Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ants in the Potato Salad: Stay-Home-Fatherhood Ain't No Picnic in the Park!

Since my lay-off earlier this month, I have been taking on the responsibilities of a stay-at-home father. I had no earthly idea that this simple(?) duty ranked right up there with other fun and easy occupations such as septic tank waste management, Hell's Angel biker bar bouncer, and Tasmanian Devil wrangler.

Aw, I reckon it ain't quite that bad... at least not during the afternoons. Running to school and daycare to pick up the young'uns is kind of a breezy get-out-of-the-house-into-the-warm-sunshine deal. It's getting the kids up in the morning, fed, dressed, and to their proper places in childhood society that is an entirely different matter.

It starts rather early in the AM. After writing, answering emails, and checking out the various horror discussion boards for a couple of hours, I rouse the household at 6AM on the dot... first my wife, then my oldest daughter, and then the two little 'uns. Hustling Joyce into the shower, I prepare breakfast. It's nothing very elaborate, I assure you. No Iron Chef with matching asbestos apron mans the Kelly kitchen. Usually it consists of Toaster Struddles (or Toaster Screwddles, as Makenna calls them), Pop-Tarts, or frozen pancakes or waffles. The quicker and easier the better. Sometimes I'll get a wild hair and fix instant muffins or a fried egg and bacon sandwich on toast, but normally those time-consuming meals are reserved for the more liesurely weekend.

Since my presence in the morning household has given my wife, Joyce, more liberty, she has taken to leaving around 7AM or a little after. That leaves me to get three kids of various ages and degrees of temperment ready for school and daycare. I had originally intended to keep baby Ryan home with myself during my lay-off, but I'm having to pay full price to keep his spot open in a very demanding and competitive daycare setting, so, heck, I'm taking the little guy. Hope that doesn't make me out to be a mean, ol' Da-Da in your critical eyes.

My oldest daughter, Reilly, is fully capable of getting herself ready at the resourceful age of ten, yet it is she of the bunch that gets screamed at the most during the mad dash for school-readiness. Uh, let me rephrase that... "scream" is a bad word. "Strongly urged with great passion that borders insanity" is more like it. After about six times, a request (Brush your hair! Brush your teeth! Put on your sneakers and not those danged Crocs!) slowly sinks into her head and she becomes motivated. Of course this usually happens two and half minutes before time to leave.

Getting eleven-month-old Ryan and four-year-old Makenna ready is all up to yours truly. If Joyce hasn't laid out their clothes ahead of time, they are likely to show up at school or daycare wearing wrinkled Dora the Explorer t-shirts, camouflauge pants (backwards!), and mismatched socks. I am convinced that an evil sock troll lives in my utility room whose only purpose in the grand scheme of things is to torment Ol' Ron by devouring one sock and leaving the matching one behind. I hope he dies horribly and long-sufferingly of a lint tumor. Anyway, both Ryan and Makenna must go to their respective places clean (or so my wife insists!). This involves the assembly-line washing of faces, armpits, and butts. If it looks clean, I take it as such. I ain't about to go sniffing around to make sure everyone's bodily crevices are minty-fresh.

Then when hair is combed, teeth are brushed, and winter coats are donned, we have to make sure that backpacks (with homework included) are in the car and the kids are properly restrained... using seat belts, of course. Then we're off! I'm backing the Nissan out of the driveway, slinging gravel, scaring squirrels into coronaries and sending every bird in sight South for the winter... and I mean to Antarctica, so furious is my exit from the Kelly property. The school doors open at 7:20 and I usually make it there around that time. Then it's off to daycare another four miles further on. There I kiss Ryan goodbye, pass him to the babyroom worker like a Tennessee Titans quarterback launching a pigskin in the last five seconds of the game, then its back in the car and heading for home. This drive along tranquil and picturesque country roads is always a therapeutic time of day for me; full of numbing relief and an almost dream-like euphoria, with great hopes and expectations for what may be accomplished within the "Ron Time" of 8AM and 1:45 PM. Oh joy and endless rapture!

