Friday, May 25, 2018

Movie Nights and Book Progress

Last Sunday, my wife and I attended a special screening of Jaws. Richard Dreyfuss was on hand and spent about an hour telling stories and answering questions. He went to great lengths to dispel the notion of a feud between him and Robert Shaw on set. He did say that Shaw had a way of having his number, and that he was in awe of the more seasoned actor.

It was a blast watching the movie with fellow Jaws fans. The crowd cheered when Shaw and Dreyfuss' characters made their respective first appearances on screen. Scheider's "bigger boat" line also got a cheer. Plus, the crowd screamed when Ben Gardner's severed head appears in the ruined boat.

Monday,  we saw Deadpool 2. I liked it even better than the first. Ryan Reynolds' smart-ass remarks combined with action and gratuitous violence make for an entertaining movie. Next up will be Solo.

I didn't get a whole lot done on The Last Ride this week.  Hoping to ramp up the writing this coming week.

Overall, I've had one of my best sales months in a while. I attribute this to increased blogging and paying for some ads.  Always a challenge trying to get eyes on the books and gain new readers.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Last Ride and Notebook Number 3

I've been writing The Last Ride in legal pads. Just started the third notebook (50 pages each). I like the notebooks sometimes because I can write anywhere. They're also free from distraction, as it's sometimes too easy to pop onto the Internet.

I'm looking at having The Last Ride done by the end of summer, barring any complications. I had originally envisioned it as a novella, but it's growing into a novel. Deciding to just let the story go where it wants.

Will probably play some God of War with my oldest son in a bit.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Blood on the Mountain Continues: Enter the Night, Chapter Three

Tonight I'm posting Chapter Three of Enter the Night. It's got an abandoned asylum and madmen running around in a snowstorm stalking the contestants on a ghost-hunting show.

If you like what you see, you can purchase Enter the Night here

Copyright 2018 Anthony Izzo


Dan Harris staples the poster with Lindsay’s photo onto the telephone pole. It also has his number and a number for the state police. He’s in a small town called Slate Falls. It’s twenty miles from Iron Mountain, where Lindsay disappeared. 
He looks at the photo. Her hair is tied back. The sun is shining on her face. She’s so damned beautiful. He chokes back the tightness in his throat and wipes his eyes. Tears feel like they’ll freeze out here.
A woman in a ski jacket stops. She’s sipping something from a cup labeled Java Joint.
“Your girlfriend?”
“FiancĂ©,” Dan says.
“What happened?”
“She was abducted on a camping trip at Iron Mountain. I had proposed the night before,” Dan says.
“Aw,” she says, and clucks her tongue. “I hope you find her.”
“Don’t suppose she looks familiar?”
“I’m sorry. She’s very pretty though.”
The woman goes on her way, sipping her beverage. Dan has a website set up dedicated to Lindsay’s disappearance. He regularly posts photos of her on social media and asks people to share. Lindsay’s disappearance was in the news for a bit, then the story faded. The cops searched, said there were thousands of acres of wilderness. No luck.
He’s going back to the mountain to look for her. Back in Buffalo, he’d made a promise to Lindsay’s father. The old bastard doesn’t like Dan, but the guy is dying from pancreatic cancer. Has months left. He hopes to see his daughter again before the end.
He’s shivering. The temperature is hovering around twenty and the wind whips up snow in mini-cyclones. 
He decides to head back to the hotel.
The hotel lobby has a fireplace that would heat the great hall of a castle. It’s a giant stone thing with a beam for a mantle. Dan stands in front of it, rubs his hands together. A couple in matching ski sweaters are sipping wine on a nearby couch.
He feels a pang of bitterness. That should be Lindsay and him.
Once his hands are warm, he goes back to his room. Takes off his coat and sets it on a chair. 
His pack is ready to go, with enough supplies for a week. He’s got a tent and sleeping bag. In a case under the bed he has a Remington twelve gauge and a .45 semiautomatic. 
Dan will have to be careful. There’s some reality ghost hunting show being shot on the mountain. He doesn’t want too many questions from people.
He picks up the phone receiver and dials. Sheila, his future mother-in-law, answers.
“It’s Dan. How’s Howard?”
“About the same. Pain’s a little worse.”
“Tell him I’m heading up to the mountain in the morning,” Dan says.
“Do you think you’ll find anything?” she says.
“I promised I’d try. And I have to know.”
“She’s gone Dan. I’ve accepted it. Why can’t you?” Sheila says.
“I guess that’s what makes me different,” Dan says.
“She didn’t want to go,” she says.
A stab of guilt hits him. “I know. I’m going to make this right.”
“She’s gone,” Sheila says, and begins sobbing. Dan waits a moment.
“Will you tell Howard I’m heading out to search?”
“He’s groggy from the pain meds, but I’ll tell him,” Sheila says.
“Appreciate it. Thanks,” Dan says, and hangs up the phone.
He considers ordering something from room service, or maybe heading to the hotel bar for a beer. Instead, he settles for a protein bar from his stash and plops on the bed. 
Big day tomorrow.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

More Horror: Chapter Two of Enter the Night

Here's chapter two of Enter the Night.

