Ye Olde Razzle Dazzle

20181020_115634

 

We value entertainment more than anything else in this crazy world, don’t we? Can there be any doubt when musicians, comedians, and sports figures earn ten times as much as learned scientists, teachers, ordained ministers and doctors?
Or when entertainers are elected Presidents of the United States?
Best-selling authors on a keynote panel with me at Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis asked me to name which of my stories and novels I considered most entertaining. I had to think hard to name even one. I’ve never thought of myself as an entertainer. I write cautionary tales intended to help people survive when their worst nightmares prove real. I want my stories to be fascinating, not necessarily entertaining.


My friends on the panel write wonderfully entertaining tales, often with an undercurrent of humor, to help people escape reality.


That’s why they’re best-selling authors and I’m not.


I must admit I do enjoy their writing, even appreciate their humor. I buy all their books.
Highlights of that conference included dog and pony shows, including a bastardized version of Hollywood Squares and deliberately humorous interviews with Guests of Honor. I’ve witnessed similar humorous interviews at Thrillerfest. They’re pure entertainment and lots of fun. They attract huge crowds.


They take our minds off more serious pursuits and help us pass the time. They’re always better attended than any of the panels. I go to as many as I can. Sometimes, I even laugh at the brilliant performances.


Granted, I’m generally much too serious for my own good. My daughter claims I often sound like a professor giving a lecture. I need to loosen up a little, clown around some.
Except I hate clowns. Clowns have orange hair and are pure evil.


In any murder mystery that includes a butler and a clown, I know from the very beginning which is the culprit.


Yet we humans are attracted by razzle-dazzle like bears to honey. We love to be entertained.


We barely notice when we’re badly stung by bees.

 

 

 

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When I was a Witch

 

 

what october brings

 

Among the many reasons I became a board-certified hypnotist, hypnosis instructor, and past-life regression therapist, was a life-long fascination with witches.

I’d always suspected that my grandmother had been a witch, my aunt had been a witch, and my wife was a witch. It wasn’t until I experienced past-life regression that I recalled I, too, had once upon a time been a witch.

Writers, like witches, live most of their creative lives in altered states. We walk between multiple worlds. We bend and shape reality with our imaginations. There is nothing we cannot do when we set our minds to it.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourselves, “Men can’t be witches. Women are witches. Men are wizards or warlocks or alchemists. How dare you call yourself a witch?”

What you learn when you recall past lives is that all men were women at least once. And all women were men at least once. We all possess both animus and anima, as Carl Jung correctly postulated, although the archetypes of the collective unconscious manifest primarily in dream states.

When I was a witch, I was burned at the stake because I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t often tell people I’m a witch. You see, who and what we are never dies. We are reincarnated in different bodies and in different places and times, but who we really are never changes.

I’m still a witch at heart. And I’m afraid of being burned.

Witches can transform themselves. We can become cats or dogs, wolves or bats. We can be male or female, good or evil or anything in-between. We can hide in shadows or live in the light.

Most of the time, unfortunately, we forget who we are and become what others expect of us.

Each year, at the precise moment brisk October transitions into frigid November and the veils between worlds temporarily part, we’re able to remember who and what we really are without the help of a certified past-life regression therapist. We can recall essential parts of each of our past lives, how events shaped who we are today. Nightmares become dreams peopled with recurrent images of magical beings we recognize as friends and lovers or previous selves long gone.

It is then that we may remove everyday costumes and masks, don the robes of wisdom to parade around in public without fear of being hanged or burned at the stake, and reveal who we really are.

It is only during the rest of the year that we must hide even from ourselves.

I’m a witch. If you believe in magic, you’re a witch, too. It makes no difference if you’re male, female, human or inhuman. Take my word for it, you can be all of those things.

You are all of those things.

What will you reveal about yourself this Halloween? Who are you, really?

I’m a witch. I’m William Butler Yeats’ small slate-colored thing!

 

New stories for Halloween 2018

Halloween_300w 2018

Available now from Celaeno Press

What October Brings: A Lovecraftian Celebration of Halloween

Edited and with an introduction by Doug Draa

Includes my short story “That Small, Furry, Sharp-toothed Thing”.

