Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Childhood Fears - The Blob


Laugh if you must, but as a young lad few things in this world frightened me more than the idea of the Blob coming after me. It was the boneless jellyfish-like form that did it. Such a creature could be hiding anywhere, its slimly flesh-eating substance patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. No place was safe. Every room in every house had numerous points of entry, the heating and cooling systems providing the carnivorous Jello-mold a perfect transportation system. It was a quiet predator as well, the only noises ever coming from it being that of the victims as their flesh, muscle, and bones were slowly dissolved. The worst part of all, however, was that I had no defense against the creature at night while in bed. Sure my family had a fire extinguisher, but the chances of them allowing me to sleep with it were so slim that I never even bothered to ask. I also doubted I would ever wake up in time to use it, not when the creature could ooze its way across the floor without making a sound. No way. My first inkling that something was even wrong would be the sudden burning sensation as my skin was absorbed into the creature, and by then it would be too late.

My introduction to The Blob (1958) occurred in the fall of 1991 while staying at my grandmother’s house (many of my greatest childhood fears originated there). I was in second grade at the time, and she thought the movie would be a perfect way to wind down the evening as bedtime approached. The suggestion was met with enthusiasm from me despite the fact that it meant forgoing our normal Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom viewing (I have no idea why, but my brother and I always wanted to watch that while at her house, our favorite scene being the nauseating palace dinner party moments). Also, even if I wanted to, how could I say no to a horror movie that my grandmother said was really good, especially after assuring her several times that I wasn’t afraid of anything? So, we sat down to watch it in her creepy family room, my enthusiasm quickly turning to regret as the doctor office scene played out. It was the moment the nurse screamed and knocked over the lamp that did it. After that, the movie wasn’t something I wanted to watch anymore, but by then it was too late, I had to see it through, not because my grandmother wouldn’t have turned it off if I asked, but because I had to know what happened. I had to know whether or not the red glob of asteroid slime was killed or left free to roam the world.

Now, even though the entire movie scared the crap out of me, there was one scene in particular that really got to me, that being the moment when the Blob passed through the heating vent into the movie theater projection booth followed by it oozing through the tiny windows onto the crowd below. My god, talk about associating an everyday item with sheer terror. Not a moment went by after seeing that where I wasn’t aware of the heating vents around me (even while in school), my eyes always wanting to glance over and make sure nothing was oozing out. I also never wanted to sit under a heating vent in our basement when watching TV or playing video games, and at night I would always do my best to cover up the one in my bedroom floor with something heavy before going to sleep. It was crazy, and to this day I’m still not really all that fond of the heating vents, and while I know the Blob probably isn’t going to come through one, there are plenty of other ‘real life’ things that could slither their way into my place at night.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Finished the Final Read on BLIND EYE, Now Just Waiting On My Editor and Book Cover Artist


Three official reads.  That's how many times I sit down with a manuscript before sending it off to my editor.  I use the word 'official' because, unofficially, I probably read the manuscript over a hundred times during the writing process, the style of writing a fast first draft and then going back it after the story is completed to re-work things one that simply doesn't work for me.  I like to tweak the story as I go, and typically will re-read everything I have written every hundred pages or so just to get a feel on where the novel is going.  I also re-read it when stuck, an act which allows me to get into the narrative flow of the story in such a way that isn't possible when putting words to paper ten pages at a time day after day.  Many say writing a novel this way is a mistake; but for me, it works.  The only wrong way to write a novel is to not write it.

My style of writing developed during the first four years of my writing career; a period of time that saw me churning out short stories and novels with a determination-fueled regularity that is hard for me to contemplate fifteen years later.  During that time, my stories were accepted fairly frequently whereas my novels weren't.  I also noticed that with my novels, it was really hard for me to go back and edit them, the 'write a fast first draft' style of writing having made it so many of those novels need quite a bit of work, work that involved major changes to the story, which became very daunting during the second draft.  My short stories, however, never needed this.  Why?  Because with those, given how short they were, I was continuously re-reading them as I wrote simply so I could get into the flow of the story each morning, and would make changes as needed, which, in turn, made it so they were pretty much complete once I was finished with the first draft.  Editing was still required, but it was more a copy-edit than a story edit, which was much more enjoyable.  Eventually, this style of writing worked its way into my novel style of writing.  No conscious decision to do this took place, it just happened over time, and with it came more success as publishers showed more interest in my novels.

During my first official read, which always takes place about two months after I finish the first draft, I simply read it to read it, my only focus being to see what the story is like entertainment wise.  During this process I will note areas that caught me up, but don't do anything with them until after I finish the first read.  The second read is a cutting-read, one where I remove anything that seems dull or tedious.  The third read is another story read, this time one that takes place about a month after the cutting read, the goal being to make sure all the cuts and re-writing of scenes that needed work feet seamless.  If not, I go back and re-work them.  Following that third read, if all is right with the manuscript, I send it off to my editor.

