Sunday, October 31, 2010

Promotional Mode

Well, I'm getting ready to gear up for full promotional mode for the next few months. My publicist at Tor Books is setting up bookstore appearances and I'll be doing readings and signings in a number of cities. I'm hoping to range far and wide.

My pal Mark Masztal did this art for the six-foot banner that I'll be setting up at all of my appearances. Cool stuff!

Click on this to see it in larger format. Mark Masztal's work is amazing!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Too Busy...

Busy today. Working on Saturday ALWAYS sucks!

Cairo trying to find something in my work boots.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Forgot to Post this One

When Carole and I were staying at Canyon Village in Yellowstone we decided to walk from our cabin to a nearby restaurant for dinner. I took the smaller of our two digital cameras along. "You never know what we might see," I explained.

After we ate we were walking back to our cabin. These cabins were apparently put in place either in the 60s or 70s. They're pre-fab buildings that are pretty plain, both inside and out, but are functional and comfortable and they're in a really nice part of the park. A bit long in the tooth, they need to be painted or re-stained. There are a lot of them and the lodging is situated in a maze of little streets. It's a pretty peaceful and quiet spot.

As we were getting close to our cabin we looked ahead to see an adult bison walking along the front of one of the other cabins calmly grazing on grass. We stopped to take his photo and then went on, being careful not to get too close.

Here he was:

I'm glad I took the camera along with us to dinner. My advice when one is in Yellowstone is to never be without a camera.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man

When I was a young man I owned and worked in a used book/comic book shop. One of the people who frequented the store was a kid named Jason Brock. So I have to say right away that I've known Jason since he was just a boy. An exceptionally intelligent and precocious kid, for sure. I always figured he would do some important things in his life that would set him apart and make him known if not nationally, then at least within the genre fiction that he enjoyed in those days.

Years passed, and I lost touch with Jason. I stayed here in the south and he ranged far and wide. Eventually, because of the wonder of computers and the Internet we linked up again just a few years ago.

Me and Jason Brock, October 2010. Photo by Sunni Brock.

At that time, Jason was hard at work on documentaries about two of his childhood idols: Forrest J. Ackerman and Charles Beaumont. I figured he'd finish the one about Ackerman first, but as things went he completed the Charles Beaumont film first.

When I finally got a copy of the finished film I was expecting a competent work, but nothing more than that. After all, this was his first documentary and with it would come the various missteps ones expects of a first-time filmmaker. So after I put the disk in my DVD player and sat down to watch CHARLES BEAUMONT: THE SHORT LIFE OF TWILIGHT ZONE'S MAGIC MAN, I figured this would be a competent movie but nothing more than that.

Because of friendships Jason had made over the years he had lived in Washington and California, he was able to get in touch with most of the people still living who had been close to Charles Beaumont or who had worked professionally with him in publishing, television, and in feature films. This access enabled him to get as close as was possible to the tragic figure of the writer, Beaumont.

My own knowledge of Charles Beaumont was limited. I knew him best--as most of us do--as Rod Serling's go-to writer of teleplays for the ground-breaking TV series, THE TWILIGHT ZONE. The power and breadth of Beaumont's talents are today still on view on millions of TV screens around the world because of his wonderful scripts for that show. Of course, as the documentary shows, that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Brock's documentary covers as much of the man's life as I think we are likely to know within the brief moments of a documentary. He takes us from the man's childhood to his teen years as friend to the likes of Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and William Nolan. Each of these men are able to add to the data as Brock weaves the story of Beaumont's formative years as a struggling writer to his meteoric rise as a creator of fine short stories (for the likes of Playboy Magazine) to the break into television work, then to novels, to feature films, and the unrealized potential of what should have been.

The documentary does more than just bring us to meet the people who knew him best--his friends and his son--it also takes us pretty darned close to the man himself. Toward the end of the documentary we are faced with Beaumont's own nightmares as he faced the illness that eventually stole his intellect and took his life. There are sections of consummate camerawork and truly imaginative effects that left me feeling real horror. For this was the way a man actually faced his life and dealt with a hand one would not wish on anyone. To have it happen to an artist of such skill makes the telling all the more terrible.

Jason Brock has done a wonderful job of telling about the life and work of Charles Beaumont. This documentary stands as a truly solid tribute to the writer. The editing for the film, handled by Sunni Brock, was perfectly rendered. There's not a wasted moment in this movie.

I'm not sure where the film is headed. For now, you have to be lucky enough to attend a showing of THE SHORT LIFE OF TWILIGHT ZONE'S MAGIC MAN at one of the conventions and film festivals where the Brocks are taking the documentary. But I hope that soon it will be commercially available. Watch this space for that day.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jason and Sunni Brock

My good friends Jason and Sunni Brock swept into town a week ago. I went to meet them for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory where we ate a great meal and had some drinks. But the best thing was being able to talk to them and share a few hours together just conversing about movies and books, people and life.

