Friday, December 13, 2019

Book Copy for Vanished

I finished up my edits on Vanished this morning. It clocked in at just over 31,000 words (about 125 pages). Here's the blurb for it:

Sheriff Will Barnaby is summoned when a member of the missing Hanson party stumbles into the mining town of Wilton, Colorado. Tommy Hanson is dazed and muttering about terrors in the valley near Wilton. The Hanson family disappeared six months prior while setting out in wagons for a new life. Will realizes he'll have to round up a posse and investigate the Hanson boy's story. With the help of his deputy and two hired guns, Will sets out to discover what lurks out in the valley near Wilton.

He will find death and terror waiting for him outside Wilton. And an investigation into missing persons turns into a fight for survival.

An action-filled horror-western from the author of Murderland and the Last Ride.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Up Early and Writing

I took the day off from work for the Thanksgiving holiday. Got up at 5:45, and after puttering around on social media, I got about three-and-half pages done on Vanished. It's almost complete. I hit my target word count of 25,000 words for this one. It's probably going to finish up around 30,000 words when finished. 

Started watching The Mandalorian the other night and I'm loving it so far. They got the feel of Star Wars right (if Star Wars has a feel, I guess). A Facebook friend of mine suggested that Star Wars might be better suited to episodic television than movies, and I tend to agree. I'd like to see more shows in the SW Universe. Anyway, looking forward to episode three of The Mandalorian. 

Currently reading King's The Institute. Just checked Blake Crouch's Recursion out of the library. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Work on Vanished Continues

Vanished, my horror-western novella, is coming along. Just crossed the 20K word mark. I'm anticipating it will end up around 25K. This is one of those stories where I can't seem to get the words down fast enough. It pours out. Some stories are like that. Others are like squeezing the proverbial crimson fluid from stone, or at least they progress a little slower.

Jenn, my lovely wife of almost 25 years (anniversary is next week) got me a 72-pc set of Copic markers, which was an amazing surprise. Looking forward to doing a lot more drawing/sketching. We're also revamping our art/craft room in our basement with the intent of us both working down there. Looking forward to that, as well.

It's damned cold and dark in Buffalo. Fifteen degrees for a high today. We got around 8-10 inches of snow where I live (about 20 miles south of the city). As a lifelong Buffalonian, I should be used to this, but that first snowfall is always a little tough to take.  Every year, that snow gets a little heavier on the shovel.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Progress Continues on the Books

The Veil is holding at around 40,000 words. I've put it on hold temporarily to finish up Vanished, my horror-western novella. Vanished is clocking in at around 12,000 words and I anticipate it'll finish between 20-25K, which I think is a good length for a novella.

I've been drawing lately and will post some stuff here when I get a chance. I recently saw Joker and thought Phoenix was incredible. Currently reading King's The Institute. That's all for now.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Good Saturday Morning

Started today off with a dumbell/kettlebell workout. Hanging out with my oldest son. I'm writing and he's watching Food Network.

Might head up to the farmer's market today. My wife and I were joking last night about our wild night we had planned (a trip to Target and Lowe's). I think a routine/calm life is key if you want to be a writer. Having constant drama and being pulled in all directions only diminishes your writing. I've always been a fan of a quiet evening at home, and I've gotten a ton of writing done from my living room chair (where I'm sitting right now). I'm also at the point in my life where I just want to spend time at home with my wife and sons. That's my definition of a good life. Don't really need to go out to bars, etc. And getting more writing done is a nice by-product of those quiet evenings at home.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Doing Some Lunch Time Writing

A lunch or work break is one of the best times to get some writing done. I can't count how many pages I've gotten done on breaks over the years. It all adds up, even if you only get a few hundred words done. And it's better than listening to people act like their life is ending because Monday rolled around again. 

The Veil is clocking in at around 35,000 words right now. Making progress.

I'm currently reading The Institute by Stephen King and enjoying it quite a bit. The story is rocketing along, and I find myself thinking about the book when I'm not reading it. Usually a good sign for me, meaning I'll finish the book in short order. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Excerpt From My Horror Novella

I got down the first chapter of a horror novella the other day. It's called Vanished. I've had the desire to do a horror/western for a while. Here's the first chapter. I'm hoping to have this one done by year's end.

