Hookers, Homeland Security and a Horror Writer on an Amtrak

  I realized after the fact that attending the World Horror Convention the other weekend and being an active participant in programming marked the first time I represented Black Bed Sheet Books in an industry environment compared to a fan festival. I held my pitch sessions, readings, hobnobbed and ran our dealer’s table. Hung out with BBS authors like Andrew Beresford, S.C. Hayden, Jeniffer Caress, Lincoln Crisler, and a plethora of other authors and publishers including, of note, Sam Cowan of Montag Press who, as it turns out, lives just down the street from me. BBS (Alex, S.C. & I) were interviewed by a handful of media cable and radio shows including Residual Haunting Revived ( http://residualhauntings.podomatic.com/ ). They showed our trailers throughout the film fest. Talked to some key people about my ideas for renovating the industry, and they listened. Pimped Shot in the Dark Comics, Hacker’s Source Magazine, and Muscle Wolf Productions, our partners, did some readings, watched my authors (and myself) do well at the mass signing that Friday. Got a lot of business done, and BBS will continue to grow because of some things I accomplished there. It was an experience I’ll never forget, just like every time I go.

Well, call me a little disorganized or just plain stupid. I thought I had my trip well planned out. I was supposed to catch the Amtrak train back home at 11:30 am Sunday Morning, April first. Had to catch a cab from my Motel 6 and then drag my two huge tattered wheel-less suitcases heavy with books and my clothes bag and computer equipment around the Amtrak building to wait for the train. And I waited. It was raining, sometimes pouring, sometimes snowing, I had to go bathroom and there was no shelter, and homeless people were scoping me out. There was a station there but it was closed, and after two hours I thought to dial the 800 number in the window on my cell phone.


APRIL FOOLS! Turns out the train was arriving at 11:30PM, which was why the station was closed in the first place. I was directed on my ticket to the little teeny “p” beside the “11:30.” So….


I dragged my luggage around to all the payphones in the area but all the pages for taxis in their Yellow Pages had been ripped out, and then I saw a cab afar off and dragged my luggage over to him. I went back to the Motel 6 and paid for another night, and the only room they had was on the second floor. This was to be the last time I’d use that luggage. I was exhausted by the time I got situated, as I partied late until 6 that morning with Boyd Harris, Gord Rollo, RJ Cavendar, Evil Jester Press, and more great people, and I figured I’d nurse my hangover on that dern train 😦  So…


I went out to calm down from my disappointing ordeal and passed a hooker hanging out right there in the Motel 6 parking lot. She kept trying to get my attention as I passed, and I kept eyeing the police car partially hidden not far away in the parkinglot of a building diagonal to us across the nearby intersection and wondering what the hell was she doing??? Iwent out again for hot dogs at the Maverick gas station nearby, and later went for McDonald’s, all the while that hooker was just hanging out and whistling at me in the rain. After napping and watching Shrek the 3rd on HBO, she was still out there by the time my lab cab in Salt Lake City arrived.


So here’s the thing: I had a lower-level seat on the train, and from the time I got all comfy I was one of three in the entire car and had a decent night’s rest during the ten-hour ride from Salt Lake to Reno. They announced just before our arrival in Reno that there are many passengers waiting there and we were going to be at full capacity. I took my bag and laptop from the seat next to me to make room, and the train filled. At first I thought my luck was with me and was about to return my belongings to the other seat until a thirty-something man with short-shaved hair and a t-shirt & jeans scoped me out and found his way to me, sat down, and I thought so much for the comfy ride. But then he spoke to me:


“You mind if I ask you a few questions? I’m with the Department of Homeland Security and I’m on a task force designed to eliminate the state-to-state transfer of guns and drugs on trains such as this one…so where did you come from…?” He flashed his badge and showered me with questions. Told him all about the convention, my trip, my books, my authors, and after that intense interrogation I had to lead him to my luggage so he could zip ’em open and go through everything. A skull falls to the floor along with loose metal banner stand pieces and he held his breath for a moment, but I did say I was attending a horror convention. Next he went through my boxes and found the books I’d displayed and pimped back at the con….no drugs or guns….and he shook my hand, apologized for the inconvenience, and disappeared up the stairwell to the level above.


All eyes in the car were on me as I returned to my seat, and when I sat down, there was a pause before everyone in the room started asking me questions, the first of which was: “Now that we all know your business, how was theconvention?” I ended up listing my titles, pimping my authors, giving writing advice, and passing out cards….whether I wanted to or not! After awhile they left me alone with my window seat so I could open my laptop and get a little ahead on all the work that would face me with Black Bed Sheet Books when I got home.










