even better in German. This edition from Luzifer Verlag also sports a hellacious one-of-a-kind cover courtesy of ace artist Michael Schubert:
You can buy this German version stateside here.
You know you wanna.

Book 2, Grace Among the Dead, steps up the game with a tale of love and redemption, the living dead, and a flame-throwing monster truck. We’ve got an arc going from decadence to...respectability?...for our hero. As close as it gets, anyway. You should savor this big book o’ hell while it lasts, because things are about to go completely to shit.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?


They’re also available in Canada and the UK.

###

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chapter 5 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Oyster Crackers” Part 5: “Eat the Neighbors”

From the ALL-NEW, Yet-To-Be Proofed and Published FINAL BOOK of the SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER


PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 5.4: “Dark Agnes Emergent”

This was Bad Friday. While Agnes and Elyssa and A.J. were preoccupied with Dylan’s last hours, they had missed the mass burials broadcast on local TV. They had missed the screaming and gunfire as all the Final Flu victims kicked out of their winding sheets at once. 

They were well away from the nearest park accepting interments. They didn’t hear the police and National Guard use up their rounds as the newly risen pressed in on all sides. They were (so far) out of the way of the nearest horde.

However, they were still in a densely populated, single-family home neighborhood. Every one of these homes had lost one or more to the Flu. Many had gone to the city parks.


Many, like Agnes, still had sick to tend to. A few had gotten loose into the streets.

One of them was pounding at the front door.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God!” Elyssa ran through the house, turning off the lights. Agnes jumped over her son’s remains and called out to A.J. to unlock the bedroom door.

The pounding continued. Elyssa crept forward to the picture window and looked through the edge of the curtains. It was a large man, his huge white gut hanging over his soiled underwear. A woman with large chunks of flesh ripped from her shoulders and upper arms staggered up from the street, attracted to the sound of the man’s fists on the door. Two more emerged in the pool of the streetlight, following the woman.

Elyssa could hear Agnes arguing with A.J. in the back bedroom. A.J. wanted to see what was left of her brother. Agnes was having none of it. Told A.J. it wasn’t her brother. 

“I know,” said A.J. “I could hear it all through the door. I just want to see him.”

Elyssa wanted to cry out that the noise was aggravating the man at the door to pound harder, won’t they please be quiet?

A loud popping of gunfire erupted close by, maybe a street over. Tires screeched, a car crashed into something. A woman screamed. More gunfire. A man yelling. A woman screaming. The screams and yells got louder, shriller, and wouldn’t stop.

The man in the underwear backed off the front stoop. Elyssa thought he might fall backwards but he compensated by lurching forward to the sound of the crash. The chewed-up woman and her followers were already shuffling away down the street as fast as their dead feet could carry them.

Elyssa rose and turned to see Agnes and A.J. standing behind her in the thin blue light of the streetlight as it shone through the part in the curtains. “Did you see what happened?” Agnes said, whispering at last.

“No. But noise attracts them. We’ve got to be quiet.”

“We can’t stay here.”

“People are shooting at each other. These—what used to be people are out in the street.”

Agnes went to the edge of the window and peeked behind the curtain. There was gunfire from another street, more yelling, and yet another curious sound. 

Like the sound Dylan made when he got to his feet. But many voices at once.

“She stood there for what seemed like forever. She’d look back at me, or A.J. Behind the sofa, just before the hall, her son lay bleeding out on the floor. Her eyes would settle on that from time to time. Then she’d look back outside.”

The corners of Elyssa’s mouth trembled upwards. “I could see her figuring it out. She was going to get us through this. I knew because she hadn’t forgotten. She wasn’t blocking out the bad stuff, like her son dead behind the sofa. Most people would have turned that gun on themselves after having to shoot their own child. I would have.”

I glanced out the window, looked towards the main house. It stood still and dark, the lights off so what solar power collected could go to the furnace. God, I missed her.

I was startled by the touch of one slender finger on my hand. “She loves you, too, Derek. She doesn’t want you getting used to being alone.”

“I’ve been used to it for a long time, Elyssa. Sometimes I was never so alone as when I had a wife, two children, and three cats in the house.”

Elyssa hazards a second finger. “What happened last May was a terrible thing. It brought out the worst in everyone. But for some people I know, it brought out their best. Agnes is one. I met your son before I met you, and he was one.” 

