Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking Back at 2015 (Part 2)

Last week I recapped my creative year in terms of the writing projects I worked on. But when I wasn't spending my creative time writing, I was recording and producing podcasts. And on the podcasting front, 2015 was a very busy year.

The Secret Identity podcast started in March of 2006, and in early December, we published out 700th episode (I wrote a whole post about that, which you can read here). We spent all of one segment reflecting on almost ten years of comic podcasting, and then we got right back to work. Episode #701 of Secret Identity showcased our new theme song, and we've streamlined our format to keep things fresh and fast-paced as we head into our next hundred episodes. You can join the comic-fueled fun at

The third season of my writing podcast See Brian Write premiered in January, and it was entirely dedicated to celebrating NaNoWriMo. Guests on the show this season included Roxie Prince, Mary Beth Blevins, Laura Chapman, Enrica Jang, my Secret Identity partner Matt Herring and my writing partner Jolene Haley. The 2016 season of SBW will be focused on horror, and some of my Midnight Society pals will be stopping by to talk about what scares them.

2015 was the year Co-Op Critics evolved. The site I started in March of 2011 as an outlet to write about games is finally becoming what I wanted it to be. My good buddy Nick Merritt came aboard at the end of 2014 and gave our website a much-needed facelift. We relaunched the Co-Op Critics podcast in January of 2015 with a renewed focus and a consistent schedule. Over the year we discussed some of the biggest games of the past few years, like Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Minecraft, while also focusing on some of the games that didn't get as much of the spotlight. Each month on Co-Op Critics we spotlight a game with videos, blog posts and an audio podcast. You can catch up on past episodes and follow what's coming in 2016 at

My friend and superstar comic writer Antony Johnston has a fantastic podcast called Unjustly Maligned, where he invited guests to come on and defend something that you love but everyone else hates. I came on his show to defend Megadeth's 1999 album Risk, and people responded very positively to the in-depth music discussion Antony and I had. So, we decided to start our own music podcast. it's called Thrash It Out, and each episode features a deep dive into one rock or metal album. We just wrapped up our first season and are ready to get started on season two in the next couple weeks. You can catch all the episodes at, and if you're so inclined, support our Patreon.

And last but not least, my writing partner Jolene Haley and I had so much fun creating our book Harrowed that we had to podcast about it as well. We're doing a podcast called The Woodsview Case Files, an in-continuity show that actually ties into the Woodsview Murders novels. We were only able to get two episodes out before the end of 2015, but stay tuned, as we have big plans for this show. You can catch up on the first couple episodes at

So like I said, 2015 was a very busy year for me in terms of podcasts. 2016 will be even busier, as I have at least one new podcasting project that will likely debut this upcoming year, and all the shows I mentioned above will be back for another year. So, whether you want to hear about comics, games, music or writing, I've got you covered.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Looking Back at 2015 (Part 1)

It's been a "nose to the grindstone" couple months, but with 2015 winding down, I decided to take a couple posts to reflect on my creative output for the year, both on the book front and the podcast front.

In March of 2015, I released the third book in my Parted Veil horror series, Lovecraft's Pupil. This book is a real turning point for the series, as the story is taking on a some real dark fantasy elements. I already have the first draft of the next installment done, and I drafted a novella in April that ties into the series as well, so there will be plenty more Parted Veil to come in 2016.

Right after I finished drafting the aforementioned novella, Jolene Haley and I decided to write a book together. We started working on it in May, and after busting our butts for the next several months, we released Harrowed into the world in September. Our goal was to create a young adult slasher story they captured the feel of some of our favorite horror movies growing up. If the reviews we've gotten so far are any indication, we succeeded. The Woodsview Harvester is a character that everyone who reads the books is talking about, and he's drawn comparisons to some of our favorite slashers from the '80s. Jolene and I could not be more happy with the response to this book, and we're already working on the next installment of the Woodsview Murders series.

