Annual Review (2018)

2018 was kind of a big year for me. I started 2018 in kind of a rut. I was feeling crappy about my skills as a writer. Not to mention my progress in my still very early career. It’s a silly feeling, but it’s a tough one to crack. Thankfully, I feel a little better now. I certainly made some good progress. I came out on the other side UNSCATHED.

NIC CAGE KNIFE

This Monthly Review will be a little bit different. I’ve tabulated the numbers and dotted the T’s to come out with this special edition of the Monthly Review. The last for the year (*cue dramatic music*). 

What am I proud of this year?

This blog!

I revamped and redesigned it. I started my Monthly Interview feature back in July, and I couldn’t be more excited about all the people I’ve interviewed so far. Writers and creators that I respect and look up too. Lovecraftian master Pete Rawlik. Dark horror maverick Kristi DeMeester. Michael Wehunt. Orrin Grey! Kelly (Nebula Winner!) Robson! I’ll continue to conduct these interviews, and learn about how the writing sausage gets made. It’s fantastic.

Three posts a month. That was my goal! I hit that every month, sometimes more. I wrote some pieces this year that I’m extremely proud of. If I had to pick a couple of favorites? I made-up a horror film festival and gave Richard Upton Pickman his very own profile. I also urge that you read every interview I posted. There is a lot to learn as a writer.

How about them numbers…

Submissions: 23

Acceptances: 3

Rejections: 18

Still Out in The Wild: 2

Those are some fun numbers! Look at that ratio! Three acceptances is lower than previous years, but I have gotten a bit more picky on where I send stories.

That was 2018! Thank you to everyone who chatted with me on Twitter or Instagram. Thanks to everyone who bought a book with one of my stories in it, or read any of my articles I posted here. We’re headed into 2019 right. Expect a writing goals article sometime in January.

My Favorite Things of 2018

2018 has been a wild year for entertainment. I watched a lot of brilliant movies, read some outstanding books/comics, and saw some TV shows that will stick with me for awhile. One of my favorite features that blogs do is talk about their favorite media from the year. The content that stood out above the rest! Instead of doing an individual article listing my favorites for each section of entertainment, I decided to just do a big article highlighting my favorites from each! I hope you enjoy this list and seek out some of these on here that you may not have heard of. Let’s start with a big one…

My Favorite Movie of the Year

Avengers: Infinity War

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Much like Thanos’ grand plan, my pick for my favorite movie of the year feels inevitable. Avengers: Infinity War is a massive beast of a film, cram packed with heart, humor and action. Marvel has been building to this movie for ten years and it shows. Thanos is the big villain we needed. He feels terrifying in a way no other MCU bad guy has before. This is some of the best work that this franchise has produced, and I can’t wait to see the next chapter.

Honorable Mentions: Hereditary, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Bad Times At the El Royale, Halloween

Some great horror, and the utterly break-taking new Mission: Impossible. Bad Times At the El Royale is the Tarantinoesque crime piece that I didn’t know that I needed.

My Favorite Video Game of the Year

God Of War

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This was the hardest decision I made for this list. We had several masterpieces that came out this year, and I did my best to play them all. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an utterly engrossing Cowboy Simulator with some of the characters of the year. Marvel’s Spider-Man is the best superhero game since Arkham City. Celeste is beautiful and stupidly tough.

But God of War beats them out. While it doesn’t have a massive open world or the ability to fly through New York City, it has a pitch perfect story and combat mechanics that have to be played to be believed. Kratos’ axe is the best video game weapon of the generation. Nailing a skeleton in the chest and then recalling your axe so the skeleton explodes had me grinning. Added bonus: my wife and I said, “Boy!” in a Kratos voice for months after I finished God of War.

Honorable Mentions: Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Celeste, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

My Favorite Book of the Year

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

the grip of it

While I didn’t hit my lofty reading goal from last year, I still got a chance to read some FANTASTIC books this year. I got two new books by my two of my favorite authors (Orrin Grey AND Laird Barron) and enough novellas to fill up a potentially haunted house.

Speaking of which… What was my favorite book this year? It’s easily Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It. Jemc finds a whole new dimension to the haunted house story. It’s as much about the house as it is about the characters. The married couple of this story are destroyed by the terrors of their lives. Maybe? It’s not clear but that’s where the power comes from.

