Saturday, December 24, 2011


Today is Christmas Eve and the mid-way point of Hanukkah, and the New Year looms. So I wanted to take a moment to ruminate on the holidays and to offer some thoughts and a message.
I celebrate the holiday in pretty typical fashion, with family, Christmas cookies, and gifts under the tree. I make it a point to enjoy Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” every year, in either written or movie form. I overindulge in shopping and snacking on holiday treats, as most of the world does. And I stop to remember Christmases of old (well, of my own old, anyway). Memories of beloved grandparents no longer with me, and a father who has passed on some ten years ago. Memories of favorite gifts – both given and received. Memories of working the busy season alongside friends and coworkers, providing good food and cheer to those who hired us to provide them a holiday party. Memories of snow and of favorite holiday decorations. Memories of the smells of the holidays: seasonal treats baking, turkey roasting, the heady scent of pine boughs and the mustiness of ornaments retrieved from storage. 

I stopped decorating my own home many years ago, as being alone it seemed so much work just for me. But I still enjoy putting up the tree with my mother at her house, and going through all of our yearly traditions of decorating and baking. In my childhood we spent Christmas Eve at my mother’s parent’s home, exchanging gifts with them and the extended family and feasting on holiday snacks and then lasagna late in the evening after gifts were open. Christmas morning was Christmas at home with mom and dad and my brother, and then the afternoon and evening was spent at my father’s parent’s home, opening gifts from them and having the traditional turkey dinner. My parents divorced and my paternal grandparents moved to Florida when I was in grade school, so the family schedule changed, and Christmas Eve was split between my dad’s house and then the maternal grandparents’, and Christmas day was spent wholly at home. Today the grandparents and dad are all gone, so the holidays are much smaller and quieter: I spend Christmas Eve with mom, preparing for Christmas dinner and eating Chinese food, and then my brother and his family come the next morning for Christmas breakfast and to exchange gifts before heading to his wife’s family’s celebration. Mom and I spend the rest of Christmas day together, have a quiet dinner and watching a movie. While I miss those who have gone – especially this time of the year – and the shrinking of the holiday celebrations, I truly love the time and traditions we share.

I know that I often present myself as a gloomy, unhappy soul, especially here and elsewhere on-line, but truly I am not. Those who truly know me know that I'm warm and loving, gregarious, very funny with a quick wit and sharp tongue, and loyal to a fault. I am blessed with a good life, a beautiful home, and a small but loyal and loving band of friends and family. This past year has been trying on the job front, and it has beaten me down a number of times, but I manage to pick myself up and be happy that I have the people and things I have in my life, and that I have been able to make it through, despite the lack of employment and financial squeeze. Somehow or other all of the bills still get paid, there’s food in the kitchen and gas in my car, so I guess I’m okay. Certainly I hope that the new year brings a resolution to this employment problem, and I’m remaining hopeful that something good is headed my way.

So, in uncharacteristically mushiness, I’d like to wish the very, very best to everyone at this joyous season, and for the coming year. And some special thanks and cyberhugs go to an assortment of folks, in no particular order: my brother and his wife and daughter, Amanda – my little bird who has somehow grown into a young college woman (when the hell did THAT happen?)! My mom who is my strength and support and my anchor. My best and oldest pal, Kevin, who is like a brother. My other two Brothers of Darkness, Fred and Gary (Gary we missed you this year at the Gathering Darkness). My friends and students of the word, Tom and Oscar over at Miskatonic River Press. My dearest friend, my angel of light, Terri whom I owe a bunch of lunches! My friend and writing partner, Ted, whose thoughts and style mesh so well with mine that I think we share a brain! Dr. D. who keeps me grounded and moving in the right direction. Cognac and Holly, my feline companions and “children”. The B-52s, my all-time favorite band, who I was delighted to see live this summer (just blocks from my house!) and who I was thrilled to correspond with throughout the autumn! And to anyone I overlooked, my sincerest apologies.

As we move into the New Year I wish incalculable good wishes and prosperity for everyone, myself included (come on, good job, come on!!!). I face 2012 with a schedule full of stories promised to various editors and markets and numerous publications forthcoming. I’m helping an up-and-coming author assemble his first fiction collection, and am thrilled to be in on the ground floor of what I know is going to be a NAME in the industry. I have projects in the works for at least one publisher, with feelers and queries out for others. And I’m actually waiting to hear on a couple possible employment opportunities. So I think the coming year is going to be good, and that certain unfortunate aspects of 2011 are going to soon turn around.  So I raise a glass to bid farewell to 2011 and anxiously await all the good things coming in 2012. Happy Holidays!

