Following the journey of award winning author, Alex Azar, as he travels the publishing world and all things interesting. To reproduce or publish any material found within this blog, please contact me at azarrising@hotmail.com

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Intro 8: Mindless Thoughts

Continuing my series of teases of published stories, I give you the intro to my entry in the New Dawn Fades anthology from PostMortem Press that focused on zombies of a different sort.  The editor challenged authors to try something different with the genre instead of relying on the tropes.  After a few failed attempts I came across this gem that I really enjoyed writing, and have long planned on expanding upon. Enjoy this "Mindless Thoughts" intro:

The screams start before the second zombie is seen. The first zombie, lets call him Cliff, grabbed a little girl our of her mother’s hands. Just as Cliff is about to bite the daughter’s forehead, not her neck, or arm, or even leg, but her forehead, zombie two slowly tackles Cliff. Using muscles that have grown desert dry over the years, zombie two bashes Cliff’s head in prior to biting into his neck.
Assuming the zombies are fighting over the girl, the gathered crowd retreats to safety. Although their assumption is wrong, we can all agree that zombies suck.  Actually being a zombie is worse. I’ve been dead for 20 years and that’s been my only constant. Even my body’s betrayed me, slowly decaying to an unrecognizable mass of dehydrated flesh and torn muscles.
The only ray of light for zombies was stolen from me the moment I was turned. The thing about us that no one knows is that we’re created by vampires. I just wished there was air still in my lungs, or that my tongue hadn’t rotted away so I can verbally explain that when a vampire feeds on a human they become a zombie under the mental control of said vampire. If only the ligaments in my fingers didn’t shred in clouds of dust years ago, I’d be able to write a note detailing how a new vampire is made when a zombie is fed the blood of his creator. Sorry, I don’t mean to be sexist, ‘his or her’ creator.
Unfortunately for me, the vampire that bit me died before I awoke as a zombie, so I never had a chance to feed on him and he wasn’t able to establish a mental link over my mind. So I’ve been stuck in this body that’s unable to eat food that doesn’t come from humans, with a mind that understands the horror in a person’s face as a zombie attacks them, or the wails of terror as flesh is being torn from their still living bodies.
So I repeat, zombie suck, but I’ve decided to do something about it. I vowed not to eat any more humans, for the past two years I’ve only fed on other zombies, even though they turn my stomach, or what’s left of it, causing me to vomit black ooze.
As a zombie, I don’t know if I still have sins to be forgiven, but I’ll forever be cursed to remember the faces of all the people I’ve eaten, and their screams that would haunt my dreams if I slept. I remember all this despite the fact that the last time I looked in a mirror, roughly eight years ago, I could see that my brain had melted into a gray putty littered with maggots. I must assume that the constant buzzing of flies about my head is similar to what living humans hear as they slowly go deaf.
But I digress, it’s that vow that brings us to the here and now. I may have eaten more than my share of children, they really are the sweetest meat but since my charge I won’t allow another zombie to do so. I guess in a sense, we did fight over the girl.
Because of their inability to think for themselves beyond the hunt for food, zombies are horrible fighters, rarely even defending themselves from me. In life I don’t recall being much of a fighter, but no longer needing to worry about the pain has removed the fear of fighting. I don’t think I’d be able to hold my own against a vampire, but zombies in small doses are no problem.
Following an upchuck of black mass that I’ve yet to identify, I depart the scene in a slow sprint. The crowd re-gathers shortly before the authorities arrive. Upon their arrival, they quickly cordon off ‘Cliff’ making sure not to come into contact with the crusty leather that used to be his skin. Not that they could be infected that way, but I commend their caution of the unknown.

The general public doesn’t really know about us beyond ‘rumored’ sightings like the one that just occurred. Vampires are a complete myth in the people’s eyes. They’re much better at blending in, mostly because they don’t sparkle.

We'll end the intro with that little jab to the Twilight series.

So far you've learned how zombies are made, and why our main character is special, but if you want to learn how his story ends, you'll have to pick up the hard to find New Dawn Fades and read the rest of "Mindless Thoughts", one of two stories in the anthology that were highlighted in the intro to the entire book.  The author of the introduction to the book, Joe Schreiber (a Star Wars author), writes about "Mindless Thoughts" that "somewhere in the world, Chuck Palahniuk is nodding in perfect appreciation". High praise from an acclaimed author, referencing one of my favorite authors, about this author you're reading now.  If this were any more meta it'd be a movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio.

As always, you can purchase this antho from Amazon or from the AzarRising Mobile Bookstore (still the trunk of my '07 Dodge Stratus)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mystery and Horror LLC book giveaway

For those of you feeling lucky (or cheap) you can win a copy of the latest anthology I'm published in Undead of Winter over at the Mystery and Horror LLC website.



Head on over to the link to take your chance.  But fret not, even if you don't win (sorry) you're still lucky enough to live in a country where the book hasn't been banned, yet! So head on over to amazon.com to pick this up.



And while you're there, head on over to my author's page to pick up my other anthologies.


*Disclaimer: Undead of Winter has not been banned in any countries to my knowledge except probably North Korea.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Detective James S. Peckman

A few weeks ago I had posted about a forth coming story that is going to be published by Mystery and Horror LLC, who published my most recent short story as well.  This new anthology Undead of Winter contains my first published story of a character that I've been working on for several years.



This character, James S. Peckman, is a paranormal detective that was introduced into a world where not only are vampires and werewolves real, but they're not the scariest creators out there.  In the dozen or so cases so far chronicalized  about JSP's career, he's faced the aforementioned vampires, and werewolves, as well as ancient alien gods, a bounty hunter for the Necronimicon, and in the frigid caves of Washington state he... well to find that one out, you'll have to read "Under the Hood of Winter" available in Undead of Winter.


Over the course of Detective Peckman's casebook profile you'll find out how the deaths of his wife and daughter drove him from his position as a respected police detective to this hidden world of monsters and creatures lurking in the fringe of our reality.  As his tales progress, you'll also learn how someone who fought godless vampires in an abandoned church can still have faith and pray to his ever handy rosary.



Unfortunately, the sad truth of James' life is, whether when he worked as a cop or ran in the shadows chasing the things that go bump, his problems can't be solved with simple prayer.  To handle the more dangerous aspects of his life he has Stacy, his service issued Glock 9mm.  At one time James also used an unnamed revolver, however that was replaced by a special weapon he picks up in Under the Hood of Winter, available now at amazon.com


Pick up Undead of Winter and stay tuned here for more about Detective James S. Peckman

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Politics, sorry for the interruption.

People always tell me I should care more about politics and especially should vote at every election. I say people need to stop being complacent and voting for 'the lesser of two evils'.  This country will not change if we keep bringing into office people we don't fully support.  Don't vote for one representative because you disagree with the other, don't blindly follow a red candidate over a blue, and sure as hell don't vote for someone based off of their skin, or even worse, the skin of their rival.

I think Chris Christie has done some real good in office, especially during/after Hurricane Sandy, but I highly disagree with his treatment of the education system and teachers in particular.  That's enough to keep me from voting for him, but doesn't that mean I'm going to automatically vote for his opposer who's name I don't even know? Not a chance, and I feel people need to stop blindingly rock the vote.

I'm all for voting if you believe this person is going to stand by the merits that they ran on to get to this position.  Someone is going to say I have no right to criticize if I don't vote at the polls today.  So hear this, my vote is for a new electoral process and new notions in throughout the government. Until I see a candidate that I believe can deliver that, I'll continue treating elections like a spectator sport.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Still?

It must still be Halloween, because I just recently sign the contract for my 11th publication!

I'm happy to announce to once again be working with Mystery and Horror LLC, the great new publisher that put out my most recent story, "The Taste of Copper" in their Strangely Funny anthology.


This time around, the mood isn't so jovial as we explore the undead things lurking during the winter.  In Undead of Winter, M&H explores the horrors creeping around in the fantastically cold months, that just so happen to lie ahead of us now.  Coincidence? I think not.


The best part of this for me is that my contribution, "Under the Hood of Winter", will mark the first publishing of my paranormal detective series that many of you have heard me toting about. The main character, James S. Peckman, has been my labor of love, and in the intervening months leading to him seeing print for the first time, I'll dedicate some posts about him, and his creation within my black heart and knotted brain.


Keeping reading, and as always remember to enjoy it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Untitled Ghost story

If I've said it once, I've probably repeated myself as I'm prone to do, but I sincerely feel that as a horror author it is my responsibility to post a horror story every Halloween.  This year is no different.  


Many moons ago I had wondered what would the world look like if no only ghosts were real, but they were public knowledge that the government protected against, or even employed in the cases of non-violent entities.  What you are about to read is my first attempt at writing a story set in this world.  



Untitled

"Come on Shirley, these tours are completely safe. The paranormal police monitor these places for any violent ghosts and shut down any tours with even a hick up on it's record." Glenn pleads to his girlfriend to go on the haunted prison tour with him.
Shirley argues out of fear more than stubbornness, "But Tiffany's friend's cousin went to a tour in New York state and his son got possessed by an evil spirit. Besides, we're supposed to be going to the party tonight, it's Halloween."
"That's why tonight is perfect for this, we'll still have plenty of time to make it to the party, I promise. Plus I'm sure they were able to exorcise the boy. They've only just sanctioned these things because they're totally safe, come on babe."
Shirley never could say no to Glenn, that's how he he convinced her to lose her virginity with him, also to have the ensuing abortion, all without her parents' knowledge. Tonight is no different as they are soon walking through the observation deck of the electrocution room. Beyond the glass is a ghost sitting in the chair pretending to be shocked. With a lackluster response from the passing spectators, the ghost jumps from the chair, and using the majority of his strength, bangs his solidified hands on the glass. This causes most everyone to scream, including Glenn, who thus far has been trying to be the tough guy.
The couple was grouped with a family of four; the youngest of which, a ten year old boy, hasn't stopped crying since they walked in. "But daddy, what if the ghost man gets me?"
Trying to sooth his son, the father, explains, "The security people here have EMF meters. Do you remember what that stands for?" Following a shake of the boy's head, the father explains, "Electromagnetic field, it's how they can see where all the ghosts are, and they have a pulse that stops all the ghosts. What that means, is you don't have o be afraid. Remember, you wanted to come here."
Glenn whispers into Shirley's ear, "Yea, so maybe the little brat could shut the hell up now." Apparently, he wasn't as quiet as he intended, because the boy's mother shoots Glenn a dirty look.
Embarrassed enough for the both of them, Shirley grabs hold of Glenn's arm as he begins to move ahead with the rest of the group. Mistaking her intentions, Glenn assumes she wants privacy for the two.
Once again, unable to say no to her boyfriend, Shirley allows Glenn to lead her to a room off the tour path. After several moments of heavy petting, Shirley looks around and realizes that the room was once an inmate holding cell. This startles her and coupled with the distant moaning of a ghost, she stops the foreplay entirely. "Glenn, maybe we should catch up to the group, I hear a ghost nearby." She pleads to no avail.
"Oh babe, don't you know? Ghosts can't be heard, those are just speakers they use to scare us." However, what Glenn is unaware of, is that not all the scares on the tour come from ghosts.
Sticking with the theme of the night, the tour staff have added actors dressed in classic horror movie costumes. Bursting in the cell is a large masked man wielding a bladeless chainsaw and screams, “Trick or treat, i’m here for your meat!“
The scare tactic fails so miserably that even Shirley was unimpressed. Glenn mimics her emotions by asking, “Was that really supposed to be scary? Go get a real job buddy.“
“Whatever punk, get back with the rest of your tour group and I won’t have you kicked out.“ The actor sits on the bed before removing his mask and lighting up an illegal unfiltered cigarette.
“What an asshole, you believe that guy, Shirley?“ Glenn mindlessly asks as the two pass through the medical room of the prison, filled with ‘bloody‘ instruments.
“Glenn, we should hurry up, this place is creeping me out, and I still hear something and don’t tell me its a speaker. I know what I hear“
Snapping out of his mindless stare at the medical equipment, Glenn answers, “You’re right, but I think it’s the group behind us. Maybe we should keep moving.“
***
Shirley comes running out of the prison screaming with tears flooding from her eyes, and blood splattered all about her face. When the paranormal police officer reaches her, she calms enough to explain, “It killed him. My boyfriend and I got separated from the group after the prison cells and in the medical wing something stabbed him in...“ Unable to finish her thoughts Shirley un-intelligently sobs the rest of the sentence.
The officer takes action, directing the tour manager to sound the evacuation alarm as he enters himself, armed with an EMP gun.
After rounding up and accounting for all spirits, the paranormal police takes Shirley to the hospital so she can undergo tests to verify if she needs an exorcism or not. During the tests, Officer Brennan is approached by the actor that interrupted the couple’s privacy, “Excuse me officer, I work on the tour and saw the couple. They had snuck off to a cell to mess around, and the guy might have been a tool, but she was really into him. I didn't get a chance to talk to you earlier, but I hope this helps her. Patting the actor on his shoulder, the officer thanks him before sending him on his way.
“Hello officer, I’m Dr Cosy, and after passing the CAT scan and holy water tests, Father Teag and I believe an exorcism is unnecessary for the patient Shirley McKenzie.“
“Thank you Doctor, Father.“ Brennan says with a nod to the clergyman. He begins to turn away before he stops and asks, “Excuse me, but what about the EMF scan?“
The doctor answers, "It came back inconclusive." Seeing the uneasiness grow on the officer’s face, he further explains, “However, this is a common occurrence when the subject was recently interacting with spirits as is the case with the ghost tour.“
Not completely at ease, the officer asks Dr.Cosy, “I’d like to speak with her nonetheless, where is she?“
Dr Cosy nervously answers, “I was under the impression that she was free to go after our tests... She was discharged fifteen minutes ago.“
Outside the hospital, Shirley enters and awaiting car lacking the stress and fear she wore when arriving to the hospital. “Looks like everything went according to plan babe.“ She leans across the center console and gear shift to kiss her boyfriend on the cheek. “You’re a genius Jordy“
Settling back in his seat, the actor from the tour smiles more to himself, “Yea, I am.“


I started this story unsure how I wanted it to develop, and even left it unfinished for several months before returning to it with a clearer mind.  I've since written several different tales set in this world, even one for a comic that I'm hoping will be accepted in the coming weeks (more news on that as it develops), and I plan on doing more with this world as I feel there's a wealth of ideas waiting to be tapped.

Enjoy this horror-iest of holidays, I know I will.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Intro 7: Little Changes

Lest you forget this is first and foremost a blog about my writing, here's the intro to the next story I had published, Little Changes.

This is another story that was written for a particular anthology that unfortunately didn't make the cut.  The original publisher I submitted this to had called for a were-creature story that didn't involve werewolves and took place in an urban setting.  It took me about a week to come up with a satisfying story, and only a few hours to write this piece of flash fiction.  I wish it had been longer but the story didn't call for it.  I still feel that there's more to be told in this world, but as it is the story stands as it is.

"Are you paying attention?... Good.  We don't have much time.  The group that attacked you and your mom are still in the area."  The overweight man leaning over Jack reaches out a hand.  Helping Jack to his feet, the stranger introduces himself and his friend.  "This here is Monty, and I'm Marshal.  You have to listen to me, and believe me.  Those men, they are werewolves.  I know it sounds farfetched, but they're real and so are we.  And I mean you too.  Your wounds were mortal and the only way to save you was to turn you.  Unfortunately, your mother was too badly injured, and at her age she wouldn't have survived the transformation."
Marshal and Monty help Jack to a nearby bench overlooking the river.  "Now, listen to me, Jack.  Tonight is going to be a full moon, so your transformation will be quick, but it will be painful.  Once you've turned , Monty and I are going to need you to join us in the fight.  There's four of them in the pack, but with you, the three of us should be able to beat them.  We are the wolves’ natural enemy."
Monty leans close to Marshal and whispers in his ear, while keeping his eyes locked on Jack.  “Yea, Monty’s right, what were you and you’re mom doing walking the docks so late at night on Halloween?  Did you really think it’d be safe any other night?
Up until now Jack’s adrenaline has been pumping so hard he couldn’t even see straight. His nerves are calming, and he looks around to see he’s in a rundown section of the docks; this is not where he remembers being last.  The two men in front of him are clearly homeless, which doesn’t make him more comfortable.”Wait... did you say werewolves?  Crazy homeless people, what’d you do to me? Where’s my mom?  Where are we?”
“Jeeze Louise! Get a load of this guy, Monty.  Accusing us of harming him, when it was us who saved him.  Buddy, you’re not listening to me...”
“Of course I’m not...”  Cutting each other off, they play a verbal game of cat-and-cat.
“In less than half an hour...”
“You’re bums...”
“You are going to transform!”
“Crazy bums!”
To Monty, the exchange sounds like he’s wearing two earphones, each playing quotes from different movies.  He holds his hands up to stop the conversations and leans close to Marshal again.
“You’re right again, lil buddy, a show of what he’s in store for should help convince him.”

Are Marshal and Monty just crazy bums or is there something more to these vagrants then alcohol induced hysteria?  To find out read "Little Changes" in Monster Gallery at Amazon.com

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Free Thoughts 10/10/13


Late last night I returned to NJ from a trip to San Francisco and here are a few takeaways I have from my first time to the city.  I'm a fan. New Orleans is still my favorite vacation spot, but I really enjoyed my time in San Fran. Everyone is so laid back, even in the Financial District, not something I'm used to from the East Coast.

Hills are killer on the calves, but you gotta love the burn, right?  They had some incredible books stores, and even more amazing eateries.  The seafood was so fresh (as one would expect) and the bars/patrons were so friendly.  I frequented one bar near my hotel and befriended an older couple from Hawaii that just made anyone they spoke to nicer.   I mean, I'm not the most endearing to old people, but this couple had me laughing both times we drank together.  Yes I went back to the bar looking for the couple, Sam and Vicki, on my last day there (I may have to take them up on their offer to visit them at home...)


I spent some time at the Fisherman's Wharf, where off the coast Alcatraz resides. Everything was just beautiful, even the loud as all hell seals chilling off the pier.  It was all a little too commercial for me, but certainly worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

I had a serious case of writer's block for the past month or so, but just the prospect of getting to the wonderful city, got the creative mind working, and I was writing in the airport (stay tuned for news on that story).

My main reason for heading out there was to see my first 49ers game.  I don't speak of sports too often here, but I'm a lifelong Niners fan, but never had the chance to see them live.  This season also happens to be the team's final year at their historic stadium, Candlestick Park, and it was a goal of mine to visit before it was demolished.


After being there for a game I can say, it's about time.  This stadium is horrible.  The PA system is barely audible, there are obstructed view seats, going to the concession stands means you can't see the game (not even a live feed of the video), and it's in the middle of nowhere.  There are no bars around the park, it's accessible by a single highway that becomes over crowded during game time, and the only convenient parking is a 15 minute walk away, but I loved every minute of it.


 The team will remain the San Francisco 49ers, however the new stadium will actually be in Santa Clara.  I'm not big on that idea, but if it grants them a better stadium, one they deserve, I'm all for it.

My biggest complaint of the trip, is that I didn't stay long enough.  I had flown in on Sunday, landed about 2:30 pm, then left Wednesday at noon.  Next time i head out there, I'll be sure to make it for at least a week, but for a quick trip, it was absolutely worth it... especially since the 49ers won 34-3 against a team, that was supposed to be a bigger threat.

Until next time, remember to keep reading and have a good one.


Friday, September 27, 2013

What I'm Reading Now: 9/27 UPDATED

Another book I've had for a while that I've just gotten around to reading.  "Flowers for Algernon" is a book from 1959 about a retard (that's the term they used back then) who undergoes an operation that is intended to increase his intelligence.  The entire book is told through Charlie, the retard, by way of his progress reports, or "progris riport" as he initially spells it.  I already know the premise and major milestones of the book prior to picking it up, and as such I was tempted to just not read it, but something has me intrigued.


Stay with me to see if I stay with the book, or tap out at 75 pages.
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And the answer to the question I know you're dying to know is, did I finish the book or not... and I did.

It's a fairly easy read, which made finishing not much of an issue, but it kept me intrigued about what was going to happen with the main character, Charlie.  Speaking of which, I find it weird that the cover would have the character's name spelled wrong when that was one of the few multi-syllable words he knew how to spell when he was a retard (again, this is the term that was used in the book because of the time it was written).

There's something special about reading the book by way of the progress reports that Charlie writes, giving an intimate view of his thoughts and feelings throughout.  However, I also feel that this format also leaves something to be desired of an outside perspective of what the character is going through.

Given the year the book was written I was surprised by how in depth some of the knowledge of mental deficiencies was, unfortunately this goes back to a flaw of the writing style, by leaving out the doctor's point of view of the procedure, or even his understanding of what Charlie is going through.

On to the rating:

Cover to cover.

This is a departure from my typical readings, but I'm glad I decided to give it a go, and recommend it for anyone who has a few day lull in their reading schedule.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rejection 14: "Under the Hood of Winter"

It's been a while since I posted a rejection, sadly not because I haven't been rejected, but because the majority of rejections sent out are generic and not personalized to the author.  That makes for boring reading for you, and for me if I'm being honest.

However, I recently received a rejection for a story I was positive would make it, and after not hearing back from the editor when I was expecting to I allowed myself to get my hopes up that it may actually make it.  Then I got the following email;

Dear Alex, 

Thank you for sending "Under the Hood of Winter" for consideration in the M*** H***  anthology. I appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece did not make the final cut. 

Again, I do thank you for submitting to E***, and I hope to read more from you for future anthologies! 

Sincerely, 
M*** B***
E*** P*** 

So it was a generic format rejection, that's fine, I've dealt with it before its just a part of being an author.  But below that form rejection, the editor added the following little bit;

*** Hi Alex, Hood was a tough choice to decline and I thought you'd like to know that it made it all of the way to the last step! I'll be reading Liquid Marble and Old Habits in the coming weeks and get back to you. Thanks! M***

There it is, that personal touch that makes rejections not only more bearable, but also informative.  he let me know that not only that he actually did like the story, but that it had a shot at actually being published in the antho.  I currently have the two other stories with him, that he mentioned, and it makes me a little more confident that they'll find homes with his company. So here's to the next, and remember to keep reading.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What I'm Reading Now: 8/31



So I just finished a novel called "Feed" by Mira Grant, and my review of it has changed since I first started it.  I'm not sure how the book came onto my radar, but I've had it in my 'to read' pile for a couple of years.  Finally deciding to give it a read, I went into it knowing the bare basics of the plot.  It's a zombie book, and blogging is a big part of it.  While I enjoy zombie movies, and even The Walking Dead TV show, I'm not big on reading zombies.  Other than Max Brooks "World War Z" I can't really name a zombie book I've liked.  I'm sure there's some great ones out there, but the genre isn't at the top of my interests to continue delving into it.  That's why it took me so long to read this one.

Instantly my fears were confirmed.  The year is 2040 or so and the zombie outbreak happened 20 years ago. Children since have often been named George or Georgia in honor of George A. Romero because of his zombie movies.  From the beginning it felt like a shameless plug to show the author 'knows' the genre or the source material.  At some point early in reading the book, I learned it was a trilogy and I wanted to jump ship right then and there because I knew I wasn't finishing this book, let alone picking up the other two...

Then something amazing happened, Mira Grant (real name Seanan McGuire) showed she not only knows what she's talking about, but that she's put a lot of thought into this post zombie outbreak world.  We see how the world continued in a different path after the outbreak, we see the advancement of necessary technology in this infested world where people try to live their lives.  Also two of the things she did exceptionally well was to 1) explain why in the world 'blogging' would be crucial or even relevant in this world (ironic of me to discredit blogging on my own blog, I know), and the reason has to do with equal parts sharing of information and the 'real' news failing to acknowledge the existence of zombies, and 2) explain the origin of the zombies.  Too many times a zombie story sweeps the reason of their existence under the rug with a generic 'virus' answer. Mira took the extra steps to detail their genesis.

The book follows three bloggers who are brought onto the campaign trail of a presidential hopeful, the first candidate to acknowledge and accept bloggers as a crucial part of the media.  Of course, when zombies and/or presidents are involved conspiracies abound.  This, I must admit, is the weakest part of the writing.  Not so much what the conspiracies are, but the who behind them.  The author didn't put the best of efforts to conceal who was behind everything, and in all honesty that may have been her intention.

In any case, I've already picked up the second book to the Newsflesh trilogy "Deadline" and won't wait as long to read this one.

Rating: 
This started out as a "75 Page" read and review, however the author's knowledge and dedication to the genre comes through and makes this an easy...


"Cover to cover"
If the zombie genre interests you at all, this will certainly satisfy your flesh eating needs until The Walking Dead returns in October.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Free Book Giveaway: Reminder

As the title of this post suggests, this is a reminder that I am currently running a contest giveaway.  All you have to do is follow my blog, and once I have fifty (that 5-0) followers, I'll randomly select 5 of you to receive a free book I've been published in.

You may be asking 'How do I follow your awesome blog?', well aside the fact you've disappointed me for not already following me, it's quite easy.  To the left of this post, below the section labeled "Pages" you'll find the section "Followers" click the "Join this site" link and you're good to go.

Now go tell your friends, if you have any, if not thanks for your solitary support.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Intro 6: The Gravedigger's Apprentice



I've briefly spoke about the necessity of a horror author writing something for Halloween every year. That notion was the spark that created "The Gravedigger's Apprentice".

A couple days before Halloween in 2010 I set out to write a dark story fitting of the special time of year all horror authors revel in.  I had finished in time for the big day, and even posted a blurb of it here on the blog.  About six months later, I saw a call for submissions from NorGus Press centered around undertakers, gravediggers, and the like.  A natural fit for the anthology, I sent it in and not only was it accepted, it was published almost exactly a year after I first wrote it in time for Halloween 2011.

Below is the intro to "The Gravedigger's Apprentice" a tale, or yarn as they used to say, about respecting your elders, especially those no longer with us.


 “Forget everything you know about us. We shouldn’t even be called gravediggers no more. More like esscavators, cuz thass what we use. No more diggin wit’ shovels like we used to.”
“Then why do you still carry one around?” John thinks it was an innocent enough question, but Cecil’s reaction proves otherwise.
“Why? This job don’t end juss cuz the body’s inna ground. Lissen Chuck…”
“Name’s John.”
“You’re name’s Chuck till I tell you otherwise.” Cecil’s following statements are more to himself than to anyone, “Damn youngins think they can come n take my job. Hell no! I’ve been doin this too long.” He unzips his pants and rests a hand on a nearby tombstone.
“Whoa, hey old man, what are you goin?”
“Whass it look like Chucky, bout to drain the dragon.” What follows is a sickly laugh hidden behind the cough of a man who’s been smoking longer then John’s been alive.
“You can’t piss on a grave. Don’t you care about the people dead here?” John turns, refusing to look at Cecil.
“Lissen youngin, when I started this I cared, but damn long years taught me but one thing. Dead people is dead, and it don’t matter one bit if they was good, bad, or pissed on graves; we all rot.” Finishing up Cecil zips up and pats the tombstone, “Ingrid here, she died drunk driving, killing her own daughter. You tellin’ me she don’t deserve ta get pissed on?”
“Well, um…” Stammering for the right answer, “Is that even true?”
“Hell if I know, I don’t know bout any o these people ‘cept Old Man Higgins top o that hill.” The two take a few steps closer but don’t actually approach the grave. “He’s the oldest stiff here.”
“What makes him so special?”
“He died in the war of 1812 and is the only survivor…” more laughing/coughing “…of the original cemetery.” Seeing the confused look on John’s face, Cecil explains, “The old cemetery ran out of room, so’s they had to start gettin’ rid o people. Slowly but surely over the years, the original class was gone ‘cept for Old Man Higgins. See that on his tomb stone?”
John takes a couple steps closer and sees a quick glint of light reflecting off of something bronze. “I see it, what is it?”
“Thass his bell. Back in the day people was buried alive all the time. So’s they put these bells with strings on ‘em, so if ya woke up down there you could ring the bell.” Producing a flask from his pocket-less pants, Cecil continues after a quick swig. “’Cept the damned things so rusted over it ain’t rang since ‘fore Eisenhower was in the office.

“Matter a fact, next Friday you gotta clean up his site, cuz he’s a local hero a couple towns west o here. They the ones that keepin’ him round. The Saturday after they’re honoring him or something.”


"The Gravedigger's Apprentice" is published in Undertaker Tales: What They don't Teach you at Mortuary School and can be purchased at Amazon.comBarnes & Noble, or as always at the AzarRising Mobile Bookstore (trunk of my car)



Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn: Strangely Funny Authors: Meet Alex Azar!

Below you can read my first hosted interview with author Ed Ahern (a great read, that made me want to follow him), and now at this link you can read my first author interview, about my entry in the "Strangely Funny" anthology and writing in general. Maybe even figure out why I'm holding an M4 rifle in my profile pic (probably not though)

The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn: Strangely Funny Authors: Meet Alex Azar!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Author Interview: Ed Ahern





Fellow author Ed Ahern, writer of "The Best of Taste" published in Strangely Funny, shared his insights on the anthology and writing in general. Read on...





Q. What was your inspiration for "The Best of Taste"? Please say it wasn't personal experience.
I try and stay one idea ahead of the story I'm currently working on. The process is akin to trapping bubbling swamp gas. I was suffering through a television commercial for an (unnamed) dating service when the bubble burst. What would a service be like for the truly maladjusted and sexually deviant? As a primarily fantasy writer, I added a witch as personal advisor for our misunderstood bad boy. Had I written the story as straight horror, I would probably have had to submit it to one of the erotic publishers, so I also layered in my normally twisted sense of humor. From there it pretty well wrote itself.
 
I used the chatty e-mail format as what I hoped would be a reasonable substitute for dialogue, and as a vehicle that let me play with the wordings a bit more. I have a weakness for bad puns, hence "The Best of Taste" - a story about terminal bad taste that wound up tasting good.
Q. "Foreign intelligence and international sales" sound like interesting day jobs. Can you reveal anything about them? Did any of them involve online matchmaking sites? 900 numbers?
The classification period is long gone by on my "foreign intelligence" stint, but I'm one of those folk who kept his mouth shut. It involved living for four years in Germany and three years in Japan, and speaking both languages pretty well. As a German contact once told me, "Any American who speaks German that well is a spy." "International sales" was a comfortable living but more mundane. I sold newsprint from a large Canadian company in 73 different countries over a quarter century in four languages. Unfortunately print newspapers were going through their decline and fall during this period, and the really good times went away early on.
Q. What is your current project? Tell us a little about it.
It's a horror short story about father love when the infant son turns out to be unlovable. I'd tell you more about the plot, but I don't want anyone to pinch the idea before I've had a chance to shop the story around. Just finished a horror/mystery novella where the hero is a defrocked priest and his assistant is an aggressively lesbian woman both involved in trying to root out a murderous witch's coven ( yes, back to witches.)
 
Q. What made you decide to write your own stories?
My undergraduate degree is in journalism, and I worked as a reporter for a year, but had always wanted to tell fiction stories. When I finally retired at 68, I'd already taken a couple writing work shops and discovered how low I was on the learning curve. It's taken three years, but 39 stories have been accepted so far, most of which have also been reprinted.
Q. We know you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Hopefully the GIGO principle doesn't apply to my writing, because I dump a lot of garbage in. Okay, not garbage, but pulp fiction. I stay a book ahead of HBO's Game of Thrones with J.R.R. Martin and read a fair number of fantasy and science fiction anthologies. I usually leaven a fiction book with a non-fiction one, and try not to read two books at once, because for me the reading experience for both books suffers. I dip back into David Foster Wallace's essays and fiction periodically, and emerge every time impressed as hell with his writing skills and frustrated with his obtuseness.
Ed Ahern's bio:
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but after 45 years they are both out of warranty. Ed dissipates his free time fly fishing, shooting and attending French, German and Japanese language groups.


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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Free Giveaway

Inspired by a friend of mine, who's hosting a giveaway of his own, once this blog has reached 50 followers I'll give away a previously published book of my own to five followers.  The winners, chosen at random, will be able to choose from any of my book already available.

For a list of my available books click here. Keep reading, and enjoy life.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, ...



My 10th publication is only days away from being released, so continue the countdown (or up) for the day you can get your greedy little mitts on "Strangely Funny" by Mystery and Horror LLC. The anthology will contain my short story "The Taste of Copper" about the surprisingly humorous first days of a newly changed vampire.

The books is currently available for pre-order here on amazon.com, as well as already released for the Kindle and other e-readers.  I've posted the cover before, but it's such a fun image, why not twice?

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And just an FYI anyone who voted in the poll that chose "The Taste of Copper" to be written for the anthology is already obliged to purchase this book, have fun!

As always, keep reading, and enjoy life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Free Giveaway!



... not by me, but it's a free giveaway nonetheless.  Head over to my good friend, Marc Sorondo's website to enter a chance to win a free anthology he's been published in. Follow the link here to find the terms and submit.


So go ahead, support a fellow author, get something good to read, discover a new 'second' favorite author, and feel good about it. Judging by the reaction, I may do the same for one of my books.

Keep reading, and always enjoy it

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good News Everyone! Tenth Acceptance

I know it seems like it's been forever since I've made one of these announcements, at least to me it does, but I can happily announce that I've signed the contract for a new story being published.

And I have all of you who voted in the poll I hosted several months ago to thank for it.  The chosen story, 'classic vampire with no teeth' has been accepted to be published in Mystery and Horror LLC's first anthology "Strangely Funny".

As soon as the book sees print you can be sure to read about it here. In the meantime, I leave this image of the cover to whet your appetite.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Niagara Falls



I had intended to post this story yesterday, however after rereading it I felt it was a little too depressing for Independence Day, so Happy Fifth!


Niagara Falls

“I know it's clich├ęd and ironic to say this at a funeral, but Nate really was always full of life.” Fabian says as he stands on the altar less than two feet behind my casket, and if he's half as sad as I expect him to be, he's hiding it expertly. I wonder if he feels he needs to put on a strong facade for my mom. Is it selfish to hope it is actually a false front and that he is genuinely upset at my death? Probably, but this is my funeral, screw etiquette. What else does my frat brother have to say?
“In college he was the de facto leader of our group, even after we'd grown into our own separate lives he was the one to bring us back. When we'd be out he was always the center of attention, not because he was the most charming or funniest of us, although now that I think about it he probably was, but simply because being around him made everyone else feel better. No one was allowed to be in a bad mood around Nate.” You always spoke so well in front of an audience, but that's not entirely true Fabian, what I always said is if on any day nothing goes as planned...
“He always said “If your day doesn't go as planned, change the plan.” I don't think I truly understood what he meant until the day he died.” I'll forgive you for interrupting me this one time buddy... jokes aren't as funny when no one else can hear them. “People always say 'live each day to the fullest' but no one does, I won't even pretend that Nate did, but what he did do was make the most with what he was given. He didn't come from a wealthy family, but his parents instilled in him from a young age strong morals that carried with him to his last day. These morals drove him to exceed at every academic level, eventually leading him to succeed professionally, although none of us ever understood what exactly it was he did.” That wasn't funny people, stop laughing. I am... was a National Operation Manager overseeing the country wide vended business services for... never mind. If you couldn't get it when I was alive, no point in trying now.
“Nate was the first of us to meet our wives, even if he was the last of us to actually get married. He met Amber on a trip we took our senior year of college, and they started dating almost immediately after.” You old softy, you are sad. Why else wouldn't you mention where the trip was to? “They might not have gotten married right away, but everyone close to them knew that what Nate and Amber had was legit and would last forever. Sadly, none of us knew how short forever was. After years of dating, two of my best friends tied the knot.” You hate that saying Fabian.
“Having dated for so long, and growing as close as any couple could, they decided the only place they could get married was at the same location they first met.” Again you're avoiding the location. Not saying the place doesn't make the events any less real man. I'm sorry this hurts so much, but I promise you'll be happy again, all of you here will. “While they waited so long to get married they seemed to have rushed to have kids. I'm sure if someone were to actually do the math, we'd see that their daughter, Courtney, was born less than nine months from their wedding, but we'll let them have that secret.”
Fabian chokes up at her name, his first real sign of what he's dealing with internally. “Forgive me if this sounds cruel, but Courtney's birth really was the beginning of their problems. Understand, I loved that girl as if she were my own...” No one's blaming you man, no one's judging you. You're doing good, not much more to tell. “She was an angel, but she wasn't long for this world. I don't know why, but she was taken from them, from all of us too soon. Her health problems started before she was even twelve months, and she passed on her second birthday. The unimaginable pain Amber and Nate must have gone through was too much for Amber's body. She soon became sick, almost like her heart couldn't go on without her angel and two short years later, on what would have been Courtney's fourth birthday she left Nate also.”

This is it Fabian, you're almost at the end, stay strong get through this and go home to your wife and kids, and love them like I never had the chance to do. “Being Mr. Sunshine, Nate tried to hide the pain he was in, but he couldn't fool any of us, a complete stranger could have seen the pain he was in. For two years Nate put on the face of a man who was content with his allotment in life. What none of us knew, but we should have been able to guess is that he decided to 'change the plan'. Exactly two years after his wife's death, and four years after his daughter died Nate took his life. The spot he first met Amber, and where he shared his nuptials with her, will always be the placed he jumped out of our lives, and I can't blame him. No one should have gone through what he did, but you'll forgive me if I never return there. Thank you, and cheers.” You seriously snuck a beer onto the altar? Well played sir, well played indeed. I'll have one ready for you when we see each other again, which hopefully won't be for many, many years. “Here's to Nate, I hope the new plan brought you happiness.”


 I wrote this story nearly three times before I had this finished piece. The first two times were variations of people going over the falls in a barrel which seemed too easy of a pick. I now know more about the first person to go over the falls than I’d care to, and attempted to create the first married couple to do so together, but again it all seemed like the easy way out. However, it wasn’t all for naught because it led to the story you just read.
While it is a rather depressing story, I feel at the core there’s a great lesson, and the main character said it beautifully, “If your day’s not going as planned, change the plan.” I was impressed with myself when I wrote that one, hope you were too, and appreciate the meaning behind the words.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Free Thoughts 6/14/13

Although I may be a car owner and driver I long for the days when children ruled the road.  When yelling "car!" was the universal 'time-out' meant to get everyone to wait on the curb until someone else shouted back "game on!".  I'm not a fan of the deep retrospect of 'it was a simpler time' but it really is the truth.  Technology has changed so much in the way we develop, infiltrating our childhoods that the newer generation couldn't possibly relate.

I don't intend this to be a tech bashing post, for one reason, I simply wouldn't be able to write this, or you read this, if it weren't for the technological advancements made since we were children, and more importantly   I would most likely not be a published author if it weren't for the same or similar technologies.

This is directed to the disconnect that's created for children that is going to change interactions as they grow. And there are plenty of studies already out there and still be conducted about the difference in socializing from then and now and what it might mean in the future.

This is clearly not one of those studies. This is just my observations of parents shutting their children up with tablets, teens listening to their iPods or texting at the dinner table instead of participating in actual conversation.  Surely at this point I sound like a crotchety old man, but I'm only 30 years old (not helping is the fact I used crotchety)

The peak of this, and one of my most shameful acts with the fairer sex (and trust me there's plenty) came when I actually asked a girl out on a date through a text.  This is something I'm vehemently against, however I hadn't seen or spoken to this particular girl in any form for months.  Still no excuse, but I convinced myself that since we've never spoken on the phone before, it'd be too awkward to actually call her for the first time after so long of no communication to ask her out.  After pressing 'send' before she replied I really hoped she had enough morals to not say yes to a guy who couldn't bother to put himself on the line and at the very least call her.  And I can let you know she did in fact say no. Now, I have no way of telling whether that was because of how I asked or because she had no interest (come on, we all know that can't be the case... right?) but I'm content in believing that she had more respect for herself than that.

This is compounded with the knowledge that I was recently broken up with via text.  As upset as I was about the break up, my real issue was with how she went about it.  And I know in the long run I won't care how she did, but as it stands, especially immediately after it happened, it really bothered me.  This was a relationship that technology played very little in the development of.  I'm sure the amount of texting we did helped expedite us getting together, but it was inevitable anyway.  We weren't, nor currently are, 'friends' on Facebook.  We never Skyped or anything like that, so for her to break up with me like that was a cowardish move and I told her as much... in a text.  While part of me does believe you can be friends with an ex, not that I am with any, her and I do not talk, and I think a large part of it, is because of her method of doing so.

Why put out those embarrassing stories? Mainly because I have much worse ones already out there and I have no shame, but also to illustrate the fact that even as someone who grew up yelling 'car' I'm subject to the negative effects technology has on our socializing and implore you to teach those growing up after us to learn to shout back "game on!"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Free Thoughts 6/1/13

I recently went to a Fall Out Boy concert, two nights ago to be exact, and while most everything I say in this post will point to the contrary, the fact is I really enjoy going to concerts.  The problem is there's so much that bothers me about them.

The major thing that gets me is this:





















Didn't we first build walls so we wouldn't have to cram together like this? It's unnatural, it's not fun in the least, it's not comfortable, and honestly it can't be too healthy either.  I don't understand the concept of squeezing as many bodies as physically possible to try to listen to the band/singer over the throngs of people screaming around you.  God forbid you want to piss or get a drink.

Which brings up two different issues.  No where are bathrooms filthier than at concert venues.  I'd rather poop at a McDonald's in Times Square than at a concert venue.

And while I understand a venue charging an obscene amount for drinks, I can't fathom the point of actually spending so much on alcohol that your body is just going to sweat out of you before you can feel any affects.

God forbid if you show up only five minutes before the doors open, now you're stuck either sitting on speakers rendering you deaf for the next three days, or you're behind a pillar and can't even see the stage, meaning you just spent a minimum of $50 to listen to a live album you could have heard on youtube.com.

For all the concerts I've been to (and it's been a good amount) I can't remember a single one where the average age of attendees was over 18, let alone over 21... Correction, I went to a DJ show with Q-Tip and Jazzy Jeff and that was a more mature crowd, and ironically none of the complaints I have here did I have to deal with then.

Also at this Fall Out Boy concert, something that's boggled me at nearly every other concert I've been to, is females crowd surfing in the most inappropriate clothing.  I'm talking about tube tops, spaghetti strapped tank tops, and/or skirts.  I'm a hetero guy, I enjoy seeing the naughty bits of (most) females, but if you're going to get upset about becoming exposed, have a little more common sense (I know, I know 'sense is no longer common' but come on) and dress the part if there's even a chance you might crowd surf.

Aside from FOB and the opening act, New Politics, putting on really good shows, the best part of the show (and I wish I had video of this) was watching the already packed crowd shift towards the front in waves.  Then throughout the show you can watch the ripples of one person move to the right cause the entire section to sway with them.  I looked down from my balcony perch in scientific amazement believing scientists could study the effects of the moon on the tide simply by watching a crowd at a concert.

The temperature of the room was absurd, so hot to the point security at the front of the stage was actually giving away free bottles of water the entire show.  I saw two people carried off, presumably because of heat exhaustion.  The effects of which were only made worse in my elevated position an arm's length away from the speakers.  My goal after leaving the concert was to take my pants off as soon as legally possible.

Which reminds me, no one looks good after a concert. Can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I'm reading now 5/2/13 UPDATE

I've decided to do something a little different for these posts and write about my expectations for the book before I read it. From there I'll continue to speak about my feelings halfway through it, and what I think at the end. This way we can see if my expectations live up to the reality of the book throughout the reading experience.
***
With that said today I begin reading "Odd Thomas" by Dean Koontz. I know I'm a little behind the Odd bandwagon but I prefer to let the hype of books die down before I read them (unless they plan on making a movie of it, then I have to read it before the movie is released) and Odd Thomas had some pretty good hype. Obviously I haven't read it yet, but the impression I got from this whole book series is that Koontz was reminding people that he's still here (and that his name isn't Stephen King).  


I've read Koontz before and while I like his writing I share the common concern about his books held by many readers of his, which is that once he has a good idea he goes back to the well too many times (which seems like it may be the case with the various Odd books). However, despite those concerns I have high hopes for this first book of the series and we'll see after if I decide to read any of the others.

Update 5/13/13 I've read nearly half of the book, and as you can tell from the dates of this post, it's been slow going.  I haven't been too impressed with the book.  I was dangerously close to getting to my 75 page limit when the book suddenly picked up.  The first 50 or so pages are dry useless fodder Koontz uses to pad his word count.  After getting through those pages, the story begins developing and he'c crafted an interesting world for Odd Thomas.  Prior to reading the book, I was aware (and thus don't consider this a spoiler) that Odd had the ability to see dead people.  I wasn't sure of the nature of this or how this would play into the story, but obviously it'd be the main factor.  He's done some things to differentiate his version of this trope from other popular ones, such as The Sixth Sense.

While Koontz has created an interesting world for Odd to live in, he hasn't populated it with any persons of interest, except for his one friend Little Ozzie.  Odd had a famous ghost companion, that I won't ruin the surprise of, but before it seems his story could develop, he's removed from the book, at least temporarily.  I'm holding out hope that that he'll return before the end.  Reading the description of the antagonist, I'm sure that he was meant to be an interesting character, but I find myself pulled towards the happenings around him.

Certainly things will continue along a path that satisfies my curiosities, but I fear that Koontz won't be able to get out of his own way and let the story go where it wants to, as opposed to where he thinks it should.

Update 5/29/13 So the book is finished and I'm not upset about it, but it didn't meet my expectations.  I liked the premise of the character being able to see dead people, and these things he calls bodachs.  Like I said earlier, Dean Koontz built an interesting world, but I found that he failed to fill it with equally interesting people.  Odd's best Friend Little Ozzie and his girlfriend Stormy are the two most interesting characters, but the former plays such a minor role he only appears in a scene or two.  The later, his girlfriend, is a nice character against Odd, I just wish she did more.

Odd learns of a pending terrorist (not the Arab variety) attack on his quiet town of Pico Mondo, and sets out to prevent it using his abilities.  It's a good story that Koontz finds an interesting twist to.  My major concern is the introduction of a black room, that goes unexplained.  At the end of the book, two possible explanations are provided, but it's never shown whether either of them are true, or if it's something else entirely.  The introduction to the room does nothing more than pique your interest, but plays no part in the actual story, so for it to not be explained, is a cop out on Koontz' part.

Overall the book found a way to put a new spin on ideas that have been done many times in the past by combining them in ways I haven't read before.  I just wish Koontz put more time into the characters that mattered to the story, and followed through on the idea of the black room, or not introduced it at all.

Perhaps the black room comes into play in one of the later books of the series but appearing in the first book and the POTENTIAL launch for a series, I don't think he should have left such a glaring plot thread unresolved in this book.

As for a rating, if you're a Dean Koontz fan, you've probably already read the book, or you will regardless of the rating.  If you aren't a fan or haven't read any of him before I'd rate it a Page 75

It's not worth the commitment to read the entire book and potentially be lured into reading more from the series.  I personally will be staying away from any of the sequels. On to the next one...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Intro 5: The Anonymous Portrait



Although this was the 4th story I had published it was the first story I ever had accepted, and as such certainly holds a special place with me.  I'd like to think that even if it weren't the first accepted one, it'd still be one of my favorite stories just from a quality standpoint.

I read the call for submission from this upstart company asking for horror stories revolving around a found item, hence the title of the anthology "Look What I Found". The writing prompt intrigued me and I wanted to write something for it but I couldn't think of a fitting story that didn't seem like a rehash of a dozen other books/stories I've read.  Resigned to let this antho pass by I began writing something else, but more importantly, at the time I was reading Stephen King "The Reaper's Image" and while I truthfully can't remember much about that story the description of the mirror sparked an idea for "Look What I Found".  From there I was just in the zone, the way a basketball player can get on a hot streak, the story just flew out of me.

This is also probably a reason why I like this piece so much, that it was inspired by a Stephen King story, who is one of my inspirations. From the haunted mirror sparked the idea for "The Anonymous Portrait" a twisty tale of the past coming back to haunt you, although it may not always be your own past.



Without further delay, the intro to "The Anonymous Portrait"...

"Sir Riley, what a pleasant surprise. Thank you for gracing my humble establishment." Luis Feldman, proprietor of Feldman's Antiques is unaware that Sir Malcolm Riley is there by chance. His automobile broke down just outside and Sir Riley entered in an attempt to escape the heat.
"Stop your cobbling man. Money and a title doesn't make me a better person, nor is this a humble shop if it provides for you and yours." Sir Riley stands at an impressive 6'2" with a good 300 pounds of supporting girth. "Now, why don't you show me around your fine establishment, while I wait for my automobile to be repaired."
Luis didn't need any more of an invitation; he takes Sir Riley directly to his backroom of fine antiques that the average customer couldn't afford. Hoping to make his first sale in a fortnight, he begins rattling off the history of each item Sir Riley even momentarily pauses on. "Ah, that chest migrated to Baltimore by way of Rio Jaina, originally brought across the ocean during Columbus' fourth and final voyage.
Sir Riley replies more flippantly than Luis would have preferred, "hmm, interesting."
"If that doesn't suit your tastes, perhaps this credenza salvaged from the original White House when most of the interior was burnt beyond repair in 1814."
As it appears that Sir Riley's interest is piqued by the credenza, his attention is pulled through a doorway into what appears to be a closet. "What's in there? I'd very much like to explore that room if you don't mind."
Not wanting to outright refuse a man of stature like Sir Riley, Luis explains, "Ah, that is just a storage room for items labeled 'undesirables'. Nothing that would be of interest to a man of your wealth."
"Tsk, tsk. I didn't become a rich man by passing up a good deal. Consider this, if I don't find something of interest in there, I'll purchase the chest."
Unable to reject such an offer, Luis leads the gentleman through the clutter of coverless books, broken mirrors, scratched furniture, and....
"Who is that in this portrait?"
"Apologies sir, this is an unidentified portrait, by an unrecognizable artist. That is the reason it is among the undesirables. However, in this portfolio, there's a rare sketch by author H.P. Lovecraft."
Unable to pry his eyes from the painting, "No, you must tell me about this painting. I know this man, I cannot place his face but I undoubtedly know this man."
"I'm sorry sir, but I've done all the research I can, but the subject and artist remain a mystery. If you know this man, I dare say you may be the only person who does."
"Nonsense, why would you purchase a painting you knowingly couldn't sell?"
"Again sir, I must apologize, the painting was amidst a crate of paintings from a private collection. The bank auctioned off the entirety of the collection when Lord and Lady Williamson were found dead with no heirs."
"How did they die?"
"It appears each of your inquiries lead to another mystery I do not know the answer of."
Before Sir Riley can ask another unanswerable question, they are interrupted by his driver. "Sir, the automobile is operational. It needs extensive repairs, however it will return you to your home."
"Very good. Load this painting as well." Shaking Luis' hand, "Thank you for indulging my elderly curiosity Mr. Feldman. Please send me a voucher for three times your asking price, and not a penny less."


Well that seems innocent enough, right?  If you want to know how this becomes a horror story published in an anthology with such a creepy cover, you can purchase it at the usual spots; amazon.com, Joker's Child (located in Fair Lawn), and the AzarRising Mobile Bookstore (trunk of my car).

While this story was going through the editing process an interesting issue came up.  The editors didn't like that "Sir Riley" was referred to as 'sir'.  They read this as meaning he was a British royal 'sir' and as such must have been a UK citizen at the time the story takes places since the only person at the time to have dual citizenship was Winston Churchill.  I kindly pointed out that he was called sir only as a sign of respect, not as a title.  The editors weren't satisfied with this explanation and changed the title from Sir to Mr.

So that was my first clash with editorial, and honestly I didn't put up a fight.  The title wasn't a big deal to me, and again it was the first story I had accepted to be published, I didn't want to jinx it and/or ruin my standing with the editors for future publications, and it's a good thing too, I was published twice more with them.