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never bet the devil

Odds are you don’t need me to tell you that 2016 was a rough year. Even leaving aside any political… happenstance, we lost a lot of great people in 2016. Some were losses shared by the world, others hit closer to home. But if I restrict my sights to only those things that were localized entirely within the walls of my house, 2016 was actually a pretty good year. Freelance work picked up considerably from its low point in 2015, Grace got a new job that she is extremely happy with, and I published two books: Monsters from the Vault, a collection of my Vault of Secrets columns from Innsmouth Free Press, and The Cult of Headless Men, a chapbook novelette from Dunhams Manor with an incredible cover by Michael Bukowski.

Since my first collection, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings had fallen out of print at the end of 2015, this past year also saw the launch of a successful Kickstarter to get it back in print in a deluxe, fully-illustrated hardcover edition featuring killer art from my good friend MS Corley. The new edition is due out sometime this year from Strix Publishing, and should be available for order direct from them for those who missed the Kickstarter.

Following on the heels of the Kickstarter, the last few months of 2016 were a little hectic for me. I ended September with a tonsillectomy, which more or less put me out of commission for the month of October, and then spent November and December writing my first novel in only 53 days! For those who missed the previous announcement, that novel will be a Protectorate of Menoth novel set in the world of the Iron Kingdoms from Privateer Press. It’s the first in a proposed series called Fire & Faith, and the book itself is going to be called Godless. It’s due out later this year. I’ll be posting a lot more about it–and the process of writing it–once things have gone a little farther, but for now you can read a brief interview with me over at their blog.

Over the course of the year, I published only 6 new short stories (not counting The Cult of Headless Men), but I’m pretty proud of all of them. They showed up in venues like Autumn CthulhuSwords v. Cthulhu, Children of LovecraftEternal FrankensteinThe Madness of Dr. Caligari, and Gothic Lovecraft. (Lots of “Lovecraft” and “Cthulhu” titles this year.) Thanks to Children of Lovecraft, I finally got to check my lifelong dream of appearing behind a Mignola cover off my list, and my story from Autumn Cthulhu made the Bram Stoker Award reading list, which I think is a first for me. I also made my debut in the pages of Nightmare magazine, albeit in nonfiction form, writing an entry for their H Word column about creating and consuming horror that isn’t meant to be scary.

I didn’t read very many books in 2016 (a little less than 30, most of them graphic novels), but of those, a few were actually published in 2016 and were legitimately great, perhaps most notably Matthew M. Bartlett’s Creeping Waves and Jon Padgett’s The Secret of Ventriloquism. I was also lucky enough to provide blurbs for a couple of books that came out in 2016, including Pete Rawlik’s most recent addition to his rollicking Wold Newton-ish universe Reanimatrix, and Jonathan Raab’s The Lesser Swamp Gods of Little Dixie. (Though really, with a title like that, why do you need a blurb from me to sell it to you?)

I did watch a lot of movies in 2016, however. 333, to be exact. 47 of those were in the month of October, which is what happens when you have a tonsillectomy and can neither sleep nor do much else besides lay on the couch and watch movies. In continuing my efforts to see more movies that I haven’t seen than ones that I have, 197 of those movies were new-to-me, though of those only about 25 actually came out in 2016. Nothing I saw in 2016 ever managed to beat the first movie that I saw in theatres last year, so The Witch is probably still my favorite movie of the year. Other good ones that I saw include Green Room, I Am Not a Serial Killer, Ouija: Origin of Evil (yeah, I’m as surprised as you are), Captain America: Civil WarThe Nice GuysZootopiaThe Shallows, and the first half of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The last movie that I watched in 2016 was Blood Diner, and the first one that I watched in 2017 was Cellar Dweller, so that seems about right.

In breaking with my annual tradition, there probably won’t be a Year in Creatures this year because, frankly, I just didn’t see enough movies in 2016 that had creatures in them. The big alien in Independence Day: Resurgence was totally wasted, and besides it and a few ghosts there was, what, a shark and that thing from I Am Not a Serial Killer? I guess Black Phillip would about have to be the Monster of the Year in 2016, though if there are good creatures I’m missing in movies that I didn’t see do please let me know, because I want to track them down!

