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October…

This will be an October to remember for me. Despite the pandemic affecting Halloween celebrations, there is still a great deal for me to celebrate and to be grateful for.

First, I’ve released a novella titled “The Shopkeeper; Curios, Curiosities and Rarities” to introduce my newest antagonist, a rather unpleasant fellow named Aleister Prince. In the reviews I’ve received so far, it seems my readers want more, that it could have gone further. My mental image of Aleister is very close to Peter Cushing’s role as Arthur Grimsdyke in 1972’s “Tales From The Crypt”, directed by Freddie Francis.

I suspect Aleister will appear again at some point…

And a truly humbling experience followed shortly after release. I made this available to members of the Horror Writers Association for consideration, with very low expectations.

Imagine my surprise when this page:

contained this entry in the list:

This is not a nominee, it’s just an entry in a list of works that readers have suggested other readers might enjoy, but it represents a level of validation I’ve never experienced before. I am beyond grateful!

As if all that weren’t a full October, we’ll also see this book release on Halloween itself, October 31st:

I grew up with the Reader’s Digest, always having a copy handy for those times when a short read was just perfect. In this collection, I’ve collected both short stories and Drabbles of exactly 100 words together to create a digest for times when a short, dark read would be just perfect. To better illustrate my motivation, allow me to share the forward from the book;

Here we are in 2020, the year when life as we knew it became extinct. We’ve had nature’s fury, driven by global warming, monstrous insect species making their debut, and then came COVID-19.

The pandemic is a global crisis, and still rages as I write these words, largely driven by individuals who choose, for reasons I will never understand, to ignore guidance from the experts and the science that supports that guidance.

I believe they call that “Natural Selection”.

For my part, I listen, and listen well. My wife and I remain at home, only venturing out for necessities like groceries, medication refills, and oh yes… maintaining an inventory of adult beverages for our enjoyment in the backyard oasis.

One of my favorite daydreams takes place at a 1950s era diner, the ones finished with chrome everywhere and a juke at each table behind the napkins and condiments.

At a booth in this diner sit two men, each with a pad of paper and a couple pencils in front of them. Their cups rest on the end of the table for easy refills and the ashtray in front of the napkins fills quickly, requiring frequent emptying, but Susie doesn’t mind at all.

Rod and Steve are regulars, always coming in at off hours because they will sit at this table for hours kicking ideas back and forth, writing feverishly on the pads before them. A diner for most, this place serves as an office for them.

In this daydream of mine, Rod Serling and Stephen King have the opportunity to not only meet, but to collaborate on a magazine, their answer to the Reader’s Digest. They plan to call it Full Moon Digest, and fill it with stories best read by moonlight. With the digital world and self-publishing a good half century away yet, they will type carefully, place their finished manuscript in a box and then make the rounds, pitching to publishers in mahogany offices filled with the aroma of cigars and fine whiskey.

As much as I wish I could be sitting in the next booth, listening to the amazing ideas these men would be discussing, I’m here at home, staying away from the pandemic outside.

That status does make its way into some of the stories contained in this collection, having been written recently. I find quite a bit of myself in some of them, however I’ll keep which parts those are to myself.

What I will share, as I always do, is my wish that you enjoy them!

Sleep well…

I think that foreword serves as an apt description for what I’m hoping to accomplish with this collection. As to whether it will succeed or not, I leave that in the hands of those who elect to read it.

Moving forward, I have an idea for a new book in the very beginning stages. I’m sweeping my mind with a metal detector, looking for potential land mines. Has this idea been done? Is it too close to something I’ve seen or read bubbling away in my subconscious that would lead me to something I should completely avoid? It falls into a similar vein to both a Stephen King novel and a John Carpenter film. Both are extraordinary sources of inspiration, but I don’t want my work to be a poor imitation of theirs. I’ll keep jotting notes, scenes and characters and see how it progresses.

Until next time, do sleep well…

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