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Friday, June 16, 2017

Every Kingdom Divided Review

I have met, befriended, and read several authors that I hadn’t discovered over the past year.
One of my favorites is definitely Stephen Kozeniewski, author of such novels as The Ghoul Archipelago, Braineater Jones, Hunter of the Dead, and Billy and the Cloneasaurus.
After meeting him I immediately knew that I had to pick up something of his work to dive into and sate my never ending love affair with the written word. After reviewing his bibliography I decided on Every Kingdom Divided a dystopian thriller depicting a 2nd American Civil War between the Red (Primarily the South and Midwest) and Blue (Pacific and Northeast Coast) states with political moderates called Whites stuck in between.
I know what you’re thinking “Wile you’re a horror novelist and love reading the same, why are you taking the time to read something like this?”
First of all, yes I love reading horror and writing the same but it doesn’t mean I haven’t aspired to write dystopian fiction akin to Mad Max or Waterworld, so if an author I respect writes dystopian fiction you know I will be reading it.
Second of all: I read this around election time and I felt like I was reading a possible window into the future.
A window that is heavily tinted with unending amounts of satire.
The novel revolves around Jack a doctor from Blue California who must travel across the entire mainland US in search of his fiancé who is a soldier in the Blue Army on the other side of the Divided States.
At least that is the adventure he claims to have undertook as he is interrogated by a Blue Commander under siege from approaching Red forces who wishes to execute him as a potential Red spy.
Jack’s story carries lingering hints of Homer’s the Odyssey if it was ground up in a blender, painted red, white, and blue, then bathed in a fresh dose of Americana. Jack’s trials continue to escalate and that’s when you see the true beauty of the novel and its point: extremism of any type is bad.
From Mexican armies attempting to reclaim former land, Mormon religious police enforcing strict morality codes, Red dogmatic conservatism, Blue hedonistic liberalism, and White shoot everything that moves because we’re the minority in the political structure.
An odd mix of Judge Dredd, Mad Max, and the tv series Jericho all wrapped up in a neat and nice package that shows an understanding of some of the flaws of our still united country and what we could possibly become if we allow ourselves to be divided rather than participate in the conversation understanding that some people believe in different things than we do… and that isn’t a bad thing.
I will admit that the ending felt kind of rushed but doesn’t detract from the novel at all and brings a resolution that I hesitantly hope will lead to a sequel.
A wonderful read that I would recommend to anyone who isn’t particularly hardcore about their politics and a great entryway to Mr. Kozeniewski’s work.

Sidenote: I live in Oklahoma and making Lawton the capitol of a totalitarian bible thumping regime was spot on brilliance. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Stokercon Recap


I’m new to the writing convention scene, that much is for sure.  I attended my first convention last year around this time-----World Horror Convention in Provo, Utah. As most of you who follow me on my Facebook, Blog, Twitter, and by the occasional smoke signals I send, know I attended Stokercon 2017 on the illustrious Queen Mary in Long Beach, California this past week and I feel it is time for a recap.’

If you don’t follow me on Facebook, Blog, Twitter and such, then shame on you but I’m willing to forgive for I am generous and wish for followers and support!

Writing careers can’t happen without readers after all.

So where was I… oh yes…

I arrived in Los Angeles and stepped out of LAX into a place that smelled vaguely of burned rubber.  Now, I’ve been to San Francisco and I loved it, thought it was extremely nice in fact.

Los Angeles was a different monster entirely.

As we drove through the crowded traffic, cloying air, and smog that obscured the mountain ranges that surround the city, I briefly wondered if I had left my world behind for something out of a less rain soaked Blade Runner or that huge slum from Elysium.

These feelings disappeared as I reached the Queen Mary---a huge ship that looked like the Titanic ---straight out of 1912 and right into Long Beach.  It was massive, it was retro, and it was going to be my home for the next few days.

I registered and checked into my room.  It was a suite and I felt like Kevin on Home Alone 2 as I saw that extremely comfortable looking bed and thought:  “Wow a huge king size bed just for me.”

That room was also haunted.

Turns out the Queen Mary is renowned for its ghost sightings.   My room had some strange things happen while I was there but if you want those stories, you’re going to have to ask me in person.

I dropped off my things and refreshed myself after the long flights before venturing out to explore.