Her entire hand lay over mine. “I think back on everything, how lonely it was, looking after my parents day after day, and dealing with my brother. It was over so fast, it was like it never even mattered. Now I’ve got Agnes, I’ve got A.J. I’ve got you. Agnes will have your baby, and I’ll love that child like my very own.” Elyssa’s hand squeezed. “Do you get it now?”

“What?”

“Everything we’ve been through, all the terrible things we’ve seen…it’s okay now. You notice they’ve stopped making so much noise at night now it’s cold?”

“Well, there’s that.”

Elyssa rose from her chair. Her hand upon my shoulder, she settled into my lap. As her long fingers brushed the back of my neck, I looked into clear blue eyes and saw yet another Elyssa, apart from the personalities I’d seen before. One she had brought out especially for me. I glanced towards the window, half-expecting Agnes to be looking in.

“Stop that,” Elyssa says. “I’m supposed to be here.”

“Elyssa, I’ve never cheated on my wife before. Any wife. Ever.”

“This isn’t cheating. Agnes said I can be your wife, too.”

“Dammit, this is getting weird.”

“People coming back from the dead to eat other people has been the new normal for a while now.”

“That doesn’t change—oh, hell!”

I’ll never forget the look on her face as I leaned in to kiss the bride. As the wood crackled in the stove, as the snow deepened across the vast, abandoned mountain estate, I somehow managed not to burp clam chowder into her mouth. I regard this as one of the more heroic things I have ever done, or will do.




For the price of a happy hour drink you can enjoy many delirious hours slashing and shooting your way through the delightful hellscapes of my first two SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER books, available in Kindle and paperback from Severed Press. We commence the collapse of civilization in Bleeding Kansas, wherein our intrepid hero, Derek Grace, must survive a plane crash, combat with the undead at the local Wal-Mart, an exploding fire truck, a female hardbody assassin, and lots of walking dead people-things.

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.


I’m told it reads even better in German. This edition from Luzifer Verlag also sports a hellacious one-of-a-kind cover courtesy of ace artist Michael Schubert:
You can buy this German version stateside here.
You know you wanna.

Book 2, Grace Among the Dead, steps up the game with a tale of love and redemption, the living dead, and a flame-throwing monster truck. We’ve got an arc going from decadence to...respectability?...for our hero. As close as it gets, anyway. You should savor this big book o’ hell while it lasts, because things are about to go completely to shit.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?


They’re also available in Canada and the UK.

###

Reflections Upon a Dead Television

That infernal thing was always running in the bedroom. My wife liked to have it on to fold laundry, or—God help me—fall asleep to. For the last eight years, part of my late night routine has been to go upstairs every 30 minutes or so to check if my wife is finally asleep, and cut the TV off.

Tuesday, while in recovery from dental surgery, my wife was watching the TV from the bed when it made a buzzing noise, and the picture disappeared.

It was a sign, one I immediately related to that awful night last summer when my 14-year-old cat got sick, and we thought that was it. Yes, I know it’s weird, but hold that thought.

The thing to understand about the TV blowing out is that the nearly 21-year-old cathode ray tube blew out of the Sony Trinitron. We bought this 19-inch screen TV at the Camp Zama post exchange in Japan in March 1995.

Our now grown-and-gone children watched all of their favorite cartoons and videos on this set. It survived five military moves, one in which it was dropped outright and the back casing broken. It was only then, in 2005, that I bought another television.

The Sony still worked, though, and that’s how it ended up being the bedroom television.

Incidentally, the Phillips tube television I bought to replace the Sony in the living room crapped out in five years.

Our Sony enjoyed a crisp, next-best-thing-to-digital picture on its 19-inch screen right up until 26 January 2016. When it was done, it winked out, no lingering electronic Alzheimer’s or snowy senility to telegraph its demise. I expect it’s outlasted all the plasma flatscreens. Remember plasma?

The TV shouldn’t have lasted this long, but it did, and now it’s time to move on. For God’s sake, I shouldn’t miss this thing, although I sort of do. “Sort of,” because I know it’s the Times Past this old plastic box represents that I really ache for. These things are gone forever/Over a long time ago/Oh yeah. Suck it up, move on.

It’s okay to miss the cat, though. Right? Last summer we had a scare with our 14-year-old Otis. When animals who normally won’t leave you alone refuse to be by your side and leave for dark corners after carpeting the carpet in vomit, it can go only one of two ways, and the odds favor dying. We don’t know what the hell got into Otis, we only know he was better in the morning. And I realized that night just how spoiled-stupid I am in regards to pet mortality.

