End Of Watch Journal: Creepy

I started reading End Of Watch today, and of course am already loving it.  King is brilliant as he weaves a web with these three novels.  You really do have to read all three in order if you intend to keep up with what's going on.  That's because they don't pick up one after the other, but move back and forth like a spiders web.  Each novel starts at the webs center and then moves forward on a different path, only to later reengage with characters from the stories inner strands.

I'm listening to the book on audible, and I've got to tell you: It's creepy!  The book opens with this dully circus music that just -- messes with me.

Also noted that the novel is dedicated to Thomas Harris.  THE Thomas Harris?  As in: Hannibal the Cannibal's creator?  Is King giving a nod here to one of the great crime/thrill writers?  I think he is.  One of King's creepiest characters is promised to make his way back in this novel: Brady Hartsfield.  And we thought we were done with that sicko; just like we once thought we were done with Hannibal.

When I go running at night, there is a white van (seemingly) permanently parked in front of an apartment complex.  Old white van.  My friends and I call it the serial killer van.  (Trust me.)  And each time I pass it, two things happen: 1. I speed up.  I don't like that thing and I'm scared the door will roll open and. . . I haven't thought of the and after the door opening.  2. I think about that ice cream truck and creepy, nasty, sick characters we first encountered in Mr. Mercedes.

Needless to say, it's refreshing on a warm Summer day to step back into the world fo Stephen King.

Check out this extract from theguardian

My creepy update:

I'm out running tonight, listening to End of Watch.  And loving it.

So here's the thing: It's a dark, dark, night in the desert.  I run past a graduation party, then start through the dark isolated desert.  Finally up the face of the big hill that towers over our city.  I go straight up, stepping in foot impressions my buddy left the other night when we were going down the mountain.  I stand on top of the hill, look at the city, then start down.  Back to city streets, I spot what I call the serial killer van.  White, old van.  I'm actually thinking of taking a picture of it as I approach the van.  But something in me has been freaked out all night.  Lights on the hill.  (I'm not kidding.)  And the feeling of being followed.  So I just keep moving.  Then, right when I'm almost to the van, I realize there is a woman sitting on the sidewalk near the van.  It's got to be midnight, and this lady is just sitting there with a white... something cape-like... flowing over her.

As I start between the woman and the Van, the Stephen King novel is discussing a suicide.  But we all know it's  not a suicide, right?  We know that.  And it's creepy.

I pass the woman, who at first I thought might be homeless.  Then I stop and pull off my headphones.  "Are you okay?"
She mumbles something.
"Hey, are you okay?  Just sitting out here?"
I can tell she just wants me to go away.  She finally says she's waiting for a friend.  I demand again to know if she's okay, why is she just sitting by this old van?  And she again says she's just waiting for a friend.  I don't tell her what I'm thinking; no friend would have you sit by a nasty old van at midnight.

I turn and go back to listening.  Creeped out all the more by the van and now the woman.  On the audio book, Holly talks about how she roamed through the house while the police were distracted.  It's strange Hodges isn't more thankful for her nosy side.  I'm becoming quite the Holly fan in this novel.

As with the other two novels, I have some trouble keeping up with what exactly is going on at each point.  Why we are chasing the current -- whatever.  I'm clueless on this stuff.  Only later do I realize why a chase was so important.  But you can't blame me too much for getting distracted when there are strange things going on in the middle of the night.  

Fox Travel Spots Ghosts At The Stanley Hotel

Check out this article from foxnews.com/travel that describes Henry Yau's stay at The Stanley Hotel.  Yau is public relations director for Children's Museum of Houston.  That's important, because it means he's just another guy.  He's not a ghost hunter or someone trying to create a story.

During his stay at the Stanley, Yau snapped several pictures of the hotel. Because he does not like people "in" his pictures, Yau waited until the gand stairwell in the lobby was clear; he ten took a picture on his iphone.

While Yau was in the lobby, he used the panoramic feature on his iPhone to capture a full view of the grand stairwell.

The fox article describes what happened next:

That night when Yau went to bed he says he became “strangely ill.” Feeling uncharacteristically queasy, he didn’t sleep well. But the real surprise came when he was scrolling through his hotel shots the next morning. 
When he looked at the photo the next morning, Yau was startled to see a figure at the top of the stairs. Yau posted the photo on Facebook with a red circle around the unidentified mass, captioning the creepy image "By golly! I think I may have captured a #ghost at #StanleyHotel. #EstesPark.” 
“I honestly don't know who this figure could be,” said Yau. “When I was there, I took a historic tour and they said all ghosts who roam there are happy ghosts. So I'm hoping this one was a happy one.”
Think that's freaky?  Check out what happened when Jim Carrey stayed at the Stanley!  Talk Stephen King: jim-carrey-flees-room-217

Stardew Valley Stephen King

So I'm addicted to this game.  Yes, it looks like it's from 1992.  Don't judge me.  But when I complete one of the quests. . . look what pops up.

11.22.63 Mondays Just Got Dark Again

There's spoilers here.  If you don't like that, don't read blogs about books.

What made Monday okay?  11.22.63.  That's it.  Sometimes I slipped out during lunch and went home to watch the next episode -- then reset it so no one would know I'd already peaked.  Besides, each episode deserves at least two viewings just to keep up with what all is going on.

The move achieved something difficult, in my opinion.  It successfully forged its own path, breaking the borders of the novel.  I remember intensely loving the book. I was swept away in the magic of King's writing, the suspense and the love story.  And then, as the novel neared the end, it seemed things weren't very tight.

I've only read 11.22.63 once, so I'm left with impressions of how the novel concluded as much as a sure sense of the plot-line.  But it seems things broke down toward the end, not because Kennedy lived and thus there was a domino effect -- that would have been very interesting.  Instead, the novel took a deeply science fiction turn (minus the science) and suggested that too much tampering with time would begin to wear down the very fabric of the world.  Time travel and messing with the time line caused huge earthquakes and so on.  But -- once these science fiction elements were added, the alternate history was diminished.

The mini-series held together better at the end than the novel did.  That makes sense to me.  More minds at work on how to make the plot and story and characters all come together right.  More voices in the room can be a disaster (hence the reason seasons 1-3 of STNG are almost unbearable; too many people pulling too many directions.)  In the case of 11.22.63, it seems the new faces in the room brought ideas that were fantastic.

The movie stayed closer to historical events.  Of course, when Jake returned, what he found was an America that was a mess.  And what he learned was -- sometimes, even if you could change the painful past, it is best not to.

There is a theological point here almost impossible to pass up -- so I won't!  The story hints at God's Sovereignty even over mans suffering.  That if we could see what was really up, we would understand that the way God is weaving history is far better than any changes we might bring.  For Jake, it is the discovery that Sadie's life is actually of great value. She will touch many people.  Should she die so Kennedy can live?  It's Mr. Holland's Opus with a time travel element.

By the way, I'm glad the dance scene stayed.  My wife and I were teary as the movie came to an end.

If they can do to the Dark Tower what they did with 11.22.63, I'm more than excited.

Stephen King Cameos

This is a fantastic colladge by Dan Garcia of Stephen King cameos.

