Friday, July 4, 2014

Scares That Care Weekend Part 2

By way of getting started I need to address some things I forgot to mention in the first part of this blog.

1. Items for the Live and Silent auctions. When you entered the hotel from the back entrance you walked into an expansive lobby. In the center of this lobby was a large area that was cordoned off. Inside that cordon were several of the items being auctioned off. There was a very impressive display of artifacts from the world of horror, from yesterday and today. You can check it out by clicking the link above. 

Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the display, the closet I have is a shot of the cute guy from Saw, who allowed me to take a picture with him. The auction items can be seen behind us. The line you see was the line for Elivra aka Cassandra Peterson. Her hours were more limited than others so when she arrived she had a lot of people cued up to meet her. 


2. The Film Fest. There was an extensive, all weekend film fest that included short films and full lenght films that ran the gamut from gross out horror to comedic horror.  

3. Seminars and Demos. There were some really cool seminars and other interactive events as well offered throughout the weekend.

4. After hour events. Scarey-oke, the Not So Newleywed game, etc. So if you were stilled wired after the day wound up, you could attend these events at the hotel, it was like the Scares That Care after party. 

So on Saturday we were up early and darted out for breakfast at Hardees. A southern staple that we wish would venture up north to NJ because it is better than any of our other fast food chains. After breakfast my wife was tired and wanted to nap. Trying to be a good husband I said all right eventhough we wouldnt be getting to the conference until near eleven. While she napped I finished reading Diabolical Conspiracy, by Bryan Smith, an author I was dying to see later that day. 

We got there around 11 and I wanted to get over to see Wrath James White first. That was my goal. I have been a fan since sometime in 2008, when I stood by my door and ripped open my package for Dorchester and two books dropped out. I am not sure of the other one in that package, but Succulent Prey caught my eye, and I have been a fan ever since. At his reading on Friday, I asked about a particular book, which he said he had at his table. I never got around to seeing him Friday and wanted to grab that book if he still had a copy left. So we went directly to the celebrity room. What followed was like something out of a Benny Hill skit. We made a quick round through the room, I did not see him, and it isnt as though Wrath is easy to miss. he was not around. We then asked a staff member, and let me tell you, they were all easy to find, and very easy to offer assistance. While this particular person did not know the author by name they suggested the vendor room. So we dashed off there, again, nowhere to be found. Then another staffer said there are many rooms upstairs, perhaps he could be there. 

We dashed off upstairs and searched some rooms, becoming sidetracked by some ofthe venor, when a staffer in black Scares That Care outfit told me no, he was indeed in the Celebrity room, and we went off again. Along the way I did run into the man himself, Joe Ripple. I asked him, he pointed to the celebrity room, and was off to answer more questions and help other people in the blink of an eye. 

It was at that time I checked the program and realized that Monica O Rourke was doing her reading. Damn, Wrath wrote Poisioning Eros with her and she edits, and well, damn he probably was at her reading. I darted over to the rooms where the Author readings were. I knew the location well, after all I spent a lonely hour there the night before. i got there and it was empty. Damn, I wanted to attend her reading and forgot, and now it was over and knew that now, Wrath would be able to be located and he was. Finally. 


Low and behold there he was, behind his spot talking with Monica O Rourke. I felt like a knob having missed her reading looking for him specifically, and now there they were. I spoke with him about his books, his movie, Come Back To Me, based on Resurrectionist coming out the end of July, and asked to take a picture. 

I made my rounds now, stopping at Author tables, my wife harassing Kane Hodder again. At a previous con she had him sign her arm and it was tattooed on. He was very giving of his time, as usual, and took pictures choking her again. Its a thing, trust me. Sid Haig was very approachable as were all the celebrities or so it seemed from my wanderings. I did not actually go up to everyone though it was a very open and friendly atmosphere. We stopped by the Christine display and decided to come back, she was a popular guest and definely wanted to come back. 

After lunch I went to the Jack Ketchum, Thomas Monteleone reading. Mr. Monteleone read a story that is currently being published and Mr. Ketchum read from Triage. The reading was fantastic, both captured the audience and kept us riveted. The Q and A that followed was great as well. I wish there was a way to have an actual DVD of all the readings and Q and A sessions, or panel discussions. I would love to watch some of the things again, and relive them. I did mention this on facebook as I am writing this and was informed that a lot of celebrities have it in their contract not to have these things recorded. It was a nice idea while I had it.

