Friday, October 30, 2015

Hallowed Ween

I've always loved Halloween, ever since I can remember, but I was a bit worried about it this year, concerned that it would hurt and open up old wounds... Halloween was one of the very few things I had in common with my brother, whom I lost earlier this year.

He and I really weren't close. We didn't see eye-to-eye and we really didn't get along, except for that magical few weeks every autumn leading up to The Big Day. Halloween unified us, created a bond like nothing else could. We decorated together, watched Halloween specials (An old Halloween episode of Martin, any of Roseanne's Halloween specials, Treehouse of Horror, and the classic Garfield special were among our favorites), critiqued the neighborhood decorations, helped each other out with our costumes, and sat together in his room, listening to Halloween themed (and anything you could even stretch to fit that theme loosely) records and 8-track tapes.

He loved inflatable skeletons. I briefly debated getting one and hanging it up in front of the house as some sort of memorial, but I couldn't make myself do it. I think perhaps it's because one of the last gifts I ever sent him was one of his favorite brand of inflatable skeletons.

Honestly, it doesn't hurt as much as I feared it would. I do still love Halloween. For a little while in there, I was almost afraid that I wouldn't, that I'd lose something that has been a defining factor in who I am as a person since I was very, very small. But I focused on some of the good Halloween memories I've had, and shared with others. I wanted to share a few of them with you, my friends and readers, as well.

When I was 3 or 4 and made my first Halloween costume all on my own. I was a picture of a vase of flowers, and I thought I was sooooo clever. I'd taken this big old picture frame I found in the trash, taken the glass and the picture out, and drawn flowers in a big vase on the cardboard backing. Then I cut a hole for my face, dressed all in black and put the hanging wire over my shoulders. No one got it. I mean NO ONE. I got progressively more crestfallen as the night went on and I had to keep explaining what I was to people.

When I was 5 or 6 and insisted on being Elvira, Mistress of the Dark for Halloween. I wasn't old enough or worldy enough to really understand why that might not be the best choice for a kid that young and I was absolutely adamant about the accuracy of my costume, right down to the plunging neckline and tiny dagger (which I made out of foil and poster board, colored, and glued glitter to). THANKFULLY it was bitterly cold out that Halloween and I ended up wearing a puffy coat over my hilariously (to look back on it, anyway) inappropriate costume.

When I was 9 and went as the headless horseman and my brother went as a skeleton. One of my happiest memories of him involves that night, when, for effect, he not only lent me but actually SUGGESTED I borrow one of his most prized possessions (an inflatable skull, which was apparently very rare and incredibly precious to him). I knew how much it meant to him and it really touched me that he'd let me carry it around the neighborhood just to add to my costume. Granted, he watched me like a hawk the entire time, but it was incredibly touching nonetheless.

When I was 15 and depressed, not planning on doing anything but hiding in my room, writing and watching whatever spooky thing was on television,  and my best friend, Laura, came over and dragged me out. For the first time in recorded history, I didn't have a costume planned and wasn't going to dress up, but she convinced me I had to (and she was right!) So I went outside and gathered some sticks and made a necklace resembling that thing from The Blair Witch Project, which had recently come out, and wore it over my all black outfit, calling myself the Blair Witch, which, I rationalized, was fair as the witch herself is never actually shown in the movie.

Halloween 2013, when I dressed up as a Calavera/Sugar Skull Makeup and enjoyed this interaction with a local kid:

Favorite moment of the night:
Teenage boy wearing a trash bag with arm/neck holes: "You're barefoot. Aren't you cold?"
Me: "The dead don't get cold."
TB: *scoff* "You're not dead."
Me: "Shine that flashlight in my eyes." (My pupils are hyperreactive so I don't blink in bright light, and I'm wearing FX lenses that look like red flowers)
TB: *takes a few steps back, then turns and calmly walks about 5 paces before bolting*

Those are a few of my favorite Halloween memories, now it's your turn. What are some of yours?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Maelstrom Girls

The sixth installment of Brian Keene's Maelstrom series from Thunderstorm Books goes on sale today, and as excited as I always am for those sets, this one is special... this one includes a novella by myself and 3 other truly fantastic authors.

