Friday, December 30, 2011

Blood Tells True Dead Tree Cover

I am very tired, and really most of my day was spent creating the cover for the paper version of Blood Tells True. It's way more work to design paper covers than e-covers. And it isn't the most rewarding work because I'm doing it for two reasons unrelated to writing success:

1. To please the Luddites I know personally.
2. So Amazon will stop estimating page counts on my e-only offerings, because it estimates way too low.

So I'm posting it to feel like I at least got a blog post out of the work. The bar code will go beside the fist, so that won't be as unbalanced as it looks right now.


Movie Reviews!


Horror doesn’t take Christmas off. Okay, horror does take Christmas off, but he writes his reviews ahead of time. And by horror, I mean ???????

YellowBrickRoad looks and sounds great. This is a small budget film, but you are completely immersed throughout. Instead of cash, the filmmakers use creativity. YellowBrickRoad assaults your senses. That is, in fact, one of the most contentious aspects of the film. The filmmakers help you empathize with the characters by allowing you to experience their madness through aural and visual effects. It’s not pleasant, but what makes you think horror should be?

Victor just came into his full inheritance and besides arranging those details, he also arranges the details of his funeral. There is to be no autopsy and no embalming. He wants to be tossed into the ground as is, as quickly as possible. HUHIWONDERIFTHATWILLCOMEUPAGAIN?

The human mind works to integrate information into its existing belief system. I understand this. However, one of the most infuriating clichés in all of horror is when no one will adjust their thinking to accept the supernatural when it’s biting them right in the ass. Because you know what? While sudden, large shifts in paradigm are difficult, the human brain is also primed to believe there are predators hunting the darkness.

The women awaken in a cell, and they’ve got amnesia. Ahhh, that classic concept-horror conceit. But though they’ve forgotten their names, they’ve retained their personalities. Their easily-described-in-one-word personalities. You’ve got the tough one, the scared one, the nurturing one, and the survivor girl one.



Weekly Wrassling Notes:

-Big Show needs to stop talking about being a monster when he's obviously a face. Especially since a monster would never think in those terms.

-Based solely on acting, the Miz may be the best heel in wrestling today.

-I'm trying to figure out a term for Randy Orton's type of character since he's turned from heel. He's basically a classic monster though he's at least 50 pounds too light. It's like he's a monster based on skill instead of size and strength.

The RKO of Wade Barrett onto the top of the towncar may have been the move of the 12/23 Smackdown.

-My guess about the weird, ring-ish children promo: return of the Undertaker.

-Ziggler makes other wrestlers look great; a lost art.

-I love seeing Booker T back in the ring. I can't believe I've been watching him for over a decade and he looks exactly the same.

-Big Show has the greatest choke slam in the history of wrestling.

-Kane is the only monster who can speak and maintain monster cred (remember what happened to Batista when he started talking?). Glad he’s back.

-As Jeff Hardy's facial hair and paint get more complex, his lack of personality becomes more apparent.

-“Van Dam will knock the taste out of your face!”

-Impact’s X Division shows why WWE needs to collect the Divas on one show and bring back the Cruiserweight Championship on the other.



The love. I iz feelin it.

‘Tis the time for year-end and fill-your-new-ereader lists, and I made a few that I’m very proud of.

When Cthulhu Met Atlach-Nacha made James Everington’s list.

Burden Kansas made both Coral Moore’s and Jarrett Rush’s lists.

I was contemplating a list of my own before these were posted. Now I’m literally getting a stomachache from thinking about making a conclusive list which people either make or don’t. Especially because I would have recommended a book from each of the people who recommended me in their respective genres, and I fear being accused of MBS. The stomachache could also be from the pound of jerky I’ve eaten in the last two days (thanks for the dehydrator Mom and Dad!).  So instead I’m going to promise that in 2012 I’m going to do more to support the authors I believe in.

Cop out yay!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Burden Kansas Is Free

To coincide with the release of Blood Tells True, I decided to make Burden Kansas free through Dec 30th. I know that you’ve probably read it, but if you’d help me spread the word, I’d be really grateful. I’d even give you any ebook of mine for free if there’s one you haven’t read yet.

I hope that’s not insulting. I’ve gotten a lot of help from the people who read this blog who’ve never expected anything in return.




