Archive for the General Category

WHC 2012 (Utah, Here We Come…)

Posted in Appearances, Books, General, News on March 28, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

It’s been a loooooooong while since I posted here on the blog. And yes, I feel guilty. And yes, unaccomplished. But, alas, I’ve been going through some stuff (medical woes) and it’s kind of got me bogged down…

My plan is to get back to the daily (well, mostly daily) blogs soon, but in the meantime, I’ve got a little news to fill the void…

World Horror Convention 2012 is in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the end of this week (we fly out tomorrow). The event, chock full of panels, and cool readings, and all things horror, and literary, and awesome, should be a real blast. The convention is also playing host to the HWA’s annual Bram Stoker Awards (in their 25th year!). It so happens my novella 7BRAINS is up for an award (though I expect to be thoroughly stomped by the competition). Cool, huh?

For those hoping to meet up, or check in, or say hi to Michelle, or watch me embarrass myself, I’m on a panel about supernatural freakiness and then I’m giving a reading. The rest of the convention, we’ll be doing the rounds, networking, selling books, sigining books, and fingers crossed, making some new deals. There are also a bunch of nightly parties. Providing I’m feeling up to it, the plan is to attend a few of them.

Here’s my schedule – see you on the other side!


Thursday – Arriving!

Friday – Enjoying the convention…

8:00PMMass Autograph Signing with a billion other authors. Come pay me some attention why don’t you?

Saturday -1:00PM – I’ll be sitting in on a panel called, The Supernatural in Fiction. Why it fascinates us and its place in horror and other genres of fiction. Come watch me put my foot in my mouth! 😉

2:00PM – I’ll be reading from a variety of works and hamming it up (most likely focusing on 7BRAINS since it’s up for a Stoker). I promise to entertain you. Also, I’ll raffle off some books! The chaos takes place in ROOM I.


And that’s that. Hope to see you all there!!!

Here’s the full schedule of programming as well…



My Cup Runneth Over

Posted in Books, General, News, Rants on March 7, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

My damn DVR is damn screwy when it’s nearing full. You miss one long weekend, Thursday thru Sunday, off TV, on vacation, and it’s bloody hell catching up. And worse, the damned DVR starts bugging out.

Rather than watch evening TV (syndicated sitcoms), I’m trying to play catch-up with American Idol, but the DVR it seems would rather have some fun at my expense! Damn technology!

Sorry, I haven’t stayed on top of my blogs lately. If it’s any consolation, Loyal Reader, my classes are being neglected as well. Oh, and that little writing career thing I’ve got going? Yeah, it’s kicking my butt up and down the street (THERE IS SO DAMN MUCH TO DO!!!).

Thing is I a took a bit of a health dip. New medicine and the multitude of adjustments has got my body crazy. I even went to Urgent Care (which I hate because they keep you around for hours and hours over a half-hour issue). One of my main goals in getting well is packing on the calories! Laugh and scoff all you want, but it’s true, and it’s every bit as hard as trying to lose those last ten pounds. In any case, I started feeling bloated. I took some tums and drank prune juice, but the problem wouldn’t go. Eating is tough. I can’t seem to stomach anything. This is not good. I need my calories!

At Urgent Care they determined I needed a blood transfusion (chemo got me so low…) and that some of the bloat needed to be drained from my abdomen.

An ENTIRE day of waiting went by. The drainage procedure took ten minutes tops.

I gotta go back tomorrow for the standard chemo treatment. My stomach is still bloated, so we will hopefully figure a way to make it go away.

Hate to complain.

I do have some good news!

My latest novel, LAMBS, is currently up for pre-order from DarkFuse. They are only selling 100, limited edition hard covers (signed by moi). Hopefully folks catch on and it sells out soon. For those of you less inclined to collect, or drool, over beautifully produced books, LAMBS, is also available in all e-formats! Read with wild abandon – there’s no reason to fear mustard stains or cringe at broken spines!