I chatted with the other Maelstrom girls and asked them some brief questions about their novellas. Check them out and OF COURSE buy the set!


Tell me, in a sentence or two, what your novella is about.

It's about a young black girl in the 1960s who must deal with her everyday life of bussing and forced school integration, while accepting that she is so very different than the other children around her.

What was your inspiration?

The small town that I grew up in, Hopkinsville KY. The family dynamic and small town vibe all remind me of home. I write a lot about small towns because I moved to Atlanta at a young age and always missed Hopkinsville. But I realize it's not really home anymore. You know what they say, you can never go home again...unless you recreate your own version of it, I suppose.  

Do you (or have you) intend to write more about these characters or in this universe?


Tell me, in a sentence or two, what your novella is about.

A soldier returns to his rural Kentucky hometown after a long tour in Afghanistan and has trouble re-integrating into normal society, especially when his post-war symptoms begin to manifest as deadly hallucinations.

What was your inspiration?

I have a friend who came back from Afghanistan with a lot of interesting stories and experiences. Being a writer, I let some of those stories spin out of control in my mind until I came up with a psychologically damaged character with an eerie story of his own. I was born and raised in Kentucky so I knew a lot of storytellers growing up, and I wanted this weird, mental, pseudo-ghost story to be told in that Kentucky front-porch-gathering style, so a lot of the dialogue is pretty heavily southern.

Do you (or have you) intend to write more about these characters or in this universe?

Nope. I have a real creative wanderlust, so I find it tedious to stick with one person or group of people for too long. I guess there might come a day when I run out of stories to tell, or characters to exploit, and I might go back and revisit some folks from the past, but as of now I have no intention of coming back to the characters in this story.

Tell me, in a sentence or two, what your novella is about.

 I could write a few sentences about the plot, but I don’t think that’s what the novella is really about. I think it’s about an extremely damaged and broken woman – a woman who in a metropolis of Lovecraftian monstrosities is a greater monstrosity by virtue of being actually less monstrous (in the Lovecraftian way) - who is trying to simultaneously make herself better than circumstances and life have made her (as we all do) and discover the origins and purpose of her existence.
What was your inspiration?

Well, I’ve wanted for a number of years to write another long piece set in my colossal Lovecraftian megalopolis of Obsidia, so I decided to combine that with a setting that drew on the many years I’ve spent in the corporate world, in particular the publishing industry. There was an embarrassment of riches to draw on, I have to say.

Do you (or have you) intend to write more about these characters or in this universe?

I do intend to, but I can’t reveal anything more at this point. But, yes, readers will definitely see this protagonist and this world again – a number of times, in fact!


Tell me, in a sentence or two, what your novella is about.

A race of alien berserkers invades an airport and tries to take it (and maybe the rest of the world...) over by bloody, brutal force.

What was your inspiration? 

A few things. The idea itself came to me on vacation. I was standing in line at the gate, waiting to board a plane, and the woman in front of me was just so incredibly annoying... I imagined a gruesome death for her, and my story started to take shape. I also took some inspiration from the Clickers series (one of my favorites!), action movies, friends, family, and what have you. It's sort of a mash up love story/ode to everything good in my life that just happens to be populated by hungry, carnivorous aliens.

Do you (or have you) intend to write more about these characters or in this universe? 

I started a sequel to tell the rest of the story about a week after I finished the first draft. Hopefully, it will see publication someday...

The curator of this phenomenal collection, Mr. Brian Keene himself, also answered a few questions for me:

Daughters of Inanna is a very different project than anything you've worked on in the past. What inspired the idea for the collection?
Each year's Maelstrom set is designed with the same goal in mind -- one of the books is always by an author I enjoy, and that I think my readership would enjoy. It's a good way of convincing buyers to take a chance on that writer. Previous years have included Kelli Owen, Sarah Pinborough, John Urbancik, Geoff Cooper, and others. This year, I wanted to promote four writers instead of one. I thought if we did an anthology--something similar to NIGHT VISIONS or 4X4, that would be a good way to go.

 You've selected writers with very diverse styles and approaches, tell me a bit about that decision.