I immediately reunited with my good friend and mentor Linda Addison who was staying in the same floor as me.   I hadn’t seen her since last July and it made my heart leap for joy to be hanging out with her again.

The deck that contained most of the promenades, restaurants, and conference rooms was one floor above where my room was and several publishers were out in force hawking their wares… so, so, so many books.

I bit into that hook line and sinker.

My collection expanded as well as my friends with selections from John Urbancik, Weston Osche, Scott Edelman, Erick T. Johnson, and Gene O’Neill.  I’m really glad that I’m not a drug addict because if my book buying habits are any indication, I would be the worst crackhead that ever existed.

Example:

Myself: You’ve got like 50 books you still have to read at home you don’t really need another…

Inner Me: Just one more… just one more… just one more…

I’m never able to say “no” to a book, though I suppose there are worse addictions.

I threw myself into the convention going to several panels and readings including: How to Do Collaborations, Editing: Is it Necessary?, Linda Addison’s Poetry Workshop, Creepypasta and the Formations of Modern Urban Myths, etc.

It was a fun time for sure and I made several new friends including the aforementioned.  I was also honored to meet Meghan Arcuri, Lindsey Barlow, Tish Jackson, Hal Bodner, R.B. Payne, Mackenzie Cox, Lee Murray, Chuck Wendig, Bill Bridges, Billy Ingreso, and Zach Snow (I’m assuming since he was cosplaying as Jon Snow), and Tom Montleone.

It was nice seeing my old friends who were in attendance as well.  I don’t see these people nearly as often as I should.

Now…….time for the events that were beyond interesting:

1. Convention buddies.

You usually find someone to pal around with at a convention but I’m a social butterfly and like to talk to everyone.  Besides Linda Addison (for this one), I had Gene O’Neill.

Gene was born in 1938 and has had what some would call an “adventurous” life.  I can only hope to reach his age and have half the stories he told me under my belt.   As well as published works, he’s won two Bram Stoker awards and is a phenomenal guy.

He also took a newbie like me and introduced me to everyone he knew.  He gave me a ton of advice from his own life and career, and just generally was my friend.

It was very humbling.

2. Scott Edelman and I began conspiring on epic prank calls and talked food.

3. Ghost Stories

On the deck of the Queen Mary I told ghost stories with two phenomenal people. Mackenzie Cox and Billy Ingreso.  (Guys if you are reading this, all I have to say was that was a thrilling time.)  I still break out in chill bumps a week later when I think about “Lily” and the “blood on the chair.”   If any of you want to hear those stories, you’re going to have to ask Mackenzie and Billy.  Maybe they’ll be gracious enough to tell you… if you think you can live with the nightmare.

Oh, we will definitely meet again next year to share more----no doubt.

4. Pitch Sessions.

One of the greatest things about conventions is the opportunity to get your work out there in front of publishers and show them just what kind of writer you are. I unfortunately didn’t know that there were pitch sessions when I registered for the convention.

By the grace of God, I managed to scrape and claw my way into two different pitching sessions. I can’t confirm anything yet but one session went incredibly well. A synopsis and sample chapters were asked for from me and *fingers crossed* they like it and the project will proceed further.

5. A Ride with Tom, Elizabeth, and Damon Monteleone.

The convention came and went and I found myself on Sunday morning checking out of the hotel with all the gusto of a dog lying under the hot sun.  I was not relishing having to return to my labor in Oklahoma City.

Despite the fact that I was looking forward to leaving Los Angeles, it still sucked that I wouldn’t see most of my friends here for several more months---if not an entire year.

I had scheduled an airport shuttle the previous evening and as I lugged my stuff downstairs, I sat glumly wondering what book I would start on first when I boarded my flight.

Fate however intervened and I happened to be sharing a shuttle ride with Tom Monteleone, his wife Elizabeth, and son Damon.

I’m pretty sure I paled when I realized who it was I was talking to----you see, the previous evening, he had won the lifetime achievement award and my own mentor looked up to him.

It was an incredibly pleasant ride to the airport and the conversation that followed was equally awesome.

Wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Now the good things are over and it’s time to talk about the bad things…

There is only one…

LAX…LAfreakingX.

Because I fly standby, I sometimes have trouble making flights due to people having been on this list forever and United Airline’s somewhat controversial policy of overbooking (4 out of 5 doctors still recommend us… too soon? HE GOT $50,000 DOLLARS I CAN MAKE JOKES!)

