Sunday, February 25, 2007

Weirdsville #2 - Trekkin' and Zombie Fever

Weirdsville Continues
If you'll recall from our first installment of Weirdsville, I was "tagged" by my pal, author Jack Kincaid. This tagging thing requires posting a list of 10 weird things about yourself, but rather than one long list, I thought I would milk this baby for all it's worth and do my list one post at a time.

O Captain! My Captain!
I left you a Weirdsville #2 clue (the Spock pic above) last time. I'm sure you guessed it. I'm a Trekkie, but I'm happy to say that I'm not hard core enough to even know if I'm spelling Trekkie correctly and I resisted the urge to spell-check it out of principle. But the truth is, I AM A TREKKIE. I don't know which influence came first, 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Trek, but when I was a child, I was obsessed with the whole idea of living in a future world, so Star Trek became the escape from my bland earthbound reality.

As a kid, I had a little ritual for quite some time. I would rush home from school, plop down in front of the TV to watch Star Trek, while faithfully practicing my Vulcan hand greeting. During commercials, I'd focus on another obsession, shuffling a deck of cards in the two-pile fanning technique called the Riffle Shuffle (amazing what the razzing of older brothers will do to create an obsessive need for perfection in all things).

OCD and Spock Rocks!
Thinking back on that time in my life, I realize now just how OCD I was about a lot of things. I must have listened to the Twelve Days of Christmas a hundred times in a row to learn the lyrics flawlessly (again, avoiding sibling ridicule was always a motivational factor). Same thing with Maresy Dotes. I nagged a neighbor kid to teach the song to me and I was perplexed when after the twentieth time or so, she suddenly felt the need to go home. Gawd, I was weird...but I was cute, so I guess it evened out a little.

Anyway, back to Star Trek. For me, it was all about Spock (see YouTube for the REAL Spock). I had such a crush on him...again, very weird to have a crush on some dude with pointed ears that had no discernable emotions (but I knew they were in there). And speaking of crush, I was summarily crushed when the series ended! How could they?? And later when the first Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, I actually teared up during the opening credits, listening to the whole "Space, the final frontier" thing. Oh, such a geek.

Then The Next Generation came along. I was dubious. No one could take the place of my Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, but I was so hungry for more Star Trek, I watched anyway. Before long, Picard hooked me. Then the whole Borg thing happened. OMG - Locutus!

Where's the Horror?
So with all this love of Science Fiction, I've wondered where my horror chops have come from. Besides an unauthorized viewing of Hitchcock's, Psycho (I pretended to be asleep while my parents were watching...yeah, I was too sly for my own good...that one scarred me), I didn't get to see much horror. But I think back to my Star Trek days and dang, there was tons of horror. Monsters, ghosts, planet eating cornucopias, pox, contagious madness, and alien creatures galore - you name it and the crew of the Enterprise encountered it. Remember the Star Trek pilot with the dudes with the veiny swollen cerebrum? Freaked me out!

Zombie Goodness
Anyway, geek that I am, I could ramble on about this subject forever, so I'll stop myself before your eyes start bleeding, and I'll switch gears for a quick public service announcement about Zombies. I haven't been much of a zombie story reader, until recently when I had the pleasure of reading Joe McKinney's, DEAD CITY. Then I had one of those little synchronicity moments where I met, Kim Paffenroth, nominated for a Stoker award this year for his excellent non-fiction book, GOSPEL OF THE LIVING DEAD: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth. Turns out Kim lives in my old stomping grounds in the Hudson Valley, and he's written another fine book, this time a novel, DYING TO LIVE. I've just read the first chapter, and I'm looking forward to the book's release in March, so I can devour the rest. *chuckles* Sorry, I couldn't help myself...devour...zombie.

You can have a juicy taste of the first chapter for yourself, FREE! Click Here to find the PDF link for DYING TO LIVE. I suspect, like me, you'll really enjoy this morsel of zombie goodness.

Okay, I've yacked on much longer than I had planned, but I hope you've enjoyed the walk down Weirdsville Lane with me. I always love having you along on a good stroll, which bring me to #3 for next time.

