My Story

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Adam: A Brief History
I sit down to write this blog post on the day before one of my family’s annual traditions that I look forward to every year: our nationally recognized holiday (not really, but what do they know?), Christmas Adam.
            Named for the fact that according to my father, “Eve got too much credit”. It has been celebrated on December the 23rd for as long as I can remember. In my writing, you would be hard pressed to find a character who doesn’t mention the holiday; that’s how much I enjoy it and how much it has become ingrained into what I view as the holiday season.
            So what are the traditions of this event, you are no doubt asking? If it involves you, Wile E. Young, it must be suitably epic and mind-bogglingly eccentric.
            The truth is somewhat tamer, but no doubt eccentric. You see, the point of the holidays no matter who you are or where you’re from or what you believe, is to spend time with those that matter to you the most… your family.
            Well what about your friends that are as close as family?
            My family has a lot of those and we thought it was only appropriate that once a year we should all gather and celebrate as family, and celebrate we do.
            Everyone wears pajamas (which for me usually involve a bathrobe, some form of satirical Christmas shirt, and Santa hat), eats breakfast food (pancakes and bacon), and watch every single hilarious Christmas movie we have in my (rather copious) collection.
            It’s fun, it’s heartwarming, and it gives me the chance to see everyone that I don’t get to see often enough.
            Of course, not everyone is able to attend every year, whether it be due to distance, work schedules, plans with their own family, or aliens landing in their airport and ruining everyone’s Christmas arrangements (go read the Terminal by Amber Fallon, like right now).
So while I’ve had a miniature Christmas Adam party that took place on the 16th with my Oklahoma City people, it still wasn’t able to encompass everyone that I wish could have been there.
There are so many people I could list, but then all of you would just be reading names for the next ten pages. So for those of you who support me and read this along with my writing and care about me enough to call me a close friend, know that you are always welcome in my home and at my table, from all around the world (European friends I’m looking at you), no matter what you believe or practice, no matter what you’re going through… you’re welcome at my celebrations if I call you friend.
Who all does this entail? If you think I care about you even a little bit, then most likely you are on the list.
It’s a big family.

Wile E. Christmas Adam Plans
My father doesn’t know that I’m coming home this year… come to think of it no one knows I’m coming home this year. They think I have to work at the airport on the blackout dates. However, through loopholes, negotiation, and a little bit of luck, I have managed to get Christmas Adam, Eve, Day, and whatever name there is for the day after OFF.
Now I originally planned to simply drive up, get out of the car and surprise everyone just by walking through the door. Knowing me, this plan has swiftly spiraled into realms of absurdity that I haven’t explored in awhile.
Little known fact, but I used to sneak out of the house by shimmying off the top of the garage roof, and now in a bit of life coming full circle… I have decided to scurry up to the roof and come in through the balcony door. Thank the Lord for keys that never change.
So after I enter through the balcony door, I would slap the Kongos C.D. into the upstairs CD player and walk downstairs all black leather jacket, jeans, and confidence bordering on delusion.
Then I decided that this was simply too arrogant of me to presume that people would see this entrance as anything more than Wile E. Young fresh off of victory and looking to show it.
So I decided to dress up as Santa Claus instead.
Through the dark neighborhood I did scurry after ditching my car in an empty house driveway. I keep my Santa suit out in the barn, helpfully separate from the main house and from there it was a simple matter to acquire a ladder and scamper up onto the roof.
The party was in full swing inside and if I timed it right, everyone would be in the downstairs living room for the ornament exchange. Luckily my timing was impeccable. As I cracked the balcony door opened and slipped inside, I could hear the party in full swing downstairs.
I also heard the voices stop as they heard my footsteps echoing on the second floor, harried whispers of wonder as I walked down the stairs all smiles and bombastic Christmas miracle. No one had any idea who I was as I descended and a hushed silence pervaded everyone’s mood.
I’m just lucky that no one decided to shoot me; this is Texas after all.
Instead, when I took off the hat and beard my father cried and embraced me like he hadn’t seen me in years rather than the month or so since Thanksgiving.
It was a Merry Christmas Adam indeed.