That being said, I went around the vendor rooms with my wife a little more and saw some cool things for sale and spent some more money, One of the vendors had some really cool animatronic items that scared people who activated them. Like my wife, and the spider who leapt up at her. It was really fun. Trust me on that one. She found a creepy looking doll that talks when you squeeze its belly. And it says things that creep people out. My wife and I love it and she named her Annabelle Lee.

Play Video

It was now time for another panel that I was waiting for. Beyond Extreme: The Making of Sixty-Five Iron Stirrup Road. The panel was made of of Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Wrath James White, Monica O' Rourke, and Bryan Smith. The panel told the story of the making of the extreme piece of horror literature, that was a means to raise money for Tom Piccirilli who was befallen with medical issues. They managed to raise a nice amount of money for a fellow writer and friend, and produce a pretty kick ass book. The panel let us in on the secrets of the process of the massive collaboration, how it went off the rails on time, and what happened in between all of the madness. It was a great hour and time extremely well spent. 

 The best picture I have of the panel. It was difficult to get a shot of everyone at one time. Sorry Bryan Smith. 

Afterward, we decided to go have dinner and make sure we were up early for the last day. Sadly the weekend was almost over and we still had a lot more to see and do at Scares That Care!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Scares That Care Weekend Part 1

First of all I need to address, what is Scares That Care, so this is from their website.

1) Who are you and what do you do?
“Scares That Care!” Inc., is an IRS approved, 501(c)(3) charity. Founded in 2006, “Scares That Care!” to date has raised and donated over $50,000 to organizations that treat sick children and families in need. “Scares That Care!” is also proud of the fact that we are an all volunteer organization, with no salaries or paychecks issued to any staff member involved with the charity. If you’d like more information, please visit our home website!

Scares that Care Weekend

Now, Joe Ripple, founder and CEO of this great organization put together a "Scares That Care! Weekend" which gathered names from all aspects of the horror industry as well as amazing vendors. You can check out the list of talent that was on hand here for as long as the website remains active. 

My wife and I were going to attend for the three days of the con, starting on Friday the 27th and running until Sunday the 29th. While we did not stay at the hotel that hosted the con, we did stay nearby.

What follows are my thoughts, observations, and recollections from the weekend. This part of the blog, will cover Friday.

Author Brian Keene, had set up author programming. The authors who were in attendance did readings, signings, and appeared on panels. He also opened up programming to writers who were attending the conference as guests. I fit into this category and emailed Brian who programmed me into the event. I was to do a reading and signing with Nathan Barnes at 6 pm on Friday, and then, on Sunday, I would be part of a panel.

Driving down to Virginia, on a Friday during summer wasn't stressful enough, just add to the that the fact I had to do a reading at the beginning of the event. No problem...

Well, getting to VA was all right, despite the fact my wife lost her GPS and the mapquest directions were flawed. We used our smartphones to navigate the way and it had us do a couple of things that were moronic, to say the least. With all that we got to our hotel around three. We had ample time to check in, shower, and get ready for the con.

Five o clock on the dot, I pull into a spot, right near the rear entrance of the host Hotel, the Doubletree Hilton in Williamsburg VA, and dragged my wheeled suitcase full of my books inside.

My wife had insisted I order 100 copies for the event. I thought she was insane and wanted to get only 20 but decided instead on 50.

There were hosts in orange shirts outside to greet guests of the event. One led us inside, and directed us to the registration area where we were fitted with wristbands, given a map of the hotel, and a program for the event. I couldn't wait to flip through it and see my name in the itinerary.

I was then told by hosts where the reading room was and found it without incident. I wasted no time in setting up, displaying my book and getting comfortable. This involved me going over my reading again, so I would be spot on, or well, so I wouldn't make a fool of myself when I performed. After a short time fellow writer, Nathan Barnes came by with his books, and set up and we chatted briefly. My wife bowed out for some reason and decided to go shop and look for Kane Hodder or something. I wasn't really sure. Hell, I wanted to do the same thing. It was an exciting atmosphere, on the way to the registration desk I could see and hear the excitement spilling out of the Vendor and Celebrity rooms. I wanted to dive right in and see all there was to see, but knew that it would all be there after my reading. I thought that hopefully I wouldn't make a fool of myself and that maybe, I would sell some books. Well, the clock moved along as I was talking with Nathan, and it was soon 6 PM. We hoped there would be an onslaught of people trampling over themselves to get to the reading, well, not really, I mean, I thought a few people might come in within a few minutes but there it was five past the hour, when DEATH himself walked in.

