Monday, May 30, 2011

On Reading Plays

Today, we continue our discussion of artistic mediums.

I usually only read reviews of my work in two instances:

1. If it's posted on a review blog or another writers' site.

2. If it's on a seller site: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc... That's where the money comes from, so I have to be sure they're all on the up-and-up.

But a review of When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha from a site I don't need to check got caught in my Google Alerts and I checked it without thinking, and I got unnecessarily infuriated, which is why I don't check reader reviews. No offense.

The thing is, it wasn't a negative review. I don't respond to reviews, of course (wait, what am I doing here?), but it really got me thinking. I decided that this is an opportunity to talk about an interesting subject, and I'm not really truly arguing against the review.
Wow, what a preamble! I've found that my blog posts are like episodes of The Simpsons. About a third of the show is an almost totally separate plot that's just a setup for the rest of the show. Aaaaanyway...

My problem with the review was that I lost points because When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha would have been better as a prose fiction piece than a play. I think that's actually a pretty good reason to deduct points from something. If a person obviously would have preferred to be making a film rather than writing a book, then it's not going to live up to the medium as well as it could. Another good example is Raymond Carver's poem "Lemonade." The thing is a terrible poem because it's just a short story with line breaks. Line breaks are literally the only thing that makes it a poem. It has a completely linear plot and narrative with DIALOGUE. I've read plenty of prose poems that I have no problem calling poems. "Lemonade" is just a typical Raymond Carver story.

But examples of this weren't given against my play, because the argument wasn't really that points should be deducted because When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha was written in the wrong genre, but rather because the gentleman didn't like reading plays.

Well that's not my fault. It's clearly labeled as a play on the cover and in the description. And plays are a valid genre.

To clarify, for the rest of this article I'm going to use "genre" in the academic sense, where the 3 genres are fiction, poetry and plays. Plays are interesting because--from my perspective as only a writer--they are in the same medium as my fiction. However, I think it's fair to call their true form of a different medium, as what I produce is only the script for the true work that also has contributions from the director, the actors, and many others.

Anyway, yeah, reading a play isn't necessarily the ideal way to experience it. It does take more work than fiction to read. It's less immersive. The formatting can draw you out. You have to remember what the stage looks like, because it's only stated once or as necessary, and not to remind the reader. And the description is usually sparse, because the writer only wants to put down what's essential to his story. The rest can and should be left to others. So it's not an ideal experience, because what you're reading isn't really the play itself, but the script for the play. I know that sounds like splitting hairs, but it's not.
Uh huh...
When you go into reading a play, you should go in with that understanding. It can perfectly fulfill the requirements of its genre and still not be an ideal reading experience. In fact, it's almost impossible that it will be. The good news is that the more plays you read, the more you get used to and able to ignore the drawbacks.

So why read plays? Why not just watch them?

If you want to keep up with what's going on in theater today, unless you live in a big theater city like Cleveland or NYC, you're gonna have to read them. College drama programs put on classics, which is cool. The big play houses that are big dressy events play safe things that won't offend your stuffy aunt. And they're usually classics, too. But if you want to know about what's going on today, you probably need to read.

And what's going on today is pretty awesome. Theater is almost totally self-supporting. That's not quite as bad as with fiction writers who try the same thing. Behind every fiction writer are a few books, but there are a ton of people involved in every play. The pyramid is inverted. So the rest of the theater people in town come to support their friends and spy on their enemies, and family comes, and so you've got butts in the seats and you've got a cool community.

What this also allows for are artists who create for an audience that is very, very educated in the medium. They have to push the envelope. They have to surprise each other. They get to do the wildest things they can think of.

It's pretty freaking awesome.

But, you'll probably only get to enjoy the script.

