Splatterpunk Awards and More

After attending my first two KillerCon Austin events virtually, I’m looking forward to participating in my first in-person event in August. Unlike 2020 and 2021, this time I’ll be there as a Splatterpunk Award nominee for my single-author collection, May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding. First and foremost, of course, I’ll be there as a fan of the splatterpunk and extreme horror genres, but just as in 2021, I’m also there to represent Madness Heart Press, Godless, and myself. I’m proud to be a part of the constantly growing community of transgressive horror writers, publishers, and distributors. There’s more warmth and acceptance in this community than in the maggot-filled and bloated stomach of a week-old corpse left in the sun.
The imposter syndrome kicked in almost immediately, forcing me to wonder how or why I’d even be on the same shortlist with authors like Chris Miller, Aron Beauregard, Jasper Bark, and others far more deserving. I’ve read and reviewed multiple titles in various categories for the upcoming Splatterpunk Awards, so I’m well aware of just how good these other writers are. While I don’t expect to win against such steep competition, I’m satisfied to be included.
It’s been an amazing year for me since this time in 2021. First, I signed with Madness Heart Press to publish my novella, You Will Be Consumed, while simultaneously becoming part of the small family John Baltisberger has assembled there. A few months later, I took the plunge and joined the Godless community with my short story, Horseplay, discovering another family of perverse, depraved, and intensely supportive individuals. In August of 2021, I released my new collection of short fiction, May Cause Unexplained Ocular Bleeding, for which I am now a Splatterpunk Award-nominated author. As the end of the year approached, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my stories published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing for the 45th issue of Dark Moon Digest. And now, I’m a nominee for a Splatterpunk Award.
The coming year has some great things in store too, and I’m not even sure if there’s a way to top what I already have behind me, but I’m damn sure going to try.
I’m looking forward to being more intimately involved in the Godless community in the relatively near future, with new releases that I hope will shock and surprise, not only because of the content but for the range that I’m hoping to put on display. I’ve also got my next novel, Beneath the Unspoiled Wilderness, coming from Madness Heart Press later this year. The rest is more vague and nebulous, but there’s more coming, and I hope I manage to find new readers and make new friends along the way.
It’s strange, but I don’t know if any of this would have happened if I hadn’t opted to attend the virtual KillerCon Austin in 2020. The people I met during that virtual convention have been some of the kindest, most interesting, entertaining, supportive and encouraging folks I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and they’ve been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today, whether they know it or not.

https://www.briankeene.com/home/2022-splatterpunk-award-nominees

Fun With Haiku

I saw a call for Canadian writers to submit horror haikus the other day. Unfortunately, I am not Canadian…because it sounded like fun. I was between newscasts–I direct newscasts for our local ABC affiliate Monday through Friday–and I decided I should see just how dark and awful I could get with the haiku template.

That was how it started…but not how it would end.

There were more–many more.

Just when I thought I might be finished, I had to keep going with a couple late additions.

I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I’ve enjoyed leading you.

You Will Be Consumed Preorder

There’s less than a month to go until my novella, You Will Be Consumed, is released by Madness Heart Press.

This bizarro/splatterpunk novella will serve as an introduction for many of you to a shared world for a handful of upcoming novels, novellas, and short stories…the world of The Hungering Void. Welcome to a world where gods are not what we’ve long believed them to be, where demons might not be the bad guys, and where the very fabric of reality appears to be deteriorating. Elements of cosmic horror and splatterpunk meld together to create a phantasmagoric tale of nightmare becoming our reality.

In this novella, you’ll be introduced to detectives Lauren (Ren) Thomas and Martin Garcia as they investigate a surge of strange homicides taking place in and around Denver, Colorado. You’ll also meet Stephen Lee, the medical examiner who unfortunately has to help them unravel the mystery surrounding these peculiar and gruesome murders. These flawed and all-too-human characters are faced with reality-defying crimes that might just push them beyond the edge of sanity.

The novella is presently available to preorder in Kindle format through Amazon. You can’t help but love that cover artwork designed by John Baltisberger of MHP. He did a fantastic job of designing not only the cover art, but also the interior layout.

You can also preorder either digital or paperback editions of the novella directly through the Madness Heart Press website linked below.

This will not be the end of the story. You can expect to see Ren and Martin in future releases as they continue what could be an impossible battle to restore some amount of sanity to the world they find themselves struggling to understand.

Additionally, my short story, Yeshua and Adonai is available in Kindle format, providing a different sort of introduction to the world of The Hungering Void.

Writing Update

Attending virtual KillerCon Austin last August was a massive turning point in my life…in ways that are only now becoming clear to me.