The Brocks have recently completed a documentary that they produced about the great writer Charles Beaumont. I'm going to write a more detailed bit about that documentary but I want to do it right and I've been too pressed to devote the time to it. So, hopefully, in a day or so I'll have that up here at the blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Winter in Linville Gorge

Too busy to post much today. I always liked this photo I took just after an ice storm last year in Linville Gorge.

The entire forest was crackling with the sound of weakening ice and dropping bits of frozen water. It was an amazing experience and one which I utilized in my new novel, THE CLAN.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The World Often Sucks

Yesterday I was supposed to attend a Halloween party at the home of my friend Budd Root. Been planning this for weeks.

The world did not cooperate.

First thing that happened was that when I got in to work I was forced to work overtime. This sucks, since I'm not on the overtime desired list, but as I can be forced to do this, well, I didn't have a choice if I want to keep my job.

So I get off work two hours later than usual.

Get home to find Carole sick. I volunteer to stay home but she sends me on to Budd's telling me that she can call if she needs me.

Finally get washed up and head to the local grocery for beer and munchies. Had to wait in line for five minutes while someone went to find two pennies for the customer in front of me. Get my purchase and head to the truck and get on the road to Budd's.

After two miles of driving I notice traffic is slowing. Then it stops completely.

Ahead, there are sirens and flashing lights and all of the signs of a really bad accident. Weirdly, the way to Budd's is along a main artery and to get there via any other route is long and circuitous. At any rate, I'm stuck in a line of chrome that won't move, so I don't have any options.

Finally, after twenty minutes I'm able to creep up to an intersection where traffic is also jammed, but I'm able to make a right turn. By this time I'm three hours late to the party and realize that getting there will require at least 45 minutes of driving.

Fuck it. I call Budd to cancel and go home to take care of Carole.

Some days it doesn't pay to try to make any plans at all.

Sorry, Budd!

On the upside, I surprised myself by knocking out 2,000 words on my young adult project. Now I need to send it on to my agent so that he can tell me if I'm on the right track as far as style.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

More Carl Barks Goodness

Too tired to post anything of substance today. Except excellent cover art by the late Carl Barks. My Disney comic collection has grown substantially. I need to get it all boxed and the books protected.

This issue of Walt Disney 's Comics & Stories contains the ten-page yarn that Carl Barks often referred to as his all-time favorite. That's saying something, considering the enormous volume of stories he produced in his long career as a comic book writer/artist.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Barks Duck Books Part II

Lately I've been buying up old Disney comic books with stories created by one of my favorite cartoon artists, Carl Barks. He was a very busy guy for decades, producing many stories for his main employer, Disney and Dell Comics. Dell (and later, Gold Key/Western) had the then-lucrative Disney contracts locked up, and with guys like Carl Barks writing and illustrating wonderful fiction, it was one of the best publishers for kids' comics. It's my opinion that the Disney comics were far superior in just about every way to the films.

What's really good is that, for some reason, a lot of the books that I want to buy are in a kind of slump. Books that were very hard to buy when I was a collectibles dealer are easy to find and, not only that, in low demand. It's a real buyer's market if, like me, you enjoy reading comic books drawn by the likes of Carl Barks, John Stanley, and Walt Kelly. These geniuses seem to have fallen out of favor. Oh, well. Good for me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Troops Come Out, Life Immitates Art

Honoring the Fighting Men:

From 1962 to 2010. Once it was obvious hate speech, now it's considered legitimate politics from Tea Party/Republicans/Libertarians.

Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, etc. have gone back to the Klan's playbook. To Hell with the lot of them:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lilly's Bed of Choice

Lilly thinks my office chair is her bed. Quite often I'll sit on the edge of it so that she won't have to wake up. I know...that makes no sense at all, but it's what I do.

"Go get you own seat," says Lilly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lazy Day

I don't have to work today. So I slept in. Now I'm going to work a bit on the plot for my next project. Then I'll get out one of the tiny apertif glasses from our Depression glass collection and drink Muscato wine out of it. Seems to make it taste even better when drinking it from the dainty antique glass. So here's to me wasting the rest of the day drinking wine and daydreaming about my next novel.

Iris & herringbone glass being drained of wine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

First Blush

I went out to the northern part of the county today so that we could hang out with Carole's mom. She hadn't visited with us for a bit so she was getting lonely.

I mainly relaxed, but I did make the very short drive to a local county park (Latta Plantation Park) to go for a brief hike. I was looking for things to photograph to help me continue to learn how to use the new camera. I still don't have a macro lens for the Canon, but I'm trying to learn how to take close ups with the lens that I do have.

As I was hiking down one trail I noticed these little berries. They have a brightly colored husk that had opened to reveal the berries inside. I'd never seen this plant before and I have no idea what it is, but it made a good subject to use for learning the camera.