One good sampler platter is Funny, Strange, Provocative: Seven Plays from Clubbed Thumb. It contains the awesome Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) by Sheila Callaghan.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The NEW! IMPROVED! ENHANCED! Interactive Book

I took note of an article that I think Teleread linked to a couple of months back. I planned to blog about it. That day has come. I thought I bookmarked it, but can't find the bookmark. So I go to Teleread to do a search on it. Well, regardless of the browser I use, their website somehow gets rid of the side scroll bar, and disables my touchpad's ability to scroll. The advanced search function also doesn't do anything I ask of it. Because I'm incredibly stubborn, I've been banging my head against their website for about an hour.

So I'm in a real good mood.

I'll give you the gist of the article: authors need to be taking advantage of the new, interactive possibilities of ebooks. Imbedding videos. Having readers examine crime scene photos. Having ghosts pop out at the scary parts, I don't know.

Luckily, most authors aren't interested in doing this.

Fiction works through immersion. Amazon knows this. When they described what their goal was with the Kindle, it was to allow the reader to forget she was reading on a Kindle. Maintaining this sort of dream-like state is essential to enjoying fiction, and as I've gotten older, I've found that fewer and fewer books are capable of pulling me in this way for any length of time. So for me, every time I'm asked to click a video button, every time I'm prompted to listen to an audio clip, I would be pulled out of the story and have to work to get back in. It would be a bit like trying to enjoy what you're reading while someone stands over you and whacks you with a yardstick at random intervals.

That's a drawback of the medium of the interactive ebook. Because what we're talking about is a different medium from prose fiction. There would be benefits, and as artists explored and refined the medium, those benefits would be discovered and fully realized. So I'm no fuddy-duddy. I believe it's possible to create a great interactive book. But the author of this goddamn article I can't goddamn find believed that all ebooks should take advantage of the capabilities of the computers they're read on, be that on a laptop, a tablet or a dedicated e-reader.

The position reminds me of the state of the video game industry in the late 90s. With the CD drive of the Playstation, Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid were able to include incredible pre-rendered cut scenes. They were mindblowing, but we soon discovered that they were incredible as a novelty. Long, unskippable cut scenes began to invade all sorts of video games, and many people realized that they just wanted to play the game. A good story can improve a video game, but a video game can reach the pinnacle of its medium without any story at all because gameplay is the only absolute essential to a good video game, and the rest is secondary. Ms. Pac-Man is still one of my favorite games of all time.
Sooooo sexy!

Not too long ago I was asked why I don't like Final Fantasy games anymore. I replied that it's because I like to play video games, not read them or watch them. There are people who enjoy reading video games, and I'm glad there are games out there for them, but I'm also glad that I can avoid those games. I remember hearing that there was like a 30 minute long, unskippable cutscene in one of the Metal Gear sequels.

So honestly, I hope that someone very creative writes? directs? codes? a great interactive e-book that blows all our minds the same way the multimedia beasts of late 90s video games did. I'll check it out when it happens. But I'll be sticking with my prose books, too.

*It's tomorrow. Teleread is loading better but the search function still isn't helping me and I'm tired of looking for it.

I don't mind waking up to no sales quite so much when I can also wake up to reviews like the one Grayson just posted at her blog.

"The bleakness and grit punch through the page" is my fav line. Grayson recently sold her first story, and a pro-sale at that, which is now also good for me. Keep it up and soon you'll be famous enough I can slap some of this on the book cover! Yes, I like to exploit friendly relationships!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Featured Cover Artist: Max Rambaldi

When I was trying to figure out the cover art for When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha, my options basically boiled down to a concept I'd given my graphic designer, Wendy McBride, and a piece I found on Deviant Art by an artist named Max Rambaldi from Padua, Italy. I contacted Max, and she was super quick to respond and very cool. I ended up loving the original piece that Wendy made for me, and it fits the story better, but you should check out the art I almost got for the cover:

Somebody needs to use this! If I write another Cthulhu mythos romance before someone else snags it, I'm definitely going to buy exclusive book cover rights from Max.

