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.

Hey.  Long time no see.  Man, I haven’t posted here in forever.  And I don’t think I’ve really said anything of import on this version of the website at all.  I used to blog almost daily, when I was writing first thing in the morning before work, I would wrap up the morning with a quick recap of the work I’d done that day.  I didn’t give specifics or story details or anything, but I would tease out a few things sometimes with pictures.  For example, if I mentioned a roller coaster in the story, I would post a picture of a roller coaster and say, “Today I wrote about:”

 

I don’t know why I stopped doing that.

 

Then for a while I was wrapping up each day with a motivational post, and eventually I collected those in my book Doing it Write.

 

For a very long time, though, I haven’t bothered to come on here and write about what I’ve been writing.  Most days, by the time I stopped writing, I only did so because time was up and I had to start getting ready for work.  Now that I’m writing after work, I still haven’t bothered because by the time I’m done writing for the day, it’s almost time for my wife, Kara, to come home from work and I like to be downstairs to meet her when she gets here, so I would have to cut short the story-related work that day, new words or editing, to write a blog post about what I’ve been working on.  Or I could just keep adding new words and/or editing.  Which is what I’ve been choosing to do with that time.

 

But today, even though I spent the day editing the first draft of the upcoming 13th issue of my super hero comic book in prose, Invasion Agents, I did find a stopping point that made sense and I decided to get on here and say a few words.

 

I read recently that the best way for a writer to build an audience is to blog regularly.  I honestly don’t know how true that is, with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, I think there are a ton of easier ways to connect with your audience.  But I do have a website and that website does have a blog page and I know when I see a blog that hasn’t been posted to in a year, I just assume the writer is dead or no longer writing and since I’m neither of those things, I really should make more of an effort to be visible here, especially since I’m not on Facebook, my Twitter is occasional at best and my Instagram is devoted mostly to what comics I’m reading, what records I’m listening to, and pictures of Kara on our weekly dinner dates.

 

So.  What I’m currently working on is editing.  I’m editing, like I said, the first draft of the 13th issue of this supposedly-monthly series (year one was monthly, but I didn’t get anything else written that year and that is unacceptable, so this time, as I work on year two, I’m going to keep to as regular a schedule as I can, but not at the cost of getting anything else written) while waiting for the beta readers to finish with my latest Holiday Horror short story, “President’s Day”, which, at 24,000 words, isn’t so short.

 

Man, if you grew up on 80s slasher movies like I did, you’re going to LOVE this story.  More on that later.

 

Kara will be home soon, and I missed her today, so I’m going down to see her.  We’ll catch up more later.

 

–CDM.

My short story “The Garden” had a very strange origin, with inspirations from Guns N’ Roses and Georgia O’Keefe equally.

First was Guns N’ Roses and their song, “The Garden”, which gave me a title and, for over a decade, a mood. I started the story in mid-2006 and worked on it for a week or so before realizing the couple hundred words I had were going nowhere and amounting to nothing, so I abandoned it, knowing I would get back to it later.

The first incarnation was about a boy walking through a meditative labyrinth who … something something magic and something, I never really figured it out.

And I did a TON of research on walking and labyrinths and meditation, took a lot of walks myself, hoping to get into the headspace for a story about walking, but it just never happened, nothing came to me, there was no story.

Then one day, years later, I saw something about Georgia O’Keefe and her particular style of art (flowers were made to represent a certain part of the female anatomy) and I had a vision in my head of a guy being seduced by a beautiful woman in a garden, only there was no woman, he was being hypnotized by sentient plants. From there, the story pretty much told itself and I wrote the first draft over a couple of days.

The names of the characters, Gordon, Randy and Bobby were he names of the guys I hung out with around the same age I imagined Gordon to be in this story. Gordon Bennington, Randy Collings, and Bobby Fairchild. The name Mya means “great one” or “mother”.

The Garden

Gordon showed up at the back of the Rogers farm like Randy’d told him to, but his friend was nowhere to be seen. Randy’s bike lay at the edge of the woods where the property stopped, and there was his jacket among the flowers. The Rogers had a good twenty acres and this far back from the house, Gordon knew they wouldn’t see him and come out to run them off. Then again, there was a garden back here that looked pretty well-tended, so who knew? He wasn’t even sure this far back was considered their property at all. He hoped not, if what Randy told him was true.

Gladiolus, tulips, Madonna lilies, daffodils, hyacinths, begonias all reds, yellows, whites, pinks, blues and oranges. Gordon didn’t know the names, but they smelled good. Hidden among these, half-buried, were several larger bulbs that could have been watermelons except they were grey.

He called out, “Randy!” several times, but got no reply. He must have wandered further
into the woods. Gordon sat down on the jacket and was about to call out again when something got his attention, something lumpy under his ass. He felt and found Randy’s jacket pocket. He reached in and pulled out something slick.

This was what Randy told him he’d been doing up here the past few days.

