Shadows, Witches, and the value of patience.

Hi.
I don’t post here much, because I can’t report any news when there is none to report.

That’s about to change.

As always, bear with me.
I’m making a point.

If you keep up with the publishing industry or writers in general, you’ve heard about the dissolution of Booktrope, the hybrid publishing company that a lot of indie writers thought was going to change our world. Hell, I sent them my novel. Why not? I was going to get my own editor, my own creative team and we were going to work together as a cohesive unit to get the book out there and make it a hit. Well, at least a cult favorite.

They never read it, as far as I know, and the waiting for an acceptance or rejection letter became unbearable. I know now that letter will never come. How anti-climactic. And people were mad at the ending of the film version of “No Country for Old Men.”

As it turns out, I got off easy. Some of my friends were suddenly left without a publisher, groundless, wondering what the hell to do next. I feel for them, but we’re indie writers. We’re a hard breed to kill. And when we want to unleash a story on the world, we find a way. We always find a way.

That’s the backstory.
Here’s the action.

I am lucky enough to have been picked up a new publishing collective called Shadow Work. This is a tremendous step for me, and I am grateful for the support I’ve already received from them. It may never be a huge company, but it’s a good company, populated with people who are open to ideas and love a good story as much as anyone.

Then again, it may be a huge company someday. What do I know? I’m just a writer.

So what does this mean for me and, more importantly, what does it mean to you, the Keepers, my readers?

Two things.

On Monday, May 16th, I’ll be pulling my biggest seller, “Black Friday,” off of Amazon/Kindle for a while. Shadow Work is going to repackage it, give it a shiny new cover, and reissue it as a special edition with at least one new story included to sweeten the deal. This is necessary, not only to reach a wider audience, but because of Thing Two.

Shadow Work will also be publishing the first full-length Elders Keep novel, “Hunting Witches.” We’re shooting for a late June release. This book has been finished for months and gone through many iterations. I’ve been holding onto it for so long, I feel like a pregnant woman gone far past her due date.

Time to induce.

It’s going to be a busy summer for me. I have three new stories I can’t wait for all of you to read, and some good folks to help me get them into your hot little hands. It should be a busy year for you as readers, also. Shadow Work is going to be bringing you the kinds of stories you crave: dark, twisted, with the kind of weird humor you enjoy.

Get ready, Keepers.
You’re about to revisit the small mountain town of Elders Keep in a major way.

Thanks for your patience. It’s about to be well rewarded.

X

Advertisements
Shadows, Witches, and the value of patience.

What Happened Was This.

I know you guys have been waiting for Hunting Witches. I’ve been looking forward to having y’all read it. I like it. I think it’s funny and disturbing. But, see, what happened was this.

I got promoted to managing editor of Popshifter. I love writing for that site, and I have a good working relationship with Less Lee Moore, the owner. It seemed like a natural progression and I was happy to take on that extra responsibility because I love that site is if it were my own.

Then, I started writing for Dirge Magazine. If you’ve not heard of Dirge, they’re a magazine all about dark culture. Necrophiliacs and fashion, home furnishings and home surgery, all kinds of that weird fringe stuff I gravitate towards. I had been there two months when I got promoted to contributing editor there!

Lucky me, lucky mud. Lucky to be doing things I love with people I enjoy.

Somewhere in the middle of that, Cootie moved from her job at the front desk to a project manager position. She’s developing websites now, working with customers to help make their digital dreams a reality.

Our workload just increased tenfold. Conversely, our energy level has diminished tenfold. At night, instead of diving into a load of formatting and editing, we really just want to hold hands, drink and watch bad television.

So what happened was this.

I submitted Hunting Witches to a publisher. I’ve never done that before, and it was a little scary. I have no idea if they will accept the book. I won’t know until sometime around May.

It’s a delay. And I apologize for that. But it could also be the best thing that could happen. Consider better exposure for the book. A nicer edition for you to read. A manuscript edited by a real book editor, not me, drunk at two in the morning. If they accept the book, I think we will all be happier with the finished product.

If they don’t? Well, I’ll submit it somewhere else. It’s time for this move. As the Good Doktor once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

And I am, after all, a professional.

Although I’m not quite sure when that happened.

What Happened Was This.

Just another family get-together.

In the movie, Judge Dredd, bad guy Armand Assante asks his prison warden, “What is the meaning of Life?” The warden has no answer. Assante says, quite decisively, “It ends.” Then Assante shoots the poor bastard in the throat. Quite an object lesson, eh?

Today is Samhain Proper.

It’s a different day from Halloween and, despite what you may have learned from Glenn Danzig or Donald Pleasance in Halloween II, it is pronounced sow-wenn, not sam-hayne.