Her other work is fantastic, too. It's got so much personality and style. Check it out on her Facebook page.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Collection Vs. Anthology

This is a public service announcement. I don't think the writers who regularly read my blog need this explained to them, but I feel like saying it anyway:

A short story anthology is a book of stories by multiple writers. Like a literary magazine or journal, but big (and bold and brassy).

A short story collection is a book of stories by one author. Well, a book of stories by one author is always a collection, but a collection can be a book of stories by multiple authors, just because "story collection" contains the more specific concept of "anthology," but not the other way around (like all squares are parallelograms but not all parallelograms are squares, all anthologies are collections, but not all collections are anthologies). However, of all the anthologies I own, very few are described only using the term collection, though some are described using both terms.

So a collection is by one author; an anthology is by several.

Depending on the dictionary you check, you might find one that says, down the list, that an anthology can be a collection by one author. This may be technically correct, but it's always down the list and it's never used that way in the literary community. So don't use it that way.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Burden Kansas vs. Burden, Kansas

I'm working on the sequel to Burden Kansas, tentatively entitled Prairie Leeches, which was the title of the short story that grew to become Burden Kansas. I'm not exactly sure how long this one will be. I'd love for it to be around 60k+ words so that I can comfortably call it a novel instead of a novella. If you've already read Burden Kansas, then you can guess who the protagonist is this time around. Luckily, though she's been sobered by the events in the previous novella, she's still a bit more talkative than Keith. I refuse to pad, so the minimalism of Keith's sections, combined with total exteriority of the voice in his sections, combined with the fact that actual conversation was basically impossible when his typical reply to being spoken to was staring blankly, all added up to a novella. Burden Kansas was 34k. I won't pad Prairie Leeches, but it may make it to 60k on its own just based on the fact that the protagonist is willing to occasionally speak.

Prairie Leeches starts in the same countryside surrounding the same little, unnamed Kansas farm town. I'm sure some people think I just forgot to put a comma in the title, but the "Burden" in Burden Kansas is a verb. Specifically it has to do with the pressure the vampire migration is causing on a rural community already stressed and stretched to the breaking point, but it's also got to do with Keith's past sins, and with the horrible things the presence of the vampires are causing people to do.


I grew up a few miles outside of a town called Burden, Kansas. I didn't go to school there, and although it was the nearest town, I didn't go there often or know anyone there. I've never felt comfortable in Burden.

Why did I hint at one of the inspirations in the title but not actually name the town in my book Burden? Well, because the town in my book isn't exactly Burden. It's got parts of Burden, parts of the nearby town Atlanta, Kansas, which I knew better because my grandparents live there, and parts just from my imagination.

It does have a stoplight at the gas-station intersection.

When the environment is an important part of the story, I like to work with real places. For me, it's easier and it makes my work more authentic. But I didn't want to have to worry about accuracy, especially if I needed my small town to have a feature that Burden, Kansas doesn't have.

So once again, I get to constantly refer to a town and a county without names and try to make it seem natural.

Psalm 32 was also an inspiration for Burden Kansas. I just searched for "burden of sin", already knowing it was one of my themes, and found several sermons about this passage of the Bible that perfectly matched ideas I was trying to convey. I wasn't able to justify including it in its entirety in such a small book, but here it is:

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Oh wow, remember how I said I like to end a long post with a treat? That treat was a Bible verse Whaaaaaat?!?!?!

Okay, so here's another treat: a Lazy Town/Lil Jon mashup. It's very offensive.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Perspective of a Community

One of the interesting choices Fingerman made with Pariah was to give it a jumping limited third perspective. In a not-so-smart book, a similar effect is often just the laziness of a person who doesn't read but watches movies and television. They simply write the camera's perspective. Dan Brown did this in The DaVince Code. But his wasn't really a limited third jumping perspective, and it wasn't an omniscient third, it was the perspective occasionally just becoming a movie camera. It once followed an item down a sewer that none of the characters could see, but the narrator wasn't an intelligent narrator, rather a movie camera.

Folks, novels aren't something you write because you don't have the knowledge or funds to be a film maker. If you want to make a film, then do it.