Gordon had no idea what the flowers were called and the bigger bulbs in the ground were an equal mystery. But Randy had told him the leaves were edible. More than that, they’d given him one hell of a high. No after effects, either. He’d chew a few leaves, lay back, and before long he was in the middle of one of the best trips of his life. Gordon found a plastic bag with a rolled bundle of leaves in Randy’s jacket pocket. Maybe he was going to take them home and try to smoke them. But surely he wouldn’t mind if Gordon had a couple for himself. After all, this was what Randy’d called him up here for in the first place.

He pulled two, then took a third from the rolled bundle, slid the rest into the bag, then back into the jacket. He looked at the leaves and wondered how they’d taste. Bitter like grass? He sniffed them, and it was a familiar scent, but he couldn’t place it. They were dark red and shaped like hearts.

He called out, “Randy! Hey!!!”

When he got no reply, he put the leaves in his mouth and chewed. Almost as soon as the chemicals in the leaves touched his tongue, but surely by the time he’d swallowed them, the leaves took effect. He lay back in the grass, staring up at the brilliant blue summer sky, cloudless and crisp. His head felt thirty pounds lighter. His fingers tingled and, he realized, so did his toes.

Whatever this stuff was, Gordon would have to thank Randy as soon as he figured out where he was. For now, he wouldn’t worry about it, he just wanted to ride this wave.
If he lay still enough, he could feel the blood rushing through his veins, into his brain. He could hear it pumping.

His vision swam and suddenly he felt himself sink into the earth, into the grass and flowers, and he felt their leaves tickling and trying to wrap around and drag him down. Gordon tried to sit up and scream, but the flowers had become thick vines and his puny strength was no match. His heartbeat raced and he thought he might be sweating but if that were true, the sweat burned his skin like acid and the sky turned purple overhead and a shriek echoed inside his skull and then, before he could fully comprehend what was happening . . . it stopped. Gordon sucked in a huge breath, shot up from the ground, clutching his chest.

He sat there, panting and being glad he was alive when he heard a noise. A high, lilting sound. He looked over and saw something in the trees. She was tall with long blonde hair. Her face was that of an angel. Finally he managed to catch enough breath to say, “Hello?”

She stepped out from behind the tree. She didn’t say anything, just giggled again. Her walk was fluid, as if the structure of her legs were free-floating, more for motion than support. The sight of it had a strange effect on Gordon’s equilibrium and he had to look away for a second. She glided closer, giggled again, and Gordon asked, “What?”

“Nothing,” she said after a moment. “You just looked funny laying there all splayed like that.” Her voice reminded Gordon of rainbows and butterflies. Who was this girl? “What are you doing here?”

He hesitated, reluctant to tell her about the leaves or his quick but intense trip. At least, he thought it was quick. The sky did look a little darker.

He started to get up, found his legs too weak, and he fell again with a grunt.

The girl giggled again.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Gordon said. “Help me up.”

“What for?”

“Because I have to get up,” he said. “I was up here looking for my friend. Hey, have you seen him? Bout this tall–” (he held a hand just an inch or two above the top of his own head) “long black hair? Wears glasses?” She shook her head.

“Probably wearing a Chiefs cap?”

She shook her head again.

She shrugged and sat next to him on the ground. Gordon was surprised to see her just drop down onto the grass because she was dressed in a long white sundress and the way it shone even in the lowering sky, Gordon knew she was about to stain it. He didn’t want to stare, but it was hard to take his eyes off her. Gordon knew who he was and knew this girl was beyond his reach. She’d see that in a minute and get up and walk away.

So he was taken by surprise when she turned and said, “What’s your name?”

“Gordon,” he said, feigning indifference by looking into the trees for Randy.

“Mine’s Mya,” she said. “Do you live around here?”

He shrugged. “Close enough, I guess.”

“What are you doing up here?”

“Looking for my friend,” he said. “I already said that.”

“Well,” Mya said, looking around. “Doesn’t seem like you’re looking very hard.”

“His stuff’s right here,” Gordon said. “He’ll be back to get it.”

“What if he doesn’t come back?”

“Then he’s gonna lose a jacket and his bike,” Gordon said. “Because his bike’s just over there and I’m not taking them both with me when I go. Maybe the jacket.”

“What if he’s never coming back?”

“Uh-huh.”

Gordon wished she’d stop talking to him. This kind of attention from someone this beautiful was making him uncomfortable.

“What if he’s dead?” she asked.

Get the rest of the story in my short story collection THE DICHOTOMY OF MONSTERS.

Back in the days before self-publishing made submissions irrelevant, I used to love submitting to themed anthologies, mostly because I loved the challenge of writing something specifically for those guidelines. One such anthology was called Vile Things, and the guidelines listed a number of old horror anthologies to turn to for inspiration. It just so happened, I had one of those anthologies, GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL, edited by H. Wise. So I leafed through the book and stopped on a story called “Caterpillars” by E. F. Benson. All these years later, I couldn’t tell you a thing about that story, but I know where I got the title and the idea for this one.

