Thursday, October 31, 2013

Monster Week - Godzilla

Happy Halloween!!

Arggh! It's GODZILLA!!!

A reminder: The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.

Dad pulled our Ford LTD into the parking slot, careful to get as close to the post as possible without  hitting it.  He rolled the window down and set the speaker from the pole on the window, rolling it back up to hold it in place.  As the scratchy, tinny music played, Mom would pass back the paper bags filled with popcorn and bottles of soda.  My sister and I would lean over the seat as the fanfare started and the words zoomed onto the screen:  Godzilla!

There he is!  Cower in fear, Tokyo!  Gojira!

Movie night at the drive in--the highlight of the week.

These were the smashy arms guys!  Godzilla vs. Magalon.
Ooo!  Mothra gets in a good one!
We loved the Godzilla movies, fakey as they were.  We saw them all:  Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Megalon (a personal favorite).  When we were little, we would be glued to our seats--unless we were leaning over Mom and Dad's shoulder to get a better view.  We saw them on the big screen, then on television.  As we got older, we laughed at the campiness--remember how the monsters (can't remember which movie) communicated by clapping their forearms together?  We'd do it along with them.  Oh, and let's not forget mimicking that fabulous Japanese dubbing!  (mouths moving...moving..moving.  "Look out!"  moving...moving...)  We had Godzilla rubber toys, just as lifelike as the 1950s models.  And I will go to my grave remembering that distinctive "screeeeaaaaa--yaru!" that was Godzilla's roar.

Godzilla has long influenced our culture.  The first movie came out in 1954 and became the defining standard of Japanese monster movies.  To date,

  • Godzilla (1954)
  • Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
  • King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)
  • Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1964)
  • Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
  • Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero (1965)
  • Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster (1966)
  • Son of Godzilla (1967)
  • Destroy All Monsters (1968)
  • Godzilla's Revenge (1969)
  • Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (1971)
  • Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972)
  • Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973)
  • Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
  • Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
  • Godzilla 1985 (1985)
  • Godzilla Vs. Biollante (1989)
  • Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
  • Godzilla & Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
  • Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
  • Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla (1994)
  • Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995)
  • Godzilla (1998)
  • Godzilla 2000: Millennium (2000)
  • Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000)
  • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
  • Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
  • Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
  • Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
He started out, or so the story goes, as a metaphor for the United States, then for the horrors of nuclear power, but the awkwardly moving monster with the electric back plates and the nuclear firebreath proved a versatile character.  There have also been Godzilla cartoons, comics, books and video games.  He's also been the subject of numerous songs, parodies, and has influenced other monster movies as well. 

If you're interested, there are some of the old movies and series on Netflix.  And, if you're wondering where our favorite radioactive monster has been, he's coming back in 2014.

Drive-ins are pretty much a thing of the past, but this October, pop up some popcorn in a brown paper sack and curl up with Netflix and a good ol' fashioned monster movie.

Monster Week -  Creature from the Black Lagoon - The Mummy - Vampires - The Thing 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monster Week - The Thing

A reminder: The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.


When I was younger, my sister and I used to watch MonsterVision.  There was a show we watched before that when we were even younger, but I can't remember what it was.  One of the featured films we saw happened to be the The Thing with Kurt Russell.

I remember being afraid and thinking I would have nightmares, but I couldn't stop watching.  Something about the film intrigued me.  Something made it fascinating.

It wasn't until I was in college that I discovered the 1982 version was a remake of a 1951 film called The Thing from Another World.

I had the pleasure of watching it in a sci-fi and horror film class through the English department.  The professor described the alien as a shape-shifting vegetable.  A carrot that could take on other forms.  Still, I really enjoyed that film, too.

About this time, I was collecting toys, and I really wanted the creature.  You can find more information about it here.  (FYI:  Aliens is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I own several of the toys from the film and have several tattoos, but that is a different blog post!)

For some reason, I never got it.  (I still have all my toys, incidentally, I just don't have anywhere to put them!)

Then, in 2011, they came out with another version of The Thing.

I watched it and enjoyed it, but it didn't give me the same thrill as the other films did.  Maybe by this point in time the story was overdone.  But I have to say, the creature was still freaking fantastic!

