Famous Writing Advice With My Addendums

21 06 2016

Write what you know. Your life is a great place to start. You have something you are doing that no one else knows about, like a job or location or life challenge. Start there.

Write what you know. Be sure to talk to lots of people so you know more.

Write what you know. So write about monsters you invent, because who’s going to argue?

Monsters shouldn’t glitter unless they kill people with glitter.

Write things that would embarass your mother. This may not work if your mom likes the Kardashians. If your mother has no shame, try for “dismay” or “repulse”.

The best subtext is unintentional. That is, if you write to convey a message, that message will consume everything — characters, plot, and eventually your ability to interest others. Those you wish to persuade will dismiss you for preaching and those who agree with you will think you’re a dilletente and ignore you. Write your story. If you realize, hey, this story is awkward and makes me look nuts, then work with that. Embrace it. There is a market filled with people who are also awkward and nuts.

Remove as much as possible from your story, especially if you’ve seen it before in other stories. That goes double if you are writing a pastiche or a monster that’s been done.

Writing is not theraputic. Speaking with a cleric, health professional, or mature friend is theraputic. Writing can improve you the writer if you write with the idea that you the writer are wrong and have been for many years. That is “cathartic”. You may have a really good story when you’re done, too.

If you wish to inspire with your writing, make sure your conflicts and antogonist are treated with respect.

Everyone disagrees. Even twins disagree. In theory, clones raised in identical circumstances would disagree. Your character has to do impress you and also make you facepalm.

Even locations have character arcs. Game of Thrones wouldn’t have worked in a thriving, newly born empire. If Salem’s Lot had been a vitalized town filling with immigrants or yuppies, Barlow would have been burned before his antique store opened.

 





George Clooney Must Play MODOK!

17 06 2016

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“>George Clooney Must Play MODOK!

Sign the petition!

 





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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Story Ideas: The Drifting Dead, 100% Efficient Solar, and Alien In Fishtank

1 03 2016

Last seen in Spain, the captain died then drifted from the Atlantic to the Philippines over seven years. Click his salt-cured mummy to learn more.

mummified-captain-ghost-ship

 

Moths eyes helped “boost the light absorption capability of graphene sheets from a mere 2 to 3 percent, to a whopping 95 percent.”

 

“…in there 2 years before I noticed, and only noticed because I had whole coral colonies missing after a single evening.” This species survived five extinction-level cataclysms. It has skin like fiberglass, eats the world’s hardest organic substances, and can grow to over six feet in length. They are often found living in home fishtanks.

Coral worm

 





In Time For Valentine’s Day!

4 02 2016

It’ll make you appreciate why you’re single, or appreciate your sane and safe sweetheart even more. Click and read this preview to gain this adoration.

 

Light Text - High Resolution

 





Ever Have A Dream That Stayed? What’s In You Is Far More Compelling

28 01 2016

Occult and Outsider Imagery – have a look.

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Ever have a dream that made you wake up in a cold sweat? I did once when I was seven. The dream was a melange of Hanna-Barbara cartoons, featuring a waist-up shot of a middle-aged hillbilly woman who had begun to fade to leave the generic wooden shack background. She laughed a deep, cartoony laugh and was joined by other stereotypical rustics laughing unseen. The graphic came up: “Ghoul Gals”. I sat up in bed for the only time in my life, my skin chilled and wet.

A spot of potato? More of the gravy than the grave? Even if dyspepsia inspired the discomfort that made the dream, why that dream? More to the point, what in that dream could be conveyed to others?

You are a consciousness in a body within a society extended by technology. So is everyone else. The fonts and images in your mind will connect with others. Expertise polishes your message until it shines through preconceptions and shows your true, intended meaning. Sometimes, that means seeing your own preconceptions.

Why villains? Why vampires or werewolves? Aliens? Ghosts? Why not rustic Ghoul Gals living in a cartoon?

Okay, to make money, sure. I’ll write those things if I have a neat idea that’ll sell. Or for you, maybe those ideas have a more resounding effect than for most people. What is it that resounds? What does it feel like? What behavior went uncanny?

Have you had a dream that stayed with you?

 





Inventing Your Own Hell

7 01 2016

Dante saw Hell as punishment for misdirected passion. Those who loved a behavior more than they loved God got an ironic end.

Dante knew if you are need some unique take on damnation, the obvious isn’t most interesting Hell.

I’ve had Inferno on my reading list for a long time, but I have a hard time getting into it. Dante didn’t mean it as a literal map of damnation, I know. Yet through the circles freezing, fiery, and fecal, teeming with billions of wicked souls, to find Satan gnawing at Brutus as one of the Three Most Evil Men Ever is quite a letdown.

The language is beautiful, though.

Considering this question about creating a Hell for some fiction, I learned a bit about where our passion has gone in the last century.

Our ideas of Hell have been tsunamis of desire. Hell is what happens when you get everything you want beyond any concept of health.

Clive Barker designed a Hell for Materialists. Dominated by an infinite maze, ruled by inscrutable sentient pyramid Lord Leviathan, his Hell is populated by the Cenobites who exist only to either create the art of pain, or wage eternal war on flesh (depending on the story). In “The Hellbound Heart” and in the several dozen “Hellraiser” movies, there is no Heaven, only safety by avoiding the louche and grotesque. There is no Eucharist, only milquetoast (SWIDT? “Bartlett’s” here I come!).

Very similar is Lovecraft’s original vision of the universe, where salvation means remaining comfortable in your New England cottage ignoring your desire for knowledge. Hell for Lovecraft meant being dragged helpless into fathomless depths, whether it’s as a brain canister to the planet Yuggoth, an unknown fate in the undersea of the Deep Ones, or a slave in the underground land of dream. He created a Hell for Skeptics, in that not only is all human science wrong, humans don’t even have the brainpower to understand.
(I ignore any addition to the Cthulhu Mythos beyond Lovecraft. Robert Howard wanted to create epics and C.A. Smith wanted passion plays.)

The 1970s presented Hell as gauche. A dinner party with your extended family gone stale but with Latin Rites on the stereo. It’s eternity with the Castavets of “Rosemary’s Baby”, or in stuck in the jerkwater burg of Malas in “The Devil’s Rain”, or locked in the brownstone of “The Sentinel.” The only crimes ever mentioned as damning a character were murder, suicide, and flat-out Satan Worship. The good believer was sucked into the abyss by being possessed or sacrificed after dabbling with Ouija boards or having the wrong bloodline. This was Hell if you Took Your Thing Too Far, Man.

This is where our culture has left us. Hell is now for jerks who can’t get along. Want your family to stop growing apart? Go to “Krampus” Hell where its Christmas morning for eternity. Can’t stomach self-sacrifice? Stay in Revelation era L.A. like “This Is The End”.

But what about the Hell your story needs?

What could Hell for Positivists be like? Frenzied, eternal stimulation and exhaustion? Unsurpassed bliss, but alone, always alone? Would there be Circles, like the First being for those who post mindless platitudes on Facebook, and the punishment being listening to that friend whose nice but really down for all eternity?

For Pessimists, Hell would be uncertainty in cause and effect. Being in the wrong place or time and seeing opportunities flit just out of reach. Lost in a roiling sea of millions of other souls, none of whom believe what you’ve seen. Hmm, Hell for Pessimists is Life.

Hell for Stoics could be like Samuel Beckett’s “Play” (Have a look. It’s brief and stars Alan Rickman). All ruminate privately over their gravest sins over and over, without expression, until emotions are ground to dust. It’s a Hell that every stage actor has faced, and is also quite British in its way.

In the comic series “Swamp Thing”, the evil magician Arcane is sent to Hell, where he is told Hell wouldn’t exist if people didn’t believe in it. For writer Alan Moore, Hell must be like this.
(Watch all the way through. More poignant than funny.)

One human’s Heaven is another’s Hell. Example: The Mormons allegedly believe that once a worshiper dies, that worshiper gets a planet to rule as a god. Meanwhile, countless souls would have to live on a planet designed by Donny Osmond.

How many sandwiches are being made by damned Feminists for blessed MRAs?

Anyway. Hell has to be that ironic sting.

Hell for Ferenghi may include toil and the gloating of those with better lobes, but watching their descendants lose. For Time Lords, Hell may be like a conscious one-dimensional fixed point in time and space, watching everything pass by.

I wrote up a race of intelligent gas bubbles. That race lived chemical reactions in a DNA laden gas within a membrane. Once popped, a bubble’s gas needed to be absorbed by another bubble to “live on.” Their passion would be toward creating the safest, most stimulating life for themselves and their progeny-foam with NO-SHARP OBJECTS. Hell would be some primordial soup with a gooey, lethal surface tension, filled with lost souls.

Sometime, maybe I’ll discuss why a theology is the second step toward creating an alien race.

We deserve better Hell than some spiteful gnawing. Create a better one for your world.





Who Else Has This Problem Creating Things? Do You?

16 12 2015

I am very excited about the novel I’m working on.

Except that the protag’s life is an unceasing grind of being pursued by unknowable paranormal forces. Who have killed off his family and kill off his friends. And made him an itinerant, depressive alcoholic. In a near-future US struggling to recover from multiple disasters and reshaped laws of physics. And a city about to be overwhelmed a la “Salem’s Lot”. Which will kill all the other supporting characters. During which he discovers proof-positive of something akin to God, which has been watching all this time and doing nothing.

Have you worked on anything that was like claws across your heart? What was it?





Visit My New “To Purchase” Page

8 10 2015

Which includes small press anthologies and my novel “The Flesh Sutra”, which made the preliminary ballot for this year’s Stoker Awards.





This Is BOSS! Short movie: “Anthophobia”

16 09 2015







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