Monday, August 31, 2015

Tonight! 'The Souleater' rises!

The thrilling conclusion of GIANTS IN THE EARTH debuts on Amazon Kindle tonight at midnight for only 99 cents!

In the third and final chapter of "Giants in the Earth," the ancient souleater has risen, and its hungry call stirs up all the restless souls haunting the tiny town of Junction, Alabama — including one spirit who has been searching the halls of the hospital for her lost child these past 18 years.

Having barely survived the creature's rebirth, Sir Arthur Magus delves into the tunnel below the ruined church, seeking the prison that held the souleater all these centuries. Down in the dark, he discovers a legacy tying it to Tom Caliban and the hilltop grove where only truth may be spoken.

Tom’s spirit has separated from his gravely injured body, just as Magus and his few remaining allies must stage a desperate last stand against the Great Old One on the sacred hilltop — and not all of them will survive the encounter.

Also tomorrow: Part 2: The Child goes on sale FOR FREE for 5 days!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hockett exhibit in Tallahassee leads month of art events

Art by Roland Hockett
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Local artist Roland Hockett will be honored with an exhibit of his work at the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts in Tallahassee through September.

The show will include new works in painting and sculpture, as well as works from Roland’s  private collection. A silent auction will run throughout the exhibit period, Sept. 4-26. The opening reception is 6-9 p.m. EDT at the LeMoyne, 125 N. Gadsden St., Tallahassee. Details: 850-222-8800. For more information on the artist, visit

Roland Hockett works in copper sculpture, bronze, and paintings that often combine carving and copper along with acrylic on wood. His “Eagles” was placed at the Florida Supreme Court building, and other works were sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and Centro Cultural in Costa Rica. A 14-foot-high 3-section sculpture dedicated to friendship with Spain, “New Liberty III,” was placed on the campus of Gulf Coast State College in Panama City.

His work shows that his passion includes experimenting with skill in combining materials. Thematically, he is interested in approaching combinations of figurative imagery with the freedom of abstraction to achieve the feeling that he is seeking in the works. 

He was an assistant professor at Florida State University in the department of Art Education and Constructive Design, and retired in 2003 as an associate professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Gulf Coast State College after 34 years. More examples of Roland’s sculptures can be viewed at the Panama City Centre for the Arts and the Bay County Public Library.

Art by Robin Pichelmayer
OK, so autumn hasn’t arrived, but you’d think the season had changed. Not only did lower humidity sneak into the area this week, and school start last week, but all of a sudden there’s a surplus of art exhibit openings to bring you indoors.

Here are some other openings and exhibits to check out in the coming month:

•“Oodles of Doodles,” an exhibit of work by artist Robin Pichelmayer, will be in the Bay County Bay County Public Library, 898 W. 11th St., Panama City, throughout September. Mainly self-taught, Robin grew up around very talented women — her mom is an interior decorator, and both grandmothers were avid seamstresses (one of whom is still going strong at age 91).

Originally from Birmingham, Robin bought her first cross stitch kit from Kmart while in high school and fell in love with the “art” of making things. She has branched out to other art mediums, including decoupage, sketching, drawing, decorative painting in homes, hand embroidery and most recently Zentangle and mixed media.

A member of Panama City Artists, Robin exhibits and sells her work along the Gulf Coast and an Etsy shop online. She teaches classes, accepts commissions and will work with you to design your own custom piece of art.

•Paintings by Dale Estka will be displayed at Roberts Hall, 831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven, beginning in September. A reception will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12, in  conjunction with an unplugged/acoustic jam session.

“The Odd Fellows have graciously opened their space to allow art exhibitions curated by Beach Art Group,” said Helen Balance of BAG. “Dale stays busy producing new art and working with Beach Art Group providing graphic art, photographs of all events including exhibits, workshops and any other activities, and publishes the BAG web page and Facebook.”

Originally from Chicago, Dale and has been painting for more than 30 years. She attended the American Academy of Fine Art in Chicago and was a long-time member of the prestigious Palette & Chisel Academy. She settled in the Panama City area 16 years ago, and has won numerous awards. Her most recent was the 49th Bay Annual Exhibit at the Visual Arts Center, where she won Best of Show for her portrait “Annabella.”