In 2017 I’m hoping to read more books, which may entail watching fewer movies, but we’ll see how the year pans out. I’ve already picked up my full-weekend pass for Panic Fest this year, so that’s a pile of movies I’ll probably be seeing later this month. There’s a lot of cool stuff in the works for 2017, including that aforementioned novel, so you’ll be hearing from me more down the line. For now, let’s finish kicking the detritus of 2016 to the curb, and set our sights on getting through the next few days, months, and then years.

 

Well, the last few days have been extraordinarily busy and draining for me, to the surprise of probably no one. On Saturday night, I stayed out way too late watching mystery horror movies with the fine folks from the Nerds of Nostalgia podcast, thanks to whom I can now say that Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a thing that I have experienced. Then Sunday I was supposed to introduce a screening of the Vincent Price/Roger Corman/Richard Matheson adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum at the Screenland, but I got caught in a horrible traffic snarl, and so I ended up talking afterward. (Extroducing it?) I had a book giveaway and did a reading of my story “Guignol.”

Yesterday was my birthday, though I didn’t do a lot more to celebrate than what I’ve already mentioned here, having kind of partied out the night before with the movie marathon. Today I’m not doing a lot either besides catching up from all the aforementioned, but that doesn’t mean that a lot isn’t going on. Since it’s Halloween, we’ve got some special Halloween treats for all of you, including a free story! Head on over to the Word Horde website to read my story “Strange Beast,” about ghosts and kaiju and maybe the ghosts of kaiju absolutely free! “Strange Beast” was one of the original stories I wrote exclusively for Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and this is the first time it’s ever been available anywhere else!

Meanwhile, Simon Berman of Strix Publishing has fast-tracked a little Halloween treat for all those who’re waiting patiently for your copies of the new deluxe edition of  Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings. The book contains an all-new story that happens to be Halloween themed, and Mike Corley has been kind enough to show off the excellent illustration that he’s done to accompany it.

Meanwhile, Brian Lillie has assembled a whole passel of authors to make suggestions for suitably spooky Halloween reading. My humble contribution includes tales by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jon Padgett, and Daniel Mills, all of which have been podcast by Pseudopod. That wasn’t an accident, and one of the reasons I chose to do it was because Pseudopod is currently running a Kickstarter. As part of that Kickstarter, they’re also putting together their first-ever anthology, which includes classic reprints along with all-new stories by yours truly, Damien Angelica Walters, A.C. Wise, and more! Here’s the newly-revealed table of contents, and we promise you, it’s true.

That’s just scratching the surface of what’s been going on lately, but I think for tonight it’s all I’ve got in me. Keep your jack-o-lanterns lit, have a happy Halloween, and always remember to check your candy…

I’ll leave you with what remains one of my all-time favorite Halloween illustrations by none other than the great Chris Sanders, and (unrelatedly) if you’re looking for something seasonal to do this evening,  you could do a lot worse than to plug a few hours into Halloween Forever!

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve acquired a lot of new Facebook friends and Twitter followers, thanks, I imagine, in no small part, to the recent Kickstarter to launch a deluxe second edition of my debut collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings through my friends at Strix Publishing. Whatever it is that brought you here, though, I figure all these new faces are as good an excuse as any to stop, take a step back, and sort of remind everyone of who I am and what I do.

As my bio says, I’m a skeleton who likes monsters. I’m also a writer, editor, amateur film scholar, and monster expert who was born on the night before Halloween. (Before you ask, yes, skeletons are born, where else would we come from? We hatch out of coffins, just like everyone else.) I’m a full time freelance writer, and when I’m not doing content marketing work or writing licensed stuff for Privateer Press or penning articles about true crimes and other weirdness for The Lineup, I write stories about monsters, ghosts, and sometimes the ghosts of monsters.

My stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, and been collected into two collections, with a third on the horizon probably sometime in early 2018. Right now you can pick up Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, my second fiction collection, from Word Horde, and that aforementioned deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings should be available to those who missed out on the Kickstarter very soon.