Wile E. World News
            So if you haven’t noticed in the past few days, the world has had quite a few violent incidents that I don’t mind talking about in the slightest…
            BUT this is Christmas and I thought instead I would focus on the things that were good about this year rather than the bad, especially the great things that occurred. I place special significance to certain times of the year and focusing on the bad around this happy time just doesn’t suit me well.
            First and foremost, I met a woman named Emily and despite her protestations she is awesome and I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am right now without her.
            The second was meeting all the new friends I’ve made this year especially in writing circles: Brian Keene, Linda Addison, Tod Clark, Michael Huyck, Kelly Laymon, Dallas Mayr, Amber Fallon, Shenoa Carroll Bradd, Stephen Kozeniewski, Jeff Burke, Bryan Killian, Rachel and Jessica Deering, Richard Wolley, John Boden, Mary SanGiovanni, David Barbee, Danger Slater, Lisa LeStrange, and more.
            All of you continue to inspire me because you’re phenomenal people and I’ve been honored to count you as part of my life this year and that you allowed me to be apart of yours.
            Speaking of my writing career, I sold two shorts so far for this year with several others still in the frying pan waiting to see if they’ll be accepted or not. I know they aren’t novels or even novellas, but to a writer who hadn’t seen success in two years this was a big accomplishment and more impetus to keep moving forward.
            I can do this, I will do this, and people I trust and admire have faith I can do this.
            It’s a hell of a feeling to feel destiny, God, and the universe at work knowing that your time is coming; especially after the year I had previously.
            Here is to the coming year and the hopes that it will be even better.

Wile E. Reading List
So here it is, the top five books that I read this year.
1.     The Terminal by Amber Fallon
2.     Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering
3.     Jedi Summer with the Electric Kid by John Boden
4.     The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni
5.     Urban Gothic by Brian Keene
Honorable Mention for Poetry: How to Tell a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison
Honorable Sci- Fi Mention: Leviathan Wakes by James A. Corey
So if you’ve hung out with me for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about the Terminal by Amber Fallon (in fact I did so earlier in this very blog). It’s a gritty and pulpy tale of aliens invading an airport on Christmas Adam (it isn’t December 23rd and never will be). It’s stuck with me all year as a great pulpy novel and that is why it made the number 1 slot. She is working on a sequel that can’t come soon enough.
Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering was my second pick because it kept me guessing; a dark tale of PTSD mixed with horror, it gave me the chills as I read it. I highly recommend it if you want something that leaves you a little unsettled.
Jedi Summer by John Boden: I did a whole review dedicated to this book after I read it due to its wonderful use of nostalgia to transport us back to our childhoods. I remembered being a kid as I read this and again I recommend it to anyone who wants to read something that brings you back to the Golden Age of Childhood.
The Hollower by Mary SanGiovanni: now, admittedly I’m still reading this one, but that doesn’t mean anything because it is good enough to already be on my list of top 5. It is unsettling and inspiring for my current Work in Progress. The Slender man has nothing on the Hollower.
Urban Gothic by Brian Keene: now most of you thought that one of Brian’s books would make the top spot simply due to the fact that he is Brian Keene and you know of my admiration of him… and you would be right. However, I decided to be unbiased and give the top spot to someone else for no other reason than it would give everyone a surprise, including myself. Urban Gothic is not one of Keene’s wider read works and I admit that even I didn’t read it until this past summer, but I didn’t know what I was missing out on. Urban Gothic had me alternating between a wonderful tension, awesome action sequences, and unsettled fear.
I really hope he does a sequel.
How to Tell a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison is a collection of poems that are beautiful to read and anyone who celebrates and loves poetry should pick it up immediately.
It has been a great year for reading and I look forward to the next one, and even if you don’t pick up any of my recommendations (shame on you because you know I’m right), read something, anything. It broadens the mind.

Quote of the Week
Em the Slayer: I can stick both my feet in my mouth and more.
Wile E. Young (attempting not laugh)
Em the Slayer: You are such a child.

*Note: Em (as editor of this blog) would like to point out that this quote was taken unfairly out of context. Carry on. *

Writing Progress
The Admirer: 20,000 words
Interstate Eldritch: 21,000 words
Every Terrible Man: 500 words
New Short That Doesn’t Have a Title Yet: 1,000 words
            So that’s everything for the moment. The Adventures in Provo Part 3 is in the works and hopefully will be posted soon, but until then I think I will put on my Santa hat and chase the Roadrunner down the chimney.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote Coyote