That is where things stand now with Blind Eye.  I completed the third read yesterday, and now it will be going to my editor on April 1.  Typically, I wouldn't have an entire month before sending it to my editor, but this time around, given the length of the novel -- 845 pages! --, I really wanted to give myself the time needed for my own reads and thus, scheduled the edit with a bit of a time buffer.  After all, the last thing one wants is to pay nearly eight hundred bucks to have a manuscript edited that is still going to need story changes after the fact.

In addition to waiting on the edits, I'm also waiting on the book cover, one which is being handled by Derek over at CreativIndie.  This will be my first time having Derek create a cover for me, and, needless to say, I'm really excited to see what he comes up with.

For a while, I was also contemplating having a book trailer created since I've really enjoyed other trailers that I've seen for some of the books my fellow authors are releasing, but then, given that I'm currently in the middle of buying a house, figured maybe I would hold off on the thousand dollar plus price tag such things require.    

So, that is where things stand right now.  If all goes according to plan, Blind Eye should be seeing a release in mid May of this year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Finished the First Draft of CRYSTAL CREEK . . . Now What?


Good question.  The days following the completion of a novel are always a bit trying for me.  It's the writing routine that does it.  Writing the first draft of a novel typically takes me four to five months.  During that time, I write between 1500 and 2000 words every morning.  Sometimes those words come easy, sometimes they don't, but either way, they get written (okay . . . sometimes they don't, I won't lie, but it is a very VERY rare thing for such a failure to rear its ugly head).  Having a routine like this is important, especially when working in a creative field, because it conditions the brain to be creative and your body to be able to sit at a desk during it.  For fifteen years, I've been doing this; for fifteen years, no matter what else has been going on in my life, my number one priority upon waking has been to sit down at my computer and produce eight to ten pages of new story for whatever novel project I'm working on.  So, needless to say, when there is no new story to create; when my mind and body has no set goal for that morning writing period, things get a bit crazy simply because I literally don't know what to do.  This morning is a perfect example.  Yesterday, when I got up, I made my coffee, fed the cats, used the bathroom and sat down to write, the final pages of CRYSTAL CREEK arriving without much trouble during a two hour time span.  Afterward, I was ecstatic.  I love finishing a novel.  It's great.  I celebrated by making some tea -- vacuuming my office while the water heated (hadn't realize how nasty the carpet had gotten while working -- and reading with my brother and cats.  Okay, typically I do a better job of celebrating, but now that I've taken on a job to supplement my writing income so that my brother and I can buy a house, I didn't have the rest of the day free (this working thing after so many years of simply writing for a living is weird).  Today when I got up, I made my coffee, fed the cats, used the bathroom, and sat down to . . . gah, what am I going to do??  Following this was a stern warning about NOT starting a new writing project.

Wait, why not?    

I need a break.  My routine centered mind doesn't think so, which is why I'm still sitting here at my desk during my daily writing period, but the rational part of my mind that can veto the creative part of my mind knows this to be the case.  It has also set in place a plan for what I'm going to do next.  First things first, I'm going to be taking the next four days off from writing (novel and story writing, not website writing -- gotta keep my fingers in shape).  After that, starting on Saturday, I will be doing a final re-read of my novel BLIND EYE, which was finished back in October and has gone through two edits (ones focused on story rather than copy, which is an edit that I always hire out).  This final read though, after having not looked at that novel since early December, will be one where I focus solely on how entertaining the read is and see what parts, if any, can be removed to tighten the pace.  Doing this will also help me determine the final page count for the print edition, which is something my cover artist needs to know so he can finish the artwork for the novel.  After that, I have a short novella that I want to write, one tentatively titled BLACK EGG that will be a lengthening of a thirty five page short story I saw published in Black Petals ten years ago.  It is an Easter-themed horror story, one that I believe, if all goes well, can be written and proofed for an Easter release.  Fingers crossed.  As far as novel writing goes, the next novel will be one that is tentatively titled A TASTE OF PAIN.  Six years ago, I wrote the first two hundred pages of this novel, but then was forced to set it aside because something just didn't work.  Now, having written BLIND EYE, I realize that the reason it wasn't working was because one of the characters from BLIND EYE will be a central figure in A TASTE OF PAIN, which in turn, explains why another novel, tentatively titled THE MISSING KEY, also wasn't finished three years ago -- one of the new characters in A TASTE OF PAIN will be a central character in THE MISSING KEY.  Weird how all that works, isn't.

So, that's the plan for the next year, one which will probably be tweaked here and there, and completely blown apart if something more pressing should come along.  My brother and I are also still trying to find a house to live in, so hopefully soon, much of this future writing will be done in a new office.    

And now what?  Writing this didn't take long at all and I still have a giant chunk of my typically writing time to fill . . .      

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Will Be On Haunted Nights LIVE Tonight With Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross!