When I started going over my short list of  authors I wanted to use, I saw your four names (Chesya, Amber, Rachel, and Livia) and decided to reach out to the four of you. To be honest, once you all said yes, it also provided me a chance to champion diversity -- something which I try to do in my own writing, but here was a chance to do it from the publishing side. Diversity is something that is important to Paul at Thunderstorm, as well, and he happily agreed with the line-up.

Were you hoping for somewhat of a cohesive theme, or is the vast array of topics, styles and themes by design?

All four of you have VERY different voices and styles. You're writing very much in the vein of J.F. Gonzalez, Livia's got a real Clive Barker meets Thomas Ligotti kind of vibe, Chesya's novella is sort of Southern Gothic by way of Joyce Carol Oates, and Rachel is resonating with Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon. All of which are exactly what I'd hoped four -- to showcase a broad range of voices and styles that will appeal to the widest variety of readers.

(Author's note: I have to admit to getting a little choked up when Brian compared me to J.F. Gonzalez, one of my literary heroes and the very first interview ever posted on my blog)


There you have it! The inside scoop! Now go order it already!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Identity or What's In A Name?

As many of you are aware, I just got married. With that came many changes. Ok, who am I kidding? Almost nothing has changed. My new husband and I are still stupidly in love. We still hang out with our dogs and play video games and D&D in our spare time. He's still my biggest fan, friend, and advocate. I still cherish every moment we spend together. So what, you may ask, has really changed?
My name.
Yeah, I know, obvious and small, right? Well, obvious sure. But small? Not at all.
While I still have the same initials (in all honesty, only 2 letters in my last name are actually different) everything has changed.
As you may have noticed, I've hung up the old "Alyn Day" cleats. I'd like to take a moment or two to explain why, especially to those of you that knew me only by that name.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time going down the negative path leading back to why I chose to use a pen name to begin with. After all, this is a happy, exciting, wonderful time for me and I really don’t want to dwell on bad experiences or past miseries, but I know that some of you may have questions, so hopefully the next few paragraphs will answer them for you. If not, feel free to poke me onTwitter.
There were a lot of reasons I chose to use a pseudonym even before I began my writing career. I’d been born with a name that wasn’t given to me out of love or pride or anything like that, but more out of obligation. I was never allowed to forget that as a child, either. I knew the man that gave me my last name never wanted me to have it, and in fact, he told me several times over the course of my childhood that I was disgracing it. It’s a pretty unique name, too, so there was no use pretending otherwise. The name made me recognizable as well to people my father had pissed off or owed money to and they didn’t hesitate to vent their displeasure at me, his daughter, even after he’d disowned me and I’d moved to the other side of the country.
I also worried that my father himself would track me down and demand or beg for money. He has the sort of reputation that would lead me to fear something like that. After the way I was raised and the hand he had in that, I’d rather he not be able to locate me, at least without expending some serious effort.
I also had a very traumatizing experience with a stalker. No, not the infamous Tony G situation some of you may recall, this was years before that happened. I was in college. It was bad. The depraved slimeball behind it ended up behind bars. Not because he terrorized me for months on end, but for child pornography and violating the terms of his probation. But my issues with him had brought those transgressions to the attention of the authorities, so in a way I guess I’m to blame for his incarceration. I worried that he’d find me online, through social media or otherwise, once he was released. Whether he wanted to apologize or begin the nightmare anew didn’t matter. I wanted to be hidden from him.
Lastly, I spent many years being told that I’d never be a writer from a number of sources. My father, teachers and professors, friends and romantic partners all discouraged me from pursuing my love of scribery and horror. I can’t tell you how many times my dreams of seeing my name in print were mocked, made fun of, or were flat out disparaged. I never had aspirations of being the next Stephen King, either. While that would be awesome, it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I wasn’t even looking to write for a living, I just wanted something that was mine, that I had penned, with my name on the cover, to hold and to sign and maybe to donate to a library, a dream that tens of thousands of people have realized. It might seem foolish, maybe even pathetic, that I believed them, but after so much time with so much discouragement and so very little in the way of support or belief, you begin to question yourself and your talents. Maybe they were right. Maybe I was being stupid. Maybe I’d try and fail spectacularly. Creating a pen name to write under was a way for me to distance myself from that possibility. It wouldn’t be me putting my name on the line, facing rejections and dealing with the potential for harsh critiques and even death threats from people who didn’t like my work, it would be Alyn. (Which started as A. Lynn, short for Amber Lynn, before I did away with the initial and squashed it into one name).
But now, all of that is behind me. Now I have a new name, one that was given to me by a man who loves me and values me for who I am, who believes in me and supports me and my writing career, who acts as editor, muse, prereader, and sounding board for my ideas, and who has even gone as far as helping me act out scenes from my current WIPs, just so I can be sure I have the angle of the knife swing or the grip on that machete right when I put it down on paper.
I’m proud to carry his name, my new name. I’d like to shout it from the rooftops, but the last time I did something like that, the neighbors got mad. (Kidding!... well, mostly) so instead, I’m sharing it in other ways. Social media, of course, my blog, business cards (for the day job) and now my writing. Everything I do going forward will be under my awesome new name, starting with the novella I wrote for this year’s Maelstrom set from Thunderstorm Books. I’m thrilled to be a part of that project, even moreso because it will be the first thing I have published under the name Amber Fallon.
I hope everyone understands the reasons for the name change, and I hope that all of you will continue to share your friendship, support, and amusing cat videos with me long into my bright, beautiful future. I wouldn’t be here without all of you. I will always cherish the legacy of everything I built as Alyn and I hope to continue to build on that as Amber, finally stepping out as who I really am, who I’ve always wanted to be.