 

It’s time for me to begin my annual Halloween marketing blitz. I’ve previously Vaguebooked about three dynamite short stories contracted to come out this fall in horror anthologies, and I’ve since received corrected page proofs to send out as ARCs and revealed cover images on FB. I’ll post complete details shortly.

I’m also confirmed to do panels, readings, and autographings at Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis, October 19 and 20; World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore, November 1-4; and Windycon in Lombard,IL, November 9-11. The only other convention I’ve scheduled is Stokercon 2019 in Grand Rapids, MI, May 9-12, 2019. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

I intend to curtail my public appearances next year to concentrate on writing new novels. I have three successful series in print and a fourth series coming out next year. I plan to continue those storylines, and I have new Winds novels coming out early in 2019.

 

Ghosts of Lost Dreams, Lost Innocence, and Lost Loves

plague of shadows

 

Plague of Shadows: A Written Remains Anthology, edited by J. M. Reinbold and Weldon Burge (Smart Rhino Publications, Fall 2018) is the kind of book writers and readers need. Writers need it because it showcases their work and readers because it offers fresh perspectives on complex subjects.

Plague of Shadows is a theme anthology about ghosts, featuring original stories and poems by the Written Remains Writers Guild, plus a handful of reprints from well-known invited authors.

Starving Time by Jane Miller
Bark of the Dog-Faced Girl by Maria Masington
McMurdo Sound by Billie Sue Mosiman (reprint)
For Number 11 by Carson Buckingham
Powder Burns by J. Gregory Smith
The Bottom of the Hour by Phil Giunta
Neighbors from Hell by Graham Masterton (reprint)
Finding Resolution by Patrick Derrickson
The Fierce Stabbing and Subsequent Post-Death Vengeance of Scooter Brown by Jeff Strand (reprint)
On the House by Jacob Jones-Goldstein
No Good Deed by Gail Husch
Haunting the Past by Jasper Bark (reprint)
To Heart’s Content by Shannon Connor Winward
Twelve Steps by Jeff Markowitz (reprint)
Song of the Shark God by JM Reinbold
Dollhouse by Jennifer Loring
The Black Dog of Cabra by Patrick Conlon
The Angel’s Grave by Chantal Nordeloos (reprint)
Vindictive by Weldon Burge
A Hanger in the World of Dance by Stephanie M. Wytovich

 
Not surprising, two of the best original stories are by the editors: “Song of the Shark God” by JM Reinbbold and “Vindicative” by Weldon Burge. Others that  will haunt you are “Bark of the Dog-Faced Girl” by Maria Masington , a marvelous tale about adolescent angst; “For Number 11”, an ambitious tale that mixes history with the supernatural; and “Bottom of the Hour”, an interesting twist on “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

 
My favorite story is “Finding Resolution” by Patrick Derrickson. It’s more science fiction than pure horror, even if the spacecraft does have a ghost. But not only is it very well-written, the inevitable ending is so fulfilling and satisfying it brought tears to my eyes. Kind of the way Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” did when I first read it more than half-a-century ago.

 
“To Heart’s Content” by Shannon Connor Winward is my second favorite story in this anthology. It’s  an apocalyptic tale of a lost innocence and a lost love haunting a handful of survivors.

For Family, Friends, and Visions Past and Future

 

 

My heroes have always been smokers: William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler, my grandfather Charlie, my father Paul Anders Anderson, and my uncle Bill. All are dead now. They died a long time ago.

Jack Ketchum and Harlan Ellison, two of the wonderful writer friends I’ve always counted on to join me in the “smoking room” at sf and fantasy cons, died recently. In the “good” old days, of course, one was allowed to smoke inside a room at the con suite and throughout areas of the convention hotel, including sleeping rooms. Those days are gone.

These days, fortunately for non-smokers, those of us with dangerous visions must venture away from the convention itself to feed what is considered our “filthy” and dangerous habits in isolation. Hell, I can remember when reading sf and fantasy was a filthy and dangerous habit, and writing it was the most dangerous habit of all, attested to by the fact that many of us breathed smoke like dragons.

Back in 1966, I wrote an sf tale titled “The Last Wooden Indian” that related the coming-of-age story of a young Native American’s vision quest for the healing herb of his ancestors at a time in the future when “the only good indian is a dead indian” and the herb of the peace pipe is outlawed under penalty of death. I expanded that story into my novel Sidewinder, which saw print under my Dale Anders pseudonym.