For information regarding Roberts Hall, email Arlene at; for Beach Art Group, email Helen at or visit

•Starting Sept. 1, Beach Art Group will bring back its Plein Air Tuesday 9-11 a.m. at a different location each week. Admission is free, and guests are encouraged to bring paints and canvases or drawing supplies to paint outdoors with group members. To find the week’s location, check the Beach Art Group Facebook page or email Helen at

More than 30 businesses in historic St. Andrews will have art activities, demonstrations and performances on World Art Break Day, noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 4. (Look for a feature article on this event in next Friday’s Entertainer.) Visitors can watch or participate in the events organized by Floriopolis. Singers, musicians, readers, dancers, actors, storytellers and more will be on site. Details:

•CityArts Cooperative, 423 Luverne Ave. in Panama City, will have its 10th Annual Half-Off Art Show and Sale 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 19, featuring dozens of works on display by local artists. Details:


Superheroes Aliens Robots Zombies - First trilogy now on sale!

Cover art by Rob Woodrum
My friend Mark Boss has finally released the first three books of his new series, SUPERHEROES ALIENS ROBOTS ZOMBIES. If you like any one of those four subjects, you will devour these books. I have read them (during the editing/writing phase) and loved them. Each book comes with bonus materials, as well.

The story follows a boatload of vibrant characters, from Special Agent Kyle Kane, who first battles the zombies in a small town and eventually plays a major roll countering an alien invasion; Vigilant, the high-tech vigilante; Schroeder and Alvin, the sniper and his smartgun; Protor and his robot brethren; Hook, the singularity in human form, and his robot spider soldiers; and so many more!

<< The story starts with this volume, which is ONLY 99 CENTS for Kindle devices. (Disclaimer: Mark has included part of my THIS MORTAL FLESH novel as bonus material in this volume.)

Cover by Jayson Kretzer
<< It continues with ROBOT REVOLUTION (which includes a short story about the character SCHROEDER), and comes to its interplanetary conclusion with ALIEN INVASION (which includes a behind-the-scenes essay about the origins of Mark's ideas, characters, and more).

Cover by Jayson Kretzer

You can find out more about Mark at these links:
>>His author website
>>His Twitter page
>>His blog site
>>His Goodreads page

Mark Boss at CreativeCon 2K15
Mark is a fellow member of the Coffeehouse Syndicate (a group of friends that get together once a week for lunch and conversation about movies, comics, TV, creativity and how we're going to take over the world), as well as The Cheshires writing group in Panama City. We also shared a table recently at Creative Con, where we shilled each other's work. I'm telling you all this for two reasons: 1) Transparency, and 2) I know what I'm talking about. Mark puts real thought and love into his work, which is fast-moving, hard-hitting, full of surprises and big ideas, as well as the smaller moments that make the action worthwhile.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hung out with mermaids and pirates

I have a pretty cool day job, sometimes, like when I get to go hang out at a pool with pirates and mermaids. Check out the article here<<

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Drive-In Saturday: "The Devil Rides Out"

(NOTE: This is another in a series looking at occult investigators. Click here to see more entries.)

Based on a 1934 novel by Dennis Wheatley, the screenplay by horror master Richard Matheson elevates this 1968 low-budget Hammer Horror outing starring Christopher Lee as the heroic Nicholas, Duc de Richleau.

I caught the last half hour of this on an afternoon showing in my childhood, and it stuck with me — scared the bejeezus out of me, more accurately. I viewed the movie on the night of June 8 of this year, after I heard Lee had died. It was the second time in about a year's span I'd watched the movie, having caught it on TCM earlier.

Briefly, the plot centers on Simon, the adult son of le Duc's late war buddy, who is mixed up with Satan worshippers. Nicholas and his friend Rex snatch Simon and a girl named Tanith out from under the snout of the goat-faced Baphomet, conjured by the satanists, then try to protect them in the home of another friend. The Angel of Death is conjured by the lead devil-worshipper, and it takes many forms trying to break into a magic circle to attack our protagonists. Without giving away the ending, I must say that Lee's character makes several Christian remarks about the power of God to defeat evil — remarks that completely fit the character and the storyline, but that seemed incongruous coming out of Lee's mouth.