Under a Black Helmet: Horror Writer in a HE-MAN Movie

Under a Black Helmet: Horror Writer in a HE-MAN Movie


This represents the sort of blog thingy I probably would have done back when this was actually happening, if internet existed back then. I was going through old acting days files, circa 1980’s, and it brought me back into a point in time when I played one of Skeletor’s troopers in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. I was called into production, and unlike most of the movies I did extra work in, we all knew it was the He-man movie rather than a fake title, like when I was in “Night of the Creeps” and for all we knew the movie was called “Creeps.”  

Going in, I was paid minimum wage to exchange my driver’s license for this hefty body suit with black/purple hard plastic armor I’d be wearing all day, all through the night, until the next day. And it was hard to pee in that thing.

I know what Darth Vader feels like. That’s a weird thing to know. I don’t mean the character, I mean whoever plays him when they put on that stuff. In my scenario, I was one in around twenty Darth Vader-looking people. A majority of the time, I as well as they were stuck in trailers waiting for someone in charge to call for us to put our cool helmets over our heads and take up our rubber laser rifles.  I distinctly remember reading the paperback of John Skipp & Craig Spector’s LIGHT AT THE END for the first time through the slit in my plastic helmet waiting for something to happen, occasionally lifting the lower part to guzzle coffee. 

There were times outside the trailer when I sword-fought the bald bad guy in the film who was dressed in silver and had twice as many swords as I did, I made Billy Barty laugh, but onscreen I fought & arrested Dolph Lundgren on a rooftop, I marched the streets of Woodland where a parade-type float with a body-double of Frank Langella was directly behind me, I fell a few times running because you can’t see through those damn things, and fell into a bunch of crates when Meg Foster shot at me.  At the end of the day I almost wished I could have taken home the suit and said to hell with my driver’s license. 

PHOTOS NOTE: I’m most likely the guy in the suit in the first photo, because there was a brief photo shoot where snapshots were taken of me that way. Second photo, not me, because that’s just a still image of one of us in Skeletor’s castle and it could have been any of us. Street: I should be the third trooper to the left.  We had to march up and down that fricken street a thousand times, it seemed like.  Next image, a scene that took up much of our time, on the rooftop.  Next image is where we fought Dolph. and I’ve looked over that scene again and again and I’m certain that’s my back view.  That’s what you get when you live around L.A. and you spend a grand tossing your resume and headshots around, and the face you’ve been pimping around isn’t even in it.  Tell that to Jeremy Bolloch, my “behind-the-mask” cinematic idol (Boba Fett), he must know what I’m talking about! 

Lost sequel to Wes Craven’s SHOCKER! Read the 1992 Treatment that Recently Resurfaced

Folks have been hounding me about Shocker II now and again, and I finally came
across it in a file cabinet from the bowels of my parent’s garage! The 38-page
treatment director WES CRAVEN got me to write in 1992 as a sequel to his film
SHOCKER, starring Mitch Pileggi as Horace Pinker.  I and my agent at the time
were going back and forth with Craven’s assistant about novelizations which led
to the director’s interest in my published work at the time and he wanted to see
where I took his characters if I wrote the story.  I didn’t have a story.  I was
poking around for novelization deals because Halloween IV really worked for me. 
So, in light of this interest, I set to work and wrote a detailed treatment .  I
was very excited about it, and I read it now and I wish I could just wave a
magic wand and see it made.  The original Shocker was fun….it seemed obvious
Craven was attempting a new brand of Freddy-like villain to market, and the
television channel chase….well, you kinda have to be stoned to truly appreciate
it….and it had a massive promotional campaign.  When I saw it in the theaters
around 1989/1990, I thought it was entertaining but a bit hokey.  But when Wes
Craven wants to see what you can do with it in a sequel…..well, I just HAD to!
Reading it now, it’s chock full of the style and elements my own work is known
for, and I think it’d be a damned shame if I returned this jewel back to the
file cabinets, so I decided to share it with all my horror friends, my writing
friends, and all my horror writing friends.


And I’m giving it away for free.  Even though I wrote it, it’s
based on Craven’s characters & situations, so I can’t make a profit.  But as
free fan fiction, I can certainly show it off.  It’s available to download in
most ebook formats at the online store of the horror book publishing company I
run, Black Bed Sheet Books, in its ebook section (see link at bottom of note).




All I ask from those enthusiastic horror fans who’d love to
download and read it is this: 


please “LIKE” Black Bed Sheet Books on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Bed-Sheet-Books/49733235679 


……and while you’re at the Black Bed Sheet Book Store
downloading your copy (see link below), please consider giving our authors and
their astoundingly kickass books a read.  We have print books, instantly
downloadable ebooks available in all formats, and they’re all mostly HORROR,
baby!  After you’ve liked us on Facebook, and you download and read Shocker II,
I’d also love your feedback.  So feel free to post your responses.


