Saturday, February 12, 2011

Videos and pics from the actual house used in "Knickknack"

      This is a videotaped reading from Chapter 13 of Knickknack                                                                                               
The keyboard that starts playing by itself one night while Darryl is working on his speech

The wardrobe in the cellar- the Knickknack's second favorite hiding place

The attic ladder as seen from the master bedroom

The attic- the Knickknack's primary abode

The fan that nearly drops on Darryl's head after he antagonizes the entity living in his house

2953 Starkweather at night

To order Knickknack, visit

Friday, February 11, 2011

Contest details

All you have to do is give me a copy of your receipt or other proof of purchase in person or via email at and on 2/28, one lucky co-worker will receive his or her gift card.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, February 4, 2011

The three types of cheeseheads

Most people, especially outside the Dairy State, see the cheesehead as either a Packer backer or simply a Wisconsinite. However, to categorize these individuals in such black and white terms is like saying the Packers' playbook has two types of plays: awesome and crappy. The most accurate assessment of Packer Nation I can come up with is that there are three types or grades of cheeseheads: A, B, and Z. A- These are the true die-hards. Their blood is mixed with green and gold grease from the brats and cheese curds that make up the bulk of their diet. They usually have season tickets to every Packer game until Armageddon (when the Bears win their next Super Bowl). To them, being a Packer fan is synonymous with being an American. B- I proudly include myself in this group. We root for the Badgers, have degrees from UW-Madison, but acknowledge that the Bears are more dependable than the Packers when it comes to division titles. Most of us don't really despise the Packers except when they beat our Bears. Z- Wisconsinites with the despicable gall to wear Vikings gear in public and justify their treachery by stating they're supporting a washed-up old redneck who should have stepped gracefully out of the limelight four years ago instead of making himself the scourge of Packer Nation and a burden to any team who can afford to put up with his inconsistency and wishy-washiness. In book news, "Knickknack" jumps to #3 on the Authors' Den bestseller list! Thanks, fans!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Daily Cardinal to review Knickknack!

Yesterday afternoon, I sent off a handful of review requests to various community publications, including both UW-Madison student papers. Based on my lack of success in getting IVD reviewed, I was not expecting a response, if any, from these editors for a very long time. Imagine my astonishment when I was enroute to choir practice and I received the following email from an editor at the Daily Cardinal (the main UW paper):
We would be interested in reviewing a copy of the novel, and having on the shelf to display in the office. If you could please send us a copy at 821 University Ave. Rm. 2142 Vilas hall, that would be fantastic.
Thank you much,
Jeremy Gartzke

What is interesting about this email is that when I submitted a request to get IVD reviewed in 2009, they wouldn't touch that book with a ten-foot poll. Obviously, the Cardinal is under new and presumably hipper management. All I know is that once that review hits the stands, Knickknack is destined to be a cult hit on campus! Because it takes me only 25 minutes to get to Vilas Hall from my home on the East Side, I have decided to deliver the review copy, which God willing, will arrive this week, to the Cardinal office in person. I think it will be interesting to poke my head in there for the first time in over seven years. (I used to write reviews and tech articles for them.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Contest details/ The Cart Caddy from Hell

Buy "Knickknack" between now and 2/25/11 from and you could win a $25 Woodman's gift card. All you have to do is show me your copy of the book or other proof of purchase (proof of purchase can also be emailed to me at and I will take down your name. On Feb 28th, one lucky co-worker chosen at random will receive their gift card. To ensure absolutely no bias, a video of the drawing will be posted to my YouTube channel
This contest is limited to Woodman's employees and their families.

Here is an excerpt from one of the most chilling scenes in the book, especially chilling if you've spent any time on parcel/carts.
While Kelly groped around inside the cluttered glove compartment in search of the key, Denise became conscious of a small motor starting up a few feet to her right. She turned and realized that the discordant rumbling was coming from the discarded cart caddy which was now slowly rolling towards her!

