Humble Beginnings

A friend of mine shared this with me tonight. It’s the title page from Written in Red, my first chapbook. I published it myself back in 2005, during my senior year of college. The profits helped pay my way out of Kentucky.

Seeing the title page inspired me to go digging through my files, to see if I still had all the stuff from that period of time. Allow me to share…

Here’s the cover that Erica designed, using a combination of Bryce (I know, I know…) and Photoshop. When you have a budget of $10, you’ll use what you have available at the time.

 

Here are some shots of the books and the bookmarks we created to promote the book. They were printed at the Staples where I’d end up working for almost a year after I moved to Pennsylvania.

Here’s the flyer used to promote the book signing at Common Grounds, a coffee house in Lexington, and at Sam Goody (yeah, remember those?). “Four stories, three poems, one debut.” Groan!

 

 

 

I’d had a signing scheduled at Books-A-Million in my hometown, but they cancelled on me at the last minute and I had to improvise. Sam Goody sold books, so…yeah. They let me set up outside their store to hock my wares. Here’s a shot of Erica and I outside the store. This was the day before I graduated from college.

And last but not least, here’s my author photo from the back of the book. I think this proves that, once upon a time, I had a face beneath the beard and long hair to match.

Ah, to be 22 again…

Anyway. That’s enough of memory lane for one post. Just thought I’d share. As a reminder, I’ll be at the Horror at the Fort event at Fort Mifflin this Saturday, October 6th. I’ll have a vendor table with books for sale, and I’ll be the last one to read that evening. If you’re in the area, you should drop by and say hello. Maybe buy a book or three.

TK

PSA: Today is the Last Day to Pre-Order!


Yes, that’s right. Today is the last day to pre-order a premium hardcover edition of THE KING IN YELLOW. To recap, this edition is full-color and contains:

  • All ten original stories as they were published in 1895.
  • Ten full-color illustrations by Luke Spooner.
  • A new introduction by Joe Pulver, Sr.
  • A beautiful cover designed by Erica Keisling.

You can find ordering information here.

And if the premium hardcover is out of your price range, don’t worry–the black-and-white paperback edition is also available to order on Amazon! 

HORROR AT THE FORT 2018

Heads up, folks. I’ll be one of the guest authors at this year’s Horror at the Fort event at Fort Mifflin, PA on October 6th. I’ll also have a vendor table with copies of Ugly Little Things, The Smile Factory, and The Final Reconciliation available for sale. Directions and ticketing information can be found here.  I hope to see you there!

The Emptiness In Me: Living with Anxiety & Depression

Right. So, this is something personal. I’ve made no secret about my struggles with anxiety and depression. Historically, I’ve taken a stance of being open and honest with these struggles, because doing so may help others battling the same demons to know they aren’t alone. However, I’ve not gone public with my most recent battles because…well, I needed some time to heal first. I wanted to make sure I’m on the mend first before saying anything. I’m writing this today because I think I am, or at least I’m getting there.

Truth is, I haven’t felt like myself for a while now. At least since June. By the time NECON rolled around, I’d hoped the days away seeing friends and peers would help me out of my funk, but things didn’t work out that way. Things got worse. If you were hoping to connect with me at NECON this year and found me absent, please accept my apology. My anxiety was off the charts during that whole conference, and I spent most of the time either off-site or hiding in Amelia’s room. Some of you who were there and talked to me may not have noticed anything was wrong, and that’s the way I intended it. I’ve got a lot of experience burying my symptoms because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.

So, NECON came and went, and I returned home to the daily grind. I’ve also made no secret about the instability of my work situation and my feelings on the matter. Anyone who’s read The Smile Factory knows all too well. I was back at work two days when I had an anxiety attack. A few days later, on Monday morning of the following week, I had another one while I was getting ready for work. This time, I called in sick and made an appointment with my doctor.

Along with increasing the dosage of my anxiety meds, my doctor also suggested I remove myself from the environment for a while so that I can get back on my feet, clear my head, and heal. I’m fortunate in that I was able to file for a leave of absence through my employer (FMLA) and also submit a claim through my insurance for short-term disability (STD). Everything started August 1st. I haven’t been back to work since.