Monster Week - Creature from the Black Lagoon - The Mummy - Vampires - Godzilla

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monster Week - Vampires

A reminder: The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.

Although I love writing about zombies, I have to admit, there is a very special place in my heart when it comes to vampires. I find them totally fascinating - from the suave and charismatic to the terrifying and grotesque. I just can't get enough of either.

My passion for these alluring creatures-of-the-night began at a fairly young age. I can still remember watching the old black-and-white movies on the edge of my seat,  in breathless anticipation of what would happen next -would the vampire sink his teeth into the leading lady before the hero arrived to save her, or would she be turned into a vampire and become his eternal bride of darkness?

Back in those days, I desperately wanted the hero to save the girl. These days, however, I sometimes find myself rooting for the vampire- they live longer and need someone to share their lives with, too, don't they? It only seems fair as eternity can be a long and lonely road. Of course, there are some vampires that aren't looking for love or romance, their only interest is satisfying their hunger to feed. They don't care if their victim is a voluptuous super-model with cute dimples or an acne-prone Domino's pizza delivery boy, they are out for the rich, succulent taste of human blood, regardless of the package it arrives in. Now, for me, these horrifying, bloodthirsty monsters are also very intriguing, especially the ones in the book that I just read called  The Draculas: A novel of Terror by Jack Kilborn, F. Paul Wilson, and Blake Crouch. Those are the kind of vampires that will take you down without hesitation. They are grotesque, ugly, and have a mouth full of choppers so outrageous, that once their victims become vampires, the teeth grow right through the skin, kind of reminding me of those fish they talk about on the Discovery Channel...

The Draculas: A Novel Of Terror....If you like a chilling, nail-biting type of read, I highly recommend it!


One of the most popular and earliest fictional tales regarding vampires is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel about the vampire, Count Dracula, and his battle with a small group of people led by  Professor Abraham Van Helsing as he tries to move from Transylvania to England. Now, although Stoker didn't invent the vampire, he defined it into a much more modern form, which helped to spawn other books, movies, and television interpretations.  It is also said that Stoker then spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires.


Interestingly enough, however, the very first tales of what was thought to be real vampires date back to prehistoric times, although the term "Vampire" was not used until the eighteenth century, after superstition in Western Europe began to surface, causing mass hysteria. It began with some cases of alleged vampire attacks from Peter Plogojowitz, who died in 1725 in Serbia. After his death, nine people perished, some claiming that Peter had visited them at night. His wife had also claimed to have seen him when he returned home and asked for his shoes. It was also believed that Plogojowitz came back another night and murdered his son after he refused to give him food. Later, when Plogojowitz's body was exhumed, they found that his hair had grown, his body hadn't decomposed, and there was blood on his lips. After finding this, the frantic put a stake through his heart, which caused fresh blood to appear out of his ears and mouth.  Afterwards, they burned the body.

Another similar case was of Arnold Paole of Serbia, who claimed that he'd been inflicted by a vampire, but had cured himself by eating the soil surrounding the vampire's grave and smearing his body with blood. Then, tragically, in 1725 he broke his neck and died. Within thirty days of his death, several people claimed to have been somehow "plagued by Paole" and his grave was opened up. Upon viewing the body, they noticed it had not decomposed, that his nails and hair had grown, and that there was fresh blood coming from his eyes, ears, and mouth. Concluding that he was a vampire, they impaled him with a stake and it was said that Paole groaned and bled before he was also burned. Pretty crazy, right?


Books are wonderful, but hey, to me, nothing beats a bowl of popcorn and a late night watching a horror flick about vampires. Especially, the classics. From the creepy Nosferatu, played by Max Schreck in 1922 or Bela Lugosi's Count Dracula in 1931, to the sexy and alluring guys in Interview With The Vampire, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in 1994, these creatures of the night have been portrayed in many different lights, although one thing still holds true for all of them - the thirst for blood.

I'm sure everyone has their favorite vampire movie, and I won't bore you into why I prefer one over the other. I will share most my favorites, however, just in case you're looking for something new and haven't seen some of them. Like they say, sharing is caring!