From above.

And from below.

A dogwood in Carole's mom's yard. Dogwoods are the first to begin changing color in Fall around these parts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New cabinet

We bought a new cabinet and brought it home last night. Well, new for us. We bought it from an ad on Craigslist. We went ahead and put it up even though new paint and carpet are getting ready to be installed. Oh, well. We'll just have to move it a bit. We mainly bought it to display and store our Depression glass.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Alternate Florida

Well, Carole and I will be heading down to Florida in a few more weeks. Unfortunately it will be for business rather than pleasure. I'll be happy to be on a book tour, but it'll be a bummer to be so close to all of the great state parks and not be able to enjoy them.

Florida has one of the best state park systems I've ever seen. Probably the finest I've witnessed. West Virginia's state park system comes close, but it's still not a fine as the ones in Florida, except that it has probably a slight edge in natural beauty because of the mountainous terrain.

The state of Florida obviously spends a tremendous amount of money on its parks. They have great facilities while at the same time preserving the natural areas in something close to what they originally were. And if you're looking for wildlife, I hold that Florida actually outstrips even the western states for wildlife viewing. You don't see quite as much in the way of large animals in Florida, but you can get lucky and see things like manatees and even bears in the Sunshine State.

For my money, state parks and National Forests don't get much better than the ones in Florida.

Whitetail deer. Probably the most successful large mammal on the North American continent.

Secluded beach on Talbot Island in northeast Florida. We had it to ourselves.

Anhinga above one of the springs of Florida.

Manatee in Manatee Springs.

This black buzzard was at Manatee Springs. He was pulling the ferns at his feet free of the tree limb and dropping them into the spring just to watch them float. He was aware of cause and effect, action and reaction, and he was having fun. Black vultures are one of my favorite animals.

This spectacular pelican was on a dock near Cedar Key.

A young raccoon who was scoping us out and planning to steal from us, the little bastard.

Scrub jay that went into the trap meant for the troublesome raccoon we encountered at Blue Spring State Park. He ate the hot dog bait and left.

The oppossum who was captured in the live trap meant for the asshole raccoon. The ranger came and let it out.

Widdle Marsh rabbit (a type of cottontail) near one of our campsites.

Manatees at Blue Springs State Park. This is the pair that swam up to me while I was swimming in the spring.

Very young alligator in the St. John River.

Beautiful plumage, the Green heron.

Suwannee Painted turtle. This one was huge. About the size of a large platter.

Great egret hunting along the St. John River.


Alligator in Sand Lake near Wekiwa Springs.

Gorgeous clear water at a first magnitude spring.

View at Blue Spring State Park.

Yeah, that's how it's done. Snorkeling and swimming in a first magnitude spring!

This is the Senator. Arguably the largest single tree east of the Mississippi River. Also one of the oldest living things on Earth. No shit.

Stitched photo of insignificant me with the Senator. Yes, this tree is amazing and well worth seeing. Not far from Orlando in Big Tree Park.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The bookmarks, with art by Mark Masztal, are here! On nice, glossy stock. They're beautiful!

The bookmark, with color front art and black & white back.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

West Virginia Memories

As I've said here many times, my wife and I adore West Virginia. It is arguably the most beautiful state in the eastern USA. Here's a brief album from one of our trips, which reminds us that we need to return. We're getting kind of homesick for the place, even though we're not natives of the state.

Old hemlocks in Beartown State Park. The park system has treated these ancient hemlocks to keep them from succumbing to hwa, and I've been told they're doing okay.

The bear we encountered hiking back to our truck after exploring Beartown.

Fall colors on a state park lake. Greenbriar River State Park, I think.

Stitched panorama in the high country near Cranberry Glades.

Another lake in, I think, Pocahontas County.

A 350-year-old river birch in Cranberry Glades.

Our campsite on that trip. We still had the old truck. I miss that vehicle, one of the few automobiles for which I've ever developed an emotional attachment.

Re-built tower on Droop Mountain.

View from Droop Mountain.

The gorgeous bog called Cranberry Glades. Well worth the visit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interesting Newly Discovered Stuff (and the New Novel's Turned In!!!!)

This here is a newly revealed photo from a shoot Marilyn Monroe did on a visit to Banff back when she was still a living, breathing creature:

"Subliminal? To HELL with subliminal," said the photographer.

And this one is truly amazing:

This is not something from a science-fiction movie. This is the face of a newly discovered species of bat found in a previously unexplored section of Papua New Guinea. This place is a treasure trove of undiscovered creatures. It's officially a new "Tube nosed bat", but unofficially people are calling it the "Yoda bat" in honor of the Star Wars character many claim it resembles. Now that we've discovered it, I'm sure we'll now get right down to the business of making it go extinct.

On other fronts, I finished my latest novel!