Writing Advice from Poe: So, yeah.

3 06 2015

We all know Edgar Allen Poe invented the modern short story structure, the mystery story, the detective procedural, and also knew how to break the rules and still make great tales.

Open Culture opens a warehouse filled with artful advice, prompts, news, and obscurities.

Here is an article sharing writing advice from Poe.





Obscure Monsters From Folklore: This is such a cool article!

28 05 2015

What’s the most obscure folklore creature you know? That Asian vampire floating-head-with-the guts-hanging? The Icelandic Frozen Baby Chest Crusher? Electric Literature has several severals of little known creatures. This is a great website for any writing in any genre.





Conventions for Writers: Are They Worth It?

26 05 2015

This past Memorial Day weekend, I attended ConQuesT in Kansas City. It was my fourth such visit and it was by far the best con experience I’ve had so far. How did I make that happen? Well, I’ll tell you.

Confluence of Efforts: My novel was out this time and on the table to be sold. And it sold five copies. People liked the texture of the cover stock (no foolin’. It made a difference!). Folks nodded and made DeNiro face at the “Preliminary Ballot of the Stokers.” The back copy and blurbs made people stare and wonder if they could risk reading such a well-received thriller.

So writers: Have your ad copy up to professional standards.

Surrounded By Help: The book sold at the table of my publisher, Noble Fusion Press. My publisher laid out a professional presentation with other authors of note like Lawrence Schoen, who has a Hugo nomination and two Nebula nominations, one Neb nom for his current offering on the table right beside my book.

Writers: You cannot do it all yourself. Find like-minded people like writers groups and coordinate your efforts and skills.

MAGIC ATTENTION-GRABBING WORD: Yes, there is a magic word that will pull in passers-by. No, not that one. Or that one. The word is “chocolate.”
I crooned, “Cho-co-la-a-ate.” I held a gem of Dove Bite aloft between my fingers. The passersby swayed to the siren call, then succumbed.

Writers: Offer chocolate. Good stuff. Quality chocolate means you respect your audience.

Volunteer for Panel Discussions: Concentrate on your areas of obvious expertise. If you contact early and offer to panel, the committee may solicit you for ideas for panels. If you don’t feel comfortable in front of people, offer to help the con committee in setting up. Either way, you meet people who do what you do and want to help you do it better.

Socialize: After programming parties are swell. Even the tipsy people act like grown-ups. Go to the hotel bar and look for a familiar face: “Hey, I really liked your panel…” or even say “Hi, I’m new here. How’s your day been?” Don’t try to sell. Just meet people. Everything is about people.

What did I get from the convention? Lovely face-to-face time with my publisher. Meeting another small press publisher. A regaining of confidence. Encouragement on two novels I will now write proposals for. A possible novel collaboration. A whole bunch of people who will remember my name and think “chocolate” and “nice guy who wasn’t pushy”.

It is a small foundation but it is solid and ready to be built upon.





COULD A NEW TERRY PRATCHETT GET PUBLISHED TODAY? I DOUBT IT.

13 03 2015

The world has turned too many times. The era for the satiric British voice passed away last decade and the cavalier remark died in this one. My regret is not just appreciating Sir Terry while he lived, but that his like will not come again.

I have read very little Pratchett. I tried but my Brit humor nerve had been burned out long ago. People I admire admired Pratchett, though. I read the subjects he tackled and quotes from his work and I sorely felt the fault for my limitation.

I read the major publications and keep track of novel releases and for the life of me I can’t imagine who else examines the human condition, darts in, and tickles it. Would such a writer have a chance in today’s market?
Short stories? As far as I can see, the only venues publishing blithe and pithy humor are Asimov’s, F&SF, and Daily Science Fiction. Pratchett’s work was too Eurocentric and too lacking in florid or floral language for any other venue. Not enough pop culture references to get on McSweeny’s.

Who would publish his novel? Orbit? Baen?
Of his first three novels, the first was an ill-received fantasy and the next two were Niven parodies. What publisher would have stuck with him beyond those to take a risk on Ankh-Morpork?

I am not alone in my lack of appreciation. SFWA had many chances to give Sir Terry his due with Hugos and Nebulas. Not one nomination over decades, except for one near the end of his life. He refused the award. Good for him.
SFWA joins every other literary body and the MPAA in being too insecure to acclaim some joke-teller. He’d be too British to get a Twain.
Who growing in our midst could be a quasi-Pratchett? Alex Shvartsman? Grady Hendrix?
Neil Gaiman has reverted to formula.
Jeffrey Fford?
Esther Friesner? Another humor writer without a Hugo or Nebula.

The fragmentation of Genre markets have made a writer like Sir Terry almost impossible. The Genres are being crushed by seriousness. The vitality and irreverence that Sir Terry thrived on is fleeing into Young Adult and Romance fiction, or trying to define itself as Weird, Bizarro, or Superversive (google them).

It may be decades before we see the likes of him again, if ever.





“The story I am working on may suck and that’s okay.”

15 01 2015

The two main reasons I procrastinate are “Fear of Failure” before I write and “Trying To Be All Things” after the first draft.

Both have dogged me in humor writing, writing horror, writing blog posts, and — if the Japanese concept of “Do” is applied here — in my life in general.
It takes effort for me to trick myself out of these mindsets which cause the procrastination. Here’re some things that have worked for me.
“Fear of Failure”: I joined a comedy group when I was at college and I went a full year without writing anything or performing on stage. The other performers were very patient. The problem was that I imagined that I had to be the greatest thing ever to happen to comedy. I imagined that my entire reason for existence was to be the greatest comedian-humorist the planet ever produced.
The same problem happened with writing prose. That story I was working on had to be the one to set the world on fire.
Immature and self-absorbed? Hell, yes. At the same time, I was terribly self-critical. If what I did wasn’t received enthusiastically, I would despise my effort.
How did I get around that chronic insecurity?
I started small. I showed what I wrote to a few friends whose opinion I respected. A writing group is good for that, whether face-to-face or online. I got to realizing that writing and performing were learned skills (yes, one can teach “art” and “writing” and “acting”). I didn’t expect a man who was leaning to play piano to bang out a concerto or write a symphony in the first month or even the first years, did I?
Art is a dialogue. You learn from it while doing it. You learn more by showing it to others. Then you write another story. All writers have stories that didn’t work and bursting trunks full of half-baked ideas.
When I read slush for Weird Tales, I was told by the editors that even Big Name Authors submitted stories that made the staff scratch their heads.
So I allowed myself to fail.
To get around “Fear of Failure” I remind myself “The story I am working on may suck and that’s okay.”
Related to that…
“Trying To Be All Things”
Sometimes I come up with an idea for a story or sketch and I get that rush of inspiration. The first draft goes well. I “cast” my story with people I know and tweak those people to fit the plot needs and discover the characters still worked. The ending has a satisfying conclusion, whether it be funny or bleak or whatever. The theme that emerges doesn’t make me too uncomfortable.
Who am I kidding! Those things never happen in the draft stages!
Because that first idea will lead to another idea and another, and I want to include several generations of ideas in the story. Or I’ll read a blog that I agree with about how there’s already way too much stuff out there that’s This Thing, and there needs to be more That Thing. By this time the tone is vibrating between “body horror” and “commentary about the US surveillance state” and “post-modern YA urban fantasy”.
Eeesh. I get a headache just thinking about it.
To get around this “Trying To Be All Things”, I remind myself the story does not have to accomplish anything but have a plot, provoke an emotion, and reveal a deep and lively truth. Decide on the emotion and the plot will fall into place.
Which emotion? Whatever the writer finds most satisfying.
My solution at this time of my life: “Which emotion makes me, the author, most uncomfortable?” Not just in terms of making me say “eww”, but in revealing something new to me about myself.
Where I believed myself One Philosophy then discover maybe I understand or appreciate Something I Had Held In Disdain. In this case, perhaps, where I had disliked YA Urban fantasy, I discover and feel the uplifting and inspirational aspects of the genre.
Why would I resist that sort of uplift and inspiration? That question would be the source of conflict for the story.
But what if I discover that I like the idea of torturing cats? Don’t I have any ethics, man?!
Hence “deep and lively truth”. One of the few things I like about Ayn Rand was her insistence that art inspire people to want to get out of bed in the morning (my paraphrase. She would have said that in 30+ page monologue. zing!)
What if my “truth” annoys someone?
Part of art’s dialogue is weighing what reader’s say. I haven’t really had to deal with aggressive disagreement, so I’ll find out what I’ll do when I get to it.
So! Write like its a biological function! Show it to others! Listen and weigh opinions! Keep your work to one message or feeling! Repeat!
Excrete, sculpt the poo, fling. Get the judge’s scores. Adapt your technique. Repeat.





“The Flesh Sutra” Chapter Is One Of The Best Of 2014!

9 01 2015

According to the blog “Diabolical Plots“, my story “The Metal and Its Mold” was one of the best on Pseudopod last year, in such company with James Tiptree Jr., Elizabeth Hand, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Charles Dickens.

That story is Chapter Five of “The Flesh Sutra”, available on Amazon.





I’ve Submitted To The Stoker Awards!

4 11 2014

“The Flesh Sutra” has been submitted into the Novel and First Novel categories! I’m excited because I believe in a world filled with zombies, vampires, and subtle surrealities, “The Flesh Sutra” offers something deeper, more insightful, and vivid.

Keep your eyes open, as I plan to submit to the Compton Crook and the Shirley Jackson Awards.

Meanwhile, take a glimpse of something that weirded out the editors of Pseudopod. Click the image.

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A Great Article With Book Recommendations

21 10 2014

Reggie Oliver is way underrated, for example. He writes great suspense.

The Literature of Fear: 12 High-Quality Horror Books for Sleepless Nights





The Flesh Sutra

18 10 2014

“The Flesh Sutra” is a work filled with fascinating characters, surprising, sometimes horrific, events and a very sweeping, cinematic style.”
In Fin de siècle Boston, the mystic healer Alecsandri Keresh falls into the desperate embrace of his lover, Mrs. Olivia Spalding, as he is shot dead. In those final moments before the soul passes through the gateway of death forever, Alecsandri’s rage transforms his power and he forces his way back. But he does so through ghastly means and returns to life – as an abomination.

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I Have A Goal & It’s Boss & Challenging!

26 09 2014

It is said among the writers that one could make a living if one has ten novels in print.
I’ve done research and found writers who have made that work.
Why them and not me?
I will write six novels in the next three years. Each novel will be from 50K – 80K words. So, a half million words in the next three years.
I am outlining three novels right now. I’ll let you know how they are going.

Novel 1: Haunted House Big Box Store
The alienation found in haunted house stories like “The Haunting of Hill House” can also be generated through anomie, or being lost in a crowd. I already have jokes in here. I will be using experiences gained through my part-time job at the Big Box store.

Novel 2: Real Politik Black Satire Fantasy Fiction
Set in the world of “The Mad Earl’s Homecoming”. The main character is an anti-hero who is part Elric and part Blackadder.

Novel 3: “Sour Crude Dead”
A new take on post-apocalypse zombies. The first chapter is done and I hope to sell it as a short story.








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