“This is Usually the Part Where People Scream…”

I’ve been torturing myself for the past week or so by re-watching season one of Heroes. If you’ve never watched it, Heroes was a great (in the beginning) live-action superhero show on NBC. The second season fell victim to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and it never really recovered. There hasn’t been anything like it that I could really lose myself into–not Alphas, not even No Ordinary Family (which deserved better treatment than it could get on ABC Family, and which I would still love to write as a comic, if anyone connected is reading this!). I know that rewatching the show after season one is just going to disappoint me, but until the relaunch, I have nothing else.

Similarly, I’ve been re-reading 1980s issues of the Uncanny X-Men. I know that sometime around Onslaught (in 1997), if I keep reading in chronological order, like one does, I’m going to get disenchanted again, but I’ll probably do it anyhow. Eighties and nineties X-Men were the best, as far as I’m concerned. From about ’97 to at least 2007, I found precious little to enjoy, though the stuff that’s been coming out the past couple years isn’t too bad. At least there are those old issues to enjoy. One thing that I can’t get away from is how much more engrossing an old issue of the X-Men was, compared to a modern issue of any comic I read (even the great stuff from Image and IDW). You could literally take almost half an hour to read an issue of the 80s X-Men, due to page count and story, but even the best stuff I’m reading these days maybe lasts twenty minutes. Maybe.

One other thing in keeping with this post’s superhero theme is a great piece of news I’m very excited to share: before the end of the year, my 2012 anthology of dark superhuman fiction, CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? will be relaunched by Ragnarok Publishing, the same folks who’ll be bringing you my supernatural serial killer novel, SKINJUMPER, in October. This new treatment will be the definitive version of the book, as far as I’m concerned, with two brand-new stories that were unable to be included in the original version, and a brand-new cover!


A few weeks ago, I came across a Twitter feed for a website called GEEKING COOL that reviews books, movies, comics, etc. They seem new, but their production looks great, so I sent them a complimentary copy of CORRUPTS? for review. They’re almost done reviewing each story in detail, one every few days or so.

You can read them all here. Also, show ‘em some love on Facebook and Twitter.

A Few Words About Nice to Matter

Nice to Matter, the secret origin of a superhero cop’s prostitute sidekick, was originally written for inclusion in CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? I’m not against editors including their own work in their anthologies, but I didn’t want to cut a great story from another author in order to make room, either. It was a giveaway for a month or so in advance of CORRUPTS’ publication and later, a standalone story for sale on Amazon. I could definitely see myself writing a comic about the Black Streak and her world in the future, a sentiment echoed by several of my readers.

You can get it for free today on Amazon, and for .99 anytime thereafter. Here’s a little taste:

James was more excited than I’d ever seen him. “This will put us on the map,” he said. “Get us national attention. Superheroes who’ve actually taken down a supervillain are a very exclusive group.” I was eager for the fight myself, to be completely honest. Putting Dom away had been the highlight of my career to date, and even that accomplishment was tempered by keeping my identity a secret. Dom didn’t know it was me, and Natasha Fox’s real victory belonged to the Black Streak. I threw myself into every task Top Cop assigned me. We studied the floor plan of the bank and the surrounding infrastructure for two straight nights. Another two were spent roaming the streets trying to uncover the Badger’s hiding place.

On the third night of the search, I found it. I’d seen a pattern in the locations of the Badger’s past crimes, and had been tracing and retracing particular beats each night, dressed in civilian clothes. Around midnight, I found him, smoking a cigar in a parking lot outside an abandoned warehouse. While I lurked in the shadows and watched from across the street, a large armored truck pulled up. A guy got out and talked to Farrell for a few minutes, then got back in and drove off. The Badger stubbed out his smoke and went back inside. I remember how cold I felt inside when it hit me what was going on. The heist was happening tonight! I crept into the parking lot, pulled my phone out of my purse and turned away from the building. James didn’t answer. I tried two more times without any response. He was handling something else. I was on my own. I’d no sooner realized that, than I felt movement behind me.

Who the hell are you?” the Badger asked.