Friday, June 19, 2015


My little brother died yesterday. He would've been 30 years old on November 18th.

Why was it so easy to write posts about people I'd met a handful of times, and writing about my own brother is so hard?

We weren't very close. I hadn't seen him in about 15 years. There was some bad blood between us. Stuff that seems so meaningless now.

He loved Halloween. He loved music. He loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  and a silly british claymation thing called Foxy Fables. In fact, that was his screen name before he lost internet access so many years ago.

He loved Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Were Made For Walking and tinkering with old projectors and reel to reel tape machines.

He loved a cranky old siamese cat named Mylar (called Meelo) who died when he was 12, I think. Wherever he is, I hope they're together now.

He was a genius with anything electronic. He used to make improvised flashlights from old batteries and strings of broken christmas lights when we didn't have power.

When he was little, he wanted to be a heart surgeon. He used to check out this video about it from the little local library in Zionsville where we grew up. He must've watched it a hundred or more times before we moved away.

Life was really unfair to him. He deserved a lot better than he got.

He wasn't a bad person.

I still can't believe he's gone. I keep catching myself wondering if maybe it was a mistake and he's not really dead and I still have time to tell him that I forgive him and that I knew he was a better person than he thought he was. That I cared about him, even though I didn't think about him as much as I should have.

I wish things could've been different. I wish there was something I could've done.

Goodbye, Reid.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter of Zombie Blog Tour: Spotlight on Joe McKinney


Your name.   

Joe McKinney

Why zombies?
I’m not going to tell you his name, but I know an author who, over the years, has been my friend, my best and most honest critic, and at times, unwillingly, my mentor.  He has praised me with patient, good humor during my successes and counseled me with sage advice during my low periods of self-doubt and frustration.  I admire and love the man.

But I don’t always agree with him.  For example, we were guests at a recent convention and found ourselves sitting next to each other on a zombie panel.  The moderator asked a question very similar to what we’re responding to today.  My friend, who likes to think of himself as a part-time misanthrope, said, and I’m paraphrasing, that the popularity of the zombie is a symptom of our societal self-loathing, that we so disgust ourselves as a species that we first seek to debase others by turning them into zombies and then punish them for all the things they do to piss us off through a series of zombie kills, each more gruesome and bloody than the last.

I don’t buy that… even though I kind of get where he’s coming from.  After all, when you look around, things are pretty bad.  The economy is horrible, and more and more young people are finding the job market a barren and hostile environment.  It’s easy to feel like you don’t matter when you can’t find a job.