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Final Ballot...OMG!

The HWA Bram Stoker Award Nominations

After the long months of compiling the recommendation list, then the recent phase of voting for preliminary ballot, The Horror Writers Association has announced the final nominations for the Bram Stoker Awards. And don't tell anybody, but my wicked little novella, MAMA'S BOY, made the final cut in the Long Fiction category! *still dizzy from the shock* I am deeply honored to be included in a list with some of the finest writers in the business.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Here's the list:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
Headstone City by Tom Piccirilli (Bantam)
Liseys Story by Stephen King (Scribner)
Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
Pressure by Jeff Strand (Earthling)
Prodigal Blues by Gary A. Braunbeck (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
The Keeper by Sarah Langan (William Morrow)
Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon (Five Star)
The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martins)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge (Cemetery Dance)
Hallucigenia by Laird Barron (The Magazine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction)
Mama's Boy by Fran Friel (Insidious Publications)
Bloodstained Oz by Christopher Golden and James A.
Moore (Earthling Publications)
Clubland Heroes by Kim Newman (Retro Pub Tales)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
Tested by Lisa Morton (Cemetery Dance)
Balance by Gene ONeill (Cemetery Dance)
Feeding the Dead Inside by Yvonne Navarro (Mondo
FYI by Mort Castle (Masques V)
“31/10” by Stephen Volk (Dark Corners)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
Aegri Somnia: The Apex Featured Writer Anthology
edited by Jason Sizemore (Apex)
Mondo Zombie edited by John Skipp (Cemetery Dance)
Retro Pulp Tales edited by Joe Lansdale (Subterranean)
Alone on the Darkside edited by John Pelan (Roc)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
Destinations Unknown by Gary Braunbeck (Cemetery
American Morons by Glen Hirshberg (Earthling
The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes (Nocturne Press)
The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford (Golden
Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear by Terry
Dowling (Cemetery Dance)
Cinema Macabre edited by Frank Morris (PS Publishing)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We
Die by Michael Largo (Harper)
Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of
Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth (Baylor Press)
Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished byRocky Wood
(Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in POETRY
Shades Fantastic by Bruce Boston (Gromagon Press)
Valentine: Short Love Poems by Corrine de Winter
(Black Arrow Press)
The Troublesome Amputee by John Edward Lawson (Raw Dog
Screaming Press)
Songs of a Sorceress by Bobbi Sinha-Morey (Write
Words, Inc.)

I want to thank all my readers and friends (you're all my friends, as far as I'm concerned!) for your incredible support since the first mention here of MAMA'S BOY. Honestly, without you I wouldn't be on that Stoker list. Please accept my sincerest gratitude to ALL of you!

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wierdsville Tagging and Whine With Cheese

Well, I've procrastinated long enough. I was "tagged" by my pal, author Jack Kincaid, over at MySpace. Suffice to say, there are very few friends like "The Ripper" that I would actually follow through for on such a dare. But he called me adorable and evil, so how could I refuse him...but I digress.

Anyway, this tagging thing requires posting a list of 10 weird things about oneself, and of course I've got WAY more than ten I can list (but most are not suitable for a public forum! *grin*). So, I thought I would string this assignment out and do my list one post at a time. Yes, a SLOW torture of sorts. That also gives me time to contemplate my weirdness and just which bits I might share with you. Okay, here goes...

Weirdsville #1
Drumroll please! Well, maybe a drumroll is a little too dramatic for this particular weirdness, but I have a strange fascination with flattened pennies. You know, the kind made in those groovy machines on the NJ Turnpike, and in amusement parks and tourist attractions around the country. You just put your penny and two quarters in the slots, crank the machine and out comes an oval shaped penny with a cool picture and greeting stamped on it...Good Luck...Welcome to Niagara Falls...Seattle Space Needle.

In my small bit of research for this blog, I discovered I'm not the only one fascinated by these little slabs of copper. Seems there are some hardcore collectors out there, and even a history of the flattened penny dating back at least 120 years. Looks like you can even buy leftover pennies from retired dies. Although I tend to collect these from places I visit for the nostalgia of it, I think I might just have to nab me a few of those retired collectibles. See...weird, eh?

