Borderlands Bootcamp and My Vacation Encounter With Kink

15 04 2021

I am slowly bringing my hopes back up regarding writing, and my first step on this new path is to go on a writers retreat. Throughout the years, I had been told I should attend Odyssey Writers Workshop, One Of The Clarion Workshops, or Taos Toolbox. The cost is prohibitive, sure ($4K, $6K, and who knows respectively), but the reason I did not go to these events is my Depression/Anxiety got in the way. These events are obvious advantages for networking and learning on a professional level.

The Borderlands Bootcamp is run by horror publisher Borderlands Books, managed by longtime horror author Tom Monteleone. He wrote a column for Cemetery Dance magazine a while back and I’ve seen anthologies he edited. The Bootcamp always had pretty big genre names teaching this weekend long session. The session is a series of lectures with breakout sessions where a pro critiques your submission along with others in your breakout group.

The price was right and my ego had been stripped of pretense this past year, so now was the time.

I’m critiquing my fellow breakout group member submissions. Reading strangers’ work is frustrating and also humbling, in that the problems with the work are obvious but also I remember having similar problems when I first started writing. The more experienced writers had problems I could identify with, say a stylish structure that works in theory, but lacks reason using the innovation.

Here are some of the critiques I noted (serial numbers filed off and edited to remove dissembling) which may prove useful to you:

  • The writer is creating a dream. Reminding the reader it is a dream jolts the reader from the dream. Reading attributions like “said” or “asked” jolts the reader. Attach dialogue to physicality for attribution.
  • Invent everything. Create your whole world and immerse us in it. Do not use Real Life names mixed in with invented names. Do not use gods from Real Life religions who are still being worshipped.
  • If you are using flashbacks, give the flashbacks a purpose. Shorten those scenes the reader already has seen, introduce new information in each flashback. Unify the flashback with the plot by giving the flashback a reason to have been prompted (seeing a memento, hearing someone telling a lie, etc.).
  • The story begins when someone does something to being the plot. Remove all world building or reminiscence or prologue.
  • All characters must want something. They must work toward that something. It is best to have the character state what they want. I heard that NK Jemison said there is no shame in making that statement blunt and obvious.
  • A Point Of View is sensation and emotion. What does it feel like to wear the beautiful dress? How does your character feel when wearing it?
  • Every event in a story must have an emotional reaction. Either characters react to it or the POV narrator selects the words to create tone.

I’ll you know how things go at this Bootcamp.

Here’s a little story from my only overseas vacation, Ireland in the mid-’90s. Ireland is a lovely country but overall it is Kentucky with a sexier accent. It is where I had an accidental encounter with someone’s kink.

I was taking a mid-afternoon tour of the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. I followed the tour guide through the brewery, through the tunnels used to port the barrels to the trucks. In the museum, the sundry middle-aged crowd and I looked at the clay pipes used to carry the beer, and the nails driven into the pipes so that porters could drink from the pipes when they passed under. Posters of the Guinness toucan saying “My Goodness! My Guinness!” and such. We eagerly went to the gift shop, as getting Guinness gear was Goal Number One for any Irish vacation.

Once we were looking through the shirts and hats and such, a young woman hissed.

“Why are we here? I’m bored!”

The crowd seemed to part to reveal a couple. A tall man looked down at a young woman saying “Look at this stuff. This stuff is tacky!”

She was maybe five foot two and in her early twenties. Long black hair and dark eyes. She wore a teal velvet catsuit that would have been gauche on a casino floor. My brain seized up when I looked at her attire. How had I not noticed her? I mean she was hawt and fit and just this side of trashy. She stood out even in a crowd of American tourists.

“Who has even heard of this place?”

Silence fell on the crowd.

The guy was Long Island, New York personified. Maybe six foot tall wearing khakis, expensive sneakers, a Ralph Lauren sweater, all in earth tones, with wire rim glasses and a well-groomed receding hairline. He would have fit in at a dentist convention.

He looked at her with a blank helplessness.

I exchanged looks with a black guy wearing a Jameson’s sweatshirt. No one ever hearing about the Guinness brewery? She had to be kidding, right?

She continued berating him. He just looked down at her and took it. Everyone fidgeted in anticipation or confused disgust. I mean, what the hell dude?

She made it clear that she was not enjoying this vacation. That he needed to do something interesting this afternoon.

“She must be good in bed,” I muttered. The black guy raised his eyebrows and shook his head. The group moved on onto the street and went on with their lives.

I don’t remember when I realized this, but now I recognize that the woman was a domme. This guy had paid his domme to come on his vacation so he could be kink-shamed in public.

Looking back, I am annoyed that this dweeb pulled an unsuspecting tour group into his humiliation fantasy. Not cool at all. Let this learn ye! Keep your kinks thoroughly consensual.





Hey I’ve Done Artsy Things! Here’s Some Advice…

2 03 2021
I had Chili with Pancakes. This has placed me in an expansive mood. It could have been A Mistake.

As stated in my bio, I’ve been published professionally and have had a novel be received to some critical acclaim. I’ve produced two movies available on Netflix (DVD only) with a clip appearing on “Americas Funniest Home Videos”. Performed sketch and improv comedy on stage. Lived a life and had some struggles. The struggles include clinical depression and anxiety, which I think I’ll write about more as I become comfortable with sharing.

So! Advice about Art! Heed me!

Go Where No One Else Goes. Try music no one else listens to. Read things no one else is reading. Try an unusual movie. It’s not just being into something “before it was cool”. It means finding ideas, plotting, descriptions, moods, to expand your expression. Conversely, if you’ve seen it before, set it aside or find a personal analog. “Why play in someone else’s sandbox?” says Darryl Schweitzer. You could write a werewolf story, or you can sift and find what scares you about werewolves, then come up with your own creation. Use what is unique to you in your work. I watched way too much TV as a child then became a video producer. Readers say that I sequence action, block characters within space, and do dialogue really well. I owe that to my education outside of writing. What do you do well?