Otis turns 15 sometime in May. He could easily die this year. If not this year, then the next. Then again, he might make it a full 2o. He’s dying, though. As are the other three cats we have. It’s a matter of years, and that’s if our luck holds, and none of them get cancer or something like that.

It is the way things are. Suck it up and move on. For God’s sake, some people have to bury their children; what the hell are we crying about here?

Life and life only, asshole. That’s what we’re crying about. A big part of that is letting things go. I have a harder time dealing with it than most people. Yeah, I know.

Entropy is part of the natural order. Watching ourselves fade, break, and crumble with age.

Like this neighborhood.


I’ve been having reservations about moving back to South Carolina. The logistics, for one, are very daunting when you have little to no money to spend. I know we’ll lose at least one of these cats in the 12-hour-a-day, two-day drive to—where? 

I don’t know the exact town or neighborhood, but I’m sure it will be a place where I’ll just sit in a small room like I do here, and write and surf the Internet. It’s what I like to do. I’ll be doing it someplace else, that’s all.

Yes, I’ll be able to more easily visit friends. But my daughter and son will stay behind in Colorado. One thousand, seven hundred-fifty miles or so behind. 

Frankly, given that, the horrible weather in South Carolina over the past year, and other considerations, I’m leaning hard towards the idea of staying put.

In Colorado, that is. We can’t stay in this house. We can’t stay in this neighborhood. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here is the line that comes to mind every time I step out on one of my walks. It’s not just that the bright, happy young families with small children are gone. The roads are cracked, the sidewalks are breaking, and I don’t see any of this getting fixed, ever.

One thing at a time, then. 

Our broken things will be carried out. We’ll have to hope for the best with the cats. I have to finish this last book, and make it break big so my wife and I can find a safe, comfortable place to bury our cats one by one while waiting for each other to die.

It’s come to that. And I should be grateful I’ve come this far. Grateful I still have a chance to make something, anything happen.

Suck it up and move on. I’ll keep telling myself that until it finally sinks in.


###

Friday, January 29, 2016

More Roadside Attractions in the Zombie Apocalypse

Which can only mean more from Book 2 of The SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER, Grace Among the Dead. This is your final warning.


Derek Grace, our titular Dead Silencer, is fleeing what’s left of the invaders of his safe house and the things they drew towards them in the course of their noisy invasion. Just because it’s middle-of-nowhere Colorado ranch country doesn’t mean you’re at all safe. People did live out here, once.

The gunfire is loud enough to wake the dead. Here they come, pushing through the littered, overgrown fields, limping up the highway, homing in on the sounds of desperate, frightened food. 
Deputy Grayson’s best bet is to get everyone into the house. That is, assuming they really want to live for another hour in a situation that still ends with them being eaten alive. I can see the former deputy barking orders at his wife as she shrieks and weeps, his children freeze in terror, and Big Jim blissfully craps his diaper. They’re doomed, no two ways about it. 
I swerve among the dead crossing the road, their yellowy flesh scraped and torn by their progress though vast fields of nettles and barbed wire. I never knew so many people used to live out here, but judging by the numbers I see staggering through the overgrown pastures, it’s enough to make a good sized mob. A horde, even. 
I slow and duck left down one of the dirt side roads. I pass a gaunt woman of indeterminate age in a pale blue nightgown. I can’t see any wounds, so I wonder if starvation killed her. She might even be one of the Original Risen, a Final Flu fatality. The latter seems most likely, given how she’s dressed for bed. 
There’s something about her face. I ease my foot from the accelerator as I approach. 
She doesn’t have the blood-beard. She has yet to feed. 
She knows what the gunshots mean, though. She glances over her shoulder as I pass, but she’s shuffling forward as fast as her legs will carry her. I put my foot back down and tack towards the middle, lest anything stumbles out of the tall grasses to the road.

There’s love and redemption ahead for our wounded warrior of the post-apocalyptic wastes, but he’s still got a mess of living dead to take care of first, along with some ornery humans. Read all about it from the beginning while I finish the third book in the series, which will actually manage to top the Battle of Wal-Mart, the exploding fire truck, the weaponized undead behemoth, the writhing zombie parts in the trees, the monster truck, and all the other crazy stuff I’ve got going on in Bleeding Kansas and Grace Among the Dead. Seriously, I need to get back writing The Wrong Kind of Dead so I can see what totally insane shit is about to happen next.

