My Creative Process: Generating Ideas

8 07 2021

A stage magician’s soul is forced into a grub eating his mother’s corpse. An abused housemaid is drawn into a world within a kaleidoscope. A steamship doomed by the ghosts of colonialism and personal trauma.

Many people liked my novel “The Flesh Sutra” for the same reason I enjoyed writing it: it had a few digressive “Monsters of the Week” (or rather “of the Chapter”) which added depth and variety to the world, and frankly were also really cool ideas.

I’m working on a sequel and a re-release of an improved “Flesh Sutra”. The sequel’s plot has been fun so far. But the plot is moving too quickly and I think I and the characters need a breather. So I want a “Monster of the Chapter”.

The plot so far: A woman named Gretchen is possessed by Olivia, a transcended spiritualist. Olivia has had keepsakes taken from her and Gretchen is driving across country in a used car, from San Diego to Hartford, to retrieve an item. Olivia is a Strange Attractor and Gretchen sees into the spirit realm. What happens during the road trip? I didn’t want to play where anyone else had played.

The first thing I did was track that trip with Google Maps. I noted what was on that route every mile of the 3000+ drive. (I had decided to keep their car a safe space so as to not disrupt the actual progress). I came up with this list. Then I highlighted the places where I had personal experience. And noted items that would be seen along the way.

List of things along highways: 

Cemeteries, factories, grain silos, truck stops, suburban developments (if you lived here, you’d be home by now), South of the Border, Tourist traps, airports, bays and inlets, bridges (truck hanging off bridge, suicide attempt), railroad, military bases, prisons, rest stops, corn and wheat fields, dangerous turns, crumbling infrastructure, cities, slums, museums, gas stations, zoos, state parks, police barracks, refineries, overpasses driving over neighborhoods (car drives off overpass and disappears), billboard, fairground, racetrack, campground, reservations, recreational farms, casinos, horseback riding services, hospitals, Hard Rock casino, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, Blue Gate Resaturant, university, wildlife area, Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay, sports complex, golf course, Splash Lagoon, little colleges, Veterans Administration, museum of glass, Howe Caverns, a museum for an author I found witty but penurious in outlook 

The yellow signifies places where I have personal experience. I put “billboards” in purple because it is a recurring sight and has some horrific potential. The “museum for an author” is the Mark Twain Museum, which Olivia would have an opinion about.

Then I mined TVTropes.com. This wiki is awesome. Its contributors drill down into all media, define their correlations, and link similarities. You can lose hours of your life just wandering through educational, witty, startling critiques. David Lynch talks about “gathering wood” for inspiration, that is, pulling together inspirations. Here’s what I gathered and may use.

An ad for The BBC had a head made of disembodied heads. People complained. 

This Duracell Ultra commercial accidentally evokes this trope. In some of those shots, those little pink Duracell Bunnies look more like a mass of squirming maggots. 

A public service announcement from the USDA APHIS regarding accidentally bringing in invasive species was spoken by a man made out of various insects wearing gentlemanly clothes. He talks to the camera about his desire to spread himself elsewhere, then lifts up an arm and disperses the insects it’s made of. This was intentionally played for creeps. He’s basically the Affably Evil spokesman for their “Hungry Pests” campaign. 

Downplayed example: Azhi Dahaka, a three-headed dragon associated with the Zoroastrian apocalypse, has scorpions instead of blood. 

The Portuguese Man o’ War looks like a floating jellyfish, but is, in fact, a colony of four organisms known as polyps. Its tentacles can grow to twenty metres in length (ten is the average) with a sting that can be very painful. Definitely not something you want to get tangled up with, especially since Portuguese Men o’ War are most commonly found in large groups. 

The Portuguese Man o’ War is one of a number of creatures in the order Siphonophorae, of which there are three suborders. Counted among them is the gigantic Praya dubia, which can grow to lengths of 130ft/40 metres, making them the second-longest marine organism on the planet. 

Clinic is a short film about a series of bizarre, Medical Horror-themed nightmares had by an elderly patient in a hospital. 

Zdzisław Beksiński 

Francisco de Goya‘s “Black Period”. 

Come and See uneasily swirls together the nightmare reality of war with the surreal weirdness of regularnightmares to very disturbing effect. Several sequences in the movie are implausible and downright surreal, and intentionally so. 

The Third Policeman is a darkly comic novel by Irish author Flann O’Brien, best known for his earlier work At Swim-Two-Birds. Written between 1939 and 1940, it didn’t receive publication until 1967, after the author’s death. 

The story concerns an unnamed narrator and his tenant John Divney, both of whom are in dire need of funds (the narrator wishes to publish a commentary on the writings of a philosopher named de Selby; Divney wishes to get married). Divney proposes killing the local miser, Philip Mathers, and stealing his cash-box. However, while the narrator is in the process of retrieving the cash-box, he encounters the ghost of Mathers. Thus begins a series of surreal, disturbing and hilarious adventures as he attempts to recover the money. 

sudden falling 

K-2 is synthetic marijuana that has been banned from Michigan. The drug seems to slow time like regular marijuana, but it gives an extreme high that lasts a short period. It can react poorly in some people and cause them to be confused and dangerous to themselves and the people around them. People who take it can still move freely (if they don’t faint) and can become easily frightened by the strange sensations they are experiencing. Non-violent people will suddenly assault seven people in half an hour. The experience messes with time perception and memory so badly, it can feel like a person has been trapped in some kind of prison for years. It can also cause a user to have periods of what feels like a panic attack monthsafter use. 