 (I pity the fool that don’t order this book!)



Award Season

Posted in Books, General, News on February 20, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Award season is upon us, Loyal Reader! I love award season! The Academy, The Golden Globes, The Emmy, The Grammy, VH1 Special Awards, whatever, I’m hooked.

I write about pop culture because I like to read about pop culture. I went to the bathroom at my sister’s house and was pleased to discover she subscribes to PEOPLE. The magazine is written in such a conversational style, I often feel that it is talking directly to me. It’s a neat effect. Addictive, even.

In any case, in Horror Writer Land there are enough writers and readers to hold an annual, official, awards gala. It’s called The Bram Stoker Awards. Presented by the HWA, The Horror Writer’s Association, The Bram Stoker Awards is kind of like the Academy Awards for the Horror Writer Set. They’re fun and exciting for me and my people (what do you mean your people?). That I’ve been nominated three times helps. It’s actually my favorite award show on the planet, but I’m a bit biased.

(My people!)

My first novel, the nightmarish fever-dream, I WILL RISE, nabbed a Superior Achievement nomination for Best First Novel back in 2008 (for works from 2007). I lost. The competition was fierce. In the end, nothing could stop Joe Hill’s, debut, Heart-Shaped Box, from kicking IWR’s whiny butt all over the universe. The other two finalists hoping to best Hill, Mary SanGiovanni (The Hollower) and John Little (The Memory Tree), put out rock solid books as well.

The next year my short-story, Consumed (from Horror Library Vol.3), made the prelim, but didn’t advance any further. Same goes for the following year when my second novel, AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT, made it to the prelims, but not the final. That was a major bummer. I really, really dig I WILL RISE and I am grateful for the recognition its nomination brought it, but FATE is more of a personal, emotional book, it felt award worthy, but not enough people read it to make a dent and move it on to the final ballot. I’m looking forward to doing another edition in the future. Paperback and affordable so more folks can check it out. We’ll see…

Last year my collection, BLOOD & GRISTLE, got nominated. I was officially a two-time finalist. There was no way I could expect, or even want to beat Stephen King. There is no possible way my books are better. I like them. They do what they do well. They’re good, trust me Loyal Reader, my books are much prettier than this bloggy talk, they’ve got stuff to say (and designs to scare you). But, Stephen King? No way. He is like our modern-day Mark Twain. He is America.  That’s like me trying to write a song about America better than Bruce Springsteen.

(Much, much cooler than an Oscar!)

Now that 2012 is underway, we are set to honor the works published throughout 2011. So happens my novella 7BRAINS made the final ballot for Superior Achievement in the Long Fiction category. My competition isn’t just fierce. It’s ferocious. John Little (this makes Round 2 for John and I going head-to-head – we are forever locked in mortal combat!), Gene O’Neill, Peter StraubCaitlin Kiernan, Brain Hodge. Sheesh!

Best case scenario for moi? Everybody cancels and crosses each other out like the gunfight at the end of Reservoir Dogs and then I sneak away with the Haunted House like Mr. Pink with the diamonds (though I think he gets shot outside…)

If you haven’t given it a look yet, buy a copy of 7BRAINS. It’s $8! Cheap! And it’s short. You’ll jam through it.

Congrats to all those on the final ballot! Good luck to each and every one of you! Here’s the final ballot in all of its glory. Follow the link. Some great reading is represented…

Ever wondered how Horror Writer’s get down? Kinda of like this…

Hardly Working (Partying With My Eyes Closed)

Posted in General, Music, News on February 13, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

Oh boy, the older I get (proclaims I, of 37 years), the more likely I am to nap or go to bed early. Back in the day? Say, from fifteen to about thirty-five? I could party ALL NIGHT LONG! If I was invited to go check out an up-and-coming DJ with My Good DJ Friend and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue (yes, you read that right), no matter how late, I’d jump at the chance to go get wild on the dance floor (oh yeah, I got moves 😉 and mingle with the late night crowds.

