There’s an App for that…

“There’s an app for that”… possibly the most tired and overused phrase we’ve seen in a long time, and yet it holds true.

There’s an app for just about everything now, more and more every day.

Well, almost everything. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an app for a writer, with the exception of those put out by fans. Certainly none by the writers themselves.

So, let’s try something new… maybe there might be one or two people who’d like to stay current with a fledgling new author and what they’re up to. Maybe they spend most of their time on their phones, and don’t read blogs or visit web sites often.

I thought to myself, “Self? Why don’t you dust off the old app kitchen you once used back in the music world, and cook up an app for a writer?”

And so I did. And you can get your copy free and easily right on the News page of my website:

Capture

It is free, it asks no special permissions at all, and there are no ads in it. It follows this blog, the website, has informational sections, includes free stories to read, *and* episodes from Dennis Serra’s “Evil Podcast” that feature my stories being narrated by Dennis Serra.

“So, what’s the catch?”

Well, there isn’t one. That said, this is only available for Android phones, as the site I use to cook these up doesn’t offer them for the Apple platform. Also, the “About” page says that site (them, not me) may collect some anonymous user data. And when you download this to your phone, you’ll need to allow unrecognized programs in Permissions in order to install it (you can always change that right back after this is installed to keep your phone protected).

I have both T Mobile’s Lookout Pro and McAfee on my Galaxy Note 8, and have never seen an alert flagged by either during any of the test installs I’ve done while developing this app.

And there were many… but, it is ready now, and I tried to insure it offers a lot of info, which will change dynamically, such as the blog. This post, once I finish and publish it, will automatically populate to the top of the list in the app.

Don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool.

Give it a try, and if you don’t care for it, uninstall is a simple long press and tap away. Nor harm, no foul, right?

App Screens

(Just some of the screens you’ll see as you make your way through the app)

As always, sleep well…

 

 

If you can’t beat them…

What is the one thing we can count on seeing, no matter where we are or what we’re doing?

People, young and old, staring at a smart phone screen, that’s what.

I’ve joked more than once about the “Zombie Apocalypse” arriving as I’ve seen entire groups of people staring at their screens completely oblivious to the world around them, but there they are. It’s not just young people either…we’ll be sitting in a restaurant, and see folks my age and older giggling as they swipe their fingertips up and down on that glowing rectangle in their hands.

Then the idea occurred to me – why not cobble together an app that people can download for free in hopes of stimulating interest and new readers?

A light bulb moment!

It has links to the blog (yes, this one), the web site, the Facebook Author page, the Amazon author page, an “About” section, and oh yes….a couple of stories to read, right within the app itself.

I have the means to put this together for the Android platform, but not the Apple side – sorry, I’m a writer, not a programmer, so no offense to the iPhone community, just my lack of coding skills.

I have an early beta version done, and am testing it on my own phone…once it’s completed, I’ll see about how to make it available for anyone who wants it. It will be free, and won’t ask for any permissions that might be problematic for anyone (in fact, the current beta asks for none at all when I install it). I plan to release through the Google Play Store, so the download will be tested and trusted.

Back to work…

Screenshot_20180621-090922_GA Miller

(The advert at the bottom for the app generator will not appear in the final release – there will be no ads in the app at all.)

Sleep well…

 

The Bride…

My wife said she was going to apply a beauty treatment the other night, some sort of “skin mask” engineered to provide deep cleansing…and then she came out of the bathroom. She calls this a beauty treatment, but I call it…

Bride

More good news arrived yesterday afternoon. I joined the Association of Rhode Island Authors this year, as a means of networking and learning from those with more experience than I.

Well, just before the end of a busy work week yesterday, in came an email informing me that my Twilight Zone influenced story, “The Dot”, has been accepted for inclusion in the 2018 ARIA Anthology! This on the heels of being accepted so quickly last week for my EC styled tale in Strange Stories magazine!

Good stuff, all good. I’ve just started work on a new story that I’m going to title “12:45”, in homage to my dear friend Al, who wrote a song by that name many moons ago. The tale has nothing to do with the song at all, but the time plays an important part in the events that are happening.

1245

I’ve spent the morning assembling and installing cabinets that my wife bought at IKEA into our newly renovated bathroom. She is happy, they look good, and she’s already begun populating the shelves, so perhaps I can cobble together something for lunch and then squeeze some writing in!