(Quick aside: if you love Templar conspiracy, read Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Ecco. It's the ultimate, incorporating basically all of history.)

So why did Fingerman used a technique which has a close cousin that is often associated with bad writing? Community.

As I said in the review post of Pariah, significant portions of it have a novel-in-stories feel to them. So what is the difference between a novel-in-stories and a story collection? The novel-in-stories has some level of unity. In Pariah, there's a unity of community. I know, it rhymes! Fingerman examines a community that's under extreme pressure, so the community itself becomes more important than any single character (well... for about half the book).

Another book that uses this technique is Salem's Lot by Stephen King. That dude lets the perspective jump from character to character a paragraph at a time. But with purpose. He's trying to portray an entire community under attack inside of a normal-length novel. He could have done it chapter by chapter if he had been writing his 1000+ page paper-cubes at the time, which is basically what he did with the unedited version of The Stand.

Another example is Trailer Park by Russell Banks. This is another novel-in-stories, with two heavily themed novellas bookending less-themed short stories all about a trailer park in New Hampshire. The difference here is that the narrator has omniscience and a personality, something rarely done these days. It was my feeling by the end of the book that the narrator was almost like voice of the trailer park, because while sometimes it remained above the fracas, other times it didn't feel impartial. There's a lot of frackin' fracas in this book. It's really good.

There are other reasons. I guess the main thing is to know that you should probably have a reason for this sort of perspective. Portraying a community is one. Morgan Gallagher described another reason when I interviewed her about The Changeling.

So there you go.

I like to give my readers a treat if they've stuck with me for this far into an post. Have you noticed that?

I love Weird Al. But I'll tell you what, there's a new generation of comedy songsters who are creating crazy good music. For instance, the recently posted Roll a D6. Between Flight of the Conchords, The Lonely Island, and Flynt Flossy (aka Charlie Murphy), I barely need to find new "real" music. I can appreciate the cleverness of these songs instead of having to block out the cliched, overwrought emotional lyrics. A lot of people know "Smang It," but this video is amazing:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pariah by Bob Fingerman

I just finished Pariah by Bob Fingerman. If you like zombies, you need to read this. It will claw its way up your list of favorites.

While zombies were declared the next vampires, you couldn't tell it by looking to novels. The zombie is a bit of a tough creature to write a novel about, I guess. Lots of short fiction. And if you ask what people's favorite zombie novels are, you're likely to get a list that isn't exactly high quality. There is one writer specifically whose high level of success I can only credit with his being the only person writing full-length zombie fiction when the trend hit, because his work is cliched and grating.

Pariah isn't a traditional novel, though. It's got a bit of the feel of the novel-in-stories. On the scale, it leans further towards novel, but especially when dealing with the backstories of the main characters, you get chapters which easily stand alone.

Pariah is about a group of people trapped in a fortified apartment block in NYC. Pretty standard. Going further into the standard, you've got the cast of characters: the artist, the alpha jock, the beta jock, the loner black guy, the cantankerous old couple... What's amazing is the way that Fingerman takes advantage of the slower pace that the genre allows and goes into the characters and looks at why they are how they are, and it's pure gold. They are fully realized and the emotional impact of that is what sets this novel apart. You care when someone dies, even though in another work, the character would simply be a placeholder for a kill scene. It's obvious that he very consciously took a zombie cliche and in the post-modern tradition decided to both use and deconstruct it. It's got all the elements of a yaaaaawn ho-hum standard zombie flick, but as Mike Mignola says, Fingerman has written The thinking man’s zombie novel.”

And seriously, he knocked it out of the park.

And for those who are thinking, "oh great, a slow character examination," at about the halfway point he tosses in an element that shakes things up dramatically and had me turning pages in a way that few books have. But he never cheats to give the reader all the answers (which is one way he cranks up the tension). There's no scientist stuck in the building, and there are no convenient news broadcasts. Because of the scarcity of answers, the bits that Fingerman dangles in front of you become manna to a starving man.