Dan writes, "I love how Stephen King is like Hitchcock, in that he frequently has cameos in his movies! This is not all of them, but what role of his is your favorite?"

11.22.63 episode 2: I'm Hooked

11.22.63 is quickly becoming one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations.  I’m almost scared to like it as much as I do.  Last time I really fell in love with a Stephen King series, it was Under The Dome – and that went LOST on us.

The required spoiler alert:

Hey, you, before you read this. . .
I talk about stuff on my blog.  Gasp.  So if you haven't seen 11.22.63, you should go watch it before you listen in on me talking about it, because it might "spoil" it for you.  I'm telling you this because some of you are rediculously sensitive about not having the storyline given away.  Hey, I have an idea: Don't read posts about stories you haven't read yet.  Glad I could help.  On with the discussion. .

A few quick observations:

The Trade:
The movie and the book trade slaps.  Track with me. . .
In the book, I was blown away when Jake first sees the “colored” bathroom sign.  You can read about that experience HERE.  But that scene did not have the same impact on me when it happened on screen.  In fact, that scene just kind of flowed by.

However, I still got slapped in the face by the television show.  It’s when the boys pin Harry down and spit on him. Something in me bristled; got angry.  (And anger is what I felt when I first read that scene where Jake encounters colored restrooms.)

Welcome to the 60's:
The Café Harry goes to is incredible.  I mean, it’s so authentic.  Once again, I feel like I’m there.  The counter, the wall paper, the comic book stand; it feels right.  And, Jake sticks out – it’s obvious he doesn’t belong to this world. It speaks volumes that they could recreate the world of 1960, because that world is gone.  Everyone in these scenes, they’re not really from 1960 – they’re from 2016.  (Well, 15) But all of them drop into character so well, that even as Jake tries to look the part, he still doesn’t fit in.  The very fact that Jake sticks out builds our confidence that we really have been taken back to 1960.

Over Religious:

The lady interviewing Jake for a room is way over the top!  Maybe people were really like that back then – but she’s what Solomon was talking about when he said “do not be overrighteous.” (Eccl 7:16)   Bet-ja didn’t know that was in the Bible!  There seems to be one of these in every Stephen King book.

Does anyone like that picture of Jesus she has on her wall?  Apparently it was paramount to his mugshot for many years.


Jake show quick thinking when asked what unit he served with in Korea.  MASH, 4077.  BRILLIANT!  I really like the old guys comment, “There’s no such thing as a war hero.”  It’s the kind of thing only a war hero can say.  “The last thing you can say about killing a man is that it’s brave.”  I like that line, not because our troops aren’t brave, but because it so perfectly describes how so many of them feel coming home from war.  Conflicted.  They were sent to do a job, and they did it. And they want to be recognized and honored by their nation for serving and doing a difficult thing.

Up Close And Personal:
I think the scenes with Frank – in fact the entire storyline with Harry – is far superior to the book.  There is a new layer of detail here that wasn’t in the book.  We get a lot more up close and personal with Frank.  There’s much greater tension.  And, Jake’‘s a lot dumber! – and that’s good  It feels more real because Jake is making bonehead mistakes any of us would make.

Repost: Stephen King Slapped My Face

(REPOSTED from my 11.22.63 journal, December 8, 2011.)

Stephen King slapped my face a few days ago.  It hurt a lot.

There I was, happily bopping through the late 1950's with Mr. King narrating away at about 80 miles an hour.  I'm loving 11.22.63, and the blast from the past is a joy.  Root beer, short hair, ties -- we'd all want to go back, right?  Even the cars are something to long for.  And about the time King has you totally off guard, thinking sentimentally about a by-gone era. . . WHAM!  King gives a big, open handed slap to the face.  Not a girly slap; a hard, "WAKE UP, FOOL!" slap.

I grew up in the 80's -- in California.  I was a white in a mostly black high school.  Race relations could be tense at times.  My senior year was the Rodney King riots, and it seemed like everything erupted in the Los Angeles area.  But my best friend was black, and somehow we navigated through some rough waters.  There was bad stuff going on around us, but for the most part we came out untouched.  My mom has said she was glad for my friend, because it protected me from bitterness.

Any tension in 1980's California cannot compare to what was happening in 1959.

As we bop happily along through the novel, King describes a stop at a gas station.  There's a men's and women's restroom, and then a sign for blacks with an arrow.  Follow the arrow around the corner, and you'll discover there are no indoor restrooms for blacks.  I'll not share the exact nature of the indignity, King does it better than I can -- but it made me angry.  Partly because it's not the world I come from.  And partly because it IS the world I come from!  Our entire nation has been touched by generations of racism.  When King describes the bathroom situation at the gas station, it evokes a righteous rage.  "That is SO WRONG!"

We exist in boxes; our eyes covered.  Racism is a thing of the past, it doesn't affect us -- right?  But when I felt that sudden anger at someone being forced to go to the bathroom outside, some things started to make sense.  The anger in the students around me as I grew up.  It didn't make sense at the time.  Why were they angry -- things were better for them than they had been for the last generation, right?  But the arm of injustice has a long reach.

Injustice, racism, hate can't be cut off in just one generation.  We live with the scars.

Out culture and teachers have tried to slap us, but usually it didn't sting as bad as it needed to.  Movies like "Driving Miss. Daisy" are painful, but sweet.  King doesn't give any sweet to his open handed smack.  I remember reading Native Son in high school about a black man who accidentally killed a white girl, burned her body, and went to the electric chair.  That novel provoked the desired uncomfortable discussions in English class, but it did not deliver the sudden, unexpected, slap that 11/22/63 gave me. Even movies that drive the point home, like The Help, don't really slap you.  Because you see it coming!  But King doesn't announce he's gong to slap your face.  Of course, everyone should know at some point he's going to edge up on racism -- but when he catches you off guard and causes emotions to rush, it's both painful and a joy.


King sometimes shows us things from our own culture we don't like so much.  The angry, cussing, racist Baptist landlord we encounter in Dallas disgusted me.  That's outside my experience with Baptist (for the most part.  Anyone who has done ministry for long has encountered some pretty angry people).  I go to a racially mixed church (whites, blacks, Hispanics Asians).  Baptist would be quick to point out that Dr. King was a Baptist, as were many civil rights leaders.  Billy Graham, who publicly took a stand against racism by personally removing the ropes that separated whites and blacks  in his meetings was a Baptist.  But that's not the whole story, is it?

I don't like the cussing, angry, nasty racist landlord being a Baptist. I would rather focus on the positives!  The MLK's, the Graham's and so on.  For a moment I found myself frustrated with King's writing.  It seems he often chooses the Baptist to be the racist (Reverend Rose in Needful things is an example -- only he hated Catholics).  And at least with rose, the character is not well developed.  He just hates.  But in 11.22.63, things feel a little more real.  These feel like people you might actually meet somewhere.  Not just a caricature -- but a true step back in history.  And if I could go back in time, I'd like to take a swing at that landlord!

Thank You

So I'd thank King for the slap in the face.  Thank him for making it hurt.  For stirring emotions I've actually never felt; not very deeply.  Because I don't live in a culture where racism is so openly practiced, but we do live with the scars.  But people respond to one another based on their scars, and we don't always understand why they act the way they do.