I have had stories recently published or forthcoming directly in Children of Lovecraft, which managed to cross two items off my bucket list (be in an original Ellen Datlow antho, and have something of mine appear behind a Mike Mignola cover), as well as Eternal Frankenstein, which you can pre-order now from Word Horde, The Children of Gla’aki which is nearing the end of a pre-order campaign at Dark Regions Press, and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, which you can pre-order from Fedogan & Bremer, to name just a few. I’ve also got a new novelette, The Cult of Headless Men, which is being released as a chapbook by Dunhams Manor, with an incredible cover by Michael Bukowski.

For a relatively succinct summary of my philosophy regarding my own work and my relationship with the genre of horror in general, check out my essay for Nightmare Magazine’s The H Word, “But Is It Scary?

I also spend an inordinate amount of time writing about horror movies, which you can find right here on my blog, as well as at my Patreon and occasionally other places, like the forthcoming October issue of Unwinnable, where I will be nattering on once again about Monster Squad, while all of my literary betters show me up by discussing more intellectual things, I have no doubt.

And if you can’t get enough of reading my rambling opinions on especially creaky old monster movies of yesteryear, all five-or-so years of my column on vintage horror cinema for Innsmouth Free Press have recently been collected into an affordable volume that you can buy right now, Monsters from the Vault.

So, for newcomers or those who just have a tough time keeping up, I think that’s a decent crash course in who I am and what I’ve been up to. There’s a lot more announcements in the works, so keep your radio tuned to this dial until long after you hear the static. That’s where the good stuff lurks…

Last night, while I was sitting in a theatre watching Blair Witch (more on that at a later date, probably) and eating a delicious sandwich, the Kickstarter for the deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil from Strix Publishing that I’ve been flogging non-stop for the past month closed out. Not only did we fund–we had actually funded quite a bit earlier in the day–but we exceeded our funding goal by $520!

Simon says it as well as I can, but I needed to chime in and add my own personal, heartfelt thanks to every single person who backed, shared, or otherwise supported the Kickstarter. And to everyone who didn’t, or couldn’t, but who put up with my posting about it with good humor and never once told me to stop annoying everyone with my shilling. It means an enormous amount to me that so many people would step up and have faith in this book, and in us.

And now that I’m not trying to sell it anymore, I can say that I really, truly do think this book is going to be something special. I’m assuming that everyone who bought it wants the stories, but honestly, even if you don’t, Simon and Mike Corley have already done an amazing job of making this thing beautiful and unique in ways that my writing alone never could. The success of this Kickstarter is a testament to their hard work and amazing talents, as much as (or more than) anything I did.

If you missed out on the Kickstarter, the book will be available down the road, first to pre-order through Backerkit and then directly from Strix. You can keep up with how things are progressing by checking the Kickstarter updates here.

This was my first Kickstarter, and working on it–even as tangentially as I did–was an exciting, rewarding, exhilarating, exhausting experience, and one that, you have my word, I will not be repeating anytime soon. Thanks again to everyone who chipped in in any way to help make this one such a success!

 

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Behold the Cemetery Giant! Another illustration of a fan-favorite scene from my novella “The Mysterious Flame” by the great M.S. Corley.

Today is the final day of the Kickstarter for the brand new deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings from Strix Publishing! Which means that soon I get to shut up about it, and you guys get to stop hearing about it! But in the meantime, you’ve got around 12 hours left to get in on this new edition at its cheapest price, not to mention Kickstarter-exclusive rewards like prints by M.S. Corley, Never Bet the Devil-themed playing cards, and even some one-of-a-kind sculpted book covers by Jason Soles (which nobody has sprung for so far, and I can tell you, as someone who’s seen these in person, you’re missing out).

As we head into the final hours, we’ve got less than $800 left to raise, so the end is well and truly in sight, and I’m pretty sure that, thanks to all your help, this little book is going to become a really real thing that you can hold in your hands. And let me just say, not even taking my stories into account, that it’s going to be an amazing volume. M.S. Corley has outdone himself with the cover design, and the interior art that he’s turned in so far is equally impressive, with lots more striking illustrations still to come!