The funny thing is (and I mean funny strange, not funny humorous) that, prior to my lay-off, Joyce has been doing the entire mad morning ritual by herself... and getting to work on time.
And this includes taking Ryan to daycare first, doubling back to school four miles, then heading onward to her bank job at Carthage eight miles away

I've lately had the strong suspicion that my wife is Wonder Woman. She has just neglected to reveal her true identity to me during these past 18 years of marriage. I knew there was something more to that magic lasso bit than some kinky... uh, well, let's not open that can of worms right now.

My wife... I think I'll keep her! That is, if she'll return the favor.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Famous Monsters Interviews Ronald Kelly!

As you folks may know by now, Ol' Ron just loves Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. I loved it when it was out on the newstands when I was a kid and religiously read it every month. In turn, its essence still remains within me with each word of Southern-Fried horror I write. I've penned several posts on the Southern-Fried & Horrified blog in tribute to FMOF... both to the magazine itself and the man who founded and edited it for the majority of its duration, the late Forrest J. Ackerman, or Uncle Forry to his horror-loving nephews and nieces.

So how did you think it made me feel when the literary editor of the new Famous Monsters website contacted me and asked to arrange an interview. Why as proud as peacock and downright surprised! So Peter Schwotzer came up with some very insightful and fun questions, which ended up as one of the best interviews I've done since returning to the horror genre. And, in the wake of CD's announcement of my two books Midnight Grinding and Hell Hollow, it is now up and live at the FMOF website.

You can check it out here: http://famousmonstersoffilmland.com/category/news

The folks at Famous Monsters are on top of all the news that has to do with the horror and science fiction industry -- books, films, etc. -- so they make frequent posts as exciting news breaks. So if my interview isn't at the top of the page, just scroll down, or check the sidebar to your right to find its listing.

Again, a very special thanks to Peter and the folks at Famous Monsters for making another one of my dreams come true... to finally appear beneath the gruesome banner of FAMOUS MONSTERS!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cemetery Dance Announces Midnight Grinding & Hell Hollow!

Finally, after nearly two and half years, it has finally happened! Cemetery Dance Publications has officially announced two of my books, Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors and Hell Hollow.

Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors is my first short story collection and a whopper of one to boot! 32 stories in all, this collection spans most of the short fiction of my horror writing career between 1986 and 1996. There are stories from such horror magazines of the small press's Golden Era as Deathrealm, Grue, 2 AM, Eldritch Tales, After Hours, New Blood, and Cemetery Dance. There are stories from major anthologies as well; Hot Blood, Cold Blood, Shock Rock, The Earth Strikes Back, Borderlands, and Dark At Heart. To round things out, there are three totally unpublished tales exclusive to this collection. This book includes an introduction and afterword by Ol' Ron himself and fantastically creepy cover art by master horror artist Alex McVey. Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors is now available and ready for shipping!

Hell Hollow is my first original novel to be published in thirteen years. It's a big 'un, too, weighing in at a hefty 500 pages. Hell Hollow is the story of an ancient evil, lost and forgotten, within the deep, dark depths of a backwoods basin known as Hell Hollow. When that evil is released by an escaped murderer and rapist, it returns in an abominable incarnation of Doctor Augustus Leech, a traveling medicine show man who intentionally poisoned several children of the Tennessee town of Harmony in the early 1900's. When Dr. Leech begins his campaign to exact vengeance on the residents of Harmony, four children, bored with the summer dooldrums, stumble upon his awful intentions and prepare to do battle with him. That is, only if they escape the individual nightmare worlds that Leech has subjected them to with a deck of horrible dream cards dealt straight from the hand of the Devil himself.

Hell Hollow also boasts nightmarish cover art by Alex McVey. This book is still at the printer, but should be ready for shipment in summer of 2009. It is now available for pre-order from Cemetery Dance.

Good News! Cemetery Dance is offering customers a special offer! Order one book and you will receive a $10 coupon toward a future Cemetery Dance purchase. Order both books and you will receive a coupon for a $25 credit. Sounds like a danged good deal to me!