We shall see…

 

 

I had NO choice at all…

I regularly browse The Horror Tree website, which is a great resource for publishers seeking submissions, in addition to publishing shorts and 100 word drabbles themselves (including some of mine). During a recent perusal, I spotted a call for submissions from a publisher sporting a very distinctive masthead…

strange-stories

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of, and have been influenced by, the great EC Comics line from the 1950’s, and this masthead is a perfect tribute to their own.

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I recently wrote a story in the classic EC style titled “The Wandering Widow Waltz” as a lark, purely as a homage to those great comics. I even created a new narrator named Myron the Mortician, as it didn’t feel right to use the Crypt Keeper, the Vault Keeper, or the Old Witch. New tale, new narrator, same classic style, that was the goal.

Needless to say, I was compelled to submit that story to these folks, just on the strength of that masthead. They strike me as my kind of people.

Will it be accepted? I have no idea, of course, but something tells me it has at least a fair chance. After all… they’re my kind of people.

Time will tell.

Sleep well…

Edited 6/11/2018…Well, here we are, just two days later, and yes…they DID accept the story and got back to me already.

This has to be a land speed record in terms of response to a submission.

Not only did they accept it, they also asked if I’d mind changing the title so it would fit with the artwork on the mockup they sent me:

Read By

Yes indeedy…my kind of people, all right!

See you in the funny pages!

Returning to normal…

Finally…the first morning coffee enjoyed without watching for the contractor to arrive and create dust, noise, and mayhem in the bathroom (located right next door to the home office in which I make a living).

Virtually everything was disrupted for the past two weeks, including my ability to sit in a quiet place and work on writing. Looking forward to the weekend, when normalcy reigns again, and I can write!

All that remains is a deep cleaning through the entire house (sanding dust gets everywhere!) and then my wife can select the new accessories to put into place, and then it will truly be complete.

But….the quiet, the calm, and above all else, the long, hot shower are golden!

Transition

Last night, I did…sleep well!

 

Hectic…

I’ve learned that I don’t really give “routine” its due. This past week, the house has been turned upside down with a full bathroom makeover, 10 yard dumpster in the driveway, dust everywhere, oh and… best hope Nature calls and you get to take care of business before the work begins!

Still, the bathroom is going to be awesome when it’s finished, and it’s long overdue, so…

With all this going on, I wasn’t able to dig deep into the book. I did do some peripheral work, adding a great new outlining program to the lineup, getting the web site up to date, scribbled down a new idea or two to develop later, and also assembled a “line in the sand” project.

I’ve assembled all the stories I’ve done so far in a Word file, and prepped it for printing. I also created a PDF of it as a backup, complete with a working table of contents. I had no real reason to do it, but it was a great exercise in formatting a manuscript in Word for printing, and it will also serve as a marker. This is what I’ve done up to now, let’s stamp it and move on. It’ll allow me to mark my own progress, to see how my writing matured (hopefully) as the stories kept coming out. A chance to read and see why some things work and others don’t, so I can apply those lessons going forward.

Dreams Cover

The bathroom should be done this coming week, so we’re hoping things get back to normal soon.

I want my routine back.

Vacation Beckons…

Both figuratively and literally, as it happens. I am on vacation from my “day job” this week, and then as I lay sleeping tonight, Stephen King’s new novel “The Outsider” will magically appear in the library on my Kindle.

Once that happens, I’ll be on vacation from writing too, as I slip happily into the world that he creates so well… but for the moment, I am working on my book.

I finished the new short story yesterday, and have been working on the book this morning. Thanks to Scrivener, I can jump into whatever part occurs to me, and put everything into proper sequence after the fact, so I don’t need to work in a linear fashion.

(Very helpful when you haven’t done that outline you were supposed to do!)

Yes, Muse… you’re right. I have not done it yet, mea culpa. But I will get to it, probably when the light bulb goes off and I see all the elements laid out clearly in my mind’s eye, I’ll scribble them down like mad and capture them to use as my road map.

In the meantime, I’ll put down the scenes and events as they occur to me, just as I do with my short stories, so they’ll be ready to step into place in that shiny new outline.

I have the foreword (yes, there will be a foreword to stage the story) complete, and it works very well, if I do say so myself.

(OK, fine, it does work well. You’re welcome, by the way.)

Thank you, Muse. Take a bow, won’t you?

Muse

Lunch is finished, dog’s business attended to, and the car has been moved to where it belongs. Time to get back to it.

