I Seep Toward My Petri Dish: An Update and Story Prompts

5 01 2017

Almost 150 people are following my posts through WordPress. Various others drop by thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and links from where I have published.

Thank you, all of you, for your attention.

I’ve been struggling to figure out what I can do to be worthy of that attention. I can give writing advice, but I keep finding links to other writers that say what I was going to say anyway.

 

feeings-wheel

 

Like this Feelings Wheel. They seem popular, so I’ll keep doing that.

Most of you like strange but true stuff and story prompts.

slime-preview

Like this one where Slime Mold Solves Problems. Read this! It’s so cool! So yeah, I’ll keep doing those.

I’m 35K into a sequel to my Stoker Jury Recommended novel “The Flesh Sutra”.

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Have you read this? Professional writers agree “The Flesh Sutra” is cool.

The working title is “The Flesh Frequency” and it is set in 1971 San Fransisco. It’s not going to be as body horror as TFS, but I’ve got some frightful stuff happening in the Carruthers House as some paranormal investigators go in to figure out strange goings on.
I’m trying to pull a little slight of hand that I saw done in the haunted house movie “Session Nine” (have you seen it? It’s creeeepy!). In the meantime, happy little ideas have allowed me to vent on things I liked about the era, like the music was pretty boss; and about things I do not like, like the predatory sexuality, drug abuse, and the sun-blinded optimism of the times. The Breendoggle makes an appearance. Look that up and get skeeved.

Also, I am working with my publisher Noble Fusion Press to better promote our quality works from our award-winning, attractive authors.

So here I am, my own little slime mold intuiting my way to the petri dish of agar, which for me would be my own quiet apartment in a metropolitan area and a healthy relationship, hoping this year brings you plenty of sugar and other genotypes with which to fuse.

That was forced, yes, but I have to keep an edge.





I Squeezed StokerCon, Baby.

18 05 2016

I went to StokerCon and got the rewards that’ll build a career.

I want to up my game and begin using conventions to establish business connections. I’ve read dozens of articles over the years on how to network, but had neither the nerve nor the credentials to approach those on the next rung up on the ladder.

  1. This year’s StokerCon was the first to have a full weekend and have lots of workshops with professionals. What did I do?
  2. Assessed my personality. I’m introverted and anxious in general. But if I’m comfortable, I’m glib and pretty damn charming, so I’m told. This was my first “businessy” convention, so to keep up my glibness, I…
  3. …Kept my goals reasonable. If I spoke with editors and agents and was able to pitch my current project, that would be a success. To insure my glibness, I…
  4. …Talked about projects I had described many times. Rehersing would make me nervous (ain’t the way it’s supposed to work, I know, but I’m certain to grow out of this) so I made note only to mention “Diesel Dead” and use “The Flesh Sutra” and its preliminary ballot nod as an introduction/validation. This would work for…
  5. …Speaking with everyone. Not just pros but also my fellow aspirants. We’re all in the same boat, after all. Everyone has something I could learn. This worked well, because…
  6. …Workshops held all types of learning opportunities. Nancy Holder conducted a two hour workshop on discovering physical and mental cues to use when ratcheting up suspense to flat-out horror. Jo Fletcher, Stephen Graham Jones, and agent Ian Drury affirmed what I’d already heard about the market but provided an unexpected opportunity. Another big name’s workshop was a big-time slack-off by said big name, but another attendee found where I can improve another project I’m working on. The convention had other, built-in ways I could learn like…
  7. …editor pitch sessions, which I took one (those slots went quick), and paying a semi-pro editor to review/edit the first 100 pages of DD.

How’d I do?

Three editors want see a synopsis of DD. Ian Drury surprised his workshop by giving those attending a pitch session with him. Had my business card, had my material down, had my glib on. He asked for a synopsis. Meanwhile…

…Nancy Holder’s workshop held a boggling reward. After an arresting two hours, when the attendees milled around waiting to introduce themselves, I gathered my nerve and got out a business card. I walked up to her and said,

“Hi Miss Holder? My name’s Tim Burke and I had a novel on the preliminary ballot for the Stoker’s last year.”

“Really?” she smiled. “I was on the recommending panel. Which one was yours?”

I had forgotten she had been on the panel.

“‘The Flesh Sutra’?”

She gasped. “YOU’RE ‘The Flesh Sutra’? I loved ‘The Flesh Sutra’! I love your novel!”

And Nancy Holder flung her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug.

Yes, this all was worth the money. It’ll be a couple of years before I go across the country, but in terms of business this has helped me in ways I’m still processing.

I stayed a day after the con ended to do Vegas. Ate at buffets: YOU SUCKED HARRAH’S, however CAESAR’S was $60 a plate and was so-o-o good. I hardly ate the next day I was so full.

And I finally got to fire some automatic weapons at Battlefield:Vegas. I’m writing it off as research.

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At this moment, I am so glad I write Horror instead of messing with the Hugos.

17 06 2015

Good friends of mine are distraught about the Hugos, about the impending Tor boycott, about the whole philosophical bru-ha-ha in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. If you don’t know about what bru-ha-ha, just google “Sad Puppies” and lose a day in the internet getting caught up.

I have friends who have published or are about to publish with Tor. I hope they are not taking the boycott seriously. The boycott will come, it will go, and the loss will be notable but not lethal. The only threat to Tor’s bottom-line is the publisher having to recoup the multi-million dollar bet they placed on John Scalzi instead of bringing in new writers with new followings.

One side is organized around progressive politics, the other traditional politics. Fans and writers of the first side have received prejudice and abuse for their beliefs at conventions, in forums, and in life in general. The other has too. Generally speaking, each side believes their injuries are the worse of the two and the other side is trying to destroy civilization. Each side believes the other is restricting access to publishers and awards.

Both sides have notable authors and media people in support. Both sides have people who tell of their own experiences with prejudice, even death threats, from believers of the other sides values.

Awards and organizations are cliquish. Here is something I devoutly believe:
In any organization, the boldest and rudest will rule. Periodic elections are supposed to insure responsiveness to need. Until the political organizations become meritocracies, which can be gamed until they stagnate.

I can name a few stories that won Hugos and Nebulas purely because of the writer’s name and reputation; they must have because IMO those stories were pure crap. Ask me and I’ll tell you which ones. Everyone can do that with some story or another that has won a prize. There’re folks who must think something I’ve written is crap. That’s how it is when someone has a mind.

Why not Horror? Does the Horror Writers of America have this problem of politics? I have not noticed. What I have noted is that horror writers tend to avoid discussing politics and keep to making that dollar. Horror writers tend to be cut-throat only in promoting their work. They don’t even tear each other down.

Two reasons for this: 1) insularity: today’s annoying hack is tomorrow’s editor of that anthology you really want to get in. That and there’s lots of fan overlap. Readers of Edward Lee will also read Catherine Valente if the story’s good.
2) WE HAVE VERY FEW MFA DEGREES. Despite Ellen Datlow bringing major mainstream writers like Joyce Carol Oates into the fold, there are very few purveyors of fringe experimental prose and thought in Horror. Yes, there’s Kelly Link and Llyvia Llewellyn, but for every one of the more abstract writer, there are two writers like the Lansdales or F. Paul Wilson. Academics bring academia and deconstruction and the yearning for theory-of-a-better-world-made-flesh.

There are more experimental venues I have a slim-to-none chance of getting into (Nightmare Magazine, for example). But I’ve also read stories I’ve considered truly satisfying in those venues, so I do not feel excluded from them.

Science Fiction bills itself as the literature of the future. Fantasy bears the weight of civilizations past and the magic we yearn to be. Horror wants to scare you and make a dollar.

(The Lovecraft Statue, Tim! They want to change the World Fantasy Award Lovecraft Statue! That statue is the ugliest damn thing I’ve ever wanted to win. Compare that controversy to the Hugos. Big whoop.)

As for HWA, I recognize the officers but have little idea of the organizational workings. Readers vote on the Stokers. Whoever brings more to the balloting wins. The Jacksons have a panel that decides upon a voting jury. I could see problems there, but the Jackson Trust runs it, so it’s theirs to do what they will.

Have gay people felt oppressed at horror conventions? Have ardent Evangelists felt dissuaded from expressing their faith? I’m sure they have. That’s people, folks. Generally, people suck.

There has been some good in all of this. As a writer of Horror, some truly terrible things have come out of various closets that are both appalling and good fodder.

I’ve been following the major players in all of this for years. Items expressed on the sites seem to be core issues referred to over and over that supporrated (sp?) into the rot now erupting this week. These are the questions that the Hugos, the Puppies, the SFWA, and all SF&F fans need to ask and resolve to have peace and quiet:

Why are Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband known for being child-molesters (look it up) and still permitted to keep their awards? WTF SFWA? Every inconsistency interferes with an institution’s credibility and growth.

How can an industry get more people to use its products without changing the existing environment? More buyers are good, so attitudes must be more open to that change, right Hugos?

How can SF&F experience the growth seen in Romance writing?

How can existing organizations of experienced writers maintain quality while encouraging expression in that growing market?

Because Horror doesn’t seem to have these problems. The growth is there, but it seems to be manageable. The support is there without having the death threats from opposing philosophies.

I’m glad I write horror.





From Pseudopod.org, the horror publication with the most subscribers in the world

21 02 2015

PseudopodBanner

 

“Tim Burke is one of the best authors we’ve ever featured. His stories of Victorian mediumship and horror have been collected and expanded into the excellent The Flesh Sutra. In fact it’s so excellent that it’s been longlisted for a Stoker Award this year. So, pop along to the The HWA website and take a look at the ballot. There’s some great stuff on there and the finalists will be announced on the 23rd. So, if you’re a member, go vote and go vote for Tim, his stuff’s great. Also if you don’t own the The Flesh Sutra, pick it up, it’s brilliant”





“The Flesh Sutra” is ON PRELIM BALLOT for the Stoker Awards

21 01 2015

 

Originally, I thought “short list” and “ballot” were two different things. Headline was a bit over enthusiastic.

It’s still an honor to have impressed the judges. That alone makes the effort worthwhile.

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/01/2014-bram-stoker-preliminary-ballot/








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