Blood Tells True continues at $0.99 through the rest of the year. Snag it while it’s cheap! And I soon felt guilty and extended that deal to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Blood Tells True:

This means that for the next 3 days, you can get the entire Harris family saga for less than $1. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to set the leader at $0 while the sequel is 75% off, but if I started making sensible decisions… I don’t know how to finish that thought.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blood Tells True Updates


I forgot to publish BTT at a starting price of $1, which I've taken to doing for you all. It is now $1. Get it while it's hot.

BTT still isn't live on B&N, and when it does go live, it will also be $3.99. It's gonna stay that price. Sorry. I usually sell 1 copy of any given book for Nook, and I don't feel like going through the pricematching hassle with Amazon when it's time to jack the price back up.

If you're waiting for BTT to get up on Smashwords, that's going to take a bit. I did the majority of the formatting at various Christmas functions, and by the time I'd finished making the mobi and epub I didn't feel like making the special .doc. I felt like sipping nog and eating fire-roasted chestnuts (on a sad note, I did neither). I'll be doing that in the next few days, though. But it will likely go up at 3.99 and stay there.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blood Tells True Is Live!

Just in time to bring Christmas horror, Blood Tells True is on sale at Amazon. Perfect for putting onto a new e-reader, no?


Friday, December 23, 2011

Movie Reviews!


Where Frozen and Open Water are equal is in recreating the discomfort of the characters in the viewer. It’s very uncomfortable to watch people slowly freezing to death. Frozen is horror-as-masochism at its purest.


The road trip intro is a bad sign. While it seems innocuous enough, horror screenwriters seem to be unable to write about people sitting together in a car without making them incredibly obnoxious. Sometimes this seems to be part of a strategy to actually get the audience on the side of the killer (“Boy, I can’t wait for somebody to start murdering these jackasses!”). Other times, it unintentionally prejudices the audience against characters, and this negative attitude must be overcome.

[Mila] turns on the television just in time to catch Plot Point Action News and hear of the latest Tear-Jerk Jack slaying. In the real world, while the media may propose a serial killer’s nickname, we all must agree on it for it to stick. Apparently in the world of Faces in the Crowd, serial killer names are put to a vote down at the local kindergarten. You see, Tear-Jerk Jack weeps over his victims’ corpses.

Next, Mila reads her horoscope in The Plot Point Picayune, where she is warned of a “chance encounter with a stranger.”


Do you like 80’s horror movies? The Stuff might just be the most 80seriffic horror movie of them all.

The Stuff begins as most good movies do: with an old man wandering around in the snow, finding a patch of bubbling goo on the ground and eating it.

It’s delicious!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Important Information


1.
I just invented a snack for the gourmand on a budget: caliente crackers.

Ingredients:
      Jalapeño slices
      Generic saltines
      1 glass of water

Preparation:
      Place one jalapeno slice on one Saltine. Cram in mouth. Wash down with water. The last step is important, as the binding effect of the saltine will otherwise cement bits of jalapeno all over your mouth, burning the ever-loving crap out of your taste buds.


2.
In other snack-related news, sardines now come in a pouch, like tuna.
Pros
      Cheaper
      Environmentally friendly
      My normal brand brought back their smoked variety

Cons
      Without being packed so tightly, sardines are kind of mushy
      I’ve gotten accustomed to kippered herring since my brand discontinued their smoked variety

Verdict: still pretty good on a generic saltine.

3.
I watch horror movies most days, both because I enjoy it and to get material for StreamingHorror.net. However, I don’t write a horror review every day. Instead, I take notes and then use them to write a week’s worth of reviews all in one day.

The whole time I’m writing reviews, I’m also watching pro-wrestling, aka wrasslin.

I’ve found that different types of writing require different levels of concentration. Writing health and fitness articles requires a lot of concentration due to the specialized vocabulary and the need to keep different sources straight in my head. Writing fiction requires total concentration as well, an almost dream-like state. Blog posts and movie reviews, however, I can write with background noise.

I’ve been a longtime fan of wrasslin, but haven’t been able to fit it into my schedule because I can’t just sit and watch it. There’s too much talking, and the shows are really long. So I have to be doing something else, but most of the things I do require concentration (or use of the television ILOVEYOUBATTLEFIELD3).