Since then, I’ve gone through a gamut of emotions. I spent the first week in bed, so exhausted that I slept most of the days away, and invested a ridiculous amount of time filling out paperwork for my insurance company regarding my claim. The hits kept on coming, though. Two weeks after my leave began, the insurance company denied my claim to short-term disability on account of the wording my doctor used when she filed her paperwork. We filed an appeal. Then my grandmother passed away, and Erica and I drove to Kentucky for the funeral.

Depression followed. I managed to get an appointment with a therapist, who has helped. She referred me to a psychiatrist in order to get my medications in order, and for the last few weeks, I’ve been on an antidepressant as well as my regular anxiety meds. Aside from some weird mood swings and a lack of appetite, it seems to be working (so far).

I’ve busied myself with other projects, like preparing the paperback edition of Tony’s book, and completing my King in Yellow project. Lately, I’ve been working on trimming down the Devil’s Creek manuscript for my agent. I’ve caught up on my reading. Watched a lot of movies and TV. Gone for walks and had many, many naps. More importantly, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my mental health and well-being.

Anyone reading this who has anxiety or depression knows these things aren’t something you can just shrug off, sleep off, or move beyond with positive thinking. It doesn’t work like that. Anxiety and depression are chemical imbalances in the brain. You can’t shut them off or simply decide to not feel that way anymore. They have to be managed, and I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what triggers them.

For me, that means avoiding crowded places for long periods of time (like retail spaces), avoiding situations that I perceive to be hopeless or pointless (like my day job), and avoiding as much negativity as possible. It means trying to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, accomplishing something every day no matter how minuscule, and keeping myself hydrated. It means breathing exercises, meditation, immersing myself in media for a few hours to get my mind off matters, and doing things that bring happiness into my life.

That last point is important, I think. I knew I’d reached a particularly deep period of depression in August when I no longer felt joy doing the things I loved. I stopped reading, writing, playing video games, or watching movies. I literally did nothing all day, and then felt awful and useless because I’d accomplished nothing, even though I had no desire to. See the contradiction? That’s depression and anxiety in play, folks: Anxiety over the lack of action feeding the depression sapping the energy to act. They’re a vicious cycle that will perpetuate themselves forever if I allow them.

And I’m fucking tired of letting them control my life.

So, I’m taking steps to regain some form of control in my life. The medication and therapy are part of it, but I’m also trying to change the way I approach obstacles and circumstances. I’m trying to find a reason to smile every day, because no matter where I look, there’s always a reason. I have an amazing wife, an incredible son, and some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. I’m beyond grateful for those things, and if nothing else, I will always have a reason to smile because of them.

So, even though I’m still awaiting a decision on my appeal from the insurance company, even though my day job has stopped paying me in accordance with FMLA, even though I may be forced to go back to work before I feel ready due to the insurance company’s bullshit, I still have reasons to smile. I still have reasons to be grateful. And I’m still me.

I think I’m going to end on that note. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk soon, okay?

TK

P.S. The deadline to pre-order a King In Yellow hardcover is October 2nd. And the paperback edition of Tony Rapino’s Greetings from Moon Hill is now available, too.

THE KING IN YELLOW is now available for pre-order.

Here’s a little project I’ve been working on since early 2017: A new edition of THE KING IN YELLOW by Robert W. Chambers. It’s got the complete text as it was originally published in 1895, a full cover spread designed by my wife Erica, a new introduction by Joe Pulver, and ten gorgeous illustrations by Luke Spooner. I couldn’t settle for just a regular paperback edition in black-and-white. Those illustrations deserve to be in color, which is what brings us to this project.

I mean, seriously, look at some of these…

And that amazing cover art…

The book is casewrapped (no dust jacket) and printed with full color throughout. This edition is intended for collectors and fans of the Yellow Mythos. The price is $50 plus shipping, and we’ll be taking pre-orders beginning today, 9/4, through 10/2.

If that’s too steep, don’t fret–that black-and-white paperback edition will be available in October as well, at a normal paperback price.

So, if this your sort of thing, or if you want to get a gift for someone who digs the Yellow King, be sure to check out the Storenvy shop.

TK

“Human Resources” on The Word Count Podcast + Other Things

I’m posting this before I forget to do so. I met R.B. Wood at NECON last month. We’ve been friends for a few years, but only recently met in person, and he invited me to submit something to his podcast. He’d just read THE SMILE FACTORY and I offered to read my story, “Human Resources.”