Horror Of Dracula - 1958
Dracula - 1931 and 1979
The Night Stalker - 1972
Lost Boys - 1987
Fright Night - 1985 and remade 2011
Bram Stoker's Dracula - 1992
Salem's Lot - 1979
Von Helsing - 2004
30 Days Of Night - 2007
Underworld - 2003
I am Legend - 2007
John Carpenter's Vampires - 1998

Monster Week -  Creature from the Black Lagoon -  The Mummy - The Thing - Godzilla

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monster Week - The Mummy

With Halloween coming, we're celebrating MONSTER WEEK!  here on the blog. We'll be sharing about a few of our personal monster movie favorites. So, have fun and tell us about some of your must-see monster movies that kept you up at night!

I'm also talking #zombies and about gruesomeness today at Louise Wise's blog.

And... The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.


 With the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922, Egyptian motifs and symbols influenced almost everything in coming years, from fashion and makeup, to home furnishings and entertainment. Rudolph Valentino thrilled women nationwide in the Twenties as "The Sheik."

In the Thirties, gangsters, Mae West and goofball comedies like the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup" gave people in the midst of the Great Depression a sense of escape from real life and something to laugh about.

Then came the monsters.

Just as fears of nuclear bombs and Russian invasions spawned a plethora of giant monster movies in the 1950s, so the Depression played a role in the growth of classic monster movies. With society already in upheaval, many facing hardships and thousands out of work (sound familiar?), monsters offered a way to escape. They were something that could be feared and maybe controlled. The monster could be vanquished!

For Universal studios, it began a golden age of movie monsters and made stars of leading actors like Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931), and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (1931) and The Mummy (1932).

To someone like me who loved the classic monster movies and had dreamed at one point of being an archaeologist before choosing the "more practical" career of journalist and writer, The Mummy became one of my favorite early horror films. Ancient Egypt was fascinating - and this movie made it even creepier! Growing up, I loved reading the E.A. Wallis Budge books like The Egyptian Book of the Dead and even learned to do my name in hieroglyphics. (No, I didn't do any curses.) I still love reading about my favorite Egyptian Queens, Cleopatra and Nefertiti. Another favorite old book and one of the best historical novels I've read about ancient Egypt involves a man who worked in the embalming rooms and became physician to Pharoah Akhnaton - The Egyptian by Mika Waltari.

The Mummy movie, of course, had all the perfect components—a love story gone wrong, a great character actor and an Egyptian setting.

 In The Mummy, Boris Karloff is the priest who dares to love a princess and for his punishment is entombed alive. The tomb is discovered in 1921 and when a scroll he is buried with is read aloud by an expedition member, the mummy Imhotep is brought back to life. Disguised 10 years later as a modern Egyptian, he attempts to reunite with his lost love, now reincarnated into a beautiful young woman played by Zita Johann.

Despite Karloff having only a few scenes wrapped in bandages, which was supposedly a long and uncomfortable process, even without the wraps, who can escape the scary and mesmerizing look from those eyes? (I admit I'll have to watch this again as I keep wondering, how does he go from being a mummy into disguising himself as someone else?)

The Mummy Revisited

Karloff again revisits the mummy character, this time as a professor and Egyptologist, in The Ghoul, (1933). Called the first British horror movie of the sound era, he plays a Professor-Egyptian artifacts expert who insists a special jewel be buried with him. When the jewel is stolen, he rises as a mummy to seek his revenge.

Of note is that another classic monster movie actor, Lon Chaney Jr. steps into the role as Kharis, the living mummy in the 1942 film, The Mummy's Tomb, and the sequels, The Mummy's Ghost (July 1944) and The Mummy's Curse (Dec. 1944). The mummy was also the main character in a number of little-known short and silent films prior to the 1920s.

  Then, of course, there was the 1999 remake of The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser. The adventure film (which I liked) became a kind of Mummy/Raiders of the Lost Ark with neat special effects (the bugs were the creepiest.) It follows up with The Mummy Returns in 2001 and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). It later spun off into another series, The Scorpion King. Of note is that author Max Allen Collins wrote novelizations of The Mummy movie.

But millions of dollars and modern special effects can never replace the truly creepy stare and unique character that Boris Karloff brought to the original film. That was what acting was all about.