First I had to get the background details right, so before I even started the story I researched Thalidomide babies and discovered such a condition CAN be genetic. Time to get started.

For main character inspiration I only needed to look to my mother. She had a finished basement with basically a small one-room apartment down there and one day when I went over there I saw the basement was full of someone’s junk. Not her junk because it wasn’t there last time I’d been over, so I asked where it came from.

She had a cousin who had been out of town for years and years and was coming back to town and had decided he was going to be staying there so all his stuff was now in the basement. I’m not sure he ever actually showed up to stay, but his stuff was definitely there.

Check, I thought, one deadbeat cousin who needs a place to stay and comes into this weird situation he doesn’t understand with this Thalidomide baby.

What next?

Well, he has to be forced to deal with the girl, and what better way to make sure he can’t beg off and hide out downstairs or at his buddy’s house than to have the parents vanish in the night, glad to be free of this burden.

But what kind of parents would do such a thing to an innocent girl? Hey, who said she was innocent? What if there was more to this girl than just an absence of arms and legs?

Like what?

I remembered King’s THE DARK HALF and Thad Beaumont’s undeveloped conjoined twin. Holy crap, what a creepy image if, on this girl’s back, there was a whole other girl. One with little nubby limbs she could use to skitter around the house late at night, legs like a caterpillar.

At the time, I was reading SILK by Caitlin R. Kiernan and I think a lot of it went over my head, but I remember something about a pretty girl and spiders and I thought what if this girl coughed up spiders and spun webs.

This would totally freak this guy out, let’s see how he would handle it.

While all of this was going on in the story, though, I also had to tell the story of this innocent girl who just wants to live as normal a life as she possibly can. And having a daughter of my own who means the world to me, it wasn’t hard to write Jessica as a real person. And from there, he relationship between her and the main character developed naturally and, if I do say so myself, quite wonderfully. I’m very proud of the work I did in this story with those characters, and with how dark and creepy it got in the last third.

To this day, in my opinion, Joon is one of the most unsettling characters I’ve written, and I’m happy to have done so.

I don’t know what comes out of the cocoon at the end of the story, so don’t ask. Use your imagination and decide for yourself.

And now, the first scene of The Caterpillar:

IT WASN’T MY FIRST CHOICE, and I was pissed at my parents and my sister for saying no, but whatever. So when I came back to town I wound up staying with my cousin Judy and her husband Jeff in their basement. I don’t think they wanted me there, more likely they were just too polite to turn me away. I showed up on a Tuesday and hauled what I could in through the garage to the basement, then parked the moving truck in front of the house so Jeff could have the driveway and went inside to thank Judy, again, for letting me stay.

I heard a door close down the hall and then Judy appeared, emerging from the dark with a towel in one hand and an empty bowl in the other. I’d forgotten about their daughter. Jessica was ten and we’d never met. But I knew about her.

She was a second-generation Thalidomide baby. According to the FDA, only 17 American children were born with Thalidomide-related deformities. Jeff’s mother had been one of them. While another article, published in DRUG SAFETY, assured the drug did not cause further defects, and yes Jeff had been born normal, Jessica suffered from Amelia, which meant she’d been born with no limbs.

I followed Judy into the kitchen, thanking her, as she put the empty bowl in the sink and laid the towel on the counter.

“No,” she said, “it’s okay. You get settled. It’s good to have you home.”

I wondered how sincerely she meant that. I’d been in Florida for ten years, involved in a number of businesses, all of which had failed. I had a moving company, owned a miniature golf course, a bar, a skateboard shop, just to name a few. I had good ideas, just bad luck. And maybe bad business sense. So after a decade of failure, I decided it was time to come home and just live a life again where I wasn’t dodging creditors all the time or watching my possessions being sold at auction to pay my debts. Not to mention the cost of living is a lot cheaper in the Midwest.

I returned every few years to attend reunions or show off my success for a weekend, but I always left before my cash ran out or the bill collectors tracked me down. I never stayed in town long enough for the cracks to show. And I rarely kept in contact with any of the family. So it came as no surprise when I detected reluctance in Judy’s tone. Not to mention I’m sure she and Jeff had enough problems with Jessica without worrying about me in there, too.

Just a couple weeks, I reminded myself.

Judy said to make myself at home, asked if I was hungry. I was, but I said no. I commented on how they had a nice house. She said thank you. Then I returned to the basement to start unpacking.

To read the rest of the story, you can it as a standalone ebook HERE.

The Caterpillar (Horror Singles Book 4)

It was only supposed to be temporary, a place to stay when he returned home, just until he got back on his feet. Then he woke up to find his cousin and her husband gone, vanished in the night. But that was only the start. What they left behind was so much worse.

On the B-Side, in “Blue Moon Story”, one cop is still trying to find the man who murdered his wife. He’s about to learn the truth of what really tore his wife to pieces that night might be closer than he ever thought.