I think I’m a pretty tough-minded guy. In my books and short stories I write about hard boiled characters facing some pretty harsh situations. Mordecai Slate, for example, takes on creatures that are the embodiment of evil. He often stands face-to-face with terrifying monsters that would make the average man collapse in fear. But not even Slate ever faced the hideous face of death as coolly and bravely as a dog named Oscar did on Sunday April 6.

Oscar was my daughter Lisa’s four-year old Morkie terrier. He was only 9 pounds, a ball of fluff that brought delight to my daughter and her two sons and, in fact, the entire family. He was small but he was feisty and protective of his family. And when a large pitbull ran toward them from a house down the street, he stood squarely in front of Lisa as the Pitbull ran up to them. The bull sniffed his face for a few seconds. My daughter froze in terror, praying nothing would happen but in the next instant the Pitbull had Oscar by the throat, and began the horrendous process of eating him alive. I won’t go into the gory details, but needless to say my daughter was severely traumatized. A neighbor came to the rescue and chased the damned hound away. But too late to save Oscar who was already lying on the ground torn apart. He died an hour later at an animal hospital.

He belonged to my daughter and grandsons, but Oscar stayed in our house quite often, sometimes for a week at a time. I used to take him on long walks in the woods and around Lake Accotink. It was a regular routine. As soon as I’d get up in the morning, he’d follow me around until I took a shower and put my shoes on. Then he’d start trying to talk to me. Making odd vocal sounds, as if saying, “Okay. Let’s go.” All you had to say was the word “walk” and his face would light up and he’d run for the door.

Later in the afternoon, I’d be up in my office tapping the keys, trying to put a story into words, and he’d sit outside my office, waiting to see if I was going to go out again. Sometime I’d go down to the living room and play the electric piano or the acoustic guitar down there, and he’d lie nearby on the soft carpet, listening. Or maybe just falling asleep. He seemed to like the music, although he hated the sound of a harmonica. He’d run out of the room if I played it. Sometimes I teased him with it.

But now when I go down to the living room and sit at the keyboard, or pick up the guitar and try to play something, I just can’t. Oscar’s not there.

Real tough-minded.


Television is by and large becoming unwatchable. And I’m not even talking about the miserable shows that are broadcast. That’s a subject that could take up another entire blog. Inane, asinine sit coms that nobody with an IQ of more than 50 would want to watch, shows about police investigations that include virtual autopsies or focus on sex crimes, reality shows that are about as far removed from reality as the daydream of a cokehead, celebrity worshipping talk shows that follow the miscreants that have become the idols of our youth, and news channels that would make the tabloids of the 1930s blush with shame, these are bad enough.

But that’s not what’s bothering me about television today.

It’s not even the bloody commercials that air in prime time. Guys with low testosterone crying about their lack of that old va-voom; women complaining about painful dryness; old couples reaching for the viagra and cialis. As annoying as all that is, it’s not the most annoying. And neither are all the commercials for medicines that have minor side effects such as heart attacks, difficulty swallowing or breathing and oh yeah, death. It’s like if you take the pill, you’d be better off risking the disease.

Even worse are the new micro channels that have popped up since TV converted to digital. I try watching movies on some of those channels and I swear you can count five minutes of actual movie time, interrupted by seven minutes of commercials. A 90 minute movie gets turned into a three hour torture test. You can hardly remember how the damn thing started by the time you reach the end. And what commercials those channels have! Shyster law firms, weight loss gimmicks, reverse mortgage swindles, term life insurance without a medical exam, etc., on and on.

But as bad as all that is, that’s not what bothers me the most about TV these days. The thing that’s got my goat is that on all the talk shows and news broadcast, whenever some CEO of a company, or the spokesman for a business association, or an attorney representing a plaintiff is interviewed,  the interviewer asks the question and the interviewee begins: “So . . .” and then they go on to give their response.

“So, we feel that climate change is absolute bunk and those who are proponents of it should be . . .”

“So, in the case of this particular car recall, we just don’t have all the answers yet, but we are investigating.”

“So, measeles is a childhood disease that we thought we had eradicated, but .  . .”

What’s going on here? What’s with all the “so’s”? Who talks like that? Is there some school for CEO’s and spokespeople that’s teaching all these people how to talk on TV. Is it some device designed to allow the interviewee a moment to gather his thoughts before he speaks? I can’t believe that, because there’s no thinking involved in these interviews. What they have to say is all written out and rehearsed.

Or are the TV networks coaching these people, teaching them this technique before they go on the air. I don’t know, but I am getting sick of the “so’s.” Stop it it. Just talk natural, people. TV’s annoying enough already.



From the CNN News Desk


The Transylvania Ministry of Information issued a statement announcing the banning of a novel entitled “Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto” published in the United States of America by Flying W Press. The ministry Sized Coverreported that the book was deemed by Transylvania Dept. of Cultural Affairs as a vicious attack on vampires around the world.

“This book should never have been allowed to be published, let alone sold,” Cultural Minister, Vlad Vladyvostok said. “The novel depicts vampires in the most disparaging manner and depicts wholesale slaughter of dozens of those of the vampiric persuasion.”

The Cultural Affairs Dept. announced it has collected hundreds of copies of the book from farmhouses, attics, and outhouses all throughout the Transylvanian countryside. The book is reportely being read in secret by the oppressed human population of that country.

“We will not stop until every copy of the pernicious book has been destroyed,” Vladyvostok said.

Author John M. Whalen told CNN, “They can complain all they want, and they can issue all the bans they want, but they can’t stop the truth from being told. I stand by my book 100 percent.”

Further bulletins as warranted.

Order your copy while you still can from Amazon.com. 

A couple of items.

First,  this is pretty wild. I just discovered that you can now download the soundtrack for Sized Coverthe Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto trailer for free at a site called Mp3Truck.com.




I don’t know who these guys are and I didn’t give permission for them to do it, but they aren’t charging anything for it, so I’m not going to object. What the heck. The more people can hear it the better.

So if you would like a free download of the Vampire Siege theme for your listening pleasure go to: http://mp3truck.net/play/RzBpdXpleGR1SFU-115/vampire-siege-at-rio-muerto-extended.html

Now you can plug your MP3 device into your ears and listen to the music while you read the book. What’s better than that? You can also get it as a ringtone for your cell phone! Now that is cool. 

Don’t forget, the novel is now available in a paperback edition from Amazon.com. I got my first sales report from Amazon and we sold a few copies during the first week. I expect Kindle sales will greatly outnumber paperback sales, but I’m glad it’s now available in both formats. 
Second item: They announced the winners of the New Pulp awards. Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto was nominated for best novel, but didn’t win. The winner was Slow Burn, a noir crime thriller  by Terrence McCauley. Congrats to him. 
Third item: I am going to be interviewed by Tommy Hancock, of Pro Se Productions. He hosts a podcast oddly enough called “Pulped.” My interview will air April 21. Please tune in.
That’s the latest news. Meantime, happy monster hunting. 

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 / Director: Cary Fukunaga


Sorry to say I was disappointed in the finale of True Detective on HBO last night. After seven great episodes the final installment was a let down. For two reasons. I thought the serial killings and child abductions would be found out to be part of a much wider ring of evil that involved Rev. Tuttle and his father (or was it brother) the State Senator. Those ideas were teased all through the miniseries but at the end it seemed like writer Nick Pizzolato just forgot about those elements, or chickened out at the end. 

And what about all those references to Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow? Nothing? Just another red herring among many.

The final confrontation with the lone killer was well staged but kind of weak. Two cops against one maniac. And they couldn’t handle him. Given all the deaths and missing children it seems improbable there weren’t more people involved.

But worst of all the writer followed the current trend of writing an arc for his main character. Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) all through the story is a total nihilist and one of the most interesting characters on television. But his near death experience converts him into a believer. Come on!

Dashiell Hammett wouldn’t have written it that way. But today’s writers and those who teach writing courses, are obsessed with the idea that the main character has to go through a metamorphosis. It makes a story totally predictable and that was one thing I thought this show would not turn out to be. Too bad.

It’s the bane of modern fiction writing– books and films. It makes a story too predictable. Start with a hero who is a loner and doesn’t like people. By the end of the story he loves everybody. Start with a person who hates cats and at the end he’s the owner of a pet store. He’s a hard-drinking cynic who at the end finds love and religion. Perhaps it’s an attempt by genre fiction writers to give their work a look of “literary” respectability.

The old pulp writers never worried about respectability. What they wanted to do was present a character who could face up to the evil in the world and not be changed or tarnished by it. I wished True Detective had ended when Marty visits Cohle in his hospital room and says he’ll come back to see him later and Cohle asks: “Why?”

“Don ‘t ever change, buddy,” Marty says and they give each other the finger.

The last scene outside the hospital gets all warm and fuzzy and totally ruins the previous 8 hours.

That’s my opinion. What did you think?


images (1)Thanks to those who helped make the Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto launch a success. Some books, both paperback and Kindle were sold over the weekend and continuing today. Someone even purchased a Kindle edition of the short story, Samurai Blade. I really appreciate that.

I’ve heard from Jennifer Easter and Steve Ross, two of the winners of the drawing. Now that I have their addresses I’ll be sending copies of the book out soon as I can. We got some snow and you’d think it was the end of the world. As expected, the government and everything else is shut down, including the Post Office. Once the panic is over, I’ll be able to ship the books straight away.

Still haven’t gotten Terry Alexander’s address. Send it along, Terry, and I’ll get your book to you.

Meantime, hang loose, everybody. The snow appears to have stopped. Time to get out there for another round with the snow shovel.

Today we’re celebrating Flying W Press’s release of its first paperback–Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto. The first novel featuring monster hunter Mordecai Slate has been selling well as a Kindle ebook since October, and now it’s finally available in soft cover.

As part of the celebration we’re giving away three paperbacks by means of a random drawing. We were going to pick names out of a cardboard box at noon, three and six p.m., but why drag it out? I know the suspense is killing everybody. Heh heh. Well, anyway.

And so, without further adieu, here are the names of the three winners:

Terry Alexander
Jennifer Easter
and last but not least
Steven Ross.

Winners, please send me a personal message here on Facebook on my personal page providing your mailing address and I’ll get a signed copy of the book off to you right away.

Sorry everybody couldn’t win, maybe next time. Meantime, here’s a link to the book trailer so you can hear the Vampire Siege soundtrack one more time.


Sized CoverGood Morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s official. “Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto” is now available in paperback. The softcover edition is now listed on Amazon.com for $14.99 with a 10 percent discount, making it $13.49. The Kindle edition is still $3.99.

We will have a drawing for three free paperbacks at noon, as promised. I’m happy to say we had nine discerning readers who put their names in. There were over 250 people who saw the post announcing the raffle, which was shared at five different facebook pages and my blog. Instead of three drawings during the day, all three will be drawn out of the box at high noon. No need for further melodrama.

Those included in the drawing are:

Jennifer Easter
Joe Crawford
Travis Perry
Craig Russette
Terry Alexander
Steven Ross
Stephen Gepp
Andrew Salmon
Bobby Nash

Thanks to everyone for participating. If I missed anybody, please let me know.

Come back at 12:00 pm EST for the drawing and good luck.

Okay, peoples. March 1 is launch day for the paperback edition of Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto, the novel that has just received a nomination for best novel of 2013 by the New Pulp Awards. To celebrate this auspicious occasion, Flying W Press is going to give three free books away.

I have to say the paperback looks really good. Laura Givens cover looks great at 6 by 9 inches, instead of that postage stamp you get on Kindle. And frankly, as convenient as Kindle is, there’s nothing like an actual book in your hands. If you want a chance to win one,here’s all you have to do.

After 12:00 midnight tonight and until 12:00 midnight EST Feb. 28, (in other words all day Friday) put “Gimme a book,” in the comments box below. Names of the commenters will be written down on pieces of paper and put into a cardboard box. The winners will be drawn from the box at noon, 3 p.m, and 6 p.m. EST March 1. Simple enough? There are no strings attached. The only request I have is that if you win, I’d appreciate it if you could post a review on Amazon.com.
flying w
So, good luck and happy monster hunting.

Flying W Press Over and Out.


Tommy Hancock, Coordinator of the New Pulp Awards (formerly the Pulp Ark Awards) which recognize the best in New Pulp each year, announced Feb. 27 that the final ballot of the 2014 New Pulp Awards has been compiled and released and voting has opened. My novel, Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto, has been nominated in the Best Novel of 2013 category. 

This is the first year of not only the new name for the Awards, but also that voting is open fully to the public. In the past, only those who nominated a work or person for an award were allowed to vote. “This is a big deal,” says Hancock. “This means the New Pulp Awards may actually be the only Pulp Awards truly representative of the fanbase. Having said that, though, Sized Coverwe are highly aware that anyone nominated or anyone supporting a nominee could rally up a whole slew of friends, family, and strangers and cast votes for them or their favorite. What we are encouraging is for no one to do that, but to encourage those who have read and/or reviewed the work to vote based on their interest in the work, not because the writer is their third cousin removed. We are having to work on a sort of honor system here and hope our voters will appreciate and respect that.”

Voting will continue through 3 PM CST March 12, 2014. The Awards will be presented at MidSouthCon in Memphis, Tennessee on March 23, 2014 at 2:30 PM.

The Ballot is available at www.newpulpawards2014.blogspot.com and at www.facebook.com/NewPulpAwards2014. Voting and results and other news related to the Awards will be posted and can be followed at these pages.

Needless to say I’m pretty happy that Rio Muerto has garnered a nomination for this important award. The competition is fierce– 16 nominated novels, that include Will Murray’s Doc Savage: The Miracle Menace; Manchurian Shadows by Teel James Glenn; Bad Sunset by Alex S. Johnson; and the Adventures of Gravedigger, Volume I by Barry Reese. Win. lose or draw, I’m thrilled to be in the running.


In addition, Use Enough Gun, the third volume of the stellar Legends of the Monster Hunter anthologies from Emby Press was also nominated in the Best Anthology category. Just so happens I have a story, The Shape of a Cage in that collection as well. That short story has also been nominated for a Pushcart Award.

So it’s a big news day for me and my friends over at Emby Press. Please pick up a ballot and vote for us.

And don’t forget, tomorrow I’ll be announcing the launch of the paperback edition of Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto and how you can win a free copy.
For further information on the New Pulp Awards email newpulp2014@yahoo.com.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.