Until next time from the House of Secrets,
And to all a good night…. 

 (Well, I had to include SOMETHING creepy! Happy Holidays!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Werewolves of London (and Other Places, Too!)


I've just sold a new anthology pitch, and here's the prospectus to get a jump-start on. Gentlemen (and ladies), start your enzymes!

New Legends of the Werewolf
Edited by Scott David Aniolowski

Author and Editor Scott David Aniolowski is now accepting submissions for MARK OF THE BEAST; New Legends of the Werewolf, an anthology of werewolf tales to be published in late 2012 by Chaosium, Inc.

Werewolves have recently become very big in pop culture, thanks to the popularity of certain young adult novels and their movie adaptations. Unfortunately, our lycanthropic friends are now being portrayed as pouty, angsty, shirtless hunky teens, instead of savage, bestial figures from folklore and nightmares. It is my goal to assemble stories that put the horror back into the werewolf.

There are countless variations on the werewolf legend from around the world and throughout history. The more common causes for lycanthropy include being bitten by a wolf or werewolf, cursed by a Gypsy or witch, a family curse, donning an enchanted pelt, imbibing potions or poisons, selling your soul to the devil, falling from religious grace, etc. Some werewolves change from human to giant wolf – some to hybrid wolf-men. And the infliction strikes at various times, depending upon the legend: during a full moon, while under great emotional stress, when the pelt is worn or potion drank – or even at will – etc. Some werewolves are aware of their condition and remember everything when they change – others have no knowledge whatsoever, or experience memories as “nightmares”. Some are solitary – others live in packs. Silver kills some werewolves but not all. Clinical Lycanthropy is a real mental disorder wherein the sufferer believes he or she is a werewolf. And so on….

I want authors to explore different legends and aspects of the werewolf stories, and just about any genre is acceptable (Gothic horror, quiet horror, sci-fi, cyberpunk, splatter, psychological, Victorian London, the old west, folklore/urban legend, etc. -- NO HUMOR -- SERIOUS HORROR STORIES ONLY!) as long as the underlying theme is HORROR! Pop culture has turned the werewolf into dreamy poster boys and romance novel figures (don’t believe me? Browse and see for yourself how many werewolf romance novels there are!). I want to give the werewolf his balls back! I want to make him a figure of terror and nightmares again.   

HERE'S THE IMPORTANT PART: Send submissions in MS Word doc. or rtf. files. Basic formatting: single spaced, aligned left, no tabs (a space between paragraphs ONLY), no page numbering, no headers or footers, etc. Considering short-shorts/flash fiction up to 8,000ish words. Poetry is okay, as well. Reprints will be considered only if they have previously appeared in very limited run publications (indicate previous publication along with date and approximate circulation). Payment is 3 cents a word for new works (possibly less for reprints), and 3 contributor copies of the published book. Publication will be in trade paperback format with an estimated release of late 2012. Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2012. DO NOT SEND ME RUN-OF-THE-MILL, STANDARD OR TYPICAL WEREWOLF STORIES. I WANT TO SEE SOMETHING NEW AND FRESH AND EXCITING!

Until next time from the House of Secrets,

Good Writing!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Happily, I can announce that two of my stories have found homes in forthcoming anthologies. I’m also working on three more stories, am finishing up an RPG book, have successfully pitched a collection by an up-and-coming author, and am about to pitch another anthology. I have three or four outstanding invites to contribute to forthcoming books, and am hoping to submit to them all. Fingers crossed, all around! Seems like it’s a good time for my writing. Don’t know whether the stars are right or I’m just spending more time working at it (likely a combination of both), but things are going really well. As I’ve mentioned before, writing does not come easily to me, and when it does come it comes in streaks, so I take full advantage when its running hot. I really enjoy it and just wish it were lucrative enough to support me, as the depressing and soul-crushing search for “real” employment continues to plod along fruitlessly.

So here are the contents of the two latest books to use my stories:


A HORROR ROSH CHODESH                                                                                                                 “The Tomb of Oscar Wilde” by W.H. Pugmire 

HORRORS OF VALENTINE’S DAY                                                                                                        “Love and Darkness” by Oscar  Rios                                                                                                          “Be Mine” by Brian Sammons

A HORROR OF PASSOVER                            
“Cthulhu Mhy’os” by Lois H. Gresh 

HORRORS OF EASTER                     
“And the Angels Sing” by Cody Goodfellow                                                                                             “The Last Communion of Allyn Hill” by Pete Rawlik                                                                               “Mrs. Spriggs’ Easter Attire” by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. and Tara VanFlower                                               “Season of Sacrifice and Resurrection” by Adrian Tchaikovsky        

A HORROR OF MOTHER’S DAY                                                                                            “Mother’s Night” by Ann K. Schwader 

HORRORS OF THE FOURTH OF JULY                                                                                                  “Free Fireworks” by T.E. Grau                                                                                                                    “Doc Corman’s Haunted Palace One Fourth of July” by Don Webb 

A HORROR OF VJ DAY                                                                                                                         “Translator” by James Robert Smith 

HORRORS OF HALLOWEEN                                                                                                “Hallowe’en in a Suburb” by H.P. Lovecraft                                                                                              “The Hindmarsh Abomination” – or – “Moonday” by Will Murray                                                          “The Trick” by Ramsey Campbell

A HORROR OF THE DAY OF THE DEAD                                                                                         “El Dia De Los Muertos” by Kevin Ross 

A HORROR OF GUY FAWKES NIGHT                                                                                     “Treason and Plot” by William Meikle 

A HORROR OF REMEMBERANCE DAY                                                                                               “The Dreaming Dead” by Joshua Reynolds 

A HORROR OF THANKSGIVING                                                                                                           “Entrée” by Donald R. Burleson 

HORRORS OF YULE                                                                                                                  “Keeping Festival” by Mollie Burleson                                                                                                      “Wassail” by Tom Lynch 

HORRORS OF CHRISTMAS                                                                                                                    “Krampusnacht” by Joshua Reynolds                                                                                                         "Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise: A Tale of Possession in Old Grosse Pointe” by Thomas Ligotti              “Letters to Santa” by Scott David Aniolowski                                                                                            “Keeping Christmas” by Michael G. Szymanski                                                                                        “The Nativity of the Avatar” by Robert M. Price

This one should be out by the end of this year.
And then there’s:

UNDEAD & UNBOUND                                                                                                                   William Meikle "Descanse En Paz"                                                                                                            Gary McMahon "Dead Baby Keychain Blues"                                                                                           Cody Goodfellow "Blind Item"                                                                                                                   Mercedes Murdock Yardley "A Personal Apocalypse"                                                                               Damien Walters Grintalis "When Dark Things Sleep"                                                                                John Goodrich "In the House of a Million Years"                                                                                       C.J. Henderson "Undead Night of the Undeadest Undead"                                                                        David Dunwoody "Incarnate"                                                                                                                      Tom Lynch "The Wreckers"                                                                                                                        David Schembri "The Unforgiving Court"                                                                                                  Robert M. Price "I am Legion"                                                                                                                    Robert Neilson "Marionettes"                                                                                                                      Pete Rawlik "North of the Arctic Circle"                                                                                                    Brian M. Sammons & David Conyers “Romero 2.0”                                                                                 Gustavo Bondoni “Thunder in Old Kilpatrick”                                                                                           Scott David Aniolowski “Mother Blood”                                                                                                   Glynn Owen Barrass “Phallus Incarnate”                                                                                                   Oscar Rios “Scavengers”                                                                                                                             Mark Allan Gunnells “The Unexpected"                   

Which is supposed to be out in the first part of 2012. The idea of Undead & Unbound was stories that used the undead in some different way. I don’t know as mine is necessarily different or “unbound” beyond that it uses a very obscure member of the walking dead, and there is a sort of “surprise” ending. But the editors liked it enough to choose to include it, so they must have thought it fit. As I’ve not read any of the rest of these stories, I’m really looking forward to seeing the published book.
Next are stories for a cyberpunk book, a western horror book and a Thomas Ligotti tribute. Neither the cyberpunk nor western themes are my typical gigs, and I have very little interest in either genre, so this is going to be a challenge for me. But I have solid ideas for both, and am particularly excited about my cyberpunk idea. I have an amazingly talented co-writer for the Ligotti tale, and it’s a sort of dark, twisted fairy tale sort of thing. THAT one is going to be a blast.

So, I guess I better get back to work on some of these unfinished projects – they aren’t going to write themselves. 

Until next time from the House of Secrets,

Somebody's crying now
His head is full of pain
Take him to the building
where they're playing the perfect game
Perfect game
Perfect game
He's standing at the window
to watch the falling rain
No matter how he sees it
the view remains the same
Perfect game
Perfect game
They don't know what to call him
He doesn't have a name
But they still know how to force him
to keep playing the perfect game
A set of perfect criminals
is hard to criticize
When your watching the perfect crime
through a pair of perfect eyes
Perfect eyes
Perfect eyes
When everybody else is simply wondering why we came
Maybe it's because we're all playing the perfect game
Perfect game
Perfect game
They don't know what to call us
Because we don't have a name
But they still know how to force us
to keep playing the perfect game
So if you want to find out why you call someone insane
Just sit inside the building where they're playing the perfect game

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Voice

So I’ve probably mentioned before that I am not a fast writer; that I am not prolific writer.  That’s not to say that I can’t write fast or that I can’t be prolific. If the mood takes me and I’m inspired the sky’s the limit – I can crank out thousands of words at a time and burn through a project in a couple days. And if the mood doesn’t take me and I’m not inspired… well, it might be a year or more between significant work. That’s just the way my personal muse works. He or she is moody, fickle little fucker, and when not in the mood to play forget it – there’s no forcing it. I suppose there are “techniques” I could practice to help me produce more words, but my experience has always been that when I force it all I get is a lot of crap, and it’s a long, tedious, and painful process to get that.

But, I can do the editing, assembling and copy work on the works of others pretty much any time, and therein I get an abundance of pleasure and reward. There’s nothing like soliciting the work of an author and waiting for that story or poem to come in (used to be in the mail – that was extra exciting because there’d be a big envelope or package that I knew contained something fun – e-mail and attached files just aren’t the same, sadly; they smack of drudgery and office work and not the fabulous creation of some talented wordsmith).

Sometimes a story is godawful, and I feel like I’ve wasted a part of my life that I’ll never get back. But I learn who tends to produce the stuff I don’t like, and they don’t usually get invited back to future book projects. Worse maybe are those pieces that are just okay; they are competently written and might be decent stories, but they don’t solicit any excitement out of me or bring me to any heights of ecstasy (or depths of despair for bad work). Sometimes reading bad work is better than reading just average stuff because at least I can be brought to loathing of a work – I may have wasted some time, but at least I felt something! And then, on those rare occasions, I find that sparkling gem. And that is really exciting.

I don’t know how to truly explain the excitement of reading something fantastic that an author has written specifically for me. It is like I’ve somehow had some tiny influence on a masterpiece; it might be a bigger thrill than writing something really good of my own. It doesn’t happen often. If I’m lucky I’ll get one or two fantastic pieces for a book, the rest being hopefully good stories and maybe a few acceptables just to fill it out. And the thrill of finding a masterpiece is compounded when the author is a new guy or gal. Discovering that new voice – that’s what every editor secretly hopes for – to be able to say “so-and-so had his first story published in one of my books!” To help to usher in a young new talent is an editor’s dream – or mine, at least.

Once I’ve found my jewel I have to decide where in the book it’s going to go. Assembling a collection of stories is like composing a piece of music; there is a flow and a rhythm to it. The works have to come together to create the right feel for the book. Of course, the kick in the head about all of this is that I would guess that most people don’t read a fiction collection in order, but jump around from story to story, probably starting with familiar names and moving on from there. It’s too bad – we editors do put a great deal of thought into the placement of stories in a book. But I’m a hypocrite – I jump around when I read, too. But I do take note of the arrangement of stories and try to see the editor’s bigger picture. Eh, what are you gonna do?

I’ve been exceptionally fortunate with the handful of anthologies I’ve had the pleasure of assembling. I’ve had the chance to work with and become friends with some pretty big names and a bunch of great new folks – I’m still in awe sometimes when I look through my list of contacts and phone numbers. And I’ve seen a few really brilliantly-talented people come through, some of whom went on to bigger things and others faded away. That’s another hazard of the industry – sometimes someone does only have one good story in them. Or frequently the more brilliant talents carry a lot of baggage and just can’t produce much for one reason or another. It’s too bad, really, but I fully understand, although make no claims to brilliance or exceptional talent… but I do understand baggage!

So I take solace – and inspiration – from the talented, talented authors who willingly create something special for me when I ask them. So if I can’t be Mr. Prolific with my own writing, at least I can enjoy the creations of other gifted scribes who answer my calls and take joy and pride in the books I put together and the occasional new voice I find and help bring to the world.

Until next time from the House of Secrets,

Sweetly the voices decay
Draw on the lines that they say
I’ve lost it once before
Now it cries to me

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Move Along – There’s Nothing to see Here

Or at least that’s how I feel.  It must be something endemic with creative folk: depression and moodiness. Maybe its post-project depression? I’m nearing the end of a biggish project for Chaosium Inc’s Call of Cthulhu RPG – a follow-up to my apparently incredibly popular and successful Malleus MonstrorumMalleus Monstrorum 2 (yes, a very original title. Do you like it? I came up with it all by myself!). Its looking like it’s going to top out just under 100,000 words. Not bad for under a month’s worth of work. I’m also putting the last touches on my latest anthology, Horror for the Holidays, and should have that one done and off to my publisher in a few weeks. And I’m finishing up my own latest story, “Mother Blood” for an as-yet unannounced anthology of stories about the undead (or is it the living-challenged now? Political correctness and all….). And I have a couple other invites to write for anthologies. AND, there are one or two hush-hush things in the works that, if they come to fruition, are going to be absolutely fantastic! It’s actually a pretty good time for me, writing-wise, anyway.
So why do I feel like shit? Sitting here, blasting The B-52’s through my headphones, pecking at keys and wondering what the hell I’m going to actually SAY here. It’s been a month – I have to post something. Here I thought this blog thing would be easy. I mean, I’m a writer for fuck sake. Just WRITE something. Were that it was so easy. More than a writer, I’m a slave to my raw emotions, and they tend toward the darker end of the spectrum. I’m just not a butterfly and sunshine person. I lurk in the shadows on the dark side of this mortal coil. Don’t get me wrong – it has served me well, but it’s been a lifelong struggle to keep in check. And sometimes a little more slips out of the box than I’m ready to see, and it’s a fight to get it back in. 

Chronic depression has haunted me since childhood. Why? I don’t know, exactly. I’d guess it to be a cocktail of nature and nurture. I know medically that I have a hormone imbalance. My brain doesn’t produce enough of something. Couple that with abandonment issues, an obsessive personality and severe social anxiety and I guess it makes for a sloppy mess. A therapist once told me that depression was like a hole in the sidewalk; you walk down the street and you fall into the hole. The idea is to walk down the street, see the hole and to walk around it. The issues don’t ever go away, but to conquer them is to be free of them. For a long while I not only walked down that street but I leapt into that hole with both feet. I tried medicinal assistance and while it “took the edge off”, it pretty much killed my creativity: I didn’t write for YEARS. So I had to wonder if I had only two choices – be creative and suffer and look for tall buildings to jump off or “take the edge off” and never really feel anything or write again. It took some fine tuning, but we finally got it down to a happy balance; I managed to finally slay my biggest demon a few years ago, and the freedom it brought is indescribable.

So, where’s this all going? I have no idea. Oh yeah, this all started with the topic of writing and why creative folk are tortured. I suppose to create you have to be able to tap into something deep within yourself. And maybe those best suited to the task are the unbalanced and disturbed… or “special”, as I think we’re supposed to be called today! It takes someone strong enough to really dig in and root around in some dark, nasty stuff. Not that we CAN’T do the rainbows and butterflies thing; I like a pretty waterfall or sunset as much as the next guy. And don’t even get me started on kittens! But it seems to be the darkness that offers the most creativity. Maybe it isn’t really the darkness itself, but the person’s ability to face and conquer it? The alternative is pretty bleak. When someone finds out I write horror and asks me “where do you get your ideas from?” (clichéd, but it DOES happen), I answer them “I get my ideas the same place you get yours – from my mind.” The difference, I guess, is just in the way I see things. So I guess if I have to suffer for my art it’s worth it – so long as I remember that I’m the Master over my own Darkness. 

Until next time from the House of Secrets,

The places I stalk
Where no man would walk
The king of suspense forever.
I'll turn my home,
I'll turn my home,
I'll turn my home into Bates Motel