Go here for SHOCKER II:



A big reason why there
ultimately was no Shocker II was that Mr. Craven chose another direction, a
little project called SCREAM.


Inspiration & Horror, Baby,

—Nicholas Grabowsky

Book Publishing is Not a Real Job to Child Support People

Nicholas Grabowsky Okay, so here’s what happened the other day with going to court: I’ve never faced a jail sentence in my life, so I was a bit nervous. I don’t even really believe in posting TRULY personal things here, though I suppose people do, and before court I felt if anything negatively happened there I’d probably be wishing I’d posted something first, and I did.

I’ve been running Black Bed Sheet Books for three and a half years, and when I started I knew exactly what I was doing, set everything in motion, and launched it with my feet on the ground and my back to the wind and the full support of those close to me in my personal life. I made a commitment to myself that this venture wouldn’t be a “let’s see what happens” kind of thing, I committed to it long-term and cemented my soul into it, almost like I married myself to it. Only several months later, my personal life imploded. That is to say, my wee son, his mother, and I ceased to no longer be a family and split into three quite the same way Zod, Non, and Ursa did when a nuclear warhead burst them from their square flying glass vanity mirror in Superman II, only picture that with Zod and Ursa hating each other because they’ve been incased within that vanity mirror for thousands of years, and upon their abrupt release found themselves fighting over who gets to lord over Non, who has no say or real understanding of what’s going on. And Zod, still on his quest for the domination of an entire planet, finds himself suddenly only capable of seeing Non every other weekend, having to compensate Ursa on a monthly basis for baring the burden of seeing after Non more than Zod himself was allowed to.

It was a turbulent Spring 2009, and as a result of that separation I lost almost all my possessions and my home and basically found myself running Black Bed Sheet off my laptop on my parent’s front porch chain smoking and chugging cheap lager, and juggling a tight schedule meeting with Father’s Rights people and making the Placer County Courthouse my second home and pouring what money I had that was supposed to go towards my new publishing company into my defense and survival instead. The thing is, despite all that overwhelming personal hullabaloo, I managed to keep it separate from my business obligations to the extent that I somehow found myself able to pay for, edit, design, package, market, design covers and promotional materials for 8 print titles and release them all on August 1st, the date I had set before all that personal bullshit happened. Not only that, but I coordinated a huge Horrorfind event where I escaped across the country and Black Bed Sheet had vendor’s tables, and those August 1st authors I labored hard to publish the prior month who were present sold out and made a tremendous splash, gained media interviews, comic book deals, connections. And from that event I gained future authors who are now with me as well, and most of the original August 1st authors back in 2009 I still have, too. On another proud note, it was that Summer I published the legendary Forrest J Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, so it was more than the 8 authors that summer, there was that anthology too, which included the last introduction the great genre god ever wrote before his passing. That same year, Black Bed Sheet Books was voted one of the top ten publishers of that year on the Predators & Editors poll, as was the Antho of the Living Dead for top ten best anthology.

Between then and now, the publishing venture I designed and devote my daily life to receives over 200 submissions a year, and even owners of other genre presses come to me to publish their own works, which I have. We’ve developed partners such as Shot in the Dark Comics, Hacker’s Source Magazine, and sponsor a popular horror web channel (Black Hamster) and I found a lifetime love and partner in Francy Weatherman who hosts just about the most popular internet radio show out there (to which even Obama listened to at one point), of whom I myself was first a special guest before Ursa and I split up.

The point to all of this is that my personal life is a side issue, and although I may go through personal life issues my commitment to Black Bed Sheet Books is the same as it was when I made that commitment. This past holiday season, Francy and I moved to a better apartment and restructured our lives. I had just wasted two months pouring myself into editing an author’s book who decided a month before its release to pull it, and I got served for being twelve months behind on my child support and actually faced twelve counts of contempt (one for each month late) and two months in jail. On top of all that, Francy’s mother got an infection which put her in intensive care for a couple of weeks, and she nearly died. Now we’re a couple of months into the New Year, I managed to catch up from the busy holidays with somehow managing yet again to pull off some progress such as solid Christmas releases, launching Black Bed Sheet Ebooks, made a deal with Shot in the Dark to publish & distribute ebook version of all their titles, and we had good sales. And Francy’s mother is pulling through.

