The Ballad of Murder Joe: A Cautionary Tale

Full disclosure: nobody died, his name wasn’t Joe, and thankfully no one was singing. And yet this is a true story.

WestVirginiaAtNightWhile on a trip to my home state of West “By God” Virginia, my spouse and I were on our way between stops when we had to change lanes on Southbound I-79 just before midnight. We were in high spirits, having found a favorite restaurant open on our way and looking forward to some much deserved sleep, but being deer season, a buck had wandered onto the road and been struck. The lane change had been to avoid the fresh carcass, just behind another vehicle who had done the same.

Before we could switch out of the passing lane, the vehicle in front of us did so abruptly; a thick wooden or metal grating was in the lane and over it we went. The front tire cleared but my right rear tire snagged. A tire pressure warning on my dashboard appeared almost instantly, and Exit 5 was just ahead. I caught a glimpse of a gas station sign, so I took the exit. As I made the turn, I felt how badly the tire was pulling, so I stopped beneath the underpass to check it.

This was my first mistake.

You’re more visible on the interstate — even in a rural state like West Virginia. At midnight on a moonless night, it’s dark…like REALLY dark. Get off the road but don’t leave the road. The other problem was it was highly unlikely either of the aforementioned gas stations were open; this is a state where the capital rolls up its sidewalks at dusk. Moving on…

DarkSoulTireDownRealizing where I’d stopped, and took my high-lumen flashlight out and did a quick sweep of the underpass; we were alone. While I was born in WV, movies like Wrong Turn are far more realistic than The Blair Witch Project, so we weren’t looking for any encounters. I had a tire pump and a repair kit but not a spare, something my car manufacturer assured us was more than adequate.

This was my second mistake.

I have low-profile tires. They look good and grip the road really well, but what I didn’t know then is the grating had gashed my tire’s sidewall, something the repair kit wasn’t going to fix. The tire was a loss and we were stuck. A donut could have gotten us back on the road and to our next destination. Lessons learned.

And then Murder Joe appeared out of the darkness.
Continue reading “The Ballad of Murder Joe: A Cautionary Tale”

Spooky Empire Appearance and Showdown Update!

SpookyAuthorImageOctober 24-26, 2014: Author guest (confirmed) at Spooky Empire Ultimate Horror Weekend in Orlando, Florida.

We’re also presenting what may be the BIGGEST Ultimate Occult Showdown we’ve ever done: Saturday, October 25th at 4:30p in the LAKE BALLROOM – be there!


Ultimate Occult Showdown 2014 Highlights!

As promised: highlights from the 2014 Ultimate Occult Showdown shot at Ancient City Con. If you don’t yet know what we do, this is a good example.

A game show with no prizes and audience participation is mandatory! Vote up your favorites in a contest of characters, movies, and TV programs but be ready to tell us why. Rules are made up as we go along by your opinionated a**hole hosts Kevin A. Ranson and Brett J. Link. Presented by and Grim D. Reaper!


The Bloodlist (Fun With Photoshop)

KevinAsReddington-Edit3-300pxBrandedI’ve done professional renderings for various companies, but now I usually only do this kind of work for myself.

This is a cosplay I’m putting together for conventions, based loosely on James Spader’s excellent show “The Blacklist” on NBC. I mentioned to my wife that it’d be fun to get suited up and do a fake poster called “The Bloodlist” with the tagline “Never trust a horror writer,” so she dared me.

Done and done.

You: “I don’t think you’re telling me everything.”

Me: “I’m never telling you everything.”


Conservation of Mass: Shouldn’t Shifters Make More Sense?

HumanFlySeveral paranormal and supernatural series have “shifters” now, humans that can turn into other creatures, animals or otherwise. Unlike weres – werewolves, werecats and werecoyotes that can only shift into one form and often are affected by moon phases – shifters can take on multiple forms.

My question, however is this: conservation of mass. To make this example simple, the modern Avengers Hulk (“Son, you gotta condition”) doesn’t make sense whereas the old Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno tv “Hulk” did. Why? Because you can imagine something getting a little bigger, but where does the mass of something ten times larger come from? How is all that energy stored, and where does it go when it isn’t in use?

Both “True Blood” and the Twilight movies make use of shifters. In Twilight, the wolves appear four times larger than their human counterparts. In “True Blood,” Sam can shift into a fly! Where does 160 pounds (wringing wet) disappear to unless that’s going to be a HUGE fly? Just as incredible is Sam’s ability to find jeans that fit him perfectly every time he shifts back to human form no matter where he is, but I digress.

So, does it strain credibility when a character shifts shape into a creature too large or too small to be believable? Yes, its magic or mysticism or whatever, but does it help suspend disbelief when the shifting is done into something of approximately the same size and perhaps relative shape?

New Creation: All-Cat Version of ‘Return of the Jedi’

Anyone who’s been following me online knows I like to work on various projects, but with the popularity of both Star Wars spoofs and LOL Cats, I realized there’s something I could do to serve both niches. Starting immediately, I’m going to film (on a micro-budget, of course) and all-cat version of the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Even before you start thinking how insane I must be, check out this test shot of my cat, Cinders, in a make-up test for galactic gangster Jabba the Cat. As you can see, I’m not only completely serious, but this is gonna rawk. See you on the Dark Side, and check back here for more updates!

Memo to All Dinosaurs: “Evolve or Die”

Just saw a post on Facebook and had a moment of clarity. This is what she said:

Just had one of those sad moments. Was talking to one of my old college instructors who I have been friends with since being in their class. Had a disappointing conversation with them. I was basically told I will never become a writer if I self-publish. I know the black mark some of the crap that has come out of self-publish and what it has done to authors and writers. However, I do not feel I am making a mistake and dooming myself to failure by starting that way. I hate that so many people still view Indie and self-publishing in such a negative way and have such a closed mind about it. Makes me want to get published and be successful even more now to prove them wrong!

This is what I replied:

I really hate to say it this way, but when someone old tells you that things will never change, what they’re really saying is that THEY’LL never change. Also, what they’re saying doesn’t make any sense; there are already plenty of success stories in self-publishing. “Never” is very petty word. The next time you see those dinosaurs, gently tell them, “Evolve or die.”