Sleep well…

 

 

 

Wait, what?

You just never know where the next story idea will come from.

My wife and I have become very friendly with a lady who works at the restaurant we’ve adopted as our “hangout”. As we were shooting the breeze with her last Monday evening, she told us about her husband, a veteran corrections officer who enjoys doing taxidermy as a hobby.

The bells and buzzers in my head went off immediately, ideas flowing like water from a busted hose. That combination just begs to be the basis for a story!

Needless to say, “Model Prisoner” is my current work in progress… I had the first scene completed in my head before I was half way through my dinner that night!

In other news, I just updated the web site this morning, adding a full page blurb for a forthcoming release of my collection, “What If?” I have it staged and ready for widespread eBook distribution, slated for Halloween, 2018. Whether it will also be available in print is undecided as yet.

I have it in the hands of a few beta readers right now, so they have ample time to get back to me with thoughts, opinions, any errors they might uncover, and so on before I pull the trigger to schedule the release.

FullCover

On a sad note, Dennis Serra has announced that he won’t be continuing the Evil Podcast any longer, due to other obligations. I’ll miss his narration, and hope he’ll enjoy the new path he’ll be taking from here on out.

Changing times, changing landscapes, but the writing goes on, as well it should.

Sleep well…

Mission : Possible

Phil Athans is that rare exception to the rule…he can, he does, and he also teaches. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a couple of Phil’s classes at the Writer’s Digest University, and I’ve also read his new book, “Completely Broken”. If you can read this work without a strong emotional response, you should probably be on a watch list somewhere, or at the very least, a perfect bunk mate for Hannibal Lecter.

Phil is that good.

In a recent blog, Phil expressed his strong dislike for vampire stories, because they’re generally the same old things rehashed over and over again, and he is right. Stoker set the bar high with “Dracula”, and it’s really difficult to tell as powerful a story without revisiting Stoker’s work.

Drac Cellar

Oh, and no. “Sparkling” has no place here, never has, and never will. Nope.

I decided to take Phil’s challenge to heart, where he asks authors to try and put a unique twist on the classic vampire tale, and wrote the story “Test Case”, where I’ve tried to put an entirely different character into an untenable situation and then express his take on it.

Just this morning, I received an email from Steph Ellis at the Horror Tree with a contract, stating that she and Stuart Conover, publisher, both loved the story, and would like to use it in their Trembling With Fear section. Needless to say, it was signed and returned with a note of thanks and a smile.

I’ll be sure to post here when it’s released, and then everyone can judge for themselves how I did with my new angle on the timeless vampire tale. Until then…

Sleep well…

Preparations Underway…

Funny, how a self professed pantser is so focused on planning and preparing today, but shit happens, right?

When I write, I start with a very rough sketch, an overview at best, of an idea and start banging on the keys. Most times, the story takes over on its own and I follow along, capturing the words as they arrive. That works for me, at least with my short tales, and that’s what pantsing means. Writing by the seat of one’s pants.

As to the planning and preparing, I’m giving myself a deadline of October 31, 2018…more than enough time for those stories that are now out for submission to have been decided upon by the publishers to whom they’ve been sent, and I’m not submitting any others at this time (except for those offered to the good folks at The Horror Tree and Evil Podcast). As I wait for responses, I’m preparing my manuscript, my collection of short stories for publication. Self publication, that is.

I’m a realist. I know that a self published collection of short stories by an unknown author isn’t going to break through the walls of the best seller lists, and that’s perfectly OK by me.

I enjoy the luxury of writing what I like, when I like, because I do it for the sheer joy of writing it, not to put food on the table or a roof overhead. I have the proverbial day job to handle those obligations.

But I believe in these stories, and I think there are like minded readers out there who will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and I want them to be available to those folks, so one way or another, they will be hitting the shelves on Halloween (my favorite day) of this year.

FullCover

I’ve made a lot of progress in preparing the manuscript for both epub and mobi formats, to cover the ebook markets, and the latest batch of proof copies of the physical book that are in look really good. I’m learning more each day about how to prepare a manuscript to yield a good finished copy.

I’ll update the progress between now and then, and I am convinced that this work will be readily available by my deadline.

Update – I posted in a Stephen King Reader’s group in Facebook and found two volunteers to read the anthology and give their opinions on it. I provided them links to download in the format of their choice, and now the wait begins. I am looking forward to the opinions of complete strangers who are Stephen King fans!

Sleep well…