2015 Octobers Frights Blog Hop

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For the 2015 October Frights Blog Hop, we have a guest post from Dim Shores publisher Sam Cowan, and a book giveaway

Guest Post:


A couple of years ago I was reading manuscripts for a small publisher and came across this one from S.C. Hayden. Then titled American Idol, now Kill Your Idols, and before I was half-way through the book I recommended that we publish it. It was that good.

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Here's my review of S.C. Hayden's Kill Your Idols:

OK, I really liked this book. It is one of the more unconventional and straight-up fun, and often funny, books I've read in a while, bristling with irreverence - literally, as Hayden mocks every major religion I can think of and goes after the very notion of organized religion itself. American Idol tells the story of two friends and a sister who revive the practice of idolatry, not because they believe in it as a spiritual system, but purely for profit (and maybe a little provocation too). This simple premise sets the stage for commentary on many aspects of our modern culture, primarily faith and commerce. And Hayden certainly has a lot to say.

A few surprising plot twists really change the tenor of the story as it unfolds. The general mood ranges from hilariously anarchic tweaking of values and beliefs to more somber and emotional passages, before arriving at a decidedly surreal climax. Hayden starts many chapters with quotes from religious texts like The Bible and The Koran, as well as relevant quotes from folks as diverse as L. Ron Hubbard, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits. A number of the quotes had me thinking they must surely be a joke, but every time I Googled them, I found they were authentic. Wow.

Hayden has a laid-back and conversational writing style that is well-suited to the story and its multiple digressions. At times I was reminded of the great The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Faith, loyalty, synchronicities, and strange numerology as well as shifting perspectives and voices figure into both works. American Idol isn't nearly as Byzantine or completely over the top as Illuminatus!, but the parallels are there, I think.

I was going to say that this is not a book for the easily offended, but I see that most other reviews have that covered. Hayden's targets of parody and scorn are many, and odds are you or someone you love falls into at least one of the many groups within his sights. Hopefully you can take a joke, because this is a book worth reading. There is a great deal of interesting ideas and thought-provoking commentary to be found in these pages, along with an enjoyable and engrossing plot involving well-written characters. A book that can't really be pigeon-holed in a distinct genre, American Idol should appeal to anyone with a sense of humor, an open mind, and an interest in the absurdities of modern American culture.

Sam Cowan - Enthusiast of the weird and publisher,
Dim Shores

GIVEAWAY


So not only is this new edition now available, you can also enter to win a copy through the Big A (You need a US shipping address and an amazon account).

Just Click
HERE to see if you won!

Navigate back to the blog hop
HERE

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Two-Headed Dog

Well, the "Story of the Month" turned out to be a lot less than monthly. That's not for lack of good submissions, rather it's a lack of time on my part.

So, I'm renaming the segment, "Guest Fiction Spotlight."

The first story to kick off the new venture is titled "Two-Headed Dog" and was submitted by, Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois.

Two-Headed Dog


Day One/ Dear God, let everything broken be unbroken

Main Street becomes a highway as it leaves town east and west, but we don’t think of grounds privileges as an escape risk. Only a shard of patients have the nerve.


Tiffany: The roadway is not asphalt
but the bodies of Doberman Pinschers Sometimes they come back to life

Still, an urge to swim in her father’s pool, or breasts desperate for her children, conceived so immaculately they are unborn, or needing violence against her pale skin, she hears a voice: run run run.



Day Two/ Everything is gone


but they demand I get out of bed, brush my snaggle teeth
Can't you hold me, Hank? Close, as if I were beautiful?

After years in the madhouse, I am ubermensch, with x-ray eyes. Under ugliness, I see beauty/ under dysfunction, capability. I see Tiffany—before afflictions’s smear—kneel in sunshine, in rich earth, like Mary Magdalene.



Day Three/ Soggy Collard Greens


The other diners scrutinize me—
When you go pee I panic and throw our food on the floor

Tiffany is nowhere in sight At Highcastle Pharmacy, the counter girl asks: who? I stand in front of the lipstick display and read the names of colors.


