In Memoriam

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Last week, the world lost a truly special soul.

I had the good fortune to have Brenda in my life for fourteen years. My only regret is that we didn’t become such good friends sooner than we did. She had the biggest heart, and I am so very honored to be able to call her a friend.

Her funeral was this past Tuesday, and there were so many things I wanted to say – things I wanted to tell her family – but I couldn’t do it. Just the thought of voicing everything in my head and heart brought me to tears. It’s hard to express in words how much I love her and how much I’m going to miss her.

I’m also not much for eulogizing. But these are things that need to be said. So bear with me. I’ll try not to be too long-winded.

*

The first thing I was told when I came to work here was simple: “Don’t trust Brenda.”

But nobody could tell me why. I was young, and at the time we had split factions around here. It was kind of a warzone and I was stuck in the middle, everyone hanging around to see which way I’d fall.

I don’t play those games.

Over the years, Brenda and I became friends. Tentative at first, but friendly toward one another. Most of our conversation was superficial, and then one day we had a real conversation. You know, one of those conversations where you really get to see who someone is.

Then one day not long after that, we were good friends. Somewhere in those light conversations about movies and comic books and music, that trust grew. It happened without my knowledge

One afternoon I took her home – this was before I became her regular ride – and we got into a really heavy discussion. I don’t remember what the context was exactly, but it had to do with some racial issue. I made a comment about fair being fair regardless of what someone looked like or what they believed. Brenda just looked at me, and after a minute she said, “You really believe that, don’t you?”

Something changed that day, and shortly thereafter I stopped thinking about her as a coworker, or even a friend. She became family. She and my mother grew into a very tight friendship. She gave my mother the unconditional love she never had from someone outside our family, and though they only had a couple of years together, I’m thankful for that time.

She had this light about her. You always knew exactly where you stood, but even when she was telling you to get the hell out of her office, she was doing it with a smile. She made everyone’s day better just by being in it.

As it turns out, over the years I found she was one of the very few people up here I could trust, and I did so implicitly. She was my rock at work, a beautiful friend with a big heart and a lot of love to give. It never mattered what was going on with her; she always wanted to know what was wrong with us. She took care of us.

I tried to take care of her. As I write this, I feel like such a failure because she’s gone. I know, logically, there’s nothing I can do for a massive heart attack. But I tried. I wanted her to be here so much longer.

I can never remember a time when Brenda wasn’t here. She’s always been a quiet constant in the next office. She had a true passion for her job, and she loved this place. It’ll definitely be an adjustment, and one I’m not looking forward to.

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Rethinking the Thinking

So I tried to mothball this thing awhile back and if we’re perfectly honest, it didn’t work. I have too many thinks and logging into the website is too exhaustive a process. That means I’m just going to start talking here again.

I know…you missed me and you’re thrilled. Right?

The End of an Era

Hey, y’all…

So you know how sometimes people hit a wall? I’ve done that. For the last six years, I’ve been moonlighting as two different people, not that any of you weren’t already aware of that.

The problem with that, however, is that I’m splitting my attention too many different ways, and it’s not healthy, and I’m not getting anywhere. So that having been said… I’ve made a decision. I’m going to consolidate my efforts. Siobhan and I have come to an agreement that we can’t take away from each other anymore. We have to go back to being the same person before it kills us.

This will, at least for the time being, be the last post to this blog. Everything is migrating to my website at www.SHRoddey.com as we speak. This blog will remain, as there’s lots of good stuff here. It’s also being copied to the website so I can keep everything in one place.

Thank you all for being part of this experiment, and please drop in at the website from time to time.

 

In the Shadow of Death: A #HoldOntoTheLight Post

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Last year, I told a very painful story, one I wish for the whole world to read, then read again. It’s hard, so please forgive me if this post carries all the tact and diplomacy of a sledgehammer through a plate-glass window.

I’m still hurt, still angry. Still seeking vengeance. Still praying that by shoving Angie’s story down the throats of anyone who will listen, her tragedy might open some eyes…might save someone else’s life.