11.22.63, episode 1 More

Watched episode one again with my kids.  Of course, on second watch, noticed a few things.  I should note that I've not read anything others have said or written about the show.  So people are probably finding Easter eggs all over the place, and they're just whizzing by me.

First, this is just interesting: When Jake went into the closet and stepped into another world, my daughter looks up from the sofa she's laying on and says, "Wow, that's just like Narnia."  Narnia, I question.  "Yeah, you know -- the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  They go through a closet into another world."

I also liked how Jake said he was the presidents number one fan.  Has Jake been reading Misery?

The movie does a nice job making time itself Jakes real enemy.  I don't know how to say it, but it seems time is an unseen shadow always lurking nearby.  Sometimes it takes on physical form to tell him to go away.  It's always there!  Time tries to mess up his plans, burn him or even run him over when he tries to call his dad.  Time protects itself from the time travelers.  Making me all the more curious -- how did the rabbit hole get created.  I really need to know.

Finally, all the work trying to figure out if Oswald is really one who wants JFK dead is pointless.  A lot of running around -- when there's a much easier way to figure it out.  Just kill Oswald in the airport, jump forward in time and see if JFK was still murdered.  If he lived. . . they got their man.  If he still died, then there's more to the mystery.  -- You're welcome.

11.22.63 Takes Off

I got HULU today for one reason: 11.22.63.  And I love it.  The movie, not HULU.

The movie brings the book to life in brilliant color.  There are some things that can’t really be brought to the screen.  Jack can tell us food tastes better, but King made me taste the root-beer float.  I don’t know how; but he touched my senses beyond just seeing it in my minds eye; I tasted it.  All they can do on TV is tell us that food tastes better.

Whit the television show accomplishes is it takes us back to the 1960's with amazing detail.  Like the novel, I “buy” it because it feels right.  This isn’t a plastic version of the 60's; a cheap set to move actors around on – this actually feels like the world of the 60's.  (Well, late 50's.)

What the movie can do that the book couldn’t is more than just visual No doubt, they have done an outstanding job visually.  But a book can’t really have a sound track.

I am still struck by the unimportance of the “HOW” for Stephen King – or this story.  HOW does a closet send you back in time?  King is interested in the “what if” not one bit in the how.  King, and the writers of the script, seem to say to us, “yeah, yeah, yeah, so what if we don’t know anything about how this closet sends you back in time.  Just suppose it did, then what?”

  • But why does it go back to that date?
  • What was in that space previously?
  • What caused that spot to become a time portal?
  • Has it always been a time portal?
  • Did it used to go back to a different date?
  • Are there other time portals?

None of these questions are of any interest to Stephen King.  But shouldn’t . . . someone . . . be asking this?  Maybe Jake?  Before you go diving a time machine, shouldn’t you ask how it works?  Some basic rules are given to us.  For instance, every time you go through again, you re-set everything you previously changed; suggesting that there is a “true” timeline that everything actually adheres to.  There are not endless timelines.  There is standard time – and it is possible to deviate.  However, things always return to standard time.

My favorite line from episode 1: Time pushes back.  (The book used the word obdurate.)  And, "You don't belong here."

Is it worth a HULU subscription?  Well, for me, yeah.  Absolutely.
Episode 1 is titled: The Rabbit Hole
11.22.63 plays every Monday.

11.22.63 Behind The Scenes

I like this line, "It's like the furnishings of your head brought to life."

10 Best Stephen King Books

Rolling Stone did a poll, asking what the 10 best Stephen King books are.  The answers -- a little ridiculous.  (www.rollingstone.com) I am glad they allowed novella's to count.

Here is the Rolling Stone line up:
10. Wizard and Glass. (REALLY?!)
9. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
8. The Dead Zone
7. The Green Mile
6. 11.22.63
5. Misery
4. Salem's Lot
3. The Shining
2. IT
1. The Stand

I wonder if Shawshank might be getting a huge boost from movie memory.  I read the novella recently, and was struck by how much butter the movie is.  In fact, the same is true of The Body, which was turned into Stand By Me.  I liked the movie better.  In turn, I wonder if books like Bag of Bones might be overlooked because of the poor performance of the mini-series. Notice all the books selected were adapted nicely to screen, with the exception of Wizard and Glass.  In fact, The Deadzone and The Shining have both been given multiple treat

And I'm glad a Dark Tower novel made the list. . . but Wizard and Glass?  My favorites of that series were Drawing of the Three and Wolves of the Calla.

What would a correct list look like?  Glad you asked. . .
10. Christine
9. The Green Mile
8. Joyland
7. Salem's Lot
6. Dolores Claiborne
5. 11.22.63
4. The Shining
3. Pet Sematary
2. IT
1. The Stand

So I chose a lot of books people tell me they don't like.  (Pet Sematary, Christine, Joyland, Dolores Claiborne.)  But in many ways, these novels are much stronger than they are given credit for.  Dolores Claiborne in particular is an incredibly intense novel that is driven by both character and plot.  In fact, there are two plots moving through the book, and a connection point to Gerald's Game.  Frankly, it's brilliant.  Why is it so easily overlooked?  Because it was written in a period that was experimental for King.  So books like Needful Things, Gerald's Game, Rose Madder were not as strong and to some degree, I think, caused Dolores Claiborne to be lumped in with them.

Also, Pet Sematary is a dark, terrible novel.  (Expect a similar darkness to loom over Revival.) But it is also a strong novel.  In fact, I think it is better -- even scarier in theme --than The Shining.  Think about it, the guy digs up his dead sons body!  King takes you there!  The Shining is an exceedingly closed in novel; at points it's a tough read.  The Shining has been romanticized, so people give it a little more grace than they might otherwise. The thing is, The Shining is very closed in; almost claustrophobic.  In fact, note what reviews at the time said compared to modern readers.  The story is almost solely carried by three characters trapped in a hotel.  It is slow going for a few pages.  Yeah, when it starts rolling, it's good stuff!

I also think Joyland is too easily skipped over. What's great about that book is not the plot;  the mystery is secondary.  What makes the novel really strong is King's ability to take us back to 1973 and to the feelings of first love.  It's one thing to read a book King wrote in the 70's and think, "wow, this feels like the seventies alright."  Try reading the original edition of The Stand.  In fact, the revised version of The Stand still has flavors of the seventies.  But with Joyland, King wasn't writing during the period; but he perfectly recreated it. He did something similar with both IT and 11.22.63.

Does Christine deserve to be on a Stephen King top ten list?  I think so.  Not only is the novel a good one, but it represents the young Stephen King anxious to just drive the horror home.  It's a bloodbath; and unapologetically so.  The reader can feel King's joy.  Cars, rock and roll, and girls -- oh, and a ghost. It's not "deep" -- but it is a delight for the horror fan. King got himself into a hole when he wrote his narrator into a hospital bed.  So mid novel, he switched to third person!  I'm surprised he didn't rewrite the novel to stay with one perspective; but ultimately it is fine with me.  Who really cares if a writers switches between narrative styles?  Only my English teacher; and she's dead.

Don't you hate top ten lists?  Me too.  Good,  now give  me yours. . . 