Honorable Mentions: Guignol and Other Sardonic Tales by Orrin Grey, The Human Alchemy by Michael Griffin, Blood Standard by Laird Barron

Happy 2018 everybody.

 

Edge of That Abyss: Looking Back at Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

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The fact that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm turns 25 this month blows my mind. It feels like such a massive part of my childhood. Because I was born in 1993, this was obviously not a theatrical watch for me. I owned a beatdown clamshell copy that I spent a lot of time watching and re-watching with our dusty ole’ VHS. It was that and Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero that gave me Batman fever.

But I always preferred Mask of the Phantasm. This was the best Batman movie of the time, and it wouldn’t be matched until Christopher Nolan came along to change everything.

But why? For starters, it was a feature length sequel to the always incredible Batman: The Animated Series. Same voice cast, same writers, same wonderful world. It’s noir chic and German expressionistic influences made the show’s look iconic.

The Animated Series had some stellar episodes. I don’t need to tell you that.  But Mask is special. By giving us a big screen love story for Batman, we get to see the inner thoughts of Bruce Wayne. His fears. His regrets. Batman/Bruce is famously mopey. Thankfully, Mask gave us a reason for the moping other than, “My parents are dead”. The Phantasm is a formidable villain with an incredible design. Part Grim Reaper, part Dickensesque apparition. Over 76 minutes, we are given a heck of a Batman story. We’re shown his origins, his first doomed love, and a legendary battle with the Joker in a decrepit World’s Fair.

Batman Mask 1

It’s honestly all very impressive. This was our first big screen Batman that had dimension. Couple that with sterling animation and a cast that still remains iconic to this day, you get a super hero classic. This is a Batman film for the ages.

 

New Story: ‘Atmospherics’

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New story alert!

My story ‘Atmospherics’ is featured in Volume 3 of Déraciné Magazine. This is a story I’m very proud of. It’s very experimental, and plays heavily with images of the surreal.

This issue dropped today, and I’m featured with some very talented writers. The link here will take you right to where you can download it… Free of charge!

Monthly Review (November 2018)

It’s November, and there is snow in the air. This month was a festive whirlwind of dead leaves and lots and lots of turkey. I ate too much, and enjoyed a lot of time with family. What’s new with me? Well, let’s start with the obvious…

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 1

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 3

Acceptances: 0

Rejections: 0

While these numbers were dismal this month, I did put some finishing touches on a new story that I hope to send out soon. I’m also doing edits for a story dropping next month. More to come on that…

What else have I been doing?

An interview with author Kelly Robson!

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November’s Author Interview was with Nebula Winner Kelly Robson! She was just as breezy and fun with her interview answers as she is in her incredible fiction. During her interview we talked about her newest works, some stellar writing advice, and who she’d want to hang out with on a deserted island. You know… normal stuff.

A Review of Michael Griffin’s ‘The Human Alchemy’

The Human Alchemy

I read Michael Griffin’s new collection a couple of month’s ago and LOVED it. Here are some of my thoughts on the book.

I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving! Next month is the last month of the year (!), and I’m not sure if I’m ready for 2019. But much like death or taxes, it’s coming anyway. Here we go…

 

Monthly Review (October 2018)

Happy Halloween! In a few hours, kids will be descending onto the streets for candy. They’re be dressed as ghosts and ghouls of every shape and size (as well as the odd Fortnite character for some reason). The dead autumn leaves will scrap across the sidewalks and the Jack-O-Lanterns will be glowing brighter in the expanding dusk.

This month was positively packed for me. Several deadlines for stories, lots of movies to watch, and, in my spare time, some books and video games. It was wild! It was October.

Let’s start with the important stuff.

As I’m sure some of you have noticed, I’ve delayed the release of HUNTER. It was set to be released on the 23rd of October. I decided to hold it close to my chest for a couple weeks more. It won’t be out in time for Halloween (obviously), but it will still make good reading in November.

Next order of business in this October council is of course story submissions:

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 4

Stories Still Out in the Wild: 2

Acceptances: 1

Rejections: 1

nic cage vampire

Acceptance! Hurrah! This one is a story I’ve been shopping around for years. It’s a strange little beast, and I think it is as unique as any snowflake. Like usual, I can’t share to many details on the acceptance, just know I’m excited and you should be too. This will put me at 20 published stories! I’ve been publishing for five years, and I’m happy with that average. Hopefully the new stories still out will be as successful.