###

Roadside Attractions in the Zombie Apocalypse

A particularly grim excerpt from Book 2 of The SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER, Grace Among the Dead


SETUP: Well, let’s just say it’s still early in the narrative and Derek Grace is leaving the scene of something he’s going to need serious (as opposed to ludicrous) redemption from, in this “Tale of Love and Redemption, of the Living Dead and a Monster Truck.”
I drive away. In my rear view mirror I see Deputy Grayson screaming at his wife as the dead cowboy and his companion close the distance. He’s opening the door to his cruiser and pulling the shotgun from its rack. His wife is trying to start the van, but it seems the slug that took out the tire damaged something else. 
Crossing the little bridge over the creek, I nearly hit three ghouls stumbling over to check out the commotion. One of them used to be a little girl, judging by what’s left of the dress hanging on her scabbed-over bones. 
You don’t often see undead children, but when you do, it’s a mess. Not having a lot of mass and meat to begin with, they’re usually thoroughly gnawed over, if not ripped apart.
The two used-to-be young men reach towards my open window high on the truck, moaning through their dried blood-beards in frustration. The little girl-thing, though, she’s all business. She’s zeroed in on the screams and small arms fire of the feast ahead.
I pass another group of five making their way to the house, then a group of three, and one lone walker as I make my way to US 24 and ride off into the sunset. I’d pop a few of them, but I need to find a place to get settled before dark.

...and there you have it. A little #FridayFeeling, as we know it in the zombie apocalypse. Everyone stock up and stay safe. Not from the zombies, but from the spell of weather we’ll have blowing in this weekend. The worst of the winter is just ahead of us—and it will be just as quickly behind us, so I’ll keep working. While you’re waiting around for me to finish my third book, you could pick up the first two. It’s going to be a great weekend for hot chocolate and zombie-slaying.

###

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chapter 5 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Oyster Crackers” Part 4: “Dark Agnes Emergent”

From the ALL-NEW, Yet-To-Be Proofed and Published FINAL BOOK of the SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER


PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 5.3: “When Elyssa Met Agnes”

It was dark and still outside, none of the usual sounds of traffic and nocturnal activity you don’t even notice until they’re gone. It would be the last quiet night Elyssa or anyone would know for a while. Still, she couldn’t sleep. She’s not sure anyone did. 

As the pale pre-dawn light bled into the windows, they peeled off their sweat-damp sheets to find Dylan still in his coma, but restless. Attempts to get pills into him resulted in soaked pajama fronts and sheets. Elyssa gasped as the water glass hit the floor. It didn’t break, but she realized as she picked it up that they would be in a very bad way if anyone needed stitches. She remembered how they turned away her father at the hospital the night before. 

Elyssa changed the sheets while Agnes sat on the floor, her back against the wall, cradling her boy in her arms. She brushed back the strands of hair on his forehead with the tips of her fingers, as if his skin was almost too hot to touch. Elyssa imagined it was. 

She looked on as Agnes took her time cleaning him up, changing his underwear, wiping him down with baby wipes. Dylan was very pale; he hardly seemed to breathe. When Agnes asked Elyssa to bring some towels from the linen closet to put on the bed she nearly tripped on the wet sheets spilling from her arms. She had wanted to run from the room and run back. She caught herself on the tall dresser, nearly splitting her own chin open. Elyssa thought of stitches again.

“Stop worrying about me,” Agnes said. “I’ll know when he’s gone. Now get the towels so I can put him back in bed.”

Elyssa gathered the wet sheets back in her arms and eased out the door. She dropped them off in the laundry nook before rushing back into the hall to find the linen closet. It took less than a minute to do, but for Elyssa it might as well have been an hour.

She came back into the bedroom to find Agnes standing by the bed, Dylan still in her arms. At five, he was nearly half the size of his mother, his legs dangling almost comically to one side as Agnes cradled him. Except these were the pale, still legs of a dying child. 

“The look in her eyes as I came in,” said Elyssa. “Like, ‘what took you so long,’ but she was glad I was there. I spread the towels on the bed. Agnes laid him down in his underwear and left the top sheet off of him. Poor Dylan was so hot you could feel it standing over the bed.” Elyssa’s face clouded. “Like Daddy.”

Agnes called A.J. into the room and they all, Elyssa included, kissed him one at a time on the forehead. “It was goodbye. I was going to hug Agnes but she put her arm out and said for me and A.J. to follow her. I closed the bedroom door behind me on the way out. I wanted to lock it, but I didn’t. I was getting scared again. What would we do when he came back?”

Elyssa and A.J. followed Agnes back to her bedroom, where she took a shoebox from the shelf over the clothes rack in the closet. Wrapped inside white gift box paper was a .45 pistol. It was the gun Dylan’s father had shot himself with shortly upon returning from his latest deployment to Afghanistan. 


