THE DEVIL CREPT IN, by Ania Ahlborn

An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.

That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

 

BOWIE IN BERLIN, by Thomas Jerome Seabrook

Driven to the brink of madness by cocaine, overwork, marital strife, and a paranoid obsession with the occult, Bowie fled Los Angeles in 1975 and ended up in Berlin, the divided city on the frontline between communist East and capitalist West. There he sought anonymity, taking an apartment in a rundown district with his sometime collaborator Iggy Pop, another refugee from drugs and debauchery, while they explored the city and its notorious nightlife. In this intensely creative period, Bowie put together three classic albums Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger with collaborators who included Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, and Tony Visconti. He also found time to produce two albums for Iggy Pop (The Idiot and Lust For Life) and to take a leading role in a movie, the ill-starred Just A Gigolo. Bowie In Berlin examines that period and those records, exploring Bowie’s fascination with the city, unearthing his sources of inspiration, detailing his working methods, and teasing out the elusive meanings of the songs. Painstakingly researched and vividly written, the book casts new light on the most creative and influential era in David Bowie’s career.

Break-time reading at work:

 Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Fun Home, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama is a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.

A New York Times, USA Today, and Time Best Book of the Year

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven.

Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother — to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

 

At-home reading:

Planet of the Apes Omnibus: Before the Fall by Gabriel Hardman

Twenty years before an Astronaut named Taylor fell from the stars, the Planet of the Apes is gripped with a cataclysmic crisis between Apes and Man!

Ape society is in flux. The rigid caste system is breaking down. Humans can’t speak and are considered animals, but are tolerated in the City. Scientific curiosity is smashing old taboos. But not everyone is happy with the new status quo. When an Ape general named Aleron discovers that the Lawgiver’s most sacred commandment—Ape Does Not Kill Ape—has been broken, he unwittingly unlocks a vast conspiracy deep in Ape City that will upend society, and all of history. On the run and faced with unspeakable betrayal, Aleron crosses paths with Doctor Zaius, Zira, Cornelius, and others as he journeys into the heart of the Forbidden zone to discover the truth.

Collected together for the first time in one prestigious omnibus, experience the entire critically-acclaimed Apes saga from Gabriel Hardman (Green Lantern) and Corinna Bechko (Star Wars: Legacy), and celebrated illustrators Marc Laming (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Damian Couceiro (Old Man Logan). Features Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, Exile on the Planet of the Apes, and Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm.

Cat Diary, by Junji Ito

Is there anything spookier than a silent feline, eyes glinting, stalking you in the night…IN YOUR OWN HOME?? Master of horror Junji Ito turns his twisted eye on his own life in this comedic graphic memoir about becoming a cat owner, now reissued in a deluxe hardcover featuring an exclusive interivew with Ito and a NEW cover illustration by the author that GLOWS IN THE DARK! The perfect gift for the slightly-twisted cat lover in your life.

Reigning king of horror manga Junji Ito presents a series of hissterical tales chronicling his real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner. Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know…his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow–Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends.

AVENGERS: KREE/SKRULL WAR

A conflict of star-spanning proportions – with Earth caught in the crossfi re! Those eternal intergalactic enemies, the merciless Kree and the shape-changing Skrulls, have gone to war – and our planet is situated on the front lines! Can Earth’s Mightiest Heroes bring about an end to the fi ghting before humanity becomes a casualty of war? And what good are even a dozen super-powered champions against the vast military machines of two of the great empires of the cosmos? The key to victory lies with the expatriate Kree Captain Mar-Vell – and his human host, honorary Avenger Rick Jones! Featuring the trendsetting artwork of Neal Adams, the Kree/Skrull War is universally acknowledged as one of the fi nest and most important sagas in the Marvel canon. Guest-starring the Fantastic Four, Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. and more!

COLLECTING: AVENGERS (1963) 89-97

from the book 642 Things to Write About:

Describe five memories—events you remember really well.  Then take one of them further.

 

1) My mother taking me to a carnival on a random cloudy day.

2) Kara likes my shirt.

3) Walking with Caleb and Charli.

4) Getting laid off, twice.

5) Buying comics with Scott

 

 

I remember my mother taking me to the carnival one random cloudy fall day.  I don’t remember seeing any other people there.  We rode a few rides and a guy who ran one of the games kept trying to get us to play one.  He showed us how to beat it, but I was maybe 8 or 9, NOT athletic or confident in my abilities at all, and I just wanted to ride the scrambler again.  This guy, however, wanted in my mother’s pants.  She wasn’t having it, she just wanted to take her kid to the carnival.  We didn’t have much back then, so a random day of fun like that went a long way and I wonder sometimes about her motivations for that day.  I believe she just wanted to take her kid out for some fun.

 

But what if…?

 

 

“Pulling Her Weight”

 

The autumn wind wrapped around the boy as soon he got out of the car, a beat-up old VW Bug that hadn’t had a muffler in years and sounded more like a Harley when it passed by than a piece of German engineering.

 

The carnival had been set up in an empty lot next to a Wendy’s, and all around, the boy marveled at the bright, colorful rides with their flashing lights and spinning cars.

 

Mother paid for a string of tickets and asked the boy “Where to first?”

 

He pointed to the Scrambler and together they were whirled around in Spirograph-like circles, the boy laughing as the machine went faster and faster for a too-brief moment, before slowing and letting them off.

 

He ran around to the entrance again and Mother gave the ticket-taker another bundle of red cardboard to let them back on.

 

If the boy noticed they were the only two there that day, it didn’t register consciously.  He was just happy to be out on a random day, enjoying carnival rides with his mother.

 

It wasn’t often they got to do things like this together.  Most of the boy’s days were spent in school where he was part of a split third/fourth grade class in yet another new school, the fourth one in four years.  And now here he was again, after yet another move, and another new school.

 

He’d started in kindergarten, he and Mother living with her boyfriend, but the boyfriend was abusive, and Mother had reached the end of her rope.  School number two was when they were living with Uncle Jed, then the next year he and Mother had their own place, this time with Aunt Trudy.

 

He didn’t know why they had moved out of that place; he was only seven and such things were beyond the limits of his worldview.  All he knew was that now they lived with his grandparents in a one-bedroom house down the street from school number four.  Moving so often, the boy didn’t make friends easily, finding it better to entertain himself, so he was perfectly content to ride the rides with Mother, the only constant in his life up to that point.

 

There had been a brief period earlier in the year, the summer before third grade, when Mother was dating a man who lived on a farm and the boy had spent a few days there alone with him.  He’d watched the man build a shelter for his pigs, and the boy remembered seeing one of those pigs, dead, half-eaten by a coyote.

 

Another time, he remembered spending the night with his grandfather, who wasn’t really his grandfather, but he and Grandma had been together since before the boy was born, so as far as the world was concerned, he was Grandpa.  Grandpa had a farm just outside of town, not near as big or as impressive as the other farm.  He and Grandpa had stayed up late watching horror movies and the next day, the boy helped Grandpa plant seeds in the garden.

 

He remembered Grandpa and Mother arguing the day before.  Grandpa said something about Mother not pulling her weight, but the boy thought that was weird because Mother wasn’t fat.

 

Mother said she was broke, but that was weird, too, because she seemed fine to the boy.

 

Grandma said she should have thought of that before she spread her legs.

 

The boy had seen his mother exercising once and she had spread her legs while doing stretches, but he didn’t see a problem with that.

 

After he had helped Grandpa in the garden, things calmed down.  He would come home from school and do his homework in the kitchen, then play outside until it was time to eat dinner.  At the end of the day, Grandma and Grandpa went to bed while Mother unfolded their bed from the couch and they went to bed, too.