Here are some of the better known mummy movies:

Frankenstein (1931)
The Ghoul (1933) 
The Mummy's Hand (1940)
The  Mummy's Tomb (1942)
The Mummy's Ghost - The Mummy's Curse (1944)
Mummy's Dummies, short film, The Three Stooges (1948)
Abbot and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)
The Mummy - (1959) British reworking with Peter Cushing; and Christopher Lee as Kharis the mummy (1959)
The Mummy - (1999, loose remake)
The Mummy Returns (2001)
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

The Scorpion King (2002 spin-off) 

 * Watch the Original Movie Trailer for The Mummy (1932):

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monster Week - Creature from the Black Lagoon!

It's MONSTER WEEK! here at the blog.
Today we begin a series of Halloween Posts celebrating our favorite movie monsters. Enjoy... and BEWARE! Heh-heh-heh....

A reminder: The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.


   Welcome to one of my friends, favorite author and monster fan Stephen D. Sullivan who's agreed to share his memories (and tell us of his enviable recent outing!) related to his favorite monster, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON!


I learned to swim from a monster movie.  Seriously.

Sure, growing up with a house on a pond and a grandmother’s house on Cape Cod, my learning to swim was probably inevitable, but it was the Creature from the Black Lagoon that spurred me on.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 fright flick, and it features what most experts consider the last of the great monsters to come out of the Universal Studios horror factory.

  The film, part of the original wave of 3D movies, stars Richard Carlson, Julie Adams (billed as “Julia”), and Richard Denning as scientists who travel up the Amazon River seeking rare fossils.  What they discover, instead, is a missing link between water and land animals: the gill-man, a.k.a. “the Creature.”  From there, things rapidly go downhill for the scientists as their expedition turns into a fight for survival against the titular monster.

The gill-man costume is a brilliant design--considered the best monster suit ever by many Monster Kid experts (including me)--created by Millicent Patrick, who was working at Universal in the studio of famous makeup artist Bud Westmore (who took credit for the design for nearly 50 years). (See link for some interesting facts and a great pic!)

My first encounter with the Creature was as an Aurora model kit in the early 1960s.  I wasn’t even old enough to hold an X-Acto blade, but I remember my dad helping me put the kit together and paint it.  It was a thing of beauty!

Not as cool, though, was finally seeing the Creature on TV several years later.  The part of the gill-man was played by two actors in the original feature.  (Two sequels, each with a different land-suit performer, followed.)  Ben Chapman, a strapping 6’ 5” actor, played the Creature on land, but it was the submerged gill-man--played by professional swimmer and underwater cameraman Ricou Browning--that really made an impression on me.

Working in the scaly skin-tight costume (and without an oxygen tank), Browning’s swimming made the Creature come alive.  As he chillingly mirrors Julie Adams by swimming on his back beneath her as she swims on the surface, you could well believe the Creature was a real, amphibious monster.

Browning’s gill-man seemed completely at home in the water.  He was fast, powerful, and graceful, and moved through the Amazon (really a lake in Florida) with an eerie twirling/undulating motion.  Later I learned that Browning, who had an amazing lung capacity, worked by taking a gulp from an underwater air hose and then holding his breath while swimming throughout the long takes.  In the film, though, it seemed as though he must be breathing through the gills on his neck, because surely no one could hold their breath that long.

As a kid, I thought the Creature was the coolest thing ever, and imitating his iconic swimming style helped me move from the dog paddle to a full array of aquatic strokes.  Even when swimming today, I will submerge and do a few yards of “the Creature Crawl” just to amuse myself.  It’s still fun to swim like Ricou.

My fondness for the Creature didn’t just end with swimming, though.  His films helped turn me into a lifelong Monster Kid and spurred my career as a fantasy-SF-horror author and artist.  Only Godzilla and the works of Ray Harryhausen have had a similar influence on my life and career.

That inspiration continues to this day.  Just last year, I featured a gill-man character--named Reeko in honor of Ricou Browning--in my second Tournament of Death novel.  And earlier this summer I ventured down to Chicago to attend a 3D showing of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (at least the third time I’ve seen the film in 3D on the big screen).

At that showing, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Adams, who is astonishingly spry and lovely at age 87.  Amazingly, she still tours the country, accompanying prints of the movie, chatting with fans and doing interviews after showings of the film.