Like “The Dead Bard Said”, a story Dale Anders penned in the 60s about a future when books exist only in digital format which can be globally modified for political correctness, the future is now reality.

I smoke this bowl of pipe tobacco in memory of William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler, and Harlan Ellison.

 

 

 

4 Outstanding Stories in Dark Screams 9

Dark Screams 9

 

Dark Screams: Volume Nine edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar (Hydra, January 2018) includes three new stories and three stories originally published in Cemetery Dance Magazine. Since the editors of Cemetery Dance edit this anthology series, it’s easy to see how they’re able to put out dozens of anthologies in just a few years and edit a magazine, too. They have twenty-five years of reprints to choose from and only need to add three new tales to create an anthology.

There are four outstanding stories in this anthology.

Best of the bunch is “Torn” by Lee Thomas. Although it’s a reprint from 2012, it has a great plot embellished with all of the tricks of the storyteller’s art: fully-developed characters, multiple mysteries to solve, dire time constraints, apt metaphors, and believable personal conflicts between husband and wife, neighbors, and first responders. It’s the longest story in the book, and it’s an almost perfect story of human compulsion and how compulsion can tear a person apart. Sheriff Bill Cranston fights monsters to save his family and his town, and the monsters are a lot different than anyone expects.

Almost as strong but not as long, “The Blackout” by Jonathan Moore is an original supernatural revenge tale that reads like a police procedural. Detective Nakamura investigates the disappearance of a girl’s corpse during a storm that’s blacked out electrical power in Hawaii and finds more in the dark than he bargained for.

“The Dead Years” by Taylor Grant is a haunting tale of a modern-day Helen of Troy and the price of beauty. It’s also original to this anthology.

“Invitation to the Game” by Kelley Armstrong is well-written and suspenseful with a couple of nice twists. It’s also original.

“Summer of ‘77” by Stewart O’Nan and “Variations on a Theme from Seinfeld” by Peter Straub, both reprints from 2009, were competent but disappointing.

The four outstanding tales make Dark Screams: Volume Nine worth the price. Consider the other two stories an added bonus. Highly recommended.

 

What’s in a Name?

“Paul Dale Anders…son,” the women sang. They broke my name up into two stanzas of two syllables each, placing the emphasis on the second syllable.

“Paul Dale,” they sang. “Anders Son. Paul Dale. Anders son. Paul Dale. Anders son.”

It became a magical chant. So rhythmic. So hypnotic. So simple.

Louisa and Virginia were my two partners in crime on the Faking it in Fandom panel at Windycon, the Chicago-area science fiction and fantasy convention November 10-12 in Lombard, Illinois.

It turns out they were also heads of the programming committee who made panel assignments. When they came across my name, they didn’t know what to do with it.

It was much too long to fit on name placards.

So they shortened it to Paul Anderson.

And it became simply P. Anderson in places on the printed program.

Anyway, they sang my name. They claimed my name was musical, and they really made it sound like music.

Paul Dale. Anders Son. Paul Dale. Anders Son.

One of the reasons I used to use pen names was the unwieldy length of my full name. I also needed to include Dale to differentiate myself from authors like Poul Anderson and Paul Michael Anderson. That made my name too long to fit easily on book covers or spines and on convention badges and placards.

And one of the reasons I’m not better known in the sf community is because my name often gets truncated on programs, name badges and placards.

“You’re who?” people ask.

“Paul Dale Anderson.”

“Never heard of you.”

“Try singing it. Break it down into syllables so you’ll remember.”

Paul Dale. Anders Son.

My father was Paul Anders Anderson, and I really am Paul Anders’ son.

I lived the first twelve years of my life as Dale Anderson. My parents, relatives, and friends all called me Dale to differentiate me from my dad. Some of my friends still call me Dale.

Because editors found it difficult to include my full name on book and magazine covers, you can find some of my novels with only Paul Anderson on the spine. I used Dale Anders as a pen name for a while. It proved useful for contemporary romances and erotica. My first story in The Horror Show bore the Dale Anderson by-line.

But I prefer to use my full birth name for fantasy and horror.

Maybe Paul Dale Anderson doesn’t sound as scary as Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Try punctuating it. Paul Dale. Anders Son. Yeah.

That’s scary.