So, here’s the result of the court thing I posted about right before I went: my public defender (who asked me to bring a book of mine & sign it for her) and I made a deal with the Placer County courthouse that I plead guilty to six of the twelve counts, and rather than serve time I’d be placed on probation for a year and starting February I simply resume my payments and put six bucks in towards arrears. That was a great victory. The thing that vexes me is, out of all the papers I had to prepare and photocopy to prove my income with BBS, with royalties and bank records and tax statements, even our Winter catalog and book samples, Placer County Family Support Services insists I’m unemployed. A lot of this battle revolved around that. In fact, even Ursa and everyone on her side insists the same thing. That was a big part of the split in the first place, I refused to do anything else but Black Bed Sheet (and occasionally my own writing) after I determined to put my all into it. Quitting has never been an alternative. I make enough to get by, and to make more I work harder. There’s no reason for me to think for a second that I’ll succeed in anything in life, including Black Bed Sheet, if I don’t stick to the plan. The alternative is to work a real job, like Burger King, where half of my minimum wage will be taken anyway and I wouldn’t even make enough to pay to stay on the internet long enough to tell the few hundred people I obligated myself to that I let them down.

Just the other day I saw a story on the news about a guy just like me who worked out of home in front of a mess of computers, publishing books. The news people certainly treated him like he was working a real job. In fact, they went on to say his was the job of the future. To me, it’s the job of the now. And as for my son, who’s seven….he just wrote his first story:


Andrew called his friend Agore. And he killed mean friends. Not Agore. Andrew ate the mean friends into his tummy! Mucha and Tomato are the mean guys’ names. Andrew ate some other people into his tummy. And Andrew ate a mistake into his tummy and then the people and the mistakes went into his butt and then he poo pooed all of everything then flushed the mean guys down the toilet, into the sewer, and the mean guys said “Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!”
—-Charlie Grabowsky

Just like his ol’ man.

So with that, I’m moving forward, have many special plans for this year and outstanding releases, and I should be all caught up this week with my seemingly legions of emails which clogged up the pipes since December. So those of you who have been waiting seemingly forever for me to reply to anything, you will in the next couple of days, and thanks for your patience.





I wrote and posted this on Myspace a handful of years ago, just for horror authors, and I received pages of positive responses. All this time later, after I came across it again, I thought I’d resurrect it, because in my mind nothing’s changed…….except for the fact that these days, I’m not only an author, I’m a publisher of many authors…..

To all horror writers, large and small, big press, small press, even smaller press, self-published, not even published at all:
In my youth, my dad would every once in awhile take me fishing off any given pier in the Pacific Ocean off Southern CA…..Newport, Huntington, a few others. He’d wake me up super early, we’d salvage enough twinkies and sandwiches to fill an Igloo, get our bait, drive, find a nice spot amongst the other fisher people there doing what we were about to do, and then cast our lines and do it………….sitting there for hours trying to catch something, among countless others doing the same thing, rooting for one of us that brought in something big, wowing over the guy with his little daughter who caught something so tiny they threw it back but nonetheless it was still quite a spectacle….it was all a thrilling experience for me. A couple of times, we caught a nice one. Other times, somebody else did, and it was bigger than mine and others took photographs. Some talked about the big ones that got away, and you could never really know for sure if they were telling the truth. One time, a fight broke out between two of the fisher people, and I had to move out of their path. I forgot what happened with that; either they settled their differences, had to be escorted out, or just stayed away from each other. I guess it didn’t matter….if they didn’t cease to exist sometime afterwards, they had to still be fishing, somewhere, eventually, if that’s what they love to do.

The way I see it, from within the industry and without, down to the smallest aspiring horror writer, from the Kings to the Keenes to the most noble amongst us down to the guy in Nebraska who’s horror’s biggest fan but just can’t get past chapter number three in his hoped-for debut novel, we’re all of us fishing on a pier with a box full of twinkies and some bait we hope will catch us a big one. Maybe you caught a big one already, maybe you have a long history of award-winning big ones we all love or aspire towards, maybe you’re constantly asking those who caught a big one just what bait they used. We’ve all had our lines in the water, all sitting at that very long pier doing what we strive to do best, and as far as I’m concerned we’re all in this together, trying to do the same goddamn thing.
Write horror. And hope people like it.

Maybe you’re not serious enough, and you’d just as well take your fishing pole and go home to something more suitable to what you really want, towards a direction in your life just as notable. I’m talking to the ones who want to stay, as well as to the ones who have stayed there and done very well for themselves…..

