He came home…

home

Oh. My laptop, that is. My laptop is back, complete with a new motherboard and working as good as new, that’s who came home. And less than 24 hours after it arrived, I knocked out 1500 words on a rewrite assignment ( rewriting a Lovecraft piece from my own POV) for the Advanced Horror Writing course I’m taking. The rewrite was a breeze because this laptop is perfect for writing on.

So, yes… he came home.

Who’d you think I meant?

Sleep well…

Bad stretch of road…

Downer, as we used to say in the ’60’s… I went to Best Buy to pick up my new laptop, back from repair, only to be told they tested it when it came in and it still has the same problem and won’t take a charge.

Needless to say, it’s gone back to their repair center, and I am bummed.

I’ve become very used to writing on that laptop, set it up perfectly, and enjoy the hell out of the keyboard, which is the very reason I bought it. I can work on my desktop, as I’m doing right now, but it isn’t the same.

We become used to our own way of doing things, and when everything is just right, the flow is natural, organic. I’d compare it to taking photographs with a camera you know so well that all your concentration is on the composition in the viewfinder, everything else happening naturally without the need to think about it.

That’s how well I’ve bonded with that laptop…

hpspectre

I hope they get it right this time, and get it back to me in a reasonable amount of time.

On a more positive note, I went to see the new Halloween movie on its opening weekend, and I was positively impressed with it. I wrote an opinion on Facebook:

I really enjoyed the new Halloween… let’s see if I can do this without revealing too much for those who haven’t seen it yet.

Michael Myers is more brutal than ever, and Jamie Lee Curtis is the epitome of a woman’s inner strength as Laurie Strode, Survivor. She’s sacrificed everything in her life in order to not only be prepared, but to also prepare her daughter, firmly believing that Michael is not done yet.

And, she’s right. Michael isn’t done by any stretch of the imagination, and his age (now 61) doesn’t slow him down at all. He’s a juggernaut, tearing through anything (or anyone) in his way as he heads to his ultimate goal.

There is one nit that I’d pick, though… the doctor that took up Michael’s care when Dr. Loomis died leaves a LOT to be desired in general, and his actions in one crucial scene stretch “Suspension of Disbelief” much too far, even for the most ardent Halloween fan.

Despite that scene, the character of Dr. Sartain is distinctly unlikable, and makes the memories of Donald Pleasance’s “Sam Loomis” all the more valuable to those of us that sat in theaters when the original first came out.

Beyond that nit, this is a solid story, a worthy successor to John Carpenter’s 1978 original, and brings closure to a saga spanning four decades. The final showdown between Laurie and Michael is one for the ages, and is more than worth the price of admission.

Yes, I have made space on the Blu-Ray shelf in anticipation for its eventual release… this one bears more than a single viewing.

If you’ve read this far, you need to turn off the computer, put the phone on your pocket, close the tablet, and GO SEE HALLOWEEN!

You can thank me later…

Halloween-2018-1000-97

So, I guess I’ll continue enjoying the season, watching the horror films they take out of the closet every October, jot down any new ideas that come my way and wait for my laptop to come home, as Michael did, so I can get back to work.

Sleep well…

 

Trembling With Fear

As those who follow my work know, I often contribute short stories and hundred word Drabbles to Steph Ellis and Stuart Conover for the Trembling With Fear column at the Horror Tree.

For the entire time I’ve been writing horror tales, I’ve found their site to be the best resource of all for finding markets and publishers to submit work to. I’ve had a few stories published in a number of print publications courtesy of all the hard work Steph and Stuart do for us.

There are a few different ways to help support them in their efforts. They do have a Patreon open, my fellow writers can submit their work to be included on the site to help attract new readers to the page, and now we have another option.

twf-cover-kindle

Steph and Stuart have compiled the contributions from a wide variety of authors into an anthology volume, which will drop at Amazon on Tuesday, October 16th. You’ll find short stories, one hundred word Drabbles, and dark poetry within this book, providing a wealth of reading in small, snack sized portions.

(You know… kinda like Vampire bites.)

