Fun Stuff I’ve Been Doing So Far This Year

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”-Winston Churchill

Okay, I know I haven’t been keeping up with posting the blog on a regular basis. Again. I am bad. I am incorrigible. I am a procrastinator by trade. For those of you who have stuck with following this blog even through its intermittent ramblings, I thank you. There is a lot to catch up on so this will be a lengthy discourse of what’s been going on in my life over the past few months.

At the end of last year I started attending The Seadog Slam’s bimonthly shows that took place at the Half Price Books Flagship Store in Dallas. Every first Wednesday there was a Steampunk show with songs performed , poetry read,and neat garb and gadgets displayed, as well as presentation son Steampunk culture and literature. I wrote a couple of Steampunk poems that I read, presented a brief biography of Jules Verne, and also read a review I wrote of Jessica McHugh’s book,  The Sky, the World. Every Third Wednesday of the month there was a pirate themed show performed by the crew members of The Seadog Slam, with an open mic session for the last half of the show. Performers dressed in their pirate garb for full effect and I broke out my pirate costume that I had put together a few years ago to wear to parties, pirate festivals and Renaissance faires. I had been writing a few pirate poems which I read at these sessions which were apparently well received, as I was asked earlier this year to join the Seadog Slam as as auxiliary crew member. This meant I would be on call to help them complete a roster of performers for various events in North Texas especially when regular members cannot attend. Words cannot express how happy I was to join this group of pirate poets. Recently they even decided to make me a regular crew member, which means I will have an opportunity to perform at all their shows and on CD’s they record of poetry and songs. I purchased a copy of The Pirate Primer so I can brush up on my piratical lingo. I’ve been wanting to buy this book ever since I checked it out from the Bedford Public Library a few years ago. Now I had a good excuse for acquiring it. Like I needed a reason to buy a book about pirates. Ha ha! The Seadog Slam will be working on a CD of dirty limericks this Summer so I have to get cracking to write some original limericks to read for the recording.

In April The Seadog Slam were the MC’s at an event called Down to the Depths: A Ghost Pirate Masquerade at the Wit’s End club in Dallas’ historic entertainment district, Deep Ellum. It was a show put on by The Shadow Society to raise funds for the Steampunk November 2014 event. Earlier that week I had broken one of my hard contact lenses and had been forced to wear my coke bottle glasses to see. Determined not to look like a dork at the show, I decided that once I got to the club I would put in my one left contact lens and wear my pirate eye patch over the other eye for piratical effect. That was all well and good, except I had not counted on it being so hard to read my poem with one eye. A lack of depth perspective really messes things up. I managed to pull off the reading somewhat, although it was certainly not my best performance to date. Nothing a bit of rum couldn’t make better though. Ah, it’s a pirate’s life for me. Arrgh!

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

All the performers that night were wonderful, from the opening band, Irish  Blind, the burlesque performers, and sword fighting by Cut, Thrust & Run. It was fun being an MC, and  introducing the band Esoterik, whose music and performance I really enjoyed. Allison Eckfeldt’s vocals and dancing were awesome, Brady Bledsoe on Guitar and keyboards was amazing, and Austin Hayes on keyboards was excellent. I got the band to autograph their CD I bought, and they were all very cool nice people to talk to. They are from Oklahoma City which is my birth city and where I still  have a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins living in the area. I will have to catch some more of their shows in the future. I’m hoping they will be back here in Dallas soon, or that I can make it up to OK City.

Going back a little earlier in the year, in February I was a guest author at the ConDFW literary fan convention. This is my third year as a guest and I had a blast as always being on discussion panels, doing readings and book signings. I get to meet up with a lot of fellow authors who are friends at these events and generally have a great time. There are too many people to mention everyone here and I will inevitably forget someone, since my memory is like  sieve. So my apologies if I don’t name you, but I have to at least run down a short list of people I got to hang out with and or be on panels with: Dean Andersson, Ethan Nahte, Selina Rosen, William Ledbetter, Bev Hale, Michelle Muenzler, Nina Romberg, Lou Antonelli, Melanie Fletcher, Mel White, Angeline Hawkes, Christopher Fulbright, Amie Spengler, Rachael Acks. Special thanks to friends and fellow writers Alaura Sandler and Jenn Monty who took photos of me on several panels.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

Promoting the anthologies I am published in and talking about writing and fiction fandom is always a pleasure. The after parties are always awesome as well and I get way too little  sleep during these convention weekends. But it is all so worth it. I’m looking forward to next year already. I had someone snap a photo of me at my signing table with all the books In which I have stories published. And I’m proudly wearing both my Irredeemable Order of Hellions, and Fictioneers badges. On my right arm is my Bethodist patch marking me as an adherent of my friend Beth Patterson’s personal spiritual  movement of bouzouki babe worship and musical religiosity. More on Beth later in this post. It’s harder to see in this photo but I’m also wearing my Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror patch showing my support for yet another awesome group of musicians.  Thanks to my daughter Alina for making the armbands and sewing the patches on for me.

