Killer Con 2019 Itinerary

The following is my Killer Con itinerary:

Thursday night around 7ish, you can find me at the bar.

Through most of Friday, I’ll be in the dealer’s room lending a hand to those who need one, BUT Friday night I’ll be a contestant in the Wings of Pain Challenge, which starts at 8:30. “But, Lucas, aren’t you vegetarian?” To that I say, “Shane McKenzie was kind enough to get me plant-based wings so he can punish me with hot sauce.”

Friday at 9 pm, you can find me at the Death’s Head Press party in the Convention Suite. That is, if Wings of Pain doesn’t totally ruin me.

Saturday, I’ll be supporting folks in the dealer’s room again, but after that, you can listen to me and several others as we take part in the panel How Not to Kill Yourself, which is all about staying sane while writing about terrible things. The panel starts at 6 pm.

Like last year, I’ll be participating in the Grossout Contest at 10 pm on Saturday. Unlike last year, I’m walking home with first prize this time around. At least that’s the goal!

At 1 pm on Sunday, I’ll be a part of the Clash Books reading block.

Now, I’ll be around all weekend, but these are the parts of my itinerary that are set in stone. Hope to see my Mangumaniacs there!

Want to attend Killer Con? You can register here.

Blood and Brimstone, Chapter 13 – Free Serial Novel

When she finished sessions for the day, she gathered all her notes and her laptop. She flipped to the first page of her legal pad so it would sit more comfortably in her bag. The symbol Katie sketched that morning caught her eye and made her pause. She studied the image, its curves and angles, the herd of animal impressions spiraling toward its center. There was something undeniably captivating about it, though she was sure she had never seen it before. She traced the angles with her index and middle fingers. The paper hissed at her touch.

Having studied the occult during college, she had a hard time believing she didn’t recognize the symbol. She thought of Dr. Carlyle, the professor who she interviewed for her thesis, and wondered if he would know something about the symbol. A part of her wanted to let it go, but she was worried about Katie.

Every once in a while, in her profession, a client came around who she felt connected to. Something deeper than a patient-therapist relationship existed between them. The first time it happened, she fell in love with a patient named Arthur. She had just graduated and Arthur was close to her age. When they spoke, it reminded her of good music, each instrument a complement to the other, shifting between each voice in perfect time. After one particularly passionate session, he kissed her, and she let him. She even returned his affections. Realizing her error, she recommended him to a colleague and told him they couldn’t see each other personally, or professionally, because it just wasn’t right. Six months later, he committed suicide. Hanged himself in the foyer of his parents’s house.

While Ruthanne had no romantic feelings for Katie, she did think of the young woman as a friend. She had a personal investment in Katie’s recovery. Because of this, she had no qualms going above and beyond to figure out ways to help. She would never let Katie go, not like she let Arthur go. Sometimes a therapist lost a patient, but she refused to lose another she cared for this deeply, especially not when a possible answer lay before her. If she could find out more about the symbol, she might better understand what Katie was going through.

Ruthanne reopened her laptop and looked up Dr. Carlyle’s phone number. She dialed, not expecting him to answer. On the third ring, he picked up.

“Dr. Carlyle? It’s Ruthanne. Ruthanne Weiss.”

“Ruthanne, well, hello. How are you this evening?”

“I’m okay. I’m sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you could look at something for me. Can I scan it to you?”

“Sure, you still have my email?”

She read it back to him.

“That’s the one.”

“Great, I’ll send it right over.”

“What are you sending me?”

“It’s a symbol one of my patients drew. I… don’t recognize it, but I thought you might.”

“Still chasing spirits, I see.”

“Did you ever stop?”

“No, I don’t suppose I have. Go ahead and send me the image.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“So long, old friend.”

They hung up and she went to the office scanner, typed in his email, and sent the sketch of the symbol. She waited, sitting still for the first fifteen minutes, and then she started pacing. When he didn’t call back a half hour later, she tried calling him. No answer.

It’s okay. Just give him time. Maybe he’ll call tomorrow.

She took the sheet from the scanner and stared again at the symbol. It hypnotized her, until she made herself stuff the paper into her bag, and finally left the office.

Black Horizon

I spent the week of Christmas Eve on a cruise ship. Between the delicious drinks and fantastic food and spending time with family, I found much to enjoy, but staring across the black water and trying to find where it ended and the black sky began brought me the most peace. Sometimes serenity comes with the focus of knowing where you’re headed. Other times it comes from the mystery of an unclear horizon, of blackness as far as you can see. The Abyss may stare back, and sometimes that’s scary, but other times it’s gaze is hypnotic and calming.

Despite making a tremendous amount of progress during the last half of 2018, I can’t say I know any better who I am or what tomorrow holds. However, I know what feels good, and what I’d like to keep doing as long as I’m able. I want to be a good father. I want to be a good husband. I want to keep writing. How I keep the lights on while doing those things is another matter entirely, though I’ve considered going into some form of teaching. I’ve learned a lot about literature and writing (both in terms of craft and the field itself) over the last ten years. I think people can benefit from that wisdom, and I think I’d find much joy in giving back.

But we’ll see. The horizon is black.

My new novel (or novella, depending on your definition) is available for preorder. At the risk of being found guilty of hyperbole, it is the craziest thing I’ve published to date. It begins in a familiar way, the sort of small town horror first popularized by Stephen King with ‘Salem’s Lot and continued by the likes of Brian Keene, Bentley Little, and Blake Crouch. However, in the second half, the story takes a dramatic turn. I guess anyone who’s followed my personal journey over the last four years or so could point to the middle of the book and say, “a-ha, this is the moment where Lucas Mangum lost his mind,” and they wouldn’t be wrong. The second half becomes more hallucinatory, drawing inspiration from William S. Burroughs and the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. If you’re not reading close enough, the narrative may even appear to unravel, but it’s still there, even if it’s buried underneath psychedelic theological metaphor. I’m thankful Sinister Grin Press saw fit to release it, and if this crazy little book sounds like something you’d enjoy, you can read an excerpt or preorder it right here.

I caught the movie Bird Box last night on Netflix. Sandra Bullock gave a great performance. The film is full of tension and great scares, and it’s truly heart-wrenching at times. It’s basically The Road but with Lovecraft’s cosmic monsters.

Right now, I’m reading Scummer by John Wayne Comunale. If you’re into punk films like Repo Man or Combat Shock, you’ll really appreciate this book from an aesthetic point of view. Plus, Comunale’s really come into his own as a writer, and he displays impressive chops here, transcending his bizarro roots and finding horror in unexpected places.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Remember, just because the horizon is black, or you find the Abyss staring back at you, it’s possible to keep moving forward and fighting the enemy within.