Monday, March 12, 2018

Interview at Cedar Hollow Reviews

Check out The interview I did at Cedar Hollow Reviews, a great horror blog.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Avocado and Eggs (Part 2)

Another successful writing retreat is in the bag. As I mentioned in part one of Avocado and Eggs, we wound back up in a Panera for our writing retreat but we changed locations. But there were more avocados to come. This time around we set up shop in Edison, New Jersey. There was a method to the madness in choosing this location. Allow me to explain.

I can see a pattern arising here when we plan these writing retreats. We choose the location based upon the way we'd like to reward ourselves for hunkering down and writing together for the morning. The first time we were going to reward ourselves by going out for a few beers at a local brewery down the Jersey Shore area (but as you'll read in the first of this series, that plan didn't pan out.) This time around we figured we would reward ourselves with a trip to Vintage Vinyl. Vintage Vinyl is practically a legendary record store known for stocking classic and collectible vinyl records along with a menagerie of rare, indie, import and bootleg music on all types of mediums. If you're into music, particularly punk and metal, it is nearly impossible to browse the store and not walk out with some sort of gem.

Two hoodlums outside Vintage Vinyl

Chuck Buda had ulterior motives though. So, after shacking up in Panera for four hours writing our hearts out we headed down the street to Vintage Vinyl for our reward. Back when Chuck and I first hitched up to do with published writer thing, he got it in his head that he wanted to do a book signing at Vintage Vinyl. I understood where he was coming from, we write horror and horror and metal are connected at the hip. To be honest, it would be cool to do a book signing there but the place just isn't geared toward books. At least, that's how I saw it but Chuck had this dream for over a year now and he was determined to march into Vintage Vinyl today and demand they carry our books and set up a book signing in the process. Who was I to piss on his dream?

So Chuck and Tim Meyer and I entered Vintage Vinyl like three tiny phallises and perused the store. It had been many years since I last set foot inside the place. I was curious to see how they were still conducting business in the age of digital music. The truth is, inside Vintage Vinyl you'd never know digital music was a thing. There are rows and rows of CD's (new and used) the walls are adorned in a dazzling display of records that would bring any serious collector to their knees in homage to the spectacular offerings. And, to be honest, there was a book shelf. Fuck me running. The books though were all biographical type things from musicians like Chuck Berry, Tom Petty and Scott Ian among them. No fiction in sight. Still, I'm not going to shit on Chuck's dream. Hey, ya never know.

Inside the hallowed isles of Vintage Vinyl

So we all made some selections. I, by the way, picked up a CD from a band called Tokyo Motor Fist. The name of the band is what caught my eye. I picked up the CD and flipped it over to check out the back and saw a photo of the band. That's when I was sold. The band is made up of very Jersey-centric rock stars reassembled into a supergroup of sorts. On guitar is Steve Brown from Trixter and Ted Poley from Danger Danger is on Vocals along with Greg Smith who played with Ted Nugent and Chuck Burgi who is currently Billy Joel's drummer. All Jersey guys. Way cool. As for the CD, well it sounds like what you think it would sound like a Trixter/Danger Danger mashup. Cool if you're into that sort of sound. A great find if you ask me.

New Jersey Supergroup Tokyo Motor Fist

We paid for our purchases and Chuck caught the ear of one of the bad ass looking dudes manning the front counter. He started his pitch as I was paying for my purchase so I didn't hear how it started out but by the time I had wondered over I was able to hear the answer. Turns out they would be open to putting books on the shelves on a consignment basis. The rub, they'd only do my books, The Shocker Trilogy, because they had something to do with metal and/or music. As any consignment goes, it would be my responsibility to check in periodically if anything sold and to claim my part of the money or to see if the books had moved at all. He kept pointing out I could come in and pull them from consignment any time I'd like which I took at his subtle hint that he didn't think the books would move.

I pretty much agree with the guy. But he was also quick to point out some people like to put their stuff up for consignment and just let it ride out whatever time on the shelves as nothing more than exposure of having it out there. So, the option is there. I'll have to debate myself on the pros and cons. At least its not a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can head over there if I decide to go in on the opportunity. We shall see.

After Vintage Vinyl we still thought it would be a good idea to reward ourselves with lunch and perhaps a beer. So we drove a bit further up Route 1 and went to Jose Tejas, a Mexican cantina that is always crowded and with good reason, the food there is always on point. We waited and snickered at Chuck being impatient five minutes into our promised twenty minute wait for a table. We were seated in a very reasonable amount of time considering the enormous crowd waiting for a table. We had some Mexican yum-yums and perhaps a cerveza or two.

Swordfish Tacos, Grilled Avocado and Grazing Portion

All in all, another successful writing retreat. I am really enjoying doing these sporadically. There is no doubt it helps my output a great deal. When we are all sitting around and the other guys are tapping away when we might normally take an innocent five minute break, it makes us keep writing that story. I wrote nearly 2500 words in four hours. That's the kind of numbers I was getting when I was briefly unemployed.

So until the next retreat and reward, hope I've entertained and/or inspired you to get social with your friends and let yourselves be creative in the company of one another no matter what it is you are creating.

And let me know if you think I should get some copies of the Shocker Trilogy into consignment at Vintage Vinyl in the comments below. I'd love to know what you would do in my position!

Avocado And Eggs (Part 1)

Once again, Central New Jersey has become the cradle of horror fiction. I find myself back at a Central Jersey Panera writing the morning away. It's a different Panera this time. It's a different view and the company has changed a tad as well. At the behest of my writing guru, Chuck Buda we have assembled once again to write in the company of one another. This time the uber-pretty Tim Meyer was able to get out to join us.

I like my coffee like I like my fiction, in a cup.

I was able to jump right into the writing the morning. Im taking a moment to write up this blog post during one of my little breaks. The other two gents are busy tapping away at their work so I won't interrupt them for now. 

Chuck has the earbuds in and he's playing air guitar furiously and flashing the devil's horns at his computer screen where he's supposedly writing erotica scene's inspired by my libido. Nice!

Chuck is gettin' all sassy up in this Panera.

Tim has been in the zone, writing non-stop since he polished off his breakfast sandwich.

Speaking of breakfast sandwich, that's what this post is ultimately about. See, I got the same exact sandwich that Tim and and it's also the same exact sandwich that I got at the previous Panera writing retreat. An avocado, egg white and spinach sandwich on sprouted grain bread. Fuckin' fancy right? It tastes pretty damn good and I'm fairly certain that it has more nutritional value than Mr. Buda's enormous (and I'm positive, decadently delicious) cinnamon roll.

Tim is a little too excited about writing the evisceration scene.

I've heard like a bazillion writing blogs, podcasts and shit talkers say that a good piece of writing advice is to do things to make it a habit. Well, not this hyper nutritious, super duper yummy and highly snooty sounding avocado, egg white and spinach on sprouted grain bread has become my writing habit. 

All hail the writing fuel!

What do you fuel up on to write? I HAVE to know. Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Kickstart My Fart [Part 2]

How'd it go? Depends on who you ask I suppose.

In case you're not up to speed. This morning Chuck Buda and I sat down at a Panera Bread in Central Jersey to conduct a writers retreat of sorts. We were originally supposed to have author Tim Meyer join as as well, but as you'll find out if you haven't read Part 1, things changed just a tad.

The long and short of the plan is that we would spend the morning writing in a sociable setting utilizing good company and motivational chatting to kick our writing output into high gear. If all went well, we would treat ourselves to a pint or two at one of New Jersey's many local breweries. Sounds like a good way to spend a Sunday, don't you think?

The music ambiance is terrible here.

So, how'd it go? I enjoyed the hell out of the experience. It was the first time I wrote in a social situation. I was surprised to find it wasn't very distracting. Chuck and I chit chatted a bit while we ate some breakfast. Once I put away my breakfast sandwich, I popped open the laptop and got to work.

I started out by writing the blog post from this morning. I like to use the blog format to get my mind wound up into writing gear. It worked like a charm. After snapping a few shots for the blog and posting it up, Chuck and I engaged in some more writerly banter. Then it was time to get into the main project.

Normally I try to use a kitchen timer and write in 15 minute bursts but since we were trying this casual writing situation, I skipped on the timer and figured I would write in a burst that lasted as long as it would last.  I spit out a good chuck of words and I really have no clue how long the burst was.

Chuck struggled to find the words today.

I refreshed my cup of coffee and got into some more writerly conversation with Chuck. Between writing sessions we talked about what we were working on, our approaches to self-publishing and even some podcast chatter as well. It was nice, I felt productive even when I wasn't tapping away at the keys.

It went back and forth between writing and talking for about three hours. By noon I'd written better then 1500 words (never even kept accurate count from where I started to where I ended.) I could see Chuck was tapped out as well. I suggested either changing locations or grabbing lunch elsewhere or even getting to a brewery a bit early.

Chuck said he just wasn't feeling up to much else on the day. I was cool with that. We'd spent three hours together. We'd done what we set out to do even if there were some bumps in the plan. We both agreed it is something we should do again sometime soon.

Lots of writing: Happy. No beer: Sad.

So when our schedules clear and the Meyer household is back in good health, we'll once again assemble and write the next Great American Novel around a table at a cafe somewhere in New Jersey.

And I'll be sure to bore you with all the details as a selfish writing exercise. Until then keep reading and keep writing.

Kickstart My Fart [Part 1]

Okay, so it's not quite what we planned but we're still dedicated to the cause. I'm sitting in a Panera Bread looking across the booth at the half-sexy horror writer, Chuck Buda. We were supposed to be in Ocean, NJ in a similar setting but our writing compatriot, Tim Meyer but he had to bow out at the last minute as the plague of pandemic that has America in its grips may have struck they Meyer household. 

Order of sexiness from L to R: Chuck Buda, Frank J Edler, Tim Meyer

Chuck was already en route so he peeled off the asphalt monster known as The Garden State Parkway and rerouted to a location a little closer to where he was on his journey to south Jersey. As you already know, we're in Sayreville, the cradle of independent horror writing in New Jersey, at least for today.

It's all Chuck's idea. He wanted to get together with Tim and I and do a sort of writer's retreat. Chuck has been struggling to find his groove like Stella. To be honest, I'm in a similar boat. Life is just consuming far too much valuable writing time. When you get out of your writing rhythm it's easy to start procrastinating and putting it aside and tell yourself you'll get to it later. And later never comes. 

So the great Buda is thinking if we break the cycle and get together, roundtable style it will invigorate and inspire the writer within us to double down and get back into action. I like this. I've never written in the company of others before. Writing is typically a solitary effort. This makes it social. And if feels good, like acrylic nails tracing the contours of your back. 

I housed that hipster breakfast

Well, this blog is the first thing I'm doing now that I've put a hipster worthy avocado, egg white and artisan cheese sandwich on sprouted grain bread into my tummy. The coffee is hot but getting steadily colder as I ignore it and focus on the words. That's good. Cold coffee is a great indication that I'm in the zone.

So this little exercise is over. It's time to peck away at the more important words. Please excuse my selfish little indulgence on the blog this morning. I hope you get some measure of entertainment out of it and please, share your little tips, tricks or hacks for getting yourself into the zone of whatever it is that you keep holding yourself back from.

I'll check in a little later and let you know how it goes. If we do well we've promised ourselves a trip to the local brewery!

Chuck is in the zone!

P.S.: Miss ya Timmy!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Year In Reading 2017

Like many, I enjoy reflecting on the many titles I've read over the past year. Thank goodness for where I can actively track the books I've read over time. As has become tradition, I'd like to present to you my notable reads for the year 2017. Sure, everyone is doing it but here's my hook: These are the books I've read and enjoyed in 2017 but were not necessarily published this year.
The fact of the matter is, I probably read more books not published in each given year than those that are published in the current year. I'm always impressed with those who focus on reading mostly new books. Of course, this is coming from a chronically slow reader. There are just so many great books out there and even if I were a fast reader, there are just too many great books to get to that you couldn't possibly get to in any given year. 

So, let's get on with my list of notable books I've read in 2017! These are listed chronologically in order read from January through December.

  • THE HOTTEST GAY MAN EVER KILLED IN A SHARK ATTACK by Douglas Hackle (2016) Douglas Hackle: I started the year off reading  Douglas Hackle's first long form story because I'd seen so many other fans of Bizarro say this was a strong contender for top Bizarro book of the year. Ya know what, they were right! This is a jolly good story about a sentient sled, the detached arm of a famous rock star, a polar bear-headed keytar player and a not-so-hot gay guy who take off on a road trip of epic proportions. It is as awesome as it sounds!

  • TANUKI TANGO OVERDRIVE by Arthur Graham (2016) Arthur Graham:  Arthur Graham is an author and editor that's been in the bizarro game for quite sometime. Since stepping away from Rooster Republic Press he's gone on to edit the Horror Sleeze Trash Zine as well as focus more on his own writing. Tanuki Tango Overdrive was a fun romp that took me by surprise. It's a funny, over-the-top action adventure similar to A. Lee Martinez. Check out this hidden gem for a good laugh. Oh yeah and Tanukis are real and they have giant balls. Really!

  • THE NIGHTLY DISEASE by Max Booth III (2016) Perpetual Motion Machine:  Originally published by the now defunct DarkFuse and since reissued by Perpetual Motion Machine, THE NIGHTLY DISEASE was another book I made a point of reading due to all the hype I'd seen the previous year on this darkly funny tale of life as a hotel night auditor. This is the type of book that takes you behind the scenes of a job you never knew could be so interesting. Okay, so, maybe author Max Booth III punches up the action from the true, ordinary and mundane night to night life on the job. But, if you've read Confession of a Hotel Night Auditor blog then maybe you realize there is an uncomfortable amount of truth to this dark, bizarre thriller.

  • THE FIRST CUT by Chuck Buda (2016) La Cigolli Publishing:  Every year there seems to be at least one book I read that I enjoy even thought it has a lot of technical flaws. This year, Chuck Buda's The First Cut is that book. I loved the story and the characters in The First Cut. This is a very graphic, sexually perverse and violent story. It also represents a maturing in the storytelling skill of the author. I gave it three stars at first because of a few technical aspects that I felt hurt the overall reading experience. However, in the end, many months later this book still sticks to me. I can't wait to read on further in the series and see how it all plays out.

  • HOME IS WHERE THE HORROR IS by CV Hunt (2017) Grindhouse Press:  CV Hunt is on the list again this year after winding up on last year's list with my uber-favorite, Ritualistic Human Sacrifice. I didn't think Hunt could follow-up such a strong book but Home Is Where The Horror Is is as nearly as strong an effort as the aformentioned book. This is a very real, very visceral story with vivid characters and a rather unique monster. Great horror and a book actually published in the year I read it! This one stuck to my ribs as well since reading it.

  • HUSK by Rachel Autumn Deering (2016) Tiny Behemoth Press:  Yet another book I read to catch up on the buzz books of 2016. I wanted to grab a signed copy of this at a convention Deering and I were both at but unfortunately I was also vending books at a table and never had the opportunity to meet her. Nevertheless I grabbed the digital copy and found out what all the hubbub was about. In some ways this was similar in tone and feel to CV Hunt's Home Is Where The Horror Is and it's still unique unto itself. The monsters battled in this one come from within. Right. Right? Right!

  • MINIVAN POEMS by Justin Grimbol (2016) Thicke & Vaney Press: This is exactly what it says it is, a book full of poems about minivans. Yet, you still cannot prepare yourself for the wonderful poems held within. These are very short, bite-sized poems that are an ode to minivans, country living, down-home folks, loved ones and butt. Lots of butts. I am not one for poetry at all but Justin Grimbol makes poetry a wonderful art accessible to everyone. I need more Minivan Poems in my life. And a hard copy of this book to put out on my coffee table.

  • SPUNGUNION by John Boden (2017) Dynatox Ministries:  Right at the end of the year I read two fantastic books. Spungunion is one of those books. This one took me by surprise. I'd read another of Boden's books last year. I saw this title and thought the premise sounded pretty cool. The introduction by Bracken MacLeod stresses that no two John Boden stories are alike and boy is that the truth. Spungunion is nothing like Jedi Summer (the book I mentioned previously). Spungunion is some folksy, truck, road trip horror. The writing is keen and vivid. The prose is poetry. It's a short book but it packs a wallop. This is like Convoy if Convoy was a surreal horror thriller.

So, there you have the top of my reading list for 2017. I don't like to stamp the list at 10 or 20 or anything like that. This is just the most enjoyable reads of the year. The list is longer than last year's which only featured six books. This year come in at nine. I put away more books than I did last year and I think overall I read a lot more quality stuff that the previous year. 

Some honorable mentions that didn't make the list would be: SUNFALL by Tim Meyer, Chad Scanlon and Pete Draper. M.R. Tapia's THE DIE-FI EXPERIMENT. JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU by John Wayne Comunale, VERY TRUE STORIES STARRING JEFF O'BRIEN by Jeff O'Brien. And CHILDREN OF THE DARK by Johnathan Janz.

I've already got a full reading list of what promises to be top notch shit for 2018. If the titles I have at the top of my To Be Read pile are any indication of the year in reading to come, it will prove to be a banner year in reading. Hope you're year in reading will be grand as well.

You can check out my full list of books read for 2017 HERE.