Far more fun than a 10 Best list is a 10 worst list. And the funny thing is -- I still read and enjoy several of the books off this list.  They're just not King at the top of his game.  But, unable to come up with TEN -- here's five.
5. Gerald's Game
4. Insomnia.
3. The Tommyknockers
2. Dreamcatcher
1. Cell

THE SHINING Spare Tire Cover

This is great!  I spotted this at the Stephen King Constant Reader club.  Reposted with permission from Michael Coon. He noted, "My cousins wife took this pic."  Imagine pulling in behind this!  You wouldn't drive too close to this guy, would you?

The Stephen King Companion: Four Decades of Fear from the Master of Horror

First the confession:

I dropped out of the Bazaar of Bad Dreams.  Stopped with Bad Little Kid.  This is not a complaint about Stephen King.  This is my difficulty with reading books of short stories.  Not short stories.  Books of short stories.  On audio.  Each time I start to feel slightly committed -- if those feelings ever come -- the end jumps out at you and it's all over.

Batman and Robin have an Altercation was awesome.  But there were others there that I just didn't get.  A man and woman have an argument.  The woman dies.  That's all.  On to the next story.  . . . HUH?  What was this story about?  Reading books of short stories makes me feel like a golf ball hit full swing in a tile bathroom.

I feel bad.  Like I did when I gave up on Insomnia.  Am I still a constant reader if I drop out on the latest book?  Of course.  I just don't do as well with those short stories.

By the way, a word of parting on Bazaar -- I really like the introductions King does to each story.

The Stephen King Companion:

Setting Bazaar aside, I've started reading the new George Beahm book, The Stephen King Companion.  I think this would be companion book number 3 for Beahm, but I'm losing track.  He is also author of America's Best Loved Boogeyman and several other King books.

The book does two things in the early biographical portions --
First, Beahm does an excellent job introducing new biographical material that was previously absent from other works.  Drawing on PBS' investigation into King's past, we learn about King's father, Donald King, and where he went after he left the family.

Second, most of what Beahm introduces thus far is not really new.  Meaning: He doesn't seem to have gone and done new interviews -- he is pulling already published materials together into a single source.  That's okay, because I like it.  But I am starting to cringe at the sheer number of times The Stephen King Encyclopedia is mentioned.  I read that book, and loved it!  And I'm enjoying Beahms book.  But (BUT!) this is starting to feel like an updated version of the Encyclopedia with a new format.

WAIT -- I was wrong.
It would be easier to just erase the above.  The danger in blogging as I read is that I complain and then get proven wrong.  There's plenty of new stuff here.  Just read a great (GREAT) interview in the book that is with one of King's childhood friends.

Whining aside, the book really is very good.  Beahm is my favorite King biographer, and his insights are always sharp.  Besides, he holds a special place in my heart because he once confessed (I think in the first Stephen King Companion) that he just couldn't get into the Talisman.  I felt such sweet comfort when he said that.

Strange, isn't it, that I would go from reading Stephen King to reading about Stephen King.  I'm sure I'll return to the Bazaar, but for now, George Beahm has me pretty engrossed.

By the way, the introduction by Stephen Spignesi was worth the price of admission.

11.22.63 trailer

One of my favorite books is coming to Hulu as a television series.  I'm really excited!

Bad Dreams Journal #1: Mile 81

I'm reading the Bazaar of Bad Dreams and liking it very much.  I'm not a huge fan of Mile 81, but enjoying it just the same.  It's corny, okay?  But the nice thing about a short story is that it gives the writer opportunity to play and be goofy without committing himself or the reader to hundreds of pages.  It can just be a "hey, what if. . ."  What if a car ate people?  Not ran them over, like Christine -- what if it actually ate them?

Many of these stories are what we just love about King -- raw, fun horror.  He's not trying to be "deep" in Mile 81; though he can't help but be perceptive concerning human character -- he's just having fun.  And for that reason, we have fun with him.  The reader feels his joy as he tells us a quick story, whispering it in our ear before we get caught.

Mile 81 is a bit ADHD for a short story.  What I mean is that there is a lot of character shifting to keep up with.  Because King means to pile the bodies up, he wants to first introduce us to each victim.  Of course, the advantage of that kind of story telling is that it causes the reader to be screaming at the characters, "Don't touch the car!"  Because w know what they know.

I do like it that in Mile 81, King does something that horror writers usually avoid -- he calls the police.  King himself has said that one thing every writer has to address is: Why not just call the police?  Well, in Mile 81, he brought them right onto stage.

I've heard some whining in the Stephen King community that these are all -- mostly all -- stories previously published.  I like having them all together (with the exception of Blockade Billy, once was enough for me on that one.)  But, what's really nice is that King gives a chatty introduction to the stories, and I like that very much!  I now know that Mile 81 was written twice.

Tim's Stephen King Collection

I'm enjoying reading my friend Tim's new Stephen King blog.  Check it out at timsskcollection.blogspot.ca/.

It's like sitting in the library of a super serious collector as he takes his prized pieces off the shelf and lets you have a look.  I love it!

Not convinced he's serious about collecting?  Check this photo out:

Would you like to hang out in that room?  Of course yo would!  I may need to drive to Canada some time just to wander around this room.  Wall to wall Stephen King.  And, in a way, by starting the blog, Tim is letting us all in to play with the toys.

By the way, Carrie in "doll house size" is pretty cool.  -- just check it out, I liked it.

Oh, wait, before you go, I've got to tell you that Tim has been a huge encouragement to me personally over the years.  When a blog article hits him right, he's known to email me and tell me it's right on.  Always upbeat, always a joy to talk Stephen King with, I thankful he is now adding his voice to the Stephen King community.  Welcome my friend!

Dollar Deal and A Face Among The Masters SALE

Greetings gunslingers!

Thou art invited to dig a little deeper into the Stephen King graveyard this Thanksgiving.

Good news, I got word from Shawn Lealos that Amazon will be doing a countdown promotion of his book, Dollar Deal from Tuesday through Friday of this week. (No rush, but the best price is Tuesday, at $2.99.)

And inspired -- I decided to follow suit and offer a countdown deal on my book, Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters. My countdown deal goes from Wednesday November 25 -- November 29.

Here's what's cool: Both books look at a part of the Stephen King universe that's often overlooked. Dollar Deal focuses on oft unknown movies based on Stephen King's work. Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters looks at the literary works that infuse the Stephen King universe.

Each of the books has 4 amazon reviews, all giving them 5 stars.
(If you like the books, rate them.)

DOLLAR DEAL: amazon.com/Dollar-Deal

A FACE AMONG THE MASTERSamazon.com/Stephen-King-Face-Among-Masters

NINETEEN SIXTY THREE: The Day Kennedy Was Shot

One of my favorite books is Jim Bishop's "The Day Lincoln was Shot" by Jim Bishop.  He also has a wonderful book titled "The Day Kennedy Was Shot." 

In honor of the release of 11/22/63 , here is a taste of what that day was like. . .

YAHOO gives us: An Oral History of 'Stephen King's It'

This article from Yahoo is a great insight into the making of the mini-series, IT.  (www.yahoo.com/tv)

Ethan Altar writes in his introduction to a series of interviews, "Twenty-five years later, Stephen King’s It still has the power to push its way into your slumbering mind in the dead of night, filling it with nightmarish visions of fortune cookies stuffed with eyeballs, balloons filled with blood and clowns with razor-sharp teeth."