What Else Have I Been Doing?

An interview with author Orrin Grey!

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Orrin Grey is one of my top ten favorite authors, and his newest collection (Guignol and Other Sardonic Tales) came out earlier this month. I interviewed him in a special October edition of my monthly Author Interviews! Next month’s interview will be with Nebula Winner Kelly Robson!

My story ‘The Mouth That Opens’ will be featured in Sanitarium Magazine!

I mentioned an acceptance in August’s Monthly Review and here it is in all it’s glory! It was supposed to be released this month, but it may come in the next week or so. It will be in the first issue of the recently revamped Sanitarium Magazine (both digital and physical). This is my first time being published in a magazine, which has always been a hard market to crack. It can be VERY competitive, and I’m extremely happy to add this new publication to my shelf! Once this guy is officially out, I’m going to push it out to some ‘Best Horror of the Year’ anthologies. I think it has the power to hang with the big boys.

Some articles! And a free story!

The Noble Horror Film Festival (2018)

Suspiria

Twitter challenge turned fun article topic. In this one I break down what my dream all night October film festival would look like. (Spoiler alert: John Carpenter’s Halloween is totally on here).

Tim Burton Spook Music: An Ode to Destiny 2’s Halloween Event

Destiny 2

Playing horror centric video games is one of my favorite October activities. This year I change things up and play something a little more spooky fun than run-and-hide scary. Destiny 2 is a great game that has a lot of problems. But their Halloween event is very good.

Free story! Halloween Freaks.

”The houses on Packard Street no longer celebrate Halloween.”

Free story! I wanted to write something short to conjure up those spooky Halloween night feelings. I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope you enjoy it.

Tomorrow begins our push into November. Keep tuning in and I’ll keep doing my best to bring the horror and the fun. Eat some candy everybody. Enjoy your favorite movies. Halloween is almost over.

Tim Burton Spook Music: An Ode to Destiny 2’s Halloween Event

I have a soft spot for a good horror video game. Earlier this year, I jump-scared my way through Resident Evil 7. I played and was subsequently terrified of both Outlast games. Even games like Dead Space (a perfect blend of atmosphere and tense combat) and Bioshock (my favorite game of all time, don’t @ me) are perfect replays once September ends. This year, I intended to play through Bioshock again, which has served as my October tradition for quite some time.

But this year was different. I was swarmed with great games! Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey had my attention for awhile. Red Dead Redemption 2 is literally two days away. Those, coupled with the fact that I’m working a book AND trying to absorb all other kinds of spooky media, my old favorites didn’t have time to sneak in. All seemed to be lost…

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Then I heard about Destiny 2’s Halloween event. It’s called Festival of Souls, and it’s everything I could want from a game. My love/hate relationship with Destiny 2 is particularly strong. I love the game’s world and over-all flavor. The shooting feels good, and the music is some of the best music in gaming (once again, don’t @ me). But the game is also obtuse and disrespectful to your time in ways that few other games are. It’s community can be toxic and elitist in the worst possible way. While playing through a Raid earlier this year, I met some of the worst people I’ve ever had the displeasure of gaming with. It soured my experience with this beautiful mess of a game. I deleted it off my PS4 and moved on to other games, with no intention of playing D2 again.

And yet, here I am.

I couldn’t help but see details about the event on social media. A month long event where you don masks of famous Destiny NPCs and dive into a creepy simulation called The Haunted Forest. The rewards range from the interesting to the irresistibly spooky. As you battle randomized enemies, you’re hunted by Destiny 2’s version of a slasher villain. This axe wielding creature lurks in the darkness of the level (you can only see via your Ghost’s light) and can one-shot you with ease once he spots you. It’s Halloween done Destiny style, complete with unique Tim Burton spook music in the Tower and a seemingly endless grind for stylized loot.

From Bungie/Activison

Delving into this level with two other random players and battling the darkness together is totally wonderful. It doesn’t have the frustrations or challenge of something like a Raid. But in this busy and spooky month, I’m okay with that. I just want to don a mask and shoot some aliens. I hope Bungie makes the Festival of Souls an annual event.

I’ll be there next year for sure, my Horror Story rifle in hand.