So how does this relate to horror and writing? Well very loosely, until you get to the story that's brewing in my head from just thinking about this little obsession. Contemplating the possibilities makes me giddy! Again...weird. *more grinning*

Whine With Cheese
Well, I've certainly provided enough cheese today...or cheesiNESS, my usual blog fare. But my whine is a dry and bitter one, having spent hours last night trying to redo my profile at MySpace because of some behind the scenes messing around with code by the owners of that dark cyber-realm. I miss my old profile background! In fact, I loved that strange eyeball and planet thing, but I couldn't salvage it. For now, it'll just have to be basic black. Does it work for you? I hope so.
Okay, my whine is complete and my Weirdsville #1 is revealed. Now back to work for me. There's writing in them thar hills for me to explore. Wish me luck!

Live long and prosper, dudes and dudettes!
See, told ya'...weird. Hmm...maybe that's a idea for Weirdsville #2.

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Raineying Turtles, Skulls and Stokers

Hi Gang! It's good to be back. And since I've been gone I've a accumulated a few things to share with you. I'm usually a one subject blogger, but I'm going to be a glutton today.

Boot Camp
So, most of you know that I was in Maryland last weekend for the Borderlands Press Novel Boot Camp. It was everything I was told it would be and more than I expected. I don't know how they packed in such a wallop of teaching in what a amounted to only two days, but they did it. Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, Douglas Winter and Ginjer Buchanan were indeed the wizards I expected them to be. Their laser insight and observations show that there's nothing to replace years of experience. Besides the amazing instructors, my fellow grunts offered invaluable feedback and support! *waves to all the wonderful BPBC grunts* If you want to rocket your writing forward, submit your writing sample to the Boot Camp and try to get a spot.

I grew up in Maryland, so after Boot Camp I stayed a few extra days to visit with family. One of my visits was with my daughter. She's studying architecture at The University of Maryland, College Park. It's quite an impressive campus, and heck we could be paying for an Ivy League college for what the out-of-state tuition is costing, but what I don't understand is how such a fine school could end up with such a...well...stupid mascot. The Terrapin?? They actually have t-shirts that say, "Fear the Turtle." Adding insult to injury, the turtle's name is Testudo. Need I say more? Come on people!
Okay, I hope your eyes don't glaze over, but MAMA'S BOY has received another generous review. The marvelous Mr. Joe McKinney of DEAD CITY fame has shared his thoughts about MB at the excellent horror site, Besides being a fine writer (his book DEAD CITY is on the preliminary Stoker ballot for Best First Novel!), Joe is also a homicide detective, so his comments as a law enforcement professional are fascinating and gratifying concerning MAMA'S BOY. I hope you'll stop by and read his review, and leave him a comment for his kind efforts. Read the review Here. And visit Joe McKinney Here at MySpace.

Stephen Mark Rainey
My dear friend, Stephen Mark Rainey, has also found his brilliant work on the preliminary Stoker ballot. Moving past a huge field of short story competition, "Sky of Thunder, Island of Blood" is gracing the prelim ballot. If you haven't had a chance to read this one, it an Amazon Short well worth a read and a outrageous bargain for 49 cents. Mark was most gracious and has also offered a review of MAMA'S BOY on his blog. It's not a completely glowing review, but with his many years of writing and editorial experience, a characteristically honest review from Mr. Rainey is a treasure.

Non-fiction at the Stokers may not always get the attention it deserves, and Michael Largo has asked me to spread the word. His book, FINAL EXITS, has made the preliminary ballot and he's offering a free copy to active HWA members for their Stoker consideration. If you're an active member, you can request a copy from Michael at:

Last Thing
With all the preliminary Bram Stoker ballot talk, I'm very pleased to tell you that MAMA'S BOY has made the list. The current list is down from 57 recommendations to 11 preliminary Long Fiction offerings for the membership to vote on. The next phase is the final ballot, so please cross your fingers for MB to make the next cut. Thank you all for your support and encouragement since MAMA'S BOY release last Summer. I can't thank you enough!!

Wickedly Yours,
Fran Friel

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