Long story short I was stuck in LAX overnight.  I slept on the floor, couldn’t brush my teeth, and had to endure crappy overpriced airport food.

I made it home the next day and collapsed from exhaustion.

It was a good trip.

Wile E. World News

Well North Korea has been causing noise again.

I would call them the world’s most hilarious dictatorship if it wasn’t for the human rights abuse.

This is the part of my blog that I like to call, “North Korea What Are You Doing?” Your country is like the sad kid still trying to dunk the basketball at the playground as the sun goes down.

Not to mention their leaders keep claiming to be gods and then they die, literally a dead giveaway there… oh well, I guess it is fun to watch their missiles fail every time they test them.

Enjoy this themed meme.



Interaction of the Week

Nefflix: I’m going to download the dark web.

Wile E. Young: Pretty sure you can’t download the dark web but if you manage to make it down there and get kidnapped I’m not paying your ransom.

Well that is all for now.  Time to work on some projects and paint a giant rock to look like a tunnel----think I have the roadrunner this time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Horror, Video Games, and You

What’s that you say? Wile E. Young has a new blog post that he is doing as a favor for a friend specifically because she needed video game articles? Well aren’t you excited on the other end of the screen? I know you’re jumping up and down and about to take to the streets proclaiming the news. Well before you get to that, why don’t you just sit down and read for a minute.

            Horror is undergoing a bit of a renaissance at the moment, not only in literature but in the film industry as well. Pretty sure Get Out has blown up the box office with its $111 million return versus its $4.5 million budget. And more great horror flicks are on the way. The reasons for this renaissance are varied but a friend gave one particularly good explanation for it: “Times are tough and people want to be able to experience the thrill of monsters that aren’t real.”

            It’s a theory I can get behind, but you know another medium that is experiencing this phenomenon? Well if the title didn’t clue you in, it’s video games.

            Who among us didn’t play such wonderful gems when we were younger like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, House of the Dead, and Doom?

            I remember being terrified of the cloying atmosphere of that stupid mansion in Resident Evil as my friends and I huddled around the Gamecube and encountered that first zombie in the corridor. Those fixed camera angles still make me angry-scared as I struggled to aim the gun at the creature.

            Things have come a long way since then.

            The perennial long runners of Resident Evil and Silent Hill have put out entries of varying quality over the years, but I’m taking this little moment to focus on some lesser-known entries that have come out in recent years before moving onto this year’s selection.

            Dying Light: A zombie survival game released in 2015. I know what you’re thinking, “Zombies? I love the Walking Dead!” in which case I have only one thing to say to you: Yes, yes, it is a good show and comic series, but there is so much more to that particular sub-genre.

            There has been a glut of zombie fiction as of late in all mediums, but this video game is one of the few that I thought truly grasped the desperation of the situation; the frantic struggle for resources along with the never-ending hordes of zombies hungry for my flesh.

            And don’t even get me started on what happens at night.

            There might not have been anything that truly made me jump or left me uneasy (at least not until the DLC) but the sheer hopelessness and post-apocalyptic feel of the situation was fairly well captured.

            Slender the Arrival: Most of you have heard of the Slenderman, and if you haven’t then I advise you to discover the Internet. What some of you may not realize is that the monster does in fact have a video game based around him.

            I played this game with my best friend and I remember the two of us tensely switching between holding the controller or gripping the couch arms for fear of what was going to happen next; it would descend from an easy “Oh that looks nice and friendly” to “AAARRRHGHHGHG HOLLLLY CRAP RUN RUN RUN FASTER, FASTER WOULD BE BETTER!”

            It was incredibly tense, though the ending felt a little rushed and anticlimactic.

            It hasn’t stopped me from shoving it at anyone who says. “I want to play a scary video game.”

            Now it is the great year of 2017 *actual greatness may vary* and thus we have a slew of new horror video games hitting the shelves. I’m practically salivating at the chance to see some of these in action and more than likely throw the controller at the TV when something jumps out.

            First on this list would be the newest entry in the Resident Evil series, titled helpfully Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I haven’t yet been able to play the full game, but I did get to play the demo before its release, and wouldn’t you know it was just as scary as I hoped it would be.