Excerpt from Vanished

Copyright 2019 Anthony Izzo


A knock came at Sheriff William Barnaby’s door roughly after midnight. Someone arriving at his door this late usually meant a body had turned up in town.
He was sitting by his woodstove and enjoying a whiskey.
Someone knocked again. The wind howled, rattling the small cabin.
“Goddamit I’m coming!”
He got up out of the rocking chair. At seventy, something hurt every day of his life. Tonight it was his back that was signing, despite the liniment the doc had given him to put on it. The hot ache sometimes spread down through his legs. It was getting worse with winter on the doorstep.
Before going to the door, Barnaby grabbed the double-barrel shotgun. He opened the breach, making sure it was loaded, then snapped it shut. Rumor had it that the Barton gang had broken out of prison in Yuma. Five brothers, two of them now dead, courtesy of Barnaby. Barnaby had been the one who sent them there, and he’d stood on the platform as the noose had been tied around Jake Barton’s neck. Jake had raped and murdered a rancher’s wife while the rest of the gang proceeded to rustle their cattle.
Barnaby had shot Terry Barton, one of the other brothers, through the neck. Son of a bitch wouldn’t go quietly. The other three brothers he’d sent to jail.
He approached the door. “Who’s there? Speak up or I’ll send buckshot through this fuckin door!”
“It’s Ernie, Sheriff. Don’t shoot.”
Barnaby opened the door to find Ernie Talbot standing on his front porch. The deputy had on his customary duster. His hat was slung low, covering his eyes. If it weren’t for his light blonde hair and baby face, Ernie might’ve passed for a real gunslinger. People were fooled by Ernie. He looked about twelve, but he could shoot the balls of a fly at a hundred paces.
“And to what do I owe the pleasure?” Barnaby asked. “Somebody dead?”
“Naw. Can I step in? I’m freezing my ass off.”
Barnaby stepped back from the door and waved Ernie inside. He scurried over to the woodstove and put his hands out to warm them.
“You’re interrupting my whiskey. Get on with it.”
“Were you really gonna shoot, Will?”
“Bartons are on the loose, if you haven’t heard. I’m a crabby old fuck, but I like to think I have a few more years in me. Don’t need those boys coming around and cutting my life short,” Barnaby said.
“Damn. Yeah, they probably got it in for you,” Ernie said.
“Why are you here, Ernie?”
“Right. Maggie Cummings wants you to come see something. Some kid wandered into town. Barefoot. Feet all torn up. Won’t say a damned word. Clothes are covered in blood. I don’t think he can talk.”
“You could’ve handled this, come and got me in the morning. Why now?”
“Because he was with the Hanson party.”
A slight chill passed over him. Barnaby slid up next to Ernie. “Look at me.”
The young deputy turned his head.
“You sure this boy was with the Hanson party?”
Ernie swallowed, then nodded. “I’m sure. It’s Bev Hanson’s second youngest. I’d know him if he was my own. Seen him around town a million times before they set out.”
“Shit. All right. I’ll get my gun belt and we’ll head over there.”

Barnaby lived just outside of town, his cabin built on a hill overlooking Wilton. The miners had built this place shortly after finding copper in the ground ten years ago. He mostly broke up fights and put drunks in jail for the night. That was until the Bartons came around and started terrorizing local ranchers. He probably should’ve put all five of them in the ground when he’d had the chance.
Barnaby and Ernie rode down Wilton’s main street. Maggie lived in a place above one of the saloons. The two of them hitched their horses, then proceeded upstairs.
Barnaby knocked. “Maggie, it’s Will Barnaby. Ernie says you got trouble.”
The door opened. Maggie stood there holding a lantern. She had a scar that ran from her eye and curled around her mouth. Didn’t make her any less pretty. Her shithead of a husband had given her that scar. Barnaby had sent him to prison, as well.
“Thank you for coming, Will. He’s in the other room.”
Barnaby removed his hat, as did Ernie. He stroked his mustache, making sure there were no crumbs caught in it. Smoothed out his hair. Despite the other aches and pains that came with aging, and the fact that his bowels worked less frequently than he liked, he’d kept his hair. Age hadn’t taken that from him. His mane was longish and a shiny white-silver. He put hair tonic in it daily, although he would never admit that to anyone.
He supposed a pretty young thing like Maggie would never notice an old coot like him, but he still liked to keep up appearances.
The apartment had a kitchen and a bedroom. It smelled good in here, like fresh baked bread. Maggie had a stack of books on her table. She wanted to be a librarian someday, or so she had told Barnaby.
“Ernie says the boy was wandering down the street?” Barnaby asked.
Maggie nodded. “The wind was rattling the windows something awful. I looked outside and happened to see him. I went downstairs and rustled him inside. Tried to get him to drink some hot tea, but he wouldn’t. He just stares. Won’t say a word.”
“Ernie says he’s one of the Hansons?”
“He is. Tommy Hanson.”
Part of him wished the boy had never wandered into town. The Hansons were gone. Forgotten. Whatever fate they had met was out there, on the trail to California. It seemed distant, like something he’d never have to think about. No one talked about it. Now it was back in his lap and he had to deal with it.
He sighed. “All right. Let’s have a look at the boy.”

