Friday, July 31, 2015

All Three Books!

Here are the great covers for my apocalyptic zombie series, THE COALITION published by the always excellent Severed Press. Along with links to the ebook versions. But keep in mind that you can order them in paperback versions, also.

Part One: State of Extinction.

Part Two: Lord of the Living.

Part Three: The 2% Solution.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


The third and final chapter of my COALITION zombie series is out.

Time has passed. The city of Charlotte has become a haven from the apocalyptic plague of the undead. The zombie hoard has been held at bay beyond the scorched perimeters of the urban center. Cutter, his wife Jean, and their adopted son Oliver live at peace, but under constant pressure from the threat of the shambling dead. A resurgent military with supplies and great firepower suddenly appears, bringing the promise of restored technology and order. But are they what they seem?



Monday, July 27, 2015

A Grand Tradition: Ghost Stories

When I first began to assemble my work for what became the short story collection A CONFEDERACY OF HORRORS, I surprised myself because I had never quite realized that I had written so many ghost stories. To my way of thinking, ghost stories are the origin of horror fiction and at the base of almost every type of weird tale. One can write of monsters and of dragons and killers of all sorts; but at the source of them all is the fear of one's own mortality and of what might lie beyond (even if one does not believe in the "beyond").

I started reading ghost stories when I was a very young kid. Some of the first things I read were ghost stories, or weird stories, or--as one of the finest craftsmen of such tales (Robert Aikman) called them--strange stories. These tales must have stuck with me and influenced me far more than I realized, for a large percentage of the yarns I ended up spinning have been ghost stories of one sort or another.

One of the greatest authors of such tales was M.R. James. An intellectual of both religious and scientific influence, he created what many readers consider among the finest ghost stories written. And occasionally some of his work has been hammered into various films, most notably the excellent 1950s-era movie: CURSE OF THE DEMON, adapted from his short story "Casting the Runes".

But another great one from the pen of M.R. James that was loaned to cinematic excellence was "Whistle and I'll Come to You", adapted in 1968 as a short film. And here it is:


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brick and Mortar Versus the Internet

Some time ago we purchased an external holding tank for our Casita travel trailer. This little contraption is a small, two-wheeled tank that takes in waste water from our onboard holding tanks (both gray and black water). It's convenient because we can unload to it and haul it to a dump station without having to move the entire travel trailer to do so.

However, after several vacations we realized that we'd opted for a tank that is just far too small (12 gallons). So, since we were getting ready for a long trip where we will be parking the travel trailer in one spot for over a week, we realized that we needed a larger external holding tank. And we started shopping around for a new one.

Generally, we tend to buy items like this from specialty RV stores. There are a number of these places located in this general area. Also, a number of companies produce various models for what we needed. Instead of a smaller tank with two wheels, we would need a much larger tank with four wheels. We also needed the option of being able to hook the new tank to the back of the truck to haul it to a dump station.

After reading up on a number of these tanks we made our decision. We called the brick and mortar stores where we tend to make this type of purchase. And what we found was that either the item was out of stock, or the price was far higher than what we were able to find online. Carole and I like to stay loyal to local merchants, but sometimes the difference in price is just too extreme. Today, every dollar counts, especially when your working life is winding down toward retirement.

After worrying over it for a bit, we opted to buy online. We finally made our purchase and saved sixty dollars by buying online (and that is counting the modest shipping charge of $9.99).

Typical Smith campsite.

The old, 12-gallon holding tank.

And the new 35-gallon tank.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dinosaurs and Cheesecake!

As we continue to tinker on the final details of the trip to Glacier National Park, we are getting news of a severe forest fire there. It's not in part of the Park where we'll be staying, but troubling to hear about it. The latest I've heard from a friend in that area is that the Park is getting torrential rains which will hopefully kill of the blaze.

Yesterday I went to hang out with my pal, Budd Root, who is famous for creating, writing, and illustrating the popular comic book title CAVEWOMAN. He was busy producing pen and ink illustrations for clients, but we were able to talk and brainstorm on a project we want to do together. Details as they come.

Good ol' Budd at work.

Dinosaurs and Cheesecake!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Before we go on long trips with our truck/travel trailer rig, we prepare carefully for it. We always spend a lot of money on vehicle maintenance which is a pain, but better than facing engine trouble out in the middle of nowhere. Carole spends literally months hoarding and packing things we will need on the trip; everything from clothing to cooking utensils to toothpaste, foods, and a thousand items that never fail to surprise me along the way.

This time we're even hauling some things such as extra tanks of propane, and we picked up a genuine jerrycan for gasoline. You never know if you're going to run out of gas on some of those long stretches of highway. This last item is something that we have thought about for a long time--ever since we came very close to running completely out of gas in the wilds of Missouri one year.

This will be the longest trip we have ever taken with the travel trailer. To date, the longest trip we've had to haul the Casita was the round-trip to Key West and back. Even though we only journeyed through four states, the drive is far longer than one would think. This trip we'll log roughly 5,000 miles. Yow!

So, we're bearing down on the final preparations. Most of the stuff is ready. Just a few details to take care of, and then it's off!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Little Discoveries

A couple of winters ago I was hiking in an area of the North Carolina mountains called "Big Ivy". It's a heavily forested plot of acreage that is dotted with stands of old growth timber. I haven't hiked in there much, but I would like to explore it a lot more.

On that particular hike, on the way back to my truck, I passed a vast rock shelter. On closer inspection I found that I was not the only one to have inspected this spot. Apparently it's enough well-known and is sufficiently popular that people have built a rock wall at the lip of the entrance. I saw evidence of recent fires just under the overhang. Thus, any idea I had of ever camping there fled into the cool air. Not well enough hidden from sight for me, and too friendly to the locals for me to find any guaranteed peace and solitude.

Still, it was a nice find, even if I'm not going to try to ever camp there.

Plenty of big trees in Big Ivy.

Spruce to remind me that I'm in the really high country.

Giant rock shelter with artificial retaining wall.

Shelter and nearby water supply. But too familiar with the locals for my taste.