            This is the first entry in the franchise to be played from a first person perspective as well as a return to the series roots with a harsh atmosphere centered around fading pieces of decrepit architecture. The designers seemed to take the best notes from Texas Chainsaw Massacre along with various ghostly tropes and monsters in the sewer.

            The whole thing is oppressive, cloying, and beyond a doubt scary and I found myself in the demo checking over my shoulder every five seconds for fear that there would be something there.

            I can’t wait to play it.

            As for other games coming out this year we have the upcoming Friday the 13th, a game centered around the popular slasher franchise where you can actually play as Jason Voorhees and no doubt brutally kill some morally deviant camp counselors who undoubtedly deserve it for having extramarital relations while you drowned as child in a revenge by proxy scheme.

            Conversely you can also play as a no doubt morally decent and upstanding camp counselor just trying to spend a fun and free summer with your boyfriend/girlfriend that might involve the wayward, but normal, pursuits of youth that are being targeted by a psychotic nutjob in a hockey mask with a machete and you just want to survive and continue being a decent and normal teenager.

            Also coming out this year is Outlast 2. Now I played the original Outlast that took our intrepid hero, *insert generic protagonist name*, and investigative journalist to a local insane asylum in hopes of a hot scoop. Well let us just say that he got more than he bargained for. And now this year brings us the sequel and it seems to be borrowing elements from the above-mentioned Resident Evil 7.

            A dark foreboding southern atmosphere pervaded the demo as I ran through the woods pursued by a cult that either just stepped off the set of Deliverance or were practicing for their Wicker Man reunion. If this one holds up to anything like its predecessor, I’m going to be running from lunatics while trying to preserve that sweet glow in the dark cameras battery life.

             Other entries for this years horror extravaganza are Vampyr (where I’ll finally try to understand what being an Anne Rice vampire is all about), Agony (Where you’re dropped straight into Hell, hate when I take that wrong turn at Albuquerque), Visage (you should really look at the history of a house before buying it) and Call of Cthulhu (I just peed a little, I’m so excited). This years smorgasbord of horror games doesn’t look likely to abate anytime soon and promises to be a great year for not only the Horror Genre but for video games in general.

 

Wile E. World News

            It turns out that there are still uncaught Nazi’s milling about in the world. Today it was confirmed that a 98 year old man in Minnesota was a confirmed leader of an SS unit that burned villages in Poland.

            Usually, I would try to provide some sort of hilarious commentary here (and trust me you would be rolling) if this wasn’t a serious matter, as most of the things I report on are.

            Poland wants to extradite him and prosecute. All I can say is more power to them. It would be a shame if justice were to slip past before he died of old age, which for this man could be any day now.

            On a lighter note…

            Yesterday, police in Oregon engaged in a high-speed chase with a man who stole a street sweeper.

            Yes you read that right, a street sweeper.

            I don’t necessarily want to bail the man out of jail, but I would like to meet him and shake his hand for at least engaging in his criminal activity in a suitably hilarious way.

            I bet that highway is super clean now.

 

Quote of the Week

Nefflix: I’m going to download the Dark Web.

Wile E. Young: When you show up in a hostage video I’m not paying the ransom.

 

Coyote Progress

I typed the last period of the Admirer this morning, ending at a little over 70,000 words. I’m about to get my editing chainsaw and dive in, to not only trim it down, but to form it into the final product. I’m proud of it, but also mildly disturbed by it.

I wonder if other horror authors have been disturbed by their own content before…

Who knows?

Now I turn my eye to my next two short stories for a Punk Zombie Anthology (I’m determined to get at least one zombie story published in this glut!) and this year’s SNAFU antho… I’m about to make Slashers cool and scary again for that one.

Besides that, Stokercon is next month where my short story One Night in the Yellow Ring will be debuted in Azoth Khem Publishing’s Carnival of Madness anthology… I’ll post a link as soon as it is for sale.

Also Brian Keene released the table of contents to the contributors of the Clickers Forever anthology (a tribute anthology to the late J.F. Gonzalez). Seeing my name listed there next to my story among these titans of the genre… I was very humbled and hope to honor the legacy of J.F. Gonzalez with my meager contribution.

THAT book is going to be epic.
That’s all for now, time to order my ACME editing chainsaw and hopefully catch the Roadrunner.