Welcome to the Apocalypse

You could probably build a pretty decent fortress against zombies or flying piranhas or most other forms of apocalyptic shift in the order of things with all the literature on the subject of the “End of the World.” Of course, most of these are simply the end of the status quo or at worst the end of humanity, but a big ol’ asteroid slamming into the Earth might just be a hard reset for all life on this mud ball. Enter the Apocalypse is a collection of over thirty tales of “The End.” More particularly, this book will cover the beginning of the end. Subsequent books will cover the time of surviving the apocalypse while the characters’ world’s crumbles, and the time of rebuilding for those who survive.

Below is a guest blog post regarding one of my fellow authors’ views on the subject.

Rachel Verkade learned everything from George Romero, Stephen King, John Landis, and Joe Lansdale. She’s currently living in England with her husband, a trio of cats, and a parrot who still thinks she’s a dinosaur. No pigs (yet). Her stories have been featured in Under the Bed, On the Premises, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and Pseudopod, and she writes regular book reviews for The Future Fire.

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“I see a guy with his arm hanging off and one of his eyes eaten out and his skin gone all blue, I know I’m looking at a dead man.”  – The Other White Meat, Rachel Verkade

There’s a song by The Sprites about the apocalypse, and the chorus goes “I know all I need to know; I learned everything from George Romero, Dario Argento, maybe Tom Savini, Stuart Gordon, and Sam Raimi.” That pretty much sums up my experience as well (though I’m honestly not sure what Stuart Gordon’s name is doing there…did John Carpenter not scan?). The apocalypse was going to come in the form of either some virulent plague, or at the hands and jaws of the walking dead. Preferably (at least to my teenage brain) the latter. I think for a lot of lonely, alienated kids like me, the idea of society breaking down an being able to live as and how we choose was a very attractive one, no matter what the risks involved. There’s a childish appeal to it; instead of a clubhouse in the woods we build a zombie-proof base in a shopping mall, replacing the classmates and relatives we hate with our best friends. After the apocalypse we wouldn’t need to worry about the school bullies, about getting into the best college, about hiding our sexualities or justifying our tastes in music and clothes. Compared to all of that, dodging zombies and mutants seems simple.

I guess we all outgrow that phase sooner or later, but the idea does still linger in the brain and the consciousness, and I retained a lot of affection for the zombie apocalypse story. But one of the things that bothered me the most about these stories and movies was that very few of them thought to use animals. To me, animals like saddlehorses and trained dogs would be an incredible asset in such circumstances, especially when the alternative is struggling with unreliable sources of gasoline and blocked roadways, the latter of which were also where the hostile motorcycle gangs and rogue soldiers would be traveling as well. When animals did show up in zombie apocalypse stories, they were a plot point or a piece of set dressing. I wanted to remedy this, particularly with regard to horses, but I really couldn’t think of a new angle.

And then I re-watched “Snatch”. And it hit me that pigs who had become accustomed to eating corpses might be one heck of an asset when the zombies came knocking.

But if Romero was one side of my story’s heritage, the other half is Joe Lansdale. The tale didn’t really come into its own until I found the main character’s voice, and that came straight from Lansdale’s blue collar, Texan ramblings (and I use that word in the most affectionate and respectful way possible). Lansdale was the one who brought the pulp and ultra-violent asthetic of horror back into my viewpoint, and Dieufort and Felicity Freebird would be quite at home in any of his stories or settings, complete with Gouge and Hamstring on chain leashes. And that idea from my childhood held true when I was writing about them; the alienated people making it through the apocalypse by finding each other, and by sticking together, and finding their own way together as the world crumbled around them. Dieufort says at one point, “Neither of us had all that many friends, so we stuck together pretty tight. So that’s why when it all happened, Felicity’s the first person I went looking for. Who else did I have, anyway?” That idea, that fantasy, if you will, held true throughout the entire writing process. And I have to say, I have a lot of affection for these two and their flesh-eating porkers, and I rather hope I can revisit them in the future.

So, the idea originally came from my adolescence, from the tales of survivors huddled in shopping malls and farmhouses, and it was told in the voice of Texas raconteurs and working class joes, a voice I only began to hear in my adulthood.

Thanks George, and Joe too.

