Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob
Defending Jacob by William Landay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this legal thriller, assistant district attorney Andy Barber's comfortable and respectable life comes to a screeching halt when his fourteen-year-old son, Jacob, is charged with murdering one of his classmates. Andy is suspended from his position so he cannot unduly influence or garner information from the people he has worked with for years, cutting him off from the natural resources he needs to defend his son from the charges. Instead, he finds himself on the other side of the courtroom watching his greatest professional rival do what he can to put Jacob away for good. As part of the defense, Andy is forced to confront the dirty secrets of his own past, which he has never revealed to his co-workers, his son, or even his wife.

I normally don't read novels this length (421-page Advance Reader's Edition) unless I already know the author or the story itself grabs and holds my interest. Defending Jacob falls into the latter category. The description I gave above could easily be the trailer of a Lifetime drama, but this novel rises above a maudlin TV drama for several reasons. The disintegration of family trust is not a surprise, nor is it a shock to the reader when friends, neighbors, and co-workers turn against the family. What the reader doesn't get, though, is a reassurance that Jacob is innocent. Too many secrets aspects of the teen's life are revealed during the investigation: we learn that Jacob has a dark side. Bad decisions made by both the boy and his father (who knows better, but cannot help himself) also make proving innocence -or guilt- very difficult.

We also learn that Andy comes from a long line of violent criminals in which he appears to be the (only?) exception. He has spent his entire adult life keeping his heritage a huge blank spot, even to himself. Naturally, his family background comes out during the investigation. When the trial outcome appears darkest, the defense attorney tests Jacob for a specific genetic predisposition to violence that could mitigate his sentence. Andy is forced to visit his own father, Bloody Bill Barber, in prison to beg a DNA sample for corroboration. The relationship they begin to develop isn't pleasant, but it is interesting.

The ending has more than one twist. There is a certain point at which the reader may feel cheated, but stay tuned: the other shoe just hasn't dropped yet. Throughout the book, we read testimony that Andy is giving at a trial. It isn't until the end that we discover whose trial it is.

Spoiler alert:
A great amount of emotional focus revolves around the question of whether the Barber men are born killers or not. My problem with the genetic condition Landay employs (a real one) is that the trait is sex-linked to the X chromosome - the one chromosome men do not pass down to their sons. The novel specifically states that the allele is located on the X chromosome, which immediately jarred me out of the plotline and onto Google. Most people who read this sort of novel have taken enough biology to say "Couldn't Jacob only get that gene from his mother? Why aren't they testing her family, too?" Since my copy of the novel is an ARC, I am hoping some editor has already spotted and solved this problem.

Overall, Defending Jacob is an engrossing read. It is well-written, outside of the genetics issue. Andy's willful belief in his son's innocence and the desperate acts he commits to shield his son drive this story, and kept me turning pages till I reached its open-ended conclusion.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: The Cradle in the Grave

The Cradle in the Grave
The Cradle in the Grave by Sophie Hannah

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From my understanding, this is the ARC of A Room Swept White, book 5 of the Spilling CID series. I have not read the 'final' print, so all comments pertain to this version of the novel.

I have noticed that many British authors fall into what I refer to as the Jane Austen Syndrome: it takes about 200+ pages before anything really interesting happens, although when it does it's damned interesting. P.D. James had the same problem in The Private Patient. This doesn't mean it's written badly, just not in the style an impatient American with Aries rising normally appreciates.

Fortunately, this was offset by the 'documentary' presentation of the original crimes and interviews with the women convicted of the child murders. I love true crime and reading the 'paperwork' involved, so this provided me with an early source of satisfaction that carried me until the heroine became interesting, too.

I was not at all sold on the relationship between Fliss and Natrass. Oh, I can believe he was a jerk, but I really don't understand how her ('her' being Fliss) attraction to Natrass particularly enhanced the storyline. I found Simon's dogged determination to hate his boss much more compelling. His outrage and mixed feelings upon finding himself on the same 'side' as his detested supervisor were very human and understandable.

Each of the bodies is found with a list of sixteen digits - four rows by four columns. When the solution to that clue came, I found it surprising and satisfactory.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but think it might have been better without the viewpoint of Fliss Benson at all. Perhaps, if they had revealed certain aspects of her background earlier, I would not feel that way. I have read that the final version was a superior manuscript. I hope so.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Horror for the Holidays

I had a very pleasant surprise yesterday: a story I expected to come out in 2012 is available now! Horror Carnival is a collection of several vile stories by experienced horror and pulp authors. Some of the notables include Matt Kurtz (who was also in The Big Book of New Short Horror), David James Keaton (of Plots with Guns fame), and, of course, prolific editor and author Anthony Giangregorio.

I need to update my Web page and my store on Second Life with this and other items. By the way, my wife, Gwen Mayo, has a store on Amazon. All of our stories are on there, plus others by people like Marian Allen, Bertena Varney, Amy Mah, Lori Lake, Patty Henderson, and Jeanine Hoffman. The music section is an eclectic mix of things from the Rat Pack to Ke$ha. Just a little nepotism for the holidays, folks...


Saturday, December 03, 2011


The 2011 book tour is over, and NaNoWriMo is over as well. Finally, I get to come out of crazy writer mode - just in time to make the shift into crazy holiday mode. If I find the time between now and January, I might be able to do some book reviews. The great thing about attending Bouchercon is the number of free books and review copies the attendees receive. I have several interesting ARCs in the island of paper products surrounding my end of the couch.

