Sunday Reads: On Drugs, Zombies, and Creepy Children

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

Artist Bryan Lewis Saunders takes several different kinds of drugs and then draws self-portraits. Drugs are bad, m’kay, but the results are interesting.

I’m sorry, zombie friend, but I didn’t quite catch that. One of the funniest things I saw this week was a Bad Lip Reading of The Walking (and Talking) Dead.

Zombies aren’t creepy. Children are creepy. Nothing exhibits this better than this very cool, very strange Reddit conversation about the creepiest thing your young child has ever said to you .

And after you’ve been chilled by little Jimmy’s prophecy of your death, or sweet Molly’s insistence that SOMEBODY IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU, you can finish freaking yourself out by looking at these hyper-realistic dolls…of you.

Knock yourselves dead, darlings. See something cool that should be in the roundup? Drop me an email, or leave a post on our forum. Let’s while away our time in the dark.

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James Newman’s Holy Rollers: The Short Film

Your help is needed. Watch this video…

[ click here for a conversation with director Kevin Woods ]

Now go here.

I’m disappointed this has yet to reach its goal. I’ve seen people raise $5,000 or more for an anthology, and we all know that it doesn’t cost nearly half that much.

There have been charity anthologies published, paid for by pledgers, with proceeds from sales going to the charity. Proceeds from SALES! Thousands of dollars in donations to create something that will generate hundreds of dollars in donations to the charity, if that. Seems utterly ass-backwards, doesn’t it?

Worse, there are now magazines being funded by Kickstarter campaigns—and they’re making a killing! Now tell me, what happens when these magazines don’t make their funding goal? Who’s going to pay then? Surely not the publishers.

I’ve seen other people donate to someone who wants to take six months off from work to write a novel. People donate money so someone else can do this! Seriously. Stephen King used to write in his laundry room, with a board across his lap and a typewriter on top of the board—all while being a teacher, a husband, and a father—and some of you want donations so you can quit your job and write your novel? Bitch, please.

So I find it disheartening to see this Holy Rollers campaign failing to reach its goal.

James Newman is one of the sweetest, kindest writers in the small press. Better yet, he’s also one of the BEST writers around! He may not be the loudest in the room, or the most adept at spamming you on Facebook and Twitter, but he is undoubtedly the kind of writer we need to rally around—because he’s not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass, trying to impress you with stuff that doesn’t matter; James just writes, and he does it goddamn well.

And Holy Rollers deserves a shot. So please visit the Indiegogo page, check out the perks, and consider donating. There’s not much time left, but there is enough.

Please share this!

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Kevin J. Anderson Talks Writing

Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert kicked off separate multi-city book tours on January 3 in support of their just-released collaborative novel, Sisterhood of Dune. Check out this inspirational video from Kevin’s tour stop in Denver, CO.

And if you’re looking for more inspiration, follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook. The man is a writing machine!

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Screaming in Digital

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happened. All four issues of Shock Totem plus our brand-new holiday e-book are now available for the Kindle (other formats coming soon). The first two issues and the holiday issue are $0.99, while issues 3 and 4 are $1.99 (because they’re nearly double in size).

[ from one of my all-time favorite albums ]

I originally paid to have issue #1 done by a “professional.” I wasn’t too impressed. So I decided to attempt to teach myself. Easier said that done when you’re as busy as me. But when we decided to do this new holiday issue, which was to be an e-book release, I had no choice but to buckle down and learn the formatting. I wasn’t paying anyone $150 for a two-month turnaround on a rather unimpressive-for-the-cost product.

So this past Monday, after Anthocon, I sat down and began teaching myself how to rock this formatting. A week later, and all our issues are done, including a redesign of issue #1 so that it matches the others.

If you’ve been waiting to check us out, now is the perfect time. All four main issues and the holiday issue for LESS THAN $7! That’s a wicked deal.

Click here to purchase them from, or click the DIGITAL link at the top of our site for additional options.

And please, if you see any issues with the layout, let me know. As I mentioned, I’m a total noob at this e-design stuff. Thanks!

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A Weston Ochse Reading: Playlist at the End

Las Vegas, September 21, 2011, KillerCon. Weston Ochse reads—and rocks—”Playlist at the End,” his short story from the fourth issue of Shock Totem.

(Unfortunately the audio and video go out of sync a bit at the end.)

If you dig it, consider picking up an issue of Shock Totem or other works from Weston. Your support is always appreciated.

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Pig-Man Born in Guatamala…

OK, I’ll admit…I’m a child of television.

No, I don’t subscribe to cable or satellite TV and haven’t for many years now. I have never seen your favorite show. That’s right, not a single episode of Lost or Breaking Bad. I’ve never seen Jersey Shore or 16 and Pregnant, or whatever passes for entertainment on television these days… While I hear about them and am peripherally aware of them, I am seriously and happily out of touch with what is New and Hip on television.

But I’m a child of the TV Age, no doubt.

So when I see something that is a real-life horror, that rips apart the boundaries of normal, sane life and opens the maw of Yog-Sogoth himself for a gaze into that toothy, gelid grin, I immediately try to relate it to something I’ve seen already. Something on TV.

I have had such an experience this evening, my friends.

Witness the recent birth in beautiful Guatemala, a Central American paradise, of a creature so vile, so hideous, it can only be the work of some cheap Hollywood special effects wizard. A pig with a human face. A Pig-Man, if you will.

Didn’t I see this before somewhere? Perhaps on Seinfeld?

No, that’s too comedic. Too flippant. Was it on the X-Files?

Maybe. That’s closer, at least. The reality is much more disturbing.

Is that…? No, it couldn’t be. I don’t speak Spanish, so maybe it’s…


I need a drink.

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Drink with the Living Dead

Check out the new animated video for Ghoultown’s epic “Drink with the Living Dead,” from the fantastic Life After Sundown.

When you’re done watching, swing on over to and pick up some of their wares.

Support brilliance!

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The Door to Hell

Most Shock Totem readers are likely familiar with a little slice of hell on earth known as Centralia, Pennsylvania. This is the coal mining town that was featured in the video game series and film Silent Hill. It was also a missed opportunity for the Shock Totem staff when we visited last August, as our host, John Boden, refused to take us there. There’s still a bit of bad blood over that incident, but that’s a bit off the subject. =P

It all began in 1962, when some sanitation workers were burning trash right next to an exposed vein of high quality anthracite coal. The surface flames were quickly extinguished, but the fire continued to burn in the coal deposits under the town, resisting all efforts to contain it and finally forcing the evacuation of almost all of the town’s inhabitants by 1981.

Of course, this was the height of the Cold War, so naturally if Americans were lighting the earth on fire, the Russians would have to top us, right?

Well, they did a fine job.

In 1971, Soviet geologists were doing exploratory drilling in the Karakum Desert, near the town of Darvaza, in present day Turkmenistan. They unexpectedly hit a large underground cavern filled with natural gas, resulting in the collapse of the drilling rig. Because of concerns that the poisonous fumes would pose a danger to the population of Darvaza, the geologists decided to burn off the gas.

What they didn’t account for was the large quantity of gas in the chamber and lower reserves. The crater, with a diameter of 230 feet (70 meters), is still burning today. Local residents refer to it as The Door to Hell.

I’m not sure if anyone has tried to lower a microphone into it to actually record the cries of the damned, but I don’t think it would go well if they did. This thing is massive and HOT!

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Robots Have Hearts (and Will Serve Yours for Dinner)

Ryan here…

So I’m getting really sick of this whole “Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse” thing. Sure, it’s gonna happen. We’ve established this by asking your mom through scientific data. But isn’t it time we stop getting drunk at 2 A.M. and ask each other where would be the best place to go once we realized the dead were rising with a taste for brains? Besides, there’s something a little more sexy immediate to worry about, and it’s already on everyone’s mind.

Here’s a hint. Not this guy:


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Animosity Killed the Cat

James Newman, whom we first interviewed in issue #2, has been giving us the dark side of humanity for years. Through the characters of his novels and stories. He knows how to take everyday folks and everyday scenarios and skew them into something disturbing and dark. Be it the story of a young boy’s fraying tether to his youth in Midnight Rain, or the populace of his collection People Are Strange, with Newman…you never quite get what you think he’s offering: This writer’s hand often extends with a palm full of candy—candy that turns to worms and razors when you take it. I cannot think of any finer praise for his work than that.

His latest novel, Animosity, promises to leave all the others in the dust. It is a harrowing and intense book. I was fortunate enough to get an early copy and read it in days. Amazing and honest. Absorbing. I could keep listing adjectives but I won’t. It’s a great book, and as soon as it becomes available to the public, grab it. It is ready to be pre-ordered, in limited/signed hardcover edition here, Necessary Evil Press.

Here is the book trailer for Newman’s Animosity.

Dig on it!

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