New Zombie Short and Other News

Here’s a few quick notes to start off the scariest month of the year:

  1. I’ve unleashed a fourth .99 short story on the world. TRADITION is the story of a widow and four of her late husband’s friends enjoying a wee post-apocalyptic winter hunting trip. It is a zombie story, but there’s hardly a walker in sight–I feel the best apocalyptic fiction is about the living, rather than the dead, and modelled my piece accordingly. Let me know if I got it right.
  2. My good pal Tim Marquitz unleashed some madness of his own a couple days ago–a pair of novellas, PREY and ANATHEMA, published together by Genius Publishing and listed on Amazon under the name PREY. While I’ve yet to read the titular novella, ANATHEMA was originally destined for inclusion in FOUR IN THE MORNING. I had initially drawn the old-age story for the collection, and Tim, the middle-aged. When he asked me if he could pull it and pair it with PREY as a submission to Genius, he inadvertently saved my ass. I was stuck like chuck on a good speculative story about an old dude. So we swapped. Tim wrote another novella in what was probably record time (CENOTAPH) and I churned out QUEEN. So, definitely pick up PREY. You won’t be sorry.
  3. Genre fans may have heard the news about Tom Piccirilli’s brain cancer surgery. The operation was last night; the medical bills will take a bit longer to work on. Crossroads Press, which publishes much of Tom’s work in digital format, is giving their share of any sales of Tom’s books to Tom, at least until the end of the year. That’s 100% of your money going to an entertaining author who’s really gonna need the dough.
  4. HWA Halloween Haunts is a month of bloggery and book giveaways from Horror Writers’ Association member authors. There’ll be new content every day for the entire month–more than one posting, some days. Here’s a copy of the complete schedule–I’ll be making my appearance on October 16th, and giving away a digital copy of FOUR IN THE MORNING in the bargain.
  5. Finally, the paperback version of CORRUPTS? is on sale at Amazon for under ten bucks. Since it comes with a twenty dollar cover price, this is a hell of a bargain that’ll go away soon once people start snapping them up–Amazon will notice the increased demand and act accordingly, ya dig?

A Few Notes…

It’s the weekend. Finally. I’ll be filling the next couple of days with the honey-do list and some college work, but hopefully a couple thousand words of the good stuff, as well. While I prepare to dive into all that and my wife and daughter watch Magic Mike (le sigh), here’s a few things pinging my radar:

  • If you’re the praying sort, keep author Tom Piccirilli and his family in your thoughts. He just found out that he has brain cancer, and will be undergoing an operation soon. Since I’ve never heard of a guy with a big medical bill passing up a check, here’s a link to his Amazon page. I haven’t read as much of Pic’s work as I could, but I’ve never read anything from him I didn’t like.
  • CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? is on the Bram Stoker Award ™ recommended reading list. It’s cool, it really is, and a lot of good books, authors and editors are keeping my pride and joy company, but please–don’t confuse this with being on the Awards ballot. There’s a couple of ways for the book to hit the list, and I’ve introduced the book to both of those channels, but it really is just up to people reading the book and deciding they want to recommend it for the Award.
  • Jeff Conner, editor of IDW Publishing’s prose line, recently gave an interview to Cemetery Dance’s Brian James Freeman regarding the limited edition slipcased hardcover of Zombies Vs. Robots: This Means War! This anthology is, of course, one of my crowning achievements for the year, also containing fiction by Nick Kaufmann, Norman Prentiss, Nancy Collins, Sean Taylor, Jim Moore,  Joe McKinney, Steve Rasnic Tem, Jesse Bullington, Brea Grant, and Rachel Swirsky. The trade paperback version is a work of art, so I can only imagine the majesty of  the limited–and it’s only SIXTY YANKEE DOLLARS. For a limited-edition, slipcased book signed by THIRTEEN AUTHORS. Of course, I’d be a fool not to mention that you can sample the book, in the form of my story, in digital format for a measly ninety-nine cents. It’s a heartwarming tale of a scientist going back in time to prevent the zombie apocalypse and save his wife from a nasty demise. I’m sure you’ll love it.
  • Finally, speaking of time-travel, i09 had an interesting article on the different types of time-travel stories that might be good reading for the sort of people who enjoy my stories. Basically, the writer boils time-travel stories down to four basic types: you can go back, but not change anything; you can go back, but your actions create a new timeline; you can go back in time, but it was predestined that you’d do it; you can change the past, but will immediately feel the alterations. So far, I’ve written stories of the third and fourth types. The only one of the four that makes no sense to me is the first–why on Earth wouldn’t your gun fire just because you’re trying to kill Hitler before he took over Germany? That seems too much like magic–and time-travel’s supposed to be pseudo-science.