Final Book Trailer for “Saints Of Flesh” (w/captions)

18 07 2023

Great Art Insights From Examining AI

11 07 2023

To write and still have your reader relate to it, that’s a challenge. You start with vignetted characters and setting which a reader “knows”, say a dragon-brimming fantasy quasi-Europe or maybe a 1980s American suburb. Then an element is introduced. Or an existing element of the setting is slowly altered. The characters adapt realistically to the alteration. Either the alteration heightens or the characters’ reactions cause greater change. Okey-doke.

Here is a Twitter feed which critiques AI illustration, but in that critique provides a great overview of the creative process. Inisights like this are one of the few reasons I bother with Twitter anymore.

So many great questions spring from this sequence! Had the AI adjusted tone or content, would we have been frightened by those choices? Does the act of vignetting lay the groundwork of the uncanny? (If so, then *any scene* has the potential for becoming Weird.) How many different ways could one lay out these images to tell a story?

Do the limitations of language describing the moment of an experience, create a form of distress? “Distress” may be a poor word choice; I mean to describe the character being in a state of “alteration” as described above, whether it’s Horror, Weird, Comedy, Hallmark Romance, or whatever.

Would the act of using language cause distress in the writer, and could that be conveyed? That brings to mind any meta where “creator” becomes a “character”.

I really like this sequence of images. This poor AI is doing what it’s supposed to, but it’s frightening, yet the AI seemingly lacks the ability to realize the reaction. That brings to mind that Meryl Streep movie about the society dame who gave concerts where she sang, but was so bad at singing her invites became sought-after for their camp value.

Anyway, lots in here to unpack I think.

How To Write A Scene

6 07 2023

What’s New With Me

4 07 2023

Hi! You guys seem to like more personal perspective, so today I’ll mention what I’m working on.

I just finished “Blood In The Pool”, a 1512 word story leaning very heavily on “Bullet To The Brain” by Tobias Wolff. Here’s a link to the Wolff story. You read the word “fascinated” on social media a lot as some passing “oh-lookie” click-bait BS. But I am fascinated by this story. Wolff performs two tone changes in under 2000 words and he sticks the landing. I love all three of the tones, and wish my work to give people all three feelings. I can do an in-depth breakdown of this story if you’d like.

I had done the Weird fiction workshop online from Clarion West. The teacher Ian Munshawer has just had a short story nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. I hope his story wins, because it really does invoke Jackson’s dread. Anyway, I workshopped an old story that everybody seemed to really like “Revenge Of The Son Of The Fly”, a riff on the short story “The Fly” which inspired all those movies. I’m waiting until September for specific markets to open up so I cna submit.

Also, I’m planning on sending out the first chapter of “Saints Of Flesh” as a short story. Again that will go out in September.

I’m working on maybe getting onto some podcasts. Figuring out what to talk about is challenging. My bio will tell you about my unusual upbringing, so there’s that. Talking about getting into horror through comedy is a thing, I guess. I haven’t done enough with sigils to have a lot to discuss. I could be brazenly open about my personal challenges and growth, but that would invite engagement I may not want.

Or I could talk about overthinking.

Noble Fusion is sending ARCs of “Saints” to get blurbs and reviews, and so far there’s encouraging receptivity.

How To Write A Novel Super Fast!

29 06 2023

Usually, How-To-Write-Fast advice is deceptive. If you look close, most advice promising an increased word count avoids factoring in outlining, editing, and proofing. The advice in this article makes it plain right up front: you will be writing total word-splorp that you will have to clean up, but clean-up is faster than struggling to fill a page.

Also, I knew Mary Berman many years ago and knew her to be a responsible, methodical essayist who already had huge word counts. This advice will seem familiar to the experienced, but I plan to revisit it soon.

