Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday-->Cyber Monday DARKness!

Okay, about time I started blogging again, what with A LOT happening in 2014, so what better way to kick things into gear than with a 99 cents sale on the ebook version of my collection, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me.

Yes, for all of you have have thought, hmmmm, maybe; for all of you wondering what the hell John Claude is jabbering on about?; for all of you looking for some "not your average horror" dark fiction, welllllllllllllll...

99 cents!

99 bloody cents--that's all!

Read the reviews, but here's a couple of prime snippets to inspire you to either
a) buy the ebook, it's damned cheap
b) think even more so, what the hell is this John Clause Smith up to as a writer.

Or something.

"It is a rarity that a short story collection can speak to me with each of its tales, rarer still that the voice be so articulate. While I can definitely appreciate elements of "splatterpunk," too many modern horror author don't even go that bloody route, instead remaining in a safe "horror lit" style. Smith goes elsewhere, a bleak universe that one gets glimpses of in works by Harlan Ellison, H.P. Lovecraft, and occasionally Clive Barker. The intellect powering these nightmares is a staggering, transcendental monster in itself. ..."--Brian Fatah Steele, Horror Writer.

"In a market that is pretty much saturated with the tiredest of horror tropes (vampires, zombies, werewolves), along comes this refreshing debut collection by John Claude Smith. And when I say refreshing, I certainly don't mean "lightweight". The darkness itself, in fact, is very much a constant character in these stories of guilt, hubris, paranoia, abuse, vanity, addiction, desire and depravity. ..."--David Antrobus, Writer (dark stuff and otherwise)

Okay, you get the gist.  Read em all if you need convincing.  Or buy the book and decide for yourself.

Enjoy the DARKness!


Up next: news about my New Book, out early in 2014, as well as info on some short story sales, as well as me going on about other writer's books I like, music and movies and who knows what else, too?  Stick around. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Current, Worthy Horror Books That Have Caught My Eye...

Yes, I know.  Been awhile.  Been busy, but am here and want some kind of consistency again, so let's get rolling with some current horror books that look quite worthy.  Before I go on, I must admit, I've still yet to really utilize my Kindle Fire.  Books collect there, but I've yet to really dive in, though with some of these current releases fitting my budget better in that form, well...I must make it a goal to dig in and make it work for me. 

That said...

The Grimscribe Puppets, edited by Joe S. Pulver, a writer of worth if ever there was one, collects 22 stories inspired by the work of Thomas Ligotti.  This one goes to the top of my Amazon Wish List.  I mean, look at the TOC. 

Livia Llewellyn “Furnace”
Daniel Mills “The Lord Came at Twilight”
Michael Cisco “The Secrets of the Universe”
Kaaron Warren “The Human Moth”
Joel Lane “Basement Angels”

Darrell Schweitzer “No Signal”
Robin Spriggs “THE XENAMBULIST: A Fable in Four Acts”
Nicole Cushing “The Company Town”
Cody Goodfellow “The Man Who Escaped This Story”
Michael Kelly “Pieces of Blackness”
Eddie M. Angerhuber “The Blue Star”
Robert M. Price “The Holiness of Desolation”
Michael Griffin “Diamond Dust”
Richard Gavin “After the Final”
Scott Nicolay “Eyes Exchange Bank”
Simon Strantzas “BY INVISIBLE HANDS”
Paul Tremblay “Where We Will All Be”
Allyson Bird “Gailestis”
Jeffrey Thomas “The Prosthesis”
John Langan “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly”
Gemma Files “OUBLIETTE”

Yeah, worthy writers all.  I need this one.  I've always enjoyed Ligotti's unique work and mindset in the horror realm.  Heck, the title story of my first collection, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me, actually utilizes a main character somewhat based on this Ligotti mindset, so this anthology has my interest, no doubt.