Samhain is the day when we remember our ancestors. As summer fades and autumn takes it place, the veil between the worlds, the places where we walk and the dead walk, gets thin. Those who have passed on take this time to check in on the ones they left behind. We, in turn, honor and under the right circumstances, can talk with them.

You don’t have to believe it.
Sometimes, I wonder if I do.

PBRNonetheless, we are prepared for it tonight. Pictures of those who have beaten us to the punch, so to speak, litter two altars in our living room. We have set out their favorite foods. Peanut butter crackers. Vienna sausages. Popcorn. A PBR tall-boy for Cootie’s grandfather. I figure he can share it with mine. We’ve got fresh coffee, and even a little moonshine.

Ghosts can’t eat, you say.
It doesn’t matter.
These are things we remember about them, all part of the gigantic concept we refer to as “home.”

If you were dead, wouldn’t you want to go home, even if just for the night? As far as we’re concerned, this is another family get-together. We just can’t see everybody.

I wonder sometimes if my ancestors are disappointed in me. People put so much hope into babies, children. They invest their dreams and ideals into them, like emotional punchcards. It can’t be helped. I did it, too.

Humans.
We do weird shit.

I didn’t turn out the way they planned, I’m sure. I made a lot of odd decisions and brutal choices. Everyone does, I suppose. Look back at the road you’ve walked up to this point. Look at your history. Trace it back. Is that path completely straight?

I didn’t think so.

Neither is mine.

Well, the fact is at some point, everyone’s crooked, curvy path ends. How does that song go? Oh, yeah.

We all end up in a tiny pine box.
A mighty small drop in a mighty dark plot.

And when the Earth turns and the stars align and all that great gobbledygook, and Cootie and I get to wander back on this plane from the excellent 1970’s dive bar we intend to spend eternity at, do us a favor.

Set us out something to drink. I’ll take some vodka and Dr. Pepper. Cootie might appreciate some brandy. None of that cheap shit, either. Play a movie for us. Three Amigos! would be good. We wouldn’t be upset at Suspiria, if the other isn’t available. Tortilla chips. A little queso blanco. We don’t ask for much. We’ll just come in and hang for a while.

Like I expect our grandparents and various aunts and uncles and cousins and nephews and nieces are doing at our place, right now. They’re just hanging out at the altar, checking out the spread and talking to each other, maybe taking a look around the apartment. True Grit is on the TV for Cootie’s Papaw. There’s fresh coffee.

If anyone wants anything different, I expect they’ll tell us.

Just another family get-together.

Hulu Brings the Horror

hulu-logo

I don’t know what lit a fire under Hulu’s ass, but they have been absolutely on point with their horror selection lately. As a guy who has built part of a career on watching horror, good and bad, I need a steady stream of the stuff like a junkie needs the spike. Sure, there’s some decent stuff on Netflix, but right now, Hulu is absolutely kicking their ass. My friend, Thomas S Flowers III, a damned good writer himself, posted a list of his favorite current Hulu horrors and encouraged me to create my own list.

You got it, Tommy.
And so, Dear Acolytes, do you.

burntBurnt Offerings (1976) — A haunted house thriller so Seventies, it may as well have a soundtrack by Sonny and Cher (it doesn’t). But what it does offer is a knockout cast, including Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Dub Taylor, Burgess Meredith and Bette Davis (her eyes, too). Ollie and Karen find a deal that’s too good to be true on a rental house, and soon find that terror has passed the savings on to them. Directed by Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows), this sure feels like a TV movie, but it goes off the rails in no time, resulting in a most satisfying ending.

Unrest (2007) — One of the Movies to Die For series, this one combines an Aztec curse and gross anatomy. This is like C.S.I. on peyote, including a horrible device called a “cadaver tank,” in which bodies at a medical school wait to be autopsied by first year medical students. If the legend is true, that thing is real, and all the bodies in the movie are, too. It’s creepy and solid, and well worth your attention.

Theater of Blood (1973) — Vincent Price is amazing as a Shakespearean actor who finally loses his grip on reality, and starts murdering his critics in the most delightful and grotesque of ways. This is one for the groundlings, and features Price in one of the best roles of his later career. It’s a little slow, in the way all British films of that time are, more like showing a stiff upper lip, but sit tight. It gets good. Really good.

Reincarnation (2006) — One of the scariest J-horror (are we still using that term?) movies ever made, this one involves a hotel where a bunch of murders took place. Thirty-five years later, a film crew enters the hotel to make a movie about the killings. This one’s got layers of strangeness, and a couple of mysteries that need to be unraveled. Once everything starts to come to light, though, the sense of dread is palpable. The last thirty minutes are an endurance test for your nerves.

demoniDemons (1984) — This Italian classic doesn’t make a lick of sense, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most grueling horror movies out there. Released from… somewhere… by a cursed movie and a shiny silver mask, demons begin to possess the audience of a film at a theater. Blood, gore, green ooze, all kinds of nastiness assaults your face, and while there is some unintentional humor, the movie is fast-paced enough to hold your interest. That’s an understatement. Demons is friggin’ awesome, and you should watch it multiple times.