AngieOn November 6, 2014, I lost a good friend to domestic violence. She died sixty feet from where I stood, face-down in a parking lot, four bullets neatly in the back of her head at the hand of her estranged husband. This was the climax to a three-week long horror story wherein he burned their house down, tried to turn their children against her, stalked her, tormented her, stalked me trying to get to her, and then blamed her when his sorry ass lost his job for not showing up to work. Then the son of a bitch turned the .45 and put it in his mouth before any of us had a chance to see him properly punished.

I know what you’re thinking.  You want to know why I’m being so selfish and conceited, right? Why I think my thoughts and opinions should matter.

Simple. Because I’m still here. And because I hurt, goddamn it. I LOST SOMEONE I LOVE.

I miss her.
I love her.
I’m lost without her.

But I’m not the only one. Angie left behind two sons – two handsome, well-mannered, intelligent young men who are now orphans. They’ve been left to fend for themselves at the mercy of their father’s family…the same family who has tried desperately to canonize the murderer they call son and brother. And you know what? I understand that. I can accept their need to rationalize his behavior…because you never want to admit someone is capable of cold-blooded murder. It’s hard for them.

But it’s also partially his family’s fault. With multiple family members in law enforcement, he used bullying tactics to keep Angie at bay. Her attempts at a protective order were blocked. He was a good guy, just ’cause he was someone’s brother in the department.

That, my friends, is a disgusting misuse of authority. I blame his family for her death as much as I do him. They could have stopped him, but they enabled his behavior, enabled his abuse. Because they didn’t want to see him as something capable of unspeakable evil.

But back to those boys – they’re both adults now. Thankfully, despite the trauma of their loss, they’re okay. One is in the military and the other is making a good life for himself out of college. I still think about them, still worry about them all the time. I want to be there for them since she can’t be…it’s the least I can do.

So the point I’m trying to make here… Domestic Violence hurts more than just the victim. It hurts everyone involved. Angie left behind two beautiful children. Her mother and brother – estranged from her or not – were devastated by her death. All of her friends, our coworkers…everyone that knew her. We all still hurt. There are still days, even two years later, where I pick up the phone to call or text her, but then I remember she isn’t there. Her number is still in my phone, no doubt passed on to someone else by now. I have a recording from a commission meeting that took place about two weeks before she died where she filled in for me. I still listen to it from time to time just to hear her voice. As long as I can hear her voice, she’ll still live on in my memory. I wouldn’t trade that ten-second soundbite for the world.

You would think after two years, the tears would have mostly stopped by now. But they don’t. They keep coming. It’s hard to see the screen as I write this because my vision has blurred almost to the point of blindness.

In closing, I ask this of anyone living in an abusive situation: Take Angie’s story to heart. GET HELP. Get away. Go to the police. A shelter. A friend. Just leave and don’t look back. Have children? Take them with you. Save their lives and yours. It’s okay to be afraid. But the longer you stay, the harder it is to cut those strings.

He only hit me once, but he apologized. That’s how it starts. It ALWAYS escalates. By the time you’ve had enough, you’ll be well on your way to dead. I don’t want you dead. I probably don’t know you, but I’m here for you. I’m in your corner.

He’s connected to the law. SO? Report his ass anyway. Then go to a neighboring jurisdiction and report him again. Then go to a shelter and get a lawyer.

He’ll try to kill me if I leave. Possibly, but he WILL kill you if you stay. Shelters and counselors are equipped to handle this kind of situation.

Angie left and she died anyway. And let me tell you why… Our staff panicked when he showed up. She went outside to keep him from killing all of us in the office. She protected us. She sacrificed herslf to save us because she knew he wouldn’t stop until one of them was dead. Her situation escalated to an unstoppable conclusion. Yours doesn’t have to.