I was lucky enough to get an autograph and a picture with her.  She recently released her autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon.  If you get a chance, I’d highly recommend you venture out and meet her.

As for me, I’ll keep swimming, and the Creature will no doubt continue influencing my life and work. There are no gill-men in my current monster project, Daikaiju Attack (serialized free online every week), but who can say what the future might hold?

And, if I’m really lucky, by the time you read this, I will have secured a Ricou Browning autographed picture to go along with my Julie Adams.  Happily, he’s still swimming along at 83--and more power to both of them.

What the doctors say must be true: healthy living and bit of exercise--and a good monster movie--can do wonders for your health.

See you backstroking in the Black Lagoon!

Stephen D. Sullivan is the author of numerous books and stories, including Daikaiju out now! The novelization and new script of the classic horror film White Zombie. (More details to come!)  


Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Revenge of the Creature (1955) - captured and sent to an aquarium, the gill man, after seeing another lovely, escapes and kidnaps her.
The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) -in this version, he's turned into an air-breather, and being unhappy, escapes again and wreaks havoc.
IMDB says there is a remake in the works but no information is given.

NEXT: Monster Week - The Mummy - Vampires - The Thing - Godzilla

Creature from the Black Lagoon TV Spots:

Spooktoberfest Short Story 2

A reminder: The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.

The party's underway at Dani and Jax's SPOOKTOBERFEST! over at Entertaining Interests. The fun goes from Oct. 25-28 and features short fiction based on a photo and using at least three particular words. Here's my second entry. The first story is here.  (Somehow I ended up with similar themed, almost linked stories...)

Three words had to be used in the story from the following list. Mine are in bold in my story.

(478 words)
By C. A. Verstraete

The night started out decent enough. We got to the bar and I had to admit, they'd done a great decorating job. Lots of cobwebs and dust. The bartenders looked eerily pale in the dim light. Cool potion bottles and oddly colored liquors lined the bar's shelves.

"This is great! Where'd you find this place?" I asked Mark.

He shrugged. "Heard about it at a party. So, what do you want to drink?"

I laughed. "What else? I'll have a Bloody Mary."

"A Bloody Mary and I'll take a shot of that purple potion," he ordered.

We clinked glasses and shared a kiss. "How's your drink?"

He laughed and nibbled my neck. "Purple."

"I'm glad you suggested this place."

He took my hand and kissed it. "Hey, if you think this place is cool, wait'll you see the little cottages they rent out. We can spend a nice, quiet evening by the fireplace, just the two of us. What do you say?"

I smiled back. "I'd like that. Let me finish my drink first."

We chatted and ordered a couple more drinks. Mark laughed at the bartender's warning about mixing the green and purple potions. "Oh, yeah, what'll happen? I turn into an alien or something?"

His expression made me laugh as he downed the green shot. 

We finished our drinks and headed outside, but not to our car like I'd expected. Instead, Mark pointed to the dark thicket of trees. "We have to walk. It isn't far."

"Really?" I grimaced, but followed him. 

What a wretched idea! We'd gone barely a few feet when Mark pulled a small lantern from his bag and turned it on.

"Stick close," he warned. " Watch for tree roots."

Too late, I stumbled and cursed as my toe hit something. I tripped again. I should've known better when he said cutting through the woods was a shortcut. What an idiot I was!

"Mark, where is this place?"

"Not far. C'mon Mattie, don't be a wimp."

"Wimp? You're kidding, right? You expect me to traipse around some haunted forest in sandals?"

He grunted behind me. I cursed when the light went out. "Mark? Hey, where's the light? I can't see anything."

No answer.


I fumed. He'd turned into an inconsiderate jerk ever since… Wait. The bartender had warned about the potion bottles at the bar!

I fumbled around, finally found the lantern, and switched it on. "Mark, where—?"

Screams replaced my words.

The lantern held high, I stared at Mark—or what was left of him. 

His skin had a purplish sheen. Big green spots dotted his face. His eyes bulged. Ant-like antennae flicked above his head.

When he slithered towards me, I turned and ran back to the bar, hoping I was going the right way, hoping the bartender had some kind of antidote…or a gun…or something.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Coffin Hop 2013!

Oct. 24-31!