But now?

Now, Loyal Reader, I’m all kinks and stiff creaks…

Now, I’d rather just slink away and get some good sleep…

Watching My Good DJ Friend and one of The Best Drummers in the World get ready to leave for their party, I start to think that I should reconsider and join them. Really. My wife and I have been invited. It’s the polite thing to do. When will we ever get the chance to hang out with Tommy Lee’s posse? I should take my lovely girl by the hand and sweat the night away, thumping to the bump of some soul-shaking bass. Hell, we’ve been through the dance scene before and though I feel a million miles from it, we’re still young and vibrant (thirty is the new twenty, right?). I should want to go get my groove on. We still own the night (right? Ha!). We still rule! (shout it loud!)

Alas, midnight does me in.

And the deeper the night gets, twelve-thirty, one AM, the more I find myself looking into my wife’s eyes and wishing we were both at home, curled up on the couch, watching our DVR. (Good gosh, I love my girl)

What have we become?

Damn you, responsibility!

Backing up some, Loyal Reader (BTW – how you been?), we just got back from Las Vegas wherein the little miss and I caught a flight, checked out Motley Crue’s killer Vegas show, then caught a flight back. It was a nice getaway. We had us some much needed fun.


(The force is strong with the Crue)


The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is a monolithic monument to music. Yeah there are slot machines and card tables and all that, but every square inch of the(visible) building is decorated with iconic memorabilia. Art installations adorn the walls, fill hollows, or free-stand in handsome glass cases. They display a huge array of artists, from Elvis Presley to Slipknot, with signed cymbals, and signed guitars, and signed, authentic drum heads, and signed photos with looping documentaries on video screens. I’m a huge sucker for music trivia and I loved taking it all in. The lights, no clocks, the layout, the ebb and flow of gamblers, the casino stranglehold, give the collection an endless feel – it looks much bigger than it actually is. Still, the pieces that they have on display are of museum quality. It’s more than a hotel, it’s a cultural experience!

Our room had a brooding picture of Elvis (which I’ve seen a million times before) and a nice framed bio on Blondie. Everything was leather and studded. Four goat skulls joined together in odd configurations on the wallpaper. All surfaces were slick and mirrored. It was a very manly look. Rob Halford would have been right at home I think.

Same goes for the whole place. It’s all very ROCK. And even cooler, what with Motley Crue’s residency (the band is playing the Hard Rock’s venue, The Joint, for three weeks), instead of oldies, and pesky kids, or annoying Vegas gambler types, there were lots of aging metal heads, lots of denim, and lots of faded tattoos. The clientale worked to authenticate the rock vibe.

Who ever dreamed up this residency idea is a genius. Especially at the Hard Rock where the marketing fuses with the decorum effortlessly (Motley Crue’s name and image is EVERYWHERE). This type of stint is nothing new, but generally you’d expect a Celine Dion or Cher type act. Rather than playing an indefinite gig (like our earnest divas), why not let rock bands set up shop for a month or two? I think more artists will follow in Motley Crue’s footsteps. Instead of touring, why not have the crowd come to you? Instead of breaking down the stage every night, why not build something special, put on a show, and play to a single room for a month or so? Forget traveling. It’s win-win for everybody involved.

The crowd in attendance at the Crue show loved it.

My good DJ Friend, DJ Aero, works with Tommy Lee. When Motley Crue takes a break, Aero works with Tommy on Methods of Mayhem and a variety of dance, side projects. They tour together. If they hit your town, be sure to go, they put on a great show.

Anyway, Mr. Aero is a class act. Tommy Lee too. They hooked us up with incredible seats (the best in the house). We met with Aero and his wife and another friend and had a nice dinner at Nobu (which should just be called $$$), and then were given the white glove treatment at the Motley Crue show. I got a sick little thrill waving my VIP laminate in the air whilst bypassing the humongous line of fans waiting to get in.