Don’t stay. Leave while there’s a chance. Tomorrow might be too late.


there is a way out

SC S.T.O.P. Domestic Abuse Program

Rock Hill Area Safe Passage

Safe Harbor Domestic Abuse Center

About the Campaign

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

The King is Dead. Long Live the King

At 3:30 this morning, I dared to go on the internet for the first time in a week, and I cried.

I cried for the loss of a man I’d never met, yet feel like I’ve known my whole life. I’ve never in my life cried over the death of a celebrity, but this morning I couldn’t stop myself. When I saw the news of David Bowie’s passing, I immediately took to the Google, praying it was yet another horrid hoax. I wanted to believe it was, then more and more news sites began reporting it and I knew it was real. And my heart shattered.

Like many of my friends, the man had a huge impact on my life. From my first coherent experience with Bowie as the Goblin King all the way through to Blackstar, the man has been one of the few constants in my musical and emotional education. His voice, antics, and showmanship have been a beacon, not only to me but to all the other weirdos like me. Ziggy Stardust made it okay to be different. His songs gave us permission to push the envelope.

In short, without him, I wouldn’t be me because I very likely wouldn’t know I was allowed to.

It appears nobody knew of his illness…and I suspect that was by design. God knows if it were me, I wouldn’t want the entire world on death watch. While it came as a great shock, I suppose it was for the best. This morning is the first time in years (literally years) where my Facebook feed has been nothing but an outpouring of love and support. It’s the first time in a long time I wasn’t inundated by hatred and bigotry. That fact did little to ease the pain my chest.

On July 28, 2002, a carload of us headed up to Manassas, VA for the Area2 festival with the sole purpose of witnessing the spectacle that was David Bowie. It’s the closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had… it was magical, the culmination of so many years of searching and questioning. Watching him made all the pieces fall into place, and it happened with some of my best friends by my side.

Now, for the first time in a long time, I don’t know how to process what I’m feeling. Grief, certainly. But this deeply profound sense of loss… I thought this was meant to be saved for family and close friends. But then again, he’s about the closest friend I’ve ever had even though we never met. He brought me friends, was by my side as I lost others, and has always had just the right words for whatever situations I faced.

This makes no sense, I know. Grief and loss don’t make sense. They aren’t supposed to.

The words aren’t there, but my love is.

A Bloody Valentine: D.J. Tyrer

Here’s an evening treat for you all! D.J. Tyrer, also of State of Horror fame, has given us a bit o’ flash fiction to enjoy!

ULULATION

By DJ Tyrer

 “Whenever the cry of the banshee is heard,” Malcolm had said, “one of the clan is doomed to die.”

Duncan had laughed at the superstition. His kin here in the old country were an odd lot. At least, that’s what he’d thought until he heard the shriek of the banshee, a high-pitched ululation.

All of a sudden, Duncan really wished he hadn’t taken the late-night stroll along the cliff-top path.

The ululation came again, closer now. Fearfully, he glanced over his shoulder and thought he saw a white, vaporous figure further along the path. The banshee, the harbinger of death for his clan, was close behind him.

Duncan picked up his pace, then began to run, desperate to escape.

The cry came yet again, and he ran heedlessly through the darkness. Suddenly, there was nothing underfoot. For a moment, Duncan felt himself fly, weightless, through the darkness, then he was falling, plunging down to the jagged rocks and sea below, the ululating scream of the banshee echoing in his ears.


THE STATE OF HORROR SERIES

Edited by Jerry E. Benns
From Charon Coin Press

D.J. Tyrer is featured in State of Horror: Illinois.

State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror: North Carolina
State of Horror: Illinois State of Horror: New Jersey State of Horror North Carolina
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Week O’ Releases: A Chimerical World

Day three brings you a two-book set! I don’t have a story in either of these, but the publisher is near and dear to me, AND my good friend Alexandra Christian has a story in volume 1. You all know I’m a huge fan of Miss Lexxx anyway, so I’m definitely going to hand you this one on a tray. Check ’em out!

A Chimerical World - Seelie Court

The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the first volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Seelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the “good” faeries. But “good” and “evil” are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us.

Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Seelie Court, from authors both established and new, including George S. Walker, Eric Garrison, and Alexandra Christian.

But be warned: these faeries are nothing like Tinker Bell.

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A Chimerical World - Unseelie Court

The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the second volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Unseelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the “evil” faeries. But “good” and “evil” are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us.

Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Unseelie Court, from authors both established and new, including Michael Shimek, Deedee Davies, and Nick Bryan.

But don’t be surprised if these faeries decide to play with their food.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

TCM Presents: Vampires Don’t Sparkle!

TCM Anthology Extravaganza Tour Badge

Evenin’, Creeps… it’s a late-night stretch on this one, but I have a wonderful treat for all of you! With me tonight is the wildly talented and amazingly awesome Michael West, editor for Seventh Star Press’ Vampires Don’t Sparkle anthology. I stuck him in the hot seat to play 20 Questions with me. Check him out, then be sure to check out this ultra-awesome anthology!

MIchael West

20 Questions With Michael West

Tell us a bit about yourself: 

I am the critically-acclaimed author of Skull Full of Kisses, The Wide Game, Cinema of Shadows, Spook House, and The Legacy of the Gods series.  I live and work in the Indianapolis area with my wife, our two children, our bird, Rodan, our turtle, Gamera, and our dog, King Seesar.

How long have you been writing?

I’d been writing scripts since I saw Star Wars in the first grade. Growing up, I had dreams of being the next Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, making movies with my parents’ video camera in the back yard, films with a lot of imagination and very little money. And when my imagination finally outgrew those budgets, I turned to writing prose. It took time before I really liked my own stories, however. I can’t even read the stuff I wrote early on without cringing. Awkward, clumsy, and the dialog…don’t even get me started on the dialog. It’s always been difficult for me to craft believable dialog. I can write what a character is thinking, feeling, or doing all day long with no problem, but once they open their mouths…my progress slows to a crawl. That’s become easier over time, but it’s still something I struggle with. My advice to beginning writers is to read your work out loud. If you can’t say it without tripping over your own tongue, something needs to change.

Favorite author?

Oh my, so many. Growing up in the eighties, I read everything Stephen King and Clive Barker put out. I’ve always loved the writings of Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, and Rod Serling. Now, I get inspiration from contemporary authors such as Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzales, and Tim Lebbon, but Gary A. Braunbeck is one of the authors I admire most. He brings this emotional reality to his fiction that is simply amazing. His work elevates the entire genre, and I was so thrilled that he was able to write the introduction to my short story collection, Skull Full of Kisses, so honored and humbled by what he had to say.

Favorite book?

Stephen King’s The Stand

Favorite movie?

Citizen Kane

What’s worse for you: a bad reader review, or a bad review from a fellow author?

A bad reader review is far worse.  I write for myself, certainly, but I also write for all my faithful readers.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear that they enjoy my novels and stories, and I always hate to hear that someone had a negative experience.  Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often.

Any awards we should know about?

My short story “Goodnight,” published in Wicked Karnival 6, was named Best Horror Short Story of 2005 in the P&E Readers’ Poll.

Tell us about this book and how we can get it:

You can get Vampires Don’t Sparkle! through my publisher, Seventh Star Press, or through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com

What’s the story behind this anthology?

I had grown tired of seeing the vampire, this fearsome creature of the night, turned into some brooding, misunderstood romantic lead.  I thought it was time that someone brought back the animalistic, feral vampire in all his glory.  Then, as I was putting the anthology together, my dear friend and fellow author Sara Larson became ill with a rare form of breast cancer.  After several years of fighting the disease, it finally claimed her life.  A few months after that, my own wife was diagnosed with cancer, and it became very important to me that we use this anthology to raise money to fight cancer in all its forms.

How many genres do you write in?  Which is your favorite? 

I write dark Sci-fi, Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Horror.  Horror has always been my first love.

Do you prefer to scare your audience with a subtle build of terror or a big monster-behind-the-door reveal?