The effects are above standard for the day, and the high concepts are thrillingly enacted. All of the actors are up to the task, though I had trouble being frightened of Charles Gray as the Satanic priest (through no fault of his own) as I kept expecting a drag revue to break out. (Gray is best known to me for his part in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.)

Very effective movie, showing the main character's use of arcane knowledge and ritual to good effect, and allowing Lee to be a man of action and heroism for once. Lee has famously said in interviews that this was one of his favorite roles, and it shows; he wanted to remake the film with modern effects and once again play Nicholas, but it was not to be.

The film was previously available in HD on the Hammer Horror channel on YouTube. It can currently be viewed in full >>here<<

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Coming Sept. 1: The final chapter of GIANTS IN THE EARTH!

Coming to Kindle on Sept. 1!
The third and final part of "GIANTS IN THE EARTH" will hit Amazon Kindle on Sept. 1 for only 99 cents! (The book is now available for pre-order!) For now, if you want to find the first two parts, visit my author page!

I've experimented with serializing this novel, the first book in my ongoing series, The Caliban Cycle, to see if it helps the book get traction that my previous efforts haven't enjoyed. So far, it seems like it's working — but the flipside of that is that so am I, constantly working to get the word out about this series, consistently working to ready the next installment.

The book will be released on Kindle in its entirety — with added bonus content! — on Oct. 1, and it will be published in paperback format Nov. 1. I hope to make a hardback edition available in time for Christmas, maybe on the heels of releasing a standalone story of young Arthur Magus to Kindle on Dec. 1.

The final chapters of the sequel novel, "AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD," are currently in the hands of my critique group, and I will begin the editing process on that book ASAP.

...And I can't wait to get going on my next project, a steampunk adventure unrelated to The Caliban Cycle! ...And then start work on the third Caliban novel. ...And then...

Stories shared in the slipstream

Me, before the beginning.
PANAMA CITY — Writers and listeners and artists gathered Saturday at Floriopolis in St. Andrews for an evening of stories and conversations. Part of the gallery’s exhibit, “The Space Between Words,” the readings were offered by writers who had been recognized in a related short story contest.

The Space Between Words is an art exhibit, a “living” art project, a short story contest, and a fundraiser for Floriopolis. The individual words of Tallahassee writer D.A. Robin’s winning story are being sold as tattoos, so that the story will live and breathe on dozens of people who can construct their own meanings from the words and combinations of phrases. Tattoos, by artist Adam Whitehead at Panama Fox, are $25 per word.

Some families are getting tats of words together, so they can all be part of the story. Even punctuation is for sale, and one woman I know bought enough periods and dashes from Robin’s story to spell her husband’s name in Morse code.

Heather Parker, at right.
“That’s more emotion and personal connection to the story than I expected,” Heather told me in an email. “People have pretty deep reasons for getting tattoos — committing to permanent body art. ... Even I am having to stretch my perception of who gets body art, and we’re all probably guilty of stereotypes when it comes to art.”

As the gathering began, two young women dragged to the event by their mother amused themselves with the lighted zoetrope and drawing “spots” for the Art on the Spot project. A Tallahassee woman sat nearby, hand-writing a scary story she was entering in an anthology later the same evening. Kids on skateboards drifted past the big front windows, and visitors and guests mingled.

Gary, about to read.
Tallahassee made a good showing, with a large group in attendance to support their friends and contest honorees, which also included G.L. “Gary” Dearman and Amy Topol. Dearman started the event with his spirited reading of his tale — which he joked he had titled “The Space Between Words” to curry favor with the judges — about the secret source of infinite stories.

Other readers included Craig Bush of Fountain, who read the preface to his newest novel, “The Forever Effect”; Samantha Neeley, reading her contest entry, “Epilogue for a Corpse”; and me, reading an excerpt from my serial novel, “Giants in the Earth.”

