A New Year, A New Partnership, A New Project

Hey, so, this last week was kind of crazy so I didn’t get a chance to post this news until now. On Monday, I signed a book deal with Bloodshot Books and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve known the publisher, Pete Kahle, for a few years now, going all the way back to 2014’s Widowmakers anthology, and he immediately came to mind when I started thinking about this project.

Right. The project. I can’t tell you what it is. Pete can’t tell you what it is, either. It’s a little something I’m calling PROJECT: WILLOUGHBY. This post is the last time I’m going to talk about it here until it’s done. It’s likely that when the project is done, you’ll have forgotten all about the project, as it’s not expected to be complete until 2020–but for now, I’m telling you it exists so you don’t think I’m not working on anything of substance. I am. It’s just going to take a while to finish.

So! That’s the big news. We can talk about it again in a year to 18 months. Until then, keep calm and carry on.


P.S. Sharing this photo of me & Pete at Necon 2018 because it makes me laugh:

2018: Ash, Cinders, Flame.

Got a new face and it feels all right / Power and strength and appetite / I eat your loathing, hate and fear / Should probably stay away from here

I usually write a recap earlier in December but I was busy writing more important things, so this post comes a little late in the game. 2018 was…yeah, that was a year, wasn’t it? Or maybe it was ten years. Certainly feels like it lasted ten years.

I wrote a lot last year, folks. Finished Devil’s Creek, wrote a novelette, several short stories, a non-fiction piece. As I posted on FB last week:

2018 in numbers (approx.):

  • Fiction:Devil’s Creek (Parts 4&5): 76k
    The Smile Factory: 9k
    The Black-Eyed Boy: 2k
    So Delicious the Dreams of Man: 4.5k
    Tommy the Destructo-Bot: 7k
    Happy Pills: 4.5k
    We’ve All Gone to the Magic Show: 6k
  • Non-Fiction:
    They Grow in the Shadows: 4k
  • Submissions: 12
    Acceptances: 3
    Rejections: 7
    Pending: 2
  • Art:
    Commissions: 2
    Book Covers: 5
    Book Interiors: 2

Like I said, I wrote a lot, and some of it’s carrying over into 2019. I started working on something new, probably another novelette, that I intend to submit to Nightscape’s Charitable Chapbooks line. And I’ve got several solicitations to consider. On top of that, Italia will be shopping Devil’s Creek to publishers, and I suspect I’ll begin work on my next book at some point this year. I’ve also got something else to unveil in the coming months, but I’m waiting on some other pieces to fall into place first.

So. 2018 was busy. But as I also wrote on FB last week:

Also in 2018: chronic anxiety and depression, a twisted ankle, a bruised coccyx, gout flares, tendinitis, short term disability, and three funerals.

I’m not posting this to say “Yay me!” I’m posting it to say that if I can do it, so can you.

So I want you to get up, go to your window, and scream into the void, “I’m going to do this and you can’t fucking stop me.”

Because no one is going to do it for you.

And that’s really the long and short of it, friends. 2018 kicked my ass to the curb, but I kept crawling back for more because I’m a tenacious son of a bitch and a glutton for punishment. Maybe it’s the writer in me. Or the Keisling stubbornness. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, I went to the brink last year. I looked down and took some time to think about things. It was terrifying and rejuvenating. I lost people last year. I lost myself. And somehow I found my way back in time to pick up where I’d left off.

Now it’s 2o19 and I’m ready to do it all again, a little wiser, a little older, with scars and sores and blood on my knuckles.

Last night I proclaimed my slogan for the year is “Write or Die.”

Time to put that into practice.


Hey look what’s staring back at you / Caught reflecting in your eyes / I’m becoming something new / It’s getting hard to recognize

O Unholy Night in Deathlehem!

I’m proud to announce that my story “Black Friday” will be published for the first time in O Unholy Night in Deathlehem, a holiday-themed charity anthology published by Grinning Skull Press. All proceeds will be donated to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, so I urge you to consider picking this one up when it’s available.

“Black Friday” is my one and only zombie story, the first draft of which dates all the way back to 2007. I considered including it in ULT, but found the tone didn’t quite fit with the rest. It’s a long one, approximately 9k words, about a group of retail workers stranded in an office supply store during a zombie outbreak on the biggest shopping day of the year.

There’s no release date yet–I’ll update here once it’s announced.

More soon.


Tales to Terrify #356!

I meant to post this sooner! My story “The Darkness Between Dead Stars” from ULT was produced in audio for last week’s episode of the Tales to Terrify podcast, alongside none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I must say it’s quite the honor. I’ve been listening to Tales to Terrify for a couple of years now, and they do excellent work. The narrator for Darkness, Drew Sebesteny, gives an amazing performance in his reading, and I encourage you all to check it out!