 
 I thought that was a sign. Death was rather friendly, gregarious, and promised me he would pay me a visit later. I hoped it was much later. The hour wound down and no one came to our reading, though a woman wheeling a stroller wandered in. Her child sat inside chastising her mother for scaring her and she was wearing over-sized blue tinted glasses on her small cherubic face. The mother spoke to Nathan who was able to sell her a book. The woman came over to me. Now was my chance to shine! Sell a book and win a new fan! She asked me about my book, I told her, and she frowned.
"Oh I am sorry. I like zombies." With that she wheeled her little darling out of the room, and with her departure, departed any hope that night of selling a copy of my book. 

I gathered my stuff, but not quickly enough. The room was booked at 7, and an author whom I read, and wanted to see was going to do a reading.

ENTER THE WRATH

Wrath James White entered the room a minute or two early, and with him was his son, Sultan. They have put together a book of novellas in which they wrote together. This was one of the events I was looking forward to. I moved myself and my suitcase, now feeling more like the chains of Jacob Marley, than the light airy promise of new fans and sales, to a seat in the front.

Wrath James White is a tall man with a big presence, and even bigger smile. He is the author of extreme novels such as, Succulent Prey, Pure Hate, Sacrifice, To The Death, and the latest 400 Days Of Oppression. His work is not for the meek, easily terrified, or for that matter, queasy. He writes a story that grabs you by the throat and throttles you until the very last page. I was so excited to be able to hear him do a reading. 

Wrath and his son Sultan were going to read a selection from their collection of novellas, Something Terrible. Wrath started and his reading started off like a kick to the head, and continued with a barrage of quickfire blows to the psyche. It seemed like classic Wrath, and I couldn't wait to actually hear more. Then, Sultan stepped up to the mike, and it was more of the same. I thought his style might be bit tamer, or less, I don't know...less Wrath like? It was solid and relentless, and seemed to flow nicely from from the first selection read by his father, to the one he delivered. Again, at the end I was waiting for more, and cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Something Terrible.

Afterwards they did a Q and A and it was interesting to see a personal side of a writer that you have followed for many years. It was clear that both share their love and talent for the craft. After my first hour of being a big disappointment with having no one show up for my reading and having to lug my suitcase of books around, I was happy and new that this conference was going to be great.

At 8 I decided to track down my wife, and thought that she would be in the vendor room. The room was expansive, and had many tables, and displays, and I could see how someone, like my wife, could have been occupied for hours in there. I went around looking for her, not really taking anything in, and spotted her. She showed me her booty for the time she spent wandering the vendor room. At the time I did not realize it was only one of the areas that there were vendors. It was the large banquet room and I thought wow, this is big, but there were several other rooms located directly above that; which we would discover the next day. She had bought some jewelry, and a DVD by a young filmmaker named Mike Lombardo. The film was called The Stall, and they were showing it there at the venue the next night. The DVD was signed and it looked kind of campy and cool.  Part of the deal was, you buy the DVD and you get a chance to win the tentacle from the movie. Not sure what that meant at the time but it seemed like a cool thing to win. Hoping not to get lost in vendor room and find some food, I guided my wife from the room into the lobby, where we went into the lobby and grabbed a bite to eat.

Food, at the event, was available to everyone at decent prices. They were called grab and go stations and they had them in the lobby. Food was good, fast and inexpensive, and you did not have to leave the venue, or dine in a more expensive hotel restaurant, which was on premisis if you chose to do so.

After eating and sitting with my wife for a smoke outside, we went back to our hotel. It was almost 9, I had driven near 400 miles and was exhausted. Especially after my reading. Well, my non reading. I had not gotten one signed book, or even ventured near the celebrity room, but I new I had two more days. This was just the end of the first one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Reading In General

I read an awful lot. I always have, and it looks life I always will. I tend to read fast, and sometimes, it just isn't fast enough to be able to devour all that needs to be taken in at any particular moment.  When I was younger I sometimes kept lists of books I read, but as everything tends to go, I forgot, or got lazy and the lists went by the wayside.

Last year and this year I have taken to Goodreads to accept their book challenge. I challenge myself to read a certain amount of books a year and so on. This has also allowed me to write some reviews, as well as an even great opportunity to be able to look up and recall the books I have read during a certain year. This is an invaluable tool, since last year I read well over 200 books, it becomes difficult to recall them all. However, with this tool, I can look at the books I read, see the cover or read a blurb and it all comes back to me.

So what the hell am I getting at? Well, good reviews. It may seem that I only write good reviews. That may be the case and it certainly looks like it if you would scroll through all my reviews. But there are many books that I do not finish, some I get half way through and others I get about a third or even less than that. Those books I do not write a review for. The only exception this year, so far, was the Andrew Grant book which I made it to the 70% mark but could soldier on no farther. I wrote a review for that one.

Other books so far this year include, Orange is the New Black, which I may go back and finish, Cover by Jack Ketchum. The intro to that novel has got to be one of the best pieces of writing I have read from him or many other in a while, but the novel itself didn't click for me. (I will make sure not to mention it when I meet him at an upcoming convention) There are many others. I may get back to them, I may not. I may pick one of these abandoned books years from now and wonder why I never finished it before. At any time, any age, we are different readers. With each book we grow, evolve, change, and the same can be said for each book we choose not to read, and the reasons why we choose not to read them.

What makes us "Abandon" a book? Interesting term. An educational term, of which I am fond of, though not all educational terms are as useful. As a child we were told if you can count on your fingers the words you do not understand and you reach all five fingers before you are done with a page, then it is not a book for you to read. That never worked. I would have one or two, and maybe three at most, even in the adult book section. (no not that kind of adult book) So what are my criteria? Well, early on, it would be a book that I would read at the dinner table. One that I would read outside on the stoop. One, when my bedroom light blew out, that I would read in the bed with a flashlight. Get the picture? Now, well, well now that time is a premium, and as we all get older that is a sad fact of life, I cut books loose at a faster rate. If my attention wanders to anything in the world outside of the book, or I feel compelled to do some work, pay some bills, surf the net, well then I abandon it. If I find the work derivative, or blatantly copy another work, I toss it aside.

There are far too many books in the world to waste your time on one that does not suite you. If no more books were ever written, and what a sad thought that would be, then I still would not be able to read and reread all the books I want to be able to read in my life time.

My Kindle is full. My storage unit is filled with mostly books. My apartment, has well, my wife, two cats and a ton of books. Reading and books themselves have always been important to me, and no matter how many textbooks I had in school or during college, I always had  a book to read or two that were just for me, for my reading pleasure.

Reading pleasure. Reading is a pleasure.

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Debut Reading...Countdown....

Trying to hone down what to read for Scares That Care. I decided to go with a plot passage, and a horror passage. Not the most interesting. I was originally going to read the back which I had written when the book was published in order to give someone who picks it up, or happens to click upon it on Amazon, a good idea of what the story is about. Problem is, there is some erotica to the novella, and while that is not the problem, me reading it out loud to fans may be. How much is too much smut? Too much gore? I would think that in a horror convention, there wouldn't be anyone too squeamish, but what about sex? Usually, I don't like excessive sex in what I read, unless, that is what the story calls for. A lot of horror calls for it, and that is fine. Other times it is gratutious, but what can you do?

I guess I am getting away from myself here. I am trying to keep my intro and reading to ten minutes. I am sharing the floor with fellow writer Nathan Barnes, and after our readings we get to sign and sell for the remainder of the hour. If we keep our readings under 15 minutes, that will leave 30 minutes for us to shmooze with potential new fans, and hopefully sell some books. So what is the hook? Hmmm. I know my book is has good, strong writing. Extreme horror. Sex. Violence. Blood. Gore. And what I think is most important. A good story.

Now, how to convey that in a ten minute reading.

I am glad, in a way, that I am going on at 6 on Friday next weekend. This way, it will be over and done with and I can enjoy the rest of the weekend. Hopefully I can sell some copies of my book, so I can spend more money on books and autographs from some of the amazing celebrity guests that will be in attendance. I cannot wait, to get down there. Only 6 more days.

I better get cracking and rehearse my reading.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Counting Down to Scares That Care...

Getting my reading ready for Scares That Care. I go on at six pm with fellow author, Nathan Barnes. You can see the compete itinerary here: Scares That Care Author Program

Aside from the reading and signing of myself and some other new and celebrity authors such as Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, and Wrath James White, the weekend will be packed with greatness. Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, the cast of Christine, the cast of Fright Night and vendors galore.

Also, there will be a silent and live auction where there are many insanely cool items up for bids. 

Looking forward to seeing you there, and hopefully signing a book for a few of you. 


Monday, May 5, 2014

Countdown to the Scares That Care Weekend!

Scares that Care Weekend

"Scares That Care!" is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides money, toys and other items to help sick children. We have two other programs consisting of "Scares For Pairs," where we help women fighting breast cancer and partnered with horror icon Kane Hodder for the "I Helped Kane" program, where we provide assistance to those children who have suffered serious burn injuries.

The last weekend in June, Friday the 27th, Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 29th, your favorite horror icons descend upon the Williamsburg, Va Doubletree Hilton for the Scares That Care Weekend.

On hand will be Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, a Christine reunion, a Fright Night reunion as well as many other horror icons. Also in attendance will be some of my favorite horror authors such as Brian Keene, Wrath James White, Jack Ketchum and many more. Aside from the talent and contests and vendors, there will be silent auctions as well as live auctions for some amazing memorabilia. 

Now for a personal note. I will be making my convention debut on Friday the 27th at 6 pm. I will be doing a short reading followed by a signing. You can hear an excerpt from my novella Lust as well as purchase it with an inscription of your choice. I will also have news of my latest work.  Sunday I will be part of a panel discussion about, well, lets just keep that up in the air for now, something to look forward to if you will. 

The charity is a great cause, there are going to be great guests, some awesome items up for auction, reunions, and an amazing amount of fun to be had. 

I hope to see all of you there, and following the events I will be blogging about it as well. 




Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bizarre Bites....Yuck

I guess it was inevitable that Bizarre AC, and its first Horror Con, would also be hold to a thing that is known as Bizarre Bites. I thought it sounded cool, not really thinking my wife would want to eat there, but she did. Well, I guess I should have known she would have wanted to, but I guess, it was a situation that, as a man, I should have known better and kept it all hush hush.


The idea was cool, bizarre foods, but I was hoping the food would be normal, only made to look gross. Instead it was gross food, made to look appetizing. Here was the menu:

The Menu (Prepared by Chef Demetrios Haronis)
Peruvian Grilled Heart with Aji and Yucca Fries
 Pig Parts Ragu with Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese and Fresh Basil over Penne Pasta
Sea Urchin Sushi with Ponzu Sauce
Eel Sashimi with Kabayaki Sauce
Crispy Rocky Mountain Oysters with Cajun Remoulade
Tongue and Cheek Tacos with Housemade Tortillas, Cilantro, Tomatillo Salsa and Avocado Crema
Blood Sausage Sliders with Green Apples and Red Cabbage
Kidney, Belly and Steak Pie with Mixed Mushrooms, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and Red Wine Demi
Assorted Fruit Flavored Ant and Worm Lollipops
Now some of that doesn't sound too bad, but it really was. To me, anyway. The Sea Urchin, was not available however, much to my wife's dismay. The even, was held at the Top of the Trop where the high rollers usually get down, but for this event it was closed for a private event. Interestingly enough there is no bathroom facility in the high rollers club, either that or you have to be a high roller to gain entry. 
So, to keep things moving in a steady and linear fashion, after rushing from the showing of Sparks which ran over, we made it to the elevators at 4pm on the nose, and there were a few people waiting for the elevator and I thought we were all headed for this particular event. That was not the case however, and only two others were headed there with us. A Neal and Annabelle from www.Withoutyourhead.com
They had overheard us, or rather I whining about the food, and they mentioned they were going there as well. Annabelle mentioned she was not going to even attempt to put bull balls in her mouth and I believe Neal said he was looking forward to the experience. My wife, wanted to try everything and she did. 
The elevator brought us quickly and when we exited we noticed there weren't too many people there and got inside quickly. We got a table and offered for our new found friends to join us. I took some Yucca fries and some pasta from the pasta with pig parts. My wife took a little sampling of everything. 
Waiters came around with a sampling of NJTW, which is New Jersey Toxic Waste. An interestingly green drink, that tastes good and packs a little punch. It was what I needed to wash down the pig parts and pasta I had slathered on my plate on my second tour up at the buffet. The desserts were great, they were normal little cake balls, and pastry puffs. I did not try the lollipops, but my wife took my portion to go. 
During the dinner, conversation was cool,we spoke about cons, horror actors and movies, in between this our dinner partners took out a camera began shooting a segment for their website on the food. We were entertained with a history of the blood sausage, and how the food tasted to the uninitiated, that being all of us there. 
Rafaela offered Neal a bit of advice, "Try the bull balls, with the remoulade."
While he liked the remoulade, he did not think it made the Rocky Mountain Oyster taste any better. 
Both of them reviewed most of the food and gave their comments and even panned to us for our reactions though I did not have my make up test done and may be edited out. 
In any rate the Bizarre Bites aspect was a fun one, not very well attended and from what I heard, and from my wife, the food was good, for the most part. Rafaela liked the food, I liked the desert, and we both loved the company. 
After dinner it was a quick trip to the room for my wife to have a smoke then on to meet one of her icons. Kane Hodder....
to be continued.