Pieces (1982) — This South American gem features everything you could want from an Eighties slasher flick. The killings are sexually motivated, the acting is horrific, the continuity isn’t there, and a girl gets mutilated in an elevator by somebody with a chainsaw. It’s a bloodbath, and it’s a lot of fun. Have fun deciphering the ending. Highly recommended for those who don’t need their movies to be good to have a good time.

You can also check out Mulberry St. and it’s hordes of rat zombies, get cooking tips from Motel Hell and get the double whammy of a villainous Martin Sheen and Jodie Foster’s sister’s naked ass in the slow-burning and surreal The Little Girl who Lives down the Lane.

That ought to keep you busy for a little while, don’t you think? From shoegaze hipster horror to mindless slashers and classics from the Thirties to modern-day masterpieces, Hulu has got it all right now. It’s a Hulu Halloween!

[No, I don’t work for Hulu, and they didn’t pay me for this blog post. But if they want to work something out with me, I’m totally for it. Free-lancing is a rough business. I’ll take what I can get.] 

Hulu Brings the Horror

I am terrible at blogging.

And for that, I apologize.

But I’m really good at other stuff, so let me tell you about them! Because that’s apparently what you do on a blog. Blah, blah, blah. Look at me. Hang me on the fridge with a bottle opener magnet.

I tricked myself into writing a novel. I did it by telling myself I wasn’t writing a novel, but was actually writing a “non-vel.” By the time I was finished, I had fifty-five thousand words, a gigantic manuscript to edit and a sequel to write to the novel or else anyone who read the novel was going to be incredibly pissed off at me. I guess I should tell you that the novel is directly related to at least two stories in “Black Friday” and one story in “Short Stories about You.” I’ve created a giant web, you see, and eventually, all the strands will be touched twice.

In other words, if you plan on buying the novel, you’re going to want to read the short story collections first. It will help.

As you know, I’ve been writing for Popshifter for more than two years, and now I’m co-hosting and producing the Official Popshifter Podcast. I host it with site creator and managing editor Less Lee Moore. It’s a monthly show, and it’s going swimmingly. I think we found our groove pretty quickly, and it’s a lot of fun to do. You should listen. You know. If you want to.

I’ve also picked up a new writing gig over at One Perfect Shot. I’ll be honest: I was nervous as hell accepting that gig. The people at that site know a hell of a lot more about film than I do. They use big words like “dolly” and “anamorphic widescreen” and “Fellini.” But I’ve written some good stuff for them, a couple reviews and some intros to interesting videos. You’re welcome to read all that stuff, too. Leave some nice comments. Or some bad ones. I wouldn’t ask you to lie for me.

Cootie and I have taken a slight break from “Kiss the Goat” in order to do some revamping and restructuring. We’re going to try some new things, knock down a couple of walls, put in a portico and a witch’s tower and come roaring back sometime in November.

We’ll do a few things in October, some small things, but October is a gigantic month for us. Cootie and I were married on Halloween six years ago, and being the people we are, we tend to celebrate for the entire month. My son turns eighteen this October, also, and I don’t even know how to react to that except to say, holy fuck, I’m incredibly old, I only want to watch television from the 1970”s when I understood things and everything made sense. Bring me some cinnamon applesauce in a feeding tube and inject it directly into my anus.

Hey, do you work for a publishing house? A small press? Would you like to publish my first novel? Great! Shoot me an email at jefferyxmartin@gmail.com and we’ll talk.

I’ll try to get better at this blogging thing. No promises. But I’ll give it a shot.

Thanks for everything!

X

I am terrible at blogging.

Dude, fuck a novel.

I’ve been working on a novel since the middle of last year, and I’ve got to tell all of you something.

It sucks.

I hate writing a novel.
I hate the format. I hate the length.  I hate the amount of bullshit exposition I feel I have to shove in there to get it to “novel” length.
It grates.
It takes everything that made me want to write to begin with, eats it and makes it shit on itself.

I would rather take an indeterminate amount of short stories and string them together as a series than try to write The Great American Novel. I can’t believe this form still has fans.
Short stories are the punk rock ethos, exemplified.
Novels are your great grandfather trying to eat walnuts.

