Jamming at World Horror Con, 2013

This is Mort Castle and Mason Bundschuh jamming together after the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards ceremony. Mort just walked away with two Stokers, one in the Superior Achievement in an Anthology category for Shadow Show, and Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for New Moon on the Water.


In D minor, the saddest of all keys.

The photograph was taken by Stacy Scranton-Morgan.

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Sunday Digs: On Optical Illusions, Insulting Women Who Kick Ass, and Getting It Done by Joss Whedon

Here are a handful of goodies from around the Internet that we found interesting this past week.

We’ll start off this Sunday Digs with something a little more whimsical: buildings sporting optical illusions. After looking at that, here are some rather emotional pictures of suitcases left behind by New York asylum residents.

Here’s a horrifying read of some bad feelings that went down on the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel at this year’s ComicCon. Quite frankly, these are women I’d choose not to insult.

And finally, we have some advice on getting it done by Joss Whedon. His secret weapon? Chocolate. No joke.

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Sign Up for the The Bram Stoker Weekend and WHC Pitch Session

Why? Because you want to pitch your stuff. And you won’t be able to sign up at the convention. You have to do so now.

The Bram Stoker Awards® Weekend and World Horror Convention are combined this year in New Orleans. Pitches to several publishers and one agent will be held on Saturday, June 15. The editors and agent are:

Alec Shane – Agent, Writers House
Blood Bound Books – Geoff Hyatt
Cycatrix Press – Jason V Brock
Dark Regions Press – RJ Cavender
Hydra, Random House – Sarah Peed
JournalStone – Chris C. Payne
Nightscape Press – Mark Scioneaux
Samhain Publishing – Don D’Auria
Tor – Liz Gorinski

To secure your slot, email RJ Cavender at rjc@editorialdepartment.com with your top three pitch choices. In the subject of your email, please write Pitch Sessions – (Author’s Last Name).

All authors will be signed up for two pitch sessions, available on a first come, first serve basis.

Not sure what each publisher and agent are looking for? There’s a website where they straight up tell you. Read it. See if you have anything that fits. Then sign up, and don’t be nervous.

There will be a dark-haired Shock Totem girl in stilettos who will be helping out. Taking you to your pitch session, letting you know when your time is almost up. Straightening your collar and letting you know if there’s lipstick on your teeth. Join me! It will be fun!

But sign up ASAP. Slots are limited and they started filling up immediately.

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The Post-Anthocon Blues

The second annual Anthology conference (AnthoCon) has come and gone…

One of the best parts of all conventions is seeing old friends, making new ones, and interacting with fans (like to the two women from Maine who can never remember which issues of Shock Totem they own, but always buy something—thank you!).

This time we shared space with Robert J. Duperre and Jesse David Young of T.R.O. Publishing, and we had an absolute blast. We’ve known them both online for a long time now, but it was great to finally meet in person. Lots of laughs were had.


Robert, Ken, Sarah, and Jesse.

Robert sold copies of The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales, The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair—which contains my story “The Candle Eaters”—plus his standalone novel Silas and his four Rift-series novels: The Fall, Dead of Winter, Death Springs Eternal, and The Summer Son. All of which come highly recommended. Jesse, artist of The Wicked and all T.R.O. Publishing releases, sold prints and ate obscene amounts of barely-cooked animals.

Sarah and I sold copies of Beautiful Sorrows, The Wicked, and Shock Totem, 33 in all, which we consider to be quite a success. Sarah also sold a few of her horror-themed tag blankets. We’ll be selling the blankets soon through our store.

As previously mentioned, Shroud Publishing/The Four Horsemen, LLC., released their debut anthology, appropriately titled Anthology: Year One. My story “She Cries” is featured.


A is for Awesome.

The anthology is now available in print through Amazon for $14.95. It looks to be a great one.

Special thanks and mucho respect goes out to the Four Horsemen—Tim Deal, Mark Wholley, jOhnny Morse, and Danny Evarts—for all their hard work in putting on such a great convention. For only its second year, I was impressed. Many of the (minor) complaints I had with last year’s convention were non-issues this year. So I applaud them.

In closing, I’d like to give a nod to Gary Braunbeck who, in his keynote speech, referenced and read his favorite poem, which just so happens to be my favorite poem. It’s by Stephen Crane, whose poetry—indeed the bulk of his fiction—is criminally underrated…

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never—”

“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

So I tip my hat to Mr. Braunbeck. And we’ll see everyone next year!

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AnthoCon Here We Come!

This coming Friday through Sunday, Shock Totem Publications (Sarah and I ) will be heading up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the second annual Anthology conference (AnthoCon).

“The Anthology 2012 conference, presented by The Four Horsemen and Shroud Publishing, will showcase the imaginative talent in speculative fiction and art, with an additional focus on the convergence of images and literature. The conference will feature a number of engaging panel discussions and workshops helmed by bestselling authors, award-winning artists, and other creative and industry professionals. Also, Anthology 2012 will host a comprehensive dealer room that will include rare books, comics, art, games, and a number of other valuable creative products.”