Well, unfortunately -- not really.  But I wish that's how it was, so let's pretend that's reality.  (The truth is, the second half of the film is terrible.)

The Participants (In Alphabetical Order)
Dennis Christopher (Eddie Kaspbrak)
Larry Cohen (Screenwriter)
Stephen King (Author)
Bart Mixon (Special Makeup Effects Supervisor)
Annette O’Toole (Beverly Marsh)
Emily Perkins (Young Beverly Marsh)
Tim Reid (Mike Hanlon)
Marlon Taylor (Young Mike Hanlon)
Tommy Lee Wallace (Director)
Gene Warren Jr. (Special Visual Effects Supervisor)

A few of my favorite insights:

  • ABC was always nervous about It, primarily the fact that it was in the horror genre, but also the eight-to-ten hour commitment. They loved the piece, but lost their nerve in terms of how many hours they were willing to commit. Eventually, they were agreed to a two-night, four-hour commitment and at that point, a couple of things happened. 
  • His script for Night 2 wasn’t nearly as successful, in my opinion. For reasons of his own, he had completely moved away from the plotting of the book, and created a much smaller story, a very interior melodrama focusing on Beverly’s husband as the ultimate bad guy, or something to that effect. (That explains a lot)
  • Most of the adult casting was “telephone” casting, which is, “No need to audition so-and-so for the role, they’d be brilliant.“
  • Casting the kids came after casting the adults.
  • Obviously the piece of casting that worked the best in the show was Tim Curry as Pennywise. (King)
  • The movie, really, is only as good as its villain, and Tim carved out a place for himself as one of the great movie villains of all time.
  • Filmed over two to three months on location in Vancouver, It proved a demanding shoot
. . . a lot more interesting stuff here.  Check out the article.  You'll like it.

Lealos Delivers DOLLAR DEAL

Think you know every dusty corner of the Stephen King universe?  You don't.  And I'll bet I know at least one dark corner you know very little about -- the Dollar Baby.

I'm really enjoying Shawn S. Lealos' book, Dollar Deal: The Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers.  This is a project I've been following for some time, so the finished product is a real treat for me.  I interviewed Shawn a couple years ago, and I'm really happy to say that the finished book is a slam dunk.  I love it!

What's a Dollar Baby?  It's a Stephen King film that is made for purposes other than profit.  That's right -- they are made not to make money.  They are sheer art.  A story is given away (sold for one dollar) and the artist is allowed to work with the story all they want to make it the best movie they can.  But the movie will not appear on DVD or digital download, as the filmmakers agreed from the get-go not to make it a money making enterprise.

Those of us that have seen Dollar Babies know they are a special brand of film.  They are actually an uneven lot.  Some are great.  Some aren't.

In July 2012, Shawn told me,
The book will be formatted to allow each chapter to focus on a specific filmmaker. While I cannot see their movies (unless I already saw them at a film festival), I am interviewing each filmmaker about making their movies and will tell their stories, including what the dollar baby led to in their careers. 
I’ll also be talking to Bernd Lautenslager, who runs stephenkingshortmovies.com and maybe one or two other people outside of the regular filmmakers. This is not a book so much about the movies as it is about the fans who made them. I hope to give regular fans who never got a chance to see a dollar baby a chance to see inside the making of them. While I cannot ask to see the movies, Mr. King’s attorneys have let me know they don’t mind the book written in this format.  (talkstephenking: interview-shawn-s-lealos
Lealos writes in Dollar Deal, "This book includes stories of people who used their Stephen King Dollar Baby films to launch successful careers as a sci-fi film director, a television showrunner, a published true crime author, a stage show performer, an actor, and much, much more."

Here's an insight I never picked up on until Peter Sullivan (Night Surf) pointed it out in chapter 9:
Stephen King’s writing style sort of started to evolve after The Stand ,and a lot of his books afterwards became less and less about one or two characters and more about this big huge cast of characters, much the way The Stand was.
Table of contents:
Chapter 1: Frank Darabont, “The Woman in the Room”
Chapter 2: Jeff Schiro, “The Boogeyman”
Chapter 3: Jim Gonis, “The Lawnmower Man”
Chapter 4: James Cole, “The Last Rung on the Ladder”
Chapter 5: The Good and Bad of Film Adaptation by James Cole
Chapter 6: Jay Holben, “Paranoid”
Chapter 7: Shawn S. Lealos, “I Know What You Need”
Chapter 8: Doveed Linder, “Strawberry Spring”
Chapter 9: Peter Sullivan, “Night Surf”
Chapter 10: Robert Cochrane, “Lucky Quarter”
Chapter 11: Nick Wauters, “Rainy Season”
Chapter 12: James Renner, “All That You Love Will be Carried Away”
Chapter 13: James Cox, “Grey Matter”
Chapter 14: Mikhail Tank, “My Pretty Pony” and “Willa”
Chapter 15: Rodney Altman, “Umney’s Last Case”
Chapter 16: Juan Pablo Reinoso, “Flowers for Norma”
Chapter 17: Warren Ray, “Maxwell Edison”
Chapter 18: J.P. Scott, “Everything’s Eventual”
Chapter 19: Derek Simon, “A Very Tight Place”
Chapter 20: Damon Vinyard, “In the Deathroom”

Lealos describes his journey:
Not only am I a Dollar Baby filmmaker, as well as a huge fan of Stephen King and movies, but I have become a big fan of the men and women who have made Dollar Babies. These filmmakers know they may never have a chance to screen their movies for a large audience, but they made their films because they love King’s works, and wanted to create something of their own based on the worlds that he created before them.
What's fun is the behind the scenes glimpse at movie making.  It's a fast read, with each chapter offering an introduction and then interviews with the films directors.

By the way, I'm so enthusiastic about this book -- I should tell you up front: No one pays me anything to run the blog.  I did not get the book for free, I purchased it.  No one pays me to say nice stuff about their book -- I could write nasty stuff if I hated the book.  So this is the truth: Dollar Deal belongs in your Stephen King collection. It's about a part of the Stephen King universe most of us know very little about.


A Possible Inspiration for The Mist?

by Chris Calderon

I don't know what influenced Stephen King to write his much liked novella The Mist.  By his own word, the idea almost seemed to spring whole in his mind while he was out shopping one day and wondered what would happen if a pterodactyl were suddenly to come flying over the food aisles.
However that hasn't stopped some from speculating.  For instance, an earlier entry in Wikipedia once noted "The Mist bears resemblance to the earlier H.F. Arnold short story "Night Wire," in which a radio operator details how a malevolent mist falls over a city, containing creatures that consume townspeople "piecemeal."  The page also contains a link to a copy of the Arnold story.
Whether or not there is any truth to those speculations, I don't know.  This is just something I ran across from someone I don't know and is probably just a wild guess on their part in the first place.  That said, even for a wild guess, I have to admit, it's pretty entertaining.
As it happens, the H.F. Arnold story was anthologized as part of a YouTube audio series called Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, a series of narrated (sometimes dramatized) short stories in a similar vein to those quasi-camp fire stories from the golden age of the audiobook era.  Watch and listen to Arnold's story in the clip below, and judge for yourself whether or not King may have subconsciously remembered such a story from his past.  Even if such an idea is unlikely, I have to admit, the Arnold story still makes for a very entertaining October read.