Kate Jonez, who runs the excellent publishing house, Omnium Gatherum, with worthy releases by, among others, Ennis Drake and S.P. Miskowski, has just released her debut novel via Evil Jester Press, Candy House.  Here's the blurb: "In Kate Jonez's debut novel, CANDY HOUSE, a brilliant young scientist moves back home with his parents because his explosive temper has ruined his career. His neighbors, a family of witches, imps and demons, are charged with keeping science under control. They must, by using their debauched and twisted magic, stop Roland before he fulfills his destiny and makes a deadly discovery that will change the nature of humanity forever."  Sounds like fun, eh?  The Look Inside sample is most tasty, so I will be picking this up for the Kindle this week. 

I picked up Nicole Cushing's  Children of No One recently for my Kindle--further inspiration to use the damn thing--and it looks more than worthy, right up my dark literary alley, actually.  Here's the blurb: "Sadism, nihilism, poverty, wealth, screams, whimpers, sanity and madness collide in Nowhere, Indiana.  For Thomas Krieg, Nowhere is a miles-long, pitch-black underground maze in which he's imprisoned dozens of boys for the past ten years—all in the name of art.  For two brothers, Nowhere is the only place they clearly remember living. A world unto itself, in which they must stay alert to stay alive. A world from which the only escape is death.  But for an English occultist known only as Mr. No One, Nowhere is much more...and much less: the perfect place in which to perform a ritual to unleash the grandest of eldritch deities, the God of Nothingness, the Great Dark Mouth."
Sounds like total warped fun to me. 

What?  You want instant gratification?  Well, you can get the latter two titles for your Kindle in the blink of an eye...or read this, Laird Barron's first professional short story sale, reprinted at Nightmare Magazine: "Shiva, Open Your Eye."  Kind of a wicked piece from one of our best, most worthy writers of the Dark Stuff.

Don't forget, one of my most recent published stories, "This Darkness," appears in the recently released anthology, For The Night Is Dark.  A worthy endeavor, indeed, I'm in good company.  As I check the page, there's also a couple of cool reviews--excellent! 

So, there's a few things, check em out, as I expect to do. 


Here's an, ahem, eye-catching image from O__u_R_sick.  Not exactly what I had in mind when I titled this blog post,


Friday, May 3, 2013

Quirky Short Fiction: "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands."

Sometimes, in the process of writing, I like to emphasize something in a story, kind of experiment with seeing if I can do this or that.  One of the things we as writers must do to really bring a story to life is to touch the senses.  About ten or eleven years ago, I got my brain re-wired for fiction writing again, after many years of music journalism.  The music journalism taught me a lot about description; most of what I wrote was reviews, but I approached review writing in a different manner.  Not simply writing about this or that instrument and how it works within the whole, though that was part of many reviews, but because a lot of what I reviewed was experimental music, music of sound and no lyrics, I created worlds out of these sounds.  Alien lands and lands within the unexplored pockets of our own world, along with the strange creatures that roamed there, all inspired by what I heard.  I actually expect to take some of these reviews and strip them to the core, use some of these descriptions in stories, perhaps.  I've done a couple of poems constructed from these reviews, it's a lot of fun.  Reshaping the words, my original words, into something new. 

Anyway, where was I?

With that mindset, I wrote a story called, "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands," a light fantastical piece that put me to the test of touching the senses.  I wanted smells, touch, sight. sound, and even a suggestion of taste, to pop with real resonance.  Not sure if I succeeded, but at least it worked my brain in a good way, got me to think more about this kind of thing.  Recently, I took that story, and, knowing it needed something more, just a wee bit of something to really drive it through the finale, I tweaked it, added a little bit, just enough, to give it what I think is the edge to put it over the top in the proper way. 

Because of my Italian connections--my girlfriend, Alessandra, is Italian, and I know many of the poets/writers as an extension of that--I found a home for the story on the Italian website, Etemenanki/Terranullius, run by Marco Lupo, an excellent poet and now, from what Alessandra has witnessed, a playwright of real potency; I hope to see one of his plays at some point, preferably when I know the language better, of course. 


Here's the link to the story, just under 2000 words of me working the words in a quirky way, something different from my usual but, then again, what is my usual?  Hmmm...


