Visiting Edgar

I must have been about eleven years old when my brother pulled a book off the shelf and took it outside to read a poem that immediately captivated me. Although it was a bright and sunny day in Southern California and we sat in the shade of an orange tree, I was carried to a dark and dank chamber where I saw a frightening apparition atop a bust of Pallas Athena mouthing the word, “Nevermore.” Of course the poem was “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. Just a few years later, I would meet Poe again when a high school English teacher assigned “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Those two events turned me into a fan of Poe for life.


Over Memorial Day Weekend, I attended Balticon, a science fiction convention in Baltimore. The convention was held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, which is just around the corner from the place on Lombard Street where Poe was found “in great distress” by Joseph W. Walker on October 3, 1849. It’s not entirely clear what Poe was doing in Baltimore or why he was outside the public house on Lombard Street where Walker found him. What is known is that Poe died in the hospital just four days later at age 40. He was then buried in an anonymous grave at Westminster Hall. In 1865, a movement began to create a more fitting memorial for Poe and by 1875, that culminated in the creation of the Poe Memorial at Westminster Hall where Poe is now interred along with his wife and mother-in-law. While in Baltimore, my friend Nicki Fatherly took me to see the Poe Memorial.

Poe’s interests were far-ranging. He wrote criticism, contemplated scientific discovery, imagined detectives, and was fascinated by the darker sides of human nature. He wrote poetry, essays, and prose. That range has influenced me to explore many topics and forms in my writing. Because of Poe, and authors he influenced such as Ray Bradbury, I’ve felt encouraged to write science fiction, horror, and fantasy. It’s why I write poetry, short stories, and novels. I’ve even written a few reviews. I was glad to visit Poe’s memorial in Baltimore and pay tribute to a man who continues to influence so many over a century and half after his mysterious and untimely passing.

When Only the Moon Rages

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labor by singing light

These are the opening lines of the poem “In my craft or sullen art” by Dylan Thomas. I’ve long thought they beautifully express what its like when a writer, and particularly a horror writer, is developing a story or a poem. I turned to these lines when I was looking for a title for a collection of short stories and poetry I published back in 2001.

When Only the Moon Rages is a collection by Wayne James. Moon_Rages There are stories about creatures of the night, people of the stars, and individuals who dare to live in those dark places few have the audacity to tread.

One story features Lieutenant Lawry, an ordinary soldier on an alien world who must fight to keep an unknown, violent creature from killing his men. In another story, Sergeant Frank Blacklin strives to keep children alive against insurmountable odds on a hostile planet. Turning his attention to Earth, Wayne James tells the story of Robert, a man who lives in a nightmarish United States gone mad, where the enemies of the State are so numerous, their bodies are pushed into a gaping trench.

Other stories are set in the present day. In one, a respectable businessman falls for a woman turned on by crime. In another, a lonely man deals with the odd neighbors down the street by buying an assault rifle. It’s clear to me Wayne James spent many hours honing his craft “when only the moon rages.” The result might be expressed in one of his own poems:

Metallic bones shoot music—
notes flash across the hypersphere,
dance between magenta nebulae.

Although the collection is fifteen years old now, I think there’s still a lot of relevance in Wayne’s writing. I hope you’ll join me on a journey to the land when only the moon rages. The collection is available at and

Zen of the Dead

This past weekend saw the release of Popcorn Press’s seventh annual Halloween celebration of horror poetry and short fiction, Zen of the Dead. ZotD The collection includes two of my haiku and one of my tanka. One of my haiku was inspired by this past summer’s trip to New Orleans. The tanka takes inspiration from my “day” job operating telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Each year, on October 1, Popcorn Press hosts an open call for horror-themed poems and stories. By October 31, they have a finished document published in ebook form, with a print version close on its heels.

