Author Archive: Eric Fritzius

Owner/operator of Mister Herman's Publishing Company and Mister Herman's Production Company, Ltd. Author of A Consternation of Monsters, available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats.

WHACK!

That feeling you get after you’ve spent half an hour editing the first few minutes of an audiobook file you recorded four days ago only to then hear your own voice on the recording say “Yeah, I kinda want to do this thing all over again” followed by sounds of coffee drinking, the humming of a solid note for several seconds designed to visually mark the recording to signal your future self as to where to begin the edit, and then your own voice starting the story anew.

It’s only due by Friday.

Coming Attractions

With my latest audiobook narration Mississippi Nights freshly released, I want to draw your attention to a future release coming later this summer.

I am currently recording the narration for the audiobook of How to Carry Bigfoot Home, by Chris Tarry.  I can safely report at this point that the stories within are just as impressive, funny, heart-breaking, and poignant as you would hope for a collection with a title like that.

Which is to say, it’s fantastic and I highly recommend it.  The style of the stories varies greatly between each, but Tarry always has a clever turn of phrase, with equal parts comedy and tragedy, often within the same story.

It has also been one of the more challenging audiobooks I’ve recorded, as I’ve had to learn how to approximate a few different accents that I’ve never attempted before (Newfoundland Irish, for instance.)  My hope is that they will be true to the emotions of the characters at all times, slavishly accurate secondarily, but I’m aiming for both.

If you enjoyed my own, A Consternation of Monsters, you’ll love this.

Look for How to Carry Bigfoot Home in August 2018.

“The Talkin’ Baby Bunny Burrito Blues”

From my office upstairs, I heard a cry of anguish from an animal downstairs.  I knew instantly it was not any of our crew of dogs and cats.  Tragically, the cry of anguish I had heard was the chirpy squeak of a baby bunny.

This is, unfortunately, not an unfamiliar sound in the Fritzius household.  Our cats have a cat door and are quite fond of bringing live animals, such as mice, and chipmunks, and squirrels, and baby bunnies into the house through it.  Especially baby bunnies.  I don’t know why they bother, because in 100 percent of cases so far, our dogs immediately take the baby bunnies away from the cats and then cheerfully devour them.  Oh, we try our best to stop it.  We scream “Leave it!  Leave it!  Leave it!” followed by “Drop it!  Drop it!  Drop it!” followed by “Eww, God, noooooo!  Just… just take it outside!  Outside!!!”  It’s a grisly business. The cats refuse to learn their lesson.

Hearing the anguished squeak downstairs, I cursed at the inevitable devouring that was about to befall the owner of the squeak, but I went out to see what little I could do about it anyway.  From the landing, I could see the doomed baby bunny on the downstairs floor below.  It had escaped from D.J. Kitty—the usual feline responsible for bringing bunnies in—who remained nearby, awaiting the chaos.  The bunny didn’t seem to be grievously injured, though, which was a plus in the bunny column.  Then it scurried across the floor and then over behind our entertainment center, where it was spotted by our middle-child dog Moose.  This put a very big minus in the bunny column, `cause Moose loves him a baby bunny.  He zipped after it.  What Moose failed to notice in his haste, but which I could see from my perch above the living room, was that the rabbit was no longer behind the entertainment center.  It had dodged beneath a low shelf and then moved swiftly along the baseboard of the back wall, passing the closed back door, across the rest of the room, and had then disappeared between the wall and the arm of a piece of furniture we call “the dog couch.”  (The “dog couch” is so named because it’s a ratty old sofa tucked in the corner, primarily used by the dogs, and not to be confused with the “good sofa” which we reserve for ourselves and also often the dogs.)