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

 

Next up in my busy Spring schedule of fun stuff was the North Texas Irish Festival. I have been going to this event ever since around 1996. It has been going on for over thirty years now, and is the largest Celtic music festival in the South, and one of the largest in the USA. There are so many excellent bands and solo musicians that play this festival. Also it has huge vendor turnout and there are so many great hand crafted items for sale. Money was tight this year so I couldn’t go crazy with the purchases, but I did pick up a CD from one of my favorite bands, Poor Man’s Fortune,  and a really cool pin/brooch with the skull & crossbones on it. I figured it would go well with my pirate garb.

It has been my pleasure to get to know the band members of Poor Man’s Fortune, especially Beth Patterson who I met initially on facebook a couple of years ago through mutual friends. We got to meet in person last year at the Irish Festival and we swapped copies of my anthologies that I have stories in for a bunch of her music CD’s. She had confessed that she was a musician with writer envy, and that she was working on writing a fiction story based on her experiences in the music business.  I told her that I was a writer with musician envy and that I wanted to put a band together. We realized that we both appreciate good music, good books, and irreverent dark humor, so a solid friendship was inevitable. We got  along so well in fact, I decided that she must be my long-lost evil twin sister that I never knew I had.

I introduced her on Facebook to some of my fellow Hellion authors and especially Janet Morris, and also some other editors with publishers that were looking for stories to put in anthologies. She just had a story published in a collection called Rise of the Goddess, and she will have a story in the next Heroes in Hell book, Poets in Hell which also will have my story “Poetic Injustice” in it. So she is now officially a Hellion author after earning her way into our illustrious ranks with what I’m sure will be a very good story that I am looking forward to reading. Earlier this year she also published her first book Mongrels & Misfits, which has an awesome short story and a whole bunch of her song lyrics in it. I got to be one of her beta readers for the story and she thanked me in the acknowledgements page of her book which was cool and very sweet of her to do.

She is an excellent musician and is turning out to be just as good of a writer as well. I like to refer to her as the hardest working musician in the business because it seems like she is always playing gigs, recording albums,  and promoting herself 24/7/365. She performs in and around New Orleans Louisiana when she is not on tour in various other parts of the world, like Japan, and Canada.  She will be performing her music at this year’s LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN where we will both be guest authors as well. Check out her web page here at Bethpattersonmusic.com. She just released an excellent  new solo album Fast Forward which you can purchase on her webpage. She has it available as a digital download and as a USB flash drive that is made into a rubber bracelet so you can wear her  music. Here’s a photo of Beth performing with Poor Man’s Fortune which includes Larry Rone on vocals and wind instruments ,  Richard Kean on pipes, Wolf Loescher on drums and percussion, and Beth Patterson on vocals and bouzouki. They just released a new CD called Bayou Curious that has a blend of Cajun, Scottish, Breton, and French traditional music, and it is a joy to listen to. It is very lively and upbeat. You can buy it on the Poor Man’s Fortune webpage.

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Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Some other great bands I saw at NTIF this year included The Town Pants, from Canada, who closed out their set witha  cover of Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, which was totally unexpected. Also the band  Beyond the Pale who I have seen perform several years at NTIF and other Celtic music festivals like the no longer active Celtic Heritage Festival which was held in my home town of Bedford. There was so much excellent music but these are the ones that stand out in my mind the most.

Okay so on to the next convention and this is a big one that I have been honored with being a guest at for the past three years. All-Con in Dallas. This event encompasses everything to do with fandom whether it is science fiction, fantasy, horror literature, film or television, anime, women’s roller derby, burlesque entertainment, stand up comedy, sword fighting action shows, music, etc. You name it and there is probably a discussion panel or performance to do with it at All-Con. I got to be on some great panels with some awesome authors this year as always. First and foremost I must mention my friend Jenn Monty who helped me come up with topics  for five of the panels that we were on this year.  She also did meticulous research and printed out notes for us to use, including creating a writers’ notebook for compiling story notes and information for our panel on how to organize all the stuff you use when writing a novel. She made several copies which were handed out to the audience. We had a really good turnout for that one. Jenn publishes a blog called Brewed Bohemian where she posts her flash fiction and poetry, along with the latest open submissions for story contests and anthologies. She posts reviews about beer on there too  which is really cool. Jenn is a very talented writer, and I hope we will share credits in an anthology together someday. She recently asked me to be one of the judges in a Steampunk & Dieselpunk flash fiction contest called Dirty Goggles that she was holding along with some other authors. Go check out her blog to read the stories and find out who won. Plus check out all the other cool stuff there too.