Barnaby entered the bedroom to find the boy sitting on the bed. His legs dangled over the sides. His bare feet were cut up and torn. Dirt smudged his cheeks, and his hair hung in greasy clumps. He was about ten-years old. A sour, wild smell came off of him.
Ernie came in behind, followed by Maggie.
“I’d like to wash him up, get some of the dirt off his face, if that’s okay,” Maggie said.
Barnaby spied a wash basin and some cloths on the night stand. She had already planned on cleaning the boy up. Despite the situation, he grinned. That was Maggie, sweet and kind-hearted. “I think that’s be just fine.”
Maggie shifted around him and sat next to Tommy Hanson on the bed. She dipped one of the cloths in the basin and began dabbing at the dirt on the boy’s face. He didn’t seem to take notice.
Barnaby hunkered down in front of the bed, trying to get eye-level with the boy. “Tommy, I’m Sheriff Barnaby. Can you hear me?”
The boy just stared.
“Where did you come from?”
Barnaby looked down at the bare feet. They were cut up something awful. He didn’t see any signs of frostbite, though. “Ernie, go get the doc. I want him to patch up the boy’s feet.”
“No, at dawn tomorrow. Yes, now,” Barnaby said.
“Right, Will. Of course,” Ernie said, and hurried out of the room.
Will placed a hand on the boy’s arm. “Tommy, you can talk to me. You’re safe. Now can you tell me what happened?”
Still nothing.
“Did someone hurt you? Where’s your family?”
Tommy’s lower lip began to quiver, and he let out a scream that sounded like an animal being slaughtered. It startled Will, rocked him back on his heels, and he wound up on his ass. Maggie jumped off the bed, dropped the washcloth. It landed on the floor with a wet plop.
Goddamn, this was going to be one hell of a night.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Excerpt From My Supernatural Thriller - The Veil

I crossed the 30K word mark on the work-in-progress. It's called the Veil, and deals with another realm/world (the afterlife) and the war between good and evil that exists there.

Here's the first chapter and a look at the cover. I'll likely tweak the cover, as well, before publication. This one will be out sometime this winter.

The Veil 

Copyright 2019 Anthony Izzo


Frank Combs saw the odd-looking guy enter the convenience store. From his car, Frank observed the man turn right and pass a display of snow shovels. Next to the snow shovels were bottles of blue wiper fluid marked on sale.  
The odd guy wore Ray Bans and a Dodgers baseball cap with a hood pulled over it. The sunglasses were out of place, as gray clouds were spitting rain on his windshield. He seemed hunched over as he walked, dragging his feet on the sidewalk. He might have taken the guy for a homeless person, except the clothes he wore were clean. 
Frank stopped here every morning on the way to work to get a large coffee and cinnamon roll. The coffee was fair. The roll was good. It didn’t hurt that the woman behind the counter called him hon. She was nice-looking. She had shocking pink hair and lots of tattoos, a far cry from any woman he’d ever been with.  
He supposed a little harmless flirting was okay.  
Kristen wouldn’t mind. He was pretty sure she had a little crush on the manager at Whole Foods, as she’d let it slip that he looked a little like Chris Evans. Frank had taken to referring to the manager as Captain America. Kristen usually rolled her eyes at that. 
The rain pelted the car and wasn’t letting up. He decided to head in and get his coffee. Maybe he’d get a cinnamon roll, after all. 
Frank hopped out of the car and scurried to the door. 
Inside, the smell of fresh-brewed coffee greeted him. He nodded to the clerk. Her name was Sara, she of the pink hair. 
“Cinnamon roll today hon?” 
“Maybe. Watching the girlish figure.” 
She laughed and it was goddamned musical. 
He headed for the coffee station and eyed the man with the sunglasses. The man stood in front of a freezer case and was staring at the frozen pizzas. His lips moved but no words came out. 
Frank decided to move along, filling his cup with a dark roast and popping a lid on. Some days he liked cream, but all they had today were little containers of flavored, ersatz creamer. That stuff was crap. 
He decided against the cinnamon roll today. He stayed in decent shape, hitting the gym three times a week. At the same time, he couldn’t deny the little belly hanging over the belt. The pastries weren’t helping that any. 
The man with the sunglasses approached, buzzing past Frank and muttering to himself. He left a whiff of laundry soap in his wake. The man stopped at the end of the aisle, inspecting the Little Debbie and Hostess snacks on a rack. He muttered something else to himself and proceeded to the counter. 
Frank found it weird that the man hadn’t purchased anything. Maybe he was going to ask for something at the counter. 
Sara said, “Help you find something?” 
Without saying a word, Sunglasses reached in his pocket and came out with a revolver. Duct tape covered the handle. Frank dropped his coffee, the black liquid seeping into the grout in the floor tiles. He couldn’t take his eyes off the gun. 
Okay maybe he’s a junkie looking for drug money. Play it cool and he’ll leave without firing a shot. 
“I’ll open the drawer for you. I can’t get to the safe. The manager’s not here yet,” Sara said, her voice level and calm. Frank wondered if they had been robbed before and she’d been through this type of thing. 
The guy didn’t seem to be paying much attention to Frank. He considered rushing the man, but it would only take a quick turn and a pull of the trigger to gun Frank down.  
“You think I want money?” 
“Okay, just take it easy,” Sara said.   
All dogs gotta die,” the guy said, leveling the gun at Sara. 
What the hell did that mean? 
“Hey man, take it easy,” Frank said, and moved toward the counter. 
In one swift move, the robber turned, aimed, and shot Frank. The bullet hit him like a tank and sent him to the ground. 