Oh, yeah, I might want to sort that pile out. Right now, our living room looks like a ransacked library. Let's not discuss what the kitchen looks like.

But the first fun thing I'm getting to read is from my wife, Gwen Mayo. She's almost finished with the sequel to Circle of Dishonor. Guess who has the first 55K words of that sequel on a memory stick jacked into her laptop? You got it. I'm the person who sees her stuff before the beta readers. I guess that makes me the alpha reader.

Anyhoo: Sorry for the breaks between posts. I have been waaaayyy too active this year.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Oh, the Places I Went...

Gwen Mayo and I at Magna cum Murder. As always, it was a blast!

It's been a loooong time since I posted here. Honestly? Between traveling every weekend and trying to get regular and special errands done during the week, it's been hard to find the time.

What are 'special' errands, you ask? The most special one dealt with my late grandmother's Toyota. The cost of repairs finally outweighed the cost of replacing it, so we replaced it. I hated giving the Corolla up - it was Granny's, after all - but it was a twenty-year-old car.

On my father's recommendation, we bought a used Scion. This vehicle resembles a small milk truck and would definitely fit into the list of ugly cars the Reverend W. Robert Merrimon drove in All This and Family,Too. It carries lots of books, though, has a working defroster for the back window, and, most importantly, has brakes.

Bess the Bookmobile.

October is best defined as Before Granny's Car Died and After Granny's Car Died.

BGCD: We spent the first weekend delivering political yard signs. The second weekend, we traveled to Louisville to join our Sisters in Crime for a Ghost Tour of Old Louisville. A lovely trip, but it was on the way home that the brake light first came on. Sunday was spent delivering more yard signs and pouring brake fluid into the car.

AGCD: We did a signing at That Book Place, located in Madison, IN, on the 15th. Marian Allen did a lovely interview with us as part of promotion. The following weekend was the Halloween Expo at National College in Lexington. We didn't attend the masquerade ball after the Expo because we ran off to hear Cris Williamson sing at Natasha's. The final weekend of the month was spent in Muncie, Indiana at Magna cum Murder. Overall, we've been giving the new vehicle a baptism by car trips.

The final event before the holidays strike -er- arrive is the Kentucky Book Fair. That'll be in Frankfort on November 12th. Please drop by and say hello!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Halloween Releases

Gotta love the Cthulhu on the cover!

I have two new short stories out in time for Halloween, both in Pill Hill Press anthologies. The Big Book of New Short Horror has 58 (!) horror stories, many of them by excellent authors like Mark Souza and Deb Eskie.

My own story in the collection, "Patch Test", involves a horrific application of nanomedicine. It is one of the unfunniest stories I've ever written and is possibly (due to subject matter) the most controversial one as well. 

Nothing cutesy about these stories!
Halloween Frights, Volume I, is Pill Hill's offering for the holiday. It contains thirteen scary stories, including another one by Mark Souza and one by my spouse, Gwen Mayo.

My own story, "Fire Insurance, Inc." takes place in a Hell House. For the uninitiated, this is a house of horrors set up by fundamentalist Christians to show teenagers where they could wind up if they make the 'wrong' choices. My question: what happens if Hell horns in on the action?

Both collections are very reasonably priced for Kindle, and, naturally, I encourage you to check them out. Print versions should be available soon.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Second Life: Odd Women's Bookstore

The ground floor of our store.

If you've been following me on FaceBook or Twitter, you know that I've been on Second Life since I was introduced to it at AuthorFest in April. Gwen Mayo and I took the plunge shortly thereafter and opened a virtual store on Book Island. We learned how to form posters of our books and link them to Amazon so people could read more and (we hoped) purchase them.

Gwen and I as SL shopkeepers.

At first, we just carried our own novels and the anthologies our stories appear in. We also linked to a couple of singleton short stories that you can download directly to Kindle. Even so, we hoped to carry works by other people, preferably authors we knew personally.

The first new author we added was Marian Allen. She is a member of the Southern Indiana Writers' Group and her stories defy categorization. Her newest novel, on display at our store, is Force of Habit.

The second author we added was Bertena Varney. Her book, Lure of the Vampire, is a nonfiction look at the vampire in folklore and popular culture.

Our newest author is T. Lee Harris. She also belongs to the Southern Indiana Writers' Group, and is both author and editor. We have two of her crime stories on display now.

At the rate we're going, we'll fill up that second floor soon enough.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: SNAP: The World Unfolds

SNAP: The World Unfolds
SNAP: The World Unfolds by Michele Drier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SNAP: The World Unfolds
by Michele Drier

Maxmillia Gwenoch, aka Maxie, is the new managing editor of SNAP. After years of working in women's magazines, she's finally reached the top. SNAP is the name of a conglomeration of print magazine (with editions in five languages), blog, and television publications dedicated to celebrities. Maxie works out of the office in LA, but makes regular trips to Miami, Rio, and other glam locations to rub shoulders with The Beautiful People. She's being paid a remarkable amount of money for the job, more than she ever thought she'd make. She has a condo and a chauffeur. Finally: she has an assistant, Jazz, whom I would kill to have on my payroll (if I could afford her rate). The woman is wonderful: she arranges for Maxie’s furniture to be unpacked while she’s on the road, and dispatches personal shoppers to acquire suitable clothing in her boss’ size when Maxie is invited to the castle of SNAP’s owner. Did I mention that SNAP was owned by a Hungarian baron?

