Tag Archives: Josef Matulich

Back to the Ren Faire

It has been a while since the Arcanum Faire books have been available. February of this year, they went out of print.  A few months after that Post Mortem Press, which had published them, went on indefinite hiatus due to the health of the publisher.

I got a local comic artist named Seth Lyons to do new covers and graphic elements. I had the advantage of the five years experience while Camp Arcanum was available to fine-tune things. The original covers were too creepy. Good but creepy. Readers who’d appreciate the humor and lunacy of the stories were frightened off. Those who like chainsaws, pentacles, and spooky old barns felt cheated.

So, the new iteration of Arcanum Faire is exactly what it says on the tin.

Here are the new covers for the first two books. Number three is in the pipeline. If you are intrigued, there are links to the Amazon pages to purchase. If not, we still have Paris.

Weirdmaste

PC_2019_364

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/109066835X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

 

PC_2019_553

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1086890647/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i9

 

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Rejoice, for the Apocalypse is Here!

Some say the world will end in fire, some say it will be ice. Nobody ever mentioned squirrels. 

Forgive my absence for most of this month. When not getting myself irradiated, dealing with chemo, or simply napping, I have been putting all my writing energy into my WIP. Fortunately, my publisher Hydra Publications and I set something in motion before I got sick and it comes out today!

“Squirrel Apocalypse” started out just as goofy screenplay  exercise: Lost Boys/Nightwings with Squirrels. Circumstances beyond my control forced me to transition it to a novel, though it is still just as ridiculous as when I started. Here’s a little about it:

Chris Day had a perfect life… when he was twelve years old. Twenty years later, he is divorced, unemployed, and desperate to get through to his twelve year daughter, Liv. He hopes his grandmother’s dairy farm in Crickson, California will be a good place to start a new life. Chris spent his boyhood summers in mischief and squirrel-launching there with his two best friends, Olivia and Rafael.Today, the dairy farmers grow marijuana to make ends meet, and the local radio station broadcasts the movements of the DEA to help them stay one step ahead. His grandmother’s obsession with squirrels has turned to a crusade of extermination. Olivia and Rafael are still in town, but nothing like the kids he dreamed of coming back to. Liv is sneaking out of the house late at night and Grandma has a collection of squirrel torture porn and homemade explosives. Pets and livestock are disappearing at an increasing rate. You really can’t go home again, especially when it’s being eaten by GMO killer squirrels.

We won’t be able to do a release party until after my surgery, I’m sure, but everyone can chow down on fresh-baked cookies, milk, and squirrel jerky in their own homes to celebrate. If you do, I want pictures.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1948374234/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i7

 

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I am touched…

I would like to thank all the fine people that have reached out to Kit and myself in the last few days through social media and in real life. As the “quiet” half of the single socioeconomic unit KitandJosef, I’ve long thought myself the invisible support structure behind the real star. I now see how many of you do see me and are concerned for my well-being. Many of you are concerned for Kit, who is really much more frightened than I am. I’ll take that.

As I try to keep my ass from kicking me, I will try to be a better friend, co-worker, and relative. All I can say is thank you very much. I’ll keep in touch.

Next time, I’ll make it funny…

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Is This The Right Use Of “Ironic”?

(This may be a long way, but there is an important announcement at the end. Scroll to the bottom if you impatient. The crux of this post is the bottom.)

I was feeling pretty good last week. My years long problem with indoor allergies and asthma at the work place seemed to be getting under control. My fatigue and drowsiness from whatever toxins were in the ventilation system seemed to be getting better and the Company Nurse was even making arrangements for the company to pay for my air cleaner and filters.

I had gone back to counseling to deal my depression issues. He told me it was more like disthymia and PTSD, but we got a handle on it with additional meds and cognitive therapy. That, and I just started doing things that made me happy. I spent time with my wife not staring at adjacent screens on the couch. I took control of my books and even republished my first novel. I put it on Amazon with a great new cover; a handful sold the first week to total strangers on both sides of the Atlantic.

I was astoundingly close to happy, a position I had not allowed myself to be in for years.

Then, came the colonoscopy.

I had one five years before, and, just like then, the prep was the worst part of it. The day before you must stick to a clear fluid diet. The night before, you drink a gallon of some noxious fluid to clear the colon/small intestine of all fecal matter. This will let the candid colon camera inspect the walls and ceiling down there. The prep fluid is refrigerated, because at room temperature the motor oil on dead dog taste is too much to bear. For several hours I drank almost the whole gallon and spent much of the night squirting prep fluid out my ass. Kit and I made it to the doctor’s office by seven a.m..

I had planned to tell my co-workers what had happened to me when I returned to work. It would have gone something like this:

“I stayed up all night drinking, and then I got waylaid by a bunch of people in masks. They drugged me and started sticking things up my butt. What’s worse, they took pictures!”