And even if you do find one, it’s easy to feel the life bleeding out of you as you slog through another meaningless shift, or clear out the emails in your inbox, or put caps on bottles, or fold boxes, dunk fries in grease, whatever you do.  There is a cyclical monotony to our work lives that is paralleled in the endless parade of zombies in all the various first person shooter video games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Island.  Perhaps the greatest example I’ve ever seen of this is in Shaun of the Dead.  Remember Mary, the shop girl, the first zombie that Shaun and Ed encounter?  She’s also one of the first characters we see, making her appearance as a living person during the opening credits.  It’s that moment to which I’m referring.  I love that her expression as she’s ringing up a customer is exactly the same expression she wears as a zombie.  Life is a non-issue, that look says.  It’s the monotony that matters.

But, as I said, I don’t buy it.  Perhaps it’s true that zombies tell us a little about why we hate ourselves and the mess in which we find our lives, but I just can’t believe that hate and self-loathing can carry a wave of popularity as wide and as far-reaching as that which the zombie has achieved.  Surely there’s more to it than that.

I think what really bothers me about the “zombies as an expression of our self-loathing theory” is that it implies we’re amplifying our nightmares instead of purging them.  The best horror fiction, historically speaking, has always been cathartic.  It’s always been about stripping our fears of their efficacy by talking about them.  (Can there be a greater example of this than Dickens’ “there is more of gravy than the grave” line in A Christmas Carol?)  Zombie fiction is no different.  It is, for me—and I believe for so many others—a genre that proves we are, at heart, a creative species that needs to tear down the world and create it anew in order to survive in it.

That has certainly been my experience.  I started writing zombie fiction back when there were very few entries in the field.  (Romero had done three of his zombie movies, and Skipp and Goodfellow had done Mondo Zombie, and Brian Keene had just published his wonderful novel The Rising, but there wasn’t much else.)  I had watched Night of the Living Dead as a young teenager, and it was one of the only horror movies that ever actually scared me.  I still remember going to bed every night with a baseball bat cradled in my arms.  I knew that one day I would go on to write my own zombie story.

But of course life got in the way.  I grew up.  I went to college, and then grad school, and then got a job as a San Antonio police officer.  Every night I was experiencing something new and crazy.  Car chases and fistfights and talking people out of setting their babies on fire were normal nights for me.  Believe it or not, I was having the time of my life.  I even met the woman who would become the love of my life.  And in the winter of 2003, she gave me my first child.  That was the moment right there: fatherhood.  That was the moment the zombies finally got me.

It happened like this.  I was standing with my face against a large window, looking in on the nursery where my first-born lay sleeping.  I was a young man, a scared young man, a young man finally willing to accept what my dad had been telling me all along: that the world is infinitely more complex than I realized, and that fatherhood carries with it demands no one is ever truly prepared to accept.

Those of you with kids know what I mean.  One minute you’re footloose and fancy free.  You go out whenever you want.  Life is good.  You got this.  And then—a baby!  Suddenly, you’ve got more responsibilities than you ever knew existed.  Life is complicated.  Life is about diapers and insurance and visits to the pediatrician and wondering how you’re going to afford the groceries.  Life is about actually getting to sleep through the night.

That was me in the winter of 2003.  I was scared to death.  But I had my writing to back me up.  Since my early teenage years, writing had been my outlet for my anxieties and concerns.  I turned to it again.  I started a science fiction novel that really sucked ass and I nearly gave it all up.  But then I thought of the horror movies that I’d loved as a kid, and Night of the Living Dead came to mind.  I realized that if I was going to do this right, I needed to write what I loved, and what I loved was horror.  I figured if I was beset on all sides by responsibilities too big for my kenning, I would write about a character who was beset on all sides by horrors too big for his kenning, horrors he needed to dispatch in the most visceral way possible.

That’s how I started writing zombie fiction.

And that’s why I take exception whenever someone tries to dismiss zombie fiction as meaningless fluff.

Because it’s not.

It’s personal.

It matters.

It matters to me.

What is your latest zombie release? 

My latest is Plague of the Undead, released from Kensington Publishing on October 7th, 2014.

Quick description of it. 