If you like what you're reading so far, you can purchase it here.

Copyright 2018 Anthony Izzo


The first thing Heather Benson sees is the truck sitting in the lodge’s parking lot. She’s not in charge of logistics. She’s the host. It’s her job to look good and encourage drama between the contestants on the show. Oh, and sell America that this mountain might be a little haunted.
“Seems odd they left the truck out here,” George Sampson says. He’s wearing a pea coat with a colorful scarf wrapped up under his thick beard. 
“The door’s open, too,” Heather says. 
The man driving the SUV parks it. The rest of the crew vehicles pull in behind them. The cast is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. 
Heather gets out. It’s snowing lightly. The powers that be at Blackmore Productions and the network are worried about the blizzard. Worried about it affecting production. “Have you seen the radar lately?”
George rounds the SUV. “Projected to hit late next week.”
“Well, we wanted extreme conditions,” Heather says.
“It’ll make for better television,” George says.
A red pickup truck pulls up next to them. The man who gets out is mountain-sized and wearing a stained Carhartt coat. He’s got a clipboard tucked under his arm. “What the fuck?”
There’s a second pickup, a Dodge Ram, parked behind the cube truck. Heather hadn’t noticed that at first.
“Heather, this is Don Larsen, he’s the crew foreman. You want something built or moved, Don’s the man.”
Larsen grunts hello and heads for the truck. He hoists himself up into the cab and examines something. He gets down, takes out a cell phone, and punches in a number.
Heather, curious, heads over where Larsen is talking. She tries to look casual, peering up at the lodge. 
“Bob, it’s Don. Where the fuck are you guys? And why’d you leave the trucks out here? Call me pronto,” Larsen says, and hangs up. 
“Where’d your guys go?” Heather asks.
“Fuck all if I know,” Larsen says. “Sampson, got a minute?”
George comes over. The wind whips the tail of his scarf. “Problem?”
Larsen moves in close to George. Heather sidles up next to George. Larsen either doesn’t notice or doesn’t mind.
“Bob Grey keeps a .44 in his truck. Everyone knows it. No one talks about it. The case was open on his seat. The gun’s gone,” Larsen says in a low voice. Steam puffs from his mouth each time he talks.
“Maybe he saw a bear,” Heather says.
“I don’t know what possessed him to bring out the gun,” Larsen says.
“How about we have a look?” George says.
“Maybe they were drinking. Probably passed out in the garage,” Heather says.
Larsen shakes his massive head. “They like to party, but when it comes to work, they’re rock solid. They wouldn’t leave the trucks out here like that.”
“The garage is open too,” George says.
They move over to the maintenance garage. Six inches of snow have piled up in the doorway. There’s no sign of the men. 
“I’m calling the Highway Patrol,” Larsen says.
“Now wait a second,” George says. “I have to check with the powers that be at the network and the company. It could ruin our shoot.”
“Fuck your shoot,” Larsen says.
“Look, sponsors put up a half a mil as prize money. Not to mention all the advertisers. This is going prime time,” George says.
“Those are my guys out there,” Larsen says.
“It can’t hurt to have the cops come up and take a look. What if a bear did get them?” Heather says. “Just play it safe.”
“I suppose you’re right,” George says.
“Told you so,” Larsen says.
Engines rumble behind them. More trucks carrying camera equipment, the crew, and their belongings roll into the parking lot. 
“Have someone move the trucks,” George says. “We don’t want panic.”
“I’ll move them myself,” Larsen says. “Make sure he calls the cops.”
“I’m calling now,” Heather says, taking her phone from her pocket.

