The Ghoulish Times | 11/21/21

All These Books - Horror Movie Practical Effects - Giveaways

Hello and welcome to the 9th issue of The Ghoulish Times. In this newsletter I will talk about the following topics: writing, books, eggs, and how to kill a man with your bare hands. So, the same topics as every previous newsletter, if you’ve been paying attention.

Let’s proceed.

The other day I finished writing my new novel, titled Maggots Screaming!. Uh, the exclamation mark is part of the title. I need to exorcise the need I feel to explain that now so by the time the book comes out next year I no longer care about potentially confusing readers. The current word count is 98,500 words. This might change depending on what notes I receive from my early readers. I’ve already sent the book out to them, including my film & tv manager, which is exciting and a little scary. I’ve been working on the book since July 2020 and now it’s finally out of my hands—for the moment, at least.

I have some ideas for what will be my next book, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. There are four or five current works-in-progress around my hard drive for books I could continue. So either I’ll focus on one of those, or decide to start with something fresh. The problem with continuing one of my WIPs is almost all of them are told from the POV of a child—and, I recently realized, so do my last couple published books. We Need to Do Something and Touch the Night both incorporate child protagonists. And my new novel, Maggots Screaming!, is told via first-person POV of a 13-year-old boy. Feeling the strong need to write some more adult stuff next. But what will that be? Not sure yet. Maybe I’ll take a little break from novel writing to focus on some screenplay work that’s piling up. I also would like to write a comic that I’ve been thinking about for a couple years now. Is it time?

Finishing Maggots has made me reflect a bit on the previous books I’ve written. A couple years back, I wrote up a blog post that nobody read kind of breaking down every book of mine, including the ones I’ll never publish. So I thought I’d do a little revised edition of that post here, for those interested (also I have no other ideas for this week’s newsletter).

Here is a list of every book I have ever written (that I can still remember):

Majestic [unpublished] — This is the first novel I ever finished. I was 13 and we were bouncing back and forth between hotels and my grandparents’ house. I had been interested in writing years before this, having knocked out various short stories and DIY comic books, but this was the first actual book I completed. It clocked in around the 100,000-word mark and was pure fantasy, a genre I no longer care much about. I was big into The Hobbit at the time and it definitely showed in this book. Ditto for Chronicles of Narnia. The most I can remember about the plot is it involved a character the same age as myself traveling to a mystical land to save his niece from evil. The casino my mother frequented, the hellhole that ruined my childhood, is called the Majestic Star, if you’re wondering where the book’s title comes from.

Conspiracy [abandoned] — Between ages 12 and 16, I lived in a hotel. Sometimes we stayed at my grandmother’s house when we could no longer afford our room, and every couple weekends I’d stay the night at my brother’s trailer. This is where I first tried alcohol. Age 14, drunk off Jameson and watching a forgettable film, I got the best idea in the world: what if every conspiracy theory in the world was…true? I set off to handwrite the greatest book of all time. I filled one 70-page notebook and immediately lost interest, much to my future self’s relief.

The Minority [published (kind of?)] — Another book I wrote as a teenager, this one about a zombie outbreak in a small town in Indiana. It was sorta published as a serialized book on the now-defunct website StoriesVille. Back when I was still trying to figure out how to be a writer. To be fair, I’m still trying to figure that out. If you happened to read The Minority back when I was serializing it, congrats! It’s the only opportunity anyone will ever have, if I have anything to say about it.

Taking Lives with .45s [unpublished] — Also written during my hotel years. This one clocked in around the 40k mark, I think. It told the story of a kid my age with my same mannerisms who begins taking an interest in serial killing. I may have been reading way too many true crime books back then. Of everything I’ve ever written, this is probably the most embarrassing.

Zombie Punks [unpublished] — Sometimes I think about trying to rewrite this one. I wrote it when I was 16 for NaNoWriMo. It’s about a guy in a punk band who pays his rent by letting some weird scientist perform experiments on him. Somehow he finds himself impregnated with an alien creature. Also I think maybe a witch is involved?

