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I’m sure you’re all dying to know how I start my day.

We have one of those light alarms that gradually gets brighter as it approaches its set time, so…I usually wake up before it’s fully on and I lay there trying to remember dream fragments, or what I need to do that day, until the sound kicks on, which is set to waves crashing on the beach. Then, we both lie there until the sound becomes annoying, and I finally roll out of bed. Usually around 7:30 or so.

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Then I take a shower, or not. I scritch Ingrid Cookieface Jefferson until she’s been mostly satisfied. Special note on Cookieface: At night, she sleeps in her little cozy cat bed on the floor next to my side of the bed. Almost every night, she wakes up meowing, and she doesn’t stop meowing until I’ve gotten up and pet her. She does this 1-3 times per night, 5-6 times a week. I don’t know if she’s having monstrous Cookieland nightmares from her time in prison, or what. But, I do it, because her meows are pathetic and they wake me up anyway. I’ve gotten used to it.

By now, hubs is downstairs well into feeding Gudie Gumbands and Aud the Deepminded, which, if the cans comes from the fridge, requires a little warming on the stove. During this waiting period, they are positive we’re just standing there ignoring their pleas. They can’t have dry kibble just sitting around, because Aud is a fatty-fatty fat cat and is on a diet. So, by this time, they’re hungry and screeching together in unison, which sounds demonic.

So, I come down and start making my coffee, which is instant, much to everyone’s dismay. My first coffee was instant. I’ve tried coffee makers and fresh, good coffee, but it always reminds me of the Starbucks coffee we made at a theater I worked at in the 90s, which, even freshly brewed, tasted like burnt ass. So, instant coffee (don’t worry, it’s the fancy, good kind). Since I stopped taking it with cream and sugar, I, for some reason, need to have it cold, even in winter, so I dump ice in it. It’s instant, so it doesn’t water it down.

Then, I retreat to my study with my cold coffee and my phone (which we put on chargers in the kitchen overnight, because I hate having the phone around as we go to bed), while hubs heads back upstairs to meditate.

In the study, I post whatever story installment is going up on Wattpad that day, send a bit or two out on social media to announce the installment is up, and then I answer emails, comments, DMs, whatever. I do some promo stuff. Then, I break open whatever book I’m reading, and read and drink my cold instant coffee until about 9:30 or so.

At this point, I reopen the ol’ laptop and look at the news.

Now, fully disgusted, it’s 10 o’clock and time to feed The Creature, Cookieface, and the Brothers Littleman. They all always have grazing kibble, so the need to feed isn’t as dire as with the first floor demons. Then, I eat breakfast.

And that’s it. That’s my morning, most mornings. Now you know.

Every Friday, starting today, I will be releasing a news story that I actually used in the creation of Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story, with commentary. Gawp in awe at the horror  and stunning stupidity that is Florida Man and enjoy the behind-the-scenes foundational madness of this Florida Man novel.

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John Ott, of Boca Raton, was helping a friend outside when his neighbor, Alberto Felipe, walked up and requested a cigarette. Upon refusal, the Felipe embraced Ott in a bear hug and bit off a piece of his ear. Ott’s ear was sewn back on and Felipe, who, not surprisingly, had three prior arrests on assault and battery charges, was arrested for a fourth time and charged with federal aggravated battery. As of January 2014, he was out of $3,000 bond. Don’t think Ott’s a purely innocent man, though obviously you don’t just bite a man’s ear off. Ott was sentenced in 1977 for second degree murder, grand theft auto in 1987, and committed forgery, escaped jail, and did a lot of robbery in 1988. He was in and out of custody from 1979 to 1995—managed to get his ear bitten off in 2014—before returning to prison in 2016 for possession of a controlled substance and, again, grand theft auto. It’s worth noting that he had a tattoo described as “Florida, Gator” on his left leg. He seems to be a free man as of this writing.

-Moran, Lee. “Florida Man Bites Off Neighbor’s Ear After He Refuses to Bum a Cigarette.”NY Daily News. Tribune Publishing Company. January 9, 2014.

CLICK HERE to start reading Florida Man for free over on Wattpad! There’s a new installment up today!