I’ve finally been given the green light to announce this. My essay, “They Grow in the Shadows,” will appear in IT’S ALIVE: BRINGING YOUR NIGHTMARES TO LIFE, edited by Eugene Johnson and Joe Mynhardt, from Crystal Lake Publishing. The book is due out next month, and I can’t wait to see it in person. Oh, and some of the other announced authors for this book? Chuck Palahniuk. Michael Bailey. Lisa Mannetti F. Paul Wilson. Joe & Kasey Lansdale. Trust me, the full TOC is going to blow your mind.

Just November Things

A few things:

I chose winners for the USB drives. They’ll be going out in the mail soon. If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, be sure to check your email to see if you won. And if you don’t claim yours by the end of the month, I’ll pick a new winner.

I’ve placed two stories–a reprint and something old/new that’s never been published before. I’ll share details when I’m given the okay to do so.

I’m back at the day job on a part-time basis, and it’s going…okay, I guess. I see my doctor for a follow-up tomorrow afternoon, and I suspect we’ll have a lot to talk about.

On the writing front, I’ve got a few things in the works but nothing solid yet. I suspect things will firm up closer to the end of the year, as I’ve got a few open invitations I want to address.

Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to report. This is that time of year where my activity slows down in favor of family and personal time, so expect these blog posts to be few and far between over the next couple of months. Unless I get to announce something, in which case I’ll do so.

I think that’s about it. Enjoy your week/month, folks!


Custom ULT-themed USB Drives!

Hey, folks!

A couple weeks ago, someone from USB Memory Direct reached out to me about participating in a Halloween-themed giveaway of their custom-printed USB drives. Long story short, they sent me 25 of these custom 8 GB flash drives to give away here on my site. Check these out:

Pretty cool, huh? These drives are well-made from sturdy plastic and could fit in your wallet. The printing is high quality, full bleed on both sides, and all I did was provide them with hi-res versions of the book cover and the back of my business card with contact info. They did the rest, and I have to say, I’m thoroughly impressed with the end result. There are also a few color variants in the batch as well.

USB Memory Direct are also hosting a giveaway of their own over on their site. Here are the details:

For all 31 days of October, USB Memory Direct will be running a spook-tacular giveaway for an Halloween-inspired gift box featuring a 32 GB Ubie Ninja flash drive and plenty of treats (and maybe a few tricks, too). They’re also giving 5 lucky winners a 64 gb drive as a special treat, so be sure to enter before it’s too late! 

As for my custom drives, all you have to do is sign up for my mailing list. Don’t worry–if you’ve already signed up, you’ll be in the running. I’ll select the winners at random on Halloween. Good luck!


The Emptiness In Me: Outside the Cave

(This is a follow-up to September’s post, “The Emptiness in Me.” If you haven’t read it, go back and do so, as this post may not make much sense without it…)

So. The insurance issue was resolved in a weird way. They ultimately denied my appeal on a ridiculous technicality (because of course they did), but left the claim in the hands of my employer to make a final decision. Fortunately, they did the right thing, and in mid-October, right before Merrimack, I was paid for missed wages. With that weight off my chest, I was free to truly relax, and have done so these last couple of weeks. Our short trip to Boston for the Merrimack festival was part of that relaxation.

Last week, I had a follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist. The medication is in full swing, and I can say I haven’t felt this clear-headed and focused in a very long time. Hell, maybe I’ve never felt this focused and clear-headed. It’s sort of like putting on glasses for the first time, when all that blurriness goes away and the world sharpens with clarity. Things that used to stress me out simply aren’t anymore. When I was at Merrimack, surrounded by all those people, I didn’t feel anxious or panicked anymore. I took everything in stride. Granted, the social interaction took its toll this past week, leaving me feeling exhausted for a few days, but I imagine the 7+ hour drives to and from Boston had something to do with that.

Anyway, my doctor cleared me to return to work on a part-time basis for the next four weeks. If all goes well, I can resume full-time work after my next follow-up in November.

Yeah. Returning to work. Where things aren’t good. In fact, based on conversations with friends in the workplace, things have only deteriorated more in my absence.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous, but at the same time, I’m not pacing the halls or losing sleep over it, either. I’m honestly looking forward to seeing a few folks when I return tomorrow. And the knowledge that it’s only half-days for a few weeks is also a relief. It’s nice knowing that I can ease my way back into the job.

It’s still a weird feeling, going back. I’ve been gone since August 1st, sleeping without a schedule or alarm clock, spending my days with the cats. I feel like a hermit emerging from his cave to see the sun. Looking back on the last two months, I’ve had a lot of time to myself, to think on my emotions or lack thereof, my lack of energy, my hopes, goals, dreams, and so on. This new perspective afforded me by antidepressants has allowed me to see more of what I want, and more importantly, how to obtain it. I feel invigorated by this. Driven, even.