Episode #79 just went live, featuring my reading, along with several other cool stories. Check it out here.


I suppose the few of you who keep an eye on this thing have been wondering where I am. I admit a lot has happened in the last month or so, most of it on the personal side of things, and I’m not ready to talk about it yet. Erica and I just returned from Kentucky for a funeral, and I spent most of the time reflecting on things, my current state of mental health, what’s coming up in the near future, and how I intend to face it.

But before you ask–yeah, I’m okay. I wasn’t, but I’m getting there. That’s all I can say right now.


I’ll have some news on the writing front, hopefully soon. I can’t say anything publicly yet. It’s kind of a huge deal to me and I’m incredibly excited about it.

On the publishing front, the paperback edition of Anthony Rapino’s collection, GREETINGS FROM MOON HILL, will drop at the end of September. And I’m also busy putting the finishing touches on a pet project of mine which I unveiled a couple weeks ago on social media: A new paperback edition of THE KING IN YELLOW by Robert W. Chambers, with a new introduction by Joe Pulver and illustrations by Luke Spooner.

More details to follow on everything, in time.

Until then,

TK

A Pre-NECON Reminder…

It’s about 8 AM, which means I’ve been on the road for (hopefully) an hour already. I meant to get this out earlier in the month, but life got in the way. So…

NECON is this week (YAY!), which means THE SMILE FACTORY will formally debut on Friday evening at the Meet the Authors event (DOUBLE YAY!). Informally, however, you can probably order a copy now on Amazon if you can’t make it to the conference or if you were unable to pre-order a signed copy last month. Speaking of pre-orders, they’re all packaged and ready for mailing next Monday when I return from Rhode Island (probably with a hangover).

I’ll have more detailed news soon (Final Rec in paperback (!), Moon Hill in paperback (!!!), another unannounced Precipice paperback project(???)). In the meantime, be good to each other, and try not to burn the place down while I’m gone.

See you soon,

TK

 

 

The Long Dance Podcast

A couple of years ago, during one of the many Geeky Writers broadcasts, my good friend Eryk Pruitt mentioned a local cold case he’d been researching. He’d mention it every time we spoke–new evidence, meeting with the victims’ families, discussing case details with the local police–and over time I began to see my friend’s passion for not just researching this particularly dark part of North Carolina history, but for bringing justice to the victims and their families after nearly 50 years.

After two years of long drives and sleepless nights, the fruit of Eryk’s labors have been unveiled: an eight-episode podcast titled THE LONG DANCE.

From the website:

On February 12, 1971, in Durham, North Carolina, a 20-year-old nursing student and her 19-year-old boyfriend left a Valentine’s Dance to park down a secluded lover’s lane. They never returned. Two weeks later, their bodies were found deep within the Carolina pines. They had been strangled, tortured, and murdered. Their murders have never been solved.

THE LONG DANCE is the story of the lives touched by the murders of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane. Produced by crime fiction author Eryk Pruitt, investigative reporter Drew Adamek, and sound engineer Piper Kessler, it uses recorded interviews to tell the tragic tale of North Carolina’s most baffling murder case.

In creating THE LONG DANCE, we had a very simple goal: To create the substantive record about the lives and deaths of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane, as well as the forty-six year investigation into their murder, and the stories of those people touched by their deaths.

Not only were we fortunate enough to record several hundreds of hours of interviews with our subjects, but we also became active participants in the investigation by helping to secure the DNA profiles of the three suspects who had never been eliminated. We have partnered with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office who believes this may be the final chance to close the book on the forty-six year old murder case.

THE LONG DANCE is the result of Eryk’s journey, because it became more than just research to him, more than just an investigation. This was his journey into the heart of a crime writer’s true passion and, dare I say, true purpose: to shed light on the vermin who prey in the shadows so that they may not hide.

If you’re at all interested in true crime, I urge you to listen to the eight episodes of this podcast. Share with your friends. Throw some support to my friend Eryk and his team. They’ve more than earned it.

Click here for THE LONG DANCE website, where all eight episodes are available. The podcast is also available for free on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google, and wherever else you get your podcast fix.

TK