D.A. Robin
Robin read a portion of his entry, “The Boy and His Beach.” The full text will not be released or performed until the end of the exhibit’s tattoo component, so as not to influence the meaning of the words still for sale. Topol brought the house down with her emotional reading of “Flashback,” which was recognized as a story of distinction in the contest.

After the readings, the Tallahassee group strolled to Gracie Rae’s for a sunset supper and party on the deck overlooking St. Andrew Bay.

Dearman said he was jealous that we had a place like Floriopolis, as Tallahassee has nothing to compare with its interactive community focus. He also educated me about “slipstream,” a term for fiction that uses the surreal or strange (sometimes sci-fi or supernatural elements in an everyday setting) to elicit cognitive dissonance; I joked that my non-fiction sometimes had that effect.

Amy Topol, bringing the room to tears.
At least, I meant it as a joke.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Conjuring the ghosts of downtown PC

PANAMA CITY — The streets of downtown Panama City might get a bit spookier in October, as volunteers lead groups on foot through the alleys, thresholds and sidewalks on a tour of “haunted” locations.

I had some of Mat’s Good Coffee on a recent morning and sat in the CityArts gallery to talk with Beverly Nield and Paul Bonnette about the tour concept. It grew out of a Leadership Bay project to find a new way to draw foot traffic into the downtown area, they said.

“It should bring people here who will then eat and drink at the restaurants, or buy an antique at the shops,” Beverly said. “It’s just a spark, a start. We’re excited.”

Valerie Woods with the Downtown Improvement Board recently posted a call to actors, storytellers and writers on Facebook to promote the planning stage of the Haunted Walking Tour: “We are looking for volunteers to help us write the stories to be told on the tour, play the part of historic Panama City figures, lead the tours, and sell tickets on the nights of the event,” she said. “Since this is our first time doing this, we want to do it right!”

Volunteers will be needed at all locations along the tour, and some vintage costumes will also be required to complete the effect. Anyone with experience leading walking tours or with ideas to include on the tour are invited to call Valerie at 850-785-2554.

Valerie also confirmed the Panama City Jaycees will continue their traditional haunted house fundraiser at Panama City Marine Institute this October, and the Haunted Tour is not meant to compete with that: “This is more about telling fairly accurate historical and spooky stories about Downtown,” she said.

“When people leave the Jaycees, maybe they’ll want to keep the fun going by taking the tour, or maybe they’ll go from our tour to the Jaycees Haunted House,” Paul said.

Paul is also a member of the Panhandle Paranormal Investigation team, which has explored several of the buildings downtown. One of their upcoming investigations will take place at the Visual Arts Center building on Fourth Street. Paul is keen to share the team’s findings with tour groups — including ghostly voices captured on digital recording equipment.

“Of pretty much everywhere we’ve investigated in Bay County, downtown has the most (paranormal) activity,” Paul said.

The challenge is to tempt live visitors to frequent those same haunts.



ORLANDO — Panama City author Olivia DeBell Byrd was honored last week at the Florida Publishers Association President Awards in Orlando. Her debut novel, “Save My Place,” won the gold medal in both of the categories it had been entered: Florida Fiction for Adults and Cover Design.

“Save My Place” is a love story set in the South during the 1960s and ’70s, against the backdrop of the Vietnam war. A passionate and unconditional love must confront a painful past, heart-searing separation, and the greatest of all tragedies.

For more information on the association and awards, visit For more on “Save My Place,” visit

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Drive-In Saturday: 'The Norliss Tapes' still scares