We’re all on the same pier, always fishing, fishing for that first one, fishing for more, and it’s a long-ass pier. Let’s make this pier the best fucking pier the book industry has ever seen, turn it into the 2-plus bookcase section at Barnes & Noble the horror section well deserves and hasn’t seen for a long time, turn the genre on its heels and make the reading public love us. There’s desire for it. There are many people out there who love horror and just won’t read. Let’s change that. Let’s nurture each other for the love of horror and its written word, and embrace each other in this art form and set aside any differences you may have, speak to the public in one loud, clear, decadent voice.

And who am I? Nothing really but just another fisherman. And I embrace all of you others. I’m a horror writer, and I’m damn proud of being so. I’m also a full-time horror publisher, so not only have I invested my life on my own works but I’ve placed my career secondary to the benefit of publishing and promoting others, kind of like putting my money where my mouth is or practicing what I preach, and I work day and night with one goal: making smalltime horror big time. But no matter what else I’ve done, I’ve been a horror writer first and foremost, as fate would have it, and will die being one. Every last one of you suit my cause and are my kin, whether you’re another writer, publisher, or whatever…..horror is horror, and we need to mutually work together with networking rather than competition for the greater glory of making our genre the equivilent of a full book case at Barnes & Nobel again, regardless of the ever-changing climate of the book industry.

Let’s support each other.
PS: If it behooves you, please like Black Bed Sheet Books on Facebook 

Nicholas Randers Interviews Nicholas Grabowsky

    Nicholas Randers Interviews Nicholas Grabowsky

(The guy who interviewed me here ended up recently blacklisted by everyone involved in my genre for plagiarizing a lot of people’s stuff, including Stephen King’s. But that interview took some time to do, so I reworded his questions with my old pen name and slapped it all down on this here blog, for enquiring minds who want to know, and serves as a nifty update too.)

NR: Okay, so you were at varying times an actor, rock singer, screenwriter, evangelical preacher, book store assistant manager, phone room sales manager, door-to-door salesman, stripper, composer, drug addict, Japanese Exchange Student Coordinator, gardener, forklift driver, choir director, and were convinced you were a vampire all through elementary school. So…why the interest in the horror genre again?

NG: That’s a question I’ve tried to answer too many times, but it’s a noble one, and sometimes I try to be philosophical about it, I can tend to create these great lengthy reasons why, but really when it all boils down to it the answer is this: I just don’t know. For a lot of people, there seem to be clear reasons, and I’ve heard many times from horror authors things like “I didn’t get into horror until I was 25” or “I saw this movie when I was ten and it changed my life.” I think I was born this way. By the time I went to kindergarten I was convinced I was a vampire and chased girls at recess trying to bite them, flapping my jacket like I was flying. I would stay up late at night in my bed and pretend I was talking to Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Wile E. Coyote. I suppose, though, my dad watching those old Universal monster movies on television helped, and when I saw the Rankin/Bass classic “Mad Monster Party,” it changed my life at four years old. I could have been a normal kid, but, nope.

NR: You have been praised highly by such noted authors as Stephen King and Clive Barker, which is no small accomplishment. Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting them in person?

NG: Yes I have. I met King once around 1992 at the American Book Sellers Association convention in an Anaheim Convention Center hallway after someone told me he finished a signing there and should be headed that way on his way out. We probably spoke for about thirty seconds. Later that night, I shared a table with several literary agents and we all enjoyed King singing in his band “The Rock Bottom Remainders.” With Clive, I did a signing event the same day as he did once at Dark Delicacies in Burbank and our meeting there led to a phone call from him, a nice chat, and a handwritten letter in the mail sometime afterwards praising my work with encouraging words. In the early ‘90’s, living in Southern Cal, I attending many of his readings (as well as Dean Koontz’s, whom I often came to for good industry advice).

NR: Take a moment to tell me about your book, Pray, Serpent’s Prey.

NG: It was my first full-length novel, and my first one published. That being published got me the job doing the “Halloween IV” book, and many others. I signed with Critic’s Choice Paperbacks, who was distributed by Carol Publishing, so when its street date hit you could find it on the supermarket paperback racks almost anywhere. It was a dream come true. I started the story in my tenth grade math class when I was bored one day, and it was supposed to blossom into a Christian allegory (being that I actually preached in Baptist and Penticostal churches back then, I wasn’t allowed to write horror really). Then events happened in my life which turned me away from the church-going crowd, and I made the story darker and let loose a bit. It’s basically about a church pastor and a group of rebellious teens joining forces to defeat snake/vampire people before evil overwhelms their small Montana town.

NR: As a man who was once deeply into the church scene, were you ever surprised to find out how many churchgoers were actually into the horror genre?

