Night in the Lonesome October

I’ve been reflective lately.

Yeah, you say, what else is new?

Hear me out.

Ten months ago, I grudgingly returned to social media. I’m not proud. I definitely did it to sell books, but something else happened. I made some new friends. That was pretty cool. And yeah, I did sell some books, which was also pretty cool.

But I still saw a lot of the ugly things that drove me away in the first place. Hypocrisy, petty arguments, dismissive comments, and manufactured outrage.

Then I got tired, frustrated and depressed.

Back in June, I restarted The Mangum Show podcast. Recorded a ton of content. Paid for a logo. The works.

Unfortunately, I ran into some technology roadblocks. Skype recordings are inconsistent in terms of quality. I can’t seem to figure out editing in Audacity. Then my MP3 converter just decided to stop working.

I got tired, frustrated and depressed.

Marketing yourself, man. I’ve done a lot of it this year. Even paid for some ads, which produced mixed results.

Through these last ten months, I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned videos get the most attention on this site. As a result, you should expect more videos.

I’ve learned social media is STILL toxic for me. I won’t be deleting my accounts again, but I do plan on cutting back my time on there significantly.

I’m working full-time again, so time is more precious than ever. I want to spend it on things that are worthwhile.

Videos that bring more visitors to this site. Patreon-exclusive content. The Mangum Show will continue, too, albeit in a different format. Plus, writing, writing and more writing.

This is probably not a particularly organized blog entry, so much as it’s me thinking aloud. If you’re still here, thanks for indulging me.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: this October, I’m reading lots of Richard Laymon and Bryan Smith instead of watching the same movies over and over again.

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.

Preorder My Romance All I Need

If you follow me on Twitter or IG, or if you know me personally, you may have heard that last fall I wrote a romance. I talked a little bit about that on an episode of The JDO Show, but I believe that episode is exclusive to his patrons, soooo, I figured I’d talk about it a little here.

With the exception of a phase during my teenage years where I exclusively wrote science fiction and action-adventure, I’ve been writing horror my entire life. It started when I was six-years-old with a handwritten, illustrated chapbook called The Skeleton that I photocopied and sold to my neighbors.

I had a well-documented psychotic break around this time last year. What I haven’t talked much about is that this break was the culmination of a whole lot of other things. Call it a sophomore slump or call it imposter syndrome, and you’d probably be onto something, but around 2014 (a few months after selling Flesh and Fire), I could feel my love of what I was doing, along with my love of myself fizzling. But I kept trucking forward. Kept writing. And, most notably, kept quiet. I published Mania and the first edition of Engines of Ruin. I finished Gods of the Dark Web and We Are the Accused. I did all of this, even though I thought I was a complete fraud.

After my son was born though, the mental exhaustion of dealing with a newborn proved too much. I stopped finishing things. Even when Gods of the Dark Web came out, I had a difficult time getting the fire back. Part of that was I tried to recapture the tone and style of that book, which I’d finished two years prior. Another part was that I was always tired and probably on the wrong medicine.

Eventually, I stopped writing altogether. You want to know whether or not writing is for you? Try not doing it for a while. After six months of a self-imposed hiatus, as well as getting hit with the news that because of my son’s allergies we had to get rid of all our cats, I just couldn’t take it anymore. This resulted in a long weekend stay at Austin Lakes Hospital.

While there, I learned some interesting things. For example: mental patients have a strangely acute sense of respect for others’ personal space. Most “well-adjusted” folk are always up in my shit. I also learned that writing is damn important to me. When not going to group, eating or sleeping, I was at it with a pencil and notebook, mostly just trying to create a perfect scene.

When I got out, I hungered to start a new project. After a long chat with accomplished romance writer Tracy Wolff, I thought a good way back into the process would be to try something completely different.

Enter All I Need, a romance in which two masked strangers who have a one night stand discover they’re long lost high school sweethearts, torn apart thirteen years prior by Hurricane Katrina.

I stuttered my way through the first bit. Not only had I not written in a while, but this was a whole new genre for me. Then Killer Con happened, and I remembered, goddamn, of COURSE I still love horror, and hammered out a few short stories that found their way into the reissue of Engines of Ruin. But since I hate leaving good ideas unfinished, I returned to All I Need and typed the words “The End” on the document in November.

Multiple revisions later, All I Need, the first of 4 romance novellas set in New Orleans, is up for preorder on Amazon. If you’re curious to see the piece that got me writing again, check it out.

If you’re only here for the horror, that’s cool, too. Finishing All I Need got me to Saint Sadist, and I’ve got many more tales of terror in the works.

Preorder on Amazon

Keep on Keeping On

I’m not gonna lie, gang. 2019 has gotten off to a rocky start. It’s been tremendously hard to keep it together. There have been some family issues that I can’t share here. The death of my brother’s dog. And most recently the implosion of a writing community that I hold dear.

Too many people have weighed in on that last bit, so I don’t really feel the need to add anything (though I’m sure, like most things in my life, parts of it will bleed into my fiction). All I’ll say here is that it’s been a difficult few weeks, full of decisions I didn’t want to face. I watched people I love say absolutely loathsome things on Facebook (I’m not really on Facebook, but I do lurk every once in a while). I’ve seen friends treated unfairly. I’ve seen people who aren’t even involved in the scene speaking out to make themselves look good. I’ve witnessed people use the suffering of others to sell more books. I’ve seen outright lies held up as truth and attempts to reveal facts branded as “mansplaining.”

So, yeah. It’s really sucked this week. Now for something completely different.

We’ve added a new guppy to the fish tank. His name is Bruce.

The cover of Saint Sadist continues to generate buzz.

I got my author copies of We are the Accused. Reviewers have gotten their copies as well. The book even got its first review from Ian Muller (a bright up-and-comer in his own right). He calls We are the Accused “A bleak, ultra-violent take on small town horror that will appeal to both fans of Peter Straub and splatterpunk. “

The Crossroad Press edition of Engines of Ruin also seems to be doing well. In fact, it’s ranked higher in its category than pretty much anything else I’ve put out before. Dunno what that actually means, to be honest, but it sounds good.

I’ve also got 65% of Extinction Peak, my gory dinosaur novel, finished.

So, all in all, it has been rocky. But I’m moving forward.

Sometimes I think moving forward in the face of awful things is strength. Other times I think it’s foolish and cruel. I doubt I’ll ever really know either way. What do you think?