You can take advantage of this special offer through the following link:


I reckon you don't need me to tell you that today has been a heck of an exciting day for Ol' Ron. After a dismal few days -- the kids and myself sick with the crude and myself laid off from work for an indefinite period of time -- today's events have put me back on track again. I feel like I'm on top of the world!

Hope y'all check out Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors and Hell Hollow. Honestly, I believe these two books -- nearly 1,000 pages of Southern-Fried horror -- are some of the best work I've had published so far. And I promise you, from here on out, the darkness of Dixie only gets darker and more depraved...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Stocking Full of Goosebumps: Appalachian Holiday Hauntings

As you folks know, I absolutely love Christmas. And while it's quite a few months until the next one rolls around, I've just contributed work to a very unique project that appeals to that yuletide spirit that dwells within me, as well as my passion for Southern folklore and ghost stories.

Micheal Knost and Mark Justice are putting together an anthology of Christmas ghost tales called Appalachian Holiday Hauntings. This collection will feature traditional ghost stories set in the Appalachian Mountain region. Just think Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with a rustic Appalachian backdrop. When I was invited to contribute to this anthology, I of course jumped at the chance. I have a passion for writing ghost stories (almost a forgotten resource in the horror genre today) and the Appalachian setting appealed to me as well. My story The Peddler's Journey takes place in the Tennessee Appalachians during the Great Depression. This will make the second full-fledged ghost story I've penned since my return to horror. The first was Cumberland Furnace, which just appeared in Shivers 5, now available from Cemetery Dance Publications. I'm not quite sure why my interest in writing old-fashioned tales of wandering spirits has resurfaced so strongly. I reckon it goes way back to all those deliciously spooky ghost stories that my grandmother used to tell me on her front porch when I was a young'un.

For those of you who might have a Christmas ghost story of your own in mind, Appalachian Holiday Hauntings is an open anthology. You may submit work through this address: xmasanthology@yahoo.com. Michael and Mark are looking for stories between 1,000 and 3,000 words. They are asking for no explicit language or sexual content, since this project will be in regional school systems. Also, no tales that disrespect or alter the religious aspects of the holiday. The deadline for submissions is Sept.1, 2009.

Appalachian Holiday Hauntings will be released by Woodland Press in November of 2009. I'm really looking forward to seeing what tales of ghostly Christmases, past and present, the other authors in this anthology come up with.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Victim of the Times... or a Blessing in Disguise?

Yesterday I got laid...

Uh, off, that is.

Now there's no need to panic. Don't go feeling sorry for poor Ol' Ron. Let there be no weeping or wailing or gnashing of teeth. This was a voluntary lay-off. I'll be drawing a check from Uncle Sam and keeping my health insurance. It's only supposed to be for 30 days. Then I'll be going back... if my plant is still open. The company has closed down two plants in the last couple of months, and we haven't exactly been making money hand-over-fist.

I took their offer because, well frankly, it's better than what I had before. Driving twenty miles into work at six o'clock in the morning and having to clock out at eleven, if I was lucky. Heck, I only got in 11 hours last week. You can't take care of a wife and three young'uns on pocket change.

So now I'll stick around the house here for a while and keep my fingers crossed that things will get better at work. Maybe I'll keep Ryan at home with me a couple days a week and save a few bucks on daycare and do some chores around the house. Who knows? This may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

And I can write! Lord knows, I need the opportunity to do that. It seems like in the last few weeks I've been swamped with anthology and short story requests, which is a good thing (you'll hear no complaints from me on that point). I have three or four projects in the works with Cemetery Dance alone. They even invited me to write a Signature Series book, which I'm downright excited about. And the Somewhere South of Hell anthology is beefing up beautifully. I just accepted some great stories from James Newman, John Hornor Jacobs, Scott Nicholson, and Jason Brannon. Nate Southard sent me one last night that I'm chomping at the bit to read. And I've got to sit down and work up a proposal for a brand-new novel.