I’ve pre-ordered my copy, and if you’d like to join me and get one for yourselves, here’s a convenient link for you. Click on over and get your copy today, won’t you?

Trembling With Fear – Year One

Sleep well…

Not the same…

Wow. We do get used to our stuff, in my case, a keyboard.

I’m typing this on my old Dell Inspiron because my HP Spectre had to go in for service, as there is a problem with the charging circuit. Adapter seems OK, battery checks good, but it won’t charge, so in it went.

It’s covered, so no cost for the repair, but the downtime… there’s the issue.

I bought that laptop on the strength of the keyboard, you see, even went out of my way to get to a store that had one on display so i could try it before telling the clerk I’d take it.

It didn’t take very long at all for me to acclimate to that keyboard, and to like it much more than the mushy feel of this Dell. By comparison, it’s like posting a sign in the shop window:

sorry sign

I tried writing a bit on this today, but… it’s just not happening for me.

Luckily, I have a TBR list to catch up on, and with it being October, no shortage of horror offerings to choose from to watch, so it appears I’ll be in standby mode for a while.

Just a little while, just till my Spectre is back on my lap, where it belongs.

Till then… sleep well!

Busy Day…

A busy day, but a good day. Started off with hot coffee and my favorite breakfast, courtesy of my wife, and then Steph and Stuart at the Horror Tree posted a brand new short of mine titled “Test Case” in today’s Trembling With Fear column.

It’s about a Baby Boomer, not quite Archie Bunker (but would enjoy a beer or two with Archie) trying to understand and make sense of what he’s become… well, click the link above and you’ll see.

As we speak, I’m in the process of setting up a new office computer. Giving these old peepers a rest, I went with the HP Envy 27″ All-In-One, with some serious specs under its hood.

HP-Envy-All-In-One

(I’ll do a photo of my desk once the dust settles…it’s all wires and computers at the moment.)

Once the parade of updates finishes, I’ll stage a network transition of all my programs and files from the Dell laptop I’ve been using in the office and hope it will finish by the time I have to start work in the morning. It’s getting crowded in there at the moment.

Once the transfer finishes, I’ll work with the new HP, and correct the inevitable glitches as I find them. It’ll be a week or so, I expect, and I’ll leave the Dell laptop “as-is” until such a time as I know I won’t need anything further from it. At that point, I’ll do a factory restore on it to return it to its new state, and find a home for it.

I’ll hope to get some writing done during the transition, especially with a seed of a new idea for a short story clanking around up there, but I’ll play it safe and at least jot some notes down while the transfer is taking place. That way, I won’t lose it if (when) I have to go into full geek mode to facilitate a smooth move onto the big boy.

Whoops, heard a sound from the office… updates should be completed, let’s go and stage the transfer!

Sleep well…

 

Almost there…

I had the good fortune of having my novella, “Spirit of the Dead” read by an author whose work I respect, and took her advice, expanding on the original work. It hasn’t quite reached novel proportions, but as a novella, has filled out nicely. (Thank you, Steph!)

That story is now in the hands of a group of readers, folks I do not know personally, but are avid readers and fans of Stephen King’s work. I felt they were in a good position to offer critiques, given that background.

Waiting…

That’s the part I hadn’t considered before embarking on this journey, yet it is part and parcel of every single piece of work. Write that first draft, then wait, step away so that the read and edit will occur with fresh eyes. Rinse and repeat. Then, once it’s ready, send it off into the world and (you guessed it), wait for feedback, whether from advance readers or the publishers to whom you’ve submitted.

I need to get better at the waiting part, I must admit.

In any case, once I get, digest, and consider the feedback from those folks, I’ll make any necessary last minute changes and prepare for an entirely new learning experience.

Self publishing! Yes, “Spirit of the Dead” will be my first foray into the publishing experience, which will expose my most significant weakness. I am no marketer, and never have been. That will be an obstacle to content with, that’s for sure.

Haunted Hut

Once Spirit is out there, I’m planning to follow it up with a collection of my short stories, titled “Thirteen”.

Thirteen Front

I’ve cobbled together thirteen of my short stories that seem to play well together, and created this collection, which will also be released by year’s end. I hesitate because a couple of these stories are currently out as submissions to various publishers, and I want to give them a fair opportunity before I publish it out from under their feet, so to speak.