That’s not even mentioning a new introduction by Nathan Ballingrud, and a couple of new stories by yours truly, making this the definitive edition of Never Bet the Devil, for first time readers and old fans alike. And since we’re now well beyond our goal of 250 backers, that means everyone who pledged at least $30 will be receiving a free PDF of (mostly) never-before-seen Never Bet the Devil ephemera, only available to Kickstarter backers (you can get a taste of that here). Didn’t pledge $30? It’s never too late to bump it up a bit!

The campaign isn’t over yet, but as we head into the final hours, I just wanted to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who has already pledged, shared, or helped spread the word about this project. It’s been a dizzying, exhausting, exhilarating, amazing experience, and we couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you. Now let’s make these last few hours count, shall we?

final-hoursAs of my writing this, the Kickstarter to publish a deluxe, hardcover edition of my out-of-print debut collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings is counting down in hours, rather than days. (Which isn’t to say there aren’t still a couple of days left.) Soon it will all be over except the crying crushing my enemies, seeing them driven before me, and hearing the lamentations of their women actual work of publishing the book, with any luck.

This also means that it’s your last chance to get on board. 48 hour notices will be going out shortly, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the usual boost in the last couple of days. My publisher (who has a lot more experience with these kinds of things than I do) seems very confident that we’re going to fund, which means that this beautiful book will be a real thing very soon!

If you’ve already pledged, shared the link, or otherwise boosted the signal, thank you very much! If you haven’t, check out the Kickstarter, we’ve got a lot of cool stuff going on. And even if you already have the original edition of Never Bet the Devil, I urge you to check this one out! It’s going to be illustrated throughout by the great M.S. Corley, whose work on it has been absolutely stunning so far, and it will contain at least two stories not included in the original edition, “A Night for Mothing,” which originally appeared in The Mothman Files but has never been previously collected, and “Goblins,” an entirely new story written exclusively for this volume. Plus a new introduction by Nathan Ballingrud, and did I mention those M.S. Corley illustrations?

Plus, once we reach 250 backers–and we’re getting very close!–everyone who pledged at the $30 tier or higher (to get the physical book) will also be getting a PDF of (mostly) never-before-seen ephemera written to complement several of the stories in Never Bet the Devil. For a taste of what you can expect from the ephemera, check out the one for “Black Hill” here. And if you’ve never read “Black Hill,” you can do so for free right now on the Strix Publishing website. Or check out my story “The Barghest,” which has never before been published outside of this collection, over at Aeryn Rudel’s Rejectomancy blog!

While I will be spamming social media about the Kickstarter nonstop over the next few days, there’s a decent chance that this is close to the last you’ll hear about it through these channels. So whether you’re new to my work or an old fan, there’s no better time than now to jump on board the Kickstarter for Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings and help us make this very special book a reality!

… left to back my Kickstarter. As you are no doubt aware by now, since I’ve been shilling it Jay Sherman style for what feels like a year but is really only three weeks, there’s a Kickstarter running to release a hardcover, deluxe edition of Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, my currently out-of-print debut collection. This will be the definitive edition of the book, featuring new stories, a new introduction by Nathan Ballingrud, and illustrated throughout by M.S. Corley.

“How can I get my hands on this fabulous volume?” I hear you asking, and the answer is that you can secure your copy today by backing the Kickstarter, where you can also get other great stuff including prints by M.S. Corley and Never Bet the Devil-themed playing cards! There are even a handful of sculpted book covers available from Jason Soles, creator of the infamous Call of Cthulhu cover, in case you want a suitably eldritch-looking tome.

For those who have already pledged, or who are otherwise sick of hearing about this, worry not. We’ll have a big push as we head into the final week, but once this Kickstarter is over I’ll not be doing anything else like it for a good long while, I promise, though there’ll be plenty of other exciting projects in the works from Strix Publishing, including a follow up to their debut project The Book of Starry Wisdom which may feature a little something by yours truly…

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