So it ain't like I'll be sitting around the house on my butt watching Days of Our Lives or Oprah. I've got plenty to occupy my time. And in the meantime, I'll pray that this economic stimulus deal works a Jesus-sized miracle and pulls us all out of this deep, dark hole we've dug for ourselves. I ain't gonna hold my breath though. You could bust a blood vessel that way.

If y'all need me, you know where I am.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Now Showing At The Horror Drive-In

I have fond memories of going to the drive-in theatre when I was a kid. Around 1965 to 1968, we would make it a Friday night tradition, heading to a particular drive-in located in West Nashville. There we'd take in a double-feature, the family turning my father's two-toned '56 Chevy into a living room on wheels. I remember seeing some good ones there -- along with some not so good ones... classics like Goldfinger, Blackbeard's Ghost, the Ghost and Mr. Chicken, among others. I remember Mama smuggling in the snacks and drinks because we couldn't afford to buy popcorn and candy at the concession stand. I also remember my brother and I changing into our jammies just before the beginning of the second feature. Most of the time, we were sound asleep before the ending credits and the slow exodus from the drive-in's exit gate.
When I decided to start writing horror fiction again, I found that the various horror message boards and forums on the internet were valuable in spreading the word about my comeback and to find out horror reader's likes and dislikes. I began to congregate on several, but found many of them to be more like unrestrained forums for political and anti-religion tyrads than for the serious discussion of horror fiction and film. Then I came across a gem of a website. Mark Sieber's Horror Drive-In.
There was something distinctly different about this forum. There was no pretentiousness or disrespect involved in any of the message board posts; no ranting and raving of folks declaring "Hey, look at the stink I can stir up!". No, this site seemed to be built upon a sturdy foundation of respect and a mutual love for the horror genre. And Mark's essays on the home page were always thought-provoking and fun to read. So I decided to make it one of my regular hang-outs in cyberspace... much like the real drive-in of my youth had been a Friday night hang-out back when I was kid.
Like alot of websites, Horror Drive-In has had its ups and downs. There was even a point a few months ago when there was the real possiblity that my favorite discussion forum would shut down, due to some personal problems in Mark's life. But the fans and supporters of HD-I rallied and, now, the website is alive and well and flourishing. Mark has recieved some excellent help keeping the Drive-In running with help from Andy Monge and, together, they have put together a brand-new feature that should bring even more fans of horror and suspense pulling through the ticket booth of Horror Drive-In... except that this feature is absolutely free to the reading public.
The Horror Drive-In Original Fiction section just started on February 9th to much anticipation and fanfare. I am very pleased and proud to be the first author to have their work appear there. My story The Final Feature is now on-line and ready for your reading pleasure (hopefully!), along with a mini-interview by Mark Sieber himself. The Final Feature is a departure for Ol' Ron; a dark comedy with a few laughs and a bit of naughtiness thrown in for good measure. I hope y'all enjoy it.
You can check it out at:
Mark and Andy will be bringing the readers even more great fiction from other established authors in the genre in the coming months, so be sure to make the Horror Drive-In a regular stop when surfing the net. Being a big fan myself, I can't wait to see who they have lined up next.
Enjoy the movie... and make sure you unhook the speaker from your car door before leaving the lot.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Dream Becomes Reality: My First Hardcover Book

This week has been a very encouraging and exciting one for Ol' Ron, career-wise.

There has been alot of cool stuff happening. Two stories accepted for various anthologies. A new story out in the recently-released Shivers 5 and another story to appear in print next week. The Sick Stuff placing #3 on the Horror Mall Pre-Order Best Seller list and TSS being carried by yet another big book distributor. A highly-respected small press publisher calling to ask me to submit work for three seperate projects.

And then there's the book I now hold in my hand.