Chatting with Carver Pike (and discussing his experiences with respect to self-publishing) was what led me to pull the trigger on putting my novel, Innocence Ends, out there, after designing the cover art and all that jazz.

Watching a panel with Lisa Lee Tone was what led me to perusing her numerous book reviews and deciding that it might be worthwhile to send her a copy for review purposes.

Interacting with John Baltisberger during and after the con (and seeing how hard he worked to keep everything running during the virtual con) led me to explore a good deal of the Madness Heart Press catalog…in addition to inspiring a great deal of respect for the man and how much he was willing to put into the things he cared about.

Each of these things sort of fed into one another and produced a sort of cascade effect that is making me happier and more content with my life. I owe each of those three people a massive debt of gratitude…a debt that keeps on growing.

I would not be where I am right now, with a novella to be published by MHP and more work hopefully soon to follow, were it not for the fantastic KillerCon experience.It’s just funny how something done mostly for fun can change one’s life…in my case, definitely for the better.

Work In Progress #2 [Another Bit of Action]

The shotgun deafeningly tears through the woman’s legs, shredding everything near the knees and bringing her body to the ground.
The body doesn’t lay still for long. Only seconds after hitting the ground it is already struggling to drag its broken form back onto devastated legs. The words horrifying and pitiful mesh together in his head as he is forced to consider what he’s seeing while he watches the mindless creature desperately trying to accomplish the impossible just to get at him and presumably rip him to pieces with teeth and fingers that are already torn so badly that bone is protruding dangerously from some fingertips.
Mercy and anger urge the same reaction as he levels the barrel at the snarling face of the thing clumsily pulling itself towards him and he presses his index finger against the trigger. A mist of bone and blood, brain and flesh spreads out and paints the asphalt behind it as rhe woman flops dead to the pavement.
He stands there, staring down at the mess laying at his feet for a moment longer before tucking the gun against his chest and darting across the street hoping that he can distance himself from the scene before any of the other residents are drawn there by the shots he fired.

Work In Progress #1 (first draft snippet)

There was no choice anymore, not as far as he was concerned. He had to go back again, to return to a home that felt utterly alien and forbidding, a place he thought he had left behind a long time ago with the intent to never return.
That unspeakable damned thing was still there, churning beneath the surface of everything that had once seemed so familiar and innocent to him; everything that he had grown up with, everything that he had known and loved as a child, until the brittle facade of safety and normalcy was torn away and he had been forced to stare, slack jawed and terrified into the unknown and unholy reality that riddled the substrate.
Nestled there in the foothills, it seemed like such a typical (almost wholesome) small town environment; a bit of early settlement history mingled with that of the indigenous people of the region, some mom & pop businesses, and an old discontinued gypsum mine that hadn’t been active since before he was born.
His childhood had been filled with an abundance of nature and plenty of outdoor activities; strange that it was the hideous, formless aspect of some of that very nature that most concerned him and plagued him, even decades later, with nightmares.
It had killed again, after being dormant and apparently harmless for all those intervening years. It had been disturbed, foolishly, by one of his childhood friends, another victim of the unwelcome knowledge that this thing existed beneath the feet of the couple hundred residents of their hometown.
What had gotten into that fucking idiot’s head? He asked himself that question over and over again as he prepared to return home for the funeral. The strange circumstances surrounding the death were clear enough that he had some idea what had happened, it was the ‘why’ of it all that troubled him. He damn well intended to find out the answer.
He hated being back in South Dakota; that was why he had moved to the West coast in the first place, just to distance himself from the Midwest in general. Plus, distance from the region provided him with distance from that fucking thing that he knew was still down there, lurking in the earth.
For all he knew, those things were everywhere, some nameless organism that had eluded discovery, but he didn’t care. He knew of this one with certainty, and he gladly subscribed to the perspective that what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. He was blissfully and willfully ignorant of any such things that might be residing beneath the surface of the Oregon home that he loved so dearly.
Here he was though, back in the white trash fantasy camp wasteland that he grew up with, and he just wanted to go back home.

Forgotten Dreams Lost Along the Way

When I enrolled in college as a double major, studying physics and chemistry, it was with grand, lofty dreams of working for JPL…after which I intended to travel to the UK and spend some time at Reading University, working in cybernetics. I wanted to transition from my dual majors to a Ph.D program in nanoscience & nanoengineering…education and expertise which I could utilize in efforts to develop artificial organs for transplant, better organs than those that we are born with, ones that could extend life indefinitely.
Instead I only made it three years into my undergraduate studies before real life got in the way…working full-time, raising children full-time, and attending college as well; it was simply too much to have on my plate, something had to give, and my higher education was being placed on the back burner far too often. My GPA was suffering, my ability to focus on necessary studies as well, and there was really no choice but to ultimately leave school…something that I really did not want to do, but schedules were too much in conflict.
Here I am, waiting to see the Mars landing, reminiscing about the dreams that I had for my future not altogether so long ago. My girlfriend received notice today that she was on the Dean’s List for her school where she is studying to be a medical assistant, and I was reminded of how I never had the requisite attention to put toward my education to do the same. I am reminded of how far short I have fallen from what I wanted for myself, what everyone seemed to believe I was capable of being.
Chandra wants me to cut down my hours to part-time and enroll in school again after she’s finished with her own school and gotten into a career where she is earning adequate income to compensate for the decrease on my end. I worry that I still won’t have what it takes…but I would do my best not to let her (or myself) down.
I wonder where my future will lead. I returned to my first love, writing…and I feel satisfied as hell doing so…if only I could really get back to it with as much focus and discipline as I need. I don’t know what to do, but I know that I need to do it.
That’s all…just some random thoughts for the night.
Land well on Mars, you beautiful piece of elegant machinery. Make us proud and increase our knowledge and understanding of the universe we’re such an insignificant part of. I am watching, and so are many others.

Thinking About the Future

I have spent a little while deliberating with myself…trying to determine the best way that I can manage to frame a proposal…proposal for marriage, that is.
Something romantic, something sweet, something that might even bring tears to her eyes.
I want to do this right. I want to make it something that she will treasure and look back upon with unparalleled fondness for the rest of her life.
I have plenty of time left to think about this particular subject…there won’t be an engagement until she and I both have finalized divorces, and I still won’t be able to afford the ring that she deserves until some time after that, I’m sure…not without some major changes in my financial status.
I keep wishing that I could do something worthwhile to change my life in a fairly expedient manner, something to make me feel more worthy of her choosing to spend her life with me. I know that she is happy with me just the way that I am, and I can’t begin to express the gratitude that I feel for that…but I want to give her the life that I know she deserves, and to be able to provide the degree of comfort and happiness that I want us to all share as a family. I really need to get more writing done, and it needs to be fucking spectacular…because there is no other way that I could conceive of that I might be able to build the sort of life that I want for us. It won’t matter when people don’t even read what I’ve already written…I wish that I could be taken seriously as an author, but it doesn’t feel like that is happening.
I’ve gotten off track though.
I want to be in a position to give her the wedding that she deserves. I want us to have a lovely little vacation for our honeymoon. I want to be able to take actual vacations as a family…to places outside of South Dakota. I really want to have a better life than the one I have been living, to provide my children and my future wife (and her children as well) with a better life than I had…and so far I have been doing a less than stellar job of that.
It’s a moot point though, I can want in one hand and shit in the other…and we know which one will fill up first. I am putting the cart before the horse anyhow…I need to figure out how to propose to her before I worry about putting together the right wedding for us…or any sort of honeymoon.
Anyone who has any suggestions…I am happy to hear them.

And Now for Something Completely Different.

Losing my job of two and a half years on June 28th was a profound surprise for me, especially the reasons and justifications that were brought to the table as impetus for the termination. It seems like some people simply can’t be trusted, no matter how much they seem to be something akin to “friends” in a working relationship context.
People will lie and manipulate where they can, they will take things that were said and rip them from the proper context in which they were shared (including their own parts in the conversations in question)…and they will hang you out to dry even when there is no apparent purpose or benefit involved aside from the sheer pleasure of doing so.
I’m not particularly bitter about it, I know enough about human nature to take that in stride and feel nothing more than trace amounts of disdain for the individuals who took my name and rubbed it in filth and shit. People do those things, even to people that they like and respect…or maybe I am wrong in suspecting that I was actually liked and respected by those persons involved. Life goes on.
I needed to get away from that place anyhow. I had been wanting to change careers for a solid year or more, but I have a propensity for becoming complacent and comfortable where I shouldn’t…and this was one of those scenarios.
I wanted out, I wanted something different, I was unhappy and unsatisfied there, and I actually found myself dreading the hours that I was going to be spending there…but let’s be honest, I wasn’t going to quit anytime soon.
I’m trying to use this negative turn of events as something beneficial, a forced opportunity to turn things around.
I start a new job this coming Tuesday, after less than three weeks of being unemployed…and I am cautiously optimistic about the transition. I can look forward to no real drop in rate of pay and no substantial decrease in the quality of benefits that are available, on top of which I am finally able to look forward to no longer working into or through the middle of the night for the first time in more than a decade.
Hopefully it will be conducive to my ability to write, not working the odd hours that I had been for so long…but that is another thing I am cautiously optimistic about.
Besides, I have a lovely and supportive girlfriend that I intend to marry not so far down the road…and how could I help but be optimistic with her in my life?