 

Life fell into a dull rhythm.  School, play, eat, bed.  Over and over with no break in the routine until this cold autumn day in the empty lot next to the Wendy’s.

 

After the Scrambler, they headed to another ride, the Tilt-a-Whirl, but a man who operated the basketball game called them over.  “Make a basket and win a prize,” he said.

 

The boy wasn’t interested, he just wanted to spin around as fast as he could.  But the barker was persistent, and Mother stopped.

 

The object was to toss a ball into a basket.  If it stayed in, you won.  If it bounced out, you lost.  He showed them how easy it was, making several baskets in a row and telling them exactly where to aim.  The boy had to admit, he did like the look of the stuffed animals along the wall.  He nodded and smiled, thinking this was going to be an easy win, then he could get back to the rides, this time with a new friend beside him.

 

Mother handed the man a dollar, and the man handed the boy the ball.

 

He shot, aiming for the spot in the basket where the man had showed them.  The ball went in, then bounced back out and fell to the cold autumn ground.

 

The boy wanted to cry.  He’d aimed for the right spot, why hadn’t it stayed in?  He and his mother walked away from the game, the boy thinking how much he wanted that stuffed animal, and feeling bad he had made his mother waste a dollar when he knew how few of them she had.

 

He asked how many tickets they had left, and Mother said, “Enough for three more rides.”

 

“Ok.”

 

He scanned the carnival, trying to decide which three he wanted to ride.  They still hadn’t made it to the Tilt-a-Whirl, so that was next.  The Octopus scared him, so that was out.  He didn’t see a lot of other rides that looked like something he would enjoy, so maybe the Tilt-a-Whirl again and then the Scrambler one more time?  But if they went back to the Scrambler, they would have to pass the games and he didn’t want to look at the games again.

 

After they rode the Tilt-a-Whirl for the third time, he noticed Mother was crying and he didn’t know why; they were having a great day.

 

“What’s wrong, Mama,” he asked.

 

“Nothing,” she said, sniffling and wiping her eyes.  “I’m ok.  I promise.”

 

“But you’re crying.”

 

“I’m fine,” she said.  “I promise.”

 

“Is it time to go home now?” he said, looking at her empty hand where the tickets had been.

 

“Not just yet,” Mother said.  “Are you having fun?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“You like it here?”

 

“I love it here.  Well, the rides anyway.  I don’t like the games so much.”

 

Mother was definitely crying, no matter how much she tried to wipe away the tears.  He wished he knew what she was so sad about.

 

“How would you like to stay and ride some more?”

 

“Can I?  But we already used the tickets.”

 

“Well, how about this,” she said and wiped more tears from her face.  “How about … you help them out with some stuff they need help with, and they’ll let you ride as many rides as you want.”

 

“Really?” the boy said, smiling wide, but not wanting to seem too happy with Mother crying like this.

 

A man appeared at the boy’s side, and he looked up and saw it was the man from the cheating basketball game.  The man put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and Mother said, “You’re gonna go with him and I’ll be back later to get you, okay?”

 

“Um … okay, Mama.  Don’t forget.”

 

“I won’t,” Mother said.  Before leading the boy away, the basketball man shook Mother’s hand and the boy watched him stuff a wad of money into it and that made Mother cry even harder. She cried so hard she had to run away and the boy watched her go, wondering how long he had to help out before he could get back on the rides.

 

END

WINNER OF SPECIAL JURY PRIZE AT 2021 FESTIVAL D’ANGOULÊME ― NAMED A BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL OF 2020 BY THE GUARDIAN

From “Britain’s most loved comics artist” comes a superhero epic like no other―an ordinary man gains superpowers by donning women’s clothing, saving London and maybe even himself.

August Crimp can fly, but only when he wears women’s clothes. Soaring above a gorgeous, lush vista of London, he is Dragman, catching falling persons, lost souls, and the odd stranded cat. After he’s rejected by the superhero establishment, where masked men chase endorsement deals rather than criminals, August quietly packs up his dress and cosmetics and retreats to normalcy ― a wife and son who know nothing of his exploits or inclinations.

When a technological innovation allows people to sell their souls, they do so in droves, turning empty, cruel, and hopeless, driven to throw themselves off planes. August is terrified of being outed, but feels compelled to bring back Dragman when Cherry, his young neighbor, begs him to save her parents. Can Dragman take down the forces behind this dreadful new black market? Can August embrace Dragman and step out of the shadows?

The debut graphic novel from British cartoon phenomenon Steven Appleby, Dragman is at once a work of artistic brilliance, sly wit, and poignant humanity, a meditation on identity, morality, and desire, delivered with levity and grace.

For this prompt, I actually wrote a different ending than the one I ended up using.  I thought I would include it here just for your own edification.  Picking up just before the narrator shoots the father:

 

I gave another hard shove against the door and knocked the man backwards. He tripped over his own foot and fell on his ass.  The door slammed back against the wall and I stepped inside.

 

He tried to get up and I knew he would come at me.  Luckily I knew of the troubles in 1932 Argentina and I came prepared to protect myself.  I pulled a pistol from my jacket pocket and fired into the man’s gut.

 

I grabbed the book and ran back to the point of origin.

 

When you travel from the future, back to the past, and back again to your own time, sometimes there are small resets to the timeline, subtle changes that are incorporated into your memory to help you adjust.  Bradbury wasn’t entirely wrong about his butterfly effect.  We were forbidden from making drastic changes.  No one was allowed to go back and kill baby Hitler, for instance, or start up Apple Computers before Steve Jobs, but the history of this comic book began and ended in 1932 and after that it became a “whale”, a book people spend their lives searching for.  So whatever happened to this copy, originally, there was little chance my taking it had effected anything.

 

Until I saw the headlines.  They flew by, filling my head with visions and information.  A young boy who saw his father gunned down in the middle of his foyer had developed a new obsession.  He became very single-minded in his hatred of all things American, and eventually that boy grew to power and was elected president of Argentina in what was reported to be another rigged election much, like the one from the Infamous Decade.

 

In 1964, the boy and his army launched an attack on the US, killing millions and injuring twice as many.  The country never recovered.  We did eventually fight back the Argentinian army and drove them from our shores, but the damage was done, making the great depression of the 1930s look like a trial run.

 

I was sliding through the 1990s when it happened and the changes in the timestream caught up with my 2040 and the man who pioneered time travel research was never born, his great-grandparents having been killed in the Battle of Boston Harbor in 1973.

 

I stopped sliding and found myself having covered the distance, thank God.  I was back in Casa Grande, Arizona, my hometown.  It had been rebuilt since the war years, and I was still here, so that was good.  But I was smack in the middle of one of the low points in comic collecting, right when everything went bust.

 

But, I thought, I could rebuild from here.  I’d made one fortune, I could make another. And I already had my first book.  In fact, many of those expensive books would be even cheaper now, so many years before the MCU spec began driving up the prices.  I looked down at the treasure in my hand, that copy of BALLYHOP that I’d been so careful of.  That’s when I saw what had been keeping the book on the table.  Someone had obviously set a teacup on top of it, and when the man fell, he must have jostled the table; there was a still-fresh ring of brown where the teacup had spilled.  All this, I thought, looking around at where I was and how things had changed, for a lousy tea-cup-marked cover.  The one copy in existence and it wouldn’t even make a 5.0 grade.