A Handful Of Survivors
For thirty years, they have avoided the outbreak of walking death that has consumed America's heartland. They have secured a small compound near the ruins of Little Rock, Arkansas. Isolated from the world. Immune to the horror. Blissfully unaware of what lies outside in the region known as the Dead Lands. Until now. . .
A New Generation Of Explorers
Led by a military vet who's seen better days, the inexperienced offspring of the original survivors form a small expedition to explore the wastelands around them. A biologist, an anthropologist, a cartographer, a salvage expert--all are hoping to build a new future from the rubble, which they call the "Dead Lands." Until all hell breaks loose. . .
A Land Of Death
The infected are still out there. Stalking. Feeding. Spreading like a virus. Wild animals roam the countryside, hunting prey. Small pockets of humanity hide in the shadows: some scared, some mad, all dangerous. This is the New World. If the explorers want it, they'll have to take it. Dead or alive. . .

Something unique about it.

Plague of the Undead is the first book in a new series called The Deadlands.  It is at its core a novel of exploration, not only of the post-apocalyptic world in which it’s set, but also of what it takes to survive and the laws that help our communities to survive.

Links for people to buy it.

The book is available in all formats wherever books are sold.  If your local Barnes & Noble doesn’t have it, you can always find it through Amazon, right here:

Your promo links.

Readers can learn more about me and keep up with what’s going on by following me on Facebook, here:

Or follow me on Twitter:  @JoeMcKinney

Your short Bio.

Joe McKinney has been a patrol officer for the San Antonio Police Department, a homicide detective, a disaster mitigation specialist, a patrol commander, and a successful novelist. His books include the four-part Dead World series, Quarantined, Inheritance, Lost Girl of the Lake, The Savage Dead, St. Rage, Crooked House and Dodging Bullets. His short fiction has been collected in The Red Empire and Other Stories, Speculations, and Dead World Resurrection: The Complete Zombie Short Stories of Joe McKinney.  His latest works include the werewolf thriller, Dog Days, set in the summer of 1983 in the little Texas town of Clear Lake, where the author grew up, and Plague of the Undead, Book One in the Deadlands Saga.  McKinney is a two-time recipient of the Bram Stoker Award®. For more information go to

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The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don't miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

AND so you don't miss any of the posts in November, here's the complete list, updated daily:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering J.F. Gonzalez

Yesterday the world lost a great man. I don't just say the world of horror because, while it's true, it's not the whole truth. Jesus F. Gonzalez was, among other things, a fantastic writer and a great asset to the horror community, but he was also a husband and father and a friend.

I didn't know him very well, sadly. But he left a mark on me. I want to take a few minutes to remember him and to honor that memory.

I met Jesus at an event called Horrible Saturday back in the summer of 2010. That event was the real and true start of my horror writing career. It was also the first time I met some of my idols: Brian Keene, Kelli Owen, and of course, Jesus himself.

I'd fallen in love with the B movie gorefest that was the Clickers novels and from there, I'd read and enjoyed Survivor, Fetish, Primitive, and later on, It Drinks Blood. Now I was going to meet the guy who wrote them in person. For the first time in my life, I was going to be in the presence of these people who had inspired and entertained me, who had been there (in literary form, anyway) to help get me through the tough parts of my life. I was understandably pretty nervous going into it. The nerves continued after I'd said my hellos, too. Would I say something stupid? Would I embarrass myself horribly? I am prone to those kinds of things, after all. I was a wound up ball of nerves. And then Jesus said something that made me laugh.

I don't even think he was talking to me. He was probably talking to Brian or making an offhand comment, and for the life of me, I can't remember what it was. What I do remember is laughing and feeling relieved and finally being able to relax a bit.

I chatted with Jesus about Lovecraft and King and some other random horror trivia and was struck by how kind and genuine he was, but also how almost shy he came across. He wasn't the outgoing social butterfly badboy I'd been expecting. He was different. He was sincere. He was something else entirely, something that defies words. He was Jesus.

I spent the day at Horrible Saturday. I bought tons of books, chatted with some of the authors, and watched the hilarious mishmash that was the live collaborative story telling pictured below.

Jesus and I had a few interactions on Twitter. He granted me my very first interview. Me, some no-name nobody he'd met at a signing. That's who he was. Kind, giving, willing to help out some unknown by putting his name on her lowly little blog. It meant worlds to me and I really hope he knew that. Just that small act of answering a few questions, something I'm sure he'd done dozens if not hundreds of times before, made me feel so much more confident, so much more capable.

