NOVEL FIRST DRAFT DONE. You Know How I’d Been Spinning Four Subplots?

19 05 2022

I landed all of them. I resolved all of them in the same, one scene.

Hell yes, I rock.

The novel is at approximately 45K words. Second draft polishing to begin tomorrow.

Casualty count: two dead, perhaps to be resurrected in a new reality. One new god, who is a Bubbling Chaos of Flesh and Consciousness in a Silver Bowl. One character reincarnated. Two new supra-powered adepts of the new god, wreaking havoc.

This is Gothic, Flesh, and Cosmic Horror with religious subtexts.

I have started collecting the names of small indie presses. At the time, I’m not bothering with agents until I get a contract.





At 32K On WIP and A Step Closer To Understanding My Purpose In Life

1 02 2022

Hi guys,

At this point, I’m working on the first fight between protagonists and the Big Bad (who is also a Big Reveal and even a Big Protagonist Insight, lotsa layers here). The protagonist will come out the worse for wear, as you do. I had no idea how to set up the Big Final Fight, which had to happen on the Protagonist’s turf for it to be meaningful and use these neato set pieces I am itching to use. It took a few minutes mulling while making dinner for the answer to appear: Big Protagonist Insight is that Protagonist and Big Bad want the same things, so yeah, Big Bad will want to seize Protagonist’s turf. With a little goading and insulting, Big Bad would charge in recklessly. A little trite, but it works.

Am I being too abstract?

The take-away here is by giving clear goals to your characters can fulfill plot needs more easily. “Motivation” is a basic detail, granted, but giving characters relatable motivations is more satisfying and provides more opportunity. The Big Bad could just be Evil and destroy just for the heck of it, but that would be lame. My Big Bad wants because it is a second-tier replacement for the Protagonist, and the BB knows that. Best to eradicate the Protagonist, be saved that painful reminder, and become a step closer to being the optimum replacement.

As in all things in life, what does this have to do with me?

When I started personal counseling (this phase of it), my counsellor stated the goal was to get me back to creating things the way I had as a child, scrawling stuff in the corner just to enjoy it. My past couple of years had brought me to realize my perception of the world was warped, my goals were warped by my perception of the world, and I daydreamed-imagined-created to avoid the world.

My perception was warped. I wanted relationships, experiences, growth, and I self-sabotaged because I thought the world barren of compassion. Knowing this, shouldn’t I push myself into new experiences? Aren’t my existing goals inherently flawed?

I grew up entertaining myself. It may have been a coping mechanism, but is entertaining yourself bad? Does I need a relationship? I’ve met only a few people in almost sixty years who “got me” and who “I got”. I’ve been sitting in Panera Bread and writing for almost ten years now. Have I been wasting my life?

I feel myself becoming more comfortable with my cloistered little self. I think that’s a good thing. Maybe it will help lead to other experiences.





Horror Is What I Am Working On

12 12 2021

Its a sequel!

I think I’ve mentioned my novel “The Flesh Sutra” is currently out of print. I have been advised by Tom Monteleone that revising at least 10% of its content will help me find a new publisher.

“I have a 50 thousand word idea to add to it,” I replied.

He blanched. “You don’t need to do that.”

So guess what I’m doing?

I’m about halfway through the first draft and I’m on the right track. I tried writing a sequel before with the wrong mindset. Have you written with a bunch of disjointed images in mind and tried to make a plot? Don’t do that.

This time I went into writing asking “what would Olivia do if left alone for fifty years as a living mummy?” Then came “why” and “how” and “what then” and “who with” and there came a nice exciting plot. It has body horror, cosmic horror, possession, transcendence, occult knowledge, and more set in the here-and-now. I am enjoying this greatly. My writing groups are enjoying this greatly. No one knows what is coming next.

At present, I am writing the first draft. Next comes revision. Then comes pitching to small publishers. I am searching up horror conventions in my area with an eye toward networking. I am following the podcasts and Twitter of noteworthy small publishers.

I am greatly concerned I will die an untimely death. I am even more concerned that at my age, death isn’t actually untimely.

If you are interested in a pdf of my first novel, which was on the long ballot for the 2014 Stoker Awards, leave a comment and we’ll figure out how to get it to you.





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.





Writers: Supercharge Your Protagonist

13 09 2018

I haven’t been posting my own comments for a while due to my finishing the first three Lampreyhead novellas (now 90K words total). I’m getting the cover art back from my back-up artist (more about that in a later post). I’ve gone through alpha and beta critiques. I’ve got a launch and sales plan together (another post on that, I promise).

Now, I am trying to write a sequel to “The Flesh Sutra”. Last year, I tried but after almost two drafts at 80K words, I realized I was trying to cram in too much. Did I want a clever revenge horror like Dr. Phibes? Did I want a claustrophobic haunted house like The Haunting of Hill House or something more over the top like Hell House?

Heck! I decided to go for all three and man it went nowhere.

Now, just as I start this next draft, two articles caught my eye and I find them really useful.

This one talks about types of “Leading Characters” with a concentration on Noir tropes. Olivia and Alex fall within the Negative Leads very well, and James Scott Bell at Kill Zone is helping me narrow down which plot type I want to use.

This other post is by Adam-Troy Castro, award winning author of everything from intense and stylish horror to the Gustav Gloop YA series. After 30 years of writing and submitting, I have just begun the character structures Adam so easily describes in his first paragraph. Who would suffer the most? What would a unique character do in an unsuspecting world?

The articles will seem basic to some, and I probably ran into the advice many times before. But the timing is fortunate now and I can use it to best effect in this sequel.





Hey Now! I’m In This!

22 03 2018

Pseudopod.org was one of my first turning points. They liked a story of mine so much, they publshed two of the stories sequels, which became the beginning of my novel “The Flesh Sutra”. This is their 10th Anniversary Special. Look at he names here! Thomas Ligotti! A.C. Wise! Joe Lansdale! If you haven’t tried Pseudopod, please give it a listen. If you know it, maybe donate a couple of dollars. They are great people and at the forefront of making great genre fiction.

Table of Contents I Have a Story for You • essay by Alex Hofelich Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story • (1985) • novelette by Thomas Ligotti Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown • (2016) • short story by Jon Padgett Stillborn • (1990) • short story by Nina Kiriki Hoffman In the Deepest […]

via For Mortal Things Unsung—A Horror Anthology from Pseudopod, TOC — The Sanguine Woods





This Is How Odd A Writing Life Can Be

15 06 2017

Gilbert-Event-Page-Image-500-x-343

I’ve been listening to “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast” so this post is coming out of me in Gilbert Gottfried’s voice.

My new novel is blocked up. I’ve done 80K words on a 50K word novel and at the very least I have another 100K words still to write. I have the bones of a plot but no working POV and the realization that the past nine months have not been fun.

Meanwhile, a friend who has a major publisher connected me with his agent. Great, but all agents are busy and finding one is a part-time job in itself. My publisher sent the agent a copy of “The Flesh Sutra” (WHY HAVEN’T YOU BOUGHT THIS BOOK? NANCY HOLDER SAYS IT’S GOOD AND IT COSTS ONLY 99 CENTS).

No response from the agent, okay. Agents are busy and I’ve got a novel making me question my life.

Response today. Agent wants to know if I have anything in the works.

Yes, my current work is a performance art piece titled “Existential Anguish”.

If you keep submitting for 28 years, you can be like me, a Myers-Briggs INTJ overthinking his existence in a 12X12 bedroom and running low on self-delusion just in time for a big break.

Did I mention that I’m away from my job for three weeks? THREE WEEKS! My writer friends who have lives and families and communities would kill for three weeks off so they can write what would be the next best-selling, multi-award winning novel of the ages. I will probably be watching Netflix and plucking hair off my ears.

The last thing I wanted to do was post about “wah wah the writers life sucks” like all the other writers in Writerdom. I hate being a cliche. I want to offer something useful.

Feh. We’ll see what happens.

 





$0.99 Body Horror: From The Stoker Preliminary Ballot To Your E-Reader

9 03 2017

“I LOVE ‘THE FLESH SUTRA’!”  –  Nancy Holder, NYT Best Selling Horror Author

Only 99 cents to your e-reader from Amazon. Erotic body horror under gaslight. Four Stars on Amazon. Dare to try “The Flesh Sutra”.

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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.





In Totally Insulated, Unrelated-To-World News, I’ve Got Another Novel and…

10 11 2016

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…I’ve gotten to 13K words in NaNoWriMo.
You all know NaNoWriMo. It’s my first time. I needed some sort of boost, because I’m two novels behind in my Five Year Plan, which ends in December. I’d be needing Beta Readers to give me critiques. Would you like to read the draft?
So far, having a deadline’s been working pretty well. Due to genetics and upbringing, I am suspicious of any sort of organized “fun” activity, but this is working out.
This novel is a sequel to my Stoker long-listed novel “The Flesh Sutra”, which is set in 1890s San Francisco and contains body horror, Tantric sex, ruminations about romantic love, and a dysfunctional relationship between two increasingly powerful mystics. Would you like to be a Beta Reader?
This new novel has a working title “The Flesh Frequency” and is set in 1971 San Francisco.
Weird Stuff count so far:

  • A Jim Morrisson/Brian Wilson analog has his soul imbued in his last recording, to have that recording duplicated over-and-over, so that he is doing the same song over-and-over until his torment goes multi-Platinum.
  • An antiquarian who likes young flesh realizes what coins and lovers have in common, and molds so medallions of smelted gold upon his own body.
  • An aspiring Satanist steals the wrong body and discovers enlightenment is infinitesimally different than death.
  • The protagonist has to choose between a passionless existence and a greater meaning placing all humanity at risk.

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  • Remember Olivia? One word: sokushinbutsu

I have to get to 50K by the end of a holiday month.
Would any of you good people like to be a Beta Reader?

Header photo courtesy of this rather interesting story.








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