Heather and George are in the lodge’s lobby. There’s a massive front counter with an elk’s head hung over it. A chandelier made from antlers hangs above the leather furniture in the lobby. A stone fireplace dominates one side of the room. There’s a faint hint of wood smoke in the air. The lodge has been closed for a few years, but Heather imagines that smoke smell won’t entirely diminish.
This is the third show she’s hosted. The first was a blatant ripoff of the Bachelor called The Single Guy. The second was a ghost hunter show that took her to abandoned prisons and asylums. The ghost show lasted three seasons. Got good ratings. Hence, she has the job here.
The crew is moving camera and lighting equipment into the lodge. A moment later, the lights flick on. They got the power going. She’s hoping for hot water so she can take a bath later. 
The Highway Patrol is on the way up. George has called them.
“How long till they get here?” Heather says.
“Should be here any minute. Don’t think they were thrilled. They don’t want anyone up here, let alone some numb-nuts Hollywood crew.”
“You’ll smooth talk them, I’m sure,” she says.
He’ll get his chance, because a Highway Patrol officer comes in. His hair is shaved close and squared away. He wears a dark brown winter jacket over his tan uniform. 
He approaches them. “Which one of you called?”
“That’d be me,” George says.
“The trucks are out there?” the officer says. The name sewn on his jacket says Wendel. 
“That’s where we found them,” George says.
Larsen comes in the door and joins the group. 
The officer asks for ID from all three of them. They take out their licenses and hand them over. 
“Come outside with me,” he says. 
To Heather’s dismay, they follow him outside. She just wants to go up to her room. She figures the truck drivers probably wandered off drunk somewhere. 
The trooper takes their licenses to the patrol car and runs checks on them. A few minutes later, he gives them back the licenses. He’s carrying a clipboard with a form attached. “When’s the last time anyone heard from these men. Names?”
Larsen rattles off their names. He takes a pen from his breast pocket and begins writing on the form.
“Bob didn’t answer his phone. I called him about an hour ago,” Larsen says. He goes on to tell the trooper about the missing gun.
“Trucks were abandoned. Gun missing. You checked the lodge for them?”
Heather winces. They didn’t. “We didn’t.”
The officer rolls his eyes. “I’m going to have a look in the cab of the truck. Where is it?”
“I moved it into the garage,” Larsen says.
“Would’ve been better to leave it out here undisturbed,” Wendel says. “I’ll be right back.”
“The pick-up truck too,” Larsen says.
Wendel doesn’t answer. He strides toward the garage as if daring it to give him some shit. Heather thinks Trooper Wendel is short on humor and long on being a hard-ass. She watches the cop climb into the truck’s cab. He looks around. Then he does the same with the pick-up truck.
He comes back, stops, and writes more on the form. “Any footprints would’ve been covered by snow last night. We got a good eight inches. I’ll have a look in the lodge. If we don’t find them, we’ll get a search party out here.”
“Why would they need a gun?” Heather wonders. 
“I think we told your people someone disappeared up here a few months ago. Not crazy about having a film crew up here. Too much can happen,” Wendel says.
George says, “We’re aware of the Highway Patrol’s stance.”
Wendel gives him a long stare. “I’m going to go walk the lodge. I hope you don’t need our help while you’re up here.”
He walks off toward the lodge. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Vicious Killers, An Abandoned Asylum, and Mayhem: Enter the Night, Chapter One

Enter the Night is available on all digital platforms. Find out what happens when six reality show contestants come in contact with four escaped maniacs.  Here's the first chapter.  I'll post one chapter per night for the next few days.