True Stories Told By a Liar [published] — I was 19 and noticed some Australian small press asking for book submissions. Specifically, story collections. “I have written short stories!” I screamed to nobody, and immediately emailed a messy word doc compiling every story I had written in my teenage years. It was accepted the next day and published a month later. I was extremely proud and stupid. The press refused to publish the book as an eBook because “things get confusing when you live in Australia”. A year later I realized I had made a terrible mistake and requested they remove the book from print. They obliged and now we shall never speak of this collection again. Still, though, killer fucking title, right?

They Might Be Demons [published] — When I was 17, I joined the staff of Dark Moon Digest as a volunteer editor. I knew nothing about anything, and I will forever be grateful to Stan Swanson for introducing me to the horror lit scene. It changed my life for the better in so many ways, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. In addition to the magazine, Stan also published books via Dark Moon Books. He had this idea of releasing collections of flash fiction, each collection written by a different author. I loved this and came up with a concept that involved every story in the collection taking place in the same town, on the same day. Back then I thought of it strictly as a collection, but the more I think about it now, maybe it was more of a mosaic novel. Who knows? Anyway. The book was called They Might Be Demons and it remains one of my favorite titles I’ve ever come up with. Too bad the book was terrible! It was published in June 2013, one month shy of my 20th birthday. It is currently out of print and I aim to keep it that way. Nowadays, Lori Michelle and I control complete ownership over Dark Moon Digest, and editor Eric J. Guignard owns Dark Moon Books. Stan’s still writing, but he’s slowed down a bit to focus on his music aspirations.

Toxicity [published] — It’s hard to pinpoint when I wrote this book. I have clear memories of beginning the very first draft back when I was 12, before we’d abandoned our house completely but after it had lost power that final time. We’d stay in hotels then when we ran out of money, my father would drop my mother and myself off at the house and we’d bum around. There was no electricity, so we sat out on the porch a lot. I went through my mother’s collection of books over and over, finding titles I’d never noticed before. This is how I discovered Richard Price’s Clockers, which introduced me to crime fiction. I was already a huge fan of crime films but had never read a book in the genre and it made me hungry to try something myself, so I pulled out a notebook and began the opening pages of a novel titled Jericho. A family much like my own family wins the lotto, becomes spoiled slobs, then multiple criminals break in on the same day to rob them. Throughout the next several years, I would frequently return to the manuscript as my own writing abilities strengthened and rewrite it. At one point I changed the title from Jericho to Black Cadillacs, but whenever I told people about the book they would all act very confused about the title, so I changed it again, this time to Toxicity. It was eventually accepted by Post Mortem Press, a small publishing company based in Ohio. They released it in March 2014, four months before my 21st birthday. It is currently out of print but I’m bringing a revised edition back through my own small press next year. You can pre-order a signed copy HERE.

The Mind is a Razorblade [published] — This was another NaNoWrimo book, written when I was 17. I’d originally titled it Oblivion but would later change the title after hearing “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzalez (which itself is a cover of a song by The Knife). Like most of my published books, this one went through many rewrites. It was eventually published in 2014 by Kraken Press, only a couple months after Toxicity. I was 21 by then. Looking back, 2014 was a very good year for me. It’s also currently out of print, but I’m re-issuing a revised edition next year through PMMP. Pre-order a signed copy HERE.

Float On [abandoned] — I dedicated so much goddamn time to this book and it’s never going to work the way I want it to. I was 18 and living alone in my first apartment across the country from my entire family and working at Walmart and killing myself for shit wages. I was hungry to create and this is what I thought was worth my time.  It’s about a guy recently diagnosed with cancer who meets a traveling group of immortal monster hunters. There’s just not enough story here to make it worth the effort. I’ve probably written 100,000 words on this thing and it’s all a rambling mess. In five years I’ll probably try rewriting it again and give up six months afterward. It’s doomed.