NG: Back in the day I was surrounded with the belief that you had to be on fire for Jesus. I think I heard once on the news that someone took that literally with gasoline and a Bic. But the consensus was back then that if you loved the Lord, you’d avoid the things of the world…horror movies, books, heavy metal and anything related was, well…if you were caught liking them in any way, it was like being caught shooting up heroin and you’d have a lot of people praying for you and begging you to repent. I’ve known churches to boycott “The Wizard of Oz.” People can be extreme that way. I was inching my way further and further into the limelight in the church world, and I cried for the souls of friends of mine who went to the theaters to see a Halloween film. Looking back, I was also really crying on the inside, because the Lord wouldn’t let me see one myself and enjoy it. Basically, if it wasn’t about Jesus, it was sinful, and that went for the movies we watched and the books we read, the music we listened to, all that. I’d been writing all my life, but eventually I found myself writing a horror novel (“Pray Serpent’s Prey”) instead of trippy cartoony fantasy fiction with the excuse that it was a “Christian” horror novel with an allegorical theme: demons infecting a town and the town’s pastor learning to bend to God’s will in order to cast them out. No one in church thought that was a good idea. I myself never heard of a Christian horror novel, and nobody understood what I was doing. Then something in my personal life erupted and separated me from church, and I found myself at liberty to rewrite the story however way I wanted. That felt damn good. It’s funny all these years later that Christian horror has become quite common—-something that I tried to do twenty-five years ago—and I especially relate to the writers drawn towards that sub-genre. It is so cool there’s so many these days. Really, it never used to be that way.

NR: What’s your connection with Walter Koenig, ‘Chekov’ of Star Trek?

NG: I dabbled with acting around Los Angeles in the mid-‘80’s, just before I was first widely published, and made a small living for a short while as a Hollywood extra. I answered an ad in an industry newspaper for acting classes taught by Walter, auditioned, and made it into the class. I met a lot of cool people there, got to hang out at the Koenig home and attend a screening of Walter’s “Moontrap” at the Director’s Guild. He had a Science Fiction novel coming out that year and his publisher’s sister was in our class. So I talked to her about “Pray Serpent’s Prey” and sent a copy to her brother, who telephoned me a few months later with a contract offer. The rest is history. On a side note….years later, when I was well more established, I connected Walter with a publisher friend who published a version I edited of that very same Science Fiction novel, “Buck Alice and the Actor-robot.” Another Star Trek side note is I recently published Matthew Ewald’s HUMAN NATURE, and Matthew plays James T. Kirk in “Star Trek: Phase One.”

NR: Did your sister’s death have a profound effect on your outlook on life in general? On your career?

NG: Yes it did. That experience was terrible. She was abducted from her school and all of Sacramento, it seemed, was looking for her. The story was on the news all the time for awhile. It’s what made me move from Southern Cal in 1995 to be with my parents up North. The wife of one of O.J. Simpson’s attorneys offered us her services and drove us around town to investigate potential sightings, thinking she was being prostituted around. In October of that year, two kids found her body in a drainage ditch. It was so decomposed they thought she was a Halloween costume, and she had to be identified by her dental records. I was there when my parents got the phone call. The mystery of what exactly happened to her went cold case. But she was autistic, and I’ll never forget when my parents told me a Sacramento police officer’s opinion was that perhaps she fell into that ditch herself. If you want to talk traumatic events, that shook my world. But when I was in junior high, I came across my grandmother’s suicide with several margarine-sized buckets filled with her blood under her bed and blood palm prints all over the walls. My cousin died when he hooked up his chest to his guitar amplifier to hear his heartbeat right after he took a shower, and my aunt found him dead when she went to wake him up for school. The very night my parents said their goodbyes when they first moved up to Sacramento with my sister, my other grandma died in her sleep, and my aunt who lived with her died suddenly of an unforeseen blood disorder while dialing 911 soon afterwards. Has this had an effect on me? Certainly. But I was writing horror and bizarre stories all throughout and before. But I think experiencing tragedy has had a direct effect on my philosophy that writing, for whatever else it is, is therapy. It’s the best therapy I ever had. Music, too.