He does something else very interesting. His perspective wanders. But that's for tomorrow.

I thought that maybe I was the only person who feels the way I do about Gladiator, but check this out:

"Gladiator opens with a rag-tag bunch of Germanic peasants preparing to fight the Romans, who are trying to invade their ancestral land. It's like a scene out of Braveheart: The plucky locals are powered only by their axes and patriotism, while their imperialistic enemy uses armor, phalanxes, disciplined formations and a whole bunch of shit that's on fire. Go underdogs!

Problem is, the viewers in this scene are supposed to be rooting for the Romans, led by Russell Crowe. The Roman emperor watching the battle is also meant to be a good guy. What's a movie to do?

Quick, give them a dog!"

Glad I got my opinion out there a bit before this dropped. Like I said, I like the movie. The cinematography is amazing and it's very entertaining. But I was just like, "Fuck that dude!" Apparently Hollywood anticipated my response. Gladiator comes up several more times throughout the article.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Beef with the Meat Grinder

I just formatted and submitted When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha to Smashwords for the third time. I am getting––frustrated. So let’s talk this out.

First, let me say that I think that Smashwords is great, and I think they’ve done a lot for the indie author in this changing publishing landscape. Smashwords makes it very easy to get an ebook into a lot of retailers that are otherwise difficult or impossible to get into as an indie, including Kobo, Sony and iBooks. And I think that the company acts as an advocate for the indie whenever possible.

from Yes I know my title says "beef" and this clearly says
"pork." That's just one more reason why it's so fucking funny.
And I also think the Meat Grinder is kind of great. The Meat Grinder is the loving term given to the chained e-beast that smashwords uses to chew up .doc files and s[p]it out everything else, including epub, mobi, html, pdf, etc...  Not every writer knows HTML, and I don’t think they should have to. It’s a super useful thing to know. It’s easy and––between my blog, forums and my ebooks––it comes in handy every day. But someone could say the same thing to me about desktop publishing programs and Photoshop, and yet I have no interest in learning those things right now.

(If you do want to learn the basics of HTML, Head Start HTML will give you more than enough for formatting ebooks.)

So the Meat Grinder helps ensure that writers don’t get taken advantage of. If writers could only choose between leaning html to format their books and paying someone to do it for them, the people who provided that latter service would be able to charge a lot more. As it is, as long as a writer keeps a simple manuscript, they can just upload it into the meatgrinder and get every format they need. It might not be the prettiest, but it’ll be satisfactory. At least with fiction.

A stage play is a different story. A play has certain formatting requirements, especially because the Kindle has a small screen. I think that the small screen and the inability to choose where the page breaks necessitates the use of the UK play format. It’s a bit more complicated than the US format, but it’s more space efficient. If you’re going to print your play, it saves paper. It also ensures that on a reflowable, small screen like the Kindle the character’s name always appears with at least the first line of their dialog.

Wow, that’s a lot of setup for this:

I think Smashwords should also allow at least the uploading of html, and preferably also the uploading of mobi and epub files.

Both mobi and epubs are built from html. So if you wrote the html directly, you’ve got a really good idea of what those files will look like. If I could upload the mobi and epub, I’d know exactly what they would look like because I could test them before uploading them. Instead, what is happening is that I’ve got this .doc file, which is incredibly stupid and bloated (I prefer openoffice, but even that is pretty stupid bloated since everyone complains about needing every feature Microsoft offers). It then gets converted by some mysterious process that I can’t see into HTML and then to epub and mobi which usually work surprisingly well.

But even if I weren’t dealing with a play, I’d just rather not hope and guess. I’d rather know what my file is going to look like before I upload it. Instead, I’m just uploading every other day and crossing my fingers.