It's almost time!  In just a little over one hour from now I will be appearing on Haunted Nights LIVE! with horror greats Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross.  See below for a link on where you can listen.

Haunted Nights LIVE!

Though I've done many podcast interviews in the past, as well as magazine and website interviews, this will be the first time I've done anything live, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.  I'm also really glad that my parents actually have a land line at their house still, because earlier this week, during a rare 'talking on my cell phone' moment, I discovered that I constantly hang up on people because I have the horrible habit of pressing the phone against the side of my head, causing me to hit the touch screen disconnected button.  Can you say, first world problem.  I also can't use the speaker function because that distorts things too much, which would then make for a poor interview.  So, land-line it is.

PS: if you tune in and it sounds like they are interview a girl, don't worry, that's me.    

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Many Thanks to Whomever Sent Me This Signed Paperback Edition of FREAK SHOW edited by F. Paul Wilson






















Just wanted to express thanks to whomever it was that sent me this signed paperback edition of FREAK SHOW, edited by F. Paul Wilson.  I've mentioned before on this site, and on various social media platforms, that I would like to read this anthology, and sure enough, someone decided to send it to me, which is always pretty cool.  As some of you may recall, this isn't the first book that has been sent to me by an unknown individual.  Not long ago, I received a copy of DEMON CHILD by Deanna Dwyer (aka Dean Koontz) in an unmarked package, which totally blew me away since I've been wanting to collect the early pen name work of that author as well.  Was FREAK SHOW gifted to me by the same person?  Maybe time will tell.  Until then, thanks again.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I've Joined Twitter Once Again and Right Away Authors Are Following and Then Unfollowing Me


I get the feeling that I'm upsetting many authors on Twitter simply because I do not follow them back when they follow me given my observation that I have been followed by and subsequently unfollowed by about twenty-five authors during my first week back on Twitter.  I have also not responded to several request for 'tweet a link to my book and I'll tweet yours' messages.  The reason for my lack of following and tweeting swaps is simple: I'm not on Twitter to network with other authors, but to network with my readers and other horror, mystery, fantasy and science fiction fans.  I also enjoying following authors that I'm already reading like Stephen King, and actors whose work I enjoy (hey Jennifer Lawrence, which one of the dozen upon dozens of Twitter accounts is yours?).  That's it, and really, that's what social media is for.  If you are an author who thinks that your various social media accounts are going to gain you hundreds upon hundreds of readers simply because you posts links to your work, you're wrong.  It might gain you a few, but really, those that will be seeking you out are ones who already enjoy your work and want to keep up with you. Updates on book releases will be beneficial to them, and through their sharing might gain new readers, but that's it.  'Follow swaps' and 'link swaps' with other writers, that's not really going to amount to much.  After all, have you ever asked a roomful of writers for book recommendations?  If so, then you know you might as well be asking them what their titles are and why you should be reading them.  Now, I'm not saying that if you are an author, don't bother following me.  What I am saying is, don't follow me with the expectation that I'm going to follow you back right away simply because you're a fellow writer.  That's just not going to happen.            
     

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Next Up on My Reading List - The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle


Last year, after reading Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven andJerry Pournelle.  I determined to collect and read everything these two fantastic authors had written.  Right away, suggestions were made about a novel titled The Mote In God's Eye, which, according to everyone who made suggestions, is a fantastic futuristic story about mankind's first encounter with an alien civilization, one that is at least a million years old.  At the time, science fiction wasn't really something I sought out, yet even so, I decided to get a copy one day and read it, my thinking being that if I enjoyed one novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, I would enjoy more.  Simply put, if the story was great and the characters enjoyable, the genre wouldn't matter.  Interestingly, it was a novel by a different author, one whose work also spans multiple genres, that cemented this idea in my mind.  That novel was Hyperion by Dan Simmons, which I wrote about last week in the post Now I'm Hooked On Science Fiction Thanks to Hyperion by Dan Simmons.  Following my read of that, I decided it was time to branch out into the science fiction genre and was reminded of my decision to obtain and read The Mote in God's Eye.  

Obtain it I did, and read it I will, though it wasn't through my own journey to a book store that put it into my to be read pile.  Instead, given that I had added it to my wishlist on Amazon, which is a list I use to catalog books I would like to read, I ended up opening it for Christmas, my Mom having used the wish list in her Christmas shopping endeavors.  She also gave me the sequel The Gripping Hand, as well as two novels by Larry Niven titled Ringworld and Protector, all of which I'm looking forward to sitting down with.

First things first, however, I must finished Poppet by Mo Hayder, which I started reading on Christmas Eve.  It too is a fantastic read, Mo Hayder being one of those authors that is able to pen compelling mystery stories that are so dark and twisted, that horror fans would love them too, especially if they are the type that prefer the real life horror next door types of horror to the supernatural kind that often populates the horror genre.  I enjoy both myself.