9/11 The Things They Left Behind

Stephen King's short story, "The Things They Left Behind", recounts a young man who escapes the terror attacks on September 11.  He is plagued by survivor's guilt.  Things come to a head when objects that once belonged to people in the towers begin to appear in his apartment!  Creepy?  Indeed.  But also wonderful.

9/11, Our Choices, and Making a Stand

I really enjoyed Julie Davis' insightful article at Patheos titled "9/11, Our Choices, and Making a Stand."  She graciously gave me permission to repost it here.  Note her insights on The Stand and faith. 

9/11, Our Choices, and Making a Stand
by Julie Davis

Two days after 9/11, my father-in-law had a massive stroke. My husband and I drove from Dallas to the hospital in Houston. Largely in shock between the double burden of terrorist attacks and personal tragedy, we were nevertheless stirred with pride at the many flags and hand-made signs we saw along the road. Tears sprang to my eyes when we passed a battered pick-up truck complete with obligatory shotgun rack and "We are all New Yorkers today" written on the rear window.

My husband said, "Those terrorists don't know what they have done. This guy would've spit on a New Yorker last week. And now he'd fight for them."

We were lucky. We didn't know anyone, then, who had died or been in the attacks. But we still suffered with the rest of the nation. It changed us as a people and as individuals.

It taught me a big lesson in forgiveness; as I expressed my forceful wish to see the people behind this attack "killed," a gentle friend from our parish looked at me with a troubled face. "I don't know," she said slowly. "But that doesn't seem right either."

I was taken aback and began to pray, even as I expressed anger. Gradually, the anger faded and the ability to forgive crept in.

Ten years later, I mourn the 9/11 attacks as much as ever. Easy tears still spring to my eyes when I look over the old pictures, video footage, and exchange "what I was doing when I heard" stories with others.

I also think about the opportunity that we had to go forward as a people united—to bring something good out of the evil. We are more divided than ever, and ruder than ever. We squabble and complain about the red states, the blue states, the liberals, the conservatives, the Muslims, the Catholics, and on and on it goes.

Some of this is basic human nature, as old as the stories in Genesis, of brother striking brother. It seems to me, though, that some of it is Evil pushing its way into the world, and we are failing to push back for the common good. We listen to the siren call of "my way," which goes hand in hand with pride.
As always, when it comes to thinking things through, I find that others have pondered the matter so much more thoroughly than I could. Recently I picked up one of my favorite "good versus evil" books and found the words defining my thoughts.

It is said that the two great human sins are pride and hate. Are they? I elect to think of them as the two great virtues. To give away pride and hate is to say you will change for the good of the world. To vent them is more noble; that is to say the world must change for the good of you. I am on a great adventure. (Harold Emery Lauder, in Stephen King's The Stand)
Twenty-three years before 9/11, Stephen King published one of his best-known and best-loved books, The Stand. It tells a tale of the United States, laid to waste when a biological weapons-grade virus inadvertently gets loose. As survivors roam the post-apocalyptic ruins, they begin to have dreams about an incredibly old holy woman, named Mother Abigail, or of a supernatural entity—Randall Flagg—who is her opponent.

Following their dreams, two communities begin to form—Mother Abigail's in Boulder and Flagg's in Las Vegas—and the stage is set for a final "stand" between Evil and God.

King has expressed frustration that so many fans call The Stand their favorite work, even though he has written scores of books since its publication.

Well, it's a heck of a book for one thing, so it's no wonder people love it. And although this is a horror novel, it is very translatable to our own lives. We no longer worry about bio-terrorism the way we did back then, but we can still relate to the scenario King paints.

In The Stand, King holds up the mirror to us. God and evil are present, of course, but they work through men, as ever, and we recognize ourselves in the pages.

Harold Emery Lauder was the quintessential misunderstood nerd, picked on in school, crossed in love, and finding power in hatred. His note could have been written by any of the terrorists who flew those planes into the World Trade Center. I imagine that, like Harold, their betrayal of innocents was the culmination of a long trail of choosing their own desires first. King shows us enough of Harold's choices—sometimes made despite the screaming of his own instincts—so that we can see a little of him in every selfish choice we make.

Harold's end is not a good one, and it is made pitiful by the fact that he is tossed aside like a worn out doll when evil is done using him for its own purposes. We cannot hold onto our anger at him because he has been misled so completely. In a similar way, when I think of those terrorists and their deliberate evil, I have a bit of that pity for them as well.

Once they were somebody's babies. I don't know what led them astray, but I lament the loss of the people they could have been.

King directly juxtaposes a rock star, Larry Underwood, against Harold.
"You ain't no nice guy!" she cried at him as he went into the living room. "I only went with you because I thought you were a nice guy" . . . A memory circuit clicked open and he heard Wayne Stuckey saying, There's something in you that's like biting on tinfoil. ~ The Stand
After the plague, Larry is haunted by those words, "you ain't no nice guy"—they jump to mind whenever he contemplates a selfish or cowardly act. Ultimately, he actually becomes a "nice guy" by consistently choosing the nobler act, if only to prove those words wrong.

Larry is no different than you or me, or anyone who can see themselves with a modicum of self awareness. None of us are "nice guys" deep down because we are all stained with Original Sin. And we know it.

We have help, though, that Stephen King didn't give Larry Underwood. We have the grace of Christ, the sacrament of reconciliation, and our faith to strengthen us. Like Larry, though, we have to keep picking ourselves up and trying again. We must practice until we are more perfectly "nice guys."

9/11 has presented us with a chance to practice forgiveness over and over again. We're all in this together and lifting our thoughts (or hands) in hatred belittles us and our targets. We are Christ’s followers, charged to see Him in everyone they meet. We all have the same choice. Do we embrace Harold's way, or Larry's?
There's always a choice. That's God's way, always will be. Your will is still free. Do as you will. There's no set of leg-irons on you. But . . . this is what God wants of you. ~ Mother Abigail, The Stand

Julie Davis blogs at Happy Catholic and discusses both books and movies at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. Her new book is Happy Catholic, published by Servant Publishing.

VIDEO: The National Medal Of Arts Awarded To Stephen King

President Obama awarded Stephen King the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony today.  

news.mpbn.net cites president Obama saying, "Without them there would be no edible schoolyard, no ... really scary things like 'Carrie' and 'Misery.

The article also stated:
The official citation, read by the president's military aide, cited King as one of the most popular authors of our time and praised his work, saying he has both delighted and terrified audiences around the world. 
Which is pretty close to the White House statement:
"Stephen King for his contributions as an author. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world."

Stephen King Jeopardy Round


I enjoyed Sandra Harris' review of the 2013 Carrie.  She kindly allowed me to repost her review here.  Check out Sandra's blog, it's full of some great movie reviews.

reposted with permission:  


This is the reworking of Brian De Palma’s classic 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, CARRIE. The book was Stephen King’s first major success and some people still regard it as one of his best works, along with THE SHINING, PET SEMATARY, SALEM’S LOT, IT, MISERY and CHRISTINE.