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

I shared panels with some other awesome fellow authors and experts like Larry And Tina Amyett of the North Texas Dieselpunks, Steve and Melody Sanders of The Seadog Slam, Ethan Nahte, Mel White, Bart de Boisblanc, and Gloria Oliver. I also got to hang out with my good friend Darwin Prophet who was one of the musical guests this year. I got to see a whole bunch of other friends that I usually only see at cons or other special events. There are probably too many people to list and I will inevitably forget someone so I’ll just leave it at that. You all know who you are.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

On March 19th I put together a author reading event that took place at the Half Price Books Dallas Flagship store. How this came about was that the Seadog Slam crew were not going to be able  to do their usual pirate themed show they presented the third Wednesday of every month. I was asked if I wanted to put on an event by myself. I leapt at the chance and I decided that rather than do a pirate show I wanted to do something different where authors of various genres could read their work to an audience. Thus was born The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue. I gathered together five local Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex authors which included myself, Darwin Prophet, Jenn Monty, Jessica Scott, William Ledbetter. Author C. Dean Andersson was supposed to read too but had to cancel due to having the Flu. We had a small but enthusiastic audience and the event went well. It was the first time that both Jessica and Jenn  had ever read before an audience and they did awesome even though they admitted they were very nervous. They each read some poetry and flash fiction that was excellent. Check out Jessica’s blog, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet where she posts a lot of her poetry and prose, and Jenn’s blog at Brewed Bohemian. William read excerpts from a couple of science fiction short stories that were very gripping and intense. I read part of my Rogues in Hell story, “Ragnarok & Roll” and Darwin read a bunch of her “prosetry” that includes her day to day thoughts and musings, and closed the event beautifully by singing the British anthem “Jerusalem” which was written from a poem by William Blake.  We all had a great time and I was glad to be able to bring some fellow authors together to showcase their talents. I’m hoping to do another one of these sometime in the future.

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Something cool that I got to attend in April was the short film premier of Love is a Grave, by my friend Tim Stevens with Title Pending Productions and Tim Stevens Films. The premier party was called Into the Grave and was held at the dance club The Church in Dallas’ historic Deep Ellum arts and music district by The Shadow Society. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror performed at the premier and Darwin actually co-wrote music for the film with Director/Filmmaker Tim Stevens. Another band that performed that night was Ending the Vicious Cycle fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist, Toby Rider. There was also a dark burlesque show which included Vivienne Vermuth and Cat de Lynn. The film was awesome and the party was a blast. I had a lot of fun dancing and hanging out with friends including Cindy House who I have known since  high school and who I hadn’t seen in a few years, and who is a regular at The Church.

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens'short film Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens’short film Love is a Grave

Also in April I also got to be an extra in one of Tim’s latest projects, a web series called You are Here, that was filmed at The Curtain Club in Deep Ellum in Dallas. That was a lot of fun, but it was hot hard work. I was in several scenes that involved dancing at a Goth vampire night club party. They couldn’t run the Air Conditioning units because of the noise and it was very hot inside the club. It didn’t help that I was wearing leather pants, boots, and my signature long black coat. My friend Darwin Prophet was also there as an extra to help support Tim’s project. I also got to be in a few additional scenes that just involved standing and acting like I was talking to another extra, Shana, who I met at the filming. She was pretty cool and has some interesting life stories. She is about my size, (petite that is) and also takes martial arts so we had that in common to talk about. She is a professional model working in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I met a lot of other great people who were extras and part of the cast and crew. Special thanks to Tim Stevens, John McCullagh, Mary Rochford, Jessica Sheriff, and everyone else involved with the production for making me a part of the action and taking great care of us by providing lots of water to drink and pizza for dinner. The web series is supposed to air sometime in June, so I’ll be sure to post a link to it in my blog when it does. I hope I look halfway decent in the shots.

In May I went to fellow author Seth Skorkowsky’s book signing for his first published novel Damoren. It was held at game store Area 51 Gaming & Collectibles in Grapevine Texas, the town where I grew up. I met Seth at All-Con this year and it turns out that we have a lot of mutual friends in the writing and Steampunk community. I just finished reading his book and it is a thrilling action packed adventure with some very excellent writing and includes some very interesting concepts. It is book one of The Valducan series and I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out next year. I’m looking forward to finally finishing one of my novels so I can do one of these events for a book that is all my own work. I love writing short stories and poems for anthologies, but having my own novel completed and published would be a great feeling.

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Well that is about it for now. The next big event things coming up for me will be attending Robert E Howard Days in Cross Plains Texas  and attending LibertyCon as a guest author, both in June. This will be my first time to go to Howard Days. I have heard a lot of great things about it form fellow authors so I am looking forward to it. It is my fourth year as a guest at LibertyCon, which was the first con to book me as an author in 2011 after I had my first published short story appear in Lawyers in Hell.

I am working on my dark fantasy/sword & sorcery novel that I am aiming at finishing this year. Also the usual short stories and poems as always. I’ll keep everyone posted here whenever I have my next stories and poems published. I have a few things coming out this Summer.