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Facebook stalking to bring you Pt. 2 of my journeys in Provo, Utah at the 2016 World Horror Convention.
            Last time I left you with the tale of my arrival and how I met phenomenal horror icons (Linda Addison, Kelly Laymon, and Jack Ketchum) and how I was about to meet my writing inspiration Brian Keene.
            I’m sorry to leave all of you with a Walking Dead-esque cliffhanger, but now you will finally be able to see the conclusion after waiting with bated breath.
             So there I was, being introduced to the man who was my biggest influence in writing horror, whose work I read voraciously every time he released something new, and the person who had inspired me to become a writer myself.
            I had to do a double take as he walked out of the long hallway leading to the elevators while Kelly and I were just standing there (me probably looking like an idiot as I pretended not to be internally screaming like a groupie at a rock concert).
            Okay Connor, this is it. Be cool, be cool… don’t nonchalantly lick him.
            Kelly made the introductions and then politely excused herself and headed to her room (this was around midnight, so I didn’t blame her in the slightest) and that was when Brian Keene bought me a Dr. Pepper and we proceeded to shoot the breeze.
            It was a wonderful conversation and I managed to hold in the fact that he was basically the reason I became a writer and how much I admired his work until about halfway through the conversation.
            He asked about my own writing and I regaled him with the zombie novel I’ve been sitting on called Next Dead Air. He offered me encouragement and advice and unexpected enthusiasm about my ideas for future projects in the genre, and it was awesome.
            I can’t overstate the wonder of sharing sodas with your heroes in the middle of the night at an out-of-the-way hotel in Utah; it’ll change your life.
            Eventually the night got to us and we both bade the other farewell for the evening (Sidenote: Brian had been on the road all day and took the time to talk and encourage a young writer even though I know he was exhausted. His writing and fame aside, that’s the kind of impression that sticks with you… he told me in 20 years when I’m where he is now I better be doing the same).
            So I went to bed picking out the panels I wanted to attend the next day and pretty much riding my noble dream steed across a battlefield made of trampled rejection letters; I could keep receiving them, but I wasn’t going to stop and now I felt like I had a legitimate shot of continuing.
            I woke up to a knocking around 7:00 in the morning. The lovely Linda Addison had made a joke about waking me up that morning and I mumble-shouted at the door, “Linda, it’s too early. I’ll be down in a minute!”
            It wasn’t Linda though, just a very confused member of housekeeping. As she skittered away down the hall, I drug myself from a bed (I’m not an early-riser and for anyone who has seen me do so, I probably lope around and look as out-of-focus and low budget as a homemade Bigfoot video.)
            Finally I looked somewhat presentable (jeans and button up shirt... it’s either that or a tee shirt proclaiming something awesome) and I proceeded downstairs.
            There was a tour group leaving to go view one of the original printing presses in Utah and I found myself intrigued to learn something new, so I embarked on it along with Linda Addison and several other authors who were there for the convention including Joe McKinney (well known for his zombie novels that have an element of realism not seen in many others), and Darren Shan (author of the Demonata and the Cirque Du Freak series). Needless to say I felt like I had gone from my small fishbowl to walking with giants in the space of eight hours or so.
            The tour went well and I got to know both Joe and Darren in this walk, along with bonding with Linda.
            We returned to the hotel and the convention where upon we temporarily parted as I went to find myself some breakfast. Lo and behold, I ran into Brian who had emerged to take part in the convention activities himself.
            I told him of the morning activities after he asked what I had been up to and then he asked me a question I never expected: “Hey, I want to do a new author roundtable for my podcast. Would you like to be on that?”
I had been trucking along really smooth (I thought), making inroads and trying not to go fanboy on my hero… needless to say after that particular sentence I looked something like this…

            I, of course, accepted and tried not to do a Breakfast Club-esque fist thrust as both of us made our way to the named room (they had tree themes: Aspen, Birch, and Elm) where the opening ceremonies of the convention would start.
            Brian went off to interact with people he knew and I was left to my own devices. I took a seat (front row because I was an eager young author) and watched as the invited named authors of this convention took their places on the raised stage.
            I still dream of one day sitting on that stage with them.
            As I waited for the opening ceremony to begin, I did a small bit of Facebook scrounging to kill some time and I happened to notice something…
            Three years ago my second published short story, And the River Rolled was included in Sirens Call Publications anthology Fear of the Water. There were a lot of good stories, but one in particular stuck with me, one called Pool Shark by Shenoa Carroll Bradd. To this day, I’m jealous of that story and most likely always will be. The meat of the story is exactly what the title implies… a shark… in… a pool!
            When I was a kid I used to go swimming at a golf course about half a mile from my house called the Indian Hills Country Club. Now this being Atlanta, Texas where I once put a pregnancy test in some city water and it returned a positive result, the pool wasn’t exactly the most well kept. First time my hair was ever bleached and not because I wanted to make a statement.
            Still, I was 5 years old and didn’t care I just liked swimming. I remember that blue murky water and the fear that there was something swimming under there just waiting for me to jump in. Shenoa’s story brought that brilliant nostalgia back.
            Long back story and side anecdote short, I discovered that Shenoa was attending the convention as well and I made a mental note to seek her out. In the meantime, it was time for the opening ceremony.
            Titan of SciFi writing Kevin J. Anderson was also in attendance and as they introduced everybody it was like looking at some kind of modern pantheon. And here I was; the young student eager for any kind of knowledge that they were willing to lay on me.
            So the convention began and I was off to the races, eager to attend every single panel I could and therein lies one of the hardest things about these conventions… time and availability. You want to do so much and go to so many of the panels but some of them take place at the same time and you do have to find time to eat in between them.
            I found Shenoa at one of those panels and we became instant friends (that seemed to be a thing amongst horror writers, fast friendships, probably because we are all passionate about a corner of literature looked down on by the publishing world).
            Brian was on the same panel as the one I met Shenoa at and afterwards I asked him what time we were doing the podcast that weekend. He informed me that he was still looking for one person and I recommended Shenoa and in Sensei Keene’s infinite wisdom he decided to act on that recommendation and thus Shenoa was added to the New Author Panel Podcast for the Horror Show With Brian Keene.
            The New Author Panel consisted of myself, Shenoa Carroll Bradd, Richard Wolley, and Amber Fallon.
            As we helped ourselves to refreshments and got to know each other better, Brian set up his equipment but eventually we were ready to begin.
But for the more sensitive among you, I deliver a disclaimer that there is some language so take that into account before you listen to it.
I tell you if you ever want to feel inadequate as a writer, sit down in a podcast with Amber Fallon and Shenoa Carroll Bradd. Both of these phenomenal women blew me away at their accomplishments and how they carried themselves.
Richard Wolley, the other writer on the panel, became a fast cohort as both of us joked that we were going to cosplay as Master Blaster (that’s from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for everyone not in the know) at the next convention we attended. Richard also does a podcast that reviews films called the Jabber and the Drone which I would also recommend… seriously go check it out.

