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Letters From the Labyrinth 329
"How do you do, fellow kids?"
If you read last Monday’s newsletter, then you know that the first printing of Mary’s ALIEN: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY sold out, and bookstores are now having trouble getting copies, so we postponed some of our signings and appearances until a second printing makes its way to them. I’m happy to report that will not impact our appearances in Illinois and Indiana, though.
On Friday, May 5 we will be at Bucket O’ Blood Books 3182 N Elston Ave Chicago IL 60618 from 4pm to 7pm.
And on Saturday May 6 we will be at Mo*Con 3802 North Illinois Street Indianapolis, IN 46208 from 10am until 6pm.
I’d hoped to have two full weeks off between the last batch of signings and these, but we found out earlier this week that my dear friend Lee D. Miller, whom I served with in the Navy, was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. It is very fast and very aggressive and he entered hospice at the end of the week. Myself and a few other guys we served with are flying to Dallas next Friday to visit him in hospice and say goodbye.
I wrote a new Blog entry about it here.
The temptation for the group of us to rent a muscle car, bust him out of hospice, cross the border into Mexico, and have one last international adventure together is strong, and worthy of a novel or a movie, but this is real life, and I suspect instead we will just sit with him and talk and remember, and then we’ll all go back to the Air BnB and either be very somber or very silly. Which is far better than I how I used to deal with death. (When J.F. Gonzalez died, I went on a six-month self-destructive streak that included diving to the bottom of a whiskey bottle and not coming up, Mary leaving for six months, the eschewing of friends and human contact other than my sons (and not even really being there mentally for them), and worse. Luckily, an unplanned but well-timed kind word from Stephen King and the writing of THE COMPLEX brought me out of it, followed by some talk therapy).
So, yeah. Sitting in an AirBnB outside of Dallas, Texas with some guys I served with, and quietly talking about things or perhaps laughing is much better.
Here’s me, Miller, and our pal Blumenthal (whom my fictional character of Don Bloom owes quite a bit of his creation to) a few years ago. That’s Miller in the middle.
Anyway, I’ll get back from Texas and then two days later Mary and I will leave for Chicago. Hope to see some of you there.
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Mary has put me in charge of tracking down missing RSVPs for the wedding. If you were sent one, and you didn’t send it back yet, expect a call from me this week. I’m going to skip over Good Cop and just be Bad Cop for this mission.
If you didn’t get sent an invite, don’t take it personally. We had a firm maximum capacity, so obviously we couldn’t invite everyone we wanted to. I was talking with author Robert Ford the other evening, and he jokingly brought up the possibility of people simply crashing the wedding unexpectedly. But that won’t be a problem because before I even hired the caterer, I hired security.
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There are about a dozen copies of the collectors edition of THE DRIVE-IN: MULTIPLEX, edited by myself and Christopher Golden, still available. This collectors edition is limited to just 350 copies and is signed by Joe R. Lansdale, Christopher Golden, me, Linda Addison, Laird Barron, Gary Braunbeck, Nancy Collins, S.A. Cosby, Rachel Autumn Deering, Aaron Dries, Gabino Iglesias, Jonathan Janz, Stephen Graham Jones, Owen King, Keith Lansdale, Josh Malerman, Elizabeth Massie, James A. Moore, Norman Partridge, Cynthia Pelayo, Charles R. Rutledge, Mary SanGiovanni, David J. Schow, and Chet Williamson. The book is expected to ship in the FALL of 2023. Click here to reserve your copy!
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I’m happy to be part of the forthcoming television series Madness & Writers. Mary and I filmed for the pilot last year, but much of that is now going to be redone, for which I am grateful, because it was at the height of my Bell’s Palsy (as evidenced in the pictures of me here on the show’s website). New filming will commence this fall, and I’ll have to clean my office before the crew comes.
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Of course, the big news this week was that Anthrax’s Charlie Benante and I are teaming up and returning to the world of THE RISING. Here is the press release.
Twenty years ago, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner and World Horror Grandmaster Brian Keene's The Rising was credited with "revitalizing the horror fiction genre" and "giving zombies an upgrade". In the decades since then, the series has spawned three sequels and earned generations of eager fans from all walks of life -- united in the hope that the author would return once again to the franchise.
This is that return.
The Rising: More Selected Scenes From the End of the World features eleven new stories set within the world of Brian Keene's The Rising franchise, complimented with original illustrations by Anthrax's Charlie Benante. Featuring tales set both before and after the events of the previous books, it will appeal to long-time fans and new readers alike.
Brian Keene's The Rising: More Selected Scenes From the End of the World -- zombies just got another upgrade.
This will be published later this year by Dead Sky Publishing (the second book in my two-book contract with them that included WITH TEETH).
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I’m also happy to announce that AuthorCon III (a Scares That Care charity event) will take place April 12-14, 2024 in Williamsburg, VA.
Vendor tables will go on sale Saturday, May 20, 2023. The room block code will be made available to the public after the vendors have gotten their rooms. If you try to book a room without it you’ll be told by the hotel that you can’t.