Now I turn the volume pretty low, and look up only when the crowd goes “Oooooooh.” It takes nearly 5 hours to get all the way through WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown, and TNA Impact.

I don’t think it influences my reviews, but who knows.

4. 
Blood Tells True is in the very finalest stages! I hope to have it out just in time to capitalize on the post-Christmas Kindle-filling boom. Ahhhh, the reason for the season.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Other Thoughts on Revision

So I’m finishing up the revision of Blood Tells True, sequel to Burden Kansas.

I’m really tired of reading it.

And I like rereading my own work. It’s like gazing at my beautimous reflection in a clear pool. I could do it for…EVAR.

That’s mythology yo!

Here’s the thing about revision: unless you have a big breakthrough, at some point, you get diminishing returns. Now of course, a typo caught on the fifth read is as valuable as one caught on the first, but I’m talking about language tweaking.

Because at some point, you’re changing things almost no one else will notice. If you can pull a reader in so that they forget that they’re reading and forget about you, the writer, then they’re going to roll with what you’ve given them. You need to be able to judge that line.

Some things that remind a person that they’re reading? Inconsistencies, typos, grammar errors, and yes, clunky language.

But you get diminishing returns. You could revise forever. At some point, you have to let it go.

Aren’t I the same person who said that revision is where a lot of the magic happens?

I am, and I still believe that. But I believe this to. Especially if it can help justify me not having to read this damn book much more.



Check out the origin of Penny Dreadnought, written by most Abominable Gentleman James Everington.

That night, they were bitter drinkers, in both senses of the word. Pints of Blue Monkey were being drunk, but despite that, the mood was morose. Ryker had started a conversation about what passed for genre fiction in the modern world.

"Sparkly vampires..." he said, between gritted teeth.

Everington used some choice words of Anglo Saxon dialect.

Dr. Rowan spat into the fire.

Col. Polson almost swallowed his cigar in righteous anger.


Loves it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Coral Moore: Why Every Genre Needs a Little More Horror


Today we've got a great guest post by Coral Moore! And so it begins...
* * *

There’s a spot that the really great horror authors reach for when they write a story. That slightly squeamish, tender area somewhere deep in our gut is prodded and sometimes even punched by the creative minds behind suspenseful tales. Like that bruise you keep poking even though you know it’s going to hurt, we lovers of dark fiction just keep asking for the pain over and over again. I don’t believe horror fans are driven by masochism though, but more a desire to feel, to connect deeply.

I first started thinking about this a few weeks ago when I had a conversation with a couple of folks on Twitter about how horror writers were, by and large, romantics. I think I phrased it something along the lines of: isn’t it funny how the gore and blood hides the soft, squishy heart underneath. The more I thought about this offhand comment though, the more true it seemed. Every self-reported horror fan I know would qualify as more sentimental than average.

We sappy horror fans really just want to be touched by our fiction. Does it matter how? Is a positive emotional experience better than a negative one? Speaking only for myself, I love a heartrending romance as much as a gory horror story, just in a different way. How much better would it be if they were both found in the same place? I wonder, now that I’m blathering on about this, is there a market for a real horror romance? Is that what all this sparkly vampire stuff is trying to be?

I recently read a Contemporary Romance that evoked a lot of negative emotions on its path to a happily ever after and I enjoyed it more than any other book I’ve read this year. Now, it wasn’t anywhere close to horror, but the characters were supremely damaged and there was a lot of real darkness lurking under the love story. I wonder how far we can push that envelope. I may have to try it and find out!

Everything I write is edgy. I guess that’s just how I’m wired. There’s something about that soft spot that I just can’t resist touching, though I don’t usually grab and twist the way a true horror writer would. I’d blame my penchant for gritty, disturbing fiction on the early influence of Stephen King in my life, but I believe it’s more a chicken and egg scenario. I read King at a young age because that’s what I craved and through him I came to love dark fiction even more.

One pivotal aspect of scary stories I think every writer can learn from is the delicate balance of anticipation and fulfillment. There’s an artistry to the way a skilled horror author builds and releases tension that I strive to create in my work. My first release Broods of Fenrir is an Urban Fantasy, but there are horror elements in the framework of the story. As a rule, UF skirts around a lot of violence, but I’ve tried to address it face on. There’s a roughness to my werewolves that derives from their origins and you won’t find anywhere else in the genre.