*****

“Goddamn it, Elyssa,” I said, “you go any further and I swear I’ll throw you out that door. Agnes already told me all she wants me to know about her husband’s suicide.”

“All she did was mention it was her ex-husband’s gun before she took the box to the breakfast table off of the kitchen. She told me to watch her while she cleaned it, to make sure she did everything she said she was doing as she did it. It hadn’t been cleaned since the police gave it back to her. She was talking herself through this because it had to be right.” 

Elyssa made as if to reach out for my hand again. She stopped herself. “Agnes understood,” she said. “I wasn’t sure up until then, but when she said what she said, and the way she said it, I knew we were going to live.”

Agnes was getting the last piece back on the .45 when there was a large thump from Dylan’s bedroom. “She stopped for maybe a split second. She put her finger to her lips, and we waited to see if Dylan was coming out.”

Agnes called her son’s name and heard the knob on the door turning. At that moment she slipped the .45 behind her into the waistband of her jeans. “I was like, Oh God, oh God, I thought she was smarter than this!” said Elyssa.

The door was yanked open. Dylan slapped a pale hand on the door jamb and steadied himself. Elyssa realized he’d been on his back for at least 48 hours, so, naturally, he’d be wobbly. The child made weird, hissing, slobbery noises in lieu of breathing, as if he was relearning that, too.

The thing that had once been a little boy moved its head up and down, and from side to side. He didn’t seem to actually see anything. But when he faced down the short hall, across the living room to the breakfast nook, he charged forward.

Agnes reached up and grabbed his arms before they could lock around her. Dylan’s little baby teeth seemed to be trying to stretch past his tiny lips to get at his mother’s flesh. Elyssa could think of nothing to do but whimper, but the sound caused Dylan to turn its head and hiss at Elyssa. Agnes got to her feet, still holding on her little boy’s arms. Elyssa whimpered louder as Agnes raised her left foot, planted her heel into her child’s chest—and, letting go of his arms, kicked out as hard as she could.

He made a pathetic, whining noise as he tumbled backwards across the floor. Whatever emotions this evoked were cut short as he pulled up to all fours, this time making a sound like something no child, human or otherwise, should make. 

“Dylan!” Agnes called out one last time.

The thing on the floor wearing Dylan’s underwear and a monster’s face gurgled promises of murder in the back of its throat. “Oh, who am I kidding?” Elyssa remembers Agnes saying. She slid the .45 from her waistband as the child-thing rose slowly from its knees.

“Mom?” A.J. called out from behind the master bedroom door. 

The little boy hissed and turned towards the sound.

“Oh, no,” cried Agnes. “You look right here, you little shit.”



But the thing didn’t look over until Agnes came down the hall after him, half-crouched in shooter’s stance, the barrel of her pistol straight up, and ready to drop. “It started coming towards her. She made sure to lead it away from the bedroom door. Almost all the way out of the hall. And then that huge explosion, and her little boy’s head…disappeared.”

Immediately after, through every side of the house, through the very ringing in their ears, an unearthly moan filled the room. Elyssa tried to imitate it for me. She didn’t have to. Everyone knows how the dead react to the sound of gunfire.



For the price of a happy hour drink you can enjoy many delirious hours slashing and shooting your way through the delightful hellscapes of my first two SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER books, available in Kindle and paperback from Severed Press. We commence the collapse of civilization in Bleeding Kansas, wherein our intrepid hero, Derek Grace, must survive a plane crash, combat with the undead at the local Wal-Mart, an exploding fire truck, a female hardbody assassin, and lots of walking dead people-things.

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.


I’m told it reads even better in German. This edition from Luzifer Verlag also sports a hellacious one-of-a-kind cover courtesy of ace artist Michael Schubert:
You can buy this German version stateside here.
You know you wanna.

Book 2, Grace Among the Dead, steps up the game with a tale of love and redemption, the living dead, and a flame-throwing monster truck. We’ve got an arc going from decadence to...respectability?...for our hero. As close as it gets, anyway. You should savor this big book o’ hell while it lasts, because things are about to go completely to shit.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?


They’re also available in Canada and the UK.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Motivation, Guest Speaker Pastor Friedrich Nietzsche

I imagine when people first hear about Nietzsche’s concept of the Will to Power, they can’t help thinking of a cartoon villain trying to take over the world. If one gets past the initial four-color dramatic punch of the word “power” and reflects further, one might associate the Will to Power with an ambitious corporate ladder climber, or a super-entrepreneur who can’t stop acquiring markets, businesses, land, etc. 