I sighed and trudged downstairs to begin the no doubt futile process of trying to catch this stinking rabbit.  I crept in the direction of the dog couch so as not to draw Moose’s attention to the bunny’s hiding place.  Moose was still behind the entertainment center and had been joined by our other two dog-children to form a bunny search party, sniffing everything and no doubt stepping on all my stereo wires.  Meanwhile, our other cat, Fatty Lumpkin, was dimly investigating the end of the dog couch where the bunny was hiding.  He knew something was there, but wasn’t all that excited about it, owing to his being a remarkably dumb animal.  As Fatty approached the end of the couch, the bunny popped suddenly out of his hiding place right in front of him.  This startled Fatty, who turned and fled the room.  Fatty’s flight, in turn, startled the bunny, who ran back behind the dog couch.  Great.

I stepped over and cracked open the back door, creating an escape route opened in the direction of the bunny’s hiding place.  I then slipped over and began rattling the strings of the Venetian blinds that hung down behind the arm of the dog couch in the hope of stirring the bunny.  Yep.  He popped back out into the open and toward the back door.  He then completely avoided safety and escape by hopping past the open back door and deeper into the living room.  In fact, he hopped in the very direction of the dogs, who were still looking for him behind the TV.  I was pretty sure I was about to witness natural selection in action.  However, the bunny then scurried on past the oblivious dogs, past the “good” couch and over to the still closed front door where he cornered himself at the juncture of the door frame and the adjacent wall.

I walked toward him as calmly as I could.  As I neared the tile in front of the door, I bent over and grabbed up the soft green rag carpet we keep there and tossed it into the air in the bunny’s direction just as he bolted.  He didn’t get far.  The carpet landed right in his path on the far side of our coat rack and he dove beneath its folds.  I stooped over and gently wrapped the carpet up, creating a bunny burrito, which I then took outside, closing the door behind me.  I prayed that the dogs had not noticed any of that.  Or, if they did, that they would then not remember the back door was still open.  It usually takes them less then five seconds to round the house when they’re motivated by the sweet taste of baby bunnies.

Hearing no thundering canine approach, I deposited our guest onto the patio.  He looked dazed for a moment, but hopped off into the night without so much as a thank you.  I watched him go, content in the knowledge that we finally helped score one for the bunnies.

Not that the dogs noticed.  They kept searching for him behind the TV for another five minutes.

 

Mississippi Nights audio book now available!

I’m pleased to announce that my latest effort as an audiobook narrator, Mississippi Nights by D.M. Webb, is now available.  It’s a Christian fiction romance/thriller set in my home state of Mississippi.

I had a lot of fun narrating this because, in addition to getting to voice some colorful characters, I was impressed at the how the author deftly and playfully lampoons many of the tropes of the Nicholas Sparksy-style romantic fiction genre while still writing a legit romantic thriller.  I also appreciated that the book tackles some serious real world issues in a way that does not suggest easy answers to the problems.

I can also report that it got a little dusty in the ol’ recording booth at times, as I, the narrator, was sometimes unprepared for the emotional impact of the story.  (While I admit to bawling my eyes out watching movies, I rarely cry reading books.  This one got me more than once.)

MISSISSIPPI NIGHTS–  Two brothers, one death – the bond of brotherhood and family faces its greatest challenge. When firefighter David Boyette’s fiance perishes in a car accident, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death.  Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devastating secret. With the help of family, a woman’s love, and a child’s devotion, can David overcome insurmountable odds as he and Jeremy face the bitterness that enslaves him? 

Mississippi Nights is available through Audible.comAmazon.com, and iTunes.

 

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Eaglemoss TARDIS Special Edition Figurine

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.) 

 

There are a few white whales out there in terms of TARDISes that are not in my TARDIS collection.  Some of these, such as either of the hand-made polystone TARDIS “diorama” models by Big Chief Studios, are pretty damn pale in terms of white whales.  They seem like gigantic, 20″ high versions of my beloved Electronic Flight Control TARDIS, complete with lights and sound, but with a huge boost in quality.  And as much as I would love one, the reason I’ve not bought one is because they are just stupid expensive even at base retail price, going for between $250 and $400 depending on the retailer.  I buy one of those and my wife will probably see it as grounds for divorce.