Everyone can use a bit more horror in their lives, don’t you agree?

* * *

Coral Moore has always been the kind of girl who makes up stories. Fortunately, she never quite grew out of that. She writes because she loves to invent characters and the desire to find out what happens to her creations drives the tales she tells. Places you can find her on the web: Website - Goodreads - Twitter

 * * *

Alan here. I do agree.

Broods of Fenrir is a real page turner, with lots of tension and conflict. What really impresses me, though, is how Coral gets into the mind of an alpha male. The psychology is pretty much spot on. And as far as I know, Coral isn't a six and a half foot tall bruiser, so that's quite an accomplishment, and one I feel further sets Broods of Fenrir apart from a lot of urban fantasy.

Here's the deets on Coral's much anticipated first novel:

Shapeshifter Brand Geirson was raised to rule the Broods of Fenrir, but he refused his birthright. Instead, he killed their brutal leader–his own father–and walked away.

For hundreds of years he’s avoided brood society, until a werewolf kills an innocent human woman and Brand finds himself dragged back into the violent politics of the shapeshifters. When the two brood women who mean the most to him come under threat, he must take up the throne and risk becoming the kind of vicious bastard his father was, or let the broods descend further into chaos–taking the friend he swore to protect and his lover with them.



Friday, December 9, 2011

Introducing Penny Dreadnought, Insidious Indoctrination Engine of the Abominable Gentlemen


I promised that I had legitimate projects coming to fruition, and now I come bearing the sweet, sweet fruits. Marvel at PENNY DREADNOUGHT:


Penny Dreadnought is going to be an ongoing magazine of sorts published by and featuring stories from the Abominable Gentlemen, also known as:
and me

Although all the stories in this first issue are reprints, in the future Penny Dreadnought will also contain new material. In this first issue, Introducing Penny Dreadnought, Insidious Indoctrination Engine of the Abominable Gentlemen, we tried to put forth our best stories. Later issues will have themes, though the stories could come from any of the darker genres.

To people who’ve read my Pulling Teeth collection, you’ve already read my story. But getting the other 3 for $0.99 is a steal. They are freaking awesome. For real.

There’s not much up yet, but in the future, pennydreadnought.com is going to be the best place to keep up to date on our horrible machinations (and publications, and essay…ummm…ations…)


Da blurb!



From the malignant minds of the Abominable Gentlemen comes the first volume of Penny Dreadnought. Within these pages you’ll find the following seeds of madness:
“Lilies” by Iain Rowan
“Cargo” by Aaron Polson
“First Time Buyers” by James Everington
“Invasion of the Shark-Men” by Alan Ryker

Introducing Penny Dreadnought, Insidious Indoctrination Engine of the Abominable Gentlemen is approximately 22,000 words, or 88 paper pages, and can be purchased at:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Laptop!


I finally have a new laptop. I've used a Dell Vostro 1500 for the past 4 years. It's been an awesome computer, but it's been showing the signs of its age.

I purchased it on a great sale for $400. It took 2 years before $400 laptops caught up with its specs, and another 2 before I felt like I could get a worthwhile upgrade for $400.

So I'm finally rocking Windows 7. I always used the Classic option so that my OS has looked like Windows 98 since literally 1998. But this laptop has enough ram and processing power to do the fancy stuff, so I'm letting it, and I'm enjoying it.

Still, while I'm kind of a gadget guy (who can't afford many gadgets), I'm pretty utilitarian when it comes to my computers. I got the laptop set up exactly to my liking in a couple of days, and since, I've barely noticed the transition (except that my programs open MUCH faster). That's exactly how I like it.

The Dell Vostro 1500 is still alive, and now has a permanent place beside my television as a media computer and a back up.



So, I've been gone. I've got an extremely one-track mind, and when I get into a project* I drop everything else until I've laid the groundwork and integrated it into my schedule. I've almost reached that point, and I've got some big new things to show you all over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!


*Some sticklers may not consider Battlefield 3 to be a project, but I've got a couple of other, more legitimate projects coming to fruition :P