 

Then the memories came rushing back.  I had been ejected before the stream caught up and I suddenly “remembered” the story of the boy’s mother, who, upon seeing her favorite teacup lying shattered on the floor next to her dead husband, had been so filled with rage, she’d worked tirelessly to help the boy seek his revenge.  She was the true brains behind his presidency, but for a woman in that part of the world to take power was unheard of in those times.  I looked once more at the low-grade book in my hands and wondered if it had been worth it.

 

I sat down where I was, where the Arizona branch of the Time Institute had stood once upon a timeline.  I opened the book and started reading, breathing in that paper and ink smell.

 

Write a short story that is set in Argentina in 1932, in which a teacup plays a crucial role.

 

 

When I got into collecting comics in high school, I caught a lot of shit from normies.  Why are you reading comics, they would ask me.  Why you reading those kids’ books?  Are you too stupid for real books?

 

I shrugged them off and went back to it.  For years, I took hell over my reading choices.  Why would I read about a man being trapped in the belly of whale only to find salvation, when there was the story of Jo Nah of the Legion of Super-Heroes who got swallowed up by a space whale and gained superpowers instead?

 

But eventually reading comics turned into collecting comics and collecting turned into more collecting and soon my collecting spanned a hundred thousand books.  Which sounds like a lot, I know.  But did you know the first book to ever feature the words “comic book” on the back cover was THE YELLOW KID IN MCFADDEN FLATS in 1897.  A lot of people think is was FAMOUS FUNNIES in 1935, but that copy of YELLOW KID featured the words “comic book” on the back cover, and to me that makes me the first comic book.

 

See, I wasn’t happy with just having the most comics.  No, I’m a completist and I wanted ALL the comics.

 

I had hunted at conventions all across the globe, I had comics in every language and format.  I had war comics, romance comics, horror comics, pre-code comics, post-code comics, comics for kids, comics that were “suggested for mature readers”.  I had golden age, silver age, bronze age, chromium age, I had comics FOR ALL THE AGES.  And I wanted more.

 

By the time I had been collecting for a good 40 years, it was 2040.  Some computer at MIT had predicted this would be the year civilization collapsed, but for me it was the year things got interesting.

 

That was the year time travel became a reality.

 

In my own time, I’d completed a run of BALLYHOO, a humor mag from Dell Publishing that ran from 1931 to 1939.  This was technically a magazine—was in fact the foerunner to MAD Magazine—but the contents were a series of single-panel satire cartoons, and that, to me, made it a comic book.  What I didn’t have, though, was a single-issue of BALLYHOP, a one-shot satire of the satire.  It came out in September of 1932 but in all of my hunts, I’d never come across a physical copy.

 

The legend of the book loomed large, but I’d never talked to anyone who had seen it in print, nor could I find a digital copy anywhere.  Even if I had, though, I would still want the floppy; digital comics are okay to read, but they don’t have that smell and for me comics are a four-senses deal.  I read with my eyes, feel the pages with my finger, I hear the flip of the pages with my ears, and I smell that old newsprint and ink with my nose.  I had once bought a digital copy of ACTION COMICS #1, and it had scratched the itch for about five seconds until I “opened” that front cover and started reading.  I eventually paid $3 million for a mid-grade slabbed copy.  And then went back and forth with myself over whether to crack the slab and read it or not.  Eventually I decided not to crack the slab and read the digital copy, but it was one of the few exceptions.  If I hadn’t paid so much for it, that thing would have been cracked, read, and re-slabbed, probably at a lower grade and for ACTION COMICS #1 it just wasn’t worth it.

 

But back to BALLYHOP.  In 2040, I learned from a few different sources that there was a rumor of a copy last seen in 1932, the year it was published, that had made its way to Argentina.

 

I booked passage that day and by the next morning was in South America.

 

There was turmoil in Argentina in those days.  This was known as the Infamous Decade, marked by political coups and fraudulent elections, but none of that mattered to me.  I was only here for the funny books.

 

I’d done as much research as I could before traveling back, and I felt confident I knew where the book had last been seen.  I knocked on a door and waited and soon the door was opened by a young boy.

 

“Excuse me,” I said, “is your father home?”

 

The boy stared at me, dumbfounded, and I realized he probably didn’t speak English.  I asked again in Spanish.  “Discúlpame. ¿Está tu padre en casa?”

 

He disappeared into the house and I spotted the corner of the book on a small table just inside a little hallway.

 

A few second later, a man came to the door and, thankfully, asked in English, “Can I help you?”

 

“Yes,” I said, my speech well-rehearsed.  “Sir, my name is Robert Jay.  I’ve come all the way from America in search of a book I believe to be in your possession.”

 

My plan had been to purchase the book from him, as I’d purchased every book in my collection except one.  A high-grade copy of the first issue of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.  I’d owned a copy at one time, but a friend of mine, or someone I had thought to be my friend, had taken the book from the bag one day, bent back the tiniest bit of a corner of the front cover, then re-bagged it.  I discovered it some time later, knew immediately who it had been, so I stole his copy when he wasn’t looking one day.  While I felt totally justified in my actions, I always knew I hadn’t paid for that copy.

 

I wouldn’t let it happen again.

 

“I’m sorry?” the man said.  “I don’t understand.”

 

“If you’ll indulge me for just one moment,” I said, and pulled out a picture of the book’s cover.  I showed it to him and said, “I believe you have this book, and I would like to buy it from you.”

 

“What?” he said, now utterly confused.  I tried to understand, tried to remind myself not everyone knew the value of comics, especially in 1932 in Argentina.  In fact, I was relying so much on him having no idea what he had in his possession, that it would be a snap to buy from him.  But I didn’t expect this level of confusion and I wondered if he might be hard of hearing or if his English wasn’t as good as I’d first thought.

 

So I explained myself again, showing him the picture, then pointing to the corner of the book I saw inside his hallway.  He looked back, saw what I was pointing at, then turned back and shook his head saying, “No thank you, bye bye now,” and he started closing the door.

 

“Sir,” I said, sticking my foot in the door, “be reasonable.  I’m offering you a substantial amount of money for a book that cost you fifteen cents.  Please reconsider.”

 

“No,” he said, and he tried to shut the door on my foot.  But I was not budging.  I can’t have a collection of all the comics if I don’t have ALL the fucking comics and this was one that simply was not available in 2040.

 

“Sir, please,” I said again, pushing against the door.  “I’ll double it.  What I offered you before, I can pay twice that amount.  I would really like to buy your book.”

 

“My son loves this book,” he said.

 

“And with the money I give you, you can buy him many many books he loves.  I’m only asking for this one.”

 

“My son,” he said, “he is … special.  Not like other boys.  He likes a thing and that is all he sees.  If I take this book from him, he will not react well and that will be very bad for me.”

 

He was saying his kid was on the spectrum, which was a distinction I’m sure they didn’t have in Argentina in 1932.  But I understood it well.  My nephew had been like that with his clothes for a very long time.  But this kid wasn’t my nephew and once I went back to 2040, I wouldn’t have to deal with his fit, so I tried once more.

 

“Sir, I’m imploring you.  Whatever I can offer to convince you to sell me the book, it’s yours.  Whatever will make your life easier.”

 

“You leaving will make my life easier.  You leaving my son alone with his book will make my life easier.”

 

“He isn’t even reading it,” I said.  “It’s there on the table.  Maybe he’s forgotten about it and he won’t even notice.”

 

“He’ll notice,” he said.

 

Fine, I thought.  I could feel this slipping through my hands and I was about to start panicking so I did the only thing I could think of.  I made another exception.

 

I gave another hard shove against the door and knocked the man backwards. He tripped over his own foot and fell on his ass.  The door slammed back against the wall and I stepped inside.