 

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Consider coming to hang out at the event linked in both of the above images, hear from some of the authors and the editor who put this whole thing together on April 20, 2017, a week from this post. And of course, don’t be afraid to share this post, the event and buy the book when it comes out. Not only will that help support the horde of starving artists involved, but also the next two books in the series.

 

 

A Brave New Year

So the year is kicking off with lots of activity. I’ve just had a couple of pieces accepted over at Mad Scientist Journal and Whortleberry Press for publication later this year. Since I’ve posted, I also had a few other pieces published and am in the midst of a writing class with the illustrious Cat Rambo (of Beasts of Tabat and other fame).
The twins are approaching four months old (my current excuse for my spotty posting) and beginning to sleep better at night. I have a number of projects in the works, including collections of stories following a general arc a la Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and a novel I started during November.

My So-Called Wrong Brain Experience

If these people are wrong, then I don’t want to be right, to borrow a well-worn saw. I had a gig yesterday, a craft fair slash art show of local creators with everything from stained glass and paintings to bone sculptures and a Mad-Maxian pauldron (since WordPress objects to the word, it bears defining. A pauldron is shoulder armor) made of license plates. A few people performed music slash “sound experiences” and there were lots of conversations. I got to see a few people from high school and old jobs whom I hadn’t seem in quite a while, in the former case, a couple of decades.
While monetarily I broke even, experience-wise and getting out there to spread my own creations in the form of a few anthologies, paintings and leather work, it was definitely a worthwhile experience. I can’t deny that there were quite a number of characters there, people who stood out in one way or another. It was a great opportunity for people watching. They will add spice to my work. There’s also nothing quite like spending a good day with good people and coming home drained.
For those of you not following my Facebook page, I had some success recently. One of the publishers whose projects I really enjoy, Mad Scientist Journal, periodically puts out anthologies separate from their weekly Monday offerings and the quarterly collections of said. This next one will be entitled “Fitting In” and will focus on the plights of supernatural creatures dealing with today’s society as outsiders. My story Snakedance will be present, following a day in the life of a shapeshifter in a South America affected by urban sprawl and forest destruction.
I’m working on a few pieces I feel very good about for other upcoming anthologies, some of which look to set the mood for entire subgenres as the founding works in the field. One was a kickstarter I recently linked on my Facebook page and another is being edited by a fellow contributor to Capes and Clockwork. They are fairly polar opposites, as one focuses on the positive, bright future we may find if we give up the poisonous practices that promote conflict, while the other is a horror story about miscreant gravekeepers. Sitting at the Wrong Brain Spring Bizaare[sic] letting the human tide ebb and flow around me gave me time to write about half of the latter story between chatting and sales. That in itself, practice writing in such a busy environment and getting words down, added to the experience. I’ve got to get out more.

Payday

For a freelance, one might even call me a hobbyist, author, money comes in dribs and drabs. $20 here, $25 there, a copy of the final antho or magazine issue if I’m lucky. I’ve not really made it up to the pros where my week of work can buy me more than a moderate meal.
One aspect of this is the royalty check. I’ve been at this for a few years now, have a dozen or so tales accumulating a few cents per purchase, but I’ve never received this mythical money.
Until this week.
One of my publishers changed their policy regarding royalty pay out and I heard the electronic coins dropping in my bucket. Much like that first story I sold, it’s exciting in that it’s a step forward for me, new territory, and a bit sad, a weak little thing that adds no weight to my wallet. No velvet ropes are parting just yet, but “slowly by slowly,” as my wife says, I’m getting closer to putting novels out. Maybe I’ll be able to celebrate on something other than the dollar menu.

Sunvault Kickstarter is live!

This is a great project I am proud to have supported via Kickstarter!

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Dear writers, punks, and speculators:

The Kickstarter to fund Sunvault Anthology has officially launched! If you are planning on submitting to, reading, or supporting Sunvault, please consider buying a copy of the book through our Kickstarter. We also have some cool backer rewards that we are excited to bring you!

Whether or not you can financially support us, sharing is always important! Brontë Wieland and I hope this anthology can be the first step in turning the speculative fiction and poetry genre toward its imaginative and hopeful roots! We believe speculative fiction and poetry offer some of the greatest tools for solving environmental and societal issues we face today by imagining creative solutions in a widely read genre.

