While Writing The First Draft of A Horror Masterpiece

14 11 2017

vienna-82647_1280Fucking Austrians with their fucking prancy-dancy minuets.

When the vampire has to get a ride home with the werewolf, who drives? What kind of car?

If Van Helsing was Catholic and Jonathan Harker an Anglican, does than mean the Nicean Creed is right? Would a Mormon with a cross repel a vampire? A Unitarian?

Could Satan postpone the Apocalypse until the heat death of the universe?

People usually keep the accent of their youth. Would a 700 year old still have his original accent?

Is “fumagous” a word?

What does rot really smell like?

If my women characters never talk to each other, do I still pass the Bechdel Test?

Are there disparaging names for “Austrians”?

If he’s a wimp on page one, how can I have him do the Insanely Gross Martial Arts Move within a week?

Is it possible for a neurotic character to have a romance and not be Woody Allen?

Can it still be a paranormal romance parody if there is no sex?

If I insult everybody, is it cultural appropriation?

For the cover, do I go with the comical fishhead in front of the naked woman’s abs, or with a man-fish with naked abs?

 

 

 





I Learned About Self-Publishing From 50 Writers — Launching My Series (A Repost)

2 11 2017

My website URL lapsed and I had to get back online. Here’s the post that everyone missed:

I am launching a three book series in Spring of next year.

The first book has the working title “Lampreyhead”.

 

Sea-lamprey-head-detail

Designing the plush toy giveaways is going to be a challenge.

 

You may see short stories with the character Lampreyhead in my Bibliography page, but these books will not have the frantic Animaniacs energy. There would be no way to sustain that pace over three books at 100K words without burning the audience out.

It will be about vampires, and it will be funny, hopefully intelligent, insightful, and yes a tad gruesome. Think “Clive Barker and Christopher Moore, or maybe Neil Gaiman with a Christian fixation”.

If it makes me happy, I will expand the series. I will be self-publishing, because I lack the hide to deal with agency submissions.

As I proceed with the publication process, I’ll update as to what decisions I’ve made.

For the past two years, I’ve been listening to self-publishing podcasts:

“The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast” with Lindsay Buroker

“The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast” with Simon Whistler

I listened to well over fifty writers give their advice on self-publishing.

What I learned:

  • Have at least three books in your series ready to launch. Release the books one month at a time, then have your next material in the series ready for Month Four.
  • Use simple, all-inclusive publishing solutions. Use someone who will format, publish, and distribute. Adjust and optimize to your market as you learn particulars.
  • In self-publishing, e-books lead print in sales.
  • Have a mailing list ready at the time of publishing. Use a third-party service to gather new fans.
  • The cover art should cost as much as the publishing. Use experienced cover artists who have worked in your genre. If you publish print versions, your book title should be readable from ten feet away.
  • Draft and redraft your blurb. Have others review it. Favor a sympathetic character over action or idea. Use other writers’ as guideposts: “if you like Clive Barker, yet get a laugh out of Christopher Moore…”.
  • For promotion, use story excerpts over reader reviews.
  • The number of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads help, but are not essential to good sales.
  • Provide new material for sale at least once per month per series. Even a short story or excerpts of WIPs will do.
  • Use pseudonyms only to separate family-friendly material from racier series. Otherwise, pen names multiply promotions needing upkeep with no multiplier in reward.
  • The effectiveness of an advertising tool can change weekly. An ad tool’s effectiveness varies widely between genres. The only reliable promotional tool at this moment is the mailing list.
  • On your website, your mailing list prompt should not block the text or stop navigation. I know when a site pops up asking for an email, I get angry and click away from the site. Apparently, I’m not the only one with that reaction. Keep your mailing list prompt to the sidebar.
  • In your books, place your Acknowledgments and Dedication on the last pages; this makes more space for story text in the Amazon “Free Sample”.
  • On the last page, place active links to sales pages for previous publications and your mailing list, followed by “Please leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads” with links.
  • Do not bother with Book Bub until the third book of your series is released, and even then only if sales are noteworthy.
  • Do not bother advertising on Twitter.
  • Set sales price at $2.99 unless the book is 100K words or more.
  • Reduce the price of Book One to .99 when Book Two is released. Do not give away books for free.
  • Do not hesitate to change your book cover if you think it will increase sales.

 

I am most of the way through first draft of Book One. I’ll update you every week as to how things are progressing, and if you’re interested in beta reading, coo. Let me know and I’ll be glad to help you out in whatever way I can.

Let’s have some fun!

 

 

 

 





Look At These Life Lessons! Ed Latimore Is Buckaroo Banzai!

4 10 2017

Latimore

He’s a good writer! “They become the stakes they burn themselves on”! Seriously, somebody give this guy a guitar and an Overthruster.





A Magazine For Fan Fiction

11 05 2017

FAN/FIC is an online magazine for fanfiction readers and writers: essays about fan culture, practical advice on how to improve your craft, interviews with writers, and more.

via FAN/FIC Magazine — Discover





Writers: Your Weird Obsession Will Become Fodder For Future Grad Student Thesis

8 04 2017

“…it’s what happens in the United States when a truly radical ideology takes over.” This is George Romero’s answer to the question of what his film Night of the Living Dead is about. To me, this is a most thoughtful and complete assessment, and perhaps what explains the movie’s enduring success. Of course, on […]

via The Importance of Theme in Horror… and Zombies… and Dogshit — S.E. Casey Author





Writers: Create A Truer Dystopia With Neurotic Cannibals

5 04 2017

The times being what they are, a lot more dystopias have been popping up in media. Lately, I’ve noticed these new dysfunctional societies have these things in common:

  1. Centralized planning, both economic and political
  2. Industrial efficiency valued more than privacy
  3. Poverty
  4. No distractions like sports, art, holidays, contests.
  5. Discrete cannibalism

Maybe it’s just me just cherry-picking, but it’s what I’m noticing. Here’s an example from Pseudopod: “Meat” by Sandra M. Odell.

That this is a short story makes no difference in world building. A word here, a phrase there, adds to the fleshing out (sorry) of the environment and adding to the reader’s ability to relate without detracting from the plot.

For me, a pared-down dystopia is unbelievable.

Consider the archetype for the dystopic story, the novel “1984”. Grungy, war-weary, and soul sucking. Yet it had the very basics of distraction. There was music. There were museums and newpapers. There were viewscreens. All of it was government approved, sure, but it took the proles minds away from their drudgery, and made them more efficient for the long haul.

There were pubs and perhaps illicit drugs. There was a lottery with announced winners (invented prizes for invented winners, but still, a distraction). There was chocolate, weak and smoky in flavor, which makes me assume there were spices, so maybe a culinary culture for homemakers.

Why do I find these distractions important? Without these distractions, the citizens would very quickly go insane.

Now, insanity is a further opportunity for worldbuilding. Cultures have their own, distinct neurosis in response the culture’s environment and social pressures. These neurosis are called “culture-bound syndromes”. We know about amok , a murderous rage found in Indonesia (and source of the term “to run amok”). What of  taijin kyofusho in Japan, which makes a citizen so afraid of making social blunders that he refuses to leave his home? A disorder among the Inuit called piblokto is thought to be caused by both isolation and Vitamin A deficiency. Last, we have the origin of hysteria in Western Europe, first defined as a woman’s disorder which caused emotional excess leading to rebelliousness.

A dystopia would have any one of these, plus oppressive treatments for their removal.

Note in “Meat” that there are “crazy heads” who are condemned to “Processing” and that the protagonist herself has a rather nifty psychosis developing for solid social reasons. Well done there.

I know you’re asking “what about the cannibalism”?

I’m wondering if a reader could still relate to an industrial dystopia where cannibalism is considered a duty. In “Logan’s Run”, killing people off at the age of 30 was sanctified by a supernatural “renewal” ritual. There are primitive societies where eating enemies or the brains of deceased relatives was encouraged, the latter creating a culture bound syndrome (subject of the X-Files episode “Kuru”).  What would it take for your closest city to dig in?

Did “Soylent Green” have side-effects?

What dystopia strikes you as believable? How messed up is it?





It’s “The Battle Royale Office Space In The Woods” With The Belko Experiment

26 03 2017

Have a look at this:

You’d think this movie a twist on the manga and movie “Battle Royale”, and on the surface you’d be correct. Instead of BR’s high school students being kidnapped and stranded on a deserted island, TBE has office workers in South America trapped in their curiously well-fortified office building. Both purposes are for all participants to kill each other until one remains alive.

The movie is written by James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead! Guardians of the Galaxy!) and directed by Greg McLean (aussiesplatter classic Wolf Creek). Actors are mainly from TV, including John McGinley (who always does great villains), the President from “Scandal”, the big guy from “ER”, and a lot of actual South Americans, even though it was shot in NY state though set in Bogota.

In BR, the government selects a class at random each year. In TBE, we are never really told why the voice demands the massacre, except for a vague monologue by a disfigured white guy at the end of the movie.

However, deeper down, TBE owes much more to “The Cabin In The Woods”, Joss Whedons’ satirical ode to American horror tropes. As mentioned, a faceless corporation maintains the high-tech murder site and watches using omnicient security cameras. Both movie feature a pot-smoking slacker who turns the corporate technology against its masters.

What actually happens? Trailer says it all. The tension is evenly paced. Characters are believable, even slightly sympathetic. The cool boss becomes lethally practical, friendships are betrayed, old scores are settled.

What didn’t work? The pothead in “Cabin In The Woods” was sharp and rebellious where TBE’s stoner bordered on hysteria, yet somehow overcomes qualms to literally pick through the remains of his co-workers, and that just did not convince. Also, the director of “Wold Creek” must have wanted some practical effects gore, but the prosthetics here are more ambitious, and the camera lingered too long on skulls looking more deflated than shattered.

Overall, it was a taut, entertaining thought experiment at 1 1/2 hours long. Have a look at it when it hits streaming or cable.








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