Sissy Spacek was unforgettable and perfectly cast in the original film as the lonely, socially awkward Carrie White, whose single mom Margaret is a religious fanatic with violent tendencies and mental problems that have clearly gone untreated for some time.

While Sissy Spacek is a hard act to follow, newcomer to the role Chloë Grace Moretz certainly gives it her best shot. She’s a beautiful young woman with a fabulous head of strawberry blonde hair and I actually think she does a good enough job in the remake, which seems to be a straightforward take-for-take reimagining of the original movie.

Julianne Moore plays Mommie Dearest this time around. As I’m a big fan of hers, I actually prefer her to Piper Laurie. It’s nothing personal, I just love Julianne Moore, that’s all. She’s gorgeous and I loved her in such films as HANNIBAL, THE END OF THE AFFAIR and JURASSIC PARK 2- THE LOST WORLD.

She really works the role of the self-harming Margaret White. It’s horrible to watch her banging her head off the wall, hitting herself in the face and stabbing herself in the leg with scissors. The two leads also really look like mother and daughter, which certainly helps.

What I don’t like about the remake is the fact that it’s inevitably set in a much more modern and technologically-advanced world than the one in which Stephen King initially wrote it, but that’s not the film’s fault. It’s now the era of boring old cellphones, so the remake is full of the bloody things.

The famous scene in which an hysterical Carrie gets her first period in the school showers after gym class is actually filmed by the little bitches in her class on their cellphones and uploaded to the Internet. They all think that Carrie’s ignorance of what’s happening to her body is a big hilarious joke and they can’t wait to share that joke with the rest of the world.

They don’t know, of course, that they’re sealing their ultimate, terrible fate with every act of nastiness they commit against the telekinetic Carrie, who has the power to move people and objects with the force of her mind. Her powers have been considerably ramped up for this remake. Books and knives and all sorts of households objects spend half the film flying around the place.

Carrie can fly now too, a little bit, and she has the ability to fling her crazy mom through the air and slam her into the wall or into the dreaded ‘prayer-closet,’ the one with all the Jesus statues and pictures, etc. Carrie’s extra powers are accompanied by a lot of arm-waving, finger-pointing and mad facial expressions as little Chloë hams it up big-time in an effort to do the job well. She ends up looking a bit like Kate Bush in one of her early videos, but she still gets the job done, I think.

The ‘bucket of pig’s blood at the prom’ scene lacks a little of the sheer power (there’s that word again!) of the same scene in the first movie, and I prefer the original Tommy Ross and Billy Nolan to the chinless wonders (sorry, guys!) playing the parts this time around. The teacher, Miss Desjardins, is maybe slightly less effective than the teacher in the first film and, overall, I think I prefer the film when it’s set in the ‘Seventies. It has a grittier, more authentic feel to it, somehow.

Still, if a remake was unavoidable and seemingly it was, haha, I think that this is a perfectly decent effort. It does everything the first film does, just with a different cast and a more contemporary feel. Of course there’s a loss of atmosphere and it’s not as frightening, but I’m happy with the two female leads and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them take on these two iconic roles. I don’t know what more you can ask for, really.

* * * * * * * * * *


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man.

reposted from: 

SYFY Contest -- GAME ON!

Let's have some fun!

We all know Haven is a quirky place to live.  I'm not even sure I'd want to visit!  Season 5 has just come out on DVD -- and guess what, I have two prize copies ready to send to you; maybe.

Now for the contest:
David Letterman style, send me your top five (or you can do 10) reasons you would -- or wouldn't -- want to live in Haven.

email me your list at: davidattalkstephenking@yahoo.com

CONTEST: September 7-16
PRIZE: Copy of Haven Season 5
RULES: Email davidattallkstephenking@yahoo.com a list of at least five reasons you would or would not want to live in heaven.

In the town of Haven, ME, residents are cursed with superhuman afflictions known as "The Troubles." Audrey Parker and her friends try to help the "Troubled" while uncovering deeper mysteries.

 In Season Five our heroes struggle to keep the towns secrets under wraps becomes even more difficult when Haven is visited by a whip smart CDC doctor, who comes to believe that there may be an underlying genetic marker to the troubles, and possibly a cure. But there may be more to her agenda in Haven than first meets the eye.


I'm really excited to announce that Talk Stephen King will be hosting its first contest in partnership with SYFY channel.  

When:September 7-15
Where: talkstephenking.blogspot.com
Prize: Haven Season 5 DVD

How Uncle Huey Got Religion

I just released my first novel, How Uncle Huey Got Religion.

OH!  This isn't very Stephen Kingish.  Gripe if you want.  Really love griping.  Yes!  You should!  Someone should post, "What's this have to do with Stephen King?"  It makes my day when we get to complain.

Someone contacted me in early August to ask where I had gone.  Was Talk Stephen King still on my radar?  Yep.  Where I went -- I was finishing my  novel and then doing the intense back and forth with the editor.

Some personal notes about Huey:

I've been writing How Uncle Huey Got Religion since I was in college.  I think I've written the book at least 3-4 times, start to finish.  And it changed a lot.  When I started writing this time, I knew it had the flow I wanted.  And, I certainly knew where I was driving the thing.

I'm actually a pretty fast writer.  I have a box full of novels I've written.  So why Huey?  It seems this was the story I felt I needed to tell, even when it was more difficult for me.  Huey was a tough nut because it's historical fiction.  Writing about life in North Carolina, 1938 was more challenging than writing up a horror story set in. . . hell.

By the way, yes I did write a story about a guy racing through hell, diving down bottomless pits and avoiding pits of fire.  But, my wife convinced me to stick with Huey.  I think she was concerned that I would arrive on judgment day and God would hold up my book on hell and go, "Not funny."  I told her I would write under another name.  She just gave me this look -- stick with Huey.  I'm glad I did.

I'm much more drawn to dark stories.  The story about the house that burns down -- and then is back the next day, but burned and blackened.  The story about the ordinary guy who wakes up strapped in the electric chair.  . . . my loved ones think I'm messed up.  I think some of us are helped by exploring the darkness, following through on an idea.

So Huey was not an easy thing for me to write.  I stuck with it, and decided to go ahead and put down money to have it edited.  And that was an issue.  I was not thrilled with the number of mistakes I found in previous self published books.  I was paying an editor real money, and the work came back nice and clean.  But friends would point out big mistakes.  I felt like I was caught going to school in my undies.

A good friend of mine, a man who helped me go through college, read one of my books.  He would send me corrections by email.  When he learned I was writing Huey, he let me know he was ready to help.  Turns out, editing was his job.  (I didn't know that.)  Here's what I learned: The editing process is very intense.  I thought writing was hard and editing fun.  That's true.  But editing is also tough stuff.  You have to argue and discuss and think through all kinds of things.

I wrote Mr. Editor one day, "Does the novel work?"
"Does it work?" tough Mr. Editor asked.
"You know, the engine that drives this thing.  The story itself.  Does it work?"
"I don't know.  I'm looking at spelling right now."
A week later.  "Hey, I read the whole thing over.  To answer your question, yes, it works."
Sweat swept from my brow.