We believe in solarpunk. We believe solarpunk can offer a viable response to environmental issues of this generation and to the apocalyptic leanings of sci-fi today. In the words of Matthew Gross: “The…

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Silence or Violence: Logan, Suicide, and the Culture of Masculine Silence

This post is relevant to my own experiences as well as the recent loss of a friend. Thanks, Satyros

Satyros Phil Brucato

Our friend Logan killed himself today. I wish we had known how badly he was hurting. We just spent most of this past weekend with him, and had no idea things were nearly this bad. If we had known, maybe we could have helped. But maybe not. These things don’t come from nowhere.

Logan MastersonLogan Masterson, author, friend, R.I.P.

It’s kind of a no-shit thing to say in hindsight that Logan had struggled with depression. Thing is, many people do, and never take their pain as far as this. It’s also kind of a no-shit statement to say that I wish I had known he was hurting so badly. And the problem is, he did what so many people – men especially – do: He played the Strong Silent Type until it killed him.

And when he finally did reach out, hours before the end, he got smacked in the face…

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Dust in the Wind

This morning I am stricken by the loss of a friend and a fellow writer. I never got a chance to meet him in person, but we’ve shared words online and in print. We appeared together in one of my first anthologies. It’s times like these that words like “God only gives us what we can handle” ring false. We often ask ourselves if there was something more we could have done, but I gave him my best words, my strongest thoughts and support. Sometimes, though it’s not enough.
I read an article yesterday about world building, about making everything too pat, too simple and logical. Life is not always logical. We’re not always happy when others expect us to be, even when we expect it of ourselves. Like most things, there are lessons to be learned and aspects we can never know. I hope to take something from the words he left us and the impact he made to make my contribution that much stronger.
Good bye my friend.

Surprise!

Another post! Has it been six months already? Nope! I’m going to try this new thing where I post at least once a week. In reality, I have more news. This time, it involves my art beyond writing. For those local to seacoast NH, I’ll be at the Wrong Brain Spring Bizaare[sic] an art show-slash-craft fair type thing for local artists and folk of eclectic taste. Here’s the Facebook event page. I’ll have some paintings, possibly some sculpture, some hand-crafted goods such as leather pouches set up as necklaces to some larger belt-pouches. I’ll also have a few different anthologies to which I’ve contributed on hand for signing purposes. Right now, those will include: Big Top Tales, Longest Hours and Capes & Clockwork. (The second C&C is in the works, but the publish date is still up in the air. It probably won’t be ready for May 7, 2016.) The location for this event is:
Millspace: Center for Art, History & Culture
55 Main St, Newmarket, New Hampshire 03857
May 7, 2016 11am to 5pm
In the spirit of surprises (this will be my first art show and only the second vendor gig I’ve done, so I wasn’t confident I’d pass muster), my wife and I got a surprise from the doctor the other day. We knew we’d be adding a little one to the family in October, but hadn’t planned on… two! “Twins!” as we keep looking at each other and saying. So we’ll have a bit bigger family. Oliver, my first son, spurred me to get going on selling stories and I’ve managed a couple of dozen sales so far. Maybe the pair will get me over the hill on a novel. We can hope! I’m going to give it a shot. Best to all! Keep reading, keep making!

Back to Blogtown

Creeaak! *dust pat cough* Oh hi! It’s been a while, well, more than a while, but I’m going to try to get some more regular posts in before the next Major Life Event coming in the fall. More on that later.
For now, I’d like to direct you to a couple of pieces I’ve had come out this year:
Koschei’s Needle, a flash piece about a Slavic mythological figure and Standing Stones, my first published poem, both out from Three Drops From a Cauldron online poetry magazine. The possibility of Koschei’s Needle coming out in a special print collection has been floated.
We’ll see how that progresses.
Also out at the start of the year was a circus story I wrote for Big Top Tales, a collection of circus stories set in 1956. My story takes place in my home town of East Kingston, NH and involves one of my favorite animals, elephants, as well as one of my least favorite, Nazis. You can find a lovely review here:Pulp Fiction Review: Big Top Tales.
I had a fun visit with some New Hampshire writers last night. We met at a library which hosted us as part of a regular program. It was great to hear what everyone was working on, discuss issues we were having and sharing ideas for getting past them, and generally networking. We were lucky enough to have local writing legends James Patrick Kelly (see his new, snazzy website Here) and Rebecca Rule with us for guidance and insight.