Then there’s Jean-Louis, the art director. He’s frightfully handsome, and interested in Maxie, but our heroine’s mother always advised her never to get involved with someone prettier than she was. Still...

With these blessings come problems. There’s the blood on the bathroom floor. There’s the unexplained quasi-hospital setup on one of the floors in her office building. Then, there’s the sudden attacks on Maxie. Someone is trying to kidnap her!

She discovers that the Baron Kandesky and his family are vampires, and Carlos the Chauffeur is a demon who’s been engaged to protect her. That part is really cool, except for the Huszars, the vampires next door. They’ve been feuding with the Kandeskys for centuries, and they’ve teamed up with the local werewolves and wild boars. Yes, as in feral pigs.

The Huszars would like to replace the Kandeskys as the vampire source of celebrity gossip. Along with smashing them into the dirt, of course. And they want Maxie… because good help is hard to find.

This novella is a fast, fun read. I usually find the ‘life of the celebrity’ a turn-off, but it was very enjoyable here, seen through the eyes of a reporter who has to live part of what she’s been writing about all these years. Maxie is a go-getter who doesn’t give up when faced with challenges she has no preparation for. Plus, the notion that the Huszars want her for her skills is a twist I rarely see in romantic suspense. My only complaint is that the story is too short: it’s an origin story for a series character. Good news, though: the sequel is due out in 2012.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This Friday: North Carolina!

This Friday, I will be joining four Sisters in Crime in North Carolina to promote Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology. Karen Pullen, Patricia Winton, Heidi Saunders and I will team up with the legendary Chris Roerden (author of the classic Don't Murder Your Mystery) to do readings and sign the anthology.

We will be at McIntyre's Books at 2 PM. The store is located at Fearrington Village in Pittsboro.

At 7:30, we will be signing at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh.

Heidi Saunders and I will be driving down together, since we are both from Kentucky and belong to the same chapter of Sisters in Crime. Considering how many submissions Fish Tales had, I consider it a coup for our group that two of us were selected.

If you're in the Raleigh area, we'd love to have you drop by!


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Giveaway: Fish Tales

Looking to win a free copy of Fish Tales? Check out the giveaway on Goodreads! Hurry, though: the giveaway ends on August 14th.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fish Tales by Ramona DeFelice Long

Fish Tales

by Ramona DeFelice Long

Giveaway ends August 14, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: The Hunt by Linell Jeppsen

This novel is described on Amazon as a story where two vampire factions clash in the Washington State woods during the height of deer season. When I read this, I thought: "Lunchtime!" Ancient creatures meet tourists? It worked for Jurassic Park...

If you are hoping for a major bloodbath, however, you will be disappointed. Two ancient foes do meet in a final conflict that has consequences for the humans who are unfortunate enough to be in the way. Outside of a few well-described deaths, though, the main focus is on the life and relationships of Raphael Goldhawk, half-breed and eventual king of the high vampire council.

In the world Jeppsen creates, vampires are a different, older species than humans. They resemble angels in many ways: they're winged, they have an alien beauty, and most of them have Biblical names (Gabriel, David, Lael). The race has become infertile over the centuries, so their hope of continuation rests with Raphael and his offspring. Raul (non-Biblical name) is the villain of the piece. To Raul and his followers, humans are food and Raphael has no business hanging around with real vampires. This leads to a series of conflicts that resulted in the death of Raphael's wife and a duel between the two vampires two hundred years ago. Raphael spares Raul's life, to his regret.

Jeppsen writes reasonably well, but the novel has serious structural problems. The story begins with the viewpoint of the humans, set in the here and now, but the overwhelming majority of the book is background, telling us the saga of Raphael Goldhawk. I found myself wondering when we were going to return to the present time and rejoin the main storyline. To me, it seems that the story of Raphael was the main storyline and should have been presented as such.

That said, I think that Linell Jeppsen is, overall, a promising writer. She went to the trouble of researching the things she could research for her story and sought out input from others (whom she acknowledges in her introduction). Her human characters are markedly different from her vampires in the way they think, speak, and their background descriptions. The joining of Raphael and Melissa, for example, is much more mythic and dramatic than the 'real folks' relationship of Holly and Brian. The characters of Raphael and his family are compelling enough to follow, despite my comments on the overall novel structure.

About the Author
Linell Jeppsen is a retired grocery store checker and high school custodian. She has been writing her entire life, but was recently chosen by Phyllis Scott Publishing for her novel, The Hunt.
She had previously won third place in a science fiction short story contest for "The Gag Gift", which is featured in Mixed Blessing and other Short Stories and The Last Astronaut.
Linell is now hard at work on her second novel, titled Story Time. It is a science-fiction, post-apocalyptic novel, which is due to be released this fall.
For more information about Linell and her work, please visit:
•    www.linelljeppsen.com


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Vrykolakas: Another Type of Vampire

Vampire Awareness Month (mostly being hosted by Amy Mah) is a good time to talk about an often-overlooked Greek variant of the species: the vrykolakas.