There’s also Salvia divinorum, which takes the horror to even more horrifying degrees than K-2. 

These invoked some dread and nausea. Some seemed related to the terrain being crossed, in that the US is steeped in drugs and war. I avoid social issues in writing, because I don’t do it very well. But the drug description had some potential and the war…well…old battlefields and old hatreds fuel a lot of ghost stories.

My next step is to explore this stuff until I’m bored with it. I set it aside and see what ideas pop up this week, next week, whenever.

If you’re interested, I ‘ll keep you posted on what appears.





Trying Advertising Campaigns and BOOK TWO IS GO!

29 10 2018

I’m trying Amazon Sales Marketing to promote Lampreyhead Book Two. I have set a “per-click” budget of 22 cents per click with a limit of $100. The goal is to see if the twenty two cents brings in a purchase at $2.99. If not, I will have to change tactics, or ad copy, or maybe even venues.

The audio book is on hold until I can get the advertsingbudget established. My dayjob is in retail. I do not want to take out of savings, because I already did that to do the cover art.

So! Book Two is out!

“The action scenes are fantastic! Wow. The story really pulled me in.” – Dona Fox, Amazon horror author

Ned didn’t dare turn to look. He burst through the doors and out the back door. Sprayed the threshold.
He scooped up the bag he’d left at the door. Ran around the side of the store to the front.
Bag bouncing in left hand and squirt gun raised in his right, Ned clenched his jaw and rounded the corner to the side of the store. He slowed as he approached the next corner. He crouched and peered.
The glass doors glowed with divine light. Along the door sat several white propane tanks, obviously brought by the Banquet.
Hands at his eyes, Bogen snarled. “Let us in!”
The other three played with Don like cats with a mouse. The woman seized his face. She lifted him from his feet. She reached under her hem and produced a gleaming knife. She lowered her mouth onto his. Waggled her head in mockery of a passionate kiss as the knife came down onto his face. Don thrashed and kicked.
What do I do? I can’t let him die!
She dropped him, Don’s face black with gore. His lips seemed impossibly wide, showing blackened teeth in the blue light.
She sliced his lips off.
The rest fell upon him.
Pieces flew. Something like cloth flipped away then flopped like a wet towel.
Don’s legs kicked in electric agony.
Above the scene, a voice called in their strange, hissing language.
Atop the roof, glowing sickly yellow from the Top Tech sign, the Judas in a chef’s hat waved a white-clad arm. He thrust a white arm behind him to the roof.
The skylights!
Ned cursed himself.
The roof had a dozen skylights. Each were protected only by a grill of thin iron.
I have to shut him up!
It was easily twenty feet up to the roof. Ned didn’t remember the last time he’d leapt that high.
He set down his bag and took out the jug of holy water.
He crouched. Hesitated. Took three steps back. Cursed himself and ran to the wall. Stomped with all his strength.
Mid-air, his foot as his work shoe went flying. The jug loosened in his grip.
For a hysterical moment, the jug gurgled inches from his face. He bobbled it and thrust it above his head.
He landed on the roof off balance. His right foot slid from beneath him and he landed on his ass. The plastic jug skittered away against the tar paper.
The chef hissed again, joyful and grotesque.
His white ass pointed at Ned.
Scooping up the jug, Ned removed the cap. A beam of light shot from within. He held the jug at arm’s length.
Ned crept behind the chef. He threw the plastic bottle and ducked away.
The chef’s back exploded.
The chef screamed. He clawed at his back as the holy water savaged him. Scrabbling and twisting, he lost his footing. The chef tumbled over the edge of the building.
Ned gained a lease on his lamprey-themed, vampire-prototype life. His new handler Amanda is ready with fashion advice, business acumen, or her gun. He provides days-long orgasms to now higher-paying clients. Ned wants to bury his selfish past. Thanks to his new magic books, he resolves to fight his family of fellow prototypes, the Formulae.
When Amanda finds Evil at a big box electronics store, Ned leaps in ready to fight and get that employee discount. But the best employees disappear. Mysterious customers buy startling amounts of stuff. TVs show visions of cannibal blood-feasts. Spirits say the store is doomed.
Are the Formulae involved?
In the spirit of Clive Barker and Stephen King, Ned gets fishy. Can he save the missing employees? Save the store from massacre? Or will he just swim away with quality electronics at a low price?

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Amazon Review: FIVE STARS for Lampreyhead Book One!

24 10 2018

He was created to please Satan, then – abandoned. Our hero is an abominable creature who, though…

Says author Dona Fox!

Click it! Click it and read!

My romp has emotional underpinnings that may out-Herzog Herzog. If you like the idea of Herzog creating a “Buffy” episode, it seems this may be the series for you.

Find out for yourself! Click the cover to read on Kindle Unlimited or purchase it outright. It’s just in time for Halloween. Takes only three hours to read. Try it today.

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“The action scenes are fantastic! Wow. The story really pulled me in.”

22 10 2018

This is from esteemed horror indie author Dona Fox.

More praise for the eventually-to-be made-into-a-limited-SyFy-series-sooner-or-later “Fishtown Blood Bath: Lampreyhead Book One”.

Halloween is coming. You like your spooky stuff a little zany, action-packed, maybe a little twisted.

Over a thousand downloads from Freebooksy! Over three hundred reads on Kindle!

Get in on this and become one of the cool kids who are in the know!

Three hours to read it. Weeks to process and recover from it. Click it now!

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What A Reader Or Editor Will Never Tolerate. And One Day Left For FREE Giveaway!

14 10 2018

I have read slush for George Scithers, the former editor of “Asimov’s” Magazine and “Weird Tales”, who was honored with two Hugo awards for editing. I listened to the man, learned a little, and through him met other editors. I learned something very basic that few beginning writers realize.
An enthusiastic reader is a forgiving creature. If you are writing zombie stories and the reader loves zombies, then the reader will forgive flaws in the story. An enthusiastic reader will forgive leaden pacing, flat characters, poor descriptions, even trite zombies.
A hopeful editor can be equally forgiving. If there is a nugget of an idea, an editor filled with hope can see the potential of this zombie story and show the writer how that story can be improved.
The worst such a reader or editor will say is “this is a bad story.” But they will probably still read it. Some of it.
What is the one thing a reader and an editor will not tolerate? What will keep a reader and editor from even turning past page one to even see if the story is any good?
Poor formatting. This includes poor grammar, typos, and wrong punctuation. For editors, this includes not following formatting guidelines.
Formatting, spacing, spelling, punctuation are all tracks that keeps the reader’s attention moving along the plot. Every time there is a slip, the reader is jolted from the plot and has to figure out what the author’s meaning. Enough jolts and even the most patient reader will get off the story before the end of the line.
For editors, not following the basic rules of writing and not paying attention to formatting guidelines shows that the writer lacks professionalism.
When I read slush for “Weird Tales”, they hadn’t started taking e-subs yet. Submissions came in by snail-mail in a stack about five inches tall. Each day. It was my job as slush reader to take that stack and reduce it to maybe one or two candidates to give to George for him to consider for publication. It amazed me how many writers had ignored the standard guidelines for “Weird Tales”. If these writers found the “Weird Tales” address, why didn’t they find the guidelines just above that address?
A good sixty percent of each day’s stack were in the wrong font, or had the wrong spacing, or misused English.
Reading these submissions was a chore and one easily relieved through first-round rejection. George was a gentleman and his rejection letters would provide a sentence of about the guidelines or about reading Strunk and White along with some encouragement.
Other editors, and almost all readers, would not have been so patient.
So guidelines and proper formatting will get you ahead of the bulk of your competition. Put your time in on the basics. Editors and readers will give your plot a chance.
Speaking of giving writing a chance….
Over ONE THOUSAND DOWNLOADS of “Fishtown Bloodbath”! Many readers are giving Lampreyhead his chance to shine. Download a free copy and get ahead of this morbid comedy curve.

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Writers: For Amazon and Goodreads Reviews…

13 10 2018

Reviewing on amazon





942 Downloads! Be The First To Review!

10 10 2018

The launch of “Fishtown Blood Bath” couldn’t have gone better, y’all!

As of this morning, 942 of you have downloaded the free Kindle book and are racing to be the cool kid with the first review.

At 36,000 words, it’s a quick, rowdy read. See weird vampires, guns, magic, and very nearly the end of the world.

It’ll be an afternoon well spent. Download a free copy now. Offer ends Saturday.

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Get Your “Lampreyhead” On Today!

9 10 2018

The buzz is getting buzzier! Page reads are flying on Kindle Unlimited. Says a reviewer:

I could see this as a series on SyFy.

Starring Bruce Campbell? Swoon!

Is the reader right? Could this be sponsored by Geico?

Have a look for yourself. It’s on Kindle Unlimited or get it for free on today!

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Tomorrow Get “A Toothsome Romp”! For FREE!

8 10 2018

A reader declared “Fishtown Blood Bath: Lampreyhead Book One”:

A toothsome romp from start to finish. Juicy but not too gory.

Don’t miss out on a book filled with vampire prototypes, evil magic, the personal growth regimen of the undead, and why Satan hasn’t shown up on Earth yet. Read it for free starting Tuesday. Or click below and read it on Kindle Unlimited today.

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Four More Days! Audio Book In The Works!

5 10 2018

I’ll be releasing an audio book of “Fishtown Blood Bath: Lampreyhead Book One” next year.

In the meantime, you can read it for free starting Tuesday for a limited time! Or you can read it now with your Kindle Unlimited account. Its 33K words of quirky, bloodthirsty action. Click on the cover to learn more.

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