NR: How is Black Bed Sheet Books coming along?
NG: Black Bed Sheet Books, much like my personal career, has never taken a step backwards, always moving forward, no matter to what degree, but if you only knew the half of the obstacles I’ve overcome to maintain BBS and compare it to what BBS has accomplished for my authors as well as myself, I’m comfortable in saying it’s moved all involved a bit forward in our career goals. Now that doesn’t mean we’re all making money off of this. Financial backing and fundage is scarce and often hurts our abilities to advertise in ways that are too costly. We rely on not only the exceptional material we publish, but the ambitions and abilities of our authors to help us promote them after putting the blood sweat and tears it takes for me to package their works into impressive, sellable products that say “read me” all over them and can make an impression in the industry and broaden the author’s readership. I started BBS because I’ve seen too many authors get taken by others in this biz, and because I have a real desire to publish and invest in people who are just like me in that I strive to write for a living (in our case predominantly in the horror genre). And looking at our past year and a half I’m proud that BBS has established a solid presence in the horror community, and for some authors we have made dreams come true, put out titles to be proud of, and we do that these days better than ever, through previous trials and errors and minor flaws. I think so far BBS has published a couple dozen solid books in a year and a half, and looking back at a few of them I could’ve done far better had I published them now. BBS is a constant education for me, my living, my way of life. That sounds profound, but it’s what I chose to do. So, lately, as of this writing, I renewed some contracts, just released four exceptional Summer titles, we have awesome late Fall/Christmas titles, have a radio show and video show in the works, and are working with foreign translation rights. Last year, the P&E poll listed us as the fifth best independent publisher in the country, something like that. And we’re branching off into BBS Productions, where I hope to produce independent film somehow, and an imprint which does Children’s and cook books called BANANA PHONE BOOKS. Because of my fiance Francy’s blogtalk radio show, which is Fox affiliated, I’m doing a cook book with some cool HELL’S KITCHEN alumni.

NR: What’s the key to success in the world of publishing these days? Print media seems as though it is in a slump.
NG: A key to success is persistence. There’s no real key. There’s a combination of keys. It’s like a lock to a safe you’ve stored your success in and you don’t know the combination and you have several digits to work with. The combination works different for all of us. One digit could represent writing a good novel, another digit involving what you do with that novel, another digit can represent a balance in your personal life, another one nothing but chance –like running into someone important that leads to the right combination number clicking into place, another one representing how well you use your resources……you get the picture. You know, I think the real key to success is what you’re willing to put into it, and how well time works with you. Most people die before ever opening that safe. If you put your mind to it, you can sell a print book as much as you can a book in any format.

NR: What’s on the horizon for you right now?

NG: A radio show, blogtalk radio anyways, and directing my first feature “Cutting Edges.” Also, A SHOT IN THE DARK COMICS has out its first issue of comics inspired by the stories in my collection RED WET DIRT. A graphic novel is due soon from my “The Father Keeper” zombie novella. My book THE DOWNWARDENS is on the horizon. Maybe a Michael Myers anthology with BBS???????

NR: Any last words for your readers?

Buy BBS books and products! Support us and all indy horror, in print, on screen, on stage and in fine art and comics, and music. Peace, love, and progress to all! Inspiration & Horror, baby!

The Black Bed Sheet/Downwarden.com Newsletter 6/2010

Hello all,

Summer is here and we are proud to announce the release of our new summer titles: Matthew Ewald’s HUMAN NATURE, Horns’ CHOPHOUSE, S.D. Hintz’s BLOOD ORCHARD, and Jason M. Tucker’s MEAT CITY & OTHER STORIES. I’ll be announcing what I’m calling our FALL LINEUP soon, but, well heck, I have three titles being released for the holidays and I’m announcing them now: Jeremy Jaynes’ THE GOLDEN KINGDOM, Sue Dent’s ELECTRIC ANGEL, and the poetry/photo collection MIRRORED SPIRITS/KINDRED SOULS. I’ve initiated the process of moving forward with two exciting BBS projects, a MICHAEL MYERS ANTHOLOGY which already has the involvement of some HUGE names in the genre, and that COOK BOOK I’ve been talking about which will feature some HELL’S KITCHEN ALUMNI is the focus of our first release under our imprint BANANA PHONE BOOKS (which will also soon afterwards finally publish children’s books). Titles in current development also include works by Eric Enck, Cinsearae Santiago, Shawn-a-lee McCutcheon-Bell (formally Cassandra Lee), and Jake Istre.

We’ve gotten into an exceptionally busy mode where events and appearances are being planned and we’re expanding. Also, for last year’s August First authors, I’ll be contacting each of you about contract extension possibilities and some cool things I have in mind. There’s lots of exciting things happening both with BBS as well as my own works, which you can check out in detail through our site (www.downwarden.com, http://www.downwarden.com/blackbedsheet, fully updated and re-vamped at last) as well as Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace and everything else we have our fingers in. Here are a few of the important matters:
All of our titles are on Amazon Kindle now, with all of the kinks worked out. The problem is, Kindle always throws me new kinks, but everything there seems to be in order this time. Mid-June also marks the debut of all our titles on the following Ebook formats:

Adobe Ebook
Palm OS,
Windows Mobile,
Windows PC, Mac,
iPhone / iPod Touch
Microsoft Reader (pending)
Mac OS X
Sony Reader

Our titles MIDNIGHT SECRETS and THE BUTCHER BRIDE have been re-edited for these formats.