In summary, I feel somewhat whole again. The emptiness is still there–it will always be there–but it’s smaller. There’s more of me now. And it’s time to get back to work.


Merrimack Recap

The weekend sped by in a blur. Seven hours up to Boston on Friday, eight hours back to PA on Sunday. And in the middle, one of the best book events I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. All told, according to Chris Golden and the Haverhill Library, there were over 1000 people there on Saturday. I sold some books, spent a lot of money on books, and saw many of my friends during the course of the day. If you’re a writer, I urge you to attend next year if you can. Even if you can’t get a table for your own books, you should still go. It’s an experience.

Erica and I spent the weekend  with Richard B. Wood and his lovely wife Tina. They were kind enough to host us in their home, saving us the expense of a hotel, and in the process I think we all learned that we’re not just friends, but family. Thanks, Richard & Tina!

Richard & Tina

As I write this, I realize I didn’t get photos with Cat Scully or Jason Parent or Barry Desaju or John & Di Buja or Doug Wynne or Catherine Grant or Jack Haringa or Grady Hendrix. Believe me when I say the day was manic and insane in the best way possible.

A few highlights I want to mention:

  • Meeting Stephanie Wytovich and her husband, Dennis. The last time I saw Stephanie was at Necon 2016, on the very last day, for about five minutes. I finally got a copy of her novel, The Eighth.
  • Sharing a table with Morgan Sylvia, author of Abode. We’re fellow Opeth fans, and she shared a list of music that I’m going to check out.
  • Hearing from Ed Kurtz that he read ULT and enjoyed it. He said it was good stuff and to keep doing what I’m doing. That was a huge compliment (and a handsome one).
  • Signing books for John Langan and Laird Barron, two of my favorite authors. I can’t properly express the honor I felt in doing so. They’ve both been a huge influence on me and my work over the last several years, and to be treated as a friend and contemporary is…well, it’s magic.

Seriously, if you’re a horror writer, or even just a book fan, try to make it to Haverhill, MA next year. And bring your credit card.

I’ll let the rest of these photos speak for me:

Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival!

I know this is short notice but I have to share. By a pure stroke of luck, I snagged a table at the Merrimack Halloween Book Festival in Haverhill, MA this Saturday, October 13th. I’ll be at Table 20 alongside Morgan Sylvia, author of Abode, from 1 to 4:30. Here’s the full schedule:

(all day if not otherwise noted)

Table 1:
Christopher Golden
Thomas Sniegoski

Table 2:
Jennifer McMahon
Rio Youers

Table 3:
Hillary Monahan
Cat Scully

Table 4:
The Peculiarity Shop
Toni LP Kelner/Leigh Perry

Table 5:
Grady Hendrix
Nicholas Kaufmann

Table 6:
Laird Barron
John Langan

Table 7:
Jeff Strand
Lynne Hansen

Table 8:
Bracken MacLeod
KL Pereira

Table 9:
Stephen R. Bissette

Table 10:
James A. Moore
Charles R. Rutledge

Table 11:
Haverhill House Publishers
(John McIlveen, Tony Tremblay, Matt Bechtel)

Table 12:
Mary SanGiovanni
Brian Keene

Table 13:
Kelli Owen (AD)
Izzy Lee (AM)
Bob Ford (PM)

Table 14:
Stephanie Wytovich (AD)
Larissa Glasser (AM)
Kristin Dearborn (PM)

Table 15:
Trisha Wooldridge (AM)
Scott Goudsward (AM)
Errick Nunnally (PM)
Daniel Palmer (PM)

Table 16:
Ed Kurtz (AM)
Doungjai Gam (AM)
Dan Foley (PM)
Philip Perron (PM)

Table 17:
Craig Shaw Gardner
Tom Deady

Table 18:
Kameryn James (AM)
Sara Codair (AM)
Kenneth Vaughan (PM)
Jason Parent (PM)

Table 19:
John Goodrich (AM)
Mary Hart (AM)
Gene Doucette (PM)
Mike Sullivan (PM)

Table 20:
Gregory Bastianelli (AM)
Robert Stava (AM)
Morgan Sylvia (PM)
Todd Keisling (PM)

Table 21:
Lisa Carlisle (AM)
Lindsay Moore (AM)
Barry DeJasu (PM)
David Price (PM)

Table 22:
Sarah Smith (AM)
Kat Howard (AM)
Sam Costello (PM)
JG Faherty (PM)

Table 23:
Laurie Faria Stolarz (AD)
Rob Smales (AM)
William Carl (PM)

Table 24:
Glenn Chadbourne

Table 25:
Douglas Wynne (AD)
Catherine Grant (AM)
Kelly Braffet 1pm
Catherine Grant (2:30 onward)

Owen King 2:30 pm

Many thanks to Jason Parent and Christopher Golden for making this happen! I hope you see you folks there!