Isabel Cañas on speed-drafting a novel via Mary Berman’s Substack

Junji Ito: Good Monsters Are Realized, Not Designed

27 06 2023

Tomie was written and illustrated by Junji Ito. Ito was inspired to create Tomie by the phenomenon of lizard tail regeneration.[1] Ito’s initial concept for the manga was to depict the strangeness of a girl who was nonchalantly attending school, but in reality was dead.[2] He further explained that the original concept was that for some reason a dead person would come back to life and visit their former friends as if nothing had happened.[3] As he developed the story, Ito established that the titular character would be a mean-spirited girl because he believed it would be more interesting if the manga featured someone that wasn’t likable.[2]

He noted that the proliferation of Tomie was created while writing a serial storyline, which helped greatly to convey the concept of regeneration.”

from Fandom wiki article for Junji Ito

A New Veracity: How To Make Your Story More “Real”

16 06 2023

Been listening to true supernatural podcasts, “Spooked”, “Radio Rental”, others. “Spooked” seems to get suckered by obvious fictions. “RR” stories less dramatic, but seem more “realistic”. That got me wondering: what makes a “real” ghost story more “real”.

A discerning mind will be suspicious of any testimony conforming to three-beat or Save-The-Cat formulas, certainly. But if I may, there are other narrative aspects that probably raise suspicion, aspects that are often overlooked. Movies and novels have more leeway in avoiding these poorly-used aspects. but in short stories, it should be possible to tweak and make the short stories seem more realistic.

The podcast “Spooked” annoyed me so much that I haven’t listened to the current season. Maybe they’ve improved. They present edited interviews with the event witnesses.

When a story seems fake to me, there’s: 1) a tight timeline (over a weekend; when we moved into a new house), 2) one single POV sees *every supernatural event*, 3) activity escalates from tension to physical menace, especially if escalations are in three beats, 4) all clues point to a simple, traditional answer (my dead uncle, a folk curse, La Llorona).

The interviews sound sincere. Maybe they are. Maybe the events actually happened. But what makes something seem more realistic to me? The “Radio Rental” stories generally has those elements.

The stories on “Radio Rental” also are presented with edited interviews.

The stories seem more real because they: 1) usually take place over months, years (multiple sightings or activities), 2) not just one POV sees everything (some events are described second-hand), 3) use multiple means to address the events (flickering lights examined by multiple electricians and Fire Marshalls), 4) have moments of NOPE (a noise is *not* investigated due to fear), 5) end seemingly unresolved.

I maintain that the best horror could happen without the characters even knowing. Have you seen “Session 9”? Each character experiences their own seemingly mundane events, and the viewer is the only one who knows there is a single force that drives the plot. At the movie’s end, all the characters see is a stressed man on a murder spree.

Does that remind you of a story that you like?

As for the photo, I took that two weeks ago in NYC harbor.

When Social Media Helps Writers

5 06 2023

Sam Comerford on Twitter: “Question: What makes you really hate a protagonist? Like something that really rubs you the wrong way about them? This can be trope-wise or otherwise. I’m just looking for examples.” / Twitter

Twitter is a dumpster fire that’s on its way out. But like Instagram and TikTok, writers post opinions and insights, and ask questions which can give an inkling of when a trope is about to become worn. Dumpster fires can illuminate; just don’t breathe the fumes.

What I Learned At My First Promotional Convention

28 05 2023

There is a difference between wandering around as an attendee and wandering around as a vendor.

I had thought, “I’ve been to a lot of cons by myself! Three WorldCons! Countless PhilCons, BaltiCons, ConClaves, and ConQuests! I can sell my books at a con by myself!”

Au Contraire, Amigos!

My way of going to a con solo is to wander around aimlessly, attend a few panel discussions and readings, have a dinner, and leave early.

As a vendor, I could do none of these things. I stared at my vendor table. Every other table was heaped high with books and geegaws to sell. I had a skull-patterned tablecloth cut at Michaels not 24 hours before.

(similar to this, but no flowers. And in gold and black. And more crowded. This had skulls, okay?