And here's a photo of a globe of sorts splitting open, which works well with some of the imagery in the story.


Friday, April 26, 2013

A Poem For National Poetry Month: Technology Overload: "Ctrl/Alt/Delete"

No, not just 'a poem,' this is a riff, a mind-bender, words pounding to the rhythm, strap in, not kidding, Do It, let's go for a ride that transcends time or at least deals with losing our humanity amidst technological overload or...well...

(2...  3...  4...)

National Poetry Month.  I don't profess to being a poet, though I dabble and on occasion think, sure, that one works.  My 19 year-old son has taken up writing in the last year, fiction and poetry, he didn't even know it was National Poetry Month and they were pouring out of his brain.  He's sent me something like 80--yes, 80!--this month.  Short, sometimes philosophical, always clever insights, he was locked in.  My girlfriend, Alessandra, she's a poet as well.  When she writes them, my breath is often taken away at her mastery.  I'm not kidding.  GREAT poetry can do that to me.  How about you? 


Anyway, here's one that deals with what I wrote up there in the first paragraph and probably should be read out loud, especially once you latch on to the rhythm, even if the rhythm shifts, stumbles...  It's there, don't be afraid.

So, without further adieu, strap in, really, please--and keep your hands inside the ride but your mind open to my madness--here we go...and Enjoy:




John Claude Smith




born of dust and spit

of gist and folly

molded in His image


swimming to the surface of the


o     o     z     e

gymnastic gene pool pyrotechnics

burning urge and bristling dreams

before dreams even had intent


intelligent design…



ride the ocean’s fury

hot oil slick surfing sandman

sun-blasted shiny glass heart--


(2...     3...     4...)   

conch shell ears, seaweed souls

limbic system retrograde

push it to the here--hear and


listen to the electricity

(la)           (la)

s i n g

(la)           (la)

the body not just electric

blue sparkplug crackle

pistons pumping plasma


plugged in pummeling persistence

retinal scans, tympanic membrane mambo


steel plate cybergasmic carapace

smooth as sin before sin snaked in


polished red, an Apple to the blind

fondled freely upon the legs, the laptop

mouth sucking, teeth and clacking nails


the pain of reality shuffles crab-like

                       sideways                          perceptions

evolution in overdrive

                                                driven by ego--s






buzzing like mating insects

shimmering metallic antenna 

tuning fork timbres

serenade the heavens

reminding them of times before

The Machines

when flesh burned and kisses aroused




arousal is artificial

;-( emotionless           emoticons )-;

the clank and grind of gears, the years, eons

monkeys climbing the evolutionary ladder

up to the cerebral cortex via the






of god

singed by soldering irons

and over-stimulated objectives

obsolescence at the edge

 of the sound byte tomorrow

“I    am    iron    man”

the soulless epiphany confirmed and

fueled by what substitutes for dreams nowadays





loads, zip files

computer chips and chipped perspectives

ultra-distracted, overDRIVEN


me myself and i

am the center of this avaricious universe


Beware: The Future

our current path polluted

blackened, brackish 

greasepaint flood waters 

gone viral

seesaw strategies, teetering

choose to remain human


(no masks, no grim facades)

(no avatars)


all body shops will include:

                                                 1.) soul tune-ups

2.) mecha-heart replacement

                                                 3.) IV integrity transfusions                                               


essence and       e       t       h       e       r

injections into the illusion of humanity

tie it off and tap the vein

promoting pacifying brain puddle pleasure




WE are the ‘what if ’ gone cataclysmically





Whatever, haha, it was fun to write, I'll say that much.  Rollicking, pseudo stream-of-conscious Fun! 

Back to fiction with the next post, I'm sure. 



Friday, April 19, 2013

For The Night Is Dark Anthology: "This Darkness..."

For The Night Is Dark is the first anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing.  It's a stellar collection, at least what I've read so far.  (Carole Johnstone's "21 Brooklands: Next To Old Western, Opposite The Burnt Out Red Lion" even seems a cousin to my story, "This Darkness," as channeled through a Rob Zombie mindset or...something like that, haha...)  I am waiting for my print copy to show up to continue reading it, because hey, yeah, that's right: print books still remain my fave way to read. 

Here's a lil' guest post I did at Armand Rosamilia's blog, dealing with my story.  He is in the anthology and has been featuring guest blogs by other contributors on his blog.  Really good, amusing, informative stuff.  Check them all out.

Here's the Amazon link which has an abundance of "Look Inside" samples to whet your horror loving appetite:

But...a bit more of a teaser to sink you into the true darkness that envelops "This Darkness."  Here's Sue Chambers, fed up and had it with her guy, Andy, up on the mountain, their friend, Mitch, in the back seat (as noted in the guest blog above; read that, put it together with this, and away we go), just before all Hell breaks loose; or all dread, more so, dread... No wait, Hell does follow up...


     Before Andy spoke, Susie sensed his anxiety bristling in the air.  He sucked in deeply and the inside of the car seemed to contract ever so slightly.

     “Look.  I’m sorry, baby.   I really…”  But he fell silent, his thoughts clustered as one, and, as usual, he was speaking before he’d sorted them out.

     Susie remained silent, ignoring him. 

     “I don’t mean no harm, y’know?  I just…I don’t really know what to do with it all sometimes.  Us and everything, y’know?”

     She turned her head to the window, gazing deep into the black nothing outside.

     “Hey, I’m tryin’ to say somethin’ here.”

     She just wanted it all to stop.  Please, just stop.

     “Goddamnit!” Andy said, jamming his foot on the brakes, cutting off the lights, the engine, everything.

     “Hey,” Mitch said, that Chihuahua yelp again using his throat for expression.

     Susie kicked at the door, hand scrambling for the handle, saying “Fuck you!  Fuck you!  Fuck all of this!” as she did.  Frustration poured over her like an angry waterfall.  She finally got the door open, shoving with force as she did.  The dome light splashed meager luminosity across the interior, which she was hastily exiting.  As the metal joints stretched to the breaking point, the door creaked and popped with firecracker intensity.  She stepped out and the door started its path back to being shut in a hurry.  But just as suddenly, she regretted being outside of the car and in this darkness, though she also did not want to lose any more brain cells by being within hooting distance of Heckle and Jeckle; her exasperation only magnified the situation.  As she twirled back toward the door, everything shifted down a notch, slowing as seconds stretched.  She heard Andy say, “What the hell is that?” while the light weaved ugly, perplexing patterns into the crinkled folds of Mitch’s face, forming a landscape for an undiscovered planet in the process, both of them staring out the windshield, not even caring about her annoyance.  The look in their eyes caused her to shift her gaze from them to whatever might be in front of the car, a seemingly impossible quest because of this darkness--              

     --when she felt its presence…

     Reaching for the swiftly closing door, she was too late.  It clicked shut and the feeble dome light was eaten by the voracious darkness and a scream climbed the broken rungs of her throat, yet as if sound was in cahoots with this darkness, she heard nothing.

     A vacuum of terror pressed against her as she ached for the aural confirmation she knew she had expressed, yet where was it?  More so, she sensed the silence was so very internal, though distinguishing blood currents and heart beats was beyond her capabilities.  She felt adrift, yet she also felt compressed, as if this darkness wasn’t only pressing into her, it was invading pores, seeking organs, essence.  

     She reached for the door handle, anxious to fling herself back into the car and just deal with them, to yell at Andy to get them the hell out of there, not caring about being made fun of or anything but being away.  Real decisions would happen soon enough, but right now she just needed the safety of noise and lights and being so far from this darkness. 

     Her efforts fell flat: there was no door handle.

     She let out a brittle, “Fuck,” that landed on black cotton stuffed ears.  She couldn’t see the handle, only knew the approximate direction, yet her fingers remained unfilled.  Both hands now, her lithe body stepping forward, her hip should be banging into metal, but nothing impeded her movement.

     There was nothing there.  No car.  No Andy and Mitch joking away.  No light, no sound, only this darkness.


What the...?   What in the world is going on?   You gotta pick up the anthology to find out.  You will find out the well as get more fantastic fiction from a plethora of writers (Gary McMahon, Jeremy Shipp, Tonia Brown, William Meikle, Scott Nicholson, and many more) who really know and understand...the Dark.


Here's the eye-catching artwork from Ben Baldwin.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Flash Fiction Piece About Poetry.

Been writing A Lot lately, heavy stuff, mostly.  Dark, often grim, dread-filled and more; the usual.  Cheerful stuff for the lover of fiction that does not flinch.  Amidst this, though, little breaks are taken. A couple flash pieces, some poetry.  And something like the following, a flash piece dealing with poetry...and a whole lot more.  Light fantasy, yet with a positive message.  Funny, the last short story I completed, "Where the Light Won't Find You," all 5,800 words of it, also ended up in a positive place; well, for the most part.  After monstrous things happened.  What?  No, not getting mellow, one simply must allow the stories to take their own paths, and if something somewhat positive is the result, well, let it be.  I mean, somebody can die a strange, horrible death in the next story.  Anyway, there's the Vampire-related novel in progress that has a balance of black humor and a Dark Soul that probably demands I step away from it on occasion and write, well, whatever comes up, which might be something with less weight but no less depth.  Especially if you pay attention.  Like with this piece, called, "Wake Up!"  My Love, Alessandra, had mentioned receiving a magnet with poetry on it.  I took that and ran with it.  Sure, it's less than 400 words, but I think it works.



Wake Up!
by John Claude Smith

Every morning for the last two weeks, Carina would wake up and eagerly walk into her kitchen, to read a new poem.  They were posted on her refrigerator, scribbled on however many post-it notes were necessary to include all of the words within the poem.  At first she was surprised; after all, she lived alone.  But after it happened for a few days, it became a reason to get up amid the hardships of a life gone off the rails.  Once she had wanted to be a writer, a poet.  But life dug in its heels and stole that dream.  The days now were long and uninspiring.  But with the inception of the daily poems, a spark of joy had been lit.  That’s why, when she woke up and practically sprinted to the refrigerator this bright, early Saturday morning, a day off from the senseless drudgery and mindless drivel that was work, she was saddened to see no poem posted.  Sorrow washed over her.  She spent the day in a haze, wondering from whence the poems had come, and if they would continue tomorrow.  They had to.  But when she got up Sunday morning and there was again no poem, tears stained her eyes.  This magical event that had touched her life…it seemed now it was gone forever.  Then she thought to herself—no.  It doesn’t have to end this way.  Poetry should be a regular part of her day.  After all, she had once wanted to be a writer, a poet.  She went to her computer desk and grabbed a pen and a pad of paper.  She boiled some water as she paced, making coffee.  She glanced at the pad and pen on her kitchen table, wary but wondering.  The mug warmed her fingers to the task as she sat down and picked up the pen, pressing it firmly to the paper.  Words flowed, life sighed in appreciation.  The spark became a flame, one she promised to stoke every day.  After all, if she didn’t write the poems within her, who else would? 

There ya go!  Actually, truth be told, that was written in about 2-3 minutes soon after she had mentioned the poetry magnet, tweaked slightly thereafter.  I said, hey, what if somebody woke up every morning and there was a new poem on their refrigerator?  This was after making a reference to Refrigerator Poetry and so forth and so on and ran with it.  Odd how the brain works, what triggers it to create, eh?  
More Dark stuff next time, I expect.  Or...talking about the Art of Reading, something close to my heart but in what way?  Hmmm...

Now, though, about ready to dig into something gruesome and surreal.  I think it's called, "The Lumper."  Don't ask...ahem...






Sunday, January 13, 2013

Peeling Away The Cobwebs, The Words And Vampires Pour Out...

Okay, yes, well...haven't really been lazy or anything of that nature, but it's been slightly over a month since my last post--actually, upon checking, it's been 40 days and 40 nights, seems I've entered into Noah's time zone--so I figure it's time to peel away the cobwebs and get back to the blog. You ready? What with the holiday and a fair amount of writing, I was busy, but now as I stumbled through some words on a big piece this morning (which, with the delay noted below, was a couple days ago), I figured a break from that with words here would not be a bad thing. Kicking things into gear, getting back to more consistency with the blog again.

What have you been up to?

Me, I've been writing. Finished a story early last month called, "Beautiful," which was an experiment for me. The story required a specificity of language as it dealt with perceptions of what is beautiful from a couple different angles, one being from the main character's take on it, though the main character is...different. Let's leave it at that. Must get it out there, submit it later today since it already has it's first rejection. Yeah, part of the deal, but somebody will love it.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I am the kind of person who sets up regular goals, so what's the use? But I did kind of tell myself to Get Writing asap in the new year, not that I don't write most all of the time anyway, but I want more consistency, more words. More Words was actually my offhand resolution, haha... I told myself this as a Big Idea took shape in my head, one I had been mulling over for months, for a long time, actually, yet now as the piece gets rolling, it may move well away form the initial inspiration, yet we will see. Something's happening and it deals with a vampire, which might seem quite out of character for yours truly since I rarely embrace familiar horror tropes, but this is definitely not your average vampire, either. There's philosophy, but perhaps not as much as I thought. And addiction. And Sex. And has a quirky tone I'm still getting wired into. I even allowed myself to sketch out the path, have the chapters aligned, big, fat chapters, for whatever reason. The first one presently clocks in at over 4,000 words; I'm positive at least two of the other chapters will probably double that in length. With this loosely defined path, I keep adding notes to the chapters, ideas for conversations, side avenues to explore, etc. Along with the philosophical side as crossed with something of a warped sense of humor, I, being a firm believer in balance, can't wait for it all to get swallowed whole by the dark dark dark stuff in the latter chapters. Yeah, this is my ramble, no gameplan here, but this is what I am dealing with. But today (but not today--you following this?), well, there are days when the words flow, and days where they keep tripping over each other. Today, know...

Along with this, there's some shorter fiction percolating, things that will get finished when I've worn my brain out with the big piece in progress, keeping the flow consistent, new stuff for new anthologies, perhaps, and just, in general. the knowledge that I Love Writing and need to make time for it every day. I am usually good with this, but there are times that real life and such shuffle things around, make it 'seem' harder to deal with words when we have no excuses. I write. What's the probem, John Claude? No problem at all.  Get to it!

That's all it should take for any writer. Set aside a time if you must--I like setting a schedule, but am flexible as needed--and make sure to Be There Completely.

Trust Your Instincts.
Full Immersion.
No Fear.
Just Write.

I see these words to my left, hand-written in the initial hand-written notes for the big piece. Makes sense to me. I like seeing them there, glancing over and nodding, yes, YES!

Makes me want to get back to more words, the stories. Writing!

How about you? These are good catchwords, keywords, whatever you want to call them. Just change the last one to fit your own art, what you do, painting or playing an instrument, etc.

Trust Your Instincts.
Full Immersion.
No Fear.
Just Create!


Here's one of my favorite pieces of Vampire art, done by Edvard Munch, most well-known for his painting, The Scream, but this one's right up there with that one for me.


No, wait, that's not Munch's Vampire, that's yours truly, annoyed that something's up with Blogger and I cannot seem to upload a photo from my computer sooooo...well, hopefully I can work this out asap, but for now, since this blog has been sitting here close to completed for a couple/few days, let's roll with this photo, from my blog a while ago, me back when I used to wear a professional moustache.  Yeah, many eons ago, when I used to hang out with Dali.  We had competitions, y'know.  Moustache twirling competitions.  It really annoyed him when I could do it with more, um...flair.  Probably why he hasn't talked to me in quite a while.  Oh, sure, he's "dead" as you understand it, but that's only As Most Humans Know It, and since I know differently, having visited him on the AlternaWorld that runs alongside ours in a different dimension, well...


Okay, enough nonsense and rambling.  More writing news and darkness soon.