 

He tried to get up and I knew he would come at me.  Luckily I knew of the troubles in 1932 Argentina and I came prepared to protect myself.  I pulled a pistol from my jacket pocket and fired into the man’s gut.

 

He went down and I stepped fully into the house.  And that’s when I saw it.  The book was there on the table.  And sitting on top of it was … a teacup.  Some inconsiderate, uneducated moron had put a fucking teacup on top of a comic book!

 

That’s when the rest of his family came running.  His wife and kids all began to flock to the front hallway to see what the noise was all about and I was standing there over their father and husband, gun still in hand, staring at the ruined comic.

 

The man lay on the floor, clutching his gut and struggling to speak.  “¡Correr! ¡Salvaos!”  I don’t know what he was saying, I was still too dumbfounded.

 

I knocked the offending cup to the floor where it spilled it contents and shattered.  I picked up the book and was heartbroken to see the cup had left a very visible ring of brown.

 

“You ruined it!” I yelled.  But what could I do, leave it?  I’d come all this way, had shot a man for it.  I was breaking one of my only rules about collecting by stealing the book, but that was his fault.  I had offered much more than he’d paid for it, he was just being unreasonable.  He had forced my hand, so of course I couldn’t leave without taking it with me.

 

But first I had to deal with his family.  His wife stood there crying at the sight of her dying husband.  She raised her fists and ran at me, screaming, so, on instinct, I shot her too.  I wouldn’t shoot the kids.  There were three of them all crying and looking up at me, terrified.

 

They didn’t know any better, and maybe with such an unreasonable father out of the way they could grow up with a better sense of how the world operates.  I did them a favor.

 

I tucked the gun away, held firm to the book, and ran.  I sped back to the point of origin, activated the portal, and sent myself back to 2040, the only physical copy ever reported of BALLYHOP firmly in hand, but careful not to roll or crease it.

 

As I slid back through the timestream to 2040, I just staring at that cover.  No, I was staring at the cup ring.  That stupid, damnable teacup had ruined my book.  And, granted, being in the hands of a kid that age in 1932, it wasn’t a mint condition book without the ring.  But dammit, still!  It would go in the collection, obviously, but I knew I would always be on the lookout for another copy.  I’d consider this my reader copy, then, but the hunt continued.  For collectors like me, it never ends.

FROM THE BOOK “642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT”:

Write a scene in which a woman is fired after only a week on the job.  Just a week earlier, the same person who is now firing her was very persuasive in convincing her to take the job.

 

Lila entered Amy’s office and said, “Hey.”

 

Amy looked up from her computer screen for a second and returned the greeting, then said, “Have a seat, please.”

 

Lila skirted around the chair in front of Amy’s desk and sat down, feeling like she had in ninth grade when Vince told her he was going to set off an M-80 in the bathroom.  She’d never heard the BOOM, but when Principal Skinner called her into the office, she had noticed the item sitting on his desk and tried very hard not to react, desperate to convince the man she knew nothing about it.  She quickly scanned Amy’s desk for anything that shouldn’t be there.

 

Amy finished whatever she was doing with a final keystroke, then turned to Lila and said, “How are you doing?”

 

Lila shrugged and said, “I was doing just fine.  Is something wrong?”

 

Amy shook her head and said, “No, nothing’s wrong, really.  It’s just … we’re gonna have to let you go.  I’m sorry.”

 

“Um, what?” Lila asked, shock lodged in her throat like a rock.  “Why?”

 

“We’ve had reports you’ve been sleeping on the job.”

 

“No, I haven’t!” Lila said more emphatically than she’d meant to.  “Who said that?”

 

“That’s all confidential, but it’s from a reliable source and, I’m sorry, but you were told at orientation that sleeping on the job was grounds for termination.”

 

“Except I haven’t been sleeping on the job!” Lila insisted.  “I want to know who the hell said I was!”

 

“Look,” Amy said, steepling her fingers on the desk in front of her, her face all concern and heartbreak, “I don’t like this any more than you do.  You’ve only been here a week—”

 

“Because you convinced me to take this job,” Lila added.

 

“Right.  So I hate even more having to be the one to do this, but my hands are tied.”  She held her clasped hands up off the desk as if Lila was expected to see the invisible ropes binding them.  “I need you to clean out your locker and someone will walk you out to your car.”

 

“This is bullshit!” Lila said.  “Amy, I wasn’t sleeping!  What the fuck is going on here?”

 

“I’m gonna ask you not to use that kind of language.  Please gather your things and go.”

 

“That kind of language?  You just fired me for something I didn’t fucking do, of course I’m gonna use that kind of language because this is bullshit.  I think I deserve to know who said I was sleeping and I’d like them to say it to my face!”

 

“And I wish I could give out that information, I think you’re owed it.  But I can’t.  We promise everyone who comes to us anonymity.”

 

“Fine.  Then I saw someone sleeping on the job, too.  When I came in here, you were zonked out in your chair, head back and drooling.  Who do I go to with that?”

 

“We both know that isn’t true, Lila,” Amy said, sitting up straight in her chair, probably to indicate she was wide awake and alert.

 

“Neither is this,” Lila yelled.  “I wasn’t fucking sleeping on the job!”

 

At Lila’s raised voice, the door opened and one of the security guards entered, asking, “Everything ok in here?”

 

“Everything’s fine,” Amy said.  “Could you escort Lila to the lockers so she can get her things, then out to her car, please?”

 

The guard nodded and held the door for Lila.  Lila looked back at Amy, the woman who was solely responsible for her taking this job only a week ago.  She shook her head and said again, “This is bullshit.  I hope this place burns down.”  Then she walked out.

 

As Lila was leaving, Greg Ayers, one of the other supervisors in Amy’s department, entered.  The door closed behind him, and he asked Amy, “How was it?”

 

“Did you not hear it?” Amy asked.

 

“Yeah, sounded rough.”

 

“But it’s done,” Amy said.

 

“So why did you hire her if you were just gonna make up a reason to get rid of her?” Greg asked.

 

“Power,” Amy said.  “I heard Hitchcock used to fire someone right away from his movie sets, just to show he was in charge.  Every so often, I like to bring someone in, give em a few days, then fire them.  Keeps everyone else in line.”

 

“So, she wasn’t sleeping?”

 

“Nah,” Amy said, waving away the very idea.  “She was awesome.  But she wasn’t in the union yet, so no grievances.  Try to fire one of those motherfuckers, even if they WERE sleeping, and you’ve got a battle on your hands.  No, this’ll do.  Word will get round, the worker bees will shape up, those who need shaping up, and all will be right.”

 

“That’s some cold shit,” Greg said.  “Well, it’s time for lunch.  See ya.”

 

“See ya,” Amy said.  Greg closed the door behind him as he went.

 

 

For the last several weeks, I’ve been giving away a lot of books on Amazon, running free promotions Sunday through Thursday on various titles in my back catalog.  This week is no exception.

This week’s book is the most recent in my Angel Hill Shorts series, “Jack the Lion”, and I hope you check it out (by clicking THIS LINK RIGHT HERE and, if you like it, I also hope you wouldn’t mind leaving a review:

Angel Hill is home to The Lonely Man, the Ash Wednesday killer, and who knows what’s going on at the Mertland Childrens’ Home. But for twelve-year-old Frank, the only evil he fears is his mother’s new husband, Terry.

The source of all the ridicule and shame Frank faces on a daily basis, the swats to the head, the laughter when Franks falls and needs stitches, Terry is the source of it all.