However, there are other TARDIS models and toys that were well below the Big Studios threshold when they were first offered for sale, but which, once out-of-stock, became rare and saw their price triple.  One such specimen is the TARDIS Special Edition Figurine released by the Eaglemoss model company.

For those not in the know, Eaglemoss is a company that specializes in spaceship models and sculpted figurines of pop culture characters, usually cast in metal.  They have figurine lines for Star Trek, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, The Walking Dead, and others, but have spent most of the last decade producing a line of Doctor Who figurines as well.  And the fact that I don’t own any of the figurines from this line is pretty much down to marriage preservation, too, for each of the Doctors originally retail for $17.95, making a 12 Doctor set cost-prohibitive unless purchased in the $35 four-pack sets, and even then… really?

Eaglemoss made a TARDIS, though, which is a white whale that’s been singing a siren call to me for several years.  It originally retailed for $35, which seemed not unreasonable to me.  Trouble was, shipping was another $15 on top of that, which I could not justify.  Of course, they usually offer free shipping on orders of $60 or more, but that meant having to buy two of them, or finding some other stuff to order with it and before you know it I had well over $100 of stuff in my cart when all I really wanted was one stinkin’ TARDIS and I’d get fed up and walk away.  After, let’s say, two years of doing this, the Eaglemoss TARDIS went out-of-stock.  And even though they have a little box where you can leave your email in case they re-stock, they are not known for actually re-stocking what was the whole time intended to be an individually numbered limited print run, so that’s not happening.  I soon began seeing my former $45 TARDIS for sale on eBay for upwards of $100.  And when it was anywhere under $50, it was always a seller in England and they tacked on another $40 for shipping to the U.S.–which was never gonna happen on my watch.   I sadly resolved myself to the likelihood that the Eaglemoss TARDIS, much like the Electronic 4th Doctor TARDIS set from 2010, was a whale that had slipped my clutches, escaping into the vast sea of prohibitively priced merchandise.  I mean, it didn’t stop me from setting up a saved search for it, though, since you never could tell when one might find an auction for one at a reasonable price point.  This never seemed to happen, though.

Then, last month, something even more unlikely than a cheap auction happened.  I received an email ebay search report that someone had posted a new listing for an Eaglemoss TARDIS for $25 and with free shipping and it was BUY IT NOW!!!!  And I happened to be looking at gmail on my phone when the listing hit, so I couldn’t load my eBay app fast enough.  The whole time, though, I kept thinking that there must be something wrong with it for it to be listed for such a low price.  Surely it had been dropped, or gnawed by a dog at the least to go for only $25.  The listing indicated nothing of the sort, though, so I fired my whale spear and it struck home in white TARDIS flesh.  (This metaphor is really getting strange.)

A few days later, my new Eaglemoss TARDIS arrived and was something of a surprise, mainly because it was three times bigger than I expected it to be.  The Eaglemoss figurines I’ve seen and owned are around three inches in height, so I assumed somehow that the TARDIS would be as well.  Nope.  It’s to scale with the Doctor figurines, so it’s a full five inches from the base to the bottom of the roof lamp.  The other surprise was the material it was made of.  While I don’t own any other Doctor Who Eaglemoss figurines, I do own a Starman and an Ambush Bug from the DC line; they’re both cast from metal, so I expected the TARDIS would be metal as well (hence the huge shipping costs for most folks).  The TARDIS, however, is cast with some sort of resin.  I imagine a TARDIS of this size cast in pewter would probably weight at least five pounds, so it’s probably for the best.  I’d say this thing is still a solid 2 pounds.

As far as TARDISes go, it’s mostly decent.  The sculpting is nice, though there is no wood grain, but I’m okay with that.  Where it kind of misses the mark for me is in the detail work of the painting.  The windows are especially sloppy, with the gray paint of the frames occasionally splashing up onto the blue of the exterior TARDIS walls or onto the white of the “glass” panes. It looks like it was painted by a fairly skilled 10-year-old.  The sloppiness extends to the painting of the roof lamp.  Also, the decal for the door sign was applied skewed to the left side of the phone-cabinet instead of centered properly. Again, it looks like a skilled 10-year-old might have done it, so, again, I’m going to blame child labor.

Despite these complaints, though, it’s still a nice piece that I’m proud to have in my collection.  And a white whale hunted and killed and flensed and turned into 19th century lamp oil.  I give it 3.5 TARDI. 

Sightings & Appearances

Eric is making signing and speaking appearances to promote A Consternation of Monsters.  (He also occasionally does some acting.) You’ll find those appearances and roles here.

May 18-19, 2018 — Eric is the director for the 2018 Opera House PlayFest at the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton, W.Va.  Featured plays will include “Petting Zoo Story” by Jason Half, “Daughters These Days” by T.K. Lee, “Beans and Franks Never Tasted So Good” by Jon Joy, “A Game of Twenty…” by Eric himself, “Riding Lessons” by Brett Hursey, and “Bankin’ on the Grand” by Chris Shaw Swanson.  Featured actors will include Chris Curry, John C. Davis, Eric Fritzius, Janet Ghigo, Charlie Maghee Hughes, Kim King, Jay Miller, Bill Mitchell, Joanna Murdock, Rhonda Pritt, and Shenda Smith.  Tickets will be available at the door.

He finally has his answers.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to write about the passing of Art Bell, purveyor of strange ideas and the poser of questions concerning all manner of mysteries of the universe.  He was for many years the host of Coast to Coast A.M., one of the most successful radio programs of the last half century.  Art’s was a fantastic and fascinating format, as he basically just opened the phone lines to anyone who wanted to call about whatever topic he was covering in a given night.  Ghost stories?  He took `em.  UFO sightings? He wanted to hear about `em.  Were you a time traveler?  Give Art a call if you were in the same year.  He might not believe you, but he’d let you tell your story.

I wish I could say I grew up listening to Art Bell, but if a radio station in my area of Mississippi broadcast his show I was unaware of it.  I learned of him in the late `90s while working as a radio DJ myself in Tupelo, Mississippi.  I can’t recall for sure how I came to know of him, but likely from one of the various conspiracy, UFO, or cryptozooloigic websites I was a fan of in the day.  I know for a fact that I had read a creepy story or to featuring his show in an encyclopedia of Fortean topics I owned at the time (but which has mysteriously disappeared from my shelf now).  He was a fascinating figure, even if I couldn’t hear him on a regular basis.  I was able to download clips of his shows from his website, but streaming was an odd creature in the late 90s.  And then, in 1998, just as I was learning of Art to begin with, he retired under mysterious circumstances.  It was to be the first of many such retirements, almost all of which didn’t take for very long.  Art was soon back on the air.

When I moved to North Carolina in 1999, Coast to Coast was broadcast by one of the sister stations to the one I worked for in Charlotte.  And during the two months or so I did an overnight shift there, I often found myself switching over to the AM feed and listening to Art in real time, rather than downloads days later.  It was always entertaining.  However, my thankful departure from that shift and Art’s various other premature retirements kept me from regularly hearing him much after that.

Bell is, of course, the inspiration for my fictional character of radio host Rik Winston and his UFO All Night program, who is referenced in my short story “…to a Flame.”  (You can read more about that story in the Moths & Men blog series elsewhere on this site.)  In the story, one of the characters, Virgil–loyal Rik Winston listener–tells the tale about a “doctor guy” who calls in to Rik’s show following an alien encounter.  This was inspired by a real series of calls to Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM from the 1990s. The real story turned out to be a complete hoax, of course, which the “doctor” guy eventually admitted on Art’s show.  However, this hasn’t stopped that guy from trying to make money off of it to this day.  (UFOWatchdog has more about the real story and the “doctor’s” actual identity HERE.)