I haven’t played D&D since THAC0 went out of style. I got the 3rd edition but never played it. I have to ask why you'd represent tabletop roleplaying with the only dice commonly used in mainstream games. Maybe D20 doesn't have the same rhyming possibilities. And so shouldn't they be playing Shadowrun, which only used D6s? Still, this video is a hoot and a half and the song is actually pretty awesome.

My People - When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha

The list on this one is short, which is fitting because the piece is short, a one-act play.

I love this cover. It's got just a bit of the Alan Ryker brand to it, with the texture and the typography, but it also screams "play." And it's so striking.

This cover is a first for me: an original work, commissioned of Wendy McBride. I typically pay for the rights to a piece I find on Deviant Art and then Wendy turns it into a cover for me. But this one is from scratch, and I love it.

Let's be honest: my covers kick ass. You should contact Wendy about doing one for you. mcbride.wendy at that thar gmail.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha

I'm very excited to announce the release of my stage play, When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha. It's definitely one of my favorite things that I've written. I'm a big fan of cosmic horror, and it's very faithful to Lovecraftian mythos, especially for a domestic comedy. But at readings, people said they enjoyed it even when they didn't know anything about Lovecraft, or even horror.

For $0.99, I hope you'll give it a try.

Da blurb:

He's an academic; she's an artist.

He worships Cthulhu, the slumbering behemoth; she worships Atlach-Nacha, the spider goddess of dreams.

Their interfaith marriage is challenging enough before the gods themselves arise and do battle. Can this couple hold their relationship together during the end of times?

Through the use of both horror and domestic comedy, When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha examines the audacity and beauty of declaring a permanent relationship in a chaotic world.

When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha is a one-act play with a run time of just under one hour.

Buy When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha at:

Caveat about Smashwords: the mobi file has weird indentation. My guess is that the epub does, too. I think I know what's causing it, so it should be fixed by the end of the week. The other formats look fine, though. It all would if they'd give us the option of uploading html.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Above is pictured the Alphasmart 3000. It is a strange little device with a fanatical following.

I bought mine a couple of years before the emergence of the netbook and before the bargain era of $400 laptops. I wanted to write on the go, and as far as first drafts go, it fulfills that purpose amazingly well. So let me describe it to you:

It's a usb keyboard with battery power and a 4-line calculator-type screen. It can hold about 100 pages of text. It starts up from where you left off in something like 1 second. It weighs somewhere under 2 pounds. It was built for gradeschool kids to pound on in the absence of computers, so it's incredibly tough. If you type on it for a few hours every day, its 3 AA batteries will last you a year. A year. A year.

A year.

The most fun thing about it is transferring files. You plug it in with a usb cable and put your cursor in a word processing program of some sort, then hit "send." It types the text really fast into your program, because it's basically a keyboard with some memory. Yeah, you can install a managing program that let's you drag out a .txt file, but that's no fun.

There are people who complain about getting online and being distracted by twitter, facebook, email and whatnot. The Alphasmart certainly solves that problem. You can't even get distracted by formatting.

I don't really find the internet that distracting. I've definitely sat down to write and decided to just "check my stuff" real quick and then found the hours to have disappeared, but I wouldn't say that's a frequent problem for me.

Sometimes, though, the blank page can intimidate me. My mind gets into "serious writing mode" when I open up openoffice or Word. When my anxiety is high, that can really put me off of writing.

Aaron Polson tweeted this article about freewriting, and it struck a chord with me. I've dusted off my Alphasmart because I find it very unintimidating. I can let go much easier and just write. I don't know if it's just because my mind isn't conditioned the same way towards it, or the fact that I can't research on it, or the fact that I can only see the last 40 words I've written, but it works. So I keep it by my bed and write as soon as I wake up, and sit it by my chair so blah blah blah.

The Alphasmart people kind of got cut off at the knees by the cheap laptop. Already being in a low-volume niche, I guess they couldn't cut their prices proportionately. They've gotten a bit closer recently. Their newest, the NEO 2, is $169. I doubt I would have bought my alphasmart 3000 if, at the time, laptops had been as cheap as they are now. But I'm actually glad I have it, and am thinking about upgrading at some point when I'm able. The NEOs are supposed to have fantastic keyboards.