I’ll leave you with a pithy quote as usual. Thanks again for following my blog and I’ll try not to take so long between posts next time.

“Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.”
-Dean Koontz

The Eclectic Muse Literary Review

“Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom but they dare to go it alone.”
-John Updike

Except when they dare to band together in support. Myself and six other writers local to the DFW Metroplex are participating in an event that I put together since the rest of the Seadog Slam crew members couldn’t attend what is usually the monthly pirate poetry and tales of the sea show. This event has no theme, since we will have authors reading from a wide variety of genres of poetry and prose. So I decided to call it The Eclectic Muse Literary Review. I wanted to have something to show some  support a few of the local area authors and get some of their work know by a different audience than they normally would have. I wanted a mix of both well established authors and those who are up and coming writers. I think I have chosen well.

We will be at the Half Price Books Flagship store at 5803 E. Northwest Hwy, Dallas, Texas 75231 on Wednesday March 19th form 8:00  PM to 10:00 PM.
Joining me are Darwin Prophet, Jenn Monty, Jessica Scott, William Ledbetter and C. Dean Anderson. Both Jenn and Jessica have never read their work to an audience at a formal event before so they are taking a big step in doing this.

I met Jenn Monty at ConDFW in 2012 and she has been one of my biggest fans and supporters of my writing ever since then. That fandom turned into a friendship and also she has been a guest panelist at All-Con with me for the past two years in 2013 and at this year’s convention last weekend. She is an awesome author  and I am now one of her biggest fans in return. Check out her blog called  Brewed Bohemian where she not only posts some of her poetry and flash fiction, but also information about writing events and web sites online, and her reviews about beer, coffee, and tea. She also pontificates about other random topics as well. Check it out, as there is a wealth of information there.

I met Jessica Scott through the Bedford Public Library Friends Writers Circle which is a critique and support group that I have been a member of since 2010. Jessica joined earlier this year and I have been really enjoying her poetry and short fiction that she shares with the group and posts on her blog which is called The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet. Is that not the most awesome blog name ever? I knew when I put this event together that I really wanted her to read some of her work out loud.

Darwin Prophet is a singer, songwriter, musician and author of prose and poetry who I met at a Steampunk Convention called The Difference Engine on New Year’s Eve in 2011 when she was performing with her group Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror. I have been attending her performances whenever I get the chance as she is one of my favorite performers. She is also a good friend of mine. I heard her read from some of her work at All-Con last year and was impressed by her excellent writing style and wonderful voice for the spoken word as well as her musical vocals. I regret that she will not be able to perform her music at this event since the store recently changed its policy about having performances in the community room where we are meeting. I am very much looking forward to hearing her read some of her writing again. Click on her website here at Darwin Prophet.

William Ledbetter and I met at ConDFW this year when we had our book signings together at the same table.  He has written over thirty speculative fiction stories and non fiction articles in collections like Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, Escape Pod, Ad Astra and Baen Books, just to name a few. He administers the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest for Baen Books and the National Space Society, is a member of the National Space Society of North Texas, is the Science Track coordinator for the Fencon convention and is a consulting editor at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. I knew he would be a great established author to bring on board for the readings.Check out his web page here at William Ledbetter.

I’ve known C. Dean Andersson since I first met him at ConDFW in 2011. He has been writing  heroic fiction and horror since the 1980’s and has eleven novels and numerous short stories published both in the USA and internationally. He is a very quiet, unassuming kind of person, and just about the nicest guy you could meet.  He writes some awesome tales. His website is here at C. Dean Andersson.com

Please join us for a fun evening of poetry and prose and help show your support for local authors.

 

The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat at All-Con This Weekend

“There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. So we must suffer the screwball gladly.” – Kingman Brewster

Quick, short post from the Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat.
I will be at the fantasy, science fiction, anime, etc, fan convention All-Con in Dallas (really Addison) this weekend. Here’s the link to the website: All-Con.net.  And here is the All-Con Facebook page. 

I will on discussion panels Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Come check out this awesome event and drop by for my panels. There is a listing of the panel descriptions on the web page but here’s a run down of the ones I will be on:

What Scares the Boogeyman? Horror anthology panel, 8:00 PM Friday, with Stormy Medina, and Bev Hale

How Did You Come Up With That Idea? Saturday 5:00 PM, With Stormy Medina

The Source of Creativity, with a flash fiction writing exercise, Sunday 11:00 AM, with Jenn Monty

Dark Fantasy & Horror, Sunday 1:00PM, with Jenn Monty

Anthologies: An opportunity for new writers, Sunday 3:00 PM, with Stormy Medina

Come see me and my fellow writers, editors, and friends. There are a lot of things going on at this event, including performances both Saturday at 7:00PM  and Sunday at 10:00 AM by Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror.

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.” – Stephen Leacock

 

 

 

 

Don’t Fear the Dark, or Support Indie Artists!

“Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.”
– Lao Tzu

Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out this latest episode of blogging from The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat. It has been a busy weekend indeed.