This book is the result of that creative marathon. Inside are works from writers new and old, pros and newcomers alike. Some few are previously published pieces deserving new readership; the majority have never before seen the light of day. In addition to my work, you’ll find poems by such Tales of the Talisman contributors as Gary W. Davis, F.J. Bergmann, David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Kelda Crich, Deborah P. Kolodji, Christina Sng, and Dwarf Stars winner, Greg Schwartz. I was also thrilled to see Stephen D. Sullivan among the contributors. He wrote Heart of Steam and Rust which is one of the stories in the Empires of Steam and Rust steampunk series that I’ve also contributed to.

Editor Lester Smith’s goal each year is simple: to encourage a wider audience for poetry and short fiction. Halloween provides a perfect opportunity.

Zen of the Dead, then, is the result of Popcorn Press’s month-long Halloween party—though you are welcome to read the contents at any time of the year, ideally after dark…alone. (Or perhaps with a friend or two for company, to stave off the chills.)

Zen of the Dead is available at Amazon and directly from Popcorn Press.

This is the fourth Popcorn Press anthology I’ve contributed to. You can also find my work in Vampyre Verse, The Hungry Dead, and Halloween Haiku.

Zombiefied: Hazardous Materials

Quarantined: What Now?

It’s the apocalypse—again! It’s come in the form of shambling, brain eaters. What are you going to do? Pick up your copy of Zombiefied: Hazardous Material of course!

Zombiefied 3 low res

The anthology edited by Carol Hightshoe and published by Sky Warrior Publishing features my story “Born Again Miners.” The story is set in the steampunk world of Owl Dance and Lightning Wolves, or a closely related one. The mine owner Randolph Dalton finds a mysterious patent medicine salesman making a pitch to his workers. Dalton sends the men scurrying back to work but some time later, he finds the patent medicine salesman can cure what ails a mine owner losing money—he has a way to introduce cheap labor. Dalton is definitely interested, but might find the price a little more than he wants to pay!

The anthology features a total of 27 humorous, poignant, scary, and thought-provoking stories by such writers as Lyn McConchie, Cynthia Ward, David Boop, John Lance, and Rhonda Parrish. One read and you’ll be Zombiefied!

Zombiefied: Hazardous Materials is available at:

Other Scarlet Order Stories

First off, thanks to those who entered the contest to win copies of my vampire novels. The winner is Emily Guido. Congratulations!

As I wrap up this celebration of the tenth anniversary of Vampires of the Scarlet Order, I thought I’d post a list of those Scarlet Order stories that don’t appear in either Vampires of the Scarlet Order or Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order.

Healing Waves Kindle Cover

In Vampires of the Scarlet Order, we meet Iktome, a long-lived spider-like alien who has visited Earth since the time of the dinosaurs. When humans appeared on Earth, he didn’t want to see them go extinct as well, so he began tampering with human genetics, trying to make them stronger, live longer, and so on. In the process, he created vampires. However, vampires weren’t the sole extent of his tampering. The story “Experiment in Survival”, set in Japan, shows Iktome up to his old tricks. The samurai Minamoto no Raiko encounters a strange monster—a flying head that feeds off blood. He tracks the creature to its source, defeats it, then battles Iktome. The story is in the anthology Healing Waves, which was published to help the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. The anthology is still available at

These Vampires Don't Sparkle

In the story “Luftgeist”, we turn to Nazi Germany in the run-up to World War II. The Nazis attempt to recruit Desmond Drake and his band of vampire mercenaries to fight for the Third Reich. In this case, the Nazis prove too evil even for vampires and Drake turns the Nazis down flat. Drake finds most routes out of the country closed and flees on the one vessel available, the Hindenburg. Luftgeist is the German word for Sylph or air spirit and they were believed to bring good luck. On the journey across the Atlantic, Draco encounters a creature that looks remarkably like a Sylph and it does not seem at all happy to see him. The story is currently available in the anthology These Vampires Don’t Sparkle at Amazon and Smashwords.

Hungur 15

“Dark Matter” is the one story I’ve written where I look at a possible future for the Scarlet Order vampires. The story is set in the distant future and astronomers have discovered a sphere of dark matter between the sun and Alpha Centauri. They send a team to investigate. One member of the team is Dr. Jane Heckman, who happens to be one of the vampires from Vampires of the Scarlet Order. To explore the dark matter sphere, the astronauts upload their minds into spider-like rovers which can range along the surface. The astronauts soon discover a building, like a temple on the surface of the dark matter sphere. Soon afterward, things start to go very wrong and it seems Dr. Heckman may be part of the problem. I haven’t decided whether or not this story is Scarlet Order cannon. It’s a little darker than I had planned to go with the future of the Scarlet Order. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting romp and well worth seeking out. It seems the issue may still be ordered from White Cat Publishing.

Will there be more Scarlet Order stories in the future? Well, that really depends on factors such as demand, the muse, and opportunity. If you’d like to see more Scarlet Order vampire stories, the best way you can make that happen is to buy the ones that are out there. Review them. Tell your friends! Here’s to the next decade of the Scarlet Order vampires!

Vampires of the Scarlet Order Turns Ten!

This week marks the tenth anniversary of my novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order and to celebrate, I’m holding a giveaway! Be sure to read to the bottom to find the link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway.

David Lee Summers Vampire-Scarlet-Order-800x1190

Vampires of the Scarlet Order got its start in my Las Cruces, New Mexico home in the spring of 2000. I was talking to my friend Janni Lee Simner about writing. As the conversation progressed the subject of vampires came up and Janni said, “I wonder what vampires would make of Las Cruces, being the city of crosses and all.” We knocked a few possibilities around and finally she said that if a story idea came to mind, I was welcome to it. She had no plans to write a vampire story. A few days later, I drove to work at Apache Point Observatory and had the idea of a vampire telescope operator who moves to Las Cruces to work at a small observatory. I wrote up the story and called it “Vampire in the City of Crosses.” In 2001, I sold it to Margaret L. Carter, editor of The Vampire’s Crypt. It was one of my first real story sales.

Over the next two years, I wrote six more stories set in the same vampire world. “Vampires in the World of Dreams” and “The Weeping Woman” both appeared The Vampire’s Crypt. “Pat, Marcella, and the Kid” and “The Scarlet Order” both ran in Night to Dawn magazine. “The Last Conquistador” ran in Parchment Symbols magazine and “Bat Flight South of Roswell” was published as a stand-alone chapbook from Anxiety Publications. These stories became the core of Vampires of the Scarlet Order.

Over the next year, I updated the stories, figured out how they tied together and then assembled them into the novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order. The novel tells the story of how a band of vampire mercenaries working for the Spanish Inquisition went their separate ways only to be reunited in the early twentieth century when the government figures out a way to build vampire-like super-soldiers who threaten world security and peace.

When I finished the novel, I outlined four more Scarlet Order novels. One of those told the story of how the Scarlet Order vampires formed and how they came to be working for the Spanish Inquisition. That novel is Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order, which is now also in print.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Vampires of the Scarlet Order, I’m holding a giveaway. The number of winners will depend on how many enter, but I’m currently prepared to give away up to five books. The way this will work is that I’ll give away one book for the first nine people who enter. Once ten have entered, I’ll give away a second. Once fifteen have entered, I’ll give away a third and so on, so the odds actually will stay pretty good as more people enter.

Each winner may choose one of my vampire books in whatever format they’d like that’s available. If they choose a paperback copy, I’ll autograph it and send it along. If they choose an ebook, I’ll gift it and send along an authorgraph. The contest is open until midnight mountain time on May 29. I’ll email winners that weekend and arrange delivery of the books.

Winners may choose from:

If by chance you actually have all those books, enter anyway, I bet I can work with you to find a prize you’ll enjoy!

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway runs until midnight mountain time on Friday, May 28. I’ll contact winners over the following weekend.

My Year in Horror – 2014

This is that time of year when many of us look at the year we just finished to see what we’ve accomplished as we look ahead to our goals in the year to come. On reflection, I have to say 2014 was a pretty good year.

I started the year working on a new horror novel called The Astronomer’s Crypt. The title is inspired by numerous astronomers who have been interred in or near observatories where they worked. The novel itself imagines what would happen if a disgruntled employee, demonic forces, and drug runners collided with astronomers on a dark and stormy night. I turned the novel in last May. It was accepted while I was visiting New Orleans in August and my editor plans to start work on the novel soon after the beginning of the year.


2014 saw the release of the second edition of Blood Sampler which collects vampire flash fiction by Lee Clark Zumpe and me. The second edition features a gorgeous cover by Laura Givens and lovely interior illustrations by Marge Simon. Because it’s flash fiction, it’s a good collection for reading now and then. Many of the concepts I introduced in these flash stories went on to be further developed in Vampires of the Scarlet Order and Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. You can learn more and pick up a copy for yourself at Smashwords.

These Vampires Don't Sparkle

I was also honored that my story “Luftgeist” was selected for the anthology These Vampires Don’t Sparkle. “Luftgeist” is one of my favorite Scarlet Order vampire stories. It shows there are some humans so evil that even blood sucking vampires won’t work for them. It also shows the explosive events that can happen when a vampire encounters a Valkyrie. My story is just one of 27 tales in this exciting collection. If you haven’t, be sure to pick up a copy at Amazon or Smashwords.

Not only has this been a good year for me as a writer, it’s been a fascinating one as a reader. I read and discussed books by such masters at Stephen King and Anne Rice. In fact, I’m especially pleased to have taken the time to have caught up with Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and to have read King’s It. I also read Paradise Lost, which has been on my list since high school—though I’m hesitant to say just how many years that has been!

In the coming year, I look forward to working with my editor to bring out The Astronomer’s Crypt. I also hope to read Pandora and Vittorio the Vampire, the two Anne Rice vampire novels that are not marketed as “The Vampire Chronicles” but still fit in the same world. If you enjoyed my recent article about “The Three Faces of Dracula” at, I also hope to do another article for them about vrykolakas folklore. I have a little homework to do for that one.

Thank you for spending some of your 2014 with me here at the Scarlet Order Journal. Here’s wishing you a wonderful and prosperous 2015!

Blood Sampler Available Again

Blood-Sampler-375I’ve just returned home from a busy but awesome weekend at Phoenix Comicon and learned that the second edition of Blood Sampler is now available for order. This little book collects vampire flash fiction written by Lee Clark Zumpe and myself. In addition the stories, you’ll find illustrations by Marge Simon. In her review of the first edition for the ConNotations newspaper, Chris Paige said, “If you like vampire stories, this may be the best seven dollars you can spend.” Inflation has bumped the price up a dollar, but I hope you’ll still find it an engaging collection. She gives a great description of the collection saying, “There’s humor, horror, and history, loss, love and legends, sex seduction and surprises.” She finished her review by saying, “This sampler would make a great Valentine’s Day gift for or from our gothic fen.” I’m delighted to see the collection back in print.

You can purchase the book directly from the publisher at:

An ebook of this edition is also available at Smashwords:

Zombified cover

Learning about Blood Sampler wasn’t the only good news I received after returning from Phoenix Comicon. I also learned that my story “Born Again Miners” about a Voodoo priest from Louisiana finding a new source of cheap labor in the mines of the old west has been accepted for the anthology Zombiefied III edited by Carol Hightshoe. I’m honored to be included in another volume. The original Zombiefied collection was great fun and you can check it out at or Smashwords.

Blood Sampler and Luftgeist Updates

This month, Alban Lake Publishing will be releasing the second edition of Blood Sampler that I co-wrote with Lee Clark Zumpe. I just got a look at the new cover by Laura Givens, which I think looks fabulous. You can learn more about the book by clicking the “Blood Sampler” link on the right. Right now, that page still shows the first edition, but I’ll update the page once the new edition is released.


Also, Carol Hightshoe has just announced the full table of contents for the anthology, These Vampires Don’t Sparkle, Volume I currently scheduled for this autumn from Sky Warrior Books. This looks like a great lineup.

    Vampiric Fluff – Rhonda Parrish
    The Hall of the Cavern King – Alexis Glynn Latner
    Customer Service – Katherine Tomlinson
    Luftgeist – David Lee Summers
    A Novel Love – Steve Alguire
    Pixie Dust – James Pratt
    To Catch a Glimpse – Margaret McGaffey Fisk
    Two Fangs – Jonathan D. Nichols
    Charlie Makes His Way – Peggy McFarland
    Saving Grace – Lillian Csernica
    The Longest Night – Cynthia Ward
    Crosses – David B Riley
    Night Work if You Can Get It – Jeff Baker
    Solutions – Bear Weiter
    Origins – Rie Sheridan Rose
    Little Brother – Evan Purcell
    And Thus Returning – Lyn McConchie
    Truck Driving Women – Trudy Myers
    Drac’s Diet – John Lance
    Outcast – Chris Barili
    Desperate Sparkles – Guy Anthony De Marco
    From Family Blood is Born – Dana Bell
    Avalon Knocking – Vic Kerry
    Safe Haven – Jonathan Shipley
    Den’s Used Caskets – William RD Wood
    Kids These Days – Mac Jones
    Mountains of Hope and Dreaming – Chris Wong Sick Hong

I’m especially pleased to see my Scarlet Order vampire story “Luftgeist” anthologized. This is one of my favorite Scarlet Order vampire tales and tells how Desmond Lord Draco fell afoul of the Nazis during World War II and escaped aboard the Hindenburg only to confront a valkyrie-like alien. Sparks definitely fly even if there are no sparkly vampires! I’ll keep you posted as I learn more news about the book.

Historical Vampire Hunters

Vampire Killing Kit

In modern fiction and movies, vampire hunters have become almost as common as vampires themselves. The vampires have a clear origin in folklore, but what about the vampire hunters? Every now and then, you run into displays of vampire killing kits such as the one to the left from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not collection. The claim is that these kits were created for travelers to Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth century and certainly lend some authenticity to the idea that at least someone was making a living off the idea of vampire hunting. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether these kits were authentic or not. I’ve come across some claims that the earliest ones were actually generated in the 1960s or 70s and made to appear antique.

Montague Summers makes an interesting reference to vampire hunters in his 1929 book The Vampire in Europe. In the section on “Modern Greece” he writes:

    As we say “to carry coals to Newcastle” so in Greece at the present day they talk of “sending vampires to Santorini” and Professor N.P. Polites of Athens University [in a 1904 article] says that the inhabitants of this island enjoy so vast a reputation as experts in effectively dealing with vampires and putting an end to them that there are two instances of quite recent date one of which occurred in the island of Mycomos and the other at Sphakia in Crete both of which concluded with the dispatch of the local vampire to Santorini to be cremated and finally disposed of there.

Whether or not Summers is giving an accurate account, it certainly stands as one of the earliest references I’ve seen to vampire hunting as something of an occupation.


In fact, most historical vampire slayers tend to be people like Japan’s Minamoto no Raiko. He was a real-life samurai who lived from about 948-1021. A larger-than-life figure, he’s featured in many legends. In one of the legends, he’s said to have slayed a Nukekubi, a vampire-like entity whose head detaches and feeds from the living. In fact, the earliest vampire slayers from fiction are also competent amateurs. Dracula’s Dr. Van Helsing wasn’t in the business of slaying vampires. He was simply a Renaissance man who knew how to get the job done.

I mention the vampire hunters of Santorini in my story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife” which appears in Cemetery Dance issue 66 and I retell the story of Minamoto no Raiko’s battle with the Nukekubi in my story “Experiment in Survival” which appears in the benefit anthology Healing Waves.