Now, I’ve never been a huge Motley Crue guy. They were a little before my time and by the time I developed one of those awful things everyone gets in their teens, you know, a personality, I had somehow gravitated to Alternative rock. For a while there, bands like Motley Crue were even kind of reviled by us Alterna-dorks. Jump ahead a few decades though and blam! Whose songs hold up and whose don’t? Motley Crue fared pretty well. Their dirty rock anthems are everywhere. And they’re catchy. And they’re such a part of our cultural fabric, I can even sing along.

The show was damn terrific. Motley Crue rock hard. They brought the Vegas spirit with stilt walkers, and acrobats, and fire eaters. Sexy-trashy dancers writhed to stripper friendly grooves. Oh, and little people. There were lots and lots of little people doing all sorts of little people things. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Tommy Lee’s drum set rollercoaster monstrosity is not to be missed – the madman flailed away as his entire kit did loop-de-loops inside a Super-Looper inspired circular track – it was way awesome.

After the show, we were welcomed backstage to Mr. Lee’s dressing room. Meeting the man, I must admit I was a bit starstruck. Tommy Lee is a genuine pop culture icon. He is a true celebrity. Not a mortal man, but a demi-god. And rightly so, although I think he deserves much more credit for his superhuman drumming skills than for his love life (we will save all that for the tabloids).

I didn’t feel right intruding. Mr. Lee was nothing but the most gracious of hosts. He was super nice to my wife and I, as was his girlfriend, and the handful of people in the room, but, I felt kind of out of place. The guy just played for over two hours (drumming is hard freaking work) and I figured he’d appreciate some downtime to chill. Nope. As more guests filtered back, Mr. Lee was welcoming to all.

Where does the energy come from? Got me. While my wife and I were sinking into a post-show funk (get us to our room…now!), Aero and Mr. Lee were gearing up for round two. Their vigor is…inspiring.

I started to get down on myself thinking about it. Why can’t I hang in there? Why can’t I stay up all night? But, then…well…it’s a lifestyle. That’s what Aero and Tommy Lee do. I wake up early, and teach, and try to hammer out a few words on whatever project I’m working on, then I’m in bed. It’s a very sedentary existence. They play music for a few hours, then network the night away (sometimes playing more music). When looking at it like that, I don’t envy them at all. Partying is hard work.

Thanks again (Chester, Veronica, Donny, my Michelle, Tommy Lee + crew). I had an incredible time!

Rock on, Loyal Reader.

Whatever You Do…Don’t Watch It Alone!

Posted in General, Movies on February 6, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

I had high hopes for THE WOMAN IN BLACK. I never read the Susan Hill novel (released back in 1983). I didn’t even know there was a stage version until I started Googling around for this write-up. The film’s director (James Watkins) and screenwriter (Jane Goldman) have yet to blip on my cultural radar. That it’s been produced by Hammer Films should do something to the horror historian inside me, but…well…meh… Hammer has been defunct for years (their comeback film, LET ME IN, did a nice job Americanizing LET THE RIGHT ONE IN) and their primary output  – British horror movies – were never really my thing.

And on and on and on. It was kind of nice going into a movie cold (as cold as one can in this day and age of omnipresent, pressure-pounding media). The marketing campaign almost scared me away. Whatever you do…don’t see it alone! Serious. Sheez! Like most people don’t go to movies with friends and family. Weird. Who goes to the movies alone? They even pointed one of those night vision cameras on a (drugged) (no) test audience to capture the shrieks of terror throttling recoiling patrons. Like this is super, mega, blockbuster PARANORMAL ACTIVITY or something (take that how you like it)?