Yesterday I attended the monthly meeting of the North Texas Dieselpunks which included a presentation on the art and architecture of ancient Egypt and its influence on the Art Deco style of the early to mid 20th century and its connection with the Dieselpunk movement. Larry and Tina Amyett did a wonderful and informative slide show presentation that included many excellent images and photographs.

Saturday night I had the honor of being interviewed by one of my biggest fans and supporters, Jenn M who writes a blog called Brewed Bohemian. We sat down at a little place called Roots Coffee House. She was kind enough to buy me a cup of tea and I chose the loose leaf Earl Grey which was excellent. It was the first time I have been interviewed in person and it was a wonderful experience. There were some great questions and I know I rambled on through a lot of my answers, but Jenn was very patient and attentive with me. She also bought a copy of the anthology Rogues in Hell that I signed  for her. Thanks for supporting the series! Kudos to her for asking me to do this interview. We are also going to work together presenting a couple of discussion panels at All-Con in March, so I look forward to collaborating with her on that.

Something I have been trying to help promote and lend a little support to lately is an independent short film called The Dark Man. From the website: “The Dark Man explores the metaphysical relationship between time and love. As the second hand ticks ever onward, Daniel sees the life he made for himself with his wife slipping from his grasp. From the shadows of Daniel’s ruin, a black figure, a Dark Man, bearing an enigmatic timepiece emerges.” It is being written and directed by Tim Stevens, who I met at FenCon last year through a mutual friend, Darwin Prophet, whose music video for the song Don’t Panic was directed and shot by Tim. The Dark Man is a project being done by students at the University of North Texas as part of their undergraduate degree. The film crew also includes producer Sarah Wagner, director of photography, Tyler Burns, and editor Joey McCleskey. They have a Kickstarter fundraiser going to raise much-needed money to pay for things the University can’t provide, like food for the cast and crew, equipment rental fees, and entry fees to film festivals once the movie is completed. Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information about the project and on contributing to the film. Every bit helps so if you can donate even as little as $10 it will go toward them reaching their goal. You will get behind the scenes updates on the making of the film and there are a lot more perks available based on the amount you contribute. If you can’t lend your monetary support, at least please help get the word out about the film, by sharing the page with your friends and family. I like to do what I can for Independent artists, film makers, musicians, and writers, because as a writer myself, I appreciate what it takes to undertake these creative endeavors. Taking a story and making a film out of it involves a whole other level of complexity and planning than anything I have myself attempted to date.

And In the area of indie musicians, Christopher Morris makes some awesome music . His Soundcloud webpage is here. You can listen to some of his wonderful music there, and you can buy the music from his album Everybody Knows, at Amazon. His blend of jazz, rock and fusion will leave you in seventh heaven. His silky smooth vocals and articulate guitar work are amazing.

I attended the bi-monthly meeting of the Writers Circle at the Bedford Public Library today and had one of my poems critiqued. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately, maybe because I’ve been trying to express myself with a lot of emotional things that have been going on in my life and the lives of friends. It feels good to pen lines of verse again. It has been years since I’ve written this many poems, and there was a time when I thought I might never write poetry again. It seems to act to free my mind and sooth my soul and opens up other doors of creativity. I’m still struggling a bit with getting prose stories completed, so I hope this will help get the flow of inspiration moving once more. Until next time, keep the creativity flowing and stay inspired friends.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is – infinite”

 -William Blake

A Steampunk Christmas Ball in Jefferson Texas, or Dancing With Me and My Shadow

“Each day I must shake off the dross that the mundane world has foisted upon me, so that my imagination may be free to wander through realms of the fantastic.” –Larry Atchley Jr.

This was an event that I attended back in the middle of December, but I’m just now getting around to uploading the photos from my camera. I know, I take procrastination to a whole new level. This was a really fun event that featured an almost two hour musical performance by one of my favorite bands, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror.

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The creative force of timeless space and energy that is Darwin Prophet.

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The lovely and talented DarKrys on vocals viola and percussion.

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Maestro on the violin.

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And it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas Ball without a Steampunk Santa.

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And here I am in my Shadow Dancer outfit. Photo credit: Ron Wheeler. Thanks Ron for capturing this moment in time.

Shadow Dancer

Assault rifles can’t hold a candle to this steampunk gun.

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And here’s Ron Wheeler, the awesome photographer, and all around cool guy who got the great shot of me in my Shadow outfit.

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And it wouldn’t be a steampunk ball without ladies in fancy dresses. My friend Jennifer, on the right with her friend whose name I don’t remember. Heh, sorry about that.