And speaking of that, we're about 30,000 words into the next Woodsview Murders book. I' not going to give any of the details away, except to say that college will prove to be even more deadly than high school was for our characters.

Jolene and I had so much fun with Harrowed that we decided to start another YA horror series. This one's called Orchard Pointe, and we are almost done with the draft of the first book. The tone is a bit different than the Woodsview Murders series, but there's plenty of scares and some characters we hope people will dig as much as they have our Woodsview crew. We will be talking about quite a bit in the New Year, so stay tuned for that.

So, two books released, and another three either drafted or in progress. It was a good year for me from a writing standpoint, and 2016 looks to be even better.

Later this week I'll be posting about the podcasting projects I was a part of this year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Secret Identity Podcast Turns 700!

In March of 2006, Matt Herring and I posted the first episode of the Secret Identity podcast, a weekly show in which we discussed comics, movies, TV and other areas of geek culture. Almost ten years and 1500+ hours of programming later, we just posted our 700th officially numbered episode. You can click the link to get it, download it from all the usual spots, or listen to it right now in the player below.

All told, we've produced over 900 episodes of Secret Identity in the past nine-plus years, discussing thousands of comics, movies, shows, games and more. We've also featured interviews with almost 450 creators during that time (with dozens more we haven't posted yet).

In terms of both numbers and longevity, Secret Identity is in limited company. When we first started our little show, podcasts in general were not huge yet, and there was only a handful of shows focused on comics. And as we approach out ten-year anniversary, there are hundreds of comic book shows across the podcasting landscape, but many of the shows we came up with are no longer with us.

I don't stop to look back very often, as I'm busy recording and putting the show out every week. But, with this milestone and our upcoming tenth anniversary, I think some reflection is called for.

It's been an amazing experience to produce this show for so long. It's been a staple in my life for almost ten years. When we started this show, my daughter was three--she's in seventh grade now. My son hadn't even been born yet--he's in fourth grade now.

I have spent more time with Matt Herring over the last decade than anyone outside of my wife and kids. He has become the brother I never had.

In addition to my relationship with Matt, the absolute best part of doing Secret Identity for so long has been watching the amazing community build up around the show. We have made so many friends--both listeners and creators--over the years, that my life is much richer for having done this show. Many of the people that are a regular part of my life today came into it because of Secret Identity. Matt and I are both grateful to and humbled by each and every person who takes time out of their own lives to listen to the show.

Next week we'll be kicking off the next chapter of Secret Identity with episode #701. The format will be slightly different than the last couple of years, and is designed to keep the show moving and be consistent episode to episode. It will still feature all the discussion and segments fans have come to expect, in a bit more streamlined fashion. Episode #701 begins with a discussion on the format update, so you'll hear more then.

Oh--I also mixed up a new theme song for the show, I love creating themes for the podcasts I produce, and the Secret Identity theme had not been updated since 2011, so we were due. I hope you dig it.

One last note--if you're interested in the full history of Secret Identity, including a list of all the creators we've had on the show, you can check out the newly updated "About" page over on the Secret Identity website.

Thanks for listening!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Let the Content Binge Begin--Catching Up After NaNoWriMo

We're almost halfway into December, and my post-NaNoWriMo content binging is in full swing. As I wrote about last year, the creative output of NaNoWriMo often leaves me needing to recharge my creative batteries in a big way when it's over. And even though I made sure to read, watch and listen during November, I was still really hungry coming out of NaNo.

So, here's a few of the things I've been devouring over the past couple of weeks to recharge the creative batteries:

I've been catching up on my comics reading, and I'm loving Starfire, Amazing Spider-Man, Codename Baboushka, Behemoth, Archie, Jughead, Revival, Constantine the Hellblazer and more. I'm also re-reading a lot of my G.I. Joe comics, as I'm considering writing a Kindle Worlds story or two involving some of my favorite Joes. I wrote a X-O Manowar story a couple years ago and it was a blast.