Frank’s only confidant is a stuffed animal named Jack. But like Jack always says, “What do you need friends for, you’ve got the best one ever right here.”

Jack the Lion is a solitary story for the lonely, the story of one boy’s abusive childhood at the hands of one who’s job it was to protect him—and the story of the one who finally did.

excerpted from the latest issue of the C. Dennis Moore Newsletter, which you can subscribe to here:

 

I’ve been thinking the last two days about this list I have taped to the side of my desk, a list of titles I was going to work on from a few years ago.  Originally the list was 14 titles long and since then I’ve completed 6 of them.  Which isn’t terrible, almost halfway there.  But I seem to remember in DOING IT WRITE, somewhere, saying I had worked out the math and it was entirely possible to complete that list within a year.  I just can’t remember how many words a day it would have required, going by the estimated word counts I had worked up.  I can’t find it, so maybe it was in the follow-up book that never came out.

 

Either way, I’ve been thinking about that list.  Doing the math again, if I take a rough estimate of what’s on that list right now, how many words I think they’ll be each, I get 390,000.

 

That’s only 32,500 words a month, or 1083 words a day using a 30-day month.  I can do 1083 words a day so easily you don’t even know!

 

But would I?

 

Some mornings I get up a half hour later than I meant to and that throws me off.  Some days I need to work on updating old books or setting up free promotions or the newsletter.  Some days my computer takes up the entire morning with updating for the 20th time that week…

 

In an ideal world, I would take the next year and finish everything on that list, which still consists of the next Band of Gypsies novella, which is over halfway done, THE THIRD FLOOR 2, THE OUTSIDER’S GUIDE TO ANGEL HILL (a novel), “The Kingdom 2” and “The Night 2” (novellas), “Heart of the World”, a short novel of maybe 30,000 words, RITE OF DAWN (a complete rewrite of a very early shitty novel, which would probably be 50,000-60,000 words), and an Angel Hill podcast novel.  Three novels and five novellas in a year?

 

Three novels in a year.  Short novels, about 80,000 words each which seems to be my standard.  Man, novels are hard.

 

I don’t know.  The more I think about it, the more daunting the task seems.  Plus, it would completely eliminate Invasion Agents, Angel Hill shorts, and the Holiday Horrors.  At least for a year.

 

I’m still mulling things over.  I just need to finish something.  As it is, I’m making very slow progress on three things at once.  This is close to the system I had in place a few years ago where I would spend one week working on one thing, then move on to something different the next week, and the next, and the next until I came back around the next month.  I might try that one again, because it feels like the daily progress is progress in numbers only, but there’s never time to build any sort of momentum when I’m constantly moving to something else the very next day.

 

Or I could just focus on ONE thing until it’s done, but again, that cuts into Invasion Agents, which is SUPPOSED to be a monthly book.  I don’t know.  We’ll see what happens.

 

(EXCERPTED FROM THE MOST RECENT C. DENNIS MOORE NEWSLETTER, WHICH YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO HERE!)

 

Since I’ve done literally nothing productive for the past month except make new covers and re-publish old stories I took down years ago—a worthwhile endeavor, for sure, but it’s not writing  new words, and since I fancy myself a WRITER, writing is kind of an important part of that—I decided I had to do something, anything, to get back in the swing.
 
So I do what I always do and I made a plan.  This plan took the form of a specific daily writing schedule:
 
Sunday: Newsletter day
 
Monday: Update day.  This week I fixed the cover for THE NIGHTMARE CORRIDOR (I never liked how close the THE was to the NIGHTMARE, so I moved it up just a bit), updated the bio information and republished it.
 
Tuesday: CDM SSW day.  This week, after having taken another look at THE NIGHTMARE CORRIDOR and remembering just how much I like that story, I sent it out to the C. Dennis Moore Short Story Webring subscribers.
 
Wednesday: Invasion Agents day.  I’m still waiting on Sweetpea to do the cover.  She’s only one week into her new house and spent the week putting her office together, so, fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, I got started on Issue 14.  It was only 305 words Wednesday after work, but it’s 305 words I didn’t have before and, if I’d had more time, I could easily have kept going with another few hundred.  It was a rough start at first, but once I got going and knew where I was headed, I fell into it pretty easily.
 
Thursday: Writing day (new).  This is the day I’ll work on new words for whatever the, technically, next project will be, in this case, after “President’s Day” and “Invasion Agents #13”, THE THIRD FLOOR 2.  I did 800 words that day, with the effects of the second shot just starting to set in.  I could have done more, I think, but vacation days are a busy thing these days.
 
My vacation day schedules usually look like this:
8:00 Kara goes to work.
9:00 I take sweetpea to work (this week was 8:30, then I went to the courthouse to pay the taxes on my car)
10:00 I pick up Frankie (the part of Clementine will now be played by Frankie) from work.
12:00 I pick up Sweetpea from work and we have lunch together (this week after lunch, I bought Kara a birthday present), then I come home and write until Kara gets home.  So most of those vacation days off, I’m working in 90-minute intervals, and this week I only managed 800 words, but it was 800 words on a book I haven’t touched in about 2 years, so I’m not complaining too much.
 
Friday: Writing day (old).  This is the day I take something that’s already written but for some reason just not ready, or something I have on my “you’ve done so much work on this, you really need to finish it” list.  This week it was reading through “The Organ Grinder”, which used to be this not really very good X-Files script I wrote back in 1996, longhand, in the back of a car as I rode to work each night when I worked in Kansas City with some other St. Joe guys I knew.  A few years ago, I started rewriting it as an Angel Hill story about a team of paranormal investigators, but I never could quite grasp the story.  Having read it again Friday, after not looking at it for almost as long as it’s been since I touched THE THIRD FLOOR 2, I think it’s pretty good.  The writing itself, the narrative, is in some places at a level I didn’t know I could write at, and as far as I can tell, I only need to find a name for the monster, make a tweak here and there, and I think it’ll be ready to go out into the world.  And that was while feeling like complete shit.  Seriously, if you haven’t got the second shot yet, clear your schedule for at least 2 days afterward.
 
Saturday: “Admin” day.  This is the day I’ll take care of the “boring” side of the writing business, the non-writing part, where I organize files, work on marketing and getting reviews, etc.  This week, I took everything down.  I unpublished everything from Smashwords (with the exception of “PINK JELLYBUG MINK”, a collection of 5 or 6 poems in the “Pink Jellybug Mink” series of poems, and CUNT, a short story that is only available on Smashwords), Draft2Digital, Nook, and Kobo.
 
So for now, Amazon is the only place to get all of my titles.  Why?  A few reasons, the first being it’s just going to make tax time less of a pain in the ass, and that is a good thing for me.  Honestly, I was making so little from D2D and Smashwords that it didn’t make it worth my time to even file the taxes from those places.  We’re talking $11.66 from Barnes and Noble (Nook) last year, and I think maybe like $38 or so from Smashwords.  I didn’t make a TON from Amazon last year, but if I’m going to have my stuff anywhere it’s going to be the most popular and the one I made the most from, that one will be worth my time to mess with the taxes each year.
 
Another reason is I want to put this stuff back on KDP Select, which will make Prime members able to borrow the books for free, but, if they read them, I still get paid.
 
Also, being in Select allows you 5 “Free” days every 90 days.  So for 5 days of your choosing, they don’t even have to be in a row; you could do Monday one week, Tuesday the next and so on for 5 weeks, or however you want, but you get to make your title free for 5 days.
 