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Well that’s a wrap on another blog post for this week. Thanks to Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror and  everyone who put on this wonderful fun event. As always, it was great to meet with friends, old and new alike. I had a blast tripping the light fantastic with all of you awesome people. I’ll leave you with a quote from this Victorian era genius:

“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”
 -Oscar Wilde

A Writer’s Holiday, or Wrestling With my Inner Daimons

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I am taking a vacation from the mundane day job this Thanksgiving week to get some much needed writing done.  I plan to try to put things around the house in some semblance of order as well, as with both my wife and mine’s work schedules, house chores tend to get put off to a  time that we call “I’ll get to it later.”

One of the stories I am working on is one that will hopefully be included in the next book in the Heroes in Hell series, created by Janet Morris, Dreamers in Hell. Old familiar faces from my previously published stories in the shared-world anthologies  Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell will return in this yarn. It deals with Anton LaVey trying to come to terms with his death and damnation in Hell by seeking psychiatric council from famous psychologist and spiritualist, William James. Also, Guy Fawkes having given up on trying to redeem his way out of Hell, has decided to try to blow his way out. Calamity ensures of course, and it should be a fun tale to read when it’s all done. As I did with the previous two stories, I have collaborated with a few of the other Hellion authors to connect my story with theirs in the larger meta-arc storyline that will be present throughout much of the anthology. This book should be very dynamic in nature and I think may end up containing some of the best stories from the series to date.

Another pending project is to write and submit a Victorian era historical fiction horror story for the anthology  Terror By Gaslight. I have the basic concept of the story and I know who my main character is, so the  preliminary work is done. Now I just have to start the actual writing of the story and hope that my daimons of inspiration will help me keep the words flowing. We writers contributing to the book have been given free reign to give the stories a steampunk twist if we so desire, but I’m not sure yet if mine will actually go in that direction. It has the possibility of doing so, but I won’t know until I really get into the meat of the writing process. I know quite a lot of writers who have set stories in the steampunk genre and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself from time to time so it would be fun to take it in that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that the story couldn’t have if I stuck with a traditional historical tale.

Speaking of steampunk, I’ve been listening to a lot of steampunk music lately that has I think been driving my creative forces onward in the right direction. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror captivated my attention from the first moment I heard them play live at The Difference Engine steampunk convention that night on New Year’s Eve 2011. Darwin’s sound ranges from what has been termed steampop, literary rock, and  rock and roll. Her album Oscar Wilde’s Serenade is a beautiful tribute to the poet, with songs written to his lyrics. The song “Don’t Panic” is dedicated to Douglas Adams and Gene Roddenberry. They recently filmed an awesome video for the song that you can watch HERE.

“I could be the anomaly, I could be the missing link between reality and your point of view. You know you boldly go where no one’s ever thought to go. The captain of your ship has lost her grip but she won’t let it show. If you slip into a black hole, don’t panic, don’t panic. If you can see into my soul, don’t panic. I won’t let go.” 

-Darwin Prophet, “Don’t Panic”

Darwin is a wonderful, intelligent, creative, and incredibly talented person. She is a gifted songwriter, musician, vocalist, and artist. I am fortunate to call her my friend. The Chronus Mirror band is made up of Maestro on violin, and DarKo on viola, vocals and percussion, both incredibly talented musicians in thier own right.

Marquis of Vaudeville is another favorite band I’ve seen perform at steampunk events. I keep listening to and watching the video for the song Utopian Playland, over and over. It is such a poignant anthem for these  jaded times in which we live as we strive to eke out a meagre living  trading most of the hours of our lives performing mundane repetitive tasks to earn a fistful of dollars.

“Productive members of society, that’s all we’re ever taught to be. But when society is failing, the dreamers rise up and will lead, to Utopian Playland.” –Marquis of Vaudeville, Utopian Playland.

The song is a tribute to the ideology of Dr. Steel who proposed that our top priority should be to have fun. I think it is a wonderful sentiment. The dreamers, writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and musicians should be allowed to create and play unfettered by the shackles of drudgery.

Recently I had a story called ‘Time For A Change”  published in the shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Pawns. The series is created by Michael H. Hanson, and edited by Edward F. McKeown. This book deals with stories about the Forces of Good battling the Forces of Evil during an event called The Sha’Daa,which takes place every ten thousand years on earth, in which the walls between our dimension and other darker more malevolent ones grows thin, and evil crosses over to try to annihilate and enslave mankind and take over the world. During this period, mankind must fight back with the help of the enigmatic and mysterious Johnny the Salesman. He trades items of powerful magical ability with ordinary people  to try to stop the Sha’Daa from happening. This is the third volume in the series, but it can be enjoyed without having read the first two, Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Sha’Daa: Last Call.

In September I was honored to be a guest at the Friends of the Bedford Public Library event, Evening With the Authors, where I read my story, “Ragnarok & Roll” from the book Rogues in Hell and got to answer questions from the audience about my writing.  It was really wonderful and made me feel very special as this is my local library where I check out books, so it felt great to be among my fellow local authors like Joanne Faries, Rebecca Balcarcel, Sharon K. Owen, and special guest from out of state, Sarah A. Hoyt who is a Prometheus Award winning author.