A reminder - we're participating in the 2013 Coffin Hop Blog Tour - a great bunch of horror artists and writers. Be sure to check out all the blogs on the tour! We'll have monster posts here next week, so be sure to come back!

 *** A Halloween Treat: 
Get a free Kindle copy of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie! 
Please put a review on Amazon and Goodreads!  *** 

 ** Kick back, have a glass of special Halloween wine, mmm,
 then stop by my website and see my Miniature Haunted House!  **

 ** Be sure to comment to win a copy of the DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology - and buy a copy to benefit literacy! 

COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75  artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.

2013 also sees the release of DEATH BY DRIVE-IN, a collection of stories from some of the best authors out there, as well as art from the legendary Nik Seizure, a special collectors edition of Robot Lincoln & Zombie Jackson, and an introduction by author, B-movie expert and cult filmmaker Scott S. Phillips. All profits to benefit LitWorld and their excellent children's literacy programs

The book features an introduction by cult horror filmmaker, author and all-around pop-cult expert Scott S. Phillips, and a special cliffhanger episode of the epic comic book phenomenon – Robot Lincoln and Zombie Jackson as they face the sinister Dr. Acula and his steam-powered supermen!

The roster includes:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Spooktoberfest Short Horror Story

A reminder: The Coffin Hop Blog Tour continues! 
 Comment here daily through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology (& buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM  with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.

*** Today - A Special Giveaway: 
Get a free Kindle copy of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie! 
(Go back later if price isn't changed yet)
Please put a review on Amazon and Goodreads!  *** 


Today is the beginning of Dani and Jax's SPOOKTOBERFEST! over at Entertaining Interests. The fun goes from Oct. 25-28 and features short fiction based on a photo and using at least three particular words. Here's one of my entries. The second one will run Sunday.

Three words had to be used in the story from the following list. Mine are in bold in my story.

The Party
(381 words)
By. C.A. Verstraete
I stopped at the bottom of the dark staircase and looked up, not sure this was such a good idea after all.

"Hank? Where are you? Quit playing games."

Once again, I'd fallen for one of my brother's wretched ideas. I should've known when we ended up traipsing through the woods to the old, abandoned Foreman mansion that he was pulling my leg. Again. "Hank?"


I screamed as the glow-in the-dark  skeleton bones on the front of his costume popped up in front of me. "Quit doing that, would you? Now where's this party? Are you sure we're in the right place?"

"Yeah. C'mon, chicken." He grabbed my hand and started up the stairs. "Mask on. Let's go!"

I pulled the sparkly fairy mask over my eyes, adjusted it to make sure I could see, and slid my hand along the wall as we took the steps one by one. "Wait, don't go so fast. Slow down!"

It seemed like every hair on my head stood on end as we made our way to a spooky, dark landing—and a wall. The hall went in two directions. I grimaced and let go of Hank's hand to brush away a spider web, my patience fading.

"Okay, wise guy, which way? You could've brought a flashlight, you know?"

He grunted behind his glowing skeleton mask and grabbed my hand again, leading me to the left. I stumbled over something and tripped, but still he went forward. I stumbled again. Relief filled me at sight of the light behind the door ahead. I couldn't wait to sit down with a cold beer.

I reached for the doorknob and cursed at the sound of scuffling behind me. Darn him. "Hank? Quit goofing off. I’m tired of standing here in the dark."

The door creaked open and bathed the hall in light. I turned and stared, my mind not comprehending the dark pool at Hank's feet. "Hank? What's wrong? Why is your costume torn?"

With shaking fingers, I lifted his mask and began to scream. He stared at me from eyeless sockets, the blood dripping down his face like tears.

I backed up, unable to escape. My mind went mercifully blank as skeletal arms and bony hands reached for me through the shredded remnants of his costume. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Containing the Zombie Outbreak

(A reminder: Today begins the Coffin Hop Blog Tour
 Comment through Oct. 31 to win a copy of the new DEATH BY DRIVE-IN Anthology & buy a copy to benefit literacy! ) New posts here daily to 10/31!
COFFIN HOP runs October 24-31 at WWW.COFFINHOP.COM with more than 75 artists and authors, partying it up, bringing the treats and the tricks to an online audience of thousands.

