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Fresh Dirt Archives: April-June 2005

Sept. 30, 2005
And, lo, He shall driveth a big-ass truck...
This truck shows up at our newspaper office about once a month. So far, few of us have achieved deliverance, as far as can be determined through mere visual inspection. I often imagine the trailer is stacked with corpses, on their way to meet the Big Guy Hisself.

Sept. 28, 2005
Interview by John Kenneth Muir up at his blog. I provided guest commentary for 15 or 20 movies for his forthcoming book "Horror Movies of the '80s." There were a few classics during the decade, like The Shining, Dead Ringers, Poltergeist, and The Thing, plus the usual horrors like CHUD, Gremlins, and Boggy Creek II. John's written a lot of great media books and I don't know how he finds the time to see all those movies and television shows. I guess it goes with the job.

Sept. 21, 2005
Just got official acceptance for The Farm, due out from Pinnacle Books in July, 2006. This is good. It means I get paid. I have been scraping by on credit card debt for months. My editor even liked the goat scenes, which I feared might be a little over the top. Oh, well, yet another novel slips by without a second reader. Err, I mean, of course everything's great, because I know exactly what I'm doing. The manuscript came in at 650 pages or so.

Here's a picture of author R.H. Stavis and me at DragonCon a few weeks a go, just after the "Southern Horror" panel. I think the lesson here is that a grizzled, homely recluse shouldn't be photographed next to a bright, attractive go-getter. R.H. is author of Daniel's Veil, a paranormal romance, and also writes for the gaming and movie industries.

My NPR interview on WNCW aired this morning without my knowledge. We'd taped it two or three weeks ago, so I'm sure I'm a lot smarter and funnier now.

Sept. 18, 2005
The SEBA convention was a lot of fun. I hope to get back there every year or two. It was my first-ever trade show. There were some big-name authors floating around, like Micahel Connelly, Robert Jordan, Lisa Jackson, and the like. I didn't meet any of them except Margaret Maron, whom I already knew. I sat at the SEMWA table for the first hour of the show on Saturday, giving away books to bookstore owners and other industry professionals. We had a steady line of business and I probably gave away 100 books that my editor had mailed me. Members of the Sisters in Crime shared the table with us, and MWA members traded off every hour. I also sat at the Kensington Books table for a while, and got to meet my publisher's regional seller and a publicist. I learned a good bit about the book business and I probably could have stayed longer and mixed it up, but I had the usual business elsewhere.

Sold a story to the Book of Dark Wisdom, a nice-looking and respectable magazine. Should be out in March. I spent Thursday night signing a bunch of sheets for the Corpse Blossoms anthology. Hundreds. Editors R.J. and Julia Sevin were displaced by Katrina but vow to get the anthology out on time. Looks like it will be a good one.

Sept. 11, 2005
A busy week for writer type stuff. Gave a presentation to High Country Writers on Thursday, was interviewed on WHKY FirstTalk Friday, and signed in Blowing Rock NC yesterday. Today I'm catching up on paperwork and pushing the novella along. My interview on Grave Thoughts Radio will be posted this week so listen to it as an MP3. Greg Kurczynski interviewed me at DragonCon for the show. Coming up Saturday is the Southeastern Booksellers Association convention, where I'll basically be giving away signed books to bookstore owners. It will be my first trade show, so I'm looking forward to meeting people on the front lines of the industry.

I'm whooping up a batch of hot salsa for the NFL party. All stuff fresh from my garden, with the exception of cilantro and maybe a little bit of onions. A thoughtful review of The Manor is posted at the Internet Review of Science Fiction. You have to sign up for free to read it but I think it's worth it.

I finally got the new Clem Snide CD, End of Love. It's awesome. I've listened to it about 10 times so far.

Sept. 7, 2005
Just got back from DragonCon in Atlanta. I thought it would be a "Mad Max" adventure, with gas prices reported to be around $6 due to Katrina pipeline disruptions. Actually, there was little traffic the entire trip, with the exception of weekday downtown traffic. A great convention, all in all. Got to catch up with Garrett Peck, R.H. Stavis, Greg Kurczinsky (who interviewed me for Grave Thoughts radio), Stephen Euin Cobb, Alethea Kontis, Fred Grimm, Steve Savile, and others. Met some people I'd known online, and I won't be able to remember everybody but they include Shockliners Bill (AlienMotives), Cat (Tracy), Chesya Burke, and authors Sherrilynn Kenyon, L.A. Banks, Cherie Priest, Gary Raisor, and Phil Brucato. I didn't get to do much celebrity watching, but I did see Lou Ferrigno (Hulk) and Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) in the guest suite and rode an elevator with fantasy author Robert Jordan.