We will have a table in the vendor room, which access to is FREE to the public! So stop on by. We’d love to meet you.

Also in the vendor room will be T.R.O. Publishing, the fine ladies of Broad Universe, the New England Horror Writers group (of which I am a proud member), and many more. Honored guests include authors Gary A. Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, Rick Hautala and Holly Newstein, as well as artist Malcolm McClinton. There will be an art show and film festival, and…

The mighty Voltaire will be on hand performing songs and reading from his new novel, Call of the Jersey Devil. (Seriously, folks, this guy named an album Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children. Easily the greatest album title of all time.)

Typical convention stuff will also ensue—panels, reading, pitch sessions, debauchery, etc. And on a personal note, The Four Horsemen will be unleashing their very first anthology, aptly titled Anthology: Year One.

I am particularly excited about this because I have a story included called “She Cries.” The official release will be on Saturday at 6 PM. Many of the other authors will also be present for signings, maybe readings.

So if you’re in the neighborhood, or looking for something to do this weekend, come to AnthoCon! And if you’re already planning to attend, we’ll see you there.

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Shock Totem Invades Killercon

This coming weekend, at the fourth annual Killercon convention in Las Vegas, joining the likes of F. Paul Wilson, Wrath James White, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Adam Cesare, and more, the Shock Totem Five will be meeting in person for the first time ever. We will have a vendor table all weekend long. If you’re attending, we’d love to meet you.

We are hosting a party Friday night as well. I say party, but since everyone shot down all my great ideas–bouncy castle, Sumo wrestler outfits/matches, Andrew WK karaoke battles–I’m not sure how much of a party it’ll be, but it’ll be fun…because when it’s time to party we will always party hard!

Yeah, I went there.

In addition, we will be doing a special pre-release of our upcoming collection, Beautiful Sorrows, by Mercedes M. Yardley. Own it weeks before its official release. We’ll have fifty paperback copies available (there will also be a limited edition hardcover release) at a special discount price. Mercedes will gladly autograph your copy. She’ll be doing a reading from the book as well.

For more info, click here. Preorders for the official paperback and hardcover release will go up later today and tomorrow. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Hope to see you there!

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Frank ‘N’ Con Report – First Strike

Living in the middle of nowhere, you get used to the idea that you’ll have to travel if you want to see much of anything, particularly when that something is a specialized interest, like a horror convention. Cons are on the list of things we just don’t get around here, along with fresh seafood and people who know how to use turn signals. So I was thrilled to hear about the first annual Frank ‘N’ Con, a horror convention that was held Halloween weekend in El Paso, Texas, which is “only” a three hour drive for me. That’s as local as it gets when you’re homesteading out here in the badlands.

The guest list was impressive. A fairly comprehensive reunion for the cast of the 1985 classic Return of the Living Dead, including a live performance by legendary punk band 45 Grave, was the big draw for me; but they also had Ernie Hudson, Margo Kidder, Dee Wallace, Belinda Balaski, and a slew of other stars.

So I got up early on Saturday morning and made the trek down with my sister Julie, who knows a whole lot more about horror films than I do. Being a novice at the con scene, I’m a poor judge of the success of such an event, but it seemed like a decent turnout to me, especially for the first year. It was pretty busy both days, but not so packed that you couldn’t get around. Lines for each table were rarely more than two or three people deep and frequently there was no wait at all, so there was a lot of opportunity to interact with the booth operators.


[ we also got the chance to meet chicks! ]

The Return of the Living Dead cast was set up in their own special side room, which is a good idea in theory. In actual practice, I think it segregated them a little and led to a lower turnout for the actors. That was good for us, as we got to hang out with them a bit more, but I hope they did well with their merch sales. We spent a lot of time talking to Linnea Quigley, and also interacted quite a bit with Miguel Núñez, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Don Calfa, Brian Peck, Thom Matthews, Allan Trautman, William Stout, and Michael Perez who is the executive producer for the new Return of the Living Dead documentary, More Brains.

It was a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Miguel Núñez in particular was hilarious. At one point he freaked out Linnea Quigley by swiping her money pouch and sending a fan over to tell her that someone had made off with it. He let her sweat a little before coming over and handing it back. Michael Perez encouraged us to try to prank Beverly Randolph, but she was just too nice for me to go through with it. It was also the first time that Dinah Cancer from 45 Grave had met Linnea Quigley, so we had a lot of fun watching the stars have their own fan moments. The only sad note was the absence of Jewel Shepard, who was scheduled to appear but is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and had to bow out on the advice of her doctors. There is an opportunity to donate to her medical expenses on the Frank ‘N’ Con homepage.

Another interesting booth was a local El Paso group called Guerilla Graphics. They were promoting artwork for a planned animated horror project called the Zygomatics. Good stuff! I was impressed with their artwork, and intend to keep up with what they are doing.

The main area was open until six. Then it was time for a night of horror set to music. I think blog posts are best if they are only so long, though, so I’ll leave that story for another day. Stay tuned…

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