You buy me a tube
I shake from medication and you guide my hand

I gaze at her new-colored lips. What if all the barriers—including her illness—suddenly collapsed?



Day 4/ Grunge Band Crash-Pad.


Dax: prison tattoos, ragged hair, pinwheel eyes. Couch-bound, he stares at ceiling. His electric guitar body is on his chest, its neck between his legs. “Wazzup, man?” “Tiffany? Yeah, she’s here. Shaggin’ our new drummer.” My heart soars, and falls to the pit of my stomach. I am ready to vomit with elation.


Dax leads me into a room, a bare, cum-soiled mattress on the floor, crushed PBRs. “Probly went to score. You gonna bust her?”


“She’s an escapee, a chronic schizophrenic.”


“Sign, sign everywhere a sign. Dig, you gotta let people tune their own karma. Can’t just lean in like a shade-tree mechanic, spray ‘em with WD-40, and re-torque their mind.”


“So terror and confusion are Tiffany’s fate, and Death under a freeway?”


“I reckon. Man, I gotta head for the McJob….”


Drowsy, I lie on the couch, cover myself with his Fender. I’m a two-headed dog. I awake in deep dark, and sneeze four times, feel dizzy. Meth in the couch cushions? I stand, grip the guitar—an ax— head for the cum room. No grunge punk is gonna mess with my treatment plan

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Max Krockmalnik Grabois’ poems and fictions have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition.


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Book Review: East End Girls/Only The Thunder Knows

Like many of you, I have enough books lying around to open a library. Books stuffed into overcrowded bookcases, books in drawers, books on tables, and books on top of books.

I'm something of a luddite when it comes to new technologies, I still don't have a smart phone, but some years back I broke down and bought a Kindle. You're welcome, trees.

Ever since then, I've been happily downloading ebooks and saving the planet, but when I learned that Rena Mason, the Bram Stoker Award winning author of
The Evolutionist (reviewed HERE) was going to be part of JournalStone Publishing's DoubleDown book series, I decided to cheat on my Kindle and rekindle (see what I did there?) my love affair with ink paper and glue.

JournalStone's DoubleDown books are modeled after the old Ace's Doubles. Two novellas back to back. The cool part is, both stories read left to right from opposing covers depending on which way you hold the book. When you finish one tale, you flip the book over and start again.

Book 1 of the DoubleDown series is comprised of Gord Rollo's, Only the Thunder Knows. And Rena Mason's, East End Girls.

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Both are works of historical fiction set in the Victorian era. Only the Thunder Knows, is a rollicking tale involving real life villains Billy Burke and William Hare, supernatural villains, and historical artifacts. East End Girls, is a simultaneously horrific and sexy new take on Jack the Ripper.

It's difficult to say which tale I liked better. Each one is great for different reasons but if pressed, I'd give the edge to East End Girls. While Rollo's, Only the Thunder Knows, had a more colorful cast of characters, some of the imagery in Mason's East End Girls, was so powerfully vivid, I could have been watching a movie.

Either way, you can't go wrong.

So, if you are looking for an excuse to unplug this summer and bring the
paper back (see what I did there?), you could do a lot worse than THIS

Five out of five stars.







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Fantasy For Good

Fantasy for Good is a charity anthology that will raise money for the
Colon Cancer Alliance.

The antho comes on the heels of the Bram Stoker nominated charity anthology,
Horror For Good, which was, frankly, one of the best horror anthologies I've had the pleasure of reading (see my review HERE).

Fantasy For Good will feature some of the biggest names in fantasy fiction including, Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin, among others.

And yeah,
I'll be in there too!
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Updates to follow.
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Another Train Ride

The November 2013 Story of the Month was submitted by Paul Beckman.

ANOTHER TRAIN RIDE

By

Paul Beckman

As we approached New Haven Station you walked up towards the front of the car, near my seat, waiting for the train to stop. It moved slowly, in herky-jerky motions. You bent down and looked over my shoulder to see out the window. My wife continued to read, but I turned my head and saw your beautiful young face—you were maybe twenty-one, tops.

I saw the smoothness of your soft brown hair, the color of a cow’s eye, the same color of my Anna’s hair many years ago before it became the gray and white streaked wrapped in a bun hair. Your hair, with its incredible shininess, turned up a bit at the ends to frame a face—a face beautiful enough to be framed.


Our heads were less than a foot apart at times but my Jew Face was invisible to you, or might as well have been. I smelled your girl smell, your Wasp smell, and noticed your hair splayed across your forehead like accent marks. You held on to my armrest as you peered down the tracks. The almost invisible hair on your very white arms caused me to turn and look at my Anna’s arms.


You stood and then bent, once again, leaning over me, poaching on my space as if it were communal. Your presence implied that by looking out the window you could make the train speed up. And each time you did that I stared at you.


You never noticed me, either sitting or staring, as if someone like myself with a Jew Nose much larger and so different from your own perfect little girl’s nose, was not worthy of being noticed. And, there was no possibility that your actions could be misinterpreted for anything other that what they were. They acknowledged my invisibility by suffocating me into my seat.


Those sweet and naturally pink lips, upturned at the ends, had never felt the need or desire to snarl or sneer the way my Jew Mouth had been forced to snarl and sneer back so often in my life. Your beautiful hazel eyes, with long lashes, didn’t notice me noticing you, no matter how long you stayed bent over or how close you came to my Jew Face.


Saying, “Excuse me,” was not tendered to the likes of me. It would be more like me to say it to you as my way of hoping to back you off, to give me my air, but the words remained crammed inside me.


I looked over at Anna again, at her spotted and dark arm and the discoloration right above her hand holding the book, and then I looked at your delicate wrist surrounded by several fine gold bracelets.


I knew you filtered out anything you didn’t perceive to be good and positive and of your world—which to you was one and the same. Other yous, that is all you wanted to see or associate with. That is what you were raised to see—that and nothing other, no matter how close or how many. The homeless and ethnics might just have well been accouterments to buildings, for they were so invisible to you. Yet my Jew Eyes looking through my rimless glasses, resting on my Jew Nose saw those people first.

Finally the train pulled to a stop and I watched as you disappeared into a crowd of your people, not noticing any of my people, of which there were many, swirling around you on the New Haven platform.


Anna patted my hand as if to say, “I was that young and pretty once.”
With my free hand I patted her back, telling her that I knew.
old man on glascow train-flickr

Paul Beckman sells real estate & is an oft published author of short stories, flash & micro fiction. He's had two collections published; several stories adapted as plays and earned his MFA from Bennington College. Some publishing credits: Exquisite Corpse, ONTHEBUS, Connecticut Review, Soundzine, 5 Trope, Playboy, Web del Sol, Long Story Short, Litro, Word Riot. The Vilna Review & The Scruffy Dog Review

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Book Review: The Evolutionist

Book Review:
THE EVOLUTIONIST
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I met Rena Mason at the 2012 World Horror Convention is Salt Lake City. She was friendly, enthusiastic, and an all around great gal. She’d also just had a story published in the charity anthology Horror For Good, which I purchased and read and loved and reviewed HERE.

Naturally, when her debut novel was released, I picked up a copy. Sure, I picked it up because she’s an all around great gal but I also picked it up because “The Eyes Have It” her story in Horror For Good, was really quite excellent. As a general rule, if I like an author’s short fiction, I’ll also like their long fiction. It’s not always true but it’s pretty damn close and in Rena’s case, the rule holds.

The Evolutionist is a tale about an upper middle class housewife, Stacy, on the verge of madness. Her nights are plagued by dreams of dismembered and burning bodies in a post-apocalyptic death-scape and her days are filled with blinding headaches, unexplainable nose bleeds, and hallucinations.

With the help of Dr. Light, a very odd and aptly named psychiatrist, we learn that our protagonist is actually much more than an upper middle class housewife. So much more, in fact, that she may hold the key to coming (or not) of the end of the world.

One of the book’s strengths is the balance between the bizarre and the ordinary. Stacy’s life is one of book clubs, lunch dates, and the duties of being a mom. But, underneath it all, there are waking dreams, terrifying nightmares, and a creeping loss of control. Unbeknownst to her husband and friends, she is quietly losing her mind.

My only criticism is that while the juxtaposing of strange and ordinary is superb, the ordinary is a bit too ordinary. I tend to be attracted to “flawed” characters. If Stacy had been anything beside a suburban housewife; a taxi driver with a drinking problem, a cop who is in love with a prostitute, a washed up boxer with a penchant for watercolors, it would have been more my speed, but that is a personal preference that probably says more about me than it does about the story or its author.

The bottom line is, The Evolutionist is a really good book. The pacing is great, the storyline is intriguing, and the ending is completely and wholly unexpected. It’s a paranormal thriller, it’s a horror mystery, it’s dark sci-fi, it’s chick lit with a twist, it’s a whole lot of things, but most importantly, it’s a damn good read.

BUY it HERE


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Five Before Chaos

Five Before Chaos reviews S.C. Hayden's
Rusty Nails, Broken Glass

"Where else can you read about dominatrixes, sadistic, medieval, multicolored elves, and perpetually-changing magic poo that looks like John Lennon, Fidel Castro, and Jesus, all in one place?"
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Read the full review HERE
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Lurid Lit

Lurid Lit reviews S.C. Hayden's
Rusty Nails, Broken Glass

"Creatively speaking this book is marvelous; it is rich and refreshing and decadent."

Read the full review HERE
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Rusty Nails, Broken Glass

On April 6th 2013, S.C. Hayden's Rusty Nails, Broken Glass was released into the world.

"A stunning visual ride on the highway of horror . . ."
- Char Hardin

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BUY from Black Bed Sheet Books (preferred)
BUY from Amazon.com
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Contraband

The 2013 February story of the month was submitted by
Paul Beckman


Contraband
by
Paul Beckman


I'm still awake when Guard bangs on my cell door. I heft myself out of my bed and waddle my obese body in a fat man's walk over to the metal sink hanging off the wall. He unlocks the door and enters. I no longer have the temptation to look and see him; but I wait for him to smack me in the butt with his night stick and then I drop my underwear and lean over the sink—legs spread—hands intertwined—head resting on my arms.

I hear the snap of his rubber glove left on from his other cell visits and try not to tighten up. He probes my anus deep and rough, looking for something he thinks I'm hiding there. He finishes my humiliation and I remain in position while he tosses my cell trying to find the drugs that someone ratted me out for. He flips my mattress—shines his high intensity flash around, rustles through my desk drawer, knocks over my books and checks inside my shoes and clothing.

Guard whacks the back of my leg and I stand up and turn around facing him but staring down at his shoes—never lifting my head or eyes. He speaks and it's the same as always—"Where is it? This can end." I remain rigid and silent, head down, shorts around my ankles. I feel the sting of the nightstick on my arm even before he swings it and then I turn and re-assume the sink position. I've learned the moves well.

This nightmare ends, not with the re locking of the cell, but with the sound of his heavy boots walking down the hallway towards his next humiliation. I push myself upright and then bend down and pull up my underwear.

Back in my bed I reach under my overhang, my "mud flap" and feel my “high” Scotch taped deep up in the folds of my skin. I slowly pry it open while I'm facing the wall. I reach into the brown powder with my thumb and snort what I extract with my nail. I do it again for the other nostril and then quickly re-tape before it hits me hard—good and hard, and I fall back into what passes for sleep.

@mx_500

Paul Beckman sells real estate & is an oft published author of short stories, flash & micro fiction. He's had two collections published; several stories adapted as plays and earned his MFA from Bennington College.
Some publishing credits: Exquisite Corpse, ONTHEBUS, Connecticut Review, Soundzine, 5 Trope, Playboy, Web del Sol, Long Story Short, Litro, Word Riot. The Vilna Review & The Scruffy Dog Review

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On Patrol in the A Shau Valley

The January 2013 Story of the Month was submitted by Ronald J Friedman.

On Patrol in the A Shau Valley
By

Ronald J Friedman

He's pretty sure he's sitting on an overturned wooden crate that had been used in the past to haul citrus out of the fields. He knows he's holding a handgun, a Smith .357, not official issue, but a lot the guys carried them. It proved useful in the tunnels. But he's certain he will not use it because he is sitting in his garage, a narrow beam of afternoon light pouring in through the one small window, sitting on his orange crate back in the far corner of the room.
He weighs the gun in his hand. It doesn't feel right. It might be a good idea to check to make sure it's loaded.

For brief moments he imagines the light is bright enough to be tropical sunlight unfiltered by the triple canopy. He was on patrol in the A Shau Valley in Viet Nam and has just emerged from the jungle that blocked the sun. Overhead banana trees, palms, thorn bushes and banyans are laced together, tight enough in places that they not only blocked the sun, but would detonate bombs as they hit the high trees as well.

His thoughts slide past each other, raising questions. Who bombed the trees?
He grips the pistol a little tighter. He's not certain, but he knows he might need it.
It seems light in his hand, but the grip fits nicely in his fist.

He is hot, sweat soaks his clothing. He can smell himself. Of course, it's hot here in the garage. It's midsummer and the air is stagnant. His attention is captured by a rustling sound beyond what he can see. The far end of the garage is cloaked in shadows. Far from the lone window, thin rays of sunlight that have entered through broken slats in the garage walls spotlight a million dancing motes of dust. He listens for a movement, watches for any changes that would signal possible enemy presence.

This is a recurring problem they all encounter when patrolling the jungle. It's easy to get disoriented. The environment is so hostile and strange that the trees, the sounds, the animals and even the occasional imaginary enemy soldier are surreal. Soon the surreal is normal.

Today, he and four others provided security for a small group of engineers. On a small rise they call Fuck Me Hill, about two klicks south of their base camp, he and the other grunts kept a watchful eye while the engineers fastened small bricks of plastic explosives to the bases of the trunks of maybe a hundred trees and then connected the explosives with det cord.

The heat, the noise, the echo from surrounding hills were stunning. He loved the explosions. He would tell others it was the precision that he admired, but that wasn't true. After the debris and dust settled they had the makings of a landing pad that was located high enough on a small hilltop to be easily defended.

He listened now for the flop flop flop of the Huey that would extract them, but the slapping sounds he heard that mimicked the sounds of the rotor blades were nothing more than a slap slap slap of flip flops smacking the tile as someone hurried along at the side of the pool next to the garage.

He is almost wholly convinced that he is not looking at a twelve foot long cobra with a head as big as his two clenched fists. He is in his own garage. The sinuous form is a coiled garden hose or, more likely, nothing at all. Still, it would be best to hang on to the gun for a while. He would prefer the familiar feel of his M14. In fact, he starts to reach for the pouch on his belt that holds two extra 20-round clips, but, of course, they would not be there on his belt; he was sitting in the garage ten thousand miles and 30 years from the Valley. To be certain, he shrugs his shoulders, but cannot be positive he feels the weight of crossed bandoliers of ammo, two sixty round magazines for the rifle he now holds at port arms.

There it is, man.

Stay alert. Several days before his squad rappelled into an enemy camp intel said was deserted. Nobody around. Cooking fires cold. He and another man guarded the perimeter. Suddenly a North Vietnam Regular army soldier appeared on the path. His partner saw him first and shot him. Be alert.
In the distance he is sure he can hear children's voices. He ignores them. They are an unwelcome distraction. Now he is not so sure about the voices. He struggles to blot out the images of the children. You're sitting in the garage, he reminds himself. The children are in no danger.
But if he is in his garage, why does he smell the rank fermented shit the locals use to fertilize the fields and the rice paddies? Smells are the most deceptive. He cannot trust the smells.

Suddenly, he is no longer in the garage. He knew it. He knew it. He let his guard down.

He hears small sounds that might pass unnoticed in the hot afternoon, in the smothering air, deep under the canopy in the A Shau Valley, but his experience allows for no mistakes. Someone is coming.
He slows his breathing. His mind is clear.
He grips the pistol tighter and turns in the direction of the sounds. There. The garage door swings open. Light floods the room. He sees only a small figure backlit by the sun.
A garage door, he thinks as he sights along the barrel of the pistol, using the orange plastic cap at the end of the barrel to lock on to his target.

``Grandpa?''

He pulls the trigger and hears C4 explode all around him, muffling the muted click made by the toy gun.

``Mommy says come eat lunch,'' a small voice says.

He pulls the trigger again just to be sure.

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Ronald J Friedman is a retired psychologist living in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Fear The Abyss

Fear The Abyss is a new anthology from the good folks at
Post Mortem Press
It will feature new and original fiction from some of the best writers in the industry, including the legendary
Harlan Ellison and world famous best seller Jack Ketchum!
I’m thrilled to be able to say that my short story, The American, will appear in this antho!
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You don’t want to miss this one!
Click
HERE to BUY
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The Dark Side of The Womb

My short horror story SHE’S MY EVERYTHING appears in
“The Dark Side of The Womb” from
Cruentus Libri Press
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BUY it HERE
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Nothing Is Imminent

Nothing Is Imminent2Nothing Is Imminent
reviews AMERICAN IDOL
READ it HERE
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Book Review: HORROR FOR GOOD

Book Review:
HORROR FOR GOOD
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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a small press anthology and didn’t bother finishing half the stories.

Not this one though.

All of the tales in this collection are good, some are very good and a few are great.

The collection is a nice mix of heavy hitters like Jack Ketchum and Ramsey Cambell, small press heroes like Wrath James White and brand new voices like Rena Mason.

The best part is that 100% of the proceeds go to benifit amfAR The Foundation For AIDS Research. So you can feel good about buying it.

S.C. Hayden Fiction From The Edge gives
HORROR FOR GOOD a solid five out of five stars.

Click
HERE to BUY
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How I gave my book to Stephen King

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Stephen King gave the closing address at the 2012 Savannah Book Festival. Being a writer and a book lover and a Savannahain, I was in attendance.

The closing address was great. Stephen talked about literature, the media, writing, about his new book, 11/22/63, and about some of his current projects. He also dropped some hints about what to expect in the future (like a sequel to The Shinning).

Now, before I walked out the door that morning, I put a copy of American Idol in my cargo pocket. Who knows, I figured, maybe I’ll get the chance to slip him a copy during the signing after the address. Doubtful (after all, how many whack jobs try to foist there “books” on the poor guy on a daily basis) but possible.

There were 400 people at the signing and Stephen was all business. The whole thing moved along like clockwork. There was no chitchat, no personalized autographs, just wham bam thank you constant reader. That’s not a criticism, 400 books take a long time to sign and the King of horror is a busy man. No way, I thought, will I be able to give him a copy.

Well, I was all the way at the back of the line and by about the 350th book, things started to lighten up a bit. Most of the auditorium had cleared out by then and Stephen was smiling, cracking jokes and chatting with people.

When my turn finally came I mounted the stage on shaky legs. My gut was in a roil (which was ironic because earlier in the closing address Stephen told a funny anecdote about someone asking for his autograph while he was breaking for the bathroom with the squirts). As soon as he signed my copy of 11/22/63, I pulled out my copy of American Idol and said, “This is my book Mr King. Can I give it to you?”
The King of horror smiled, took my novel and said, “Sure, if you want.”

Simple as that! All I could think to myself as I walked out of the auditorium was, Holy shit, I just gave my book to Stephen fucking King!


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Lurid Lit

Unknown
Lurid Lit
reviews American Idol
Click HERE to READ the full REVIEW
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Book Nook Club

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Book Nook Club
reviews American Idol
Click HERE to READ the full REVIEW
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Bibliomantics

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Biblimantics
reviews American Idol
Click HERE to READ the full REVIEW
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O.C.D About Books

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O.C.D. About Books
reviews American Idol
Click HERE to READ the full REVIEW
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