One of the traditional Greek curses was "May the earth not receive you!" This was the case with the vrykolakas (plural vrykolakes). Instead of decaying in the grave, the flesh swells up and take on a 'drum-like' texture (this is the term all my references use).

The vrykolakas is a little different from the 'regular' vampire in that you rarely read about one drinking blood. They prefer milk, lots of it, fresh from the goat. Although the vrykolakas is classified as a vampire, I could see where a comparisons to the zombie could also be made. Vrykolakes are fairly ugly, and property damage, disease spreading, and rending people seem to be their preferred activities.

A person can become a vrykolakas after death by being very wicked in life or by being excommunicated from the Greek Orthodox Church (according to John Cuthbert Lawson, the Church alternately boasted and disavowed this claim). Eating meat previously gnawed on by a wolf/werewolf put you at risk (the werewolf in life/vampire in death trope). Violating various taboos or being cursed by a parent were also potential causes, as was having your baptism screwed up (back to the priests again).

Lawson claimed that Greeks could tell which way a vrykolakas came into being by a using handy color-code system from the Church of St. Sophia at Thessalonica, reproduced here:
He who has left a command of his parents unfulfilled or is under their curse has only the front portions of his body preserved.
He who is under an anathema looks yellow and his fingers are wrinkled.
He who looks white has been excommunicated by divine laws.
He who looks black has been excommunicated by a bishop.
(Lawson, 370)
Wouldn't that make a good flash card for a monster-hunter?

Another part of the vrykolakas legend: if a vrykolakas knocked on the door and called your name, you must not answer. To answer meant that you would be dead within days (by sometimes unspecified means, although sitting on the chest of a sleeping victim was one method) and become one of the creatures yourself. However, unlike the postman, the vrykolakas would only call once, so it was a custom for Greeks to wait till they heard their name a second time before answering.

The island of Santorini, also known as Thera, was specifically known as a hotbed for vrykolakes. Simply Santorini's Greek Superstitions page claims that it was "known as the 'Island of the Vampires'", but no one seemed to know about them the one time I was privileged to visit the island. Both Lawson and the Superstitions page agree that Greeks on surrounding islands would bring the bodies of suspected vrykolakes to Santorini because experts in destroying the creatures resided there.

When I decided to write a story with a "Greek vampire", I set it on Santorini and introduced one such expert. Check it out on Amazon if you're interested.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Celebrity Roast

I think this is the best term for this past weekend. Memorabilia dealers, film professionals, gaming stores, and authors (mostly better known than me) set up shop during FandomFest Weekend in Louisville. Many celebrities, including John Carpenter, were featured guests of the convention. The program was great, but the hotel hosting the event shot itself in the foot. Their AC wasn't working during a time when the temperature outside was hitting 100 degrees.

Gwen and I were there representing Pill Hill Press, and dutifully baked away. Fortunately, we'd packed a cooler with water and Code Red, which was drained of all fluids by the end of the con. I suppose we could have sold drinks to the attendees and made a small fortune, but we selfishly valued our health above our bottom line. The first day was really the worst: we'd come directly from work and still had our work clothes on. The next two days, we wore shorts and tees. We'd packed nice clothes, but nice clothes were too hot. And hey, my Sandman tee was a big hit!

We weren't staying onsite, which was a splendid decision. We kept our room at the Holiday Inn set to 69 degrees and flopped on the bed every evening, feeling the heat leave us in waves.

The good part: the other writers. Gwen and I both attended - and sat in on - some wonderful panels. Gwen led a workshop on writing historical fiction, and she was also featured on panels for shopping your first novel and the mistakes beginning novelists make. I sat on the panels for paranormal novels and fan fiction, where I discovered that my first fanfic efforts probably began with The Black Stallion. I'd only traced my roots back to Betty and Veronica because I was thinking of human fanfic. Gwen and I both sat on the mystery panel, which was also great fun.

The other good part: the books. We were surrounded by book dealers. Oh, how I love books... I spent more money than we made, I assure you. The best selling items we had were our chapbooks of Gwen's Civil War short story and my horror story set in the Greek Isles. Overwhelmingly, however, the item passersby were most interested in was the postcard for zombie anthology Gone With The Dirt. I seriously think PHP might want to consider selling the cover design as posters or on T-shirts.

Many thanks must go to Stephen Zimmer for creating such an enjoyable literary track. He also spent most of his time trying to make life easier on us, rather than peddling his own books. I recommend that you go to Seventh Star Press and buy some of them to make up for his sacrifice.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vampire Awareness Month: Blood+ by Stavros

Blood Plus follows the supernatural exploits of a seemingly ordinary school girl, who just so happens to be a vampire, that hunts down and destroys Chiropterans. Chiropterans are bat-like, werewolf creatures that feed on human blood, and Saya Otonashi is the only one who can kill them. With merely faint allusions to the sensational 2000 anime movie, Blood - The Last Vampire, this half-hour anime television show isn’t a continuation of that story, but rather a full re-imagining. The name of the main character, Saya, remains the same and she hunts down these vicious metamorphosing killers, but there really is very little that would make anyone believe that she is a vampire…or that the show is a spin off from the noir horror classic.

To be fair to the show, I can not compare them. It would be like discerning the likes and dislikes of apples and oranges.  Blood+ isn’t bad. It’s rather awesome actually, but I want all die-hard fans of the anime movie to know up front and personal-like that the TV show is not like the movie…at all.

In this re-imaging Saya is an adopted teenager living with amnesia. Her adopted brothers Kai and Riku, and the faithful, cello-totting chevalier, Haji, aid her on her quests to make the world a safer place for a powerful organization known as Red Shield. Armed with her Katana, Saya must sacrifice her own blood onto the blade before it will kill the rancid beasts. Like any good anime the fight scenes are incredible, graphic, and taught with tension as Saya journeys to rediscover who and what she is.

My only beef with the show is that Saya was born in1833 and during the Vietnam War she entered a hypnotic blood trance and killed not only Chiropterans, but humans alike, thus starting her amnesic spell, and since then hasn’t aged. Okay, I get the part where it's cool to see a cutely drawn character in a school uniform kicking ass, but she’s been a teenager for well over a hundred and sixty years. Kinda smacks a little on the perverted Twilight side, if you ask me. But if you can get past the logistics of her age and the fact that she’s been in high school longer than Edward, then you are going to get involved in a great show. 

Blood+ is rich with drama, emotional strain, and endearing characters. It may not slip easily into the vampire genre, as Saya doesn’t conform to the traditional trappings of being nocturnal, having fangs, or needing to drink blood on a regular basis, it does, however, posses its own mythology. Though the show is geared more toward a younger audience, don’t let that put you off. Good anime is hard to find, and Blood+ delivers the goods. Available on Netflix and Hulu, all four seasons of Blood+ are bound into two self-contained parts, ready for streaming or home delivery. 

Written by Stavros

Stavros was a writer and editor for The Independent Underground Magazine. Raised in Southern Maryland, he fled the Chesapeake Bay area as soon as he was able, only to return, after spending years in the desert. His poetic works have been published in several online and print publications, including Central Avenue, The Sword That Cuts Through Stone, The Mynd, Imagine: Creative Arts Journal, and Bartleby, where he won a specialty award for his poem, "Blackbird".

He is a photographer and graphic designer; a musician, who has been writing and performing music his whole life. Stavros is the author of Blood Junky. He is currently penning the book’s upcoming sequels, as well as writing scripts for web-serials, independent films, and creating fascinating and original art.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vampire Awareness Month: Blade the Series as viewed by Amy Mah (Vampire)

Amy Mah, author of Fangs Rule: a Girls Guide to Being a Vampire, is a new and very funny author who writes and blogs about life as a modern teenage vampire trying to put up with both humans and fellow vampires. The author Amy has been transformed into a manga character and her real image has been changed into the wonderful images you will see in her books and this is all anyone has seen of what she looks like in real life. This may sound strange, but then all you see of A-list celebrities are Photoshopped pics in magazines.

We are not saying she is really is a vampire, but it is just very hard to take her photo, and sometimes she bites people.

Her book, Fangs Rule, can be found as a Paperback or Kindle on Amazon at:


Blade: the Series as viewed by Amy Mah (Vampire)

Here we have a dark blood thirsty murdering evil that walks the night in search of new ways of killing…Am I talking about vampires?

No, I am talking about Blade! This monster is a cross between Buffy and Van Helsing, but on acid!

He is very special as he is a day walker type of vampire. This is very rare, but does he use his great gift for good? No just for death and mayhem, which is dished out with such great pleasure, to both his own kind and humans?

He likes to kill with a sword as he says it is a good way to kill vampires…duh …Like it is a good way to kill most things in both the undead and living world the loss of a head is nature’s way of saying goodbye to the need of visiting a hairdresser ever again.

So that he does not need to drink blood he has a special drug that has to be injected regularly as takes away his blood addiction, one just wishes it would also take away his gross antisocial habits.

Oh yes, the drug also make you vomit if you eat food, so not someone you will ever wish to have a meal with.

Different from the films: In the TV series, he has two partners…  er...  well I say partners… “Shen” is someone to help with weapons and whom he treats like a vampire pet, and Krista who when turned into a vampire looks to me more normal when she is not taking the drug… Well she kills a lot less people when not on the drug, so I think perhaps it is the drug that makes her evil.

Like the time when two vampires were helping to drive her to a meeting and she just killed them without any real reason!

See evil… What normal person would do something like that if they were not on drugs!

But then normal goes out the window when Krista has to go swimming in a pool of blood… er. how stupid is that?

Just a way of letting everyone on the film set know she is female.

So the idea given of being nude is so she does not make the blood dirty? … er… Like would you like to drink it afterwards? And perhaps being the one that finds her pubic hairs in your mouth ... yuk … and she was under the surface for like 10 hours …without visiting the bathroom? … God, she must have a bladder made of cast iron! And another reason not to risk drinking blood people have bathed in!

She must have been just sitting under the surface of the blood with her legs crossed as there is not a lot you can do in blood… it is way too sticky to swim in and it separates so quickly when it starts to congeal that you would need to brake the surface scab to let her out …

So this is a very good TV series about a mass murderer, someone that has nothing better to do but kill tax paying vampires and their human servants …sorry … OK, he does not always kill the human servants…no sometimes he just gauges out the eyes!  ..  Er … episode 12 – 13 ...for gods sake the now blind man was only an architect, and all he was doing is designing a meeting house, so why be so nasty? Look at the new jobs he helped create in building construction sites, and now he is blind.

Going back to Blade who is something like a born vampire who started out by just killing people for blood like a normal vampire and then turning the only people that befriended him into vampires leaving left them to be ostracized by the rest of the vampire world because of what Blade got up to by killing vampires for pleasure.

At this point we learn that all gang members that were his friends and have the same gang tattoos as blade has and when they meet up he kills them all!  Well that is not someone I would like to have as a friend on Facebook.

Apart from the normal day to day killings he is kinda pissed off with the House of Chthon but never quite sure why as it is a very good vampire business which supports the arts and local politics, the manager of the House is a turnling called Marcus he is mega cute and without the drug Krista enjoyed being bedded by him on a number of occasions, at least once while Blade watches! The Pervert!!

The ending of the series is good but needs a second series hopefully showing a great and glorious permanent death of Blade so that we can all sleep a little easier in our coffins.

Review By: Amy Mah, Vampire, Blogger and Author of Fangs Rule: a Girls Guide to Being a Vampire

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vampire Awareness Month: Carl Kolchak

This post is part of Vampire Awareness Month, the cooperative effort of many vampire fans. This post is X-posted at Amy Mah's blog. Amy is kindly hosting the VAM posts as well! Below is a subject near and dear to my heart: 

Carl Kolchak: the Night Stalker
In 1972, a TV movie grabbed my imagination and wouldn't let go. Its name: The Night Stalker. The main character, Carl Kolchak, is a reporter covering a series of murders in Las Vegas. During the investigation, he discovers clues that the suspected killer is a vampire. He is skeptical at first, but becomes a True Believer by the conclusion of the film and takes the vampire down alone, at great risk to himself.

Kolchak was inconveniently thrown out of Las Vegas in the first film, so the second TV movie starring this unusual hero was set in Seattle. No vampire this time, but the second film was so successful that a television series was born. In the series, Kolchak set up house in Chicago with his editor, Tony Vincenzo. Vincenzo was his editor in the films, too, which makes you wonder how good Kolchak was when he wasn't chasing monsters - or if something else was going on there.

Kolchak: the Night Stalker was my "absolutefavoritegottasee" show during its run from 1974-75. Kolchak, with his often-damaged tape recorder, never-ready camera, and dumb-looking straw hat was the perfect hero for a girl who wanted to go to Duke for a degree in parapsychology. Carl (given name Karel as per the Jeff Rice book) wanted to explore the paranormal - and offer proof to everyone else. Alas, the latter was always denied. I loved Darren McGavin's voiceovers, giving us the story of each monster - and each victim. They were always so much more convincing than the schemes he used to wangle his way into crime scenes and out of trouble with Vincenzo.

The vampires, like the other creatures in the Night Stalker series, were not like the werewolves, witches or vampires in today's popular fiction. They were true monsters, inhuman creatures with human form. They preyed on their victims without remorse or angst. About the only thing they have in common with modern paranormal heroes is that many of them were good-looking. 

I dearly loved the show, but my major beef with it was Kolchak's tendency to go after the monsters he chased during their time of greatest power. Usually, this meant after dark, during the full moon, etc. Didn't he realize that this was a great way to get killed? After spending some years writing, though, I've realized that stopping the monster was not his first objective - getting the story was. Stopping the creature was a bonus, but often connected to self-preservation. Just like a reporter...

The series lived for only one season, but the legend of Kolchak continues. Copies of Jeff Rice's book and the videos of the two TV movies can be had, but at an exorbitant price. An anthology was released a few years back with various authors' versions of Kolchak stories. The Night Stalker is cited as one of the inspirations for the X-Files television series, and this was acknowledged in 1998 when Darren McGavin came on the show as FBI Special Agent Arthur Dales, the first agent to investigate what became the "X-Files". In 2005, ABC tried airing a new Night Stalker series, but it was an enormous flop. It just wasn't the same without McGavin. I hear that a film version with Johnny Depp may be in the works, but people think Johnny Depp is going to play everything.

Its legacy for this author? I didn't get a degree in parapsychology, but I did get one in journalism. The major focus of my writing has been the occult and paranormal, including vampires. I call it fiction, but you never know...


Friday, July 01, 2011

FandomFest Weekend

In case you haven't heard of FandomFest, it's taking place in Louisville the weekend of July 22-24. It's a gathering for fandoms of all sorts - gamers, comic collectors, horror movie fans, zombie fans... everyone from John Carpenter to yours truly will be there!

Gwen Mayo and I will both be participating in FandomFest's Literary Track. My schedule is below:

7:00 pm     Concourse: Signing
10:00 pm   Panel Room C: Reading

2:00 pm     Panel Room B: Mystery Writing

10:00 am
   Panel Room B: Writing Fan Fiction
3:00 pm      Panel Room B: The Paranormal in Fiction

Gwen Mayo and I will also be running the Pill Hill Press booth in the vendors' area. Come by to get a signed copy of All This and Family, Too or Circle of Dishonor! Gwen and I will also be offering Tarot readings.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Launch Party: TGIO

It was a dark and stormy night...

Things I appreciated from my launch party:
  • The Morris Book Shop, a great independent bookstore that has all sorts of books from local authors. When I got there, the staff had set up a table with black webbing, a skull cup, a Sharpie marker, and, of course, books. It was nice to have professionals arrange the details since I'd been in Florida for the previous two weeks. Gwen's launch party was great, but we couldn't have set it up long distance.