You Are Not The Idea. You are not learning to write to turn this one idea into a story. This idea may be a bad idea. You are learning to write storiesssss. You are on a journey of continual frustration which will never end.

The Best Symbolism Is Accidental. “Go deep for the big fish” says David Lynch. I take that to mean that you can tap into deeper emotion if you work with something personal, even idiosyncratic. Every story an editor ever liked was based on my personal experience. When I tried inventing a story from whole-cloth, the plot had no tension. When I tried forcing a moral onto a story, the characters would be flat. Just write a story.

Embarrass Your Mother. I don’t know who first said “write something that would embarrass your mother” but yes, allow yourself to express something unorthodox. Three things will happen: you will discover many others already expressing that same thing; you will clarify a belief you held; or you will make an ass of yourself. You will discover your vulnerabilities and prejudices and you will survive the embarrassment. Which brings me to…

Love Your Accidents. An accident can take you in unexplored directions. If a person looks at our writing and says “I love how you did this obscure thing”, do not say “what the hell are you talking about?”. Your proper response is “yes, I particularly love that obscure thing and you are ingeniously perceptive for having noticed.” This obscure thing has a whole universe of potential behind it. Explore its possibilities. It is a surprise to you, so it will be a surprise to your audience if you maybe explored the accident further.

Keep Your Editors Close, But Keep Your Beta Readers Closer. We write for ourselves, yes, because otherwise we write mush. But when we send the stories out, choose your publications well. Cultivate a relationship with your favorite publishers. Send to them as frequently as possible. Greet the editors at conventions, remind them that you met, tell them what you liked about their recent editions. Be sincere! Editors deal with liars every day and can sense meaningless flattery. As for beta readers…they are your greatest asset and your greatest vulnerability. I have been working with my writers group for almost 30 years. They may know more about me than my family or my counselor. They have allowed me to be base, dumb, disgusting, hostile, and have coached me into writing stories people enjoy. Be gracious to beta readers! Help them as they help you! Forgetting to mention them in an Acknowledgments may turn into a flame war on File 770.com.

Remember: we are always talking to the phantoms of our expectations.





Writers: Use Your Quirks and There Are Bad Ideas

24 11 2020

Been sick last year and only recently got to reading stuff again. Been noticing writers giving writing advice, and those writers having only like a few short story credits.

This is puzzling because I wouldn’t have had the temerity. Then I realized, hey, I’ve got lots of credits now and a novel that made the 2014 long list for Best Novel in the Stoker Awards.

So okay, maybe I’ve got something to say now. I’ll start with this:

Avoid what everyone else is doing. Lovecraft is now what “Cherry-Flavor” was in the ’90s: it will either be an overpowering flavor punch or not taste anything like the original cherry.

Pastiche? Create your own sandbox. (Granted, this attitude kept me from modeling on older stories, thus learning how to write using that long-accepted method). So, in thinking more about it, use pastiches as templates for your own quirks.

What is a “quirk”?

A quirk is something that affects you, even on an oddly personal level. What creeps you? What scares you? Make the list long. Let me try one:

Airports devoid of people. Only seeing the top of someone’s head behind a shop counter. Crabs, and the evidence that evolution prefers crab physiology. Rot within something otherwise healthy. Prostate or colon disease. Dementia. Not having control of yourself and cruelly rejecting a loved one. Watching a series of tragedies in someone’s life with them not knowing they are all related. Eye injuries. Home invasions (I won’t even watch home invasion movies), THIS FRIGGIN BITCH….

Look at your lists and see if anything is uncommon or even unique. Use your pastiche to add your own dismaying quirk.

Know that you have a story idea and not just a neat visual or a Revelation of Horror. A story idea will have a transformation. A story idea will have a conflict. A story idea will have someone to care about.

Most neat visuals and RoHs are the germ of a story idea. Ask “How did this happen?” Ask “What happens next?” Play with that germ. Add elements of other ideas. Add this idea to other ideas.

Push an idea beyond reasonable boundaries. Where does it become new? Where does it become horrific? When does it become ridiculous?

What would make it tragic? Of all the people you know personally, who would be the worst person to deal with this story idea?

Does the idea now give you a thrill? Write it. Someone will like it.

Can’t make the idea work? You may not be able to write the idea at this time. Or it could be a bad idea.

Something people told me: there is no such thing as a bad idea. YES THERE IS. I’ve had them. Cupid’s cousin and the Quiver of Dysfunctional Relationships is a great one-liner. I tried for years to make it work. It does not. Will it work in another story with other ideas? Been messing with it for almost thirty years, so I don’t think so. You want the idea? Take it, it’s yours.

Something people told me but I did not believe: You are in a lifelong learning process. Even if no one likes this story, it is written and out of your head so new stories can grow. Writing is like a hobby in that it is a lifelong process. Are you better than you were two years ago? Do others appreciate your work more than when you started? Those are the guideposts to use to measure your progress.

I passed my first million words after twenty years of writing, around in 2010. I have to admit that even though I got stuff published before 2010, I didn’t write anything interesting until a few years ago.





NEW VIDEO: The Land Of Mystery

12 03 2020





MY OUIJA BOARD SPEAKS

27 02 2020

Could you give it a thumbs up? It would boost my confidence.

 





Writers: What To Do When The World Sucks? Haruki Murakami says…

2 11 2018

Click here to find out.

haruki





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?

Book-2-Big-Box-Pback





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.

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback

 

 

 

 





“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!

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback





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.

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback








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