Fair is fair, after all.

While I don’t think Mr. King has anything to worry about, I do feel my work is worth a read, and honestly believe folks who enjoy horror and the original Twilight Zone will find something to like between these covers. I’ve had the good fortune of having my work appear in numerous print publications, on various websites, and also narrated on podcasts.

So, I want to get it out there and see how it fares on its own merits…that is my immediate goal.

In the meantime, I’m also working on my first attempt at a novel while all this is going on… when the Muse speaks, I try to listen and pay attention.

As always, sleep well…

 

Final Prep Underway

Revisiting over and over again, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s, all in an effort to make sure I don’t screw the pooch at my first time at bat.

What the hell am I talking about?

“Spirit of the Dead”, my novella about the village of Carson’s Mill in southern Rhode Island, and also my first attempt at self publishing my own work, that’s what.

preview 1

The writing journey has been an evolutionary one, of learning so much that, as a reader, I’d never even considered, and my next lesson will be to try publishing a work of my own. I’m reading, researching, and preparing to best learn about my options, and I think I want to go with Lulu.com, having had very positive experiences with the work I’ve had them do thus far.

I’m planning a release date of Halloween Day, just because it seems so fitting. Barring any unforeseen issues, I’ll be tackling the hardest part of all between now and then.

Marketing is not my forte, but it’s a necessary evil I have to accept.

Spirit Cover New

Coming soon!

Sleep well…

Chores…

Getting some overdue stuff caught up this weekend, so writing will have to wait until my chores are done. Need to swap out a blinking monitor in my work rig, finalize a laptop reset as a gift for my wife’s aunt, and make some progress on a full website overhaul…no, not mine, this one is for these folks…

Capture

The site is taking shape nicely (if I do say so myself), next chore is to get the message form set up and functioning in it, and once that’s done, sit back and let it percolate some before I consider anything else to add or take away from it.

Once these tasks are done, I may take Steph Ellis’ advice and see about revisiting my novella “Spirit of the Dead” and possibly expanding it to a novel. That’ll only happen if the new material adds something more than word count, as the quality of the story is my only consideration.

Spirit Cover New

Back to work!

Sleep well…

Top Shelf

Having been associated with the print industry since 1973, I believe it’s fair to say I know a little about how it works.

Just received my copy of Gathering Storm Magazine, Year 2, Issue 9, and the layout, print quality, even the stock used is all high quality. This is an impressive product, and one I’m proud to be featured in!

20180905_173836

They also sourced art from a number of artists, and coupled those pieces with the stories within, which adds to the appearance:

20180905_173901

I was saddened to hear that this is to be the final issue of GSM, but am optimistic that the publishers stated they have new plans underway, and will be looking out for whatever their next venture is.

Still waiting for news on the release for EconoClash Review #2, as that should have gone to press by now. Who knows, maybe over the weekend?

We shall see.

Sleep well…

Daydream Believer…

Decided to do something different today…just finished the first draft of “Daydream Believer”, and now I’ll put it aside to percolate before I go back to it and make any changes or revisions.

What’s different is that as I typed the last word, I noticed the word count at the bottom.

1955

The year I was born.

So, as a birthday present for those who come and read these ramblings, how about we post that first draft right here for you to (hopefully) enjoy?

She never heard me coming.

Nope that miserable bitch was too busy yammering in her never-ending diatribe on the phone, just as she did each and every fucking day. I strolled up calmly behind her, flicking open the straight razor in my right hand.

As I reached around to drag the blade across her throat, I lifted my leg and pressed my knee against the back of her chair, knowing I’d need to dig deep to get through the layers of fat. As my knee hit the back of the chair, I yanked her hair back and drew the blade across her exposed throat as hard as I could.

The blade dug deeper than I’d expected and I was rewarded with an incredible spray of blood when her jugular was severed. The cordless phone fell to the ground, shattering as she gurgled, drowning in her own…

“Joe? Earth to Joe!”

“Huh? Oh, sorry. I didn’t, I mean…”

“I know you didn’t hear me. I don’t know where you go off to, Joe, but when you go there, you are gone. Listen, Sam is on the warpath about his damned numbers again, so keep yourself ready in case he pops in without warning.”

“Thanks, Julie. I think I’m on target, but I’ll check it and have it handy in case he comes around snooping. I appreciate the warning.”

“You’re welcome, but it’s not your sales I’m worried about. Don’t let him catch you thinking or daydreaming or whatever it is you do when you fade out like that. He’d go off like a cannon, especially as angry as he is today. I have to get back to my cube, but stay focused for your own sake.”

“Thanks again. Will do.”

Julie went back to her cubicle and I stood up, knees cracking. I brought my glass to the cooler and filled it with cold spring water. I took a deep sip, topped it off, and returned to my own cubicle.

I opened my calendar on the computer and checked to see if I had any calls scheduled, but found none. I opened the file of potential clients and checked the current market stats so I could adjust my spreadsheet formulas and have accurate numbers in front of me before I made my first call.

I got a recorded greeting, waited for the proverbial beep, and left a message in my best radio announcer voice, dropping the name of one of my clients that my prospect would know well, and asked if they might call me back when convenient. I knew he’d speak with my client and would likely return my call.

I began updating my notes when Sam spoke from behind me.

“Joe, I wish you could clone that smooth delivery to some of these drones. The way some of them fumble, it’s no wonder we’re in the shitter.”

“Oh, hi Sam. That’s odd, I thought we were in the black this quarter.”

“We are, but barely so. They’re pushing me for double digit gains, which we don’t have.”

“Is that realistic, especially in this climate?”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s what the head office wants, which does matter. How are your prospects looking?”

“I have a couple renewals lined up and I’m networking to see if I can expand the base before quarter end.”

“Good, good. Is everything else all right?”

“Sure, why do you ask?”

“I’ve heard you seem preoccupied these days, Joe. Just want to make sure you’re bringing your A game.”

“Everything is fine, Sam. Nothing to worry about.”

Sam nodded and backed out of the cube, making his way toward the elevator as I shook my head. He didn’t give a rat’s ass about how I was doing, he just wants to insure a steady climb in his gross margin. Miserable prick, I thought as I sat down and imagined myself walking into Sam’s office and slamming that oak door closed behind me.

I’d say nothing, just grin silently from ear to ear as I raised my hand with the claw hammer and slam that claw down into the gleaming crown of his bald head as hard as I could, laughing as his hands and feet began that spastic jitter once the signals from the brain were severed and short circuited.

“Yeah, do the dance you miserable fuck. How’s that for hitting my targets, huh? I’ve met my share of pricks over the years, but you’re the whole fucking cactus!”

My desk phone rang, startling me back to the present. Back to work.

It took some effort to get through the rest of the day. My daydreams were occurring more frequently these days, and they were so vivid, so real, that I’d have sworn I was actually doing the things I only dared imagine.

I have to keep a handle on my temper, you see. When the ex slapped a restraining order on me just before she filed for divorce, I had to make sure I didn’t give her or the courts any ammunition that would cause problems at work. As a financial adviser, I have to maintain the persona of the cool and collected professional, not given to emotional outbursts of any kind. That would tank my reputation in a heartbeat.

I do have a temper though, and it’s a raging beast. Luckily, I also have an active imagination, which has proven to be my only safe outlet. A man can’t be convicted for his thoughts, at least not yet. I did see a therapist, as ordered by the court, and he wasted no time in writing me a script for Prozac. I filled it promptly, assuming they’d be tracking it, and dutifully put the bottle in the medicine cabinet.

If I ever decide to take one, I know where to find them.

He warned me about having sociopathic tendencies, and defined those as being able to present myself in public as perfectly calm, fitting in, getting along, when all I wanted to do was carve and smash my way through the endless parade of idiots in my way.

At the time I blew it off, but as I think of it now and then, he might be onto something there. Still, I never set fires or hurt animals when I was a kid. Isn’t that what a sociopath does? That’s what they say on all the TV shows, right?

I’ve cut back hard on my drinking, limiting myself to an occasional light beer or two now and then. The last bottle of bourbon I bought three or four years ago now sits unopened in the cabinet. I wonder if the stuff gets better with age, or if it goes bad? Maybe I’ll find out one day, but not now, not when they may be monitoring.

Do I sound paranoid? Maybe a little, but I’ve never had a restraining order on me before, so I don’t know how it works or what actions they may take. All I know is that I need to keep my ass out of trouble in order to keep my career.

And that’s where my daydreams come in. In my mind, if someone pisses me off or fucks me over, I can tear them to pieces, wallowing in the pleasure of slicing and dicing, of that warm arterial spray showering me while I work.

I’ve never used a gun in my daydreams, although I do own a 9mm. It’s so much more satisfying, more personal to cut and slice or pound someone to pulp with a blunt object, to take my revenge to a higher plane altogether. I don’t own a straight razor, but I’ve frequently pictured a beautiful one, the carbon blade honed to scalpel sharpness in a hand carved stainless-steel handle.

The first time I saw that razor was in a daydream about the ex. She’d soaked me for a boob job before the split, and in my daydream, I told her she wasn’t going to wiggle the tits I paid for in anyone else’s face. No, I tied her to that ridiculous brass headboard she just had to have and used that razor to extract those overpriced bags of silicone. Once out, I sliced them open and let the thick fluid pour down on her ruined breasts.

I remember using her favorite nightgown to clean the blade and handle as she lay bleeding on the bed and then tossing the soiled garment over her face when I was finished.

Good times.

In my mind, at any rate.

Well, at least the weekend’s here. A couple days off to leave that phony smile hanging in the closet. Knock out the chores and put up my feet, that’s the ticket. Maybe tonight I’ll catch a decent movie on the tube after dinner or something. We’ll see.

Dinner. Yeah, let me scribble a list and try to get to the market while everyone is out at the beach or the park or something. Damn store gets so friggin’ crowded sometimes, you’re ready to kill something. Well, imagine it anyway.

Sure would be nice to catch a break from the screaming kids, the old timers looking lost, and the idiots blocking the fucking aisle with their carriage because they’re too busy texting on their fucking phones. I’d love to eviscerate one of those assholes, then ask for a cleanup on aisle six!

Fuck it. Let’s stand under a hot shower for as long as I can and bleed off the stress and anger, especially if I’m gonna go out. That’ll do the trick.

It’s not as good as a massage by someone who knows what they’re doing, but the hot pulsing stream on the back of my neck and shoulders helps a lot. I get so tense there all the time lately, seems like stress has become my way of life.

Yeah, that’s better. Toweling off, I walked across the hall to my bedroom to pull on a t shirt and a pair of shorts and prepared to go to the kitchen and make breakfast.

As I walked out of the bedroom I jumped when I heard the sound of hands clapping in my living room. I looked through the doorway and gaped at the impossible sight.

It was me, sitting in my recliner and slowly clapping my hands.

“Congratulations!”

“What the fuck is this? Who are you?”

“Come on, I know you’re not blind. Bad eyes, sure, but you can see.”

“How… I mean, this isn’t possible.”

“And yet, it is. Look, we’re no shrink, but there was a piece inside you they call the ID, the force behind all your daydreams. You developed that bad boy so well that it broke free… and here I am.” He held his hands out, perfect clones of my own, right down to the scars I’d acquired over the years.

I was unable to speak, just trying to take it all in, to understand. I was convinced I was either having the most realistic nightmare of my life, or I’d skipped the whole dementia step and lost my mind all at once.

As I gaped, he stood up, seeming to move easily, not suffering the aching joints I endured. He tilted his head, as a dog might do, and I do believe I heard sincere regret in his voice as he spoke.

“I owe you, you know, I really do. I mean, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even be, right? Damned shame there can only be one of us, really too bad. I’d have enjoyed your company.”

His hand slipped out of his pocket and the sunlight from the window reflected off that carved stainless-steel handle. The razor seemed bigger than I’d imagined it, having more heft, more…”

THE END

Be careful what you ask for…

DDB Cover

Sleep well…