The Morris Book Shop had to put out extra chairs.
  • The assistance I got in preparing for the party, which was almost as detailed as the prep for my photo shoot. My entourage was smaller this time, but multitalented. Christy applied the makeup, but began giving me lessons on how to put it on myself. I am proud that I did not whimper this time.
What is this 'mascara' you speak of?
  • Wardrobe assistance: My sister-in-law, Deanna, bought me a bat necklace and loaned me a dress that put the 'ho' in horror. It looked great, but I had to wear a push-up bra and a girdle to get the best effect. I now know why feminism was invented: the ladies of Seneca Falls wanted to breathe!
  • The friend who ordered my book in advance and brought it in for my signature, already dog-eared. Very flattering.
  • The stranger who showed up and was mistaken for the husband of a long-term friend. To be fair, though, it's been 15 years since I last saw the husband, whom I remember as 'the guy who wore the Spock ears and the shirt with the dragons f---ing'. He took my mistake in good humor, which is not surprising, given his blog.
  • The family and friends who shared the day with me, especially the ones who drove in from Ohio, Louisville, and Eastern Kentucky. 
Time for extra chairs again.
  • The post-launch party at Logan's.
  • And, finally, the sense of relief and satisfaction when it was all over and I was back in my recliner, clad in shorts and a T-shirt, and playing on the computer. Long sigh.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

GCLS: Karaoke Makes All The Difference

Reading an excerpt from my novel. For a vampire story, it sure has a lot of deaths by head shots.

I'm fresh back from the Golden Crown Literary Society convention. Originally, I planned to call this blog "No One Loves Me, But They're Taking My Wife to Lunch".

My book was labeled 'Gay and Lesbian'. It was brand spanking new; I had my first book order from Pill Hill Press mailed directly to my parents in Florida in case they didn't arrive before June (they did). Beth Wylde put my postcards in the participants' goodie bags.

So, who did they fall in love with? My wife! I can't blame them; my wife is charming, intelligent, and writes good mysteries. Hell, it worked on me, and I am a tough sell (just ask her). I meandered around, wondering what I should and shouldn't say to these women (who held my book sales in their hands), while Gwen was surrounded by women and getting invited to lunch. I was jealous in more than one way.

Then came Karaoke Night...

I blame it on the Greek blood. And Snoopy.

The next morning, everyone began talking to me. I'd suddenly obtained street cred as a partier. Can I help it if I love dancing and know the lyrics to all sorts of cheesy songs? Imagine what I'd do if I learned to drink alcohol!

Maybe I needed to loosen up before I was approachable. Something to keep in mind for 2012.

I didn't get onto any of the panels, but I did get to do a reading from All This and Family, Too. Good practice for my book launch tomorrow. The big event I got to appear in was Lara Zielinsky's BlogTalkRadio broadcast live from the convention. If you'd like to hear how I accidentally got published by Pill Hill Press, or snicker at how I sound like a 12-year old, my interview begins at 22:45. As a bonus, I'm followed by my wife, Gwen Mayo.

The full broadcast is below. I urge you to listen to the entire show to learn more about the other authors interviewed. They are real hoots in person.

Listen to internet radio with Readings LAB on Blog Talk Radio


Book Launch is Saturday. Wrists May Not Survive Intact.

My book launch is this Saturday. I'm excited. Thrilled. Ready to cut my wrists. Planning to wear a dress that puts the 'ho' in horror. I did a guest blog at Working Stiffs on the two-author household. Excited. Thrilled. Ready to cut my wrists. Got featured in The Vampire Review. Excited. Thrilled. Ready to cut my wrists.

You've probably clued into the pattern here. Since my book hit the press, I've been running around in circles and squawking, mostly to my wife. I can't think, I can't concentrate, and even the simplest things make me want to sit down and cry. I know Gwen has to forgive me, because she did the same things last year when Circle of Dishonor came out. I didn't strangle her, so she's obligated not to strangle me (right?).

Anyway: The launch party for All This and Family, Too is at The Morris Book Shop this Saturday, June 18th, at 2 PM. The Morris Book Shop is located at 408 Southland Drive in Lexington, Kentucky. There will be light refreshments, wine, and some soft drinks.

Please come to my book launch so I can feel loved. And maybe not cut my wrists, although it would get me on the 6 o'clock news. They say that all press is good press...

Addendum: Since my last post here, a shamefully long time ago, I was also featured on Savvy Authors. My post, 'Pitching Woo-Woo', offers advice to writers on incorporating paranormal elements in their stories. I have two other guest posts coming up in the next couple of weeks. My frazzled brain may be forgetting something, though. Check my publicist's page: she is better at keeping track of me than I am. Yes, I have a vampire publicist. Her rates are very reasonable, as long as my blood holds out.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Various: Medical Mysteries, An Interview, Open to Guest Posts, etc.