I got my first audio review! Give this review of Burden Kansas a listen at Alchemy of Scrawl. "The suspense makes this a page turner, but the details will live on in your head long after you put the tale down."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Post Secret

I’m not an idea guy.

I’m always a bit jealous of writers who talk about how they can’t keep up with all the fiction ideas they have. For whatever reason, that’s not the way my mind works.

However, I can make a story out of just about anything. I do very well with writing prompts. My mind draws connections very easily. So I guess when god closes a door, it's worth two in the bush.

A writing instructor once told me that one way to drive a story is to give your characters secrets. The secret can be revealed during the course of the story or not; maybe not to the other characters, maybe not even to the reader. But the secret will give the character motivation and depth.

It struck me, then, that the website Post Secret is a weekly gift of amazing writing prompts. I save the ones that interest me, then look for ties between them. Each card gives you an image prompt and a sentence prompt in one neat little jpeg. They really stoke the imagination. A number of my stories are filed with their accompanying postcards.

Now that I’ve given away one of my most valuable writing secrets, I’ve been reduced as a character.

I’m sick. Sales have gone in the wrong direction. I just started the job search, which is depressing when you have almost no skills.

So this review by Jay Krow was just what I needed today. Thanks Jay!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Necrotic Tissue Closing, Releasing Best-Of Anthology

This morning I got an email from R. Scott McCoy, the head editor of Necrotic Tissue and Stygian Publications. Mr. McCoy is continuing on with Stygian Publications, but is ending Necrotic Tissue.

From a writer's standpoint, it's too bad. For its run, Necrotic Tissue has been a solid semi-pro magazine. They were prompt and professional in all aspects of the biz, and made a beautiful product filled with high-quality horror.

There is a silver lining for me, though. Necrotic Tissue is honoring its 14 issue run with a best-of anthology. My story, "Choices Made Possible by Modern Science," will be included. It was originally published as the second story in issue #8 (pictured here). I'd bet that a few of the writer's blogs I read will be making similar announcements. But this is a big honor for me.

I've seen some e-magazines popping up. Not web or pdf based, but ones meant for e-readers. My guess is that this is the direction a lot of magazines/journals will go. I hope so, at least, to fill the void left by print journals like Necrotic Tissue.

You can still buy issues of Necrotic Tissue at the website, so check it out.

In other news, I can't get over this weird little flu I've had for a week now. It sucks. It makes me not want to work on the final revisions for Psychomancer. I think that maybe today I'll watch MST3K while sending out some submissions, instead.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Things That Are Happening

Vampire month is over. Spring is springing. Change and allergens are in the air. Dogs are shedding. Flowers are blossoming. Genitals are tingling. Lasagna is cooling.

So I’m gonna write this quickly.

I’ve got a ton of stuff coming up. And my unemployment benefits are probably going to end soon. So I’m in a crazy manic state, except that I’m sick booooo. But I’m still getting things done.

My “publishing house” Sucker Punch Press has a logo. Thanks Wendy!

And for the book spines:

“When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha,” my one-act domestic comedy set at the end of the world is formatted and ready to go. With a little tweaking, you can make a stage play look pretty nice as an ebook. I'm glad I know HTML. As soon as Wendy finishes the cover, I’m putting it up for $0.99. I’m not sure when that’ll be, but it should go live within the next two weeks.

My upcoming novel, a marshmallow soft contemporary scifi story about psions entitled Psychomancer has just a bit of revision left and then should be with my copyeditor within a week. I’m lining up a sick cover. Hopefully everything will come together and it’ll be up for sale within the month.

I’ve got short stories out and in various stages of consideration at different lit journals. I’m going to be doing some more submissions. It’s funny, at this point I want to get stories placed and published quickly mostly so that I can put out Pulling Teeth 2.

So, there’s a lot coming up. Yay!