Currently, I think only “Carlotta Valdez” and “In the Presence of Loneliness” are in Select.  Speaking of which, starting tomorrow, Monday the 9th, “Carlotta Valdez” will be free all week, Monday through Friday.  If you don’t have it, this will be the time to get it.  Obviously, all I ask is that you leave a review, because I cannot stress enough how important reviews are to authors.  It’s not an ego things, it’s an Amazon thing.  The more and better your reviews, the more likely your book is to turn up in those Amazon sales emails we all get, recommending books we might like.  My novel THE THIRD FLOOR showed up in one of those one night while I was at work, when I still had a second part-time job at night, and by the time I got home, I had sold 600 copies just in those few hours.
 
So, seriously guys, reviews.  If you read it and it’s on Amazon, PLEASE leave a review.  They don’t have to be the 1000-word reviews I often write, just a few lines will do, and you’ll be my new favorite person.  Hell, I have a few readers, David Taylor and Roger Fauble, who’ve left so many reviews so consistently, I don’t know if they’ll ever have to pay for another C. Dennis Moore book, because I know by giving them a review copy, they will definitely leave a review.  Thanks, guys, you two are fucking awesome.
 
Also on Saturday, I finally got “President’s Day” up on ACX so I can get the audiobook version in production.  I really wanted a female reader since the main character is a woman, but of the few I’ve worked with in the past, two of them I wasn’t thrilled with what they did, one I loved, but she never replied to my offer, and I want to avoid putting it up for random auditions; the turnout for those is so little sometimes, and I love this story so much, I really don’t want to have to settle for whatever I can get.  So instead, I offered it to another reader David Bain and I have worked with in the past, someone whose work I’ve admired, Quintin Allen.  He replied last night that he’s recovering from surgery and has another job or two in line first, but if I can wait a few months, he’d love to do it.  That’s a relief.  Obviously since the book came out months ago and I’m just now getting around to worrying about the audiobook, I’m not in THAT big a rush, so I think I can give him whatever time he needs.
 
So that is my current writing schedule:
 
Sunday: Newsletter
Monday: Update
Tuesday: CDM SSW
Wednesday: Invasion Agents
Thursday: Writing (new)
Friday: Writing (old)
Saturday: Admin

 
It won’t stay like this forever, obviously.  Only working on a novel one day a week is not going to get it written, but I definitely needed some sort of structure to get me back into the habit of WRITING, but also allowed me time and space to get some of this other stuff worked on, too.  I still have, according to my list, 40 titles that need to be updated with the new bio, 9 of which are still unpublished and need new covers (actually, several of them NEED new covers, but only 9 of them aren’t currently available).
 
So a schedule is good and for this week it felt great to be doing something besides just updating old stuff from 9 years ago.  I will absolutely have to work on my word counts, though.  300 words?  I applaud the effort, but holy fuck is that weak.
 
Oh, shit, I almost forgot, while we were out Thursday, I also finally got Kara’s ring size and ordered her engagement ring.

Work continues on the revamping and updating of my Amazon books.  Sometimes it’s fun, always it’s rewarding, and sometimes it’s a big fucking pain in the ass.
 
Yesterday, since I had the entire weekend off (for those of you with dead relatives in Hell, you know what that means: snow day!) and I used that extra time in the morning to work on my short story collection THE DICHOTOMY OF MONSTERS.  And thank God for the extra time because I spent no less than 5 fucking hours yesterday getting that format right.
 
It started with the last line of the introduction somehow, from my screen to Amazon’s system, moving down to take up one line of the next page, which then throws everything off because you’ve just gone through the entire book to make sure that every new story starts on the right side of the book, front of the page.  I’m talking print edition; ebook editions don’t matter, they’re all one continuous stream of words that the e-reader then breaks up into pages.
 
But this damn print version!
 
So now I have to go back through and move everything so it, again, starts on the right hand side, front of the page.  But I’m doing this knowing it’s going to throw the table of contents off, too, but what am I supposed to do, that last line of the intro…
 
I could delete that last line, but then the print and ebook versions won’t match.  So I’m making adjustments, then sending it through the grinder again to see if everything looks right, then making more adjustments and sending it through again.
 
THEN, after about 3 or 4 rounds of this, I take a look at that intro and realize the entire last paragraph talks about the cover and why I chose that photo.  Except, this is the updated version … with the new cover!!!  That last paragraph doesn’t fit and has to be removed, so now we’re right back where we were the FIRST time through, but now I’ve also made all these adjustments to where everything’s going to fit and on which page.
 
Mother!  FUCKER!!!
 
So now I have to go back and try to remember what I moved and undo it, only I’ve been at this for a couple of hours now and my eyes are burning and I’m really tired and want to go back to bed.
 
So I did.  For like a half hour, then we had to get up and take Sweetpea to work because she got a new job and works at 8:00 every Saturday and Sunday.
 
When we got back (no, it doesn’t take BOTH Kara and I to take our daughter to work, but we like doing things together so go fuck yourself), I headed back to the office to finish the battle with this book.
 
Another 4 or 5 rounds of adjustments and finally around 9:30, I got it right, got it posted, and this morning there’s a brand new version of one of my favorite collections.
 
I mean, the stories are all the same stories, but it’s got a new cover and a new dedication (something it didn’t have previously), and my updated author bio wherein I mention Kara.
 
In total, that makes 6 updated books since last Sunday:

BLOOD BITCH
 

 
The Blood Bitch comes in the night to eat children through the mouth in her stomach.

When Jason wakes up in the middle of the night to feel himself being suffocated, his father, Allen, tells him the Blood Bitch is coming for him. This story is based on the idea that belief and fear is where monsters get their powers. The more we believe in monsters, the stronger they are.

But in this case, Jason and his mother Stephanie discover the Blood Bitch might not be as real as Allen thinks, at least if the bottle of prescription medication they find in the garage is any indication, a medication that’s supposed to stop Allen’s hallucinations. Now Jason and Stephanie aren’t sure where the real danger is coming from.

If Allen believes in the Blood Bitch enough, does that make her real?

This 6000-word story is named after the Cocteau Twins song of the same name, and is perfect for fans of MASTERS OF HORROR.
 

EPOCH WINTER
 

RUNNING FROM HIS PAST

Yahto is a Lakotan man trying to escape the sins of his past by throwing himself headlong into a forced solitude in the Canadian Rockies. Haunted by the memories of bloodshed at Little Big Horn, he is trying desperately to forget the violence he knows lies within him.

A WOMAN OUT OF TIME

Yoko is found freezing and pregnant in the snow. Yahto helps her to shelter and safety and as the two spend a long hard winter together, their bond becomes stronger and stronger.

Yoko tells him of where she comes from, a place of machines and tests, while Yahto fills her with Lakotan folklore, both trying to forget the past and focus on what’s to come, namely Yoko’s baby, which will be due very soon.

But what Yoko didn’t tell him, what he found out only when he saw her dragging the frozen body out of their cabin, into the woods, is that the people she escaped from will most likely stop at nothing to get her back. And no matter how much experience the old warrior has, it’s nothing compared to the weapons at their disposal. The winter snow gets harder to survive with few resources, no allies, and an army from another world tracking them.

AN UNBREAKABLE BOND

Despite the obstacles facing them, Yahto vows no harm will come to Yoko and the baby, a vow he’ll do anything to keep, even when the lightning flashes and a squad of armed men emerges from the trees around their cabin.

Horror writer C. Dennis Moore (author of The Third Floor) weaves a unique tale of fantasy and science fiction wrapped up in a blanket of myth and folklore from another time in this 12,000-word novella, one of his most accomplished works of fiction. “Epoch Winter” is a harsh story, told in such detail you can feel the chill in your bones as you share space with the characters, and with an ending so twisted your brain will be left in knots.
 