I only saw Jesus one more time, at Horrorfind 13. From that came one of my all time favorite pictures. It's been my facebook cover photo for years. It's me with some of my all time favorite authors, a title JF Gonzalez has most definitely earned.

My current work in progress is my first attempt at pulp. It goes without saying that Jesus was an inspiration. No one could do the kind of cheesy (in the best possible way!), action filled, B movie nightmare pulp goodness JF Gonzalez could. He wrote the book, literally.

Last night, my fiance and I read some Clickers, both as a way to remember and honor Jesus, but also because I'm working on his horror education and JF Gonzalez is a necessary part of that education. Darling Fiance made it through the prologue, turned to me and said "Clicknado!". I'd like to think Jesus would've appreciated that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Aftermath: Bright Days Ahead

Lately, I tend to start every blog post with an apology over how long it's been since I've written. Apparently, I'm doing it again. But that's OK, because it has been a long time. That may or may not change, we'll see. But for now I'm writing and you're reading and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

2014 has been a great year for me. It's not quite time for that End-of-Year post, but given all that has gone on, I wanted to put words to what has happened so far, for those of you who don't speak to me regularly, for those of you who don't speak to me at all, and for myself. Because it's good to get it all down and it's nice to have a record of things that I can look back on. For personal reasons, I've never kept a diary. This is the closest thing I've got. Even though it's public. Even though literally anyone can read it, friend or foe. Even though it might not mean much to most. It's mine. And it's yours, too. The words I share here I share in the truest sense of the word. I give them to you as I've given words to many others over the years. Sometimes they are the best gift I can give.

Words are powerful, as a weapon, as a tool, as a gift. Words can convey loss, hope, fear, remorse, sympathy, and any of the other emotions that make up the human condition. These words are given with joy, gratitude, and more optimism than I can ever recall feeling.

I'm engaged to an amazing man. The man of my dreams. I mean that quite literally. I didn't have the best home life growing up. Part of what got me through it was the hours upon hours spent telling myself that someday things would be different. Someday someone would love me, value me for who I was (weirdness, horror fandom, eccentricity and all), want to be with me and me alone. It might seem silly or sad, but that was and always has been my greatest dream.

And it came true. A little over 3 years ago, I met the man I'm going to marry. He's everything I could have ever hoped for and more. He's my partner. My partner in crime. My partner in business. My partner in life. He's my dearest friend, my closest ally, my most enthusiastic supporter. He's also an amazing human being with a fantastic sense of humor, an unending well of kindness and generosity, and one of the most useful people I've ever met. He is, unquestioningly, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I can't believe I get to marry him. For the first time in my life, I have a home and a family and all the love and support I could ever need. It's just as wonderful as I always dreamed it would be.

Also in 2014, my 4-plus year long legal battle finally came to an end. After years of struggling, throwing thousands of dollars I didn't have at a problem that seemingly wouldn't go away, and being reduced to tears of frustration, I am finally free. I can move on now. I can put the mistakes of my past behind me without any fear that they'll come back to bite me someday. It may have taken more time and money than I would have liked, but in the end it was worth it. There is no price too great to pay for one's freedom.

I'm working on a pretty amazing project, too. I'm having so much fun writing this thing. Even things like writers' block and random plot issues aren't detracting from how thrilled I am to be part of this. I just know it's going to be great and I really hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

Last (but certainly not least), my battle with cancer is at an end. It seems weird to refer to it as a battle, when much of what I did was lying still: for tests, for treatments, for IVs and exams and follow ups and specialist visits. And I was extremely lucky. My experience with cancer hasn't been nearly as horrible, long, or painful as what many people end up with. The last round of test results were good, as were the set before that. I didn't say anything after the first set to anyone outside my immediate circle of friends and family because I was worried that one good result might be a fluke and I didn't want anyone else on that horrible roller coaster of  "Hooray I'm cured!" "Oh, wait, not really." But now I can conclusively say that there are no cancer cells remaining in my body. Even better, the rate of recurrence for the types of cancer I had are low, less than 25%.

This isn't my Happy Ending, it's a happy beginning.