Well, that’s about all for now. I hope all my American readers have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Until next time…

 

 

The Nightmare Machine 2012 Unconventional Convention

This post is long overdue, considering I attended this convention way back in the end of March. But better late than never I always say.

The Nightmare Machine 2012 was a steampunk convention with a paranormal theme. It was created and organized by Steampunk Illumination Society. It took place March 30th through April 1st, in Jefferson, Texas which is purported to be the most haunted town in the Lone Star State. Whether it is or not is hotly debated amongst skeptics and believers. But it certainly is one of the most well preserved. By setting this event in and around the historic downtown district of Jefferson, it already set it apart from all other cons which typically take place within the confines of a hotel.

Some of the activities  included in this event included a steamboat ride, which I missed because I got into Jefferson too late Friday, a steam train ride, which i didn’t get to go on because the train derailed a couple of hours before my scheduled ticket reservation and the tracks had to be repaired. They did get the tracks repaired later that day and honored the earlier tickets for a ride that night, but I chose not to go, because I was busy attending other events at the time. The other activity that I did go on was the  ghost walk tour of the haunted hotspots in Jefferson. Guide Jodi Breckenridge was extremly knowledgable and shared some great stories about the history of Jefferson’s haunted past.

I was fortunate to be asked to this convention as a guest author and panelist which meant that I got to read my story, “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” from the Heroes in Hell series anthology, Lawyers in Hell, in front of a small but attentive audience. Thanks especially to Elizabeth and Mike Stewart who attended and were great to meet and talk to about writing.  They had heard about me from a mutual friend of ours, Mike Badolato, who suggested they might like to hear my reading. Thanks for promoting me, Mike! Also at the reading was someone who I greatly admire as a musician, songwriter, and vocalist, Darwin Prophet .  Thanks also to everyone else who attended my reading, sorry if I didn’t catch your names to put in this blog, but your show of support was appreciated.

Saturday night was an incredible festival of splendid sound called “A Symphonic Celebration”. The featured bands were Marquis of Vaudeville, My Wooden Leg, Sarasvati Bodhisattva, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror, and BB Blackdog. All were wonderful and brought their own unique  style of music to the concert. Earlier that day, my favorited band, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror played a special acoustic performance of songs from their album, Oscar Wilde’s Serenade,  in front of the Excelsior House Hotel. It was a lovely and moving tribute to the poetic works of Oscar Wilde who had stayed at the Excelsior House once during his travels through Texas.

I got to hold a discussion panel/presentation on the history of paranormal investigating, procedures and equipment which was fun. Thanks to those who attended, including Larry and Tina Amyett, and Jonathan Morgan. Larry and Tina from North Texas Dieselpunks did a presentation later that day on the history of Dieselpunk that was really cool and informative. These panels were held at the Museum of Measurement & Time which was an interesting place and the owners are very nice people.

Other various fun events included the premier of the short film “Mechanical Grave” and the Late Night Social and Tea Duelling put on by the members of the band BB Blackdog. I did a little tea duelling myself, although I lost my round, so I need to practice more. I think I’m better at drinking tea than dueling with it. If you wonder what exactly tea duelling is, this is a good web page that explains it here. There were many other panels on things like  sword fencing, making Steampunk costumes, real tales of ghostly experiences and more. There were also several vendors selling all manner of steampunk themed stuff, from costumes, weapons, accesories, art, and music.

I want to especially thank Stephanie Moran of the Steampunk Illumination Society for making me a part of this very special and historic event. Thanks to everyone at the S.I.S. for putting on a great and memorable convention that was one of a kind, like no other I have attended. Even the event badges were unique, as they were made out of engraved brass plates.  I met a lot of wonderful people, had tons of fun, saw some great sites around Jefferson, and made many new friends.

The Nightmare Machine Paranormal Steampunk Convention

I will be a guest at this paranormal steampunk convention, The Nightmare Machine, this weekend. I will be holding a discussion panel on the history of paranormal investigation Saturday 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. I am also doing readings Friday night at 8:00 PM from my story “Shadow of a Doubt” which will be published later this year in the horror  anthology What Scares the Boogeyman and “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” published in 2011 in the anthology Lawyers in Hell Sunday at 11:00 AM . The convention takes place in historic Jefferson, Texas. Come see me and all the other guests at this fun and exciting event!

 

The Short Pale Writer Appearing at ConDFW This Weekend

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.” – Stephen Leacock

I will be attending ConDFW in Dallas, Texas this weekend. I am scheduled for five discussion panels, a reading, and a book signing session over the course of Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be hanging out with friends and fellow authors Friday, and attending the opening ceremonies, and some panels. Come out and join me for a fun and informative weekend. Below is my schedule, but be sure to check out the ConDFW website for all the panels and events going on all weekend.