CAMDIGAN
 

Horror author C. Dennis Moore takes you to the streets of Camdigan, a town literally in the idle of nowhere, the place where to dead come to live.

David has wound up there by accident, but a chance encounter with a little girl brings him face to face with the wife he lost years ago. Now he’ll do anything to get out of Camdigan, and Camdigan will do anything to keep him there.

This 15,000-word novella will stay with you long after you reach the end. Camdigan is THE TWILIGHT ZONE on Ecstasy.

Praise for Camdigan:
“A somber story that treads new ground. Strangely riveting.
–The Eternal Night Chronicle.

“C. Dennis Moore’s writing is clean and clear. He doesn’t unnecessarily clutter up his sentences with fat metaphors and graphic descriptions that don’t advance the story.”
–Michael T. Huyck, Jr, FEOAMANTE.COM

 

FLUKE
 

“Where life can happen, it will.”

In this novella, horror author C. Dennis Moore (the Angel Hill series, the Monsters of Green Lake, and the Holiday Horrors) tells a very different kind of Frankenstein story.

Stan Wasco is a seeker. He spent nearly five decades seeking truth in science before giving it up to pursue bigger goals. But since then, he’s not done much with his time. Then one day he finds something on the side of the road, something that shouldn’t exist, but it’s staring him in the face and asking for bananas.

After fifty years, he’s finally found his one big thing, and he’s eager to find out as much as he can about this fluke of nature that has no right being here.

There’s just one problem: it’s that time of year when his older brother comes into town for a week of fishing and bonding and Jim’s a bit of a bully when he doesn’t get his way.

Stan has to find a way to placate the unreasonable while trying to understand the unexplainable. If he can make it through this week, he’s got the discovery of the century and a possibility to change the scientific principles governing life on earth.

Originally intended as a 100-page graphic novel, FLUKE has been expanded and adapted to prose, with the original comic book script included afterward.
 

WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW (LOVE THAT COVER)
 

Fifteen stories of hellish horrors come together in C. Dennis Moore’s latest collection, WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW.

Rudy finds a dead baby in his trash can.

Another man will do anything to escape Hell and take vengeance on Heaven.

Cody has done a bad thing, and a disfigured goblin is set on making him pay.

Sean Leonard goes out for pizza one night, but on the way back home finds himself on an endless highway, and the clocks have stopped moving.

And in Angel Hill, high school student Danny has found a mysterious object outside a church, one that promises him revenge and notoriety, but threatens so much worse in return.

WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW promises chills and thrills amid a host of horrors guaranteed to keep the lights on into the late hours. Featuring killer cockroaches, an immortal who won’t stop aging, and the Devil on a drug run, this collection is a great jumping on point for Moore’s brand of horror in bite-size doses.

 
THE DICHOTOMY OF MONSTERS
 

Horror author C. Dennis Moore returns to the short story form with THE DICHOTOMY OF MONSTERS, fifteen terrifying tales of things that aren’t what they seem. Moore’s reality will leave you questioning your own senses and doubting the proof right in front of your eyes.

In “Reckoning”, Jody returns to his childhood home after his mother’s funeral to find some of the memories he thought he’d left behind aren’t so quiet nor so forgotten. Fans of his haunted house novel The Third Floor will find Moore’s take on ghosts in this story to be anything but typical.

In “Timesmiths”, Moore ponders the question of time travel and what happens to the perceptions of those being affected when alterations are made. In “Broken Man”, poor Mr. Sumner saw angels take away his dying wife and now he thinks he can bring them back for him if he makes himself suffer enough.

In the title story, an escaped Mr. Hyde sets out for America in search of a permanent cure to his weak alter-ego. But he soon discovers the real monsters are not quite as obviously recognized as he is.

In “Monday”, the one C. Dennis Moore calls “the best story I’ve ever written”, Maddy has only one goal today: die. But an old custom and a deep-rooted sense of routine keeps her locked in an unending cycle until she can figure out the key to breaking her pattern.

These are just some of the fifteen stories in THE DICHOTOMY OF MONSTERS, but each one offers its own unique view of hell and the monsters that dwell there. Leave your preconceptions at the door and let C. Dennis Moore show you just how beautiful monsters can be and, as in the story “The Garden”, how monstrous the beautiful.
 
 
I still have a few more to do (TERRIBLE THRILLS and the mini-collections come immediately to mind, and TT is 10 stories more than DoM and I swear to Christ it better not be the fucking hassle that was yesterday!!!) before I can rest and stop updating.
 
And by then, God willing, I’ll have an Invasion Agents cover and can get that up too and move the fuck on to write something else.

I had this idea, back in 2000?  2001?  Somewhere around there.  Back then, I had self-published a couple of poetry and short fiction chapbooks, modeled after my friend and mentor Mike Swope, and I loved the process and the finished product.  In a world where you can submit a story to a magazine, by physical mail, and MAYBE get a response within the next 6 months, if you’re lucky, in the days before widespread internet access, this was a viable route to get your work seen.  You print off a hundred or so chapbooks and sell em to co-workers or something, and while it’s frowned upon by the writing community at large, a hundred cheap little chapbooks aren’t going to be the end of the world.
 
And, like I said, I loved the process.  I had ideas for chapbooks I never got around to producing, but if time and money hadn’t been an issue back then (covers weren’t cheap), I would have.
 
And then one day I had this idea and it was very underground and punk rock and antiestablishment of me.  I thought why go through editors and agents and publishers and booksellers?  If people want to read my stories, why shouldn’t they be able to do so without the hassle?  I’m a smart man, for the most part, I should just be able to sell directly to fans.  As if I had any in 2000 (I didn’t.  I think that year saw my FIRST publication in a small press magazine that probably wasn’t around much longer).  The internet is becoming a thing now.  I have the ability to design, print, and assemble chapbooks.  Let’s say I get a webpage where I can have the covers to my short stories and I can print these short stories and publish them as standalone little chapbooks.  At the time, I had maybe 20-25 short stories written, not a lot considering I’d been writing since 1991.  But I thought, I could make covers for each short story with my very limited knowledge, ability, and access to clipart via the internet of 2000.  I could put these covers online and charge a very minimal amount.  My thought was 10 cents a printed page.  So if a short story came to 10 pages in chapbook form, that’s $1.  A 5-page story, $0.50.
 
And technically I still think this is a viable idea, but thank God for Amazon and Kindle Publishing because this is MUCH easier.  Putting chapbooks together, with all the folding and stapling, it SUCKS.
 
The only downside is that Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Nook, Kobo, and whoever else is out there, won’t let you charge less than $0.99.  So if I wanted to release a short story that was only 4 pages on a Kindle, I wouldn’t be able to charge only $0.40, which sort of, for me, defeats the purpose of $0.10 per published page.
 
Now I give all of this backstory to say I took all of my short stories off Amazon years ago, in an attempt to clean up my pages and my dashboard and make the books that remained online look more legit.
 
I had visions of swastikas in my head, plans for everyone. Also, I had visions of potential readers coming across my work on Amazon and not being to sort the novels from the short stories, many of which were already published in the full-length collections, of which I also have several.  I thought of growing up reading King and he published novels and short story collections.  Sometimes he’d release a small collection of novellas, but for the most part it was novels and short story collections.  But he never released single short stories on their own.
 
Sure, he published those in magazines that paid a lot of money, so in a sense, most of those short stories WERE available in a standalone format.  If you knew where to look.  But he wasn’t writing a short story and then selling it to his fans.  It just wasn’t the way things were done.
 