I like the subtle build of terror.  That’s what I’m aiming for: nightmarish and psychologically disturbing, or just plain creepy. Nothing wrong with creepy. Creepy can make it so that you don’t feel safe in the room. I love it when my faithful readers tell me they had to sleep with the lights on after reading my stuff. That just makes my day.

Are the blood and guts necessary? Why or why not?

Well, I’m certainly not afraid to hack and slash. I think a certain amount of blood is needed and expected when it comes to Horror fiction or films. But if you have characters who bleed like a lawn sprinklers, more than the body can physically produce, it just becomes laughable.

How do you go about researching your stories?

It depends on the story.  Some of my research is done online, some of it is done by talking to people who have the same jobs or life experiences as the characters, and some of it is from personal observations or experiences.  For example: I went on several ghost investigations, doing research for my novel Cinema of Shadows, and I did have an experience or two. I was in what they called “the demon closet” in the old Woodcarvers building in Converse, Indiana, and witnessed a hanging light moving like a pendulum when there was no breeze or any reason for it to be moving. I asked questions, and received spikes on an EMF meter in reply. I also spent the night there and woke up to hear people arguing in the hallway outside my room, but there was nobody there. Very creepy place! I never felt alone there. It always felt as if I were being watched.

What comes first, the plot, the characters, or the setting?

It depends on the project.  Sometimes a cool setting comes to mind, sometimes a neat plot idea, but for me, good, believable characters are the most important element of Horror, be it a novel or a film. When you really care about the people in a story, you get lost in the narrative and you feel things on a very visceral level. That’s the type of connection I strive for in my own writing. I want readers to feel like they know these people. I want the bloodshed to matter.

When you write, is it with or without visual/audio stimulation (tv, music, etc.)?

I write to music.  Usually it is film scores, but sometimes it is eighties music or goth rock tunes.

As an author, what’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the next book in my Legacy of the Gods series, Hades’ Disciples, which I hope to have out in the fall.

What’s the weather like where you are today?

There was just a thunderstorm, actually.

Best monster ever: vampire, werewolf, or zombie?

Well, I love them all, but since I just edited Vampires Don’t Sparkle!, I’m going to go with vampire.

If the apocalypse happened tomorrow, how would you react?

I would get my family someplace safe.  It would depend on the nature of the apocalypse, but I’ve always fancied myself living on a deserted island somewhere.

Be honest…which are better: Boxers or Briefs?

Boxers.  Silk boxers.

***

Thank you, first and foremost, to Michael West for being one of my favorite victims! Last but not least, every vampire aficionado should definitely pick this one up.

 

Vampires Don’t Sparkle! (editor Michael West)

VampiresDontSparkle-CoverWhat would you do if you had unlimited power and eternal life?

Would you…go back to high school? Attend the same classes year after year, going through the pomp and circumstance of one graduation after another, until you found the perfect date to take to prom? Would you…spend your days moping and brooding, finding your only joy in a game of baseball on a stormy day? Or would you…do something else? Anything else?

The authors of this collection have a few ideas; some fanciful, some humorous, and some as dark as an endless night. Join us, and discover what it truly means to be “vampyre.”
Edited by Michael West
Foreword by Michael West

Includes:

“A New Life” by J. F. Gonzalez
“What Once was Flesh” by Tim Waggoner
“The Darkton Circus Mystery” by Elizabeth Massie
“Robot Vampire” by R. J. Sullivan
“Beneath a Templar Cross” by Gord Rollo
“The Weapon of Memory” by Kyle S. Johnson
“The Excavation” by Stephen Zimmer
“Skraeling” by Joel A. Sutherland
“Dreams of Winter” by Bob Freeman
“Dracula’s Winkee: Bloodsucker Blues” by Gregory L. Hall
“I Fuck Your Sunshine” by Lucy A. Snyder
“A Soldier’s Story” by Maurice Broaddus
“Rattenkönig
” by Douglas F. Warrick
“Vampire Nation” by Jerry Gordon
“Curtain Call” by Gary A. Braunbeck