  • If you like medical mysteries, check out my guest blog on Gwen's page. I examine the types of villains featured in stories by authors like Robin Cook, Tess Gerritsen, and Michael Palmer. Please note that Gwen is open to guest posts by writers other than her wife, so if you'd like to do a post for her, pop over and let her know.
  • Good eReader featured an article earlier this week on the opportunities e-publishing has created for LGBT authors. I am one of the people who provided input, and I'm very proud of that. E-publishing and POD publishing have created many opportunities for LBGT stories to actually see 'print'. Less cost = more publishers willing to take a risk.
  • Also: I am opening this blog to guest posts by other authors. I prefer that they pertain to mystery, horror, or vampires, unless I happen to know and like you. I prefer that the whole post be under 600 words, excluding a short bio and blurb. Expect me to correct the use of your/you're, it's/its, egregious misspellings and other grammatical pet peeves you manage to tweak. No slamming of other writers or anyone who might sue me. Also: if you disapprove of gays and lesbians... it won't be a good fit. 
  • Gwen and I have opened a store on Second Life. It's on Book Island, and is named Odd Women. Right now, it only has our books, but we'd like to include books by selected other authors. Are you reading this, Marian Allen?
  • Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology is now available in ePub format. Visit Wildside Press to download it! If you don't like my story, there's 21 others that might be more to your liking.
  • State of Horror: Louisiana is now on Smashwords. It's available in many more formats now, so if you'd like to see my funny Lovecraft tribute... just sayin'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Interview: Uncle Phineas of The Eel

Welcome to the inaugural guest interview on Sinister Scribblings! In keeping with the gravity and moment of this -er- moment, we have a Very Special Guest as our first interviewee.

I'd like to introduce you to Uncle Phineas, one of The Eel's most prominent priests of Holy Sweet Micah. If you haven't heard of Holy Sweet Micah or The Eel, you haven't been getting around enough. Uncle Phineas has been kind enough to answer some theological questions for those who are unchurched.

  • What were your reasons for entering the priesthood?
I was reared by solid middle-class parents who attended a "true" temple regularly until I was ten. That year, one of those fashion fads swept through the area, this one being for stucco, and my parents' plastering business became highly profitable and highly stylish. They decided we needed to transfer to a more modish temple with -- shall we say -- a clientèle they wished to share.

You will, without question, be as skeptical as everyone else to hear I entered the priesthood to recover the simplicity and sincerity of that first "true" experience. Sadly, my appearance and manner mitigate against me. I am not liked. I am not trusted. You needn't doubt me, just because I smile when I say it.

  • What is your personal opinion on the issue of mermayd souls?

In my personal opinion, anyone who has money has a soul. I can't substantiate the theology of that statement, but the financial soundness is beyond dispute.

  • Some faiths believe that reward and punishment are given in the afterlife for one’s deeds during their time spent in the world. How does your temple deal with human frailty? How does Holy Sweet Micah mitigate punishment for one’s sins?

The teaching of Holy Sweet Micah says nothing about the afterlife or reward and punishment. The "true" temples stick to the teaching as it has been handed down to us, with the addition of the legend of Micah's appearance walking on the sea after his death by drowning. The thrusts of the "true" branch of the church are self-knowledge and compassion. It was left to the "reavers" to give people what they want: a clear set of rights and wrongs and a comprehensive payment schedule to cover all contingencies. Most people find their consciences salved by regular temple attendance and tithing. For those who suspect this may not be enough to -- as you put it -- mitigate punishment in the hereafter we reavers hold out as a terrible possibility, indulgences are available in return for cash or in-kind payment. Our temple, for example, has some lovely new stained-glass windows obtained in ways we will not question by parishioners we will not name.

  • Could you address the differences between the so called "true priest" and the your order? What are the differences in training and beliefs? In what ways are your followers more or less faithful than those of the true priest?

I've addressed some of this already. The training is the same. Everyone attends the same seminaries. Everyone is trained in the deep reading of the teaching. Everyone is trained in what you would call psychology. If one is called to the "true" priesthood, one becomes more-or-less what you would call a therapist, helping congregants find the balance in their lives and serenity of spirit through, as I said, self-knowledge and compassion. Those drawn to the reaver life will generally serve under a chief priest or, if he or she is fortunate, will be set up in his or her own temple by a wealthy family.

A reaver's followers are far more faithful than a "true" priest's, because followers of the traditional teaching aren't required to attend services, to consult priests or to contribute anything toward the upkeep of any priest or temple. A reaver's followers are generally invested in being considered a member in good standing of a fashionable temple. It's a matter of status to attend, to tithe and to contribute in additional ways. I dine out most evenings, for example, and dine well. The only drawback is that one temple might go out of fashion as another is considered more modish. It can be tricky, keeping ahead of the pack. I'm happy to say I've always found personal visits to leading parishioners sufficiently effective.

Please feel free to join me on my Facebook page. You'll be asked to say you Like me. If lying bothers you, the indulgence for that particular transgression is on a low, low special while the offer stands.

Uncle Phineas
Priest of Micah

Phineas Rules!

To follow the adventures of Uncle Phineas, be sure to pick up Eel's Reverence. Marian Allen is his biographer, although we are certain that Our Special Guest does not always appreciate the light she casts him in.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

All This and Family, Too - NOW AVAILABLE!

The waiting is over! It's a good thing, too: patience isn't my strong suit. I thought I would explode...

All This and Family, Too is now available from Amazon and Pill Hill Press.

I even have my first review. Drop in on Amazon and read it!

Update: It's also available on Kindle and Nook!

Print version from Barnes & Noble is here.