I was on three panels that went well and had great attendance. The strangest was the "Southern Horror" panel. Only two of the authors were native Southerners. Most were from Florida at one time or another. Florida is not the South. Neither is Texas. I made the point that there is no single South, there are many, from New Orleans (when it existed, it was actually more European than Southern) to Alabama to the Coastal Plain to the Southern Appalachians. The panel couldn't really come up with Southern horror writers, though Anne Rice and Manly Wade Wellman were mentioned. I think I'm one, though the mountains are more influential to me than the South and its abiding inferiority complex. The most absurd stretches were that Poe was a Southern writer (because he once lived in Baltimore!--that's not the South!) and someone even offered Laurell K. Hamilton, who lives in St. Louis. I guess the South needs to try harder and quit hiding its dark secrets.

Aug. 30, 2005
Couple of new reviews here and here. I have noticed that several reviewers of The Home have taken exception to my over-the-top religious zealot, and this has been the case in several earlier books. Yet no one ever points out that I often have religious people who are wholesome and sincere (Nettie and Bill in The Harvest, Starlene in The Home). I suppose the "bad" religious character is always a stereotype while the "good" one is beneath notice, though to me, the motives of the purehearted are always more amazing and interesting. Not that I have problems with any review--I am always grateful someone has taken the time to express an opinion.

Horror is now a three-time loser to mystery. The Mystery Writers of America had already coopted October for its "Kids Love a Mystery" program that reaches into public libraries. First Lady Laura Bush served as inaugural chair, and an established mystery writer followed. This year, it's none other than R.L. Stine of Goosebumps fame. So not only has the Horror Writers of America lost Edgar Alan Poe to mystery (the MWA awards are named after him), and the month of October as a time of national public presence, but now they've claimed the writer who was once credited with launching what would be the horror readership of the 21st century. I can't count how many times in the last decade I heard that horror would surge because all those Goosebumps readers would eventually be pulling adult horror novels off the shelf. Oops. Guess all those would-be horror readers are now reading mysteries.

Aug. 26, 2005
Recieved disturbing email today from a reader who felt I was anti-Semitic in "The Home." I have a minor Jewish character who is a bit self-deprecating and critical toward Jews. That was his fictional neurosis. I talked this character over in depth with a Jewish friend of mine, the late d.g.k. (Kelly) goldberg, to whom my novel is dedicated. She felt a Jew who was paranoid of other Jews would be the perfect candidate for a group home for troubled children, since she believed extended family members would take in an orphaned Jewsih child before allowing him to enter "the system." I don't know too much about the Jewish faith, other than my amazement that apparently it bothers people of other religions. I have a deep respect for all faiths, though I don't adhere to any of them. I believe we are born to believe in something; the people who describe themselves as athiests are the ones I wonder about. This is not an easy life, and any help we get, from any source, should be embraced and cherished.

Aug. 22, 2005
Arrived home late all excited about writing only to find the signature sheets for Poe's Lighthouse on my front porch. I believe I have to sign 1,300 sheets in all. At least I'm first on my page, alphabetically, so I get to work with nice, clean paper. I suppose there's no other approach than to plow into them and hope I don't spill coffee or gravy on them.

I also have a gig writing an article on promotion for the second edition of the Horror Writers Association handbook "Writing Horror," to be released by Writers Digest Books and edited by Mort Castle.

Aug. 21, 2005
I've mailed off the outline for the next novel, and I'm continuing my research. I talked over a couple of the FBI characters with Al Brantley, a former FBI behavioral scientist. He volunteered to read over anything I write to check for veracity. It's great having that type of resource. This book will be a little more action-driven than my other books, and, dare I say, "it would make a good movie." I'm about ready to actually write the thing. Also finishing up one of my children's books, trying to not go for the obvious rhymes. I've learned that children are bored more easily that adults are.

Reading some Lovecraft in anticipation of serving on a panel at DragonCon. My schedule includes about four panels, so I should have plenty of time to catch up on all the other sights and sounds. I've also put my name in for Frightfest in Fuquay-Varina, NC, on Oct. 29, and I'll probably be doing a handful of other signings around it.

Aug. 17, 2005
It's amazing how much we take technology for granted. I had a radio interview scheduled for Thursday morning, and the interviewer Mark Justice had emailed me the number to call. The server connection at my newspaper office was down Wednesday. My phone line was messed up at home so I couldn't access the Internet there, either. I went home the day before, sure that the Internet would be functioning at work the next morning. Alas, no. The interview was live at 9:30 a.m., which meant, as Mark said, "no do-overs." At 9 a.m., convinced I wouldn't have Internet access at work in time, I drove to a friend's house, called and got her log-in information, and dialed in to the local university's modem, which has been slowly disintegrating for years. 9:16 a.m., and I have been cut off three times. On the fourth try, the connection takes, and then I can't remember which of my email accounts Mark sent the information to. Oh, yeah, the Powweb webmail account, which has been funky for two months and which Powweb has not even recognized as a problem, much less tried to fix. I log in at 9:22 a.m., and on the second try, bring up Mark's email and get the 1-800 number of the station by 9:23 a.m. Cool. Seven minutes to get a glass of water. I dial at the appropriate time, the person answering the phone says, "Let me connect you...," and the line goes dead.

Strange, but several places I went that day had technology problems. Waldenbooks' computer system was down. We had a three-county power outage for 32 minutes. Powweb continued to suck raw eggs. I have another radio interview Sunday, and this time I'm writing the numbers down on actual paper and carrying them in my wallet. What's funny is the mayor was in the newspaper office seeking items to place in a time capsule. She asked which technologies would still be viable in 50 years, and the only one I could think of was "Paper."

Aug. 12, 2005
Finished a revision request for the next Borderlands anthology. I like the changes, and the suggestions were great, whether or not the Moneteleones end up taking the story. The previous version didn't take that final left turn that makes for a memorable tale. Finishing up the final page of the outline for the 2007 Nicholson book. I'm also revising and expanding a novelette into a novella for a limited edition book (I don't know the technical description of novelettes and novellas, except I'm aiming for 25-30,000 words.)

Had a great interview Thursday with Mark Justice for a small AM station in Kentucky. He'll be adding to the interview and submitting it to Hellnotes. I'll be featured in the Asheville Citizen-Times Sunday, and tomorrow I'm going to sign with Dale Bailey at a Barnes & Noble in Charlotte. The Home seems to be doing well, and thanks to everyone who's helping me out with it.

The Red Church is currently out of print. I don't know if there are plans to go back for a third print yet, but I'm optimistic. If not, look for it to eventually come out in another type of edition.

Aug. 5, 2005
Sold short story "Work in Progress" to either Crimewave or Black Static, depending on the needs or whims of TTA Press editor Andy Cox. It's the fourth story I've sold him, and Andy is the first editor with whom I've established an ongoing relationship (mostly because I figured out what types of stories he likes). I think Black Static will begin to get more recognition here in the U.S. with the new name. It's always had quality work, and not always by the "usual suspects," either, which to me is a sign that Andy has a discerning eye. And I'm not just saying that because he likes my work.

Also have a rewrite request for another story. I'll be spending the weekend on that, along with more researching and outlining. I'm currently reading Born Burning by Thomas Sullivan, a talented wirter who has a Pulitzer to his credit. I have no idea why he's now writing horror, but his Second Soul just came out at the same time as The Home.

Aug. 3, 2005
I took my turn blogging at Storytellers Unplugged today, and also updated my Livejournal. And this one, too! I'm on a computer all the time but rarely have time to do anything with it. If only these things were smart enough to just do the work themselves.

Tomorrow is the official launch of The Home at my local independent bookstore. They have done pretty well with my books in the past, though my signings usually don't get a huge crowd. I believe people figure they can see me anytime so it's not a big deal to come out and meet me. On Saturday, I'm going to a big book fair, one of those meat market events that always seem to have too many authors. I still need to set up three or four more signings, but I think I'll be a little more sedate this fall and try to do more promotion online.

My editor likes the idea for my next book, due out in 2007 (title withheld due to my habit of never releasing titles because they tend to change). Right now, it's a vampire book, but don't expect your typical sun-fearing, clove-cigarette-smoking, bisexual vamps in leather. I'll be working on a formal outline in the next week or so, while also finishing up a few other projects that I've let slide for far too long.

July 28, 2005
I fixed the link to my Livejournal, so drop on in and let's "dialogue." It will be updated a little more frequently than this journal and I look forward to interacting with you. The two journals will be mostly exclusive--that is, each will have different content, so if you want the full range of Nicholsonisms then you'll want to bookmark both. The banner contest will remain open, so if you have a website, please consider posting my banner for The Home. I'm also willing to trade the use of articles or fiction reprints in exchange for posting my banner at webzines.