For our particular megalomaniacal purposes, let’s apply the following passage from Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist to how it feels when you lose another three pounds despite feeling hungry all the time, or write another page despite the burning in your eyes, or get a good workout in despite wanting to give it all up and lie on the sofa watching Netflix:

What is good? All that augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.
What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness.
What is happiness?The feeling that power increasesthat a resistance is overcome.


Overcoming my personal Will to Laziness by doing anything is a victory for me, as it is for most people.


Maybe for you it will.
However, it is important to note that, at the core of the laziness we so enjoy berating ourselves and (especially) others for is fear. Fear of success seems absurd on its surface, but I’ve seen it at work. Success is feared because it means change. Change requires adaptation. What if I can’t adapt to this alien new thing? What if it requires quitting something I love?

It’s easier to say diets don’t work anyway, the book market is already saturated with these kinds of stories, I’ve got a million billion people I’ll be competing with in this venture, so I won’t bother—and you shouldn’t either!

It’s the Will to Power that dismisses these defeatist attitudes, and makes you feel damn good doing it. 

So who doesn’t like feeling good? Oh, we could all name some people. We’re not them, though. Are we?

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

State of the Apocalypse: Beginning the Last Week of the First Month

Some more of that “observational Tourettes” I mentioned in the logline. Don’t mind me, I’m nuts.


It’s been a rough start. Most people will remember the last week of December 2015 and the first weeks of 2016 as the Great Die-Off, when people in music fell away from us in bunches, from leading men like Scott Weiland, Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey, to the drummer for Mott the Hoople, and many others. It does bear pointing out that this is 2016, and these legends and their sidemen of 25, 30, 40, and 50 years ago have to leave us sometime. 

If you want to really depress yourself, imagine who might be the last great name left. This doesn’t have to be limited to music, either; think of your favorite actors from those classic movies they’re remaking every year. One day the last of the Greats will be gone, and the dead pool will be betting on whether Taylor Swift or Nikki Minaj will croak first

I take some comfort knowing I may not live to see such gray and desolate times.

The lousy weather back east once again makes me question moving to South Carolina. This winter hasn’t been bad at all here in Colorado Springs. No, get me out of this declining neighborhood and into something stable and thriving (better yet, in the country), and I’ll be good.

For all the distractions in the media, all those heavily promoted non-controversies we will not dignify with mention, it hasn’t been too bad on the home front. If I’ve let the blog go without updates for days at a time, it’s because I’ve been on fire with writing The Wrong Kind of Dead. These last couple of nights have been exhilarating.


Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet was a childhood
favorite of mine.
The plot is advancing, and my characters are taking on layers and dimensions I never expected to see. I don’t feel like I’m running a puppet show (if I am, it’s a badass ultraviolent Gerry Anderson Supermarionation) so much as I’m directing actors in a film. Derek, Agnes, Elyssa, Brother Christopher, Ethan...before, they weren’t much more than names with attached characteristics and utilities on my monitor. Now I see their faces. I hear their voices.

Of course, I could simply be losing my mind. Since I dropped my last ten pounds, it feels like the thin fog that was always present in my head, holding me back, has cleared away. Intermittent fasting, as I’ve been doing, will do trippy things to the head.

As it is, I’m productive, and sleeping better than I ever remember. I’ll stay this course.
I mentioned on Facebook that this was what it felt like trying to write throughout October and November. Actually, this pretty much described most of 2015. It wasn’t until around Christmas that the wood in the metaphorical door began to give.


I’ve got over 1,100 Followers on Twitter now, and have been flattered to get picked up by people with blue checkmarks next to their names, for what all that’s worth. I’ve got cargo container shiploads of authors on my Authors list, although it’s maybe three or four of them who are assiduous about re-Tweeting promotional stuff. I can’t judge; I need to work on that myself. As I’ve said early and often, you have to give Twitter love to get Twitter love.

As Twitter traffic drives the blog, it would appear I’m getting enough such love to be on track for my best month ever in terms of pageviews. Also, people have given themselves permission to buy my books. I’m by no means rich and famous yet, but I’m gaining momentum. I feel like a little kid in a red wagon going down a hill hollering, Faster, faster!

I’ve got to meet my improving luck halfway. There is always so much more to do. Sure, it’s been a grim month. But there was much good to harvest, too. The best, as always, is yet to come.


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