How people talk:
I had a lot of fun writing dialogue -- mostly.  I would watch movies from the thirties, just to get an idea of words they used.  I youtubed 1930s North Carolina, to hear people from that era.  Also to note how they dressed.

What was difficult: racism.  Race plays an important role in the book as Huey's church defies some cultural norms of the day.

Stephen King advises a writer to play it straight, even if its costly.  yeah, your mom is gonna read it, but we have to stay true to the characters, King argues.  I think he's right, or his audience.  He can have cussing and racism and people accept that.  But i wasn't comfortable with that.  My own hangup?  Maybe.  Probably.  It meant I cleaned up some of what the KKK group in the book said.  I knew how they would really say it, but I wrote around that.

I asked a friend of mine from the region to give me every bad name for blacks he knew.  I only knew one, the N word.  Oh man!  He came back with a list and gave it to me in person.  I did use some of them, just to convey racism -- but by no means all.  As I stuffed his list into my pocket, my friend said, "Do me a favor, don't get hit by a car with all those words stuffed in your pocket.  They'll think you're some kind of right wing racist."  I pointed out it was his handwriting.

Stephen King rules I did not follow: I did not follow King's "door closed" and "door open" rule while writing.  I brought my wife along on the process.  In fact, a lot of people went with me on the journey, because there was so much to verify and learn.

Rule I did follow: I printed the whole thing up, tried to read as fast as I could, and cut about 30k words out of the story.

I am sure you are now aching to read by novel.  You've been waiting for that link.  Go ahead, buy lots, I've got four girls to send to college.  (and buy my Stpehen King book while you're at it.)

14.95 paperback
3.99 Kindle
0.00 Kindle Unlimited.

Wes Craven 1939 - 2015

This is reposted with permission from one of my favorite blogs, The Girl Who Loves Horror (Thanks Michele!)

The loss of the great Wes Craven has been a terrible blow to the horror community. I know there are dozens of posts like this out there right now, and I know that we have lost so many great people recently, but this has truly saddened me and hurt my heart. Last night I was actually in a really good mood, watching a funny DVD, and enjoying the last few hours of my weekend. Then I absently checked my Facebook feed and was hit with the awful news. I thought it wasn't real at first, but it was: an icon was gone, and the life and career of my favorite horror director was no more.

It was a shock to say the least, because Wes Craven has always been an important part of my horror life. I came to horror a bit later in life than other fans - though I had always watched them as a child - and Scream was an important part of that. Then I saw more of Wes's films and realized just how much I loved not only the things this man has created but the man himself. I didn't talk about him enough when he was around, and I won't make that mistake now.

Wes was a kind, soft-spoken soul with a wonderful sense of humor and an aura of sweetness that you couldn't help but be attracted to. It was hard for me to equate the gentle man I saw behind the scenes with the dark things that came out of his mind on film. But at the same time, that's what I always loved about him. He wasn't afraid to bring real horror to film, and be gritty and raw about it. He also wasn't afraid to have fun with the genre and with himself, and he constantly did new and different things. Even then, you could tell when you were watching a Wes Craven film, as he had a distinct style and voice that I always enjoyed. He was beyond smart, analytical and creative, and his films were about so much more than what was on the surface.

Perhaps it seems weird to people outside the community that we are so affected by this, crying over somebody that we never met. As soon as I got home today, I put on my favorite Wes film, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and as soon as Wes himself showed up on screen, the tears started coming. Reading all the messages that people have left on various platforms proves just how much he touched the lives of fans with his work and what an influence he has had on so many people around the world. We all experienced his career separately, but at the same time together, having the same feelings and gaining the same reverence each time we enjoyed another one of his films.

Thank you, Wes, for being the man that you were, and for bringing all those amazing characters, stories, and worlds to life. We will never forget you and we will never let your legacy die.

Thanks for the nightmares.

How Scary is IT?

Finders Keepers Journal #3: Spoilers and Whining

I think this is the picture referred to

I finished Finders Keepers the other night.  Obviously --

there are spoilers ahead.

The purpose of this blog is to talk about the book.  There is also a lot of whining ahead.  Not because I didn't like the book; I liked it every much.  The whining is just that, me thinking and rethinking things perhaps beyond necessity.  Feel free to comment and tell me I've lost my mind -- or that I sound like a sulking child.

1. Surprises.  I'll admit: King got me.  I thought mama bear was dead.  Then it turns out to be -- A SCALP WOUND?  Okay, Mr. King, you're directing this movie and I'll go with it -- but I'm getting doubtful.

2. Hodges.  Did he need to be in this book?  Of course, he's needed to save Peter, so his presence is important if you're Pete.  But I'm not sure that other than the final scenes, Hodges and company really did anything to advance the plot.  There was a lot of running around, and a lot of talking -- but when it really got down to it, they were stuck in traffic and only showed up at the last minute to serve as Pete's trap door of escape.

For a hard boiled crime book, may I ask -- did Hodges do any mystery solving this time?

I think I enjoyed the story more when it was focused on Pete and Morris.  That was a great story line!  A crook hides his loot, and a boy finds it.  The boy uses the loot to pay his parents bills.

Would a real teenage boy be able to pull off half of what Peter does in the novel?

3. Misery.  Finders Keepers reminds me of Misery.  It's a novel about books -- and writing.  While Misery was a very closed novel -- just two people -- Finders Keepers happens on a much bigger stage.  Remember Paul Sheldon jamming his burning novel into Annie's mouth?  Remind you of the end of Finders Keepers?

4. Frustrating.  The final plot twists between Morris and Peter are frustrating.  First, the entire thing seems illogical.  So Peter's plan is to stave off Morris by holding a lighter over the precious manuscripts?  As soon as the book took this turn, I was going, "Wait. . . what?!"  The scene plays out not the way I really think it might have, but the way King wants it to.  His direction feels heavy handed in the final scenes.  He's forcing the plot along, making it work because he wants it to work out for Pete.

Why would Pete burn the only existing Rothstein manuscripts?  Obviously the answer is that it was the only way to get himself out of the mess he was in.  But it really did make for a ridiculous scene as he held a lighter over the notebooks and Morris held a gun on him.  I was thinking, "Is this seriously a stand off?  Morris the murderer is held off by a boy with a lighter?"

That whining aside, I really liked it when Morris began to dig though the flaming notebooks.  Realistic? No.  But great stuff!  A man burning alive as he chases the thing he's killed to get.  Ultimately the very thing he's had to have, he's done anything to get -- is the thing that has him.

5. Ending.  The novel returns to the world of Mr. Mercedes, as Bill goes to visit Brady.  Is Brady possibly finding a way to get up and play tricks -- maybe even murder -- on the hospital staff?  The ending, which has a splash of telekinesis, is the only place I can think of where the paranormal has entered the trilogy.  Makes me wonder: Will the next novel center on Brady?  Will it involve more element of horror?

All that whining aside, I liked this a lot more than Mercedes.  Why?  Well, the plot itself, the engine that drove the book, was much more engaging.  And, King didn't try to make Morris sympathetic.  In Mercedes there were those strange scenes between mama and her boy; stuff that served to help us understand what made Brady tick.  Morris might be jut as complicated (he did, after all, kill his favorite author because he felt the guy sold out) but we don't have to spend too long in his head or his past.