(Continuing our look at the occult detectives that influenced my thinking...)
(NBC - Feb. 21, 1973)
Starring Roy (The Invaders) Thinnes, Don Porter, Angie (Police Woman) Dickinson, and Claude Akins; directed and produced by Dan (Dark Shadows) Curtis; screenplay by William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run) from a story by Fred Mustard Stewart.
This backdoor pilot, presented as a TV movie, owes much to Curtis’ better known effort, The Night Stalker, as it has many of the same characteristics, from the cinematography to the music, to specifics of the plot and how Norliss narrates when supporting characters are about to meet their grisly fates.
Thinnes is writer David Norliss (in this case a journalist who writes non-fiction books and has set out to debunk the supernatural) who, like Carl Kolchak, dictates his work onto a series of tapes; he has disappeared after a cryptic call to his editor, who later breaks into Norliss’ beach house to discover the tapes. The story at hand unfolds as the tape unspools...
Norliss is called to investigate when the widow of a rich and famous sculptor finds her dead husband at work in his studio. He’s sculpting a giant, demonic figure out of clay mixed with human blood. She barely escapes from him. Cops think she’s nuts, of course. There’s a subplot involving an Egyptian scarab ring, tunnels under the property, and an empty coffin. The sculpture is meant to become a living receptacle for a demon lord, who begins to manifest in the fiery climax of the tale.
And as the first tale ends, the editor begins playing Tape No. 2... a story we’ll never know now, as the there were no sequels to the film.
Somehow I watched this movie in my Grandmother Simmons’ living room, on her old TV that was hidden inside a wooden cabinet. It’s possible the adults were watching something else in another room, or just sitting around and telling old family stories. I don’t really remember. What I do recall is hiding behind the couch each time the ashen-faced vampire showed up.
The film is now available on DVD here. The entire film is also on YouTube in a grainy, low-resolution and pixelated format, but is still watchable — and still quite spooky.
There's one shot as a woman opens the curtains at her hotel room that made me jump when I rewatched the movie for the first time in 42 years — and I knew it was coming. I still recalled it, thanks in part to my Uncle Joe having done the very same thing to me about a year or two before the movie came out: I heard a noise at my window one night and looked out, and he jumped up from behind the azaleas to scare me.
Er, "Spoiler alert"?

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Only pros, no cons when you’re this creative

PANAMA CITY — The world hushed last Saturday evening. As I stood on the shore of St. Andrew Bay and the sun slipped behind the Hathaway Bridge like a fluorescent tomato, the incessant rumble and exclamations of the day began to fade.

Fish skipped on the rippled surface close by, and children splashed ankle-deep. Adults sat on tailgates, speaking in hushed voices, and a man in a lighted wetsuit floated on columns of water, “moon walked” and flipped.

It was a long walk back to my car, still parked in the Gulf Coast State College lot near the Student Union, where I had put it early that morning to offload books and collectibles. I had spent the day at Panama City Creative Con, which took over the Student Union and Amelia Center Theatre for comic, costume, game, film, art and other shenanigans.

It was a blast that I didn’t want to see end. From swing dancers on stage, cosplayers cramming corridors, artists working as you watched, and children coloring masks — to vendors, authors, artists, costumers, and vintage games and comics for sale.

Only the grinchiest of Grinches could look at the smiles, the energy, hear the laughs — the obvious joy so many experienced at being able to share creative pursuits that thrill them — and still be unimpressed.

Attendance hit about 1,300 paid tickets, according to organizer Jayson Kretzer, plus countless “visitors” and complimentary guests. Jayson said he received “very positive” responses from post-con surveys, as well as numerous emails, texts and messages from con-goers to thank him and his volunteer team for putting the show together.

“People loved seeing (award-winning ‘Star Wars’ and comic artist) Dave Dorman and (GCSC alumnus and movie actor) Michael Papajohn there,” Jayson said. “The kids’ room was a huge success — especially the ‘make your own costume’ part of it — and everything went off without a hitch.”

Jayson even had a few people pledge sponsorships for next year’s event, which he hopes to expand to two full days.

“One of my favorite moments took place during the Kids’ Costume Contest, where I saw multiple kids donning outfits they created that day in our Kids’ Room,” Jayson said. “It really felt like we got it right this time. We’ll keep improving of course, but we’re on a good track now.”

I can hardly wait. I even started thinking about a cosplay for next time. Consider that fair warning.


Monday, August 03, 2015

PC Creative Con Photo Blog Part 2

This time it's pictures with me in them, I'm afraid...





Sunday, August 02, 2015

PC Creative Con photo blog Part 1

These are pictures of people other than me at the con on Saturday: