Six Hundred Sixty Six Bottles of Blood on the Wall: New Friends and Old Friends
Last week I said I had two stories to tell and that I’d tell the second one this week unless something awesome happened. Well, guess what? Something awesome happened. But since I love you all I’m going to give you both and I’m going to try and do it fast. You’ve got writing to do right?
The awesome thing that happened was that my story “Smoke” got picked up by the horror fiction podcast known as The Wicked Library. I wrote about podcasts a while back and the host of that show, Nelson Pyles, contacted me. I was unaware of his podcast at the time. He emailed me after the blog I wrote and I checked it out. It’s fantastic. He does a great job. I decided to submit and see what happened. I sent him a few stories and he picked “Smoke” and said that my stuff is “gleefully brutal.” I desperately want to publish a book so that I can put that blurb on the cover.
I would say this even if my story wasn’t featured, but since it is I’ll put it in caps: GO CHECK OUT THE WICKED LIBRARY. It is on par with all the others that I’ve listened to and deserves more recognition.
That said, my story does happen to headline (it’s the only story, I just didn’t want to use “featured” twice in 3 sentences and couldn’t think of a synonym) TWL’s current episode. Episode 213. Nelson does a great job reading the stories, reads them in character, which is impressive considering that he reads every week. Other fiction podcasts, Tales to Terrify and Pseudopod, for example, have hosts, but said hosts rarely read the stories, they have voice actors. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s cool that Nelson does most/all of it himself. Nelson reads it and sells it and nails it every week. In addition to his vocal skills, he does a good job of mixing creepy sounds and background music to fit the tone and pace of the story. Go listen to “Smoke” and tell me I’m wrong. And then listen to all the other episodes. All that I’ve listened to are pretty damn good.
Just as an aside, ya boi here at HorrorTree, KGSL, that’s me in case you’ve forgotten, is the first author ever to bring the baddassery/obscenity so hard that “Smoke” is the only story at The Wicked Library to carry a WARNING: EXPLICIT CONTENT label. I have never been more proud and my mother has never been more ashamed.
In addition to excellent audio treatment, episode 213 also got fantastic artwork. My first cover art as a writer actually, and I’m in love with it. The artist’s name is Maddie Von Stark (@maddievonstark) and she does beautiful work every week.
I encourage you to check out my episode and some of the others. Head over to www.facebook.com/thewickedlibrary and give it a spin. You’ll probably recognize names like Jessica McHugh, C. Bryan Brown, and Rose Blackthorn as fellow Wicked Library alumni. TWL even had a story by Joe Landsdale on last month, but that one was only available for a limited time. I’m honored to add my name to that list.
If you’ve got the itch and want to hear someone read your story out loud, send submissions to [email protected] I speak from very recent and weird experience when I say that hearing your story read aloud and with such incredible production is fucking surreal. I hope it’s not too arrogant or masturbatory to say that I listened to it four times in a row that first night, pacing back and forth in this hotel room, pumping my fist, laughing and grinning ear to fucking ear. If you give it a listen, I hope you have the same experience.
My interaction with Nelson, TWL, and Maddie was nothing less than the best. I’d love to work with them again in the future. Call me anytime guys. I’m in. And I hope you all take the time to seek them out.
And here is a crude transition. This paragraph. This is it. We are shifting gears hard. Stay with me.
A couple days after I met Joe Hill I went to the bookstore. For those of you that don’t know, I’m writing this from Disney World. That’s a story in itself, but not for today. Not to mention I’ve got a million new story ideas from this trip. The “It’s a Small World” ride is the creepiest fucking thing I’ve ever experienced. That ride eats Jack Ketchum’s entire body of work for a mid-morning snack.
Anyway, before I left I went to Half Price Books (I buy new sometimes, don’t judge me) to get some new shit to take with me on the plane and to read by the pool when there were no chicks around to creep out. I got two books by Jeff Strand and a graphic novel by Garth Ennis. Those books have nothing to do with this story.
In the bookstore, I thought I recognized a guy I hadn’t seen in years. I figured I’d either be right and look cool or wrong and look like a doosh but I wanted to know. As y’all probably all know by now, I’m not scared to roll the dice.
I said something. On rare occasions I am right. This was a rare occasion.
It was an old buddy from college. His name is Kyle Johnson. He just had a story called “I am the Box, the Box is Me,” on Pseudopod about a month ago. I shared a few fiction workshops back in the day with him and another writer, Douglas F. Warrick, who will join the story in a minute.
So I’m talking to Kyle and we’re looking at the horror anthology section at Half Price Books and he’s like “Hey, holy shit,” and I’m like “what?” And then he reaches down and grabs a book off the shelf and opens it.
“Yep. I thought this looked familiar,” he said laughing. And there’s his name right in the table of contents with Jack Ketchum and Gary Braunbeck. He’s a real humble guy and the book is a few years old and it was all genuine. I was like “No shit.” I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. He said that was one of the first stories he ever sold. Man, I wish I would’ve been that serious way back then.
I ran into him at about 8:30 and the story closed at 10. We talked until they kicked us out. It felt good. Then as we were leaving he said he was going to meet Doug for a beer and invited me along.
I went. So glad I did.
Here’s the thing about writing. It’s a lonely fucking job. No one really gives a shit what you’re doing and even if they do, it’s almost impossible to explain to a non-writer. It sucks. Sure, you’ve got friends online, but at least for me, real, tangible conversations with fellow writers, especially good ones like these two are impossible to find. I jumped at the chance and we had a blast.
I won’t bore you with all the details but I’ll give you the bullet points. First off these two are best friends and they’re awesome guys. They both went to South Korea to teach English for a couple years. They’re back now, and they told me different stories about their experiences there. We also got to talk process, craft, conventions, publishing, authors we love (they both introduced me to Kealan Burke, I’m 20% into KIN and it’s awesome) authors we don’t love (I’ll take this knowledge to my grave) and how much all three of us detest the term “genre.”
Doug talked about writing and preparing his own collection “Plow the Bones” out now from Apex. I was hoping to finish it before I wrote this, but I’ve still got about three stories left. It’s incredible. Like literally. He builds worlds and uses rich language to paint powerful, beautiful, haunting and thought-provoking metaphors and darkly fantastic stories. It gets my recommendation. My Amazon review is coming soon. He promised he’d sign it for me the next time I see him. Kyle talked about co-writing with Maurice Broaddus, also known as the “Sinister Minister” for a story in a collection called “Glitter and Mayhem.” I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list. I know they’ll deliver.
It’s refreshing and motivating to spend time with other people passionate about writing. When I knew them years ago, they were and I wasn’t. I didn’t get it back then. Still don’t, at least not like they do, but I’m learning and getting more involved every day. I was always jealous of them back then. I shouldn’t have been, I should’ve just taken it all more seriously. Completely my fault.
But now I’ve got the drive and I’m still jealous of them, but it’s a good jealous. The best kind of jealous. An “I wish I would’ve gotten my shit together a lot sooner can you help me with what I missed” kind of jealous. And I couldn’t ask for two nicer, more helpful, motivating guys to sit around and have a beer and talk shop with. Even though I hadn’t seen them in years, that didn’t matter. We didn’t even really stay in touch much on Facebook and shit. A comment here and there and that was it, but that night last week, we reconnected and we plan to stay connected. We’re all pretty damn serious about this writing stuff and banding together is beneficial. Writing aside, we share interests. We talked WWE for like an hour and we laughed and we laughed.
We all live in Dayton, and there’s a lot of great writing coming out of Dayton. Shocking, but true. I hope we can stick together and keep it moving stronger, faster, better and bloodier from here.
Thanks guys, those drinks and that conversation meant a lot to me. I can’t wait to do it again.
To all of you reading this, I’m sure you all have writer friends, but if you don’t have any close to you that you can meet up with in person, try and reconnect with old ones or go out and make some new ones. Friendship goes a LONG way in writing and it’s nice to have it up close and personal as well as scattered across the world.
If you wanna make a new writer friend swing by New World Horror – Kerry G.S. Lipp or send me an email [email protected]. I won’t be a dick. And don’t forget to check out The Wicked Library, “Plow the Bones” and “Glitter and Mayhem.” Good times will be had by all.
I don’t usually sound like a marketing machine so indulge me this time and I promise I won’t be waiting in the backseat of your car.
Keep reading, keep writing, keep it real, and get me the fuck out of Disney World, (mom and dad if you’re reading this that’s a joke, I’ve had a blast, can’t thank you enough and love you with all my heart)