In every action movie Frank had seen, when the hero took a bullet to the shoulder or arm, he shook it off. Gritted his teeth and went on kicking ass and taking names. That wasn’t the case in real life. He’d been hit in the right shoulder, and it was as if a major league slugger had whacked him with a bat.  
That, and it hurt like a son of a bitch. Intense, fiery pain shot through his arm and shoulder. His stomach swirled. Blood seeped into his dress shirt, turning the powder blue a dark red. How long did it take to bleed to death?  
He was no stranger to guns. He owned two of them, and shot regularly. Never did he imagine he’d be shot. He found himself thinking that he wouldn’t finish the website article that his boss wanted done today. Nice job, Mr. Social Media Manager. At least he had a good excuse, being potentially mortally wounded. 
“My job here’s done,” he heard the guy say, and when he looked up, the guy was pressing his way out the door. He didn’t take any money. Just some random psycho. 
 Sara the clerk was already running over, her phone pressed to her ear. She knelt by Frank. He could hear the 911 operator over the phone asking for details.  
“Hang in there, hon. They’re on the way.” 

The next hour or so – it could’ve been longer or shorter – was a blur. The medics were pressing on his shoulder to stop the bleeding, giving him pain meds, asking him a million annoying questions. He was whisked into the ambulance and the EMT riding in the back told the driver to punch it. 
He’d managed to give them Kristen’s name and cell phone number. 
They pulled him out on the gurney and they whipped him past Kristen, who reached out and gave his hand a quick squeeze as he passed by. He was out for a bit, then in. He remembered being wheeled into an operating room and then having the anesthesia mask placed over his face. 
When he woke up, Kristen was seated next to his bed. There were tubes and wires hooked up to him. A steady beeping droned in the background. His tongue felt like it had been scrubbed with steel wool.  
A dull throb settled in his shoulder. His head felt fuzzy and he guessed the pain meds were coming steadily through his IV. 
“How am I?” Frank asked. 
“Well, you made it through.” 
Kristen was wearing yoga pants and a loose, gray hoodie. Her brown hair was tied back in a ponytail. She’d had the day off today and had been in casual clothes when the cops had called her. 
“My arm?” 
“There might be some nerve damage. Too early to tell,” she said. “But you made it. The police want to talk to you when you’re up for it. God, Frank, I was so scared when I got the call.” 
“Glad you’re here,” he said. “Did you call work?” 
She rolled her eyes. “Yes. Like that’s the most important thing. Sheila said they’re all thinking about you.” 
“You’re beautiful, know that?” 
She smiled. “I think that’s the pain meds talking.” 
“Sincerely,” he said, although it came out Shinsherly. “Glad you’re here.” 
“You already said that. Close your eyes and get some rest. You’ll need it.” 

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...