So I took down most of the shorts, anything that had already been collected.  Things like the Angel Hill shorts or the Holiday Horrors stayed up, but eventually those too would be collected and the standalone versions, most likely, removed from Amazon.
 
A while later, I put a few of the shorts back up, just the ones that had reviews already.  “Coming Down the Mountain”, “Son of Man”, and “Renovation”.  Mostly that one, I made a lot of money on “Renovation” back in the 2013, probably because it had a house on the cover and, when everyone was buying THE THIRD FLOOR, they probably assumed it was another ghost story.
 
I put these stories back on Amazon under the banner “Horror Singles”, like songs.  Each story was short, so each story had a bonus story after, and I called these the A-Side (main story), and B-Side (bonus story).  I thought it was a clever idea and I stand by it.
 
But I don’t think anyone else caught on to what I was doing and anyway, short stories don’t sell.  Typically.  Every writer knows it, but we keep on writing short stories.  They’re easier, faster, and oftentimes a lot more fun to do.  But we do it on our own dime because no one buys them.
 
And if Amazon charged us for the space, or like $1 each time we wanted to hit publish on a new title, you’d see a LOT fewer single short stories and a lot more short story collections.  But they don’t, so whatever.
 
Back to my point.  I still, after 10 years self-publishing (I do NOT miss submitting AT ALL AT ALL), remain unable to fully reconcile the idea of publishing short stories as standalone titles.  I think they are legitimate works with just as much write to exist as any other form or art.  However, unlike novels, short stories have other avenues of release, like the short story collection.  You don’t see many novel collections, novels typically stand on their own as an individual entity.  Whereas the short story gets so little love.
 
And I don’t think EVERY short story I’ve ever written needs or deserves to be out there on its own, but I have a few here and there that I really like and want to draw specific attention to.  Stories like “Revenge of the Roach King” or “Working for the Fat Man” or “The Caterpillar”.  These are really good stories, and they would get lost in a collection.  Or worse, never even seen, because collections don’t exactly fly off the “shelves”, either.
 
Christ, I’m rambling.  All of this is a VERY long way of saying I’m putting those short stories back on Amazon.  New, BETTER covers, given another once-over for typos, with my updated bio mentioning Kara, and the calls to action are cleaned up, too.  Will any of this make a difference?  I would like to think so.
 
I am probably going to take those collections off the other platforms, Smashwords and Draft2Digital, because I’d like to have the shorts on KDP Unlimited, just to see what happens, but since those stories also appear in those collections, that violates Amazon’s exclusivity rule for Unlimited.  I mean, they call it Unlimited, but it is in fact VERY limited.  Like all the way limited.
 
And all of this led me to another thought yesterday at work.
 
When ebook and Kindle publishing was first becoming a topic of conversation on the message boards, one of my main problems was the idea of collectability.  I’m a BIG collector of all things I love, but it you’re talking print-on-demand physical copies and worldwide web e-copies, where does the collectors market stand?  You can’t print a limited run and make them more valuable because of their scarcity.
 
And I had this idea yesterday, what if you released an ebook and you paid close attention to the sales and, once a book hit 50 or 100 sales, you took it back down.  I know it’s not the same thing, but it IS an idea I kept coming back to a few times over the course of the day.
 
Yeah, I know, nothing is really LIMITED or UNAVAILABLE in a digital world, but I still thought it was a neat idea, so shut up.
 
Oh, and back to those 10 cent/page chapbooks.  So I mentioned the idea to another friend of mine, Dave Barnett, the founder and publisher of Necro Publications, and he shot it down without hesitation, citing the disdain for “vanity” publishing to the writing community at large—at that time.  He suggested instead I get on some horror message boards and just talk to people.
 
So I did.  And I made friends I had for a while and then they faded, and I made friends I’ll have forever.  What’s up, Dave?  Bain, that is.  We met back in the message board days and have been friends ever since.  It was Bain who told me about Smashwords and introduced me to the then-brand new world of acceptable self-publishing and the world has been a very different place for me ever since.
 
So while Barnett hated my idea, he did lead me to a place where, ten years down the line, that same idea was going to be just the way things were done.  Self-publishing is the norm now.  I don’t know a lot of writers, personally, who even care anymore about a traditional deal, considering how terrible those deals actually are for the authors, especially for “first-time authors”.  Self-publishing is the route most authors take and it’s the route I’ve been wanting to take since 2001 and it’s 20 years later and I’m 10 years in and dammit I’m putting my short stories back into the world as standalone titles.  All of which says, to me, that I was right all along.  So eat it, nerd!
 
At the end of the day, this is what writers have been doing since stories were first memorialized in print.  We write a story, then hand it out to a bunch of people, friends and family, and hope they like it.  Same principle, but now we can charge a few cents for it.

It wasn’t my immediate plan–I mean, I was gonna get to it eventually, just not NOW–but the universe is right on schedule and it had other plans for my week.  So instead of whatever I was probably going to work on, instead I spent the week updating the covers to my Angel Hill short stories.  You can see the covers below, but it would be REALLY awesome if you went to the LIBRARY page of this here website and actually bought some or all of them.

It’s Saturday and I wish I had the day off.  I have a TON of things I could be getting done today.  Or at least a ton of things I could be working on. Things I WANT to be working on.

Lately I’ve been going back to the old shorts and updating them.  I have a new cover on ICONS TO ASHES, and a new cover and product description on PLAYGROUND OF THE GODS (the story formerly known as Cuneiforms).  I’ve also been working on new covers for the Angel Hill shorts CARLOTTA VALDEZ and FLAGPOLE SITTA.

That wasn’t actually part of the plan for this week, but inspiration struck and I had to follow it through.  And I’m glad I did because I’m REALLY pleased with what I have coming for those two stories.

But the part I’m having the most trouble with, and the part I wish I had today off to work on for 8 hours straight, is the product description for PLAYGROUND.  I’ve got it.  I know I’ve got it, I’m very happy with 75% of the description.  But there’s just this one sentence I can’t nail down.

I’ve been through half a dozen versions and none of them are right.  I’m so close, but that perfect last few words keeps eluding me.

Hell, maybe working today is what I need, something to get my mind on something else and let my subconscious work it out.  It’s worked many times in the past.

Then again, I’d really just rather go get back into bed with Kara.  I’m still tired and she’s cuddly.

It’s finally done and done for real this time, I have … revitalized(?) my collection of vampire short stories, ICONS TO ASHES, with a new cover and a quick edit and it is available in ebook, print, and audiobook formats from everywhere, including AMAZON.  For the full list of links to buy it, check out the book’s Library page on this site.  If you dig vampires that don’t sparkle or drink fake store-bought blood while chasing fairies through Louisiana, this is the collection for you.

Well, I THOUGHT I had the updated ICONS TO ASHES done, ready, and published.  Then I got to work today and thought, “You know, that text really needs a shadow under it…”

So I came home today and did that and now I have to wait AGAIN for the processing to be done.  And the print cover … the text might be placed just a TAD too far to the right.  If so, that’s gonna take even more work to fix.  But I want it right and perfect, so it’s work I will do in service of the book.

 

Meanwhile I’m also revamping, retitling and re-covering an old story previously called “Cuneiforms”.  Now it’s called “Playground of the Gods” and this will be it’s cover:

I am currently in the process of updating my old short story collection, ICONS TO ASHES and have been working on the cover.  I’ve got it narrowed down to a few I really like, but am going to send them out in my newsletter this week and see what everyone thinks.

 

However, I do have a few covers I really liked but will not be using.  Here are the ones I’m NOT using: