I need the Scares That Care Weekend event.

I turned fifty-six years old last month, and sometimes it's hard to keep from having the grumpy old horror fan syndrome. "You punks don't know good horror fiction! Why, in my day we had KARL EDWARD WAGNER! CHARLES L. GRANT! PETER STRAUB! T.E.D. KLEIN! DENNIS ETCHISON!".

Yeah, I feel that way sometimes, and it's lethal. It's a good way to grow old where it counts, and that's upstairs. Like those rubes with the shirts that say things like, "I may be old, but I got to see all the good bands!". Nyah, nyah nyah.

I do cherish the memories I have of reading and watching horror throughout the nineteen eighties. I stick to my guns that it was the greatest era for the genre, and I've had a lot of young readers tell me that they not only agree, but that they wish they had been around back then. Me, I wish I was young today. Sort of.

I can have my head buried in the past all I want, but the truth is, horror fiction is thriving right now. It's considerably more dicey than it was my my heyday, with the swamp of self-published materials out there, but despite that, there is one hell of a lot of phenomenal horror fiction on the market today.

You'll be hard pressed to find a place anywhere in which you'll see more horror fiction on display than the Scares That Care Weekend. Not just books are on display, but the authors themselves, and publishers. It's a thriving community, and like all communities, there are good streets and poor ones. But you have to walk down those roads for yourself to determine which is which.

Last weekend, as I write this, I attended the fourth Scares That Care Weekend (they deliberately eschew calling it a convention). It was a smoothly run event from the start, and this year was the best yet. STC is a charity organization, and every penny over and above costs goes to families in need.

There are media guests at Scares That Care, but frankly I am mostly uninterested in them. I don't even really know who half of them are (see old fogey references above). I'm there each year for the writers and the readers. In short: the horror fiction community, of which I have considered myself to be a part of for nearly twenty years.

The guests this year were a delightful mix of genre legends, current stars, and rising newcomers. The legends included Thomas F. Monteleone, John Skipp, Edward Lee, Joe R. Lansdale, John Maclay, and Chet Williamson. Today's heavy-hitters were represented by Jonathan Janz, Ronald Malfi, Mary SanGiovanni, and Paul Tremblay. And there were numerous new talents out there struggling to gain a foothold in the field.

It's a fantasy weekend for horror fiction fans, where you can step up and chat with favorite writers, or make friends with the new guys on the chopping block. And there are fans everywhere. It isn't a pro-centric event like World Horror or NECON, but a gathering of pros and fans. A harmonic weekend of horror.

What could be better for a fan or an aspiring writer? A great time, partying, books galore, and all for an unbeatable cause. You can literally feel the good will from everyone in attendance.

There are plenty of thanks to go around, but mostly I grateful to Joe Ripple for being the one who created the Scares That Care organization, and who holds it all together. Of course his staff are all overjoyed to be there, and together they make it all happen. Then there is Brian Keene, who organizes the author programming, and does God only knows what all else for the event.

No pay. Hard work. Endless headaches. They do it for people in need, and also for a great time for the horror community.

I started this piece off by saying that I need Scares That Care. And I do. This weekend of horrors is critical in keeping me up to date and aware of the changes in the genre. But you know what? Scares That Care needs me, too. They need all of us. The attendees who pay for admission, the ones who donate money, time, and valuable auction items. Scares That Care is truly a group effort and I see mutual appreciation and gratitude in just about every face I see there.

Thanks to everyone involved, and I hope and pray for this joyous, beautiful event to go on for years to come.