Copyright 2018 Anthony Izzo


Truth be told, the mountain gives Bob Grey the creeps.
He steers the cube truck up the winding road. Hits the wipers. Snow begins to pelt the windshield. There’s a blizzard coming down from the Canadian Rockies that will hit later next week.
“Getting icy,” he says into the Bluetooth headset.
“Take her easy,” Gary Meyers says. Gary is in the Dodge Ram behind Bob’s truck.
“What’s the name of this show again?” Bob says.
“Enter the Night,” Gary says.
“How about we call it let’s get the fuck off this mountain? I’ll star in that show,” Bob says, and Gary meets this with braying laughter.
He steers the truck around a switchback and continues up the mountain. Takes a swig of coffee from his travel mug. It’s now lukewarm and bitter, but it’s better than nothing. “Why would anyone want to film a reality show up here?”
Gary says, “Couldn’t be Hawaii or South Beach, could it?”
“Honeys in bikinis and drinking on the beach. That’d be more like it.”
They’d passed the abandoned military base at the foot of the mountain, where rusted tanks and trucks sat abandoned behind a chain link fence. Bob is glad they don’t have to drive up to the abandoned hospital near the top of the mountain. He’s grateful to be stopping midway at the lodge.
“Lodge should be coming up,” Gary says.
Bob spots the rustic sign in his headlights. It reads: Iron Mountain Lodge. He brakes and turns onto the road that goes to the lodge.
The road twists and turns. He wishes for a Red Bull and maybe some caffeine pills to keep him sharp. For now, he contends with shitty gas station coffee. Dozing off at the wheel up here would be deadly.
The lodge comes into view: it’s four stories tall. Miles of roof. Hundreds of windows. He knows it was a playground for the rich in the last century. The Rockefellers stayed here on a regular basis. Howard Hughes used to rent an entire floor for himself. Now it looks like it wants to swallow people whole. At least in the dark. It’s probably fine, maybe even nice inside.
He parks the truck near the front of the lodge. A massive covered porch runs the entire length of the building.
Lights appear in his side mirror; Gary pulls up behind him in the Dodge.
He spots the maintenance garage; that’s where they are to park the cube truck. It’s loaded with supplies for the week-long shoot.
Bob has driven truck all over the country. The current gig with Blackmore Productions isn’t bad. The pay is decent. He’s home for good chunks of time. But right now, he’s shivering and wants to be back at the Holiday Inn, where he can order a Philly cheese steak from room service and watch a pay-per-view movie.
He gets out of the truck and the wind screams. He holds onto his Blackmore Productions trucker’s cap to keep it from blowing away. He wishes he’d brought a winter hat.
Gary fumbles with the keys before inserting the right one in the lock. He gives it a turn and cranks the door handle.
“Don’t just stand there. Help me lift the bastard,” Gary says.
They hoist the garage door open and Bob spots a pickup truck with a snowplow attached. There’s also a vehicle with tracks that looks like it belongs to the ski patrol.
The boss wants them to leave the truck in the garage and the film crew will unpack it.
He notices an odd smell: body odor. Like someone hasn’t showered in a month. Once, he’d gotten a whiff of a homeless guy who accosted him for a handout in Nashville. It reminds Bob of that. “Smell that? It’s really rank.”
Gary says, “Probably a dead critter got stuck in here.”
“Smells so bad I can almost taste it. I’ll get the truck,” Bob says.
“I’ll guide you in,” Gary says.
As Bob walks to the truck, Snow whips into his face. The wind moans again. His warm room back at the hotel comes to mind again.
Bob picks up his pace and reaches the truck. He hops in the cab. As he’s about to start it up, he hears a high-pitched scream. Someone in terrible pain.
He keeps a .44 Smith & Wesson in a case under the seat when he drives. Bob’s kept it there ever since being beaten and robbed on a run through East St. Louis. He gets out the revolver and loads it. There are brown bears on the mountain and he sincerely hopes he’s not about to run into one of those.
Bob hops out, bracing himself against the wind. The snow picks up and the garage is now barely visible. It’s going to be a bitch driving down the mountain in this.
He reaches the open garage door. “Gary, you okay?” he calls.
The snow lets up long enough and Bob sees a man with Gary’s body draped over his shoulder. Blood drips down and stains the snow. The man looks back. He’s wearing a gas mask, an olive-drab coat, and camo pants.
He turns and continues walking, carrying Gary like a sack of dry concrete.
“Hey! What the hell?”
Bob raises the Magnum, realizing Gary is in serious trouble, but he has no shot.
The man disappears around the garage.
Bob chases after him.

He catches up with the guy behind the garage, where the ground slopes downward. The man scurries down the embankment. He’s large but moves with the grace of a big cat. Again, Bob raises the gun, but he can’t shoot without possibly hitting Gary.
He can’t believe this is happening to his buddy. He’s known Gary eighteen years. They have hundreds of war stories from the road. Like that time at the Bunny Ranch near Vegas, which was legendary.
Bob reaches the embankment. It’s steep and rocky. There’s a good chance he’ll lose his footing and take a spill, but he has to help Gary. The stranger disappears into the blowing snow. Bob follows, sidestepping down the embankment. He picks his way over and around rocks. The snow stings his face. This is crazy.
Halfway down, his foot hits a rock and he falls forward. He tumbles down the embankment. His ankle turns with a sharp crack. Something pops in his wrist. He skids to a stop and ends up on his back.
Fresh blood dribbles down his chin. He tries to push himself to his feet, forgets about his injured wrist, and howls with pain. It’s sprained at the least, and the ankle feels just as bad.
Bob looks back up the embankment; he can’t see the garage. Even worse, he can’t see himself getting back up there on one leg. He peers down the embankment; the abductor is gone.
He’s lost the gun in the fall. He resigns himself to crawling back up the embankment and calling for help.
The ground crunches off to his right. It sounds like footsteps.
Someone materializes out of the snow; he’s hooded. Is that a fucking gas mask? The person towers over Bob. He knows this is going to end badly.
The person hunkers down and there’s a terrible, hot pain in Bob’s belly. Something stabs upward and it feels like his insides are being torn out.
He screams, but it melts into the wind and carries over the mountain.

Saw A Quiet Place II This Weekend

Jenn and I went for lunch yesterday, then saw A Quiet Place II at the Aurora Theater. The Aurora is a great little theater. One screen, and...