Going to leave a link for it right here for your convenience:

All in all it was fun, it was awe inspiring, and even now I look on those moments with fondness.
Alas, the fun and games came to an end and it was time for me to do what I had been borderline dreading since I had arrived in Provo, Utah… to pitch my work to potential publishers.
To all of you who know me, I usually fly by the seat of my pants. In fact on my tombstone someday it will probably say “I’m Going to Wing It!”- Wile E. Young (about something that he most certainly shouldn’t have winged). So here I was trying to put together something that sounded halfway decent.
Brian and Linda were busy on panels, but I found Jack Ketchum at the bar eating his lunch along with Kelly Laymon. We chatted about our day but I couldn’t resist asking them, “Guys I’m about to pitch my work for the first time… do you have any advice for me?”
And I distinctly remember Jack Ketchum putting down his fork, turning in his chair and looking me dead in the eye, smiling. “Here is your advice… go in there and kick ass.”
I have to admit that is some of the best advice I’ve ever received when it comes to winging things.
I waited outside a small room where my first pitch would take place (I intended to pitch Don’t Reel In.)
I took a deep breath.
They called my name.
And that will be in the third and final blog post that covers my time in Provo, Utah.
Keep that bated breath handy, but don’t worry, that post is already half way done and WILL be posted next week.

Literature in Review
            Over the summer I went to the beach as you may recall, and when I’m on the beach I like to read. This particular summer, I had picked up the Terminal by Amber Fallon. I met Amber at the World Horror Convention in Provo (which you obviously read about above) and was excited to read her novella.
            I really had no idea what was waiting for me with this particular piece of literature.
            The story begins in an airport (big shock) and involves a couple going home to visit parents for the Christmas holidays, reminiscent of virtually every holiday movie, but then is derailed when a sudden alien invasion happens.
            It gets worse as our hero struggles through the airport trying to find his way to freedom. This is where Ms. Fallon shines, her mastery of dialogue and her willingness to show the gore such a situation would obviously produce.
            The style of writing was highly reminiscent of Brian Keene and J.F. Gonzalez (two of my own biggest inspirations) and I found the book and the characters easy and fun to read.
            The problem is… it is a novella! I wanted more!
            Don’t let that dissuade you though, she is working on a sequel.
            In short, Terminal is pulpy, Terminal is gory, Terminal is compelling… Terminal is good!
Here is an Amazon link should you wish to purchase it:
and a little extra “encouragement” by way of the Hypnotoad

Wile E. World News
            Well it has finally happened… the day is finally upon us… the season finale of America. Hopefully it won’t actually be that bad, but I’m much more of a cynic than I used to be, so I can only prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
            Let your conscience guide you as you head to the polls. As for me, well… we had a 5.3 earthquake last night in Oklahoma that lasted for a good half a minute.
            Sometimes life provides us with omens whether we want them or not.

Quote of the Week
            Em the Slayer: You’re so warm!
            Wile E. Young: I’m like an industrial space heater of evil.

            Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll leave you with a writing update and wish you well as I set up my latest trap to catch the roadrunner.

Interstate Eldritch: 16,000 words
The Twitch: 500 words (out of 8,000).