While Rik is also the “author” of the foreword to A Consternation of Monsters.  But he’s only turned up in one short story, so far.  However, he’s been referenced and even makes an audio appearance in three of my short plays.  I call them  the Ellipses Cycle, as they all have titles featuring ellipses and are thematically tied together by their strange and unusual (and often West Virginia-related) subject matter.  They also all mention Rik Winston.  They include the stage adaptation of “…to a Flame,” the inspired-by-a-true-story African lion adventure “…and Tigers and Bears,” and a third play set in the waiting room of eternity called “A Game of Twenty…”  It’s a story about a guy who finally gets to ask for answers to all the questions about strange and unusual things he has wondered about.  Naturally, he loves every single answer he gets.  That play has been produced for Greenbrier Valley Theatre as well as a staged reading at the 2016 West Virginia Playwright’s Festival.  And, in May, it will again be performed as part of the Opera House PlayFest 2018.

I’ll have to dedicate it to Art Bell.  Hopefully now, the man has all the answers.  But here’s hoping it’s another early retirement.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: TARDIS Rotating LED Cell Phone Charm (The Shotglass TARDIS series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.) 

The very smallest of the shotglass TARDISes in my collection is the TARDIS Rotating LED Cell Phone Charm.  It’s a tiny tiny TARDIS encased in a plastic bell jar dome that screws onto a plastic base bearing the Doctor Who logo used during the David Tennant era of the show.  While mine hangs in my car from my rear view mirror, the device is meant to attach to a cell phone.  The base has sensors within it that can detect incoming cell signals which activate the device to cause the TARDIS within the dome to spin and LED lights in the base to flash, signaling you that you have texts or calls when your phone is on silent mode.  Sounds mildly handy, no?  Turns out, not so much–at least in the way that I used the device.

The first time my TARDIS charm ever activated was at night, as I was driving home.  There I was, driving down the straightish stretch of highway near my house, preparing to turn onto the lane that leads to my neighborhood, when unexpectedly I am blasted at eye level by flashing blue lights seemingly from somewhere on the road ahead.  In that instant my brain became convinced that, at worst, I was about to be t-boned by a police cruiser coming out of the neighborhood to my right; or, at best, said police cruiser was not in motion but had turned on the blues in order to pull me over for some unknown infraction.  It was startling and I screamed aloud, much like a little girl. Then I heard my cell buzzing and realized what was going on and felt the kind of shame one only feels when startled by tiny sparkly lights. And this happened on more than one occasion as the days went by.  I also learned that the effect wasn’t that much less startling during daylight hours.

Fortunately, the batteries in this device didn’t last very long, no doubt owing to it having sat in on a shelf and/or in a warehouse for years before I purchased it.  I have yet to replace them, nor are their any plans in place to do so.

As far as TARDISes go, I cut this one a lot of slack on the detail side because it’s so tiny.  It also gets extra points for looking cool under the dome.  It’s almost like the Master was able to somehow use his Tissue Compression Eliminator on it to finally trap it in some sort of time-travel-proof bell jar.  It’s a novelty item with a lot of novelty.  I’ll give it four Tardi.

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: Die Cast TARDIS Keychain (The shotglass TARDIS series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.) 

The die cast TARDIS keychain was the first TARDIS keychain I purchased and I like it a lot.

As a TARDIS it’s a lovely representation of the Pertwee/Baker era flat-roofed, dark door-signed TARDIS, though this one has a much better paint job than the TARDIS of that era ever did.  (Not a chip to be seen.)  It’s also pretty well in scale with the modern era TARDIS keychain, showing the size differential between the two models, even though they’re made of entirely different materials.

As a keychain I think this would function pretty well, too, as the metal die-cast nature gives it a satisfying weight and sturdiness to withstand the wear and tear keychains often go through.  As with all my other TARDIS keychains, I ditched the chain early on.  But I have kept the ring, which pokes from the top of the roof lamp itself, in case I ever want to use it for another purpose.  It could make a nifty ceiling fan or lamp chain pull, for instance, though is probably too heavy for, say, an earring.