Horrorfind Weekend happens to be one of those few large convention-sized events that takes place on this continent where we, who are all on budgets, can push the kinds of books that we have most effectively if we put ourselves in the center of it all, mingle with the people who do what we do, and face crowds with money to spend who will never shake their heads at you and say things like “Naw thanks…not much for horror…” as they would at your average neighborhood B&N. This year’s con is paying particular attention to horror authors, and I’ve committed myself to be there.

Here are details:
September 3-5 2010 in Gettysburg PA

By special arrangement with Brian Keene, BBS is scheduled to have a MEET & GREET that Saturday, 5:30-7pm. I’m also making arrangements to have 2-3 tables in the dealer’s room. I plan on making us a solid presence there, with interview opportunities, special group events I’ll coordinate where we can film readings & antics and post them later on Youtube, we’ll have a live Blogtalk radio podcast, and I’ll have promo materials we can toss around everywhere. I want to exhibit our book trailers at screenings, whatever we have to show at the time. Hell, if you’re all up for it, we can cloak ourselves in black bed sheets and march into our own meet and greet like a death choir or something from out a side door, put on a pre-planned show before we sit down and answer questions. The noise alone will attract people. Besides, I hate stuffy conventional convention panels. I’d like to do something unintrusive but beyond the norm that will draw people to see what’s going on.

At any rate, I can’t make this happen for us without your help. I need a show of hands, we can all pitch in to get a room or two and for a dealers’ table or two or three, pool our money together and make it cheaper for all of us and make a go of it. Alas, we are not offical special guests, not even I, so individually we have to afford our own means to get there as well as our passes to the event (although if you’d like to pitch in funds towards our dealer’s room presence they give us an amount of passes depending on how many tables).

I’m also planning a marketing campaign that involves the Red Wet Dirt comics for the event….

Any of you, let me know your interest, questions, shouts, rants, and let’s make this happen. Pricing details are also at the Horrorfind website listed above.
( https://blackbedsheet.goshopper.net )

A few customers at the online store have had problems with ordering, and here’s what I sad to one:

I apologize….if you’re paying with a credit card, that issue comes up as there are problems integrating my business bank account and ability to accept credit cards with the web host….although the Paypal option and printable snailmail-in form have been the ways customers have been successfully ordering. Again, my apologies for this problem. Until it’s resolved, I do safely process credit card orders personally….if you prefer to order directly with me, don’t email your credit card number to me but rather email your phone number and best time to call, and I’ll personally talk to you and take care of your order. Although we’re an independent small press and have our ticks and quirks, we are #1 in our genre where many independent presses rise and fall.

Just a brief note: our titles are also available at most major outlets, both online and in physical book stores. There was a recent issue with my printer which has caused a short delay in the process of making the four new summer titles widely available, but that issue is resolved and these titles should be up on Amazon, B&N, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Amazon Kindle, Adobe Ebook, Palm Reader, and a multitude of online shopping networks within another day or so if they aren’t already.

I’m here to serve and sell, and to assist you.

The RED WET DIRT comics are coming!! The first issue, “Looks Like a Rat to Me,” is going to print soon (it will also be featured at Horrorfind), and A SHOT IN THE DARK COMICS has been offering ad space with a special price for our BBS authors. This is what John Graham of ASITD wrote to me:

“the final pricing for a quarter page ad would be 18 dollars, not super pricey due to smaller print run here at the beginning. If they want a half page, then it would be 36 and full page would be 72. Their ad will run through the 2010 print run.”

I’ve seen the full comic and it is SWEET! Let me know if you’re interested.
Other Stuff and a Word or Two

Don’t forget what I’ve always stated since the get-go of my involvement in this industry….we’re all in the together, so let’s support each other. I choose my authors, as far as BBS is concerned, over not just their abilities to do some damn good writing, but on their ambition and passion and ability to learn and accept all the funky things thrown at you when you write something substantial and then throw it out to the very wolves you hope will buy it. I also understand how one can think highly of his/herself when you have a book out and think you’ve got it made, but, even if you’ve got it made, it’s all about how real you are, baby, through and through.
As always, for important updates, please visit http://www.downwarden.com/blackbedsheet regularly, or subscribe to http://www.twitter.com/blackbedsheet, our Facebook page, etc.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, watch MUFFIN MAN, our first official production (although it ain’t fresh) presented by SPIKE TV!

Now I gotta get busy promoting……

Thanks everybody, and take care,

—Nicholas Grabowsky

Black Bed Sheet Books/Productions