Thank you. Be patient.
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Speaking of Scares That Care, I’d like to thank Red Lagoe and Death Knell Press for putting together an anthology to benefit the charity. It’s called Dark Corners of the Old Dominion and you can learn more about it here.
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It was sort of an Anthrax work week, here at Casa Keenegiovanni. In addition to the press release mentioned above, I wrote a nonfiction piece for a forthcoming book about their seminal album Among The Living. And I also talked to Scott Ian about another project that I can’t yet mention.
I worked on the first draft of SPLINTERED: THE LABYRINTH Book 3 and on edits for INVISIBLE MONSTERS and GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX. I finished a new short story with Richard Chizmar called “Masks”. I finished edits on a new Levi story called “Bloody Roots”. Progress continued on me and Christopher Golden’s OPERATION WALKABOUT.
But most of this week was taking a good hard look at Manhattan On Mars, and admitting to myself that I’m trying to do too much at once with it. Right now, there’s a backlog of titles I need to release with it — AN OCCURRENCE IN CRAZY BEAR VALLEY, JACK’S MAGIC BEANS, WHERE WE LIVE AND DIE, OTHER WORDS, ISLAND OF THE DEAD, a few books by Mary, the definitive edition of J. F. Gonzalez’s SURVIVOR, and my new nonfiction collection. And with each book that my publishers graciously take out of print, that means there are more jammed up in the pipeline.
So, I reorganized and restructured this week. First thing I did was have my various publishers hit the pause button on taking anything else out of print. Second thing I did was get the ball rolling on some cover art. Third thing I did was give Apex Publishing ISLAND OF THE DEAD for paperback, audiobook, and eBook. Why? Because it will remove one thing from my MOMP backlog, and because it’s helping them out, too. They’ve been trying to sign with a big distributor, and that distributor expressed interest in the fact that they’d published my previous six fantasy novels, so now they can go back to that distributor and say, “Hey, sign with us and you get the new Brian Keene fantasy novel.” And later on, a few years down the road, I can get the rights back and add it to MOMP.
The fourth thing I did was have a long talk with Wesley Southard, Daniel J. Volpe, and Aron Beauregard about marketing and online storefronts and how they’re handling direct-to-consumer sales in this new age. Now… long-time readers are right now going, “WHAT? BRIAN KEENE NEEDS HELP WITH MARKETING AND DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER SALES?” Sure. Look, no matter how good you are at something, you should never stop learning and never stop trying to absorb more information and never stop trying new things. Fact of the matter is, these three guys are tapping an audience that I have not tapped yet. A younger audience. And post-50, for a writer to survive, you’ve got to be able to grab that next generation and hook them, as well.
Right now there’s a lot of disarray and change happening behind the scenes in distribution and bookselling. Some Barnes & Noble managers have been told by corporate to stop ordering so many indie titles, which is of course very, very bad news for Horror as a genre. But other Barnes & Noble managers have been told no such thing. So there’s a lot of confusion regarding that. Books-A-Million still won’t stock me, regardless of delivery platform, but there’s a group of Books-A-Million managers who have voiced their displeasure about that to corporate, so maybe that will change. This stuff all gets weighed in regards to MOMP, as well, as does the currently forming economic downturn. Ingram and KDP are both offering things that would help me, but neither are offering ALL of the things that would help me, so I’m stuck with one foot in each camp, trying to read the future and figure out what’s best for my business.
Yes, I picked a fine time to go into business for myself. But I’m determined to see it through. It may be stressful now, but two decades from now my kids will thank me.
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Okay, Saturday night as I write this next part and close things out. Mary wanted to go to a dollhouse furniture expo in Westminster, Maryland today, so we spent much of the day there. Tomorrow we (along with author John urbancik) are going to see Evil Dead Rise. So, let’s wrap things up with one ofm everybody’s favorite parts of this newsletter
Currently Reading: A Little Silver Book: A Screenplay by Richard Chizmar and Johnathan Schaech
Currently Listening: Rebel Yell by Billy Idol (full album, not just the single)
Currently Watching: Snowfall (Hulu), The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die (Netflix)
The series finale of Snowfall was spectacular. Lovely nod to John Singleton there at the end. Very hard to talk about it without spoiling things here, but it absolutely stands alongside the series finales of The Shield, Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad, Lost, The Wire, and the other kings and queens of television. If you loved those shows and you have not yet watched Snowfall, start it this week. It will be a new favorite. You have my word on it.
Really enjoyed The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die, although I wish Netflix had given them the budget to make it as a final season to The Last Kingdom, rather than a 2-hour movie to wrap everything up. It felt tightly compacted, and I’d dearly have loved to see more of the characters have a final moment to shine.
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Okay, and that finishes us off. I’m not sure if there will be a newsletter next Sunday or not. I’m guessing not, as I’ll be on my way home from Texas that day, and will have been at the hospice Friday and Saturday and probably not in the headspace to write one of these.
I hope you are doing well. Thanks as always for reading this. Hug the people you love, and make sure they know that you feel that way about them.
— Brian Keene