On the movies and TV front, I'm almost caught up with Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Scream Queens and Jessica Jones now. I've also begun re-watching the Star Wars films with my kids in anticipation of The Force Awakens.

For music, I've been going back to some of my favorite releases of the year while I write, including Queensryche's Condition Human, Europe's War of Kings and Armored Saint's Win Hands Down.

Finally, I've slowly begun making my way through my book pile of shame with Faith McKay's Lipstick and Zombies, Kristen Strassel's Forever Home and Halloween Night: Trick or Treat, an anthology from a bunch of my Midnight Society mates.

So, lots to catch up on, and it couldn't come at a better time. Even though NaNo is over, there's still a ways to go on the first draft of our Orchard Pointe book, and I need the extra inspiration to keep November's momentum going.

What are you catching up on now that NaNo is over?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Keeping That All-Important NaNoWriMo Momentum Through December

The excitement and sense of community around NaNoWriMo is one of the most effective writing motivators you can get. All those people cheering you on, offering support and writing alongside you helps propel you to massive word counts over the course of thirty days.

And then it's over. It's like waking up from a fever dream. But for most of us, our story did not wrap up neatly on the evening of November 30th. We still have work to do. We have to finish the story. And without that cheering section, and looming deadline, that momentum we've built up over the month can start to wane pretty quickly.

Don't let it.

Remind yourself of the work you've just put in, and don't let it go to waste. That's easier said than done, obviously, but you'll have a greater chance of success if you avoid one of the post-NaNo pitfalls that can really trip you up.

With NaNo, we're used to hitting daily word counts, come hell or high water. For an entire month, we've put a lot of other things in our lives on the back burner, and we spend every free minute trying to get to 50K. That strategy isn't necessarily sustainable through the holidays, and failing to hit self-imposed word counts can kill that all-important momentum we just talked about.

So instead of trying to hit a specific number of words every day, commit to spending a certain amount of time every day with your story. It could be 30 minutes, it could be an hour. Whatever you get written during that time is fine, because the important thing is that you're staying connected to the story.

You might also want to spend a little time taking stock of where you are in your story, and plotting out the rest of it if you haven't already. I'm not the biggest plotter (I'm more of a sign poster), so this is a challenge for me. But, I find that once I've reached a certain point in my story where the world and characters are built, plotting becomes much easier.

So, do a little plotting and spend time with your story each day. That's not as intimidating a goal as 2K a day, right? Sure, you might not write 50,000 words in December (or January). But by staying connected to your story, you'll keep that momentum going until you complete that first draft.

Monday, November 30, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Four Report--It's Okay to Celebrate!


This past week our NaNo project crossed the 50,000-word mark, which means we've officially "won" NaNoWriMo 2015. This is the fifth time I've participated in NaNoWriMo, and the fifth time I've hit 50K. Honestly, it's a feeling that never gets old.

But you know what's weird? After a short time of celebrating, part of me started to minimize the accomplishment. I see a lot of other NaNo winners do this as well, and I can only attribute it to that self-critical part of every writer that rears its head as soon as you come up for air from any project. Here are some typical things I've either said or have seen other Wrimos say in the past few days, especially in response to the congratulations they get from others:

"My story isn't done yet. I still have a really long way to go."
"The draft needs tons of work."
"I'll be doing rewrites for months."

It's like we feel guilty for celebrating our accomplishment, so we immediately start to take away from it.

But here's the thing--if you've written every day this month--that's a victory. if you've got 20, 30 or 40,000 words down on a project--that's a victory. And if you've written 50,000 words or more in a month--THAT'S FREAKING AMAZING.

For many of us, we did this in addition to our full-time jobs, our family obligations, and everything else life has thrown at us over the month of November. So, if you've participated in NaNoWriMo, YOU HAVE WON.