Most zombie movies and books nowadays assume the zombie outbreak will happen so fast, we won't really have time to adapt and will thus be relegated to a defensive role of the double-tap and decap. (As if Joe Public could decapitate someone with one fell swoop of the sword.)  However, never in the history of Man have we had a contagion that moved that moved so suddenly. Even the Black Death, which was spread by fleas, didn't spread as quickly or thoroughly as did Zombieism in World War Z  (World War Flea, anyone?)  In fact, Cracked Magazine recently posted an article on the scientific reasons why a zombie apocalypse would fail--and quickly, too.  (I've loved Cracked since I was a kid, and now find they are both funny and the bastion of common sense.)

So what would happen if zombieism did follow a more realistic disease vector, even taking into account the propensity of the sick to die, rise quickly, and go out for a bite or twelve?  I approached Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator with this assumption.  Health organizations and governments across the world galvanized into action, not just with police and military skilled at shooting for hte head, but also procedures for identifying and avoiding zombies, reporting them, protecting yourself against them, etc.  I think, though, the singlemost effective procedure put in place was mandatory spinal severing upon death of anyone.  Essentially, decapitation, but subtle enough that Aunt Eadie doesn't faint at the sight of Uncle Gordon's head sitting half an inch off his body.

If you were in charge during the zombie outbreak and could take preventative measures, what would you do?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Horror and Fantasy Titles for Halloween

It was a great time at the Racine, WI Barnes and Noble's Horrorfest last Sunday. I got to meet a great group of impressive writers and thought I'd introduce you as well to them and their work. (See links at end.)

 (** Check out my ZOctober interview at My Book Addiction - sign in to win a Kindle copy of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie)

If you don't like spiders, stop reading, but if you do, you'll be missing out on one incredibly-creepy-read in Bram Stoker Award-winning author John Everson's latest (and seventh) book, VIOLET EYES, (Oct. 1, Samhain Publishing).

He said it was time to switch from the demonic horror he'd been doing… "So... spiders!," he said.

The small town near the Everglades was supposed to offer Rachel and her son a fresh start. Instead it offered the start of a nightmare, when an unknown breed of flies migrated through the area, leaving painful bites in their wake.

The media warned people to stay inside until the swarm passed. But the flies didn't leave. And then the radios and TVs went silent. That's when the spiders came. Spiders that could spin a deadly web large enough to engulf an entire house overnight. Spiders that left stripped bones behind as they multiplied. Spiders that, like the flies, sought hungrily for tender flesh... through Violet Eyes.

A sample line: ".. The bugs had been worse than usual this summer… Now he was hearing that buzz. It wasn't the buzz of tinnitus, but of thousands of wings…"   (Yikes!!)

  * * * 

 W.D. Gagliani had a good reason for choosing to write about werewolves instead of vampires when he began his series about Nick Lupo, a werewolf cop. The first book, WOLF'S TRAP, a Stoker-award nominee now re-released from Samhain Publishing, features Nick Lupo, a good cop--with the instincts of a great detective... or maybe a wolf. 

Lupo has a lot in common with wolves, which is only natural considering he's a werewolf. He's battled the creature inside him for years, but now there's another predator in the area. A bloodthirsty serial killer is leaving a gruesome trail of victims, and it's up to Lupo to track him down and stop the slaughter. Will Lupo dare to unleash one beast to stop another? 

He began writing about Lupo (never thinking it'd be a series) since "everything was vampires and I was just sick of vampires," Gagliani  said. "You get a sense that vampires just enjoyed being vampires. Larry Talbot (the werewolf in The Wolfman film) was just tragic. He didn't want to be the monster."

Gagliani admits finding a kinship with his character. "I always enjoyed the idea of him being unable to control his change," he said. "He's been a werewolf since he was a teen and he's only now (in his 40's) beginning to control it."

The series includes Wolf's Trap, Wolf's Gambit, Wolf's Bluff , Wolf's Edge and book five, WOLF'S CUT, coming in March 2014 from Samhain Publishing.

* * * 

Noted nonfiction author Linda S. Godfrey  has tackled everything from Haunted Wisconsin, to Monsters of Wisconsin and written about other things unexplained. Now she delves into that favorite Halloween character, the werewolf, in her latest book, REAL WOLFMEN: TRUE ENCOUNTERS IN MODERN AMERICA.