I would have told my co-workers that the next day, but the technicians found something: A white mass, about 2 centimeters long, low in the colon. I would have been even more concerned if it had been a black mass. I never allow satanists near my colon.

The discovery led to a quick succession of tests. There was much poking and prodding and needling. I received a CAT scan with contrast and the next day developed hives as a reaction to the dye. In the end, my end, the results indicated the best bad news I could have. I have colon-rectal cancer, though the test results indicate a slow-growing tumor that may have stayed entirely in its place. After a few more tests, the doctors and we will decide the best course of action. Surgery, chemo, and radiation may all come into play. It will be a stressful few months. Some of them I may spend flat on my back. But this is far better than the prognosis if I had avoided the test as I wanted to.

There’s much more to this story, and I’ll try my best to make it a comedy.

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Back from Limbo

There are few things more neuroses-affirming for a writer than having no books to sell. Except, of course, for everything else about a writer’s life. I have finally remedied that problem.

I have books to sell.

The rights to my Arcanum Faire trilogy reverted from Post Mortem Press in Feburary. After a thorough reformatting and error scouring (Toolcat 5600s do not actually have six wheels), my first book “Camp Arcanum” is back online. It has a colorful and energetic cover produced by the comic artist Seth Lyons. I can’t do much about the words underneath it.

The navigation through the KDP publishing system was a bit more involved than I expected. No-one died, though. Both the e-book and the trade paperback versions are live. Somehow, in less than twenty-four hours, I already sold an e-book. It couldn’t have been my mother. She is in that great stained glass workshop in the sky.

Whoever it is that had such good taste, or fearless reading habits, I thank you. I invite the rest of my friends and family to pop over and check it out. See the pretty cover, check inside so you can send me a list of typos and errors.

And, if you’ve already read or reviewed the first edition, feel free to do the same for number two. Even reprints need a little love.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/109066835X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

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‘Tis Me, Hanging from the Horror Tree…

I have the great honor this week to be the subject of the weekly author interview at the website Horror Tree. I was very pleased to discover that the interviewer Ruschelle Dillon took time to cyberstalk me and compose original questions just for me. So if any of you out there are curious about my previous life as a mime or a special effects artist, feel free to drop in at the link below:

https://horrortree.com/

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Bonfire of the Inanities

It is not often that I have had the chance to put out a man on fire in my previous occupations. When I worked for a neighbor in Tennessee, acting as the ditch-digger assistant to his backhoe service, there were no chances at all for life-saving. I did get to play with jackhammers and dynamite. He taught me the frightful synergy of tamping a blast hole with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate long before Oklahoma City.

Subsequent jobs had few chances for heroics, though I did learn concrete-forming, burger-flipping, photo-processing, and waste water lab testing. The one time a rack of super-heated test tubes full of  grey water and sulfuric acid exploded all over my lab manager, he pretty much saved himself by diving into the safety shower. He sustained no serious injuries, but we all learned a valuable lesson about saying the phrase “things can’t get any worse” out loud.

Now, when I worked as a balloon delivery driver, that was my biggest opportunity to be a hero.  Along with wrangling a dozen helium balloons at a time in high winds, I got to make deliveries to birthday parties, massage parlors, and gross anatomy classes.  One time, I even got a chance to put out a flaming handyman.

The balloon service was preparing to move from its quaint but cramped quarters in German Village to Main St. in Bexley, the Beverly Hills of Columbus. (Say that to yourself a couple of times: the Beverly Hills of Columbus. Savor the cognitive dissonance.)  A few of us twenty-somethings were painting and prepping the walls while the owner’s handyman was stripping the old wooden desks.

Now, this handyman was a curmudgeon and a proud graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. It sounded like he had been the keynote speaker and valedictorian of the class of ’32 as he shared the highlights of his speech. The theme was Common Sense and how “you college boys” don’t know anything about the real world and surviving in it. It wasn’t an overly complicated topic, but he expanded upon it with anecdotes and examples to make it clearer for those of us that were reality-impaired.

We really didn’t engage with him, but he just kept talking as he slapped the noxious chemicals on the varnished wood, scraped it off, and discarded the flammable gel on the canvas drop cloth. A fairly even coat got spattered on the legs of his jumpsuit, too.

Eventually, he took a break.

A smoking break.

He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a book of matches. Right there, in the middle of the furniture stripping project, he did this. With a cigarette in his mouth, he lit one of the matches. I reconstruct the next few steps from the explanations he had to give to several people afterwards.

He struck the match.

He realized that he was in the midst of a large amount of open and flammable chemicals. Being a worldly man, he knew that this was a dangerous situation and he should really take this outside.

Because he wasn’t some snot-nosed college kid, he was smart enough to not set himself on fire. He stood there silently congratulating himself on his exceptional Common Sense. I don’t know how he did this, but it was a fraction of a second too long.

The match singed his fingers and he dropped it. It set the gel on the drop cloth around him to a small but steady flame. The legs of his grey-pinstripe coveralls caught fire in less than a second.

A good deal of shouting, flailing, and stomping ensued. I don’t know if it was just good planning or I had seriously expected this to happen, but I knew exactly where the fire extinguisher was. I hurried the ten to twenty  feet to the big red cylinder on the floor. I popped the cotter key off that sucker and dowsed everything that was burning with a thick cloud of fire suppressants.

The handyman looked crestfallen, but no longer aflame. The atmosphere, previously tainted with blather and contempt, was now filling up with smoke, toxic fumes, and the bitter taste of the extinguisher. Formic acid settled onto the back of my tongue and stuck. My coworkers rushed to throw open both the front and back doors. It was a short contest between the evening breeze blowing through and the steady cloud rising from the smoldering goo on the floor. Eventually, clean air tipped the balance.

That’s about the time the fire alarms went off.

This was a new building to us. No-one had mentioned a built-in alarm system or how to turn it off. We rushed to the circuit box and started throwing switches until the noise finally stopped.  We chuckled among ourselves, relieved that we were all alive and hadn’t burned down the building. I said something along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the lines were still connected to the fire department?”

That’s when we heard the approaching sirens.

Four or five firefighters in full gear came in the front door. The owner returned from his errands through the back door.  It was a very uncomfortable fifteen minutes for the handyman.

When asked, I gave a fairly neutral version of the facts, even though the “stupid college kid” in me wanted to rub his nose in smoldering furniture stripping gel. I had done plenty of stupid things before. I have done a few stupid things since. I’ve been lucky that after the flames were out, nobody ever threw me under the bus.

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Adulting on the Weekend

I am in an uncomfortable place for an indie author. My previous publisher pulled my Arcanum Faire books upon reversion of rights on February 1st. (It was an amicable separation, just like me and my first wife). My new publisher is still securing an editor for my upcoming tale of the Squirrel Apocalypse. I am only waiting on a really cool cover from excellent comic artist Seth Lyons to self-publish Camp Arcanum. Unfortunately, I don’t have the narcissism and unmedicated gall to ask him to put the cover ahead of his ant-related injuries to his hands and the repairs of his parent’s home from the Memorial Day tornadoes. That only proves I don’t have what it takes to be a small press publisher. (Did I tell you it was a really, really amicable separation? I signed a paper.)

This all leaves me with no reason to scream “BUY MY BOOK!” There is nothing out there to buy. I guess I’ll just have to be an adult, even on the weekend. This is how it looks:

6:20 am. Cats and bladder go off. Don robe and slippers.

6:25 am. Feed rodents and cats. Do NOT feed rodents to cats. Secure first cup of coffee and first pill.

6:35 am. Fiddle on computer until brain engages.

7:20 am. Brain still not engaged; will have to go on like every other day of my life. Avoid waste by eating last Apple Fritter for breakfast and taking the rest of my pills with even more coffee.

8:00 am. Wife, being a reasonable human being, sleeps until absolutely necessary to awaken. I don jeans and tee-shirt as she prepares for the day. (dressing much earlier than usual for the weekend)

8:20 am. Wife leaves to care for friends’ cats before opening our store. I open garage door for her and The Broom.

8:25 am. Since I am outdoors and not wearing bathrobe, I till herb and vegetable gardens.

8:45 am. Transplant invasive comfrey from last season into the shame corner of the herb garden, just below the gas meter. Give them a stern talking to while doing so.

9:00 am.  Run a load of laundry and calculate the logistics of hanging damp clothes around the house if the dryer malfunctions again. More harsh language.

9:15 am. Replace old whiteboard with new preformatted project whiteboard. Transfer data and magickal glyphs. Rough out this week’s blog post and about a quarter page of my steampunk WIP. I feel the power of the dry erase flowing through my veins.

10:30 am. Leave cats in charge of house and stop by the credit union drive-thru to deposit check from bookstore. (Yes, people actually pay me for my books, some times.) Bank is usually closed by the time I get free of the day job, so I am actually conducting business when I should be home watching cartoons and wolfing down Lucky Charms.

11:08 Meet Sheldon at theater to catch John Wick 3. Last instance of adult thought for the weekend.

 

 

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Fun with Quokkas

As the country is wrapping up National Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems to be appropriate to share some of my relatively minor struggles.

I have been depressed most of my adult life.  I could go into grim medical descriptions or personal anecdotes, but that should be saved for another blog. Suffice it to say my brain doesn’t produce all the neurotransmitters needed to operate the machinery smoothly. That results in dark moods, generalized pain, muddled thinking, fatigue, and irritability. Depression: it’s not just for moping around anymore!

My GP and I have worked through a variety of pharmaceuticals, alone and in combination, over the last few years. We’ve discovered any number of annoying and embarrassing side effects, but recently my wife and I have had to deal with Vivid Dreams and acting out. I referenced earlier the time I dreamed somebody had been set on fire and I was frantically try to swat out the flames with my bare hands. We both awoke to my slapping my wife’s butt repeatedly. She did not find it stimulating.

My dreams wind up being involved versions of the stories I write, full of action, horror, and ass-kicking. The cats now sleep on Kit’s side of the bed to avoid being launched into space. (catapult)

So, I try to program my dreams. Instead of internalizing all the frustrations of my life and the terror of current events, I focus on happy things. And there is nothing happier than a Quokka. In case you haven’t heard about them, they are cat-sized marsupials that live on a single island off the coast of Australia. They look to be constantly smiling and gleefully pose for selfies with tourists, no matter what PETA and Australian Fish & Game might have to say.

I now have a picture of two Quokkas taped to my wall near my bed. I have named them Graeme and Oista. Each night, I say good night to them, and their cousin Saltine. I tell them to leave the Club and go back to their Townhouse.

Sometimes, I elaborate to get into the happy Quokka groove:

In my best Shirley Temple voice I sing a few bars of “Animal Quokkas in My Soup”.

1980’s marsupial singing sensation: Quokka Khan.

Wallaby-like creature that realigns your spine: a Quokka-practor.

Jason Momoa leading the marsupials in a Maori war chant: An Aquaman Quokka haka.

.

.

.

I’m lucky that my wife hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Joust

This weekend was the second annual Treaty City Joust, an acknowledged tournament for international league standing in Darke County Ohio. It is something of a big deal if you follow sports where people on horseback whack each other with sticks.

I had been there last year, tucked between the food trucks to sell  my books. It had been a very good sales day for a variety of reasons. 1.) The Arcanum Faire books are set in Arcanum in Darke County and many locals can’t believe somebody actually wrote a book about their boring little town.  2.) I was tucked between the food trucks where potential readers were already clutching money in their fists. 3.) The heroes were ren faire performers and jousters just like the competitors on the list who valiantly fought to hold off the end of the world. 4.) I was between the food trucks.

I was not exactly engaged and enthusiastic Saturday morning. After my bout with pneumonia a few years, seasonal allergies easily escalated up to asthma and fatigue. My recently increased levels of antidepressants weren’t picking up the slack yet, either. Promises had been made to unknown fans on the Internet, so there was an obligation to attend even if there had been minimal contact with organizersI slowly assembled my books, tent, and other accoutrements and pointed my car towards the nearest gas station that excepted my fuel rewards card.

That is where I received my first sign that the Universe wasn’t in support of my quest. At the gas station, the card reader declined all of the debit cards in my wallet. Only someone who has ninety-nine per cent of their assets existing only as data in financial data banks can appreciate the fleeting terror of that moment. I did finally register a hand-written sign on building’s door which read: NO DEBIT/CREDIT. Through some glitch of technology, all of their card readers, inside and out, were useless. The ATM outside the building worked just fine. I was able to buy my gas the way my nineteenth century ancestors did, with cold hard cash.

Trusting that to be the worst thing to happen to me that morning, I fired up Google Maps to guide me around the streets closed for maintenance between me and the freeway. Thus commenced a leisurely tour of the neighborhoods around the OSU campus as my phone demanded multiple U-turns and normal turns onto paths that were blocked to me.  Resetting the device, enhanced with vigorous bouts of harsh language, did no good until I noticed the projected time for an eighty-six mile trip would take nine hours and forty-seven minutes. For reasons unknown to Goddess and Science, my phone and Google believed I was on a bicycle.

At nearly the time I had been hoping to arrive, Kreatur and I left Columbus. The trip had all the minor annoyances common to a road trip in Central Ohio, but nothing as irredeemably odd as my earlier difficulties. The high point was my bird of omen. For the longest time I had felt a strong affinity for hawks and eagles, even before a sparrowhawk flew down my chimney for me to capture. (it was released, no need to track me down ODNR)

Off to my right was a red-tail hawk in flight with a snake in its beak. I thought the sign augured well for my day at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Either that, or I was destined to found an Aztec empire in a new Tenochtilan.

The torrential rains from the night before must have frightened off many of the attendees. Some of the arena was still a mud pit, and the junior jousters set to run through their paces a nine a.m. were just getting started in the afternoon as I arrived. The crowd was only a third of the previous year’s size. They looked to be families that had spent almost all of their money on horses, armor, and jousting lessons.

There were no food trucks.

I stuck around until the wind folded up my tent for me, but it proved to be a very disappointing sales. I hold my chin up and keep chugging. There is still a good chance of my building a stone pyramid in the jungle and cutting out the hearts of my enemies at its summit.

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