Congratulations, and let's all celebrate together.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Three Report

Here we are, entering the final week of another NaNoWriMo. It's kind of unbelievable, the more I think about it. This will be my fifth NaNoWriMo event since 2007, and my third in a row. And every time I cross that finish line, it still blows me away. It's a great feeling, and a reminder that the answer to an often-asked question about writing never changes.

The question: When do you find time to write?

The answer: You don't. You make time.

That's it--you make the time to write. It's not some mystery, it's not some hidden thing that you might be lucky enough to put your hands on if you look in the right place. It's there, all the time, staring you in the face.

You have to make time to write. And when I say you, I mean me. I mean us. We have to make time to write.

I love to write. If I could, I would make it my full-time job. I WANT writing to be the way I make my living. Hopefully someday I will be able to write full-time.

But that isn't my life right now.

So, in order to write, I have to make time for it. And one of the things I love most about NaNoWriMo is that through its community, it's never-ending waves of positivity and its audacity to dare us to write a novel in one month, NaNoWriMo helps us make time to write.

Right now, at this stage of my writing life, I need NaNoWriMo. The NaNo events are the only times of the year that I've consistently been able to write 2,000 words a day for a prolonged period of time. I've gone through good stretches of writing at least 500-1000 words a day outside of NaNo events, but only within them have I been able to hit those counts for a whole month.

But regardless of the word counts, what NaNo has helped me to do over the past several years is create a routine that involves regular writing. Whether it's a blog post, a short story, or the latest book I'm working on, I write almost every single day. Because way back in 2007, NaNoWriMo showed me that it was possible, if I just prioritized my writing and made time for it.

That's not to say that life doesn't get in the way, or that you don't need to take a break from writing now and again. It just means that you can't let life derail you, or those breaks to stretch into long periods of inactivity. There will always be times when we cannot write. The trick is to keep writing as something sacred that you will make time for.

I hate running, but I like to think of my approach to writing and NaNo events like training for marathons. You don't run the big events all the time, but you never stop training. So, while 2K a day is not an every-month thing, I'm still getting my daily training in. And unlike running, I actually love spending time on my writing.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Two Report

How's it going, fellow Wrimos? Everyone hanging in there, plugging away each day? Even if you're behind on your word count, don't panic--there's still a lot of November left to make up ground.

I wrote a lot of words this week, and I feel pretty good about most of them. Our NaNo project sits at 32,000 words as I write this, which is pretty much exactly where we should be. I can already tell this story will go way beyond 50k in terms of total word count, but Jolene and I will get as much of it done as we can this month.

As far as the story itself, an interesting thing happened this week. The more Jolene and I talked about it, the more we realized that one story was not going to be enough for our characters and the world we've created. And so, Orchard Pointe will now be a series!

I'm not at liberty to talk more details yet, but we've dropped a couple hints if you're following Jolene or I on Twitter. Needless to say, we will now have two YA horror series under the Horror Twins banner, and we are very excited about both of them! They're both very different, but we think that if you dug HARROWED, you'll like the Orchard Pointe series as well.

I can tell you is that this week I wrote about clowns, peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches, origami, nightmares and arcade games. So, make of that what you will.

Okay. I'll tell you one more thing. The Lost Boys is one of the many inspirations for this book, but maybe not necessarily in the way you might think.

Okay, that's it. Don't tell Jolene I said anything. I have to get back to writing now. I'll check in again next week, and don't forget to follow Jolene and I on Twitter for more hints about our current project and other stuff to come.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Artists Amy Kukta and Don Cardenas Bring the Woodsview Harvester to Life

My friend and fellow Midnight Society member Faith McKay came up with the wonderful idea of keeping our Halloween spirit going all year long with the Spooky All Year blog hop, which takes place on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. You can find out more and see the posts for each installment over at The Midnight Society. I'm kicking off my series of posts with one about a character I created with another fellow Midnighter, Jolene Haley.

I'm speaking of course about the Woodsview Harvester.

The Harvester is the slasher who terrorizes the students of Woodsview High School in HARROWED the first installment of our Woodsview Murders series (which you can get right here on Amazon).

As huge horror fans, it was important for Jolene and I to craft a character that could stand on its own as a slasher. When you say that word, it conjures images of Jason, Freddy, Michael, Leatherface, and other iconic villains from some of our favorite scary movies. And from the response we've gotten, it seems like the Harvester fits the bill!

But as scary movie lovers, there was a part of us that wanted to actually see a visual representation of the Harvester. So, I put the word out to my artist pals, and a couple of them sketched their interpretations of the Woodsview Harvester:

Drawn by Amy Kukta

Drawn by Don Cardenas
How awesome are those?! Thanks so much to Amy Kukta and Don Cardenas for their amazing work! Jolene and I have some cool plans for the harvester over the next several months, so stay tuned. And don't forget to check out The Midnight Society for more Spooky All Year posts and follow the #SpookyAllYear hashtag on Twitter!

Monday, November 9, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week One Report

The first week of NaNoWriMo 2015 is in the books (pun intended), and the project that Jolene Haley and I are working on sits at 18,000 words. That's a great spot to be in as we begin week two, and our story is really starting to hit its stride.

As I've talked about before, Jolene and I live on opposite coasts, so that presents a bit of a challenge as far as writing a book together. I've talked a bit about our process before (here and here, among other places), but the short version is that we make heavy use of the comment and chat system in Google Docs, and we have a planning doc and a Pinterest board that we are constantly updating and referring to as well. We also have periodic Skype calls to talk through any issues, and we Skype more frequently when we get to edits.

After using the aforementioned process for HARROWED, it was like putting on my favorite pair of wool socks this time around. We have a system that works, and we roll with it.

As much as we love the Woodsview Murders series (we are already a good ways into book two), we are working on a totally different story this month. It is a YA horror story, and I can't wait to tell folks more about it in the coming months (although Jolene and I are already dropping hints on Twitter if you follow us).

One of the ways Jolene and I get our ideas.

The biggest challenge for me so far is that we are writing this new story in first person. I write third person almost all of the time. In fact, until now, I think one short story is the only thing I've written in first person. So, it's been an adjustment, but I'm really enjoying the challenge. Not to mention, Jolene is a fantastic writer who frequently writes first person, so I am learning a ton working with her on this project (yet another benefit of collaborating).

So, week one was a success, and we look to keep the momentum going this week. The second week is where a lot of NaNo projects tend to slip, so we are determined not to let that happen. It helps that our story is really picking up, so we'll be writing a lot of the fun stuff this week as we start to destroy the nice little world we had built for our characters.

Here's hoping all our fellow Wrimos have a great week two!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Join Jolene Haley and I on 11/8 for a HARROWED Chat!

Every single month, my friends over at The Midnight Society host a book chat as part of the Midnight Book Club. Each month the club picks a book, and early the following month, Jennifer Brinkmeyer leads the chat on the Midnight Society twitter handle, under the hashtag #MidnightBooks

The book of the month for October 2015 was HARROWED, and tomorrow night, we're chatting about it at 8pm EST (7pm CST)! 

So, if you've got questions for Jolene and I, comments about the book, or just stuff you want to discuss, jump on the hashtag and join the discussion! 

And of course, if you haven't picked up HARROWED yet and want to binge read it in one night to get ready for tomorrow, you can get it right here!

Friday, October 30, 2015

HARROWED is Free Today!

Jolene and I are giving all you horror fans an early Halloween treat. HARROWED, the first book in our Woodsview Murders series, is FREE today (10/30)!

Click here to get HARROWED for free today only!

Here's the synopsis for HARROWED:

Journalism Rule #1: Always report the story. Never become the story.

Avery Blair has accepted the fact that nothing exciting ever happens in her small town of Woodsview, Massachusetts. As the editor of the high school blog, she prays for something—anything—to come along that would make for a great headline.

When Beatrice Thompson’s body is found in the girls’ bathroom, Avery has her biggest story ever. The rumors circulating the school say that Beatrice took her own life, but Avery doesn't believe it for a second. Her instincts prove true when the next day brings another body bag. The tiny community of Woodsview has become the hunting ground for a killer known as the Harvester. The killer targets Avery and her classmates, stalking their every move and terrorizing them with morbid messages.

With the help of her boyfriend Jason, her best friend Quinn, and an aging detective who can't keep her off the case, Avery dives head-first into her own investigation. She discovers that the secret of the Woodsview Harvester is buried in the town's history and its annual Harvest Festival celebration. With every clue she uncovers, Avery grows closer to unmasking the killer—and becoming the next victim.

Avery Blair has finally found a story to die for...if she can stay alive long enough to write it.

And here's the trailer for the book:

So please, go check it out, and if you know someone who's looking for some fun YA horror, let them know about it. If you like our book, we'd greatly appreciate it if you left a review on Amazon for us. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

NaNoWriMo is Almost Here! Get Ready with Brian and Jolene!

Can you believe that NaNoWriMo is less than a week away? We are in countdown mode, people!!

I am very excited about NaNo this year, as my writing partner Jolene Haley and I are once again teaming up! We just released out first book Harrowed into the world a little over a month ago (you can find out more about the here), and we're about to dive into a new story November first. It;s not a sequel to HARROWED though (although that is already in the works)--it's a brand new story. I've already dropped some hints if you've been paying attention on Twitter.

But that's not why I'm writing today. Today I'm here to talk about getting ready for NaNoWriMo. Back in March of this year, Jolene was a guest on the See Brian Write podcast, in an episode about prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo. She had some excellent tips and resources for having a successful month, and we talked about everything from pre-NaNo prep to making it through the month in one piece.

The great news is that pretty much everything we talked about applies to NaNoWriMo proper as well.

So, I'm reposting the episode right here for those that want a little help and inspiration as they prepare for Sunday's writing adventure. You can listen right here:

If you have feeback, questions or just want to talk writing as we all jump into NaNoWriMo together, hit us up on Twitter! I'm at and Jolene is at

You can also find the rest of the See Brian Write podcast episodes over on my SoundCloud page. I'll be back early next year with a whole new season of the show.

NOTE: This episode led to Jolene and I writing HARROWED together. Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

First Impressions: Amazon Fire Tablet

I am a tech junkie--or rather, I'm a cheap tech junkie. Whereas some people drool over the announcement of the new $1500 Macbook or the Microsoft Surface book, I get excited whenever a decent piece of tech breaks a new low price barrier. I'm fascinated by Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi computers and both Windows and Android tablets that are priced at a point where most people can afford them.

So, I did a spit take when Amazon announced their new family of Fire tablets, along with a new $50 tablet called simple the Amazon Fire. I grabbed one a couple weeks ago, as I had to see for myself whether or not this ridiculously low-priced tablet was more than a paperweight. And I'm happy to report, while the Fire does make some compromises to get its insane price point, it's a fantastic tablet that is definitely worth checking out.

The Amazon Fire package comes with tablet and charger.

One thing that makes the Fire almost worth getting alone is the fact that it has expandable memory. You can increase the memory of the $50 Amazon Fire by up to 128 gigs via a micro SD card. That's a lot more books, comics, games and apps than the 8 gigs the tablet comes with. That may sound like not such a big deal, but you can't do that with an iPad.

Another great thing about the Fire tablet is that you can install the Google Play store on it pretty easily. There are a ton of articles n how to do this (here is a good one), but even the least tech savvy person out there shouldn't have a problem. You don't need to, of course, but if you want your YouTube, Gmail, Hangouts, Drive and Chrome browser on your Fire, you'll need to install the Play store. Of course, you don't need to install the Play store unless you really want those Google apps. The Amazon App Store has gotten much better since its launch, and despite some obvious omissions, many of the apps you or your kids would want are on that store now.

But if you're getting an Amazon tablet, it's probably because you are already a fan of Amazon's ecosystem. It goes without saying that if you're already an Amazon Prime member, this $50 tablet is a no-brainer. It's made for consuming books, video and music. Heck, you could join Prime for $100 and the $150 total for the tablet and the subscription would still be way less than most tablets out there. The iPad Mini 2 is currently $269, so you could get two years of prime and still be below that price point. Samsung's mid-range Galaxy Tab A is around $230 right now, so you could make a similar value comparison with that.

Actual screenshot of an awesome book from my Fire.

So what's downside? Well, it's a $50 tablet. The construction feels cheaper than the other Kindle Fire tablets (which are very solid), and design-wise, it's nothing special to look at. The screen is only 1024x600 with 171 pixels per inch (ppi), so it's not quite HD. There is only one speaker, so the speaker audio isn't great (though I'm usually wearing headphones, anyway). If you are looking for an HD experience, this is not it.

BUT, if you are looking for a device to consume content with--especially Amazon content--this tablet does that and more. Amazon is actually running a deal where if you buy five tablets, you get a sixth one free. Six tablets for $250.

What's most exciting to me about this move by Amazon is the potential for this tablet to make it's way into classrooms. For $1250, you could equip a classroom of 30 kids with a tablet. And with apps like Overdrive, where you can access library books, there is a ton of potential to get kids ready a wide array of books that a school might not have access to alone.

The Amazon Fire is also a pretty solid choice for a child's first tablet. If your kid breaks a $400 iPad, it's a big deal. A $50 Fire--not so much. And there's a kid's version of the Fire for $100 that comes with a 2-year replacement guarantee.

So to recap--the Amazon Fire is a great value for the price, and a complete no-brainier if you're already a Prime member. It's not the blazing-fast, HD experience that true technophiles will be looking for, but it's damn impressive what Amazon has been able to pull off at this price point. I've already gotten $50 of use out of mine in the first two weeks.

Fire design specs, via Amazon.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rock and Shock 2015 Was a Blast!

The whirlwind that is October continued for my podcast partner Matt and I as the Secret Identity tour bus pulled into Worcester for Rock and Shock--a three-day festival of horror and heavy metal.

There's not much I enjoy more than talking horror and music with people, so this show is pretty much made for me. But he end of the weekend, I could barely talk, but it was a ton of fun from start to finish. I split my time between roaming the floor for interviews and promoting the podcast and my books at the booth. There was so much to see and do, I could have spent a week there.

My entire weekend (and year) was pretty much made when my good friend and very talented sculptor Amy Kukta surprised me with a sculpture of the King in Yellow, which you can see below:

The base of the sculpture is a little NSFW, as it features a pretty gruesome scene from the pages of Courting the King in Yellow. The sculpture is amazing, and it will be a centerpiece at shows where I'm selling books from now on.

The guest list featured some legends in the industry, including director George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and actor Doug Bradley (Hellraiser). I had been fortunate enough to have met them before, which was a good thing, because the lines at both of their tables were a mile long all weekend. I did however get to spend some time chatting with Felissa Rose, who horror fans know as Angela from the classic Sleepaway Camp. She is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and it turns out she's a hardcore metal fan as well. She just produced Slayer's new video for "Repentless," the first single off their chart-topping album of the same name. She brought in some legends in the horror industry for the video, including Danny Trejo (From Dusk 'Til Dawn, Halloween), Tony Moran (Halloween), Derek Mears (Friday the 13th) and a bunch more, all of whom you can see in the video below.

WARNING--This video is basically a horror film, and features explicit content. Not for the faint of heart.

On the band front, Danzig was the main event of the weekend, and Matt got to hang out with Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstien of the Misfits.

Perhaps my favorite exhibitor at the show this weekend was the Shih Tzus and Furbabies Small Breed Dog Rescue. They're an organization that rescues small breed dogs and finds adoptive homes for them. There were a variety of adorable dogs at the booth throughout the weekend, who received constant love and attention from everyone who came by. In speaking to the staff of STFBR, they projected that at least five or six of the dogs would be getting adopted by people who attended the show.

Matt and I also interviewed several creators at the show, and you'll be hearing those interviews in the coming weeks and months on Secret Identity. One of my favorite interviews of the weekend was with author Matt Serafini, who is a huge fan of slashers like I am, and wrote his own take on the genre, a novel called Under the Blade (which is also a nod to the classic Twisted Sister album). Stay tuned for that one.

Sunday was kids' day at the con, and my son joined me for the final day of the show. The Creative lair featured craft making, pumpkin painting and more activities throughout the day, and he had a blast meeting some of the creators and celebrities he's heard me talking about over the years.

All in all, we had an amazing time at Rock and Shock 2015. We'd like to thank Leah Urbano for letting us be a part of this year's show, and we cannot wait for next year. I'll leave you with some more pics from the show floor. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Read My New Short Horror Story "Harvest Moon" Now!

Photo by Alfredo Garcia Jr.
The Night Harvest event is in full swing over at the Pen & Muse site, which means you can read original short horror stories all month long! The them of this year's event (as you might have guessed) is the harvest, and today, my take on that theme is live for you to read!

Click here to read "Harvest Moon" now!

This idea for this story came to me as soon as I heard what this year's theme would be. I wanted to do something with the harvest moon (the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox). The fact that this year's harvest moon was also a blood moon (given reddish appearance by a lunar eclipse) and a supermoon (the full moon closest to the earth for that year) was too good to pass up. I mean, that confluence of events has to be magical in some way, doesn't it?

Of course, in my stories, magical can often mean bad. So, this particular moon doesn't bring good things to the people of New Lakeford, Massachusetts.

"Harvest Moon" has a connection to my Parted Veil series of books, so those who have read any of my books are in for an extra treat. "Harvest Moon" is a standalone story though, and you don't need to be familiar with the Parted Veil series to enjoy, or be disturbed by it.

I hope you like "Harvest Moon," and I hope you continue to check out all of this month's Night Harvest entries over at Pen & Muse. If you dig any of those stories or pieces of artwork, go support their creators by buying one of their books or prints. There's a ton of very talented people participating in this event.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Come See Me at Rock and Shock This Weekend (Booth #403)!

Three days of heavy metal and horror!

As I've said many times before, metal and horror are like peanut butter and chocolate--they go great together. No one knows that better than the folks behind Rock and Shock, an annual horror and heavy metal show that is one of a kind. This Friday through Sunday at the DCU Center and Palladium in Worcester, MA, horror and metal icons will be hanging out and celebrating together--and I'll be there too!

The lineup of guests and bands at this year's show is fantastic. On the guest front, you have George Romero, Tobin Bell, Doug Bradley, Adam Green, PJ Soles and many more. On the music side, Danzig, Superjoint, Hatebreed and more than a thirty other bands will be playing all weekend at the Palladium. And there will be a ton of vendors as well, including me!

I will be selling copies of all three Parted Veil books this weekend--Courting the King in YellowLovecraft's Curse and Lovecraft's Pupil (which was released on March 31, 2015).

For those that buy all three books, I'll be giving away a print called "The Uguborth" that depicts a scene from Lovecraft's Curse. My friend and local Springfield artist Mike Valade created the print, and it's amazing.

I will also be hosting a panel on starting your own podcast Saturday at 1:15pm in the Creative Lair of the show, and I'll have some copies of my podcasting book Making Ear Candy on hand for anyone interested in picking one up.

So, if you're in the area this weekend, head down to the DCU Center and say hi! It's going to be an amazing show. For more info, you can go to or check out the official Facebook page for the show.