“For God’s sake hurry up with that key!” she pleaded with her daughter as she leaped onto the trunk to avoid being crushed by the approaching caddy.
“I found it!” Kelly called out to her after what seemed like a millennium.
“Open the left passenger side window and hand it to me,” she instructed as she unsuccessfully tried to keep the terror racing through her nerves from spreading to Kelly. “What’s going on out there?” asked Kelly fearfully.
“Never mind, it’ll all be over as soon as you give me the key and I can get the book out of the trunk,” her mother replied with rapidly diminishing confidence as the caddy rolled back and forth across the alley. Kelly rolled down the window and handed Denise the key. She slowly climbed down from the trunk, vigilantly monitoring the caddy’s movements as she inserted the key in the lock and gave the handle a prayerful tug. She grabbed the book and sprinted around to the left side of the car. She was less than two feet from the driver’s side door when the caddy reversed course and came at her so abruptly, she dropped the book as she leaped onto a dumpster.
Fortunately, Kelly was able to open the door, scoop up the priceless volume, and toss it onto the seat next to her a split second before the caddy would have ground it into unsalvageable pulp. The ear was still marking the page that had spared Darryl from the horrors at the Antique Nook, but as soon as Kelly removed it, the caddy slammed into the left side of the car, shattering the driver’s side window. As she tried to shield her face from the torrent of shards rushing at her, she dropped the ear on the floor of the vehicle. As she bent down to retrieve it, the caddy rammed the front bumper with such force that if Kelly hadn’t been securely buckled in, her head would have suffered a fatal collision with the dashboard. As it was, she was almost too dazed to wrap her quivering fingers around the ear and toss it onto the open pages of the book, which began flipping immediately.
“Are you all right in there?” her mother cried out from atop the dumpster. “I’m a little shaken up, but I don’t think I busted anything,” replied Kelly, even though the pain that had begun to flare up in her collarbone right after the second collision was an indisputable indication that she’d be suffering from whiplash for the next week. She picked up the book and eyed the spell that the ear had illuminated, but before she could determine the correct pronunciation, a green ball of fire shot out from the light at the top of the caddy, igniting the tall brush surrounding the dumpster. Denise screamed and leaped over the chain-link fence behind the dumpster. Kelly couldn’t figure out whether it was the pain, the Knickknack, or both that was causing the words in front of her to become blurrier and blurrier until they were nothing but an indecipherable gray cloud as her mother crouched behind an oak tree on the other side of the fence, pleading with her to hurry up and find the spell to stop the caddy from launching another fireball.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who says a book can't be judged by its cover?

"IVD" would be a bestseller by now if it weren't for two impediments: the title and the cover. By now, my publicist is getting tired of telling people what the acronym stands ffor and in hindsight the novel should have been called "Press Play and Die", which incidentally is the title of the screenplay. Really, the only marketable aspect of that cover is the exploding DVD. I'm not making that mistake with my Lovecraft homage "Knickknack". One of the best aspects of Authors' Den is that they let authors design the covers. My original notion was to draw the Knickknack's head crashing through the Carters' roof, but I decided to go with something a bit more subtle. Since my tagline is "This isn't kid stuff anymore", I envisioned a teddy bear perched on the top rung of the ladder leading to my attic, clutching a knife. Due to lighting issues, the final photo shows the bear on the attic carpet leaning up against the chimney and it still took over 30 shots before I got a good pic. When I showed it to Mom, she remarked, "That knife is too clean." Since I don't buy ketchup and I don't have time to make rhubarb sauce, the logical solution was to add a touch of jpeg blood and as long as I was at it, I gave the bear glowing red eyes. The tagline should have gone above the title, but the website wouldn't let me do that unless I wanted to make it part of the title. So, it wound up going in the photo, making it look like the entity tagged the chimney, but it's better than no tagline at all. The pic on the back is a church photo and looks light years ahead of that webcammy, nerdy shot on the back of "IVD". Time will tell if the effort I put into the cover of "Knickknack" pays off, but at least I can't use the cover as an excuse in the unlikely event this book doesn't rattle the horror community to the core.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Click here to watch a "live" reading from "IVD" at Booked for Murder, Madison,WI

THE BOOKED FOR MURDER READING 11/7/09- This event was a dramatic improvement over the Goodman Center fiasco. My confidence was bolstered by the fact that the majority of the audience was extended family (not that I couldn't do a great job in front of an audience of strangers). I sat at a table decorated with 8 or 9 copies of the book and read two excerpts totaling 12 pages- the Mendota'sestate scene and the brush with death in the Yahara river. Except for a few brief losses of composure due to the contagious snickering from a gentleman in the front row, my performance was almost flawless.