Cemetery Dance is taking preorders for Poe's Lighthouse, a limited edition anthology in which two dozens authors collaborated with Poe to complete an unfinished piece of fiction he left behind. It looks to be a good one. My contribution is "Last Writes," a ghost story. Should be a nice collector's item.

Currently working on outline ideas for the next novel. I'm leaning toward trying a vampire novel for a number of reasons. I don't know if I'll hate myself later. All those things that supposedly make you hate yourself later have never bothered me. I think I have an interesting myth that keep me out of Anne Rice-Goth-romance territory.

I've posted a new article "The Future of Horror and the Next 'Steven' King." The second installment of my article "Respect Yourself, Respect Your Stories" came out today in Hellnotes.

July 21, 2005
I've launched a livejournal called Deadwired. It will be my social commentary, free-for-all blog while this journal will focus more on my writing-related news. Hope you'll join in on the conversation, because I'm looking forward to a more interactive online experience. Been busy mailing out review copies of The Home and mailing proofs to bookstores. One more week of hard work should do it, then I'll be able to write again. I started the outline for the new book, though it still has a lot of question marks.

July 18, 2005
A busy author copies of The Home arrived, along with the usual mixed feelings--joy at having the book finally out, followed by the panic of having to sell thousands of copies. Luckily, a lot have you have been helping me out and I appreciate that. It seems things are building a bit.

I got my first Publisher's Weekly review. Though it wasn't glowing, it was fair. And the important thing is to be reviewed, not necessarily to earn high praise, though of course that never hurts, either. I hear I have a similarly mixed review in Fangoria Magazine. Considering they hatcheted The Harvest, I'll take it as a sign that I'm improving a little.

TrinocCon was a lot of fun, especially meeting the inimitable Joe R. Lansdale, who is an inpiration for any writer. He hustles but is humble, and though he's now publishing six-figure mysteries, he still is active in the small press and collectibles market. I sat on a panel with him regarding the state of the art of horror, and we agreed that the main shortcoming of modern horror is that its new writers don't have a deep background in a variety of types of literature. As Joe said, "I read Ernest Hemingway one day and Edgar Rice Burroughs the next. I didn't know there was a difference."

I also got to meet Mark Seiber and Alethea Kontis from Shocklines, as well as see friends Stephen Mark Rainey and Cindy Hutchins. I also got to hang out with Al and Betsy Carson, who fed me great Southern food.

I'll be giving away a signed copy of Lansdale's collection Bumper Crop as part of my banner contest, so slap the banner up there and get a chance to win it.

July 15, 2005
I have a new banner for "The Home." I'm holding a contest in which I give prizes to those who place the banner on their site. Prizes include signed books, DVDs, signed cover proofs, and whatever else I can find in my archives. You can copy and paste it from here, or email me and I'll send you a copy, which can be linked to or the main site.

As a reporter, I am taught to strive for accuracy and balance. However, I feel journalists ultimately serve the public and can't help being part of the community or audience they serve, and to appreciate the fact. As an example, a fellow reporter wrote a school board story in which the superintendent thanked a retiring principal for "33 years of servicing the children." Well, unless she was praising him for child molestation, she probably meant "serving" the children. I would have quoted her as saying "serving." I mentioned it to the reporter, who said, "I have it on tape." Well, to me, that doesn't make it right just because it's accurate. I'm sure others feel differently, but I would give the superintendent the benefit of a doubt. Perhaps she made an honest slip of the tongue rather than misusing a word; after long careers in education, it's a wonder any of them can speak at all. So now our high school principal is in print as a questionable character (incidentally, the principal was quoted as "quoting" the Grateful Dead line to erroneously say "What a long, strange road it's been") and the superintendent comes off as needing remedial English.

Heading down to Durham tomorrow for TrinocCon in Durham, NC. Guests include Joe Lansdale, Jack McDevitt, Stephen Mark Rainey, Charles Keegan, and others. The latest Scottnews newsletter will be going out probably Monday, with more details for the banner contest. Help spread The Home across the Internet like an STD in a Southern trailer park.

July 8, 2005
Finishing up the third in my set of children's books, hope to go out with them soon. Issue #2 orf Kopfhalter Magazine, with me as featured interview author, is available for order or in bookstores. The photo of Brian Keene, Dale Bailey, and me is posted in the "In Action" section.

July 3, 2005
The final draft of The Farm is sealed and soon to be delivered for 2006 release. I've made my first entry at Storytellers Unplugged, a communal blog for dark fiction writers. Tomorrow I will be in the local parade as a 1930's-era reporter, complete with vest and bow tie. America. What a great country.

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-- copyright 2005 by Scott Nicholson


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