(Pretty titles help)

So then… Daniel Radcliffe is a good actor. You can chart his growth over those Potter films. He’s been working at the craft forever and it shows. He pulls it off and drags along an otherwise bad film, shaping the muck into something slightly better. Everything in THE WOMAN IN BLACK looks great. The period dress, the dark mansion, a twisting road that appears and disappears with the rolling tide, dead kids all over the place, creepy toys, ghost women (in black!) – it’s all good, but instead of working a dark magic, this wonderful atmosphere serves as nothing but window dressing to a host of pointless, ridiculous, stupid jump-scares.

The film is being reviewed favorably, it’s supporters calling it an old-fashioned, gothic, ghost story. I agree that THE WOMAN IN BLACK looks like an old-fashioned, gothic, ghost story, but its ratio of canned scares to disturbing, thought-provoking stuff is too uneven. It’s like an old-fashioned, gothic, ghost story dumbed down. It’s a shame because all of the elements needed to craft a spooky movie are here, they’re just not aligned properly.

Two films that remind of THE WOMAN IN BLACK – THE OTHERS and THE ORPHANAGE – actually do what BLACK is trying to do and they do it with so much more style. They are superior ghost stories. The productions are elegant. If you haven’t seen them I recommend you stay out of the theater, check them out, and then catch THE WOMAN IN BLACK on DVD or cable in the not-too-distant future.


Posted in General, News, Raves on January 24, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

How I love me some pasta. It used to be a weekly staple, but it fell out of the rotation. Why oh why did we give that up? What’s better than a kitchen smelling of pasta, fresh sauce, meatballs?

I hate how pasta is so heavy though. When I was a kid I never thought about it and ate as much pasta and meatballs as I could (my mama makes a mean meatball, see). I was very piggish. Nowadays, I’ve slowed my roll. My stomach is smaller.

Parmesan cheese is killer. I like it on each bite. Eating pasta has a physicality to it. Other dinners are serene by comparison. It’s hearty eating from the homeland (I pump my fist, repping my Italian blood). It runs neck and neck with Mexican food (I pump my other fist, repping my Hispanic heritage). I don’t think I could ever crown a winner. I think I could eat Mexican food more than once a week, but Italian is too much more than once.


(It’s weird posting a picture of pizza, but then, I LOVE pizza. It’s definitely one of my number one foods!)

In case it isn’t obvious, I am hungry. My wife is cooking up that pasta. I’m gonna grub it!

Food is the greatest.

The Calm Before The Calm

Posted in Books, General, News on January 20, 2012 by Michael Louis Calvillo

It’s been a rough week, Loyal Reader. I spent most of it queasy, clutching my ribs, mumbling, ick, ick, icky. I’m still a little shaky. Not a 100% just yet, but getting there…

I finally made it in to work today (sad to report I missed most of the week battling pain medication and going insane). Rolling out of bed this morning I still felt a bit kooky, but I screwed up my resolve, rolled with my wife (we work at the same school – killer, huh?) and then went to work siphoning as much youthful energy as possible.



The crazy kids in my classes are great at bolstering my spirits. They’re awesome well-wishers. This cancer fight is an unruly mix of individual strife (damn, how I ache!) and collective compassion. My students know all about what I’m going through and we talk about it openly. I talk their ears off about radiation and chemo and needles. We have fun with the horrid stuff and keep it positive. It’s super cathartic. Besides, after three days of sitting on the couch with Wendy Williams (big fan), and Anderson Cooper (big fan), and Jeremy Kyle (not so much), work is a breezy dream.

Thus begins the weekend. For the first time, in a long time, the missus and I don’t have anything planned on the calendar. I am sooo looking forward to just chilling with my girl, watching movies, reading, relaxing, and recouping.

Oh, and hey, check it out! The HWA has released the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards (not the official ballot – that’s coming soon). 7BRAINS is a potential Long Fiction contender. There are some heavy hitters in the running and it’s gonna be tough to make the final cut, but it’s nice to be listed among so many great works. Follow the link – – seek out some titles, and go on a horror literature shopping spree (you lucky dog you)!