 

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When I was 11 or 12, I was home alone one Sunday afternoon. I don’t remember where the rest of my family was, but it was one of those weird afternoons — a hot summer day, but it had just rained, so off to one side were these dark brooding clouds, having just barely passed, and to the other, the sun. The leaves on the trees around the house still dripped.

There was knock on the front door, which was weird, because we never used the front door. The side door was closer to the driveway, so that was the main entrance/exit. I looked through the door and there was this man standing there. An old guy. I opened up.

He was an albino African American in a fedora-type hat and a long dark rain coat. He asked is “Danny” was around — my father — so, I knew he was family, somehow, some way. A strange, vaguely unpleasant smell came from him. The whole thing was strange.

I said, no, my dad wasn’t home, and he just smiled and told me to tell him Ludlow had stopped by to say hello, and then he left.

When my parents came home, I explained the strange visitation, and my dad laughed and gave me a look. He asked me, “So, how’d you like ol’ Ludlow?”

Ol’ weird, smelly, albino Ludlow. I said he seemed nice enough. But, overall, the experience was a little unnerving. The smell, my dad surmised, might have been embalming fluid, as Ludlow was a mortician.

I think he was a cousin of some sort, but I never saw, nor heard about, Ludlow again.

I’ve been working on a book for the last 12 years. I recently just finished the first draft, finally. The protagonist is an albino black mortician named Ludlow. It’s set in my home town. It’s a ghost story. It’s set in 1992, but involves the 1905 explosion of the Rand Powder Mill that occurred nearby, the dead of which the above monument memorializes. It’s located in the Fairchance Cemetery — I took this picture recently, as I needed the inscription.

Maple Grove Cemetery runs right up against Fairchance Cemetery — there is no partition, so if you don’t know, you couldn’t tell there are two, and not one. The above monument is about fifty yards from the veterans section of maple Grove, where my father is now buried.

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When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in these cemeteries, and St. Joseph’s next door, this one separated from the others by a cow path between the farm fields surrounding them all. There is a funeral scene in my book, which, in my head, takes place at our old family plot, (the Clares and the Allens) on the other side of Maple Grove, which my father used to take care of when he was alive. At one point, he’d had a mini-stroke while cutting the grass and fell over into a grave indentation, which he’d joke about later. My dad isn’t in that plot, and in, in fact, the only Davison buried here (in the veterans’ section), the rest all interred at Sylvan Heights in Uniontown. I have no idea why he chose this.

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The Allens and Clares lived in the house we lived in, in which my father was born. There was another house on the property, also occupied, I believe, by the Clares, on the corner by the street, where you can still see the cement walkway that went around it, the foundation long since filled in by my father. The old pipe for the well pump is still there as well. I remember seeing pictures of fit — a typical middle class, 19th-century home.

Once, when I was 10 or so, I thought I saw a man standing by the side of our house, looking up at the second floor, hands on hips. I had just come around the corner and saw him for only an instant, when he turned and ran toward the older house foundation, faster than I could register. But my memory of the figure was that he had no face, and nothing from the knees down. When I told my parents about it, it was concluded it had been 18-year-old James Byrd Allen, who’d died of typhoid, his grave pictured above.

These things aren’t really connected, but in my mind they are. So, yes, it’s a ghost story. And it needs a lot of work, still, even after 12 years.

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Bask in the glory that is my new Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story cover, courtesy of my supremely talented (and patient) husband. Here’s the old placeholder…

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I threw this together on a crap graphics app just to be able to get the story up and running, but ahhhh, yes. Look how much better it is now. Brighter, that title, and little Steve Perry on a pile of meth. I love it. Love it.

What do you think?

Richard Wells, who often creates under the name Slippery Jack, is an artist whose work is steeped in horror and the macabre. With a fondness for traditional mediums that lends his work a chilling authenticity, his illustrations have made perfect adornments to book covers and heavy metal record sleeves. His TV work includes graphic design […]

via Artist Richard Wells on Folk Horror, TV Work and His Upcoming Book — Vampire Squid

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Just a couple of quick announcements;

First, I’ve got a three-part short story up on Wattpad this morning, Dark Foul Light:

In April of 1941, Geoffrey is a Liverpool painter still healing from wounds incurred from a recent German bombing raid, and haunted by the memory of one of the many who didn’t survive. Since then, the colors he uses seem dull and lifeless. In an effort to reclaim his former artistic drive, he takes a job refurbishing the ceiling mural of St. Luke’s Cathedral. But something is with him, always, and, high upon the scaffolding, he unwittingly straddles the veil between the living and the dead.

This story is based on the song “Heartwork” by Carcass. Fun Tip: Take a moment to to give the lyrics a quick read before dipping into this 5700-word story. This is a one-off!

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Second, the first part of Florida Man’s Chapter Five is up. Florida Man is updated Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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And, finally, as of yesterday, Dread Confluence (short story collection) now has one full novelette up (in five parts): The Poison Spring.”

Dread Confluence is a chilling collection of tales — from the uncanny to the downright ghoulish — based in and around the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.*

The first tale begins in 1873, in the town of Economy, where the unsuspecting Paul Gaffey taps into the underground river for a community well…also tapping into something more ominous.

This gets updated 2-3 times a week and is currently planned for six stories total.

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So, I’ve been posting stuff over on Wattpad. It’s a rough platform, and by that, I mean, it’s not the best place for what I write. It is populated mainly by teenaged girls thirsty for, apparently, alpha-male werewolf romances. I know, I didn’t know that was even a thing, but it goes along with the fact that “toxic relationships” is also very trendy there. This makes me sad in that these poor girls have clearly internalized the “if he hurts you, it means he likes you” line adults have been feeding them their whole, short lives. And that is a bummer. I hope they grow out of it.

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But yes, Wattpad has a massive romance (of all sorts) readership, and although Florida Man: The Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story is, well, a love story, it is a love story among many other things. I’d feel wrong tagging it with the romance genre, because it is hardly romantic (depending how you feel about electro-stimulation), and exposing these poor unsuspecting girls to Bildo and MeeMaw’s Whackin’ Dick might be a little much.

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I do have something else up there, though: Dread Confluence. It’s a short story collection of paranormal stories set in and around Pittsburgh, Pa (two novelettes and four short stories — so far. I think it needs one or two more to really round it out.). It is chronological and spans from 1873 to 2010, so far. It is basically my 2011 MFA fiction thesis, which I haven’t really looked at since, but I think it’s good enough for folks to read. There’s an additional story, called The Obstruction (that won’t be posted until later — I update 2-3 times a week, all installments are under 300 words) that I wrote a couple years later, which was prompted by my thesis advisor, who, upon receiving a brain cancer diagnosis, said to me that it was an apt topic for one of my “scary stories.” So, I wrote one for him. It was published, actually, in a Canadian anthology a number of years ago, but since it was set in Pittsburgh, I added it to Dread Confluence.

Why am I posting on Wattpad? I dunno, really. The whole process of querying agents and publishers (at least the ones who accept unsolicited manuscripts) is a lonely, isolated experience with very little in the way of response, let alone rejection. I got knocked out of the game by a variety of ongoing personal situations in the last handful of years, and while I kept writing and doing revisions, no one was reading anything. It feels like I should just be digging a hole in the backyard and throwing the stories in there, maybe dig them up if I can manage to get an agent to bite. When you’re a writer, and you’re going through the process, it gets extremely disheartening writing into a void.

Now, I’ve got a few people reading this stuff. And they seem to be enjoying it, which is a relief.

So, that’s why. Would I rather be publishing traditionally? Absolutely. But it’s a long, hard slough, and I’m not getting any younger. I’m still querying and whatnot, and I’m considering another foray into the self-publishing jungle, but we’ll see. This is fine for now, while I work on finishing this third novel, get a few more shorts for another collection, etc. I’m still working. I’m always working on something. It’ll all come together, eventually.

 

Lee Harper Oswald

This isn’t a post about anything. It’s just the inaugural post to whet the ol’ whistle. I haven’t blogged in years. I don’t even have anything to blog about, but I’ll figure it out as I go.

Today, I’m just going to say: the blog is back. There may or may not be useful information here. I would bet, though, that most of it will be relatively useless, except as maybe a slight entertainment factor.

I am here to slightly entertain you.