For Godfrey, a reporter turned choronicler of the mysterious, it's as fun as writing fiction, but "the beautiful part is there is nothing I have to make up. These things are being reported by real people. These are reports of things real people claimed happened to them."

The book offers the definitive account of today’s nationwide sightings of upright, canine creatures – which resemble traditional werewolves – and a thorough exploration of the nature and possible origins of the mysterious beast.

  Godfrey also has written her first fiction novel, an urban fantasy with touches of other genres called GOD JOHNSON: THE UNFORGIVEN DIARY: Straight-laced wannabe actress Liberty agrees to be the sole disciple of a minor deity and Abe Lincoln lookalike oddly named God Johnson, in exchange for a fast track to world-hunger-fighting-super-celebrityhood. As Liberty tries to give him her heart – and a certain portion of her aura -- she breaks his Major Rule which is that humans shall not play god with other humans. He then must abandon her to the other lesser deities for their sport until she pays for her sin or dies.

 By the time Liberty discovers what the gods really want from her, she knows that what she wants from God Johnson is worlds away from her original plan. She must either accept the considerable and attractive sacrifice God Johnson makes for her, or leave the natural world and create her own brand of do-gooder stardom as the glamazon goddess she has become.

* * * 

A big congratulations to Christian A. Larsen, whose first novel, LOSING TOUCH, (Post Mortem Press)  is catching attention—and includes a foreward by noted author Piers Anthony.

The short story writer-turned novelist describes the book as "Breaking Bad without the meth and with a superpower" and tells the story of a dad who finds he suddenly has the power to walk through walls, also known as "phasing through matter."

In LOSING TOUCH, Morgan Dunsmore feels like everything is out of reach-a paying job, a healthy marriage, and even a good bowel movement. He tries to protect his family from his  anxieties, not to mention their financial burdens, but that just pushes them away even further. And in the middle of it all, he starts to lose his tangibility.

He may be able to walk through walls, but that ability comes with a price. He has to learn not just how to control it, but how to use it without anyone finding out, not even his family. He doesn't want to become a circus freak or government test subject while providing for his wife and kids, but there doesn't seem to be any honest work for a man who can secretly phase through solid matter. The temptations, on the other hand--the temptations are endless, and when he succumbs to the first, the rest begin to fall like dominoes...

* * *

  Brian Pinkerton still smiles when he recalls his weekly childhood trips to the library. "My mom was a high school English teacher," he said. "My favorite memory is going to the library every week and I'd come home with a stack of books. I always enjoyed the act of telling stories."

He's been writing novels for 10 years and as a George Romero  ("Night of the Living Dead") fan, wanted to write a zombie novel but as "the genre was overcrowded," he took a slightly different approach in his book, HOW I STARTED THE APOCALYPSE (Severed Press). Chaz Singleton is a lone zombie battling for survival against a hostile humanity.  He holds the fate of the world in his hands, whether he likes it or not. He is dead. He is angry. He is contagious. And he is hungry.

** And coming soon… HOW I STARTED THE APOCALYPSE, Book 2.

"I thought, what about having the poor zombie against humanity," he explained. So, in his book, his character Chaz, is "the zombie in the house and the people want to run him out of town."

  He also took a different approach in his writing in his new book, "KILLER'S DIARY, (July 2013, Samhain Publishing.), a psychological horror novel about a woman who finds a journal and realizes the man she's dating may be a serial killer.

"I always had a fascination with the true crime books," Pinkerton said, wondering, "what goes on in people's minds that they can do these acts?"

* * *

  I also talked about my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie,  - the 2013 Young Adult winner of the Halloween Book Festival.

One of my favorite parts of writing about the main character, Becca, and her transformation into a part-zombie was creating some of the things she has to deal with in her new "life" like prejudice, bullying, feeling that she doesn't fit in... and there is the unsureness of just who she is and what she is becoming. 

But she's also strong, knowing that she still has a role (helping protect her family), and perhaps even a future... with a good-looking part Z named Gabe. 

But she's still a kid - with feet in both the present and the future... and no one really knows what is coming next.