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. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gah, I Bought This Earlier This Year to Read During The Holiday Season And Totally Forgot About It - Black Christmas by Thomas Altman

When you buy hundreds upon hundreds of used books each year, you're bound to forget about things you bought, which is exactly what happened with Black Christmas by Thomas Altman.  Earlier this year, while at Half Priced Books, I saw this novel sitting on the shelf in the horror section and, given the name, and the fact that I love holiday horror, didn't even think twice when adding it to my cart, my intention being to read it during the 2014 Christmas season.  Well, that didn't happen.  In fact, the existence of this title totally slipped my mind until this morning.  It was a book stack collapse that brought it to my attention once again.  The other day, after having really enjoyed Hyperion by Dan Simmons, I started digging around all the boxes and piles of books that I have at my parents house to see if I had the other books in the Hyperion series.  I did.  This, in turn, made things a bit unstable, which, eventually, led to the book stack collapse that occurred this morning in an area of room that I don't pay much attention too -- a shelf behind the second bed in the guest room at my parents house where I have been staying while trying to buy a house with my brother.  Following this collapse, I went over to straighten everything up, and, much to my surprise, came upon this book, which eventually brought the memory of buying it back to the forefront of my mind.  Oops.  Now the question is, if I finish the book I'm currently reading today, should I start this one tomorrow?  As it so happens, I'm working a very quiet, double pay shift tomorrow on the roadside help line, so chances are, I will have about eight hours of reading time at my disposal.  That being said, I had kind of wanted to read this one by a lit Christmas tree, in an empty house while a snow storm raged, which is quite different from a lightly decorated call center.  Then again, a nasty snow storm is scheduled to hit while I'm at work tomorrow, so . . .      

Monday, December 22, 2014

Now I'm Hooked on Science Fiction Thanks to Hyperion By Dan Simmons

All I can say is wow.  It has been a long time since I've become so enthralled by the story within a novel that I spend the entire day reading.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I read all the time, my rate being about 100 pages a day, but normally, I can set the book down without a problem after those 100 pages, my reading appetite sated, mind knowing that the story will still be there when I return the next day.  That wasn't the case with HYPERION by Dan Simmons.  From the get go, I was hooked, and had it not been for the fact that I was working during the reading of the first two hundred pages, I probably would have finished the book in two days rather than three.  Even more amazing, this novel is categorized within a genre that I don't typically venture into: science fiction.  In fact, I don't think I have ever sat down with a novel that was categorized as such.  Horror, mystery and sometimes fantasy; those were the sections one could typically find me in during the days of Barnes & Noble and Borders.  Science fiction . . . I can't even picture where that section would have been back in the day when those stores held dominance over the lands.  Now, that is going to change, though not with Barnes & Noble or Borders since they are both gone from my area.  Instead, I will seek out the science fiction section at Half Priced Books, which is, I must say, the greatest bookstore ever.

Note: Stay tuned for a future post on why Half Priced Books is the GREATEST BOOKSTORE EVER!  

Where was I?

Oh yes, Hyperion by Dan Simmons and my enjoyment of a title that would typically be classified as science fiction.

For the record, I've never had any issues with the science fiction genre; I was just never drawn to it.  Starships, planetary exploration, coming in contact with beings from other worlds (unless in a horrific War of the Worlds type of way), mining asteroids and comets . . . none of it appealed to me.  Why?  I don't know.  Instead, I wanted to read about serial killers, haunted houses, vampires (when well done), zombies, and epic fantasies that took place in worlds as seen in Game of Thrones, The Wheel of Time, and The Lord of the Rings.  What I never seemed to realize, or at least acknowledge, was that, while drawn to the elements that made up those genres, it was the characters and the author's writing ability that enthralled me, and, if either was lacking, it wouldn't have mattered how many elements of the horror, mystery or fantasy the book carried, I wouldn't have enjoyed it.

Enter an author named Dan Simmons.  Given my love of horror, I bought one of his novels titled Summer of Night during the my senior year in high school, a period of time that saw me expanding my horror interests beyond the pages of King and Koontz, mostly because . . . well . . . I had read everything by them that was available.  A week later, I was hooked.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find many of his books, the tiny horror section at the local Borders only carrying Summer of Night, Children of the Night, A Winter's Haunting, and Song of Kali.  Once read, I moved on to other authors that I had discovered, ones with names like Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, F. Paul Wilson and Tamara Thorne.

A few years later, while working a security post and reading a book a day while on duty, I found a new Dan Simmons novel titled The Terror at the bookstore, which I loved.  Coincidentally, Christmas was right around the corner, so I mentioned to my mom that Dan Simmons was one of the authors that I enjoyed, and, upon her request, wrote down the titles I already owned so that she wouldn't accidentally double me up on any books come Christmas morning.  List in hand, she went to the local book store and asked a clerk if they could point her toward any Dan Simmons' titles they had.


By asking a clerk where the titles were, she discovered that Dan Simmons' titles could be found in multiple sections and bought me every title she could find, four of which were Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion.  

And then I never read them . . .

I don't know why, because by then I was being really adventurous in my explanation of titles that were beyond the genres I typically enjoyed, so it obviously wasn't any issue with the fact that they fell outside of my comfort range.  Instead, I think it was due to that adventurous exploration and because I had gotten so many other titles to read, many being within the fantasy and historical fiction categories, that the Hyperion novels got lost among the stacks.  What's odd is that I did read all the other Dan Simmons titles I had been gifted, so why I didn't grab these during that period is a mystery.  Whatever the reason, I missed them, and then, as happens when you move frequently and have limited bookshelf space, boxed and buried them.

Until last week . . .

Hungry for something new to read, I contemplated venturing out into the holiday crowds before work one day (I do a 12:30 - 9:00 shift at a roadside help hotline when not writing), but then, realizing that such a setting would drive me mad, decided to see if I could find anything within my boxes of books that have been longing for the days when I will once again have bookshelves (I'm in the process of buying a house with my brother that will hopefully allow for such shelves come mid winter of 2015), and, what do you know, discovered my Hyperion collection.

Intrigued and thinking such a book would fit perfectly into that 'something new' category I had been longing for, I brought it to work and, once the calls died down after my dinner break, began reading, and, with the exception of when calls came in during that evening and the next, and the need for sleep, didn't stop until I was finished with the book.  The story was, simply put, amazing.  I loved everything about it, the futuristic aspect, the humans that, while having explored and colonized other planets, still felt like people I could meet on the everyday streets of the present world, the mixing of technology old and new, the familiar conflicts between religions that have evolved with time while still harboring the story-lines and myths that remain at their core, and the mystery surrounding the Time Tombs and creature known as the Shrike on a lightly colonized planet known as Hyperion.  Most important, I wanted to know why the main characters were all chosen to go on a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs to see the Shrike and what their meeting, if they survived the journey, would mean for future of humanity.

And now, I must dive into the next title, The Fall of Hyperion, which will continue the story began in Hyperion, many of my questions having yet to be answered.

I also must find more books and story-lines with the science fiction world, because, given how fantastic this one was, I now feel as if there are hundreds of worlds and story-lines awaiting my exploration, worlds and story-lines . . .

. . . that I will share and recommend on this site when they enthrall me the way Hyperion by Dan Simmons did.  Also, if you all have recommendations on authors and series, I'm all ears.