How to Successfully Kidnap Strangers [published] — I wrote this in an insane two-week sprint. It’s about a small press author who kidnaps a book reviewer while high on meth. I still really like this one. Bizarro Pulp Press published it in 2015, but it’s currently out of print. I’m re-releasing it through PMMP next year. Pre-order a signed copy HERE.

The Nightly Disease [published] — I have written far too much about this novel in previous blog posts. To quickly catch you up to speed: I wrote it while working the night shift at a hotel. DarkFuse published it in the last fucking week of 2016, then went bankrupt six months later and refused to pay me royalties. I then self-published it under my own indie press, Perpetual Motion Machine. This is the best book I’ve written that is currently published.

Carnivorous Lunar Activities [published] — This was published by Cinestate in 2019. Technically, it is still available through them, although I do not recommend purchasing it at this time. I won’t get into the “why” here but if you’re reading this newsletter you’re probably capable of googling “cinestate” and reading about the man who operates it. Feel free to torrent the book instead. Or email me asking for a digital “review” copy. I’d rather people have it for free at this point. Do not ask me to elaborate.

We Need to Do Something [published] — my first standalone novella! my first movie! it takes place in a bathroom! I’ve talked enough about this thing already.

Touch the Night [published] — Published in 2020. Cemetery Dance released the eBook and limited edition hardcover, and I self-published the paperback through PMMP. No complaints about Cemetery Dance from me. They’ve treated me fairly. I really like this book. It’s about demon cops and badass moms. It was also recently optioned for television. I wish more people read this one. I think it’s pretty good!

Casanova Curbstomp [unpublished] — This is a crime comedy about a Little League umpire addicted to internet pornography who teams up with a neurotic pimp to track down a missing sex worker. I finished it last New Years Eve and it clocked in at around 96,000 words. I am not very happy with how it turned out, and I think a heavy rewrite is necessary. It may end up just existing as a trunk novel indefinitely. I don’t know about this one anymore. How about that title, though?

Maggots Screaming! [unpublished] — The latest novel I’ve finished, which I talked about briefly in the beginning of this newsletter. At this point in time I believe I will release it through my own small press in late April/early May, to coincide with the first ever Ghoulish Book Fest (tickets available here). Maggots is very much inspired by the works of Frank Henenlotter and Stuart Gordon. The current logline for the book is as follows: “On a hot summer weekend in San Antonio, Texas, a father and son bond after discovering three impossible corpses buried in their back yard.”

And those are the books I have written. Well, most of them. I am sure the moment I click SEND a couple others will pop into my head. But that’s okay. You’ll find a way to forgive me.

Now here are some other things I need to talk about in this newsletter:

Massive Book Giveaway

We've partnered with The Lineup for a 5-book giveaway bundle! Titles include Beneath the Salton Sea by Michael Paul Gonzalez, Antioch by Jessica Leonard, The Writhing Skies by Betty Rocksteady, She Was Found in a Guitar Case by David James Keaton, and We Need to Do Something. One lucky winner will receive all five of these books. Check out their website for more details on how to enter. And, if you don’t win, go buy the books anyway! They are good books!

Horror Movie Practical Effects with SFX Mastermind Dan Rebert!

Dan Rebert is a practical effects genius known for his work on SLITHER, SIX FEET UNDER, and countless other movies and television shows. Recently, he worked on WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING, which I wrote and executive produced, so naturally I invited him on this week’s episode of GHOULISH to discuss practical monster movie effects. This is the first VIDEO episode of the show, as Rebert came to the interview prepared to show off lots of cool props from the movie. He was also kind enough to share test footage he shot during pre-production, which I’ve edited into the episode throughout our discussion.




Order a limited edition hardcover of WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING:

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Theme song by Heathenish Kid

Okay, that’s it for this week. You can support us on Patreon, browse the books in our webstore, and follow us on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter (PMMP | DMD | Ghoulish | personal). Reserve your ticket for the first annual Ghoulish Book Fest. You can also join us on the Ghoulish Discord.

See you next Saturday, ghouls.