And a poster of the new “Saints of Flesh” cover.

And a matted print of the vivid yantra by my friend Rachael.

And I remembered that at every con, in every vendor room, there seemed to be one guy with a sparse, if not sullen table, seemingly unprepared. A newbie who exuded an aura like that of a hiding deer.

There I was.

I spoke with my neighboring vendors. Was introduced to friends of theirs. Spoke with a few passersby. Accepted compliments on all the art, even the skull tablecloth.

Within two hours my tank was empty. My head ached. My stomach now percolated from the rather good Breakfast Cuban I had at a nearby Iron Rooster. I packed up and fled. Napped for two hours.


In the past, I would have berated myself viciously for not sticking it out and forcing my charisma on any and all. Now, looking at the long picture, I realized that going solo is not playing to my strengths. I have never been a Top Banana, but always a Second Banana. I am not a Face or a Hannibal Smith, but a Mad Dog Murdoch. And that’s okay.

It was worth the money and time to discover this. I emailed my publisher explaining this and she quite understood, even though I left out the A-Team.

I did attend a reading that hopefully I will recall more clearly later this week, where a writer brought up a resounding point. To connect with readers, authors must be authentic. But the internet is a pit of rabid badgers. No matter what you declare, someone will pick a fight. An author might as well be honest.

So! Any experience can be like an experiment. I did not get the result I wanted, but I did learn from the result I got.

My reading had been at 6PM on Friday. As I expected there were only five people, what with no name recognition between myself and the other author, and the barely-past-rush hour time. But my reading went well. I recorded it and will be posting it soon. I also met a few very cool people, who I will be linking to in this coming week.

All this said, I got my schedule from StokerCon. My scheduled reading: Saturday at 1PM. A great time! I would be sharing the hour with three other authors, but some authors with more name recognition were in the same bind in other time slots. Then I saw this reading would be opposite the reading of the Guests of Honor. That, and I would be doing this alone.

At first, I thought, “Ah I’ll be networking and schmoozing all weekend! And it’s all paid for already!” I looked in my account and saw, no, I hadn’t yet been charged for my ticket. Or my hotel room. Urgh. I had less money than I thought….

Recent developments revealed that no, I probably would not be networking and schmoozing, but rather netslipping and receding. I cancelled my StokerCon ticket.

Maybe in a few years I will build myself up to the bon vivant I had thought myself to be. In the meantime, I will keep myself to the familiar cons crowded with my friends.

Dozens of Readers Braving “The Flesh Sutra”

2 05 2023

I’m still trying to establish a work rhythm, and I’m sorry this update is late. But sales of “The Flesh Sutra” had ranked it in the 800’s in Amazon’s Horror Fiction sales. It’s back down again, but we’re establishing a small business here, and business has ebbs and flows. What else is going on?

A wonderful artist and friend Rachael Mayo is working on a yantra appropriate for Alecsi and Olivia’s mysticism. She loves making dragons, but I chose her because her eye for color is so startling and innovative. Look at this color work!

If anyone could make the disturbing, compelling, soul-straining yantras, it’s Rachael. Check out her tumblr just to wake up your eyes.

What else? I’m editing two videos; one for the reading salon Galactic Philadelphia (I’ve edited all their videos), the other is the aforementioned interview with Sally Weiner Grotta.

I use Final Cut Pro on a Macbook Pro, but lately Final Cut is proving to be a lot more than I need. I’m test driving ClipChamp off of Windows 11, and I’ll let you know how that works out.

My new job is doing very well. I work at a supermarket for more than I was making after nine years at a big box tech store. The scheduling is more flexible so the conventions I need to do will not interfere. Stocking shelves and lifting grocery bags make me buff. My coworkers are my age or younger, and their good nature and ambitions remind me the future is in good hands.

Still figuring out how to make best use of TikTok and Twitter. I’ve bought books based on posts. The trick is to come up with promotions that are both effective and comfortable.

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