SATURDAY

Panel Room 3 – Canterbury-1pm –Horror without Focus: Writing the Apocalypse in Horror

 Panelists: C. Dean Andersson, Larry Atchley Jr., Gabrielle Faust (M), K. Hutson, Dusty Rainbolt, Brad Sinor

It is moderately easy to create a horror story where you have an obvious villain. But in this year of disaster and

apocalypse, we see the other side of Horror – where the villain is nature itself, whether by fire, flood or plague.

Our panelists discuss the Apocalyptic Horror genre and its future in a time where the future is never certain.

Panel Room 2 – Manchester-4pm –Horror vs. Urban Fantasy: Where is the Line?

 Panelists: C. Dean Andersson, A. Lee Martinez (M), Larry Atchley Jr., Stina Leicht, Gabrielle Faust, Sue Sinor

Sometimes it is difficult to find what section a particular Urban Fantasy book belongs to. It is sometimes found in

the Science Fiction/Fantasy section, but sometimes it is found in the Horror section. And to be honest, some

Horror has been Urban Fantasy before the genre really came about, like Anne Rice’s vampire series. But what

is the line between the darkness of Horror and the lightness of SF/Fantasy? Our panelists debate this dark topic

and perhaps find out what Urban Fantasy really is.

Panel Room 1 – Warwick-5pm –Ragnarok and You: Using Norse Mythology

 Panelist: Frances May (M), K.B. Bogen, Katharine Kimbriel, Ren Hobt, Larry Atchley Jr.

No discussion on the upcoming apocalypse would be complete without covering Norse mythology and

Ragnarok. What you may not know is that Ragnarok does not mean destruction at all, but means “the final

destiny of the gods”. Learn more about the classics from our experts on myth and legend, and try to forget about

comic book movies based on the same topic.

Readings: 6 pm – Shanna Swendson, Larry Atchley Jr., Ethan Nahte

SUNDAY

Panel Room 2 – Manchester-12pm –Body Language: Writing Martial Arts

 Panelists: K. Hutson (M), Larry Atchley Jr., A.P. Stephens, Stina Leicht

Sure, it’s easy to describe a punch to the stomach, and a sweep to the legs. But is it anatomically possible?

And what are some moves that are legit to use? We bring some martial artists to the table and let’s see if we

can describe what they do – without a video camera.

Signings: 1 pm – Larry Atchley Jr., Anthony Brownrigg

Panel Room 1 – Warwick-2pm –Apocalypse Later? What will be Our Doom?

 Panelists: Cherie Priest, Larry Atchley Jr., Linda Donahue (M), Selina Rosen, Gloria Oliver

With all the talk of Apocalypse this year (and the past few days), one thing hasn’t been covered. What do our panelists think WILL destroy the world? Let conspiracies abound, and if the government is watching I was never here.

Also, I’m a bit behind on blogging about the last couple of conventions I’ve attended, so I’ll cover some highlights of the most recent events.

The Difference Engine was a Steampunk themed convention held New Years  Eve weekend, complete with a fancy dress ball. Musical acts for the ball included Darwin Prophet & The Chronus Mirror which upon hearing them for the first time instantly became one of my new favorite bands.

Also there was Donna the Bard, who brought many instruments with her and let audience members join her in playing some traditional folk music. Thanks Donna, for making it an interactive show, I had a lot of fun! Also performing that weekend was tribal Heidi Wunder with violinist Jennifer Sanders providing musical backing for the show. Both were excellent entertainers, and a pleasure to meet. Action, comedy performing was provided by Cut, Thrust, and Run who are always a blast to watch with their swordplay, quarterstaff whirling, and jokes. Lest I forget, the Master of Ceremonies  for the con was Peter Pixie, who was  fun and energetic to be around.

I had a good time attending the promotions table for the Irredeemable Order of Hellions selling copies of Lawyers in Hell, and Forrest Hedrick and John Manning’s  horror novel Black Stump Ridge. I met a lot of great people that weekend. The guys from geek culture website Nerdvana Inc. stopped by, and they included John and I in their write-up about the convention on their website. So our fame is spreading ! Ha ha!

Last weekend I attended the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo strictly as a patron and not as a guest. As I always seem to do at any event I go to, I met some great people and made some new friends. Particulatly artist Kathryn Crenshaw who correctly identified my costume of radio show and pulp classic character, The Shadow.  She said that her dad raised her on the old pulp classic books and comics, and that’s how she recognized my obscure outfit. She also told me that he had a vendor table at the convention, and that I should go talk to him because we probably had a lot of interests in common. It turns out that we did, and he also had the two Thieves’ World graphic novels that I had been looking for to complete my collection. He also had a lot of really great Robert E. Howard books, and much more stuff from the classic age of fantasy and science fiction. There were also dozens of tables full of collectable toys, action figures, shirts, patches, costumes, and anything else you can imagine to do with Sci-Fi/Fantasy fandom.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for the blog this time. I hope you will come see me, and all the other guests at ConDFW this weekend. I know it will be a lot of fun.