I knew it was coming. The publisher emailed me and told me they were sending it to my doorstep. And that's where I found it last night, left by my friendly UPS driver. I'd been out and about all day; first to Nashville to talk to an eye surgeon (more about that in a blog later) and then to get my taxes done. When we pulled into the driveway around eight o'clock and the headlights splashed across the side porch and that brown box leaning against the door, Joyce and the kids started screaming excitedly. I was more restrained than they were... on the outside that was. On the inside, my heart was pounding wildly and I felt a little lighthead, almost like I was going to pass out. You see, I've been waiting for this particular book for a long, long time. It has been a dream of mine since way back yonder... during my first career in horror writing.

I look at it now, hold it in my hands, even breathe in that delicious book smell, and still it's hard to believe that it's finally here. It's the first copy printed -- a test copy sent to the publisher by the printer for final approval -- but it is, in every way, the book that the reading public will soon be holding in their own hands. It's a fine piece of work, beautiful in design, inside and out. The dust jacket rendered by one of the genre's leading artists, the book itself with its Smyth-sewn binding, the embossed true cover... all are first rate. Oh, I've had work appear in hardcover before, but only as one of many contributors in several anthologies back in the early 90's. This one is different. It has my name and my name alone on it. On the cover, the spine, the title page, in the righthand margin of each page. Every sentence and word, every comma, period, and semi-colon are distinctly Ron Kelly. Powerful stuff, seeing your name on a book like that. Both humbling and ego-stoking at the same time. A nice, comfortable balance, if you ask me.

And it's a big 'un, too. A hoss of a book with a whopping 424 pages. You could flatten someone's skull with the thing, it's so hefty. But it's what is inside that truly counts... to myself and, hopefully, to my fans, old and new.

Lordy Mercy! I can't believe it's really here in the flesh... so to speak. Or did I say that already?

Which book am I talking about? I've had several in production for quite a while. Well now, I ain't gonna tell you that. It's a surprise. You'll find out its identity within the next two weeks when the publisher makes the official announcement. Until then, I'll cradle this beautiful hardcover tome like a father holding his baby... which, in a way, it truly is.

A creepy, horrifying baby with a nasty bite to it... but my baby just the same.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A New Masthead... Compliments of JHJ!

Hey, check out the cool masthead my good pal, John Hornor Jacobs (exclude the Jingle Heimer Schmidt, please) worked up for me.

I really like it. It has a rugged Southern feeling to it, with a touch of Old West in the font. The frying pan was partly my idea, but I suggested a sizzling skillet of eyeballs and brains. John -- an art designer by trade, and a danged good one -- went one better, adding a delicious curl of crispy bacon (yum!) and a fried egg whose yoke has expressed itself as an ominous death's head. This seems much more appropriate than my suggestion, since seeing fortunes in the albumen and yokes of eggs is old, deep magic... or so that's what John tells me.

I'm not the only one JHJ has been working his graphic magic for, though. He's been hopping around the internet like some deranged and overly-furry Easter Bunny, hatching rotten eggs into fluffy scrambled goodness of the masthead variety. Along with the Southern-Fried & Horrified blog, he's supplied cool mastheads for Kent Allard's DEAD IN THE SOUTH and A DISORDERED MIND blogs, his own THE BASTARDIZED VERSION, and Erik Williams' ANGRY PENGUINS & DRUNKEN MONKIES (isn't that a bodacious name for a blog?) among others.

Besides being a first-rate art designer, JHJ is a danged good writer of Southern horror and suspense. Just wait till you read his story "Old Dogs, New Tricks" that I accepted for my SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF HELL anthology. It's so good, it'll make you want to kick your dog (or run away from it, screaming at the top of your lungs). He's also penned a novel, SOUTHERN GODS, that I'm halfway through and thoroughly engrossed in. Some insightful publisher would be wise to search out JHJ pronto and latch onto SG... before someone even wiser beat them to the punch.

Yeah, that ol' John is a talented feller. Writer, artist, blogger, musician... you name it, he dabbles in it. Ya'll can check him out at www.bastardizedversion.blogspot.com.

Thanks for the masthead, JHJ. I'd say it fits me to a tee.