The tales that live in Elders Keep are long and convoluted,  crazy as balls, and require some attention. Everything ties together.
The Keep is a flat circle, Ell Oh Ell.
But I think in fragments. I write in shards. And if you’re going to get any stories out of me, you need to play by my rules.
You’re going to have board my train of thought.
You’re going to have to dance on the edge with me.

Do you dare?
I bet you do.

Strap yourselves in.
You are on the giant spinning circus wheel and I am the knife thrower.
You’re about to get assaulted by blades, fragments of stories, all eventually making a larger one. My stories are a jigsaw that draws blood.

Let me cut you.

If you want fiction, you’ve got it. But on my terms.
Not yours.

Soon, I’ll be serializing the first Elders Keep “novel.” I’ll be making into something I love instead of something I feel obligated to write.
I think the story will be the better for it.
And since I no longer feel like I have to write “a big goddamn novel” to get my point across, you might get more stories, faster.

Your first edition is coming soon. I have two new characters for you to meet. I have some old characters for you to remember and enjoy.
And I have terrible, awful things in mind for all of them.

Are you interested? Are you in?
Then, dude, fuck a novel.
Feast on the broken glass of imagination with me.
And we’ll get through this together, from the witch hunts to the awful truth about Parham’s Field.

All I ask is that you trust, and throw down ninety-nine cents once in a while.
I know where we’re going.
Take my hand, and come dancing on the edges with me.
This is my darkness, and I know my way around.
Just take a deep breath… and follow.

Dude, fuck a novel.

Peanut butter mattresses.

You ever try to make a peanut butter sandwich when there’s just the smallest amount of the stuff left in the container? Maybe that tiny bit you can dig out from around the lip of the jar? And you try to cover a whole piece of bread with that tiny amount of stuff. You do it because you’re hungry. You do it because it’s all you have left.

So, you spread it.
You spread it thin.

Peanut-Butter

Hi. My name is X, and I am peanut butter.

If you frequent the right part of the Internet – you know, first ad to the right, straight on till mourning – I am inescapable. Articles, podcasts, chat rooms, name it. I’m there. On the average, I make between six and eight podcast appearances per month. That’s a lot! Preparing for those podcasts means that I watch between three and four movies for just about every show. That takes time. It’s not always time I have to spare, but I make it.

There are other things I want to do, things I have an overwhelming desire to do.
Those things take time, and they require that I do two things I am not good at.

The first thing is “letting go.”

As of June 30th, I will stepping down as co-host of the Cinema Beef Podcast, and I will be stepping away from the panel on the Not So Evil Episodes Podcast. I am also putting the Six and a Half Feet Under Podcast on indefinite hiatus. The hosts of those shows, Gary Hill and Mike Maryman respectively, have been utterly gracious to me during my runs with them and I have nothing but good things to say about them and thanks for them. I also don’t expect them to wait for me to come back. I fully expect to be replaced on both shows, and wish nothing but continued success for everyone involved with them.

The second thing is “saying no.”

I love to talk with people about horror, so much so that it’s difficult for me to turn down a guest spot. It’s not an insatiable ego. It’s not the desire to hear my own voice. It’s because it’s fun. But the time has come where I’m going to have to refrain from that. I will fulfill any booking I’ve already made, or any promise I’ve already made to a host (I’ve still got a lot Fulci to discuss with Duncan McLeish), but I’m going to reject other offers.

I have a book to finish.
I have ideas for stories that pound on my brain daily, demanding to be told.
I’m keeping Kiss the Goat going, and I have two new podcast projects I will be involved with that I’m quite excited about.
And I have a family, kids that aren’t really kids anymore, growing up and getting ready to move on with their own lives. And when that time comes, I’ll have a cool wife to hang out with. Empty nests and new phases. Those sorts of things.

There’s a phrase they use in The Godfather that I have always loved. When the Corleone family starts a mob war, they go into hiding. They call it, “going to the mattresses.” It is a time of hunkering down. They’re still around, of course. Their presence is still felt. They’re still working, planning, doing what they do. They just aren’t as public about it.

I’m going to the mattresses. I’m estimating this will be until December. It may be longer.

Like the Corleone family, I’ll still be around. I’ll be finishing this book for you. We’ll still be mocking everything that’s holy (and unholy) on Kiss the Goat. I’ll be producing a new podcast for the pop culture website, Popshifter. And I have a Sekret Projekt I’m working on, a podcast, that will probably launch around August. If that sounds like a lot, believe me. It’s nothing compared to what I was doing before. I think about that schedule, and it feels like a vacation.

I’ll be around, though. We’ll talk before December, I’m sure. Don’t you worry about me.
I’m working just as hard to entertain you.

I’ll just be doing it more quietly.

 

Credit for the peanut butter jar picture goes to the Kiss My Broccoli blog.

Peanut butter mattresses.